Thursday, April 16, 2015

Well, then. I'll just stick to refrigeration.

Enjoying the nature.
It is spring break, and as the kids are too young for Daytona Beach and plus I still have regrets about getting talked into going there my freshman year of college, we went to visit Leigh on her farm in Western Maryland for a few days.

We drove for approximately 87 hours, although if you don't have children then it only takes about three.

The Lego movie got us through part of the trip, but then it ended and then they began fighting over the iPad. We played I Spy for a while, although India is a little young for it.

"I spy with my little eye a truck! Right there!"

Then we listened to Taylor Swift, which typically engenders good feelings and cooperation. Jordan is now completely over Frozen, and doesn't even remember that he used to sing along.

"NOT Frozen! It's so Bow-wing!" (Suddenly everything is so boring. And he's five. He's never done Internet dating. He has no idea how bored he might be.)

And then, then...

"Are we there yet?"


"Now are we there?"

"Getting closer."

"Are we there, Mama?"

(Clenched teeth, trying not to stab myself in the ears with the nearest sharp object.) "So close!"

Yes. And I'm the person who, until Nick pointed out the practicalities and also sheer insanity, thought it might be fun to drive my mom and kids to Texas. Texas!

I think I'm a smart person and yet I come up with some less than stellar ideas.

So anyway, finally, we were there! There was more grass than my daughter had ever seen in one place! And BIG ROCKS! And a pond! Magical!

I called Leigh to tell her we'd arrived, and said I had a bunch of things I needed to get into the fridge.

(On a side bar, you cannot buy wine or beer in a grocery store in Maryland. You have to go to a liquor store. Who knew?)

She gave me the door code and said, "Sounds great. But you don't have anything to freeze, do you?"

I said I didn't think so, that we only had stuff for the fridge.

"Good. Don't open the freezer."


"My cat's in there."


"See you shortly!"

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Turns out

In high school, my dear friend Kristin used to say, "Life would be so much better if people just did what I wanted."

I would always agree; it totally would. Wouldn't it?

Which brings me to Marriage. Specifically, ours, now. Because high school was back when I believed that you got married and then you lived in a state of happiness. The end.

We currently have plans to do something I want to do. Something we agreed on last summer after a stint in the marital Fire Swamp.

Marriage, or anyway ours, is never even. You don't have the same amount of anything--love, happiness, chore doing, child rearing--ever. Sometimes it is 80-20, sometimes 52-48, sometimes 17-83. It sloshes back and forth and I believe that things generally come out even, even if they never are on a daily or weekly or monthly basis.

(And here let me tell you that I had to do math for that. Because I am the person who once asked for a 60-30 beverage mix.)

Sometimes we do what Nick wants, sometimes what I want, sometimes what neither of us wants, but we know that the kids will be delighted. And we agree that delighting our kids is a worthwhile goal. Occasionally but rarely we all want the same thing.

I mean, we want harmony and happiness. (We being Nick and me. The kids want candy all the time.) We want a strong family. Those are common goals. But what we actually want to do when we have time to choose? Those are rarely the same.

So back to the issue at hand.

We are at a decision-making point in the doing of what Lisa wants. And yesterday Nick felt blindsided because I was, seemingly out of the blue, trying to force him to make a quick decision.

But the fact is that none of it was out of the blue for me. I just hadn't involved him up to that point  because I know he's not interested.

He was mad and I was mad. Ragingly so.

And finally he said, "Stop. Yes, I'm doing this for you. And I don't understand why I'm being yelled at. You said this was important to you and I said yes, and now we're doing it. So why are you punishing me for doing what you wanted?"

Fair point.

So I had to look inside and realize that actually, I'm annoyed that it's not what he wants to do. If we get there and he doesn't like it, it's on me. And it is a reminder that one of us will always be doing what we wouldn't choose, no matter how nice it might be.

It is true that I can't make him want what I want. People just don't work that way. He'd love it if I loved sailing, for example. Or wanted to go to Maine every summer.

