Thursday, December 31, 2009

As long as it's not a flaming one

G: Mom, can I enter this Spongebob Squarepants contest?
Me: Is it on the official Nick site?
G: Uh huh.
Me: Yeah, you can.
G: Thanks. *types*
Me: What's the prize?
G: I have no idea.
Me: Why are you entering then? What if you win and they send you a bag of poo?
G: Why would Nick send me a bag of poo?
Me: I don't know, but if you don't read the details, anything's possible.

Things you don't see every day

While driving earlier, I happened to glance to the right and saw an older woman (70ish) with one of those wheeled wire baskets that people take when they walk to the supermarket. The unusual part: she was running with it, pushing the empty basket in front of her like a jogging stroller. She was going so fast that by the time I said "Hey, look!" to G, she was gone.

We happened to be on my way to visit my mother, who is in town for the night, so when we got to her hotel, she and I brainstormed some reasons for a senior citizen to be hauling ass down the street with a shopping basket on New Year's Eve. My favorite was her suggestion that the woman had knocked down another old lady and stolen the basket from her, and was trying to make a getaway. Wild old women! What sort of geriatric hijinks will they come up with next?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The year in review

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before? Lived in this house. Ate a lychee. (Never again!) Um ... that's all I can think of. I need to be more adventurous in 2010.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I didn't make specific resolutions this year. I'm planning to make a big five-year list of goals within the next few days, so we'll see how well I do with those.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? We're not very close, but one of P's cousins had a little boy called Landon.

4. Did anyone close to you die? No, thank God.

5. What countries did you visit? None.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? More money and free time would be good, but realistically, I'd like more cooperation from G in day-to-day life. I should not have to fight with an 11-year-old over basic tasks like showering and brushing teeth.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? ... You know, I can't think of any. I'm probably missing something huge.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Keeping all the plates spinning at work and home.

9. What was your biggest failure? I let both of us get severely over-scheduled this autumn.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I had to have an emergency root canal in April. It was excruciating.

11. What was the best thing you bought? G's laptop -- it's helped her with schoolwork, provided her with hours of entertainment, and freed up MY laptop for my own use.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Hm, not sure.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? The balloon boy's parents. What a pair of tools.

14. Where did most of your money go? Housing, food, various bills. On the entertainment side, books and going to the movies.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Nothing really.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? Boom Boom Pow by the Black Eyed Peas.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer? About the same in all three categories.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Traveling

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Procrastinating

20. How did you spend Christmas? At home with G and then visiting relatives.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009? Nope

22. What was your favorite TV program? I don't really watch TV, but I did like Primeval on BBC America.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I don't think I really hate anyone. Dislike, yes, but not hate.

24. What was the best book you read? Un Lun Dun by China Mieville. I'm also finally reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which P bought me for Christmas six years ago, and enjoying it.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? I don't think I made any new discoveries, but I remembered how much I like Peter Gabriel, who somehow keeps writing good songs even after 30-plus years.

26. What did you want and get? A bigger place to live.

27. What did you want and not get? A new digital camera.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? An Education

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I went to work and then took G to a Girl Scout meeting. I was 38.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? More free time.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? LOL! I don't think I've ever had a "personal fashion concept" in my life. I did wear a lot more dresses this year, especially in the summer.

32. What kept you sane? The sheer force of my iron will.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Either David Tennant or Liam Neeson.

34. What political issue stirred you the most? Health care

35. Who did you miss? P, of course.

36. Who was the best new person you met? I don't think I've met anyone at all this year, outside of work.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009. How to identify and eradicate lice on a child's head. :)

That's a wrap

It was a surprisingly good Christmas. G loved her gifts and the money she raked in from relatives. I actually got a few small presents of my own, which was unexpected but nice. We went to Mass at my brother-in-law's ritzy church in Santa Monica, where a rather well-known actress tried and failed to take our reserved second-row seats before we got there. (Sorry, [famous name]. Hope it wasn't too crowded for you out in the standing-room-only vestibule.) My other brother-in-law and I went to see Sherlock Holmes and loved it. And no one fought with anyone else, or if they did, they did it where I couldn't hear them.

Tomorrow G and I are taking the Amtrak train up to Santa Barbara for the day, which should be fun. I just checked the weather forecast and there's a 60-percent chance that it won't rain (how's that for optimism? LOL) but we'll bring umbrellas just in case. I'm actually looking forward to the ride itself more than anything; I love traveling on trains, and it will be nice to sit back and read a book and not worry about flat tires and crazy drivers. Then on Thursday, my mother will be in town for New Year's Eve and we're scheduled to have a late lunch and do a little shopping with her. It should be a nice, quiet end to the year.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Yet more kid art



She certainly didn't get her artistic ability from me - I can't draw a damn thing!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pass the jam please

Every year since P died, one of the things that's bothered me most is not having any presents to open on Christmas morning. It's not as if I need anyone to buy me presents - if I see a book or a knickknack or a pair of earrings I like, I usually buy it for myself then and there. I have enough perfume and shower gel to scent half the city; my kitchen is overflowing with pans and gadgets I hardly use; and if I want to watch movies I can borrow them from Netflix. Still, I never fail to feel a little sorry for myself as I sit on the floor, bleary-eyed and empty-handed, watching G tear the shiny paper off her gifts. I love seeing her happy and excited, of course; that undercurrent of dejection is an instinctual thing, programmed sometime in my own childhood, when being overlooked by Santa would have been as bad as having your birthday forgotten.

