The True Adventures of a Brooklyn Mom and Her Boy

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28 February 2007, 5:32 pm

So I'm kind of losing my shit today.

Crappy meeting with the headmaster of the school I'm now teaching at 4 days a week. There's theory, Mr.A, and then there's the reality of teaching art to 5th graders. Crappy first class - partly because I was late on account of gripping about how they talk about Art Being Important but then schedule field trips during my class - and partly because I was dumb this week and asked them what they wanted to do, thus encouraging them to think that Art is only about them having fun and not a real class - dumb, dumb, dumb. Then a crappy second class, because I was just pissed.

Got home and Leon was totally riled up - at first he was happy to see me, but then deliberately dumped his cheerios all over his bedroom, probably in protest over me being at work so much. He proceeded to dump out all my art supplies, draw on the walls, refuse to nap, and tear up a library book. Now it's 5:45, I need to take a submission to the library for their next art show, and I only have managed to get Leon half dressed. And still no nap. He may fall asleep in the car, but at this point I don't even know if I want him to - I'd almost rather just have him go to bed early.

And I just heard Leon having a conversation between his trains, very much like the angry one I had with him earlier after I discovered the ripped up library book...

So I'd just like to go to bed now and start over tomorrow.


25 January 2007, 4:47 pm

Adult themes and best friends

Am I the only person who wants to know whether Bob The Builder and his pal/coworker Wendy are ever going to hook up? Am I just reading too much into the situation? And why do I find their relationship more believable than the one between Scarlett Johansen and that cute actor in Match Point? I have lost all perspective, living with a toddler.

Who yesterday said to me, "I want to go to the bookstore with my best friend." I asked, "Who's your best friend?" And he replied, "Mommy!" Kiddo, you are so damn cute.


23 January 2007, 2:17 pm

I have a potentially really big interview tomorrow, and I can barely focus on anything else, like doing the laundry - I'm out of underwear - or picking up the house since Leon's sitter is coming tonight. I feel like I'm mentally hyperventilating. Dear god, what am I going to wear???

More after the fact.


21 January 2007, 12:16 am

Leon and I had a lot of fun tonight, much to my surprise. I came home exhausted from a long and understaffed day at work, as well as biking in 30 mph winds. But instead of putting on a video for Leon, so that I could just tune out while his attention was diverted (something I've been known to do...), we lay on the couch together and read stories and talked. Then I took him in the shower, after which we made a mess with the crayons and a bunch of glass beads - he delighted in pouring the beads out on the rug and watching them bounce everywhere. Then I made a game of picking everything up (much cooler if you put ripped up paper in the dump truck, then dump it in the trash). And we ended up gluing most of the beads to the inside of a wooden box - a very cool craft project if you use red galaxy glitter glue. And drove race cars for a while. Then I made a game of picking up his room (I'm trying to teach Leon that a great way to find something you're missing is to pick-up and organize your stuff), and when we were done he was missing a triangle that goes in his floor mat number puzzle. So then we used the huge maglite flashlight (the kind you could potentially use as a weapon in the case of a zombie uprising), to look on and under everything in the room. No triangle, but that did evolve into a cool game of turning off his bedroom light and shining the flashlight on everything, and mama trying to catch the light, and looking through our fingers and his blanket... I have no idea where all this energy of mine came from, since I'm particularly sleep deprived at the moment. But I have been recently thinking about the fact that often, during the times when I'm exhausted from work and I let him watch a video, what he really needs is my attention because we've been apart all day. And if I don't focus on him, he acts out, and I can't cope because I'm too tired. But if I forgo the video and instead focus my attention on Leon, then we really connect, and things go a lot better. This seems rather obvious, but it can be hard to see when I'm in that wiped out place.

I also added one more Arthur DVD today. They now take up one and a half shelves in the Youth Services video area.


19 January 2007, 3:11 pm

Work, and Arthur the animated Aardvark

Holy guacamole. I checked in 51 new Arthur DVDs for the library today. 51, each a different title! Who even knew there was so much Arthur out there?

And one Angelina Balerina.


17 January 2007, 6:09 pm

Jobs

I hate filling out state and county job application forms. Gah. I found a local community college that's looking for adjunct art instructors. Honestly, I don't expect to even get an interview, because I never get interviews for anything but library gigs. But I'm still optimistic, because I do actually have a whole year of teaching college under my proverbial belt now. So that should make me at least worth a second glance, right? Maybe. It's so hard to sanely tread that line between believing in myself enough to write a good cover letter, and not envisioning myself doing the job so thoroughly that I'm totally devestated when I don't even get an interview.


16 January 2007, 11:20 am

Having a bad day...

As the mother of a toddler, I am currently rocking this video on youtube...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7ZPURvxPug


12 January 2007, 9:50 pm

It looks like I probably won't get enough people signed up for the classes I was hoping to teach this winter. Not enough publicity, or too late, probably both. It's another new town, and I'm still feeling my way here, which makes this very frustrating and disapointing. But maybe it's okay - maybe I don't need the added chaos? I don't know. If I don't teach the classes but do manage to finish the sculpture I just started, that would be okay. More than okay, probably, especially if I got it into a show. I might even be able to sell this one. I haven't actually finished a sculpture since I got pregnant with Leon - that is so lame - and I know I've never sold anything. So I don't know what I think should happen here. I'm constantly seeking (and praying, when I remember) for patience and clarity, with the crazy idea that eventually I'll actually figure out where I'm headed... Ha. Some things never change.


26 September 2006, 8:31 am

Heck, it's been a billion years. We've relocate to Northern Virginia, so life is still quite chaotic, but I'm starting to get my act together. Unfortunately, I am still having endless internet problems with my computer, so I'm writing this on C's laptop. But half of the letters have worn off the keyboard keys, so typing is irritatingly slow.

To do today:
Return the new wireless card I bought for my computer at Best Buy, hoping that they accept it back even though I have lost/shredded/something the receipt. If I can find the guy who sold it to me, I might have some luck. I'm also hoping they'll test the software for me, since the reason I need to return it is because the software won't load on my desk top, and the disk drive on C's is broken, so I can't test it on his. I really, really hope that the problem is not my computer.

