Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Travels with toddler

Being somewhere new is exciting. Traveling, however, it is stressful.

It shortens tempers and lengthens waiting times and just all around brings out the worst in people. It makes you ill-tempered and impatient and snappy. Or perhaps this is just me.

When you check in for the plane to Martha's Vineyard they weigh all of your bags and write the weights on tags on them. And then they ask you your weight. So they can organize the plane.

Nick gave a weight that I found improbably low, and I was all, "If you're lying and you fucking crash the plane and we all die just because you like to eat bacon and drink beer but don't want to own up to it, I'm going to fucking kill you."

See above ill tempered impatient snappy reference.

Jordan was actually great on the planes and in the airports. With the exception of the itty bitty 9-passenger plane in which Nick and I were separated and I had to give them ALL my luggage including my entire bag of tricks so they could stick them in the nose and the wing.

Seriously. They stick bags in the wing. It was that small.

Let me tell you, Go Dog Go lasted through one reading. The safety brochure - "Look! Airplanes! And here's how you buckle your seatbelt!" bought me another five minutes. And then the rest of the flight was spent trying to keep him from launching himself at the door with the enticing red handle. The prevention of which caused Very Much Screaming.

The good news was, those propellers were fucking loud. They half muffled his shrieks, so not everyone in the plane hated us.

But otherwise, very sweet and happy. Just so busy. Very very busy with the busy business of busy. He was fine with the leash, for the most part. And in fact, sometimes he just stuck next to us and held the leash in his own hand and chewed pensively on the end of it.

Which of course is so disgusting after it's been trailing on the airport floor and you know has totally been contaminated with plague and trench mouth and such.

His immune system rocks, I'll tell you.

Here's a picture of Jordan in the very friendly bar that had the beer. He's playing with his two favorite condimnents: SATUPAPA!
Which is all well and good and then you just tip extra for the large black and white satupapa pile you leave in the middle of the table.

On the whole, the trip was great, and Jordan handled it all really well. But you know, I've traveled a lot. I've traveled with good friends and complete strangers. I've had some difficulties and even some huge fights.

What I'd never had, till last weekend, was a trip with someone who so cheerfully and without malice worked against me the entire time.

It's broadening, I'm sure.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Quiz: What's relaxing about traveling with a toddler?

Answer: nothing.

However. Having a beer at the Logan airport in a super friendly bar where four strangers join in to speculate on who sang the St. Elmo's Fire song? Kind of great. Particularly since you've known all the lyrics to the past 10 songs - and so have they. And they're nice to your kid.

On to the next flight.

Goldfish are helpful. Pooh Bear is working out.

And? Beer is a nice product.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Packing for New England

So tonight, we pack!

I've got a long list of stuff for Jordan, and lists of in-case meds and sunscreen and sun hats and chargers for this and that. But what I haven't figured out, because it stresses me out, is what to bring for me.

We are going for a wedding - a late-afternoon early evening outdoor wedding, I might add - and what do you wear to look nice when it is going to be cold and you have to walk on the grass?

I do not know.

What I do know is that we are going away for fun for five whole days, something Nick and I have not done since our honeymoon. This alone is very exciting.

I expect Martha's Vineyard will be more relaxing than Turkey, even with the kid. Also, I have no idea why I thought Turkey would be a relaxing honeymoon spot. It was a compromise and I'm still kind of bummed we didn't go to Thailand. I told you it was going to be the last time we went anywhere big.

At this point I would say odds of us getting killed by terrorists are higher than those of us going anywhere particularly interesting ever again.

You know, I've never made a whole lot of money, and my income level increased greatly when I married Nick, but my disposable income went all to hell. However, it must be mentioned that I gained security and a family and a gigantor house that will one day be a shining jewel. I value all of these highly.

But I used to go to Paris and London for long weekends to visit friends or my boyfriend, who traveled a lot. I really did. I used to go on road trips and out for cocktails and meals all the time. I used to DO stuff outside of town and outside the house.

Granted, I was all kinds of wrapped up in the notion that I would die alone. Which, you know, sucked and detracted.

But looking back, I actually had a really good life, a fact I couldn't quite appreciate at the time.

I know this sounds like I'd trade it right now, which I wouldn't, not for anything. I believe that Nick is my person, and on top of that we're doing really well and not fighting despite ongoing stresses like construction and Jordan is just delicious. Exhausting but delicious.

But you know, first thing this morning my acupuncturist was talking about The Paris Wife - the story of Ernest Hemingway's first wife, who left her American spinsterhood (at the ripe old age of 28) and ran off to Paris with him. Hemingway was so full of passion and energy and adventure...and sometimes when I think about things like that I get all tailspinny and what the fuck am I actually doing with my life?

And then I'm all, stop being an asshole, you have a very nice life and you love and are loved and have a wonderful place to live and you haven't been hit by a tornado and Paris in the 20s isn't coming back and plus, how much of a chore would life with Hemingway have been? Just shut up.

Shutting up now. Back to the packing list.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

While a picture of them on would be more illustrative, I trust you'll understand

OK, so these are my prosthetic camel toe workout pants.

I don't know if you can see the weird pucker in the crotchal area. They just look a bit lumpy in the picture. But when they're on, I swear they poke down in the middle like two little lips. This has not improved with use or washing.

