Thursday, November 30, 2006


The last seven days in a nutshell:

Thanksgiving. Early-morning church, followed by cemetery visit, followed by dinner at two separate houses.

After morning of frantic packing, leave on Royal Caribbean cruise to Mexico.

Cruise. Eat lots. Hang out in stateroom to avoid being hit on by drunk men. Occasionally slip outside to enjoy ocean breeze.

Come home, have computer/network problems. Do not unpack.

Drive to San Diego for workshop, drive back. Still do not unpack.

Try to catch up at work. Finally unpack. Start laundry.

Continue trying to catch up. Go to early holiday party. Eat lots. Put Wednesday's laundry in dryer. Realize that Christmas is in 25 days. Panic.

Someone wake me up when it's January.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

There's a cat in my bathroom

G has been begging for a second cat to go along with Catherine, so I decided to upset the delicate balance of cattery in the house (two humans to cater to the demands of one cat is the perfect ratio, at least from the cat's point of view) and take in a little black alley cat that a friend of mine had found. We named him Malcolm, because we like to give our pets people names, and he's been here since yesterday.

So far, he's not adapting nearly as well as Catherine did. After having to retrieve him from tight spaces several times, we shut him in G's bathroom, where he apparently spent the night in the sink despite having a nice blanket-lined box to sleep in. This morning, he mewed at us when we went in to check on him, and seemed interested in coming out and looking around, so we left the door open. As he was venturing out onto the stairs, Catherine came by and hissed and spit at him, prompting G to shout "Bad girl, Catherine! Don't you know the meaning of friendship?" and prompting Malcolm to shoot under the couch and attach himself to the carpet like an inky black slug.

I moved the couch at least ten times and still couldn't get him out, but I didn't want to leave him there because Catherine was watching him balefully from the other side of the room and I knew she wouldn't let him come out once we left. So I turned on the vacuum, and he shot out again -- straight into the fireplace, where he clung to the gas logs and wouldn't let go. G and I finally managed to shoo him out of there, and I wrestled him upstairs and into the bathroom again.

When I came home from work, I opened the bathroom door and went downstairs for, I kid you not, twenty seconds to get the bag of cat food. I came back and he had vanished without a trace. I knew he hadn't gone downstairs or I would have seen him, but I couldn't find him anywhere. G finally spotted him lurking far underneath my bed.
The cat's like a damn ninja -- fast, strong, and impossible to see in the shadows. He's come out of hiding a few times this evening to walk around and explore, and every time Catherine has hissed or growled at him and sent him flying again. She hasn't tried to attack -- they're about the same size, so it's anyone's guess who would win if she did -- but she's not pleased by his presence either.

On another note, we're going to church tomorrow morning for Thanksgiving, and G is already complaining bitterly about it. We went to a memorial Mass for P a couple of weeks ago (at Saint Monica's, which is an awesome church), and I let her sneak in a book to read because I wanted to concentrate on the service and not spend the entire time telling her to be quiet. I don't suppose I ought to let her get into that habit, though -- it's not very respectful. This is exactly why P thought, and I agree, that kids really shouldn't be forced to go to church if they don't want to: when you go with an attitude of resentment, you get nothing out of it and might as well have stayed at home. Personally, I enjoy going, and I'm not even Catholic -- I'd gladly take G every week if she wanted to go -- but I'm an adult and it's my choice to be there. She's got no choice. Though I do think that almost eight is old enough to suck it up and sit quietly for an hour, especially when you're only asked to do it once every few months.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

These four walls

I could not pry G out of the house today for love or money. Except for a brief expedition to McDonald's to get pancakes for breakfast (because there was not one single item of breakfast food to be had in the kitchen) and a slightly longer trip to the grocery store (because there was also no lunch, dinner or snack food, or indeed anything other than wilted celery, two heels of bread, and a quarter bag of old Doritos), we stayed home.

I hate staying home.

I don't mind it if I'm by myself, but on weekends, I need to get out. I love G madly, but after forty-eight hours of nonstop, uninterrupted, one-on-one togetherness, it starts to feel like we're in our own little production of Waiting for Godot: "Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it's awful!" Going out saves my sanity, even if it also usually costs me money. Plus, I actually do better at giving G focused attention if we're not at home -- at home I'm always getting distracted, mainly by housework, but also by books and telephone calls and the computer. Tomorrow I swear we're going somewhere, even if it's just to the park.

I did discover something wonderful at the grocery store today: a new DVD rental machine. You choose from a selection of new releases, swipe your ATM card, and your DVD pops out of a slot on the front. I do have a Netflix account and use it, but it doesn't work for those spontaneous let's-get-a-movie moments, and I haven't set foot in a video store for ages. (Is it even called the video store anymore? G is always scolding me for referring to movies as "videos" -- "They're DVDs, Mom!") It's so nice when technology comes up with something that's exactly what I need.

In other news, G told me yesterday that she wants to start taking ballet again. She's been away from it for several months, and I didn't expect her ever to go back. In fact, I'm a little surprised that she wants to go back now, although I know why: it's because she wants to learn pointe. She mentioned not long ago that Miss Michelle had said she could get pointe shoes when she was 10, so it must have been percolating in her mind since then. If it were up to me, I'd want her to try a different type of dance -- she doesn't have the right body type for ballet, and it was always a struggle for her -- but I'm willing to let her take another shot at it. I guess I'll e-mail the studio on Monday and see if they still have a slot open in her former class.

