Sunday, April 29, 2007

Shaking the bushes

It's time for the semiannual delurking! If you're out there, leave a comment and say hello. Also, if you feel comfortable giving your location (as in state, province or country, not "blue house on the corner of Third and Elm, spare key's under the mat, come rob us anytime"), and how you found this blog, I'd love to hear that as well. :)

These violent delights have violent ends

This evening, G and I watched the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli version of Romeo and Juliet. I hadn't read the play since college and had forgotten that it actually has a fairly complicated plot: she kept asking me who various characters were and what was happening, and I had to think fast to remember how Mercutio was connected to Romeo and why Friar Laurence's message didn't make it to Mantua. I don't know how much of the Shakespearean dialogue made sense to G, but it was all very educational, since I had to explain things like what "exile" meant, why Verona had its own prince, why you would need torches to navigate the dark streets, why it wasn't that unusual for a thirteen-year-old to get married, and why Juliet's father was, for the time, within his rights to threaten her and force her to marry the man of his choice.

Anyway, G loved it until the point where Juliet drank the potion to fake her own death, at which point she asked "Are they going to stab themselves next?" I said yes, and she said "Turn it off, I don't want to see that part." Fair enough. She was in full Juliet regalia by then, since she lives for dress-up and can cobble together an ensemble for nearly any occasion from her collection of fancy dresses, old Halloween costumes and scarves. She visited Costume SuperCenter afterward in search of a more authentic outfit and was peeved when they didn't have one that measured up to her vision.

Aside from the movie, I spent a good chunk of my day throwing away or storing items that have been sitting on my patio since we moved here nine months ago. Part of the reason I've been so down (I think) is because from the moment P died until just recently, I lived under the illusion that everything I was doing -- finding a new place to live, managing work and childcare and chores on my own, being sick with no one here to pick up the slack -- was somehow temporary. I could deal with anything because nothing felt like it was going to last. But over the last month or so, I've begun to wake up to the cold, unpleasant truth: none of this is temporary. This is it; this is how things are going to be from now on. And whether it's true or not, I can't help feeling that there's nothing left to look forward to, which is a pretty sad way to feel when you're barely halfway through your life, if that.

I thought the mess on the patio was symptomatic of this mindset -- back when we arrived, I'd shoved things out there thinking I'll just put this [lawn chair/stone gargoyle/fake plant] here for now and do something about it later. Well, "later" is here. There's lots more I still need to deal with, including selling P's boxes and boxes of graphic novels on eBay (which he specifically told me to do if something should happen to him), but I have to muster up the mental energy first. It could take a while.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Got my funk on

I've been in a bit of a funk this week. Well, that's not quite accurate. It was more like a great big sucking slough of a funk. A "play that funky music, emo girl" funk. Funktastic. Funkalicious. A regular all-expenses-paid trip to Funkytown.

Woo-hoo! Good times!

Anyway, moving on from that, I was amused to discover this term in the Urban Dictionary:

Geriatric X: A person that was born in the early part of the generation X generation (1965-1981).

As I was born in 1971, I'm sure I qualify for this one. Dang. I mean, I knew I was getting older, but really, "geriatric?" It's how the kids think, though. My mother sometimes implores me to talk to my 16-year-old sister about things like college, claiming that my sister won't listen to a word she says, and I keep telling her that to a 16-year-old, there is no difference between 35 (my age) and 56 (my mother's age). We are equally old and uncool and incapable of understanding the problems of modern teenage life. I know this, because when I was my sister's age, my mother was the age I am now, and I thought all those things about her. By the time G is 16, I'll be 43, and she'll probably wish I would move into a retirement home and take my hopelessly out-of-date advice with me. It's the way of the world.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Only in 2007

Me: I love YouTube.
G: But I didn't even say 'I love you' first.


Thursday, April 19, 2007


Some days it feels like the universe conspires to make me think about things I'd rather not.

Yesterday afternoon, we all got an e-mail that explained how X number of people per year die of sudden cardiac arrest, but this can be helped with immediate intervention, blah blah, so the company is installing defibrillators at various locations around the building for us to use in an emergency.

I thought of the paramedics working on P, and my own useless efforts to bring him back, and I nearly got sick. I don't ever want to have to try to resuscitate another person, no matter what sort of equipment I have at my disposal. Obviously I will if I have to, but given the choice I would prefer never to find myself in that situation. I had thought that by now I would have forgotten what it was like, would have started to get over it, but I haven't. It's right there beneath the surface, just waiting for the slightest scratch to expose it all over again.

