Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Let It Snow

It's snowing! Big flakes, but they are wet, so not sticking. Still, Jarrah is delighted. Just now walking from the lobby to our room (it's a hike) she kept sticking her tongue out to catch them. Really cute.

We woke up around 8:00 because David had to work, and rushed through breakfast in the Mural Room, which has the most incredible view and the food didn't suck, either. J. was especially thrilled because she got Lucky Charms—heaps of them—and she's not allowed to eat like that at home. From the lobby, you can see the lake with the Tetons behind them, and endless meadows with yellow trees. I hear they are aspens, but don't take my word for it.

The night was hard. Hotel rooms are always too hot or too cold, and the beds are doubles—too small for me to share with someone 6'2”. And Jarrah was coughing up a storm, which was both worrying and distracting. When she sat up and trilled “Good morning!!!” at about 7:00, part of me wanted to laugh and part of me wanted to bury myself under the pillows (the room has eight pillows!) and not come out until spring.

The lobby is abuzz with excited filmmakers in down vests, networking and socializing. I feel a bit jealous about that part. Jarrah seems to be the only child for a 10 mile radius. I can imagine this must be a really convivial location for a small film festival.

Now we are back at the room, because I must confess I am too nervous to go driving in the snow without David. And the various hikes and boat trips I had planned don't seem quite so alluring in a snow shower. Hopefully, the weather will clear up soon. Jarrah just asked me what is up with a hotel room that has no TV. I can see her point.

Talked to David, who has discovered “bugs” and probably won't be able to hang with us today. So we're going exploring in the car on our own, perhaps back to the town of Moose, where there's a Nature Discovery Center, indoors. Wish us luck!

The snow is starting to stick, and it's crazy cold out there. Jarrah just came back in from our porch, where she was throwing “snowballs” (more like handfuls of snow) at the bushes. She was loving it until her gloves soaked through. Hey, did I know it was going to snow in September? She also kept falling on her ass every time she tried to run. I have to admit I giggled.

We haven't seen David all day. He texted that he's giving his presentation now. I would go, but I can't imagine Jarrah would sit through even five minutes. I took her to the promotional film about the Grand Tetons at the Visitor's Center in Moose earlier today, and she was done in less time than that. “Mooommmy!” she kept stage-whispering. “It's so borrrring!” I made her sit through it anyway, because I was kind of fascinated by all the mountain-climbing and baby bison footage.

The Visitor's Center in general was mostly a hit. We got to feel the actual fur of all the local animals, and play with actual antlers of deer, elk and moose. It was a long-ish drive to Moose (probably about 45 minutes) but it was lovely driving—hardly anyone on the road, and only one lane. Except for feeling like I'd just had a big dose of Propofol, I enjoyed it. I was actually sort of proud of myself—I've gotten very “wifey” about vacations since David appeared, and I usually let him do all the driving (though you better believe I do all the planning.) I felt brave driving off into the unknown with Jarrah today, but then it was hardly a harrowing experience, even if it did snow on us a bit.

We stopped at the Signal Mountain Lodge for lunch overlooking the lake, and Jarrah was very happy I let her have hot chocolate. So happy that the only other food she ate was garlic bread, but oh well. Trips are hard for us because the child pretty much eats 24/7, and doesn't really understand the concept of filling up at a meal. But I really loved my sweet potato fries—light and fluffy, no grease, and tossed with what seemed to be baked garlic and frizzled parsley, not to mention some wicked hot pepper to balance out the sweet. Yum.

We stopped to take photos and admire some of the views from the many roadside “outlooks,” including the Cathedral trio of the Tetons, and the whipped frenzy of Jenny Lake on a blustery day. I would have happily made other stops, but honestly, the cold is pretty severe, and Jarrah took it hard whenever she had to be subjected to it.

The locals are really happy about the snow, since there are a couple fires raging right now, and this should take care of it. The gentleman at the Signal Mountain general store, who sold us enough junk food to plunge us into an afternoon coma, said as much, and then told us he has a son in San Diego. He told me that his son thinks soon everyone will live in San Diego, “since once someone goes there, they never leave.”

“Well, it's pretty nice right here,” I countered.

“Yes, but in the winter, you start wanting to escape. We just saw a show in Jackson where they talked about cabin fever, and how it's hard on relationships, and that was the best part...because it's true.”

I laughed. “Those are the best parts, I agree. The ones that are true. And the funniest.” He gave Jarrah some free candy before we left, just because everyone in the entire tri-state area is so freakin' nice.

P.S. Thank you to you lovely people who expressed concern about my Kindle. Miraculously, it has been found, and awaits my return at the airport. Hang in there, little Kindle. I'm coming for you.

Hay and Antlers

At the Jackson Lake Lodge. Our room is a “cottage,” simple, but nice. No TV. And I was a bit disgruntled to learn that the only Wi-Fi is back at the lobby. Of course, I understand that you come to a National Park to get away from it all. And how idiotic it sounds to complain that this makes it hard to blog.

Right now I am having the annoying task of trying to be unobtrusive while my 4-year-old thrashes around in an unfamiliar bed about 10 feet away from me. This happens on the first night in any hotel, but this time I am doing it alone. David helped us find the room, and then he headed back to the lobby to test his equipment for tomorrow's presentation. He said, “Maybe you'll be asleep when I get back,” and I said “You better not be that long.”

Our cottage has a back door, and when I opened it, all I could see was the dim outline of a field of waving grasses, and possibly mountains in the distance. And possibly bears, who were about to come charging past the Adirondack chairs to get to our snacks. So I shut the door in a hurry. But I'm sure it will be glorious in the daylight. We arrived around 9:00 p.m. because...

We stopped in Jackson Hole first. It turned out to be on our way from Idaho Falls, and since we'd been in the car for 90 minutes, I suggested we stop and stretch our legs downtown. Jackson Hole seems pretty big as far as “quaint little rustic towns” go, and while a lot of the buildings seem either genuinely or atmospherically frontier-like, it's clear that the place is a mix of chic (artisan restaurants, theaters, galleries, coffeehouses) and crapcake (fudge stores, tchotchkes, a shop devoted to actual Wyoming “stuffed” animals, including a grizzly and an elk.)