Nonetheless, I refuse to get rid of them, because they're actually really comfy workout pants. And also, I paid a whole $10 at Gap Outlet.

The minus is that every time I wear them I'm hideously self-conscious because, these pants are not even tight or thin, so I'd really have to have some industrial-strength labia to poke through them. Although maybe in some cultures...

So I thought, maybe it's the double layer of fabric in the middle that makes them pooch out. Maybe if I cut out the inside, then they won't poke down anymore.
Not so much. And now they're even worse inside out.

Which is not how I wear them. How I wear them is with a longish shirt and a "You'd BETTER be looking me in the EYE or maybe the BOOBS" kind of look on my face.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Drop the leash, drop the leash...

Yah, so, I'm pretty sure nobody really wants to be the person with their kid on a leash.

I don't know how you feel about them, but me, I was always horrified when I'd see a child on a leash. "A leash?" I'd think. "It's not a dog; it's your child."

Uh-huh. It's your child, and he takes off like a firecracker and can you imagine losing your child? Or having him sprint into the street, into oncoming traffic? Flailing his arms and giggling maniacally?

What if he ditches you at the airport on your upcoming trip? He hates to hold hands when he's obligated to, and man, the kid is FAST.

A friend of mine said she lost her son at Dulles once. The airport police located him within 5 minutes. But 5 minutes? God knows who could snatch your kid and take off in those minutes.

I felt that drastic measures where called for. I ordered the leash.

Jordan loves Winnie the Pooh, but doesn't have one, so I ordered a Pooh bear (or Pohbuh, as he is known in our house) harness.

It's kind of adorable, really. If I were a Furry, I think I'd be a Pooh Bear one.

Although is that extra creepy? And have I told you about my friend whose dear friend dated the guy who was into the sex dressed as a furry, and was leading her in that direction, starting with threesomes?

She met him on the Internet.

She broke up with him before the furry sex business, though. Which, on the one hand, I can't blame her. But on the other, oh, the second-hand stories!

ANYWAY.

I pulled it out of the package and Jordan said, "OH! What's that? Pohbuh!"

So he carried Pohbuh around, and closed the little harness straps - so fascinating! just like on his stroller! openit! - and generally acted like they were fast pals.

He still does, in fact. I think it's a "love the sinner, hate the sin" situation. He and Pohbuh are friends, but keep that fucking tail thing far away.

So Nick took him out for the leash debut.

He said, "Look! Pooh Bear can ride on your back!" And he snapped him in. Jordan was all cool with it. Nick connected the leash part to the little loop without Jordan even noticing.

He was all smug. "This is how it's done, Lisa."

They walked up to the store, which is about a block and a half away. It was all going very smoothly, and Jordan was enjoying his freedom, toddling along. As they got to the big road, Jordan turned, saw that Dad was holding a long tail in one hand.

He was all, "Whaaat? The? Fuck?" (Incidentally, he didn't actually say that. He just looked it.)

And then, upon further inspection, he realized it was connected to him. EN. Raged.

"TAKE IT OAF! TAKEIT OOOAF!"

Calamity! Much fit-having was had. Drama trauma and so forth.

How it's done Lisa my ass.

Anyway, now, on Thursday, we will be taking our airport trip. The first plane trip with the boy since he was two months old and an easy little eating sleeping lump on the plane.

We're heading up to Martha's Vineyard. I'm kind of nervous, and not just about the little plane from Boston to the Vineyard. Which, apparently, is small enough that you feel all the turbulence. I was told this by a friend assuring me that it was too low for Jordan's ears to pop.

I know it's not that long a trip, but you know, hours can be short, and hours can be long, depending on how they are spent.

And I anticipate many of them being spent trying to not lose the kid in the airports, trying to entertain the kid on the plane and keep people from hating us, trying to keep the kid from losing his shit because his naptime will be spent at Logan.

You know, I was about to say that maybe I should just rent a Pooh Bear costume and keep us all entertained, but when I think things like that I start to wonder if something really is wrong with me.

And I probably shouldn't say them out loud. But wouldn't it be worse to hold them in? Then they'd feel like secrets.

And who wants to have a Pooh Bear costume secret? Weird.

I guess what I'm saying is, if you could wish us luck all around, it would be much appreciated.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

And it's finger popping twenty-four hour shopping in Rapture

Now I feel an intense need to listen to Blondie. In fact, maybe I'll buy Parallel Lines, which was my absolute favorite album in fifth grade.

Who doesn't need a good dose of Blondie every once in a while?

I've been reading articles about people who really believe in the Rapture, and they quite their jobs, stopped saving for college for their kids, etc. Some of their kids are less than delighted by their parents' behavior. Because they do not believe.

One girl's mother told her that she'd be left behind. Not in a threatening way, just very matter-of-factly. Like, sometimes there are sacrifices you have to make, and this could mean you get sucked up to heaven while your kids are left behind to deal with the turmoil and impending world doom.

Yes, I'm judging.

But it is interesting to think about the way you'd live if you really believed the world were ending in a year, a month, a week.

If I stop to think about it, which I often don't, because it makes me feel not so great, I feel like I'm not fully living. There are risks I should've taken that I didn't. Risks I don't take now. Job-wise, I've made choices that make me less fulfilled but that make us more comfortable as a family. Safe. Very safe.

But would I ditch it in a heartbeat if I knew my time were finite - and I knew exactly how finite?

