Monday, August 30, 2004

This was the secret

Note: I originally wrote this post on 8/17 and am publishing it now because... RW got the job! It means we won't be moving to Vancouver, and Sarah will be going to kindergarten here next year and not there, and I'll have to leave work at 4:30 every day whether or not I'm prepped for the next day's classes, so I can pick her up by 6 when her childcare center closes. RW and I are both ambivalent and a little freaked out. But a job like this comes along hardly ever. And RW earned it. She really did. So, here's what I wrote 2 weeks ago...

I'm only going to post this blog if RW gets the job. The one she was doing temporarily for most of last year, which became open as a permanent job a few weeks ago, which she applied for, which she isn't sure if she'll get even though everyone there loved her because her boss, H., is also our friend and knows her and knows she's not cut out for 40 hours a week on a long-term basis and also knows she wants to move to Vancouver soon. So she can't bullshit H. So H. might not hire her. She's been waiting to find out if she even gets an interview.

I dreamed last night that she had it! She had the job! H. was calling or e-mailing or something, can't remember now, to say she decided not to post it after all, just to give it to RW, because it was silly to even think of hiring someone else. [In real life she couldn't do that even if she wanted to, she has to post it.] There were other problems in the dream, about other things, but I remember being really happy about that. Because in real life RW really wants this job even though she's worried about full-time work making her crazy and even though Sarah would have to be in day care full time and the house would be a mess and we'd both have to make lunches every day and it would be stressful. It's the perfect job for her [aside from the full-time, full-year thing]. And she told H. that if she got it she'd commit to it for 2 years and put off moving. And it would be more money coming in, though not that much more after childcare costs. And better health-care coverage.

And then this morning I was getting Sarah ready for preschool and the phone rang, and it was H, calling to schedule an inteview. It was so weird, because that dream was still bouncing around in my head. But I managed not to tell H. about it. Or RW. So I'm writing this post and saving it as a draft, and I'll publish it as a surprise if she gets the job.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

A contest! A contest!

Hey, Kate is having a story/essay contest in honor of back-to-school. Think you can write 55 words, fiction or nonfiction, on the best day of the summer? How about a book you read? Go on over and give it a try-- you could win a package of #2 pencils!

14 giant starfish, 10 mermaid tails, 87 cheese cubes and 1 cake later...

Sarah on her birthday presents:

Baby Doctor Barbie [a big hit; not from us]: "She's twins with the other Barbie. They're going to Pilates."

On the enclosed picture of Midge the Babies' Mom with Alan the Dad: "Look! She's marrying a gentleman!"

On the magnetic fairies with woodland background: "There's lots of girl fairies and only one boy fairy. He's going to have to marry all of them. This is a long time ago, when one boy could marry lots of girls, and girls couldn't marry each other."

Fairy wings: "Did they take these off real fairies?" And in response to my comment that that would hurt the fairies: "No, I mean after they're dead."

The party was a blast (for the kids, anyway; RW and I are wrecks, but relieved wrecks). The sun shone, we found a good spot at the park, the kids behaved and participated, Sarah was an excellent host, etc. Lots of parents stayed, which is probably just as well. We did have the sturdiest pinata in the history of birthday parties; everyone kept whacking it with the purple bat, lining up for round after round, and the thing wouldn't break. Finally I ripped it apart and threw the goody bags on the ground, and the kids fell merrily upon them.

And RW managed to find, used, what must be the only gender-neutral kid's bike left in the Western world. It's purple and green and has training wheels. She put electrical tape on the tiny rips in the seat and dressed it up with handlebar ribbons and a new bell and basket. Sarah is thrilled to have a real bike, and we are thrilled that it's not this.

So now we have a 4-year-old. Today we get to clean up the kitchen (me), play with the presents (Sarah), continue to fight off what could become a cold (RW) and go to a wedding this afternoon (all of us). Whee!

