Monday, April 18, 2011

Landing on Mars

The other day, the family got to talking about space exploration and progress and how no one has ever been to Mars--yet.

"But they will, soon, though," said Si.

"Yes, they probably will--I bet in your lifetime people will land on Mars," said M.

"And I'll get to watch it! On HDTV 5!!!"

Pause. Cough. "Or, you know, you could BE one of the people who lands on Mars," said M, mildly.

"Oh. Yeah. I guess I could," said Si. Pause. "Or I could watch it on TEEVEE!"

My son: not a bold adventurer. Also, I think the prospect of imagining himself as an adult is not that thrilling to him. He'll watch the Mars landing on TV because that's what kids do, and he's a kid. The idea that someday he might be 35 and an astronaut doesn't really fit into his brain.

In contrast, Helen loves to imagine herself and everyone else older--"when he is 13, how old will I be? Nine? I'm going to be nine years old? Will he be in high school? Where will I be? THIRD grade?"

Even she, though, delighted to imagine, dedicated to improving herself at any skill that gets thrown her way ("Once I get over my fears, right, Mom?")--even she can't really picture herself on Mars. I mean, currently she's jump-jump-jump-jump roping up and down the sidelines at a baseball game, wearing a sleeveless dress and shouting "I'm toast! I'm a piece of TOAST!" while everyone around her huddles in blankets and down jackets--but if I were to entice her inside with some markers and give her a writing prompt, "How would I get to Mars?"--even she probably wouldn't come up with a drawing where she spends eight to twelve years in school, loading up on math and technology courses while angling viciously for those key summer internships at Lockheed Martin and NASA and engaging in competitive personal sports activities to prove her moral and physical fitness for the task.

I mean, that's the whole disconnect problem with careers, right? Si is probably right not to imagine himself too far--I suspect he intuits a lot more about the adult world than he lets on, and knows he's better off getting to it when he gets to it.

Or maybe that's what I tell myself since that's what I did, and now look at me. In complete professional fulfillment. Now I write things like this (warning: clicking here will violate the thin veneer of anonymity preserved on this blog--so, er, proceed accordingly).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Heading Home

For the past three days I've been attending a work-related event in Minnesota, and tomorrow I head home and I AM SO GLAD. Even though the weather has been spectacular, the event has been (as ALWAYS) much better than I was expecting (although there was one brief moment at the final banquet tonight at which I happened to sitting at a table all by myself after it seemed that everyone else had been seated and I actually considered getting up to go pee and never coming back)(then a handful of the few people I knew at the event happened to come in THANKYOUPLEASE)--still, I miss everyone at home so badly. I will be so glad to get home, even though my day tomorrow entails two airplane flights, a few hours at work, a screech-over-to-the-school pickup followed by a hasty makeshift dinner from whatever happens to be in the fridge after my being gone for three days, a school meeting, and then a 4th-grade musical performance in which my nonmusical child somehow has a singing solo (which to my knowledge he has not yet sung, ever).

A few years ago, when I'd travel for work, I'd miss the kids in a visceral, physical way. I'd be sitting in a conference, starting to daydream a little, and imagine Helen sitting in my lap in her hot, sticky, gummy baby way. It was the most comforting thing imaginable (and it helped that it was only imagined, and was not actually accompanied by a real live child stage whispering in my ear and shrieking at inopportune moments and demanding to leave the moment things starting going well).

Now I miss the kids and M differently. Sometimes I get visions of disaster, but these mostly happen while I'm still at home, packing. Sometimes I miss them at night--but not always, because I'm usually completely knackered by the end of the day and secretly relieved not to have to nag anyone about brushing their teeth or engage in end-of-the-day conversation. When I miss them most is as I walk around--the waterfront here is beautiful, and I ache with the wish that they could all be here with me, experiencing it too. Or in the evening, if I'm not totally knackered, the hotel room feels empty and cold and I get furiously bored, despite the surfeit of books I inevitably bring.

So: tonight I am chew-my-arm-off bored, and tomorrow I will be snowed under with noise and needs and activities and people and I will probably look back on this very moment that I am writing in and feel a little bit wistful.

But not too much. Not too much, at all.

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's a Half Moon!*

Blogging is like skiing: every time I manage to carve a little time out of my life to do it, I start stumbling over myself with excited vows about how SEE THIS ISN'T SO HARD and I'M GOING TO START DOING THIS MORE I SWEAR.

And then I get home and fall over on the bed, too exhausted to even unload all the wet and muddy gear from the back of the car.

Or something like that. The simile may have broken down at some point.

Maybe it's more like this: it sure is a lot easier to do when I do it regularly. Turn on the computer, log on, type up a little report about the state of my life right now: easy. Unless it's been two weeks, and then I'm torn between trying to catch the interwebs up on the fascinating minutiae of my life, and thinking, eh, it really wasn't all that interesting anyway--why do I bother with this, again?

