Veronica is getting more conversational.
I was putting her to bed last night, and she wanted me to stay. So with the lights out and the goodnight music playing.
As is usual we talked about her day.
“Who did you play with at school today?”
No answer. She never answers this question.
“Did you play with Haley?’
“Haley’s not here today.”
“Did you play with London?”
“London’s with Mia”
…or something to that effect. We talked some more about the different kids at school. I think my daughter is pretty popular at this point. The other kids seem happy to see her and willing to give her hugs when she leaves.
I try to encourage her to hug someone when she leaves. She is a good hugger.
Then she remembers “Tomorrow is F”
They are supposed to bring a little toy to share, that begins with a letter of the alphabet. Tomorrow was the letter f. We had already decided on a little frog puppet.
“Frog starts with F. What else starts with f?”
This is an old favorite game.
“Yes, fish starts with F.
Then we have to think for a while.
“Friend starts with F. You have lots of friends.”
We were quiet. She snaked her hand out to hold mine. I thread my hand between the bars of her crib. She is too old for a crib, but she loves her crib and it seems a big change that is not necessary yet to change to a bed.
“Fingers!” I saw. “Fingers starts with F. Mommy had fingers. And Veronica has little fingers”
She is happy to think about fingers. I think about fingers.
“What else has fingers?” I ask. “Does Lucy Dog have fingers?’
“No, she has paws.”
“That’s right! she has paws.” Now we can talk about other animals in her repertoire
“Does zebra have fingers?”
“No, she has paws.”
“Oh, no. Zebra does not have paws. Zebras have different kinds of feet. They have hooves.”
I am going to have to find a way to illustrate the concept of hooves. But for now, she is sleepy. And she lets me leave.
For years I took the bus to work. I haven’t for a long time, but last week I had a reason to take the bus in to work. I had a pass, which I tried to redeem.
“We haven’t used those kind of cards in a least three years!” the driver told me. “But maybe if you go to the station you can transfer it to the new kind and keep the money that way.”
See? The bus driver did not know me, but he was helping me out. Even if he hadn’t been friendly-and not all of them are friendly-he was still doing me a favor and taking me where I needed to go.
I sat down and the good feeling of riding a bus washed over me. I had stopped taking the bus when I was pregnant with Veronica. LONG time ago. But all the times I had ridden it, and all the things I had done while riding–I studied for my PM certification on the bus. I met all kinds of fascinating people on the bus. I wrote on the bus. I also slept on the bus.
Oh, the things you can do while going places on a bus.
It is so relaxing and freeing. Everything is okay when I am sitting on the bus. I am in exactly the place that I need to be, doing what needs to be done on the bus. And I am not doing anything!
The bus system has it taken care of. That’s what I felt as I rode last week: the system is taking care of me. It is not a personally interested system. Like the bus driver, it doesn’t know me personally. But it doesn’t matter. I’ll get where I need to go.
I had experienced this soothed feeling of peace in a different circumstance.
Back when Veronica was a newborn, in dark cold winter, I would naturally have to get up in the middle of the night for long stretches of time. I would get Veronica back to sleep as soon as i could and I would crawl back into bed.
Me and my head in bed. I was chilled and would need to get warm enough to sleep, but even more than that, I had to quiet my head. My life was unrecognizable: I had a baby and I had to take care of her and I had to keep myself functioning enough to do it.
I was so tired and so freaked out. I would mentally panic about the fact that I wasn’t falling asleep because I had so little time before I would have to be up again and TIME WAS PRECIOUS AND I WAS WASTING IT BY BEING AWAKE!!!
Under the covers, trying to get warm, trying to get calm, and then the heater would kick in.
The blessed heater.
Our old house had a heater with a fan that was rather noisy. And because it was in the roof, it resonated in the bones of the house with a medium hum
I know this. I know it so well. The thermostat would do a little kick to some metal, and then a little fan would start and then the heater would make the whole house hum. And when the house would hum, I could fall asleep.
Somehow, with the heat running and the house humming, I could trust that everything would be okay. I would be warm and I would be safe. I got to where I would LONG for the heater to kick and let me sleep.
It soothed me and relaxed me. It was a machine, it didn’t care about me, but it was taking care of me. The system was on my side, and it didn’t matter that it wasn’t personal.
It has been a long time since I rode the bus. I’d love to find a way to do it regularly again. So much has happened since I used to. I have had a lot of reasons to doubt the system. Different systems betrayed me and did not get me where I wanted to go.
