Saturday, July 31, 2004

Rescuing J, and the aftermath in my heart

It's true. I'm not. I tried. I'm tired enough. I feel like I'm still in the ocean. I'm still moving. I feel waves. I can't quite get it to stop. I took one of the anti-vertigo pills that I had prescribed to me earlier this year when I had a serious bout with the dizzies that just wouldn't or couldn't quit.

(You know the vertigo is so dangerous you'll have to sign a waver).

But I can't fall asleep yet. It'll be about an hour before the pill itself renders me unconscious, part and parcel of dealing with being dizzy is a pill that knocks your ass on its ass and makes you sleep long and hard. Doug's asleep, Jessica won't paint my toenails for me, so, I journal the day's events.

There's an event I'm still mulling over.

I was at D's beach house today. Her friend P has a little 5 year old boy who's name begins with J.

J and Geoff got along pretty well. We all played like mad together. At one point, D. asked me "How'd you end up with all the kids?" I usually do end up with all the kids. And it doesn't bother me in the least.

We flew a kite. We went tide pooling. P. came with us for a long walk. It was nice to spend time with someone and get to know them. J. told me how when you crash your dirt bike you say "I got busted" and I told him I was so proud to learn something new today, and thanked him for being my teacher. He was thrilled to be a teacher.

Like me with Geoff, P. rolled her eyes at her son's ridiculousness, but I ate it up. Geoff's my kid. He does the same shit. And other people eat it up while my eyes do the rolling thing.

Later in the day, Geoff and J. were using a boogie board to desperately try and catch any possible tiny lump of a wave. The tide had gone out hugely far, and unbeknownst to me, the current is a bitch when the tide is full out.

Geoff wanted to get ready to go inside to watch Pokemon at 4pm, so he gave J. the boogie board. All the moms were on the beach, but me and my little foldy chair were right in the tide, all the way in at the water's edge.

Geoff started out of the water and I took one look at J. He didn't look very... confident in his solitary position.

"Do you need a hand, buddy?" I asked him.

Had he said no, I probably would have walked away, knowing other mommies had an eye on him too. I would have thought nothing of it.

"Yes, I need some help," he answered in this very scared little voice.

I didn't jump. It seemed routine. Pull a kid back to where he feels safe, encourage him to stay there. Yadda yadda ya. Piece of cake.

I got up out of my seat, and walked into the unbelievably Oh My God It's Freezing cold water. I took three steps and the fourth put me in over my head. I had no idea the channel dropped off right there at low tide.

Suddenly, I had a mouthful of water, and my hand was still about 5 feet away from the edge of the boogie board, and J... I recovered from the sudden shock of submersion in ice water, hit bottom with both feet and launched to J.

I grabbed the end of the boogie board with my finger tips, knowing that if I didn't I'd probably sink from the shock of being so damn cold, and he'd be floating out to the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant while I waited for someone to come rescue me, too.

When I spit out the mouthful of water I'd just about inhaled, and started to paddle and kick back to the shallow ledge, J. told me that spitting was disgusting.

It made me smile, that in this instant of impending doom, he'd see the one thing that I did that was "Eww, gross" instead of "Yay! You're saving me!"

"That's the least of my worries right now, buddy," I answered. "My biggest concern is getting you and me to a place where my feet hit the ground."

A few kicks later and I was there, the water was suddenly 2 feet deep again, crisis and near death averted, and I stood him up and took the board away. I encouraged him to stay out of the water until the tide came up, and I was bricking as I totally realized,

I saved his little life.

No lie.

Totally and completely, I saved him. And it overwhelms me. What if he told me he was all set, and I turned and walked away? How quickly would he have been out in the channel, a little 5 year old peanut boy unable to swim, float or anything. No one else would have been able to get to him.

Holy shit. I stopped in my tracks, board in hand, noting Geoff's location up the beach. I looked J. in the eye.

"Dude, do you realize I saved you?"

And his short little blonde hair which blended perfectly into his pretty white forehead, and his bright shiny eyes looked at me.

"Yeah," he answered and then he threw a handful of sand at me.

Praise the Lord.


I had a wonderful time at the beach today. I realized today that there are so many smells that I forgotten from having not gone to the beach in an incredibly long time.

I forgot what the smell of certain suntan oils mixed with salt water and humid air smells like. The smell of someone smoking at the beach --- it's probably the only place that the smell of a cigarette doesn't entirely gross the hell out of me. How books smell when you're reading them at the beach.

And how little blonde haired boys smell when you get home, get showered and cleaned up and into a little skin lotion to soothe that sunburn on the lower back where you missed putting on sunblock.

I let P. know what happened with J. today. She was thankful and said that she saw him looking not too comfortable and had just stood up when she saw me go out and in to grab him. Glad all eyes were out on alert for the boys today.

I'm glad that P. gets to bring him home and smell what he smells like after a day at the beach, because Holy Mother, it would so suck to have lost that for good.

I smelled Geoff good and hard this evening.

He will NOT let me kiss him. "Kisses are for babies," he tells me. Once in a while I squeeze one in, but boy does he get mad.

So we do this new thing. We put our faces near each other, usually cheek to cheek, and we make this puckery sucking noise into the air together. He counts it off, One Two Three! "Pop!" And it is incredibly funny. Not as good as a kiss on his little blonde head, but hey. It's a good time.

And I'm so thankful for it.


Another thing that overwhelms me about today is what if I wasn't there and it was Geoff who was 10 feet over his head and out into the channel. He can hold his breath. He can be in over his head with the boogie board and damned if he doesn't hold onto that thing as if it is Odysseus' garter. He is two years older, a foot taller, and a lot stronger.

Would another person have jumped in? I think in this group of women, yes, absolutely. Someone would have jumped in. But would they have done so quickly? I don't know. Everyone was so mellow, and I don't think everyone knew about the evil drop off into the Mariana Trench right there in the middle of playtime.

Could I have lost the boy?

I can't bear to imagine such an instant in my life where voom, he's gone. I can't bear to even ponder what my life would be like. It paralyzes me, it makes me...

unable to sleep.

I bitch about the little brats, sure I do. This journal is mostly my opportunity to vent when they get under my fingernails. But oh my God. What joy they bring, and how much fun I have with them. And I would cease to be the person I am if I lost one of them.

Which, I think, is more the reason I cannot sleep tonight.

Do me a favor. Go in your kids' room, if you have a kid. Smell him, or her.

Yeah, I'm totally serious. Smell them. Smell what they smell like. And try to never forget it. Do you remember what he smelled like when he was a baby? A toddler? It gets harder to do this activity when he or she is older. 10 is one thing. 18, well... your 18 year old may not appreciate the smelling, but tell him it's an experiment in parenting and bonding and you're not looking to see if he smells like pot (if he does, kick his ass? maybe?).

Tomorrow, ask him or her to teach you something. If you get the "Mom or Dad, you're a friggin' psycho" look, just ask them to humor you and tell them you sure as hell humor them more than they can imagine and they'd better frigging get busy and teach you something, damnit!.

If she wants to teach you the intricacies of "Harvest Moon" for PlayStation II, pay close attention.

If he wants to talk about some friggin' Pokemon they like, find out its stats, it's weight, whether it is water, rock, earth or fire type.

And smell him or her again. Kiss him or her if kisses aren't for babies, and if kisses ARE for babies, just make a funny noise cheek to cheek.

You'll never regret it.

Much love and now off to try and sleep.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Photos from July 2004 - PIG ROAST!















































DNC observations

In the end, Boston during the convention was not as bad as it could have been. I'd actually welcome Boston Police pointy-nosed smarty pants talking head Mary Ellen Burns if she wanted to come on the news and give a big fat "I told you so" to everyone in the region.

The predicted traffic nightmares were never realized, mostly because 90% of those commuting into the city either STAYED in the city (like our girl Taunia) or they bailed for points north. With a substantial number of people not coming into town at all, traffic moved nicely. In fact, it was downright "The Day After" in a few places from what I can see.

Doug's commute went well, and this morning he left knowing that a lot more people would be hitting the roads to come into town even though it is Friday. So he anticipates things being a bit more back to normal.

I didn't watch a lot of the convention. We watched Kerry's speech last night and I honestly want to know what kind of bullshit lie he is telling when he said as a child (living with his Army based dad in West Berlin) he rode his bike across the line into East Berlin and saw the fear in the faces of those who do not have freedom.

