Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Good Try, Kid

Tonight I'm babysitting my friend's almost-four-year-old son. I think he's pretty precocious for being only three. It's not surprising because his mother is bright (unfortunately his father is the world's biggest ass, but that's another story), but it's still funny to watch him approach other children at the playground and say things like "Nice bike you have there!" like a tiny middle aged man.
He was pretty easy to sit for today, since mostly I just had to sit on the couch while he showed me all his "cool stuff." Bedtime, though, was a hassle. I was expecting it because this kid really has no schedule--which would drive me MAD as a parent, but to each her own--but I was still amused by his tactics to delay bed. The following were things he told me during the twenty minute pajama, tooth brushing, story time routine:
"My legs hurt from the scooter."
"I want a Coke."
"I need my Batman."
"I need my camera."
"I'll wait for Mommy to tell me what to do."
"I need a light on in the closet."
"I need to watch some TV because I have a headache."
To each of those my response was either "Going to sleep will help with that," or "No, sorry." I'm totally the mean baby sitter, but I'm okay with that. The kid would seriously be up all night otherwise. Truth be told, I put him to bed an hour ago and I know he's not actually asleep yet. I keep hearing him get up to walk around the bedroom. So far whatever he is doing is quiet, though, so I figure unless it sounds like he's doing something dangerous it's best not to show my face in there and start the litanny of wants and needs rolling again.
Although I did just hear something that sounds suspiciously like coins being emptied out of a piggy bank...maybe it's time to intervene after all.

Monday, June 21, 2010

200 Days and Counting

I was walking to Target this afternoon and I saw a deer. It was crazy; I was just walking up the street and out of nowhere a deer came leaping across the road directly in front of me! She crossed into the woods in the vacant lot beside me, and I had time to take a quick picture with my phone before she disappeared. It was a bizarre sighting for so many reasons. First of all, the deer had just crossed a four lane street that is the main artery through my neighborhood, causing several cars to slam on their breaks. Second of all, I don't understand where the deer came from. There is a series of narrow forested vacant lots that run along the train tracks, but I was a block past the train tracks at that point. So, presumably that's where the deer had come from, but in order to cross the street where she did she must have walked up the sidewalk for a block or through the parking lots of several tire and auto body shops. And it was odd because it was noon, and I was under the impression that deer are generally active at twilight and early in the morning. Obviously, something is wrong with this deer. At the very least she's completely lost because she's a mile from the big park (and even the big park doesn't necessarily seem big enough to be home to herds of wild, roaming deer). Poor thing. I hope she at least makes it back to the park somehow. I don't know what's up with all the wildlife sightings lately. I've seen a fox, that snake I wrote about, and a deer, all in the past month or so. And it's not like I live in the country, or even on the edge of the suburbs. I live right smackdab in the middle of a sprawling city.

Changing the subject completely, I had my first wedding-related dream the other night. I was "reading" a bridal magazine last week ["looking at the pictures and ads" is more like it since there's not exactly much in the way of written content in these magazines, but I got a free subscription when I got engaged so I page through the issue every month] and one of the articles was something ridiculous about Decoding Your Wedding Dreams and it was all about how you shouldn't panic if you dream that you're marrying someone other than your fiance or if you have a nightmare about terrible things happening at the wedding because it's not a bad omen, it's just your brain working everything out because even though weddings are happy the planning process is still stressful. Well, yeah, obviously. Thank you for stating the obvious, article. At the time I was like, "Hmmm, I've been engaged for seven months and haven't had a single wedding dream yet." But then--maybe because the article put the idea in my brain--I had a wedding/honeymoon dream a few days later. In the dream I was in a hotel room and Kiki was supposed to be doing my hair and makeup, but instead she was doing her own hair and makeup. The deal was that I was supposed to wait until she was ready and then she would help me get ready, but the clock was ticking and we were running out of time. I was standing at the mirror trying to curl my own hair and getting really stressed out because it wasn't working and finally I was like, "Kiki, I am supposed to be walking down the aisle in forty minutes and you haven't even started to help me!" and she was like, "Just relax, I'll get to you," but I was panicking because I knew I wouldn't be ready to get to the church in time. Then suddenly the dream shifted and Penn and I were on our flight to our honeymoon but we only made it as far as Los Angeles, and through the whole flight the giant Boeing 777 was flying really low and zooming between skyscrapers and it almost crashed about a dozen times. The low-flying/almost-crashing plane dream is nothing new since I have a version of that dream at least a few times a year, but the wedding was a new theme. I have, in fact, asked Kiki if she will do my hair and makeup for the wedding since she's great at that sort of thing (and is in fact doing it professionally now; she did a producer's hair and makeup for the Tony Awards the other night!) but I feel pretty confident that she's not going to make me wait until half an hour before the wedding to get my hair fixed.
Now I'm curious to see what other sort of crazy wedding-related dreams my mind comes up with between now and January, because I'm sure that won't be the last one.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

And I'm Supposed to be an Adult...