Hell, yes. (Or, heaven, yes?)

Assuming you're all still with me, I hope you're enjoying your Saturday. It's a fucking spectacular one in DC.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sometimes I fail at sexytime

Throes of passion, kissing and such...

Nick: What would you like to do that we've never done before?

Lisa, without hesitation: Go to Thailand.

Happy weekend, all!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Month 21: Take it OAF!

Dear Jordan,

You say this approximately 57 million times per day. What you mean, vehemently, is "Take it off!" But it comes out as "Take it OAF!"

This applies to shirts, pants, socks. You're generally OK with your socks and your fake crocs. You usually calm down after the initial trying to get your just-put-on-clothes off.

And I envision it as a derisive command. "Take it, OAF!"

Hats enrage you, however. On you, on me, on Nana, whoever. "Mama, take it OAF hat!"

What I'm constantly floored by is your language development. I wish I'd payed more attention in grad school, because I remember thinking The Language Instinct was very interesting. But Chomsky kind of bogged me down.

But it's pretty amazing to see you use grammar correctly. Like, possessives. You say "Mama's shoes" rather than "Mama shoes" - you get it. And adjectives - you put them before the noun, even if it's a combination you haven't heard before. Your sentences get more complex from week to week.

I just find it so interesting that all of this falls into place, and you build, hour by hour. Seriously. You take a nap and wake up saying new things.

You're very much in observe and report mode. One of your favorite things to report on is the state of the neighbors. You like to peer out the window and say things like, "Greg not outside." and "Bruno eating flowers."

Poor old Bruno, who you caught eating flowers once (although he apparently does it on a regular basis) is like Hector Big Wood - he's going to be a flower eater for the rest of his doggie life.

While so many of these things are completely charming, you've gotten a little challenging as of late, which is the opposite of charming. I try to remind myself that you're figuring out your personality and your boundaries and trying to see what the limits are for everything.

But it is exhausting, and I don't always have the patience I need. I'm sorry about that. I do try, you know.

You and Nana have great times together, and go on all kinds of outings. It turns out that you are both milkshake fiends, and you now suggest heading over to the Diner for a milkshake on quite a regular basis. "Milkshake?" you'll say, very casually.

One night I was putting dinner in front of you and you said, "The Diner?" Sorry, pal, but it's a broccoli and pasta night for you.

You still miss your little friend David and you talk about him and going to his house regularly, hopefully, wistfully. I once said, "David's all gone" - which then made it sound like he's dead, which of course he's not. So now I say, "October! We'll see David in October!"

I know this means nothing to you, but it is true.

We still love you like crazy, and you're the best thing in our world, even if sometimes we gnash our teeth and pull at our hair and talk about selling you on the street corner.

OK, we don't really talk about it. I just think it sometimes. But not very often. And your dad is going to be horrified when he reads this. In other words: you're totally safe. And stuck with us for life.

Love you love you love you,

Mama

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The state of the hole and Hector big wood

I thought I'd give you an update on the elevator. It's still going to be another six to eight weeks till it's in, they say.

Since it's a plastic tube and you choose from three set sizes, I assumed they could just call up the elevator store and be all, "Yeah, so we need three 12-foot long 37-inch tubes."

And then the elevator people would to go the 12-foot racks and take three off and stick them in a truck and there we'd go.

Australian Builder laughed very hard at the assumption. (Thankfully he was not around for the alarm conversation.)

Turns out you order them and it takes six weeks to make and a week to install. There's no sticking a tube between a floor and a ceiling, installing some buttons, and pressing Go!

So you may recognize this as the site of the former cat-pee hole. For which I now have an unopened and un-sent-back-to-Amazon bottle of Nature's Miracle for cat stuff.

I'm holding onto it until we've ripped all the necessary holes in all the relevant walls. And then, assuming we find no more cat pee to neutralize, I'm going to give it to someone with a cat pee problem (or rather, a cat-pee problem) - because if your cat has a pee-problem, I suggest the vet and possibly antibiotics, stat.

So before they cut the hole - which they did on every floor, perfect circles, all the way up (and covered with plywood so nobody falls through) - they built these walls to shore up the floor above while they were putting extra beams in. Nick assured me that even if they weren't properly supported, the floor would just slowly bow rather than falling directly on our heads.

But really, why not avoid that kind of thing if you can?

Also, it just occurs to me, are they walls if they have no sides? They're wall structures. I call them walls. Although I suppose they look more like prison?

I mean, if prison were plywood. Which would be so stupid because even if you didn't have a saw you could probably slowly gnaw your way out, you know?

Anyway, I quite like how the supporting wall/quarter-prison perfectly matches our child-proof gates. Don't you?
So, one of the construction guys is named Hector, and I believe he's the one who carried in the boards. I say this because when I got home one night Jordan pointed and announced, "Hector big wood!"

Every time we pass by the wall, he says, very matter-of-factly, "Hector big wood."

He likes to know you've heard him, so if you don't repeat it back or at least reply in the affirmative, then he keeps saying it. Overandoverandover until you make it clear that you heard him and you're in agreement.

These are how our conversations go.

Jordan, pointing: "Hector big wood."

"Yes, you're right. They're building a wall."

"Hector big wood."

"Yes. Hector big wood."

