I’m having one of those nights when there are so many stories to tell, I just can’t choose. So I’ll try to do short versions of a few until you or I get bored and move on.

First, I never reported on our lovely date on Saturday. We went to Cella Bistro and had, among other things, my beloved mushroom salad. Oh my goodness I love that salad. It is so, so delicious. Although with the cheeses and pancetta and the oil, it doesn’t seem like it really deserves to be called a salad. Which reminds me of a time when I went to Colorado visiting some of Cute W’s relatives, and we’d just been eating such an astounding variety of truly bad-for-you foods, and then we went to the grocery store and W’s aunt said that we needed salad, and I was thinking oh yes please! and started walking toward the greens, but she turned the other way and headed for the macaroni, pasta, and potato salads at the deli counter. I should have known.

After food, it was David Sedaris. He was funny, and it was endearing that he was disappointed when we didn’t laugh at one of his lines and so he scratched at it with a pencil. But we did not wait in the colossally long book-signing line afterward because we were on the babysitter clock. It reminded me, though, that I’ve been fortunate in my brushes with Favorite Authors. Just a couple of years ago, Doris Kearns Goodwin spoke at a meeting for Cute W’s work, and he arranged for me to be the book-signing assistant, which meant that I sat next to her and made sure people had their books open to the correct spot to move things along. So I got to listen in to all the patter while vibrating with excitement.

Doris & Me

Years before that, I went to a series of talks that Madeleine L’Engle used to give at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine during Lent. At one, she was leading a discussion of one of her recent books, and I was sitting up front and I answered a question by pointing out one of the passages, and I can’t remember what it was about, but she was very pleased and she asked me to read the page to everyone. Which I did, all the while thinking, “holy crap, I’m reading Madeleine L’Engle to Madeleine L’Engle.” By the time I finished I almost had to put my head down between my knees. So you can see, perhaps, that waiting in a very long line to not even make eye contact seems potentially unsatisfying and tawdry.

Okay! That’s the date. What about today, you wonder? Well, this afternoon included a delightful blend of vomit clean-up and long division! Oh, yes! Poor J isn’t feeling well, and she was  particularly pathetic in the afternoon, so I was sitting right next to her while she was lying on the couch, one hand on her hair, the other clutching a days-old section of the New York Times, when she started to make strange little noises that should have told me that even though she’d only complained of a headache (her eyebrows hurt, is how she still says it, precious thing), in fact we were heading into a new and messier phase of illness. But I was slow to comprehend (or in fact in denial), so both of our outfits, the sofa cushion, the blanket, the rug, her small stuffed dog, her large stuffed dog, and, indeed, my newspaper paid the price. We were still in triage mode when M arrived home, sneaking up and Boo-ing us, which caused me to shriek and J to burst into tears.

From there it degenerated, as M felt compelled to immediately plunge into her homework. She generally finds math pretty easy, but when it’s a new concept she always spends the first day certain that she will never, ever understand how to do this, and she becomes so focused on the existential despair that she loses track of the simplest steps. In this case, the steps were Division, Multiplication, Subtraction, Bring Down, which were explained using the mnemonic device Dirty Marvin Smells Bad. In between trying to figure out how to make the steam cleaner work, getting J fresh bowls, and coaxing M through the steps, I couldn’t help trying to come up with a better device.  Daisies Make Spring Better? Dogs Must Sometimes Bark? Why, oh why, do we have to come up with a mnemonic device that encourages rude, bullying behavior? I didn’t bring this up with M. I’m sure that she’d roll her eyes. And there was plenty of eye rolling and gnashing of teeth as it was. But seriously, even is Marvin is a figment of a math imagination, why not go for a little civility? Or am I being freakish?

Enough. I have a whole entire steam cleaner story, not to mention food-on-the-blog questions, but we’ve got lives to live, right people? And tomorrow is another day.


  1. Ken B

    I am sorry for poor M with her math problems. I know just how she feels.

    Also, hope J feels better soon!

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