Coming up Monday: back to work for me, and a surprise announcement from RW which I am not yet at liberty to reveal.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

it don't rain much

When I popped the old Prairie Home Companion tape in the car cassette player this morning, I remembered why I've saved it since May with a "Do Not Tape Over" label: Sahara Smith, 15-year-old folksinging phenom.

The two songs she sang for their "Talent from 12 to 20" show happened to end up back-to-back on the same swath of tape, so I just played them over and over until I got to work. Perfect for a rainy morning.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Reader's Block

What do you do when your passion becomes your job?

I got four new books from the library today. There's another pile of books lying around the house, including two that I'm supposed to be reviewing and one out-of-print one off my shelf that I read years ago and was looking forward to rereading. But I don't feel like reading anything.

This happens a few times a year, often after a reading binge, and usually goes like this: I have a big list of books I want to read, like the Young Readers Choice Award nominees, or a recommended-reading list from a library or online, or just a bunch of books I heard about and put reserves on. Then I read and read and read, steadily, obsessively, happily. Then something happens to break the momentum: I go on vacation, or I go back to work after being on vacation, or relatives come to visit, or sometimes it's just that I come to the end of my list. And I stop reading. Oh, I'll skim magazines and online stuff, short-term text I can read in one sitting, but nothing that requires a commitment, no leap into another mind's fully realized world. Sometimes I slow down, taking a week to finish a book, and then starting the next one and stalling; sometimes I just stop short.

When I stop reading I am panicky and adrift. I blank out in libraries, skim rotely through the new-book shelves, sometimes checking out a stack of books that I hope will resusitate my interest, only to find when I get home that they just overwhelm me. I hyperventilate in bookstores: so many books! So many! how will I ever read them all? Where should I start? What about the ones at home that I haven't read yet? What about the book I'm supposed to review, or the one that kid recommended to me and keeps insisting that I have to read, or that new one that fits into that 5th grade social-studies curriculum that I want to read so I can booktalk it, or the one I've heard is kind of risque that I should read to see if I'm willing to put it in the middle school section and face a possible challenge? Or what about those adult books that I'm behind on? The serious ones I never got to in college? The hip groovy ones everyone's talking about? The one by someone I know, that I want to read partly out of curiosity to see if I recognize any of the characters? I feel like an element I love has turned on me, and I am drowning in it.

When I was a kid, I read wholly for myself. I don't remember ever speaking to a school or public librarian about what I was reading, and rarely to a teacher. I never belonged to a summer reading club, never kept a reading log. I was a purist and a snob: it would have defiled the experience for me to show it off or present it to adults for approval. My older cousin, an editor and writer, occasionally passed on a particularly great book, and I compared notes with bookish friends, but mostly reading was a solitary, almost holy pleasure, pursued for its own sake. I remember being about 7 or 8 and walking up and down the fiction stacks in the children's section of my public library, running one hand along the spines of the books, getting a rush of intense happiness at the feel of their plastic jacket-covers, and at the idea of all those books literally at my fingertips.

I was lucky enough to go to school at a time and place when regular public schools tried ideas that only "progressive" alternative schools practice now. I spent 2nd and 3rd grades in a mixed-grade open classroom where we were encouraged to plan our own time each day. Most days found me in the reading corner, gobbling down one Scholastic paperback after another. As I got older, reading was my escape: from my unhappy parents, my erratic and difficult social life, my increasing feelings of being different and out of place. I was single in college and for most of my 20's, and reading in some ways took the place of a lover. I was broke and often lonely, but basically I was happy: I lived near a library and a good used bookstore, and used both. A lot.

Then I became a librarian, and reading became my job.

You know how, when you were a kid and had a book report, even for a book you chose, you suddently didn't want to read it? There's something about obligation that taints even the most decadent pleasure. And even more than that, there's something about being a school librarian, being the kind of cheerleader for reading that I would have run a mile away from as a child, that gets to me sometimes and makes me just want to hide under the covers with back issues of the New Yorker. It's hard to escape the feeling that I've been hired to convince innocent children that reading is somehow good for them, like exercise and vegetables. In the process I've managed to convince myself, only too well. My reading id, that compulsive gobbler of text, suddenly tastes vitamins and gags: it's spinach after all, and I say the hell with it.

