Friday, October 24, 2008

Not quite, kid

Me: Grandma is going to pick you up from school today.
G: Why?
Me: She'd like you to spend some time with her at her house.
G: Remember when you left me there?
Me: Left you there ...? You mean two weeks ago when I went to get my hair done after work?
G: Yes.
Me: And I told you in advance that I was going to do it?
G: Yes.
Me: And I picked you up at eight p.m.?
G (dramatically): Yes!
Me: I hardly think that leaving you with your grandmother for two and a half hours constitutes child abandonment.
G: It did to me.
Me: Oh good grief.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

From the sublime to the ridiculous

In the women's restroom where I work, there's a toilet stall that has a "Closed for Repairs" sign on it about one day out of every three. It's getting to the point where I will never go into that stall even when it appears to be functioning just fine, because the recurring nature of the problem makes me suspicious that it might recur again at any minute.

What if the toilet won't flush?

What if flushing causes a geyser of something awful to erupt all the way up to the ceiling?

What if there's a boa constrictor living in the pipes and it comes out twice a week to feed?

And today is one of those days?

It just doesn't seem to be worth the risk, and it isn't as if there aren't plenty of other stalls to choose from. But I do confess to being curious about what might be behind that closed stall door with its handwritten sign scribbled in black marker. I keep thinking maybe I'll peek in, but I've seen a lot of horror movies, and every time someone says Oh, I'll just take a quick look and starts reaching for a door handle, you know they're doomed. I don't want to be found sprawled out on the restroom floor with an expression of terror on my face and a mysterious puddle all around me.

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Poems I Love

1. Elizabeth Bishop, One Art

2. Robert Frost, Design

3. Christina Rossetti, Goblin Market

4. W.H. Auden, Musee des Beaux Arts

5. Anne Sexton, Her Kind

6. Anne Sexton, The Truth the Dead Know

7. Garrett Hongo, The Legend

8. Theodore Roethke, The Waking (possibly my favorite poem ever)

9. William Shakespeare, Fear No More the Heat o' the Sun

10. Wilfred Owen, Dulce et Decorum Est

11. Charles Baudelaire, Be Drunk

12. Pablo Neruda, Love for this Book

13. Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Lady of Shalott

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Yes, I know poetry isn't everyone's thing, but I love it, so much that I even took a couple of poetry-writing workshops in college. (Meet my professor, who was lovely and very encouraging and would probably be disappointed that I haven't written a single poem since I graduated.)

If you have a favorite poem that isn't listed here, please leave a link in the comments. I'd love to read it!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Incomprehensible homework of the week

Part of G's homework this week was to find antonyms for her spelling words. This worked fine for words like "scoundrel" and "allow," but became a problem when she got to words like "brownie" and "towel."

What the hell is the opposite of a towel?

I made her show me the actual assignment, thinking that perhaps her teacher had just said to find antonyms for words that had them. Nope. One antonym for each word on the list. So we got out the dictionary and thesaurus, but unsurprisingly, even Webster and Roget didn't have an antonym for "towel." BECAUSE THERE ISN'T ONE.

I'm going to be very curious to see what sort of mark she gets for writing down "being wet" in that space.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In terms of cake

Let's say, just for the fun of it, that you're a huge fan of chocolate cake. You've loved chocolate cake your entire life and have never even wanted to try any other sort of dessert. In fact, you love chocolate cake so much that every Sunday, you go to your favorite bakery to buy a whole one, just for you. As long as you've got your chocolate cake, nothing else matters.

Then, one Sunday, there's a problem at the bakery.

"Sorry," says the bakery clerk, "but we haven't got any chocolate cake. What's more, there won't be any more chocolate cake ever again."

"But chocolate cake is all I want," you say.

"Why don't you have some strawberry cheesecake instead?" asks the clerk.

"No ... no, I don't think so. I'm really not interested in anything but chocolate cake."

"Look, lady, I told you, there's no more chocolate cake anywhere in the world," he says. "Try the strawberry cheesecake. Strawberry cheesecake is just as good as chocolate cake, only in a different way."

So you buy the strawberry cheesecake and take it home, and you have a slice. And there's nothing wrong with it as such, but it isn't what you really want. It isn't chocolate cake. You try another slice, to see if maybe it'll grow on you, but it still isn't chocolate cake. And pretty soon, you're feeling disappointed, not to mention a little bit sick, and wondering why you bothered.

Well, you think, I'll save the rest until the kids get home. They haven't had any sort of cake in a long time. It'll be good for them to have some. But when the kids get home and you offer them a piece of strawberry cheesecake -- "It's yummy!" -- they don't want it.

"We don't like strawberry cheesecake," they say. "Can't we have chocolate cake?"

