Thursday, October 27, 2005

Thursday Thirteen - Hong Kong edition

Yes, it's technically Friday here in Asia but it's still Thursday in the states so my list still counts as timely! I've been using local time for my posts since I've gotten here but this time, I'll make an exception.

1. I know you all want to hear about my trip but first things first. My first short story is going to be published!!! It'll be in Mosaic Minds in November. So check it out!

2. Our trip to Asia is great but it's going so fast. We love being a family again and I'm glad it'll only be three weeks until they're home again.

3. Two days ago we went to the New Territories which are on the Kowloon side close to the border with mainland China. They're still part of Hong Kong, kind of like suburbs. We were "sponsored" by a family of expats that are here working as missionaries and English teachers. They have four kids in school here.

4. We went to the school that their kids attend - it's a Chinese school, not an expat school. Four of the kids from the cast, including A-Girl were there. The school organized a big assembly for them and the kids sang a few songs and had the whole school sing along with Do Re Mi. Then the school gave them gifts - they each got a picture painted in Chinese style by one of the kids from the school and a beautiful placemat/chopsticks set.

5. We were able to talk to the school children during their recess and the kids were so excited to talk to us. They had the kids (including M-Girl!) signing autographs. I was even asked to sign some! M-Girl was a little overwhelmed - the kids would crowd around her, touching her hair and asking her name. She got used to it after a little while. Things were even better when one of the teachers gave her a "juice box" with chocolate milk. Chocolate milk is universal, I guess.

6. Because it was a Lutheran school, all of the kids had "Christian" names like Tiffany, Joanne and Ellen. One girl discovered that she had the same name as A-Girl and was so excited that she grabbed A-Girl's hand and pulled her all around the playground telling everyone that they had the same name.

7. I was surrounded by a group of girls when another girl came running over with a look of pride on her face. She held up a piece of paper so everyone could see. On it, she had the email address for one of the boys in the cast. He's a cute boy but I'm sure he doesn't get that same kind of attention from the girls back home!

8. The hallways have green and pink tile. The pink tile is in a line down the center. Teachers walk on the pink tile, children walk on the green tiles around the center - girls on one side, boys on the other.

9. We got to walk around the school and see the classrooms. We sat in on a Chinese language class, too. The teachers don't have desks in the classrooms. Instead, they all share one room that has three or four tables that run the length of the room. These tables are divided into small "desks" for each of the teachers. They have no private space. They have very little space at all!

10. Speaking of space, or lack thereof, we went to the expats' house for a brief visit. Pretty much everyone in this "sub-division" lives in one half of a duplex-type home. This family has four children, two boys (7 and 13) and twin twelve year old girls. The two boys share a bunk bed in a room that fits only the bunk bed. The two girls share a room that is essentially in the attic. The ceiling is so low, they can't stand up. M-Girl couldn't stand up straight! I am totally serious when I say that every single inch of space is used.

11. Yesterday we went to Aberdeen Harbor and Stanley Market. At Aberdeen, you can take a tour of the harbor on a Sam Pam, a boat that can fit 10 people max. Before you get on the boat, you have to negotiate the price with a weathered old woman in a woven hat. The man running the boat was nice enough to let me take a picture of him with the girls. He even let M-Girl help steer for most of the ride. She likes to be an active participant in things. We saw many fishing boats and we also saw where the boat people live. It's hard to believe that people live under those conditions but on the other hand, are government sponsored housing projects any better?

12. Stanley Market is incredible. We just didn't have enough time to do a lot of shopping. We're going to go back this weekend. I got some gifts for people and the kids got some clothes and the prices are amazingly low. A-Girl has grown about two inches in the last two months so she needed new pants! We had gone to a couple of other markets in central Hong Kong but most of the stuff there was cheap quality. Stanley Market is much better quality and there are also a few places to buy art. Big D and I have always bought at least one piece of art everywhere we've visited so we'll definitely get something there.

13. I saw the show from the audience on Wednesday night - I sat in the front row which wasn't bad at all because the stage isn't really high up. I can't describe the feeling of seeing A-Girl on the stage. My face hurt from smiling so much. The show is really good - I wasn't sure what to expect but the two leads are incredibly good, especially Jennifer Semrick who plays Maria. She's also a very nice person and has helped A-Girl (and the other kids) feel comfortable on stage. A-Girl loves her. A-Girl is doing well here but I can tell that she's really tired. Having us here has thrown her off of her schedule. She's been waking up earlier than usual, too which doesn't help. When she gets back from the show, she needs some time to wind down before she goes to bed. So she doesn't go to sleep until after midnight most nights. With M-Girl and I here, she gets up early but can't make up for it by going to bed earlier. This is a tough gig for an 8-year old. I was so proud of her, seeing her on stage putting on a great show with energy and enthusiasm, knowing how tired she is. I ask her every day if she likes it and if she's ok and she tells me how much she loves it. And she was so excited for me to be in the audience. I think she only wishes that M-Girl and I could be here with them full time. Maybe I could win the lottery . . .

