Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Crazy dreams, man. Crazy dreams.


I had a dream last night that Aaron Rodgers (the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers) and I were in a war together.  People were fighting all around us and we were using weapons like machine guns and hand grenades.  At one point, the conflict was taking place in the parking lot of the old Drug Town in Newton where I grew up. We were huddled between rusted out cars that hadn’t been driven in ages, with enemy forces all around us, feverishly planning our escape.  We needed to make our way diagonally across the main street in Newton, past the old gas station, and over to the Hy-Vee grocery store.

There were people all around us and Aaron was irritated because a blonde woman kept trying to snuggle up against him while he was trying to clean his machine gun and talk to me about strategy. She disappeared in a huff, outraged at his rebuff, and we planned our escape to the neutral ground across the street.

I’m not sure if we ever made it to the Hy-Vee, but at one point, Aaron joined sides with the enemy and I was left to fend for myself.  How could my beloved #12 do that to me?  The war continued and I moved up the ranks of the military and eventually ended up in a really cool apartment in Manhattan.  It was huge, circular, lined with windows that showed the sparkling lights of New York City below, and decorated with sleek, modern furniture and appliances.  The apartment was like something you’d see on a Spiderman movie.  It was there that my forces won the last battle of the war (with shockingly little damage to the tricked out apartment) and the victors met over drinks and tiny little cakes and sandwiches to discuss future plans.

During this victory planning session, a bruised and injured Aaron Rodgers came back to see me, explaining that he had defected to the other side to gain intelligence on their plans, and it was clear that he was instrumental in our victory.  He pled his case, and I was instantly on his side, but the other victors would not believe him; instead, he was branded a traitor and a high price was placed on his head.

Naturally, this is when four thugs from down the street came into the apartment wearing ski masks and carrying clubs, threatening to steal things from the beautiful apartment and leave us beaten and battered.  The rest of the victory team fled. Instead of allowing the robbery to happen, we negotiated with the thugs and agreed to let them sublet the fabulous NY apartment from me while Aaron and I went to live in London while his name was cleared.

What?  It could happen…

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring Break

I have this week off work.  Don't be jealous, I'm not really having a fun time.  My to do list is full of the following:
  • Get a new furnace and A/C installed.  (because, you know, spending ridiculous amounts of cash on new appliances is almost as much fun as going to a beach somewhere...)
  • Do the extra kind of cleaning.  (ceiling fans, windows, cobwebs in the corners, that kind of thing)
  • Clean out the hall closet, the coat closet, and the linen closet. (ugh.)
  • Get completely on top of laundry, including things that don't get washed often but should (i.e. the shower curtains and sofa blankets.)
  • Take Sully in to get declawed and neutered.  That little bastard is destructive!  It's a good thing he's cute.
  • Plant some herbs so I can quit paying $4 for a sprig of rosemary.
And so on.  The list is actually longer than that, because I've had like 9 days to do these things.  I'm superwoman, right?

Wrong.  Today is day five of my "vacation" and the guys did come and replace the furnace (my house was actually too hot this morning) and I did get the cobwebs out of the corners of the walls, but that's it.

And, to make things worse, the rest of the house is a pit and so I have to do the regular cleaning and organizing before I can get to the extra stuff on my list.  Sigh... I have not been feeling well this week, which is not helping matters.

Anyone know of a good housecleaning fairy who could come to my house and wave her sparkly magic wand?

The plan of action for today is this:  I downloaded an audiobook (by Maeve Binchy - I love her work for a light, breezy read) and am going to pop it into my ipod and GET TO WORK.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Book Review: Every Last One

I just finished Anna Quindlen's latest novel, Every Last One (2010). I am still breathless from the story, still shaken because it would seem that Quindlen somehow found a way into the locked recesses of my mind and camped out in my brain for a while.

I can't remember what else I have read by Quindlen, but I remember liking her. Seriously, it's like she knows me.  Perhaps she knows every small town working mother who, like me, is busy running a household.  The authenticity of her narrative, of the inner workings of the protagonist Mary Beth Latham's mind, is so vivid, so powerful, that at times, I felt like I was the originator of those thoughts.

Mary Beth's family is vibrant, busy, full of life and love and problems.  Her home is the center of their universe, where her three children and their friends gather on their way to and from their activities.  She has a special relationship with her 17 year old daughter, and has twin sons who are very different from one another.  She has a solid and comfortable, although perhaps not passionate marriage to her husband Glen.

When tragedy strikes this family, it is horrifying.  I tend to stay away from stories like this, because they leave me wondering how I would handle the aftermath of a terrible ordeal like the one that happens to Mary Beth.  But I'm glad I didn't pass this one over, because it was so amazing, and Mary Beth's actions and thoughts both before and after the tragedy seem so much like my own.

