Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Visit with Mom/Grandma August 2010

Mom was here for five days to visit while also staying with the boys for me while I went to a weekend workshop. They did scavenger hunts, went to the library, played hangman, and Mom worked with Ezra who is suddenly playing two-handed pieces like "Fur Elise" and the "Ode to Joy" where last week he was still using one hand. When I got home we all spent time together. Saturday for example we went to the Minnesota State Fair. If you are from the East Coast (I never knew I was from any coast until I moved here and suddenly am grouped along with everything from Maine to Georgia apparently). You can see such novel things as pigs wearing ribbons, milking demonstrations, and people in real cowboy hats, looking everywhere for Wilbur and Charlotte and finding them several times over, and each year the fair vendors try to top each other for the most unhealthy possible concession. The buzz creates a lot of traffic. E.g., a few years ago someone introduced deep-fried candy bars, then Twinkies, and every year since there is a new abomination. I had spaghetti and meatballs on a stick last year. When we first got there this time the boys "convinced" us (repeated their intention over and over with variations until we just gave in) to go on the Space Tower.

It was high. Maybe Mom has some better pictures of the view. I wasn't thrilled to look out the plexiglass window much less take pictures of what I saw. Vertiginous.

A novelty is the butterfly room. We spent some time in there picking up butterflies. When they are lively they will land on you and stay there. This evening we needed to give them some help. They may have been towards the end of their short lifespan.

At one point I was explaining to Ambrose that "monarch" meant "king" and an adult man surely over the age of 50 leaned in and asked me to repeat it. What did it mean? In his defense, I believe he was a fictional character who only ten minutes before had, disoriented, stepped out of the pages of Garrison Keillor's latest novel. These other pictures are particularly grainy. World's Largest Boar, "Reggie," 1,500 lbs:
The River Rapids Boat Ride. We got a free go-round and ended up very wet. We laughed a lot.
The boys enjoyed the animals but in the only picture I have you're seeing the effects of deep-fried Twinkies and cheese curds on their energy levels.We did a lot of other things but didn't take many pictures so I'll have to skip ahead to the last day, when Mom and I took the kids to the bus for their first day of school. That morning:
The bustop.
I'm glad I've been over the shock of Kindergarten twice so 4th and 1st Grade respectively were relatively painless. While I moaned about the end of summer the past few weeks, really I start doing that around August 1, this year is more of a beginning than anything. My new professional life means I can put the kids on the bus more often, pick them up, and even start doing stuff around their school once in a while. For me changes are coming I can't quite believe. A sense of arriving or just starting to arrive. That also adds a different quality to September. But back to the visit, it's hard to explain my thoughts and the history behind them seeing Ezra so eager to play the piano and practice and listen to my mom, watching them work together. Seeing him make the same concentration-face he made arranging his Matchbox cars in a line at ages two and three. Finding the paper left behind numbering things to find on their walk to the library and imagining Ambrose's reaction to finding a Volkswagen, a baby in a stroller, a man with a cane. How seeing my mom's unmistakeable handwriting on that piece of paper kicks off a flashing filmreel behind my eyes, more dreamlike with each frame, of the tags on the presents of 37 Christmas mornings. This history puts its own frame around pristine new moments in time. And then again sometimes the weight or the lightness of certain moments makes their histories irrelevant.

Thanks Mom. Thanks Grandma.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I listen to dead people.

E and I have gone to a few concerts together, all of them bands she likes. I've enjoyed them or found them at least provocative and interesting, Andrew Bird was by far the best. But I went on Ticketmaster to see if I could find shows for artists I already like or at least whose songs I know. I found Buddy Guy and BB King. Everyone else I'd like to see barring Stevie Wonder is dead---Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes, James Brown---or I'm ashamed to say nearly so old I'm forced to wonder if the show will be any good. Please surprise me. Otherwise I retreat fully into memories of a time and a place I can't remember because I was never there.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August 18, 2010

Did I mention that I hate our goddamn fucking dogs? I left the room for maybe two minutes and the top part of the sandwich I have been saving from the really expensive restaurant I got taken to yesterday for a business meeting, the part with the bacon on it and the grilled bread, is now gone. Bitches.

