Thursday, December 23, 2010

The rocking chair

My life is not peaceful these days.  I'm not saying it's bad or unpleasant, but it's not peaceful.  My daily schedule is jam-packed and I'm up early and getting everyone dressed and fed and organized and making daycare drop-offs and then coming back to catch the bus to work and then working and then coming home to wrangle everyone until bedtime.  It's exhausting.  It doesn't leave a lot of opportunity to reflect or appreciate or even just feel, in a conscious and deliberate way, the intensity of the love that I feel for my family (particularly when they're driving me nuts and annoying the shit out of me).

I feel like it's bad to admit that I'm not always feeling the love.  It's not that I don't always love them -- I absolutely do.  But the feeling doesn't really permeate every waking moment when I'm careening from task to task and just trying to keep my life from spinning completely out of control.

The moments when I experience the proverbial loving feeling tend to occur in a particular place.

Before Zeke was born and we were stocking up on baby gear, I, like a million other soon-to-be mommies, purchased a rocking chair.  This particular type is actually referred to as a "glider," because it doesn't so much rock back and forth on a fixed curved base so much as glide forwards and backwards on a hinge that attaches to a fixed flat base.  But I never use the term "glider" -- it's a rocking chair.
This is just a stock photo I found on Google, but this is essentially what my rocker looks like.
Because furniture in Hawaii is crazy-expensive to either buy locally or ship in from elsewhere, we got our rocker on the cheap.  I went to the crappy local K-Mart in Kapolei, which I hated but it was close and the only other reasonable option was the crappy local WalMart in Waipio, which I also hated.  In their baby section, they had a basic white glider (with ottoman) for $89.  The cushions were thin and covered with a flimsy blue fabric, but it did the job (and when I got tired of the cushions, I simply covered them with a sturdier fabric that I liked).  I figured, it's functional, it serves a specific purpose and I'll only have it for a few years until the kids get a little older, then I'll get rid of it.

But I can't imagine getting rid of it now.  It is where I have had, and continue to have, my most intensely loving, focused, peaceful moments with my children.  The moments when everything calms down and I can just be with them and care for them and tune out all the noise.  Rocking and singing Zeke to sleep as a baby.  Calming Zeke down last week when he had a huge day, didn't nap and completely lost his mind from exhaustion at around 7:00 at night.  I finally got him to stop crying by sitting with him in the rocking chair and singing him a soothing song, at which point he fell asleep with his head on my shoulder and was out for the night.

The other night Josie was having a rough time.  Her daycare is closed for the last two weeks of December and she had spent the day with a babysitter and her schedule was off.  She was fussy and teething and nothing could make her happy, and she worked herself into such a state that there was nothing to do but let her cry and work herself out of it.  I carried her into the guest room, left the lights off and started walking the floor with her as I sang "Goodnight Irene" and "Angel Band."

She finally stopped crying and let me cradle her while she sucked on her fingers.  After about 15 minutes I went back into her room and sat in the rocker with her.  I sang a little bit but then as she became calmer and her eyes drooped I just held her close.  We sat looking at each other listening to the sound of the humidifier and the rhythm of the rocker.  She reached her hand up and caressed my face as I whispered to her.  I thought about how beautiful and sweet she is.  I wondered what she would look like when she got older.  I felt my heart almost burst out of my chest with intense love for her.  I felt blessed.  Long after the point when I knew I could put her in bed and she'd put herself to sleep without a fight, I stayed with her, just sitting and rocking.  Finally, I put her in her crib and she rolled over and went to sleep.

The rocker is definitely looking worse for the wear these days.  The fabric that I covered it with about two years ago is looking dingy and the cushions are lumpy and saggy.  But I'll just recover it again, maybe get some new foam.

I'm keeping the rocker for a while.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In which I pitch up a softball and he hits it out of the park

We're sitting in our bed hanging out with Zeke before bedtime.  I'm reading to Zeke while J lies there and listens.  Zeke has had an awesome day -- great progress report at school, minimal fussing, happy and sweet and lovely to be around.  We're enjoying each others' company.

As we lie there snuggling and reading, J rips a series of outrageous farts.  With the first one, I give him a look, like, "seriously?"

With the second, I exclaim, "Jeeeeez, dude!"

"Oh, come on," he scoffs, as if to suggest that I'm somehow overreacting.

Without thinking for a second about the words coming out of my mouth, I respond, "Please!  Don't 'come on' me!"

His eyes widen, he bursts out laughing and without missing a beat yells, "THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!"*


_____________________
*As we sit there laughing hysterically, Zeke is grinning and looking back and forth between us, unclear of what the joke is.  "What's funny, Mama?" "Oh, uhhhh ....... we're laughing because Daddy tooted."  He proceeds to lose his shit laughing as well.  God, I love that kid.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Haunted

We have a ghost in our house.

Mind you, I don't believe in ghosts.  I used to work with a woman who insisted her house was haunted and that her ghost would do weird things like rearrange her glassware in her cupboards during the night.  I would smile and nod, but I always felt like there had to be some non-ghost explanation for things that maybe she was overlooking.

But then we started hearing footsteps in the house at night, noises that were louder and more defined than just "old house settling" noises.  And we would get up and there would be no one there.  But J and I each heard the noises, without question.

Then one night, my white noise machine next to my bed suddenly turned itself on in the middle of the night.  It came on much louder than I ever play it.  When I tried to turn it off or turn the sound down, none of the buttons or knobs would respond. 

This has happened a few times now.

Things will go missing and we'll spend hours or days looking for them only to have them turn up in plain sight, in a place where neither J nor I could have possibly missed them.  Like my keys, for example.  I have a set of keys on a red rubber stretchy wrist-band.  The red band is very bright and distinctive, making it easy to spot in a bag or whereever.  When I come in the house, I always put the keys either on the bench by the front door or on a little hook under the cabinet in the kitchen. 

And then one morning, I couldn't find them anywhere.   I looked on every surface, on the key hooks, on the floor, in the sofa cushions, behind furniture, in every pocket of every bag and jacket and pair of pants.  They were nowhere to be found.  I looked for them for days.

Finally, last week I gave up looking and went to the hardware store and had new keys cut.

Two days ago when I came in the house, J said, "Hey, you found your keys." 

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"The keys you lost, the ones on the red stretchy thingy.  You found them."

"No, I didn't."

"But they're hanging from the key hook in the kitchen."

"They are??"

I went and looked.  There they were, innocently dangling from the hook where I had looked for them a hundred times in the past week.  J swears he never found them or put them there, I know I certainly didn't and neither of the children can reach that high.  No one else has been in the house.

Two nights ago I put my driver's license and ATM card on the top of my dresser.  That night, my noise machine turned itself on again.  In the morning, the driver's license was on the floor on the opposite side of the room from the dresser, and my bank card is nowhere to be found. 

I think our ghost is not malevolent, just playful and mischievous.  I just hope he or she doesn't have a big shopping jones to satisfy before my card is returned to me.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Update

So, yeah. 

