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3 kittens

Keep it short

Posted on 2014.04.19 at 10:23
Good riddance to this fucking week. I can't remember when I've been so ill. Hokey Pokey got a cough and felt awful for a day. Hawaii and Ace seemed to catch it, but barely. I spent the week completely knocked out. I did not get out of bed from after work on Wednesday until Friday (except I did, but I didn't want to.)

Monday and Tuesday were probably the worst. I wanted to stay in bed, but my Official Administrative Program had its external site review, where people from other universities come to visit for two days and learn your program inside and out, and give you feedback.  The site reviewer was very nice and I enjoyed her, but I also felt like the shit end of a stick.

Other times I coughed until I threw up. New experiences! I can't remember feeling so completely decimated.

Today Hawaii is five! I have not yet seen her, because Jammies took the big kids camping for the night. Tuesday Ace is one!

The cat just hopped on my lap and smeared poop on my arm. Good times. Better me than the furniture.

3 kittens

Representing the data

Posted on 2014.04.12 at 14:38
Today I shall brag about the children.

1. About a month ago, Hawaii said "Mom, this is going to make a mess but just listen. I want to organize all my books and make a list of all their titles and..." this point I hollered for Jammies, because he is highly organized, and Hawaii is highly organized for a four year old, and they can step inside each other's brains more easily than I can.

She spent the better part of the weekend copying the names of her books into a multipage document like so:

April 12, 2014 (1)

On the first day afterwards, Hawaii fetched "Unexpected Africa" for us at story time.  "Ok," we thought, "this is the game - she wants to read each of her books an equal number of times."  This is not unprecedented - she has a similar system for her closet.

The next night, she got "Unexpected Africa" out again, and we balked, because it is a terrible book. (It's central conceit: forty vignettes of savannah animals doing western activities. Lifeguard lions telling cheetahs and antelopes to WALK! because they're poolside. Animals getting hyper-caffeinated from coffee, getting stuck in traffic jams, rhinos in ballet shoes, etc. The captions are inevitably twice or thrice too long, littered with weak puns.)

Jammies and I said, "We read Unexpected Africa last night. What's next?" Hawaii said that she only crossed out the letter "U". We had to read it fifteen more times, you see, to get through all the letters.  I don't know why, but we did, for the next two weeks, read Tails of Unexpected Africa every goddamn night.

Now we are currently one week into a charming poem book about a girl-pirate. I think I have it memorized.

2. Yesterday, the kids said "We want to show you our science experiment."
They had eight assorted balls lined up on the couch, and this piece of paper:

April 12, 2014 (2)

Hawaii explained: Each ball corresponds to a line on the database, and each line shows the trajectory or behavior of the corresponding ball, when a force was applied to it. Possibly I'm paraphrasing.  (The real given explanation: "This ball goes like THIS!" [gesturing, pointing to the picture, acting it out, etc.])

Look at these kids, running trials and representing the data pictorially!  I felt pride and hubris.

Good things:

  • I'm sitting between two open windows on a beautiful day, and the whole house feels like a tree house because there is so much fresh air and visible foliage.

  • Jammies takes care of me. Every night I go to bed more or less at the same time as the kids. He does the dishes and the laundry and way more than his fair share, in general.

The bad:

  • I am so goddamn tired and awful feeling. I should have four more weeks of feeling this shitty. There are only three more weeks of classes, before finals.  I am seriously struggling to hang in there. There is nothing to do except do it.

Suck it up, Heebster

Hawaii and Hokey Pokey have abruptly reached the stampede stage of childhood.  When they are wound up, their rambunctiousness is now colossal. They wrestle like thrashing, whipping, ...I can't resolve this metaphor. Hornets nests? Bulls in china shops? Tasmanian devils? They would be illustrated with a blurry single ball of motion, with random legs sticking out akimbo and fists flailing.

I find it overwhelming, but maybe that's the first trimester talking.

It says Let Me Rest

Last summer, our friend said, "Use this swim instructor. She's absolutely magical. My daughter was swimming within two weeks."  Our experiences with group swimming lessons is that the kids have not learned how to swim whatsoever.

This summer, we contacted the sainted swim instructor. The swim instructor said that we should sign our kids up for ISR lessons. ISR stands for "Infant Safety Rescue". We dutifully checked out the website.

ISR lessons are:
a. ten minutes a day.
b. five days a week.
c. six weeks of hell.
d. $600 per child

I texted my friend, at the Old Settler's music festival, spending five days presumably stoned out of her gourd:
"Did you guys do the ISR program for [your daughter] last year with that swim instructor? Or just regular lessons?"
She wrote back, "That lady is magic!"
Me, "Did it cost $600? ISR is $600."
She wrote back, "Magic is expensive! but our girls are older and cheaper."
Me, "Hawaii is the same age! Did you do a class that was 10 minutes a day, five days a week?"
No answer. I felt a twinge of guilt for harassing my friend at Old Settler's.

Next day.
Me, "Ok for real: did you do a class that was 10 minutes a day, five days a week, for six weeks?"
She wrote, "Nope."
Me, "Oh thank fucking god."

I told the instructor that the logistics were not feasible for our family. Mostly I just cannot get over putting a bathing suit on your kid for ten goddamn minutes of rest, only to take the wet swimsuit off again, every single goddamn day. For $600.

3 kittens

Much Joan. So Rivers. Wow.

Posted on 2014.04.06 at 15:13
I suppose I should resolve the story from last week, but it has a happy ending, and I'm hyper-aware that people have trouble conceiving, or are having a perfectly normal time conceiving but that itself is frustrating, or are having severe problems conceiving, though those people have probably self-selected themselves away from this blog years ago.

I thought, "The last time I miscarried, I didn't start spotting for three or four weeks." So I decided to make a doctor's appointment. I told the ultrasound tech, "I think I was pregnant for about a day, and then miscarried, and I just want to know what's going on."

She checked, and said, "Oh, you're very pregnant." By which she meant about two months. Far enough along to see the heartbeat. But I'd had a recent period! A full-fledged, unmistakable period. Apparently this is a thing that happens to people, not terribly uncommonly.  Periodic bleeding while pregnant. Who knew.

I am very happy! This is great! But unexpected; I'd been steeling myself for bad news.

I think this part is funny: before the ultrasound, the tech asked why I thought I miscarried, and I said, "I'd been having first trimester symptoms, but then they went away."
She said, "That's really early to be feeling symptoms."
I said, "Yes, but I've been paying close attention."   Ha ha.

Here is my secret delight: the symmetry. Oh my god, the symmetry. I am beside myself with glee. Hawaii was born in April 2009, Hokey Pokey was November, 2010. Ace was April 2013. This one will be November 2014.  When I was pregnant with Ace, it felt like I was reliving my pregnancy with Hawaii. And now I get to re-live my pregnancy with Hokey Pokey. This is so fucking satisfying.

(How much do I like symmetry? One big reason that I hate getting massages is that inevitably the masseuse does not touch you with perfect symmetry, and the phantom spot - the mirror image of wherever they rubbed on one side but failed to perfectly duplicate on the other - that spot starts driving me crazy, to distraction. I start keeping track of all the ways the massage fails to be perfectly symmetric. It's not very relaxing.)(The other reason is that I don't like being touched.)(Aren't I less fun than a barrel of monkeys.)

Anyway: four kids, with internal patterns to their births. Wow. So symmetric. Much pattern. Very design.

While we're on the subject of babies: Ace, good lord. What a delight. She just wants you to sit on the floor with her, and she is so, so happy as she crawls in and out of your lap, pulls up on your shoulder, bounces, babbles. Just so happy until you try to get up and get something done.

(I meant to take a photo of Ace, but then she went down for a nap, so instead you get mesquite trees.)

I've been in Laredo for a conference, where it was 101° at first. The drive to Laredo was full of spring green low mesquite trees; very monotonous. (Such repetition. Wow.)

I did not explore the city. I was either at our hotel or the university. I might have enjoyed exploring, but it was not convenient and I'm so very tired, and Joan Rivers was on two different channels on cable TV. Simultaneously!

For the record: I like asymmetry just fine. What I can't stand is failed symmetry. If you're attempting a pattern, do it right for god's sake.

3 kittens

Diet Coke with no repulsion

Posted on 2014.03.30 at 21:14
It is said that most miscarriages happen before the woman even realizes she's pregnant - her regularly scheduled period is at most a day or so late. I, however, was paying attention. Last week I felt increasingly awful in that tell-tale first trimester way. I spent the week planning contingency plans for next winter, based on an early December due date. On Friday I took a pregnancy test and it was positive.

