Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day

I've been incredibly busy for the past week and then some. One article is due tomorrow, necessitating many phone calls to sources, and one of my regular clients needed three large proposals edited. One of those proposals somehow made it to a near-final phase (at the client's end) without showing my changes, so I volunteered to go through and add the changes from a previous version to the near-final version before the whole thing was printed. I'm all about shooting for perfection where editing is concerned, and it would have bothered me more than I'd like to admit to let the document go while knowing it contained all of the original errors. Besides, I'll get paid for it. A friend also sent one of her clients my way, and I wrote her a bang-up press release. Tons of work. I am blessed.

On Thursday, as I was working away and taking breaks to hang out with the kiddo, he came to me and said his belly wasn't feeling good. I asked him if he wanted to lie down on my bed, but when he did so, his face told me that was a big mistake. Thinking I could pick him up and whisk him off to the bathroom, I asked him if he thought he was going to throw up. "What's throwing up?" he asked, right before he vomited all over my bed and the floor...oh, and himself.

I grabbed a towel and picked him up, carrying him daintily, yet swiftly, to the tub. He felt better, but insisted he didn't want to touch his own clothes. I couldn't blame him; they were gross. (I'm kindly sparing you from a graphic description of the contents here.) I got him all cleaned up, got the bed and floor all cleaned up (carpet cleaner is great for mattresses, it turns out), and the kiddo decided to rest on the couch downstairs while I took a quick shower and called my son's dad to give him a heads-up about the barfing episode. "I believe it was because he was overly full of milk and the rest of his lunch," I told him. "He asked for so much milk and I think he didn't realize how full he'd feel. I think we should just let some time pass before giving him seconds on anything and let him realize he's getting full."

"Really?" my son's dad said. "I was wondering if it might be a blockage." I swear, that guy always imagines there's a blockage or major illness. "No," I told him, "kids just throw up sometimes. Look, it's been about two years since he last threw up -- he didn't even know what 'throwing up' meant."

About three hours later, at about 8:00 p.m., I was wondering whether or not I should wake the kiddo so we could shop for a Father's Day gift for his dad, who was coming in the morning to pick him up for the weekend. (We hadn't been able to take care of this earlier due to my busy workweek.) If I had another adult here, I would've entrusted my son to that person and gone shopping myself. As it was, I knew I'd have to wake up the kid and go shopping, or help him make some kind of craft in them morning. When I considered the thought of beans and glitter and wet glue in the morning, I figured it would be simpler to just drag him to the store. Of course, I often find I define "simple" in relative terms.

I struggled to wake up my son, struggled to keep him happy while we carried out a surgical strike on the mall, picked up some food on the way home (no way was I cooking after the day we'd had) and although we had a few tears (his, not mine) along the way, wound up with a happy kid who was excited about giving his dad the simple gifts he'd picked out all by himself.

The next morning we put the gifts in a gift bag (my son had picked a hot-pink bag, telling me, "Daddy looooves pink!") with red tissue paper and an orange construction paper card that my son decorated with hearts and smiley faces. I told him the letters to write to spell "Happy Father's Day," and he wrote them himself. Daddy arrived a little before 9:00 a.m. and we were ready. As my little guy and his dad walked down the stairs, his dad said, "Wow! We'll open this on Father's Day, okay?" and my son told him, "No, we'll open it today, because I made a decision that you could open it today!"

Whatever they decided, I hope they're having a happy day today.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Merrily We Roll Along

Wow. We just had a little earthquake. I guess it was 5.6 in Anza,CA, which is about 90-100 miles from us. According to the basic data posted, we probably felt it at about 1-2. All I know is I was trying to catch afew extra z's while my son played downstairs, and the bed shook a bit. I thought he'd come up to play! The closet doors also rattled shortly afterward. My son said he noticed the blinds shake downstairs. I looked up the information online and my son sat on my lap to look at the maps, so he was able to see that the main earthquake actually happened quite far from us.

So there's the earthquake report! No damage, no trauma, nothing. This is much better than a hurricane. ;^)

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Interview Questions

Yay! I have, interviewees. ;^) Here goes...

Questions for emdot:

1. The question that won't go away: You are a superhero. Choose three superpowers, a costume and a theme song.

2. What is your most regrettable '80s fashion choice?

3. What do you typically eat for breakfast?

4. Name five things you cannot love without. (I meant to type "live," but "love" makes it so much more interesting.)

5. What pair of shoes in your closet is getting the most wear these days and why?


Questions for Alyssa:

1. The question that won't go away: You are a superhero. Choose three superpowers, a costume and a theme song.

2. What do you now know about marriage that you didn't know before getting married?

3. When shopping, what color do you find yourself repeatedly drawn to, and why?

4. What would you like to be doing in your life in five years?

5. What pair of shoes in your closet is getting the most wear these days and why?


Remember to post the answers on your blog, and please let me know when you've done it! Also remember to post the rules and interview someone who responds. Thanks for playing...

Friday, June 03, 2005

The One in Which I Try to Sidestep Organ Puns

I often forget the way playing the piano can clear my head.

One of the reasons I chose this condo was that the owners planned to leave behind their piano, as it was too cumbersome to move and wouldn't fit in their new digs anyway. Have you read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? The connection is not lost on me.

