Thursday, August 26, 2010

I left my parents' house Wednesday morning at the Happy! Jolly! Gay! hour of 5:15 a.m., after saying goodbye to my mom and my brother and sister-in-law's cat; my dad drove me to the airport in a pre-dawn drizzle that made me want nothing more than to crawl back into the warm bed I'd left behind, even if it meant putting off the reunion with Joedy, Lula, and Malko for one more day.

At the Delta counter I checked in and coughed up a grotesque sum for the privilege of hauling back a suitcase full of dirty socks and underwear, then my dad and I said goodbye and I watched his head disappear from view down the escalator. After taking off my sneakers and plunking them, along with my backpack, on the security conveyor belt, I was told by a uniformed young woman to enter the Security Portal, stop, turn to the left, and assume the stance of a praying mantis. Ever the law-abider, I did as I was told, but I found it odd that I had to form a triangle with my hands, place them on top of my head, and bend my knees, all while a gigantic vibrator was waved around my chest.

If they were trying to cheer me up, it worked--I immediately saw that flying can be fun, and I was in a good mood for five minutes, until I discovered the prosthetic limbs exhibit in the hallway leading to my gate. There, I had to wonder what the message was: "If you plant a bomb in your shoe, you might not have a leg anymore"? "Tamper with the smoke alarm and we'll chop your finger off"? My eight-dollar cappuccino started tasting like bile all of a sudden, so I stopped looking at the cute fake fingers and legs with metal pieces sticking out of them and turned instead to the bookshop, where a wrecked plane, felled by heavy rain, dominated the papers.

Lately I've tried to be a more relaxed, less worried person--me? Worry? Nah!--so I did a mental shrug and proceeded to the gate, where the plane was boarding, found my seat, and then found a whole bunch of EMPTY seats, where I stretched out and felt friendly towards Delta and the skies in general.

After changing planes in Atlanta and realizing that the guys sitting across the aisle from me were going to loudly, OBNOXIOUSLY broadcast their "coolness"--specifically, the fact that they were in a band together, they cooked up all these HILARIOUS pranks ALL the time, someone had (oh gosh!) even Twittered about them--I quickly lost my zen and sank into a deeply sarcastic state, wishing there was someone, anyone, I could snicker and roll my eyes with.

There wasn't, so I just sat there and stewed until the plane landed and the most obnoxious guy in the group (he actually said "fucking" out loud, which--I'm old-fashioned I guess--I think deserved a serious spanking) more or less yelled: "So, ARE WE OPENING FOR THE CULT OR IS THE CULT OPENING FOR US?" and I replied with a (muttered) "Oh, shut up, you dumb, pretentious dork" and turned my back in a way that I hoped conveyed Major Chilliness.

Ten minutes later I was rolling my green suitcase out of baggage claim and into the warm Austin sunshine. Joedy and Malko were parked at the curb in the Super Deluxe Luxury Vehicle, the dogs happily panting disgusting breath from the back seat, and before I knew it the morning faded away, leaving me with the strange feeling that lots had just happened far, far away. Today, one day later, I'm still kind of in the faraway place, but I'm also here, on the bed next to Joedy, near Lula and Malko, Lapis, Astrid, and Diablo, and it's a pretty nice place to be.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

I'm halfway into my child-free Providence visit, and last night I officially started missing Lula and Malko. Some things I don't miss--poopy diapers among them--but when I went to bed I was thinking about little arms around my neck, and I know I'll be happy to return to Mommy World next Wednesday.

Yesterday evening we drove to Jamestown, a tiny town near Newport, for a swim and a picnic; it was beautiful out, warm and breezy, and when the sun set and the moon rose it was tempting to make a mattress out of washed-up seaweed and commune with long-dead Indians, or at least a lobster.

From the new nephew perspective this visit has exceeded my expectations: little Emil, who's four months now, is the sweetest baby, with big dark eyes and a heart-melting smile; the love I felt for him when he was born grows bigger each time I look into his face and hug his cuddly body. I like to think that since I've been here he's come to recognize and feel fondly towards his Aunty Izzy, and given his obvious intellect (I'm not just being a doting relative--the kid's unusually smart) I wouldn't be surprised if he actually did know who I was, at least because I have the same gaunt, sunken-eyed face and hairy legs as his father.

My sister Nuria and my sister-in-law's brother came out to meet Emil too, and it's been great hanging out and having fun together. We've gotten to go out at night a few times, and we plan on going out again tonight, with the ultimate goal being DANCING.

Watch out, Providence!

Tomorrow I'm going to an old friend's wedding on the banks of the Saugatucket River in Wakefield, the town I grew up in. I'm really excited to reconnect with people I've only been in touch with through Facebook and to be "home"--it'd be nice to sneak away briefly, walk up our old street, and spend a few minutes looking at the beautiful old house I grew up in. Given the fact that I'll probably be drunk, however, there's a good chance those minutes reminiscing would end with nostalgic tears and the desire to lie in the patchy grass beneath the branches of the copper beech in front of the house; it wouldn't do to return to the wedding with leaves stuck to a tear-streaked face, so I'll probably skip the walk down memory lane/Kenyon Avenue and stay near my old buddies and the bar...

Something tells me that will be exciting enough.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Tomorrow I'm going to Rhode Island alone for nine days to meet my new nephew; it will be the first time in six years I'll travel without a small human sitting on me and throwing up in my ear. Like most people these days I'm not looking forward to getting half-naked for the sake of security, but besides that I'm looking forward to the trip: I can drink seven beers, if I want to, and pass out over a stupid magazine, I can NOT TALK, I can THINK...

I'm definitely going to miss Joedy, the kids, and the animals--I enjoy serving as a short-order cook, clown, and human trampoline--and that's why I took the video of Lula having a meltdown last night while Malko practiced throwing himself into the bath headfirst while Diablo barked and Lapis meowed his loud, LOUD meow. When I start missing them, I'll figure I'll watch that--I should be fine again right away.

I'm getting back on Lula's second day of school, just in time to pick her up. I'm so glad I'll be able to pick her up--I didn't want to miss her first week. It's strange to think we're heading into fall already; although it's very much still summer here, I know the transition to the school schedule is going to dispel the ice cream-swimming pool-afternoon movie flavor of the days, there'll be homework and other serious first grade stuff, and before we know it the leaves will be changing and we'll actually WANT to wear clothes other than mu-mus and loincloths.

After hunting high and low for a new house and finding the dream rental (the walls were painted different colors! NICE different colors!), Joedy and I came to the somewhat difficult decision (there were some tears) to focus instead on buying a car, since it's been six months that we've been using his brother's (wonderful) Luxury Deluxe Vehicle and it's time to give it back. Putting the house hunt on hold was made easier by rearranging some stuff, namely the "home office," which is now in the living room, a.k.a the play room.

In lots of ways I think we've settled down, or settled into a groove, lately, and I've experienced a degree of calm and subsequent happiness that's very different from what we were going through this time last year, when we were preparing to move to Costa Rica, and in the subsequent months--especially when we came back to the States, when lots of big, important things were up in the air. I've mentioned before that I appreciate stability more than I used to, and that's never more clear than after (it was not clear during) Joedy and I make decisions to--for example--forgo moving into a really bitchin' house because, well, it's not the right time.

I know summer's not over yet--I see lots of ice cream in Lula's near future--but as I'm leaving tomorrow and coming back during the school year I feel like some things are ending. That's ok with me, but it's possible that tomorrow, while nodding off over my fifth beer, I'll be thinking about the three people I left behind and all the fun we've been having; it's possible that maybe I'll even wish one of them was sitting on my lap and throwing up in my ear...


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Today I read something that made me angry. It was a blog entry, written by a blogger I've followed for about a year, in the form of a long, long letter to his daughter to commemorate her fifth birthday--her fifth birthday and the fact that she's SATANIC DEMON.

The little she-devil is apparently a terror, a REALLY BAD CHILD who's always screaming NOOOOOOOO, throwing tantrums, demanding the toys her brother's playing with, in general being a total pain in the ass, OR sobbing hysterically. Once in a while the Layers of Evil peel away to reveal a "sweet, charming, cuddly little princess," but not for long.

It sounds like she's a real handful. Having experienced a few periods of major tantrums with Lula, I know how hard it can be to deal with a kid who's out of control--how scary it can be, how easily you can feel like a total loser for not knowing what to do...for just wanting to stuff a dish towel in that screaming face. I know having a pain in the ass kid is NO FUN, and I can relate, like most parents probably, to this guy's problem.

But. When he says he first tried to "comfort her "(during her fits) and, later, he says "that didn't work, so I learned to just stay away from you," something doesn't sound right. Comfort her? When she's making a big fuss about putting her shoes on? Why comfort her?

To me it sounds like the talk of a confused parent--someone who's been fed too much "the child is the center of the family," "everyone needs to express their feelings," and "use your words" crap--someone who, for whatever reason, doesn't feel he can put his foot down with his kid, someone whose kid is quickly turning into a little monster.

The letter goes on, mixing in some "nice" stuff about the daughter's gymnastics class to soften the blow: you get the feeling the dad cares, but not quite enough...or maybe he's clueless. Either way, it makes me mad: if you have a kid, you don't "write her a letter" on her birthday talking about how awful she is, especially if you're posting the letter on the internet. It's not fair to your daughter, and it makes you look like a pretty lame parent.

Frankly, I'm sick of overly solicitous parents who overprotect their spoiled kids, treating them like neurotic royalty. The current child-centric trend, which encourages parents to treat their kids like delicate flowers ("Timmy, is it ok with you if we go wash our hands now?"), is annoying and stupid. What's wrong with telling your kid to stop being a brat? What's wrong with being the parent?

If my dear letter-writer doesn't solve the problem of his misbehaving daughter, his daughter might throw tantrums the rest of her life. And if she keeps throwing tantrums, I guess she'll keep sobbing hysterically afterwards, too.

Who could blame her?