And although the forecast posted on the Jackson Lake Lodge door said there's an 80 percent chance of snow tomorrow, I haven't even worn my jacket yet, let alone the full suitcase of ski wear I frantically insisted that we bring. It was downright muggy in Jackson Hole. We took a walk, feeling bizarrely tired (except Jarrah, who slept in the car), bought some candy in one of those places where you carry a basket over your arm (here I was pleased because, after the proprietor asked how we were, I said “A little travel-worn—we just drove here from Idaho Falls,” and she replied, “Oh, I was in your neighborhood yesterday!” I laughed and told her it wasn't our neighborhood, glad she didn't assume we were tourists. Everyone who's spoken to us—waitresses, a guy who offered to take our picture, a barista who sympathetically guided me to a secret bathroom when Jarrah had to go—have been uncommonly friendly) and discovered the famous sourdough restaurant, with the starter from 1870 (!) was closed for the evening. Several of the other places I'd researched seemed too fancy for Jarrah, and one cute place in a log cabin had a very long wait. We ended up eating in a bar, because the attached restaurant was also packed, and the bar served the restaurant's food. Which was delish. We all loved David's elk meatloaf, and my spring greens with balsamic seemed to have been picked right then. It was funny to be eating this stuff in a noisy bar surrounded by small children eating giant hamburgers (another specialty, and yes, they are advertised as “giant”) but it was good all the same. Except my French Onion soup was a tad salty. I am not a salt girl.

The drive to Jackson Lake was dark, I'll say that for it. I'm looking forward to seeing the place in the light. We did have an incredible experience, though—the cars in front of us slowed and we suddenly realized it was because a bunch of elk were crossing the road. So beautiful, though hard to see, and very quick. I kept screaming “Elk! ELK!” like a maniac; I'm surprised David didn't plow into one.

I felt very shy when we entered the upper lobby here and it was filled with young things schmoozing for the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, which is why David is here. They were drinking and laughing and there wasn't a child in sight. How far I have fallen from my super-cool Temecula Film Festival days.

Oh, and the drive from Idaho Falls to Jackson Hole (the daytime segment) was lovely and interesting. Clearly, it's the hay-making capital of the world, and they do it while the sun shines. Most of the hills seemed very recently shorn, and they shone all stubby and golden all the way to the horizon. There were huge bales of hay everywhere, and silver silos shining in the sun. I was also interested in the giant irrigation machines that stretched across the fields. Some of you might be thinking, “What's with you, child? Has your whole life been on concrete?” to which I would answer yes, probably so. Farming is fascinating to me. As we drove towards Wyoming, the terrain changed dramatically to tall pines and deep ravines with creeks at the bottom of them. It started reminding me of Big Bear, in fact. We'll see if tomorrow reminds me of anything, or if it will all be mind-blowingly new.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Our Own Private Idaho

On the plane from Salt Lake City to Iowa Falls. Despite having packed for freezing conditions, so far we are sweating. Salt Lake City was hot and muggy, with a powerful wind, and the terminal was pretty much outdoors. We weren't there that long—just long enough to eat some fast food and taunt Jarrah by promising some time at the terminal “playground” and then realizing we didn't have that time—but then there was a lovely patch on the runway in the tiny plane with no a/c.

We're underway now, with a few bumps. I am sitting by myself on this leg—we didn't have good luck booking seats together. I sat with Jarrah on the first shift, and now I'm enjoying the break. Well, I would be enjoying it if I hadn't realized just before take-off—my face burning with shame and anguish—that I left my Kindle in a security bin back at Lindbergh Field. My beloved Kindle, which hadn't even seen its first birthday yet. Gadget people would say it's just a sign that it's time to upgrade to 2.0, but I am sentimental about my electronics, and will use them until they go on the fritz. I don't respond to societal pressure about newer, faster, better. I'm an old-fashioned sort of gal.

So, no Kindle, and People magazine already exhausted, plus an old issue of Wired, I have decided to start blogging. The trip already feels longer than it ought to, and we still have the rental car line plus a two-hour drive to Jackson Lake. I hear it's a lovely drive, though.

And sticking with that positive theme, people have been awfully nice so far. We were stuck in a really long line at the Delta terminal in SD, and a couple happened to overhear us—they insisted we go in front of them. That was over and above your basic kindness to strangers. I was really touched. Then, we were too late to get seats together on our first flight, but when I asked the people around us if they'd switch, about 10 people immediately responded “How can I help?” (Sure, there was one guy who turned us down flat because he wanted the aisle, but hey, that might have been me in my pre-child days. As a claustrophobic, I am very partial to the aisle.)

Jarrah has been very wiggly, but mostly upbeat. She has been carrying her stuffed panda in a sick bag, which she says is her “house.” The top of the sick bag has become her “headband.” For most of the first flight, the panda was named Delta (kinda catchy!) but suddenly became Sarah. Hopefully, she doesn't figure out that I actually forgot the doggie she asked me to pack.

Oh, they just announced our descent into Idaho Falls. That was quick!

P.S. Taking advantage of free Wi-Fi in the airport. Which, by the way, I love. It's beautiful and clean and quiet. We stopped at the bathroom on the way to the baggage claim, and by the time we got down there (about 10 minutes after deplaning) our luggage was off and GONE. The Hertz counter was a lonely island wherein we were granted a Toyota Camry after about 30 seconds of cheerful interaction. "They do things speedily in Idaho Falls!" I remarked jauntily to the car agent. He actually laughed and agreed with me. Then David appeared with the luggage. We are on our way. Looks like a beautiful day out there. Stay tuned for some airport "local color" photos when I return.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

In Which I Find An Easy Target

Let me just make it clear that I don't know anything about the Kardashians, except that we're supposed to keep up with them, and that their names all start with "K." Let me also make it clear that yes, yes, I'm a hypocrite, because I actually have a subscription to US Weekly, so in making fun of one its articles, I am implicating myself.

With that out of the way, I can't resist a little commentary on this week's "Why I Took Scott Back," an interview with Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick, the latter perhaps the last true paragon of manhood in this great country of ours. I can't stop thinking about him, because every week I feel for US Weekly, as they try to squeeze juicy material out of vague celebrity hearsay ("According to an insider, she is a huge ho.") This week, however, the magazine has landed a soundbite goldmine in Scott and Kourtney, who are expecting a baby--one who will no doubt discover the cure for every remaining societal ill, including polish that chips after only two days.

The glowing couple appear in a portrait at the beginning of the article--she resplendent in a purple dress, he with his hand over her bump, which I guess is marking his territory, kind of like pissing on a hydrant. In a caption, Scott has some sweet sentiments for his future non-bride and mother of his child:

"It's exciting to know that my son or daughter will see Kourtney as beautiful as she is, still young and perfect, as opposed to some old hag."

