File Under: That Explains a Lot

My children, both of them, are seemingly incapable of turning over in bed without bonking their heads against the headboard or the wall. Several times a night I hear the rustle-rustle of a child shifting position, and then a big CLONK. I always tense up, waiting for the wail, but they never wake up or cry. I do supply them with pillows, and their beds are sufficiently roomy, so I'm not sure what's with all the skull-bashing. I suppose it does prove that I have extremely hard-headed daughters; something that I've already figured out the hard way anyway.



So we moved to the new office building last Friday. The new office is very nice; the floors are shiny, the walls are not marked up, everything has that new-car smell (which probably means I’m inhaling all sorts of off-gassed chemicals, yay!). It took me seven fewer minutes to drive to this office this morning, hooray!

It’s embarrassing to admit, but I was actually feeling a bit sad about leaving the old building. Not devastatingly sad, of course; I just felt a little twinge. I’ve worked in that building for twelve years, after all, so I’ve probably spent more time there than in any other building in my lifetime. Okay, now I am devastatingly sad. Twelve years. At a job that I never particularly wanted in the first place. And that I cannot – despite my desires to do something else, anything else – justify leaving. I’ve applied for two different jobs in the past 18 months, both of which I was eminently qualified for. Both places loved me! Loved my resume! And told me they couldn’t afford me. That’s the downside of seniority, obviously; and it’s scary to realize that I earn what I do not necessarily because my work is worth that much, but because I’ve just been here forever. And it’s that, combined with my five weeks of vacation and my vested pension and the prospect of guaranteed healthcare for life if I work here for only eight more years, that keeps me from trying very hard to leave.


Anyway. To add to my feelings of nostalgia on Friday afternoon, Chris called with the sad news that our favorite restaurant had closed down. We’ve been going to the Armadillo Grill for tacos since we started dating, way back in 1995. First we frequented the ‘Dillo in Chapel Hill; then we moved to Durham and found a ‘Dillo on the Duke campus. Then we moved to Wake Forest and had to travel a bit, to downtown Raleigh, for our ‘Dillo fix, until the joyous day that a ‘Dillo opened up about five minutes from our house. (And honestly, we never really called it the ‘Dillo. Because that would be ‘annoying.) But our local one closed down; obviously people in Wake Forest don’t appreciate the wonder of the chicken taco, or the Texas-sized chips and queso. After lamenting for a few minutes, Chris said, “You know, sometimes the food wasn’t all that great,” and I agreed, but that’s not the point, is it? The point is, it was a constant, a Friday-night staple, and now it’s over, because with the price of gas, there’s no way we’re going to drive out to Raleigh for take-out Tex-Mex.


Ungraceful segue into this story: Mallory has a boyfriend named Joey, about whom she talks constantly. I don’t know if Joey knows he is her boyfriend or not, or the extent of her involvement with him, and I don’t really care to know, and in fact, you can frequently hear Chris or I saying, “Mallory, that’s enough talking about your boyfriend.” Friday night she said, “Mommy, I’m kind of sad because my boyfriend went on a trip this weekend and I miss him.” I said, “Hmm.” She said, “He’s going fishing on a boat.” I said, “Hmm.” She said, “But I guess I’ll see him in school next week.” I didn’t reply. Then she added, “Unless he falls off the boat!”

Wouldn’t wish for poor Joey to fall off the boat, of course. Would like for the boyfriend talk to come to an end, somehow, someday soon.


I'd rather see one, than eat one

This was in our CSA box this week:

I have mixed feelings about the CSA experience. For ten bucks a week, we get a box of fresh, organic fruits and veggies, grown on a farm just down the road from us. I love that we're supporting a local farmer. I love that the produce is grown without pesticides. I love the strawberries we've gotten, and the cucumbers, and the specialty lettuces, and the tomatoes, and the broccoli.

I do not, however, love the cabbage. Or the kale. Or the zucchini. Or the onions (because I don't like onions).

I do love how this cauliflower looks. I didn't know that cauliflower could be purple, much less such a vivid, gorgeous shade of purple.

But I have absolutely no desire to eat it.


Old Friends

If you're lucky, you may have a few people in your life with whom you always feel at home, no matter how much time may pass between visits. My college roommate Janaki, who came to visit two weeks ago, is one of those people for me.

