Wednesday, June 23, 2004

los angeles stories

day one
greetings from paradise,
also known as sonja's house in LA. after three days of amtrak misadventures, I feel like I'm at some sort of spa, with beautifully appointed rooms, delicious food, and a chance to rest, get cleaned up, wash some clothes...
the kids were playing in the yard at 8 AM, I had to coerce them in to get them bathed and fed. now they're transfixed in front of bedknobs & broomsticks, I movie I fell asleep in front of as a small child in a movie theater.
it's funny, I have taken the crescent (new york - new orleans) several times - at least 5 - and it runs on time. little did I know that the sunset (orlando-los angeles) is renowned for running 3-9 hours late. we left new orleans (after a fun filled afternoon at the station) a little before 9 PM, so at that point it was running a little over 8 hours behind, and things did not improve as we moved through the great state of texas. in a game of catch up that I don't entirely understand, the train terminated and turned around in tucson and we were placed on buses for the final nine hours of our journey.
we will be getting some money back, but still, damn. I loathe the bus. I know, jonathon richmann would say I should be more community minded, but I have spent so much time on greyhound buses in my life and I'm beyond over it. the train is mighty communal anyhow. and I love the train. it's cozy, soothing, romantic, fun. and the food is pretty good. I feel safe on the train. I do not feel safe on the bus. at all. and I'm not talking about the people on the bus. I'm talking death on the highway. we're flying down these mountain roads and our driver looked like he was nodding off. man, fuck the bus.
our bus ride was long. the desert is scary and I do not like it. at all. dry heat scares me and I do not like it. at all. I'll take my sauna, you keep your oven. when we stopped to eat (garbage) in blythe, ca., I felt like my eyeballs were being baked. before that we had a stop in the phoenix bus station. fuck phoenix, man, I've seen enough of that place.
we got into the (very beautiful) LA amtrak station and then spent two hours wrangling for our luggage. one of the buses had broken down in the desert (my fear!) and it was the one carrying our bags. I was wiped out. I was walking around the station thinking, man, fuck california. I mean, seeing friends is all to the good but beyond that, who needs this place, I'm sick of it already.
sonja was patient and soothing. liam, who had been up since 5 AM central time, fell asleep as soon as we buckled him into his carseat and started driving. it was about midnight central time at that point. nash bunked down in charlie's playroom and would have played til he dropped if I hadn't insisted that he give lying down a try. I had an excellent shower and then crawled into my big, soft bed.
liam woke me at 6 california time, which means that so far he is sticking to his usual hours. and a big fuck you to that. nash slept til about 7:30 california time. I feel like I've been up forever. the kids are too excited to eat much so far, they couldn't wait for charlie to wake up and play with them. they've eaten half a doughnut each and a handful of strawberries so a crash is imminent. me, I've had the best yogurt ever, a cappucino, emergenC and some cold fried chicken. reminds me of breakfasts in the USSR. but I'm sleepy, my head hurts. it's been a long time since I've had to adjust to pacific time - three years I guess.
later, the kids and I will stroll out to check the neighborhood and get some lunch out. I think tomorrow we'll go to the farmer's market, but for today I want to take a day off from mass transit.
sonja & jeff are so wonderful, I don't know what else to say about that. we had the best time hanging around with them in portland three years ago and it's nice to be on their turf. this is the first time I've been to a friend's house and been like, no, really, this is 100% my dream house. it's exactly the sort of house I pine for and they've done exactly the sort of stuff I'd do with it. it's very similar to an old florida-new orleans sort of place in many ways. the windows, so many windows, beautiful old windows.
I'm waiting for it to be late enough for me to reasonably call dorie. I hope I can see nina today! I'm wearing my recently unearthed duran duran t-shirt from 1984, so someone has to see me.

day two
sore throat, stuffy nose.
still exhausted.

