Category Archives: Musings

Wilderness Girl

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I am truly and sincerely excited about and looking forward to field school…and I don’t know why.

I am the sort of person who, before now, considered “camping” as staying in a hotel that had less than 3 stars. When my family had reunions at a campground, we rented a cabin with electricity and indoor plumbing. The last time I had done primitive camping was when I was in elementary school and, even then, that was just in tents, with real restrooms nearby. I hear people talking about being excited to go tent-camping with their families and I think it sounds more like torture to me. I don’t mean that judgmentally; that’s just my perspective. It doesn’t sound at all enjoyable, and I’m pretty sure I’d be bored silly within the first 24 hours. I don’t “do” nature. I like sitting in a climate-controlled house and looking at nature through the window.

So why is it that I’ve now committed myself to spending a month in a tent, with primitive showers and toilets, for an entire month? And, the bigger question is, how is it that I’m actually eager to do it? Who am I? It’s like I don’t know myself anymore.

The thing is, I am looking forward to it – all of it. I’m looking forward to getting my gear. Now, there have been times in the past when I’ve been excited about something and it turned out that mainly I was just excited about the preparation for it, about getting new stuff. That’s not what’s going on this time. In fact, I’m not necessarily anticipating buying all the things I’ll need. I’m thinking about it, but only in terms of making a list so I don’t forget anything. I’m really not excessively psyched to actually buy it; it’s more like something I have to get done in order to leave. I guess I’d have to say I’m looking forward to being ready to go more than the actual shopping experience. It’s not just that, though. I am finding the idea of being out there in the mountains quite appealing. Again, why? I have never wanted to spend excess amounts of time outside, and I’ve always been someone for whom the idea of being in remote locations was a bit frightening. I like to be in cities, where there are lots of people and lots of things going on. Heck, I didn’t even like the last house we lived in because it was too far from downtown, for my taste (maybe 3/4 of a mile) and we didn’t have many neighbors. Yet here I am in fond anticipation of spending 30 days doing the exact opposite of everything I’ve ever sworn I preferred.

All that is not to mention the fact that I’ll be separated from my kids for ten days at a time (something I NEVER would have considered, even two years ago), for at least ten of the days I’ll be hiking 2-3 miles a day at 8000 feet elevation (I? Hike? Absurd!)…and then there’s the fact that Miss Spoiled-and-Finicky here will be entirely removed from any and all comfort foods and will be relying on the camp food provided by our director to fill me up. Prior to this, the idea of having to eat to live, rather than live to eat, would’ve been abhorrent. Now, I don’t care. Don’t like the food? Good, that means I won’t be tempted to overindulge. Between that and the hiking, maybe it’ll turn out to be a good diet plan. No soda? Great. Excellent time to detox from the stuff.

I keep thinking that, surely, I am in denial and am just convincing myself I am looking forward to this. Or maybe it still seems so far away as to give it an air of unreality – something I’m talking about but won’t actually end up doing. The thing is…I don’t feel like it’s either of those. I do a lot of self-reflection and self-examination, and I honestly feel that I am sincerely thrilled, to my very core, at the prospect of this field school. In fact, there are some days I wish I could speed up time and have it arrive sooner. I don’t normally have that feeling with things I’m dreading. It just amazes me that there is anything that could cause such a 180-degree turnaround in my attitude. What it all boils down to is, this is my future career. It’s the only (academic) thing I’ve felt passionate about, ever. Archaeology is what has the power to make me step completely outside my comfort zone and be happy about it. I never thought I could be someone who could “rough it” for a week, let alone a month. Heck, it’s already making me do things I didn’t think I could do, like the Couch-t0-5k program. I’m running, for crying out loud. I, the person who always swore I’d rather become the 500-lb.-lady than ever take up running. The person who has never kept up an exercise regimen (when doing it on her own) for more than a week or two is now on week four of a program and has no real temptation to quit. Why? Because it’s for field school that I’m doing it. Archaeology is literally the only thing on Earth that has gotten me moving at a pace faster than a brisk walk. And you know all that stuff I said about tent camping? Yeah, I still feel the same way about it as a recreational pastime. You couldn’t pay me enough to take my family out and bugger aimlessly around the woods for days. I have no interest in it. But when you dangle the prospect of a dig over my head, suddenly it’s no big deal. Par for the course. I want to dig and find artifacts and learn to survey, and if it takes me sleeping in a tent and having no Internet access for a month, then that’s just what I’ll do, and I’ll be glad to do it.

