Thursday, December 31, 2009

It wasn't that bad

By now many Americans have read the "Thank God 2009 is over" and "the 2000s were the worst decade ever" posts and news stories. I'll admit, 2009 wasn't as jubilant as 1999. We know a lot of people who have lost their jobs, their homes and are paying, in some cases, out the nose for health care many of us would have taken for granted twenty years ago. This was the year that we couldn't deny that we were regarded as the Great Unwashed by the majority of our elected officials and certainly by the masters of the universe who used to- and still do- run our financial system. For years we've been wallowing in excess, in many senses of the word. This year, a lot of that came home to us. And, perhaps most importantly of all, we were disappointed one more time as our leaders met at Copenhagen and came up with almost nothing. We're used to this by now, but every year the stakes get higher.

So yes, this year could have been a lot better. And this decade (see: Florida, 2000; September 11, 2001; Afghanistan, 2002-present; Iraq, 2003-present; Hurricane Katrina, Gulf Coast, 2005; Subprime meltdown, 2008; subsequent financial meltdown, 2008; etc.) has left much to be desired and I wouldn't wish this on us again.

But worst year or decade ever? Really? Every time I hear that, I flash to 1936, 1939 or the whole of the 1930s. And while the Chinese, Russians, Polish (and I'll include Koreans, although most of other lists leave us off) took that decade on the chin, American farmers and anyone who fell below the poverty line in that decade had their own brand of horror story that many of us cannot imagine living right now. As horrible as the 30s were, the first half of the 40s remain incomprehensible to me. 6 million Jews and 6 million combined Albanians, Gypsies, Polish, Slavs, Russians and others were murdered while the rest of the world, for all intents and purposes, blinked. Don't let anyone tell you that World War 2 was fought because of the injustices in Europe or Asia, because we didn't care until it was right up against us. And, of course, Pearl Harbor.

Which is not to say that for millions- billions?- of people throughout the world, this really was the worst decade. Environmental degradation is suffered the worst by people subsisting off the land in poor economies and under unstable governments. Our inability to respond to Katrina was amazing, but as horrible as that disaster was, it wasn't the tens of thousands that died in tsunamis in South East Asia. And our losses of home and insurance pale in comparison to the continuing genocide in the Sudan.

The travesty in Florida in 2000 reaffirmed my vow never to miss an election, even if it's for dog catcher. But as much as I might have felt my country was robbed by the result, it just doesn't stack up to what the Afghanistanis, Iraqis and Iranians suffered for their vote.

This was not the decade we dreamed about in 1999, but it could have been worse. Let's remember what we've lived through- let's be thankful for how bad it wasn't- and let's do our best to have something to celebrate in 2019.

Happy New Year,

Deb in the City

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

When family comes to visit

The best part of this time of year is the time afforded for family. Most of my sisters are going to be in town this week, and for that reason I've decided to spend the holiday at my mother's after all, despite my antipathy towards Christmas. I could go on and on about a Jewish family at Christmas time, but you know the drill. I hope- if I feel like you don't, I will, randomly, launch into it sometime.

I got to see sister number 1 today. You know, I'm never really sure how to refer to her or the rest of them. I'm the oldest (in case that wasn't already clear), so I'm not sure if I should call her my "oldest sister", because she technically is, but I'm older (by 17 months- and don't you forget it). Anyway, I came home from the unplowed streets of Boston to find her and Sam eating sushi in my living room. Oh yay- and oh no.

We eat sushi, we talk about soy sauce (and the tofu Sam loves so much). I still can't eat either, but for some reason I can drink soymilk without reaction now. Yeah! But my sister wants to know why I'm not checking into this more stridently, and even after my review of what happened at the doctor's office recently, she shakes her head. I should be on this, and she doesn't understand why I'm not more concerned. I am, but these things have been happening to me over a slow period of time, so my initial panic when my throat closed up the first time over corn chips and hummus has given way to coping. I've also been told- by an allergist- that there is no cure for a food allergy. No, she says. A treatment has recently been developed for children with peanut allergies. It's worth pursuing. Maybe so. I've agreed to make an appointment with the allergist.

