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Archive for October, 2008

Some conversations…

Driving in the car with J and the girls. Red pipes up from the back seat, “Hey! We’re kind of like a family!”

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J says to me a while ago, when we first met, “You’re way smart. You’re much smarter than me! And I’m not that smart!”

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Upon waking at J’s house at 5am to two alarms (we were scared we wouldn’t wake up to one, since I had to be on the road to get the girls and take them to school)…we scramble to turn off the two alarms and suddenly hear more high pitched noise. His cat was plucking the strings of J’s guitar. He WOULD have a cat that plays the guitar. He said, in the midst of the early morning groggy confusion of noise, “And now Cat’s gonna play us a song!”

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I was looking at the wall of photos at J’s mum’s house. There was one of him at age 18 with a moustache. I couldn’t help but snicker. Even funnier, he let me know it was his senior portrait in 1980. He was a senior in high school when I was in first grade. Yeah. Scary.  11 years isn’t so bad at this age. But back then? Yikes. 

At Blockbuster the other day, he had forgotten his card, so they used his license. I checked out his picture and blurted out, “HEY! YOU WERE BORN IN THE 60s!!!!”

The line behind us snickered.

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I spent the last four months or so, picking my way through the entire Sex in the City series.

I never watched it before and when the movie came out, I realized I may be missing something.

I Netflixed it, slowly but surely.

And it has now come to a close.

What’s left? What’s left, you say?

Well, the movie sits packed in my bag to take up north to J’s house. I’ll be visiting him this weekend.

The last time we were at Blockbuster, he goes, “I haven’t seen Sex in the City yet!” He sounded kind of excited.

But I interjected very quickly and panicked, “NO! NOT YET! We can’t get THAT one! I HAVE ONE MORE DISK TO WATCH!”

So, alas, we will watch it this weekend.

And then after that?

Well, I’ll be cancelling Netflix. Because, well, the Tivo is full. I could stand to be $10 a month richer. I get HBO, Showtime, Starz and a bunch of other channels I realize have great things I can watch and follow. And in desperation, I can go to Blockbuster. In extreme desperation, I can just read a book.

On another note, I am pms-ing like never before. Grilled cheese with Grey Poupon for breakfast. Chocolate and ginger bar at midnight. Icecream. Mocha in my coffee. Candy set aside for the trick or treaters (I’ll be leaving the light off at this rate).

Just my luck, to be pms-ing on Halloween week.

AND, I feel like a total monster.

And then I had a horrendous thought.

When my two girls become of age, there will be three of us…THREE of us…pms-ing…all at the same time.

God save me.

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Prices

$3.99 a pound for lobster down the street.

$2.46 a gallon for gas on the other side of town.

$1800.00 for a flight to see J when he goes away in December.

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Free Labor

I haven’t started my kids on an allowance yet, or making them do chores around the house for money.

Why? You ask?

Because they love chores for the sake of having chores.

Seriously.

As kids, my sister and I were worked to death (not really, but we did alot of chores)

We had to weed the garden and pick vegetables, wash windows, the car, clean baseboards, dust, do dishes and laundry. There was one task we didn’t mind and that was to water the garden (what kid doesn’t like complete control over a hose?) and pull the snails off the garden wall and throw them into the street.

We were the kids on the street who had flattened snails in a big silvery patch, right in front of our house. It was really funny and gross. But true. 

Once we understood the concept of money, we started getting paid for some of these tasks. One big money maker was polishing the silver and brass and copper in our house. Since my mom was an antique collector, there was tons of it. And since she has always kind of been obsessive compulsive about things like keeping things shiny, this job came up about once a month.

I think I bought my plane ticket to summer camp every summer, merely on what I made polishing the housewares.

My mother passed along some of my favorite copper that has been in our family for many years and I keep it hanging on the wall in my kitchen. And I inherited my grandmother’s silver flatware, which I use daily (why hide it in a cupboard for one holiday a year?) I noticed how dark it was all becoming. I think I’d polished it about a year and a half ago, so it was nigh time to do something about it. (plus, every time my mom came over, she’d tsk tsk over the disappointment in my letting it all go for so long).

So I got out the stuff.

And then suddenly the kids gravitated to the counter.

And then they took over.

 

And lo and behold, they love cleaning copper and silver.

They didn’t ask for money, so I am holding off on that for now. When they ask, or when they stop wanting to do it, I will pay them. Hopefully I’ll be able to afford their going rate. For now, I get free labor.

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Thirty-six hours in NYC is just NOT enough.

First, J and I left town Thursday morning and drove to Sacaucus, NJ, where we got an AFFORDABLE hotel. It was SO easy to get into the city, but best of all, the hotel was so great, best hotel I have stayed in in a long long time.

And why do I say that?

Well, I felt I could actually walk barefoot on the floor.

The bathtub caulking was WHITE.

The shower curtain was WHITE.

And there was a Starbucks cart down in the lobby.

What more could you want?

Oh wait…THERE WAS AN AMAZING VIEW OF NYC.

You don’t get that if you stay IN New York city.

