Monday, September 29, 2008

Perspective

So, while I was over here whining about seeing spots and my broken MICROWAVE and all these other small things that have me totally overwhelmed, my friend J.B. Brown finally succumbed to the brain cancer that has broken the hearts of his family for two years now.

I wrote about him in September of 2006. And I wrote about him because I donated to locks of love on his behalf.

He was such a good man--just the best kind of giant-hearted guy. A great father and friend. His wife is simply amazing and is, quite frankly, one of the strongest people I have ever known. I have learned so much about grace and courage from her as she has held everyone and everything together on this long journey.

J.B. leaves behind a fifth-grader and twin seventh-graders, in addition to his good wife. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they make their way through this difficult, heart-wrenching time.

God bless and keep you, J.B. I know for certain that you're without pain now, and I'd lay odds that you're making the other angels laugh.

Blame the Microwave

So, I'm back from the Retina Specialist where I (possibly the youngest person seeing the doctor that day) underwent a series of tests which involved fun things like having dye injected and then having time-lapse photography taken of the weird spot on my eye. (The dye was injected into my arm, lest you think I'm walking around looking like Marty Feldman or something.) All of this led the specialist to conclude that I have this thing called Central Serous Retinopathy (CSR), for which there is no cure and also? They're not really sure what causes it.

Of course not.

The doctor said that the spot should go away on its own within the next six months (!) and it will just be annoying as hell until then. (Okay, I made that last part up.) He also said that there have been pretty strong associations made between CSR and STRESS and STEROIDS. Which, um, HELLOOOO! I've just recently had all of those steroid shots for my foot and, well, I've been under some stress. I think moving across the country, having a dying dog, being in chronic pain, having a house for sale in the worst housing crisis this country has known, losing my beloved cat and finding him again, meeting Lin and then having her move, and knitting a sweater are pretty stressful things, at least when taken in a short amount of time.

Not to mention that on Saturday, just out of the blue, the really fancy-pants microwave that came with our house suddenly stopped working.

And dudes, that was just the FINAL STRAW.

I mean, COME ON.

So, while I sat there, knitting in the lobby of the Retina Specialist with all the other Octogenarians, wearing two pairs of glasses and waiting for my ride, I started to cry. I mean, COME ON. Enough already.

Just then, two women approached, "Oh, did you knit your bag?" I peered up at them from under the two pairs of glasses and through my tears. "I bet you knit that beautiful bag, didn't you!"

"Yes," I gushed in utter, utter joy. "AND MY SOCKS!"

They could not have been more impressed. We talked felting for a bit and they oohed and ahhed and asked questions that only knitters would ask and I stopped crying.

At least for a while.

(Really though, COME ON!)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Love (My Spastic, Stupid Life) Thursday

Y'all are just not going to believe the day I had today.

No, really. I think you'll say, "There is no way that happened." And then you will say, "But who could make that story up?" And then you will say, "Barb needs a new category for this post. I'd like to suggest she use 'My Life Is SO STUPID.'"

The thing is...the day dawned with many good things possible because I actually showered. In fact, I was showered, dressed in a new outfit and had MAKE-UP on.

See, I had a date. I was going to meet my friend Beth for coffee. Well, really, she's sort of Lin's friend but now that Lin is in Colorado, I'm trying to date her. In, you know, a friendship kind of way. Making new friends is a LOT like dating. You wear your best clothes and make-up and you hope that people won't quite yet discover that mostly you walk around in clothes with paint on them, wondering if you brushed your teeth that morning.

Anyway, I talked to Beth and she said she had another friend who wanted to meet me and could we go to lunch instead of meeting for coffee? This ended up being fortuitous because Sydney had another one of those heart episodes and I had a lot of really gross stuff to clean up. Which is what I like to do when I am dressed in a new outfit and wearing make-up. Plus, the crying, of course. Which isn't that fun, given that I had mascara on.

But the other reason this was fortuitous is because I have had this, well, spot in front of my right eye for a few days now. It's like a little gray spot directly in my path of vision. Last night, I did that incredibly dumb Google the Symptoms thing and found out that I either had Zazam Sheriff Phillips syndrome (this is a real eye disorder, y'all, associated with mental retardation and well, you know how the jury is still out on that with me) or maybe, RETINAL DETACHMENT.

People.

I am all about detachment. But not so much for the RETINAS. Retinas should really stay firmly ATTACHED, I think.

So the next day, when I had a little extra time before my date, I went to the eye doctor and told them to please look at my eye and just rule out that Zazam Sheriff Phillips syndrome and while they were at it, could they please reassure me that my retinas were still firmly attached.

To do this, the doctor had to dilate my eyes.

"Well, that's okay," I thought. "I only have to drive a few miles to get to my lunch, so I'm sure that would work out just fine."

The doctor put the drops in. I knitted on my current sock in progress while they were taking effect.

Then the doctor came back in and looked at my eye through a big eye machine that she had swabbed with alcohol so as not to catch my forehead germs and she said, "Oh, wow. Look at that. Yeah, that's not good."

Turns out there is some sort of fluid around my retina that really should not be there. (Gosh darn it, even my EYES are retaining water!)

So, she wanted to send me to see a specialist and she meant right that very second because, hello, my eyes were dilated.

So, I am going to drive to a neighboring town that I have never been to, with my eyes dilated and unable to read street signs in this foreign land called Long Island which has, seriously, some of the worst drivers I have ever seen. Also, my GPS unit was sitting on the counter at home.

I stared at her.

"You don't have a driver, right?" she asked, hopefully.

"Ah. No." (As if.)

"Well, um, be careful out there."

Oh, yeah, well, okay then.

It's 11:25 and at this point, I am still harboring some faint little hope that I might make my lunch.

Nah, it's not going to happen is it?

So, because I didn't have any of Beth's phone numbers with me, I called Lin. In Colorado. Because I've always heard that if you need to cancel a lunch date that's about a half a mile from where you are, you should call your friend in Colorado.

Lame.

I couldn't reach Lin but time was of the essence because my eyes were dilated and that would soon be wearing off and we wouldn't want that to happen just when I'm about to drive my gazillion pound vehicle in a lot of traffic, now would we?

The drive up to Smithtown was actually fairly uneventful, except for the fact that I had to wear my sunglasses OVER my regular glasses and periodically at red lights, I had to take both of those off to read the directions and then peer all about until I realized that I didn't have my glasses on and maybe THAT'S why I couldn't see.

