Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What a difference a day makes

Apropos of nothing, I typed the title of this post and immediately started humming What a day for a daydream...  You know.  That old Lovin' Spoonful song.  Which a) makes me seriously old (though I wasn't alive when that song came out, but the fact that I know it at all is kind of sad), and b) is annoying, because the song is annoying.

But I'm feeling bouncy because things since yesterday have improved dramatically.  J managed to score a secret deal with his boss that he wouldn't have to go to Alamosa and can stay in Vail for the time being, at least for another month or two.  In which time maybe something will have opened up in Denver, or he might have found a job with another company altogether.

So technically, the dramatic improvement is that the status quo can be maintained.  But I'll take it.

And tonight we're going to look at the house that I totally want, and if I like it, I may make an offer on the spot.  We'll be living in remodelling hell for a while, but I don't even care.  I want this house.  I'm all tingly thinking about it.  And yes, I checked, I'm not sitting on my phone.

Also, I won a case today. 

Have I mentioned how much I fucking love winning?  As the wise Nuke LaLoosh said, "It's like, y'know, better'n losing??"

So all in all, today is better than yesterday, and tomorrow may be better still.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bad things and good things and I'm not sure how much more of this mother-effin' craziness I can take but at least I'm leaving for vacation on Friday.

J and I have both felt like we're in a long, difficult stretch, in terms of the strain on our finances and the ages of our kids and stresses of work (mostly his) and how it just feels like life is piling on.  And has been for the past year.

The fact that he's been in Vail for over a year now, except for that 6 week stretch in Denver, after which his company totally dicked him over.

The fact that our Hawaii house is still upside down on the mortgage, and even with the rent we collect on it, we're still losing $1000 a month on it.

While we pay over $2000 a month in daycare.

And I'm home with the kids during the week while holding down a full-time job.  And J works long, exhausting hours, and tries to get home during the week when he can, and then on weekends.  So the kids don't see their daddy as much as they should, and the house is always in shambles, and we're always exhausted.

The Vail job is almost done, so we assumed that the guys still working up there -- the ones whose competence required them to fix the mistakes of the dipshits whose incompetence was rewarded with assignments in Denver -- would be transferred to jobs in Denver within a couple of weeks.

And there's this house in the neighborhood that's been on the market for months, and the price has been drastically reduced.  It's really pretty.  A cute Victorian built in 1896, right in the middle of a great block on a pretty street with shops and restaurants.  A nice little yard for the kids to play in.  Walking or biking distance to the office, or the best bookstore in Denver, or the park, or the pool.  Across the street from the coffee shop.  Two doors down from a hardware store and a grocery store and a post office and a diner.

It's seriously cheap.  It needs a lot of upgrades and renovation, but it's got great bones and the potential to be spectacular.  And J and I could do the bulk of the renovations, particularly with his construction know-how.

But we've got a lease on our rental house through February.  So we'd have to figure out how to swing all of that.

We could figure it out, though.  We think we really want this house.

But when J got to work this morning, he was informed that there are no jobs in Denver.  Instead, all of the competent guys who have been team players and have stayed in Vail to help the company finish the job, and finish it right, have been given the option of being transferred to a job in Alamosa -- which is 4 hours away, in the middle of fucking nowhere -- or be fired.  And they need to decide today.

So do we suck it up and deal with really shitty travel for another 5 months?  Do we collect unemployment for J and hope he can find a new job soon?  Do we take the Alamosa job and look for a new job in the nonexistent spare time we have, and then tell the company to piss off as soon as something comes up?

And somehow, at the same time, try to snap up this house, which I think is a rare opportunity to get into a fabulous neighborhood for a ridiculously small amount of money but a ridiculously large amount of work?

I believe this is called "paying dues."

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ask the young, they know everything!

Remember, as far as anyone knows, we're a nice, normal family.
                                                -  Homer Simpson

July 19th is a big day.  It is my brother Sam's birthday, my cousin Zara's birthday, my friend Susan's birthday, and my brother Josh's wedding anniversary.  Happy happy, all!

