Thursday, January 31, 2008

no onions.

When I don't know what to make for dinner, I dice up an onion and some garlic and get that going in a pot with some olive oil, because that's how it all starts anyway. It's like freewriting. It really is a similar process for me. But when I'm out of onions, it's like all the pages are already written on or the pen's out of ink and, yeah, I could still write something, but it suddenly feels like more effort than I was planning on giving, and I'd just as well not.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

the last single digit

the last single digit

If I had any doubt about whether or not my girl was growing too old for the paper number tradition, she let me know quite clearly the day before that she absolutely expected them and would be very disappointed if they weren't there when she woke up in the morning. She ran into the kitchen first thing and threw her arms around my waist and said, in her exuberant (always) and sincere way, "Thank you!" and I don't know if she's talking about the numbers (what's a little construction paper, really?), or just the following through and consistency or something bigger, like keeping her alive another year. I don't know. But we hadn't even given her a birthday gift yet, hadn't eaten breakfast, hadn't taken her to the local bakery for a special birthday scone, nothing had happened yet, really. And yet, she was beaming and she was glad and she hugged me with all the gratitude her nine young years could hold and I pulled back a little and said, "You're thanking me? I'm the one who's grateful. I get to spend every day with this amazing girl here who is a little more amazing every year, Happy Birthday, sweetie." She was luminous and it was so sweet and, yes, we really talk as sappy as all that to each other. We had a lovely day, even if it did involve finagling a doctor visit for a rather sick little brother. Her dad skipped off of work and took her, in my inability to be at two places at once, to the tattoo and piercing place for the long hoped for, but seldom mentioned, ear piercing. It was a surprise and she was delighted. It seemed like a memorable way to mark what feels like, on the front end, a very auspicious year. Nine. Halfway to legal adulthood. So far from those precocious toddler days, but not close enough for me to even imagine self-sufficiency. I miss the wild-haired, cherub-faced little girl she was, so surprisingly wise and witty even then, and I see glimpses of, and look forward to knowing, the confident and bold woman she will be, but I'm just really glad I can hold tight and balance right here in the middle a little while longer. Her granny mailed her a sewing machine and her dad, brother and I gifted her with all sorts of accouterments related to her interest in being a Healer. She was thrilled to have new tools for two of her current passions represented; stay tuned for all sorts of creative goodness coming from both directions.

Monday, January 28, 2008

be ready for magic at any time

be ready for magic at any time

If a certain man in my household and I hadn't been having a certain somewhat heated discussion and he hadn't walked over to the window and peeped through the blinds, for no reason really than pure distraction, we would not have seen the late night snowfall. Oh, it stuck long enough to still be around, thin and icy and beginning to melt, when we woke this morning, but last night's rained-on snow is never so enchanting as right now's surprising magic falling from the sky. We pulled the miniblinds all the way open and moved our conversation to beside the picture window. The mood shifted and the volatile situation diffused; we reached a calm and a peace that I don't think we would have found if we hadn't seen the snow. He went on to bed and the boy (who has been sick, off and on and mostly on for the past several days and not really sleeping so much at all) and I kept crouching by the window, watching. And even though it was almost midnight, I tiptoed in to my daughter's room, held her little brother up to her bed (a high loft bed and I can't even see her sleeping form unless I climb up the laddder myself) and he said, in a hushed but excited voice, "wake up! see snow!" and she woke up, confused, blinked at us, screwed up her face and took a moment to make sense."wake up! come see snow! snow outside now!" and then her whole face flashed with understanding and she scrambled down the ladder and tripped to the living room. we stood there, the three of us, for a long time, just being quiet together.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

it's good to be known

Maybe I should save this for my quiet, familiar place across the blogosphere, but I am falling out of the habit, already, of coming here. And I need to practice. I need to write because in moving words from my head to a page where I can read them and see them and let them stay put, I free up space in my head that's so littered with anxious thoughts and things that obscure the edge of the sidewalk like fallen, slimy leaves. Clearing the leaves is much too big of a job for me to do completely right now, but if I clear away just a little of something, maybe I'll see the edge of the sidewalk before I fall off.

