Saturday, June 30, 2012

I forgot to take a picture of the sunset, but it was nice.

So there are no pictures from today. But if I could have taken a few, here's what they would have been:

1) The disgusted look on my face this morning when Shaun T (of the Insanity workout) started screaming at me to "dig deeper." I wasn't hurting (serious win, in my book) but I did want to lay down on the floor and take a nap instead of "bouncing around like a freak"--that's what I call my workout when E and I speak of it. I did it though. Dammit. I wasn't about to quit on day six. But I hated it all the way through. And it took me almost an hour to do a 40 minute video because I kept having to take angry breaks.

2) The stacks and stacks of ripe, red strawberries at the farmer's market.

3) The heel of the woman in front of me as I checked out at Sprout's market. Because my cart was on top of it.  Oopsie.

4) The pile of dishes in my sink that I was supposed to wash before I did anything today. The same pile that is still in my sink because I was shopping and cooking and then we were gone all day.

5) The totally amazeballs salad I made. You can see a picture of it (sorta) here on Pinterest, but I didn't really follow the recipe. I just eyeballed it and added things I thought might taste right. And it was suuuuuuper good.

6) Goggled kids in the pool. All day.

7) Cheeseburger. Swiss cheese. Avocado. Spicy mustard.

8) Henry, doing sparklers before it got dark.

9) The sunset just beyond I-5 in Natomas as we got on the freeway.

10) My bed, lookin' all kinds of awesome. Or me, getting to rest for the first time all day. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Peaches, Boys and Thrifting


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I realized a couple of days ago that I hadn't posted anything since last Friday. My 'daily post' thing isn't a hard and fast rule, so I figured I'd make it a full week off. I don't have anything exciting to report or any great realizations to share. But sometimes when you do something all the time, it's nice to not do it for a little bit.

Like laundry, right? Only I did spend a lot of time doing that this week so it wouldn't pile up. Before I left for my trip down to school K came over to rescue me from beneath the eight piles of clean, unfolded laundry on my couch. And then she told me to go run errands and she kept putting things through the washer and dryer and she kept folding. And folding. And HOLY GOD she matched our whole sock basket. So basically now I get up every morning and do a load of wash or two because I feel like if I don't do that, I'm wasting this precious gift. Honestly, it's just more of the same thing I'm feeling about having a housekeeper. I feel like I owe it to the money I'm spending to pick up my stuff in the two weeks between her visits so I can enjoy the clean.

Who would have thought... Gram was right. When you put away your things as you use them, there's so much less work to do.

So what have I been doing? Well. Hmm. A few weeks ago I announced to the world (or my version of it) on Facebook that I was giving up being thin in lieu of being a writer. So that lasted about two days. And now I'm thin! Just kidding. I spent the last week exercising my big self every single day because I can't stand that I can't fit into my clothes right now. So I was all for the moral high ground (ha) of letting myself go if it was in favor of my art, but when it comes to spending more money on clothes I don't actually need? Nope. Most of my week this week was centered around working out, being sore from working out, and trying not to eat junk. I don't feel like I could handle much else, mentally. I didn't write--here or otherwise. I'm hoping I can find a little bit more zen in my habits next week. But for now I feel good to be moving again, and I think I had a breakthrough in the soreness this morning because I can actually walk with both of my feet facing forward again.

I also have to admit that I know it's way easy to be superior about eating whole foods in the summer. When I have fresh peaches on my tree and ripe strawberries from the strawberry stand, I don't need brownies. If I have fresh tomatoes, peppers, and cukes in my garden it's hard to worry about getting as many servings as I need. But in December? Oranges and kale and root vegetables just don't get me as jazzed as summer produce. I'm sorry. I know that makes me not awesome enough to be a food blogger. But this week I ate salads with rainbows of growing things and I felt like a beast and it all tasted amazing... I don't have a lot of faith that it will be like that in the dark days of Winter.  BUT. I've been freezing fruits a lot this week, both for jam and for smoothies. Drinking a smoothie every day (almond milk+spinach+frozen banana+almond butter+other frozen fruits) is the one ACTUALLY healthy thing I do all the time. Because I like it. So I figured why not save some of this good stuff and drink it when things look bleak at the supermarket. So right now I've got peaches, apricots, cherries, and strawberries all in the freezer.  You're welcome for that update on my breakfast supply, BTW.

