Welcome to Limbo!

on 29 May 2009

I had hoped that something would have changed this week. We would have a job, or at the very least an interview, that we would have some idea of where we're going and what we're going to be doing and blah blah blah.

And the reality is: I've got nothing for you. We are still in LIMBO. My HATE of this situation, let me share it with you.

So instead of a snarky rant on my current Limbotic situation, I'm going to give a hearty shout out to the ladies who stopped in to the Book Forum to participate in our online discussion of Broken for You.

Go and read the awesome comments for yourself and revel in their awesomeness. It should be up through the weekend so if you feel moved upon by the spark of genius, then stop by and share your thoughts on that amazing book. Thank you all again! You're MAHvalous!


on 27 May 2009

Love this MAN.

Love this Boy.

Love this Life.

Many hearty thanks to Katrina who took these amazing photographs while sick and 2 weeks out from moving across the country! They're gorgeous and completely reflective of life in Burnstopia. For more, visit the link above, and if you find yourself in Salt Lake City, call her and try to do a session, you won't regret it.

Broken for You is finally happening!

on 26 May 2009

This is just a quick announcement to let you all know that the Broken for You online discussion is happening this Thursday (May 28th) all day, over at the book forum. Read the book, stop by for a discussion, read the comments--I know some really smart people and occasionally pretend to be one of them!

See you all over there!

Refuse to be Manipulated

on 25 May 2009

I've blogged about cloth diapering before. And while I try not to be offensive and respect people's choices, I sometimes shake my head and think, "Dude. Cloth diapers. End of discussion."

I am an unlikely advocate for cloth diapers. I'm a bit of a germ-a-phobe, I hate mess and clutter of any and all kinds, and I have a highly sensitive gag reflex. And yet. I think anyone who plans to have more than one child should start off cloth diapering. I think almost EVERYONE should be cloth diapering right now.* Dude. Can you imagine how many diapers the Duggars have gone through alone?!? Seriously.

We started cloth diapering because I was fairly certain that I would want to quit work to stay home with the Boy and I knew that our budget was going to have to tighten. So in typical Mormon fashion, I started to prepare in advance. Chris and I saved and saved and SAVED as much money as we could (almost HALF of my annual salary) and then I started making plans to cut our weekly expenses. I had planned to breastfeed exclusively (I planned for a year but yeah...my boobs think that they're really only here for aesthetics) and we made it for five months. I bought baby clothes from consignment and half price sales to last for the whole first year. And we planned to cloth diaper. So initially it started out as a good financial decision...

Then we started talking about other aspects. Did you know that Burnstopia has NEVER seen a stitch of diaper rash. (yes, I'm knocking on every wooden surface within reach.) And since I tend to break out in a rash just by looking at certain things, I'm chocking that up to the cloth diapers. The Boy...he has my skin (it's still nearly translucent and you can still see all the veins in his head...it's quite pretty in an anatomical kind of way...), and the cloth diapers--free from all those nasty chemicals and pulpy paper--keep him fresh as a spring day.

I love this clip from Saturday Night Live--especially the bit where Madonna is talking about burying a diaper in her back yard. The depressing truth is that it takes disposable diapers 500 YEARS to decompose, let alone grow anything. And what no one ever talks about is the fact that you're not supposed to wrap up the solid waste and dispose of it in the diaper itself. It can contaminate ground water supplies. (For the record you're supposed to shake ALL solids into the toilet whether you use cloth or disposables. And if you're going to do that with disposables, you may as well use cloth diapers!)

Environmentalists talk a lot about carbon footprints, and one of the things people don't talk about with carbon footprints is CHOICE. With cloth diapering, you have a choice of how big of a carbon footprint you leave. We use all natural detergent and we line dry everything. With disposable diapers you have NO choice, none. And isn't choice a good thing?

And yes, I've heard all the counter arguments, all that laundry! The squick factor! Extra work! It's so HARD! And all I have to say is BULL. First of all, from the moment we brought the Boy home I was drowning in laundry, a load of diapers every couple of days is NOTHING! To say nothing of the fact that I wash them in the washing machine, I don't beat them on stones to clean them! The machine does all the work, so really, are you kidding me? And lastly, I've seen nastier things from my son in disposables than I have in cloth. He's NEVER had a blow out in cloth diapers--I cleaned up more than a few of them in disposables. And once you've cleaned up a blow out, you've done more than clean up a cloth diaper. At least in the cloth diapers I only have to clean the diaper and not everything he was wearing and/or sitting on!

