Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I'm still here

Just insanely busy. I have signed up to post daily in November, so that should be interesting considering the difficulty I have just posting every week. Let's see, what has been going on? last night, Richard took the older kids to the playground and met up with Stacey and Andria and their offspring. I knew Stacey's husband was out of town, so I told him to invite her over for dinner since I was making spaghetti and I tend to cook enough for an army even though my kids don't eat my cooking. He called from the park to say that the female 2/3 of Andria's family would also be coming. Since she's pregnant, I'm going to count her as two guests. So let me just brag for a second and claim that I cooked dinner for 12 people on a school night with a baby on my hip for the last half of the cooking (ok, subtract the fetus and the boob baby and that's still more people than you cooked dinner for last night). I am a badass! If I do say so myself.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Just call me Winky

In the bathroom this morning soon after getting to work, I noticed that something about my reflection looked a little off. I had my hair in a ponytail because I got out of bed too late to wash it, so at first I thought it was just the effect of the Ugly Betty Bangs that I was seeing. Upon closer inspection, however, I saw that I had put mascara on my right eye but not my left. Lovely! I tried to figure out how I had managed to do this, and then remembered that Calvin came in as I was applying my makeup and asked me to help him find a picture of our dog. He needed it for CLUE class and of course, it had not occured to him to look for it before 6:53 this morning. So I guess I set the mascara down intending to come back, but then I never did. When I got home this afternoon, it was still sitting there partially open on the sink, right next to the necklace I picked up but forgot to put on. Luckily I did manage to get eyeliner onto both eyes, so the Lisa Left-Eye look was somewhat mitigated. And then, I teach teenagers who by definition don't realize that anyone over 30 has an actual face, so it wasn't really a big deal.

What's more disturbing is the thought that this is just one example in a greater trend of forgetfulness. Yesterday morning, as I was making the multiple PB&J sandwiches that I make for the kids' and my lunches every morning, I realized that I had put jelly on too many pieces of bread. No big deal, I thought, I'll just go ahead and make an extra sandwhich for Joshua's breakfast (yes, he eats one for breakfast and lunch most days, and often for dinner as well, because he is a freak like that). Then I realized I was one slice short in the bread department, meaning I took out an extra one in the first place. Ok, got out another slice, no big deal. But later when I bit into my sandwich at lunch, I tasted grape jelly instead of the sour raspberry that I prefer, which meant that someone else got the raspberry jelly and probably didn't like it. I could only hope it was Somerset and not Joshua, because she's a much more adventurous eater, and because the last thing we need is for Joshua to decide that he doesn't like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. That would narrow his diet down to chocolate chip Pop Tarts and cheese pizza with the occasional granola bar thrown in for variety. Oh, and popcorn, let's not forget that. And bacon. Anyway, when we got home that afternoon, lo and behold, there was the breakfast sandwich sitting on the counter with only one bite taken out of it because it was, of course, the raspberry jelly. I explained to Joshua why it had tased funny, and there seems to be no damage done to his tender love affair with that important 1/5 of his diet. I wish I could say the same for my mental capacity!

Why do I keep spacing out like this? I hate to blame it on placenta brain. And really, I've felt so un-placenta-brained lately. My classes are great this year and I feel stimulated by what I'm teaching, which I think has gone a long way toward keeping me more focused and less flaky than I expected to be (and have sometimes been) at four months post partum. But these morning slip-ups have me worried. What if I've been lulled into a false sense of security, only to be hit with the dread disease now, when I least expect it? Tomorrow will I get to work and realize I have on two different shoes, or that my underwear are on the outside of my pants like a superhero costume? It will be like that dream where you're at school wearing nothing but big white granny panties and everyone is looking at you! This is what I get for not buying more prenatal vitamins when I ran out two months ago. Or maybe it's the cumulative effect of the massive amounts of caffiene and sugar I've been ingesting in the form of sweet tea (more on that later). Whatever it is, I've got to be vigilant, and you can help. If you happen to see me out in public with my nursing bra inside out over my shirt, make sure I've at least remembered to hook the cups back up, ok?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Southern festival of Books

This weekend is the Southern Festival of Books, which is hosted by Memphis and Nashville in alternate years. This year it's our turn, and it's killing me that Big Daddy and I don't have more time to spend down there. I feel like a crackhead who can't get to the Crack Festival. Well, except I did get to go yesterday and hear Lee Smith, author of my favorite book, read from her new book On Agate Hill. She was funny and charming as always, and she signed my freshly bought copy of the new book as well as my old, well-loved copy of Saving Grace. The last time she was here, at Burke's Books, I bought their first edition copy of Fair and Tender Ladies and got her to sign that. Now I have three! I can't explain why this makes me so happy.

