Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This day in History

1498 – Michelangelo is commissioned to carve the Pietà.
1789 – Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen approved by National Assembly at Palace of Versailles.
1858 – First news dispatch by telegraph.
1920 – The 19th amendment to United States Constitution takes effect, giving women the right to vote.
1961 – I was born.

It’s too early to know the effect on some of these events on the history of the world. ..

Too busy today trying to finish my class. I’ve got to finish a long paper, take a final, and complete some assignments this week.

But I am so grateful for so many things:

My remarkable daughter, who had a horrible morning today. I think the reality of schlepping off to school everyday finally hit her, poor kid.

The fact that I am four days away from finishing my Bachelor’s degree. I’ve been wanting this and working on this for far too long. Yay me.

That I am home now in Colorado, living in such a beautiful, healthy, peaceful environment. We walked in the greenbelt last evening and I just drank it in.

Where I am in my life now: I am healthy, I am whole, I am happy with myself and what I’m doing. In the words of the old song lyric – “I ain’t hiding from nobody, nobody’s hiding from me.” Things are good.

Monday, August 24, 2009

School Begins!

I am not the typical parent of a new Kindergartener. (While my kid was in preschool, I had ample opportunity to scope out the parents of the other kids, and I definitely look like my kid’s grandma.) *sigh*
I also don’t have previous experience with the whole “back to school” thing – except my own, which doesn’t count. So cut to me standing in the store on Friday afternoon with my list in hand, finally buying the School Supplies. I actually got chastised by the pharmacist at Target when I asked where the hand sanitizer was being hidden. Yeah, I know I waited til the last minute. Thanks! And yes, the hand sanitizer stock had been seriously depleted. Who knew?
Back in the dawn of time, when I was a Kindergartener, our “school supplies” consisted of bringing in an old button down shirt of our dad’s for wearing (backwards) during painting time. I was mildly shocked to see that I was being required to provide (exact duplication of list):

2 bottles Elmer’s white all-purpose glue (4 oz. – not school glue)
10 glue sticks
2 boxes crayons (24 ct. regular – not fat size)
1 box Kleenex
10 #2 yellow pencils (sharpened – not fat)
1 backpack
1 box magic markers – broad tip
1 container baby wipes
1 container hand sanitizer
3 Pee-chee folders (horizontal pockets) (Label with name)
1 pair Fiskar scissors – students size
Boys: 1 box gallon size plastic bags
Girls: 1 box quart size plastic bags
2 glue sticks (Art)

I have some issues with this list. For instance, since all the supplies except the backpack and the folders went into the collective bins, why are the “art” glue sticks separately listed? I had no idea pencils now came optionally pre-sharpened. What IS the difference between regular white glue and “school glue”? And what I really need an answer to, is what is up with the difference in the size of the plastic bags for boys and girls? This has just made my imagination run wild.

Nevertheless, I dutifully filled my paper grocery bag (full) of the listed items, and showed up as directed with my child and my bag to the Open House on Friday night. There we met her teacher and were given a pink sheet of paper with cute instructions as to where we were to put the stuff. Each couple of items had a little nursery rhyme describing a different area of the classroom so that the kids could get an idea of what everything was. It was kind of fun for M and I to find each area and for her to put something from our bag into the different bins.
I noticed, however, that there were other families that were having various reactions to the instructions. A few showed up without supplies (y’know, you’re supposed to READ all those handouts they give you). Some must have thought this was going to be a big social thing, and brought the Whole Fam Damnly, causing Grandma and Grandpa to have to keep moving out of the doorway. The room isn’t THAT big, people! But the ones who really tugged at my heartstrings was the one group I observed who were really struggling with the list and the instructions. It was an extended family group, and they all spoke English, but with a decided lack of familiarity with some of the things or the names of the things on the list. So with each part of the instructions, they had a little conference about what should go where. The baby wipes and hand sanitizer really tripped them up.
Her teacher is like a movie version of a Kindergarten teacher; young, pretty, still enthusiastic and upbeat. I love it. We got up this morning and M had a little anxiety about her wardrobe choice, so she switched, and I successfully did NOT tell her what to wear, except I strongly suggested socks with her shoes. She was too excited to eat much. We showed up with plenty of time to spare, she got in line with her backpack and received her name badge, and stood there grinning until the bell rang and they filed in. I am so proud of her.

UPDATE: I found out what the different size bags are all about, and I confess I'm disappointed. I cornered M's teacher this morning (nicely, of course) and told her I needed to know. She said that "they need to have a supply of different sizes and dividing them up that way ensures that they get enough of each size." Hmph. I was hoping for something more inventive...

Friday, August 21, 2009

You can't trace time

As I’ve been unpacking boxes and sorting through my possessions, it has struck me how much changes. I used to collect things, now I shy away from accumulating too much stuff. At some point, I was very fond of marble. I have quite a few marble objects that – while I still think are interesting – I know that today I would not purchase and bring home. I was also quite fond of oak, and the fashion world has moved on from that particular trend (several years ago, actually, but I haven’t shopped in a while). I have been out in the stores in the past weeks, and noted how dark the furniture is right now. I know that there are people who, from time to time, completely redecorate their homes. I have not been one of those people, mainly because I could never afford to be. In the early years, I had mostly castoff furniture, and remember my assorted second-hand (third? fifth?) couches. I was proud when I could finally afford to buy stuff on my own, and I used to buy things at the used furniture stores and refinish them.

I had an interesting little chat with a guy at a furniture store yesterday. It was midmorning, and the store was empty, and he shared with me some anecdotes about their merchandise. The last time I’d been in that particular store, it looked completely different. But that was when the economy was doing well and people were expanding, buying bigger and bigger houses, and filling those houses with big pieces of furniture. We talked about downsizing, and then he said he would like to move into a smaller place himself, but he didn’t know what he’d do with all of the stuff in his basement.

It is comments like that, and watching shows like Clean House, that really motivate me to pare down as I sift through my boxes and evaluate the worthiness of many of my things. It is so easy to collect lots of things. And then we attach feelings to those things and we feel obligated to hold on to them. I have found myself really struggling with whether to keep several objects, that when I was honest with myself, I no longer needed, and had never really been all that fond of in the first place, and yet I felt guilty at the thought of putting them aside. Some of them were from family members. Some were from times that were highly charged emotionally. The common thread that ran through them all was that they no longer fit with who I am and where I am now.
I think it is good to periodically sort through our lives and weigh what is working and what isn’t, what fits and what doesn’t, and what has outlived its usefulness. Change happens. I don’t want to be stuck in the past, or buried under the weight of it, either.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Green Boogers

One of the most fun things about living with a little kid is their frank way of talking. If you have a tender ego, you won’t last long. But they are brutally honest, which you don’t get – generally – from your friends. This can come in handy when you want to know whether you look the way you imagine you do. For instance, getting ready for my dinner downtown last weekend, my daughter just looked at me for a minute... then said I didn’t look like myself. (I was wearing makeup!) It took longer for her to tell me I looked nice. :)

Anyway, this week I’ve had a miserable cold. It kicked in exactly at the same time I got M enrolled in SAE. I had hoped to use the time to pound out my classwork (I have two weeks left) but instead I have been walking around with a head that feels full of cement. I took my midterm just hoping I would pass, and my paper, I am sure, was not my best work.

I still have horrible green boogers, and M has politely told me so, and that I look terrible. I am plodding along with my homework and putting things away. I’m really glad M hasn’t gotten this cold yet, and after her illness at the beach, I’m not up to her being sick again so soon! It’s a gorgeous day outside today... we’ll see how it goes.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Keep the checkbook out

One of my favorite quotes from a Clint Eastwood film is “a man’s gotta know his limitations.” Never more than in these past few weeks has this lesson come home for me. I thought it would be nice to let M stay home this summer while we went through our Big Move. It sounded good on paper...

We had our Beach Vacation, during which she was really sick.

We had our Yosemite camping trip, during which we had to endure my parents imposing their opinions and preferences on to EVERYTHING we did.

We had the three weeks of being “stuff-less” and living basically out of a suitcase and sleeping on an airbed. (I don’t recommend it.)

And then my class started, and I was trying to find stuff in boxes, unpack our things, remember where I put something, get the installations scheduled and completed, and also get her registered for kindergarten, establish us in our new place, and keep her entertained while at the same time contemplate things like differential thresholds.

I think I hit my personal wall. So, two weeks before kindergarten starts, I got her into SAE, or School Age Enrichment, otherwise known as daycare for school age kids. I had to pay not only the school year enrollment fee, but also the summer enrollment fee, even though there are technically only five days of the summer program left before it switches over to the school year program, as well as the weekly cost. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Today she woke up excited and eager to go, and we arrived at her new school with her Water Day tote bag and her lunchbox in tow. We walked into the cafeteria to a sea of little kids in matching tee shirts for their excursion. Within minutes, M was also wearing one of the shirts, sitting crosslegged on the floor with a bunch of little girls, telling them about herself.

The fact that the program is onsite at the elementary school is a big deal to me. It is literally 3 minutes from our home. In California, I was driving 19 miles one way to daycare, then another 15 miles to work, which took about an hour in the morning and about an hour and a half in the afternoon. On the freeway. 66 miles a day, everyday, day after day, and it really wore me down. One of the most attractive things about being here is the way that the Denver Metro Area is laid out. The transportation situation is night and day.
Anyway, she waved goodbye to me this morning and I came back to a quiet townhouse, ready to tackle the reading and writing I have to do this week. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to save some money so that I can do this. I already feel the pressure lifting off of my shoulders.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dinner Downtown

Last night, M and I had the pleasure of meeting and having dinner with Frank! He brought his friend Brian, who was also a good sport. It was fun to meet and talk to Frank, and I enjoyed our dinner.

My little angel was seriously sleep deprived and antsy during the entire evening. When we had (another) thunderstorm with hail yesterday afternoon, which prevented her from napping, I was concerned about how she would deal with a new place, strangers, and being up late... but I didn’t want to cancel on Frank, and I was really looking forward to an adult dinner with other adults. (Thank you, Frank, for being so gracious and nice)

It made me acutely aware, however, of how intense the past few weeks have been with M and me. For most of the time we’ve been here, we’ve been spending all of our time in each other’s (and ONLY each other’s) company. And under rather strenuous circumstances, too: no real bed, no furniture, new place, no routine, lots of chaos, etc.) She’s been really pretty good about the whole thing, but I have not done as well.

Last night, I was a little embarrassed at myself for being so bad at multi-tasking. I really usually pay better attention to my child, and yet I was so hungry to talk to another grownup and do something like I used to do before the nightmare of the last four years happened, that I know I was essentially ignoring her. And I felt bad about that. She was behaving like a typical five year old, tapping, talking nonstop, whining, etc., which is funny, because she is normally doesn’t do that, and I wasn’t missing the irony.
After the dinner, she and I walked along the 16th Street Mall for a little while, and she was delighted with the sights and sounds. We rode the shuttle for a few blocks because she really wanted to, and she talked to the weird guy on the shuttle without hesitation, which made him smile, and she tipped her head back and stared up at the tall buildings and declared that they were “a hundred miles up.” On the way home in the car, she looked out at all the twinkly lights and sighed and said “just like Paris!” (which I believe is her highest compliment, notwithstanding neither of us has ever been)
I really love my kid, and sometimes I feel a little sorry for her that I’m her mom and she’s stuck with me. But school will start in a few more weeks and then she’ll get to be around kids again and things will be better. For both of us.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Well, the good news is that the fucking packing tape adhesive is coming off of my oak desk with liberal amounts of lemon oil and muscle.
The bad news is that the fucking packing tape adhesive is TENACIOUS and requires LIBERAL amounts of lemon oil and MUSCLE. When I finally broke down and began to attempt its removal, I had to enlist wine and Seinfeld episodes (yes, plural. thank you late night tv) and it was still not all off by the time I had to stop because I was exhausted. I will have to attack it again – and the rest of my furniture) soon, but then I realized that I was COMPLETELY BEHIND on my homework for my last class and had to drop everything and get BUSY.