On Friday afternoon, I opened a diet coke and felt no repulsion.  I drank it. It dawned on me that I felt absolutely fine. And I have felt back to normal ever since. If I get my period tomorrow, then it will be exactly on time.

Easy come, easy go - the technical term is a "chemical pregnancy" if the turnaround is this quick, I think - but I still felt a touch of sadness.

This all happened during Geebie Family Day Weekend, at a rental house on Canyon Lake. A very well-labeled rental house - the coffee pot indicated that it didn't use paper filters, the light switches all explained themselves, the trash cans distinguished themselves from the recycling. I appreciated that. We were pampered: crown molding with its own lighting for when you want twilight in the bedroom. Whirlpool tub (that went untouched). Sinks with no basin - just a fancy stone slab, angled, with a crevice in the corner functioning as a drain. Plush bedding that reminds you that expensive bedding actually feels noticeably amazing.  (However, a house entirely floored with stained concrete is a pain in the ass, if you've got a baby whose skull you're protective of.  There were two very short flights of concrete stairs. "Turn around, Ace!" we clucked, concerned. "Go backwards!" we said, approximately two thousand times over two days.) They gave us two souvenir pint glasses with their family name on them.

We planted cheerios, and interviewed the kids. We harvested donuts in the morning, for breakfast.  We had hoards of friends join us for the party portion. I put on my party pants, and we fed them fajitas. I was distracted from the very, very quick demise of my pregnancy with some delicious sangria.  (There is a lingering question - what if I'm wrong? I do not like this uncertainty. It would be convenient if I just get my period, but it's also possible it won't return for a few weeks.)

Before we left, I put dish soap in the dishwasher, by mistake. That shit sure does cause a lot of suds, I now understand experientially. I apologized a lot to the owners.

3 kittens

Cackles with glee, etc.

Posted on 2014.03.23 at 19:56
Hokey Pokey:

  1. Wears his underpants backwards because he doesn't like the penis pocket

  2. Says, "poop, wake up! Don't take a nap, poop! Come out," when sitting on the toilet, in wait.

  3. Is sleeping in his car seat in the parking lot of HEB. He said "I want to stay in the car" and so I stayed behind with him, and then he promptly fell asleep. I'm writing this draft on my phone.

  4. Said "guys, one at a time. Underpants, you gotta go first. Pants, you're next," while pulling his pants up, after using the bathroom. This was not the same occasion as (B).

  5. Is forever my darling.

  6. Might not be amused in ten years that I told everyone how he doesn't like his penis pocket. Confidential to older Pokey: please, see (E).

  7. Obviously all of the above.

March 23, 2014 (3)

Grandma Collie and Hokey Pokey, in the birdcage chair, at dusk. (The deceptively dangerous birdcage chair, because idly twirling can unscrew the bolt, and you will crash to the floor, and then that ball on top will roll off the top arm, and clank you on the head, as punctuation for your foolishness.)

Hawaiian Punch:

  1. Says, "Let me see your pretty eyes!" in a cajoling manner, when I bury my face in my hands in exasperation. Inevitably it makes me laugh, which is totally counterproductive. Once I start laughing, it's dreadfully hard to accomplish whatever was exasperating me in the first place.  I often say, dryly, "I suppose we're making memories" as control of the situation slips through my fingers.

  2. Sees Pokey having fun, and wants to recreate that exact experience. You can't swoop in on Hawaii and swing her high in the air and zherbert her stomach. She will not enjoy the surprise, nor lack of agency, and will tensely shriek to be put down. But you can swoop in on Hokey Pokey, and so we do. He cackles with glee, etc, is very merry.

    Hawaii watches Pokey's reckless abandon, his carefree zest, and says "Now do that to me!" So you put down Pokey, and pick up Hawaii, and try to do the exact same thing. Inevitably, it is not perfectly recreate-able. You can't swoop in on the same river twice and zherbert it.  Inevitably, Hawaii gets a little heartbroken and busted and has a miniature - yet real - run-in with the angst of the immutability of one's core temperament.  I'm so sympathetic to her plight, and I can't fix it for her, but poor Hawaii. (For what it's worth, I was a child with Pokey's temperament, not Hawaii's.)

March 23, 2014 (1)

Matching skirts with Grandma Collie. No, Grandma Collie does not know she's being blogged. She would be hurt that I haven't shared this journal with her, but not at her presence on it. (I feel bad about not sharing this journal, because I know how much she'd love it. But, first, I tell no one. Second, Mom is not good at secrets. Third, I tell no one, and if you want something to stay a secret, you tell no one.)

Good afternoon, Morningside Nature Center:

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Swamps and sheep kept their distance from each other, as best they could within the same park.

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On the drive home, we stopped in Lake Charles, Louisiana, to play on a playground with a fire truck.  We did the drive home in one long stretch - wake up at 4 am, Eastern time, and pull into our driveway at 10:30 pm, Central time. One thousand miles, chump.

March 23, 2014 (7) March 23, 2014 (2)

Ace frolicked with the garden hoses.

3 kittens

To be friendslocked - my Hollywood vacation

Posted on 2014.03.18 at 14:02
I've been to Hollywood. We met Veronica Bell:


(I will friends-lock this before too long.)

Let's back up. First up: the La Brea Tar Pits, because I drove past them on my way to Airedale's hotel.

March 18, 2014 (2)

The La Brea Tar Pits are complete with life-size plaster mastodons mid-dying a slow, sticky death. The tar pits were bubbling holes and one tar pond, which were fenced off. The park is pretty smelly and fascinating, both.

March 18, 2014 (6) March 18, 2014 (3)

In a few grassy areas, tar had just erupted:

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The whole tree was splattered with tar from that one little hole. The hole was actively bubbling and oozing. It was not hot.

After that, we learned that Los Angeles really is not walkable, as we decided to explore and ended up mostly not getting anywhere. We did pass the CBS building, and were awash of contestants leaving a taping of The Price Is Right. A nice combination of kitchsy, local, and envious.  They were still wearing their nametags.

March 18, 2014 (7) March 18, 2014 (8)

Danielle, don't you want your nametag?

The next morning we hiked Runyan canyon, alongside some Herbalife enthusiasts, complete with transformational testimony at the peak. They all jogged past us on the way up the canyon, and we obligingly admired their stamina. Then at the peak, they sat in a circle, and took turns testifying how Herbalife had revolutionized their life.

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Herbalife aside, Los Angeles felt plenty normal. Maybe it's a matter of which suburbs you're in, but I was braced for plastic and silicone and beauty, and people looked pretty normal.

We got gussied up and went here:

March 18, 2014 (10) March 18, 2014 (11)

The movie was not-disappointing. Like a solidly entertaining episode.

Then we went to the cast party! We met Logan, who said "I like your dress" to me:

March 18, 2014 (13) March 18, 2014 (12)

That might have been the highlight of the whole evening.

We met Keith Mars, who was exceptionally charismatic:

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Dick Casablancas said, "I did one with teeth and one without. My cheeks are getting tired from smiling."  

March 18, 2014 (16) March 18, 2014 (15)

Dick later pulled a girl onto a table and danced for the crowd. When he was chided by security, he failed to understand how difficult it was going to be for the girl to dismount in 4" heels, and she kind of toppled.

We met Rob Thomas, and I said "I'm from your hometown!" Which is true. He graduated from the local high school.  He convincingly feigned enthusiasm.

March 18, 2014 (20)

There was Wallace and Hannah and Weevil and the kid from Freaks and Geeks, and the principal:

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Hannah was not actually in the movie, but I think she was sitting a few rows ahead of us, and maybe attended as a backer.

The trip now seems slightly surreal - what a fancy theater! At the after party, the cast treated us like beneficent financial backers, whose egos should be stroked, rather than gormless fans who should be tolerated. That was very kind of them, and made the party fantastically fun.

Now we are five hours in to a 16 hour drive. We just entered Louisiana. So far I prefer the drive to flying. The kids are on their third movie.

March 18, 2014 (26)

In Louisiana, they sell wine by the glass at the gas stations.

Then I put this entry aside for a few days. Now we are in Florida, where the fences say "Sinkhole in Enclosed Area - No Trespassing":

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It's been raining:

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WAIT HEEBIE, DON'T GO! What was the carpet like in the hotel?!

March 18, 2014 (1)

It was not bad!

3 kittens

Twin buckets of overcompensation

Posted on 2014.03.08 at 08:37
In a few years I'll have a mastectomy. (My second cousin called me a few weeks ago, and asked me about BRCA stuff. I last spoke to her in 1994, but it was oddly easy to chat about sex without breasts and our bodies and vaginal dryness, and how old we might be and still have babies. That's because I see on Facebook that she is a fullfledged commune-living soul with cuddling and purple linen clothes and Rainbow Gatherings, and it is very easy for me to relax around fullblown hippies. We also discussed holistic therapies, but I was an unforthcoming establishmentarian dud on that tip.)

