Monday, September 11, 2006

city kid and September 11

city kid
While I was at the playground with my mother and little sister, I saw a girl playing
After a while, she and her mother left, but as they were leaving, I heard her say: “And the two little rabbits hopped down the sidewalk and lived happily ever after.”
After I heard that, I thought, “Only a city kid would say ‘And the rabbits hopped down the sidewalk.’” (“Metropolitan Diary,” The New York Times, September 11, 2006, A21.)

I don’t read “Metropolitan Diary” in The New York Times often. (Hell, I usually don’t get to read the newspaper – certainly not every day.) The fact that this was a nine-year-old writing didn’t register upon first reading. (I mean, what a sophisticated observation for a nine-year-old to make.)

I was a city kid in the very same city as this kid. At the age of 30, I was at the suburban (almost rural – or recently rural) childhood home of my then boyfriend (now husband). I saw maybe 10 geese hanging out in a field near a lake. I asked him, “Who do those geese belong to?” I did not think this was an odd question – or I would not have asked it. He laughed… and laughed… and laughed. The city kid remains in me even at 30-something. Are there wild geese anywhere in NYC? Maybe somewhere. Of course there were pigeons. And, near my apartment building, peacocks roamed the grounds at St. John the Divine cathedral. But those peacocks belonged to someone. I’m certain there are no wild peacocks in NYC.

Another city kid tidbit: I have never used a lawnmower.

Now that I watch Sesame Street with Iz, the childhood in the city images look familiar yet feel far away. I now recognize them as unusual, or at least not the experience of all children. Iz does not have that experience. Why does that make me sad? I mean, of course two rabbits would hop down a sidewalk!

September 11

On a much more serious note (though related – I was a city kid in the city that was attacked) – I have been crying over September 11 mentions, reports, memories for, oh, at least three days now.

I did not lose anyone in the attacks. I was no longer living in New York (though I was living in Washington, DC and saw the Pentagon spewing smoke).

I have been cursing and yelling at the radio whenever politicians – especially Bush – speechify about September 11. How dare he? How dare he use this as a partisan, fear-mongering… damn. I am so angry that he is manipulating this tragedy to his own ends. How does he get away with it? Makes me even sadder.

The articles about the new towers (the Freedom one and the three others) are interesting – but why has nothing been built? Not that something huge and business-oriented must go up or the “American Way of Life” is compromised. I wonder if there will always be a hole in downtown New York City.

Like a family tragedy – I felt as if I should have been there on September 11, 2001. But I wasn’t. (I had moved to DC two years earlier.) I still feel as if I should be there.

Friday, September 08, 2006

house on Zamia Street, done

My first major painting in years. I love it. It may not be perfect (crooked lines being the major flaw), but that is not the goal, nor my style.

I did the sketches for this one way back in March.

What next?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

being a teenager

I can’t remember being a teenager. (Not because I drank a lot, though I did drink – but two beers could get me drunk. And not because I took drugs, though I did sample pot and LSD. Hey, I remember those things.) Well, I have tons of images, scraps of memories.

I just don’t really remember stories and timelines. Not sure why. I worry that I have blocked it out. I was not terribly unhappy – though I remember being very, very unhappy at times.

I was absolutely boy crazy. I was always “in love” with someone. I dated a fair amount – though “dating” for me meant hanging out and fooling around. (Sex did not happen until I was 17, though I wanted it earlier.) Those phrases, hanging out and fooling around, are perfectly clear to me, though they may seem vague to some. (I imagine my peers would be able to conjure an exact image/meaning for each phrase.) I hate that I was so boy crazy. I wish I could go back and fix that – not because I was distracted from more important things (I probably was), but because I perhaps did not focus on friendships with other girls (I have no close friends remaining from those years – except one with whom I am only in sporadic touch), perhaps because I am a good feminist who thinks, rationally, that boy craziness is just a tad misguided. Anyway…

And tried to get away with doing as little work as I could in high school. (I did a lot of my own writing, though.) When I was no longer was required to take a science class, I didn’t. Same with a language class. (O, how I wish I now knew French.) English and history classes were required throughout. Maybe I took only English and History my senior year. But that can’t be right. Maybe an art class? Can’t say for sure.

