Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Liza's Answer...

My own heart let me more have pity on; let

Me live to may sad self hereafter kind,

Charitable; not live this tormented mind

With this tormented mind tormenting yet.

I cast for comfort I can no more get

By groping round my comfortless, than blind

Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find

Thirst's all-in-all in all a world of wet.



Soul, self; come poor Jackself, I do advise

You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile

Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size

At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile

's not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather--as skies

Betweenpie mountains--lights a lovely mile.



G.M. Hopkins

Sick Little Boy, Day Two

Staying home like this, having time to do the dishes, thinking about making bread (nod to Liza),

looking at the clothes, folded in baskets in the hallway, and thinking that I have time to put them away, and maybe either clean out the car or tackle the studio...



The problem with giving me a little time at home is that I want more

and I start to feel sorry for myself because tomorrow I have to go to work.



So, today, instead of fully enjoying the fine sunlight dappling

through my bedroom window, flapping through the leaves, the chill in

the morning air as I walked my dog through dewy grass, seeing five

little brown birds huddling together at the curb, breaking into flight

as my giant dog approached them, seeing her look at them for a moment

in wonder before lunging at them, seeing, as we passed my own front

yard, one of her small yellow teddy bears dressed in fuschia vest,

lying face down in the grass, forgotten, lost among the weeds that are

spilling out of my flower beds, instead of enjoying homemade coffee

and a clean kitchen and the warm kisses of my little naked blonde boy,

who wraps himself in a green towel after bathing and doesn't want to

get dressed, and in his funny way asks me to recite the breakfast

menu, and when I have, asks if Pancake City might be on that menu,

instead of enjoying this, I notice it, I make the mental notes a

writer makes, store it away later so I can write about it like this,

but I don't really enjoy it because that would cause me to ache so

much because I won't have it tomorrow.



I am still incapable of living in the moment, of being present in my

own life, I am always jumping ahead to tomorrow, rushing boys out the

door, heading to work, not enough time, then the busy weekend, which I

will not enjoy, but be longing for home.



The moments I enjoy: when the kids are sleeping, or when I am lying

down with them, wrapping up our day, when Dereck and I are getting

ready for bed and my time seems truly my own, I love our bedroom, my

books, the soft light, the flirting, and those are the moments I feel

really alive, the moments I crave the rest of my life, the times I am

thinking about during the rest of it all, when I feel like I am not

really here at all, but simply watching a movie reel of someone else's

life.



And I don't want to wake up someday and realize there is no more life

left to have, to enjoy, to be fully engaged in, and so all I will ever

be able to do is to watch that movie reel, to remember having a life,

but not to have memories beyond seeing it.



I think my life currently falls under the category of, "Has it really

really good," and I would do well to start enjoying that more.



When I am at karaoke, I am always longing to be back home, longing for

my computer monitor, the comfort of my blogs, the kitchen, the

children breathing in their beds, my books, sitting in bed with

pillows and reading. I *remember* karaoke as being something fun, but

I am never fully there. I am always ticking the time away until I am

home.



And during the day, I am still always always always wracked with guilt

about what I should be doing because somewhere I got the impression

that I should always be busy, always be productive in my work,

probably from working at fast food jobs in which you never slow down

and the work is always present.



A lot of my work is just showing up, being present for when the next

project occurs, and thinking is a large part of my work too. Trying

out things. I don't have a problem with paying my babysitter to show

up before I need her so that when I do need her, she is right there.

So, why is it so hard for me to have a job and be paid when sometimes

I am not really very busy, not producing anything or making anything?



How do other people function and not feel guilty? Or do they too?

Does anyone enjoy their life as it is happening? Am I the only one?



I Love Yvonne Week

In honor of I Love Yvonne Week, for which I have been a little delinquent (my apologies, Yvonne!), I wanted to post my favorite pictures from her blog here.



The first one is of her beautiful new daughter, whom we readers cannot get enough of. I admit, every day I am hoping for a new picture of Gabby, and I have begun dreaming that I have a daughter. I blame Yvonne for this, of course.







The next one is one of my favorites of Yvonne, who is beautiful and doesn't know it.



And finally, on Yvonne's birthday-- this was one of the most beautiful posts-- have you ever seen two happier people?





Yvonne is one of the writers I mentioned who has a gift but truly doesn't know it. But her writing is as raw, fresh, and funny as any I have found-- I wish I could do what she does. But years of writing classes have to some extent refined what she has out of my writing. Sigh. I think (no offense to anyone anyone anyone else) that her blog, out of any others I've read, could really be turned into a book deal.



I wrote her this in an email awhile back:



Why on earth would you say that you are not a good writer? I have

spent a lot of time reading your archives. You are very good, and

best of all, you are sharp as a tack. Your wit is excellent. And you

capture all the complexities of making your reader tear up one moment,

and then you hit us between the eyes the next minutes-- but we don't

forget how you were breaking our hearts at the same time you were

making us laugh.



This is a gift. I have a creative writing degree, and taught writing

on the university level for three years. And I KNOW good writing when

I see it, and honey, you have one of the best blogs I've ever seen (if

not THE best), and I also KNOW that you have something nobody can

teach. You either have it, or you don't. And you've GOT it-- you

have had it the whole time!



It's that good.



If you haven't read her yet, go, and dig through the archives.



Tuesday, September 28, 2004

really, my work day is not so different from my day at home.



except what i am wearing (blue t-shirt, no bra, blue checked shorts, rumpled hair, no makeup, glasses, pink striped socks, Tevas)





i still make the blog rounds, check and answer email, drink coffee, go to the bathroom.



what sucks, though, is I left the Garden State CD at work.



and I had to make lunch for little other people.



and I keep getting propositioned by this young, handsome dude wearing only white briefs to come sit on the couch with him and watch cartoons.

Drawing 101

Here is a sample of what I did on Erev Yom Kippur.



No, it's not me-- I copied it out of the drawing book. Like it said to. (Stop snickering, I know it's bad-- that's the point!)







Last night, Liza came over with permanent hair dye, and I had some magenta to fix.



Four hours later...



We had both dyed our hair a lighter color and NOTHING happened.



So, with wet, dark heads, we went to Walmart and bought more dye. Lighter dye.



We put that on our heads. A little something happened.



I put highlights on Liza, and I was so tired, I should have insisted on the cap for what she wanted, I should have kept the bleach on longer.



She got lovely chunks, but too red for her taste, too chunky. So, this morning, she bought dark brown and colored over.



I ended up with what Liza called "Titian" hair, which I highlighted very quickly, dragging the green instrument through my hair.



I have not had time to think about it today. I have two puppies home today coughing their little allergy brains out. The school called to leave a message that they did not know where the children were. Apparently, they also called the children's father.



I called the school and said, "Why, they are with me their mother, because they need more rest and they are coughing and snuffling."



Then the phone rang, and it was their father.



Did I keep them home because of the coughing (bingo! this has been going on for awhile)? Yes. Are you going to call the doctor? No. Do you have medicine? Yes. Is the other child at school?



Yes.



Let me tell you, if I did not in fact know where my children were when I got that phone message, it would have completely freaked my shit. I am surprised the ex did not freak on me. What happened to the golden days of my youth? Child stays home, next day, parent sends a note.



She writes as for the second time she sneezes all over the screen and keyboard.

Monday, September 27, 2004

I think I'm gonna do it!

How exciting!



There is a little smile about my lips, a flush on my face.



I have done it twice before.





And I have often thought I should do it again.



And now I have a chance.



And I won't be doing it alone...



It's so exciting!



I'm really going to do it!



Wish me luck!



You know, you can do it, too...



Karl, you especially should do it.



And Liza? You are definitely doing it.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Don'tcha hate it when...

the color on the color box says, "light amber brown" but the color on your head turns out to be ?



Yeah, me too.

