Thursday, July 30, 2009

Spelling Whiz

I'm still on vacation (back soon! promise!) but had to pass the following email from my brother-in-law Steve along. He sent it to my other brothers-in-law a couple of weeks ago, but held off on telling me/Baroy/my mother "until after the window of disciplinary possibilities had closed." Smart man.
I was on the phone with N this afternoon. He was talking in the family room and had me on speaker, as usual. The following dialogue ensued:

N: Uncle, I'm going to take you off speaker now. (To TC.) Mama, I have to talk to Uncle in private for a minute outside.

(I hear TC assent and then hear the patio door open and close.)

N (In a whisper): Uncle?
ME: Yes, sweetheart.
N (Still whispering): B-I-C-H, Bitch. F-U-C-K, Fuck. S-H-I-T, Shit. D-A-M-I-T, Dammit.

(I hear hear the patio door open and close again.)

NOAH (To TC): Okay, Mama. I can put Uncle back on speaker.

I'm still weeping....
I am, too, of course. But for different reasons. (OK, I'm actually laughing my ass off. But don't tell N--or my brother-in-law--I said so.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Getting Ready

Getting ready to go to New York for a week and a half (to see my family and friends, and pick up Em and bring her back home) means working my butt off to get everything done at the office. (And failing, so far. One more day to go...and seven days' worth of work to do in it. Yay, life.)

Getting ready to go to New York for a week and a half means that all the loads of laundry need to be done at once, rather than spread out over an indeterminate, never-ending time period.

Getting ready to go to New York for a week and a half means trying to get everyone from my temple to hand me their articles for the newsletter I edit...on time. (This is a literal, physical impossibility. Jews and 'on time'? Do not mix.)

Getting ready to go to New York for a week and a half means packing for me and N, with N spending most of his days undoing whatever I manage to accomplish each evening. ("But mom! I wanted to weeearrrrrr that!")

Getting ready to go to New York for a week and a half should mean not continuing on my summertime breakneck reading pace...but it doesn't. (Out of my cold, dead hands...)

Getting ready to go to New York for a week and a half means loading my iPod with The Story of Edgar Sawtelle...all 16 CDs worth. (Which, of course, means first downloading each of those CDs into iTunes. Which takes a looooooong time.)

Getting ready to go to New York for a week and a half means negotiating visiting times with brothers-in-law and friends and relatives, all of whom want to see us, and all of whom we want to see. (Which would work out nicely, if it weren't almost physically impossible to see all the people we're trying to see, especially without a car to get around in.)

Getting ready to go to New York for a week and a half means trying to spend ten minutes with Baroy, since he's staying behind with Snug. He's not especially happy about it, though he's the one who pulled out of the family-travel plan. (Idea of spending money we don't have on another plane ticket + Idea of putting OCDog in a kennel for so many days and making him even crazier = Easy decision.) But finding ten minutes to spend together? Almost impossible right now.

Getting ready to go to New York for a week and a half means that you get a crappy-assed blog entry like this one, which is really nothing more than the long-story version of "No time to blog! See you in August!"

And so...No time to blog! See you in August!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Maybe It's Something In The Water?

Like N, my dog, Snug, is...quirky. Different. Edibly adorable, but just not your average bear. Or dog. Or whatever. You know what I mean.

His fear of thunder isn't anything especially unusual, I suppose. There are a lot of high-strung dogs out there. And while his fear of the dark might not be quite as common, I assume there are other dogs with similar concerns. But his fear of the back-left-corner of the couch and thus his refusal to walk around the back of the couch, forcing him to climb through our recyclables bin to get to the front door? His fear of the heater grate and thus his refusal to walk down the kids' hallway (which would mean walking IN FRONT OF THE SCARY GRATE) to get from one room to the other, forcing him to instead go through the kitchen, through the dining room, through the living room and THEN through the recycling bin to get from N's room to Em's? That's just weird.

He's also a creature of habit. And I mean that in the most most classic, OCD form of the word. And that was brought home to me last night in no uncertain terms.

Snug's evening tends to go something like this: He hangs out in the living room with whoever is watching TV there until I go to put N to bed, when he comes and lays down on the rug while N and I read. He then checks in on Em when it's her turn to go to sleep, returning afterward to the living room, where he lays on the couch with Baroy until Baroy comes up to bed, usually quite some time after I've retired for the night. At that point, Snug goes out the dog door to pee in the yard, does a full perimeter search of the property, comes back into the house, and goes directly to N's room to lay at the foot of his bed until morning, guarding him.

Snug takes his job VERY seriously. If anything seems amiss, he lets us know. If the door to N's room is closed, say, or the nightlight off in the bathroom? He lets us know. If one of the kids isn't where they're supposed to be? He lets us know, over and over and over, until we prove to him that we're aware of it, that it's OK.

