Thursday, November 29, 2007

Nothing Left to Say, Except . . .

Dear Blog,

It's been six days since my last confession. And I'm sorry for that.

I'm really sorry.

I'm sorry you had to wait, in my cold basement, for the warm tickles of candy thoughts that did not come. I'm sorry you've been left here, on your own, to receive all my visitors, and to have to explain to each one in turn that, no, she didn't come back today. She didn't "feel like" posting. She didn't "think" she had anything to "say." I'm sorry you had to take that on your shoulders.

And it's not that I haven't thought about it, about you. I think about you all the time.

Really, I do.

I thought about you yesterday after I made scallops for dinner, those tender little cakes of fish flesh that absorb any flavor they meet and yet permeate their own fishiness throughout your house. For hours. (And maybe for days. And I plan to let you know how that goes.) I thought you might find that irony mildly and fleetingly interesting.

I thought about you when I went to the eye doctor today and was told I had pointy eyes. I thought you might find that funny--or maybe that would just validate how you imagined me.

I thought about you when I crayoned my Christmas list for Bear and asked for a homemade blog. I thought you might like some new duds. And I thought about you when I brainstormed what I should buy my nephew and wondered if you might have some input.

And then I took it upon myself to decide that no, you wouldn't be interested in these little trivias. That no, I was too boring and didn't have enough sauciness to keep you interested. I'm not sexy enough. I'm not funny enough. I'm not interesting enough. There it is. I was afraid that I wasn't enough.

See. It wasn't you, dear, dear Blog. It was me.

And I'm so sorry for making assumptions about you and what you want or what you need.

And I'm so happy that when I clicked open this post this morning that you were there. Waiting.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Now Reading: A Letter to My Bedside Table

I'm finally cracking open a book again.

I don't think this has happened since Harry Potter. [Editor's note: I stand correct. Kiki reminded me that I read, finished, and enjoyed Red Tent. Oops.] At least, not with any real commitment. Who knows how this will go. I opened up White Teeth about a month and a half ago. And Salt about six to eight months before that. And, dear books, I haven't gotten much past your covers. But it's not your fault. You are brilliant and thoughtful and funny and I madly adore your every word.

Perhaps a bit too much.

That may be the problem. I'm so enchanted with the words you cast on the page that I can't go past those delirious first impressions. I don't want to progress, I don't want to take it to the "next level." I just want to revel and bask in your well-crafted sentences, in your diligent research.

I'm afraid of losing you: of losing not what we have, but what we might have.

And so, I've left you, with bookmarks barely an eighth of the way through, to explore the bounties of yet another book.

I received this book as a gift from a new friend. She's not reading this blog. (But, Hi! You know, just in case I'm wrong.) She visited us here in Kansas City and, after a couple (re: several) drinks, we hit it off.

She's a "real" writer. So that helped. She wrote for a Politically Incorrect and that's all credibility and awe. But once I got past that, I found out that's she's really interesting, beyond her resume. And mostly because she's drawn to all the things I'm interested in: 19th symbolist art, world religions, amateur architecture, Jung, etc.

(Odd how that happens--how the proportion of interest increases with the scale of similar affinities. We like what we know. Not so odd how people who are drawn to 19th century something something are also drawn to Jung, world religions, architecture, etc. Not really. That's pretty much a given.)

After she left us, she did this incredible thing. She sent us all books. Bear got a book on Druids. I imagine because he WON'T SHUT UP ABOUT IT. (I beg, plead for him to turn off his caps lock, but sober or drunk, the man likes to talk some druid smack.) She sent Finn the Eric Carle book, "Papa, Can You Get the Moon for Me." And she bought me Eat, Pray, Love, a memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert (re: Coyote Ugly) that chronicles her post-divorce journey through Italy, India, and Indonesia. (Rumor goes it will be a star vehicle for Julia Roberts. Unfortunately and, yes, superficially, that could ruin the whole book for me. Regardless, New Friend sent thank-you books and that rocks.)

