Monday, December 29, 2003

This morning I celebrated my return to the office with the creamy, nutty wonderfulness that is Ferrero Rocher.

It does not mean "feral roach," as my husband tried to convince me. That was an attempt on his part to get me to stop eating the little goodies and leave some for him. Do not be fooled by such lies.

So I left home with an apple, an orange, a Luna bar, a mug of coffee, and three beautiful, gold-wrapped Ferrero Rocher from the gift box given to us by a close friend. These would be compensation for each of the healthy foods I planned to eat throughout the day. These would help ease the transition from holiday binging back to healthful, sensible eating. They would make me forget that I am but one of a few stragglers left in my office without any remaining vacation time to take during this three-day work span sandwiched between two four-day weekends.

Nestled snug within my purse, they assured me that they would hold my hand through this unpleasant Monday. At periodic intervals, they would emerge and reward my perseverance with soothing chocolate.

It is 9:17 a.m. and I have eaten them.

And the Luna bar is growing uncomfortable with the way I keep feeling its wrapper to discern whether it contains a chocolate-like coating.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

I stand out today because I am wearing brand-new black jeans.

The last time I wore new black jeans to work was in August 2000. They were very, very black. The next time I wore them was a week later, after I'd washed them. They had emerged from the laundry somewhat less black, betraying a few faded streaks and creases. In fact, after a few more washes I began to worry that I resembled the shaft end of a before-and-after colorfastness experiment.

Here is a random list of things to which the blackness of my jeans might be compared:

The depth of night
My eternal soul
The creepiest corner of my laundry room where spiders dwell
Unrelenting evil
The sleep of death (what dreams may come, etc.)

Merry Christmas to All!

Thursday, December 04, 2003

I'm worried about BBY KAT, the light brown Honda.

She's one of the cars that I frequently see during my drive to work. I'm usually on the road at about the same time, traveling the same route, and I find myself riding along beside many of the same cars each morning. It's like a playgroup for my Ion. He perks up when he sees cars he recognizes.

There's BBY KAT of course. And the white truck with the Attend the Church of Your Choice sticker. And the silver Ion whom my green Ion thinks of as a sort of cousin. (We let each other over in the sticky construction spots).

There's the orange Cougar. And the bright yellow Beetle. And the car that I only saw once but can't seem to forget because of its sticker.

But I'm just hoping BBY KAT is all right. I caught up with her on an entrance ramp to the highway. The streets were rainy, cold, and slick, and I was just trying to get to work without random cars losing control and sliding into me. As I pulled up behind BBY KAT, one of her rear wheels began wobbling alarmingly as if it were about to fall off.

"What do I do?" I wondered. "Do I honk, flash my lights, roll down my window and shout?" I felt terrible, but I did nothing. I watched her turn onto the highway and speed up to match the traffic, unaware that anything was wrong.

A police car passed me. "Catch her!" I silently prodded him. "Pull her over and warn her about the wheel!" But he didn't. The wheel continued to wobble, and the officer passed her without a glance.

My exit came up, and I took it, spending the entire remainder of my drive with my knuckles clenched on the steering wheel. I imaginined BBY KAT's wheel coming loose, her car careening out of control, flipping several times into oncoming traffic, and ending in a twisted wreck with many innocent people dead. All because I couldn't bring myself to flash my lights at the woman.

I know it sounds silly, but I'm going to be checking the paper for traffic fatalities. The world is just too darn dangerous.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I came into the office today to discover that Facilities had left on my desk a very nice, leather-simulated, gold-edged, checkbook-sized 2004 calendar. How kind!

Checking my email, I discovered that the company had kindly provided everyone with a "pocket diary," reflecting the true international flavor of our international owners.

My very own pocket diary. Well, as a devoted diarist since the age of eight, I feel it would be a shame to waste it on dates and appointments.

Dear Diary, (reads my very first calendar entry)

Today I shall be meeting with marketing to discuss the direct mail efforts for a collection of drug books. The meeting is set for two o'clock in the afternoon, which I feel is a wonderful time of day for a meeting. The sun should be casting beautifully through the barren tree limbs, and we'll all be a pleasant state of mind having just returned from lunch.

I will take you with me everywhere, Dear Diary! I'll use you to record phone numbers of people I meet, as well as the addresses and birthdays of close friends.

But for now, I'll have to stop writing in you. Since it's taken me forty minutes to thoughtfully record today's meeting time, my boss is standing at my office door and looking impatient because there were several files she had asked me to give her before the meeting. (Between you and me, Diary, she needs to lighten up.) Talk to you again soon! Love, ME

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

This morning I was led to believe that someone called Monkey Jim was in my house.

Youngest woke this morning and asked urgently for "muckeegeem." That's the phonetic approximation. One of the first things you discover when your toddler turns verbal is that phonetics do not apply. What comes out of the baby's mouth as opposed to what the baby intended to come out of her mouth are sometimes two entirely different things. You find yourself instead playing a little game of "now if I were the baby, what would I say?" And then you rattle off a bunch of similar-sounding words and phrases until the baby hears you say the right thing and perks up.

I've gotten pretty good at the game. See, if Youngest and I are going for a walk and she says, "ahmunnawideinnatolla!" you can bet she meant to say, "I want to ride in the stroller." If you're rocking her to sleep and suddenly feel moved to sing the lullaby your mother sang to you when you were a baby, she might reach up and put her fingers over your mouth and say, "nosingingdatsong!" which means, "You have no vocal ability and you're making my ears ache, so please stop."

But there's no context in the morning when she's just woken up, and who knows what Monkey Jim-type characters could have been entertaining her while she slept. She smiled at me quizzically. "Nooo…No muckeegeem. Muckeegeem."

"Muddy gem?"

"No. Want the muckeegeem."

"Money gleam?"

She tried pronouncing it slower for me as if I were a retard. "Muckeeeeegeeeeeemmm!"

"Many… geems? What's a geem?"

"GEEEM! GEEEM!" She seemed to be thinking, could I be any more clear?

"Okay," I said, trying to take a step back and locate some clues. "Should we go look for the, uh, muckeegeem?"

"In sissy's room," she said. "We go find it."

Ah ha! The location had been established. We knocked on Oldest's door, who was grumpily putting an outfit together for school. "Muckeegeem," I said to her. "Translation?"

Oldest looked at me blankly and then put her arm around Youngest, leading her conspiratorially a few feet away from me. "What's she talking about?" she asked Youngest.

Youngest seemed relieved. "I want muckeegeem," she explained. "I pwess de buttons. Pway muckeegeem."