I tried to go on with my day and not think about it, but the universe had other plans for me. A couple of hours later, when I was on my way to pick up G, I turned a corner and saw a fire engine stopped by the side of the road and a small group of people gathered around something on the pavement. I slowed down, and it was a middle-aged man who had collapsed and was lying there all white and limp, with his shirt torn open and two firefighters giving him CPR.

Thanks a lot, universe. I really needed that.

I hope the man ended up making it, even though it's not very likely that he did. What a crappy thing it would be to die on the dirty ground in front of a Mexican restaurant and a doughnut shop, all sprawled out for the motorists to gawk at. What a crappy thing for the family, left to imagine their father, husband, brother's last moments out on a street surrounded by strangers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

L'imbecile, c'est moi

If life has taught me one thing, it's that whenever something goes wrong and I wonder what moron is responsible, the moron will usually turn out to be me.

Case in point: Yesterday morning I got up and had no Internet access. "Crazy people, all trying to get online before work," I grumbled to myself. I then went downstairs to turn on Little Einsteins for G and discovered that the TV was out too. Oh, so it wasn't my neighbors after all; it was the cable company who had messed up. I assumed that it would get fixed at some point during the day, and went off to work, thinking that I could check my e-mail online there. But guess what? Every time I tried to log in, I got an error message that said my user name and password were wrong, even though I knew they weren't. Wow! Someone must have really blown it big-time if the Web portal was down too!

I went through the day in this state of happy denial (well, not entirely happy, because I was annoyed that I couldn't get my e-mail, but you know what I mean), and as I arrived at home, decided that I ought to check the snail-mail box. Apparently, it had been a while. The catalogues and magazines and envelopes were wedged in until they'd formed one big lump, and once I'd pulled them out, I could barely hold onto the resulting pile and unlock my front door at the same time.

At last I got inside, dropped the mail on the sofa and checked the TV and computer again. Nothing. Hmmph! I sat down to sort through the heap, and the fourth letter was from those idiots at the cable company.

"Dear Customer," it said, "your account is past due and subject to disconnection if [shockingly large amount] is not received in our office by April 16 ..."

Sigh. Once again, idiocy begins at home.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Blog posts from the edge

This week I suffered the trauma of having to buy deodorant for my 8 1/2-year-old child. I don't think I needed deodorant until I was at least 13 or 14 -- I used it before then, but only to avoid standing out in the terrifying confines of the seventh-grade girls' locker room. But G is on a much different developmental path than the agonizingly slow one I followed, and she really needs that stick of strawberry-scented Teen Spirit. It seems like a bit of a drag to have to use deodorant before you're 9, but if the third-graders at her school are any indication, she'll have company by next year.

In other news, my struggle to get a passport continues. Now, I was not only born in the United States, but in a U.S. military hospital, on a U.S. military base, where I was delivered by a colonel in the U.S. Air Force. With those qualifications, I should be more than a citizen. I should be a Super Citizen whose picture is featured on government Web sites. Sort of like "Where's Waldo?" only it would be "Where's Vanessa?" and instead of a red-and-white stocking hat, I'd have a little American flag on a stick.

However, the aforementioned military hospital screwed up my records, and as a result, my birth certificate didn't get filed until more than three years after my birth. Well, as it turns out, if you have a delayed birth certificate, you need to present supporting documentation to prove you're a citizen when applying for a passport, and I haven't got any. When I called the National Passport Information Center, the lady on the phone ran through a whole list of documents that would be acceptable: Baptismal certificate? No. Hospital birth certificate? No. School records? No. Census records? No. High-school yearbook? No.

Finally I said "Look, my parents have been divorced since 1987, we've all moved multiple times since then, and any documents that might have existed have been lost. What can I do?" She said that a parent or older sibling could submit an affidavit stating knowledge of my birth, so now I just have to locate the affidavit form -- she thought it was available online, but it isn't -- and get it signed and notarized. All I can say is, it's a darn good thing both my parents are still alive, because I'm the eldest in my family by eight years and would be out of luck if I needed a sibling to vouch for me.

