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Archive for August, 2010

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Update on Rock Paper Scissors:

When rock paper scissoring for who was going to run Moose down for his final emptying last night (or, as we like to call it, “Checking the Perimeter”) (What? I live with two Germans), we went five rounds of us each throwing rock before I was finally felled by him throwing paper. I quickly pulled up my blog to show him the irrefutable logic of the paper-winning fallacy, and I was RESOUNDINGLY shut down.

It would appear that paper beating rock is as hard and fast a rule as calling shotgun. It’s also possibly that theBoss Lebowski‘d the situation, declaring: “This isn’t ‘Nam, man: There are rules

***

In other news, it’s the Boss’s birthday today. Fittingly, this was the cartoon at xkcd.com:

We get busy. Stressed out. We snap and grumble. But some days we do get it just right, and we help each other leave the world behind.

Happy  birthday, Baby.

(In case you were curious: I did NOT get him a geeky present like last year’s label maker. No siree. This year, he got coasters.

REALLY NICE coasters. So there.)

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Rock, Paper, Scissors

Back when @MooseTheDog was a puppy, Mike and I would play Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who had to respond to the 4am puppy whine of death.

You know the one. It’s cute. It’s pathetic. It’s the sound of your puppy about to pee on your carpet. It’ll get you out of bed quickly, except for one thing: We got Moose in January. It’s COLD out in January, and our front door is on the second floor of the building, which means that every time that dog needs to go outside, it’s all shoes and coats and leashes and it’s a THING, not just an “open the dog, out with you, DOG!” situation.

Anyway. We were equitable about this. Rock, Paper, Scissors is a totally fair way to determine who has get up and walk the dog. You can’t complain if you lose, or gloat if you win, because it’s not like you’re doing him a FAVOR by taking out the dog – you lost the game. It’s a binding ruling. It’s just the way things are, no grumbling allowed.

Of course I took this opportunity to run my own little social experiment: I wanted to see how long it would take Mike to realize I was throwing “rock” Every Single Time. (Answer: about two months, although I think it’s possible he caught on quicker than that and was just fucking with me. In fact, now that I think about that, it’s highly likely. Damnit])

ANYWAY. MY POINT: I got this in my email box today and giggled for about thirty minutes straight:

Suck it, paper. I knew rock should win everytime.

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Away We Go

I was born in Texas. When I was 5, we moved to Minnesota. My parents both claim they could not, at the time, think of a single reason anyone would ever want to move to Minnesota, but the job was a good one and they were over Texas (… I mean, I’m assuming. I was 5. I wasn’t really party to the family living discussions) and so they went.

Within six months (so the story goes) they said they’d never live Minnesota. They loved it.

I get that. Minneapolis was a great place to grow up. I know, I know, the Midwest, with the accents and the Fargo and yes, yes, I know: it’s not cool to be from the Midwest. But I loved it there, and I love going back.

Both my parents are from the East, however, and one steadfast rule they had for their kids is that we all had to leave Minnesota when we turned 18. There would be no living in the basement, doing the same things with the same people we knew in high school. We were not allowed to apply to colleges in Minnesota.  When 18 came, we were out.

This is a good way to grow up in the Midwest, I think. I always knew I’d be leaving. And I have so much family NOT from the Midwest, that we were constantly going back East, there was the element of a bigger world than the Twin Cities. It’s good perspective to have – pride in where I’m from with the knowledge of where else to go. Now that I’ve left, I find myself thinking “Is it time to go back?”

I bring this up now because theBoss and I are discussing a lot where we want to be, what type of lifestyle we want to have. We don’t see ourselves raising a family in D.C., but then it’s amazing to think of leaving a group of friends and a community that for all intents and purposes is a family.

But still. We talk about this, and we dream of our someday home in someday city. I try to remind myself that my parents fell assbackwards in a home and a place they ended up loving, and to let life take its course, but I also know that I can make clear choices, and build the type of life I want to have, purposefully, deliberately.

