23 August 2007

A sign that birthdays are just not the same as when you were a kid

There were few responsibilities. Sure, if you're birthday fell on a weekday in any season but the summer, you had to go to school. But there was a party - cupcakes, ice cream, a song.

But being a grown up and a parent, birthdays aren't those carefree, it's all about me, days anymore. Here is how I spent my day.

At 8 a.m. I am already on the road dragging my toddler to the Registry of Motor Vehicles because I waited until the last possible second to renew my license. Fortunately, we were in and out. Unfortunately, my picture is still horrible.

9 a.m. Enter Brooks Pharmacy for a pregnancy test.

9:30 a.m. Home. Conducting said pregnancy test. I am surprisingly disappointed when only one pink line appears in the little window.

10:00 a.m. Off to the playground. Enjoyable. But if I had my choice (I mean it WAS my birthday) I would have been sipping a mimosa somewhere where there weren't seashorse shaped ride-on toys.

11:45 a.m. We are having lunch at a favorite haunt of ours, Fowle's. We order the same as usual. A Turkey Havarti sandwich. It's so good it's too hard to pass up. We have a very pleasant time. I nearly cry because I am able to have a conversation with my two-year-old.

1 p.m. Naptime. Ahhhh. Sweet. Sweet naptime.

1:30 p.m. I discover another bird in our woodstove pipe. He's flapping his wings like crazy, poor thing. This sends me into a worrying frenzy for the rest of the afternoon about what else can get into our house.

3 p.m. Go out and get mail. Open b-day cards from mom and friends. Listen to messages from friends and family members who have called to send me their best wishes.

4:15 p.m. Naptime over.

4:30 Off to the gym. I watch the end of Oprah while on the treadmill. It's an episode about inspirational guests. A woman with terminal cancer. Another woman hit by a drunk driver. A little boy with a terminal illness who still manages to write poetry about the beauty of life. I feel like a jerk because I am worried about a bird.

6 p.m. Home from gym. Son will not eat dinner. We enlist Grammy's help via telephone. He eats when I promise him one of the cupcakes left inside my door by a well-meaning, but damned friend. He does. Then he stuffs the cupcake into his mouth, chews, and spits it all out onto the table. Apparently I have the only toddler who doesn't like chocolate.

6:30 p.m. I am counting down the seconds until Rich gets home. I am tired, smelly and hungry.

7 p.m. Rich arrives home with a pastry box from Cafe Di Sienna. I am both excited and pissed at the prospect of eating a 1,000 calorie dessert.

7:15 p.m. Rich goes to pick up our Thai food (a special birthday request). I read bedtime books to our son and nearly fall asleep in the middle of the Adventures of Max the Minnow.

7:30 p.m. Rich comes home. We put our son to bed.

7:45 p.m. We unpack said Thai food and eat our Tofu Pad Thai while our son screams bloody murder from his room.

7:48 p.m. I go into his room.
7:50 p.m. Rich goes into his room
8 p.m We decide to let him scream.

8:15 We engage in our well-developed method of getting birds out of the wood stove.

9:15 p.m. Bird still in woodstove. Rich and I are tired and pissed. We sit down to eat dessert. Rich sings Happy Birthday. We laugh and dig in. I feel myself getting fatter, but enjoy every minute of it.

9:30 Take a shower.

10 p.m. I read in bed, and fall asleep.

All in all a good day.

22 August 2007

This day in history

On this day in history 1975, I was born.

Yup. That makes me 32 freakin' years old.

I'm not going to get all reflective and sappy. But turning another year older does make me think about the things I haven't yet accomplished that I thought I would have at a much younger age. Most notably, writing a book. When I was 25, I said by the time I turned 28, I would have penned the next great American novel. But 4 years after my deadline expired, here I am, with a computer full of good starts, but no finished product. Oh well.

On the other hand, I definitely don't feel that old. In fact, sometimes I still don't feel old enough to be a wife and mother. Hell, I was like 23 before I finally realized that I could actually purchase alcohol myself.

I am a true believer that age is only in the mind. I still laugh at fart jokes, watch Christmas Vacation at least 10 times over the holidays and drink sometimes just for the buzz, though I have seriously upgraded on the method.

17 August 2007

Lori McKenna rocks

It's been three days, but the euphoria from attending Lori McKenna's CD release party has not yet worn off, though her CD, which I received a week early from Warner Brothers, has worn thin. I have been listening to the thing nonstop.

McKenna's story is one that has been told over and over. The plumber's wife and Stoughton mother of five, long a staple on the Boston folk scene, is discovered by country music star Faith Hill, who covers three of McKenna's songs. The pair appear together on Oprah. McKenna goes on tour with Hill and husband Tim McGraw, who co-produces her new album, Unglamorous. People might think McKenna is lucky that Hill found her. As for me - who has never been a fan of country music - I think it's the other way around.

I had the pleasure of interviewing McKenna for a piece that will appear in the September issue of Bay State Parent Magazine. She's humble, pleasant, down-to-earth and makes great music to boot.

I must admit that I'd never heard of McKenna until about a year ago when best pal DG told me she'd seen her at Club Passim in Cambridge, an institution in the local folk scene. And even then, I had not heard her music. But when I popped in Unglamorous, I was hooked. And for those fans who were worried about McKenna's transition to a major Nashville label, it's not straight country. Yes, it has a certain twang about it, but it just rocks.

Seeing her live at her CD release party was even better. She's personable, weaving family tales in between songs, and sounds better than she does on disc. She performed most of the tracks from her new album, and didn't waiver when the ship rocked in the wake of a passing boat.

(Lori McKenna rocks the house during her CD release party on the Boston Harbor.)

She was even gracious enough to take a picture with me and DG, who came along for the ride.

(Me, Lori McKenna and my best pal DG)

After a couple of glasses of Merlot, I began to take pics of the characters on board, including a Jesus look-a-like and a man resembling Melvin from the movie Office Space who attempted to pick me up. It didn't work, and DG was horrified. A woman sitting near us glared at me as DG and I guffawed and in general had a great time. The best part of the night? Me and DG get to wear really pretty shoes.

(DG and I get to wear pretty shoes. That's my foot on the right.)

Another highlight: At the end of the night, just after the boat docked and one of the security guards shouted that unless you were family or with the band, you needed to disembark, now! I looked at him, with balls made of Merlot, and asked, "But what if you're just a really cool person?" Not thinking I was very funny, he looked me square in the eye, a scowl on his face, and said, "I can't go home until you do."

But of course, the REAL highlight of the night was the music. Check out some of it and find out more about Lori McKenna here.

I promise. You won't be disappointed.

12 August 2007

It's a zoo out there

Saturday morning, we packed up and headed down to Little Rhody for a trip to Roger Williams Park Zoo.

The prospect of viewing creatures you rarely get to see in nature is always a little exciting, especially with an inquisitive toddler in tow. However, I always seem to come away a bit disappointed because, well, animals like zebras, anteaters, giraffes and bald eagles aren't really meant to be kept in captivity and so they punish us humans by hiding or remaining so still as to almost be invisible to the intruding eye. The elephants would only show their behinds. The kangaroos lay flat in the tall grass. And the penguins huddled together in a corner where there was no glass window through which to steal an optimal view.

And while it was difficult to imagine the bison on the "Marco Polo Trail" in the middle of Providence, RI, and we only caught glimpses of the more interesting species, the day was not without its highlights:

- The giraffe exhibit was the most popular by far, given one male's uncomfortably obvious and incessant quest to make another baby giraffe, and the female giraffe version of, "Now now, I have a headache. And besides, do you really NEED an audience." People were drawn to this like they are to a horrific traffic accident. My mom could be heard saying, "Did you see the size of his....?" as could numerous other onlookers.

(The giraffe that would not give up.)

-For my two-year-old, the animals were slightly more interesting than last year (especially when they actually appeared to be alive. "Mommy, he's moving," he cried at the bison.) But the most interesting thing to him was the water fountain where kids were dunking their heads for relief from the heat. We stood there for several minutes while he first put in a tentative hand, then both his arms and finally his baseball-capped head. He stood there dancing his little toddler dance and screaming, "I like that!" The other thing that made said toddler incredibly happy was Grammy's visit to the zoo gift shop, where he was presented with a safari hat, two plastic animal drinking cups and the be-all, end-all - a safari truck with trailer and ATV.

(Left, the water fountain. Below, the safari hat and truck and trailer courtesy of Grammy.)

- The polar bears may no longer grace the rough grounds of Roger Williams Park Zoo, but the place did have their fair share of turtles - which made appearances in Tropical South America, Africa, the Reptile House and on the Marco Polo Trail. Rich and I failed to see the importance of the turtle in our geographical history until this point.

