26 October, 2009

Being Neighborly

There was a knock on the door last night, just as I was about to bring Jake in from the back yard and serve him up some dinner.

When I opened the door I saw two people who looked vaguely familiar, like I had met them before, even spoken with them, but never been this physically close to them.

It was our neighbors-our new neighbors, who I have only really seen over the short fence on our side yard. It's possible I have only ever seen the husband perched on a ladder.

They were standing there, smiling at me from the front porch, which is only used by Mormons and the UPS man, staring into my downstairs hallway, which doubles as a dirty laundry chute from the stairway that leads to our kitchen, and the rest of the public spaces upstairs. Upstairs: public space. Downstairs: our den. I don't mean a t.v. and plaid couch sort of den, but a lair sort of den. Some friends of ours have probably never even been downstairs. It's where we sleep and do laundry. We nap and have pillow fights, and watch the fish in the tank, but that's about it for the downstairs. Over a thousand square feet of den, private sanctuary. It is also a disaster with boxes and bags of clothing our children have outgrown and shoes that don't work for anyone in the family, unmade beds and pillows askew from those weekend pillow fights.

So I quickly I invited them upstairs, with their sweet plate of cookies (didn't they just move in? wasn't that my job?) and surprised the heck out of Descartes and thrilled Lucy with our guests. I announced that this was actually all much better that they had stopped by unplanned, because if I had ever waited to feel like my house was clean enough for neighbors...especially new neighbors.. then they would never see the inside of the place. We sat in the living room and chatted while Lucy annoyed enchanted everyone with her antics, and Jake played in the back yard.

They are a lovely couple, perfectly friendly and nice, and distantly work-associated with a dear friend of ours, so practically vetted as well. They bought the house from a misfit son and his estranged brother, who unequally inherited the house from their recently deceased mother. The house was sold in haste and not well-maintained for at least 20 years, so consequently these new owners have been doing a lot of work fixing their first home. They are outside all the time; in the back, the front, the driveway. They walk their dog. We are not used to young (our age) neighbors. They might want to be friends. They might come over again.

I'm not sure why that is such a strange idea for me. I grew up in a neighborhood, with neighbors. Everyone had open doors and kitchens with different types of food being served depending on who the mommy was: ruglach, home made tortillas, or Hostess cupcakes, or seaweed and rice rolls, and everyone had KoolAid or Country Time lemonade. My mother walked every day with one or more of her girlfriends, her neighbors. I think I was in every kitchen or living room on our 28+ house lane save for one. Even crazy Margaret with the 14 poodles invited us in once for candy. The POW and his wife invited us into their garage, which was essentially their living room, for Popsicles, and it turns out Daniel's dad was not a Russian spy, they were just a family from Russia, so once that got squared away we went their too. Every mom knew who every kid was, and everyone had each other's phone numbers.

So what's my deal? Maybe I've gotten used to our privacy? Descartes made us live on a hill, so the houses are all bit off set, and as I said earlier, our front door is not often used since it is two full flights of stairs from the sidewalk. Maybe this is the last step in being a grown up, as if the mortgage and the life insurance and the two kids and the Desert Sand Mica Not-So-Mini Van were not enough, maybe having neighbors, our age, next door, being all mature and responsible with their yard work and their car washing and their furnishings that match (although I actually don't know this to be true) maybe it just makes me look a bit at our own life, and it makes me a wee bit uncomfortable.

I so do not have it together. Not. Even. Close. I think I was just starting to be okay with that.. you know, take small steps towards together but not sweat it so much.. and then poof, here they are, those neighbors, with their precious plate of cookies and their kind smiles. Can you believe I'm moaning about nice neighbors? Especially considering we have the not-quite-committing-any-crimes, still-falls-into-the-mischief-category family across the street, using band saws at 2am and helmetlessly riding mini-bikes up and down the sidewalks. What a whiner I am.

The cookies these kind new neighbors brought last night are almost gone, my children saw to that, so I need to go figure out what I am baking to send back to them on their plate. I think that's what a good neighbor would do.