Now this is just depressing. I am a smart, capable woman. Really, I am. I earned my bachelor’s degree in the standard four years and had a 3.8 GPA. In my 20s, I earned my master’s degree in medieval history while working full time, was successful in my first teaching job, and ran many road races (including a marathon). In my 30s (so far – only halfway through), I have started a freelance editing business (I still run races, too!).

Monday, August 28, 2006

an hour with my two-year-old

I recently took Iz to the local outdoor pool. That was the pleasant portion of the day. We even managed to leave at 12:30pm without a full-on meltdown tantrum (sometimes I have to carry him out kicking and screaming). Was it the promise of a hot dog for lunch? Unlikely, Iz doesn't care about food (often even when he's hungry -- means he'd have to stand still).

So, we get home to attempt a meal before Iz became too tired to eat. Exhaustion usually sets in around 12:30pm, so I was pushing it. Things felt a bit urgent. I had to pee and I was still in a wet swimsuit. But I didn't pee or change. A hot dog and leftover broccoli were needed. (Iz has rediscovered willingness to eat broccoli.) I also made my lunch (a hummus and spinach sandwich) because I had things to do during Iz's nap.

We ate -- him in dry diaper and clothing, me still wet with a full bladder.

I left the room to put the dishes away, clean up a bit. And I hear a clattering -- lots of little hard things hitting the floor. I didn't worry about it... yet...

Iz had gathered and thrown handfuls of Zi's dogfood pellets all over the floor. I asked him to clean it up (a bit stern, perhaps I snapped, even yelled). He actually shook his head and said, "Uh uh." I am not suggesting he usually listens to me; he usually just ignores me and goes about his business. I had never heard him say, "Uh uh."

I took him to his room (time out in a chair or on a step doesn't work). He got his perfect little-upside-down-U frown and burst into tears.

I left him there screaming, cleaned up the dogfood, finally got to the bathroom, and even changed into dry comfy clothes.

Then, of course, I had to go comfort Iz, lie down with him, and nurse him to sleep (oh, yeah, he still nurses twice a day because I can't figure out how to wean him -- he'd never sleep again).

Sunday, August 20, 2006

passionfruit, my college boyfriend, and greener grass

I find myself wanting to move to Sydney, Australia, and thinking about my college boyfriend (who continued to make appearances in my life until we were in our late 20s). These are not good signs. They are “the grass is greener” signs.

Sure, I know Sydney. My mother lives there. I went to high school there for six months. (This escape to Sydney happened when I was 16, and I was definitely the driver of our move there. Almost as soon as I got there, I wanted to be back in New York City – so even then it was indeed a misguided escape, probably from some deep teenage angst.) I could live in a city! I could eat passionfruit (five for a dollar last time I was there, instead of the $2 each in the States, when you can find them). I wouldn’t have to mail order the best coffee ever (Vittoria) for my espresso maker. Speaking of coffee, I could have flat whites– which are a slightly stronger version of our lattes as far as I can tell – almost anywhere, instead of having to go to yet another Starbucks (though there are now a few Starbucks in Sydney). I even love the supermarkets – and the packaging of foods. I swear it is all smaller there, and less emphatically labeled (a calmer approach seems to prevail in marketing).

But I would be so far away – though Abraham does not run screaming from the idea, but I am sure the rest of our extended families would be upset to see us go so far. Sydney feels familiar yet fresh. And it is a city. I miss city living so much.

The college boyfriend is harder to write about. I could describe him – let’s call him Adam – and many things about him were fabulous. We were together for a long time. We grew up a lot together. Details are easy to remember, but I don't feel like committing them to "paper." I always worry when I start thinking about him, even dreaming about him (just run-of-the-mill dreams – nothing overtly sex-related here… really!). We were a good match – and there used to always be the feeling that we would end up together in the end (that’s a tad redundant, but you get the point)… though that feeling disappeared when I met Abraham, whom I love and did marry four years ago, whom I had a great kid with... But now I am thinking about Adam…

So what do I need to face here in my own life that is making me look at greener grass? What angst do I need to deal with? Living in the suburbs? Being married and having kids? Am I beginning a mid-life crisis? Too many questions. Am I ever just going to be able to relax and be?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

on vacation, or my in-laws drive me crazy

Really. A cliché, I know. But I can’t help it! They are both sweet and generous, but still.

We – Iz, Abraham, and Zi the Dog – are currently on vacation in Downeast Maine… at the in-laws gorgeous, huge house on a bay. The weather is fantastic – anything is compared to the DC area in July and August – and I am actually on real vacation – no work! I have not had a real vacation in a long, long time. Unfortunately, they are here the whole time.

