August, 2003

29 Aug 2003, by

A tiny bit of last night’s dream. About Sophia.

Continue reading

29 Aug 2003, by

So we’re staggering out of the train station on August 1, after having ridden a night car in which none of us slept too well to find that it’s a gorgeous morning, still cool but promising to be a scorcher. And I step outside and I look across the street and I see this incredibly gorgeous building and I think to myself: wow, this is what it’s like to be in Italy. You come out of the train station and are assaulted by beauty. I imagined that this building I was seeing might not even be that very special, that it might be, by Florentine standards, quite common and unremarkable. As it turns out, I was looking at the rear view of the Santa Maria Novella, one of the oldest churches in Florence and well-established in the list of important monuments. Still, that moment, that first intake of breath in the summer morning and that initial eyeful of the vast and ancient structure will stay with me a long time.

It was our first day in Florence and we went to the Uffizi, then came out to the Piazza della Signoria and picked one of the seventeen restaurants there to eat lunch. Sophia had fallen asleep in her stroller (something she would become highly adept at over the next two weeks). It was like sitting in a restaurant in Argentina, except that we were out on the Piazza. The stiff white tablecloths, the older waiters, the delicious fresh bread in its plastic mesh basket all contributed to a general feeling of familiarity that comforted me deeply. Kurt scored big by ordering milanesa. I tasted his and it was delicious, far better than the one he had the next day across the Piazza. Kelly chose a pizza, and I had some mushroom tagliatelli, which was good (especially considering how hungry I was by this time) but not stellar.

After eating we went to take a nap, at the Agli Uffizi Bed & Breakfast where we were staying. Kelly found this place for us and she did a great job. It was conveniently located, literally right around the corner from the Piazza, was comfortable and clean, and was very reasonably priced. The only drawback was that it was on the top floor of a building with no elevator. Despite the fact that I was prepared to walk all over Florence, I was not exactly prepared for toting Sophia up so many flights of stairs every time we came to the place. Worse yet was having to carry the stroller up all those steps which, thankfully, my husband did so I didn’t have to. Carrying Sophia was the better part of that bargain, because though the stroller was lighter than she is, it was also bulkier and harder to carry. I’m no athlete, but I like to think I’m more or less average in terms of being in shape and the climb never failed to leave me breathless and exhausted. However, we all partook of some much needed rest and then decided to do the thing that everyone says you should do in Florence : walk around. We wandered up toward the Duomo, to see what the hours there were and we found we were too late to go in. Then we walked in to this paper store and I very nearly decided I would never leave. I had read that Florence was famous for its high quality paper products, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the loveliness of it all. There were tiny little boxes with beautiful papered designs and a dozen short little colored pencils inside. There were delicate cutout bookmarks and heavy handmade decks of cards, serious lined journals and sketchbooks so stunning that I can’t imagine an artist wouldn’t be intimidated by them, thick marbled looking wrapping paper and rows of embossed greeting cards. There were even picture frames with patterned paper designs. I bought bookmarks for people back home and ooooohed and ahhhhhed. It was probably the best stationery store I’ve ever been in and as my tale progresses, you’ll become aware that Florence has one of these on practically every block. I was in heaven. They put all my purchase, nothing too extravagant in a beautiful bag that said “Parione” and below that “Casa fondata nel 1931”. They sealed my bag with a sticker. I couldn’t have been happier. And then we decided to stop for ice cream. Now, I’m something of an ice cream snob. I’ve always contended that Argentine ice cream is just better than American ice cream, even the high end brands that they sell in the teensy containers. Now I know why, Argentine ice cream is just like Italian ice cream, which is heavenly. My time in Italy was filled with moments that made me feel as though I were in Argentina, by the way, and it was both comforting and jarring. I chose three flavors : mint chocolate chip, nutella, and chocolate orange. When I was young I would spend summers going to the ice cream store every day and working my way through the flavors list before settling on two or three flavors as favorites. This was like that. With several dozen flavors to choose from I strolled up and down and considered and discarded and reconsidered and changed my mind until finally I had the flavors I wanted. The chocolate orange, btw, tasted exactly like eating a chocolate orange, if you’ve ever had one, and I found it delicious, if a bit rich. Sophia got strawberry, and surprised us all by eating the entire thing. I decided right then and there that I would eat ice cream every single day I was in Italy. This was a promise that I kept and savored fully.

