Ex Hoss Ted

Yesterday was my first day of school.  It was more likely my 20th first day of school, but, you know: my first day of school on this attempt.

I spent most of last week making sure Drew, Jess, and I were properly outfitted: supplies, clothes, books, schedules, hair-dids, whatnots.  As Monday approached I prayed for a surge of energy to get me through.  A little ripple of nervous energy managed to help, but not enough.  I started a very early morning with my needle closer to E than F.

Too soon, I found that I have a long hike from car to class, comprising about three city blocks and two sets of steep stairs one-way.  It’s a hike I will make 4 times a day, twice a week, unless I can find a better place to park.  I will also make about 10 different trips, on school days, in order to accommodate the cast of characters who still require my taxi services.  After just one day of all this schleping back-and-forth I’m pooped!  I tried to blog yesterday, but even my writing was tired.  Mellow Yellow Monday?  Forget about it!

As I trudged back to my car during hike #4…quads shaking, calves cramped, sweat dripping down my spine…I spied an alumni banner that gave me pause.  They’re all over campus, these banners:  notable alumni with a picture, a name, and a list of accomplishments.  This particular one was Myron Tarkanian.  The face wasn’t immediately familiar, but the name hit me like a ton of bricks.  Tark.  I had him for PE the last time I was here, about 18 years ago.  He was the kind of coach that yelled and teased, ran you nearly into the ground, and instantly became your favorite.  One day, as I chased the rest of the class up and down a stairwell, I heard from two floors above me, “Hey, McCarthy!”

“Wwwwhat?”

“I saw your husband yesterday.”  (He wouldn’t know my husband from Bill Clinton)

“Oh yeah?”

“He said I’m not working you hard enough!”

“He’s a damn liar, Tark!”

And here I am, 18 years later, ready to drop dead only halfway through my cross-campus trek and just up from that hellacious set of stairs, face-to-face with Tark.  Ain’t that a bitch.

Other than being utterly and completely exhausted, I had a good day.  I got into Creative Non-Fiction, for which I was on the waitlist.  The teacher seems fun, so I’m very optimistic.  My second class, Intermediate Composition, I’m not so optimistic about.  I make 3 trudges and 8 car trips by the time I get to that class in late afternoon, and the teacher is dry as Death Valley.  I had a hard time staying awake as he droned through the syllabus.  He perked me up, however, when he asked us all for a writing sample.

I will go back tonight to try to get into another class, U.S. History to 1876.  I’m taking it to help Shelly.  She needs it, but I’m afraid it’ll be too intense, so I’m taking it with her.  It’s not the best reason to take the class, but I’ll get degree credit for it and it does sound interesting, so what the hell.

I’m off to finish my homework.  Stay cool today!  And Happy Birthday to Esther!!!

Noncation, Day 6

This is way late, because frankly I got sick of it.  Recording every day was like being on a vegetable soup diet.  Day one is, “Yay!  Vegetable soup!  Skinny me!”  Day six is, “%^&* this %^&*ing soup and the $%^&ing idiot that came up with it and %^&* it I like being fat anyway.”  Okay not that extreme but you get the idea.  This blogging stuff is hard work.

Day 6

7:30 am:  Wake up for no good reason.  I decide I should clean up a little:  do the dishes, take out the trash.  I turn on the water in the kitchen to let the hot water warm up.  I decide it’s too early for such nonsense.  I turn it off.

8:30 am:  Put the last two farmer’s market eggs on the stove to boil.  Jess calls.  She and John are back on dry land.  Dry land is moving.  She caught five fish:  two dorado, two yellowtail, and one bluefin.  John caught a bluefin.

Fishie fishies

Jess’s catch

There are people at the dock who will process the fish and ship them to you.  Jess and John are having the bluefins made into jerky and the rest fileted.  Jess says that each fish took about 15-20 minutes to pull in.  She caught two more, but lost them when their lines snapped.  Her hands are bruised.  She’s exhausted.  Everything smells like fish.  She hopes  they can take the 5-day trip someday.