"La la la la, I'm out riding my bike, I think I'll ride over the top of the Berlin Wall to get to the east side and check it out. La la la la. Oops, can't ride over it. Too much barbed wire. But I guess these nice army guys will let me just ride through this big gate. La la la di da, hello Army guys, I'm just a wistful little American boy out for a bikey today. Mind if I check out the Strasse over here!? Thanks! You're not half bad! Auf Wiedersehn!"



Right. Thing is, later he'll come back and say "I never said I actually RODE my bike into East Berlin. I looked into East Berlin... you misheard me..."

Well then why would your dad promptly ground you for LOOKING at something like... a house and a neighborhood? Please don't make up stories, and then tell me I misheard you, Mr. Kerry. It doesn't endear.

Best part of the night though was the balloon drop. On the local news, earlier in the week they interviewed the woman who owns the balloon company, and turns out the balloons alone ran the DNC a half million bucks. Nice! So knowing that, I'm sitting there waiting to see a half million dollar balloon display.

Instead of $500,000 worth of spherage, I see like five dollars worth.

Where are the balloons?

Doug, Jessica and I are sitting there, and she says out loud "Hey, that's not a lot of balloons. Where are the balloons???!!! They showed them up in the rafters. What's the deal?"

And there were rows and rows and rows of tubed up balloons, just waiting. Something obviously was wrong. And after a while it all got corrected but not until the grandstand champions were listening to their third in a string of victory songs.

Which leads to the funny part. After the whole whoop-di-doo was over, Doug gets online and I hear him laughing his ass off. He calls me into the study and shows me this news article off of the Drudge Report.

Normally I steer clear of Drudge, Michael Savage, many of the right side pundits. Lileks is the only one I read and he'd cringe if he heard me actually categorize him as "right" side. If you avoid Drudge like the plague, expose yourself today. This is a good one. The CNN director guy was on a live mike when the balloons weren't dropping, on the air, across America, freaking out. Or at least swearing Dick Cheney style. Heh. Dude dropped an F bomb. Sorry I missed it. I saw the Janet Boobie thing live, would have loved to have heard this live.

Drudge posts a .wav file, which I can't listen to because my sound isn't working. But you can listen to it if you want.

Overall, yeah. Boston Survived. The balloons fell. I would hate to be a resident of the area where the fireworks went off sometime after midnight... but. Hell. Once in a lifetime opportunity for some, and I'm glad folks had a good time.

While we were at the beach on Tuesday, two fighter jets were circling overhead for most of the day. There was one little airplane flying an advertising streamer, and he may just have been flying too close to the power plant. Other than those three birds, there wasn't a plane to be seen in the sky anywhere.

D's beach house is really close to the Seabrook Nukular power plant, so whenever the drawbridge for rte 1A went up, the jets were there. Checking out the fishing trawlers, the whalewatch boats, the traffic parked on the bridge... it was kind of creepy. I guess on Monday at high tide some kids wanted to jump off the bridge into the water and Army Guys came out with rifles and the whole thing.

We're off to the beach again today. Last day possible before the kids go away. I'll have two fairly kid-free weeks here. Huzzah!

That's about it for me. I'm going to QA the remaining dart pages and get going. More later!

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Ben Affleck gum

Each morning when I wake up, there is a webpage sitting up on the computer for me to read. Doug surfs the web before bed and always saves something funny for me.

This morning, he left this wepage which is a parody of this webpage. I highly encourage you to visit and then parouse the entire site and enjoy. Nothing better in this world than making funny.

I'm not going to talk too much about the convention except for this:

Ben Affleck needs to stop chewing gum like a cow.

The first few days of the convention he was all over the news and TV live shots, and there was this tremendous wad of chewing gum in his mouth. He's at the Red Sox game - chomp chomp chomp, move to other side of his big horse teeth mouth, chomp chomp chomp. He's at some sort of anti-Bush "Rock the Vote" discussion group talking about how people against gay marriage are sitting there yelling "I don't wanna marry a gay!" and chomp chomp chew, roll, move to other side, chomp, chomp.

The only time he wasn't maowing on a humongous lump of chewable sugar was when he was on the O'Reilly Factor. And thank GOD because the camera was so tight in and up his nose that we would have been able to see the spit bubbles in the ever present Bubblicious.

So someone, please. Tell the boy to chew less like cow, more like gentleman. I used to think Ben Affleck was good looking. But those choppers and that gooey gob made me swoon. Not from adoration but nausea.

Stop bovinely chewing gum in public! Ewwwww. It'll never garner you a new girlfriend, which might be a joke because it is rumored Jennifer Garner is the new squeeze. Perhaps he'll only date Jens from now on to continue the ever so clever Bennifer moniker.

Hopefully with less gum in his mouth.

Every summer, my former boss (from my last major company) rents a summer house for a couple of weeks on the ocean in New Hampshire. Normally I don't have the day-time time to come and hang with her for her vacation, although she ALWAYS invites me.

This year is obviously different.

I did 2 hours worth of design work on Tuesday morning, and at 11am packed the kids into the truck to head up the coast to Seabrook, where D. and her friends and some Chocolate Espresso Martinis were waiting for me.

We had a friggin' blast and a half. D. had a friend there with a 13 year old girl, 10 and 11 year old boys, and my two kids blended in for the most part (Jessica did for certain, Geoff spent more time annoying them than anything...)

Geoff is a monster wave surfer, he was the only one in the water for a long time. In fact, it was pissing off the fishermen. Yeah, bite me ass. Share the waterfront.

The tide was coming in, and Geoff wanted to body surf but kept running face first into the waves. I had to get in and show him how to do it. Again, we're the only people in the ocean. It's FREEZING, but after a little while I didn't notice it anymore and it was damn fun.

We stayed for dinner and headed home -- tired and exhausted. My legs and shoulders still hurt from all that fun. Perhaps we'll do it again tomorrow.

Yesterday I spent a few hours at C & M's restoration shop working on their computer but it is ... not doing what I want it to do. I won't say it's hopeless. But it isn't working right. I left my virus software with her, and I'm afraid I left my blueberries too. I'm rather forgetful.

Today we don't have a car. The "Check Engine" light came on in Doug's new VW, so he called and they said to bring it in. I want it done by tonight so I can go pick it up and go to the beach! I don't want to have to have it be ready tomorrow and then be stuck here a second day with the kids. Must take to beach so they can run rampant. It HAS to be fixed by Monday or there will be hell to pay. I'm teaching, kids are in camp. Not happy about the car thing.

Not much else to tell. I'm rather boring today except for my obsession with Ben Affleck's Gum Chewing Skills (or lack thereof). I wish I had something more substantial to offer. Perhaps next visit. Meh.

Monday, July 26, 2004

there is no 'and then'

The weekend wrap up is called for, I guess. Friday night I set up a campfire, had tiki-torches lit and was ready for a party with my work-weary husband. He got home at 7pm, after I grilled swordfish to perfection, and he promptly fell asleep. No lie. 7pm in the door, 7:05 snoring.

So there was this pitcher of gin & tonic that I'd made.

By about 9pm it was gone, and so was I. Wheeeee! Even though it is one of my cardinal rules that you never EVER do this --- I drunk phone called my sister (she didn't know I was drunk) and Amy.

Yes, I'm pathetic.

I had the camp fire until well after midnight, and then came in to get ready for bed, but got sucked into "I love the 90s" and watched until 2am.

Saturday morning dawned too soon. I slept until about 9 and then we got up and ready to go geocaching.

Needless to say, I didn't feel well in the first place, but my Atkins based lunch of sausage and cheese and a salad was sitting in my stomach like an exploding penguin on a telly. I thought I might be sick. The first cache we did was incredibly easy. The second one entailed hiking up a huge hill that just wouldn't end. We'd come to a flat part, a fork in the trail, and head further up. Bleaurgh.

While at the top of the hill searching for the cache, another cacher came to the site and we got to chatting with him. When we introduced ourselves by username he cracked up "I see your logs all over! You're famous!" He accompanied us to the next one that we did, and it was fun to spend time with someone on the trail other than us... we talked about favorite caches, places we'll never forget, Kinger jumping off a cliff in Londonderry. The usual.