J went in on Friday and, as expected, was laid off.  Apparently, the guy who was such a dick about the whole workmans comp dealio is the one that he talked to.  J said he was super-nice about it, like they were best mates all of a sudden.  And told him that it's a "temporary" layoff, so that if they get some work in the next 30 days or whatever, he'll be the first one they call up.

Mighty white of them, I say.  Merry Christmas, motherfuckers.

In any event, as far as J starting his own business goes, no time like the present, right?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday ramblings

I'm home sick and feeling like dog shit.  I have all of the joy of coughing up a lung and having my sinuses swollen and impassible, plus dizziness.  Whee.

I woke up really woozy at around midnight and couldn't get back to sleep, but getting up and doing anything left me really wobbly.  So I stayed in bed and practiced what I call "brain mining" -- trying to delve into the recesses of my noodle and see how far back in my life I can remember and what random memories I can dredge up.  I'll do things like mentally tour all the houses I've lived in, trace the route from each house to each school I attended, try to come up with the names of old friends and roommates and boyfriends, go back through old phone numbers and addresses, try to visualize every Thanksgiving dinner I've had, stuff like that.  It's kind of trippy.  I'm terrified of getting Alzheimer's, so in addition to constantly doing crosswords and Sudoku, I feel like brain mining exercises my synapses and helps ward off dementia.

I'd like to be able to get some sleep, but my brain seems to be rebelling against that notion these days.  I'll get these episodes that feel almost but not quite like panic attacks.  It's not the cold flush through my torso or tightening of my chest, but almost like my head is being slightly electrified -- there's a buzzing and a sensation like my cells are expanding, if that makes any sense. 

I dunno.  Maybe I'm nuts.  In any event, I started thinking about Michael Jackson and how he died from an overdose of Propofol, the drug that anesthesiologists use when they put you to sleep during surgery.  Apparently he suffered from horrible insomnia and was desperate for a decent night's sleep.  I can totally relate.

In the meantime, I'm home in bed, feeling queasy, doing some reading and going through AMC's Christmas movie lineup (when TNT isn't showing Law & Order reruns).  They showed You've Got Mail, which I never thought of as a Christmas movie.  I never liked the movie anyway, but watching it - or rather, having it on in the background while I lay in bed feeling sorry for myself -- made me realize that Meg Ryan plays the same uptight bitch in every romantic comedy she's in (including When Harry Met Sally, which I love notwithstanding that its two main characters are totally unlikeable).  I don't get her appeal at all.

J's supposed to go back to work on Monday.  Except that when he called in to touch base and find out where he's supposed to go, they asked him to come in this afternoon so they could talk to him.  Which means he's probably getting fired.  So now we've got that hanging over our heads.

Ugh.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

They said "Show and Tell," so he did

Every Monday at Zeke's school, they do show-and-tell.  Of course, we didn't even know about it for the first few weeks, then it would hit me on Wednesday that I had forgotten about show-and-tell, then I finally started remembering.

I'm not as dumb as I look, people.  You give me a task and I'll figure it out eventually.

Last week, I asked Zeke what he wanted to take to school for show-and-tell.  He picked out one of his whiz-bang trucks that has flashing lights and makes noise.  I put it in the car when we loaded up to head to school on Monday morning.

But given that living with him these days is like living with a 14-year-old girl, with the mood swings and the totally irrational reaction to everything, when we got to school and I grabbed the truck to take inside, he yelled, "NOOOOOOO!"

"What?" I said.  "I thought you wanted to take your truck for show-and-tell."

"I don't want it.  I DON'T WANT IT!"

Heavy sigh from me.  "Well, is there something else you want to take?  Your dinosaur is here in the car, do you want to take that instead?"

"NOOOO!  I DON'T WANT TO TAKE ANYTHING!!"

"Jeez, you don't need to yell.  I don't care if you take anything or not.  But are you sure you don't want me to just give the truck to your teacher in case you change your mind?"

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  Put it back!"

"Oh, for God's sake.  Fine."

So I left it in the car.

Turns out he had other plans. 

Another charming characteristic of being three is the total obsession with all things poop-, pee-, booty-, booby-, and other body-part-related.  So when it was time for show-and-tell, Zeke decided that that thing to do would be to show everyone his underpants.  I guess they do a scheduled bathroom break before show-and-tell, so he went into the bathroom, took off his underwear, put his pants back on, and then took his undies out to show everyone. 

I was telling a co-worker about this and she remarked that he's obviously really smart because his actions showed a level of planning and thinking ahead that is advanced for his age.

Great.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Honey vs. Vinegar

J is in the early stages of trying to start his own business.  He's tired of working for The Man -- who is an asshole -- and of being paid shit to do it.  A couple of his buddies from work are feeling the same, so they're thinking about starting their own shop.  I think they could do really well, particularly given that J seems capable of drumming up business without even realizing it.

He was at Home Depot the other day getting wood for our new headboard and was having a hard time fitting the plywood into the back of the truck (it was too wide).  Suddenly he hears this guy with a heavy New York accent say, "hey, buddy!  Need a hand?"

Long story short, the guy is a home inspector and contractor and is looking for a new electrician to work on his jobs, or to refer to inspection clients that need work done to bring their house up to code.  "My guy that did electrical work for me, he was a drinker.  ("A DREEN-kuh").  A real heavy drinker!  Took off on me!"  And now he wants J to be that guy. 

Then there was a lady in the neighborhood gathering signatures for a petition opposing a liquor store that is trying to open up across the street.  She wrangled J as he was coming out of Ace Hardware with the parts to wire up an outlet for our new dryer.  They started chatting, she asked about what he had bought at Ace, he explained that he was wiring an outlet, she warned him to be careful and he said, "no worries, I'm an electrician, I know what I'm doing," or something to that effect.  Then he signed her petition.

Later that night, we had been out somewhere and picked up the mail as we walked in the house.  There was a letter from the petition lady.  She's renovating the top floor of her house (she also owns a hundred-year-old beater like ours) and is looking for an electrician.  Oh, and by the way, she's also an architect and can refer clients needing electrical work.

So he's now got a decent-sized job for this lady, for which he will be charging enough to allow us to have a significantly nicer Christmas than we otherwise would have.  All because he's a friendly guy.

I should take a lesson from this, I know.  Because when the lady approached me about her petition the day before she met J, I asked, "what's the nature of the opposition to the petition?"  She responded (a bit huffily, if you ask me), "the nature of the opposition is that I don't want a liquor store in my neighborhood."  Thinking how convenient it would be to be able to dash across the street if I needed some cooking wine or a bottle to entertain guests or something, I said, "honestly, I don't really have a problem with it.  But good luck with your petition." 

I guess if she ever comes by the house to drop off a check or something, I'll hide.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Wood Anniversary

For our fifth anniversary, for which the traditional gift is wood, we built ourselves a headboard.  We've had our bed for almost 4 years but have always just had it pushed against a wall.

Boring.
We had a fifth anniversary and a parent's night at the daycare.  Bingo.