Ok - I stretched my Thirteen to the breaking point. This was the first time I didn't have trouble thinking of 13 things to say! I promise to post pictures at some point - probably not until I get home, though. In the meantime, go check out other Thursday Thirteens, starting with Leanne. If you do a Thirteen, post a link in my comments and I'll come visit!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Jet setting

Hello from Macau! I'm sitting in the waiting lounge of Heli Express waiting for our helicopter ride back to Hong Kong. Big D and I took a whirlwind trip to Macau last night. Macau is Asia's answer to Las Vegas. We had his/hers massages last night, dinner at midnight at the Westin resort, a lovely buffet breakfast and then his/hers facials this morning. Now we're back at the heliport, waiting to get back to the kids. We're sooooooo relaxed.

The only sad thing is that we didn't have more time to spend here. We had a lovely ocean view room with a private veranda. The spa was awesome and the work out facilities looked really nice as I hustled past them on our way to check out. This would be a nice place to take a family vacation - there's a nice looking kids' club at the resort. It's a bit far from Chicago, however (but Sandra, if you all have time, it's probably not too far from Seoul!)

Well, time to go finish drinking my cappacino and eating the homemade Portuguese pizza. They also have pastries, sodas, ice cream and actual fresh cooked meals - all for the price of the helicopter ticket. Granted, the helicopter is quite a bit more expensive than the hydroplane or the ferry but takes only 15 minutes. The boats take 1 or 2 hours, respectively. This was totally worth it (and Big D, as usual, got an awesome deal by getting a heli/spa package that essentially got us 1/2 off the cost of the helicopter). I feel like a princess. Albeit a relatively old and slightly wrinkled (but very relaxed)one.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Starbucks worldwide

I'm blogging from the Starbucks across the way from the hotel. It's just like home - there's a Starbucks on every corner. They really are taking over the world. No joke. Not that I'm complaining. I'm sitting in a comfy chair with my grande skim latte, nice jazz music, my computer and free internet access. What could be better? The design of the store, the feel of the place, even the taste of my latte, is exactly the same as home. Even the prices are the same (after translating to US$). The only difference is that there is Chinese writing on everything along with the English. Go figure.

So - our visit is going great. It's really nice to be a family again. I keep staring at A-Girl. She's changed so much in two months! I imagine Big D feels the same about M-Girl. It's not a cliche - kids really do change fast at this age. When A-Girl first saw me in the lobby of the hotel, she ran to me and jumped into my arms, squeezing me half to death. I would have stayed there for eons but M-Girl was a little upset that A-Girl wasn't giving her a hug too. So I bent down and squeezed both girls for god knows how long. A-Girl had just gotten off the bus after the show so some of the rest of the cast and crew were standing around. It was a little overwhelming to M-Girl. We had just traveled for 15 hours to get there, barely had time to catch our breath and all these people were crowding around, wanting to meet us and ask us about our trip. We said some brief hellos and went back to our room. Like I said, it was awesome being a family again!

I saw the show for the first time yesterday but I got to watch from backstage. I was so proud of A-Girl. I couldn't really see everything from the wings but what I could see was amazing. She's so comfortable out there. She's also very professional. We didn't know that I was going to be backstage until the last minute so she had no idea I was there until she saw me before going on stage. She gave me a little wave and then went to work - no running to me, or getting out of the groove. She had work to do and she did it.

That's all I have time for now. We're meeting with Big D's relatives from Taiwan who came to visit. We're going shopping and for high tea at the Peninsula Hotel. Then Big D and I are taking a helicopter to Macau (which I keep calling "macaw" like the big dork that I am). We're getting lots of spa treatments and spending some much-needed time alone. M-Girl keeps asking why mom and dad need time alone. I told her that when she's grown up and a mommy she'll understand.

More when we get back!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Greetings from Hong Kong!

Just a quick note to say that M-Girl and I arrived in Hong Kong safe and sound. It was a really long flight but M-Girl did great! She's quite the world traveler already.

I can't even express how amazing it is to see and hold Big D and talk in person instead of on IM. It's overwhelming, really. Two months is a long time to be away from the love of your life, that's for sure. We're waiting for A-Girl to come back from the theater. M-Girl and I simply can't wait to see her!

Once we get our fill of family hugs and we get a little sleep, I'll give more details. The hotel is cool and there's lots in Hong Kong to blog about!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Thursday Thirteen

1. This will be very quick because M-Girl and I are going to Hong Kong today. Yippee! We can't wait to see Big D and the A-Girl. I am sooooo excited! There's good internet access there so I'll be blogging from Asia pretty soon. How cool is that?

2. I'm almost done packing but not quite and we have to leave for the airport in about two hours. Even though I know that it's not a good idea to leave things for the last minute, I still do. Maybe I'm addicted to the drama of the last minute.

3. I'm bringing three books with me to read on the airplane and whenever else I have time. I'm bringing Look Closer and The Night I Got Lucky by the nicest author I ever met (ok, she's really the only author I've ever met but she's really nice), Laura Caldwell. I'm also bringing Devil in the White City which is supposed to be fabulous and I've wanted to read for a looong time. I'm really excited to see my hubby and my baby girl!

