Friday, September 28, 2007

For Two Minutes, I Lost My Kid

Tuesday was a terrible day. I went to pick up OC at school, and she wasn't waiting out front. I asked about her to the teacher who was waiting with the kids, she said she hadn't seen her. I walked the long hallway down to her empty classroom. My eyes filled with tears, I couldn't help it. Her classroom is on the other side of the school which gave plenty of time to consider all the many horrifying possibilities, which only got more horrifying on the long walk back to the office.

I checked the playground, then as I got back to the office I managed to choke out, "My child isn't here!" And as her name rang out over the paging system, she walked into the office.

She's fine, she was not where she was supposed to be, and I didn't see her where she said she had been.

Crying in public, my old companion. What fun.

I'm so relieved my child is safe that this morning when she woke me up at 5 am to tell me she wasn't feeling good, I was glad to have a child to get up early for.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Emma Donoghue has written a highly entertaining novel. I read Slammerkin recently, but have waited to talk about it because I wanted to express my opinion of the book in a better way than "I loved it! You have to read this book because it is soooo good!"

It IS a good book, but it is much more than that.

The word Slammerkin is a noun, eighteenth century, of unknown origin. 1. a loose gown. 2. A loose woman. The novel begins:

"The ribbon had been bright scarlet when Mary first laid eyes on it, back in London."

The book chronicles with careful presentation the physical details which are not tedious, but serve to make the story rich. Psychological detail is gleaned from the use of the third person subjective point of view. We get into the main character's head and see things from her vantage point, but also we learn a bit from the other characters as well, making for an exceptionally well-covered tale. This story is based on a real case from the same time and place, where not many details are known.

Mary Saunders is a girl of thirteen when the novel opens, set in London in 1760. Her family consists of her step-father, a coalman, and her mother, who takes in patchwork sewing. Her father was a cobbler but died while in gaol - English for jail - where he was thrown after daring to protest against the king.

Her dead father's wishes were for Mary to attend school, and her mother keeps this promise even though they all think the girl old enough to work and help supplement the family's income. She is bored with school, and wants none of what her future seems to hold. She hates the family's dark flat, in a dingy corner of a dirty street. She wants a better life. A cleaner, brighter life than what she knows awaits her.

Mary wants to grow beyond her station in life, she wants to excel, and she wants to experience fabulous clothes. In 18th century London there wasn't much hope for a change in one's station. The class you were born into was where you stayed. Society in Mary's time left no room for abilities or aspiration. The punishment for sins were great. If you were accused of stealing you could be assured of hanging. A rich person's word was worth far more than a servant's. Jails housed inmates in pitiful conditions; workhouses were places you went to die. Judgments were harsh and plenty; forgiveness and trust, spare.

One day an event happens to Mary that changes her life, sets her out on her own. Still a young girl, she has to find her way all alone in a dangerous, uncaring city. That's when things gets interesting.

Everything about London is dark, dirty, dingy. There are pockets of brightness and color, but only briefly and certainly not for the poor. The story elucidates Mary's dreams and ambition enough that hopes rise in the reader that they might allow her to rise above her station and achieve great things, somehow. If there's a way, we are sure that Mary can find it. It's interesting that the thing that gives her money also constrains her. Instead of giving her freedom, it is just another station in life. Is it better than being a patchwork sewer like her mother? Were there any other options available to a young, pregnant girl?

I like this sentence:

"All in all, Abi was glad she'd told this old story. It made it smaller, she found, to wrap it in words and fold it away."

The series of events that follow are believable, if shocking. They are inevitable, although I have to say I didn't know the book would end this way. Emma Donoghue captures the truth of the character of Mary Saunders. I believed Mary would act and think the way she did from the realistic way it was written. All throughout the book and the events that befall Mary, we are reminded that she is still a child. A child of thirteen at the beginning of the story. It is amazing to think of all this hard life happening to a girl of this age. Her resilience is real; her flaws and decisions completely appropriate.

Isn't this true for all of us:

"It came to Daffy then, how easily the worst of oneself could rise up and strike a blow. How even the most enlightened man had little power over his own darkness."

Mary's early lessons are to never give up your liberty, clothes make the woman, and clothes are the greatest lie ever told. Going back to the opening line, the use of the color scarlet, first used to describe the ribbon, is then a metaphor for desire both sweet and lustful; for life, both lived and lost. Of course, it's also the color of blood, the very color of life.

The author obviously has done her research into the historical aspect of life in London and England in that period. Without taking a didactic tone she manages to use the terms for things during that time period quite effortlessly. The amount of detail in setting up for us the setting of everyday life leaves even the darkest corner of squalid London a sumptuous picture against which the events unfold.

In the end I come back to offering you this: read this book. It is so, so good.

Friday, September 21, 2007

When Mommy's Away

Last night, I went to a meeting and that left daddy in charge. I don't have any qualms over doing this because OH is a great dad. Very responsible, and happily involved. I remember that before I left I told OC that she needed to take a bath but not wash her hair (we do that every other night) and that her homework was on the table. I showed daddy her math homework and he said he'd help her to complete it.

You know what's coming, let's just get to it.

Here's the list of things that DID happen at home last night:

1) a bike ride in the dry canyon

2) the pepper plants were repotted

3) a viewing of a "Simpsons" episode

4) OC went to bed at a reasonable hour with a bedtime story

I am all about routines and schedules, because that is the glue that keeps my day together, which in turn keeps my sanity from packing its bags and skipping town. Witness the glue:

Beaming colorfully from its station on the fridge where anyone is free to see, attended by Andy Warhol's cats magnet.

Here are the things that DID NOT happen last night:

1) bath

2) homework

When I came home OH was asleep on the couch. I woke him and asked how the night went. He told me what they did, and then I asked about the bath and the homework. He said he forgot to do the homework and that he didn't know that OC needed a bath, but that they did watch a "Simpsons" episode.


Luckily, her homework wasn't due until Monday, and she's gotten a bath every other night so I'm not bothered if she misses one. Or two. Because sometimes I don't give her a bath because I'm just too tired. But, what if her homework was due the next day?

Either he needs to be the only parent at home more often, or I'm going to copy and glue the schedule to the Simpson's DVD box, just to be sure.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I Forgot to Say...

In the last post I meant to also say that, getting involved in school is a good thing IF THAT'S YOUR THING. I didn't mean to imply that is was a good thing and everyone must do it and if you don't then I judge you from on high.

When I'm writing, I know what I mean. But I forget to completely flesh out (or I'm just not good at it yet) what I mean and I should really do that because the whole mind-reading thing hasn't gone mainstream. It was either that, or I was high from the sugar in the chocolate chip cookies they had at the PTO meeting. Damn, those cookies were good!

My ex-boss - also known as the Guy Who's Traveled Everywhere Except Ireland - is riding his bike again. This time it's the LiveStrong Challenge in Portland on September 30th. In case you have ten dollars burning a hole in your bank account, I have a solution for you: donate it. He's raised $180, with a goal of $250.

Cancer sucks.

And, thank you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

To Be a Soccer Mom or Not to Be, That is My Question

The first meeting of the parent-teacher organization was held last night. I was a few minutes late arriving because I had to change into my miniskirt before walking the three blocks to the school. This was my first meeting so I didn't have any dirt on anyone in order to sock it to 'em.

Ha ha, does that joke ever get old? For me, not yet. Ahhh, it's PTO now, instead of PTA, and I don't live anywhere near Harper Valley or any valley, so, I guess it's just funny to me.

I can't get over the fact that I went to the PTO meeting. It's not that I'm a goth-mom non-joiner type, nor would that be a bad thing. It's that, I've been overwhelmed by school starting and helping in the classroom and soccer practice and my husband's football officiating during the week....excuse me, I have to go move my SUV and then bring in the wine coolers because I've TURNED INTO A YUPPIE SOCCER MOM SCHOOL SUPPORTER RA RA RA WHERE ARE MY DAMN POMPOMS???!?!?

When did this happen? When did I go from cool mom to soccer mom? I say that in the hopes that at some point I actually was a cool mom. Hmmmm, it must have changed right about the time we signed up for soccer, I am thinking? And what's so bad about it, anyway. So I went to a PTO meeting. That's good, right?

Part of me knows that it is a good thing to get involved and help the school, to be present and get to know people. The other part of me thinks that there is a reason the soccer mom stereotype exists, and it exists because of the annoying people who drive the Canyoneros and go to precious' soccer games with their perfect hairdos and nails and purses, perfect clothes worn on their perfectly toned and tanned bodies and talk about how they just LOVE their kid's Mandarin language teacher and how you must absolutely just should call them some time, really. Kisses to poopsie!

The thing is, I have nothing against working out, or having your hair and nails done, or Chinese language classes, or even the nickname Poopsie, if it's in jest. I guess there are different levels of soccer-momdom and I have not ascended (descended?) to that icky stereotypical realm. It's a weird feeling when you find yourself doing all these things that possibly could set you into that place to be That Person who you don't think that you are. I don't like how I worry about how I look. That is so high school, and I am way too old to be in high school, so it follows that I am way too old to go back to those insecurities. Funny how easily they come back to haunt.

I want to be there for my kid and help out at school and yes, she plays soccer. I don't think that's part of the soccer-mom stereotype, at least not the one I'm so worried about.

I think it's that women are always defining and redefining our selves and our roles, and let's face it, society doesn't really lend much support to the idea that what we choose is acceptable. There's more contention than acceptance. Seemingly more women and mothers criticize one another for an endless amount of topics, be they wine playdates or debating cloth or disposable. Ug. I'm tired of the criticism and the categorizing.

I'm too exhausted to judge you.

It comes to this: I want to define myself. I don't want anyone else to do it for me. I hope you reach the same conclusion.

In other words, no one's going to tell me I've been wearin' my dresses way to high, or anything else. Now, let's raise some damn cash for the school so I can get home to my hooch!


Interior Decorating

I bought some new things! I finally feel like my living room/dining room space looks like it is in a grown-up's house, and that grown-up is me. This is not nearly as exciting for you as it is for me, but at least you get to look at pictures. Check it:

This is the bar where mommy keeps the alcohol, which in turn makes mommy happy. It doesn't look like it's full. Hm. Writing down: buy more hooch.

I used to have a black and white photograph hanging above the mantle, and my mom said I needed a bigger object there instead. My mom is good at these types of observations, so I listened to her and at the same store where I found the bar (above) they had this:

Voila! Big object to go over the mantle. I like. Sort of doubles as a full-length mirror, or darn close.

Since we're being all practical, I thought that this lamp, which was ON SALE, would go well in the house somewhere. We are in need of more light, and the color scheme fit right in. Well, here, see for yourself:

I need a full-length mirror for my bedroom, and they had one at the same store where I purchased the above items but it wasn't on sale. I spent my "crazy spending money" (also known as "What Budget? money") on the big, round mirror, so, you know. Next time.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Cross Two Items Off the List

I have a text document saved on my desktop that contains ideas for future blog posts. It's my list, known as The List, when I've got no ideas and need ideas. At the top of this rather perkily described melange of thought is this:

1 package of Oreo cookies
1 package of cream cheese
white chocolate for melting

I do not know the miniature zeitgeist under which this particular entry was written, so I cannot remember where I might have seen or heard of it, nor what one is supposed to do with these ingredients once you assemble them. All I can say is that the combination seems winning, and good luck to you if you attempt to construct something. Let me know how it turns out.

The next entry is something I do remember, it's from the teevee. (sidebar: I learn so much from that black electric box.) During the summer, I let OC watch cartoons for a while in the morning. It's the only way I can have some quiet moments to settle in with my coffee to read email and blogs, or write a little. I have to do it with the television going on very near where I am at the computer because they are in the same room, but I figure that since the rest of the day is me listeninglisteninglistening to her talkingtalkingtalking, I'll take what I can get. This is from It's Big, Big World, a show I really, really don't like:

Sloths are very good at Tai Chi, mainly because they move very, very slowly.

Really? Gee, thanks for telling me. Now imagine this line delivered by an overexcited-about-sloths male voice, a voice in which EVERY! THING! ABOUT! ANIMALS! IS! EXCITING! There you have it, annoying overgrown kid on tv must DIE. Here is where I don my Pollyanna bonnet and say: At least it's not the purple dinosaur. Amen.

Now I have to wonder why, exactly, I wrote down that line. It was funny? There was something else happening? Context, please!


Anyway, I feel better having told of these things. Now I can delete them from my text doc with peace of mind. No, I couldn't just delete them from the text doc without actually posting them. And if this doesn't tell you a little something about me, I don't know what other quirky (read: freaklike) thing would. Well, maybe someone who writes down something to do with both Oreo cookies AND white chocolate might be allright even if she doesn't know what to do with the cream cheese that is supposed to go along with it.

And I call myself a mother.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hair, Baby

In addition to being OC's fourth day of the first grade, it was haircut day for both of us.


I know I'm the mommy and all, but this girl is cute enough to eat with a spoon if I do say so myself.

I think my last haircut was four months ago. I was desperately in need of color and the good feelings only a good trim brings.

Okay, I took the pictures of OC right when we got back from the salon. I took the pictures of me at the end of the day, after soccer practice out in the wind. So. You know...a little slack with the styling judgments, please.

The above two photos are self-portraits, although not for lack of trying. I asked my husband to take a picture and I ended up with this:


Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Last week a globe came in the mail. I bought it because it is better to show visually rather than explain verbally to a six year old, I have found. For example, explaining how the Pacific Ocean touches both the Oregon coast and New Zealand is hard because my daughter doesn't know what New Zealand is. This way, we cover both ideas by pointing and saying something like, "Look at the big ocean!"

OC was looking at it when she said, "Mom, they have some kind of 'Republic' on here."

Turns out, there are quite a few republics on it.

The globe sits on our dining room table, for now, and we look at it because it's there. It's fascinating. I find myself staring at it and saying things like, "Huh. I didn't know that French Polynesia was there."

Because today is 9/11, I got to thinking about the people living in all those different countries, republics included. It seems to me that there are a lot of places in the world where I would be scared to live. Although, to be fair, a lot of them probably only seem that way because of my own sheltered perception that those places are scary. It is true that there is a lot of danger in the world and a lot of places are scary and dangerous, especially for women and children.

Thinking about it made me appreciate the good things in life. My daughter was sick, but she recovered and today is back in school. Thank goodness it wasn't a life-threatening illness. Thank goodness she can attend school. Obviously there are parts of the world where she couldn't or wouldn't be accepted at school. While I want her to have the best education she can get and so it brings me to complain about it, it helps to remember that we're lucky to be able to pursue education at all. (Although I will probably continue to complain about it and find ways to supplement her education.)

I'm glad we have the globe because it means we can afford to buy it, and have the luxury of sitting down to study it in relative peace in our own home. I'm glad we don't live in a lot of those places on the globe where the struggle between life and death every day leaves serious question about whether life will win out. We're very lucky, indeed. Life is hard. It's a good reminder to me to figure out a way to give back to the world in some way, with whatever gifts or talents I may have to offer.

Today, OC was looking at it for a while and then she said, "I'm sure glad we have this globe."

Me, too.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Out of Womb Experience

The first day of school was fantastic. When I asked her about it, OC said she didn't want to leave. Even though she lost her hair ribbon on the playground, she didn't cry.

The second day of school included a trip to the school nurse after a scraped knee from a fall on the playground rocks. On the way home on that same second day, she scraped a knee after a fall on the sidewalk after running and jumping to touch a leaf. This time it was the other knee. At bathtime that night, she sat in the water with both legs bent because it hurt to put either underwater.

(She's okay, though mom!)

When I was pregnant, I remember I felt that everything was all right because my baby was safe and protected. I knew where she was and that she was okay, all the time. She even got me up several times a night to pee, and that was not so fun but at least I knew that she was safe. At the time I could not imagine a time where my child would be out in the world without me right there, vulnerable to the dangers that come from walking around on hard surfaces and going places where I could not see her.

Now I find that my pregnant feelings were right; it's hard to let your kids go away from you (you know, most of the time...hahahahaha) but especially to see them get hurt.

It's okay. I'll be okay.

Speaking of school, Andrea at A Peek Inside the Fishbowl has a contest going. Share your back to school photos for a chance to win an HP printer/scanner! Details here.

I entered the one with OC looking at me over her backpack, with that silly orange kitty at her feet, watching her Hello Kitty boots. Oh, that reminds me, I've begun adding photos to my Flickr collection. Exciting. I'm only a year and a half behind...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sable the Lolcat

Sable is 13 year-old purebred Himalayan (with all the implications that go along with being purebred, e.g. he's nutso!) and he knows he is prettier than you. And me. And that orange cat that lives with us whom he barely tolerates.

He appreciates your admiration even though he already knew you would give it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

We've Done More Before 7 AM Than Most People Do Before 7 AM. Or Maybe It Just Feels Like It.

For no apparent reason this morning I woke up early and lay staring at the ceiling. OC was so excited for her first day of First Grade today, she was up and dressed at 6 am.

Oh, boy!

Then she came downstairs to snuggle with me. She read a couple of easy readers aloud, eventually I fell asleep for all of five minutes, then we got up.

I don't know what to think. It's first grade, but it's almost like she's leaving the house for college or something. What am I going to do without herall day long??? Oh, don't mind me. I'll think of something.

Before she got up, I took a pregnancy test. I was a whole two days late, but, I couldn't wait any longer to find out. I need to know how long I have to keep drinking. This is important information to ascertain. No kidding, as I was peeing on the stick - literally mid-stream - my period started. Lovely. That was the moment I was glad I had bought the generic brand, the kind with two tests.


The first day of First Grade breakfast includes a side of the comics page. Add a cup of coffee for the first day of second grade, but coffee AND a cigarette will not be until you start high school, missy.

The girl...

...her cat, and her back pack.

First Day of School Cat Sez "I will sleep uninterrupted today. Yay, school!"

Saturday, September 01, 2007


I first heard about a Walk Score from A Peek Inside the Fishbowl. The website works like this: type in your address, and it compiles a list of nearby services and amenities along with distance, and rates your location based on how many of these things are nearby.

One of the reasons I love the house that we bought is because I do not feel isolated or stuck. I can walk to the grocery store, OC's school, library, restaurants, parks, dry canyon trail, city offices, and other similar places. It's the greatest feeling! After having lived through a time where I was out of the way and isolated, I enjoy living the way we live now. It feels like...freedom.

My Walk Score is 72. What's yours?