Monday, December 27, 2010


G: Am I going to get a car when I turn 16?
Me: If you save up some money, I'll put in the extra to help you buy a nice used car.
G: Can it be a Ferrari 458 Italia?

At least she dreams big!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dear Rain

Normally you are my favorite sort of weather. When I wake up to a sky full of black, lowering clouds, my heart sings, and I feel energized and happy. I enjoy going for walks when you're gently drizzling, and I love lying in bed at night and listening to you drum on the roof.

This time, though, we have a problem. This time you've been going on for four days straight, and you are causing the windows and skylights in my house to leak. As a result, I now have an 11-year-old roommate who can't spend the night in her own room because gross, dirty water is dripping from the wall behind her bed. I love the 11-year-old dearly, but she's 5'5" and sleeps diagonally, which means there's no space for me on my own mattress. Plus, I like total darkness and silence to sleep, whereas she gets nervous without light and noise. (In this, she takes after her father, whom I also loved dearly, but whose insistence on leaving ESPN Sports Center playing all night long drove me bonkers.)

In short, I want my bedroom back, and also all the pans and Tupperware containers and towels I'm currently using to catch and/or soak up the drips. So please stop raining, just for a while, and let us dry out. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday music and magic

Today was the annual holiday music performance at G's school. They split it up this year so the upper grades performed first thing in the morning and primary performed just before lunch, and also flipped the order around so sixth-graders were first on the program. It really reduced the crowding in the auditorium, and also prevented the "disappearing audience" phenomenon I've witnessed at other performances: when younger kids are performing, the whole Mom-Dad-Grandma-Grandpa-Auntie-Uncle-baby-cousins family shows up, whereas older kids are lucky if they get one parent. These big packs of people watch their children perform and then get up and leave, so the last group in the rotation ends up playing to a nearly empty room. That didn't happen this time, and I was glad.

Because G is in band (she plays flute), she was part of the show from beginning to end: she sang with her grade, played with the rest of the band between each grade's performance, and also had a duet with her friend A, who plays the piano. They did Bert the Sweep's song from Mary Poppins, and it went quite well, I thought--not to mention that it was a huge deal for G, who has a very pretty singing voice but doesn't like being the center of attention, to grab a microphone and perform on her own in front of 200 people.

Watching her up there, all tall and confident and grown-up looking, I couldn't help thinking of her kindergarten and first-grade holiday shows, when P was still alive, and we couldn't quite believe we were the parents of a schoolkid. It doesn't seem like that long ago, but G herself reminded me just how far she's come since then. When I picked her up this evening, I asked her how the second show was (she played with the band at that one too), and she gushed, "Mom, the little kids were SO CUTE! They're just so little and young!" Yes, my big girl, they are.

La mauvaise influence

G and I amuse ourselves with Google Translate:

Your face looks like a monkey's butt

Votre visage ressemble les fesses d'un singe.

A monkey put a banana in my ear.

Un singe a mis une banane dans mon oreille.

I said, "At least I'm smarter than a monkey."

J'ai dit: "Au moins, je suis plus intelligent qu'un singe."

The monkey cried.

Le singe pleuré.

And then flung poo.

Et puis merde jeté.

After we finished giggling over this, G said meditatively, "I think I'll take French in high school." I should probably warn her that high-school French involves lots of useful phrases, like "My aunt's house is yellow" and "Stephanie and Laurent are going to the disco," and little to no mention of butts or poo.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sign of the times

I need to mail a payment on my way to work tomorrow, and as I was addressing the envelope this evening, I had to stop and think hard about which corner the stamp was supposed to go in. I've been paying everything online for so long that I barely use the postal service anymore, and I'd forgotten.

It occurred to me then that I belong to the last generation of people who will remember getting that big stack of bills ready to mail out each month--G knows "paying bills" as something you do on the laptop, not at the kitchen table with a lot of envelopes and a checkbook. Similarly, going inside the bank is an unusual event for her: where I often went with my dad to deposit his paycheck and get cash for the weekend (if I was lucky, we'd use the drive-through teller, and I could watch the vacuum tube get sucked down and then shoot back up with money and a lollipop inside), she only knows that money somehow invisibly goes into my account and comes out again via debit card and computer, just as invisibly.

I'd never trade the convenience of the electronic method for the old hassles of waiting in line at banks and post offices, but it makes me feel a little like a time traveler to remember a world that doesn't exist anymore. I suppose it must happen to everyone sooner or later, at least in the modern world--if you lived before the Industrial Revolution, and certainly before the Renaissance, day-to-day existence didn't change much in the span of centuries, much less one lifetime. No wonder we're all so neurotic.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


On Monday, the cable went out at our house and took our broadband with it. This was annoying for me, since without Internet access I can't read blogs, waste hours watching old commercials from my childhood on YouTube, or enjoy Photoshopped images of Michael Bublé and a velociraptor. But for G, being Internet-less for the evening was a tragedy so epic that Euripides might have hesitated to tackle it. She didn't want to draw, or read a book, or write a story, or play video games, or watch a movie, or dangle toys for the cats, or do any of the myriad other activities that she normally enjoys--she wanted to be online, damn it, and nothing else would do. We got home at 5:30, she finished her homework by 6:30, and then we had this conversation over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over:

She: Is it working now?
Me: Not yet.

I hadn't slept well the night before, and by eight o'clock I was so tired my head was spinning, so I went upstairs to lie down for a while. It would have been great, except that G followed me and spent the next 45 minutes hovering over my semi-conscious body and asking "Is the cable working now? Is it working now? What about now? Can you check and see?" until I finally sat up and said "Look, kid, humans survived for 100,000 years before the Internet was invented. I think you can make it for one night. GO FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO DO."

"This is torture," she groaned, and moped off to her room, where she sat--surrounded by TV, DVD player, Wii, Nintendo DS, flip video camera, books, movies, art supplies, and various other amusements--and was grumpy until bedtime. I was strongly tempted to get out our copy of The Phantom Tollbooth and make her read the first chapter, where Milo has everything in the world and is still bored.

(Actually, if someone had delivered a phantom tollbooth to our house right then, I probably would have paid the toll and waved her on her way. She could have come back when she'd learned her lesson, or when the cable was fixed, whichever came first.)

Anyway, the next day we had Internet access again and all was right with the world. I'm starting to wonder, though, whether I ought to restrict her computer time more if she's that obsessed with it. I've never actually seen a crack addict in search of a fix, but if I had, I'll bet it would have looked a lot like G did when she was stranded at the side of the information superhighway.