And, really, if you have to make your home in the wilderness for 30 days, there can't be too many spots better than this.

And, really, if you have to make your home in the wilderness for 30 days, there can’t be too many spots better than this.

I. am. Ironwoman.*

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(*On  a very, very small scale.)

So, as you may or may not know, I need to get into good enough shape to be able hike 2-3 miles a day, for ten days, at 8000 feet elevation, and I need to do it by the end of May. I decided the solution to this problem was to begin a Couch-to-5k program. I have never had an interest in running; I think it’s bad for your knees and other joints and I think there are other ways to keep yourself in shape. However, I am looking for a set program that will raise my endurance level in a relatively short amount of time, and which also requires no extra equipment and fits into my schedule. It seemed like this program would yield the results I was looking for.

The program involves a walk/run routine. On Day 1 you do a 5-minute warmup walk, followed by alternating running for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds, for a total of thirty minutes. I knew, going in, that I was way out of shape and that I likely wouldn’t be able to finish the Day 1 program right away. I made some deals with myself before I even started. Firstly, I told myself I would do as much as I could and then stop, and not beat myself up about it.  Then I would just keep repeating Day 1 until I was able to finish it all – even if it took weeks. Secondly, I decided that my goal each week would be merely to show some improvement – even if it was only running 15 seconds of a leg I hadn’t reached before. As long as I added just a little more each week, I decided, I’d consider it a victory and be pleased with myself.

I’m now happy to report that the program and the mindset are working well for me. On the very first day, I only ran on three legs and didn’t finish any of them. I pulled up 5-10 seconds short on all three. This morning? I ran six legs – ALL of six legs. And when I looked at the app after I’d gotten back to the car, I realized – there are only eight running legs on Day 1! Having never sat and done the math, I had it in my head that there would be ten or twelve or something. But I am almost able to finish it!

I am amazed and pretty proud of myself. Yes, I know people who run miles and miles just about every day. Compared to that, this is peanuts. Maybe less than peanuts. Maybe only peanut shells. But I have, number one, stuck with the program for several weeks now; number two, continued to improve my endurance every single week; and, number three, gone from being a complete couch potato to now almost enjoying exercising. I say “almost” because I actually still hate it while I’m doing it, and have to keep up a constant litany of pep talk to prevent myself from wussing out. But as soon as I am done, I quickly forget how much it sucked and kind of start looking forward to doing it again. And, just as importantly, I feel proud of myself when I’m done. Today I may have actually fist pumped when I finished that sixth leg (I had started the routine telling myself I’d just do five). I am accomplishing something, and I’m seeing positive results from it. It’s pretty awesome. I never thought I could get into good shape. Now I know I can.

A Day (or three) in the Life

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I never knew what busy was until I started school full time.

I thought taking care of the kids was a full time job. And it is…when they are actually home full time. After they’ve all started school and are gone most of the day, five days a week? I’m going to go out on a limb here and risk alienating my stay-at-home mommy friends by saying no. No, it’s no longer a full-time job. If you are not working and your kids are gone from 8:30 until 3:00 every day? You have time to get stuff done. Lots of stuff. I mean no disrespect; I was one of those moms. I had long stretches of time – years – when my children were gone all day at least a few days a week and I stayed home. There’s no shame in it and my purpose is not to invalidate. I’m merely pointing out, for contrast, that there is a huge difference between being on your own schedule and having entire days free to do what you want or what you need to do, and being at the mercy of a school (or work) schedule and having a narrow window of time in which to accomplish tasks.