J built the frame and cut the plywood while I was at work on Friday.

Heh.
While J took Zeke to a birthday party on Saturday, I bought upholstery foam, batting and fabric.  Saturday night, we assembled the headboard.

Putting the foam on the plywood.
Putting the batting over the foam.  And enjoying a little vino.
Dork.
Laying the fabric over the base.

Attaching the headboard to the frame.

Drill, baby, drill.
Getting ready to drill holes to attach the headboard frame to the bedframe.
Finished product.  And a riot of stripes
All those hours watching the DIY Network pay off. 
 Happy anniversary, us!



Thursday, December 09, 2010

Five years ago today...


I remember the day so vividly.  The early morning nervousness allayed by a long trip to 24 Hour Fitness and some makeup shopping with my mom.  Losing my shit while getting ready because I couldn't find any of my hair accoutrements, so Michele found everything for me and talked me off the ledge and did my hair.  The ride in the pretty car up the mountain.  Losing my shit again right before the ceremony and being talked off the ledge by the marriage celebrant, this cool lady with bright hennaed hair who was the kind of person that wore caftans and was into new age-y stuff.

But then I calmed down and the rest of the day was lovely, if exhausting.  My mom and dad walked me down the aisle.


J and I said our vows, which we wrote ourselves.  I think the picture below was taken at the part when I vowed to always make sure the house was well-stocked with vegemite.


After the ceremony, we hiked through the bush to a rocky ledge for pictures.



When we went back to the reception and were "introduced" as a married couple, it was to the tune of "Eye of the Tiger."


We had cake.

J picked the cake out -- layers of german chocolate cake with strips of white chocolate around the edges, decorated with native Australian flowers and our surfing couple cake topper.

I sang some bluegrass.

My Australian father-in-law, who also happens to be a bluegrass enthusiast, surprised me by inviting some bluegrass musicians that I had met and played with when I visited J in Australia in 2004. Having these guys show up and play (and let me sing with them) was seriously one of the coolest parts of an already wonderful night. In the picture above, I'm singing Old Home Place, one of my favorite bluegrass songs.
We danced.


And then, when the night was over, we got on with our lives. 

Five years seems like forever ago, but also like yesterday.  It's been a jam-packed five years, that's for sure.  Sometimes I've loved being married, sometimes I've looked back with intense longing on the days when I was single and childless, with lots of time and disposeable income at my fingertips.  Some days J and I get along great, other days I could happily put him on a plane back to Australia and tell him to never come back. 

But we do love each other, we do take care of each other, we've produced two beautiful, sweet children, and we continue to build our life together, step by step and day by day.  I guess that's what it's all about.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Victory

I don't ever remember believing in Santa Claus.  Not being Christian, and only sporadically observing December 25 as a day for celebrating or giving gifts (I'm more into the Elena Kagan way of observing Christmas), Santa Claus was never a big part of the traditions we observed growing up and I was so hyper-rational, even as a kid, that it never occurred to me to believe that Santa was an actual person who flew around the world handing out presents.  I mean seriously, what a ridiculous notion.


Our ecumenical household
At our house, we put up a tree because J wants to, but beyond that there isn't really any discussion of Christmas as a religious holiday or even of Santa or any of that stuff.  Zeke's exposure to Santa has only been either seeing pictures on TV or around the neighborhood or when someone dresses up and comes to his school once a year.

Turns out, he's afraid of him.

His first exposure was when he was 2 months old, and his reaction was equivocal, at best.  Last year he went to a "Breakfast with Santa" event and totally hated it.

"Who's this jamoke?"
Then yesterday at his new school they had a Christmas party, which J and I somehow didn't even know about (or else completely spaced on), so J arrived to pick him up in the afternoon only to discover that Zeke's the only kid without a parent there, and Zeke would barely talk to him and told him he's a "bad daddy." 

Ouch.

But anyway, when it was time for Santa, Zeke wanted absolutely nothing to do with him. 

Later that night he said, "Mama, I don't want Santa to come here."

"You don't?"

"No."

"Did he scare you?"

"Yes.  I don't like him.  He's weird."

This was my opening.

"Honey, Santa isn't really a person.  It's just pretend.  But if you don't want him here, then I will make sure he can't get in the house."

"Yes.  Keep him out.  He's weird."

Amen, son.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Potato, Po-tah-to. Also, how do I get into these conversations with a 3-year-old?

I have this beautiful ivory carved necklace that I inherited from my Grandma Ruth that looks like a figure of the Buddha (capitalize?  no?  I'm not sure.  Anyway.)  I wouldn't buy ivory, but Ruth had some beautiful ivory pieces from way back before anyone gave a second thought to the process by which it is extracted from animals, so I wear them because they make me feel connected to her. 


I think it's the Buddha.  I dunno.  Could just be a guy sitting around. 
But I have always thought of it as Buddha.
Anyway, I'm wearing it today. 

When I was dropping Zeke off at school, as I picked him up to get him out of his car seat, he was right at eye level with my neck.

"What's that, Mama?"

"That's a necklace."

"Who's that man?"

"That's Buddha."

"Buddha?  Who's Buddha?"

How does one explain Buddha to a 3-year-old?

"Uhhh, he was a man who lived in India a long time ago who taught people about how to live peacefully and without fighting."

"Buddha?"

"Right, Buddha?"

"Who was Buddha?"

We're in a phase of repeating questions ad nauseum.  It's really fun.

"Like I told you, Buddha lived a long time ago and he taught people about his ideas of how to live properly and behave properly."

"And that's the man in your necklace?"

"Yes."

"Buddha buddha buddha!   Buddha buddha buddha!"

I think he just likes the word because it sounds like "booty."

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Lock up your daughters

We're getting settled into our seats, me with Zeke and J with Josie in the row behind us.  I let Zeke take the window seat.  Zeke practices buckling his seat belt and I make sure that all of the essentials are in easy reach -- the DVD player, Zeke's DVDs, his Thomas backpack with books and toy trucks, the bag with the snacks.

I breathe a sigh of relief that we're on the plane and the stress of getting to the airport and getting through security is over.  As expected, all of the doomsday hype about endless security lines and body scanner boycotts was total bullshit, so we breezed through, got some breakfast when we got to the gate, and boarded without incident.

Don't get me wrong, getting through security still totally sucked.  I had Josie in a pack on my back, pushed Zeke in the stroller and carried a 47 ton carry-on in addition to Zeke's little backpack.  Because J is still recovering from his surgery, his only task was to carry Josie's car seat that she would be using on the plane.  The one consolation was that with me hobbling through the airport like an overused pack mule while J carried the equivalent of a feather, he got a lot of, "Jesus, what an asshole" looks.  To get through the security process, we had to collapse the stroller, get Josie out of the backpack and get everything onto the scanner belt, get everyone's jackets and shoes off, and then reassemble ourselves on the other side without losing either a child or our minds.  Honestly, the TSA people were so insanely nice and helpful that I don't think I could have made it without their assistance.  But in any event, that's what it's like flying with small children, regardless of whether it's Thanksgiving.