"Oh, okay," said Oldest. She went to her junk drawer and pulled out a little electronic handheld game in which pressing buttons causes pixilated monkeys to jump over barrels to the tune of loud, monotonous beeping. Youngest squealed with glee at the sight of it.

Monkey game. Much less spooky than the idea of Monkey Jim hanging out in my closets.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Today's top five coping mechanisms for having too many large projects with small deadlines:

1. Eat raw fish.
2. Sing along with Cat Power songs.
3. Imagine that Chan Marshall and I regularly share insights and eat sushi together.
4. Wonder if Chan Marshall likes sushi, and suppose that even if she didn't she'd pretend to just so we'd have an excuse to hang out.
5. Decide that if Chan Marshall is going to lie to me about something as fundamental as sushi, she has no business hanging out with me anyway, and how dare she call herself my friend if she can't even be honest and up-front with me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Good point and well stated. Closes with the Kurt Vonnegut passage of which I am most fond.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

I am so proud of Youngest. She has adopted the time-honored tradition of the Bedtime Water Stall.

I find it amazing that all of us as human beings, independent of any organized plot or intention, have at one time used the Stall on our caregivers. It works every time, and yet no adult can resist it.

Step 1. Refuse to go to bed. Wail, scream, beg, whimper, kick, and plead in an effort to avoid going to bed.

Step 2. Stand in your crib long after Mom has kissed you good night and closed your door, and howl without mercy.

Step 3. Suddenly stop crying, sniffle plaintively, and call out with sincere earnestness, "Mom? Mommy………?"

Step 4. Give Mommy a second to wonder if the cessation is some kind of trick, and then call, "Can I have a drink of water?"

Even the most steadfast and resolute Ferber parents find themselves weakening at this innocent request. They ask themselves whether their own rest or sanity at the end of a long day is worth denying their sweet child a simple drink of water, and the answer is always Of Course Not.

We can ignore requests for Oatmeal the puppy, Emily Baby, another blanket, a lullaby, a hug, and even one last kiss goodnight. But not water. It just seems so cruel to leave a small child all alone in a dark room without even a sip of water.

And maybe part of us remembers being that child and feeling relief wash over you when the door to your bedroom opened and your mother appeared with a small cup of water, backlit by the bright hallway light. She'd help you to sit up while keeping the covers tucked tight around you, perch on the edge of your bed and put one arm around your shoulders while you gratefully took the cup and leaned into her warm motherness for one last stolen cuddle before sleep.

I can't help it. The little voice calling "I habba dink of water?" will probably get me every time. Good for her.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

"All right," I said to my stomach this morning, poking it awake. "It's been two weeks since we last spoke, and you promised me a verdict on the embryo situation."

It yawned and stretched, glaring at me distastefully. "Well you should know," it groused. "It's your uterus."

"You're the resident smart-ass. Shouldn't you have the inside story?"

"I told you already. Nothing new to report."

"Nothing growing?"

"Nothing but my sincere annoyance with this line of inquiry."

"Fine then," I said, and rolled out of bed in search of my favorite jeans.

"So, I'm thinking burritos for lunch?" said stomach.

With some difficulty, I closed the button on my jeans. "I'm thinking I'll no longer be attributing your roundish, womanly shape to anything maternal for a while."

"Watch it, or I'll work up some serious indigestion on your behalf. Bitch."

As much as I hate letting my stomach get in the last word, I had some strong coffee and such to lean into.

Friday, October 24, 2003

It's quirky how the corporate mind works.

You cut the headcount for a certain department just to see if we can all work harder and make up the difference. For the most part, we do. But it costs you a whole lot in overtime and freelance.

We point out that it would cost half as much to hire someone to do the work.

You ignore us. Then you have a great idea. We should hire someone!

I don't want to offend anyone's business ethics by saying too much, but consider this a public service announcement regarding things to watch out for when submitting your resume:

1. Be sure you have the correct date at the top of your letter. Yes, people do notice little things like that. If your letter is dated two years in the past, you look really pathetic. And if you claim to have written it on Oct. 15, 3003 please be prepared to describe how the human race has evolved in a thousand years. I really do want to know.

2. Leave out the pleading. Beginning your letter with "Please consider me…" and ending with, "Please, please call right away to set up an interview!" did not make me want to call you. It made me want to be far, far away from wherever it is that you are.

3. Keep in mind that the number of literary associations and poetry clubs you list on your resume to is inversely proportionate to people's respect for you as a copywriter. I don't know why. Counterintuitive, isn't it.

4. Use appropriate capitals. There is no shame in capitalizing a word at the beginning of a sentence. It does not make you appear stodgy or old-fashioned. If your IM friends tell you otherwise, they are not really your friends.

Stay tuned for more real-world resume tips and learn how to avoid having your resume plastered with post-its and passed around for others' amusement! Not that any of that goes on around here. That would be wrong.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The workforce of my department is 33% pregnant, with women ranging in progression from 6 to 38 weeks. Maternity leaves are blocked out on our calendars like big fluorescent streaks of freedom, and scheduling work is a strategic exercise in beating nature to the punch.

It works out well for me because there's always an ample stash of chocolate in the meeting room. But our (male) boss is more than a little sensitive to the fact that in an entirely female department, we're all ticking time bombs. He has even gently suggested that perhaps we might consider hiring a few men.

As I was sitting in the meeting room unwrapping another piece of chocolate, chatting with the pregnant girls, I happened to mention that I should stop eating so much sugar. It was making me feel icky.

They perked up. "Icky how?" they asked.

I thought about it. "Icky… nauseous…tired…crampy…"

"You're pregnant!" They cried with glee, clapping their hands and exchanging knowing looks.

"I am not pregnant," I said, a statement that started out with conviction and then, mid-sentence, struck me with the realization that it was not impossible and was therefore technically possible. And holy crap. Come to think of it, I was feeling extremely pregnant.

"You are!" they insisted, as if the baby alert had been tripped and red-flashing sirens were now going off above my head.

"No I'm not. Leave me alone. I have to pee," I said, and stood up to leave. "And my boobs are sore."

Across the table, one of them uncapped a permanent marker. "Can you smell this?"

"When was your last period?" someone else asked. And I should add that this question would indeed seem to cross the boundaries of polite conversation if I had not spent yesterday afternoon with the same crowd hashing out the pros and cons of membrane ruptures and episiotomies.

I sat back down. "I'm not sure," I said. I opened my calendar and looked back over the months. "In the last six weeks I've had three periods but at least one of them wasn't a real period because I'm still on the mini-pill."