As I've said before, Sam is one of my favorite people in the world.  Of course I love him because he's my brother, but he's also funny, super-smart, creative, and interesting.  He was like that from the day he was born.  Always seeing things in a new way that nobody else thought of, coming up with random, intriguing stories.  When he was about 11 or so, he wrote this very dark mystery story about a detective in Anchorage, Alaska, investigating a murder after finding a severed hand in a field.  A) He's never been to Anchorage, so how totally random, and B) WTF??

Plus he has my ability to see a movie once or twice and then be able to recite most of the dialogue.  So frequently our conversations will take these bizarre detours when something reminds one of us of a quote from a movie, so we'll say the quote, and if there are other people around, they're all, what the fuck are you talking about?

But Sam and I, we don't miss a beat.  We'll know exactly what the other is talking about, we'll share a good chuckle, and then we'll continue with the conversation.

Lately, when Jason and I look at Zeke, we've remarked to each other how much he's starting to resemble Sam.  In particular, there's this hilarious photo that my dad took of Sam when he was about a year and a half old.  We were at the beach and the lifeguard was giving some safety demonstration.  Sam felt like standing with everyone else didn't give him enough of an appreciation of what was going on, so he went closer to get a better look.

There's something about Sam in that picture that just says "Zeke" to me.

Do you see it too?

Then at my reunion a few weeks ago, there were some AES yearbooks from my junior and senior years up for auction that a friend of mine bought.  We had a good time looking through them and signing them ("Best friends 4eva!  Have fun in college next year!").  I decided to look for pictures of my brothers, and found this picture of Sam:

Sam's the one on the right.  He's older than Zeke in this picture, but I look at it 
and see what Zeke will look like in a few years.

Jason and I both looked at it and said, "Holy shit, that's Zeke!!"

They're alike in other ways than just appearance.  

When Sam was about 5 or 6 and we were living in Israel, some friends came out for a visit.  It was the family of a girl I had been friends with in Virginia when I was in 4th and 5th grades.  Her parents had always let me call them by their first names, but Sam wasn't sure about this.  

So he asked the dad what he should call him.

"Do you want me to call you David?  Or Dr. L?  What should I call you?"

And Dr. L, being funny and sweet, said, "Sammy, you can call me anything you want, as long as you don't call me late for dinner."

Sam thought about it for a second, and being literal-minded, said, "OK, Penis Breath!"*  

Oy.  But also, hahahaha!

So while I'm on the verge of spraining my eyeballs from rolling them at all of the penis talk in my house these days, at least Zeke comes by it honestly.

*This was right after the summer that E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial came out.  Sam had seen it in the theaters and it made a big impression, particularly the line when Elliot calls his older brother "penis breath."  Also, hat-tip to my friend Susan L., who read the post about Zeke thinking milk made his penis strong and reminded me of this story about Sam.

Friday, July 16, 2010

This is why I'm not rich

Because I don't think up stupid shit like this:

Which I spent $9.99 on because I thought it would make a funny stocking-stuffer-type birthday present for Jason:

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A conversation with an almost-3-year-old boy

(while drinking milk)

"Mmmm, Mama. I like milk."

"I like milk, too."

"Milk's good."

"Yep.  And it's good for you, too."


"It makes your bones strong."

"It makes your bones strong?"

"Mmm hmm.  And your teeth, too."

"Yeah. ..... and it makes your penis strong, too!"

*sigh*  Seriously?  Already?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The University of Google

While I love having the universe of information at my fingertips, I know what a dangerous thing it can be.  I can't tell you how many special education planning meetings I've been in when the parents and their advocates show up with a pile of articles they'd downloaded about autism or the best ways to educate a student with dyslexia, plopped them in front of the teachers as if none of them had any training and experience, and proceeded with the meeting as if via the internet, they knew everything and the school district staff knew nothing.

I'm always tempted to ask them why the teachers bother going to school to get master's degrees in special education, if all they really needed to do was troll the internet and download a couple of articles.

But honestly, I know where they're coming from.  I'm guilty of it myself.

Last week, remember how I thought that Josie had an ear infection?  She spiked a fever on Tuesday morning, so I took her to the doctor, they thought her ear looked a little pink, and prescribed some antibiotics.

But I couldn't get the fever down for almost 4 days, which struck me as odd.  Zeke used to have ear infections as a baby, and he never got bad fevers, and certainly after a day or two on the medicine, he would be fine.  But Josie kept spiking these super-high fevers.  And the medicine tasted disgusting, so after 4 days she refused to swallow it, and when we tried to force it, she puked all over Jason (nice aim, honey!).

