Friday, November 30, 2007

Holy Cow!

Justin and I have redefined hectic in our lives.

December used to be miserable because despite my desire to focus on holiday cheer I had to focus on getting grade-related crap done so that the kids could know how much fun they would be allowed to have during their break. Parents would actually call me about this baloney. They'd want me to know off the top of my head, "What's my kid's grade?"

"I don't know off the top of my head." What with 200+ students. "I'll have to look it up for you and add in the test he took, but that was today and I still have to grade it." What with him having taken it at 8 a.m., but the test having included an essay and short answers, and with having proctored three sessions of the test over the day and confiscated two cell phones, I haven't read his test just yet. Jesus.

Now, it's Justin spending 3 of the next 14 nights in our home because he's travelling for interviews so much. At least 4 of the nights we'll be together in Chicago, so that's just 50% of his nights in a strange bed and me taking up our whole bed. Ahhhhhhhhhh! (good and bad ah.)

I'll be nuts with missing him later on, but since it's intermittent, I occassionally like the space and silence.

As for me, I've got four art shows from today til Dec. 11. Which is just 12 days away. Today, at Sundance Elementary School I'm in the Holiday Arts and Crafts Boutique. This show involves driving to Rancho Penasquitos in the rain--praise God, Dorian took my shift at Mo's. At the last minute last night he overheard me asking others if they wanted it.

Then, after Chicago, there's the biggy. Balboa Park's December Nights, which is fabulous and fun and in which I am showing in for the first time. (God willing this is the rainy weekend and next weekend is the dry one.)

On Dec. 11 we Mo's have a show at Betty's, which will be totally fun. In the meantime, I'm doing a Bar Basic show by proxy on Tuesday Night to sell calendars. Godwilling that goes well.

Plus, I'm turning 11 for the 3rd time on Dec. 9 (it's Sunday, I'll be working the Mo's Brunch.) I'm calling the Dec. 10 Mo Christmas Party my birthday party--everyone I know will be there, and the alcohol and food will be flowing freely. Fun!

OK. I gotta jump on the work necessary for this crazy venture. Plus laundry and packing and the like. I'm going to buy the comfy weather-oriented boots in Chicago, because I don't have time to shop here and I also can't buy appropriate weather wear here.

*deep breath* Dive into the deep end!

Can you believe last year at this time I was still on disability and seriously mourning my life and the anniversary of my post-partum depression sans baby because of a miscarriage earlier?

This fun fun busy time is such an extraordinary victory for me.

Blessings on the journey. :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Nightmare of Michael's

Michael's The Arts and Crafts Store has never been a place I have fully understood and always been a place where I have felt slightly overwhelmed.

Shopping there in the three o'clock hour the week after Thanksgiving was no exception.

Sometimes, since I have this flexible artist's schedule and a night job working at a restaurant, I cruise into Michael's in the morning on a whim or with a purpose. It's right by 24 Hour Fitness, so if I time it right I get there when it's just opening and the only people there are stocking the shelves plus a couple of part time school teachers picking up supplies or stay-at-home mom's pushing kids in baby-carriers through the scrapbooking aisle. It's quiet, though minor sensory overload sets in because of all the colors and various craft items on display, and I end up spending hours deciding which one container of three shelves full of glue containers holds the product I need. (Last time I came home with three different adhesives--just in case.)

Today I went there because I know they carry frames and pre-cut mats and I am still preparing for my art shows. I didn't think 3 p.m. would be such a busy time. Don't people have jobs and kids have homework and naps or soccer practice?

No.

The place was overrun. Halloween leftovers were spilling off one wall, scrapbooking supplies have exploded into a six or seven aisle section, Christmas scented candles and wreathes were on SALE! and seemingly every Christmas item that played a carol was in demonstration mode. There were moms, sorority girls, moms with kids, moms talking to kids on their cell phones, kids talking in their outside voices even though we were inside, moms shouting for their kids, sorority girls shouting for their sisters, men looking lost and miserable or fascinated by wood carving tools, older women buying yarn, older daughters annoyed by even older mothers who were taking the framing counter guy's assistance as an opportunity to make a new friend, people who looked like they were coming from the office to pick up something for a holiday party and then go back or to a school function or a neighborhood potluck.

As I squeezed by the loud girl from the loud-and-crude family who told off-color jokes while looking at candles, frames and scrapbook stickers, I said, "Excuse me," and she said, "Sorry," but didn't really move and so we got jostled and I said, "Good."