And so that's what I've traded you for. A memoir that chronicles yet another thirtysomething's foray into things spiritual. (Of the five women I've known who've gotten divorced, and I'm counting Gilbert among them, three of them have made a spiritual journey to India. I'm not saying, but I'm saying.)

Dear books already on my bedside table, I don't know how I feel about this new relationship. I'm only on page 46. It's part insightful, introspective, and enlightening--Gilbert does know how to write. But it's also part indulgent, narcissistic, and self-involved. (And yes, this comes from someone who writes a blog. About herself. Nearly everyday.) I could easily, and predictably, stop reading this tomorrow to retreat to your open pages, you books I started in, like, June. Or I could even betray the whole lot of you and start reading The Golden Compass.

Yes, I know, I'm fickle and unreliable. Yes, I know you don't really care. Because, whether you're read or not, I've already shelled out the necessary commitment (re: hard cash) that brought you into my home.

But I, too, am on a quest of connection. And whether that's found in a literary ashram or an alternative universe, or both, who knows.

I'm just glad my tickets are cheap.

Friday, November 23, 2007

See These Glasses?

We registered for these glasses when we got married. In 1993. We loved, loved them. We were gifted maybe five of them.

And then they were discontinued. In 1994.

As of the morning of November 22, 2007, we still had all five.

On that very same Thursday afternoon, we decanted a fine rose, poured it into our glasses, and enjoyed its chilled mild flavor with our Indian-spiced turkey and panko spinach casserole.

In the early evening, we poured out the fine rose, deciding it harkened too much of white wine for our liking, and replaced it with red wine. We drank the replacement. And then another.

And then we descended to the basement, beautiful crystal filled with yet another dose of red wine. To play of the Wii.

And then Sarah, in the midst of Mario Party 8 passion, biffed Wii-mote to cherished crystal in a fit of Wii-indulgence and competition and the attempt to steal coins with the throw of a virtual dart. And she shattered said glass (but not remote or hand).

Thus ended the reign of crystal.

And thus began Sarah's despair.

Whimper. And sob. (Sarah consoled herself with yet another glass of culpable wine, but this time sipped from Target's special line of relatively disposable glasswares that were not harmed during the further adventures of Mario Party 8 or Resident Evil 4.)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

We started with this, the glory of baked eggs, chorizo, and potatoes,

which tasted a helluva a lot better than it looks here, trust me, and which explains we we didn't have this until about 3 p.m.:

And very much most of this culinary beauty was brought to our rickety dinner table by:

my exhausted, bleary-eyed Bear.

7 Things

I found this meme on this site. I wasn't so much actually tagged as wanna-be tagged. (I just want to be loved!) So I'm playing anyway.

Here are the rules:
Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs. Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. I am a self-righteous editor. And to annoying effect. Say "fewer" instead of "less" in the wrong context, use "impact" as a verb, conjoin "a" with "lot," and I will jump on your ass. E-ver-y-time, dude.

2. I say, "Dude." A lot. (I do not say "Anywho." Ever. Except for back in that last sentence. But other than that, never.)

3. My life is a musical. I narrate to song, like, a lot. (Two words!)

4. I have fundamental disability, or inability (to rephrase in my favor) to turn off the bathroom light. (Direct quote from hubbin.)

5. Too many hops make me flush.

6. I love to pick lint, shovel my driveway, dig out eye boogers, fix plumbing, and refigure malfunctioning deadlocks.

7. I like to sniff my hubbin's dirty beard. So manly.

I tag I Inkey.

Embarrassingly, I'm not comfortably or well-connected enough in the blogosphere to tag anyone else. But, Vanessa, Kelly, Angela, Amy, Heather, Ashley, Bear, Alan, Sarah--if you happen to read this (and I can find out if you have, uh, I think), I tag you as well. Ha.

Ha Ha.

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.



Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Counting Down to Thanksgiving

Yes, Halloween is the No. 1 holiday in these parts. We've already started counting down to next year's candy-filled, horror-drenched extravaganza (343 days to be precise. We even have a countdown calendar in our kitchen that helps us focus).