Do you want to hear a story about a really, really stupid thing I did over the weekend?

Sure you do.

Friday night Penn and I went out with some friends who live in the city. It was a fun evening, full of entertaining conversation and dinner at a "gastropub" (which apparently just means "English pub that chooses to serve teeny tiny plates of food for way too much money"--seriously, the food is really good but the plates are tiny and I don't think the term "gastropub" should excuse that kind of behavior) and then a couple more drinks at a dive bar. We headed home around 11. Our walk home from the subway station is downhill past a grocery store, and on Friday night there happened to be a Harris Teeter shopping cart perched conveniently at the top of the big hill. So Penn grabbed the cart and said, "Do you want to ride in a shopping cart?!" For whatever reason, this seemed like a brilliant idea, and I said "Yes!" and hopped in. I attribute at least a little of my decision-making to the fact that I'd had a few Strongbows, but, truth be told, I have let Penn push me in a grocery cart before stone cold sober (not that pushing each other around in shopping carts is, like, a regular pastime of ours, it's just that it had happened once...maybe twice...before).
So, anyway, I hopped into the grocery cart, which was one of those tall, skinny two-level ones. I threw my bag into the bottom of the cart and Penn started pushing me downhill. And of course you have already guessed exactly where this is going. Penn was pushing me, I was shrieking, but I wasn't actually scared because he seemed to have the whole thing well under control. But then we got to the bottom of the hill and we were beginning to come to a stop when suddenly I thought to myself "Whoa, looking up at the sky!...Still looking up at the sky!!!...Oh, and we're on the ground." I actually said that last part, the "We're on the ground" part out loud in surprise. It all seemed to happen in slow motion, so I sort of couldn't believe it had happened at all. One minute I was rolling down the hill, the next minute I was flat on my back with my head craned backwards to see Penn, who was lying on the floor behind me. The post-accident adrenaline kicked in and I jumped to my feet immediately, as did Penn. I said, "I'm okay, I'm okay!" to Penn and two old ladies who were staring aghast from the Harris Teeter parking lot. But then I immediately burst into (quiet) tears so, no, not entirely okay. [Incidentally, isn't that weird how adrenaline works? Every time I've ever been in an accident I've always gotten up and walked away saying, "It's okay, it's okay," even when it's instantly clear that, no, it's not okay. I've leaped up and walked away from sprained ankles and a knocked out tooth and near-concussions and having the wind knocked out of me. How bad does an injury has to be before it's impossible to actually hop back up? I sort of feel like my leg could be ripped off from the hip and before my mind completely registered what had happened I'd still be attempting to stand up and announce "I'm okay!"]
Anyway, apparently what happened was that Penn tried to slow down the shopping cart but in doing so he leaned his body weight on it too much and the whole thing tipped over backwards. I felt bad for him because he clearly felt terrible for accidentally tipping me over. As I pointed out to him, though, he didn't force me to ride in the grocery cart. He didn't even have to talk me into it, he just suggested it and I said "Sure!" So it's definitely my own damn fault for being such an idiot. So now I have a big bruise on the back of my knee from where it was resting over the side of the cart, an inexplicable bruise on my left hip (I have no idea how it happened, but it definitely came from the fall), and a scrape on my left elbow. The worst is my back, though. I have a fist-sized scrape on my shoulder blade from where my skin scraped along the asphalt, and my lower back has long purple bruise from one side to the other that is the exact length and width of the shopping cart handle, which I fell on directly. I'm trying not to be a baby about it, but I'm pretty achy. Penn is taking good care of me, though, since his only injury is a (deep) scrape on his thumb from where the cart fell on it as he tried to catch it.
We definitely got a good laugh out of the situation, though. And I'm sure the old ladies who were at Harris Teeter in the middle of the night have enjoyed telling the story all weekend, too. It's definitely one of those life moments when you look back and say to each other, "Why on earth did we even for an instant think that was going to be a good idea?"
I definitely don't feel like a mature, reasonable adult right now. Then again, Penn argues that it's a good thing that we're still in touch with our inner stupid teenagers, and maybe he's right! Still, I think I'll just walk home from the subway from now on. No more shopping cart rides for me.
Also, where do you think this goes on the hierarchy of Stupid Ways in Which I Have Injured Myself? I think it goes above "Whacking Myself in the Face With a Raquetball Racket While Fooling Around Instead of Actually Playing Racketball" but I'm not sure if it beats "Dangling Off a Balcony in a Parking Garage in an Attempt to Land on a Flight of Stairs One Floor Below but Landing Wrong in my Heels and Tumbling Down Half a Flight of Stairs."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Without the A