My residual concern has been thus: would Jammies miss my breasts in bed, to an extent that I should get implants instead of going flat?

I am pretty sure that five years after surgery, I will be so used to whatever I look like that I will never think about it. Which would imply that I should just get implants, for his pleasure. But in the short term, I just don't want to get them. Jammies said "I would not want to get them, either. I'll miss them a little, they're nice, but there is no way in hell that that's a reason to get implants." He also pointed out that I'm not someone who uses them much in the bedroom. That he would miss them more if they'd played a bigger role in giving me pleasure. This was the first reassuring thing.

THEN I remembered this: conventional wisdom holds that men with small penises are great in bed, because they are extra-focused on compensating and making sure their partner has a great time, right? Maybe a touch of insecurity will make me a doubly-attentive, enthusiastic bucket of fun. And an enthusiastic bundle of overcompensation is probably a good time, even better than sullen, uncooperative breasts.

So the original plan - which at this point is a decade old - is still the plan. To have my mom draw a zoetrope of kittens and get them tattoo'd on my torso. Go on, google zoetrope. I'll wait.

On my drive yesterday, I had the following mindless thought scenario:
Hypothetical Surgeon: when we do mastectomies, it is absolutely the standard to also do some liposuction.
Me: What! I am not the type of person who would ever get liposuction.
Hyp. Surgeon: It is the standard. It is just what we do.
Me: Well, if it's the standard, and you promise I have no volition and free will, then that sounds awesome.

It was one of those ill-formed, nebulous scenarios where only afterwards do you realize what a massive dose of wish-fulfillment you just indulged. Oh, I could rid myself of back fat and stay true to my feminist ideals? Twist my arm.

On Tuesday I will fly to Los Angeles. There I will don my brown floral caftan and yellow heels and shmooze with La Kristen Bell and Enrico Colantoni and Lurker Airedale.

On Saturday, we will buckle the kids in the minivan and drive to Florida for Spring Break like responsible frugal parents. Sounds awful! Stay tuned.

3 kittens

Team A Knows More Plays

Posted on 2014.03.02 at 09:56
Hokey Pokey steals the show: "Mommy, I'm going to go waaaaaay over there" - we're in a big gymnastics warehouse, and he is pointing to the far side of the gym - "and run all the way back and give you a hug, okay?" This may be the most adorable thing that has ever happened to me: my three year old boy, twenty yards away, running at me with his arms out wingspan-style.

I held my arms out similarly, as directed, while chatting with other parents. Pokey ran and ran and ran, arms akimbo. When he arrived we had a big sweeping hug. Then he squirmed down so that we could do it again. I could play Long-Distance Hug all day long, for real.

Hawaii jraws conclusions:

Hawaii: guess what I did today. It starts with the letter J. Or maybe G.
Me: jump rope? Jelly beans? Juggle? [etc ad nauseum]
Hawaii: NO! I drew pictures for all my friends!
Me: that's great! What's the word that started with J?
Hawaii: "draw". J-j-jraw.

She's convincing! We do say jraw, don't we.

Then E. Messily explained to me (because I posted that dialogue to FB, but while Facebook records everything forever, I will never read my archives):

Phonemes (sounds, more or less) have, as features
what moves to make it (active articulator)
where the active articulator touches the rest of the mouth (place of articulation)
and some other things
but when you make two phonemes next to each other, some of the features from one can end up being made early or late
because of all the planning of muscle movements you're doing
when features from one thing show up in another thing, it's "assimilation"
when the feature in question is place of articulation, it's called "coarticulation"

Heebie Geebie: Does everyone say jraw? I'd never thought about it, but I definitely do. (I'm not interrupting your explanation.)

E. Messily: T and D, normally, are made with the tongue touching the very front of the mouth
R is made with the tongue curled backwards, and touching the roof of the mouth further back
so the "place" for T/D is "alveolar" and the "place" for R is "coronal"
and when you are planning to say tr or dr, you end up making the t or d with the tongue closer to the R position so it doesn't have to move as much
everyone pronounces them this way
but grownups have learned to mentally categorize the (slightly different sounding) ts and ds as regular so they don't hear the differences
kids who haven't finished learning the system (and/or who haven't figured out which sounds map onto which written letters) pay more attention to what their mouths are doing and what they're hearing
and, it turns out, if you make a T with your tongue farther back in your mouth, it turns into a ch

Heebie Geebie: Neat! Choo-choo-chrain.

E. Messily: except I didn't mean coronal, I meant postalveolar. I think. It's been awhile since I reviewed all the speech sound features.

Aren't they both adorable? I choo-choo-choose them.

Ace: I have a tooth!

March 2, 2014

That was a few weeks ago. Now it's tall and still isolated, Popeye-style. She yis what she yis.

It should be recorded how Hawaii dotes on Ace. Hawaii makes faces at Ace and wants hugs and cuddles. Ace is in full fledged game-wrecking age, and she grabs Pokey's, trucks to put them in her mouth, and shrieks bloody murder when he tries to reclaim them, and Pokey gets (rightly) upset. But Hawaii is indulgent. "You want my dollie," she coos, "but it's not for babies! No, it's not! Here," she suggests, "here is a baby toy!" Ace shrieks bloody murder anyway, as the swap happens, but Hawaii is an endlessly patient, devoted sister.

The Battle of the Marching Football Teams

Hawaii's piano book has a song called "The Football Game". The lyrics are
Team A marches up. Team B marches down.
Team A knows more plays, oh look their field goal wins the game!

Clearly this "football game" is actually a band competition, and then at the end the composer said "I need something to replace "judges' score". How do you score in football? Field goal? Done."

The composer may have attended many football games but only has the vaguest foggy about what happened during the sports-parts. I like this song.


We held our yearly calculus high school competition yesterday. The t-shirts said "2013! Third annual!" which is not true. I am so deeply ambivalent about this outreach massive competition that I end up never talking about it here. It is a shit-ton of work, and clearly there is a local appetite for such a competition - we had over one hundred teams compete in Round 1 this year. (Only the top ten teams came to Heebie U yesterday for the final round. Not all one hundred teams.)

I rely on students for help, but not other faculty members, which makes it tedious and frustrating to execute.

It occurs to me that this competition should feature a parallel conference, with sessions for calculus teachers where they can form a local community. This would be so much work that I want to curl up and forget I ever thunk it.

3 kittens

No tinkering.

Posted on 2014.02.23 at 08:00
Am I the only one who faces existential dread when spring taunts? Perhaps this is a Texas-sized jab at the top half of the country, freezing under their polar vortex, but I don't mean it that way.  Here, buds are appearing and temperatures are creeping dangerously close to 80°, and the sky is vast and blue.

It's the vast, blue sky of spring that somehow feels like a wretched abyss. It makes my commute feel like we're driving to the beach; isn't that ghastly? The dread is this: we wrapped up a year, and ended with a winter. We did all that work. And now a new year (and its correspondingly blue sky) is opening up, full of phony hopes and everyone will start making plans. A new year of failing to learn the same hard lessons. Oh no, here we go repeating ourselves and getting this phony blue hope-stuff again.  (This is not true despair. This is the sadly delicious and woeful kind that you savor.) Another fucking year of hopes to dash.

Die, hopes, die.

On Thursday morning, I shuffled the kids into the bathroom and put toothpaste on their toothbrushes. (I take both of their toothbrushes and put a single glob of toothpaste on them at the same time. Then I make the toothbrushes make out with each other - a la Barbie and Ken kissing passionately - until the toothpaste glob is shared equally. Hawaii and Hokey care very much who gets toothpaste first, and so I amuse myself and piss them both off.)(Aren't they old enough to put their own toothpaste on? They are old enough to sneak in the bathroom and chug toothpaste straight out of the tube. They have lost their toothpaste privileges.)(It's not the kind with fluoride.)

After the toothbrushes french kissed, the children began languidly chewing on their toothbrushes (it's what passes for brushing), and Pokey stopped to use the bathroom. From the toilet, he pointed out this two inch red hornet:

February 23, 2014 (3)

(Our hornets are organic.) It was crawling around in the light fixtures, over the mirror. Isn't it clever how adrenaline really does wash over you? Like you feel it on one end of your body, and the edge of the tide physically passes the length of your corporeal self, and you are awash? Very droll, Adrenaline.

I gathered the children and hurried them to the other bathroom. Pokey still needed to use the potty. Hawaii held her toothbrush. Pokey had left all his planes in the bathroom. (Ace was still asleep.) "Are you going to kill it? Do we need Daddy? Are you tall enough? Can it fly out?" they nattered on incessantly.

