Wednesday, April 21, 2010


A couple weeks ago, we got a card in the mail, saying that our trash pickup day was going to be changed from Monday to Wednesday. Why- I have no idea. The ways of the trash company cannot be fathomed. Anyway, I said, okay. No biggie. Then I got another notice in the mail from them, a few days later. Thanks, yep, I heard you the first time.

THEN, I got an automated PHONE CALL from them. OKAY. I GOT IT.

So I put out my trash last Wednesday. Good grief, people. What is the big deal?

And then, a couple days ago, I got yet another automated phone call. Hello!? The change has already occurred, people. I passed the test. You can stop treating me like an imbecile.

So guess who forgot to put out the trash this morning? And guess who heard the trash truck coming and was smitten with the awful realization that the trash was not out at the curb? And guess who punched the garage door opener, dashed outside, hauled the trashcan up the driveway, at the same time yelling pleadingly at the driver who was zipping past the driveway...and got him to back up and take the trash... all within the space of about fifteen seconds. Ha. Yes. That would be me. I love to provide entertainment for the neighborhood. Oh man. I wonder if the trash man has some sort of list in the truck on which he checked off my name for further remedial calls and cards in the mail.

After all that resentment over being treated like a four year old with the endless reminders...and I go and forget.

Oh the great, momentous dramas of my life.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Silly anecdotes - with a warning label

Something I've been thinking about recently: I really do not want to be one of those parents who thinks that the universe revolves around their child, and talks to people ad nauseum about the most mundane minutia of their child's life, and expects EVERYONE to adore - or even just be mildly interested in- their offspring. I think this is a phenomena especially true with many first time parents. ( By the time the third child rolls around, it seems like most parents have mellowed out a good deal in their perspective.) I am fine with the fact that no one will ever love Aiden like Brad and I do. Okay- I know immediate family members love and may be sincerely interested in his progress, but beyond that, to the rest of the world, he's just another little kid. And that is as it should be. No one can be special to everyone. I think that's partly why the cult of celebrity is so unhealthy - it's based on unnatural specialness.

But I meander away from my point. Which is...No, I do not want to be one of those sickening people who goad you with silly anecdotes and heart-warming images into commenting on the preciousness of their tot...BUT...for those few who really WANT to hear stories about Aiden, you may continue reading. The vast majority of you are excused. This is TOTALLY optional. I am not foisting ANYTHING upon you. Void where prohibited. And really, the writing of this is largely for my own benefit, so I can remember certain scenes after time has discarded these small memories from my brain. Because it's not just a chronicle of Aiden - it's also a way for me to contemplate my own progress into motherhood. So...all that being said, here come the silly anecdotes.

We've had some gorgeous weather here in the last couple weeks. Well, gorgeous for those like me who do not suffer from pollen related allergies. Aiden and I have taken to going for walks almost every day, especially in the evenings because I think it helps him release a lot of energy and get ready for bed. So we toddle down the sidewalk to the park and back - which is probably about a half mile round trip. And we seem to have a lot of adventures along the way. Like meeting dogs the size of dust bunnies that tickle my ankles and jump up to Aiden's shoulders and scare him. It is funny that anyone could be afraid of such a tiny, harmless creature, but I guess it seems like a pretty good sized dog to him. We also met a girl who had three vibrant colored ducklings - one orange, one blue, and one green. I guess she got them for Easter; Aiden was quite charmed. Aiden greets any and all passersby, especially children, quite literally following in the footsteps of Buppa Charlie.

And then, there's the icecream truck. We've got two vans that regularly troll the neighborhood almost every day in search of children who are training in the sport of instant gratification, developing the habit of impulse buying, heedless of the economic folly in which they are engaging. These unscrupulous swindlers offer overpriced icecream products, and blare piercing, tinny Christmas tunes - and other non-Christmas music - and in spite of all these things which should prejudice me against this institution of summertime, I still thrill to the thought of buying from the icecream man. There's just something undeniably wonderful about the combination of the great outdoors, capitalism, and icecream. It overcomes all natural reason. I think it may be a holdover reaction from my childhood, where there was no icecream man because we lived in a place that just wasn't the kind of residential area that lends itself to such businesses...and so a mobile icecream service still seems like a fascinatingly novel concept to me. However, I have not indulged quite yet this season. It's April, for Pete's sake. The icecream man will be haunting our subdivision for a good five or six more months. If I give in now, Aiden will expect it every time. And so, Pandora's box remains closed for the time being.