So I have this dear friend. She reads this blog sometimes, so I don't want to shout her name and call too much undue attention. But she knows who she is. It's her birthday in a couple of days. And I made her something.

I am not a creative person. I aspire to be creative and I attempt creative endeavors but it does not come easily. Which sparks the question, does it have to be easy to be true? Probably not. But it's not an identifying factor of mine. I know Artists and Writers and I assure you I am a humbled lowercase on both counts, if we're being generous. And that's okay. I write this not as some trickery back door self-deprecation in which I say "No, I'm not" to weasel out a string of "Oh Yes, you are"s from patient readers. With practice I think Being Creative has the potential to not require such great effort, my point being only that right now, at this place in my head, in my life, it sure does.

When you're not instinctively creative, when you're not the sort who not only sees fantastic finished art projects in the most mundane of materials, but can facilitate the making thereof, what do you do? Just your best. And hope that it translates into something the receiver understands as love and thankfulness and appreciation. I can't make something so beautiful and flawless but I can't offer that in myself as a friend, either. I am ugly and flawed, inconsistent and difficult. And yet, yet despite all that, I have people in my life who don't seem to notice the things I despise and pick apart about myself. Or if they notice, they keep quiet about it, and their presence brings out the better parts of me.

This friend of mine, she is one of Those People.

Our friendship has been many shapes. I wasn't even a mother yet when we met. I was a few months in to a hasty marriage, the very dawn of being a grown-up and just barely becoming myself. I am so grateful now that our friendship formed and grew strong before my daughter was born. Knowing my penchant for self-prescribed isolation as a cure-all for any headspace woes, I do not exaggerate when I say I do not think I would be as confident and seemingly successful (I'll get back to you on respective eighteenth birthdays) as a mother (or a person at all) now if I had lacked this one true friendship in those formative years. Young Mothers need close friends. For the first time in history, relatively speaking, we do this exhausting, dirty work without the respite of extra hands. We don't meet at the well each morning for water, our children don't play at our feet while we process vegetables or sew quilts. I mean, surely, yes, some mothers do those things somewhere and even here, now. But, generally speaking, it's a lonely thing to be the primary caregiver of small children. To have a person you can call up at any time for feedback on some detail, important or tiny, makes the work so much more bearable. I honestly cannot imagine repeating the first several years of my daughter's life minus the association of my dear friend. We talked daily, got together often. We lived across town and made frequent dates for play and tea.

And then they moved to a town several hours away. So when we moved to a state several days away, our friendship had already shifted from the daily and familiar to the long-distant and special.

We're closer again, we need but weekends and a hunk of driving time to arrange a get together, not airfare and whole vacations.

A special friendship is not to be discounted. My daughter considers my friend's children as other kids might consider cousins. She's known them well since the day she was born. She has grown up without a close-knit extended family, but having these friends a few hours away replicates for my girl the thrill that comes from overnights and rallying together to make a play to show the parents and the general excitement long anticipated visits from people dear to you. Certainly they are closer than most family, in our case.

But I miss the everydayness of our friendship. We had the benefit of becoming good friends when life was simpler for each of us. I couldn't do that again now, if I tried. I can't even begin to try again now. After starting over from scratch in a new place three and a half years ago, carving out Familiar from a monotonous litany of New and Strange and Different, I said I wouldn't put myself in that position, I would never do that again. And here I am again. I can see Familiar if I squint real hard, but the bulk of our life and our routines is all new, it's all on me to take nothing and make it something that feels like we live here. I am very lucky to have met some very interesting and cool folks in my new little town (hi, interesting and cool folks!) but to build friendships and juggle life with two kids (and their accompanying, disparate needs) is no small thing. Which is to say, that I know I will continue to make friends in my life. That I will never stop looking to enrich my world by knowing new people, but cultivating friendships is so much more complicated now.

How do I take all that, how do I say I'm celebrating you today because you are wonderful and my life is better, my children's lives are better, because you are my friend and roll it up in paper and tie it with string? I did it with recycled fabric and crooked seams and three broken needles and only a little head smacking. I could have, probably should have, followed a pattern. I wasn't trying to be symbolic by creating on the fly, wasn't stabbing at some fleeting metaphor of the organic nature of friendship. It's just the way that I am to start something without thinking all the way through and hope I can make it work. We've been good friends for eleven years now, and it's still working. I can't vouch for the expected longevity of the item I created for her, but I can say that it was made with love and if it doesn't do anything but reside in a drawer, when she sees it she'll know I care.

