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4 kittens

Epic and disjointed

Posted on 2018.03.25 at 22:53
I just had my first tattoo session. She tattooed me for about 3 hours. All six cats are sketched outlines. I'm not panicking. Yes I am. I'm not sure the artist has the chops to pull this off. I'm focusing on taking deep breaths. What have I done.  No photos for now.

Am I going to throw up? I don't think so. I just need to give this a few days for my intense emotions to settle down.

Usually when I'm panicking extensively, I think of a Plan B which offers comfort until I actually feel better. People get tattoo revisions. I could wait five years and get the problematic parts revised.

It's totally possible that it just needs to be shaded, like the artist claims.


Let's go back to Big Bend.

So dry and hard. So windy. The kids were terrified at night by the wind howling. The wind collapsed our tent a few times before we angled it on a diagonal and added the rain fly for extra support.

So cold on Monday night that I brought Rascal into my sleeping bag, where he peed. Totally my fault for forgetting his nighttime pull-up.

On Monday we walked out to the remnants of the Sam Nail ranch, in a little cradle of land so that it was barely visible from the road. You could see this windmill sticking out:

and I'll be damned if it wasn't still pumping water out.  There was a little official sign warning you not to drink the water being pumped out of the ground, running off to the side in a little trickle.

Here's some remaining walls:

In this link, they look much more like distinct bricks, which is strange. I'm not sure how it eroded so quickly.

A little path to another part:

and the other part, in midst of that path:

Sure am glad for my nice cozy house in the middle of civilization.

Next we followed the Burra Mesa trail, which we thought would be two miles, but was actually four miles.

I walked with Ace.

That photo is from before we fell far behind everyone. There were deep gorges, and we walked along the bottom, sometimes scrambling over boulders. It was neat.

Ace kept a running monologue for three hours and I couldn't write down all the good parts. This was all I could recall later:
- "It's hard to be a boy because you have to decide before you go to the bathroom whether you want to pee or poop. A girl can just sit down and let it come out whatever wants to come out."
- "Sticky pads out!" before a scramble over rocks. "Sticky pads in!" after a scramble over roacks.
- "I'm going to face my fears!" with an extended fist charge towards some boulders.

She also asked me if I fell behind the group when I was in other situations, without her, or if it only happened when we were together. She said that when she walks with Daddy, they don't fall behind. I told her it's because she and I just get to chatting and have such a good time.

She did about 3/4 of a four mile hike - we turned around with a half-mile left till the destination because I was worried about Ace having enough stamina to make it back. But she did great, the whole way.

I was very grateful for these cairns. It's not that the trail was that hidden, but would there be anything worse than to be lost in the desert with your four year old? No. I noted that she was wearing a hot pink jacket, and imagined using it as a flag to hail search helicopters looking for us up above.

[Obviously a serious acknowledgment about the terrors of border crossings is appropriate here.]

Tuesday - we all piled in the RV and drove to the sand dunes.


There's the Rio Grande again, looking calm and refreshing. Very easy to swim across, and people did. There were little stations with hand-made souvenirs along the way, by Mexicans who had come by boat. As long as one sticks by the river, everything is more or less mellow.

(The desert on either side, and the border patrol, is the dangerous part from the point of view of undocumented people at this particular entry point.)(I'm such a poser. Like I have any knowledge on crossing into the United States.)

I didn't go up to the actual sand dunes - Rascal was sleeping, and he and I lounged in the shade of a mesquite tree.

I'm told the sliding was anticlimactic.

Wednesday - Jammies and three others hiked Mt. Emory, the tallest peak in the Chisos mountains. We took the kids to see dinosaur bones.


I just could not stop taking photos of Rascal in these pink pajamas.

Just too much fun to watch him go about his day.

I do like dinosaur exhibits.  Pterodactyl:

There's a display set up, facing the open expanse desert, so that you're looking at a spot where they airlifted dinosaur skeletons out.

It used to be ocean, then marsh and then forest.

Just a tryptich of a bunny eating a banana.

The littlest kids rode bikes (with training wheels) for the first time:

The run-up to one of the funniest tantrums I can remember:
Rascal: What has three legs?
Me: A tripod.  [This is a line from a TMBG song.]
Rascal: What has two legs?
Me: A biped. People.
Rascal: What has one leg?
Me: A uniped? A monopod?
Rascal: What has zero legs?
Me: A fish.
Rascal: What else?
Me: A snail.
Rascal: What else?
Me: A snake.
Rascal: What else?
Me: I don't know.
Rascal: What eeeeeeeelse???
Me: That's all.
Rascal: [screaming, deteriorating] Teeelllllll meeee! What else has zero legs! What elllllllllse?!?

(One of Jammies' photos from the way up Mt. Emory. There's still little forest ecosystems leftover in these mountains.)

Rascal, to the tune of Paddycake:
"Bubblegum bubblegum
Baker's man
Make me some bubblegum as fast as you can.
Roll it, make it, bake it
For me, just me."

and on another occasion,
"Bubblegum, bubblegum in a dish,
See you at the rodeo!"

which is a riff on this Northern State song which Jammies probably regrets exposing the children to.

Jammies' view from the top of Mt. Emory.

Our skin was so dry that the inside of the kids' sleeping bags grabbed and stuck to their skin, and they wore socks because it was so awful feeling.

That time Pokey was a Croatian Gangster.

Ace got mad because I threw out her air bag. She had inflated her applesauce bag with air, and I'd mistaken it for trash. "I need it, Mom!" she said, "for when my mouth gets gross!"  I don't know.