This was followed by a brief discussion of the mini-pill's laughable effectiveness and the number of people we all know who have gotten pregnant on this so-called form of birth control. Then we stared at my calendar and decided I was either three days late or not due for another two weeks.

"This is ridiculous," I told them. "We're totally making this all up. I'm not pregnant."

Later, I had a heart-to-heart talk with my stomach. "Is there anybody in there?" I asked it.

"That depends," it said. "Are you talking about the fat deposits that keep asking for more chocolate, or the burrito that's trying to tell you that Mexican fast food is never a good idea?"

"That's not what I mean," I told it.

"Then no," said my stomach. "I assure you, we are as unpregnant as we could possibly get."

"That's what I thought!" I said.

"You might want to check back in two weeks, though."

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

As far as my eight-year-old is concerned, we're past the stage in our relationship where I can do no wrong. I am no longer met after work with squeals of glee and arms flung around my neck in an affectionate cling. She can go hours now without even acknowledging my existence. And the last time I was called "the best mom in the world" was when I offered to order pizza for dinner.

That's okay, I guess. But I do find myself taking on tasks that reassure me I am – if not "the best" – at least a good mom.

For example, there was the morning of picture day at her new school when I twisted a chunk of her hair into a funky braid, and she told me later that all the girls had admired her hair and asked her how it was done. Good mom.

There was the "summer reading club" I invented for her after she'd completed the official reading club program at the library within a matter of weeks. We made a chart on poster board with a maze of squares to color in for each 15 minutes of reading. Some of the squares were "prize" squares, with a big reward (a trip to the book store) at the end. Like I need to encourage the little bookworm to read... it felt like rewarding her with candy for finishing her cake. But still. It was a good mom moment.

I've recently taken on my most ambitious good mom project yet. I am making her Halloween costume. Not just cutting eye-holes in a sheet to make a ghost, not stacking two boxes together to make a robot. No, daughter wants to be Glinda from the Wizard of Oz. And so a Glinda costume I will create.

We took a trip to the fabric store and collected a sewing pattern, fabric, thread, pins, zippers, sequins, and bobbins.

As we stood in line with our arms full of ivory taffeta and tulle that would eventually become something resembling a gorgeous, princess-esque dress worthy of the Good Witch herself, a lady in line behind us said to Daughter, "What are you making?"

Daughter, dutifully polite, replied, "My Halloween costume, Glinda."

"Oh!" said the nice lady. "So your mommy is probably going to teach you to sew! I wish I knew how to sew."

That's when the panic attack set in. "Know HOW to sew?" I said to myself. "TEACH? You mean there's a skill involved that I should have mastered with proficiency enough to pass on to my offspring? It's not just sticking a bunch of fabric together?"

I should note that I am not a total sewing novice. I own a sewing machine and have in the past made things from patterns. However, I should also note that the sewing machine was given to me on my eleventh birthday, and that the last article of clothing I ever successfully completed was a fuzzy pair of pajamas for my Cabbage Patch Kid.

But as soon as words were out of the lady's mouth, Daughter looked up at me with a strange smile. Faith. She believed in me. I'd told her we could do this, and she believed we could.

After sitting the little prodigy down at the machine and teaching her to sew a straight line, I watched her turn out a quite respectable-looking pillowcase with our scrap fabric. She showed it to Dad and explained, "Mom taught me to sew!"

So maybe she'll never tell me I'm the best mom in the world when the costume is finished. It doesn't matter. Daughter has a new pillowcase and a new skill. I found out that my sewing machine does more than take up pants and repair rips. And we found something we like to do together.

I just hope Glinda will forgive the slightly bunched gathers and uneven hems…

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

The baby broke my heart this morning.

We have our routine. We wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, pile into the car, and Youngest and I head for Grandma's house while Dad waits with Oldest at the bus stop. However, today Grandma had arranged to come to our house and play. Dad, Oldest, and Youngest would hang out at home, and my piece of the morning puzzle was not needed.

So I kissed everyone good-bye and went out to the garage, started the car, and spent a few moments fumbling through CDs.

As I was fumbling, I noticed that the doorknob to the door between the house and the garage slowly turned. The door slowly pulled open. And in the doorway, still clinging to the doorknob above her head, stood a lone little girl with a mix of confusion and betrayal in her wide, blue eyes.

"What about meeeeee?" she cried.

She might as well have said, "Why don't you love me anymore, Mommy? Don't you cherish the special times we spend together on our morning drive? Remember yesterday when I pointed out the Big Tuck and you told me that it was called a Garbage Truck. And I said, Bawrbidge Tuck! I wiggled in my carseat and sang a little song about the Bawrbidge Tuck, and we both laughed. We laughed not because it was funny, but because we loved to hear the sound of each other's laughter. Don't I mean anything to you?"

Fortunately, within seconds Daddy swept her up from behind and explained the situation. I blew kisses. She waved, reassured.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

The Care and Keeping of You is an excellent book and I highly recommend it to all young girls. However (and this is not necessarily a bad thing), it has taught my eight-year-old the "V" word.

The "V" word is one of the hazards of being a mother of girls, as well as being a girl yourself. There is no neutral alternative to the "V" word either, and believe me I've searched for it my entire life. You either come across sounding like a semi-verbal two-year-old or the business end of 1-900-HOT-SEXX.

One of the things I contemplated upon first becoming a mother was how I would call all parts of the anatomy by their proper medical terms and approach all discussions of natural bodily issues with frank, unembarrassed honesty so that my children would grow up free of shame.

For the first years of my daughter's life, I pointedly avoided any nonsense names for the nether regions. In fact, I avoided any names at all. I realized this was a problem when daughter, a well-spoken six-year-old, got kicked in the crotch by another kid and yelled, "Ow, my pancreas!"

By then it was too late to introduce baby names, and I was going to have to teach myself how to say the "V" word without flinching. I asked her again where it hurt, and then said, trying for nonchalant: "You know, it's called your V. . . "

"My what?"

"You know! Your Vuh. . . Um. The thing that's connected to your bladder."

"Oh. Okay."

Later, I overheard her threatening the kid that if he ever kicked her in the bladder again, she'd rip out his pancreas. We were not quite there yet.

I bought her the above book recently because it is published by American Girl, the wholesome alternative to Barbie and pop culture for the 7-12 female demographic. It contains friendly, illustrated discussions of the proper way to brush your teeth, how to eat a balanced diet, and other wholesome, healthy things.

I stopped by daughter's room one evening while she was lounging on her bed turning the pages. I plopped down next to her and glanced at the headline on the page she was reading.


