Doing It Yourself

I have the hands of my pioneer ancestors who pulled wagons and mended clothes and planted seeds along the path from Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley.  I looked down at my ripped cuticles and jagged nails at work today and paused to dig a paperclip under a few that gave refuge to fat crescents of dirt. I work in the yard most mornings before my job and spend weekends doing errands and exploring this place.  The more I get out in the city, the more I want to get my hands into something messy when I get home, build something, cook something, sweat until it falls into my eyes  - which doesn’t take very long here. 

A few weeks ago I began my search for various yard related hardware items; pieces of wood, wire, steel rods, nails – stuff to build my fantasy garden where I pulled out a small fig tree and a flowering aloe vera a few weeks ago.  (Don’t worry, both were replanted somewhere else in the yard.)  But when I ask people where one finds such items a puzzled look comes over their faces. 

And then it dawned on me one day as I watched the migration of foreign workers from their cites to the freeways to catch shared, crammed, busses or to simply walk until they reach their apartment:  fixing up your house, building things in the yard, repairing broken pipes and trimming trees are all things done by other people here.  I could be wrong, but I think there aren’t many “Do It Yourself” kind of stores here because, well, people don’t do it themselves. 

And for some reason, this makes me want to build my own bamboo tomato trellis and mop my own floors and weed my own garden.  To make pasta from scratch and rake the leaves myself.  We got a bit carried away in Casablanca with a housekeeper who also cooked and a doorman and drivers from time to time and it’s feeling really good to sink my hands in again.  

**Pictures coming soon!  We took the camera to the beach the other day, but it was so humid that my lens immediately fogged up and I couldn't acclimate it before our dog walk was finished.  Perhaps this week now that we have our own car!


Sweet Valley High...Again

The High School girls’ locker rooms haven’t changed a lot over the past decade or so.  Goopy lip glosses peak out from grafittied shoulder bags, a pair of jewel studded converse high tops have been tossed on a pile of jeans and the bathroom stalls are in various states of toilet papered disarray.

“Shut up.  You are totally going to make varsity”
“Yeah, but there are only 10 slots and –“
“Yeah and you are totally going to make it, you are so freaking tall”

I observe this conversation from in front of the bathroom sink, trying to remove my waterproof eyeliner before heading to the school weight room.  In fact, this conversation is happening in every corner of the locker room – some girls are speaking loudly and looking around to see who’s listening and others are timid, changing their clothes with their faces to the wall and whispering back and forth about who will or will not be on the varsity Volleyball team. 

And I don’t feel like I’m a grown up, I feel like I’m a new High School student with no friends and an awkward body.  And to have the near 30-year-old body reflected back at me in the 10th grade certainly would be awkward, but then I remember that I’m not vying for prom dates or looking for someone to be my BFF.  I’m an adult professional headed to the gym to keep my weight down and my premature hip arthritis at bay.   Very adult indeed.   

I’ve had several of these back to the future…er past moments over the last few days at my new job in the International School.  I read an article a few months ago (which I can’t find for the love, but I’ll keep looking) about the adolescent brain and even though it’s a relatively short time in our life, our High School age memories feel disproportionately vivid well into adulthood. 

The brain is buzzing with more dopamine activity than at any other time in the human life cycle, so everything an adolescent does—everything an adolescent feels—is just a little bit more intense ‘And you never get back to that intensity’” (saved the quote with no citation – bad librarian!)

You forget just HOW intense everything feels at 13 and 15 and 17 and then you see the first day faces on these kids and it comes back like your first mixed tape was given to you just yesterday.  For the record, my first mixed tape was a bizarre 3 part compilation of unheard of folk artists, terrible Christmas rap, Van Halen and heartbreaking Yo-Yo Ma performances.   I was a strange 16 year old and dated even stranger boys.  But I have a special spot in my heart for High School intensity - and perhaps strangeness as well - since during my first days of 10th grade I met the corduroy wearing 16 year old who would later be my husband.   

So “back to school” makes me excited and full of butterflies for obvious back to school reasons, reasons that don’t really go away when you become an adult – Will the other teachers like me?  Will I do a good job?  Will I wear the right thing?  - but I also remember what it feels like to be 16 and in love and confused and exhilarated and nervous and happy and independent and perhaps just slightly out of control.  And maybe this flood of emotion wouldn’t be so readily available to me if I weren’t sitting next to Mr. NOFX t-shirt wearing, guitar playing, head shaving heartthrob right now, even if he is wearing a suit and sporting a well-quaffed beard these days.

It pays to have such well read friends!!!  Thanks Marci