Small Talk About Weather and Racism

Dear Future Stella,

Lets chat about the weather. Usually, this topic is for small talk and pleasantries only. I call it “conversation fluffer”, a topic to bring up when you have absolutely nothing else to say. Its a neutral area where you can say polarizing things like “I love direct sun,” or “I hate the rain” and nobody will judge or challenge you, even if they feel the exact opposite. In San Francisco, the weather is often unique, bizarre and spontaneous, providing lots of opportunities to have it bail you out of painful conversations. I have no reason to believe that you and I will ever need to talk about the weather and I am fairly certain that there will always be a plethora of rich and meaningful topics to keep us talking long into the night. I also know that you are already quite different from me but I hope that we can steer clear of boring weather topics and instead state our opinions and viewpoints without any risk of being met with judgement and anger. It is with that preface that I want to talk about the weather.

Future Stella, is Global Warming still a thing? Does San Francisco still have Indian Summers? Did the El Niño of 2015/2016 wash the state of California away? Do people still have brown lawns? Are umbrellas considered vintage? I am so curious. Our weather has been so wack-a-doodle lately that I am dying to know how this shakes out in 20 years.

This past week we had another epic heat wave. Granted it is September, meaning- if San Fran is going to experience a heat wave, it’s going to be this time of year- BUT there have been so many heat waves already. Our summers are supposed to be cold and unpleasant but this past one was really gorgeous. I will refrain from quoting Mark Twain right now.

I saw something futuristic the other day and I took a picture of it to show you. It was my first time seeing a remote-operated lawn mower. It was grooming the grass at the park by my salon. Shit, in 2035 is it fucked up to refer to a robot as an it? Like, do they have genders? I thought it (grrr- he?) was so strange because there was still a dude operating the thing (by thing I mean totally equal to us with president candidate potential) so I didn’t really get the point. Don’t get me wrong, I get why a person would want something like him (or her if the model was cheaper and not as high performing) for their personal yard maintenance but I don’t understand why the city of San Francisco thought this was a good/money-saving idea. Also, giant lawns are not necessarily trending (read: drought) so I just felt super bad for the poor person who invented it- talk about shitty timing. These puppies are probably just collecting dust on shelves at whatever store sells weird robot things (or is it souls?) I am not trying to be racist, but in today’s world robots have not come forth and demanded equality yet so they are just things to me. Wow, I totally had a moment where I empathize with my racist Great-grandparents. Anyway, don’t laugh, because I am sure this is so old school to you, but I have never seen anything like it before.

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Anyway, Current Stella had her first soccer game this past week. Here is a fun fact- neither of her parents were there. I would like the record to show that I was at work, earning money to provide a roof over our heads and food in our mouths. Your father, well, he was getting a lap dance at a strip club in Portland. I think at the exact moment your little fat hands were shoving orange slices in your mouth, your Dad was tossing dollar bills on a stage. It begs the famous question- If a child scores a goal and no parent is there to see it happen, is the lap dance free? Listen, all I am saying is that if for some reason this comes up in therapy, I was just trying to provide for our family. Your father, on the other hand, was exercising his right to bachelor party. You decide who gets the pass.

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Another fun thing that happened was Current Stella’s school hosted a back to school dinner dance. It was for the parents and the kids and this year’s theme was “It’s a Small World.” The flyer encouraged families to arrive in attire from their favorite international destination. It was really hard for me to come up with something that wasn’t inappropriate. For instance, one of the only international destination that Current Stella has been to is Mexico. I guess I could have smeared dirt on her cheeks and purchased a Costco-sized box of chicklets but that would have been such a downer costume, ya know? Ultimately, I decided to dress Current Stella in German attire and I came looking like a très chic Parisian, because nothing says besties like those two countries. What did your Dad dress as, you ask? Unclear, because he was still at the strip club. I know, sometimes it is hard to come to terms with who the better parent is.

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Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, tonight you requested to eat your dinner naked. Never one to stifle your creativity, I obliged. Your meal consisted of chicken “nuggies,” carrots, strawberries and blueberries. You asked me how they make chicken nuggies. Before I could answer, you suggested your own hypothesis. You thought they rubbed chicken in sand and then used cookies cutters to make the shapes. I didn’t want to tell you the truth, mainly because your method seems healthier and more organic.