Last year I did get a present a little later on Christmas Day, while we were visiting a relative's house. It was a variety pack of Knotts Berry Farm jam, wrapped, but with no ribbon or tag, and it was very clearly one of those gifts that people buy in bulk and keep on hand in case someone turns up unexpectedly and they haven't got anything to give them. The funny part was that I was actually pleased to receive it, because hey! A package to unwrap! If you've ever seen the Peanuts strip where Schroeder berates Violet for giving Charlie Brown a used Valentine, and then Charlie Brown interrupts him and says "I'll take it," well, that was me and my box of jam.

So, with Christmas a week away, I'm mentally preparing myself for yet another holiday in which the best I can hope for is nine different flavors of jam. (It was good jam, by the way. I just finished eating it all a couple of months ago.) I could buy myself a present and wrap it up, of course. I wouldn't even have to spend my own money, since my mother sent me a check earlier this week with instructions to buy something for myself and G. But it wouldn't be the same feeling as getting up in the morning and having surprise packages to open, with presents inside that were chosen just for me. Spoiled? Selfish? Maybe, but there it is.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The scent of paranoia

Today I took a day off to go Christmas shopping while G was at school. This is the first year since 2005 that I've done any serious Christmas shopping, and I had forgotten that my fellow human beings start losing their veneer of civilization the day after Thanksgiving, only to become downright feral by mid-December. But they do. Holy crap.

So, off I went to spend money and watch altercations between my fellow shoppers, including a pair of very large ladies who nearly came to blows when one of them backed her electric scooter into the other's electric scooter, and a mother who was yelling "DAMN IT, ISABELLA, COME ON, I'M GETTING A HEADACHE" at her three-year-old, who didn't appear to be doing anything particularly awful. Although having had a three-year-old once, I imagine it was probably the breaking point in a long day of frustration.

Anyway, after two hours of that, I was starving and had to pee, so I left to get lunch at Rubio's and use their restroom. I collected my order and went back to my car, and as soon as I slid into the driver's seat and closed the door, I was hit by a powerful wave of men's cologne. It's been a couple of weeks since a guy has ridden in my car, and then it was a friend who doesn't wear that stuff, so this was disturbing.

In rapid succession, these thoughts flashed through my mind:

1. Oh my God, an insane rapist/murderer has broken into my car and is hiding in the cargo area, waiting for me to drive home so he can rape and murder me at his leisure.

2. He must be a complete idiot. What sort of criminal douses himself with Axe before he goes out to do his raping and murdering?


I turned around to look into the back seat (not sure what I was planning to do if there was actually someone there ... beat him over the head with my bag of cheese enchiladas, I guess) and as I did, I caught a whiff of my own hand and realized that the smell was coming from me. Apparently, the liquid hand soap in the bathroom at Rubio's smells exactly like men's cologne.

Oops.

At least I didn't call 911 or anything. That would have been a tough one to explain.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The grim realist

G: Marcus (a kid in her class) has been in the hospital for four days.
Me: Why is Marcus in the hospital?
G: I don't know. He's really sick. Today we all prayed that he wouldn't be dead. He was fine four days ago.
Me: Maybe tomorrow you'll find out that he got to go home.
G: Or something worse.
Me: Probably not, though. Most people who are in the hospital get better and leave.
G: Yeah, but not all of them.

It seems like an awfully fatalistic attitude for a 10-year-old to take, but I guess given her personal experience, it's hard for her to be blithely confident about these things.

I hope Marcus is okay.

Monday, December 07, 2009

A milestone

This year marks the first Christmas ever that G hasn't wanted any toys. I saw it coming last year, when her list started to veer away from toys toward other things, but this year, none at all. Instead, she wants a video flip cam and Sims 2 expansion packs and lots of movies. She wants an iPod Touch. She wants some purple fingerless gloves and a matching scarf she saw at Claire's. She wouldn't be averse to clothes if they were the right kind. (Wanting the "right kind" of clothes, which to her means dark skinny jeans and hoodies and Converse-style sneakers and anything with peace signs on it, is also a new thing this year. At least she doesn't care about the actual labels yet.) The one toy-like item she asked for is the Clue board game, which I will get her even though she'll have to invite friends over to play it -- she and I have trouble with board games because most of them are designed for three or more players, and there are only two of us.

I haven't said so to her, but all this has caused me to reminisce soppily about her first Christmas, when she was not quite a year old and had just started toddling, and her presents were wooden puzzles and Sesame Street videos (no DVDs yet then) and board books galore. She had recently said her first word, which was "cat," and when a relative gave her a tiny faux-leopard fur coat on Christmas night, she looked into the box with a bewildered expression and asked "Cat?" which made everyone around her fall over laughing. And I can't help wondering where that curly-haired baby went, or wishing her father were here to wonder and remember too.

I used to think it must be hard to live a very long life, 100 years or more, because eventually you would be the only one who remembered your past: everyone else would either be dead or wouldn't have been born yet. Now I have an idea how that must feel. There are plenty of people who remember Christmas 1999, but no one in this world but me remembers sitting in the living room of our apartment on that sunny December morning, helping baby G play with her new toys. No one at all.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Out with the old year

I am so ready for this year to be over, I can't tell you. It isn't even as if it was a bad year; I'm just done with it. Bring on 2010.

This reminds me of the way I felt the last few weeks I was pregnant with G -- coincidentally, also around Christmas -- when I was fed up with being pregnant and wanted her to be born already. I had to keep going to work because I didn't have any vacation time (I worked until a week past my due date, terrifying the guy across the aisle, who was certain the baby would just fall out of me as I sat at my desk ... if only it had been that easy), so I would drag myself through the day, then come home and sit on the sofa with a bag of assorted Mother's Cookies until it was time to go to bed. I feel just like that now, only without the cookies. Where are my cookies, dammit?!