Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Love Thursday Roller Coaster

Last night was the parent orientation for Middle School. I had to go because, theoretically (I may or may not believe this), I have a daughter old enough to enter Middle School next year.

I was standing in the front, collecting pamphlets and paperwork when a woman I know slightly came through the doors, looked straight at me and said, "Good GOD! I just aged ten years by walking through that door."

Truer words have never been spoken. We commiserated on the fact that we're pretty sure there is no way our kids could possibly be old enough to go to MIDDLE SCHOOL.

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

My daughter Ana (11, who may or may not be almost a Middle Schooler depending on what you believe. *I* believe I just brought her home from the hospital YESTERDAY.) took part in the NYSSMA piano competition on Tuesday. I am sort of philosophically opposed to things that promote "competition" in the arts as a rule but in this case, it was a chance for Ana to practice playing in front of a stranger who accorded her a score based on her performance of a musical piece, three scales and sight-reading. Ana was very nervous but she performed with excellence and I think it was a good confidence booster for her.

The only thing was that I couldn't be there while she performed because I had to go pick up my younger daughter (Jane, 8) from school. The rules don't allow parents in the room while the judging is going on anyway but I couldn't even stand outside, sending good vibes and crossing my fingers.

It didn't matter, you know. She didn't need me.

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

My husband came home from traveling last night. He made it home in time to meet me at the Middle School orientation, just in case we really DO have a child going to Middle School next year. When we got home, he opened a bottle of wine. I said, all smug, "You know, I didn't drink wine the whole time you were gone. I haven't had any wine this week."

And he said, "And it's already Wednesday, Barb. That's like Monday and Tuesday night. Can you even remember what wine tastes like?"

Oh, right.

And touché.

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

Our ridiculously dumb cow dog, who suffered an leg injury in February that left him emotionally crippled but physically fine, overcame his fear and has fetched the paper three days in a row. This is a huge milestone for everyone. He's so dumb, though, that if he hesitates and makes a false start and comes back and tries to hide behind my legs, all I have to sit him down and act like this is the most exciting thing in the world! He has to wait...wait....wait...OKAY, GET MY PAPER!! The anticipation of going short circuits his fear and off he goes.

I admit to holding out some hope that maybe he was smarter than he's let on to date and that maybe he was just so anxiety-ridden that he only APPEARED dumb.

Uh, nope.

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

Jane has been writing poems in school. When I saw this one, I almost cried:



It says:
I used to be an artist,
But now I am a writer.
I used to be mean,
But now I am kind.
I used to be happy,
But now I am normal.

So, I asked Jane, "Sweetie, this says you used to be happy. Are you no longer happy?" (Subtext: I'm sure it's my fault that you are no longer happy. Oh, how have I FAILED you??)

And Jane said, "No, I'm plenty happy. But you used to call me Smiley Jane because I was always so smiley and happy. Now I'm more normal."

Oh.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

O, The Humiliation of Being Me

Okay, okay.

I am embarrassed to show y'all this video of me hula hooping but you guys demanded it and, well, apparently I have no pride. And also, no life.


Videography by Ana Cooper


I should explain to you all (because I know it's not readily apparent) that I am still dieting and I am exercising. I've been trying really hard since March 6th and so far, I've lost a whopping seven whole pounds. Which I had to beat off of my body with a crow bar. If I'd shown the kind of discipline I've had for the past two months at any other time in my life, I could have RULED THE WORLD. I hate my metabolism in my forties. (Should it even exist, which I doubt.)

And here is my daughter Jane (8) showing us all how it's REALLY done. (She wanted to put this on her OWN blog but I am sneaking it in here so that the last visual you have in your brain is not of me hula-hooping, especially if you're going out to dinner or something.


Videography (and big voice) by Ana Cooper.

Pendulum

Lest you think that all is deep and Zen here at the Cooper Clubhouse, I would like to reassure you that, in direct response to my existential crisis, my latent ability to hula hoop has resurfaced. It only comes around once a decade or so.

I would post a video (because, why, yes, I have no pride) but it is impossible to hula hoop AND film oneself hula hooping. Plus, you know, it is a very, very, very scary visual.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Existential Angst



I've been a tad quiet lately (for me) because I've been sort of going through an existential crisis.