4. I wonder if three books will be enough? The Laura Caldwell books aren't really long but Devil in the White City should take awhile. I'm also bringing two volumes of The Writer magazine. I love that magazine - it has so many great tips on writing.

5. I'll also spend some time on the plane working out the characters in the novel I really want to get working on.

6. And I should sleep a little too! But that might be hard because I'm sooo excited!

7. I won't forget M-Girl's "B", that's for sure. She also wants me to bring a fairly large squishy pillow for her. It'll probably be a pain to carry. When she asked if she could bring it, what do you think I said? That's right - "We'll see."

8. When I said "We'll see" what do you think M-Girl's response was? "You always say that!"

9. It seems like it would be a good idea to stop using those words as a crutch.

10. Did I mention that I'm really excited about this trip! Well, I am.

11. I might have to start doing the Thursday 10 (although it doesn't have quite the right ring to it) because thinking of thirteen things taxes my brain!

12. On the plane I hope they have a movie that M-Girl likes because I'm bringing my tablet PC and I don't have a disc drive on it so I won't be able to play her any movies. I kinda like it that way because then I can use my computer on the plane. But now that I think about it, my tablet has a great drawing program on it that she loves to use. So I guess I won't be able to use my computer unless she's sleeping. Or unless I can convince her to work on the coloring books and workbooks we've packed in her backpack. M-Girl's teacher was fabulous and put together a folder of stuff for her including math, writing practice and other fun stuff for her to do. She even put a box of colored pencils in there!

13. Gotta go get ready! I am soooooo excited!

Thanks for reading! Now go over and see Leanne for a list of other Thursday Thirteens. If you join us in the Thursday Thirteen fun, remember to post a comment with a link to your list here and we'll all come visit!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

It would be nice, but . . .

When M-Girl was born, a friend of ours gave her a white fleece blanket from L.L. Bean with her name embroidered on it. She has slept with it virtually every night for five years. She calls it her "B" (instead of blanket). Well, she slept over at Super Boy's house on Tuesday night and forgot bring B home. We didn't discover it until bed time last night and Super Boy's family was not home so we couldn't go get it. She actually fell asleep ok without it but came tearfully into my room in the middle of the night saying "I can't find my B! Where's my B?!" Poor baby. I helped her calm down, promised we'd get it in the morning and let her sleep with me the rest of the night.

When she woke up, she sat bolt upright, terror on her face, saying "Where's my B?!" When I explained that it was still at Super Boy's house, she said "Well, can't you call them, have them put it into the phone at their house and then you can pull it out of the phone and give it to me?" I tried to explain to her that it wasn't possible to do that although I don't think she really believes me.

Wouldn't it be cool if you could do that? Think of the possibilities! Of course, the first thing I thought about is how cool it would be if you could order a pizza and not have to wait for delivery . . .

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Pictures of the M-Girl

I finally got around to downloading some pictures off of the camera and I just had to post these because M-Girl is so damn cute!

Here's a picture of her before she went out with friends one day. She's gotten so confident in the last six months. It's great to see.

And here's a picture of M-Girl with her best friend, Super Boy. According to Super Boy, they are getting married. M-Girl is non-committal about the whole marriage thing right now. After all, she's only five. She's got a lot of livin' to do.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Playing with Google Images

CMHL has an interesting post today involving Google Images and I thought I'd join in the fun. You search Google Images for the name of your hometown, the town where you now live, your name, your grandmother's name, your favorite food, favorite smell (why? I don't know) and your favorite song and then post the images. So here goes:

My hometown is Highland Park, IL. It's rather boring and all I got in my search were pictures of other people's houses, a bunch of cars and a mugshot of a deadbeat dad. But then I found this picture. I know, we all hate Tom Cruise these days because he dissed on poor Brooke Shields for using drugs to deal with post-partum depression. Bad Tom. But I really liked this movie and most of it was filmed in Highland Park. I couldn't find a picture of the Risky Business house on Linden Street so I used this instead. At the time, it was really cool to see my hometown on the big screen.

Not surprisingly, there are lots of pictures of Chicago on the web. I tried to find a picture that wasn't the typical skyline and that was personal to me in some way but I couldn't find anything that was royalty-free or didn't have some other problem. So, fuck it, you all know what Chicago looks like. Moving on.

So I searched using "Jessica" and I couldn't believe I found this one. I mean, I'm Jessica! I'm delectable! And I am trouble! And I look exactly like Angie Dickinson! Ok, maybe not so much.

I then had a really hard time with the grandma search one. I couldn't decide which grandma to search and then I got sidetracked looking at some genealogy sites and then I did a search using Big D's grandma. Her name is Leone. I got a bunch of pictures of lions. If you knew her, you'd know that the lion thing kinda fits her personality.

My favorite food (if you can call it that) is cookie dough. Seriously. Left to my own devices on a particularly bad PMS day with some yummy cookie dough? Don't expect me to share. Lucky for me, it's more socially acceptable (and only slightly healthier) to eat cookie dough in ice cream. So here's my new favorite.

