Monday, November 26, 2012

The Failings of November

"I want juuuuuuiiiiiiccccce," says (says?) Max.
"Max. Just ask for juice. Juice only has one syllable. I will get you some juice."
Juice procured. Apple. Purple sippy.
"I want orrrrannnnge juuiiicce."
New juice procured. Orange. Orange sippy."
"I want orange juiccce in purple sippppppppppy." Tear. Big ones. Very loud tears. Very loud request. Very loud picking up of Max and putting him on the bed in his room. Very big cry for daddy. Who will wonder at him why he needs orange juice in his purple sippy.
We don't often understand the ways of the Max. He is loud. We are confused. Many tears shed by many people.

In the forest, running with Zoe.
"But my leg itches."
"Do we have to stop every five feet?"
"But it REALLY itches."
"Isn't that what running is for. To ignore the itching? I thought you said you wanted to go running. You used to go running with me when you were 6. Now that you're 7, you don't even like to run."
Zoe just stares at me, like my head popped off, came back and nestled somewhere on my shoulders but she couldn't be convinced it wouldn't just pop off again.
"Fine. I'll run."
She ran all the way home. Tears? Many. Shed by whom? Shed by all.

Dear Glossy Magazine,
I have no idea how to submit to glossy magazines. I believe I need an agent. Since I am currently without an agent, I am emailing you randomly. I imagine I will have great success with this plan. This is similar to people posting privacy notices on Facebook. Facebook is not going to care about your privacy notice. You don't get the system. You don't get the system at all.

In the car with Erik after picking the kids up from their 1 hour playdate.
"Now what are we going to do?" Erik asked.
"I thought you wanted to go downtown,"
"I just don't know what we'll do there."
"We can look at stores. Preshop."
"All the stores will be closed."
"I want sushi," Zoe says from the backseat. Max says he wants juice.
"Why don't you and Zoe go downtown. We'll go home."
Zoe and I head downtown, buy my friend some socks for her birthday, a bike bell for Zoe. Erik calls, "Max wants to talk to you."
"Tell him I will bring him some juice."

Dear Magazine that has had my essays for a year,
Happy Thanksgiving!
I don't know how to respond? I'm sorry to keep you waiting.
My response:
It's fine! I'm just glad to have you for a reader! Thank you so much!

To have you for a reader? There's no reading going on anywhere around here.

Movies watched: Spiderman, Horse Whisperer, Collateral (half), Brave, Spiderman. All night long, Max talks out his dreams, "Spiderman has no mouth. He has to eat his cereal before he puts his costume. I want a costume. I'll keep it in my backpack for when the lizard comes. I don't like big lizards." Parenting fail #3!

Gravy: Mediocre. Pumpkin pie: best ever. Why? Used puree from a can instead of made my own. Bites of dinner eaten on Thanksgiving? 5. Stomach flus: 3. Runny noses: 2. Hours of sleep: 2, 6, 8, 11, 11, 7. Leftovers consumed: most of them. Desire to make dinner tonight? 0. Weekends where expectations were too high? All of them.

Ever since the hard freeze that turned the most beautiful yellow fall I'd ever seen in Flagstaff brown, I've been in a funk. Part of it is the university where do-more-with-less has become the motto and today we are all to be asked to join in the Pearson buy out of our name. One of my colleagues at work suffered a stroke; another one's husband was hit by a car while riding his bike and was killed. The drought is back in force after the wettest monsoon. Flagstaff is seeming pretty trappy. The four day weekend was spent mostly at home. Also trappy. 

Highlight of the weekend: The drive to lakes that we didn't know existed. Would like to go back to that Friday where everyone was mostly healthy, no one wanted that much juice and I didn't have to make dinner and Max had not yet known the dangers and attractions of the man dressed in a unitard with a mask with no mouth.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Not sleeping

Last night, around 11:30, Zoe started throwing up. I would like to question the universe, why cannot the children throw up in the day time? Is there something more enterprising about a stomach virus that requires the peaceful sleep of the whole household to truly activate? Does the virus prefer to be expelled upon the bed, onto the floor, into a drawer?
But there is no such thing as a one-time throwing up that begins at 11:30. So, I tried to go back to sleep but I knew I wouldn't which is the key to not going back to sleep. It was easier to get up at 12:30 and 1:30 and 3:00 then. But I was mad at myself that I couldn't make myself go to sleep. I tried to think of movies, like Contagion, but that just made me nervous of all flu. I tried to think of songs to sing but I could only think of "the secret to a long life is knowing when it's time to go." I got up to spray Lysol around the house a few times.
No matter why I have insomnia, I always start itching around 2:00 a.m. Why itch? What does skin have to do with sleep? Perhaps I want out of my body but what I really want is out of my head and there are no fingernails sharp enough for that.

