Archive for the 'they crack me up' Category

i would do a sport for her

“Remember, if he does anything else that makes you uncomfortable, I will rip his head off and play soccer with it. I would do that for you.”

“Yeah, Claire. Mama would play SOCCER for you.”

playing robert miles’ “children” for claire

“This is literally just a kick drum and a synth.”

“In the nineties we didn’t have any musical instruments.”

“Yes you did.”

“We had two skateboards in the entire world. We had to share.”

“Mama.”

“There were only eleven of us.”

“And you were all green.”

“Yes. We were all green.”

australia

adventure time: mountain climbing

As a fan of sunbeams and meadows, I am very much in favor of Mt Tam.

Some of our short roommates share my enthusiasm for these landscapes.

Others find the whole California thing kind of tacky and overdone.

adventure time: in the greatest city in the world

The Egyptian wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

The Museum of Modern Art, including my favorite works of art:

The New York Public Library:

Some show or other:

What an unbelievably great and awesome trip; we are so lucky.

adventure time: staycationing

Claire is at Star Wars again, Jeremy and Julia are with Yoz and Dexter and I am sitting in the house alone with the kittens and the clothes dryer! Amazing scenes.

I have become the type of mother that keeps a To-do list of holiday activities in Evernote; Ian accuses me of being “improving.” Monday we finished off the Christmas shopping – Desigual had a sale so the children made out like bandits, as you shall see. Tuesday we went ice skating, Wednesday we visited the Winchester Mystery House, which was more interesting than I had expected, and the Tech Museum of Innovation, which was slightly less. God love my little wolf pack, though; they can kill hours in even the most dated of science museums.

Christmas Eve we had lasagne at Jack’s house, and I made a very ugly pavlova; Christmas morning we went out for Claire’s birthday dim sum and then to Ian and Lisa’s for Orphan’s Christmas, where I made a very pretty pavlova. It was all very delicious and satisfactory.

Yesterday we finally made it to MoAD, which has terrific shows by Alison Saar and Kenyatta A. C. Hinkle, all about black women’s bodies and the pressure of history and the thorns and glass and glitter beneath the surface; and to the Contemporary Jewish Museum which had a great show full of robotics and color and light, of which the below was my absolute favorite.

I lay there for a while pretending to be an astrophysicist studying a white dwarf from a ship in zero-G while Jeremy and Julia came and went around me at interesting angles. I’ve checked off not-quite-half the items on my To-do list, and it’s been a terrific holiday.

two homecomings

I spent the week in Vegas for work, which is always deeply strange, like going to a habitat on Mars. You fly in over red wasteland and craters and then everything is under one roof and you never go outside. Except for one walk along the lobby of the convention center after the keynote, I had no direct sunlight for four days. Not good. How can I photosynthesize under these conditions.

It was an indescribable relief to be home, basking in a sun-drenched San-Francisco-in-October day, even if the Blue Angels were roaring overhead, reminding us that our space for progressive pacifism is provisional and may be revoked at any time. Claire spent the same four days at a school camp and I met her at the bus. She was filthy and cheerful. She demanded that I play Hamilton in the car, and she wanted Peruvian for lunch: “Camp food was too bland.” Definitely my kid, then. We had empanadas and lomo saltado and chicken and sweet potato fries and mango lemonade. She told me the camp gossip and I caught her up on our mutual fandoms. Mallory Ortberg discovered Steven Universe, which makes us both very happy.

I missed her in a new way during this separation, not only as my kid but as someone who makes me laugh in her own right, who makes me think. Someone I would want to be friends with anyway.

The city has had a series of almost tastelessly lurid sunsets lately and tonight’s was ablaze.

“The sky is weird colours,” I told Jeremy.

“You’ve been in Vegas,” he said. “You haven’t seen the sky.”

“The sky is colours!”

“The sky!”

(I already used half these jokes on Twitter; sorry about that.)

five things because i’ll probably forget again on friday

1. There is a much longer story about the horse show that I will doubtless tell each of you over a bottle of wine some time, which begins with Nick-the-horse dumping me onto a fence at our Friday lesson, such that his bridle came off and I still have a spectacular bruise on my right butt cheek, moves through a 2-hour drive to get a delightful Dutch breeder named Constanza from the showgrounds to the airport (we are fast friends now and I am invited to her farm outside Utrecht), and ends with me enjoying myself in a show ring for the first time, riding the kind of blissed-out, fluid round we can do at home but never before in front of a judge. “Shit,” Casey reports the trainer standing next to her saying of our performance: “they are laying down some good trips.” We were.

