Friday, February 25, 2011

B is for Books (Alphabet Meme #2)

B is also for Bob, of course, but it's not as though I never write about him here. Then again, it's not as though I never write about books, either. But, oh well. Books are one of the few things that have been in my life forever, so books it is.

In fact, books have been in my life since the day I was born. I don't need to ask my mother to know that she did not go to the hospital to give birth in the days when doing so typically meant a week-or-so-long stay without taking a stack of books with her. I was the third child, so everything was old-hat and "easy" about my birth, or so she's told me (I can't imagine anything about birth being easy, but then again, I don't have several birth experiences to compare to each other). I like to imagine that because it was all so familiar and easy, that perhaps she even nursed me while reading, book in one hand, baby in the other. My mother is very adept at holding things like Georgette Heyer paperbacks in one hand. I learned my one-handed paperback technique from watching her.

Anyway, once we got home from the hospital, I was surrounded by books. I grew up in a house with books in every room but the dining room. Most of the rooms in our house had one wall devoted to books. We four children all had bookcases in our rooms filled with children's books. And the house also sported things like huge old secretaries with books behind glass doors. Having been raised in such a home, today, I don't feel that a home without books is truly a home.

Believe it or not, though, all these books in the house in which I was raised would be a source of embarrassment for me as I grew older and realized that most of my school friends lived in houses that were relatively book free. Don't let anyone tell you kids read much less these days than they used to. The dirty little secret is that kids didn't read in the "good old days" either. I lived a double life growing up, because I loved books as much as I do now. Yes, I was excited on Christmas morning to receive things like my stuffed Snoopy or my first sleeping bag, but the most exciting haul on Christmas day was a huge stack of books. Luckily, we could count on certain aunts and family friends who always gave each child a book (which meant more for us to read, because we shared them all) -- not to mention Santa, of course. I hid this love of books from the general public, though, from about the age of ten until I was in college.

When I was in junior high, I had to bring home a survey that asked all kinds of questions about my family's reading habits. I can still remember arguing with my mother over it, because I was low-balling all the numbers. I don't know why. None of my classmates were going to be privy to those answers. I guess it was just because the message had sunk in loud and clear: you're weird if you own a lot of books and read all the time. Our house was "weird," and I was not so keen on inviting my friends over to see it, which is why my older sister Forsyth will tell you that I was always off adopting other families when I was a kid. I wasn't really, but if I wanted to hang out with my friends, I preferred to do it at their houses rather than at mine, where I might have to explain why we had so many books (the irony in this is that once we were all grown up, I discovered that kids loved coming to our house, I think because things were quite lax there).

I have to admit that I did have certain friends who were in on my deep, dark secret, those with whom I swapped books and titles and who were as excited as I was when the Scholastic Book catalogs came and even more excited when the books arrived. By the time I was seven, I had learned that there is nothing. no. nothing. more exciting than getting a package of books in the mail, even when I knew they were coming (an experience duplicated these days by online shopping). My few book-loving friends and I had to pretend we weren't excited when our Scholastic books arrived, had to act as though our parents had made us buy these books (a complete lie on my part. The opposite was actually true. My mother frowned on wasting money on these cheap books that always fell apart when we had a house full of books I had yet to read and a public library we frequented).

Speaking of libraries, when I was in 7th grade, I was the first one on my school bus in the morning, and, the first one off in the afternoon. For some reason, when I was in 8th grade, they changed the route, which meant a much longer ride for me in the afternoon. At some point, I realized that the bus went right by the library, a 15-minute walk I took all the time, and that if I could get off the bus there, I would get home much more quickly than if I stayed on the bus until it got to my house. I asked the bus driver if she could just drop me off at the library. I had to get a special note from my parents, which they gladly gave. Truth be told? At least two days a week, I got home later than I would have if I'd ridden the bus, because I'd go to the library before walking home (making sure the bus had turned the corner, of course, before heading through its door).