We went to a fourth site, but it was a multi-staged cache, and the clues at each set of coordinates are smaller than your thumbnail, no lie. We found the first clue, but not the second... so we gave up.

I slept like the dead that night.

Sunday dawned and looked beautiful, so what did we do? We went geocaching again. We hit our first one and while we were hiking to the site another hiker approached us, with GPS in hand. We introduced ourselves, and he was thrilled to meet us "Oh! Team Screamapillar! I see your name all over the place!" Second time in two days and we meet someone very familiar with us.

We hiked with him, found the cache, and hiked back to our vehicles. He really liked our dogs, and we found parts of a woodsy haunted hayride thing on the trails, including a fake electric chair, which I can't wait to download the pictures for. Heh. It was good for a laugh.

We headed up into Nashua where we did a cache in a little park off Spit Brook Road, and then into Dunstable to an old railway bridge on the state line.

There are two caches in that area, one was easy as pie, and the second provided quite a challenge. We missed the turn that we wanted, ended up at a quarry about .10 from the cache site. Kinger couldn't jump up the rocks in order to climb up and around the quarry, so Jessie volunteered to stay with the dogs (anything to get out of bushwhacking!)

Doug, Geoff and I set off, and climbed up the quarry counter clockwise. It was a really pretty area, and I was jonesing for a swim, but didn't want to fall in. Jack jumped in the quarry and swam across it, scrambling up the rocks to join us. Scared me shitless. He couldn't deal with being apart from us, so he came with us to the site. I'm just glad he didn't wipe out and plummet to his death!

Getting to the cache was a bitch and a half. We basically had to hard-core bushwhack for over 500 feet to get to the actual site. It was hot and sticky, the sun was brutal... gah. The cache was pimpy and lame, but hell. We did it.

Everyone got ice cream when we got home.

I so wish we had a pool to jump into when we get home from days like yesterday. What a refreshing treat that would be.

Anyway. Slept like the dead last night too.

This morning dawned too early, I did two hours worth of Dart People work, including writing up the "this is your final product" document and an agreement for further work to be based on a per-hour charge with limits as to what my involvement will be. I sent the second draft of the Salem in History page over to the director, haven't heard back from her yet. I then took Geoff over to the pond for a couple of hours, where he swam like a fish with the fish, and I got a little sunburn on the flatland of my chest. But it'll be okay.

I remembered while I was sitting there that this week my boss from 2 jobs ago (at CMGI) is renting a cottage on the ocean in Seabrook NH. I could have taken Geoff there to swim today. Gah. Hopefully the weather will clear up enough this week to make for a good visit day. I have been invited for the past three summers to join her there, but never have had the chance to go. Nex week isn't going to work because a week from today I'm teaching at the college with professor CM, and the kids have to be in camp.

Suddenly realizing that it is a week away freaked me out. I stopped by the camp and paid the deposit and dropped off their medical records. They have to be there for a swimming test next Sunday. Jessica wants to do sleep over camp, so I just have to figure out where the rest of the money is coming from (hopefully my tenant will pay the rent totally on time!) and what time the class I'm teaching gets out, so I can jet up here to grab him. I'm hoping Doug will do the dropping off bit without being too pissy about it, so I can get down there early for set up.

And then my parents come up for a few days.

And we go to a wedding, and then the kids go to NY for a week.

And then?

And then?

"There is no AND THEN!"

Well, that's about it for me. I've got some cleaning to do. I need to get an oil change in the truck, want to load the back of the truck up with the returnable bottles and cans, and get some serious crap done around the yard. More later peeps. Enjoy the rest of your day.

Friday, July 23, 2004

the DNC approaches

I-93 will close for certain periods of time beginning Sunday night. The DNC is here, it is upon us, and I'm wondering what the traffic on the north and south bound highways are like even at this early hour of 11am as people flee the metropolis for non-DNC traffic restricted locales all through New England.

I contemplated leaving the area myself, without the DNC as an excuse but because ... I can. I'm unencumbered. If I want to go to Maine or NY I can. But. That would strand Doug. And Team Way Out Inn sticks together even when the going gets rough.

Doug informed me that his commute should be interesting. He travels down 93 to the town right where they're closing the highway. It's four lanes wide, but starting Monday morning only TWO lanes will be open.

Four lanes which are normally 90% filled with people driving southbound is going to be two lanes filled with people driving southbound, unless more than 50% of the people who normally traverse this highway opted to take the week off. And then traffic won't be so bad. Which is what the Democratic National Committee and everyone else surrounding the event recommend people do. But no one really knows if 50% of the people are staying away from the city.

But Doug doesn't really have a choice. It's not like he can telecommute for a week. As for staying away, if he took the time off someone else would have to be brought in per diem. If a patient can't swallow, if there is no SLP on board on a daily basis for evals and stuff, well then, someone could die. And that's not good. And a lot of people just don't have a choice. A lot of people are saying "Shut up and suck it up -- it's only four days." But that's... well. That's four days that may be sheer hell. I told Doug he may as well stay at the nursing home for four days, find a roomie who won't mind his snoring. Something. Just stay there and don't leave. It's only four days after all.

I've seen interviews with Democratic National Committee spokeswoman MaryEllen Burns as she glibly recommends people drive out to I-495 to commute anywhere to the north or south. It's only 50 miles out of anyone's way to get to the only highway that will be open.

Yeah, come home to Peabody or Plymouth via Worcester. Great Idea.

In the best of all possible worlds, I want to see MaryEllen Burns on Monday of next week saying "see, I told you so... it wasn't so bad." In the meantime though, I have a foreboding sense of doom, and it begins with the 11 mile backup at the Hampton Tolls this evening.

Don't get me wrong.

I don't begrudge the DNC for having a convention. I think conventions are fun. Or at least, they LOOK fun. They're a big party, an opportunity for people to rally around and have a damn good time. The thing is, Boston isn't a city designed to do stuff like this inside of... Conventions should be held in Big Sunbelt Cities like Atlanta, where the roads are wide, where the arenas aren't in the middle of the town center but are out in the belt way.

Someone recommended on a radio program that they do these things way up north in Maine where Phish has their concerts, at the old asbestos-ridden air force base up there. It's spacious, no one can drive past in a car bomb next to the arena, only 2000 people in the tiny little town nearby are inconvenienced instead of 300,000 people. I think it's a stylie idea. Better yet, isn't there somewhere in like Iowa where people can go?

Another person called into the radio program and said that people just needed to relax. 3500 people are showing up for a convention, but on a daily basis 35,000 people show up for a Red Sox game and the world doesn't end, right?

The key there -- no one shuts down the mass transit system, the commuter rail, and the major highways for the Red Sox. See the difference, buddy?

There is also a lot of talk about the "Free Speech" Zones where the protest groups are being cordoned off in order to keep them away from the delegates.

For those who don't live in the area and may not be aware of what is going on, the city has set up an area for protesters. Unfortunately from the protester's point of view (and really, mine too) the areas are no where NEAR where the delegates can see or hear them. And, they are designed with HUGE chain link fences, Jersey barriers, and BARBED WIRE.

Nice Free Speech Zone. It sounds more like Gitmo to me.

Security issues being what they are, based on what I've seen happen at previous huge events like this, protests get out of hand. I can understand the need to keep protesters away from areas where they may wreak havoc on the town, and also keep them apart from the cops who ... over-react. But keeping them so far away from the people whose attention they are trying to get with their protest, I don't think that's at all fair.

So the protesters went to court, and they had a judge decide whether or not the planned "Free Speech" Zones were in violation of their right to true free speech based on the location and the design.

It's all a mess -- I'm all for free speech. I'm all for the (A) crowd having their say. But here's the kicker -- the Boston Police Union is planning to picket as well. Over the past few months, they've been picketing everyone and everything because of their lack of a contract. Arbitration resulted in a solution, but they're still going to picket events. Even though the issue is resolved. Which is INSANE if you ask me.

I wonder if they'll put the Police Union members in with the Anarchists in the Free Speech Zone, or if the cops can protest wherever they want. I think they belong in the cage with the Black Tea Society. A picket, a protest -- it's all the same. Free speech, one stop shopping.

