Monday, November 28, 2005

mr. darcy

I saw two versions of Pride and Prejudice this weekend. Oh, for the love of Mr. Darcy!! (sigh, sigh, sigh) I feel like I'm in high school again. HOW did I not read this book in High School? As soon as Erin is able, she's going to know all of Jane Austen's novels.

But to serious business:
Tell me, which Mr. Darcy is the best, the truest?

Mr. Darcy number one (Colin Firth)

or Mr. Darcy number 2
(Matthew Macfadyen)

I thought no one would ever be able to play Darcy again because Colin Firth *became* Darcy, but Matthew Macfadyen has the whole blue eyes and tousled hair thing going for him. I was impressed that he can even try in my mind. He wasn't bad at all.

Now back to my 21st century, middle class, regular life.

....(adding this later)....
Here's the first vote: E came in and saw my blog. I told her the story of P&P in a couple of sentences, and she pointed straight at Colin Firth (Mr. Darcy number 1), no hesitation whatsoever.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

fifteen wonderful years

Bye bye to my first baby Callias. It was definitely time to say goodbye, and though all of our hearts are aching at my house right now, we've got lots of memories of a good, faithful, and eternally happy puppy to keep us warm.

Love you, Callias.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

one holiday down

Done. Did the big dinner party and no one went home with food poisoning.
Here is my restaurant-looking, candle-laden house for about 2 seconds before the ambiance was altered (altered, not destroyed):

And here is some of our food spread, sans the appetizers and desserts.

B asked me if I was going to give a Unitarian Universalist blessing, at which I responded "Sure - everyone recite their own personal passage of thanks - ready, set go!" LOL. I'm not sure the non-UU's (or UU's) understood. Oh well. I thought it was funny.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


It's the day before Thanksgiving, and I am IN MY ELEMENT. In any case, I'm happy. I love the fall. I love Thanksgiving. I love to plan big dinner parties - from putting together the menu, to planning the shopping, and planning out the timing of the big day. I love that my hands smell like garlic right now and that the fridge and pantry are stuffed to overflowing. (oh isn't this the ultimate spoiled american holiday, where the point is EXCESS. In most cases I would despise this, but it's Thanksgiving, and I think of family and friends and food and drink and happiness and laughter, so I make an exception in this case and just enjoy the feast).

I don't love trying to get or keep the house clean,though, and I especially don't love that Callias continues to poop and pee on our carpets every time I leave the house. Literally - I simply walk out of the door and she races to go poop on the carpet. Oh, I was in tears and on a rampage a few days ago when she did it the VERY day after I'd rented a steam carpet cleaner. It must have been quite the rant because though the haze of my rage, I realized that E and Q had immediately gone to straighten their rooms, and DH had started vacuuming cobwebs off the ceiling and doghair tumbleweeds out of the corners. As far as the house goes, I just need to Impossible? Woo. We'll see. I've so far rearranged the living room completely, to make room for the folding dinner tables, and I've banished the pooped and peed upon rug to the garage, leaving my living room looking pretty much like a gym, with a large expanse of hardwood floor -which, I shall add - is irresistable to 6 and 9 year old children who MUST (and I repeat MUST) run upon it and jump up on it and do the splits upon it and attempt handstands upon it, amen.

My plans? My Preparations? you ask? Well thank you for asking!
I made the cornbread today so it can sit out all night and dry out nicely for the stuffing. (Anyone want to place bets on how whether Callias finds a way to get to it?) I'm marinating bits of mozarella in olive oil, spices, and garlic. Yum. John has been called and given his list of last minute items that I could not find at Farm Fresh. OK - You tell me. How many *good* grocery stores do you think would be out of frozen pearl onions on the day before Thanksgiving? And (gasp) CHESTNUTS!! I am stoked to try two different dressings this year - my every-year sausage dressing, and a new recipe I want to try with roasted chestnuts and cranberries. John had to make a special trip to several grocery stores to find said chestnuts. It'd better be worth it.
The turkey continues to defrost (tick tick tick - tune in bright and early tomorrow to see if it will be ice-free by sunrise, when we will need to start smoking it)
The poinsettia has been bought and placed in the pine cone pot. The bathroom has been cleaned. Extra toys have been tossed into the craft room and office (which, by the way I must now negotiate through to get to my computer, so the fact that I am here again illustrates that I am truly truly addicted to the internet.) The wine rack is full, and the wood pile is stacked (it's going to be cold tomorrow - wee!! We get to have a fire!).