Eventually, I got over my need to lead a double life. I'm happy to be someone who's a reader. Is it any wonder that when it came time to choose career paths, I chose those that involved books? Forget that psychology major (which, actually, comes in awfully handy when reading books), I was destined to work with books. Editing comes naturally to me and always has (except, as you all know, when I try to edit my own writing). Because I am a reader, acquisitions also comes naturally to me. It makes perfect sense that I am an acquisitions editor. It also makes perfect sense that I got a Masters in library science.

Finally, did you know that books are wonderful enhancements for the home? Home decor is not one of Bob's and my specialties, which I may have mentioned a time or two on this blog. In our house, we have tons and tons and tons of books. Really. They are everywhere (those of you who've been inside my home, please feel free to give your testimonies). Despite mismatched furniture that all desperately needs reupholstering (and not in a chic, old-money way, but rather in a we-have-no-control-over our pets way) and housekeeping and home repair habits that should bring to mind words like "abandoned" and "haunted," visitors have often used words like "relaxing" and "comfortable" when they describe our home. I am convinced that being surrounded by books is relaxing, so I surround myself with them (no, it doesn't work. I still find it very hard to relax -- unless, of course, I am completely immersed in a book). Somehow, the books are so relaxing that nobody seems to notice all the cobwebs and door handles that don't work, thus proving what we all know, which is that books have magical powers.

And, so there you have it: b is for books. I can't imagine my life without them.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Aging Can Be Great

Today is my 47th birthday. How on earth did I get to be 47 years old? I don't know. I think I'm just going to grab onto that cliché as it flutters by, contemplating its impending trip north this spring, and note that "time flies." I don't, however, want to grab onto the old cliché about how horrible aging is. To that effect, I am here to tell you some very good things about getting older.

1. I no longer feel ugly.
I wasted a good deal of my life (especially my youthful years, when society would have you believe I was at my most beautiful) thinking I was ugly. I looked in the mirror and found fault with everything I saw. Now, not only do I no longer feel ugly, but I feel beautiful. I still vividly remember about 13 years ago when a good friend of mine was turning 50, and she announced to a group of us that one of the great things about being her age was that she finally felt beautiful. I remember thinking, "Oh, my God, how do you get there?" (BTW, this friend of mine was not an Audrey-Hepburn lookalike or anything. She was just a "normal" woman: graying hair, weight where we all gain it, etc.) I didn't believe her at the time. I do now. The answer to 'getting there'? Nothing but time. The wisdom that comes with age has a lot to do with it. As I say, I used to see nothing but faults: too short, too white, too fat here, too thin there (no need to go on, right? We all know how the beauty industry makes us females berate ourselves, don't we?). Now, I embrace what makes me unique. I don't tan. I'm "petite." I wear hats well. It's all about attitude and not letting others define "ugly" and "beautiful" for me.

2. Speaking of beauty, it helps that I now feel good when I compare myself physically to my peers.
By "peers," I mean those plus or minus 5 years my age. When I was in my teens and twenties and thirties, I always felt inferior to my peers. They were always taller, skinnier, tanner, had better hair, had more fashion sense, had better luck with boys/men, etc., etc. Everyone always seemed to have a flatter stomach, longer legs, bigger breasts...I've discovered, though, that all my years of taking pretty good care of myself (exercising on a regular basis, eating mostly healthy food and avoiding junk, etc.) have paid off. Now, I, apparently, "look really good for [my] age" or "don't look [my] age at all." Sure, I'd like to lose a few pounds, but I'm not fat by any stretch of the imagination. The white skin I have always cursed has kept me out of the sun, so, with the exception of a worry line, I don't have many wrinkles. My hair is blond, so the gray looks more like highlights than gray. At this stage of my life, I very rarely meet women my age who make me feel like I need to eat nothing but lettuce leaves and exercise like an Olympic swimmer if I'm ever going to look like that. And fashion sense? Who cares? I wear what I like, what makes me feel good, and that changes from day to day (sometimes it's yoga pants and a fleece sweat shirt, other times it's a tailored suit). Then there are men. I no longer need to have "luck with men," but men seem to like me, so I must be doing something right.