13 October, 2009

Time for a Good Cry

the car hydroplaned no less than 4 times today
with kids in car
hours I spent driving on a flooded highway
and I dodged cars who swerved into my lane from the left
and the right
sheets of rain
rivers across the lanes and at every intersection
60mph gusts of wind

and the f*cking parked car got me

12 October, 2009

Just Glue It

I know I am a bit accident prone. There are a number of reasons...impatience, more things to do than time to do them, over-confidence in ability, taller/bigger than the average person (I'm 5'11 so I don't fit as well, into cars for example), and of course the genes I came with that wire me more for a nimble Scrabble game than world class goal tending. Still, after all these years I am surprised when I see blood dripping off my left hand (it is always my right hand attacking the left...perhaps my right hand knows I'm destined to go to hell and is trying to hack off the offending parts?) I get irritated when I run into things, or worse when I find a giant bruise and can't remember where I got it because I have run into so many things that day. So there I was again, sewing shears in right hand and blood on my left, dripping onto the fabric below. *fanTAStic*.

I took a strip of clean t-shirt that was destined for the rag bag (I had just actually cut it into pieces not 5 minutes before) and tied it around my finger, checked on my son who was playing ever so nicely out on the deck. Then I sat down on the bed and cursed a blue streak. (hmm I've never actually used that phrase before).

I called Descartes and asked if he could work from home so I could avoid taking Jake to the doctor with me... this story starts to bore me here, but let me just say that I made an appointment with a doctor in an office for a time that worked that day with childcare, Lucy pick up and our dinner guests.

I got a call from the advice nurse, who wanted to know the size, shape, number of blood droplets currently falling etc. Then she told me I needed to go to Urgent Care. I assured her that I was all taken care of, having smartly made an appointment with a Medical Doctor. She deflated my triumph with this lovely moment, "We can't do sutures in the doctor's office."

I'm sorry. WTF? I bet I could drop a few stitches in on the side of a trail, with a regular needle and dental floss (but Wow! would that minty wax hurt!) How is it that doctors don't do stitches anymore?

I called back Descartes. He stopped at Ace hardware. I poured rubbing alcohol over it, pinched it together and he glued it together with Krazy Glue. It's not pretty, and it's not completely healed after nearly a week, but it's okay. I'll live (clearly), and I have about $500 more dollars in my pocket for skipping the stitches.

08 October, 2009

Hope There Aren't Any Emergencies

Our emergency contact sheet is laughable it is so out of date. The only accuarate thing on it is Jake's name and date of birth, and our address. It so desperately needs to be updated, and here's how I know:

Since the last time we updated the sheet:

# of people to contact who have moved out of state: 1
# of families we have not seen in person in over a year: 5
# of divorces:1
# of new families we would actually call in an emergency who are not listed: at least 4
# of people who now go by another name because they hated being called "Betty": 1
# of doctors we no longer see:1
# of medicines now taken, not listed: 3 regularly, 2 others on occasion
# of additional diagnosis: 2
# of diagnosis no longer accurate: 2
# of teaspoons more of Motrin Jake can take now:2
# of schools Jake has attended since the phone number on the list was accurate: 3
# of additional cell phones now in use since list was made: 2
# of changed phone numbers: at least 3 (but then again we haven't talked to some of those people in quite a while.)
# of aides we have gone through since that woman was listed: at least 5
# of different office numbers Descartes has had: probably about 12
# of additional children we now have: 1

only the grandparents and my friend Pollyanna will go unchanged... and Jake's list of allergies goes unchanged too.

