Friday, August 21, 2009

In which I am a spoiled brat about going on vacation.

It's hella hot and humid here, so guess what? We're leaving on "vacation" to somewhere hotter and more humid.

We'll be in the car for hours, along with everyone else on the eastern seaboard who isn't smart enough to stay the hell home and/or lucky enough to live somewhere not worth fleeing.

But wait, we DO live somewhere not worth fleeing. Everywhere is worse than Cape Cod, in the summertime. Everywhere. Why can't we go away in February? Huh? HUH?


Things I would've done at home:
  • picked more awesome cherry tomatoes from the garden, which is going gangbusters;
  • maybe taken a drive to the outer Cape to check out the Hurricane Bill surf, which looks like it could be really cool.
Oh well. The New Jersey Turnpike seems like much more fun than either of those things.

On the up side, I do love license plate games. And the people we're going to see are as totally cool as the weather won't be.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I take it all back...

...about the swimming lessons.

The last few times I've been down to the lake with the girls, the Bean in particular has really impressed me with her comfort level and eagerness to "swim." She has her head in the water and her arms and legs moving around, and somehow makes forward progress for several seconds at a time. I can't call it swimming, exactly, and Lord help her if she were to discover she was in over her head during the attempt. But still: progress, when I thought there had been none. So, yay Bean!

The Peanut? She still prefers to just roll around in the wet sand, shake her paws off, and have people call her "Simba." But she'll get there.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Food for thought (to be chewed with our mouths closed)

I saw this months and months ago, but it keeps coming back to mind, so I thought I'd share it here.

This is Dan Savage, presumably at a forum or workshop somewhere, answering relationship questions from the audience:

This answer of his clarified something I've observed over the years, in both my own and friends' romantic relationships: that in dealing with the inevitable bumps in the road, it can be useful -- critical, even -- to distinguish between "roommate" issues and "relationship" issues.

Roommate issues include differences of opinion on what constitutes ideal summer and winter room temperature; who leaves too much stuff lying around; when the garage is going to be cleaned out; who squeezes the toothpaste tube where; whether it's OK to bring the car home running on fumes and not mention it to the other person who needs to drive it; whether a single hall light can be left on throughout the evening or whether every single bulb in the house must be extinguished if there isn't a sentient being doing something productive directly beneath it; and whether the cucumber turning to mush in the crisper is just a cucumber that didn't make it this week, or an indicator of an unacceptable and shameful pattern of food waste in the household. Just some examples, you know, from thin air.

Relationship issues are the tougher ones -- questions of trust, power, sex, communication, philosophies of life, personalities, and tons more. I'm not nearly so fluent in any of that, because I Don't Want To Talk About It. In many ways, I'm ill-suited to being half of a pair; it can be very hard for me to get into any of this, even when something's fairly begging to be discussed.

And sure, there's overlap between these broad categories. I've just noticed that the distinction can be helpful, as "roommate" stuff can easily obscure "relationship" stuff. Sometimes what seems to be the problem is immaterial, and the problem itself is buried somewhere underneath aggravation over the way the dishwasher's being loaded, or whatever.

ANYway. I think "the price of admission" is a great concept -- such a helpful way to think about those roommate issues that can annoy us to death, or not, as ultimately we choose. It's a nice mental box to put that stuff in, clearing room to think about the hard stuff, which is where there's relationship paydirt to be hit in bringing out each other's best self, or, as Dan says, in willfully ignoring that that person doesn't really exist.

Monday, August 10, 2009

UPS Next Day Air: You're Welcome.

I just lined up everything I needed for today's errands (a check for the bank; the shopping list and tote bags for a Trader Joe's run; a couple items and their receipt to make a return at AC Moore; money and empty egg cartons for the family from whom we buy fresh eggs), and...

...after a (mercifully brief) search, realized that I'd left my keys in my brother's car, which... now in New Jersey, where he returned last night after a weekend visit up here.

That's a wee bit out of range of the beeping key finder device I had a while back, which, though it did help locate my keys if they were on my desk or in a coat pocket instead of on their hook, turned into something of an embarrassment when it wouldn't stop beeping, unprompted, no matter which battery got replaced or how often.