On paper, we didn't have much in common, so I'm not sure how we were "matched" as roommates our first year at Trinity. Me -- small-town girl, daughter of a cattle farmer, with aspirations of becoming a novelist; her -- Hindu from Dallas, ambitions to become a doctor. But apart from a slight awkwardness when I told her what my father did for a living, we clicked right away, and lived together for two years (until I went to England and she became an RA), mostly in harmony. We were both studious, both a little naive, both more interested in talking about the crazy things that college kids tend to do than in doing those crazy things ourselves.

She was pre-med, I was an English major. While I read my way through Norton's Anthology, and stayed up til the wee hours writing papers, she had late-night study sessions with her Biology and Chem classmates. She told me about the beauty of molecular bonds (or something, I'm sorry to say I've forgotten the details), while I waxed rhapsodic about Hedda Gabbler and Yeats. We'd spend our Saturday afternoons at the library, then wander campus at night, dropping in on friends; or we'd go to TC's for tortillas and chips. Most of the friends I made at Trinity were people Janaki introduced me to.

Janaki was the first person to whom I said, "I think I may have to break up with High School Sweetheart," and the first person to whom I said, "I HAVE to study in England!" She told me stories about her visits to India, and about being a first-generation American, opening my eyes to a culture I knew little about. Back in 1991, she told me about the Internet, and email, and I said with a shrug, "What a waste of time. That'll never catch on!"

She wore a bracelet with a small golden bell that jingled when she moved.

Fourteen years have passed since we've graduated, and we still have little in common, on paper; she's a doctor in San Francisco, I'm a suburban mom. But we've kept in touch, and we always manage to connect. We talk about things we've learned about our fellow alumni, and the same things strike both of us -- Can you belive he married her? Did you hear what she's doing now? When she came to visit, I listened to her stories and felt like I was back in Miller Hall. When Phoebe refused to give her a hug, she laughed and said, "Just like a Renner!" It was as though no time had passed at all.

Even so, I hope that fourteen more years don't pass before we see each other again.

Five Things

Stolen from another blog...

What were you doing 5 years ago?
More or less what I'm doing now, except with one 1.5 year old instead of a 6.5 year old and an almost-3 year old. Yay for progress.

What are five things on your to-do list for today?

1. Make a to-do list.
2. Transfer money for bill-paying purposes.
3. Write something on the blog. (Check!)
4. Vacuum living room rug (won't get done).
5. Avoid pan of brownies in kitchen.

What are five snacks you enjoy?
1. Grapes
2. Pineapple
3. Cashews or pecans
4. Baby carrots
5. Cheetos. (Who am I kidding with 1-4?)

What are five of your bad habits?

1. Mindless eating.
2. Avoiding housework.
3. Procrastination.
4. Mindless spending.
5. Too much blog reading.

What are five places where you have lived?

1. Panhandle of Texas
2. San Antonio
3. Norwich, England
4. Carrboro, NC
5. Present Town, NC

What are five jobs you've had?

1. Babysitter
2. Library assistant
3. Insurance company receptionist
4. Data entry
5. Wed Editor


Well, yikes

So, Mallory almost fainted today during Mass (her school has Mass every Friday morning). She's fine now, but I'm taking her to the doctor this afternoon. I'm sure there will be no easily identifiable reason for her almost fainting, so I'll just have to continue worrying and wondering.

She claims, incidentally, that it was the incense in the church that did it. I kind of suspect this is a ploy to avoid going to church in the future.

I'll keep you posted, if there is anything post-worthy.



1. I don't know whether to be proud of, or embarrassed by, the fact that the shirt I'm wearing today is at least ten years old.

2. Fresh pineapple is the most delicious food on earth.

3. My company is moving to a new office building in two weeks. This means a shorter commute for me -- yay! However, it also means that I have to find a new dentist and a new eyebrow waxer (waxist?) -- boo.

4. My college roommate visited last week. Will write more about this soon. Have not felt much like writing lately.

5. There is nothing cuter than a two-year-old girl who suddenly turns to you and says, "Mommy, I love you! And I hope all your wishes come true!"

6. I like this blog layout, but I wish the content area were a bit wider. I wonder if I am brave enough to tweak it a bit. If you come back and everything's all kaflooey, you'll know why.

7. Only sixteen more days of school!

8. I wish I had all summer off.

9. If it's wrong to hide the fresh (expensive) pineapple from my children, leaving more for me, I don't want to be right.