Sam and I try on our bridesmaid dresses. They fit as advertised except for one important part: our ribcage, aka the one part of our body that the tailor didn't ask us to measure. Jesus Christ. I think I'm in good shape now, but it doesn't matter. My very wide ribcage has been dogging me since I was seventeen and maybe ten pounds thinner. There is no way Sam and I can get this addressed tomorrow, but we can on Thursday. Rasafrasen ribcage.

Of course, we also talked about my obsession with buying local and our mutual, bitter disappointment over the Copenhagen conference. (You can't even agree about 2010? The China-US standoff surprised professional negotiators and diplomats when they got there? What did we waste two weeks for?) My solution is to spend as much of my money locally as I can, reducing shipping and gasoline and keeping money in my local economy. Not so fast, my sister says. I'm inclined to listen, because both her former and her current lines of work require her to understand finance and the economy. Don't pat yourself on the back for buying those boots at a premium price in the independent Brookline shoe store as opposed to the medium-priced chain at Downtown Crossing. That chain ships in bulk, thereby reducing overall shipping costs and gasoline, and can keep the prices down. That little indie shop is probably selling the same made in China product (or Taiwan, or India, or Bangladesh- even Mexico or Canada- a far off place that requires more resources to ship than something made in New England) and adding their markup. Maybe my money is going into a locally-owned business and more likely to stay in the community, but maybe I'm also propping up a crappy, non-competitive business. I see her point- my shopping decision isn't based just on the product (or even the service), and that's not tenable in the long-run. (Aw Hell, if I just say "free market" does everyone agree not to throw tomatoes at me like I'm David Stockman?) Okay but- I arm myself with the big guns- the real reason we want to buy locally as much as we can and not give into Big Box Mentality is that if we strictly buy by price, eventually all we're going to have left are Big Boxes- and then "they" can charge us as much as they want. Worse, they can sell us whatever they want. (I didn't actually say those last two points- I didn't have to.) BUT, she says, we're never going to have just one Big Box- there will always be some competition.

To which I would have said (I think we talked about raw chocolate cake): Maybe, but I don't feel encouraged by the price wars that Amazon and Wal-Mart have engaged in during the last few months. Great- they'll keep the prices down, but on things that "they" determine I want. I actually did visit two Big Chains (Payless and DSW) before I found what I wanted at Downtown Shooz. I paid a premium, but it was exactly what I needed for my daughter's feet. The buyer at that store has a smaller market and probably has had requests over the years for a shoe that fits to the heel. He or she also probably knows that shoes should be available for that age group (10 years old) that isn't overly adult. Of course my sister had no reply: I didn't actually bring these points up to her. So I'm just going to bring these points up here, on my blog. And that's going to make me look more correct than I would have.

My sister and I disagreed, but I was pleased to have the food for thought. I feel like I'm spending a lot of time with people who agree with me, or who at least aren't arguing with me. People who disagree with you force you to think more about the issues you feel strongly about, whether you change your opinion or not. And my sister is respectful and intelligent- I enjoyed the in-depth disagreement.

Just so we're clear, my sister is much more like me than not. We're both firmly secular Progressive Democrats, and we value human dignity over ideology. We also both enjoy writing :-) I just don't want anyone writing in about what a Free-Market Neo-Con she is, because nothing could be further from the truth. Unless someone thinks I'm the Neo-Con.

We took a break from debating the best way to shore up the economy to talk about Jaz's developing discomfort in school. Last year her complaints about a close friend picking on her rang true. This year, her complaints about a different set of friends are similar, but now something seems a little off. Is she sensitive? Or is it just the nature of the under-the-radar comments that girls start to practice at this age? My sister didn't even blink. "Little girls are evil. She needs to stand up for herself." Alrighty then.

When family comes to visit... it reminds you how much you miss them.

Deb in the City

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I am not doing this day again

No, let's back up. Because Sunday is a direct consequence of Saturday.

I let myself sleep in on Saturday morning. I deserved it after Friday, and my bed was warmer than out of my bed. It was supposed to be a lighter day than Friday: pick up my Mac, teach my class, then go to my mother's tree-trimming party. No sweat. Well...

i don't know why I thought it was a good and executable idea that all of us should go to Back Bay. We all, I decided, needed to bathe. Michael, the boys and I can get that done pretty quickly, but the girls linger a bit. I thought about leaving the girls at home, but then I thought I wanted us to be a family. And if I announced the idea at 10:30, how hard could it be to get back home by 2:30 so I could teach my class?

