“Prestige is especially dangerous to the ambitious. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, the way to do it is to bait the hook with prestige. That’s the recipe for getting people to give talks, write forewords, serve on committees, be department heads, and so on. It might be a good rule simply to avoid any prestigious task. If it didn’t suck, they wouldn’t have had to make it prestigious.”
–Paul Graham, How To Do What You Love
That’s us, tippin’ on the tightrope, always.
It is crazy here. As Bird recently declared, “This house is nothing but babies and crazy people.”
Work is nuts, A’s work is nuts, kids are nuts, social calendar is nuts, weather/ heat is nuts, dogs are nuts, family is nuts:
IT’S A DAD-GUMMED PARTY MIX, Y’ALL.
And on Friday, we all (except Gopher) woke up with some kind of awful stomach ick which passed– violently– in about 24 hours and our tiny one-man bathroom saw A LOT of action.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been on two bizarre work-related road trips, one in which I saw a sign by the side of the road that said “Twenty Kinds of Cheese” and I actually got to stop, and another in which I drug my friend T. along and visited the most delicious-smelling Mennonite grocery in all of West Tennessee, plus saw buzzards, plus saw a goat standing on top of another goat (!), plus drove a Grand Marquis all over the countryside, plus visited a very creepy home/ museum or two, plus plus plus. This project, it wears me out in a good way, and it beats the hell out of writing healthcare marketing copy day in and day out behind a desk, so I’ll take it.
Also watched the LOST finale, and I have one thing to say: pbbbbbbffffttt. Way to waste a few years of my life, LOST. It was as if the writers showed up for the final exam but hadn’t really been doing the reading all semester, which is something I wake up in a cold sweat over, still, 12 years post-college. So in essence, the finale of LOST was my recurring nightmare.
Plus, it was lame.
There is more, but I am tired, and A. is at Bonnaroo doing some supercool work opportunity fun creative project stuff, and I’m supposed to be doing actual work-work (sewing machine marketing, anyone?) that I promised to do for Monday since I had to leave the office early on Friday on account of a guts-puke-out. Because I’m dedicated like that.
I’ll leave you with our latest favorite dance party:
Me: What do you think those guys are?
Bird: Mirrors with coats on. (duh).
Me: Know what would go great with this salad?
A: A bottle of booze and a day off?
What my husband said in a pretend conversation with the guy who almost ran him over during his run downtown this afternoon:
“You want a slice-a this beefcake? You’re gonna need a fork, buddy.”
I thought it was precious.
Birdy doing several “silly walks” all around the wide ledges of the Parthenon, including a totally kick-ass robot walk that would make the Beastie Boys stand up and cheer. Intergalactic, planetary! (that is not Bird in the photo. That is not even my photo. But that is the Parthenon.)
Lunch time, Bird and I standing at the edge of the duck pond at the park, sans bread, when a sweet little girl came over to us and offered Birdy the top of a hamburger bun from her duck-bread stash. We said thank you, the girl moved on, and Birdy sat there for a second, staring at the bun.
She looked up at me and whispered, “Mom, can I eat this?”
20 minutes spent staring at, wondering about, and discussing in great detail a dead squirrel on the side of the walking path.
And most wonderful:
My Bird can read!
Fat Cat Rat Hat Splat! Can Ran Stand Pants! Hop Pop Stop!
After a grumpy little incident involving my Bird, my mom, and a pair of brand new jeans, Bird and I had this exchange at bedtime.
Mama: You know, when someone gives you a gift you don’t really like, most of the time you just say “thank you” and move on.
Mama: So you don’t hurt the person’s feelings. Think about how you would feel if you gave someone a present and they said they didn’t like it.
Bird: Oh. It would hurt my feelings. Ok.
Mama: So… what if I gave you… a hat you didn’t really like?
Bird: I would say “thank you.”
Mama: What if I gave you… a really ugly shirt?
Bird: I would say “thank you.”
(( long pause ))
Bird: What if I gave you a fart?
