Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sweatin' Myself Thin


(Ha. When it's hot like this I don't want to drink . . . however, I do want to eat ice cream. That yummy Brigham's Mocha Almond in my freezer is no more, no more, no more, no more. Though it lasted a full week [I'm the only one eating it; my family tends to eschew our friend the nut], and that's something. I guess.)

We're looking at four straight days of 90+ heat here in Boston, so today the Chardonnays hauled the fans out of the basement and up the stairs, assembly-line style, and this year I smartened up and made us disassemble them and clean off all the big clots of dust before turning them on. Whooee, the disgusting dust storms of yesteryear!

(Now all I'll have to deal with are the dust bunnies and cat-fur clumps that come rolling out from under the beds like tumbleweeds . . . but that is a problem for Chore Day.)

Not much to say. My daughter is still sad, which puts a pall on most everything.

But:

Happy birthday, Mrs. Cynicletary!!

I am very, very glad you were born, my beloved glamorous redheaded babe-a-luscious besty!

Today I said goodbye to my Math kids, which was very sweet and touching. Several of them asked me to come to their birthday parties. Littlejay wants me to live with her. Emmy wants me to be her other mom. Glum Albie pretended to frown when I hugged him goodbye, but he couldn't pull it off and gave me a big smile. Such cutie patooties — I will really miss them, though I'm delighted to have my days back to myself.

Tomorrow I have my penultimate Math Practice meeting (I think we're off for the summer), then Mrs. C and I will celebrate her natal day with a delicious boozy lunch at Summer Shack, and then of course I have some work to do. (Hic! Should be great.) But I think I get the weekend off, which is lovely.

We're having old friends for dinner on Saturday, and I'm making salmon with cilantro-caper-lime salsa and bumbleberry pie. On Sunday I teach my penultimate OWL class (we're also off for the summer) — lots of time is opening up for me, which is great since, as I feared, two of my clients have already slipped with their deadlines, and next week I'll be pelted with giant gobs of editing work. But it will be fine. I've had some free time this week and got caught up on a lot of things and can finally exhale a little.

If you're a praying sort, please say a prayer for sad Mimosa. Fifteen, man — you couldn't pay me to go back there.

Off to soak off my sweat in the tub. G'night!

—Lady C

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Highlights, Lowlights

My daughter is sad. She's not doing well in school and she's so down on herself about it, it makes her withdraw even further into depression. I spent most of the weekend trying to get her out of her shame spiral, with moderate success.

A mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child, and it's been a tough couple of days.

Tomorrow she and I are meeting with her English teacher to talk about what she needs to do to pull her grade up between now and the end of the year. She won't get an A but she won't get an F either, and as long as she does her best I couldn't care less what her grade is.

Though I was (and am) such an A-seeking brown-noser, it fascinates me that neither one of my children is remotely motivated by grades. Truly — A or C, they don't care in the least. This could not be more foreign to me.

Then on Thursday, Husband and I are meeting with Mimosa's guidance counselor and social worker to talk about her plan for next year, and we'll check in with them regarding the current situation and if they think any more personal teacher conferences are called for.

It will all be okay, and I think she'll feel better once this teacher meeting is out of the way. Right now, she says she's afraid she'll cry during it. I told her that I would cry too, and then her teacher would be faced with two weeping redheads, and what would the poor man do then???? and this made her laugh. I hope I can keep her laughing.