Very hard. My fifteen year old wanted to come out, but not enough to move efficiently. By the time she was done with her shower and we'd waited almost an hour, she announced that we should leave. Out of principle and the desire to get her moving, I refused. However, we did decide that Michael should take the boys to the library while Jaz and I waited.

And waited and waited. There was grooming, there was dressing, and then there was a meltdown. It would have been all too easy to leave- at this point it was a little past 12- but I'm trying to get better about listening to my gut, and right then what I was hearing was that she needed to go out and she needed me to be firm. So I was. There were (more) tears and moans about the futility of going out at this point, but I was determined. As I rode the train and she sat next to me, a little bit deflated but calmer, I remembered that sometimes tears are a good thing, especially at that age.

But the clock was ticking. I got money for Sam and Jaz to get lunch while I braced myself to get my computer. It was Saturday, Christmas was rapidly approaching and we were already "in" Chanukah. Surely this was going to take at least 30 minutes? Wrong. I was out of there within fifteen. God, I love those people. I had my Mac back- best present ever- and was told that not only shouldn't I bother buying a sleeve, but why don't I look online for an Office alternative? I LOVE those people.

I was done so quickly that I actually had to wait a few minutes for Sam and Jaz to cross the street. Sam was in a much better mood- aren't we all after we eat? Then we just about ran to the H&M on Newbury Street. Sam was feeling so much better that she decided to tell me a couple of times that I was going in the wrong direction, but fortunately she was wrong. All three of us ran in and within twelve minutes- a miracle- we had gotten a scarf for Sam and a hat and gloves for Jaz. Happy second day of Chanukah.

Michael, meanwhile, was with the boys. I had Jaz call to tell him to meet us at the Dunkin Donuts at the station, whereupon I presented him with his gift: two packages of ground french vanilla coffee. He laughed, then we went home.

I was so excited to have all of twenty minutes before I had to head out. That was just enough time to remember that my sister had asked me to mail something to her on Friday- which wasn't humanly possible- and that I had promised to mail it out on Saturday... and I hadn't done it yet. All of which ended up with Michael taking the boys back out while I taught my class so that he could Next Day Air my sister's package at Fed-Ex while I taught my class.

Did I mention that it was freezing or colder? It was. We had promised my mother we'd go to our house with my friend G. by train. Mental note: not again on a freezing night. We were out that much longer, and all of us felt it. (Plus the fact that the train was seventeen minutes late getting home, but that's another story.) Michael had a very warm hood, but I heard him sniffling before we got home and collapsed.

This was a lousy day for one of us to be out of commission. Today we started the boys in Hebrew School, Jaz had a youth event to go to at the same place and Sam had a concert. I know that doesn't sound so bad, so let me elaborate: boys at Hebrew School in Brookline by 9:30, Sam to rehearsal by 11:30, Jaz at Hebrew School by 12:00 (so I could attend a meeting before her event) and then Jaz to Sam's concert by 3. My original plan: I take the boys to Hebrew School in the morning, Michael brings Jaz in the afternoon and takes boys home, I wait for Jaz to finish her event and then we meet up at the concert. Sam could get to rehearsal on her own.

But no. I was walking into the school when my phone started ringing. Screw it- both of my hands were holding a twin. Phone went off again as I chatted with a mother who knows Michael through law school and work. I get to Trader Joe's to try and buy something when the phone rings for maybe the fifth time. It's Sam, and her stomach is bothering her. She's in tears because Michael doesn't believe her. I'm trying not to panic because I have no idea who to get an advisory from re: the concert. (Ever met a music or drama director? The show must go on; enough said.) I texted her teacher, then worked out with Sam that she contact the Director. Drama, drama, drama, but the four of us work out that Sam will skip the rehearsal and try to go the concert. These guys really aren't slave drivers, and everyone is taking illness more seriously in light of the flu outbreaks.

While talking to Michael through this, it was clear that he was in miserable shape. Fine- I would come home and take Jazmyn back myself. And, just because I'm a masochistic glutton for punishment, I decided I'd walk to Kupel's and get bagels first.