Take Leon to story time at the public library at 10 am. I'm trying to get him to more social things, especially if we can make a routine out of them. One of my goals this week is to find a good play group - there's one at 1 pm today that we will try, and another tomorrow at 10 am (both through the town rec centers) - so that he can start to have some social stability.

Call Harold at the art center and talk about the contract his assistant sent me for teaching in the winter. Fingers crossed that that works out, if it's supposed to. And that if it's not supposed to, I figure that out fast and something else good comes along soon.

Mail my bills!!! I've been carrying them around since Friday. Dumb, but I just haven't figured out where the mail boxes are. I really miss having an actual mail box of my own, the kind where you put the flag up and the post-person picks up your outgoing mail every day. So much simpler. Of course, I don't think I've had one since I moved to college...

Write to my grandparents. They're in the mid-90's, so time's a wasting.

Leon needs me, gotta go.


31 July 2006, 1:01 pm

Chores

I really have to remember to submit my letter of resignation here at work, since it's now less than 2 weeks until my last day. The problem is, there's just so much work to do that I keep forgetting about the whole resignation thing. And my boss is on vacation.

Cutting Leon's toenails is a huge hassle. It actually took over 10 minutes this morning because he fought me so hard. He doesn't get that if he would just hold still, I could be fast and it wouldn't hurt. But he doesn't believe me, and of course I prove him right because he squirms and I grab his foot tighter, and he squirms more, and I try to calm him down, and I tell him all the logical things, and I try again and he squirms again, etc, etc, and eventually I get really frustrated and yell at him to hold still, and that kind of works, but even then it's still a struggle. The problem is, I absolutely have to cut them, because his toenails curve down and start to press into his toes, which would lead to very bad ingrown toenails if I didn't put him through this whole thing every 2 weeks. We both hate it. I can't wait until he's big enough to cut them himself. Although he'll probably refuse to do that, too.


30 July 2006, 4:44 pm

Moving, part I

I packed up my studio today, with a little help from Leon. Mostly he just ran around and made messes and broke my bike light and unrolled a lot of fishing line and needed me to put the handle back on his wagon about 100 times, but he did help a little. He kept me company, made me work fast, delighted in catching strings of grapefruit pith as I pulled them out of the ceiling. He got fishing line tangled so tightly around his legs that I had to cut him out, and then he got so dirty pretending to sweep that I stripped off all of his clothes and gave him a bath in our industrial sized sink. It was also incredibly hot and humid, so the dirt was sticking to him (and me) like glue. When I was almost done, and he was approaching total exhaustion, I put him in the car with the AC on and let him watch me pack everything up. Then, after I had swept and said goodbye to my now former studio space, we stopped almost immediately for gas, and I got us each a hot dog. We were both starving, and I felt like the frazzled hippie mom on the go, with her kid and her car full of weird stuff, inhaling gas station hot dogs as the wind picked up and a sudden storm blew in. It felt oddly early '70s, which might have been partly because I was wearing an old camisole top of my mother's.

Now the rain has stopped, it's blissfully cooler, I have had more to eat, and Leon is still asleep. And as much as I'd rather just veg, I now have to go back out to the car and drag all my stuff down into our storage space, where it will stay for the next two weeks until we really move.

I really, really hate moving.

As a side note, I'm still trying to figure out why my checking account seems to think I have about $3000 more than my own check ledger does... I've caught some, but not all of what’s not been posted, and it's quite flummoxing to still have such a discrepancy. Although it would, of course, be worse the other way around.


17 July 2006, 9:30 am

I feel completely overwhelmed, listening to the news of ramped up violence in the middle east. I don't understand why it is happening again, and I can't pick my way through all the new violence to find any sense of how to stop it again. I have to turn my radio off, but I feel guilty that I'm able to do so.


12 July 2006, 8:42 am

Summer 2006, typical week day

Alarm goes off at 6:30. Pry self from bed, try not to wake Leon. Conversely, alarm goes off and wakes Leon, who then climbs into our bed and announces, 'Get up! Get up! Milk please?' until I pry myself out of bed. C sleeps on. Make coffee, make lunches, deal with dishes. Get dressed, get Leon up if he's not already up. Give him milk, get him dressed while he attempts to do a bunch of other things like color or read books or whatever else he's obsessed with (right now it's getting me to draw boats for him).

Attempt to get us out the door by 7:30. Generally fail miserably, lucky if we're out by 8:00. I'm supposed to be at work by 8:00...
Drop Leon at day care - on a good day he goes happily, more often lately he's upset that I'm leaving him.
Grab bike out of day care garage and sprint the mile to work. Run up 3 flights of stairs, stop at the top to stretch my poor leg muscles, and try to pretend I'm not late.

8:00 am (haha)- 5 pm, check email, try to get work done. Level of sleep-deprivation is directly related to how much time I spend writing email or reading message boards... Check in with C at some point via phone or email. Tell him stories about Leon, confirm plans and logistics.

10:00 am - I think this is when C gets up. He shaves and has breakfast and listens to his shock jocks (whom I hate, cause they're really dumb), and I think he drags his horrible 40 lb bag of bar review materials the mile and a half up to campus around noon. He spends the rest of the day in his study carrel in the library.

1:30 pm - 2:30 pm, or some other hour - I'm on a flexible schedule - I take lunch, which usually means running errands. Sometimes I get to meet up with C, if I take a late lunch. On many days lately, I've had to go to the dentist...

5:00 pm, race back to day care to pick up Leon. I'm exhausted, and so is he, but we have to DO something, so we go to the park, or a coffee shop, or go for a walk and find stumps to jump on, or rocks to play with, or trucks to look at. Today we were lucky enough to see the freight train pass by. On bad days, when we're too exhausted to do anything at all, we just go home and watch a video. On other days we take dinner up to C at the library, or we go to the grocery store, or the library, or the dry cleaners, or whatever. But I have to be careful, because Leon is particularly susceptible to meltdowns at this point in the day - must always have snacks and a drink close at hand.