Being in school and taking care of the kids would be a lot in a normal situation, but, as you know, I only have a husband/second pair of hands two days a week (occasionally three). This means I’m not only trying to do all these things, I’m handling them alone. I’m not trying to do everything because I’m a control freak or because I feel invaluable if I don’t. I simply have no choice. Not only that, but my going back to school seems to have coincided with the kids starting to do more in the way of activities…or, rather, staring to do more involved activities. We’ve tried to keep it simple. One activity per kid. That’s not too much, right? We have no interest in overscheduled children. However, when I’m doing all the drop-offs and pickups myself, and Madalyn has track practice ending when Eliza’s dance class begins, I have to be in class right after that and I’m trying to figure out how to feed us all in the one free 30-minute window I have — it’s a lot. Forget the kids. They aren’t overscheduled. Mom is overscheduled.

Anyway, my point is I never understood people who, for example, used to be online a lot and then disappeared for a while, claiming they were so busy they couldn’t even pop in for ten minutes to say hi. I didn’t get how someone could not have five minutes to return a phone call, or why they couldn’t manage to drop by a post office to mail something they said they were sending me. I didn’t understand…until now. I don’t call people. Of course, I didn’t before, but that’s because I didn’t want to. Now it’s because that takes time and attention I don’t have. Non-essential errands are way down on the priority list. And sometimes I don’t get online for the first time until the kids have gone to bed. I, who used to be online every couple of hours, all day long! Half the time I truly don’t have the time to do it. The other half of the time I could snatch 20 minutes here and there…but there’s a list as long as my leg of other stuff that also needs to be done, and I have to prioritize. Sometimes I have no choice but to go the responsible route because I know that, if I don’t, I’ll regret it later. If it’s not going to cause me a problem later, well, then, heck yes, I’ll let it slide and check in with my friends. But it’s basically a triage situation, here. Whatever is most urgent goes to the head of the list and the other stuff falls in line behind.

Now, let me clarify: I don’t mean this to complain. This is not a self-pitying post. I feel I must specify this because there is a faction of people online who, apparently, persist in believing I am miserably unhappy with my life. (I’m still trying to figure out what gives them that idea. Yes, I have my mood swings and the tone of my posts in various forums can be affected by that. But I’m pretty sure for every mad/sad/crappy thing I post, I post an equal or greater number of funny or silly or even-tempered things. So, WTF?) To be clear: not whining. I’m stating fact. This is my reality. I chose it, and I’m happy I did. I like school. I like my family. I like people who mind their own damned business. Er, thank you for your concern.

That said, I would like, for no other reason than my own amusement, to type out my schedule for the next three days. It is rather making my head spin…or would be, if I’d let myself think about it as a whole. I’m not, though. The way I deal with it is this: head down, full speed ahead, one task at a time. Tunnel vision. It helps, really. A year ago, if I’d had three days in a row like this, I’d likely have had a nervous breakdown.

Tuesday – Eliza’s Birthday

7:00 – Wake up, get Mad in the shower, fix breakfast, pack lunches. Mad out of shower, I go in. Let Eliza open one birthday present to take to school as show and tell. Take some pictures. Try not to feel badly about not making a bigger deal out of the day for her.

7:55 – Take Madalyn to school

8:15 – Take Johnny and Eliza to school

8:35 – Back home. Fix hair, get dressed.

9:30 – First class

11:00 – Second class

11:15-11:20 (we hope) – Second class wraps up early. Drive across town to pick up cupcakes. Drive back across town to preschool, deliver cupcakes, take some pictures, and beat it back to university

12:30-1:45 – Third class

1:45-2:50 – Free time. Enjoy it. Will be the last for the rest of the day. Intend to take a power nap or get online, but will probably actually end up doing laundry or something I feel I “should” be doing.

2:50-3:00 – Pick up Eliza + leftover cupcakes. Go straight to Johnny’s school to wait in line because thirty minutes isn’t enough time to bother going home.

3:30 – Get Johnny. Drive home. Spend next hour supervising homework, shooing Eliza away from her birthday presents, and nagging people to pick stuff up.

4:30 – Pick Madalyn up early from track practice so we can go to Eliza’s birthday dinner.

5:30-5:45 (hopefully) – Return from birthday dinner. Eliza opens presents. Pictures! More nagging people to clean up things.

6:30 – Back to school, 4th class

7:45 – Return home just in time to shuttle the younger kids off to bed. If they are on top of things they will have showered while I was gone. Otherwise, spend several minutes shrieking at them to “hurry up and get in there.”

8:00(ish) – Younger kids to bed

8:30 – Madalyn to bed. Maybe I can sit down here.

Next!

Wednesday – Alleged “day off”

Wednesday is parent-teacher conference day in our district. Thus, my public school kids have the day off. Preschool child does not. I was looking forward to this, as I thought Mad, Johnny and I could hang out, maybe watch a movie, etc. However. I have a dermatologist’s appointment at 10:30. Also, Johnny’s teacher has scheduled me for a conference at 10:15, which I will have to move (can’t really move the derm., as it takes a month or more to get in there). So at some point I will go to Johnny’s school for his conference. After that I will go to Madalyn’s school for her conferences. It is “first come, first served” for her grade, so I could, potentially, have a bit of a wait if there are people ahead of me. Additionally, she has a different teacher for every hour so I have a lot of people to see. Then I will pick up Eliza at 3:00, come home and likely immediately start on dinner, which takes most of the evening. Day off? Not so much.

Thursday – Is it Friday yet?

7:00 – Wake up. All the same bullshit as Tuesday at 7:00, except for the part about presents. Thank God.

Take kids to school.

9:30-10:45 – First class.

11:00-11:20 or so – Second class (God bless indolent professors).

11:20-12:30 – Ding ding ding! Free time! Go take a nap, dummy!

12:30-1:45 – Third class.

1:50-2:50 – Meet my friend to work out.

2:50-3:30 – Picking up younger kids. Go home, immediately begin preparing to leave again.

4:50 – Drop Johnny off at guitar.

5:00 – Drop Eliza off at dance. Madalyn also gets out of track practice right now. May have to send her uncle to pick her up.

5:30 – Pick Johnny up from guitar.

5:45 – Pick Eliza up from dance.

5:50 – Home, and I guess this is when everyone finally gets to eat, but I’m sure as hell not cooking, because…

6:30-7:45 – Fourth class.

7:50 – Return home, and thank my lucky stars that it’s now my weekend.

Right now the only thing I have scheduled for Friday is taking Eliza out somewhere to spend her birthday money. I’m sure she will wheedle lunch out of me, too. That’s the kind of activity level I can handle.

If nothing else, all this will make me truly and deeply appreciate summer break!

Psycho-roni, the San Francisco Treat (or “How We Narrowly Escaped Certain Death and Dismemberment on I-40”)

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In 1993, my best friend, Robin, and I were carefree 19-year-olds whose scope of experience didn’t extend very far beyond our quiet, crime-free town on California’s central coast. We had begun to experience a bit of the wandering bug, though, and we decided it would be excellent fun to take a trip, by car, all the way to a small town just outside Dallas to visit a former co-worker who’d moved there. We were eager and excited for the adventure and so, with the sun in our eyes, we went blithely tripping down I-40 without a care in the world, until New Mexico, where everything changed: our trip, our sense of security and our world view. New Mexico was where we met him.

He was a man; this much we know for certain. Many of the other details have been lost to history. We do not remember his name, if he told it to us, nor have we any remembrance of hair color or style, age range, or build. Of one other detail, however, we are both now sure: he drove a light blue Honda Civic. It was parked at the rest stop, thirty miles west of Tucumcari, where we stopped, in the rain, to fix a loose windshield wiper blade.

When we arrived at the rest stop, I surveyed the area and decided it was probably safe. In addition to our car there were several other cars, as well as a few semis. At this point, there is a bit of discrepancy in recollection. Robin will tell you that the blue car was already parked in the lot when we pulled in, a few spaces away. However, the way I remember it, the blue car arrived after we did. But, whatever the sequence of events, the car was there and its lone male occupant got out.

The man approached us, after exiting the restrooms, and inquired as to whether we needed help. Robin, standing outside the car, conversed politely with the man while I, sulky, sat inside the car and pretended he didn’t exist. Now, I must explain my lack of attention starting from this point. You see, in those days it seemed to me that guys paid an inordinate amount of attention to Robin. Whether this was truth or merely my cynical perception, when I saw the man approaching I thought, “Here comes another one.” I assumed he was trying to hit on thin, blonde Robin, out here in the middle of nowhere, and not-thin, not-blonde me didn’t appreciate it. That is why when he walked up and began talking to Robin, I completely tuned out. I didn’t look at the man, I didn’t say anything and I didn’t watch when he walked away and got in his car. Fortunately, Robin was a little more alert than I was that night.

The man seemed eager to engage us in conversation and kept talking long after most people would’ve walked away. He was from San Francisco, he said, after seeing our California license plate. He asked where we were from. (Robin, being appropriately vague, gave him the name of the largest city in our county rather than the towns where we actually lived.) Well! By great coincidence, he’d just driven through there not too long before, on business. I wondered why he wouldn’t just go away.

Even then, annoyingly, the small talk continued; Robin wrestling with the wiper blade and saying, “Mmhmm,” politely, and me refusing to acknowledge his existence. After a few moments, he did start to leave, only to stop. “Are you sure you don’t need any help? I have a screwdriver in my car.” (A screwdriver? For a rubber wiper blade? Sure, and if you’ve got  butcher knife why don’t you go ahead and bring that over, too?) Robin brushed aside the offer and the man returned to his car, sat inside momentarily, then departed. Minutes later, Robin had succeeded in forcing the wiper blade into submission and we were back on the freeway, as well.

There in the slow lane, life was still uncomplicated and innocent. So, when we found ourselves approaching the man and his Honda Civic, a few miles down the road, Robin said, “I’ll honk my horn when we pass him, and you wave, to say thanks.” She did and I did, a grumpy jerk of the hand without even looking at him, our chivalrous fellow Californian. I was glad to be rid of him. But then we weren’t rid of him. Although we had come up fairly quickly behind him, passed, and then continued at that rate of speed, he was now catching up to us again. What occurred next was a bizarre game of leap frog, with the man zooming up to pass us then moving over and slowing down so we would go around him again. Robin, more alarmed than I, made a mental note of the Honda’s license plate and said, “That’s enough of this. I’m getting away from him.” She took off like the proverbial bat exiting Hades. As we sailed down the road, we decided that we would welcome a highway patrol pulling us over so we could tell him what happened. We also began to realize how slowly that blue car must have been driving after leaving the rest area in order for us to catch up to him at all. He’d had about a five minute head start. Creepy? Yes. However, as far as we could see, the man didn’t seem to be pursuing us. Perhaps….perhaps we were only paranoid. Sure, he must have been driving under the speed limit in order for us to catch him on the interstate. Certainly he meant no harm. Things like this didn’t happen to us. It was a movie script. It was a “Dateline” episode.

As the man remained absent from our rearview mirror and we approached Tucumcari, our stop for the night, we began to think that maybe he’d just been playing around. Bored on a long cross-country trip, maybe? All things considered, however, we felt it best to get off I-40, so we took the first available exit. It was a long, curving off-ramp that looped around in a u-shape. As we got halfway around the “U”, I turned in my seat and looked back over my shoulder at the freeway and saw a sight that gives me chills even today, in this moment, 18 years later. The light blue Honda Civic was exiting behind us. We’d left it in the dust on the freeway and yet, somehow, the man had caught us. Robin floored it coming off the exit and we rocketed down Tucumcari’s main street. As we swung into our hotel parking lot, which, providentially, was close at hand, we cut the lights and engine and ducked down. When we peeked above the dash there was the Honda driving, driving so slowly–half the speed allowed on the street–and the man was peering intently out the windows.

Being ducked down as we were, we didn’t see exactly where the car went after he passed. All we knew was that when we popped back up the car had vanished and, relief of reliefs, it wasn’t in the parking lot with us. We decided to run for the office to check in. When we got out of the car I noticed that several blocks away, on the same side of the street, there was some sort of light-colored car parked facing our hotel. It was a gas station parking lot but the car wasn’t anywhere near the pumps. It was too far away to tell exactly what color it was and the glare of the reflecting street lights on the windshield prevented me from seeing if there was anyone sitting in it, so we were never sure if that was our pursuer or not.

Once inside the hotel we informed the manager’s wife, who checked us in, what was going on. She was surprised and disturbed by the story. Thankfully, we had especially chosen hotels to stay in that had access to the rooms only from inside the building. Indeed, the only way to enter the hallways of this particular hotel was by going through the front door and coming in contact with the desk clerk, or by having a key to open the back door. We thought we were being safe when we made those reservations, but we never realized just how crucial such safety measures might be. We went back out to our car, with the manager’s wife keeping an eye out from inside, drove around back, and locked ourselves into the hotel with no further sign of the blue car or its occupant.

The next morning we packed and loaded up the car, still keeping a watchful eye on our surroundings. We drove around the side of the building. Robin went inside to check out and I remained behind, cleaning out the car. After ten minutes, she still hadn’t returned so I went inside to see what was delaying her. I found Robin in conversation with the manager’s wife, and what the woman had to say was chilling.

Fifteen minutes after we’d checked in a man had entered the lobby. The manager’s wife felt he was looking for something and he inquired about rates, even though the rates were on the marquee outside. Strangely, he had approached on foot instead of by car. When he left she shrugged it off and went back to work. A minute later she looked up….the man was back. Where could he get something to eat? She suggested the prominently-marked Denny’s, blazing with lights, just a few doors down. The woman was disturbed enough after his second departure that she encouraged her husband to close and lock the lobby doors and windows, an uncommon procedure for them.

With the now certain, unassailable understanding that the man had come for us, we drove across town to pick up breakfast to go. While at McDonald’s, Robin called her parents back in California and gave them a rundown on the situation. She also gave them the man’s license plate. (They, in turn, passed it on to their next-door-neighbor, a highway patrolman.) With assurances that we would be careful and call them as soon as we reached Oklahoma City, we once again resumed our eastward progress, with its unchanging landscape of tarmac, vehicles, tarmac, vehicles.

Somewhere in Amarillo, a driving lifetime away from Tucumcari, we had been lulled into bored complacency as we hurtled along the freeway in the middle of three lanes of traffic, keeping pace with the car around us. Suddenly we were catching up rapidly to the car ahead of us in our lane, and Robin was slamming on her brakes. “It’s him!” I looked, open-mouthed, incredulous–but not at the car. I was looking at Robin. You see, in my fit of pique at the rest stop and on the dark, rainy freeway, I had wrongly perceived the color of the Honda Civic. My mind recalled it as silver and the car now in front of us was pale blue. Robin, though, knew. She knew that we had dodged a bullet only to be fired upon again. She recognized the license plate number of the car that had been keeping up with traffic until our approach, when its speed dropped to under the posted limit.

Acting on instinct, Robin floored the gas pedal and streaked past the car on the left. We were doing eighty, again praying to be pulled over. We seemed to shake the Honda and then shot down an off-ramp, hiding in a grocery store parking lot until we were sure the man must’ve passed. Cautiously, we crept back onto I-40 and maintained the speed limit. A mile down the road–so far, so good. Had he continued east, assuming we were ahead of him, hunting for us? He must have. Except….he hadn’t. We rounded a curve in the road and our jaws dropped, for there, sitting on the side of the highway, was a light blue Honda Civic. And our stalker, the man, our very own homegrown psycho, was standing by the car watching the passing traffic. No time to think or form a plan; remembering a piece of advice I’d heard regarding being followed, I locked eyes with the man and stared him down as we passed. “I’m not afraid,” the look said. “We’re onto you.”

It was our last encounter with the man in the blue Honda Civic.

Had my brief, drive-by confrontation with the man really worked? Was it serendipitous car trouble that prevented him from following us? We’ll never know. But the lesson we learned, the reality that sucker-punched us in the gut as we looked back over our shoulders and saw the car following us off that Tucumcari off-ramp, was this: be aware. Pay attention to your surroundings. Robin did, those two days in the southwest, and it very well might have saved us.

Fairly painless, except….

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Two thoughts about tonight’s Grammys:

1) Maroon 5 loses out to Amy Winehouse & Tony Bennett. Seriously? Okay, they only had the biggest song of the ENTIRE YEAR, but give the award to the dead lady because you feel bad and it’s the only thing she was nominated for. Up yours, Grammy voters. It’s not just that my boys lost; I don’t condone pity awards.

2) Jesse Carmichael, Maroon 5’s piano/keyboard player (and my other favorite, alongside Adam) was not with the band tonight. This has caused GREAT consternation amongst “Marooners” on Twitter, along with wild speculation. Normally I wouldn’t pay much attention to unsubstantiated theories but it is really weird that he wasn’t there to perform. If they’d merely been attending as nominees, maybe not such a big deal. But not playing with the band? Plus he hasn’t tweeted in two days. It’s a bit unsettling. I hope we hear from him soon. Jesse is a wonderful guy, insanely talented, extremely chill, with a lovely soul. He’s a darling and I don’t want to think of seeing Maroon 5 again without him.

Miss You Love You

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That picture? That was my reality Thursday night. Sixth row, center, for one of the best concerts I’ve been to in a long time.

I saw Maroon 5 back in July and didn’t have a great experience. When I was able to snag a seat so close for this show I had high hopes and expectations for a wonderful night and they did not disappoint. I was close, y’all. The picture doesn’t do it justice. Damned iPhone. I was closer than it looks like I was and I could see all of the boys’ faces very well, and it was heaven.

I have been to a lot of concerts. I have seen musicians who looked like they wished they were somewhere else during the performance. On the flip side I’ve seen musicians who appeared to be having a good time entertaining the crowd. But I have never seen anyone who came close to enjoying himself onstage as much as Jesse Carmichael did last night. I’ve never seen someone standing on stage playing and being present in the moment like that. He just seemed so into the music and happy to be alive, right there with us. It was an absolute joy to watch and it touched my heart. He’s a brilliant musician and then to see him being so invested in the performance and taking such delight in it was very special. I wish I could spend some time talking to Jesse because I feel like he’s got a really positive outlook on the world and seems like a genuinely good human being.

I would’ve been happy just to watch Jesse perform but….then there was Adam. Oh, Adam. No matter what was going on elsewhere around the stage, my eyes kept being dragged back to wherever HE was. The boy is compelling. He smiled a lot, which is unusual for him and probably part of why I kept staring. I got a whole different vibe off him than I did at the Paso Robles show. He seemed friendlier, more engaging, more relaxed and like he was having a good time. There was a girl in the general admission section with a sign that said “How” on it (one of their songs). They haven’t been performing it at all – but Adam sang a verse and a chorus just for her, while she bawled. He was simply lovely. And, God have mercy, those eyes. I was close enough to see them pretty well. He’s absolutely beautiful. You have to wonder when you see people on t.v. – do they really look like that in person? They may have twelve tons of makeup on, or be airbrushed in pictures. In Adam’s case, he looks in person just as he does on television – or possibly better.

