Sunday, August 28, 2005

Breaking News from Navel-Gazers Anonymous

Welcome back! Sit down and have some Cheerios!

SOTM! What, are you kidding me?

Yes, it is true. Viva has officially been crowned Student of the Month of her preschool class. I almost thought Miss Svetlana was joking when she first mentioned it, and then she kept telling me Viva was going to be Student of the Month, and I had to ask what the criteria were. I mean, she is two years old. Is this not a little nuts?

Well, apparently I have been doing remarkably well with my home-schooling program, you know, with the flash cards and the subliminal message tapes and the 5 AM drills, because Viva knows all her shapes, colors, the alphabet and numbers up to 20, and is able to identify all the animals Miss Svetlana throws her way. Also she never has to be told anything twice, listens well, follows directions, etc. From what Miss Svetlana says, Viva is the youngest child in the class, but also the most advanced. I think this is all perfectly wonderful and hilarious. I already have a copy of the school newsletter with the official announcement, and I am waiting with bated breath for the bumper sticker, which neither Sweet William or I intend to put on either of our brand spanking new cars.* Oh, yeah, speaking of which…

* Sweet W says he is going to hang it in his office at work, but as you may have surmised, he is a bit insane about his child.

Vehicular, Splendicular

I finally got my car. Now I do not need to think about this again for…oh, another couple of years, since I like to spend the year before my lease ends off and on obsessively researching and agonizing over which car to get. I got this, in Lakeshore Slate (basically a blue-grey), which was a big deal for me, because every single car I have had up to now has been either black or white. Oh my God, what does that say about me? Is there some sort of crazy symbology to all this?

Search for the Jobby-Job

I have a job interview tomorrow morning for a position for which I am ridiculously qualified*, in an organization where I know two reasonably influential people** (via the pro bono stuff I’m doing). I am also meeting a former colleague later this week, ostensibly to pick her brain about the stuff I am doing pro bono, but also to get the lay of the land where she works. This whole networking/schmoozing/being all diplomatic and shit wrings my brain out, man.

* and ** I say this because it seems like one of those situations where, if I want the job, it's mine. But I'm not really sure I want the job. And yet it might lead me in a completely new and much cooler direction, ultimately. More on this post-interview...

Shut up, brain, or I'll stab you with a Q-tip!

Speaking of brains, here is a great book to check out if you haven’t read it yet: Drop City, by T.C. Boyle. It’s kind of The Beach meets Lord of the Flies meets Easy Rider. Speaking of books, my library list is running low. I’ve received almost all the books I requested and I am almost done with them all. Still waiting on three: I am #123 on the holds list for Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go; #8 on the list for Martha O’Connor’s The Bitch Posse; and #301 for Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down.

You want links to all these? Sorry, maybe I’ll come back and edit tomorrow. By the way, since I haven’t come up with my own tagline, from now on I’m going to end these transmissions with favorite Simpsons quotes, because I am that kind of gal and because that show is never going off the air, so I will have plenty to choose from, ad infinitum, and when you get right down to it, I am just lazy that way. So:

Homer: Oh, you know what Arthur Fortune did lately? He donated two male pandas to the zoo and got them to mate, successfully!
Mr. Burns: And a stunt like that impresses people?
Homer: Oh, yeah. And I'm not easily impressed. (looking out window) WOW, a blue car!*

* See the relevance? I just bought a blue(-grey) car. Aren't you impressed by my, um, ability to look stuff up on the Internet and somehow make it about me?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Petty Problems, Go Away. Come Again -- Well, Never. Duh.

You may want to skip this part of my entry, as it is way too self-absorbed, but I need to bitch somewhere. Thus: I have been car shopping. Sweet William went ahead and bought his Jeep, and the lease on my Passat is fast drawing to a close. I am not interested in buying the car, because it is tainted by (a) VW's horrible customer service; and (b) having to visit the mechanic at least three times this year. So I did all my research on midsize sedans, and I decided on the Saab 9-5. It's really safe, an IIHS Best Pick, it has the European styling/handling I like, and since Saab is now owned by GM, they have incredible finance deals. I took one for a test drive yesterday. You know what? Not so much. I was surprised. Not crazy about it. And if I am plunking down a wad of cash, I want it to be for something I am wild for.

So I came home and scanned through the Internets again. And I am not liking anything. I was going to drive to Glendale today and do some comparison shopping, but I just can't bring myself to do it. I hate cars today.

Cover Your Mouth!

Viva has a cough, and thus I have a cough. I have been having trouble sleeping because I keep waking myself up to cough. And that wakes up Sweet William, so I get up out of bed to go read on the couch, whereupon he says, "Come back to bed! You are a mess when you don't get enough sleep." See, this is where he is wrong. I am a mess, regardless.

Needless to say, I am tired.

It Really Is!

I found a postcard in one of my library books. Someone started writing a lovely thank you note and trailed off. Here is the entire text: "Dear Sally, Thank you for the birthday & engagement gifts. It's really of you" Poor thing. I bet whoever it was, they were tired as shit and then they went and wasted a perfectly nice card because there was no way to edit the card without making it look not-too-well-thought-out. The front shows an Andy Warhol image of a shoe (similar to this), which tells me that this person was really kind of making an effort at being both hip and well-mannered. It's a crying shame, is all it is.

Leaning Tower of Babble

Heard recently around Casa de Blah Blah:

"I can clean it! I'm da man!" [Viva, using her washcloth to scrub the side of the tub]

"NO. The color red is not fun!" [Viva, asserting her twoness.]

"You are GIANT WALK." [I have no idea what she is talking about.]

Oh, Internet Friends, I have something that I so want to share with you, but it would be violating the privacy of one of Viva's little schoolmates. But one of these kids has the most fabulous name EVER. Both her first and last names are the last names of very famous fashion designers. I don't think I can do it justice, but it would be like naming your kid Dior Versace. But better! Damn my ethics all to hell!

Operation Get A Job 2005, continued

It looks like I may have a job interview next week. The job is downtown, which kind of sucks. I am still hoping the perfect well-paying, 30-hour-a-week position will miraculously materialize so I won't have to leave Viva in school a full 8 hours. But I am thinking this is a pipe dream. Ergh.

Camp Rosecoloredglasses

After reading my last post, Sweet William told me he thought I painted too rosy a picture of our camping trip. "You forgot to mention that I spent the night on that horrible bed [i.e., the master bed with the foam mattreess in the RV, right next to the bathroom, which people were oh-so-covetous of] holding my feet in the air, in agony because they were burning and itching and falling off," he says. Duly noted. I think I did mention that he was miserable. I guess I meant to say that he was wretchedly miserable. Oh, and I forgot to mention that we couldn't park the Jeep right by the campsite; we had to park it in hell, also known as Lot A, Overnight Parking. Had the Jeep actually been parked behind the RV, we might have either (a) slept in it; or (b - who am I kidding?) gotten in it and driven away as fast as our little urban leadfeet could take us. So there you have it. Consider yourself updated.

Gather 'Round for Geekfest 2005

My fellow wordfreaks have gotten their panties in a bunch about this. Of course, it is gramatically incorrect, and how thankful I am that someone noticed. What's next?

Trying to come up with some cheeky catchphrase with which I will end these posts. Accepting applications now!

Monday, August 22, 2005

You Might Also Like…

Oy, what a weekend. Hope yours, at least, was fun. Before I start pissing and moaning, let’s start off with a little light reading.

Let’s Make Litter of the Literati

Recently read: The Preservationist, by David Maines, a reimagining of the Noah and the Ark story, told from varying points of view. Very quick read and hugely entertaining.

Currently reading A Gesture Life, by Chang-Rae Lee. It’s wicked good. Almost finished.

Next up to bat: The Safety of Objects, by A.M. Homes.

On to more painful subjects.

Camp Makemewannaholla

Camping. So not what I thought it would be. Expected some minor irritations but overall, figured we would have a good time. Here is what transpired.

Friday night, the night before we leave for camping trip: after a day running around like a crazy person, I am still packing and making food. Sweet William is at the Jeep dealership, trying to buy a new car, because he has realized that we can’t go out into the middle of nowhere in August in a car that is either (a) rattling like it is going to fall apart (mine) or (b) sorely lacking in the air conditioning department (his). While I am simultaneously preparing dinner, finally getting the birthday cake into the oven, and supervising Viva’s bath, he comes home with paperwork for me to fill out. Because – get this! – while he has an outstanding FICO score, he has no credit history. Student loans don’t count. He has a very well-paying job and generally pays cash for everything; the one credit card he has (which he pays in full every month) is a card in his business name, so that doesn’t count either. Since I have a credit history (and also a good FICO score, amazingly, though not as high as his), I had to co-sign on the car.

He returns after Viva is in bed, sometime after 9 PM, bringing the salesperson home with him, so I can sign everything. And then, my friends, we are the proud drivers of this.

It is fully loaded (leather everything, power everything) and it rides like a dream. One down, one to go.

Saturday: Thought we would be on the road by 8 AM, but we don’t actually get on the freeway until 9:30. We drive to Bakersfield (please note well: this trip was arranged by my sister-in-law, since she actually camps on a regular basis). We get lost. We are on the phone with my sister, who is also lost. We keep passing each other on this two-bit highway in the middle of nowhere. It would almost be funny except we each have small kids in the car, and they’re all sick of being in the car. It’s also already really frickin’ hot, so thank God for the beautiful new air conditioning.

Now, we reserved a campsite to share with my sister and her two kids and my sister-in-law and her husband and two kids. Since the Blah Blahs don’t camp, Diva suggested we rent an RV instead of having to get a tent, sleeping bags, etc. That way, we could have a cool place for the kids to nap during the day, as well as a place for everyone to pee and use the shower instead of traipsing to the public bathrooms.

All well and good. We finally arrive, unload, get settled. It is hot, and a long day ensues. We are lucky enough to have a huge tree providing shade in the middle of the campsite, with a picnic table beneath. Diva, Big Mike, Junior Mike (17), and Cousin Charles (16) arrived the day before, so they already have tents set up, trash and lights taken care of, etc.

At the adjoining site are friends of Diva and Big Mike. Herein my woes begin. Because I knew that a couple of their friends were coming with their own RV, but I didn’t realize that they would be sharing their site with other friends and relatives – all of whom, it will soon appear, think it would be no problem to use our RV as well. During the day, this is not really a problem. Of course, it’s easier to go to the bathroom in the RV, why should anyone shlep down the path to the public toilet?

But as the day begins to wind down and people return from the “lake,”* where they have been boating and (illegally) swimming, everyone decides they need to take a shower. Between the two campsites, we have nineteen people. And the sun is down and we are getting ready to put Viva to bed, but people are cleaning up from dinner, and they want to wash pots and pans out in the sink. In the RV. And they want to use the bathroom. In the RV. And they want to just for whatever fucking reason, be in and out of the RV, slamming the door over and over. Finally, I make a stink with Diva, which really isn’t fair, but these are her friends, not mine. One of them stayed in the shower for over half an hour, which is incredibly rude when you know other people are waiting. And by the way, they have not paid for the RV, we have.

Sweet William, in the meantime, has been bitten by bugs and/or is having an allergic reaction to something. (We later determine it might be peaches.) Earlier in the day, at around 3 PM, he has told me he is miserable and we should leave, that we are city folk and this is not what we signed up for. I have some sick idea of family loyalty and don’t want to abandon my sister with two small kids and a bunch of people she doesn’t know (besides Diva and fam), so we agree to stick it out and leave at dawn the next day. By the time the RV (our only sanctuary, since we don’t have a tent, unlike everyone else) has become Grand Central Station, Sweet William is in “I told you so” mode. I hate everyone, but mainly myself, and end up walking first my nephew Tyler (age 2.75) and then Viva** around and around the edges of the campsite in the dark, as neither of them can fall asleep with all the commotion. My back is protesting fiercely by the time we get them to bed (at 10 PM), but the walking and cuddling are kind of soothing, so I am resigned to make the best of things by the time I get back to the RV. I fall asleep next to Viva on the pull-out couch in the RV “living room,” waking up throughout the night as people still come in and out to go to the bathroom, although with far less frequency.

The power in the RV (including the AC) goes off at some point in the middle of the night. I wake up with Viva’s huge sweaty forehead pressed to mine. I am sweating buckets. Did I mention that I began menstruating the day before? Do you have any idea how unpleasant that is?

Sunday: we get up at about 7. I get to take a shower in the RV that we paid for – which I didn’t the night before, since by the time I got Viva to sleep and even thought about getting into the bathroom, there was already someone in there and I was too exhausted to fight it. We have breakfast, play with the kids, load up the truck, and we are out of there. Geez Louise.

* It is a man-made lake, which I didn’t realize until the day before we left. Gross. Just seems like a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria. I (of course, you know me) do not even set foot in the water, as a result. Did I mention that it was hot, and swimming might have been refreshing?

** Gratuitous cuteness: since I graced you with a picture of Tyler's brother in the last post, here is my most recent pic of Viva and Tyler, for fairness' sake:

How Much is That Doggy in the Window?

Moving on and keeping you in the know: How insane is this?? A related sidebar estimates that Americans will spend $35.9 billion on their pets by the end of 2005. Wow.

Don’t get me wrong, I am an animal lover, not a fighter, but still: Whoo!

And with that, I leave you for today. Time for leftover pizza…but wishing I had ice cream.

Friday, August 19, 2005

It's like something out of that twilighty show about that zone

Today I have: sent out a resume and writing sample to another prospective employer (this time someone who is looking for a freelancer); gone to two markets in preparation for our camping trip this weekend; forgotten to get bread and beer, despite being in two aforesaid markets; stopped off at the party store to get dinosaur figurines to put on top of my nephew's birthday cake; made several trips from garage to 5th floor apartment, unloading all groceries, etc.; diced and boiled 4 pounds of potatoes to make potato salad; disemboweled a watermelon, cantaloupe, and two mangoes; sent an e-mail update to my charter school/pro bono work contact; and had a phone conversation with another potential freelance client. On top of all that, I still have to bake the cake for my nephew*, to bring with us on the camping trip, and I haven't had any coffee yet.

* My darling Matt Man, who just turned 7:

SEVEN! Next thing you know, he'll be driving!

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Viva's Teacher

Viva's teacher, who I will refer to here as Miss Svetlana, though that is not her real name, hails from Russia. She is a big-boned gal, middle-aged (whatever that means these days), has a charming accent, and light brown hair teased up into not-quite-a-bouffant. The most important thing for you to know, though, is that Miss Svetlana is FAB.U.LUSS.

Example: the other day when I dropped Viva off, Miss Svetlana arrived wearing a royal blue dress with a sailor collar, and carrying a matching blue handbag with anchors embroidered all over it. Clearly, she had the nautical theme going on. She also always wears heels, despite dealing with 2-year-olds all day. How hot is she???

But the thing I adore is that yesterday, when I walked into class to pick Viva up, everyone was dancing. Yes, including Miss Svetlana. She was getting down with her funky self to some kids' tunes, and she was really diggin' it. She said to me, "Oh, Viva loves to dance! As soon as I turn on the music, she take off dancing!" I am well aware of Viva's love of the dance, so this was not surprising, but what I was touched to see was that this morning, when I dropped Viva off, Miss Svetlana mentioned it again, and turned on the music so they could dance together. I forgot to mention that Miss Svetlana was today wearing a bright yellow top and a black and yellow skirt. Viva was the first kid to arrive today, so it was just the two of them. When I left, I turned back and saw through the window this tiny little kid, grinning and leaping about with abandon, and a giant bumblebee with a helmet of hair, shaking her groove thing, shaking her groove thing, yeah, yeah.

Bumper Sticker Alert

Seen this week: FIGHT ERRORISM

And, on the back of a pickup: YES! THIS IS MY TRUCK! NO! I WON'T HELP YOU MOVE!

Out of Gas

I recently spent $36.31 to fill up my gas tank, at $2.93/gallon. Well, we knew it was coming, but a few days later I was driving north on La Brea Boulevard and I saw this at the Chevron station at Beverly and La Brea: $2.93/regular, $3.03/plus, and $3.11/premium. My heart palpitated wildly, because, you see, my car "requires" premium. Which means I am now paying well over $3 a gallon to fuel up and run around town doing whatever the hell it is that I do.

Why are all the hybrid cars either (a) too small for anyone with children, or (2) cars that I have no interest in driving? I drove the Ford Escape as a rental while in Boston a while back, and I have to say I was underwhelmed. I would like to be somewhat environmentally responsible, and it makes me depressed, until I remember something my old friend George once said to me: "Ah, the environment -- what's it done for me lately?"

I gotta go bake that cake. Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Low Down (Not the Down Low)

Operation Get a Job 2005

I am sending out, on average, one resume per day. Just sent another one out today. My bowels are all aboil as a result. Just thought I’d share!

Shout Outs!

And a hearty welcome and hugs and kisses to my darling Ratboy, who says he’s been reading my blog, unbeknownst to me. Maybe at some point I will figure out how to track my loyal readership, but for now, I have thrown up my hands in disgust. I did try downloading one of those free “stats counters” but I could not for the life of me get it to work. I am, as you know, not the most techno-hip chiquita ever to walk the earth.

Anyhoo, Ratboy says he found out about my blog from a little birdie. This sounds suspiciously like M, also known as Mr. X. Not that he looks anything like a little birdie, but I can very easily visualize him flipping the bird, so it seems like a match. So I'ma holla at him, too! Shout out to M, with the delightful buzzcut which I haven't yet seent!

Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape

I went to my yoga class this morning and it was delightful. My yoga teacher-slash-new best friend, whose name I can’t write here because (a) it is really unusual and (b) it is really impossible to spell, told me today that I am very flexible. I think she is full of shit, but I like her anyway, because we don’t just do yoga in her class – we incorporate Indian dance into it. We’re all like, Bollywooding around! We’re all Monsoon Wedding and shit. It’s frickin’ great.

Soon I will have a job and no longer be able to take this class. Booo!

More to say, but I must get in my Blah Blah Mobile and go pick up Viva and take her to ballet. Tutus, people! Tutus!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

My Home is a Wreck

...but I'm not a home wrecka like Angelina Jolie.

It's the post-vacation clean-up time. I just did the grocery shopping, and I need to wash dishes and vacuum and maybe do some laundry. My bed isn't made, there's crap lying all over the living room, and I just made myself a cup of tea and decided to blog.

It's not really procrastinating if I look up job stuff while I'm online, right?

Speaking of which, I e-mailed my resume to some poor unsuspecting soul yesterday, along with a letter about how great I am and how they would have to be completely insane not to hire me. I think those were the exact words I used. We'll see what happens.

In the meantime, I am doing some pro bono work for a local charter school, or rather for the group that is trying to get a new charter school off the ground. If this all works out, we might send Viva there in 2008 for kindergarten. If she actually did end up going there (instead of the private school in which she is now enrolled), this pro bono work could potentially save us somewhere between $85,000 and $90,000, depending on how much tuition goes up. Yes, for primary school. So it may actually not be pro bono as it is traditionally defined, but in its truest literal sense, it will, i.e., for good, i.e., all to the good. All to the good for the Blah Blah Family, that is!

[I'm sorry, I know I am such a huge geek. I took years and years of Latin, from 8th grade all the way into college. I can't help myself.]

Random Gushing

Can I just say how much I love the Farmer's Market? I just bought a basket of tomatoes for a buck. One dollar!

And Now for an Important News Break...

Scary earthquake news from Japan, although from what "experts" say, Japan got lucky and so far, there are no casualties and only a couple of small tsunamis. I have nothing snarky to say about this. It reminds me that Southern California could be hit at any time, and we have no preparations made for a Viva of this size and season. Our earthquake bag probably has six-month size outfit in there for her. And no shoes!

Anyone Care for Ham?

Last night, I was treated to a re-enactment of a scene from Return of the King.

Sweet William: Here, I'll be Faramir, and you be Aragorn.

Viva [in a slow, deep voice]: And the king...came back...[moving slowly]

SW: And Faramir, the last Steward of Gondor, bowed low before the King...[bows low] and gave him his crown... [tries to put imaginary crown on Viva's head, but she is bouncing all around and giggling]

SW: Aragorn? I've never seen you behave this way. [more giggling and squealing] Well [deepening his voice again], Faramir picked the King up, and swung him high in the air! [screeching laughter] And then Faramir put him on top of his head! [screaming hysteria from Viva]

What am I supposed to do with these two?

I am shocked and awed. There, I said it.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Oh, Mis-con-sin!

Very happy birthday wishes to Aileen: Go Badgers!

Aileen, your friend Tammy was not able to set any flamingos on fire on your lawn this year, since you live at such an inconsiderate distance. But she asked me to wish you a happy birthday as a surprise. I am sure it is not quite the same, but here is your obligatory flamingo:

[Picture flames licking around it. My graphics skills are subpar.]

I wish you every happiness this year -- good health, prosperity, and the extra energy you will need for dealing with a two-year-old.

And by the way, 34 is not so bad. As I recall, it was actually quite a lovely year. Enjoy!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Pampering. Not the Diapers.

How can I tell you, O Internet, of the beauty that was my birthday?

Let me count the ways.