Now. I know...I can hear some of you thinking from here, "Well, the kind of diapers you use are so nice and expensive, I don't have the money to buy those." Maybe so, maybe no. We bought the bumGenius 3.0s and now that we have them we've also bought some lovely, soft prefolds to use when we travel. They're cheaper than the bumGenius but just as effective. Slap on a waterproof cover and it doesn't get much simpler than that. We're starting to look ahead to baby version 2.0 and planning for that child to be cloth diapered exclusively. And there are more than a few websites specializing in reselling the more expensive diapers. And let's pause for a moment to think about the fact that cloth diapers will last for more than one child, and suddenly they aren't quite so expensive.

Lastly, let me warn you all. Don't be Manipulated. The makers of disposable diapers WANT you to believe that cloth diapers are too inconvenient, too messy, too expensive blah blah blah. They're making MONEY on you. They want to scare you into a disposable submission. And in case you don't believe me, check this out. And we come back to choice. I'm not about to be dictated to by a big business conglomerate about how to parent my child--and nor should you.

The Boy says, "My heiny is happy in my cozy soft diapers!"

(And yes, those are my feet in desperate need of a pedicure. A pedicure that's going to wait for a good long while until I can rationalize spending $20 for a really good foot rub.)

*I do think that there are some reasonable exceptions to the rule, frequent travelers and those moms of extreme multiples--you know quintuplets (oh bless us and save us) and such, those poor women are totally off the hook.

The Randomness Thereof

on 22 May 2009

I'm sorry.

I have nothing funny, intelligent or thought provoking to write this morning. All I have is a head full of random worries...a fretful head, if you will.

In no particular order these are the things swimming around in my gray matter.

  • I think the Boy is working on two more teeth. His favorite thing to chew on is his sleeve. He catches it between his six (6!) front teeth and bites down and pulls it out until it snaps. It's pretty pitiful, especially when accompanied by his new whine.
  • Chris interviewed in Brunswick. He liked the organization but is not so keen on the town itself so he is job hunting some more.
  • our lease is up June 12th. JUNE 12TH! Which means we need to find a job, find a new apartment, pack and MOVE in 22 DAYS. I need to go lie down.
  • That's a pretty hard thought to follow with other thoughts, and when it creeps up (which is often) I usually have to stew over it for a while.
  • I have eaten my weight in chocolate lately, I need to try to go running.
  • Basically, every time I think of that date, June 12th, I have a piece of chocolate while I mull it over in my fretful head.
  • We have a lot of crap. I'm going to need a lot of boxes.
  • We keep running out of stuff, I haven't stocked the apartment like usual because we have to MOVE in 22 DAYS, and I hate having to buy stuff when I know I'm just going to have to MOVE it...but lo, it's stuff we can't buy just 2 of...we have to buy packs of, oh 100. grrrrr.
  • I bought these organic multigrain chips at Sams the last time we were there and I think I'm allergic to something in them. I ate a lot of nachos with them while Chris was gone and every morning I woke up with my eyes mostly swollen shut, which only happens with bad allergic reactions...I have no idea what it could be.
  • I kind of want to read the China Study that everyone keeps going on about, but I'm also scared...I'm already more than a bit paranoid about the food industry.
  • I need to pick up a couple of books on positive discipline but that involves a trip to Barnes and Noble, and no trip (for me) to Barnes and Noble is a quick trip--also, I don't want to MOVE them.
  • We're out of cookies. I made some peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and yesterday I ate 5 of them. In ONE(1) day! And now we're out of them and that makes me SAD. How can I be expected to cope with all of this without these cookies?
  • Chris and I watched season 3 of No Reservations and it really makes me want to go to French Polynesia and just "forget" to come home.
  • I really want more of those enchiladas that Katrina made me...I think I shall attempt them.
  • The Boy cracks me up...he's never met a piece of fruit he didn't like. So far he's up to: apples, bananas, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, pears, pineapple, prunes, and apricots. Of course, the same doesn't hold true for vegetables. He's tried squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, peas, asperagus, green beans and butternut squash. And he currently eats sweet potatoes. No matter how I cook it, season it, present it; no matter what game, song, or silly face is involved...he clams up when that spoon comes in range. I have no idea what to try next.
  • He will eat beans. Almost any kind, as long as there's no cayenne pepper in them, he'll eat them. I made some white beans with garlic, olive oil and italian herbs and he slurped it right up, it was adorable.
  • People keep asking me if I'm going to raise him as a vegetarian. The answer is...meh. I don't know. I haven't decided against meat, he just happens to eat whatever I'm eating more often than not--which means that he's just sort of happening to be a vegetarian. But he's eaten chicken and fish before...his response is usually, meh.
  • I have no idea how I got distracted with the Boy's eating habits...I was making a list about all my random worries...I guess I'm worried about what he eats.
  • Jarlsburg cheese makes the best cheese sandwiches ever.
  • I'm so not ready to move, people. Physically, spiritually, emotionally, grammatically, I'm just all kinds of NOT ready.
  • I'm worried about my friend and her pregnancy.

