Monday, March 15, 2010

Picking Up

Where I left off...

I was so angry about my keyboard last night that I just got off the Internets and went to bed to read. Today, I tried to re-install my keyboard drivers. Fail. Then, I discovered that Dell customer support is via chat-- if you want to have it via phone, you have to pay for the privilege. So, I opted for chat. The representative took temporary control over my computer, and downloaded a new touchpad driver (after uninstalling the old one), and that seems to have fixed the problem.

Of course, with my bad luck with laptops, I immediately assumed that I was at fault for the keyboard's wacky behavior. Fortunately, I was not. Still, as Dereck said, you shouldn't have faulty drivers on a brand new computer. I don't care though. The problem is fixed. And it is turning out that using a PC is sort of like riding a bike. I am remembering how to do this. Though for some reason, I was just typing in Facebook in response to a message, and my keyboard is starting to sound like a typewriter... interesting and possibly alarming. I wonder what key I hit to turn this on. Why can't these things ever be simple? Open the box, take out the computer, plug it in, and Bingo. But no.

So, anyway, enough about my computer (the problem vanished when I first muted my sound and then turned the sound all the way up-- does it have a poltergeist?). In addition to interesting conversations about Truth and the State of Things (do we fear not being loved because we think that the endgame of existence is to be worthy of love? Do we feel unworthy of living if we don't think we are worthy of being loved? Despite the fact that the thoughts appear to be oddly juxtaposed, I do think that everyone who exists deserves to exist-- whether they are loved or not. That seems largely irrelevant. Nice bonus, but not a pre-requisite for life), I am also reading probably the closest thing to a Real Book that I've read in awhile. At my father's recommendation, I picked up The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo at the Denver airport, when I was done with the thriller I'd read on the plane.

These are the four ways in which I know I am reading a Real Book instead of the Usual Crap I read:
  1. It took me a bit to get into it. I started it, then put it down for a couple of nights and was grumpy because I was a little bored by it. 
  2. I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen. The plot is not predictable or formulaic.
  3. It's about twice the length of the Usual Crap. 
  4. It's going to give me nightmares.
That seems to be a hallmark (and a reason why I don't read) of Real Books. They are complicated, and also disturbing. Because if there aren't obstacles, if nothing happens, then why read it? I am fascinated with it, but also filled with dread about where I think some things are going. It does (sort of, kind of, a little bit) make me curious to read some *other* real books. Good thing the sun is starting to shine, so my tender psyche can hack it.

We decided to introduce the kids to The Godfather over Spring Break. I am not a film student, but I have seen that movie a bunch of times. And seriously, the more I see it, the more I see IN it. It not only holds up, but I think it gets better as I age and notice things and understand them more deeply. Sam is the only kid who made it through the full length of the movie, which we watched on Friday then Sunday. Michael Corleone really impressed him. As Sam put it, "Michael Corleone is BAD ASS."

Just watching that movie makes me want to go buy some Francis Ford Coppola red wine, because it is delicious. I told Sam that if he thought Michael was hardcore in the first movie, well, hang onto your hat. Dereck has not seen the second movie, so it should be great to watch that one with them both. I think that as far as good movies go, part I and II are equally good movies-- I honestly couldn't say that one was better than the other. The second one might even be a smidge better, technically, but the first one is my favorite. I love the wedding, the scenes in Italy, its wide-sweeping grandeur. I don't really care for the move to Las Vegas in the second movie. But the history and the story are rich and detailed and disturbing. I don't have to be nearly as careful with movies as I do with books. Maybe I just have a more visceral relationship with the written word than I do with images and the heard word.

On top of the conversation, the Godfather viewing, and the book I'm reading, we went to see Crazy Heart yesterday. It is a quiet little movie. To some extent, all of the ways you can make a movie about an alcoholic singer/songwriter have been tapped. This movie definitely had the typical elements of the performer whose personal life falls to pieces due to alcohol (not drugs in this case, unless you count the chainsmoking). But Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal are just great to watch. Dereck said he had read somewhere that the critic thought Gyllenhaal had been miscast, but I thought she was terrific. I'm so glad her work was recognized in her Academy Award nomination. I just like to watch her move, watch her face, watch her think. Jeff Bridges is always terrific (exception: The Fisher King with Robin Williams. I hate that movie almost as much as I hate The Lion King).

So, the point of all of this is just that I've got all sorts of things rattling around my head right now, and that usually makes for a pretty happy Jen.

Sam is texting me that he doesn't feel well. He woke up this morning and asked for a hug because he had such a sore throat. He says he is having trouble focusing. He is at his father's. I replied that he should lie down for a bit. I may keep him home tomorrow just to nip this in the bud.

This morning in the car, Tommy was angry with us for making him change his shirt, so he tore into Christian: "You have officially become WEIRD!"

I said in my best, "Don't even try to talk your way out of this" voice: "Knock it off. I am so tired of you picking on him. Christian has a diagnosis of Asperger's. So, if he is doing things that you find quirky or odd or irritating, it is because he cannot help it. And it's not hurting you or affecting you anyway. Besides, I wouldn't change one thing about Christian."

I wasn't even really thinking about the fact that Christian was listening to all of this, until I saw him wiping his eyes in the rearview mirror. "Thanks, Mom," he said. "I worried that maybe you were irritated by me too."

In all honesty, I have been a tad irritated with him because every day he asks me what my favorite Disney movie is, and he is relentless about taunting me about my hatred of The Lion King. But I am not irritated by his Asperger's or his quirkiness. And I wouldn't change any of them for anything.

People always ask me how the kids are doing. I never know what to say to that. Christian is managing his diabetes well, but I have started to wonder, when he has an unexplained 'high' blood sugar, whether he is cheating a bit (which would be normal for a 13 year old kid, I think). He gets good grades, struggles with math. He likes to write, wants to be a writer, and enjoys watching The Nostalgia  Critic on the Internet. He doesn't often speak of it, but I know he struggles socially at school. The other kids don't seem to make fun of him. They ignore him, which may be worse. His speech is still a little hard to understand, so instead of taking the time to try with him, I think it makes them feel less embarrassed just to pretend he hasn't spoken. He is shorter than Tommy, and still has trouble with the motor skills required to tie his shoes. But he is funny and empathic, highly self-aware and intuitive, and sometimes he has a real attitude (namely about bedtime) that I am secretly proud of even as I encourage him to respect me. He is so mild-mannered and sweet that sometimes it's fun to see a little sass.

Tommy has matured incredibly since summer. He still doesn't like to change his shirt, but he does his homework, does his chores, and is a lot less belligerent about both than he was even a year ago. I mean, he is just pleasant about it now.  He adores our animals and actively plays with them. He likes to shoot the puppy across the hardwood floor, or make a wheelbarrow with him. Or just carry him around and put the puppy into people's faces, which I have to have chats with him about: "The dog may be floppy like a beanie baby, but he is a live animal, and he could snap and decide to bit someone when you do that." The dog really is so mellow it's ridiculous, though. All of the boys are still very affectionate, unless it's right before school and they are getting out of the van. Christian isn't bothered or embarrassed by blowing me kisses, but Sam and Tommy both pretend they have no idea who was driving that van they just hopped out of. Tommy has a natural gift with metaphor and simile that thrills my writer soul. He is also almost as tall as I am, and has started bathing voluntarily.

Sam. Such a little adult, but still asks his mother for hugs. I embrace every single one. When I think about Sam leaving for college in two-and-a-half years, my throat starts to close. Sam is the one I still have the most difficult time separating myself from. He is a mini-me. He looks strikingly like I did as a teen (poor him). He is kind, mature, scary smart, highly irritable, bossy to his brothers, a reluctant pet owner, introverted, shy, with a great sense of humor. The things that seem to concern him most in this world are the idea that someday we may develop the technology to download ourselves into computers-- that humans will some day lose their humanity. He has heavy heavy ideas weighing on his soul. He wants to change the world, even though I don't know that he realizes that that is what he is suggesting when he speaks of how we just need to cure AIDS already and move onto other things. He is furious with the government for not making that a priority. He is a true socialist in his soul, and I would not be surprised if he chooses not to live in America when he is finished with school. That both pleases me and breaks my heart. One of the things that astonishes me and compliments me most in this world is how much Sam likes me and seeks out my company. I don't know that I could ask for a greater gift as a mother. All three boys are like that-- but Sam is the oldest, and the fact that he still feels this way-- there are no words.

I don't really know how I got from point A to point Zebra. But that is how the boys are.

My father, today, is having dye injected into his bloodstream so he can be screened for cancer, to see if his melanoma has infiltrated more than just his finger. I am trying not to think about that.

Running is still going well, but I'm reaching the stage where I am getting hungrier, need more food. Blast it. Today, Carol had to get back by 4pm to leave for a kid's basketball game. I was finishing up a project and we didn't get on the road til 3:35, so we did our 2.5 mile route. And dammit if we didn't get back by 4. I am tickled pink. Carol has been tired, putting in extremely long hours at work. She commented today, "You are running faster than I am. I am having a hard time keeping up. You have now become The Dom." It's true that I am usually the driving force now behind our runs. I have noticed that when she is tired, she won't call me for a run. When she is on her game, she will call by 1pm, regardless of the day, to discuss running plans. So, if I haven't heard from her by 3pm, I know that she thinks she can wait me out, that I won't call and that day we won't run. This winter, I have surprised us both by not only calling, but by being the one pushing us to go farther, faster. I have to admit that my days are mostly centered now around these runs. It's a gift I give myself, and I am pretty selfish about it.

That's Life in Lake K-Vegas. How are you?


  1. BTW, you were beautiful as a teenager.

  2. Interesting analysis of your kids' personalities. It's fascinating how they all eventually turn into adults, isn't it?

    I can't believe my five year old will one day be a "BIG KID". It's bittersweet.

    Hope your dad is fine. Ugh...sorry you have all of that to go through right now.

  3. Sam? College?? In two and a half years??? Have I really been reading your blogs THAT long??????

    I guess so......Wow, time flies. Trite but true!

    Hope all goes well with your dad.

  4. I love your posts, but there's always so much in there I don't know where to start to respond. I will say the one thing that popped to the forefront of my mind as I read: "Christian's speech isn't clear?" Okay, I know it was a few years ago and a short time, but I don't recall having any difficulty at all understanding him. Is that just because he didn't talk much? I can't recall.