I know this will end, that I'll start reading again, because I love it, it's my joy and my addiction, and even having to do it can't keep me away. Sometime soon, I'll once again feel lucky to have a job that essentially consists of being an evangelist for that passion. Probably, and not coincidentally, that will happen when the kids come back to school and I marvel that not everyone who loves reading feels as private about it as I did: lots of are excited to talk about books with an adult, and hey, maybe I would have been too, if I'd met the right librarian. They pester me for recommendations; they preen as they hand in their summer reading lists, each book carefully numbered, into the 30's or 50's or 90's, dozens more books than I managed to read this lazy summer.

The kids feed my reading jones as I feed theirs. When they tell me about the awesome book they found--have I ever read it, it's so great, it's so great, is there anything else like that one--I remember. I remember that it isn't spinach after all. I remember the way it felt back when I was up past bedtime, crouched by the nightlight, frantically turning pages, and the way it will feel again, soon, when I open one more book: a kids' book or an adult book, a new one or an old one, one that's on my list or one I pull randomly off a shelf, it really doesn't matter. The lists don't matter, the reviews don't matter, the booktalks don't matter. Later, they will, but at that moment, letting myself fall one more time into the story, that's all that matters: what I'm reading right then, and where it will take me.

Stars in my eyes

Via Jessamyn, this handy guide to one of my vices. Now I feel even more virtuous about watching the entire second season of Six Feet Under on DVD, on this very computer.

In other news: cut out 14 giant cloth starfish last night for the birthday party, and edged them in glitter glue. When I'd laid them all out to dry, our living room looked like the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

(Did you know that just anyone can nominate their favorite actor for a star on the Walk of Fame? I'll be putting that on my list of things to do. Right after stuffing the goody bags for the pinata.)

And speaking of fame & fortune (& Six Feet Under), what do J. K. Rowling and Alan Ball have in common? Turns out both were inspired by this woman, one of my heroes too. J. K. even named her daughter after her.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

I admit that I am powerless

I am a lunatic. I have spent hours and hours today drifting from blog to blog to blog, reading and reading and reading. I used to read books! On paper! And talk to friends! On the phone! Now all I do is read blogs, which are kind of a nafarious combination of the two. Only I don't get that sense of accomplishment that I get when I read a book (or the virtuous feeling, especially if it's a kid's or YA book, that actually I am working or at least doing professional reading), and I don't get to connect with actual friends who I have known for years.

I know, I know, I can make new friends on the Internet, and on many of the blogs I have been reading I can see that people have done just that. But I haven't, yet. (Well, there is my new boyfriend, the Zero Boss-- Hi, Jay!) Partly because I'm new at this, and partly because I'm shy and lazy and mostly just lurk on people's blogs rather than introducing myself. I am not a natural networker like my spouse, who gets a huge kick out of hooking people up with each other. I get a huge kick out of hooking people up with books. Which I won't be able to do much of any more, since I seem to no longer be reading them (see above).

Anyway, here are a few of the blogs I was reading today, when I wasn't shopping or putting groceries away or watching Lilo & Stitch with Sarah:

Meg Cabot's blog. Meg Cabot wrote The Princess Diaries, which is hugely popular with many kids I know. If you even glance at her blog, you'll see why. She is funny and chatty and personable and made me want to write to her even though I know she gets thousands of e-mails, mostly from teenage girls, and really doesn't need any more. I also felt a great kinship with her because she too admits to a slight blogging-addiction problem. [Scroll down to the February 23rd entry to see her thoughts on this.]

The Julie/Julia Project. I blogrolled this even though it has pretty much closed as a blog, because it is so amazing. I found it through bookslut, and apparently I am the last person on earth to have heard of it, thus confirming my status as the ultimate anti-fashion barometer. The story, in a nutshell [in case you too have been living under a rock]: a twentysomething secretary, deciding she needs a challenge and focus, resolves to cook all 536 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in the following year, and to write a blog documenting her experiences. Not only does she succeed in her cooking goal, but her blog is so well-written and charming (and it really is) that she achieves fame, fortune, many new friends and fans, and a book deal. I read this for hours, even though I am an erratic cook at best. I'll be reading the book. Come to think about it, this blog has a lot in common with Meg Cabot's above in that both authors tell [or, in this case, simply demonstrate] modern-day Cinderella stories. (This ability to make far-fetched connections is one reason I did so well as an English major.)

Finslippy. Actually I read this one last night, but it is notable in that it enticed RW to read along, by virtue of a parenting quiz that included a question on phonetics. [Argh! I wrote"in that" twice in two paragraphs! Chalk it up to leftover-- waaayyy leftover--English-major pretension.]

There is more. Much, much, more. Embarrassingly much more. But I must stop now and watch another DVD of 6 Feet Under. We're up to the director's commentaries now, watching only 1 episode per night rather than the 2 or 3 we were gorging on last week when we were watching them for the first time.

Oh, and Sarah's birthday--and birthday party-- are in a week. But have I done anything about this today? Ha! What do you think?

No three strikes for mean giants!

Here is Sarah's dream from last night, as she dictated it to me at my request.

“Here’s the middle part. We can just skip the beginning.
A whole group killed the daddy giant. And they nailed his feet down to the ground. But they didn’t kill the mama, the toddler, the baby, or the preschooler, or the teenager. And the baby with a little help from the toddler selled bottles. And the teenager and the mom and the preschooler painted toenails. But the bottles, the baby and the toddler selled, right. That’s all.
[Why did they kill the daddy?]
Because he was mean, and if they putted him in jail they might have to nail his feet to the ground there. [ed. note: the first time she told this, it was clear that the people were worried that if the giant went to jail he would just escape and do more mean stuff.]
[How was he mean?]
Well, he was born mean. And he was a mean baby.
[What did he do that was mean?]
He pushed and he stealed and he snuck into people’s houses and stealed stuff. Like videos. And milk cups, too. And milk and food.
[How did the mama and the rest of family feel when he was killed?]
They didn’t like him. He pushed them. He pushed all of them. That’s why they didn’t like him. And that’s why they were happy that he got killed. He even pushed the baby, and the toddler, too. That makes the kids think that pushing’s okay. And they pushed the father back until he fell over.
[Do you think maybe someone pushed the father when he was a kid and made him think that pushing was okay?*]
That’s all of my story, that’s the very end.”

*Note the leading question, despite my best efforts to be neutral. Didn't make any difference, though. Death to mean giants! No hope of rehabilitation!

Two more notes:
1) It was even better the first time she told me, but I wanted to make sure I was writing it down just as she said it, without any interpretive intrusions on my part.
2) In case you're wondering, this is an extremely sheltered child, with similarly sheltered friends and classmates and lefty/liberal parents who have already inculcated her on the evils of George Bush and why we think felons should be allowed to vote. I don't think she's ever heard of capital punishment. She personally doesn't even have time-outs; our usual response when she's acting up is to sound disappointed. Her main exposure to violence comes from the few fairy tales we've read to her and the few Disney movies she's watched. And her own imagination. Oh, and she loves men and daddies.
3) Any similarity between right-wing domestic and/or foreign policies and the preschool sense of justice is purely coincidental.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

rolling, rolling, rolling...

I now have a primitive blogroll set up, so I can keep track of all the blogs I obsessively check, and you can too. Documentation on how to do it is pretty sketchy, and I am not a big tech-head, so it doesn't look as nice yet as I'd like. It should be showing up at the bottom-right; let me know if you can't see it. thanks!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Work Work workworkwork

The first day back after the Big Summer Vacation always feels like jumping into very, very icy water. Officially we don't have to be back for another 2 weeks but I like to ease in gradually. I got there at 11:15 today, and that was just about right.

Good things that happened:
  • Saw some people I like, most of whom seemed to be in a similar state of shock about being back.
  • Had a good conversation about books with a kid I've had clashes with in the past.
  • Discovered that my one faithful summer parent volunteer has finished almost all the inventory.
  • Put a couple of kid volunteers to work and thus got a few projects polished off.
  • Cataloged 20 books in a language I don't know.
Bad things that happened:
  • Saw the new schedule. It's not the worst but there are some problems, and they probably won't get solved in a way I like.
  • Asked the Tech Guy what's up with the software update he had assured me would be done while I was gone, and got a bullsh*t blow-off answer.
  • Talked with a [usually very supportive] administrator about a new employee policy I'm not thrilled with, and got a sort-of-defensive blow-off answer.
Hmm, is there a pattern here? I have an idea for happiness this year: More talking with colleagues, parents, and kids, and dealing with books; less talking with tech people and administrators and dealing with administrative pieces of paper.

Oh, and I am going to put a note in my Outlook calendar to remind me to reread Catawampus's posts on behavior management, especially Part 2, on a regular basis. Thank you, Kim.

The Best Reality TV Show Ever

Tonight RW and I were watching the DVD of the 2nd season of 6 Feet Under, Greatest TV Series in the World, gaping as Our Hero, David Fisher, gave what-for to the woman who was suing the funeral home. I mean, this stream of incredibly eloquent and emotionally incisive invective just came pouring out of him. Then he did it again a few minutes later when his boyfriend Keith was going to hand over custody of Keith's 9-year-old niece, who they'd been taking care of after Keith's sister was arrested, to Keith's potentially abusive dad. [Okay, so the show is really a glorified soap. We love it anyway.] David spoke truth to power in such a way that we were awed and amazed. Maybe he's the one I wanted to be channeling at that zoo concert last week.

Then we remembered: oh yeah, he's fictional! He has writers! It takes them a week or so to come up with an hour's worth of wise and witty and powerfully truthful zingers for David and his fucked-up family! "I wish Alan Ball* would write my life for me," said RW. Or maybe I said it; I'm not sure. I was certainly thinking it.

That's when the lightning bolt hit. Alan Ball should write our lives for us! Or somebody else's, for them. Let's face it: we all wish we could talk like the people on those smart TV shows. It's at least as much a fantasy as whatever else they're dangling in front of people on all those reality TV shows I don't watch but hear about in the staff room. [Okay, I did watch one episode of Colonial House. And the half-hour network version of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy they showed as a teaser.] So give the people what they want!

Here's how it would work: The producers would pick a real person, or family, or group of friends, or workplace, or, I don't know, a real bar where everybody knows each other's names, and they'd spend a few days interviewing everyone about their situations, their issues, their problems, hopes, dreams, whatever. Then they'd pick one big major story line that seemed to be the focus of interest. [Or maybe they'd hire a therapist to do this part, you know, draw everybody out and identify the Big Issue. We can work out the details later. Either way, they definitely film the interviews.]

Then, the writers would move in. One or more writers from a smart TV show with really good dialogue would spend a week or so in the house [or workplace, or bar, etc.] taking copious notes. Say, Aaron Sorkin, Alan Ball, David Chase, Michael Patrick King, and/or some of the women who you don't get to hear about [like Jill Soloway!] but who I'm sure they have toiling in their back offices.

Then-- this is my favorite part-- the writers go back to their offices and write a TV show just like these people's real life, but with much better dialogue. And, for a bonus, they provide a resolution to the Big Issue identified during the first section. Then they produce the TV show, only with actors who are thinner and have a costume designer and great haircuts.

Finally, they show the whole thing: first 10-15 minutes of interviews with the Real People, and maybe a summary from the hired shrink. Then 30-45 minutes of the written show with the actors, wherein the big problem is solved and everyone gets lots of witty dialogue to lob at each other. Then a follow-up with the real people, taped a few months later, where they tell how whatever problem it was really worked out, and maybe how the experience of their Dialogue Makeover helped them with it.

RW suggests an alternate scenario, in which people get to play themselves in the scripted version of their life. But not everyone can act. She said they could be on book, and it would work as therapy rather than reality TV.

Either way, I want it. I want it so bad. I want us to be the first episode. I want Jenny Bicks of Sex and the City to decide whether and when we should move to Vancouver, and to write me a really snappy yet moving monologue about how lame Seattle is and how much I miss New York even though I know RW will never move there in a million years. She can write one for RW on anything she wants, too, even my many personal failings, I don't care that they'd be exposed on TV in front of millions of people, I mean lots of people have exposed all kinds of dumb things about themselves on TV but at least this would be well-written! And maybe I'd be played by Joan Cusack or someone. Oh, please, pick us first! Someone see this idea and produce it and pick us first!

Or pick someone else, but at least do it. If someone would produce this show, I would even pay for cable for the first time in my life to see it.

*Actually, RW points out that Jill Soloway wrote that episode. So maybe she should be writing our lives for us.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

The Proppiness Chronicles, Part 2

Scene: The living room couch, once again.
Time: Around 9:00 this morning
Cast of characters: Sarah, elswhere [RW is asleep, the lucky thing]

me: Go on, go to the bathroom, and then you can go upstairs and watch TV.

S: [No reply, flops on my legs]

me: Come on, let's see some proppiness here!

S [still flopping]: My proppiness is all the way in the basement [with hand, indicates line very close to the floor].

me: Want me to give you some?

S [perking up]: Do you have a proppiness machine too?

me: Um... I think so. How do I know if I have one?

S [looking intensely and earnestly into my eyes]: You think about it. You pretend you have one.

me [closes eyes and visualizes proppiness machine. It looks vaguely like our hot water heater, only more boxlike]: Okay. I have one now.

S [with a helpful air]: When I first got mine, it took a while to warm up.

me: How long did it take?

S: Oh, about a day.

me: What did you do while you were waiting for it?

S: I just kept it in the basement.

me: Oh. Okay.

[S and elswhere return to flopping on the couch.]


Sarah and RW and I were slouched around the living room this very humid evening, eating dinner off the little yellow Ikea table that's sometimes the coffee table and sometimes Sarah's work space, and suddenly she got irked that we'd taken over her territory for our communal meal and suggested/ordered that we all take our food and move over to the official dining table.

We both kind of groaned and said we were too tired to move. This would ordinarily be her cue for some kind of tantrum, but instead she picked up her hands pointed/shook them at me in this sort of archery gesture, not in a hostile way, though. Then she said "There. I shooted you full of proppiness so you can get up."

Actually, she said "pwoppiness," but it sounded like she meant to put an R in there. I wasn't sure, though. "Poppiness?" I asked.

"No, pwoppiness. I shooted you with lots of pwoppiness. Mama, too." And she did the same gesture at RW.

"Proppiness?" I tried again, a little tentatively. Sometimes she gets frustrated when we don't understand what she's saying and I was wary of getting my head bitten off.

I think she was starting to get the idea that we didn't think it was a real word, so she explained for our benefit, somewhat condescendingly. "I shooted you full of interestedness. Pwoppiness."

"Well, I don't think it's working," RW commented.

Sarah made the little gesture again. By this time she'd forgotten all about kicking us off her table. "There. I shooted you full of more pwoppiness. Is it working now?"

I guess it sort of was. We were certainly sitting up straighter.

Proppiness. If it's not a word, it should be.

Friday, August 13, 2004


Here are some things I sort of understand. To be totally clear: I do know these things are evil. I don't in any way condone them. Actually I'm horrified by them. But I intellectually understand how they could happen, like what leads to them and what parts of our imperfect human nature make them possible:

  • War
  • Terrorism
  • Torture
  • Child abuse
  • Yelling at your kids because you had a bad day
  • Racism
  • Homophobia
  • Being afraid of people because they're different in any kind of way
  • Bullying
  • Subjugation of women
  • Rich people setting up laws to make themselves richer
I could go on but you get the idea.

So why do I have so much trouble getting my head around the two women who tripped me and yelled at me yesterday at the They Might Be Giants zoo concert?

It's true I came up from my seat way in the back because I wanted to see John & John up close for a while instead of as blurry little figures. And I'm sure those women had been in line for hours to get their excellent seats. And it was probably frustrating that an impromptu mosh pit had sprung up right in front of them. But I wasn't even in their way; I was actually being careful to stay over to the side and not block the view of anyone who was sitting down. I just moved over a little when the [very polite] security guard asked me to move to the left of the cones. And then I tripped over one of their feet. And I turned to apologize but before I could even say anything she andher friend started yelling at me-- really yelling! I was stunned. I said something stupid back and then grabbed Sarah and said "Come on, those people are TOO CRABBY, we don't need to be near them." And then TMBG started playing my favorite song, the one I taught Sarah until she can sing it by heart too, the one I was hoping they'd play, and I couldn't enjoy it because I was too upset.

So, I know that this event is a relatively minor one in the great scheme of things [see above list]. But my point isn't that I'm a big whiner, though that might be true. Here's the thing: it's like there's this big disconnect in my head. I can understand, abstractly, people's extreme cruelty to each other, but when someone isn't nice to me--me!-- it boggles my mind. Not when I'm mean or crabby to someone or they're mean or crabby back, that makes sense. Not even when RW or Sarah or my parents are snappish when I haven't done anything [or much] to them; people take things out on the ones they love, and I do the same thing even though I try not to. But just random, kicking-the-puppy nastiness.

I felt the way Sarah looked when she was a baby and we went over to a house with a 2-year-old and he just walked over to her and hit her out of nowhere: where did that come from? And why?

Maybe this is evidence of total self-centeredness, that I don't think the rules of the world apply to me. And maybe I do the same thing to other complete strangers without even knowing it. I'm certainly capable of being brusque and/or insensitive at times. [But that's different. Or is it? No, I mean these women were really yelling and getting abusive. And they didn't seem drunk or anything. Just nasty.]

Someone who'd seen it came up to me later and told me she saw that woman kicking people on purpose after I left. For some reason that made me feel a little better [though I guess in retrospect I should've felt bad for the people she kicked]: like I wasn't just a jerk and a dork, she was really crazy! And someone else noticed! I edged back up front and told Security on her. Ah, appealing to authority, the goody-goody's way out.

Really, of course, I would've liked to have had some kind of scathing retort at hand. But I was too stunned. And even now I can't think of much that would've made much dent in their insane righteousness. The closest I can come up with is a suggestion that they go home and watch the Gigantic DVD so they can get a really good view of the band, because heaven forbid they should actually want to share the experience with other people who love this music too.

Somehow I don't think that would've gone over with the bang I wanted.

Then I started thinking: What would someone really centered, like, oh, say, Gandhi, have done? Probably Gandhi wouldn't have edged up front in the first place. But if he had, and someone had tripped and yelled at him-- what would he have done? Or the Dalai Lama? Probably he wouldn't have needed to say anything; he's probably too enlightened to care. Or how about Dorothy Parker? She always had something to say. I'm sure she could've come up with some bon mot that would've knocked the stuffing out of them, while making it clear that she was in the right and superior in every way.

Or maybe, when someone's randomly yucky like that, there's nothing to do but let go of it, and obsessing about it is proof of my unevolved nature. But how does a person get evolved?

Maybe it's just as well I don't get out much.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

gee but it's great to be back home

... home is where I wanna beeeeee, I been on the road so long, my friend...
[With due credit given to Mssrs. Simon & Garfunkel.]

But it's true. We were on the road for 2 weeks solid, and then for a week before that Seattle was blasted with a wicked nasty heat wave [can you tell I've just been in New England?] that basically turned all our brains to mush and left us gasping around flapping our fins in search of water to fling ourselves into. So I've been remiss in my self-imposed blogging duties. I wonder if any of my huge [maybe 6 or so by now?] readership has jumped ship over this lapse. Well, I will just keep typing into the void, in hopes that one day this message in a bottle will be found, ideally by someone with the same taste in crappy '70's and '80's music references [RW is continually amazed at the number of obscure song lyrics I can pull out of the mental file cabinet, but all I can think of is how I could have used all those brain cells for more useful and/or impressive things--like actual poetry, or the names and locations of countries, or what Communism is anyway. That kind of thing.]

A few brief statistics will give you the idea of the whirlwindiness of our tour: In the course of 14 days, we visited 4 states [I'm not counting New Hampshire, which we only drove through, though we did have some excellent pizza there], stayed overnight in 6 different places [though for 5 of those we slept in Putt-Putt the adorable if somewhat indisyncratic VW camper van we rented], and visited 34 [I think] people, mostly though not entirely relatives and old friends. It would have been 35 or 36 if we'd had another hour or so to visit Jessamyn & possibly her boyfriend, but we were late to get to RW's aunt's house by dinner time and Sarah was asleep in the carseat, which made us reluctant to stop driving. There were a few other misses but mostly we managed to meet up with a miraculous number of folks we wanted to see and almost never get to.

We swam in 1 ocean [The Atlantic! My home ocean!], 2 lakes, and a river. Really we just waded around in the river because it was starting to rain but we did watch some kids dive into it out of a doorway in a covered bridge. Sarah rode in 3 different boats, but RW and I only made 2 each of those-- she skipped the Swan Boats in Boston for a chance to catch up with her friend Susan L, and I skipped the motorboat tour of Panther Pond given by Susan P's dad. We all got to go on the tall ship Liberty.

Two of the friends we saw are named Susan. Two of the relatives we saw [both writers with female spouses who are also writers, go figure] are named Ellen. We hooked up with several charming children, most of whom have names that could be [and in some cases were] their great-grandparents'. Viz. to wit: Claire, Lilly, Sophie, Isabelle. [of course, Sarah and Claire etc. will probably name their kids Ellen and Susan and maybe Debbie and Jennifer, thinking those names terribly elegant and classic and their own names hopelessly trendy.]

Some things I got to eat: maple sugar candy, the aforementioned excellent pizza, lobster the way it should be eaten [outside, at a picnic table, with no worries about making a mess], assorted other fabulous shellfish, Greek takeout, pie for breakfast, Burnt Sugar ice cream, root beer floats, toasted marshmallows, blueberry pancakes, and Pop-tarts. And a fair amount of peanut butter and hot dogs to round things out. There must have been some vegetables somewhere, but I don't remember them much except for the corn we had with the lobster and the grilled zucchini on the last night.

Things Sarah got to do: Go fishing; watch hermit crabs; slide down an actual cellar door over and over; belly-dance in a real coin-encrusted belly-dance belt; pick blueberries for the blueberry pancakes; become an expert in climbing up to the bed in Putt-Putt's pop-up top; and pull RW's backpack off the security conveyor belt her very own self , in a frenzy of helpfulness.

Expensive things RW and I want to do now: Buy our own camper van; visit Maine every year; eat more lobster.

Tomorrow Sarah goes back to day care and RW and I have another suppposedly-productive Wednesday in which we will unpack and I will get started on my newly-minted list of Things to Do as well as working on the Things to Do backlog that didn't actually get done before the trip. Based on my Getting Things Done track record this summer, and how late I'm up at this moment, I am already kind of despairing. We shall see.