31 December 2008

Dear 2008,

What a year you've been, 2008, my first year without cigarettes since 1994. I certainly wasn't expecting you to come along when my coping skills were so scratched and raw. Under your watch, I've lost my charming granddad, lost a child I'll never meet, lost a powerfully loving mamaw, lost a dusty old cat. My dad fought cancer and my dog had surgery. You obviously had something to teach me-- that is to say that I prefer to think you weren't just fucking with me.

But I have learned, have let go, have wrinkled, have fattened, have picked myself up (and let myself be picked up) over and over. Sometimes I felt like I was just weathering the crashing waves of you, 2008. And I'd like to think I gave you a run for your money. Finally, the days are getting brighter and longer, and you're on your way out.

But listing it out like that isn't really fair. I don't want us to part this way, me having dragged out the facts to build the case for your good riddance. Let's not have an airing of grievances.

2008, you weren't so unbearable. The guy I voted for won-- about damn time-- and I'm still adjusting to my own optimism. You brought me a career change and a kick in the ass. You gave me time to shake my own expectations about balancing work and life. You gave me another year with my perfect match of a husband and a priceless stretch of time to watch Birdy work on becoming herself. You were my eighth year in this city, knitting me closer into my precious little circle. Indiana seems more like a pleasant place I've been, and this feels more and more like home.

So goodbye, 2008. At the stroke of midnight, I'll you a hug-- and mean it-- and then flip you the bird as you walk out the door.

29 December 2008

On our terms

You may not have known this, since I was totally not posting for most of the month of December due to a mighty brain-sucking work project and holiday obligations and lack of daylight making me hibernate, but anyway: Little Miss Preschooler? Totally not down with Santa in 2008.

As in, persona non grata.

As in, mumble in his general direction at the Christmas tree farm, but HELL NO he is not coming in our house, no matter what he's slinging in that sack. She even went so far as to say, "Mama, you and Daddy can get me the easel. I don't want presents from Santa EVER OF MY LIFE." (plus a lot of hand gestures).

It was looking like a blacklist year for Jolly Old Saint Nick.

But, in a surprising turn of events in the final hours of Christmas Eve up in Littletown, Indiana, a deal was struck. We would leave Santa his milk and cookies. And a carrot for the reindeer. And he could leave presents to his heart's content. But he was not, under any circumstances, to enter my parents' home office where Bird slept on an inflatable mattress. Make no mistake, Cringle. You've been warned.

23 December 2008

Merry

I'm still alive out here, very much so, but I happen to also be in Indiana doing the Hoosier Holiday Hokey Pokey, eating cheese balls, a collection of spreads, and a wide variety of other bullshit non-foods. 

It is colder here than my southern pansy-ass can handle, and there is ice and wind.  But also, gin and tonic.  

More: 
I got my hair cut very, very short right before we left home, and I'm having some difficulty adjusting. It looks different in my head than it actually looks on my head, if that makes sense. I am satisfied but not convinced I made the right decision. SO WHAT'S NEW. 

And Even More:
We saw the Hoosier Dome collapse on the news, took Bird to the Indy Children's Museum. I might also have started minor shitstorm or two, Birdy has started exclaiming, "Mercy!", and a Goodwill sweater will always smell like a Goodwill sweater, no matter how long you own it.

And Still You Want More?
Road trip made possible by Drive By Truckers, Glossary, Modest Mouse, Band of Horses, and a departure time closer to bedtime than usual. Also the most silent, most freezing, and most questionable Waffle House on I-65.  I have been sleeping with Bird for 4 days, and she kicks and wakes up totally fucking early, but she also snuggles and says weird things in her sleep. I received a lovely collection of Burts Bees products today, I haven't owned a proper winter coat in years, I am typing this on a borrowed laptop in my in-laws' living room where the Weather Channel is positively blaring some dramatic thing about the Titanic, and I have no idea how to work the complicated panel of remote controls here. I just realized I might be the only one still up, and it feels very, very peaceful to be alone, even if I can't escape an old fancy ship in trouble with the weather.  

16 December 2008

05 December 2008

WOHM

You know, some days, this work/life balance thing comes pretty naturally. I get up on time, I make Birdy’s breakfast, give her a big snuggle, blow her a kiss and head downtown to my office. I work in peace and quiet, I think interesting thoughts, I take an hour for lunch, I am challenged, I create. I make the grade and I meet the expectation. I receive a pat on the back. I have this thing and this time that is mine. I get my work done, it is good work, it puts food on our table. I pick Bird up on time, she runs to me and tells me about her day, about the special snack for somebody’s birthday and using the big-kid scissors and how she shared with this kid or that kid, how they all played a game together, how she loves her friends and teachers. We go home and everyone behaves, Birdy coloring at the kitchen table while A. and I make a dinner for which we already have all of the ingredients. It’s bath time, then bedtime, then I take a few hours to hang out with A. or catch up on the Stuff That Must Be Done. The laundry makes it into the drawers, the bills are paid ahead of schedule, the dog hair tumbleweeds are minimal, thank you notes get sent, emails get returned, bread gets baked. It is busy, but it's joyful, manageable. I crawl in bed after eight and before midnight.

On these days, I am much more than a mama, but I don’t feel like less of a mama, if that makes sense.

And then, there are the other days, the days when Birdy shouts at me while I’m in the shower about the new coat she got in the mail from her Granny, and stick my head around the curtain to see a big girl, MY big girl, joyfully trying to jam her arm through the hood of her coat, and realize just how fast it’s really going, how distracted I can be, how I am spending my time racing around the lobby trying to buy popcorn when the show is already starting inside. There are the mornings when she is rude to me, that devastating preschool-rude, pushing me away, hurting my feelings, and there is no time to fix it because I’m out the door. There are the days when her willfulness clashes with my own willfulness, and I’m at a loss so I flip her the middle finger behind her back. There are the days when I fight back tears when I get in the car and for the better part of the morning, knowing that she’s pissed off at me because I leave her, because I don’t have time to find matching socks for myself let alone sit with her for two minutes when she says, “mama! I need some company!”, don’t have time to watch her stand on one foot, balance a lump of playdough on the dog, don’t have time to be her mama until much, much later in the day and by then, it feels like it’s too late.

And those are the days when the balance is gone, so lopsided, when the laundry spills out of the bedrooms and into the kitchen, when the to-do lists are scattered around the house like breadcrumbs I think I’ll be able to follow later to find my balance again. Those are the days when the dinner hits the table late, when I hit the bed too early, when it's hard to be kind, when the calendar is too full and the bank account is too empty. The days when I feel like my whole relationship with this Bird of mine is to prepare food, feed, and hustle her off to sleep, to some commitment, to another place so I can get on with the business of the Not Very Important But Very Necessary Things.

Days like today, for example.

02 December 2008

Chat from a Marriage

What you need to know: A. chose and purchased a deodorant stick at the grocery store labeled "The Official Scent of Confidence."

8:38 AM




a
: so you are going to the gym today
me: As Sarah Palin would say, "You betcha!" (wink) "Maverick!"
a: don't do that anymore
me: sorry
a: but good for you
me: yes, I am doughy around the middle, need to cook
a: you will feel so much better if you go regularly
me: I really think so
8:39 AM a: I think I am stinky today
as in
me: oh, nice
a: dog slept on my pants
me:how did that happen?
andy: not sure
but not good
me: yeah, not good.
a: at least I have the scent of confidence
8:40 AM me: yeah, confident that you smell like a dog's ass
a: zing
ok then
me: ok then


Thanksgiving post coming soon. Like, maybe probably tomorrow.


20 November 2008

Aller-geez-louise

You know that feeling when you're about to sneeze? When you say, "hold on, I'm going to sneeze," and the person you're talking to waits, and you stop whatever you're doing until it happens? That Ah-ah-ah before the CHOO?

That's pretty much my life from 5pm until bedtime, the ah-ah-ah part plus itchy throat and watery eyes. Can't think, eyelids at half mast, bumble and run into things. Plus violent bouts of sneezing that cause uncontrollable Springsteen-leg.