Self-mockery at it's finest.

on 20 May 2009

So for my first strong opinion all I can muster is this:

Teething SUCKS.

The Boy is working on tooth number 7 and number 8 is following hot on its heels. His gum is purple and it makes me sad.

For some diverting reading you should all check out the Progressive Pioneer. I found the link when Katrina posted it to Facebook and it is awesome.

Strong Opinions

Years ago, Vladimir Nabokov published a book titled Strong Opinions in which he expressed his views on...oh, everything. I've never read it--I prefer his Speak, Memory--but I give it mental space because it so amuses me how MAD people got after reading it.

After all, it's in the title. Opinions. The book isn't titled: This is the Way All People Should Live EVERYWHERE and if they were Anyone of Value they WOULD. It's titled Strong Opinions (and it should be subtitled Ye Be Warned).

I reference this because I'm launching a new series of posts around here and I'm borrowing the title. The man is dead, and I sincerely doubt that my blog would reach up to his intellectual standard of reading, so pfffffft.

I have some strong opinions. I mostly keep them mum because sharing opinions can occasionally come off as being in direct contradiction to the Burnstopia rule of Live and Let Live; and there are people who share their opinions as if there was NO OTHER point of view. So, let's all be clear at the outset--these are my Opinions, and while I think that it would be awesome if more people chose to see the world this way, I fully respect everyone's right to choose for themselves what works best for them.

I have a few opinions that I intend to share, and if you all think of something you'd like to hear my opinion about, feel free to ask for it in the comments or via email.

Also, as a side note. If a post offends you, please EMAIL me. I would hate for anyone to stop reading, get huffy, or...well...be offended because I went up to the edge and then just moseyed right on over it. I'm a totally neurotic girl, but I pretend to be pretty laid back. Anyone can talk to me about anything and I can almost keep my cool. So please, don't fester.

Which she is THAT talented

on 18 May 2009

Seriously, people.

The boy had his first ever playdate last Wednesday, with the Ash-man who is 10 days younger than he is. It was really quite fun being pregnant at the same time as Katrina and rehashing our experiences together. It never failed to remind me how different we all are and how interesting the varieties of our experiences, and yet. For as different as our pregnancies were, we still came out the other side of it absolutely in love with our Boys and anticipate repeating that experience.

The Boy and the Ash-man were playing down on the floor, the Boy wreaking havoc, of course, and so I got down on the floor to try to contain the damage and Katrina got out her magic wand--I mean camera and she performed magic of the most difficult kind.

She managed to make ME look good. I have to be the least photogenic human being EVER created, and yet, here I am, looking relatively normal. And if I look good in these pictures, you should see how irresistible my Boy is. Oh wait! I can SHOW you!

Oh. Do you hear that? That's the sound of my otherwise steely heart melting into my shoes. Thank you, Katrina! Please always use your powers for good, otherwise, we're all doomed.

Asheville Day 3: Thomas Wolfe's House

on 15 May 2009

...a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; of a stone, a leaf, a door. And of all the forgotten faces.
Naked and alone we came into exile. In her dark womb we did not know our mother's face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth.
  • Thomas Wolfe, 1929 Look Homeward, Angel
As you may remember from part I of this series, Chris was supposed to contact the recruiter from Mission Hospital in Asheville. She had contacted him to let him know that his application for a position within their organization had been passed up to the hiring committee. So he called on Tuesday and set up a 9am meeting with her for Thursday morning.

Thursday morning dawned and we headed out to find Mission Hospital. It has a really good reputation and it's Asheville--we'd both love to live there. We were seriously early so we walked around a bit and then I settled down to text Whimsy and he headed in to his meeting.

The recruiter was apparently very nice, but kept insisting that Chris needed a nursing degree and at least 1 YEAR of nursing experience if he wanted any administrative job. Please believe me when I tell you that this IS INSANE. He has a MASTERS degree in Healthcare Administration--administrative work in hospitals is what he's MADE for. UNC has the #3 program in the ENTIRE NATION. Graduates routinely get jobs doing exactly what he's applied for, and let me tell you that MOST of them do NOT come from a background in nursing.

Chris is convinced that she really has no clue what a Masters in Healthcare Administration even IS, much less what he's qualified to DO. They promote people with nursing experience because that's what they've ALWAYS done, not necessarily because it's what's best.

I was BEYOND MAD. Firstly, this is precisely what I HATE about the South. This reluctance for change of any kind, even change for the better. Second, she informed Chris that they had hired the interum person who had been doing the job he applied for--which, if that's the case, then WHY, WHY bother calling other people and telling them that you've passed their materials on to the hiring committee? And while we're asking obvious questions, how hard is it to GOOGLE UNC School of Public Health MHA? You can see at a glance the degree requirements and even sample syllabi to find out what kind of course work they do. GAH!!!

