Sunday, November 25, 2007

good instincts

Have you seen the ads on Yahoo? There are little cartoon people lined up and the tag line is “Train to Be a...” Each little face takes an occupation: Social Worker. Graphic Designer. Health Care Manager. Accountant. Bounty Hunter. Whaaa? Is this one of those things that they throw in to see if you are paying attention? Like when Mike wants to know if Isaac is asleep yet and Winnie-the-Pooh starts asking Piglet whether he thinks the other candidates are picking on Hillary because she's a woman or because she's ahead?

But now, it's time for another edition of everyone's favorite game of speculation: What Will Isaac Be When He Grows Up? (roar of cheering crowd)

- That guy who used to bring all the exotic animals on the talk shows. Think Johnny Carson scrambling away from his desk as someone in a beige zoo-keeper's shirt and safari hat suggests that the unusually large rodent clawing through his notecards really likes it if you scratch him under the chin. Isaac's new favorite game is called “Hi.” I have to hold one of his stuffed animals (the Carson figure) while he introduces his other animals to me one after another. Take his sting ray for example. (Yes, my son has a stuffed sting ray.) “Oh, hi. Wook my wings. I wap, wap wap my wings in the o-ton. Biiiiiiiiiiig wawa. Touch my tail. Me have eyes, see?” etc.

- I've decided that stage or movie director isn't nearly as bossy or hands on as Isaac would require in a profession. I think he'd do better as a permanent guest on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” specializing in that game where two people act out a scene but can't move until another player moves their limbs and bodies for them.

- and finally, I may be out on a limb here, but I'm feeling reckless today: poet.

Of course, as off the beaten track as Bounty Hunter may be, you still would never see one of those little faces promising to train you to become a painter, folk singer, stand up comic, poet. One must supplement.

Isaac loves to tell us about his dreams. “Me had deam 'bout, 'bout, 'bout...Mama, me had deam 'bout...oranges!”

I am not concerned in the least that his “dreams” have to do with the first thing his eyes light on. On the contrary, it shows good poetic instincts. Start from where you are. There is a story in the daily details.

“Where going, Mama?” Isaac asks as I head out to my monthly poetry hosting duty.

I answer the same way I always do. I bust out, “I'm going to host a POETRY reading!” making sure to light up like an all-night drive-thru.

“Me too??” he begs, jumping up and down.

Train 'em young.

it won't die

I have a list of blog ideas that hope to write on in the next couple days, but I think first I owe you a Squash update. Yes, I'm talking about THE Squash.

Well, the pumpkin muffins that were scheduled for the day after the initial entry on the Squash didn't materialize, but they did come to pass a day or two after that. The thing about the Squash is, it doesn't go anywhere, it's like the dishes, or your fourth grade teacher at the front of the room folding her hands against the rambunctious bodies ready for recess saying “I can wait.”

The “Fluffy Pumpkin Cookies” that Katie sent a link to happened too (Thank you, Katie.). We have entertained ideas of pumpkin bisque though none has happened yet, because really, we have nothing else to do with our time but manage large winter vegetables.

As serendipity would have it, a list appeared at Isaac's Montessori for parents to sign up to bring something toward the Thanksgiving meal the kids were going to prepare for us. I saw it as my ticket to ride. I snatched up the clipboard and hurriedly wrote my name next to “Pumpkin – enough for two pies.” Mike cooks down two enormous pans of the stuff and when it is all over, the clock reads midnight and the damn stuff was only enough for a single pie. We supplemented with a can of pumpkin that's lived in the cabinet for quite some time, making one if not two of the last moves with us.

With hopes high I head for the garage to see how much the giant orange lump has shrunken. It looks exactly as it has for days. “I used the hunk in the frig!” Mike explains.

At the pre-school meal, I try to explain to the other parents about the Squash as they eat tiny slices of the custardy dessert, but they only nod briefly and turn to tell their three-year-olds to put their shoes back on. They just don't understand my pain.

And that is where we are today. I'm afraid it doesn't make for stunning literature or really even a good blog read. It just is. I'm thinking of possibly carrying it around and introducing it to people as our second child, a la “Lars and the Real Girl.” Or charging it rent. Or maybe I could travel with it like the proverbial garden gnome, sending back e-postcards of the Squash at the Eiffel Tower, the Squash in front of the Colosseum. All I want for Christmas is the Squash...gone.

Monday, November 19, 2007

and you thought it was the snow

Overheard at my house today:

(sung to the tune of the alphabet song, of course)
"A,B,C, D, E, F, G,
H, I, J,...Yellow Peas."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

family portrait with squash

The large green oblong thing in this picture is what will henceforth be referred to in these entries as “the Squash.” It looked cool and on a whim we added it to our pumpkin selections back in October when pumpkins were still all the rage. It weighed somewhere around 30 pounds.

From the moment we got it home, Isaac wanted to cut it open and see inside. I told him we would open it, but first let's just enjoy it as decoration.