For the curious or the bored, here is Our menu (where "our" means the 4 families here that regularly get together for holidays)
...and I know this is dull to most of you, but this blog is for me too, and I want to have this kind of stuff down somewhere so I can reread it one day. It means something to *me*.

Appetizers will be
Baked Brie with brown sugar and pecans
and Marinated mozarella bits with water crackers
Carrots and Peppers with hummus
Homemade sushi (thank you Chieko)

will be:
Hickory Smoked Turkey (started in smoker at sunrise with applejuice)
Baked Ham
Fresh cranberry sauce
(not canned)
Sausage stuffing
Chestnut and cranberry stuffing (My new recipe to try this year)
Turkey gravy (from a JAR - I caved)
Creamed onions
Twice baked potatoes
Roasted Sweet potatoes (for John)
Teriyaki Green beans
Spinach/Cheese pie with philo dough

Fresh breads

Desserts will be
Cherry pie
Pumpkin dump cake
Coconut cream pie

And I must add that most of this is not going to be my responsibility. I take the turkey and dressings, the coconut cream pie and the pumpkin dump cake, the creamed onions, and the appetizers, but my wonderful friends, who make my life as rich and fun as it is, are doing the rest. Come on parades, come on cold weather, come on toasts and wine and music and sweet food and savory delicacies. You think I like this holiday? Oh yeah. I do.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

a blog worth bookmarking

I saw Barack Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention on T.V. I remember it clearly. We were in a hotel room (we were in Baltimore to see the Red Sox play the Orioles at Camden Yards) and fell asleep with the TV turned on to the convention. I woke up just as Barack Obama was beginning to speak and was absolutely electrified. (If the link works for you, try to *listen* to his speech - it's so much richer to hear him than to read it, though the words do speak volumes alone). I, like the most of the rest of the country, had no idea who this guy was, but I watched and listened to every word. His honesty, his style of speech, his youthfulness, his apparent integrity, and his intelligence, his love for this country shone out of that TV. He didn't come out with all the usual political phrases and partisan sniping. He spoke about *people*. I didn't know, the next morning, if his speech was as good as I remembered, but after taking a look in the papers and watching him soar to near celebrity staus after that night, I guess he really was that good. Things seem so freaking dark and corrupt in DC. He's like a beacon to me - "the audacity of hope" indeed. I suppose there's a danger in counting so much on someone, but I'm counting on you, Barack Obama, to take us back to a better place.

And to top it off, he even has a blog. ;-)

Take us there, Barack...I'm behind you.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

fainting goats

You think you've seen it all? But wait...there's more.
Fainting goats, of course. Mare, this made me immediately think of you, my bizarro buddy.

OK, look - evolution, creationism (bleah, personal interjection there), god, nature, whatever...I think a sense of humor is an intrinsic part of life, no??

Friday, November 18, 2005

picture day

Here is Q's 4th grade picture. I love this one - it's *him*. Makes me want to wrap it up in my big mommy arms and give him a huge cuddle. I see the "growing up him" in it, but I see traces of the little one, too. (see below)

E hasn't had hers sent home yet. Her teacher is wonderful but not the most organized woman I've seen. I'll pick them up when I go up to the school this morning to volunteer.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

there are all kinds of folks out there... so beware

Before I picked the kids up from chess club this afternoon, I swung by the grocery store to pick up some medicine for Callias.