"I wish you could," you tell them, "but chocolate cake is gone, so we all have to learn to like strawberry cheesecake instead."

So you keep strawberry cheesecake around for a while, hoping that it will eventually fit into your family, but it never does. And it isn't strawberry cheesecake's fault, not at all. It has a lot of good things to offer to strawberry-cheesecake fans -- a nice, crumbly graham-cracker crust, a rich creamy texture, juicy strawberries. But no matter what, strawberry cheesecake will never be chocolate cake, and you will never really be satisfied.

... Now, I just need to print this up on a little card and hand it to the next person who asks me "Why aren't you dating yet?"

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fun with kids

An ad for the My Little Pony Live: World's Biggest Tea Party stage show comes on television ...

Me: A-HA! I am so taking you to that!
G (horrified): Aaagh! Nooooo!
Me: Yes! For your 10th birthday in January.
G: Nooooo! I want a sleepover for my birthday!
Me (evilly): Look, I'm Googling right now to see how much tickets are.
G: Aaaarghhh!
G: I am going to ignore you and watch iCarly.
Me: Heh heh heh.

Preteen torture ... it should be an Olympic sport. :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yeah? Um, yeah.

This evening, while I was getting my roots touched up, the stylist asked me the dreaded question:

"Are you married?"

Even after two-plus years, this one always throws me off my stride. My automatic impulse is to say yes, because I was married for most of my adult life to this point, and while I may not have an actual living breathing husband these days, I certainly don't think of myself as single. In fact, I doubt that it's possible ever to go back to being really, truly single in the way a never-married person is single, whether you're divorced or widowed or your spouse has packed a bag and left no forwarding address.

So when I'm asked this question, I have to bite down on the "yes" that wants to pop out of my mouth, and at the same time, I have to decide exactly how I'm going to explain my status. Sometimes I say "I'm widowed," and sometimes I say "My husband died." Sometimes, if I'm asked "What does your husband do?" rather than "Are you married?" I go subtle and say "When he was alive, he was a stay-at-home dad," and see if they work it out. Whatever I say, I have to say it quickly, or else there's an awkward pause, and that just makes it worse.

Tonight, what I chose to say was "My husband died a couple of years ago," and what I got back was possibly the strangest response I've ever received to that revelation. Without missing a beat, the stylist said "Yeah?" as if I had just told her that I liked cupcakes or that I had a golden retriever at home, and then she went on painting eye-watering chemical slop all over my hair. On the one hand, this was a relief because it meant we didn't have to have the I'm sorry/That's OK/I didn't know/You couldn't have/How old was he?/Thirty-six conversation that usually comes next. On the other hand, her total lack of surprise made me nervous because I wasn't sure she'd heard me right. Had I mumbled the "died" part? Had she heard "died" but mentally translated it into "divorced?" Was she going to ask a follow-up question that would make me have to repeat myself?

As it turns out, she must have heard, because she didn't utter another word on the topic. I was on edge for the rest of the hour I spent in her chair, though. Why do people insist on asking that question, anyway? I don't think I've ever asked anyone if they're married or not -- if they are, either they have a ring on, or they say something that makes it obvious, or both. But it seems to be a standard conversational gambit for the rest of the world, especially for hairstylists. They must teach them to ask about it at hairstylist school, somewhere between "Shampooing 101" and "Achieving Colors Not Found In Nature."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


You know what's wrong with weekdays? It isn't that we have to go to school and work. I don't mind that. (Much.) It's that when we get home, the entire evening is consumed with the task of preparing to do it all again the next day. After a while, home starts to feel less like a place to relax and enjoy life, and more like a refueling station where we plug ourselves in to power up during the off cycle. Don't bother me, I'm in sleep mode now. Come back at 0700 hours when the indicator light is green.

It wasn't always like this, you know. P and I used do all sorts of things on weekday evenings -- play with G, take her to the park if it wasn't dark yet, wander around the mall, sometimes even (gasp!) see a movie. We could do this because while I was at work, he took care of all the cleaning and laundry and homework and kid bathing, so when I got home, all that was left to do was make dinner and get G ready for bed. The hours in between were gloriously free to do whatever seemed like the most fun. Now those hours are when I try to accomplish everything that P did over the course of an entire day, plus prod G through whatever she's supposed to be doing, and it isn't even slightly fun for either of us.

I'd love to recapture just a bit of what our evenings were like when P was alive, but then there's a lot I'd love to recapture from when P was alive. I miss some of the tiniest, most ridiculous things, like walking around together to close all the blinds and lock the doors before bed, or telling him that no, you do not need to buy two kinds of soda, three kinds of juice, and four different flavors of Gatorade at the grocery store. (Gatorade tastes like sweat to me, but P loved it.) I guarantee that my weekdays, and all my other days too, would be better if he were here.