Monday, October 31, 2011

Ghouls and Masks

Violet was in the kindergarten Halloween parade this morning. She's been wanting to be in one of these things after watching her sister from the sidelines for years. Look how happy she is. Not at all. The kid is deeply invested in complaining to her mama.

This is Daisy before her parade. Whenever I approach her at school events lately, I'm always doing the wrong thing. She was scolding me here about standing in front of her class. The rule is you have to sit at the parade sidelines. Daisy loves rules when I'm not making them.

My mind is full and today's distracted moments ran deep. Then I got my bearings. I was having dinner at my ex's with our kids and and a neighbor from the apartments, getting ready to go trick-or-treating with friends. Everything seemed so normal and drama-free in a way that probably hasn't ever happened for us on a Halloween before the reorganization. Amazing.

We always trick-or-treat in the same neighborhood where an assortment of friends live. I swear I saw the same starry pumpkin at the same house last year and couldn't bring myself to take a picture. Everything just seemed so freaking difficult. In Daisy's words, it was even worser than I thought.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Many Happy Returns, Diwali

I was just thinking it's been too long since I did something hippie for the blog. After all, this is for my daughters, and when I show it to them when they're teenagers, they are going to be AMAZED by what their mother has put on the internet for them (just kidding - this is their favorite).

Diwali has nothing to do with hippies; it's just something hippies really, really like. Keep your ears open for enthusiastic Diwali conversations if you ever find yourself at say a Further concert or surrounded by blond dreads during the month of October. And, I think those guys have a point. It's hard not to like the Festival of Lights.

I looked up a few (unattributed) Diwali greetings to get into the spirit. I think I love this holiday.

Fill the Heart with the oil of love.
Place in it the wick of single-pointed mind.
Light it with the Knowledge of Truth and remove
the darkness of ignorance around you.

May the festival of lights be the harbinger of joy and prosperity. As the holy occasion of Diwali is here and the atmosphere is filled with the spirit of mirth and love, here's hoping this festival of beauty brings your way, bright sparkles of contentment, that stay with you through the days ahead. Best wishes on Diwali.

Independence of JAVA
Power of UNIX
Popularity of WINDOWS
Luxury of .NET
Efficiency of C
Ease of VB
Robustness of ORACLE
Vision of PHOTO SHOP
Vastness of INTERNET
Compactness of JPG
Richness of BMP
Coverage as YAHOO
Reach-ness of GOOGLE And
Security of NORTON!!!
Many many Happy Returns
of Diwali

Ur Eyes Patakha, Ur Lips Rocket,
Ur Ears Chakari, Ur Nose Fuljari,
Ur Style Anaar, Ur Personality Bomb,
SMS Karo Varna I'm Comin With Agarbatti.
 Happy Diwali.

I pray to god to give u
Aur sneh.
Shubh Diwali.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Yes, 8

I joined Daisy's 3rd grade class for a field trip to the farm for her birthday. I've never been around such a well-informed group of little treehuggers. Don't try to explain what organic means or how to make compost; they know. Mention edible flowers, and they'll run to wild mustard, drop on all fours, and munch down like Bambi. At the end of our farm visit, when we were grinding the corn for our tortillas to eat with the salsa as it was being sliced, one of the kids mentioned that she used to make tortillas for a job when she lived in Mexico. Wait, you know how to cook AND you have work experience? Her teacher was doubtful, but I'm thinking that kid could pull it.

Third graders are as innocent as they are wise. They make their spot on commentary with their big teeth and hyperactive giggles. When it comes to things like field trips and birthdays, they're like dogs riding shotgun with their heads out the window. And when the teacher requested today that someone explain to the new kid, "how you go to the bathroom," there was not a smirk or inappropriate response to be found among the 20 of them. She was actually talking about the process of getting excused from the classroom, but if you said something like that to a room full of teenagers, it would not go well.

Daisy's birthday celebration ended with a reorganized family dinner at a favorite restaurant. The kids seem to be adjusting to these types of gatherings. The only real challenge was when Violet discovered the restaurant had shown Edward Scissorhands recently. She was very, very disappointed and had us ask the waiter about 500 questions along the lines of "When will Edward Scissorhands be shown again at this venue?"

Daisy was her lovely self all day, although a bit obsessed with the birthday. Like most third graders, she knew how everything should go and was a little jumpy about the flow of events, from before alarm to end of day. Exhausted. Will recuperate at work tomorrow.

apple harvest

rainbow chard

apple juice

bee hive

chicken love

drum circle




good times

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dog Halloween 2011: Bring It

I just have to say there was a time in the not-too-distant past when my mother and father made me feel like I was the family freak, just because I like to dress up my dog Sadie and take her trick-or-treating once a year.

Last year, their dear Lena's first Halloween, was so much fun. Lena and Sadie went as matching squirrels and got good feedback at our traditonal Dog Halloween event I will call LG. This year, I was excited to let Lena know in advance that Sadie would be going as a turtle (confidential stamp), hoping to coordinate our mass-produced dog costumes.

I should have known something was up when my father recited a list of dog halloween events I had never heard of at kid pickup tonight. Oh, OK . . . I guess we don't have to go to LG. And then the clincher - Lena will not be doing a Target costume this year. Lena will be shopping for her costume at the dog boutique everyone else is talking about in my parents' community dog people group.

Oh, Dog Halloween 2011 is ON. Sadie is going to be an amazing turtle. And I don't want to give too much away, but there might be glitter involved. Crossing my fingers I'm not working through the whole thing.

Warm up:

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Kid World

I’m mostly in conversations with kids these days. My busy/tired schedule has made real grownup conversations the exception, especially those of the nonwork variety. That’s fine. For now, I should be more concerned with the absence of exercise, major life goals, and a financial plan. Also, there’s something soothing about kid world. The harshness of reality is diffused, remote, like living behind a wall of glass blocks.

I reserved most of Sunday for the kids. We toured artist open houses, talked about the art, found some etchings for the apartment, but mostly, we focused on the refreshments. I had to tease my ex later about the values he’s imparting on the kids. When my girls saw the table of appetizers and drinks at the first stop, they jumped up and down, yelling “FREEEEEE FOOOOOD!!!” in some kind of starving frat boy victory dance.

Where’d you learn that?

“Free food is great, Mom! We found free food with Dad on the way to Oma and Opa’s the other day. It was so good! It was free!”

What amazed me was the stuff the kids were willing to eat in the name of free food. Snap peas, raw broccoli, salsa. I should start pretending to find their dinner out in the courtyard. And it certainly cuts down on those lengthy meals. Apparently, you must gulp free food down as quickly as possible, as if someone is about to come pry your mouth open to take their food back.

Despite the amazing free food, I still needed to stop by Trader Joe’s on the way home to get ready for the week. Daisy took a stand against my store choice, “I hate Trader Joe’s. Why can’t we just go to Safeway?”

Violet tried to reason with her, “Sis, we can yook for the tiki man!”

“I don’t even like that tiki man . . . and I hate Trader Joe’s! When I grow up, I’m moving to Canada so I never have to look at another Trader Joe’s!” I’m not sure what sort of extremists Daisy’s been associating with because even the samples didn’t change her mind.

I’ve been stressed, and the kids drive me crazy, but they anchor me in kid world. It’s a much better place to be than many of the places adults go when they’re escaping their worries. I have to give the girls some credit for my blood pressure being normal and my hair finally starting to grow back. Last night, they insisted on sleeping on either side of me. For the sound of the rain and the presence of their little funny selves, I was thankful.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I am afraid of relationships. I’m sure you can appreciate that a tired 40-year-old living in a tiny apartment with two children should be worried about getting into a relationship. Still, I’ve been trying to figure out why my love life has always been on the rocky side. If I can’t identify what the problem is, how can I avoid it?

The answer is so obvious, I already knew it. My breakthrough occurred Wednesday. I was sitting with a friend at a picnic table in the glaring sun as our kids played on the grassy field in the distance. She was describing her outpatient program for alcoholism. We were laughing as she was explaining how annoying it was to have to take responsibility for everything all the time. Then, she segued into a discussion of codependency. Uh oh.

Reluctantly, I googled codependency when I got home. Duh. When I was a teenager, my mother pulled me aside for the talk. She had been doing some work around healing herself as an adult child of an alcoholic. She was concerned she had passed down codependent tendencies to me. I heard the words but shrugged them off.

I never thought about codependency being about playing the martyr role in any relationship, personal or professional.  About four years ago, when I quit the teaching job that had taken over my life for a decade, I began to break the pattern. I started demanding things from my ex in the following year, and it didn’t go so well. I escaped with emotional distance; there was less conflict at home, but I had left the building. It was an overcorrection I was never able to undo.

What I want more than anything is to prevent my daughters from  blindly marching forward for the martyr cause. I see the tendencies in them already. A couple months back, I found Daisy crying in the dirt several feet away from a neighbor kid she adores who had rejected her to play with someone else. The kids in question had just been over to eat our food and were now playing with Daisy’s toys while making mean comments about her. She sat and cried dramatically, unwilling to leave with me. I came unglued.

I loudly instructed Daisy on how she should have handled the situation. Not exactly sure what I said because the fire coming out of my ears made it hard to hear. I know I took our toys back and said the other kids weren’t welcome in our apartment. My reaction was ridiculous, and those neighbor relations have only recently thawed.

There was a point when I felt like I had disappeared in the face of caring for others. I dreaded the little bios you always have to write for work or conferences or whatever; I had nothing to say. It’s been interesting learning to think about my needs, and I’m not great at it. I can be unreasonable, too open, and overemotional, but I’m adjusting. For now, that's enough.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Family Restaurant

On our way out of a family restaurant recently, Daisy and Violet wanted to take a detour by the video game room. Because fun is my middle name, I was like, sure! Perfect opportunity to clean out my purse. As the girls stood on their tippy toes to play games they weren’t actually playing most of the time, I sorted my purse refuse into piles on the purple velvet couch cushion to my right.

A man appeared in a nearby chair. He had boys who joined my girls at the video games. As he chatted me up, I quietly put away my purse project. I am a strange mix of shy and social. I can talk to anyone about anything, and I can’t talk at all. I don’t know why certain situations make me feel so inhibited, but I know I don’t do pickup convos. If I even wonder if that’s what’s up, I sprint for the nearest exit.  

Of course, I couldn’t ditch the kids. And, who cares about what the other person’s intent is? I must strive to keep an open mind because what else is there. Anyway, the conversation warmed up a bit and he asked me where we live. When I told him, his response was enthusiastic as he identified his favorite local hangout.

I asked him what he liked to do there, and he pointed to the margarita sitting in front of him on the coffee table between us, “I like to drink. I fill up my cooler with alcohol, sit on the beach all day, and watch the guys play volleyball.”
He added, “I watch the girls too.”
Great. I was so tempted to be like, Dude, let me give you some feedback. However, I think we can all agree his campaign of transparency is in the best interest of divorced mothers at family restaurants everywhere.

By the time he was describing his parents’ house in Hawaii, I was summoning the girls to escort me for a quick exit. Dear Guys Who Don’t Know, parents and parent homes are never impressive in the first conversation you have with a woman. Hawaii or no.