05 October, 2009

The Gift of Time, from our Friend Facebook

Stephanie taught me to brush my teeth in the shower for the ultimate in multitasking and to avoid getting breakouts from leftover toothpaste dribble on your chin; that was seventh grade. Kristin tried her best to teach me how to tell time in the first. I learned to love the Dallas Cowboys (or at least the silver pencil from that cool set of NFL pencils) from Craig. And there was that amazing family of singers, Liz, Ann and Mary (and their brothers, Andy, Pete and Jim) who taught me so much about music, harmony and devotion. I learned about Jesus and mayonnaise from Tricia, and went to Hebrew school with Liz. Julie paid me a quarter for each cigarette butt I could find after her infamous high school parties, and I learned how to French kiss from David at the roller skating rink.

I figured out you could talk about race without being a racist with Jeff, and that the color of my homecoming date didn't matter to my parents at all when I went with Tom. Jill (or Jiy'l as she called herself then...) taught me how to rat my hair, and I got scared by a movie the first time when I saw Cujo at Claudia's house. Rachel taught me humility and the value of charity, and I learned how to clean up my own high school parties with Kristi. I learned how to hoist sails with Susan, and had my first crush on Jason.

Tracy and I wrote so may poems back and forth to each other I'm surprised we don't both work at Hallmark (Hugh Prather had *nothin'* on us!), and I bought a bottle of Drakkar Noir for Brian in junior high because I a) loved the smell and b) thought he was wonderful.

I loved the way Margot dressed, and swore that I too would wear a scarf someday. I only began working at the Gap because Emily worked there. She quit right before my first day and I stayed for 11 years.

and of course I could go on and on and on, because I rarely meet someone who doesn't teach me something, and most of the time, when I encounter a situation that is similar later in life, I think of that person most every time. Not most times... really, it's every time. So this means that *every time* I hit a note that fills in the chord, whether I am singing with others or the radio, I think of Liz, Ann and Mary (and their brothers, Andy, Pete and Jim), and Tina too, and Jenny and Briana. Every time. That's a lot of people, and it doesn't even count all of the people from college, like Andria, Katie and Susannah and Stacy, and Susan, and Erin, and, and....
then, not only do I recall their names (or their faces if their names are gone, or the relationship was brief..) but then I wonder where they are, how they're doing, do they have families? Are they happy?

so I have decided that Facebook is actually saving me time. At the very least, it is decreasing the amount of mental clutter I sift through daily. It works like this: I reconnected with one of my college boyfriends, even emailed back and forth a bit, looked through each other's photos. Then, I stopped wondering, every single time I saw a yellow light, whether he was okay, and had figured some things out. He has. He's okay, so I *stopped* worrying every time I saw that yellow light (that trigger is a long story about a car accident he was in with his "next girlfriend"...)

and that family Liz, Ann and Mary (and their brothers, Andy, Pete and Jim)? They are all great too. And so is Tina.

and I know Liz is on a plane to Geneva right now, and that Kristin is having trouble with random texts from Gautamala, and Tom is expecting a baby soon. It's all right here on my laptop.

Facebook, holding on to all of that information, all of that history, so I don't need to any more.

Thank you Facebook. Thank you.

01 October, 2009

Happy Birthday!

I got a chance to go to Jake's class today for his birthday celebration. He is just so comfortable and happy at school. I brought "naked" cupcakes and cans of that pre-fab icing with some knives from Ikea so each kid could frost their own cupcake. It was very messy, but fun.

What an amazing 9 years it has been. I have learned so much about myself and my abilities and frailties. Jake has grown and learned so many things we were never sure he would learn, and he is hitting another stage of growth... little things, like how he came upstairs for breakfast this morning and sat in his chair to eat, rather than his usual drive-by Cheerio swipe. He stands still to put on his bus harness, and cooperates when getting on his shoes. He is present so much more often these days.. in the moment, and paying attention, wanting to participate, not throwing himself to he ground every 5 minutes because he is so frustrated. He has more patience with us, and smiles more. He put his arm around me when I laid next to him in his bed, and asked for "moh tic" when I asked him if he wanted "more tickles". He is able to share space with Lucy, allowing her to get close to him, kiss him, hug him and tickle him (and "help" open his birthday presents).

and he's healthy, and safe and alive, and ours, and we are happy.

Today, we are happy.
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