"Christ!" I shouted, and grabbed the book out of her hands.

I was slightly relieved to find that it was referring, Judy Bloom-style, to that time of the month… or as we like to say, her first visit from Aunt Flo. Healthy, normal body discussion, I told myself.

I handed the book back, and she continued reading. At one point, she pointed to a word and asked, "What's this word? Vaaaa...?"

"Yeah, that. It's the thing connected to your bladder."

Friday, September 05, 2003

Youngest daughter is the only one-year-old I know who has mastered the Sneeze Ritual.

When she sneezes, I tell her, "Bless you!" in a tone of voice that one might also use to exclaim, "Wow, your head just exploded!"
She says, "Think-oo!"
"You're welcome," I say.

When I sneeze, she points her finger accusingly at me and says, "Bahs-oo!" with the same undercurrent of threat she uses when she sees the cat on the kitchen table and shouts, "Dit DOWN!"
"Thank you!" I say.

She is a very thoughtful one-year-old.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

There are two things that will ruin just about any barbecue: bees and wetting your pants.

In my defense, I've never been stung by a bee and I could very well be so allergic to them that a simple sting would send me to fatal anaphalactic shock within minutes. Large swarms of bees are spooky, and bees crawling into my soda can remind me of the girl I knew in third grade who swallowed a bee, and the bee stung the back of her throat, and her throat swelled up so she couldn't breathe, and they had to cut a hole in her trachea so she could breathe through a hollow pen, just like that episode of M*A*S*H. (Well, it could have happened.)

Also, it is not my fault that I wet my pants. It is the fault of a giant, inflatable moon jump recreational thing, my co-workers' insistence that it would be fun to act like children, and the fact that I've given birth to two healthy, eight-pound babies.

I've often told my oldest daughter that when something unfortunate or embarrassing happens, you have every right to act like nothing's wrong. When you wet your pants in front of twenty of your closest coworkers, there is no reason to stop and exclaim, "Holy hell! I just wet my pants!"

In the same way, a third-grade girl with a pen in her trachea has every right to ignore the stares of onlookers and go right on picking bees out of her soda. If you don't draw attention to yourself, no one will even notice anything is out of the ordinary.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I don't like being told what to do. Especially when it's coming from peanut-headed little order takers who don't know what they're talking about.

Today's drama unfolds in the local post office, centering on an issue that has become very near and dear to my heart. For a variety of reasons, I refuse to sign the back of my debit card. This little card is the access point to all of the money in my checking account, and unlike a credit card bill that I can refuse to pay, an unscrupulous person with my debit card can simply TAKE all of my money. Therefore, since never in my adult life have I EVER seen a cashier check my credit card signature against the signature I provide, I feel that signing my debit card is equivalent to signing over all my money to some random stranger.

I don't want to do it, and you can't make me do it.

For years I just left the signature field blank and very rarely encountered any resistance. When asked, I simply offered my driver's license as proof of my identity. What a great plan! So much more secure than a signature. And so, I decided to print in the signature field, "Please ask for ID."

Since then, I've been asked for my ID from people who never seemed to care before, and that makes me feel wonderfully secure. They feel secure, I feel secure. It's a very secure transaction.

Apparently, the post office has no interest in security.

I walked up to the counter and asked for a simple book of stamps. I hand the man my card, and he takes it, asking whether it's credit or debit. When I tell him debit, he immediately asks if I want any cash back. I decline. Then he flips over my card.

"Whoa, uh…"

"Oh, right," I say, reaching for my ID.

"I'm sorry, we can't accept unsigned cards."

"Well, my signature is on my driver's license. Let me get that out for you."

"The card itself has to be signed."

"But my name is on the card, which matches my driver's license, which has my photograph AND my signature."

"You have to sign your card," he says, pointing vaguely to a "NO CID" notice at the counter.

"So you're saying that if I sign it right now, I could go ahead and use it?"

"That's right."

"But then ANYONE could do that! How do you know I'm who I say I am? How do you know you didn't just offer some random stranger a book of stamps with cash back from MY checking account?"

"I'm sorry…"

"Okay, fine. I'll use my credit card." I hand him my signed credit card, which he flips, scans, and then hands back to me.

I take it, then hesitated. "You're not going to check it?"

"Um, I did."

"You looked to see that the back is signed. You didn't check it against my signature on the receipt. You have no idea whether the signatures will match. If they don't match, will you decline this transaction?"

"Um, we just have to have a signed card."

At this point I realized what I was dealing with. There was no battle to be won here, he just didn't care. He was doing what he was told until his next bathroom break, and when he came back he'd do what he was told some more. I was looking to the eyes of apathy, and before me stretched a vast, bleak expanse of not giving a shit.

Well, okay. Seems like a good time to redirect my frustration and pay a call to Pamela, the Spineless Insurance Adjustor Who Won't Return My Calls Because She Owes Me a Settlement Check for my Totaled Car.

I think I feel a latent spinal injury coming on…
There are many things that are wrong with today. Following are the highlights.

--the color red--
I pieced together an outfit this morning based on two shades of red, having no idea whether they are compatible or not, because I am colorblind. But don't tell anyone. I'm hiding my colorblindness from folks in the design department who will soon be instrumental in helping me modify my job description to include graphic design. Is that twisted or what!

--my subconscious--
I'm having recurring dreams in which people I work with are urging me to open up, take risks, reach out to others, and make friends. To my subconscious, I say: Shut up. Why can't you just make nice with the disembodied voices? They're not so bad. Now go back to your box and leave me alone.

--bad weather--
Two sweaters later, I'm still shivering. When rain causes the temperature to plummet from 80 to 60 outside, somehow our building misses the memo and keeps churning out frigid air until somebody kicks it (it's always me…)

--another survey--
I've got news for you, mister corporate communications. I don't know what our company's long term goals are, and I don't give a rat's patoot. And the next time you ask me to fill out a 30-minute long electronic survey about how you're doing, it had better prompt a secret door in my computer to open and spill forth unending Hershey's Kisses.

--your commute--
No matter HOW difficult it was for you to drive into work today, believe me I couldn't care less. I'm sure the traffic was miserable. I'm sure you left your house over two hours ago. I sympathize. Really. Okay, not really. We all drove in the same traffic and the same weather conditions, and you are not special for having done so.

Monday, August 25, 2003

I'm becoming one of those people who, when given lots and lots of challenging, high-profile work with an unreasonable deadline, just says "eff it!" and goes home in the middle of the day, sits in front of the TV with a big bowl of butterscotch pudding, and re-watches the extended DVD of Fellowship of the Ring.

