Thursday, March 27, 2008


I was attacked by a vampire on Tuesday evening. I knew I shouldn't have been out at sunset, but I had to take G to her Girl Scout meeting, and it was only for 10 minutes, and I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, and ...

Bam. Mosquito bite on the arm.

I'm super-sensitive to mosquitoes, and my encounter with Count Bugula left me not just with an ordinary bite, but with a 4-, maybe 5-inch-wide circle of hot, red, swollen puffiness just below my right elbow. By yesterday afternoon, I was ready to crawl out of my skin from the itching -- it itched so much that I had phantom itching all the way up to my shoulder -- and I think I may have horrified a friend by expressing a desire to put a lit cigarette out on the bite itself. Hey, anything to take my mind off the itch for a minute or two.

So on my way home from work, I stopped at the drugstore and looked at all the insect-bite ointments, hoping they might have one that contained morphine. At last, I picked out something called "Chiggerex," mainly because the label promised that I could apply it as often as needed, and I was pretty sure I was going to need it a lot. Never mind that "one to three times a day" business; I was prepared to marry Chiggerex and have its babies if it would make me feel better. The instant I got to the car, I tore the safety seal off and slathered the stuff all over my poor insulted flesh before I even put the key in the ignition, and ... yeah. It helped for about five minutes, and then I was miserable again. Oh, Chiggerex, you heartbreaker, you.

Since then, I've tried baking-soda plasters, cold compresses, white vinegar, and pretty much every other home remedy known to mankind, and none of them have done diddly squat. I woke up in a frenzy of itching at 5:30 this morning and I really, really, really hope that doesn't happen again tonight. That was bad. (But the moment earlier today when I gave in to temptation and let myself scratch the living heck out of it for a full 30 seconds? That was freaking orgasmic.)

Anyway, if it's not better by tomorrow, I guess I'm going to have to go back and look for some Benadryl cream -- I didn't get that the first time because I already take Claritin for my spring allergies, and I didn't want to start randomly mixing over-the-counter drugs. I purposely skipped the Claritin today, though, so hopefully it should be out of my system. All things considered, I'd a lot rather sneeze than itch.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Insert title here

Yesterday was a happy day for G, who finally got to fulfill her dream of donating a full set of Spiderwick Chronicles books to her school's library. She asked me some time ago if she could do this -- she loves the books so much that she wants to share them with everyone she knows -- and I said she would have to ask the librarian if we were allowed to make a donation. The librarian said yes, so we bought the books last weekend and she took them to school on Monday. When she came home, she proudly reported that they'd already been labeled and were on the shelf ready to be checked out. I'm glad she's the kind of girl who gets excited over books; she may be almost alone among her friends now, but it'll serve her well when she gets older.

In other news, not-yet-fourth-grader G has already picked out her future college. This all started when we saw College Road Trip, which is about a girl who wants to go to school at Georgetown, but first has to overcome her dad's objections because it's 700 miles from home. G was troubled by the idea that she, too, might have to move across the country to go to college, until I mentioned that there's a very nice university only 20 minutes away. The farmers' market we went to on Saturday happens to be across the street from that university, so while we were walking through the parking lot, I pointed it out to her. She asked some questions about where she would live and whether she could study writing, and then on the way back to the car, announced, "Okay, I've made up my mind. I'm going there."

"Well, you definitely can if you want to," I said, "but it's going to be another eight years before you have to apply to colleges, and you might feel different by then."

"Nope. I'm going there," she said firmly.

I actually wouldn't be surprised if she did go that route: she's always been a homebody, and I can easily picture her wanting to stay close by, which of course would be fine with me. I hope she'll do a semester abroad, though, because one of my biggest regrets is that I didn't take advantage of my first school's "summer in England" program when I had the chance. At the time, I thought it was too expensive at $1,500, which I now realize was ridiculous -- where else can you spend 9 weeks in another country for that price? I should've sucked it up, taken out a loan and gone. Oh well, live and learn.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Like a squeaky gate

Went to the local farmers' market this morning, which would have been a lot of fun if G had not kept moaning "My legs hurt! I'm thirsty! The sun is hot! This bag is too heavy! I want to go home!" I don't think we were there more than 20 minutes altogether, but I did manage to get strawberries, asparagus, Pink Lady apples, clementines, and a bouquet of flowers. Oh yes, and a cold drink for Debbie Downer, who at least could not complain while she was drinking it.