-> aside -> I feel so weird getting her phenobarbital at the people pharmacy..."Name please?"..."Uh - Callias.". At first, I tried explaining that it was my dog, but that ended up being even weirder than having people think I'd named my child Callias.

-> back to the story ->
Anyway, while there, I also picked up a bottle of wine, some bocca burgers, and some whole wheat buns for dinner.

-> aside -> I am still trying to make my kids eat healthy, you see (BTW, the wine was for me, not the kids). I need to add the footnote that they both tried the veggie burgers, DESPISED them, and I ended up popping a couple of TV dinners I found in the freezer into the microwave. So much for their health.

-> back to the story ->
So I was in the quick check out line when one of the tallest men I've ever seen got in line behind me. He was young, twenty-ish looking, long-haired, kind of cool looking (at first glance). "Huh huh huh..." he laughed (nix the fleeting cool-looking thought...bleah). "You're having hamburgers and WINE for dinner?"

I laughed politely and made some inane comment, meant to close the conversation.

"Well you KNOW..." he insisted on continuing, "those police breath-eh-lizer tests won't pick up on wine. They can tell if you've been drinkin' beer, OH yeah. But not wine. You can be falling down DRUNK..." (and of course had to demonstrate) "...and they'll never KNOW!!!! Cause it just don't pick up on WINE. Heh, heh, heh."
And at this point the young HS guy working the cash register says, "Oh, I KNOW!"

Dilemma. Do I tell these two morons that they are, in fact, full of shit?"

But tall moron continues. "It's GREAT - unless of course you're so drunk you drive to the police station and crash into one of their cars in the parking lot. Heh heh heh. Or you know - if you drive there stinkin' drunk and ask them to use their breath-eh-lizer test to see if you're drunk. You know - that really happens. LIke, ALL THE TIME!"

I paid the guy and decided to let them learn for themselves that police breathalizer tests can, in fact, detect when you've consumed too much wine. Then it occured to me that these two are, in fact, driving around on the roads when I am out there.

Well then. Sleep well tonight!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

calling from...

So I was on the phone with Jim yesterday, from Antarctica... Really. How cool is that? I'll throw it into casual conversation again - I was talking to Jim yesterday when he called me from Antarctica...

Anyway, it was a less-than-wonderful workday; one of those days that I go home feeling like I have skipped back to student status. EARLY student status. I got an email from a coworker at Penn State who was asking me if I'd like to work with him on a quick paper to look at sunrise/sunset flight data on HOx chemistry (I promise I'm not going lapse into a boring technical description of my work). He gave me his reasons and wants to do a short, focused modeling study.

OK. So I am 1) flattered that he wrote me 2) wondering why he didn't cc Jim, as usually happens since he's my fearless leader. Sounds good to me - but I'm not sure what he wants from me, blah blah blah.


I'm on the phone with Jim FROM ANTARCTICA (did I mention that yet?) and I commented on the email. Silence. "What do you think about it, Jennifer?" he asks. I blather on... Silence. "Well," he says, sounding tired, "in the paper you're publishing now, we pretty much put that to rest don't we? That there's nothing more we can do modeling wise.... (and at this point I will skip the technical details for you)."

I don't know. Sometimes I wonder why I do this stuff. I love it, I love it, and I GET things while I'm doing them. But I have no retention. I mean, I can keep my kids' schedules straight and remember what's in the pantry and when I need to have cookies made and when to take the PTA cashbox up to the school. Why can't I keep work business in my head? And not just minor things, but things that I conclude in MY OWN PAPERS. Idiot.

I've got a bunch of excuses ready to cite....but really, I think I bounce against my capability wall sometimes. I am very good at finding immediate solutions at work to coding problems, and at looking at details. But sometimes the big picture just eludes me.

Bah. I just hate feeling dumb.