Monday, November 19, 2012


If I were to go into all the details then this post would be as long as the last one and the longest blog post in the world is not the best blog post in the world.

For my birthday, Erik and his parents took me on a trip to Napa. Other people came too--El's sister Joyce and her two daughters (and my friends) Emily and Kathy, and Rick's sister Tippy and her daughter Lynzi, who area also my friends. We stayed in a great house in Napa. It was in a subdivision but you wouldn't know that from the backyard. Vines as far as you could go. We started the trip Friday night at the Robert Biale Vineyard with 6 delicious tastes of wine (we were only supposed to get 5, but we're charming. And people bought some bottles!) Then, we went to Dean & Deluca where more wine was bought. We also put dinner together from an array of cheeses and salads and roasted beets and the meats I bought: mortadella, sausicon de vic, pate champage, mousse pate, some salami similar to sopresseta, and prosciutto. We had grapes, bread, cheese at the dining room table and had one more glass of wine while lounging around the living room. Rick picked the house and it was perfect. A park across the street made it easy to run even if it was so pouring down rain Saturday morning my shoes still aren't dry today. Then we were off to Cakebread were Nancy (at 10:00 a.m.) gave us a tour and some more wine and told us how the Cakebreads bought the first 18 acres there for $2500. The barrels they house the wine in, once, cost $800-$1200 each. $2500 went further in 1969. Then, off again! This time to Inglenook/Coppola/Rubicon (it keeps changing hands). We had 4 delicious sips here and Erik bought about bottle of Inglenook 4 lot to go with the bottle of 1985 Inglenook Larry Chatacombe gave me when we worked at the Oregon Winegrowers Association together in the 1990's. It is sometimes only in retrospect that people have been so generous to you for so long. Speaking of generosity, Tippy bought the tasting at Rubicon/Inglenook/Coppola for my birthday. It is so great to be loved by Californians who love great wine.

In the parking lot, before the tasting, we ate the rest of the chaucuterie and cheese. Picnicking appears to be illegal in Napa wineries. We called it tailgating and ate from the back of the car. We were not arrested.
We had hours! (an hour) to kill before our next tasting at Opus. We went to Turnbull Cellars whose wine wasn't that great but their showing of original Ansel Adams photographs was. Then to Opus which was annoying because for $35 you got half a glass of wine but you did get to see what it looks like (and imagine what it costs) to grow grass up the slopes of your building.

Then, to dinner at the Presse! I do not get many oysters in Flagstaff. Here, I got oysters, lobster and shrimp on the cold seafood platter I shared with Erik. We also shared a Wagyu Flat Iron steak which was delicious but maybe not quite as good as the one from our local ranch where we get most of our meat--Flying M. So, it's a trade-off. Oysters for steak.

But then we were all exhausted, as if somehow drinking tiny sips of wine all day was hard work. We sat and stared at a football game for 10 minutes and then went to bed.
Sadly, the other folks had more tastings on Sunday but Erik and I thought we shouldn't make the kids or the babysitter stay together for three nights so we packed up in the morning, drove through the town of Napa, and made our 8 hour trip home.

But this is also what I'm grateful for. Ali, the world's best babysitter/housesitter/dog sitter. We got home. The house was clean. The kids had eaten and she had put them in their pajamas, teeth brushed. The dishwasher was empty. The dog was fed. The sheets Ali had slept on she had washed. Zoe's lunch was made. It was like coming home not from a vacation but to another vacation, one where the kids were peaceful and happy and bathed. It was a dream to come home to and reminded me how rare it is to truly get a full-on break and she made it so the vacation was the truest vacation. I am so grateful to her and to Tippy and Rick who put the whole trip together and Erik who bought the plane tickets and the rental car and drove through crazy Oakland traffice on Friday  and El who gave me for my birthday the outfits for me to wear on the winetasting.

It's so impossible to say how grateful you are over and over to people, filling their cups with these words of gratitude because the cup gets full and they get it and one thank you is enough but they have no idea how deep in the marrow of my bones where I mix my metaphors and make my tea of gratitude how grateful I am to everyone who seems to give me so much for no good reason.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sometimes Saturdays

Can a day that begins with Play-doh ever end up not a total waste? Max is a creature of routine which means that he wakes up, pees in his Cars TM potty, eats breakfast and either goes to school or watches Curious George first thing in the morning. Yesterday there was no George. Knight and Day, I think was the show Zoe chose. Zoe, who also loves Curious George, has seen them all and now has moved on to Tom Cruise. Same idea, better hair cut (George). Breakfast came after movie. Then Zoe and Max had some run-around the house plan that seemed good at the time until I looked at the house and saw that all the stretchy bands from Zoe's oven-holder-making kit had been strewn all over the house. I think the name of this version of run around the house was called see-if-we-can-get-mom-to-freak-out-before 8:15. By 8:15, I was just staring at them like they had been recently released from the zoo. Curious creatures. Should have watched George.