200 Things (Bold= yes, I've done)

01. Bought everyone in the pub a drink

02. Swam with wild dolphins

03. Climbed a mountain

04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive

05. Been inside the Great Pyramid

06. Held a tarantula.

07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone

08. Said ‘I love you’ and meant it

09. Hugged a tree

10. Done a striptease

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

14. Stayed up all night long, and watch the sun rise

15. Seen the Northern Lights

16. Gone to a huge sports game

(Do the Cubs count? Cleveland Indians?)

17. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa

18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables

19. Touched an iceberg

20. Slept under the stars

21. Changed a baby’s diaper

22. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon

23. Watched a meteor shower

24. Gotten drunk on champagne

25. Given more than you can afford to charity

26. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope

27. Had an uncontrollable giggling


fit at the worst possible moment

28. Had a food fight


29. Bet on a winning horse

30. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

31. Asked out a stranger

32. Had a snowball fight


33. Photocopied your bottom on the office photocopier

34. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

35. Held a lamb

36. Enacted a favorite fantasy

37. Taken a midnight skinny dip

38. Taken an ice cold bath

39. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar

40. Seen a total eclipse

41. Ridden a roller coaster


42. Hit a home run

43. Fit three weeks miraculously

into three days

44. Danced like a fool and


not cared who was looking

45. Adopted an accent for an entire day

46. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

47. Actually felt happy about your life,

even for just a moment

48. Had two hard drives for your computer

49. Visited all 50 states

50. Loved your job for all accounts

51. Taken care of someone who was shit faced

52. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

53. Had amazing friends

54. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country

55. Watched wild whales

56. Stolen a sign

57. Backpacked in Europe

58. Taken a road-trip

59. Rock climbing

60. Lied to foreign government’s official

in that country to avoid notice

61. Midnight walk on the beach

62. Sky diving

63. Visited Ireland

64. Been heartbroken longer

than you were actually in love

65. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s

table and had a meal with them

66. Visited Japan

67. Benchpressed your own weight

68. Milked a cow

69. Alphabetized your records

70. Pretended to be a superhero

71. Sung karaoke

72. Lounged around in bed all day

73. Posed nude in front of strangers

74. Scuba diving

75. Got it on to “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye

76. Kissed in the rain

77. Played in the mud

78. Played in the rain

79. Gone to a drive-in theater

80. Done something you should regret,


but don’t regret it

81. Visited the Great Wall of China

82. Discovered that someone who’s

not supposed to have known about your blog

has discovered your blog

83. Dropped Windows in favor of something better

84. Started a business

85. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken

86. Toured ancient sites

87. Taken a martial arts class

88. Swordfought for the honor of a woman

89. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight

90. Gotten married

91. Been in a movie

92. Crashed a party

93. Loved someone you shouldn’t have

94. Kissed someone so passionately it made them dizzy

95. Gotten divorced

96. Had sex at the office


97. Gone without food for 5 days

98. Made cookies from scratch

99. Won first prize in a costume contest

100. Ridden a gondola in Venice

101. Gotten a tattoo

102. Found that the texture of some

materials can turn you on

103. Rafted the Snake River

104. Been on television news programs as an “expert”

105. Got flowers for no reason

106. Masturbated in a public place

107. Got so drunk you don’t remember anything


108. Been addicted to some form of illegal drug.

109. Performed on stage

110. Been to Las Vegas


111. Recorded music

112. Eaten shark

113. Had a one-night stand

114. Gone to Thailand

115. Seen Siouxsie live

116. Bought a house

117. Been in a combat zone

118. Buried one/both of your parents

119. Shaved or waxed your pubic hair off

120. Been on a cruise ship

121. Spoken more than one language fluently

122. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone

123. Bounced a check

124. Performed in Rocky Horror

125. Read - and understood - your credit report

126. Raised children

127. Recently bought and played with a favorite childhood toy

128. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour

129. Created and named your own constellation of stars

130. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country

131. Found out something significant that your ancestors did

132. Called or written your Congress person

133. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over

134. …more than once? - More than thrice?

135. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge

136. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop

when you knew someone was looking (just the other day)

137. Had an abortion or your female partner did

138. Had plastic surgery

139. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived.

140. Wrote articles for a large

publication (that would be singular)

141. Lost over 100 pounds

142. Held someone while they were having a flashback

143. Piloted an airplane

144. Petted a stingray

145. Broken someone’s heart

146. Helped an animal give birth

147. Been fired or laid off from a job

148. Won money on a T.V. game show

149. Broken a bone

150. Killed a human being

151. Gone on an African photo safari

152. Ridden a motorcycle

153. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100mph

154. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced

155. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol

156. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild

157. Ridden a horse

158. Had major surgery


159. Had sex on a moving train

160. Had a snake as a pet

161. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

162. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff,

flight, and landing

163. Slept for more than 30 hours over

the course of 48 hours

164. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states

165. Visited all 7 continents

166. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days

167. Eaten kangaroo meat

168. Fallen in love at an ancient Mayan burial ground

169. Been a sperm or egg donor

170. Eaten sushi

171. Had your picture in the newspaper


172. Had 2 (or more) healthy romantic relationships for over a year in your lifetime

173. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about

174. Gotten someone fired for their actions

175. Gone back to school


176. Parasailed

177. Changed your name

178. Petted a cockroach

179. Eaten fried green tomatoes

180. Read The Iliad

181. Selected one “important” author

who you missed in school, and read,

182. Dined in a restaurant and stolen silverware,

plates, cups because your apartment needed them

183. …and gotten 86′ed from the restaurant

because you did it so many times, they figured out it was you

184. Taught yourself an art from scratch

185. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

186. Apologized to someone years after

inflicting the hurt

187. Skipped all your school reunions

188. Communicated with someone

without sharing a common spoken language

189. Been elected to public office

190. Written your own computer language

191. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream

192. Had to put someone you love into hospice care

193. Built your own PC from parts

194. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you

195. Had a booth at a street fair

196: Dyed your hair

197: Been a DJ

198: Found out someone was going to dump you via LiveJournal

199: Written your own role playing game

200: Been arrested

Sunday

It's almost 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. Guess what I did today?



I slept.



What else did you do today, Jen?



I slept more.



Surely not! Surely you have done something today besides sleep?



I got up around noon, listened to some NPR, posted on Lucy's blog, ate some latkes Dereck had made, drank a few cups of coffee.



Then Dereck asked me if I wanted to come sit outside with him and the dog, and he started messing around on the internet a little, and I went into the bedroom, took off my glasses and Tevas, lay down on the bed, and woke up again about five or ten minutes ago.



That's it. I've slept.



The only reason I'm up now is that I am terrified about tonight-- I can't afford to be up all night!



Why did I sleep so much today? Bad allergy day for sure. And to be sure, the rest of the weekend was intense in different ways.



Friday was the eve of Yom Kippur, so after getting up and working all day, we drove down to Columbia, 90 miles, pausing only to stuff ourselves at KFC before the fast.



We drove directly to the First Baptist Church downtown where services were being held. I wore white pants and a white T-shirt and white sandals, and for the first time, wore my prayer shawl (the Yom Kippur evening service is the only evening service at which prayer shawls are worn).



For two hours we prayed about repentance. Then we hung out at the church talking to people for about an hour, and Jerry Hirsch and I sneaked away for a cigarette. He wasn't fasting, and I decided I could have that, and he didn't want to be disrespectful, so we were right on the edges of downtown.



Then, we followed the Mandells back to the synagogue, which is a large farmhouse, and we loaded our stuff upstairs, they downstairs with their two sons, and I sketched in my sketchbook for awhile and Dereck sat outside. Then we went to sleep.



We got up at 8:00 and showered briefly, and put on our clothes from the night before. You don't really want to spend too much time bathing. And we fasted. By 9:00 a.m. we were in services.



