Friday, October 31, 2008
I have made one bad cake in my life (a Guinness Chocolate, where somehow the baking soda clumped, creating these nasty little nuggets of bitter saltiness, though everyone else who ate it insisted it was delicious, but surely they were just being polite). My neighbor said tonight that the only desserts she likes are my cakes and I am the best baker she knows. Yet every single time I make a cake, I am convinced it is going to be a disaster.
I had lunch with my interns this week, all recent college graduates, trying to find real jobs in fields they want to enter. They pumped me for information and insight: my career trajectory, my advice, my thoughts about them and their prospects. I had lots to say, of course--by now I'm something of a professional jobseeker--but one thing I said, that I used to say, but haven't said in a while, but realized is still true, is that just about every single meaningful job I've ever had has come to me. I would say that I've had nine meaningful jobs in my adult life (along with my fair share of meaningless jobs). In seven of the nine, someone approached me (rather than me applying, or otherwise making the approach). I have been unwillingly out of work for maybe four months of my adult life. Yet I am convinced that I will never find another job, even when I am fully and gainfully employed.
I don't get this attitude--it's more than an attitude: this deepseated conviction--I really don't, and I wish I could make it go away.
(This is completely different from election anxiety which is a combination of superstition and disbelief, based on heritage [Jewish] and recent experience [2004, 2008]. The thing about these convictions, as I've just tried to show, is that not only do they have no basis in experience, but experience shows them to be completely wrong. You would think that I would be able to play my reality principle here--pretend that objective reality is correct, even when you don't believe it--but I seem to be completely incapable of doing so. I know that my life would be immeasurably improved if I could--have faith, that is--and yet, I just can't.)
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Speaking of winter, I really don't know if we're going to be able to maintain the 62 degrees thing. It's damn cold in here.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
But lately? I think I'm getting old. I'm becoming a machine o' tears. I cried when my friend told me about her friend who died. I have cried at the last two bat mitzvahs I've gone to. I even got wet eyes (yes, Dawn, I'm outing myself to the world) during Gabriella and Troy's final duet in HSM 3. I KNOW. Pathetic.
But you know when I'm pretty sure I'm going to cry, and be proud of it. When I vote for Obama. Even though I haven't been his biggest fan. Even though I don't think he's going to save the world and make us live happily ever after.
The idea that I am going to vote for a liberal Black man for president--and that he might very well win--I mean, just typing the words makes me almost start to cry.
That tells you something, though I'm not sure what (M's friend A is going to be a Pink Lady for Halloween, though she doesn't know which) (M is going as Desperately Seeking Susan-era Madonna, and E will be....Hannah Montana!) (and one of the wacky neighborhood boys is going to be Sarah Palin, which we're all looking forward to).
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Zac Efron is way past his expiration date.
Those new kids are quite funny.
I totally called the winner of the Juilliard scholarship.
The last 20 minutes--the show and graduation--totally redeem the whole thing, which up till then is completely ridiculous, though not in any kind of franchise-divergent way.
I mean, let's face it, musicals are ridiculous--can you say Busby Berkeley? Singing in the Rain?
And, really, the choreography is pretty great, in a ridiculous musical kind of way. Especially when it involves basketballs or graduation robes.
Gabriella does not have enough to do.
Shouldn't Gabriella and Troy be having sex by now?
The true talents of that gang are Corbin Bleu and the guy who plays Ryan. We like Sharpay and Gabriella too. But Zac Efron? I just do not get it. The guy is lame.
That gay subplot from HSM? Gone, gone, gone with the wind, steamrolled by the purely opportunistic Ryan-Kelsi hook-up (Vote No on 8!).
E: It was GREAT!
M: It was stupid.
Can you say target audience?
(And, if you're wondering, the target audience for this post is Dawn and Landismom--and maybe C? But if you know what I'm talking about, more power to you, and all my empathy!)
Friday, October 24, 2008
Our contractor, whom I still love, but whom I'd like to have out of my life, has a friend who sells vanities. A plain white vanity, with drawers, is all I wanted. So he showed me the picture of the vanity, and I wasn't so crazy about the doors, but the last thing I want to do is go out and find a vanity, so I said fine. Then the vanity got delivered, yesterday, and we went up to look at it this morning.