Anyway, we're finally on the plane.  We haven't taken off yet, so I don't want to start pulling out all of the toys and whatnot only to have to stow them for take-off, so we look out the window and count the planes and marvel at the construction equipment.  I take out the SkyMall catalog, which has a picture of a giant inflatable football player that I guess you're supposed to put out on your lawn on game day, and think, "this should be good for a few minutes worth of distraction before we get into the air."  So I give it to Zeke and we leaf through it and laugh at some of the silly things for sale.  He then takes it from me and sits with it in his lap and flips through it on his own.

A few minutes later, I look over and notice that he's been on one page for a while and is staring intently at one particular ad.  Of women in their underwear (it was an ad for a Spanx-like product -- body shapers, that sort of thing).  He's totally transfixed.

Nonchalantly, I ask, "hey, Zekey, what are you looking at?"

He points to a specific spot in the ad, gives me a big smile and says, "I'm looking at that lady's bum, Mama."

Oy.

This is the ad that had him so absorbed.  Try to picture a little 3 year old squirt sitting in an airplane seat, his feet barely hanging over the edge, staring at a scantily clad woman while pointing one chubby finger at her booty.  I do have to give him props for having good taste, though.  Her ass is fabulous.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Is he doing it for the jokes?

Tim: Jerry, it's our sense of humor that sustained us as a people for 3000 years.
Jerry: 5000.
Tim: 5000, even better. Okay, Chrissie. Give me a schtickle of flouride.
-- Seinfeld, "The Yada Yada," original airdate 4/24/1997

I am Jewish.  A full-on Chosen Person, a Member of the Tribe descended on both sides from the Levites.  The real deal. 

My husband, on the other hand, is not.  Not that I care, obviously (particularly because as Judaism is matrilineal, our children are Jewish regardless of his affiliation or lack thereof).  But he continuously refers to himself as being Jewish as a result of marrying me ("I'm a Jew by proxy, baby"), or how he's really into certain holidays "since he became a Jew," that kind of thing.  I try to explain to him that we don't make it that easy for people to join up, we don't encourage conversion, that you don't become Jewish simply by marrying one, yada yada yada, but he is undaunted in his insistence to the contrary.

Coming from him, particularly with his Aussie accent, it can be quite hilarious.

Tonight is the first night of Hannukah, so J, being on short term disability leave while recovering from his hernia surgery, is the one that's home and available to run errands and "honey-do" items.  So I sent him off to the grocery store with a list including Hannukah candles and latke mix (I know, I know, I should grate the potatoes and make them from scratch, but honestly, my life is mishegas these days and I just don't have the time or the energy).

He sent me a text from the Target saying, "Target doesn't have ghannuka (sic) candles."

I called him and expressed incredulity and prodded him to ask someone (his ability to find something 3 inches in front of his face is appallingly bad), but he insisted that he had asked someone and that somehow, they carried menorahs but not candles.  I told him to try Safeway.* They didn't have any either.

"I'm sorry you're having such a hard time.  I'm really annoyed they're so hard to find -- you'd think it was some obscure religion and that no one in the world celebrates Hannukah.  Anyway, I appreciate you running all over town to get them," I told him.

"No worries, love.  It's all part of the oppression we've endured throughout history."

"Who's this 'we'?"

"You know.  Us Jews."

Riiiiiight.

Anyway, Happy Hannukah, everyone.  Here's to beautiful lights, fried foods and religious freedom.  Not necessarily in that order.

____________________________
*I called them and they told me they carry Shabbat (sabbath) candles but not Hannukah candles.  Whatever.  If I were a betting woman, I would wager a significant pile of cash that most Jews in the United States have never bought shabbat candles in their lives, but the good majority of them at the very least have jewed up for Hannukah by lighting Hannukah candles.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Have love, will travel

One of the recurring memes I have with my mother involves teasing her about her propensity to prepare for travel so far in advance of her actual departure time that she might as well just go the airport the night before her flight is scheduled to leave. 
Mom:  "What time do we need to leave for the airport tomorrow?"
Me:  "What time's your flight?"
Mom:  "10:30 in the morning."
Me:  "Well, it only takes about half an hour to get there, so why don't we leave at 9 or 9:15?  You're not checking a bag, right?"
Mom:  "Will that give me enough time?  Why don't we leave at 8:15 or 8:30?"
Me:  "Why don't we just leave now?"
But now that I regularly travel with small children, including navigating security lines with a toddler who wants to run around and hang from every retractable rope stantion, getting through security with FAA-approved carseats and baby strollers that will then need to be gate-checked and sippy cups that the agent may or may not decide needs to be tested for explosives, not to mention the luggage itself, finding a bathroom when Zeke decides he needs to go potty RIGHT NOW or when Josie decides that 3 minutes before we board is a great time to blow out her diaper, keeping the kids in control at the gate area, let alone praying for no tantrums or fussing during the plane ride itself ---- well, let's just say that my stress level when I travel now is sufficiently higher than it was before I had kids, and all I can tell my mom is, "You're right, you're right, I know you're right."

Of course, if we plan to get there by 8:30 for a 10:30 flight to DC to spend the holiday with my parents, all of the hoopla about the crowds and threats of boycotting the full body scanners resulting in horrific lines at the airport will end up being totally overblown.  I've already printed out our boarding passes, so we'll check our bags, fly through security in 10 minutes, and have hours to entertain the kids at the gate.  Or not.  Who knows?

But honestly, I don't even care.  I'm so excited.  My brother and his significant other and her dog (a hilariously fat, lazy pug for whom Sam created a Facebook profile, and his status updates are things like "I feel like I'm some combination of the Star Wars Sand People, ET, Ewoks, and Winston Churchill. Assuming they ate street garbage and peed on everything, of course" -- so fucking funny) will be there, and we always do a Turkey Trot run for charity on Thursday morning, and Thanksgiving dinner is always awesome, and we've got the Day After Thanksgiving Pie (DATP) gathering on Friday with my friend Ali and her family, and then my cousins are coming over, and we're going to a hockey game, and the kids get to hang out with their adored (and adoring) grandparents, and there's football to watch, and I'm plotzing because I love Thanksgiving so much and I can't wait to get there.

Bring it on, TSA, crowds and everything else.  I'm ready for you.  You won't break me, because my destination is too wonderful to make the journey bad.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Good night, Gracie

Zeke, being the responsible older brother, is often tasked with looking out for Josie.  We don't ask or expect him to supervise her or anything, but sometimes they'll be upstairs playing together in their room and they're perfectly happy and safe, so J and I will leave them alone while we're downstairs cooking dinner or something. We just ask Zeke to call one of us if Josie is getting close to the stairs, because while she is now walking everywhere, she hasn't figured out how to go down the stairs in a way that won't cause her serious injury.


Last night we had a bunch of friends over for a football-watching barbecue and the kids were mostly in the room with us, but at one point Josie climbed up the stairs and Zeke followed her and they were upstairs playing. 