After getting them Sesame-street-medicated, I found a flyswatter and broom. I braced for a dizzying snowglobe of swatting in a small enclosed space.  I was pretty sure that I could keep it from stinging me - wouldn't it need a few seconds to land on me? - but also pretty damn sure that I couldn't kill it.  It would be zooming around crazily. I feared this dragging on, and on. That I'd take breaks from the bathroom, and it would still be alive, and eventually I'd just put a towel under the door and give up.

So: how anticlimactic when I headed in, and it was gone? There are million hiding spaces - a big medicine closet, towels with tiny folds, shelves have undersides, etc. I dusted around with the broom. It never zoomed crazily out. I gave up (and put a towel under the crack in the door, just in case.)

That evening, Jammies checked the light fixtures, and it turned out he'd fried himself anticlimactically to death. The end.

Fry, Hornet, fry.

February 23, 2014 (1) February 23, 2014 (2)

Without-flash/computer-tinkered, compared to with-flash/no-tinkering.  EVERYONE IN THE CRIB!

3 kittens

For salting and peppering.

Posted on 2014.02.15 at 10:12
It is the case that a lurker - Airedale - on Unfogged donated to the Veronica Mars kickstarter campaign at the level to get two tickets to the Hollywood premiere. Which is on March 12. It is also the case that she felt the second ticket ought to be used by someone who loves VM, and offered it up on Unfogged. I hemmed and hawed and debated, and finally declared that it would be ME.

I'm beyond excited. It shall be here:

which is the Mann's Chinese Theatre. Or it's also called Grauman's. The inside looks like so:

When would I ever go to a Hollywood premier of the best TV show that crowdsources funding to its long-awaited movie overnight? Never, holy smokes. (I can't rewatch the series in the next month but by god, I will read all the wikipedia summaries.)

(I tried on some of my dresses last night.  My back is a few inches broader than it used to be, and nothing fits.  From Crossfit, presumably. This is discouraging, since I already have the damned suspicion that I look like a linebacker. Maybe I can find an excellent pantsuit.)

Sartorial choices aside, I could not be more bonkers-thrilled. I will photograph it silly. There is an after-party, featuring at least parts of the cast.  Such an asymmetric way to meet a person - I might say that I adored the movie, and they will be gracious, and fin.  I won't tell them about my new method for assigning participation credit in my Introduction of Proofs class, nor about the wee Geebies, nor Jammies' new perm. (What? Stay tuned!)

What if the movie sucks? Will the chinoiserie, fancy pantsuit, and gracious company of Airedale, and the Hollywood sign render me unable to tell the difference? Maybe. I'm very gullible. That night alone, I'll pretend the cast are my friends and use the friend-metric instead of the real metric for judgement. (Whenever I show my parents a creative thing I've done, they use their real yardstick and they honestly tell me that it needs a lot of improvement. I get hyper-sensitive and huffy and heartbroken, in return. They kindly respond, "But didn't you want to know the truth?" At this point I'm usually too upset to contemplate explaining that no, I never want the truth. Nevernever.)  The next day I will revise my opinion, using the real metric as reality resumes. Because they are professionals who can handle it. And they don't actually read my blog.


Jammies returned, and balance resumed, and I found colors in the sky and cheek-apples of the saucy wee Geebikins.

Last night, we sat in our new-ish plastic Adirondack chairs and ate pizza on the deck. The bats swarmed up from the trees as the sun set.  The swarm gave a sense of altitude to the sky above, if you see what I mean.  Like snowflakes or dust in the sunlight - it's always awesome when you have a visual representation of the stuff of the air. Texture.

For Valentine's day, I got Jammies this unicorn:

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It's quite heavy and beautiful.  Jammies got himself this perm:

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Not for Valentine's day so much as just because. I for one find it rad.

For my birthday, I went to estate sales. Besides the unicorn, here are some other treasures from that day:

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Little metal bowl and kiddush cup for the prayers I'd never say. But it's pretty. And perhaps nice to have available, if I ever need a hail mary.

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Metal trashcan and assorted napkins.

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Winter coat for Jammies. Note toggle buttons. Also swanky clothes hangers, which makes me question my decision to show you every last purchase. Who cares about swanky coat hangers? (Answer: one cannot start questioning "who cares?" on one's personal blog, lest the spectre of narcissism prevent one from ever posting again. No one cares, but who cares.)

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Banana leaf basket for holding, coasters for coasting.

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Wooden shakers for salting and peppering.  Blankets for cozying.

I actually refrained from photographing some jewelry and sweaters, because enough is enough. I should also note, while counting my blessings, that Jammies gave me an iPad cover for Valentine's day, to cover the iPad that he got me for my birthday. The kiddush cup metaphorically runneth over, if not in practice.

3 kittens

Home Alone

Posted on 2014.02.09 at 10:07
This will be an exciting challenge - can Heebie post while single-parenting? Since all Heebie wants to do is complain about single-parenting, it should be easy to deliver live word-vomit of the goings on. Such as: I cannot stay on top of the toys mess. The baby choked on a crayon piece and frightened the holy shit out of me.

When the children are being unruly, I like to ask Jammies, "Have we made bad choices with our bodies?"

I loathe single-parenting. If something happened to Jammies, I can't imagine what kind of drudgery hellscape my life would become. There is no way to check out for a bit and get your bearings when you need it.  You can plan to check out, and get a baby-sitter, or you could get lucky, and the baby may nap while the kids watch a movie, but you can't demand a break when you need it.  I do it anyway - I put myself in time-out and go in the bedroom and shut the door, and shortly the children are sobbing on the other side of the door. "Maa-aaammm-aaaa," they sob, pathetically, "commmmme ooooouuuut."

On top of that, we had ice days (in some form) for both Thursday and Friday. On Thursday I had a mammogram scheduled in San Antonio. Daycare was delayed a few hours.  I had a vision of taking the kids to my mammogram - breast pinned between plates, technician instructing me to hold absolutely still, and me squawking at the kids - Get out of the way of the radiation! Hold still! Get closer so I can pinch your ear!

(Just kidding, I do not pinch ears. A friend told me the following amazing story though: her mom and her best friend's mom had an agreement that the moms were allowed to bite either girl, for punishment purposes.)

A friend came over and watched the kids and took them to daycare. We traded cars. This is something I failed anticipate about having lots of kids: it is a huge imposition on anyone else to lend a hand. She took the minivan and had to wrangle three kids through an unfamiliar routine.  The baby was tired, the kids were rambunctious, and so on. I owe her big time, but I did not have to take the kids to my mammogram and appointment with the oncologist. (Nothing is wrong. Just my routine intra-pregnancy check up. However, you can't be nursing, nor pregnant, and you schedule all this months in advance, and so the idea of rescheduling was upsetting.)

Then on Friday, daycare was delayed again, but not Heebie U. So I emailed around and rescheduled meetings for the afternoon, and found people to cover my commitments.

About ten minutes before we were about to start getting our coats and shoes on, daycare announced that they were closed altogether for the day. They act in accordance with the local state university. So then I re-scrambled and re-scheduled and re-cancelled things for the rest of Friday, after briefly entertaining the notion of finding a baby-sitter (nada) and hauling the kids to school ( We watched movies and went fucking bonkers. At one point I decided to bundle them up and go to the park, and I peeked outside to find that it was actually sleeting. Sad trombone.

Saturday, in contrast, was actually semi-pleasant. I parked Ace with a friend and took the kids to the activity center, to play at the daycare while I exercised. Later we spent the afternoon at another family's house. We came home and ate early dinner and watched another movie.

Today I find myself saying things like, "Sorry kids, I'm having trouble finding my patience this morning," a few minutes after I screech bloody murder because I need some goddamn personal space.  Everything is tiring and I just want to be left alone for a while. I haven't been apart from the kids in four days. Jammies gets home late tonight.

I know people are single parents, and I know there must be an adjustment period, and then you make it work, and it is hard as hell but the kids inevitably get older, anyway.  Eventually everyone can wipe their own ass. (I'm looking at you, Hokey Pokey, hollering from the bathroom, "I went pee and pooooop! Someone come wipe meeeeeee!")(I guess I'm looking at you, Ace, too, with your open oozing sores on your bottom, because you get awful diaper rash from time to time and poop eight times a day.)

Eventually the kids would age, and grow, regardless of whether or not you're patient in the meantime.

What I hate is becoming a short-tempered mess. It's so fucking unpleasant, and also I am filled with self-loathing during it, and yet can't relax and finding my center. I am exceeding my skillset as a parent, and at that point everything falls apart and becomes intolerable, insurmountable, and excruciating. All you can do is bide your time, and count on time to pass.