- Our son was most excited about seeing the farmyard animals. For some reason, in the days leading up to our trip, he could be repeatedly heard saying that he wanted to see a turkey and a chicken at the zoo. But when we got to this "farmyard," the pot-bellied pig lay sleeping (at least I think he was only sleeping) inside his miniature house, as did the goat. The cow hid behind a tall hay bale. And a rumored donkey was nowhere to be seen. Oh yeah, and the damn farmyard had no chickens! What kind of a farm has no chickens? However, there was this very cute photo opportunity with Fred the field mouse.

All in all, it was an enjoyable day. We spent some QT with Grammy and an impromptu trip to the movies to see Harry Potter topped it off for Rich and I. Fun was had by all.

09 August 2007

I'm not saying you have to be carbon-neutral...

We can't all be the Gore's. But I am really angered by people that don't recycle.

Case in point. My neighbors - a family of five that hauls their overflowing trash bins to the curb every week, launching renegade cheese wrappers onto lawns throughout the neighborhood.

Again, I am no environmental martyr - my obsessive fear of bugs sends me running to the phone to call the exterminator each Spring - but I do buy environmentally-friendly cleaning products, shut off lights in rooms that are not occupied, use the air conditioner only when the air is as thick and soupy as beef stew and find the time to put paper in one bin and glass and plastic in another. It's not hard.

I was actually giddy when I read in my local paper months ago that there would be a fine imposed to anyone found guilty of NOT recycling, but then I remembered that the garbage men, who are extremely friendly and indulge my vehicle-obsessed toddler by giving him a wave every Friday morning, graciously collected and quietly disposed of all of our unsold yard sale items (some which I'm guessing were prohibited curbside) this spring. They are not going to rat out anyone stuffing Coke bottles into a trash bag.

But seriously, recycling is the freakin' easiest thing you can do. I'm not sure if one family of five is going to clear landfills or hault global warming, but how can someone care so little about the environment that they would purposely send plastic to slowly breakdown in the ground?

If the Mayor will hire me, perhaps I can secretly drive around the city, toddler in tow, and get footage of all the people that don't recycle. They can call me Special Under Cover Environmental Investigator for the City. Of course, I might be spotted by someone from the Mother's Club, deemed a vagrant and be banned from the annual cocktail party held on the sprawling front lawn overlooking the Merrimack River. And THAT would be unacceptable.

08 August 2007

How I would look if I was a comic book character

Life's little inconveniences

Today was the third day in a row that the barrel of disinfectant wipes closest to the treadmills I work out on at the gym was empty.

They have a "rule" that everyone must wipe off their machines after use. And usually I adhere strictly to this social statute. But since they ran out of wipes (there must be some kind of strike at the disinfectant-wipe-making company) the next best thing they have to offer is a roll of paper towels and a bottle of disinfectant they've inconveniently placed all the way at the front of the gym.

Monday I was so tired, I couldn't bear to take the extra steps there and back, and at the risk of being labeled "that girl," I didn't give my treadmill a wipe down. Yesterday, conscious of onlookers around me and feeling a tad guilty for my lack of consideration the previous day, I went ahead and wiped. Today, annoyed that they had not yet filled the barrel, I bucked the system, and purposely did not wipe.

Then I realized that if other sweathogs at the gym were operating in the same manner, I was likely using a damn dirty machine. So I have instead decided that on my walk TO the treadmill, I will stop and grab a paper towel, spritz it with cleaner and wipe off my machine BEFORE I work out. Just like how John Cage in Ally McBeal wanted a fresh toilet bowl every time he peed, I feel I deserve a sweat-free machine before I work out.

It's every sweathog for herself.

07 August 2007

Talk about a waste of time

My "normal" business hours range from 12:30 to 2:30, anytime after 7 p.m. and sometimes into the wee hours of the night. On weekends, it's a free-for-all. I work during naptime, after bed, Saturday and Sunday when I can, and on those rare occasions when we have a babysitter, then too.

That's why I am sitting here fuming that I just wasted several of those precious hours searching for a tiny piece of paper with the contact info of a source I need for a story I am writing. I solicited this source while climbing the monkey bars at the playground with my son a couple of weeks ago, and now that I have been given the go-ahead for the story, it's nowhere to be found.

I calculated the time spent looking for this info, and if ever turns up, I am going to attempt to add two hours of my hourly rate to the peanuts I will make for writing the damn thing.

This scenario has caused me to think about how I spend my valuable "work" time. I could have been using this time to pitch other, more lucrative stories. Or to research stories I already have assigned and have contact info for.

My son is still asleep, so perhaps I could salvage what little time I have left. Wait! Who is that I hear harkening from his bedroom?

Murphy's Law strikes again.