(maybe I'll share a picture later but since I haven't even mailed it yet, she shouldn't have to see her birthday present here for the first time. I feel a little like i'm talking about someone who is sitting in the same room. hi jess!)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

a day in the life (of my belly)

Yesterday, Saturday the 19th of January, I ate:

For breakfast, porridge (steel-cut oats) I cooked the night before and warmed up on the stovetop that morning. I like my porridge several different ways, but this time I had it with a generous plop of apricot jam and a bunch of ground flaxmeal. I would have had a cup (or two) of black tea, but we were out of black tea (actually, we were out of lots of stuff because we hadn't been to the store for pantry items in several weeks) so I substituted coffee, with unsweetened almond milk.


Lunch was a bunch of kale. Literally a whole bunch. I cooked up two, but accounting for what I shared with the other three people who live here, I probably only ate one. I cooked it with a lot of garlic and I ate a piece of sourdough wheat toast.

My creation

The hotel/restaurant/bar up the way was celebrating the building's 103rd birthday with free music, so we were there at dinner time. We sat in a dark, concert room and watched belly dancers perform with a live band and I ate a burrito. With tofu, minus the cheese, please. I forgot to say "no sour cream" and I scraped off as much as I could.


I did not take pictures of my ginger larabar snack mid-morning, various glasses of water, the cinnamon graham cracker I ate when my son took a bite of it and put it on the counter but cried for it back after I ate it. And there might have been a pitcher of beer.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

worth waiting for

like son, like mother

I know I've said it before myself, it's one of those pithy little sayings that sneaks into anyone's vernacular, but I sure dislike the phrase "worth waiting for." Geez, lady, of all the things to pick apart, right? But what's the implication there? Once some long sought after item (person, experience, state of being) is acquired, is it really that the waiting was "worth it" or that it's just a relief not to be waiting anymore?

I think about this with regard to my boy. How perfectly he fits into our family -because, hello, he is a part of our family. And how I can't imagine having a different kid, like had I actually gotten knocked up in those five long years we were trying to, because, uh, I didn't and he's here now and what else is he going to do but be a part? And this would be an ideal circumstance for saying it was worth it, the waiting, every last, disappointing bit of it. But why the need to discredit the experience of being miserable by jumping to the happy end point? The waiting sucked. period. He was a happy, wonderful surprise. period. Two whole separate situations with two whole separate affects on me. Having the boy stuffed the hole with balled up newspaper, but the wind can still blow through.

That's a heavy example, and I wasn't going to be heavy here, this space is light and neutral (and boring, okay, I said it so you don't have to. d-u-l-l, boring. i'm having a hard time finding my public voice, which is why i've been so quiet. it was easier to write here when I was tagging along on that post-a-day in November business -no more interesting, but easier- but now I'm waiting for inspiration to hit and and it's not hitting and what I really need to do is just stop thinking and start writing).

So, what I really came here to bring you is the conclusion to the desperate plea for the elusive boots. Riveting subject, I tell you!

I'm pleased to report that Zappos finally came through for me and I ordered the ONE PAIR in my size they had in stock (another customer's return, perchance?) and love them more than I have ever loved another pair of boots. Have I ever loved another pair of boots? Have I even owned another pair of boots? In the fifth grade, I sported a pair of magenta ankle boots for half the year. But I wouldn't say I loved them. And sometime during the dark years (those numbers ending with 'teen', more or less, which I've all but blotted out and now keep but a few, select mementos from that time) I briefly flirted with some ill advised countrified fashion/lifestyle choice involving flannel shirts and roper boots and though I may have been quite enamored with those winter white boots for a brief spell, we broke up soon afterwards and never spoke again. Just as we shall never speak of this reference again. Ay!

I anticipate many years of love between me and my new brown leather campers. We got off to a rocky start because I initially wanted to buy them for a certain event in December, which came and went and I remained bootless. And now they're here and I've worn them to the home improvement store, but they've yet to accompany me to any place important.