I think that security is really important, but I think that a lot of this is sheer bullshit. Absolute bullshit. Doug and I were discussing the whole security and terrorism thing, and in our minds, any terrorist wouldn't come NEAR this kind of thing, either here or in NYC when the Republocrats do their thing. And the amount of effort and the security measures from highway closures to newspaper vending boxes vanishing from the streets is just plain wasteful.

The soft targets are the ones truly in danger. Mini-mall in Walla Walla Washington -- unprotected while billions of dollars go to protect the Fleet Center. Day care in Orlando Florida -- unprotected while the harbor in Boston now has a Coast Guard boat worth a billion dollars.

It's obvious. Isn't it? I'm not the only one who sees this. Please tell me that I'm not the only one who sees this. The terrorist goal is to obstruct our way of thinking and way of living. While John Kerry is up making his acceptance speech, a terrorist may very well see Kansas City Missouri as a tasty target. A soft tasty target.

Actually, I rather see something happening during the Republocrat's convention instead. The goal is to fuck with George Bush's re-election. If something happens during HIS acceptance speech, you better believe Americans will equate his presidency to this point with the event, and his candidacy will go down the shitter. That's what happened in Spain, did it not?

Kerry would be a shoe in, and it's pretty obvious he'll make efforts to immediately pull everyone out of Iraq, and whatever attempt the Bush administration had at staying and making sure the interim government got on its feet would be quashed, and the country would be in shambles again, and Kerry would be to blame and more terrorism will ensue because the United States screwed things up and... well. You get it.

It's all fubar no matter who is in office next.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Paralyzed

Yesterday was a wash.

I should have been working on everything, but instead took the kids to We Be Toys to spend their birthday money (Geoff had a gift card that was given him in January, it's been on the fridge, Jessie had about 30 bucks left from her booty in June). Jess had a dentist appointment too, and by the time we got back to the house from all this it was 4pm and I was just boggled as to how much time we blew.

One of the things that Geoff picked out is one of those new video arcade joystick thingies that have five "old school" games in them. He picked the Namco one, with PacMan and Dig Dug. The kids have been playing it for hours. They're sure to break it.

They got into a huge fight over it because Jessica was playing and Geoff was side kick advising. "Turn here, go there, get that guy..." and it was driving her nuts.

So to stop the fighting, I took the controller away. All hell broke loose after that, he blamed her and she blamed him. A fight ensued and he ran through the house screaming with her on his tail.

He turned and put his hand up in the international "Stop! In the name of love!" fashion and yelled

"I'm wearing Idiot Repellent! You can't touch me!"

Which stopped her dead in her tracks and made her laugh. I just about dropped the dishes I was washing, and he got himself out of a beating with wiseassery.

That's my boy.

I did some work on the website for the band that I did last month. Wait. That sounds bad. I did the website, I didn't "do" the band. Ewww. Bad grammar paints inappropriate picture. Not really a mental image they or I would like, I think.

Anyway -- they have a new EP they're releasing this month, and they're having a contest. Name that tune and win Red Sox tickets. Go here, download the unnamed track, give it a suitable name via email to Mikey, and if your name choice is picked you win tix for August 15th to see the Sox and the Sox at Fenway. Plus, you can tell me if the download worked and the MP3 plays okay. I have no sound coming out of my PC for some darn reason.

Meh.

The two projects that I need to be face first into the pie are the Dart people (so close, no matter how far...) and Salem in History. I'm still toying with the layout on that one, not happy with my header graphics at all... but very happy with the CSS that I cribbed and modified from someone else's website. Heh. Learning is good.

What is stopping me from strapping on the HTML feedbag today is the fact we have a meeting this evening with a financial advisor. Yes, Amy ... the one from your super lunch winning thing from a few months ago. Doug and I decided it would be a good idea to actually meet with him and go over some things. Especially seeing as we have no plan for Jessica for college, and that will be in six years if she goes on schedule. Gah.

And so I have to pull together documents, statements and all kinds of shit. I'm a deer in the headlights today because of this. I have no idea where some of this stuff is. I think I have a 403(b) from the College when I worked there, but I'm not sure. I've never received any sort of statement or anything. I'm not sure what the deal is there. I'm feeling overwhelmed and disorganized, as usual.

I'd really rather crawl back into bed, but it's 10:30 already, and I've nothing to show for my efforts to this point today. It's a sunny, gorgeous day. I'd much rather take the kids to the pond and swim than work on this kind of stuff, but. What needs done must be done.

And on that note, off I go to do it. More later kids. Have a good day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

"Dude, It's my favorite song too but if you yell it one more time I'll kick your ass."

I am home.

Finally.

It was a very long few days, and I'm here to report on all of it, happily and much to your chagrin. You come here expecting short little observations and ditties, don't you.

And I always give you overflowing platters loaded with the mundane, obvious and ridiculous.

Here's another one. I shall begin with Friday, July 16, 2004.



I left with the kids and headed to NY. Normally it is a no more than 5 hour trip. Traffic in Connecticut was atrocious, so I bailed in Bridgeport and grabbed the ferry we were the second to last car loaded on out of the stand-by line. Hurrah for me and thank you God because that would have been 45 minutes of waiting to see where we could have been driving.

Traffic on Long Island was no better. We got to my mom's at 5pm, a 7 hour trip total. But the ferry ride, while adding time to the trip, was fun and relaxing, and the kids were superbly behaved... lucky me.

I grabbed my sister and Ronnie, and we jetted over to the Tommy Hilfiger at Jones Beach theatre. Traffic on the way there was light, the Wantagh parkway was desolate. I was confused... but it was already close to 7pm, and that was when the opening act was kicking off. So we missed the traffic, scored pretty decent parking, and missed the opener but from what I heard in the parking lot I don't think we missed a thing.

I would have LOVED to have come early, gone to the beach with Jessie, had a tailgate with food... but. It is what it is and we made it in one piece. On to the show.

Last time I was there was to see America and Renaissance (no kidding) in like 1983. I forget who went with me. The place has changed quite a bit since then. Another level up the top, and the VIP section I don't ever remember having been there. I had VIP envy when I saw the beer and the food. But. I had Ladies Room tickets and didn't have to hang out with what seemed to be a fashionista crowd with more fashion and being seen on their minds than BNL.

Our seats were in the 8th row, Ed's side, no obstructed view. I sat next to a pair of Alanis fans who told me that Alanis would be performing first. I was pumped to know BNL would be the closer. I asked him if he got his tickets through the Alanis fan club, and he said no, that he had to join BNL's fan club to get the awesome seats... he wasn't happy about that, because he didn't like them, but he was seeing them again in Holmdel, NJ.

Thumbs up to the Ladies Room for providing excellent seats, even to folks who dislike the band! Gotta love the fan club, y'all.

I've mentioned here in the past that I'm not a big Alanis fan. I don't want any hate mail from people who worship/adore her. I don't hate her... I just don't click with her like I do the Ladies.

That having been said, I'm amazed at how I know all the words to her major hits. And she played them all. The one I wanted to hear was "Uninvited" and the girl didn't disappoint. Her band was phenomenal -- I could watch them play all day. Put someone else up in front of them singing though (heh. dig on Alanis). She was alright -- I'm still not a big fan. But... her performance was good. Her stage presence was loving, she was all smiles. The crowd didn't seem that into her, except for three people in the second row

... and this one girl who stood right in front of us. I'm not sure why it is, but at this time last year, if you recall, we went to see Nickel Creek and Bruce Cockburn with Tess, and we had Crazy Hippy Shirtless Kid dancing in front of us.

Why do I get the crazy dancers? Why? Oh, God, why?

If you were behind or around us, perhaps you saw her. Heroin chic thin, spray-on tan which needed to be rubbed into the backs of her arms and thighs better, tiny pink skirt, cami top with pinned on lacey thing. Did you see her?

In the written word, I cannot describe what this girl was doing. If one could call it dancing, one might be considered in the realm of accurate. She was all over the map. The guy in front of her (who was a dead ringer for my buddy Brian) was having a really hard time avoiding her long, enthusiastically flailing arms. It wasn't like Elaine on Seinfeld when she dances... it was a whole different animal. One needing to be caught and tagged by Steve Irwin, and re-released into the wild.

