Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Boy Genius

Simon, Boy Genius.
WARNING: Bragging about to happen.
We've been investigating private school options for the boys for next year, and all the private schools have prospective kindergartners do these "Play-Based Assessments." Well, Ethan's school also had us go get an independent cognitive/developmental assessment at some psychological consultants place. I guess because their kindergarten is 100% immersion, and kindergartners must be smarty-pantses, as well as adaptable and pleasant, to flourish in that environment.
So we go today, and Simon is a STAH, I tell you, a STAHHHH!!!!
The woman who gave him his tests basically fell in love with him, and all but proclaimed him a brainiac. She told me his scores were "off the charts" and that he has an astounding vocabulary, and she even used the words "Gifted and Talented" describing him to an associate.
Of course. And I always knew he was smart and charming and thoughtful and sweet! But still, wheeeeee!!!!! It's nice to hear that your kid is intelligent, like officially. Because it means his chances of succeeding in/liking school are helped along, you know? And education is so important.
And please, check out the cute factor on that mug up there. Cute to Infinity!

Saran Wrap Solution

We've all been passing around this gross, snotty, heinous cold/flu bug here at Casa Barnes. Andy, with his year-round allergies, produces even more mucus than Simon and Charlotte put together. Plus, he's sort of gross, in a grody-boy sort of way. Like he has black banana peels on the gear-shift console in his car, and, like, gnarly wrappers strewn here and there, and grapefruit rinds in the spare-change holder. You get the picture. Homeless. It looks like some gag-worthy, semi-mental person lives in his car.

Mucus + grodyboy = NO!!!!!

For quite a while now, Andy has been hocking up giant, water-resistant phlegm-globbers in the bathtub/shower, in the morning before work, and then leaving them there for me to find when I open the curtain for my shower. Every once in a while there's one in the sink as well.


And I've asked nicely for him to stop doing this, aim for the toilet, or clean up after himself. It hasn't worked. Let us just say that during this particularly mucus-y illness, the plegm has gotten OUT OF HAND! Every morning, I had to steel myself to open up that shower curtain in the morning. It was like a horror movie. What would I find? What bloody, gelatinous, nauseating blob would I be faced with? AAAAAAAAAGH!!!

So Friday night I stayed up after sickie was in bed, and when he was fast asleep, I Saran-wrapped the bathtub. And the bathroom sink. And attached signs that read, like, PHLEGM with a big circle around it and a big NOT slash through it. And PHLEGM VERBOTEN!

Hee! I was pretty darn proud of myself, I have to say.

I think I've finally made my point. He says he can't help getting all loogie-d up in the shower, because of the heat and humidity, but at least now he's cleaning up after himself.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

For the Record

Are you ever just driving along, and all of a sudden you are overwhelmed with the awareness that you are piloting a giant missile of death?

This happens to me all the time. It's scary. But I get so used to this incredibly dangerous thing I'm doing ALL THE TIME, that I forget. And then I have these random, unpredictable adrenaline-washing-over-me realizations and have to try really hard to go over 10 miles an hour.

This never happened to me before I had children, so that's part of it. Of course, they don't have to be in the car with me for it to happen. The mere thought that they could be left motherless is enough. For they would surely waste away in the ensuing wilderness of clutter and unbrushed hair that would constitute Andy's single parenthood and they would turn feral, and then starve.

But there's also my premonition. Many moons ago, before I was ever a mom, before I was 21 even, I was winding through a stretch of I70 at downtown Indianapolis called the spaghetti bowl, and I had this vivid premonition that I would die in a fiery inferno of a crash there someday. I've never been able to shake it.

I drive through this exact stretch of highway EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Then, when I was about 23 I had my astrological chart professionally done (I KNOW. Shut up. I was very glad to find out I'm a triple Scorpio. It explains SO much, yo!!!), and the woman who interpreted it for me stopped at one point, and drew in her breath as she contemplated just how to say something difficult to me, and simply lowered her voice almost to a whisper but wouldn't make eye contact with me as she ominously intoned, "Be careful in cars."


