Sunday, March 29, 2009


"Lasterday" is no more.

Finn retired his neologism--meaning the day before yesterday, or really any day that came before today--some weeks ago. And I know, I know. I should have told you this early, but I've been trying to cope with this reality on my own. Not the wisest decision. It is a big burden to bear. And I also know, as I'm sure you'll remind me, that you could've lent some wisdom or perspective that would have eased the transition, that you could have mitigated my pain.

Finn has been using this all-purpose word for year now. It appeared soon after those first words, blah, apple, and dada. Lasterday was mysterious.

"Mama, do you remember when we went to that big fountain?"

And that could've meant the picnic we had the day before at the Plaza fountain. Or it could've meant the project Barry did at the fountain two years before. Or it could've meant the trip we took to Niagra Falls.

At first, I was resistant to lasterday. It wasn't precise. It didn't narrow down the temporal frame of possibilities. It just referred to some time before this particular time. And then Finn started narrowing its definition on his own. He found "yesterday," used it, but still kept lasterday to mark anytime that happened before that.

Lasterday worked for us. We started using it as a family. I took it into meetings. And like any signifier marking a previously unlabeled signified, it filled a void. It gave meaning to something that we had previously stumbled around.

And it was cute.

But in March, as we were talking about a movie we had seen lasterday, Finn corrected me.

"You mean 'the day before yesterday.'"
"Nope, it was lasterday."
"Not a word, mama."

And then, right then, I felt the crushing blow. Lasterday had been replaced by practical, conventional linguistic markers. A clunky, unelegant phrase. In that moment, we lost lasterday.

And not to overdramatize (but that's the way I work) I have to wonder what else?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Strange Powers

I think I may be emitting abnormal levels of electromagnetic resonance.

Not a scientific finding. There were no doctors' visits or lab tests. I'm just going by the empirical data, my people. And the facts are these: my mail won't send, I crashed my backup hard drive (and lost all the "letters" I'd been saving since e-mail was born because I forgot to backup my mailchives). I can't log onto the Internet on my desktop computer.

I'm killing the electronics in our house, one small thumb drive, browser, DVD burner, and hard drive at a time.

I don't know if my new superpower benefits me or the cheerleaders, but I do know that the neoluddites can rally around my newfound abilities. And I'm available for e-retaliation should your devices be getting a little uppity.

Watch out Wii. I don't want to take you out, but apparently I can't help myself.

Friday, February 06, 2009

You know you've had enough when . . .

We had some friends over to the house a few nights ago, just for beer and banter.

(Yes, drinking. In the middle of the week. Decadence.)

We discussed her love of writers, my irrational fear of poets, his trip to Sundance, Bear's project in Syracuse. All over Boulevard, killer salsa from Los Alamos, precociously delightful drawings, and some delicious snuggles from both Finn and Eddie.

Then I put Finn to bed, opened another beer, and, in what seemed a logical and perfectly appropriate move, paraded out my yearbooks (years 1986 and 1987).

I think there's a rule about this indulgent display of your past and much like you'd expect your wingwomen to vet your conquests, I fully expect Bear to jump in and provide a little sobering check and balance when I've so clearly fallen off the wagon of reasonable disclosure and into the muddy pond of oversharing.

I've expected it for the last 20 years. Never happened.

So there I am, sharing high school stories and--yes, I'm admitting this--reading my yearbook inscriptions. Out loud. And just when I'm about to launch into one of my drill team hand routines, you know, to further demonstrate the drama of a particular photograph (and still with nary a word, ear pull, cough, or stern stare from Barry), our friends tell us they need to go.

"What?!" I tend to overexclamate after a couple of drinks. "But look at this!! Doesn't he look like Bono! I had such a crush!"

Really need to go.

"What?! It's only 9:30! It's still early!!"

"Yeah, not anymore." And there, understated and after the fact, Barry's confirmation that I'd already crossed the line.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

We got a puppy.