But on Mondays and Wednesdays I have class at 6pm, so I either jump on my bike and ride the 8 miles to the college, or race home for the car (depending on how tired I am and how much crap I have to take to class). This is a hard transition, because I have to get my brain to totally change directions in the space of about half an hour. Some days I do a better job than others - thank god I've taught the class before. And on teaching days, Leon is picked up by a babysitter, who puts him to bed before I get home (around 9:45). Which is hard on both of us, but necessary.

7:30 is when Leon should be in the bath. Note the use of the work 'should'.

8:30 is when he should be going to sleep. Again, 'should'... He's got a whole arsenal of stall-tactics. But he does go down fairly well, once I insist. Then I try to deal with the mess in the kitchen and the living room, open the mail, and prep all the bags I need to take to work the next day. Sometimes I pack a few boxes, or balance my checkbook, try to remember to pay the bills. Occasionally I write a ridiculously long email. Then I do my extreme-periodontal-disease-fighting routine, which I won't get into here, but it take about 15 minutes. Apparently I have the bone loss of a 64 year old, which is depressing.

10:30 is when I 'should' be in bed. Really working on this one...

12:30 is when C is usually home. Some times a little earlier, if he's going running. Then he usually stays up until 3 am eating, studying and attempting to unwind.

Rinse, and repeat.


30 June 2006, 9:47 am

Damn art

So even though I'm too busy to even remember to stay on top of all the practical things I have to do between now and when we move, I still have the mental space to bemoan my lack of studio time, and the resulting lack of new work and gallery showings. I will, however, get to spend a whole 2 hours at the studio this weekend - it's my month to clean.

But here's my new web site:
www.alexzealand.com

At least that's cool.


22 June 2006, 11:35 am

Summer Session

My summer class started this week - so far so good, I think. I only lost one student between Monday and Wednesday, and he was on the waitlist, and so far everyone else who was on the waitlist has stuck around. So I've got 15, I think. But teaching twice a week - right after the day job - and shifting gears so quickly from cataloging to teaching - is harder than I expected. I feel like I've been a more frenetic and less focused teacher than I'd like to be. Add the fact that I'm riding my bike to the college campus from work, and I don't get much decompression time. Hopefully both my riding - and my ability to transition mentally - will improve quickly.

But thank god I've taught this class twice before, or I'd be in a total panic. As it is, I still feel like I'm making it all up as I go, trying to improve over last semester but making all new mistakes at the same time. And the whole time that I'm teaching, in the back of my mind I'm wondering whether they think I'm brilliant or totally incompetent. I guess I'll find out when they do their anonymous evaluations.

And I've got another student this semester who simply can't see in 3-dimensions. At least this time there don't seem to be any accompanying mental disabilities - I think it's mostly a matter of never having thought about seeing this way, so she just needs practice. A LOT of practice...

I rode home in a total torrential downpour after class last night, which was actually pretty fun. Most of my ride is along a 6 mile park, with no real traffic, so I was able to just hammer away as my shoes turned into puddles. The only problem is that I have read way too many mystery novels and seen way way too many scary monster movies, and I couldn't help but have to look back over my shoulder every few minutes to make sure I wasn't being followed by some horrible daemon bicyclist.

This, I will miss.


07 June 2006, 9:40 am

It's been ages since I wrote. Currently on my plate:

Find an apartment in Alexandria, VA. When we went out to look last month, nothing was available yet for August, so I have to do it all over the phone now.

Reserve a moving pod.

Figure out when we're actually moving.

Revise the handout for my first class of the summer semester. Actually look at my and assignments from last semester, and figure out what I'm doing for the first few classes.

Change the tires on my bike and put the cleats on my new shoes, so that I can ride the 8 miles to class instead of dealing with rush hour traffic - right now I've got my winter tires on, and no shoes.

Ship all the baby gear to my brother and sister in law.

Pack up the books, photos, art and general household do-dads that won't be missed between now and August.

I know there's more, but that's enough for now...


20 April 2006, 9:54 am

You know you're living with a toddler when you find your post-it-notes in your water glass, and you're using a picture of the space shuttle that was ripped out of a pop-up book for your bookmark.


29 March 2006, 10:46 am

Short Thoughts

In order to keep my brain focused while doing work that is basically data entry (checking our electronic serial holdings), I've been listening to books on tape. My current pick is To The Last Man, Jeff Sharra's historic WWI account of 4 unrelated men in the war. It's 31 hours, 9 minutes long, and it's really well read, and so far, incredibly sad. My grandfather, my dad's father, fought in the Italian army during WWI, so I’ve always been attracted to accounts of this war.

Many G rated movies are quite sad and violent, and really inappropriate for little kids. I find myself really angry at the ratings board. The evil archbishop singing about his sinful lust for the gypsy maiden in the Hunchback of Notre Dame is definitely not little kid-material. I think we need a new rating.

As a general rule, I am drinking way too much coffee.

Yesterday Leon said to me, "I like trucks," which delighted me to no end - an entire sentence!

This morning I made the mistake of showing Leon that he had colored pen marks on the bottoms of his feet (which comes from coloring in your pajamas), and so, as I was trying to get him dressed for school, he kept taking off his socks in order to look again at the bottoms of his feet - he thought it was very funny.

The second season of the BBC television show MI-5 seems to be significantly inferior to season one - I think it's the writing - and we are sorely disappointed.



22 March 2006, 2:13 pm

World News
I love the fact that, using Google's news collection site, I can read an article about Jennifer Aniston dumping Brad Pitt's old clothes at a second-hand store - in The Hindustan Times. I didn't even know that the Hindustan Times existed before today. Or that they cared about Hollywood Celebrity Breakups...


14 March 2006, 3:47 pm

Lunch
Croissant sandwiches are extrememly messy and should not be eaten at one's desk.


10 March 2006, 10:50 am

Play with your food
One of Leon's favorite things to play with this week is broccolli. Yes, that's right - a full stalk of broccolli is a wonderful, fascinating thing these days. 'Boccli', he says, happily waving said veggie around, breaking it into smaller florettes, and flying them around with rocket ship noises. Go figure.