3. I'm more self confident.
I'm not perfect in this regard, but oh my god, am I so much better than I was twenty years ago. I have so much less trouble disagreeing with people and stating my point of view than I did when I was 27. I'm convinced my opinion matters, and I don't easily back down when I feel something is worth pursuing. I don't worry so much that people may not like me if I disagree with them. If they don't like me, well...oh well. There are plenty of people in this world who do like me and who I like right back, so there's no need to worry about those who may not.

4. My hair has changed.
The hair on my head is nowhere near as oily as it used to be, which means I no longer have to wash it every day. I can go outside in public the day after I've washed it without feeling like I ought to be charging people $3+ a gallon. This may be because I've finally found the right shampoo, but after experimenting with various shampoos for 33 years, I highly doubt that. Meanwhile, how come no one tells women about the marvelous wonder known as "leg baldness?" I no longer have to shave my legs nearly as often (and I still can't quite get used to this fact). My hair just seems to have stopped growing. I remember, when I was 17 or so, my mother telling me she no longer needed to shave her legs. I, of course, didn't believe her. She must have been mistaken. How could she no longer need to shave her legs? (There's a lesson in here for younger readers. Believe older women when they tell you things.)

5. I can do so much more alone without feeling uncomfortable.

Can you believe that fifteen years ago, I'd never eaten out alone? I'd also never gone to a movie alone. Enjoyed a cup of coffee and a scone in a cafe alone. Sat at a bar alone. Okay, maybe there are those who wouldn't exactly call being with a book being "alone," because books are friends. Still, by most standards, I am alone. Oh, and I even go to the Ladies Room alone (then again, I always did that).

6. I pursue what I like instead of what I'm supposed to like.
I really don't care what others think if I know absolutely nothing about 21st-century pop culture. I watch very little T.V. and (with the exception of Mad Men) don't even really know what I'm supposed to be watching these days. I don't mind telling people I'm completely movie ignorant. I also don't mind telling people that I spend most of my down time reading. And I happen to think that most conversations are pretty superficial if you have to spend your time avoiding the three "taboo" topics of religion, sex, and politics. Anyone who brings up any of these topics in a conversation rises in my esteem.

7. Speaking of sex, it's no longer Sex.
Yes, it's still enjoyable. Yes, it still catches my attention. But, really, what was the huge deal when I was in my twenties? It's hard for me to fathom. This means that men have become so much more interesting on so many other levels, and I no longer have to worry about being tongue-tied just because some guy is cute (or even drop-dead gorgeous. In fact, my whole definition of "drop-dead gorgeous" has changed). This change has been extraordinarily freeing. I like to think that this isn't just a matter of having been married for fifteen years, that even if I weren't in a monogamous relationship, I would no longer make a fool of myself over men.

8. I have money.

I've been working full time and earning money for 25 years now. I've saved. I've invested. It helps that I never had children, but even if I had, I would not be in situations like I was at age 24 when I had to choose between an oil change in the car and groceries. I don't have extravagant tastes, at least, not when it comes to things like clothes and cars. I do like good, fresh, organic food, so that's where I am extravagant (and, really, that is a cheap extravagance compared to something like Jimmy Choo). That means that on the occasions when I want to be truly extravagant (taking a private sleeper car on Amtrak from New York to New Mexico, say), I can be so without having to worry that I won't be able to pay the rent (which, by the way, is no longer rent, but rather, a mortgage on my dream home in Maine).

9. I am aware that I am not old.
Okay, in fairness, I've been aware of this for a long time. When I was in my twenties, I figured out that no one is old until his or her obituary would no longer cause shock. For instance, if you were to read my obituary tomorrow (and you're not fifteen years old), my guess is that you would think, "Oh my God. She was so young!" Until someone has reached the age at which an obituary would make someone think, "Well, she lived a good, long life," she is not old. That means, in my book, you have to be at least in your early eighties to be old. My father, for instance, is now allowed to tell me he's old, but before he turned eighty, I wouldn't listen to him.

