August 29, 2005
When Your Birthday Falls On a Monday, Do You Still Do the Laundry?

It feels like an ordinary day. But it’s kind of a holiday, for me anyway, since it’s my birthday.

The challenge is how to make a seemingly regular weekday kind of fun. This morning after I take my first grader and my preschooler to their schools, I will have exactly 2.5 hours (including travel time) to do whatever I want—no chores allowed. What should I do?

Here are some possibilities:

1. Buy a good cup of coffee, probably a vanilla soy latte, and read some of Billy Collins’ Picnic, Lightening.


2. Listen to Tom Petty—loud—on my husband’s (well, our) expensive stereo system. I heard American Girl on the radio the other day and decided I need some more of that.


3. Place an order at, probably for Escada and/or Hanoi Butterfly perfume and some spiffy free samples.


4. alone time might be over by then.

Well, there’s tonight too.

K. is coming home from work early to prepare his famous chicken fricassee for dinner. Afterward we’ll eat yummy white cake with white frosting.

I also have some unopened presents here waiting, including the Skagen Crystal Bezel Watch that I purchased for myself at Nordstroms last weekend. The sales lady beautifully wrapped it so that K. can present it to me as if he chose it himself. “Honey, how did you know?”

After the kids are in bed we’ll watch some of Six Feet Under, season 4 (which just came out on DVD).

Not bad for a Monday.

August 23, 2005
Sometimes I’m Just Too Nice, I Think

Two guys slowly cross the commercial street, mid block, even as they see my car fast approaching. What is this arrogance? Reading NPR commentator Hollis Gillespie’s book of essays, I found out that she already has a name for this phenomenon: the "asshole stroll”.

Contrast this with the way I tend to quickly move to get out of car’s way, not just for safety reasons but out of politeness. In Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, I find that she accurately describes this other kind of approach: “When I’m about to cross a street and a car stops to let me go, I don’t just walk—I sort of jog—dodge across to, you know, show the driver that I’m not taking advantage of this situation. Yes, I, the pedestrian, have the right of way, but see, I care about you, too, here, just a sec, I’ll cross quickly and get out of your way.”

There must be a happy medium where you can own your space when it’s rightly yours, yet still be a good person.

August 16, 2005
The Storm Before the Calm

Our trip was really fun, thanks for asking. But you know how it is when you return home. Plus school starts next week. This is what you get to do:

*Unpack four people’s suitcases and backpacks.

*Five loads of laundry. Give self a gold star for folding and putting everything single thing away.

*Plan week’s meals and grocery shop with two hyper kids.

*Return three phone messages and make calls to various places to fix errors (How much for the forgotten DVD that didn’t get returned pre-vacation? Where the heck is the Sunday newspaper we were supposed to have delivered on Monday when we returned?)

*Take car to the car wash, since it sat at airport parking lot for a week accumulating dirt, while husband’s much nicer car stayed home.

*Return tan blazer to Old Navy and impulsively buy the girls each a jacket and three pairs of pants for school.

*Shop at Trader Joe’s to pick up salad and sourdough bread for Mom’s lunch visit. Sample the coffee with fat free, French vanilla half and half and organic sugar. Decide to buy the half & half, it’s so good.

*Procure free balloons for the kids and beg for another when the four year old lets hers go in the frozen food aisle. Enjoy watching the girls make hot air balloons out of them when we get home, using dixie cups and some string.

*Go to the library to pick up books on hold, including eight terrific ones that I’ll try to read over the next few weeks (why do they all come in at once? It’s a happy problem.)

*Practice reading with soon-to-be first grader. She just read It’s a Great Day for Up by Dr. Suess to us out loud almost entirely by herself. Hooray!

Right now, I’m heading off to the Back to School Fair at the elementary school—parents only, which is the reason my mom is here to babysit—to stand in ten separate lines and fork over s much money as possible. (Spirit wear? Yearbook? $100 per family to save the school librarian and recess supervisor? Student family directory? Volunteer application? PTA enrollment? Tickets for the auction next spring?) At the end of the ordeal, though, we’ll get a folder indicating which teacher J. will have.

That’s just through Tuesday, there's plenty more to do. We're shopping for new fish (beloved red betta named Cherry died right before our trip; at least I didn’t need to find someone to care for it while we were gone…). There's also S.'s preschool Open House and preparation.

At least I’m finished buying everything on J.’s full-page list of supplies that we need to bring for the classroom, and we got a pink lunch box since she’ll now be eating at school. She’ll be there all day this year! Unbelievable.

August 08, 2005
I'll Be Back

(click to enlarge)

August 01, 2005
Against the Grain

On a message board I frequent, they recently held an informal poll where members (who generally discuss beauty and fashion and shopping, by the way) shared their unpopular opinions about various things. For example:

“I think puppies and kittens (and most animal babies) are cuter than human babies.”

“I don’t think wedding rings are more important than love.”

“I like Old Navy.”

“I don't think Angelina Jolie is all that.”

“I think stripping is degrading.”

“I don't like Sephora or Whole Foods.”

“I don't like dogs.”

“I hate all chain restaurants (ie: Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Joe's Crab Shack, JGIF, Chili's.”

“I think SUVs should be limited to people who actually need them, and I'm not sad gas prices are high.”

“I don't steal music.”

“I don't like Hondas.”

“Target is overrated.”

“I'm an educated, conservative Republican.”

“I hate dogs.... and cats!”

“I think cat people can be really weird.”

Reading through the list, there are at least six “unpopular opinions” that I agree with. I could probably also add a few more items.

However, it occurs to me that there are some views I’d rather keep private. I’d prefer not argue about it or have you make a negative or incorrect judgment about me. But I will say that when we have dinner together, the reservation will NOT be at The Olive Garden.