Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rebel Geoff

This week marked Geoff's first days with Rebel Shakespeare. On Tuesday and Wednesday Geoff pulled his usual weirdness around strange, new people. I think I've said it here before, but he reminds me of "Round Here" by Counting Crows where Adam sings (of a girl, not of Geoff) "She knows she's more than just a little misunderstood. She has trouble acting normal when she's nervous."

It was a bumpy start. But even in his weirdness, Keri told me that he read parts and lines really well and impressed her. His counselor Matt said that whenever he asked for a volunteer Geoff's hand was up first and he was willing, no matter what, to do. Which is good.

He got into some trouble yesterday, not for hitting or doing anything physical but for making noise, speaking out of turn, repeatedly suggesting they use real swords and knives, and being distracting when the time wasn't right to do so.

Geoff reported in detail all the funny games and exercises they had done, and just seemed incredibly full of joy and exuberance, even though he was not always on task. He recalled all sorts of details, except names, and told me about all the funny things that happened. He also told me all about Henry V, how it is a real story of a real king and a real battle with the French. He'd watched the Brannagh version of the movie on Monday and retained a lot. But really sitting and talking about the man Prince Hal has transformed into was totally sticking to his little recollection cells in his brain, and he was into it.

So I know he was getting something out of this... we need to get him on track with the program. As usual, when it is something he is interested in, and he's on task, he is a rockstar. Open-ended stuff that is loosey goosey with not a lot for him to chew on, he loses interest quickly.

When some ADHD kids get distracted they just stare into space and dream... zone out. Geoff starts farting with his mouth, giggling madly to himself because he is thinking of this video, and he just basically loses a grip on what he should be doing. Becoming disruptive and silly is his favorite thing to do, and then when he is confronted, he gets pissed and argues with whomever it is that is confronting him -- other kids, teachers, or the play director. This puts distance between him and others; this makes him feel like an outcast and a "failure," and he often has a really difficult time getting back in the swing of things.

He and I had a huge long heart-to-heart last night, where he explained so much of what he was experiencing and told me that he would be better at it today.

Keri, as director and a mom, knows kids like Geoff. Really well. She wasn't there yesterday afternoon when he got into it deep with his behavior, so this morning we talked with her about how sometimes when he is bored or feels something doesn't apply to him, he gets restless and noisy. She had talked about the same thing with her staff, and we were all on the same page and agreed that someone would just take him out of the mix for a walk. She does the same with her own daughter -- someone goes with her, sometimes they do something totally different than the rest of the group. Geoff agreed that he would reach out to a staff member and say "I need a break, can we go for a walk?" And Keri and another counselor stated that they'd watch for Geoff to get to that breaking point, and then politely suggest they go for a walk...

I had big fears when I left that I'd be called at lunchtime to go pick him up.

When Geoff says he's going to do his best, sometimes he tries -- and it doesn't work out. I was sick to my stomach all day. Not because I want him to be a star on stage, but because I want him to experience something that I honestly believe he'll be good at and enjoy. And as far as other camps go, Keri has had a million kids like Geoff come through the rank and file, and they've been madly successful at what they are doing so I feel that this is a good thing. A very good thing. And my hopes were high, maybe too high, and maybe this isn't the place for him.

But reports this afternoon were glowing.

Matt told me that was spot on and they did a full read through of the play, and that Geoff had great emotion and passion. I asked Matt if he wasn't lying to me just to make me feel better after the last two days, and he laughed -- and I hugged him.

It almost made me cry. I was so relieved.

Initially, Geoff wanted to be Montjoy, the French messenger, because he really wanted to pretend to ride a horse while bringing messages to King Henry. He also liked the way Montjoy spoke to Henry before Agincourt. Which impressed me because that means he really paid the movie a great deal of attention.

But he was cast as Bardolph, one of Henry's men and an old friend from back in the day. These three friends; Nim, Pistol and Bardolph, carry over from the Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 plays. Nim and Pistol have some bad blood between them, because Nim once loved Nell and she married Pistol.

Geoff explains to me that Bardolph hates that his friends aren't getting along and tries to get them back together and happy again because they have to leave together to go fight in the war. The three of them try to run away before a big battle and are busted for it. They talk a good game of being brave soldiers for the king but really are a bunch of knuckleheads.