J told Zeke, "if Josie gets too close to the stairs, or if you need help with anything, call out for Daddy."

Five minutes later we heard Zeke yelling, "out for Daddy!  OUT FOR DADDY!"

Let it not be said that the kid doesn't pay attention.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Life in the cube

As I mentioned yesterday, I don't have an office, just a cube.  It's tucked in the back of the room, fairly secluded, roomy and comfortable, but it's still a cube.  Everyone is very sensitive to the noise issue and makes every effort to be courteous, but you can hear e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. 

Some people listen to music over a radio or whatever, on very low volume.  But I have super-sensitive hearing, so I can still hear it. 

I think the lady across the "hall" from me listens to a station (via internet radio?  I have no idea) that features nothing but TV theme songs.

Because there I was, reading about the legal requirements school districts have involving disabled kids placed in private schools, when all of a sudden I was totally distracted by the theme to Charlie's Angels.  I never even watched the show -- I think it was on while we were living overseas -- but about 3 cell phones ago, I used the song as my ring tone because I worked for a guy named Charlie and we (his female employees) jokingly referred to ourselves as Charlie's Angels and wasn't it all hilarious. 

Anyway.

So even though it's only playing at about half a decibel, I can totally hear it with my bionic ears, and then given my propensity to develop ear-worms, I'm walking around going "daaaaah dah daaaaaaaahhh, dah dah dah daaaaaaaaah da daaaaaaaaahhhhh."

Until that ear-worm is replaced by the theme song to -- and I am totally not making this up -- All In The Family

"Thoooose were the daaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyys!!"

And then the opening instrumental number from Dallas.  Which I did watch when we lived in Israel because back in the early 80s before the era of global satellite television, it was one of 3 American shows that you could watch on Israeli TV (the others were Little House on the Prairie and Diff'rent Strokes), so we were glued to them religiously just to get a little dose of home.

Needless to say, it was a bit distracting.  But being the new kid, still trying to feel my way and figure out who's who and who's nice and who is not to be fucked with, no way was I going to say anything. 

But just to be safe, today I brought in my iPod, which I listened to with one earbud in (so I could still hear the phone and whatnot).  Because otherwise, I'll get nothing done, and constantly be living with images of George and Weezy Jefferson or B.A. Baracus and Face running through my brain, via my ears.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rumplestiltskin rides the bus.


So the new job is going well.  Everyone has been very welcoming, I've had an actual orientation with an explanation of what it is they want me to do, gotten my ID badges and business cards and all that. 

The biggest adjustment (other than working in a cube, which I've never done before and which is bringing on a bit of sensory deprivation, like a lab rat) is the commuting situation.  At the old job I had free parking.  At the new job, I do not.  And parking in downtown Denver is an expensive pain in the ass. 

One of my employee benefits is a monthly bus pass at less than half the regular rate.  I've always been a driving commuter, not a public transport commuter, so until I spent the first day driving around finding an inexpensive and not too far away public lot in order to avoid the $35 a day fee of parking in my own building, it didn't occur to me that I would be taking advantage of this particular benefit, particularly with two morning daycare dropoffs to contend with. 

But I I live directly on the bus line that has a stop right at my building.  I discovered that if I get the kids up early enough, I can drop them off at their respective locales, get home, walk across the street to the bus stop and have it drop me off in front of my building 12 minutes later, meaning I'm still getting to work by 8 or 8:15 at the latest.  And it will save me over $100 a month (at least) in parking fees. 

Done and done.

And it's kind of an interesting experience.  Good people watching.  Yesterday on my ride home, there was a guy in front of me who had a little spindle that he was using to spin thread out of some loose cotton (I'm assuming) fibers he held in his hand.  Spin spin spin.  It was kind of mesmerizing.

As he got off at his stop, he started talking to the woman sitting across from him who looked a bit stricken by his overtures.  Everyone around me started giggling when he finally was gone, and it turns out that when she had first sat down, he had taken out a huge knife and without saying a word, approached her with it to cut a stray string that was hanging off the hem of her skirt.  (I had missed this episode, but the lady sitting next to me told me about it.) 

I'm so bummed that I didn't witness this interaction in person.  It totally would have made my night.  In any event, I certainly never would have had the chance of observing this awesome spectacle commuting in my car.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday Tidbits

  • J's surgery went well, and he's recovering nicely.  The weekend was a bit rough -- he was incredibly sore, and trying to take care of him and the children and keep the children off him felt like being under siege.  But we got through it and things are getting easier.
  • Josie started walking.  At first it was just figuring out how to stand up, then it was taking a step or two, then she figured out how to string steps together.  It's kind of thrilling.
  • We have a mouse.  There's a little hold in the corner of the wall in the living room, and apparently a little mouse has made his way in.  J and Zeke were downstairs when they saw him, and Zeke was mesmerized, peeking over the back of the couch and whispering, "Daddy, shhhhhh, we have to be quiet so we don't scare the mouse."  We'll plug up the hole, but mice don't bother me so much.  Rats, on the other hand, make me want to puke.
  • Getting excited for Thanksgiving.  Next week Zeke's school is having a little Thanksgiving celebration, so I'm going to make my mom's famous cranberry jello mold.  And this time, I will remember to cook the cranberries.*
_______________________________
*The first time I made it, I used whole cranberries and forgot to cook them, subjecting my poor guests to a miserable experience.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Party's over

And now I get to clean up the mess...
It's been a lovely four days.  I've had time to myself, done household chores in peace, watched reruns of Law & Order, got some reading in.  The batteries are not fully recharged, but they're certainly sparkier than they were at the beginning in the week.

But today I go back into the shit (can you tell I'm reading a book about Vietnam?  Talkin' the talk, baby.)

J's surgery is this afternoon and for the next two weeks (at least), it's all me, all the time.  Because while J will be somewhat up and around almost immediately, he cannot lift anything. Anything anything anything.  Nothing.  Nada.  Bupkis.

So not only will I have all of the housework but also all of the childcare, even when J is home.  He can't pick up the children, can't carry a laundry basket, can't put Josie in the bathtub or put her on her changing table to change her diaper.  Plus I will have to figure out how to keep Zeke from crawling and jumping all over his daddy, as he is used to doing.

*sigh*

Not that I'm not happy that J is getting his hernias fixed.  He's been so uncomfortable for so long, it will be a huge relief for him to be on the road to recovery.  So long term, it's a good thing.

Short term, it's going to be rough.  Wish me well.

I will leave you with a hilarious joke I heard, told by David Sedaris to Jon Stewart on last night's Daily Show:
A man is in his house late one night, getting ready to pack it in for the night.  Suddenly there's a knock on his door.  He answers it and finds a snail on his porch.  The snail is going door to door selling magazine subscriptions and asks the man if he's interested in buying some magazines.

The man is furious at having his evening disturbed.  He rears his foot back, ferociously kicks the snail off his porch and slams the door.