Did I mention that at the conference with Q's teacher on Monday, she told us that he has extreme perfectionist tendencies (especially for an elementary aged kid) that his teacher would like us all to work on helping him to control? Hehm.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

some filler

I saw this on Betsy's blog and also from my friend Holly J, though not from her blog. I don't think there's anything remotely scientific about it or that doctors have "concluded" anything, but it's fun. It took me 40 or 45 seconds.

Find the man in the coffee beans.

Doctors have concluded that, if you find the man in 3 seconds, then the right half of your brain is better developed than most people.

If you find the man between 3 seconds and one minute, then your right half of the brain is developed normally.

If you find the man between one minute and 3 minutes, then the right half of your brain is functioning slowly and you need to eat more protein. (LMAO!!)

If you have not found the man after 3 minutes, the right half of your brain is a mess, and the only advice is to look for more of these types of exercises to make that part of the brain stronger.

The man is really there. Keep looking!

Monday, November 14, 2005

PTA mom gone contumacious

Thesaurusi are wonderful. Contumacious is the word of the week. Look it up. ;-)

I spent this last weekend in Tyson's Corner, VA for the Virginia state PTA convention. It was actually an O.K. weekend, given that it was a *PTA convention*, for goodness sake (soccer mom convention is next weekend). There were some interesting dynamics between me and the other three women from our school who went - all is good in the end. They're all very nice women, though very different from me in some ways. They're all conservative Republicans, and mostly very religious. At one point during our sleepover-like talk around midnight (we all four shared one hotel room to save PTA money), I was asked about my church. When I told them I went to the Unitarian Universalists and was atheist, their faces absolutely FROZE in shock. It would have been funny if these weren't three ladies that I really like. But you know, these were three authentic people, so I felt it was appropriate to be authentic back, which is my preference anyway. They were mostly curious about me and my religious choices, but there is an obvious disconnect there now. Oh well.

I also confirmed that my children have made me a better person. On our way there, we went through a toll booth, and the driver was slightly confused (about the direction, how much for the toll, whatever...not relevent). The toll booth attendent was of middle eastern descent, a woman with the religious headdress. After we drove off, our driver, who was slightly askew from being confused, started getting silly and making racist comments like "Quit looking at me like that and go back to earning your minimum wage...and take that ridiculous towel off of your head!" Our van of women burst out with laughter and I silently stared out the window in shock. What to do? At the next toll booth, the comment was something like "At least this one is American.". I'm not sure anyone heard me but I said "I imagine the last one was American, too."

At this point, I started thinking a lot. I am raising my kids to be aware and tolerant and true to themselves and courageous. I would never wish for them to put up with such racisist comments. You know, on paper, and in thought, it's all so easy. But when you are faced with it in real life situations that surprise you, the lines are not as clear. I felt terrible about the whole thing and really terrible that I'd not said anything.

The next night we were driving to find a restaurant for dinner, and ended up holding up the traffic so we could throw some coins into a can for cancer something or another that was being carried up and down the lanes by some group. The people in the car behind us got (understandably) upset because we made them miss the light (this is DC remember - not Williamsburg), and they drove up beside us in the turn lane, making angry faces. They were Indian. The same woman started making comments like "You should understand this money thing - you're used to begging aren't you?" OK. (deep breath so I don't scream). I told her that was totally unfair and that I was offended. She tried to defend herself but I stuck my ground and made it CLEAR why I found her comments offensive.

It's a small thing, really. But this is how I want my children to be. This particular woman is actually a very nice woman and very tolerant on paper. I think both times she was trying to be funny and make us laugh. But the more we accept racism as anything but plain and simple racism, the more we give it the opportunity to stay. Racism is not a joke. This woman felt very bad afterward and apologized and spent the rest of the weekend double checking all her comments to make sure she wasn't leaving the impression of racism or intolerance. I honestly feel she is a good person, but it is easy to get into habits that we don't always realize are so damaging.

Anyway, apart from all the political and religious undertones, we took some interesting classes. One of my favorites was on feeding your family healthy foods. As you might expect, I went shopping when I got home and restocked my fridge and pantry. For breakfast, my two sweeties got whole wheat bagels with cream cheese or oatmeal with honey and cinnamon (no complaints). For lunch, however, when I served them lean turkey and mozarella in whole wheat tortillas, with cantelope and pear slices and carrots and avacadoes with hummus and ranch dressing dip, you should have seen their faces. "MOOOOOOMMMM!!! I don't LIKE healthy food!!!!" To be honest, Q devoured it. E was the one with the complaints. I served a healthy dinner, too, with fewer complaints (pork roast with fennel seasoning, potatoes, sauted asparagus and garlic, and sun dried tomatoe couscous.) I am going to conviently forget to tell you about the few handfuls of cheetoes and Diet Dr. Pepper I had for breakfast or the M&M cookie ice cream sandwiches my two kiddos had for a snack, so thank you for not asking about that.

Oy. Lots of confusing stuff going on. DH's brother Gerald is not doing real well health-wise. He's having some tests run tomorrow to look for cancer, so any good vibes or prayers or meditations out there would be appreciated.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

revelations of inadequacy

A new look! I like the colors but don't liked the squashed size as much. Since I'm an amateur, I'm limited at this point to the pre-fab templates at blogger.

...So we were working away this afternoon - Jim and Gao were busy with a telecon on their side of the office and I was modeling away on my side, when BAM. The electricity disappeared. The curses I heard shouted out from one end of our hallway to the other were amusing. Jim and Gao were, of course, only mouthing them since they were on the telephone. I, being the good officemate that I am, exclaimed a few curses in a little tiny voice, so as not to disturb their telecon.

A bunch of geeks without computers is akin to a pack of armadillos without armor (I just made that up - how do you like the Texas reference? And do armadillos really move in packs?). We reverted to aimless wanderings through the darkened hallways, occasionally picking up pieces of paper, but were unsure what to do with them. Wasn't there once a way to place marks on these sheets without the use of a printer? Even the journal articles that I needed to catch up on were online. We found some flashlights and made a few jokes about them, but those can only carry you so far, really. Coffee makers don't work without electricity either. It was a pathetic sight all in all, yes it was.

My life's work would be rendered completely useless in the case of an apocalypse. Put me at the back of the line for those you want as a citizen in your post-apocalyptic village. Oh wait - I can knit! There's a useful skill that I have. Maybe you should move me to somewhere in the middle of the line instead.

In all seriousness, it's a little frightening to realize how dependent we are. I mean, we all know we are, but to really think about it makes you nod your head and purse your lips in concern. Try it.

In any case, I don't think it's the apocalypse now. I think someone backed into a transformer and knocked out electricity to NASA and the adjacent Air Force Base for a few hours. All will be well again tomorrow, I'm sure. The geeks will be back typing away at their computers, the coffee makers will be dripping, and the air conditioner will be humming, despite it being November. But that's for another post.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

a break from the rat race

Today was election day. I would normally insert something like a sunny "I'm crossing my fingers!" or "I feel like this is our year!", but things have been so bleak for even moderate liberals that I simply don't have the energy. No energy for hope? What would Barrack Obama say?! In any case, the kids had the day off from school, meaning I had the day off from work.

We ran a few errands in the morning, including stopping by the polls. The afternoon was blissfully spent doing NOTHING but playing and walking out at a local park, Little Creek Reservoir, with neighborhood friends and the Jamies' kids. The new play area for this park has been under construction for, oh, more than a year and is actually still closed to the public. But since it's all in who you know, one of my neighbors is the acting director of the county's rec department, so when neighbor Greg called (yes, this is the Greg that darling E flipped off), Seth told us to just park on the road and hike in to the brand new playground, regardless of the "Closed" signs. This also meant we had the park to ourselves all afternoon. And what a glorious afternoon it was. Yowza. It got up to about 75, brilliant blue skies, and the trees are at their peak. Imagine a picture perfect autumn day, and there you have it. We hiked down to the reservoir, and the kids played with cattails from the lake's edge, hiked through the leaves, played frisbee and freeze tag at the playground, and just hung out all day. Here are a few pictures. (Just click on them to get a bigger version):

Beautiful red colors at the entrance. I'm not completly sure, but I think the brilliant reds are dogwood and maybe some oak.