She was a VIP tent person, and when she came dashing in, just as Alanis' set began, she dragged a (what would appear to be) boyfriend with her. He sat down, and read "Self" magazine, which I presume he got in the VIP package along with the size extra negative small bebe t-shirt and a mess of other fashonista shit.

At one point, another woman came to join them. Not sure if she was Dancing Girl's mom or Recalcitrant Date's mom, but she and Recalcitrant Date sat and talked and talked while Dancing Girl did her thing.

During Alanis' big huge F-bomb classic "You Oughta Know" she really tried to get him to dance... and he steadfastly refused. And, by the way, no self-respecting man should ever be dancing to that song. Sorry. Ugh. Painful "I hate you and hope you die!" kind of tone to the song, and not a male admiration anthem.

Alanis spoke very little between songs, only to thank the crowd and tell them how happy she was to be sharing the stage with Barenaked Ladies. Reluctant Boyfriend turned to Older Woman With RatsNest Hair and said "Oh, that's who her back up band is?" I laughed heartily. I turned to Linda and made fun of the guy, but she told me to shut up because Ronnie said the same thing. Heh.

Recalcitrant Date then turned to RatsNest Hair and said "It would be nice if there was like, beer being served here... or... a cocktail or something." I bet that poor guy needed some booze at that point!

Steve, Ed and Jim joined Alanis on stage for "You Learn," which sounded bloody awful. Their mike was really hot, and their vocals sounded feedbacky. But it was cool to see them on stage together.

My only complaint about the performance itself was that I wish they'd done more stuff with each other. I really would have enjoyed that.

Mr. Garfield wanted to know if she did her Cole Porter "Delovely" song. She didn't. I would have like to have heard it live.

When Alanis finished, the people beside me left, they were very nice and I encouraged them to stay for a song or two but they were having none of that. Dancing Girl, RatsNest Hair and Recalcitrant Date left, and Dancing Girl screeched out "I loved it I loved it I love love loved it!" towhit Recalcitrant Date muttered "No shit."

My sister and I had a huge laugh.

BNL took the stage after a brief turn over. They opened with "Brian Wilson," with a very pretty little a cappella bit at the beginning (five part, pretty layered harmony. nice!) and then they launched into the second verse of the song, which Steve messed up and turned red laughing over.

The guys were really funny, they made fun of Tyler's new facial hair thing, calling him "Boceifus" while singing about football and "All my rowdy friends are comin' over tonight!" They rapped about Virgils Ribs, and made a ton of fun of Hillary Duff.

They did a never-recorded before song which may or may not be called "Bull in a China Shop" and it was awesome -- I hope it was written AFTER "Everything" came out, because THAT would have been the true Radio Hit for them on that album. It's a fabulous song... I remember reading on the discussion boards that folks went to see Steve perform solo acoustic in NYC back in November or December and he did that then, and they loved it too.

Speaking of the boards, over the past several shows I've had the opportunity to meet and greet a few people on the barenaked.net board. Mathmarie was there again, and I saw Shaun and Bob and Jeff... but didn't get a chance to go say hi to them. The Manchester show provided opportunity for me to stand next to luvmoose and a few others, and this time I got to be with Janedivided, a name I remember seeing on posts all over the place during Peepshow.

The BNL community has provided me the opportunity to meet some really nice people. Wonderful people. This time was no different. She and I sang harmony to "For You" in their Prairie Home Companion style set, and she can stand next to me singing any old time. Rock.

But for all the super and incredible people I've met in the last year there is always one person who boggles my mind. In Manchester it was stripper dancer girl. At Mohegan Sun it was the creepy guy who stood there with his middle finger up the whole time while shoving his hands down his girlfriend's pants and fingering her during the performance.

This time, there was a guy in the row in front of us who kept screaming and screaming and screaming "Break Your Heart!" in between songs and while the guys were dishing on the Broadway play "Wicked!" Everyone wanted to kill him with bare hands.

I wanted Steve and Ed to say the following:

S: Oh, you want to hear that song do you?
E: We WERE going to play it, but because you won't shutup. Fuck you.
S: Yeah, here, see the set list? It's there after we come back from the "Shopping" break and the stage gets cleaned up. But now, because you're a loudmouth jerk, it's off the list.
E: We're actually going to play more Hillary Duff songs. And only Hillary Duff songs for the rest of the night. Because you're an ass, sir. If you can't live with what we've chosen, and you insist on yelling, you ruin it for everyone.
T: Can we play some Rush songs instead? I've been practicing "Red Barchetta" and I'm really rather good at it. We could do that instead.
K: Actually, I'd rather do my bluegrass rendition of "War Pigs."
S: Well, whatever songs we end up doing for the rest of the night, it isn't going to be what this guy wants to hear. Sorry buddy.
E: Yeah, you screwed Linda out of hearing it live again. How does that feel, jerk?



Or something along those lines.

I am posting a link to this journal entry in the barenaked.net forum the way I always do. And, if the gentleman is reading this, suffice it to say that you really irritated about 100 to 150 people with your incessant yelling.

AND you annoyed my sister who was standing right behind you in a very specific non-loud manner. Why? Because you smoked cigarette after cigarette in a no-smoking venue, cupped hand over the cancer stick like no one would see, care, or notice.

My sister smokes... only she had the courtesy to take it outside when she needed a fix of vitamin N. Why you could not, is beyond her, and beyond me.

Talking about this in my online journal may bring me some heat, but really -- I'm not feeling like I felt when I was at the show when you would not shut up. Now, I actually feel sorry for you.

I hope this gives you pause to reflect on your public behavior... Your girlfriend kept giving you the "I can't believe you're doing this" eye, and the soft pathetic smile that I'm sure she serves up when she'd rather say "what is WRONG with you???!!!" and you ignored it. For her sake -- reflect. I would bet she finds something wonderful in you, and that she doesn't love you for your ability to yell "Break Your Heart" loudly while secretly puffing away on your smokes.

We all could use some improvement. Perhaps you're not even aware that your behavior is annoying. Pause, reflect -- carry on. Go forward and sin no more. M'kay?

They closed with "What a Good Boy," and blew the metaphorical roof off the joint (it being an open air theatre with no roof, well, you know).

And I love them.

I want to see Ed's left arm tattoos up close. He's got this fabulous map and fish thing going on that I simply must check out. Kevin was genius on the keys, adding all kinds of great new noises to old standards. Jim was amazing on bass. Tyler -- well hell, all his Rowdy Friends were there to see him. I actually thought he looked more like Neil Young with no hair than Boceifus. I don't even know how to spell Boceifus. Damn.

I told myself as I was driving down to NY that I didn't need to see another BNL concert for a while, due to money and time and ... money. I've seen them a mess of times in this past year (Boston, Hartford, Mohegan Sun, Manchester) and I've skipped a few shows that I would have liked to have seen (Portland, Amherst). I could live without seeing them for a wee bit.

Then, the drugs wore off.

Who the hell am I kidding? Why the hell didn't I buy tickets to Mansfield!? I'm such a dingus. Such a fool. I could see these guys all day, every day. I love them. I love their show. I'd even sit through Alanis again just to get to the other side and see them.

Gah. I'm such a friggin addict.

Saturday morning dawned too damn early. Linda, the kids and I got in the car around 10, got up here to get husband who had the truck and the dogs ready, we watched the hilly insanity leg of the Tour de France, and we headed up to Aaron and Michelle's.

10 hours in car is bad for my ass.

Anyway, if you recall, over July 4th weekend, Linda's car died in Ellsworth. Aaron got it to a mechanic and got the flux capacitor replaced along with the spark plugs, and the car needed to be retrieved. What better time than this to go get her. We spent Saturday night at the house, and Sunday Doug needed to head on home but I stayed with Linda to enjoy the rest of the Sunny Sunday and part of wet Monday.

We drove home here on Monday, stopping at a very over crowded and insane Freeport, ME for a quick visit, where Jessica bought a shirt that says "Wicked" on it, in honor of Ed and Kevin and their Broadway show viewing and mocking of said musical. Linda left and headed home, and that was our whirlwind tour of the entire northeastern United States, Minus Vermont and Rhode Island.

Today we returned to Maine, only just over the border, for Pete's 7th birthday party. I really don't want to see the highway for a while. Thank God I don't need to.

Unless I go see BNL in Mansfield with someone who has an extra ticket. Heh.