I ranted A LOT on the way home. I'm still a bit FLOORED that they want him to have a background in nursing for ADMINISTRATIVE/LEADERSHIP work. I think nurses do important work, I'm grateful for them, but that doesn't mean that they know how to make a hospital viable.

Anyway. I have ascended my soap box.

Whimsy introduced me to Thomas Wolfe years ago when I lived in Seattle. She had read some of his Look Homeward, Angel to me and it made my eyes go all soft and out of focus. I started it, but then I also started grad school and well, one thing pushes out another. I spent three years reading my way through the 19th century and then when I finished I didn't quite know what to do with myself so I just sort of kept on reading my way through the 19th century. I've always studied the Europeans and just never quite made my way over to America.

Let me tell you, after seeing his house and hearing about him, I just might make that jump.

He wasn't born here. He was born just down the block, but when he was six his mother moved here (it was her boarding house, she owned and operated it) with him in tow. He had no room of his own, he was regularly shuffled around the house and around the paying guests, who for all their respectability were still only strangers.

He lived here until the age of 16 when he went off to university at UNC-Chapel Hill. When he eventually turned to writing "fiction" he wrote of this place, Old Kentucky Home, and the people he met here. Look Homeward, Angel immortalizes the house and its inhabitants but also the entire city of Asheville and many of it's locals.

The house has never been privately owned, it stayed in the Wolfe family and was eventually sold to the city of Asheville and set up as a historic site, so all of the furnishing are original. Let me tell you, it was amazing!

This is one of the sun porches immortalized in the book. He stayed in this room the summer he was 16 and became enamored of the young, beautiful girl staying in the room next door. The light is amazing, I couldn't stop wondering what Asheville must have looked like from those windows in the early 20th century.

Part of the problem with Thomas Wolfe is that he wrote the story of his life as "fiction" but he made no effort whatsoever to disguise any of the characters, so the good people of Asheville read the book and were completely offended at having their dirty laundry aired in such fashion. It was so bad that he couldn't return to Asheville for 7 years after the publication of his novel. He received death threats, people, and nasty ones. He actually wrote to one of his brother's to inquire if it was safe to return.

He was partly raised by his older brother. Knowing how displaced he felt by living in the boarding house, he would come and take little Thomas out on outings around town--just get him out of the chaos of the house in general.

He contracted Spanish Influenza and Thomas was sent for from university. He took the train and the whole way home he kept thinking "It can't be that bad, he's so young." Thomas arrived home (to this room) to watch his beloved brother pass away. It became one of the formative tragedies of his youth.

So then what happened? What happens to us all. He grew up. He went to Harvard to study playwriting, only to learn that he was awful at it. He seduced an older woman who urged him to write fiction. She did more than urge, she supported him financially so that he could write. And what did he write? He wrote Look Homeward, Angel. At a time when Hemingway and Fitzgerald were kings, Thomas Wolfe ascended the ranks. And how, you might ask?

By looking homeward.

Asheville Day 2: Biltmore Estate redux

on 13 May 2009

In the middle of November 2003, Chris asked me if I had ever seen the Biltmore estate. I answered with a derisive snort, NO. For, lo, I looked down my nose at such extravagance, I found it to be OBSCENE. But he asked if I wanted to go and I'm never one to shirk an adventure, so we went.

[You should probably know that he had already asked me to marry him at this point. You know those conversations, the quiet private kind where there's no ring and no fanfare--the kind I like best. So we already knew that we were going to spend our lives together, we just hadn't made it official for the Families.]

Anyway, up to Asheville we went. We met up with his Aunt Nancy, his mom and his sister. We drove around the mountain, we saw the camper, we drove through town and checked in to a hotel for the night, the 5 of us (I maintain Chris' bravery, he was staying in a room with 4 Women. He's one fearless MAN.)

The next day was cloudy and cool and we drove in to Biltmore. He was acting really weird...so I walked on ahead of him. (I know. I should have suspected something, but I didn't. What can I say...Chris is just weird some times.) Anyway, he asked me to walk around the Italian garden with him, which I did, and I finally asked him why he was so weird and he asked me if I really wanted to know and I said, yeeees. And he pulled the ring out of his pocket. I was so STUNNED he could have pushed me INTO the reflecting pools and I would not have been more surprised. He asked me if I would marry him and I said, YES--of COURSE.

The rest of the day at Biltmore was a blur. I had very little memory of the gardens or the house--I remembered the Christmas trees...but not really anything else of the house. Oddly enough, Chris said the same thing when we were planning the trip--he didn't really remember anything after the proposal. (That said, I would just like to say, I have no idea why men get so nervous about the official proposal, DUDE--You knew my ANSWER.)