My favorite smell was the easiest. I love, love, love the smell of lilacs so I picked the first picture that came up in my search. Isn't that pretty? That is one thing about my hometown that was nice - there are lots and lots of lilac bushes so it smelled like heaven in the late spring.

And finally, I tried to pick a favorite song to search but I just couldn't do it. I don't have one favorite song or even one favorite singer, band or type of music. It's just too hard (whine, whine).

So, finally I'm done. It was kinda interesting but way too time consuming because I tried to find pictures with some interest. Most of the stuff you get on Google Images is rather boring. I was kind of surprised although I'm not sure what I expected. There's lots of interesting stuff on the Internet but there's also lots of boring crap. Ummm, I suppose that includes this post, doesn't it?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Random thoughts

First of all, I just need to say that I worked so hard in Tae Kwon Do yesterday that I can barely walk today. The instructor had me do about a million back kicks until I seriously couldn't lift my legs anymore. I've realized that for me it's more satisfying when my muscles hurt because I'm working on a skill than when I've just been through an aerobics class. At some point in the not to distant future, I'll be able to break a board with my bare foot. Aerobics doesn't promise that kind of excitement! The instructor told me that if I do 25 back kicks on each leg every day for two months, I'll lose two dress sizes, guaranteed. Which is nice but I wear a size 8-10 dress and I will never in my life be a size 4-6. Ever. But that's ok, if I get to a solid 8 and I don't jiggle quite so much, that'll be just fine.

M-Girl was awesome in Tae Kwon Do - she loves it and she works hard. The instructor is great with kids. He gets down to their level, gives high fives all the time and he notices when they are making a real effort and he rewards it. He knows when to be firm and when to be soft. M-Girl wasn't understanding the foot placement for a kick sequence so he put tape markers on the ground for her to practice on. She did those kicks about a hundred times until she got it right. No complaining. And she got her uniform (which she has been asking for every day since we started). It is way too cute. We got a size too big (because she's growing like a weed) and my mom is going to hem the arms and legs for her. Once it's done, I'll post a picture of M-Girl with it on. It's so damn cute!

I have a bunch of people coming over this afternoon for swimming and pizza so I have to do some cleaning. I'll make the beds, pick up most of the crap off the floor and empty the garbage. I'll probably run a broom around the floors too and if I'm feeling really ambitious, I'll Windex the mirrors! Whoo hoo! I really know how to have a good time. My house won't be perfectly clean - my desk is cluttered and there will probably be a few stacks of paper around the house. I used to be hesitant to invite friends over because the house wasn't clean enough. But now I've realized that our friends love us regardless of the shape our house is in and they'd rather see us and spend time with us now than wait until our house is clean (meaning, never).

I went to the opera last night - an attorney from D.C. that I work with invited me. She has awesome box seats at the Lyric Opera House and has been sitting in that box with the same group of people for eight years. They get tickets during the "out of towners" series - meaning pretty much everyone in the audience is not from Chicago, which is pretty cool. I've been to the opera with her a few times and everyone in her box is really nice. I love the Lyric - it's a beautiful building. I'm not really a big opera fan, though (although this was Cinderella and it was light, fluffy and funny). I was sooooo tired that I was falling asleep during the entire second Act and part of the first Act! Here's the thing that bugs me about operas - the plot moves at a snail's pace. They take twenty minutes to sing about a small point like "I'm not really the Prince's valet, I'm actually the Prince himself. This way I get to see how people really are." Ok, got it the first seventy times, don't need to hear you sing about it again. Really. The singers playing the Prince and Cinderella were awesome - they have incredible voice instruments but it gets old after a couple of hours. Four hours of that is way too much for me.

I submitted my short story! I was shaking when I hit the send button. I'm not even sure if I did it right but the publication doesn't seem to have any strict requirements (at least not that they show on the Submissions section of their website). So I'm hoping that if I did something wrong, they'll let me know. I'll keep you posted! So now the issue is whether I start working on some other short fiction or if I work on an actual novel. I had started playing with an idea for a book during my writing class and everyone was encouraging about the idea so maybe I'll keep running with that. I subscribed to The Writer magazine and it's got a lot of good stuff in it. It makes me want to write more to try out their suggestions.

That's about enough random thoughts for one day. At this point, writing this post has become more about procrastination than having anything remotely interesting to say. I'm off to clean! Wish me luck.

Friday, October 14, 2005

She's on to me . . .

The other day, I was joking with a friend about how I'm the Queen of "We'll see" because when my kids say stuff like "Promise we can go swimming tomorrow!" or "Promise I can have a sleep-over next weekend." I usually say "We'll see." I don't want to make promises that I might not be able to keep and unless I know that it's out of the question, I don't say no. (Ok, I admit, even when I'm pretty sure the answer is "no", I sometimes say "we'll see" just so that I don't have to argue.)