Two years later the doorbell rings again.  The man opens the door.  It's the snail.

The snail says, "what the fuck was that about?"
Have a great weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Stay-cation: Day Three

This is exactly what I'm wearing today.
I'm getting pretty good at this housewife biz.  Today after dropping the kids off at school, I came home, cleaned (including taking wood polish to the furniture, fireplace mantle, and staircase banister -- whee!), made some phone calls, worked out the dealio with our ski passes for the winter, and went to the grocery store (Safeway AND Costco).

As an added bonus, rather than my usual habit of having a vague sense that we're low on food and then heading to the store without much of a plan, resulting in finding 2 bottles of Thai fish sauce, 3 half-empty bottles of Newman's Own salad dressing, 4 large bags of frozen peas, 2 jars of celery salt and 3 open bags of rotting carrots every time I decide to clean out the kitchen, I made a list. 

And a meal plan.

And figured out what to do with the 2 small sweet potatoes that will go bad if they're not used.

So tonight for dinner, we'll have quesadillas to use up the rest of the tortillas that we bought when we had fish tacos the other night.  I can throw in the rice and beans leftovers as well.   I'm making sweet potato bread.  Tomorrow we'll have butternut squash soup and another loaf of bread that I will make tomorrow.

The refrigerator and freezer are clean and organized.  The laundry is done. The toy trucks are in their baskets.  There are no cheerios under Josie's high chair.  It's quiet and peaceful in the house. 

And did I mention Zeke is potty-trained?  And has had three awesome days at his new school with nary a tear or a wistful glance behind him?

This week doesn't suck at all.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Stay-cation: Day One

My friend Lisa has recently been going through what I feel like I go through at least monthly -- that sense of, Good God, get these kids away from me and give me some peace.  And she made a point today that I make all the time, and that few people seem to get -- I don't want to go away anywhere and have time away from my family.  What I really crave is for everyone to get the fuck out of my house and leave me alone (I love her idea of a kiddie hotel).  To read, to do laundry, to watch my DVR'd shows, to just have some time with no whining and no crying and no noisy toys.

Which I am finally getting for the next two weeks until I start the new job. 

And holy shit, it's so nice.  I got the kids up and out the door by 8:15.  Zeke started his new preschool and did so well.  I've been preparing him for this day for a long time, and at first he was nervous and saying that he wanted to go to the old school.  But I talked him off the ledge, and after we dropped Josie off at her daycare, he said, "where are we going, Mama?"  And I said, "we're going to your new school sweetie.  You're going to make new friends and learn all kinds of cool stuff and it'll be great."  He said, "I'm going to be just fine."*

I've been telling him that all along.  And I guess he gets it.  So we went in and met the teachers and he said hi to his friend Connor and sat down to have breakfast with everyone and said, "bye, Mama!" without a look back.  Which is exactly what I wanted.

And then I came home, got back into bed and finished my book.  Which was seriously phenomenal -- one of the best books I've read in awhile, and one of the few experiences of reading a book in which I truly had no idea what was going to happen. 

Then I took a nap.

Then I had something to eat.

Then I watched Saturday night's recording of SNL -- love me some Jon Hamm

Then I did the dishes.

Then I had a massage.

I couldn't do this forever.  I'm too restless.  But I'll take it for the next two weeks.

__________________________
*Then we had a hilarious conversation about what we should feed the lion that lives in his closet.  He opted for crumbs, but I said that lions might need more food than that and suggested hamburgers.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The hard truth we all learn

This morning Josie woke up at 5 in the morning, screaming her face off.

She's teething again.  Finally, because I was getting a little worried that those four teeth she has were going to be it for her.

But it hurts.  A lot.  Much more than her other teeth did, at least so far as can be determined by her reaction to it.

So I got up and went and got her and tried to comfort her by sitting with her in the rocking chair, but she was having none of it.  Just cried and cried and cried.

So I put her in Zeke's bed and lay down next to her, trying to snuggle her into calmness (Zeke had made his way to our bed at this point, so his bed was empty).

Nothing doing.

So I took her downstairs and gave her a bunch of ibuprofen, and then got back into bed with her, waiting for it to work.

It took about 30 minutes.  And she was furious the entire time.  I would try to cuddle her, and she would beat at me with her fists.  I would try to hold her upright, and she would scream and shake her head back and forth.  I would try to give her a frozen pancake to chew on, or a teething ring, and she would push it away and wail.

She was in so much pain, and so pissed off at me for not being able to make the pain go away instantaneously.

At one point, while crying inconsolably, she kept holding up her hands and making the "finished" sign, as if to say, "OK, Mama, I'm done with this shit.  Please help me.  Please make me feel better."

But all we could do was wait it out.  I had given her medicine, I had tried topical remedies, and now all I could do was comfort her and try to sympathize.

I'm not all-powerful.  But she doesn't know that yet.

Well, now she does.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Damn the Man

This is the saga of J's worker's comp claim.  Or, non-claim, as it turns out.

Some time in mid-August or early September, J came home from work and said, "I think I got a hernia at work today?"

Being the calm, rational one, I shrieked, "WHAT??"

"Yeah.  I was lifting a big spool of cable and I felt something pop."

"So what did you do?  Did you report it to your foreman?"

"Yeah."

"Well??? What did he say???"

"He said, 'not on my fucking job, you didn't get hurt!'"

"What??  He can't do that.  That's illegal.  This is a worker's comp claim, you need to report it."

"I tried, but he refused to accept it."

"Well, he can't do that.  You need to talk to his supervisor, or call the main office, or something like that.  You can't just let it go."

"If I do that I'll get fired."

My head was about to explode right off my body at this point.  "They can't fire you for submitting a workers comp claim.  There are laws against it!"

"Baby, they do it all the time."

I fumed.  "You cannot let them get away with it.  You have to report this."

Long story short, he was intimidated by his foreman's attitude, didn't report it (thought there were witnesses to both the injury and his efforts to tell the foreman), it got worse, and a month later, it hurt so much that he couldn't lift his tool pouch without excruciating pain.  So they sent him home and told him to go to the doctor, get it fixed and go on short term disability.

So he went to the doctor.  Who confirmed that he had a double hernia and sent him to a surgeon.  Who also confirmed that he had a double hernia and scheduled him for surgery.

But all along, I was confused.  It was a workplace injury.  Why wasn't it being covered by workers comp?  What the fuck was going on??

I wasn't the only one.  The administrator at the surgeon's office was confused as well, because workers comp is billed differently from other kinds of claims.  And if it was a workplace injury, it needed to go through workers comp.

So she called the HR people at J's company, who proceeded to yell at her.  Then they ran around trying to cover their tracks by intimidating the guys on the job -- the witnesses -- into giving statements casting doubt on J's version of things.

J, being totally non-confrontational and intimidated, didn't want to make waves.  He was perfectly happy to pursue the personal-insurance-and-short-term-disability route.  But the safety manager at his company, who was walking around talking about how he was going to "bury J in court," insisted on submitting the claim through workers comp.