(1) Viva! Woke up grumpy. As she was sitting on the potty, I reminded her that today was my birthday. Her face lit up. "Happy Birthday!" she crowed, opening her arms wide in the universal "give me a hug" signal. We hugged nicely. She smelled of sweetness and light. "I'm so excited!" she said. I just love her so.

(2) Milk Bath! At a spa. In a dimly lit room with soft music and flickering candles.

(3) Facial! At same spa. Long overdue. Hey, there's my skin!

(4) Lunch! At a restaurant. Focaccia, shrimp fettuccine and goat cheese salad.

(5) Massage! At home. Given by Sweet William's alterego, who prepared both a glass of wine and some tea for me prior to the massage and put Miles Davis on the CD player.

(6) Birthday sex! In the afternoon, while our kid was at school! No chance of being interrupted!

(7) Reading a book! In the afternoon, while our kid was at school! No chance of being interrupted!

(8) Balloon! Flowers! Cake! All delivered by my husband and child, who was nap-free and giddy with excitement/exhaustion by the time she came home.

(9) Dancing! After the cake. Apparently, to Viva it is not a party if there is not music and dancing. I guess she's right. My in-laws came over for the cake and singing and were forced to dance with all of us to the sweet strains of "Bananaphone" (not the Raffi version, the Rhonda Vincent version; click here for a funny sped-up animated version). It's a small price to pay for tiramisu cake and hijinks with your granddaughter, I'd say...

It all deteriorated shortly thereafter, due to the afore-mentioned lack of nappingness on the part of the fruit of our loins. She morphed into a complete velociraptorish, shrieking-at-high-decibel mess by about 6 o'clock. We said goodbye to our plans of a romantic dinner out and by the time we put her to bed, a scant two hours later, we were both wrung out as though we had run a marathon.

I felt every one of my 35 years after that. (I forgot to mention that I've decided that with this birthday, I'm going backwards. I've decided I should at least be younger than Sweet William, who in real life is 16 months younger than I. Hmm, for a very interesting look at age and time and marriage and life, I recommend The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. I read it this past week, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library and their fabulous online hold feature. Yes, regular readers! I have already received some of the books I requested! It is just as fabulous as I feared -- I mean, hoped!)

Many happy returns of the day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Ten threes and a seven

Tomorrrow is my birthday. Since I will be spending it first getting Viva ready for school and then getting her to school and then speeding over to the spa for a milk bath and a facial and then having lunch and then doing heaven knows what until I go out for a fabulous romantic dinner -- well, I don't know that I will be blogging much, is all. But I've missed you and I wanted to say hello, again.

I will be thirty-seven years old tomorrow. I wish to share some hard-earned words of wisdom with you all, but naturally, I can't think of any. [Insert tasteless joke about early-onset Alzheimer's here.]

I have a sense of anticipation about the coming year. I feel lots of change in the air -- and not the quarters and dimes kind of change, but like real change. Not like the change of life, I hope, but change in my life. I'm quite looking forward to it.

I'm on Vacation!

Checking in to say I'm on vacation. Quick rundown:

Viva's first few days at new school: somewhat disappointing. Her teacher called her by the wrong name the entire first day. Ma and Pa Blah Blah very unhappy. Viva confused. Hopeful things will improve. We are, after all, paying an obscene amount of money to send her there.

Number of times we've been to the movies so far on vacation: 0.

Number of times we've eaten out: 3?

Number of car dealerships we've been to: 2

Number of test drives: 0

Number of cars bought: 0

Number of cars we currently own serviced by a mechanic this week: 2

How many days until my birthday: 1!

Sorry so short. More later...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Celebrational, Educational, One Bad Situational

I Can't Transcribe a Guitar Riff...

...But if I could, I'd put the opening chords of "[You Say it's Your]Birthday" up there. The birthday greetings have begun! What fun! This, despite my birthday being a week away. I received a card from one of my bestest friends, Coolia, yesterday, via which she said since she has been late with birthday greetings she is sending mine early.*

Also, my dear friend M sent me an e-card today, the text of which (in its entirety) is, "Truism: It's your birthday, so rock out with your cock out!" Sadly, it appears he meant to send this on my actual birthday, but it came prematurely (get it? Get it? Ouch, sorry, but that pun was just floating out there...)

At any rate, I love all the early birthday wishes. Thanks, guys!

* This is all the more sweet as I know she is consumed with work problems, personal issues, and flying to Phoenix every two weeks to help care for her mom, who is, it appears, in the early stages of a deteriorating illness. Coolia, you are the coolest and I love you madly.

School's Out!

For one day, anyway. Viva ended her career at one preschool today and will begin at her new, bigger, better, bionic preschool on Monday. One of the moms (O's mom) at her preschool was pressuring me to get together with them tomorrow for a play date at LACMA, but I made her back off. "Back off, bitch!" I said.

Um, actually, what I think I said was, "That's so sweet, but you know, tomorrow is kind of our last hurrah, since Viva will now be in preschool five days a week and I will be going back to work, so I think I'm going to just spend the day with her, you know, just the two of us." And of course O's Mom was completely understanding, but still was reluctant to let us go, as was pretty much everybody at the school. Viva told me on the way home that Miss Elsa (her teacher) was crying. I was a little skeptical of this, but then when I asked why, Viva said, "She goin to miss me." Awww, so sweet.

For my part, I did write Miss Elsa a very nice note and brought her flowers to thank her for being so great and making Viva's first school experience such a positive one. And I even brought cookies for the kids! (Not homemade. Come on, now, people.)

I do think she has really had a good experience at school, and I am hopeful that her experience at the new school will be just as good, if not better.

Oh, but wait! Hold the phone! Here is the big news of the day: when I picked Viva up, she was wearing the same outfit as when I dropped her off. This means that she kept her pants dry, and used the toilet only, for the entire day thus far (as she also just peed before her nap and is currently sleeping like a babe). As it is now almost 3 PM, I think this is pretty damn fantastic, and practically light years away from a mere two days ago, when she brought home poopy pants in a bag. I high-fived her at school when I saw she was dry, and I am thinking this calls for some kind of special treat. Ah! Fortuitously, I bought fingerpaints just yesterday. Perhaps we can try them out when she gets up. The carpet needs cleaning anyway...

Warning: Do Not Try This at Home. Or in the Car.

Forgot to mention my latest near-heart attack. On Monday, I took Viva to the park, and after playing and snacking and playing some more, I determined that it was nearly time for lunch, so we headed back to the car. Now, Viva does not currently like to just get in the car and head merrily off. Oh, no. She decided she needed a drink, and she didn't want to drink it in her car seat. She wanted to sit in my seat and pretend to drive, which I allowed her to do (Neophytes: Note well, choose your battles.). We sat there and talked and she looked in the vanity mirror and pushed buttons and it was all very nice, but then I said we should really be getting home. She happily clambered into her car seat, and we buckled her in (she knows how to buckle the top buckle ALL BY HERSELF, "I DO IT MYSELF"), and I shut the car door and went around to the driver's side, and --

The door was locked. All the doors were locked. Viva had hit the "lock button" while the doors were open, and I had just locked my kid inside the car. With the key in the ignition, but with the engine (and air conditioning) off. Near noontime on a Southern California summer's day.

Here is a basic transcription of what went through my head: OH FUCK OH FUCK OH FUCK OH MY GOD Okay wait the front windows are ajar and we are under a tree so she won't die right away from the heat Let me see if I can push the window down and reach the button NO GODDAMMIT Okay, Honey works ten minutes away and he has a key to the car OH FUCK my purse is in the fucking car with my fucking cell phone inside it wait WAIT here comes somebody "HEY! Does one of you have a cell phone PLEASE, I just locked my daughter in the car" -- and two very nice men, parents themselves, stopped to help me. One gave me his cell phone, whereupon I called Sweet William, who was just about to run out the door to come help me when the other nice man who stopped managed to force the window down further and pushed the button and opened the door.

It took all of maybe five minutes, but I would not wish it on anyone. I was trembling and about ready to throw up. Adrenaline can jack you up, man.

Whew, just thinking about it, I need a drink. Dang! Who's with me?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Old School, New School, Old Car, New Car

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.

Back to the Future, Forward to the Past

(Not one of my strongest subheads. Sahr.) Have you ever watched that PBS show "Frontier House"? I've watched some of it before, but this weekend, I had the opportunity to see the first episode, and it was pretty great. I realized that the mom from Tennessee came in behaving like a bitch, and that it really wasn't the strains of 1883 Montana that made her that way. The premiere episode really went beyond expectations, in that it featured a team of runaway horses, a washed-out road (making the wagon train grind to a halt), a dog attacking a child, and a woman complaining as she loaded a wagon, "Sure makes me miss my Land Rover." Tee hee.

