Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fireflies & fireworks

Well, I'm still behind three days on bicycling, but with my shoulder all cocked up, I don't know if it's worth riding tomorrow. Who am I kidding, though -- I'm gonna do it anyway. I miss the ride.

And the summery challenge is clipping along okay. I -- aw crap. I can't remember what the hell I did on Tuesday. Oh wait! Movie in the park! The movies in the park program has easily been my favorite city perk in recent years. There is something so magical about watching a movie, new or favorite, under summer stars. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was showing at Portage Park, so even though we'd seen it before, we packed up some blankets and settled in for an evening of film and merriment. (When you have kids, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs counts as film.) AJ had tweaked his knee in football camp that day, so he mostly just lay on the blanket and texted people as Hannah crawled all over him and played with her dad's iPhone. Of the four of us, Peter and I were by far the most invested in the movie. Sadly, I missed my favorite part, where Earl/Mr. T squinches up his butt in preparation for judo moves. I guess I had a good time anyway...I guess.

Last night, I kinda hosed it. I mean, I could say the grilling steaks counts as a quintessentially summery activity, but it really doesn't -- I grill year-round. In the winter it's not uncommon to see bare footprints in the snow on our deck leading up to the grill -- I mean, if you want a bratwurst and it's cold outside, you can't let that make you do something crackheaded like steam the bratwurst, can you? But the day and the night got away from me, and before I knew it, I was asleep.

But tonight, Hannah and I caught fireflies in a jar, chasing them up and down the block, ferreting them out of tomato and pumpkin vines, jumping in the air to pretend to grab them. They wouldn't light up in the jar, though, so we let them out, and that seemed to make them happy; all of them lit up as they flew up into the sky. We turned on the lights strung in a tree in the side yard and read books in the pool of yellow light. We played a couple of games of Bingo on the deck, where we could see fireworks that our up-the-street neighbors shot off -- not just bottle rockets and roman candles, but big sparkly colorful jobs, too, that made Hannah squeal. I didn't just enjoy the summer night, I enjoyed my little girl in a way that I don't get to, or don't allow myself to, very often. Good things happen when you go outside.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Week 26: All Summer in a Week

The week of honesty passed without much incident, I'm sad/happy to say. I always thought I told lots of social-lubricant type lies, but maybe I don't, or maybe I just didn't need to this past week. It got so that I reminded Peter about my week's challenge yesterday morning as we woke up. We had an interesting discussion about the kids after that, but nothing earth-shattering.

The better, or at least juicier, challenge would be a week of admissions of all the horrible and awful and stupid things I've done in my life. Not telling about these things isn't lying if I'm not asked, and there are many things that virtually none of people I know would never think to ask about. When it comes to horrible and awful and stupid things, I run my life like a terrorist cabal -- no one knows everything about me. Not even Peter. But Peter had the opportunity to ask whatever he wanted, and really, he didn't grab the brass ring. And that's probably for the best. Perhaps my funeral will be interesting, if everyone decides to share. But wouldn't everyone's? No matter, though; there'll be no confessional week coming anytime soon.
And now it's week 26, when I will do one quintessentially summery thing a day. Summer, in Chicago, is unbelievably fleeting, especially for those who love summer, like me. You're in it before you know it and out of it before you took a breath. The activities I love most in the world -- gardening, going to the beach, eating, napping, watching baseball -- are either only done in summer or are best in summer, at least in Chicago. So right off the bat, we're talking about a state of being that I try best to prolong, to wring the most life out of. I suppose that a significant portion of this would be avoided if I were to move to, say, Southern California. But Chicago's my home. I don't know any better or more meaningful way to say it, because it just is and that's that. Although I'm not averse to a winter home in Calexico should the opportunity present itself.

I think, though I can't say for sure, that I get increasingly shrill and panicky as the summer goes on, because for as long as I can remember, every spring I have created a mental list of Things That Must Be Done for the summer. And come September, I've usually done like four of them, and I get this crazy intense worrying feeling that life is passing me by. It's Sunrise, Sunset all over the fucking place. The boy is a suddenly a man, a situation that could have been avoided with just one more trip to Navy Pier! Every year my list grows -- so in addition to "camp out in the backyard, catch fireflies, have a water balloon fight, build a bonfire, cook and eat breakfast on the beach, make homemade ice cream, dance outside, sleep outside, eat outside, get shitfaced outside, shower outside (this one calls for highly specific circumstances, I admit, but still), make s'mores, basically do anything and everything I can outdoors because before I know it, the tomato plants are brown, it's 2 degrees outside and I'm back to crockpot cooking and hating mankind" -- to all that, these days I am mentally adding "take kids on hiking trip, drive up Lake Shore Drive for no reason the way Dad used to do, throw a block party, plant a community garden" and then, inevitably, I tack on "just relax and enjoy the summer!" I find that my best relaxing is when half of my brain is screaming "you've already SEEN this episode of Community! GO OUTSIDE!" at the "blah, it's 8:30 and there are mosquitoes and all the ice cream is inside the house, anyway" part. Part of me is thinking that maybe if I document the small things I do this week, by the end of the summer I can look back and say, well, at least I didn't hose the WHOLE summer. If nothing else, I had one good week.

Tonight's activity: the jammie walk -- in temperate weather, just before Hannah's bedtime, Hannah gets dressed for bed and we all take the dog for a walk. This is one of those things that, when I do them, I think, hey, that was fun, the kids had a good time, it only took ten minutes, we should do this every day and be a nice family, like the ones in TV shows we don't watch. But then the next day, it's 8:30, Community's on, AJ's in the middle of another Red Dead Redemption marathon, and I find myself carefully avoiding the word "walk" lest the dog hear, 'cause then the jig would be up. Still, tonight, we walked. And you know what? It was cool and quiet outside, and the brief walk was refreshing. Hannah had a good time; she loves having our attention that way. And it only took ten minutes. Maybe we should do it every day.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The last week and the doctor

I'm going to attempt to tally up where I am from last week.

First and happiest: the yoga. I have actually done it every day but one since last week, and I am pleased to report that it has helped immensely with my right hip. I saw the doctor today about the hip (and my wrenched right shoulder, but that's another story) and the diagnosis is a strained butt muscle. That's what I get for using my butt to pick things up off the floor, I guess. On the upside we've never had to buy a nutcracker.

Second, and obviously, given my last statement: I am pleased to report that I am fairly certain that I made it through seven days without being sarcastic. Well, at least overtly. But much like the hoary-joke week and the no-swearing week, I find that when I'm not being sarcastic I don't have much to say or much to write about. I don't know; to me this felt like I was borrowing trouble -- more on that later.

Third: the biking thing. I am at 4 days on that, because I fell down the stairs and it's been rainy. No really, one follows the other. I fell down the stairs on Sunday and wrenched my left deltoid hanging on for dear life. I didn't know for certain until today that it was merely a muscle pull, and I didn't want to fuck it up worse, so I layed off the bike -- I am not one of those fancy no-hands bicyclists, like the dude I see once in a while around here to rides his bike, talks on his cell phone and smokes a cigarette. If I weren't already married...anyway. Now that I know my left arm isn't going to fall off, I can get back on the bike with reckless abandon. And a helmet. Which, I suppose, I should also be wearing when I walk down the stairs.

So back to the honesty thing. I have to admit that it turns out, I have been lying to...pretty much everyone about something that's pretty important about myself. In fairness, I didn't really know I was lying, and it's possible that I was right before and I was just not quite living up to my fullest potential today.

You may have guessed it by now, so I will just come out and say it. I'm not 5'6". I'm 5'5-1/2".

You can unfriend me now. I understand.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Week 25: If I'm Being Honest

As is probably obvious at this point, I don't feel much like writing lately. And yet, here I am.

This is week 25, and I'm 3/7 of the way through being completely truthful. There's really not much to report, though. This might be because I haven't really told anyone who can really take advantage of it that this is the plan for the week. Peter knows, but for some reason hasn't put it to the test yet. Maybe he just doesn't want to know. AJ doesn't know, but when he does I promise you the first question out of his mouth will be, "Do you love me or Hannah the most?"

I did have jury duty yesterday, but since I was not interviewed at all, I had no occasion to tell my interviewer that I was anally probed by aliens, or spent three years "tapdancing" on the Atlantic City strip for money, or tearfully confessing my seamy career as a movie bootlegger. I did call the police to report a burglary I witnessed in the afternoon, but as tempted as I was I did not give them descriptions of the burglars that match Peter and AJ.

This isn't to say that I spend my life blithely prevaricating from one situation to the next. I don't. I think on the whole I'm a honest person. If a clerk gives me too much money in change from a transaction, I give it back. I've accidentally stolen things and then gone back to pay for them. But I've also not gone back to pay for them when it causes me too much trouble, even when the "trouble" is "walk across half a parking lot in light rain." And, if I get eight days of sick leave from my employer, I can pretty much guarantee that I will be "sick" eight days that calendar year; it's just that days seven and eight might simply be "sick of going to work".  So, I am prone to the lie, or implied lie, of convenience. But my kids are watching -- one who, at four, is just learning about what a lie is and what it can do, and one of whom is a teenager that is positively delighted to pounce on any hint of untruthfulness or hypocrisy on his parents' part. As a parent, I am loath to give my child that sort of happiness or enjoyment.

I have more to say, but if I don't post this now I never will, and I have to leave my desk. Don't feel like writing much...and yet. Once I go, I can't stop.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Not sarcasm, but an understatement

In retrospect, it might not have been the best time to schedule a no-sarcasm rule for the week, given that I've been PMSing.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

One and a half down, one and a half to go

Unsurprisingly, I find I am having a little trouble determining whether or not I am being sarcastic. Is all humor sarcasm? Maybe, when you're me. Does being flippant equal sarcasm? I suppose if you're going by the strict definition.

I did, as mentioned, ride my bike to work after dropping Hannah off at daycare, but I did manage to pick a rainy day to ride, so I wound up getting a ride to my car in the afternoon. That means no bike ride for me tomorrow, since I'll have to drive to work and then drive again to bring my car back. Guess I'll have to figure something else out for my bike errand. Last night, I was "lucky" in that Peter had a quick errand to the bank that needed to be done, so I was able to knock that off my list.

The yoga is a little more elusive. I did a few poses yesterday to satisfy the requirement, but despite having gotten up early today, I didn't manage to get it done. No worries yet; I have the whole night ahead of me. Keep on truckin' Erica.


Guess who totally rode her bike to work today? And guess who totally also forgot her bike lock today?