Continue reading

28 Aug 2003, by

I thought I was going to get to having posted every day for two weeks, but then life and work interfered, and I found myself, yet again, in the set of people who are slackers. I always know it’s time to write an entry when I start to feel oppressed by the fact that I haven’t written in so long. And to be fair, I did write an entry, at least three times in the last week. It’s just that I got interrupted or couldn’t finish it or had to leave it for a bit and none of the entries got near enough to saying anything to be posted. I feel especially badly about having so boldly announced “Tomorrow: Florence”! and then vanished for a week. Teach me to make promises. Everything I want to say seems to be waiting for everything else to be written about first. Work is mad, mad busy with us getting ready to move to the new building. I’m pleased about our move to the new building, even though I’m going to a cubicle, and I hate cubicles. It’s a nice building. I will have new furniture, too. And my own secure server area in the arctic basement. In fact, despite the cubicle, I will have tons of space. I could have two cubicles if I want them, because our staff area has cubes for eight people (projected growth for the next 20 years) and only two of us work there at present. People are acting all kinds of crazy, though. Uptight, frantic, like everything is an emergency of the highest order. It’s been hectic, amusing and infuriating by turns. When I came in the other morning and a co-worker shrilly exclaimed “Do you realize there’s only thirteen days left until we move?!?!” I had to just laugh. Trying to figure out what I can finish and what I should just go ahead and pack up because I’m not going to finish it before moving has been challenging. For the duration of the move, because I’m technically inclined, I’ve been assigned to work with the computer support staff. None of them are insane, I want to help out, and they can use my expertise. This is a sensical arrangement that benefits everyone and I’m ok with that. For the weekends of September (not including Labor Day weekend) many staff are assigned to work shifts on weekends. I’m not sure the full extent of what exactly they’ll be doing but for at least some of that time, they’re apparently assigned at checkpoints to watch the moving staff. This sounds like the most boring thing ever to me, and I’m grateful not to have to make sure some mover doesn’t steal some 100 years out of office governor’s papers. Also, if I were a mover, I’d find nothing tempting me to drop boxes of valuable objects more than people stationed every 30 feet to make sure I don’t. But none of that is my call and I, personally, don’t have to do it, so I’m ok with that. However, because these people have to be there whenever the movers are, their schedules are fixed and have already been distributed. For our part, we were planning to come in, work as long as it took to get the work done and then go home. The work we must do is not inconsequential either in importance or scope : we’ll need to set up everyone’s PC’s, make sure all the networking is functioning as advertised by the contractors who have done the wiring, bring the servers back up after they’ve been transferred from one building to the other by the aforementioned movers, and solve all the issues that will doubtless be involved in moving hundreds of computers and a dozen servers from one building to another. And that’s before Monday morning, when people will come in, switch on their PC’s and take about 3 minutes to figure out the one thing on their computer that suddenly no longer works. Oh, and btw, we’re not allowed to hover around the movers while they’re moving the equipment, though other people are obligated to hover around the movers while they’re moving the collection. And while I’m not quite seeing the logic of this, again, I’m ok with it. If that’s how it’s got to be, whether for bureacratic reasons or state regulations or insurance purposes or whatever cockamamie reason they’ve come up with to do things this way then that’s how it has got to be and I’m perfectly ok with it. Now we get to the part I’m not ok with, though. You knew this was coming, right? Well, it turns out that apparently even though we’re moving an entire building’s worth of people & equipment, a huge archival collection, thousands of published books, way too many rolls of microfilm, a large number of photographs, a not inconsiderable collection of audio and film, and who knows what else, some people have enough free time to pore over the schedule, notice that the computer support staff is not assigned weekend hours and, get this, complain about it. Now, as I just explained, we do in fact have to work those weekends (or at least the first one and if things go well only the first one) despite our not being on the schedule. But now, because someone has complained, and worse yet, because their stupid, groundless complaints were heeded and it was deemed unfair that we weren’t on the schedule, the order has come down from on high that we now have to work all the hours that other people are scheduled to work. Never mind that at five on Saturday when the movers and all the other staff leave if things are broken we will stay until they are not. Never mind that if things go spectacularly well and we finish setting everything up we’ll have nothing to do. None of that, you see, matters. And yes, I’m annoyed with the busybody or busybodies that took it upon themselves to whine. Have they nothing better to do? But I’m also infuriated that the boss caved to them. Me, I would have said,”Everyone has their assigned tasks, mind your own business.”