(There is a very ridiculous song from the 90s called This Ain't Living. In the middle, as these songs do, it gets Broken Down. For some reason, the breakdown became a tic in my brain for years. Still now I sometimes recite the whole thing, a few times in a row. It goes:
Yo. It was rough growing up holding a cup full of spare change
The doctor diagnosed me as a bum full of bad brains.
So, toe-to-toe with society cause they're telling me no,
hooked on prescription drugs, so I stay broke.
You run away but you can't run away from yourself, for your health, so I deal with the cards that I'm dealt.
Tweedeleet-leet, the morning birds sounding sweet
Though I sleep in the street, I have a feeling I'm free!
Of society. Hand-picked hypocrisy, mercy mercy.
Don't give a damn for me, mercy mercy. Now what am I gonna eat?
Peek through the window of a restaurant
People eating caviar, fifty bucks a lunch
Give me a hand-me-down lunch filled with god knows what.
Put it away in my gut, quick! and then I wonder why I'm sick.
Brick for brick I know the city like my handprint, just a bit
In the middle of a skidrow ditch. But I'll survive.
The pain lets me know that I'm alive.
But I still feel...that this ain't living. This ain't living.

It's terribly cheesy! And yet embedded in my brain, in a long tic-like manner. Inescapable. It occurs to me that I've been reciting this passage for over half my life. This ain't living, this ain't living...)

The point is that there's a long, cheesy tic associated with This ain't living... to me. Great Heebie. Tend to your children.

3 kittens

Don't Contribute to Collections.

Posted on 2014.02.02 at 11:54
I have a long list of life details, such as:

  • Friday is towel day. It's very luxurious. The rest of the week, I towel off after showering using a pocket square microfiber thing at work.  It's convenient, folds up small, and stays clean, but it's also small, cold, and clammy. Sort of like drying off with absorbent lunch meat.  On Fridays I come home to shower with a towel made of cloth. Then we go to breakfast tacos.

  • I was mid-stride at work, when this song sprung into my head, fully formed:

To stop a train
In case of an emergency
Just pull on the chain. Pull on the chain!
Penalty for inappropriate use, five pounds.

All I know of it is that I must have learned it three decades ago, and haven't thunk on it since. I thought it odd that it occurred to me, unprompted.

The next day, Hawaii was practicing piano. One of her songs was the same tune, or nearly. Which solves the mystery, but isn't it interesting that the tune had to incubate in my subconscious for a few days, before triggering the memory, context-free?

  • This dumb cat. He's not dumb, just elderly. But he is no longer cleaning himself. His nose is always caked with cat food. He can't find his food and water if it's in the pantry, like it's been for the past decade, and so now it is out in the open, in the kitchen.  Poor elderly kitty - it's astonishing how non-linear the aging process is.

  • Quotes from Hawaii:

      1.  [Her first ballet class was with thirteen bonkers three year olds. The teacher recommended that we try an older class of 5 year olds. So we did.] After the second class, I asked her which class she preferred. "I like the little kids class. The big kids kept distracting me and I couldn't pay attention to the teacher. But with the little kids, I could ignore them and do everything that I was supposed to do."  Duly noted, Hawaii.  (She is not switching back, of course. She'll be fine.)

2. A joke:
Q: What does a toothbrush do? Does it run, does it brush your teeth, or does it go poop in the bathroom?
A: It goes poop in the bathroom.
Good, good. Good joke.

  • At home, a month ago, I helped my mom clean out this cabinet:

Feb 2, 2014 (1)

Inside was my brother's old stamp collection.  And a billion mouse turds. There were tons of manila envelops just crammed full of envelopes from my grandparents and some of my parents' friends. Maybe five nearly empty stamp books.

From my insider position, the narrative is self-explanatory: Brother decides to collect stamps. He is enjoying himself. Then my grandparents and friends of my parents discover that he is a Stamp Collector. He begins to receive stamp care packages - they save all their envelopes from anyone international, and every six months they send it off to my brother. Brother finds himself deluged with stamps. Instead of getting to hunt and wait and anticipate, the stamp collection has become a burden. People send him stamp books - fill in stamps from each state! From each country in Europe! They all have about two stamps obligingly placed in, and then empty page after accusatory empty page.

It was sad to sort through the cabinet. Clearly the stamp collection experience was awful.  Picture little kid version of failing out of graduate school. So many good-hearted people just swamping the eight year old with drudgery, guilt-inducing busywork.

I consulted the Brother, and he said, "Give it away. I don't want any of it." "Great," says I, feeling he is being very reasonable and probably has zero feelings of affection towards the damned collection. Find an adult who might have the patience to deal with a massive tupperware storage container of unsorted stamps.

At the last minute, Mom changed her mind and said, "Let's keep it. Maybe one of the other grandchildren will enjoy it." I didn't contradict her, but I labelled it "Stamp collection - Nothing Sentimental in Here." Because for real: I think a grandchild might enjoy it for a half-hour. But if they were to take it home, it would become the big burdensome albatross all over again. If a grandchild loves stamps, let them hunt and discover them, one at a time, on their own. That is the moral of my story: don't contribute to other people's collections.

  • Ace is cruising, and has just cut her first tooth. Cutie-cute-pants.

3 kittens

The navel, it's gazy.

Posted on 2014.01.25 at 20:07
We are two weeks, and one ice day, into the new semester. Apparently there were over a hundred car wrecks in Austin alone from the ice, in one night.

I'm at a loss for anything interesting to say about the new semester, though. During my commute, I'm brimming with well-being. Generally the sky is big, the fields are straw-color, and the buildings are aging and decrepit, and it's all very serene. I pretend to meditate sometimes, while driving.

Oh please, Heebie. What's on your mind?

Ok, here's what's on my mind: we weaned Ace when I went to visit my parents. Therefore it is time to start trying for a fourth kid.

Here are some facts: we do want a fourth! We definitely do not want to wait a couple years. And since there is no savings in sanity to be gained by waiting another six months or 12 months, we might as well start trying now. Do you hear my ambivalence?

If you're ambivalent, why not wait a few months for your emotions to catch up, Heebie? The biggest reason not to wait for a few months is this: if we waited a few months and then we had trouble getting pregnant, I'd be super mad at myself for squandering a few early chances. So it is what it is. That said, I'm also scared to get back on the roller coaster. Inner turmoil, roiling inside my insides.

I'm not actually scared for the presence of a fourth baby. I love babies. I'm scared for the pregnancy, and parenting while pregnant. But that will be hard no matter when it happens. So why wait, right?

Of families I know, I've never heard anyone say that having their fourth was hard. I've heard people say that going from zero to one was worst (obviously a huge adjustment), from one to two (because now no one has their hands free), and from two to three (from a man-on-man to zone defense, quips Bill Cosby). But of the parents that I've asked, they've all said that having three was crazy enough that the fourth didn't make things worse, particularly. And some have said they gave up the illusion of control and life got paradoxically easier in the chaos. You know what I'm doing here? RATIONALIZING. Basically it is deep in my gut that four is the right number for our family and I'm scared marbles. Ta-da!

I'd like to talk weight-loss, briefly: how DULL! But this is actually not, this is empowerfulmenting. I have not really lost any weight after having Ace. I settled at a new, higher weight, for the third time. But! With all the weight-lifting, I feel great about my heft. I seem to look the same in photos - I don't think anyone is marveling at my svelte figure - but I feel great about myself, and I think it really is just that I feel my new muscle tone and my senses get confused. Some sort of fitness-induced synesthesia - my eyes are taking data from my sense of kinesthesia (or something). I'll take it! (That said, I'm not super keen on seeing photos of myself. Oh wellsy.)

What a dull entry, Heebie. Get it all out of your system in one boring post, right?

3 kittens

Mud Thrown Is Ground Lost

Posted on 2014.01.20 at 18:16
I am camping at Bastrop State Park, in little cabins built by the CCC during the Depression. The stone fireplaces have saying: "A Clever Man Is Good, But Not The Best" and "The Beautiful is as Useful as the Useful" and other charming things. To wit:

January 20, 2014 (6)

There were terrible fires here about two and a half years ago. My colleague's house burnt down. A great deal of effort was put into saving these cabins. So there are about twenty yards of green pine trees surrounding these cabins. Beyond that, the fire line is visible from our camping chairs.

When we walked to the playground, it was post-apocalyptic:

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There were plaques in the cabins with the history, including the phrase "By staying in this cabin, you are fulfilling FDR's dream of a life of leisure through outdoor recreation." I believe someone included that just to fuck with conservative Texans, which pleases me.