Did I say I wasn't going to talk about the election? Well I lied. I found that going into the school today to vote, doing all the familiar things associated with that, brought out a wave of sadness like I wasn't expecting. Truly. I think many people believe that when people like me go on and on about depression and despondancy after last year's elections, that we're overdramatizing things, perhaps for a laugh. But no. Nope. I remember sobbing and sobbing while driving home last November, big fat tears like I haven't cried in some time. For about a month after the election, my friends and I would greet each other with long, heartfelt hugs. No words were necessary. The sadness among us was ubiquitous. Several of my friends couldn't go to work the next day. (seriously). Last year was beyond lunchroom discussions and esoteric kinds of political talk. Last year hurt like hell. I felt sucker punched and couldn't understand how so many people could be so ignorant. [Yah, OK, so I'm falling over into deep biases here, but this is how I feel.] I knew it hurt, but until I voted again today, I didn't realize how much my hopes had been pummeled.

Here is my sweetie during our walk. He and Robert spent hours balancing cattails on their fingers, noses, chests, ears, shoulders... They tried doing handstands and balancing them on their feet, but neither was tall enough to reach the other's feet whilst in a handstand. Funny boys. I think I can see a glimpse of teenaged Quinton peeking out at me from this picture.

This year, our governor is up for election. The current governor, Mark Warner is a Democrat and has ended up an extremely popular guy. He took the financial mess that our last Republican governor left the state in, and cleaned it up. Yes, I know that general economics has a lot to do with that, but he was able to work with a very conservative house and pull consensus decisions out of a hat. Don't know why we limit our governers to only 1 four year term around here. But we do. So now we've got another race to vote in. It's been ugly, too. The GOP candidate is just absolutely nasty, and I'm hearing that from all sides of the political spectrum. Yuck. Again, though, I have not much energy for hope. I think we fat and spoiled Americans have forgotten how to think, and are willing to be led around by our noses by corporations.

So all in all, I spent today in the most perfect way. We played and walked and talked and laughed and I didn't think again about the elections until we got home. I have faith that the pendulum continues to swing and that one day things will get better. I think. In the meantime, it sucks to be living through this mess. But it doesn't suck to be living.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

the end of the human race and other fun topics

We had an interesting discussion this morning at youth group at the Unitarian Universalists. Because of Rosa Parks' death last week, we thought it'd be good to discuss the civil rights movement with them (I'm one of the advisors for the high school youth group, aka YRUUs). I introduced them to Claudette Colvin. "Who," you ask, "is Claudette Colvin?" Ah - good question. She was a 15 year old black girl in Montgomery Alabama who, in a fashion identical to Rosa Parks, refused to give up her seat to white people in 1955. She was only 15, and she did this before Rosa Parks did, and is mostly unknown. The trouble was, she was too black, too young, too emotional and prone to cursing and outbursts, and too pregnant as an unmarried teenager, for the NAACP to use her as their person to rally 'round. She wasn't the right kind of icon. So here's someone with the same internal fortitude and the same strength as Rosa Parks, who decided she'd had enough of being pushed around, and stood up to a bus driver and while policemen (who had handcuffed her and were dragging her kicking and screaming out of the bus), and she was only fifteen, for crying out loud. Good for HER. And while I understand that the NAACP needed to be careful in the implementation of their boycott and they couldn't afford mistakes, I can't help but be bothered at the orchestration, you know? Was her protest any less signficant than Rosa Parks? Was the discrimination she faced any less? Anyway, the kids had some interesting discussion. We ended up off on tangents about anarchy and violent oppression of hate groups, but it was all fun. What an intelligent and angry and great group of kids.

