…or maybe not. I can’t decide. Maybe the internet can help me?
A brief history of my hair:
I had long hair until I was 14. I got a very unfortunate haircut the day before freshman orientation, which was as tragic as you’d expect for a teenage girl. The hair grew. And I didn’t really cut it much after that, until my first marriage started to fall apart and I figured, what the hell? Let’s cut the hair off. It made me feel free and daring and so I kept it short for a long time. I got married with a pixie cut. I looked adorable. See?
I’ve had lots of variations on the short theme since then. My friend Karen once called me “the girl of a thousand haircuts.” And it’s true. My mom has had virtually the same hairdo for my entire life, so, you know. Figure it out, Freud.
So, anyway, I’m 43 and I think the cute pixie ship has sailed. But I think I want to cut my hair off. The long thing is annoying me.
Bini’s got a little kindergarten bromance going on with another kid in his class, a kid I’ll call Marco. To hear Bini tell it, Marco is the best football player in his class and the best runner in the whole school. All the boys like him, and all the girls have crushes on him. (Bini has learned what a crush is — “it’s more than like but not as much as love.”)
Every day, we talk about school — how it was, what he did, who he played with at recess. Inevitably, Marco is the leading man, with several other supporting players. Marco knows how to read. Marco can do s’es better than anyone in class. Marco gets to buy lunch every day. Marco gets to stay for after-school care.
Marco, Marco, Marco.
I also hear about other kids. There’s Inesh, who pulls the erasers off all the pencils. And, Angelica, who uses potty words. I envisioned, respectively, a kid who was one step away from mutilating animals and a little girl who was Ke$ha-in-training.
Last week, I volunteered at Bini’s school for an art class. I was interested to see Marco, and Inesh and Angelica, along with the aforementioned extras. I was ready to size them up, and if they were little menaces, maybe put clay down their shirts.
They all trooped in to the Art & Science room, tiny little people in pigtails and light-up sneakers and Captain America t-shirts. They sat down and started to do the art lesson, and I circled the room, looking for kids that needed assistance. Inesh was struggling to turn his clay into an egg, so I helped him. “Thank you, Bini’s mommy,” he said, with eyes as big and brown and shiny as a puppy’s.
Angelica, of the potty words, finished her clay project early and moved on to the painting portion. When I walked over, she was mixing red and white to get pink. “Nice job with the mixing,” I said. She beamed. Later, when I circled back, she pointed to a flower she’d painted. “I made that for you,” she said.
And then, Marco. He and Bini sat next to each other, making their clay creations and mixing all the paint colors to get a dull brown. He didn’t look like a football phenom or more crushable than my adorable son. He actually seemed to be … quite taken with my boy. Or, at least, the admiration was mutual.
“Bini,” I heard him say more than once. “Watch this.”
Then, two minutes later, Bini would say, “Marco, look what I can do.”
Later, when Bini was at home, I asked him if he wanted to have Marco come over to play. To my surprise, he shrugged. “Sure, I guess.” This was puzzling. Usually, Bini’s on me to set up play dates with his buddies.
It occurred to me that maybe Bini doesn’t yet want his mommy involved in this particular friendship. Marco is the first friend he’s made entirely on his own. I’m not friends with his mother. The two kids didn’t meet at a playgroup when they were 18 months old. And as much as he cherishes his pre-kindergarten friendships, this one is special. I think I get it. Kindergarten is the beginning of my son having a life completely separate from home, and from me. And that’s … OK.
If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably had some baffling run-ins with Facebook friends: Out-of-the-blue defriendings that feel as hostile as a slap, friend requests from people you don’t know, rants from a guy you barely knew in high school about the sanctity of the Second Amendment.
So, how do you know if your Facebook “friends” are really friends? Here’s a useful guide, which is by no means comprehensive.
High-school reunion friends: You know it’s time for your high school reunion when you suddenly get a flood of 25 friend requests from people you nodded to at lunch or took shop with. Haven’t spoken to them since high school, and you haven’t spoken to them since you accepted their friend request.
Facebook takers: You know these people. They really irritate me. They post things like: “Wow! I just lost 1,000 pounds and I’m so happy!” and they get 65 likes and 200 comments. But the person never says, “Hey thanks!” or reciprocates, like actual friends do. They’ve never liked your kid’s baby picture. Never wished you well on your birthday. Prime candidate for defriending.
Real friends: These are people who actually engage with you. Some comment on every post, and some only comment occasionally, but you know they actually, you know, LIKE you. I have some real friends that I see in real life, and some I don’t see at all. One of my favorite real friends I haven’t seen in over 20 years, but we’ve rekindled a tight friendship on Facebook. Fortunately, most of my Facebook friends (including the ones reading this post — thanks guys!) fall into this category.
Friends for political reasons: They don’t pick fights, and they’re mostly silent, but defriending would be decidedly unfriendly.
Stalkers: Friends who never post and never comment, but when you see them in person, they can recite your posts from six months ago.
Friend of your significant other: This one comes courtesy of Steve. He says he received friend requests from friends of mine just so they could see pictures of my kid.
Pokemon friend: Gotta catch ’em all! Friend you added a long time ago, when you first joined Facebook, but you have no idea who they actually are. Prime candidate for hiding. See also: Promiscuous frienders.