Love,

Mom

Our Marriage Turns 8

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Dear Future Stella,

At this point in your life, your Dad and I will have been married for 28 years exactly (today is our anniversary). I will pause while you call/text/virtual hologram us a celebratory message. If, for some awkward reason, we are not still married please note the super-rich, super-hot guy I am currently married to. I am guessing his name is something sexy like Vincent (perhaps he is your ex?) and he rocks my world in so many ways your Dad never could. I doubt that is the case- I am one of those who never wins a raffle, let alone the life jackpot. Also, your dad is the closest I have come to winning it big (besides you) and everyone who knows the two of us would say that I have the better deal.

On our anniversary we usually exchange gifts according to the traditional Hallmark suggestions. The gifts start out small (year one is paper) but once you have put in enough time you can wind up with some pretty expensive stuff. In fact, I bet year 28 is epic because 28 years married is a big freaking deal so I would have to imagine that my present will be pretty sweet this year. Well, I just looked it up and year 28 is an orchid. A god damn flower-that-needs-a-little-water-but-hates-too-much-water-and-don’t-even-think-about-moving-it-a-quarter-of-an-inch-to-the-left-because-it-will-die kind of flower. Is that some kind of sick joke Hallmark? My marriage is hard enough to keep alive thank you very much. However, I am guessing 28 years of marriage is on a whole other level of hard so it might actually be refreshing to only have to manage the delicate life of a flower that spends its whole existence oscillating between the ICU and hospice with brief moments of assisted living. Well played Hallmark, well played. It has actually been really fun celebrating our anniversaries this way and you should try it with your significant other if you have one. OMG- do you have one? Ugh, I hope he or she is super awesome and I am smiling so big right now thinking of you in a sweet relationship. Being in love is the best and you are going to kill it as a partner because you are so damn nice and you thrive when you are showing or being shown affection. Anyway, here is a summary of our anniversaries thus far.

Year 1- Paper. Your Dad had just opened his own business and I was a brand new colorist in the midst of the recession so we were so broke. We decided to make paper airplanes and see who could fly theirs farther. I was extra creative and made multiple planes; one out of our wedding invitation and one of my planes even unfolded into a love letter. Your dad built a NASA-quality paper aircraft that beat the shit out of mine but had no sentimental value whatsoever. He took the task literally, which is basically the definition of a dude. He did, however, get us some sparkling to enjoy that we shared on our wedding day so that was nice.

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Year 2- cotton. We are both HUGE football fans, Denver specifically. Our anniversary just happens to coincide with the beginning of football season so we felt it necessary to get new Bronco t-shirts (made out of cotton). This was clearly before iPhones or filters and I was clearly having a skin breakout issue so please ignore the general disgusting look I am displaying. In hindsight, I am shocked we made it beyond this day, based on my looks alone.
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Year 3- Leather. We bought a new leather couch for our living room. You had just arrived a couple months prior to this and when you showed up we had to surrender our guest bedroom. To make up for it, we bought a great leather pull-out sofa for guests to sleep on. Later, Louis the Cat would declare that couch his personal litter box, officially making that pet the worst, most expensive pet that ever lived. That couch didn’t even see it through to year four. What I find interesting, is when I went to find a picture from our anniversary the only photos that were taken on Sept. 15, 2010 were these ones. Spoiler alert- there is no leather couch to be found.

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Year 4- Flowers/Fruit. We both got each other flowers, and I am almost falling asleep typing it so I can only imagine how snore-worthy it was on that date. The boringness of it explains why the only photo taken that day was this one.

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Year 5- wood. Besides the obvious gift, your Dad also gave me this. Again, he can’t help but be literal.

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Year 6- candy. We each picked out the other one’s favorite sweets. Soooo predictable. This was my favorite anniversary to date though, because we took you back to Big Sur and showed you where we got married. That place is downright magical and romantic. My parents were married there, we were married there, and so if you don’t get married there then we can blame you for breaking the chain.

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Year 7- copper. We purchased a set of copper mugs for making Moscow Mules. I weirdly don’t have a photo of this celebration and I really have no reason why. However, your dad researched every single copper cup on the market before deciding on the ones we got. Maybe I didn’t take any pictures because by the time we actually had any cups in our cupboards, I had seen roughly 38 different options and I was numb to the excitement.

Year 8- linens/lace. We are in desperate need of a bedroom makeover so we have decided to get new bedding for our anniversary. This is the most important room in the house because it is where we regularly consummate our marriage (not always though), and therefore it is unacceptable to have dated linens. We spent the majority of our anniversary today going from store to store to check out all the options available, which let me tell you, is beyond romantic. We still have not pulled the trigger on a set, and by “we” I mean your father. Those copper cups have nothing on this duvet search. Hopefully by the time you read this we have settled into our new bedroom situation, but at this rate I can’t guarantee it. Tonight we got you a babysitter, this time an English speaker for sure, but it could be one of those situations where the boyfriend sneaks in after you go to bed. Good for her, those sheets are getting replaced anyway. Your Dad is taking me to this restaurants that is a block away from our very first apartment in San Francisco. We spent our first anniversary as a couple there. It has been several different restaurants since we last dined there, so its not exactly the same, but the table we sat at is tucked behind a curtain in the back of the restaurant- and that still remains. I am pretty excited to revisit it.