We say this like 50 times a day. I don't even know Hector's last name. But I'm pretty sure that he's always going to be Hector Bigwood to me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Johnny rosin up your bow and play your fiddle hard


If you had walked up to me last weekend, and you’d pointed at my son and said, “Would you like me to take him off your hands?”

Assuming I’d been able to hear you over the indignant shrieks of the screaming little buttercup of my heart, light of my life, I’d have said, “YES! HERE! Oh, and here’s some cash! Buy yourself some ear plugs and liquor! Good luck! BYE!”

Because overnight, from Friday to Saturday, he’d transformed into a relatively sweet, charming little boy into a malevolent creature that shrieked, screamed, threw things, and generally made you want to run the other direction.

I don’t mean he spent every minute behaving that way. Just every minute that he wasn’t getting exactly what he wanted the instant he wanted it.

So, for example, when he wanted to read a book, but it was actually time to have breakfast, “Read book” transformed into “REEEEEEEEEEEEEEED BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOK!” Screamed at such a high pitch that I’m quite sure you could precision cut glass with it. It was this way with everything. Screaming. Crying. Kicking.

You might think I’d staged this picture, but no. This is my child drinking a blueberry smoothie. Or buebelly fooey, as he likes to call them.I’m pretty sure this is right before he poured the rest of it on his tray. My clue that he’d done so while I was turned to the sink was his exclamation of, “You dumped it!”

You Dumped It! is one of our favorite games. It’s up there with NO Brush Teeth!

Which is more like "NO! BRUSH! TEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETH!" and then a fling of the toothbrush behind the radiator.

That one made me so angry this weekend that I sat him on the bathroom floor and hissed, "You! SIT!"

It scared him. He sad.

Now, there were very sweet moments that then instantly made you forget the horror film that was your morning. And then minutes later, this tender little morsel of delight would turn into a fire-breathing dewdrop of evil.

He'd be so dreadful, and there were five million a couple times where I just had to walk out of the room. At which point he’d start crying and running towards me with outstretched arms. “Mama! Mama!”

As if I his world would crumble without me in it. So of course I walked back in, and picked him up. Knowing that it was just a matter of time before Beelzebub would appear.

Or I would piss him off and he’d reach out and say, “Daddyyyy! Buh bye Mama.”

Summarily dismissed. Thank God.

It’s hard, you know, because with anyone else, you could just say, “You’re being an asshole. I’m going out.”

But when it’s your child, you can’t really go out without your asshole. Unless you take turns at asshole duty, which we did a bit of. But mostly we opted for family time. Strength in numbers and all.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Too pretty for suicide

The truth is, I don’t know which day my dad died.

I know you're not going to know what to say, and that's OK. You don't need to say anything. But I need to write this.

It might have been yesterday, two years ago. Or it might be today, two years ago.

They were both warm, sunny May days, full of lush, green grass and vivid flowers. I remember that. And I remember thinking, a beautiful day is not a day to kill yourself.

These days are too pretty for suicide.

It took a long time for the coroner to determine cause of death. I won’t go into details, but there were two to choose from, and apparently for insurance purposes – Nick says to rule out the possibility of involvement by a beneficiary – it matters. It was hard to imagine how it could fucking matter, at that point, but it did.

I wanted to call them up and say, “Just fucking pick one! Just pick! And give us the final death certificate and let us move forward!”

But it dragged. And when the documents finally arrived – multiple copies, because you just can’t believe how many places need a copy – I couldn’t look at it. I still haven’t. I don’t want to know.

Because he left very quietly Friday morning, the morning of the 15th. My mother called me about noon that day, and said, “Dad is gone.” And we knew.

I left work in a panic, but I knew. We were frantic, terrified, you name it, all day. All night. All the next day. Until late afternoon, when we’d exhausted all ideas, and Nick suggested we call the morgue.

We called them about 45 minutes before their representatives came knocking on the door. Nick and I were out driving around in DC, and we got back to my parents’ house shortly before they arrived.

So we bore the news. They just added some details. They were very nice. I seem to recall everyone being nice.

But I don’t want to know, either way. I don’t want to know that it was Saturday, because then I wonder and wonder what he was doing, and if he was reconsidering, and why didn’t he come back home, and do you know how many times I called his goddamn cell phone that was turned off and do you know how unfair all of it is?

But I don’t want to wish it was Friday, because that’s one less day. You would never take a day away from someone, particularly a last day.

And so I don’t know. Is that easier? I don't know. It's what I can manage.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Because who wants to be like that tree falling in the forest not making a sound?

So on Thursday I put up this post about reading and alone time and such.

It resonated with a number of you. Which always makes me happy.

I'd had a busybusy day, and so I read the comments in my inbox, but didn't have time to get on comment back. And then, then later, when I went to respond, I couldn't log in. And then my post wasn't there at all.

And now it's back, but with none of the old comments.

I've now been using my blog as a journal for four and a half years. It's my holding place for memories of huge and small events - both good and bad. I refer back to it when I'm writing other things. I need it.

And beyond that, I need the comments. I love reading them, love having them in response to things I've written. I go back and read them as I am going through old posts, and they make me laugh and think and wonder and I just love them.

People always say be careful of what you post on the Internet, as it pretty much lives on forever. And I suppose this is true. But it can also disappear on you immediately.

Server outage in Siberia. Poof! Content unavailable!

Now, my blog isn't important in the scheme of the world. It doesn't save lives, promote world peace, or feed the hungry. But it's important to me.

