fredag, augusti 26, 2005

Road Trips

It is getting harder and harder to go to Sweden.

I spent two sleepness nights getting ready to go. Typical.

I expect to be able to sleep on the plane. Typical.

Nuclear 4 and I snuggle into our special two seater sleeping position, complete with legs twisted up by the windows and body parts as cushion extensions. Four times I drift off to sleep. Four times turbulence sends flight attendents about, ordering us to sit up and buckle. Not typical.

I arrive on Day 2 of travel, Thursday morning. Nuclear 1 gets everyone out of the house. I shower and slip naked under the duvet. I sleep through until Friday morning. If only this were typical. Every day. In every city.

Day 3 we visit a fair, with kilometers and kilometers of garage sale wares spread out on blankets. Pilled sweaters, chewed on board books, discolored plastic toys, water-stained VHS tape covers and fractured roller blades. All the 100% Swedes in our company think this is the neatest thing. What deals! What bargains! We walk by one family's blanket seasoned with rust-colored pasta. I never break stride. I never suggest that stopping is an option. The trip enters the surreal.

We visit Nuclear 1's parents. His mother is genuine, as in June Lockhart from the Lassie days. As his father rounds the corner to greet us, I witness a droop swing in his left shoulder. He drags his left leg a bit. The stroke did much more damage than I had thought. Mortality turned the corner. My heart twists.

Day 4 is a big business party. We arrive and are almost immediately separated, Swedish style. I have anxiety and therefore resulting hangovers at the most simple of social gatherings. So to me, these events are atomic. In an effort to get people to mingle, couples are drawn and quartered. I spend from 7 pm until 2 am in the company of people I have never met who because of my presence now feel compelled to speak something other than their native tongue. As the sixth person asks me if I speak Swedish at all, I lay my forehead on our dinner table and confess that I am a complete loser. I get a glimpse of my husband only long enough to notice that other women are laughing too hard in his presence. My table mate, the man to my left, is 70 years old and extolls the virtues of our president. The host, seated to my right, is the lone beacon. He describes account after bad account of how much his own kids hate him since passing through puberty's gate. He would be my best friend if I lived here. At 1 am, a drunken airline pilot invites me to the loft to dance to the pounding beat of bad European disco and my chest seizes. In .5 second I sympathize with how his wife would feel and try to imagine an escape route once up there. Nothing looks positive, so I continue the theme of the evening and confess ineptitude. In the taxi ride home I rock back and forth, thinking, "I don't belong here, I don't belong here." So very typical.

Day 5. Today was a very, very, very bad day.

Day 6. One day left.

Day 7. On the plane back to the States, the pilot announces that radar is down at Heathrow and we may be diverted to sit on a runway in Amsterdam. The kids are all sleeping and miss this announcement. I appreciate the small favor.

torsdag, augusti 25, 2005

But Can I At Least Scratch My Ass As I Walk to the Bathroom?

Nuclear 2 brings home her high school dress code policy. "No slippers." It actually said, "No slippers."

Well, I am glad they clarified that.

Stuck in the Middle

Nuclear 3, at the ripe old age of 14 seems keen on endulging her two new pasttimes: sipping vodka and boxing.

"Why is it," I ask "That your new favorite hobbies are all centered around brain damage?"

She catches the irony, and smiles. Her first year in a new intense high school features a 9th grade course listing more demanding than my freshman year in college, including physics, geometry, world literature, perspectives in art, and latin.

"Oh, great!" said Nuclear 2, a high school senior, with refreshing genuiness. "We can study physics together."

What a weird dynamic. Summer grounding for bad behavior and the image of the two of them studying motion properties together out of used textbooks and spiral notepads.

A bottle of Grey Goose, $35.26.
A gym pass at Joe's Boxing Ring, $575.00.
Tape recordings of Nuclear 3 trying to explain to Nuclear 2 principles of momentum and conservation,
Yeah. Priceless.

lördag, augusti 13, 2005

Overheard Today

Twenty-nine year old son, in earnest, to tiny, timid mouse of a mother: "The police will only come if it is really serious."

Two women walking into drug-store:
"People don't know it but the end is here. It's coming soon."
"You got that right."
"I'm ready."
"I'm ready, too."
"And then you have those that think they are going, but they haven't been chosen. No way."
"You are so right."
"But I am going and you are going. No doubt about it."
"Uhhh hunh."

