Friday, April 15, 2005

I'm Not Dead Yet

With university classes just starting back up, the whole family is having to get used to a new schedule. But not really, because Lovely Husband's department postponed their classes for a week to do testing. Then he'll be in CA the end of next week, so it'll be 2 weeks before the family schedule gets chugging along. So every 5 minutes I'm checking my Palm to make sure I'm on top of it all. It wouldn't pay to forget, say, Darling Daughter at school.

Before the crush of homework and reading assignments got too onerous, I got the chance to accompany a friend to the opera. Actually, she had invited L.H., but 1. he felt weird going alone with another woman, and 2. he couldn't afford the time now that he's in presentation preparation mode. (He should have known that #1 wouldn't bother me because she's a friend to both of us, and I'm cuter than her; but I was very proud of him for #2.) So he suggested me instead since I'm a fan of Lohengrin. This is an almost *5-hour opera*, people. I love it enough that I didn't fall asleep, unlike some people in the audience, but I kept having the insane urge to yell loudly, just to see if I could be heard over the singers. Do you know the imp of the perverse? He lives in my head.

I thought that the staging of the opera was a little strange—lots of slanted floors and walls, and modern clothes mixed with medieval-esque—but the one part I really didn't get was the presence of 20-30 flags being waved almost continuously by the chorus. Ok, so they're the citizens of Brabant, and they support the king, blah, blah, blah, but it's basically a love story, so I didn't get it. Instead, I wondered if the director had attended a seminar on flag-waving and thought, "That's perfect for our new production!" Or maybe that was a big sale on flags in Mannheim. *I don't know.*


Do you ever catch yourself falling back into a childhood behavior you had forgotten about? I don't chew my nails anymore, though a snagged nail will get bitten off until I can get to an emery board. But thanks to my new interest in freakish, giant snails, I catch myself spending way too much time scanning the ground as I walk. When I was a kid, I got really frizzle-fried at the lake (a few times), so often I didn't even bother getting in the water. I'd walk around the picnic tables there at the state park looking for winning soda-can tabs. Now that bottles with twist-off lids and cans with pop-tops have replaced the old tabbed cans, you just don't see little dangerous slivers of aluminum lying around like you used to.

I am now up to 4 intact and 1 partial snail shell for my collection. D.D. wanted to make a necklace out of them (gross!), but I plan to make a diorama—attack of the zombie snails! I haven't decided what materials to use yet, but I will keep you posted on my progress.


My Darling Daughter is usually a very laid back child, but certain things will set her off, like a callous disregard for nature. She has a lovely book of children's stories from all over the world (thanks, Gwamma!); the Swiss story is about how the mayor of some town decides everyone would be more productive and the town more famous if the citizens weren't distracted by beautiful nature. So the plants and flowers are locked up behind a brick wall topped with barbed wire, and the butterflies are pinned in boxes. D.D. won't even read the story anymore. She cries just thinking about the poor butterflies.

Our landlord's penchant for hunting also brings her to tears. (1) "What did those poor deer ever do to him?" is her anguished cry. Thank goodness he moved his collection of stuffed animals (and I don't mean teddy bears) from the window and walls of his shop on the ground floor of our building. D.D. never enjoyed walking past a happy little dead woodchuck and ducks. I hope she doesn't notice his business's display of plumbing fixtures and taxidermy outside her dentist's office when she goes for a cleaning in 2 weeks.

(1) I thought I had posted about our apartment decor, but couldn't find it to link to. On the outside of our building is a mural with Saint Humberto and a stag (who was Jesus in disguise). SH is the patron saint of hunters. In our apartment, we have the lovely light fixture over the dining room table made of *antlers*, then the hand-made chairs with wild animals carved into their backs, and finally the tile oven with decorative tiles of, you guessed it, wild animals. So our home is a daily reminder to D.D. of the landlord's hobby.

L.H. told me that when he and D.D. were walking to school one day, she pointed out a tiny sapling trying to grow in a crack in the sidewalk. He made some offhand comment that it didn't look like the best place for a tree to grow, and she jumped to defend it: "How would you like to be a little tree trying to grow and have someone make fun of you?!" What the--? D.D. should join the Sierra Club, or possibly the more militant Greenpeace. I can see her in the future, strapped to the mast of a whaling ship, her self-designed "Don't Mess With Nature" tatoo glistening in the sun...


I !hate! people who stand in the middle of the sidewalk or doorway. (2) We live in an old, narrow town, and there is just not room to stop and gawk without forcing other people to walk in the street. And the university library is *1 door*. It's not even a double door. I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to go in, or out, and had to squeeze past a cluster of dummies smoking or chatting or even waiting for someone with a stroller. Move along, people!

(2) L.H. says no one actually "hates" anyone else, but he is wrong. I hope there's a level of hell where path-blockers have to eternally navigate a crowded space—like the Vatican during the Pope's funeral, or Potsdamer Platz in Berlin when the wall came down, or a Tokyo subway car. With a large, hot coffee in each hand. Pushing a stroller with a screaming baby. With a full bladder. Now I feel better.