10 March 2006, 8:46 am

Random Sleep Deprived Thoughts

I am really, really tired this morning. I've stayed up late every night this week, just getting things (like dishes) done, or trying to spend a little bit of time with C, who is in the throes of Academic Insanity. And the nail on my right pinkie finger is blue and I have no idea why - it's just one of those days.

Leon is eating all sorts of new foods these days, which is great - last night was pasta, chicken, dried fruit, and stilton cheese with apricot. And his vocabulary is improving by leaps and bounds, including the fact that he knows his own name, and is working on the fact that Daddy and Mommy have names, too. I guess this is all normal, and not so exciting if you're used to toddler development, but I'm of course fascinated and enchanted.

For instance:
Last night at dinner I gave him water in an actual cup, without a lid, because he's getting better at not dumping it everywhere, and he really likes to drink out of actual cups. But he's used to milk in his cup, not water, so he took a sip, determined that indeed, it was not milk, and held it up to me and said "milk?" Which actually sounds a lot more like 'nilk' when he says it. So I told him that if he finished his water I would give him some milk - I had some apparently silly idea that I should try to get him to drink more water. So he contemplates the cup for a moment, and then deliberately tips the whole thing down his front. And then he looks up on me with a big grin and says, "nilk?" Knowing I'd been beaten, I poured actual milk into his cup, which he then happily - and carefully - slurped. About a minute later, he announced, "wet!"

On the other side, he's also very 2 in that he wants me to pick him up and hold him all the time. And when I cook he likes to sit right in between my feet and the cupboards, and gets upset when I move from the counter to the stove, and insists on scooting along the floor with me, clinging to my legs. I guess it really is all about the realization that he's actually different from us.

In other realms of life, they're gearing up for Easter at the Chocolate Shoppe, and I went home last night with a list of about 25 new signs to make, ASAP, for price changes and new products. And, after a lovely two week break, I'm back to teaching again tomorrow morning - which I love, don't get me wrong, but it does mean that I have to be somewhere specific and coherent by 9 am - so I don't foresee a catching-up on the sleep anytime soon.

As my coworker, Liz, is always saying, "Sigh".


06 March 2006, 9:18 am

Deadpan There have been a lot of fairly weird goings-on relating to my own world lately - The Dave Chappelle movie, filmed on our street 2 weeks after we left, in particular - but this one is the weirdest: I was trying to catalog a new comic book this morning, and I realized that the author's name seemed really familiar. Like maybe I'd gone to college with him. So I googled him, and yes indeed, he had attended Oberlin for a few years. Pretty cool, although somewhat humbling, since he's younger than me by about 3 years, and I discovered - through googling - that he's had cartoons published on the op-ed page of the NYTimes. And he's married, with a kid. And I'm still struggling to actually get to the studio, let alone win the McArthur (something I told myself several years ago I will do. someday). So I’m flipping through this issue - an illustrated chronology of his sexual history - and confirming that yes, indeed, this is the guy I remember, because I remember those parties, too (Seven Deadly Sins, anyone? Better as an idea than in execution - but I was there). And then I get to the most amazing and at the same time really embarrassing panel - the one where he goes to see an all girl punk band. And there I am, in terrifying illustrated form, shaved head and all, yelling into a microphone. Yes, I was the lead singer of a very bad all girl punk band, senior spring of college - the only all girl punk band on campus at the time. Yeesh. And I say very bad because I was very bad. I can't sing. My lyrics were awful (although the beauty of punk is - of course - that no one actually needs to hear your lyrics). The guitar player was pretty good, and the drummer, although a beginner, wasn't bad. And if you're ever going to be the lead singer of a very bad all girl punk band, college is the time and place. But really, I sucked. I think the only reason we got away with it is because I was the manager of the on-campus bar on Tuesday nights, also known as Quarter Beer Night, where you could get super drunk for $2.00 - I carried a lot of authority in the campus drinking world. So this part of my life, previously best left only to foggy memory, is now immortalized in a fairly decent comic book about identity, gender and sex. I feel a little famous, in a mostly sheepish way. This is exactly why I've never, ever wanted to be famous. But along with that, I have a little bit of amazement that this guy actually remembers having gone to our one and only gig. I guess it's because his then-crush was flirting with our super-cute guitar player - see the next panel. Deadpan #2, by David Heatley. Too damn weird.


23 February 2006, 9:30 am

Current events suck
Everthing I've heard this morning on the news is BAD and AWFUL, and ONLY GOING TO GET WORSE. But this story got to me even more than the rest, I think because it's the only one that seems as though it could actually be solved:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4735006.stm


21 February 2006, 10:37 am

Poetry from Zimbabwe

I found the loveliest poem this morning in a new journal I'm trying to catalog. I guess the poet is somewhat well known - Julius Chingono - now I must find more of his work.

20-044L
The number of my door
reads 20-044L
but it is not the number
of my house
the scrap metals
that make the door include
a motor car number plate
I regret
any inconveniences caused


20 February 2006, 10:42 am

I had the perfect day yesterday - I actually got to spend over two hours in my studio, by myself, and actually got new work done. It was amazing beyong description. Seriously. Thank god (literally) for long naps.

The night before, I'd tried to take Leon with me to the studio, but gave up after about a half an hour of him unspooling my invisible thread and trying to climb the ladder in order to look out the window. Instead, we headed off to the mall - the only indoor place open after 6 pm on a Saturday night (the temperature's down into the single digits again), where a toddler can run around until he's exhausted. We even bought him a new pair of cool red sunglasses, which he proudly displayed hooked onto the front of his shirt, while wandering from one end of the mall to the other, running up and down the ramps, checking out all the other kiddos, fascinated by the water fountains and the mannequins.


17 February 2006, 4:26 pm

Nascar cookies

My AVI brand 'homemade' oatmeal raisin cookies, a recent addition to the staff lounge's vending maching, come with a Nascar Nextel Cup Magnetic Schedule, tucked underneath the microwavable tray. But the package of chocolate chip cookies - from the same company - does not. Does AVI think that Nascar fans are more likely to eat (and microwave) oatmeal raisin cookies than chocolate chip?


