Sunday, November 29, 2009

Staying Entertained

My daughter never stops talking. Or singing. In this moment, she informed me, she is Angiella, the movie star. (I’d have said Drama Queen, but she wouldn’t appreciate that.)

We’ve had a (long) interesting week. We haven’t gotten outside nearly as much as I wanted, due to stubborn refusal on her part. I hate to make everything into a fight, so I’ve read and watched movies. I saw Angels & Demons, which I liked. (Tom Hanks had better hair in this one) I explored the free offerings of my tv service. I finished several books. Yesterday, bored out of my skull, we went to Belmar to see a movie in a theater. This isn’t something we do very often, since most of the dreck that passes for children’s movies hardly warrants shelling out $15, and a lot of the kids’ movies have elements that she finds scary.

It was cold yesterday, so I debated whether to head out, but cabin fever won. Belmar is fairly new and one of those modern efforts that I approve of in concept: a walkable outdoor shopping area mixed with housing and other multi-use facilities, so that if you lived in one of the apartments or lofts , you could conceivably do so without needing to drive. Yesterday they had the iceskating rink at capacity, and we watched that as long as we could, but it was really bloody cold for idle spectating. I have yet to happen to be over there when it’s been nice out, as I usually don’t think of heading to “the mall” – even a reimagined one – on a beautiful day. But every time I’ve been there since we moved back, I’ve thought that I really wanted to come back when the weather was nicer and explore.

When we got to the theater, M changed her mind to icecream for her treat, rather than popcorn. The bored, slow-moving young women behind the counter seemed to think our request for service was barely tolerable, but the very fat black one offered to scoop the icecream. Unfortunately, her intentions were not matched by skill or savvy. She struggled to fill a scoop with what I could see was properly softened ice cream. The problem was that she thought she should get it all in one pass, so she mashed a blob of the pink peppermint glop for a few minutes before she managed to get an enormous ball of it into the small paper cup, creating an over-flowing, messy and unwieldy arrangement that she proudly thrust at us across the counter. I find it painful to watch someone go through something like this, especially as I've worked in food service and so many things are going through my mind, like the pathetic lack of training any of these jobs offer.  As the movie was due to begin, I didn’t want to take up a lot of time trying to get a more appropriate serving, which I suspected would be difficult and quite possibly futile. So I grabbed a big handful of paper napkins, wrapped the mess in some of them and kept the rest for cleanup, and we headed for the hallway to find our theater.

We found good seats, and I was glad to see that we’d gotten in early enough that the lights were still on, and yet missed the advertising portion of the pre-movie blitz, and only had to endure the (incredibly loud) previews. I got M settled with her dripping disaster, and we watched Fantastic Mr. Fox. Not being familiar with the book, I was a little surprised by the style of the film – stop-motion animation – and was rather distracted by it. I also didn’t really like the story very much. I found it interesting that George Clooney – whom normally I would watch/listen to with great enjoyment – seemed to be doing a parody of himself. Meryl Streep seemed to be wasted in her role. So I spent the movie trying to contain the icecream mess and comforting M during the few “scary parts.”

Afterward we both really wanted to walk around Belmar, and I seriously thought about how nice it would be to sit in the sun at one of the little restaurant outdoor patios, but it was just too cold, and we wimped out and headed back to the car.   Of course, today was much warmer, so we walked in the greenbelt.    Tomorrow is a school day. Yay!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I'm going to need naps...

I'm not a Martha Stewart-style mom.  I don't plan ahead lots of educational, creative, and labor intensive activities for my child.  I don't spend hours scouring catalogs and websites for handcrafted wooden retro toys or elaborate million-pieced kits we can assemble together.  I never bought one single Baby Einstein CD.

I read to my daughter.  I take her walking and hiking with me.  I take her on vacations with me.  We cook together.  I buy the good crayons, a variety of papers to work with, and her watercolor paints are the real deal.  Basically, I include her in the stuff I like to do.  When it comes to play - real Fischer-Price kind of play - I provide her the stuff and the space and then she's kind of on her own.
It bores me silly to sit on the floor and be "directed" by a young kid, told what to say, and what I'm supposed to do with the toys.  She has been in daycare and preschool and now kindergarten, all her life, surrounded and supported by the best, most enthusiastic and warm, caring, involved caregivers I could find.  Because I not only know what I'm not great at, I also know that I don't have to personally provide everything she needs, even if it is my responsibility to coordinate it.

Our school district is taking this coming week off.  We are going to be together 24/7 until the 30th.  I am already tired just thinking about it.  I really, really hope the weather is mild, because I am going to need to get out of the house a lot.  There are a few places I would like to explore.  I don't like crowds and I am adverse to being bombarded with Christmas music and over the top decorations, so shopping will be minimal, and there's nothing we really need.
I would love to haunt the museums and galleries, but with the whole district off, I'm sure these will be crowded. 

It will be great to shut off the alarm for a week.  Neither of us is good in the morning, and I won't miss peeling the mattress off her back.  But the Daily Show is also taking the week off, and I can't help but feel rather abandoned.  My needs are simple and few; is it so wrong to expect a little backup?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes

We have a saying in Colorado: If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes.  While it doesn't change THAT rapidly, it does change pretty fast.  Which is actually something I really like about this area; there are definite seasons, there is drama and beauty in the natural environment, and it isn't boring. 
I had been watching the forecast, so I knew this storm was coming, and so yesterday - Saturday - M and I geared up and went for a walk in the greenbelt.  It was getting colder and at only about 1 pm it was already getting dark with the cloudcover.  While we were out it started to snow, but I got these pictures first:

One of several bridges that cross the creek that names our greenbelt.  Some of the prairie dogs were scurrying about, no doubt stocking their pantries before getting snowed in.

This morning, it looks like this outside:

By later in the week, it is supposed to be back in the mid 50s, clear and sunny again.  I love Colorado!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Our brains have a certain affinity for patterns; some more than others. My brain really likes symmetry and right angles, balance, and proportion. Unfortunately, somehow that led to a tolerance for behaviors that were unacceptable, only because they fit a pattern. I have suffered for that adaptability to pattern.

In my still-new kitchen, I keep reaching for a drawer that isn’t there – I am so conditioned to expect the silverware drawer to be opposite the wall that my brain just goes there. For almost twenty years, the drawers were in the same place, and now – after four years of not cooking and not spending much time in a kitchen at all – I keep turning around and reaching for something that only exists in memory. It is kind of frustrating. Because these simple daily tasks are done in such an automatic way; we don’t really think about making coffee or needing a spoon, and so it isn’t thought out – it just fires on its own. And I’m misfiring all over the place.

I’ve been looking for a job. That challenges the patterns all over again. What led me to this job or that in the past? Didn’t it have a lot to do with what was going on in the world or the community at the time? I remember job hunting before and after 9/11. The “Tech Bubble” had just burst, and then the business community was in the midst of such turmoil. I took a job that represented a 50% pay cut, but was relieved to get it. Now, I am trying to explain that “career decision” in interviews. I am used to being put to use where ever and how ever I am needed. I see what needs to be done and I do it. I am great in an emergency – I have a guaranteed seat in a lifeboat. I kick into high gear and I get a job done. I have fabulous first aid skills and I don’t cry or freak out until it is all over.

It is only after the smoke has cleared that I can begin to consider whether this was a situation that I wanted to be in. I have been on this planet almost a half century and I find that I have spent an inordinate amount of that time cleaning up after other people’s messes. I have a pattern of coming on to a new job while they are in the throws of some major upheaval, or takeover, or crisis. They need someone who can think on their feet, be “self motivated”, and endure trial by fire.

I don’t think I ever signed up to be that girl. It just happened. And frankly, I’m getting quite tired of it. It means that I never get any mentoring or training. I don’t get to contemplate my direction. I haven’t had the luxury of finding where my true aptitude lies. Other than triage.

I am feeling like I want to stop being so malleable and maybe be more open to what suits me instead of what I can do for them. Because I know first hand that a lot of people really like being taken care of. And it is high time I knew what that felt like, too.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Office Space

My fantastic bloggy friend, Bev, shamed me into encouraged us showing off where we do our blogging.  I am actually getting ready for my first job interviews since I started jobhunting, but Bev is persuasive, and this is al lot more fun than practicing interview questions!
I posted pictures of my old cubicle before I left California, here.  But this is my own desk at home.

I love this desk, and have sacrificed part of my tiny livingroom in order to keep it.  I type better on a full-sized keyboard, and I am more comfortable, ergonomically, sitting at a desk than - say, on a laptop. 
This pencil holder is from at least the early 80s.  I think the sentiment it expresses still works.

I would hate to lose it, even though I've seen far nicer pen holders in office supply stores and have considered replacing it. 

So there ya go.  Perhaps I'll have a new office-y space soon!  I have two interviews this week, so at least the fish are nibbling!  That in itself makes me feel better than just sending resumes off into the ether and feeling isolated and alone.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

And what a week it was...!

Wow; what a week! M had such a good time, and I really enjoyed watching her have so much fun. I’m a little worn out, though. My capacity for crowds and strangers was kind of stretched.
Wednesday we woke up to a major snowstorm, and the early school cancelation call (at 5:30 am) made me so tired for the rest of that day. I realize they need to get the word out, but that early? Really? But that meant I didn’t have to peel the mattress off of M’s back that morning, even if going back to sleep myself didn’t happen. Instead, once she woke up and digested the news that she was staying home, she was eager to do her best imitation of an REI or LLBean product tester! We got her kitted out in her snow pants, new boots, turtleneck, fleece, and mittens, and then she was outside merrily playing in the falling snow. The snow continued into Thursday, and so M got 2 snow days. She was out playing in it as much as she could, despite the temps in the 20s.

Colorado means the weather can – and does – change dramatically and without warning, and by Friday the sun was back out and the snow began to melt from the roads and sidewalks. She had a party at school, which I got to attend, and it began with the kids having a parade through the school to show off their costumes, followed by a party in their classroom. A lot of effort went into it, and it was nice to see.

That evening we went to a party at my friend A’s house, and had a good time. Although their daughter was not there, another little girl showed up, and so I got to stay longer than I had thought. That was fun – I enjoyed talking to the smart, funny women that tend to collect at A’s home. I wish I still lived close by, but am glad I’m still on their invitation list.

Saturday was Halloween, so we answered the door to some trick or treaters before going out ourselves. This is one of those “sucks to be a single parent” moments – trying to be supremely organized so that we were both in our costumes and ready by sunset, answer the door and participate in the neighborhood fun, and still be able to go out trick or treating.

Oh, and then drive over to K’s house so that we could then drive to another party, where M and her son got to go out and trick or treat some more. M was in heaven. I was in someone’s home faced with a roomful of people I don’t know – not my favorite thing. But they were nice, the food was great, and at last it was time to go. Except that now K needed a ride downtown as someone else cancelled on her, so we agreed that I’d drop her and take both kidlets back to my place for a sleepover. By the time we ended back at Casa Mountain, both kids were asleep in the car and could barely climb the stairs to M’s room. It took about 4 seconds to get them into bed.

Sunday morning was nice; I was up before the kids, made some coffee and had a quiet moment before they woke up, and then they cooperatively chose a movie to watch while I made breakfast and baked a coffee cake for the Bronco party. I was so pleased that they were being so good and getting along! By the time we showed up at Bronco Central, I was already “done,” but hung out mainlining coffee until the end of the game (which ended badly, btw). M was mad at me that we left before she was ready to go, but the Bronco party was more heavily attended than usual, it was hot and I was wearing a sweater (it was sunny and warm outside) and I was exhausted. When I saw that one of the little boys had tracked in dog shit, I’d reached my limit and knew it was time to go.

I still need to take down some decorations, but the time change always kicks my butt a little bit. That outdated ritual – which I think it’s high time we abandoned – seems to signal the beginning of the Holiday Season. Already there are Christmas ads beginning to appear. Good grief! One holiday at a time, people! I have to get through Thanksgiving first.