  1. They have the same conversations over and over (their daughter needing to meet “someone”, what to have for dinner the next night while eating dinner, which side of Abraham’s family Iz looks like, how the food or a restaurant is “the best” in one way or another, how they and their neighbors are worried about property taxes – to name a few of the stock conversations).
  2. New conversations confuse them –especially my father in-law, who joins in a conversation with a hesitant, yet know-it-all tone, but is completely off about the actual topic. Any new conversations quickly devolve into the same old conversations.
  3. They do very little but putter (come on, they are in Maine, on vacation – do something for god's sake!) – she cleans and goes to the grocery store, he moves from room to room reading – and talk about potential plans (“Oh, there is a silent auction there,” “Such-and-such movie is playing,” “I want to build model boats,” etc.).
  4. They have no real interests – though maybe I am being a creative/intellectual snob here. Sure, he reads books constantly and others describe him as smart. Yes, she reads the newspaper. But he often reads very trashy thrillers et al (So badly written that Abraham often cannot finish what his dad recommends), and she reads the Style section, especially the wedding announcements in full.
  5. They seem so traditional – he is a doctor (mostly retired now), she was primarily a stay-at-home mom who still caters almost entirely to her husband – for example, she makes him lunch while he sits and reads; he hates writing thank you cards and making plans with others, so she does it all. Maybe part of my annoyance is culture clash – I just don’t get it.

Yes, it is their house (and we could not afford a vacation in a location such as this); yes, I am probably being supremely ungracious – and I feel more so because I often sense they are trying to please me, which makes my annoyance and guilt worse. I used to think I was a good person.

A major bonus (and source of guilt): they will babysit Iz, so Abraham and I can go running, cycling, kayaking… Oh, I am going to hell. Maybe not such a bad level of hell, but hell nonetheless.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

matchmaking circumcision

So I am receiving spam messages that are stock "tips." Maybe one or two a day.

For, oh, a month, I have just been copying the (supposed) names of the senders and the titles of the messages. The names are pretty basic (Tim Shields), though sometimes a bit bizarre (Nappie Greer).

The messages titles can be compelling, from the simple (autocrat) to the poetic (energies solace).

I got the funniest message title by far today: "matchmaking circumcision." The closest runner up is "polar bear well rounded."

Monday, July 10, 2006

first run-in with death (don't worry)

Iz had his first run-in with death today. Not to worry -- I just mean that he saw his first dead animal, a robin at the playground. It was a rather neat scene -- just a robin lying on the ground with some flies on its head.

He and some other toddlers spied it and gathered around. We parents moved in and whisked them away in one way or another ("The bird is not working/not living", "Don't touch it," etc.). One parent moved it to the trash can using some branches like giant chopsticks. No one yelled, no one paniced. It was all a pretty calm, but clear, group parental reaction.

Iz seemed unaffected. Until he was playing nearby the dead bird site and a branch brushed his shoulder. He cried, terrified, and ran to me. Huh? I thought. Then he went back to play. A leaf on the ground brushed his ankle, and he had the same reaction. Does this have to do with the bird? I thought. An 11-year-old said to me, "Do you think he is scared because of the bird?"

He would not let me go after those two incidents. When we got home, he would not get out of his stroller on the grass. He insisted that I carry him to the cement path to the front door. Once inside, he wouldn't let me go for over an hour. He talkd about "bird" a few times, but I did not understand the words surrounding the one clear word (Iz is not a big conversationalist, though he can and does say a lot and have a decent vocabulary). If I tried to put him down, the fear tears started, and he would stand on his toes as if the ground was what he was trying to avoid.

I wonder why he thought to be that scared of the dead bird?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

first day of school

I dropped Iz off for his first day of "school" -- a summer program in town that meets two days a week for four hours each day. One of the days is called"Mothers' Day Out", the other the "Early School Program." The former concentrates on holidays and social stuff, the latter on school-like topics (colors, shapes, numers, letters). But the teachers, kids, and place are the same. The kids arrive, play with toys, do an art project, play outside, eat lunch, and again play with toys or go outside. Perfect for little Iz.

How to explain to a two-year-old kid who has never been to school what school is... Didn't matter. We arrived at the door and he took off without a backward glance. The Seasame Street theme helped (he pounced on a little plastic Elmo action figure).