So in between jam prep (I picked about a third of the fruit on my tree--see above) and being stuck on my couch in pain this week I did do several interesting things. In my attempt to find a lunchbox that Henry was describing to me because some kid at school has it (it was a bento-type) I tumbled down the rabbit hole of Pinterest pins and Mommy Blogs where all they do is POST PICTURES OF AMAZING LUNCHES. Holy crap, I lost like two days to that. And then I started looking at all the amazing bento options for lunch boxes... that was like at least another day right there. I am a sucker for a divided plate (I spent all kinds of time ebay-ing vintage Tupperware this week too, Lord help me) or a reusable food thing (see: my addiction to buying reusable water bottles) so it was only a matter of time. I don't have any illusions of making my kids dinosaur themed lunches, but it would be nice to ditch the plastic baggies.

The answer is no, I didn't find what Henry was looking for. This is as close as I came, but he says it's not right. In my search I came across many amazing things, and I think I'll be ordering this for myself before school starts. Because, you know. Addiction. And because I need to eat my food out of little cubbies like a toddler.

But anyway.

My nephews all came over yesterday for a few hours, and while they can have the collective effect (when combined with my children) of a mild hurricane, everyone played well and had fun and nothing broke. So, success.

Two things happened in the last 24 hours that changed my life:

1. I watched Bull Durham.  Yeah.

2. I finally took Tracy's (you know, T on the C!) advice and went to Thrift Town, where I promptly bought several hundred dollars worth of clothes for work for $30.

E and I had a non-date kind of date tonight where we ran errands and randomly had sushi, and I have to say it was the perfect ending to this week. I's happy, yo.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer Read: East of Eden




East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Some books are just meant to be read during the summer. They need to be approached without a timetable. They're full of big, sweeping landscapes and generations of families. They can't be hurried. The Thorn Birds is one of those books. So is Gone With The Wind. I cracked the cover on East of Eden when I got to Palm Springs for residency. I knew I wouldn't finish it while I was there (it's 600 pages... come on!) but I figured I'd get good and invested while I had a pool and a hotel room all to myself.

I can't admit to already being a big Steinbeck fan. I taught Of Mice and Men for years and I like it well enough, but my forays into other Steinbeck novels were brief and frustrating. I'm sure I came to them unprepared to read slowly and absorb. I've tried to read Tortilla Flat, Cannery Row and The Grapes of Wrath at some point in the last ten years and abandoned them all. Something about my reading has changed in the last two or three years, though, and I'm much more willing to sit patiently with something to try to enjoy it than I was--I used to be all about reading quickly and trying to get to the end. Probably speaks to my trying to let go of the "I'll be happy when-s." But I loved this book. It was beautiful.

East of Eden follows several generations of the Hamilton and Trask families and their lives in the Salinas valley of California. The book is first and foremost a loving description of California, and those long, descriptive passages I used to abhor in my reading were completely enjoyable here. Steinbeck captures California in a way that made me want to take a road trip down the 101. The core of this book is the echo and re-imagining of the Cain and Abel story from Genesis, though. Since my final project for the MFA is on the retelling of old stories, my brain is keyed into this kind of reading right now, but it's interesting from both a literary and spiritual perspective. Not only does Steinbeck work elements of the Cain and Abel tale into his writing, he does so over multiple generations and is thus able to communicate original elements of the story and new thoughts on the issues it presents. This is a story about fathers and sons. The oldest story, after Adam and Eve. It's an amazing work.