I was disappointed this morning to find all of the work still waiting for me, not even slightly more finished than when I'd left it.

There's a reason for my uncharacteristic slacking, and that reason may shock and offend many readers. But I'm prepared to present that reason right here, in this public blogging forum, so that the truth may be told.

You see… I'm an inch and a half shorter than I initially thought.

I don't know how or when I determined my height years ago. After a certain point at the doctor's office (around the time they stop giving you stickers and Arrowroot cookies when you behave yourself) they stop measuring you at every appointment. They don't stop weighing you, though. Ironically. I suppose at some point I got it into my head that I was five feet and eight inches tall.

This is not the truth. I am only five feet and seven inches tall. And that "seven" is a generous seven. But I will call it seven in the same way that all numbers on the scale below fives are rounded down.

So while I'm sitting here figuring out how to relate to myself as short, fat, and lazy, you can ponder the most logical conclusions to be drawn from this sad epiphany: butterscotch pudding tastes best with a little dollop of Cool Whip stirred in, and blogging makes you short.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

This past weekend, the kids and I were playing out in the yard. The littlest one was scooting with difficulty through the grass on a little Radio Flyer trike, absorbing a few lessons about the physics of surface drag. The oldest was wandering around looking sullen.

"We need a swing set out here," I observed.

Oldest gave me a "thank-you-Captain-Obvious" look. "Swings, slide, sandbox, and trapeze."

"Clubhouse," I one-upped.

"Treehouse," she countered.

We do have the perfect, kid-friendly tree in our yard that's been begging for some interaction. "We could hang a rope ladder from that tree, build a platform around the lowest branches, and put a trap-door down to a tire swing…"

I was suddenly caught up in memories of the slapped-together playgrounds of my youth. My dad, who went through disposable cars quicker than a pack of matches (as a form of recreation), would periodically go out into the yard and slap something together for us. He'd hang an old tire from a rope, sling it over a branch, and call it fun. He'd nail some spare lumber to a tree and viola! Fort.

I'm surprised any of us kids survived.

But thinking back made me realize that you didn't necessarily have to buy a swing in order to have one. We just needed some rope.

So we went out and bought rope. Don't judge me. Honestly, if we'd had rope just lying around, we would have used the lying-around rope.

* * *

Step two was to somehow flip one end of the rope over the sturdiest branch. The most favorable branch happened to be 12 feet above us. I looked at Oldest.

"You climb the tree," I told her. "I'll throw this rope up to you, and you'll drop it down over the other side.

"I'll fall," she replied, as if logic were clearly on her side and I should be hauled off to parenting prison for even suggesting it.

"I'll catch you."

"Make the baby do it," she suggested.

The baby looked up hopefully from her struggle with the trike, her eyes alight with the promise of danger. "Ab TEE!" she squealed, which meant: "Give me the rope. I shall hold it thusly between my six teeth whilst I scurry to the top of the tree with the alacrity of a young squirrel. Now move out of my way!"

I looked back at Oldest. "Ascend the tree."

* * *

Rope secured, we had only to invent a seat for our swing. Initially, I entertained the idea of just tying a large knot at seat-level. Mom tested it. Do you have any idea how many muscles it takes to support a grown person's weight dangling from a rope? I will tell you: All of them. One becomes acutely aware of the fact that one is no longer a 52-pound 8-year-old in such a situation.

We scoured the garage and shed for seating materials, all the while I was asserting, "I will NOT purchase a prefab plastic swing seat. I will NOT." Running to the store at this point would have cheapened the whole endeavor. We were engrossed in a real-life learning activity. This was innovation in action. I was teaching my kids to be clever, creative, persistent, and resourceful.

"Look for something we can use for a seat," I told Oldest, all the while thinking that the perfect seat was sitting in a package on a Toys R Us shelf, constructed of molded plastic. In lieu of it, we tried a piece of lumber (the corners were too sharp), a stick (too flimsy), PVC (too slippery), a knotted towel (too droopy), and countless other failed materials.

In the end, resourcefulness paid off. Oldest shouted, "HEY!" from the corner of the garage and I looked up to see her waving a foam "noodle" that we used for swimming. This noodle was firm enough to serve as a support while still providing squishy, butt-hugging comfort.

Now my children can look back fondly on this adventure and tell their children about the swing Mom built.

Noodle-on-a-rope, they'll call it. And their children will cringe.

Monday, August 11, 2003

We are rapidly approaching a level of sophisticated e-living. By this I mean that I may never have to shop for clothing outside of an online catalog again.

I haven't lived 27 years of life without uncovering certain truths about my wardrobe choices. Let's look at these facts:

  • I know what size I wear.

  • I never pay more than $15 for a pair of pants.

  • Mixing earth tones with jewel tones is wardrobe suicide.

  • Although this would seem to peg me as the ideal online shopper, I recently made my very first major online clothing purchase. A catalog came in the mail, addressed to the house's former mistress. (I should add that we're also still getting the previous mister's Victoria's Secret catalogs, so I've since confronted and dealt with any oogy feelings about catalog contents and their intended recipients.) This particular catalog contained an extensive clearance section with many pairs of pants under $15. Many were in fact under $10. And a few were under $5!

    This was clearly an avenue of purchase worth exploring. So, in true anal-retentive fashion, I armed myself with a stack of post-it notes and proceeded to flag every item I would consider wearing. I believe I flagged at least 500 items. I then made lists. Many, many lists. I listed by price and by season, by color and body region. Every item was justified, rationalized, and closely scrutinized.

    I ordered close to 20 pieces of clothing and spent $81.40, shipping included, after mining the various coupon codes and promos.

    Now when my new $5 blouse is stained with Koolaid-laced baby kisses, I'll consider it $5 well spent.

    Wednesday, August 06, 2003

    I've apparently reached a point in my life where right now at work looks a lot like this time last year. I came across this, which I wrote about a year ago...

    < July 22, 2002 >
    And without warning, work has ground to a screeching halt.

    I'm still in panic mode. I'm still in "write this 12-page brochure in 5 minutes" mode. So I had one project left on my desk that was supposed to last me all week. It's done. I'm bored. And the week is stretching out ahead like a few hundred miles of dead Kansas flatlands.

    I want to be busy. It's not that I have any unusually strong work ethic, or that I'm opposed to killing time on the clock. But I can't look like I'm bored, and I can't ask for more work. If I did, my boss would either a) give me busywork, or b) downsize me. Neither sounds like more fun than I could devise on my own. So here's my list of scheduled activities for a typical day this week:

    8:30-9:45 Log in, check email, check web email, check alternate web email, respond to emails, check hits counter on site, check hits on alternate site.