17 February 2006, 10:38 am

Mud slides and perspective

I'm very sad about this morning’s huge mud slide in the Philippines. There's something about a massive natural-style disaster claiming the lives of so many ordinary people which always makes me wonder what exactly my priorities are, and whether they're what they should be. I don't know - it's often very hard to separate out my priorities from the requirements and expectations of every day life here in American society.

On a sort of related note, I had a really weird experience a few days ago. My friend V called to tell me about her awful day - she and her husband were witness to a suicide when a second year University undergrad jumped off the parking garage where they had just left their car. She said she had been in shock all day, but that the experience had also put some things she had previously been very upset about into a new perspective. Then we got into a conversation over how the University might handle this, the second student suicide - off the same parking garage - in less than two months. And then the really weird part - she had heard about the previous suicide, but didn't know who it was, while I knew the guy's name, since he was a law student. I was about to explain to V that C wondered if he'd killed himself over grades and law school pressure, when she asked me who he was. I told her, and she started yelling, then screaming, then she dropped the phone. This guy, it turns out, was someone she knew very well - an old and dear friend whom she had once dated, whom she hadn't spoken to in over a year. But she's so busy with school and her family that she doesn't read the paper, and although she'd heard about his suicide, she'd never learned who it was.

Luckily, V is a deeply spiritual person, and she has a the-glass-is-half-full perspective on this whole eerie chain of events. She feels that she was witness to the second student's death so that she could truly understand how her friend had died. I have to admit, I like that view – using the horrible stuff to make more sense of your world. And not everything has to be that dramatic – maybe just ‘love the people you love and let them know’ is enough most days.


14 February 2006, 10:38 am

Valentines for Day Care

This whole 'mom' thing came home to me in a whole new way last night when I found myself sitting on the living room floor at 11 pm, armed with paper, pen, glue and scissors, making Valentines cards for the kids and teachers in Leon's day care class. If it were up to me, there would be no exchange of valentines in day care, not until the kids are really old enough to make their own cards. But the school sent home a handout, with the names of all the kids and teachers, and I knew that we had to participate. So I took a drawing that Leon and I made last week - I had drawn a heart and Leon has scribbled all over it - and reduced it on the computer printer/copier/scanner to 3x5 size, made 20 copies, cut each one out, added red glitter glue around the edges, and signed Leon's name. And I have to say, they looked pretty good when I was done, and I felt proud of the whole thing when I dropped them off this morning.

But, and here's the thing that gets me - I made them. Mom, who isn't even sure which teacher is which half the time, who hasn't met all the kids. And, they're supposed to be from Leon, not me. But he doesn't actually care about Valentines Day! Not to mention that he couldn't have made the cards himself at this age, he couldn't address them, he couldn't even sign his own name. If I asked, he also couldn't tell me to whom he'd like to send valentines to. And that's the point - valentines are beyond his scope right now. I felt proud of them, but so what? Not that store bought Valentines would have been any better - at least I used a drawing that Leon had done with me, so he was a little involved. But what was the point? And would he even care or notice if there wasn't any exchange of Valentines today?

Probably not. But then, he's at that mysterious age where unexpected things start to connect in his head, and suddenly he gets things that totally surprise me. So this morning I figured I ought to try to explain Valentines Day to him. I told him that this is the day to tell people you love them, and so we give each other cards. And I showed him the cards I made, and told him there was one for each of his friends and for his teachers, and that he would give them out at school. And I swear, the whole time I was explaining this, he stood there in the kitchen in his pajamas, legs pushed up to his knees, bouncing on his bare feet and looking at me intently, as if he was processing it all. And when I was done he grinned and said 'Valentines'.

So, maybe there’s more good stuff going on here for Leon than I – in my adult cynicism – can imagine. I do know that he has a really good friend at day care. And if somehow her parents keep his card, and it allows her to remember him after we moved away, and reminds her of the good friend she has when she was 2, well then, that would be a really fine Valentines thing.


31 January 2006, 1:41 pm

More signs that having a child re-wired my brain:

For the past few days I have heard an ad on the radio for an A&E dramatization about Flight 93, the plane that went down in a Pennsylvania field on September 11th. And each time I hear the adds, I start to cry, which is a little weird. Yes, thinking back on September 11th does always make my insides go all tight and painful, but that was always more about The Twin Towers, and the people there - the people on Flight 93 had always taken on more of a hero-persona, due to their actually having been able to affect their own fates. I imagined that I would have also have tried to take action.

But now I think of the mothers and the children on that flight. I don't remember the specifics, but there were a few. And unlike the adults who were able to try to take back control of that plane, I imagine myself in the place of the mothers, horribly helpless, unable to protect their children, hoping only to keep their children from feeling fear. It's one of the scariest, most devestating things that I can imagine.


25 January 2006, 10:38 am

In better news, Leon has discovered the photographic joys of National Geographic. The recent Grand Canyon issue is his favorite meal time reading - he enjoys commenting on the photos of the lynx capture/tag/release program - "stuck", he says over and over, looking at the photo of the lynx caught in a trap, and "ooh!" in reaction to the remotely triggered night photo of the mama-lynx moving her kits, because that's the sound I made when I was explaining the photo to him. He also really enjoys the 2 page spread of endangered frogs towards the front, and after he's looked at the big cats for a while, he turns to me and says, "frogs?”, asking me to finds the right page for him. Then he stands the magazine up on the table and happily proclaims (in the present tense), "I read it!”


25 January 2006, 10:35 am

Listening to all the discussions today regarding whether or not Alito's possible appointment to the Supreme Court would mean the over-turn of Roe v. Wade, and just how important that is to American society or women or Democracy, is making me increasingly angry. Just the fact that abortion is a political issue at all makes me angry.


16 January 2006, 11:04 am

We are completely obsessed with the HBO series Deadwood, the first season of which we borrowed from the library this weekend. So much so that I haven't been to bed before 2 am in days, and as a result am super-dumb today at work.


10 January 2006, 12:35 pm

Leon is becoming extremely possessive of me. Not only does he not like it when his daddy gives me hugs (unless he's right there in between us), but this morning when I dropped him off at day care he alienated two of his buddies (who were excited to see him) by ignoring them and clinging to me. Eilie just walked off – she’s the same age as Leon – but Anouk, the baby, cried when he wouldn’t go talk to her. And then when Keith - a younger kiddo who has just started walking - toddled over to say hello, Leon pushed his hand away when he reached out to touch me, and made him burst into tears, too.