So once again, I'm fishing for joy pockets where I can find them:
  • I finished a big project, finally — proofing the last 70 pages of Snowy. There'll still be more to do, but the hardest part is done. Yay! (And Katie P, m' dear, I sent my favorite author to your blog to read your Twitter 101 post — she is going to start Tweeting but hasn't the faintest idea how to begin, so she's very excited to have you virtually hold her hand for her First Time.)
  • Zumba was great, as always, and I made the class laugh. (I'd tell you about it, but it was a visual. Trust me, I was funny.)
  • I just had a small bowl of Brigham's Mocha Almond ice cream, yum. And fiber-full!
  • I'm about to take a bath and read Jodi Picoult's latest, The Storyteller, which so far I'm enjoying very much. Nazi hunters, cheating morticians, and artisan bread, what a yarn!
  • I have fresh clean sheets to sleep in tonight, hot-pink flannel, and my cute fingernails are painted five shades of green with splotches of two blues. I told one of my Math kids today that this is the color of dragon skin, and he said with great scorn, "No it is not. Dragons are red." I was ready to come to blows over the color of this imaginary animal, but I thought better of it, being the adult and all. (But he's totally wrong, idiot child.)
Off to the tub, I am sweaty and stinky. And chubby and creaky and crampy. These are not the sexy slinky adjectives I yearn for, I must say.

I think I need the Bathe Yourself Thin diet.

xx Lady C

Sunday, May 26, 2013

It Was 22 Years Ago Today

On September 26, 1991, I had the greatest first date of my life. I'd met this really nice guy, doing volunteer work for our local rape crisis center (all the guy volunteers were nice), and we'd had a couple of hilarious and heartfelt phone conversations, ostensibly about future speaking engagements, and I couldn't quite tell whether we were flirting, and I also thought that such a good catch had to be married or gay, and also I had a boyfriend at the time, but anyway:

I mustered my wits and asked him out. Though I did it in a very low-key way, in case I'd completely missed the boat regarding his level of interest.

Yeah, guess what? Totally the right boat.

And I had a plane ticket in my pocket at the time, ready to return to the nest, live at home with the 'rents, and go to grad school — the American Dream! But instead I fell in love on my first date with Husband, stayed in Boston, and got married. And had kids and put down roots and built a home and a life.

When Bride Boy was here last month, he asked if I still planned to move back to California some day . . . and I literally did a double-take; it's been so long since that was even on my radar. Right now, no; the kids are in their first years of middle and high school; we're not going anywhere till Martini graduates from Arlington High. And after that — who knows? But I don't see me leaving New England. I love my life here.

Anyway. Because our first date was so eventful (finding The One is pretty memorable!), we celebrate its anniversary each year along with our wedding anniversary. Our practice is to go to a bookstore, buy each other a book, and then have dinner somewhere nice (and read our new books! We are nerds). Sometimes the kids join us, sometimes they don't. My proposed plan for #22 was a visit to New England Mobile Book Fair, then dinner at a Russian restaurant we adore, then come home and watch some of our backlog of that TV show about the Russian spies in America that we really like but never remember to watch. (So, see? Themed!)

But this plan got slightly derailed by the series finale of Smash, which Mimosa and I have to watch together in real time; we love this nutty show; we are totally grieving. Let's celebrate tomorrow! I said. Except . . . Russian restaurant not open on Mondays. Черт!

(That's "damn!" in Russian. Now you know.)

But we celebrated nonetheless, with a family trip to Target (new soap dispenser! The one in our pink bathroom is cracked and leaking. Plus tampons, Tic-Tacs, and birthday presents for my mom and Mrs. Cynicletary!) and a fabulous three-dessert dinner at Macaroni Grill, where we had a 10% off coupon. Nothing says 22 years of romance like Target and money-saving coupons, amirite?

(We also had our usual trouble finding our destination; I'm a MapQuest girl and have navigated around the U.S. successfully with it, though it never seems to work quite right when I'm with Husband; he's a map man who eschews written directions; we get lost a lot. But we laugh about it. And it felt right to celebrate our multiple decades together driving along unfamiliar back roads going, "OK, see anything that looks like anything?" May we have many decades more of this!)

And we'll do our cool Russki date on Thursday, no sweat.

Today I am also celebrating the birth of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Mrs. Fog Dog, currently residing in Battle Ground, Washington. Her birthday rituals include clean sheets, breakfast in bed while she opens my presents, and rhubarb pie, and I am thrilled to be part of it, even 3,000 miles away. I miss her tons and tons.