    9:45-10:00 Attempt to doctor the office coffee with varying amounts of Folgers Cafe Latte mix so it reaches acceptable drinkability levels.

    10:00-10:15 Scavenger-like, wander around the building looking for departments who have brought in bagels, donuts, leftover birthday cake, etc.

    10:15-10:17 Duck into a bathroom stall and consume findings before anyone wonders who I am and why I'm eating their department's food... or judges me for eating cake with my fingers.

    10:17-11:00 Head back to office and open various Word documents, arranging them on my screen so they look important. Lay out several printed drafts on my desk and mark them up with arrows and margin edits. Stick cryptic post-it to computer that says, "Mtg JB 11am - br. WBS htst!"

    11:00-1:00 Lunch.

    1:00-3:30 Blog, blog-hop, toss a few emails, surf sites of interest, post on message boards.

    3:30-4:30 Rifle through scheduled jobs to double check that nothing is due before October. Yep, still caught up. Ah. Contemplate leaving early.
    < / July 22, 2002 >

    Let the eggshell-finish latex begin.

    Tuesday, August 05, 2003

    Surprise.... it's green. Or brown, or orange. Whatever.

    I was thinking of painting a few rooms in my house but can't get over the initial fear of botching it. So I've made a mess of my blog to prove to myself that mistakes are fixable.

    I'll fix it tomorrow. Right now I'm going to leave work and embark upon the peril that is driving. Please, please, if you see me on the road... just don't hit me.

    Monday, August 04, 2003

    In the spirit of our current "top 5" format, I'd like to offer the five most annoying occurrences of recent days.

    1. Driving home, minding my own business, and rather enjoying a piece on NPR's All Things Considered about the history of home economics, when suddenly my progress is rudely impeded by two crackheads in a "borrowed" car.
    2. Missing the conclusion of All Things Considered.
    3. Hearing my newly repaired $2000 air conditioning system, not even a month old, hissing its dying, smoking breath through the shattered vents.
    4. Having your well-intentioned family poking at your most impressive bruise every five seconds to see if the swelling has gone down.
    5. Learning that the crackheads were driving a "borrowed" car without insurance.

    But just so as not to begin the week on a down note, here are the corresponding five highlights of the event.

    1. Having a very thoughtful (and attractive) young man offer me the use of his cell phone, and accepting his offer to dial the number for me.
    2. Seeing one of the crackheads arrested at the scene.
    3. Pretending that the large, spidering crack in my windshield that I've been meaning to fix for nearly a year must have been caused by the other car.
    4. Not feeling required to use my nasally "sick" voice when I called my boss to tell her why I wasn't coming in to work the next day.
    5. Glancing down at my copy of the police report and learning that I'd just been assisted by – none other than! – Officer Money.

    Tuesday, July 29, 2003

    10 ways in which scratching a poison ivy rash is like teenage sex:

    1. You know you're not supposed to do it.
    2. You really, really want to do it.
    3. You've read about all the scary consequences of doing it.
    4. You know people who have done it and nothing bad happened to them.
    5. You think about doing it every minute of every day.
    6. It wakes you up at night.
    7. The more you try to put it out of your mind, the more you want it.
    8. You scratch just a little bit, and before you know it you get carried away and scratch the entire thing.
    9. Nothing has ever felt as good as scratching that itch in the heat of the moment.
    10. As soon as you realize what you've done, you instantly regret it.

    A quick note to anyone who arrived here through a Google search for "teenage sex." Please go away because you are a pervert.

    If you were looking for "poison ivy sex"... well, best of luck with that.

    Monday, July 28, 2003

    Today's tale: In which The Ivy exacts its revenge.

    I've never had poison ivy before. I didn't know how dead serious my Girl Scout leader was when she told me, "Leaves of three, let it be!"

    Book the First
    The first time my younger brother came over to our newly purchased house, he pointed out a section of the yard and remarked on the nice crop of poison ivy. That can't be poison ivy! I thought. The illustrations of poison ivy plants in my Girl Scout Handbook are very small and leafy. These large stalks are nearly as tall as the trees growing nearby. Besides, little brothers are stupid.

    The Ivy narrowed its eyes and waited.

    Book the Second
    "We ought to do something about those weeds along the fence," said husband.

    Book the Third
    Wearing nothing more than a tank top and shorts (and a pair of gardening gloves, to be on the safe side), I removed the weeds. It was quite satisfying work, pulling them up by the roots and watching the pile accumulate. When I was done, the fence looked fabulously weed-free and I called over oldest daughter to help me stuff the weeds into yard waste bags.

    She whined her way out of it. I gathered up big bunches, and The Ivy clutched and caressed my exposed skin as I carried it across the yard to the bags.

    Book the Fourth
    "What do you suppose this small, reddish bump on my arm could be?" I asked myself.

    I could have sworn I heard the echo of The Ivy's voice answering, "Why, you're looking down the barrel of 3 weeks of misery, my ivy-pulling little friend. And just when you think it's going away, a rash will sprout up somewhere else. You'll never be rid of us!"

    I'm never going out in my yard again, never never again. And I've also arranged to have the first layer of my skin surgically removed and replaced with a synthetic material that's impervious to all allergens and irritants.

    The End

    Thursday, July 24, 2003

    This is a comment about nature and how unfortunate it is that it doesn't come packaged in individually sealed wrappers for our convenience and safety.

    Daughter and I were out pulling weeds in the yard yesterday, which is a surefire way to eradicate any warm feelings you might have toward grass, plants, and live things in general. After an hour or so of itchy, sweaty work, we decided to go inside for a snack. And on our way inside, we passed one of our trees which has been working on growing plums for the past few months.

    "Are those ripe yet?" asked Daughter.

    I smiled a condescending mom smile and started to explain that those were yard plums. The kind that grow on trees, not the kind we eat.


    While I respect the tree's efforts, it just never occurred to me that these little nuggets of juicy, pulpy goodness were the same sort of things for which I routinely pay around $2.00 per pound at the local grocery. For some reason, the produce in the store is clean. Pre-bagged, priced, and neatly stacked. So far removed from its natural, free-growing state that it seems to have more in common with the boxed cereal in aisle 4 than the potted mums you'd see in the floral department.

    Yes, that's right. Plums DO grow on trees. And so do other so-called fruits and vegetables. In the dirt, surrounded by air, and crawled on by bugs. It's from this filthy, sordid past that the produce is plucked, cleaned up to look respectable, and warned never to mention its roots in polite company.