10. I can't think of a good #10.
Ten is a nice, round number, though. We mature folks like things to be nice and orderly and round.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

You've Got to Read This! TBR Challenge Book (Book Eight)

Roth, Philip. American Pastoral. New York: Vintage, 1998.

(As promised, I'm starting to "catch up" on my TBR Challenge posts.)

Wow! Just plain wow! I read this last summer, and I know Philip Roth doesn't exactly spring to mind when one thinks of light summer reading, but at the time, I had sort of been "o.d.-ing" on light summer reading, which is like spending a day eating nothing but candy. After a while, your mouth begins to hurt from all the sugar, and you find you are still quite hungry (at least if you're me. I need more than carbs loaded with sugar to stave off hunger), while, at the same time, having lost interest in eating because you're feeling a little sick. I was beginning to think I was losing interest in reading. Then, I remembered how I'd been extending my evening walks in order to be able to keep listening to the audio version of this that I'd downloaded from the library onto my iTouch. A couple of times, I'd reached home and had sat on the back steps to continue listening. I decided to continue with the print version. Voila! My obsessive interest in reading resurfaced. I was mesmerized and finished it longing for something else as good and as substantial.

Anyway, it's another one of those books that so wonderfully lays out for the reader that the so-called American dream is nothing but that: a dream. In this case, you can work your way up from nothing, do everything that is "right," become a multimillionaire, move out to the suburbs. And still, still, the dream eludes you. Not on the surface, of course, but where it counts: inside the idyllic "country" home; underneath the expensive, fashionable clothes; behind the degrees and awards hanging on all the walls; buried in the basement of the high rises that are home to the corporate offices. In fact, you might think you are better off than your forebears, stuck living in a 2-room tenement apartment, working 12-hour days, six days a week in a sweatshop, when, actually, emotionally, you are no better off than they were, no happier. How did that happen? This is America, where once you achieve the dream, you are supposed to be happy.

If you were to travel back in time to spy on your great-great grandfather, you might even be surprised to find that he was happier, less confused, less tortured than you are. You might also be surprised to find that those living in the 21st-century equivalent of tenement houses, those for whom (if you are kind-hearted) you might even feel sorry or about whom (if you are mean-spirited) you might say, "Get a job. Make something of yourself," could be less tortured than you are. They may not be happier, of course (and if not, they can all blame each other for never being where they should be, never doing enough to make the money to get out of this hell hole, which is a different sort of "American dream" story, the sort Russell Banks or Wallace Stegner might put between two covers), but they very well could be.

You may wonder why that is, but Philip Roth doesn't. He knows it has to do with your family dynamics and how you choose to deal with them. It has to do with knowing yourself, not other peoples' versions of you, but you: who you really are, what you really want in life, and what is really important to you. It also has to do with knowing those you call "family." (Or not knowing, as the case may be.)

The book's main protagonist is Swede Levov (or "the Swede," as he is called), the sort of high school athlete that the majority of young boys idolize to some degree. Nathan Zuckerman, who narrates his story to us, certainly does. A neighbor, several years younger than the Swede, Nathan is friends with Swede's younger brother Jerry, and he describes the high school athlete thus,

Yes, everywhere he looked, people were in love with him...His aloofness, his seeming passivity as the desired object of all this asexual lovemaking, made him appear, if not divine, a distinguished cut above the more primordial humanity of just about everybody else at the school. (p. 5)

(That brief quote should be enough to demonstrate for you what a flat-out talented writer Roth is. There's breath-taking, quotable prose on nearly every page. He's the sort of writer who makes those of us who write feel like we ought to give it all up and go join the circus or something.)

The Swede, looking in from the outside, has it all. He's the beloved high school sweetheart in his small New Jersey town , earning admiration, not jealousy. He joins the marine corps, hoping to be sent to Japan, only to have WWII end just as he's wrapping up boot camp. Instead of shipping off to Japan, he becomes a drill sergeant and then returns to New Jersey to attend college, to marry Miss New Jersey, and, eventually, to take over as the president of his father's glove manufacturing company. He moves out to the wealthy Newark suburb of Old Rimrock.