Ah, well. I suppose that’s just the sort of ranting I should probably not do publicly. I guess I’ll insert some caveats here then. The boss didn’t actually fess that he was suddenly making us be there the same hours as everyone else because of complaints. One of the computer support staff had been asked why we weren’t on the schedule, and we’re kind of extrapolating the why and wherefore. It’s possible there’s a reasonable (or even more ludicrous) explanation for what has gone on here. Knowing that, though, doesn’t really make me ok with it.

So on to more pleasant things. Sophia. She’s truly wonderful. This past weekend, she was drawing with markers and she decided to draw lines all up and down her arms. I told her that the lines looked like tiger stripes and she started roaring and holding up her hands like claws. “I a tiger!” she told me, in case the roars were not convincing enough on their own. This is the first time I can recall her deliberately pretending to be something else. I’m excited about the onslaught of roleplaying that is surely to come! On Sunday, when I started to put together my new stikfas:

she became entranced by the dragon. She pretended she was a dragon for a while, then demanded to play with the stikfas dragon. We had just been gaming so there were plenty of dice around. She picked up one of the dice, opened the dragon’s mouth and stuffed the die into it. Then she commanded him to “Drop it! Drop it!” until she opened his mouth and the die popped out. This is amusing because this is something we tell Sergei when he’s playing fetch. We throw a kong or a ball and he retrieves it and we stand there telling him to drop it until he does, when we throw it again. So, Sophia was training her dragon to fetch.

She’s definitely going through a phase of sociability right now. On Sunday we went to eat chinese at a buffet place and after she’d had her fill of rice and ice cream, she started wandering around the restaurant picking out tables with children. When she found them she would greet them like old friends. “Hi! Hello boy! Hi! I’m Sophia” and then move to the next table with a high chair and do it again. “Hi! Hi, girl! You’re girl. I’m Sophia.” She’s very enthusiastic and friendly. I think Europe helped in that regard. On the train back from Ravenna we met this really nice woman named Thu. Within thirty minutes of having met her, Sophia was asking to be carried by her, going over to sit across from her and trying to engage her by singing songs and generally flirting. I’d never seen her warm up to a stranger quite so quickly, and I’m pleased to get to know Sophia in a stage where she’s not as shy.

The last thing I’m going to mention tonight is that I’ve started posting up pictures from our trip to Europe. I’m doing them in small manageable chunks (about 16, which is coincidentally a page) at a time. So keep an eye on the photo database over the next few days and you should get some treats. The pictures are neither as good as I wanted them to or as terrible as I expected them to be. Some of them are really quite good. You’ll see them all of course, as none were discarded. Unfortunately, the pictures from the latter half of the trip, when we used the disposables are considerably worse. I guess the feedback I get from the digital camera is a serious crutch. And yes, the camera is still broken. That’s something I haven’t had time for, and it’s kind of upsetting. I will explain more about the camera breaking later.

Good night

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Tomorrow: Florence! (I’ll never learn my lesson, will I?)

Continue reading

Nice Hair – a comic. There you go, a nice, funny, little cartoon to start off your day. Only about eight strips or so so it won’t unduly interfere with work or whatever else you might be doing that’s very important.

[Link credit to Neil Gaiman’s Blog.]

Yeah, I think it’d been almost a week since I’d linked his blog, so I figured it was overdue.