Joshua's kindergarten class walked down to the children's stage yesterday to a party for Curious George. This also makes me happy. Hopefully we'll all get to spend some more time down there this weekend. I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Fall Break Friday

The kids and I were out of school today for "Fall Break," whatever that means, so we took advantage of the opportunity to sit around in our pajamas all day like we like to do. Well, in the kids' case, it was more like the clothes from yesterday that they slept in last night, but still. Big Daddy left early after being alerted to the fact that downtown was on fire, and Somerset woke me up at 8:30 which did not feel as late as it sometimes does, since someone kept me up late like he likes to do. Nevertheless, I got up and made her a waffle that she requested and then left three quarters uneaten. I also made myself a waffle with peanut butter and chocolate chips, because I'm a grown up and I can eat things like that for breakfast if I want to, and then took up my usual post on the front porch glider. I'm thinking we should just move the couch out there like the hillbillies we apparently are, because we live out there lately.

Before long, the offspring started appearing with scraps of paper, attaching them to the porch, then going back inside. I became gradually aware that they were "decorating" the house for Halloween. The whole decoration-making production line was eventually moved outside. It involved scissors, markers, paper plates, a roll of scotch tape with broken dispenser, a roll of black electrical tape, most of a box of perfectly good Puffs tissues, and fishing line. And an empty toilet paper roll.

I have to confess here that I have become alarmingly like my mother in my old age, in that my tolerance for having a lot of crap everywhere has gone way, way down. I was not loving the idea of a TP-roll Frankenstein hanging from my crepe myrtle, and little tissue ghosts hanging from everything that could be reached by their short creators, and little drawings of monsters and witches that had been crudely cut out taped to every vertical surface. But they were so freaking happy with their decorations that I didn't have the heart to rain on the paper parade. At one point, Joshua exclaimed "It looks so good, I want to stay out here forever!" After they were done, we took a walk around the block to see if we could spot any other decorations. I can tell you that we were shocked and apalled at the paucity of tissue ghosts in Chickasaw Gardens. We thought we saw some in the trees of one of the few families we know in the neighborhood that has kids, but they turned out to be store-bought, imitation tissue ghosts made of plastic. And they even homeschool! What is this world coming to? And as we walked, Calvin asked me this very Calvin-like question:

"Mom, do you ever feel so good that like, you don't want anything else to happen, you just want to keep doing exactly what you're doing? But like, it kind of makes me nervous because then I start wondering what is going to happen next."

To which I replied a very myself-like answer:

"Sweetie, try not to worry about what's going to happen next. Just enjoy the feeling good part." He just kind of nodded and took off on his scooter. That child is so much like his father, it's scarier than a whole box of ghosts made out of the cheap generic tissues that hurt your nose when you blow.

Later, after the baby napped and everyone had lunch, we went to the duck pond. The last time we were there, the boys hooked up with a kid who had a net. It was heavy duty and looked suspiciously like the one we had seen a week earlier and left alone because we figured it belonged to someone. The little boy was using it to scoop out turtles, after which he would immediately let them go. This was decidedly more exciting than feeding the lame old ducks, and Calvin has been asking for a net ever since. We made a quick run up to the Dollar Tree and got three flimsy plastic nets, which I warned the kids were only going to hold little turtles. They were thrilled, and off we went. Calvin caught a couple of turtles, but for the most part they had nothing to fear from us. We did feed the ducks, too, and then tromped around to the little peninsula, where we attached long sticks to the nets in order to give them more reach. Joshua decided his was a horse and started galloping around on it, scaring the little fish that Calvin was trying to catch. The whole scene was impossibly idyllic, with the dappled sunlight and the happy children and the baby cooing at the ducks from her perch in the sling. I wished I had brought the camera.