At noon, after praying for three hours, D and I decided we had atoned enough and left, and broke our fast at the Indian restaurant a block away. It was really good to go down, and I wish I had some really meaningful observations for you, but I am still absorbing it all (perhaps the most telling thing is that I have slept all day). It did move me that in the year 2004 you can still find 200 Jews in mid-central Missouri who are fasting and wearing kippot and prayer shawls and praying-- many of them until 1:30 p.m. yesterday, and then back for more at 4:45.



We went to Barnes and Noble and I bought a book teaching drawing. Last weekend I was absorbed in My Name is Asher Lev, which I initially began reading because of its Jewish subject matter, but it re-awakened in me a deep desire to try to learn to draw. I have trouble seeing the world in any other way than through words.



I have been talking to my blogger family lately about how we all ended up doing this and meeting each other, so I will answer Kathy here.



I don't know what other people's needs have been in creating blogs. I have always journaled. My journals are all in my dining room hutch within easy access so I can rescue them in case of a fire. I probably just need a security deposit box. There are MANY, dating back to third grade.



I majored in creative writing and English in college, did a creative Master's thesis. I am a writer. That is what I do. No matter what I do to earn my living, I am a writer. I have written since I can remember anything, in love with language, very much trapped in narrative all the time. I cannot have a life experience without thinking of how I would write it. Nothing is sacred.



I stumbled onto SweetJediMama's blog and we began talking about it (we worked together before she got infected with a passion to be one of the doctors we worked with, and quit her job to become a medical student) and I set one up very quickly with no other goal than to have a forum to make me write daily.



I very soon persuaded Karl, who is also a writer, to do the same thing. I contacted Shawn, a friend from grad school, and started reading Elizabeth through him, and then found a reference to Philip hanging out with J.D. Salinger, and the rest, my friends, is history.



I am a people person, and finding a blogging community was very natural to me. But the end all be all reason I started and that I am here is for the writing. which is funny, because Liza keeps giving me assignments to write, qualifiying them as "Not the blog." (Even though if I go for a few days without posting, she will call and say, "Are you ever going to blog again?"-- which, for a writer, is the very best kind of friend to have, so remember that if I whine on your blogs for more posts).



It's funny that I don't plan to do anything really with the blog, in terms of developing the materials. I enjoy it, and I hope it remains archived for my kids someday. I would love it if I had page after page of journals of my parents' lives to read. But then again, I'm so nosy, I just like reading peoples' journals, period. And it has gotten me into trouble. When I was in college, I hung out with an intense young man named Brady Udall. Remember that I was the writer at that time. And I had a big crush on him. Well, he kept a journal (as most young Mormons are encouraged to do), so one day he was napping on his couch and I sneaked a peak.



I found out from a mutual friend later that I had been caught and that he hated me for it, so I emailed him about ten years later and apologized, and was forgiven.



(This act of mine came back and karmically bit me on the ass, by the way, when my journals were subpeonaed during my divorce. Now. What do you do? Destroy ten years of your life? Or hand them over? I handed them over, and to this day I believe I won custody because of it).



So, naturally, blogs, journals that I am actually allowed to read, well, they are like heaven. And I have paper journals too: one that I carry in my purse (I just bought two replacements yesterday because it's almost full), and a larger one with acid-free paper.



But the drawing is something more spiritual, a way to break out of words for a time, and re-train other parts of my brain. I took a drawing class my freshman year of college, got a C and lost my scholarship, and haven't done it since. I came home one day to find my roommate and her boyfriend chortling over my portfolio. I suck. Truly bad. But it's all about taking the time and learning to see.



Now. All of the drawing books assert that everybody can learn to draw. I don't believe that anymore than I believe that everybody can write. I am not a genius-- I need a drawing book. My father firmly insisted to me my entire childhood that writing is not a talent, it is a skill that you improve by working at it every single day. And I agree with the writing daily part, but I do not believe it is not a gift or a talent.



Some people can write in ways that cannot be taught. When I taught writing, I think I sucked at it-- I didn't know how to explain how to write, because I don't know how I learned to do it except through doing it. And I am fairly obsessed with it, and I truly do not understand why others are not obsessed with it, so that makes me not a very good or sympathetic teacher. Oh, I am good in a classroom, and I can teach other things-- but as for the actual writing? I can tell students a few things not to do, and provide a few pointers along the way, but either you know how to do it, or you don't.



I have the privilege of reading many blogs by gifted writers. I have a distinct sense from some of the blogs that I read that the writers do not consider themselves writers and would be very surprised to know that I did think of them that way. Maybe one or two (wait, three) of the bloggers I read know how good they are and they are good on purpose. You know who you are. (The rest of you suck because you are good by accident, but fortunately for me, since you don't know how good you are, I don't worry about you becoming a great and successful writer like freaking Brady did).



Alas and alack-- we have to run to the store now.



More later on the Round Barn Blues Festival.







Thursday, September 23, 2004

Garden State

Tonight we went and saw Garden State, which has been getting very good reviews. It is written and directed byZach Braff, who is best known for his role in the NBC show Scrubs.



Do not let that dissuade you from seeing this movie. It is one of the best movies I have seen in a very long time, in the theaters or not.



And the link when you click on his name? That is his blog. That he writes.



When the movie ended, we just looked at each other and said, "Scrubs?" Oh my goodness. What a talented man.



I repeat, run do not walk, to see Garden State. We have already decided to buy the DVD when it comes out, and I am going to buy the soundtrack now.

This is the Best we could do?

Seriously?



I told D last night that if Bush wins, I would move to a foreign country with him. He said we needed jobs.



I'm not so sure.

A Study in Low-Maintenance

Both of my signifcant others in life have appreciated the fact that I am not a high maintenance woman. Quite the opposite. My roomate Rachel used to tell me that I could benefit from being a little more high maintenance.



I am simply not wired that way.



I offer you a case study.



I got a disturbing phone message at work today. It was on my cell, and from my ex.



"Jen, Tommy says there are still library books at your house he needs, and the kids both need their soccer stuff..."



Oh CRAP!



This means that a) I will have to brave the little boy room and b) that I will have to do laundry. I choose simply to ignore the message further inviting me to bring such items to soccer practice. To acknowledge it would mean admitting that here it is Thursday, their last game was Saturday, and I haven't washed their shirts yet. At least, I don't think I have. I sure as hell haven't folded any or put any away.



After years of domestic bliss, now that I am a working outside the home girl, I don't do laundry anymore. Oh, I wash and dry clothes, to be sure. But fold? Put away?



Meet Erin. Erin is our favorite sitter, and she needed some extra cash, so over the summer, I came up with a brilliant way for her to earn some. Our wunderkin Jen was gone for the summer, so I was cleaning the house myself with my Fridays off to prepare for Shabbat. Erin needs work= Jen doesn't have to clean anymore.



But then Wunderkin Jen returned and wanted her old job back. But she will leave in December! So, how to make them both happy?



Well. There is obviously plenty for everyone.



Jen cleans for us (except for the bedrooms, we muddle through that ourselves, and badly) and Erin comes and folds the laundry. Our job is to wash and dry it and put it away.



Ha.



Put it away.



Like that's gonna happen. That is why G-d invented laundry baskets.



But here is this message on my cell phone. Clearly, the boys do need their soccer shirts. Erin won't be here til tomorrow. What's a girl to do?



Well. I went downstairs. A lot of this effort would rest upon whether the children had actually obeyed listened paid attention to me when I told them to put their clothes in the dirty clothes pile, rather than leaving their clothes a) on the floor of their room b) on the floor of the TV room c) on the floor of the bathroom.



Clothes in the washing machine. Open drier. Clothes in the drier. Take those out and add to the mountain on the nifty table I have down there. Transfer clothes to the drier, clean the lint thing (I'm not a complete moron) and start the drier. I have not yet seen the soccer shirt.



Sigh. Go find the next pile of dirty clothes, and take it downstairs. There is a soccer shirt! Start a load of bright colors. But there is only one soccer shirt. I look at the pile of clothes on the table. Sigh. I roll up my sleeves (actually, I just said that for dramatic effect. I am wearing short sleeves) and start digging through the clothes when it occurs to me that the only efficient way to do this is to fold as I go.