Continue reading

In: links | Tags:

20 Aug 2003, by

I was late to work again today. Third time this week, and it’s coincidentally the third working day of the week. I’m not usually the sort of person who gets to places late, work included, although I do fudge the five minutes often enough (both getting to work and leaving, btw. When I’m in the middle of something I am in the middle of it and I can’t just stop because a clock says so). Today’s reason was that Sophia was inordinately clingy and I had to stay an extra ten minutes at daycare with her. Yesterday she had the walking out the door bowel movement. The day before that I stopped to talk to the office people about her new class. See, they graduated her to K2B from K2A. She’d not been in K2A more than a couple of months, either, but they were trying to make space. In general, I prefer their method of shuffling kids around to make space over the method most daycares use which is the seventy month waiting list. Still, they told my husband on Friday afternoon for Monday morning, which is rather less notice than I like to get. A week is more my style, so that both Sophia and I can get used to the idea. Of course, I had a bunch of questions, all of which were answered to my satisfaction, but nonetheless required asking at dropoff on Monday morning. And so, I arrive to work late. I don’t really mind being late, nor do I mind being early. Schedules are approximations for me, not rigid inflexible rules. I also tend toward taking 45 minute lunches when I’m entitled to an hour (though just as often, probably, I take 1 hour 10), skipping breaks unless I have an errand and taking 20 minutes instead of 15 when I do have an errand. Since I’m not covering a public space (like the reference desk), it really doesn’t matter that much exactly when I’m at my desk and when I’m not, so long as I do my work. This is more or less the view that my boss takes, much to my relief. Other people who work in my building, however, whose business when I come and go is not, view things differently. Often as I come into the basement and walk toward the chamber I get a stiff “Good Morning,” followed by a significant glance towards the clock. This is likely because I work in a building with many people who are not and have never been married and who do not and will never have kids. I don’t like to be exclusionary and to act like people who don’t have kids can’t possibly understand the people who do, but I have noticed that there’s a certain rigidity and lack of mercy about people who do not spend large amounts of time near very small children. Sophia doesn’t understand about being late. Schedules and working hours and tardiness are outside her comprehension and even directly contrary to her sense of immediacy. I prefer it this way, as she will be subjugated to these rules soon enough, without my having to drag her from place to place at top speed and frustration for schedules that are (as of yet) not even her own but merely to do with me and my work. I’m sure that there are people who would disagree with me, but when all is said in done I don’t think ten minutes is going to make the bottom line difference at work, whereas with my child, those extra ten minutes can mean the end to an outburst of tears, a clean diaper, peace of mind for a mother who must leave her child with others. I love my daycare and I feel they are both qualified and caring there and the staff there are extraordinarily kind to Sophia: always full of compliments about her behavior, her skills and her disposition. And even with all that, in the best of situations, it still is not easy to leave her every day. I don’t think someone that doesn’t leave a lover or a husband or a child every day can understand the daily heartbreak of it, and why often it can take a little more time than you had planned or meant for it to.

Ok, so Kurt has kindly typed in everything that I wrote in my paper journal, so that it can be pasted into a blog entry. I glanced at the file he typed and was overwhelmed by the number of typos in the first paragraph. I don’t know whether I am just so out of practice writing by hand that I can no longer spell while doing it, or whether Kurt introduced typos while transcribing it, or whether my handwriting is not nearly as legible as I have always believed it to be. Possibly some combination thereof. However, proofing it for public consumption is apparently going to take some work. Which is a shame because I had hoped to post it first and then continue where it left off and filling in the spaces I skipped over while I wrote in it as I had time in future blog posts. However, I’m going to just have to get in the bits I missed down as I recall them, and I may recall things that I already mentioned and you will eventually see again. All this to say that there may be plenty of duplication between now and then and I apologize. It will also seem, for now, as if I’m just skipping huge chunks of the story for no reason, but that’s because I’ve already written about them. In addition, I’m sure the journal will take on a moebius strip quality as, side by side, I discuss the current activities and happenings with the near (but growing more distant in memory and time every moment) past of the trip to Europe. Bear with me, if you can. I’m just trying to get all the little bits of colored memory down. I can’t promise a lovely mosaic when I’m done, but I have hope that something worthwhile will come of it.