Her fever broke on Friday, and then Saturday she woke up with a rash all over her torso and neck.

We were all, what the fuck?, so I busted out the computer and started looking up her symptoms on WebMD and and a couple of other sites.  Here's what I found on

This virus generally causes 3 days of high fever (often over 103). The fever then subsides, and the child breaks out in a flat or bumpy red rash, usually starting around the neck, back and chest, then spreading out. The rash lasts a few days to a couple weeks.
Dr. Sears Clue: Roseola is about the only virus in which the rash appears after the fever breaks.

Eureka!  Those were her symptoms exactly.  So I stopped making her take the medicine (it wasn't helping anyway, plus she had basically given us the finger on that course of action), gave her some lukewarm baths with corn starch to help with any itching, and let the virus run its course.  Which it did.  Another symptom is irritability, and she was a total crankypants for 3 days, but then yesterday she was finally back to her old chipper self.

Jason wanted to take her to the doctor, but the websites all said that for most rashes, and particularly roseola, there's nothing a doctor can do, so don't bother.  Who needs a doctor, with all their years of training and experience, right?

The magic of the internet has even worked on me, via this very blog.  A few months ago, a close friend of mine who is a regular reader sent me an email.  She had noticed that I had been writing quite a bit about being irritable and grouchy and stressed out, and posited that maybe it was the hormones being emitted by my IUD that were the problem.

And I thought, hey, maybe she's right.  Plus, during my pregnancy with Josie I had been on a different antidepressant than the ones I used to take, and was feeling generally like my meds needed some adjusting.  So, it took me a while, but I finally got organized and went to see a psychiatrist.  She put me back on my old medicine, adjusted the dosage to compensate for hormonal changes, and also gave me a new sleep medication that also functions as an antidepressant/antianxiety medication as well.

And you know what?  I feel great these days.  I'm sleeping, I'm not getting stressed out by the normal ins and outs of daily life, I'm nice to my husband and my kids.

I love the idea of my blog as a diagnostic tool.  God bless the internet.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Occam's razor - the simplest name is often the best

Saturday night was the monthly parent's night at the day care.  We don't pass them up unless we're out of town, because otherwise, it's hard to get motivated and organized to decide on something to do, find a sitter, etc.  With the monthly night at the day care in place, the child care is taken care of, and it sort of forces us to get off our asses, get out of the house and spend some grown-up time together.

We had thought about finding a place to go salsa dancing (our rumba skills acquired for the Atlanta wedding are beyond rusty), but the place that seems to be the happening latin dance club is apparently crazy crowded on Saturday nights, plus it's been hot and I didn't feel like spending a night getting jostled by a crowd and sweating my balls off, and last week totally kicked my ass and I was tired.  So we decided to just drop the kids off and walk up to Colfax Avenue and eat and drink wherever it struck our fancies.

We decided on Ethiopian food.  There was a great place in Decatur right near where we used to live that was a favorite, but there weren't any Ethiopian restaurants in Hawaii, so it had been years since we enjoyed that particular cuisine.

There's a little hole in the wall on Colfax that's little more than a cinder-block building painted yellow, red and green (the colors of the Ethiopian flag) and with minimal, primitive-looking signage on the front.  We had always seen it driving past, but quite frankly, it looked kind of scary, like a mob front or something.  So we hadn't gone there yet.

On Saturday we figured, what the hell, we'll walk in and if it looks bad, we'll just leave, no big deal.

Well, it was phenomenal.  Very simple decor, basic formica-topped tables, but the food was astoundingly delicious.

We ordered a combo platter that, according to the menu, is meant for at least 4 people.  Our waiter, a sweet-natured, slow-moving guy said, "Oooooh, that's too much food for you."

"You haven't seen him eat," I responded.

A little while later, he brought out a huge platter of food.  With a twinkle in his eye, he said to Jason, "I think this will defeat you!"

We (mostly Jason) finished the whole thing.  And we had a lovely time, chatting and enjoying the time to just sit and drink beer and hang out.

Oh, and the name of this wonderful establishment?

