Thoughtful Thursday

The topic I have been thinking about lately happens to be remarkably similar to the Creating Motherhood summer camp prompt for tomorrow. The first part of Calliope’s question:

If you could live anywhere for one month this summer, where would it be and why?

Because of my sort-of limbo, I’ve been thinking about a lot of different scenarios. A semi-permanent move (with or without selling the house) is one option, for a year or two probably. Or, if the house continues not to sell, we could go somewhere for a month or two. We could go somewhere that we wouldn’t want to live permanently but where one of us could find some intriguing temporary career opportunities. Or, we could go purely as a getaway (that is, rather than working from home, we’d both work from a temporary home in a different city).

In a way, we can almost go anywhere. Some possibilities are more exciting than others. For the option where we go for a couple of months, some really exciting possibilities start coming into play.

Here are some places that have come up in our discussions.

This part of limbo is really fun.

If you could live anywhere for a month or two, where would you go?

(Sorry to my RSS subscribers about the truncated feed — battling a fucknut blog scraper.)

Day 20 of blog summer camp at Creating Motherhood.

Today’s prompt: What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you? Did you repay the kindness? Did you blog about it?

Due to a confluence of ongoing limbo, the most hated person in my life pulling her same shit, and having to spend most of my time doing things that are neither enjoyable nor beneficial, I’m in a bad mood today. Then I saw the Summer Camp topic and thought, “Oh good, this will lift my spirits.”

And then I couldn’t think of anything.

I racked my brain and couldn’t think of any big kindness anyone has ever done for me.

Little ones, sure, but nothing extraordinary.

Which is pretty sad considering that I try very hard to be kind to others.

On an earlier day of camp I talked about birthday cakes. I have baked literally dozens — I’m sure well over 100 — birthday cakes for others, and in my whole life no one has ever baked me a birthday cake. Unless you count the ones I’ve baked for myself, which really shouldn’t count. Boo hoo, poor me. There’s no shortage of cake in my life, but still.

I don’t bake cakes so that others will bake them for me. I don’t perform kindnesses so that others will be kind. I do it because I do it. But when all I can recall are mediocre store-bought sheet cakes and some extraordinary unkindnesses, it makes me sad.

Finally I thought of a set of true kindnesses I’ve received: the relatives and friends who came to stay with us when Burrito and Tamale were tiny.

And several people who drove an hour or two to visit when I was in the hospital trying to prevent Burrito and Tamale from being born too early — including my massage therapist, who not only drove far but didn’t even charge me for my hospital bed massage.

Or the neighbor who left me flowers on the day that my mother died, the note unsigned and saying nothing except a little heart. Which normally would be a small kindness, but on that day was huge.

Or today when I glumly asked, “Who wants to give Mommy a hug?” and Burrito ran over as he usually does and threw his arms around my neck. Then immediately after Burrito finished his hug, Tamale, who loves to give kisses and does hug back but never initiates hugs, for the first time ever, came over and hugged me.

I would gladly exchange a lifetime of sheet cake for those hugs.

Summer Camp Day 5

July 5, 2011

Day 5 of blog summer camp at Creating Motherhood!

Today’s prompt: What do you prefer to do on your birthday?

When this gray world crumbles like a cake
I’ll be hanging from the hope
That I’ll never see that recipe again
It’s not my birthday
It’s not today
It’s not my birthday, so why do you lunge out at me?
–It’s Not My Birthday, They Might Be Giants

Birthdays were all about duality when I was a kid. As an only child, I was very much the center of attention any day of the year, but on birthdays it was over the top. At the same time, my mother so often seemed to pick my birthday to be miserable to me. I don’t know what baggage my birthday stirred up in her, but especially as I made my way through the teen years, I could count on my mother supplying an unnerving combination of hundreds of dollars of presents and endless hostile harangue.

My first year at college, there was a startling change. There was no drama from my mother. There was also no fanfare. Actually, there wasn’t really any acknowledgement. My RAs had decided to combine my birthday with two other birthdays in that month, at the time of the other hallmates’ birthdays, 3 weeks after mine. My parents didn’t send me any presents, maybe assuming that we’d go shopping the next time I saw them, or that I’d treat myself on their dime. I received zero presents. There was no drama from my mother, but there was plenty of drama from me. Oh, the fit I threw to them on the phone.

Then there was the year I had to work at the Worst Job Ever on my birthday. Special highlight: I finished my shift covered in bruises.

My snubbing continued further when I got my first job after college. I became the in-house baker, and for everyone’s birthday I baked a fabulous cake, exactly the kind they liked best (angel food cake for the dairy-free girl, Black Forest cake for the German, a rum cake for the boozer, etc.). Each person got their own cake, even when it fell the week after someone else’s. I lugged every one of those cakes on the subway! When my birthday came, just like in college it got combined — with three other birthdays. Three others! Spanning two months! Since I couldn’t bake my own cake, the secretary purchased… a sheet cake from the grocery store… a yellow sheet cake with disgusting white icing and inedible flowers. Not only was it horrible cake, but it wasn’t even a flavor of horrible cake I like! Outrageous! “The cobbler’s children have no shoes.”