It's fine. Sturdy. Lots of well-built drawers. A big cabinet below the sink. A completely innocuous white. And then there's the doors. Remember what a modernist I am? Well, we actually abandoned the modernism on the fixtures, which are kind of old-fashionedy, but I quite fell in love with them, so I thought, fine, no modernism in the bathroom, or, rather, a nice eclecticism in the bathroom, what with the square sink and tub (OK, the tub's a rectangle, but the point is that it is not rounded), and the marbley tiles, and the old-fashionedy fixtures. Which is the rationale I went with for accepting the vanity. The doors have, oh I do not know how to describe them, the doors have ridges on them--ridges just like the doors on the bottom floor of the house, which I tried to replicate, but couldn't exactly, for the attic, old-fashionedy, almost slightly fussy ridges. So I tried to get ridges for the doors to rooms, but now I'm having problems with them on doors to drawers and cabinets?
The thing is, really, I just don't care anymore. I love the doorknobs, I love the paint, I love my skylights and the tiles. Do I need to love the vanity? Do I need to love it enough that I would go find another one that I love more? Would I be able to find one that I loved more? Can one even love a vanity? I suppose if one can love doorknobs, one can love a vanity. But the time for loving doorknobs was August; now it is October, and my boots and all the hats and scarves and winter coats are still over at Grownup E's. I think love is not the answer; I think we must just finish this damn project. And yet, I am waffling. No, I won't waffle. I will go on, I must go on. The vanity will stay. Right?
[Just thought everyone needed to remember how truly superficial I am, despite the occasional dive into deep waters.]
Yesterday a mom in City died after ten years of breast cancer. I don't know her, never even heard of her till yesterday when she died, but she was the oldest friend of someone I work with, who told me, and then it turns out that my old friend T is her rabbi, which means she must know R and R, and she lives on R and E's street, and her kids go to school with A's kids, and it feels like I must have come this close to knowing her.
But the closeness of unknown ties doesn't matter. What matters is the story that makes me cry every time I think about it: her 12-year-old daughter's bat mitzvah was supposed to be this Saturday, but she didn't think she would make it, and she could no longer leave the house, so they had it at home last Saturday. I saw pictures--of the beautiful, dressed-up daughter holding the torah, of her standing by her daughter, gaunt, hatted, beaming with with love and joy. She died yesterday morning. They have cancelled tomorrow's bat mitzvah events. The funeral is Sunday.
Tomorrow M will go to J's bat mitzvah. It's a morning service. I'll go with her, because I like J's mother C (and I'm so grateful to her for not inviting us all to the party!). I'll watch C on the bima, beaming with love and joy. In the evening, M will go with A to J's fancy hotel party, her first bat mitzvah party on her own. A's mom, L, will drive them there; I will pick them up.
We are all--mothers, daughters--so incredibly lucky to have what we have.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
To: Senator Obama or any of your supporters:
Why have you not provided the following info?
Why is the media giving you a "free pass" on this?
1. Occidental College records — Not released
2. Columbia College records — Not released
3. Columbia Thesis paper — ‘Not available’
4. Harvard College records — Not released
5. Selective Service Registration — Not released
6. Medical records — Not released
7. Illinois State Senate schedule — Not available
8. Your Illinois State Senate records — Not available
9. Law practice client list — Not released
10. Certified Copy of original Birth certificate — Not released
11. Embossed, signed paper Certification of Live Birth — Not released
12. Record of your baptism — Not available [link]
Uh, you think maybe he wasn't born alive?
[Commenter #1:]If Senator Obama has addressed the anti Christ accusations, I would be greatly interested to hear what he had to say. Have any articles/ quotes?
[Commenter #2]: Senator Obama will never address any accusations he is the Anti-Christ anymore than he would address being the messiah, Easter Bunny, or Santa Clause. Can you imagine the news headlines if a guy named Hussein started to talk about whether or not he was the Anti-Christ? I can, and they would be the lead ins on every news show and the headline on ever newspaper and John McCain would instantly rise at least 10 points in the polls because lending that kind of legitimacy to such a ridiculous notion would be the worst job of campaigning in presidental election history.
I don't think you have any information to say that Obama is the Anti-Christ. I'm not sure what you would identify in Senator Obama that you associate with the Anti-Christ and I really don't know what else to say about this. I'm kinda floored. [link]
Yeah, I'm not sure the Anti-Christ accusation has a lot of traction beyond...well, let's just call it the base...