9:30 am:  Hear a squeaky pop from the kitchen.  I was so excited about the fishing trip that I forgot about my eggs!  Nothing burnt or ruined, but the eggs might be a little over-cooked.  I fill the pan with cold water and set it aside.  I toast a couple slices of the garlic sourdough.  One of them contains a whole clove of sweet roasted garlic.  Divine.  The eggs aren’t too bad either.

9:45 am:  Hit the Internet for information about these fish Jess caught.  I learn that Bluefin are tuna; yellowtails are jack fish, which are similar to tuna; and dorado is another name for mahi-mahi.  I foresee Jessica’s mother eating very well in the near future.  Perhaps I should look up some recipes.

11:45 am:  Drew sends a text, asks if I’ll pick him up and bring him back here.

1:00 pm:  Drive home.  Seeing the inside of my own home for the first time in days seems surreal.   It’s such a luxury to take a shower with my own soap, dry off with my own towel, and have all the beauty products I want at my disposal.  Being home means not having to go without or make due.  What an epiphany:  to truly appreciate what I have.

Drew tells me all about how he spent last evening.  He donned a fez and technicolor suit, which were recent birthday presents, and met some friends at the weekly street fair down the street.  He bought himself a Dr. Who mug.  He wants to be the next Dr. Who and will wear a colorful suit.  His friends have nicknamed him The Doctor.  He’s thrilled.

Someone recently accused him of being influenced by a “fallen angel” and even asked Jess, “He’s getting darker, isn’t he?”  Here’s my answer to that:

Suit and Fez

The future, multi-hued Dr. Who.

Enough said.

3:00 pm:  Drew is craving McDonald’s fries.  I treat us to the drive-thru.  Tasty, but that’s it:  I’m officially declaring my intention to cook real food again, good readers.

3:30 pm:  Shelly and the folks tumble through the front door.  Mom and Rob collapse into chairs.  Shelly empties the car with a look on her face that says she’s the only one who does anything around here.  Mom says unpacking can wait.  Shelly won’t hear of it and pretends to be annoyed.  I think it’s just excited energy.

Last night they discovered a place about a block away from their hotel called the Forestiere Underground Gardens.  In the early 1900s an Italian immigrant bought a chunk of land in Fresno, CA, intending to grow grapes.  Alas, the climate was too hot and the ground too clay.  He dug through the clay and built himself a cellar to escape the heat and plan his next move.  He discovered that the soil under the clay was rich and fertile.  He planted trees and vines in open subterranean rooms and created a whole complex of underground caverns.  It was one of the highlights of their trip.  If they had come home last night they would have missed it.  I don’t want to say I told you so, but I told you so.

The kids and I, even Joe, score all manner of souvenirs:  mugs, teas, trinkets, t-shirts, jewelry, and a fat wad of cash for my trouble, which was no trouble at all.

(Don’t get excited: it’s already gone.)

And with that, Noncation 2012 comes to an end, while my humble little life goes back to normal.

Noncation, Day 4

Day 4

7:00 am: Wake up against my will.  No one has called.  It’s freezing!  These mornings sure are cold for summer.  The weatherman assures me temperatures will be up in the 100’s (Fahrenheit, upper 30’s Celsius) by next week.  Yuck.  I’d rather have the cold mornings.

8:30 am:  Actually get out of bed.  I need to eat and take supplements before I get dopey again.  I remember some multicolored eggs in the fridge that I purchased at a farmer’s market last week.

Thursday eggs

Multicolored eggs.

Waffles sound good, too, but cleaning a waffle iron does not.  Thin crepe-like pancakes it is.  I use a 1/4 cup scoop because I can’t find the 1/2 cup scoop.  I open the box of pancake mix and find the 1/2 cup scoop.  Oh look!  Some small moths found it first!  Clever little turds  So much for pancakes.  Fortunately I also bought a loaf of garlic sourdough bread from the farmer’s market.  Toast it is!

9:00 am:  Check Facebook and email while I eat.  The garlic sourdough is strong.  Good thing I’m alone.

