Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Out With A Fizzle?

Well. I seem to have blown it in December.

It's not my fault, really. Not when you consider the major ice storm. The abbreviated holiday season, courtesy of the major ice storm. And oh yeah, there was Christmas. Well there you go, folks: a month's worth of posts summed up in four sentences. Enjoy!

Actually, I tried to encapsulate the experience of the past few weeks in my new "Tween Us Girls" column, possibly in a more articulate and lengthy manner than that. I'd say "hopefully in a more articulate manner", but I'd probably be using the word "hopefully" in an incorrect way and Flurrious would have to virtually kick my ass. So anyway, please. Give it a read. I'm asking nicely, but next year I'm moving on to empty threats.

Let me just lay out the next few days of my itinerary before I go. Tonight we are having a little New Year's Eve gathering at our house. Admittedly, I haven't done a lot of hosting since the Big D - mostly because I typically ended up being the only one uncoupled in a sea of couples, and it felt kind of ooky. I found it much easier to be a guest. Tonight I am coupled and hosting, ringing out my personal era of ookiness. Tomorrow I will be recovering from re-entry.

Friday is Third Grader's birthday, and to celebrate we are doing absolutely nothing. Actually, we are baking and decorating three dozen cupcakes for the Team Gymnastics Sleepover that night at the gym. Then I am dropping them off - Tornadoes and cupcakes - and going home to rest up for Saturday: Third Grader's birthday party. So I will probably have some things to write about. Hopefully. Can "hopefully" be its own sentence? I wonder.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Well THAT Sucked

Thank you all for stepping up the comments last week. And no, I have not been off pouting in the corner about the chirping-cricket-like silence of my blog on any given day. Clearly I need to spend more time networking in the virtual world, or else become a whole lot more amusing...I'll give myself the benefit of the doubt and say the problem clearly begs the first solution. I mean, come on. More amusing? You people are damn demanding!

Anyway. So where have I been then for a week, you ask? Why, I've been all kinds of places. Where I haven't been is at home, due to the fact that Mother Nature decided to teach all of us smug New Englanders, who think they have seen it all when it comes to brutal weather, a little lesson. She dumped about twenty billion gallons of water on us Thursday night and then froze it solid - effectively shutting down all electricity in the region for days on end.

I awoke Friday morning to a dark sixty-degree house. The tornadoes and I tried to make the best of it on Friday, optimistically spending the day playing board games in front of a roaring fire. As I had already chosen to run our food supply into the ground earlier in the week and held an envelope full of coupons and a lengthy grocery list in my purse, we had to sustain ourselves on whatever nonperishables were still kicking around the pantry. Our optimism began to wear off as afternoon approached: still dark, still cold, and some very unreassuring news coming over the battery-powered radio about this situation going on for days, possibly much longer.

"Unprecedented" has become my least favorite word. There has been far too much use of the word "unprecedented" in my life in the past few months, and I can't think of one occasion where it has meant anything fun. In this case, the power stayed off for six days. Other than Friday night, which we spent huddled up in a nest of blankets in front of the ever-burning fire (there goes all my nicely stacked firewood), we abandoned ship. Mom's house, hotels, anywhere that had power. We came back to the house every day to rub some warmth into Problem Child, unpack and repack. My street vibrated from the hum of generators running at my neighbors' houses. We apparently were the only generator-less house on the street. I listened to the radio DJs urge listeners to remember to check on their neighbors and I laughed. Ha! Check on the single mother with two kids? Nonsense! (I did, in fact, call my across-the-street neighbor on Friday night to offer help as we saw her moving between her running car and her dark house, likely gathering supplies to stay elsewhere for the night. Hypocrite I am not.)

We have intermittently attended school and work over the past few days, and since the power came back yesterday we are trying to resume our regularly scheduled lives. However, my house is disgusting. Not a single present is wrapped yet. And I spent a fortune on groceries last night, only to hear that we are expecting two major storms in the next few days.

On that note, I am going now. Possibly to drink heavily.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Yes I Can!...Well Maybe Not...