But the best part of all was when Sweet William said, "Hey, how come they don't do a show called 'Ghetto House'?"

How fabulous would that be? Drop a few "all-American" families into the ghetto armed with nothing but 100 bucks in cash, a couple of sick kids, no health insurance, no jobs, and rent due on the one-bedroom apartment that eight of them have to share? Now, that would be entertainment.

The Velociraptor in My Home

Today, Viva wore cloth training pants to school. I dropped her off with an extra change of clothes, of course, and when I picked her up, she was wearing a different outfit, of course.

"How did she do?" I asked Miss Elsa, as she handed me a plastic bag. She made a sympathetic face. I looked at the bag.

"She pretty much peed all over everything, didn't she?" I said.

But no, this is actually incorrect. She peed in her pants once, made it to the potty once, and had one hell of an accident in the second pair of training pants. Unfortunately, because Miss Elsa was trying to get the rest of her little charges ready for naptime, she didn't have time to tell me about the second incident. It was over an hour later at home, after Viva had her pre-nap snack and we went to the potty, that I remembered to open the plastic bag and --

Sweet Jesus, what happened here?

Holy crap and excuse the pun, but Viva pooped in her training pants. Oh, wait, have I mentioned that I once again had dental work? So I'm standing there, with my jaw throbbing and yet numb at the same time, looking at a shit-stained pair of pink-flowered undies. I'm stunned.

Viva hardly ever poops in her pants. She is very particular about getting to the potty for this particular function. So that is surprising enough, but the truly stunning part is that I realize that I am somehow going have to get the shit off the pants. And the only way I can think of is to flush the toilet so I have a fresh bowl, and then swish the undies around in it.

Is your stomach churning, too? Have I mentioned that Viva starts at her new school next week, where they expect her to be pretty well toilet-trained? Ah.

At any rate, Viva watches me swish and flush, swish and flush, and then shrieks with disbelief as I remove the now poop-free undies from the toilet and toss them into some soap and water in a separate receptacle.

"I wash the training pants!" she screams, leaping up and grabbing them from the water. "I wash in the toilet!"

"Yuck, honey, no," I say, trying to grab them back. We tug-of-war for 2 seconds. I prevail. She loses her mind and starts shrieking like a velociraptor. I know I am prone to exaggerate, but I actually say to her, "Oh my GOD, what are you, a velociraptor?"

She runs into the living room screaming, realizes she has missed the "Goodbye Song" on Blue's Clues, and freaks out afresh. Try to imagine the sound a velociraptor might make when it realizes it has been bamboozled. Now multiply by a factor of five.

At this point, I have washed my hands of any residual poop-water and caught up to her. I grab her and hold her and talk to her calmly, explaining to her that washing poopy pants is something I want to do for her as part of the way I take care of her and that it's nice that she wants to help, but she can really just leave it to me. And also that this is a tape, and we can rewind so she can say "See ya later, sweet potato" to Joe. At this, she calms down, we rewind, she sings and dances with the song, and shortly thereafter is all snuggled in her sleeping bag taking a nap.

And me? Goddamn, I have the worst fucking headache ever.

Vehicular Woes, You Got to Go

Sweet William's Jeep is 11 years old and it's getting to that point where things are starting to go wrong with it and it's not seeming worth it to fix them. The really rough part of this is that his air conditioning is broke. And it's summer. And we live in L.A. And he has no covered parking at work. And so at the end of the day, his Jeep is, how do you say, an environment in which one could grow orchids. That is to say, like a greenhouse. Woe is him.

Added to that, my lease ends in October, so not only do we have to probably buy Sweet Willie a new car, but we have to decide whether to buy out the lease on my Passat or get me into a new car as well. Let me remind you that only one of us is working right now. D'oh!

However, we certainly have been having fun dreaming about the new cars we might get. Oh, yes. All is well in the Fantasy Nook at Chez Blah Blah. Come on in! Sit down! Have some Haagen-Dazs and beer! I promise they won't stick to your thighs! Or your waist! What's that you say? You seem to be leaning only toward German or Swedish-made automobiles? Not to worry -- with employee pricing, you can practically get two cars for the price of one! Who cares if they're more expensive to repair and maintain?

Hmm, my headache appears to have gotten worse.