Thursday, November 11, 2010

The importance of being cozy

Dash's favorite word, above all others at the moment, is COZY. He likes to be cozy, wear cozy clothes, and have fluffy, cozy stuffed animals with names like "puffy," "furry," and "fuzzy" around him. When he's "cozy," he becomes an adorable caricature of a happy little boy. He curls up into a ball, a sweet smile shows up on his face (pictured above), he might start bouncing around a bit, and emits giggles or what seems to him to be happy-baby noises, i.e., "hoo-hoo, hee-hee, aaaaah!"

If his big sister Rosie is nearby, this cozy activity will jump-start her maternal and dramatic instincts. She rushes over, announces, "Oh, what a cute little baby!" and gives him hugs or pretends to rock him to sleep; she might stage a baby-feeding session or cover him with more blankets or toys. Clearly, this is the type of attention he's looking for! They both soak it up and symbiotically enjoy the baby-play.

At five years old and a few days scant of eight, this is all pretend play, of course. Rosie has quite the flair for improvisational drama while Dash loves to channel memories of being a baby. Some days, I'll find him in a melancholy, nostalgic mood, pining for his "baby things." When I try to pin him down on what baby thing he misses, he won't really be able to specifically say. He just knows that he had "baby things" and that we gave them away. I'm pretty sure what he's missing is the Nuk. He was awfully attached to it, and while we weaned him off two years ago, he probably has retained faded memories of something he once had that made him feel comforted.

For now, he'll just have to stick with cozy.

I dreamt about a puppy last night

In my dream, I was already in a pet store (or the breeder's home?) and had the puppy in my arms. The puppy had soft ginger and white fur with a freckled nose, and the breed name "Springer Spaniel" popped into my head. I was having a conversation with the owner that, in my memory of it, was a little muddled—probably about the health and personality of the dog—but in my dream-heart, I was already in love and was bringing it home.

For some reason, while I was standing there still holding the puppy and thinking about how much fun it would have in my fenced back yard and with my kids, someone started closing up shop, turning the lights out on me. I started yelling out questions like, "Wait! Do I need a crate for this dog? Can I get some puppy food?" and was answered, "No, this breed doesn't need to be crated. And, we're closed. Go to PetSmart for your supplies."

As I was walking out the door (and becoming more awake) reality was striking me. I owned a dog! I was going to put a dog in my car! I was going to take a dog home to Monkeyrotica, who doesn't want a dog. Where was the dog going to sleep? Would the dog get along with my parrot? Would it try to eat my parrot? Around this time, I woke up.

But the memory of a soft, warm, lovely, playful puppy remained with me through the morning.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Portrait of Weegee

I just found this photo of our pet parrot floating in my camera's photo archive. Rosie must have taken it, as Weegee looks totally comfortable; he has the opposite reaction with the boys. Nice lighting and expression!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

I think I'll need a clone come November 13th.

(Stricken text taken from Leonard's tattoos in the 2000 movie Memento.)

Never answer the phone. How will I keep track of all this?

Fact 1. Male. November 13th is Rosie's 8th birthday. She has invited a select group of her friends, mostly from her 2nd-grade classroom, to go ice skating (thankfully, outside the home).

Fact 2. White. The ice skating party falls squarely over the lunch hour, so I'll be catering lunch as well as cake for the party. Solution: Pizza delivery services will help with this one, and I've asked a party guest's parent to make the cake.

Fact 3. First Name: John or James. Dash's karate class and his dance class will both be overlapped by the birthday party. Solution: We will do a make-up class later on for karate and a parent of one of Dash's playmates will deliver him to dance; Monkeyrotica will pick Dash up.

Fact 4. Last Name G___. Monkeyrotica has a dental appointment that overlaps Dash's karate and the beginning of Rosalie's party. Um, yep. And I scheduled it, I sure did.

Fact 5. Drug Dealer. Monkeyrotica's birthday is tomorrow (if you read my blog and you feel like it, wish him a happy day on 11/5!) and we are ALSO having a party for him (with his select guests) later in the afternoon on November 13th (yeah! two parties on the same day!!). Monkey will be prepping barbecue for it starting the night before, before and after the dental appointment, and all the way up till his party. I'll drop Dash off at his playmate's house and head to Rosie's party after he leaves for the dentist and will be back to help two hours before it starts.

Fact 6. Car License Number SG137IU. Um, I think I need to take Friday, Nov. 12th off! I'll be delivering birthday cupcakes to Rosie's classroom that afternoon and will very likely need the whole day to get the house ready and obtain supplies for the weekend.

I'm disciplined and organized. I use habit and routine to make my life possible. Between now and then, I'm planning to unpack the basement, make Rosie and Dash each a Totoro doll (already started), and maintain the entire house in a presentable state for guests. I keep telling myself:

"I can fit it all in! Of course, it'll all work out in the end and everyone will have a great time."

I'll be repeating that mantra in my head all the way until 11/14.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

On my way to the polling place...

I voted yesterday afternoon, at the third polling place I'd visited in the day. No, I wasn't confused or lost, but it was a little irritating that you can't vote at the place that's closest or most convenient to you. We must vote at the polling place that has been arbitrarily assigned to residents based on some arcane boundary system. Whatever.

When I dropped the kids off at SACC (which was all-day, due to the school closures for teacher conferences and voting), I hit the first polling place. I actually asked the elections officials there if I could get my vote in while I was there and was denied (irk!). A few hours later, I had a mid-morning teacher conference concerning Rosie's progress at the second polling place. As I entered, a couple of cheerful leafleters attempted to press their documents into my hands, but I had to convince them that I was not there to vote. Although the conferences were running behind schedule and I had about 45 minutes to kill, I didn't bother checking if I could get my vote at this location—those elections people are pretty hardcore.

The conference itself was glowing as always with Mrs. Clark (she LURVES Rosie with all her heart). Mrs. Clark told me things I'd heard before, such as Rosie is a unique thinker, not cookie-cutter, takes projects in directions none of the other kids think of; she blew all the other kids out of the way on her spelling placement test at the beginning of the year, placing into 3rd or 4th grade level words (e.g., she spelled alliteration correctly!); and is one of the best class artists along with her friend Janna. The only negatives she received were with math and organization skills along with a negative-positive comment that Rosie has really blossomed socially with her peers to the point that she's too chummy and chatty, getting distracted by the socializing.

That afternoon, I almost considered not voting just out of irritation with being thwarted twice, but then couched going to vote a different way in my mind. I hadn't had any exercise yet, so I would bike to the polling place! It was really just three miles round trip, so nothing much really, but upon arrival at the middle school's polling place (third of the day!), I was surprised by something. There were absolutely no, none, zilch, nada bike racks there. I circumnavigated the entire school grounds and baseball field and found not a one. When I asked the group standing outside the voting entrance where the racks were, they were confused. One girl who attended the school informed me that there were no racks because the middle schoolers WERE NOT ALLOWED TO WALK OR RIDE THEIR BIKES TO SCHOOL.

I was astounded. This just went to another level of annoyance with me. The reason for this, I was told, was that the wide-but-only two lane road outside the school was deemed "too busy." There were sidewalks and bike paths leading up to the school—I had just ridden on or by them. The road itself was very wide, plenty of room for cyclists. What on earth? Are they concerned that the buses would run the biking children down? I'm sorry, but no wonder our kids are so unhealthy. They must be driven everywhere, have so much homework that they can't do after school activities, and probably have trouble with maintaining endurance during the activities they do choose. I've googled information for this school and can't find anything prohibiting walking/biking online. Thankfully, my kids won't be attending this school (and I am planning to allow them to walk or bike), but I'm hoping that someone is willing to be an activist to do something to get the school to change this policy. There should be a way to make the area "safer" if that is the concern? Crazy.

And also, I voted.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Ouija boards: paranormal or group-think?

Okay, this isn't really going to be a philosophical/academic discussion of Ouija boards complete with expert references, bibliography, or any such thing. Just personal anecdotes, and my usual half-assed conclusions (feel free to add your own thoughts/links/stories in the comments!). I hadn't thought about the Ouija game in a very long time, honestly; but the Halloween spirit and friends' recent tweets about "soulmates" got me remembering playing it as a youngster.

In case you avoided the entire Ouija experience, here is how Wikipedia describes the game:
A Ouija board (possibly from the French and German words for "yes", oui and ja,[1] and usually pronounced /ˈwiːdʒiː/ in English), also known as a spirit board or talking board, is a flat board marked with letters, numbers, and other symbols, supposedly used to communicate with any spirits. It uses a planchette (small heart-shaped piece of wood) or movable indicator to indicate the spirit's message by spelling it out on the board during a séance. The fingers of the séance participants are placed on the planchette, which then moves about the board to spell out words or become physically manifest.

It was the 70s, and against her better judgment, I'm certain, my mom bought my sister and me a Ouija board. I recall relentless begging leading up to the purchase as well as personally logging many hours in the "occult" area of the Young Adult section of our local library. I wanted to know if ghosts could talk to me. I'd dutifully try to clear my mind before playing and will the spirits to come, to tell us what they knew from beyond. We'd play with friends down in our low-lit basement, asking questions of the "spirits" such as how they died, what their names were, and where they were buried. We would ask about our own futures to see if they knew what might happen in our own lives. I recall getting very creeped out, with thrilling goosebumps and chills if one of us was told that she would die young or some such thing. Sometimes, I was convinced that the spirits were pretty self-centered, only wanted to talk about themselves, refusing to answer our queries. At a family gathering, we mentioned to an extremely superstitious aunt (or very in tune with ghosts—family legend is that her house was terrifyingly haunted) that we had the game, she told us to "Never, ever touch it again! Take it and burn it when you get home! It will bring the devil to find you."

Over time, however, it seemed more likely that my strong-willed buddies were just moving the "planchette" (I never called it that, but see above) to wherever they wanted it to go, fulfilling their questions with answers they wanted. During one later game when my friends and I were getting boy-crazy, we were all asking questions about the name of who we would eventually marry. My friends were coming up with nice sounding, common guys' names, like Steve or Mark or Michael. I was hoping for a similar fortune when my turn came. Instead, the planchette kept hitting letters that didn't make any sense together, all kinds of vowels and just one consonant. It didn't look like any name I'd heard before! I gave up on the Ouija board after that. Stupid thing. Couldn't even give me a straight answer, like it had given my friends. The game languished in a closet after that, probably sold in a yard sale.

On to the soulmates part: What was the name that the spirits had come up with for my husband to be? I don't recall clearly, as a few decades have passed, but I think the letters went something like:

(Y) (A) (K) (Y) (I) (U) (O)

Damned ghosts couldn't spell. My darling husband's name is Akio.
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