I really enjoyed reading this book, and I didn't expect to. I picked it up thinking it was the kind of thing I ought to have read (see: Anna Karenina) and that I would have to stomach it for a few weeks in order to be a part of the culturally literate world. But it was funny and thought-provoking and beautiful. It wasn't the light reading I was thinking I needed after Mrs. Dalloway, but it was completely different in a good way.

My recommendation: Yes! Read it. It's a good summer read. Read it slowly, though. Read it to enjoy.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Religion of Residency


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It's easy to hear God the day after you get back from church camp. Or to think, immediately after an instructional workshop, that you can restructure your entire curriculum and become the best damn teacher, ever. As a teenager, I left my summer ballet intensives feeling like I was going to take the world by storm. And by God, I was going to stretch every day. (And do situps!) Because I knew I should. And when I was in the safe cocoon of the experience, it was easy to think I'd continue to do so regularly. But inevitably, over time, that enthusiasm fades. When E and I attended Retrouvaille to save our failed marriage, it seemed to me like we'd always be able to put the tools of that program into action and we'd never get ourselves into a fight we couldn't fix again. So why wouldn't we keep doing what we needed to do to stay happy, day after day, if we knew it worked? Ha.

Because life doesn't work that way, that's why. You go away for a while and you buy into it--the religion of the experience, the promise of something better and different--but then the toilets need cleaning and the laundry needs doing and somebody always wants a glass of milk and you burned the pancakes and somebody called the principal to talk about how crummy you are at your job and all of the sudden between panic attacks and saying "I'm tired" too much, you're normal again. Suddenly you're just being habitual because it's easier. And you know you're not doing what you know you should do but you don't know why.

I've been thinking a lot about this phenomenon specifically because I'm just back from "Nerd Camp," or my second (of five) residencies for my MFA in creative writing. I'm feeling all kinds of inspired. I'm trying to write just 500 words a day (in addition to my blather right here, which doesn't feel much like much) because that seems manageable. So far so good, but I'm waiting for the moment the excitement fades. The moment where I stop getting to be me--writer, reader, napper, gardener, eater of vegetables--and have to start being what I have to be to all those other people--teacher, mom, daughter, model employee, buyer of toilet paper at Costco.

And in my usual way of creating things for myself to worry about, I already worry about the day in the future--the one that is already coming way faster than I want it to--when I won't be in an MFA program anymore and I won't be getting my shot in the arm every six months from hanging out with fellow nerds and writers. People who want the same thing. People who also believe it's reasonable to work toward such a goal. I never, ever, ever thought I'd be that person who wants to stay in grad school forever. And here I am.

Because when I'm at residency, I feel like writing, this thing I want, is entirely real. And possible. And (not yet, but someday) within my reach. After December's residency I came home with this exact confidence. For the first time in my life I was surrounded by other people who have too much to write all the time and can't keep themselves from scribbling ideas and paragraphs and think that's normal. I felt like yes, I can--I will be a writer. I am a writer. I was ready to say no to obligations that would keep me from writing. (Oh, the plans I had to become less involved at work!) And I was ready to make writing a priority. I was on fire. And it faded almost completely. It faded so much that I started to feel like the idea of making this writing thing a real thing was a fantasy, the kind one ought not to talk to others about because it sounds kind of dreamy and dumb.

The best workshops and camps and programs I think are the ones that have some kernel you can hang on to. The changes that have stuck with me are the ones I've put immediately and consistently into practice. I used to tell my ballet students to choose one thing per class--one muscle to control or movement to master--and to try to concentrate only on that one thing only. Because when you try to fix it all at once, it's too much and your body shuts down. Because, also, learning to control one thing well is amazing. I guess this has to be like that. If I try to do it all now, to change my life in order to make this happen, I am going to give up and live out the rest of my life in front of Bravo TV with an endless chain of Oreo cookies and self-loathing. I know it.