So every day I'm careful. Back in the day, I was quite the speed demon. I'll freely admit it. But I'm also an excellent driver. Seriously! I'm, like, Formula One good. You should see my reaction time. HEY! I AM NOT LYING!!! I am a kick-ass driver. But now I'm a very careful, kick-ass driver. Plus, I've been through Defensive Driving School so many times I could quote you the manual. I am UP on the rules of the road, people.

And Andy knows about my premonition. But he also likes to be maddening. Witness the following conversation:

ME: You'll be sad when I die in a fiery inferno in the spaghetti bowl. Please make sure the children bathe regularly. And wear matching socks.

HIM: I will be sad. How long before I can marry "Mommy 2?"

ME: At my funeral, I'd like for you to tell everyone about my premonition, so that they can be all eerie-feeling at my ESP.

HIM: But I can't, because it won't be true. You just believe this so strongly that you'll have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. You'll be in a crash because you believe you'll be in a crash, and therefore you'll have, unconsciously of course, put yourself in that position.

ME: (gaping open-mouthed in horror) ...

HIM: It's only logical.




HIM: Your premonition is real.

So for the record, I am stating here and now in the vast ether of the internets, that I have this premonition, and if it comes true, it is NOT because of a self-fulfilling prophecy, because I AM TOTALLY CAREFUL ALL THE TIME AND PURPOSELY AVOID SITUATIONS WHEREIN I MIGHT BE SMASHED IN MY VAN LIKE A BUG. If it comes true, it will be a TRAGIC, TRAGIC ACCIDENT that I eerily knew about because I HAVE ESP!

So there!

Monday, January 23, 2006


I took Charlotte to the pediatrician last week, and she is not even 20 lbs yet. She is apparently so tiny that she makes the doctor and his nurse break out into the giggles. Then, he apologetically tells me that if she continues at her current growth rate, she'll probably be only about 5'3 or so. He's telling me this, and I'm standing there all of 5'2. HELLO!

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE this guy, but DUDE. HELLO!! I'm glad she's teensy! Nothing wrong with teensy!

When the nurse asked me if she's using 3 words, I had to laugh, because... technically? No. But really? Oh yeah, and a lot more. It's just that she speaks in, like, baby binary. ALL IS "BA." "BA" IS ALL. THERE IS ONLY "BA."

So in baby binary there is the syllable "ba" and a shriek. And the various combinations of "ba" and shriek actually amount to an incredibly sophisticated vocabulary. Because, people, she has the syntax, and the vocal modulation, and the speech patterns of English non-binary speakers DOWN. She counts to three: "baaA? baaA? Baaaaa!" She happily waves bye bye: "Ba Ba!" She tells me she'd rather have apple juice than milk, please, and COLD this time, and could I please make Simon move so that she can better pull all the books off of the coffee table?: "Ba Ba baba BABABA! BABA! Baba ba baba ba BA bababa ba BA ba. BA."

Oh, and my name? You guessed it. Baba.

Soon enough, little girl...



I've been sick. Sicksicksick.

It came on gradually. Through the latter part of the week I just lost altitude and speed, like a hot air balloon slowly coming in for a landing.

It was like sleeping sickness, combined with some Tom-Hanks-Joe-Versus-the-Volcano brain cloud. It felt like my brain had been infected with a virus that caused it to produce some kind of poisonous secretion I could feel draining down my brain stem, along the back of my neck, and into my shoulders and down my spine. All my muscles seized up and I slept almost all day on Saturday. There was beaucoup de nausea, but only minimal hurling. Hurling would've been a relief, if I could've expelled the noxious brain poison. But no.

Did someone poison-dart me?

I'm only now starting to wake up. Luckily, the horrifying headache is gone.

On the up side, I'm still in my reading frenzy. It's almost a novel a day now. It's pretty cool, actually. Grad school slowed my reading pace down to an elderly shuffle, but now that I'm reading for pleasure, it suddenly kicked back into turbo. I've finished J.G. Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur, Monica Ali's Brick Lane, Ian McEwan's Enduring Love, and I've started on Anita Desai's Clear Light of Day. Next, Vikram Seth's Two Lives. I can't wait!

Yesterday evening I managed to get up and go to work at Beef & Boards. I love it there. I started there in like 1993, and was full-time and part-time and they saw me through some of the worst and best times of my life. It's like home. It's just a cheesy dinner theatre, but it's like home. I've made some of the best friends of my life in that place.

I love flirting with all the old dudes who've been coming for like a million years, and chatting with the groups of ladies out without their hubbies for an evening. I love that I can duck into the theatre whenever I want and catch the show. I love the staff, and the fact that they chuckle at me when I use big words, and do the crossword puzzle in less time than it takes to smoke a cigarette, and walk around reading (because I know where I'm going so well I don't have to even look where I'm going) and that they humor my dramatic gestures and slinky walk. I've always wanted someone who found my idiosyncracies charming, and collectively, for the most part, they seem to. It's like a family, but one whose dysfunctions you can walk away from. And most of all, I love knowing what I'm doing so well that I could do it with my eyes closed, or, as was the case last night, half-sick.

Here's the thing. Some people would probably find this boring. But I really REALLY love being a big fish in a small pond. There. I've said it. I have only modest ambition, I guess. It applies in so many areas of my life. I like to be the best at something, and this is only certain for me in small ponds. Some people (my parents, most likely) may find me sort of lame in this regard, but I've decided I don't care. I've figured out what makes me happy. My mom is fond of quoting that preschool teacher who said in days of yore that I could do anything I wanted to. Which meant, out in the wide world of fame and fortune, apparently, to my mother. But what I like best to do is kick ass and be recognized for it, while still feeling that there is that safe place to fall that you really only get in a family. Or, in this specific case, a dinner theatre.

I love teaching part-time. Modest ambition. I love being a mom. Modest ambition (in certain circles-though I think this is the greatest ambition of all).

Now, what are you doing reading the internets, when you could be reading a book! Hee!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Usually in the mornings Charlotte wakes up and cries about 5:30 or so, and we grab a bottle and stick her in bed with us to lull her back to sleep until we have to get up. Yesterday, it was Andy's turn on bottle and retrieval duty. He got up to go to work, and I felt Charlotte asleep next to me, and fell into a doze. About an hour later, she woke up fully and slithered over the edge of the bed, to totter into the front room with her brothers.

As I lay there, I felt her bottle at the back of my neck, and could tell that the collar of my pjs, at the nape of my neck, was wet. Oh well. Moved the bottle, lolled around listening to the kids in the other room, and drowsing.

Eventually got up, went into the bathroom and LO! Dreadlocks. Not just bed-head, I'm talking Lenny Kravitz, full-on dreadlocks! Cemented with apple juice. All over my whole entire head. I couldn't even begin to get a brush through them.

Has this happened to you? I deep-conditioned and everything, but my poor hair still doesn't seem quite right. Stupid leaky bottle.


I have started my online Intro to Drama class (studying plays, not acting), and I've made my students all set up blogger.com blogs as their online reading journals. HEE!!!!

So far, none of them have really busted out into creativity land, but I'll keep you posted. I'm kind of excited about it, and wonder if I can get any of them as hooked on it as I've become. Dudes, I'm like a pusher.

Monday, January 16, 2006

I'm it!

I've been tagged. Thanks, Tracy Lynn!

4 Jobs I Have Had
1) Student Group Tour Guide for the City-County Building, including tours of the courts, jail and lock-up!
2) Initial Interviewer for the Public Defender's Office, specializing in the crazies, the drunk, and the incoherent
3) Freelance Course Writer
4) Teacher

4 Places I've Lived
1) Indianapolis
2) Naperville, Illinois
3) Bloomington, Indiana
4) Indianapolis

4 Movies I'd Watch Again
1) Sense and Sensibility
2) Spirited Away
3) Moulin Rouge
4) Harold and Maude

4 TV Shows I Like
1) Project Runway
2) America's Next Top Model
3) King of the Hill
4) Malcolm in the Middle

4 of My Favorite Foods
1) Chicken Krahi, Onion Bhaji, and Garlic Naan
2) Dark Chocolate of the expensive variety
3) Spaghetti Carbonara (in Italy)
4) Baked Brie and Crusty Baguette

4 Places I'd Rather Be
1) France
2) Venice
3) Japan
4) Minnesota (WHAT?! I love snow!)

I tag Yucaree, Suburban Misfit, and anyone else who'd like to participate. All are welcome! All are welcome!

Just call me sexy giiiiiiiiiirlfriennnnnnnd!

So I'm apparently Dr. Ruth Westheimer now. Or that other old lady on WE, or Oxygen, or whatever, with her sex show and her little dolls.

At work tonight, Nasir, an extremely beautiful 17 year old Pakistani boy whom I adore, asked me if he could ask me something. And he was all secretive and stuff. And wouldn't talk to me with anyone else around. So finally no one's around and he tells me that he had sex with his virgin girlfriend, and he was apparently (ahem) too big (I know! You should see his feet! He's like a lab puppy!) and she experienced pain, and he was wondering about how long this sort of thing would continue, and what he could do to help her.


Now, the part of me that wishes fervently that I were still attractive to 17 year old boys sort of thought for a minute that he might be telling me this as some sort of... I don't know... provocation? But it was clear to the rational adult part of me that he had concerns, and I seemed to him like someone who (1) would have abundant and helpful knowledge in this area and (2) he could talk to honestly and openly. Which is flattering and nice. But not as nice as being flirted with. Which he does, and I have to say I enjoy the winks and sly grins, but now I see clearly that he's just been humoring the old lady. Tossing me a bone, but not, if you catch my drift, and I think that you do.

So I squelched my wounded vanity and embraced my camp counselor role, and offered some tips and caring advice, and he seemed pleased and grateful. (Not as grateful as she'll be, I'll wager!)

Ah, adulthood. Sometimes it's annoying.

But, you know, tonight the house manager found a couple of kids getting busy in a van in the theatre's mammoth parking lot, and, like, who hasn't been there? Hot, but also crowded and lame. So sometimes adulthood has its advantages. Like, for example, I totally came home and majorly jumped my husband, NOT in a van, NOT in a parking lot, and NOT with pain and the ineptitude of youth. 'Cause old girl knows what she's doing, and we've got this DOWN, and what do you know... All is right with the world. Hoo-ah!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Wished Out

It's 5:00 am and I have to write this out or I'll never go to sleep. The stupid lines I'm going to write here have been running back and forth constructing and deconstructing themselves until I write them or go mad. I'm so tired.

I was going to say that everything I've written about Andy has been a lie, but that wouldn't be exactly right. What's happened is that I've simply neglected to mention one very big looming aspect of our relationship. I read about Heather and John at Dooce.com and see that team, and the comfort she takes in him, and that is not what I have.

Andy is mad at me 100% of the time. It is alwaysALWAYS there just behind everything, lurking, and waiting to pounce. He is mad at me because I send Ethan to private school. We are nearly destitute, in a ludicrously tiny house that is falling down around our ears, barely able to keep our cars running and afford groceries, with astronomical debt load and not much possibility on the horizon of anything improving, and he thinks it's absurd and, well, offensive, frankly, that every penny I make goes to keep Ethan just one more year at this school.

We live in a public school district and there is no way I will throw my son to those wolves.

I would rather be poor and not work full-time, so that I can be home with my small children. I have done daycare with Ethan, and I will not subject my children to that while there is a breath left in my body. But you see, I would rather be poor and happy. And loved.

I can be poor and happy.

I cannot be poor and unhappy. And unloved.

Oh sure, he says he loves me, but what does that amount to, really? He loves me in that he'd-be-sorry-if-I-died sort of way. Abstractly. But nothing I do will make him be tender and kind to me. To love me obviously, truly, romantically, here and now. I am of no value to my husband, beyond maybe as the mother of his kids. And even that is apparently suspect because of my nearly criminal lack of concern for their well-being by working to keep Ethan at his school.

Nothing I do makes Andy behave any differently towards me. I have tried cooking elaborate, love-filled vegetarian feasts, I have tried spending the money I should be spending on Ethan's tuition on groceries, so that Andy doesn't have to buy groceries: he'd rather eat frozen burritos and peanut butter and honey sandwiches. I've tried beautifying and cleaning the house: he'd rather live in squalor. I've tried having sex with him every single day: it didn't make him any more protective of me or gentle towards me when his ill-mannered brother and horrible sister-in-law visited. It didn't improve his mood any. All that hype about give guys sex and they'll do anything for you is a big fat lie. It makes absolutely no discernible difference in my husband's behavior towards me. I've tried being generous and caring to his family. Boy did that backfire. I've even tried to be a better, happier me, spending a little time with my friends in a once-a-month gathering that was so good for my soul I can't even express it, but it just made Andy mad that he had to babysit the kids. I've tried encouraging him to do things with his friends, but the best one doesn't live here and only comes around on holidays, and even then he's apparently really busy now partying, and the other one is kind of lame, and his wife hits on Andy.

None of this matters because, as Andy said to me the last time we had a small argument about something that quickly reduced itself to what underlies all of our arguments, my unforgivable sending of Ethan to an expensive school (for which I have not asked Andy for a PENNY since the disastrous first couple of times I had to early in our marriage, mistakenly thinking that my goals for Ethan would be his goals too), because I HAVE SACRIFICED THE WELL-BEING OF THIS FAMILY.

When he said that to me, I knew that this was why he doesn't really love me anymore, because that is what he truly believes. And in that moment I knew I couldn't be married to the person who really and truly believed that about me. And so I started packing. I will not be with someone who thinks that about me. I will not be married to someone who doesn't love me. This was a few months ago. Andy got scared and convinced me to stay. He said he doesn't think that I sacrificed the well-being of this family, but the cat is out of that bag. Once said, it cannot be unsaid.

So yesterday, realizing that the ice-maker is broken, and the refrigerator probably shouldn't be as hot to the touch as a curling iron, and the drier in the nearly completely dark basement (the lights don't work anymore) is taking 4-5 hours to dry a load of baby laundry, I crept up the stairs steeling myself to mention to Andy that the drier probably should be looked at by someone and fearing the reaction I knew I would get. Because I know that he is mad at me 100% of the time.

He told me to use some of my money to call a repairman because he doesn't have any money. He knows very well that I don't have a penny. Of which I reminded him. Then I said something about the ice maker, and while I was looking for ice cube trays he made some low comment to himself like, "Why don't you just go to Williams Sonoma and get some really expensive ones." Which is the most unfair thing in the world, and just nasty to say to me, because I NEVER shop. I NEVER-EVER shop. I am wearing the same old raggedy winter coat I've had for 9 years, with the pockets ripped out and the lining in shreds, and the same clothes I've had on for 5 days because I don't buy myself new clothes, in shoes from 3 years ago, and I NEVER go shopping. I have never stepped foot inside a Williams Sonoma, except if you count the 2 paces it took me to reach the peppermint bark sample table they had just inside the entrance last Christmas.

I can be poor, if I'm happy. And loved.