The Play-Doh was the cheap kind. It's too soft. Zoe covered a whole kitchen knife with it and said, "I don't think we should eat with this knife for awhile." It is still soaking in the sink, 24 hours later. Max wanted the yellow Play-doh so I got Zoe the orange Play-Doh which then Max wanted orange. Zoe the diplomat gave him some orange but then she took some yellow in exchange which led to actually tears and accusations that Zoe "is so mean."

Max found some old pink and green mixed up Play-doh and made cookies for everyone in the kid's kitchen which were delicious but are still in the kids' oven, probably burned now, because Zoe moved on to copying facts about endangered animals out of the World Wildlife Fun catalog. "Zoe not play with me." Maybe you shouldn't have thrown a fit about the yellow, kid.

Erik didn't sleep well because of some pinched-nerve thing. He slept in so I'd been single-teaming. By 9:15, I was ready for it to be Monday but then I realized Monday is Veterans Day and the kids will be out of school which is why had no patience/they knew I'd be acclimated to their Play-doh ways by then.

At 10:30, I called to see if the woman who were were planning to donate one of our beds to would be there. She said she would be there until about 11:30. I said we'd be there by 11:00. Now we were on speed track but kids love a race. We all do! I think if we hustle, we can get it over to her in time. Erik is thrilled to get one mattress out of the garage!. Max, who routinely would be dressed by now, was not, which to his mind meant he got to stay in his jammies all day and therefore, there would be no changing of the clothes. Fortunately, I found a t-shirt with a tractor on it that had once been his best friend Ian's so it only took 45 minutes to get him dressed. Erik took the kids to his moms and exchanged them for some straps to hold the mattress down on top of Erik's car.

On the drive over, the straps made a chain-saw like noise against the plastic-wrapped mattresses. Erik pulled over to check the straps as he does every time we have anything strapped to the car. I argued that straps can only sound like saws, not actually effect any sawing, but we drive 20 miles an hour anyway. Somehow, we made it there by 10:59 on the dot which made me feel entirely productive but then we go back to get the kids who were eating potatoes with their grandparents and then collected all the blankets and pillows in her house in an effort to make grandma's house match mine in terms of cloth-products on the floor, which made it feel entirely unproductive. We had to bribe them to come with us. Thankfully, we still have Halloween Candy.

As we drove to our house, I reminded Erik we needed dog food. And, if we were going to to the pet food store, we may as well go to Home Depot to look for some hooks to hang the copper pots I spent last year collecting from thrift stores. Erik just looked at me and said, that project is never going to happen. But I convinced him we might as well look at hooks.

Max did not like this plan. We said we were going home. If a man likes a routine, then he definitely likes to know where he's going and to in fact go there instead of on some wild-hook chase.
And then we reminded him about the tiny carts at the pet food store. He agreed to go. For the tiny cars.
At the pet food store, Zoe and Max played airplanes with their carts, running into very few dogs or humans. We got the dog food. Looked at the turtles and the ferrets and then tried to go. Max cried. "Dog food store. Dog food store."
Erik said, do you think we should try this with Max at the Home Depot.
Fortunately, Home Depot has gigantic cars (not TM) carts that he can pretend to drive. Zoe likes these too and so into the cold cart they went.

We looked for hooks in the coat hook aisle. We looked in the shelving aisle. We looked in the plumbing aisle because it's not a trip to Home Depot if you don't go to Home Depot looking down every aisle for a one-inch thingy mabobber you'd rather not describe to one of the orange-apron wearing Home Depot workers. Zoe and Max got out of the cold Car cart and ran around the store, continuing to play airplanes without the tiny carts, making do with the wide aisles full of humans and boxes to steer around.

We picked three different hooks to try out and bought $20 worth of batteries.

At home, I made lunch for me and Erik since Zoe and Max had already eaten potatoes. El and Rick said they would come and pick me and Zoe up for the Navajo rug auction at 2:00. I said I couldn't go. The house was a mess. I hadn't written my NaNoWriMo words. It was snowing out. But El said  that I should come which made me think I might as well. Erik would stay home with Max and make dinner. We could consider hooks at a later date. Zoe was in the middle of washing all the copper with Bar-Keepers-Friend because although she doesn't mind cloth-products strewn about the floor, she cannot abide green-going copper. She wanted to finish this and go to the auction. OK.

