2.28.2006

Give Me Back My Post!

Blogger seems to have swallowed whole my recent entry on Maggie, which I hear---but didn't get to see---had two entire comments! Placing my blog in someone else's hands really is risky business. Ever since the entry vanished, I've been hesitant to post again at all. Google seems not to have cached it, so I guess it's gone forever. Argh, Blogger! Why ye got to go and take a post with comments?

Enough pirate talk. I've been busy, anyway, scraping up kitchen tile, kitchen tile which I am now paranoid is glued to the floor with asbestos. This morning, after a night full of dreams about finding cancer spots on my skin, I sent in a sample to a place in Woburn. Somehow, though we knew there was a possibility of asbestos, and even know someone who lost her partner to mesothelioma, we still inexplicably continued with our construction efforts. Until yesterday, when a sanding guy refused to consider even giving us an estimate. In the end it might all be for naught; if asbestos ever touched our hardwood floor, sanding it is out of the picture. Sanders turn everything to dust, and asbestos is most deadly as dust. I paid for 24-hour notification. Here's hoping we don't have to invest a fortune in ceramic tile to cover everything in the kitchen.

The Tao of Appliances

While scraping, I reflected upon a number of themes. We spent some time recently at Yale Appliance & Lighting, which, if you ever find lamps, crazy chandeliers, or big steel ovens beautiful, is the place for you. We stood in front of a large dishwasher paneled with cabinetry-like facing. "I don't like it," said Blue. "It's like it's trying to be something it's not." I agreed. It reminded me of a social problem I had recently. Like a friend telling me how mad she was at me when I thought she was happy, you never move on from that with much confidence. A dishwasher should look like a dishwasher, and a mad friend should look like a mad friend. Otherwise, how do you know what is what? I like things labelled as clearly as possible. Even the handles on our bathroom faucet read "Hot" and "Cold."

2.22.2006

On Doing Nothing

Reviews are in from the long weekend: The Woodsman. Excellent. Portraits by David Hockney at the MFA: four stars. Love the use of space, sense of wan color, fear of something being a little "off" in a relationship. Recommended. Wallace & Gromit: has there ever been a cuter dog? Besides lying around doing nothing (Netflix friends know that my dirty weekend secret includes watching Oprah on DVD), we pulled up more tile from our kitchen and planned to take out two walls. Walls! As it becomes clearer that our kitchen will be out of commission for a couple months sometime this spring, there's been a sudden cooking surge. I've made bread, cakes, cupcakes, cookies, pancakes, baked mac 'n' cheese, baked catfish, roasted asparagus, roasted butternut squash; I made chocolate souffle for dessert tonight (and on the occasion of George staying with us till the weekend). I'd like to make a cherry pie, but that may or may not happen pre-new kitchen. We still have many more tiles to pull up.

2.17.2006

What is Normal, Anyway?

Part of being an adult is witnessing the heart-pounding excitement of reality as opposed to the childhood image of a future that is sanitized & resolved. (Sometimes this happens when you're a kid or a teen, but that's still part of becoming an adult.) The most recent incarnation of this experience, for us, is understanding that the experience of pregnancy is different for every single person. I used to assume that pregnancies were generally healthy, semi-comfortable and full-term, ending with a single healthy baby, and in much rarer cases there was an exception. That seems to not be true. Our healthy, "normal" friends and family have experienced a very broad range: significant fertility challenges, international adoption, nearly-immediate conception, miscarriage, full-term stillbirth, full genetic testing with anxiety, no genetic testing with no anxiety, very happy pregnancies culminating in infant jaundice, terrifically uncomfortable pregnancies, preecclampsia, and now, twins! It's amazing. Sometimes terrible, confusing, exciting, shocking, but always amazing. Amazing that something so fundamental, basic and common should be so rife with profound, life-altering, marriage-altering uncertainty.

Something to look forward to.

I can only imagine that a few years from now, there will be more kids and less pregnancies around me, and I'll have some new realization, more along the lines of "all kids are so different."

