Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I should have seen this coming...

What Went Wrong?

It was Henry who deleted my episodes of Cosmos. So much for having my son on the same cosmic page.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Persistence of Memory


I've been working my way through Cosmos, or I was until I lost five of the episodes 14 episodes I'd saved on the TiVo. If you're wondering how I ended up watching a twenty-nine year old science show while I eat my lunch, it's because of Henry.

Earlier in the fall Henry was on a science kick, and he requested that we record some DragonflyTV, and Daily Planet, and Dinosaur shows for him. Plus he watched all of the Nova Science Now episodes that Cary and I had neglected to sit through (Neil DeGrasse Tyson, you are no Carl Sagan). Anyway, I saw Cosmos was listed and jumped at the chance to get him to watch what had been one of my favorite science shows when I was a kid.

Fast forward a couple of months. His interest in science shows has been replaced by animal shows. He watched America's Cutest Dog yesterday twice when he was home sick, and showed particular affection for the dog that could say "hamburger." I started watching the episodes when I was recovering from that nasty flu back in October.

And, for me, watching Cosmos is like going to church. Sagan is as soothing and slightly nerdy as the best Protestant minister. Listening to him speak reminds me of how interconnected and fragile life is. Other than Sagan's omnipresent concern with nuclear war and how dated the cars look the show holds up remarkably well.

The Persistence of Memory isn't just a Dali painting, it's also the title of one of the episodes. In it Sagan explores whales as if they were alien creatures, reminding us that the largest are bigger than the dinosaurs. While I have no memory of ever watching the episode before as a kid, watching it floods me with so many other memories that I too feel like a passenger in Sagan's ship.

More than remembering much of the content of the show from watching it three decades ago, I remember how awed I felt watching the show. He discussed how life emerged from the oceans, and how the universe was expanding *right this very minute* and it was all a little much to hold in my eight year old head. It still is. But now I can also add layers of the science that I did go on to learn in school. When he covers evolution in about 12 minutes, it's pleasurable for my brain to retrace those steps. Instead of feeling unspeakably sad that Carl Sagan is gone, I feel only gratitude that I live in a world where the gadgets that I own actually deliver something this wonderful to my doorstep, even if it's only once every couple of decades.

And then I can't help wondering if Henry will ever discover Cosmos on his own, when he's ready, and of course I can't stop myself from hoping he too will have the same wonderful experience.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Werewolves of London would be more welcome


Well, folks, it looks like we have a coyote problem in my backyard.

To quote Henry, "it's the talk of the neighborhood."

One of my neighbors called last week to say that neighbor A had seen 3 coyotes in the woods behind all of our houses at 3:30 in the afternoon and neighbor B had often heard them howling and making other "terrible noises" associated with celebrating a kill at 3 a.m.

On Friday I spoke to my next door neighbor who said, he heard them every night last week except for one. And yet another neighbor, let's call her C, had seen them in her yard at 9:30 at night. Mr. Next Door was certain that the pack had been attracted by the sheep that were being raised a few streets over. (We live in a garden variety suburb, but yes, someone thought it was a good idea to raise some sheep). According to Mr. Next Door, another guy, who knows a girl, who knows this guy said that he'd seen the sheep being loaded into a truck. So maybe, just maybe, the coyotes would move onto new areas once their major food sources had dried up.

Then I spoke to the original neighbor again. She has now heard them howling at night so loudly that she was too freaked out to watch TV, had to chase one out of her (fenced) yard, and spotted a pack of four skulking about at dusk.

As for me, I have neither seen nor heard anything out of the ordinary. I don't know whether to be disappointed or relieved. But I do know that I'm being even more careful than usual about keeping Sufi from escaping to the great outdoors.

P.S. Thanks to everyone for welcoming me back.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Where ya been?

I can't really say why I've been absent for more than two months.

I was really sick for most of October with what I can only assume was H1N1. I still haven't gone back to the gym.

I've got a newish gig writing a concert calendar for Donnybrook that gets picked up by the Huffington Post. You can see the archive here.

But mostly since the kids are in school I don't run up to the computer to escape from my children as often. When they are home Lucy really seems to need me in the afternoon, and in the evening I'm truly exhausted and don't feel like reliving any part of my day.

And then there's the sad truth, that once Lumpyhead's mom joined facebook, I really had no one left to blog for.

I am not any closer to making a decision about what to be when I grow up. If anything, it feels like a pipe dream as I have about one extra hour free during the day while the kids are in school, and the after school hours are filled with home work and the occasional trip to the library.

This entire fall has passed and I've felt disconnected and disoriented, not unlike David Byrne in the Talking Heads' classic "Once in a Lifetime." Same as it ever was. Here comes the twister.

Monday, September 14, 2009

First phone call of the year


It's good to know my kids still need me. Or at least one of them does. On the seventh day of school my cell phone rang. It was the school nurse telling me that Henry had been in her office because "he didn't think he could make it through the day without his nose spray." I went home, stuffed some kleenex in my pocket and headed over to his school.