In the end, Bardolph is hanged for robbing churches. Henry cannot allow this kind of behavior, and even though they are old friends from his days as Prince Hal at the side of wine swilling John Falstaff, he has to execute his old drinking buddy friend for his crimes.

So Geoff gets to die a horrible death!

He wanted to know how they were going to stage this and I said he'd probably be brought off stage and out of sight and get to scream and then gag and be "dead" so Henry can deliver his speech about making sure that no dishonorable deeds are done, and nothing taken that isn't bought and paid for, as they march through France.

Geoff and I had a HUGE discussion on the way home tonight about forgiveness, and how perhaps Henry should have just forgiven his old friend or put him in jail or something... but that as a monarch trying to set a big example to all his men, he had to do what he did. And most likely didn't take joy in doing it at all.

So he's incredibly excited. And now that he knows who he is playing, and knows the story, and knows what is going on, I do hope he'll really get into the game. Please send him daily mojo.

I'm excited for Jess to come home (Tuesday! Yay Yay Yay!) because I'm hoping she will be willing to work with him on memorizing his lines... and will be happy for him in taking on this task.

She had said to me that she "didn't want him and his stupidness" coming to Rebel and "messing it all up" for her and for everyone. The fact that her first year was such a screaming success, with the two great roles in last summer's productions and the trip to London, she sees this as "hers."

Geoff has his football, she has her Shakespeare.

Well, I don't really see it that way and Shakespeare can teach Geoff a lot too, and Keri and her program are good for Geoff in ways that other summer camps are not. I'm hoping she will see that.

And on that note, I hope tomorrow is like today.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cameras and Freecycle

My friend Amy turned me on to something called Freecycle. There are groups on that you can sign up for and you can give away stuff, or ask for stuff. A lot of it is baby clothes and gear, sometimes pet supplies. A lot of old couches, furniture, broken or semi-functioning electronics... yard items like plants that people are thinning out from their yard.

I got a nice big table to put the second computer on to (once I clean out the brown room, which I should be doing now) and a bike rack... and the book that Geoff uses for his stamp collection. It came with sheets and everything, which was really cool.

Not just a taker, I have responded to people's requests for items. I gave away a small pet carrier, the one I bought Brodie back in 2006 when I thought we'd be transporting her to Pennsylvania in the truck and keeping her in a hotel for several hours. I also gave away some plants that a neighbor left in my garage last fall that I'd completely forgotten about until they started sprouting green shoots in May. I think they are irises and Spiderwort mostly, and I hope that whoever took them is happy with them. I read the listings and sometimes I respond to something that I'd really like (the cappuccino maker in Boxford really caught my eye!) but I'm too late. It is a very competitive little online yard sale, but no money changes hands. People ask, others respond. People offer something up, and others take it.

I had not asked for much because I am not actively looking for anything really. The table was an offer right up the street from me and it beats going to IKEA and buying a desk assemblage or something... so I took it. The bike rack was an offer, so I took it. And then I asked for one for the hatchback and no one has yet said that they have one available... so I may have to go out and buy one. I'm keeping my eyes open for a decent couch. A lot of the ones I've seen so far are kind of whooped on. Michael and Jon offered us their old one but transporting it here from Ashland may be a huge pain... I'd have to rent a truck or something to do it...

Anyway... I have been toying with the idea of trying my hand at film photography. I feel I've run the course of my talent with the Nikon Coolpix point and click kind of format... and I don't have the money for a really nice digital SLR like a Nikon D40 or D200. I want to learn more about the control the photographer has to exercise to take a really decent photo on film... where you can't just take 200 pictures and delete the ones you don't like off your memory card. You have to think, and plan, and know settings and focus and really construct the image before you shoot it... and if you shoot it, it's yours forever. No deleting off a roll of 35mm film. I want to build my knowledge and skill with the craft. And doing so on film is a more permanent manner in which to do it.

Last week I posted to the boards for Newburyport and Haverhill that I was looking for a used 35mm non-digital camera, asking people if they have one in a closet or attic somewhere and aren't using and probably never will, I'd love to take it for a spin.

