Saturday, July 14, 2007

Time to Go

Tomorrow, Lizzie and I will hop on a plane and end up in Pittsburgh, PA, where Mom lives. We'll meet her and niece Abby, 4, who is staying with her for a few days while her mom, my sister, Erica, attends a veterinary conference in Washington, DC. Should be good times.

That is, as long as Lizzie and Abby manage to arrange a princess diva detante. Both of them are strong willed, imaginative only children who like to be the center of their own self created dramas. The rest of us are bit parts in the pagents of their lives. Last time we visited Erica and her family, last Christmas, Lizzie complained (after only an hour or two) that Abby was driving her crazy with her (then) 3-year-old demands. Suck it up, we told her. You don't remember how you were when you were that age, but we certainly do. And isn't payback a bitch?

This will be Abby's first time away from home without Mommy, too, so we need to be extra solicitous. "Let's go through all the books you have that you've outgrown and see if there are any princess numbers we can take with us to Grandma's," I suggested, casual, breezy, yesterday.

Lizzie shrugged. She hates to divest herself of anything. Even the wrappers from old suckers still litter her shelves--treasures, she proclaims. Once, when she was 5 or so, I found myself saying, "Lizzie, this scares me. This is not normal." But that's another story.

Today, I dredged up a Borders giftcard Erica gave me for that last Christmas in Boston and announced that we should go to the mall today and use it, get some books for the trip.

"Great," Lizzie said. "I'll get a Roald Dahl book and maybe we can get a few princess books as well."

Nice. Deft. That's a quality diva move there--spending MY giftcard on another princess because the original princess is too stingy or abnormal to get rid of her old books.

So tomorrow we fly off with our new books, whatever they happen to be, and two suitcases, and two carry ons, and the best of intentions. Wish us luck.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What I Want

I have a burning need to write something here, to be in the middle of an imaginary conversation--no, scratch that, an imaginary lecture, where I am holding forth and you are listening with baited breath (whatever that means), nodding in all the right places, giving me a 100 watt smile, and once in a while leaning forward to grab my hands and give them a squeeze.

I have a burning need to be in the middle of this imaginary holding forth, and for there to be a bottle of wine--no, make that two bottles of red wine--on the table between us. I want this conversation to take place in Arizona, at a kitchen table, at the battered, round kitchen table in my old 4 room rented house on Santa Barbara, next to the window that overlooks the raggedy ass shed in front of the abandoned dog run. I want the baked weeds cracking the red brown dirt to overhear our sudden laughter. I want it to be the summer, to know that outside it's 112 degrees and inside, where we are, it's about 90, but it feels cool compared to the sizzle of the sun on our skin where there's no shade. I want to say, "Shit, living here is like living in a nuclear blast," and I want you to laugh and agree.

I want to gossip about people we know, critique their conversations, their hair cuts, their clothing, their style of interaction, their inability to sustain human relationships past the superficial level, their sociopathic love of ideas and distrust of emotions. I want to see and name all the ways in which we are superior to them and their petty, intellectual concerns. I want us to gaze into each other's eyes with the puffed up sense that we are, indeed, the chosen. That we are special. We belong to the world in a crucial and identifiable way.

I want to be 20-something, and poor, and maybe just married. Not pregnant yet, certainly. Still in the prime of my physical life. Let me be flush with health and desire. Give me a poem or two in the mental hopper. A great idea for a short story and the time to write it. Throw in the two cats, but make them, again, spend most of their time outside, stalking the birds dumb enough to light on the starved ornamental orange trees in the broken tubs outside the front windows. I'll take the two boy cats instead of the two girl cats of those long ago years--the boy cats are just more grateful for me. They run at me with feline glee lighting their eyes, they rub their faces all over my legs, all over my cheeks, they bump me from all angles, trying to get their scent into me. They remind me that I'm special, that they belong to me in a crucial and identifiable way. The girl cats never did that; they reminded me that I was tangential, but necessary. That I was a loud, large feeding machine.

Let's sit at the kitchen table and let me talk your ear off. Let me work myself up into an inspired rant. Let me make new combinations of metaphor and insult sing through my catalogue of real and imagined abuses in our petty academic world, where we agonize over essays on William Carlos Williams and Elizabeth Bishop while small time mobsters turn on the ignition in their Caddies and blow themselves sky high, right outside the Ventana Canyon resort. Let me go on and on about this small life with the fervor of a true believer in my reality, in my fleshy pleasures, while you smile and nod and laugh in all the right places.

Let me think about how much I love you, sitting there, across from me, and how much I love this life, all its promises, all its small and sometimes delicious pleasures, and disappointments, and half-finished projects, as the afternoon falls down and the light across the table turns red, then purple, and the ceiling fan ticks the minutes away, pushing cooler night air across our faces.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

New Purchases

Lizzie's new bed arrived today--a full size canopy bed. Only when we picked the bed in the store, it didn't have the canopy attached. It was just a handsome four poster dealie-o.