S and I have a lot of gay friends.
You can probably guess where this is going.
We lost our first friend to AIDS in the summer of 1982 (yes, we knew each other back then). We lost our most recent last month (if you count HIV-positive person with probably AIDS-related illness).
S has lived a lot of places and had a lot of friends, but he's not so good at keeping in touch. So one of the sad assumptions of our life is that a lot of our old friends are dead.
S also has a pretty ordinary name, so he's kind of hard to find, unless you think to google me, with my unusual name, which, luckily, a lot of his old friends do. In fact, though, I am the #1 hit for my name, but S is #3 for his, if you google the variation he uses. And it's pretty obvious that it's him, if you know anything about his last 20 years or so, plus there's a picture.
Yesterday, the dearest old friend whom we'd long assumed was dead--given his history, and his apparent absence from the Internet--walked into S's restaurant, thanks to google. I haven't seen him yet, but he's coming to dinner tonight. S says he's exactly the same. Which includes alive.
We are really really happy.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Then again, maybe not, because the main thing Fashiongate makes me think is that this campaign has run completely off the track. I mean, obviously she needed clothes, but if she couldn't afford them herself (see: Cindy McCain), surely they could have found some rich Republican clotheshorse (see above) to take her shopping out of the goodness of her heart. But using RNC funds? And reimbursements? How could they not have seen the bad publicity coming?
Monday, October 20, 2008
Haven't turned the heat on yet. 62 is fine; 56 is not.
Am eager to see Rachel Getting Married and Happy-Go-Lucky, because I'm kind of girlie and indie like that, but I fear my next big-screen experience will be High School Musical 3.
The first season of 30 Rock didn't do it for me, but, yeah, the second is pretty funny.
Doorknobs. Must get doorknobs.
Does anyone besides me do a double-take whenever they see the new Macy's ad campaign because it looks just like Target?
Does anyone besides me think that Sarah Palin's SNL performance was quintessential Sarah Palin: looked cute and did nothing?
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
2. Because really it's a miracle that they even got this far.
3. Because I have this crazy zero-sum magical-thinking hope kind of thing going that says if the Red Sox lose...well, I'm not going to go there...
4. Because, honestly, I'm not madly in love with this team. I mean, I still love the Red Sox per se. And Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell, Youk, Ellsbury, Varitek, Lester, Papelbon, even Dice-K, yeah, yeah, I love them too, but who are these other guys? And you know, even though he had to go, well, the dreadlocked one's absence is...an absence (though I sure hope he ends up in the same position we do, whichever position that may be).
5. Because, fundamentally, I am realizing, I do not have the temperament of a true fan. I have seen the Red Sox win twice in my lifetime, it was good, and I don't need them to win every year. Then again, another 86 would not be OK...
Monday, October 13, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
I think I'll go be happy about gay marriage in Connecticut, the Red Sox, the Phillies, and the beautiful weather, at least for a few hours...
Friday, October 10, 2008
We never get bills from the pediatrician. We go to the pediatrician, pay whatever fee our current insurance mandates, and that's that. So I don't worry too much about going to the pediatrician. Rash that would be better off checked out? Pediatrician. Fever in its fourth day? Pediatrician. Green stuff coming out of nose for going on two weeks? Pediatrician. Am I a crazy outlier? I think not.
But then we started getting the bills. The first bill I kind of understood, and I thought it was the doctor's fault. During E's first bout of impetigo, when we finally went the oral antibiotic route, she got a rash. We've got a lot of minor antibiotic issues in this family, so I gave the doctor a call. It was Sunday and I wasn't too worried. She'd taken the antibiotic for eight of the ten days, and the impetigo was cleared up, so I knew I was going to stop the medicine, and I figured if the rash got worse, I could take her in on Monday, but I just thought I should check in. The doctor on call (not our beloved doctor) said it sounded like she was having a reaction, and did I want to bring her in to the office, since he was there. I thought what the hell, we went in, nothing much happened, and the next day the rash started clearing up.
End of story, I thought, until we got the bill with the weekend charge that I had no idea existed. Well, it turns out that all doctors charge for weekend visits, as the billing person at the pediatrician's office informed me this morning when I finally called, two bills later. I got a little annoyed, but felt a little stupid when she told me that nobody had ever complained about a weekend charge before. I did point out that I had had no intention of bringing her in until he suggested it, but, OK, it's only 50 bucks.