Allergic to the house.

If anyone would like to adopt an aging cat with health problems and a shitty attitude, let me know. I think (okay, I know) he is a major factor. Also, if anyone would like to buy me a house built after 1990 that does not sit on an open dirt cellar and possibly has central heat on both floors, please step forward as well.

16 November 2008

So, a Mama walks into a Gymnastics Birthday Party...

... and joyfully shouts "Happy Birthday, Marshall!"

to the wrong kid.


(It was a party for someone in Bird's class. I get the boys mixed up, you know?)

14 November 2008

Reality-based play

So, my Bird. She is a born caretaker.
If she's not taking someone's temperature, she's putting someone down for a nap, or feeding them, or disciplining the dog, or-- as is most likely the case-- she is changing her baby's diaper.

Bird is also the oldest kid in her daycare class (thanks, October Birthday, for ensuring that we pay for daycare for as much time as mathematically possible before the free public school days begin), and one of the only ones completely potty trained. Sometimes, she pretends to change some of her classmates' diapers.

Do I have to tell you where this is going?

This week, we had a little pow-wow about how we don't take our friends' pants off at school.

Because I needed another thing to keep up with

I have joined facebook. Which is weird and very non-anonymous. Non-onymous? It's like being AT the party, where people can see you from across the room as you're catching up with your co-worker from your very first big girl job at the mental health center million years ago. And then hey! There's that guy that worked the night shift at the group home and he wants to know your daughter's name.

But you know about Facebook. Apparently everyone knew about Facebook except me.

It's overwhelming, the activity level and the live action of facebooking. I feel like I'm playing whack-a-mole, monitoring all this action. I mean, yeah, I had a myspace, and yeah, I started this blog there, but it felt a little more "yearbook" and a little less "Reunion," if that makes sense to you. I'm used to a different level of anonymity when I go about my business here on the internets.

I know, you're all like, "Whatever, not only do I know where you live, I have used your bathroom." And now I'm all like, "oh geez, sorry, was there underwear on the floor?"

13 November 2008

Good Thursday Morning

Had that dream this morning-- the one where you get up, get in the shower, start breakfast. Everything normal, even the laundry is where you left it on the table. And then, you really wake up. And it's been 45 minutes since your alarm went off. And you shout obscenities and throw yourself at the shower, because it's the one day you have an outside meeting, and you have to find some un-embarrasing pants. And that can take a minute or two.

And your daughter, she wants to wear spooky socks. But mom? Not THOSE spooky socks. Those have SPIDERS on them, see? Not spooky. She needs the green ones with TWELVE PUMPKINS on them. TWELVE! She's holding one green sock, and the other? Well, anywhere. Your guess is as good as mine. But miraculously, you find it, in the bottom of the clean laundry. And honestly, if you'd found it in the bottom of the dirty laundry? Same result. Here's your sock. Please put it on. PLEASE. PUT IT-- hand the marker to me, please-- ON. And we have socks.

And then, shit, it's picture day at school. Let's have a look at you... bedhead, weird black and white hoodie and too-big pink cords, and the aforementioned bright green and orange spooky socks with TWELVE PUMPKINS. And you know the photographer brings "fancy clothes" for the kids, but last year the proofs of your simple girl looked like "trailer park pageant princess," dress too big and outdated, ruffly, falling off her shoulder. You know you're not buying photos anyway. But you dig around in the closet and find her pink and brown polka dot dress from your cousin's wedding, shove it in her bag, along with the Morningstar nuggets you'll be sending for lunch for the third day this week.

And we're off.

12 November 2008

Rollercoaster

Sunday, lovely Sunday:
A. played basketball for a couple of hours, Bird took a long (and necessary) nap, and I spent two and a half hours in my sunny little kitchen making food for the week (bread, paella, lentil casserole, edamame-corn salad) and thinking about nothing in particular. I listened to the end of A Prairie Home Companion (which I find more enjoyable as I grow old and weird), cranked up some Stan Getz for awhile, and finished the dishes with All Things Considered.

Mmmmmm. Content.


And then, by Tuesday:
I started laughing over my dinner and pretty soon, I was crying big clumsy tears, shaking shoulders and the whole bit-- crying from laughing, crying from sadness and worry, crying from grief, crying from anxiety and fear, crying from relief, crying from being completely overwhelmed. Bear's surgery finally over. Midwife appointment today that made me remember. Birdy's bird-ness. Rushing off to an afternoon meeting before dinner. Out of onions. Out of money. Out of clean clothes. Holiday plans and guilt coming from every direction. Suitcase still packed from the funeral in Indiana 2 weeks ago. Staying tired. Staying behind. All of that. Plus the good things, the Bird things, the A. things, the roof-over-my-head and food-on-my-table things. All of it, too much sometimes.

08 November 2008

Title, Schmitle

THE FUNERAL:
beautiful. A. played guitar and sang during the service with his cousin and uncle, and the funeral procession took the long way through her small Indiana town, with people standing at the sidewalk outside of their homes in respect as we passed. Side streets were blocked off with banners, and the flag was at half mast. People were kind, others behaved poorly, it was crowded, it was joyful, it was mournful, it was family. And it was good to be in Mary's house, though we'd never been in it without her there.

THE SIDE STORY:
We slept at Mary's house on an air mattress in the back room in the freezing cold, under quilts we scavenged from the upstairs closet that may not have been unfolded since 1974. And no surprise, slept terribly and battled stabbing sinus pains and cement-quality congestion during the visitation and funeral the next morning. So imagine my relief when I found-- and swallowed-- a friendly Tylenol Allergy Sinus I discovered in the bottom of my purse while standing on the front porch of the funeral home. And imagine my horror when I turned the package over and read "nightime." The rest of the day I was mildly stoned and not too upset about it.

OUR HOUSE:
Is a shameful mess, suitcase still loosely packed in the living room (where I've been putting on deodorant by the front door for a week), dishes in the sink, clothes everywhere. We're replacing the kitchen faucet tomorrow if we can muster the energy-- the faucet slowly disconnects from the sink every couple of days, the hot water handle is broken off and the sprayer is stuck at "on." Also, the toilet is running, the back door frame is getting weirder, and I can't even begin to list the other 80-year old elements of this house that could use some love, and yet still get none, as we have spent 8 of the last 12 weekends with one of us on the road to somewhere.

But damn. It is so good to be here. This morning I started and abandoned a grocery list, ended up dumping dried beans from one jar to another in the parlor with Bird. There are still beans all over the floor, and that was over 12 hours ago. And guess what? There they will stay, along with the laundry and the pet hair tumbleweeds, junk mail catalogs and piles of things I intend to read, renegade socks and shoes, all of it. To quote a friend, "I prefer to waller in my squalor." At least for this weekend, while I celebrate what looks like the (at least temporary) end of our two-state commute.

MY FRIEND:
is having surgery on Tuesday. We came home to find him-- my 11 year old Bear Dog-- with a very swollen ear, like some kind of poofy filled pastry attached to one side of his head. Turns out he has a hematoma-- which would be a bruise on any other part of his body but on his little old ear there is no tissue to soak up the blood, causing this big pocket. The vet also pointed out a dangerously infected/ rotting tooth that has to go, so we will be spending our entire Christmas budget times two next week taking care of Sir Rottentooth Puffyears and his stinky old body. That sounds resentful, but I mean it with affection. He is both stinky and old, those are facts. Plus, he is family.

MY BIRD:
has had the two worst tantrums of her short life -- and I do not exaggerate, I say WORST and I mean WORST-- this past week, a result of 4 days of scanty parenting, absent bedtimes and a steady diet of crackers and bullshit during our trip to Indiana. I think she is back on track, but DUDE. I have seen the dark side, and it is terrifying.

THE GOOD NEWS:
Yes, we did! We came home from Indiana Tuesday afternoon and I went straight to work, then home to the demon-posessed version of my child, then onto the couch with a bottle of nyquil and only the strength to stay up long enough to see Ohio go blue on the map. And then, several hours later in the deep, deep dark of my cold medicine slumber, I received a "YES!" text from my friend Jen, and went back to sleep relieved and hopeful. The next day, my crushing head cold symptoms showed marked improvement. So yeah, things are lookin' up all over the place.