I think longingly of the book I had been planning to read this evening while Dereck teaches and is at soccer. Of the book I didn't have time to read last night when I was getting new shoes, groceries, making sure homework was done, assigning chores (go walk the DOG!), eating dinner, and tucking little people into bed, first Tommy, then Christian, lying down with them each in turn, and eventually falling asleep next to Christian til midnight, when Dereck came to claim me.



This is why I do not do laundry. It cuts into my reading time. Seriously.



I start folding. But I am crafty. I know Erin is coming tomorrow, so I only fold enough to learn that there is no bright orange soccer shirt on that table.



I go up the stairs. I go into the little boys' room, picking up towels, socks, sorting clean clothes from dirty. I look in all of the drawers. An orange shirt! That's an Old Navy shirt. What possessed me to buy an orange shirt when they were going to have orange soccer shirts? Couldn't I have anticipated that somehow?



I glance in the bathroom that Jen has cleaned today every time I go past. I love her.



I return to the basement, sort more clothes, peek into the washer and drier. It's hopeless. I will have to wait til they are finished to find out whether there is an orange shirt I missed earlier.



I go back upstairs, look in Sam's room, pick up towels, socks, look in the drawers. I take those to the basement (no, I am NOT the very model of a modern major efficient woman), and by the time I come back upstairs, I decide that maybe I will go into the newly cleaned bathroom because my afternoon coffee Dr. Pepper is hitting me. I turn on the light, and there, neatly hung on the bathroom rack is the other orange shirt! Hurray! I run it downstairs, open the washing machine, and plop it in. Hurray! Run back upstairs to the newly cleaned bathroom.



Now, I have to find the library books...



And as I have been writing this, Hy-Vee called.



The two movies I rented, which I didn't have time to watch, are now overdue.





Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Well. That can't be good.

Thank you, Dana, for the hearty laugh.



Your Penis Name is: Little Juan





On the other hand, I rather like this:



Your Twins' Names Are: Betty and Veronica







Haiku

I'm really digging Dereck's haiku blog. I invited myself to add haikus to it, and I am a blogging fool.

Early Wednesday

Pie is back.



Kathy had a lovely post today about people who make her happy.



Someone else is breaking out of reticence to post.



All of these are lovely counterbalances on a sleepy Wednesday, when what I hear on the news is so absolutely horrifying that if I didn't have something positive to focus on, I would be wrapped up in my bathrobe on the floor, unable to move.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Embarrassed? Yes. Surprised? No.





Are you Addicted to the Internet?



62%





Hardcore Junkie (61% - 80%)

While you do get a bit of sleep every night and sometimes leave the house, you spend as much time as you can online. You usually have a browser, chat clients, server consoles, and your email on auto check open at all times. Phone? What's that? You plan your social events by contacting your friends online. Just be careful you don't get a repetitive wrist injury...







The Are you Addicted to the Internet? Quiz at Quiz Me!





I went to the doctor today, finally, because even after going home

for a nap during lunch, I went back to work and felt like crap.

I put my watch on upside down. I was dialing the dr.'s office

and Liza answered the phone instead. I couldn't

focus or concentrate on anything today.



I don't have strep throat. He gave me some free

allergy medicine samples because I looked so

miserable. I have a workshop tomorrow that

I have to be at from 8 to noon. But at least if I

end up sleeping tomorrow afternoon, I have

the dr.'s recommendation to support me.



Lots of rest and lots of fluids.



Sigh.



We went to see Sky Captain with the kids tonight

because, what the heck, I was sick anyway, might as

well be sick at the theater. The kid liked it. It was

good popcorn fluff, a little boring in parts, and the

Angelina Jolie character was completely pointless.



I wouldn't see it again, but for tonight, it was fine.



Twice tonight, Tommy read to me four little books

he brought home, completely on his own. He was

so proud-- he read them the first time before we

even got out of the After School Program.



Happy mamma. Happy mamma.



Monday, September 20, 2004

Simple.

Because one of my children has been having some night time troubles (I won't be more specific to protect their anonymity) and because one of my children is afraid of the dark, which heightens the night time troubles, he spent 45 minutes tonight stringing up white bulbs throughout the hallway to make a path of light for little sleepers.



Because he loves them.



And for that, my love for him grows even more.



Men: don't let anyone kid you. There is nothing sexier to a woman than a man who loves her children.



Nothing.





Mamma's little brag book

I have written here about my children's travails. I have written about Christian's experiences in speech therapy and our suspicions that there is something neurological going on along the autism or asperger's spectrum.



I have written about Tommy's struggles this year with reading (though, I might note that this is the first school year since he started pre-school at age 3.5 that we have gone this long without some kind of note about his behavior-- well, I guess summer school was pretty good, actually... thus confirming my suspicions that his teacher last year was just a big witch).



And so now, if you will pardon me, I am going to brag a little.



About Sam.



Who casually handed me an envelope from his backpack last night addressed to the Parents Of. I opened it and found in it his state, standardized test scores from last year.



He scored in the 95th percentile for Social Studies and the 97th percentile for Math. According to this test, he placed higher than 95% of students his age in the nation for Social Studies, and higher than 97% for Math.



This is the child who does not like math.



I was astonished.



And then, of course, very very proud.





Sunday, September 19, 2004

A Little Sunday Night Trivia

Kelso, Washington is the Smelt Capitol of the World.



What the hell is smelt, anyway?



Anybody visited Kelso lately?

Scrambled Brains with Your Coffee?

Being sick on a weekend sucks. I feel like I have lost my whole weekend. Dereck remarked last night on how peaceful and restful the day was and I said, "Like Shabbat." Yes, that is how it is supposed to be.



But there is no excuse for sleeping away your Sunday morning, even if you are sick. I haven't been awake long enough to say for sure, but I think I am feeling better. Yesterday I described it as "Not all the cylinders are firing." Every time I stood up, I wanted to be lying down.



Today I still feel a little off, but it's hard to know whether that's because I haven't woken up yet, or because of the bug. If I still feel off tomorrow, I'll go have a strep test, though my throat mostly feels fine. Any twinges I feel in my throat could just be allergies.



Okay, I was just in the bathroom (I had been filling up the tub, when Tommy, my wunderkind, ran in and turned off the water, as he is prone to do, and I called, "No, leave it on!" To which his little six year old voice chirped back, "Okay Mommy, I don't care if you flood the whole house!" so he turned it back on, and I had to check to make sure it wouldn't boil my flesh off when I stepped in), minding my own business, and it became very clear to me that my stomach is NOT okay.



Sigh.



That makes the sleep I had this morning seem like not enough.



We have a picnic at 1:00 so the kids can meet their campus pals, and then flu or no flu, I am going to Walmart and buying storage tubs and these kids are working on their rooms.



I was having a disturbing dream sequence this morning and I was trying to stay asleep long enough to resolve it-- when simply waking up would have shown that it was resolved.



We've been talking about stress dreams, lately, and last night I had one of my more typical dreams. In the dream, for some reason, I have decided to reconcile with Mark and move back in with him, with the kids. In prior dreams, I would move in with him and then things would deteriorate, so I would have to go through the process of disentangling myself all over again, but it got easier each time.



Now, I have progressed to the point where I put on the brakes before I actually move back in with him.



But last night, he had agreed to move out of his big house (it was not his house, it was my childhood home) and move into a trailer with me and the kids so I could finish grad school. We actually did live in a trailer our first year of marriage, about a hundred years ago.



But then I had second thoughts, even though all of our stuff was in a moving van together, so I suggested he move back into his house. Alone. So he asked me how I would afford the trailer alone, and I said I'd get a roommate. And then he said I couldn't move the kids into a trailer. (That was only okay when he was going to live there too). So, to try to appease him, I told him we'd all move back home together, and then I was secretly in a flurry of trying to figure out how I could find a roommate so I could live in the trailer before the moving van was unloaded.