That's so touching, Scott. We wouldn't want any old hags near your spawn. The old hag might offer the young innocent a special apple that will put them to sleep for a hundred years. Then they'll have to wait for another prince like you to wake them up. Also, it would be truly tragic for your child to be raised by a non-perfect woman, one in sweatpants with a belly pooch, circles under her eyes and chunks of spit-up in her hair. Oh, oops! That's actually going to happen.

Asked about marrying the woman with whom he's producing an heir, Scott opines:

"Until I can spend at least a million dollars on a stone, I'm not going to propose. I'm not saying I can't afford that now. I just don't know if I feel like doing it today."

Aw, what's the matter, Scott? Low on pocket money? I'm sure you have a million under a sofa cushion somewhere. Or did it all get stuffed in someone's g-string last night? And nothing says commitment like a shiny object that costs a million dollars. It gives women a special blindness that makes them totally unable to see you doing belly shots off of Vegas hookers, or wearing purple pants in US Weekly. But you're right, you don't need to do it today. You probably have other important items on the agenda, like applying more hair gel and enjoying your remaining nine minutes in the spotlight.

But the deep connection between these two lovebirds shines through in this passage:

"We got into a fight the other day, and I wasn't talking to her, then I got upset because I hadn't seen her in 10 minutes. So I went to her room, I gave her the finger, and she was like 'Why are you so obsessed with me?' And I was like 'Obsessed with you? Of course I am! We're having a child together. I love you to death.'"

Kourtney, love, I'd take him at his word. Back away slowly and then don't stop running until you've secured a restraining order. I know it's hard to jog in stilettos when you're pregnant, but you don't have much time. Because when 10 minutes are up, he'll be coming for you, and he just will not rest until he's proved his love by giving you the finger. It's just like in all the John Hughes movies...people running in the rain, their faces anguished, trying to find their soulmates so they can give them the finger, then obliquely threaten to kill them. Couldn't you just swoon from the romance of it all?

And the man is going to make a champion father. In response to Kourtney's confession that she's "read online" that you have to include the dad in parental "things," Scott adds:

"I'm not going to be too mad if you don't wake me up to do the diapers!"

What a guy. Kourtney, best of luck to you and little Kassius.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Jarrah's First Movie Review

Hi everyone. Jarrah here. I know this is my mom's blog, but she's letting me write this post.

I wasn't feeling a hundred percent this morning, so I asked Mommy to do that thing she does that always makes me feel better: take me to the movies. I had the movie all picked out, too: Fame. I saw a trailer on Nickelodeon and it reminded me of Hannah Montana. If you don't know, a trailer is a short version of the movie where they show you all the good parts.

Mommy was game; in fact, I think she was more excited than I was. Apparently, Fame is a "remake" of a movie she remembers from her childhood, about 50 years ago. It was a big deal then, with a famous song that Mommy keeps singing: "Remember my naaaaammmme....I'm gonna live for-evah..." It's a good song, but it can't touch Mamma Mia!

The movie started out pretty good. There were a lot of feet and instruments and sweating bodies, and people running to catch the subway in New York City. That's where Mommy is from, which she mentioned, and I said "I know THAT." I did wonder why all the people wore coats and hats all the time, though--they looked all matchy-matchy. The people were very nervous because they are auditioning (I know that word from Mommy's plays) for a special school where you can sing and dance and act. You can also play classical music there, but if you do, you'll have to sit in the balcony and later you'll find out you prefer hip-hop.

The movie turned out different than I thought. A lot of the time, you see people's heads up really close, and they seem sad. Sometimes they're sad because their parents don't care about their dreams (and who ever heard of that?) and sometimes because their boyfriend is mad that they almost slept with a soap star just because he offered to introduce them to his casting director. Mommy liked the girl who plays the piano but wants to be a singer, and for some reason she cried when the girl's parents wouldn't let her be in Chicago. Mommy is a bit weird like that, though--she often cries at inappropriate parts in the movie. You like that word, inappropriate? My mommy taught me that.

I thought there would be more dancing and singing. There is a finale, which is another word I know from Mommy's plays. She had a dancing finale in her play this summer, and that was my favorite part. The movie should have had a lot more finales. Mommy was excited to see someone named Kherington Payne, who was on one of her dance shows. Kherington dances a lot this movie, but she only acts once, for about 30 seconds, and Mommy said that was a little too long.

I did really like the part when Kevin (how cool am I for remembering his name?) "accidentally" crosses the yellow line when the subway train is coming. This was not related to his teacher telling him that he would never make a living as a dancer, silly--I would have noticed that. No, he just doesn't know how to read, and he wasn't careful. You should never, ever cross that yellow line. Even I know that. His friends had to catch him and then they were all very sad again. Instead of being sad, they should have just read the sign together, and remembered to pay attention next time. I made sure to tell Mommy, several times, and very loudly, that he should never, EVER cross that yellow line, and she really appreciated it.

When it was over, I told Mommy that I loved Fame. And that I wanted the song for my birthday. And that it was really, really sad when my popcorn spilled on the floor when it was full. At least my Junior Mints didn't spill. That was a relief.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Here's Jarrah trying to look after me, as I languished on my fainting couch in the aftermath of food poisoning:

J: Here's your water, Mama!

S: Thank you, sweetheart. I appreciate it.

(time goes by)

J: How are you loving that water?

S: I'm...loving it. It's great water.

J: Good. Here's your medal. (she tries to put a toy dog collar over my head)

S: Ummmm....

J: I'll just put it by your bed, so you don't get germs on it.

(time goes by)

J: Here's your baby! He's very tiny, so be careful. (hands me a stuffed otter--instinctively, I start to snuggle it)

S: Thank you!

J: His name is...Cosmo. (clearly, Mama has been doing too much drinking)

S: That's a good name.

J: You can hold him while we're gone so you won't be sad.

(about a minute later)

J: Okay, I need Cosmo! (yanking him out of my arms) Your time is up! I'm taking him in the car. Try not to be sad.

S: Okay. I'll try. (but I did feel strangely sad)

We Go Together, In All Kinds Of Weather

Yesterday afternoon we went to see Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. Jarrah had been asking to see it for, lo, these many six months, which was inconvenient since it only came to theaters two days ago. First, we went to the "early childhood" Rosh Hashanah service at her preschool, where about two hundred adults and twice that many children were jammed steerage-style into a room whose A/C was rattling its death knell. Tiny, grasping hands reached for me from every side, and I started to get a bit woozy. Maybe it was my wooziness and not a slightly un-High Holy Day-excess of cleavage that was causing the seemingly 16-year-old cantor guitarist to bore his eyes into my personage and then dart them away guiltily when I felt him looking.