01 November 2008

Haircut: Fixed.

Hello, $30 haircutter lady with the good-smelling shampoo. I have learned my lesson.

Yep, that's a picture of my haircut. I don't usually post photos of my own damn self here. But it's late, A. is out playing loud music in a sketchy neighborhood somewhere, and I thought it might be a good idea to take a photo of myself at 11pm in my raggedy-assed Vandy sweatshirt with no makeup on. And oh, hey, is that a 2006 calendar displaying the month of December hanging on my bathroom door? Yes! Yes it is!

30 October 2008

Happy Happy Happy

... That's what A's sweet Mamaw's been repeating since September. "Happy Happy Happy. I'm SO HAPPY!"


We lost her tonight to a swiftly growing brain tumor, discovered just over a month ago.

We saw her last weekend for her "Celebration"- a party she dreamed up on her own, right down to the music and balloon launch, when she learned about her cancer. When she addressed her crowd on Saturday, she said, "I just come here to LOVE somebody. And I just love you all SO GOOD!"

Yep, that pretty much says it.



We'll miss Mary's kooky stories, her open door, her kindness, her no-nonsense advice, her Christmas celebrations in March and her overall Mary-ness... if you knew her, you know.

Tonight, Bird said, "When Mamaw stops feeling sick, I want you guys to stop crying. Because I don't want you to be sad."

*sigh*

What a year.

Peace, Mary. We love you so good.

29 October 2008

Scenes From A Marriage

"It seems like it might need a little more... something."

"Something like what?"

"Rice, maybe?"

"We're out of brown rice, but I bought some white rice this week. It's in the pantry."

"You are such a ricist."

28 October 2008

And some more about my hormones

Also, as my hormones level out, my skin is freaking out a little bit, and I have a giant zit just under the outside of my right nostril. Like GIANT giant. So giant that when I told A. I was meeting two friends for lunch, he asked if we would be getting a table for FOUR.

I've taken to calling it the Zit Mustache, and making feeble attempts to cover it with makeup, which I am not so good at, and which you might think I might be good at having spent so much time in the fine arts department with paints and such, but no. I cannot successfully cover up a zit on my own face. I must have completely skipped that lesson in Junior High—when all of the other girls my age were learning how to convincingly apply cover-up, I was probably practicing for the Spelling Team. (You think I'm kidding. I was a competitive speller. Explains a lot, no?)

But the zit. It will go down in history along with the monster zit that appeared in the middle of my left cheek a week before my wedding, the one I fiddled with and poked at so much that I actually had to wear a band-aid over it. And apply Neosporin.

We will mark time by this zit. When I am old and gray and I drag out my ancient crock-pot to make some spicy black bean soup at the holidays, my adult children and their spouses will gently joke with me about how old that crock-pot must be, and I'll turn to A. and say, "honey, how old do you think this crock-pot is?" And he will say, "Well, you got it the year you had that zit mustache. That makes it thirty-four years old this October."

27 October 2008

$15 well spent

Well, it's finally caught up with me. The fifteen-dollar lady gave me a really shitty haircut. Maybe the worst haircut, actually.

As in, visibly uneven.

As in, may have forgotten to work on ONE WHOLE SIDE OF MY HEAD.

I didn't notice it when I left-- she doesn't really blowdry/ style much (hello, $15) and we were chatting away about something or other and I was excited to meet my friend J. for dinner and drinks afterward*. So I guess I just didn't see it then, but holy shit, my friends. Holy Shit.

And do you know that for a second, I considered trying to fix it myself? Both for the sake of immediacy and because I didn't want to hurt her feelings? Because it is totally sane to walk around-- and go to one's JOB, live one's life, be photographed with one's relatives at significant family events-- with some kind of bizarre experimental and asymmetrical hairdo. As if my crap-tastic highlights weren't already winning the beauty contest, now I have to sit with my head cocked to one side until I can get in for a rematch.


* because I'm the kind of cheapskate who will meet you for dinner with a damp, uneven haircut.

26 October 2008

Cry Baby

So, apparently my hormones are not completely leveled out post-miscarriage.

A list of things that have left me fighting back tears:
Stories on NPR
Any hymn, even the ones I don't like
My dog's morning arthritis
My sleeping daughter
An awkward, socially needy waiter at Waffle House
Postsecret
Many, many blogs about having babies and losing babies
Some blogs about cooking
A high school marching band

Things that have reduced me to weeping:
Making a grocery list

25 October 2008

What a crock

I bought a crock pot from a woman in my neighborhood for $35. I looked it up new. She used it twice before selling it.
ahem.
I have scored.

And I almost brought the seller half a two-liter of diet coke when I went to pick it up, because it was sitting around my house and I didn't want to drink it, and I figured that hey, while we're in the swapping spirit, you know, she could have my diet coke because maybe she really likes diet coke? A. said that was weird. He was right.

So far I've made spicy black bean soup out of dried beans and a few spices and next to nothing else, but it was delicious and ready to go when we fell in the door at the end of the day. And friends, I would eat broken glass with cinnamon on it if it was ready to go when I got home from work, so you can imagine how excited I am about this crock pot of mine.

Oh, and when I say, "made soup," I mean "made an ass-load of soup."
And when I say the second part, I mean that maybe we shouldn't have been eating spicy black bean soup for so many meals in a row.

24 October 2008

Today it is gray and raining, fall-feeling but not too gloomy.
I got up early and left before it was really light out to get to an early meeting about a tv ad script. I attended the grand opening of the new bus transit station and took some pictures. I wrote rationale for my recommendations on the longest tagline project ever. I put what I hope is the final polish on a big chunk of web content. It's been a productive day, I've enjoyed it. And now I'm staring at an ad in need of a headline and nothing. Nothing.

And what I'd really like to do? Is throw on a sweater and some thick socks, make a cup of coffee and sit on my front porch with a good book while the leaves drop. And I haven't thought about this for a while, but I as long as I'm dreaming I'll take a few cigarettes with that coffee, thanks.

About the getting up early: Bird has been waking up these dark mornings and coming into the kitchen squinting in her wacky-print jammies, saying, "too light, mama." And I have been trying my best to be more conscious of taking the time to sit down in the parlor and rock her long-legged sleepy self for a bit vs trying to speed everything up so I can get out the door on time. I'd rather miss ten minutes of work than ten minutes of my real job.

23 October 2008

Thanks

Thank you everyone for your comments, your emails, your kind words, your offers of food, your not getting offended by me not taking your food. Thanks for knowing when to hug and when not to hug, for your sweet phone messages and for letting me not call you back, for telling me your stories, for taking the time to read mine, and everything else that comes along with you being your awesome selves. I mean that.

18 October 2008

One in Four Pregnancies

I miscarried.

And I waited and waited to write that here, because I wanted to say it right. I wanted to write it well. I wanted to really capture it for myself for later, so it doesn't get shuffled around and dismantled in my own memory, bumping against board meeting dates and grocery lists until it's just a few little bits of deja vu and a blip in my medical history. I wanted to write it as I felt it, the realities of it, the physical pain, the emotional process, the concerned friends, the crazy dreams. If I couldn't give this baby its life, our love, and a closet full of hand-me-downs, I at least wanted to hold some space around the short time it was with us. After all, I was the closest person to it. I at least wanted to give it a decently-written story. But I can't.

Our baby died, and I didn't know it, and my body stayed pregnant for weeks. And then my body figured it out and a few hard days later, I wasn't pregnant anymore.

I started spotting the day before my 12 week midwife appointment, and I knew.
The bleeding got heavier the next day, and I knew.
I laid down on the ultrasound table in the dark and held A's hand, and I knew.
The technician couldn't find the heartbeat, had to do an internal ultrasound, and I knew.
She told us the baby had died, and I was surprised anyway.

She left us alone for a minute in the dark, next to a bulletin board full of photos of newborn babies, and then led us out the back door instead of through the waiting room, where other women were waiting for happier news.