There are low moments in life. At least for me, many of them happen in giant stores packed with kids and shoppers who aren't good parents.

It's great birth control.

I decided to just grab the frames that were similar to one's I already have in sizes I knew I needed and leave as quickly as possible. Forget the 40% off sale; I needed to escape.

I was going to go to Dick Blick Art Supplies for the mats, but my brain is melty and the Santa Ana wind weather is giving me a headache (plus I couldn't sleep last night), so a little nap is in order. Then work.

I have to have all the supplies I'm going to need for this season by noon tomorrow. After that, no stores until after Dec. 26.

I hate shopping.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Why I Love Sunday Nights

When I was a kid my dad always loved Sunday nights. Even though he wasn't religious, he always thought we should have a special meal together (pot roast, salmon, BBQ anything, Indian food....). I was always stressed because I had homework--which of course I left until the last minute. That habit did not change while I was in college or a teacher; it's nice to have time off and I would pretend I had no responsibilities for a little while. Saturday and Sunday morning would pass until panic forced me to get work done later on Sunday.

But now it's married time.

I switched from night to day shifts at Mo's, and we miss church but when I get home from working Justin lets me rest. He pours me a glass of wine and gives me time to have a warm bath and read a magazine. Luxury! Then we eat the dinner that he made while I was at work and I feel like a princess. I thank Justin, and he says, "You are a princess."

So, I love him. He loves me more than anyone ever has not for any particular reason, just because he does--and because I love him back.

He is my gift for ever.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

*breathe* San Francisco

He really likes it there.

UCSF is starting their first Emergency Department Residency Program with this class. That means Justin would be part of UCSF history--one of the first residents to graduate from UCSF in Emergency Medicine.

They've had residents before from Stanford and other schools, but this would be their own department. Accordingly, the attendings and the Director are very excited. She has started a residency program before--and UCSF certainly wouldn't pick just anyone to do such a thing.

But it's San Francisco.

Justin was cold with his regular jacket on, and had to wear the overcoat we bought for him (with his suit!) to stay warm. And it's only November.

And it's San Francisco. I really like San Francisco. But I really love living here and the new life I'm building here. On the other hand, how better to really reconstruct my life than by moving to a new city.

The Director teared up when she read his personal statement--who wouldn't. Justin's life has shaped him to be an ER doctor. Justin's life has been an extraordinary chain of ordinary, glorious and horrific events sprinkled with just enough love and joy to make him compassionate and lovable.

So will we move to San Francisco?

It remains to be seen. In the mean time, I have a life here that I am tending with as much love as I can muster--which means developing photos, calling clients and preparing art shows. Also, maybe I'll get the house a little bit cleaner before my husband comes home tomorrow.

I want him to be happy.

I want to be happy.

I want us to be happy together. Anywhere, just together.

And I want my own studio space. He can have the living room and the office merged... then both spaces will be clean and organized and he won't have to deal with my art supplies all over the place. He'll like that.

San Francisco.

I would need new shoes.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Justin has left the building!

I love him dearly, but given that my "studio" is actually our living room and I have major shows coming up in the near future, I am so excited about having the apartment to myself for a few days. It's only been 3 hours since I dropped him off at the airport, and already I've gotten more done than I have in a few days... and I can leave it all spread out so as to return to my career after I go to my job--an important distinction, given that I will spend my day making sure people have the right amounts of syrup, butter or salsa to go with their breakfasts.

Meanwhile, our beloved SuperMD Justin is interviewing in San Francisco to become a resident there. Over breakfast we reminisced about meeting our "Happy Marrieds" friends at the White Coat ceremony nearly four years ago. He said he'd burn his short white coats, but after some discussion, he decided he's going to keep the one they gave him and pass the other two down to his Lil' Sib'.

So, wish him luck. It would be a nice ego boost to get into UCSF again, this time for residency instead of medical school, but as much as I am up for an adventure I'm pretty excited about my blossoming photo career and connections down here and hope we get to stay in my favorite little town with the borrow puppies and the gaybors. Not that in San Fransisco we'd have trouble finding gay'bors.

*cue the music* "It's independence day...!"

Friday, November 09, 2007

there should be a quota

But if there were, two doesn't seem like that many. But we could count Oakley's mom. That's three.

I remember in the literature I used to teach there were women who were paid to sit in funeral homes and grieve loudly. I think it was in The Stranger, when his mother died, and he was numb and didn't show great loss and sadness but instead had sex with a woman and went out with friends and shot an Arab on the beach and was at trial. They held it against him, a character defect, that he was cold because he didn't wail at his mother's death.

