Friday, April 29, 2005

Wicked Wednesdays

My husband and I are a product of a long-distance relationship and I think we're doing pretty well. Married almost 8 years, two lovely daughters, a house and a cat. However, we weren't long distance for very long. We met in July at an Independence Day party. He was living in Newark and I in Cleveland. We lasted until about September, when I moved to Columbus, about 35 miles away instead of 300.

But during those long-distance days, it was very unsettling. On the weekends, when one of us would manage to visit the other (usually, I would drive to see him as I was the only one with a reliable car), it was lovely. We would have a good time, hang out with his friends, go for walks in the park and amuse each other with our best charms. Then it would be time to leave. I was sad to part, but I knew I could face the week ahead after having such a great time over the weekend. Monday would be good and we would talk on the phone. Tuesday, a little less so, maybe one of us couldn't reach the other by phone. Usually, I was the one who couldn't reach him. And since I was blessed with a neurotic mind and an overactive imagination; I usually began seriously to worry.

Was he out with another girl? Could I really trust him? Maybe I really wasn't in love with him afterall. No, I was; I thought. If I couldn't get in touch with him, on Wednesday, I'd seriously start to sulk, question my motives and just plain worry. Eventually, I'd talk to him and we'd make plans for the weekend and everything would be back to butterflies and bunnies.

I couldn't take it for very long. I was compelled to pick up and move myself closer to him. I quit my job, moved in with my Aunt and Uncle in Columbus and began a much more sensible relationship with him. We were closer, but not close enough. By February of the next year, we had decided to wed and set the date for October 25. By May, I'd decided to get a little apartment in Newark and we were finally dating in a "textbook" fashion. We could go out for dinner one night, catch a movie, go for a walk, whatever and then we could do it again the next day! We actually started to work at the same place and commute together. It was rad.

I don't like to be far away from him hardly ever. Even now, after 9 years of knowing him, I still want him close. I don't even like to be in different rooms from him in our house. I don't know if that strange or not. I think he feels the same way, although he is OK with being in different rooms from time to time.

On a side note, he did have to learn how to carry on a conversation with me while one or the other of us was on the john. This was a common practice in my family; conversations didn't stop just because you had to pee. We followed each other everywhere. Although, nowadays, I give him the space he needs and I'm finding that having some space myself is good too. It's amazing how protective I have become of that 47 second time allotment for taking a leak these days. My girls seem also to be of the mind that a pee shouldn't interfere with your next converstational point.

Anyway, having a long distance love was exciting at first; then a bit agonizing, then a bit of a drag, at least for someone with the attention span of a hummingbird (yours truly). But I do think they can work. If you find yourself in one and feeling the drag, I believe a change of perspective helps. Don't get too serious, too fast. Enjoy the glamour of savoring every moment together. Also enjoy the drama of being lovelorn during your days of separation. But, whatever happens, don't take each other too seriously. There is no point in worrying about what the other is doing. There is also no point in getting carried away when you're together and doing or saying things you may regret later.

Work for balance, grasshoppers. Give each other some space. Don't crowd each other in the bathroom. And keep trying to make it work so that you both feel comfortable and safe. It really is worth it.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Mother Nature and I Are No Longer on Speaking Terms

116.3 inches of snow fell this year, a foot of which descended on us in this, the last weekend of what is being called the "Snowiest April in Northeast Ohio." The forecast for today is 49 degrees, which will cause all of this snow to melt and flood the streets and basements of we the winter-weary. I mean, come on!!! It is April 25; I should not need to use my four-wheel drive at this time of year unless I am baja-ing through the mud!!!

I am trying not to loose my cool however. If Old Man Winter can't stop showing off, the only reasonable response from me is the cold shoulder. My co-worker was so upset by the weather that she was crying tears of anger this morning. We must make allowances for her, though, she does hail from California and, even though she has lived here for years, she still can't cope with the absence of an ocean and the ridiculous amounts of preciptiation. Better start looking for a new home now, honey, because, while it won't get much worse than this ::fingers crossed:: it won't get much better either. And if the Lake is not a good enough specimen of a sweeping body of water, then you are SOL.