I hadn't posted since late Sunday night (early Monday) and it comes to this? Dear Diary, today I bought some boots. Tonight I might wash my hair. Clearly not worth waiting for.

Monday, January 14, 2008

on mondays i never go to work

If you know me more than a little, you probably know that our household is still smitten, all these years later with that matchless John duo, They Might Be Giants. The first thing my husband gave me after we met was a TMBG mix tape (ah, remember young love and mix tapes? one step clicking on the itunes can't possibly compare to the all day effort of tape to tape dubbing, no.) and warbled though it is, I still have it in my car (so long as i've owned my cranky beast of a car, she's never had a working cd player, so yes, i still listen to cassette tapes). He wrote some smart ass label on it like, "this is the only labeled tape in your car" because I had a rampant tendency to have scads of unmarked cassette tapes in my little escort, which beget the tradition of having to listen to several before finding the one I really wanted. Anyhow, I started listening to that one more than any others and it became the soundtrack to what was a really wonderful time in my life. I think it might have been the music that won me over to the man, maybe. Among other things. So then we embarked upon our whirlwind courtship and ill-advised marriage and always, always there was They Might Be Giants. And then the daughter came along and what else does a new and inexperienced papa default to for calming a fussy babe? But of course. So she grew up on the same tunes, too. Her first real concert (all ages venue, no smoking allowed) at age three and a half was for. . . who else? She zonked out for the opening act, but woke up for TMBG. It was one of those Really Good times, just the best of everything right in that moment, one of those moments that make me wish I understood String Theory or Quantum Physics so I could believe that the moment still exists out there, somewhere.


Consider that a very long introduction for this song I can't get out my head and I'm going to share it with you so you can sing it, too. They Might Be Giants is releasing another kid-centric collection soon and they've sent out several teasing forerunners on ahead recently. I get podcast updates to my ipod, and they're probably available elsewhere, too, but with the magic of youtube, you can hear what I'm talking about right now. I don't expect everybody to embrace the Johns as enthusiastically as we do. But I dare anyone who listens to this song to try to keep from humming it. . .

I love it because it's catchy but also because it's true. I never go to work. I don't work for pay. And I'm okay with that. I'm not just okay with it, but I actually really dig it. This won't be a soapbox-y diatribe justifying my lifestyle choices: what works for me might not for you and I don't expect everybody to have the same way of doing stuff. But the cultural expectation is that if I'm not working, I'm miserable and biding my time until I rejoin the workforce. I bake too many blueberry muffins and build too many block towers and read too many books to consider any of it the makings of being miserable. I don't get bored. I get frustrated that I have to cram things like toilet scrubbing and laundry folding into my day, but working wouldn't eliminate those drudgeries, just take time away from the stuff I really want to do. So the current set-up suits me. I don't speak for the future. Sometimes when someone hears that our girl is homeschooled, I'm asked, "but what about advanced math?" as if I'm so unabashedly attached to some No School ideal that I'd purposefully stick her in a corner without any resources to anything beyond that which is already living in my own head. And I don't make bold declarations about other choices, because anything could change at any time. But on Mondays, I never go to work. On Tuesdays I stay at home. I'm adopting the chorus as my current little theme song, because it clinks comfortably into the space in my head where I've been thinking about this subject lately. I'd love to have a sudden increase in household income and I'd sure appreciate more opportunities to exchange repartee with similar-minded folks with simpatico senses of humor, but I expect any work situation of my feasible reality would fall short on both accounts. I like it well enough to keep it this way.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

about as shallow as it gets here, folks

i can put my ipod in my pocket!

I'm getting into the habit of listening to music again. What an odd thing to admit. But for so long, scanty storage and subpar stereos have made dealing with piles of cds a real hassle. I have been in a longstanding rut of defaulting to npr or occasionally streaming from when I'm online. Now that I've got an under cabinet docking station for my ipod, I'm slowly importing my music collection (wee, by any standards) into itunes for convenient listening without the mess of dics. It's been nice having the music around more. Which is not to say it's quiet otherwise. We're a noisy little family.