Friday, July 16, 2004

BNL/Alanis update; The Projects

I'm glad I wrote most of this yesterday, or there would be no journal entry to post today. It's 7am, and I'm hoping to pack quickly, grab a shower, and fling my children into the vehicle to head to NY to go see BNL and Alanis.

I've read a lot on the discussion boards, that the tickets to the shows thus far for the fan club have not been as good as the past 2 tours, that it seems VIP seating is up front, instead of BNL/Alanis fan seating... so I'm hoping we're not disappointed with 20th row seats which suck, when I can go onto Ticketbastard today and buy really good orchestra seats.

If you're on Long Island, go buy you some tickets. The show should rock. I'm even looking forward to seeing Alanis, and normally I am rather "meh" about her. Not a huge fan. But. I hear she's got good energy live, and that her band is amazing.

And, Ed is running around in sleeveless shirts to show off his wicked tats, his right shoulder visible in this picture here... never pegged these nerdy guys to go the way of the tattooed freak, but... there ya have it.

After BNL, tomorrow morning we're heading back up this way, grabbing Doug, and heading to Maine with my sister to retrieve her car. Finally. So I'll be off the radar here for a couple days. Unless I get a quick posting in tonight or tomorrow on journalspace.

Oh, before I forget. I was watching the news last night at 11pm, waiting to see if the 2 hikers from Acton-Boxoborough who were lost in the White Mountains had come out of the forest yet. When they said one of the names, I said "Hmmm. That's familiar..." and then I saw the families and saw his mom.

The mom was the CIO at a company where I used to work. There she was on TV, hugging family members as they got the news that the boys were okay. I'd hoped to see some sort of interview with her, just to make sure, but... without a doubt it is her. I recognized her black hair and her huge smile. In the Boston Herald article (last link) the boy's dad says he, his wife, and daughter went to help with the search. The "daughter" was one of our interns in the HR department and is seriously one of the nicest, most beautiful, lovely people I've ever met in all my days. I love that girl. I didn't see her on TV, but... I'm sure she was there.

I'm relieved for them that the boys are safe. I've not really thought of Jo much in the past couple of years, what a crazy way for her to appear back on my radar. Hurrah!

Oh, and just for fun I googled the mom's name and found some great and funny articles. I'd post links to them here, but. I'm afraid someone may find my journal by searching for her name or something... I'd rather keep a distance.

My last entry made me do some more thinking on neighbors and neighborhoods... I thought I'd talk a little bit about the way it was "back in the day" in the Projects of NY. Word.

We grew up in "the projects" and for a great many years we were the only white family around. Sometimes, another white family would move in, but they'd move out a few years later. My parents have been in their apartment for over 30 years. I've seen a lot of changes in the neighborhood. I'm sure my sister can attest to these, because she is living with my parents currently.

When I was growing up, I remember in the summer time my mom and all the other moms in the neighborhood would be out there, on the stoops, on the sidewalks, hanging out smoking and talking to all hours. All the kids played together, the playground equipment sang metal upon metal squeekings until late into the night. Until a certain age, the kids were totally unaware of the differences in skin color. That usually changed in middle school. I know it did for me, when I started getting my ass kicked by people who I considered my closest friends for years, as they pulled my hair, dragged me down the street and called me fat white honky bitch, or, they just stopped talking to me all together, which left me with NO friends because I hadn't really bonded with any of the white kids. They weren't my neighbors and friends. So for a couple of years there, I was unaffiliated.

The projects were set up so there were two different styles of houses. There were four-unit free standing buildings which looked like houses. Then there were the "townhouses" which ran all along the back perimeter of the property. They had underpasses for breezeways, and these huge concrete walls that come down at an angle. I should so take pictures of this for you. I can't believe how many times I was up on top of one of these 12 foot high concrete walls, running down its slope to get to the bottom.

So there were two kind of circles of moms who'd hang out and dish, the house unit circle and the townhouse circle. The "house circle" seemed to center around Emma Edwards. All the kids down that end of the parking lot would be out running around and playing, and the moms would come and hang out at Emma's porch.

I learned a lot from Emma. She was the most caring and loving mom who'd bitch slap your ass regardless of your skin tone if you messed up. The woman ruled with a loving, iron slappy hand.

One night I clearly remember some massive racial incident having happened in the neighborhood, and my mom was talking things over with Emma. Emma said the following, and it has stuck with me for my whole life. No offense meant by use of the N word here, it's a direct quote:

"There's black niggers and white niggers. Nigger is a state of mind."

I had to have been Jessie's age when I heard this. It struck me as incredibly profound, and from this large and loving black nurse, it made more sense than any other explination of racial issues ever thrown out there.

The other circle, the "townhouse circle," was mostly mom, Cessie Howley and this huge woman named Dottie. Dottie had a little boy named Sean and he was born with a hairlip. He was really sweet, but Dottie and her husband gave me the creeps. Cessie was married to a mailman named Lester. They had four kids, the oldest of whom was ... for lack of a better term, retarded. Mentally handicapped. Everyone teased the shit out of him, and he had a mean streak a mile wide.

I remember my mom and Cessie would have these disagreements and not speak to each other for months. Then, things would ease up and gloss over... and there would be quiet forgiveness but I have no idea if apologies were ever issued.

My parents live in unit C in their four unit building (A through D if you haven't caught on). They've been there 30 plus years.

Next Door in Unit A is Bob and Fran, and their daughter Deseriee (I know I spelled that wrong. Yes, she has a stripper name, and yes she is named after the Neil Diamond song). Fran's mom lived in that unit before we moved in, and Fran and Bob retained it when mom moved into the Brick Building nextdoor.

My mom and Fran, and Fran's mom, used to hang out and talk on the stoop for many hours. They'd garden together. I have pictures of us digging up the lots in front and getting the flower beds in. I think now my mom says passing pleasantries to Fran, but there is no sense of "community" and talking the way there used to be, unless there is a tragedy or an emergency.

Deseriee has lots of medical issues, she was in a car/train accident in 2000, and I know my mom was there for them every hour and every minute. Bob and Fran don't drive, so there were lots of trips out to the hospital and my mom and sister totally took care of them and their needs, both transportational and emotional.

Recently, Bob confessed to my sister that he's gay. 20 years of marriage and he finally comes out of the closet. I don't know if he's told Fran yet... but my sister was sideswiped, blindsided and floored by the discussion that they had. Suffice to say, one of his biggest fears is telling people like my sister and losing their friendship. I'm proud of her for her response. She assured him that she'd still be his friend, no matter what, and basically that he needed to take care of himself and his family. And... what more could one say?

Bob turned me on to Black Sabbath when I was in junior high school. Saved me from disco and made me the \m/ rawk girl that I am today. I need to thank him next time I see him.

In unit D, currently there resides my Aunt Esther. Yes. Family live right next door. Sometimes it is smooth, sometimes it is contentious. They go weeks without talking. My mom called me the other night and told me all about how mad she is at Esther right now. My mom can hold a grudge like a bucket holds water. With lid on it so the water doesn't evaporate, but gets hotter and hotter in the summer sun.

My aunt Esther's unit has seen a lot of turn over. Because it is one bedroom, sometimes old people get into these units throughout the development and they either move into the Brick Building (which is a huge building that used to be brick and now it's been stuccoed over in beige boringness, but we still call it the brick building) or, they die.

There was an elderly couple who lived in the unit when we moved in. I remember them like they are here right now sitting on my couch. Along with Fran and her mom, John and his wife were the first "real" hispanic people I'd ever met. I'm not sure if they were Colombian or Puerto Rican or what. I just remember them speaking Spanish and cooking all the time. For a little white kid, this was a cultural experience for me.

I loved John. He was like a grampa. His wife had whiskers and it scared me when she'd try and kiss me. Everyone ate my sister right up, because she was this wee little blonde girl, and ... well, she was a cultural experience for a lot of folks.

My Aunt Peggy lived in that unit for a while. She had a VW bug, and it fascinated me that you could turn the radio on and get power without the ignition key. VWs are cool like that (when they aren't blowing their timing belts). Aunt Peggy moved into the Brick Building. I loved her apartment in there.

