31 May 2012

Road Trip

The girl and I, we're going on a road trip. My college reunion is this weekend, and while I wouldn't take her out of school for a trip to Disney, a trip to a college campus, even at eight, seems like an appropriate excuse for an absence. It's educational! It's aspirational! It's a day and a half out of school a few weeks before the end of third grade!

She's beside herself. She's been talking about it for weeks, she packed on Sunday, and she's handing me lists and instructions at every turn.

Here, Mommy, this is what you do when you pick me up at school:

Right. Like I've never picked her up early. Like I wouldn't wait for her.

And here, Mommy, this is what I packed:

Um, what about underpants? And a toothbrush? Or shoes? I should note that the "two time wasters" are not the DSi XL and the 3DS - no, the time wasters are a handheld clicker and a sliding number puzzle - essential road trip supplies. Also, she packed another bag with about six books, a stuffed animal, Julie, and lord only knows what else - it weighs a ton.

Oh, and Mommy, I need some more songs on my iPod:

Despite the admonition of Not One More! Not One Less!, I did add one more: I included the Beach Boys singing California Girls. I can't wait for her to cue it up and sputter this isn't Katy Perry.

29 May 2012

The Lamest Post in the History of Forever

Allow me to complain. I don't do it all that often. But considering that we just had a three day weekend, I feel robbed.

Saturday got taken up by a work-related memorial service, in the city - one of those events at which one's attendance feels mandatory rather than heart-felt. She was a lovely woman, and important to our organization in many ways over a long period of time, but I barely knew her, and would rather have been almost anywhere else at 11:00 on Saturday morning.

Sunday, we went for a bike ride, en famille. At what should have been the mid-point, I fell off my bike. I wasn't even riding! I'd stopped, waiting for my people, and in the process of dismounting, I caught my leg on the rear tire and went down, smash, on my tuchus. I swear, I thought I'd broken my coccyx, so much so that my husband took me to the ER where they shot me up with morphine and x-rayed me. Luckily it's not broken, but as the nice doctor pointed out, that means two weeks of pain instead of six weeks. Joy. I spent the rest of the weekend doped up on Percocet, reading and napping.

I did stagger out to the Memorial Day parade, briefly, and managed to miss two of the three dignitaries as they went by. I did wave frantically at the Secretary of State; I don't think she saw me though.

The worst bit about this damned injury is that on Thursday I have to get in the car and drive for four hours. I think I'll take my husband's car, because his isn't a stick shift, but still - not exactly looking forward to it.

Maybe it won't be so bad; I did make it to work today.

Okay. I'm not going to complain anymore.

Oh, except that this inability to move is going to interfere with my Couch to 5K training - of which I'd only gotten through the first week.


No more lame posts. I promise.


25 May 2012

Wedding Chicken

The bits and bobs surfacing as we clean out our mother's house are mindboggling in their breadth. Just last weekend, I brought home a copper asparagus pot and my junior high school jumpsuit. We found the box of clock bits that Moky had glommed onto when a neighbor's house was emptied - it wasn't that Moky was going to fix any clocks, she just didn't want the gears and springs going in a dumpster. Some crazy karma thing made me take the clock bits home, but I promptly located a clockmaker in my county who came and picked them up - they've moved on to a place where they may actually be of use. [And the guy gave us a Kit Kat Clock in return, even though I specifically said I didn't want any money.]

Up in my bedroom, hanging off the pier glass, were the crown of thyme and bouquet of lavender that had been my floral adornment for my wedding. They were dried out, scentless and shedding - because they were nearly 17 years old - but I popped them in a plastic bag. You can't just throw away your wedding bouquet, can you?

Happily, my husband was planning to grill some chicken for dinner. Happily, he agreed that the right send off for the thyme and lavender was as grill seasoning. Happily, the chicken was delicious, and the thyme and lavender actually came through with some flavor lo these 17 years later.

Me, I ate my wedding bouquet. You?

23 May 2012

Cultural Icon

Back in the day, junior high school that is, we had to wear gym suits - at least the girls did. I'd forgotten all about my gym suit, until - of course - it turned up in a box at my mother's house. Of course, I brought it home for the girlie.

She put it right on, and I'll be damned but the thing fits her perfectly which just doesn't make any sense given that she's in third grade and I wore it in seventh, eighth and ninth grades. Great mysteries of life. She then threatened to wear it to school; I dissuaded her. [She also pointed out that it doesn't really fit her; it's got boob darts and she's got no boobs.]

It looks a little like Rosie the Riveter's jumpsuit, it's made out of some unfaded perma-magic everlasting fabric, and my name is tidily embroidered in script - needlework by Moky.

Is there a gym suit museum somewhere?

21 May 2012

Double Exposure

Remember that she learned to ride her bike? Here's evidence - complete with an inadvertent multiple exposure, which I like, it gives it motion.