I encountered another Pandora's box recently - at the outlet mall. Aiden and I went down to Tanger to get some summer sandals for him, and outside the shoe store there was one of those little kid rides where you put in the quarters and they jostle around, causing untold glee. It was a little fire truck, and Aiden was having a great time in it, even without the quarters. Oh foolish me - I wanted to up the ante and make it even MORE fabulous, because that's one of the great joys of parenthood- giving fun. So I stuck in the quarters...and there was great excitement...for about two minutes. I knew he probably would put up some show of resistance when it was time to go, but after the scene of wailing and martyrdom that followed, I thought it would be wise to post some sort of warning label above those little rides. Kind of like cigarette packs, except without the cancer and death part. "Use of this machine may cause short-term happiness, followed by excessive whining, general crankiness, and ruination of your shopping trip. Any thanks you may have expected for the outlay of your hard earned cash will most likely be forgotten in the flood of pleas for more money to buy more time on this machine. In short, this machine may cause you to claw your own eyeballs out."

( I have to say, he didn't really ruin the rest of the shopping trip. But he came close when he upset a small display of mini-skillets in the Harry and David store... but he made up for it by helping me choose a new pair of sunglasses later on. He dubbed them "Cute" so I bought them.)

So now you see why I'm wary of anything that has a Pandora-esque feel about it. Or maybe Pandora isn't the allusion that I want. Maybe anything that smells Trojan horsey...Anyway, I think my theoretical knowledge about parenting is giving way to experiential knowledge - and hence, I grow wiser. Hopefully.

P.S. And if you think that in the whole thing about first time parents adoring their children that I am writing about YOU, you are pretty much wrong. Oh yes, I'm fairly sure you are wrong. Do not sit on the fence of wondering whether you should be offended or not - you shouldn't be.

And P.P.S. I think I have been guilty of this very "everyone should adore my child" syndrome for a little while because I caught myself thinking, "Wow - He really IS wonderful and beautiful and special!" and then I realized that every parent thinks this about their children at one point or another. So I guess I'm sort of normal. And if you have thought this about your child, you are normal too...but only if you realize that your child's exceptionalism is probably all in your head.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Manic, Manic Month of May

I had this great idea for Thanksgiving in April. I was going to hold a big ol' dinner with all the trimmings and invite people from the highways and byways - figuratively speaking of course, really just family... There would be lamb or something sufficiently springy for the main course, instead of the autumnal turkey. And fancy green beans, and buttery crescent rolls and all manner of festive side dishes... And of course, pies. That was really my whole motivation - the pies. ( Not really, but almost.) But my great idea keeps running into snags. Sigh. Mostly just getting everyone together on the same day. 'Twas doomed from the start. Maybe I'll just end up eating a pie by myself at midnight one of these days. Or hold the grand fete for my guests on a Wednesday night. Which would be depressing and rushed. Just what every hostess wants.

You see, there is one thing that I don't like about spring - and that is this: once the pollen starts to fling itself far and wide, people suddenly get this strange urge to DO things. As if they have been in hibernation all winter. Suddenly the pace of life quickens and everyone just gets exponentially busier and starts rushing around like bees on drugs. Including me. It makes me ill. For instance, I've been trying to plan out the month of May and already it's stressing me out because May is a MONSTER month. I used to always LOVE May - it's my birth month. You have to love your birth month. And really, come on, it's Maaay; things are blooming and cooing their heads off. What more beautiful month could there be? ( I can hear Liane in my mind's ear, from the days of our youth, arguing that June, her birth month, is superior to May and quoting the poem, "What is so rare as a day in June?" Okay, if James Russell Lowell says it...then, it must be true. You win.)

But now I see May as a perfect storm of social gatherings, a dark time for one such as myself who has become less of a social butterfly over the years, and more of Button butterfly who has crawled back into the cocoon and is metamorphasizing backwards into an ugly, lowly, stumpy caterpillar. ( I have not deigned to see that movie, ( Benjamin Button, not The Hungry Caterpillar) but I do know that the premise is that Brad Pitt's character ages backwards. And while I'm spoiling movies, soylent green is people, the Titanic sinks, and Old Yeller DIES.)

Every weekend in May, and on many days in between the weekends, there is some THING looming on the calendar...weddings, graduations, concerts, parties, birthdays, holidays, christenings, showers, funerals, pet adoption anniversary just doesn't END! I think all of humanity should be put in strait-jackets ALL MONTH long and be told to SIMMER DOWN.

I think I'm going to block the whole month off my calendar. I'm going to put a giant post-it on the whole page of May, and write, "SAVE THE DATE - all these dates in this month - for my SANITY." Forget March madness - in my book, MAY is the maddest month. And really, Liane, what is so rare as a day in MAY?! That's what the poem SHOULD say! I know - it would throw the whole rhyming scheme off the rest of Mr. Lowell's poem, but really - the fifth month is all a frantic blur, you have to admit. And then you arrive, exhausted, at Memorial Day - a panting, ragged shell of yourself, barely able to take nourishment in the form of hamburgers and hotdogs at the holiday cookout... and you have to go on vacation to recover. That's why I think we're going to take our vacation in May this year - just to escape the madness. Too bad we can't take off the whole month. I think that's what we should do next year, Brad. Save up all your days off, take the month of May and fly to New Zealand or the Seychelles Islands.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Throwing Away Dead People's Gifts and Stuff

I have a small pot/kettle/saucepan ( I really don't know what the correct name is) that has some problems. Among other things, the handle is really wobbly; it's a risky thing to carry it from sink to stove when it contains any amount of water. I wonder when I should end its life. But I don't really want to end its life. It was a wedding gift from Mrs. Eileen Sandford and I feel like throwing it away would somehow be losing a link to an amazing lady who I admired and loved. And at the same time, that pot/kettle/saucepan always makes me feel a little guilty, because she fell and hurt herself as she was getting ready for our wedding, ( I wonder if I am remembering correctly that it was as she was getting something to wrap this very gift) and passed away several days later. We didn't hear about it until the day we got home from our honeymoon, which was the day of her funeral. ( This was in the long ago dark ages before Facebook.)

I have always regretted missing her funeral and, truth be told, I've always felt partially responsible for her death, in a strange way. Which is really awful because that lady was a saint. I appreciated her genuineness. She was a woman without fear, without guile, and with plenty of feist. Okay, so maybe feist isn't a word - but why not - when feisty IS a word.

So, when we arrived home from our honeymoon and found that this pot/kettle/saucepan had somehow made its way onto our kitchen table, unwrapped, because she never got a chance to wrap it, with a note inside, from her, it was a startling discovery. An eerie, but useful, gift. For a long time, it was my only small pot/kettle/saucepan and I depended on it heavily. So, even though its working days are nearly over, I am hesitant to get rid of this thing. Who knew that such a small pot/kettle/saucepan could hold such memories?

And it's the same with my bathrobe that Andrew gave me for Christmas one year...This bathrobe is distinctly ratty now, but I don't think I could ever throw it away.

I am going through Grampa's things these days, throwing things away ( don't worry- nothing valuable - I don't think anyone really cares about long johns that are forty years old), sorting through other things, making a yardsale pile, and a keep- for-posterity pile. But mostly it's throwing things out. To tell the truth, there are certain items that I have fantasized about throwing away in recent years. But when it came down to throwing away some of his old shirts the other day, it was an odd, bittersweet moment. It just sort of felt a little wrong.

I know that things are just things - they're not the same as people. But I have a strong sentimental streak in me, and I do get very attached to things, especially when the person the thing is associated with is no longer alive.

So - to throw, or not to throw - that is the dilemma.