I make it back- of course there was drama on the Green Line, but now is not the time- but I make it back to get Jazmyn, drop off the bagels and make it back to Hebrew School in time to make most of the meeting. It pains me to be late- Hell, it pains me to be on time- but this was not the day to worry about it. Jaz went off to her event after she helped me with an art project, and then I had a brief chat with the boys' teacher. All set to go... and then I realized that the boys were nowhere to be found. I spent five minutes running through the temple before one of my friends coralled them. Oh my God. Of course.

They made up for it by walking the relatively long distance to the bus stop. Why walk? Because it was more of a guarantee than taking the connecting 66 bus. We waited about ten minutes- there was kicking- and then finally got on. They were both very subdued, and I'm not sure if it was the walk, the cold or that they're coming down with something.

Michael grabbed them from the nearby bus stop, then I got right back on to take the return trip to get Jaz from her event. I checked the bus schedule before I race walked to get her. This time, it was worth waiting for the 66 bus, which would take us right near the concert venue. I race walked to get her, and then I raced her back. She was a good sport- she'd just eaten donuts- but of course it started raining. Whatever. No time to complain, because miraculously the bus arrived within a minute of our arrival.

We arrived, in time to get her a snack even, but now I had time to be consumed with shame. I was in my jeans and sneakers, and not even stylish jeans and sneakers. Even worse, I hadn't had a chance to buy- much less cook- anything to bring with me. Ugh.

The concert was short, and Sam really hadn't been bs'ing anyone- she wasn't hungry. Neither was Jaz, courtesy of her snack. Fine- good. Finally home.

Michael and Simon were sleeping, and Jacob looks awfully tired. Jaz is now complaining about her stomach. Worse, Michael had consumed all of my orange juice, ginger ale and club soda (I needed a virgin screwdriver last night- I just did). And I'm not going out again to replace it.

Maybe what doesn't kill us makes us stronger, because so far I'm okay. But God, would I love some sleep right now. And the knowledge that everyone is going to school this week.

Excuse me while I make tea for my sick family,

Deb in the City

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Chanukah adventures

Clearly, I know how to make my own drama.

Last night, Friday, was the first night of Chanukah. My children- obnoxiously- started counting down to Chanukah two weeks ago. They made up songs and everything. Because they keep trying to make Chanukah a Jewish Christmas- but I'm going to fight them until they have their own kids.

On Thursday, Michael told me that he had invited J's good friend C. to come over for Chanukah. Not so much because it was such a big deal, but because they wanted to spend time together and couldn't bear to be apart. That's age 10 for you. Fine, except that that meant I needed to clean up in a big, bad way as well as cook. Before 7. Yesterday morning I remembered that we actually couldn't get started on anything until about 8, when Sam would be done with her dress rehearsal. (When I pointed this out to Sam yesterday, all of a sudden she was very offended that they had scheduled a rehearsal for the first night of Chanukah. Which I would totally sympathize with- except that no one in our house realized this until this week.)

I have to cook and clean. I'm an adult- this isn't a big deal except that I couldn't leave East Boston until 2. On top of that, I needed to pick up and deposit a check. Further, I also needed to pick up some gifts. Technically, this should not be a problem: my check was in Back Bay, where I could run into Borders, Marshalls and a bunch of other chains. The only problem was that I have been really vocal about shopping locally and keeping money in the local economy, and there was never in that area that qualified. Obviously, I needed to go to Brookline. That's not technically my neighborhood, but it was the closest place where I'd be able to get boots, books and a present for Sam. I know because I called a few days before.

But it was so cold. I ducked into a Starbucks, got Sam a gift card, then took a deep breath and walked briskly to the T-stop.

And then I realized I had absolutely made the right choice because I saw a friend of mine I hadn't seen in a few months, M. She just happens to be the mother of Jazmyn's other BFF, V., who is also very close to C. Perfect. Before we parted company, we had arranged for V. to be dropped off with the other girls.

First stop: the shoe store, Downtown Shooz. The same little old man who has been there for the last several decades still runs the place. The prices are a little expensive, but Jaz has been cold, and it was worth it. Boots- done.

A few doors down to Brookline Booksmith. I had called to confirm that I could find some cookbooks for kids, and indeed I found more than four choices that would work. I whittled it down to two- cute but practical, and reasonably priced. (And even if they hadn't been, I would have gotten them anyway. These last few years have been challenging, and Jaz has been the beneficiary of much generosity from both of their families.)

Next, a little something for Sam. She has too much "stuff", but not enough of it works. She needs to whittle down her clothing, but she likes pretty things. And she needs a place for the things she has. In the cool little gift shop at the bookstore, I found a pretty blue jewelry box and small blue earrings. I think I'll get her something else this week, but these fit her.

After these were purchased and wrapped, I confirmed with Michael that we needed chocolate gelt, so I went into the nearby Trader Joe's for some. Yep, I bet someone else did sell these, but I didn't know where, and I was in a hurry. Now to get home.

I had some options: I could take the Green Line back to Copley, then take the Orange Line home. Or I could take the 66 bus then take the 39 bus. Or I could walk down the entire length of Longwood Avenue and get on the Orange Line at Roxbury Crossing. Although it was freezing, I chose the latter.

Why? On Saturday, I waited about 30 minutes at a bus stop for the 39 bus. I was freezing, and the only thing worse than being out in the cold is being out in the cold standing still. I didn't want to risk that again. The wait at the train stop wouldn't be nearly as long, but the circuitous route I would have to take to make what should be a straight shot offended me. Further, I thought of my friend C. (an adult) who would easily walk that distance and not even break a sweat. It's good to have people in your life who are in some way better than you are- it's inspiration.

So I walked. At first I was cold- boy was it windy- but then I warmed up. I was making good time and would probably have gotten to the train stop I wanted by 4:45. But then, alas, I saw the 39 bus right on the corner of Huntington and Longwood. It just seemed silly not to take it. So I did- because I'm stupid. The trip home took about 25 minutes. Had I walked as I had originally planned, I could have been home ten minutes earlier. But what's ten minutes, right?

When I got home at 5, I found Michael and the boys on the computer. There were two things wrong with this. First, those boys spend way too much time in front of a screen. Second, the dishes needed to be done. The recycling needed to be taken out. The laundry needed to be done. All things which he could easily have done while I was out. In the cold. (But, yes, he had gotten the groceries I'd asked him for. As well as the marshmallows I've asked him to never get again.)

I didn't explode. It was worse. I was quiet, mad and resigned. Needless to say, the laundry and recycling were done while I washed the dishes, scrubbed the counters, bathroom surfaces and floors and made potato pancake batter and donut dough. By hand. By the time the girls arrived at 7, we were heating up oil and starting in on the deep-frying. By 8 when Sam came home, we were ready to go.

And you know what? It was great. I liked having people in the house, and I liked cooking. It was cramped in the living room, but cramped can be fun. And of course everyone loved the donuts. I look forward to doing it again, and this time I'll walk the whole way.

Deb in the City

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The trouble with transportation

In general, I consider it beneath me to complain about the weather. It rained last June for, admittedly, almost a month straight, and people acted as if the sky were falling. Or it's really hot and people are melting. I hate being inconvenienced myself, but it's not as if we're in a developing country and our lives are endangered. I am very concerned by the continuing trends toward global warming and extreme weather, but I try not to publicly wring my hands over that, because then that could be all I talk about.

But...

It's snowing today in Boston and other parts of Massachusetts. Actually, there is a storm that's supposed to affect the entire Eastern half of the country, or so NPR told me this morning. I was not happy when I saw it coming down this morning, but I was determined that it not get in the way of my day. Part of that was because Jazmyn had missed a week of school, and part of it was that I wanted to prove that I wasn't going to be bowed by *the weather*.

Miraculously, the four of us made it out the door by 7:46, fully fed and clothed. Two minutes later we were at the bus stop. Unfortunately, we stayed there for the next fifteen minutes, about ten minutes more than usual.

It's a quick ride to the stop we need, though slower in the snow. We walked up the hill, and although Simon complained about his sock falling down his foot, Jacob thought the snow was "sort of beautiful", which of course made me smile. Everyone got into the school and their respective classroom, and then I was off to my next appointment.