A little obsessive, I'll admit. But I didn't realize just how deep it went.

Last night, Baroy--having had a rough time staying asleep the night before--came up to bed early. Several hours early. I was up reading (a heartwrenching and beautiful book by my friend Vicki Forman), so the light stayed on for a while, and we chatted back and forth. As Baroy was drifting off, I heard Snug crying softly, then louder and louder, by the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs leading up to our loft-ish bedroom. (The stairs are gated because there's no door on our bedroom, which is the only room upstairs, and we've made it the cats' dog-free sanctuary, since they never got used to having Snug in the house. So Snug can't come upstairs, which is fine by him. Except when things are somehow WRONG.)

"Is the door to N's room closed?" I asked Baroy. "Did you accidentally turn off the night light?"

"I don't think so," he mumbled. But when Snug didn't stop crying, I went downstairs to check. All was as it should be: Doors open that should be open, doors locked that should be locked. I showed Snug that it was OK Em wasn't in her room, just in case that was the the problem (though she's been in NY for two weeks, so he's pretty much over it), gave him some more water, and went back upstairs.

Second later, the crying resumed, louder, more insistent, somehow sadder, even.

"What could it BE?" I said to Baroy, trying to decide whether to be annoyed or concerned. "I can't figure out what is bugging him."

Baroy opened one tired eye. "I have no idea," he said. "He never does this when I'm downstairs, though."

And then it hit me. "It's only 10:00," I said. "You don't ever come up before midnight. Do you think he could just be upset that you went to bed early?"

"I can't imagine he's THAT cra..." Baroy stopped. "Yeah. Probably."

And so I took my book downstairs, turned on the lights in the living room again, and settled down on the couch. My tush had barely hit the cushions when Snug turned around once and lay down on the floor at my feet. He didn't open his eyes again until, after midnight, I finished the book and put it down, stared into space for a few minutes (because it's the kind of book that requires quiet digestion at the end...and time for the tears to dry), and went through the light-turning-off, door-lock-checking rituals another time.

As I headed up the stairs, I heard Snug head out the dog door for his appointed rounds, and as I got into bed I heard him return, his nails scratching the tile kitchen floor as he headed directly to N's room, satisfied that everyone was now in their designated place AT THE DESIGNATED TIME, thank you very much.

Frickin' nutty dog.

God, I love him.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Short-Attention-Span Post

1. I've been using club soda as a glass cleaner ever since reading up on ways to reduce my use of harsh chemicals. I picked up a liter of the stuff today, to refill the spray bottles upstairs and downstairs. I have more than half a liter left, so I poured a glass of it over some ice and am sipping it. All I keep thinking is, "I'm drinking glass cleaner. Something's wrong here."

2. It's time, we've decided, to start taking N's golf to the next level. The first step is to ask the director at the golf academy where he takes his weekly lessons what that next level is. The next step is for me to get over this feeling that I'm becoming "one of those moms" by actively trying to see how far he might be able to take this. (He's good; he's probably very good. We just can't objectively determine HOW good he is. But if the amount of interest he's garnered from the folks at the academy is any indication, it's something worth pursuing with him.) So far, I've tried to counteract my natural desire not to 'push' by reminding myself that if there's any kid out there who needs to have an area in which he legitimately excels, it's N. If getting him there takes some shoving to move him past his fears and anxieties about trying new things and competing and following rules? I'll have to learn how to shove. Or I'll make Baroy shove.

3. I started the weekend by making a list of about a dozen very specific chores I wanted to accomplish: Making a batch of iced coffee so I don't end up buying it at Starbucks all the time. Working with N to clean off the top of his dresser, which we haven't had all cleared off probably in several years. Washing the windows in his room. Making broth out of the chicken carcass from dinner a few days ago. Cleaning out the fridge. Doing laundry. Washing down the kitchen chairs. Returning library books. Trimming the lemon and tangerine trees. Clearing the dead stuff out of our front garden. Clearing off my desk. Organizing my files.

N's dresser is clear, his windows washed, his curtains in the laundry (which is about a third done). I made the iced coffee yesterday, and the chicken broth is in the oven not-quite-bubbling right now. The trees are trimmed. The library book is returned.