Today I got email from someone nearby saying:

Christine, I have dearly wanted the camera that was owned by my beloved father, before he died, to be USED by someone. I keep meaning to use it, and never do. It's very nice, with a case, lenses, etc. I do not have an instruction manaul [sic], and recently bought a new battery for it. I even put film in it and have not taken more than one photo. It is a Pentax, I believe.
Linda in Plaistow

And I got the chills. I wondered how long she thought about responding. Could she really part with this? I thought about her dad and maybe his deep connection to this item, perhaps a great photographer and a caring visual scribe who took a lot of pictures of the family over the years... and how this was one of his favorite things on Earth.

To me, it was just amazingly beautiful that someone would offer it out. So I responded that yes -- I would love it if she really wanted me to have it, and I promised to do good by him.

Hopefully I'll have that in hand sooner than later. I'm inspired by her generosity. And I didn't think anyone would respond. A 35mm camera isn't cheap. But in this day of digital, so many have moved on from that an no one takes print pictures anymore. I'll probably have to buy film in a real camera store because I don't think they sell it at CVS...

I'll keep you posted.

In the past 2 hours I've seen two interesting TV commercials. The first was for T-mobile featuring Romeo & Juliet. She is texting him from the balcony and calling out "Romeo, Romeo, Wherefore art thy text messages Romeo?" Her dad, Mr. C, comes in and starts yea verily berating Juliet that she is forsaking her family texting plan by texting out of network. She sets him straight about T-mobile's awesome texting plans, and he says "Okay. I never hated that boy, but just thought it was too expensive to text him."

The second was for Playstation3 and featured the "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother..." speech from Henry V. You can watch it here if you've never seen Brannagh do it up.

I just thought it was hysterical that both plays got some advertising attention in rather unique ways. Shakespeare? He is not dead. Just shilling for Sony and cell phone plans.

The summer solstice quietly came and went. We had our longest day of the year, one of my favorite days on the calendar, where the light is just always light. Where Jessica is, sunset isn't until 9:45pm this week. Here it wasn't that late, but I so very love this time of year when it is all sunlight for many hours, and then the night comes cool and refreshing so that by 2am it's chilly in the bedrooms with the fans going.

I know it isn't that way everywhere. A lot of my readers are locked into their AC this time of year for a lot of hours. Sleeping is difficult in the heat, and the fans just don't cut it. We had a really hot snap at the beginning of the month but since then it's been warm in the day and nice at night. My favorite.

And now it is downhill into darkness from here. But for now -- this is my favorite. When it is bright and happy from early until late. I relish it. Love it. And can't wait to take pictures of it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

You and me babe, how about it?

This is an interesting little weekend for me. For pretty much the first time in 17 years, I'm alone. Except for the dogs, the guinea pig, and the fish... I'm by myself.

Doug and Geoff are camping with the Boy Scouts and canoeing up on the Saco River, and Jess is still in Germany.

It is kind of a weird thing, and last night I was a little freaked out here in the house by myself. I stayed at work exceptionally late because I was a little bit unnerved about coming home to be alone.

You'd think I'd relish this. I actually do, but it is still really bizarre and takes some getting used to. I jump every single time the stupid dogs bark at something outside, and there is something chewing in the wall in the livingroom but no manly man here to set a trap to catch it. So I fret alone and leap out of my skin when dogs bark at nothingness.

I'm a wuss.

Last night I bought a bottle of wine and popped in Kenneth Brannagh's rendition of Henry V to give it a look through before Geoff goes to do it with Rebel next week.

What an exceptionally well done film it is. I want to have Kenneth Brannagh's babies. Oh, yes I do.

I enjoyed it greatly. Emma Thompson has kind of a horse face and I think she's had some serious plastic surgery over the years... because she sure doesn't look like she did back then. But she was cute and funny as Kate, and it actually made me sad to watch her and her now ex-husband work together so nicely on the screen. I can't believe how big Kenneth Brannagh's mouth is when he's all yelly. Blackadder's dad was very good as Exeter. Hagrid plays Falstaff in some flashback scenes to Henry IV part 2... Judi Dench was unrecognizable at first but I caught on and smiled... and I loved the hell out of Derek Jacobi as the Chorus. He was really cool and intense.

I'm going to show it to Geoff, but I don't know if he's going to get it.