Which makes me wonder if it's time to move to Wordpress. Which, I suppose, would also mean it would be time to enlist the help of a professional. Which is all kind of daunting.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Gin a body meet a body Comin thro the rye

What makes a person?

Yesterday I was talking with a couple of my colleagues about the cojoined twins in China. They cannot be separated, because they share one and a half hearts, and have only one set of all other organs. They're in critical condition.

And I was thinking, "Separating them? They're not two people. It's one person with two heads."

But one of my colleagues said, "No, it's two people. There are two heads and two brains."

They're twins. Twins that just didn't separate correctly.

And this is horrible, truly horrible, but part of me thinks, well, why wouldn't you just cut off one of the heads, so that the one could have a chance at a normal life? I didn't say this out loud at the office, because of course I don't want them to know what a terrible person I am. (The Internet, however, is a whole nother story.)

Of course, the argument against this is that you'd be killing a person. But it's a person who would be a disembodied head if you separated them. Which makes...a head.

But even if you were allowed to do that - and I don't know that you are, because would it be murder? - you'd have to make a Sophie's choice kind of decision. Which would be brutal.

Which makes this another one of those situations that makes me wonder if there is something very wrong with me.

I know there are stories of cojoined twins having happy lives, playing sports, dating, marrying, having children. I just cannot imagine. Life is hard with the regular amount of everything.

The couple had no idea until three days before the birth that their baby had two heads. Or rather, that they had twins with one body. So it wasn't like they knew ahead of time and made a choice. They didn't know the sex, because according to the article, in China you're not allowed to know, so that you don't have a sex-selective abortion.

This is not something I could handle. But this is also something I know I would never have to. I get to look at this from a very safe distance. I'm quite sure the parents aren't thinking, "Why don't we just cut off a head?"

Why do I think these kinds of things? Particularly when the normal human response is, "Oh, how terrible! I hope they survive!"

And really, what makes a person?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I was going to liken reading to a gateway drug but I didn't know how. It's not like you start with novels and end up homeless witth encyclopedias.

I was thinking back to when I was single, and how afraid I was of always being alone. Being alone in the now meant I was going to die alone down the road.

Alone was nice in small sips, but generally feared. Now I long for huge gulps of alone. I guzzle it when I can.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, which is good and bad.

Good, in that curling up in a big chair with a book is one of my favorite things in life. And I had set reading aside for a long, long time. It's so easy to let it drop from the priority list. Because there are so many things to DO, and if you're reading, it doesn't seem like you're doing anything.

You know what I mean?

Bad in that my husband sometimes feels ignored – mainly because I am ignoring him - plus I personally am more interested in reading than preparing or eating dinner. But I can’t exactly read while Jordan is playing because believe me, I have tried. Whatever Mama is holding that diverts her interest from him is to be targeted, and if possible, absconded with.

I thought the Kindle, being grey and without flashing lights, might be subtle enough for me to get a little reading in here and there. Not a chance. He knows where my attention is, even if he’s on the floor next to me playing with blocks.

So, I start the reading after he goes to sleep, and then Nick comes home and I’m still reading and sometimes he wants to chat and I want to read. Sometimes I put down the book and spend some quality time with him. And sometimes I try to engage while still sort of reading, which satisfies nobody. Sometimes he has work to do, and so we are both in the same space, doing our own things, and it works out nicely.

Monday I was in a hell of a mood, and when Nick called on his way home, I didn’t even give him a chance to ask what I thought about dinner. I said, “I’m sitting in the red chair. I’m eating popcorn and reading a book and drinking wine. It is exactly what I want to be doing.”

He had empanadas on the way home. He later commented that I was difficult to interact with that evening. Perhaps because I did not want to be interacted with.

I cannot save the reading until we are going to sleep. I am dead tired when it’s bedtime. And anyway, I could be compulsively gambling or having Internet sex instead so really, in the scheme, this is mild.

Actually, I’m not sure why I’m justifying. I suppose because doing something just for yourself, when there are chores you could be doing (because when are there not chores you should be doing?), seems so very indulgent. And when you don’t see a lot of your spouse during the week, it seems like you should just want to drop everything when he comes in the door.

But how often do you get to be alone? Like, all alone? Do you miss it?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pockets are key. Although I always feel like I should have something intriguing in them. Don't you think?

It is so very rare that I go to work in an outfit that I like, head to toe, and one that I feel good in.

Most work days, I've realized, I wear some version of the same thing. Black, grey, or khaki pants. A T-shirt and cardigan or sweater set. Material varies with the season. Boots or sandals, depending on the season.

Sometimes it's a new sweater. Or shirt. Or pants. But they're practically indistinguishable from the old ones.

Usually I look presentable. And, with the exception of some oatmeal blobs or other Jordan-breakfast detritus, I'm typically clean. So there's that.

I used to expend outfit energy when I went out in the evening. And I went ohttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifut a lot. So I would wear my fun clothes, think about accessorizing, really make an effort to look attractive.

Except, of course, for this one terrible date, where I was clearly trying to look less attractive because I was wearing my glasses, and anyway, why didn't I just go ahead and tell him what else was wrong with me? (Asshole.)

But we rarely go out. We stay home in comfy clothes. And the end result is, I rarely feel like I look remotely attractive.