The WG&R men arrived at 8:45 in the 8-12 window and marched into Lizzie's cleared bedroom. We heard them muttering to each other while we played Othello in the dining room. Banging and a bit of clanging.

"Well," said the bearded one, a small man who reminded me of a bit part in a Shakespeare drama, all ferrety goodness, "it's going to be .... in there."

"Excuse me?"room without bed

"It's going to be a tight fit in there, a little snug," he said. "That dresser."

They were all done. Ferret-man whipped out a thick stack of papers. "You'll need to sign this."

I looked at the slot for my signature, next to the fine print: "I have examined my purchase and everything has been installed satisfactorily."

"I better go in there and make sure," I half-joked, "before I sign."

The bed sucks up all the available space in the small bedroom. The dresser, up against a corner, allows Lizzie only 3 inches between bed and drawers. "Ooo," I said. "We'll have to rearrange."

But what the ------? The bed looked just as it did in the showroom, with the addition of a fugly white metal arched canopy frame, one of the rods slightly bent. "It comes with a canopy?"

"Yep." The guy waved the stack of papers at me. "See? You paid for it."

Indeed. 60.00 for the fugly hardware. The four poster bed itself, even with the flower applique on headboard and footboard, could be considered tasteful. Topped with the empty metal canopy frame, however, it reminded me of the rickety daybed I put in my grad school apartment living room, pretending to have a couch. Whenever we sat on it, it jingled and clanked, saying "cheap," saying "low rent."

After the WG&R men left, Lizzie and I hopped into the car and tore over to Linens and More. Of course they'd have a canopy topper.

Nope--just mosquito netting on cheap plastic hula hoops.

Back home, I called WG&R to see about the situation. The man who sold us the furniture, JW, didn't pick up his extension. I dialed 0# to speak to a customer service operator. "Hm," he said, "I don't think we sell the beds with the tops themselves. Just the metal frames. Let me call the store."

I sat on hold for a while. "I can't get anyone to pick up at the store," he said, finally. "It must be busy today. We're having a sale. But my wife was looking for one of those and I think she found it at Shopko. Or Target."

"Thanks," I said, and called Target. They had one full sized canopy left for 24.95, a Hello Kitty number. Oooo, I said, please hold that for me.

Shopko didn't have anything but the mesh hula hoops, for 9.95, marked down from 34.95.

We drove to Target and visited Guest Services. No, the canopy wasn't there yet. We waited while someone ran it up from the back of the store.

Only to discover that it was a hula hoop mesh number with a gaudy circus tent action on top, festooned with Hello Kitty advertising. Bleah.

Thinking like Whiz Mom in a Pinch, I toured the curtain and sheet section with Lizzie. "Look," I said, "We could get some of these sheer curtains and drape them over the top of the frame. What do you think?"

Lizzie shook her head. No. Ugh. Not what she wanted.

"Okay. How about draping a sheet over it?"

That was more up her alley. We picked out a full sized white flat sheet, on sale for 7.99 (back to college sale).

Back home, we heated chicken nuggets in the toaster oven and enjoyed our brand new airconditioning unit, which for 3000.00 delivers an even 75 degree coolness. I had a quesadilla or two. Willow followed me from stove to table, nosing me in the rear hopefully. Perhaps she thought she'd joggle a piece of ham or cheese out of my loose grip. Ha!

The sheet looks okay on the frame. I pinned it to each of the four corners with invisible safety pins. "Hey," I said, "I could use ribbons or something to pull this up," I pinched the middle of the swag hanging down, "and make it look really cool."

Lizzie shook her head. "I think it looks good the way it is," she said.

Whatever. Turns out we can order an arched full size canopy top, custom measured to order, on the internet. It will only cost us another 79.00 plus shipping and handling.


Now I'm heading over to the hairdresser's for a color job. Actually, I'm sick of my hair touching my face and fantasize about having him whack it off just under my ears. But that would negate the whole growing-the-hair-out-as-long-as-I-can-ge

t-it thing. Plus, just the color will be over 100.00.

In preparation for that, I have to coax Willow out of the living room (she's crashed out here on my feet) and into her crate. I've already crated her twice this morning--once for the delivery and then again for the shopping trips--and have used the doggie biscuits and the Kong loaded with soft cheese. What's left for her?

Wish me luck.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Diary of a Mod/Mad Housewife

6:45 AM

Woke from vaguely troubled dreams to Bowling for Soup singing "you could be my next ex-girlfriend."

7:00 AM

Walked Willow up the street. She sat on Brad and Diane's lawn and looked longing at their windows. She pooped on their neighbor's strip of lawny weeds, the strip near the street. I scooped it up into my blue plastic bag and dangled it, odiferous, like a testes sack all the way back.

