Sunday, May 29, 2011

Life is Not Fair

Breaking news: Life is not fair.

I have the proof right here. Guess who got warm sunshine T-SHIRT weather and a picnic with the boys this week? I'll give you a hint- IT WASN'T ME! Oh no, I was slaving away at work while Brent and the kids cavorted around Mount Pisgah and basked in the glory of spring's bounty.

Was there any bounty left for me this weekend? I guess not. Brrrr. It was 53 degrees this morning when we decided to brave the looming rain clouds and hike to the summit. Despite a brief downpour, our hike was fine. A BIT CHILLY FOR THE END OF MAY, but other than that things were just swell. Just swell.

Jack made it to the top (!!) and did so with minimal whining, so that was quite an accomplishment. Then he face planted into the mud on the way down and complained and sniffled about it for at least an hour. Life is not fair.

During a recent discussion with the extended family, the topic of embarrassing stories from one's childhood came up. Does it bother you when your parents talk about the dumb things you did as a child? Evidently some parents practice some discretion when it comes to these stories. My dad does not.

Sure, there are plenty of great stories to choose from. Like the Annie dress I just told you about or the time I was so excited to go on our vacation to Lake Shasta that I packed my suitcase weeks in advance and then forgot it at home. I had to wear my mom's dayglo one piece swimsuit whenever I wanted to get into the water. My cousin Jesse let me borrow some tube socks. I think I was 10. The photo evidence of this trip is totally humiliating.

(And the haircuts! Man, I think my parents should be embarrassed for letting me walk around like that. The home perms? What was my mother thinking??)

Also, for reasons that I will never understand, my dad took me to his evening law school classes when I was 4 or 5. (Now that I am the parent of a four-year-old I really have to question his judgement on this one. What the hell was he thinking?) Anyway, I used to bring along my roller skates and practice up and down the halls while he sat through lectures and met with his cohort. Allegedly I once interrupted a VERY IMPORTANT and SERIOUS meeting by bursting through the door on skates and announcing that I had mastered the art of spinning around (or some other rudimentary roller skating move) and I then proceeded to DEMONSTRATE this new skill, much to the amusement of the onlookers who, so the story goes, stifled their laughter and applauded charitably.

Every once in awhile I run into someone who attended this now infamous law school meeting and I am remembered as the girl with the roller skates. (I suppose that's better than being remembered as the girl with the bad perm... but still.)

I am okay with those silly stories, really I am. I like to laugh and if I have to be the butt of the joke, so be it. But what I really can't stand is the stories that involve teen angst. I was not a very happy teenager. Was it the hormones? The bad hair? The acid washed jeans? Who knows, but I do remember being pretty unpleasant to be around.

Most people go through some sort of a rebellious teenage phase and this is often considered a rite of passage. I did plenty of questionable things in my youth and I am certain that my parents worried plenty about me. No biggie, right? I turned out fine in the end. Except that most people reach adulthood and get to apologize or to laugh about these things in hindsight with their parents. And of course I don't get to do that with my mom. She never got to know the adult me- the one who has her shit together, so to speak.

And that really sucks because I think she and I would get along really well. I bet we would laugh about some of the stunts I pulled and she would cringe right along with me when Jack says and does the terrible things that I remember doing when I was his age.

Instead the stories from my unruly teenage years make me feel sad and empty. I wish that I could go back in time and relive those years so that I could have been a better person in the short time she knew me. I definitely have some regrets. Moments that I replay in my mind wishing I knew then what I know now so that I could say or do the right thing. Or so that I could at least say something.

Sometimes I see my own teenage students being total douche bags to their parents and I want to shake them by the shoulders and shout into their faces. But I know they wouldn't listen. I wouldn't have. Some lessons you just have to learn the hard way. Life is not fair.

And so it is with this perspective that I face Jack's all too familiar emotional roller coaster of meltdowns. But I have to operate under the assumption that one day he will get the chance to apologize (should he feel compelled to do so) and that we'll all laugh about his ridiculous temper tantrums (and the fact that we sometimes had to put him IN THE GARAGE during these epic fits). And of course we'll have the added benefit of consulting the blog archives for evidence...