16 May 2012

Elected Office...Not.

So yesterday was the local school and library voting - budgets and board members. For some reason, no one ran for library board. As I was entering the high school gym to vote, I ran into the editor of the local paper, and I asked her why no one was running. She lit up and said "write yourself in". So I did.

This morning, I woke up to an email from said editor, subject line reading:

You and Bill Clinton got same number of votes!

Out of 62 write-in votes, I got two, Bill got two, and the winner got 34. So, I lost the race, but I'm totally tickled by the results.

15 May 2012

My Mother In My Garden

I spent a good chunk of time in the garden on Sunday. I had flowers to pot up for the front steps, and plants gotten at the garden club sale to put in the ground. There was a bleeding heart that was eating a corner of the perennial bed, a bleeding heart so big it had collapsed of its own sheer exuberance (abetted by a heavy rain). Even though it was still kind of in full bloom, I heartlessly dug it up and divided it in half. Here's hoping it survives. I impaled myself trying to prune the flowering quince, getting intractable thorns stuck in both hands. By the time I was done, I was filthy and sore, and oh so very pleased with myself.

It's impossible for me to work in the garden without thinking of my mother. Hers was her joy. A chore, to be sure, but a joy. She was ever shuffling hosta; I do the same. Her plants are scattered through my yard - hosta, astilbe, sedum - and solomon's seal running up along the front steps.

The sign was hers, bought in France, brought home and mounted on a bit of plywood. It faded terribly, its white letters all chalked off a few years after she got it. But she loved it so, and so painstakingly repainted all the little letters. You can't tell from a distance, but up close? It bears her brushmarks. And I think that's a bit of her standard issue hosta in the lower right hand corner.

It amuses me no end to have her sign living in my own garden. Little children are particularly perplexed, because (as yet) none of them speak French. If you come visit, you're not allowed pick the mushrooms (we've only toadstools), but I might send you home with a piece of hosta.

13 May 2012


Poetry for mother's day? Written by your very own child?

Yes, I said, yes.

(Though, upon reflection, I hope she's not comparing me to the one of our cats whose name is Rainbow...)

11 May 2012

Banking Shenanigans

About six weeks ago, we decided it was time to refinance the mortgage. We’re 8 years into a 30 year loan, and current interest rates are more than two points less than we’ve been paying. Refinancing is going to knock about 15% off of the monthly payment, and two plus years off the remainder of the loan. I’ve been going back and forth with the loan officer, coming up with odd little bits of information and various bank statements. Sometimes it’s seemed like dealing with Mo, Larry and Curly – the process of trying to get my employment verification to the person who asked for it took a week of attempted emails and aborted faxes before I just hand-delivered it to the guy at the branch. [True story: when we got our mortgage 8 years ago, the bank never even tried to verify either my employment or my husband’s.]

The other day, the loan officer told me they needed just two more things – yet another bank statement, and a letter from me about my self-employment income. Why yes, you noticed my schedule C, I do have a tiny amount of self-employment income – I get three nickels for running ads on my blog, once in a while I do a sponsored post, and I do a teeny bit of social media work for a local newspaper. I sent the bank the following letter:

In the past few years, as reflected on our tax returns for 2009-2010-2011, I have had a small amount of free-lance income – from sponsored posts and ads on my blog, as well as a smattering of consulting work. I expect to continue to receive such income, but I do not expect it to rise beyond its current level of just about immaterial.

This morning Times revealed that Chase – our bank, as it happens – lost two BILLION dollars trading. And they want me to explain my bubkis free-lancing? Methinks they’re barking up the wrong damned tree.

09 May 2012

07 May 2012

Get Swabbed!

A friend - an acquaintance really - has a son with acute lymphocytic leukemia, a relapse, actually. So I did the only rational thing that I could think to do, and signed up as a marrow donor.

It was incredibly easy - you fill out the forms on-line, they send you a kit, you swab the inside of your cheeks, and mail the swabs back to them. If I'm a match, they'll either collect peripheral blood stem cells via a blood donation, or pull marrow out of the pelvic bone.

If they call me because I'm a match, I'll tell you all about it.

You too can register - go to getswabbed.org. It won't cost you anything, and you don't even need to leave your house.

Also, lest we forget, FUCK CANCER.

04 May 2012

50% of the Fifty

I kind of hate all those Facebook plug-ins and apps and what have you. I hardly ever use Spotify because I don’t like broadcasting what I’ve been listening to. I block all sorts of other things. But some tinch of OCD in me made me want to count up which of the 50 states I’ve actually been to – just to satisfy my own curiosity. It turns out that I’ve been to twenty-five states, as long as you count flying in for lunch, or changing planes. It’s not like I’ve slept in all 25.