That's an American success story, isn't it? Swede's grandfather did work in one of those sweatshops. Two generations later, the grandson is living in an old farmhouse on 100 acres of land, married to a beauty queen. And yet, the Swede's life is nothing but a tragedy, a tragedy he cannot escape.

He can't escape this tragedy because he can't escape his father's tyranny. He has learned to cope with it, knows it's there, but has buried the truth of it. His means of coping is to accept, not to fight -- his brother Jerry takes the opposite approach, fighting tooth and claw. He copes with it by trying not to be tyrannical with his own child, his daughter Merry whom he adores, not the mere apple but the whole apple tree of his eye. He tries so hard not to be like his father, and yet, he still loses his daughter. She still becomes something unrecognizable to him, something he cannot understand. And once this happens, his wife becomes unrecognizable, unknowable, as well.

The Swede loves his wife and daughter. He loves their life together. He gives them what he thinks they want and need, everything he thinks they want and need. Somehow, though, it isn't enough. The brilliance in what Roth has conceived here is that in his giving, he is, on some levels, as tyrannical as his father was, because, you see, he is giving them what he thinks they want and need. He's not always listening to them. He is rarely understanding them. He's not capable, it seems, of separating them from himself. If he's happy, then they must be happy. We can't really blame him, though. He was never taught how to get to know someone, how to listen, how to try to understand. Nobody in his birth family ever bothered to know him. And it's not as though his wife and daughter are making much of an effort to get to know him, either.

I've written this much already and have barely scratched the surface of what a Great Book this is. For instance, Bob, ever since I've known him, has stated that the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis is merely the story of "growing up": we live an idyllic life in Eden as babies when all our needs, wants, and desires are met. Then adolescence and young adulthood hit, and awareness sets in (we eat that "fruit"), and finally, we are left with the reality that to be human is harsh, that we have to work hard and will suffer greatly. Roth gives us a beautiful spin on this idea, even dividing the book into three parts, "Paradise Remembered," "The Fall," and "Paradise Lost."

There's so much more I could say here about this perfectly conceived and executed book, but I won't. I will just end by saying that I, most definitely, will be reading more Roth at some point. I am quite sure that anything else I read by him will do nothing but disappoint. This has got to be the man's Masterpiece. Still, I'm impressed enough to want to explore more.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Everybody has his/her own idea of Heaven, and some people's Heaven would definitely be my Hell (a never-ending shopping mall, say, with a never-ending supply of cash. Or all-NASCAR racing, all the time). My idea of Heaven is more like this photo. You can't see it, but adjacent to the room where this bed sits is a library with shelves that fill and refill themselves with beautiful, illustrated editions of everything I've ever put into the TBR tome and more. There is no such thing as time, so, yes, I will read everything I want to read (and reread, too). The windows are self-cleaning, of course (in fact, everything is self-cleaning and maintenance-free), and all my favorite food, drink, and candy appears just as I begin to long for it while propped up in this bed, reading. I can eat, drink, and lie around in bed all day forever, if I want, and I will suffer no ill effects.

I don't think I want to do that forever, though, so there is also a huge bathroom with a beautiful claw-foot tub. When I want to do something a little bit different, I take my book into the bath with me and lie in a fabulously-scented bubble bath. Downstairs, there is a state-of-the-art and always well-stocked kitchen, where, when I'm in another sort of mood, I can cook to my heart's content (but I don't have to. In fact, I only have to eat when I want to. When it comes to food, hunger is no longer an issue, only desire), while listening to music on the best sound system ever.

I have lots of time to myself and no obligations. However, whenever I think of someone I love and want to see, he or she appears. We chat away, maybe out in the jacuzzi on the deck off the kitchen, or in the kitchen, if my loved one is someone else who likes to cook. Or maybe we choose to play board games, sitting in the living room in comfy, overstuffed chairs by a fire, because weather is whatever I want it to be. If I want a chilly, rainy day and a fire, I can have it. If I want a warm, sunny day lying in a hammock, I can have that. If I want a beautiful snow storm, swirling all around me, to watch while lying in that bed, I can have that as well. And, then, of course, there are those days when my friends think of me and long to see me, and I find myself visiting all kinds of other wonderful parts of Heaven, enjoying what they have.

