Surviving a snow day is 99% impassivity and 1% irascibility.
It’s after 1pm, so the longest haul is behind us. Snow days, while completely delightful for The Who, are pretty much torture for me. I don’t enjoy staying inside all day, especially when I am forced to. There’s nothing charming about this snow (I mean, ok, it is the prettiest snowfall we have had this winter) and I don’t own any waterproof garments, so there’ll be no going outside in it. I can’t say I even know where The Who’s snowpants are, so sending him out alone into the yard to wander around like only an only child does isn’t going to happen either. He’s currently building a “bridge” out of pillows and blankets and boxed board games. I always thought that that thing about how onlies learn to occupy themselves was a load of crap; my kid needs an audience. But as it turns out, necessity is the father of invention (What? Is that a thing? Did I make that up?) and he’s actually pretty damn good at making the hours tick by. He played some piano. We made oobleck. There was lunch in there somewhere. (He still talks to us the whole time he’s playing “alone,” though. “Mommy? Pretend this is the busiest New York City bridge and, like, there are so many cars and trucks going across and pretend there is a cop on one side and pretend the bridge has a light on one side and all the people have to go across. Pretend that, Mommy, ok Mommy?” I’m glad he’s talking to Mommy and not me. I’m not gonna lie.)
Snow days make me think of being a kid. The sound of a midnight plow on a snow-muffled street. The celebratory sibling dance upon finding out that school was called off. It’s Throwback Thursday already, but every snow day is a throwback for me.Here are mine; I’m channeling spring and summer.
I believe it’s time for some bullets, yes?
- I am no longer sick and coffee is just as good as I remember it. Maybe better.
- I’m going gray. You heard it here first. (Or, in some cases, second.) It feels like a revolutionary decision — to be in my early 40s and to stop coloring my hair, which has only ever been brown, dark brown, or burgundy. Maybe I will have more to say about it as the growing-out process continues. Or maybe not. Some women are the first in their family to go to college. I, near as I can tell, am the first woman in my family to stop coloring her hair for any reason other than dementia.
- I’ve been thinking about risk-taking behavior lately. And I don’t mean, like, bungee jumping or mountain climbing. I mean small choices with potentially big implications. Going to bed without brushing. Sending a text at a red light. Skipping doctor visits. I never thought that I was a risk-taker or terribly self-destructive. I wear my seat belt. I stay within 10 mph of the speed limit. I don’t do drugs and I rarely drink more than a glass of wine. But recently, a couple of things have been pointed out to me and I’m wondering if some of my choices are fueled by a feeling of invincibility, a desire to tempt fate, or a belief that my life isn’t as precious or important as it actually is. I asked some friends to tell me their risk-taking behavior and some did, but I don’t think I got 100% honesty. Either that or everyone really is way better at caring for themselves than I am.
- The Who told me yesterday that my bed was “the coziest bed ever” and it’s funny because I had just been thinking the opposite. It’s too firm and the mattress-topper keeps shifting and annoying me. I do, however, have the coziest blankets ever. So, there’s that.
- I love rubrics.
- I never cease to be delighted by The Who in ballet attire.
I am not, let me tell you, a girl who skips a meal. Feed a cold, feed a fever, feed it all. But what I have put past my lips in the past 48 hours can be measured in slices (of toast), grains (of rice), and sips (of ginger ale.) It’s getting kind of old. And I could also do without the chills and low-grade fever that has popped up every night for the past three just as the sun sets. If I look straight ahead and stay under a blanket, it’s ok. But we all know how well that goes when there’s a 6-year-old in the house.
Tomorrow, I’ll be better. Because I’m willing it so.
The number of local coffee shops that also offer decent food and free internet and who also don’t mind if you hunker down to work for hours is decreasing at an alarming rate. Although my preference is always to patronize local joints, anyone who’s been paying attention knows that I spend more time at Panera than any normal person should. (The legend — at least to me and to one woman who works at the Springfield location is that I even went into labor in the corner table.)
But whether Panera is intentionally trying to weed out the home-office-steaders who overstay their welcome or they just don’t care about their customer base (neither of which gives me a warm fuzzy feeling about them) lately, their internet service has been despicable. I don’t even really blame them. Free wifi is ubiquitous now, especially if you’re a cable subscriber, so it probably doesn’t behoove them to offer up their already-limited table space to people like me who are going to stay all day. It’s not like it used to be. Back when I was a kid, free wifi was so hard to come by…….(You know the rest of this story. Uphill both ways. In the snow.)
I’m only writing this post because The Atlantic promised me I would live a longer, better, healthier life if I complained as often as possible. I’m just doing what I can for my health. (Maybe I have blown the story a little out of proportion. Perhaps.) Anyway, to that end, there’s this diatribe against Panera’s sub-par internet. And just as insurance for a long life, I will also offer up brief commentary about the lattes at the place I ended up (medicinal-tasting; why?), one-hour meters (come on; just an hour?), winter in general (I know I’m not in Boston, but it still sucks here), and cauliflower (ain’t nobody got time for that shit.)
However, in the interest of balance (and although I’m risking my continued good health in doing so) here are some things to celebrate:
- In fact, we are not in Boston. A grand total of Barely Any Snow this winter has been a gift.
- Upon walking in the door of this coffee shop, the coveted table — the big one in the window with ample outlets and a padded bench — was being vacated by a friendly guy who did not shame me for staking my claim while he was still buttoning his pea coat.
- I’ve got a manageable editing side job that will pad my savings account for the next several weeks or so quite nicely.