So, this morning M-Girl really wanted to lay in bed with me even though it was past time to get up. I said "Ok, I'll lay with you for a couple of minutes but you have to promise me something." (I was going to make her promise that she'd get up as soon as I said she needed to.) She says, "Why? You never make promises." I look at her, puzzled and she says "You always say 'we'll see' and you don't make promises." I want my kids to listen to me but I didn't want them to figure out my tricks and use them against me!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Thursday Thirteen

1. I'm so out of it, I almost forgot that it's Thursday and time for yet another addition of Thursday Thirteen! For some reason, I keep losing track of what day it is this week. And no, I haven't been drinking. Or smoking. Or popping pills, other than the usual. I'm just getting old.

2. M-Girl had a sleepover last night at our neighbors' apartment. They have two kids - a boy M-Girl's age and a girl that's a year or so younger. The girls slept in the same bed and apparently they woke up around 5:00 a.m. (according to the mom) and decided to watch Spongebob cartoons. M-Girl informed me that she and Hannah woke up "in the middle of the night and got to watch t.v.!" She was so excited to have done something so outrageous, I didn't have the heart to tell her that it was actually morning, even if it was still a bit dark.

3. I haven't been telling many stories about A-Girl and Big D's adventure in Asia because they aren't my stories and I don't want to steal any thunder from A-Girl and Big D. At some point, they might have their own blogs and I don't want them feeling like I've already told all the good stories to the blogosphere.

4. However, I really want to tell this one: The kids were lined up backstage for their curtain call. When they started running out on stage, the boy in front of A-Girl was moving kind of slowly and the girl behind her pushed her into the boy. A-Girl tripped on the boy's foot and somehow got dragged across the stage the rest of the way. She said when she stood up and took her bow, the audience started laughing and then she and the other kids started laughing and they laughed all the way off stage. I like this story not because I like to laugh at my daughter's misfortune but because it shows what she's learning through this experience. We all have times when we trip up but if we can have a good laugh and take it in stride, we'll be happier and healthier. I'm so glad that A-Girl can do that.

5. One week until M-Girl and I go to Hong Kong! Yipee!!! My wonderful husband is trying to plan a short (one day) getaway for the two of us so we can spend some much needed alone time together. Double yipeee!!! And thanks, honey!!!

6. My wonderful husband also invited my mother to come visit them in Hong Kong. How many men do you know that would voluntarily spend five days in a foreign country with their mother-in-law? Without their wives? Can someone let me know how to nominate him for sainthood?

7. I am going to the opera this weekend to see Cinderella. I'm not a big fan of the opera but I have a business acquaintance who invites us now and then. She always makes sure to invite me to the operas that non-opera lovers are more likely to enjoy. She's nice like that.

8. Did you know that I'm an expert procrastinator? Well, I am. In fact, I'm doing it right now. Hard to believe, I know.

9. I wrote a short story and tomorrow I'm going to submit it to an online publication. Wish me luck!

10. My mom is coming over for dinner and I can't decide if I should cook or if we should go out for dinner. I feel like I should cook but I tend to rebel against shoulds. Yes, I know that's really immature.

11. I know I say this every Thursday but it always amazes me how hard it is to come up with thirteen moderately interesting things to say! Normally you can't shut me up and now I'm at a loss for words. Go figure.

12. Being a "single" mom is harder than I expected. I have a lot of respect for single parents after this experience. There's so much household business that needs to be done on a daily basis and it's hard for one person to get it all done and still have time for themselves. Me, I just don't get as much done as I should (but see #10 above) so I have a little time to watch tv and knit at night. Honey - I always knew (and appreciated) that you took care of a lot of stuff but now I appreciate it even more!

13. I'm done! And because I'm too lazy to do all the links . . . oops, I mean busy, yeah, that's it. I'm too busy to do the links . . . please go see Leanne and check out the growing list of Thursday Thirteen participants! Also, if you do your own Thursday Thirteen, link to it in a comment so we can all come visit you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Oh, Canada

We went to Canada about a year ago with the girls. We explained to them that Canada is a different country but clearly they didn't quite grasp the concept. At one point, A-Girl said "Mom, I think Canada is a really nice state." Big D and I quickly looked around to make sure no actual Canadians overheard and were offended. However, it's possible that a writer for the very funny publication The Onion overheard as evidenced by this article.

Personally, I don't get it

I mean, seriously - 16 kids? And they want more? How can two parents effectively raise that many children? We have enough trouble with two kids and two parents! Man-to-man defense and all. Do you think they remember everyone's name? And being pregnant SIXTEEN TIMES?! Given that a full-term pregnancy is approximately 10 months, she has been pregnant for around thirteen years! Holy shit! Can you even imagine the stretch marks you'd get from that many pregnancies? Or maybe there's a limit to the number of stretch marks you can get, because probably after being pregnant ten times your belly just stays stretched out.

I know, judge not lest you be judged but this is just a little bit scary. Don't you think?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


I remembered something today that I haven't thought about in eons. I'm working on a short story. In the story, the narrator sees a friend from college that she hasn't seen in several years. He was someone she always had a thing for but never had the guts to tell him. It wasn't until I was re-reading the story this morning that I remembered my college crush.

So here's the story. The crush sort of started when I was a junior and he was a senior in high school. He was on the soccer team and I was a pom pom girl. (Ok, MIM, you can stop laughing now.) We would dance during the half-time of soccer games so we'd watch the first half and talk about the boys on the team. I thought he was cute but I never hung out with him and we didn't have any friends in common so I never actually met him until much later.

Fast forward to senior year and our so-called Penguins water ballet show. Yes, my high school had a water ballet club and yes, I was in it. No, I wasn't a total geek. Anyway, after the show, I saw him in the lobby talking with some of his friends. College boys! My girlfriends and I huddled together and giggled. I just remember seeing him and thinking damn, he's really cute.

The next year I went to the college where he was a sophomore and ended up in the same dorm. The first day I was there, he came to my room to say hello. He knew we were from the same high school and figured I might want to see a familiar face. It was then that the crush was official. Not only was he cute, he was thoughtful and friendly. In the next couple of days, he introduced me to his group of friends. They became my friends and although they were decidedly anti-"Greek", they still let me hang out with them after I joined a sorority. The group of us went through a lot together, including the death of a friend as a result of a stupid, beer-fueled stunt after a football game.

Through it all I carried a torch for my crush. All of our friends knew. I imagine that he knew, too although we never, ever talked about it. He just wasn't attracted to me, it's that simple. I wasn't his type and I had that figured out before the end of my freshman year. And yet the crush continued.

Now I realize that my crush on him kept me from developing feelings for anyone else during college. It protected me from taking the risks that come with seeking a deeper relationship. I knew all along that he and I would never be anything more than friends and, deep down, I probably liked it that way. I could live with the pain that caused me. It was the fear of really getting my heart broken that I couldn't deal with.

College ended and we didn't keep in touch. I don't remember thinking about him much at all after that. Other than our mutual college friends and growing up in the same town, we didn't have much in common. Our relationship, such as it was, had run its course. It's a weird feeling, being taken back so many years. I was a different person then and it's hard to put myself in the shoes of that person again. I know this, the current me wouldn't be interested in him - cerebral and quiet, lacking in passion. Rather boring, now that I think about it. But, as a friend, I think he was a comforting, stable presence in a time of emotional turmoil and growth.

It wasn't until I was ready to take the necessary risks that I met my husband who, in addition to being a comforting, stable presence, is also a passionate and enthusiastic person who loves me fiercely. My love for him often leaves me breathless and dizzy, something I never felt around my crush or any of the few "real" boyfriends I had over the years.

When I realized that I was in love with my husband, Elton John's song The One was playing on the radio. (Had I thought about this earlier in the week, this might have been my B4B entry!). This is the part of the song that hit me one night soon after we started dating.

In the instant that you love someone
In the second that the hammer hits
Reality runs up your spine
And the pieces finally fit
And all I ever needed was the one
Like freedom fields where wild horses run
When stars collide like you and I
No shadows block the sun
You're all I've ever needed
Baby you're the one

The day I met him, the first time he touched me - just an innocent pat on the back - I felt as if I knew him. As if the pieces finally fit. And I knew that he was the one. Given that we are both possessed of passionate natures, the part about stars colliding fits, too. It's a powerful love that we share. I'm glad my college crush didn't work out. It helped shape me into the person I am today, the person my husband loves. And for that, I'm wildly happy.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

An unexpected lesson

M-Girl and I started Tae Kwon Do yesterday in a "family" class for all ages. Not only was it a good workout but we both learned some things. The instructor taught M-Girl how to back kick. He taught me that my name in the class is Jessica, not M-Girl's mom. It was a very gentle way to reprimand me for correcting her. I guess I'm more of a stage mom than I realized.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Thursday Thirteen

Ok - I know Thursday is almost over but I'll try to get a quick 13 things in anyway.

1. I haven't paid the ticket yet from the time my car got towed. It's sitting on my desk pissing me off. I need to pay that thing and get it out of my life.

2. I'm counting forwards this week, which is good. I guess.

3. After writing my Blogging for Books post, I'm even more into my music than I was before! When I went to pick up M-Girl from her playdate, I was blasting Can you take me higher by Creed and singing REALLY LOUD. And then there was I'm not your stepping stone by somebody else which is great, too. I was really bummed because I only caught the end of Time for me to fly by REO Speedwagon - talk about a high school anthem!

4. Since 3 was really long, this one needs to be short. Why? Because I said so.

5. Have I mentioned that I loved kickboxing? I did. But two nights later my muscles are still sore which kinda sucks but it does mean that every time I move my arms, I think about how much fun I had in that class.

6. Which reminds me - I need to go buy boxing gloves!

7. I'm taking M-Girl to Tae Kwon Do on Saturday. Well, actually, I'm going and I'm bringing her with me. It's a family class. I hope she likes it. Maybe when Big D and A-Girl get back we can all go together. You know the saying, "the family that Tae Kwon Do's together . . ." whatever.