There was a big crowd at the stop when I got there. Oh, good- I hadn't missed it. Ten minutes later, and I knew something else was going on. The bus that was towed on the main street perpendicular to us was sort of a clue. (I wish I could say that's a rare site these days.) Ten minutes after that, a bus finally arrived and we piled in, wet and white with snow. It wasn't until I got on that I realized how numb my toes were.

Needless to say, I missed my appointment. This is a volunteer gig, so it isn't a tragedy financially, but I think it's a big deal. But the people I was traveling with were on their way to work and school. The fact that they were at least twenty minutes late might very well be a tragedy.

While I waited, I remembered that a few years before Sam and her friends had been kicked off of a bus in a snowstorm because the bus couldn't go any further. She and her friends were twelve and thirteen at the time.

I also remembered the at times fierce debates about whether a trolley line near my part of town should be brought back. No, people argued. There is a bus that parallels the trolley route. That same bus is the one that kicked Sam out. I've never seen a trolley do that, and I presume because it's easier to maintain train tracks than an entire open road.

I tried to console myself with the thought that I could get a car if I wanted one. That didn't make me feel better when I saw how slowly cars on the road were moving.

I don't know what have made today better. Clearer roads? Better traffic patterns? More and better maintained buses? Dedicated trolley lines? Or, given the absence of all of that, a snow day for schools?

Here's hoping we figure it out, because I'm out again in a minute.

Deb in the City
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Recycling? Plastic or change.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that in addition to the dramatic steps of getting rid of the car and cable I have also stopped using the dishwasher. This was originally a move to save money on the electric bill, and I'll be damned if it didn't actually save two to four dollars per month. But the real reason I was so happy to wash dishes by hand was the amount of electricity and water that the whole process used. Once I made the $4 investment for a sink stopper, I saved water, electricity, time and noise. All good.

But instead of basking in my overall green improvements, my intimacy with my dishes has lead me to become increasingly dismayed about what I am washing.

We have a basket for recycling right underneath our sink. So it's easy to wash the dishes and containers, let them dry in the drain tray and then place appropriate containers in the recycling basket.

Why aren't I saving the containers? Did I mention the 730 square foot condo? I can't save everything, but for a long time I saved more. I could not deal with the clutter, and most of the containers went unused. Now I'm getting rid of the containers for vegan margarine (non-hydrogenated, thank you), vegan cream cheese, yogurt, tomato sauce, pumpkin puree, the occasional can of beans and various other containers.

We don't eat out much- but as I write this, I'm trying to recover from not getting any sleep after Simon woke up three times to vomit, standing out in the cold for 30 minutes waiting for a bus and fighting off my own stomach bug, so tonight may be an exception- so Michael and I cook a lot for six people. As such, we go through things quickly. I would say that basket fills up in about a week and a half, easily.

I know I shouldn't be beating myself up over this. Every bit I recycle takes up that much less space in our landfills. And I am not going through nearly as much as other families.

But I am going through a lot, and now that I have to spend more time with my dishes and containers, I can't deny it.

I read a blog a few weeks ago that a raw foodie wrote about green shakes. (I'd put it in a link, but it seems to have fallen off of her site.) As a throwaway, she mentioned that she transports her shakes in Mason jars. Aha! That answered the question of what some of the other vegan/raw foodies who advocated glass were storing their food in.

So what if I got a case of Mason jars, threw out all of my plastic containers and stored food in the jars?

For some things, this would work well. I'm trying to make my own yogurt- I think my final victory over coconut yogurt deserves its own post- and making yogurt in a Mason jar would work very well. If wide-mouthed enough, the jars would work for leftovers.

For other things, I'd need to change more than containers. I think I could find recipes for vegan cream cheese or figure one out. But what about the vegan margarine? And what about the cans of coconut milk I use to make the yogurt? Plus, some of my friends on Facebook just confirmed that, yes, storing ice cream in a glass container is an idiot idea.

I want a change for the better, dammit. I want to buy that case of jars and put my stuff in it, but I have to have a plan. I'll figure out how to make vegan cream cheese, margarine (or something like it) and coconut milk, and then we're off and away.

Deal?