It all makes me feel weird - I'm glad he loves me and feels safe with me, and I know this is just a developmental stage. So there’s some of that fierce maternal love going on. But I also don't like him behaving this way – what happened to my good, cheerful kid? Still, I guess it is all normal – the ladies at day care seemed absolutely unperturbed by any of it. And that at least reduces my embarrassment…


22 December 2005, 2:17 pm

Practically every item I've tried to catalog today has the title 'Annual Report', which is making me crazy. I'm working on the African periodicals, my old work-fall-back, when I'm not learning some new and brain-meltingly convoluted procedure for dealing with weird title changes or added locations, so they're all published by obscure (and there for often un-cataloged) government agencies/organizations of African countries. So instead of whipping through these, I've spent all day digging through records trying to tell one Annual Report from another. Argh.

And 10 points extra to you if you actually have any idea what I'm whining about....


20 December 2005, 4:08 pm

You know you're dumb when you miss New York even more because of the MTA strike...

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/galleries/340-29.html?SITE=WNYC&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT


15 December 2005, 8:41 am

I know this is pathetic, but I'm feeling ridiculously pleased that I finally managed to shave my legs this morning. That's one more style/standards thing that I used to take for granted, and which now pegs me squarely as a harried parent. I can see the slippery slope of un-hipness rolling out before me, and I don't even have the energy to care - how terrifying.


14 December 2005, 8:23 am

The heat has been off in our apartment building since at least yesterday morning, and the old guy who lived in apartment #1 seems to have died sometime in the last week. The two do not actually seem to be related, but it wasn't until the coroner showed up last night and was accosted by the (22 year old) building manager who thought he was just another jerk trying to park in our too-small parking lot, and who in-turn accosted the building manager with the fact that the heat was out and that a tenant was DEAD that we realized either one, since no one really talked to the old guy in general - he was a bit of a recluse, although a seemingly pleasant one - and we've been keeping our heat down due to concerns over heat/electricity costs. A bit of a shock, especially since I'd noticed a few days ago that he had about a week's worth of newspapers on his stoop, and wondered if he was okay, and then told myself to stop being melodramatic, since I hadn't seen him in ages anyway. He'd lived in the building forever, as far as I could tell - his blinds were yellow with age and cigarette smoke - and I'd always assumed he must be a down-on-his-luck relation of the landlords. I didn't even know his name, which seems awfully cliché, but is also sadly true, since I really only spoke to him once. I never even saw him do his laundry.

On top of the relative drama of all that, Leon spent from 2:00 am to about 4:30 am trying to convince me that he should be able to sit on the couch and watch his Fire Engine DVD, and I spent the same amount of time (with varying amounts of patience) telling him no, which means that instead of being tucked into my warm bed with my warm husband and sleeping through the no-heat night, I was up and down with a fire engine obsessed toddler who, each time I pulled him into bed in the hopes that he would snuggle up and finally go to sleep, decided instead to name both his and my facial features (complete with pointing out each one, which is how I know he's learned 'neck', which is super-charming, but not so much at 4 am), and then babble happily while thrashing around, kicking and occasionally whacking me with his big head.

So I'm a bit tired today, since I got up at 6:00 am. I have to sub for 3-D design class today over at WCC, which is really exciting (especially because I get paid $44/hr to do it), but I had really hoped to be a bit more rested.

But (now say it with me people), AT LEAST WE’RE NOT DEAD. Seriously – perspective is a wonderful, humbling thing.


06 December 2005, 9:01 am

Here is the URL to the in-progress web site for my work. The layout is still being figured out, but my friend who is doing the actual code-writing stuff for me is also the mother of a toddler, and hardly has any time to herself, so we are going very slowly. Which is fine, since I'm producing even slower these days - since I'm now working one full time job and (depending on the week) 1-3 part time jobs - I haven't had much time in the studio lately. But I am working on some new grenades, so hopefully I'll be able to add them soon.

http://www.grabbybaby.com/sculptureA.html


02 December 2005, 1:42 pm

Leon's first word, as of about a month and a half ago:
uh-oh

Leon's words, as of yesterday:
mommy, daddy, ball, bus, taxi, up, down, no, yes, mine, yay!, woah!, oops, uh-oh, thank you, all done, I see you

Leon's signs (finally, thanks to day care):
more, eat, drink

The down side to new this new push for communication is that he suddenly has many more opinions ("I hate mittens" for instance) than vocabulary, so we get a lot of frustrated wailing toddler, because he can't actually tell us what he wants - it looks like the "terrible twos" may be hitting early…


02 December 2005, 1:31 pm

I find it wonderfully disturbing that the new Mannequins at Marshal Fields’ now have pre-molded high heel pointy-toed boots instead of feet. And it makes me want to rewatch that late 80’s movie, Mannequin - I loved the guy who did the window displays. And I think that's one I could safely watch with Leon (no violence, just silliness) - we're all sick, and an evening of sitting quitely on the couch drinking tea/sippy cups of milk might be just what we need.


01 December 2005, 9:45 am

My cousin Charley and his wife Janet have the most beautiful baby, I can hardly stand the fact that I heven't met her yet.

http://www.madeleineblandy.com/images/12.20.05/100-0019_IMG.JPG

That's Gamma Bonnie, our 95 year old grandmother, holding her.


30 November 2005, 10:35 am

We finally got Buster's ashes in the mail yesterday - they were supposed to arrive last Friday, so we were getting a little worried. They came inside a plastic bag, stuffed into a metal tin with his name on the top, then all of it tucked into a green gift bad, which was a little weird. There was so much of him, even cremated, that the lid of the tin had popped off in transit, and as we opened the shipping box we were a bit freaked that ashes might be spilling out into the bottom of the gift bag. Which would have been even weirder, and really upsetting. But all is okay - hoorah for ziplocks. And now Buster is resting temporarily in C's tool box, next to the gun cleaning supplies, until we can take him home to the Appalachian Mountains for Christmas.