Yes, I am the kharmic magnet of fucking delays and screw-ups! My advisor at the University informed me not too long ago (when I was trying to find out why my graduation application was not going through as expected) that she was “very sorry but there had been an error” and I was one elective credit short.

So, amid the lovely decor of massed cardboard boxes and partially unpacked crap, I was feverishly trying to read from my textbook while M watches Noggin.

I can NOT find the remote for the other TV, so she could (theoretically) watch Noggin upstairs, and yes, I’ve tried. Yeesh.

On the plus side, I finally got the kitchen put together to the point that I was able to make dinner last night that was an actual, real meal and not some cobbled together excuse for one (NTTAWWT).
We sat down at a table and ate together. It was very nice. and yummy. Damn, I missed my own cooking! Four years without real “kitchen privileges” was HARD on my sensibilities AND my “bottom line.” (double entendre intended)

On the down side, I still have the bedrooms and bathroom and garage and my “office” stuff to deal with. Good grief, there is crap everywhere.

I swear on my mother’s grave (ok, she’s not dead yet, but still) that I got rid of fully 2/3 of my belongings four years ago when I left Colorado. (not to mention the house that I loved) WHERE – HOW – did this stuff materialize? Is that what happens in storage units? grrrr...

Ok, that’s enough for now. I have something fun to look forward to happening tonight (!) and still a LOT to do today.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


The moving truck, after multiple delays, finally arrived yesterday! Sadly, there was a lot of damage, and the moving company’s inexperienced movers wrapped a great deal of packing tape around most of my furniture, including nearly every wood piece, and it has marred or taken off the finish on many of them. My coffee table bit the dust, as did almost every cheaper piece of shelving or storage piece. Several of my lighter items were damaged beyond repair.
The good news is that my grandmother’s hutch, which I have “owned” for many years but until now, never had in my own home, arrived without a scratch. My massive oak desk, which is dominating my new little living room, has some surface damage but otherwise is okay. My beautiful upholstered chairs are fine, and very few of my dishes and such suffered any loss. My pictures all made it intact. My electronics are unhurt.

M is explaining to her grandma that she's still waiting for the movers to unload her chairs.
I am feeling quite overwhelmed by all of it. I’ve been attacking the boxes furiously since yesterday, because I know that I won’t be able to rest until there is some semblance of order – and a clear path to walk through. I have had most of the belongings that I kept when I left Colorado four years ago in storage all this time, and seeing my stuff has been weird; knowing how much I got rid of, I can’t believe what I kept. No one needs as much barware as I apparently at one time thought I needed. I have a box for Goodwill started already, which began with a couple of flowered china serving bowls that I think my mother must have given me at some point, from the collected remnants of relatives. They are awful – I didn’t remember having them in my possession.

It is strange how filthy cardboard boxes get, and how much packing material I am throwing away. One bathroom item exploded and got all over a lot of other things, despite how well it was wrapped. Fortunately, it smells better than just about anything I’ve ever bought, so if I have to keep discovering its residue, at least it’s not unpleasant. Putting my desk back together by myself was hard. My back is screaming, and I didn’t sleep well last night, despite my body’s desperate gratitude at finally being in my own bed again. I have yet to tackle my clothes or my papers, and I am a little daunted by all the infinitesimal decisions.

We’ve been camping out in this townhouse for two weeks, and I am deliriously happy to be through with that. Lots of little things are occurring to me as I unpack, and I will have more to say, but I wanted to put this out there before I get any farther along.

It feels bizarre to be touching every single thing I own in a systematic way. The past several years have been so busy and stressful, and now I have done a complete one-eighty and am contemplating each movement. My head is swimming with thoughts.