Posts Tagged ‘present’

Candy Hand

21 September 2010

Dear J-

Despite already owning both a good camcorder and a cheap one (think cell phone-quality) I find myself toying with that evergreen Flip versus Kodak debate in my head. Here, though, it competes with reality, like whether or not I want to eat this week, or other interesting purchase possibilities, like saving money towards another lens, maybe, or I don’t know, SOMETHING. It’s nothing I can’t live without, and it would only add to my hoarder’s curse: nothing is ever discarded, only added to the pile of questionable collectibles (anyone interested in an HP-34C for the blind?) I’ve managed to rescue over the years.

figgy is remarkably good at the vague misdirection when asking for candy: “I want a snack.” We suggest, which is usually met by an outraged howl of “NO! I want something ELSE!” Various other choices are made and rejected until finally we’re left pointing at the bag of pinata candy we’ve been doling out since the last party. I understand the inarticulate need to get stuff, like knowing there’s candy in the cupboard but not bold enough to ask for it out loud. For me part of the fun is the selection process: figuring out the pros and cons, what you can live with versus what you gotta have. Actually getting it is a bit of a letdown. Sometimes I wonder if figgy feels the same, but one look and you can tell that the candy is just as good as she’d hoped.

Somewhere between now and then your expectations get realigned. I’ll go through cycles of needing to have some kind of package on the doorstep when I get home, like a junkie hoping for a fix: maybe I’ll be as excited about this widget as I remember opening presents when I was six. Not quite, so rinse and repeat, throw another gadget on the pile for posterity. Living in the present and being thankful for what you’ve already got is a lot harder than it looks. I just need to look to figgy for validation: there will be candy tomorrow, but don’t worry about it and concentrate on the candy in hand.



Past Perfect

14 September 2010

Dear J-

Last night after class we drove home in the dark: it’s a preview of life to come during the fall, time changes and longer hours are probably going to mean that we leave and reach San Diego without glimpsing daylight during the week. If I was a philosophical man, I’d say that you can’t expect it to be unusual for power plant workers: the nature of the service demands the jobs to run 24-7 and, when you’re not running, 24-7 to get back to running. And from what I’ve heard, where I am now is one of the better jobs for being able to maintain a fairly regular schedule, but they also say that you don’t quit jobs, you quit bosses.

I’ve been struggling to get any kind of quality time stitched together for life after work, whether it’s for getting figgy off to bed (this has turned into an hourlong team effort/ordeal, first to cajole her into getting her teeth brushed*, then to read stories**, and finally singing songs***), reading my own library books (I am always overambitious at the library for fear of running out of materials to read; three weeks is shorter than you think), or studying. Of course on top of that the storage/guest room beckons with project promises: hey, how about getting some hard flooring in here, some color on the walls, maybe a Solatube to keep the gloom out?

I realize that my life is so full right now that work is almost a distraction from the real business of living, and that’s a wonderful place to be. A hundred times I might have to do it differently, but I’d want to be here now; between Kung Fu Panda and the Stargirl novels I’ve had enough digestible philosophy. This resonates, though: the past is history, the future, a mystery, so all you can do is live in the now: the present is a gift that keeps unwrapping.


* She does some teeth herself, which is semi-helpful, but needs help with others in the back. And let’s not get started on talking about flossing, which generally sets off a chase through the house.

** Here’s where the library has come in handy, augmenting our meager supply; current favorite is Shrek! by William Stieg, but I also like the Pigeon books by Mo Willems, as there is a lot of Pigeon in most kids.

*** theVet handles this part, as my singing is soothing to no one, and besides which I can’t imagine that Nirvana and The Jam would be considered suitable bedtime material.

Crash Course

5 July 2008

Dear J-

Spend enough time anywhere and you’ll eventually run into someone who’s felt the generation gap quite keenly; someone on the vanpool related the story of how, after his parents divorced, he and his sister were sent to live with their grandparents.  His sister received corporal punishment for bringing home a book on how to love people — not in the physical sense, but in a spiritual sense; this from a grandmother considered liberal in her time (she played sports!) who literally judged that book by its cover.

Me, there was a giant language barrier yawning between my grandparents and me; I never learned Mandarin well enough to do much more than exchange pleasantries about how the weather was and expressing gratitude for the good grub they managed to put on the table (we all lived as one big extended family for four or five years when I was six).  As I’m convinced that any gifts I have must be genetic, I’m curious to see what their perspective is on the historical events they lived through.  Life’s already so busy that we barely have time to talk, let alone set aside the time to learn.

And now figgy will face the same issues; theVet’s parents are not native English speakers, but there’s a wealth of experiences shaped by growing up during a civil war in Korea.  What lessons can we learn?  How much harder is it, really, to extend the same courtesies and patience we do with bare strangers who call the house seeking our opinion on meaningless things?  To understand the person of now, it helps to know the child of the past.  Yesterday collides with tomorrow to shape all our todays.