Thursday’s To-Do List

December 28, 2006

Buy Spray N Wash to try to salvage favourite sweater
Call Kaiser
Call Nancy to report Visiting Teaching
Clean house including the ground-in cereal
Clip Little Red’s nails
Cut Little Red’s hair
Find United mileage number
Get out sweaters/winter clothes, put summer clothes in storage
Get United number for Little Red
Make mashed potatoes to complete supper
Pack for Chicago
Return movie to Blockbuster
Send card to Shelli
Sweep up leaves on back porch
Wash colours (and final white load)

Well, we leave for LAX in 8 hours and there are a couple of things not done, but thanks to Paul most of them are and I think all the important stuff will be done in time. As for what’s left, I think I’ll just adopt the classic SoCal philosophy that “it never rains” and not worry about the leaves. Cheers, y’all, see you next year!



December 27, 2006

Today was the first day we weren’t housebound either making phone calls or waiting for someone. I’m pretty sure that being cooped up was negatively affecting our moods and with all the things that have been stressing me out and going wrong lately I really didn’t need one more thing making me feel any more depressed. The sun was shining, it was 65 degrees, and we were ready to brave the mall two days after Christmas.

But we are smart. We go to the mall when it first opens — no crowds! I went with purpose and quickly found the first item on my list: next year’s Christmas pyjamas for the boys. I had to assume that number 2 will grow like number 1 did, but that worked out well because then I could get the ones I really liked best. With tax the whole purchase was $7.56. I never did find the second item on my list: thermals for Little Red for our upcoming trip to Chicago. What was I thinking? This is LA. It didn’t matter. I left feeling better than I have in days. It was a small thing, but for a tightwad like me, putting seven dollars on the credit card sure brought me some cheer to combat the small things have been so overwhealming and sad.

Brotherly Love

December 27, 2006

Yesterday while waiting for the plumber (because that how everyone celebrates Boxing Day/Kwanzaa/the Day After Christmas,) Little Red and I were lounging around reading stories. He leaned over to my belly, pulled up my shirt, and said, “I found Little Red!” I laughed, because since the day we found out we were having another boy we’ve asked him what his brother’s name is and without hesitation he consistently answers “Little Red.” He spent the next ten minutes spontaneously kissing my belly and saying “I love you, brother.” Maybe all of our brother talk is paying off. I just hope he remembers how much he loves his brother when he has to share our attention.

The Night Before Christmas

December 24, 2006

‘Twas the Night before Christmas
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
And I felt like a louse

Our kitchen, most of all
Was silent and still
And would remain so,
For Tuesday, until.

Despite my late night
I was up with the son
I got a last-minute plea
To teach nursery, fun!

(Not long into the class
Did I understand
The anxiety Little Red
Presented at hand

Those older kids
Really are ready to leave
And when they left early
I sighed, a reprieve!)

While planning the lesson
I wanted to bake
And first I must clean
But the sink a problem did make

A most horrid morning
Of plunging and more
Until after church
We called the landlords, a chore!

We ruined their Christmas
It wasn’t our fault
They seemed to forget
Our plans came to a halt

We had to go out
To get us some dinner
The ox was in the mire,
Please don’t think I’m a sinner!

A humbling experience,
A reminder, most of all,
That while today was so sad
At least we aren’t in a stall!

The very first Christmas
More humble than this
I can get over it
And I musn’t hiss.

Christmas is not
About everything being right, so
Happy Christmas to all
and to all a Good Night!

This is How Gilligan’s Island Started… (December Date 2)

December 24, 2006

I was a little nervous putting Little Red to bed last night before 7pm. He was tired, but he really fought it. I was worried that he’d give our teenage babysitter a night to remember, but after fighting through the whole ritual he lay in his bed obligingly and didn’t wake up until 6:30 this morning. Melissa was asleep when we returned, although we were home way earlier than we had thought, and was already gone when we came downstairs this morning. I guess I’ll have to pay her at church.

It was Paul’s company holiday party last night. We celebrated on a dinner cruise in Long Beach Harbor. We planned for holiday traffic to aggravate Saturday night traffic and left with plenty of time to spare to get through the city, we sure didn’t want the boat to leave without us! We were 45 minutes early. We were not the first ones there.

Paul’s boss, whom I had met once before, greeted me with a warm hug and everyone was very friendly. Yes, they had already begun drinking, but I could tell that they were nice people anyway. Before too long we boarded the boat, not without a nervous look from Paul’s boss’ wife who took one look at my belly and expressed concern that the only thing that could ruin our night would be if I went into labour. I assured her we were still months away from worrying about that.

By chance we found ourselves sitting at what was dubbed “the roudy table” before we had hardly begun our salads. It was facilitated by the alcohol but Paul and I were not the wet blankets at the end of the table. I found myself participating in the conversations and having a great time. I’ve come a long way in social settings; the old wallflower in me is definitely wilting.

The highlight of the evening came at the bar waiting for the boat, when my husband’s boss pulled me aside to tell me how much he appreciates my husband and how glad he is to have Paul on the team. The rest of the night was a lot of fun, but hearing that was the best Christmas present so far!