7:30 AM

Finished a lemon poppy seed muffin and reheated coffee blasted with 2% milk. Read a New York Times Sunday Styles article, "The Shelf Life of Bliss," 3/4 of the way through, long enough to discover that the thrill in any relationship, whether legally married or simply cohabiting, drains out of the bottom by the 3rd year or so. And then it's just slogging thorugh the rest of the years as if through oatmeal, apparently.

Yesterday, Lizzie blithely announced that Brian, of the across the street neighbors, has moved to his brothers. "They hope it's temporary," she chirped.

Dave reached across the truck seat and patted me on the shoulder.

8:00 AM

Crated Willow, read a few pages of Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games in the bathroom.

8:15 AM

Went into the basement and worked out. I'm doing interval training, which is supposed to burn more fat. Of course, I'm eating more fat, so it's not working out the way I'd perhaps anticipated. Whatever. (This is my new philosophy. It's like another and similar philosophy that I've been reading in other blogs: meh. As in, "Well, I just spent 6000.00 on a new furnace and airconditioner. Meh.")

While I worked out, I watched two episodes of Alias from season one: the one where Sydney saves her dad from a nefarous guy in Cuba and the one where she learns that her dead mother was a spy for the KGB and was responsible for killing a bunch of "innocent" CIA agents. I saw that latter plot twist coming for miles down the road and congratulated myself for it.

For the last 10 minutes of the second episode, I folded two baskets of clean laundry.

9:30 AM

Cleaned Lizzie's room. We've gotten rid of her bed because we bought her a new one, which is to arrive on Thursday. (Yesterday, when Lizzie announced that Hunter's and Ethan's dad had left his wife slash high school sweetheart just "temporarily," we were en route to deliver the futon couch to a student's house. This futon couch is the last vestige of our graduate school life. I can't say that I'm too sorry to see it go...)

Threw out a few things while Lizzie watched TV on the second floor, where she is sleeping until her new bed arrives: four deflated hot air balloons; a dessicated floral arrangement; various papers.

Pushed her dresser against a different wall. Removed the cork board from the wall where her new headboard will go. Rearranged the pictures and mirrors to accomodate the new location for the cork board. Took the raggedy area rug down to the basement.

Thoroughly vaccumed the hard wood.

10:30 AM

At Lizzie's request, put all the mirrors and wall hangings back in their original places. Determined that the corkboard would have to go to the basement, and that, after the bed arrives, the rug will be vaccumed and returned to its bedroom.


Vaccumed the dining room. Freaked out about the ugly brown spots on the carpet. Scheduled a cleaning for next week.

11:30 AM

De-crated Willow and asked Lizzie to take her outside to play.

11:35 AM

Took Willow from Lizzie, who announced that she intended to go across the street and play.

11:37 AM

Coaxed Willow down from the 2nd floor. Removed the stuffed rabbit from her mouth and threw it into the stairwell. Shut off the 2nd floor.

11:40 AM

Removed my shoe from Willow's mouth. Coaxed Willow into the kitchen with Gary, the stuffed elephant. Told her that Gary needed some chewing. Closed off the basement and its treasure trove of 1000 stuffed animals.

11:45 AM

Made Willow do a puppy push up (sit, down, sit, stand, down, stand) for part of the dog buscuit she'd been sniffing. She can reach the top of the mobile dishwasher now if she jumps up.

11:47 AM

Told Willow that Gary needed more chewing. On her bed.

11:48 AM

Attached Willow to the leash and took her outside. Told her to go crazy on the holes she's been digging. Our back yard is devastated--looks like a Faulknerian landscape, something the Snopes would be comfortable in. All we need is a big boiling pot and a few hefty women in gaudy ribbons to sit around fanning themselves in the folding chairs.

11:50 AM

Started responding to e-mails. Wrote to Mom. Looked out the window to see Willow pooping at the end of her rope, on the dividing line between our yard and the neighbor's.

Looked out the window to see Willow barking at the back neighbor, Ruby.

Looked out the window to see Willow hip deep in one of her holes, barking at ... me?

12:20 PM

Cleaned up the poop. Swept the dirt from Willow's newest hole back into it. She jumped and barked at the broom.

12:47 PM

I'm inside now, typing this. I've taken some testimonial pictures of some of these events and downloaded them from the camera to the laptop.

I look out the window and see Willow in the flower bed, digging behind the big hosta.

I contemplate killing her.

Instead, I go out and pull her out of the bed. Find a stick. Throw it to the other side of the yard for her to catch. She manages to get a smear of spit-dirt on my arm.

Now she's outside the door, yipping and crying. I look out the window in time to see her run back toward her hole. Along the way, her rope wraps around the bbq grill and, as she dashes away from it, pull it down and over with an impressive clang.

I guess that's my cue to end this and go out there. If I don't respond to your emails in a timely fashion, this is why.