10:00 am:  Post “Noncation, Day 2” blog.  I try to fix the glaring hot spot in the picture of my parents.  It doesn’t work.  I search the internet for a picture of my laptop skin.  No luck.  I manage to take a decent one myself for the first time ever.

Thursday laptop

Laptop skin: Xmas present from Shelly.

Pictures from John’s prom and cherry picking last month distract me.  I have the prom photos edited and saved,

Jess B4 Prom

(Actually, I stole this one from someone else)

but not cherry picking.  It must be done immediately.  There is no good reason for this but I give in to my ADOS anyway and work on the pictures.

ADOS – Attention Deficit Ooo Shiny

12:20 pm: Memory card is cleared.  All pictures have been edited and saved elsewhere.  I feel better now.

Cherries

Bing and Rainier cherries

1:20 pm:  Famous Amos cookies and milk for lunch.  I find an email from Esther about a guy who needs editors for an on-line literary review he’s launching, called the museum of americana.  He’s looking for slave labor.  I’m so on it.

2:30 pm:  Sahara is sitting on the chair in front of my computer.  She meows at me when I approach.  I lift her up and put her on the floor.  She jumps on the table and walks on my laptop keys, trying to destroy my latest blog post, still meowing.  I put her on the floor again.  She jumps on my lap, still meowing.  I’ve never seen her so vocal.  I start to stand up, but she refuses to jump down.  What is wrong with this cat?  She finally jumps down, only to spring right back up onto my newly vacated chair and  start meow again.  Okay okay, I know when I’m beat.  I clean off another chair containing my purse and laptop case to pull up to the table, but no sooner is the chair clear than Sahara jumps from her chair to this one and proceeds to bathe herself, purring away, completely satisfied.  Unbelievable.  I text Shelly:  “Your crazy cat just asked me for a chair!”

3:00 pm:  Succumb to a sugar coma.

6:30 pm: Wake up from my sugar coma.  I flip on the computer and read an article about how sugar ages your skin.  I swear off sugar.

7:25 pm:  Realize I forgot to feed Shelly’s fish.  It’s the first thing on my list of morning house-sitting duties.  Fail!

7:27 pm:  Find a spelling mistake on yesterday’s blog post.  Epic fail!

7:30pm:  Talk Joe into taking me to a restaurant called The Only Place in Town for dinner.  I call Drew to ask if he’s eaten.  He says he has.  I don’t believe him.  He’ll live on popcorn and birthday cake if I let him.  He says he had popcorn (see!) and Wing Stop (chicken…okay, that’s better). Now if I would please excuse him, he’s in the middle of taking out the trash.  I think I might faint.

8:30 pm:  Shelly calls.  They are in South Lake Tahoe, which is the California side of Lake Tahoe.  (Nevada is on the other side.)  Not too long before she called, she and Mom were laying on a bed in their hotel room watching TV.  Mom was propped up on pillows at the top, Shelly was laying cross-wise at the foot.  Mom got up, and the whole matress flipped up like a backwards murphy bed:  the head of the mattress was near the ceiling and Shelly was at the bottom clinging on for dear life!  They’re both still giggling as Shelly tells me the story.

I talk to Mom and ask about the rest of their day yesterday.  She says by the time the car was done they’d had just about all they could take of Reno  They headed to Virginia City, NV, an old silver mining boom town from the 1800s.  It was hot.  Uphill.  Miserable.  They walked through town, then hightailed it back their hotel in Carson City, NV, to recover in their air-conditioned room.  They spent today at Lake Tahoe, which is much cooler and beyond beautiful.  Tomorrow they’ll head to Columbia, CA, an old gold mining boom town turned tourist trap…I mean, tourist “destination.”  Sarcasm aside, it’s really a nice place to visit.

9:00 pm:  Feed Sahara.  She’s waiting for me.  She now understands that I’m here to serve her.

10:00 pm:  Joe sends me a text from home.  Drew has indeed taken out the trash AND fed the cat.  He must want something.