I feel like I'm committing an injustice by insufficiently documenting Ace, who is such a thorough pleasure. She is smiley. They say so at daycare: "She is always happy!" She is good at imitating. You roll the car and she'll roll the car. You hold her shoes, and use them to clap, and she'll hold the shoes and use them to clap. She is cuddly.

January 20, 2014 (7)

She had a monstrous cold while we camped. (I just switched tenses, did you see that? I started this entry at the park, but we are now at home.  The truck is unpacked. The clothes are off, the kids are scrubbed, the house is tranquil because of the meditative powers of Disney.) Ace had a monstrous cold, though. She woke up in the morning with a thick snot glaze, which wrinkled when she smiled. Her poor nose was raw from being wiped with the gentlest of damp wipes.

She is at the stage where her cheeks are so full that they bulge below her chinline. She is a bigtime babbler. Various people have asserted that she has said Dada and banana and that she has echoed people's words, but I frankly haven't yet witnessed it.

On to Hawaii: Unexpectedly, I quite enjoy practicing piano with her. There is some squirminess and complaining, but she can also buckle down and concentrate. My rule is we have to accomplish something each time we sit down - she has to struggle and master some detail or part. I don't say this explicitly to her. Usually we spend about ten minutes a day. Maybe more if she's being ornery.

Hawaii is very fond of Mary Poppins and ballet and Victorian-style shows about prissy mice with excessive rules for decorum. I tease, but I can tap into my own love for such things, especially in concert with my favorite four year old.  I look forward to reading The Secret Garden and A Little Princess, etc.

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I know Hawaii is my daughter because we both found this hysterical:

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A marshmallow roasting another marshmallow! While baby marshmallows frolic on inanimate marshmallows! These were really foul marshmallows, leftover from our last camping trip, which is its own proof that they were pretty gross. They did not roast and tasted too much like peeps, and afterwards there were a bunch of marshmallows missing a single bite.

(This Pokey is a pleasure, too, when he's not being such a goddamn three-year-old. Jammies and I often rub our foreheads and say "How long until he turns four?"  He is fond of forcing our hand whenever we claim there will be a consequence to misbehavior. I loathe enforcing consequences. I will do it, because blah blah good parenting, but what a fucking nuisance.

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Aside from making me enforce consequences, he is still my sweet boy.)

3 kittens

Devoted to Walls and Parapets

Posted on 2014.01.09 at 11:38
This is my grandmother, my father's mother:

January 9, 2014 013

In 1950, they parked my father with some cousins and went to Europe, where she kept a travel guide:

 Very early on in our trip, Al and I started to quarrel over walls, parapets, window sills, ship railings, and fences. We are still quarreling.
     My feeling about walls, etc., was that they should be kept out of our photographs, especially since they had a habit of assuming the most important position in the foreground and being out of focus there.
     Al declared that the shots I asked him to take required the services of a human fly, and that his acrophobia did not permit him to hang over the edges of all the ledges in Europe.
     I kept trying to explain that if he set his camera on top of the fence, for example, there was no chance of the fence creeping back up in front of his lens.
     This he refused to believe; so he went on photographing walls and parapets, claiming they could be cropped off the negative later, though I think he was secretly devoted to them, and never had any intention of having them removed.
     The picture on the opposite page [ed: below] shows one of his finest walls. What space was left after getting in the wall, he grudgingly conceded to the Ponte Vecchio - a singular bridge built as if it were a street with houses on both sides. On it are located the great tourist attractions: silver, leather and cotton goods shops.
     Although the Germans did not blow up the Ponte Vecchio, they mined all the houses on both banks, so that the debris made the bridge impassible to the allies.

And here is the photo in question, wall clearly un-cropped:
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Isn't she so goddamn marvelous? I never met this grandmother, Gail, for she died when my dad was 19. The entire guide is about 100 pages long. What I would like to do is blog it, daily, this summer when I have more time. Gail was a wonderful writer.

A few years after she died, my grandfather remarried this woman, who was not marvelous and was instead a prissy asshole:

January 9, 2014 010
From left to write: Al's brother Lee and his wife Anne, the prissy bitch Rita, and Al.

I don't know this for a fact, but I like to pretend that this photo was taken on the same day that Anne and Rita descended into an all-out physical brawl in the clubhouse. What happened is that they'd been playing couples' golf. One person hits the drive, and then the spouse does the putting, and then you switch on the next hole. Anne asked Rita for advice on how to hit a shot. Rita told her to fuck off.

They simmered and stewed and got hotter and hotter until, that evening, my young dad showed up at the clubhouse to meet the four of them for dinner, and it erupted into a physical fight, rolling around on the floor.

Rita and Gail were wildly different women, by all accounts. Gail was a communist, intellectual, rootless cosmopolitan, wonderful, etc. Rita was a bitchy shrew who would look at me, and then look at my mother and say, "Should she be on a diet?" who cared about clubhouses and bridge and golf.  I do find that last part exotic: the Manhattan socialite in the 60s and 70s clad in designer clothes and bridge trophies.

Upon Anne's death, Al and Rita flew to Florida for the funeral. For reasons I'm not clear on, they left before the funeral occurred. Something to do with not flying on one of the High Holidays, but then not wanting to spend the holidays in Florida because there was an urgent bridge tournament. Al and Lee did not talk for twelve years after that.

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The travel guide manuscript.

This past weekend I flew home to visit my parents, without any children or Jammies, and unearthed the travel guide above. We also found a novel that Al had written, which looks very hard-boiled and terrible. The provenance is wonderful, though: in the late 30s, when it looked like the US might enter WWII, Al and Gail went to Mexico City for a few years, where they cozied up with expat intellectuals and wrote a hard-boiled, terrible novel. As one does.

In theory, I went to help my parents downsize their house. The weekend was supposed to be full of me making permanent decisions about which items I want to acquire. The weekend was supposed to be very stressful.

It turns out: a year ago, a doctor told my mom that she could count on my dad living for one year, and after that, who knows. My dad has sarcoid, and it spread to his heart. My dad pooh-poohed this idea. But my mom panicked (understandably) and requested that each of me and my brothers spend a weekend without our families, to go through the house.

Since then, dad has a little monitor which has been sending data on his heart, and his heart is in fact doing great. Then he saw a scan from 2005, when he was first diagnosed, and saw that the sarcoid was already blocking the crucial electrical channels in his heart eight years ago, and no one had said anything, and it hasn't progressed. So mom is more relaxed.

The other thing is that they've decided they don't ever want to leave their house, until they are too frail to live there. So there was no urgency to downsize the house, either.

The last thing is that my highly organized mom seems uncharacteristically overwhelmed by the task of going through the house. When you are very organized, you can hide an amazing amount of junk in 3600 square feet of little rooms.  We ended up purging a lot of stuff from mine and my brothers' bedrooms. I think we sent over 20 bags to Goodwill. I told my parents that I'd start coming out yearly to tackle a room here and a closet there, so that the burden of junk isn't always hanging over my mom's head.  After all, they pay for our daycare, so I think we're squarsies.

Here are a bunch of things that I got rid of, on the condition that I might photograph and memorialize them, first:

January 9, 2014 001
I cannot wait to wear this on the first day of 7th grade. In fact, I've got my first weeks' worth of outfits planned out, and this is Monday. What a great first impression this will give, with a white shirt and very bleached jeans. I would pair it with my favorite fedora, but I don't want to draw that much attention to myself.

January 9, 2014 002
Andreas and I are going to be salt and pepper shakers for Halloween, and we're making our costumes ourselves, and this will be my hat.

January 9, 2014 003
Hello, $110 forgotten in an old tin. That $50 bill in particular was slipped to me by Al, during dinner, when I was seven or eight.  I thought I'd spent it on something unmemorable, so I'm glad to see that I unmemorably put it in a bank, instead.

January 9, 2014 004
Aren't I hilarious: rolling papers and matches are just hysterical to stick inside the box from an inhaler. Get it? GET IT?

January 9, 2014 005
Aww, when cameras were cute. And flashes were cute. And you got seven flashes, so use them wisely.

January 9, 2014 006
Someone tell young Heebie that commemorative cans of coke aren't that great. Also the one on the left, which is NIEUW SUPERBLIK German.

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My dad took us fishing. I kept one of the jaws of one of the fish, for some creepy reason. It's now mostly jaw-dust, although big pieces remain. To the trashcan with you!

January 9, 2014 008
A Back to the Future ticket stub! How retro. It's actually from 1990, so I think it's probably II or III.

January 9, 2014 009
Of all my childhood arts and crafts, this one is the most deserving of the trash, right this now. It's broken and dusty and I just glued it together.

January 9, 2014 014

Big Kitty is not being thrown away. He has lost another pound though. He is now about 1/3 of his heaviest weight. He's also on hospice care, now. Pain meds and steroids to coast him to the nearing end.

Before we left for vacation, I showed up for Crossfit and found everyone dressed in Christmas outfits. Ugly sweaters, reindeer headbands, snowflake tights, flannel plaid onesies, etc. They went all out. I was asked to take the group photo, which suited me just fine because I sure as hell do not want to get tagged on Facebook in that photo, because I'm a grump.

(I kind of knew everyone was dressing up, but assumed that I was immune with my middle age and minivan. It worked out ok.)

Then we started doing our workout. The lean, fit, lithe twenty-somethings started shedding Christmas items and clearly hadn't planned for the workout portion of the day. Bras and holiday boxers and ripped abs, and I suddenly felt like I was in a porny fundraiser calendar.

In general at Crossfit I am short and round, and everyone else seems tall and lean and blond, and I feel like an elderly babushka from the old country who is not expected to understand the customs of these blond labrador retriever people. Great! Sometimes they are so dumb that I sputter, as in when the kid said "Nelson Mandela...he was the apartheid guy in...Was that Australia or South Africa?" Dude, dude. "South Africa," I supplied.

Then the trainer said blankly, "Apart-what? Apart-tide?" and it turned out that he'd never heard of apart-what.  I gave him a short lecture (it was cruel! white people did it to black people!). He said, "So sort of like the south was, here?" and I said, "Yes! A lot like that. Except it just ended in the 90s, and black people were the majority and the white people were the minority."

The trainer was appropriately earnest and willing to put on his appalled face. "In their own country!" he kept saying, shaking his head, "And in their own country!" which is true, but not the detail I would have expected him to fixate on.

(Sometimes I will be grunting and puffing away at my dead lifts or strict presses or hang cleans, and overhear the Labrador Young Texans talking about movies, and they will say, "Who's that guy?...From Home Alone?" or "Million Dollar Baby...Can't remember the name of the girl in it..." and they'll all say "Gee, dunno!" and not be terribly worried about answering the question. While across the room I'm sputtering "MACAULAY CULKIN" and "HILARY SWANK" under my breath, mid-hoist and strain. On occasion I have told the trainer to please convey to them the right answer so I can stop listening to them scratch their heads.  So I'm considered the person in the room who is good at movies, even though I am ridiculously not at all good at movies.)

My mommy found this old Vogue magazine that she'd saved, from 1986:

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She was quoted in it:
Food-as-mother, as a notion of emotional links to eating, seems almost to have come full circle since Sigmund Freud defined it. Food-as-mother has also come to be a negative visual image. Says [Heebie's mother], Ph. D., an experimental psychologist in the department of psychiatry at the University of [Heebie's home town]: "That food is comfort and security and warmth is an important emotional link for women, but it's not the only one. Food is also ugly, obese, unattractive, self-consoling. And all of these emotions are quite possible within the same person. It becomes simplistic to say women are either one or the other. There are occasions that produce these feelings of the more maternal, apple-pie kind of image, and there are occasions for self-denial and accusing images.

"Food is a source of anxiety for women, but if food did not have associations with obesity and gaining weight, I suspect that a great deal of this anxiety would be removed. There are certain groups of men who would associate motherhood and being comforted with food, and others who find those connections essentially irrelevant. The interesting question would be: Is there a love-hate relationship among men who have to be around food, or who have to, for their profession, maintain their body weight?"

I think she did a fine job of making a nuanced point in a short space.

At the airport:

Scene: Hokey Pokey, overtired, late afternoon, decompensating and throwing a holy tantrum in a crowded sitting area. Jammies scoops him off and takes him away.

As they leave, Jammies says, "We do not act like that!" and Pokey wails, "I wasn't acting! I wasn't acting!"

That made me laugh.

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On the last flight:

The flight attendant got to chatting with Hawaiian Punch, who was doing an excellent job with her "Apple juice, please!" and "No ice, please!" and thank yous and generally being poised and polite. The flight attendant asked her about her Christmas and Hawaii said that her favorite gift was a piggy bank. (I don't think that's true but maybe Hawaii understands the art of the convenient answer.)

The stewardess set Hawaii's cup down, and Hawaii sized it up and said, "Excuse me. I said 'No ice'." The stewardess's expression darkened slightly. I was amused: Hawaii, from her point of view, was politely advocating for herself like a mature adult. From the stewardess's view, the porcelain angel was now being a bit impudent.  Sorry, stewardess! Hawaii is being fine!

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In the kitchen, Jammies said "Did you hear what I said?" and Hawaii responded calmly, "Do my ears look broken?" So she is sometimes an impudent butthead, to be sure.

Iconic image of Hokey Pokey at age three:

Running up, urgently squawking "I HAVE TO GO PEE-AND-POOOOP!" He says this several times a day. He's perfectly capable of going by himself, but if you say that he'll say, "But I'll be lonely!" He somehow wins this battle, probably because a three year old who has to go pee-and-poop gets their own way.

Since we got home:

Big Frail Kitty has aggressively sought out my lap every time I stop moving. I think he must be freezing cold, now that he weighs 8 lbs. (From a max of 19 or 20 lbs. He was a big, muscular cat that walked with a jungle cat's swagger.) I want to pamper this elderly kitty but it's kind of like having a fourth small child who is always hungry for my attention and yet doesn't play well with the baby.  I'm becoming ambivalent and frustrated towards my dear kitty.

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3 kittens

Off-brand semi fake-Mac

Posted on 2013.12.24 at 11:42
Things that Hokey Pokey does that are reincarnations of myself:
1. Word garble. Not malapropisms but almost tic-like riffing on words. Like if someone says "snow peas" my brain echoes "snoopies", if someone says "I can't see, Mom!" my brain echoes "I can't see mom." And so on. Pokey does the three year old version - he mumbles "Roly poly posie smosie nosie sopey dope" after hearing "roly poly" and it reminds me that I used to do a three year old version as well.

2. Smile with the corners of his mouth turned down, when communicating faux-disbelief. This is the exact expression of mine that I hate so much in photos. Why don't I just smile like a regular person?

Things that Ace does that the other kids never did:
1. Sleep in.
2. Imitate others. If you put one finger out and drag it along the table, she'll put one finger out and drag it along the table. If you show her how a toy works, she'll imitate what you did.

What did the other two do? Hawaiian Punch would look at you like, "Why are you trying to trick me? I'm suspicious." Hokey Pokey would look at you like, "Hooray! Do that thing you did, again!" So they are each individuals, go figure.

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Sometimes we all crowd into the bathroom to brush our teeth.

Hello from Montana! I love my in-laws. They cultivate relaxation.

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Montana by night.

Whereas my family cultivates...rambunctiousness maybe? Conversation? Each person looking out for themselves? It was hard for Jammies at first to realize that when you're hungry, you're expected to go rummage up something for yourself in the fridge. No one is thinking ahead and providing options for lunch. Parenting is much more tiring and everyone pleasantly watches you without lifting a finger. Here, Mimi is like "Why don't I hold the baby while making pancakes? Then I'll take everyone sledding."

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Montana by day

On Saturday, Delta Airlines called and told us our flight out was delayed.  So I called and [...boring, long, phone conversations later...] we ended up spending the night in Minneapolis, and flying into Bozeman in the morning.

Let's consider the initial phone call, from Delta: I love this so much. By the time we left for the airport, we were rebooked and had a hotel room reserved.  All (most) uncertainty was resolved. Prior to this service, I would have spent the first flight with a knot in my stomach, anticipating that we'd miss our connection. I hate that. When we left our house for the airport, I felt happy and light knowing exactly, for sure, that we were going to miss our connection.

It occurs to me that I don't shift plans very easily.

We stopped at Jammies' grandma, since we were driving from Bozeman. It's hard to find beautifully preserved 1960s interior decorating anymore.

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Built in oven.

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In the middle of the plaid wallpaper is a cupboard, with sliding glass cover. The glass cover is an amber honeycomb.

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Elaborate switch plates on wood paneling.

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The ceiling is not just popcorn, but sparkly and pink, I shit you not.

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The sparkles photographed subdued, but they are real and plentiful.

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The carpet is shaggy.

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See all that amber glass honeycomb cabinetry? Covet.

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Starburst clock on rock wall. Hawaiian Punch: This carpet is so long! And cuddly.

Here are the presents that each child desperately wants (and will get):

A miniature Christmas tree for Hawaii.

A mack truck from the movie Cars for Hokey Pokey.

Look at that truck, (named Mac), because it costs $175. Of course, it is wildly reasonable for a three year old to ask for a lego Mack truck to go along with the rest of his Lego Cars set.  So we went for it.