So we were off to the movies, joined by Robyn and her boys, and all should have been well. Healthy A/C, stadium seats, Red Vines, and a hot pretzel with about a gallon of mustard--tra la! The movie, if you haven't heard, is about a boy named Flint Lockwood who lives on an island and invents a lot of stuff that doesn't quite work, like spray-on shoes that never come off, and "rat birds" resembling Remy with a parrot transfusion (Jarrah's favorite.) His father, whose gruff fortitude and inability to express himself is geniusly depicted with a huge fuzzy eyebrow and no eyes at all (except in moments of extreme trial, like attempting to send a computer file to his son's cell phone--my favorite scene) wants him working in the family sardine shop (the island's official agribusiness) with no more tinkering. (Cue subplot about our parents believing in us, yada yada yada.)

But Flint has something big in mind--a machine that converts water into food. And he would have gotten away with it, too--if it weren't for that meddling inadequate circuit breaker. He decides to hijack the town's power grid while the community is distracted by the opening of Sardine World, the mayor's public relations scheme to bring people and money to the island. (One of the funniest recurring bits has to do with Baby Brent, in his infancy the face of Baby Brent Sardines, now grown and coasting on his diapered notoriety.)

With a lot of machinations (the movie is all about the machinations--just when you think you've seen them all, a bunch more are hurled your way, and I mean hurled--the movie's in 3-D) the dream machine is launched, to much initial awe and rejoicing. The first glimpse of cheeseburgers spit from the sky into the hands of the gape-mouthed townsfolk is pretty awesome, though David and I were both distracted by all the food that ends up on the ground. Eww.

The event is captured by visiting weather intern Sam Sparks, getting her big break in the smallest way possible--or so she thinks. Instead, she's smack in the middle of "the perfect food storm" and sticks around to capture new developments. And, of course, she and Flint start to bond.

See, Sam is a secret nerd, who long ago put away her specs and banished her ponytail but dreams of owning her own Doppler machine. She talks nerdy when she gets excited, but quickly remembers herself, substituting "Wow!" and "Fluffy!" for scientific outbursts. But Flint can see through her act, and encourages her to let her freak flag fly. The scene where he builds her a castle out of jello and they have a date, of sorts, bouncing around, is charming. Even more charming is how he makes her a jello scrunchie for her ponytail afterward. It's nice to see two animated characters with so much chemistry (both romantic and otherwise.)

Things go wrong, as they often do, and Flint and Sam are called upon to save their island and the entire world from the menacing food machine. No one really blames Flint, since it's their collective greed that has pushed the mechanism into the yellow on the "Dangeometer." By now, the food is on steroids, cow-sized steaks falling wetly onto plates, pancakes smothering the school, Flint's dad almost getting buried under a single meatball. The rest of the movie features a lot of gargantuan, terrifying food hailing from the sky, and people running for their lives from it. I kept getting this tickling sense that there was some sort of extended metaphor here, something about sustenance and pleasure and greed gone wrong, but maybe the 3-D glasses (which required their own team outside the theater to keep tabs on them--David said they're the expensive kind) kept me from pursuing these theories to fruition. Oooh, fruition. There goes a baby about to buried under a boat-sized banana. I won't spoil the ending, of course, but let's just say Flint, Sam, Brent, a monkey and a very cute little doctor/pilot save the day.

Afterward, we went for dinner, and I guess the whole smorgasbord concept affected my brain because I think I ate too much. Many hours after that, we were going to bed and I said to David, "Not good. I am still full. I might throw up."

"Do you feel sick?"


"Then you're not going to throw up."

"But I'm full. I'm never full. I'm telling you; it's a bad sign."

I woke up in the middle of the night, Readers, and I threw up. And now I haven't been out of bed all day. I can't decide if it's just a coincidence, or if the giant 3-D food coming at my face had an osmosis-like effect. Anyway, enjoy the movie.

Friday, September 18, 2009

We're Jammin'

Recently, I had a conversation about change. "You're always saying how much you've changed as you've gotten older," said my friend, who's a lot younger than me. I thought about this briefly--very briefly. "Well." I said. "Not changed, exactly. Just become more or less of whatever I already was."

I hope this is true. It felt true when I said it. Because as I've gotten older, I've become more...accepting? No, that's not quite right. I've become Sort of. I think what I've become is just a little more...aware that I'm not the center of the universe. And that makes me a little more compassionate. I don't rush to label everyone a jerk (or worse) the second they've wronged me, whether they're an old friend or another driver on the freeway. Now it takes me two seconds. Kidding. It takes me five.

But seriously, I really do work, these days, to see the flip side. And it really does help. I mean, it probably helps them in some small way, because I'm not yelling in unpleasant and time-consuming ways, but really it mostly helps me, because entertaining compassion makes the whole world--and everyone in it--easier, happier, BETTER.

I had an opportunity to practice some of this awareness this afternoon, and I'm not sure if I took it. But I could see how it would help, and that seems like progress.

I was teaching my Nia class, which I do every Friday, and having a pretty good time. I say "pretty good" because one of the students--an effervescent gal with a big smile--was standing really close to me and flailing wildly like she had Dance Tourettes. Everything I did, she did something else, and on a different beat altogether--perhaps one playing only in her head. A couple times I could feel myself losing focus while I was marveling at her crazed Elaine Benes-like moves. But I kept reminding myself that it was really no big deal and she was having a great time.

Then there was New Girl. There were actually two new girls, but for the purposes of this story, there's just one. I have no beef with New Girl Two. But New Girl One had a mouth like a seam and was one of those types who just stares when I say "Hi! I'm Sam." That always slays me. Didn't your mother teach you anything?

But it probably didn't help that I followed up with "And here's where you tell me your name!" Some people laugh that off. I mean, most of them do. She didn't. Maybe this is where I lost her. Some people don't deal well with my sarcasm after they've known me 20 years, let alone 20 seconds.

As the class progressed, I found myself checking in with her in the mirror. I do that with new students; I like to see if they're smiling. If you're liking Nia, you smile during your first class. It's fun. People smile when they're having fun. If they don't smile, they won't be back.

She didn't smile. Mouth still like a seam. But she was keeping up. Paying attention. Quite a good dancer, actually.

I called everyone into a circle and shouted (over the music) "Single kicks into the center! And singing is mandatory," I smiled. "Two words. We're jammin." (That's the name of the song.) Usually, they all sing loud and lustily, and they smile while they do. It's just funny that we're kicking in a circle and singing "We're jammin'." What's not to like?

