Posts Tagged ‘today’

Two Faces

26 April 2011


Dear J-

The big social obligation is over: as both my brother and I are visiting my parents wanted to host a party and while the turnout wasn’t huge it was respectable and most of all figgy got a chance to run around with her cousins. Typically when we meet up with family it’s in a restaurant where the norm is decorous ingestion of food, not screaming and jumping as four-year-olds are capable of for hours on end. The contrast was especially marked in comparison with the morning, when we went to the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. We picked a day that coincided with a couple of field trips and so she spent the morning getting jostled by bigger kids and pushed out of the way. The quiet figgy we saw was nothing like the bossy (let’s be charitable and say leader) kid we saw this afternoon, commanding fiercely.

I love that about her: the unerring ability to seize a comfortable relationship and twist it for her own ends, though it’s often hard to appreciate when I’m the one getting bossed around. It’s therefore hard to see her in the unfamiliar not wanting to take charge, though that’s no doubt because no one feels comfortable in awkward social situations (they wouldn’t be awkward if you felt comfortable, after all). We are just passengers on the ride some days, and we are in awe of how fast she has picked up the basics of manipulation and reasoning, trying to make us pawns without much success yet. We bribe her to get through the day (if this, then reward) and little tasks so I wonder how the rest of the childhood gets any easier.

We are getting older. Colds seem a bit more severe with every new virus and I know it’s not just because the bugs keep getting stronger. Our metabolism has definitely slowed down and the burgers stick around so much longer. There will come a time — and no doubt soon — when the charismatic lies she tells us will be indistinguishable from what we see to be the truth. The longer we keep guiding her though the better off we are in the long run and we just need to remind her who gets hurt in these situations. We’re getting older, and she has a long road to run.



Today Was Yesterday

14 August 2010

Dear J-

Twenty five (has it been that long?) years ago, when I was writing a daily journal as part of my how-much-like-Henry-Reed can I make my life-project, I had convinced my parents that I was doing something that actually took time and, as the journal was sacredly unreadable, there was no way to check if what I was doing was really taking an hour each night.  Meanwhile I had the entries dialed in:  before I hit upon the idea of writing in the day’s Star Trek episode title (I can still tell you a plot summary if you give me a title, which is really not something to be proud of, in retrospect), I stumbled upon writing in the single line “Today was yesterday.”

Three words, and I got an hour to myself, puzzling over the thin blue notebook with thoughtful looks.  And unlike making predictions and suddenly growing a psychic sense (“Today is tomorrow”) it made sense, that summer of 1985:  without anything else to do, we ended up going to the store more often than not, where we’d drill on math in the mornings and then read library books behind the counter in the afternoons, calling for someone to run the register every so often (it was never a very busy summer).

Leave out the obvious travel yesterday (it’s a strange feeling of displacement to wake up in one bed and go to sleep in another) and I could write that again without lying:  these are comfortable days and when you can fall back into the routine after a week without blinking, that’s a sure sign something’s going right.  It’s hard to believe that it’s already the middle of August; this summer seemed like it would last forever, but counting off a day, a week at a time it goes quicker than ever.


Toilet Humor

2 August 2010

Dear J-

Poop in the toilet isn’t such a big deal except when it’s coming at the end of what I see as the end of toilet training:  she’s been saying the right things, but acting on a limited scope (apparently up until now, only the toilets at home and daycare are okay to sit on — which I think gave them a skewed view of how far along she was).  So.  Poop in the toilet; big deal tonight and over the weekend.

Today we had a visit from a vendor trying to push double-paned windows to us; the disadvantage of having salesmen in the house is that you can’t pitch them out on their ear without seeming unneighborly.  Even if they were promoting a good product and were generally nice guys, any kind of pushy pressure is likely to have me dig in even harder to keep my ground.  One interesting tactic they offered:  commit today and get twenty percent off the total (meaning the total is inflated by twenty-five percent before I even say anything) and let them put up a yard sign and get thirty percent off — this, after a long, nonsensical rambling phone call to the ostensible manager.

There is a lot of me in her, after all; I should recognize those traits as if looking in a mirror.  When it’s right, there’s nothing that will stop her, but only on her own schedule.  We learned this when crawling, walking, talking, and now, pooping.  Knowing yourself is an amazing gift at any age.