Signing off now, to drink coffee and watch TV with my cherub. Happy three-day weekend! (Yes, I worked today, also yesterday, but I plan to do none, zero, NO editing tomorrow! Though I may do some more birthday shopping. May and June, man, they are my killer birthday-shopping months. And I have one last thing I want to get for Mrs. Cynicletary, and I can't believe how hard it is to find!!)

G'night!

—Lady C, who has been on a date for 22 years now

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Finding Joy Pockets in a Sea of Crazy

Work work work, it's all I know, it's all I do, but I keep on keeping on — and every day, there are random bits of happy to break up the monotony of sitting in front of my computer, reading, correcting, rewriting, accepting, day in, day out. For example:

Last night I'd planned to make my usual Perfect Chicken and I was going to concoct a quinoa salad with olives and feta to go with it, but I couldn't find my quinoa anywhere. This got me rummaging through my chicken recipes . . . and I ended up making the most fabulous Greek chicken and pasta dish, with Penzey's yummy Greek Seasoning and grape tomatoes and mushrooms and scallions and mild green olives and a crazy-good lemony sauce, and I sprinkled feta on top, and I LOVE finding a new recipe!!

Today I had my Math Practice kids create their own story problems, and my Princesses and Littlejay made up adorable stories about dolphins and puppies and cupcakes, and then it was Glum Albie's turn. Here is what he came up with:
There were ten ninjas. Five of them DIED. How many were left?
I laughed for a year.

Tonight at zumba the Italian Spitfire asked me what I wanted for a cool-down song, and I picked "Feeling Good" by Michael Bublé, which is such a sexy song to dance to, your hips start bumping and grinding on their own, I swear. But she couldn't get it to play at first so I started singing it, and the lady next to me did a double take and said, "You sound just like him."

Ladies and gentlemen, I am Michael Bublé.

During my shower this morning, I could tell that my face and my knees are noticeably thinner — I could feel bones closer to the skin than usual. I haven't lost a lick o' weight, I'll be holding at 250 till the cows come home, but by golly you should see my slender knees and cheekbones.

My fingernails are painted like little strawberries — bright red with tiny black dots, and green stems on the tips. (Mine are cuter than this picture — the stem is much thinner and more graceful — but it gives you the idea.) Now, is the cuteness keeping me from picking at my cuticles?

Ha ha ha ha. A cuticle-picking ceasefire is not one of my joy pockets, I fear.

Right now, my immediate future is bright with exciting possibilities, starting with finishing my delicious Starbuck's coffee and taking a hot shower (I am SO sweaty and gross. During our slinky cool-down, I bent down to stretch my calf and a big drop of sweat fell in my ear. Sexy). Also cleaning the cat box, but we'll skip right over that.

And then . . . shall I watch the last three episodes of The Middle, a show I thoroughly enjoy and always forget to watch and am finally catching through the miracle of Netflix?

Or shall I read either of my two excellent library books?

Or shall I watch one of the movies I brought home from the library today — Notting Hill or Stranger Than Fiction or Shutter Island?

Or shall I do the Sunday Globe crossword puzzle, a treat I look forward to all week?

Exciting options abound!

—Lady C, feeling good

p.s. Sending many prayers of love and support to Good Neighbor Anne, who has two parents in various medical facilities at present; to Lady Darcy, whose husband is undergoing a variety of medical procedures; to Arty Jenny, who's got a brand-new knee, which I will visit tomorrow; and to my dear awesome Brunie, who's auditioning for Jeopardy! this week !!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Over! Done! Success! Yay! (Collapse)

I did it — everything on my packed to-do list and then some. And it all went great — church Annual Meeting was a success and the candidates I recruited were all voted in, with only one tiny diva fit and one arguing bully whom I talked down; the wedding party was a blast and I have lots of leftover Prosecco and squashy cream cake in my fridge, which is how I spell h-a-p-p-i-n-e-s-s; all editing + math work got done and submitted on time; and fabby presents are winging their way westward to Mrs. Fog Dog as we speak.