It kept me up very late and I unfortunately drank the entire huge bottle of wine all by myself, which was weird because normally I'd have Doug there to drink half.

One of the perils of being alone.

This morning I went into work for a few hours. I also met in the middle of work with one of the Rebel directors who is doing Jessica's program for Romeo & Juliet. Keri asked me to help scope out spots to do the performance throughout the city of Salem and I wanted Chris to come see them.

MJL playground5Keri is passionate about bringing theater TO people who could or would not otherwise have the opportunity to go see things, so we're going to do at least one show in "the Point," which is a really poor neighborhood in Salem.

We looked at a playground in the neighborhood and discussed where the performance would take place. While we were considering that the scenes don't all have to take place in one location like on a "stage," Chris had the genius idea of using the playground equipment as part of the performance.

She climbed up to the "balcony" scene and there is a spiral laddery thing that Romeo can climb up to in order to chat up his Juliet... and it was brilliant! Absolutely brilliant. What's even more amazing to me about using the playground equipment is that in the play, Romeo and Juliet are really just children. They are like 14 years old ... and it is painfully sad to really imagine children going through this angst and torture and mad crazy love when nowadays kids ... play on playgrounds even when they're that age. So it is deeply symbolic to me about their ages and stage in life... that they still are very young children.

The rest of the playground jungle gym behind where Chris is standing in this photo would make an excellent place for the rest of the Capulet's home... an upstairs to stomp around on and staircase to walk down, place for the nurse to skulk around while spying on the young wooing couple... We had a blast thinking this over, it was so cool and inspirational to have another mind looking at the settings.

We went to Derby Square and looked at Town Hall. The parks department has offered us the Salem Willows Shell with full stage and everything... They're really keen on us doing at least 4 performances around Salem. So yeah... very exciting. And this is what is keeping me awake tonight as so much of this spins around in my mind.

I made a flickr set for the locations we've looked at ... and it will grow as we look at a couple more and then we'll get the kids out to a few of them to kick ideas around that they may have for the performance.

Such fun! Look out Salem, you'll be totally Rebel-ized in August. Wooo! Dates and times will be solidified later, but dear reader ... do try and come? Maybe?

jess at winnekenni castleThey are doing one performance in Haverhill, because in thinking of settings I thought no place would be better than Winnekenni Castle up over Kenoza Lake.

I called a few weeks ago and solidified that booking, so that will be on August 27th at 5pm. If you're in the area, southern NH and Merrimack Valley -- oh do come.

Keri wants to do Lynch Park in Beverly but I can't get anyone from the parks department to call me back in regards to that... and it is driving me nuts.

I think Keri and a few others are looking to secure a performance location in Marblehead... which will be amazing and significant for so many of the kids. Ideally, it would be fantastic to do the performance at Fort Sewell, because Keri ran the program out of there for a decade... and then they were run off by the neighbors who thought the kids were too loud and who disrupted productions and performances by blasting music and just generally being rather poorly behaved for adults. So a "homecoming" to Fort Sewell would have to be finessed by someone in town who could take up the cause... not me. Because I'm not a "header" with connections.

I hope it works out. Even if it isn't at Ft. Sewell, it would be awesome to run one there in town. Anywhere in town.

Well. Anyway, enough chat about Rebel Shakespeare. I'm actually (I think) unloading some of the thoughts that are buzzing in my head by writing this entry so hopefully it'll help me fall asleep now. More later. Sleep. Zzzz. Bye.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Last Half Day of School

On Friday, Geoff got into a fight on the bus. He also ended up threatening to "destroy" his good friend because his friend sided with the other kid. I'm driving him today, staying home this morning, and waiting for 11:30am when school is let out so I can go pick him up when Fifth Grade is done for the year. I'm tired of this academic year. I'm tired of this behavior. I'm just tired of it all.

I don't even want to write in detail about the fight. It's stupid. It's over stupid stuff. It's just so draining to me that he can't control himself in social situations. I am so sick of this and I don't know what to do. He'd been doing really well. Or I thought. I come to find out that there hasn't been communication coming my direction from the school... and I am just plain flat out frustrated.

