Saturday, July 31, 2010

Yesterday Joedy gave me a camera, a replacement for the one that broke a couple months ago, and this evening Diablo and Astrid and I drove down South Congress

to Town Lake to go for a walk and take some pictures.

Before we began the walk the dogs ran around

and went for a swim;

I admired the old train bridge

and a shiny skyscraper

and the way the branches framed

the rippling water.

Soon after, I put the dogs' leashes on

and we started down the path,

stopping frequently to ooh and aah at the leaves overhead

and the trees by the side of the path, at how dramatic they looked lit up by the setting sun.

After a little while we turned a corner and saw two swans in the water: I told Diablo and Astrid to sit

and then I took picture

after picture

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after picture.

I thought it couldn't get much better than those swans by the path, but when we crossed the big bridge I took a picture of the buildings sticking out of the trees.

Just now, sitting at the kitchen table, I noticed there are swans in that picture too; they're small and far away,

but I like them a lot anyway.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

What have I to say, on this night of Yawn?

I took Lula and her friend to see a movie this afternoon; in the car her friend told us his family refers to some baby they know, who happens to be black, as a monkey. In other words, they call the baby a monkey because the baby is black.


The movie we saw, "Grown Ups," was the worst horrific shit trash crap excuse for a film I have seen in a long, long time, not the least because of all the not-so-subtle woman-bashing throughout. It was the story of five idiotic men getting together again after a long, long time, to commemorate their beloved "Coach" (GAG), who died, and each man has a girlfriend/wifey/nanny tagging along, and guess what? It was like a gigantic reaming session on females.

"Oh, he cooks and he's sensitive--it must be that time of the month for him, he's just like a GIRL!"

"Look, he's going out with an older woman--what a hag she is!"

"His wife is sexy and successful, but really she's a stuck-up ding-dong who only redeems herself by apologizing to her bloated disgusting Adam Sandler fool of a husband for having wanted to go to Fashion Week in Milan inside of partaking in the madcap inanities of the menfolk at their rented lake house! Crazy bitch!"

"His mother-in-law, a big black mammy type, farts and has bunions. Gross!"

"His twin daughters are total opposites--one's a sexpot temptress, and the other's a nearly retarded geek!"

"His sons' nanny, from China, speaks with a strong, dorky accent and doesn't understand a thing! Goofy Chinese chicks!"

I'm not being entirely fair: the stereotypes ran rampant in all directions, drenching the men, the kids (gotta have your chunky pre-teen nerd in there), the pets, and the "villians" (what, oh what, was Steve Buscemi doing there?) in overly-buttered idiotic Hollywood popcorn barf--so pleasing, it seems, to the taste of...WHO? Who likes this awful shit?

My main gripe, besides the fact that there was not ONE ADMIRABLE FEMALE FIGURE portrayed in the entire piece of crap, was that, AGAIN, it was a movie about BOYS.

God, I'm so sick of boys, boys, boys in the movies: does anybody else wonder what it would be like if the roles were switched? If all of a sudden we were all watching movies about women, and it was totally normal? Boys and men would voluntarily go to movies about girls and women, without batting an eyelash? They'd pay attention to us the way we do to them?

Don't get me wrong: I'm not a guy-hater. Not at all. I just would like to see more women, more interesting, intelligent women, in the movies. And in music, for that matter. And in politics (note: Sarah Palin is NOT interesting and intelligent). I think I'd like to see more women everywhere, in fact, but at fine dining establishments featuring bikini-clad waitpeople.

Goodness! I guess I had a rant in me after all. Just like a woman to keep it inside until--BLAM!--she lays it all out on you. I must have had an African killer bee in my bonnet...

Anyhoo--it's late. Lula just came downstairs saying she's scared, so I better go up to bed.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Oh goodness, godness, groosness, here I yam, starting a blog entry late as yalways.

It's 10:47. I just got home from the gym, where I stealth-poured a gallon of water on the rocks in the sauna to make the dang thing hotter, and then pretended to know naught 'bout why 'twas haught. I think you're not supposed to fiddle with the thing, but it's often, like, just lukewarm, and I had all that whiskey I needed to sweat out...

Speaking of whiskey, I always regret writing about ME having FUN in this blog--the day after posting an entry about sunning or drinking or swimming, indulging in Yay It's Good To Be Me hedonistic activities, I'll read an article about Chinese kids being beaten to death in internet addiction camps and I'll be, like, Jesus, can I get more preoccupied with stupid self-centered stuff? WHO CARES ABOUT ME HAVING FUN?? IT'S NOT IMPORTANT!!

I know it's good to relax, and I think it's fine to talk about how much fun one's having every once in a while, but it can be sobering to read about a fourteen-year-old boy named Deng who died within a day of his stay at an internet addiction camp, having been beaten by the guards, and knowing his story is just one of many: of many other abused kids in China, of many other abused kids--people--worldwide. It can be sobering, and it can make one mad at oneself for indulging in silliness and braying about that to the world, as if it were important...

So: business time. Today, mere MONTHS after promising to never again put Malko in standard bad-for-the-environment diapers, I bought reusable diaper covers with compostable liners and 100% Natural and Compostable Chemical Free Fragrance Free Chlorine Free Baby Wipes Made From Plants Not Oil! The diaper covers are cloth, in brown and tan (they come in other colors), and when I put the whole shebang on Malko he looked so cute and comfy I wanted to try them on too. They weren't that expensive (the liners were the same price, more or less, as a package of dipes) and I'm really glad because now I won't visualize mountain ranges of putrid rotting diapers every time I change Malky; of course, those mountain ranges will still be there--one year less, give or take, of one baby's dipes isn't going to make much of a difference--but I already feel less guilty, and totally stoked that these options actually exist! Yay, um..."Little G Pants" and "Elements" wipes! Way to go!

The diaper thing was really bothering me--I felt like I hadn't kept my word--and another thing's been bothering me too: back at the beginning of the year I said I wanted to make "giving" my theme--giving in the sense of giving myself, being available to people, being involved in their lives. I wanted to make up for not being a good enough family member and friend in the past; I wanted to become a giver.

I have to admit--it's unpleasant--that I've fallen far short of my standards, and frankly, despite a somewhat better record of email/phone communication, I still consider myself a not-so-great friend and family member. My biggest problem is timeliness: I tend to put off replying to people until very late, and sometimes by then I feel so bad I don't reply at all; although I'll try to encourage myself to reply by looking on the positive side, saying "a late email/phone call is better than none," the fact is, sometimes a late email/phone call just seems shitty. For all my apologies (I've started many, many communications with "I'm SO sorry this is so late"), the fact remains that often I don't make an effort to communicate faster, better--probably because I'm focused on other things. Like myself.

It's not totally awful--I've made some headway--but I know I can do a lot better, so I guess I'm going to just keep trying to make this year one I'm proud of. With two new babies (three, actually) in the family, I have plenty of opportunity to practice giving, and if I run out of little people who need mobiles and little books and clothes, there are lots of BIG people who might benefit from a dozen cookies or two...

Watch out! Watch out for the Cookie Express!


Friday, July 23, 2010

We got back from Corpus today and I have to say it was a VERY relaxing time. After writing the last post, where I was all angsty and unrelaxable, Joedy and I met up with some old friends of his; we drank whiskey out of a plastic water bottle and ate fried tortillas with fried fish and after many hours I found myself babbling while doing ballet on a balcony.

The balcony belonged to a friend who lived right behind the hotel; we lurched back to the room not too late, just late enough for me to have lost much of my normal brain function and my bag, a drama (the bag) that lasted less than twenty-four hours (it was on the table of the friend's house) and filled me with just enough of a thrill: crazy me, I'd lost my bag!

It was strangely kind of exciting. I felt like I did in the past, before we had kids and the party lasted not one night but two years; I felt gritty and reckless (hell's bells, I lost my bag!), and the next day I drank more whiskey. On the beach. In the afternoon. Just a little, but still--what fun!

Since there were no bathrooms on the beach I wandered around looking for a creative way to pee discreetly (I'd have swum out, but I'm afraid of sharks, so I "looked for shells" in the shallow water). After that, I watched Joedy and his friends fly a wakeboarding kite, imagining it hitting the beach and cutting someone's head off. It didn't kill anyone, but I'm pretty sure that's because I very clearly mimicked someone being decapitated and generally expressed my paranoid disapproval, bringing an end (thank GOD!) to the kite fun.

Later, back at the hotel, we were treated to a surprise luau: Joedy's mom and the kids made us wear coconut bras and grass skirts while we gorged ourselves on deep-fried shellfish. After that, we watched Tom Cruise make a fool of himself on TV and it was totally delightful.

This morning we packed up and hit the road and got back and picked up our friend BLAINE!!

Our old friend Blaine, whom we hadn't talked to in three years but who, when Joedy called him last week, immediately bought a plane ticket to come see us and is here now, for the weekend.

Blaine is adorable; I'm so happy to see him!

It's nice to be home!

I don't think the fun is over yet!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hi everyone!

We're in Corpus, with Joedy's mom and our nieces and nephew, enjoying a few days at a hotel on the beach. We got here yesterday afternoon and went straight down to the water, which was very warm, almost Costa Rica warm, and after an hour of lolling around in the sand, looking at the clouds turn pink and then gold, listening to the ssshhh, ssshhhh, ssshhh of the waves, I realized that yes, I do miss the ocean.

It came as a bit of a surprise: the whole time we've been in Austin I've been like "miss the ocean? Nah, not really. We have so much water here!" Which is true, and it's true the ocean isn't far...but I do miss it. So it's nice to be here.

The departure and drive went swimmingly: we cleaned the entire house so it won't smell like a petting zoo when we get back Friday (I still don't know why it reeked so bad last time), and I packed an assortment of interesting but healthy foodstuffs so we wouldn't stop at a fast food joint right away, as we are usually wont to do. In the spirit of organized road-tripping I made Lula and Malko drape an immense towel over their entire bodies while eating their whole wheat pasta+parmesan salad and organic whole-grain dark chocolate chunk spelt cookies so crumbs wouldn't fall in the Super Luxury Deluxe vehicle we're borrowing; cleaning the car before we left, I was appalled by all the crud in the crevices of the leather seats, crud I'm pretty certain has accumulated since we've been using it.

Since we had plenty of grub on hand Malko was kept mute, for the most part: each time he started to fuss, flailing his arms like--crazy idea--he'd rather be out running around in the green fields we were passing, I shoved another cookie in his mouth. It worked: he'd shut up for a good fifteen minutes--enough time to chew the cookie, retrieve it from his mouth, look at it, smear some organic chocolate drool behind his ear and in his hair, and then offer, with a big smile, the wet crumby remains to his sister.

This morning we came back from the hotel breakfast (what is it about little packets of fake cream that makes them so exciting to me? I just, like, can't get enough of this hotel coffee!) and after Joedy and I tidied up the room I said "Well, I'm not sure what I'm going to do now. I guess I don't really have anything I need to do..." and for some reason he laughed. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I'm not gainfully employed and technically my life isn't made up of a lot of "need to do's"? Or maybe because we're on a mini-vacation from Home Life and it's silly to be thinking of needing to do anything other than enjoying NOT doing laundry, dishes, laundry, dishes, laundry, dishes?

Uh oh--I think it might sound like I'm complaining about my hard life as an un-gainfully employed person! Definitely not. Definitely, definitely not. I don't mind Home Life at all: as long as I'm making headway towards becoming gainfully employed some day, preferably via a creative pursuit that I enjoy, I'm totally okey-dokey with the interminable onslaught of domestic duties. In fact, I kind of like them.

Oh god, WHERE am I going with this? Can we say "ramble"? Ramble.

My point is, I think, that I like being on vacation. I LOVE being on vacation. But after a few hours in the sand I kind of want to be doing something. I want to be making progress. I WANT TO GET SOMEWHERE, DAMMIT, WITH MY LIFE!

So it's a good thing, it's a REALLY good thing, I have this blog to write an entry in--an entry that will add to all the other entries, all the other entries that maybe mean something or maybe don't--

Jesus, I don't know. All I know is I'm thirty-six and seven months old and if I don't make something of myself sometime soon I'm going to commit hari-kari.

