Tuesday, April 29, 2003

There are strange men in my house. They are big. Very big. And noisy. I feel like a skittish cat, hiding in the basement and trembling. Tonight we will go to sleep amid the boxes, and tomorrow we make the trek across town.

I will be offline until Friday at least. Buh bye!
posted by Marjorie
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Monday, April 28, 2003

Tense tense tense. Tomorrow the movers come to pack everything in boxes. We're trying to separate out enough stuff to live for a few days just in case the boxes are a mess. Plus clean the house. Plus take care of the Little Guy. Plus pay bills. Today I have eaten nothing more than 2 bowls of cereal, and now at 9:00 I still have a ton to do.

Woe is me.

posted by Marjorie
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Sunday, April 27, 2003

I've decided to plant a vegetable garden. I don't know where -- we'll be in temporary housing for the next two or three months, so it hardly makes sense to (literally) put down roots. But the Little Guy, who's turning 3, is obsessed with planting a carrot. I myself love gardening, so I want to encourage his interest. And it would be good for LG to know that carrots don't just come from the grocery store. (We'll deal with where chicken nuggets come from later.)

Now. The last time I grew vegetables I had to eat them all by myself. The Big Guy is fussy, and I think prefers the delusion of shrink-wrapped sterile (tasteless) vegetables to something that he watches being pulled from the dirt. So I'd best plant veggies that I know LG and I will eat: onions, green peppers, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, and pumpkin, with lots of marigolds to attract our little bee friends. Carrots don't do well here but I'll have to try for LG. I'll put them next to the marigolds to thwart the rust flies. And although tomatoes have broken my heart year after year, I just have to try again. I once ate a Brandywine tomato like an apple, with just a little salt, and I've been fixated ever since. But the darn thing just won't grow here. (Note to readers in Pennsylvania: Brandywine is an Amish heirloom tomato that's been traced back to 1885. TRY IT. It's native to your region. It will grow, and you will be so happy.)

Current favorite Julia Roberts quote: "I don't want yoga to change my life. I just want it to change my butt."

posted by Marjorie
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Friday, April 25, 2003

All is chaos here. Moving Day is 4 days away and you would never know it. I'm in deep, deep denial. I want to sleep. I want to dance. I want to read a good book. I want to do anything but pack.

The Friday Five:

1. What was the last TV show you watched? Oprah ... I admit it! Oprah and Dr. Phil rule the world. Buffy is up there, too. (Actually, I guess she saves the world. Every week. During primetime.)

2. What was the last thing you complained about? I whined to my friend that I have a melatonin hangover. I've been sleeping terribly, so last night I took melatonin and conked from 10:00 pm to 8:00 am. And now I'm groggy! More chocolate and caffeine ...

3. Who was the last person you complimented and what did you say? We're remodeling our new house. I just met with the builder and told him how impressed I am with the work his guys are doing. They're hard working, motivated, clean-talking, and just plain old good at what they do.

4. What was the last thing you threw away? If you don't count junk mail, I last threw away a 6' tape measure that the Little Guy loves to play with. But the tape is metal and it's not safe. So I tossed it during naptime. Of course he's looking for it now ...

5. What was the last website that you visited? Museum Quality Framing -- hoping to find an online coupon or discount for the many things I dropped off this morning to get framed! (A picture of LG, a crocheted item my sister gave me years ago, the front page of the NY Times from the day LG was born, a photograph of wine glasses from the local newspaper, and a black & white photograph of piano keys taken by an artist friend.)

posted by Marjorie
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Thursday, April 24, 2003

I hate the 3:00 dip. That's when my eyes glaze over, my hands get cold, and I'm so sl-e-e-e-e-epy. I need a nap! But of course I don't take one. I just combat the fatigue with caffeine and chocolate, and then I wonder why I don't sleep well at night any more. Resisting the c&c treatment is so frustrating -- I'm just sitting here staring at my computer, doing absolutely nothing.

posted by Marjorie
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Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Terrific movie alert: Rabbit Proof Fence. Based on the true story of three aboriginal girls who were forcibly removed from their mother and walked 1500 miles to rejoin her. Kenneth Branagh stars as the imperialist white European "Mr. Devil." Absorbing, instructive, and thought-provoking.

posted by Marjorie
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Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Last night I slept in a chair. I couldn't stop coughing and was keeping the whole family awake, so I moved to the basement and curled up in my reading chair with a fuzzy blanket and throw pillow. Today I am stiff and in need of comfort. So I'm wearing my stretchy yoga pants, my favorite blue sweatshirt (so unflattering, the Big Guy calls it The Sack), drinking tea, and wondering how I am going to clean out my attic in the next two hours. I'm scared to go up there. It's mostly empty, but I just know some little friends have made homes in some of the empty boxes. Most frightening, my high school yearbook is up there. Can't look can't look can't look. That was 25 years, 40 pounds, five deaths, one marriage and one baby ago. Not only am I a different person now, but I've been several different people since then. And the old boyfriends! Talk about a Fright Fest.

posted by Marjorie
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Sunday, April 20, 2003

From Telephone Poles and Other Poems:

Seven Stanzas at Easter
by John Updike

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules reknit,
the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that---pierced---died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages;
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen,
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

posted by Marjorie
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Saturday, April 19, 2003

The Friday / Saturday Five:

1. Who is your favorite celebrity? Julia Roberts. I will buy any issue of any magazine any where if she is on the cover. She's beautiful, her laugh is terrific, and she's a great actress.

2. Who is your least favorite? Rodney Dangerfield. He doesn't deserve any respect. Besides, he's just gross.

3. Have you ever met or seen any celebrities in real life? Unfortunately the most famous person I've seen up close is PeeWee Herman. I am desperate for another celebrity sighting so I don't have to give such a pathetic answer when I'm asked this question at parties!

4. Would you want to be famous? Why or why not? No way -- life in a fishbowl sounds horrifying.

5. If you had to trade places with a celebrity for a day, who would you choose and why? No one. I can't think of a day I would enjoy as a celebrity. I wouldn't go to the Oscars because I hate dressing up and public speaking terrifies me. Doing the work of filming a movie or rehearsing a play is just that -- work. Sitting in a hotel room for an entire day of 20-minute interviews to promote my new movie ... b-o-o-o-oring. I'd consider switching with Jennifer Aniston, but even a day at home with Brad Pitt isn't that appealing. I don't like guys who are prettier than me.
posted by Marjorie
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Friday, April 18, 2003

I have DMS -- Depleted Mommy Syndrome. Too many days without a shower, with my shaggy hair, raggy hands and feet, plus a chronic lack of sleep -- I'm just so bottomed out. It's clear I need to recharge my batteries to get through the next couple weeks of packing, moving, and remodeling (plus handling ANOTHER major writing assignment which I landed yesterday). Enter my friend and hairdresser Tim. Tim *always* does exactly what I ask him to do with my hair, unless I'm obviously deluded in which case he does what he wants to and then convinces me it was the right thing. Which is 90% of the time. So today I was in the salon chair recharging the old batteries, which I think was made easier by all the tin foil on my head (the better to receive radio transmissions from the Mothership). There I was, perched in my giant black cape, tin foil antennae on my head, coffee in hand, when another hair guy starts talking to me about meditation, scented candles, the chakra spiraling upward, hearing the hum which is the life force ... I thought about running out the door but the tin foil stopped me. So I threatened him with my hot coffee. "Stop!" I shouted. "I have hot coffee and I'm not afraid to use it!" Only Tim laughed as hard as I did. Then he gave me a gift certificate for a massage. I guess I do need to relax.

Serenity now ...

posted by Marjorie
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Thursday, April 17, 2003

There's something awful about being locked out of your own house. Standing on the cold doorstep thinking of the thousand things you absolutely must get done. Knowing that the teakettle is still warm, your towel still damp, the bed unmade. Hearing the phone ring and just knowing it's the editor you've been trying to reach for the last eight weeks. But there you are in the cold morning air, wearing a too-thin shirt because it's what your toddler wanted you to wear, hungry from the breakfast-less dash from the house, and dreaming, dreaming of more tea.

At least we can be grateful for cell phones, which is something I never thought I would say.

My struggling co-existence of mom + brain is on hold in favor of the mom part. We are moving to a short-term rental in two weeks, plus managing a major remodel of a new house which we will move to in June or July. So I've pushed the pause button on all writing activities until we're settled in the rental. Yesterday was spent choosing a kitchen sink and refrigerator. Who knew the position of a drain hole has so much influence on my family's well-being?

No childcare today, so after preschool and nap I plan to take the Little Guy to the mall -- his current favorite hangout -- and play on the boat and eat way too much candy and probably dinner, too, since the Big Guy has a work dinner planned. We like peanut m&m's, chocolate covered raisins, and yogurt-covered pretzels, all of which sound delightful after this morning's cold adventure.
posted by Marjorie
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Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Ahhh, tax day. Have I mentioned how much I love the IRS? If money can buy love, they must certainly love me.

I just found out this is National Poetry Month. How appropriate. So here is one of my favorite poems from high school, by Ogden Nash.

posted by Marjorie
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Monday, April 14, 2003

Kelly planted a poetry seed in my brain at book club last week. It's grown roots already and is poking up through the cracks more and more every day. She reminded me of something I used to adore and in the blur of early motherhood had forgotten -- Garrison Keillor's broadcast "The Writer's Almanac," a daily 5-minute broadcast of history tidbits and poetry. I actually felt grief-stricken when I realized how many years of broadcasts I've missed, and then was thrilled to find the Web site. You can listen to GK read that day's poem, read the transcript of his broadcast, look at (or listen to) archives, and sign up for daily email.