But then we started looking at the bill more closely, because now it was up to about $260, which was a lot more than the weekend charge. There were charges for the second impetigo visit, which was on a weekday, and for the impetigo culture. Well, it turns out that we now have a $1,500 deductible which apparently includes routine office visits and tests. Wow.
How did this happen? When I started consulting and lost my work health insurance, we bought our own health insurance: Plan Mediocre. It was about $700/month with a big catastrophic deductible, but the copay for doctor's visits was $25, I think, and, being relatively healthy, the only time we noticed that Plan Mediocre was not great was a $250 emergency room charge when M was at camp which ended up being taken care of by the camp insurance.
Then, sometime around June, we got a letter saying that our insurance was being discontinued as of July 1 and, if we didn't sign up for a different plan, they would automatically switch us to Plan Suck. THIS IS WHERE IT'S MY FAULT. I should have looked into Plan Suck. I should have researched plans, like I did when we signed up for Plan Mediocre. Only, I didn't really have time, and all of a sudden it was July 1, and I assumed Plan Suck must be basically comparable to Plan Mediocre, even if it was about $75 more a month, and basically I trusted in the machine.
Well, not so fast, sucker, because now we've got Plan Suck which, let's face it, SUCKS. And I am irate. But what can I do? I didn't read the fine print, and now I'm not making an appointment to have E's eyes checked. This month at least.
Because this story actually ends happily. Due to various legal and financial issues, S's work is finally providing health insurance to its employees! So as of maybe this month but definitely next month (S is the conduit here, so everything's a little hazy at this point), we will once again be regularly insured Americans, and our premium will be less than half what we've been paying! Apparently this is good health insurance, real health insurance, not Suck health insurance for people who are stupid and loserly enough not to have jobs with health insurance like regular good Americans. But I've told S that he has to bring home home the binder so I can read every single word of that fine print.
So you want to blame people for their bad mortgage decisions? Fine, go ahead. As someone who always thought balloon-rate mortgages were insane (because, being lazy and hating to make major purchases, we buy houses to live in), I've had that urge myself. But you know, sometimes that fine print is hard to read. And then you're screwed.
And the idea that giving everyone some money to buy their own health insurance will solve the problem? I think not.
This morning, I brought it up because JA pulled out yesterday, mid-afternoon (thanks, Facebook). S pointed out that JA is single, self-employed, heading out of her mid-50s, and probably a lot deeper into the stock market than we are, so it makes sense for her to cut her losses. We decided, as we do each time, that our only option is to suck it up and wait.
I mean, obviously it's not our only option, but given our relative financial stability on the day-to-day front, and the fact that the stocks are for retirement which is a long way away, we choose to wait for the unknown, rather than take the known losses. Then again, I said to S this morning that retirement may not be an option--he's going to be flipping burgers from his wheelchair, while I'm hobbling about on my walker, doing what I do.
It's scary watching that plunging line, even if it still feels kind of abstract, albeit abstractly insane. And, like I said, scary.
I'm preparing the girls for 62 degrees this winter and we've started shopping weekly at the discount supermarket. But this weekend we are buying tights, because winter is coming and, damnit, we NEED tights.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
The benefits of atoning--or at least of spending the day thinking about how to be a better person, inspired by good services, including Ne'ila, which M and I attended, me for the second time in my life, her for the first (her first full fast, too), and which, even though it extended the fast for an hour, was truly beautiful and inspiring. The afternoon walk at the cemetery with the girls and my mom was also most excellent--even, or maybe especially, visiting L's grave, though also the general beauty of it all (it's a beautiful cemetery).
Really, I am ready to be a better person--or at least to keep trying. And so far, so good...
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Monday, October 06, 2008
And then we went camping. Lots of playing outside, but no screens, which left plenty of time to read. I'd pushed her to bring some books, just before we left, and she grabbed, probably at my suggestion, a few of M's Abby Hayes books. Oh, Abby, fifth-grade favorite of second-grade girls. M discovered Abby in second grade, which is probably why I seem never to have blogged about her (i.e. it was PB--pre-blogging). Abby's mom is a high-powered lawyer, her dad is a stay-at-home dad/computer consultant who cooks a lot, her older twin sisters are a genius and a star athlete, her younger brother excels at robots and computers, and she's just a normal girl who loves to write. In other words, Abby is a feminist mom's girl-book dream, and E totally fell for it.