When I arrived I noticed Lucy's class was standing in the front hallway, and I got a very warm greeting of "Mama!" from her. Then the fire drill went off. I waited with Lucy's class during the fire drill, listening to one girl mumble "I want to go home. Don't you see that I want to go home." When Lucy stumbled into her by mistake she snapped, "What are you doing?" I asked Lucy about the girl later that day, she said, "Oh, that's A. We said, 'hi, what's your name? Now we're friends."

I gave Lucy a quick good bye and headed off to find Henry, who seemed only mildly congested. We stood in the hall while I shot salty water up his nose. The school nurse and I decided that we can leave a bottle in her office should such an emergency arise again.

It's not exactly the way I'd hoped to meet Henry's teacher for the first time, but she seemed to take everything in stride, and mostly seemed concerned that he got what he needed. Maybe we'll have another good year. My fingers are crossed.

Today's career direction: Maybe I'll become a pilates or yoga instructor since I seem to have found time for exercise and not much else.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Miles to go

Today was the first day that I walked back into the house and it didn't immediately feel terribly empty and far too quiet.

Both kids like school. Lucy is full of "other kids'" stories of feeling sad and getting in trouble. I expect that their enthusiasm will wane as the novelty wears off and the homework begins to pile on, but it has been very gratifying to be tackled by two smiling children each day as they exit the bus.

My plan to clear my head and think big thoughts has hit an initial snag: I still don't have much free time! After I exercise, run errands, and feed myself I'm left with no more than a total of an hour and a half until the bus arrives. While that is more than enough time to write record reviews or read a book, it's hardly enough time to pursue meaningful part time work. Obviously if I did that, some other things would have to change as well.

I'm introducing a regular feature to WWW (tiny drumroll...)

Today's career direction: working seems like a pipe dream, but feeling a slight pull to return to get an Ph.D. in English to explore relationship between poetic structure and depression.

It's part horoscope, part weather forecast and 100% useless.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Time out of mind

So tomorrow Lucy starts Kindergarten and while I'm hoping it will be a fresh start for me I know it's unrealistic to think that six free hours a day will turn me back into the bright-eyed, fast-thinking person I once was. Is it too much to hope that I'll stop getting stupider with each passing year?

Some things will definitely change, like having to type with the TV on. As I type this Lucy is watching some atrocious Nick Jr. show with young adults doing hip-hop in animal costumes; it's a little distracting. I do hope that having a break from direct childcare will free my mind to think about other things, such as what kind of work I might enjoy, or whether six hours a day, 10 months a year is even a realistic framework to pursue meaningful work.

I feel poised for change in a few other ways too. Venus is going on an indefinite hiatus (sigh), so I'll be spending less time writing and interviewing in the near future. Plus I've recently connected/re-connected with some friends (thanks, Facebook) which makes my social and musical life in Buffalo feel more complete. I suspect the next six years here will look quite different than the first six, and I'm happy about that.

I doubt Lucy will have the difficulties with school that Henry has had. She makes friends easily and already knows more kids than he did at the end of first grade. I also know that we won't be on auto-pilot. While Henry took easily to academics, I will be surprised if this is true for Lucy as well. I think she will be stunned by the amount of work her teacher expects her to do.

She still needs me now, so completely. She still cheers when I tell her that I'm going to get her dressed (which means I'll stand there and supervise for the sake of expediency). At the moment she's whining for me to join her saying, "I just want you." She just wants me to sit on the couch and watch crappy kids TV and hold her hand. And I'd be lying if I said I won't miss it that. But I'd be lying if I didn't also admit that it needs to end.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Kent Island vacation photo collage


not pictured: the jellyfish that kept us out of the water for several days, the ne'er do well kids that cops chased into our bushes at 1 am, the edge of Hurricane Bill that flooded the laundry room soaking several guests including Aunt Bob, and the dozen bunches of pine needles that Randy pulled out of the gutter to stop said flood.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Worry is money paid on a debt that never comes due

A bunch of annoying stuff has happened lately:

1. We just paid over $1000 for maintenance to our van, and a basic repair to the a/c. Now, with only a few days until we drive to MD for vacation, the fan on the a/c only works at a super high, noisy setting. At least it still works.

2. Our shower is leaking again. I called the guy who repaired it in January, but my confidence in him is shaky, since, well, the shower is leaking again. We're all grateful that it's not our only shower.

These two things would bother me less if we weren't about to leave town because I know we can't get either fixed before we go.

3. I spent two days last week cleaning the house and preparing for some friends to visit us for the night. Their plan was to arrive "well before dinner" so I planned that as well. But their lousy time management skills meant that they arrived about 4 and a half hours late -- and they still wanted to be fed! Cary had taken the day off, and the four of us spent the entire day just waiting for them to arrive. They really are lovely people, and I did my best to enjoy the time with them once they got here, but it was definitely colored by my frustration.

This came on the heels of my not being able to have my niece visit us for a week because my sister-in-law decided at the last minute to take a family vacation. It was the second time that she canceled my niece's visit this summer. I won't be making that offer again.