So. I have decided to highlight a Poet of the Month. I'm tempted to make them all female poets, but good writing is good writing, so I'm going to applaud the poets whose writing I've found meaningful regardless of gender, etc. This month's poet is Howard Nemerov. I first read "Storm Windows" more than 20 yrs ago and its central image has never left me. Nemerov's words are so perfect and he has such a kindly face ... he just had to be first.
posted by Marjorie
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Sunday, April 13, 2003

I've finally lost the war against the law of entropy. Left unattended, my life *will* fall into disarray. My house is a wreck, the cat vomited on the carpet, toys are underfoot everywhere, my refrigerator is a science project, I found the Little Guy playing with the kitty litter scoop, and the Big Guy is hacking and sneezing and leaving a trail of dead KLEENEX® Brand facial tissues all over the house. (Hey, those copyright lawyers are everywhere.) Meanwhile I'm planning a house move, followed by another house move, with a major remodeling project in the works. I spend all day trying to listen to just one message on my answering machine. I spend the next day trying to return that one phone call. Before I know it a week has gone by and I still haven't read last week's Sunday paper. And I haven't showered in three days.

Now, at 9:30, LG is finally asleep and I have a choice: Clean the kitchen? Fold the three baskets of laundry sitting on my bed? Finish the article that needs only one more hour of work? Shower? None of the above. I will write in my blog, watch some trash TV, then sink into oblivion beneath the laundry.
posted by Marjorie
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Saturday, April 12, 2003

If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?

If a stay-at-home-mommy writes a blog and nobody reads it, does she exist?
posted by Marjorie
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Friday, April 11, 2003

The Friday Five! (On Friday, no less.)

1. What was the first band you saw in concert?
I think the first real band I saw was Chicago, with my sister N. I was a junior in high school and she was a sophomore. It was right after one of their singers died, an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound I think. The new singer was awful -- he looked more like Peter Frampton in his tight white jumpsuit. The crowd was very quiet.

2. Who is your favorite artist/band now?
I can't pick just one -- I like too many different types of music!

Unknown Artist Who Deserves To Be Famous -- Martin Sexton wowed me years ago in Boston. I'm still waiting for the world to discover his talent. And his sister Coleen Sexton is right up there. http://www.martinsexton.com/
Jazz -- Roy Hargrove pops my eyes out.
Blues -- I've had a crush on Keb Mo for quite a while. And no one compares to Etta James.
Rap -- Eminem cracks me up.
Pop -- I'm still searching for someone who can write as amazingly as Bruce Springsteen, Bono, or James Taylor. Most of the great writers are in folk now, so I guess I'll have to stick with the oldies but goodies.
Easy Listening -- I admit it, I like Diana Krall. Though Norah Jones is quickly stealing that part of my heart. Kevin Mahogany is amazing.

3. What's your favorite song?

My three desert island songs are:

The Koln Concerts (Keith Jarrett)
Handel's Messiah
"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (U2)

4. If you could play any instrument, what would it be?

I've wanted to play the guitar since forever. But I played the piano seriously in HS and college, and wasn't allowed to touch the guitar for fear of callouses. Since then I guess I just haven't got around to it.

I also wish I could play jazz flute so I could be the next Jean Pierre Rampal.

5. If you could meet any musical icon (past or present), who would it be and why?
That would have to be Bach. His music is so intricately structured, almost mathematical. I would love to observe his process of composition.
posted by Marjorie
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Thursday, April 10, 2003

I spent a very unpleasant afternoon in the public library today, researching magazines that I'd like to write for. It was a tuberculosis ward in there, full of homeless men with loud phlegmy coughs who smelled godawful. I felt so conflicted. On the one hand, I am politically and socially liberal. These people have no place to take a shower, no place to sleep, and frequently nothing to eat. They have no warm place to go on a cold rainy day. And, after all, the public library is just that -- public. But jeez. I'm not kidding when I say I couldn't breathe. I moved to three different tables, each of them cloaked in a fog of cheap alcohol, cigarette smoke, and gorilla body odor. And the coughing!!! So there I was with my expensive new laptop, wearing a Bulova watch, belly comfortably full and smelling like Clinique Happy. My brain collapsed in on itself. I gave up, went back to my half-million dollar home, and tried to think of another way to find the last two years of Family Circle. What's a girl to do?
posted by Marjorie
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Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Big Guy and Little Guy have joined me in my cesspool of snot. Ah, there's an image for you. We are all hacking and sneezing and sniffing. We gave in and had pancakes for dinner tonight -- a comfort food family dinner. Poor LG had a major digestive blowout today, all over his poor nanny who had to go home early to shower and change her poopy clothes. So I didn't get any work done today. It's just as well -- I really don't feel up to it.

I now have six assignments for ePregnancy. I've been in query mode for so long now, and it'll be hard to keep doing that while I actually write articles at the same time. It's not just the volume of work -- it's the mindset. Sort of like auditioning vs. acting -- most people are good at one or the other, but only a very few people can do both well, especially at the same time.

Today would have been my youngest sister's 32nd birthday. But she is forever 12 years old. Rest peacefully, J.
posted by Marjorie
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Tuesday, April 08, 2003

PMS headache. Bad head cold. An icky ending to a very nice day.

The weather today was beautiful -- 65 degrees and a little breezy. I took the Little Guy to the zoo this morning, accompanied by his nanny and our friend with her 3-year-old girl. The monkeys were playful, the elephants cooperative, and the sheep talkative. It was a great time except for when we left, when LG had a complete and total meltdown when he realized we hadn't gone to the snack shop. This is important -- he always goes to the snack shop when we go to the zoo. He gets the pink animal cookies. We have a picnic. Not going was a big deal, and it broke my heart to see him so disappointed.

Spent the afternoon with the Big Guy at opening day of baseball season. We ate kettle corn. Sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." We won.

Tonight went to my book club, a group of very smart, very funny, and very well-read women. I was too embarrassed to admit I hadn't read the book so I just pleaded a bad head cold and didn't talk much. And you know what? I really don't feel good.
posted by Marjorie
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Saturday, April 05, 2003

The Saturday Five (okay, it's supposed to be the Friday Five but I'm late -- so sue me!)

1. How many houses/apartments have you lived in throughout your life? Too many to count! I was a Navy brat until my parents split when I was 11. Oh, let me see ... I just counted 24 in my head, without being too rigorous about it. (I'm counting college as just one.)

2. Which was your favorite and why? #23, the house I'm just now leaving for #24. I've been here for nearly 10 yrs, longer than I've lived anywhere. It's charming and cozy, very light and open, with a great kitchen and a beautiful garden. Alas, it's a little too cozy since Little Guy came along. So off we go to a bigger house, which I can only hope to love half as much as this one.

3. Do you find moving house more exciting or stressful? Why? It's stressful. I like routine and predictability. Plus I have moved more than enough in my lifetime -- I like putting down roots.

4. What's more important, location or price? Location, location, location. My Big Guy has been waging his own personal war on fossil fuel since I've known him, and we've always lived where he can walk or take public transportation to work. Plus we're both committed to living in the city, especially with a child. Our suburban friends look at us with shock and horror for not fleeing to the suburbs when LG was born. But here we have a zoo, and an aquarium, and tons of playgrounds, not to mention friends who are black, white, asian, straight and gay, young and old, Christian and Jewish ...

5. What features does your dream house have (pool, spa bath, big yard, etc.)? A room of my own. Ahhh. Let me say that again. A room of my ownnnnnnnn ...... If BG has his way our house will have white walls with beige furniture. My office/room will have gold walls with a big flowery chair and all kinds of funky stuff hanging from the ceiling. Oh, and I need a garden. This is non-negotiable.
posted by Marjorie
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Friday, April 04, 2003

I have a sore throat that in the space of one hour has progressed from mild scratchiness to full-blown swollen and raw. Now I know why I was so beat yesterday. About all I could do was watch Oprah and take naps -- possible thanks to the Little Guy's 4-hour coma. Naptime is a beautiful thing, and I will be heartily sorry when it disappears.

I'm planning another genealogy trip to Salt Lake City. One family has paid me $500 to research their family tree, and two other families are interested but haven't ponied up yet. I do more than simple research -- I write the family story, use traditional and oddball sources to fill in the blanks, and keep an active eye on eBay for related doodads that could be meaningful. I *love* this kind of work, and if I could figure out a way to make it a real business I would.

Off to blow my nose and watch more Oprah. (TiVo rocks.)
posted by Marjorie
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Thursday, April 03, 2003

It was my turn to be the parent helper in the Little Guy's preschool this morning. Twelve three-year-olds! Each one of them seemed to be having a challenging day -- lots of pushing, grabbing, and crying. After we got home LG took a 4-hour nap, and I feel like I could use one myself.

On the Iraq front, I am better informed since I've started reading the London Times. It's a great balance to the American media, and gives me a more worldwide perspective. I only wish I could read the French newspapers.

posted by Marjorie
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Tuesday, April 01, 2003

If you shaved my head and painted it with a phrenology map, the entire front half of my head would be just one big section with "Little Guy" written on it. The entire back half of my head (where all the headaches start) would say "Iraq." Over my right ear would be a section the size of a quarter. That one would say "Self care." The Big Guy doesn't even get a spot -- he can take care of himself. At least I hope so.
posted by Marjorie
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