And the more I listen to music in the kitchen, the more it occurs to me to listen other times, as well. (I told you this was an odd thing to admit). But I have to be careful. I'm too sensitive to music, I think, to let it in my head all the time. It's one thing to listen to it playing across the room and it's another thing all together to have it right up in my brain. How do I explain it? Here, here's a little paragraph I wrote about six months ago (am I really so lazy/uninspired in my writing to wade through old livejournal posts for one measly paragraph?):

I use my ipod mostly for listening to podcasts when I'm nursing the boy to sleep. A couple of times I did listen to music, but it was too powerful and I had to stop. Something about lying in the dark, with the music right up inside of me like that, it made me feel too vulnerable. It was like it transported me to adolescence, to the joy and hope I'd find in my walkman, the way music would create this unique, visceral response, the way it felt so specific and personal, the way it picked you up and held you, safely in the palm of drum beats and guitar chords, carelessly aloft with the whole, beautiful world around you. but now that joy and hope is juxtaposed with the heartbreak of being thirty-one and not all that much wiser. I wish I could explain myself better.

The only difference now is that I'm thirty-two, but I still can't explain it any better than that. It can be so perfect and beautiful, but there's a nostalgic discomfort in the beauty that compels my head to explode. What, you don't feel that way, too?

So, what am I listening to, anyway? Lots of stuff. I get really into one thing (one food, one pair of shoes, one humorous catch phrase) and I can listen to it (eat it, wear it, say it) a million times over before it even starts to get old. So if I tell you that my current favorite song is Mama Won't You Keep Them Castles in the Air and Burning by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah don't scratch your head and think, but that's what she said months ago! I really can't get enough of this song. It's not a single and so I couldn't find a stellar video to share, but you can get the gist:

(hi, I'm april, sucker for harmonicas and jangly melodies and weird, long song titles)

I'm also appreciating the fairly new npr All Songs Considered concert podcasts, with free downloads of complete concerts. I can listen to hours of Iron & Wine while I'm cooking dinner or rock out to Rilo Kiley when I'm cleaning up the house. There's a bunch of great music there already and I think they're still adding more. I'm not so hip to new things and music, so maybe you know about those already.

Surely you already knew that ipods are compatible with wireless headphone technology. I had this brilliant epiphany the other night, when, yet again, my headphones were ripped off of my head and my ipod flew out of my pocket when the cord caught on one of the drawer pulls in the kitchen and I thought, and then said aloud to the husband, that somebody ought to invent headphones (and by headphones, I really mean headphones, I can't stand earbuds poking at my cartilage) without wires. And he chuckled heartily at my expense. Sometimes I'll write about other things I've inadvertently re-invented, but now I'm just mentioning my status as a technological neophyte. Which is probably why I find it worthy of my time to sit here and write about listening to music through headphones at all; what is current and interesting to me is old hat to everybody else. (or sometimes the other way around).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

by the skin of my chipped teeth

I have to believe that if straight, pretty teeth had always been such a desirable attribute, people wouldn't have persisted very long. Teeth are useful tools. Even with access to scissors and steel knives and various and sundry other cutting apparatus, I rely on mine a whole lot. And it shows. But I doubt anybody's going to notice my front and center chips and think, "now there's a lady who doesn't mess around with stubborn soba noodle packaging, oh no, she an industrious force to be reckoned with." They probably just think I can't afford, or fail to prioritize, cosmetic dentistry. It seems so recent in our modern western history that we've created such a high standard for attractive teeth. Orthodontics aren't strictly functional anymore, restoring grossly deformed smiles into average grins or fixing misaligned bites so fundamental chores -say, eating or talking- can occur with less difficulty. Suddenly the whole world (or the whole world according to commercial advertising executives) sports a perfect set of pearly whites, tall and straight and stainless. Those of us who weren't blessed with ideal choppers from birth, or are disinclined to take the expected steps to acquire them after market, are left feeling a little inadequate. Or, we're supposed to feel inadequate. That's the message anyway. Whiter! Brighter! Straighter! More! Okay, maybe not the more (though surely permanently missing teeth carry a heavier stigma now than in times past), but it's untestable that we're not bombarded with images of perfect teeth all the time. Are we really supposed to live in a world where teeth aren't useful tools anymore? Are we really supposed to look like we never indulge in tea or coffee or red wine or betel nuts?