She seems to be in that sort of mood today, because she finished her lunch before I did and then hung around the table, grousing, "Are you done yet? I'm bored!" until I told her to go find something to do and let me eat in peace. She wants to go to the park this afternoon, and I'm feeling so uncharitable right now that I'm tempted to take her on some really dull errands instead. I'm sure I could think of something excruciating if I tried -- shopping for curtains and getting the oil changed immediately come to mind as things I hated when I was her age. Or maybe I could just send her upstairs to clean her room and weed out her drawers. Muahahaha.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

En garde!

How do people manage to have their kids in evening activities and still keep their lives running? G has had two evening events this week -- movie night and Girl Scouts -- and it's thrown our whole routine into chaos. Neither of us has eaten a real dinner since Monday, my bedroom is full of clean-but-unfolded laundry, the cats are acting sulky and neglected, and there's a shoe drift forming near the front door. I can't imagine what it would be like if she were in a sport that required regular weeknight practices.

Speaking of that, after nine years of total disinterest in any sort of athletic endeavor, G has decided that she wants to do a sport. Of course, since she's G, the sport she's excited about isn't your run-of-the-mill softball or basketball, it's fencing. I dutifully checked online, but was unable to find any fencing classes that accept students under 12, which ticked her off to no end.

Me: Sorry, kiddo, I can't find anything for someone your age.
G: Grrr!
Me: Is there another sport you'd like to try?
G (decisively): Archery.
Me: Archery? Can't you just play soccer like all the other kids?
G: No. I like being different.
Me: I know you do, and it's a cool thing about you, but it also makes it kind of hard on Mom, you know?
G: I still want to fence.

Okay, D'Artagnan. I'll see what I can do.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Day in the life

* Alarm goes off.
* Snooze.
* Snooze.
* Get out of bed.
* Wake a very grumpy and reluctant G.
* Go downstairs and make G's waffles.
* Go back upstairs and tell G to go eat the waffles before they get soggy.
* Take shower.
* Go to the top of the stairs, wrapped in a towel, and remind G to use deodorant.
* Get dressed.
* Go back to the top of the stairs and inform G that she is not, in fact, "getting dressed" unless she's actually putting clothes on her body.
* Get G's lunch out of the refrigerator.
* Send G upstairs to brush her teeth.
* Leave for school.
* Get delayed by accident in intersection near home.
* Drop G off just in time to make it through the gate.
* Return home to dry hair and put on makeup.
* Leave for work.
* Meeting.
* E-mail.
* Work.
* At lunchtime, go to Target and buy remaining items for G's Easter basket, because I am not going to get caught flat-footed the way I did last year.
* Meeting.
* Eat sandwich at desk.
* More e-mail.
* More work.
* At 5:30, G calls with a reminder that it's Pajama Movie Night at her school and the movie starts in half an hour.
* Leave work and zoom to supermarket because everyone is supposed to bring a dessert to Pajama Movie Night.
* Buy ready-made brownies from the bakery.
* Zoom home and get G's pajamas, blanket and pillow.
* Hide Easter-basket stuff in high kitchen cupboard
* Collect G and wait while she changes into PJs.
* Go back home to get Nancy, her Webkinz tiger, whom I forgot during my first stop.
* Drive to school and arrive only 15 minutes late.
* Set G up in the multipurpose room with her blanket and some food.
* Go outside to attend PTA meeting at the lunch tables.
* Volunteer to help the PTA with writing news items to place in the local paper. (OMG, what was I thinking?)
* Go inside and finish watching the movie with G.
* Get homework pass excusing G from doing homework for tomorrow. (You get one of these if you attend a PTA family night.)
* Go home.
* Scroll through old videocassettes, looking for a blank one so G can use the video camera.
* Fail to find one.
* Send G to brush her teeth.
* Put G to bed over protests of "I can't sleep; I'm too hyper!"
* G falls asleep.
* Go downstairs and wonder whether 9:45 p.m. is too late to eat dinner.
* Have some microwaved soup.
* Feed cats.
* Pack tomorrow's lunch.
* Decide to forgo exercise for the evening, as the day itself was a workout.
* Bed.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Good eats