Deb in the City
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, December 04, 2009

Progress

Yesterday/last night was one of the lighter days I've had so far. I was home and done by 6:15, and all of us got to eat together as a family. Food shopping was done, rooms were reasonably neat, and Michael did the dishes. Better yet (sort of) Thursday is the night everyone else's favorite television show is on, so I would have the computer all to myself for two hours.

From 8 to 10 I caught up on my social networking, paid bills, and made a plan to get editing done until I can get my computer fixed. Obviously the second one took longer than the rest.

Okay, the minutiae: we had an incredibly high phone bill last month. Even more irritatingly, this was after Michael had made a change that the rep he spoke to suggested. I won't blame it on hard sales though: Michael also started working from home very soon after, and he obviously used his personal phone more. So we made another change, and Michael paid the bill. I think.

I think because Michael swore up and down that he called, but I couldn't find any evidence of that in either account a few days ago. Okay, sometimes things take a while to post, but I didn't make the call, so I'm doubly unsure. I check again last night, and I still can't find any evidence. Whatever. I call the phone company, because now I'm going to have to pay whatever wasn't paid plus whatever we owe for this month. Lo and behold, their records show that not only was the bill paid, we have a credit. I know I should be happy, but I'm kind of filled with dread. The shoe is going to drop when I least it expect it. (Yes, I'll call on Monday.)

I spent less time on Michael's student loan, but it was no less irritating. Last month Michael paid a big, more than double bill- we hadn't been able to touch it for a while. Last night I checked on the bill again, and even though it reflected that we had made a big payment, it said that we were delinquent. I should explain: when I say last month, I mean a week and a half ago. Maybe he had just paid what we were behind? Whatever- it's totally up-to-date now, but it just reminded me how vigorously I need to keep on top of those things. It also makes me think that maybe I want to keep making big payments there- it would be nice to finally kill that loan and, dare I say it, doable?

I'm pretty sure we are up-to-date, including registration for a test I need to take in January (but not including the travel). I lie- there are a few things that are outstanding, but that's to family members. Great...

My plan for editing? Just doing it in the morning. I feel like I've got some consensus that if I alter anything, it should be the first two chapters. They are, even I felt all along, disproportionately longer than the rest of the story. I just want to tighten it up, and that won't take as long as a big reorganization of the whole thing. In other words, it is doable even with the tight schedule and short batches of time that I have.

Besides, next week has to let up a little- and in retrospect this week wasn't even that bad.

Deb in the City
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, December 03, 2009

On Hold

Monday was my last day at the gym. When I left, I felt like I was floating. I had a whole hour to myself and celebrated by buying dish towels, taking a long walk and getting some Thai Iced Tea at the world famous bakery near my next stop. (It's the only thing I can consume there.) Later that day I had encouraging conversations with my sisters about my manuscript, and the ball is totally, squarely in my court. One more read through, last-minute glaring edits, then print out some copies and send them to the contact one of my sisters carefully cultivated for me. Yeah!

...Except that the next day *everyone* was home, sick and otherwise, and there's been a sick child home ever since. Plus I started another gig. Which means I haven't had time to do anything, not that I could have anyway.

Michael got paid again- ooh, I like that- and it's enough to cover the bills. I like that more. However, he took out several hundred dollars to buy his scanner/printer even though we had agreed that we'd get my laptop fixed first (which, by the way, will cost about $200 less and can be used by the girls). I am not even mad at this point- this is just how it rolls. I think I'll have some money leftover after everything is paid, but I don't want to spend it on the laptop and be left with absolutely nothing. That's a crappy feeling, trust me.

What about "my" money? I've been using that for groceries and to pay off lines of credit. I could swap some of that money out, but I'm trying to get out of a hole, not make one bigger. Plus I owe the little ones something for the birthdays several months past, and my sister's wedding is coming up.

But... God how I long to sit on my couch in the middle of the night and make my edits.

In an attempt to not be a total downer, I will say that Google Wave is sort of cool (no, I couldn't have been editing at that time- Wave, Facebook and Twitter require the same amount of attention that reading a magazine does), the Massachusetts Senator race is getting interesting, and Michael and I managed to get rid of stuff from our bathroom closet. Some things are moving forward.

Deb in the City

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry