Sometimes the anxious is the enemy of the nice.
It’s not pithy, but it’s true.
When I wrote the other day that the birds Mike made for me as prototypes for my AE class were “not Pinterest-worthy” I was being unkind. And ungrateful, considering the hours he’d spent making them. Or, OK, minutes. I don’t know–I wasn’t there. I was at book club, discussing a book I hadn’t read.
I guess I’m a bit of a jerk across the board.
Anyway, I have a feeling I’ll be hearing the phrase “not Pinterest-worthy” for the next forty years. And deservedly so. Sorry, Mike. Your birds were definitely Pinterest worthy. And AE-worthy.
Overall, you’re just a super worthy guy.
Today Myra-Jean was a lammergeier.
What the hell is that, you ask? I have no idea. Or hadn’t, until today. Turns out it’s a bird. Otherwise known as a bearded vulture. My daughter’s ornithological knowledge has officially passed from the cute to the bizarre. It’s one thing when your four-year-old pretends to be a sparrow, heron, or even a blue tit. (Although the latter did raise a few eyebrows in the over-ten set.) It’s quite another when she claims to be a bird that no one has ever heard of and that you, her parent, can barely pronounce. Speaking of which, where the hell did she learn to do a french accent? The whole thing is just creepy.
“I eat mostly bones, Mama. I drop them onto rocks to break them open.”
“Then I eat the marrow inside.”
“Can we finish brushing your teeth now, please?”
“You mean my beak?”
Right now she’s super into a book called “Guide to Birds.” It’s excellent–detailed, packed with interesting information, well written. It’s also for older kids, so it’s a wee bit on the graphic side.
“It takes practice to become a proficient killer,” one section, called “Blood Lust,” starts.
“So most birds of prey specialize in a particular strategy. For members of the eagle and hawk family, the principal weapons are the talons, which kill by puncturing the prey’s body and inflicting mortal wounds. In contrast, falcons hold small prey in their talons and use the bill to snap the spine and cripple them.”
“Goodnight Moon” it’s not.
I feel slightly mortified introducing such imagery to her, but MJ seems drawn to it. She asks for the same pages–the bloody ones–over and over again. True, she was initially perturbed by the book’s high body count. But she quickly grew able to compartmentalize. Take secretary birds, for example. These odd creatures, looking like “eagles on stilts,” are the only birds of prey that both stomp their victims to death and swallow them whole. MJ “loves” them. Loves! Most girls her age love cookies. And puppies. And “Frozen.” My kid loves the avian equivalent of the Terminator. Either she’s compartmentalizing or she’s crazy.
Mike says books like “Guide to Birds” are probably as good a way as any to introduce MJ to the vagaries of life. I suppose this is true. God knows it’s easier to talk about birds dying than people. Still, when I’m sitting with her in the rocking chair, cuddled up under a blanket, trying to define the word “impale” without traumatizing her completely, it all feels like a bit of a parenting “don’t.”
On the other hand, if it toughens her up a little bit? Makes her roll with the punches–like scraping her knee, getting her hair combed, or being handed the wrong-colored bowl at breakfast–a tiny bit more easily? Maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all. Better than a claw through the skull, right?
Now there’s some good parenting for you.
It’s not only toddlers who need a security blanket sometimes.
I was at a 5-year-old’s birthday party last weekend, and found myself feeling a bit socially awkward. Looking for something to do, I spotted a cabinet filled with retro games; I decided to play one with MJ until my shyness abated. This is the kind of thing we non-drinkers have to resort to. I know, it’s very unwieldy. But cheaper than a fifth of scotch.
Anyway. The game we played was pick up sticks–something I haven’t done, probably, since I was five. I eventually relaxed and went on to mingle with kids my own age. But I’d had so much fun playing that I decided to re-create the experience at home. For Mike. Using silverware and dishes.
I think I succeeded beautifully.
He is such a sore loser.
Cheese grater, anyone?
Have I mentioned? I’m blotto in love. You can tell my husband; he already knows. The symptoms are classic: I think about my new love all the time. I touch it gently whenever I walk by. I sing songs extolling its virtues. I tell everyone I know about it. Maybe it’s a midlife crisis kind of thing–it does, after all, involve a car. Mine.
My new electric car. I’m in love.
Friends, family, and co-workers have had it up to here. They’ve been listening to me for weeks. I’m like Shakespeare, but without language skills. I wax absolutely un-poetic. I can’t stop going on about it: my good fortune, its good mileage. My fellow salespeople roll their eyes dramatically when they hear me telling yet another customer about my Nissan Leaf.
“It’s all electric!” I gush. “No tailpipe. No gas!”
“None?” my customers ask politely.
“None!” I croon.
“There she goes again,” my co-workers mutter.
I can’t help myself. This is a huge deal for me. I’ve wanted an electric car for, oh, ten years, and this is the first time I’ve been able to afford one. Used to be, in order to buy an EV you had to have the extra $2500 to install a charging station at your house. Now that’s no longer required. My car–my beautiful roadster–charges from a regular extension cord run (OK, rather unglamorously) out of our garage. Plug it in just like it’s a lamp. The next day–presto!–a full charge. Which, admittedly, only gets you 85 miles, but that’s far enough for my needs. And much farther than any lamp I’ve met.
Here’s what I love: the sound it makes (none), the emissions it puts out (repeat the former), the $2500 I’ll be receiving back next month from the state of CA, the little digital song it plays when I turn it on (“ding ding ding ding DONG”), and the heated seats. Which are, of course, an unnecessary drain on the battery, but provide such profound comfort that–hell, if it comes down to it? I’ll walk.
Anyway. It’s just a car. But with news about climate change growing so dire you don’t want to read it after 8PM (for fear of wrecking your night’s sleep) it’s a little bit more than that. It’s a statement. It’s a gesture of hope. It’s a source of encouragement.
And it’s many, many, many trips right past the gas pumps.
Can you hear the angels singing?
Just got finished sending out this link to my MOMS Club friends–it’s an article on talking about porn with your teenager. Ever since I had a thirteen-year-old babysitter use my laptop to watch some scary stuff last summer I’ve been interested in the topic. In a disgusted sort of way. I’d shared about it at the time with my club friends to see if they had any advice. Which they did, if you consider a resounding and collective “Eeeeew!” to be helpful.
I kind of did.
Anyway, there I am sending out my little link, and I decide to toggle over and check my youtube video uploads. I’ve been trying to clear out my iphoto files, you see, which are choked with such an abundance of three-minute videos of Myra-Jean that my hard drive is engorged and threatening to rupture. In an ongoing process of incredible tediousness, I scroll through iphoto, grab ten or so videos, dump them on youtube, and go do something else. Later, when they are finally done uploading, I delete them from my computer, and continue with my day. That night, repeat.
So there I go to youtube, where my vidoes are nearly done processing. Eight of the ten, in fact, have been published already. Great. I have no idea what’s on them–I never do. If I took the time to watch each video before I posted it I’d never leave the house.
But suddenly, as I glance through the thumbnails, I see something disturbing. Breasts. Mine. Two of them, in fact, along with the rest of my unclothed body. And what–is that a towel on my head? Jesus Christ! Clicking rapidly on the link, I see that I have somehow published a video of me and MJ sitting naked on the couch–post shower, in my case–listening to “Space Oddity.”
“Oh God, oh, God, oh God.” At least one friend of my parents subscribes to my channel. She watches every single video I put up. She could be watching now!
“Where’s the delete? Where’s the DELETE?”
I cannot find it. I search everywhere. It seems nonexistent. Really, youtube? No deleting once published? That seems totally draconian! And illogical. But I am too frenzied for logic.
I try editing the video–perhaps I can blur my boobs. Also MJ’s naked butt, which really oughtn’t to be anywhere online. Shit. I’m going to get arrested. I am panicking, and cannot use my fingers right.
“No, no, no…”
Ten minutes–and several grey hairs–later, I finally figure out how to delete the video. It’s not that hard after all. Although they could, in my opinion, make it far easier for instances like this.
Anyway. The video is gone, but the scars from the experience will last a long, long, time.
And I can never again pretend to be innocent of smutting the internet.
Perhaps I should send that article to myself.
In Los Angeles, rain. Finally. It’s a miracle.
The certainty of impending precipitation has made the last few days feel holiday-special. Grown adults have seemed giddy with excitement. When will it come? When will it be here? Rushing to our windows to check for its arrival, we’ve acted like children on Christmas eve. Amazing to think that we ever took it for granted. We recieve it now with a gratitude bordering on frenzy. Because, believe it or not–and hate me if you must, all you east coasters–sunny, dry, unrelentingly perfect weather can be not only tiresome, but downright toxic after a long enough stretch. We’re so dry here we’re crumbling. Dust has accrued in epidemic amounts. Skin is nail-file rough. Shocks from the slide at the playground have grown, well, shockingly strong. To say nothing of the larger, drought-related misery.
But no more! Finally, I hear it falling! Weather has come!
And with it, a cold for Myra-Jean. Not as an effect, of course. Their coinciding arrivals are simply bad timing. If it is, indeed, bad. Just as well such an affliction happen now, when she will be forced indoors anyway. Still, it’s never fun. She’s a wreck–angry, red circles under her watery eyes, deep, wrenching cough, violent sneezes. She looks like the guy from the Robitussin commercial, but in astronaut pajamas. And female. And four. And–OK. She doesn’t look like him at all. But her cold sure does.
Anyway. Due to MJ’s ill health we spent the entire afternoon reading. First it was multiple repetitions of Ranger Rick Jr.–I know more about vertebrates now than anyone on my block–then on to one of her favorite books. And mine. We usually read “Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space” in short sections. Tonight, though, it was nearly cover to cover–something that took over an hour. I couldn’t have minded less. “Astro Cat” contains much of the same information as “The Big Bang,” so it felt like visiting an old friend. A clever, smartly-drawn, feline friend in an orange space suit, that is. It’s an effective conceit. Imagine if all tough lessons were delivered by such a spokesperson. “On Particle Physics, by Professor Astro Cat.” “Your 2014 Tax Return,” by same. He could hold forth on nearly any subject and I’d be rapt. I think they should start a series.
All kidding aside, it’s a wonderful book. Did you know there’s a diamond-filled ocean on Uranus? That black holes cause something called “Spaghettification?” That the quicker a spaceship travels through space the slower it will travel through time?
Here on earth we have rain. Far better understood, but, today, at least, just as magical.
Reading “The Big Bang” takes me magnificent places. Ridiculous. Jaw dropping. As I turn the pages I am sucked in completely, gazing spellbound–as if at a cosmic movie screen– at our rich, mystery-sated heavens. What a drama unfolds before me! A tale strewn with unlikely geniuses, collapsing stars, far-flung atoms, electromagnetic waves, embracing galaxies, eloquent equations, gold-spewing supernovae, wormholes, invisible bends in the plane of spacetime–all of these and more form and unform against a background of deep-forever space. I watch, rapt, struggling to comprehend.
Then I return to reality. And am presented with…
Walter. My cat. Mystery-sated as well, in his own quotidian way.
Walter strews quite a different material around the universe. Our universe. Pom poms. Red ones. He is addicted to them. Obsessed. He seeks them out. He finds them, wherever they are. He performs un-catlike feats of fine-motor agility to secure their possession. Once acquired, he hoards them in the prison of his teeth. He torments them. Finally, he systematically destroys them, rendering them eventually unrecognizable as the minor crafting aid they once were.
He does not care for yellow ones.
He does not care for blue.
Red pom pom innards line our life. They are ubiquitous–the dark matter of our domestic world. Everywhere an empty space is, they are.
I consider the grand sweep of the universe. The heartstopping vastness of it. The profound beauty of its laws. The implacable pace of it. Its stillness. Its remaining paradoxes.
I consider red pom poms.
And messes of all kinds.
I struggle to comprehend.
And I set down my book. I have cleaning to do.
Those things are a bitch to vacuum up.
Little sisters. Such copycats.
Abigail, whom you may remember from her infamous chicken foot stew, has now jumped on the turmeric bandwagon. And, as usual, one-upped me–by mixing her turmeric into a kale-and-almond-butter-based smoothie. Will I follow suit? Most likely not. Yes, it looks delicious. Yes, it packs a bigger nutritional wallop than my simple “yellow milk.” But I’d have to get the blender dirty. This is an insurmountable obstacle for one such as me.
My other sister Lily has also joined in the turmeric craze. She’s on day three of drinking it every day. That the both of them are now imbibing the “magic yellow” (and not the urinary kind) makes me very happy. I get to credit myself with improving the health of 75% of my siblings. Or is it 63%?
Anyway. I have three. Two are drinking turmeric. You get the point.
Now if I can just get my brother on board I will ensure the longevity of my entire family line. Our blood–tinged slightly golden–will flow through the ages.
I will also ease my mathematical struggles. Statistics were never my thing,
As for me? I actually stopped drinking the stuff a few days ago. I know. I have no willpower. I have no consistency. I have no dishwasher! I hate washing the pot. That yellow scum is a bitch to get off! If I hadn’t killed my Gaffers and Sattler with the wrong kind of soap back in October we might be having a different conversation right now. As it is, I think I’m back to just taking a multivitamin.
And saving up for a Bosch. That’ll really improve my health.
Snapshot of this moment: I am sitting in the breakroom at work, surrounded by tupperware containers and an assortment of old condiments. I am eating a peanut butter sandwich with homemade jam. It is delicious. Still, someone forgot to order paper towels, so I am using a tissue as a napkin. This lack of basic supplies has taken an already bad mood and made it worse.
My boss asked earlier if I might be willing to work a fourth day every week. We are, she said, woefully short staffed. Taking a deep breath, I told her yes. Yes, although it will take my already scant time with my daughter and make it scanter. Yes, although this job numbs my brain and makes me, at least occasionally, hopeless for the whole human race. Yes, because we need the money and that’s a fact. Times are tough. Comparatively so, at least.
And they’re about to get tougher, at least for one small girl at my house.
This morning, when MJ–in a repeat performance of incredible endurance–cried about my going to work, I told her, “you know my great, great, great grandmother had six kids. And she had to work building bricks out of mud every day. Just to put food on the table.”
“Out of mud?” MJ replied.
“In the cold.”
“Whoa,” said my daughter, suitably chastened.
This story, I should add, is true. Or true-ish. The ancestor in question did spend some days making adobe bricks in exchange for food when living with the Mormons in Utah. It’s a small detail in an exciting and hair-raising tale, but it may not be totally accurate to portray her as solely and purely a brick smith. Still, her road was hard– her husband’s, too. I figure if they could survive starvation, wolf attacks, Indian abductions, and the shockingly ill treatment of the early Mormon leadership, then certainly I can survive working an extra day in high end retail until my husband is working again.
So maybe I told the mud brick story for myself.
And maybe it worked.
Still, I shed a couple of tears into my Trader Joes pretzels as I sat here. Fortunately no one was here to see it happen. Also, I happened to have a tissue to hand.
Every cloud has a silver lining.