Oh Yes, I’ve Leveled Up

Last Sunday, I said farewell to my thirties and it seems forty doubles under eye-bag size over night.

Dragon cooked bacon and English muffins for our breakfast, served next to a giant bouquet of dahlias and sunflowers. Little Fox braved a crowded library to decorate a balloon for me the day prior, so it remains as decor in our home until it deflates.

We went into Seattle, celebrated our friend’s sixth birthday, which included a balloon pit and a pinata filled with Legos. We ate at La Cocina Cantina, which holds decades of memories for my partner and I. From Nuflours Bakery, we picked up my enormous birthday cake and eight (gluten free!) eclairs. The sun broke free of the clouds for a few hours, though we ran through a brief torrent on the way to the car.

Upon returning home, I didn’t have to do anything but read and play Hollow Knight, but come evening, none of us were terribly hungry. I ran out for a sushi snack (plus yellow curry noodles) to share around the family, with the agreement we’d go out for a proper dinner later this week.

Friends posted reviews of my most recent book, other friends accepted digital copies to review later. One group of friends stopped by while we were out to leave a gift on my front door. Another sent me a gift to try out a local float tub! My partner purchased Cirque de Soleil tickets to see in the near future, and since we can’t afford a proper vacation right now (my requested gift), we agreed to at least drive up to Leavenworth in December for a day trip to take the kids to see the “Christmas Town.” I haven’t been since I was 15. The kids snuggled with me to end the day on a special note. I felt truly blessed, despite allergies and inflammation the whole week prior.

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Catching Up on Summer: Part II

WHAT WE DID

In the last post, I focused on Dragon’s birthday party, but after mid-July, I somehow managed to keep us busy every weekend. Most notably, we took the kids to their first Renaissance Faire for their fairy/mythical beasts weekend. I’d purchased a family day pass back at the start of January, which proved a wonderful way to avoid huge fees. The kids dressed as winged fairies, I put on my satyr horns, and my partner wore the new silver vest we’d bought him for his birthday.

We ate messy foods, drank copious amounts of birch and root beer, watched Scaramouch buffoonery, tried our hand at archery (the Little Fox hit his target on the second try!), and purchased a soprano ukulele for the family to learn to play together (and we’ve been learning a little each week). While the children rode a enormous wooden rocking unicorn, I danced with death in the square on screaming feet.

Before this though, the kids and I went to the U-District for a special reading of Space Opera by Catherynne Valente, followed by falafel and fries at a favorite dive on the Ave. Having read more than two-thirds of the book, we dressed up for the occasion. Little Fox donned a dramatic coat and a disco ball necklace, I braved a pair of striped pants I’d yet to wear in public, and the Dragon dressed like the curator of an art gallery.

The weekend after the double birthday, my father was in town, and we spent the afternoon with him at the park, followed by sushi for dinner. The next day was my aunt’s annual summer bbq, where we engaged in polite conversation (safe topics) with our family until the conservatives left, and then we entered a debate between the old school Democrats and the progressive Democratic Socialists. It was wonderful hearing my youngest first cousin not let down on topics like universal healthcare and basic income. His partner was equally willing to take on the discussion about the environment and farming.

The weekend after, we enjoyed watching a local teen production of Footloose in which one of my students was a chorus member, and her acting debut. I had the privilege of holding her weeks-old baby brother at the end of the show. The Ren Faire came the following weekend. Summer really felt over and done when the rains returned and the nights turned cold.

 

WHAT WE READ

A curious change has come to our evening routine. My partner still reads a picture book or part of a comic book to the Little Fox, but instead of my usual singing, I’ve started in on novels. Though I’d said in June I wanted to read Neverending Story to the Little Fox, we instead finished Space Opera, and read Bunnicula. When complete, he asked me to purchase his own copy so he could read it again and again. We’re about to complete Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. I’m blown away by the pacing of this particular book, as I grew up watching the film. There’s no magic in this book, it’s rather practical, and there’s so much more to the backstory for the rats, I love that I get to discover this with my son. He wants to rewatch the movie after we finish the book; we can discuss the differences and how he feels about them when we do.

 

On the side, I’ve read the first few volumes of Princess Jellyfish (see below), Djinn by Sang Kromah, and am nearly finished with a sensory feast in a slim book called The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark. They’re different flavors, and each one a delight. Princess Jellyfish appeals to my geeky and queer sides, I love the sweet innocent undercurrent of the story. Djinn is a young adult novel focusing on Liberian myths to which I’ve had little exposure, and they brought a refreshing, unpredictable change to the genre that left me hopeful for the next book. Then there’s the smooth, tight writing of The Black God’s Drums that takes us to an alternate nineteenth century New Orleans where sky pirates and orisha gods are at the heart of a young girl’s story.

 

 

WHAT WE WATCHED

I can’t recall exactly when we started rewatching Xena: Warrior Princess, but we’re nearing the end of the second season. Though we’ve also watched the new MLP episodes and occasionally a Samurai Jack or two, we’ve been running through the show fairly consistently each evening. Both Dragon and my partner have seen some of these episodes, but neither have seen the whole series. Even I missed the last season or two. Little Fox wasn’t keen on them at first, but now he’s telegraphing Xena’s battle moves in his pretend play, so she’s growing on him.