New Girl did not sing. Mouth still like a seam. I guess I couldn't take it anymore. I thought I'd break the ice. I called her by name. (How cool that I remembered her name, right?) I said "New Girl, we haven't heard you sing yet!"

Mouth still like a seam, but she said--plain as day: "I'm not jammin'."

"You're not..what?" I sort of squeaked. I had heard her, but couldn't quite believe it.

"I'M. NOT. JAMMIN'." she repeated, louder, unwavering. Her expression didn't change.

"Okay!" I squeaked again, and realized with mortification that tears had sprung to my eyes. Luckily, I sweat so much no one could see. But I knew, and now I was totally behind in my directions and could barely remember what we were doing.

It took me the rest of the class to pull myself together. My face was burning, and there was a huge lump in my throat. The rest of the class sensed my distress, and sang extra-loud, and smiled extra-wide, and even--horrors--clapped for me at the end. New Girl Two made a point of saying "That was REALLY fun. I'll be back."

New Girl One stayed to the end, and then left without a backward glance. I still felt a little like crying. I wasn't sure if I was embarrassed, or hurt, or shamed, or all of the above. I knew I was shocked. How could she do that? WHY would she do that?

I wondered if I'd put her on the spot, but even if I had, why so hostile? That was the part I couldn't get my mind around.

I talked to Robyn about it, and she said something that had sort of been in the back of my mind. "Maybe it was the worst day of her life," she said. "Maybe just being in class was as much as she could handle. Maybe just following the moves was her way of feeling good."

Excellent points. And I thought about that. I don't know her. I don't know what kind of day she had. I don't know how she feels about dance teachers speaking to her in class. Maybe she was traumatized as a child in ballet, who knows? Maybe there's something big going on in her life. Here's the most important part of all: MAYBE HER RESPONSE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ME. Now that's a concept.

The thing is, it doesn't have to be about me. Whatever was going on there, I might have poked at an owie, or not. She wasn't trying to be mean. Because--and that's where I have a new layer of information that used to elude me--people don't do that. I mean, sure, very, very occasionally someone tries to be mean. But hardly ever. What are people actually doing? They're trying to live their lives. They're trying to get through the day. And they're trying to do it by interacting with a lot of strangers, and in this instance, I was one.

And I remembered that...eventually. Maybe next time I'll figure it out sooner.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This Is Your Brain Not In Amsterdam

David returned from Amsterdam last night. I know, I hadn't actually mentioned he was gone, but you know my theory about alerting the serial killers. He worked like crazy and hardly had a minute to visit prostitutes, eat Space Cakes or view Van Goghs, which is beyond tragic. It was probably the right decision for me to sit this one out.

Weirdly, the time flew by during his absence, which is not typical. Normally, I do a lot of pacing and wringing my hands. Also, I slept like I'd been whacked with a blunt object, mostly because I tended to get to bed only when I was nearly horizontal with the demands of gravity already. I think I might have had the most fun--it was like a staycation. Sssshhh--don't tell David.

I'm going to make this a shout-out post to those who supported me in the Big Aussie's absence.

To Taylour, who held down the fort without any access to the fort when I gallivanted off to the Temecula Film Festival and left her and Jarrah without a key. Both girls emerged from the ordeal relatively unscathed--they're just that fierce.

To Price Family Preschool, who provided me with a blissful four hours each day in which to lie in front of the TV eating bon-bons, I mean, busy myself with wholesome and improving work and exercise.

To Steph, who welcomed a second four-year-old into her lovely home on Friday afternoon so I could teach my Nia class, and even made us a yummy dinner afterward. Nice!

To the new Fall TV Season and our Tivo, for providing me with a panoply of choices with no redeeming social value. Also Netflix On Demand, for the porn.

To the YMCA Kidcare, for being "sooooo fun" and totally free, the single mom's solution for firmer thighs.

To Mary and Paul, for inviting us to their school's picnic, complete with giant inflatable slide, a Chinese buffet, and some dude showing the youngsters how to wallop each other with padded clubs, which was the best part of all. M and P also made dinner for us the next night--how did we get so lucky?

To Joy, for being the best-best-best Chongqing cousin Jarrah could ever ask for. And for her sweet collection of Disney dress-up clothes, from whence she graciously loaned her BFF a pair of glass slippers that are practically being slept in.

To my parents, aka Grandma and Pop-Pop, for providing an endless supply of gummy bears, multiple episodes of Sponge Bob, and--best of all--their love and attention for an entire day.

To Suzy, who remembered we were alone and invited us to swim at her lovely home after school on Monday. And whose children and friends couldn't be nicer. Not to mention her inflatable pool toys.

To my theater peeps Rachel, Lisa, Eva and Calvin for cooking Indian food with me Monday night. Five cooks, four labor-intensive dishes and three hours later, we had the most amazing feast, all of it sublime, none of it burned. Dinner guests who do their own cooking? Hold the phone--and wash dishes without a single hint? And...wait for all this while keeping my kid entertained? Wow. A special shout-out to Calvin, who turns out to be a secret culinary wunderkind in need of his own reality show, and kept all us sous-chefs in line. Plus he masterminded the most ridiculously good dessert possibly ever: whole Bosc pears poached in red wine, served with whipped heavy cream. I wish I had photos--those babies could grace the cover of Gourmet.

To Robyn and her boys, who whiled away a few shady hours at Big Rock park involving large sticks and a dry creek bed, resulting in children who resembled extras from Oliver Twist, followed by a yummy dinner at Pinnacle Peak steakhouse (where, now that I think about it, all three of them were perfect dust-covered angels???)

To Grace, for taking the perfect morning walk with me around the bay, sun sparkling off the blue, and the way she always makes me feel like a million bucks, no matter how much I'm doubting myself an hour before. Extra credit for offering to sit with Jarrah while I fetched le pauvre tired David from the airport and ferried him safely home.

And to me, because I managed to keep the kid alive and the house standing for nearly a week on my own. I kept the plants alive, too. And final props to me? The place was spotless when David walked in. I rock.

But I'm still relieved he's home.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Have Your People Call My People

A new feature of this year's 48 Hour Film Project (oh no, not that again!) was that The Best of San Diego showcase was invited to screen at the Temecula Valley Film Festival. That's pretty exciting, because in the past the only opportunity for a big-screen viewing was the local one that you were entitled to with the cost of admission. The TVFF is a "real" film festival--you don't have to enter a contest to be shown there, typically. And many of the movies are longer than seven minutes.