Which denied the claim today.  Because it was a "your word vs. theirs" thing, according to the claims rep.

So we'll submit it through our own insurance and seek short term disability for the time he needs to take off of work to recover.  Which we were willing to do all along.  We can't afford to fight it, so whatever.

This is why my great-grandfather, the proud socialist, believed in labor unions and working for the rights of the working man.  Because he knew that without them, the working man has no power.  The Big Man will always find a way to bring the little man down.  I never really thought about it before I was married to a tradesman, but now I know.  In Hawaii, a very pro-union state, J would have been protected.  In Colorado, where the union has a very weak presence and there are no union jobs to be had, he's fucked.

It makes me so mad, I don't even know what to do but sit and stew.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You can't go home again*

For Zeke, one of the consequences of turning three is that, in addition to being a big boy who almost always remembers to use the potty, who will be starting preschool with his buddy Connor next week, who is learning how to read and put puzzles together, is that he has to sleep in his own bed.  All night.

I'm sure some of you may be wondering if you accidentally stumbled on an old blog post from last year (or even the year before), because we've been fighting this fight for a long time.  Or, more accurately, not fighting it.  The kid has been playing us like a Stradivarius.  What with J being out of town, and not wanting to wake up Josie by putting him to bed later than her (they share a room now), and just generally being a big ol' softie about it, he's been spending a lot of time in our bed.  A lot lot.

So I decided that his birthday would be the arbitrary Maginot line that would mark the start of him Being A Big Boy And Sleeping In His Own Bed.  It was the perfect day for it, because he didn't nap, and in addition to his party, which involved non-stop running around and excitement, he went swimming at my parents' hotel in the morning and then immediately after the party, went to the park to play some more with his friend Lucy.  So by 7:30 or so, he was a complete zombie.

I put him in his PJs and put him in his bed and sang the sleep song and he eventually went to sleep.  But not before, as we were turning towards his room rather than mine, he said, "but I want to sleep with you, Mama."

"No, honey, you're a big boy now.  You need to sleep in your own bed."

"But I don't want to."

"Well, remember, we talked about it, and now that you're three, you need to sleep in your bed."

"No!  I don't want to!  I want to be two!  I want to be two!"

Sorry, kid.  That ship has sailed.

____________________
*Hat tip to my brother Sam, who came up with this line (by way of Thomas Wolfe, obvs).

Friday, October 22, 2010

Three is a magic number

Zeke is turning three on Sunday.

I could do another Animoto video, as I've done in the past on the kids' birthdays, but I feel like it doesn't tell enough of a story anymore, where Zeke is concerned.  The pictures are cute, and he's turning into a gorgeous kid (if I do say so myself), but the pictures aren't enough.

They don't convey what it was like for me to be driving him to school this morning and have him sit in the back seat and look at his animal book and say, "C-O-W....that spells 'cow', Mama!"

Yes it does, son.  And also, holy shit.

Newborn Zeke in his first bit of prison gear.
The pictures can't really give you a sense of what it's like to see this ... this boy -- I mean, he's certainly not a baby and not even a toddler anymore, he's seriously a kid -- and remember what it was like the first night of his life when he woke me up crying and for a second I was confused and thought someone had let a cat into my hospital room.  All of a sudden having this tiny little person in my life was so weird.  But now he is a person, an interesting, smart person, and we have hilarious conversations about elephant poop and which park has the best slides and the relative merits of mac & cheese vs. ham sandwiches and why it's fun to play with toy trucks.  It blows my mind.

There's nothing baby-ish in this guy anymore.
The pictures don't tell you how my heart feels like it's swelling up and about to pop out of my body when I walk by him when he's sitting on the couch looking at a book or watching a DVD and he calls me over to take my face in his hands, plant a big smooch on me, and say, "I love you, Mama."

The pictures can't express how I simultaneously die from the cuteness and also laugh my ass off when I drop Zeke off at school in the morning and he and his friend Elliott run up to each other, call each other's names, and give each other a big bear hug.

From looking at a picture, you can't hear the joy we both get from playing the silly "I'm going to change you..." game that we play all the time.  "Mama, I'm going to change you into a hot dog."  "Oh, yeah?  Well I'm going to change you into a piece of macaroni!"  "I'm going to change you into a traffic light!"  "I'm going to change you into a shoelace!"  There is no rhyme or reason to this game.  It's just funny and it makes us laugh.

You can see a lot from the pictures.  His twinkly eyes, his big smile, his sweetness toward his sister, his joy at being alive.  But you can't tell that if you take the joy from the pictures and multiply it by about a million, you might come close to the joy he brings me every day.  Maybe.

So, happy third birthday, Zekey-beans.  You're my best, sweetest, lovie-est boy, and I'm over the moon about you.

And I'm going to change you into a tree.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Conversationus Interruptus

One of the unfortunate side effects of having two small children is that any telephone conversation with me is bound to be either confusing, incredibly annoying or both (unless the children aren't at home, in which case I hope you will consider the conversation pleasant, unless you're with customer service for Verizon, in which case, piss off).

Few things drive me nuttier than talking on the phone with someone who is very obviously doing something else at the same time, like, say, opening his mail.  I'll say something, and the other person will start a sentence but then will go silent in the middle of a thought, and then finally mutter, "but I paid this already."  And I'm all, "Hel-looooo!  I'm still here!  Pay attention to me!"

Yes, I'm talking to you, Dad.

But now I'm doing it too.  Not opening my mail, which I almost never do anyway, which is why my water will be shut off, causing me to have to pee outside in the middle of the night, and I'll think that someone is playing a prank on me until I realize that I just forgot to pay the bill because I never opened it.

No, my offense is trying to have an intelligent conversation while also supervising my children.  So my poor brother will call me to chat, and then be forced to suffer through sentences like this:

"I also loved that scene at the end between Betty and Don, and really thought the whole episode was don't throw food at your sister."

Or:  "I can understand why you'd want to just settle the case and get -- I smell poop.  Who has poop?"

Or:  "We're really excited about get your finger out of your butt!"

My brother has the decency to not hang up on me or even scold me, though I totally deserve it.  But it's hard.  You get so used to trying to do 47 things at once, it bleeds over into your conversations and obliterates every rule of politeness that you've forever held dear.

So to anyone that is subjected to this in the future, please bear with me.  I know it's a problem, and I'll try to be better.  Things should normalize in, oh, 17 years or so.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday miscellany

  • You people are a bunch of serious task-masters.  By an almost 3-1 margin (and that's not counting the votes cast to let me know that I'm a big ol' dork), you said that I should pull up my big-girl panties and just suck it up and read the Chernow book already.  Lucky for me, this isn't a democracy, so I may or may not heed your advice.  I'm still deciding.  At the very least, so that I don't become completely boring, I am forcing myself to alternate every non-fiction choice with a fiction choice.  So right now I'm reading The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and loving it so far.  
  • Josie is starting to communicate.  I've been a little bit worried about the fact that she is at least 4 months behind where Zeke was at her age, developmentally speaking, because when Zeke was 13 months old, he was saying words and walking and had at least 8 teeth.  Josie says "dada" or "da-di" and occasionally says "mama," is at least a month away from walking, and has had 4 lonely little teeth that don't appear to be getting any company any time soon.  But suddenly she's taking more steps and chattering up a storm, saying "bye-bye" and using sign language for things like "eat" and "more" and "all done."  And as a close family friend said to my mom upon learning of my concerns, comparisons are odious.  So I'm not worried.  She's perfectly healthy and normal.