One thing I have always loved about D.C. is that no one is from here. With everyone being from somewhere else, the ease of making new friendships is remarkable. Everyone is new. Everyone wants to meet people. I have never been somewhere so inviting to newcomers. But then on the flip side – if no one is from here, than that may mean that no one stays here. And maybe it is our turn to be the ones that leave.

We travel. We look at places online. We ask ourselves “Is this home?” Is it a school district, or a time zone, or where your job is, or a proximity to grandparents? Is there a place on this earth that calls to you, that feels like home in a way no where else ever will?

I don’t know. But we’re trying to find out.

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Look! A Squirrel!!

I didn’t like my last post very much, so I’m going to distract you all “Look! A Squirrel!” like over to my friend* TJ’s blog, where she shows you quite possibly the funniest craigslist ad for a refridgerator I’ve ever seen.

I need her to start drafting the daily emails I have to send that would otherwise say something like “Just checking on the status of blah blah blah.” In TJ’s hands I’m sure we’d get close to 500 words of awesomeness culminating in “Send me your shit.”

*By “Friend” of course I mean “Someone I have not met, will likely never meet, and with whom I communicate almost exclusively in 140 character increments.”

We’re very close.

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I Want This One

The minute we stepped inside the door of our future house, I said “I want this one.”

My realtor asked if I wanted to look upstairs first, and I shrugged and said “Ok, but I still want this one.”

The downstairs of my house is one big room. The kitchen and living room and dining room are not separated in any way, which, for me, means that cooking is not something one person does while shoved into a separate room, a shameful “I’ll be back when these ingredients equal food” place to hide, but rather it’s an integral part of whatever we’re doing. Whoever is making dinner isn’t doing it in a vacuum; we’re all together, quite literally.

I like communal meals. I like communal cooking. I like how it structures our day.

When I walked into our house I saw our big room, and I said, “I want this one.”

****

Rex has an amazing accent.

I recognize that you cannot hear his accent through the picture, but go with me: it is an amazing accent. He is South African turned Canadian turned (almost)American, and I could listen to him talk for hours.

I could also watch him cook for hours. One of my favorite things to do is bankroll a Rex dinner because I know I’ll eat like a king. And sure enough, the result of me musing “Hmm, I wish I knew how to roast a chicken” was a few delightful hours in Eastern Market going through the farmers stalls looking for the exact right chicken, herbs, veggies and flowers for that night’s impromptu meal.

Rex spent a Saturday night talking chicken, wine, Leica cameras and the fun and inexpensive process that is American naturalization (not really).

I looked around my kitchen that night, watching my stepdaughter sous chef and chicken get roasted and wine being poured (for adults only, promise), and I thought: “I want this one”

***

My good friend and I talk often about leaving D.C. “Are we really going to stay here?” we ask. “Is it really worth the hassle?”

To be fair: last week was the wrong week to ask that question. Both our cars were broken into, she’s staring down the barrel of $3000/month of daycare and too little space in her home; my stepdaughter was stuck in the house all week while I worked because she couldn’t go outside by herself.

Oh, so many reasons to leave, to go somewhere with more space, less traffic, cheaper living. The Boss’s work situation is such that we don’t know where we’ll be living in six months. It could just as easily be here as across the country. And we love it, we do, we love the talks at night, dreaming about our life and discussing what we want it to be.

But, here we are. We have such an amazing and wonderful extended family in our friendships, and I look around us all – in my house, around the kitchen, in the park down the street, with kids and dogs falling over themselves, and I think: “I want this one.”

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I’ve been on pick up and drop off duty for my stepdaughter’s camp. 8am we leave, drive her there, I get back to my desk by about 9:15, then I leave again at 3, pick her up, and get back to work around 4:15. The days where she has a performance at lunch (performing arts camps, I tell ya), I get back at my desk at 9:15, then leave again at 12, to return at 1:30…to leave again at 3.