I look dressed. But only because I'm not naked. I never look like I'm dressed well.Which is why I totally had to document today. Because it is spring! And I feel great in my outfit! I am wearing one of the pretty dresses from my Target spree! And super cute high-heel sandals. I am tall! And nicely dressed! This makes me happy!

OK, yes, I look totally weird when I take my own picture, but I really wanted to show you the cool detail on my new dress. Also, and even better, it has pockets!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Of course you encourage your child to be himself and feel good about it except sometimes you want to yell JUST STOP BEING SO...SO...YOU

There's this bizarro parental amnesia that happens to me every night while I'm asleep and every day while I'm at the office.

I wake up excited to see him. And I go home excited to see him. At the end of the workday, I can't wait to get home and see my boy. I can't wait to see his sweet little face, to kiss his chubby cheeks.

Somehow, in my mind, it's all more sparkles and puppies and rainbows than it actually is in real life. Because toddlers are opinionated and nay-saying and opposite-direction-running. And they will try your last nerve.

But I'll be damned if I don't fall asleep thinking how cute he is and hurry out of work all excited to swoop him up and give him a big kiss.

I met Betty and the boy in the park last night after work.

I arrived and my mom said that they'd lost his new hat. We successfully owned it for approximately four days. He likes to take it off and throw it out of the stroller. Nick had found it in Rock Creek the day before, but yesterday, no luck.

So, I don't know if you've ever tried to do anything systematic like search for a hat along a specific path with a toddler. If you have you know that it's kind of impossible in that you say, "Let's go this way!" And your toddler response by running the opposite direction.

When you run after him and pick him up, he might kick and scream, yelling, "Aaaambulance!"

Because of course, every siren to him is a potential ambulance, and ambulances are to be sought out. And if DC is full of anything, it's sirens.

Plus the shrieking of "Ambulance!" really means "PUT ME THE FUCK DOWN, WOMAN! I'M RUNNING AFTER SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT."

He punctuates it all with the flailing leg kickkickkick!

Our entire walk home was like this. Until we spotted the number code lock thing on the fence of an apartment building.

"Ooooh! What's that?"

"A lock."

"PHONE!"

"That's not a phone, honey. It's a lock."

"PHONE! Hello?" He proceeded to press numbers, repeating hello every few seconds.

This went on for a good 10 minutes. Until it was really really time to go home. At which point he tried to escape into the shrubbery, giggling gleefully.

Finally, kicking and screaming, I carried him home, up the steps, in the door. And left him with Betty, poor woman, while I went back to look for the hat.

As soon as I was out the door, I called Nick.

"Hello?"

I hissed at him through clenched teeth.

"I CANNOT STAND YOUR SON HE IS MAKING ME CRAZY AND I JUST CAN'T STAND HIM RIGHT NOW." (He's always HIS son when he's driving me crazy. Also, when I am very worked up punctuation seems superfluous.)

"I'm sorry, honey."

"I AM VERY TIRED AND HE MAKES ME TIRED AND ALL OF THIS IS MAKING ME EVEN MORE TIRED AND WHERE IS HIS FUCKING HAT?"

"What is he doing?"

"HE'S BEING HIMSELF."

Monday, May 09, 2011

Spending more deliberately

When you need to cut your expenses, what do you do?

Basically, I'm trying to spend less on random shit so I have more to put towards some specific things. And be more mindful and deliberate about how I spend.

We make enough to cover our monthly expenses. But we have some large extra expenses lately, and what I want to do is allocate more of our monthly money rather than our savings towards them.

Because as it is, after putting towards retirement, we spend what we make. This is OK, in that we're both very responsible, and neither of us has ever outspent what we've earned.

But I know it's possible for us to take out of one pocket to put into the other, which is my goal here.

I know that we buy things we don't need, and spend money in unnecessary ways.

There are some things that aren't needs that aren't negotiable, so I'm considering them needs. Like, I can happily eat a peanut butter sandwich for lunch every day - and pretty much do - but Nick would be really unhappy if he did that, and so for him, buying lunch every office day is a need. Even though technically it's not a need.

So.

I was reading about money-saving strategies, and this was one of them: take yourself off email lists from stores. Then you're not confronted daily and weekly with ooh, new shoes! and 20% off today only! kinds of things.

And I, as you know, I am one to click! And feel like I MUST HAVE whatever it is! Because look, free shipping!

I've been unsubscribing from email lists like a fiend. I said buh-bye, Old Navy. Buh-bye, Gap. And Ann Taylor. And Nine West. And Children's Place. And and and and and.

Now that I've started, I realize how many of these emails I get. It's kind of astounding. They're nearly all clothing or shoes, for Jordan or for me. And I can always justify a purchase for Jordan. And shoes. I'm really good at justifying shoes.

Hell, I'm really good at justifying whatever I reallyreally want.

So I am trying to limit what I buy to things we need. Or a must-have kind of thing. Not a "must have because it's 30% off"or "ohh, but it's orange!" No.

I just started this yesterday. And not being math-y or spreadsheet-y, it's not my strength. I've always stayed within my limit, but I've never tried to be particularly deliberate in allocations.

I'm kind of curious to see how this goes.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

So, I always think that my life lacks glamor and intrigue and that I should seek them out.

And then, when given an activity option, like when Nick asked what I might like to do for Mother's Day, I choose IKEA. To get a play mat and shelves for Jordan's room.

