Thursday, March 29, 2012

And Now for Something Completely Different ...

Minx has been taking piano lessons since September. She absolutely loves to make music and while her first request was to play the drums, she seems very satisfied with our compromise. The first hint of trouble came a few weeks ago, when it was established that although she had taught herself 'Yankee Doodle', playing first the left hand than the right, and counting and naming the notes, this wasn't in fact her homework. She hadn't played any of the songs she had actually been assigned.

The teacher asked me if Minx was enjoying her lessons to which I replied, "Of course! She leaves each Tuesday proclaiming it to be the best lesson ever!" Well, in that case, the teacher felt that there might be a control issue, ie. who is leading the lesson (aside: she gets that trait from her father). She was concerned that reigning Minx in might put her off music altogether.

Apparently, it wasn't a question of Minx not listening, rather she was choosing her own way to respond. For example, instead of saying the names of the notes on the page as asked, she would play it on the piano. On at least one occasion she had miaowed the note, which on the one hand is borderline rude and on the other is highly amusing and either way hard to punish since it was in perfect pitch. Sometimes she left the piano altogether to play with the egg timer.

So I had a little conversation with Minx about being respectful. I explained that while it was fine to go off reservation on the piano at home, during the lesson she must do exactly as the teacher asks and will learn music much faster that way. It seems to have worked so far but I can see that there will have to be weekly reminders and I live in a state of nervous tension over the upcoming recital in June.

I guess I should just relax and celebrate the entertainment value of having a child who can miaow the E Major scale. It's better than burping the national anthem, right? Oh lord, I hope she never cottons on to that idea.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

There's the Rub

After months of dealing with the fallout of Hurricane Irene vs. the water table; the aftermath of the freak October snowstorm vs. our trees; and the repercussions of living nowhere near the town sewer line, we are finally, finally, ready to put our house (back) on the market.

Well... maybe "ready" is not the right word. I don't know that we'll ever feel completely ready.  There is always some project to be undertaken or improvement or touch up to be made.  But at some point you just have to stop and be satisfied that you've done the best you can.  Because, really, is that tiny nail hole in the molding going to turn off an otherwise interested buyer?  Is it?!  Should I patch and paint it?!  Sigh.

Back in the days of yore, when I was a young associate forced to sit through agonizingly dull drafting sessions at the printer, there would come a time (usually in the early pre-dawn hours) when the senior partners would say "pencils down,"* meaning: no more back and forth over nonsense, no more changes, the deal is done. 

So I guess the time has come for us to put our pencils down. 

Except... on a whim today I picked up a Magic Eraser.  I know I am super-late to this party but WOW!  It really is magic.  Scuffs on the walls?  Gone.  Mark on the ceiling from an ill-chosen fly swatter?  Gone.  Errant marker lines on the door frame near the craft table? Yup, gone.  Amazing. 

Don't think I wasn't tempted to rub that thing on my under-eye circles.

*   Ack! Pencils! I' m dating myself.  It's like when I say Walkman instead of iPod.  Back then we would also fax people things.  And for a while there we even worked in MS-DOS.  "Boy, the way Glenn Miller played....."

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Excuse me but aren't you ...

I was standing in line at Starbucks when I noticed that the woman behind me looked an awful lot like Catherine Zeta Jones. Her outfit was black and chic but nothing too obviously Hollywood and she was ostensibly alone. Her jewelry, including her wedding band, was very simple. For a brief moment I considered telling this complete stranger that she looked just like CZJ (who wouldn't want to hear that?) and then I heard her order. That lilting Welsh singsong voice was a dead giveaway.

I looked around in complete amazement then tilted my head towards her and whispered, "Are you Catherine Zeta Jones?". To which she whispered back, "Yes." Now what? My brain absolutely froze. I searched for something to say that didn't sound completely dorky or stalker-ish, rejecting 'How is your husband feeling' and "How old are your children now?", along with 'I'm a huge fan.' In the end I went full-scale Chris Farley and muttered "That's awesome."

