Finding My Aesthetic

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I’ve been singing the phrase “finding my aesthetic” to the tune of REM’s Losing My Religion for days. It’s silly. It’s just a funny thing that resonated with me. Let me explain.

A while back I was snooping through Bug’s secret “spam” instagram account (that I have reluctantly let her have like the overly-indulgent parent that I am) where she communicates with her friends and I came across one of her buddy’s accounts. It was a series of nine photos from a rainy day. Each photo was gray and minimalistic but completely beautiful and artfully taken. A vase of dead flowers on a windowsill. Raindrops on a windowpane with soft pastel foliage in the background, a cup of tea steaming… it was moody and amazing.  I couldn’t believe a twelve year-old captured them. And then on top of that the captions were even better.They were riddled with cuss words that I don’t want my kids saying at all but I had to admire their succinctness and the hilarious juxtaposition to the zen-like photos they accompanied. It was cute and brilliant.

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Of course I had to have a talk with Bug about her friend and how much they cuss. Done and done.

But I had to admit I admired her friend’s aesthetic. That’s a thing these days: aesthetics. They talk about their “aesthetic” all the time like it’s their personal brand and style guide. These kids use their instagram accounts like I used to sell graphic design to corporations. They have distinct styles and rules and they stick to them like they were launching a company. It’s kind of amazing.

The kids use their instagram accounts completely differently than I do. I take a ton of pictures and document my life. They use it as a personal portfolio to hold their place on the internet and share their brand with their friends or maybe even sponsors if they blow up and become influencers someday. They curate nine photos with a color scheme and mood and then delete those photos and replace them with new when they are ready to move on to the next theme. Instagram is more of a visual place holder to advertise who they are and then everything else is done through stories and instant messages. It’s funny and weird but probably pretty smart since the real meat of what they are doing on the internet is hard for a parent like me to track and control because it automatically disappears after 12 hours or so. Kids man. Always outsmarting their parents.

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Anyway. I think there is a positive to every negative. I know there are a zillion things wrong with letting your kids have social media and I am fighting a war with mine. Believe me, I am in it and involved and fighting my head off.  If I could go back in time and take back my decision to give them phones I would. Phones are ruining our brains.

But on the other hand I am pretty impressed with their skills both creativity and socially. They adapt so quickly.  They create amazing things!  Will this someday help them in a world that is getting more and more virtual? I have no idea. What I do know is that I am impressed. More and more I am letting go of control and often I’m pleasantly surprised with their actions. They do remember the values I’ve tried to instill in them. They do use the internet with respect and draw boundaries where they should. Who knew! Kids aren’t always trying to be bad!! Not that I’m going to make great claims but I don’t want to judge too early either.

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Anyway I’ve been singing “Finding my Aesthetic” and thinking about curating my nine photos. Of course I’m not going to do that fully because I don’t really care that much AND I like to take a million photos AND NOT delete them but it is fun to play around with. Since my background is in graphic design and art it’s something I’ve always done on some level anyway. It’s just been fun to talk about out loud with my kids and they don’t even laugh at me.

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Bug has been wearing this gold sweatshirt for days (too many and not showering—ew!) and borrowing my old red knitted hat. Then I got a new gold knitted hat myself and I’ve been wearing this really old but warm red flannel quilted jacket. We visited my parents and went on a hike with my dad in the early morning hours and Bug and I joked about how our new *aesthetic* was gold and red. And it is! I love gold and red right now. Add in a little early morning blue sky and the graphic designer in me is jumping up and down for joy.

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Pretty, right?

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And of course you have your minor notes of blue and gray chiming in. I love this old owl lantern that my mom has had forever. I remember playing with it when I was a kid so it made me super happy to see it in their new home in the desert. Have I mentioned how much I love their new place? Yes, I have. It’s very much *my aesthetic* as the kids say. (insert eye-rolling here)

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Bug and I had a great time hiking and taking pictures. I love that I have an artistic child who gets me. Sometimes I miss the crazy eccentric artistic-ness of my ex (that was something I really admired about him) but guess, what? It showed up in my kid! So that is really nice. And she doesn’t smoke or get grumpy when I chew too loudly so win, win!

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My dad took us to see the maze stone that is nearby his house. It’s a landmark protected by the state. It’s this really cool maze carved into rock by the Native Americans who used to live there. Sadly, because people are idiots and like to spray paint rocks it has to be protected with a bunch of ugly fences.

