Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Through my window I can see across the street to the nondescript office building, which, dull as it is, still reflects the trees in its sleek black windows. In the median of the divided road stand a row of bushes with deep red flowers of some sort. They look brushy and tough – not delicate flowers. There are two trees shading my window, thankfully. Sitting in a cubical next to ceiling to floor glass gives you a good view, but you suffer the fluctuation of temperature. Right now those trees are producing a very pleasant deep green shade. I love shade. The clouds are smeared along the horizon but building up to billowing storm clouds further up in the sky. Despite the traffic I can still hear birdsong.

I watch the cars pass and I wonder about the lives of the people inside. Are they boring or interesting? Do they have fond memories of childhood? Are they obnoxious? How many of them are murderers? You see, I figure some of them have to be murderers. When I lived in New York, I liked to go for walks in the evening, just as people were turning on their lights. Because this was New York, I would usually catch glimpses of bookshelves as I walked past. I found that very comforting. You don’t see that here. Suburbs aren’t comforting in that cool, intellectual way. They offer instead a haven without connection: planned communities, cul-de-sacs, community pools, a common belief in keeping your yard well-groomed and your cars washed. You may or may not know your neighbor, but together you present a united front against the messy, obsolete suburban sprawls of earlier years, now revealing their age.

You might think that I don’t like suburbs from what I just said, but that is not the case. We live in an obsolete sprawl, and I would prefer to live in the more polished neighborhoods with fresh sidewalks and shiny black street lamps, the sort of neighborhood where young women roll out the baby strollers in the evenings and the cars have to drive slowly. DramaQueen envies her best friend, who has a huge, beautifully decorated house with a pool. She would much rather go there than have her friend over to our house. I remember feeling the same way as a girl, once I got a glimpse of some of my classmates’ homes. Ours was pokey and dingy with no redeeming features at all. Where there was carpet, I wanted yards of glossy wood. Where there was scrubby grass I wanted a smooth velvety lawn. I wanted to trade up my parents as well, for some who were more sophisticated and younger.

Dear Husband has been feeling sad lately, as he watches DramaQueen become more independent. He feels the relationship shifting as he’s gently nudged out of the center. I don’t feel this so much. Mom’s remain the go-to person by default. Still, I notice the contrast between her and Firecracker. DramaQueen is growing less inclined for goodbye hugs and kisses, happy to spend time away from home with friends, but very protective of Firecracker when they are somewhere together. Firecracker is still intensely affectionate, uneasy without her family, particularly uneasy when her big sister is away. She remains very much a little girl, eager to curl up on my lap for a cuddle.

I was hoping I might stumble upon some concluding thoughts, but I haven’t the time to ponder further if I ever want to actually post this. Make of it what you will.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Thank You God for Air-conditioning

I haven’t felt much up to blogging, tweeting or hopping onto FB. I’m navigating summer. I’m not a big fan of summer. Well, I am for about a week. Then the full force of a Southern summer begins to hit – sweltering humidity. The air clings to you like Saran Wrap. The burgeoning grass and greenery feel itchy as you walk through them. The trash can ripens. The mosquitoes, ants, flies and unknown flying and crawling entities multiply. The playgrounds sizzle. The pools are crowded. Under no circumstances do I spend any leisure time outdoors in the summer. It’s too miserable.

So this would be a perfect time, you would think, to hop online and poke about. Instead I’ve been downloading free books onto my Sony Reader and watching Roswell Season 3. And of course the girls are free agents in the summer. This weekend Firecracker used her birthday money to purchase Zhou Zhou Pets. These are toy hamsters that whir about their little hamster abodes, chittering to each other in a way I doubt hamsters ever manage. They wheel about the kitchen until they snag in the shag rug in front of the sink, when they begin to sound distressed and I have to rescue them. I thought the cats might chase them, but they seem indifferent, or perhaps too lazy. We also purchased a game called Chess without Stress, which I can tell you really overstates its claims. Firecracker and I began snarling at each other and never did finish a game. I was reminded of why I’ve always avoided chess – I can’t remember the rules from one minute to the next, and strategy bores me. Whatever part of the brain chess is supposed to activate donned flip-flops and a Hawaiian shirt and kicked back with a martini years ago.

Go ahead, click above to satisfy your curiosity about this little critters.

Dear Husband is annoyed that I never mention him on here. I’m not sure why. He is a continual source of entertainment. His recent transformation to Emergent still has me rather bemused. I suppose I’m wondering if this is a temporary stop on the line to who knows where, or perhaps back to the original station. He has also developed a great affection for Glee, although that isn’t so unexpected. He has always like the quirky. Though he still doesn’t like Torchwood and refuses to even think about Dr. Who. Still, he’s a good man.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summer and Broken Bells

Summer stretches before me straight and flat as a North Dakota highway. I feel pretty much like jumping in the backseat and taking a snooze until the scenery improves. I’ve always had a problem with summer. While the other kids were exuberant about free days of swimming and playing, I was faced with the enforced isolation of Bleak House. Now the countdown to summer stirs vestigial anxiety.

This summer I put the girls in a summer camp at an indoor rock climbing facility. Yesterday DramaQueen showed me how she can belay Firecracker, while Firecracker scooted up the wall like a little monkey. I imagine myself clinging forlornly while someone tries to talk me down. A number of dogs hang about, some of them as large as ponies, I swear. DramaQueen tells me they are assistive dogs trained to help climbers in distress. Firecracker loves them. I stooped to pet one of them and Abby grinned up at me, “He smells like dog.”

I used my birthday money to buy a digital reader. Any purchase over $100 makes me nervous. What if something better comes along? What if I didn’t do enough research? I finally settled on a Sony Daily Edition, but of course I’m still looking it over anxiously. There’s a bit of glare – will that bother me? B&N has better free books – would the Nook be better? But I don’t like the Nook’s interface. Still, you can switch fonts on a Nook. And the Kindle, well, I can’t check out books from the library on a Kindle. And on it goes. Meanwhile I’ve found the places to download books in the public domain, and that makes me very happy. Some of them are out of print and too eccentric to be on a library shelf in our little suburb. And then I found a writer named Cory Doctorow, who releases digital editions of his books for free on the same day as the print editions. I have not yet read any of his works, but I found that he has a daughter named Poesy Emmeline Fibonacci Nautilus Taylor Doctorow. Show off.

Now, for some music. One of my current favorite songs: