Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I got nothin'

She's begging for the unpopped popcorn and driving me bonkers. I can't write under this kind of pressure.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Humbug

I am looking forward to December, as I do every year, with a combination of anticipation and dread. Christmas shopping, bad weather, and my 39th birthday can suck my Balzac.

But gullible kids who believe in Santa Claus almost make up for all that. Almost.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tonight's Project

We bought a new bookshelf and are taking the major relationship step of integrating our books. We will probably be up all night.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Here's what I learned about New York.

 New Yorkers really, really like to have long, in depth conversations about the best way to get from point A to point B. Whether it's by car or train, subway or street, they can talk for hours about the best routes to take to avoid traffic, reduce tolls and fares, and avoid the police.

They all think they know the best way, but they want to know which way you would go, so they can tell you why you're wrong.

Monday, November 22, 2010

She's a Dream

My three year old daughter Merry is having trouble in preschool.  Her teacher says she's smart, articulate, funny and creative, but if you ask her what color the square is she will tell you that it is green, when she knows very well that it is orange, because she thinks it's funny. Instead of counting the little Montessori sticks to learn her numbers, she will build a bridge out of them.  During "circle time" when the kids are having stories read to them, or singing a song, she will lie down, take off her shoes and suck her thumb. (To her credit, talking to her teacher makes me want to yawn and put my head down too, she's dull as a butter knife.)

Today when we got home, she went into her room, took off all of her clothes and demanded the pair of hand-me-down pajamas from her cousin Clara and her monkey slippers. She had a huge scratch on her belly and when I asked her where it came from all she would tell me is that she got it in Africa. I could get no other answer out of her.

The general consensus is that she has sensory integration problems, but I think of her more like I was as a kid: living entirely in my own head, so much so that I could hardly be bothered to pay attention to anything that was actually going on around me. I grew up so naive that by the time I was a teenager I still had almost no real idea of the facts of life, did not know how to pick up on the emotional cues of others, and did not understand popular culture at all.

An example: When I was fourteen my friend Maya talked me into entering the local very small-town summer festival pageant. She was really into it. She was a shoe-in; she excelled in piano, art, speech, and athletics and she was beautiful. And she wanted that crown. I was along for the ride.

There were a few different elements of the pageant; an interview, a group dance, individual talents, and formal gown promenade. The only talent that I had (that could be demonstrated in the school gymnasium where the event was held) was gymnastics. I chose music and made up a routine for myself, practiced it for weeks and performed it in front of an audience of two hundred people. This is the music I chose:



In my head, music from a movie about dancing = appropriate choice for a pubescent girl to do back-handsprings to in a sparkly leotard. When I saw the movie, I never got that she was a stripper. I still cringe at what the conservative Lutheran township thought of my musical choice and what it said about me and my future as a shining example of youth and ambassador for the town of Osage Minnesota.

Maya won. She went on to compete in the Miss Minnesota pageant.

I was first runner up.

Merry would totally win. Her talent would be "running really fast".

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Afterglow

We went to a wedding. Eric was the best man and gave an awesome speech and song.

A spong.

He splang.

Congratulations Ethan and Christina. You complete me... Us.    Mus.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Northport Long Island

Is where I'm at.

I've been up since four this morning. I cannot form thoughts, much less sentences. And I can't get my phone to connect so I can't share the pictures that I meant to post in lieu of words.

I will do better tomorrow, I promise.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Haiku

packing with headache
still don't know which shoes to bring
leaving before dawn

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bad Days

(I never really planned to write about this, but I'm hormonal and alone. So here I go.)

Today should have been the thirteenth birthday of my first child. He was never born. I lost him at four months. I don't even know if he was a he. But I called him Gus.

Some people think that a pregnancy loss that early is a blessing. They assume that you didn't really have time to become attached to the child. But anyone who has been in that situation knows the truth. That you have picked out names and cribs and colleges by the time the pee on the stick is dry.

When I started to hemorrhage I couldn't be grateful that I hadn't started to show or that I hadn't bought any diapers.

The miscarriage was bad enough. I wanted that child. But I think worse than the loss of the pregnancy, was the lack of support I got. The callousness, carelessness and even cruelty of the emergency room doctors. The coldness and distance of my husband -- we were young and he was as lost as I was. He didn't know what to say, so he said nothing. My family was far away, and I had no close friends. I didn't talk about it. I learned to never mention it because it seemed that whenever I did someone would say some asshanded moronic thing like "it just wasn't meant to be" or "you can try again" or the utterly ridiculous "God wasn't ready to let him out of heaven yet."

