Friday, December 29, 2006

Now THAT'S a wake-up call

While in Philadelphia for MLA, I'm staying at the Alexander Inn in a room on the 6th floor at the south end of the building. It also happens to have a bay window.

Which, because I left the window shades open last night, meant that I had the most amazing, unobstructed view of a sunrise this morning.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Why we don't have cable television at home

In alphabetical order, these are the movies (parts of, or complete) we've seen on TCM (which featured a day of Irene Dunne flicks and an evening of Stanley Donan flicks) in the very few days we've been at my parents' place in Ann Arbor:
You've got to admit, not a bad way to spend a few days. And tonight: The Shop Around the Corner. Yippee!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Joyeux Christmakwanzukkah!!

Indeed, 'tis the holiday season all around. And if the frantic paper-grading and hyperventilating prospects at going to MLA next week weren't enough to get me in the mood, we had a evy of activities to make sure we're in the holiday spirit.

On Friday, we braved a rush-hour endless litany of "mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama" in the backseat to experience Brookside Gardens at its brightest, with its annual holiday light show. We met up with Xan's most amazingest special friend Jolie and family -- and, truth be told, KC not only has the pictures, but gets the description down right, because I too felt like I was inside the world's largest Lite Brite.

Yesterday, after Xan and I delivered some cookies and Angela went to a dress rehearsal, we actually drove up to New York City for the Fields family Channukah tradition known as Latkethon. We've been invited for years but damn if the holiday just comes at the wrong time of the semester. By a stroke of sheer luck, however, my exams were separated by a week, leaving this weekend pretty clear -- so we piled everyone in the car and drove up to experience more potato pancakes, brisket and good red wine than I have had in a while. (OK, so Xan was only really interested in the applesauce and tri-color cake-like cookies. Still.) This also allowed us some face time with the whole Dadak clan before Christmas (see below).

And then today we braved the New Jersey Turnpike to come home in time for Angela's orchestra's carol sing. Given that we didn't get tickets ahead of time, we were a little tuckered out and, ahem, our last experience with the orchestra, Xan and I sat this one out. But after tomorrow's exam (and a frantic period of grading), we all head up to Ann Arbor for Christmas with my parents, which is the first time we've done that in a few years (and clearly the first time with Xan). With snow on the horizon, it should be a great holiday -- complete (and they don't know this) with Peruvian D'Onofrio panetón for my parents.

This probably means I won't get to blog too much until just after Christmas, when we descend on Philadelphia for MLA, but you can be sure there will be stories and photos upon the return. Until then (and maybe even before then, have a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hopped up on morphine

I don't watch Scrubs anymore, not because I don't like it, but because of the many time changes it has suffered (and, also, desire to get work done). But I just found this and thought it was hilarious.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I think Portishead said it best

"Nobody loves me, it's true..."
(from "Sour Times," their biggest hit)

Don't get me wrong: Angela and I are doing wonderfully. (The love is still there -- and she received that erotic romance novel writing guide, which I'm checking to see if it requires home research.) No, I'm talking about my little darling boy who, as I hinted a bit yesterday, has been for the past week or so... there's no other way to say it...

...a mama's boy.

This weekend, when I wake up to an already stirring Angela and Xan and say a jovial, "Hello!" my son looks up, then goes back to playing with a car without even acknowledging my presence.

A few minutes later, he brings a book to Angela: "Read! Read!"

"I'm making breakfast, Xan. But Dada can read to you."

A scowl. "MAMA read!"


Perhaps this can be traced back to the now-infamous Concert Situation just over a week ago, already chronicled by KC. To offer my perspective, some background is necessary: Angela's orchestra holds a great kids' concert every year, complete with an Instrument Petting Zoo before the show. The concert itself usually has its fair share of antsy kids running around, drawing on programs or commenting to each other loudly about what-not. This year, the orchestra held the concert in their new location, the Atlas Theatre on H Street NE. