Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I was just sitting here wondering what to write when Lapis started meowing more than usual and then barfed up a long yellow turd behind me on the rug. Ok, it wasn't actually a turd, but boy, did it look like one! Then he started making the barfing sound again, so I said sorry and threw him out the back door. Sorry, you demented, needy, barfing cat!

I guess the chicken I gave him earlier in lieu of "real" cat food didn't go over well.

I hope this isn't an indication of the quality of the chicken. Its sell by date was the 27th, two days ago, and since it smelled and looked ok I thought it was fine to cook, but now...hmm...

If it does turn out to have been bad, dinner will really have been a failure: the stupid carrots and dumb broccoli took about forty minutes to steam, so we never even ate them, we just had LOTS of chicken.

Stupid dinner. Lapis was right to barf.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Since I came back from Rhode Island a month ago I've been missing people--family, friends, old coworkers--a lot, even more than before, and I think it's because the novelty of living in Austin, of making it our long-term home, is fading a little.

I still love this city and am proud to call it home, but the reality of building a foundation here, of putting in the hours and days and months and years it takes to make new friends and create a solid social network, brings me down: I don't want a new group, I want my old group(s).

Besides Joedy's cousin (and mine, by default!) Katherine, I don't really have any friends here yet. I'm acquainted with a number of people, but I've done very little to become closer to them--I just don't feel motivated.

It took me a long time to find friends in Santa Barbara. For a couple years I literally wondered what was wrong with me--why I couldn't find friends--and though that lessened during Joedy's and my pre-kids partying years, when we did have a close group, we fell out of touch with that group when we stopped partying; I stayed close to two girls, but again I felt isolated and...weird.

It wasn't until a few years ago that things started clicking and I met "my people"--library friends/coworkers, for the most part, but a few "random encounters" too--and I finally had what I wanted: a big group of good friends. I felt surrounded and loved and normal, and it was great.

I knew when we moved to Costa Rica we were saying goodbye to everyone we'd become close to in California, and I accepted the fact that I'd have to make new friends there (which we did, amazingly, pretty quickly), but since we've been in Austin I haven't been interested in searching new people out--I just don't feel like it. It seems like work, frankly, and I can't help wondering: why? Why put all this effort into finding new friends? I don't want new friends! I want my old friends!

I know that sounds lazy and unappreciative, and just today I had a long, enjoyable conversation with a woman I'd be delighted to friend, so I might end up with a social life here whether I like it or not, but that doesn't take away the fact that sometimes--often--I miss all the people I've gotten to know over the years, all the people scattered here and there and everywhere, and sometimes--often--the thought of going through the whole thing again seems pointless.


Monday, September 20, 2010

This afternoon I realized it was the last day of summer when I looked at the date on the computer...

...and just now--weird!--I realized it's Malko's 18-month birthday.

He spent the entire day in his dark blue pyjamas with turquoise socks pulled up to his knees. It was grey and drizzly out, and he looked so cute and silly running around like that I didn't want to change him. In retrospect, it makes sense--everyone should get to spend their "birthday" in pyjamas (yes, even army pyjamas) and knee socks!

Besides lolling around in his nighttime attire like a spoiled prince, it was a pretty normal day for Malko: he discovered a new toy (a tampon) and a new activity (shooting the tampon out of his mouth), and he caused me great stress and anxiety (when I discovered his new activity and imagined him swallowing the tampon, which was wrapped in plastic, but still....AAAAAA!).

As usual, Malko climbed up on the kitchen table at one point and just stood there, waiting for someone to notice him and scream; as usual, he screamed whenever someone dared eat something without offering the entire something to him, even if he just consumed half a quart of yogurt, forty grapes, three eggs, fifteen mozarrella balls, a piece of bread, and a cup of mango-nectarine juice. In the afternoon he helped me put the laundry away, dragging carefully folded t-shirts from one room to the other and dropping socks, appropriately, in the trash can; when Joedy went to the post office and Lula came home from school he waved and said his new words--Hi! Bye!--in his funny little voice.