- I don’t hate my job this term; in fact, I kind of enjoy it and feel optimistic about next term, too.
- Spring is coming. It always does.
It didn’t snow today, as we all now know. Well, of course, it did — a little. Just enough to keep us guessing. It’s starting! (We’d been waiting for hours.) But it never materialized into anything more than an inch or so. Some ice on the windshield. A slick patch on the walkway, which M graciously salted so I could get to work.
To work. To teach the classes I had smugly neglected to prep, so certain they’d be cancelled. Because, blizzard. Luckily, these are classes I have taught for eleven years. On the drive in, I flipped through my mental syllabus. Week Four. Ah, yes. Group contracts. Topic proposals. Collaborative writing. Cakewalk.
And it was nice to get out of the house. To shower and put on a skirt and makeup and teach things when I had anticipated a day at home with a boy in pajamas, hours of questions and answers and watching the clock until dinnertime. His school had been called off since 8pm last night, so even though we awoke to barely a whisper of weather, he was still in the clear. M was home for the same reason, which was a stroke of very lucky luck from where I sit.
Tomorrow, it’s back to our regularly scheduled programming, which is just fine with me. I don’t even feel remotely jealous of all the joyous playing-in-the-snow photos my Boston friends are posting. Have at it.
They are talking about three more “chances for snow” in the next week or so, which seems more a threat than a promise, especially since we’re getting ready to take a long road trip out to Pittsburgh to meet some friends. But maybe we’ll keep dodging bullets. Maybe the whole rest of the winter (which can’t be very long now — I mean, where the hell did January go?) will be near-misses and dustings. Before we know it, crocuses will be poking their heads out. We’ll be thinking about the vegetables to plant in the garden.
I’m ok with that. I’m already ready to be done with winter wear. Capris are practically calling my name. The cropped-er the pants, the closer to God?
I try so hard not to judge other parents and the things they do just to get by. But when I see obvious ignoring, it really burns me. There’s a mother here at the coffee shop who came in with her 3-year-old, promptly set up an iPad for her, got a coffee (the kid has nothing) and got on her phone. Somehow, the iPad stopped working and needed to be reset, which the mother attempted while she continued to talk on the phone. All the while, the kid is wailing at full voice, “Mommy, it’s not working! Mommy, you didn’t fix it!” Over and over. The mother, mostly oblivious, only pauses her conversation when people look over at her to say to the kid, “Stop. It takes time. I am fixing it. People are staring at you.” And I keep wanting to say, “No, lady. We’re staring at *you*. No one blames the kid for whining in the face of your blatant disregard. We blame you. Hang up the phone for a second and attend to the broken device, which you brought here to keep her quiet so you could presumably do work. Or talk. Or something. Or whatever.
Again, I have absolutely done my fair share of tuning out a whine. And I have absolutely turned to technology as a babysitter. But I have never continued to tune my child out when he was standing a foot from my face, clearly saying, “Stop talking and help me.” (I have, however, put down the phone and said, “I am talking right now and I will help you as soon as I can.” I don’t think that just because kid demands attention means that he or she gets it that instant.)
Taking time for oneself is essential. Telling your kids they need to occupy themselves while you check out on the phone, in a book, with tv, etc. is completely acceptable and understandable. But what I can’t abide is half-listening. Half-attention. It’s no shame to withhold attention, but it is a shame to give it halfway. It feels crappy and demeaning and disrespectful to be on the receiving end of half-attention and it’s a good reminder for me to see it happening because it reminds me to be more mindful of it myself. I don’t want my kid to grow up thinking that he was interesting to me, only if something else more interesting wasn’t going on.
I’ve got glitter on my eyelids again today. Because it affects my sense of self-worth. How can you feel really bad about yourself when your eyelids are shimmering? Even reading it in writing, knowing how insane it sounds, I still believe it. I feel pretty, oh so pretty. I feel pretty and witty and gay. Um.
School’s closing early today for the 1-3″ of snow they expect to start falling…aaaaany minute now. An early closing means no afternoon kindergarten. When there’s a delayed opening, however, there is still AM kindergarten. My recollection from kindergarten (and, believe it or not, I do have many) is that when there was a delay, AM kindergarten was off and when there was an early release, PM was off. I don’t know how decisions are made. All I know is that I have to go get my kid from the before-school program because there’s nowhere for him to go since school’s closed. (Also, that’s a lie; my friend is picking my kid up. But I do have to cheerfully receive him.)
I meant it when I said that I remember kindergarten. I at least remember being kindergarten-aged. To be honest, actual school-related details are limited to arrival on the first day, the image of my teacher’s long, black braid, the room number, getting treated for head lice in the nurse’s office and kindergarten graduation. But I remember a lot about being five and six. Even though I have sporadic earlier memories (including my earliest from around one) kindergarten is probably when I really came online. And realizing this lends a certain amount of gravity to, like, everything now. The Who is going to remember things now. Maybe in 34 years, he will sit at a computer (or maybe just have thoughts that will be automatically typed out — who knows what the technology will be in 2049) and type out a memory of that one time when school was called off due to snow and he spent the afternoon putting together a picture frame made of 100 colored craft sticks while a few guys banged around on drywall and lumber in the basement.
It’s crazy to think about him as a 40-year-old. And just this morning, as I watched his impossibly long legs carry him to the bathroom to brush his teeth, I thought it was crazy to remember him as a newborn. Shit’s moving way too fast. Also, sometimes, not fast enough. At least there’s always time to throw a little glitter on my eyelids before I start my day.