Archive | August, 2012

Another Box Off the Bucket List

24 Aug

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently went on an RV vacation with my au pair family.  Many of you who know me have probably asked your computer “why?!” very loudly; both of my parents laughed when I told them, and I don’t blame them.  I am not a camper, despite having been a camp counselor and owning fancy hiking/water sandals.  I like hotels.  I’m down with crashing on your couch, but I’m not really up for sleeping on your floor.  I do not take pictures of scenery when I encounter it, nor do I like to spend much time outdoors not lounging or eating.  So an RV trip does not seem like it should fit, but I was asked suddenly and my natural inclination is to say yes to things when they are directly asked to me, and I’d never been to New Mexico, so off I went into the great blue yonder.  Most of the details of the trip are not stunningly interesting, did you all know that when you RV you drive around a lot?, so I’ll just share some quick facts and anecdotes here and the couple pictures I took (John took enough for all of us combined, but I’m not sure they’ve been uploaded to a computer yet, so maybe expect to see a few of those later).

To start off, here’s the RV!

A 31 foot long home away from home, complete with four queen-sizedish bed, one sort of functional TV, a fully functional kitchen, and an airplane bathroom! Everything a girl could want.

  • The first morning in the RV Verena climbed up the ladder to my bed above the cab shortly before 7am and chirpily said, “Wake up!  It’s morning!”  Luckily my heavily sarcastic, “It certainly is,” only registered on a basic level.
  • I had my first sopapilla in Santa Fe.  It’s this crazy fluffy bread that you then put honey on and eat as a side to your New Mexican meal.  That stuff is amazing.  Since it’s essentially a pillow of bread with a hollow center, I am thinking of using one as my home in the future.  Concerns about the stickiness of honey are being dealt with.
  • Spanish Catholic paintings of saints are terrifying to unreligious children (or all children?).  While Katrina was beating a hasty retreat I learned that sometimes you are allowed to be crucified with your top hat on.  Choices for fashion, colonial saint style?
  • They don’t teach children to make clover chains anymore!  After driving for several hours in corn fields in southern Colorado on gravel roads we all needed to stretch our legs and eat some food, so we stopped for Subway and brought it to a conveniently located park in a tiny town (with proper paved roads).  While Verena was still having an excellent time playing Rapunzel (starring Barbie or Mandy Moore, it was impossible to tell), Katrina was beginning to grow bored and whiny, so I asked her to make clover chains with me.  She looked at me like I had three heads, asked me what clover was, and how to make it into a chain!  So I taught her and we spent a lovely half hour adorning ourselves in clover.  Eventually Verena joined in to make clover rings (due to an unwillingness to learn the complex technique needed for a necklace), and Katrina and I made her things to wear too.  Here are Katrina and Verena wearing what we made.  You all know how to make these right?  It’s a pretty necessary childhood skill!

This is also a pretty deec shot of the inside of the RV. Above the driver is my bed!


  • Toboggans do not work on sand dunes.  Nonetheless, the Great Sand Dunes National Park is pretty cool to wander around, and there is a park ranger named Jed who should run for president based on folksiness alone.  Young Jed Bartlett, anyone?
  • White water rafting is terrifying, especially when you go with two 11-year-olds who are not too good at listening to directions or rowing.  I think I almost died.  I know I almost died on the side of the gorge going down the poorly kept gravel road in 31′ RV to get to the river.  I am certain part of me died when we all realized the gravel road was entirely unnecessary, there was a paved road we could have taken.  Other than these completely legitimate fears, would recommend.  A grown man named Billy will expertly lead you and definitely bring you back alive.
  • Septic tanks are hard to empty.  And they smell.  Really.  Bad.
  • Scenic trains are neat.  Also useful when you need a moment alone, as the noise stops many conversations, and the peace of nature can soothe even a mind which was awakened three times in the night and then very early in the morning.  Naps: also available.  We went on one which boasted some particularly impressive views and a lovely southern man to tell us about the area, which felt a little bit like being home for Thanksgiving.
  • Hikes led by 55-year-old women are just my speed.  Ours included some super awkward conversations about the Lord, but ancient cliff dwellings were pretty much worth it.
  • By far my favorite moment of the trip though, and one of the final RV related moments was in the bathroom of the RV park we stayed at in Colorado.  I went in to take a shower in the morning and turn myself into a functional human being who can speak to other humans with civility and grace.  First I had a long conversation with an older woman about her grandchildren and her entire plan for the day.  Then, after my shower another woman came in.  We both said good morning and nothing else until, as she left, she told me to have a good day, and when I responded likewise she asked me, “Would you like a Biblical tract?”  Which is obviously a totally normal thing to ask a person as you are exiting an RV campground community bathroom at 8 in the morning.  Since I automatically say yes, I accepted, thinking this would end the conversation early.  It did not.  Then she asked me if I was a Christian, I responded specifically to show I wasn’t lying to get her to stop talking to me (who falsely claims to be Presbyterian?  No one.  Obscure enough to be believable, actually true for me so I can pull it off, and Protestant, so surely she can’t object since she’s plainly not a Jesuit or a nun!).  Despite this she asked me if I was saved, if I “knew where I was going if I died tonight,” AND if I’d accepted Jesus Christ into my heart.  Everyone, it seems I look every bit the heathen, and I really think she was disappointed by my insistence that I have it under control, at least religiously.  Then she left, without another word.  Note, to anyone likely to hand out a Biblical tract in an RV bathroom: not before noon.  Definitely not before 8am.  Also, there’s persistence and there’s persistence.  Come on, Joyce.  Be cool.  Also, make sure your Biblical tract isn’t just a page from the King James Version of the Bible in tiny font.  That is not convincing!  Luckily this gave me so much to talk about at breakfast I let my coffee get cold.  That’s right, everyone.  This all happened pre-coffee.  Frankly, it’s a wonder anyone got out alive.