In the bath tonight, he poured a bottle of water on Lula's head and laughed like a madman, then Lula sprayed water at his stomach, over and over, and he laughed so hard he slipped, went under, and came up dazed and spluttering. After I washed and rinsed him he put his hands in the soap and "washed" his stomach and then his hair, which was hysterically funny to Lula, maybe because he did it so automatically--like, oh yeah, I need to wash my hair now...with this soap...but just the sides of my hair--and because the result was so...ridiculous. "You look like a weird clown," she told him, and she was right.

After the bath we lay down on Joedy's and my bed so Lula could practice reading. She read us Find The Kitten, and when she finished she asked Malko, "Where's the kitten?" "Da," he said, pointing at the kitten hiding under a plant. "Good," she said, "now where's the caterpillar?" He pointed at the kitten again. "No, silly, that's the kitten. Where's the caterpillar?" He pointed at the kitten. "No, no, you've got it wrong--not where's the kitten, where's the caterpillar?"

"Da," he said sleepily, starting to point, but I scooped him up and said it was time for bed. Hugging his warm chubby body, I carried him to the kids' room and put him in the crib. Excited kisses from his stuffed monkey cut his protestations short, and by the time I closed the door he was well on his way towards the end of the first day of the second half of the second year of his life.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Yesterday I went WAY above my wifely duties and took it upon my poor little self to track down the elusive C-N3 vacuum cleaner bag and the equally rare Reef "bottle-opener" (there's a bottle opener implanted in the sole) flip-flop, men's size 7 and 9 (some for me, some for Joedy), and if that sounds self-pitying, it's totally justified: as soon as Malko and I picked Lula up from school the quest morphed into a vacuum cleaner bag/flip-flops/PYJAMAS FOR LULA mission, the last part obviously being the most important part to anyone within 600 miles, if only because of the endless whiny questions and heartbreaking sighs:

"I really wish I could get some new pyjamas."

"I know, Lula--I know."

"Oh, why can't we find some pyjamas for me here?"

"I don't know. Because they don't have any."

"Why don't they have any?"

"Lula. I don't know."

"I just really want some pyjamas badly, Maman. You said I could get some."

"Lula! Stop! We're looking! We need other stuff too! Please! Stop talking like that!"

My aggravation was heightened by the labyrinth of Austin freeways that took us first to Very Much The Wrong Place and then Very, Very Much The Wrong Place, all while post-work traffic grew and slowed our pace to that of an overheated sloth; Malko's tendency to grab merchandise and throw it on the floor and/or shriek like a prehistoric carnivore didn't help my frayed nerves. When the realization sunk in that we weren't going to find any of the three items, I was ready to wring my own neck with the socks Lula conned me into buying her, and when we got home it was a miracle I greeted Joedy without throwing the kids at him and without throwing the stupid vacuum cleaner, with its stupid bag full of cooked dog hair, out the second-story window.

Today the scenario repeated itself, except that I headed north instead of south, used up even more gas, got even more lost, and hit REAL traffic, making yesterday's Errands Hell look like a jaunt to the neighbor's to borrow a toothpick; I literally spent three hours driving, while fielding Lula's plaintive requests for sleepwear, while handing Malko dried cranberries...pieces of scone...pebbles from the floor of the car...anything to fill his mouth and stop that brain-melting SHRIEKING!