When I was in college, I came home for my first Spring Break and, because I couldn't get enough of my group of college friends, I met a bunch of them for dinner. My particular group of friends during this time was a group of Deep Thinkers. We would meet at a little bar/cafe near campus and talk for hours, HOURS, about the meaning of life and why there was air and other Deep Things. So, on this spring break, I went to do the same thing because we hadn't quite figured the Air Thing out yet.

I would like to make very plain that I was underage and not drinking on this particular night. Because I had the weirdest experience--I've never forgotten it--and I don't want y'all thinking that it was alcohol-induced. Or that there was any other funny stuff involved, if you know what I mean.

While seated at this table of people, I had the distinct feeling of both being AT the table and ABOVE the table. (Remember--no mood altering substances involved!) (Also? Not a near-death experience. There was no tunnel, no light, no one beckoning me forward.) (I know, I know--it's very odd. There I was: stone sober and floating above a table in a nice restaurant in Dallas.)

And as I was fully participating in the conversation, I was also sort of floating above it, thinking, "But nothing anyone here is saying is truly original thought! This is all intellectual regurgitation! We are all FRAUDS."

I excused myself and drove home to my parent's house and sat down on my bed (which was actually not MY bed but the guest room bed since as soon as I left for college my parents turned my bedroom into their study and sold my bed.) (Not that I'm bitter.) (Can you say, "youngest of four children off to college, hallelujah?") and stared at the wall. There is nothing as lonely as an eighteen year old college freshman whose world has just been shaken to its core and who is out of chocolate and sitting in the guest room of her parents' house.

I started to think, 'well, maybe true original thought doesn't really exist except in a mind like an Einstein or a Mozart or other people who have the capacity to change the world.'

Which, um, begs the question, "So, if most of us are not endowed with talents or intellectualism to change the world, what the heck are we doing here?"

My mother came into my the guest room at this point and sensing that something was up, asked me what was going on. I told her about my revelations of the evening and she said, "Well, I believe that our purpose here is to do the best we can, to be kind and honorable and to leave the world a little better than we found it. We don't all have the capacity to change the world so we work with what we have."

My mother is not the most comforting person in the world. But she is pragmatic and very honest.

So, then I went back to college and told my boyfriend, who was not really part of my social circle of clove cigarette-smoking pseudo-intellectuals, about the whole experience and he looked at me and said, "Well, *I* know why we're here."

I said, "Really? Why?"

And he said, "God." And then there was a lot of kissing and for a long time I studied religions and theology and did a lot more kissing until it all got sort of confused in my brain--the boy and kissing and God.

When the boy and I broke up, many years later, I sort of lost my religion and my church home, too, but never my belief in God.

Then I met my husband (really, really good kissing) and we got married and had children and my life was all about keeping them from dying by feeding them and washing them and entertaining them and fighting with them about screen time.

Fast-forward eleven years and here I am with my children vastly more independent (although they still need me to reach the ice cream sandwiches) and my husband working a lot of hours and I sit, having the same attack of questions I had 26 years ago as a naive college kid. If I'm not here to do great things and change the world and be on Oprah, why AM I here? What am I doing with my life?

So, I've been struggling with these large deep questions and I've talked to a few of my cyber friends about this and in the end, I keep coming back to God and small things. Because the God I know doesn't charge me to go out and do Big Things and change the course of the world --especially if those Big Important Things are about glorifying MYSELF. He/She/FSM charges me to be a good person (no lying, cheating, murdering, adultering...) and to go about my day loving people and doing the small things before me with as much love and grace and gratitude as I can muster.

There's this great John Hiatt song called "Through Your Hands" that says, "Whatever your hands find to do, you must do with all your heart." Sometimes I forget, though, and I become discontented with the small things: the thousands of meals I make that don't get eaten, the tons of laundry I turn right-side-out and fold neatly that ends up back in the hamper, the six trips a week I make to the grocery store because I can't ever get organized enough to buy everything at once...the sheer mind-numbing repetitive futility of it all robs me of my joy. I wish there was a reset button that would bring me back to the place where I could appreciate the rhythm of these small days.

Of course, as soon as I wrote that, Spring arrived all in a rush and it turns out there IS a reset button. Ana (11) and I started some seeds on Earth Day and here it is, three days later and we have sprouts --miraculous and tiny. It's the ultimate microcosm of how small things have the potential to bring great joy (not to mention a summer's worth of tomato sandwiches.)

