Wednesday, April 25, 2012

We Aren't Young

There's this catchy song on the radio right now called "We Are Young" by the band Fun. It bugs the crap out of me. I really hate it when a song does that, when it's all cute and sing-along-able but has these lyrics that make me want to either scream or write a blog post expressing my frustration. Screaming gives me a headache, so here we are. Let's see if I can't exorcise this demon.

The chorus of the song goes like this:

Tonight, we are young,
So we'll set the world on fire
We can burn brighter
Than the sun!

Here's the music video, if you are young enough to want to watch such things. If you're not, I'll recap: a bunch of young people have a slow-motion bar fight, at one point a guy is punched and sprays what looks like milk at the camera, a girl licks something, possibly a smashed watermelon? off a guy's face, and the lead singer looks like he's in pain the whole time.

Now, I will admit that when I was in high school, I would have freely adopted this song as my personal anthem. There is something appealing about the idea that us young people can go out and change the world. We will leave a blaze of glory in our wake! When we are done, the world isn't going to know what hit it!

Here's the problem: I'm not actually all that young anymore. I wouldn't say that I'm old necessarily, but thirty-five is solidly middle-aged in my book. And besides, when the hipsters in the band were sitting at the bar writing song lyrics over their Pabst Blue Ribbon and they got to the part about being young, were they picturing a woman in a minivan with four kids listening to NPR? No, they were not. So regardless of my actual age, I am not what they meant by "young." Also, when I think of young people setting the world on fire, the picture in my mind is less "world-changing" and more "anarchic riot." (If you're wondering if you're young or not-so-young, watch the music video. If you're going, what the heck was that about? then welcome to my club.)

Despite being not-young, though, I still want to set the world on fire. I mean, I want to do something that changes the world. I want to blaze trails of glory! I want my name to be remembered, possibly in the form of a Final Jeopardy answer! And I want to do all of this and save for retirement, make it to all of my kids' Little League games, and still get to bed by 10:30! That's the problem with not-young people, we've got all this real-life stuff that gets in the way of our world-burning. Unless we get hired specifically to incinerate the planet, we've got to find spare time to get it done, and that is a challenge. And in this economy, jobs like that are nearly impossible to find.

I wonder if songs like this contribute to the disappointment of middle-aged life. I'm happy with my life, I'm working on achieving things and pushing myself to personal growth, but I'm not naive like I was at eighteen, when anything was possible. Part of the reason why young people can throw themselves into a risk-filled life (a garage start-up or a band or whatever) is because the cost for failing is so much smaller than it is once you've got a mortgage and a family and a kid that needs braces. Responsibility is so much more work than wanton combustion. Does the typical mid-life crisis come when we realize that those big dreams we had at eighteen have turned into 40-hour work weeks and health benefits? Are we setting up our children to be massively disappointed when the world consistently refuses to even smolder?

You know why else it's so hard to set the world on fire when we're not-young? Because we don't have an anthem, that's why. No one writes songs about middle-aged people achieving work-home balance and funding their IRA's and still finding time to write the Great American Novel on the weekends. No, we get Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire": don't look at us, we were standing over here when the fire started.

Someone needs to write us an anthem. A fight song for the law-abiding, riot-avoiding, middle-aged middle class that obeys the speed limit and provides the stability for this country so that young'uns can go out there and wield their metaphorical flame-throwers at society! Maybe something like this:

Tonight, we aren't young
But we'll pay all of our taxes
We'll send faxes
To our accountants!

See, I told you, it just doesn't work for us. But this was quite therapeutic. Next week, an exegesis of Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" - a song celebrating that great night of the week when somehow it's okay to drink to excess, drive around town, have sex with (multiple) strangers, wake up bruised in a trashed house...and plan to do it all again next week! Music these days is great!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I Am Fundamentally Different From My Husband

If you would like a peek into how Ryan sees the differences between him and me, here is a (slightly embellished) conversation we just had.

I was browsing on Pinterest and came across a recipe for Crockpot Greek Yogurt. "Ooh!" I said to Ryan, who was sitting across from me watching me browse the internet (slightly less boring than watching paint dry, because paint never shouts "Ooh!" for no apparent reason.)  "Here's a recipe for making your own Greek yogurt in a crockpot!"

"If I were to write a recipe for how to make Greek yogurt, it would go like this," he said. "Step One: Go to the grocery store. Step Two: Buy Greek yogurt. Step Three: Go home and think about all the time you saved by not making your own Greek yogurt."

"Ha ha," says I, only slightly meaning it.

He continued. "And if you were to write a recipe for how to make Greek yogurt, it would go, Step One: Go to Greece."

"Step Two," I said,  "Switch my major to Modern Greek Yogurt Making."

"Step Three: Tell all your friends about the joys of making your own Greek yogurt. Blog about it. Change your entire diet to revolve around Greek yogurt. Get tired of Greek yogurt. Get to the point where Greek yogurt is the bane of your existence. Become anti-Greek yogurt. Then head to Pinterest to find your new favorite thing."

I had stopped listening at that point. "Ooh! Here's how to turn your old t-shirts into knitted dishcloths! Imagine all the things I could knit with our old clothes."