I got to the doctor's office where other hilarious things ensued because those people have no senses of humor and I was maniacally cracking jokes in that little way I have when I get nervous. Also, there was no cell-phone reception which meant that to keep making harassing phone calls to Lin, I had to stand in the hall on one leg with one arm stretched up to the ceiling. Plus, there were a lot more machines that had to be swabbed down with alcohol. (My forehead will never break out again!) And another doctor said, "Well, wow, will you look at that!" and I think I injured myself by trying to roll my eyes. Because, dude, "Look?"

And after all that, it turns out that I have to go see another specialist on Monday, so that should be fun. (Coop's going to drive me because he was not all that amused by this story.)

I left with enough time to drive as quickly as I dared in time to get Ana (10) from school. On the way, Lin called. (My last message to her just said, "Duuuude, where ARRRRRE you?") and it turns out she'd been on a field trip with her kids.

Damn her. How dare she be unavailable to coordinate my social life from another complete state??

Anyway, I was giving her the whole story when all of a sudden, there was a police officer behind me. It is illegal to drive in New York while talking on a cell phone so I hung up quickly, put my hands at ten and two and drove on as close to the speed limit as people would allow without honking.

And then it hit me.

Dudes, imagine if he had pulled me over! My eyes were dilated big enough to look like flying saucers and I was wearing a pair of sunglasses over my regular glasses and I had mascara in my EARS. I started to giggle and then to really, really laugh. Can you imagine?? I would have SO been going straight to jail. "Yes OF COURSE I am totally sober. Why do you ask?"

So, at that point, I am driving down the road, wearing two pairs of glasses over my dilated eyes and I am laughing really hard OUT LOUD.

In my car.

Because, People, I am all cool and non-spastic like that.

Also? While I was gone, Syd pooped all over the house again and while I was on the phone with Beth explaining everything and hoping she might give me another chance at a date being as how I stood her up and she had brought FOUR people to meet me, I lost track of time and was late to pick Jane (7) up from school.

Dudes, what could I do to salvage this day?

I went to Knit Night. It was either that or drink a gallon of wine and run into the furniture.

Only, guess what? You know my sweater that I've had to re-knit four times because I kept coming out with the wrong number of stitches?

THE PATTERN HAS AN ERROR IN IT.

My knitting friends burst into applause because about two minutes earlier, I was talking about how arrogant I am and how I just ASSUMED there was an error in the pattern and everyone laughed knowingly. Because we've all been in Knitterly Denial before and it's not pretty.

Y'all say it with me now, "My life is SO STUPID."

Also, "Who the hell is Sheriff Phillips?"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Who Are You People (and What Have You Done With My Kids?)

Sunday was just one of those... perfect, magical days. The kind of days when it occurs to you, for a small moment (and then you knock wood and make the sign to ward off evil), that maybe, just maybe... you might just be doing something right with these kids of yours.

It never lasts long, that feeling, but sometimes it's enough to put some wind in your sails.

The day started when my husband had to leave for a work-related function. Jane (7) got up in time to see him leave and then, I swear I had no intention of offering this, I actually volunteered to make her chocolate chip pancakes.

I know what you're thinking: what's so bad about chocolate chip pancakes?

But see, Jane doesn't eat the pancake part. So the pancake is really just a vehicle for her to have chocolate for breakfast.

Which, okay, I'm not ENTIRELY opposed to, as a rule for, um, ME, but with Jane, the sugar rush almost always results in a bad, horrible, no good, very bad mood during the sugar CRASH.

There is usually screaming.

Which messes with my Sunday Zen, you know?

Sunday, however, there was no screaming. AND she helped make the pancakes and cleared her plate afterward. Then Ana (10) got up and I offered to make some for her and she said, "May I just have plain pancakes, please? Chocolate for breakfast makes my tummy hurt."

I began to have the suspicion that my children had been replaced by aliens.

So, THEN, I asked everyone to get dressed because we needed to go to the grocery store. And, by golly, they actually DID.

Our trip to the grocery store was one of the most pleasant I've had in ages... and you know how that NEVER happens to us.

Ana found a book that she'd been waiting to be released and it was 25% off! (Also never happens to me.) Jane found a Polly Pocket set that she really wanted to spend her very own money on--and she was so cute counting out the $5.42 for it that I thought the cashier was going to CRY.

We came home and the girls helped unpack the groceries! And then Ana disappeared with her new book
and Jane opened up her Iron Bead business
and I had a long stretch of time which I used to clean my house. I love to start the week off with a nice clean house. Needless to say, this almost never happens.

At lunch, Ana generously picked one of her beautiful tomatoes and gave it to me for my sandwich. (Our garden is almost spent.)

It was a spectacular day, too, so we did some lounging about outside and then, since my husband was running late, I cooked the steak dinner all by myself and didn't even set anything on fire. The girls ate well, Ana reached page 500 of Bresingr, we had baths, picked out clothes for the next day and everyone went to bed with no protest.

I don't know. It was a perfect day and so naturally, I got sadder and sadder as the day went on. Because that's what I do, I guess, whenever it become apparent that my children are growing up and the seasons are changing and life is forging ahead, whether I am ready or not.

Friday, September 19, 2008

She Got Up Off the Couch

(Have y'all read that book? I liked it a lot. Haven Kimmel is the author.)

So, hey there, Land of the Living! I'm back. More or less on my feet and ready to bemoan the fact that I spent a week so sick that I didn't even enjoy the time off from housecleaning and grocery shopping, etc. Dudes, I was so sick that I couldn't even KNIT. Now THAT'S a bad cold.

However, the great thing about being me is that I can feel like complete and utter DEATH one day and the next? I can feel like utter death AND get to take my ten-year-old daughter shopping for shoes.

I so LOVE that about being me.

We had something of a disagreement about what constituted appropriate footwear for the average ten-year-old. As in, she wanted THESE


and I was thinking more along the lines of these:


We left with no footwear for her, although *I* bought two new pairs of shoes: a pair of Asics running shoes (I can't run now but my podiatrist still recommends them as a daily reminder of the thin, fit me I left behind) (Yes, I am wearing them with my nightgown. Shut UP.)

and a pair of brown Clark's clogs. (They only resemble about 70% of the shoes I already have in my closet. Is that a problem?)

Only, um, guess what I discovered about myself on this little shopping expedition? I discovered that I had no idea what the current fashion is and I was about as qualified to take my tween shopping as a NUN would be after having been cloistered for the past ten years.