Giddy-Yap, Yap, Yap

"Would you guys like to go on a horseback riding trip with me?"

"Sure. If you want me too," says Nuclear 3
"No," says Nuclear 2.

"You don't want to go away for a long weekend and hang out at a ranch?"

"Where's it going to be?" asks Nuclear 2.

On the back of a horse, that's where it is going to be. "In California."

"Ok, then. I will go."

I dropped the clipping in the manilla folder reserved for things I want to do that will never happen because a less than lukewarm response to my proposal sucked all the joy out of my soul. I have the manilla folders organized by the week.

söndag, augusti 07, 2005

The Genesis, The Sexist, and The Movie Production

With the older girls I read Potter. With the last one, I decided to pick up the Narnia collection, by C S Lewis. I heard it is next in line for moviedom, so I wanted to beat it to the punch.

No one told me that the series is, essentially, a new book for an old testament.

There I was reading along, dum de dum dum, when suddenly there was this Lion who seemed to be creating this new world ALL IN ONE DAY. Tres intelligente.

Animals two by two.
Sons of Adam, daughters of Eve.
The temptation involved an apple.
God is a male lion.
He has a name. Aslan.
The devil is a strong, tall, beautiful, very female queen.
She has a name too, but mostly she is just called a witch.
The little girls are good, the little boys are always getting into trouble.

See Dick Run.
Run, Dick. Run.

Hold "Em High

"My three children—Howard, Annie, and Katy—grew up in a house of games. Almost from the time each of them could sit up straight in a chair, their mother, Deedy, and I taught them to play verbal challenges, like ghost, hinky-pinky, and Scrabble, and board games such as checkers, chess, and Monopoly. Mostly, we sprawled in the TV room and played card games: war, spit-in-the-ocean, go fish, oh hell!, and hearts. Within that bonded circle gleam some of our most enduring memories as a family.

Let the child psychologists curse us: Deedy and I never faked losing so that the children could win. For years they could never beat us, and they sometimes burst into tears and threw their cards at us. But as time stretched out, they began winning often. We grew awestruck by their insights into the nature of games and gaming.

Now two of my children—Howard and Annie—are national poker champions. They're the only sibling pair to ever reach the final day of a World Series of Poker, and they've won a trophy case of international tournaments and millions of dollars."

Full House, by Richard Lederer, AARP, The Magazine,

Richard Lederer's next book will be Comma Sense, written with John Shore (St. Martin's Press, August 2005). He cohosts A Way With Words on public radio.

* * *

We grew up with cards, too, but my mom would let us win. My mother and grandmother would toss subtle hints across the table, “Are you sure you want to do that?” Or my mom would throw off. She was especially kind to my youngest brother. He would sit at the table with Mom and my merciless brothers. It was a tough room. He would never win. Then he would cry. So my mom would pass him a winning card on occasion. My grandfather had a soft spot too. If a questionable card were thrown he would look at us, askance. Of course, he was always looking at us askance, so maybe we were imagining that he had a heart at all, now that I think about it. With my grandmother he would charge, “Now why the hell did you throw that card?” then mock her for three or four minutes before getting up to pour another manhattan. Ahhhh. Summer and memories.

This poker phenom feels different, somehow. We took pride in the fact that we did not watch tv and actually enjoyed spending hours with each other in a constant challenge. Not much seems to be actually held in Texas Hold 'Em, and our card games had no association with money (we had none) or alchohol (ditto). Still, we thought it was cool that our mother was completely capable of going for the jugular when she wanted to, so maybe I should unwrap a new pack and shuffle up in my wrong-handed style.

Open to you.

lördag, augusti 06, 2005

The Notebook

Birds are entangled by their feet and men by their tongues. Thomas Fuller.

No, We Are Not Getting a Divorce. Order Your Food.

In the first day in a month under 90 degrees, I invited the nuclear for lunch at a restaurant with outdoor seating.

"Ok, so what life changing event did you bring us all here to tell us about."

"What happened to our food. It should be here in fifteen minutes or we should not pay. It's lunch during a workday for godsake."

"You have something on you lip, Mom. Ha, ha, ha, now it's on your top lip. Oops, now your bottom. Ha, ha, ha, never mind."

"I ordered a hamburger. How could it take so long to cook a hamburger, for godsake."

The next time I invite them out will be a cold day in hell.