Yesterday morning my workout was interrupted by the president of the United States. Really. It was a beautiful, sunny, 70 degree day so I was going to do one of my usual bike routes through the big park a mile from my condo. I set off and biked the mile downhill to the park, but when I got to the bottom of the hill I saw two police cars partially blocking the road adjacent to the park, and when I attempted to turn onto the bike path I saw another cop car fifty yards down the path blocking it entirely. One of the policemen was standing outside of his car and he said, "You're not allowed to go down that path, ma'am." I said, "Oh, okay, what's going on?" and the cop leaned toward me and whispered conspiratorially, "The president is about to pass by. He was supposed to be here already, but he's running late." I told the cop thanks for the info and turned around to start biking back up the hill, but then I couldn't resist stopping halfway up the hill to watch the corner and wait until the motorcade went by. It's not every day you see the presidential motorcade! (Although, actually, this is the second time this year that one of my bike excursions has been rerouted by the president's motorcade. Come on, Mr. President! Let a girl get her exercise!) I don't know if I'll ever get used to the fact that I live in a place where it's possible to cross paths with the president with no warning while I'm just going about my daily routine. After three years some of the novelty of living here has worn off, but much of the time it's still really exciting to me.

To change the subject entirely, I started reading A Farewell to Arms a couple of days ago. We have 200 some-odd books in this apartment that I've never read because they were Penn's collection before he moved in with me. (He had about 300 books when we moved in together and I'd read about 100 of them.) I've decided that I really need to start reading the books we already own before going out to buy more books, and I'm even trying to cut back on going to the public library so often in favor of reading things I can find in my own bedroom. During the early years of grad school I didn't have much time to read for pleasure because I had so much course reading to do all the time. Now I still don't have too much free time, but I have more time than I used to and I'm making a concentrated effort to devote my pleasure-reading time to actual books rather than solely to blogs, which was the habit I had gotten into (not that there aren't well-written blogs, but obviously novels generally provide a richer experience). So, anyway, I'm working my way through some of the books we own and since I somehow got through an entire 22-year education without reading any of Hemingway's major works I decided to give A Farewell to Arms a shot. Turns out I am a Hemingway fan despite the blatant misogyny (I'm learning that with Hemingway you either love him or you hate him, there doesn't seem to be much in between), but the main reason I even started this paragraph was to say this: I am appalled at how very little I know about World War I. I read the first couple of chapters of the book and was like, "Wait, the US was allied with the Italians in World War I?" and then I realized that the character was just an American fighting in the Italian army but I still wanted to know who was fighting whom and I realized that all I really know about World War I are little tidbits: 1914-1918, ended November 11th, Wilson was president, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the catylyst, U-boats, tear gas...some Googling jogged a few more memories and I suddenly recalled Coach Sanchez explaining the Triple Entente and ordering the guys in my junior year history class to act like adults for two minutes and stop giggling about the Brest-Litovsk treaty, but mostly I still know very, very little. And I think most of what I do know I learned from Legends of the Fall and The Little Princess.
So my glimmers of memory assure me that I did, in fact, study World War I at some point in high school. And my Googling assures me that it actually was a pretty damn complicated, multi-faceted war (as many wars are, I suppose), so maybe I can be somewhat excused for not knowing every detail, but I still can't believe how ignorant I am about this historical topic. I can't help but think that if I know this little about World War I that the average American must know just about nothing. Because as much as I like to think that I'm average, I guess I have to leave that title behind now that I'm a year or so away from (hopefully) having a PhD. Even though I don't feel like it most days I am, in fact, extremely educated. I'm about as educated as a person can be, in the formal sense of the word. And before my Google spree this morning I would have been incapable of definitively answering any questions about who fought whom during World War I. I had a vague idea (it's not like I would have been all, "Um, China?") but I didn't know the details. And I don't know if that's because the education system is failing all of us, or because there's just way too much to know about the world.