December Date 1

December 24, 2006

Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when I entered the staff washroom at work to see my name on the door. As I was moving tables after my first hour of work my boss pulled me into her office. “You probably know by now,” she said, “but I wanted to congratulate you and let you know that you were our teacher of the month for November.” Before that day I was unaware that we even had a Teacher of the Month, but with our District SomethingorOther High Honcho visiting I was mildly surprised. And why was it me? I didn’t ask, but I’m sure it was fairly arbitrary as we have some really stellar teachers but suspect it had something to do with me being the one to enthusiastically teach our one Autistic student.

I certainly didn’t expect anything from the recognition, but Hermineh handed me two tickets to the Laugh Factory as a reward for my hard work. I was really excited, we’ve been wanting to go there! (No, not to heckle Michael Richards…)

We finally got babysitting arranged and reservations made and set out on our first real date in so long (um, I’m afraid to admit it may have been our first real date in 16 months) and went out December 15th. We were really fortunate to get in on a night where we were familiar with a couple of the performers (Paul was, I only knew one of them.)

The emcee for the evening was a morning news anchorman from the local ABC network. He was there promoting Spark of Life, the Toys for Tots-like campaign that his network does with the LAFD. He was about as funny as you can imagine, but entertaining enough given that he was totally out of his element. The funniest thing, though, was that he took off after introducing the first act. A local radio personality happened to be there (I guess he had given away a lot of tickets for that night as part of a promotion on his station) and filled in for the rest of the show.

Paul Rodriguez was the first performer. I wasn’t familiar with him before, but Paul was – I guess the guy’s been doing standup for the past 20 years or something. He was really funny. He did a good job of making us laugh and making us think. We even got to chat with him for a bit outside while waiting for the valet and he was just as cool as just some guy (and then he hopped into his Porsche.)

Alonzo Bodden followed, and he was someone we had watched on Last Comic Standing, and rooted for as he was funny without being too crude. He was so much funnier in real life than he was on tv! He did a great set and left us all in stitches.

He was followed by a girl whose set was so poor and material so inappropriate I won’t list her name. She was clearly having an off night, but I don’t pity her as even on a good night I don’t see many people laughing about her childhood molestation.

Alan Stephan finished the night. He, too, was a comedy veteran and had a very entertaining set. We talked with him outside while waiting for our cars. He was very casual and comfortable. Paul made reference to something he had said in the set and made a quick quib which made Alan laugh and say, “I’ll have to remember that and use it next time.” I always knew my husband was funny, but it was pretty cool to hear a professional comedian ask to use something of his as material.

It was a wonderful evening, capped by a report from our babysitters that Little Red did not make a peep the whole night. We had tricked him with an early nap, earlyish supper, and an early party into going to bed early. And it worked!

Working at Sylvan has been a really interesting experience for me, it’s so different from public school and private tutoring. But in neither of those other venues was I given $20 tickets to a night in Hollywood! I guess corporate America absorbing education isn’t all that bad…

Hold Please

December 22, 2006

If you’re going to put me on hold and play Pachelbel’s “Cannon in D” ad nausea, at least finish the song before you repeat it. The entire piece is a circle of fifths and if you fade off in the middle of some line and then start from the beginning you have an unresolved chord! At least break off after a cadence! It’s murder to theory geeks and I’m sure there are others that think, “they couldn’t just buy the whole song?” Clearly some idiot just thought they’d pick a soothing, well-loved song and play it to placate the customers into pledging allegiance to the company and blindly accepting whatever the customer service rep says when he’s done with his coffee. If I listen closely I think I can hear the corporate propaganda through the piece. It’s just as creepy as Barney and Teletubbies.

Or maybe it’s that my son is actually watching Barney and Teletubbies that bothers me so much. Thanks to being on the phone all day, even on my day off Little Red doesn’t get to spend time with me, and is mesmerized by PBS. Fueling my frustration with the company is my parental guilt. Watch out, Mama Bear is getting angry.

With every repeat of that insipid harmonic cliché I feel my brain twist and rewire to anti-social proportions, and every time the music fades without cadence only to restart at the beginning instead of greet me with a live voice a small part of my humanity dies.

Finally I realize: today is the day I’m going to lose it. I accept my fate with stoic comfort and hope only that I’m functional this afternoon when I babysit. I watch my son playing and watching television, and my guilt fuels my anger. When the anger subsides I will be nothing but a defeated ball of tears. I only hope that I can get some action before then.

Encapsulated in each tear, my frustration finally escapes me. I’ve been up since 5, out of contact with the world for a week and a half. I can probably add all my adult conversations from the past week to under an hour. I have no car. It’s Christmas and I miss my family and I’m stressed out about money. The babysitter lost Little Red’s pumpkin hat at the park to which I seem emotionally attached. Another child, not mine, threw up and I’ve cleaned the couch and the seat covers but Little Red’s carseat still smells. I feel guilty about ignoring Little Red all morning. And I’m pregnant, and I just haven’t cried in a while.

Eventually I pull myself together, wipe the tears and swallow the rest of my emotions. Little Red and I march upstairs and climb into my bed for our nap. I have to babysit in an hour. I hope the phone doesn’t ring.