Anyway, if I ever do get this passport, I'm going to have to leave the country at least four times a year to make it worth the hassle. Anyone want to buy me a ticket to Paris? I hear they sell some lovely deodorant there.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Don't try this at home, kids

As the latest in our series of helpful do-it-yourself posts, we present:

How Not to Eat Dinner

1. Buy your child pizza at the Target snack bar.
2. Come home and eat a handful of goldfish crackers. Think about making dinner for yourself.
3. Eat some more goldfish crackers and realize you aren't really that hungry.
4. Wonder why as you continue to send an entire school of goldfish crackers to their doom.
5. Tell yourself that you really should eat a proper meal.
6. Decide to have steamed broccoli and carrots.
7. While they cook, eat a leftover Easter jelly bean.
8. Eat another jelly bean.
9. Eat another jelly bean.
10. Eat all the rest of the jelly beans.
11. Eat broccoli and carrots.
12. And half a can of black olives you found in the pantry when you were getting the goldfish.
13. Give the other half-can to the child.
14. Feel sick.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


I wish I were as mellow as a cat in the sun. Unfortunately, my life is full of logistical problems and paperwork headaches and unexpected expenses at the moment. It all has the potential to work out either really well or really badly, and I won't know which it's going to be until I get there. Drat.

I've been so distracted by other things that I didn't realize until this evening, when G and I were standing in line at Borders, that I'd totally forgotten to buy anything for her Easter basket. I remember thinking about it last week and intending to take care of it at lunch one day, but I didn't, and now here we are. We're supposed to go to my mother's house tomorrow, so hopefully I can leave her with Grandma for an hour and do some lightning-fast shopping.

Speaking of G, she's just started a new series of books called Time Spies, which is along the same lines as Magic Treehouse. They seem to be cranking them out at factory speed: there have been four released since last September and another one is due out next month, which is good since she'll probably have read all the current installments by Monday. I wish she'd get into something a little bit denser that would last her longer, but she loves those series books -- they're like eating peanuts. The other books she's really excited about right now are TokyoPop manga (Agent Boo is the one she likes) and the new Time Warp Trio graphic novels. Her father, comic-book fan that he was, would be thrilled.

As for me, I'm reading Alison Weir's The Princes in the Tower, which got savaged by Amazon reviewers for being biased, but is interesting anyway. I'm planning to follow it up with a reading of Richard III, because I figure as long as you're going to read biased accounts of historical events, why not go all the way? I'm also debating reading Mark Haddon's A Spot of Bother, but it didn't really grab me when I flipped through it at the bookstore, so we'll see. I loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time -- I kept trying to get P to read it because his favorite book was The Catcher in the Rye and Curious Incident reminded me so much of it, but he never did.

I suppose I ought to go to bed now, since it's 1:33 a.m. and I have to get up in six hours. Stupid sleep, cutting into my free time. *sulk*

(Note to cat: Must you play with your fur mouse ON my bed? I know you're a mighty hunter and you want to show off your "kill" to me, but I keep throwing it across the room for a reason. Plz to be getting a clue.)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Didn't make the cut

Blog posts I have considered and rejected this evening:

I Feel Fat (But I'm Eating These Pop-Tarts Anyway)

My New Passport Photo, or Why Does Every Piece of ID I Own Make Me Look Like Lizzie Borden?

That's Some Nasty Shit: The Scary Black Gunk I Found in the Drain Last Night

Mom! Mom! Mom!, or Good God, Child, Can You Please Stop Saying My Name for Five Minutes?

Since I clearly have nothing of value to say, I'm taking the night off. See you all tomorrow.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The historian

This evening, as I was picking G up from her grandfather's office, someone said to her "So, next week is spring break. No homework!" G agreed with that enthusiastically. Then I said, half-teasing, "Hmmm, maybe I should make up some homework for you," and G got even more excited and said "Yes! History homework! Give me history homework, Mom!" Poor girl, she loves history so much and they just don't do it in second grade. If it weren't for our own reading, she'd get none at all.

I've actually been doing a bit of investigation into private schools for G. She's bored silly this year -- her teacher says she never puts out the slightest bit of effort in class, and yet she's gotten near-perfect or perfect report cards for the last two marking periods. She regularly complains about the work they do and says she'd rather learn from books, and she's asked me more than once if I can quit my job and teach her myself. Since that's not possible, I'm hoping I can find some sort of program that's more challenging for her. It's my fault she's in this position -- I'm the one who insisted on teaching her to read before she started school, and I'm the one who got her interested in history and science -- so I owe it to her to come up with a solution. I know that if she stays where she is, the work will catch up with her by fourth or fifth grade, or middle school at the latest, but it seems unfair to ask her to be bored until then. The only problem is, most of the private schools around here cost $12,000 a year, which I most emphatically cannot afford. Yikes.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

From the "flushing edge" of technology

Quick, go read about Google TiSP before it's gone!

The FAQ especially slew me. "Add eight mints and a two-liter bottle of diet soda," indeed.

I don't know if I find this so funny because of the industry I work in, or because I have the sense of humor of a four-year-old. Possibly both.