Our two screenings days were Thursday and Saturday, but since several members of our team were otherwise engaged on Saturday, I put on my organizer hat again and, well, organized a field trip to Temecula (about an hour from here) for Thursday. We didn't really know what to expect except a "smaller" screen than on Saturday. The actual dimensions of this screen were not indicated. More on that in a moment.

Robyn--bless her heart and her SUV--offered to drive, and Calvin, Lisa, Rachel and I were happy to be her passengers. Lisa provided the mix tapes. We met at my place, and had a jolly time on the trip, as I knew we would. I was riding shotgun, which is why my neck hurts today--I couldn't stop butting into every conversational thread in the tapestry.

We arrived to a smoking hot afternoon (how do people live in Temecula? It's like Palm Springs!) but were soon distracted by the sign "HOSPITALITY SUITE" very close to the theater. I had read about the hospitality suite--are there two words in the English language more felicitously compatible?--and figured we should poke our heads in to find out if it was false advertising.

Readers, it was not. We were enthusiastically (I'd even venture "suspiciously so") greeted by a bunch of bejeweled ladies of a certain age, who asked who we were, and with an ironic smirk, I responded "We're filmmakers." (I know, I know, it's not exactly ironic, but when I was getting my MFA in Poetry, I never answered that question "I'm a poet.") This set off an even more violent wave of enthusiasm, and before we could say "I'll be in my trailer" we were being handed five all-access festival passes on lanyards, and reminded about our free tickets to the weekend gala--tickets to which retail (for civilian slobs) at $100 a head. We received an invitation to a private party, a goodie bag, and a friendly reminder about happy hour. With a flourish, one of the ladies invited us to partake of the earthly delights of the HS, which included some giant burritos, a whole lot of chips and pretzels, and every kind of beverage known to humankind. Soon, we were ensconced at a private table (well, it was private because there was no one there at the moment) digging into our second lunches, flashing our badges, and pretty much feeling like we were the man.

"Why oh why didn't I know about this and plan to come here for a full day? Hell, for five days?" I lamented. It was yet more incentive to win the Audience Award next year.

Noticing that the witching hour was drawing nigh, we scurried to the theater, where we were given ominous (though polite) instructions to scurry right back out, head through the mall, and stop when we saw signs for "Screening Room A."

Readers, here is where the mighty are fallen. High on our indie filmmaker street cred, we figured the next step would be shielding our eyes from the blinding flashbulbs on the red carpet, being escorted to our plush VIP seats by booth babes, and trying to act dignified when teen girls asked us to sign their flesh. Instead...

...I can think of a few choice words that the "A" in Screening Room A might stand for. The room was a closet, with folding chairs. And the folding chairs? Empty. Except for a guy from David's work and his fiancee. Otherwise, empty. A brave-faced host handed us ballots that asked us to rank the films One through Ten from "Worst to Best." Quoth Robyn: "What is this language? WORST? Is that necessary?" No, I don't think it is.

Not that it mattered. With five of us representin', the vote was going to be a crushing landslide. Stand back--we'll take you with us. The screening itself was a bit sad. Something was egregiously wrong with the audio, so that all the bass was grinding and sandy, and the treble was nonexistent, resembling the experience of answering the phone in the middle of the night when you're wearing earplugs, but you've forgotten about the earplugs. You can just hear some faraway, high-pitched noises, loosely approximating the rhythms of human speech.

Chastened, we returned to the HS for "Happy Hour," but I guess we were the only ones desiring a dose of the happy sauce at 4:45 on a Temecula Thursday, because again, we were the only ones there. And somehow we ended up with five matching Dr. Peppers after all that.

It might have been nice to check out that "industry party" for which we'd been given the hush-hush private invitation (you know, we'd be blindfolded and led to a van to travel to the top-secret location) but two of us had four-year-olds at home. Scratch that: one of us did. The other had contrived to drive all the way to Temecula after hiring a babysitter WHOM SHE HAD LOCKED OUT OF THE HOUSE WITH NO KEY. I'll let you guess who that was. But I'll add that she is truly proud of this fine display of parenting savvy.

That last bit didn't stop us from heading to Old Town, which on a hot, dusty evening in early September, appeared as if a Wild West shoot-out would happen any minute now. We ate dinner at a passable place, verging on crapcake, but they had a nice patio and some fun '70s tunes. I tried not to grimace too much when I sipped my Lemon Drop, which tasted a bit like Mop n' Glo with a sugar rim.

There was a lot of hilarity on the way home. That's all I remember--the hilarity. And a lot of it. I'm going to call the field trip a success. It's all material, and that's what counts.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Autumn Breeze

Well, it's all over but the cryin'. No more theater on the least for another year. Last night's show had a very enthusiastic audience (and a big one) but I learned something: it's a lot more fun to play two parts after playing one, than to play one when you've tasted the honey of playing two. Sure, sure, there's less costuming involved. But after being Dorimene twice and really starting to spread my wings in the part, it was surprisingly tough to give her back to Rachel.

So, yeah, my alter-ego resurfaced at the last minute. I literally didn't know until I got to the park--I had my costumes in the car. Which was fine, theoretically. But then I watched her up there and wished it was me. And couldn't seem to stop myself from saying to every single person who approached me afterward: "Other nights, I have more to do. I'm in the wig. Me. Yeah, you should try to picture that. Better yet, you should have seen it live. Did I mention I was TWO characters? On other nights. You shoulda been there." I kind of wanted to smack myself, but that didn't stop me. People were probably really sorry they talked to me at all.

Jarrah, having attended all four shows, is going to miss the peripatetic theater lifestyle. Yesterday she asked, "Which restaurant will we go to after the show?" When I told her the cast party dinner was "grown-ups only," she did her own reconnaissance with Lorenzo's granddaughter Leilani, and circled back with a perturbed expression: "SHE is going to the dinner. And SHE is not a grown-up." She might have followed with, "Is there something you'd like to tell me, hmmmm?" but it was implied. What Jarrah really liked about OB was the park, where she could run and scream with the other kids--last night there really was a demented number of distractions, everything from trick skateboarding to people playing ball in what was technically our backstage. But the show must go on.

John/Marphurius took us all to dinner at Nick's, a nice place with a view of the water. I sulked a bit because I was sitting with children, including my own, who was pretty far gone with tiredness and kept doing stuff like removing her jacket, then starting to cry because "I'm soooo cold." Also my Cosmo was too lemony. I hate that. But everyone else was in an exultant mood, and if it counts for anything, I wanted to be. I do get a pretty intense and instant let-down when a show is over. "I hate when things are over," as the song goes.