12:00 am:  Conduct my nightly house-sitting duties.  Leave a kitchen light on.  Go to sleep.

1:00 am:  Sahara is trying to hog the bed.  I remember a trick Rob taught me to make her go away:  pretend to sneeze.  I literally say the word, “Ah-choo!” and she bolts out of the room like a bat out of hell.  I have the room to myself for the rest of the night.

Noncation, Day 2

7:30 am:  Wake up against my will:  Shelly is calling on the house phone.  They are at a rest stop outside of Mammoth Lakes, CA.  Their car won’t go more than 30 mph uphill, so Rob is replacing the coils.

8:00 am:  Might as well start my day.  Shelly’s shower has a neat “mist” setting, but I can’t figure out the hot water.  (Bathroom renovations were a DIY project, so the hot water situation is tricky.)  I head to my parents’ bathroom for a normal shower.  I count 4 bottles of shampoo, 3 bottles of conditioner, and a bottle of men’s 3 in 1 body wash/ shampoo/ conditioner, or /moisturizer, or /whatever.  Mom’s hair is buzz-cut and Rob’s isn’t much longer, so why they need so many wet-hair products is beyond me.

9:00 am:  Head out to breakfast with my laptop.  I try to pull yesterday’s pictures off my camera’s memory card, but I freeze my beloved computer.  I imagine that it’s saying, in a very robotic voice, “Does not compute…does not compute…”

10:00 am:  Start chatting with a friend.

1:00 pm:  Finish chatting with a friend.

2:00 pm:  Arrive at my own home to check on my offspring.  I take Jess and John to pick up some last-minute odds and ends for the fishing trip.  I invite them to dinner.  We call Drew to invite him, too.  He’ll come, but Jess and John didn’t tell him they were leaving and now he’s upset.  Normally, that would make him happy.  Looks like PMS today.

PMS: Pre-Manhood Syndrome.  It’s the same as female pre-menstrual syndrome only cheaper, cramp-free, and less predictable.

3:00 pm:  Meet with my coach, Claire.  Coaching is hard to summarize, but I’d say Claire is a mentor who helps me move forward when my life feels stuck.  An early session went something like this:

Claire – If you didn’t have any worries and could do anything in the world, what would you do?

Me – I’d go back to school and become a writer.

Claire – Go back to school.  Become a writer.

It wasn’t that simple, but you get the idea.

4:30 pm:  Compose “Noncation, Day 1” blog post.  I resolve the problem with the photos.  I realize I haven’t taken any new ones today.  Bummer.

6:30 pm.  Arrive back at my parents’ house.  Shelly sends me a picture of the folks from her phone:

The Folks

Mom and Rob on vacation.

I text back, “They’re still smiling!  Good job, Shell!”

7:30 pm.  Dinner at Robin’s BBQ.  The food is marginal and the service is worse.  I remember thinking the same thing last time we ate here.  I decide not to eat here again.  Someone at another table orders the Big Messy Sundae.  It’s a huge dessert goblet dunked in hot fudge, rolled in pecans, and filled with a half quart of ice cream, more fudge, and whipped cream.  John’s jaw drops to the floor.  I decide I might come back, but only for dessert.

9:45 pm:  Braid Jess’s hair into two tight French braids so she won’t have to bother with it on the trip.  I haven’t fed the cat yet.  Usually she’s at her dish crying by now.

10:30 pm:  Joe takes everyone home.  Peace and quiet at last!

11:30 pm: Put wet food in Sahara’s dish.  I bang on it hard with the spoon so she can hear it wherever she is, but she’s a no-show.

12:00 am:  Conduct my pre-bedtime duties.  I see Sahara outside, so I try to coax her in.  She stares at me like I’m a monkey, then gracefully ducks under Rob’s car.  My instructions are to lock the cat door and block it with a huge rice container whether Sahara is in or out.  I guess she’s out tonight.

12:30 am:  Crawl into bed.  I only leave one kitchen light on this time, but I fall asleep with the TV on.