But Thanksgiving. That holds a special place.

It's a holiday without gifts or treats. It's not about scoping out sweet treasures. It's more about looking inward than out. (And if that doesn't smack of Jung and Joseph Campbell, baby, then I'm just not doing my job here.)

Now if you know me, and you know the seriousness with which I take adventure seeking (in that literary-not-literal sort of way), then you can fairly and verily predict how we started this holiday.

By watching Star Wars.

(And if you have to ask why, then you need to go back and read your Heroes with a Thousand Faces, because I have somewhere to go here, people, and I just don't have the time to spell out that logic and the complete OBVIOUSNESS of our choice for you. Puh-lease! And, no. I will not apologize for my flagrant and aggressive use of caps-lock. It is the holiday season after all and must get my game on if I'm to survive Black Friday. Stay with me.)

So today, on the eve of Thanksgiving, we continued our tradition by grocery shopping for Thursday's feast. Yes, we started the shopping today. (We planned the menu yesterday, cribbed from several articles in this year's Thanksgiving issue of Food and Wine. ) And yes, we did get everything we needed for our Indian-spiced turkey breast, our curry-roasted butternut squash and chickpeas, our creamed spinach, our creamed onions with thyme and sage, our pear and gruyere pie.

(I should've bulleted that list. I'm working through those issues.)

Yes, our traditions could be read as bordering unconventional, or even misguided. We don't watch Miracle on 34th Street or eat my mom's stuffing or rocked-out spicy spinach casserole that I've eaten and loved and pined over nearly every year (save maybe three) of my past 37. We aren't spending this Thanksgiving with my sisters or my cousins.

No. Instead, we watch Star Wars and Shark Boy and Lava Girl as our holiday flicks. (And they make perfect holiday sense to us--finding a family when far away from home, expressing gratitude for the simple things that we spend each day diligently taking advantage of.) We cook and eat food that has never graced a family Thanksgiving menu; that, this year, doesn't even resonate with our cultures, however far removed we are from them.

Part of that is by design. Most of it isn't.

Several years ago, when Bear and I were living in Bloomington and couldn't afford to travel to spend Thanksgiving with family, we tried to recreate my mom's Thanksgiving dinner. We laughed as carved the finished turkey and found a bag of gizzards hidden in some secret turkey compartment. We struggled and sweated (salt is good seasoning) over my mom's spinach casserole. We grappled with the sense memory of her stuffing. (She makes it by taste, not by measurements.)

I remember calling my mom every 2o minutes or so--I was far from an accomplished boiler of hot dog (which I've since learned should never be boiled), much less executor of an entire T-day menu.

We thought that recreating my mom's menu, dish by dish, teaspoon by teaspoon, would be a good way to recreate home, to vicariously share a little piece of the holiday with my family when we were living so far away.

We've wised up.

Home should be where you are, not where you want to be. Traditions should be as much personal as they are historical.

And there's nothing, not even perfectly executed cornbread stuffing, that takes the place of spending the holidays with your family (even when mom mistakes salt for sugar in her pumpkin pie.)

I miss you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What's That, You Ask?

Oh, that?

That's just the video projection screen at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. So let me tell you about last nigh. . .

I'm sorry, what? Oh, the picture, you say?

Lovely, isn't it? It's by an artist I know. You may have heard him mentioned in these here parts. We call him BEAR.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

So That Didn't Work Out So Well

So that trying to post everyday in November? Not working out so well. And that trying to lose 20 pounds before December (that I probably didn't tell you about so I would have an out)? That's not happening either. And oh, that 'I'm not teaching so I'll work on my novel this semester'? Not. A. Word. And forget the resolutions etched into a well-crafted spreadsheet last December. Haven't touched that since January 14.

Not so good with the self-promising this year. Perhaps that will be the message of my 2007 Christmas letter. Which definitely has to beat the 2006 theme, which went something like: 2006 sucks. Or maybe that was 2005. That sucked, too.