And so we were going back to Biltmore. I'm a little more relaxed now. I still think it's extravagant, but it's more a head-shaking, eye-rolling reaction now rather than my previous snorts of disgust.

We decided to go and see some stuff this time around that we hadn't gotten to the last time. We planned to start with the Farm and kitchen gardens, then do the House and the ornamental gardens. It was cloudy and rain was coming, we were hoping to get as much outside stuff done before the rain hit.

The Farm was great, we were the only people down there, and the Boy was totally relaxed in his stroller.

Stripes and argyle go together, right? It's combinations like these that lead Chris to say, "Dude. Your mama dresses you funny." I think it's awesome.

By the time we were sifting through the kitchen gardens, the rain had started falling and we decided to head back to the house in the hopes that the Boy would fall asleep.

In the time it took us to drive from the Farm to the parking lots for the main house, the heavens opened and the deluge had started, complete with thunder and lightening.

We parked, put the Boy in the baby bjorn and trotted down to catch the shuttle to the house. It was surprisingly crowded.

Anyway, we got in and began to walk through. It was actually really cool with the storm going on outside, the inside is almost gothic-y (I'm not sure if that's a word, but it felt like being in a Radcliffe novel, if that helps you). Anyway, we went through the older rooms, and the newly restored rooms and then down the basement and it all took about 2 hours and by the end of it, we were all exhausted and the Boy was STILL AWAKE. I had hoped he would fall asleep but there was WAY too much going on, but he hung out contentedly in the baby bjorn just looking around.

By the end of it, I was starving and the Boy in need of lunch, a clean diaper and a NAP. So we headed into the former stables, which they've made over into a restaurant. I had the veggie burger and the Boy ate my pickle, the fries and some quiche which Chris had ordered. He got a clean diaper and some formula and he went back into the baby bjorn and we walked outside for the gardens. It wasn't raining anymore, but I really wanted him to nap, so I went to find a park bench to rock him to sleep.

20 minutes later, I won.

He was incredibly heavy, but he so seldom falls asleep on top of me anymore, that I was actually enjoying it. I kept him wrapped up so that the stray raindrops wouldn't wake him and we moseyed on down to the ornamental gardens.

[I just noticed that the Italian garden is in the background of this picture...on the left side is where Chris proposed. This ends your happy walking tour of the history of the founding of Burnstopia.]

Anyway, when we were here the first time, none of the gardens were in bloom, obviously, and I had said at the time that I would love to see them in bloom.

We were too late for the tulips and daffodils, and too early for the roses, but there were some pansies and foxglove and the wisteria was gorgeous.

We managed to walk through the walled gardens and the conservatory/greenhouses and through most of the azalea gardens before the Boy woke up. And now some pictures...my fingers are sore from all the typity type typing.

That's me and the Boy in the Walled Garden.

The Rose Garden.

The Azalea Garden, with my big hair to give you some perspective on how big those azaleas were.

The bridge from the Last of the Mohicans (it was gorgeous, but it wasn't sunny enough to get the full reflection.)

Whimsy, remember when you were here and I told how wisteria will take over everything if you let it? Exhibit A. And this is trained to grow over the trellis. It's pretty, yes, the smell was amazing! Absolutely lovely.

Anyway. We finished in the gardens around 3:30ish and decided to call it a day. We drove out through the deer park and the grounds. We saw sheep, newly sheared, grazing with their lambs and it was beautiful. The next hill had cattle with the calves and then the Boy started to melt down. We brought out the trusty camera toy but it was a bit beyond for that to work.

We got back to the hotel, got the Boy bathed, fed and down for the night and Chris and I started to talk about what to do for dinner ourselves. Now, I'm pretty sure that you're all going to be skeptical about the story that I'm about to relate, but I'm asking you to trust me on this one.

Some friends had recommended a couple of restaurants for us to try while we were in Asheville but they were downtown and at this point, the Boy sleeping was the priority so we were really looking for take out. Chris jumped on to Chowhounds and searched for Asheville. There was a post for a Thai restaurant that was currently housed in an Exxon gas station but it was getting great reviews. I told Chris THAT'S what I want. Now. Please. You bring me this Thai food.

I called in a to-go order and he drove out to South Asheville to pick it up. He was gone a looooooong time. But he came back with a bag full of food for under $25. The tofu was fried and crispy and chewy and the sauce...oh my goodness, someone rain down good fortune on the Thai for inventing this sauce. It was a sweet chili sauce with peanuts so it was slightly sweet, spicey and nutty all at once. The pad Thai was so smokey I thought there was bacon in it but there wasn't. More delicious fried tofu (I remain convinced that the Thai are the only people on the entire planet who know how to make tofu delicious), beansprouts and tamarind. I was so happy all I could do was roll my eyes and mumble incoherently through mouthfuls of noodles.