Last week, Finn and I decided we needed to go back for another look at the dogs. After about an hour, we walked out with Edwidge, our new cairpoo puppy.

Yes, we ambushed Bear.

But it had to be done. See, Eddie--as we call her--has one of those sweet faces and a wiry, scraggly coat that needs serious loving (and brushing). I saw her the first day we visited. As I walked by her kennel, she looked at me, raised an ear and tilted her head. She implored me. She had me. So yesterday, we went back to meet her. And she convinced Bear.

Now, I can't say it's been all kongs and kibble since then. That first week was freaking cold, people. And dogs have to potty. Outside. (Or at least that was the theory.) Enough ten minute trips outside and mopping and you got enough to turn a whirlwind romance into a marriage of convenience.

Yet again, we probably should've talked this through with people in the know before we jumped in blind. But that's just the way love is.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Of Puppies and Pomodoro

We looked at puppies yesterday. Yes, on purpose.

The Dog Discussion has been in the works for a while now. Finn wants one--that's no surprise--and we've been stalling.

The prereqs have been varied--and admittedly random: Finn had to prove he could take care of a smaller animal (two Beta fish, the second committed suicide), Finn had to wait until we moved, until we weren't traveling as much, until he could show he could handle responsibility (like loading the dishwasher or making his bed--yeah, I know, but Finn didn't pick up on the non seq), until he could come up with a name that wasn't--and yes, I'm going to write this out loud--stupid.

Finn: We could call her Finn!

Me: That would be confusing . . .

Finn: How about Bouncey?!

Me: Absolutely not . . .

Finn: I know, we'll call her Sushi! Except when we make sushi for dinner, she'll think we're going to eat her! (Cue irrepressible giggles.)

Today's Tomato: Cioppino, courtesy of Rachel Ray

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Week's Worth of Tomatoes

We bought this ginormous can of tomatoes at The Costco. Read it and weep, baby: 160 ounces of San Marzano romas, peeled and bathing in tomato puree. Scrumpdiliocious.

The only problem: now that the romas are freed from their tinny prison, we have to eat them. And I figure, unless you tell me otherwise, that we have a week to do it. Two, if we dose them with citrus.

So forthwithit, we begin the Parade of Pomodori. And we begin with:

Tuscan Chicken with Beans

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Don't Hate the Player . . .

I've been keeping stuff from you. Secrets. Secrets that, had they any juice to begin with, are now dried up on the top shelf of clandestiny. You don't know about the failed diets, my trip to China, my all-nighters, my ill-conceived theories on the fifth Cyclon, and the struggles I have endured to cook, clean, and unpack those boxes that still haunt our hallway and now attic and closets . . . as little as possible.

(You can thank me--just push "Comments." And you're welcome.)

But one little glorious--and yet nettling--thing you missed over the past six months: Finn turned into a boy. And again, I blame the harbinger of my personal depression.

Kindergarten has introduced Finn to a new world of . . . ideas.

I told you once upon a time that he was reading. Well, he put that activity in the slow lane to develop new talents, like incessant talking, selective remembering, bad creative joke telling, dastardly plan hatching, worm squashing petting, sand-in-socks-and-shoes collecting, and . . . wait for it . . . flirting.

It started with a spunky little wisp-of-a-thing in his class. She's all glam-and-roll. Picture sequined Chucks in a zoot suit. Then he butted another girl (that's when you tap someone, rather vigorously, with your rear end), which we found out, after many evasions and even more tears, had little to do with her annoying him and much to do with him trying to "get her attention." Then he started playing dog hotel with yet another girl. (Have yet to tease out what that game is about. Suggestions welcome.) And a few weeks ago, he got a love note. From a first grader.

But don't think Finn is a fickle flirt whose intent is to collect girls like so many Bakugan. (Because I know that's exactly where you were going, "That Five, he's a playah!")

Finn may be experimenting with modes of social interaction, but he has always had just one crush. In fact, he will tell you--as he told me and our dental hygienist just yesterday--that he has and will always love only one girl, a postmodern princess from his previous school. (Cross a Precious Moments doll with a four-year-old Buffy and you'll get a general picture.)

So why the loyalty? What is it about this girl that prevents any other from truly entering his heart?

Well, I just asked him. His answer:

"Just because."


Friday, January 23, 2009

So . . . where have you been?

Yeah, I know it's been a long time since I posted anything here. Just shy of six months. And I honestly thought I might get away with just sneaking back in, dropping a post, and scooching out quietly .

Then Carie, that dutiful yet lovely blogger of good hair, outed me.

So here I am, 'splaining myself. I really have you to blame. You, and your contagious obsession with Facebook.

See, after I sent Finn off to school, I signed up on Facebook, aiming to find myself a community of kindred spirits and old, familiar souls who I could find solace with, who could comfort me through the trauma of surrendering my child to public education. I didn't find you so much, but in the months that followed, I did find my slayer army, my troop of rabid vampires, folks who are also defined by the Breakfast Club and White Snake, and people willing to help me populate my nauseatingly cute, virtual rain forest.

I suppose that's something--but I know, not really an excuse. And I don't so much have one of those, except to say that it takes a lot of time to build a truly killer collection of eyesores, figurines, and flair.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Stop to Smell the Spam

(and the music and the Pulitzer-prize winning article . . .)

My aunt sent this to me--one of those forwarded e-mails that I often, often, often, delete. This one, though, I stopped and listened to. I like to think that, occasionally, I'm the type of person who would.

"Only then do you see it: He is the one who is real. They are the ghosts."

Violinist in the Metro

A man entered a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a Stradivarius violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written what else are we missing?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

For Today

I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.

by Langston Hughes

Monday, January 19, 2009

Here Begins the Era of Ham

(So, for those of you who tripped into this blog looking for the son of Noah and the father of Canaan, keep surfing. The "ham" I'm talking about belongs to the unapologetically undignified and hypertheatrical Five, which, in loose Biblical interpretation and delightful analogy, could be just what you're looking for after all.)

Five has taken to impersonating . . . somebody. We don't know exactly who and we definitely fear this may be the first signs of multiple personality disorder, but almost everyday, Finn (as Five and several other characters) comes home with a new gimmick. Heavy rotation hits include what I like to call The Please and Igor's Pout.

The Please, and you mothers will recognize: raised eyebrows, closed eyes, and undeniably sweet and wide smile. Igor's Pout: eyes half closed, hunched shoulders (which actually plays quite comical on Finn's skinny frame) and jutted lip.

I'm a complete victim to The Please, he pulls that one out of his pocket and he gets all the MsMs he wants. Igor's Pout, absolutely immune, in that sense of Five doesn't get what he wants and I revert to sniveling, blanket hugger. There's something about that particular combination of gestures that's a little too turtle, a little too Gollum, and much too Benjamin Button freaky. Instead of buckling to whatever demand Igor's Pout follows, I find myself cuddling in a well-lit corner with Finn's mankie, rocking and incessantly repeating happy thoughts. (Five still loves his mankie.)

We have determined that these aren't originals. How? We asked, he fessed. Five does that. (For now.) But he don't snitch. (Five is chivalrous.) So, through a Sherlockian process of deduction (we wore hats! donned plaid! affixed monocles!), we narrowed down the list of suspects to the folks he shares kindergarten with: a motley group of co-Fives who bedazzle our impressionable impressionist with their Culkiny expressions of slappy surprise, their Knottsian looks of bugged out incredulity, their Carreyesque gestures of faux inanity.

That's not to say that our Five doesn't come up with his own performances. His stuff is decidedly ninja and, well, British. British ninja. Yeah, he's onto something. (Reared on Buffy and Yoda, that one.) But his portfolio is eclectic, a veritable pastiche of his peers. Which surprises me, really. Both in its wide sense of humor and in its ability to take on and completely embrace what his friends are dishing out.