Month: June 2009

Growing like a weed.

Ray’s getting older. For better or worse, she’s grown away from the sugar sweet innocence of babyhood. She isn’t sour, but she’s tarter – wittier – able to stand just the tiniest bit back from the events happening around her and see them from her own perspective, not just her parents’ or friends’. It’s still hard for her to keep that eye of distance on her friends, but that’s as it is.

She’s getting to the point where she wishes things were different (i.e., perfect). If only our yard were like everyone else’s, full of grass and flowers and a swimming pool and…

Honestly, it’s a little discouraging.

But I have to stand just a little bit back and see things from my own perspective, too. I spent two summers pulling gravel out of the back yard to get even this far. Today, I spent a couple of hours pulling weeds out of the yard – first, I watered and admired the strawberry patch – and under the big clumps of weeds are patches of tiny, silken grass shoots. My patch of dill and basil is starting to sprout, even after the heat we’ve had the last few days. My next project is to put bird netting over the strawberries – which may or may not do anything about the squirrel that runs across the top of the fence next to the patch. I put some old leaf mulch between the rows of strawberries today. I didn’t plan it – I just ran across a pile of rotten leaves and was inspired. “Perfect,” I said. “Nothing’s growing in it.”

I’m finally able to stand back from the sweltering gravel pit of imperfection that is my back yard and go, “Ah. That part’s nice.”

It’s not a big part. But it’s nice.

Part of me is an editor, a perfectionist, a rules lawyer, a perpetual teenager whining about how things aren’t fair. And if I didn’t have that part of me, I wouldn’t have a job, and I certainly wouldn’t have pulled weeds tonight for two hours. But that part of me can’t appreciate anything I’ve accomplished. It tangles me up: don’t bother starting if it isn’t going to be perfect.

Part of me is a daydreamer, a living non sequiteur. If I didn’t daydream, I wouldn’t be worth being around. I wouldn’t be able to understand other people, let alone give a crap about them – I wouldn’t be able to put myself in their shoes. But that part of me will start a million projects and never finish anything. It always gives up.

But when they work together – when I just leave them alone to do what they do best – it’s better. I don’t give up – but I occasionally stand back and admire my work.

Maybe I can get a kiddie pool this year, if I put it where the worst of the weeds are instead of where the baby grass is growing. The pool will have to be rigid plastic, of course, or the gravel will tear it up.

A surprise for when Ray comes back from South Dakota, in July, from visiting her grandparents. Unless she reads it on the blog first – she does that sometimes.

On the one hand, you want your kid to be well-adjusted. Well-rounded. Happy. Perfect.

On the other hand, it’s the little pieces of craziness that both give your kid individuality and talent. Who would I be if I hadn’t obsessed about books and words my entire childhood? Or if I hadn’t spent so many years tearing myself up about how things weren’t fair? I wouldn’t be me, had all my wrinkles been smoothed out too soon.

So here’s to my daughter – growing like a weed – in a protected corner of our garden, where I won’t trim her too much, until she can find the place where she isn’t a weed anymore. Hopefully, she’ll come back and visit after she uproots herself.

Bad Jokes.

So this kid tells his father a bad joke. And his father tells me. And I, admittedly not the best joke teller (or rememberer; I only have two long jokes and two short ones at hand most of the time) in the world, tell my daughter.

Here’s the joke:

“An actor wants to get a part as a pirate, so he cuts his leg off. But he doesn’t get the job. Know why? He cut off the wrong leg!”

She’s sitting in the back seat of Lee’s Jeep. She looks at me like I’m an idiot.

Okay, okay, I’m a bad joke teller. Fair enough, I’m thinking.

She says, “Mom, everyone knows you have to cut off this leg [points to right leg] if you’re going to be a pirate.”

Duh.

Later, she says, “Mom, do you want to hear a joke? My friend [friend’s name redacted] told it to me.”

“Okay,” I say.