We met with my midwife directly after that, agreed that my body could handle losing this baby without a hospital D&C (thank goodness), returned home with a bottle of painkillers and cleared our schedules for the rest of the week. Birdy went to daycare as usual for a few days and we stopped bracing for the worst and started to let it pass slowly through our house.

That Tuesday was hard, and the next day horrible. By Thursday I was feeling stronger but not ready to be alone, so we splurged on take-out, cleaned out closets, mopped floors, and made a Goodwill run. We kept our plans to travel to Atlanta for my cousin's wedding over the weekend, and it was good to celebrate something, to balance again.

Not the right time to have a baby, not the right baby, not something. I don't know, and I haven't spent much time wondering. What I do know is that our plans changed, and I'm newly reminded that my plans don't really belong to me in the first place. That I don't control very many things after all, and there is relief and comfort in that knowledge. It wasn't the right time for us to have another baby. If it was, I'd still be pregnant. It's that simple. Simple, but not easy.

03 October 2008

Good Grief, it's already October

Pumpkin Spice hershey kisses? Exactly how I would imagine a softened "Fall Spice" scented Glade plug-in refill might taste.

****

A.'s words of wisdom about the EastSide softball league:
"It takes all kinds. But mostly, rednecks."

****
Honestly, there are more desserts in my office building on a consistent basis than any place I have ever worked. And I have worked in a wine + dessert bar. I will be 300 lbs by Christmas. I will have this baby in April and you won't even notice anything different about me.

****
I've kept quiet about the details and shared only the vaguest of stories and whiniest of attitudes with you for the past month or so, but what ended up finally happening this past week is that I almost left my new job for my old job. And then I realized that would be a really, really bad decision. And since my moment of clarity and closure, my current job seems about 300% better.

****
Fall weather is upon us, thankfully, even with its dark mornings and earlier sunsets. I'm getting up way too late in the mornings-- what I need is my dad, circa 1992, to walk into my room for the third time at 6:00 am and just flip the stinkin' lights on and walk back down the stairs. I would be pissed, sure, but I would be on time.

****
Big dog can open Bird's door if it's not latched just right. He can open a lot of doors, actually, with a combination of turning the knob with his teeth and ramming his body against it. But Bird's door is one of his favorites, because she has a rug in her room, and it's the only rug in the house. He likes to curl up and get comfy and commence making a calamitous noise chomping his own ass. Anyway. More than a few times, I've been climbing into bed and hear him bust into her room, all legs and stomping and clumsiness and clanky collar. So I curse under my breath and stomp down the stairs to find him not curled up with his ass in his mouth, but rather standing in her doorway wagging his tail furiously. And then I look at her sleepy little self, about a half inch away from falling out of bed. And he looks at me like, "see?"
So add that to his predictive abilities-- thunderstorms and little kids falling out of bed. We all have gifts. His are just unexpected.

26 September 2008

Bird needs a haircut and other bits of information

So, after another trip to Urgent Care and many, many hours waiting to see a bona-fide opthamologist and a series of three waiting rooms full of elderly people with cataracts, my husband is fine, his sight has been restored, and the eye patch has been retired until the next ocular tragedy or costumed holiday, whichever comes first.

I'm still looking for the camera cable so I can share a photo or two. Our little catch-all office area is still a shambles but a more, uh, planned shambles, as we now have some actual piles of things that might really go together after we build the shelves we've promised ourselves. A. has separated all of "his" stuff from "my" stuff... editing and video and random cables and hard drives and nerds-only equipment over here, teeming piles of shit to be shredded, shit to be reviewed, shit to be paid, and general miscellaneous shit-- oh, and the massive collection of daily finger paint masterpieces on thick construction paper--over there. Seeing as "my" computer doesn't have internet, or electricity at the moment, I'm typing this on some kind of bozo keyboard that has editing symbols and colored keys instead of letters, and I must say I'm faring remarkably well. Mrs. Gibbs (high school typing teacher-- we actually used typewriters. And corrective tape) would be proud of my mad blind typing skeels.

Anywho, just thought I'd share that I didn't make bread this week and didn't buy any either, and yet we have miraculously survived. I received my political bumper sticker of choice and continue to race home to check for my t-shirt daily, but alas, it does not arrive. I made a delicious thing from the October VT tonight that I didn't expect to be quite so delicious, but hey, we were pleasantly surprised (served it over cous cous). Birdy has declared a tolerance for cous cous, and the new kid in her class at school seems to cause her mild stress by simply existing to this point without a working knowledge of the rules and culture of her beloved Red Building. I just spent an outrageous amount of money on 2 new dog beds and the big guy still insists on sleeping in his stinky old chair, which I have a desire to un-stink and about which he has a fierce re-stinking agenda. He is more underfoot than usual tonight, like the worst version of a needy, underfoot cat, if that cat weighed seventy pounds.

And another thing: I'm pregnant. You may know that already, because you know me outside of this blog or because I've not exactly been NOT hinting about it. We're excited, we're terrified, we're freaking out about the cost of dueling childcare. We're savoring the tail end of our three-pack days and preparing for a new life-- both the literal human one that will keep us up all night and smell like a heavenly human biscuit, and the new life we'll be navigating and fumbling with as everything changes in all six of the lives that are currently being lived under our little roof. I'm due April 28, almost ten weeks along at present. I'll keep you posted.

21 September 2008

Yahrrr

HI, excuse, excuse, eleven days no post, yawn, hello.

Friday night A. took a wicked (and completely accidental) finger jab to the eye from a certain pre-schooler I know. Over the last few days it's worsened-- ending in a trip to Urgent Care this afternoon, some magic goo, huge eye bandage and a nice black pirate-style eye patch.

This evening, making dinner, I was chopping broccoli, all like, "blah blah your mom probably just couldn't hear the phone..." and I look up and A. is looking at me like I've sprouted an extra head, so I asked, "why are you looking at me all weird?"

"Because I'm wearing an EYEPATCH."

He seems to have confused "eyepatch" with "permission to look deranged" Which, I suppose, is better than confusing "eyepatch" with something more dangerous, like "cloak of invisibility."
I would love to post a photo, but a pirate seems to have reconfigured the PC/ Mac hodge-podge up in here and I can't find the cord to make that work at the moment.

More soon, promise-- big work, big thoughts, everything big. Bigger! Better! Later!

10 September 2008

Hi. I'm still here.

There are big things happening, y'all. I've been a bit preoccupied, a bit tired. So much to consider, so much ahead. All good things, but so complex.

Also, we've been carting our happy little asses back and forth to Indiana for all manner of family events, and we're road weary. We're deep in a laundry crisis with no way out-- let's call this a laundry quagmire-- and we've stopped unpacking suitcases, treating them like special floor storage for the clothes we wear the most. We're over-committed after work to all kinds of worthy and unworthy causes, we're spending an ass load of money on groceries because we don't have the time to be smart about what we're buying. I feel like we're living event to event to event and we're facing another trip to Indiana this weekend. Fortunately, the last until the holidays, but damn, our (paid) dog sitter is LOVING us.

Does that sound a little down? I know. It is. I'm a little down, a little overwhelmed, a little pissed off and a lot emotional. We've made some decisions I certainly don't regret but now that we're at a no-turning-back place, I'm seeing more clearly how other things (job, for one) don't fit the way I thought they could. My math isn't working out and I'm feeling so disconnected from my real life-- the lively, interesting one-- spending all this time here in my box with my tiny window. I'm itching for a change again, even though change is barreling down the path, coming right for me.
Nothing is WRONG, but still, things don't seem quite right. The nudges are becoming shoves.

And to counter all of that moping, here are the things that are oh-so-good: my funny, funny Bird becoming more herself every day, doing awesome Bird things like hollering upstairs to A to make sure he doesn't forget his "deenerant." Saying, "Let's rock out" when she's got her shoes on and ready to leave the house. Reading her books to us, teacher style, slowly moving the book in front of her body in an arc so we can see the pictures. A's startup business taking a little more shape, gaining a little more momentum. Cooler weather, a heavy garden, never needing to buy tomatoes or peppers. A house I love that is patient with me and all my neglect. Little things like new tupperware. Constant things like old smelly dogs that tolerate being covered with stickers and friends who don't care if you don't call.