I’ve been to NYC many many times but the last time was about 6 years ago. Before that, I would go see friends and follow them around a city they knew like the back of their hand. Interestingly, I didn’t have to navigate myself through because J is a natural at it. He’d never really spent much time there but he totally got it and figured out where we were going and how to get there, efficiently and without getting mugged. (actually, I felt incredibly safe in the city aside from getting practically accosted by the people selling comedy club seats out on the sidewalk of Time’s Square, THAT was scary).

On Thursday night, we ventured down a road that someone suggested, to find some live music. When we arrived to the neighborhood, I was like “oh wow, this is coooooool.”

I mostly noticed that at eleven o’clock at night, there were places open still. And some, most importantly a pie shop, were open 24 hours.  Oh, to get pie in the middle of the night, would be wondrous.

And then realized we were in Greenwich Village. It’s my new favorite place that I want to go back to, and not just because of the pie. And as I said before, 36 hours in NYC is just not enough.

We got home late on Friday night and the girls were sleeping at my mother’s house. As we got into bed, I looked over on the nightstand and picked up the new DenTek Nightguard I bought last month at the drugstore. I had boiled it and fit it and put it by my bed. I picked it up and showed it to J and said, “I got this night guard because I’m cracking my teeth from clenching my jaw at night, but I haven’t used this yet.” 

And it got me wondering, why I hadn’t tried it out yet.

But that was not the night. A night guard just-ain’t-sexy with J in bed with me.

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I loved baths as a kid and would sit with a novel and read for hours, soaking and basking in the quietness and warmth and stories, for a long time each night.  J takes baths and I admire that he does it, enjoys it, takes care of himself to relax in that way, because for me, relaxing seems to go by the wayside for the most part. Somehow though, I can settle down inside and take a break when I am hanging out with him.

It got me thinking about my grandparents this weekend, when I was visiting J, and he started filling up the tub for us.

My grandfather would clean out the tub and fill it, for my grandmother’s daily soak. Up until my grandfather passed away when I was 23, I know that he cleaned and filled the tub for her nearly every day.

You may think she had been an invalid, but she wasn’t. She was an interior decorator in Los Angeles, was the ultimate socialite and kept an immaculate home. She had dinner parties every weekend and held luncheons in the summer. All my life, I thought of Nana as a strong and independent woman, because she made decisions and walked and talked, proud and put together.

But when Papa passed away in 1996, the reality came to the forefront. He was no longer there to fill the tub for her and what came to light was that Nana knew so much about life on the surface but when it came down to the nitty gritty of bills and business and things as simple as balancing a checkbook or having an estate plan, she had failed.  She became helpless and lost.

What I admire most is that she rose up out of that quickly and learned it all. She closed her own business and started to run my grandfather’s, for many years. She ran the household more efficiently. She paid bills and budgeted. She invested. She also became humble as she educated herself, became unafraid to ask questions and then went on her merry way, something I never saw in my first 23 years with her. She depended on no one.

When I was 30, Nana passed away. I was pregnant with Blue and flew out to see her as she was not expected to live much longer than a few more weeks. Our conversations consisted of womanhood and parenthood, independence and love. And one of the things she reminded me, was to never be left in a lurch. It was important for her to remind me of that.

Something that I remembered as I was going through my divorce was how I wanted to always be sure I could take care of myself, that I didn’t need to depend on someone for daily tasks or things that I am too lazy to figure out just because the other person happens to do them for me. I proudly took everything on, on my own. It was liberating and empowering. I expected nothing from anyone. 

I’ve realized recently that it’s okay to have some help. That it’s not terribly hurtful to ask for a favor or to express humility in not being able to do something on my own. In admitting the need for help actually projects towards those I am asking, “you are needed” and “you are wanted”. 

My grandfather made breakfast for my grandmother almost every morning, drew her bath daily, and protected her from the one thing that she needed the most, tools to take care of herself.

J brought up the idea a while ago, after he learned that I moved half a tree from my parking spot here at home, in the driving rain, on my own (without waiting for him to arrive an hour later and ask for his help), that I needed to be a bit better at asking for help, that I don’t need to and can’t do everything on my own. 

I’m working on it, but honestly, so far, he’s doing great things on his own. As great as a natural reassurance he expresses about his going away for a few months to play down south, and as simple as his turing my car around in his driveway, so that when I left at 5am the next morning, I would be able to just pull straight out onto the road. And as whole and real as his presence with me when we are together, or the way his voice sounds when he calls and calls me “Baby“.

I am reminded of Nana every day when I use the silver flatwear that she left me in her will. When my kids weigh things in the antique baker’s scale in my kitchen, when I put on a pair of earrings that I know she wore to her own wedding. And I have a sense of peace about being able to love and be loved, ask for help and appreciate having my bath drawn…all while being capable of “doing life”, all on my own.

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Drawing the line

I can’t stop laughing, at how I drew the line with having “the game” on while getting romantic.

And how the next day, when things were getting a bit frisky and “Terms of Endearment” was on, I didn’t have the heart to ask him to turn off the television.

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