So, those were my most notable bits.  New Mexico is pretty, Colorado remains pretty, both have some cool stuff going on.  RVs are not my favorite.  I am still not a morning person.




Perceptions, Perceptions, Perceptions!

20 Aug

Ugh, you guys, I am the worst at blogging on a schedule!  In my defense, the Olympics happened and I was gone on an RV vacation (“vacation?”) for a week, so I’ve been busy, y’all.  Super busy.  Or something.  Whatever, either way, I’m back on the horse, this will be the last post I will start with an apology because I am going to start posting more often!  Like, at least once a week.  If I don’t, feel free to send me abusive emails or texts, dear followers.

That nonsense/hopefully not empty promise out of the way, I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for awhile, because I need some help understanding something: what do I look like to the casual passerby?

I ask this not simply out of vanity, but because I’ve noticed something changes when there are kids with me.  First, I get flirted with a lot more often.  By old dudes and young dudes, dudes trying to sell me stuff, dudes we stand next to in line, dudes of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and dispositions, and it is weird!  This seems to happen most often when I am with just Verena.  For example, when at the farmer’s market instead of just trying to push product on me or seduce Verena with offers of juicy strawberries, I got asked about my smile.  Or I have been told I’m the best part of a soccer coach’s day as I haggardly kick a ball accross a field in an attempt to be on time to her practice, coffee in one hand, smelling no doubt of a mixture of my and Verena’s sweat after spending at least ten minutes putting on her soccer shoes (cleats?  I literally know nothing about soccer)  in the car.  Or I got howled at on my way to Target (by some punk teenager in his mom’s car, while she was driving.  In retrospect, this might not have been flirting, but it was certainly something which I still do not understand), or told I “dropped my smile” on my way in to buy gummy vitamins.  While I was on the phone with my mom.  At first I thought perhaps it was that I am not constantly wearing headphones or walking intently when I’m with kids, but this would not expain these last two incidents.  Then I thought it was because Californians are in some way strange, but I have known Californians before and they have been no more strange than people from any other state.  Currently, I am flummoxed.  Flattered?  But flummoxed.

Furthermore, no one seems to have any idea of how old I am.  Two days ago I ordered a margarita at a Mexican restaurant with the whole family and not only did I get carded, but when the waiter saw I was 22 he looked at me, startled, and said “you look much younger than that!”  What does that mean?  Do I look sixteen?  That much younger?  Do you think I’m in high school?  Early college?  Elemantary school?  I just pretty confidently ordered a mixed drink at a table with adults, how young do you think I am?  Also, I have never looked young for my age.  I was a super tall baby, I was a super tall elementary schooler, I was a super tall and responble/arrogant high school student, I am a super tall somewhat-mature-looking twentysomething.  I get carded, but not that intensely, and no one ever doubts the validity of my license.  Additionally, a few days before the margarita comment, someone though Katrina was my daughter and I was married to John, who is my parents’ age.  Now, I could be Verena’s mom, if I’d made some different decisions with my life, she is five, I am twenty-two, I would have been seventeen when I had her.  Not that weird, pretty believable.  Katrina, however, is eleven years younger than me.  If you’re doing the math there, that means I would have been eleven when I had her.  If you assume I could look maybe twenty-five (the waiter, I’m sure, would object to this), I would still have only been fourteen.  And Katrina looks thirteen herself, she too is of the super tall ilk.  Does that mean I look thirty?  Older?  And this was said by an adult woman, not a five-year-old who thinks everyone is the same age as their parents if they’re old enough to be in charge!

I don’t know anymore.  I don’t know anything.  Before, I thought I looked my age and sent out some pretty intense “don’t chat me up, for I am not interested” vibes.  What is this strange world I’m living in?  Can anyone help me?  What are the children doing to me!

Confusedly, Bemusedly, Bad at Coming Up with a Third Thingily,