When I first moved in, I played the piano a lot -- not especially well, but a lot. I was trained as an organist from about age eight or nine until my late teens, and played for several church choirs (Masses, weddings, funerals, Confirmations, First Communions, etc.) beginning at about age 13 and ending in my early twenties, when I became too busy with college and life in general. I was no virtuoso, but I was blessed with a patient mentor named Lorraine Stiles, and I knew my way around a keyboard well enough that eventually I was paid to play on occasion.

Often I asked a friend of mine to show up to weddings to turn pages for me, and I usually took her out to lunch afterward. That was fun. Funerals weren't fun. Once I played for the funeral of a girl who'd gone to my school. Her family was Greek and I could hear them wailing downstairs as I played in the choir loft. The memory of that sound still rips me apart. After my Uncle Al died in 1984, just days after my high school graduation, I organized a choir comprised of my friends and family with the best voices, planned the music and rehearsed everyone, and we provided the music for his memorial Mass. Although it was horrible that he died, I felt really blessed to be able to honor his memory in my own way, especially since the visiting priest forgot my uncle's name and the memorial was a bit bungled.

The church housed a grand piano, as well as the pipe organ, in the choir loft. Most of the time, no one played it, but one or two choirs for which I played sometimes brought in a pianist to add to the accompaniment on special occasions like Christmas. We also had guitarists most of the time, drums a lot of the time, someone on chimes on occasion, and brass once in a blue moon.

I practiced a lot at home and at the church (I still have the old key to the church organ on my key ring), and loved to play for hours at a time. When practicing in the empty church, the only thing that would stop me was my own rumbling stomach. You know how folks talk about being "in the zone"? That's what it was like for me. I played hymns, parts of the Mass, classical music and the odd secular piece. The pastor, Monsignor Duffy, frowned on the use of secular music in the church, but I played it sometimes if the church was totally empty, and if the music was pretty and could be construed as worship-worthy. (Monsignor Duffy has passed away since my days there, and I have a feeling he forgives me.) ;^)

Anyway, I got sidetracked by life and things were changing at the church, so I moved on and the church hired a proper music director. I'd been volunteering my time anyway, playing up to three Masses on Sundays and practicing on my own time as well, so it seemed like a good idea for me to make a change.

But I missed playing.

You probably never see pipe organs in hotel lobbies or church halls, but I bet you see pianos around. I often wished I could just sit down and play every time I encountered an unattended piano, but despite what most people think, playing the organ is a lot different than playing the piano. Since I wasn't trained on the piano, I found myself at a loss. Yes, I had a four-octave electric keyboard at home, but it was nothing like the organ I used to practice on, with its multi-octave pedal board, expression pedals, double keyboard and gazillion stops. Still, I made do for a while. Then life accelerated and I forgot all about playing. In all honesty, I was frustrated with the limitations of my electric keyboard and longed for a proper instrument.

Fast forward to 2003, as I looked for a place to live. The owners of the condo were planning to leave most of their furniture, as well as the piano. As coincidence would have it, I'd been browsing through piano ads online for years, dreaming of buying or renting one someday. Why a piano and not an organ? Well, look at the ads and tell me how many ads for electric organs you find. Also, maintaining the older ones is a pain. Besides, pianos sound lovely and organs sort of peaked in the seventies. Remember going shopping and hearing the salesmen at organ stores playing schmaltzy tunes that wafted through the mall? Heh. You don't encounter that any more, I'll bet.

So now I have a piano. I don't know how long I'll have it, as I'm thinking about moving again, and it costs money to move and tune a piano.

Although I played it a lot right after I moved in (and started to sound pretty decent), once again life took over. My son's dad and I went to court and I found myself leaving the piano closed for ever-longer periods of time. I began devoting more attention to my computer keyboard than to the ivories.

A little while ago, though, I went downstairs, flipped up the cover, checked the keys for dust, and played. I was rusty, but some tunes came back to me as I played, and I didn't even close the windows.

It felt good to be back on the bench. Maybe I'll do this more often.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Random Thoughts

Wigs ready to be put away after the "Snow White" musical to which I took my son last weekend.

  • An alarm clock across the way is buzzing endlessly, and the neighbors' window (and mine) is open. I hope they come home soon. Most likely they set it for p.m. when they meant to set it for a.m. Ah, one of the facts of living so near other people. I'm sure they have their complaints about me, however misguided they may be. ;^)

  • I took my son for a checkup today. His dad insisted on coming. Kiddo passed with flying colors, but I had a hard time afterward, as we acted like a family and I was painfully aware that we aren't. I honestly don't know if I'll ever get over that loss. Most of the time I feel like I'll be sad about that forever. I'm trying to stay open to being pleasantly surprised.

  • My son was counting the minutes until his dad would pick him up this evening. He started asking "how much more time" when there were still 360 minutes to go, and didn't stop until Daddy arrived. I'm happy for him now that he gets to play video games and hang out with his dad.

  • After the doctor appointment, I took my son out to lunch and came home to try to work. One client has questions about a completed job; I have invoices to send to another client. Other clients need attention. This is all good. I pray for work and try to be ready for it. Good, good, good.

  • All things in their time. I know this. Work is sorting itself out. The other stuff will likely follow suit.

  • I have a couple of interview requests (yay!), so I'll send questions in the next day or so. :-)

  • My allergies hit me midday and now I'm just waiting for a socially acceptable time to take a Benadryl and go to bed.

  • That alarm clock is still buzzing.