Thursday, May 14, 2009

Potty Break

This morning
between packing his lunch and her snack
and my lunch

And making sure that her dance bag,
with patent leather shoes, tights, hairbrush, bobby pins, hair gel, and elastics,
stood ready and waiting for the growing feet
that would inhabit the not-so-tiny-anymore shoes,
yellow-sequined costume a bright spot in a dingy foyer

Checking that his lovey
and extra socks, extra pants, extra underwear, and diaper "just in case"
were safely packed away in his backpack

Jackets on hooks, ready for bodies
Shoes beneath, breathing in anticipation of being worn hard and long

And feeding all of us breakfast--
my whirlwind dance in the 9'x9' kitchen,
Fruity Cheerios down from the top of the fridge, plastic bowls in the cupboard, two down, one gets cereal, one gets cereal and milk
Fiber One, carefully weighed and measured, slurped with a spoon in between
making coffee, filling a sippy cup with milk and a plastic tumbler with water--

"Yes, it's yours."
"Yes, it's fresh."
"Wow, four cheerios stuck together. How about that."
"Yes, you have more stickers on your chart. But it doesn't matter. It's not a competition."

--opening the cereal bar, throw away the wrapper, wipe up the crumbs, dishes in the sink, no, dishwasher; coffeepot churning out the precious deep brown velvet that will get me safely from point A to point B to point C this morning

(Do I have a towel to shower at the gym? Are my sunglasses in my purse? Did I pack enough lunch? Do I need to stop for gas? What is the weather supposed to be today? Will she be cold in shorts? Is it okay for him to get paint on that shirt? What's happening for dinner? How many points do I need to leave for a trip through Wendy's?)

I wanted to sit for one second


And release

(Please let me sit. Please let me just....)

"Yes, I'll untie the knot."
"Yes, your snack is in your bag."
"I won't forget."
"Yes, I want to see that."
"Yes, you are coming with me this morning."
"Yes, we will be on time."

(Thirty seconds without a question. Please.)

"It's downstairs."
"I think it's on your bed."
"No we will not be late."
"No, those aren't your pretzels. Yours are in your lunchbox. Get the food out of the bathroom right now!"

(Just ten seconds?)

"All right! I'm coming!"

Seven seconds. Not long enough.

Thank god I hadn't drunk the coffee yet.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Another list of 100 novels

This list is from an NPR writer. He says that these were the most influential in his life. I thought I'd add my two cents, and possibly some more to the list (it's a slow day at work). He welcomes comments. We'll see.

I'm starring what I've read, and putting plusses next to what I want to read.

1. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce*--this would be close to the top for me too. Very formative in its expression of alienation
2. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald*
3. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger*--one of my all-time favorites
4. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad*
5. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley*
6. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck*--ick. But necessary, I guess. I would have put Of Mice and Men instead.
7. Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner+--someone in the office was just talking about this one. Up until then I'd never heard of it.
8. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov*
9. Humboldt's Gift, Saul Bellow
10. A Passage to India, E.M. Forster
11. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf*--I think A Room of One's Own was more influential, for me personally
12. U.S.A. Trilogy, John Dos Passos+
13. The Untouchable, John Banville
14. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee*--my favorite in 7th grade
15. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike
16. All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren+
17. American Pastoral, Philip Roth
18. Beloved, Toni Morrison*--groundbreaking
19. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
20. Of Human Bondage, W. Somerset Maugham
21. Light in August, William Faulkner*
22. My Antonia, Willa Cather
23. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
24. A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest Gaines*--this was the Cincinnati Reads selection one summer. I heard Gaines speak. I might have even blogged about it. Great novel!
25. Rabbit, Run, John Updike
26. Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis
27. The Moviegoer, Walker Percy
28. The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
29. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath*
30. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
31. All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy
32. The Sportswriter, Richard Ford
33. The Lay of the Land, Richard Ford
34. Sons and Lovers, D.H. Lawrence*--one of my first modern loves
35. Aloft, Chang-Rae Lee
36. Appointment in Samarra, John O'Hara
37. Atonement, Ian McEwan+
38. So Long, See You Tomorrow, William Maxwell
39. Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson
40. Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis
41. The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy
42. Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger--tried but couldn't get into it
43. A Soldier of the Great War, Mark Helprin
44. The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
45. Animal Farm, George Orwell*--assigned. Ick. prefered Brave New World (different author, similar concept)
46. Charlotte's Web, E.B. White*--seriously? not so earth shattering for me.
47. The Good Soldier, Ford Maddox Ford
48. The Secret Sharer, Joseph Conrad
49. Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy
50. The Day of the Locust, Nathaniel West
51. Crossing to Safety, Wallace Stegner+
52. Felicia's Journey, William Trevor
53. Ironweed, William Kennedy
54. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry
55. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, John LeCarre
56. In the Lake of the Woods, Tim O'Brien
57. A Coffin for Dimitrios, Eric Ambler
58. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig
59. The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk
60. The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara
61. The Human Factor, Graham Greene
62. Tarzan of the Apes, Edgar Rice Burroughs
63. Paris Trout, Pete Dexter
64. Howard's End, E.M. Forster*
65. The Killer Inside Me, Jim Thompson
66. The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje
67. Portnoy's Complaint, Philip Roth
68. Fabulous Small Jews, Joseph Epstein
69. Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald*--read half. Again, just okay.
70. Roscoe, William Kennedy
71. Charming Billy, Alice McDermott
72. Lord of the Flies, William Golding*--I liked thsi one more after teaching it.
73. Razor's Edge, W. Somerset Maugham
74. Lying Awake, Mark Salzman
75. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
76. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
77. Light Years, James Salter
78. Black Dogs, Ian McEwan
79. Spartina, John Casey
80. A Fan's Notes, Frederick Exley
81. Scoop, Evelyn Waugh
82. Blood of the Lamb, Peter De Vries
83. Empire Falls, Richard Russo
84. The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
85. Double Indemnity, James Cain
86. The Sunlight Dialogues, John Gardner
87. The Ginger Man, J.P. Donleavy
88. Seize the Day, Saul Bellow
89. Rabbit Is Rich, John Updike
90. Deliverance, James Dickey
91. The Bird Artist, Howard Norman
92. Pnin, Vladimir Nabokov--never read but I dated a guy who did and he wouldn't shut up about it.
93. City Boy, Herman Wouk
94. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, John le Carre
95. Advise and Consent, Allen Drury
96. A Man in Full, Tom Wolfe
97. Sophie's Choice, William Styron
98. Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut
99. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
100. A Rumor of War, Philip Caputo

Sparser than I would have thought, in terms of what we have in common. Here are some I would have added:

The Hundred Dresses, Eleanor Estes
Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
Six Characters in Search of an Author, Luigi Pirandello
Hamlet, Shakespeare
Ulysses, James Joyce
Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Crystal Cave, Mary Stewart
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Going to Meet the Man, James Baldwin
Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett
The Lake of Dead Languages, Carol Goodman
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Henry and June, Anais Nin
Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller
The Prestige, Christopher Priest
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
Contact, Carl Sagan

I'm sure there are others; these will have to do for now.

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Times, they are a-changin'

The Globe? What's next--the Post? The NYT? Are all dailies doomed? True, I only get the Sunday edition of the WP, as it's the only one I have time to read in full. I get the rest of my news fix online or on the radio.

Silver lining--better for the trees?

Still processing this one....

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Two comments from the peanut gallery

Two comments from my personal peanut gallery that had me in stitches today as we perused Eastern Market in historic Capitol Hill.

(At a coffee shop. Sign on the door reads "Restrooms for customers only." I stood in line to buy coffee so that my kids could pee--oh the sacrifice!)

Sam: (pointing to a giant jar on the counter in front of the register) What are those?

Me: (distracted) Those are... those are...

Sydney: I want a cookie! I want a muffin. Or a brownie? Can I please have one?

Sam: Mommy! What are those?

Me: Those are... dog biscuits.

Sam: Oh. (beat) Are they for dogs or for people?

Young man standing in front of me in line (who is clearly too young to have children): [snicker, giggle, snicker]


(Walking back to the car. Sam is tired so his father is carrying him. They are a few steps ahead of me. They are both in short-sleeved navy blue polo shirts and khaki bottoms--Sam in pants and his dad in shorts.)

Me: Hey! You and Daddy match!

Sam: (looking backward at me over his father's shoulder, he thinks for a minute) Well, our heads match, and our shirts match. But our bottoms are different.

Neither comment reads as funny as it struck me at the time, but they were both hysterical. Three-year-old are completely without guile and completely literal, in a refreshing kind of way.