Going with Erik's mom to a Navajo Rug auction is awesome because you get to see 100's of Navajo rugs, the auctioneer knows most of the weavers and tells stories about them, and Erik's mom actually bids on rugs. There was one Chief's Blanket from 1890 that one of the Navajo women helping run the show put around her shoulders. If I had $6200 right then, I would have bought it. But I did not have $6200. Erik texted me in the middle of the auction. Could I stop and transfer money from savings? We were overdrafting in our checking account. I made Zoe sit on her hands so she wouldn't accidentally bid until she got bored/her hands fell asleep and she laid down on her grandpa's lap. I gave her my phone so she could play MindSnacks Spanish game.

One of the weavers had come to the auction. She was in nursing school. She brought her toddler-head who cried too and tried to bite his mom which made me miss Max a little, who was, thank god, asleep. She tried to sell three rugs and no one bid on any of them. The auctioneer said, this one rug will pay a semester of her tuition but the buyers of rugs aren't there for altruism. In fact, it seems to make them shy when the weaver is actually there. No one was bidding on anything over $1000, anyway. Some of these rugs go for ten times that outside of Flagstaff but Flagstaff is the first stop since it is the biggest town near the reservation. I love the idea that these women weave rugs, sheer the sheep, card the wool themselves, and sell these for enough money to pay tuition. Well, sometimes.

When we got home Erik was making a chuck roast for shredded beef. Someone had to go to the bank to transfer money. The online transfer system was down and three transactions were pending. I volunteered  He was cooking. I needed butter (we had only a tablespoon of butter in the house. I don't think I've ever let it get so low). I said I'd get 12 of the one hook he'd chosen at Home Depot.

A second trip to Home Depot is the marker of many a wasted Saturday.

It was 5:00 before I got home. I hadn't written my 500 words. I went into the Living Room to write them. Zoe and Max followed. Max wanted to watch Curious George on the old, nearly broken computer, having gone cold-turkey that morning. Zoe wanted to play the iPad like a piano. The typing wasn't going so well but eventually I made it to 500 words. I also sent out a poem a student had turned in late to the whole class. Sadly, I sent it to the wrong class. I sent it to next semester's students. My creative nonfiction course. Twice. With the word "vagina" in it. Anti progress. I gave up computing went to help Erik finish tacos. They were delicious. Usually, the day is mostly over, but not this Saturday. Erik wanted me to come with him to watch football at his parents house which Zoe and I didn't want to but Max did and Zoe and I couldn't find a movie to watch, so we all went.

We found out the game wasn't going to be on until 8:30 so instead we watched Cinderella which I really can't like because it is very full of small mice-voice. A precursor to Alvin and the Chipmunks. But Max thinks it's hilarious when the cat scoots the necklace of beads around with his butt, singing "Butt butt cat butt" as the mice try to keep it together.

We read 5 books to Max when we get home to compensate for the screen time. Zoe is almost finished with Little House on the Prairie. I would like to do some Little House on the Prairie research. For instance, on just a rumor, Pa picks up to move, leaving behind the cabin he'd just built with home-made nails and the newly planted sweet potatoes, that the soldiers were going to kick him out of Indian Territory. He should have stuck around to hear how that all turned out. Indian Territory in Missouri didn't last long. A whole year gone to waste. The chapter ends, "What's a year Caroline? We have all the time in the world." And the rest of the west, eventually. A good lesson though, for white people. Pa doesn't complain about time seemingly wasted.

After I sang songs to the kids, I had only a movie called Tower Heist to keep me out of bed so I went upstairs to finish the book "State of Wonder" which made me cry because the kid in the book suffers and because this is exactly like my novel about the malaria cure and the fertility question and the jungle. Two thoughts: 1) I do not think Ann Patchett stole my idea. 2) If she did, she did it better and faster. I think I write too much. Which might be the point of this post.

Sometimes Erik and I sleep upstairs. Sometimes I sleep upstairs and Erik sleeps downstairs. Sometimes we both sleep downstairs. Last night, I went to sleep upstairs but it was so cold I came downstairs. Except then, in the middle of the night, it was so hot. The heat kept going on every five minutes. It was supposed to be 12 degrees last night but that was a lot of furnace. I woke up every time it went on. My legs itched from the dry air. I got up to put lotion on my legs and vaseline on my lips. Finally, I turned the heat down. Usually, when I go to bed, I turn it to 62 degrees. When I woke up this morning, the temperature was set at 67, which means I'd turned it down from 69! 69 degrees. The waste of the planet on top of a mostly unproductive day.
A wasted day is not a horrible thing. It is,  I think, what you're supposed to do with Saturdays. But today, I'm finishing laundry and mopping the floors and writing the world's longest blog post as well as my 500 words before I go anywhere because even if the house is a mess later and the clothes are strewn all over the floor and the words are written into the void, at least it will feel like a Sunday because the wildness of Saturday is sometimes too much for me.