But that was ages ago. It occurs to me that if the same thing happened to me now, I would have someone to listen. The internet is a treasure trove of understanding. Whole communities of women who have suffered the same loss, and are willing to be honest about how it affected them.

I think, back then, someone suggested I go to the library and check out a book on loss and mourning. That was crap. No book would tell me it was OK to cry and yell and swear and hate the universe. Books suggested things like going to church or having a mock funeral for the child, then putting on a happy face and getting back on the horse.

There are people now, strangers to me, who would have fully supported my drinking binge, crying jag, and/or tri-state crime spree. They wouldn't allow me to blame myself.

But like I said. Ages ago. I do think losing Gus shaped the way I mourn and the person that I am.

There were other losses but I am a mother now. And I have recovered. Mostly. Although I haven't ruled out the tri-state crime spree.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

All By Myself

Eric and the boys left before dawn. And my kids woke up sick so I had to stay home with them today. So it was just me and them. All damn day. And it brought me back two years to before I met Eric. Snuggling with them on the couch watching cartoons. Rearranging furniture for fun. Feeding the kids real food, putting them to bed and then eating cold pizza or popcorn for dinner. Sitting on my bed drinking wine, folding laundry. Watching The Runaways.

I lived like this for a year. Longer, really. And it was the first time I had ever lived alone. I mean, I had the kids half the time, but I was doing it on my own. I don't miss it, I'm glad it's over, but I'm kinda glad I did it, too. Proved to myself that I could. Without losing my ever-loving mind.

And I'd be lying if I said I didn't like a little taste of loneliness once in a while. A reminder.

The house is quiet. Lydia is snuggled under the covers with me. Goodnight.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bon Voyage

My kids are sick and Eric and his kids are leaving at 5 in the morning for NY. So I'm just going to say this one thing. You should go read the story Eric wrote today. It's great.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wrinkle Free Knees

I walk into the bathroom where Merry's in the tub.

Me: Merry! How many times have I told you not to use my expensive old lady face soap on your knees?!

Merry: holds up three fingers... looks at hand.... holds up fourth finger.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tomorrow is the anniversary of us.

Sort of.

We've never decided if we should celebrate the day we met, which would be tomorrow, since it was just a quick workday lunch, or our first real getting dressed up nice and going out to dinner date, which would be Friday.

But since we'll be in NY next weekend for a wedding, today Eric made tiramisu (my favorite) and got me a massage, which he watched. Which was not weird, I promise. And we went out for sushi and now we're going to go climb in bed and watch a movie while we eat ladyfingers soaked in chocolate and coffee deliciousness until we barf.

Ah. Love.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In the Beginning (I was drinking when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray)

Two years ago today. I was talking on the phone with a dude with a funny New York accent. We over shared. (He says I over shared. I do that. Even more in person than here on this blog.) We agreed to meet for lunch. Lunch is safe, right? I didn't know if I wanted to get mixed up with a guy with a weird East Coast accent. I had been on a string of very bad dates and my deal breakers had become odd and arbitrary.

See, we had hooked up through an online dating service. That's how you meet people when you're in the latter half of your thirties, and newly single, in case you were wondering. So. This is how it started. And somehow it has turned into a marathon blogging nightmare. Nights like this. All the kids. Arguments about who peed all over the seat. A couple glasses of wine. And now I have to write.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Playing Dress Up

I'm going to a wedding next weekend. For which I will be wearing a dress. And, hopefully, nice shoes. Perhaps a piece of jewelry. I will almost certainly shave my legs, brush my hair and put on make up. Even lipstick. In short, it will be the nicest I've looked since the last wedding I went to, a year and a half ago. Except that this time I won't have cuts and green stains all over my hands from doing the flowers.

And as far as I can tell, this will be the last wedding I will attend until the kids are grown. Absolutely everyone I know is married. 

Except me and Eric. But that's a whole different story.

My point is, I either need to make more (unmarried) friends, or find some other occasion for getting dressed up. Because doing it as infrequently as I do, I am out of practice. I have to buy new things each time because just enough time has lapsed since the last occasion that my formal wear is out of style. And since I'm not accustomed to wearing things like strapless dresses and fancy shoes I will probably look as awkward as I will feel; tugging at my bra, squirming out of my shoes, covering my naked, farmer tanned arms.

But I love it. I really do. I love to dress up. I love wearing dresses. Especially the kind that twirl out around you when you spin. So, if you're out there, if you're reading this, please invite me to your next formal occasion. I will wear my pretty plum colored dress and toast your happiness.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dear Miss Manners,

There is an another business across the hall from my office where two elderly women work. It's some kind of christian charity or something. I dunno. Our office and their office share a set of bathrooms. The women's restroom often smells of baby powder and Miss Dior, but I usually have it to myself.

The older of the two women wants to retire and the other one has been searching for a replacement for her. I exchange pleasantries with them in passing, so when the woman began sharing her struggle to find a replacement for her partner, I listened politely. I smiled and nodded and oh deared and good lucked.

So today when we ran into each other in the bathroom, me going in, her coming out, I smiled and said hello and she started to tell me how excited she was that she had finally found the right candidate. I congratulated her and went into the stall. She kept talking. I sat down. She kept talking.

Now, I've never been one of those girls who go to the bathroom in groups of other girls. I don't generally carry on conversations in restroom stalls. So I'm unfamiliar with the rules of etiquette here. Would it be rude to start peeing while she's still talking? Do I hold it till she finishes her story? Or is this OK? Can I go about my business as she chats at me from the other side of this partial wall? Do generational rules apply here? Like, if the more mature woman is speaking, the younger woman holds her pee until the end of the conversation...? I'm at a loss, and I need to get back to my desk before the phone rings again.

Please help me Miss Manners!
Sincerely,
Elizabeth

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Night

Spooning with my dog, watching Mystery.
And watching Eric sleep, spooning with his dog.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

We are all tired.

Eric has a theory about how two siblings can't both be decent humans at the same time, one is all of a sudden sweet and compliant while the other throws himself to the floor in a fit of temper.

But what happens when they both come apart at the seams simultaneously? Mommy locks herself in the bathroom and cries into her wine, that's what.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Books

This picture is blurry on purpose. I don't want you to judge me for my bottom-shelf trashy titles: bodice rippers and wizards.
I love to read. I don't have a ton of time to read anymore what with kids and work and a boyfriend and a house that's falling down around me, but there have been times in my life when I have consumed books like food and lost touch with reality, wrapped up in stories.

I still read, when I have a lunch break at work where I don't need to do my grocery shopping, or at home when Eric is studying. Or, you know, in the bathroom.

But it has been so long since I've read the kind of book that keeps me up all night, unable to sleep till I know how the story ends, or cried at the beauty of the words, or felt that a book was telling the story of my inner... um... junk.

Since my teens I have devoured everything by Sommerset Maugham, E.M. Forster, the Brontes, Jane Austen and Shirley Jackson. And Mary Webb. Oh! Mary Webb. Precious Bane is the most beautiful book I have ever read.

And science fiction, too. William Gibson and Iain M. Banks. And fantasy, John Crowley and Neil Gaiman. I keep these books segregated on the shelves. Separate but equal.

Eric disapproves of the way I've organized my book shelves. I group my books by genre, and then by era, and then by mood. He uses a strict alphabetical fiction/non fiction method on his shelves.

Funny story. Eric's dad was visiting us from England over the summer and I came upstairs to change my clothes. I'm halfway up the steps with my shirt half off and I find Peter IN MY BEDROOM perusing my bookshelves. He said he liked the way I had my books organized. That it made perfect sense to him.  I put my shirt back on.

Anyhoo. What I'm getting at here is that I'm at a loss. I'm looking for suggestions. Have you read anything amazing that you can recommend? No downers - I've read my fair share of Hardy and Eliot. Nothing too modern-day-real-life. I like a little escapism. If it makes me laugh or cry I'm sold.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Storytime

My boyfriend Eric is from Long Island, and although he has a slight accent, mostly you don't notice it. Except when he reads to the kids. Then Yurtle the Turtle is a Port Jefferson used car salesman and the little turtle named Mack is a Jewish grandmother.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Trip Planning = No Blogging

Just spent an hour and half trying to figure out tickets to NY for Ethan and Christina's wedding. Can't look at the computer anymore.  

So here's a picture of me on a different trip I went on once. To Guatemala.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I am the champion of going home.

I work in a suburban office park. The kind they designed in the early eighties with all one-way, serpentine roads -- a mass of tangled figure eights with no stop signs. Viewed from above it must look like a bowl of Spaghetti-Os.

This is Minnesota and when it snows, the plows can't really see where one road turns and the next one starts, so in the fall they mark all the curbs with these little stakes. Tall and skinny with reflector strips at the top. They look just like those poles that slalom skiers whip around in the Olympics.

So as I'm leaving at the end of the day, it's hard not to imagine myself just sort of tapping them with my rear-view mirrors. Right turn - whap! Left turn - thwap!  Merge right - whap! thwap! I am Picabo Street in a Jetta. Racing for the gold. And Home.