My grandmother (father's side) lived in the Brick Building too. She died when I was young, but I totally remember going to her apartment, and looking at our car through her window, and riding the elevator. All the old people in the Brick Building would come out and sit in their folding chairs outside in the shade. To get to the playground, we'd have to pass them. And they'd stop us and talk to us and love us to death. I loved all those old people. I'd hang out with them in the little circle under the tree. I'd help Rose Chiet bring her folding chair out every day because she could barely make it down the hall to the elevator, much less carry the 1.6 lb aluminum chair with her.

In unit B, around the other side of the building, there lives Tom. Tom has lived there for as long as my parents, if not longer. He has been on the board of directors of the cooperative for a million years. He is a wise and sweet older man. And I think he's been old forever. He's black, and has a white beard, and I always dig that look, that "Grady" from Sanford and Sons look. Tom had a couple daughters, one of whom had some mental health issues and was killed by a LIRR train one day a couple years ago. His grandsons live with him. They're much older now, but I still think of them as little kids. Trey has a Jaguar. And I always loved the name Trey because of him.

I don't think anyone hangs out and talks the way they used to. I don't know if the old people come down and sit out in their chairs around the tree the way they used to.

Next time I go home, I'm looking into that.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Right Neighborly

I've lived in several apartments through the years. In most locations, I've never gotten to know the neighbors. In college, I rented an apartment in Hamilton. I knew no one. I heard the neighbors fighting sometimes. But. Never saw their faces.

When Doug and I first got married, he lived in an apartment in Boston. A wedding gift was mailed to us and ended up getting left with the neighbor in the next apartment. She hand delivered it that night and declined my invitation to come in for tea. That was the only person we saw the entire time we lived at Charlesgate East.

In Atlanta, I only smelled their cooking. I never saw the downstairs neighbors. We lived in married student housing, and there were tons of families and kids and people, but I never saw anyone. There was one really hugely fat kid who made it known to the world he was wealthy, Floridian, and Jewish (by his Tshirts, jewelry and bumpterstickers on his Gold Volvo) and I saw him often but he was incredibly unfriendly and sneery and it was fun to watch him try to drive down our steep assed hill on a day when we were the recipients of an ice storm. I sat in the window and watched him slide the whole way down. Heh.

In Beverly, we lived in a building with four units. The downstairs neighbor was a single white mother with a black baby, and she'd give us her baby to watch once in a while, mostly so she could go out with her thug white boyfriend and get high. And I'd only see her when they'd have a huge fight and she'd come screaming up the stairs to my apartment for sanctuary. He'd stand on the stairs and scream at her, pounding on my door, and I'd try to call the cops but she wouldn't let me. In fact, they were fighting like wet cats on June 11, 1992. I was trying to sleep, it was 7am, and I sat up in bed really fast and hard and broke water, thus ushering my daughter into the world. The other two units were occupied by single white moms with little kids. Once in a while I'd chat with them on the back patio by the cars, and watch the kids play. I was pregnant with Jessica and they imparted all kinds of good wisdom to me like "you don't need to let the government know your husband lives with you, and you can get free heat and electricity!"

In Marblehead, we knew our downstairs neighbor and talked to him all the time. He died in his sleep one night and it was one of the saddest days of my life. The neighbor in the white house next door was a summer resident who spent his winters in Naples, FLA, and he'd bring me baskets of Dahlias in the summer. He was an avid gardener, and was always shirtless. To echo DivaTaunia, not in a shirtless Justin Timberlake hot sort of way, because he was very very old, and very very leathery tan. The neighbors across the street from us were a young Mormon couple, and we spent a good amount of time with them. Doug and Heidi. They moved to Utah half the year, he was a lobster diver, and had a business set up with a friend there to ship lobster to and make money hand over fist. She ran off with that friend, and Doug ended up staying in Marblehead, and I think he's still there.

In Lynn, I knew our downstairs neighbor and worked at the same office with her. Her parents were old and mean and lived in the basement with their 50 something year old son who smoked pot every single time they left the building for even a few minutes. The smell would come up the back stairs. The old man used to come into our apartment when we weren't there, and then criticise my housekeeping skills ("You left dishes in your sink. You can't do that. It attracts bugs." Well, fix my blasted dishwasher you addled old bat! Then there wont' be dishes in my friggin SINK). The guy on the third floor was a weird artist with scary toenails. And the old lady across the street would give Jessica knit things that had been handmedowned from her grandchildren. She wanted to see her handiwork worn by yet another child. She gave her weird stuffed animals too, rejects from the grandkids. We still have this one giant white bunny that she gave over to Jessie... it's in Geoff's room now. The family next door was totally messed up. Married white couple with two kids. She was pregnant at the same time I was pregnant with Geoff. She got an abortion when she found our her husband had an affair. I watched her throw all the husband's stuff out on the street one day. She told me she wasn't about to give birth to another one of his kids. She took him back right as we were moving out, and I wondered what she thought about having aborted her baby then. It made me horribly sad that she'd do that. I know abortion is all about choice and whatnot, but to kill your own baby because you are pissed off at your husband? It just didn't seem like a wise move.

And then we moved here. My neighbors on one side have six kids, and they're busy enough without having to socialize with me. I've talked to them less than a handful of times in the 8 years we've lived here. Across the street there is a family with three kids. I have talked to them once, when they had a yard sale.

Cattycorner across the street there is a huge house with three apartments in it. Owner occupied. It sold recently, and I met the two apartments worth of people who were being forced out due to the sale. They'd both been there for over thirty years. One of them, Mike, was friends with Clayton when he lived here, so after Clay moved out Mike would ask how he was doing. It was sad to tell him about Clay's passing when it happened.

The new owner has new tenants in the apartments. I've never seen the tenants. The new owner's name is Dick. He walks around shirtless and leathery tan. He's divorced, with two kids who are in high school. He's got a girlfriend who drives a Mercedes. I've talked to him two or three times since he has moved in, which is a lot more than the people I've lived next to for eight years.

He's creepy. What is with men and shirtless when they just aren't hot. Wear a wife beater T-shirt before you walk around nekkid, would ya?

And then, there's my neighbor directly nextdoor. Candy. She's a laugh riot, she's very sociable, she's made friends with people around the corner who are over her house all the time with their kids, she calls me and extends invitations to come over for a beer or to just hang out. She's lonely sometimes and with three little kids having an adult to talk to is more fun. I enjoy her company. She's funny as shit. She and I have nothing in common other than we're female and have children and stay home. And she's the only neighbor I've had any sort of a connection with in the last 9 years. We see each other in the driveways doing stuff and we walk over and talk on the fence. Her daughters hug and kiss me. Her three year old worships me. She's a fresh little thing, but totally goes out of her way to talk to me.

You can see that in the past several years I've not developed any really meaningful relationships with my neighbors. It's all cordial and friendly, but aside from Candy and her kids, historically there is no connection between me and our neighborhoods.

We've been here eight years now, and I feel kind of like we're settling in. Part of it comes from having kids in the public schools. It didn't start off this strongly with Jessica, because she wasn't as complicated a case as Geoff, but we're far more involved in school than when we moved here. I know a lot of my kids' friend's parents by first name now and feel very comfortable with them. I don't necessarily feel like there is a roots system here, the way my mom had one set up back in the day in the neighborhood.

My aunt told me that my cousin Thom, who lives a few towns away from here, moved into his house and instantly the neighborhood "thing" happened. They all hang out together, barbecue, the kids play, the moms hang out. It's tight there where they are.

I am not sure what social alchemy has to take place for this kind of bonding. If it is some sort of shared experience (ie: everyone has a masters degree, or everyone has a Volvo, or everyone is white, or everyone is gay...), or if it is just that someone is outside and sees someone when they move in and strike up the conversation as the unpacking is going on. The Welcome Wagon, as it were, in the form of a handshake or help with the couch when it is obvious that someone is struggling.

I know that Candy thinks I'm smarter than she is, and I know there are different things that she values that I don't. For instance, shopping. She loves spending money on stuff for the house. She's totally into that and has to show me the stuff she buys. I enjoy when she shows me stuff, but I don't reciprocate because I don't go out buying stuff for the yard. It isn't my style. We don't share the same tastes in music, but I gave her daughter a BNL mix CD and she loves it, they listen to it all the time, so she was at least open to hearing them and has grown to like them. I'm not sure if a pair of lesbians moved in nextdoor that they'd become my best friends, or if they'd find our whole Breeder lifestyle offensive, or, if politically we would not click. But I'd invite them over to hang by the campfire and offer them a beer. Just like with Candy and her husband.