That's awesome???!!! Holy crap. I NEVER say awesome! It's such a teenage American cliche that I don't even use it when I am genuinely in awe! She was gracious, smiled kindly and then joined an older woman, who could possibly have been her mom, for a little shopping. Why didn't I ask her what she was doing here in our hometown? Why did I even draw attention to myself in my gym clothed, frizzy haired, didn't check my teeth after eating salad for lunch condition?

Is there a cool way to meet someone famous I wonder? Whatever. My brother will be SO jealous!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Girl, Interrupted

My 11-year-old daughter is a complete tomboy-jock. She plays every sport known to man and then invents more. On more than one occasion recently she has been mistaken for a boy, but since that has also happened to her best friend, she thinks it's funny; a badge on honour if you will. She has also (too early) reached the age when it's cool to be bored so the whole grunge, he-she wardrobe fits right into the 1990s Seattle persona.

However, on Wednesday I had to take her to an orthopedic specialist because her shoulder hurts when she runs and she had to be pulled out of two soccer games last weekend in some state of distress. Apparently her ligaments are very long in her AC joint (acromioclavicular not Air Conditioning) which means that her bones aren't held apart when she runs and they crunch into each other. Ew.

The upshot is that she has been told not to run for at least a month. Can you say "full-on meltdown"? And that's just me! Last year she was out for bruised growth-plate issues in her heels (also related to loose ligaments) and now this. The doctor says she'll grow out of it but that could be several years away so what do you do in the meantime?

I wish parenting was more linear. This to-ing and fro-ing business on each and every decision is for the birds.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Must Be My Liberal Arts Background

Yesterday I took my daughter to a birthday party for one of her classmates. It was a rock climbing party so I hung out for a while to watch. My only mistake was not tuning out the conversation going on next to me.
Mom #1: We took the kids to see The Lion King in the city yesterday.
Mom #2: Did they love it? 
Mom #1: Omigod no! It's so scary! The dad lion falls off this cliff and dies and then his son thinks it's all his fault!! I couldn't believe it.
Mom #2: (shocked) Oh, that's awful!
 Me: (in my head) Seriously, have you not seen the movie? Did you think the Broadway show could somehow gloss over a major plot point that drives the whole story?
Mom #2: Well, we saw The Lorax
Mom #1: How was that?
Mom #2: The kids liked it. But I just can't stand these movies that try to jam a message down your throat. I mean, I know that the liberals in Hollywood get to decide what we see but, really...
 I could take no more. I interjected myself into the conversation.
Me: Did you know that Dr. Seuss wrote The Lorax in the '70's? Pretty prescient, really. More of a "paved paradise and put up a parking lot" thing than a straight global warming message.
Me: You must have hated Wall-E.
 Hey Weaselsnark, why aren't you popular with the Chicago Police Department?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

And She Told Two Friends....

The other night we ate at a very trendy South Beach restaurant.  A restaurant where boldface names are frequently spotted by the tabloids.  Unfortunately, we were there for a work function and were shuttled to the restaurant, along with 25 or so of my husband's colleagues and their spouses, in a massive tour bus.

Like a mortified teenager, I contemplated asking the driver to drop us off a block away from the restaurant.  Unfortunately, by the time that idea occurred to me we had already stopped in front.

Dignity dented, I had no qualms about securing a good spot inside-- "good spot" being wholly defined by who I would have to talk to all night.  It's my best-developed survival skill.  I surrounded myself with people I like, no whammies.

Before the waiter could even take our drink orders, one of my friends leaned in and asked if I was reading "that book."  What book?  "The mommy porn," she said.

She explained that she had been on vacation a few weeks earlier with a couple of other families and that the other women, close friends of hers, had been so engrossed in their Kindles that they would barely speak to her at the pool.  When she called them on their rudeness they blamed it on the book, Fifty Shades of Grey.

Intrigued, my friend had downloaded it and then found herself up all night reading.  She was asking me about it because there had been a story about the book-- about the secret cult-like phenomenon of the book-- on the Today show.  I had never heard of it.

I can't stand feeling like I'm out of the pop culture loop. Back at the hotel I went straight to ibooks, pausing for only a brief moment to contemplate what impact downloading something categorized as "erotica" might have on Big Brother's cookie profile of me.

Fifty Shades evidently started as Twilight fanfiction.  It is a thinly-veiled retelling of that book's ordinary girl tames the unattainable god-like man story, with an emotionally unavailable/sexually deviant billionaire taking the place of the vampire. Unlike Twighlight, this book does not have an abstinence agenda.  Quite the opposite.

But there's got to be a ton of downloadable erotica out there (I refuse to search ibooks to confirm that!)  Why is this book getting all the attention?  The media coverage seems to suggest it's the nature of the relationship, which dabbles in S&M. 

That could be it.  I don't know.  My old roommate used to ask me to edit her Smallville fanfiction for her.  She wrote slash stories about Clark Kent and Lex Luthor, so let's just say that it takes a lot to shock me.  It's all pretty repetitive and I wind up feeling embarrassed for the writer and myself.  And yet...

I emailed my friend this morning to tell her that I think I must be a masochist: I'm now reading part two of this wretchedly written trilogy because I have to know what happens in the actual story.  It's truly painful.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Only I Can Criticize Me!

I absolutely HATE making mistakes. As a child, if I were told off, I would recede into what my family called my "black mood" for hours at a time, unable to forgive myself or the messenger for calling attention to (gasp!) my faults. I have somewhat mellowed over the years but by a disappointingly small degree.

Last week I drove into the city (with all three children, during rush hour) to pick up my mother-in-law from the train station. Approaching a major intersection I found myself having to sneak between two city buses, the one on my right stationary and the one on my left moving. Realizing it was too narrow for me to comfortably squeeze through I stopped. Well! Cars behind me started sitting on their horns and the traffic cop at the intersection was blowing his whistle furiously and stamping his foot so STUPIDLY I drove through.

The next thing I knew there was a loud bang and my wing mirror flipped up (insert colourful language). So I pulled around the corner to inspect the damage and saw that happily the mirror was unscathed! I snapped it back into place and drove off to collect my mother-in-law.

The next day my husband came in from his run and asked me what the heck I had done to my car. What?!!! The entire right side was slightly scraped. At the time of the accident, in my relief over the state of the wing mirror,it didn't occur to me to check for other damage or file an accident report. Still, the damage wasn't so bad, just superficial. "It'll probably buff right out!" I assured my husband.

Long story short, the damage will cost almost $5000 to repair. Yes, that's three 0s. My husband sends me an email with the quote from Geico and quips, "Guess it WON'T just buff right out."

We've been married for 17 years. He REALLY should know better.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

One a Day

That's how many stink bugs I find in my house. Granted, one a day is way, way preferable to 50 all at once; but it is a little freaky to me that each day brings exactly one bug face off.

It's gotten to the point that I count on it. Like waiting for the other shoe to fall. If the kids have gone off to bed B.S.B (before stink bug), I know that one of them-- a child, not a bug-- will be downstairs before I can fast-forward through most of The Voice to tell me that they have spotted my foe in their room.

I think I've established that I don't like bugs. I'm not one of those chill, crunchy types who can take note of a bug in the house and then do nothing about it. And yet, paradoxically, I feel bad about killing them. Killing them myself, that is. I'd have the exterminator here weekly if I weren't worried about the cumulative effects of the chemicals on my kids and my dog. (There's a parallel to be drawn between that mental disconnect and how troops get sent into battle....)

Just stay out of my house, I beseech all of bugdom telepathically. I never even consider killing bugs that are outside. That's shared territory. It's when they come in and threaten to creepy crawl (or fly!) their way into our hair or our ears.... Well, that's when I feel compelled to act.

And then feel bad about it. The daily battle waged between my neuroses and irrational fears on the one side and my empathy for living creatures and fear of bad karma on the other is taking it's toll on me.

I don't know who said it first but, seriously, if the outdoors is so great, why do the bugs keep trying to come inside?