Regaining Hipster Cred: 12 Steps Back, 5 Leaps Forward

I’m not gonna lie; I’ve been in danger of losing my hipster status as I slowly moved into Regular Mom Territory. I think I’m back.

When the term “hipster” started being applied to me in about 2008, I was perhaps the only person on earth to embrace the title. Of course, denial of one’s own hipster status is one of the universally acknowledged criteria for hipsterdom, so I was already on pretty thin (locally sourced, artisanal) ice. But I was so flattered to be seen as hip and/or young! Over the last several years, my hipster identity started to slip. Here, in no particular order, are the things that have happened since 2009 that made me think about changing the name of my blog to just “Mother,” or whatever iteration thereof hadn’t already been claimed by the Internet.

  1. I stopped relying entirely on public transportation and my bike. I purchased a used 2002 VW Jetta.
  2. I stopped acting. More about that decision here.
  3. I settled into a full-time job in arts administration. This is less hipster than my previous full-time job doing administrative work for tech companies because arts administration made me feel like as long I was facilitating the production of art, I didn’t really have to make any art of my own. When I was an accounting assistant at Defense Technology Or Whatever Incorporated LLC, you can bet your sweet patoot I was out of the office and on my way to rehearsal at 6 p.m. When I worked in the arts full time, I ate/slept/breathed my job. I had good health insurance. That’s not hip.
  4. I stopped smoking. Please note that I’d been smoking American Spirits, which rival only Parliament Lights in hipster cred.
  5. I started walking with a cane. It’s a stylish cane, but that first old-lady cane with the pink roses on it from CVS was a real humdinger. (Which actually ended up working for me––Plenty of people thought I was using it ironically. Yay?)
  6. We bought a house, moving out of our c. 1925 apartment in the cool part of Capitol Hill and into a ranch house in the affordable part of Hyattsville.
  7. I stopped buying clothes at thrift stores, as there was no Goodwill by my new suburban home. I started shopping in the maternity section at Target.
  8. I had a baby.
  9. I dressed that baby in predominantly unhip clothing, leaning instead towards a wardrobe that was cheap or free. Circo hand-me-downs all day, son!
  10. I kept wearing my Liz Lang Maternity collection, because I’m not gonna spend all that money on clothes that I’ll only wear for four months. Plus, once you embrace jeans with elastic waistbands, it’s real hard to go back to the oppression of standard denim.
  11. Andy and I stopped podcasting, instead spending our free time living with our child.
  12. After the well-worn Jetta broke all the way down (on the side of the road, at midnight, with our 8-month-old in the back seat), Andy and I bought a brand-new Honda CRV. It has room for Charlie’s future sports equipment in the back.

So there I was, in my maternity jeans, driving my SUV from my office job to my suburban home, clinging to my chunky glasses frames for dear life. BUT DON’T WORRY:

  1. A year ago, I left my longtime employer and started freelancing as a writer/copy editor/social media consultant while I finished up my M.F.A. in creative writing.
  2. As such, I spent most of the last year being a semi-impoverished grad student.
  3. Just under two weeks ago, we moved into our cozy c. 1925 apartment in the cool part of L.A…
  4. …So that I can pursue writing full time. I’m that girl working on her pilot with her laptop at the independently run artisanal coffee shop in Eagle Rock.
  5. I smoked three Parliament Lights on my new balcony. Don’t yell at me. They were awesome (and then disgusting).

I haven’t gotten any younger, and youth is an asset to any would-be hipster. However, I think I can classify myself as at least an “aging hipster” without running into a branding problem.

In conclusion, if you’d had concerns over the last year or so that this blog wasn’t meeting your hipster needs, let me assure you that the record player is up and running, and that we just moved in across the street from a vinyl store. Plus a used book shop, a sassily named antiques place, 17 coffee bars, a few regular bars, a fish taco stand, and a Jack In the Box.

Two tacos for 99 cents. I’m living my best life.

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DON’T WORRY. I’m obviously taking my child to art installations as I strengthen my hipster cred. He might even be the first owner of the non-Target-brand shirt featured in this picture.