It's pretty hard to top Thai food in your pajamas brought to you by the man you love.
Stay tuned for Day 3: Thomas Wolfe's house and a mind-blowing conversation.

Aaaaaaaaaand DONE.

We officially have a MASTERFUL Burnstopia.

We are indeed FULL of Masters.

Chris has graduated! He's DONE! The final project has been finally presented for the FINAL time and he even has the beautiful piece of paper which confirms his Masterful status. Now all it needs is a suitable frame.*

In all seriousness, I'm quite proud of my Master of Healthcare Administration. He's worked hard. I think I can count on one hand the number of times he's skipped class in the past two years. He's done his homework and networked and attended conferences and workshops and never at any time did he display the cut-throat behavior of some members of his cohort. He was helpful and friendly with his direct classmates as well as the first years and the interviewees.

Let's have a hearty round of applause for my Masterful Man.

*Anyone care to speculate as to how many degrees we have sitting around Burnstopia UNframed? If you guessed 3 you would be correct. What? I like prime numbers. NOW I'll go and buy some frames.

The Harebrained Scheme

on 11 May 2009

We spent last weekend up at my sister's with her lovely children. Seriously, I came away from the weekend thinking--"This is what I need in my life, a 15 year old girl." My niece is AWESOME. She cooked and fed us, she wrangled her brothers and she distracted the Boy so that I could work on a freelance project, she's neat, quiet and non-whiny. It was amazing.

Anyway, while we were up there, Chris hatched this crazy, harebrained scheme of going to Asheville for a few days to celebrate the anniversary and his graduation. I said, "Sure!" I'm generally up for his antics, but I added the condition that he call the recruiter at Mission and talk to her about employment possibilities.

Monday morning I did some laundry and some packing and bought the tickets for Biltmore online. Tuesday morning dawned rainy and gorgeous and away we went. It's about a 4 hour drive from Burnstopia to Asheville. The plan was to head out, take as much time as the Boy deemed necessary for the drive and meet up with Chris' aunt and grandma in their little camper on Cold Mountain. (Yes, that Cold Mountain.)

Now...if left to my own devices, I would take a book and read the whole way, because that's how I roll. The Boy fell asleep and Chris and I talked most of the way. When he woke up he was hungry so we decided to stop to feed him some lunch. We kept looking for promising signs and what we finally settled on was one for the historic Fort Dobbs.

We turned off and drove this winding road. Neither of us had any idea what happened to make Fort Dobbs so historic. Chris even called his best friend Jeff to ask him to wikipedia it for us, but alas, he did not answer. After a long and winding road we arrive at Fort Dobbs. Which looks like this:

Hmmmm, we were a little unimpressed. But there was a great covered picnic area and restrooms so we stopped. The Boy had an alfresco diaper change and some lunch. We noticed another small but slightly better constructed cabin and so went to inquire what happened at the historic Fort Dobbs.

Turns out that Fort Dobbs had a run-in with the Cherokee during the French and Indian war. Who knew? Anyway, the fort had long since been destroyed but you can walk around the archeological remains and see the old well. The first cabin was under construction, the reenactors are building a log cabin using the same tools and methods they would have used in the 1750s. The guide/reenactor man was very nice and let us explore the exhibits in the small but better built cabin.

We got back in the car and headed out to the mountains. Now, for the next part of our story, you must understand that Chris spent much of his summers growing up traveling between Savannah and the camper. He knew the way sufficiently for us to spend some time up there when we were living in Athens, but since moving to NC (for some reason) we haven't made it up there. So we headed in to the mountains and Chris promptly forgot how to get there.

We took the wrong exit and spent the next two (2) hours driving in circles trying to figure out how to get OUT of where we were and IN to the part of town that we knew and needed. Chris finally gave up and called his aunt to come and get us. We pulled in to this place:

I tried really hard not to see this as an omen for the week in Asheville. And aside from mixed signals and more driving around lost, we managed to soak up some lovely sunshine and the Boy got to get out of his seat for a while and have a break and a snack and yet another alfresco diaper change.

We met up with Aunt Nancy and Grandmama and drove over to the camper. We visited with some friends of their's, we dipped the Boy's feet in the small creek, he got lovely presents and we headed out to dinner.

(Just by way of an aside. I have to say that I'm routinely surprised at how many people are enchanted by my Boy. I think he's beautiful and charming and sweet and adorable but I'm his Mother and therefore not the most objective judge. Same goes for the Grandmas. So it's always a lovely surprise when total strangers come up to us and comment on how cute and curious and well-behaved he is. And living the South, it happens A LOT.)

Needless to say, what with all the driving and the historicness and the getting lost and the being loved on and the cold water and sunshine, we had worn the Boy out. He fussed most of the way to the hotel, but eventually fell asleep. We checked in, bathed him and got him down for the night.