"Look, Ma, I'm standing!"
  • We're slowly but surely getting the house in order.  It was even presentable enough to have friends over for dinner Saturday night!  And my parents will be in town this weekend and have agreed to take the kids for a solid stretch on Saturday so that  and I can finish the drywall in the front hallway and dining room.  When it's all done, it going to be beautiful.
  • My friend Elizabeth is having a baby today.  Send her positive vibes for a smooth delivery and speedy recovery and a healthy, happy baby girl.  

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Climbing the literary Everest, and a "test your level of geekiness" poll

So I finally, finally, finally finished the Alexander Hamilton bio.  At 4 in the morning last night when I couldn't sleep and I had already watched my recording of The Good Wife.  I've been reading it since the beginning of August, but have only had snippets of time here and there, with the occasional plane ride that gave me a bigger chunk of uninterrupted reading opportunity.

And the book is huge.  But I didn't realize how huge, because I've been reading it on my Kindle, and the Kindle pages don't match up to actual pages, plus you can adjust the font and print size to your liking.  So all I knew was that a) it was amazingly written and researched; b) Hamilton was an extraordinary guy, and probably the most essential of the Founding Fathers, in terms of his ability to take the concepts underlying the Constitution and turn them into an actual working government; and c) it was taking me forever to plow through it.

Then when I went to DC for the Israel reunion, my parents had an actual physical copy of the book, and I was stunned.  It wasn't just 700+ pages, but 700+ big pages with teeny teeny tiny print.

Jesus, I thought.  No fucking wonder.

But I kept plugging, and finally finished it.

And somewhere along the way, came up with my latest uber-geek plan to read the history of the United States in order, by president.  I'm good with Adams and Jefferson (and a few others), but I've never read a biography of George Washington, so I was talking to my mom about looking for a good one.

Wouldn't you know, Ron Chernow just came out with an opus about George Washington.  And it's 900 fucking pages long.

"For God's sake!"  I said.  "I'm sure it's great.  He's an incredible writer.  But there has to be a worthy Washington biography in the 300 or 400 page range."

"But if you're going to be reading anyway, what difference does it make if it's a 900 page book or some other book?  My feeling is, I'm going to be reading something regardless, so I'd rather be reading something good, no matter how long it is."

"Hmm."

"I mean, do you read for quality or quantity?  Would you rather read more books, or read better books?"

"Can't I do both?"  I wondered.  "I'd rather read really good books that don't take me a million years each, because then I can read more of them."

She laughed.  But it got me thinking.  Why was I so hung up on the length of the book, when I enjoyed it and was going to be reading something anyway?

What say all of you?



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sleepless

I've been doing a lot of blogging in the middle of the night lately.

It beats lying in bed and tossing and turning and thinking about the various things on my to-do list that are crowding my brain.

But the middle of the night is also a great time to get caught up on my shows.  My DVR does its thing, and then I watch my episodes of House or Mad Men or The Daily Show at 3 in the morning, when no one is clamoring for my attention and Zeke isn't asking to watch Madagascar 2: Escape to Africa for the 80 millionth time in a row.

But I can't focus tonight.  My chest feels tight and full of anxiety.

Could be the fact that I'm changing jobs soon.  Going to try my hand at being a special ed. specialist again, instead of a general education generalist, which, as it turned out, I am ill-suited for.

Or it could be that J and I can never seem to get caught up around the house.  I feel like I spend every spare moment unpacking a box or trying to figure out where something is going to go.

If I'm not actually doing renovations.  Like sheetrocking.  Here's a piece of my handiwork:
I still need to tape and mud, but the cuts are clean and that sucker isn't going anywhere.
And here's another.  And see that thermostat?  I wired and mounted that bad boy.
The duk-duk dancer is watching over my work.
It's been nice having J home again.  Did I mention he's home again?  Except that the reason he's home is that he has a double hernia and can't work and needs to have surgery.  So he's around, but I'm still doing plenty of the heavy lifting, literally.

Lately when I talk to my friends and family on the phone, they keep asking me if I'm OK.  And they don't sound like they believe me when I tell them I am.

I'm OK.  I'm taking my meds.  I'm stressed out, but I'm OK.

I guess.  I don't know.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Blue Rules

One of the coolest things about my school in Israel was the Hockey Marathon.  Every year, I think in February, the entire high school would divide up into red and blue teams.  In the weeks leading up to the Marathon, the captains of teams would determine the hierarchy of players and divide into squads from A to E (or so) and practice.  The school was decked out in huge posters that covered every bit of available space, and the gym was transformed into a red and blue battlefield.

Then came the big event -- starting on a Friday afternoon, we would play floor hockey for 38 hours straight, finishing up on a Sunday morning.  First the A boys would play for an hour, then the A girls, then the B boys, and so on.  Most people played on two squads and thus were scheduled to play every 6 or 7 hours.  So we would camp out in sleeping bags and try to get some shut-eye between heats, or hang out in the gym cheering on our team, with the music blaring and all of our friends there and the whole school watching. 

I've never been involved in another tradition quite like it.  It was awesome and crazy fun and overwhelming and exhausting.  We'd all be fried and hoarse from cheering for days afterwards, but would immediately start looking forward to the next one.

And the allegiance to color was pretty much a permanent deal -- once you were blue, you were always going to be blue, barring some extraordinary set of circumstances.

When I showed up this past Saturday for the Alumni Hockey Marathon, I wasn't even sure I would play.  I had my kids with me and I was tired and I haven't played hockey in 26 years.  But I wore a blue shirt without even thinking about it.  Honestly, I just grabbed it out of my bag, and only when I got there and decided to sub in on a heat did I realize I was wearing blue, and of course would only play for blue.  Playing for red was unthinkable.


I only played for about 10 minutes, and was totally on the verge of barfing up a lung afterwards, but it was worth it.

And Blue won, of course.

The reunion was as most reunions are.*  A whirlwind of old memories brought to the surface and old friendships rekindled and the fascinating experience of finding out, 26 years later, how your recollections of teenage awkwardness matched up with what other people remember about you.  Seeing old boyfriends and thinking, "really? him??  Huh."  Martinis.  Getting into intense conversations with people you haven't talked to in decades, and have them tell you seriously deep dark secrets.  Dancing until 3 in the morning.  Laughter.


Lots and lots of laughter.
____________________________
* Of course my nervousness and apprehension were totally unfounded.

Many thanks to Candice and Sharon for the pictures.