There's a tradition in the Third Grade at the Tornadoes' school. It is the tradition of the Gingerbread Village.

The Gingerbread Village is a confectionary scale model of our beloved town center. You know, the town center - the site of Old Home Day, the place for trick-or-treating. Every year around this time, the Third Graders head down to the town center to select and sketch their individual buildings. They are then tasked with constructing their assigned building out of cardboard, within certain parameters of height and such. Then they bring them all in and spend an entire school day covering them them with graham crackers and candy.

Third Grader selected the Barn of Blood.

I'm tired of all this hyperlinking, so just go on back to October's posts if you want to know more about the Barn of Blood. Suffice it here to say that it is old and large and involves both a house and a barn. I am entirely sure that Third Grader picked it because it is both enormous and, at least here, famous. Fortunately, her teacher had the good sense to divide the barn and the house between two children, so Third Grader ended up with just the house.

What I'm saying is that we are supposed to build this damn thing out of cardboard before Monday. MONDAY. Sure thing. Right after I finish working all day and carting them around every which way all night, I'll get right on that.

I'm not very...buildy, you know? At the sight of that little girl's sketch, I kind of panicked. I knew this was coming and have been squirreling away cardboard for a few weeks, but the thought of actually building it completely freaks me out. When Fifth Grader was Third Grader, I made her father help her. Of course, he was not living a thousand miles away then, so it was easier to make such demands. So, after pondering the matter for several hours, I did something I never, ever do. I played the Girl card.

I'm not very experienced with playing the Girl card. Alas, Boyfriend did not require much display of feigned (...okay, real) helplessness before he stepped up and offered to take over the whole project. All I had left to do was clear the plan with Third Grader...who leapt at the suggestion. Leapt.

She is currently not my favorite.

So after I picked my ego up off the floor, I asked the elated child, "You do know that girls are perfectly capable of building things, right? I just thought you might be happier with your house if he helped you. I can do it, you's just not my best skill, building things..." at which point, having got my drift, Third Grader piped up to reassure me.

"It's okay, Mom. People are good at different things. Like you're good at making coffee!"

Making coffee. This is what she came up with. Thankfully, Fifth Grader then jumped in and rattled off a dozen things that I am "good at." She is currently my favorite.

Noticeably missing from the list of things I am "good at" was my ability to attract comments here. My ego has been bruised, people. By a third grade girl. Do you grasp the fragility?

If anyone needs any coffee while they think of something to say, just let me know.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Today I Heard The Same Song Seventy Times In a Row

We have now passed the halfway point of this ordeal - er, festival of fun - known as Snowflake Invitational and I, for one, am ready to get on with my life.

I can't bear to talk about this meet in any coherent detail right now as we still have one day to go. Fifth Grader competed tonight and Third Grader reports at 8 a.m. tomorrow for her session. Somehow I ended up saying yes to Fifth Grader's request to have one of her teammates sleep over tonight - must have been some kind of crazy in those crockpot meatballs I was eating - so my house is currently very noisy and I am currently very tired and this is not a good mix. So there you have it.

On a positive note, I am comforted to see that my across-the-street neighbors got their act together today and put up their Christmas lights. Most comforting is the presence of the eight-foot inflatable Santa Claus in the yard. You think I'm kidding about finding that comforting, right? Well I'm completely serious, and here's why: the eight-foot Santa over there balances out the eight-foot Frosty over here. That's right. My mother gave me a gigantic inflatable snowman and I actually put it up. Actually, Boyfriend put it up (And I didn't even run outside and wrestle the ropes and extension cords out of his hands in a fit of self-sufficient mania. I stayed inside and out of the way. And that, my friends, is what we call Personal Growth.).

History would tell you that I am not the kind of gal who mounts giant inflatable beings on her property in a show of holiday spirit. History would tell you that I am of the "understated" denomination. I just figured that since I have been looking at that giant Santa over there for three Christmas seasons, Frosty would probably just blend in. Hence, still understated, sort of. Except Frosty went up last weekend and Santa did not. So I have gone a whole week feeling kind of ridiculous, waiting for them to put him up. And there he is. Life is good.