(Many PROFOUND thanks to Whimsy for buying the Boy this camera when she was here. I was initially skeptical, but I brought it with us and man, it saved our BACON during a couple of I-Have-Had-Enough-Of-My-Car-Seat meltdowns, so thank you, Whimsy! I will never doubt again.)

Transitional Frustration

on 08 May 2009

Well. I dropped the butter knife whilst buttering half of a bagel for the Boy's breakfast. The edge of it caught my toe--I didn't try to dodge because dude, it's a BUTTER knife. And well, it sliced it open. Lovely! There was blood! And I love the smell of blood and butter in the morning. On with the never ending circus of my life.

I wrote this post on Saturday...and well...the Boy started scooting around much more efficiently by Monday morning. The sentiment is still the same, so I'll go ahead and publish it and then add an addendum to the end.

See, the Boy is not quite the squishy, drooly baby that he has been. Nor is he yet the Toddler Terrorist he wants to be...yet. Anyway, he keeps looking around all curious and adorable and then realizing that he can't get where he wants to be (to cause TROUBLE) and then he gets MAD.

And then he makes this face...

Pitiful isn't it? You should hear the accompanying racket. You wouldn't feel quite so much sympathy for him, but rather, for ME.

Here's the thing. I don't know how to help him. And I'm not even sure that I should. Some things I think you have to learn on your own. And how to deal with frustration seems to me to be one of those things. As does momentum.

But I also feel this overwhelming empathy for him. I've been there. Often. That point where you can see what you want, you just don't know how to get there. It's like looking out over a valley and seeing what you want in the middle of it, but you can't see a way down off the mountain.

So the reality is that, more often than not, I tend to come to the rescue. I pick him up and move him around with me. I bring him the toys that have caught his eyes, I shift him into a sitting position after he falls over, I walk (holding his hands) around the apartment endlessly.

I worry that I'm creating a bad habit for the two of us. That I'm enabling him to be lazy and that he's taking advantage of my empathy. I worry sometimes that empathy inhibits his progress. But when I do nothing I worry that I'm teaching him to be skeptical and untrusting. I guess what I'm looking for is a middle ground and wondering if such a thing exists.

I want him to be independent. I want him to be bold and fearless. But I also want him to look at the world with better eyes than his mother. I want him to see the good in people first. I want him to trust and love without skepticism or cynicism. I want him to be better than I am.

Addendum: Oh dear. I am not ready to be the mother of a movable Child. When did this HAPPEN? I can't keep up with him! I put him down in one place and then I look for him and he is NOT WHERE I LEFT HIM! He has a fixation with cords and there are cords EVERYWHERE! He also seems to have a shoe fetish. We're doomed. DOOMED I say! We're still alive but we're DOOMED.

Limited Time Offer

on 07 May 2009

Hey everyone who's interested!

The online only discussion of the amazing book Broken for You is postponed. I know that the time has gone quickly by and some who have been interested in participating haven't had sufficient time to obtain or read the book. So over at the book forum blog, the discussion WILL take place on May 28th. I've posted the questions and my suggestions for participating in the discussion. I can't wait to hear all of your amazing insights and comments!

Have fun! See you over at the other blog!

Mad Skillz

on 06 May 2009

I have some mad skillz, people.

And I thought you'd like to know so that you can adequately protect yourself.

For example:

  • Last weekend I cut my toe open with a butter knife. That takes some skill. Not your average clumsy girl can do THAT.
  • I can simultaneously read/write and edit a paper and SING at the same time. I do it to concentrate. And in case you think that's normal, I can NOT carry on a conversation and read/write and edit at the same time.
  • I tend to chew on the skin around my finger nails when I get nervous. I've chewed them until I bled before without even noticing. My thumb is currently healing from such an onslaught. (I think it's from when we watched Cloverfield...)
  • I clip my cats claws. I don't use a towel, I don't have to have them sedated, I don't use a groomer or a vet. I think declawing cats is cruel. I trim them myself. And if you've ever tried wrestling a reluctant 16 pound ball of nerves with FOUR legs, well then, you can appreciate this skill.
  • I can make biscuits from scratch. I know. Impressive. When Chris commented on it, I said, "Meh. Somethings you're just born with."

So, I'm curious. What are your mad skills? (And lurkers? I check my stats, I know you're out there, now would be the time to declare yourself. We're all neurotic here...you're among friends.)


on 05 May 2009

Ahoy Maties

A while back I reviewed Broken for You and it was suggested that we try and do an online discussion of the aforementioned novel. It's happening! This Thursday! Go forth and conquer!

Athens Flashback

on 04 May 2009

Imagine Christmas 2005.