30 November 2005, 8:47 am

I can't stand Fiona Apple. Does that make me a totaly un-cultured no-taste mid-west living, un-hipster?


02 April 2005, 11:41 pm

I need a job that actually pays me more than $7 an hour, but if it only paid $10/hour, that might not be enough of an improvement if it also had a very set schedule, which unless I make the big bucks, I can't do. As long as I can't pay for full time day care, I have to have a schedule that revolves around C's schedule. This is so frustrating.

On a completely different topic, I love Leon's hair line. It is one of the few parts of him that I know he inherited from me (also his right ear), and it is just like mine, and I love seeing it on him. It's this funny little cowlick on the right side of his forehead, where those hairs grow in the opposite direction from all of his other hairs, which basically grow away from the crown of his head. But this little patch that he gets from me, it grows back towards the top of his head, which makes that hair kind of stick up, and it is darn cute.

But I still need a job with benefits. Even if I did make white chocolate dipped pretzels with rainbow sprinkles at work today.


30 March 2005, 5:10 pm

I have an incredibly uncomfortable lump in the pit of my stomach - Leon and I visited our first day care center today. It was a really great day care center, with people who seemed to love kids and babies, and great facilities. All the Waddlers (leon's age group) were napping when we visited, which impressed the heck out of me, because one of my big concerns is that he might not nap away from his familiar home. And if we went only 2 or 3 days a week, the UM day care subsidy would cover 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 months of tuition, which would allow both C and I to put in more work hours this summer.

But, now that I've really checked it out, the idea of putting Leon into day care, even for just a few days a week, is completely overwhelming me. I know that there are lots and lots of good reasons to do it, for him and for us. But to actually contemplate doing so scares the shit out of me, in a way that I'm completely unfamiliar with. I don't even have the words to explain it yet, and I feel like it's too easy to assume the cliche separation anxiety is the reason, but it's more this fear of letting go of my responsibility for Leon - I've been entrusted with this amazing growing child, and he's doing so well, and what if day care isn't 100% good for him? What if it messes up his sleep schedule to only take one nap a day? What if he's lonely, or feels like I've abandoned him?

I think this really is one of those things that seems silly from the outside (I thought it was sort of silly until today), and is emotional beyond explanation from the inside.


29 March 2005, 1:53 pm

It is spring and Leon wants to be naked ALL THE TIME. Even though it's not really that warm out - I think he must have inherited his dad's (and my dad's) tendency to love cool weather and to want to wear short sleeves as soon as possible - unlike me, who always wears lots of layers because I can not stand to be cold.

This morning, after a diaper change, Leon was charging around the apartment, naked, giggling maniacally, falling down and getting back up and giggling some more. He has really started to walk this week, although he still can't walk and do anything else at the same time. Case in point, yesterday at the law quad: We left C in the library, filling out paperwork for his summer job, telling him we would meet him out in front of the library. I carried Leon down the stairs to the quad (he can't do stairs yet), and put him down on the path to walk. That was when he saw the 5 law students throwing a frisbee around, and became totally entranced, to the degree that I could not get him to move. He and I just stood there for about 10 minutes, me holding his hand, saying, "come on Leon, let's walk, come on", but he would not move - all of his attention was on the frisbee. He was so focused on it that he wouldn't even look at me.

So maybe there is some truth to the put-down "he can't even chew gum and walk at the same time". Or maybe Leon is just an ultimate frisbee fanatic in the making.


10 Feb 2005, 11:08 am

Good news, and my mom to the rescue.

She has decided that it's much easier for her to drive the 2.5 hours from Andover, MA to Barre, VT to pick up the sculpture, than it would be for me to jump through expensive hoops with the wiggling about-to-be toddler on hip, in order to get there myself. Thank you, Mom. In exchange, I am going to type up all the newspaper columns she wrote on local historic architecture when I was a kid, so she will be that much closer to getting them organized for actual book publishing.

In typical gushing-parent mode, I have officially decided that Leon gets handsomer by the day. He is bouncing in his door jumper as I write this, a look of happy concentration on his face, accompanied by much personal commentary. Except for the occasional ear splitting scream of excitement, he's a joy to behold.

I was briefly concerned when I realized that currently Leon seems to have no interest in actual adult communication - he doesn't point, he doesn't have any early words, he doesn't wave, nothing. He does smile at people a lot, and I certainly am good at reading all of his signs and various noises. But when I try to show him baby signs, like when he's eating and I ask him if he wants 'more' (touch index fingers together in front of chest), he just looks at me and yells "Eah, Eah!", as if to say, "just feed me, you silly woman!"

So I just feed him, and don't worry about all the developmental stuff he's not doing, because there's so much that he is doing. Two nights ago, for the first time, he sat through me reading an entire book to him - Subway. “We go down / To go uptown / Down, down down / In the subway.” He babbled excitedly at the pictures, and when I was done and put the book down, he reached for the it, and we read it again. That is a huge change from his previous desire to only chew on his books. He's also fascinated with opening and closing doors and cupboards, dropping toys in the bath tub, putting the dogs dish in the cupboards, climbing through everything (particularly chair rungs and shelves) and going outside. Every time I pull on my boots and coat, Leon gets all excited, and if we leave the front door open, he pulls himself up on the storm door and stares out the window while exclaiming happily.

But now I must feed the small monkey child, because in an hour I'm going to take off by myself, and sign a lease on my new studio - hoorah a million times, hoorah, let us welcome the chase of return to personal sanity. Hoorah.


09 Feb 2005, 11:55 pm

In Other News

I bought C a second hand recliner for valentine's day, at a local place called Treasure Mart. I went in looking for a new salvo for The Ugliest Present In The World contest, and in the process found a nice, brown, still well sprung recliner for $45. I knew immediately that it had to be ours. C likes it very much, but it's so comfortable that he keeps falling asleep in it while studying, which is what he's doing right now. But at least he's getting more sleep. (And boy, did I ever find an uuuggly present.)


