Friday, June 25, 2010

dear iPod

you and I have been friends for many years. you have provided me endless comfort and meditative moments, and I have provided an eclectic, varied musical palette for your hard drive. your case has seen the scratches and scars of heavy, nearly daily use. you have traveled with me across the country and back. in the past year, you have been a stalwart companion in my car as we went on road trips.

lately, I've noticed a slowing down in your performance. the battery gauge isn't providing an accurate read on the actual life left. you suddenly shut down in a huff for no reason and grudgingly reboot. I fear that our relationship is nearing an end, my dear.

I have treated you with nothing but loving kindness, save the odd drop onto hardwood or sidewalk. (I swear those were pure accidents) But you are a fragile fleur, aren't you?

When the time comes for your demise - the prevailing opinion of your life expectancy is four years, and you've got one to go - I will observe a moment of silence. I'll responsibly recycle you. And then I'll head over to the Apple Store and get myself a Touch. Love you too.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

father's day without the father

Father's Day is inevitably bittersweet because my dad is no longer with us. My kids have no memory of him. He would've really enjoyed them. Gently teasing Z and irritating her on purpose. Joking with O. Showing them his birds. Telling them stories. Watching Giants' games on tv with them. And World Cup.

As much as I'm a logical, thoughtful person, this continues to haunt me.

When O was born in early October 2005, my dad went into his final coma, never really waking up again save for a few feeble gestures. I found out the second day I was in the hospital, recuperating after the birth. My sister called; my mother did not want to tell me. I was such a morass of emotions and hormones at that point that it didn't register. I don't remember feeling anything save for a hollowness that was soon filled with brain-obliterating exhaustion.

He died over Thanksgiving weekend that same year. He knew of O, I was told, and the few photos I had brought to him of O were taped on his last bed in the hospital.

As O is growing up - and turns five this year - I can see my dad in him. The love of life and small pleasures. The genuine care he shows to people in distress. The flashes of temper. Without sounding too new age-y, I'd like to think that the best parts of my dad's spirit have come to reside in O during the birth and death cycle. And maybe that's how we perpetuate our legacies.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

still mucking around with templates

and will be seeing how long I can tolerate this one. the dandelion theme was not rocking my world.


by doing laundry, listening to Jack Johnson's live album, wondering if I should clean up the piles of paper on my desk, centering myself in the here and now.

Most people fantasize about traveling or doing exciting, adventuresome activities. I dream about being alone in a quiet house and puttering around. A lot of mending would get done. I still have boxes to unpack; we moved in April, for crying out loud. I need to spend a couple of hours sorting out the kitchen without interruption, really loud music blaring in the background. Something along the lines of LCD Soundsystem or early Green Day or The Clash. And the continual process of purging unneeded items, like the broken crib and the Graco travel system (for those of you unschooled in the parenting arts, that's the infant car seat/strolller/carseat base combo. and I'm sure you still don't know what that means).

Tending to the house is a reflection of my desire to have an orderly life. I've been moving so fast that I haven't caught my breath for days. It's time to stop and observe. Listen.

I realized my need to slow down on a walk back to work after a very good lunch. My body was literally refusing to move at typical city pace. It was a sunny, warm, beautiful day, and I was happy on top of it. Everything was magnified: the sky was bluer, the trees a deeper emerald green, the sun and breeze pushing past skin to get to my core.

Lots of random thoughts today. All part of the decompression process.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

what's for dinner?

I've been a little slack in the cooking arena over the past few weeks. Lots of takeout and lunches out were all I could manage while work life was ramped up. Now that I've moved toward the eye of the hurricane, I had the inspiration to make dinner.

It was unseasonably warm. I thought a salad would be appropriate, but a salad with warm components. I had taken out chicken parts to defrost in the morning, including wings for Z so I could make her absolute favorite, soyaki* chicken wings.

I started the other chicken parts in the skillet with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper, browning them enough so that the fat from the skin was rendered. A fried chicken salad started forming in my mind. Ideally, the fried chicken should be the good stuff: buttermilk marinade and deep frying. It was too late, though, so I kept the heat on medium and continued browning until everything was brown and crispy. Lemon juice was added to the pan for flavor depth. I shook some Old Bay over the adult share; I knew better than to season O's share. Meanwhile, Z's wings were baking in the oven at 400 degrees, 425 degrees during the last few minutes to add some color.

The salad was a mix of red leaf lettuce, baby heirloom tomatoes (not dissimilar to cherry tomatoes and with the same squirtability factor), and avocado. I had some Trader Joe's goddess dressing - avocado is best with a creamy dressing. I am too lazy to make creamy dressings. The chicken was sliced on top. We ate. And all was well in the world.

*Trader Joe's Soyaki sauce. It works miracles on chicken. Seek it out.

Friday, June 11, 2010

a day to play

My previous 'time for mom' plans for today fell by the wayside when O spent the better part of last night crying from pain because his hip was hurting him. Off to the doctor's we went first thing. We came away with an order for bloodwork and an xray of said hip.

I am not a fan of bloodwork. I'm not a fan of needles anywhere in close proximity to my body. O put me to shame with his fascination as the needle went in and the tube filled with blood. "That's cool," he said. I was looking pointedly in the other direction.

Next stop was the xray. He actually giggled as the tech moved him into position; he is unbelievably ticklish. My whirling dervish son was remarkably still for the whole procedure. Again, very impressive.