But for all the stuff I haven't managed to finish or start, there's this:

I don't work on weekends anymore.

I've been cancer-free for 1 year 6 months.

I laughed, tickled, whispered, screamed, dreamed, planned, imagined, cooked, hatched, and legoed today. And oh, wrote in this here blog thang.

And I avoided the temptation to bullet that list.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Medley of Finnisms

Out of my earshot at a party last weekend:

Childfree partygoer, to a group of singledigits: "Hey guys, anybody want a cupcake?"
Finn, speaking for whole crowd: "Can't. We haven't eaten lunch yet."

In car, on the way home from a movie:

Me: "We have to, have to clean the house today. That has to be on our agenda."
Finn: "Who's coming over?"

After I sang "You Are My Sunshine" to him:

"Mama, when are you going to get old and die?"

After a joke, wherein Finn indubitably cracks himself up, but unfortunately no one else:

Finn: "Who's laughing? Is anybody laughing? Why isn't anybody laughing?"
Bear laughs.
Finn, with sarcasm!: "Yeah, thanks for playing, papi."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I Heart My Oncologist

Thankfully, I don't know many people in my life who can say that. Not because their oncos aren't up to snuff, but because they don't have them.

(And then I write that and think about who would and why they don't, and well, then this post gets dark and depressing and I had intended to make it so very cheerful.)

My onco is probably about my age, maybe a couple of years younger. She has reddish hair. I have reddish hair. She has a four year old. I have a four year old. She has two kids. She took away my chances of having two kids. That bitch!

I went to see her today, as I do every three months. The visits are close to routine, but the act of going to an oncologist, of sitting in the lobby of the Cancer Institute with other victims and survivors of this disease, of waiting for my check up, of sometimes not getting the test results I want, well, let's just say that each and every visit to the onco is followed by three (or more) mouthfuls of glucose therapy.

Today, my onco surprised me with a bonus colpscopy! and a bonus biopsy! We had not planned those adventures together.

Last visit, after some suspicious results, she ran a couple of extra tests and that ended up staying mysterious but being "unremarkable." Usually, I can sit with that. Last time, I wasn't willing to let the mystery be. I wanted this to be over. I wanted it to be a part of my past. I wanted to forget and stop being sad about the child I lost and the children I can't have. I wanted to move on and be able to be excited for folks who are pregnant. I wanted to be okay with people who whine about their second pregnancies going slowly and tolerate those who give long, indulgent speeches about how they can wait. And I wanted to have to stop dolling out impromptu noogies to the heads of the aforementioned whiners, or wiping my boogers on their bedsheets.

I think my tantrum my have tipped her off. And hence the detour. It made me uneasy, sure when she announced the aggressive off roading from our previously set path. I thought we weren't concerned. I thought we were comfortable with "just wait and see." But that's my onco. She's patient when I terrorize her with my minutiae of worries and she's vigilant when I just want to put my hands over my ears and go PeeWee Herman.

But that's precisely why I love her. Because she listens. Because she acts.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cruelty of the Universe Revealed

4 to 5 p.m.


Eastern Time.


Friday, November 09, 2007

Okay, now it's out there and I don't feel all that much better . . .

I have a "meeting" today. From 4 to 5 p.m. And I must not be disturbed. The widget will be in his room, with a teeming bowl of pre-inspected, approved, and opened Halloween candy. I may even pull out that new Transformer I was going to save for Christmas.

You see now that I mean it, this do-not-disturb-me-at-nearly-all-costs thing. "Nearly" meaning blood. Or loss of limb. (Which I imagine to be bloody?) Or a radical jump in developmental level. Like native fluency in Japanese. And don't think I will not enforce it. I will. Because today, from 4 to 5 p.m., is the final episode of Charmed.

I've said it. It's out there. And yes, I do feel a touch of silly, accompanied by a tingle of confessional remorse. Maybe I should delete this post and just write about landmark vetoes and light rail.

(Oh, honey, it gets worse.)

Okay, so it's not THE final episode of Charmed. The show kinda very much ended in May 2006. It was late May.