I hovered a bit before I left. I wasn't worried that the teachers couldn't take care of him. But I did wonder if I should tell them that he doesn't eat a damn thing. I decided not to because it occurred to me that he might eat better around other kids and when those around him had no idea he is a pain about food. We'll see. I'll probably get a starving, exhausted child back at 1pm. Maybe then he'll start figuring the food thing out.

This school thing is odd. Now I have four hours and no work on my desk to get done (when I don't have child care for him, I have tons of work -- am I cursed?). Sure, I could clean some part of the house. Yes, I could clean and organize my office. Maybe tomorrow, when he goes again. Now I think I am going to exercise out back, then paint a bit (I'm still working on the big version of the Zamia Street house). Maybe, maybe, then I'll start in on cleaning my office.

Update: I received an "Iz has messed himself, please come and change him" call an hour after I dropped him off. You see, they don't do diapers, though they don't expect a two-year-old to be toilet trained, just toilet "aware." I sent him in pull ups to at least pretend he is aware. I ran over (okay, drove over), changed him, and left again.

The report at 1pm was that he been great -- not even cranky when he was tired (which the teacher said some of the older kids were -- understandably). He is a rallyer when tired, as long as there are other kids around and toys to play with. But he didn't eat a damn thing.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

where have I been?

It all started when Iz fractured his foot on May 31. He climbed on a little square cafe table on our back deck. As I walked toward him and asked him to get down, he smiled that "of course I'm not going to listen to you -- in fact, I'm going to make the whole situation more risky" and walked to the edge of the table and jumped. Not off the table, but the table tipped, he flattened out on the table top, and the two hit the ground. Not very fast, not very hard, not very far. But it was enough.

The foot breaking happened right when I had a huge, unfamiliar editing job for a new client that I had promised to them by June 5 (I did get an extension until June 9 -- and just managed to get it done). I may sound selfish here -- believe me, I would rather make sure Iz was okay than do the editing job -- but the facts were that I had this huge job and had made a promise to a client.

Iz was a mess for a few days (understandably). The first night, he slept no more than 3 hours combined -- no more than 15 minutes at a time. The rest of the time he was crying -- ranging from hysterical to wimpering. I knew he was exhausted and drove around with him for an hour at 2 a.m. (Interesting out there on the roads at 2 a.m. We live in an area which has a high number of car thefts and I think I saw a car being stolen. But what was I going to do about it? Pull over and ask the three young men -- who were hiding their faces from my view -- what they were doing while my two-year-old screamed. Not likely. They were gone by the time I made a third loop down the road -- as were two cars.)

The type of crying seemed like the pain kind, but it turns out he was totally frustrated with the splint. Took us two days to figure that one out -- if we unwrapped the ace bandage, he fell right asleep.

Anyway... I snapped. I indulged in my own hysterical crying and rants that spiraled into hopelessness. (A complete mental breakdown? Hard to say.) I think I still have not recovered. I am questioning everything:
  • I love taking care of Iz, but should I put him in more extensive child care so I can get work done?
  • I can't imagine myself not working, but could I work much less and not be destitute?
  • Should I bag the whole idea of having a second child?

Maybe I'll recover and stop doubting everything.

Iz is, of course, recovering (I was never worried that he wouldn't). He never had a cast put on because the first split gave him a huge blister -- and you can't put a cast on a blister (festering possibilities). So we can take off his splint, bathe him, stop him from screaming hysterically... And he runs around on the split like nothing is wrong. He calls it his "big foot."

Friday, May 12, 2006

my brother kicks a*ss

I am so proud.

Read his opionion piece on illegal immigration. Eighteen years old and so wise. Or secure enough and separate enough from the status quo that he can express such a clear and honest opionion.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

end of an era

A cliche for a title -- but I am so unexpectedly sad. Last night was my first night away from little Iz (who is just over two years old). He stayed with his grandparents, my in-laws. That was hard enough. (I knew they would take great care of him -- but it was odd and melancholy being away from him so long.) On the plus side, Abraham and I actually got to go running together without a jogging stroller or dog -- all by ourselves at 7 a.m. (because we were wide awake at 6 a.m. even sans toddler).