I'd honestly be happy if the one thing that stuck around was this idea that this is a reasonable, attainable thing to want. Whether I write 500 words a day or not, that would be enough.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

School's Out for Summer

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I don't know who ever said his serious face looks like mine. SARCASM.


Today was (finally) the kids' last day of school (finally) so I can (finally) start enjoying summer and (finally) sleeping in and (finally) spending lots and lots of my time doing officially (finally) nothing.  Finally.

I'm so frigging tired. I don't remember most of April, May, and June.

Henry's/my mom's class did a little song and dance performance for the parents for the last day of school. Adorable. But I have to say (and only because I want to read it here and remember it someday) that while he was cute and good and very talented in the dance department (wonder where that comes from...?), homeboy does this weird thing when he performs where he STARES ME DOWN. And at first it's like aw, he's looking right at me but honestly, he doesn't usually smile and then it starts to make me squirm a bit because every other kid is looking at the teacher (or, other kids) and he is, like, dancing and also sizing me up for my failures as a mother. Or seeing my secrets. Perhaps I'm making things up. I don't know. I'm sure he's just nervous. I'm sure writing this this makes me a bad mom. I don't mean it to sound like I don't like watching my kid perform. I do. He's awesome. But E and I decided (as we flipped through the 50 or so pics I took today, all of them with Henry staring straight into my soul) that somebody must have told him somewhere along the line to look the audience in the eye. And honestly, he's a good listener, so he's doing it. And honestly, again, that somebody could have been me. So no more complaining.

Henry sang and danced and it was the cutest thing ever, the end.  I'm sad he's not a first grader anymore, but this whole kids grow up too fast train is moving waaaaay faster than I can handle, in general. I didn't want to be that mom who was always all oh my god, I miss them being babies. But you guys, I do. I miss those little people who used to live in our house even though these big people are pretty awesome and they get their own breakfast for themselves now.

Addie's teacher encouraged her students to bring squirt guns to school today as long as they were "concealed in backpacks" (I know, RIGHT?), so E took Ad shopping and outfitted her with a battery-powered super soaker last night. He told her to take her brother's clip (you don't even dunk the whole gun anymore--that's so 1995) so she could reload faster. She had a blast (yuk, yuk) and she left school happy, soaked, and ready for 5th grade.

Sigh.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What day is it?

No, really. What day is it? I genuinely don't know. Thank God for Google calendar and the 45 million updates I have set on my phone to remind me to do things. You think I'm exaggerating. Or you think these are significant events, like parties and such. But in reality they would be things like "leave the house to pick up kids from school" because even with reminders I have about a 66% success rate of remembering to pick them up from school since I've been home.

Not that I'm complaining. I've been teaching long enough to know I need to enjoy the fuzz out of this summer before it goes away and I'm back cursing the behaviors of hormonally-drunk 14 year olds.

Life is good. I'm glad to be home. We have peanut butter cookies and a really good couch. I've been glad in the last few days for some quiet time in the house with my book and my cats. We're making it our mission to swim as much as possible before August.


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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ribs

The 7th Annual Kynaston Family Rib Cookoff happened again today.

Short version: we didn't win this time. Whaa-waaahhhh.

Long version: It was fun anyway. When is being with my extended family not fun? Half the excitement is the trash-talkin' on Facebook the day of the contest while we all prepare our spice rubs and special sauces. E and I made a modified version of our winning recipe, mustard-crusted spareribs. As per usual, I was the spice maven and E was the CEO of smoking. We served our ribs with a special honey-mustard dipping sauce (only I forgot to get an actual picture of them once they were done and they disappeared too fast!) -- this year we made Hank's Hickory Hogbones with Roo's Hogwash sauce.  Five out of five entries were AMAZING this year, and even though we agreed to go "light" on sides, Gram Lila and Auntie Anne made some delicious (and healthy) salads. We sipped pineapple mojitos. Lis topped it all off with Ho-Ho cake. We had the big vote and then we viewed Aunt Anne's pictures from her recent African safari. What's not to like?