A friend recently pointed me to Vegan Yum Yum's recipe for hasperat, which is an imaginary food that VYY's author heard about on Star Trek and decided to reproduce. Since I'm both a vegetarian and a massive sci-fi dork, I had to make it for dinner tonight. I substituted regular white vinegar because I didn't have the recommended rice vinegar on hand, and I didn't reproduce the pretty grill marks from VYY's photo, but man, was it delicious. I also used spicy red pepper hummus because I like my food hot (my motto: if it don't make you sweat, it ain't worth eatin'), but it would probably be just as good with plain hummus if you're a delicate flower who can't tolerate spices. Mmmmm.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Bathroom philosophy

Graffiti spotted in women's restroom stall at the bookstore:

In bright blue felt-tip pen:


Below that, in blue ballpoint and different handwriting:

Who are you?

Below that, in black felt-tip and yet another handwriting style:


I might add that all this was written at seated eye level, and that if these people had time to find a pen and scrawl a note, they were probably seated for a while, if you know what I mean. I guess it's a more sanitary way to pass the time than bringing the merchandise in there to read. (G would recommend the thesaurus.)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Signs you are raising a nerd (in the best possible way)

G has been playing with her hieroglyphic stencil.

G: Want to see what I wrote in hieroglyphics?
Me: Sure.
G: *points to three rows of characters*
Me: Oh, that's cool. What does it say?
G: This one says 'OMG,' this one says 'J/K,' and this one says 'LOL.'
Me: Ancient Egyptian text messaging?
G: Yeah.

Fifteen minutes later, a panicked cry from upstairs ...

G: Mom! Mom! Where's my thesaurus?
Me: It's probably on your bookshelf.


Me: Why do you need a thesaurus?
G: To read while I'm in the bathroom.

Dinner with the h8ers

Last Friday, after I picked G up, we went to Barnes & Noble to feed my shameful addiction to British decorating magazines. (More on that later.) I got a few new issues, and G chose a copy of National Geographic Kids and yet another Spiderwick Chronicles-related book for herself.

As we headed out of the store, she asked if we could have dinner at the Italian restaurant across the plaza, and I said we could. I'd call it a "nice casual" place -- the tablecloths and napkins are real, but the food itself isn't too expensive, and we often eat lunch there either before or after seeing a movie at the theater upstairs. However, it seems the ambiance is a bit different on a Friday night, because when we walked in, the place was candlelit and packed with 30ish couples on dates and groups of people in their 40s and 50s, quite a few of whom gave G an extremely disapproving look as we were seated.

This made me angry. It would have been one thing if I'd arrived with a crying baby, or with a couple of toddlers and no one to help me manage them, but G is nine, and there's only one of her. She's not going to scream or throw food on the floor or careen around the restaurant like a maniac. Even if she were three or four instead of nine, it wouldn't necessarily mean that she was going to do any of those things. But our fellow diners' reaction, if it could have been put into words, was still: Ugh, a CHILD! Take it away before it ruins my meal!

I loathe automatic prejudice against kids, and that's exactly what it is -- prejudice. There is not one whit of difference between making assumptions about someone because they're black or Asian or in a wheelchair or whatever, and making assumptions about them because they're under a certain age. Sure, some kids don't behave well in restaurants. Maybe it's because they haven't developed the ability to sit still yet. Maybe it's because they're tired, or hungry, or uncomfortable. Maybe it's because their parents are flakes who let them run wild. But just because some kids are disruptive, it doesn't mean all kids are, and unless the kid in question has just been dragged to the table by one arm, screaming and flailing, there's no way to know at a glance. So how about a little benefit of the doubt?

Anyway, G was totally fine, of course -- she read her magazine quietly while we waited for the food, put her napkin in her lap when she was reminded, and ate her linguine as neatly as anyone can eat long, sauce-covered pasta. So take that, kid-haters! I'd rather have dinner with her than with you any day.