These are luxuries. They are nice things. A trip to Maine is lovely, truly. But it is not my desire; it is his.

Preferences are all pieces of who we are. And when we reach a point where we can do or have things that most of the time are out of reach, they feel a lot more urgent.

To me, anyway.

And so, yes. He's doing what I want. And he's not complaining. I've done a lot of what he wants. Sometimes it's been terrific. Sometimes not. Sometimes I've complained and sometimes I've not complained. And still I think he knew I was going along with what he wanted.

So maybe he felt the same way I feel now. I don't know.

Marriage is complicated, is I guess what I'm saying once again. You choose your person for a reason, or 54 great reasons, but that doesn't mean they're going to want to do what you want. And when they do, it doesn't necessarily make your life better.

Basically, you don't just live in a state of happiness because you're married.

Who knew in high school?

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Please can we talk Peaky Blinders?

Have you watched Peaky Blinders? No? Then I would like you to do something, and it is this.

I want you to get past the fact that Peaky Blinders is an odd and off-putting name and go watch it.

Because it is fantastic. So incredibly compelling. Much better than House of Cards, truly. And there are only two seasons (so far). And they are short, like eight episodes each.

Damn the BBC and their high-quality short-seasoned programming!

Netflix bought it from the BBC rather than re-making it. So it is English with some hard-to-understand accents. Nick's mom is from Yorkshire so I sometimes ask him to interpret. Sometimes we have to go back. Sometimes he makes his best guess. Sometimes he just shrugs.

Through it all, he refuses to use subtitles. One day I will actually learn how to use the new and many-buttoned remote and then I will do subtitles myself.

OK, so here's the deal.

The Peaky Blinders, silly as their name may be, are a criminal gang. Tommy Shelby is the main character. He and his cohort fought in France in WWI. They've been through terrible things. Tommy is regularly faced with death, he calmly stares it down. And then has a whiskey.

He's like a 1919 British criminal version of Don Draper.

It's set in Birmingham, England, starting in 1919. Same time period as Downton! But a lifetime away in terms of social strata.

And if Sybil had met Tommy Shelby, she'd have loved him. (But who wouldn't? That boldness! Those eyes!) And THAT would've been a big, big problem for Lord Grantham. Much bigger than Branson the chauffeur. But I digress.

There is a lot of violence. I do have to cover my eyes quite a bit.

But it is so deliciously good. Please watch it and then come back so we can talk it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why, yes, that does ring a bell

When my son was little some friends of ours gave us the book Go the F*ck to Sleep.

I thought it was funny and charming, and it's got lovely illustrations. But I didn't fully appreciate the genius of it.

Because Jordan slept.

I would read to him, rock him and sing him a little song or two, and then put him in his crib. He would promptly stick his thumb in his mouth, put his little butt up in the air, and fall asleep. And then he slept.

My daughter, on the other hand. She's a sleep-wrecking lunatic.

She's never wanted to go to bed. And now she's gotten clever. It's not just screaming in protest.


Now after stories, after her older brother is fast asleep, it is, "Mama! I'm hungweeee! I'm hungweee!" So I will get her a drinking yogurt and she'll take a couple sips and be all yeah, thanks, great. That was refreshing and now I'm done.

"Now I need another story."


"I'm hot! I'm hot! I'M HOOOOOT! I need new pajamas!" We change pajamas.

"I need socks! Socks! Not these socks! I want to choose my own! There's only one pink one!"


I talk her into one pink and one other color. We get back into bed.

"I'm scared of the dark!"

"Honey, that's why you have a nightlight."

"But it makes shadows and I'm scared of the shadows!"

Sometimes, I tell you, I am pretty sure I myself am not going to make it.

And then sometimes she will get up at night. After stringing bedtime out until 10:00 pm Friday night, she was up at 2:00 am. She had a cough. Then she needed milk. "MILKEEEEE!" Nick got her milk.