About halfway around the pond, Somerset started having a meltdown because she was tired of walking, but that's de rigueur and not enough to ruin an outing. I told her I guessed she would have to stay there and become the lady of the lake. "No, I don't want to do that" she said, as if it were an actual possibility.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Big Bang

Lately I am finding that even though I'm doing a decent job of staying on top of the daily routine, adding anything to it is practically impossible. Case in point: I have been trying for months to go get a haircut. Why is that so hard? Well, anytime I'm not at work, I have four tumbling, wrestling, bored/tired/hungry/angry/loud kids with me. Don't get me wrong, my kids are fairly well behaved most of the time, but there are four of them, so everything they do becomes multiplied. Big Daddy is great with the older kids, but he's still kind of scared to keep the baby alone for very long, being without breasts and all. I'd take her, but she won't sit in the bucket one second longer than necessary, and wearing a plastic cape over baby-in-sling seems like a bad idea. To make things worse, he seems to work the exact same hours that most salons are open, and is only off on Sundays when they're off too.

Since my parents recently moved from the burbs into midtown near us, I thought I could catch a break and have my Mom watch the kids while I ran out for a quick Saturday morning salon experience. After several weekends of having other things planned, I finally got my chance this Saturday. Or so I thought.

Let me give you a piece of advice: if you want to get your hair cut on Saturday, you need an appointment. Probably you know this. I foolishly thought I would be able to walk in somewhere and have services rendered. I'm not sure where I got such a crazy idea, but it might have been all those neon "Walk Ins Welcome" signs in the salon windows. Now, I know the higher-end salons are going to be booked, but I thought some of the funkier high-volume shops would have room for work-ins. You know, like leaving space for people who are actually sick to visit the doctor in between all the scheduled appointments for people with scheduled illnesses. I thought wrong. Times six.

My first stop was Bermel, less than half a mile from my house. I figured it was a long shot, but I was curious about what the scene was in there so I decided to try it anyway. I got hopeful when I walked in to find a woman helping a ten year old girl figure up someone's bill for the purpose of learning the math skills involved. But when I asked if there was an opening, the nice lady regretfully told me they were booked. I went on to Goulds in Poplar Plaza. This was my original destination anyway, and I was shocked to learn that they were booked up. Next stop, Dabbles, an old standby where I figured they could take me since they usually have several stylists working at once and it's a popular midtown spot for those with more style than money. No such luck. Ok, on to Tangles on Madison. Booked. Hi Gorgeous farther down on Madison. Booked. This was a sign of desperation, because I've gotten a bad haircut there before by a guy who did not look at my hair before washing it, then cut every hair to a different length with a razor, gave me a zig-zag part, and dried it flatter to my skull than I would have ever believed possible. I wasn't going to let that guy near my head again, but I was willing to give the shop another chance. I guess they didn't want one. On to Cloud Nine, next to Old Zinnie's and the now-defunct Green Orb, where I had the somewhat surreal experience of walking into the tiny, hallway-like space to see the sister of Big Daddy's ex-girlfriend, commonly referred to as "the cleanup woman" and "psycho skank," dying someone's hair kool-aid red. T.C.W. and I were actually good friends in high school (supposedly), so I knew her sister pretty well. She offered to "do" me after the customer she was currently working on, but that was going to be a while, so I declined. I think enough members of my family, (and everybody else's family, if you know what I mean), have been "done" by members of that family anyway.

I got back in my car, stunned by six straight rejections, and made a rash decision to go to Fantastic Sam's in Overton Square. You heard me--Fantastic Sam's. My hair had gotten pretty long, and I rationalized that I would just get a trim and how bad could it be if I told the person not to touch my bangs? I think you see where this is going. She touched my bangs. I didn't even really have bangs. I had a very thin layer of cheekbone-length fringe that I could never decide what to do with. Since I'm currently in the throes of post-partum hair loss, to be followed by the post-hair-loss "hedge" of new growth that will stick straight up along the my hairline, I figured keeping some sort of bangs until that passes was probably a good idea. The woman cutting my hair seemd to actually know what she was doing, so when she asked what I wanted to do up front, I threw caution to the wind and said "Um, I don't know" when I should have said "DO NOT TOUCH THE BANGS!!!" She told me they were "at the perfect length to do that side-swept bang that is so popular right now." "Um, ok." I replied. Apparently in crazy-bad hairdresser language, this translates to "Yes, please do cut two inches off my bangs, go back another inch from my hairline and bring that hair into the bang collective, and oh yeah, cut them on an angle going the opposite direction from my part." So that's what she did, of course. I now have Ugly Betty's haircut. I guess I finally have a reason to be glad the 80's are back in style.