The Ethiopian Restaurant.

I kept giggling throughout dinner.  Jason asked me what was up, and I told him that the name reminded me of a funny story from high school.

I forget how it all came about, but senior year in New Delhi my friend Kristin and I were hired by an Indian businessman who owned a clothing manufacturing company.  Ostensibly, we were to give him the teenage girl's inside view on fashion, help him with design ideas, that sort of thing.  I suspect that it was just an excuse for him to hang out with Kris, who was (and is) a tall, gorgeous, leggy blonde.  But we went out to his factory a few times and talked to him and gave him some ideas, and in exchange I think he gave us some free clothes.

One time, I think in the car when we were on our way to the factory with him after his driver picked us up, he was talking about an idea he had for an event.  He wanted to know what we thought.

"We could have a bunch of models, maybe you two could participate, and you could demonstrate the new designs.  We could invite members of the press to come, members of the community, try to publicize the company's work."*

Kristin and I nodded.  "That would be great."

He seemed pleased at our reaction.  "Yes, it could be very exciting.  And I think we'll call it..."

We leaned forward in anticipation.

"...'Fashion Show.'"

Indeed, sahib, indeed.  A perfect name.

*For full effect, you have to imagine these words being spoken by a gentleman in a turban, with a heavy Indian accent.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Aussie word of the day: embracing the criminal ancestry

Today is Jason's birthday, so this post is for him.  Happy birthday, honey!

So technically, this isn't a true Aussie word of the day post because I'm not translating Aussie-speak or highlighting one of Jason's uniquely Australian expressions.

It's more of a marvel at how for American women, the Australian accent is apparently the ultimate impetus to cast one's morals and one's panties by the wayside.

For as long as I've known Jason, American women have thrown themselves at him shamelessly, even when they knew he was with me, even when they knew he was married with kids.

About six Novembers ago when we were dating, he had been in Australia and came back to the States to live with me again.  We met up at the airport in Atlanta and immediately got on a flight to New Hampshire to go spend Thanksgiving with my family.  We hadn't seen each other in 2 or 3 months and spent the flight cuddling and shmooping all over each other.  We were very obviously together.

But that didn't stop the cute 20-something flight attendant from falling all over herself to get him drinks and snacks, or from slipping him her phone number as we got off the plane.

Ladies working the grocery store checkout line get all giggly and school-girl-ish when he talks to them, even when they're obviously on the other side of 50.  One woman who was clearly a grandmother said, "honey, you better stop talking and get out of here before I fall in love with you."

He even had a lesbian ask him to donate sperm so she could have his child.

When women I meet find out I'm married to an Australian, they invariably start cooing and ask me if I just melt for the accent.

What's funny is that I really don't.  I love Australians, and I love Jason, but I actually find the accent kind of nasally and grating.  I don't even really hear it when he talks, except when he's playing it up for effect.

(Now if he were a Scot, oof, forget about it...*fans self*)

The attention he gets from other women doesn't bother me.  I'm not the jealous type, and I know he loves me and wouldn't cheat on me.  I find it funny, and the brazenness is a bit astounding, but I don't get upset.

Plus, his way of dealing with it is often hilarious.

There's a woman at his work who has been super nice to him and who asked him if he would do some wiring at her house.  He'll generally jump at the opportunity to do side-work as a way of earning some extra cash, so he told her he would.  Then a few days ago, she started bringing him smoothies and getting kind of flirty.

Mind you, she's in her 50s.  And she knows he's married and has children.  I told him that maybe she got optimistic when she heard his wife is older than he is.

Then she invited him to join him at her lake house, which is in another state.

Being Jason, he couldn't just say, thanks but no thanks, I doubt my wife would approve.

He had to add that he can't leave the state.

When she asked why not, he told her he's a registered sex offender.

She hasn't bothered him since.

Friday, July 09, 2010


I'm back at the office after two days at home with Josie, who has been suffering from an ear infection.  Zeke joined us at home yesterday morning when he was apparently incapable of functioning at school because he decided that he needed to join me in the middle of the night before when I was up trying to get Josie's fever down.  I haven't slept more than two hours at a time since Monday night, and I'm completely running on fumes.