D.D. and I finished the 5th Harry Potter over her school holiday, so now we're eagerly awaiting #6 (3 months and 1 day!). It comes out on the last day of university classes for the semester, but 2 weeks before the end of D.D.'s school year, so I should be able to read it during the day while she's at school and hide it at night in my room. Then I can forewarn her of any scary stuff before/if I read it to her.

We're looking for other things to read, as she has gone through all her books, including the large stack she got for xmas (thanks, JEKL!), minus the one about cats going to heaven or something. I've tried reading Little House on the Prairie to her, but after 3 chapters she thinks it is too sad. I guess it's time for me to practice my German aloud; she may still have a couple of German books that are unread.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Mattel is Ruining My Life

My Darling Daughter is as prone as any other child of 7 to get all "gimme" when she sees toy commercials, but it is especially bad during the run-up to her birthday. She wants everything she sees for her birthday. And to add fuel to the fire, there are ads currently running for no fewer than *8* different Barbie products, running the range from fairies and princesses to toothless kids and "chicks." Fortunately for my sanity, the ad for the potty-training smallest Barbie has finished its run. The commercial that cracks me up, though, is one for the California Barbie and friends (remember when the bikini Barbie was the cheapest one? I doubt it still is). One of the Kens has an afro, which D.D. calls his disco-ball hair. Hee!

D.D. went back to school last week, thank the 7 dwarfs. It was getting hard to entertain her. She got a tin of kid card games at xmas, so we played Old Maid, Go Fish, Crazy Eights, and War until I was sick of shuffling. We did tend to get silly playing War: D.D. would slap down her card shrieking "Hi-Ya!" like the sound effects in a Hong Kong fighting film. War is a *verrrry long* game, so the card-slapping shouts mutated into the names of Chinese towns and foods—egg roll! Bejing! dim sum!—and finally into the first thing we saw—coffee table! Barbie jeep! Monty Python! D.D. got down to one card and was ready to quit, but it was a 9, so she managed to get all of the cards and win.

We also put together many puzzles. If you know my mom's family, you know most of us like puzzles (except for my lil sis—weirdo!). My middle sister even included a puzzle in her novel. (Oh no! I gave away an important plot point! Just pretend to be surprised when you get to the part about the assassin and the puzzle. Thanks.) But unlike the rest of the family, D.D. does not start with the border. She starts with the most salient content—the dolls in a Barbie puzzle, or a string of pearls on a make-up table (complete with adorable kitten) in another. Then she lets me fill in the boring background and border pieces. One day she'll be able to help me finish my Millenium Falcon 3-D puzzle (received as an xmas gift while she was in utero and now 2/3 complete).

The weather was cold and wet the end of last week, but yesterday it finally cleared up. It was still cool, but the sky was cloudless and the sun was shining, so it was very pleasant. D.D. and I went to the indoor pool on Sunday to give L.H. some uninterrupted work time, but it felt weird to be putting on a swim suit when it was so cold and gray outside. Today is overcast again, but not so cold as over the weekend.

I was in town yesterday, and I noticed that the high school students standing around after school were being more obnoxious than usual, playing loud music and blowing whistles. Then I noticed they were getting loaded (the drinking age for beer is 16, I believe, but most of these kids would be 19 anyway). Finally it occurred to me that their exams are right about now. I only hope yesterday was the last day. As L.H. said, it wouldn't pay to start celebrating too early. Anyhow, these aren't just end-of-semester finals, but graduation/college entrance exams, so they're very important for their futures.

Today was my first class, and it was interesting and went well. I found out that the class I was planning to take on Wednesdays was already full, and I don't feel like hanging around bugging the teacher to get in, so I'll take it next semester. I have to finish it by the end of the fourth semester, but I don't think it is a prerequisite for any of the classes I need next semester, so I'll just double up then.

For the moms: This afternoon I saw a lady with a baby strapped onto her chest trying to get three 2- or 3-year-olds to hold hands and walk with her down a path with a lot of bike traffic. The 2 little girls were patiently holding hands with each other and waiting while she tried to get the hand of the little boy. He kept throwing himself on the ground, and when she'd get ahold of his hand or wrist, he twist and turn and start whining really loud. I half-way expected him to cry out, "It burns!", the way he was acting. It made me glad, once again, that mine is big enough to threaten instead of having to manhandle her into cooperation.

I went to Toys R Us today to look for a gift to send to a birthday party tomorrow. I found what I wanted right away, but decided to take a look around since D.D.'s birthday is next month, and I might find something good. At the least, I expected to pick up a new Barbie for her. (I know, don't say it.) By the time I was done, I was ready to claw my own eyes out of my head. I think there were only 4 other shoppers in the whole store, which was weird, being in an empty toy store, so it wasn't that I was hassled or jostled or even spoken to, but just the overwhelming amount of *stuff*. The MyScene Barbie she wants is horrific-looking. I can't even begin to describe it. And the other things I had made mental notes on were either not in stock or not there. And I forgot to find something for yet another birthday party on Saturday, but I think I'll try a different store next time. Maybe they'll be better stocked.