I was thinking recently (and probably talked about this with at least a couple of you -ha, there only are a couple of you- so my apologies if this is recycled -reduce, reuse, you know. . .) about Whatever Happened to Mediocre? Have you noticed this? It used to be okay not to be the best at everything. Now, every five year old on a soccer team might be the next Beckham (and parents yell from the sidelines accordingly) with all the hopes of scholarships and endorsement deals ascribed thereto. Oh, sure there's lip service given to being your "personal best" but the prominent, throbbing vein poking out from all of this is that we should really push ourselves to be THE best. But we can't all be the best at everything. We can't even come close.

With these chemical bleach strips, though, we can give the illusion that we are. And I guess that's all that matters.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

fifty-eight years ago today

my grandparents, fifty some odd years ago

It's hard for me not to think, when I look at that picture, what any potential future grandchildren of mine might think about photos of me and my youth and new love. I see my grandparents, smiling like the whole world was wonderful, shortly after they were married and I know that no image of me could ever possibly be so glamorous and beautiful. Beauty's so diluted these days. We pull a camera out of our pocket and document everything. Which is a little bit wonderful and is certainly one of my little obsessive pleasures, but maybe everyone looks so beautiful in old photographs because pictures were special and occasional. I don't have a whole shoebox full of photos of my grandma at age nineteen wearing pajamas and making silly faces. My future grandchildren will have, should the right shoebox fall into their hands, more documentation of my warts and all than will allow me the illusion of ever having been glamorous.

They look happy, don't they? I think they're still happy. I talk to my grandmother frequently. Last week she sewed and mailed to my daughter a long faux fur black coat, very chic with matching hat. My grandpa still putters around with his metal detector, scraping rusty treasures up out of the ground around the forgotten hills of New Mexico. He collects coins (and other things, I come by my fascination of old, useless stuff honestly) and just sent me, as a Christmas present, a proof set of coins minted the year I was born. I'm grateful for all the extra little relics and reminders we can gather up from them.

Happy Anniversary, Grandma Helen and Papa Johnnie. They don't read this, won't know I wrote this, but I think anyone who has been married so long as one day can appreciate the accomplishment of fifty-eight years together. A blessing, a challenge, a thing worth congratulating.

Monday, January 07, 2008

of words and world hunger

Let's suppose that it's because of my big beneficent heart and not my inveterate predilection for two dollar words that I'm up so late donating free rice. I don't visit the site so often, because it's all I can do to tear myself away from attempting to up my personal best (psst. . . because I know you're curious, it's 42. I don't know if that implies all those lonely adolescent years spent reading my thesaurus straight through several times over paid off or not). It's a neat idea, and fun, but I can think of better things to be doing at half past one in the early morning.

Friday, January 04, 2008

my kitchen is my closet

all day apron

I guess I figure that if folks can feel okay about wearing pajamas to the grocery store, then why not an apron to the park? We destined to the nearest playground this afternoon, but owing to a number of factors (strong winds, icy rain, irritable toddler) we didn't actually make it there. We decided to keep moving quickly and assumed the play structure would be too cold anyway. But I did, indeed, wear an apron on our long walk. It wasn't an accidental accessory, leftover from a morning of cookie baking. If I had sticky kitchen business to attend to, I would have opted for one of my sturdier, utilitarian aprons. This one was chosen this morning to complement my outfit. Not as a place to wipe my hands, but as a way to disguise my middle.

I'm finding myself with a bit of a wardrobe challenge these days. The challenge not being so much my wardrobe as the extra eighteen pounds around my middle. I wear a lot of long shirts to compensate for pinchy waistbands. When I got dressed this morning, I put on an old favorite pair of tan corduroys and a new black long-sleeved t-shirt, a very respectable combination, in which, however, I felt more conspicuous than respectable. I'm fond of adding skirts on top of pants for coverage and fun (I almost said 'fashion' but I'm not sure anybody but me finds that mix-up so fashionable anymore) and added a short denim skirt to the tan and black outfit. But the skirt was too bulky and the effect was all wrong. What to do? The few pairs of genuinely comfortable and adequately fitting pants I have were in the wash. And I didn't want to change anyway. I was thinking, hmm. What I need is something wide I can tie around my waist. A scarf? None of mine were the right width or color. Not a scarf then. I thought sadly, oh, it's too bad I don't have something I can tie around, like a pinafore. That's what I need. Wait a minute. Like a pinafore? An apron! I have plenty of those. Yes!