And, since Iz has now not nursed for two days, I have decided to wean him (seems like the only way -- though he may never nap for me again). And I am crying. No kidding. Tears streaming down my face, a few pathetic sobs. I have just left him in bed with his dad, who will do the getting him to sleep routine (he usually nurses to sleep with me -- yes, at two years old).

I don't want a three-year-old who nurses (I may just be buying in to Western norms, but it seems a little odd to me -- and the kid needs to learn how to put himself to sleep sometime), but I have loved breastfeeding him. It has been easier than I expected; I never had much pain -- some soreness and odd breast changes early on. But easier than many stories I have heard and read.

Since I had no idea how to wean him, this seemed like the only way. But I am so sad.

And tomorrow is my 35th birthday (I am not sad about that at all -- a fine age to be) -- and this is simply not a great present to give myself. But what else can I do?

Monday, April 17, 2006

two years old

Iz is two years old today. When he turned one, another mother asked me if I was having flashbacks to the day he was born. I didn't. Now I am.

I remember the last month of pregnancy:
  • I had to stop running that last month, so I would walk around town with Zi the Dog
  • The weather was typical DC area spring weather, up and down temperature-wise -- unpredictable

I remember labor and giving birth:
  • Going to The Maternity Center three times and not being dilated even a little bit (I was in prodromal labor -- which wasn's so painful as the real thing, but what did I know?)
  • Taking the sleeping pill the midwife gave me (the famous ambien) and asking Abraham, "How do sleeping pills work? I've never taken one." He reports that I fell right asleep.
  • Waking up at 4 o'clock and wondering if these contractions were real (I was assured I would know, but the prodromal labor had me wary of my decision-making abilities)
  • At 10:30 am, we were back with the midwives. (Oh, the traffic on the Beltway sucked! Some major construction was going on.)
  • By 1:00 pm, we were in the hospital because there was meconium in my water and my blood pressure had shot up, then the baby monitor thingy told us his heartrate was dropping at the peak of my contractions (everything was fine in the end and the midwife delivered little Iz -- though there was some craziness and the looming possibility of a c-section -- the doctor even came in dressed in his scrubs!)
  • Screaming and yelling and cursing (all me) -- all the while I wondered why no one had closed the door (the curtain was pulled across the doorway, but I could see the feet of passersby and wondered how many people could hear me)
  • Iz was born at 3:59 on that Saturday. The midwife guessed he was six and a half pounds, but he was a tiny 5 lbs 4 oz. (Still tiny at two years, 22 lbs)
  • Iz put on my belly -- his mouth and huge eyes open

I remember the first months of Iz's life:
  • Holding him just to hold him -- how he fit on my forearm
  • Trying to figure out the br*east pump when one br*east was twice the size of the other
  • Being desperate for non-maternity clothes but fitting into nothing
  • Iz's first smile at three weeks old (on my birthday, no less)
  • The minor bout of inconsolable crying fits -- Iz's, not mine (he'd cry for a few hours straight two or three times a week)

Maybe I am thinking about this because we are about to "pull the goalie" (almost literally -- an IUD) to go for a second child. Or Maybe I am flashing back because Iz is two today.

asking for help

I have come to the conclusion that I am not good at asking for help, relying on others, getting support. Who knew? As a result, I can become crazed at a moment’s notice if something goes wrong, not according to plan. (I do know that all of us with kids have to be especially flexible – and I am talking about rather flexible plans – though maybe I am not as flexible as I think).

Somewhere along the line (before Iz, I think), I learned to be “independent.” (I put the word in quotes because it seems like a positive way to describe oneself, and I don’t mean to present it that way.)

I live in a cute town in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and I have some friends – but I don’t call on them when I become crazed. I call Abraham – which is leading to some marital strife here and there.

It took a couple, good family friends – almost family –coming all the way from Sydney, Australia, to make me realize my problems with asking for help.

When Iz would not take his afternoon nap (and I had a date with a spinning bike and a bunch of last-minute editing jobs), they immediately offered (insisted, even) to take Iz to the grocery store with them (and they were going to make dinner!).

I don’t think I had displayed overly crazed behavior – raised, panicky voice, cursing, fatalistic ramblings – when I came downstairs with a clearly awake child. But I did spend far too much time with him last week. (Weekly babysitting fell through because the sitter’s kids were sick; Iz wouldn’t sleep, so I had to sleep with him last night; The list could go on.)

And I felt guilty, as if I had pawned my child off on houseguests. But they offered, they really wanted to help (and told me how lovely Iz is, how easy). I should not have felt guilty.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

some kids have swing sets…

Mine has mulch and a pit of gravel and sand (which is to become the foundation of a brick patio – an eight-month-old intention). But he seems happy. Especially so when he can pile mulch on his head.

Friday, March 31, 2006

cherry blossoms, here again

So the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler is two days away. I have trained myself silly with speedwork and long runs (peaking with a 13 miler two weeks ago). I ran that 8K three weeks ago to get a sense of my speed ability -- and was on track to run sub 1:20 for the 10 miler.

Now I have been sick all week -- as has Iz. (Abraham seems to have skipped the whole snotty nose, low-grade fever, coughing fit thing. No fair! He has no race to run!) I wasn't deathly ill or anything, and I am getting better and was hare-brained enough to wake up at 5:30 am to get a little 4 mile run in ("a little" 4 miles because I am supposed to be tapering, after all).

But there is no way I will be at peak strength on Sunday morning. And I am really disappointed. Maybe I am being silly -- I can run it just fine at a slower pace. Barring something extreme, I have no fears about not finishing. But I actually took my training seriously. I had aspirations! Sure, I'm no world-class runner. At my best, I am a front-of-the-middle of-the-pack runner. So why should I care? Ah, because I do.

Okay, the goal now is to enjoy the race, right? Just kick back... I can talk myself into this... maybe... After all, it's not a marathon (which is much more involved and daunting).

Actually, I ran fast last year, but I was uncomfortable much of the time -- I wanted to do the same speed, but have fun doing it...

Monday, March 13, 2006

St. Patrick’s Day 10K (8K), March 12, 2006

What issue (or issues) does Washington, DC, have with races?

Sure, the Marine Corps Marathon remains untouched, but it seems like almost every other race has been modified, eliminated, or moved to Haines Point (and who wants to run every 10K on Haines Point?). Some have been affected by security concerns, others by complaints about road closures, and yet others by sponsor issues.

I have run the St. Patrick’s Day 10K almost every year since I moved from New York City to Washington, DC. (I didn’t run it in 2004 when I was eight months pregnant with Iz.) This year, just a week and a half before race day, the race organizers were forced to change it to an 8K. I don’t know the full reasons, and these race organizers are fantastic (The Capital Running Company). But they said that they couldn’t get permission for the course – a course that has gotten permission for 18 years in one form or another.

I had a great race – my fastest time in years (37:16 – imagine what I could have done with a 10K…) – and at least the race actually took place, unlike the Jingle Bell 10K, which was eliminated (and it followed the same course as the St. Pat’s, hmm…).

But the troubles and changes got me thinking about other races that have been messed with:
  • The Georgetown Classic 10K course, which started on M Street and went up into the residential neighborhoods, had tough hills but was interesting, different. Then Georgetown residents complained about road closures (I can’t help but think the wealth of those rusty wheels made them more effective), and the course was changed in 2001 to go into downtown DC, which was fine. As of 2003, the race has disappeared.
  • The Sallie Mae 10K, which used to make a nice, flat loop around downtown, now goes out and back along Haines Point. Sure, it is fast, but so boring.
  • The half-marathon that used to be held downtown in September is gone, too. (I never even got to run it!) I don’t remember its name or the reasons for its disappearance.
  • The Washington DC Marathon was held one year and cancelled the next. But this was the fault of the organizers, who were a for-profit entertainment company and s*ucked – they didn't care about the runners.

So, are DC races cursed?

At least the Capitol Hill Classic 10K still covers a fantastic course that actually goes down and up Capitol Hill.

I hope the Army 10 Miler (which was affected in 2005, but I hope that was not an omen) and the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler (which I’m running in three weeks) stay the same – those courses kick a*ss.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

angst and what happened to February?

I guess it is a short month. So March... March!?!

I am feeling so angsty. Why? I don't really know. But my stress seems unusually high (and I am a pretty anxious person -- so I function on a daily basis with eleveated stress).