The kids and I binged watched the short series Princess Jellyfish, based on the manga of the same name. It’s a charming, usually silly show about a group of otaku (geeky) women who live together in a large, aging building targeted for redevelopment. They’re each obsessed with varying hobbies, the M.C.’s is jellyfish in large part because of a memory with her mother who died soon after. She runs into a “stylish,” a woman who dresses in high fashion and make-up, and engages in social activities that are difficult for the introverted group. The “stylish” in question turns out to be a young man with a penchant for forthrightness, fashion, and avoiding a career in politics like his father and brother. Some of it’s a bit over the top, but it’s wholly charming, and Little Fox’s favorite character is the young man in frilly dresses who, coincidentally, bears some similarities in appearance with him.

Just recently, Pandora stopped working consistently on our home computers. Songs would stutter, the computer wouldn’t let the audio play at all, and sometimes the page simply wouldn’t load at all. So I canceled our paid subscriptions, and put a little of that money into PBS Passport shows.

 

We’ve finally started watching The Great British Bake Off (a.k.a. The Great British Baking Show) after years of hearing from our friends how amazing it is. Folks, I’m always in awe of the food they make, but better yet, I’m touched by the way they treat the bakers–I’ve cried at the end of each episode thus far because when they let someone go, there’s so much support and love around said person, it challenges the notion that competitions need to be vicious and cruel. The way the hosts treat their guests flies in the face of American shows like Hell’s Kitchen where verbal abuse is not only the standard for communication, it’s what brings in the ratings. I prefer watching a show where talent and hard earned skill is acknowledged, and mistakes are seen as something to be improved upon, not shamed. Little Fox is rooting for 17 year old Martha in the first season.

 

WHAT WE ATE

At the Arcade Birthday: hummus, chips, veggies, gluten free cakey chocolate doughnut holes (“bonbons” from Flying Apron), orange doughnuts, and other sundry nibbles.

At Dinner with Papa: salmon and hamachi rolls and sashimi, edamame, miso soup.

At the BBQ: green salad, burnt steaks, my father’s baked salmon (soy sauce, olive oil, and lime juice), ice cream with sprinkles and chocolate syrup.

At the Renaissance Faire: sausages and caramelized onions, giant pickles, fries, root beer, birch beer, and lemonade.

 

Catching Up on Summer: Part I

When last I posted, I mentioned the Dragon’s impending adulthood. Yet our summer was filled with far more activity after–we had plans every weekend–that went beyond our usual summer experiences, I never stopped to write about them.

So the double birthday. Every year, my partner and daughter share their birthday, and some years one of them is emphasized more than the other. In this case, Dragon turning 18 took center stage over my partner turning 48 (but look out 2020, because I have plans for 50).

We’d had a conversation while walking through a lovely part of Kirkland, and passed by an exquisite wedding dress in a shop window. We both agreed it would be wonderful to wear it, though it looked too small for me and too large for them. I mentioned that though I never wish to marry, I always thought it would be fun to throw an elaborate party and wear a dress that nice to celebrate life.

Despite insisting they didn’t want a party before, Dragon decided that’s exactly the kind of party they needed. Of course, we didn’t have the budget for a full-scale wedding, but the fancy dress? That was key. Not only were we all going to wear wedding or formal dresses, we were going to do it in … AN ARCADE.

Unfortunately, there isn’t the same level of arcade saturation these days as there had been in my teens, and many that exist in our area are either 21+ or filled with dark rooms, couches, and wall monitors, which we could easily achieve at our own house. We wanted pinball. We wanted PacMan and Mario. Dragon wanted Dance Dance Revolution, and by the gods, and some good references by friends, we found one: Another Castle – Arcade Edition in Edmonds, WA.

They still have machines that take quarters, let us bring in our own food (not drinks, and didn’t mind us bringing a couple dozen people in.

People were a bit skeptical at first, but once the Dragon and I had our dresses and veils, my partner was ready to buy a dress–a merlot red–and upon seeing his dad in a gorgeous dress, Little Fox wanted a new dress for himself. We thought he had a decent one that reminded me of a summer flower girl, but he wanted something over the top. He chose a golden dress with delicate flowers, and insisted on gold shoes and a gold crown. He loved the whole outfit, but couldn’t wear the dress in the car seat because of the wire hoop at the bottom of the dress (he put it on at the arcade).

Our friends came in twos and threes, most of them dressed in their finest. My boyfriend came in the suit he

wore at his wedding a couple decades before. One of my students wore her prom dress, and looked stunning. We ordered sodas and water, grabbed a bucket of quarters ($60 worth), and set about playing every interesting game available. The teens primarily stuck to DDR, which proved far more challenging in a wedding dress than casual clothes.

It was a load of fun, and we all agreed the arcade was exactly what we needed (we want to go back again just for a bit of craic). When the adults around us started buying lots of beer and other alcohol, we started packing up. We drove back home thrilled.

Wedding-Themed Birthday at an Arcade?

I give it five stars.