Thursday, August 9, 2012

Twenty Seconds

My friend P and I met during our first period class on the first day of high school.   I managed to see her  through my mass of 1989 Jersey hair, which, sadly, was crimped for first day of school stylistic effect.    It's entirely possible that my hair and my braces outweighed the rest of my 4'10", 75 pound body.  Thankfully (or regretfully),  my "claw" of Jersey bangs propelled me over the then-elusive 5 foot threshold.

I managed to see her through HER mass of 1989 Jersey hair, which reached dazzling heights courtesy of a Stiff Stuff/Aqua Net cocktail.  (You Jersey girls out there know exactly what that entails). Her hair was naturally curly---an attribute I envied for years.  Her name was alliterative--an attribute I envied even more.  For years.

We became fast friends.

Alphabetical order was also our friend, and P sat right behind me in nearly every class for 4 years.  

We shared a middle name (though I'm not sure if either one of us actually liked it), the written word, an outlook on life and wicked sarcasm.  We both got great grades and had extremely strict parents.  Neither one of us had ever taken so much as a step out of line.

We also shared a mutual desire to maximize our parents' tuition dollars by spending as little time as humanly possible actually paying attention in class.

Frankly, I'm amazed we learned anything at all.  

Our shared love of sarcasm and the written word led us to our enduring legacy--- the notes we passed, back and forth, all day long.  

We quickly learned that so long as you wrote the proper school heading on the top of the notebook page,  our teachers believed that we were ambitious and getting a head start on our assignments instead of screwing around all day, discussing those matters that teenage girls find to be so pressing.  Many of them were laugh out loud funny.  Some were funny on the surface, but actually thinly veiled something much more substantive just under the surface.

I kept every one.

Actually, I'm not amazed we learned anything at all.  We learned everything that mattered.

Life happens and it changes and it twists and it turns, and I lost P for a number of years.  I thought of her on my wedding day - the day my name FINALLY became alliterative, too.  

And then, years later,  I found her again.   It was then that I learned that you don't ever really lose that which is part of you---it simply resurfaces when you are ready to see it again.

We were great together as kids.  We've even better together as adults.  We still share a love of the written word, and an outlook on life, and our wicked sarcasm.   We also share the experience of a parent with cancer (the same kind, to boot, and it's not a common kind), a few battle wounds,  and our imperfectly wonderful only children---who are partners in crime.  We have taken steps out of line, and we've made some dubious choices and plenty of mistakes---and we've ended up exactly where we should be.

You don't ever lose that which is part of you.

We don't pass notes anymore, but we've found an even better way to communicate our irreverent thoughts.  

Yay Facebook!  Yay, Pinterest!  

I am absolutely a big fan of a source of convenient witticism for people with kids and jobs and chronic exhaustion that precludes us from inventing our own original irreverent thoughts much of the time.

Here are some of the classics that P and I have recently shared:

True dat!

Welcome to my world

C'mon, you know you've thought this

Sluts are people, too

And then, P shared one that truly resonated.  Like the shake-you-to-your-core kind of resonate.

Twenty seconds.  Twenty seconds.

Lives catapulted from fine to amazing.

Twenty seconds of courage.

All it takes.  Twenty seconds.

P has her own absolutely remarkable 20 second story---but that's her story to tell and not mine.  So I won't tell it---but I will say that P's bravery is otherworldly and the dividends were huge.

But I've catalogued my own inventory of 20 second moments.  My life---my messy, overbooked, chaotic, richly rewarding life--- was MADE in less than 4 minutes.

Those little twenty second bursts of humiliating, no-hold-barred courage----they made my life.

I'm convinced that those 20 second moments are almost always blurted out---hands shaking, voice shaking, words partially incomprehensible---and in those moments, we are at our most "real".

At least mine were, anyway.

20 seconds of:

I like you----please like me back.
I like you---please be my friend and play with me.
I like you---more than I originally intended
I think I love you----please love me back
I think I'm broken---please fix me
I messed up--- please forgive me
I'm miserable---please help me fix it
I need a friend----please take me in
I think I can---and I'm gonna try
I think I can- will you believe in me?