    So, feeling foolishly urban and out-of-touch with the fine, fertile planet of my birth, we picked some of the ripe plums, washed them, and sliced them up. (I'll admit, I had to pretend I'd just bought a pound of them at Schnuck's in order to ward off the fear that they would erupt into germy, wormy, sliminess as I cut into each one.) And by Demeter, if they weren't the best darn plums we'd ever tasted.

    Then Dad came into the kitchen and exclaimed in horror, "You're not eating the plums from the tree, are you?"

    Tuesday, July 15, 2003

    Grandma colored her hair black and always wore bright red lipstick even though she rarely got out of bed. Her legs hurt from arthritis. And so her bedroom was the living room, and at family gatherings, holidays, and Sunday visits, her grandchildren would pile onto her bed and watch TV with her, snuggling deep into her soft, Opium-scented grandma-ness.

    Above her bed for as long as I can remember there was a picture she'd painted years ago of a forest landscape. "Let's take a walk in the forest," she'd say, and with two fingers as legs, we'd play hide-and-seek behind trees, swim in the stream, and stop to pet a baby deer.

    Grandpa kept pigeons and rabbits behind the house. You could follow him out to feed them if you stayed out from underfoot and didn't touch any of the droppings on the cages. Passing the two-liters of diet Pepsi stacked by the back door (Grandpa was diabetic, and I hated diet soda), you'd be met by the strong smell of bird feathers and rabbit food as he pushed open the creaky metal door.

    Many years later, I learned that the rabbits weren't exactly pets, and the "alligator stew" Grandpa made didn't exactly have alligator in it.

    But on ordinary Sundays, if you were hungry Grandpa would boil you a hot dog. No matter what time of day, and no matter how much your mother objected that you had just eaten.

    And if you were bored, Grandma would lead you into the back bedroom, which was stuffy in the summer and cool in the winter. And she would clear off her art table, setting out real artist paper, watercolors, and expensive brushes. If you asked for crayons, you were given pastels or colored pencils. And whatever you created was given an "honest" artistic critique. "Well," said Grandma every time, with her eyebrows drawn into serious consideration. "This is marvelous use of color. Your lines are very clear and your figures have wonderful shape. This is very good work!" It made me giggle with pride every time.

    When I was in high school, Grandma gave me a box of her art supplies, explaining that she was old and her legs hurt, and she didn't think she'd use them anymore. I remember feeling annoyed with her. At 16, I was immersed in creating and studying art. Art was everything. You didn't just give your paints away, that was like giving up on living. I refused to take them, but she insisted. So I kept them in the box and refused to use them.

    Grandma died Friday. After her funeral, I didn't go to the gravesite. I went home. I got out her box of paints and her brushes. I noticed that a fan brush was stained pale blue from the last painting she'd done – a landscape that now hung in the hall of my parent's house. I decided to paint the girls' names on their bedroom doors surrounded by flowers and other girly things.

    Four hours into the project, it occurred to me that I could have spent that afternoon doing anything I wanted. And instead of painting in my new studio, or playing the piano, or journaling, or doing anything for myself, I wanted to do something nice for my kids. I wanted to make them smile, even for an instant. That's the reasoning, I suppose, behind why I am in possession of Grandma's paints in the first place.

    Tuesday, June 24, 2003

    Eight years ago I looked into the newborn eyes of my baby daughter and became her mother forever.

    Eight years ago I couldn't have conceived of the beautiful child I saw this morning when I woke her up by smoothing the hair from her damp, sleepy forehead and patted her on the shoulder.

    She groaned and pushed my hand away without opening her eyes. "Go away," she muttered. "I'll get up when you leave."

    I remember when she used to bounce up on her knees and peek at me through the bars of her crib every morning, grinning and stretching out her arms to me.

    "Happy birthday," I reminded her.

    I saw her smile to herself, as if maybe she had until that moment forgotten.

    My oldest child's birthday will always be significant as the day in time that I crossed over. Nothing was only about me anymore, and nothing about me mattered quite as much as the child that was mine.

    I cried when she was born, and I wept for hours afterward at all the wonder and magic of childbirth, of looking into the beautiful, wide eyes of another soul. But the realization that this soul would call me mother, that would come later.

    There was an almost painful sense of separateness and apprehension that first night when I sat on the edge of my bed, unpregnant, looking down at her asleep in the basinet. Was it safe to look away? Would she still breathe if I didn't anticipate every breath? Could I set aside the awareness of her tiny heart beating beneath her tiny ribs, and would it still beat?

    That feeling nags at the heart of mothering, I think. Constantly wavering between astonishment that your child moves and thinks on her own, and the worry that she should move more, think more.

    The baby that she was smiled when I coaxed her to smile and ate when I urged her to eat. She walked early, talked clearly, slept well, and very rarely cried or complained. Then I found out that easy babies turn into complicated children. My bright, thoughtful toddler disliked getting her hands dirty with finger paint and didn't run and play with the sense of adventure I saw in other toddlers.

    My eight-year-old child is complicated and perfect. Complex and unpredictable and moody and brilliant. And her mother is simply background in her life, hopefully as unremarkable and constant as her own skin, and as comforting as the soft blanket she curls up with at the window during a rainstorm.

    That's what I want to be forever.

    Monday, June 16, 2003

    Footnote to previous blog.

    You should be aware that when you read "library-slash-study" your mind should translate it as "library/study". Get it? "slash" = "/". NOT: Library wear ski mask and hide behind tree in park at midnight, while waiting for study to walk home alone.

    I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

    Friday, June 13, 2003

    Thanks to all who wrote in with suggested uses for my empty living room. I'm happy to announce that a decision has been reached.

    Though it does have some appeal, we will not be incorporating Reader A's idea for a kiddie roller rink atop the hardwood floors of which I am reasonably proud. Nor do we have the resources to install oversized aquarium tanks, as Reader B proposed, in order to house an exhilarating assortment of colorful fishies.

    Instead, with my parents' generous donation of the piano I grew up with, the living room has embarked on its journey toward being made over into a library-slash-study. What does a library-slash-study have to do with pianos?


    We just really liked the library idea, okay?

    And pianos don't generally belong in libraries, but the living room has nice acoustics, so when someone is playing the piano it will be referred to as the study.

    Because technically music is a subject to be studied. Or something.

    Thursday, June 05, 2003

    There is no arbitrary value in human life.

    There is value in what that life can mean to other lives. Its value is potential. It is the risk of never knowing what might have been.