I plan to discontinue the conversation about the weather; I do believe that Mother Nature is just trying to get attention. I will not encourage this behavior by marvelling at it further. She interfered with our Christmas plans, she caused power lines to be snapped and people to live primatively for weeks at a time, and she has driven me to create complete and decorative delusions in order that I not go mad. I have constructed elaborate fantasies and have slipped them over my eyes like rose colored glasses, so that instead of seeing slush, gray skies, snow and ice, I see daffodils in bloom and bunny rabbits frollicking; the grass is green and lush, and the wind conditions and the temperature are ideal for kite flying.

So, if you see me leaning over to sniff a pile of snow driven off the road by a snow plow, please, leave me be. My toes know it's still winter, my car knows its still winter, but my eyes and ears and nose can't take it anymore. We're just going to pretend its honest-to-God springtime until Mother Nature comes to her senses, slaps Old Man Winter, and brings me my butterflies and bunnies.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Random McNuggets

It's weird; I usually have a running opinion/commentary on life but I'm sitting here scratching my head wondering what to write about. Plenty happened at work this week, but I won't write about work here because it is not whimsical. I guess this will just happen to be a post that captures the little things from this week. And I'll do it in another color.

Random McNugget 1:
I have decide who will be eliminated in the next five weeks of American Idol and who will ultimately win:
  • Next week: Carrie will leave.
  • Then, Vonzell
  • Then, Constantine
  • Then, Scott
  • Then, Anthony
  • Leaving Bo as your next American Idol.

These are not just random offerings, there is a system that I have that is based on fanbases and the individual singing styles of the remaining contestants.

Random McNugget 2

Riley had fun dancing to Rossini's overtures last night. She is now interested in ballet and dance (even Hip Hop!) thanks to Zoe's Amazing Dance Moves video, featuring Paula Abdul. She even let me put her hair up, which is an unbelievable accomplishment.

Random McNugget 3

Lucy said Ta-da! after she did something that amused herself the other day. Very cute. She is also saying hello, as well as uh-oh, no, yum yum. I can't wait til she starts conversing in earnest. She also does this cute babbling that sounds something like "doodle doodle doodle doodle" but is more precise and cute.

Random McNugget 4

The other night, I was compelled to giggle at the current state of Shawn's hair. At first he didn't know why I was giggling, but I just explained that he needs a haircut. It just looked so comical, but in a cute and endearing way. It was sticking up in little curly horns all over his head. So the next day he went to get it cut. The lady asked him if he was getting it cut for the summer, and he said, that his wife was teasing him about it. She said, "Well, at least she's still looking." He replied, "Yeah, that's why I'm here." Aww. This small anecdote just warmed my heart. He's a keeper.

Random McNugget 5

My friend Elaine and I went to lunch at Becky's yesterday. It was wonderful and relaxing. I enjoyed it so much, I convinced my friend Martha to join me and we went back today. It's looks like a dive on the outside, but inside it has hardwood floors a raised dining area, a nice bar and the best food evah! Martha and I were so hungry and the service was very slow. After awhile, the waitress brought a plate of homemade chips to our table so that we could hold body and soul together until our food arrived. It was a nice escape from the workplace on such a hectic week.

TGIF and TTFN.

Greenpearl out.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The FDA Recommends a Balanced Budget

I don't really want to go into the details, but it seems like, after two years, I finally make more than I pay out in bills. Now, Shawn doesn't need to get a job, I don't need a second job and we can start saving money.

I don't have to be rich, but I do have to feel like I have some freedom. I can't tell you how frightening it has been to know that, if we hadn't had some well-timed influxes of cash, I don't know what we would have done. Fortunately, supply and demand have met and seem to have a lot in common.

