I admit some nostalgia for the era of the mix tape. I started off my career with a Sony boom box (or some manner of Chinese knock-off). I’d sit on the floor (shag green and yellow carpet) of the bedroom I shared with one or the other of my sisters, the radio tuned, my finger at the ready above the record button. I’d wait for the first few bars of a song to play (I got really good at recognizing a song by its opening notes) and make a split-decision. Much rewinding and resetting. Finding ways to stay occupied while I waited for the next song (a decent metaphor for what being a adolescent generally entails).
Eventually I got a double tape deck, and things really took off. When I sat on the bus to and from basketball games I’d be listening to tapes friends had made me (Peter Gabriel, The Indigo Girls, Crosby Stills and Nash, Mr. Mister’s version of “Kyrie Eleison”, Bob Dylan and U2) as the popular girls had Bon Jovi singalongs in the back of the bus. Those were the days. I still have exactly two of those tapes. I’m not sure how they survived the rewinding and fast-forwarding. I fear getting them out because G has already dismantled a favorite tape I made while in England.
A lot’s happened since I last published a post here. Too much to catch up on, and I’m no good at playing catch-up because it usually ends with giving-up, the writing abandoned all together. So let’s get back into the swing of things with a good old playlist. I’ll try to keep the liner notes short.
1. Jonah’s Birthday
On Tuesday, Jonah turned 7. There was (still is) a mammoth Spiderman balloon. Chocolate cake and buttercream frosting. Chocolate chip cookies to take to school for friends. A modest celebration. Enough I hope. He even let his brother open one gift, though G still thinks the jump rope he pulled out is his and not J’s. It was a good day, and stray packages keep arriving by post, the highlight of which (I’m a little embarrassed to say) was a plastic pool of fake vomit. Other than his Hagrid keychain, it was pretty much the only thing he asked for.
2. John left for Boston. My mother simultaneously arrived from Kansas.
We passed the ten minutes waiting for her to arrive at the airport (we had just dropped off John) talking to a colleague/friend of John’s who was waiting with his daughter to pick up his wife. Actually, he mostly chatted with Jonah while I tried to keep track of Gabriel. The timing felt like good fortune—or is it a happy accident? We’ll call it serendipitous and let it be.
3. John came down with a stomach bug gifted by the boys. I did likewise.
I stumbled around for half a day, making excuses for the strange feeling in my stomach. By afternoon, I gave in. By evening, I was curled up in the fetal position in my bed while my mother tended to the boys. John pushed through valiantly as he attended a conference and socialized with friends. We sent pitiful pictures of ourselves by text in commiseration—him from the train, me from the front seat of the Subaru while Jonah was in dance class.
4. Gabriel had his three year well child check-up.
Ear canals finally clear. Still almost off the charts for size. Declared healthy and strong, if a stinker. Charmed the nurses with his antics. Impressed the doctor with his vocabulary. I’ll stop bragging now.
5. Jonah jumped 120 times (without stopping) on his pogo stick.
All of a sudden he’s a master on the thing, and his balance is astounding. He’s even starting to steer and can jump down the driveway and back up again. He says he’s chasing squirrels. Click HERE to see. He saw a unicycle in an I Can Read book at church on Sunday and said, “I want one of those!”
6. My mom and I drove to Cleveland to hear Temple Grandin.
She’s a kind of animal rights/autism activist, but not like you might think. She’s designed humane systems for the handling of cattle and a hugging machine for the calming of agitated humans who can’t tolerate human touch. She calls herself a “grey hair” and has no use for handling high functioning autistics with kid gloves. Not much use for labels either. “Don’t let autism run your life!” she proclaims. “Do stuff. We’re forgetting how to Do Stuff.” “Get out of the basement, away from the video games. Get a job!” She’s against the abstractification of education and for any kind of hands on making. She’s currently working on a book about the way different brains work (particularly the autistic brain). She is autistic herself. She is hilarious. Clair Danes portrayed her in the movie Temple Grandin. The event was held at the Cleveland Public Library, a beautiful and worthy destination in and of itself.
7. Late Saturday John returned from Boston.
8. Early Sunday my mother fell ill.
She too tried to deny the obvious. She had to change her flight (to the delight, if confusion, of Jonah). She slept for almost two days straight. She is now feeling much better and is currently reading books to G so that I can write this.
9. The boys and I attended Church.
If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you probably know the portent that sentence can hold. See the fire alarm story HERE. The morning started with the annoying reality of Daylight Savings Time, followed by my misjudgment in allowing G to take his entire toolbox in the car. He was told he could bring one tool into church. Having chosen the Phillips head screwdriver, he promptly wanted the flat head. After entering the church, he could not do without his saw and threw a fit for not having it. I finally scooted J into church to sit with our friend Melissa while I tried to talk G down from the edge (and a full blown tantrum). The promise of nuts and a mint finally did the job, after which he was ready to light our candles. We three headed to the candle stand at the back. G was doing his skippy, trippy run and, characteristically, tripped, falling and hitting one of the very wobbly legs of the unsteadier than I knew candle stand. Before I could stop myself (because that’s how bad habits work), I whisper-spoke “Shit!”. I’m pretty sure only a few ladies in the back row heard me, and I sometimes imagine (or not) they give me dirty looks about the behavior of my children anyway, so I tried to focus on the reality of my own sin and added swearing to the list of habits that need breaking this Lent. After that near catastrophe, it was (relatively) smooth sailing.
10. John wore a t-shirt.
I have not, in the almost eleven years I have known my husband, ever seen him wear a cotton t-shirt by choice (under extreme duress, yes, when required by a collegial event). He, of course, stepped out in style. I only wish he would have also bought me a Walt Whitman “Yawp” shirt at AWP. I would have promised never to wear it on the same day.
11. John and Gabriel built a G-sized work table.
It’s in the garage. Finished in the hour it took Jonah and I to take our Sunday afternoon walk/bike ride. G finally has a toy saw in his possession (thank you Grandma Debbe), as well as numerous screwdrivers, a level, and a pipe wrench, so the work bench was essential, not to mention inevitable.
12. Gabriel is actually Spiderman.
Jonah was likewise enamored at age three. G wears the same musclebound suit, which consistently stirs in J the need to wrestle him to the ground. Sunday night G was allowed to sleep with the suit because the thought of not being able to wear the suit to bed sent him into a tailspin. When G is not Spiderman, he is a dog who crawls around on all fours and pants and eats up pages of books.
13. Godfather Joshua came for a visit.
He was in town with his cousin (Jack Korbel) for a coffeeshop concert. Jonah radiated delight. Godfather Joshua read him Calvin and Hobbes cartoons for an hour while I prepared dinner. Godfather Joshua brought an All Saint’s Day of the Dead decorated mirror to hang by Jonah’s bed to ward off bad dreams. Godfather Joshua taught him the word “onomatopoeia.” J was mournful to see him go so soon. G lamented: “I want Godfawder Yoshua come back now.”
Today my mother flies back to Kansas (she’s much better), and we return to the quieter activities of our slightly-crazed clan. Jonah might cry. But there are summer plans to travel, provided my faith and stamina hold out. Picture collage follows. Shorter (I promise), more regular posts to come…