I've been a little sad lately - no obvious reason why. It probably has something to do with reading some of Daniel Quinn's Beyond Civilization and thinking about a sustainable world and how far away we are from that. Nothing like a sprinking of global warming, dwindling energy resources, toxic soil and groundwater, and nonbiodegradable waste dumps to brighten your day, eh? Ah well...I go through these periods occasionally. I have to just let myself be sad for a while. And in a way, it's not *that* sad. I really don't think the human species is going to last forever - it can't. I hate to think that we could/will probably be the authors of our extinction, though. How embarrassing. But really, what does it matter? We can't destroy the earth and we can't destroy life. Life will continue to evolve with or without us. We'll be a distinct, but probably unimportant dot in the continuous evolution of species on earth. We're part of the cycle, and will have a beginning and an end. Just leave any pain and suffering on the part of my precious children OUT of the equation, thankyouverymuch. Other than that, gaia earth and Master Universe have my permission to do as they will.

Wouldn't I be a fun dinner date tonight?
Oh come on. We all have periods of doom and gloom. Best to make the most of them, right? WALLOW in that bleakness.

E is a chess-playing maniac these days. She wants to enter an amateur chess tournament in a couple of weeks. Why not? Could be fun. Q is a book-reading maniac. He's joined the school's Battle of the Books and has read something like 6 novels in about a week and a half. Is anyone out there surprised at all that DH and I have totally nerdy children?

Hey, get out and VOTE on Tuesday. After last year's debacle (tears, knashing of teeth, pulling of hair, crying on shoulders of friends, wakes with plenty of alcohol to stave off the depression), I'm having a hard time mustering enthusiasm, but I still think voting is better than not voting. I feel like I'm a quiet voice in a sea of lemmings around here, but lord knows I'm going to make my voice count. As one vote. Against about half a million. But it'll be there. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

neighborly waves

Let me tell you about my daughter. For anyone that knew me as a child, my E is not at all like I was. I was shy, afraid to color outside the lines, and perfectly comfortable to let life happen to me. As an illustration, there was one time I was driving up to church for a youth group meeting, down one of Santa Fe's little country roads. I noticed a car up on the right that was beginning to back down their driveway. Fast. And they weren't slowing down. Being the observant teen that I was, I slammed on the brakes, but as the car ahead swung out of the driveway, they obviously still did not see me. I put my car in reverse and backed away while tapping the horn. The driveway car still managed to back into my car (my parent's car). So what happened next? The other drived chewed me out, took down my driver's license information and humiliated me for getting in a wreck while driving my "daddy's car." What did I do? Apologized profusely and felt guilty. That was me, ever trying to stay gray, stay out of sight, and never ever cause any ripple in the calm sea that I thought life should be.

E? She runs that motorboat slicing through through the water and screams with delight as she is bounced clear out of the boat.

Last week, though she was dressed in little girl pink and butterflies, hair shining and face washed, she was having a bit of a rough morning. At the bus stop one past ours, neighbor Greg put his kindergartener Zoe on the bus and waved cheerily at the little girls and made funny faces. E shot him the finger. Neighbor Greg called me.

I had the talk with her after school and made her call Greg to apologize. But part of me is relieved that she feels OK about flipping off someone who irritates her. I'd like her to learn a *little* social restraint, but it's better for her to be working from that end than to have to learn from the bottom up how to remember that you are valid.

In case anyone wonders, I did find my spunk, somewhere between Atlanta and New Jersey. I will yell at policemen who do not let me drive my son to gymnastics because of college football parking, and I will hula hoop in a cul de sac for jello shooters. I may even shoot the finger at someone who bothers me, though it would probably be out of sight to the rest of the world since well, we all know about the whackos out there. And while I am busy teaching my daughter about the world and how to tie her shoes, she's busy teaching me that it's perfectly OK to think you are right and the rest of the world may occasionally deserve to be flipped off.