I recognize that it's not in my nature to be terribly flexible. I try. But even though I know these kind of events are neither important in the long term, nor a reflection on me, they still upset me.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

You cannot sell what you do not own

Buffalo Craigslist is the worst. I regularly peruse the furniture section looking for Mid-century modern or Danish modern pieces. And here is what I find:

1. Every sofa doubles as a recliner.
2. Natuzzi is common, as is pleather.
3. Dinning room furniture.
4. 75 gallon fish tanks and fire places with "light up" logs

Where are the vintage fiberglass Herman Miller chairs? Where are the Heywood Wakefield dressers?

And then I remembered, the population of wny can't unload its cool furniture for astonishingly cheap prices because no one ever bought it in the first place.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Camping photos

Here are a few pics from the expedition to Seneca Lake. Henry and Lucy in jammies with glow sticks, and then our delicious post-camp recovery meal.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Ah, Wilderness

Cary and I agreed (perhaps even suggested) that we spend Saturday night camping on Seneca Lake with our friends who are very outdoorsy. Since we were not planning to cook anything at the campsite, our friends went up a day early so they could make spider dogs and hike. They have a 3 y.o., and a 3 month old. So, yeah, they're pretty intrepid.

Cary and I thought we'd take our kids camping before they developed the same distaste we have for sleeping in the out of doors.

Things started to go wrong not long after we hit the road. We forgot pillows! So we stopped at the Batavia Target to pick up some extras. Our friend called just as we were exiting the highway. I thought he was checking in, but later we found out that he was hoping we hadn't left yet, so we could go look for the rest of the parts of the tent we were borrowing from his mom! (I'm really glad I didn't know that until later.) So his family went to the Watkins Glen Wal-Mart and bought us a tent, which was very sweet. After all, he could have just asked me to pick one up at Target while I was there.

Our first planned stop was at the Fox Run Vinyards Garlic Festival. It was a fun event, full of wine, maple syrup cotton candy, and garlic farmers selling both fresh garlic and products made from the bulb or the scape. I even got some to plant in my yard this fall. So far, so good.

Next we were headed to Earle Estates Meadery since everyone was curious what meade tastes like. When we arrived our friends were nowhere to be found. Their cell phone was off. (Why? Not sure.) So we spent about half an hour waiting and wondering, dodging invitations from a Karaoke-type performer to join him so he could, "play something from The Little Mermaid for the kids." Once our friends arrived (after driving 20 minutes out of the way on a hunch), it was time to try some meade. Overall it was kind of like dessert wine, but less syrupy, and pretty delicious.

Then we drove to the southern tip of Seneca Lake and took a ride on a 75 year old wooden boat. When the Capt. asked if there were any children who wanted to volunteer to drive the boat, Lucy's hand was the first in the air. Henry eventually volunteered as well. Fun all around.

We had dinner at a lackluster restaurant in Watkins Glen, then headed to the campsite. I was a little concerned that the tent we were sleeping in hadn't been opened or assembled and it was already the children's bedtime, but I was determined to have fun.

Once we arrived at the campsite, Cary looked out and said, "Well, we're just an hour and a half from home. We could just turn around." I did want to leave right then. Not only could we see a guardrail at the far side of the campsite, but not even 20 yards away the neighboring campers were playing Thumper, screaming , "What's the name of the game? Thumper? And why do we play the game? To get fucked up!" To their credit they changed the words once they heard the voices of our little children.

For me the low point was when I took Lucy to the bathroom (which was @ least 150 yards from the tent) to change into pajamas and realized I was putting on clean clothes while I dripped with sweat. Surely we would all just keep sweating and then freeze that night.

Cary played his guitar around the campfire, and the kids had glow sticks and s'mores, but the kids really had trouble settling down, and I couldn't relax either. We'd planned to have wine, but no one really wanted it, nor did we need another reason to pee in the middle of the night.

We went to bed around 9:30, but I've got no idea when we actually fell asleep.

These are some of the thoughts we had while not sleeping:

Cary said he felt more empathy for Hurricaine Katrina victims.
I thought about what it must be like to be homeless
Cary thought about the Stephen King story where a time traveler fails to fall asleep and experiences eternity.
I thought about our friend who was waking up every few hours to nurse her baby.

Cary said the next we camped it would be in a tent that had a foundation and brick walls.

Around 3 am it started to rain, not just a sprinkle, but a full-blown storm with thunder and lightning. I'm very happy to report that the new tent didn't leak, and until Henry had to go to the bathroom at 5:30 the tent was dry inside.

As we made our way home we still couldn't understand why people like camping. What a hassle! And we didn't even cook, or put up our own tent. But we did enjoy spending time with our friends, but next time we're going to Toronto, in a hotel with a pool!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Just wondering

Am I falling asleep at my desk because I ate five Cappuccino Meringue cookies or because I've reduced my coffee consumption to 4 cups a day (1/4 decaf)? These cookies are so delicious, like a Tim Horton's Iced Cappuccino in cookie form.

Would it be a bad idea to double up on the cookies and the coffee? Probably.

Latest Donnybrook review = The Fiery Furnaces I'm Going Away.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Stalking the Red Ruby Throat

I've been trying to get a good hummingbird photo for a few days. The hummingbirds come right up to the dining room window and land on the crocosmia. Lucy was standing next to me, dressed in full princess garb, waving her wand, and somehow the bird didn't fly away.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

If We've Got to Burn Out Let's Do It Together

The kids and I are recovering from a busy weekend that included Cary's and my high school reunion (in three acts with a relatively predictable cast of characters), and a birthday party at Lasertron for Henry.

I was slightly horrified that I'd be sending him off to a party where he'd pretend to shoot other eight year olds, but I gave in because I hate for him to miss a social opportunity. I think that means that I was a victim of peer pressure.

The reunion was pretty fun and very tiring. It unlocked the dusty spaces of my brain and dated memories came flooding out. Everything from the origin of inside jokes to all of the things we did, that now as parents, seem like they were a bad idea. (See previous paragraph for an explanation as to how we got to do them in the first place). I was "in charge of the music" which just meant creating a play list for the evening, heavy on 80s one-hit wonders and 70s classic rock meant to please my classmates more than myself.

Looking at old pictures revealed that wow, all the girls had BIG hair. If there had been a prize for the puffiest bangs, we were all in the running. I think Kirsta wins, not because her hair was the biggest, but because she told us how they had to prop her head against the wall when she got a spiral perm because the rods were too heavy!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Catch a tiger by the toe

Henry and Lucy started camp today, which means I might have a precious few hours to myself this summer! I don't think I've seen Lucy in such a happy mood since school ended.

She's also very excited about our new composter (It's not pretty, but if it cuts down on my garbage I'll be pleased). If she keeps her enthusiasm up it will certainly help me stay excited.

Plus she surprised me by reciting an adorably mangled version of "Eenee Meenee Miney Mo" tonight.

New review at Donnybrook: White Rabbits It's Frightening

Friday, July 03, 2009

So much wrong, so little time

So Lucy has been done with school since mid-May. I realize that these last few weeks represent the last time that she and I will have alone before her schedule is exactly like Henry's. Which only makes it more poignant that she is driving me crazy!!! Thank God camp starts next week. I need a break. Also it's 8:45 am and she's still asleep. Sweet, sweet relief!

The unexpected down side of getting the Dyson was that Lucy is now obsessed with vacuuming. She wants to spend hours with her toy shop vac, a noisy contraption that doesn't actually pick up anything. When she's not doing that she likes to report to me that "the house is really dirty" or "the garage really needs to be cleaned." When I try to take the vacuum away from her,so I can hear myself think, horizontal tears ensue.

Now it's time for a little game called What's Causing my Migraine:

1. I've not been exercising because hauling both kids to the gym playroom at their current age is too unwieldy. As a result I'm really cranky, all the time.

2. Or it could be that Lucy caused such a scene in the hair dressers on Tuesday that one of the stylists (not mine) gave her a lollipop to shut her up. Nice, right? Then she added to me, "I'm trying to concentrate here (+eyeroll)." Not so nice. My lovely hairdresser actually called the next day to apologize for her coworker, which was not necessary, but made me me feel a little better.

3. Or could it be that we're preparing to host a small section of Cary's family for dinner tonight and I need to shop, clean, and cook with two bored kids at my feet.

Almost forgot:

Future of the Left review up at Donnybrook
Gossip review up at Venus

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The joyous, the sad, and the soon to be cleaner

Three things happened today that marked the end of my childhood. Or forced me to acknowlege that, oh yeah, it's over.

1. My friend Steph had her first baby. He's healthy and she's doing well. She's also 37 and probably the last of my friends to take the plunge into motherhood. I have to fight the impulse to shower her with gifts she doesn't want and advice she probably doesn't need.

2. Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett died. Of course, you knew this, but my kids have no idea who either of them were and there's no way I can explain it to them. I wasn't a huge fan of either, but both were such specific cultural markers.

Farrah: I was five, living in Eagle Heights when an episode of Charlie's Angels scared the bejeezus out of me. The killer left clown dolls at the crime scene. Shiver.
Michael Jackson: I was twelve, listening to "Billie Jean" in Sonia Jun's basement. I never had a sparkly glove, but I did have a pair of silver, sparkly socks.

3. I bought a Dyson vacuum cleaner. My stairs are clean and my lampshades are dust free. I've never been more excited about a domestic purchase, probably ever.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hello, is this thing on?

This blog has been horribly neglected lately. Mainly this is because I'm avoiding the computer because it hurts my back, so I don't end up deciding to post.

But yesterday had some WWW moments. Henry performed in his 2nd grade play as Uncle Henry in a loose adaptation of the Wizard of Oz. He also had his unofficial violin debut, since Uncle Henry played a version of "Old Joe Clark."

But that's not what went wrong. It's more about how we got to that point.
1. Henry had hassled a neighbor on the bus because they both wanted to sit with the same kid. Then he ran away and burst into tears when I tried to discuss it with him.
2. Lucy emerged from the bathroom with a clump of poo stuck to the back of her skirt. I discovered this just as she was about to climb up in my lap. So, we both needed to bathe before we could go to the play.
3. Right before we were supposed to leave I dropped a recycling bin on my toe. It was still bleeding throughout the performance.

But while there is a certain amount of comic ridiculousness in those events, mostly I will remember how excited Henry was to be in the play. I'm stunned by the amount of work the teachers put in to get 100 plus second graders to pull it off.


video

And I've got three new reviews to share on Donnybrook:
Miss Kittin and the Hacker Two: http://godonnybrook.com/home/?p=3089
John Vanderslice Romanian Names: http://godonnybrook.com/home/?p=3059
Black Moth Super Rainbow Eating Us: http://godonnybrook.com/home/?p=3116

Plus my interview with Annie Clark (St. Vincent) is available in the Summer issue of Venuszine. On sale now, yo.

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Now playing: Deerhunter - Vox Celeste

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Not much to report

I realized that my kids are old enough now that stuff is not going wrong at every turn. Sure, I'm still doing some things I'd prefer not to for them, such as cleaning dried blood off the carpet when one of them has a nosebleed (which has been about every night of late), but it seems as if we no longer create an entertaining barrage of foibles and missteps. But that's good, right? Right?

I've been busy getting the garden ready for summer, and have been spending less time on the computer. As fascinating as this type of material is for you all, dear readers, I've not been too motivated to share anything.

Thought I am almost done with the baby blanket that sent me to Physical Therapy. Maybe I'll even post a picture or two.

I've got a couple things up on Donnybrook: Jarvis Cocker's Further Complications and Akron/Family's Set 'Em Wild Set 'Em Free.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Illness, be gone. You are not welcome here.

1. Henry is still sick. At bedtime last night I was so sure he would go to school today until he woke up with a fever, again. Now he's on amoxicillin for a sinus infection.

2. I forgot that Lucy had Spanish this morning, so she missed the last class. And the pinata.

3. I made three separate stops to repair, and deliver Cary's eyeglasses.

4. I spilled coffee grounds all over the floor.

5. I had a migraine.

But there have been a few bright spots.

1. The bird feeder has been loaded with Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. I saw an Eastern Bluebird today too.

2. My review of the latest St. Vincent record is up at Donnybrook. See also my review of the Pink Mountaintops, also at Donnybrook.

3. Plus Henry decided on his own to take a two hour nap this afternoon, so at least I was spared from having to listen to my kids bicker during that time. And, as a bonus, he seems to be feeling better. I really hope he can go to school on Friday.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

I traded my plot of land for a plane to anywhere

Henry made it to sleep tonight without choking on his own mucus. I'm sure that's success by any estimation, but I still feel really low.

I tried to work through the trough by actually working. I edged the flower beds and power washed the deck. I procured a dessert for the dinner that Henry and I had to miss. While Lucy and Cary were at our friend's house for dinner Henry ate Lipton chicken noodle soup and I had a Lean Cuisine.

Hope things look up next week.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

No body, no blood, no machine

I'm supposed to be at the Thermals show right now. Instead I just finished cleaning up a vomit-splattered sink. Henry's allergies are so bad that he is running a fever and puking from the post nasal drip. Or he's just sick.

Even though I thought Now We Can See was kind of a snooze, I'm still a huge fan of The Body, The Blood, The Machine. Plus they were the first entry I wrote for Trouser Press. I figured they'd be pretty great live, but not only could I not leave Henry here with a sitter, I can't imagine I'd enjoy a show if I knew my little boy was miserable at home without me.

Here's a video from my favorite song by the Thermals, "Returning to the Fold:"
How cute is Hutch in his little rugby? Too cute!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cautiously optimistic

So we're on spring break. So far we don't have any big plans, but I will say that the first two days have not been completely dominated by the children's misbehavior and hijinx. We were desperately ready for Cary to come home by dinner today, but there were moments yesterday where Henry and Lucy played together with an uneasy peace. Henry organized an impromptu limbo contest, during which Lucy fell to her knees in the mud. But nobody called me! I continued to prepare the flower beds for new growth -- without interruption.

And I've got another Donnybrook review -- Winter Gloves about a girl.

I'm also completely obsessed with Emily Wells. Check it. And Lucy thinks you should check out Fantasies, the new Metric album featuring "her Emily." It's available as a digital download right now.

There are so many Emilys now, I'm not sure what to do!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I can't see the future but I know it's got big plans for me.

Got to interview another musician yesterday -- very exciting! But it looks like the write up will have to wait.

I'm listening to the sounds of Lucy and a friend throwing a succession of birthday parties for Lucy's stuffed animals. There is much negotiation of what age each animal will turn ("9" "No, how about 10.") and exclamations that the pretend gifts are "just what I always wanted." Plus the stuffed animals keep needing to go potty.

Now they are off to play the honeybee hop.

I have a million things that I should be doing, but I can't really reconcile the check book while keeping half an eye on the children.

My latest Donnybrook review: The 1990s

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Am I glad today is almost over!

1. Forgot to set my alarm. Not a great way to start the day.

2. Cary left for a camping trip with his friends today. There's no school for Henry tomorrow, so I'm dreading this particular long weekend more than usual.

3. Henry got off the bus with a hang dog look. Five kids on the bus had been hassling him. One of whom is a repeat offender by anyone's definition. I don't understand why the school doesn't do more to intervene. I just got off the phone with the vice-principal and was told the repeat offender would likely spend two weeks in the front seat, at which point he will resume hassling my son again.

4. I spent the afternoon driving across town to take Henry to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's, but at least I didn't have to stay for the party, or drag Lucy with me.

5. But here's the kicker: I spent two hours on the phone with my insurance company, pharmacy provider, and doctor's office trying to establish whether my insurance covers a medication. All three places told me something different, and the doctor's office would not believe me when I said I had coverage. This has been going on for about a month. I finally got the insurance company to call the doctor's office while I was on the line, and they agree to believe me, but reminded me that "all charges are still my responsibility" if and when the insurer doesn't pay them. Thank god this wasn't a life or death decision because I would be dead by now.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Reasons to be cheerful. One, two, three...

I'm feeling a little better than I did yesterday. But I've really only got two reasons to be cheerful:

First: I found my clip on sunglasses! They had fallen into the reusable shopping bags that I keep in the car and flew out today when I was paying for my groceries. Now if only I can find my health insurance card.

Second: I went to see the cranial sacral therapist and for the first time in about three weeks my back pain is non-existent. I'm a little worried what going to PT will do to my new found equilibrium.

Tomorrow I'm volunteering in Lucy's Spanish class, then I'm off to the dentist and to register Lucy for Kindergarten. Pain and paperwork, here I come!

Monday, March 23, 2009

What not to lose. What not to buy.

1. I recently loss my clip sunglasses and now I can't find my health insurance card. The worst part about both is that I suspect the clips are in the car and the card is in the house, and yet I am no closer to finding either.

2. Lucy has spent the last two days playing with her birthday presents. This sounds good, right? But that means I have spent two days freeing miniature my little ponies from the stranglehold of twist ties and littlest pet shop pets from invisible rubber bands.

But the worst, by far was a package of Crayola ReColoritz. They are black glossy pictures of Disney princesses that you color with greasy crayons. It sounds OK , but they are impossible to clean. Lucy smeared greasy crayon all over her new pink dress yesterday. Today she left a trail of yellow on her work table and the kitchen counter. The crayons break off in sticky little chunks that adhere to pretty much anything. I don't blame the gift giver; I thought this sounded fine when she opened it.

She also got some Pixos which are labeled 4+. There was no part of the project she could do herself, so I spent a good chunk of the afternoon fighting with them. She was thrilled to get them, though after the Aquadots scandal I would never buy them for her myself. They are a huge pain. The two things we made were difficult to assemble and did not stick together. Plus we were pretty careful, but they are so easy to spill.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, Lucy

We celebrated Lucy's 5th birthday today. It isn't her actual birthday, but close enough.

I am so tired that I can barely type. We invited all of the girls in her pre-school class (though a few couldn't make it), the usual family friends, and my parents.

We painted faces and made magnets with each girls photo. Lucy's Honeybee Hop was a huge hit. Did I mention how exhausted I am?

Nothing really went wrong, though it was way more work than Henry's Chuck E. Cheese party.

Now that my youngest is five, I must face the inevitable: soon my children will roll their eyes at me and detest even my smallest idiosyncrasies. Then I will start waiting for grandchildren.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Actually, that joke is still pretty funny

Cary and I went to see Morrissey last night.

Ultimately I think it will go down as one of those shows I remember more for what happened around the performance than for the performance itself.

Jen14221 was complaining she had to attend, then announcing via Twitter that it was fabulous. My pregnant pal Kate was walking briskly up the stairs to pee and call the sitter throughout the night. And I musn't forget the precious superfan couple who sat in front of us -- too young to remember the Smiths, but they still knew all the lyrics to "How Soon is Now." But apparently the night would have been incomplete without the Morrissey gropers. The first guy who tried to hug him on stage seemed sincere, but after that all these people were looking at the crowd with an expression that said, "I too am hugging Morrissey" as security gingerly hauled them off stage.

Try as I might, I can't begin to forget Morrissey's slightly disturbing heart-shaped back sweat, or the way he threw not one, but two shirts into the audience. His voice has lost nothing, yet at nearly 50 he is more Tom Jones than Mick Jones.

But I digress, because it's really all about Morrissey and me. I first heard the Smiths as a high school freshman -- "Please, please let me get what I want" from the Pretty in Pink soundtrack, to be exact. I had yet to learn that compilations often host a band's throwaway tracks, but whatever, I was enthralled. The following Christmas I got The Queen is Dead on LP. At that moment, no piece of music meant more to me. Then the Smiths broke up my junior year of high school and I was bereft.

So there was a lot riding on last night's performance. And while I wasn't at all disappointed, alot has changed since 1987.

Morrissey would be nothing without his backing band. Even if he sculpts their artistic decisions, he feeds on their vitality -- you could practically see a pulse beating through the veins beneath their matching Tour of Refusal t-shirts. Morrissey may have once defined youthful malaise, but now it is his band that keeps him from sounding stale.

I tried to imagine what it would be like if I'd seen Morrissey, Marr, and Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce. I don't think it would have been as good.