(So much worse.)

And it's not even the final episdoe in syndication, because if what happens at 5 p.m. is any indication (Charmed runs 4 times a day, twice in the morning, twice in the early evening), the series starts over from the beginning and will continue on until, a few months from now, we'll get another final episode. (And even sooner than that because TNT offsets seasons. The morning episodes are a bit behind the afternoon shows, maybe a couple of seasons.)

(Oh, you thought that was it? You know not of whom you read.)

And sure, we own a DVR and I could just record the rerun of the final episode of this show that really isn't that critically engaging. (It's not like it's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, after all.) But I won't. I'll watch it "live" and I'll run to pee and heat tea during the commercials and I will aggressively shush anyone who tries to disturb Paige when she tries to orb an object across a room. And I will cry when, I hope, Leo is brought back into the arms of Piper. And I will cheer when, I hope, Phoebe finally finds love with Coop (short for Cupid. I'm serious).

And I will do all this--sugar-up my kid and shut down any meaningful dialogue with the fam and turn off my life for a full hour--and not because it means anything or holds some kind of poignant significance to/in/near my life.

But precisely because it doesn't.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Yesterday, Bear and I celebrated our date-i-versary. (Let me see, 2007 minus 1988 equals 19, good fuck . . .19!)

Nineteen years ago, we sat down in our furnished dormitory (that'd be Dobie!) in Austin and had a "talk" wherein we vowed eternal fidelity and love and open sharing of all things Bauhaus. We established ourselves as a couple that day.

Three years later, on the same day but in a different setting, with furnishings compliments of Rent-to-Own (we opted not to own), Bear plopped down next to me, interrupting my viewing of Newhart and proposed marriage. I'm thinking I accepted. I feel pretty confident about that.

And I wrote about it. I share with you a sample of my naivety circa 1992. (Notice the lede and the double spacing after periods. So young and so very just plain wrong):

Metamorphosis or Ferociously, I Kissed Him

People in long-term, marriage-bound relationships metamorphose twicefrom boyfriend/girlfriend to fiancé/fiancée to husband/wife. Barry and I had entered stage one three years ago, and three years later we were preparing for the first transformation.

Access to stage two requires careful, deliberate planning: Who'll propose? When? Where? How? I planned on Barry proposing, on November 7th, at some romantic spot, in a romantic, spontaneous fashion. Of course, the plan had two glaring defects: I planned it; Barry had to do it.

Now, my romantic ideal sanctioned creativity: "some romantic spot" and in some "romantic, spontaneous fashion." No kneeling, no restaurants, no strip-o-grams—those were my only qualifications. I imagined us in front of a murmuring fire, ogling each other, Miles Davis doing background music. Suddenly, Barry would become ever so serious, scoop me into his manly chest and say, "You've sent shivers down my spine for three years. I . . . well, this can say it better." Then, he would pull a handsome black jewel box from his cardigan and open it. "Will you . . ." "Oh, Barry. Yes. Yes. Yes." Ferociously, I would kiss him pushing him too close to the fire. The murmur would become a roar. Unable to construct happy endings to my romantic scenarios, I left the proposing to Barry, the sensible, pragmatic one. (Note: Don't give romantic control to sensible, pragmatic people.)

Thursday, November 7, 1991. Our third anniversary. I hoped Barry had concocted an elaborate proposing scheme in the interim. But reality doesn't always concede to hope.

At 2:30 p.m., I came home from a rigorously Romantic day of Heinzelman's Late Romantics class (that explains the love to destruction by fire scenario). Barry wasn't home yet. We had decided to put off the anniversary celebrations until the weekend. But of course, it was November 7th, and I was hoping.

At about 5:00 p.m., Barry calmly entered the apartment and went to his room. Let me emphasize "calmly." Cool, serene, placid, completely unemotional. One would expect more emotion from one about to change one's life. I suspected a deviation from my plan.

