Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hole Mole

Ed & I went out on an actual date (read: Jack free) the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I've been trying to find a reputable babysitter on Craigs List the last few months and we've finally found 2. And, while we did return home to this first babysitter watching a Lizzy McGuire movie (oh my), she seems like she'll keep Jack entertained and safe.

Anxious to tour this city we've been living in for three months (!!) now, Ed suggested we go to a trendy Mexican restaurant near Newbury Street (thanks Rachael Ray). For those of you who don't know Newbury street (and why would you?), it's consumer heaven. Well, heaven if you have quite a bit of spending cash. There's an Armani store, the Gap, quite a few independent outfits, plus a dizzy array of ultra hip boutiques. Because we didn't leave the house until around 7:45, most of the shops were closed - which is probably good since dinner and a babysitter is roughly the cost of a cashmere sweater.

Ed parked on Commonweath Ave near Back Bay, not sure how far the walk was to the restaurant. As we strolled along in the frigid Boston night air, I commented that if this was a first date, points would be lost at how far we were walking. When, after about 15 minutes, the snow flakes began to hit my nose, I thought that complaining might make me a bad date (I still complained). The walk was lovely, though, despite the cold. On our left trees hanging onto their last leaves graced the median; and on our right, gorgeous apartment buildings and old three-story town house homes took our thoughts away from our cold hands (note to self: always bring gloves with me until next Spring). I love the rot iron fences and window flower boxes. I adore the elaborate entry ways, with real plants, benches, framed art, and elegant area rugs. I kept imagining what the people were doing inside the rooms with the lights on, knowing they were feeling warm because of their historic homes and the contrasting cold oustide. Somehow, walking that sidewalk and soaking in the atmosphere warmed me up. Ed, too, I think. By the time we got to Casa Romero, the winter weather was more festive than miserable.

Good thing, too, they asked if we had reservations (which we didn't) and so we were put on a list and told to come back in 30 minutes. So, we walked Newbury Street, visited a Nike store (it was open) and updated Ed's sweatpant collection.

Casa Romera is located in the basement of a building; the entrance is off an alley (called "public alley" - which is good, I guess, because "scarry, dark alley" might be too intimidating). After checking our coats (first time for this South Tacoma native), we snuggled into a table next to a (locked) wine cabinet and listened to the specials. Authentically Mexican, the waiter delivered the specials in thick Spanish accent, of which I heard "sea bass" and "capers." I just wanted Mole sauce. Ed, too. He went more exotic, ordering chicken stuffed with cactus, cheese and mole. I chose the chicken enchiladas with mole, in part, because the entrees were so pricey. The enchiladas cost $14.00! They were good, but not that much better than the $7 mole enchildas at Guadalajara Hacienda in West Seattle. Apparently, Boston is limited in its Mexican dining experience, so they can jack up the prices. My $8 margarita complimented the meal perfectly. There's really nothing like a leisure dinner with drinks and conversation with your spouse when you haven't been "out" in nearly four months.

It's Tuesday now and we're back in the swing of things- returning to a relatively carb-free lifestyle after our carbolicous weekend, balancing work, school, Jack, and details like paying parking tickets (damn meters). The babysitter is coming back this weekend - I can't wait. It's funny how just getting out to play becomes so crucial and yet so low on the priority list. It's nearly December, and well, we've "made it" so to speak. Back in August, I wasn't sure what things would be like in Boston, but I knew that whatever they were, we'd have adjusted into some sort of routine. That we have :)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Gobble Gobble

Thanksgiving, part two. Yesterday (for the "real" thanksgiving), we went upstairs to have dinner with our landlord and the family. Lovely- so nice not to have to drive anywhere. Today, we did it our way- incorporating Kingston family Paxo tradition (stuffing seasoning) and our own homemade gravy tradition. Jack loves the stuffing (yeah, he's our son), and oh! he loves Yams, too - so, yeah's he's definitely my son. So many blessings. Can't count. Giving thanks as we digest.... Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 21, 2005

Hello, My Name is Laura....

My fingers bleed on occasion. Well, at least once a day. The skin around my nails is in a constant process of healing- fresh red pus, a new scab, or a faint scar. I don’t think I’m in the minority of people who bite their nails (or, more precisely, the cuticle and skin around the nails). My sister does it, as does a good friend of mine. We talk about it now and then, laughing away the silly habit. Like eating too much chocolate in one day, we are nonchalant about this nervous skill. The truth is, I’ve been biting, chewing, spitting, and swallowing the skin around my nails for longer than I can remember- at least since middle school. At 31, I think it’s time to face reality and admit this habit is out of control.

Back when I was still living under the impression that biting my nails was more of an eccentric action (rather than plainly destructive), I was actually somewhat proud of the damage I could do. It’s not too far from hearing alcholics or drug addicts talk about how much Vodka they could down in a few hours or how many lines of coke they could snort and still function. Even when they may have admitted the problem and endured rehab, there would still be some distant pride in surviving the self-inflicted ordeal. The greater the damage, the stronger the spirit must have been to survive. My fingers must feel that way. I can hear them now, “Back in 1996, right after a spectacular day kayaking in the Puget Sound, mouth went to town on us, biting each side of each cuticle for at least a half an hour, working the skin just before the bleeding, trying to savor the calluses left over from last week’s binge, prolonging the inevitable need for Band Aids. Oh, but we are still here. Typing away.”

Okay, so when I think about it, I am fairly ashamed of my actions. Maybe the drug and alcohol abusers are, too, when they have to recount the details of their actions. But, I do remember the day when Ed, who had only recently married me, engaged the morbid fascination of my biting (now it’s just a nuisance for him, like any repeated action you live with for nearly a decade). He asked me to bite his nails like I bite mine to better understand my process. Unabashedly, I bit the skin on the side of his cuticle, just like I do mine, hard and precise. His hand recoiled. Shocked at the realization that I actually bite the skin, and not the nail, like “normal” people, we never really addressed the issue again.

For the last two weeks, I’ve taken a page from the AA handbook and decided to take my nail biting day by day. I wake up most days, and say to myself, “I won’t bite today. I might bite tomorrow, but I will just focus on today.” Unfortunately, I’ve yet to get through an entire day without biting. I don’t even know my record. Four, maybe six hours, tops, I would guess. The trouble is, I don’t even know I’m doing it. It’s not like I have to call a dealer (“got any fresh skin?”) or pour a drink. I just have to zone out working, thinking, watching t.v., and my teeth crave their pacifier. I’m still trying, though. I’m thinking about putting picture of beautifully manicured hands from jewelry advertisements in all the places I’m prone to nibble.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Damn, It's Getting Cold

This morning on the news the nice Boston weather man said that tonight's low would be 16 degrees. I promptly turned to Ed and told him that I was "out" - pack my bags, I'm heading back to the balmy northwest.

Yes, I am a weather wuss. You see, I've grown up in Tacoma, Washington- where we really don't have seasons, where it stays around 50 degrees for nine months out of the year. Yes, I can take the 40+ days of rain and the rare glimpses of sun. And, yes, while I do greatly appreciate the gorgeous fall colors, I just looked up yesterday and discovered that winter is indeed HERE. And, I can assure you, I have no idea what WINTER means - not yet anyway. The trees are bare. I miss my evergreens. I miss wearing the same coat from September to April.

Tomorrow we are going shopping for winter coats and such. I've already spent nearly $40 on hair products to keep my hair from turning into the straw the cold, dry weather (and radiator heat) is turning it into.

Cheers to everyone out there who endures and survives the seasons. I'm planning on spending much of my time viewing it all from inside the house- working those extra hours to pay for our gas bill.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tomorrow is promised to no one

I had just walked in the door from the grocery store and put the bags on the counter.

"You're Dad just called," said Laura in the tone that signals Bad News is coming.

A dear family friend had died. She was a close friend of my Mom's and the mother of a high school buddy of mine.

How is it that Bad News always seems to cut through the "everydayness" of a busy day? One minute you're consumed by thoughts like, "damnit, the car carpets are really dirty," and the next you're reminded of how fleeting, this, really is. After 9/11 I told myself I should tell those I care about how much I appreciate them. Put some thought into it too. Of course, Life slogged on. School and work started up and I was right back to focusing on the "car carpets" of my daily life.

I will say a prayer for the family. I'll call my Mom to check in. And today, I'm going to keep my mind off the carpets and on those things that really matter.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Reflective Shopping

Not that I need a reason- but because I spend the majority of last week cooped up with a sick child and was fighting off my very own cold - I decided to take a holiday Saturday afternoon. People were coming over to watch Notre Dame defeat Tennessee - and, as with most football games, my emotions were tied only to how the outcome affects Ed's mood. In other words, I had absolutely no interest in watching football, especially IN THE HOUSE, which is where I've been for the last week.

I've had a Macy's gift card- given to me by my students from EDCC last spring- that I have been meaning to spend. I heard that there was an actual mall in Boston- more than one, but hadn't ever actually been to any of them. I've always prided myself on preferring the smaller, independent shops- maybe that's the organic Seattle snob/idealist in me, but lately I'd been craving some good, old fashioned consumer indulgence. Like my love for cable, I am what I am - a channel flipping consumer. So, I headed to the South Shore Plaza without a care in the world, ready to browse my brains out and, if something caught my eye- perhaps even purchase.

While roaming Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel looking for ideas to spruce up our home, I realized that it hasn't been since before I went to WWU that I actually had the time to do something that I chose to do. For the last five years, if I needed to take a break from studying, writing papers, grading papers, planning class, having a baby and nursing him, I had to MAKE the time - which usually meant foregoing some crucial task (you know, like pumping milk so my breasts wouldn't explode or sleep). I gotta say, it was NICE to cruise around a mall, try on perfumes, wander into stores that I would never go into unless they were on my list of needed "stuff," and basically just hang out.

I stopped at the Gap to buy jeans (seems all that "moving adjustment" adrenaline that kept me in my wonderful post-nursing weight has calmed down, that plus my recent ravaging of all the leftover halloween candy is making my current jeans a bit snug). I know that I'm old because I don't like buying jeans anymore- not because I don't like trying them on (that's bad enough), but because it's nearly impossible to find any jean that doesn't leave your ass crack hanging out anytime you're not standing up straight. Trying to figure out if "regular" meant regular, or 1/2 inch crack as opposed to "full crack," I asked a gap gal which jeans were the ones with the lower waist. Assuming I was looking for the more "trendy" (ass cracking) jeans, she pointed to the "low" section saying "oh, these are the ones you want," hinting that anyone who wanted anything else was next in line at the PTA meeting. I clarified that I wanted the ones that came up higher on the waist, she recovered as only an experienced retail salesgal could and pointed me in the right direction. I got my jeans, didn't (and don't) care about the fact that the sit only an inch or so below my belly button and wonder if I'm being "classic" or "out dated" in my fashion selections.

Oh, well. The afternoon was lovely. And Jack survived the five hours without mommy (of course). I came home replenished. I don't think it was that I needed time to shop - but just some TIME. I don't know how I would have made it out here teaching. It seems like the last five years in grad school and teaching (oh, and becoming a parent) have completely overrun personal time. I started to become a bit proud (read: martyr) about how much I devoted myself to two distinct roles: mommy, instructor. Wife, friend, sister, woman came in a very distant second, if at all. Is it in our culture to champion such inbalance? Whatever, I'm so glad that I decided to not teach, even if it meant I was in job limbo for a while- I was DONE. It wasn't until my little Saturday siesta that I understood just how "done" I was with that life.

I worked at a UCC church during grad school. One of the pastors there said that there are no coincidences. I'm inclined to agree. In all the change and turmoil of the last five years, I continue to move forward. I still can't reconcile why things work out for us - because I know there are millions if not more folks out there for which things DON'T work out. That's something to ponder and write about in my next five hour break.


Little Things

The volume on my alarm clock was somehow set to its highest setting this morning. Needless to say, Laura and I were jolted from our sleep this morning. Who changed the setting? We have a suspect. We'll be questioning him later today.

The ride in to school was unusually pretty today. The leaves are techinically past their peak foilage (is that the right term?) but it didn't matter. I ride along several parks where the backdrop was a mix of bright yellows, dark reds and oranges. Coming from the Evergreen State, I forgot the smell of leaves in the fall.

Locked the bike up and took the T the rest of the way into school. Decided to walk a different route to school. I love it when I have the time and energy to just try a different way to a destination. Maybe could save me some time, maybe it couldn't. Walked along Beacon, sun coming up over downtown, Fenway Park in the sunlight, the Pike (I-90) busy below me. Cut through an alley way and came out on Comm Ave across from the School of Ed. Perfect.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Non-Rhetoric Coffee, please

The coffee place I go to near school was closed today. Something wrong with the pipes said the sign on the door. No water. I went to Starbucks.

Actually, I don't why I go to this coffee shop in the first place. It's staffed by the type of smug, snooty undergrads that act bothered by you even being there. I was told they don't recognize terms like "short", "tall", "grande" because, and I quote, "It's bad enough Starbucks is taking over the world." Sure. Fine. Whatever. I'll have a medium, non-fat mocha. It's still ok to call it a mocha, isn' it? Or did The Man invent that term too? In that case I'll have a medium-calorie-challenged-people's-chocolate-coffee drink please.

Damn if they don't have good pastries and bagels though. [gritted teeth] So I put up with them.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Not My Fantasy

I got a call Sunday night from a friend in Seattle. I asked him how his newborn (2nd child) was doing, particularly his wife. I got some details, but when pressed for more was reminded that he couldn't focus on anything other than the task at hand: draft night.

For those of you blessed enough not to know about it, fantasy basketball (and football, baseball, probably hockey, soccer and diving) is what all the men are doing (or thinking about) these days (it hasn't trumped sex... yet). Matt had called for Ed's conference call with the other fantasy basketball mangers? coaches? for this year's draft. Ed had printed out his list of names, was studying them at the coffee table (despite the last few days panic about *all* the work he had to), distinctly agitated that the draft was starting an hour earlier than established.

Fantasy sports irriate me. I'm not sure why. I know some of my irritation comes from a guarantee of more sporting television hours. I used to enjoy college football season because it meant I'd get a break from the predominance of sport on television when the season was over- and Ed doesn't watch that much, really. Fantasy basketball annoys me in a special way. First of all, the basketball season is at least as long as a school year (I swear), so from now until NEXT JUNE, Ed will be checking out BB highlights (he never used to be so diligent- something I miss). And not just ONE team - rather a bevy of teams for which ALL of his fantasy team plays on. My own special torture. Last year, up half the night with Jack, exhausted from being new parents, Ed would STILL find time to check his team - I think he even woke up a few minutes early to see how "his" guys were doing. What the hell?

I've talked with other women about this (and just so you know, I don't know any women who play fantasy sports with the vim and vigor that our male counterparts invest- or any women who play for that matter) and we don't have an equivalent to fantasy sports playing. I think this is why I get so annoyned. You know, we don't have a daily "thing" that we're equally invested in(other than a freaking phenomenal wife/mother/woman/domestic balancing act), thoughtful about, and, frankly, something that can make or break a good or bad mood. I know the $ aspect helps, but for 7+ months of checking scores, trading players, reading/researching new players- I don't think it's the $100 prize (or whatever it is) that's inspiring these guys. I think I'm jealous. I want to be so intrinsically inspired and devoted.

Anyway, tonight, Ed was flipping through the channels as I was setting out some pages to edit. Bothered by the color and chatting jolting, I asked for the remote and finished watching an episode of Law & Order - just to maintain some order while I got organized myself. When the show was over, I stood up, engaged in a discussion about the death penalty with Ed (spurred by the show)- how I am definately against it because if there ever was a CHANCE that a mistake could be made, we should take it off the table since death is (duh) irreversible. He asked how I felt about abortion (we both assume that life is life from the get-go-micro cell). Still unsure about that, but my argument leaning towards having it allowed - which, yes seems hypocritical - but, hey - the government needs to stay out of our bodies- to either NOT allow someone to be killed or ALLOW someone to be killed.

Near the end of our light early evening chat, I noticed that Charles Barkely was talking from a podium desk- the kind sports analyses spews from. WHAT? You're already watching BB highlights? I went off for about 30 seconds before Ed gently (read: smugly) reminded me that I had taken the remote and that this was the show that came on after L&O - that, in fact, I had in a sense, allowed this show to be watched.

I promptly walked away to vent on our blog.