But we are numb and busy and have to take care of the work before we go tomorrow morning. I go to Mo's and smile while I carry the food out to people and drink three lemon drops and forget for a while and smile and sell calendars and chat with lonely strangers whom I love with my co-workers whom I love and my husband whom I love most of all and differently.

I've decided it's easiest to explain this relationship to the "funeral we have to go to" as a father-in-law--of a set of three. Like Justin's unofficial foster parents. I know his mom Toni was really there, but Sandi and Wayne and Jason and Brian were so THERE... right across the street. Whether or not the titles are legal, Wayne was the most present father figure in Justin's life if you only calculate the physical distance and years. Wayne has known Justin since Justin was 3-years-old. Wayne had the most dirt to tell me, the oldest stories with details. But Sandi, Sandi is the real story teller I will have to mine over the next few years. Olaina--the unofficial daughter-in-law of this woman who took that boy in and let me in too.

We're getting so much practice, I could join those women if that job is still available. The wailing women. But I'd have to live as a four-year-old and a faucet that turns off and on and in another country and probably another time.

I am not four-years-old.

I do not turn my emotions on and off very well--mostly they're always on, flowing out from a well without a bottom. No drought, just floods. Totally visible on my face.

Godwilling we've met our quota for dead parent....

al units for at least this year if not this decade. I'm so sad aboutthelosses I've married in to, I can't imagine the ones I was born into.

*sigh*

I think it's best that I realized that drinking my way out of this is ineffiecient while Iwas in SD, at Mo's, instead of testing it at the river... someone should be sane-ish there. I volunteer.

I see dead people everywhere.

And Lemon Drops are yummy. Especially when Munson makes them. It's like lemonade. With a shugary rim in afancy glass.

I'm leavin ghtem tyhping this way on puruse. ha!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I should buy the T-shirt::

I see dead people everywhere.

Jason's dad died.

That's Justin's best friend's dad. Justin grew up with them. He'd go hang out with Jason when his mom was busy--and especially when his mom was a single mom and working and in school or all that other stuff she did... Sandi, Jason's mom is "Second Mom."

Second Mom.

All the years I've known Justin we've visited Second Mom almost as much as his biological Mom and definitely more than his dad (he lives in Colorado).

So Wayne was the one who told me, while I watched those two boys singing karaoke in Wayne's bar at Havasu Landing, "That's just who they are. They're just having some fun. "

I must have looked so prissy and shocked and totally out of place there--an Honors English high school teacher who brought papers with her for the weekend to grade on the drive up and who didn't drink much at all and kept trying to get her boyfriend? fiance? when was it? to have some water. I was totally surrounded by rednecks--and they would not be offended by the description. They sing the song with gusto "red neck yacht club...." They are them.

And I am used to it now. I am prepared for it. I figured out how to fit in and how to sit it out if that felt better. If I had too much grading to do, I just stayed in the double/triple-wide's living room and worked while they rode around in the sand dunes and drank beer. Watery American beer. I learned to hang out with the girls and help in the kitchen (redneck and Asian girl similarities) and karaoke too.

And Wayne owned the bar. It's the only bar in Havasu landing. He owned the liquor store across the road from it too. As he got older and his diabetes and stuff got worse he sold that. Then the bar. Then they moved to Phoenix--the whole family in different houses in the same neighborhood. Sandi and Wayne. Jason's older sister and her family of four. Jason and Amanda--married this summer. Amanda-Jason's-niece going to college there.

I think the last time I saw Wayne was when he dropped us off after Jason's wedding. That's what he did in his way--took care of us. Made sure the girls got home safely from his bar. Made sure everyone had a drink--and that (most of the time) they bought them.

So, we'll go up to Havasu this weekend (of course, in good form, Justin has a final on Friday), and it'll be different... again.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It's a Sign

For the past few days Justin has repeatedly declared, "We're getting cable tomorrow."

I respond that we are not. "No, we don't need cable. I don't even want to have a TV. We're better off without it. We'd watch too much Law and Order if we had cable again."

"I don't want to watch that stuff. I want to watch the games. We don't get any of the games." Also, those that we do get often are so fuzzy that it's hard to see the ball--especially if it's a baseball game. Sometimes even in basketball it was difficult to tell what was happening and whether the refs were right or not.


Then I tried to watch a video today. Thwarted in every direction--Justin has hijacked the Blockbuster queue and now all my chick-flicks at the top of the queue have been replaced with movies like Old School, Blades of Glory and The Fearless.