Several times in the past few years I've said that I don't think Public School is the place for my boy. I fully believe that, but right now my salary and Doug's salary are just enough to keep us afloat. Us losing one of those to stay home and teach Geoff or pay for some alternative private education is just out of the question. If you ever win Lotto or Mega Millions or Power Ball, keep me in mind... a little "grant" money to start my own little unschooling set up here for the boy... your altruism would be very much appreciated by me and the rest of the civilized world.

I didn't even WANT to send him to school today. I just wanted to say "screw that half a day crap, you're staying right here and watching cartoons." I never thought I'd tell my kids cartoons were a better investment in their time. But he wanted to go to school. He wants to give his friends his new email address (which I monitor and read, and which he basically only sends me email saying 'Hi, John Lennon Here. My ear hurts."). He wanted his report card (dude, I can pick up your report card... later).

The kid loves school, and loves the bus... but can't keep it together enough to be a good boy on a daily basis. And I'm just sooooooooooo over this. Meh.

Anyway. That's mostly what's been going on around here. Jess has emailed daily from Germany, and is updating her facebook page so I can get her little quippy status updates, so my missing of her is minimized just by virtue of a little thing called teh internets.

She called on Saturday and I was so happy to hear from her. She said her German is so bad that she can't really communicate with her family, so it is a very good thing they speak really good English. The weather has been rainy and cold, which is disappointing when you go on a Rhine Cruise and there's nothing to see because of fog and clouds and rain. On Saturday she told me they were going to see A Midsummer Night's Dream in German. She emailed me after and said that it was very good. Her lack of German knowledge was balanced out by her detailed knowledge of Shakespeare, so she was able to follow and enjoy the entire play. That was good to hear.

On June 11th, she celebrated her 16th birthday. Our German (the girl who stayed with us in September, who she is staying with now) told me she would "make Jessica a party" for her birthday. Jess emailed me and said the morning of her birthday her family woke her up with presents, and random Germans walked up to her at school and "sang at" her... not sang to her, but sang at. She was a bit overwhelmed by that. Anna did make a party, and a few people came over and there was a delicious strawberry cake.

For her birthday here, I thought about buying a cake (funnily enough, I was eyeballin' a white cake with strawberries and a light butter cream frosting...) but I didn't. It felt kind of creepy to sit down with birthday cake for someone who isn't there. So when she gets home, it's my turn to "make her a party." With cake.

Doug put in a ton of heirloom and regular tomatoes in the garden, and our meadow plants are starting to grow. There is scant coverage in a few places that we can mark and augment next season... but for the most part things are growing nicely and that makes me happy. We have a tea rose bush on the side of the house that has not done well since we've been here, and this year I've paid it close mind and it seems to be doing very well, with blooms and all. And it's got aphids so I'll be out there with a squirty bottle of lightly soaped water, once it stops raining and misting. Our pansies up front need some miracle grow, so maybe while I'm here this morning waiting for 11:30 I'll run out and care for those. I have some serious weeding to do, but other than that the garden thrives and that's nice.

All told, things have been quiet here aside from Geoff. And I am at a loss as to what to do over on that angle. Suffice to say, happy end of school year. Let's look forward to next and hopefully a better run. On that note, I'm going to move some laundry around, tend to those aforementioned pansies, and have some toast before a shower... and then off to get the Boy and then off to Grandma's with him until Thursday. Huzzah.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

There she goes, again...

You know, when you plan things and they seem really, really far away that it is always a shock when the date arrives and suddenly you're all "OMG! it's time." Yeah, that was me over the past couple of days.

Euro Bling 1Jess got 80% packed by Sunday night and I gave up trying to convince her to have the case in the living room standing up and ready to go by then.

She slept in the livingroom, with her things strewn around her bed and the case in the center open like a gutted animal ready for cleaning by the butcher.

It was an ugly scene. And I was freaking out.

Sunday night I paced the house and panicked and freaked out and I think I fell asleep at 2am. Not to mention it was a million and a half degrees, and Doug had only put the AC in the window downstairs. He hadn't put the one in our bedroom yet... so there wasn't a comfortable place to sleep in the house. For me at least.

Monday morning I went to work and when I got home that afternoon she was 100% organized and ready to go.

She is a last minute kind of gal... but she got it all done.

