Monday, April 28, 2008

my six word memoir

Thanks for tagging me, Melissa. Here goes:

Learning to live with less.

Okay, other intrepid bloggers who read my blog (Rachel? Anne? ????) Go! Go post your six words!

Friday, April 25, 2008


Just got an email from a professor in my MFA program with the subject line: "Fellowship program available to continuing MA and MFA students". Being a churchy Christian, I'm thinking, "Oh! a touchy-feely chance to get to know other students, and possibly other alums!" Since I love community, I clicked on it.
Then I realized that it was the other meaning of fellowship, the higher-education/academia version, being a nice grant/scholarship thingie. Or whatever a fellowship is.
Not the "fellowship hall"/Folger's coffee and doughnuts thing I was envisioning.
Ah well. I'll get my jelly-filled some other way.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Everything that's not supposed to be hot today, is.

There's nothing that makes me feel sorrier for my baby girl that having her run a fever. This time, it's a little, warm-to-the-touch head and cheeks, laying on my lap, wanting to nurse all day and taking an early, early nap kind of fever. It's not a panicked-my-God-what's-wrong-with-her sort of fever. Well, I was a bit worried, except we were at our house, and she wiggled her bottom and pointed to the stereo and said, "Dance?"
So she can't feel too terrible.
In other news, we discovered today that when we got our house repiped, the toilet got hooked up to the hot water heater. Which means that we can now wash dishes in the potty. Or something.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

moving on

Am I lazy?

We're primed to move back into our house. Our plumbing is almost re-attached (since it had been flatlining since Christmas, this is momentous). We have taken over some things from here that we haven't been using (a box of cheerios! A frisbee! Playsilks! Don't ask why we bothered taking these things over here. I don't know.)

Today, I lay on our nice, nice bed with Lucy for a short nap. And...I was a bit overwhelmed by the idea of us moving back in.

Part of my distaste was the strong smell of cat piss wafting over the bed. This bummed me out, especially since I was nursing, and thus couldn't determine the source. I kept thinking: Is it on our nice, nice bed? Is it on our nice, nice bed? But I couldn't move to check it. (Answer: no. It was on a shoe caddy we'd stashed there while our carpet got cleaned. Bed and mother are doing fine.) Still though, home shouldn't smell like urine. Ever. (on a side note: Am I a crazy green-nik if I decide to try to wash the shoe caddy rather than throw it away? It requires some jerryrigging, since the thing has some cardboard built into it. Please, help me get a grip on myself and my carbon-reducing urges).

But it wasn't just the cat piss. I'm kind of a neatnik (I almost typed "neat-freak", but I'm being kind to myself) and the house is kind of a pit. Everything is undone, or half-done, or, at best, extremely dusty. There are little screws sitting out all over everything. The pictures are off the wall. The water pressure is kaput. The master bath shower isn't currently functioning (it's unconnected with all the other plumbing problems we've been having---sigh). And the only room that's roughly in the same shape that we left it is the living room. Everything else is in shambles.

Last time we did a cleaning run, a few weeks ago, I felt cheered by how much better everything looked. Now I realize that's just because things were even worse before.

Then there are the new projects: we are going to move Lucy into her own bedroom, which requires some thought about what a room for her will look like.
And the kitchen. Did I mention the kitchen? It's now completely different. As in I have to reorganize everything. Which sounded exciting when I was helping design it (finally! we got rid of that completely useless cabinet!) but now sounds overwhelming with my dishes and spices and silverware stacked in the corner. Oh, and I have to restock the fridge and pantry that have sat empty for the past four months.

I feel very...tired when thinking about all of this. Our living situation is very stopgap here, but it's now feeling like a permanent sort of stopgap. Laundry has a place, as does my toothbrush, as do the groceries I just bought.
As of right now, I don't know where to put the box of Cheerios, or the play silks. As luck would have it, however, I do have a place for the Frisbee.
Go figure.

Monday, April 21, 2008


That's the vanity plate we saw yesterday. Insert a little heart symbol in the middle and voila!
Here was our conversation:

Dyami: (frustrated) What does that mean? "Lesbians Love Mom"?
Me: Wouldn't that be LZB?
Dyami: "El Business Loves Mom"?
Me: Maybe it's three kids' initials? Or "LaBonanza loves mom"?
Dyami: I hate vanity plates.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