I'm not looking for the kind of bond with a neighbor that I have with say, Aaron and Michelle, or my sister, or even Amy or Tess or Michael.

I think the Internet has given us different definitions of who our neighbors and hence our friends are. I've written here in the past that my neighbor and I can go for weeks without talking, but I check in with Michael twice a day to see if he's got something to say. Even though we're totally different in so many ways, I feel more of a connection with him than I do with the family with three kids across the street.

E-mail has salvaged some friendships that I've got, and if it weren't for email, I would have no idea what is going on with Rob, or Scott in Chicago, or Smitty. It is easier to bond with someone of like mind (or even not-like mind if there is something that clicks with you) through the internet than over the backfence. Especially if your neighbor puts up a big solid 6 foot high fence that says "I don't want to see you or talk to you." It's like banning your IP address from connecting to their server.

I'd like to know more of my neighbors, and not have to meet them if their house is on fire to offer them clothing and a blanket as we watch the three alarm blaze. I think it's sad that so many of us have little connection in our community or find that it's hard to dig in to make those roots. I know I have little in common with a lot of my kids' friend's parents. A lot of them are very wealthy, rather Democrat, somewhat elitist. Or they're just plain boring and uninteresting.

I'm glad for one neighbor that can keep an eye on my house while I'm away, but in the back of my mind I know all of them are. The way that I pay attention to what is going on at their houses when they aren't around. We all do it, we all know it. I think we're all there for each other in case of emergency, but we don't have a block-party and a beer on a weekly basis. And that's okay.

I'm glad you're my neighbor too.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

About the Weather

Each time I wake up on a cloudy morning I instantly hear Natalie Merchant's voice as 10,000 Maniacs plays "About the Weather" through my cranium. This morning is one of those mornings.

According to last night's weather report, at some time today we are to expect a humongous rainstorm like no other rainstorm in recorded history. It was cloudy at 7am. Now it's sunny. I wonder if this is one of those storms that has its edge right on top of me, or just south, where we get the grey drizzlies and no deluge.

The second birthday party on Geoff's dance card this week has been postponed due to this storm. Marcia called this morning to let us know. She was going to have it anyway and chance it that the storm won't make it as far north as they are, but she figured she'd be better off picking another date. I'm relieved... I have to take the car and get it inspected now that we've got our stuff from the registry, and I forgot to go buy a present for Peter. So it is good to have more time.

And watch it not rain any further north of Danvers today. Heh.

Geoff and I hid a geocache yesterday afternoon after I worked for a couple of hours on one of the web projects. I'm finding that I have about a 2 hour limit before I need to walk away or before they start fighting. Then we need a break and I come back and work again. So it is flowing smoothly, with them around. I just have to make sure the "break" isn't too incredibly long or I get out of the mode of working all together.

Last night we had a huge campfire. I figured seeing as this rainstorm to last four days will be approaching, we'd better go have one or we won't be able to for a week. It was 9pm and Geoff reminded me that I'd promised the campfire. I tried to dissuade him, but he was having none of that shit. I'm glad the fire started quickly, I was afraid it would take forever and be after 10pm by the time the coals got good for marshmallow roasting. I've got this campfire starting thing down.

Doug and I sat by the fire talking until 11pm. He put some monster logs in there, and I didn't want to have to put them out, but... it was bedtime. He told me his boss is moving to Virginia. She's getting married in August, and her husband is going to school or something in the DC area, so they'll be leaving. This kind of sucks for him. He really enjoys her as a supervisor, and one of the problems Doug has with work is that people who are complete dingusbrains end up as his boss(es), and he despises them. Doug has had very few supervisors that he's liked in the many years I've known him. And he likes this one. So I feel badly.

It's funny, but it is the one trait that he and my mother share. They never like their bosses, and when they get one they like, everything goes shitcan for them at that job. My sister can attest to that with my mom's work history.

So, we'll have to see what happens after the transition, and hope for the best. I'd like him to stay there until the fall. At least.

So the verdict is back on my sister's car. I hope you're sitting down... It's her flux capacitor -- gonna cost over $1700 bucks.

Heh. That's what Aaron said to LeeLee, and luckily she's the kind of kid who paid attention during the 80s and knew that a "flux capacitor" was from Back to the Future. Well, it isn't JUST from Back to the Future, there is actually some science behind the whole concept, but Christopher Lloyd made it famous when he hit his head on the toilet and had a vision of time travel.

She needs new spark plugs. And that's that.

The kick in the nuts is that she just had her car serviced before leaving for Maine. You'd think the mechanic would like check these little doo dads and upsell her "hey, your spark plugs are looking lame, would you like a new set?" or something.

So, her car has been up in Maine, needing new spark plugs and nothing more. It looks as if we will drive up to Maine to get it on Saturday. As you may recall, this Friday night is the BNL/Alanis concert in NY (oh, I so cannot wait!) and we're heading down for that. If Jessie isn't too wiped out, I want to try and meet the band after, if security is allowing that. I've passed on each opportunity in the past several months because the shows we've been to have been on school nights or they were 2 hours away from my house so I had to get in the car and drive home... this time though I totally want to see if I can.

But we're going to get in the car and drive on Saturday morning, get up in here by noon and then continue the rest of the way to Maine. I think Linda is going to spend an extra day or so up there, doing the touristy thing. Doug is going to drive up on Friday night with the dogs, seeing as he'll be solo during the day, and have some time to himself with A&M.

Sweet.

A while back Tanager had asked me if I thought the Low Carb thing had gotten out of hand. I answered but had some additional comments to make.

While grocery shopping yesterday, I took a good look at the low carb Coke (C2) and low carb Pepsi (Pepsi Edge). C2 has 12 grams of carbs. Diet coke has Zero.

I know a lot of people don't like the taste of Diet Coke. I'm one of them. But. If one is allotted 20 grams of carbs a day on Atkins, at least during the induction phase, and one is in jones for a soda... one should not piss more than half of one's carb limit on a C2.

Switch to Diet Coke.

Doug and I were trying to figure out what the point of this beverage would be, who are the target soda sippers for C2. This article on C2 states that the target audience is people who want to cut carbs but prefer the taste of Coke Classic. So it isn't for someone on Atkins, just someone looking to reduce their carb intake overall... I guess it makes sense. This article on Pepsi Edge states the same thing and notes that the product tastes more like Diet Pepsi than real Pepsi, so it sort of defeats the purpose. You may as well drink a Zero carb Diet Pepsi instead of a 20 carb (damn!) Pepsi Edge.

My mom used to drink Pepsi by the truckload. Or was it Diet Pepsi? It must have been Diet, because she'd be as big as Comic Book Store Guy if it were regular Pepsi. She stopped drinking soda a while back... good for her.

I don't drink a lot of soda. I prefer something like Ginger Ale to a Cola beverage. And I certainly prefer beer or water to any carbonated bevvie. I suppose if I were all about the taste of Coke Classic vs. Diet Coke, C2 would be a good thing for me. But it hardly matters. If I want a soda, on the very rare occasion that I want such things, I'll have a diet something and am perfectly happy about it.

It isn't a fine wine or a cognac, it's friggin' soda. Bubbly, carbonated, caffeine delivery system. That's how I see it. I don't understand caffeine free Colas. That's the attraction for me. Caffeine free diet sodas boggle my mind completely. Hi, you're drinking brown fuzzy water, ya know? Better for you if you grab a Poland Springs or Dasani instead, dude. Caffeine free diet soda. Pfth.

Marketing C2 as a low carb choice when Coke has a NO carb drink available is kind of funny in my opinion. You'd think they'd put on an ad campaign to let people know Diet Coke is the best choice for your low carb lifestyle or something. A really good ad campaign in this carb counting crazy day and age about the no carbness of diet sodas would bring a lot of people back to trying Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi.

If you use a slice of lemon in them, they're actually pretty tasty.

Well, I need to get to work. My daughter is still asleep, my son is well behaved. I have to get the car inspection thing done, and have another geocache to hide. So, better seize the day, eh?

Have a good day y'all!