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A Failed Bucket List For a Soon-to-be-Former Washingtonian

We’re moving back to Los Angeles. Soon. Like soon enough that my chances of completing my “1000 Things to Do In D.C. Before I Die” is looking pretty grim. At summer’s outset, when a fall move back to L.A. was officially decided upon, my list began to take form.

  1. Take Charlie to the Air & Space Museum
  2. Take Charlie to the College Park Aviation Museum.
  3. Go see Hamilton on Broadway. Not a D.C. thing, but L.A. will not have $13 Bolt Bus rides to Penn Station.
  4. Bring Charlie to Fredericksburg like 12 weekends in a row so he could play with various cousins and doting adult relatives.
  5. Eat dinner at Jaleo with Andy. We’ve been meaning to. Small plates! Iberian-style! With octopus! It would be like our favorite thing.
  6. See a burlesque show at that place on H street. (Wait– Just looked it up. The Palace of Wonders, later renamed Red Palace, closed at the beginning of 2013. Double-damn!)
  7. Have a quality Sunday brunch with each of my beloved D.C.-area friends and colleagues. (Maybe at the Red Palace! Wait–)
  8. Host a swingin’ house-cooling party, for more quality time with beloved D.C.-area friends and colleagues.
  9. Read all my Real Simple and Sunset Magazines, which I’ve just been putting in a beautiful stack since Charlie was born.
  10. Bike trail!
  11. Take Charlie on the recently restored carousel at historic Glen Echo Park.
  12. Have a beer with Joe Biden.
  13. Get invited to a State Dinner. I don’t even care if it’s for a country known for their great food.
  14. Spot a bald eagle in my neighborhood, close enough to take an identifiable picture of it.
  15. Have happy hour at McClellan’s Retreat, because California will never favor me with a bar whose name is a one-percenter Civil War joke.
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    This is a for real boundary stone, right? I found it in Friendship Heights. It’s a stone marking the District boundary, so I feel like even if it’s not official, it should get me points somehow. UPDATE: This is way too fancy to be original.

    Find all the District boundary stones. (I think I found one on my way home from the doctor’s last week, so just like 39 to go!)

  17. Take a solo trip to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. My previous visits have been tours with colleagues or youthful field trips wherein I had to keep my shit together. I just want to not tell anyone where I’m going one Tuesday morning and spend some time sobbing by the confiscated shoes.
  18. Eat everything delicious. Ben’s Chili Bowl was once high on this list, but Bill Cosby’s muraled face smiles at me every time I walk by. While that used to be charming, these days it puts me in no mood for a half-smoke.
  19. Go get my nose pierced with my friend Cynthia, like we swore a year ago (over wine) that we would.

As the summer has taken shape, my revised bucket list has become much smaller:

  1. Have literally 11 vein-repair surgeries on my legs, plus some ultrasounds to make sure said surgeries are working.
  2. Rest between those surgeries and allow you, my beloved D.C.-area friends and colleagues, to come over and drink wine with me in the evenings. Double points if you bring a casserole or entertain my child.
  3. Yard sale to end all yard sales! (This Saturday, August 20th. If you know me in real life, come on over and take four book cases, two sofas, two futons, and ~150 theatre books off my hands. I’ll provide the wine, and I’ll give you a sweet deal. Like probably free.)
  4. Pack. HOLY SHIT I HAVE TO PACK THIS ENTIRE GODDAMN HOUSE WORTH OF CRAP AND SQUEEZE EVERYTHING INTO AN L.A. RENTAL APARTMENT. And I’m not allowed to lift more than 10 pounds until September.