Okay, time to come back down to earth now. What's your idea of heaven?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Girl Who Couldn't Say No (Except to a Dragon Tattoo)

I have only myself to blame, so don't listen to me when I whine and whine about being too busy and having no time. I am incapable of saying "no." This is what my calendar looks like between now and April 1 (and let's not talk about April with all the Lenten/Easter obligations).

Feb. 12th
8:30 a.m.: breakfast meeting with local library board to brainstorm fund raising ideas (okay flatter me, and I'll tend to say "yes." I was chosen as someone the board "thinks might have good ideas").

10:30 a.m.: putting together a display for the church's community outreach committee (of which I am co-moderator) for the church's annual meeting on Sunday

3:00 p.m.: first birthday party for a friend's grandson (I'm particularly partial to this little boy, because his name is Ian, which you all know happens to be my brother's name.)

Feb. 13th
10:45 a.m.: Church's annual meeting
11:30 a.m.: Church's annual luncheon after the annual meeting (and, yes, I offered to make something. I'm going to make Thai peanut noodles. Sometime on Saturday. Please don't ask me "when?")

Feb. 15th
6:00 p.m.: puppy obedience class (I'm also, somewhere, supposed to be doing homework for that.)

Feb. 17th:
7:00 p.m. Session meeting

Feb. 21st:
No work, and it's my birthday, so I'm hoping either to drive down to DE and take a long walk on a deserted beach and explore deserted beach towns or else to do some used bookstore shopping in Harrisburg, PA. I haven't made up my mind. (Of course, I might just stay in bed and read and sleep all day for my birthday instead. We'll see.)

Feb. 26th:
8:30 a.m.: breakfast with a friend
10:00 - 12:00: brainstorming session at church about Presbyterian Women
Then headed down to Charlottesville, VA to visit my parents.

Feb. 28th:
Meeting with an author in VA

March 1st:
6:00 p.m.: puppy obedience class
7:30 p.m.: Christian ed committee meeting

March 6th:
Headed up to Tarrytown, NY for
4:00: cooking presentation by contributor of one of the books I edited
Whenever that's over: continue to Stamford, CT to visit brother-in-law and spend the night with him

March 7th:
7:00 p.m. Community outreach committee meeting

March 8th:
6:00 p.m.: puppy obedience class (yes, they do go on forever. We've got 8 weeks of them.)
7:30: p.m.: Mardi Gras pancake party thrown by church youth

March 9th:
Noon: Ash Wednesday service at church

March 10th:
6:15 p.m.: serving dinner at the center for our disadvantaged youth

March 15th:
6:00 p.m. puppy obedience class

March 17th:
7:00 p.m. Session meeting

March 18th:
12:00 noon: lunch meeting in NYC with author
Afterwards: getting together with friend who now lives in Miami who will be visiting her daughter who is in college in NY (I haven't seen either in about ten years.)

March 19th:
5:30 p.m.: Christian ed dinner for parents and kids

March 22nd:
6:00 p.m.: puppy obedience class

March 24th - 27th:
My college roommate is coming for her first visit to my home in PA

March 27th:
6:30 p.m. board game night

I don't suppose anyone would be willing to dress up as my double and replace me at some of these events while I sit at home, sipping "calming" tea and reading?

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Help! I'm Turning into an Old Lady

The day was an extraordinarily busy one. Can I use that as an excuse? I hope so. Anyway, it was January, which means, at work, self evaluation, annual review, and goal-setting time on top of all the other normal work that eight hours every day never seems to be enough time to get done. After work, at 6:00, we had Clare's first puppy obedience class, and after that, we were going to arrive (a bit late) for the deacons' meeting at church (which started at 7:00). I'm not a deacon, but I was attending to propose an idea I had that would involve both elders (I am one of those) and deacons. Bob was attending...well, because he's the minister.