Normally when the kids go to bed, I can sort of exhale, knowing that I can read for a little while and then sleep uninterrupted until morning.  But Josie's fever kept spiking and I guess the pain in her ear made it uncomfortable for her to lie down for long periods of time, so I've been constantly trying to figure out which combination of Tylenol, Motrin and cool washcloths would get her temperature down, and then holding her upright so she could sleep on my shoulder.

Mama's tired.

Last night at around 2 in the morning, I finally got her fever under control, and she went to sleep until around 7.  I lay there, half dozing and waiting for her to start crying again.

When she woke up with a cool forehead this morning, I whisked her and Zeke off to daycare and went to work.

It would be nice if I were independently wealthy and didn't have to work.  But truthfully, coming to the office is kind of a relief.  I can sit at my desk in my quiet office, play my music on iTunes, have a coffee and work without interruption.  No one's crying, no one's asking me for water or goldfish or birthday cake, no one needs me to change their diaper.

I don't know how stay-at-home moms do it.  Of course I love my children, and I love spending time with them.  Last night Zeke and I were in stitches as we ran around my bedroom, playing a game in which we ran across the room, jumped up and then fell on the floor giggling.

"Jump high and then fall on the floor, Mama!"

But daycare is a godsend, as far as I'm concerned.  I believe the kids derive enormous benefits from it - socialization, turn-taking, following instructions, sharing, a structured day that I probably wouldn't have the discipline to provide consistently.

I also believe I'm a much better mother, and a much happier person, for not spending every waking moment with them.

Dr. Laura wouldn't approve, I know.

But fuck her.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Toddler blasphemy, refrigerator magnets and giant dildos

I have a foul mouth.  I enjoy a good "motherfucker!" as much as the next person.  But if I had to clean up my act, I think the hardest expression to wipe from my repertoire would be "Jesus Christ."

It's definitely my epithet of choice.  Sometimes I use the full name, sometimes it's "Jesus H.", or some other variation thereof.  It's just habit.

I know it's offensive to some as violative of the commandment against taking the name of the deity in vain.  But a) he's not my deity, and b) I think that taking the name of God in vain means using God as an excuse to commit bad acts, not exclaiming "Jesus Christ!" when you stub your toe.  Personally, I think that God, if S/He exists, has bigger fish to fry than the harmless use of words.


Notwithstanding my enjoyment of enthusiastic cursing, I definitely draw the line at doing it in front of my children (or anyone else's, for that matter).  We don't even say "fart" in front of Zeke.  If you pass gas, you have "tooted."  And I try to limit my use of "Jesus Christ" in front of Zeke as well, though sometimes it slips out accidentally.  But I know he has heard it.

So today we were putting a sticker on the most recent prize chart, in which Zeke is rewarded for going to bed by 8:30 and for using the bathroom.  Seriously, I'm so fucking sick of changing two sets of diapers.

Holding the chart to the fridge are two magnets, a commemorative one of the Hawaiian royal family's crest that I got at the Iolani Palace, and one that a friend gave me off his fridge when I saw it at a party and instantly fell in love with it.

Zeke started playing with the magnets, at first just interested in lifting them off the fridge and then watching them get sucked back onto the metal door.  Then he looked at the Jesus magnet and said, "who's that, Mama?"


I didn't know what else to say, so I just blurted, "It's Jesus."  Then I kind of braced myself for the inevitable questions to follow.



But amazingly, he didn't ask any follow-up questions, like "who is Jesus?" or something like that, which is a good thing because I honestly don't know what I would have said.

But Zeke never forgets a name or a face.  He remembers everyone and knows everyone's name.  He's like the Otter of his preschool class, only without the giant dildo or the seduction of Dean Wormer's wife.

So while he didn't immediately recognize the name, at some point, someone will utter it, either reverently or not, and Zeke will undoubtedly say, "oh, the man on Mama's fridge!"

In which case I imagine I will have some 'splainin' to do.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Back to reality

I can't turn off the buzzing in my brain.

Some of it is lack of sleep -- over the past 4 days, I've gotten an average of maybe 3 hours a night.  But some of it is this pervasive feeling of longing, of "wait wait no no no come back it can't be over yet."

Lisa put it very aptly, comparing it to coming down off a 3 day cocaine binge (possibly - I don't think either of us can speak from experience).