The fact that I completed almost half the items on my list? I am calling this weekend a Huge Success.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


  1. I really, seriously, and with absolutely no reservations can state that I could not care less about Michael Jackson. He wasn't an important part of my life, ever. He meant very little to me. I really don't care that much about the deaths of Farrah Fawcett or Billy May (for crying out loud...really?...I should care WHY?) or any of the other celebrities who in no significant way had any real impact on my life. When I hear about certain deaths, I stop for a moment and think, "Oh, that's a loss." And then I move on. With Michael Jackson? Not really sure it's even a loss. It's not that I wished him dead or anything. I just...don't care. Of course, what I think doesn't matter in any real sense. He meant nothing to me, and I meant less than that to him. I moved on long ago.
  2. Part of the reason for the above is that music has never been important in my life. I know that's alien to many people, but there it is. My life has always been about words. Not music. Not pictures, either--be they on a screen, or in a frame. (If you know me in real life, I've probably told you about how my dreams are rarely visual, how they're almost exclusively spoken/'felt' narratives, sometimes complete with 'he said's and 'she said's. I'm sure there's a neurological explanation for this, but there it is.) Thus, while there are a couple of musicians whose deaths I can see making me hesitate for a few moments--Bruce, for sure; James Taylor; Billy Joel, maybe--none are likely to bring me to tears. But when a writer I love passes? That hurts.
  3. I'm missing Em something fierce this summer. More than usual. Undoubtedly, this is because she's 'there' already...or getting 'there'...with 'there' being the place in pre-adolescence when you start to separate. She calls less frequently, and when she does, she's not excited to talk to me, not bursting with stories, not feeling like she needs me to know everything that happens to her. Normal. Good, probably. Painful as hell.
  4. I am well aware of the ways in which I need to be helping N start this own separation process, even at 8 years of age. But there are times when I actively avoid pushing him toward independence, because he's my baby, and I need a baby right now.
  5. I ought to be working. But instead, I'm confessing. Deadlines and me? Not even really on speaking terms lately.
  6. Dang, I'm hungry. Time for lunch. Then off to the bookstore, where hopefully there will be no CNN coverage to roll my eyes at.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thanks a LOT, Uncle Stevie

N and I had one of our 'date nights' last night, since Baroy had a rehearsal to go to for a couple of scenes of his a local theater is doing. I baked a lasagna for the event, since Baroy doesn't eat pasta (I know!) or cheese (I KNOW!) and I try to save such meals for evenings when he's not eating at home.

As we dug in into lasagna served on our good plates ("I'll set the table, Mommy," N said, "for a special occasion" SWOON), N swallowed wrong and began to cough. He then put his hands around his throat, and bugged out his eyes.

"N!" I barked. "Say something!"

He stared at me.

"NOW!" I said, starting to rise from chair and reach for him.

"What?" he asked, smiling, and dropping his hands. "I was just kidding around..."

Relieved, I dropped into my chair and explained to him that I'd wanted him to say something, because that would let me know that he was getting air into his lungs, and I didn't need to worry that he was really choking, like bad choking.

He considered this for a minute.

"You know Daddy and Uncle's president?" he said.


"Daddy and Uncle's president. He got shot in the throat. And then his head blew up and he was dead."

Oh, for...Eight days with Uncle Stevie--Kennedy-obsessed Uncle Stevie--and this is what my son comes home with.

"Oh, you mean President Kennedy?"

"Yeah, him. And then this guy shot the guy who shot him. And he thought he was a hero, but he wasn't. He was a bad guy."

"You know, N, Uncle Stevie shouldn't have told you about that."

"He didn't tell me. He showed me about it on the computer."

Oh. MUCH better.

"Well, he shouldn't have shown it to you either."

"Well, he did," N replied, matter-of-factly. "And it's in my head now, and I'm not going to forget it."

I bet you won't, kiddo.

Several of you asked for an update on Book Decision 2009. In short, my faith in how well out-of-sight-out-of-mind works with this kid was well justified.

In slightly longer, he got upset about the IDEA of a book purge when I mentioned it in the car, and seemed a how empty his shelves were when we got home. BUT I presented it to him as a surprise (he kept his eyes shut, etc.) AND he had no time to be sad about it, because the box of books from my stepfather had just arrived when we got home. So after viewing what had been done to his room (I moved a little furniture as well, so it wasn't just the book shelves that looked different) he opened the box and was SO excited by what was in there (The Dangerous Book for Boys! Dinosaur's Fat Cat! a biography of Tiger Woods! a couple of the Stink Moody books! The Houdini Box!!!!) that all I had to say was, "See? Now you can go put them on your book shelves because you have room!" He said he wanted to go by himself to "organize" his new books...and that was it.

I did tell him in the car that we kept pretty much all his books (which is true in the sense that we kept any book he would have a CHANCE of remembering), and that I would be happy to go find any of the books he wanted...All he would have to do is tell me which book he was missing. So far, he hasn't mentioned a single one.

Apparently, not so much on the permanent damage. I should have saved that angst for something else, I guess.