The small suitcase that we got her for the London trip was sufficient for everything she'd need for three weeks in Germany. By the looks of the other kids' cases, hers was average to small. One boy at the airport had what looked like a briefcase as his luggage... two shirts, a pair of socks, an extra pair of skivvies and a toothbrush. That's all I need, ma'am. It cracked Doug and me right up.

They were waiting online for a half hour to check their bags and whatnot, and then they came out to say goodbye to the parents. I was missing her already so I gave her the birthday gift I got her, which I was going to slip into her carryon bag when she wasn't looking and then send her host family an email to tell her to look there. I bought her a pendant from Shakespeare's Den that quotes Julius Caesar, "I am as constant as the North Star." She'd seen it online last year, and I actually bought it for Keri for her birthday back in April... and Jess just loved it.

In the context of the play, Caesar's use of the phrase (if I recall correctly) means that he is stubborn and immovable, and in his arrogance he feels he is the one that is always to be looked to for guidance in navigation through life (apologies to my 11th grade AP English Teacher and to all Rebel Shakespeares out there if I'm getting that wrong).

For me, I think it means something else... As a parent (leader/governor) to a younger person who is traveling out into the world and feeling her way, I think it sends a message that we are constant, reliable, always there... without Caesar's sense of arrogance that we are the center of all of her social navigations.

I wanted her to know that about Doug and me, to know that wherever in the solar system she travels that we are as constant as the north star in her life, and hopefully she will look to us for guidance. And that as Polaris never fails to guide a traveler in the right direction, our constant love will be there for her, wherever she goes.

I think she knows that is the connotation for us. It is power in love, not power in authority.

She showed it to all her grade-level friends who were dying because they all just took their final exam and Julius Caesar was the play they had to know up and down, inside and out. One of the questions on the test was "What does Caesar liken himself to, and what is the significance of it?" So they were all like "Dude! You shoulda had that on yesterday for the final!!!!!" And everyone got a good laugh.

She emailed me a little while ago from Frankfurt. They landed and they are very, very tired. They're waiting for their connecting flight to Dusseldorf, and then off to their host families. I hope to hear from her again soon. I miss her.

And on that note, off to work so I can come home this evening to be with Geoff. As Jess would say.... "Ta, loves."

Saturday, June 07, 2008

packing anxiety and smell disorders

Jessica does not rise to the same level of anticipation as I do when it comes to getting packed and organized. She's in her room playing hand-held Tetris, and I'm freaking out because it is already 11am and she hasn't yet gotten her laundry together.

She leaves on Monday night for Germany, and I want her ass 100% ready to go by tomorrow afternoon. Part of me knows I'm anxious because I'll miss her as she's gone for three weeks this time instead of ten days. But another part of me knows what it is like when shit gets left to the last minute before a trip and the packing isn't ready, and the yelling, screaming and panic that result are honestly going to kill me some one of these fine days.

I know I say it every single blasted time we go somewhere, but damnit if this time everything isn't ready, I swear to you and to God as my Witness that my head will just explode right the hell off the top of my shoulders.

Good luck to the poor bastards who have to come cart away my gianormous, fat carcass wherever it may fall, and those who have to scrub the mess I leave behind on the walls and ceilings. Blame my kid for not getting packed and organized in time.

I will miss her though, and she's just a few feet away from me right now and I already do miss her. I don't know what I'll feel like when she leaves for college. It makes me dizzy just imagining that time.

In the past few years, I think really since the July 4th Trip To Doug's Uncle's Funeral in Pennsylvania Fiasco that I had to live through, I get exceptionally anxious about getting organized and ready on time.

[sidebar note]: It was quite the horrid adventure, which to this day I am still thankful to Carrie for everything she did for me before we left. I still can't believe I survived it without hurting someone or myself. For newer readers, you simply must take a trip back in the Way Back Machine and relive it with me...Click

  • here ... where I write how Doug's uncle died and Doug tells me I don't have to come to the funeral, and I let you know my washer died and we have a new one getting delivered that weekend... foreshadowing/doom/etc...
  • here ... where I write that Doug calls me and says "um, yeah -- come to the funeral please. I need you here," and all the chaos and horror that surrounded getting ready... and
  • here ... where I write about how an 11 hour trip took me closer to 15, and how my husband asked me to get the truck washed before coming to the funeral and my head exploded.