Jason and I flew out with the kids Friday afternoon.  With the exception of a mini-meltdown by Zeke as we were landing in Washington (he wanted to sit on Daddy's lap to watch the landing, rather than sit in his own seat with his seatbelt buckled), the travel went smoothly.  My parents picked us up, I changed into a nice shirt and some heels, put on some makeup, grabbed my mom's car keys, and headed to the reunion.

What followed was 3 days of sensory overload.  Feeling the synapses in my brain explode every time someone walked up to me and said, "WENDY!  OH MY GOD!  IT'S SO GREAT TO SEE YOU!"  At one point early Friday evening, my friend Greg said, "I'm feeling overstimulated, it's almost too much," and I knew exactly what he meant.

As expected, everyone looked beautiful, exactly the same, only more so.  We all fell into our old conversations, only with more laughter, more appreciation for each others' beauty and uniqueness.

There were even some typical high school shenanigans, when we went hunting around for one guy's hotel room when we heard he had three cases of booze in his room (the cash bar was exorbitant).  When we got there, his girlfriend basically told us to piss off and shut the door in our faces, leaving seven of us out in the hallway falling down with screaming laughter.

Friday night we closed down the hotel bar in the Gateway Marriott.  Saturday night we were there for last call at a rooftop bar in Adams Morgan.  We were all decked out with sparkly stick-on jewels that we wore like bindis.  Sunday we dragged our tired asses over to Lisa's for a barbecue (I couldn't stay, unfortunately).  All we wanted was to prolong that contact, that feeling of comfort and familiarity and love.

And then it was over.

I've been out of sorts ever since.  I miss my friends and that feeling of being with people who truly know me, even though they haven't seen me for 23 years.  I still can't sleep.

Nothing to do but start planning the next one.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

They will always be young, they will always be beautiful.

I was looking at some pictures on Facebook the other day of some friends of friends from high school.  It was pictures from a guys' outing, nothing remarkable, just old friends hanging out.  As I was looking at a couple of the photos, which were taken at a distance, there were a couple of guys that I didn't recognize right away.  If I were forced to give a physical description of these unknowns, I would have had to honestly say that they looked like guys in their late 30s, early 40s, whose jobs required them to do a lot of sitting at desks.  A little thick through the middle, a little jowly, a little gray hair.

Then one of the following shots was a close-up, and I had an "a-ha" moment in which I recognized a guy I thought I didn't know.  And somehow, before my eyes, he looked 15 or 16 again -- the age at which I had known him in the past.

I am going to my high school reunion this weekend for the school I went to (and graduated from) in India.  I have seen three or four people from my class in the last few years -- a few of them live in Colorado, and I saw Lisa a year and a half ago when I was in DC for Thanksgiving, but except for a couple of get-togethers in the early 90s, I haven't seen most of the people I went to high school with since I graduated 23 years ago.  I have kept up with a number of them -- many scattered across the globe -- via Facebook and through this blog, but I will actually see them, in the flesh, tomorrow night for the first time in a long, long time.

I am beyond excited.  Seriously, every time I think about it, I get a little bit choked up.  These friends were such a huge part of my life, and I don't even think I realized how much I've missed seeing them and knowing what they are up to.  Who they married, the cool careers they're in, what their kids look like.

I have a hard time believing it's been 23 years since I graduated from high school.  I remember it so vividly, and my experiences living overseas still form such a huge part of who I am and how I see the world, even though it was over half my life ago.

From the pictures I've seen, we are, for the most part, a pretty well-preserved bunch.  Everyone looks more or less the same.  But even if they do have more gray hair, a little more paunch, whatever, in my head they will always be the beautiful, vibrant kids that I remember from all those years ago.  The ones in my picture albums and in my memories of dancing at the Gunghroo, white-water rafting in Rishikesh, camel trekking in the desert, chilling on the beach in Goa and Kerala and Mahabalipuram.  That's all I will see when I look at them and hang out with them over the weekend.

Senior skip day, Spring 1987 - we went to hang out at some old ruins outside of New Delhi, 
drank beer, played football and lounged in the sun

And yes, I've been doing my damndest to shed the baby chub and get down to my fighting weight again, but to the extent I haven't been entirely successful, I hope they will see me the same way.