27 April 2012

You make the best of what's still around

The last few weeks have been a war of attrition. The son's laptop went. Something died in the attic (thank you, Mr. Exterminator, for taking it away). My vacuum cleaner (yes, I am ashamed to admit that it was this vacuum cleaner, four years later) blew up in a whir of dying motor and smoke. I need to replace the desktop that I am currently typing on (6 years old and failing), along with the cable modem attached to it (7 years old and tortoise-slow). Need I mention that the desktop replacement is sitting in a corner in an unopened box? My oven needs to be inspected after the top oven broiler turned itself on while I was baking muffins...

Gods, the list is endless.

Meanwhile, I'm in charge of finding a hotel in Paris.

(I did. Thank you, J.)

And I'm meant to be finding other things.

(Less said about that the better.)

The son has been nominated for Prom King (I wish I was kidding), which requires yet another tux rental. Allemande left, and it's IB and AP testing season. Blink, and the kid will be graduating. Before I've even realized it, we'll be packing up his room and transporting it to a dorm.

The daughter just passed her blue belt exam in Taekwondo, and finished the required academic standardized testing for the year. The insanities of the public education system (even though she's in a charter school). I have been contracted to make three dozen Scottish oatcakes for her Geography presentation.

(I haven't baked cupcakes all year.)

She is supposed to start driver training over the summer. She will be eligible for her learner's permit in September. How do I do this?

I am not sure how it transpired that my time telescoped to the point of non-existence. There is never any time--I am always driving somewhere or grocery shopping--I am always in the midst of doing something, and nothing ever gets done.

It is driving me berserk.

I plan menus and cook meals. The in-laws are getting on in age. They, too, are fighting a war of attrition, mainly in their abilities. My mother-in-law has never enjoyed cooking, and recently murmured how much she dislikes trying to come up with dinner. I've figured out how to make them easy-to-reheat meals of things they enjoy: individual tamale pies for my father-in-law; little meatloaves for my mother-in-law. I wrap them for freezing with instructions for cooking, a week of meals at a time. They've gone over well so far, and unbeknownst to them, I stuff those little casseroles with extra vegetables and healthy fats and lean protein, so I can rest assured that they are getting at least some wholesome food with as much nutrition as I can pack into it.

I can never let well enough alone. I need to help. One of my greatest failings, probably, along with a supreme lack of patience.

Those moments when I do escape for a moment (and I did the other day. More about that in another post) are such an incredible relief. Just stepping into the back garden in the morning and admiring my burgeoning tomatillo plant or snipping a few leaves off one of the dozens of cilantro plants I've started in window boxes and pots creates a sense of calm. I talk to the phoebe who is tending a nest over one of the daughter's bedroom windows, and as I stood very quietly next to the fountain, one of rufous hummingbirds settled in for  a very thorough bath just inches from my knee, completely undisturbed by my presence.

Everything will come together at some point; it usually does, despite the fact that ambiguity and lack of unimpeded forward motion make me wild with annoyance.

Until then, I make the best of what's at my disposal.

Go listen to some good music: "When the World is Running Down" from the album Zenyatta Mondatta by The Police. And that's not even touching on the insanity of what's going on in the nation and the world at large. I am just a frustrated micron.


24 April 2012

I can feel it in my fingers

Shooting emails back and forth with D. today, I felt a frisson of excitement that I haven't felt for awhile.

About damn time.

Yesterday, I wrote a large check and, full stop, put an end to speculation, query and search. That is done. In a few months, I will have kids on both coasts. Thus, I will become bicoastal. No one, apparently, sees this coming.

I never fail in long-range planning.

It takes me time, but eventually, I shift from focusing on "can't" to "hell, yeah, still can." So, I can't ride an inflatable around the Channel Islands to shoot photos of birds. There's plenty of other trouble I can get into.

And will.

I'm young yet. There's time.

Go listen to some good music: "The Weight of Love" from the album Fallen Empires by Snow Patrol. Tomorrow, a real post (maybe). And Blogger, damn them, has introduced a new interface, which I hate, so I'm hoping for no formatting errors. Five minutes later: oh yeah, formatting errors up the wazoo. And I wonder why I'm reluctant to post...

13 April 2012

What the moral of the back story could be

Tyranny of the blank page. The longer I don't write, the easier it becomes not to write.

To be fair, I haven't felt like I've had much to contribute to the universal conversation. So much of late has been lather, rinse, repeat. And by the time I have time to sit down in front of this form, I don't have anything to say. It's been drained; I'm exsanguinated.

The son has ruined three white dress shirts in under a month. One for each theatrical production in which he's appeared, and one for the school video news magazine. I finally began charging for replacement. Though he would never admit to it, today when he called to alert me to the destruction of the third shirt, he was almost in tears. I could hear it in his voice. As much as I am, he's ready for high school to be finished.

Today, we had what nearly amounted to a typhoon. I've been through hurricanes, and for a couple of hours, this was close to as bad with flooding rain and insane winds. Trying to pick the daughter up from school was an absolute circus. I crawled down 4th Street as the thunder rumbled, the wind roared and the skies opened. Intersections were filled with up to three feet of water. By evening, the sun shone and a rainbow bisected the sky.