For me the best part of last night was not that I finally saw one of my icons perform live, but that I realize that Morrissey is better off post-Smiths, and so am I.

Update: a picture of the heart-shaped back sweat! Thanks, Jen14221 and WhippetGood

Friday, March 13, 2009

Newsy!

We've been busy around here for once. (I wrote about some of this stuff on facebook, but until LHM sees fit to join I must repeat myself here too.)

1. Cary wrote a book! It's called Don't Swear with Your Mouth Full! I'm really biased but I think it's great and could really help parents with difficult children. His approach has helped our family a lot.

2. I interviewed Emily Haines from Metric for VenusZine. The issue will be on sale until June, but it isn't on the web. I made her promise to play a show in Buffalo. I hope she doesn't let me down.

3. In more regularly scheduled news, I reviewed Mirah, Mazes, the Drones, Matt & Kim, and AC Newman at Donnybrook, and Faunts for Venus. I actually liked almost all of these records, except for Faunts, but Mazes was a particular favorite.

Monday, March 09, 2009

More dumb things: the lost hour edition

Each year daylight savings is a bit tougher for me. Yesterday was bad, but today was worse.

1. I fed the cat and put the remaining cat food away in the cupboard instead of the refrigerator.
2. I dropped half the stack of plastic cups on my head when I was getting one for Henry's juice.
3. I put Henry's bagel into the toaster oven, when it dinged I discovered instead of toasting I was cooking it at 400 degrees.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Eight years!

Henry turned eight today. Sniff. He has grown up so much during the last year which makes me very happy, but it's hard to see him get so big.

His (very kind and skilled) teacher had his entire class make him birthday cards which he brought home in a big manila envelope. Very sweet. We're taking him to Grover's for dinner so he can get a giant cheeseburger.

At the moment he's getting whupped by Lucy at Mario Cart. But she can't stop asking: "Why I'm not the oldest, Mama?" "Why I can't be big already? I hate being little."

Monday, March 02, 2009

Brand New Dumb Things!

1. I was looking for a hooded sweatshirt in Lucy's closet this morning when I discovered a brand new pair of girl's Lands End snow boots in her current size that I had forgotten about. Lucy has been in need of a new pair of boots since mid-January and I didn't buy new ones because I thought we'd just make due. At least I didn't cave in and buy a second new pair this season.

2. When Lucy and I came home from pre-school today I helped her inside, and then got distracted sorting laundry and checking e-mail. Half an hour later the mailman rang the doorbell (bringing me my new Atlas of Bird Migration!) and said, "you know your car door is open, right?" I had forgotten to bring in the rest of our stuff from the car, including my purse! At least I didn't leave the car running -- hope the battery is not dead.

On an unrelated note, it dawned on me that Henry is now old enough that I no longer feel the need to enforce things like our "no cheesy t-shirt policy" and our absolute refusal to allow toy guns in the house. He got a combo gun/light saber thing for his birthday as well as a Pokemon t-shirt. He loves both so much. I hope we're not making a mistake by giving in. The next thing I know my kids will repeal the "no eating ice cream sold from trucks" rule and summer will be a series of ruined dinners and frantic searches for pocket change.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What's going to happen when she can actually drive?

Lucy just got a remote control car tangled in the hair at the crown of her head.

I was able to free her without using scissors.

That is all.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The popping, the dripping, the staining...

1. Last night at dinner I was making Yellowfin tuna salad from this month's Cooking Light when the rice mix that I was microwaving exploded. There were tiny little multigrains everywhere.

2. Henry had a sesame bagel with butter and grape jelly for breakfast. When the time came to don his boots and coat I noticed that he had gotten globs of grape jelly all over his pants. Not just one little spot, but three quarter-sized spots that were sticky to the touch. It was too late for him to change, so I just sent him off to school like that.

3. Lucy has had a cold since Friday, which I now have as well. I was pretty much hell-bent on sending her to school today since she has had a week off, she is mostly recovered, and I need the break. But she is still asleep! She has been up really early every day of vacation.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Checking in

Just a quick note to say that although Cary and I are both a little overwhelmed and concerned about the plane crash, which was about five miles from our house, we are all fine.

I'm just trying start focusing on something else, but I end up sitting here in front of the computer checking various websites for updates.

Even in the face of this tragedy it makes me glad to see that the firefighters (who are all volunteer -- something like 7 different companies responded to the scene) and all the other people involved in handling the aftermath seem to be doing an amazing job.

The children are completely unfazed, high on Valentine's Day candy, and at the moment I don't even care if they want to eat every last piece (just don't tell them I said so).

UPDATE: We lost a neighbor on the plane. While less of a personal loss for our family, the deceased was our babysitter's father, and she is just the loveliest, most delightful girl. I can't imagine what she is going through.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Just want to bang on the drum all day

So I've had some really terrible jobs. Here's a few things that happened at each of them.