02 September 2008

A word about Pandora

I've been listening to Pandora every day at work. There are times it's like a fortune teller-- the spooky kind that tells you pieces and parts of your past with time-machine accuracy.

Fake Plastic Trees - Radiohead
This song brought me to my knees today, left me sitting in my gray, boxy office catching my breath. Had to stop working and close my eyes, remember flying along a country road thick on both sides with tall, tall green Indiana forest in a truck with the boys I lived with, tossing seeds out the window, breathing in fresh air and freedom with nowhere to be, 21 years old and so colorful. Feel like I'm going to throw up, maybe cry. Squeeze my eyes tighter.

And then tonight, this song socked me in the stomach for a hundred other reasons.
Sunken Treasure - Wilco

So, if you are turbo-emotional like me at this particular crossroads of life, and don't have your wits about you enough to navigate your own ipod, I highly recommend the creepy-fabulous fortune teller Pandora for a nice, cleansing cry at a moment when you are less than prepared.

22 August 2008

Cat Box: Non-Transferable

So Wednesday, as I pull in to my driveway and prepare to unload the massive amount of shit necessary to sustain me at work and Bird at daycare, my 10-year-old neighbor, Littel, comes running into the yard.

"You still got my litterbox?"

I don't even have one foot out of the car yet.

"What?"

"I need my litterbox back. I'm getting a new cat next week."

Oh, right. Littel's former cat, Brownie, ran away last fall. Being a sweet kid at his core, he brought over Brownie's litterbox, all cleaned out and ready to receive more disgusting cat shit.
He wanted to know if we might need it for Thomas.

Having used the same litterbox for nine years, we accepted.

"Littel, that litterbox is full of poop. I don't think you want it."

"Can't you just clean it out?"

"Do you have the cat right now?"

"No. My friend has it. I'm getting it in a couple days."

"I'm just going to have to get a new one for you. I'm not cleaning that thing out. Besides, we don't exactly have another litterbox on hand."

You know, since I wasn't aware this was a loan. CAT BOXES ARE NOT LOANER ITEMS in my world.

"Well, okay, but I need that litterbox back."

Littel ran back down the hill into his house. I got my nine bags of various shit plus preschooler plus the day's preschool artwork out of the car.

Two minutes later, he was back, knocking on our door.

"I need my scooper back."

"Excuse me?"

"My scooper. I need it back."

"Littel. I'm telling you. It's covered in poop. I don't think you want it back."

"Wash it off, then. I need it."

"DO YOU EVEN HAVE A CAT??"

"Not right now, but I'm going to. My mama says she can't find that same scooper no more at KMart."

I tell him to hold on. I grab the shit-covered scooper and hand it to him as-is, caked with stinky, vile cat shit.

"There's your scooper. I'll get you a new litterbox tomorrow."

"Well, I'm not getting the cat for a few days."

"DO I OWE YOU A LITTERBOX OR NOT"

Littel shrugs.

I close the door. I tell A. to buy the f-ing kid an f-ing litterbox, and vow never, ever to exchange goods-- even shitboxes-- with a ten-year-old again. And the thing is? It was undoubtedly Crazy M that sent him over to take back his litterbox in the first place. This is the same woman that sent him over to bang on our door at 11pm because someone was parked in "her" parking spot on the PUBLIC STREET, the woman who "gave" A. a pair of sneakers for Birdy, which were ugly and unsafe but which A. accepted so as not to hurt her feelings, and then sent Littel over the next day demanding $10 for the f-ing things. Gah. I could go on.

I know, I know. If we lived in nice, sterile, non-ghetto suburbia I'd still have a crazy neighbor, probably some busybody all up in my business or ferociously wanting to sell me some Mary Kay or wanting me to remove the one-winged gargoyle from the front porch (true) or getting all concerned about my country backyard clothesline*. But I live in a colorful little "emerging" neighborhood, and I have Crazy M and Littel, Drunken Teacher, Big Marvin, Friendly Hispanic Mechanic, and the Flower Sisters. And truthfully, I'll take them over a buttoned-down cul-du-sac any day of the week. Even if it costs me a cat box every now and again, I guess. But I'm going to be pissed off for a while. And it doesn't help that Littel just picked about 8 gorgeous-but-still-very-green tomatoes from my garden.

*Still diggin' the clothesline, by the way. Most people I've told about it seem very excited, though maybe they're just being kind. When a very senior-level person at work heard about it she said, "like, in your backyard?" Like I was slaughtering chickens in a voodoo ritual in the alley or something. Which I am not. Because I am vegetarian, and because I would not risk getting chicken guts on my crisp, clean sheets as they're hanging out to dry.

21 August 2008

Where's my Ouija

I had a nice little chat with my friend Stingray today on IM, following up on the progress of his house-buying adventures. I suggested that a previous offer that fell through was meant to be, because the house was built on a Native American burial ground. He said he wouldn't mind a mild haunting, a little blood on the walls, whatever. I said I'd like a poltergeist that folds laundry. Hello, friendly, helpful haunts! Find me on the Eastside!

11 August 2008

Recipe Corner: Tomato Pie

I made this for Sunday Dinner last week. No idea where it came from... wish I could give credit but it's one of those things I think photocopied from a library cookbook when we still lived in Indiana and waited eight years to try. But it was worth it.

2 frozen pie crusts
Grated swiss cheese (I grated about a pound? Yeah, probably a pound.)
4-ish ripe tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
Dijon mustard
about 10 Fresh basil leaves

Spread a thinnish layer of dijon mustard all over the bottom and sides of the pie crusts. I used a basting brush and it worked great. Kept it kind of thick-ish, like you're spreading it for a dijon mustard commercial.

Put the cheese in the pie crusts.

Arrange the tomatoes on top of the cheese. You will have to cut some of them into smaller pieces to achieve maximum tomato coverage.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until the crust starts to brown.

top with basil after it comes out of the oven. I just washed the leaves, made a little stack and cut strips with kitchen shears. Sprinkled. Worked fine.

Yum!

Best Most Productive Simplified Dream Life Forever

Look out. Mama's been reading the Life Coachy blogs again. And thinking about work and what I want for myself and my family.*
(here, here, here)

I wrote a long post about my job just now, about work and time and money and what is most valuable, and then deleted it. I have google documents filled with the detailed ins and outs and pros and cons and goals and dreams, questioning and second-guessing everything. I talk openly with friends and family about my wrestlings, but I often forget to remind them that this constant verbal self-debate is my process for figuring things out, and I end up sounding either depressed or whiny or lost or some combination of all three. I start talking about it and I wear myself out, hang it up, and just go to work in the morning. I have a good job. It's very different from my old job. And I'm adjusting.


*My typical blog reading alternates between beautiful design-focused art and home inspiration blogs and frugal/ non-consumer/ budgeting/ quit your job articles. Good things cannot come of this combination.

08 August 2008

Punch, Cross, Hook, Upper

There was a staff picture today at work. It was emailed to everyone. It wasn't my prettiest day. Ill-fitting clothes, dough-white legs, dried strawberry smoothie in my hair that I wouldn't find until about 4:30. The smoothie didn't show up in the photo, but the ill-fitting skirt really, uh, highlighted the ole midsection.

Reminding me why I've been getting up at 5:30 and doing a kickboxing workout video* in my garage for the past week. And damn, am I uncoordinated. But I'm doing it alone, before anyone is stirring, and when that little muscle-bound Australian smiles at me from the screen and says, "Yew deed grite!" I'm all like "F-YEAH I DID EFFING GREAT" and my mornings start to feel a little bouncier. Hopefully my midsection will soon feel less so.