Three years, an anniversary, cosmic alignment and Barry was going to leave me before we even peeked at the altar. Jumping to conclusions? No. We had planned the wedding for the summer of 1993—wedding date before proposal, we're just like that—and a proposal after that day would be too late. Plus, the romantic scene was pre-set. Barry wouldn't do any extra romantic planning if he didn't have to. An image of my mother when I asked if I could move in with Barry flashed to my mind: "You know that if you move in with him he'll never ask you to marry him. He has everything he wants. Sex without commitment." A 32°C-my-mom-was-right chill rippled down my spine.

After anger comes guilt. Did I push? Was I too demanding? Maybe he simply didn't want to marry me. What is marriage anyway? Am I being too traditional insisting on some out-dated convention to tell me we have a commitment? I decided to let the Richard Bach method of problem solving be my guide. I focused on my problem, turned on the TV, and waited for the answer to vault out of Newhart.

Newhart proved especially poignant that afternoon. After seasons of dating, Michael, the narcissist, proposed to Stephanie, the blonde brat. For the rest of the show, they mapped out the wedding day. Finding the preparation process—gifts, gifts, gifts—was more intriguing than the actual wedding, they trashed the marriage idea and decided to be engaged indefinitely. As I sat enthralled watching the comedy king, Barry emerged from his room and flopped down beside me on the couch.

While Mike and Stephie reveled an post-engagement bliss, I sank into a lonely stupor. Our relationship, three years of trust, love, and fidelity, had been shoved down love's garbage disposal. Three years torn from refrigerated security, poured into the sink of futility, and chopped to coagulated, indigestible bits stuck to the drain and spoiled. The fetid smell of rotten love.

As my nose scoped love's abandoned territory, Barry turned to me with what I interpreted as a malicious smile. He put his arm around me. I threw a questioning look at him. He returned it. I noticed he was shaking his arm behind my back. This time a threw a question. "What?" I still shook his arm. "God, Barry, I'm not in the mood," I said as a turned to see what the one-man commotion was.

Gold. Round. Ring. No box, but I could definitely match that shape with the Platonic form for ring. "Don't presume," I said to myself, but I couldn't suppress a tiny smile. "What's this?"

"You know," Barry said, nodding his eyes.

"No." But I could feel the tears preparing to parachute from my eyes. Saved. "What is it?"

"Will . . . "


". . . you, uh . . ."


". . . will you . . . uh"

Please, God, don't make this some mean trick. Please.

" . . . will you . . . marry me?"

"Barry, are you serious? I mean really serious? You really want to marry me? Are you shitting me?"

"No. I'm perfectly serious. Never been so serious. Well?"

"Uh huh."

Ferociously, I kissed him.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I Have Been Waiting for This

I read Fast Company. I also read Field & Stream. And I have very specific reasons for doing so. Namely, to better equip myself with the survival skills necessary to excel in the corporate and natural worlds.

Had ya!

No, I really read these mags because they have damn (can I say "damn here"? Damn tootin'! can!) good writing.

(And sometimes they actually have something interesting to say. But do notice that I put this admission in parens. It's a side issue. A tangent. A bonus. Not, for me, at least, crucial criteria.)

You see, my people, when it comes down to it, I'm all about the style, not so much about the substance. To say, I relish the well-worded ad as much as an informed article on dark matter. Maybe even more.

But sometimes substance sneaks its way into a perfectly fine article and then I get all goofy because that's pretty much magic. To say something and to say it well.

Case in point: this here article. It has style, baby, and substance. And if you bounce anywhere off this blog today (and I'll be watching), you must bounce here. You must read this. (Please.)

I received my copy of the article and the magazine almost a month ago, and I've been waiting, searching, eager to see it online so I could share it with you. (Have I not given you enough opportunity?) I just got the e-mail notice today (because I not only subscribe to the magazine but also its online feed) and immediately stopped all shop to post it here. (Are you still reading this?) That's how much I feel you need to STOP READING THIS and GO READ THIS.