We thought about eating at UCSF. In the end, blueberry muffins in the comfort of home won out. We played Wii games. We hugged. We watched old school Scooby Doo (there can be no other) off On Demand. I managed a conference call in between. It was beautiful out, and I opened windows to let the late spring air filter in. We laughed a lot, especially while playing a port of Super Mario Bros. 3. Clearly the reflexes have diminished greatly since 1988.

On the face of it, there was nothing memorable about today. No epoch-making moments. No revelations. But I'd like to think that our slower pace aggregates into a single memory of what our relationship was at this specific time.

footnote: all is well. a mild inflammation of the joint from a leftover viral infection that will go away in about a week. motrin at night and rest will cure. I am grateful. health is something we do not take for granted. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

what I'm reading now, and what I need to read.

The book stack is piling up again. I've got to get through the library books first:

  • The Lacuna/Barbara Kingsolver: a rich, dense read. I'm going through it at a slower pace than usual because it's meant to be read at a leisurely place. Not speed reading beach fare at all. 
  • Chronic City/Jonathan Lethem: several years ago I read 'The Fortress of Solitude' and dug it. It was my Chicago brown line reading for a while. I like his characters. I like that NYC is his setting. 
  • Remarkable Creatures/Tracy Chevalier: on a whim. She's the author of 'Girl with a Pearl Earring', which was a perfect little novel, even though I usually don't like the 'mix fiction with reality' genre too often.
  • Solar/Ian McEwan: I love his stuff and this one's on the hold shelf waiting for me. Picking it up is on the weekend to-do list.

and then the books that I need to read next that are hanging out in a reproachful manner on the bookshelf:

  • The Lonely Polygamist/Brady Udall: the title says it all.
  • The Wild Things/Dave Eggers: I'm willing to give this a shot. It's Dave Eggers, after all.
  • The City & The City/China Mieville: interesting sci-fi more in the vein of Philip K. Dick than the robots run amuck stuff.

I'm hoping to wrap this all up by July. For the 4th of July Tahoe trip, it's going to be the new Anthony Bourdain book, which I've pre-ordered. Natch.

hmm. do we like this new template?

jury's out. It's a little girly for my taste, but I was ready for a change. Let's give it a week to see if it grows on me.

Friday, June 04, 2010

last day of school

Little Miss Z wrapped up her first year of kindergarten today. It sounded as though she had a very unstructured day, and rightly so. Her afterschool program had a barbecue and, to my delight, she tried everything. Except the hot dogs. Apparently they were too burnt. For the record, they probably weren't, maybe some charred specks here and there. But even one grayish charred speck damns the hot dog to an uneaten eternity.

She was able to accomplish a lot this year. She painted this butterfly for a project - a quilt made up of butterflies and various fabric squares for the school auction in the spring. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see it in person, but the mom who won it took photos of all the squares for us. She's becoming a better reader. Her artwork is stunning. She worked in the school garden and knows more about compost and worm farms than I do. She is learning to be responsible and respectful - as I like to put it, a good citizen of the world.

I learned a lot in kindergarten, too. I was lucky to witness a group of genuinely sweet and caring five and six year olds grow together. I met some fantastic, down to earth, no drama parents and am looking forward to spending the next five years with them in supporting our kids and the school. I saw the amazing efforts of a first-time principal who is dedicated to moving forward, not dwelling on past or present. I marveled at how skilled the k teachers were in corralling those kids and directing their energy positively.

Summer vacation is really not that long this year. Z starts first grade on August 16, not even three months away. She's eagerly awaiting zoo camp and the Y summer break camp. There's a trip to Tahoe over the 4th of July weekend. Plenty of ice cream and popsicles that require eating. Forlorn plots around the house that are crying for some kind of plant life; we'll experiment. Movies to watch, snails to examine, seasonal fruit to eat, Giants' games to attend, ribbons in swim school to get. And then we start our first grade year with eyes wide open, happy to be learning and being with old and new friends.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

the catch-up and current events

It's been a while since my mind has been clear enough to post. Work was a priority - one massive project after another. One more deadline this Friday and no - I repeat, no - deadlines next week. I'm trying to line up some interviews for potential new staff. I need to trek to a few art stores to source portfolios to hold our collateral (oh, twist my arm). So, fun projects lay in the horizon to break up the routine.

During this time, I read a lot in between deadlines. I had no other way to destress. I picked up Hand Wash Cold by Karen Maezen Miller, a Zen Buddhist priest. Reading this book centered me, calmed me, readjusted some debilitating negative emotions within me. I'm still referring to various chapters when times get rough.

A bright spot to spring was our family camp excursion to Camp Jones Gulch. A big success all around, except for the bunk beds. I must be getting on because bed comfort was never a strong suit with me, but waking up completely sore was not the most amazing experience ever.

We hiked, explored the woods, poked around streams, kissed banana slugs (well, Mr. O did), played games, swam in the crazy cold pool (all but me, I knew better), gorged on classic camp food, watched part of 'The Princess Bride' on movie night, climbed a terrifying 42-foot tall rock wall (none of us made it to the top), rode horses, observed chickens, admired the garden and compost heap, and other things too numerous to list here.

One lovely memory from our long weekend was Z waking up at the crack of dawn and pulling opening the gingham curtains of our ramshackle cabin to see what was outside. She lay there for a good half hour, peacefully observing.

School is winding down for the year. Summer day camp starts next week for the minis. I feel that this is really going to be a kick-ass summer, even though it is foggy and damp in my part of town.