I have to go lay down the law for Fifth Grader and her guest now so I can get some sleep. The fun continues tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Karma Lives Here

I thought I would take advantage of this moment of tranquility in my own life to say a few words about my neighbor.

He's moving, you know. Tra la la.

Other than that one time, I have refrained from discussing my neighbor. Even now, I hesitate. Why? Because although I have certainly never told anyone on my street about this blog, you just never know. And honestly, I don't want any trouble. I live here. I plan to continue living here, and I would like to do so without vandalism. That's reasonable, isn't it?

So I will stick to telling you the things that anyone with two eyes could see this neighbor doing. Like, yes, how about setting off fireworks in the middle of December on a Sunday night? Maybe it's a silly thing to be bothered by. After all, our houses are separated by a good 1/2 acre swath of trees, so it's not as though they were right outside my front door. It's just the principle of the thing.

And how about driving his snowmobile across the top of my front lawn, leaving a streak of tracks in every fresh, untouched blanket of snow that falls?

How about staying up partying outside all night, howling like a wolf and blaring your music so loud that I can still hear it even through the 1/2 acre swath of trees?

How about never, ever waving back when we pass each other in our cars?

Here's the thing. Everyone moved here at about the same time. When we first moved here, I was married. For six months, we were one big street of best friends. We all hung out together, spent every weekend together, one big happy crowd. Then I kicked my husband out. Suddenly, I was not fun. Plus, since I was the one doing the kicking out, I was highly suspect.

I had to remind myself that these people had only known me six months and therefore had absolutely no idea of the reality of my life. I especially had to remind myself of this when I learned that they were taking odds on how long it would be until I had to sell my house and move. Because clearly I would never make it on my own. I stopped getting invited to most gatherings - although I could still hear them going on - and I struggled for ways to answer the Tornadoes' questions: "Why aren't we going to so-and-so's house? Why can't we swim in their pool?" It sucked. It sucked for a long, long time.

And here I still am, four years later. Reassembled and doing okay. I have no idea if everyone around here still gets together every spare second, because my own life is pretty darn full. Most of my neighbors are downright friendly again. But more importantly, I have made new friends with whom I can actually be myself. That self is in much better condition than it was a few years ago. Some days it isn't in such great condition, but they are still my friends. Thank you, M, C and D, for that. And while I don't know the reasons behind the "For Sale" sign next door, I can't help but feel a little bit like a Survivor contestant. A nice, non-backstabbing one.

Who waves.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Oh, Hey There...

You know, it really bums me out when everything goes right. I mean, what am I supposed to write about?

Sure, I could tell you all about how spectacularly my long Thanksgiving weekend went. I could tell you about how my absolutely perfect Christmas tree - you know, this one - is already up and decorated. And how our brand new little outdoor snowmen - replacements for these guys, who didn't survive the ten feet of snow that kept them buried until March - are up and twinkling for all passersby to enjoy. I could even tell you about the fantastic early Christmas present I received: The "For Sale" sign put up last week by this neighbor. I could tell you about all those things, and I know just what you would say.


I mean, seriously. Why would you want to hear about all that? Where's the drama? Where's the conflict? Where's the emotional investment?

I'm sorry. These things don't usually happen to me. Certainly they don't happen all in a row.

If it's any consolation, my new snowmen did get beheaded last night by a fierce and sudden wind...fortunately, their heads couldn't travel too far, what with all the wires from the twinkly lights. Fifth Grader and I reattached them this morning, sooo...not really the satisfying ending you were hoping for...

With any luck, we'll brew up some trouble this week - something really tasty, maybe a holiday mutiny. And we do have the 3-day long Snowflake Invitational to look forward to next weekend. So there's that.

I will leave you today with a quote from Third Grader. As barked at her big sister in the back seat of my car in a fit of fed-up sibling rivalry:

"You know, the university does not revolve around YOU!"

That is all.