Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Okay, that's it. Until next week, I absolve myself of feeling guilty for not blogging more frequently. There's a lot I want to write about, but the past few weeks have been kind of crazy. As I often lament, I hate it when real life interferes with blogging.

A laptop will, I think, help matters greatly. As will my finishing a large freelance project, due next week.

And, not that this has taken up a large chunk of my time (indeed, quite the opposite, sad to say), this weekend is MK's wedding. I've spared you all the minutiae of my day-to-day wrangling with such momentous decisions as: Should I get a manicure with the other members of the bridal party on Friday, or is that entirely too frivolous for someone who never wears nail polish? Should I wear my hair up or down? Should I pay to have my makeup done? If I do, will it wear off by mid-ceremony? And thus will I need to buy overpriced cosmetics from the salon in order to keep my overdone makeup suitably overdone?

Bridesmaid-y superficialities aside, I can't wait for Saturday.

Till next time, then, thanks for still checking in on my sad little blog.

Monday, April 25, 2005

I think I've stumbled upon a solution to my "how on earth am I going to find time to blog what with the fairly relentless demands of my kids and a remotely located computer" problem.

I'm thinking a laptop would be just the ticket. We already have a wireless network, so a laptop would give me a lot more flexibility.

And really, I could use it to work on, too, so at least some of the expense could be tax deductible.

How's that for smooth rationalization for a luxury item? Especially for someone who is not a big consumer of electronic products (iPod? huh?).

Anyone have a laptop model they can recommend (I'm a PC user, by the way)?

Now, back to those relentless demands....

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Too tired for the longer post that I was going to write tonight.

In the meantime:

Why am I so morbidly enthralled by real-life before-and-after cosmetic surgery shows? Not that god-awful "Extreme Makeover" -- I mean shows about people with horrific facial abnormalities who go through endless rounds of surgery.

The one I was watching tonight focused on a little boy (who might have been all of 3) with a syndrome I'd never heard of. As they were wheeling the boy out of surgery, his entire face swollen and bruised, Jeff walked into the room. He took one look at me, tears welling already, and another at the TV. Bad idea for the man who needs to close his eyes during a large portion of "ER." The force with which he turned his head away from the TV must have caused some degree of whiplash. "Why do you watch this stuff?" he grumbled. Fortunately for him, Sean needed me to sing him yet another bedtime song.

I never did find out what happened to the little boy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Springtime in the Suburbs

Right now I am sitting at my desk, feeling a warm spring breeze against my arms. From the window I see the tips of a dogwood tree and a crabapple tree in bloom. Birds are chirping, bees are buzzing . . . and systematically eating my house alive.

In other words, it's carpenter bee season.

I know that of the things that infest and munch upon one's infrastructures, carpenter bees are on the mild side. So, yes, termites would be much worse. And maybe I could tolerate the bees better if there were merely destructive; instead, they are huge, destructive insects with Attitude.

Whenever we're outside, a bodyguard bee whose sole purpose is to protect the queen first divebombs us, then hovers threateningly a few inches above us. It buzzes away eventually, only to return with enforcements. Fortunately, the bees don't seem to get along well with each other, either, and often engage in midair battles that distract them from the large, swatting creatures on ground level.

I'm all for live and let live when it comes to insects (recognizing their crucial role in the ecosystem and all that). But even though most them can't sting, I hate these bees. Jeff's even worse. He took inordinate pleasure yesterday in noting that one of the bees was dead on the pavement. And apparently they are our permanent seasonal guests -- they never go away. The exterminator has essentially thrown up his hands and said "Oh well!" We console ourselves that their activity is limited to the spring.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Being, Nothingness, and Purple Crayons

About 2 weeks ago, Sean agreed to read Harold and the Purple Crayon for the first time. (He tends to get stuck in the mud when it comes to books -- if he hasn't read it 300 times, he is extremely reluctant to even crack open the cover.) Now it's one of his favorite books -- he asks to read it several times a day.