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But it was definitely worth the hike in the early morning air. I love that there are still places to explore.

I’ve explored my own neighborhood to exhaustion and I’m starting to get bored of it. Lately, I haven’t been able to take the dogs on walks on the nature trail by my house because Whiskey is allergic to something on the path (Wheatens are allergic to everything). He keeps licking his paws until they are infected and it’s become a very expensive problem. So we’ve had to stay inside and it’s the pits. When he gets better we’ll be able to walk again but we might have to stay away from the nature trail. And invest in some fragrance-free baby wipes to clean his feet after every walk. Note to self: never get a Wheaten again. They are so so so loveable but high high high maintenance!

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But back to my kid. That’s her hat now. She’s stealing more and more of my clothes lately which I take as a compliment.  She looks pretty good in gold and red. I guess she can stay in my nine curated photos. Just kidding! I’m not kicking anybody out of my instagram feed if they don’t match.

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But I’ll definitely take more photos of you if you do!

(skips away humming REM)

The Terrible No-Good Apple-Picking Weekend

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Most people would take it easy on a weekend before they jet off to another country but I did not. I decided to schedule an apple-picking expedition with my kids because that’s what you do when you are “basic” and it’s fall and you can’t fit it in any other time.  But really, there is a reason so many white people like to go stand out in an orchard and take pictures of themselves picking apples. It’s pretty! And it makes all the cozy seasonal bells go off in our heads which aren’t really going off normally because we live in Southern California where seasons do not exist.  I hate pumpkin spice lattes so I have to find my seasonal jollies where I can.

We were due for a visit to my mom and the kids hadn’t painted pottery in sooooo long. They’d been begging to go since this last summer but we never got the weekends right. It was time. They wanted to see my mom’s new house etc etc…

EXCEPT an epic storm blew in and messed everything up! As you know we don’t have weather here so when something so much a little puffy cloud blows across the horizon we all send out massive storm warnings and freak out. The roads are slick because they are covered in oil and dust that hasn’t been wet in half a year and everyone goes crazy driving their cars into each other.

We left as soon as the girls got out of school but that didn’t help the traffic problem at all. In fact, I think everyone and their cousin had plans to get out of town at that exact same time. Add some rain and it was mayhem. Google maps routed us off to some tangent mountain road and then stuck us there for HALF AN HOUR because of course mountain roads are not any safer than any other road and of course there were five wrecks. Good times!

Actually it was kind of awesome though because we didn’t have wifi or a radio signal because of said mountains and the girls had to actually get off their phones and talk to me. It was great. We sang, we laughed, we connected our bluetooth to Joon’s playlist and rocked out with the sun roof open. It was QUALITY BONDING TIME with a light sprinkle.

Long story short we made it to the pottery painting shop, painted until 9pm, had a quick Panda Express dinner (my worst favorite place to go but the girl’s favorite) and then finally made it to my mom’s at like 10pm.

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But the story doesn’t stop there! Oh no! There were spiders and a few mishaps with my mom’s dog that may have traumatized Joon who is not used to our ways in the sticks. Spiders and poop are not Joon’s cup of tea. They are not really mine or Bug’s either but we’ve been to this rodeo before and have grown a thicker skin.

My dad is away earning extra money driving a potato truck for some family in Idaho so my mom is left alone to take care of her animals by herself. This is all fine except my mom has a bad knee and she can’t take her dog out for the long walks her dog is accustomed to. Her dog is Miss Priss and doesn’t like to go outside in the yard and poop. She wants to go on long excursion walks to the special pooping place under a willow tree or on some nice grass up by the clubhouse. So you can see how some bad things might happen. My mom is at her wits end. Add some rain and her Miss Priss dog is even more uncooperative. My mom is literally pushing the dog outside by it’s rump and the dog is putting the breaks on with all four paws. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so frustrating and sad for my mom.

It’s 11 o’clock at night, I’ve walked the dog to the special green grass at the clubhouse and I’m trying to settle the girls into their collapsing recliner beds. I’m soothing their spider phobias when suddenly I hear my mom call out for help from her covered patio. Guess what?! IT’S FLOODED. Of course it is. Because we don’t know what to do with rain and all the drains are plugged up with leaves and debris.  My mom is still in the process of unpacking so of course her covered patio is stacked with cardboard boxes that are now standing in three inches in water getting soggy.