Side note, that you won't read because you've already bounced away: I've added a Now Reading section to my links bar. Check it out and see what I find worthy to peruse during my very scant reading time, you know the bits that aren't already claimed by Golden Books, Scooby Doo and the Halloween Ghost, and Frankensquare.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Finn's New Skill

Somewhere in that new pre-k room, Finn has found a friend either in a mad scientist or evil doctor or nefarious wanna-be ruler of the world. Or my son, my dear, innocent, cherub-cheeked widget is grooming his own ambitions of world domination.

(And I could be okay with that, really. Because this week he likes me.)

How do I know this? Is it because I see the wispy hairs of a toothbrush mustache that have historically evidenced a predilection for evil (or comic genius)? (A little shameless nod to my new Now Reading section.) No. That would be the chocolate milk that is permanently tattooed on his upper lip because he refuses to wash it off. Even though I ask every 12 minutes. (Or maybe because I ask every 12 minutes.)

No, the hints of a possible evil or comic future are all based on this: in the past 48 hours--and yes, I can track it to its first occurence--Finn has discovered a maniacal and mechanical laugh. My son, all bubbly giggles and crescent-smiley eyes, has a fake laugh.

But this isn't just a HA that abruptly defines the end of a joke or that awkwardly cuts through a room and makes one's self-esteem issues embarrassingly transparent. Sure, it announces his presence and his feelings on the material that has come before, but it does so much more.

Allow me to illustrate. The process goes thusly:

  1. Finn tells a joke or makes an observation--it doesn't have to be actually funny, he just must find it so.
  2. He pauses, two beats. The joke or observation must be allowed to make its rounds, to permeate the room, to breathe.
  3. He sits back, squints his eyes, to prepare for step 4.
  4. Quickly and abruptly, he juts his head forward, pops out his eyes.
  5. And "laughs": HA, HA, HA, HA, HA. With caps lock on and to this rhythm: quarter note, quarter note, eighth, eighth, quarter. It sounds a lot like a choking lawn mower. Perhaps he will add one more HA. Just to punctuate the point. That is, if he remembers before he is caught in . . .
  6. . . . The Silence.
  7. He then turns his head to look longingly out the window, much like one would if one suddenly remembered a love long lost to the vicissitudes of adolescent caprice. Or if one were listening to Coldplay.

Monday, November 05, 2007

75 Percent Off at Target, My Friend

I watched the history of the Halloween on the History Channel, and I am full aware that Halloween lasts only one day a year. Maybe, maybe, you can score an extra two bonus days if you're Catholic or Mexican. Those affiliations grant you a couple of saints' and souls' days and an extra squeeze out of the ghoulish festivities.

But November 5? Conventional methods just can't get you that far.

That's why we bestow unearthly gratitude to Target. We love Halloween. We love dress up. (We love candy, but that's beside this particular point.) And 75 percent off all Halloween accoutrements, including costumes, means Halloween doesn't have to stop with October. Gosh golly, it doesn't even have to keep to fall. We can keep the haunts up all year long--as if Four hasn't already providing plenty of those on its own.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Let's Bowling (or How to Abuse Italics)

Several years ago, in that other lifetime when I could luxuriously dawdle in a San Francisco stationery store, staring at one piece of letterhead for seeming hours without wondering where my kid had got off to because I didn't yet have a kid that could get off to, I found this cute, mistranslated stationery. It depicted, with delicate drawing, a family of baby blue bowling pins--mama, papa, and a couple of baby pins--with the invitation, "Let's bowling!" And I wondered, in that luxury of time and thought, what would one do with such a activity-specific invitation, on such cutesy paper. Without finding an answer, I promptly bought it, without weighing that purchase against the 5T pants I needed to buy or the college fund I should be contributing to or the bottle of fruit-flavored water I just dropped two bucks for (because it tastes like juice, yet isn't juice, and that small distinguishing factor will save me and my already thin hairline from the repercussions of a not-so-small-and-ineffectual sugar crash.)

To this very day, I have not written a single note, letter, tiny morsel of thought on that paper. But I think about it a lot. Especially when we go bowling, which we--Bear, Finn, me, and some very special friends--did last night.