And now, the story you've been waiting for
I've started buying dried beans instead of canned. And when you eat as many beans as I do, that's actually worth mentioning. The thing is that I've been buying them, but usually bail out or plan poorly and turn to a can in a pinch. I finally had the foresight to soak 2 cups of black beans all day yesterday only to realize as I started dinner that I was looking at another couple of hours to COOK the damn things. I ended up going to Ghetto Grocery (which smelled suspiciously pukey) for a can of beans, and all told, the big pot of beans caught up with the pot of canned beans and they all finished cooking at the same time, which is to say that I have a veritable shitload of black beans in my refrigerator. And which is also to say that while you may pay half as much for dried beans, they're going to require a nice, clear page in your planner.

* I let A. preview the kickboxing video with me. The line I hear about a hundred times a day, in an exaggerated Australian accent? "Yer riddy feh anything. Lit's jump some raope!"

07 August 2008

Paul


And now, my other grandfather has become more and more sick, upsetting the delicate balance of health conditions that have somehow kept each other in check and allowed him to have pieces and parts replaced along the way without missing much more than a beat. But there's been a decline, and a rapid one. He's been in the hospital all but three weeks since January. All I'm hoping for is that he can come home to his house and sleep next to my Granny for just a little bit longer. Kind thoughts, please. It has been a rough year in the grandparent department.

05 August 2008

Summer Dress

My big girl, in her sweet new dress from Great Grandma O.


*sigh*
Three is only about two months away.
Looks like I'm going to need another one of these.

03 August 2008

City Mice


Okay, can I contradict that last post? Yesterday we woke up and got to cruisin' before the Tennessee heat sat it's nasty, humid self down on the rim of the bowl where my city is nestled.

With Birdy strapped into her "drive bike" we pedaled to the library to pick up a book A. had requested, to the bike shop to get a new helmet for the now-preschool-sized head, and to the old-timey hardware store with the lazy cats in the window for a big honkin' bag of clothespins. And that was a pretty good time.

During one of my epic whines to A. about moving to the country, he explained that while he loves the big green leafy peace of the rural midwest/ southeast as much as the next guy, he feels more comfortable as a part of a big living breathing community where the constant motion and contact of the parts keeps the whole thing sputtering along, taking care of itself. And you know, I agree with that just as much as I want to can vegetables and let my dogs and children run their little legs off without a fence or a sidewalk in sight. And yesterday satisfied my need for urban opportunities and small-town insulation, all within 7 blocks.

Welcome to my life: it's all indecision and restlessness and greener grass just around the corner sometimes. Admittedly, it's when I've got ants in the pants about some other, separate issue.

AND. To the anonymous donor who turned over his/ her bread machine to the Goodwill where it was sold to me for $12 :

Thank you, thank you, thank you for donating the instruction manual as well.

01 August 2008

Indiana, oh Indiana


I have been having more stirrings recently about moving out of the city. And the thing is, I love living in the city. I love living in MY city. We have the best friends in the world here, we love our Prius-and-Shitty-Cadillac neighborhood, we have short commutes and a fabulous public library, excellent daycare, progressive church and miles of greenway right outside our door.

But still.

I'll be going along minding my own business, doing my dishes or something and then WHAM! out of the blue I almost can't even see straight because the call is so strong for me to move my family out to the country and wear an apron and can what's left of my tomatoes, or rock a baby on my front porch and listen to the rain with nothing else on my agenda for the afternoon, plant lettuce in the fall, slow it all down, focus in. Let go of my urgencies, have some space to breathe.

In my head, this happens in Monroe County, Indiana, and when I listen to Bonnie Prince Billy, the need sometimes becomes an actual pain.
Have a listen.

28 July 2008

Today is my Birthday.



Yesterday I was toasted by a handful of my nearest and dearest and given a composter (thanks, y'all!). Today, I received a staghorn fern from my in-laws (photos coming), a non-enormous bathrobe from my parents (yay), and tickets to see David Sedaris read here in October from my husband. So far, 32 is spoiling me.

We also took our very first post-bird camping trip over the weekend, which turned out really nicely. Hot, to be sure, but fun. Bird was a trooper, as always. There will definitely be more of that in our future. I mean, look how cozy they are in that little tent? You totally can't tell it was 600 degrees in there.

25 July 2008

txt me bk

I have a lot of friends with the same name as my husband.

When I send A. a text message, there is always a fair chance I am going to select a different A. in my address book on accident, telling an unsuspecting friend that he should pick up some sour cream on his way home, that the cat did not get meds this morning, or that we should try to stay up past 8pm tonight. (wink, wink).

It is really going to freak someone out or, better yet, cause a nice, uncomfortable miscommunication in the future. I hope all of the A's are looking forward to it, because I know I am. Game On!

24 July 2008

Hanger

As I write this, I am finally emerging from the murky depths of a fierce hangover, which I earned 100% last night on the back porch with A., flipping through a calendar and having a nice tense conversation about where to be and when over the Holidays. It’s an annual discussion I like to call, “Who will be disappointed the most?” and it most certainly flows better with an adult beverage or four.

And for the record, the reason I don’t usually drink white wine (ah, yes. NOW she remembers) is because it goes down a little too fast, a little too easy. And I end up with a wicked case of the bedspins and, eventually, huddled around the upstairs commode (which is gross by itself) assuring Andy that I’m fine and making wild arm gestures, waving him back to bed and saving him from the wretchedness that is me.

And so, today. I have worked very hard at nothing except sitting completely still and trying not to move my eyes. It has been exhausting work. My mouth tastes vaguely metallic and my body aches. My brain feels cold and my thinking is slow and sticky. I was asked to proofread a booklet with unimaginably tiny type and tedious subject matter, and that hurt me everywhere. For lunch, I dragged my sorry self over to A’s office and sought shelter in a warm, white Jimmy John’s sandwich eaten in a sort of upright fetal position next to his desk. He showed me recently unearthed home videos of us seven years ago, when we were skinny and lively and able to bounce back from two bottles of Chenin Blanc without incident. He rubbed my face to ease my headache, and only laughed at me a little bit, because he is a kind man.

19 July 2008

Behold, my laundries:



Look what came to my backyard this weekend!



Finally putting that hot Tennessee sun to work for us.
Love this thing. Just one step closer to living that country life I babble on and on about from time to time.

Want to hang your spouse's skivvies up for your neighbors to admire? One super awesome feature of this little beauty is that you only cement a little plastic sleeve in your yard, giving you the option to pluck the whole thing out of the ground and store it when you're not using it. Also awesome: comes fully assembled. Thanks to my most greenest C.S. for the recommendation. (And to my most helpfulest A. for the cementing.)

***

Conversation with my nine-year-old neighbor from across the street:

Mama:
Dude, did your uncle just drive up and give you money?

Littel:
Man, that's the easiest two dollars I ever made. All I had to do was get up early and pee in a cup so he could take it to work.

***

Conversation with my daughter over breakfast:

Mama:
Birdy, watch out! You almost spilled your milk.

Bird:
Mama, don't freak up.

***

What I saw today down the street at Wayne's Unisex, the haircut place that hasn't changed one bit since, oh, about 1979, and is probably the last place you'd think to take a two-year-old for a haircut, but it is so cheap and just so awesome in there:

Skinny old droopy guy, pretty tall, with paper-white hair.
Cut in the most fabulously long mullet I have ever seen.
A six hundred year old woman was trimming the "party" part straight across, which came almost down to his non-existent old-man butt.
I do not kid.

***

You know, for being a pretty handsome guy, he's not very photogenic. So I picked the most bizarre shot (a little Picassoey with all the legs, right?) to give you an idea of the Bear's new summer 'do and the distinct line between head (not shaved) and body (totally shaved).



This guy, on the other hand, is a bit more handsome. In a crazy, anxious, reclusive movie star kind of way. Tragically handsome, tragically a few horses shy of a library.


This is a somewhat terrible photo of what we like to call "the curler." When Big D gets nice and worked up, like during a thunderstorm as in this case where he nearly tried to climb into the bath with Bird, he curls his ears up in this super bizarre way, like little bat wings. The vet says he's never seen anything like it.


And how 'bout this haircut?