It interrupts the day. Of course it does. My bosses are flexible, understanding, and luckily I can work well into the evening and early in the morning to get it all done (and can – and did- take conference calls in parking lots throughout the city). It is not a problem, but it is A Thing.

But here is what I didn’t expect, about this whole motherhood (caveated as my experience is, what with her not being my kid): I did not expect to be so unconcerned about the hassle. I did not expect to be…”ok” is not the word, I guess I did not expect to be… fulfilled? by driving 50 minutes round trip to see her on stage for under 5 minutes. It’s a great 5 minutes, and her smile at seeing me having made it there in time is huge and infectious, and for as much as I felt rushed and harried and behind the work power curve that day, seeing her perform is the only thing about that random Tuesday that I actually remember.

I did not expect priorities to shift so easily.

One of my coworkers is a good friend, and I can sense he is somewhat disappointed in me, for my tearing focus away. We used to be on the same career path, and maybe we still are, but the difference now is I don’t tunnel vision my work day and stay late without question. I’m getting the work done, and yet I feel like I’m slacking, and while I don’t feel sorry, necessarily, I do feel apologetic.

Maybe my friend doesn’t notice, maybe I’m projecting my own uneasiness onto him. But I’m new at this – I half feel like a failure for wanting to go to a middle school talent show in the middle of the day – even when that was the best part of the day.

I read a twitter update the other day that said: “Whenever I see a blog post written about following your dreams, I immediately look for the single guy with no kids who wrote it.” I laughed, hard, because: I mean, yeah. But you know… I’m currently living a dream I didn’t even know I was having, and oh, how lucky I am, to be a part of this family, and how lucky I am, to have a job that lets me participate in it. And I have to say, I don’t know how real mothers do it – not the daily managing of the tasks around them, though that’s impressive, but the coming to peace with the expectations around them – expectations the world has for them, and that they have for themselves.

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Photo Of the Day

I just read an article about a man who took a picture of his day, every day, for 18 years.

You can check it out here.

I think this idea. I don’t know if I could keep it going, but it can’t hurt to try. I love looking through my flickr feed and remembering different times in my life; would be a hell of a slide show throughout life to purposefully catalog the days as they go on.

Don’t worry. I won’t make you look at them all here.

Except for this one:

8/2/2010:

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Stepmothering

One of my favorite jobs I’ve ever had was working at Barnes and Noble. If you have to work retail, this is the retail you want: you talk to people about books. All day. Your coworkers all love to read. Break rooms are scattered with books for the taking. Working 8 hour shifts on your feet is hard, but there is something about getting to spend the day in a book store that is really quite fantastic.

Relatedly, we stopped into a Barnes and Noble this weekend to pick up some summer reading books for the kiddo. Sure, sure, we could have ordered them off Amazon, a practice I abuse weekly (as much as I love a good bookstore, I just as much love having books delivered to me), but it’s fun browsing through the stacks, picking out what you want.

Anyway, at one point during our geek-jaunt, Sammy came up to me and showed me a quote from the beginning of a novel:

A stepmother is not a mother. She can help you with your homework and make dinner, but she should not be able to decide when you should go to bed

Now, we never talk about the boundaries of our stepparent/stepchild relationship. We have never had a fight surrounding how we can and cannot treat each other. She’s a great kid who follows the house rules when she’s in our house, and a great companion for all times when we’re outside a domestic parental environment; I had not yet encountered a need for a state of the step-union conversation.

Until now. She showed me that quote, and I had a little hyperventilation moment of “Oh God, now it begins, shit shit shit I’ve haven’t had time to think about formalizing this type of thing, gah” and right as I was crinkling my forehead, about to explain that, actually, I kind of think I do have a right to tell her when to go to bed, she pops out with:

“Isn’t that funny? How it assumes that you’re up late enough to see if I’m in bed or not?”

Ha. Haaaaaaaaaaa. So true.  Teenagers. I love it; I really really do.

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