In other other news, Catherine has claimed P's pillows as her personal sleeping spot. I'm in bed right now, and she's all curled up there with her paw over her little nose. P would shit a brick if he were here -- he was very particular about his pillows and would never stand for a cat sleeping on them. Heck, I wasn't even allowed to use them. He had the tags labeled with his initials so they wouldn't get mixed up with mine, and if I happened to fall asleep on one of them, he'd wake me up to switch. Catherine doesn't seem to care what anyone thinks. Her cat-logic goes like this: They're soft, they're near Mom and I want them, ergo they're mine. You can't argue with that, can you? No, I didn't think so.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Dr. Seuss has nothing on me

G: Mom! What if we had a hound, and he was on the ground?
Me: He would be a ground hound. What if he was also shaped like a ball?
G: What?
Me: He would be a round ground hound. What if we'd gotten him at the animal shelter?
G: What?
Me: He would be a pound round ground hound. What if we tied him up?
G: What?
Me: He would be a bound pound round ground hound.
G: I don't think we should tie him up and leave him on the ground. He could get hit by a car.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

School news

Had G's parent/teacher conference this afternoon. She's reading at fifth-grade level, which I had gathered from the types of books she's been choosing lately; writing competently, which I also knew from the comics she makes; and excelling in science. She's also doing well in math even though she complains about it constantly. Most of what she's asked to do in school is very easy for her, but math doesn't come naturally: she has to work at it, and she doesn't like that. It's good for her, though. A lot of bright kids figure out that they can get by without trying very hard -- and I say this as a former bright kid who did exactly that for years and years -- and then they have trouble when it comes time to actually put forth some effort at something. (Again, the voice of experience.) Her teacher told me that she'd met with last year's teacher to discuss the possibility of accelerating G a grade, but they'd decided that it probably should have been done in kindergarten and that she'd miss too much math if they did it now. That's fine with me; as long as she's happy and not bored, I don't see any reason to move her from where she is, and if she does get bored, I'll probably be looking for a completely new educational setting for her.

Anyway, to celebrate G's good report, I told her that I would take her to dinner anyplace she wanted to go, and she chose the place I knew she would: a little hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant that she loves. After we ate, I bought her a new DVD, and now we're at home watching it. I let her have Coke at the restaurant, which she's not usually allowed to do, and she's so hyper that I keep waiting for her to take off and fly around the room like one of those toy planes you wind up with a rubber band. I hope she calms down enough to fall asleep sometime before midnight.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Holy crap

On a lighter note, G and I had some time to kill this morning -- our parking lot was being resurfaced, and we had to get the car out of there by 7:30, an hour and a half before it was time to drop her off for the day. We went out for breakfast and then stopped at Target, that great waster of time and money. While we were there, G asked if she could have a new Barbie and I said she could, so she chose this:

At first glance, it looks like a basic Barbie with a dog, and that's what I thought it was, at least until we got to the checkout and G started reading the back of the package. In reality, Barbie Forever with Tanner is all about poop. Dog poop, to be specific. You lift Tanner's tail; her mouth opens; you feed in a brown plastic "dog biscuit" (strangely heavy, like a piece of lead shot); and then you push down on the tail and the biscuit falls out of Tanner's ass.


So after this semi-realistic act of excretion is complete, you use Barbie's magnetic stick to scoop up the ass biscuit and deposit it in a little plastic trash can that comes with the set. And then guess what? You dump it out and feed it to the dog again.

Let me repeat that. YOU FEED IT TO THE DOG AGAIN

As someone who works in marketing, I can't help imagining the brainstorming session that led to the development of this toy. "Okay, we need to get a new Barbie on the market in time for Christmas. What can we package it with? ... A pet? Great! Little girls love pets! But how can we differentiate it from our 298748387 other Barbies that also come with pets? I know! We'll have it eat its own poop! Yeah! They'll go crazy for that!"

I actually went ahead and bought the Barbie anyway, because I have a sick sense of humor and was groaning "Ewww!" through my laughter. G promptly dubbed the dog "Tanner the Pooping Dog" and could not wait to get in and show it to the people who watch her while I'm at work. I guess it's not any grosser than those dolls that drink and pee, but man!

Who's another year older today?

Yep. That would be me.

P and I never did a lot of celebrating when it came to our own birthdays. He, especially, had a deep aversion to anyone making a big deal out of it (although if you had wanted to buy him a flat-screen TV or a nice DVD box set in honor of the occasion, no problem) and would usually try to find a way to hide out at home, watching a basketball game or something similar. So it isn't a lack of recognition that's bothering me on this, my first birthday without him. It's the idea that I'm getting older and he isn't. He's supposed to be the eldest, not me. In two years, I'll be older than he ever got to be, and that upsets the fundamental balance of the universe as I see it.

He had a lot more birthdays than anyone expected, you know. First they said he'd die as a newborn, then as a child, then before he reached his teens, but he never did. He kept on living, defying all odds and predictions, for thirty-six years and four months and five days. He never cared about getting older the way so many people do; he thought it was stupid to mourn your lost youth. How could he? Every year he lived was a year he hadn't died. I suppose that's a morbid way to look at it, but it's better than crying over your grey hair and crows' feet. And God knows I've got enough of those already at the ripe old age of thirty-five.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Behave, or the horses shall smite thee

Yesterday afternoon, G ran up to me in the hallway and said:

"Mom, MOM! Do you want to see the cool human sacrifice I set up in my room?"

This is an invitation you can't really turn down, if only to help you gauge whether you ought to praise your child for her creativity or find her some professional help. So I followed G into her bedroom and saw this:

Here's how she explained it to me: "The Barbie tried to take away one of the horses, so they have to sacrifice her to the horse goddess. They don't want to, but they have to, because she broke the rules. They'll chant and dance, and then they'll remove her heart, and her spirit will go into the spirit ball (that multicolored thing on the left) and be taken up to the horse goddess."

I swear I haven't been letting her watch anything weird on television ...