Several weeks went by with Isaac asking every so often about cutting it open. Finally, when he asked again last week, I said okay. “Yay! Yay! Dut it o-pin! Dut it o-pin! Hurray!”

We put in our guesses on what color it might be. Isaac went with white. We ruminated about the size of the seeds. Isaac's estimate was “Big-big-BIG!” So I chopped. Bright orange and Big-big-BIG, in case you were wondering. And then came the dilemma. What the hell were we going to do with 30 pounds of pumpkin guts? A heavy veil of guilt fell over me. I could feed a small nation with this thing and here we were pretty much thinking – eh, compost pile?

Day One with the Squash: Initial dissection. Mike makes squash for dinner. “Me no like it,” concludes our son.

Day Two with the Squash: Pumpkin muffins for breakfast, enough to distribute among friends.

Day Three with the Squash: One hunk takes up half a shelf in the refrigerator, the rest won't fit at all. It sits at the fourth place at our kitchen table. “What punt-tin doing?” It's watching us with that big orange eye.

Day Four with the Squash: Trim off the dried ends and make pumpkin pie for dessert. Mmm. Whipped cream in a can. Sign me up. “Me no like it.”

Day Five with the Squash: It moves from the kitchen table to the top of the washing machine in the garage. Now we can almost forget it's there except when I come around the corner to get my shoes or retrieve the cat food, then BAM.

I feel like we're harboring a criminal, or at least a secret. An old Russian professor of mine liked to collect propaganda posters from the 50s. One that hung prominently in his office read: “ARE THERE BOLSHEVIKS IN YOUR WASHROOM?” You can see the slippery slope – squash on washing machine, Bolsheviks in washroom.

Day Six with the Squash: I throw away the bowl of giant seeds that I never dried out and are now nasty gross. “Mama, what you doing?” Nothing, son. You didn't see a thing, you understand?

Plans for Day Seven include more pumpkin muffins, praying to the gods of abundance, and carving out a ski chalet for Isaac to play in. Stay tuned.

"the eye"

day two without a nap

From the back of the car, on the way home from the store right around nap time: "Mama, why people sleep in daytime?"

Friday, November 09, 2007

just a couple o’ working stiffs

“Me go work,” Isaac announces upon mounting his rocket ship. “Bye bye.”

“Have a good day, honey,” I call while checking to see if that director or this organization chair emailed back yet, another deadline looming over my shoulder.

I am a journalist. No, a reporter. No. I write articles sometimes for the paper. I have found myself in one of those professions, like a bartender or a cabdriver. People tell me things. I am a keeper of secrets, a seer of souls.

“This is off the record,” they say.

“Well, between you, me, and the wall…” they say.

“I wouldn’t want you to print this, but I’ll tell you the real reason,” they say.

And so the things they tell me in confidence dangle like mischievous poltergeists between the lines of black newsprint.

They tell and I receive. Maybe they never knew they had these things to say until some question I managed to write down on the fly set them on a path to divulge, a route blocked with emotion. There’s a need to get it said even if it can’t go any further, like a journal entry, like a terminal degree; I understand. I have those things.

We live in a world of large, public everything. Our internal worlds – what ARE those again? What good is it if it isn’t going to reach a thousand people? a million? If it’s not on Oprah? If we aren’t shouting? If people, lots of them, don’t know about it, it must be pointless.

And yet, again and again they reveal, in the intimacy of the impersonal, in the safety of the temporary.

I have interviewed loads of people over the last year and a half. Many of them connected to events I would not have given a second look if it weren’t for my job. Some of them connected to events I actively dislike and find in conflict with my philosophical, political and moral beliefs. But at least for the time I am in their company (even if the article I ultimately write takes a different turn) I must give myself over to their point of view. And, for the twenty minutes I am sitting across from them or have them on the phone, I do. I go there. It’s something most of us can avoid, though none of us can afford to.

“Me home from work, Mama!” The rocket ship parks beside the bookcase.

“That’s great, Izzy. Welcome back. What did you learn at work today?”

Monday, November 05, 2007

sing for your pumpkins

Before we get too far from pumpkin time, and until I have the time to post something real. Here's a check-in visual with the kid.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

flash forward

I arrive to collect my boy from his preschool on Halloween. They had a "carnival." Isaac is lingering on the patio where he has begun dismantling the Halloween basket from his teacher. Monster magnet. Giant rubber spider. Flying propeller thing. Playdoh. Ah. There we are. The thing you're looking for is always at the bottom, isn't it?

While I foolishly attempt to engage in adult conversation with other parents in my vicinity, Isaac spreads his playdoh on the bench. By the time I think to look back, he is throwing his face into the big old green pancake of dough repeatedly and laughing insanely at the imprint he can make.

For reasons I can't fully explain, my mind flashes ahead a couple decades to my son at college, after hours in an office to which he has earned the keys, being that upstanding workstudy individual of great character. And he is xeroxing his butt cheeks.

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