The comparison between these two lists kind of makes me want to drink myself into a coma and pass out on the steps of Smithsonian Castle. But I do have a pretty goddamned great list of the things I’ve done while I lived here:

  1. Worked on a U.S. Congressional campaign (from that time my cousin Adam ran as the Democratic candidate in VA-1).
  2. Visited all the Smithsonian museums, sometimes even getting paid to give tours.
  3. Lived on Capitol Hill. Like right on Maryland Avenue, no foolin’.
  4. Lived in Arlington, close enough to the National Cemetery (during the Bush administration) to hear taps in the still of the morning more often than felt reasonable.
  5. Been invited to the White House, as a guest, to greet a foreign dignitary. Therefore: Have occupied the same space as President Obama and (at the time) Secretary Clinton. I took pictures. It was great.
  6. Have on two separate occasions been close enough to Defense Secretary Colin Powell that I could have grabbed his butt. I OBVIOUSLY DIDN’T, but both times it crossed my mind that I theoretically COULD.
  7. Been in a room with Joe Biden. Too far away  for us to lock eyes and recognize our shared humanity, but still good.
  8. Stood at the foot of every major monument and felt feelings of awe and patriotism and purpose and responsibility.
  9. Visited the Korean War Memorial at night enough times.
  10. Spotted senators and cabinet members in neighborhood restaurants. (Usually it was Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, and usually he was wearing a bolo tie.)
  11. Birthed a baby at Sibley Memorial Hospital! That’s an advanced achievement.
  12. Lived, for a brief time, in the attic of a house in Alexandria that was older than the whole country. (Just by a couple years. It smelled like Revolution up in there.)
  13. Commuted on my bike through the Capitol grounds and down Pennsylvania Avenue. (I never managed to ride the bike back UP Capitol Hill, though. That was a life goal that I couldn’t quite manage at the end of any given work day.)
  14. Soaked in so many of the moments, saying to myself or to Andy, “How is this our life?”

Washington and its surrounding environs has been wonderful to us, and now it’s time for what’s next.

Murder Veins 2: Revenge of the Great Saphenous

Charlie’s on day 2 of summer camp (woooooooo! Best $150 I’ve ever spent!) Yesterday he went swimming, which I didn’t know was going to happen or I would have properly fretted in advance of the trip to the pool. The day school didn’t pull one over on me: I signed a theoretical release form saying it was okay to take him on whatever field trips may happen this summer, up to and including a pool visit. I packed him some swim trunks and sunblock on the off chance they might come in handy this week.

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Me with correctly timed Valium and the dope shades they give you before they turn on the lasers. Procedure #4 of 10.

I’ve been going through a bunch of vein surgeries. I’m halfway through a set of 10(!) of them, and I’m in an insurance-mandated, three-week rest period between the “Cut & Thread & Zap” and the “Just Cutting or Whatever Because I’m Not Going to Google What a Phlebectomy Is Before I Get One Because That Sounds Gross.” There are five of each genre. There should have only been four of the Cut & Thread & Zap.

It was advertised as an easy procedure.The room wasn’t big enough to accommodate me, three health-care practitioners, that big blue sheet (like from when I had a C-section), the zapping machine, and a husband to hold my hand. So the husband fell off the guest list. Hell, there wasn’t room for my purse. I put it, along with my shoes, on the medical scale wedged behind the operating table.

Maybe 45 minutes into it: “Katherine, we are going to stop. We will try again in a couple of days. I will write you a prescription for Valium, and your husband can come in here with you.” I’m super-tough in a lot of circumstances, both physically and emotionally, and I’m often surprised by what things hurt so much that I break down. Getting a catheter woven into the vein that runs from my knee to my groin, even with a few shots of novocain, broke me down in all the ways. Apparently my veins are thicker than most (though the assistant with the thick European accent said they were “very sick,” and it took some back-and-forth for me to understand what was going on). “You mean it didn’t work?” I asked.

I was nervous, and that made the vein seize and stutter (and another word I can’t come up with right now but means both of those things at once). Crying didn’t help the matter, and I fucking cried. Those factors, in conjunction with a general Bad Case of the Leg Veins, meant they only got the catheter about halfway in, all told. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. I said it over and over, until it made sense that none of what I had just gone through will make me any better.

Two days later, we tried again, with a husband and some Valium. I took the medication too early, I think, because I was stone-cold sober and anxious as fuck by the time we started. But I had Andy holding my hand. We got through it, and the doctor noted what a remarkable husband I have, because “none of the other husbands do that. Well, okay, one other one did.”