I didn't know much about the book except that it's considered a classic. Initially, I had warm, fuzzy feelings toward it: I love the emphasis on creativity and resiliency and quick-thinking. Hooray for stepping off the straight path! Hooray for charting your own course!

But something began gnawing at me, something I'm sure I'm won't be able to articulate well. I found it most unsettling to think about this little boy lost in a universe of nothingness, creating meaning and structure out of a void. Do any of his creations really exist? It actually makes me sad to read about the boy drawing endless tall buildings in his attempt to find his home. And is the bed he draws at the end of the book really his bed, or just a temporary facsimile? What happens when he wakes up?

Forgive my amateurish existentialist ponderings. I'm sure this issue has been examined by greater minds, but I have deliberately chosen not to Google it to death (which is unlike me -- ordinarily, the Internet is the perfect dealer for my inner Information Junkie).

But I am curious -- what do you think about this book?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

So Far, So Good

Thanks, everyone, for the kind words of encouragement. I know this week won't be representative of the vast number of future stay-at-home weeks ahead of me; and actually, running the show by myself hasn't been as bad as I'd feared. I do miss Jeff, though, and not just for the co-parenting benefits!

A few amusing things happened this week. First, Sean has decided that naps are, like, so five minutes ago. Isn't it ironic (in the Alanis Morissette interpretation of the word -- that is, probably not truly ironic, but you know what I mean) that this decision has roughly coincided with my staying at home? He may not need naptime, but I certainly do. We'll have to work out some compromise wherein he spends his sister's naptime doing something a little quieter than run around shouting "I'm a freight engine!"

Second, Allison is starting to string together words into sentence. Upon noticing her reflection in the bathtub fixtures, she leans in close, smiles, points, and says "Allie! There Allie! Hi, Allie!" She also says "Allie down" or "Allie eat" or "Allie swing". I find this third-person self-address just too cute for words.

Third, and perhaps less amusing, is Sean's recent adoption of what I call the hard-sell approach to negotiation. If he wants something, he simply asks for it over and over and over again until he gets the desired response, or even if he doesn't. So, for example, he'll repeat "I want to watch the Thomas video, Mommy" about 20 times in a row (I counted once), completely undaunted by my response: "No, Sean, and please stop asking me."

Come to think of it, this is actually one of the most annoying things he has ever done. He just. won't. stop. My threshold for ignoring behavior like this is pretty high, but he's starting to wear me down.

When Sean turned 2, my sister Beth mentioned that for her kids, the threes were much more terrible than the mythic twos. I think I'm starting to agree with her.

But then again, he still gives the best hugs in the world, so I guess it all evens out.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

And We're Done

For Rachel and Marie, I humbly submit the following questions:


1. What prompted your move from the States to the Great White North?

2. If anything, what did you like best about living in the Philadelphia area?

3. Belly dancing! How did you get started?

4. What's the most surprising thing you've learned about yourself since becoming a mother?

5. What book would you recommend to your son as an adult so that he better understands you?


1. What's your fondest memory of Ocean City?

2. What type of music did you play when you were a college DJ?

3. What’s your next big home improvement project?

4. What authors would you recommend that I read?

5. How is your New Year's resolution going?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Halfway There

Since it is taking me a ridiculously long time to come up with questions, I've decided to post them as I finish them (I apologize in advance for how lame they are). So, Phantom Scribbler and Scrivener, you're up:

Madame Scribbler:

1. Your commenting pixies are very entertaining. Do you know any of them in real life?

2. What's your biggest challenge in being a stay-at-home mom?

3. A fellow copyeditor, I see (clap clap!). What's your favorite annoying-author/client anecdote?

4. Are there currently any books in your house that are making your computer jealous?

5. Would you willingly trade any aspect of your current life for any aspect of any time during your past? Why or why not?


1. In what ways has REM jumped or not jumped the shark?

2. How goes the dissertation?

3. How does the academic infighting so hilariously depicted in Straight Man compare to real life in the ivory tower?

4. How do you choose the books to cover each semester in the classes you teach?

5. Say you had to choose one thing about yourself to change. What would it be (and no, not your hair color, since you've already done that!)?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

New Beginnings

Sorry for the extended absence.

This was a tumultuous week, both practically and emotionally.

I finished everything I needed to at work, yet still feel that I am leaving everyone in a very bad lurch. A pretty reasonable reaction considering that, in fact, I am.

My last day at work was kind of surreal. I decided at the beginning of the day that I would treat it as if it were any other day. Denial, I told my friends, can be a good way of dealing with one's emotions.

My coworkers took me out to lunch, and back at the office they had cake for a larger group of people. Lots of really nice things were said, and I felt so humbled by it all. It was overwhelming in the best of senses.

The weekend left me little time for reflection, propelled as it was by my in-laws' visit and Jeff's departure for the airport.

(Did I mention that for my first week as a stay-at-home mom, Jeff will be in Barcelona? Isn't that just side-splittlingly unfunny?)

Now it's Sunday evening, the cusp of a week not dictated by the strictures of a 9-to-5 schedule. I feel . . .I don't know, kind of hollow. I'm sad about leaving work, I'm nervous about how this upcoming week will proceed. I don't regret my decision to stay home at all, but I'm not as elated as I think I should be.

Bear with me as I adjust this set. It might take a while.

Monday, April 04, 2005

A Page Right Out of Traditional Home Magazine

I've never wanted the kind of house that contains a lot of useless decorations -- a museum-grade living room, for example, or curio cabinets bursting with unicorns or thimble collections.

Yet here we are, saddled with bric a brac that I doubt will ever be considered utilitarian. When I bought it, I thought it would be valuable one day.

I was wrong.


Question Update

If I owe you some questions, please accept my apologies for the delay -- they're coming, really. Just not this week. This is my last week of work, and in addition to the rather disconcerting amount of actual work left to do, there's the task of sorting through 13 years worth of files. Questions for me: Why did I think that all this junk was worth saving? Did I really think that memos from 1992 could somehow be relevant any more?

Thanks for your patience.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Is It Getting Warm in Here, or Is It Just Me?

The world today, it worries me something fierce.

Yet somehow, I could never get my knickers in too much of a twist over genetic engineering. Sure, I found the whole Dolly spectacle rather unsettling, but Frankenfood has ranked pretty low on my Things To Freak Out About list.

Having recently finished Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake, though, I just might have to reprioritize that list.

Atwood is back in dystopic-world territory. Whereas The Handmaid's Tale focused on a nightmare future in which women had no control over their own fertility (or lives, for that matter), Oryx and Crake's scenario concerns an Earth that has survived a global-warming disaster; it's a world in which genetic engineering, corporate domination, and the desire for everlasting youth have run completely amuck.

I'm not a big science fiction fan, but this book gripped me from the first pages. In a way, the structure and pacing (not to mention subject matter) of the book seemed almost Michael Crichton-ish. And despite the overall gloomy tone, I can see that Atwood must have taken no small measure of glee in creating some of the inhabitants of this hell on earth. Some of my favorites:

-- Pigoons, a tricked-out pig developed to grow organs for harvesting
-- Rakunks, a charming hybrid of rat and skunk
-- ChickieNobs, a thoroughly alarming creature that consists just of specific chicken parts (all drum sticks, for example)
-- NooSkins BeauToxique Treatment for minor skin embellishment and The Fountain of Youth Total Plunge for a complete replacement of the customer's epidermis

I didn't find Oryx and Crake as frightening as The Handmaid's Tale, or as nuanced, but it unnerved me sufficiently that I'll be viewing future news stories of the next great genetic feat a lot more dubiously.