When we got home from camping, she read a bunch more Abby Hayes (in random order, unlike M, who is a stickler for chronology). I don't know if Abby was an entrypoint into M's bookshelves--certainly she had combed said shelves before and found nothing--but all of a sudden, E has once again become a reading machine, and she has made a significant leap, without any encouragement on our part.
After Abby, she read Dancing Shoes, and the first Mallory Towers book--and that made me feel quite warm and sentimental inside, because I know exactly when M started reading Mallory Towers: when we were in London, when she was exactly as old as E is now, practically to the month, and of course I adored Mallory Towers as a girl, though I think I was a little older (my old copies were packed away in my dad's basement, so the girls read M's British new editions, but the old ones are back in my bookcase).
Now she is reading National Velvet, in the 1930s edition from my childhood (which was perhaps from my mother's childhood? I'm quite sure my copy of Roller Skates was my mom's--ooh, I bet E is going to love that one!). National Velvet is a bit of a challenge--tonight we discussed dialect, Hiawatha, who Malvolia is (up to that point she's referred to as Mally), and how back then they had dinner and supper instead of lunch and dinner (that was from her: "Mommy, does this book take place when they used to have dinner and supper instead of lunch and dinner?"). And she's only up to page 25 or so. But, clearly, she's sticking with it.
I'm not sure there's an analytic payoff to this post. I can't explain why E is suddenly reading again--well, yes I can: she's reading again because she's found books she wants to read which are, to my joy, but also as I might have predicted, books her sister read at the same age, many of which I read as well. So the leap she has made is cognitive, not reading-based: she can now appreciate books that are more complex and focus on older, real girls. This, I think, is the leap that will ensure she stays a reader, not that I was worried. Mainly, though, I'm very pleased.
As for M, her most recent developmental leap has nothing to do with reading, unless you count the cookbook: yesterday she made her first tarte tatin (but it looked nicer than that one).
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
Or do I go over to Grownup E's house this weekend and paw through our truckload of stuff to find the box or suitcase which holds all my boots?
(Bonus points if you come up with the obvious third way which I am working hard to resist...)
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
The first time I saw her, at the opening of religious school, I was floored--even more floored that she dared come up and talk to me. Then I was rescued by a very boring mom from the neighborhood, whom I escaped when I saw R, who was escaping her own heinous mom appendage, and we fled to the corner and whispered throughout the presentations, as we do.
When I saw her at the children's service yesterday, I was not floored, and I even managed to smile and wave hello, before seating myself far away. I have friends at my synagogue, lots of friends, lots of people with whom to chat and whisper and be part of the community. She doesn't. She sits or stands alone, and that is fine with me (though I know she is noticing me and my friends, and noticing that I do not introduce her, and storing up that awareness in her own cabinet of resentment).
The rabbi came up to me, before the children's service. He wasn't heading for me--he was heading down the aisle, saying hello to everyone, and when he got to me, he said, "You know her, don't you?" and I said yes, I do, but there are issues, and I am not happy about her being here. He looked a bit dismayed, and said that she is part of the community now, and I assured him I would be gracious, and he looked relieved. I felt chastised, as I should have, but in a gentle way. I love the rabbi, and I would never want to make his life difficult, so I will be gracious--from as far a distance as I can get--but it's not just him, I was already being gracious, at least more gracious than I was the last time.
I was thinking about how wrong this is: it's the high holy days, and I should forgive. But then I think maybe (this was lying in the bath five minutes ago, thinking about this post) I came to some kind of insight, at least for me. I can't embrace her, I can't say "oh don't worry, it doesn't matter, we're fine," because we're not, and we're not going to be. But I can let it go. I can stop thinking about it and worrying about it and being angry about it. I can stop assuming it will happen again. I mean, the likelihood is it will happen again, and I don't need to pretend it won't, but I can let it go. I can let there be blank space, wary blank space to be sure, but a blank space apart from rancor and resentment. I really think I can, at least since five minutes ago. And that is a form of forgiveness, I think, or at least self-forgiveness, which is really what it's about (I'm not being New Age here--go read the Kol Nidre: it's all between you and God, not you and other people).
When I see her again, which I will, I will smile and wave and go on with my life.