  • California
  • Connecticut (I lived in New Haven as a toddler.)
  • Delaware
  • Florida (We spent a long weekend in a swank hotel in Palm Beach. It was lovely, and kind of like visiting a foreign country. Also, see Georgia.)
  • Georgia (I went to a wedding in Albany, GA a long time ago. We flew People Express to Jacksonville, FL and drove from there.)
  • Illinois (BlogHer was in Chicago a few years ago. Also, I've changed planes at O'Hare. Hasn’t everyone?)
  • Maine (Their license plates say Vacationland for a reason.)
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts (Four years of college.)
  • Minnesota (I've changed planes in Minneapolis. That doesn't really count, right? Too bad, Minnesota makes the list.)
  • Nevada (We spent the night in Reno, and dropped one quarter in one slot machine on the way out of town.)
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico (My brother lived in Albuquerque for a while, in an adobe house.)
  • New York
  • North Carolina (I lived in North Carolina when I was a baby, and my father was stationed at Camp Lejeune.)
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas (Austin. I've been to Austin. Also to Lockhart, for barbecue at Kreuz's. And to the Salt Lick. And to Güero's. It's all about the food.)
  • Vermont
  • Virginia (Another place lived, as a baby, also while my father was in the Marine Corps.)
  • Washington
  • West Virginia (We drove through the very end of West Virginia on the way home from Washington DC in February. It wasn't strictly necessary, but it was sort of amusing.)
  • Wyoming (I had lunch in Jackson once. If you carefully review the other states I've been to, you'll note that I've been to none of the states that border Wyoming. Yes, we flew there. And back. For lunch. Insanity. I can't remember what we ate.)

Here’s the other half of the country:

Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • Colorado • Hawaii • Idaho • Indiana • Iowa • Kansas • Kentucky • Louisiana • Michigan • Mississippi • Missouri • Montana • Nebraska • North Dakota • Ohio • Oklahoma • South Carolina • South Dakota • Tennessee • Utah • Wisconsin

If we drive across the country one day, we could cross a bunch off the list.

Where have you been?

01 May 2012

Sick Blue Water

Medical non-fiction fascinates me. I couldn't put down The Emperor of All Maladies. I loved The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I have a whole shelf of books exploring the human body from a sort of poetic anatomical point of view. So that I've read two different illness-oriented autobiographies in the past couple of months isn't too surprising.

The first was a book called [sic], by one Joshua Cody, which was very well reviewed in the Times, both in the daily paper, and in the Sunday book review. It so irritated me that I scribbled a list of my reactions, and wrote a long blog post about how horrible it was and how awful a person the insufferable, pompous author must be.

And then Blogger ate my post. Gone. Completely gone. Normally the fact of having written the post would have exorcised the irritant demon, but not in this case; I wanted the goddam thing PUBLISHED. I wanted my irritation known to the world. Happily, my list was still in the book:

horrified fascination • emperor's new clothes • brittle
self-absorbed • facile • erudite • glittering
monomaniacal • stream of consciousness
hallucinogenic • digressive • infuriating • chronicle of madness

Granted, the guy is smart. He can write. He tosses off the phrase "spindly tessellations" and you shiver with its perfection. But he sounds like a horse's ass, and he definitely doesn't sound like someone you want to hang out with.  Oddly enough, he addresses just that issue:

And I wouldn't like it if someone read my book and said, I admire him as a writer, but I would have no wish to meet someone who wrote things like that, or to be friends with someone who would write things like that. When I was writing this, I gave a draft of part of this book to a friend in publishing, and she said she thought the writing was good but warned me that if it's published "you won't be able to have regular relationships anymore." What the hell did she mean by that? Maybe the stuff about girls? And then--as a matter of fact--she never talked to me again.

I think part of my horrified fascination with Cody and his book - and why I even finished the book in the first place - was that he's a composer, he has a graduate degree from Columbia, he lives in New York. I went to Columbia, I have a graduate degree from their music department. And I cannot in my head reconcile this guy with the composers and musicologists who I know, who I knew at Columbia, who live and work in New York. He just doesn't fit. He doesn't make any sense. The graduate students at Columbia are living hand to mouth in roach-infested student housing; they aren't drinking martinis in bars in the East 20s and screwing strippers.

Skip [sic]. I read it so you don't have to.

On the other hand, you may well want to read Blue Water White Water. [Here - here's the beginning.] It's a mesmerizingly fast read about a guy with Guillain–Barré syndrome - paralyzed in the hospital, trapped in his own body and only able to communicate by flicking his eyeballs from side to side. Somehow, he captures the vicissitudes of his ordeal with a sharp, unsentimental, first person eye - horrible nurses, wonderful caretakers, insane pieces of medical equipment, months of boredom, rage, nostalgic memories. The book is breathtaking, the kind of book you read in one gulp. Even though you know the ending, you keep turning the pages. Here, here's another sample, from towards the end:

Read it. And hope that you never end up there.