I wasn't being self-abnegating. It was genuinely what I wanted to do.

In other words, it's my own damn fault I lead such a prosaic existence.

Nick gets all clenchy when you mention IKEA so he offered to watch the boy while I went. And I will tell you that I strolled around all by myself like I hadn't a care in the world, and I might be shopping at Armani instead of this huge-horrible-take-over-the-world retailer, and it was so very nice.

(I bought some lingonberry jam to feel more European. And who says College Park isn't exotic, anyway?)

Then I rounded a corner and a father was dropping his son onto one of the display beds, and his son was giggling wildly.

And immediately, I needed to go home. To hug the boy who made me a mama.

I hope you've spent the day exactly as you've wanted. Hug your mama if you can, hug your baby, and give yourself a huge hug from me.

Happy Mother's Day!

Lisa

Friday, May 06, 2011

Mother Goose version Nick.0

Nick has been trying to come home early enough once a week to see Jordan before he goes to sleep.

So the other night they were sitting together reading in the big red chair, reading Mother Goose's nursery rhymes. It's one of the few times where Jordan is totally calm and absorbed in a non-running non-banging non-clanging activity.

He sticks his thumb in his mouth and totally concentrates, and it's so sweet.

So I love to sit nearby and watch.

I was sitting in the blue chair, half checking email, half listening to them, silently intoning the familiar words.

"To market to market to buy a fat pig..."

"Jack and Jill went up the hill..."

It's funny how familiar they are, even if you haven't heard them since your childhood. You know every word.

Except when your husband catches you off guard:

"There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. She had so many children that her uterus fell out."

Oh, I laughed.

"Just wanted to see if you were listening."

Thursday, May 05, 2011

In which I am nearly a harpy and instead take a deep breath

Unfortunately, when Nick says something that rubs me the wrong way or feels like an attack – no matter how he means it – my inclination is to get all shrill and sharp and evil.

I speak before I think and I get all verbally stabby and it is very not helpful.

And then, no matter how innocuously he may have meant it, he feels attacked, because he has been, and then he gets angry and unkind and then it escalates.

Sometimes it ends with stomping around, but sometimes one of us can snatch control of the situation and say, wait, stop. I love you. Let’s calm down and talk about this.

Which makes us actually constructive. I am really working to be more CONstructive and less DEstructive.

So last night, when he was looking for the wooden pronged grill scraper thingy, and he asked if I’d seen it, I thought I knew what he was talking about and said it was outside.

But it turned out I was thinking of a different wooden pronged thingy.

At which point Nick, who was frustratedly looking around on the counter, which admittedly has a lot of shit piled on it, said, “It was here when I last used it. And since we never put anything away, it must still be right around here.”

And I, I looked up from emptying the dishwasher – you know, putting the dishes AWAY – and took a deep breath.

Even though it infuriated me. Because yes, this was a dickish thing to say.

And here’s how the harpy in me wanted to respond:

“Really, asshole? Because half the shit on the counter isn’t YOURS? Because I haven’t been PUTTING THINGS AWAY while you’ve been stomping around looking for the stupid fucking wooden pokey thing? Because I don't PUT JORDAN’S CLOTHES AWAY? Because you happened to run out of underwear the other day because SOMEONE ELSE DIDN’T PUT YOUR UNDERWEAR AWAY? And have you ever thought that if you’d get rid of some of the UGLY SHIT THAT I BET YOU DON’T EVEN LIKE BUT YOUR DAD GAVE THEM TO YOU we’d have more room to put OTHER THINGS AWAY?”

But the truth is, we do have piles of stuff around, and much of it is my fault. And Nick is tidier than I am, and the mess probably irritates him more. Also, he has just as much right to hang onto his crap just because his dad gave it to him as I do. Also, maybe he actually does like its.

And I don’t always need to bring family into it. Even though I do think they’re often to blame.

But do I have to assign blame? No, I do not.

So instead of taking the ugly, talons-forward, carrion-shredding approach, I took the breath. And said, “C'mon. That’s not fair. I do put things away. And I may not do a great job, but I do TRY.”

Because you know, Nick will do these grand clean ups. Or he’ll move big stuff, like furniture – things that I am unable to move. And he’ll get all stompy when I say something critical about something completely unrelated because he’s doing so much work.

And he does work. He works really hard at the office, and then he comes home and works.

Whereas I do a lot of small regular things that you don’t really see. Like washing Jordan’s food tray every time we turn around. And cleaning up his toys and books. Which he immediately dumps all over the floor again. And unloading the dishwasher. And loading the dishwasher. And washing clothes.

Yes, I suck at folding them, and they pile up and it’s a disaster. But sweet Christ, I do TRY.

It is not that I do so much, but these things that are easy not to notice, because they’re so quickly undone and need to be repeated. But they’re totally endless and effortful and tedious and suck the fucking life out of you if you dwell on them.

So then when someone says that you never put anything away, it makes you want to snatch the wooden pronged thingy for cleaning the grill out of his hands and beat him about the head and face with it.

But the breath. The helpful breath. And the constructive approach. It puts you on the same team. And it’s incredibly nice to feel like you are on the same team as your partner.

And thus we agreed that our house is a disastrous construction mess, and it is HARD. And that this weekend we’ll try to clean off the counters and put things together for a garage sale. And we will each get rid of some stuff.