much as I want to see the LA farmer's market and am aware that seeing as how I haven't been here in 16 years, who the hell knows when I'll return, I'm choosing not to drag my kids around on a cranky outing this afternoon. yesterday's short outing was cranky enough. we walked down to larchmont and got ice cream. people walk faster here than in new orleans, and in a strangely purposeful way considering that all they are doing is shopping. people don't smile back at you when you pass them on the street. things seem unnervingly clean. the shops on larchmont reminded me of a squeaky clean version of magazine street. or a more busy, moneyed feeling main street in northhampton. or endless variations, probably, on any quaint shopping oriented strip in any old american city.

so we got ice cream, which was the lure I used to get the kids to agree to leave the house. they love the house and who wouldn't? they never want to leave. they've been up and playing since 7:30 pacific time and now are watching a magic schoolbus video.

after ice cream, we went into a little store and bought small toys - bubbles, a sticky yo-yo ball, a magnetic checkers set for the trip home. then the children waited impaitently while I look through sets of sparkly-mesh sandals for a black or red pair in my size (7). no dice. ah, but I'm forgetting: just prior to going in the little store with toys in the back section, we had an unfortunate liam running away incident. my kids are very savvy when it comes to minding the street in our own neighborhood, and around the french quarter and the surrounding neighborhoods. the whole feel is different here. and the people in cars drive faster that folks at home. the genral vibe is pretty scary for this pedestrian. and liam running off to the end of the block like he is allowed to do at home was infuriating.

we did have a possible celebrity sighting: michael rappaport or his doppelganger, buying small toys with two lovely young children, and later having a bagel. he looked tired and sad. cheer up, dick ritchie. I'll always love you.

day three
liam woke me at some unknown hour, crying and angry because I'd put him on the floor to sleep. I pulled him into maceo's little bed with me and wrapped him up in the blanket, held him tight and he went back to sleep.
this morning he said, I can't sleep without you, and I said, well, I wasn't far away, and he said, DUUUUUH! and I said, what does that mean? and he tossed his hair, crossed his arms, looked away and said, don't talk to me right now...

yesterday I felt pretty crappy all day, exhausted, sore throat. I huddled in a chair out in the yard while the kids played, and then I herded them back in so that I could nap while they watched the rescuers. post-nap, we all snacked on pita chips and hummus and then went back outside for playing, playing and huddling, huddling. I am freezing in the shade here.

now we are with dorie in santa monica, in her cozy little place. liam's wake up time has progressed, from 6 on our first day in california, to 7:30 and now 8. not bad. he and nash are enjoying talking with dorie, I think she meets nash's standards of punk rock.

today we need to go find a photobooth, a beach, groceries for our hotel room in long beach. tomorrow, long beach - gack!

I am having my now annual angst that, thanks to my help with hiring, my mother's camp staff is made up of several of my very favorite far flung folks, and they are busy and far away and I'll never get to hang out with them. I want to see them, now. it's not gonna happen.

meanwhile, the long lost hip mama friends reunion is still a big success. being with dorie again after three years is lovely, although I'm sure she's getting sick of my detailed accounting of the time I went to the first lollapolooza, tripping, hot and mostly miserable.

invite me to your house, I'll come, I'll skulk, I'll drink all the juice, I'll talk your ear off.

Friday, June 18, 2004

liam at 7:40:
it's the day! it's the day we're going to california!

(he's right)

Thursday, June 17, 2004

oh, packing.

last night I packed all of the children's clothes and did the preliminary sorting of my own.

I still have to pack
books, tapes, cds
blank cds for dorie
camera and film
playthings like,
leap pad, tape recorder, batteries, sound effect recording magnadoodle, harry potter uno cards, dora the explorer uno cards, I spy snap cards, notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, maze books...
snacks, vitamins
soap, calendars & zines for gifts

aside from packing, I have to
mail off bills and things owed to friends
consume all of the immediately perishable food in the house
get nash to and from kung fu class
give the kids a good scrubbing

... could that possibly be all?

I went to the bank already. to my doctor's appointment. washed all of the clothes. dyed my hair. bought my train tickets for july. made housing arrangements for camp. I owe my camp co-director a phone call, but that can wait for the train ride...

oh yeah, charge my cell phone!

we have to be at the station by 11. we have to leave the house by 10:30. I intend to bathe in the morning, so I'll set the alarm and we can have breakfast at home before we go. I will assemble the bulk of our stuff by the front door before going to bed tonight.

ah, this song is a triumph. "kid" by the pretenders. everyone needs this record.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

when people ask me (as they often do for some reason),

"so what do you do in new orleans?"