I can already feel the weight lifting off of my shoulders; that burden that has occupied more than its share of real estate in the territory of my brain that worries. We have everything we need, pretty much, so now we just need to maintain the monthly stuff and not take on any big projects or expenses. I highly recommend maintaining this kind of balance.

Ah...Prescription Pain Kilers

They do bring on the most interesting dreams. Here's mine:

I was a contestant on American Idol and I was up first. But there was some confusion and I couldn't get to the stage right away, so Bo went in my place. When he was done singing, I was up. I stood on stage and realized that I knew my song inside and out, but I just blanked. Rather than just standing there, I decided to belt out "The Gambler" for my grandpa [see his eulogy here].

I started off acapella with "You've got to know when to hold'em..." and I sung my ass off. The band started in with me and the back up singers joined me on stage and we rocked the house. I "brought it," as Randy Jackson would say. I didn't hear what the judges said, however, because whatever crisis kept me from the stage the first time was still unresolved.

In the aftermath, I kept trying to find out how it went, but no one would tell me how I did or what the judges thought. At one point, I stopped running around and just stood there thinking. I sensed someone standing to my left, slightly behind me. It was my grandpa, looking dapper as ever in a navy blue suit. He just smiled and gave me a kiss on the lips and then followed my grandma out of the room.

It felt so wonderful to see him and to get a kiss, complete with prickles from his pencil-thin moustache. I know it was his spirit. He didn't speak to me but he didn't have to. I knew he was pleased that I gave him a shout-out and thanked me for it in the best way possible.

The dream went on in the usual Sunday night, pre-return to work way, but when I woke up, I still felt the joy of being visited by his spirit. I love you Grandpa. Thanks for the kiss.

Friday, April 15, 2005

My Little Firecracker

Last summer, I went to a psychic while in Salem, MA (when in Rome...) who described my oldest daughter as being "quite a little firecracker". She was right about that as well as many other things. I was thinking about that remark last night as Shawn and I were laying in bed watching a movie. Riley is staying with her Grandma and Pop and so was not home. The house seemed so still. Granted, it was 11:00 p.m. and ordinarily it probably would be still at that time. Lucy was asleep in her crib but there seemed to be an energy void.

It's almost like, on any given day, we live with a small weather system that bounces around the house, sometimes raining, sometimes sunny and clear, but always advancing. When she's gone, it is indescribably still, even with Lucy in the house. A sense of sanity washes over us as we are once more "in charge." That's not to say we have an out-of-control three-year old. Actually, being three means being out of control. It is very difficult to have anything go our way. Our little weather system is orbiting around one or all of us at anytime, bringing down showers; showers of love, destruction, entertainment, laughter, gleeful anarchy, and sometimes wisdom. But never is there a calm day. It's like living on the lakeshores of Chicago in March.

Now I know what Bill Cosby meant when he said that parents of only children weren't real parents (sorry Mom and Dad). With only one child to work with, you get a chance to catch your breath. You hold an obvious majority. Your attention is focused on that one child. When you add another one to the mix, you are constantly on guard. While teaching one child her ABC's, you must keep one ear on the other child in the kitchen. Lord knows, both of my girls have ended up doing something breathtakingly dangerous such as opening the dishwasher and sitting on the door holding steak knives in both hands.

With two children you never have that feeling that all you are responsible for is in your control. With two, you are constantly running your psychic radar and tuning in to the rhythms and sounds of the house, asking yourself, "Was that the cat? Or did someone just fall out of bed?" or "Is Shawn fixing dinner or is Riley using the oven as a basketball hoop?" And "Can I stop the bleeding on one child while administering a bottle to the other?" The worst is when one of the children is crying just to be dramatic and the other one begins crying in sympathy.

