Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Unwelcome Blast from the Past

I recently signed up with Facebook. Due to sick kids, work deadlines, and other life issues (a.k.a our pool installation and a visit from the in laws) I've been too busy to even slap up a proper page with photos or anything personal there yet. Yet with just my name out there, I am shocked at how many people have emailed me. Old college buddies, a few former coworkers, some cousins. Nice. But then today an email from C., a former friend during high school, landed in my box. Yikes.

I wish I could write a generic version of exactly what happened between C. and I, so that people could understand the nature of my dilemma now without baring the naked, ugly details. But to simply say "C. betrayed me" doesn't do it justice. I think I have to give the skeleton of the details for perspective. Which makes me feel edgy and a little flummoxed ... but here goes:

C. and I were pretty good friends throughout high school. In college I was roommates with another of our mutual high-school friends, Z. During one of those stereotypical train wrecks of a party in my junior year of college, I drank waaaay too much and passed out. While unconscious, Z.'s boyfriend r@p.ed me*. But Z.'s boyfriend denied the se.x wasn't consensual. Z. believed him. One long-term aftermath of this was that my old high-school clique split into two factions: one that still associated with Z. and immediately dropped me, and one that shunned Z. out of disgust, since they believed I wouldn't lie about the r.@pe.

C was part of the Z. camp. I never actually heard that she called me a liar directly, but even so, she never spoke or wrote to me again after she found out about it. That's pretty much calling me a liar with her actions, if not her words. And now there is a breezy, dippity-do-dah type email in my inbox from C. saying "Hi, at last! I was wondering where you landed and now I see it's the West Coast! I'm doing blah-blah-blah in X state ..."

How is one supposed to respond to an email like that, given what went down so many years ago?

Really, I'm at a loss at the moment. Opinions would be greatly appreciated.

*Also stereotypical was my 21-year-old reaction to the I didn't go to the ER for an exam and never reported it to the police. So it was my word against his when I finally shared my story with friends.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wabi Snobby vs. Wabi Foxworthy. (They Have a Fight. Foxworthy Wins.)

Due to the hilly topography around here, our house has a lower and upper backyard. Nine months out of twelve we use the hell out of the lower yard, which sits directly behind the house and includes a covered patio and grassy area. By comparison the upper yard is all wasted potential with a side of weeds. Although it’s pretty big by urban standards and fairly flat, we have yet to figure out what to do up there. You have to go out the side gate of the lower yard to reach the path that leads to the upper section, which is awkward. The upper yard is also hidden behind a large hedge, which is good for privacy from the neighbors, but bad in the sense that the hedge blocks view of the upper yard from the lower one. Since the girls are too young to play unsupervised in an area I can’t easily monitor, we hardly ever set foot in the upper yard.

In Target this weekend I suddenly hit upon an idea on how to use that upper yard. Standing in seasonal sporting goods the pools caught my eye. Hmmm, I thought. What if we stamp out that weed problem by taking out the sod and installing a pool?

As soon as I considered it, I found two sides of myself arguing passionately right there in the store.

Snobby Wabi said, “You have got to be kidding me. NOT an above ground pool. It’s so tacky.”

To which Foxworthy Wabi said, “Oh hell, YES. Suit up and get wet!”

Snobby pointed out that nobody else in the neighborhood has an above-ground pool. What would people say?

Foxworthy said she’d be having too much fun splashing in the pool to hear what people say.

Snobby fretted that the neighbors with the bare trellis fence on that side of the house would not be pleased to see the screaming-blue visage of our pool looming next to them.

Foxworthy said those folks should have grown some freaking vines on their trellis at any point in the last 30 years before complaining about lack of privacy now. Plus a pool might motivate them to go in with us on a better fence next year. “Two birds with one stone!” Foxworthy trilled.

Snobby said she wanted a classy pool. An in-ground pool. One with a stone deck and maybe an attached spa.

Foxworthy pointed out that short of winning the lottery, the classy pool was not going to happen while the kids were still kids. Especially since we never, ever play the lottery.

I drove home from Target and asked DH what he thought. He doesn’t have as much redneck in him as I do, so I figured he’d turn pale at the very thought of an above-ground pool and say it was out of the question. Instead he said, “Hey, we wouldn’t have to mow up there anymore! And you’d get to swim with the kids and cool off on the really hot days when the house turns into a kiln. Let’s do it.”