And I didn't figure it out.



But in the meantime, I flew a small airplane, was addicted to Garfield videos, hung out for a long time in the Kirksville airport, which grew more and more labyrinth-like as the dream progressed, and ended up having a long, spooky conversation with the head of our computer services at work about how computers will take over the planet in the next twenty years or so, and he was sharing with me classified information that was broadcast over the Lifetime network in movies with a young Cynthia Nixon.



No wonder I am still tired.



There was this whole bizarre sequence in the airport bathroom too, with a bunch of women who were presumably all going to get on this little airplane, and the toothpaste we had all switched to.



It disturbs me very much when my own subconscious does product placement. Very much. I don't watch that much television!



The toothpaste? Was Colgate.



I use Crest.



Go figure.





Saturday, September 18, 2004

I figured while I was reading her archives...

(and it's all right there, too!), I might as well steal this:



HASH(0x8ac9848)
You speak eloquently and have seemingly read every
book ever published. You are a fountain of
endless (sometimes useless) knowledge, and
never fail to impress at a party.

What people love: You can answer almost any
question people ask, and have thus been
nicknamed Jeeves.

What people hate: You constantly correct their
grammar and insult their paperbacks.



What Kind of Elitist Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla



Okay, THAT'S IT!

I have been sleuthing.



I now have a whole virtual world made up of people I have never met.



I noticed today that Lucy posted from Philip's house-- or seemingly did, because she has used his email and url. On my blog's comments.



This could be a conceit. Or Philip playing a joke. Or Lucy doing it.



So, I read Kathy's blog. And Stacey makes a comment about Bill accidentally posting as her, and how that has been happening a lot today.



I have never met these people. But I know they live in Cleveland and that Kathy recently went to visit them.



So, I go read their blog, and I read the comments and... Lucy has posted there from Philip's specs. Now, even I am not paranoid to believe that this is a conceit designed to fool me because as far as I know, nobody knows I read Stacey and Bill's blog.



And I know that Lucy got on a plane and is at a slumber party today. And that Philip is hosting one.



How on earth did Philip and Lucy get together? She is in Chicago, he is in Washington.



Can you tell that I need to take a shower and go rent a video or read a book or somehow or other get a real life?



But, the funny thing is, this is actually real life. Completely made up of people I have never met, who really do exist, and we are all inter-connected daily through these blogs, through text, through the written word. And even though the written word is silent, I have all of their voices in my head, these distinct voices, and I feel as if I know them, and I think about them and I worry about them.



Just like they were characters in my favorite book.



I love the blogosphere.



The written word is an amazing thing. I am amazed.

Stolen from Lucy...

I now believe, after her email which confirmed, "You betcha," that Lucy is "She." I hope you and P are having a good weekend. :).



If you don't know what I am talking about, go read this.





Narrative
You're a Narrative writer!



What kind of writer are you?
brought to you by Quizilla



It's been kind of a sleepy Saturday. It was a sleepy Friday night. We had Shabbat, and Christian was having a meltdown-- and this morning did not want his baby coffee, so I am convinced he also has a mild flu. I just don't feel like I have any energy. Dereck is getting ready to take the boys on a bike ride uptown and I am staying here because a) I don't have a bike and b) I have no energy. I took the boys to soccer today, and made a blueberry pie because I had promised Christian and there was just NO getting out of it.



Then I slept.



The Mormons are unloading a huge red truck across the street. I have met three of the seven kids and the remarkably young looking mom. We are all so happy to see them because a fraternity was trying to buy the house.



What else? I was up in the middle of the night with insomnia, allergies, so I sat and read for an hour. I finished my book today, leaving me once again in between books, but I have a shelf full of books to choose from.



I am tempted to watch a video tonight. That would involve renting one, and returning the one that is two days late.



My thoughts are all disjointed. Maybe I will just sit and stare into space for awhile.



Friday, September 17, 2004

Dereck has a new blog.

Oh my goodness.



You think you know somebody.



Did I mention that it's haiku?



Did I mention that it's really good?



Okay. Let me get this straight. He gets up really really early this morning. And starts a new blog. And it's haiku.



I just walked into the kitchen and asked him pertinent personal questions to see if he has actually been replaced by aliens.



You need to go read it.









What is the Point?

Most of the time when I have the flu, despite the chills, the aches, the pains, the time spent "looking at things" in the bathroom (that is what I tell Dereck I do in there, so shhhhhh), I do not mind because it means I can curl up in my bed with the heating pad and sometimes a book and I can just feel sorry for myself and get better.



Oh no, most of the time, I don't mind being sick. It's like an earned vacation.



But today. Okay, I admit that I've been having er... symptoms for a few days now. But they also could have been symptoms of eating things I don't usually eat. Today, I grabbed The Dash for lunch and we went to Taco Bell so we could have a quick lunch and then go to the gym.



First mistake. Can't work out after eating. I knew this.



But we went anyway. And started with weights to give food time to digest.



Then, after about 4 minutes on the elliptical trainer, I said, "I can't." And changed. He said he'd walk home. I go to van.



And I know I'm in trouble.



I decide to go home and pick him up on the way.



I went and looked at some things.



Sigh. It's definitely looking flu-like, including fatigue, aches and pains, and generally just feeling like I'm half here. Did I mention the headache and the stiff neck?



I have a little bit of a sore throat which I was blaming on allergies, but I know Liza went and had a strep test done today. I am waiting to hear if she has strep.



But what is the point? We are having a birthday party for the boss today in half an hour. I can't miss that. That is not a good political move.



Unless I email him and ask him would he like me to take my flu home with me instead of infecting his staff?



But I have children to pick up. I could get a nap first...



And then tomorrow we have two soccer games.



It's not like you get to just not do stuff when you're the mommy. Oh no. Flu or no flu, you take your chills and your tylenol, and a blanket, and you go and curl up on the soccer field and suffer there. After you have found everyone's shin guards and made sure their cleats still fit.



The flu used to be so much more fun.



But right now, I just sort of don't see the point.





Hmmmm....

If you took into account my first post (the Truth hurts) and its juxtaposition with my post about having the flu, if you were so inclined, you might see a correlation between being mean-spirited and then being afflicted with the flu.



But only if you were so inclined.

The Truth Hurts

I just finished writing a three-page, [edited by site owner].



I'm not going to lie.



Every word was fun.

Phew...

Found at TJ's blog (No, not as in TJ and Sparky). And I found him through Kathy.



This site is certified 32% EVIL by the Gematriculator



This site is certified 68% GOOD by the Gematriculator

Seasons

Liza's comment about Fall and how we determine seasons got me to thinking. (Liza, it shore would be nice to have a link to add to your name, ya know?). (And, yes, I misspelled "sure" on purpose).



I have known for sometime that everything is subject to interpretation, a fact that disturbs me to no end. I cannot prove that I exist, or that I am alive, or that you exist or that you are alive. And suddenly that becomes a lot more unsettling than the internal debate over G-d's existence. Sometimes, as David Hume once said (my apologies if I am misquoting), we just have to show up and eat our oatmeal because if we spend too much time thinking about it, we will go mad.



So, back to seasons. Why do I call it Fall when, as Liza says, it was 80 degrees outside?



Well, I suppose the fact that I live in the midwest and was not raised in Minnesota does factor it, because in November when I am scraping frost off my car, you will still be calling it Fall, and that for me will be winter.



I start Fall early because we don't have it for very long, it seems, and I want to enjoy it for as long as possible. It starts to be Fall for me when I take a shirt along to karaoke (which is held outside on a patio), even if I don't end up needing it.



It starts to be Fall when I start to reflectively pull on jeans instead of shorts when I'm at home.



It starts to be Fall when I go over to Liza's house and she has bushels of apples waiting to be peeled, cut, dried, and frozen for pies.



It starts to be Fall when I am out walking my dog at 10:00 at night and it's a little nippy outside, and I come home and suggest opening windows instead of having the air on (which is terrible for my allergies, yet I did it anyway).