By the fifth surgery, we had it dialed in. It hurt, but whatever. I took my Valium at the right time, so I found the affair stressful and painful, but there was nothing akin to freaking out. To keep my mind off the leg stuff, Andy had his phone and was searching Zillow for houses in L.A., where we’re moving this September. Occasionally he’d say, “This one has a pool. That would be nice.” Whenever he said “pool,” I saw an image of Charlie’s little blond mop, his shoes and clothes still as on he floats face-down in the water. “I don’t think I want a pool.”

Andy dropped off and picked Charlie up from summer camp yesterday. All at once, I got the report that it was Pool Day, and that Charlie had literally jumped right in. He had a great time and talked about it all day and as he was falling asleep last night. Got a little sunburned on his lower back. Big success.

How did he know to jump right in? How did he know how not to drown? How do pre-school teachers not feel terror with the notion of just taking a big group of two-to-five-year-olds to the pool for a little swim? How was he not scared?

Maybe he takes after his dad.

When I picked him up today, Miss Ann let me know that when it was time to pick up toys, and they turned the lights off and sang the clean-up song, he got very upset and started hitting himself. His teacher said she walked him over to the toys and helped him pick them up, but she seemed concerned about the hitting. I said that over the last month or so, when he’s been very upset and seems like he wants to hit or bite me, he instead bites himself… kind of hard. He’s doing a good job of being gentle with everyone else, but he seems like he’s turning his frustration inward. Miss Ann said I should talk to his pediatrician.

Maybe he takes after his mom.

Diagnosis: Murder Veins

This summer, Andy and I will be celebrating 15 years of togetherness with a Jamaican vacation. Also this summer, we’ll lose Andy’s good, employer-sponsored health insurance. Armed with these two pieces of information, I booked myself for a consultation at a vein clinic. You know, one of those places that will laser away your unsightly leg veins and maybe make insurance pay for it. Motivation: Look good in a swimsuit. And maybe stop ruining wedding photos with my my renegade legs.

I’ve long wondered what’s to be done about the state of my veins. They’re pretty impressive, and there’s a family history of women getting their veins “stripped” in Ye Olde Olden Days. I don’t know what that entails and I refuse to Google it, because ew. I haven’t worn shorts since 9th grade, and even then it was with opaque, mustard-yellow tights, because I know what looks good. Mini skirts have been out of the question, mostly because the last time I could get away with wearing them, I probably thought they were sinful. (I might still think they’re sinful.)

Neither my puritanical upbringing nor my feminist conversion give much allowance for vanity. Blow-dryers? I don’t understand them. Eyelash curler? Forbidden. Exercise? Never touch the stuff. Teeth-whitening strips? Fuck you. I classified fixing varicose veins the same way I think about getting a breast lift: Maybe a good tax write-off if I decide to go into professional stripping, but otherwise not easily justifiable. They still bothered me, but not enough for me to take any particular action. For years, my doctors would say things to the tune of, “Holy shit! Look at your fucking legs!” And I’d say, “Yes, doctor, what’s to be done?” Responses were as follows:

  1. “Insurance won’t cover it until you’re out of your childbearing years, because the veins will just come right back when you get pregnant.”
  2. “I can write you a referral to a specialist once you’ve decided not to have any [/more] children and/or gotten an IUD.”
  3. “Now that you’re done having kids and you got this IUD, lose some weight. That might help.”
  4. “Good job on losing that weight! Tough luck on those veins, though. This is just what happens when you have a baby.”
  5. “Have you tried compression tights? They’re fun for summer!”
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Advice I support, in theory. In practice, let’s go see a doctor.

But recently, the vanity kicked in, and damnit, I want to wear a sinful miniskirt on a Jamaican beach without feeling like my legs are ruining everyone else’s vacation. Off to the vein specialist!

My doctor, a man with 30 years of experience as a cardiac surgeon and, most recently, 10 years specializing in vein repair, looked at my legs and whispered to himself, “Wow.”