Luckily for both Joedy and the vacuum cleaner we succeeded, kind of, locating acceptable flip-flops and--Thank The Great Briny Bile Bag--pyjamas for Lula, although they are of a tackiness and ugliness not usually approved by me. At 5:45, listlessly wandering the overcrowded corridors of Mega Super Wal-Mart, dangerously close to inserting the word "fucking" into otherwise benign sentences like "Where are your boys' pyjamas, please?" and "Excuse me, do you have any C-N3 vacuum bags?" I saw a cache of PYJAMAS! PYJAMAS! PYJAMAS! NOT GIRLS' PYJAMAS! and we sped over to them, only to find that they were



Polyester, cheap, ugly. Army, Spiderman, monster trucks. Definitely not our style. But it was late, it had been two long days of disappointment, and the idea of listening to Lula sigh and moan later, while I was plucking clumps of dirty hair out of the used vacuum bag in a reluctant show of resourcefulness, did not thrill me. So we got the (hideous) army pyjamas.

When we came home she tried them on. First the shirt (it's that horse-poop shade of green, of course, and printed to look like it has a belt and lapels), then the shorts, then the shirt and the shorts together. After looking at herself in the bathroom mirror for a long time, she skipped into the kitchen and asked if she could wear the pyjamas to the restaurant we were going to later with friends.

"Of course not," I said. "What kind of mother do you think I am?" I'll drive 150 miles to look for footwear you can open beers with and use my prized chin hair tweezers to extract clumps of disgusting, filthy gunk from a vacuum cleaner bag, then re-use the bag, but allow my kid to wear ugly-ass pyjamas to a public place?! Please--let's be sane here!

"Ok," she said, and gamboled happily off. Watching her go, smiling at her skinny arms and always-just-so ponytail, I caught a glimpse of the ridiculous faux belt and lapels, and for a second--just a second--the pyjamas looked kind of...cute.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

It's Sunday night, and I was just lying in bed with Lula--she practiced reading in Joedy's and my bed and fell asleep there, and I was close to falling asleep too, but then I got up and came downstairs and polished off the chocolate fudge brownie ice cream and HERE I AM!

I'm hoping to have a very organized, productive week. Joedy and I decided that he'll take Lula to school tomorrow and then hit the gym, and when he gets back I'll go to a coffee shop to work on my children's book. I don't really like leaving the house to write--there's always some annoying distraction, even if I'm wearing earplugs--but if I stay home I'm wildly tempted to clean, or do anything to avoid writing.

You'd think from the amount of effort I put into avoiding this project it's something I really don't want to do, but it's just a bad case of hyped-up standards and...fear, I think. Reading that sentence, I see how those two things go hand-in-hand: with such high standards (I've already decided this book will be the first in a looooooong series, which will get turned into PBS-type movies, which will enable me to buy back my childhood home and--please, God!--that pair of Friesian foals I've already named) of course I'm scared. I've already let myself down 6,849 times since I came up with the idea in the 4th grade!

But: I'm getting old. I'm going to be 37 in--oh, Jesus--four months. And the circumstances Joedy and I are enjoying now (we're not rolling in dough by any means, but we're stable, and I have some free time) aren't going to last forever. So I feel like it's now or never. Do it now or die houseless, horseless, and without having written that STUPID CHILDREN'S BOOK, YOU BIG DUMMY!

Sorry--a little "motivational speaking" there. It's always a good idea to criticize oneself when one is feeling like a failure for being unable to write a short, simple picture book about a goddamn bug. Works for me every time! Except for those times I find myself distracted by dried guts of dead flies on the window sill and imperfectly folded towels in the linen closet. Now those are things that need to be ADDRESSED! Immediately! With great vigor! For long periods of time, at least until it's time to pick Lula up from school, and children's book? Of course I can't work on that while overseeing snack, homework, way! Can't blame me for not getting anywhere today!

Back to what I was saying: I'm going to be 37. I should have a career by now. I should be saving for Lula's and Malko's college. At the risk of sounding hubristic and deluded, I think my children's book idea has potential. At the very least, I think it has potential because there are many not-very-good children's books out there, many that aren't particularly original or entertaining. I think--again, at the risk of sounding big-headed and delusional--I can do something original and entertaining, and I think it could have a chance of "working." And I'm going to be--sweet Mary in blessed Heaven--40 soon. So I have to do this. I have to give it a shot.