We travelled to Michigan last week for about five days. We spent one night in Chicago, in a very nice hotel room (Thanks, Dad) and then four nights at my uncle's house in Paw Paw (Thanks, Uncle Bill) with my parents, my sister and her family. My uncle's house is a renovated Victorian right on a lake, right down the street from Paw Paw's "theater district." Well, okay, there's one theater, playing "Horton Hears a Who". But everything is about marketing these days.
We had an awesome time. Lucy got to play with her cousin, the plane ride (we rode cheap, without buying L a seat) was surprisingly fine, and it snowed! In April! Which was amusing and sad, at the same time.
I was a little saddened by Paw Paw, though. It's a cool little town, where my dad grew up. It has pretty good schools, a lovely lake, a gorgeous courthouse, some pretty architecture on Main Street, and some nice restaurants. And yet many of the businesses on the main street are shuttered, and the really bustling part of the town is on the freeway, with all of the fast food chains (and where a Wal Mart is going to be built soon).
I can't speak for the town's residents: I don't really know what it's like to live in a smaller town these days. Perhaps things are going really well in Paw Paw for most people--and things are just the way they want them to be. But it made me sad to see such a pretty part of the town neglected, in favor of the kind of soulless backside.
But that's what our society values: the quick freeway exit, the predictable, safe offerings of national or international chains, and the easy parking available.
I do want to put a shout out for "That Coffee Place", this cool little coffee store close to the Arby's. It's not on Main (too bad...) but it's not a chain, their coffee and tea is really good, and the people were really friendly. There are comfy couches, and a bright orange bathroom (it was tasteful and electric at the same time!) A very nice regular gave us directions to the closest mall when we were going stir crazy at my uncles (we were alone there, it was raining, and the only place baby-proof was downstairs in the basement...without any windows. After a few hours we were ready to see some other people/daylight/something/anything). I know, I know, a mall? But there wasn't anyplace else to be outdoors. Once our family arrived, we had plenty to do.
So if you're ever in Western Michigan and need a little kick in the pants, stop by That Coffee Place. Sock it to The Man.

Friday, April 18, 2008

the moving sidewalk is back

Our house is getting close to done. Yesterday, our new countertops were installed; today the carpet was cleaned. Once we get the stove and faucets installed, we will have a mostly functional house back.

Our friends keep asking us: "Are you back in your house yet?" Since it would be so ridiculous not to be.

The answer is no. It will likely be at least another week.

I have mixed feelings about moving back home. Surprising, no? On the plus side of our own home: privacy, a new kitchen, a fenced-in yard, proximity to our friends, and living in a house we love. Oh, and proximity to three good dive taco shops in our area. Mmmmm.
On the negative side, I really cherish some of the simplifying we've done, living in this situation. It's less work, maintaining a shared household. I do more cooking, my mom does more laundry. We all look out for Lucy when we're home. We've had a lot more time with my parents.

And: less stuff. A lot less stuff. Our closet here is small, so we have fewer clothes. Mostly, I haven't noticed the difference. I went home and looked at our real closet, and wondered: what did I need all those clothes for? No Cds of our own. No new condiments. No filing cabinets. No space for extraneous toys. When you have a house, there's a subtle pressure to fill the space with...something. Empty shelves sprout occupants. Storage invites acquisition. I've been trying to step off that moving sidewalk for a while now, and nothing has made it easier than our current living situation.

I think of the moving sidewalk because of our recent trip to Michigan, visiting family. In the Chicago airport, they have these people movers to get you down the terminals faster. Lucy loved them. She's a cautious child, so it was all of the fun of an escalator without the danger. We rode them back and forth while waiting for our flight.

I feel like our consumer culture is kind of a moving sidewalk. The first second you step on it, it seems disorienting, way too fast, and throws off your balance. But a second later, you regain your equilibrium, and it's the new "normal". Only you're moving at a faster clip towards a destination that the sidewalk, not you, controls.

I keep stepping off sidewalks, only to discover four more that subtly control me. Step off the sidewalk of buying everything cheapest (regardless of it's effect on other people or the environment). Then the sidewalk of lots of television watching. Then it's frenetic business, or buying as an entertainment, or needing lots of stuff. What would happen if I got off the sidewalk of thinking money equals security? Or the car culture? Or trying to please other people all the time?

Lucy had trouble getting on and off the sidewalks, so I kept holding her hands and lifting her over the tricky part, the border between movement and stillness. Funny: I think she liked that dangerous part the best: holding my hands and sailing over difficulty.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

fish heads

Was hanging out with my friend Amy and her son Brighton a while ago. We were in the backyard. To occupy him, Amy started an imaginary activity: "Fishing". Apparently, this is an activity started at a class he goes to--the entire script of it. Anyway, it involved "fishing" pretend fish out of puddles. Here was the interaction.
B: "I'm fishing for Nemo!"
A: "Did you find him?"
B "Yes! Here he is!" (Brighton yanks on his "line" and pulls out the "fish". "I'm going to eat his head!"

Needless to say, I was a little shocked that we were witnessing the gruesome end of a star of a Disney movie. Apparently B has not seen Nemo--but I would guess some kids in his class have. What was the instructor thinking?
Am I just too sensitive? Yes, I want my child to understand where our food comes from, but I don't need to anthropomorphize our entrees that much.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


I've realized I'm not super-great at playing with my daughter. Dyami was a bit worried that she was picking up my somewhat rabid reading addiction (since she doesn't play with toys, but only wants us to read to her), so I have made a concerted effort to actually stack blocks, tickle Elmo, and stuff a walrus inside a handbag. (Kidding! I don't have a Tickle Me Elmo.) (and the walrus isn't real).
Problem with playing: it's not terribly organized. There's no clear narrative. You just sit and do...something. What's the point again?
I used to be so good at playing. My sister and I constructed elaborate communes with free-loving stuffed animals--monkeys living with bears and foxes! oh my!) I "built" dollhouses using picture books and a chair. I dug in dirt!
Now, I sit on the floor with Lucy, trying to contain my Play anxiety. Am I doing it right? Is it Wholesome?
When she picked up a book and said, "More? More?" (Meaning, would you read this, already?") I gave up. Picked her up, and sighed my relief at having a script to follow.