Friday, July 25, 2008

I hereby revoke your license to phone

I'm sorry, you've reached the wrong number. It also was the wrong number when you called two minutes ago. And two minutes before that. And 45 seconds before that. And six minutes before that.

In fact, I hate to tell you this, dear caller, but dialing the wrong number multiple times does not magically make it become the right number. Neither does staggering the length of time between calls, nor alternating between hanging up as soon as I answer and asking if you can speak to "Joe."

No, you can't speak to "Joe."

You can't speak to him now and you can't speak to him tomorrow, and you can't speak to him in two minutes, either. At no time can you dial this number and reach "Joe," because "Joe" is not here. I've had this phone number for eleven and a half years, and "Joe" has never once been here. You can speak to "Vanessa," and if you have a crystal ball and a little patience I might be able to put you in touch with "Pete," but you cannot, no way, no how, under any circumstances, speak to "Joe."

On second thought, I suppose if you really want me to, I can lower my voice an octave and pretend to be him, but I don't think you'll like what I have to say on his behalf.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008


We've already established that G will engage in a relentless campaign of persecution to wake me up on a weekend morning. So why is it that if I happen to doze off at 7 p.m. on a Wednesday night, I will not wake up until the phone rings* an hour and a half later, only to find myself alone, except for a random cat napping on my bed, because G has gone downstairs to watch television?

What's wrong with watching television at dawn on Saturday? What, I ask you?

*It was a solicitor. It always is.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bad cakes

I laughed so hard at this blog that G got out of bed to see what all the noise was about.

The one that got me started

The one that pushed me over the edge

What the heck?

What the heck? (part II)

My stomach hurts, and I have tears running down my face. Make it stop! LOLOLOLOLOL

Thursday, July 17, 2008

So that's the key

I never thought my water-allergic child would beg to take a shower, but after an hour of fencing on the upper floor of a converted warehouse on a hot July evening while wearing a chest protector, a canvas jacket and a padded mesh mask? She was all over it. I think that's the most I've ever seen her sweat in her life until now.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Moving forward, looking back

Sometimes I wonder why there's such an urgency about "moving on" after losing a partner to death. Really, it's a source of obsession for widowed and non-widowed alike. On one side, people are wondering Shouldn't I be moving on by now? Have I moved on enough? What can I do to move on more?, and on the other side, their friends and family are saying disapprovingly, Stop talking about your husband/wife so much; that's in the past. Why do you still have photos of him/her up? You need to get out there and start dating. Move on move on MOVE ON.

But the strange thing is, this fanaticism seems limited specifically to spouses. Just as an example, my grandfather died six years ago this autumn, and I can still remember the scent of his aftershave, the blue cardigan he wore when he took me out for walks, the crabapple tree in his back yard. I can remember touring Old Town in Albuquerque with him and my grandmother, marveling over the mellow gleam of the copper-and-turquoise jewelry spread out on Indian blankets, eating sopaipillas at the Mexican restaurants and licking honey off my fingers.

If I sat and reminisced out loud about all that, people would smile and say what wonderful memories of my grandfather I have, and how much I must have loved him. No one would look uncomfortable or tell me that I need to let him go and stop dwelling on the past, and they certainly wouldn't ask why I don't want to look for a new grandfather.

Yet as fond of him as I was, my grandfather still didn't play a tenth of the role in my life that P did. And so I have to wonder why I should try to erase one man from my history when it's all right to keep the other one in it. Why is it supposed to be unhealthy for me to remember clothes P wore, or how he smelled (fabulous) or things we did together? Why should I "get rid of" P's possessions when no one would bat an eye if I had keepsakes that belonged to my grandfather? Why is someone I saw for a week or so every few years irreplaceable, while someone who slept in my bed every night for more than a decade needs to be shuffled off ASAP to make room for someone else?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that it isn't possible to get caught up in someone's death -- anyone's death -- so deeply that it interferes with living the life you still have left. If, two years after the fact, I were unable to get up in the morning and carry out my responsibilities, that would be a problem. If I had a creepy shrine to P in my house and made visitors light a candle and kneel in front of it -- well, that would just be weird. (I can imagine P tearing his hair out and groaning "What the hell's wrong with you?" over that.) But to talk about him? Remember him? Give him the respect he deserves for being the man he was?

I'll never understand it.

Oh Doctor, my Doctor

I finished watching the third series of the new Doctor Who recently, and I've decided that the Doctor would be the perfect friend-with-benefits for me. He could pop in, whisk me off through time and space for weeks on end, then return me five minutes after I left and fly away again, rather than hanging around to complicate my life. He doesn't want to get permanently involved with anyone, and neither do I; he's emotionally unavailable, and God knows I've got that down to a science. Also, he's very cute in a geeky-cool way that reminds me a lot of P, who was also on the skinny side, owned a pair of square black-framed specs and enjoyed a nice suit.

I like this idea so much that the last time G and I painted pictures together, I painted one of the TARDIS, which is the Doctor's spaceship/time machine:

G hates the show and refuses to be in the same room while I'm watching it, so she was not impressed by my choice of subject matter ("Why don't you paint a unicorn instead?" she suggested), but I had a marvelous time. I hope this isn't a sign that I've completely lost it. Although if I do completely lose it, I can probably convince myself that I'm traveling in time and space anyway, so I guess I win either way.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sexism is alive and well and living in California

G had her second fencing class last night. She was feeling uncomfortable beforehand because it had been all boys the previous week, but I gave her a pep talk (and mentioned that one way or the other, she was going to finish the session because I've already paid for it) and she sucked it up and went.

At this week's class, the instructors split off the 14-and-under kids from the older teenagers and adults, so it was G and nine boys who mostly looked to be in the 11-13 range. Luckily, because of her height, only a couple of them had any real size advantage over her, and she was taller than a few, which I think helped her confidence. The instructor who was leading the group told them all to pair up right away, and of course no one wanted to catch girl cooties (oh, just wait a few years, kids), so she ended up with a leftover boy who hadn't gotten another partner.

I'll be honest here and say that I was about to wet my pants with anxiety at this point. They were supposed to take turns practicing their advances and retreats, with one of them being the attacker and the other one being the defender, and G was the attacker first. She gets intimidated pretty easily, and I was afraid that she was going to be so overwhelmed that she wouldn't be able to make the first move, but I underestimated her. With a look on her face that suggested she was competing for Olympic gold, she steeled herself and plunged into it ... and did a fantastic job. "Proud" doesn't even begin to describe how I felt.

So as I was sitting there all thrilled, the man next to me leaned over and asked, "Which one is yours?" Now, I had met this guy at the last session and disliked him on sight. He's a burly, thick-necked man with an aggressive mustache who waves his BlackBerry around as if it's an extension of his tool -- Look at me! I am important and must be available at all times! -- and signals instructions to his son from the sidelines in classic obnoxious-sports-dad style. Twenty bucks says that he was asking me this question so he could determine whether my kid was likely to outshine his kid, and then feel superior about his assessment.

"Mine is the girl," I said, and do you know what he did? He smirked. He smirked at me and turned back to watch without saying a word.

Let me tell you, if thoughts could kill, he would have been a smoking hole in the floor of the fencing school's balcony. I wanted to say "Hey, jackass, my girl has more balls than your son just for walking through the door. It's nothing to him to be here with all these boys, but it's a huge deal for her, and she's out there doing it anyway. Give her three weeks and she'll stick him to the wall like a butterfly!" Obviously I couldn't, so I just seethed quietly and hoped his BlackBerry would explode in his pocket.

The class moved on, and after a while they came to a break and all the boys went off to horse around in a corner, leaving G on her own. She took the opportunity to stand in front of the mirror with her foil extended and practice her lunges (and quite well too, I might add), at which point Mr. Smirky commented, "Well, it looks like she's getting into it."

"Yes," I said, "it does."

"Does she have brothers?" he asked.

"She's an only child," I said, frost forming on every word, and he made some feeble comment about how she could "keep them in line" if she did. That's right, Mr. Smirky. And you too, if you don't look out.

Anyway, this did not spoil my evening or my total pride in G, who actually had a great time and asked to stay behind so she could practice attacking the wall target a few more times. I know she still wishes she weren't the only girl (I pointed out to her that there are other girls in the fencing club, just not in this particular class) but I think she'll be all right. I hope the boys manage to get over themselves and include her a bit more, though, because it pains me to see her hanging back at a distance while they're all clumped together. Barring that, I hope she turns into such a good fencer that they're all scared of her. As Machiavelli once said, it's better to be feared than loved, if one must choose.

Can't I just hit fast-forward?

It's 7:22 on Friday morning and I already wish today were over.

This can't bode well for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Books and bites

Like another member of her family who shall remain nameless (cough), G borders on obsessive when she finds a new book series she likes. Right now, it's Warriors, which is about mystical clans of feral cats. She mowed through the first book over the weekend and finished the second one tonight, and she's reminded me no less than 10 times that we need to go to the bookstore and procure the third installment ASAP. It's a 15-book series, and at this rate, she'll have gone through them all before school starts back up. Luckily, she also loves to reread, so she'll probably just begin again at that point. I'm starting to think I should read them myself, though, because she wants to discuss them with someone, and it's hard to knowledgeably debate the merits of "warriors" vs. "kittypets" when I have only a vague idea of what those terms mean.

In not-so-great news, we found out a couple of weeks ago that G has a small cavity in one of her back teeth, and this morning we attempted to get it filled, "attempted" being the key word. G tried, she really did, but she gagged every time the dentist put her fingers in her mouth, and she couldn't force herself to hold still for the Novocaine injection. At last, she was shaking and crying and it clearly wasn't going to happen, so we gave up for the day.

The dentist, who was very nice and patient, recommended going to a pediatric dentist because they use nitrous oxide to help phobic kids calm down -- which is great, except that our insurance doesn't cover treatment by a pediatric dentist for anyone over 7. If you're 9, you have to suck it up and go to the grownup dentist, or else pay out of pocket. Needless to say, I think this is supremely stupid (hello, last time I checked a 9-year-old was still a kid), but I can't just sit around and let G's tooth rot away, either. I've had dental insurance my entire adult life, so I have no idea how much anything really costs -- how much should I expect to pay? $200? $300? More?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

And on a triple word score

I have just spent twenty minutes working out my next move in one of my seven concurrent Scrabulous games. The friend I'm playing lives in England and is probably still asleep in her snug little bed while I plot and plan and move my Q and V around the board for maximum effect.

I love the Internet!

Twelfth anniversary

July 6, 1996