And this feels good to both of us.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

What have you learned from being married?

One of the women in my office is organizing a wedding shower for a woman who gets married in a couple weeks. The shower is tomorrow afternoon.

The organizer decided, just for fun, to ask three couples who have been married different lengths of time to answer the question "What have you learned from being married?" She chose Nick and me as a recently-married couple, and asked us to answer the question separately.

She said it could be serious or funny, however we wanted to approach it.

It was more difficult than I anticipated. I approached it a variety of ways, deleted one after another, and ultimately, here's what I said:

What I’ve learned in 2 3/4 years of marriage:
With marriage, the two of you are working towards something bigger than yourselves. And it is work. I don’t know if I thought marriage would be a piece of cake, but I didn’t actually anticipate how much work it would take to build and maintain a healthy, solid relationship. I believe that you get out even more than you put in, though.

It’s rarely even – one of you will carry more of the load for a time, and then the other will, or you carry it in different ways, as you have different strengths. Sometimes you are tired and resentful, and sometimes your partner will make you so angry that you go to bed mentally dividing up the furniture, but you still wake up with the certainty that you will spend the rest of your life with this person, and you are lucky for it.

For those of you who are married, if asked (and I'm asking), what would you say?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

At the risk of opening myself up to huge criticism

I can't rejoice at the death of Osama bin Laden. I can't get behind the celebrations.

And I know this is unusual for me, and I almost never write about current events. It's not that I don't think about them, but so many other people write about them better than I can.

But this feels very emotional to me.

It's not that I'm opposed to capital punishment; I'm not. I do think there are things that people do that are vile enough that putting them to death is acceptable. In fact, if someone did something to my son, I would probably have to be restrained from murder.

Being pro-death penalty is not a popular viewpoint among my friends, but it is mine.

And this isn't a death penalty issue - this is war.

Osama bin Laden was a terrorist. He masterminded the tragic and horrendous deaths of thousands of innocent people. He was a popular figure, and clearly one who could both plan strategically and emotionally incite others to mass murder.

I believe he deserved to die.

It's not his death that bothers me. It's the dancing in the streets. It's the delight at an execution.

Would I have rejoiced almost a decade ago, when 9/11 was fresh and raw and everything was terrifying and it seemed like capturing/killing him was the solution to terrorism? It's hard to see myself dancing at the news of a death, but maybe then? I don't know.

Would I rejoice if I had lost friends in this war? If I were on the ground in the Middle East?

Possibly. I don't know.

It just feels wrong to me. An execution isn't winning a football game. Taking life isn't light. I don't understand the revelry.

Monday, May 02, 2011

How not to go naked at work. Perhaps better suited to somewhere with sand and waves and large coconuts, but you do what you can, you know?

It will likely come as no surprise to you that I do not lead a lounging-around-the-West-Indies type of life.

I know, I know. It pains me as well.

As such, I had never heard of Calypso St. Barths.

I do, however, lead a haul-the-toddler-to-Target-in-hopes-of-finding-bras life. Yes, I do.

And as such, I happened into Target on the debut day of Calypso St. Barths for Target. Lucky! Because the collection is delicious - full of fun summer colors and breezy dresses and tops.

It's even luckier, really, because I was getting to the point where I was considering going to work naked, I hated my clothes so much. Because what did I wear last year? Oh, right, ugly tops that allowed fast access to my boobs for the pumping. And transitional kinds of pants for my transitional size(s).

So I was wheeling the stroller towards the lingerie section - the glamor, it never ends - and I saw this gorgeous raspberry. And a lovely turquoise. I stopped immediately and surrounded myself in piles of pretty colored fabric.

They're kind of vacationy, some pieces more than others, but I have every intention of wearing all of the clothes I bought to work. I got this dress in pink and blue - it's a very nice, shiny cotton, with lovely detailing, and looks better in person than on this model. Because why is she standing like that?

I also got this printed top in a very light silk (also nicer in person), and this top in blue and white - perfect for brutal DC summer. I can wear all of them to work.

You know from my Liberty of London foray that I can go a little overboard when I like something.

I didn't try anything on till I got home.

Any of you who have been shopping with a toddler in tow know how, uh, challenging it is. Those of you who have not, it's kind of like treading water while hanging on to a free-floating boat motor, revved up to full speed and pointed in whatever direction you are not.

So I hung onto the stroller as many pieces as I could get my hands on without losing my child more than once (panic! In the two seconds that I looked away, he was gone! Giggling and sprinting gleefully 20 feet away!). I bribed him with cookies while I grabbed several more fistfuls of clothing.

And home we went, stat.

One important note, now that I've tried them, washed them, and am waiting to wear them - they're sized much better than the last designer collaboration. More like normal human sizes. It's refreshing.

I have to say, shopping is one of the things I miss most about my pre-baby life. I love clothes shopping, whether I buy anything or not. It's not as fun when it comes from the Internet. Also, how do you buy pants on the internet? Or fitted dresses? Impossible!

(And yes, I know, there are children starving in Bangladesh who will never, ever get the chance to shop on the Internet.)

That said, I can't actually go to work naked, at least not in my present job. And if I got a naked kind of job, Nick would divorce me. And if I don't go to work, we can't pay our bills. And then Jordan will be homeless.

In other words, thank goodness for Calypso St. Barths for Target.

See how deftly I set my consumer guilt aside?