My name is Carrie and my legs are hairy!

The end.


Thank god.

*a lot of hotel coffee has been consumed


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

When Joedy was in California he arranged to have our stuff--the stuff we didn't take to Costa Rica last August--sent to Austin, and it finally arrived yesterday and today. We, especially Lula, had been waiting eagerly to see not only what exactly we'd kept (with three yard sales and the brain-melting madness of trying to import a pet rabbit to Central America, things got blurry) but what condition everything was in. We'd told Lula ALL her old toys were coming, which was a big lie, because I remember throwing away BOXES of plastic crap with missing pieces, and I was apprehensive about that: would there be enough toys, or would it be disappointing for her? Would any of the clothes she kept talking about actually fit? Could I stand to see her sad again, so soon after the Liam business?

The delivery truck pulled up late yesterday afternoon while I was feeding Malko; hoping he wouldn't launch himself headfirst out of his high chair, I ran down the driveway and yelled hello to the driver. He jumped down from the cab, smiled, and opened the back: I saw a smallish stack of boxes, familiar but worn-looking, some smooshed, the whole thing kind of listing to one side, in the middle of the floor. My heart sank; I thought the stack looked tiny. Meager. Depressing. I thought, this is all we kept? My god, how disappointing...I could see a plastic bin stuffed with all my old diaries, and I was like, this is what I chose to save? This is what we've been waiting for?

The driver asked if there'd been any furniture attached to the pallet. "No, no furniture," I said, regretting again that we hadn't just kept all our beat-up thrift store furniture. How I'd have loved to see our old red armoire, our old wooden desk, the kitchen table, the little chest of drawers with the broken handle. But...wait! There WAS something! I turned to the driver: "Yes, there was a cabinet! Tall, wood, antique! Do you have it?"

"Ok--yeah, we've got it," the driver said. "It's at the loading dock. I think some other boxes of yours might be there too." Some other boxes? Phewie! Great, maybe we wouldn't be so disappointed after all. I mean, my old diaries?

Joedy came home then and we started carrying the boxes into the house. Very quickly the living room turned into Toy Central, which was a good thing, because it meant I had saved enough toys (oh boy, did I save enough toys) and Lula wasn't disappointed AT ALL. Not one teeny bit. How could she be? The stack of boxes had been deceiving--it had looked small in the truck--but in fact it was not that small at all, and easily a third of the boxes were marked Toys. Toys and Baby Clothes.

My god, we have tons of toys and baby clothes now. TONS. They're everywhere: in the kitchen, on the stairs, in the bathroom, on the couch, on the table, under the beds, on the beds, behind the stove. How can so much stuff have fit in those dinky-looking boxes? Someone--I'm not saying who--must have done a VERY good job packing!

The second installment arrived today with "Joedy's" (he bought it before we met) antique wooden cabinet: while it was still sitting in the driveway I opened the little drawers inside and saw all the old notes we'd put there, the scraps of paper with important doodles--all the little bits of paper that chronicle our life together--and it was so...nice seeing all that again. It made me feel young and happy, and I didn't mind, suddenly, that we hadn't kept any of our other furniture. I felt like, life is an adventure! We'll say goodbye to some bedside tables and hello to others! We'll go on wild thrift store sprees, which Austin happens to be perfect for, and replace all that old junk! It's good to get rid of old things! It's good to get new old things!

But: I also might not have minded because there was--is--so much stuff filling up the house already. Not just toys and baby clothes--kitchen gear, books, photos, mobiles, strange electronic gadgetry, diaries, paintings: enough stuff that it feels like Christmas. On mushrooms. But much dustier. Enough to fill another room or two. Easily. Which is why we need to move. Soon. We hope. Because this, this is nuts!!



Thursday, July 8, 2010

Joedy got back from California on Sunday, and as we drove home from the airport he told us about all the friends he'd seen. I'm sure it was partly due to the relief of having him back, feeling the tension inside me ease: as he described so-and-so and the familiar places he'd been, I started to cry.

"I just miss my friends," I said, sniffling over the steering wheel. Lula heard the self-pity in my voice and chimed in: "Yeah, well, I miss my friends too, but I'm not crying." I laughed--it's hard to maintain pathos while being chastened by a six-year-old--and we were all happy for a while, until we got to Polvo's, our pre-fireworks restaurant of choice, and Lula's own face started getting a sad, faraway look.

"What's the matter, Lula? Are you tired?" we asked.

"No," she said, looking even sadder. "It's just...when do you think I'm going to see Liam again?"

Liam. While we lived in Ventura last year, Lula became very close to the little boy, Liam, who lived next door. Both kids were the same age, came from half-French families, and adored each other; after a weekend of nonstop togetherness, which invariably included bad behavior, hurt feelings, and forced reconciliations, they wanted nothing more than to spend the night in the same bed, where they could look into each other's eyes and giggle.

Leaving California for Costa Rica was almost as hard from a Liam perspective as any other: while Joedy and I knew we'd miss our family and friends and all the places that had come to feel like home during our 13-year life there, we knew we could keep in touch and visit again. But watching Lula say goodbye to Liam, knowing how much she loved being with him, was wrenching: we promised to call regularly, but we knew that even if we did (we didn't) it wouldn't be the same, for her, as living next door.

Joedy visited Liam and his family while he was in California, and it was his recounting of the visit, over chips and salsa at Polvo's, that pushed Lula into her sad state. Before we knew it her face crumpled and her chest started to heave; sensing something serious, I picked her up and carried her outside to the quiet street. Sitting on a curb together, she cried and cried into my shoulder, and when she asked, "Do you think Liam cries about me like this? Do you think I'll ever see him again?" I felt terrible. All of a sudden I thought we'd been horribly wrong to leave California, to give up the good things we had there; this past year had obviously been much harder for Lula than we'd thought. It was true: she hadn't made any close, solid friends, and we hadn't even kept up contact with Liam's family. It'd been cruel of us to take her away from her best friend and all the other people in California who knew and loved her.

Over the next few days Joedy and I talked about moving back. We listed the pros and cons of Austin and Santa Barbara, and for a while, despite the insanely high cost of real estate in Santa Barbara, it seemed like the better choice: Joedy would be close to his work, we could see all our friends, we'd have the mountains and the ocean.

Although the idea of living happily ever after in Santa Barbara was nice, I couldn't ignore an unpleasant feeling that grew inside me and that felt a lot like depression: moving again would mean, well, moving again, and after the last year of turbulence I still want stability--no adventure, thank you very much, for a nice long time. We--Joedy and I, and our families, too--have invested a lot, emotionally and financially, in our settling down here, and I wondered what would it mean to walk away from those investments. Would moving back to California be worth all the stress, the upheaval, the rupturing of yet more new ties? Aside from those things and more practical matters--we'd have to find a new school for Lula, we'd have to figure out new health insurance, blah blah blah, thinking about it all made me want to shoot myself--there was the fact that...

I like Austin. I really freaking like Austin. I like so much about it: the trees, the cold weather in the winter, the thunderstorms, the proximity to Joedy's family, the rivers, streams, and pools, the trailer eateries, the tattoos, the funkiness, the skyscrapers, the music, the walking paths, the friendly attitude towards dogs, the coolness, the lack of pretension. Often when I'm out running errands, I'll see something neat and think "My GOD, I love this place!" When I'm with Joedy and the kids, when we're driving down South Congress, say, towards Town Lake, I can't help saying it out loud: "I loooovvve...."

Lula, who's heard it too many times, cuts me off with an exasperated sigh: "Oh god," she says, "not again. Please don't say that thing AGAIN." To make her happy, I complete the sentence with "cockroaches" or "Diablo's stinky breath," but everyone knows what I mean.

So, does this mean we're staying in Austin? Heck no! We don't know. We'll stick it out a year (paying one-third of the rent we'd be paying in Santa Barbara) and see what happens with Joedy's work, with Lula's friendships. She'll be starting first grade in a month, and I think we'll have more success finding good friends for her this year. We called Liam a couple times recently, and Lula was thrilled--THRILLED--to hear his voice and to learn he tells everyone his best friend is in Texas. The more we stay here the more comfortable we'll get, I think, and with the money left over from our cheap rent we could, maybe, take some trips to visit the family and friends we miss. So for now, I'm just going to settle back and enjoy being here--it's not at all a bad place to be.