In other, other news, Leon and I have been taking a parent/infant swim class at 9:30 am, on Saturday mornings, for the past two weeks. The first time we went, Leon was very excited about seeing all the people, but not so sure about getting into the huge pool, where he couldn't actually sit on the bottom the way he does in the tub at home. But the second week he was completely comfortable, and he even tried to wriggle off the deck and back into the pool when we practiced 'jumping in'. Maybe by the end of the semester he’ll learn to kick his feet when I hold him on his belly?

After class, I lift him out of the pool and squeeze out his shorts and swim diaper. (Who knew that swim diapers even existed?) Then I wrap him in a towel - we show how inexperienced we are at this whole parent/baby thing by using bath towels instead of beach towels - and carry him into the locker room. Once there I strip off his waterlogged diaper, re-wrap him in the towel, and lay him on his back with his bottle while I try to get myself stripped and re-dressed before Leon finishes the bottle - once he finishes he's all full of energy again, and wants to escape the towel and chase the bottle (which does indeed roll and spin delightfully, so I don't blame him a bit) around the locker room floor. Which is something that little babies really should not do naked, even if they are thoroughly delightful and happy while naked...

So last week, as I was hurriedly peeling wet suit off and pulling dry clothes on, I suddenly discovered that I'd forgotten my underwear. Which is unsurprisingly easy to do when you leave the house at 9 am, wearing a swim suit. I felt a little rock’n’roll - wandering around sans-undergarments - after months and months of feeling as un-hip as a new mom possibly can. Of course, Leon didn't notice that I was more rock'n'roll than usual, but that's the great thing about my son - he thinks I'm the coolest thing ever, no matter how badly I'm dressed. I'm trying to hold on to that feeling and not take it for granted, because I know that some day I will be incredibly, painfully un-hip (as opposed to just the mostly-not-quite-so-hip-anymore of today), and we will all know it.



09 February 2005, 11:38 pm

I either have to spend a bundle, lay over in Newark for 3 hours with Leon and spend a slightly smaller bundle, or build 7 shipping crates of sizes to be determined by my not-so-excellent-memory-for-exactitude-in-inches.

Gah.

I have no idea which option is the worst.

Here's the deal - the second exhibition I got into last fall, in Barre VT, is coming down next week, and the sculpture has to be picked up on either Thursday or Friday. My fantastic sister, who drove 5 hours in a sudden snowstorm to deliver the piece, has to work that day. My folks will be in Massachusetts. I have a DHL account now - I managed to get the other piece back from Philly without going there myself by building and sending them the world's largest ever (well, no, not really, but it was huge) shipping crate. But as I mentioned, this piece is way tricky to pack, and would need about 7 separate crates, and I'm really not sure about the dimensions of the piece, which of course makes building shipping crates inexact to a perilous degree.

So I could fly out there myself. In theory I could leave Leon with his dad, but if I did that C would be sure to get less than half his studying done, so that's probably not a great idea. So Leon and I could fly out there ourselves. And so I check non-stop airfare from Detroit to Albany, and how much does it cost?
$620.
Oh dear. And I think I have to rent a car, too, because I have to take Leon with me to Barre on Friday since there's no one around to watch him that day, and I can't put his car seat in my dad's old pick-up truck, cause there is no back seat. Although I'd rather take the pick-up, because then I don't have to worry about whether or not I've chosen a rental car with enough room for the baby seat and the sculpture.

Gah again. This is making my brain hurt.


2005-01-24, 10:33 p.m.

January update

I have not sold any sculpture, but I am planning to sign a six month lease on a studio starting in February. I'm not sure where the money will come from, but I'll figure it out, because if I don't I'm absolutely going to lose my mind.

In fact, I should not be writing here at all right now, I should be working on retyping my MFA thesis statement so that I can send 6 copies of it, my resume, and my official transcripts to the National Gallery of Art (in DC) before this Friday. I have made it to the second round of the application process for a PAID teaching internship there this summer. Which sort of astonishes me, primarily because it could be such a great opportunity, and I figure the competition has got to be tough and probably has its act together a hell of a lot more than I do these days.

Christmas break was hard. It was hardly a break. The drive to VT was ludicrously long, we got stuck in a horrific snow storm on Christmas Eve and thus spent the night in a hotel - which we were in fact extremely glad to have even found in the zip-o visibility of the storm. But that meant we missed all the wonderful traditional Christmas Eve and morning fun that makes going to my family for Christmas so great. Then the trip turned Leon's sleep schedule inside out, so that he wouldn't go to bed at night and stopped sleeping through the night, and of course then we weren't sleeping through the night either, which only compounded the exhaustion and inability to relax. And many people whom we hadn't seen in ages came to visit us and meet Leon himself, which in theory was wonderful - I wanted to see all these people, but I hadn't realized that would mean we never really got to just hang out and be recuperating slobs, which was what we needed. So there we were, a week and a half into our 'break', desperate to get back to our boring apartment in Ann Arbor, and just rest. Being parents changes so many things you had no idea were even up for change.

But, it was great to see the family. One of the highlights was watching Leon chase the cat, Milo, around the house, trying to put the cat in his mouth, while Milo was pretty convinced that he did not want to be drooled all over. Babies really do need to taste EVERYTHING - Leon's new thing today was to pull himself up on my pants and stand there, holding onto my leg, and then bite me. Luckily, each time he's done this my automatic reaction has been to yell, "OW! Leon, NO!", which freaks the heck out of him, so hopefully by tomorrow he will have out grown this new attempt to put the whole world in his mouth.

A not-so-good bit of the trip was when Buster decided that he should herd the horses, and got kicked in the shin for his presumption. He's fine, although probably not smarter for the experience.

So now we're home, C is back in classes, it's freezing and dark a lot, and I have not heard back from the public library about the job I applied for, a job that I thought I was totally qualified for, and would at least get a phone call about. I am fighting frustration and depression every way I can think of, trying to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing, what direction I'm supposed to be heading in, and struggling with the feeling that I have no idea what's going on, because every time I get enthusiastic about a plan and start to act on it, it seems to crumble or dead-end.

So, back to the National Gallery stuff I go. Who knows, I may actually manage to convince them that not only do I have my act together, but I'm the best candidate for the internship.... maybe... fingers crossed.




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