5:00 rolled around, and I was still finishing up responding to emails I'd been putting off responding to all day in favor of other stuff that needed to get done. Somehow, I managed to get them done and breathed a huge sigh of relief to think I still had plenty of time. Then, I remembered that, being a woman, I was married to a man (at least, right now, that's how "marriage" is defined in the state of Pennsylvania). This meant that Bob, being said man, would (sorry, other men who read my blog) work up until the very last minute, make sure he was ready to go, and then expect to leave. It would be up to me to think of such things as feeding the puppy and making sure she'd gone out before we left.

Skip ahead to 5:45. I'm standing outside, still trying to get Clare to "do her business" before we leave. She's busy sniffing around, digging up twigs to eat. Bob comes racing out the door saying, "We must leave now." I'm so flustered -- admittedly, I hadn't realized it was quite so late -- that I rush Clare back into the house to grab my purse and meet Bob at the car.

We've decided, since this is such a short trip, not to bother with Clare's dog carrier, so the 14-minute ride is spent trying to keep her from climbing onto Bob's lap, where she desperately wants to be. Bob's worrying about how late we're going to be (we weren't. We were actually right on time, but we live in Lancaster County, PA, which has its own ideas about time -- Bob and I joke about "real time" and "Lancaster County time". We were there on the dot of six, but everyone else had been sitting around for ten minutes by the time we got there). I was worried about how, since we obviously have very little control over her, Clare was going to be one of those dogs you hear about who flunks obedience school.

Finally, we arrive in the parking lot. With great relief, I open the door, carefully deposit Clare on the pavement, and climb out myself. As we walk towards PetSmart, Bob happens to look down at my feet.

"Oh my God. You're wearing your slippers!" he informs me.

Oh. My. God. I was. And these weren't like those cute Ugg-type slippers that it was very cool for teenagers to wear around town a few years back. No. These are Acorns, with a bright, embarrassing design that brings Spirograph to mind (for those of you old enough to remember Spirograph). I'd worked out and showered at lunch, and slipped into them, planning to change into my boots just before we left. But, obviously, I'd never changed into the boots.

I can't believe it. I've become one of those little old ladies who leaves the house in her slippers. What will be next? A bathrobe and hair curlers? Tell me: should I just shoot myself now?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Bob and Emily Talk IX

Emily is playing Colorku. This is an extremely cool game that Bob got her for Christmas a few years back. Think: "tactile-ly/visually- pleasing Sudoku." It's a wooden grid with indentations that hold wooden marbles painted in pretty colors. It comes with a deck of cards that indicate "playing boards" that tell you where to place different marbles to create puzzles of varying difficulty. Then it's played just like Sudoku, only with colors instead of numbers.

Bob (who has never done a Sudoku puzzle): So, tell me, what is it you're trying to do again?

Emily: Put all the marbles on the board so that no row, column, or segment has more than one marble of each color.

Bob (after studying the board for a minute): Oh, so you mean (indicating a spot), you could put a purple one here, maybe?

Emily (surveying the spot he suggests): Maybe. Which color?

Bob points to a marble.

Emily (surveying it some more): Oh yeah, I think a grape one can go there. And if a grape one goes there, the eggshell one can go here. (She puts the marbles in their places.)

Bob: The what?

Emily: The eggshell.

Bob: You mean light blue. And try putting a light green one here.

Emily: Ooo, yes. You're good at this. And if that apple one goes there, then the other apple one can go here.

Bob: But I don't see where you're going to put the light purple one in that row.

Emily: Oh, the periwinkle can go here, see? And then, that means the pine one has to go here.

Bob: Periwinkle?

Emily: Yes. I know it looks like we've got a lot of them left, but don't worry. They'll all fall into place, especially if we figure out where those last two pine ones go, which shouldn't be too hard to do now.

Bob: Pine? (Emily picks up a marble.) Oh, you mean dark green.

Question: When did Bob and Emily become such male and female stereotypes when it comes to color recognition and naming? More importantly: when did Emily start speaking like a J. Crew catalog?