Since then, my birthdays have thankfully been free of drama and filled with proper cake. There’s a shirt I like to wear on my birthday; nothing special about it, except that I’ve worn it on almost every birthday for almost 20 years. I often seek out marvelous desserts, sometimes beloved favorites and sometimes exotic new treats. I don’t care about presents or balloons or fanfare. Just don’t make me cry or beat me up, and give me some good damn cake.

I don’t know if it’s anyone’s birthday, but I bet the other campers will share some cake with you!

Summer Camp Day 4

July 4, 2011

Day 4 of blog summer camp at Creating Motherhood!

Today’s prompt: What has most surprised you about being an adult?

When I was a kid, anything seemed possible if you worked hard enough and wanted hard enough.

When I became an adult, I learned that some things are close to impossible no matter how hard you try and how hard you want, like getting pregnant.

I also learned that you can’t count on very many people in this world, even in your own family.

I learned that intelligence, education, and hard work don’t get you nearly as far as connections, charm, and getting intelligent educated others to do the hard work for you.

Bonus: A reprieve of Summer Camp Day 1! Specifically, a photo of my temporary blogging spot, one weekend only. It looks an awful lot like camp, but it was actually a weekend getaway on a lake. Although it wasn’t camp, there were canoes, watermelons, and bug spray.

There are lots of other adults at this camp!

Summer Camp Day 2

July 2, 2011

Day 2 of blog summer camp at Creating Motherhood!

Today’s prompt: What were you like in high school? What extracurricular activities, if any, did you take part in during high school? Did you consider yourself a writer?

I was an artsy brainiac, but it was a prep school so nerdiness was acceptable. I was a very A- student: I preferred to study for 2 hours and get an A- than study for 20 and get an A, particularly since I had so many other things to do.

My college application had 12 blanks for extracurriculars. I had so many that I had to leave some of my activities off of my application.

Among the activities:
yearbook editor-in-chief
newspaper section editor
drama, one or two plays per year
3 choral groups
algebra tutor
president of environmental club
wrote poetry and articles for local ‘zine
dance club participant and teacher
ballet and jazz outside of school
rock climbing (on actual rocks, before the days of artificial climbing walls)
summer job in the administration building
French literature reading group (in French)

This doesn’t count as an activity, but I was also an early adopter of online interaction, using Prodigy extensively as well as individually run online BBS. I wasn’t as nerdy as that makes me sound.

I considered myself writer more then than I would now, since in high school I poured my soul into poetry and kept a journal, but in terms of output I do far more writing now.

Want to meet and join the other campers?

Summer Camp Day 1

July 1, 2011

It’s the first day of blog summer camp at Creating Motherhood!

Today’s prompt: Provide a photo or sketch or dramatic rendering of the space where you normally blog.

I have chosen to provide a sketch, drawn on a magnetic doodler. It depicts my dining room table, where I blog most often. I sit in the chair closest to the foreground on the right; the chair to my left (and the one across the table from it) are high chairs. There is a large window overlooking the forest. The dots on the floor around the high chair are peas and grapes that I haven’t yet cleaned up.

Go meet the other campers — and join us!

Thoughtful ThursdayCalliope at Creating Motherhood has declared the month of July to be Blog Summer Camp! She has offered a prompt for each day. I plan to participate sometimes, in part to encourage me to write shorter blog posts.

For Calliope, camp means sitting at a long table and getting to know people.

For my husband, camp meant “lots of Judaism.”

For my college roommate, camp meant unsupervised time alone with boys.

For the camp counselor I had when I was 9, camp meant humiliation. She got her period in the pool, and everyone saw the cloud of blood, and everyone gossiped about it, and everyone gave her funny looks, every day, until camp was over. The rejection trickled down to her campers; I remember some kid saying to me, “Wait, you’re in Julie’s cabin? Ugh!” and then walking away. At the time, I only vaguely understood that my counselor’s embarrassment had something to do with her vagina.

For a close friend of mine, camp meant getting molested by the assistant director of the camp. He was not fired, but instead confined to desk duty with no contact with the children. He continued to glare at her through the window of his office.

For one of my sisters-in-law, camp meant another social world in which, unlike school, she had real friends. It is telling that her first email address incorporated the name of her summer camp. Through all of her tween years, she would talk all year long about the birthday party she’d have at camp, the activities she couldn’t wait to do, and the friends she couldn’t wait to see who were so much better than anyone at her stupid school. In her wildest dreams, camp would have meant home.

For me, camp meant getting the hell away from my parents. And mosquito bites.

What does/did camp mean to you?