Things I have been thinking about (again and again-- taking turns in the front of my mind):
  • Doing creative things: even writing this blog seems creative, an outlet, and I have not done so for over a month; I have a painting I want to do (imagine that, a painting, me!), but I have only begun sketching it out in pencil and rough paint strokes. It will be of a very cool house in Sydney (see photo at right).
  • Whether or not to have another child: My friends who have many children seem crazed, and I have been put off of the idea of more than one. But I just realized that those who have two kids seem sane enough for my tastes. Those with three or more exist on another, rather unappealing, plane.
  • My list of "relatively unimportant things to do" (these have been on the list for months, at least, and are only a sample of all that is on the list): Alphebetize CDs; move clothes that are too small for Iz to the "to be saved" bin or to the donation box; clean my office (which I now have fled to work at the dining table instead -- the baby gate blocking the office door seems to make it seem even more overflowing with crap than maybe it really is).

(Perhaps cleaning my office should be on a more important list, but finishing my work, caring for Iz, eating, and exercising push it to the bottom, or to the top of the unimportant list. I think I would feel better if it were clean...)

I remain angsty. And I have almost no patience for the husband, child, or dog at this point. (Iz probably gets the most leeway in the midst of my angst.) I have to fix this, but I don't really know what the problem is. (Maybe I should do something creative, decide to have a second child, and clean my d*amn office.)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

look alikes

This is my husband. Well, not really. This is John Krasinski, the actor, in his role as Jim Halpert in American version of The Office. But Abraham does look so much like this -- even the manner is the same (and the hairstyle is similarly amusing, though Abraham has a moustache and goatee thing going on). I think the actor in character is darn cute, too, and that must be a good sign of how I feel about my dear husband.

I was out of milk on Saturday morning -- my 1% milk, not Iz's whole milk. Abraham suggested I use the whole for my coffee and oatmeal... Does he realize how much calories and fat are in that stuff? Iz's body and brain require it. Mine do not. (My brain is no longer developing... unfortunately.) So I drove to the local Giant to grab some. (I prefer Safeway, but the closest is at least a 10-minute drive away. Actually, I prefer Whole Foods, but I suppose they are too upscale for PG County.) The check-out woman did a double take on my face and said I looked like some famous woman, but she couldn't remember that celebrity's name. I have not had anyone tell me I look like anyone famous for a long time. And why do I care? Yet I wanted to know.

The exception to this dearth of celebrity references is my mother, who (again and again) insists I look like Kate Beckinsale. That's fabulous, but so not true. (Am I just hung up on the fact that she is about 20-30 pounds lighter than me? She is skinny as skinny can be -- and I am pretty fit and lean, but nowhere near her size.) And Mom insists Abraham looks like John Cusak. She once sent us a magazine ad for Serendipity, a mediocre movie which starred the two actors. (I said she insisted!)

On Sunday, an article in The Washington Post reported on a website that allows you, through some face scanning technology, to find out which celebrity you (or anyone you have a good head shot of ) look like: I have uploaded a few photos. (Really, I'm not obsessed.) So far, My face matches no celerity above a 63% likeness. But Cate Blanchett, River Phoenix, and Drew Barrymore keep popping up... At least those are the ones I find somewhat realistic and yet flattering. I would love to look like Halle Berry (and she popped up as a match), but I really don't.

(You may ask why I don't post a photo of us. Perhaps I am trying to preserve some anonymity... Maybe someday.)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

thinking about resolutions and a clean desk (at the end of January)

I read The Washington Post Magazine Year in Review issue. Well, I was reading it a few weeks ago. But even then, I was reading Sunday’s paper on, oh, the following Thursday. It usually takes me all week to read the Sunday papers. (And then it takes me weeks more to write about something that strikes me. The magazine has been sitting on my desk next to my computer since that Thursday, January 5.)

I do not remember the last time I made a New Year’s resolution. New Year’s celebrations have always been anti-climactic. Except the time I ran the Midnight Run in Central Park, but that was seven years ago! What fun: 15-degree temperature, fireworks, champagne at the halfway point in little thimble cups, ice on the Central Park roads....


I was reading The Significant Others column by Jeanne Marie Laskas, “The Journey of a Thousand Miles… begins with a trash bag.” She writes about New Year’s resolutions (fitting, right, for a January 1 column?), trying to pick just one small thing instead of rolling over the last year’s resolutions that never got done. Her thing was to be a neat(er) person. After considering where to get started, she focuses on her desk:
I see there are many items that can be pitched. Here, for instance, is a pair of reading glasses I got at Target with lenses that turned out to be way too strong for me. Looking through these glasses gave me actual motion sickness. Now, someday, my eyes may need correction this strong, so should I save them? Or perhaps should I donate them to charity? One of the two rubber nosepieces is missing, but I suppose there are nosepiece replacements you can buy. Um. What the heck am I supposed to do with these things?”