You know what’s sad? I’ve been to this rodeo before too. My mom has had so many valuables ruined by flooding over the years (more a side effect of hoarding than weather) it’s sort of created a trigger for all of us. It’s almost midnight and there we are hauling boxes to her garage, wading through cold water in our pajamas. Good times!

I gotta hand it to my mom though. These things happen regularly so we just grin and bear it and think about how it will make a great story someday.

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Somehow we all got over that and got a few hours of sleep. We woke up early and took the dog for a long excursion walk in the fog. It was so pretty. I think we all forgot about the trauma from the night before because now the weather was creating all kinds of dramatic instagram content for us. Win, win!

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We loved it.

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It’s so pretty! Click, click, click. Snap, snap, snap. Musically, musically, musically.

Then we went to breakfast at IHOP because we love that and headed off to the local hills to go apple picking! It was super foggy and a little treacherous but we made it.

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We were worried that the apple farms might be closed because it was still drizzling pretty hard. But they were open and they were magical because they weren’t super crowded with tourists like they usually are. In fact, now that I’ve been here in this “awful” weather I don’t think I can go back in any other kind of weather. Give me drizzle and fog any day over crowds of people and sunshine.

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I mean, look at these photos! The secret on the top photo of me is that I accidentally left the *food* filter on my phone camera (which rocks by the way) and it made everything all orange and fall-ish looking. That’s why the blur is so extreme. But whatever, I’ll take it.

I hauled my big camera around in my purse all day but I didn’t take it out because it was raining all the time and we were kind of in a hurry to get out of the rain. Nobody thought ahead and packed a raincoat or an umbrella or anything. What are those anyway? We don’t even know what they are!apple-picking-2

I really wish I would have set up a proper photoshoot though because this magical combination of colors and weather will probably never happen again. In fact I know it won’t. I have to move to Oregon or somewhere like that.

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Long story short we had kind of an awesome weekend even though we sat in traffic for hours, we nearly got in a few wrecks, we sloshed around in water in our pajamas, we dealt with poop and spiders and tween-age angst…the list is so long. It should have been a very horrible no good weekend but it wasn’t! What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

OR maybe getting awesome photos for your social media far outweighs the crap of dealing with every day problems. I think if this had happened back in 1980-something we would have groaned and complained and filed it away as an epic failure of a weekend but now in 2018 we look at a bunch of rosy, pretty pictures and call it an epic success! We remember what we want to, right?

I will say I am going to remember all the laughing and singing with the girls forever. I love these girls so much.  Of course we missed Payam and wished he could have come along too (he had work and somebody had to stay home with the dogs) but it was super sweet to have this time together. Especially since I am leaving for Italy today!

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Every time I ask the girls what they want me to bring them back from Italy they say a plane ticket. They want to come with me so bad. We all have the travel bug since London and Wales. I want to save up to take Bug and Joon (and Payam!) to Paris on Bug’s 16th birthday. I always promised I’d take Rapunzel but I never could make it happen. Now I really have to make it happen.

I should wrap this post up here because it feels like the end but I wanted to share about the new app that Bug accidentally spent ninety-nine dollars on. That was another part of our horrible, no-good, apple-picking weekend. We were bumping along on that mountain road and Bug asks me if she can download this really cool cinemagraph app. I’m driving and dealing with people slamming on their breaks in front of me and causing wrecks so I’m only half paying attention to her. But I’ve seen those photos that are part moving gif and part still photo so I tell her to go ahead and spend the $9.99. It seems like a pretty good deal to me.

I can’t figure out how to embed the picture right now but click here to see what it does. Really neat, right?

Then I get an email on my phone, that I look at even though I’m driving, and it says that iTunes has charged me $99 for a year subscription to Cinemagraph. Not the $9.99 that Bug said it was. What?!!  OOPS x 1000.  This is what I get for driving in weather and traffic and approving apps without paying attention.

The girls figure out a way to share the app on their two phones and spend the next hour or so making the coolest moving pictures ever and my anger fades. In fact, I love this app and I’m super bummed that I can’t use it on my Samsung phone! The girls have promised to edit photos for me and I think I will take them up on it. In fact I know I will.

And that is the end of my terrible no-good apple picking weekend. Not too terrible after all!

Next up: ITALY!!!