I can sleep on the deeply sloping, back-achy mattress that was once owned by my ex-husband's mother and her third husband. In the hideous black lacquer, ghetto, mirror-in-the-headboard, taste-affronting bed that that woman bought for me and her son as a wedding present, without consulting me. With matching bedside tables and 2 dressers. I can stack books and children on top of one another until they spout out the chimney, if I am loved.

He is too angry at me to love me.

When he made that totally unfair Williams Sonoma comment, I was already crying, but suddenly I realized the nightmare in which I am living. This is my horror movie. I am being stabbed in the shower. I am married to someone who doesn't love me, whose constant anger I fear. It is exactly like living with my parents. I am in the exact same god-damned situation I have been in for over half of my life. And I think a part of Andy told me that thing about my mom telling his mom how disappointed she is in me just to hurt me. He could've kept that to himself, but the part of him that is mad at me 100% of the time did that to me to be cruel. He knew I would brood and brood on it, and it would get worse by the day. He's met me, for Christ's sake. Why else would he do that to me?

And so, at the discovery that I am living in my own personal horror movie, this scream flew up out of my gut, and through my throat and the top of my head and suddenly I couldn't stop screaming. My children were there at the breakfast table and I was blood-curdlingly screaming, one after the other. I had to run to the bathroom and scream into a towel, but I couldn't stop. I screamed up blood and mucus and my heart until I couldn't get any more out because my throat hurt too much. This person, person #3, my person who I picked, lives with me but doesn't love me. He is not on my team. He does not comfort me. He is always and forever mad at me and thinks I sacrificed the welfare of the family.

All I have wanted my whole adult life is to bask in someone's love, rather than withering and fearing in the shadow of contempt and anger. I have wished to be able to take breaths knowing that someone loves me completely, without constant disappointment and anger at something I've done or not done.

I still want this. I'm still wishing. This anguish of this wishing is like death.

It was everything I could do not to drive my car off an overpass today. I didn't, because of the children.

I wanted someone who would not cheat on, or hit me. And Andy won't.

I wanted someone who would love me tenderly. And Andy won't.

I will not leave him. I won't do that to the kids. I will stay here and resign myself to this life, wherein I cook and clean and tend to the children, and am not loved. This is the life I have.

I write this because I had to, knowing that you will comment, and Andy will read. I did not write this to bash Andy. He cannot help his feelings. He cannot help feeling that he married someone who has done something unforgivable. But this is my forum, and I wrote this so that I can get it out of my head, and maybe sleep for an hour before the baby wakes up. I have never wanted this blog to be an Andy-bashing blog, and so I'm asking you please not to bash Andy in your comments. That won't help me or him. It would just make things uglier.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Power of the Written Word

Okay. So I haven't been able to blog or anything else in my free time over this holiday because I've been engaged in a reading orgy. I've been reading until the external world almost became less real than the internal one, and I've loved every minute!

Oh my god, it's been so long, with all of that freelance stuff and the gearing up for Christmas, since I've read for pleasure. And I knew I wouldn't have much time once school started up again because I'm teaching an online drama course, and online courses take up TONS of time. So I've read and read and read, and walked around with that slightly comatose, far-away feeling for days now. Every spare second I got, I've had my head in a book.

I finished A.S. Byatt's Little Black Book of Stories (delicious and perfect as always), and Helen Simpson's Getting a Life (gut-wrenching, in a quiet, English kind of a way), Michael Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White (contrived beginning, then good, then lapsing into boring, then suddenly picking up and chugging along fantastically until the UNACCEPTABLE and ANGER-INDUCING finish - grrrr... I'm still mad), and David Sedaris' Naked (fussy and hilarious, as usual), all of which I'd started, but not finished. I completely devoured Indu Sundaresan's The Twentieth Wife, which was well-plotted if obviously a first novel and a little bit ham-handed at times, and fed my inner passion for all things Indian. But the capper was Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections.