In all seriousness, sometimes I feel that I am just the exact wrong mother for my girls. And I'm old now so I don't really CARE what fashion trends are hot and new --I mean, once you've worn both leg-warmers AND parachute pants, what more can fashion do for you? I sort of do that Gilda Radner thing where I base most of my fashion choices on what doesn't itch. Plus, I live too much in my head so sometimes I don't even know what I am wearing and if I DO notice it, it's usually because I've spilled something on myself or I've accidentally caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror and was taken completely off guard. In my head, I'm still about thirty, you know, with a flat, flat stomach, legs that go forever, and no laugh lines. (Confession: remember when my family and I went to the Open and I was all ogling Rafael Nadal? Later that week, it suddenly occurred to me that I could be his MOTHER. He's twenty-freaking-two years old! He was born when I was in my last year of COLLEGE! Ewww! Ick! What's next? Ana's ten-year-old crush will start looking hot to me? ACK!)

Anyway, I couldn't argue with Ana about her fashion choices because I had no idea what the actual fashion IS. This rather weakens one's motherly omniscience, ya know? I had to come home from our shopping expedition and do an Internet search of "Tween Fashion Trends" which returned 140,000 results in 0.44 seconds, thank you very much, because EVERYONE, including the nerds who work for Google, knows more about fashion than I do.

Avast There, Matey!

I am feeling better. In fact, I am feeling so much better that I am fully participating in Talk like a Pirate Day.

At the very least, I plan on swillin' some rum.


(Silly YouTube video embedded here about Talk Like A Pirate Day telephone etiquette.)

Yo ho ho! (Hack, sniffle.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sick on a Stick

In case you have missed the news, I am ill. It's just a cold, probably, although the symptoms do mimic some sort of... Black Plague. (Which I totally spelled PLAQUE the first time I typed it. Always a little shaky when it comes to confusing historic epidemics and dentistry --that would be me. I realized the error of my ways, though, and while "black plaque" is certainly more rhythmic and conjures up people from the TIME of the Black Plague, who had limited access to toothbrushes and concern over oral hygiene in general (what with the life expectancy at about 33 years and growing shorter by the epidemic), it doesn't quite conjure up the image I was TRYING to conjure up. Which, namely, is that of me needing some sort of iron lung.)

Because I feel like Death on a Stick.

I am SO ill, in fact, that I can't sit at my desk in the Pygmy Maid's Room and have moved to the couch where I have a little blanket and also, HGTV on demand. This is good because my daughter Jane (7) has asked me to keep Big Bear company today, and perhaps read to him from "Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed."

Note Big Bear's natty scarf, which I knit for him myself.

It was good to finish something, because yesterday I had to rip out all of the neck of the sweater I'm knitting, once again. That's four times, for those of you keeping score at home. So many times that I decided that original skein of yarn was looking a little, um, TIRED and I have started over with a fresh skein. The other skein is in a Time Out awaiting some sort of Bad Knitting Cosmic Cleansing. Maybe I'll set it on fire and do a smudging. (Cranky, much?)

But as I was saying, I have moved my Pit of Misery into the family room. This required some delicate manipulation because I am the proud owner of a laptop with power issues. Said laptop with cord propped ever-so-carefully on memory card reader.

The battery no longer holds a charge and the power supply is fraying in two separate places. (Dudes, how Freudian is THAT? OF COURSE my laptop has POWER ISSUES!) The slightest movement and the screen goes black and I lose my work. I have to chance it though, because, I am SICK and cannot be jumping up every two seconds to check my e-mail just in case someone takes pity on me and sends me one.

(I may be sick but I am not stupid.)

So, I am on the couch, where, through the magic of trial-and-error and cursing, I now have easy access to my both my computer AND a barrel of tea. (Note the addition of milk to said tea so that I can avoid (wait for it) having black plaque.

Hahahaha!

(Oh, hush, it's the fever talking.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Because I am Post Nasally Dripping...

Oh my gosh, I don't want to be too dramatic or anything here but I think I might have blown my nose hard enough to have caused permanent damage. Like maybe some of my BRAIN came out. (Lordy, lordy, not the BRAIN. Take the HIPS--really, take them all! But leave the BRAIN, for the love of Pete. Because, honestly, it's not like I'm making any MORE brain cells.)

Because my entire body is stuffed up, I have been sitting here for oh, one hundred and seventy-eight hours, reading blogs and breathing through my mouth and feeling like Dung On Toast. (I don't even know what that means or why anyone would even consider putting dung on toast but, well, it sounds really, really baaaaad and that is exactly how I feel.) I wanted to bring you something totally hilarious to distract you, you nice readers you, from the fact that I've been reduced to setting a timer for my next hit of cold medicine and the fact that I SOUND so bad that my older daughter, Ana, (10), asked me a question last night and when I answered her, she was AGHAST. "Oh, MOMMY, are you crying? PLEASE don't cry!"

I wasn't crying (thank you, my sweetie), but I appreciate how very, very bad I must sound. I may possibly feel even worse. (Of course, Ana, you do realize you were taking your life in your hands by sneaking up on me this morning and trying to scare me? You're lucky a stream of germs didn't come flying out of my nose.)

Hypochondria, anyone? With a side of whining? Maybe a little drama?

(Oh, hush up.)

While I was on my Stuffy Internet Odyssey, I discovered that my friend Heidi's FreckleStyle website had launched. A few years ago, I wrote a piece for it and then I promptly LOST that piece so I was all amazed to read it myself. Click here to read about my freckle. (Oh, go on, you know you want to.) (That picture was taken in 1997. The only thing that looks remotely the same on me is the freckle.) (Especially right now, given that I have this disfiguring cold. Can I blame the extra thirty pounds on my cold? Why, yes. Yes, I can.)

Tonight, I'm supposed to go to Jane's school and Meet the Teacher. I'm DYING to go meet the teacher because I think I love her madly but what if I give her this cold and then she gives it to all of those bright little kids and the whole classroom is just a sea of misery and it's all my fault? Oh, the humanidy! (Here's a Foul Language Warning if you click on that link.) (Dudes, do you think I caught this cold by visiting Miss Doxie? I knew I should have washed my hands after that story.) Anyway, I don't think I should be introducing MORE germs into the school.

But listen, I feel guilty if you came all the way over here for some humor and are leaving empty-handed. Here's a new website (new to me) that makes me laugh out loud every time. Cake Wrecks. (Now, I know I have posted some pictures of cakes I made that looked a LOT like the cakes on this site but the difference is that these were made by professional cake makers. People make their LIVINGS by making these cakes --it's hilarious.)

Now go wash your hands, quick. With soap.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Ab Stubbed UB

I ab sooo stubbed ub. I tink I hab a code.

Okay, so that kind of "impaired" dialogue writing makes me laugh, laugh, laugh. (I don't know what that says about me, really. That I would laugh at someone with a serious speech impediment?) (If you want to read a funny blog written almost entirely in "cold-ese," go read Miss Doxie. Fair warning, though: she could make a sailor blush.) (As an aside to an aside pointing you toward reading someone ELSE'S blog, I just have to comment on how several people in the comments of Ms. Doxie's story of Cookie and the Geetz wrote in to say, "Wow, how long did it take you to write that dialogue?" Those kind of comments always flabbergast me because A) hello, that's what writers DO and B)who reads a blog post thinking, "Wow, I bet this took a long time to write" instead of just enjoying the art of it all? (Would those people read War and Peace and think, "Dude, I bet this took a long damn time to write"?) and C) I forget what "C" was because I am on cold medicine.) (But that's okay, because this is like, the fourth digression in a row so what's one more of me commenting on the comments of someone else's blog?) (A LIFE: I should so GET ONE.)

Anyway, it's either a cold or allergies but I feel terrible.

I'm THRILLED about it! (Well, you know, in a red-eyed, Kleenex-loving kind of way.) Because I really need a sick day. I had to rip out my sweater that I started at Knit Night two weeks ago, because I had done some increases wrong. (Actually, what I'd done wrong had to do with the stitch markers but far be it for me to dwell on something so idiotic for, oh, more than a year or so.) (However, for those of you keeping score at home, I had to make a trip to the yarn store to find out exactly HOW TO USE STITCH MARKERS. I would have done a pictorial for the blog on how I had done them WRONG and how one goes about doing them RIGHT but my brain was all stuffed up and I forgot to take pictures before I ripped out all of that beautiful, beautiful knitting.) A nice long stretch of time to knit would be very welcome right about now.

And plus, I don't feel like eating. Isn't that GREAT? A free day AND a jump start to the old diet! Dudes--I got GAME.

The only downside is that after getting the kids up and dressed, their lunches packed and their shoes on their feet and out to door to school, all I really want to do is lie on the couch and moan a little and listen to the ocean sloshing around in my head.

I tink I hab a FEEBER.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Happy Anniversary to ME

So, today is an auspicious occasion: it was exactly six months ago that my husband and I loaded up our pets and got on an airplane and moved to Long Island.

It's a good thing nothing much has happened since then.

(BWAHAHAHAHA---I slay myself. Snort.)

Okay, then, in addition to our six month anniversary (and yes, Sydney is still going strong--how about that?) our house in Austin went under contract yesterday. We took it on the chin but you know, now that we've gotten our house off the market, I'm sure the worst housing crisis in our nation's history will miraculously be resolved. Glad to oblige.

I was all mopey yesterday while Coop handled all of the business part of things. (I seriously cannot be trusted. It's not supposed to be personal, right? Tell that to my heart. I want to fly back to Austin and barricade the door.) We close at the end of October, at which point we might be able to actually feel like we live HERE. We're not just staying here on a some sort of field study about the driving habits of New Yorkers. We ARE New Yorkers now. (Hope y'all have battaned down the hatches.)

In the midst of my general melancholy this week, a package arrived addressed to Coop. I assumed it was some bike stuff and put it aside because we had a ton of guests this week (we do a lot of entertaining of his collegues from out of town, in case you were thinking we run a sort of restuarant/hotel out of here) and then I had kids home faking illnesses and whatnot. So then he found it and opened it and it turns out that Lin and her family had sent us a set of THESE.
Remember how I was bummed because I had bought pint glasses and the ones I bought didn't actually hold a pint? Lin and her husband decided that could NOT STAND. Look how big these are!! Is that hilarious or what? Thank you, Lin and Joe, for taking such good care of Coop's beer drinking needs. If I ever grow up to acquire a taste for beer, I'm sure it will be because of those cool glasses.

And because this blog post swings between joy, laughter and heartbreak, I'd just like to send a big hug and a prayer to all of my friends in Texas who are feeling the Wrath of Ike. I hope you all are reading this from higher ground where you and your loved ones are warm and dry.

Also? A little prayer that no huge tree falls on our house there.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More About Ground Zero



Ladonna wrote in yesterday's comments about her reactions to visiting Ground Zero. She reminded me of a column I wrote but never finished in 2004, after seeing Ground Zero myself. I don't know. I'm having a bit of a hard time today. It is a cool, gray, rainy day in New York --as if the heavens themselves are crying in Memoriam-- and I can't think of much else but the tragic anniversary yesterday and how fast these seven years have passed, even though it seems that not much has changed. Anyway, I thought y'all might like this, even though it's not finished. It may never be finished.

So the thing is… maybe it’s not such an Impossible Dream.

At the end of October (2004), I met a few girlfriends in New York City. One of my friends is from Canada and one from Australia and we all met for a wonderful childless weekend to paint the town (at our advanced ages) a pale pink.

We all brought a few things that represented our native lands. I took some Texas treats with me –goofy boot and longhorn shaped cookie cutters, some hot jalapeno jelly and a few CDs from Texas artists. One of them, Patty Griffin’s Impossible Dream, became the soundtrack of the weekend for me. It’s a bit of a melancholy record –Griffin is a sensitive singer/songwriter and I think this record reflects the uncertainty of our times.

We're just like anyone else
We just want a little bit
Of sun for ourselves
And a little bit of rain
To make it all grow
Maybe a minute or two
To get lost in the glow
Of love

I met this group of women when I first was pregnant with Ana. We met on a board at ParentSoup.com for mothers with children due in March 1998 and unbelievably, it’s been seven years now. We’ve had subsequent children —or not. And subsequent husbands –or not. We’ve been stay-at-home moms -- or not. It’s a very diverse group, which is comforting in these times when diversity seems so threatening. Because we really love each other, despite our differences.

We had a New York City gathering because our Australian friend Trish was coming for a visit and it’s not like she comes from Australia every day or even every YEAR. Trish has been displaying an almost rabid interest in our political process and it’s been pretty funny to see how the Americans on our board have tried very hard to remain diplomatically silent. Or not. But even when our discussions have gotten heated, there is a respect for our freedom to make up our own minds; an unwritten rule that we don’t really care much which side of the fence you end up on, as long as you’ve given that fence some good thought.

There's always someone throwing matches around
Waving the shiny new knife
The first to run when the house burns down
I've seen it every day of my life

The most meaningful day in New York for me was the day we went to Ground Zero. I confess to having tears in my eyes when I flew in and saw the skyline so irrevocably changed. But it’s been three years and I’ve moved past the enormous grief of those days in September 2001. That’s what happens, I guess –we return to our daily lives and gradually the sadness fades a bit and it’s no longer like a knot in our stomachs all the time. I still feel bad every time I see the images on TV but I haven’t been so despairing.

I wasn’t prepared for the reality, though.

It was just shocking. This huge NOTHINGNESS. This great quiet. All of us, visitors from all over the world, walked around the site where the World Trade Center once stood, in utter silence. In the middle of New York City, on a busy Saturday morning, at Ground Zero, there was this stunned stillness. There just weren’t any words to describe what we were feeling. It felt holy. It was shattering. The huge, aching sorrow I felt must be some faint shadow of God’s own.

Directly across the street from the site is St. Paul’s Chapel which was curiously untouched by the attacks. The church credits a large sycamore tree that shielded it from falling debris as the towers fell -- it didn’t even sustain a broken window. On September 11th, 2001, in the midst of what must have seemed like Armageddon, this little church, built in 1766, stood unscathed.

After the attack on September 11, 2001, St. Paul's served as a refuge for recovery workers at the WTC site. It was the fence around St. Paul’s where countless flowers and cards and teddy bears were left by people wanting to do something —some small thing -- to express comfort to the people of New York City. It was also where people posted pictures of missing loved ones in hopes that someone had seen them somewhere. In hope.

For eight months, hundreds of volunteers worked around the clock, serving meals, making beds, counseling and praying with fire fighters, construction workers, police and others. Today, inside the church, an exhibit has been created entitled “Unwavering Spirit: Hope & Healing at Ground Zero.” It was there that my friends and I (and practically every other visitor I saw) cried as we read the letters from the children around the world and saw the cots that the legions of volunteers rested upon. The photos… I just can’t describe how moving it was. When I saw the response to the hatred of those attacks, the largeness of spirit and the unity…I have never been prouder of my country. And actually, I really felt like the whole world shared our outrage and grief and pride.

I must confess there appears to be
Way more darkness than light
I want to fall like a pearl
To the bottom of the sea
There no one will find us tonight

Three years later, it was a little weird for me to be the sole representative of America in the group and to hear the criticism (benign as it was since we’re friends) of my country’s foreign policy since the attacks on 9/11. I tried to really listen because it’s easy to live in Texas and forget that I’m part of this global community and that the rest of the world feels the impact of the decisions that are made by America.

I’m so conflicted over this war, you know, and really sickened by the cruelty and depravity displayed by some of my own countrymen. And then again, heartsick for the ones who have died and their families who must now find a life without them. It’s such a waste of human potential –all this death and pain and suffering. I don’t know how to reconcile the very human desire for vengeance over the innocents lost at Ground Zero with my spiritual belief that war is wrong.

Tonight
It might look pretty bad
We might lose everything
We thought that we had

And honestly, I support and pray for our troops but I just don’t understand what we’re DOING over there. I don’t see a measurable effect on Al Queda, especially with the video released by Osama Bin Laden last November where, “Not only is he not captured and very much alive, he looks like he's been hiding out in St-Tropez,” as Newsweek said.

I can’t stand the thought of the loss of life—so much potential just…gone. Just like September 11, there is nothing-- no moral righteousness, no child’s grief --that will bring back even one lost parent. Don’t get me wrong, there ARE things I believe in enough to die for them. Not just my children, although they are the first reasons that come to mind. I’d like to think that I would have gone into the Twin Towers to try to save someone. I love my country and I would fight to the death to protect the principles on which it was founded –the constitution that promises equality and freedom of expression and religion. But I don’t understand why people are still dying in Iraq.

But shadows will pass
Smoke, it will clear
If something survives of us around here
I'll be glad 'cause I know
I was lost in the glow
Of love


"The framers of the constitution knew human nature as well as we do. They too had lived in dangerous days; they too knew the suffocating influence of orthodoxy and standardized thought. They weighed the compulsions for restrained speech and thought against the abuses of liberty. They chose liberty." William Orville Douglas

I know this column needs an ending. I guess I don't feel like it can be finished until this war is finally over and our people get to come back home. Meanwhile, I'll be back to my usual superficial goofiness and maybe some knitting in my next post...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Love (New York) Thursday


(For those of you who receive the blog via e-mail, there's YouTube clip of a wonderful Stevie Wonder song here called "Love's In Need of Love Today." YouTube clips don't travel via e-mail subscription for some reason.)

It's September 11th.

I've written about September 11th before (and here and here) but never as a New Yorker.

And wow, it's very different to see it from the perspective of a New Yorker.

You know, I don't consider myself a bona fide New Yorker yet --it hasn't even been six months since we moved here. But I have come to have a deep affection for New Yorkers, as a species. (Well, okay, with the exception of the cabbie who cheated me out of $20 and the crack head guy in the grocery store and maybe one or two of the drivers.)

The thing about the New Yorkers I've met is how genuine they are --truly, what you see is what you get up here. Whereas in the South, I would frequently find myself wondering what so-and-so meant when she said THAT, up here, I KNOW what so-and-so meant when she said THAT and not only that, I almost always know WHY she said that. Plus, New Yorkers are so CHEERFUL, it seems to me--and even the ones who are trying to mess with you seem to have the attitude, "Well, you can't blame a guy for trying" when you call them on it. No harm, no foul. They're an energetic, engaged, happy people and you know what else I love? They TALK. They're TALKERS. The average New Yorker will use more words ordering breakfast than I do in an entire day.

And they talk FAST. They DRIVE faster. They'll flip you a bird as soon as look at you in traffic, but they'll give you a big hug and a kiss as soon as look at you any place else. Everyone here has ethnic heritage that they're proud of (it's like running into the cast of My Big Fat Greek Wedding everywhere), even if it's only that they hail from Jersey. They're proud of where they came from and they'd be glad to tell you about it.

I don't know, I don't think I'm describing them very well. Y'all come on up here and see for yourself. You'll love them, really. They'll make you smile.

And, see, once I met (really MET) New Yorkers, the magnitude of what happened on 9/11/2001 really became obvious. It was a sucker punch of such horrific proportions that it changed life up here in the deepest, most profound way. This area of the country is so densely populated that everyone here knew someone who perished in the attacks. Everyone here can quote the statistics: the number of civilians killed. The number of firefighters gone. Everyone has a story of where they were and where their loved ones were when the towers came down.

I find that I am just heartsick and outraged over the attacks on 9/11 in a way I didn't know to be before I moved here. Because these are no longer anonymous faces, you know? These are my people.

And I think I finally understand something else, too. I've been sad that the schools here don't welcome parents. Someone told me that this has been the rule since September 11, 2001--the schools shut down and just never opened back up. I think I get it now. Because today I was driving Jane (7) to school and thinking about the attacks and I ...wanted to turn around and head back home with her. Just... hold her close and not let her out of my sight.

The thing that keeps coming to me is how vulnerable we all are--no matter where we live and no matter how hard we try to lock things down. There just has to be a better way to respond than to turn our lives into holding cells, waiting for the next attack to come. There has to be a better way to respond than to send even more of our people away to die in a war/occupation/whatever is happening in Iraq. There has to be a better way than politics as usual.

I don't know what that better way is, though.

The force of evil plans
To make you its possession
And it will if we let it
Destroy ev-er-y-body
We all must take
Precautionary measures
If love and peace you treasure
Then you'll hear me when I say

Oh that
Love's in need of love today
love's in need of love today
Don't delay
don't delay
Send yours in right away
right a-way
Hate's goin' round
hate's goin' round
Breaking many hearts
break-ing hearts
Stop it please
stop it please
Before it's gone too far
gone too far

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

What IS It About Me and Grocery Stores?

I've written before about my bad luck with grocery stores. Here's another one. (If you can only click on one, I think the last one is the funniest.)

So, we've been entertaining some of my husband's colleagues from work and we had people coming to watch the Open final last night and I had to run to the grocery store before everyone got to our house. Ana and I picked up Jane from school and headed directly there. Shortly after we get there, I notice this guy who looks like some sort of homeless person, wandering around the store, doing his shopping and talking non-stop. He tries to chat the girls up, which might have completely freaked me out but I'd already decided he was ON something and not really a pedophile. (I mean, he might have BEEN a pedophile but he was so inebriated that I was pretty sure I could take him in a fist fight.)

He, naturally, gets in line right in back of me.

Of COURSE he does.

I have a full cart of groceries and he starts asking other people as they pass by, all drunkenly amused at my expense, "Is there a SHORT CUT through this line?" like he's being so incredibly inconvenienced by how long we're taking.

Naturally, it is almost impossible to get someone to bag my groceries. So I swipe my debit card, ask for $40 in cash back and since the cashier kid is still ringing up groceries, I go to help sack stuff and try to fit all the sacks back into the cart. (Why is it that you know you just took all of those groceries OUT of the cart but you can never put them all back IN the cart once they're in bags?)

I look up to see that the cashier has just handed my receipt and money to the Drunk/Meth/Crazy guy.

I say, "Excuse me, that's my money and receipt."

The kid behind the counter says, "...wha?"

I point to the Drunk/Crazy/Meth head (?) guy and say, slowly so everyone really gets this part, "WE. Are. NOT. Together."

The D/C/M Guy finished my transaction at the keypad so the cashier thought he must actually be WITH me.

I wait there while the drunk guy accuses me of ringing up everything on HIS card. Then the cashier says, "I think then some of his stuff is in your bag."

I say, no, I had placed a divider after my groceries. His groceries are still clearly sitting on the belt behind the divider.

There is a lot of questioning the drunk guy as to whether his stuff is still on the belt.

We can all agree that it is.

He's still holding my money.

The manager comes over and the cashier, who I think really thought *I* was the problem for a little while, explains what he thinks is going on.

We all agree that the Drunk/Meth/Crazy guy's groceries are still sitting on the belt.

I am running low on patience and my poor girls are standing there, silent and with big eyes. So, finally, I reach over and I take my money from the drunk guy's hand and then I reach over again and I take my receipt.

Because it's MY reciept and it goes with MY money. And I am not leaving without both of those things.

I am calm and steely and contemptuous.

The manager apologizes to me for the incident, but sort of under his breath because clearly, we are all afraid of setting the Drunk/Crazy/Meth guy off.

I, the Queen of Understatement, say, "Yes, there seems to be something of a substance abuse issue at work."

The Drunk/Crazy/Meth guy says, "Well, you could at least throw me a twenty after I waited all this time."

I look at him and my voice goes into that, "I'm about to pull freaking parts of your freaking anatomy out through your freaking nose" LOW register that always surprises me because, well, who knew I even had that? and I say, "I'm not really in the habit of giving my money away." (Which, okay, wasn't that clever but the fumes were starting to get to me.) (Did I mention how bad this guy smelled?)

He was paying for his beer and paltry groceries with a credit card when we left.

And then we got in the car and I talked to the girls about how you don't have to get explosive but you can't let people just brazenly rob you. And that some people are just creepy and how this guy seemed to have some sort of addiction... So then they tell me that the guy kept trying to talk to them and I honestly felt a rage akin to... well, I don't know what. But Very Scary Rage.

I think, "Clearly, we have to move."

Which, oddly enough, makes me feel more at home here in New York since I felt that way about 90% of the time after going grocery shopping in Austin.

And then I cooked a good dinner and we had a great time with our guests and by the end of the evening, I was back to center. Which is good because now I have the perfect excuse to do ALL of my cooking at Delightful Dinners, where they do the shopping FOR me.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Out of the Frying Pan

Have you ever started doing something after a long time of NOT doing it and had that rush of forgotten skills come flooding back to you?

Knitting was like that, for me. I had done a lot of knitting when I was 12 and then basically none at all until 30 years later. It amazes me that my hands knew exactly what to do--how to hold the needles and the yarn and how to control the tension of the yarn as it flows through my fingers. Actually, it's really funny because I am what is called a "Continental" knitter, which means I hold my working yarn in my left hand, and since I am the only Continental knitter I know (and I think the only one in my knitting group), if knitting hadn't come back to me as easy as breathing, I would have NO ONE to ask for help. But it did, because some skills are just part of the fiber (hah!) of who we are once we learn them.

I have another skill like that: I can write grants.

In fact, I am a very good grant writer and in my L.B.K. (Life Before Kids) I raised literally millions of dollars for various non-profit organizations. And then I had my girls and I stopped doing that because, well, I really didn't want to do that anymore. It's hard, tedious work (mostly) and you have to swing at six million pitches before you ever get a base hit (Oh. My. Gosh. Clearly, I am overwrought if I am now making SPORTS ANALOGIES. I'm going to go drink a glass of cold water and come back when I'm calmer.)

(Insert "hold" music... "Oh.... Mandee--well, you came and you gave without taking...")

(Sorry about getting you stuck on that song.)

Anyway, as I was saying before my Psychotic Break, grant writing isn't really about anything so much as it is doing research and then writing and submitting grant proposals-- lather, rinse, repeat. It's kind of boring, really, and incredibly time consuming and no one wants to do it. Especially on a volunteer basis.

But guess what I'm doing this year?

I am chairing the grants committee for Ana's school. In fact, as it stands now, I AM the grants committee for Ana's school.

I know, I know, what if it cuts into my blogging time?? But I have to get involved in this new community in which we live and it's not like I have very many other skills I can offer. I can't even make copies! No, seriously, I have some weird Copier Death Ray and I can break a copy machine faster than you can say "add more toner." Once, I was walking PAST the copy room at my job and the door to the copier fell off of the machine. I am serious! There was no one touching the copy machine and all I did was walk PAST it and it broke. It got to where my staff would see me heading to the copier and they'd form a human barricade in front of it. "Step away from the copier and no one gets hurt!" You should see what I can do to a FAX machine...it's really ugly.

So, that's out. I'm not sure what else I could do--knit socks for the student body?

At any rate, here I am, dusting off some old skills.

It's funny, though, because I went to a Meeting this morning to learn about the committees at Ana's school and at some point, I heard something that sounded sort of like a click as my grant writing gear dropped into place. I began thinking of all the things the school needs and how easy some of them would be to fund. And then, boom, I was backing out a timeline and planning some strategic meetings and here I am, doing research and pulling out my old grant proposals and so on.

I think maybe I'm a grant writer again.

I wish my WEIGHT LOSS/EXERCISE gear would click into place... Maybe I could fund a home gym.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

I Don't Think the Heavy Stuff Will Come Down for Quite Some Time Yet

Well, Hanna dumped a LOT of rain in these parts overnight. Well, all day yesterday and then overnight. And, lucky Coopers that we are, we get to experience another rite of passage of East Coast living.

The Dreaded Basement Flood.



Luckily for us, my husband and (unwilling and cranky) children had spent virtually all of our rainy Saturday working to clean up the basement. The kids had gotten so used to playing down there that there were beads and paper and books everywhere and it was a true mess. If they hadn't cleaned up, we would have had some major damage. As it is, only a few rugs and one unpacked box that had some valuable stuff in it (like old yearbooks and coin collections) were damaged.

And then when I told Ana about the flood and how grateful I was for her efforts yesterday, she hopped out of bed to go check it out. Over her shoulder, she asked, "Is this blog worthy?"

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Stripes and Family

So, yesterday the awesome house cleaners came back. My husband has invited a colleague from out of town to stay with us for a few nights starting Sunday and I used that as my excuse to have the whole house cleaned. In all honesty, I was just so far behind that it was sort of important to my mental health and, well, niceness that my house be clean. All of it. All at the same time.
Because some days it feels like all I do is clean house and still, it never gets all the way clean. All at the same time.

But, ahhhh. Look:
I only took the one picture because the only time the cleaning crew could come yesterday was at 5:00 and we were having a few of our neighbors over for dinner at 6:30. So the cleaners were still here when our guests arrived, which was a little awkward but they (especially the women) understood and everyone was very gracious about it.

We had invited a few of our neighbors for a casual cookout because it seems to me that the more we host these little get-togethers, the more at home I feel up here in this strange land. In a few days, we will celebrate our six month anniversary since we moved here and I still have days when I really miss our life in Austin.

I don't quite have the hang of things up here. Like, sometimes I think I'm TOO casual in the way I invite people over to our house. Because one of my neighbors showed up with wine, ice cream, a salad, macaroni and cheese (homemade and the best I've ever eaten) and get this, an entire London Broil. I don't usually invite people to dinner and then ask them to BRING IT so I was a little embarrassed. And then she practically cleaned my whole kitchen at night's end. My other neighbor brought some sausage to grill (from a place called, I am so serious, "Mr. Sausage.") and an entire New York cheesecake (the best I've ever eaten) and some little cannoli and assorted other sweets. And at night's end, SHE asked if she should give me some money toward the dinner.

(Actually, I think she was just joking about that since I had been going on and on about how I now do all of my cooking (practically) at Delightful Dinners. Because I know we're from Texas and not quite wise to the New York way of doing things but I'm pretty sure people up here don't invite guests for dinner and then pass the hat!)

(I mean, well, do they?)

I sent everyone home with jars of tomato sauce from the garden --sort of a New York twist on the cans of black-eyed peas I usually give out at New Years.

Anyway, this morning I went to return my neighbor's mac and cheese dish (and beg for a recipe) and I was sort of thanking her and apologizing to her at the same time for all she'd done, including all that work in the kitchen. And do you know what she said?

She smiled at me and gave me a hug and she said, "That's just what we do in my family when we all get together."

Dudes. I almost cried. Is that about the nicest thing you've ever heard? Maybe we DO have family in New York.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Random Thursday Love

For those of you keeping score at home, another miserable attempt to give my husband a present has been foiled. Again.

See, in our move from Texas to New York, Coop's pint glasses, the ones with the peeling Pete's Wicked Ale logos? Well, they got donated to Goodwill mysteriously went missing. He's been pining for them because they were the only glasses we had that held a full pint of beer, meaning you could pour an entire beer, put the bottle in the recycling and not have to carry both a bottle AND a glass around with you. So, I set about finding some replacements that would please both of us.

After much deliberation, I found what I thought were the perfect ones. No logo. Nice clean lines. Pint glasses. The only thing was that they were only sold in sets of 24 but I figured, well, we'll have a party at some point and there will be a lot of beer drinkers.

(Hey, it could happen.)

The glasses, you know, the PINT glasses? Arrived yesterday.

They are smaller than I thought.

All 24 of them. Smaller.
Oh, yes to can put a pint's worth of liquid in them all right. It's just that if you actually want to carry the beer WITH you anywhere, you're either going to need a straw or you're going to have to bend way down and slurp the first ounces from where the glass is setting on the counter.

That ought to be a fun party, huh? Can't you just picture 24 burly men lining their beers up on the counter, pouring and then bending waaayyyy over to slurp? Synchronized Beer Slurping--sure to be a new sport included in the 2016 Olympics.

Not exactly what I was going for.

*************************************
So, the thing about being a blogger is that I want to be helpful. So, there are things, weighty things, about which I want to wax eloquent.

Except, it appears that my blogger friends? Are MUCH more eloquent than I.

Earlier this week I went to the grocery store, with my children in tow because, hey, that SHOULD be plenty safe since they eat exactly three things. Only, FINDING those three things and ascertaining that they are remotely healthy is simply impossible. We left with a box of Lucky Charms (magically delicious) and a Polly Pocket set. I was going to write about how hard it is to find anything to eat at the grocery store when I remembered that my friend MadMad had already written about that here.

So then, a friend sent me this which made really want to write something about protecting the environment and about trying to divine the fine line between not having any impact on the planet at all and um, living in this world. But Miriam, over at Farm Suite, already kind of covered that here.