20 seconds.  An amazing life.  Not a bad trade.  

Of course, like many truths, this is simple but far from easy.  20 seconds is an excruciatingly long time to expose your soul to anyone---especially to someone who can just as easily drop or catch you.

20 seconds.  Worth the risk.

Thank you, P.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Gold Medal Observations

A few things have become readily apparent from watching the London Olympics:

1.  I need to pack it up and move to London- like immediately.
2.  I can at least partially blame my complete lack of athletic success on my height.  At 5'4", I'm too tall to be a gymnast and too short for virtually everything else.   Clearly, my advanced age, my general lack of coordination and my inability to do so much as a cartwheel have nothing at all to do with it.
3.  I see nothing ironic about shoveling ice cream into my face while watching others exercise on TV.
4.  Little M just might have the same sort of overinflated self-confidence that caused men to invade countries.

The London games are Little M's second Olympics, and she's actually seen less London coverage than in Beijing.  We've all seen less, though that's mostly because during the Beijing games, Little M was about 2 weeks old, and we were all awake--- all the freaking time.   Ahhh-- the good old days of sleep deprivation and watching coverage of a sport I've never heard of at 4 AM.

It certainly wasn't intentional, but it would appear as though much of the coverage that Little M has watched was of women's sports.   I probably wouldn't have even noticed if not for the little nugget that she dropped before watching Michael Phelps swim.

Mommmmy---- why are BOYS at the Olym-kicks?  The Olym-kicks are just for girls.  Boys can't play SPORTS!


I attempted to explain to the young miss that boys were allowed to play sports, too---- and sometimes, they were even really good at them.  No avail.  She would have none of it.   I may as well have attempted to convince her that broccoli tastes better than ice cream.

Title IX be damned....reverse sexism is alive and well at Casa Sunshine.   Maybe I've taken the whole "girl power" message just a hair too far.

I was able to convince her to watch the Phelps race to illustrate that boys were, in fact, able to participate in sport.

Allow me to summarize how well that went.   FAIL.

In this particular race, Michael Phelps was swimming in an individual medley.   During this race, like in every other IM, Michael Phelps swam the backstroke----which just so happens to be the one swim stroke that Miss Know-It-All knows a bit about.

According to Little M, Michael Phelps swims the backstroke incorrectly.  As in terribly, terribly wrong.

Little M:  Mommmmmmmy....that BOY is swimming the backstroke wrong!
Little Miss Sunshine:  Ummmm, no.....he's the best swimmer that's ever lived.
Little M:  Mommy, at swimming lessons, they taught me to do the backstroke like this....(imagine a 3.5 foot person flapping her arms like a butterfly on crack).
LMS:  Well, that's how little kids swim the backstroke.  He's swimming it like grown-ups swim do.
Little M:  I am a genius at swimming.  Miss Trish told me so at swimming lessons.
LMS:  You are a good swimmer, but he is the best swimmer in the world.
Little M:  Whatever.   He needs to go to swim lessons with Miss Trish.  He's doing it wrong.
LMS:  (inward groan)
Little M:  I told you that boys don't belong at the Olym-kicks.  They don't know what they're doing.

I'm half tempted to write a fan letter to Michael Phelps that would read a little something like this:

Dear Mr. Phelps,

Congratulations on your amazing career.  I am a huge fan of your work and of your accomplishments.

However, I must note that my 4 year old daughter has taken offense to your incorrectly executed backstroke and has strongly suggested that you consider taking swim lessons as corrective action.

So that you know, my 4 year old is a self-proclaimed swimming expert, having completed 2 whole weeks of swimming lessons with Miss Trish in a dank and 120 degree natatorium that smelled like chlorine, exhaustion and feet.

Best of luck to you,

Little Miss Sunshine

My daughter knows more about swimming than Michael Phelps.  Who knew?

And boys--- don't let Little M get you down.  Someday, your athletic achievements will be properly recognized.  I can just feel it.