Future Stella, I love your Dad. He is the only person who can have me in stitches with a single sentence and the whole time he is cracking jokes you can feel how intensely he is protecting the two of us. Its such an odd combination but I like knowing that if he needed to stop making inappropriate comments about the sales lady at West Elm under his breath (which he was doing today) to beat the shit out of someone who was threatening our family he would. He’s such an easy man to be with and he takes his job as your Dad so seriously and he just lets me be me, which is kinda crazy because Im as strange as they come. He cares so much what kind of cup I drink my Moscow mule out of and what kind of sheets I lay my head on at night and he shows up to everything for us that is important. His priorities are so clear and he doesn’t compromise our happiness for anything.

Not to be overshadowed by my love fest, your Gopa (my Grandpa) turned 80 over the weekend. Enough with these Virgo birthdays already! We drove to Oregon to celebrate with our family. Your Goma threw him the most lovely party at a local restaurant in their town. She was even feeling a bit under the weather but managed to pull off a fantastic event. Your Gopa is not blood related to you (he is my mother’s step-dad) and that really is a shame. He’s so smart and has such great genes that it’s too bad they are not running through you. However, I know more than anyone that your time spent with someone can impact you way more than genetics can. Your Gopa is almost completely blind and I can’t imagine how different that makes the world for him but he finds so many ways to connect with you. He’s a great listener and has a very unique perspective on things. He gives great advice and is very wise and something tells me his wisdom came prematurely. I love these pictures I captured of him having “these talks” with you.

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  1. And finally, here I was at his birthday party. You were not invited.

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Future Stella, I love you but tonight I love your father more. Current Stella, even though you don’t realize it, you are showing me a better way to love. You forgive instantly and when there is a conflict you listen first. 

Love,
Mom

Do You Still Have to Brush Your Teeth in 2025?

Dear Future Stella,

I am really not an observant person and Current Stella is like idiot savant status when it comes to noticing things so she makes my disability really obvious sometimes. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked up to a car that is the same color, make and model of the one we have and it will be Current Stella who figures it out way before me. I will be aggressively pulling on the door handle and Stella will say, “Mom, this isn’t our car because our car has a tiny red dot on the license plate.” Or Current Stella will point to someone across the restaurant (rude) and announce that they have the same phone cover as her friend’s babysitter. I wouldn’t even be able to pick out that friend in a line-up, let alone her babysitter and definitely not what phone case she had.

The other night Current Stella went to go brush her teeth before bed. She takes this job really seriously- she even brings one of those hourglass sand timers in the bathroom with her to make sure she brushes for the right amount of time. I am baffled by this considering I don’t even hound her to brush her teeth in the first place. The way I see it, they are all going to fall out anyway and then pretty new ones will replace them. Only then should you really take it seriously. Teeth are one of the few guaranteed second chances you have in life, why waste your precious sweet time (which is never guaranteed) doing something that really just sucks? So anyway, Stella comes out of the bathroom and announces that someone left their toothbrush at our house because there is an extra one in the cup. G-ta, Guncle and Peter just left my house after staying for a few days so I have no doubt that one of them left theirs. I told her thanks for letting me know and that I would give it back to them. Off to bed she went and later on when it was my turn to brush my teeth the reality of my severe disability came to head. Up until this point I would know which toothbrush was mine by reciting this little mental note, “Not the small one- that is Stella’s. Not the blue one- that is Casey’s.” My toothbrush is revealed by process of elimination and it works every single time. Well, now there were two left after I repeated my mantra and I had absolutely no idea which toothbrush was mine. Zero clue. I then remembered that your Dad and I always buy our toothbrushes in a two-pack so that we have the same one but in different colors. Great, so I just needed to find the one that looks like the blue one but in a different color. Fuck, neither one matched that description which means that somewhere along the road I had switched my toothbrush with someone else’s on vacation or something and am just realizing that now. So now I have two stranger’s toothbrushes to pick from, one of which has already been in my mouth for weeks now. I was so pissed at Current Stella for not noticing sooner that I had someone else’s toothbrush!! In the morning I would tell her to add that to the list of things to watch out for. Future Stella, I bet the list of things you have to deal with for me is soooo long by now. Thanks.