2.11.2006

Breakfast at Shreve, Crump & Low

I ran across the street without looking at the oncoming traffic. The words were barely visible on the brick building. The sign had been affixed to the brick so long that the sun had etched its outline, like a memory, into the walls of the grand old Boston building. I threw my hands in the air, cars honking as they flew past. It was gone. The old Shreve, Crump & Low. My reason for being.

Well, being here, on this street corner, in this moment, anyway. I dropped my H&M bag to the sidewalk and gazed forlornly into the bare windows, into the depths of a worn black display. Where jewels once sat, there was nothing. Where pearls glowed and diamonds shimmered, nothing. Huge chunks of aquamarine? Now nothing. Where were the emeralds, the rubies, the moonstone? Where was the doorman, the smiling sales clerk, the nervous young man desperately needing to prove himself to the breathlessly waiting blond fiancee by his side? Demanding, demanding, that his finger will itself to the heftiest rock in the glass case, or else?

A heavy rusted chain hung around the gates to the door. My shoulders fell and I slumped away, memories of diamonds the size of my fist etched into my brain as if by the sun.

Turned out they'd moved about a block away. I made this discovery when continuing down Newbury Street in a daze, the Hermes store barely registering. I ran into traffic again.

Moments later, I was pacing the floor. So much gold, so much gold, but where were the glittery things? The security man was eyeing me. He looked worried. I asked him. He pointed upstairs and smiled, his teeth gleaming. A second floor! I trotted to the escalator.

Soon I was taking in the diamonds. Big square ones, the trios with a square in the middle flanked by two round ones. Or did I prefer a square and two rectangles? Or even a huge round diamond and two smaller emerald cuts? I truly never cared about diamonds until I was lucky enough to receive one. Over the years, the antique treasure on my finger has caught the sun so many times and splashed rainbows across the ceiling of my car, glittered astonishingly under the low lighting in Dunkin' Donuts, and generally won me over. I look at it every day, sometimes for long periods of time. You can see every color in the world in there! Had I never gotten it, I never would have missed it, but the modest ring, retrieved after decades in a bank lockbox, represents something so big and important that its presence in my life has been a true awakening.

Especially an awakening to how much I like sparkly things. I lurked near the counter, needing to keep moving on so as not to attract the attention of the salesperson, but wanting so badly to stay even as it became inappropriate. I noticed a display case marked 40% off, filled with diamonds. What were they, used? They looked perfect to me. Next to me, two men selected their wedding rings. "So you'd both like yours in a matte finish?" asked the salesman. I peeked at the box sitting out on the counter. Platinum bands, matching, one just a bit smaller than the other, each with a small stone inset. I peeked at the two men. They both seemed quiet and excited. "What are your thoughts on machine engraving versus hand engraving?" asked one, blushing. "I like hand engraving myself," said the salesman. "It'll be something you two will enjoy for the rest of your lives." All three smiled and the couple touched hands for a moment. I smiled, too, ruefully suppressing memories of buying our wedding rings at Hannoush in the Arsenal Mall. Ooo, the china display! I'd never seen china like this in my life! The birds and flowers were breathtaking. I held a saucer in my hand, wondering if the soon-to-be-newlyweds would register for a pattern or two. Maybe, I thought for a moment, it's not too late. We could still register. Maybe for our second anniversary. I turned the saucer over in my hand. $46.00 for a saucer. Probably not. I set it down on the black velvet and slipped away, looking just one more time at the hummingbird-shaped diamond necklace. Maybe someday, when I stopped wanting to travel. Or eat.

2.10.2006

Singles' Nights

It's different being alone when you're married. I wish I could fall back into my interesting single life when he's away, but it's not that easy. It's a mentality: I'm married or I'm not, and when I'm married, I'm married, even when I'm alone.

1. Talk extensively to the cat and believe it's not the same as talking to myself. (She really does act like she listens.)
2. Hang around Whole Foods for dinner: salmon, mac and cheese, and marshmallows hand-dipped in dark chocolate. Why don't I do this more often?
3. Stay up later and sleep more fitfully.
4. The same dream a few times: there's going to be an accident under the bridge ahead & I have to warn the driver.
5. A dream that someone intentionally unravels my knitting.
6. Girl movies!

