Posts Tagged ‘habits’

Doomed to History

3 November 2011

Dear J-

In a peculiar display that can only be called a first-world problem, our TiVo gave up the ghost earlier this week and so we’ve been without TV for a while. Which honestly has been fine for the evenings as we usually spend the time consuming content, but lately figgy has been very much into YouTube and what she calls cake videos — which at this point have grown to include pretty much anything people make in the kitchen. Certain characters have therefore become huge heroes of hers and I hear her pottering away in the bedroom, arranging the pretend-cakes just so on a plate and signing off on her broadcasts by saying who she is and who she works for (“I’m Liv Hansen for the Betty Crocker Kitchens.”)

When I was six I discovered my parents old tape recorder and armed with a blank tape I was encouraged to go ahead and record myself broadcasting the news as I’d hear on the kitchen radio every morning: this is CBS News, with Dan Rather or Bob Schiefffer. I cleverly concealed their parody identities by reordering the names: Rather Dan or Schieffer Bob, of course. I don’t recall what happened to the tape (let’s just say that if someone didn’t already throw it away, it could be decent fodder for the Star Wars Kid of 1981), but I do remember there were follow-up tapes and that we listened to it in the car maybe a few times before I only got interested in making the VU Meter jump in a crazy fashion until that tape recorder gave up as well.

I see tendencies from both of us in the kids, good and bad. There’s frustration when the world doesn’t bow down before us and just work right (I spent a day or two weighing the purchase of something like a Boxee Box versus another TiVo given how little we actually watch TV lately, and how all we seem to need is a YouTube connection to the TV … or, y’know, an XBox would do just as well, wouldn’t it?). There’s the dead-on imitation of adult life and habits, at turns both funny and uncomfortable. I wonder if they’ll make the same mistakes and struggle through to the other side stronger for it or if I should find a way to teach those lessons more gently and realize that it’s quickly becoming not my life to lead for them. And I wonder if we shouldn’t move someplace smaller, or if the ego of big fish little pond is at work again. Do we escape the appeal of the past or are we doomed to history?

Mike

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Pattern Dance

22 August 2010

Dear J-

figgy has a sleep schedule which must be maintained at all costs:  generally speaking, bed by ten and up around eight or so with the added bonus of a multi-hour mid-day nap.  Were I smart enough to remember the lessons of three years ago, I’d have napped when she naps in order to ensure unbroken rest.  Nowadays, of course, we just take stuff like that for granted, like not having her in diapers when she’s awake.

Any breakdowns in the schedule used to guarantee an interrupted night for us, but like everything else, we’ve all learned to be flexible lately.  Me, running on fumes at this point of the night; her, going strong despite expending roughly four times the energy (that’s my best guess, as her philosophy has been why walk when you could run, or whisper when exclamation points say it better).  Nap time is magic, man.

It’s funny, the difference between review class and assigned homework.  Once I think I’ve got a concept down well enough from class along comes the homework set where an entirely different set of principles and equations get emphasized (the first few problems I have to figure out how the author likes to see things, but after that the questions become easier, as there are only a few equations per chapter that get drilled over and over again).  Likewise figgy:  at first glance, she’s got a million things and activities, but there are crystalline patterns and favorite objects; it all makes sense with time.  Habits emerge, rituals observed.

Mike

Day Break

3 May 2010

Dear J-

The whole back end of the van in alive with noises this morning, some of them my fault (there’s a gentle clicking that I know must be some of the extra hardware that I’ve added and could stand to come off), some of it is getting used to the new van (they swapped out our 2008 van with 40K miles for a 2009 van with 40K miles, essentially proving that there is no free lunch), and some of it is the nature of the trip: for this wheelbase, weight, and suspension tuning, the freeway between San Diego and Carlsbad sets up an almost resonant rocking motion. Yes, I already knew I had too much time on my hands, but what should I do about it?

Part of this time could be spent fruitfully studying, I suppose; there are no doubt any number of non-fiction titles out there for me to discover, but unless they involve sunken ships, I’m afraid my attention span isn’t what it used to be. I dunno. Part of me gets up so early because I need to for the vanpool, but the estra time is just gravy, I guess — there are long stretches in the morning when I don’t say a word to anyone because I feel like I’m the only one awake in the world, though theVet has surprised me on more than one occasion while I’m reading the newspaper and woolgathering.

I actually remember the first time I got up early for myself, and it’s not a great memory: that conflicted summer of ’98, we’d gotten up before I had to go to school and some petty argument (it’s a wonder that love under the age of, say, 25, has a chance at surviving the egos) sent me marching towards the door just after six, bus pass in hand with a silent vow to stew all the way there. By the way, public transportation is an excellent service for introverts — they’re the ones staring out the window — and extroverts (on their phones) alike now, but before the ubiquitous cell phone, they were the best way I knew to be alone in public. For some reason there’s an unwritten rule on the vanpool that quiet time is reserved for the mornings; maybe that’s our nature, or just our lack of caffeine.

Mike

Home Patterns

14 June 2009

Dear J-

I seem to fall into these old patterns by habit; I question how valid the thoughts are as I’ve only known my parents in this house for I think four or five visits, but it feels a little like humming around between high school and college, the way we eat (and eat and eat) from the moment I get up until the kisses goodnight. I will leave it at that except that I’m making it a point to eat as much fiber as possible while here — one purpose of which is to keep full to fend off the proffered snacks.

My brother is a foodie, recognizing styles and obscure dishes and welcoming new tastes into his life; I got a bit of a taste of that tonight when we were trying for a light dinner after the family gathering for lunch (these things seem to turn into multi-hour buffets featuring multiple mains and desserts) and, while eating, we were trying to figure out the next few meals. Not only did he recognize the family tendency to fixate on eating, he pointed out how we seem to plan our days around where we eat and make it a point to go for dishes not easily found in our home towns.

Finally I spent part of the night in the company of three children — two, six, and eight. It’s a nice stage to be around; they’re not obscurely embarrassed to be seen with adult relatives, nor so little to be imprintless blobs. All three had their own interests; the eldest and youngest were arrested by blocks (the building and destroying of various structures, from army base to jail to zoo made for a loud and somewhat hazardous site, this immensely successful), while the middle one solicited dishes for a menu she put together for me. We spent the rest if the night on the couch laughing at Ben Stiller in Night at the Museum. I was tucked between two fellow souls — my brother’s kids — wondering if life could get any better than this.

Mike

Kid Menu 0015 -sm