    The delinquent boy in fifth grade might cure cancer, so we keep him. Investing resources, tax dollars, sweat and effort, until he fails one test too many and we discard him to become a drunken, wife-beating auto mechanic who smells of axel grease and cigarette smoke, who leers too long at little girls passing his shop on their way to school. To the little girls' mothers, to the cancer patient quietly dumbfounded by the diagnosis in the leather chair of a physician's office, his life has no value.

    But his value to the young lady with the malfunctioning transmission is immeasurable.

    Were he to have been killed when his wife, tears streaming and bruises darkening, lifted an unsteady pistol and threatened to end it, the young lady might have been stranded for hours on the side of the highway in her light pink dress and white heels.

    Value. It is measured by what will be lost when a person is gone – dies or withers away in stifling loneliness and self-imposed solitude. In fear of connecting with others and in fear of not connecting.

    "You mean nothing to me," says the young lady's lover, and she is nothing.

    Monday, June 02, 2003

    I remember why I stopped posting for so long. Blogger. It pains me.
    As illustrated in the mention below about "swiffering" with my new Swiffer WetJet, I've become more aware of products that are household-naming themselves right into my practical vocabulary. Maybe it's because I work in advertising and the psychology of consumers amuses me. Anyway, I'm talking about brands that become generalized to mean THE THING, such as "a Kleenex" instead of a tissue, or...

    Okay, I admit that's the only example I can think of. All I can think of are Kleenexes because I have a cold. My nose is stuffy and I need a damn Kleenex. I don't have any Kleenexes at my desk. So I'm blowing my nose into paper towels, which is about as much fun as washing your face with sand paper. And what the hell is the plural of Kleenex? Kleenices? It's a freaking brand name. It doesn't have a plural. That's my whole point.

    Friday, May 30, 2003

    I woke up this past Sunday with a respectable number of household chores to accomplish, such as:
  • Swiffer kitchen floor and wood floors in living room, hallway, and den.
  • Clean bathrooms.
  • Unpack various boxes of miscellaneous stuff.
  • etc.

    Instead, I found myself spending hours on my hands and knees in the living room scrubbing and cursing at what appeared to be many years' worth of sticky shoe filth.

    It began innocently enough, with a quick swiffering. The more I swiffed, the stickier the floor seemed to get. So I tested a corner of the floor with some Old English (which made me feel very much like a sexy young maid cleaning the floor of some rich elderly gentleman named Chesterfield who leered at me from the hallway while puffing lasciviously at his pipe.). I soon discovered that the mellow dusky brown of the wood was NOT in fact the wood's actual color. I scolded Chesterfield for smoking in the house and spend the rest of the afternoon unleashing a brilliant, gleaming, golden shine from the floorboards.

    I'm thankful that we have no furniture in our living room yet. As it is, I not only have unhindered access to obsessive polishing stints, but also a perpetual blank slate of a room on which to project various Surprise by Design and Trading Spaces fantasies. (I believe that Fluid Pudding and I are the perfect candidates for Trading Spaces. New home owners, recent babies, tight mates living within scant miles of each other? Make my day.)

    Did you ever move into a new house as a young kid and wander through the empty rooms planning what you would do with each one? I remember being bitterly disappointed when my parents cluttered my lovely mirrored dress-up room (dining room) with tables and chairs. This time I don't have to give it up right away. There are so many things you can do with a living room that grown-ups never consider.

    Library. (Credit to husband for the idea) We'll line the walls with tall bookcases and dark leather chairs. I have to admit, the only downside I see here is that bookcases and leather furnitures is 'spensive.

    Dance studio. I'd just need to install a bar (or is it barre? )and a wall-sized mirror (mirrorre?)… well, and also hope that with anorexia comes coordination and grace.

    Art gallery. Perhaps we'll set up exhibit tables and hang paintings with little white plaques that tell you the name of the piece and the artist and the medium. During times of slow production, I'll invite all of my hypothetical artist friends to have showings. And charge admission.

    Musical auditorium. Me. A piano. And a microphone. Live! Oh, and of course we'd have to build a stage and install stadium seating. I don't see a problem with that.
  • Thursday, May 22, 2003

    To: All St. Louis Employees
    Subject: Ice Machine

    Good morning all,
    In case you were not aware.  The ice machine in the cafeteria has been fully sanitized due to the squirrel that was caught in the machine last week.
    Thank you

    Let us have a moment of silence for the poor damn squirrel who unwittingly found its way into the Ice Pool of Grinding Death, and for the poor fools who thought it safe to dispense a tall glass full of Frozen Fur.

    Holy hell.

    May that squirrel haunt this building for all the rest of its fuzzy little eternity.

    Thursday, May 15, 2003

    First of all, I'd like to apologize for my web absence (the opposite of a web presence). It was unavoidable. As I foolishly ignored the squeaking of the weasel, part of the weasel actually corroded and fell off. (Poor fella.) It was tragic, but I think appropriate repairs have been made.

    As you may or may not be aware, my wonderful husband and I have purchased a house. In the short term, the transition has robbed him of Internet access and the ability to remain connected to both business and blog. In the long term, it will provide our growing family with a large back yard of grass in which to roll and trees in which to climb, space in which to store household essentials, separate rooms in which the children can sleep, and more!

    Oh yes, there's more.

    Behind the garage is a secret room. Not exactly in the Lion/Witch/Wardrobe sense… in fact, the room is actually an addition to the garage which, until we took possession, was the workshop of an amateur auto mechanic-slash-car restoration guy. It held a stinky, dirty old car and oodles of tool-like things. Scary tools that spewed flame and spark, and hissed when strangers walked by. All I know is that it's gone now, and the above-mentioned wonderful husband has promised this room to ME.

    You see, when first we walked through this house and discovered the workshop, husband looked at me and I looked at him. "This is your art studio," he said to me. "I love you," I replied. Faeries danced, roses bloomed, music swelled, and I was home. On our way out, I placed my palm against the cool, smooth, dirty wood paneling of that room and I whispered, "I will unburden you of this axel-greased, exhaust-fumed existence. I will return, and when I do, I will bring linen curtains, wood shelving, and proper drywall coated with cheerful paint! I will scrape tire tread from your floor and lay down soft, pile carpeting. Wait for me, and do not abandon hope!"

    When we moved in, the room served as a staging area for unpacked boxes, but within a week husband was at work in the room – an entire Saturday devoted to stacking, storing, moving, and piling things out of my way. He carefully lined boxes of my art supplies along one of the walls. When he was done, I nearly wept with glee. "You see!" I whispered to the room. "You were meant to hold easels and acrylics. This is your true calling."

    The room smiled.

    I'm home.