“If you’re saying ‘wow,’ I feel pretty special.”

He assured me that I am special. And more pressingly, so are my monstrous veins. Insurance will cover it immediately. If my insurance company resists, he says, all he would have to do is send them a picture of my legs to prove that “this is no joke.” If I don’t get the valves in my veins repaired, a blood clot is imminent. Because of where the failed valves are located, that clot will be very dangerous, likely moving into the heart. Oh, and P.S., you’re supposed to take care of your veins before you get pregnant, you silly goose.

I … see.

Of all the health shit I’ve dealt with up to this point, my goddamn varicose veins — that like four doctors told me to cover with self-tanner and stop whining about —  were going to be the thing that orphaned my child? Are you fucking kidding me?

I go in for four surgeries (outpatient, minor, using lasers) next week, with a phlebotomy (gross-sounding, not going to Google it) likely to follow two weeks later.

Good thing I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I want to look good in a goddamn swimsuit.

Potty Training with President Carter

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Charlie showed early promise as a potty-training prodigy. At maybe 18 months, he used the potty twice in one weekend, of his own volition, with precise aim and everything. I was so excited that I think it freaked him out, and he refused to pee pee in the potty for months to come.

At Charlie’s parent-teacher conference (a thing they do for 2-year-olds! Who knew?) his teacher stated that he didn’t seem that interested in potty training. She recommended bribery. With candy.

Somehow, we’ve so far managed to convince Charlie that candy isn’t something that exists in the world. For a while, this could be said of sugar generally, but the kid wants to eat Nutri-Grain bars for breakfast. Who am I to stand in the way of his dreams? More importantly, once he knew a sweet morning meal was a possibility that life afforded him, I couldn’t unring that bell.

I got Charlie a snowman Pez dispenser for Christmas, because I’m not a monster. At first, it was one Pez for a solid pee-pee attempt, but Miss Ann said that won’t do it. No participation awards in potty training. Pez is for closers. Now we’re at two Pezzes per pee-based victory.

When the snowman dispenser ran out of Pez, we obviously needed to purchase a set of four presidential Pez dispensers (for the candy).

Now, when Charlie needs to pee, he’ll usually just pee in his diaper so he can keep playing with his trains uninterrupted. But he sometimes asks if we can go find President Carter and have some Pez. I’ll tell him that yes, he can have Pez the next time he goes pee-pee in the potty. A moment of reflection. Then:

He’ll pee-pee in the potty, fight me about how many thousands of times he can flush the toilet, stand on his stool to wash his hands at the sink, start to freak out that he just wants bigger soap, refuse to dry his hands, have feelings about putting his diaper and/or pants back on, receive two Pez candies, and conclude the transaction with an appreciative “Thank you, President Carter.”

While he may not be the potty-training prodigy I’d initially hoped for, he can tell the difference between a Jimmy Carter Pez dispenser and a Gerald Ford Pez dispenser, so I’m calling this a win.

The Anthopodgedy Catalogue, as Read by a 2-Year-Old

March 2016, Dresses

(and Spring Shoe Preview)


 

“She wants a boat.”


 

“What’s he doing?”


“She wants a sweater.”


“She’s going to jump in the water.”


“Woah! Look at those ones!”


“I’m reading it, Mom!”


“I’m all done reading it.”


This has been your March 2016 Anthopodgedy Catalogue.

In Love and Barf

Charlie hasn’t yet for sure and explicitly said “I love you” to me yet. Though he shows affection and I totally know he loves me, I’m looking forward to hearing him say it. I thought in the wee hours of this morning, the time had come.
Charlie barfed seven times between 1:30 AM and 8:30 AM. It was a rough night for both of us. As I was comforting Charlie in between rounds 6 and 7, he looks up at me and says,
“Mom? I wuv y–
Mom… I wuv your pants.”
Even when covered in vom, they’re pretty good pajama pants. Grey cotton. Setting the world on fire.
I love your pants too, bud.

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We are at our finest today.