Friday, July 2, 2010

I try not to let more than a week go by between entries, so although I'm not really feeling it (it's late, I'm tired--the usual) I'm going to do a little update.

Joedy's been in California since Tuesday. He went to get some work done in LA and to send our remaining belongings (the stuff we left behind when we moved to Costa Rica) back here; he'll be home on Sunday, in time, we hope, for the fireworks.

I was apprehensive about being solo with the kids so we enrolled Lula in camp for this week; watching Malko is a full-time job, to say the least, and having his big sister occupied elsewhere seemed like a good idea. Lula loved camp on both Monday and Tuesday--she couldn't wait to go back Wednesday morning--but on Tuesday it started to rain really hard, enough to cause flooding in the street in front of our house and lots of other places on my way to pick her up that afternoon. After an hour and forty-five minutes in the car (it normally takes twenty minutes), terrified that the two feet of churning water we occasionally had to drive through would increase, all the while watching huge streaks of lightning shoot down and jumping at the VERY LOUD thunder, I was shaken and decided to play it safe the next day: Lula would go to camp only if "severe weather" was far, far away.

Wednesday morning predicted more heavy rain and possible flash flooding, so I kept her home; we made it out once, to give the dogs a walk at Town Lake and buy a couple activity-type presents for Lula (I bought them to keep her out of my hair, but ended up having to put the wind-up paper robots together myself) and an enjoyable, civilized cup of coffee for me, since the "coffee" we had in the fridge (something Joedy bought to deep-clean his intestinal tract, apparently) made me start sweating and jerking uncontrollably after just four sips. When we got home it was getting dark and we were all hungry, and things quickly slid into domestic chaos, with the end result being me standing in the kitchen trying not to cry from frustration (I kept kicking myself for not having taken Lula to camp) and wondering WHY THE HELL I hadn't bought any alcohol--at that point, by golly, I needed some badly.

Luckily our neighbor/friend gave me a beer and I made it through the dinner/bath/bed routine without feeling too much of the disturbing empathy I sometimes feel for Andrea Yates; by the time Lula and Malko were in bed and the sound of Malko's screeches--he's learning to speak raptor--had faded from my ears, I thought I actually liked my kids and perhaps it hadn't been such a shitty, wasted day after all. When Malko woke up at 2 a.m. and demanded first a bottle and then to "sleep" next to me (read: bang his heavy head into mine, thrash around, sit up, kick me in the stomach) I had a hard time falling back asleep, and the only reason I made it through the next day (the storm was supposed to strike again; Lula stayed home again) was because Malko fell asleep at 10 a.m. and slept till...


Yay, happy day! Malko, you heavenly, glorious child! Your mommy loves you--oh yes, she does! And now you can have all the banana-walnut-chocolate chip bread you want, you writhing bag of blubbery muscle! Because you left me alone for FOUR-AND-A-HALF HOURS! I was given almost five whole hours of freedom, during which I carefully stuck tiny robot pieces to other tiny robot pieces and did yet another HUGE pile of dishes! And changed my smelly shirt! Yay.

Last night I was so determined that Lula would go to camp today, and then, of course, not only was it raining this morning (it got floodish again at the bottom of the driveway, and I started thinking about what to pack in case we needed to evacuate--my ear plugs didn't make the cut, but I did consider bringing lotion, because I HATE having dry skin) but I was ex-haus-ted. Malko had been up again in the middle of the night, and I could barely keep my eyes open--I felt drugged. Luckily, he took another long nap and Lula read Calvin and Hobbes, and I got to sleep until 11:15, which was...wonderful.

Tomorrow Lula's playing with a friend, and since she's excited about that she didn't talk too much about camp, which was a relief. If it's clear tomorrow evening I might take the kids out for some tacos or something, maybe at a place that also sells alcohol? I have the feeling I'll be wanting a beer.