Today I sat down to figure out my schedule between now and June 25, when the kids and I fly to California; I've had lots of people request work from me, and I've been putting them all off because I didn't have time to think about it. But here it is: I can take every job being offered to me if they all meet their deadlines, and this means that I'm booked into July. This is crazytown; I have never worked this steadily for so many different clients! But it's all good. And I teach my last Math Practice session on May 31, so that will free up 10 hours a week for me, which will help a lot.

But I just got home from OWL and I'm exhausted, so I'm now going to put my feet up, sip some coffee, and read. And go to bed early.

Just wanted to report that I didn't collapse! I know you were worried.

Hasta la vista, baby.

—Lady C

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On the Brink, Possibly Tipping

Before Sunday, I have to:
  • Edit four lessons in a high school science curriculum, very technical and science-y and hard
  • Prepare the materials to get our governing body elected at my church's Annual Meeting—ballot and blurbs about the candidates, one of whom is ignoring my calls and e-mails, and I'm ready to deck him
  • Figure out what I'm supposed to say at said meeting about our "process" of choosing candidates (we beg until someone says yes?)
  • Host a wedding party for two ladyfriends who are legally tying the knot in the D.C. area this weekend
  • Finish shopping for Mrs. Fog Dog's birthday presents and get her package in the mail in a timely fashion (her birthday's the 26th) so I don't have to pay exorbitant postage fees as I did last year
  • Finish doing data entry for my Math Practice boss
  • Do Version 2 of the math overview book she's dreaming of; she didn't love Version 1
  • Finish updating the Policy Handbook for my church
I am so fried. Tonight I felt like I was moving through gravy as I tried to do zumba.

Time for some bath therapy!! And maybe a slug of tequila.

—Lady C, slightly catatonic blogatrix

p.s. I did have an additional editing job for this week, but I girded my loins and told that client she'd have to wait till next week. I expect she'll grumble at me tomorrow, but I can take it.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

M Is for . . . Maudlin?

I know, I know, I said I would post more often — but the last week or so has been such a symphony of crap, and my work schedule still hasn't let up for a second, so it felt the opposite of a win-win to take valuable time I couldn't spare to post about all the annoying things that keep happening to me . . .

But! My lucky readers — today is the day!

(Actually — you know how you put off a minor chore and then it feels like it starts to grow, larger and more oppressive, till it feels virtually undo-able? That's how "getting caught up on my blog" was starting to feel to me. Best to just dive in and get it over with, even though this will likely be a non-fun post. Sorry!)

So — what's been going on, you ask?

Work work work. I seem to be scheduled through June, when I'm taking a much-needed vacation (and I completely miscalculated the day school gets out, so my kids are missing the last four days of school, which I now have to deal with — I am an idiot). It's great to have the money — in theory, anyway, since several of these jobs have not actually resulted in money yet (cough . . . Penguin bastards . . . cough), but it's a little scary to see my schedule so tightly locked, since new people call me regularly and I have almost nothing to offer them. I work at night, I work on weekends, I work all the damn time. But yes, I recognize that this is a quality problem.

Penguin, my new nemesis. They are not, let's say, "overly happy" with the job I did on the Clive Cussler book, which of course I am horrified to hear. Please, I beg, give me some feedback, let me know what I did wrong. This request led to an exchange that I still can't quite wrap my head around. Here's a little taste of it for you:
  • Boss Penguin: When you made an edit on the laid-out copy, you didn't write the page numbers from the actual book next to your edit.
  • Me: Wow . . . um . . . I'm sorry, but I would swear that no one told me to do that. 
  • Boss Penguin: No, because our other editors know to do it.
  • Me: They . . . just know?
  • Boss Penguin (brightly!): Yes!
  • Me: They . . . magically . . . just know?
  • Boss Penguin (less brightly): Yes.
  • Me: How . . . wonderful.
Two things: (1) Besides not being stated to me, this request is not mentioned anywhere in their 20-page style guidelines. (2) I've been a professional editor and proofreader for 20 years, and no one has ever asked me to do proofing this way. (Once you're in the proofing stage, the original parent document is no longer relevant.)

And the whole conversation pretty much went like that: "Here's another thing that you didn't do, that we never asked you to do, and boy are we mad about it." Since my test was so good they want to give me another chance, but it was made very clear that this is a huge concession on their part. And I am truly torn; the stubborn perfectionist side of me wants to do one more job, just to show them that I am awesome, and the realistic side of me says, Seriously? When I have clients who love me and pay almost three times the Penguin rate, I'm going to willingly engage in a round of 'See If You Can Read My Mind Now'?"

But in any event, they still haven't paid me for a job I did more than a month ago. There was a problem with my first invoice, because I didn't put my Social Security Number on it, which you have to do on your first invoice.

See if you can guess what I'm going to say next:

Nowhere in the two single-spaced pages of instructions on how to submit an invoice did it mention this.

Did you guess right? Hey, maybe you can be a Penguin editor!

Anyway, my invoice got "kicked out" of the system, so I submitted a second one, which got forwarded to the wrong person, even though I named the correct person on the invoice itself. Boss Penguin's assistant called and asked if I could send a third one. I said sure — "but," I said, "what is to guarantee that the same thing won't happen again? Can't the wrong person simply forward my invoice to the correct person?" I would like to quite Boss Penguin assistant's response for you now:

"Ohhhh . . . I'll get back to you."

Yeah. The mind reels.

(And no, she has not gotten back to me.)

Poverty and squalor. We really really really need more money right now. I am still trying to pay off that $3K car bill from January, and other stuff just keeps happening. I had a hole in one of my crowns (my teeth are crap. It is so unfair. I groom and shellac and spay and do every single thing you're supposed to do for good dental health, but the genetic dental gods figured I already had enough gifts, ha ha, and they cursed my mouth. What can I do) to the tune of $400, then our water heater needed a new thermo-coupler, which Service Guy #1 couldn't fix because only Sears can fix this particular thermo-coupler, which didn't stop Service Guy #1 from charging us $200, then Service Guy #2, a Sears guy, charged an additional $100+ (the heater, fortunately, is still under warranty, and we learned a valuable lesson: Always Call Sears. Perhaps I should've had them do my crown), plus our car insurance went up by $200 (long story, more learnings), plus our property tax is due again, and I keep voting enthusiastically for all these tax increases because I love our schools and I know they need the dough, but man this bill is getting bigger!!!, and the side mirror on Husband's car got knocked off and needs to be replaced, and it's spring, and remember when the giant tree in my yard got ripped out by last year's storm? yeah, so now I've got a gaping hole in the front yard, and I need to plant something, a large-ish something, and large-ish somethings aren't cheap. And summer's coming, and the kids are each doing two camps, and three of the four are on the pricey side, but nonetheless, they still have these big blocks of empty time in July, and I'd love to find something for them to do so they're not around the house all day bugging me when I need to work.

Anyway. Lots of bills. And it's great that I'm bringing in more money, but it seems to go right back out again.

Black lung. I'm still coughing up lung crap like a coal miner. Bride Boy, what whack-ass form of tuberculosis did you give me???

But wait — there's more! The sad thing is that there's even more going on (we didn't have hot water for seven straight days, two of my bestys are dealing with significant health issues in their immediate families, the curriculum I'm editing for the UUs is making me gag, I may punch my minister, yada yada), but just writing this much has worn me straight out.

Anyway. Now you know what I've been doing: working, and not showering. ☺

But! Today is Mothers Day, one of my very special days, and I am determined to wring out every drop of joy that can be wrung from it!! (Even though I have a little headache. But I'm ignoring it.)
  • My day started with coffee in bed, reading the new book about The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and presents! 
  • Mimosa gave me dark chocolate and bubble bath and the most awesome card: "Mom—thought you might appreciate a little love and gratitude for Mother's Day . . . unless bowing before the awesomeness of your power would make you happier." And it plays a snippet from "Respect" when you open it. Maximally fabby!!!!
  • Li'l Martini gave me a set of homemade coupons, which is a tradition, and I use every one of them. This one included "A day of praising you," "Unlimited cuddle time," and "I will leave you alone for a full hour while you're working." Priceless.
  • Plans for the day include a good workout (I know it will make me feel better), lunch at Za, an afternoon on the couch with all my good books and some cold white wine, dinner at Summer Shack, the Survivor finale, and a hot bubble bath if I can squeeze it in. And lots of cuddle time with my adorable awesome children! And no work!! It will be a lovely day.
It needs to stop raining now. I want to walk on the bike path, and somehow doing it with an umbrella seems . . . weird. Stop raining, world! It's Mother's Day!

I'll let you know if the universe heard my plea.

The happiest of days to you all!

much love,

Lady C, infrequent blogatrix

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!

Husband, kids, and I just saw a live simulcast of this show at the Fenway theater in downtown Boston, which was total fun but my legs are very crampy from sitting in movie theater seats . . .

. . . because I took a long walk earlier today; I realized last night (as I minced down my hill — I am still ridiculous going down hills) that I have hardly been walking at all and vowed to do more of it starting today, BUT . . .

. . . I wasn't able to take a long hot bath afterward, which my arthritic knees truly long for after a bout of the exercise; instead I took a shower that was extremely unsatisfying because . . .

. . . apparently the pilot light on our water heater is not so much . . . lit.

At least, I'm hoping that's all it is, since relighting the pilot light is relatively easy. Well, for me, it's extremely easy, it involves saying, "Honey, I think the pilot light's out." Poor Husband is down there now (literally, as he's both down in the basment and down on his tummy under the water heater). He tried to light it before we left for the movie, but, he said, he reached forward with the match and ran into a small glass door, which our old water heater didn't have, so he came upstairs to dig out the water heater manual, which says, helpfully, "Open small glass door."

Anyway. He says that if I hear an explosion to call 911 and tell the kids he loves them.

In other news, Mimosa's throat feels better but she's got a scratchy voice, and she has to sing in two concerts this weekend. (They're doing a medley of songs from Hair and another from Les Miserables and she will die, die! if she has to miss it!) I'm plying her with hot tea liberally doused with blue agave syrup (we don't have honey, but they seem similar, right?) and prayer. We shall see.

Husband just yelled, "What??" Um, good sign?

I think I'm going to bed.

G'night!

—Lady C, optimist

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I Know I Should Go, But Dang Do I Want to Stay

Husband went grocery-shopping today and got almost everything on the list, but the store didn't have clementines. "No worries," I chirped, "I'll take a little after-dinner walk, stretch my legs, and get some at Trader Joe's!" I've pretty much been in this chair all day, either working or e-mailing or making phone calls in my new role as church power broker — oh, the deals I have spinning . . .

So I need to move, for sure. And dusk is my favorite time to walk.

But Husband also brought me a PEOPLE magazine, and there's just a little cold white wine left in the bottle, and I'm exhausted, as I always am by this point in the day . . . sitting with my feet up before good Wednesday night TV sounds attractive beyond words.

Oh, well. I'm not Catholic but I've got guilt to burn, so off I go.

But first I'm blogging, because I am just that dutiful.

(And I will do anything to keep from climbing Heart Attack Hill, apparently. Bride Boy was extremely scornful of my hill, though he never actually walked it; we simply drove up and down it 25 times, while I pointed out how steep and endless it really is, while he scoffed and mocked and made sport. Well, he's young and fit and runs marathons and all, maybe it really did look like nothing to him.)

(I'm missing him; a week ago tonight we were eating artichoke dip and laughing uproariously. But he left me a little something-something, a lingering raspy cough that refuses to [a] turn into a cold or [b] go away, and now Mimosa is complaining of a sore throat, which is awful because she's singing with the high school Pops this weekend, so please send us good healthy throat thoughts.)

Sending a shout-out and much love to two birthday girls: KT in California and Sleepy Susan Kerry here in Massachusetts! I hope your days were full of joy and delight, and also maybe pie.

OK – off to scale Cardiac Crest on a quest for clementines. Also butter and chicken patties and edamame hummus. O how I adore Trader Joe's.

—Lady C