2. Once again I have been puzzlingly overlooked for a Macarthur – perhaps something to do with the fact that I haven’t actually written anything – but I was completely goddamn delighted with two of this year’s picks: my longstanding beloved Ta-Nehisi Coates (have you read his new book yet, why haven’t you read his new book yet), and my new fling Lin-Manuel Miranda. I’ve listened to the cast soundtrack of Miranda’s musical Hamilton approximately one gajillion times since it was released last week. It’s a masterpiece. There’s fine-grained, scintillating brilliance in the detail work, a pattern not so much sequential as unfolding ever outwards, revisiting themes to add nuance and complexity and shadow. But there’s also the straight-up shot to the heart of a staggering story, fiercely told. God, just listen. Trust.

3. Three audiobooks by dudes, of varying quality but interconnecting themes: the Oliver Sacks memoir, and then Laszlo Bock’s book about people ops at Google, and then Vaillant’s account of the Harvard Grant Study. You always think you can’t love Oliver Sacks any more, and then you do. People are so real and present and urgent to him. I wanted to be scathing about Bock but his sincerity and curiosity were hard to resist. (Like Maciej Ceglowski and Sebastian Stan, he grew up a communist; maybe that’s why all three seem to have an inner core of diamond-hard idealism. Easy enough to sneer at freedom when you’ve never been unfree.) Bock’s description of evidence-based everything has the distinction of being the first thing I’ve ever read that gave me the slightest interest in working at Google. Still slight, though. Weirdly, Vaillant’s book has made me yell at the car stereo a lot more than Bock’s did. The Grant study is an extraordinary, 75-year-and-counting longitudinal study of a bunch of college men. With this astonishing wealth of material at his disposal, Vaillant’s mistakes are both egregious (autism, for example, is not a “genetic lack of empathy” and fuck you George for saying that it is) and pervasive. The case studies are quite glorious, almost worthy of Sacks, but the conclusions I draw from them are very different from Vaillant’s. A delicious takedown in the Atlantic paints him as a deeply flawed man.

4. Three books by ladies, of uniformly high excellence: Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up is just as life-changing as advertised. Sparking joy is good but the part that clicked for me is the act of thanking your no-longer-needed belongings for their service. My medicine cabinet has never looked so spare. I put off reading What Works for Women at Work for months, afraid that it would make me feel (more) guilty, but in fact it’s one of the most validating books I’ve read in ages. Jessa Crispin’s Dead Ladies Project documents a sojourn in Europe in search of reasons to live. I am devouring it.

5. How is it even possible that I haven’t blogged about Steven Universe yet? There’s probably a German word for the first time your kid recommends something to you and you pay attention to the thing and you realize, Holy shit, this thing is really good. My kid found a good thing. SU is, for me and Claire, that thing. It’s a love letter from maker Rebecca Sugar to her younger brother, and from both of them to the beach towns where they spent holidays growing up, and to the anime they adore, and it’s also a fully realized world with compassionately drawn, three-dimensional characters. It is beautiful and wise and sane and also hilarious and adorable. It’s a love letter to all of us, and so’s Ta-Nehisi’s book and Lin-Manuel’s show and Oliver’s memoir, and I needed all of them, I needed all the reasons I could possibly find to get out of bed, I literally needed reasons to get back on the horse, and they came when I needed them and I’m so grateful.

les enfants du paradis

another roadside attraction

We first saw the Old Faithful geyser in January 2008, and I’d always wanted to relive that happy day. Most do-overs are anticlimactic, but this one wasn’t.

The geyser geysed.

Such geysing!

“Everybody smile! Milo, leave your brother alone.”

Then we visited the Petrified Forest and saw this majestic California oak springing from the fossilized remains of its ancestor. Plus a bunch of trees.

I wheedled our way into the hot springs but my phone was out of juice, so you’ll have to take my word for it that they were even warmer and more jewel-like and delightful than I remembered.