But the best part is when they are both piled on top of me, giggling and laughing. Or when they are playing together quietly, in the same room with each other. Or when one tries to teach something to the other or help the other one out. It really is quite lovely. So, while I treasure the break in the weather, I also miss it like I would miss my right hand. I worry when we get a break, that it will somehow dull our senses. Actually, the opposite seems to happen. With freshly rested troops, we are able to frollick in the sunshine and sandbag ourselves against the monsoon much more effectively. A good night sleep works miracles.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Let's Go Fly a Kite

Having spent most of the long winter watching Mary Poppins over and over again, I have been longing for springtime and the opportunity to go fly a kite. In the movie, it is the prize at the end of a struggle and a new beginning. I bought the girls kites for the birthday and hoped to fly them at their party last weekend. However, Mother Nature had other ideas and let loose with a snow storm that pushed us into history with record-breaking aplumb.

So today, we all went to Wildwood Park in Euclid with hopes that the breezes off the Lake will carry our kite to the highest heights. Boy, did it ever! It was at least 20 degrees colder and the wind was gusting. Unfortunately it was too cold for some of us, so my parents and the babies stayed in the car while Shawn and I flew the kite.

It is a beautiful kite. I only paid six bucks for it. It is kite shaped but it has a colorful fish emblazoned on it and the fins extend past the limits of the diamond shape. The tail is about twelve feet long and it has several smaller fish attached to it. Man, this kite soared. All you had to do was let go of it and man the string. What a beautiful sight to see set against the backdrop of the lake and the skyline of Cleveland. I was amazed, moved, and delighted all at the same time.

It is a wonderful feeling. All you have to do is watch it soar and react to the changes in the wind. It is still necessary to concentrate, but no so much you can't enjoy it. I was also able to allow my mind to wander and take in the beauty and love around me. Shawn never looked more lovable than when he was flying the kite. Who knew it was also so romantic?

Eventually, Riley did get to fly it. We were all delighted and made plans to do this often during the summer. How have we lived here for two years and never gone to the lakeshore? It is about 20 minutes from our house and now we know how to get there. I will remember the moments flying the kite forever. It will be filed away with other "happy places" to recall in times of pain and suffering right next to my memories of the valley.

No Longer a Baby, Not Yet a Toddler

Lucy turned a year old yesterday and I was thankful for the milestone. I had a realization while I was giving her a bottle that this task would soon no longer be required of me. I started to fret a bit. I noticed how much more like Riley she seemed; so much less a baby now. And then I began to really enjoy the way we are together at bottle time. My left arm cradling her, her right hand twisting a strand of her hair. Her legs tangled in mine and the weight of her resting on me. Pretty soon she won't want to snuggle quite as much. And she probably won't be all too interested in sitting quietly on my lap.

But then I begin to look ahead and see her running around, chasing the cat, chasing Riley. I looked forward to talking to her about the things that scared her or the things that lit her up. I was very relieved when Riley became a toddler and more independent. I am not as relieved for Lucy to make that transition. I know it is the last time I will probably spend so much time with a baby until I am a grandmother myself. I am less eager for the transition and desperate for it at the same time.

I am ready for regular bed times, sleeping through the night, reading stories, coloring, talking. But not quite as ready as the first time around. Shawn and I have seen to it that whimsy will not get the better of us and made it biologically impossible to have any more children. I'm both relieved and sad about that too. But it is probably for the best. I'm pretty exhausted most of the time as it is and as much of a joy it is to have an infant, it is more work for those of us already stretched too thin.

Someday, these two amazing little girls will be amazing young women. I can't wait for each new stage they approach. But I am now looking forward to those new stages with a new-found respect for the present. I don't want to squander these times by trying to rush them past like checking so many tasks off of a to do list.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A Night in Sin City

I went to see Sin City at the theater last weekend with Shawn, Eoin and Elizabeth (see her account here). It's always nice to have a night out without the kids and I did have a good time. No really, I did. Even though I cried, shook uncontrollably, and walked out of the movie. The last time I felt that disturbed at the theater was after I watched Silence of the Lambs.

But, it was a night out afterall. We did have drinks before at Don Pablos. We had popcorn and sodas. And we got to see the trailer for Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which looks rad, by the way. Eoin and Shawn were trying to convince me that this movie was going to be good. I believe they even used the argument that it was like Pulp Fiction, only better, because it was based on a comic book. "Whee!" I responded in mock glee.

I was really trying to be a good sport about the whole thing. I knew the men's will to see this movie was too strong to bend towards another movie, say, Hitch. Afterall, anything comic book-driven is manna from heaven for these two. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I enjoy comic book capers as well. So I tried to embrace the artistry of the movie and disregard the corn of the omnipresent voice-over.

Alas, the subject matter was too strong for me. I don't even want to get into it because typing the words makes me want to cry. But any story involving harming a child makes me insane with sorrow and rage. It is not fair game for a plot device, as far as I'm concerned (yeah, I'm talking to you too, Oprah's book club). A high level of suffering of the innocent is not necessarily a hallmark of a quality story.

All the women in the story were prostitutes/dancers/waitresses and scantily clad. They were also ridiculously blood-thirsty. One was even called a Valkyrie Warrior Woman in voice over by her male love interest. Ick. I don't know if it was empowering or degrading. But by the time they showed up, I was too numb to have any feelings of feminist outrage.

I wanted to leave the theater. I left for a bathroom break and took as long as possible. I even dried my hands completely with the hand dryer. But the movie was still going. Then I sat there and tried to cover my eyes and ears and think about Colin Firth. Finally, I just whispered to Shawn that I was going to get the car and I'd meet them out front. It really was the best decision. I had a chance to get my bearings as I walked to the car in the early April snowstorm.

And then, the whole way home, Elizabeth and I got to torment them about how we would exact our revenge for this movie. We talked of many options, but I think my favorite was, "Aren't the Idols coming to town this summer?"

Friday, April 01, 2005

The End of the Age of Sequels

It was a very short period of time where sequels seemed to reign supreme. Spiderman 2: better than the original. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: best of the bunch. Maybe it was the Return of the King that brought down the brief reign of the sequel. I'm not sure when it happened, but it has. Just watch Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and you will see my point. This movie was so careless with the story line and the characters, it made me ill. They shoe-horned in Hugh Grant's character and they made Bridget out to be way more dippy than she is in the book. They split one character into two. The list of atrocities is too long to catalog. As Bridget herself would say: Gah!

Sequels are also notorious for inside jokes and self-referential "wit". I say "wit" because they really think they are being funny and clever, but they actually are just recycling old jokes in a smug manner. When movies start getting all self-referential these days, I start getting disgruntled. Stop doing that, movies. I don't care to gaze in wonder or gasp for breath at your amazing grasp of the post-modern! Embrace the post-post-modern! Or the Age without Irony or whatever the Fuck era we are currently existing in. You no longer have to prove how clever and detached you are to me. Start showing me how stupid and attached you can be. I'm just interested in a little authenticity, people.

Shreck 2 also sucked with great force. It was smirky and amused with itself. It felt like after Sam and Diane had kissed. "I'm still watching Cheers," I say to myself, "why don't I care now?" "Oh yeah, they are still fighting, just not about anything interesting." If we are going to meet the parents, let's do so in the style of Meet the Parents. But not in the style of Meet the Fockers. While I will admit that I laughed aloud at the theater (all by myself, by the way) at the reference to American Idol ("Focker Out!") and I thought Barbara Streisand was like buttah, the movie did not live up to the ticklefest of the first one.

From this day forward, I vow never to see a sequel in the theater again. I will not spend my hard earned dollars or even those dollars handed to me by my parents to feed the mill that creates this crap. In fact, I won't buy the sequels on DVD either. Especially not the direct-to-dvd sequels such as Aladdin 3 or the Disney Princess movies (Snow White, Jasmine, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel and Belle all together fighting crime or the advance of feminism or whatever it is those literary equivalents of cotton candy do in those stories). I'll see the original. But not Number 2 (pun most definately intended).