I look at my desk… Who cares if it is a new year? I should always keep it neat, throw things out. But I don’t. I see s*hit tossed everywhere:
  • A hammer that I used a week ago that should be returned to the toolbox (and I have gone from office to basement enough times to just grab it and take it down with me).
  • A list of dentist names and numbers that I should file (let alone that huge pile of “To Be Filed” crap).
  • The cord for charging my iPod and another one for downloading photos from my camera spilling across the desk top.
  • A licked-clean spoon, probably left here from when I ate breakfast over an editing job a few mornings ago. The dish made it to the kitchen, the spoon was left behind.

I have no reading glasses from Target. But what If I threw out something? Or put something where it belongs? Ah, that would feel good. But whenever I am not working or caring for Iz, I don’t get around to cleaning my office. Well, I do actually clean my office now and again. And then it is so much more pleasant to sit and work here.

But it is so hard to get started. So instead, I wrote this blog entry.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Iz says "Jesus!" Yup. As an exclamation, not a prayer. Hmm. The first time I heard it, I thought I must be mistaken. And I thought it was very funny.

Ours is not a religious household, and a portion of the family is Jewish. I am the only complete non-Jew of the group (if you exclude the dog -- but who knows what faith he would choose). I grew up celebrating Christmas, but not as a Christ-filled day. Church-going was never a family practice. "Jesus" is certainly not said as in a "proper" Christian context.

Still, Iz exclaims "Jesus!" at least once a day. When I told my dear Abraham about the Jesus-saying, within Iz's hearing, Iz said, "Jesus!" Abraham asked, "Is he the second coming?"

So where would Iz hear the name? On Sunday mornings he isn't watching shut-in church services on television.

A few days after Iz's first "Jesus!", I emerged from the basement after putting on a load of laundry, I had an editing job to face, and Zi the Dog was battering the back door to be let back in. My to-do list was getting shorter, but only a little.

I sighed and shook my head, "Jesus!" I paused and recognized what I had said. Oy. I had no idea the significant name was part of my swearing vocabulary. With an unexpected clarity, I realized that, actually, I say it a lot (as an exclamation, not a prayer).

Now I know where Iz got it. Many people have warned me about kids repeating what one says at inopportune moments. But I thought it would be something I immediately recognized as one of my words or phrases. I don't know what the moral is. And I don't want to offend anyone, though I don't believe I am being blasphemous.

I considered trying to excise the name from use, so Iz would move on to something more... more what? Appropriate? Not drawn from someone else's religion? But, what the hell, I don't think I can.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Almost French and remembering (and facing) the past

I recommend Almost French: A New Life in Paris , a memoir by journalist Sarah Turnbull. It is one of the best books I have read in a long time. All the clichés apply: I couldn’t put it down; I lost track of time while reading; etc. Turnbull writes about her first years of living in Paris, where she still lives. You may love Paris or know nothing about it – no matter because her story is simply a good story. She moved to Paris in an uncharacteristically whimsical way, fell in love, built a freelance journalist career, and faced culture clashes (she is Australian). Her writing is so real, clear and uncontrived.

More than recommending the book, I admit it has further inspired me to write my own memoir (if it turns out to be that – it is mostly theoretical). Mine is a very different story, that of my freshman year in high school from 1985 to 1986 in Brooklyn, NY.

But I face some of her same issues, primarily of remembering or facing, really feeling, that past time. In her prologue, Turnbull writes,

“Those early difficult years in France seem a lifetime ago now, as though they were lived by someone else. So much has changed since then, including me, probably. The truth is, when I started to write this book I had trouble taking myself back to that time. I don’t know why it should have been so difficult. Either I’d forgotten or subconsciously didn’t want to remember or, being a journalist, I was paralyzed by the idea of writing in the first person. Probably a combination of all three.” (pp. ix-x)

I feel I could have written those words about much of my past. It is indeed a combination of all three. Turnbull conveys the difficulties so darn well.

My mother saved my journals from that time, and I am sure I kept one during my freshman year. But now I can only find those from the summer following that school year onwards. I’ll either have to do some searching for the actual journal, or begin writing down what little seems clear – and hope more comes back to me.

And, hey, Happy New Year!