8. Why is it so hard to think of 13 remotely interesting, funny or strange things to talk about when normally I can't shut up?

9. I love having my nails polished but I hate the fact that it chips off almost immediately and I always have to touch it up. I wish that they made polish that would never chip and when you wanted to take it off or change colors, all you'd have to do is wiggle your nose and blink like Samantha on Bewitched.

10. In fact, I think magic powers would be really nice. Like I'd love to clean up the clutter in my house but I'm just too busy blogging, thank you very much. But if I had magic powers . . . *nose wiggle* *blink* and it's done! Sigh. Oh, wait - I just realized that I'm combining Samantha and Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie. Even better - double magic powers! And blond hair! Cool.

11. Can you tell I like taking the easy way out when possible?

12. Like now, I could use what little energy I have left tonight thinking of something truly inspiring to say right now. But I won't because I'm just that lazy tonight.

13. Wow, I'm done. Yippeee! Now, I don't want you to think that I don't like Thursday Thirteen. I do. I'm just in a lazy mood tonight. Tune in next week for another - far more interesting - addition of Jessica's Thursday Thirteen!

Now, go see Leanne, the founding mother of the Thursday Thirteen and check out her Thursday Thirteen. If you do one of your own, post the URL in my comments and we'll all go take a look!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


This is my entry into this month's Blogging for Books hosted by the very funny Joshilyn Jackson.

Music has always been a big part of my life and, in thinking about what to write for this month’s B4B, I realized that I have a close personal relationship with lots of songs. It was hard for me to pick just one.

At first I was going to write about Beach Baby by First Class – a Top 10 hit from 1974. We played that record at least a million times at my 10th birthday sleepover party. “Beach baby, beach baby, give me your hand. Give me something that I can remember-er-er. Surfin’ was fun. We’d be out in the sun every day-ay-ay ay-ay.” (Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago we could really relate to the surfing thing.) We played the 45 so many times that sometime around midnight my Dad threatened to break the record over his knee if we played that “goddamn song again!” (It’s that memory that prevents me – reluctantly – from telling the girls that if they play one more Hilary Duff song forty thousand times in a row . . . blah, blah, blah). I decided not to write about Beach Baby because I didn’t think one paragraph would be long enough to win B4B.

Seriously, though - there are tons of songs that I’ve thought about and listened to in the last few days trying to come up with the perfect one. Out of all the songs I had to choose from, one song kept popping into my head. Our Time from the Sondheim musical Merrily We Roll Along.

Merrily was a huge flop on Broadway (lasting only two weeks), probably because the story starts at the end and goes backwards in time making it a little hard to follow. I imagine that audiences didn’t want to work that hard. But the songs are wonderful – more melodic and less of an “acquired taste” than a lot of other Sondheim music.

When I was in college, I produced Merrily the summer after my sophomore year. I had only $5,000 that I somehow got the school to give me. I pulled it together, with an awesome (if small) orchestra, a hard-working cast and a director who was good but who was also a drunk (and a letch). Every night after rehearsal, I had to drive him to the corner store for a six-pack and then drive him home, all the while swatting his hands away from me. Which was hard since my car was a stick shift.

But I digress – Merrily is about the friendship of two guys who are a songwriting team. By the end (which is the beginning of the play), they have grown apart and become cynical. But at the beginning (which is the end of the play – I told you it was confusing), they were full of hope and looking forward to a great future. Our Time is a song about the possibilities of life. It’s hopeful. It was my favorite song in the show.

Something is stirring, shifting ground
It’s just begun
Edges are blurring all around and yesterday is done

Feel the flow, hear what’s happening, we’re what’s happening
Don’t you know, we’re the movers and we’re the shapers
We’re the names in tomorrow’s papers,
Up to us pal to show ‘em

It’s our time
Breathe it in, worlds to change and worlds to win
Our turn, we’re what’s new
Me and you pal, me and you

After I left college, I went to New York to start a career in theater production. As it turned out, theater jobs were hard to find and wouldn’t have paid the rent anyway. I worked at a talent agency and then at a couple of small television production companies until I left NY and went to law school. In three short years, I had become cynical. I had lost hope and gave up my dreams.

I turned 40 a year ago. As many people do at age-related turning points, I took stock in my life and realized that I needed to make some changes. I had lost a lot of myself when I became a lawyer, wife and mother. No one asked me to give anything up, it just happened. At 40, I was surprised to find that I didn’t know who I was anymore.

Something is stirring, shifting ground
It’s just begun
Edges are blurring all around and yesterday is done

Feel the flow, hear what’s happening, we’re what’s happening
Don’t you know, we’re the movers and we’re the shapers
We’re the names in tomorrow’s papers,
Up to us pal to show ‘em

It’s our time
Breathe it in, worlds to change and worlds to win
Our turn, we’re what’s new
Me and you pal, me and you

I think I got scared to put myself out there. When I was young, my expectations were too high and my failures (or what I saw as my failures) caused painful disappointment. I didn’t have the resiliency or the persistence to keep going. My fear kept me from taking chances.