August 18, 2010

I haven't talked about the topic of hypomania yet in these posts but today I'm having what I just decided to call micromania. It's actually just a strong desire to write partly fueled by caffeine but having been once and continually diagnosed you get in the habit of treating every state like a syndrome. Today walking the dogs for example I was composing things in my head that I felt I needed to rush home and get down before half of them were lost inevitably. I'm not saying any single one of them was remotely good because that would be arrogant but they were at least clear --- the words were there. Part of micromania is that the creative urge seems to be against better judgment. Better judgment is the voice telling you you should be working at all costs. I have a lot of work to do. Lately I have been seriously questioning the voice of better judgment. Sometimes it's just judgment period. In all senses of the phrase I don't work like other people do.

I invent a new phobia.

It's called blancheaphobia and it is a fear of accidentally bleaching dark clothes that you like. Is something a phobia if it's actually happened to you, more than once? Once I decided a Clorox spray and paper towels would be a great way to clean up the plastic in the beige interior of my '97 Honda Odyssey. Wherever the rag touched the carpet it was ruined with orange-colored spots. Another time, same product, I leaned up against the bathroom counter before fully wiping off the spray and left a horizontal bleach mark across a dark blue shirt. Then there are the times the washing machine decides to throw random bleach splatters across my clothes, even when there hasn't been bleach in it for a few loads. It's dangerous. I still use Clorox spray but I change into old clothes first and I stand way back holding the bottle as far away as I can.

On phobias, I am also a checker. Ezra and I went on a camping trip last weekend and before we left I made him stand there next to me as I checked each dial on the stove, twice. First I wiggle them to make sure they're really off. Then I check to make sure in wiggling them I didn't accidentally turn them on. Then I do it at least one more time.

After trying to convince myself this is phobic behavior and that I should, deep breath, try and check things only once (the iron, the oven, the stove, the water running) or not check at all, that's the one time I come home to find I've left the stove on.

I check twice leaving a restaurant to make sure nothing has fallen under the table.

On the checking. I can't fault myself entirely because I was trained as a child in the inevitability of losing things. I grew up watching my father lose every possible thing that could be lost, a pathological level of forgetting that caused a lot of trouble. I still remember him tearing around the house once hissing out a garbled version of "where are my keys," which were in his mouth. The first time we left for England, for him, it was to move there for good, he had thrown out his new passport and kept the old one after getting it renewed for the trip.

He found this out on the line to check in at the aiport, lugging all the shit that wouldn't fit in the hold or that had not gone with the shipping, including the Dune action figure of Sting that his second wife who was with us at the time had given him as a joke. Sting sat stiff-legged on top of the luggage as my Dad tore through his bags in the middle of the line at the airport, cursing.

Was he cursing himself or cursing fate, or both? Bleach is an outside force, though even when the washing machine is at fault I still blame myself. I should have known somehow, the thinking goes. When I have actually forgotten something or screwed something up by not thinking it through however, I blame fate. Nobody asks for a hole in his head like the one I have, a missing space that fills up easily with worry and compulsion. It's another phobia, fear of one's own capacity to forget.

August 18, 2010

I've had some one-on-one time with Ams because his brother has had sleepovers. When Ams is by himself there is little temper, no stomping, kicking, yelling, protracted wailing or throwing of objects. No war toys. There's just a little boy who plays with stuffed animals and can't seem to get enough of me.

Monday, August 09, 2010

2nd Annual Scout camping trip, Ezra and Dad.

This year's:

Last year's:

August 9, 2010

Being so self-directed lately I veer back and forth between thinking I should take this opportunity of being self-employed to explore creative but entrepreneurial things I wouldn't have the time or flexibility for previously or feeling like I need to rack up as many billable hours as possible. It came to me this morning that if you focus on any one thing too much however wholesome or necessary it seems you are in danger of missing something else.