Mold

I recently came across this article written by a college boyfriend. Well-structured, but disappointingly what you'd expect. I get down when writing fits a mold, and then I ask myself: Do I do that? I'm trying to be fair, but hipsters present themselves with a certain psuedo-modest bravado (I'm-so-small-I'm-big). I feel bored with writing that is performative, but isn't nearly everyone that way, and aren't I? And anyway, it's a context, right? You have to fit the context, I guess. I find that what I want most out of relationships is to see people challenge themselves. Most of the people close to me do that instinctively. But it's not commercially or politically viable to have a nation of people defying stereotypes, so it must be overtly encouraged.

In the past six months I've befriended a wide range of people, and now, at work, I find myself feeling the closest to a Republican in her 50s. She has triplets. We actually share a lot of the same values. Before her, I got to know a woman my age living in relative poverty with three sons. Our big difference isn't politics, but race and economic class. I find we also have a lot of the same values. We connected in a very deep, emotional way.

It all makes me wonder about the Islamic violence, especially over the cartoons. I just want to sit down with a woman from the middle of that culture and talk for a while, find out if we have the same values. Because despite everything, it's hard to imagine that we wouldn't.

2.07.2006

Commas

It's been an eventful few days. A two-movie Sunday (the fun Wired to Win in Imax and Match Point, great for those into Woody Allen and infidelity, but not for me, despite awesome, crush-worthy Scarlett) and a lot of meandering around, out of sorts. Reasons why. A 4-year tortoiseshell-share with my former roomate came to a close over Saturday dinner. Farley, lovable, orange-and-white, needs a home--their home, specifically--and two cats there is too much, so Hazel stays. I'm glad to have her, but actually wasn't as overjoyed as you might expect. It's nice to share an animal. You never have to face up to 20 years of commitment.

And you share vet bills. And someone else loves her as much as you do. But, the arrangement wasn't going to stretch far into a fifth year. Everyone wants babies; eventually it'll be too hard to think about cat-switching every 4 weeks. So she's ours now, and things are a little different because of it. She seems more cuddlesome, as if she knows.

Filing taxes was kind of a thrill. The final number might help re-do our kitchen floor. Thank you, home office deduction! The arduous glue-stripping has gotten old, even though we're not yet done wielding the heat gun.

And alarmingly warm weather that I stopped enjoying and started fearing: could this be it? Will our someday-kids miss out on snow days and snowmen? Will it be hurricane season all the time? And a subtle floundering at work, a subpar contentment, the feeling of resignation. Lost-ness.

But I think that's it for out of sorts. I have a few good days planned, some writing time and diamond-gazing time (I periodically do this. People think it's out of character, but I like diamonds, Las Vegas, vegetarianism, dogs, rap, certain really good poems, karate. I'm not sure 'likes' should be part of 'character.') I like to go downtown, movies and wine, so maybe perking up is on the horizon. When global warming arrives, what will we have instead of the winter blues?

2.06.2006

Remembering

An article in the Times on roadside memorials reminds me of my own terrible crash at age eighteen near Albany, NY. Miraculously, no one died in that accident on the Thruway, but everytime I drive to my hometown I pass the spot marked by the memory of burning rubber, spinning into oncoming traffic, and braking so hard in the median that grass and mud was stuck to every corner of the soon-to-be-totaled car. In my head, I keep a roadside memorial. Not made of sticks or photos, but of light and memory. Not for a death, thank god, but for a mixture of fear and awakening. The kind you can only have when you're just barely emerging from adolescence. And, I suppose, for a radical deepening of certain aspects of my personality: an openness to fear and danger, a knowledge of life as chaotic and unpredictable, a certain new gratitude and purpose for being alive. I tend to my memorial every two months or so, heading to one home or another. Occasionally I'll be driving along, talking with my husband or listening to the radio, and I'll realize that I forgot to bear witness to the site. This is almost always a good thing. More often, I brace myself for a flood of memories, and drive past, thanking the universe that it didn't all end right here.

2.03.2006

See the Millipedes for Yourselves

I finally posted pictures and video of our trip to Peru!