And so that's why you could have seen me hoofing around my town today in an apron. A very adorable vintage apron embellished with tiny ricrac. Tie up a dog turd in tiny ricrac and I'd find it some measure of adorable, but the apron truly is. I might have looked out of place. But that's because the winds were fierce, the rain sideways, and I was out walking for pleasure with two children in tow. I dare anyone to raise an eyebrow at me wearing an apron out of the house. It just hasn't caught on yet. Wait and see, all day aprons will be the next big thing!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

you've got to find your big gigantic drum kit

I don't watch much television. In our current place the television is set up in our basement. It's a very nice basement, just as underground and wood-paneled as any, but dry and carpeted and surprisingly spacious. We actually spend a lot of time down there, in active play, in creative attempts. It's a good space and tipped the balance, for sure, when we first viewed this house and considered it for purchase. But the television is out of the way, downstairs, and not so convenient for spontaneous watching. Which works out great, because over the years we've gotten out of the habit of watching current television and the basement-teevee set-up works just fine.

And really, this isn't about my basement at all. Maybe some day I'll take you on a photo tour and you can see the whole underground half of my house, but this is about not watching television so much.

So we don't watch a lot of current televisin, but the husband and I do enjoy watching old television on dvd. The low time commitment (half an hour or an hour, versus two+ for a movie) seems more accessible. Even though we often burn through several episodes at a time, we could always stop (after just one more). It seems more immediately gratifying somehow than starting a whole full length film. He works too much and falls asleep too inadvertently to be the best movie watching companion. Shows on dvd are much more our speed right now.

One perk for not watching much when it aired the first time around is that there's plenty to choose from when looking for old shows. Almost everything is new to me. I try to stick to shows recommended to me from those whose opinions I trust. I don't think I'll be settling into a CSI marathon anytime soon (or ever). I like quirky comedies or witty dramas, though, or occasionally really popular things like ALIAS and LOST.

Our library is small. I've rectified my confessoin from a few months ago and not only have I finally set foot inside, but we go regularly now. We're library people, so this isn't surprising, but I'm a slow warmer-upper and it's taken me a while to feel comfortable there. As far as libraries go, I've been in worse, but it has a smaller selection that I'd prefer. (stay tuned for another trite adventure of City Mouse moves to the Small Town). The movie selection is particularly lacking. I've only seen a few television series at all, so when I see one, I grab it.

The other day I got the complete series of Freaks and Geeks. We watched the first two episodes last night. I might be the latest arrival yet to this party, since the show premiered in 1999, but if you haven't seen it yet, I'd give it a tentative thumbs up. I'll make my final judgement after I've seen the whole thing. I don't normally like a high school drama. I didn't go to high school, so it's not a case of my personal experience not being reflected on screen (because that's a given); I find myself watching shows in a high school setting with the same derision I also reserve for people who talk about their teenaged years as the Best Time of Their Lives. No thanks. I mean, for one, how depressing to blow your whole happy wad at seventeen. I like to think that maybe next year will be my happiest.

But Freaks and Geeks blew me away. It's clever and sharp and would appeal, I'd assume, to a wider audience than only those currently attending high school. I mean, what do I know about what people currently attending high school would be interested in watching? My finger is not on the pulse of current trends, it is not. I mean, it appealed to me, so maybe that makes it less clever to the masses, who knows? It just rang true, not of what my high school years were like (oh ho, no. But that's not likely a tale I'm willing to tell here. this is my quiet, neutral public space and that's a loaded, private story) but what my life is like, uh, now. Take away the parents and the pop quizzes and I've got a lot of similar what-the-heck-am-I-going-to-do-with-myself angst. I told a friend recently that hitting my thirties has rivaled adolescence for angst. I know everyone says you'll have it all figured out by the time you hit thirty, I know the expectation is that the path will be clear and questions will be fewer. I am a little more comfortable in my own skin than I was a decade or so ago, but without the buffer of immortal optimism built in anymore (that thick coating of endless future so common in one's twenties), my thirties are feeling a little like it's time to shit-or-get-off-the-pot. The time is nigh. The time for what though? See, that's the question and that's why I found myself last night totally enjoying a long cancelled high school drama more than I expected I would.