I have no smooth and ready answer. what I end up saying is something like this:

"uh... do? I mean, uh... mostly I'm with the kids, you know. that's work. especially because we're unschoolers. but I also work half time at the uu church. directing the sunday school. you know?"

(and then I generally am asked to elaborate, often with questions about what exactly uuism is, indicating to me that the asker is not actually interested in me and how I spend my time at all.)

I never say anything that resembles my day to day, which would sound more like,

"I try to keep my kids healthy as well as happy and/or engaged with the world by taking them places, reading to them, providing them with interesting stuff to work with, hear about, see, do; I try to find time to write each day; I read a lot and sometimes see movies; I put in twenty hours a week working with uu kids for pay; I try to make friends and/or find time to spend with my friends with and without the company of our children; I wish for things (a lover, a home of my own) and wonder how/if those wishes will come true; I neglect my old dog; I futz around online and talk to my friends; I grudgingly do the dishes only when the kitchen is piled high and hosting a family of fruitflies; I lay plans for future travels and projects; I live with daily trade-offs."

I find it interesting but sad that I still am not in a place where the factual statement, "I spend a lot of time working on my writing," comes easily out of my mouth.
wonderfully, amazingly, fortuitously, things have worked out in such a way that I will be attending the mama gathering in minneapolis this july.

speakers/presenters include ariel gore, bee lavender, jane evershed, marilyn wann, nina utne, trula breckenridge, maia rossini, anne elizabeth moore, freya manfred, janis keyser, anne gorrick, lli wilburn, deb morbeto, vikki law and many, many more... even me.

poke around the site for details, including a message board for rides, hotel info and other logistical details.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

ten days! ten days! ten days til I leave for california!

yeah, okay...

the imax was sold out so I went to a regular theater, a gigantic auditorium place with remarkably comfy seats and it was about half full. and I enjoyed the film, for what it was. love the weasley twins new do! and gary oldman makes a good sirius, although I still think johnny depp would have been the ideal choice.
yesterday's news

I'm going to see harry potter at the imax tonight! er, unless it sells out. but probably, I am. yee haw!

I have so much to do, so much, so much, so much to do. mbd is out buying groceries and then we'll be babysitting and cooking for our friend with the new baby and then I'm going to the movies.

I am determined to spend nothing on take-out food between now and our departure. summertime gets expensive for me, what with the loss of income and all. more than half of my measly camp income is spent on childcare. which is totally worth it! more than worth it! but still. wow.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

with the radio on

but jonathon didn't play roadrunner last night, in fact, I've never heard him play roadrunner live. I wonder if that was song requested by the skinny girl to whom he said, no dear, I've only played that song once in the past thirty years and I'm not gonna play it tonight...
and then he launched right into pablo picasso. and he did that modern lovers song that talks about the old world and the new world. but he didn't play back in your life, my favorite song, or everyday clothes, my other favorite song, or chewing gum wrapper or fender stratocaster or even action packed or vincent van gogh or velvet underground or the beach, all staples of his atlanta bar shows in the early nineties.
and it could be that I'm just a crusty old curmudegeon, holding on to my early nineties as tight as I can.

the first time I ever saw him (it was february, 1990)he did this song that I'd never heard before and haven't heard since, that goes:
jonathon, jonathon, whaddaya want?
something something something and a croissant?
not me
too much talkin goin on
can't be inside talkin
got to be outside rockin

I trust the reader understands that when I say "something something something" what I mean to convey is my lack of recollection of the actual words... and I have just been informed by cheryljill that the song in question is titled "cappucino bar." so put it on that mix cd you're brewing up for me, reader dear.

so once again I was up til 3. I seem to keep forgetting that we don't have a morning nanny around here. and now we're off, off to see my friend s. in the hospital, she had her baby boy yesterday. she wants reading material and candy.