Likers: They won’t commit to commenting, but they’ll like the hell out of your photos, your status updates and even your comments on their page. Likers are the Switzerland of Facebook.
Family: People who can be counted on to chime in and embarrass you with anecdotes about your teenage years. Or your prom pictures. See also: Friends for political reasons.
We’ve been back from Paris for two-and-a-half weeks, and I think that’s adequate time to recall the things I like better about the United States versus Paris. It’s a rather short list. But in the interest of balanced reporting, I felt obliged to represent the opposing view to this post.
Toilet-seat covers. These handy, hygienic things are very helpful if you’re a woman who finds herself in need of a public toilet. When I went to Thailand and Ethiopia, I adjusted my expectations regarding public restrooms. But when I’m in France (or Canada, for that matter), I’d rather appreciate a little paper barrier between my bum and everyone who’s gone before me.
Large bathrooms. This time, I’m actually referring to the bathrooms that people have in their apartments in Paris. Or, at least, the apartments we looked to rent while visiting Paris. We looked at a ton, on Airbnb, New York Habitat and Paris Perfect, and the bathrooms were bitty. Showers fit for hobbits. Counter space to fit a toothbrush, and possibly your toothpaste. (I did like the electric towel dryers, though.)
Beds for tall people. I’m not sure how European couples manage to sleep an entire night together, but there’s no way in hell Steve and I could have managed a week in Paris in a double bed. We did that shit when we were dating, but when you’re 43 years old and an insomniac, you need at least a queen.
English. I crammed for Paris with Pimsleur’s Conversational French CDs, and while I was there, I actually got into the French-speaking groove. It’s just that when you ask a question of a French person in reasonably convincing French, they will answer you in French. Rapid-fire French.
My family lives in the U.S. My child was in Redmond with my parents while Steve and I were gallivanting in Paris, and though I am happy to have experienced the city without him, I did want to reunite with him eventually. And then there’s the rest of my family. They all reside here. Steve’s family too. We’d miss them. But, there are airplanes.
That’s because every summer, I delude myself that maybe, maybe our climate is changing. Warming. Like the rest of the planet. That maybe, maybe the gorgeous, lazy, long summer days we enjoy from July to September will … extend a little later. Or start before July 4.
You get sucked in, you see. For those precious, brief three months of summer, the entire region collectively develops amnesia. Everyone puts on shorts and grills outside every night and the ice cream shops do brisk business. When I worked full time, I remember e-mails that said: “Nice out. Taking off early to go for a bike ride.” Everyone understood. In summertime, all is forgiven.
Then, fall comes, like a giant, gray garage door closing. The nights get chillier, the leaves start turning yellow. And just when you’re starting to despair, you’ll get a week of incredible, mid-70s weather and it’s like, “Screw you, pumpkin spice lattes!” But it’s just the last gasp. It’s over.
The shorts get put back in their plastic tubs and stored in some distant closet. The kids go back to school (well, THAT part is good) and grilling gets replaced by roasting pans and goddamned root vegetables. The puffy coat comes out of hibernation. You flip on the light box. You gather every bit of solar strength you retained over the summer and hope it can hold you until July. If you can, you plan a trip to somewhere sunny — anywhere, San Diego is fine — around February.
I’m a California girl: Born in Los Angeles, brought up in sunny San Ramon, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Went to school at UC Davis, where the temps languish in the triple digits from May to September. The closest I’d come to gray skies, before moving to the Pacific Northwest 8 years ago, was a stint in the Sunset District of San Francisco. There, the fog would hang so heavy and thick in the summertime that Steve and I called it Fjordland. I thought Fjordland prepared me for the Puget Sound.
There’s not much I can say about Seattle-area weather that hasn’t already been said. I think the situation is best summed up by this Oatmeal comic, called “The 4 Seasons of Seattle.” Eight years ago, Steve and I flew up to house-hunt in August, when it was 78 degrees and gorgeous, and it stayed light until 10 p.m. “This place is paradise!” we marveled, and then we bought a house.
Two months later, when I drove up from the Bay Area with my brother, it started raining right after we crossed the California/Oregon border. My brother, also a sunshine child, turned to me and said, “Are you sure about this?”
But eight years later, I’m entrenched. I have a life here, and friends. My kid’s school is around the corner. My husband loves his job. And last year, we passed a same-sex marriage law at the ballot box — didn’t need to get the courts involved. Washingtonians have a Scandinavian, shrug-your-shoulders attitude about stuff like that. You want to marry another man? Okee doke. Want to smoke dope? The cops have some Doritos for your munchies. It’s too wet for lots of fiery rhetoric, I guess.
When I go back to California, I’m turned off by the brown hills (Golden State? It’s brown). The wall-to-wall traffic makes me claustrophobic. Yes, Seattle has lousy weather most of the time, but it’s green and lush. The mountains are amazing. So is the water. And when the sun’s out, it’s so very breathtaking. I can’t count all the beautiful days I spent inside when I was a Californian — I didn’t appreciate it at all. But here, if the sun’s out and it’s 55 degrees, the parks are teeming with kids and people put on shorts.
It’s late October. The leaves are swirling on the ground and I can see my breath when I go outside to do the walk-pool in the morning. It’s time for The Great Darkness. Maybe this year, the weather won’t bother me as much as it usually does. It’s possible, right?