Impulse Power

5 December 2009

Dear J-

I’m beginning to realize what poor impulse control I have — this is a bad time of year for it too — it’s probably a good thing that we go to the Zoo, typically, on Saturday mornings because if I had too many days like today, I’d soon be bankrupt.  After a whirlwind of activity at home (we’re a bit late on putting up the lights, now a two-year tradition), we whisked away to a couple of stores where virtually everything under $20 caught my eye like a moth to the flame (look, the Glee soundtrack is out, hooray!).

Days I’m alone with figgy — so far, half a day a week, Saturdays — I feel myself rocking back and forth between practiced dad (hey, no problem — we can handle this) and drunken sailor (crazy times and bad judgement — trying to get stuff done, for instance vacuuming; I should have gotten something she could run over the carpet while I’m up and about and instead I plop her down with some snacks and milk).  Some things seem obvious once you watch other people make the mistakes, but until then, I’m stuck figuring these things out on my own.

The guilt fits in with the impulse buying, after all (Duplo LEGO garbage truck # 5637 — not only does she like watching the garbage man go by, I’m feeling awful for something I’ve done, or not done as the case may be, I’m sure!); it’s another vicious cycle, as the newfound guilt over the buy leads to compensatory purchases (well, if I got this for me, maybe I should get this for her) ad infinitum.  Make do with less, that’s the creed we should be following.


Lucky Day

23 August 2009

Dear J-

In the board game Life you drive around in a car, picking up a spouse and kids along the way after going through the career routing and, several mountains and buildings later, you end up retiring; the point is to amass as much money as you can (kids, stock, insurance, and salary all counting for something). The winner is the one with the most money, not the last one to the end of the board.

Along the way are a few Lucky Day squares — these you can either take as an immediate payout or gamble, as it were, on the chance that you’ll land on another one further down the road for a much larger cash prize. Playing the game it probably won’t put you over the top either way — the squares are scattered widely enough that you’re more likely to have better luck with the stock market or cashing in a life insurance policy, to be honest. The game itself is more luck than it is skill — you can, with sufficient practice, get used to the spinner and roll the right number, I suppose, but the squares you get are going to be different each game.

Carry Out 5474 -sm

Today felt like landing on one of those squares; every thing went nearly just as planned, from breakfast to the zoo visit, lunch, a movie, and beyond. One of the things that the game doesn’t teach you is that time is more valuable than money; I could work a year of Sundays and never buy what I had today. Though time moves linearly, life isn’t a single winding track; we’ve got branches and choices and we won’t know if we were right unless the stars align like today.


Just Like US

16 September 2008

Dear J-

We head home together without rancor; the weight of work lifts as we pass through the gates and so far, it’s still sunny on the way back.  Come the end of Daylight Savings, though, things will change.  Sometimes I think about picking up a smoking habit, or even just a secondhand smoking habit, for the excuse of getting out of doors once in a while when I’m otherwise stuck at my desk all day long.  Back in grad school I had friends from foreign countries who’d drag me outside — this is how I picked up the odd habits of carspotting I carry to this day.

I get out the door in the afternoons and forget how bright daylight is; the conflicting edicts of microbreaks and productivity conspire to keep me from leaving my chair on a regular basis.  Weather, what’s weather again?  The amazing thing is how staying busy keeps the day moving; no sooner it seems that I get one or two small things done than it is time to head back home again.  I can’t help but put on my old job hat and look at things from a cost engineer’s perspective; one of the rules was that overtime was effective in limited instances, but completely ineffective to the point of countering productivity after roughly six weeks.  The aphorism that work expands to fill the available time holds true:  given the chance, I suspect that we’ll lay some pretty spectacularly polished gold bricks.

But we’re headed home again.  Weather continues to cooperate with the notion that it’s still summer around here, not a handful of days short of the next equinox.  The political season continues, unabashed in hypocritical contradictions and hyperbolic projections; I keep hoping that folks will figure out better criteria for picking candidates than tabloid magazines (the “Stars, they’re just like US” segment in US magazine comes to mind — not that I read that too much, right).  I can’t say that I understand the backlash against smart candidates — why is it so engrained in us to be jealous?  We’ll have a lot of time to consider it, at any rate.