I just re-read it all and am shaking my head in disbelief and it is no wonder that I have an anxiety disorder now about getting ready to go places. Good God, that whole thing changed my life forever... [/sidebar note]

So yeah, I'm experiencing anxiety about getting her ready because shit always explodes right when you're trying to walk out the door and if you aren't prepared in advance then you're in big trouble.

Unlike some people I know who would have packed LAST weekend, I'm not THAT silly. I do think though that 50 hours in advance is a good time to get everything organized.

I have a list of things we need to do. Doug got 250 Euros (ooo, is there HTML Code for that? Let's see... € !!!!! Yes yes yes! Almost as exciting as when I found the code for British Pounds!) So yeah, he got the €250 that we planned on her taking, seeing as the ATM card didn't work in England.

She's not a huge spender so I figure that should cover her expenses the whole time. I will make sure she has a little American money too so that if she does need extra she can access some. Actually, I hope she doesn't come home with like €200 and only spend a fraction of it, because I doubt we can exchange the money BACK.

I know when Anna was here we wouldn't let her spend money on things like meals if we ate out. She wanted to -- she wanted to treat us to dinner but we were all like "dude, we eat a LOT and you don't want to volunteer THAT! You'll be out of money!" So I'm hoping that Jess will have a similar familial experience with Anna's folks and won't have to worry about her fun money keeping her alive. The teachers said to budget €40 a day while there and everyone here was like "Are you KIDDING???!!!" because that is like $80 a day.

Stupid weak dollar.

It's lucky she's not a big spender, because I think she'll do well. I just have to get her to remember to send postcards this time, and get little gifts. She blew it in England and didn't come home with enough gifty love (one should really bring home gifty love to one's Auntie when one's Auntie gives her $500 cash).

Anyway, Hayfever wrote me to point out that I hadn't updated in eight years and it is sad but true. There aren't may excuses, except that this getting her ready for the trip thing has made my head hurt and I haven't been able to think about or concentrate upon much of anything else.

On Sunday when we were on our way home from church I got exceptionally sick. Dizzy, migraine, sensitive to light and of all things smell. I thought I was just getting car sick from Doug's Sunday Driving style; I thought I was going to vomit.

I went from "Why are you hitting every pot hole in Essex County???" to "Oh My GOD why are you swerving to avoid every pot hole in Essex County! Learn to DRIVE!!!" I felt the constriction of my throat and the bizarre sensation of flooding cold and heat across my chest, neck and shoulders that I get right befor I hurl. I was ready for him to pull over and let me out so I could fall into a ditch on the side of the road, convulse, vomit and die.

We made it home, and he asked me if this was like the time I had vertigo a few years back (longtime readers may remember that incident as well...) After crashing and spending the entire day in bed, taking medicine and putting ice packs on the back of my neck, I realized that I'm horribly stressed out and freaking out in ways that I used to be able to control but now cannot.

The real sucky thing was Sunday was our 17th wedding anniversary and I spent it with a headache. I ended up having to make dinner and do dishes (because no one else would and Geoff kept asking me what was for dinner) and I screamed at everyone and went to bed. That was awesome. So the following night we all went out to dinner and it was very nice and relaxing and I felt a little better.

The thing that really got me confused about this incident was why I'm suddenly incredibly sensitive to smells that have never bothered me before... The dogs, the deodorant I was wearing, Geoff's breath, dinner... all these things made me sick to my stomach and I thought I was going to pass out. I'm still kind of feeling it... my carpet here in the study smells like two years of sleeping damp dog and I have to go and get some carpet freshener and vacuum it.

The couch slipcover downstairs smells the same and I'm ready to tear it off and burn it instead of washing it. But it smelled the same two weeks ago, and it didn't bother me at all.

So I'm kind of concerned I'm having some sort of neurological event here. Smells have never bothered me. Noise and light, yes. Smells? This is new.

Anyway -- I have to unsmellify somethings and take a shower and run some errands. I bought a few gifts for our host family but want to print a picture for Anna and frame it. She liked our dogs so much that I thought it would be nice for her to have a copy of a picture of them... So I'm off. More later. Sorry for the eight year lapse in updates. You know how it is!

My next update will probably be after Jess leaves on Monday. Talk at you then.