Mama: Well, I guess I’d have to say “thank you.”
(( long pause, giggles))
Bird: I just farted, mom.
The other day, I heard Birdy in the parlor playing with some shoddily-made Christmas crap and doing some loud, frustrated growling that sounded like it would soon become frustrated throwing.
“Bird,” I said, “Maybe when you’re frustrated, you could find something else to say, like ‘RATS!’ “
“Yeah,” said A, how about ‘aw, nuts!’ ?”
She thought for a minute and said, “Or I could say… SHUT!”
If you had been at our house this morning, you would have seen me standing over the washing machine with my arm in almost up to the shoulder, frantically fishing through cold, dark water for my drowned cell phone. Already late for work, you would have heard me say a lot of things to myself. And you would have heard me end with “FUCKING STUPID.”
And then, you would have heard a firm little voice in the kitchen say, “Mom. We don’t say ‘stupid’.”
Ah, my Bird. She is a piddling, dawdling, piddledawdler in the mornings. A. puts up with most of it since I (theoretically, anyway) start my paid workday earlier than he does, and it is more frequently becoming a power struggle/ battle of wits/ tangle of wills between the two of them. They argue like teenagers. He asks her to put on her shoes, she puts on five finger puppets. He askes her to go get dressed, she spends her time jumping on the bed. He asks her to brush her hair, she ends up in a puddle of tears because she’s found her winter coat in the too-small box. He asks her to put on her listening ears, and she says, “I left them at school.” He counts to three. She complies at the final second. And more than a few times, Bird says, “Daddy. Settle down.” Which, if you know my mild-mannered A., is especially funny. Except not to him.
So, about that too-small box. Looks like it’s going to be seeing a lot of action starting this winter– baby #2 is officially a girl. Time to start naming, sorting, wrapping our heads around what’s going on around here. Two girls. Yay and yikes.
No time like the pregnant to over-think some shit: In halfway following a discussion board comment thread, I read the words that push the overthink-buttons of WOH mamas around the country: “evaluate what you give up to go to work and decide if it’s really worth it.” I’ll spare you the details of my rabbit-hole thinking– my ever-changing and always hazy list of gains and losses that never declares a winner.
All this talk of giving up and gaining. Of worth. How much of it is truly about the benefit to the child and how much of it is about having sorted laundry and clean sheets and time to slow-cook a meal? How much is about parenting and how much is about physically being in and keeping up a home? How much is just straight-up personal, on both sides of the decision?
I have wrestled with internal and external voices that both encourage and challenge my choices as a working-away-from-home mama, and I can tell you with complete honesty that sometimes, the desire to be home with my child during the day really does boil down to having naptime to myself and getting some flowers planted. Running an errand in the middle of the day without paying for it with my lunch hour. Spending enough time in my house to clean it and enough time in my neighborhood to enjoy it. And having time for actual, personal, non-facebook connections with my actual, personal friends. That is what I am missing– or feel like I’ve given up– the most right now. I have time with Bird every night, but I haven’t seen some of my dearest friends in months.
“Hey Bird, try one of these tiny orange tomatoes. They’re sweet, like candy.”
“This one has a butt.”
“Mama, ask me what I’m eating.”
“What are you eating?”
Estate sale and yard sale today. Bought about a third of a collection of the Sweet Pickles books for Bird, some “fancy dance” recital-type outfits, a sweater (for me), a small ceramic coyote* a whole mess of other crap, and a round table and 4 chairs. Which are in desperate need of a paint job and a little sanding but which will fit so much more comfortably in my kitchen than the big rectangle obstacle we currently use. I chose the kitchen set over a super awesome rocking chair, which was the same price and which I will probably always think about, dwelling on how freaking awesome it would look in the living room. And if not freaking awesome, at least freaking okay. Freaking better. All it needed was a simple cushion recover. Damn.
And really, the table will be very, very nice for us. I promise pictures.
* Bird says “cahita”
I have decided to think of the last week as a small vacation, where I was not productive anywhere in my work or home life, where I ate a lot of bullshit and used the “old shoes” excuse to keep my feet off the pavement. Well, welcome home! And still not getting new shoes! Bought ceramic wildlife and sequined leotards instead! Put down the baguette and run anyway!
Big dog ate 1/2 a can of chickpeas last night, right off the table when nobody was looking. And let me just say that whatever a bean overload can do for you, it can also do for your dog. Loudly.
So, the hummus. Here’s the recipe I used. Like the author, I found it to be over-olivey compared to the Bobbi’s (because you know I went out and got a tub to do a side-by-side taste test). Next time I’ll use a little less water and probably Safflower oil in place of the olive oil. (this time I used 2T olive oil and 4T canola). And I used pre-minced garlic instead of crushing a clove because I didn’t have any intact garlic handy. So that probably would have made a difference. But all in all, damn close. And if I hadn’t gone all perfectionist on this project, I could have fooled myself into believing it’s exactly the same. Considering that making it at home costs about $1.50, it’s close enough.
Something I actually said today walking home from daycare:
“We are not going to go back and put that poop in your bag. And I am done talking about it.”
Something that actually happened today:
Home appraisal for the Great Refinance of 2009. Felt super weird sitting on my couch pretending to read my new Vegetarian Times while the (very kind and fatherly) appraiser took a picture of the World’s Tiniest Bathroom, clunked down the basement steps, peered into the guestroom/ graveyard of bullshit. And after he left I realized the toilet lid was up, prominently displaying a nice big wad of TP (thanks, Bird) floating around in there, with maybe some… is that pee? Cheers! Thanks for checking out the house! Maybe the memory of the toilet paper floater will erase the memory of the plaster cracks and weird wet spot in the basement!
Something I’m wondering about:
How many pounds of chickpeas can one family eat in a year? Because seriously, we are chickpea-heavy for at least 3 meals a week, and one of which is always Mediterranean Night.* Do other veg families lean this hard on the bean?
Something I’m loving:
Veganomicon. OMG. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Even if you are a raging carnivore, this book has the potential to rock your world or at least your side dish reportoire. A. has developed an addiction to the chickpea cutlets, which we now make in double batches and freeze half for quick & easy deliciousness, though they never seem to stick around long. Tonight’s dinner: chickpea cutlet sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, avocado slices, Vegenaise, dijon mustard, red onion on homemade (thank you trusty little breadmaker) french baguette, served with roasted potatoes, onion, and asparagus. And yes, Bird will even eat a chickpea cutlet. This book is magical, I tell you.
Something that did not work:
We were on such a streak with Veganomicon that we branched out to try the Tempeh with broccoli and whole wheat rotini last night, which was under 45 minutes in prep and cook time as promised, but it was an intense 45 mintues. And the verdict? A. started out with, “yeah, I don’t know if we should make this again, it seemed pretty complicated.” and on to, “Maybe it would be better with a little more vinegar” to “I don’t think I’ll eat the leftovers, probably” to scraping the pot out into the garbage and saying, “That was disgusting.” Should have known by the tablespoon of fennel seeds. I hate fennel. And yet still remain a little shocked that I hated this dish. That’s how magic the V-con is. It romances you into thinking you might even like fennel in your tempeh, and you don’t hold a grudge when it’s gross.
*Mediterranean night = one tub of Bobbbi’s Your Favorite Hummus + homemade pita +red peppers, carrots, olives, red onion. One plate, almost no dirty dishes. WIN!
** OMGOMG tried to find a website for the very yummy and insanely garlicky Bobbi’s Hummus and came up emptyhanded. I buy it at Turnip Truck so go find it there. BUT! In my search, I ran across a random discussion board post that claims to be the Bobbi’s Recipe. I. do. not. jest. After tomorrow (when we are scheduled to have Mediterranean Night, so lookout vampires) I might be the most-seven-dollars-savin’-est mama in the ‘hood.