Our summers are so hot that sometimes they can suck our breath away, even in the dark. So, Fall starts when I go outside and I can breathe again. And if I were to sit on my porch, I would need to have a long-sleeved overshirt or light jacket.



Fall starts when school starts, and suddenly my street hums with the ordinary business and busy-ness of students walking back and forth to class, joggers galore, little blonde girls in pony tails who carry walkmen and wear only their running bras on top. Loads of people walking their dogs. The town we live in is governed by seasons. During the summer, the students all leave, so our already scant population drops by 6000, and leaves the town a ghost town of heat and quiet, the humidity hovering over it like heat lightning, squeazing out all the noise.



It will be quiet like this in the winter too, when the air freezes all the life, and we will go outside and hear our own footsteps crunching.



So, yes, I suppose it could be the last days of summer. We probably won't need jackets at the first soccer game on Saturday morning.



But it's coming. It's definitely coming.



Thursday, September 16, 2004

The Start of Fall

I realized last night during our wonderful Rosh Hashana celebration that I had arranged to take a vacation day today because I was planning to go to Columbia. And as the evening stretched onward, the children happily watching Ella Enchanted, the adults lingering at the table over decaffeinated coffee, a little Riesling, apple cinnamon coffee cake, that I didn't actually have to surrender my day off just because I wasn't going to Columbia.



Yesterday I worked from home (and reviewed a grant and went in for a meeting) and I cleaned the dining room and living room, picked up my bedroom, vacuumed, did dishes, cleared the table, put a new tablecloth on the table, made my apple challah, worked out, showered, ironed, went to work, then after my meeting, went to Walmart, got things for dinner, picked up kids, came home, made apple cinnamon coffee cake, had chai with Christine, had Sam set the table and walk the dog, chopped onion and red bell peppers and fried them up with perogies, went and got Tommy (he wanted to stay at After School longer), got more perogies from the store, came home and just wanted to fall over. Ever since starting to walk a certain canine who pulls, my right hip hurts chronically (I am sure it is arthritis!) and I was pooped.



And then our guests arrived.



We had trout with corn, carrots with butter and maple syrup and dried cherries, perogies, with asparagus (forgot to mention that), red pepper and onion, dinner rolls, apple challah. We lit candles and said prayers and passed the kiddush cup, and we ate. And we ate. And then we excused children to play and we cleared some dishes, put on some decaf, and then we ate some more, scooping eleven scoops of vanilla ice cream to go with eleven plates of apple cinnamon cake. We had dipped apples in honey.



Then we had poppers and went outside for a pinata. There were party favors, the kind kids like to blow and have unravel. I wanted it to be a celebration and I wanted the children to remember.



This morning, we all slept in and then the kids made their own lunches and I took them to school before their lunch hours. Then I stopped by Liza's to chat for awhile.



I came home after Liza's house and Dereck was here so we had trout and

perogies and veggies leftover from last night, on the front porch with

the doggie outside, and it was a beautiful Fall day (okay, so I am

starting early) and then I seduced him (edited by site owner).



Napping is discouraged on R.H. Though I really wanted one. That's why I went to the gym to exercise.



I did 30 killer minutes on program 4 (cross-training) (level ten) at the gym (you pedal rontward then back, alternatively, so you do each twice, and the pedaling back just about kills me) and then I stopped (2.5 miles) so I could lift for 20 minutes and still have something left today.



Then had milk with Christine at Java Co. afterwards. Sam has an openhouse tonight at his school, but I talk to his teacher several times a week, so Mark will go. He is at

soccer practice with the kids right now (which is a small miracle because he and I used to fight over soccer too. He opposes it because it is a bourgoise sport. If you are going "Huh?" join the club), and I almost went over, but I decided to enjoy some alone time instead of rush rush rush rush rush.



I may even take a *bath* with a *book*!



And Mark is bringing the boys to me tonight (so he can to go the open house at Sam's school), saving me a trip to Greentop (20 minutes one way) and back. That really does simplify my Thursday nights, the boys get to bed sooner, everything.



I could do 15 more minutes of exercise here. Naaahhhhh.... I had a great work out and I'm not dead.



Dereck has a late class and then Frisbee, and Liza is also on her own tonight, so I invited myself to her house for dinner. She called and said the turkey is in the oven.



Nice day off! Oh, how I love Fall. I love it.

Freaky Mamma

Thank you, Kathy, for the quiz...





Activist Mama
You're an agitator! Your kids have grown up on the
front lines of rallies and pickets, and chances
are that you boycott at least one company for
its bad business practices. Your kids are
learning what matters to you and how they can
change what matters to them.



What kind of a freaky mother are you?
brought to you by Quizilla



Tuesday, September 14, 2004

It's One Less Thing, Ya Know?

I went to the doctor yesterday. My blood pressure is always low, and despite recent events, continue to be low (112 over 60-something).



They also checked my cholesterol and my thyroid.



The nurse called and left the message, "Your blood results were just absolutely perfect!"



Which means I don't have a thyroid problem. Dammit.



I called, out of curiosity (well, okay, and so I could post it here) to find out what my cholesterol was.



187.



So, basically, I can cross those two things off my list of things to worry about.



On the other hand, last week, I noticed my hair was looking a little fried overprocessed. So, I was calling to make an appointment to have the boys' hair cut, and impulsively made an appointment to have mine cut too.



I sat in the chair. I explained that I am growing my hair out, but I was concerned about the damage on the ends, particularly on the sides of my hair, but did not want a mullet.



She said if I wanted to keep the length, she could get rid of the damaged hair by adding more layers.



This seemed reasonable to me-- I was focused on the words keeping the length.



And it's fine.



Just a teenie weenie Farrah Fawcett thing going on.



But it's fine.

New Year's Apple Challah



Here is what I am making tonight.

Ingredients

This is the perfect cross between a bread and a cake. What could be more appealing - a rich challah studded with chunks of fresh autumn apples. This is the perfect cross between a bread and a cake. The bottom of the baked bread becomes caramelized with sugar and apple juices. Leftovers make terrific "apple" French Toast.



1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons dry yeast

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup oil (or unsalted melted butter)

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 1/2 to 5 cups bread flour

Apple mixture

3 cups coarsely chopped apples

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Egg wash and garnish

1 egg - beaten

1 teaspoon sugar

1-2 tablespoons coarse sugar (optional) for sprinkling

non-stick cooking spray



I am trying not to be depressed. There is no rational explanation for the fog I am in or the funk, or why I have been sleeping like a corpse. I am meeting Barbara for lunch today-- she sent me an email this morning that was just what the doctor ordered.I had originally planned to work out today, but I think I need the conversation more. Hell, I have an elliptical trainer. I will just have to use it tonight instead of curling into a little depressed ball between two sweet little boys and going to sleep as I did last night.



I cannot explain to anyone why Mark's behavior has depressed me this way-- not even myself. I suppose because I actually kidded myself into believing he was going to be cool about this. And I can't defend myself or them from his stupidity when they are with him.



I feel the same sense of fear and disgust when Sam tells me that Mark has told him that the only way to be Jewish is racially, as I did when we were still married and he told me he wouldn't want to find out my biological parents were Jewish because he wouldn't want his children to be Jewish. The same sense of fear and disgust as when he told me that there were lots of other world tragedies just as bad or worse than the holocaust (whether or not this is true, he was making the argument in the context of making larger more disturbing comments about Jews) and he was sick of the Jews running Hollywood and making movies about their tragedy, and that some reports of the holocaust were exaggerated.



His father actually told my mother once that the Holocaust hadn't happened. What are you, Mel Gibson's father, too?



The kind of racism that comes out of his family. His sister's use of racial slurs. His father's constant little monologues about how he has been wronged by "coloreds." His brother getting out of a housing deal after finding out that black people lived in the neighborhood. His sister's response that they don't even like the Indians on their street because they don't know "their place."



