Saturday, March 29, 2008

It's Officially Summer

I'm lying, of course.

After all, it snowed two days ago. It's the end of March and it SHOULDN'T be snowing anymore, but there it is. I'm a fan of snow, but four and a half months of snow is...enough.

But today I went to the grocery store, and I bought watermelon. I was a little concerned about fitting it into my refrigerator, but I needn't have been. I don't think it's going to come to that.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Oops...I Seem to Have Overlooked St. Patrick's Day

I realize that St. Patrick's Day isn't really a "holiday" in the sense that overlooking it seems like much of an issue to most people. It's kind of like overlooking Presidents' Day, except easier because you don't have that annoying experience of pulling up to the drive-up window at your bank and discovering that it's closed to tip you off. But I'm Irish. And I'm sorry right now that nationalities are capitalized, because I really want to put a capital "I" on that for emphasis. I'm Irish.

Usually at St. Patrick's Day, I have a bunch of friends over for dinner and cook corned beef and hang tinsely shamrocks around my house and write IRISH on my front window in gooey green gel letters and even make my one-and-only annual beer purchase.

Today, I realized that it was St. Patrick's Day when I was writing a check at the doctor's office. I just got home from a business trip to New York yesterday and my daughter had a sore throat. Turns out it's strep. So with a sick child, no sleep, work to catch up on, and my new webzine launching tonight, St. Patrick's Day never entered my mind (even though the shamrock on the home page of my OWN WEBSITE should have been a clue...)

Now I'm bummed. I mean, it only comes around once a year. Do you think I can do one of those "Christmas in July" kinds of things? Maybe a St. Patrick's Day cookout or something?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Is Elmo a Con Artist?

Earlier this afternoon, I was walking down 6th Avenue in Manhattan when I encountered...Elmo. Yeah, the little red guy from Sesame Street. Except I'm pretty sure that it wasn't the real Elmo, because he was about my height, and I've frankly always thought of Elmo as a knee-high kind of guy.

Elmo was holding a Christmas stocking--red velvet with gold trim, and very out of season for the edge-of-spring weather. He shook the Christmas stocking as passersby and many of them gave their children money to drop into Elmo's Christmas stocking.

Elmo didn't speak, of course, but he kind of danced around and acted happy when children put money in his stocking, and he motioned people over and gestured to the stocking to encourage them to donate.

Here's the thing that was bugging me: Donate to WHAT?

Now, it's entirely possible that the fake Elmo was collecting for charity, but if that were the case, wouldn't it make sense for there to be a booth or a banner or a sign or a human volunteer or even a SASH to let you know what the charity was?

Nope. Not a sign of any such thing. Just a guy (or girl, maybe) in an Elmo costume shaking a Christmas stocking on the street, and a bunch of people filling it up with money.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Things You Never Expect to Hear Your 12-Year-Old Say...

FINALLY tonight I was feeling better and we started putting some of that huge pile-up of miscellany into storage. We got home a bit late and I ordered a pizza and while we waited for it I was IMing with a friend and my daughter was on the phone. It was pure chance that she was coming down the stairs and passed me just as she said, "His mom got DEPORTED?"

Of course, I had to stop her and question her. Yes, the mother of one of her classmates was deported. In my daughter's words, "She has to go back to Mexico for 3-10 years."

Lately I've been lamenting the lives of children quite a bit. We live in the Chicago suburbs, not the especially affluent suburbs, but still a place where we have green lawns and friendly neighbors and little dogs frolicking behind fences there's a long line of late-model SUVs in front of the school at 3:00.

My daughter has two friends who are in foster care.

She has another friend whose parents have been fighting over custody for more than a year, and during that time she has switched households EVERY SINGLE DAY. She leaves for school from one house and goes home to the other.

She isn't allowed to visit a fourth because we hear the father screaming curses at the children in the background when she's on the phone with her and he reportedly recently threw a chair through the window.

And now, the mother of another of her classmates has been deported.

It bears mentioning that at my daughter's school, each grade is divided into multiple "teams". Teams are constructed based on a variety of factors, and my daughter's team is the one with all of the "ET" kids--the kids who are accelerated in various subjects, who get good grades, who aren't disciplinary problems. In other words, this is as good as it gets.

If these are the circumstances our children are facing in everyday life at 11 and 12, what hope do they have of building the skills and values and confidence and clarity that they'll need in just a few short years? And what will they pass on to their own children? I'm not sure when (or how) I got old enough to think, "What is this world coming to?", but I'm thinking it now.

My Mom Sucks

It's been a couple of weeks since I last posted because I've been sick. Really sick. Fortunately, I work from home, but even so I had to take a sick day and probably should have taken a couple more. For a solid two weeks I drifted in a cycle of work, sleep, soak in a hot tub, repeat. Occasionally the order was shuffled a bit, but no new activities were introduced.

My parents live close to me, and my father drove my daughter to and from school. My mother dropped off food, books, and rental videos. She called every day to ask whether I needed anything, remind me not to go out, and suggest things that I might not realize I needed. She picked up my prescriptions. And about every third day, she told me what a bad mother she felt like because she didn't dare come to my house and cook and clean for me.

My mother is in her sixties and had a triple bypass a couple of years ago. She still has problems with her heart, and she is, to our knowledge, allergic to every anti-biotic. She can't have (and so hasn't had) the flu shot. Still, she felt pretty bad about being afraid to expose herself to my germs.

Just now, I was sitting here eating lunch: egg salad on bread my mom gratuitously brought over midweek ("You haven't been to the store in so long--you must need bread and milk.") with pretzels my mom gratuitously brought over yesterday (along with some lunch meat, a couple of magazines, printer paper that I needed for work and a few other items) and coke from a 2-liter my mom gratuitously brought over at the beginning of the week ("They delivered it free with our pizza."), so I thought I'd take a moment to complain about her. Don't you think she should be over here doing my dishes?