That's some fast-working karma

Wednesday, 8:15 p.m. I observe: "You know, Phoebe has never thrown up, not even once!"

Friday, 12:30 a.m. You can fill this part in on your own.


The Nest

"Mommy, there's a baby bird on the ground!" Mallory called.

I sighed. This wasn't going to end well, I was afraid. I remembered the baby birds I came across as a child, that I would gaze at with a mixture of revulsion and sorrow -- featherless, purply, clearly dead. I went over to where Mallory was and saw a little lump, reddish instead of purple, with the downy beginnigs of feathers and a bright yellow beak, lying in an awkward heap under the pear tree. And breathing. "What do we do?" Mallory asked. I was about to answer and then I saw another one. And another. And another. I took a step back and surveyed the area -- four little lumps of birds, all still alive, all raising their beaks to the air. Their nest was over to the side, blown out of the tree by the heavy winds that had gusted that morning. Clearly we had to do something to save them, but what?

"I'm calling Mimi," Mallory declared, running to the house. An excellent idea -- my sister-in-law being our resident expert for anything concerning wildlife. Mallory brought me the phone and I asked Amy to come over. While waiting for her, I googled "found baby bird" and discovered a helpful website with details on how to handle such an emergency. The thing to do, if you're ever in this situation, is not to put the babies in a shoe box lined with cotton and feed them gruel. No, the best thing to do is to try to return them to their parents, who are, of course, much better suited to raising baby birds than your average suburban household. (Did you know a baby bird needs to eat every 10 minutes, round the clock? And I thought having a newborn human was rough!)

Amy arrived; we placed the remnants of the nest into a small wicker basket. Amy carefully scooped up each little bird and placed them back in the nest. The babies struggled to arrange themselves in a cozy little heap, snuggled against one another. We got a ladder and some fishing line and Amy climbed up and secured the basket to a branch. "What happens now?" Mallory asked. "Now we wait and see if the mommy can find them," Amy replied.

We sat on the porch and watched. Within five minutes, we saw a mama robin land on a branch a few feet above the basket. She looked around. We held our breath. She hopped down to a lower branch, still looking. "Go! Go!" Mallory chanted softly. The robin hesitated, looked again -- and then fluttered down into the basket. We could see the baby birds raise their beaks and she lowered hers to feed them.

As Amy put it, we all got a bit misty.

I checked on the babies a few times today. I've seen the mama fly back and forth to the basket and I've seen the beaks of the babies raise above the rim of the nest, so I think they're fine. I wonder what the robin parents were thinking yesterday. Were they ever aware that their babies had fallen out of the tree? Had they started mourning their loss, or did we return them to the tree before they realized what had happened? What did the mama think, to find her babies a few feet away from where she had left them, now in a wicker basket lined with paper towels? Do mama birds feel sad, worried, mournful, grateful? Do animals whose offspring have only a 15-20% chance of surviving to adulthood have the luxury of these emotions?

I like to think the mama was watching us the whole time, cheering in her little heart when she saw us trying to help, filled with gratitude when we put her babies up back up in the tree. I like to think that she cherishes those four little ones more than ever, brings them only the juiciest of worms, will be extra gentle when she nudges them out to try their wings.

And I hope that next spring, she'll build a better nest.


Um, thanks?

What are you to think when someone says this to you:

"Did you get a haircut?"

and you say, "Yes, I did,"

and the person says, "Oh!"

and that's it.

I mean, if you're going to go so far as to ask the question, and acknowledge the snippage, isn't it polite to just go all the way and say, "Well it sure looks nice!" instead of just, "Oh!" And if you're not going to compliment the haircut, then just keep your mouth shut to begin with.

A few years ago (three and half, to be precise) I was at the drugstore buying a pregnancy test (her name is Phoebe). Mallory was with me; when we got to the checkout stand the clerk said, "Wow, your daughter looks just like you!"

"You think so?" I asked, because this is something I rarely hear.

"Yes!" he said. Then he added, "And I mean that as a comment!"

To this day I still wonder -- did he get his words mixed up? Did he actually mean "compliment", which would be a nice, although unnecessary, addendum to the conversation, or did he actually mean to say "comment" and therefore to insult me (us both, really) because that's usually a phrase that does end in compliment?

Some people should just not speak at all.