I guess there are all kinds of ways to change the world.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Missing the Old Girl

Today was a truly gorgeous day here on Long Island. It was sunny and mild and I don't even care if it was a Spring Tease, I was bound and determined to get my hands into some dirt. I planted some lettuce and my strawberry plants and...okay, some flowers that may die a slow lingering death by almost-frost... It was lovely. Last year, I was so impressed by the fervor with which Long Islanders embrace Spring. THIS year, having weathered the long winter, I have a whole new understanding.

So, I planted. And at some point I realized that I had both of my garden gloves from last year, despite the fact that I'd left them carelessly on the back steps.

It made me sad.

You see, my old dog Sydney, who died right before Thanksgiving, always stole one of my gloves when I left them lying about. Not just ANY old glove, either--always the right-handed glove. At one point, I had about sixteen gloves --all left-handed. I guess since I'm right-handed, my right glove must have smelled more like me or something. But she would steal the right one and then chew it and bury it...I was always finding the remains. It made me laugh, if only in exasperation.

Gosh, I still miss her so much.

So, I was pretty amazed when Coop came home, gave me a hug and said, "I think it's time to look for a puppy."

And I said, "Okay."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Walking and Friends

I haven't said much about this but I have this new walking friend named Donna. And when I say walking I mean WALKING. For exercise. And company. And therapy.

I said to Donna the other day, "I know you won't believe this but I am SHY. If you hadn't e-mailed me, I would NEVER have e-mailed YOU. And, gosh, I can't tell you what this means to me! I'm a totally different woman since we started walking."

And she said, "Well, I read your blog and I could see how depressed you were getting!"

She, you know, saved me.

Like my friend Miraculous Laurie, who will always get the credit for making me get off the couch and go see a doctor when my depression became clinical.

And then I was thinking about Lin and how lucky I was to have her here, even for a short time. Whenever I think of Lin, I think of how crazy she is about her husband. Which is exactly how crazy I am about MY husband. Which is also something shared by my NY friends Donna and Two-N-Anna and Miraculous Laurie and my friend Sharon (who lost her husband much too young, much too early.)

So, in the year since I first moved to Long Island, I have met five exceptional women, who are all incredibly smart and who all love their husbands madly. I guess maybe I'm drawn to people who are happily married. I get kind of uncomfortable around women who bash their husbands --not that there isn't some bashing necessary on occasion, I understand that--but for the most part, I seem to make the best friends out of people who genuinely LIKE their spouses.

That's pretty cool.

Anyway, back to Donna. Donna is truly fascinating because she's the most evenly distributed right and left brain person I know. She's VERY creative--VERY. But she is also very into the science behind things and she has a brain for it. I'm very into the science behind things but my problem is that I can never remember any of the specifics of the research I do. I'm likely to explain complex theories by saying, "So, there's this thing that does this thing..." Lucky for me, Donna can fill in the blanks, kind of like Mad-Libs.

(As an aside (No? Really? Barb digressing?), it occurs to me that I am FREQUENTLY at a loss for proper nouns. I used to joke about it, saying things like, "It's Friday, I am out of nouns. I'm expecting a new shipment on Monday." But the Mondays come and the Mondays sometimes go... and I still can't seem to speak. My best friend when I was in college was a dancer and the most incredibly clumsy person I've ever met. I (very gently) teased her about this and she told me, in all seriousness, that she thought she used all of her grace up when she danced. She was an amazing dancer so this seemed plausible. Maybe I use all of my nouns up when I'm writing? Would I have to be an exceptional writer for this analogy to work? How can I be one if I am out of nouns?)

Donna is about the same height as Ana (5'1") but she seems taller because she has such a big personality. She has a bazillion watts of energy and she's the farmer I always wanted to be. She keeps chickens and, aided and abetted by her husband, keeps the biggest kitchen garden I've ever seen. She's smart and funny and kind and she loves her child with the fierceness shared by all of my best friends. She is also a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of person. I find I respond to that well because I hate guessing about what people are feeling.

I'm so excited to have met someone I like so much and I'm so grateful that she wants to walk with me. (And, obviously, I can't express what it means to be mobile again.) Sometimes we've done our walk and we still have so much to talk about that we go on another half-round.

Okay, I'm going to quit gushing about Donna. Right after I tell you that she totally fixed my kitchen drawer that had been broken since before we moved in. Look! The woman can do ANYTHING.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Well, it made ME laugh

Here is a YouTube video that I shamelessly stole from a blog called Dark Side of the Fridge that I happened on today. I'd never been to this blog before so I clicked around and just happened to watch this video.

Which made me laugh so hard that Jane (8) came running out to see what was so funny. (My kids, fresh off our Spring Break, are now having half days so the parents can attend teacher conferences. Don't get me started...)

Anyway, Jane watched the video with me and I said, "Wasn't that hilarious?"

And she said, "I think it might be funnier if I was a grown up."

Oh.



YEAH, Toast!

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

So, one of the fund-raisers at Ana's school involves parents buying gift cards to stores they normally frequent anyway. It's a great thing because you spend money that you would normally spend say, at the grocery store anyway, but a percentage of it gets kicked back to the school. The school makes money and we're not out of pocket anything --win-win.

Unless you lose the cards, that is.

I bought cards before the Winter Break in February but on the day they were delivered, my husband picked the girls up early from school to take them skiing. I never received the cards and started a full-scale hunt to find them. My friend Sharon searched the school office. The PTA Co-President sent several e-mails to everyone around. Nothing.

I, in my Southern I-don't-want-to-be-pushy kind of way, let the matter drop for several months and then I sent another slew of notes around.

And then it occurred to me to ask my husband if they'd been given to him on the day he took the girls skiing.

Oh, yes, they had.

OOOOOO-KEY, then. So, while I had the world looking for the gift cards, my husband had actually received them. And what's even better? He had taken MY VAN on the ski trip and had lovingly put them in the glove compartment. The entire time I had the world looking for the cards that had actually been given to my husband, I was driving around with them in my glove compartment.

And people wonder why we don't have more children. Clearly, we do such a stellar job keeping up with things.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Joy

So, I'm trying not to get TOO EXCITED but, well, I can't help it.

Look what we built this weekend (and I say we in the sense of I brought cold beverages in my manner of being extremely lame and Coop did all of the building part. After he'd already been on a sixty mile bike ride. Because, that, my friends, is just how my husband rolls. (In the manner of not being lame at all.))



Here's a little montage of how we built them and how helpful our pets were in the process.

(For those of you who get the blog via e-mail, there is a YouTube video here. If you click on the blog title, it will take you to the website and you can watch it. Because I know how you wouldn't want to miss one second of my scintillating photography.)

Saturday was 70 degrees and spectacular. It was a Spring Tease (not the first we've had) since it's now rainy and in the 40's.

But that's the essence of new garden boxes, filled with perfect soil and limitless potential. They mean that I believe that Spring really IS COMING. I believe that we'll soon be chasing fireflies and blowing bubbles and looking the other way when our kids run outside barefoot. I will eat tomato sandwiches again with tomato plants that haven't yet sprung from seeds. I believe, see?

One of the things I love the most about my husband is how indulgent he is of my need to build these monuments to that faith. (And by "my need to build," I mean bring cold beverages while HE builds them.) I'm such a lucky, lucky woman.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sign of the Impending Apocalypse



On the other hand, Coop got the cork out in one piece. He's good like that. And you know, that corkscrew had opened more wine than I will admit to drinking. PLUS, if a corkscrew has to choose a way to die, I'm sure it would choose to go out in just this way, don't you?

Okay, okay, disregard the title of this post and let's all raise a toast to a long life of service...

(Dang. How am I going to open this bottle?)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Anti-Woodloch

We got back from our spectacular family vacation at Woodloch Pines on Sunday and it's been All Reality, All the Time ever since.

Sigh.

Monday, I came downstairs for breakfast.

No one offered me a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Nor my choice of juice and/or sliced fruit. No offers of my choice of those little boxes of cereal or oatmeal. No one perfectly poached my eggs and served them to me with thick-sliced bacon and dry toast--just the way I like it.

There were no refills.

No home fries.

No one but me to make the mutually exclusive meals for my daughters. (Note how Ana eats all but the crusts on her toast and Jane eats only the crusts. Jane eats the eggs; Ana eats the bacon.) (Why, yes, I'm totally okay with this dynamic that happens at every single meal every single day. I'm sure after they leave home for college and I have a long rest in the padded room of my choice, this twitch should disappear.)



When I returned to my room, no one had miraculously made my bed and emptied the trash and left me fresh towels.

The morning's activities consisted of me dragging two surly children to the grocery store and then unloading a van full of groceries by myself. Also? Seven loads of laundry and the deflection of many, many, many requests to go to Michael's.

At no point did I consider calling the spa and getting a massage.

At no point did I leave the kids at the bumper cars and the indoor jungle gym and go work off my Scandinavian Pancakes in the fitness room.



By the time lunch rolled around, I was starving and instructed my children not to talk to me until I had eaten something because I couldn't be trusted to be fair and rational in my response.

Only, there was no waitress to offer me my choice of sandwiches, or seared Ahi Tuna on a bed of greens or something from the bar.

No home fries.

(There is a serious lack of home fries around here.)

After I ate my nuked Lean Cuisine (yum), I started on the afternoon's activity: Namely, finding the horrible toxic smell in my refrigerator. This seemed a far cry from attending a beading class, fishing (Have I told you all that Jane is obsessed with fishing? She woke her father up one day saying, "Dad! It's light outside and we could be fishing!")playing miniature golf and/or riding bumper boats.



I did tour my own kitchen, which took exactly 30 seconds and involved tripping over a pride of orange tabbies that materialized out of nowhere. I feel certain that Woodloch has a "No Orange Cats Allowed" rule in its kitchen, judging by the lack of cat hair and the fact that I could have had my appendix taken out on any surface in the place without risk of infection.


See this guy? He's cooking SIXTY POUNDS of pasta. I'm thinking that guy could make some serious home fries, know what I'm saying?

But back to reality: There was no amazing "theme" dinner, complete with parade of costumed characters.



In fact, there was no evening entertainment at all, unless you count the verbal sparring as I tried to get my kids into the bathtub. No fun family activity like horse races or magic shows. (We did, however, have Jane to weigh in with one of her particular talents.

Why, YES, I did just use a You-Tube video in a parenthetical phrase. I TOLD you people I was gifted at digressions!)

(Here's another: This is Jane melting down about the UNFAIRNESS OF IT ALL after Ana got a hole-in-one playing miniature golf. No sibling rivalry here, no sirree.

No one offered to take a family photo of us all dressed up. In fact, oddly enough, no one really dressed for dinner.


I don't know. At some point it occurred to me that we might MOVE to Woodloch and I could get a job teaching knitting classes --except that I'm really not that great of a knitter so I might not be able to support my family. It's very tempting because the staff at Woodloch LOVES it there. I can't tell you how impressed we were by the total commitment of the staff.

On the other hand, at least I control the music at home and hopefully it won't lead to me having two consecutive dreams about Lional Richie as happened at Woodloch. Still, small price to pay for the sheer awesomeness that was our family--emphasis on family--vacation.

To make myself feel better about the return to reality, I did make these last night:

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Spring Break

Greetings from Northeast Pennsylvania where the Coopers are spending not only Spring Break but a great deal of money. (I'm trying not to think about that part, actually.) We're at this family resort called Woodloch Pines which bills itself as a cruise ship on land but reminds me of the place where the movie Dirty Dancing was set. It's like a cross between summer camp and a resort. Something for everyone.

There is some terrible Internet access here so y'all might have to wait until we get back to the main land before I can show you pictures of us riding bumper boats, bumper cars, go carts, playing miniature golf, swimming, bike riding, fishing, beading, playing on the indoor jungle-gym, seeing the evening entertainment and eating.

I will, however, try to show you what the back of our van looked like before we moved to Bev-er-lee...



(Yeah, that picture took 20 minutes to load. I'll see y'all on Monday.)

Saturday, April 04, 2009

And When She's Bad...

...she's HORRID.

So, I've been going through this existential crisis lately, which is why I haven't posted as frequently as I normally do. I just... don't know what I'm doing with my LIFE or if anything I'm doing is making a difference to anyone. I don't seem to be able to write--which NEVER happens to me. I'm just sort of sitting over here, existing. I wrote an excruciatingly long blog post about it but can't seem to find an ending for it. (Oh, the irony.)