This past week we had so much fun with G-ta, Guncle and Peter. They visited us on their way back to Oregon after dropping Madeline off at college. Besides leaving a toothbrush at my house, we celebrated Peter’s birthday. He recently turned 21 so we got a babysitter and took him out to get shit-faced. The only problem was, he was super normal and didn’t do or say anything embarrassing and he was able to walk and stand the whole night and not once did he throw up or get in a fight. It was almost like he had done this before. I felt like I majorly failed everyone around me for robbing them of that viewing experience. Future Stella, hanging with this part of my family is one of my absolute favorite things to do ever. We laugh so hard and I really hope that you have continued these relationships. While Current Stella was trying to understand her babysitter (English was maybe her 8th language and if she was playing Duolingo she would still be on level 1) here is what we were doing.

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Peter’s sister, Madeline went off to LMU this past week to pursue an education in film and yesterday was her 19th birthday. She is going to be way famous one day, in fact, she’s probably already famous by now. Current Stella made a Happy Birthday video for her that we sent via text. She responded that she wasn’t feeling great so she couldn’t go to class. She said she was nauseous and her stomach was hurting. Considering we are just coming off of Labor Day weekend and she is a new college student, I narrowed it down to a hangover or early pregnancy symptoms. To determine which was plaguing her, I recommended she consume three Bloody Mary’s. If she was hungover she would get right back to tip top and if she was pregnant she would feel worse but at least she would know weeks earlier than those pee-on-stick-rip-offs. Unless of course, she was hungover and pregnant (which was my case with you) and then she’s just fucked. No, but seriously, she probably has the flu because she doesn’t drink which means she’s not having sex either. I don’t know though, for a girl who claims they don’t party and is more interested in just making films and being silly with her friends, I sure have a ton of photos of her “not drinking.”

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Madeline started paying attention to you around age one. Prior to that, she couldn’t be bothered. I think she hates babies or something. However, she sure made up for lost time once you turned one. We are always forcing her to babysit you and she doesn’t know this yet, but Im in the process of legalizing her as your guardian. She is making this “go to college and be level headed and responsible” thing look too easy. So if she’s not pregnant, she’s about to give birth to a five year old. You guys can take turns accomplishing things and I bet you guys would never mix up your toothbrushes.

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Future Stella, my computer is at the point that in order to upload a new photo onto it I have to delete one to make space. I have decided to slowly delete pictures of you from birth and most photos of you from before age three. Sorry, it was a somewhat hard decision but I need to make more space for Gail the Puppy and I just couldn’t part with some of the older photos I have stored on here. Photos like this one, where there is a man sitting on my couch in my living room who I have absolutely no idea who he is. Do you know this man? Can anyone out there identify him? I would have to believe we were acquaintances at the very least, I mean he is sitting next to my husband in my home and my Mom is there too. I clearly thought it was significant enough to photograph. This non-observant thing really blows, what if it is his toothbrush that I have been using all this time?

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Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, I asked you to describe yourself. You said, “I’m cute, funny, sweet, nice and kind. Oh, and I have lots of mosquito bites.” At this current moment you pretty much described yourself to a T.

Love,

Mom

Chill and Netflix

Dear Future Stella,

Current Stella officially made it through her first week of Kindergarten without getting expelled which is more than I was hoping for. She still can’t read and that’s total bullshit. What the fuck is she doing there all day? Its really not that hard. She has learned more than one prayer though, so at least that will come in handy never. Seriously, Future Stella, can you even read this? Right now I have serious doubts about your success in life and your general IQ and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t incredibly disappointed. Just saying. On the bright side, I am really glad that she can’t read yet because your Dad and I have not quite hammered out what our code phrases are going to be so Current Stella can’t snoop on our text messages. I mean, obviously we are still going to want to hardcore sext and talk shit about all of her friends but we don’t really want her seeing. I know one thing, every time your Dad texts me “What did you buy from Amazon now?” that really means “lets enjoy some safe sex (so that we don’t make the mistake of having another kid) in a timely fashion (because Ray Donovan is on tonight) really quietly (because Current Stella still has a friend over). Now that you know that secret code I am sure a lot of things from your childhood make a lot more sense, unless of course you remember ever taking out the recycling and then you would see the evidence of my amazon.com shopping addiction.

Young kids always have code to stay out of trouble with their parents. In 2015 when a kid says they are going to “Netflix and Chill” it really means they are going to have wild sex while Orange is the New Black plays in the background. Naturally, your Dad and I wanted to try this, you know, to stay current. First of all, I had never even binge watched a show before and I was dying to try that too because the kids make it look really fun and addicting. Always down to combine tasks for efficiency purposes, I decided we should binge watch this show called Empire and chill. Binge watching a show is so much harder than it looks. One of us always falls asleep, and so then the next night we have to re-watch part of the last episode so that everyone is caught up to speed but then inevitably the other one falls asleep while the other one goes on to the next episode and then the next night the cycle starts all over again. It takes 4 days to watch 1 episode in its entirety and how these young kids can also fit in the chilling part is beyond me. There are so many plot twists so there is no way you can successfully chill while binging unless of course the show you are trying to binge watch is porn of some sort. Netflix and Chill is so unrealistic and takes a lot of practice. To ensure a positive outcome, we have decided to Chill first and then Netflix. This doesn’t really solve the sleeping part, in fact, it almost guarantees sleep within the first five minutes of the episode, but at least we are completing both components.

I really wish that Current Stella was a teenager already so that I could take every opportunity to tell her that your Dad and I were going to Netflix and Chill. Every time she would ask to have a friend over I would say, “Sure, we are just going to be Netflixing and Chilling. Mostly chilling” She would eventually have to stop asking me what my plans were, what I was doing, or what I wanted for my birthday because I would answer Netflix and Chill for all of those scenarios. Not once would I let on that I knew the street meaning so she would just think I was so incredibly lame. It would be amazing.

Today Current Stella had picture day. Not that exciting because she has to wear a uniform so I couldn’t dress her in something so insanely cute in 2015 that you would be absolutely horrified by in 2025 but I can make sure her hair is on fleek. Side note: I love using words/phrases that are super trendy but that don’t have lasting power so that you will be utterly confused when reading this, Future Stella. Anyway, with me being in the industry she definitely has an unfair advantage. I basically set up a blow-dry bar in our living room, slapped on some 60-dollar-a-bottle styling serum, and proceeded to glamify her. As long as she doesn’t make that horrible cheesy fake smile we should be good to go.

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Speaking of insanely cute outfits, Current Stella had the greatest outfit on the other day when we went to a picnic for her new school.
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I really like the vest because if Im really tired or really buzzed and I close my eyes it almost feels like Gail the Puppy is on my lap and not actually Current Stella. Anyway, she wore this outfit and everyone was like, OMG, she’s so cute. Your dad and I were trying to mingle and meet people but we are both on the socially awkward side. Ok, thats not true, your Dad is way social. At some point your new teacher shows up and we are both thinking we should introduce ourselves. I was feeling a bit self conscious because everyone was sipping on Diet Coke and we were the only ones who brought champagne- I mean, hasn’t anyone here ever heard of Sunday Funday? Not wanting to be labeled “that family” I stayed clear of the teacher until I saw her reach into her cooler and pour herself a glass of white wine. Phew. We made our way over and began some pretty painful small talk. At some point she asked where Current Stella was. We look around because honestly I hadn’t seen her in quite some time. Your dad spots her on the top of a hill and points her out. Just then she takes all of her clothes off. All of them. Way to go kiddo, as if this whole thing wasn’t weird enough. She then reaches into her tiny purse that she brought from home and pulled out a super ugly sundress and put that on. It was a speechless moment for me. Your dad was so confused as to why she picked the top of a hill to use as a dressing room, and I was wondering what on God’s green (currently brown in California) earth possessed her to want to wear something so ugly? Who knows what the teacher was wondering but we didnt really talk to her after that. Here is a picture of what she decided to change into. In front of her whole school.

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Thank God for the hat, or she could have easily landed on some fashion police children’s blog.

Tomorrow is your G-oma’s birthday. G-oma is my Oma (Grand-mere) and your Great-grandmother. She’s my mother’s Madre. Got it? She’s turning 76. Your Goma loves to garden, sell things, dance, and she has the most amazing Instagram account I have ever seen. She’s in ridiculously good shape, does more things in a day then I do in a month and adores you to pieces.

I asked Current Stella to tell me about her G-oma. She said she’s really kind to her and she likes everything about her. She said G-oma throws great sleepovers and she has the most beautifullest garden ever.

Here is Current Stella with Goma this past summer in Oregon wearing that fucking dress again.

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Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, you say elektrickity instead of electricity and every time you say it my whole inside of my body is filled with a hot burning steam-type substance that temporarily disrupts my blood flow and I can feel my heartbeat in my throat and all my thoughts stand still and I have this moment of realization that my entire life’s happiness is felt when hearing you say that word and if you were not in my life saying words all wonky than I would turn to cement inside.

Love,

Mom