So we checked into the zoning and permit requirements and found out we were good on all fronts. Next thing I knew we were whipping out the credit card and ordering a pool online. It’s on a truck rumbling across country toward our house as I write this.

So, after all the years I spent fleeing my Upstate NY hillbilly roots, I find myself embracing them again. I still wonder what the neighbors will think about the pool. But not enough to give up trying it out this summer. Ever since I was a kid I've dreamed of having a pool of my own. But my family was pretty poor and I never had that pleasure. Now I'm going to be able to see the glee on my kids' faces and feel the exact same emotion stir inside me. What could be better?

This feels like a big milestone. I mean, I know it's a ridiculous thing, just a pool. But that's the point. For many years now I've felt like I just didn't have it in me to put forth much extra effort in life beyond what needed to be done to keep everyone clothed and fed and breathing without a tube. When you are in survival mode due to fear or pain or grief, it's all you can do to grit your way through each day. And now here I am, debating whether or not my neighbors will dub me a redneck if I get a pool. What could be more frivilous? It's like I'm almost ... normal. Something nearby normal, anyway.

Yee haw!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Event that Wasn't

I have (oddly) fond childhood memories of getting minor frostbite on my toes while waiting for a torch to be trotted past me on the way to the 1980 winter Olympics at Lake Placid. So when I heard that San Francisco would be the only North American stop for the 2008 Olympic torch relay, I immediately wanted to bring Big A to see it. San Francisco usually throws a fine public party. In addition to the music, dancing, and pageantry, San Francisco seasons these events with a whole range of protesters and a light sprinkling of nudists. That's just how we do it out here, and for the most part, it works out fine.

After the protester mayhem that occurred in London and Paris, I considered not taking Big A after all. But in the end I simply went early, assuming any problem protesters were likely not locals, and would therefore be sleeping off jetlag while Big A and I walked around the plaza in the morning.

Big A loved the BART commute. "Our train is the biggest thing in the WORLD," she marveled as she watched Oakland streets zip by far below the elevated tracks. In San Francisco we checked out the Olympic flags and music first. I explained to Big A about how the torch goes all the way around the world to where the games are taking place. Big A was duly impressed. I talked about how China is very far away, a beautiful and interesting country. I said I would love to travel there with her someday.

Then we made our way over to the side of the plaza where the protesters gathered. It was hard to know exactly what to tell a four year old about all the "Free Tibet" signs. So I just said that even though China is full of fabulous things and people, it is not perfect. Sometimes China has been a very bad neighbor. Sometimes it mistreats its own people, too. So a lot of people were protesting to try to get China to behave better.

I wondered if Big A would be confused by the two radically different stories about the same place, but she just accepted it all, as four year olds sometimes do. We walked around some more. She marveled at the balloons and banners. I bought a "Hot Chicks Dig Obama" button from a guy wearing a "peace for Darfur" shirt. Big A received an "honorary SFPD" sticker from a policeman, and the nice bomb squad guy let her pet the explosive-sniffing dog. We eventually met up with DH (who works downtown) for an early lunch.

By that time Big A was overstimulated and tired. She was too jumpy to eat her sandwich. Helicopters circled overhead and Big A began shouting at them to stop bothering her. Even though it was only 15 minutes before the torch was supposed to arrive for the welcome ceremony, I decided to leave right then rather than deal with a huge meltdown on the BART platform if I lingered much longer.

It was only later in the day when I turned on the radio that I learned San Francisco opted to scuttle the originally planned event. They raced the torch through parts of town where nobody was expecting it. Well, maybe raced is too strong a word -- apparently the lines of police around the torch bearers were so tight that they couldn't really run at all, but just sort of shuffle along en masse.

Inspiring? Well, I suspect Big A will always remember her first BART ride. But for the rest of public out there waving the whole range of signs and flags? Feh.

Sure, San Francisco foiled any rowdy protesters from dousing the torch flame by doing what they did. But thousands of people waited downtown to catch a glimpse of it, and SF doused something in them instead.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Low Tide Near Trader Joes

One of the loveliest things about living in this area is
what may lurk just behind a dull and dreary strip mall.