18 July 2008

Finally, a non-vacation post

We had a slew of people visit us from Indianapolis for a few days over the 4th, effectively filling our little house to noisy, joyful capacity (total bodies: 8 adults, 2 toddlers, 2 dogs, 1 cat, 1 fish. Plus 6 additional dinner guests on Friday.) Birdy had a fabulous time with her small friend P.,we laid on old blankets to watch fireworks in the park in our neighborhood and Bird spent half the time with her hands on top of her head, afraid the fireworks would fall on her. She and P. ate popsicles that stained their skin green until morning, despite heavy scrubbing. We all stayed up too late and ate too much. We talked about old times and how much things have changed. We laughed at my dog’s haircut. We waited in line for the one shower in my 80-year old house. We braved the heat.

I love to be the host of that kind of party. It was perfect.

I read something in a glossy home magazine recently about a woman who, of course, had some fabulously rustic summer home in, like, France or something, and it was all about her laid-back style of hosting (she doesn’t match towels!) (Mama says WTF, do people really match their towels?) and how she hosts these lounge-y weekends with fabulously simple dinners at an enormous table probably with fireflies and famously interesting people lolling around on hammocks with candles hanging from the trees, smoking fancy cigarettes and having a few too many glasses of wine, everyone jolly and singing a little too loudly and helping cook breakfast in the morning.

Well. Our style of hosting is more of a fend-for-yourself, you-know-where-the-band-aids-are, if-you-want-a-clean-shower-here's-a-sponge model. And yet, we still have loads of guests year-round, so that must be somewhat appealing. Or at least not completely revolting. Anyway.

This woman in the magazine was talking about her steady stream of summer guests and how she felt it was good for her children as they grew up, that it encouraged spontaneity and joy de vivre, that observing an unscripted, uncensored moment around the grown-up table was healthy and made kids feel included, valued, one of the pack.

Recently, someone I respect very much wondered aloud if our constant visitors were causing stress to our little Bird. It was a part of a larger conversation about attention-seeking behaviors that really made me feel helpless and honestly, hurt my little feelings as a full-time worker bee who’s just trying her damndest to be a good mama.

Uh-oh. Shake it off.

Anyway. I believe that yes, Birdy does need very special one-one-one attention from us. And she also needs to be left alone (within earshot) to get lost in her little world of babies and songs and playdough pancakes. And I believe it’s good for her, on occasion, to be a valued member of a raucous bunch of good-natured and treasured friends, where everybody cooks and everybody parents, where people aren’t hanging on her every precious word and she can gain the confidence to strike up conversation with anyone, even (gasp) a grown-up, or feel loved enough by a non-family member to snuggle on the couch with her favorite grown up friend A.L., or discuss scarecrows in-depth with a plentifully tattooed photographer friend, or rub a pregnant guest’s belly and ask two hundred questions and never feel embarrassed, or too young, or insignificant. It's good for her to have structure, yes, but it's good for her to learn that you don't always have to give a shit about bedtime. That sometimes things not going according to plan is the plan. That friends can be family and you can never be loved too much.

(Wish I would have thought to say that then.)

16 July 2008

Vacation Thought No. 11


My mom is a born Granny. She’s a really wonderful mom, too, first and foremost. But Granny-ing is where it’s at for her. She and Bird make each other so happy that I don’t mind when she lets her put lip gloss all over her face or feeds her a thousand Fig Newtons for lunch. Because most of the time, she’s careful to respect our parenting, and all of the time, she respects Bird for the awesome human she is. No baby talk, no obnoxious permissions (the perfect storm for a wicked tantrum), no spoiling with presents. Just the pure and loving one-on-one attention that makes really, really good buddies. I have a lot to learn from Mom about letting Bird lead me when I can, about setting my laundry-folding or dinner-making agenda aside, about climbing into her world and being more present with her. I’m so proud of both of them. Together, they inspire me to be a better mama.

Vacation Thought No. 10


I was invited and un-invited to Bird’s birthday party about seventy-two times during the week of vacation. She also told my family that “After my birthday, I will have a SISTER.”

So yeah, we’ll see about that. Kind of a big gift.

15 July 2008

Vacation Thought No. 9


We used my brother and sister-in-law’s new house in North Carolina as an overnight layover in our travels. They have a lovely wooden chess set on their living room coffee table, as well as a perfectly Bird-sized dog, the largest ottoman known to man, cold diet cokes in the fridge, the biggest master bath I’ve ever showered in, a seven-thousand pound cat with a tiny mustache and many, many catalogs.

In Bird-land, that chess set became an irresistible tray with drinks on it. She carefully arranged them on the board and spent a lot of her time by herself, serving them in an orderly fashion on the floor, assigning them to imaginary friends ( the great Venture Adivans) and friends back home at daycare.

A few hours before we left for our final flight home, Bird tripped on the rug while she was arranging her drinks and made fierce contact with the edge of the coffee table, right between her eyes. It was a nasty fall, and afterwards she got clammy and quiet and really, really sleepy. We all worried. All of my mama senses overflowed with the primitive desire to hold her very, very tightly or even absorb her back in my body somehow. I felt like throwing up.

The medical advice we sought told us not to worry, and sure enough she snapped out of it on her own in about twenty minutes with a huge bruise in the middle of her forehead that has now faded to bright yellow. I’m so thankful she’s okay, and also so thankful for bangs.

14 July 2008

Vacation Thought No. 8


What a two-year old girl will say at bedtime when there is an air mattress on the floor:

Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? MAMA!!! MAAAAMMMMAAAA! Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay? Watch this, okay?



And then she will jump. Once.

13 July 2008

Vacation Thought No. 7

Bird is an early riser. Fortunately, so is my family. My brother jogs most mornings before even Bird is stirring, my dad wakes up bright and early to open and slam every conceivable cabinet door and drawer in the kitchen, like a wild and ravenous grizzly bear foraging for some Egg Beaters and a cinnamon-raisin bagel. My mom pads around like a little ray of sunshine. My husband and my sister-in-law are adjusting to this early-bird way of life, and they are accepting and mostly pleasant about it.

Bird managed to beat everyone to the wake-up once during the week, so she and I took a special walk to the beach and sat on the hard sand to watch the tide roll out in the quiet. We walked a little, spotted a few early-morning dog walkers, seagulls, washed-up jellyfish. It couldn’t have been a more beautiful and perfect scene, mama and birdy enjoying the ocean and filling up with peace in the early morning.

And once we’d reached that mother-child beach nirvana, we held it for a few exquisite moments and promptly began a quick decent into madness, with Bird brewing up a wicked tantrum about a few grains of sand on her leg – after sitting in sand up to her waist all afternoon the day before and loving every minute of it, with sand in her swim suit and hair and EARS for the love of God-- and me grabbing her hand and saying things through clenched teeth like, “We are having a REALLY NICE TIME ON THE BEACH, Birdy, and your whining is DRIVING ME BANANAS. We are going to WALK in the WAVES because it is FUN.” You know, because it is up to me to tell her what she enjoys and our moment together is all about ME and my picture-perfect moment of mother and child harmony. And it is totally appropriate to art-direct special moments with a toddler. I left the beach with a screaming, kicking toddler under my arm. It was a beautiful morning and I will always treasure the memories.

12 July 2008

Vacation Thought No. 6.5


Bird was drawing with a fat red crayon before our first flight took off.

“What are you drawing, Bird?”

“A corn pipe.”

Naturally.

11 July 2008

Vacation Thought No. 6

My parents bought a special, slightly miniature beach chair for Bird. It was red. She thought it was totally the bees’ knees. (BTW, when I use that expression with her, she looks at her knees with alarm). She spent the majority of her indoor hours putting her babies in time out in a corner and then sitting in it with her legs crossed like a lady and her back to the offender. Or sitting in it with one of my dad’s giant cop-style flashlights, waving it around and having long conversations with nobody, like she was a guest on Invisible Letterman. Or standing up and singing loudly out of the stray detective paperbacks that come with a rented beach house, pretending to be in church.


10 July 2008

Vacation Thought No. 5

I learned that my newly suburban brother is capable of a full and informed discussion on the nuances that separate Crate & Barrel from Pottery Barn.