Speaking of worthwhile, I have come to believe that blogs are, and more specifically that this blog is. When I lost yet another entry to Camino a couple of days ago, I was asking my friend and Mac guru (although I think the proper term is genius) for help in desperate tones and he told me in no uncertain terms that I was overreacting, that it was just a blog. I’ve been mulling that over for a couple of days, partly because it hurt my feelings and partly because I have always been uncertain about the whole value of blogging and blogdom. I think about things that hurt my feelings a lot, because I believe that things that hurt you often do so because they are somewhat true and should be examined for veracity before being consigned to oblivion. I was quite upset at the time, probably more than was warranted, but I reject the assertion that there’s no value in what I do. It may not have value for others, or for society at large, but for me it serves real concrete purposes : recording things I would otherwise forget, giving me near daily writing practice, flexing my creative muscle and pulling something semi-permanent out of the nothing that is my life and my daily drudgery and my dreams and the unfolding growth of my child, and motivating me to look at the world around me for interesting bits (not all, or even most of which, end up here). I mourn the vanished pieces like I sometimes mourn the stories I’ve thrown away in decades past. Not because they would have won me any awards, but because they were the work of my own hands, the sound of my mind.

We went out to the Reservoir for dinner tonight, with an old friend. It was quite enjoyable and Sophia was delighted by the water and the ducks. She kept squealing and shivering with excitement. She screamed “Hi ducks! Hi ducks! How are you doing?” They obligingly quacked back at her. I was worried she would fall in the whole time, but I don’t think she noticed that. We fed them cornbread and she would throw a piece into the water and then shout with eagerness when they dove forward to snap it up. We had to go back for more bread. I hope that we provide her many, many opportunities to interact with nature and animals as she grows, so that she feels she is part of the natural world and not separated from it.

Well, it’s about time for me to sleep now. Tomorrow : Florence!

Continue reading

19 Aug 2003, by

I lost another entry. Camino crashed on me. So I guess I really do need to type everything in Vim first. Of course I’m not doing that right now with these very words, but I’m also in my super trusted never crashes and when it does magically recovers everything Galeon. I wish I knew how to make Galeon run on my Mac. It was really interesting stuff about Europe and Sophia and my job and you would have liked to read it, I think. However, today we’re on the subject of dreams, again.

Continue reading

18 Aug 2003, by

Good morning! I have much to say today, but I think I will start off with a dream snippet. I don’t remember much of anything, and even this was fuzzy until Kurt came out of the closet wearing his Italian soccer shirt.

Continue reading

It is a great joy to me that I can now talk with Sophia. I can ask her questions, like whether she’d prefer this or that, whether she’s enjoying something, and whether she’s happy. She’s beginning to use complete sentences, though her favored terrain is still phrases. Yesterday, a full and perfect sentence came out of her and blew me away.

We come in the front door. Sophia has lingered in the foyer, playing with the door that leads from the foyer into the living room. She is closing and opening it, not quite fully, it is never quite catching, but she is still going through the motions of opening and closing the door. I smile at her and say hello, goodbye a couple of times as she plays with the door. Then I hear the tell-tale click of the door latching securely shut. I wait to see if her practice has paid off. I hear her rattling the knob a bit.

“Would you like some help?” I call through the closed door.

“No. I do it.”

“Alright.” I move away and start to go about my business.

The knob turns this way and that, and I feel like she almost has the door open, but she’s not pulling toward herself when she’s turning, so nothing much happens. The knob goes still. I wait.

“Mama?” A casual inquiry, without fear.

“Yes, Sophia?”

“Can you open the door, please?”

“Of course, Sophia. I’d be happy to.”

I walk over and open the door. She strolls out unconcernedly, off to play with something else. I grin, filled with parental pride and the sheer joy of hearing her talk.

Continue reading

Powered by WordPress