“A boy, it’s his first day of school, his very first day, his teacher asks, ‘What is your name?’ and he says, ‘Buttcheeks.’ And the teacher says, ‘If you say that one more time, I’m going to send you to the principal’s office. Now what is your name? And the boy says, ‘Buttcheeks!’ [Giggles]

“The teacher sends him to the principal’s office and the principal says, ‘What is your name?’ and the boys says [more giggles] ‘Buttcheeks!’ And the principal says, ‘If you say that one more time, I’m going to send you to the cop, and he will shoot you dead. Now, what is your name?’ And the boy says, ‘My name is Buttcheeks!’

“The principal sends him to the cop and the cop says, ‘What is your name?’ and the boy says [she has to stop to catch her breath] ‘My name is Buttcheeks!’ and the cop says, ‘If you say that one more time, I’m going to shoot you in the head. Now what is your name?’ And the boy says, ‘Buttcheeks!’ So the cop shoots him dead.

“The boy’s mother comes to the police station and says to the cop, ‘Oh my poor Buttcheeks!’ And the cops says, ‘You can sit down if you want.’ But the woman says, ‘Buttcheeks was the name of my son!'”

[Complete loss of cool. Apparently, that’s the end of the joke.]

Nobody believes kids, you know. It’s a shame.

Burnout, slow recovery.

The last few weeks have been rough – too many projects going on, too many possibilities. Too much editing.

So instead of trying to accomplish it all as fast as I can, so I can fit more in (my usual mode of operation), I’ve been trying to (face it; something in the back corner of my brain has been forcing me to) slow down and take things one step at a time: I worked on a strawberry patch instead of trying to fix my entire back yard (it needs it). I’ve been working on my murder mystery game, instead of my game and my novel rewrites, and a short story I have in my head, and doing research, and volunteering for Pikes Peak Writers, and coming up with RPG material, and writing blog entries, and and and. I took a few evenings off to just read or hang out with my family.

Part of me is gnashing my teeth. I didn’t get enough done! But part of me is saying, “What you did do, was valuable.” The thing is, I get down when I’m not accomplishing something, and I’m afraid of wrapping myself up in the idea that I have all the time in the world to do what I want to do. What if I forget something important? What if I spend too much time doing nothing?

Rachael at Nosh.

I took a floating holiday on Wednesday. That morning, I tried to do edits, but realized I still didn’t have a plan on how exactly to fix something, so I used the morning working that out. I hate rebuilding plans during editing time – it works much better to brainstorm during meetings. But I couldn’t move ahead without it, so there you go.

Ray and I left for Nosh about eleven.

On the one hand, eating at restaurants really isn’t important. It’s all calories. On the other hand, it’s vital – humans aren’t built to eat the same thing, day after day. And we are what we eat, both in our choices of what to eat and how our choices affect us, physically and otherwise.

Nosh is a good place. High-quality ingredients prepared simply but well, in reasonable portions and proportions. Good ambiance, with the far side of the main dining room lit by skylight, the walls covered with giant koi, and the floors made of bamboo.

Friendly, foodie staff. Reasonable prices. An eye for world cuisine and twists on familiar flavors. Not the best food I’ve ever had – but that was a conjunction of excellent good, ambiance, and company not to be often recreated or surpassed.

We arrived early, so we got a little carton of sweet potato fries, dressed with salt and pepper and served with a sweet sauce with red peppers, maybe.

The waitress asked how the fries were and got a thumb’s up.

Ray scanned the menu. I said, “You should have the calamari.”

“What’s that?”

“Squid.”

“That’s what I’m having.”

And she did. She wandered the restaurant and decided the giant goldfish wallpaper was a good thing. She chatted up the waitresses and figured out our table number.

I ordered the tomato bisque and crabcakes with mango-cilantro salsa.

It all arrived quickly, perfectly prepared.

I don’t like going to restaurants that serve food that I can cook better than they can. I’m pretty sure I can make everything on the Nosh menu without too much hassle. I just can’t pull it off as well.

So we sat, and talked, and ate, and laughed, and it was good. And that’s something I would like to have be a part of my daughter’s life.

Then we went to Fernando Botero at the Fine Arts Center. And after that, the park: everybody looked weird: too thin

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