1. My first job after college was at a start-up bio tech company. My title was "analyst" but they really had no idea what they wanted me to do. I answered phones, did a little accounting, graphic design, and even bottled liquid wax that they sold to investigators. The male counterpart (same age, same title) sitting next to me was not expected to answer the phone, nor was he expected to plan his lunch time with the other "girls" who answered the phone. We were expected to put in long hours which was hard for me because I had so little work to do. I lasted a year. It was a very long year.

2. Then I went to work at an academic library shelving books like I had in high school. I liked it better their though I was kind of apalled by my boss' lack of work ethic. She once sent me to Filene's basement in the middle of the work day because there was a big bra sale. I liked working with the students though since they were only a few years younger than I was. I lasted two years.

3. After that I went to Grad School and my "job" there was the best part of my school experience. I really have no complaints, even though I did a lot of data entry so much of the reading was in Spanish that it wasn't boring.

4. My first job after grad school was in my field. I was stunned by how little work I had to do and spent entire days thrifting for kitchenware on eBay. At one point I was supervising three people, none of whom ever seemed to have any work. Pointless meetings abounded. I lasted a year.

5. I worked briefly in healthcare in an underserved area. The office was incredibly unprofessional. Smoke would drift in from the guy working next door and no one knew what to do about it. The director used like 6 different fonts in her monthly newsletter and would only let staff sharpen their pencils when she wasn't there (she had the only pencil sharpener). Before long I was doing computer trouble shooting, billing, and nutrition counseling. I lasted a year, and during that year I endured a country music radio station in the office!!!

6. Then I took a job doing legal work for a manufacturing firm. (Was I using my English degree? The world may never know). I had my own office and a great boss. But I didn't really have enough work to fill 40 hours. (They asked me to keep track of my time for tax/billing purposes and it was not unusual for me to have 12 billable minutes in a day.) My boss didn't seem to care so I read books and did the NYT crossword puzzle online. The best part about this job was that everything I did was conducted by phone, e-mail, or fax, so I never had to go to pointless meetings. I still exchange Christmas cards with one of the lawyers, whom I've never met. I would have stayed there but after Henry was born I didn't want to put him in daycare for a job that I was only lukewarm about. They let me work from home until H was about 14 months, but I really couldn't go back. And that was it. I lasted two years, but more than a year of it was spent out of the office.

I have no earthly idea how to convert these experiences into something better in the future.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The more they know, the less they show.

1. Lucy will now change into her pajamas without assistance, but only if I leave the room and agree with her that the change happened "by magic."

2. Henry was desperate for the neighbor to come over to play, and then when the boy got here all he wanted to do was play his DS.

3. Both kids thoroughly enjoyed our house guest - my former roommate. Henry followed her lead and slept with an eye mask, while Lucy just followed her around the house.

4. Lucy got a kiddie yoga DVD from Santa and yesterday and today we did some of it together. I was sweating by the end. She is very fond of the friendship flower pose because she gets to hold my hand.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lazy Link Dump

I haven't stopped writing reviews, but haven't mentioned it in awhile.

I say nice things about my friend Daryle in the VenusZine staff faves here.

I am less kind, but fair, to Animal Collective here and probably overly generous to Cars and Trains over here (both at Donnybrook). Almost forgot about Vic Chestnutt and Elf Power too, way over here, also at Donnybrook.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some Civil Servants are just like my loved ones

Now that President Obama has his dream job, I should really start thinking about finding one of my own.

I've never had a job that I've really loved or been devoted to. I can't imagine what such a job would be either.

It dawned on me recently that I have a commitment problem when it comes to choosing a career. In that way I'm not so much different than my single friends who have their own issues with committing.

Consider the evidence:

1. I'm picky. I don't want just any job where I mentally punch in, punch out and have to put forth very little effort.

2. I have unreasonably high expectations. I want to love the job and the job to love me back. I also want good benefits, a lot of vacation time, and to not have to feel guilty when I take time off to hang with my kids.

3. I'm in a long-term (going on three years now) relationship with a gig that doesn't pay me anything.

I could really use an employment yenta.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cultural Commentary from Henry

1. Yesterday Lucy was excited to see some Barbie-esque dolls on TV. As she's oohing and aahing over them, Henry turned to me with his eyes rolled and said, "She's asking for dolls from High School Musical 3." This is especially funny since neither of my kids has seen or heard any part of the High School Musical series -- but it doesn't stop them from having opinions. When they are old enough you can be sure I'll watch the South Park version with them.

2. As he was getting dressed in the morning a commercial for Hotel for Dogs came on. He said, "Mom, I don't think Hotel for Dogs is appropriate. I think there is romance. (pause) Between humans!" So I said, when do you think it would be appropriate. He struggled for a moment before answering, "12."

3. He was pissed because his school had an assembly that featured Glenn Colton who he angrily described to Cary as a performer who plays "popular country, not real country" music. I'm also almost positive that Henry has never heard Hank Williams or Patsy Cline, but he's always had a very sensitive schlock meter.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

There is no frigate like a book

It dawned on me last night as I finished Death Comes for the Fat Man by Reginald Hill that I stopped reading when Henry was born because reading simply took me too far away from the present moment.

It's a relief to be able to get lost in a book again, even if Cary interrupts me every so often to make me watch a hockey replay.