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Oh yeah. The winner this year, and the recipient of the coveted trophy...

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was Uncle Dave.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Monumental Day

Having kids, I learned, is about milestones. As a new parent you sort of get forced into believing these landmarks are your be-and-end-all because every other book you read has a list of what your baby should be doing by now. Invariably your kid will NOT be doing one of the things on that list, and then you will feel the shame halo that is modern parenting. Well-meaning lactation consultants, doctors, and other mothers will reinforce the idea of this universal checklist by asking you constantly when and if your child has done X, Y, or Z.

That's all a load of shit, by the way. I'm not saying I can think of a better way to do it, but all of the comparing that happens between mommies because of those kind of lists is awful. The media has even turned the idea of attachment parenting (the non-listy way of raising a kid) into a competition. It's gross.

Addie walked late. Like, really late. She hated being on her stomach and so she wouldn't crawl, and then she wouldn't roll, and then she just didn't want to walk because she was happy to sit on a blanket and have people come talk to her, thankyouverymuch. Henry walked early, but didn't talk until what is considered very, very, very late. Instead he used a system of mmm!s and pointing to convey what he needed. His doctor sat me down when he was just a year old and told me I should have him tested for Autism. But he had an older sister who was a chatterbox and I'm convinced he just didn't feel like talking. Both of them did things early the other didn't do. Both of them are fine, and in fact, even if they wouldn't have turned out fine (I even hate that characterization) it wouldn't have changed the overwhelming, ineffable way I feel about them. The milestones were arbitrary.

By the time we had Henry I had made up my mind to let go of as much of the guilt as possible and trust my (and E's) instincts to love our monkeys and then do right by them. I think as a result Henry and I were both much happier when he was a baby. Since then our milestones have been less about development and more about the celebrations of gradual breakthroughs--degrees of our collective freedom. Or maybe freedom isn't the right word. We are celebrating do-it-yourself-ness. Success.

Having kids young is great in that it offers the promise of their being older while you're still (relatively) young. Each incremental step toward your kid doing things for him or herself is like a little preview of the freedom you get to have back. I feel younger right now than I did when I was in the necessary responsibility stage of parenting infants and toddlers. I'm more me, at least. I keep telling myself that when I'm in my 40's and both of my kids have graduated high school, I'll be glad we started so early.

These markers of freedom come on gradually. Often they surprise me. I remember with both babies the first time I got to sit at the table and eat a hot meal with everyone else (unencumbered by a hungry mouth attached to my body) felt like a miracle. When bottles went away, and pookies (pacifiers), it felt like we started to travel lighter. When we ditched the diapers for good and everyone could use a toilet reliably, we had a little celebration. Losing the diaper bag was fantastic. Then sleeping through the night or getting one of them in bed without having to put them back 45 times was an event. It took three years for Henry to do that. Homeboy was not sleeping for nuthin'.  My being able to pee, or bathe, alone, was a happy surprise for years.

I've been pleased for a long time that they could get themselves up and out of bed on the weekends and turn on the TV. But at 7 and 9 they still pretty much rely on me for morning support, or at least, food. I've been maintaining for a long time that the next big breakthrough is going to be when they're big enough to pour their own cereal and milk. With that success I'll have the option to sleep in again. I might not choose to use it, but I'll have the choice. There are sick days and tired days where that will really matter. I've been helping that along, sometimes, by pouring cereal the night before and placing two cups of milk in the fridge. But even that requires planning.

This morning I woke up at 8:30, which is late, late for me. The house was quiet. I rubbed my eyes and dragged myself out into the kitchen, wondering why I hadn't heard from anyone yet. I figured maybe Henry was sleeping in because he's sick. Addie is usually the later sleeper of the two.  But I walked out and each monkey was in his or her respective room, playing quietly. On the sink were two bowls of milk with leftover crumbs of Life cereal in them.

You guys, It happened. Addie got down two bowls, pulled out two spoons, poured cereal and then poured milk from the gallon jug and put it back in the fridge. ALL BY HERSELF.

We've reached Level II Cereal Mastery. *golf clap*

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Sickies. Still.

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Ugh, I hate watching my boy be so sick. This morning we tried. We really did. We made a great big effort to get him off to school for his awards ceremony and field trip to the mall. But we should have taken the bad bout of tummy trouble he had after breakfast as a sign to just stay home. Poor dude. After he got sick he seemed okay so we showered him and dressed him up in his school T-shirt. But he just couldn't do it.

I could tell when my mom (yep, Grandma is his teacher) called his name for his citizenship and honor roll awards that he wasn't going to make it through the day. Even from the back of the room I could tell his eyes still look sunken in and he has none of his regular Henry energy. His face has a shadow on it that's not normally there.

He got his awards, he smiled for a picture. But I brought him home to go back to bed. We're going to have to give this thing another day.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Blah-g

You know that thing where you get home from vacation and you empty out all the moldy food in your fridge and you're all there is no food in this house because I've been gone for two weeks and you decide heyI'm going to just run to the store to pick up a few things and then you're all well, I better feed the dog, too... he likes eating... and then you're like damn, I better go to Costco because we're out of TP, too and then you get to Costco and you suddenly realize that instead of the three items you wrote on your list (because as you were going out the door you remembered that you need AA batteries to make ALL of the things in your house run) you discover that really, you need, like, 14 items that all cost $16.99 each and it doesn't make sense to pay $5 for tiny hummus at the grocery store when you can get your very own giant hummus right there for 40 cents more. And then you know how you're all I guess I better run home in between Costco and the grocery store even though that wasn't the plan, because now you have a pound of lunchmeat and a sensible brick of Tillamook in your trunk and it's approaching 90 degrees outside? So you run home and schlep it all in the house? And then you pause and you're like I really wish I could just skip the damn grocery store, I'm so tired and it's already somehow almost noon, and you give that some serious thought, but then you realize there's no stretching it through this week without milk or produce, so you go to the ONE store where they have ribs on sale for $1.69 pound because your annual Father's Day Rib Cookoff is this weekend and you are NOT paying an extra 30 cents a pound, darnit, or making another trip to the store before Sunday, and you get there and they don't even have any ribs? And you spend your entire day wandering aisles and unpacking food and washing produce and suddenly it's 7:37 PM and you're like wow, that is one day of summer I can never get back?

That.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fingers crossed.

Home! Phew!

We didn't get in as much four-of-us time at Disneyland as I hoped (since E and I alternated time all day yesterday in the hotel room with our sick little man and time in the parks with Miss Roo). But the time we did spend together before Barfgate 2012 hit was pretty darn good. I have said it a million times already, but there is nothing (nothing!) like seeing Disneyland through your kids' eyes. Nothing. Henry was stuck in a loop of "this is awesome"s. Ad was reserved in her enthusiasm for the most part. She is just at the age where things are starting to embarrass her, and I can tell pretty soon that our trips are going to be a little bit different. I want to soak up as much of this kid thing as I can before she decides she's too cool for school.

I left Anaheim feeling a little bit down about Henry not being able to see and do everything he wanted to, but the overriding feeling in the room last night was that we needed to get home quickly. E and I still aren't sure if we're going to catch whatever he had (fingers crossed that we don't), and the last place we wanted to be stuck was in a hotel room 350 miles from home. I am every kind of exhausted you can imagine. My brain was weary after leaving residency, now my legs and feet are just as tired.

The drive home was good. Henry is still really sleepy, but not getting sick every half hour like yesterday. He's been laying on his floor building Legos and drinking Gatorade since we got back. I take both as good signs.

I feel like I have so much to process from my week in the desert. Hopefully this week has lots of quiet time.