Fortunately, there's a lot of applesauce packets. The air bag was resuscitated.

Awww. I made us take a family photo.

There goes that Rio Grande. Boundaries, man.

These are taken on top of that little mountain by our campsite.

Awww. Rascal and Jammies. I'm terrified of heights and having my children on mountains, did you know that?

These little guys started blooming while we were there.

I just really like Car Yoda and Car Vader.

Part of me would never let Rascal wear anything else. It's just so fun to watch him in these.

I took Rascal to find the ampitheatre, where the kids hung out all week.

We passed this off to the side of the road, in the dirt:

"There it is!" Rascal crowed, squatting next to it. "The ant theater!"

Isn't that sweet? So. What were the kids doing at the ampitheater anyway?

All week long, they had an extended all-ages game of City. There was a mayor, town meetings, laws, and if you broke a law, you went to court. If found guilty, you were sentenced to 3 minutes of community service - cleaning the ampitheater - or five minute of jail.

The game went on and on. There was surveillance, community projects, police, and so on. It was organized by the oldest kids, the 7th graders. Completely amazing. At one point a local boy scout troop tried to wreck the game, which angered our group but also rallied the city to war, the details of which I'm a little fuzzy on.

Ace says of this stick:

"It reminds me of flowers."

I dunno, but I kind of like vultures.

They're so big and omnipresent, like deer or our river: nature!

The window at sunset.

I was tired and exhausted and we broke for home on Thursday instead of going to Marfa for two nights. But I was also nostalgic in real time for the time we were having and how lovely and intense and beautiful it all was.

On Thursday morning, when we were packing up, I pulled a muscle deep in my back, on the right side but central, near my shoulder blade.  I was brushing my teeth.

Is that the lamest possible way to pull a muscle? It wasn't just brushing my teeth - I was also wearing a jacket with big pockets full of stuff, which was heavy. Brushing my teeth while wearing a jacket. Pretty much a near-death experience. Not just any jacket, but one with heavy pockets.

This is a photo that Jammies took:

halfway through the Chihuahuan desert, having left Big Bend but with another half-hour until the pitstop of Marathon. That is the kind of thing that gives me anxiety.

Gas station souvenir.

On the plus side: the campfire ring, the RV, the deep social ties, the feeling of being awash with love. 


I'm still feeling awful about the these tattoos. How do other people get such terrible tattoos and roll with it? I know I'm a perfectionist about such things. I need a longer view.


Before Big Bend:

- I wrapped up class a little early on Friday, and told the students that the homework assignment was very short, that they could finish it before class ended, if they had the patience to delay Spring Break for 10 minutes.

Then I laughed and asked them if any of them knew what the marshmellow test was. They didn't, but I filled them in. Then I gave them the homework assignment and said, "It's not just any assignment. This is your marshmellow test. Can you delay Spring Break for ten minutes???" They all laughed and enjoyed the comparison. Four of them ended up delaying Spring Break for ten minutes to finish the (rather short) assignment.

- Hawaii told me that she has started two recess clubs. Adventure Club is Tuesday/Thursday, and Art Club is on Wednesdays. There is a five kid cap to each club (but we discussed lifting the cap in order to be kind to kids.) She takes supplies in for Art Club on Wednesdays.


After Big Bend:

- Fucking Z, the neighbor kid, knocked on our door.
"Sorry Z, no one's here except me," I told him.
"I think I left something here," he said, and pushed past me. He ran to the back of the house, and I heard him rattling around. Then he hurried back past me and said, over his shoulder, "It wasn't there. It was my jacket. BYE!"  and I got suspicious.
I followed him out and called to him. He stopped and turned around. There was something shoved down his pants.
"What's in your pants?" I asked, feeling like an idiot.
"Nothing," he said, and turned to leave.

That would have been that, except as he was going down the stairs, he decided he was in the clear for some reason, and took the toy out of his pants.  It was this:

[forgot to take a photo and now I'm too lazy. It's an old electronic game shaped like a fishing reel.]

which is an old toy that Jammies' had when I first met him. A bass fishing game, where you pretend to cast and reel it in. In other words, it's the type of thing that we'd let Z play with any old time he wants.

I was super pissed that Z'd made up a cover story, come over and lied to me, jammed the toy down his pants, and tried to steal it. I told him sharply that that was stealing and that it's not okay. He sort of argued that it wasn't stealing and left.

It's funny: before I had kids, I couldn't speak sharply to people when I was mad. I could speak sharply if I was enjoying myself and was relaxed, but not when I needed to.  Isn't that nice? The children have changed me. Now I've had lots and lots of practice being angry, and it's much more natural.

It came up in class, as well. A kid, twice, had tried to scribble down homework answers and turn in his homework late. The second time I saw him scribbling, I instinctively barked, "A! Would you cut that out? You're driving me crazy when you copy the answers down like that."  That is the new, parental Heebie. Way to go, self.


Maybe I'll just be the kind of person who says ruefully, "Oh yeah, I've got a tattoo. Not a great one, but at least it's big!" Type of person with a mediocre large tattoo. That could be me. I'd be in good company, at least.


This is an epic, disjointed entry. I didn't intend to go into so much detail on our vacation, but I'm feeling dazed. Usually I'd edit and rework it for a while longer, but like I said, feeling a bit unglued tonight. Epic and disjointed maybe is just right.


(Anonymous) at 2018-03-26 15:13 (UTC) (Link)

OMG! You started the tattoo!

I am dying of curiosity about how it's going to turn out. Pictures when you're done?

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