It just makes me sick. I am so angry that I just want to scream. If I had known the kind of racism present in this family, I would never have married into it, and my only regret about divorcing out of it is that these people actually still have unsupervised access to my children. I really wish there were something I could do about that. I should have tape recorded them.



Mark's mother didn't want us to name Sam Sam because people might think he was Jewish. Can you believe that?



Sorry. Jen's ugly divorce history is coming raging out of the closet.



I will stuff it back in now and get on with my regularly scheduled day.

New Year's Apple Challah

Here is what I am making tonight.



Ingredients

This is the perfect cross between a bread and a cake. What could be more appealing - a rich challah studded with chunks of fresh autumn apples. This is the perfect cross between a bread and a cake. The bottom of the baked bread becomes caramelized with sugar and apple juices. Leftovers make terrific "apple" French Toast.



1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons dry yeast

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup oil (or unsalted melted butter)

2 eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 1/2 to 5 cups bread flour



Apple mixture

3 cups coarsely chopped apples

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon cinnamon



Egg wash and garnish

1 egg - beaten

1 teaspoon sugar

1-2 tablespoons coarse sugar (optional) for sprinkling non-stick cooking spray



I am trying not to be depressed. There is no rational explanation for the fog I am in or the funk, or why I have been sleeping like a corpse. I am meeting Barbara for lunch today-- she sent me an email this morning that was just what the doctor ordered.



I had originally planned to work out today, but I think I need the conversation more. Hell, I have an elliptical trainer. I will just have to use it tonight instead of curling into a little depressed ball between two sweet little boys and going to sleep as I did last night.



I cannot explain to anyone why Mark's behavior has depressed me this way-- not even myself. I suppose because I actually kidded myself into believing he was going to be cool about this. And I can't defend myself or them from his stupidity when they are with him.



I feel the same sense of fear and disgust when Sam tells me that Mark has told him that the only way to be Jewish is racially, as I did when we were still married and he told me he wouldn't want to find out my biological parents were Jewish because he wouldn't want his children to be Jewish. The same sense of fear and disgust as when he told me that there were lots of other world tragedies just as bad or worse than the holocaust (whether or not this is true, he was making the argument in the context of making larger more disturbing comments about Jews) and he was sick of the Jews running Hollywood and making movies about their tragedy, and that some reports of the holocaust were exaggerated.



His father actually told my mother once that the Holocaust hadn't happened. What are you, Mel Gibson's father, too?



The kind of racism that comes out of his family. His sister's use of racial slurs. His father's constant little monologues about how he has been wronged by "coloreds." His brother getting out of a housing deal after finding out that black people lived in the neighborhood. His sister's response that they don't even like the Indians on their street because they don't know "their place."



It just makes me sick. I am so angry that I just want to scream. If I had known the kind of racism present in this family, I would never have married into it, and my only regret about divorcing out of it is that these people actually still have unsupervised access to my children. I really wish there were something I could do about that. I should have tape recorded them.



Mark's mother didn't want us to name Sam Sam because people might think he was Jewish. Can you believe that?



Sorry. Jen's ugly divorce history is coming raging out of the closet.



I will stuff it back in now and get on with my regularly scheduled day.

Monday, September 13, 2004

P.S.

I was loading the dishwasher when Sam said, "Daddy says crying is the worst thing a boy can do. I literally pressed my lips together before saying, "And how do you feel about that?"



"I can think of a lot of things that would be worse than crying."



I thought to myself, "Yeah, how about telling him to fuck off. Then tell him, well, at least you didn't cry."



It just gets worse... So, today when I pick Sam up, I said, "Did Daddy say anything to you about the conversation we had yesterday?"



"You mean about not going down for the thing?"



"Yes. Can you tell me what he said?"



"He said that being Jewish is like being black or being Chinese. You can't just say you're going to be black or Chinese and then do it. And he said if you become Jewish, they take the foreskin off your penis. Is that true, Mom?"



I reminded him that we had talked about circumcision, and that in some traditions it is possible not to do that (you do a pinprick of blood, symbolically). I said, "Actually, Sam, you can become Jewish. You're NOT born Jewish or Christian or Buddhist. You choose what you believe. If I were born in Russia and moved to America, and became a citizen, then even though maybe I was born in Russia, I would still be American, right? That is what it means to become Jewish."



"Oh, that makes more sense, because it isn't like there is Jewish blood in someone's vains or Christian blood."



"People have traditionally thought that the Jewish bloodline passes down through the mother. But that was much more important many centuries ago."



And I told Sam that we are going to celebrate Rosh Hashanah as a family at home, and invite some family friends over to celebrate with us.



And he said, "Cool!"



The End.

It just gets worse...

So, today when I pick Sam up, I said, "Did Daddy say anything to you about the conversation we had yesterday?"



"You mean about not going down for the thing?"



"Yes. Can you tell me what he said?"



"He said that being Jewish is like being black or being Chinese. You can't just say you're going to be black or Chinese and then do it. And he said if you become Jewish, they take the foreskin off your penis. Is that true, Mom?"



I reminded him that we had talked about circumcision, and that in some traditions it is possible not to do that (you do a pinprick of blood, symbolically). I said, "Actually, Sam, you can become Jewish. You're NOT born Jewish or Christian or Buddhist. You choose what you believe. If I were born in Russia and moved to America, and became a citizen, then even though maybe I was born in Russia, I would still be American, right? That is what it means to become Jewish."



"Oh, that makes more sense, because it isn't like there is Jewish blood in someone's vains or Christian blood."



"People have traditionally thought that the Jewish bloodline passes down through the mother. But that was much more important many centuries ago."



And I told Sam that we are going to celebrate Rosh Hashanah as a family at home, and invite some family friends over to celebrate with us.



And he said, "Cool!"



The End.

Yesterday I had a fight with my ex-husband the like of which we have not had for years. And it left me badly upset and shaken. I was upset even this morning. But you know, a quick phone call to your lawyer has a way of making things look up.



I had asked him to take T and C on Wednesday night instead of Thursday so I could take Sam to Columbia for Rosh Hoshana Wednesday night and Thursday and not hurry back Thursday night.

You are going to take him out of school. For Rosh Hoshanah.



Yes, it's the Jewish New Year. It's one of the most important holidays of the year.



He replied that he would look at his calendar. He called me back later on my cell phone, and I was in the parking lot of our local grocery store. He didn't want to talk about this in front of the boys.



But it is not right of you, Jen, to involve the children while you play Jew. We are not Jews. You and I were both raised in religions that celebrated the divinity of Christ. I know you are searching, but the boys are being raised Christian, and this is too important for you to confuse them while you figure things out. I'm not an anti-Semite. I wouldn't care if they wanted to marry a Jewish girl. But I don't want my children raised Jewish. You said you weren't going to raise them Jewish.



I said I knew they couldn't formally convert to Judaism without both of our permission and I knew you would never agree. But that doesn't mean I am not going to teach them about what is important to me.



I can't even recount the entire conversation, but it wasn't as calm as I have laid it out. I was interrupting him and yelling and slamming my open hand against the steering wheel. I opened my door and smoked a cigarette. I told him, "I was raised in a cult and you told me repeatedly that I wasn't a Christian so you want it, you got it! I am NOT a Christian. And I guess you should have chosen their mother more carefully!"



Jen, we aren't Jews. They don't even have a community up here. I am trying to give them a community. We read the Bible together every night. ...



And so on. I love how suddenly I am part of "We." Well, guess what? The children are not baptised. And I will not permit it. They are no more Christian than Jewish. They will choose when they are adults.



And, yes, I am furious, I am beyond pissed off that I can't have an experience of every member of my family belonging to one faith when we go sit on a pew.



But Jews had to practice in secret for centuries, were forced to convert against their will, so their children were never openly Jewish. I don't have much to bitch about, really.