So I had to call my egg-selling friend back and say I wouldn't be coming after all, because I had no keys. She must think I'm losing my mind. The last time I bought eggs, I was $3 short because I'd left my wallet at home and didn't realize it until I was in her doorway. She was very cheerful about that, and very cheerful about this. I think it must be something of a relief to see there's someone who has her shit less together than you. I guess I don't mind being that person once in a while.

However, a firm Note To Self: Don't take critical items out of their usual places. Just don't. Even if it means bringing the whole handbag when all you need with you is a single key -- bring it. Also: saying out loud, "I AM PUTTING MY KEYS HERE," is not a reliable safeguard against forgetting to pick them back up, though it will help you remember where you left them, once it's too late.


Thursday, August 06, 2009


I'm watching out the window as the Bean and her friend J., who's moving away tomorrow, play on their scooters around the circle at the end of our street. The Peanut is on her scooter too -- a littler one, with two wheels in the back instead of just the one -- and she just can't keep up with the bigger girls zooming around. They're only a year and a half apart, but sometimes it really shows. Peanut, left in the proverbial dust at the end of the driveway, is watching for them to come around again. Her helmet makes her appear all top-heavy, and her legs are so skinny, sticking out the bottom of her skirt. She looks like a cartoon.

Oh, my little Peanut.

In a month and a bit, she'll get on the school bus with her sister for the first time. What am I going to do, with nobody to walk home with from the bus stop?

Cry like a baby, is what.

"Invalidating legitimate presidencies since 2009!"

Now you, too, can be fantasized by crackpots to have been born in Kenya.

Get yer proof right here! Make it accessible, but not too easily accessible -- maybe a bribe should come into play -- and they're sure to fall for it, and possibly submit it as evidence in a lawsuit!

Good times.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Money down the drain: swimming lesson edition

Yeah. So I've been sitting in the goddamn pool area bleachers, where the air is conveniently heated to approximately six thousand goddamn degrees for your viewing comfort, for an hour twice a week all effing summer long. This is for the distinctly faked pleasure of oohing and aaahing in pride every time one of my girls keeps her face in the water for more than a tenth of a second, and enduring excruciating small talk from the parents who aren't faking it. The novelty wore off before the experience even started.

Today was their last swimming lesson of the session (thank God). Progress made, in all these weeks: NONE. Zero. They've spent lesson after lesson after lesson being toted around the pool by lovely young women posing as swimming instructors, who coo "GOOOOD JOB!" at them every time they make any kind of motion; their reports indicate, to nobody's surprise, that neither of the girls has accomplished a single thing, and the next level they should register for is the level they've just supposedly finished.

Screw that. Frankly, I'm in the mood to throw them in the deep end and let them figure it out themselves.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

It's hard to say good-bye.

Imagine you have new neighbors a few houses up the street. They're about your age and stage in life and they seem pretty cool. After seeing each other in passing a few times, you invite them over for a cookout. Turns out you have similar educations and interests, hobbies and politics, all that. Cool! We should do this again!

Some time goes by, and you worry that maybe they didn't like you as much as you like them - ack! (Remember that episode of Friends, when Chandler and Monica met another couple who they thought they hit it off with, but the other couple totally blew them off? Gah!!!! If only Mr. Sandyshoes didn't have answers for everything! If only I didn't pepper my conversation with so many Star Wars and/or Monty Python references!)

But then they do invite you over. It's all good. And it keeps happening. As the years go by, you get together often, spontaneously or planned, with children or, too rarely, without.

The kids are close in age, and all like each other and play well together, even as they go through their various phases and stages. At Thanksgivings, when their teachers ask them what they're thankful for, they name each other. It's lovely to see that they're constants in each other's lives, as they learn to swim and read, as tricycles give way to training wheels, to be cast aside in triumph soon enough. It just feels good to know they'll eventually be getting on the school bus all together every day. There's no guaranteeing they'll always want to hang out together, but they'll have the comfort of having known each other virtually all their lives, and the security of knowing they are always loved and welcome in each other's homes.

Traditions begin to form around shared activities and holidays and maybe an annual summer camping trip. You trust each other's judgment and outlook; you know that you'll be there for each other, whatever need arises.

Now imagine that these cool neighbors, these friends who now seem more like family (in a good way!), have to move almost a thousand miles away.

We've known for months that it's happening, and now the moving van is coming in just a few days. Still, it doesn't seem real.

All of us have lived enough years in enough places to know that distance does not break friendship. But we're sad, just now.

Holy crap!

July is gone!