IMG_9054Special thanks to Debbie Williamson for our special meeting with her "friend" Minnie Mouse! So nice to see her today. :) I'm so proud.Henry's first roller coaster ride. Ever. (He just kept saying "This is awesome. This is awesome. This. Is. Awesome.") Addie's first time on California Screamin'. Big day.IMG_2726IMG_9066IMG_9076IMG_9081IMG_9092IMG_9094IMG_9098IMG_9099

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Poor Bud

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0.6 miles from this room, people are queueing up and eating Mickey pretzels and zipping through mountains.

Henry is sleeping in the bed next to me, his tummy dancing up and down with uncontrollable gurgles. The air conditioner in our hotel room won't turn on. It's clammy, still air we're breathing. He has some kind of stomach bug, and he hasn't left the hotel room today at all.

We were up early today to go into Disneyland for our early-entry morning, and he said he didn't feel well. I thought he was complaining that I dragged him from his bed at 5:45. He didn't make it out the door before barfing. He hasn't stopped since, and he's been doing the same every half hour or so. His skinny little body can't even keep down water or a Saltine.

Roo and I went to the park early this morning and we got on a bunch of rides before the crowds hit, but she was pretty quiet and sullen without her buddy. At lunch time I came back here and E and I switched places. I'm glad Roo is having a good time, but I feel so bad for my little man. I can't think of a worse time for a kid to be sick than on the last day of a Disneyland trip.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Day 9 & 10: It's over for now.

I'm playing catch-up. I've been running like crazy since Saturday.

Saturday the kids and E came down to visit me and see where we have residency. Their flight was getting in at about 8:30 so I had an early drive into Ontario. I accidentally stumbled upon the dinosaurs when I took a random exit to get coffee at a Burger King.


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I've been to the Ontario airport so many times for Mock Trial, but never driven there myself. I can't tell you how proud I was to find it on my own in the car. Every time I successfully drive somewhere in Southern California all by myself I feel like I've earned some kind of merit badge. The skies in Ontario were a disgusting gray that helped me remember just why I like Palm Springs/Rancho Mirage so much.

I got a little teary greeting E and the kids. I missed them so bad. We explored the hotel and hit the pool before I had workshop, then he took them to see Madagascar 3. We had a quick dinner at Yard House across from the hotel before I had to hurry back to the room to shower for graduation and the end-of-residency party. By this time I was feeling incredibly tired of wearing makeup and doing my hair every day. But you do what you gotta do.

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I suppose I shouldn't have been in such a hurry to be on time. The thing didn't start until almost 9:00.

But graduation was nice, and I enjoyed seeing my friends walk across the stage. It's incredibly different to be a part of this thing when I have an idea of who everyone is. I made nearly all of the 85 people in the program take pictures with me (I won't post them all here for fear of looking like a total dork), and I danced the night away with my fellow nerds. That kind of dorkiness doesn't bother me.

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My first residency in December felt so much more frantic. It was good food for thought, but it was really scary for me. I hate hate hate coming into new situations where I don't know anyone. I pushed myself to meet people, but it took every ounce of energy and courage I had.

People were nice, sure. But I didn't yet have the sense I have now about these relationships being for life. In December I kept seeing the same faces all over the hotel but not really knowing if they were faculty or students or visiting guests. It seemed to me then that everyone else knew each other and I shouldn't intrude when they were deep in conversation.

I'm not sure when the transition happened--was it online after December? on Facebook?--but somehow now I know who I can text if I'm out of class and I want to hang out. I know who to go to for gossip and who to go to for advice on my writing. I know my professors and the visiting guests are (mostly) not scary. I know who wants to eat pickles with me on my porch. I know that I can sit down and talk to anyone. I know how much the new people need someone to reach out to them.

This residency just felt comfortable, like being at nerd camp with my friends. I feel the same camaraderie I saw other people enjoying at meals last time. I left feeling the same sense of motivation and inspiration when it comes to my work, but also feeling a warm sense of community.

Community rocks, y'all.