And naturally, just about the time that I'm feeling entirely superfluous to everyone, one of my kids shows me just exactly how true that is.

There is an eight-year-old in my house who stayed up WAY TOO LATE on her first night of Spring Break and was a holy terror all day today. This on top of a week of trying, testing, terrible behavior after her teacher told me that she is more interested in her social life than in learning and that it's having a bad effect on the classroom.

Usually, when one of my kids goes through a patch of acting out, it is followed by some sort of developmental milestone. The last time I can remember this happening, Jane transitioned from a happy-to-be-read-to kid into a voracious reader on her own.

We are happy about the transition.

But the three weeks leading up to it were AWFUL. She may (or may not) have BITTEN a neighbor kid. (We never really got the full story on that so I don't actually know what happened, and her big sister tends to exaggerate when it comes to getting Jane into trouble.)

This time, though, I find myself locked in battle with her over the silliest things.

Take this little exchange, for example.

Jane: Mom, how do you spell "during?"

Mom: D-U-R...

Jane, shaking her head vehemently: No, DURING. Like, 'DURING the movie..."

Mom: I know. I'm telling you. D-U-R

Jane: No! NO! DURING!

Mom: I know it sounds like it starts with a J but you're going to have to trust me on this. It's a D. D-U-R...

Jane, crying real tears of rage and frustration: No! No! That's not how my teacher spells it!

Mom: Jane! Stop screaming at me! You asked me how to spell it and I am telling you. JUST LISTEN FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE!

Jane: No, no, no! DURING! "During the play..."

Mom: JANE, STOP SCREAMING. STOP CRYING. (My finest moment--not.) When you get to school, I want you to ask your teacher how to spell "during." And then I want you to come home and apologize to me for being such a complete and utter PILL.


I take Jane to school and come home to lie down because battling with her has given me such a headache.

And that's just one of thirty conversations like that we have every day. It's EXHAUSTING. I try punishment. I try rewards and positive reinforcement. I try less screen time and more exercise. (This one is probably the key. We've been stuck in the house forever, it seems. If spring doesn't get here soon, we're ALL going to melt down.) But Jane just has to work through whatever this is on her own--clearly, even if I knew how to help her, she wouldn't accept help from me. Or anyone else. So, she stomps around, poisoning our home life and blaming everything on everyone else. And screaming. Did I mention the screaming?

She's in SECOND GRADE.

What the heck am I going to do when she's a teenager?





Click to embiggen and read. And stop that laughing right now.

PS: For the record, we don't spank our children. A little biting, maybe... (KIDDING. Just KIDDING. Don't be sending me your hate mail or I'm going to get Jane to record a "howler" and send it to you.)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Does This Make Me Look Foolish?

I HATE April Fool's Day. I hate it. For many reasons, not the least of which is the idea that perhaps we shouldn't have a day that gives that kind of prankish license to people determined to take themselves out of the gene pool through sheer stupidity. It seems like those people are never content to play jokes on only THEMSELVES.

But I also hate it because it's like an entire day devoted to attempts to humiliate people and y'all, I already have that on accident most other days. I don't really need a special day. Plus, it's very stressful to be peering around corners and checking every chair for whoopee cushions --it's very stressful trying not to get caught. Trying not to be the fool. I guess that's the crux of the matter--no one wants to be caught out and embarrassed, especially me.

And also, I think it's enough of a joke on everyone that Spring has still not arrived.

Unfortunately, I have passed this general dislike of April Fool's Day to my children. Jane (8) wanted to stay home from school today and I swear, if she hadn't already missed so much school due to illness, I would have let her. She's STILL angry/traumatized over the way her older sister (Ana, 11) and a friend hid in her room last year and jumped out at her.

Having taken such a stand on April Fool's Day, I must now prove that I am a hypocrite in all things by confessing that the Google April Fool's Joke warmed my nerdy little heart. Especially the G-Mail "autopilot" thing which purported to be a new enhancement that will answer your e-mail for you. My favorite part of the FAQ said this:

What happens if a sender and recipient both have Autopilot on?

Two Gmail accounts can happily converse with each other for up to three messages each. Beyond that, our experiments have shown a significant decline in the quality ranking of Autopilot's responses and further messages may commit you to dinner parties or baby namings in which you have no interest.