"Jesus, God, Mary"...I'm not even a believer--I must really be desperate.

And I haven't even talked about the jewelry/mobiles thing yet...

Crap. How the devil am I going to do it?


Monday, September 6, 2010

LULA: Malko, what's your name?

MALKO: Uh-uh.

LULA: Uh-uh? Your name's Uh-uh?

MALKO: Uh-uh.

LULA: Oh, it's NOT Uh-uh? Then what is it?


LULA: Da? Your name's Da?!


LULA: Are you sure?

MALKO: Uh-uh.

LULA: What do you MEAN, "uh-uh"? You don't know what your name is? What's the matter with you?!


LULA: What's "da"? Does it mean, "I'm crazy and I don't know what my name is"?

MALKO: Uh-uh!

LULA: Ok, does it mean..."I have a POOPY DIAPER"?!

JOEDY: Ok Lula...

LULA, consumed with giggles, gasping for breath: Does it mean...does it mean..."I went diarrhea in my pants"???

ISABEL: Um, that's enough now.

LULA, still laughing: Ok...ok...I'll stop...just don't ask Da what his name is, because he doesn't KNOW! (crazed laughter resumes) What kind of person doesn't know his NAME?! Is there something wrong with you, Malko, I mean, DA?


ISABEL: Maybe he's Russian. Da, are you Russian?


ISABEL: No, he's not Russian.

JOEDY: Maybe he's from Outer Space. Hey Da--are you from Outer Space?


LULA: You ARE? You're from Outer Space?

MALKO: Da! Da da da da DAAAA!

LULA: How about your DIAPER? Is IT from Outer Space?!

ISABEL: Lula--uh-uh.

LULA, rolling on the ground: "Uh-uh"?! Did you just say "UH-UH"? Are you starting to talk like Malko, I mean, I mean, that kid over there who doesn't know his name? Are YOU from Outer Space too? Is everyone here CRAZY?!


MALKO: Uh-uh!



Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Are you going to pick up Lula?

Do you want me to pick up Lula?

Is that a rhetorical question?

No, I mean, yes. All I'm saying is, if you want me to pick up Lula, just say so!

Ok. If you don't mind. Yes, please pick up Lula. Are you taking Malko?

Do you want me to?

Do you mind?

You don't need to keep talking like that, you know.

Like what? Like you? Beating around the bush?

Ok, we're not going to get anywhere like this.

I know. Sorry. I'm just...trying to get shit done. I'm trying to make constructive use of my time and I'm feeling stressed out because--

Well, I told you what you can do, I told you yesterday--

You just cut me off. And really--PLEASE--right now I don't need you to "fix things"--I was just hoping to...blow off some steam.

Ok--blow off some steam.

Well. I'm trying to be productive, you know--making use of any free time so I can get somewhere with my stuff. I'm trying to do a little here and there while staying on top of the house while taking care of Malko so you can work--

So I can work? Do you think I like working? Being on the computer and the phone all the time? There are other things I'd rather do, you know--I'd rather go for a run, jump in the water, go for a bike ride--

That's not what I MEANT, you...! Listen: I wasn't saying I minded watching Malko while you work, or that it's a privilege for you to work, all I was saying is that I need to work on my stupid children's book or I'll never get ANYWHERE! I'll DIE without having done anything interesting! My whole life will be a waste!

Ok. I'm going to pick up Lula. Do you want me to buy groceries on the way home?

Do you want to buy groceries on the way home?

Do you want to buy them?

I can! I don't care! I can do it if you don't want to do it!

I'll just do it. Do you know where Malko's shoes are?

Why do you need his shoes? Is he going to be walking around?

Well, if he gets out of the cart--

I NEVER let him out of the cart! I'm always too focused on what I'm doing! And anyway, you never know what kind of weird creep is hanging around the store!

(Sighing, Joedy leaves; I go upstairs and work on something! Anything! besides my STUPID, ANNOYING children's book)