(Before I forget to document this: Sawyer locked himself in the bathroom last week and Brent had to take off the door knob so we could get him out. I had visions of him ingesting some toxic substance or somehow drowning himself in the toilet, but he had spent those ten unsupervised minutes painting his legs and the cupboard with calamine lotion.)

Thanks for reading this far. Wow, things got kind of heavy there for a minute. Now I have a special reward for you! I know what you're thinking- I've perfected the chocolate cherry bread and I am currently en route to your house with a warm loaf of sweet bready goodness. I wish. No, the reality is that I need more of the original chocolate cherry bread (the one from Eugene City Bakery) so that I can do more... uh... scientific recipe analysis and ... uh... stuff. In other words MORE CHOCOLATE CHERRY BREAD, BRENT!

In the meantime I have been totally distracted by the concept of chocolate cherry brownies and I am pleased to tell you that through a process of rigorous baking and subsequent taste testing, I have found the Holy Grail of Cherry Chocolate Brownies. Or at least I am going to share with you the best recipe I could come up with. Get ready to drool.

Nacho Mama's Chocolate Cherry Brownies
(To the best of my recollection my mom did not ever make chocolate cherry brownies. See, again with the regret! I am certain she would have loved these..)

Melt 1 1/2 sticks of butter with 4 squares of unsweetened chocolate
Add 1 1/2-2 cups of sugar
Whisk in 3 or 4 eggs
(I have a theory that more eggs make the brownies fudgier. Foodies, am I correct?)
Pour in 2 tsp vanilla
Add 1 cup flour
Throw in a pinch of salt
Add 1 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
Toss in 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Bake in a buttered brownie pan for 30 minutes at 350. LET THEM COOL, then dive in. You will either thank me or hate me for this recipe. Either way, you should really bake up a pan of these goodies and take them to your parents and apologize for all of the bad things you did when you were a teenager.

Because I'd give anything to be able to share these with my own mom. And to say sorry for a few things, too.


  1. Maybe it was later, but when you and I were friends I thought you were an angel. Your mom was proud of you. And for what it's worth, I believe she knows what you are feeling right now. Families go on. Love you.

  2. Hi Cassadie,
    Here's your father's two-cents worth about "the heavy things." Don't forget that your mom did not behave exactly like the daughter HER parents had in mind. She was 19, and pretty sure they knew she was smoking pot (and cigarettes), dropping acid, hitchhiking back and forth to San Francisco with guys she hardly knew, getting rowdy at anti-war demonstrations, etc. Then she had the bad sense to move in with a guy 4 years older than her, a Vietnam vet no less. So when you hit that age, she understood that getting your ya-ya's out is part of the journey to adulthood. She never doubted that her intelligent, hardworking, self-confident, compassionate (to a fault?) and talented daughter would succeed in everything she found important. I know that, because we talked a lot about you and Nick in the months before she died.
    So don't feel badly for your mom that you were never able to explain or apologize. I know that the Graham Nash song "Teach Your Children" makes you sad, but your mom loved that song and firmly believed the message that children need to teach their parents as much as parents need to teach their children.
    Your mom would not be at all surprised by your well-lived life -- you are a terrific teacher, with a great husband, great kids, great friends, and an inspiring lifestyle. She would have been proud, but she was always very proud of you. Of the many opportunities you and your mom lost, I am certain that an apology from you would have been dismissed as unnecessary. Every thing you are and do in life has a bit of your mom in or about or around it. Living well is the greatest gift you can give her.
    Love always,
    Your dad

  3. wow... I think I am on an emotional roller coaster with this post cassadie! I miss you! I laughed out loud thinking of Sawyer painting the bathroom and himself with calamine lotion. I cried reading about your mom and then again reading your dad's comment. As for the brownies I am pretty sure more eggs make them more cake-like. not 100% sure, but 99% :) Em

  4. I laughed (at Sawyer locking himself in the bathroom and putting calamine lotion on himself with his 10 minutes of freedom), I cried (mostly at your dad's comment), and now I'm copying and pasting that recipe for chocolate cherry brownies. Great post, as usual. :)