Earlier in the week, the son's laptop died an unexpected death. I will never buy another computer from HP; these two that I purchased for the son and the daughter have been unmitigated disasters. I'd already replaced the daughter's but I was hoping to get through the end of the school year with the son's. It wasn't to be, and I purchased the replacement I'd already picked out from Lenovo. At least I thought I had. It turns out that trying to buy directly from Lenovo is a Very Bad Idea. I've been on the phone with multiple people, through failed orders ("we just changed our software!") and now being told that the computer in question won't be available for four months after expecting to wait four weeks. The HP goes to a repairman tomorrow to see if he can fix it for under $100.

I'm not holding my breath.

Easter and my MIL's birthday were within a week of one another. She dearly desired Peking Duck, and so we had Peking Duck for Easter. Odder things have happened, I'm sure.

I've survived two concurrent weeks of Spring Break. The daughter's started when the son and I were in DC, and I had the pleasure of her company last week. I'd promised her a food truck experience (gourmet food trucks are huge here), and keeping to my word, we enjoyed Taco Maria for lunch one day, followed by an afternoon of antique store browsing and visiting the fabric store. Believe me when I say that Taco Maria's carnitas a la naranja are to die for. I'll be hunting them down again. The daughter pronounced them "OMG good," and then went around the rest of the afternoon singing, "I'm part of the food truck movement."

I had the son this week. He was intrigued by the daughter's food truck fun, and while we went in search of The Viking Truck to no avail, we did enjoy Chomp Chomp Nation. We split a bunch of items, but both of us thought the Sloppy Tots were pretty darn good. We sat in my car (it was raining) and ate companionably. As he's not particularly interested in antique stores, he was adequately thrilled that I graciously allowed him to sign me on to Skyrim, an Xbox game I'd gotten the daughter for Christmas that the spouse, the daughter and the son play with tremendous enthusiasm. Of course, it was cause for considerable comment that by the end of two hours, I was a Level 5 Khajit warrior who excels in two-handed combat, and that I'd dispatched a Drauger Overlord with two chops. And I hadn't died once. When the son texted one of his friends regarding my accomplishments, the friend quipped, "Are you sure your mom isn't Dragonborn?"

They forget I've been playing these sorts of games since Dungeon (the one that became Zork) which was nothing more than a text-based adventure written by some guys from MIT that we played on dumb terminals.

And the world moves on.

I am sickened by so much of what goes on around me. I am revolted by the Santorums and Romneys, truly disgusted. These are people who breathe life into Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. I've told the son, who read the book and was horrified, that I'm buying copies for his female friends. They need to be afraid. There is no balm in Gilead.

But that is another time, another post, maybe another blog. I spend plenty of time in the daylight in a state of rage, and I've tried not to bring that here. Though sometimes I wonder if it's time for a bigger noise, a bigger splash. Like my Skyrim character, I am known for stealth, known for attacking when it's least expected and most effective.

But I dislike confrontation. I dislike discord. I prefer peace. I strive for serenity. I wish others did as well. I wish people would just learn to damn well leave each other alone, to agree to disagree. I may believe--and I do--that women who give birth to 20 children are mentally ill, but if they are doing no harm, do I have a right to try to stop what I see as mania simply because I don't agree with it?

Buried in the detritus of my desk, amongst earrings and notes on the back of envelopes, bottles of pain medication that I won't take and book one of The Walking Dead, I found two black jelly beans. Licorice. I have a profound dislike of licorice, a visceral abhorrence that extends to anise of any sort. They make me uneasy, those jelly beans, staring at me like two dark eyes, ready to leave purple stains on my calendar should they come into contact with any droplet of water or coffee. And yet, I've not dispensed with them--why?

There is something unguided in the sky tonight. I know what it is, and I hug the knowledge with quiet glee to myself. It is mine, all mine. I hear the call, siren song, and know the moment it will turn into.

Our arms full of miracles.

Go listen to some good music: "Go Places" from the album Challengers by The New P*rnographers. Also I've borrowed two lines from the song "Unguided" from the same album. Meaning? You decide. To me, an exercise to start writing again and to unload some of the things that I think about.

01 April 2012

And the beat goes on

Home again, and waiting for Delta to deliver the luggage they sent first to San Diego and then to Salt Lake City. Thanks, Delta! I always wanted my dirty clothing to travel several hundred more miles than I did.

But, home again.

The weekend was a whirlwind, and it represented the final portion of the intelligence gathering stage--as if we haven't been doing enough of that for the last two years. Still, it helped the son to arrive at a decision. He's been quite fortunate to have been accepted for admission to a lot of very fine schools, including the two top state universities.

I'm just glad that this part is done.

I can't believe I have to go through it all again with the daughter, starting next year when she sits for her first PSAT.

I do firmly believe that at some point, I will be able to turn these two over to the world at large so they can start leading their own lives and I can get on with mine.

These days, it seems like a fond hope.

Go listen to some good music: "Ball of Confusion" from the album Express by Love and Rockets.