Knowing my irrational affection for A Christmas Carol, Chris notices that a graduate student will be performing it as part of his MFA thesis performance. There will be digital projections for the ghosts at different points, and wouldn't that be cool? Also, one of my students was playing Bob Cratchitt, and he was a really cool kid. So I clapped my hands like a delighted child and we bought tickets.

We arrive ridiculously early, for I am a dork and I like to be early for stage performances because the people watching is almost as rewarding as a really good play. We take our seats, down in front because, again, the prospect of seeing one of my all time favorites dramatized made me quite excited.

While we were sitting and people watching, who should happen to come in but the professor of my Shakespeare seminar, Dr. Teague! And who is that tall, bearded man with her? Wait! She introduces him, he is her husband Ben. He has that perpetually jolly demeanor that is so bewtiching about Santa Clause. After 10 minutes of conversation with the pair, I turn around absolutely certain of their mutual affection for one another and that their's is a happy marriage--almost certainly with much laughter.

We watch the production. It is...alarming. Some things were done wonderfully...others can only be described as disturbing...but that is the risk you run with stage adaptations of beloved novels. And the production isn't really the point here. The point is this:

Ben Teague was 63 when he was killed at the beloved Town and Gown Theater in Athens. You know that crazy story of the university professor who went nuts and killed his ex-wife and "two others" at the local community playhouse? One of those others was Ben Teague.

I can't stop thinking about Dr. Teague.

I can see her face so clearly in my mind. I can hear her voice. She is a rare woman. She thinks deeply but laughs easily. Her office is filled with books but she is the first to admit her own limitations as a scholar. She can talk about Southpark one minute and Shakespeare the next. She admittedly watches the Simpsons, Southpark and who knows what else on television. She is a gifted scholar but without the taint of gravitas. She still cries at the end of Romeo and Juliet and who even knows how many times she's read it.

I can't stop thinking about her.

I can't stop seeing how she and Ben looked that night three and half years ago...just out for a small time play, but happy to be together. Both of them brimming with joie de vivre. Both of them plain and round, but so happy to be together that you couldn't help but be drawn to the pair of them.

Salman Rushdie wrote that homicide is a violent crime against the one killed, but suicide is a violent crime against those who remain behind. I can't help but think that this homicide was also a violent crime against those left behind.

I can't stop thinking about her.

I've looked her up online. I could sign a remembrance book at the local paper. I could send her an email or a card in the mail. She doesn't hide. I could probably even find her on facebook. But I can't bring myself to actually do those things. What is there to say? How does one find words for such a loss? Is there any conceivable way that those words, any words wouldn't sound trite?

And yet. I can't stop thinking about her.


on 01 May 2009

5 years ago today I was fueled entirely on air and diet coke. Wonder why I remember that? Because 5 years ago today I got married, and I was that freaked out that I was nauseous and using diet coke (of all things!) to settle my already frayed nerves.

I learned to hide well at the University of Washington. I had attended a small community college before heading off to the UW (go HUSKIES!) and I had hated how conspicuous I felt. I loved the UW because I was just one more student among thousands. I wrapped myself in anonymity and wallowed in it. I learned to sneak into classes and sit in the very back. I perfected the art of silence in the classroom, never ever drawing attention to myself--except in my work. I love the campus because there are hundreds of hidden nooks and crannies just perfect for studying. You can lose yourself there. It was my idea of heaven.

And then I flew South for grad school. I fully intended on maintaining my hiding habits at the University of Georgia. Sadly, I showed up and was instant news in the department--a student from SEATTLE of all places. I searched and searched for nooks and crannies, places to lose myself in my work. I never did find anywhere that felt as homey as my nooks and crannies up North.

I spent last weekend moving my documents from our desktop computer on to my laptop. It was a lovely experience, as I found all sorts of things I didn't know that I still had. Among the many little treasures I found all of the emails that Chris had sent to me when we were dating and engaged. I spent a quiet Monday night rereading them and weeping into my nachos.

What struck me about the emails was not the almost appalling honesty, nor how frequently and variously he told me that he loved me. What struck me was how often he would sign off by saying, "I'm coming to find you." or simply "I'll find you..." I hadn't realized that I had been hiding from more than just other students. Looking back, it was a wasted effort anyway, if Chris has a superhuman power it's his ability to find me.

A couple of weekends ago we watched the movie Juno together. We both enjoyed it, though parts of it were painful to watch for a variety of reasons (I am well acquainted with the misery of high school as well as the misery of pregnancy--I can't IMAGINE combining the two). I think one of the best parts is when Juno goes to her father to ask him if love ever works out and this is what he says to her:

Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your a**. That's the kind of person that's worth sticking with.

I've found my guy. And he's found me. And I'm sticking with him. Happy Anniversary, Babe. Thanks for always finding me.