But there are systems that are helpful. My mother would call it God’s grace, and that’s a good word for it. I have other friends who can’t deal with the word “god” and would call it the Universe is working for us.
There are a lot of systems in place. And truly , most of them are beneficial and don’t require freaking out and striving.
This is a sweet little unassuming work, It would be a perfect vacation read for someone that doesn’t want to be upset.
A few strings are left dangling in the story, but it’s not really about tying up all the loose ends. It’s about a family, and their stories.
I liked it. I would give it to my mother if she had nothing else to read
This is an ongoing debate on the internet. Do you consume or produce?
Back in the day it was harder to produce content. But there are so many tools to do so now
and tons more
that creating content is not hard at all. Then the question is whether the content is quality content.
But. The people who just read or look at or listen to what other people have created, and don’t really contribute much of their own.
fast rewind to my first alone apartment. I was living in Mountain View and dating Chris. He had a big nice apartment with an always absent roommate. We spent most of our time at his place. Until I pulled a girlfriend move and said “Why don’t you ever come to my place?”
“You dont’ have anything to do there!”
“What are you talking about? I have a ton of things to do when I am at home. I play the piano, and I read…” Hmm…He had a point. These were things that a person does alone.
I didnt have things that included other people. Playing the piano is only fun for the listener for a brief time. And reading is a purely solitary activity.
Thing is I never feel alone when I am reading.
But with the scaling of literary Mt. Everest in the form of Ulysses, I feel as though I have no more mountains to climb. Naturally this makes me question everything.
What am I doing with all this reading, anyway? What is the point?
I would like to find a fellow enthusiast. I will do my best to find someone with whom I can discuss this love of mine.
But here’s another thing. Maybe if I have done the homework of reading all these books, I should share what I know. Maybe I need to write some essays. Maybe I need to create some lecture on these things I know.
Because…Now I know. What am I going to do about it? I can’t read all those gorgeous books again for the first time.
these are the ones I have not read
Aeschylus. The Oresteia
Allende, Isabelle. The House of the Spirits
Anaya, Rudolfo. Bless Me, Ultima
Atwood, Margaret. Surfacing
Barrio, Raymond. The Plum Plum Pickers
Barth, John. The Sot Weed Factor
Baudelaire, Charles. Flowers of Evil
Bellow, Saul. The Adventures of Augie March
Boswell, James. Life of Johnson
Bradbury, Ray. Dandelion Wine
Brooks, Gwendolyn. Blacks
Bulgakov, Mikhail. The Master and Margarita
Duras, Marguerite. The Lover
Erdrich, Louise. The Beet Queen
Euripides. The Bacchae, Hippolytus
Fielding, Henry. Joseph Andrews, Tom Jones
Fuentes, Carlos. The Death of Artemio Cruz, Where the Air is Clear
Garland, Hamlin. Main Travelled Roads
Hardy, Thomas. Return of the Native,
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Blithedale Romance
Homer. The Iliad,
Howells, William Dean. A Hazard of New Fortunes
James, Henry. Turn of the Screw, Ambassadors,
Johnson, Charles. The Oxherding Tale
Joyce, James. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Dubliners
Kafka, Franz. The Trial
Kennedy, William. Ironweed
Kinnell, Galway. The Past
Lewis, C. S. The Allegory of Love, Experiment in Criticism
London, Jack. The Sea Wolf
Lorde, Audre. The Black Unicorn
Lowell, Robert. Life Studies
Machiavelli, The Prince
Mahfouz, Naguib. Midaq Alley
Mailer, Norman. The Naked and the Dead
Mann, Thomas. , The Magic Mountain
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. Chronicle of a Death Foretold
McCullers, Carson. Short Stories
Melville, Herman. Typee
Jean de Meun. The Romance of the Rose
Middleton, Thomas. The Changeling
Milton, John. Paradise Lost
Momeday, N. Scott. The Way to Rainy Mountain
Pynchon, Thomas. The Crying of Lot 49
Plato, The Republic
Rich, Adrienne. Selected Poems
Richardson, Samuel. Pamela or Clarissa
Roethke, Theodore. Words for the Wind
Rushdie, Salman. Midnight’s Children, The Satanic Verses
Saroyan, William. The Human Comedy
Scott, Walter. Waverley
Silone, Ignazio. Bread and Wine
Spenser, Edmund. The Faerie Queen
Stegner, Wallace. Angle of Repose
Stendhal (Henri Beyle). The Red and the Black
Sterne, Laurence. Tristram Shandy
Stevens, Wallace. The Palm at the End of the Mind
Styron, William. Lie Down in Darkness
Thackeray, William Makepace. Vanity Fair
Trollope, Anthony. The Way We Live Now
Virgil. The Aeneid
Wallant, Edward Lewis. The Pawnbroker
West, Nathaniel. The Day of the Locust
Wolfe, Thomas. Look Homeward Angel
Wolfe, Tom. Bonfire of the Vanities
Wright, A. T. Islandia
Wright, Richard. Black Boy, Native Son
Yourcenar, Marguerite. Memoirs of Hadrian
Also, Genesis, Psalms, Job, Ecclesiastes, The Bhagavad Gita, Qu’ran, Song of Roland, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
So, I am wondering what to do next. I’ve read Ulysses, and that was the last mountain of a book I felt I had to climb. There is nothing I can’t read and therefore nothing left to challenge me.
Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to take on Gaiman after Joyce. THe difference is too stark.
Here’s the thing. If I read now, just for escapist pleasure, and I admit it is pure escapism, then I should try to get a new hobby. It seems that reading is not leading to anything.
I should learn to do something else. Maybe knit.
You can’t take the cake out of the oven until it’s done cooking. Otherwise it’s a mess.
Maybe we are all ready for the new phase of family trips. Chris was sick, and CRABBY as we made our way to my last-minute-itinerary-addition trip to a friend’s house last night.
But it worked. I am pretty sure that I am the one who slept worst today, but even so I am cheerful and ready to enjoy the holiday.
This is good. Dare I say it’s a new era?
we shall see.
It was the village venture a few weekends ago, part of the wonderfulness of living in my town. But things weren’t going the way I hoped. I stayed up too late the night before, and then we weren’t quite as prepared as I would have liked when we left the house.
We were walking, because parking is a nightmare. I was achey and still tired and still sick and it was wrapped around me like a heavy coat. It’s a bell jar of exhaustion that is so familiar to my life as a mom.
But the day was pretty and I thought, hey I can just look at the gorgeous sky and trees and this festival and not pay attention to all the things that are bothering me.
It was! it was a beautiful day. And their were balloons, which Veronica coveted. And the Claremont Youth Orchestra was playing, and my daughter danced so joyfully to classical music holding her balloon. Even the conductor smiled at her.
Then we went to go browse the arts and crafts, and we got separated. Somehow, we got completely separated and I looked for him up and down the very crowded streets. I couldn’t find the others and I was all alone.
I had to walk home. That was the only place I knew we could meet. And there was me again, the heaviness. I am so TIRED and why did we get SEPARATED and I have to walk ALL THIS WAY.
And there was still the dancing that had happened. And there was still a balloon. It wasn’t perfect. But it was a tradition we’d had for years – more than ten years! – to go to this craft fair. It was still pretty good.
Things came back together. It involved more walking than I wanted, but with this and that we all got together again.
After Veronica got into her bed for nap and I was sitting and resting, Chris said “It would have been good if it were just a few degrees cooler.”
I smiled “Nothing’s perfect. It was great the way it was.”
Reaching for perfect can be more uncomfortable than enjoying the good. And with family, really, I recommend it.
Veronica was sick on Friday night. Chris is sick..VERY sick..today..shuddery cold and hot.
When he is sick, he somehow feels like helping me. it’s not that he doesn’t halp me when he is well, but there is somehting different about it when he is sick.
Maybe he is sick and watching me run around doing the perpetual motion dance that is life as a working mom, he thinks he should help. He is normally partially occupied with reading the paper to me or something else.
When he is sick he doesn’t have the focus to watch the lakers or read the National Review.
So he limps over to me in a sad pathetic voice and says “I’m sorry, baby”
THe first time I feel sorry back. but the 5th time I want to kill him.
FINE! BE SICK! but don’t interrupt me with apologies that you can’t help me. I know you can’t help me I am not mad about it. But to make me stop to listen to your apology is…well…not conducive. TO anybody.
Maybe this is more like when Veronica drags her rocking horse over to me and says “Horsey wanted to see you.”
It’s nothing to do with horsey. It’s more to do with wanting attention.
Maybe i should let go of Martha and go sit next to the sicky.
Could be worse.