The complexities of the relationships she has with her friends and family after the horrible thing happens were compelling too.  I found myself thinking, "Yep, that's how my friend J would react, if I were in Mary Beth's shoes."

This is definitely a kleenex book.  It made me sob at times.  My heart broke for what Mary Beth was going through.  And it broke for me too - the imagined me that I kept going back to.  What would I do if that happened to me?  

I still think Anna Quindlen might have put some kind of thought tracking device into my brain to write this novel.  In so many ways, Mary Beth was me.  Thank goodness I haven't had to go through what she has.

Grade: A
Gripping story line, excellent writing, perfect character development.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fourteen

I'm setting this to auto-post at 6:10 a.m., because now The Boy is officially fourteen years old.

He is many things.  My only son, my most content baby, the child who still hugs me every night and tells me that I'm the best mom in the world.  And yet, he's turning into a man.  Just look at him:
*photo of The Boy with Reggie:
jake

Happy Birthday, Buddy.  Best son in the world.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Life's like an hourglass glued to a table.

*photo of Bumblebee and me with my birthday cake:
cakeIt’s been a chaotic week.  Exhausting in many ways, but that seems to be par for the course lately.  I had a wonderful birthday.  The Husband and the girls made my birthday cake (yay!) and Hollywood frosted it with homemade purple butter cream icing.  YUM.  I even got to sit there while the family sang to me.  Bumblebee wasn’t convinced that just one candle would be sufficient, but I explained that the fire extinguisher needed refilled, so we couldn’t put all 38 candles on there.  (Ba dum bum.  Lame jokes come with old age, yo.)

Saturday morning, we went to see Hollywood perform in her individual speech competition.  She chose ‘musical theater’ as her category, so it’s really not much like the ‘speech’ of my time.   In my day (sheesh – you turn 38 and all of a sudden start spouting phrases like ‘in my day’?? Scary.) speech was mostly extemporaneous, persuasion, etc.  You know, we actually had to write and give speeches.  None of this fancy theater stuff.  We got to see some of Hollywood’s friends in different categories.  Friend Eric did a dramatic acting scene where a prisoner who was in solitary confinement went crazy.  He was so convincing I wonder if I should let Hollywood hang out with him… he might snap on her someday.  Friend Tessa did a poetry reading where she chose a theme and selected three separate poems to read.  She happened to write one of them herself.  It was cool.

So definitely not the speech competition from the stone ages of the early 90s.  Hollywood’s musical theater choice was the song Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid.  Speech competitions tend to run early sometimes, so we arrived ahead of time and got to see four performances before Hollywood’s.  Most of them were decent; one was painfully awful.  Listening to that poor tone deaf girl sing In My Own Little Corner about made my ears itch. When it was Hollywood’s turn, I looked at her and could tell she was nervous.  Her chest was flushed (mine does that too when I’m nervous or emotional about something) and she bit her lower lip and smiled as she got up.  I squeezed her shoulder and told her she’d be great.

I honestly can’t think of anything more scary than to get up in front of a room full of people and sing and dance to a song all by myself.  Remember those nasty game/reality shows where people could win money by letting spiders crawl all over them?  Yeah. I’d rather do that. No lie.  And here is my child, who looks quite a bit like me, talks like me, has a fiery temper like me, but is so completely her own person.  My heart was in my throat as she strode up there to her spot. The accompanying music began, and she…

Knocked it out of the park.  It was great.

Tomorrow is The Boy’s birthday.  He’ll be fourteen.  In the past year he has grown about 5 inches (he’s dead even with me now) and is losing his baby face.  Sigh.  This shouldn’t make me sad, he’s a great kid.  But it does because he’s turning into a man.  The Boy has a girlfriend now, and while we don’t let them do much of anything other than go to a movie once a month or so with a group of people, it’s pretty serious for him.  He and she talk on the phone sometimes, but they spend a lot of time chatting on facebook.  I suspect that when he finally gets a cell phone (psst. It’ll arrive tomorrow) he’ll be texting her non stop. 

The Boy has such a tender heart.  He told me how his new girlfriend has times when she’s sad or depressed.  Her sister has serious health issues that cause her to be hospitalized often, and she herself has medical issues, along with pretty bad vision.  The Boy said sometimes she likes to be alone at lunch and he lets her have her space and then talks to her after school.  These are adolescent problems, not little boy issues.  It’s just crazy to me that he is getting so big, and it’s fun to watch him that way.  He’s going to the middle school winter dance Friday night.  I hope I can sneak into the dance and get a picture of him with his new friend. 

There’s a lyric to an Anna Nalic song that goes:

Life’s like an hourglass glued to a table.  No one can find the rewind button…

Isn’t that the truth? Lord help me.