Nearly forgot the best part. The sun set and Venus and Mars shone by a Cheshire moon. Salome and I discussed the physics of such a moon until it set, orange, behind Coit Tower.  I said: “City’s always beautiful, but that was… Unf.” Salome said: “I arranged it all specially for your birthday.”


photo by Jules Ellingson

happy merry

Twelve years ago, I personally made this. It was one of my better days.

This year Julia giftwrapped herself for me, so now they are both my Christmas presents.

Then we went out for dim sum. Brand new old family tradition.

I’m very lucky.

claire’s first day

…at her new school, so completely San Francisco that it started with a drum circle. There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new community center, then the traditional school opening ceremony with music and singing, and for the first time there was a space big enough for all the parents to attend.

The first graders looked so wee, and the eighth graders so hulking. I hope Claire makes friends; I hope they love her for her shiny awesome; I hope she is happy.

I thought, a school like this would have changed my mother’s life.

happy sunday

A great ride on Jackson. I tried to sink into the saddle three strides out from the fences and feel the takeoff in the base of my spine. Christi said he jumped beautifully, snapping his knees over the poles.

To Salome’s new place to see Cecil B. de Milstead in his new home. Cecil and Milo lay on cushions in a patch of sun. Milo gazed into Cecil’s eyes but it was impossible to tell where Cecil was gazing. His eyes really are beautifully crossed.

To Adventure Playground in Berkeley, where the first people we saw were Yoz and Dex. Jeremy had raved to Yoz about the place yesterday. Apparently he sold it well. It’s a playground built by kids, for kids; haphazard and magical, with boats and piano parts and a zip line. The kids can earn hammers and nails and pots of paint. Julia painted a fort green. Claire made a sundial.

California has been so sunny and beautiful and my friends are so dear to me, but I am missing Mum and Dad and Sarah and Iain and Alain so very much. I wish I could be in two places at once.

“you’re funny, mama”

I drag a weeping child out on an errand and return with a child that is giggling.

Me: That was some good parenting there.

Julia: Huh?

Me: Admit it. Say, “Mama, you are wise.”

Julia: Mama, you are pies.

Me: What? There’s no such thing as pies!

Julia: Yes there is!

Me: I don’t believe in pies.

san francisco weather

It was hot and humid last night. Even so the morning went well and we were all bundled into the car in good time. At the Cortland and Mission lights, Jeremy said:

“I didn’t sleep well.”

“Me neither,” I said.

“Me neither,” said Claire.

“Neither did I,” said Julia.

I was dumbstruck. It was such a quotidian thing and yet it was the first time I had really felt the four of us as a family, individual people all living in the same house, sharing the same weather. I can’t put it into words.

huge harry potter pretend game

IMG_20120923_115823.jpg by yatima
IMG_20120923_115823.jpg, a photo by yatima on Flickr.

this lemonade stand is a classic silicon valley startup

Already a hour into our window of opportunity, we have no product to ship. The CEO is hand-watercolouring the sign. The only employee had to be wooed away from solving puzzles. It is left to the investors (me and @jsgf) to juice the lemons and buy plastic cups.

Later:

Lemonade stand

nerdcore family values

Jeremy and I have been watching Altogether Too Much Archer, with the result that every now and then one of us will shout:

“DANGERZONE!!!”

Yesterday before camp, Julia piled all the cushions and blankets on the living room floor and rolled around on them, crying: “I am in the comfy zone!”

I said: “You’re going to have to get out of your comfort zone.”

Claire said: “And into the DANGERZONE!!!”

watching avatar, the last airbender

Claire: In real life there would be tons more benders. There would be over a hundred benders.

Jeremy: Technically it’s using “element” in a different sense.

Rachel: No! I’m with Claire! I wanna be a uranium bender!

Jeremy: I’d be a tungsten bender.

the children make their own dinner

We have a rice cooker – we bought it after the first Cambridge trip, when a rice cooker saved our lives – and last night I’d shown Claire how to make a cup of white rice with a pinch of salt, a glug of olive oil and a cinnamon stick.

There were leftover sausages, which Claire cut up.

Julia made Julia Salad:

A grated carrot
Corn kernels
Torn-up nori

Julia has a glass of milk, Claire is drinking mineral water and I am kicking back with a cold Marlborough sauvignon blanc. It’s a beautiful evening, the door’s open to the terrace, the Daleks are on the telly and all’s right with the world.