Afterward, I learned some more things about OB, so I will provide an addendum to the previous list:

More Things I Learned In And About OB

1. People on the beach really like artificial illumination. They will shine their torches at trash and fish and even set up a unit with the power of a prison spotlight just because they can.

2. There's a lot of spontaneous making out, seemingly in direct, perhaps magnetic, proportion to the couple's proximity to me.

3. If you are planning to drop your pants and pee in the ocean, it's probably best to just do it, rather than approaching potential spectators to say "Sorry to spoil your view, but I'm going to take a piss in the water right now. Have a lovely evening."

4. If you wear a really short dress and then sit on the beach, you are going to get sand in your soft bits. It's unavoidable.

5. The rats were not a one-time fluke. They are still the size of mongeese. But they feel vulnerable out in the open, so you are okay. Still, it can't hurt to check your purse.

6. Sometimes drunk people yell a lot and call people names. Which I never get. I am a sweet drunk. A Giselle-from-Enchanted drunk. I'm adorable. Trust me.

7. Just because you are carrying a boom box the size of a suitcase Atlas-like on your shoulders doesn't mean you aren't thoughtful. Maybe you will suddenly turn it off as you approach me, and tell me to have a nice night. Which is especially thoughtful if you then refrain from peeing in front of me.

6. People enjoy narrating their own OB experience, and will make unsolicited statements, even engaging in self-conscious tourist promotion-type proclamations like "Watch out, you're in OB!"

7. I get a bit flustered when guys in dreadlocks almost fall on me. Or maybe they're just pretending to fall on me, which makes me even more flustered.

8. Still being asked for cigarettes. Still with the not smoking. This gets funnier each time.

9. Tweakers, belligerent drunks, make-out couples, skateboarders, strolling moon-gazers, gaggles of girlfriends and boardwalk language poets are a bit like the seals on Shelter Island: their excitability increases in direct proportion to the lateness of the hour.

10. OB still looks gorgeous under an almost-full moon.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Good People of OB Enjoy The Wedding

Well, there's a slight chance that my career as Dorimene is not over. Just heard from Hannah that I'm on stand-by for tonight in case Rachel hasn't made it back from her cruise. Which is, of course, totally fine. As if I'd complain about getting to wear the wig again. Though I must confess I was sort of relaxed in my mind about the evening and suddenly was seized with stage fright again.

Last night's show was a hoot. And a holler. All kinds of "H" words. We had a nice crowd at the park (including a sleeping homeless guy who was none too pleased to be ousted from his perch, which just happened to be right behind our stage.) I had a bunch of guests--Karol and Joe, who were seeing one of my shows for the first time, a couple Nia students (I must confess their names escape me--rare for me, I know) Grace, Carl and Julianna (the latter amused Jarrah until showtime) and--treat of treats--Bethie! And it was was her birthday! How cool that she chose to spend it watching me in a giant wig. I am certainly honored.

Lindsey and Thomas (my sister and BIL) were supposed to attend, and I peeked between the flats with anguish as 6:00 neared, as I could see they weren't there. Turns out they were stuck in holiday weekend traffic from LA, and missed the show completely. I am ashamed to admit that I wasn't the least bit gracious--quite the contrary, I snarked "Glad you could make it!" when she approached me after the audience meet-and-greet. Oh well. I apologized eventually, and they came to the after-party at Ron's, so that mollified me a bit.

The show was especially high-energy last night--I hope we can keep that momentum going. I felt liberated, somehow, of any vanity, and able to embrace the "BIGGER IS BETTER!" creed we've been living by. And--sure enough--I got way more laughs this way. I could hear them, and I played to it. Always the best feeling in the world, when it's available.

Afterward, I ate some birthday cake with Bethie and her gang in the dark park (Mark was there, with a lark) and then on to Ron's for a feast with the cast. He and his wife, who don't drink, suggested it would be okay for us to BYOB, but they might not have counted on the trunk-sized cooler full of gin, tonic, ice and limes that I (actually, I won't lie--that some of the boys) lugged across their threshold. It wasn't long before we were all shrieking and cackling and playing "the sound game" where everyone around the table reacts to a sound that the person before them made. It was very funny, possibly funnier because of gin. My sister, who is not as much of a showy peacock as her elder, was a good sport about it, which is all I could ask.

This time, we were in Mission Beach (Mission Bay?) which--if you read my comments last time--is never, ever called "MB." After the party, there were fireworks over the bay, and a moon only slightly waning shone on what I termed a "swamp" but which is apparently a "marsh" or "slough." I'm glad I'm getting an education about this great land of ours. Whatever the geography is accurately named, it's lovely, and that's a technical term I am sure about.

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Local Color

Last night was our final Moliere rehearsal, at a smoldering hot park in OB with many, many screaming children about 10 feet away. People kept saying optimistically that there won't be screaming children during our show, but how do they know that? I am missing our waterfront palace at Shelter Island, but I know it will be fun to try something new. (I'll just keep repeating that.) Because I am an idiot, there is already a heavy doorjamb on my heart because we have two more shows and then we are done. Who gets that way when the thing hasn't even ended? I do. Because I'm an idiot.

The night itself, however, was perfectly divine. Well, not perfectly (see below.) Last year, I did NaBloPoMo and made lists for 31 days. I think I'm going to turn this post into a list.

What I Learned In And About OB Last Night

1. If you are given a little slip of paper with the instructions "you have sticks in your shoes, and your feet are killing you" (your director likes to have fun) you won't even need to act if the park is covered with teeny-tiny acorn-like nuts and you are in bare feet. And everyone will just ask "Did you need to pee?" anyway.

2. There is a way in which my hair will grow higher and frizzier than proximity to the ocean. Proximity to the ocean plus 89 percent humidity. That does the trick of making me look like Lily Munster quite handily.

3. If you want a burger, you could wait in the 8-hour line at Hodad's. But the place across the street is tasty and has no line.

4. There are a lot of "tweakers" in OB, and people smoking weed out of teapots. They are fine.

5. Don't go in the ocean. Still not sure why, but that's what I was told.

6. The pier is very long. Maybe 8 miles long, I'm not sure. If you walk to the very end, you see that at least 50 percent of its population is under three. Many of this set have their own fishing poles.

7. People fish with glow sticks, but not the ones from the dollar store. Expensive ones.

8. There are rats on the beach. RATS. The size of mongooses. (Mongeese?) They run to and fro with no discernible reason for being there. What do rats need with sand?

9. If you walk several miles, ice cream tastes even better. But if it's served in a shop that's like 110 degrees, it melts. FAST.

10. Sometimes men who don't even seem drunk will try to talk to you with no encouragement (and a fair amount of discouragement.)

11. The lyrics to "Beauty and The Beast" are kind of naughty. Who knew?

12. People will ask you for cigarettes--a lot--and get sort of miffed if you say you don't smoke, like you are inconveniencing them and should just start already.

13. Rats, tweakers, drunks, skateboarders, sand, oceans, piers and everybody look extra-extra beautiful under a full moon in OB. Especially in OB.

The Great, Wide Open

This morning we had our "open house" for Jarrah's preschool, and she got to experience the biggest kids' room for the first time. Not surprisingly, she was fine with it. She and her friend Amelia settled themselves into a kiddie car with a doctor kit and stayed there for 30 minutes. When the bell rang for clean-up, she didn't hesitate, hanging purses and capes neatly in the armoire like she'd been doing it for months.

Her mama, however, is not nearly so adaptable. Last year I wanted to run sobbing back to Barbara and Janet's class, fling my arms around them and wail "I'm not ready to leave you!" This year was even worse. I missed Janet (different Janet) and Ilene terribly even though I knew they were next door, and felt especially strange when I saw a sign reading "Room Parents" with two names that were distinctly not mine. I have been the room parent for two straight years, and it's been such a busy August I forgot to wonder why no one had called me. Harumph. Okay, I thought I was pretty good at that job. I made all kinds of entertaining witticisms in my monthly reports. At least I thought they were entertaining.

Even weirder, someone asked a question about the after-school classes, and one of J's new teachers explained there would be a dance class on Wednesdays and didn't even acknowledge me. I started to interject that the date was still in question, but she and the other teacher said "No, it's definitely Wednesday, because..." but by then I was no longer listening because I was thinking "Wha...? Have I been fired?"

And Readers, I sort of have. I was scheduled for Wednesdays without my say-so, and now that I've complained about Wednesdays, they've decided to stick with Wednesdays and another gal who teaches Israeli dance is going to step in. At least I think that's what was discussed when I approached the director about it. I just wondered why no one had mentioned any of this to me before today--hearing about it in front of the whole room was mighty weird.

So I was a bit unsettled when we headed back out into the 100-degree noontime and not feeling very park-ish at all. I ended up inviting Robyn and the boys back to our place for lunch and playing, and that did lift my spirits. Invoking our writing collaboration, Robyn asked me "Were you married to it?" (meaning the dance class), and I said "No, I suppose I wasn't married to it." Not sure yet how I feel about the whole situation.

I know that in two weeks, Jarrah will be blissfully happy in her new (last, sob!) room at PFP, and that I will follow, digging in my heels. It's how I deal with change. I resist and resist and resist and then, suddenly, I am there, and it's good after all. Here's hoping the trend continues.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Totally Cheesy (In A Good Way)

Today we went to Chuck E. Cheese with Robyn and the boys. It is almost our two-year anniversary of our first Chuck E. visit, when Jarrah was two.

My theory by now is that there are two schools of parenting. One is the "I'll see you in hell before I darken the threshold of that seething pit of base humanity" school. The other is the "Don't tell anyone, but I sort of could stay here all day refilling my six-ounce soda cup and shooting stuff while ostensibly 'watching' my child" school. Clearly, I am an apprentice of the latter. Which is fine with me, because, what's the big freakin' deal? Pizza, games,'s all good.

And it's even better now, because--accompanied by Jared and Joshua--Jarrah was off like a shot before I could say "Do you want another slice?" Robyn and I shouted over the "entertainment" and occasionally dispensed more tokens, but otherwise, our presence was totally unnecessary. I even spotted Jarrah wantonly flinging her arms around the strolling troubadour version of Chuck E.--I'm watching you, young rodent. Don't get handsy.

Which was fine, because I really don't like anyone breaking my concentration when I'm totally getting the bonus score for Pirates of the Caribbean pinball. And when two-year-olds wander in front of my free throws, I have to restrain myself from delicately kicking them to the side. I'm on the clock here! And don't even get me started on the yogi-like meditative state I reach in a high-scoring Skeeball round. Because I will go on.

Jarrah's new love is the "ticket muncher," which for some reason sounds a bit off-color to me, especially when it's actually doing the munching. Back to the focus groups, people. But the three Js were happy to feed 520 (!) tickets into that baby and happier still to spend the receipts on a somewhat un-vast assortment of plastic treasures, including a secret decoder ring, a bracelet, and a lollypop (who ya talkin' to?) for little Miss J. Meanwhile, Robyn and I had spent a blissful couple of hours of coffee talk (pizza talk?) and even shared a turn on the "Fright Coaster" simulator, which was relaxing to my nether regions but freaked out my inner ears.

And Jarrah's impression of CEC as a sort of spa for the preschool soul is unwavering. We went to Target afterward (it's in the same parking lot) and while we were there, she announced she was hungry again and suggested a brilliant solution: going back to CEC for another pizza. Hmmmm.


We are deep into Jarrah's "off week" between camp and a new preschool year (her last!) and I am torn. Can you help me, Readers? I have to decide today.

David is off to Amsterdam soon--very soon--for a conference related to his work. He has asked me to go with him. My parents--brave souls that they are--have offered to host Jarrah at their place for a full week, possibly more depending on travel.

So why am I not leaping at the chance to fly off to Europe (for the first time since 1991, I might add) and explore a new city (which is supposed to be beautiful, interesting and easy to navigate)? Argh. Who knows?

There's the fact that it's very far away. I'm not a great traveler, and no doubt I will be very tired. David will be working part of the time, so I will need to amuse myself (can I still do that, I wonder?) It's also VERY soon, and when I think about everything that has to be taken care of, I find myself going into avoidance mode.

But the part that's freaking me out the most is Jarrah has never been apart from us for anything close to a week before. Never. She's also never stayed with my parents before. Oh, she knows them really well--we visit all the time--but she's never stayed over. I keep trying to imagine them together for a whole week and I...can't quite do it.

Am I a fool? Should I throw caution to the wind and jet off on this adventure, let the details take care of themselves? (Now trying to imagine myself with the personality for that...) Or should I be responsible, let my husband take care of business in a faraway land while I keep the homefires burning?

Also please answer this: why don't I have a gut instinct pointing me in one direction or the other? I almost always do. Not this time.