For example: for about three weeks I've been listening to a biography of Queen Isabella (the She-Wolf of France, or the one who populated the weak royal line with Mel Gibson's baby, for those of you who, like me, draw much of your understanding of history from movies) (Braveheart was totally wrong on that one, BTW: she was about 11 and still in France when William Wallace was killed). I keep wanting to tell you guys all about it--how wronged this woman was. Also, lively details about how much/little money has changed since the 14th century: a jeweled crown given to Isabella as a gift was valued at about 40 pounds, which seems correctly low; what, then, to make of the modern-sounding bills such as 4,000 pounds spent on drink for one weekend (!) (for a crowd, but still--that's some party)? Or the trip to France that cost approximately 140,000 pounds? It makes our own expenditures of the past year seem positively spartan.

This is all quite possibly interesting--but is it really more interesting than all of the things I don't talk about? Like the fact that my parents were here for a week, or that we had our first-ever-in-the-new-kitchen dinner guests a few weeks ago, or that yesterday I had three elementary school parents over to bake muffins for our school's Muffins with Mom AND at the same time had three unrelated and one related but not of the household children over--and that I was both shy and unaccustomed to so much commotion, and also happy. We used to have crowds and craziness all the time--it was the way I finally hit upon of accommodating my introvertedness while not getting too isolated. Well, one way, anyway. And I missed it, and I am looking forward to doing this more. (And I am secretly hoping that getting back into the hosting scene will lead to the resurgence of other dormant parts of my life, such as the "having and seeing close friends reguarly" part, or the "being part of an artistic community" part. We'll see. Those involve more of a focused effort, which is difficult to pull off when I'm working full-time and being a baseball mom. Grog.)

Anyhow. I hope to be coming here more.

*A little boy out for a walk with his mom turned around and shouted this at me today. I'm not sure if he was just spreading the joy, or if he thought I might not be paying proper attention.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I do not like it, Sam I Am

I do not LIKE April Fool's Day with ham. Or any other meat, or bread, or...

Aaaand that was really just a way to get the obligatory April Fool's Day nonsense out of the way. I suppose it is self-evident that as someone who thrives on routine and predictability, I would hate April Fool's Day pranks like the plague, but I still don't like being reminded that I am a dour and literal sourpuss.

Moving on. I will try not to think about how my poor mom is stuck alone at home with the kids on this potential-for-giddy-excess day (the kids' school district has managed to schedule Spring Break so that it covers April Fool's Day every year since we've been here. Coincidence? I think not...)

I'm beginning to settle into the new workspace, or more specifically, into the joy of being a shortish drive from work. Yesterday I rode my bike in, and although it was not the glorious exercise in joy that riding my bike to the old workspace was, the upside was that I wasn't toast by the end of the day. Six miles is pretty manageable. Yes, fine, I felt a bit like Ralph Nader as I rode my ancient, dusty bike through the Land O the Office Parks and Warehouses with my work pants tucked into my socks. But it felt like it could become a regular, if infrequent, part of my life. Once again I can be a bike commuter, with all the sweaty virtue that implies.

We're beginning to settle into the house space, too. It has been a blessed relief to give up on our irritating and needy contractor and just hire people who show up when promised, work hard, and finish the job with a minimum of fuss and drama (who knew? now we're wondering why the hell we stayed with the other guy for so long. Pity really isn't a viable business model, or shouldn't be). The trim, for example, was finished in a day. There are still unfinished spots, but we've brought out the furniture and arranged it as though things were done, and psychologically that makes a ton of difference. Plus: spring is nigh.

We finished up our ski season last weekend. Thank god. I'm all for skiing, which is good, considering how much time and resources we direct to the industry, but man, it's nice to have weekends back without the guilt of feeling like we should be spending them driving into the mountains to do something that involves so much lugging of heavy, finger-pinching equipment, with the added bonus of the day possibly ending in death/ serious injury. On the last two runs of the day, Helen finally talked herself into letting go of my hand while she skiied the bunny slope (note: I bribed her), and skiied down the hill faster than I could keep up. That's my girl, I thought, grinning madly as I chased the little pink snowpants down to the lift.

So: that was March. M took the kids to the creek at the bottom of the hill (nature exposure: check), we watched the moon rise as a family (we drove to Cherry Creek Park on the night of the full moon, and it was touching and heartening to see what a popular activity this was, with cars and pedestrians lined up all along the roads on the west edge of the park) (moon rise: check), I went for a hike in the Greenland Open Space on my day off (hike for me: check), and I struggled mightily through one of the books on my bedside TBR pile (I'm going to have to give this one a fail. It's been two months now, and I'm still on the second chapter of book 2).