Subversively (and with his permission) I took one of those over to the Blockbuster across the street to rent a movie. Once I finally picked a movie about three generations of women in one family--something to help me understand family dynamics and a mother's love, if only through a fictional movie--I waited for the old man cashier to checkout the tattooed-guy's videos. Of course it took too long. Then, despite previous experience to teh contrary, he was unable to check a movie out to me because I did not have my card or picture ID. I have for the past few times we went there, but they kept saying they didn't need it, so I tossed in some laundry and just wandered over with the return-movie from the mail.

Maybe if he'd been polite I would have been calm. But there I was, facing this gray-bearded man wearing a black sports band on his right arm and a Blockbuster polo-shirt and telling him, as he turned the screen to show me he had to see my ID, "I believe you. You don't have to show me the screen. I just don't understand why all the other salespeople CAN do this for me."

"It's for your own protection. Otherwise anyone could come in here and rent a movie from you... Don't you have your ID with you?"

"No, I just live right across the street. I've always brought all that, but all I have is my keys," I held them up for proof. "OK. Fine, whatever. I'll just take that movie back and rent one later."

Then I called Justin to demand access to the Blockbuster account so I could print out our monthly free-movie coupon. I was home by the time we were pulling the conversation to a close and he said, "Where are you? I'm at home now."

"Oh, well then I'm yelling at you from the other side of the window."

Sheepishly I entered and we did our exchange of grouchiness and forgiveness, and I found The Crying Game (I've not yet seen it) waiting for me from the mail.

Then, I watched the opening credits and the TV screen turned to two giant black blocks with a thin colorful stripe cutting horizontally across the screen.

Once again, frustrated fuming.

Tragically, starting and restarting the video, washing the DVD and trying again, and then trying to just watch TV we figured out it IS the TV.

It is the TV.

The TV is dead.

I want to take it out back and bury it in the dumpster, then put something pretty and useful on the shelf place this monstrosity of a 15-year-old box fills.

Justin of course is visualizing something I would suppose involves a flat screen.

Given that we can watch videos on our laptops and listen to NPR and read the news and even watch some reruns on our laptops too, I think I have pretty good ammunition for living in a TV-free household.

He argued for surround sound and sporting events, but I said, "Surround sound? Yeah, right!" And swept my arm around the room in-manner--of-Vanna-White displaying five speakers surrounding our living room. "We've lived here for more than a year and you still haven't hooked the wires up to those speakers!"

On the upside, he gave me a pity hug for the no-TV-afternoon I am experiencing, despite my lazy desires. On my own upside, I am still feeling pretty driven to get stuff done and the distraction of the TV is dead.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

What separates him from a kindergarten teacher...

Upon returning to our apartment after walking the dogs, I saw our landlord outside sweeping the sidewalk and picking up the debris of the palm trees that had been trimmed during my one hour absence.

"Hey there!" I greeted him.

"That's not your car is it?" he pointed to a beige sedan parked under the trees and next to the no parking--tow away signs.

"No, I'm over there," pointing down the street to my safely parked car.

"Do you know whose car this is?"

"No."

"I'd like to have them thrown out. I'd like to kick their butt. They're lucky they didn't have it towed."

And thus the rampage of the no-dogs-allowed-not-even-to-visit, immaculate-gardener, holiday-decorator-extraordinaire presents its morning greeting. Happy to be cleaning, but don't you dare cross him, don't you dare break a rule.

Former Marine.

So we like living here--it's clean and quiet and the rules aren't that hard to follow. Also, living under the fear of breaking the household rules is relatively familiar to us both, so it's not that hard to do.

That eerie orange glow....

From Oct. 21 to about Oct. 27 we looked for it in person or on TV--the signal that fire was getting too near.

The smoke this year I think kept even our consummate gardener and groundskeeper apartment manager from spending too much time outdoors--even his morning routine of sweeping and weeding and tending the plants was interrupted. I wondered whether Halloween might actually pass us by without decorations this year. If whether from exhaustion or respect he would choose not to cheerfully inundate our yard with holiday symbols.

But yesterday morning he did it--he covered each of our porch light with little lunch-sack size orange bags with white markings that make them look like carved pumpkins.



Apparently he has gotten over the worry that they might be a fire hazard.

Unfortunately, they emit that orange glow we have grown to fear.



So there it is--our apartment building marching forward instead of stagnating in the past of even just yesterday.