I don't pretend to be a good bowler. Nope. Stop. Reverse. Scratch that. I do pretend to be a good bowler. In fact, I'm a great theoretical bowler and pool player. It's a ball, a trajectory, some english, and set of balls that either drop off a ledge or into a pocket. It's all physics and if put in a vacuum or among my Mii, I would rock the ball vs. ball-collective show. Rock. It. Out. Of Town. I'm saying. I am saying!

But, alas, we don't live in a vacuum, and those big balls (they are so very heavy and ponderous!) slip and slide and too often find comfort in the gutters.

But Bear rocks it out.

He has his own ball.

(And I will surround that admission with some white space so you may linger on the full implications of what it means to own your very own bowling ball.)

Bear consistently kicks my ass, which is why, when we played last night, I didn't play against him. Because theoretical Sarah tends to share strategy when she bowls, even, yes, even when she's sporting a 54 at frame 8. I still dare to coach. And some people don't show the appropriate amount of gratitude for my unsolicited wisdom.

So I played with the Supreme Overlord of Bowling (name withheld), who not only owns his own ball, but also his own shoes and vintage bowling shirt. Which he wore. To bowling.

His level of character development and just sheer competence so clearly surpasses mine that he shuts me up and down. You can't feel bad losing to someone so obviously superior. (Well, actually I can.) My other opponent: half of a Finn and half of his three-year-0ld friend. The split the other spot. Finn would bowl first. His friend cleaned it up.

Let's pause at this point to again reiterate how much I understand about bowling, a fact which may not translate into my execution, a fact which a third of my opponents clearly could not claim, as evidenced by the variety of their technique. Push the ball. Kick the ball. Nudge the ball. Butt the ball. And sometimes not even in the direction of the pins.

Let's also take this time to underscore that I did not use bumper guards, unlike some people.

Let's just understand those things as we look at last night's final board:

Supreme Overload of Bowling: 147
Sarah: 54
Finn/Friend: 62

Friday, November 02, 2007

Shopping for Schools

Yesterday, we started shopping for kindergarten.

Kindergarten! Can you believe?

The shopping is all very traumatic and emotional and exhilarating and depressing. Partly because my child will go to kindergarten. He will start the rapid climb to independence, and that's all good. I'm all behind that. But with that ascent, the cloak of coolness that Bear and I have gotten to wear for the past four years will slowly slip from our shoulders, to be replaced by the Members Only windbreaker of shame, humiliation, and endless mortification.

The other source of the emotional rollercoasterness gets pinned to the act of shopping itself. Because, apparently, we started scanning the aisles of education about five years and two months too late. It's November and kindergarten classes are already full. They were full before the application deadline. They were full before the prehuman ooze decided to escape the genetic goo and develop legs and the opposable thumbs necessary to complete those applications.

To say, we should've started this process, you know, a lot earlier. Like right after our mad kitchen sex begat the cell cluster that ultimately yielded our widget.

(And that's why you will not hear what our first choice is. Because I know you will promptly fornicate, put your house on the market, move to Kansas City, and submit your enrollment form. Just to steal our spot. Just to spite us.)

Of course, that's all us and our fears. Finn couldn't be happier or more excited about the promotion. His ready, he tells us. And it doesn't really matter where, he says comfortingly. Because kindergarten, according to Finn, is where the learning really starts to happen. And not because of the magic of reading or the lure of semiassisted living. Not because he finally gets to walk the more subtle and effective avenues of rebellion.

No. None of that.

It's because kindergarten is where you finally, finally, finally, learn to how to fly.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

My Budding Speller

"Hey, mama. Did you know that D-Y-D spells DVD?"

Priceless in that sense that I wouldn't pay money for it

Tie-dye socks: 1/10 of a pound.

Tartar left over from last night, I kid you not: 1/10 of a pound.

Finding out that all I lost after a full week of bread (liquid and solid) denial was a pair of kitschy socks and morning breath: Worthless.