She needed...I don't know. Attention. She was just awake. And awake and awake. She wriggled. She hummed. Drummed her feet on me. Shoved her skull against Nick's. Patted my cheeks.

"You are killing me, India." I said this. "Please go to sleep. I love you but you're killing me."

To let Nick sleep, I took her back to her bed and crawled in with her. It was one thing and another. I think we fell asleep around 5:00 am. 

At some point that afternoon India looked at me and said, "Mama, remember last night? When I was killing you?"

Yes, my darling. Yes, I do.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Life is hard you know (oh whey oh) so strike a pose on a Cadillac

You know that now I'm a grownup and I have a house and children and responsibilities and such.

Which is not to say that I didn't have responsibilities before I met Nick, but your bills do not charge in at the crack of dawn regardless of what time you went to sleep all, "It's a STAY HOME day! What are we going to do?!?"

Nick and I do not go out all that often, and when we do it is usually rather civilized and there is no  mischief. In fact, I typically rely on Nick to be the voice of reason, pulling me back when I start doing things like offering young men relationship advice or getting mouthy with the cops.

Which brings me to Jordan's school's annual fundraiser. It's an auction. They encourage you to get drinks and bid. Drink! Bid!

It was a dress-up even and so we dressed up. Nick wore a suit and I wore a nice black dress and a black patent-leather boot.
Cropped to protect strangers who might have actually been wishing they'd run the other direction.
I complimented a woman on her very striking jump suit. It was cool. She was clearly searching for a return compliment and, after looking me up and down said, "Thanks. I like your...get-up!"

Sadly, I didn't think fast enough to whisper, "Thanks! I got it in prison."

I'd anticipated having a grown-up evening eating cheese with other parents without anyone grabbing our clothing and saying things like, "Scuuu-me! I need a snack!"

What I hadn't anticipated was hanging out with Victoria.

We met on the playground the first week of school and she immediately became one of my heart people. We have only once managed to get together without children; we had a couple quiet drinks and intense conversation.

When you first meet her, she's friendly in an understated way. She seems reserved. But she has a sparkle. She's traveled alone plenty and lived in other countries and some of her stories make you say, "Thank God nothing bad happened to you!"

Which is exactly the case with some of my stories. Which is why I am totally implanting little GPS chips in my children when they are old enough to go out on their own.


I saved her and a mutual friend seats at our table. When you checked in you each got a free drink ticket and then you could purchase others.

I said I assumed Nick had gotten a handful, and would she like another beer? And she said she herself had a handful so she was fine, thank you. Our other friend had gotten one. Victoria said, "I think she's judicious and knows her limits."

To which I raised my glass and responded, "Well, let's stick together then!"

I am not entirely clear on the number of glasses of wine. I do know that several is a good ballparkish estimation.

I know that we got and declined and invitation to a hot tub.

I also know that though she and I considered bidding together on a dresser with a million tiny drawers, at some point we realized that if we won it, 1. Only socks and underwear would fit in the drawers; and 2. We do not live together.

We abandoned the tiny-drawer dresser. (In retrospect, it was more like a card catalog.)

Another thing I am not clear on is what I may have said to some newly-met friends at the end of the event, except that I do know that I overshared cringingly and then strongarmed one of them into becoming my Facebook friend.

Where was Nick? I dunno. But I can tell you where Victoria was. Right there next to me, not reigning me in.

What remains strikingly in focus is the salsa dancing we did after midnight. The salsa dancing that Victoria suggested we do even after Nick said he was calling it an evening.

She is a spectacular dancer. And I'm a sketchy one even when I have two usable feet.

Somehow the mojito didn't even serve to improve things.

I have a little video of me trying to take our picture in a mirror. In the frame is of the bottom of our smiles and the tops of our water bottles.

Loud music is playing, and it's not really in focus, and other people probably think we're ridiculous. We are laughing and laughing.

This sums up the evening.