The only complaint I have is that the show was too short. I could happily have gone for another hour, at least! But was I did get was a thrill. You know how I know it was a good show? When the band left the stage for the final time I had that moment of, “No! Wait! Take me with you! Please!” I haven’t had that since I saw Paul McCartney. I’d have given a kidney last night if they would’ve just agreed to let me stow away in a cupboard in the tour bus. Tonight I felt jealous of the people in Dallas who were watching them perform. And I felt sad that the tour is almost over and that I don’t know when I’ll have a chance to see them again.

Worth every penny. And then some.

(One last random, odd thing I noticed is that the guys’ sizes ran true to expectation. Sometimes you will see people on telly, then you see them in person and they are utterly and completely wee, and you had no idea they’d be that way. Not so with Maroon 5; they all looked as I’d expected.)

Humans Only

Standard

I think we are petless.

Last Tuesday our cat, Grace, ran out the door and we haven’t seen her since. Being that she was raised as an indoor-only cat, she had no collar or tags. She has gone out a few times before and stayed out two or three days, but during those times I have sighted her around the property before she actually deigned to come back in the house. This time, I have seen hide nor hair of her and it’s been six days, not two or three. Tomorrow I will call the local shelter and see if she’s been turned in; however, she is not friendly to strangers and I can’t imagine anyone could get close enough to her to catch her.

I am left with mixed emotions. I am an advocate for animals. I love animals. This was an animal which I committed to care for and I’ve failed in that. As annoying as she’d become, I didn’t wish anything bad to happen to her. No animal deserves an untimely death or mistreatment. I don’t feel like I have any right to hope for or root for another living being’s demise. I was prepared to let her live out the rest of her natural life with us, taking care of her despite her foibles, because it was the right thing to do.

On the other hand, I am now faced with the prospect of being pet-free for the first time in twenty-two years. Since I got my dog when I was 15 I have always had at least one pet at all times; usually more. Besides the obvious hair and poop issues, having pets it also a logistical nightmare for people who travel as much as we do. It adds stress to a situation (getting ready to go on a trip) that already causes me a lot of anxiety.

There’s another thing – the anxiety I just mentioned? It really kicks in when a pet becomes ill. It’s very upsetting to me, not to mention dealing with the prospect of obtaining veterinary care when it’s sometimes not in the budget.

What I’m getting at is, after more than two decades, I am tired. I am tired of hair everywhere, “presents” on the floor every morning, the stress, the worry. I had thirteen – THIRTEEN – guinea pigs at one time, folks. It took me two hours just to clean all the cages. I spent thousands (yes, thousands) of dollars on vet care for them, ferrying them back and forth from where we live to an exotics vet in Guthrie (110 miles ONE. WAY.). I spent countless hours doing nursing care on sick guineas at home and had genuine anxiety and a legitimate grieving process when each was sick and subsequently died. It still hurts my heart to think of Cosmo, our cat who went missing a year ago, and, not only that, I still have never gotten over the death of my dog, Baby, over ten years ago.

I’m officially exhausted.

I’m exhausted from both an emotional and a practical standpoint. I am ready to not have to clean up barfed-up hairballs and crap from the floor and to not have a fine coating of hair on everything I own. I am ready to prepare for a trip and only have to worry about packing clothing and stopping the mail; maybe getting my brother-in-law to stop by just once while we’re gone to check on the house. I feel like I’ve given all the concern and affection and time that I can muster to pets and I don’t have any left. When having pets ceases to be a joy and becomes drudgery, it’s time to stop having pets.

I just wish it had happened with a happier ending. I’m sorry, Grace.