And scene.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Four Months in One Post

So, it's been a really long time since I posted, yadda yadda fill in typical mommy-blogger apology for not posting more often. If you were to read my journals from my childhood you'd find that just about every entry started with an apology for not writing since, like, the year before.  Writing that sentence made me go hunt down my old journals from the box in the basement--reading them is a mixture of hilarity and embarrassment. As a penance for my long absence, here is a gem from an entry dated December 15, 1989 (I was thirteen): "I got my braces off! I must admit, I look 100% better." Somehow I crammed excitement, pride, vanity, and a keen math mind into a mere eleven words.

Anyhow, I thought it would be a good idea to see what everyone's been up to over the last few months. We've sure been busy! Ryan's been doing this:

The stickers made the rounds on Pinterest and for a few months, all Ryan could do was stuff envelopes for hours and hours a day. The sales have dropped back down to a reasonable amount so Ryan finally has more time to play online pool. (He'll probably wish I hadn't said that...)

Brad has been a busy, busy boy. First, he did this:
Okay, so the nail didn't end up in his brain, nor did we take him for a cat scan like we probably should have. But he did swallow a nail. It happened like this: he was hanging a picture on his wall and had a few tiny nails that he was holding in his mouth. When he was done, he spit them out, but one went the wrong direction and he swallowed it.  Apparently, it did get a little stuck in his throat, but after a minute of coughing, it went down just fine. By the time he told me, with a gigantic grin on his face, I might add, it had been half an hour or so. After much debate, we decided to wait and see what happened. He never experienced any pain or bleeding, and after two days, he would no longer answer my questions about the contents of his bowel movements. So we assume it all came out okay in the end, although if he gets stopped by the TSA on our next family vacation, we'll know why.

But wait, there's more!  Because Brad also did this:
Brad and Ryan were playing catch in the front yard and Brad threw the ball from the yard across the street. Ryan missed it, but luckily the window was right there to catch it. The ball went through the first pane, but we have triple-paned windows, and could slide another pane over to cover the hole. Replacing the windows just moved up on the list of home maintenance priorities.

Noah, fortunately, has been less destructive than his older brother. He's been doing this:

Noah and his friend Daniel entered this original dance in the Reflections contest at their school. They won first place. The prize was a trophy and $10, plus the entry moved on to the next level for judging.

They won the next level (council level, maybe?) and moved on to the whole school district level, which they lost. But they thought it was great that they won and they are planning on doing it again next year.  Although next year, Daniel's mom can stay up for hours the night before the entries are due, trying to burn a dvd and fill out half a dozen forms.

Last year, Zack was the child who provided the most comic relief (and also the most agonizing phone calls from the principal/teachers/concerned neighbors.) This year, he's been pretty chill, and for that I'm grateful. This is what he's been up to:

This, my friends, is a Conference Hog. In February, I mentioned that we had to wait six more weeks for General Conference. He joked, "Did the Conference Hog see his shadow?" We laughed and he scurried downstairs to his Lego laboratory. An hour later, he came upstairs with this, a Conference Hog, complete with Conference Hole to pop out of. His creativity amazes me--I wish I were more like Zack. Although, at parent-teacher conference, Mrs. Savage mentioned that she had to untie Zack the other day when he tied his shoelaces to his chair...I don't want to be like Zack in that way so much.

And there's Darcey. Darcey, Darcey, Darcey. The little girl, sent from Heaven to fulfill all my raising-a-daughter fantasies. The child who loves dresses and twirling and letting me put sponge curlers in her hair on Saturday nights so she could look like Shirley Temple at church on Sunday. The girl who was thisclose to having hair long enough to put in a bun for ballet class. This is what my little girl was doing in her room, while watching Netflix on the ipad.

The only reason she had the "party in the back" was because she missed that spot, otherwise it would have been gone too. Here's the story: I was standing in the kitchen, minding my own business, when I heard Brad going up the stairs. He met Darcey coming down and said, "Darcey, you got a hair cut!" I gasped so loudly that I sucked in all the air in the entire room, and turned around to find Darcey's smiling face. She had cut her hair so dramatically that I could barely believe it was still her. And she was so proud of herself, she was convinced that everyone would think she looked fantastic. She couldn't understand why I was on the verge of tears, hyperventilating, and calling my hair-cutting friend in a panic to ask what to do. Honestly, I don't think I could have been more upset if it was MY hair she cut.
You want to see a before picture?

It makes me want to cry, and it's been nearly three months since it happened.  Anyhow, back to the story.

This is what I found when I went upstairs:

Those are children's safety scissors. If they don't stop a child from cutting all her hair off, what on earth do they stop her from cutting? Her skin? I think if she had cut her hand, she'd have put the scissors down before the hair damage was too bad. That's what I get for helicopter-parenting. From now on, the kids cut with hedge clippers and a Sawz-All.

I took the girl to Great Clips and ended up with this:

Look at that poor, sad girl, regretting horribly the mistake she made...Yeah right. To this day, when I tell the story of Darcey's haircut, she always says, "I thought you were going to like it. I thought it would make you happy." I don't even know what to do with that maternal guilt.

As for me, well, isn't it enough that I've survived all of that? I'm taking a Mormon Lit class this semester and doing a research internship with the same professor. I finally bought a wheat grinder for the 300 pounds of wheat in my basement. I got a new bookshelf for my office and it's already 7/8's full. I went to Maryland to visit my mom and help my grandmother pack her house. And basically I've just enjoyed my life. Things are good, I'm happy, my moods have been completely stable for six or seven months now, the kids are giving me plenty of interesting Facebook statuses. Can I really ask for more than that?  I submit that I cannot. And that's great.