There is this scene in the first episode where the main character and one of her new ruffian friends skip school; he takes her back to his house to show her something "amazing". And what do they see? His drum set. Snares and cymbals and one giant bass after another filling up the whole of his garage. And he's thrilled and excited and she is blank faced and confused and he tells her how lost he was before he discovered how much he loved drums. He tells her that she needs to find the thing that she's passionate about.

What am I passionate about?

I have passing interest in lots of things but I don't have one driving motivator shoveling coal in the boiler room, one powerful skill or talent or belief that fuels the rest of what I do. I think having that keeps a person moving along at a steadier clip.

(although moving slowly allows for a lot of tea drinking and bird watching)

I can be passionate about making wild speculations about the sordid, secret lives of my neighbors (I do this everywhere I live. I can't help it. My apologies if you live next door. But I think I know what you're up to. . .); I will animatedly describe my latest thrift store finds with emotion one might categorize as "passion"; I have not made certain lifestyle decisions lightly and can intelligently discuss the finer points of my ideas surrounding birth and learning and particular health nuances with intensity, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm really super passionate about any of that stuff.

Right now, I'm passionate about keeping the boy awake for the rest of the afternoon. Our mornings have gotten off to a late start, increasingly later day by day, late starts lead to late naps which lead to late late bedtimes and the cycle repeats. If I jolly him through without a nap today, we can attempt to nip the cycle with an early bedtime. And he can get to sleep early enough for me to watch the rest of the Freaks and Geeks episodes in one sitting tonight. I can get behind that.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

starting it off right


May we rise above the things that hold us down, keep us from being who we need to be. May the next year hold plenty of gladness and laughter. May my legs be strong and my hands be busy. May I derail this sappy beginning right quick in favor of something less greeting card-ish and affectingly sentimental!

I woke up today to hear my husband making flapjacks. And husband-made breakfast at 9 a.m. on a Tuesday is a thing worth feeling good about, even if we had to call it New Year to get it. We ate and he left to pick up our new desk. We have longstanding intentions of corralling our disorganization with the right tools and routines, but life (being life) has made it tough (or tougher than usual) and instead of getting our act together, we've found ourselves splayed further away from where we need to be.

First things first, we need a desk. A place for paper and bills and a working surface free from dinner smears. I've had a certain desk in my mind, a large, metal mid-century industrial sort, the kind of desk one might find in a secondhand store (my apologies if that similar phrase has you inadvertently humming Prince), but then again, one might not. And I have not. My thrifting luck of late has revolved around pretty plates and old sheets, not so much anything of the big and useful variety. The husband was growing so impatient with my insistence on wanting just the right, certain desk that he declared the other day that he was going to, simply, rig a work surface up out of an old door, a filing cabinet, and, uh. . . a stack of boxes or something. The point being clear: we need to get this step of our new organizational plan underway and working for us.

And, just to be clear, our organizing endeavors rest more in our recent move into a new home and the culminating sigh which followed so many moves in such a short time, affording us, for the first time in I can't even say how long, the space to stop and think about stuff. I didn't protest the old-door-as-desk idea, because a dedicated surface is a dedicated surface, but I groaned to myself because once we do it, it falls off the radar and we start thinking about other things and did I really want to always have a lopsided and tippy old door with no drawers as my serious home office space? Well, no.

Enter Freecycle to the rescue! It wasn't just an eleventh hour fortuitous surprise, but a Three Hundred and Sixty-Fourth Day perfect find. The exact desk I wanted: beige, metal, early 60's-ish, big, with several drawers, a side return, and in stinkin good condition. Free! Three minutes away! It's sitting on my back patio now and in a bit we'll clear a path from the back door to the basement stairs and get it all set up!

May it be just the impetus we need for establishing those paperwork and business household routines again. May I have even more fantastic luck in the your-trash-my-treasure department. May this next year be better than the last.