Last week Ian was helping me get Iliana into the car and I stopped in the parking strip.

"What's this junk on the car?" I asked him, even though I was the only one looking at it. He was still on the porch.

"Somebody put dirt on our car," I told him.
"Jonas?" he asked.
"I doubt it," I answered. "This looks too...on purpose."

And it did. There was a little, almost perfect mound of...stuff...on my car that looked like nothing either of my children would hold still enough to apply.

When Iliana was sick with the croup for that one full week, I had to find a lot of things to entertain myself while being leaned upon by a sick, disgusting child. I played a couple of word games on my phone and kept seeing an ad for another one: Moxie. I decided what the hell I'm delirious and wearing multiple rounds of another person's snot - I can't be too choosy how I spend my time - so I downloaded it.

Armatron and The Year of Devastation

“See you next year!” we call to one another, jittery with equal parts Christmas break excitement and Christmas party sugar. I still laugh really hard at the joke, though I am becoming aware that the other girls are not laughing quite as much. We're in seventh grade, after all. We are supposed to be growing up, our senses of humor with us. Or something.

That First Afterwards Christmas

This year I get a pink Le Clic camera. I immediately load a disc of film into the back of the plastic case, delighting in its slippery newness.

My sister gets a blue Le Clic because Mom insists on getting us matching presents. Celine gets blue because she refuses anything not blue. She owns blue, as if that's possible. I get whatever other color there is because I'm not particular, only that's not quite it.

Mom doesn't have to tell us to open our gifts at the same time anymore; we've learned for ourselves the lesson of a spoiled surprise. There are few surprises these days anyway, since Celine and I are both relentless and clever about guessing our presents. Sometimes Mom just laughs at our pre-Christmas antics. Sometimes she get truly angry. This year she is more angry than amused.

Baby's First Christmas

I start first grade and feel apprehensive. I don't know that word yet, but I know what it means. My mother's ʻōpū swells around the baby she's carrying and I don't know if I want to be happy. I'm too big for her to carry now, she tells me. But I know it's actually because of the baby.

My cousin Candace asks me if I'm excited to be a big sister and I shrug.

"Well," I tell her plaintively, "I guess I won't be the baby anymore."

Mommy said I have some time to get used to the idea. It's only September and the baby won't be here until right before Christmas. She seems excited about it.

One Hundred Word Wednesday: Birth Day

In 1999, I became...myself. He was born and just like that, everything changed. He was born, and I was a mother.

I went to recovery while my little boy started his stay in the NICU. I got flowers while he got intubated. I got congratulated, and he? He got an incubator.

Twenty-six measly weeks. Five insufficient days. Two pounds, three ounces. The baby, my baby, fought every scrap of unfavorable odds.

To tell you the truth, I was pretty annoyed at having to go to the Christmas party hosted by Iliana's preschool. I'm reluctant to join in big rowdy things like that during the best of times, but right now it seemed even more overwhelming. So we tried really hard to bail.

Usually it's easy to talk Iliana into a bear-shaped pancake from our favorite restaurant, but tonight? No dice.

Holiday Weekend

After breakfast we pile into the car and drive to the Pay 'n Save at the bottom of the hill. If it was just me and Celine, we'd have walked down, maybe stop at the Goodie Korner for some Haw Flakes on the way home. But it is the day after Thanksgiving and there is a tree to be had, so Mom and Dad tell us to get in the car.

Fifty-Fifty With The Aloha Police Department

We are on our way, talk show hosts telling us all about the commute we're already fighting. Perry and Price in the morning. Michael W. Perry is my boyfriend, which means he is a man I know of who I think is handsome. Charles Bronson is my mother's boyfriend. So is Richard Chamberlain, though we argue over him.

We are in the bend towards the Wilson tunnel, in a race between traffic and the next song. Once we slip into the tunnel, we'll lose the AM radio signal. My sister and I hope they don't play Menudo while we're inside.

Emergency Contact

"Mom, what do I write here?" I pointed to the line on the emergency contact form, blinking back tears I didn't want her to see.

She glanced at the rectangular card. "Retired," she said impatiently. I wrote the word in tiny, smushed together letters.

I felt a strange heat in my cheeks as I continued filling out the form, the rest of the information second nature by then. I wrote Supervisor in the space asking for my mom's occupation, directly under my dad's new title. Wrote the phone number for my cousin's flower shop on Castle Street.

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