It will not be here in time, so we went out and bought two plausible off-brand semi trucks. We have our fingers crossed.

I think he will be happy with an off-brand Semi fake-Mac. If so, we can return the $175 Lego Mac. If not, this kid will be heartbroken. It is all he wants for Christmas.

3 kittens

Fake field backdrop.

Posted on 2013.12.14 at 14:27
I love having small children, no lie. I withhold that kind of thing from Facebook, because what's the point? Sometimes people say insufferable things like "I am so lucky to have the honor, the privilege really, of witnessing their childhood" and I confess that I know just what they mean. I think insufferable things like that, but keep it to myself. Aside from this paragraph which I'm obviously writing on the internet.

Insufferably, as usuals

For a week, Big Kitty was on antibiotics and iron supplements. The pills were quartered, leaving these ragged edges which just felt inhospitable.  Choke down these sharp, ragged edges, poor Kitty, while you are swaddled in a towel, laying on your back, eyes dilated from anger.

The iron was even worse:

He got two squirts a day.  It's very good for anemic pets because it's basically ground-up dead pets. It looks and smells like blood - thick and brown, only viscous, which I assume is anti-clotting. I put the dropper on the counter for a few minutes and it stained the counter permanently. It smells feral and rotting. Mega-gross.

At the end of the week, we returned to the vet. The vet said, "I think I figured it out - he needs parathyroid surgery. Please spend $500. Big Kitty will get big returns from this very minor surgery."  I said okay. It ended up being $800 but Big Kitty is eating now and seems happy. He has a gruesome row of stitches down his shaved neck.

Baseball Neck

Yesterday I gave a nine page final exam. Listen: the xerox machine thought it was a one-sided document, so it only xeroxed pages 1,3,5,7, and 9. The xerox machine printed this out two-sided, so I passed out a three page document: 1-3 were front and back, 5-7 were front and back, and 9 was by itself.

The clock had begun, when the omissions were discovered. The students were anxious and fretful.  I decided that they should work on what they had, and I'd go xerox the missing pages, as opposed to collecting the faulty tests and rushing off to xerox complete tests.

I returned back with test pages 2,4,6, and 8. Okay ready? These were also printed two-sided. So 2-4 were front-back and 6-8 were front and back. Great.

I passed out these last two sheets and realized the students had no way to put the test in order. And the test needed to be in order, because the individual problems sprawled across multiple sheets. (What does Heebie do? Apologize profusely and diagram the hell out of the situation on the board. I put nine big rectangles on the board, numbered 1 to 9, and put the top line of each page of the test in the rectangle. I told them to number their nine pages. Then I connected front-back sheets with fainter dotted lines.)(Because it's not at all stressful to be sorting out your test pages while actually trying to complete your test.) I'm a bonehead.


The kids have their last soccer game today.  Remember curling? this:

You can't touch the stones, but you can skate ahead and scrub the ice, to steer its path. Coaching three- and four-year-old soccer is basically curling - the coaches are allowed on the field, but obviously can't touch the ball, so they - and by "they" I mean Jammies - runs around the play and scrubs furiously: "This way! Kick it this way! That's right! Go! Go! It's right there! Now kick it!" That's my analogy and I'm sticking to it.

Unexpectedly, the entire team improved over the six week season. In the first two games, the Geebies were terrified of the loud buzzers and thunderous echoes of a packed gymnasium, and would not step foot on the field, which is a basketball court.

In the third game, Hawaii ran alongside the pack like a casual loping antelope. Hokey Pokey scored but on the wrong goal. Not out of confusion.  "Pokey! Pokey! The other way! Go that way!" Jammies scrubbed furiously. Pokey said "No. There are too many people that way. I just want to go this way." And so he did.

By the sixth game, they were in the fray. Pokey even scored. Go Geebies. They each received a shiny plastic trophy on a wee marble base, with a misspelled name, because we did not anticipate that consequence of leaving their names uncorrected on the sign up sheet.

We are just so dang cute, and that is a fake field backdrop. It was an indoor league.

3 kittens

Midnight Blue With an Asymmetric Bar Code

Posted on 2013.12.07 at 11:26
I think I'll go crazy with the photos.

Once upon a time, I had a conference in New Orleans.  All those hotels meant lots of carpet:

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These three are the worst! I mean, I credit the attempt at interesting carpet. But faux-royalty is the worst. I give them all 2 out of 6.

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Ace slept in impossible positions with Jammies while I suffered through awfully dull conference events.

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These are a little better. We're not going for 90s glamour like above, but rather going for...cartoon glamour, maybe. It rates a 3 out of 6.

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A view from the conference. I was just amazed that someone could climb that ladder. Hypothetically. I didn't actually see anyone climb the ladder, though.

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I genuinely liked this one. It didn't photograph well, but looked lush and swirly. I generally like dark green with light blue. Gold and brown. It was nice. It earned itself a solid 5 out of 6.

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This was the best one. It is actually a color photograph of a colorless hallway, but the carpet was a midnight blue with this asymmetric barcode graph along one edge. I give it a 5 out of 6.

Then we spent the weekend in New Orleans, with things like:

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Charming string of pearl plants.

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Beautiful old gothic mansion with questionable interior decorating. Ladders are not wall art, let alone tattered flags with denim curtains, matching the bedspread. Denim curtains! Well I never. Did you notice that there are two ladders-as-wall-art, as well as a knight's armor? Also: in the last photo, behind the lamp-wearing-a-mask, is a giant formal novelty chair. The armrest is about the same height as the knight's head.

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In the convenience stores in New Orleans, you can buy alcoholic Christmas ornaments.

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We actually have photos of the photogenic kids wearing these gorgeous hats by panisdead, but not on my phone. The detail on the hat on the right is exquisite.

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Kids in a bucket.

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Then we went to California, where we spent a lot of time walking back and forth to a park. I like photographing shadows.

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California, you're such a show-off.

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Airport bathroom family selfie.

And then most recently, I stared at this beautiful sunset, while trains died on the track, and delayed me picking up Big Kitty from the vet.

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3 kittens

Politely waiting for me.

Posted on 2013.12.02 at 21:00
May I brag about Hawaiian Punch? Scene: Hawaii and Hokey Pokey watching cartoons in the next room.  My attention is drawn when I hear Pokey cry "I don't WANT to get dressed!"

In response, Hawaii says, conciliatory: "I think I know what you think I said." And then she explained what she thought Pokey heard and what she'd actually said.  Look at all those perspectives that my daughter can see!  Look at all those facets reflecting in that one statement, from a wee four year old.

We went to California for Thanksgiving. California, you're such a show off, with your coastline and dense trees and little bungalow houses. Our Thanksgiving was...well, the cousins got along really well.  It was tense. Each day we took the kids to the same park, which to be fair was a pretty nice park.

(On the first day we met imaginary internet friends, and on the last day we went to Santa Cruz to see Jammies' old best friend since forever. Each of those bookend events was a total delight.)

Every time I feel obligated to post about something, I get drowsy and avoidant. It's just not appealing to have to document a holiday.  Instead I will document how I picked up the cat from the vet today: slowly.  I got stuck at a train. Out the window, the sky was big and clear and sunsetting. Black outlines on the horizon against pinks and purples. I realized the train was going maybe 5 mph. One could easily jog along side it. I wondered how long I'd been sitting there. The train crawled slower. I browsed Facebook. Five more minutes elapsed.

I called the vet and told them I was trying to pick up Big Kitty, but the train...the train. Finally the train came to a complete stop. The vet told me not to worry, that she could keep the lobby open for a few extra minutes.

Then another train came. It turns out that two tracks are running side by side. I assumed our train stopped to let this train past. This new train seemed to be going awfully slow, too.

Then the new train stopped. Two stopped trains.

I guess this is when my brain exploded. But not just mine: all the cars started doing U-turns to get out of line.  A school bus in front of me even did. So I did, too. The trains are probably still stopped.  I backtracked to a different street with a bridge over the train tracks. (The punchline is that I meant to take the bridge originally but missed the turn.)  Beautiful pink and purple and black sunset minutes, but I hate the anxiety of being late when the lady at the vet is politely waiting for me.

Big Kitty has lost seven pounds since June. That's a lot of weight, even for a big kitty. I feel like such an asshole for not bringing him in sooner. I just thought he was rapidly aging and didn't like eating food with medicine in it.

Big Kitty does not have failing kidneys or liver, nor diabetes, nor leukemia nor feline HIV. The vet doesn't know what's wrong with kitty, but now he's on antibiotics at least. For a week I must pop a pill down his throat, and then massage his throat to help him swallow it.  I foresee a bad time.

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