Over the last two and a half days I almost had a heart attack, so much blood, sweat, sleep, laughter and tears did I sacrifice to that book. Seriously? It is pure genius and, I know it's cliche, but I literally could not put it down. I stayed up waaaay too late and fell asleep with it in my hands. In the shower and changing diapers are about the only times I let go of it. I read it while I blew dry my hair, and while fixing dinner. I snapped up snippets at traffic lights. I read whole portions out loud to Andy.

Holy hell, what a book! I can see why my conventional brother and sister-in-law hated it, but DUDE, my family is IN that book. Mostly me and my mother, and partly my dad and the conventional brother, but still. My mother IS Enid, the mother in the novel. And it freaked me out and gave me goosebumps over and over.

Enid is disappointed and embarrassed of her children. They do not fit her view of "nice" and "normal." This was already eerily familiar as I read, but particularly hit home with me when Andy told me last night that when I was pregnant with Charlotte (remember, Charlotte is only one, so this was pretty recently) my mom told his mom (nice choice of audience, mother) that I am a "great disappointment" for all of their (meaning she and my dad) plans for me. This is what my mother is STILL telling people. Since I was 17, this has been going on. Did she stop to think that by announcing this to my MOTHER-IN-LAW she was essentially saying that my life with that woman's SON is disappointing to her?! No. No she did not. She, I know absolutely, expected sympathy and agreement, and a commiserating tsk tsk at me for putting her through such suffering and travails. It would never have occurred to her to think about the ramifications of what she was saying for anyone beyond herself. She just likes to announce the cross she bears to anyone who will listen. She would be completely bewildered to hear that someone perhaps might find her confessions of motherly disappointment to be a tad distasteful, let alone downright appalling.

My dear friends ErinP. and Philbug asked me today, when I shared this with them, what my mother wishes for. She wants to be able to brag to her friends about me. She can't very well brag about her thrice-married, Master's-Degree-abandoning, poor-neighborhood-dwelling, baby-machine daughter of reality, now can she? She wishes for me to be rich and live in a big house, married to some doctor/lawyer type person (he is of marginal importance in my ideal life-path, except to be professional and respectable and wealthy) and be an acclaimed something-or-other: writer, singer, pianist, violinist... one of those things for which I was trained. I have wasted the many opportunities I was given as a child, you see. She often wistfully quotes my preschool teacher, who said in days of yore, "Beth could do anything she wants to do." Because I was brilliant and shining back then, before boyfriends and speeding tickets. What she has never understood, and what I don't think she ever WILL understand, is that all of that stuff at which I shined so brightly way back when was EASY for me, and therefore would bore me in the long run. No challenge. I never practicied EVER except to cram just before concerts, and I would sing or play like a bird. Same thing with school. Cram the night before, ace everything. Yawn. What is a challenge, what I find valuable and rewarding as hell is being a wife and a mother. THIS, I love. It's HARD, and I love it. This is the stuff for which I received absolutely no training, and I have to figure out on my own, and therefore when I do it well, I know I worked for it. She will never get that. My friends pointed out that if I had gone the route she would have preferred, she would have found something else to be disappointed about. My lovely lovely friends said that it sounded to them like my mother is a very unhappy person, and that that has nothing at all to do with me. I love my friends.

Jeebus. That was a tangent I did NOT mean to meander onto. Sorry. Ahem.

So anyway, I've still got one more Christmas book to finish, J.F. Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur. Another India/historical-fiction fix, which is sure to be enjoyable. I shall abandon myself to another reality, with much relief.

It feels so good to have rediscovered my reading self. It's, like, utter luxury for me to immerse myself in a book, even if it's painful, as was The Corrections. Books are my opium. And I feel guilty for having taken a minor leave of absence from blogging, but I totally needed a vacation in the opium den. Yes I did.

So Happy New Year to me.

And to all of you. My wish is for all of you to find the perfect book. It's simple, but coming from me, you can be sure of how very much that wish entails.