Idecided not to fight with Mark about this. I am not taking Sam to Columbia. We will stay here and celebrate Rosh Hoshanah as a family in our home.And I will figure out whether I want to buy tickets only for Yom Kippur.



But I called my lawyer because my dad said, "Don't push this with him. I think you know that. You don't want him to haul you into court."



Excuse me?



Well, Mark has to remain informed, and he can voice an objection. That is IT. The same goes for me.



I don't want my children to be hostages in a religious war. But I am not going to be bullied by that asshole anymore. He is very good at it, having made it is professional psychological specialty for more than ten years. He really got under my skin.



But a good night's sleep and a ten second phone call all make the world a lot clearer.

I just did something I don't usually do, but that I should definitely do more of: I came home for lunch. Yup, I'm sitting in my own kitchen. I took some colby jack cheese and guacamole, melted them onto tortilla, and then finished up with a tiny little carton of tapioca pudding.



Yesterday I had a fight with my ex-husband the like of which we have not had for years. And it left me badly upset and shaken. I was upset even this morning. But you know, a quick phone call to your lawyer has a way of making things look up.



I had asked him to take T and C on Wednesday night instead of Thursday so I could take Sam to Columbia for Rosh Hoshana Wednesday night and Thursday and not hurry back Thursday night.



You are going to take him out of school. For Rosh Hoshanah.



Yes, it's the Jewish New Year. It's one of the most important holidays of the year.



He replied that he would look at his calendar. He called me back later on my cell phone, and I was in the parking lot of our local grocery store. He didn't want to talk about this in front of the boys.



But it is not right of you, Jen, to involve the children while you play Jew. We are not Jews. You and I were both raised in religions that celebrated the divinity of Christ. I know you are searching, but the boys are being raised Christian, and this is too important for you to confuse them while you figure things out.



I'm not an anti-Semite. I wouldn't care if they wanted to marry a Jewish girl. But I don't want my children raised Jewish. You said you weren't going to raise them Jewish.



I said I knew they couldn't formally convert to Judaism without both of our permission and I knew you would never agree. But that doesn't mean I am not going to teach them about what is important to me.



I can't even recount the entire conversation, but it wasn't as calm as I have laid it out. I was interrupting him and yelling and slamming my open hand against the steering wheel. I opened my door and smoked a cigarette. I told him, "I was raised in a cult and you told me repeatedly that I wasn't a Christian so you want it, you got it! I am NOT a Christian. And I guess you should have chosen their mother more carefully!"



Jen, we aren't Jews. They don't even have a community up here. I am trying to give them a community. We read the Bible together every night. ...



And so on. I love how suddenly I am part of "We." Well, guess what? The children are not baptised. And I will not permit it. They are no more Christian than Jewish. They will choose when they are adults.



And, yes, I am furious, I am beyond pissed off that I can't have an experience of every member of my family belonging to one faith when we go sit on a pew.



But Jews had to practice in secret for centuries, were forced to convert against their will, so their children were never openly Jewish. I don't have much to bitch about, really.



I decided not to fight with Mark about this. I am not taking Sam to Columbia. We will stay here and celebrate Rosh Hoshanah as a family in our home.



And I will figure out whether I want to buy tickets only for Yom Kippur.



But I called my lawyer because my dad said, "Don't push this with him. I think you know that. You don't want him to haul you into court."



Excuse me?



Well, Mark has to remain informed, and he can voice an objection. That is IT. The same goes for me.



I don't want my children to be hostages in a religious war. But I am not going to be bullied by that asshole anymore. He is very good at it, having made it is professional psychological specialty for more than ten years. He really got under my skin.



But a good night's sleep and a ten second phone call all make the world a lot clearer.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Friday

Well, it had to be done. And I actually enjoyed it.



Last week, I went to Wal-Mart (that is the only thing we have in town, folks) and got a bunch of frames you put in file drawers, hanging file cabinets, and file folders. In nice, primary colors, to make me happy. Manila, unlike vanilla, doesn't really do it for me.



I printed out the alphabet in a font I like, and then cut out the letters and taped them to white file tabs (I don't know how to print on those things, sue me). Then, I put them into the plastic tabby things. Then, I put those onto folders, making a pattern: red, blue, yellow, red, blue, yellow.



Then I assembled the hanging file metal things for the drawers, which was not easy. I had to use the back of a spoon for a screwdriver.



Then, I put all of my files (two entire drawers' worth) into alphabetical order. I have A-L in one drawer, and M-Z in another, and every single piece of paper in this office is now appropriately filed and easy to find.



I am not an organized person, but our secretary made fun of my messy office the other day, and I was chagrined. I have a major project coming up, and I need to have an uncluttered brain for it, and a visible desk.



I haven't seen my desk in months. People are always surprised when they come into my office because the furniture is quite nice. It's the office itself that is quite small, so they always joke about that too. Hey, there are people who get hired here before they even have an office, so I'm grateful. I have my very own office. It has my name on the door. And I don't have to share it. I can close my door if I want to change my clothes after a work out. It is not a cubicle. Nobody has access to my computer except me (and the IT people).



Tonight we are going to hear a band at the Dukum Upp, that Royce has brought to town (as he does) and Mary called and she is on the road. We should just go out to eat-- she has requested cheap, and we could just order Pagliai's and have it delivered to the Dukum. Everyone is going tonight. Should be great fun. I pre-bought my tickets today at Java Co.



Then tomorrow night, a party at Taner's. Oh yes, as per usual, our weekend is booked solid. What a lucky girl I am!

Thursday, September 9, 2004

Random Acts of Meanness

Sigh. I need to apologize, and I will do that personally in a few minutes.



Instead of counting blessings or looking for random acts of kindness, I had a moment of sheer meanness earlier this week, from which I am still reeling.



An act of sheer meanness that I did. And it was completely unnecessary.



I poked my head in where it did not belong. And I shouldn't have.



On the other side (is this the bright side?), and on a completely unrelated note, I have a very good friend who did the thing that is the hardest for all good friends to do, and gave me a royal ass-kicking last night. She sternly tsked at me because at the beginning of the summer, I set forth a challenge to myself to tackle a large writing project, of which I have about four pages done. Maybe six.



But I have not been reading or writing, other than blogs lately. And I am starting to feel the effects on my intellectual life, which is virtually non-existent. So, last night I started reading a new book.



And today, I will get out my six pages of writing and add something new.



I am not saying I will not blog anymore. No no no no no-- I do not blame the blog. I started this because I wanted to write daily, and I do.



But now it's time to stop fine-tuning the instrument and play.

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

"Ooohhh That Hurts!"

I love Yvonne's blog so much, I've been reading the archives. And tonight I found the funniest damn video.



I didn't pee, but I did cry.



This one was good too: right click the link and save it, and then you can play it.



Oh, thank you, Yvonne. And you too, Melly.

This is worse than peanutbutter and pickle sandwiches.

I got this from Melly's blog. And you really do need to read the whole post.





If it makes you feel any better, when I was a baby, I ate a banana slug (for you non-Californians, it's the mascot of UC Santa Cruz and looks like this). I can't decide which is grosser.. a ball or a slug. Posted by: Alena on July 12, 2004 01:33 PM



That is so gross. Please tell me you have no vivid memory of it. Posted by: melly on July 15, 2004 01:01 PM



No, I don't, thank god. I was about a year old and the unsuspecting slug crawled under the front door of our house in the Santa Cruz mountains. My mom says that she was out of the room at the time and by the time she'd come back, I'd apparently grabbed it and squished the bejeezus out of it, rendering it into a yellow goo that could be patented to give Superglue a run for its money. I had goo all on my hands and mouth, and you really have to see my mom's impression of me when I tasted the slug. Ha ha ha. Ha. Ha. She says it was nearly impossible to clean me up afterward. So gross, and yet, I think because I have no memory of it, I feel a little proud. I could be the one person on earth who's eaten a banana slug. And obviously, that's something to be proud of. Posted by: Alena on July 20, 2004 11:27 AM