09 July 2008

Vacation Thought No. 4

Dad likes long walks on the beach. On Vacation, he takes off nearly every day alone (though sometimes with my Mom), his big tall white self moving along, swinging those big arms the way he does, big gentle grin tilted up at the sky, like he’s always giving thanks. This arm-swinging, glory-giving walk is so distinctive we can pick him out even when he’s far away, even when he’s strolling through the crowds of people way down the beach around the resorts. He’ll stop a few times and just walk into the ocean until he’s about shoulder-deep, sometimes float on his back for a while out there all alone.

I think about him more tenderly after certain events: his heart attack when I was in college, his scare with the big C this winter and my Granddad’s death this spring. And I think this is what it will be like when he leaves this world, just getting up from his chair and walking toward wherever he’s led in gratitude.

02 July 2008

Vacation Thought No. 3

If you were on any of our flights, you may have heard:

Bird’s Lyrics to “Frosty the Snowman”

Fros-ty the snowman!

Was a very joyold soooooul

With a corn-cob pipe and a button nose

And a corn made out of piiiiipe…


.

30 June 2008

Vacation Thought No. 2

It was stingray season at the beach. Did you know there was such a thing? Well, ‘tis the season for big giant sheets with mouths in the middle to slink past you in knee-deep water and whack a poisonous barb at your ankle.

Really, I do love the stingrays. They’re graceful and beautiful and alien, their mouths look smiley and they’re really just a gentle thing looking for little fishies to gobble. They just happen to have this unfortunate Wand of Intense Pain hanging off of their backsides.

We saw a big pack of them flopping around right where the waves were breaking. Their corners flipped up and looked like darty, spooky fins cutting the waves, and tricked us into thinking we were standing ankle-deep in shark-infested waters. It was just the type of nature drama we are thrilled to report when we encounter wildlife found outside of the state of Indiana.

29 June 2008

Vacation Thought No. 1

Can I brag for a minute? My Bird—THE Bird—was the best little traveler on our trip to Hilton Head last week. Three flights, ten total hours in the car, three different beds and a week in a beach house with six adults and no kids to play with and precious few toys and still. She was chipper and good-natured and cooperative. (Only one true meltdown and one major injury, both of which I will describe later.) She pee-peed in the scary/ stinky airplane potty and was perfectly happy to entertain herself with shells and toys when she needed quiet time in the house. She lavished attention right back at my parents and my brother and sister-in-law and was sweet and delicious and funny. She asked to be excused from the table, used her inside voice, and threw please and thank you around like a raquetball.

Not that two-year-olds should be held to adult standards or manners as a measure of good behavior. It’s not like I have a buttoned-up Yes-Ma’am kid. She’s a spirited little bird and a powerful little joy-force that may or may not be wearing clothes at any given moment. But she is so agreeable, so generous, so thoughtful and of such a pleasant disposition. She’s so much fun to be around, and I am more grateful than I can describe to have had a full, uninterrupted week of her silly, loving company.

24 June 2008

Back now, more soon


Birdy's Daycare Provider asked her where she went on vacation.

She said, "We went to LUNCH!"

08 June 2008

An end-of-naptime quickie in 4 parts

Proabably four times in the last few weeks, our power has been out at home. Sometimes we're here to experience it, coming in from the backyard in the sunshine and flipping useless switches, sometimes we come home from work to a blaring stereo and blinking clocks.

Every time it happens, we find three or so dead birds, fried right up, piled under the utility pole with the huge gray box on top in the alley behind our house.

++++

I am going to organize a campaign in the fall to banish the word "Best" used alone as a closing in emails and letters. As in,

Blahblah blah blah nonsense blah blah please let me know your feedback and I will relay it to the client.

Best,
Joe Coworker."

I get a lot of these. I fucking hate it. Don't do that.

++++

We are going on vacation in less than a week, with my whole family, and I could not be more ready or more excited. And when I return I have pledged to be a little purging dervish, donating or tossing every single item in this house I don't use or love. I'm thinking of giving myself a goal , like 1,000 things. Ambitious.

++++

My bird is waking up whiny as we speak. Eeeeh. Eeeeeeeeeeehhh. Eeeeeeeeehhhhhhh. I'm going to go set her free again into the world of the fully awake.

This morning she sat still like a little churchmouse, hands folded on the Book of Common Prayer and eyes straight ahead, singing out of an upside-down hymnal. Cutest. Thing. Ever.

23 May 2008

The Bridges of Yard Sale County

First of all, thank God for friends who don’t let you get away with getting all dramatic.


Y’all are right. I’m in the right place at the right time, and really, aren’t we always in the right place, even when it sucks? I’m just a little bored, trying to be okay with the decision to stop helping people as a career, and also little embarrassed by my last post. I kind of feel like the high school girl who stayed up all night writing dark and dramatic poems in her journal and then turned it in to the High School literary magazine in a fit of poor, poor judgment. I also like to call this feeling “Vicious PMS.” You can see more of my work in this medium in such classics as "Late Night Nonsense Argument with Husband," "Ridiculously Rigid Toddler Rules, " and the timeless "OMiGod That Commercial Was SO SAD, Where Are the Tissues."

+++++

I have a twitch in my right thumb. It is driving me crazy, this thumb flicking about on its own.

+++++

YARD SALE LIST! That’s what “YS List” stands for. I was going to make a list of yard sales and drag Bird around town tomorrow morning, buying other people’s castoffs and making promises to refinish/ re cover/ rewire. (That last one is funny, I’ve never rewired anything. But I have promised.) I’m not really going to make a YS list—my parents are coming in from Indiana for the weekend. But at one point I sure thought I was.

Here’s a yard sale story for you:

I grew up in an Indiana town divided right down the middle by two-lane Highway 36, also known as Main Street. Highway 36 will take you all the way to Colorado, eventually, but about an hour or so down the road from my hometown is Rockville, home of the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival. It is also the covered bridge capital OF THE WORLD. In your sappy face, Madison County.

If you have either a Tom Petty song or an REM song in your head after reading that last paragraph, dude, so do I. And we are totally old.

The festival is corny and crafty, and most years I never made it all the way to Rockville to walk around the town square and eat caramel apples and browse the nine hundred varieties of cutesy scarecrows made of straw and burlap. My main event was the drive from my town to Rockville along Highway 36, a long straight country drive in the early fall under a fat blue sky. And what could make that scene more appealing than the rural residents of three Central Indiana Counties dragging their crazy-assed junk to the side of a skinny old highway, ready to haggle over old handmade quilts, ridiculously kitschy furniture, driftwood lamps and broken electronics? And some of them even sold homemade gooseberry pie. I loved it. It was like a holiday to me.

I went year after year, sometimes dragging a college friend along, sometimes my mom, sometimes just me alone. I started to realize that some of the yard-salers were setting the same stuff out, year after year. I developed favorites (the gooseberry pie ladies, for example) and ventured down other county roads for even kookier loot and sometimes spookier people. I found the sweet spots, the hidden treasure, the stacks of embroidered pillowcases and ugly landscape paintings.

One year I took Beardog with me, during the period of his life where he went everywhere I went. We were a stinky, hair-covered team, me blowing down the highway singing at the tops of my lungs in the sunshine with the windows down, Beardog exhibiting the excellent dog quality of not complaining about loud singing, both of us hopping in and out of the car whenever something looked interesting.

I was haggling with a wiry old man in a lawn chair behind a long train of card tables over some old camera or belt buckle or brooch, and I looked down to find my sweet floofy dog freely pissing all over a cardboard box full of For Sale Junk—a $1 your-choice bin sort of thing that was stashed under the table separating me and the man with the overpriced broken radios. Having no idea how many precious $1 items were housed in that box, and being at the end of the day’s cash, I ended our negotiation and walked Beardog swiftly back to our car and drove away. I don’t know if anyone ever noticed the piss-box.

I’ve always felt a little guilty and a little victorious about that.

In closing, let's talk about what happens when you edit that story:

I went to a yard sale.

My dog pissed on a box of junk.

I kept quiet and left in a hurry.