So, then the girls and I went to Walmart, which I hate. For reasons that Kate has so eloquently detailed here. We did manage to leave without a single plastic bag, though, and we only lost about half of our will to live in the process.

And then I wanted to write something about Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter, but Mrs. G. wrote every single thing I wanted to say, right here, and I feel the need to add a big thanks to her for saying it in such a gracious, kind, no bashing, third person kind of way.

I kept thinking of things I could write helpfully about and then remembering that some other writer had already pretty much covered that topic. So, I thought I'd write a post about it, except, um, well...

****************************************************
Tonight I am going to Knit Night. It's the start of the fall season and my knitting friends and I will be meeting at my LYS (Local Yarn Store) in Huntington instead of at our summer location, which is a bookstore. I'm really excited about meeting at the store because there is something about knitting surrounded by all of that yarn --yarn fumes....mmmmm. The store is called the Knitting Corner and I love it with a passion I usually reserve for homegrown tomatoes. I firmly believe that if you live anywhere even CLOSE to Long Island, you should shop at the Knitting Corner for all of your yarn needs.

Having made that really clear, I have to tell you about a friend who runs a FANTASTIC yarn shop ON-LINE. After today, I'll feel a little bit of a conflict of interest in promoting an online shop, because I really do feel that a knitter gets a lot more than just yarn from his/her LYS. Dudes, in all honesty? I got the group of women who made it impossible for me to just pack up and move back to Texas --and there were/are times when I really, really wanted to do just that. But I can't leave them. I love them.

But since I ALSO have this inadvertent real estate empire working (sigh), I am really, really watching my pennies. And the thing is, once I started making and felting bags, I started needing a lot more yarn. (I'm dying to show you some pictures but since I have been working on Christmas presents, I'm trying to be good.) The yarn I use for my bags is called Noro Kureyon and it costs about $9 a skein if I buy it in a yarn store. Online, at my friend Sue's shop called Little Knits, it is $4.68 a skein and less than that if you buy a full bag! She has other truly amazing deals that may cause you to have a falling down with your credit card. But just think of all the money you'll be saving!

Sue has made the difference between my knitting, say, a CELL PHONE cover for my sister and knitting a large, spectacular, six-skein, felted, gorgeous tote bag for her. (Not that you're getting a large, spectacular, six-skein, felted tote bag from me, Sis, so just move along, nothing to see here...)

********************************

In my haste to post yesterday (get it??? POST HASTE! HAH!) (Ah, me, I crack myself up.) about going to see the U.S. Open, I forgot to tell y'all the classic quote for the day. As soon as we sat down, Jane (7) turned to her father in amazement. "Is ALL they show here TENNIS?"

And then a little bit later, she asked him, "Hey, is this live?"

No, we didn't watch too much Olympics' coverage, why do you ask?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Wow, That Went Fast

And just like that, summer is over.

We had a fantastic Labor Day weekend. We went to the beach.

We had a big picnic in the backyard. Note Scout's intensity as he waits for Coop to throw the tennis ball. When Coop doesn't respond fast enough, Scout sneaks in and puts it even closer to Coop. Finally, (and you could just SEE this coming, right?) he drops it on Coop's face.

We did some hula-hooping. It seemed the thing to do. "Peace out, Sister!"

And THEN, on Monday, we went to the U.S. Open. No, really, we DID. Someone at Coop's office had (incredibly expensive) seats he wasn't using on Monday and he gave them to Coop.

It was SO MUCH FUN. First of all, there's the whole thing where you dress as if the television cameras were going to find you in the crowd of a bazillion people. (Um, you would have done that, too, right? RIGHT? I thought so. That's why we're likethis.) Look, a bazillion people! And there's Barb! Oh no, wait, that's totally someone else. THERE'S Barb! No, nope... That's some other woman wearing MAKE-UP who might or might not have ironed her very nicest khakis from Target.

Before we ever got to the stadium, we stopped and bought the kids some ice cream and we bought drinks that came in this cup from the Grey Goose stand. (Grey Goose vodka always reminds me of my friend Marianne, who is the first person I ever met who drank it.) Anyway, the drink that came in this glass, shown here with cork so you can see how it's not very big, cost $13. It was good but it wasn't THAT good, know what I mean?

(Look at me with the captions today. I have no idea what brought that on.)

Anyway, we saw Rafael Nadal (Olympic gold medalist) play and I would just like to go on record as saying he is really, really cute a darn good tennis player. Those are some good leg muscles right there.

I took a lot of pictures of his legs him because his match went three HOURS and fourteen minutes. More than THREE HOURS for one match. Rafael (we're on a first name basis) was really cute when he got all sweaty exhausted.

We also saw Venus Williams (Olympic Gold medalist) play her match. Venus is six feet, one inch tall and she weighs about ten pounds more than I (5'5") do.

(Falls to the floor, sobbing, and rending her last pair of pants that fit.)

Venus played this pretty Polish woman whose name we never got to know because Venus kicked her hiney so fast. Oh, LOOK, I have almost that same sports bra. And I bet I look exactly like that in it! Of COURSE I do.

Oh, hush.

So then we walked around the Arthur Ashe Stadium, which has views of the Manhattan skyline: Photo by Ana.

The Unisphere from the 1964 World's Fair: Photo by Coop

Shea stadium (the current home of the NY Mets) and Citi Field (their future home.)

and also adorable girls with chocolate on their noses:

The funny thing about going to see the Open is that every time I've watched it on television, I've thought, "What? They couldn't find a place to build the stadium where it wasn't in the flight path?" Well, it turns out that it is practically NEXT to the airport. Planes, one right after another, fly so close you can almost see the people inside. I mean, finding land for a stadium anywhere NEAR Manhattan pretty much means it'll be in the flight path. This is just a very densely populated part of the country --I never really realized HOW densely populated it is until I moved here.

So then yesterday was spent going to the dentist and getting haircuts and making sure we had all of the required school supplies. (Back in Austin, the PTA ordered the supplies FOR the kids. It was a fundraiser because by buying in bulk, the PTA got bulk discounts. But it was a totally great thing for everyone--the teachers could specify exactly what they wanted, the kids all got the SAME THINGS, and the parents didn't have to go to Walmart and lose their minds. I'd offer to spear-head a similar effort up here but, you know, I really don't want to.)

Then we had Steak Night, complete with the Love candle.

And then this morning, these beautiful, excited young ladies marched off to school.



I have about three hours until I have to leave to pick up Ana from her first day of fifth grade and I'm scheduling some exercise, some housework, and some time to feel melancholy that summer is over and my playmates have gone back to school.