Feel how it quivers, on the brink

Gives you the shivers,
Makes you think there’s so much to stuff to sing

Me and you, we’ll be singing it, like the birds
Me with music and you with words
Tell ‘em things they don’t know
Up to us pal to show ‘em

When I turned 40 I had this weird thought – if I live to be 80, I have another whole life to live and I don’t want to blow it being afraid. In the past year I’ve started this blog, taken a writing class and picked up knitting again. I’m figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m starting to feel hopeful. I’m starting to take chances again. It feels good.

It’s our heads on the block, give us room and start the clock
Our time comin’ through, me and you pal, me and you
Me and you, me and you, me and you

Something is stirring, shifting ground
It’s just begun
Edges are blurring all around and yesterday is done

I think I’ve turned a corner.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Kickboxing kicked my ass

but I loved every second of it! Well, maybe not every second. The last fifteen minutes were really, really hard. I can barely type right now, my arms are so tired. Every muscle in my body is tired. What an incredible workout!

I was the oldest woman in the class (there was one man in addition to the instructor) and probably the most out of shape but it didn't matter. My (long-ago) dance training was really helpful. The class consists of short routines - like right leg roundhouse, jab, jab, cross, hook, back spin, back kick, roundhouse - that you do ten times each (on each side). The main problem I had was getting the spacing between my foot and the bag right. I was either too far away or too close half the time. It'll take me awhile before I can do the routines smoothly.

I had no idea how much fun it would be! And it felt great. I felt more powerful than I have in a long time (until the last 15 minutes of class - then I just felt like I needed oxygen.) I made arrangements with the babysitter to stay an hour later on Tuesdays so I can go to the class regularly. Now all I need to do is get my own boxing gloves - it was a little disgusting using the communal gloves. Your hands really sweat so think about what the communal gloves are like . . . ok, don't think about it. It's gross. Sorry. Just wish me luck in attempting to move tomorrow. I'll need it!

Random stuff

I got another TTLB promotion! I'm a Crawly Amphibian! Wow - where is everybody coming from and why aren't you commenting? (It's probably because of the Thursday Thirteen which I'll definitely do again this week).

Apparently you all don't like Monty Python songs. That's ok - this Friday I'll probably go back to music that's like a chick-lit equivalent. Deep songs sung by angst-filled women or something. Or maybe I'll go with something like Good Charlotte's The Anthem which I listened to this morning really loud on my iPod. I must be channeling some head-banging, disaffected teenager. It put a spring in my step. Really.

Speaking of head-banging, or not, I'm going to a kickboxing class tonight. Why? I just feel like doing something totally different and I'm pissed about the ten pounds I've gained over the last six months. And I'm feeling old and I don't like it so I figure I'll go to a class for young, fit people and feel like total crap tomorrow morning when I can't get out of bed. Seriously - I just feel like kicking something and thought this would be the least destructive way of doing it. Wanna bet I'll be the oldest woman there?

Monday, October 03, 2005

A new friend

Morphing into Mama and I had a wonderful and very long lunch yesterday at a little bistro near my apartment. She is as fabulous as you would guess from reading her blog. She's smart, funny, gorgeous, down to earth and really nice. She's going to make a great therapist (actually, she already is a great therapist she just doesn't have the degree yet). I just wish she didn't live so far away!

Thinking back, here are the expectations I had in writing this blog:

- working on my writing
- getting over my fear of writing "in public"
- having an outlet to express my feelings about various things
- sharing my life experience with other people in the hopes that things I've learned might help someone else.
- getting feedback from people about my writing and advice on various issues in my life

I hoped people would read my blog; I feared that no one would. I was so excited when I got my first comment - Sandra will always hold a special place in my heart for being the first person to comment! Realizing that I could insert a webcounter was a revelation - I could tell when people were reading even if they weren't commenting (or maybe they just stumbled on my blog and got the hell out of there as fast as they could but at least they were visiting, if only for a minute).
It didn't occur to me that this blog would help me develop a community. I have regular commenters (besides MIM and Sandra, there's landismom, a fab writer and one of the few people I "know" that really lives their values) and I have people that stop by on occasion. Like a "regular" community, an online community consists of people you see all the time and people you see every once in awhile. I read MIM, Sandra and landismom's blogs every day. I try to stop by the others on my list every couple of days and I try to add at least one new blog each week as a way of expanding my horizons (and increasing my community). It's the community that keeps me writing - I know how disappointed I am when one of my online friends doesn't post, I don't want to disappoint my regulars!

My one concern is that I've been spending so much time with my new online friends that I'm starting to neglect my old friends a little bit. I have to keep in mind the song I learned long ago in Brownies: Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other's gold.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

That's a good question

M-Girl and I went to The Gap last night to get her some clothes because despite the fact that I keep asking her nicely not to, she keeps growing. At the registers, they have glass bowls full of purple, sparkly lip gloss.

M-Girl pulled one out and said "Mom, can I have this?"
I said, "No, please put it back. Lord knows you have enough lip gloss."
M-Girl looks at me and says, "Who's Lord?"