As the Atlas of our family, my shoulders are weary and my head’s nearly overflowing. An ear/nose plug combination might make sense because sometimes there’s dead certainty my brain’s leaking. Yet, it’s all good. I think it'll stop when our chicks fledge. Someday, I hope they’ll have respectable wingspans casting wide shadows through city canyons, over mountains and across oceans. Please, if you're a mother and know for an honest fact that mental load increases with fledglings, please don't tell me. I'm not capable of handling that news. If you've been there I've no doubt you understand and would lend a soft shoulder with a knowing stroke of my hair. I need to go see my grandmother.
Don’t think I’ve ever had so many extra servings of life choices heaped on my plate at once. It feels overwhelming. Follows is what I can publicly write about.
I’m guiding my oldest daughter through the college/scholarship application process. [Message to the Cosmos: Please give her hefty financial aid with generous scholarships. Returns on this investment will yield high. She has serious talent, a sharp mind and one hell of a will. Trust me. I battled that will through preschool and adolescence never raising a white flag. Want to see the scars? That will? It’s hungry to thrive in design school.]
My youngest daughter, my sweet Pi, is entering 8th grade. We must select a high school choice for the following school year by December. Denver Public Schools offers a system of choice, both blessing and curse.
Guess the Cosmos sent me an answer to the question of a third child in that debilitating car accident ten years ago. The Cosmos does reply. Sometimes the answers have a wicked sting that can make one feel a bit stupid for asking.
Mr. Golightly has taken up running 100-mile races in the high peaks of the Colorado Rockies, above 10,000’ altitude. I’m certain he’s running away from the fact his daughters are growing older and there’s nothing he can do to stop that. Seems to me you need a damn good reason to run a 100-mile race. Training for that is like a second full time job. So many ironies and metaphors.
Me? I’m now 46 and a half. My body’s doing freakish things, lady things. Mother Nature, could you please do that to men? In case you have noticed, man invented Viagra. This presents a serious conflict of interest. (No. Mr. Golightly has no affiliation with the drug. He’d want me to clarify that.)
Toss in trying to start a second career in the wreck of this American economy. I hope never to work as a retail store greeter because it would not be pleasant, think demonic. Every job's a fight these days. I don't blame any specific person or party for this because we've been on bad road for decades. If Charles Dickens were still alive he'd have a wealth of material if he could stand being in America long enough to collect it. Also wondering if the US Fish and Wildlife Service can skip Threatened and label the American Middle Class Family as Endangered. I nominate myself as poster child. I pray to always have a place to live, not be a burden to my daughters and have a time in life when I don’t need to breathe into a paper bag when the bills arrive. Yet these are indeed first-world problems well the exception being a place to live.
Again, my head’s packed. Probably why I’ve not written in years. No space to make personal flourishes. Hope to have that space again but these days I rely solely on bread and butter when it comes to design so it’d better be artisan bread and honest, freshly-churned unsalted butter.
Factor in I could care less about the mindless trending flock. I didn’t buy jeggings, think layering is a rip off, am certain the 80’s should never come back and admit high heels are a bitch and the pain of wearing them makes me one. The purpose of a high heel is to pump up the calf muscle. Instead, jump rope for a few minutes a day, you’ll get the same results without bunions and you won’t walk like Bigfoot and be in denial about it. Want to be taller? Cork platform sandals or clogs. I cannot scream loud enough, “Leggings and camisoles are foundations! Going about in them is like running around in your bra and underwear. I don’t care if you’ve the body of an Olympian.” So my mind is packed but it’s not packed with crap and I’m not fooling myself. Least I think I’m not. Truthfully? I don’t have time for a double check.
A packed head makes it really difficult to face the start of a new chapter. A girlfriend and I were having a spirited conversation over gingered spirits discussing our subscription to uniforms. We lamented our 20's and 30's. In our 40's we’ve about four clothing combinations we rotate without thought. Wake up, brush teeth and hair, slap on number two and out the door we go. It works, only if the choices are wise. I receive compliments from strangers and need every one to help me deal with the lady things happening without my consent. Contrast that to my petite Poet, a 17-year-old dervish of multiple combinations of clothing before finding the perfect ensemble reflecting her mood at that specific moment. From about a block away, I hear screaming a curse she didn’t go with the eighth creation but she’s practically late for class so what’s on must do. Her room is a chronic swamp of clothing. I can write this for she knows this to be true. Fortunately there is a door to that room and I keep it closed, not for privacy but to save my sanity.
Petit Poet wishes to be a graphic designer. I talk in terms of her intended craft, “Remember when you were in 5th grade and discovered the gazillion typefaces available and felt this compulsion to mix them all up? You thought Helvetica was boring because it didn’t have an abundance of serifs and disjointed lines. As you grew and honed those observations you began to understand the eloquence of Helvetica. See how this relates clothing?” The blank stare of her saucer blue eyes is my answer. This astonishes me that such a brilliant mind can have such a blank look. My conclusion? It's not ready to accept truth and, for whatever reason, needs a few more moments of denial.
It seems as though many teen girls presently prefer to shop in stores that create the mood of a hypomanic episode. Sadly there are plenty of stores that purposefully build this environment because apparently, it drives stocks. Why a company would want to create an environment similar to a serious, painful and disabling mental illness is outright shameful. Just walking into those stores makes me want to find a psychiatrist and a pharmacy pronto. Think about it, this is how our culture is setting up our children’s spending behavior. With the turn of one generation, there’s been an explosion in available and accessible choices in consumer goods and there are no filters helping those coming of age to navigate this mess.
Here’s the precious nugget: You’ll spare a load of headaches and save a lot of money if you make it a standard to wear black and serve white. Of course this can be pulled out of thrift stores to save you even more and engage in reuse practices that save in energy costs. Yup, we’re using up energy when we shop. A lot of energy. America has yet to come to terms with our fickle and changing tastes in style that send us back to stores monthly for a new fix, making more waste. One thing I can say is that it fuels American thrift. There's so much volume flowing through homes, we'd have to have quarterly yard/garage/tag sales to keep pace. So, off to the thrift store it goes, sometimes tags still dangling.
Wear something black. Black is flattering to all skin colors and it rides through all seasons. It’s eloquent. As a child I was taught black is for funerals. On my own in Chicago as young professional I discovered the value of a black ballet top, black wool turtle neck, black pencil skirt, black cigar pants, black beret for bad hair, black stockings in winter. Sweet freedom with style and I still have a few of those items. Psst! With the exception of the t-shirt, try to avoid black in cotton jersey. It can compromise the integrity of a strong, solid black. However, there are quality jerseys that will stand the test of time if washed as a delicate and line dried.
When serving, it’s white. Fine white porcelain or English ironstone will always flatter the tabletop. Make it as simple as possible. What really needs to be emphasized is the food on the plate. I’ve white Noritake porcelain, antique J & G Meakin, Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, and Bauhaus from thrift stores. Guess what? It mates up beautifully and looks awesome for casual or guests. It just means I’ve to up my cooking standards but that’s okay. Though one time there was some confusion, my family prepared a birthday meal for me and served one of the side dishes in a 100-year-old ironstone chamber pot.
Wear black and serve white, a shopping mantra that will last a lifetime and save money and headache. Make that your foundation. Add flourishes when you've the mental space to do so. If you don't have the mental space, at least you'll still receive compliments on a sturdy framework.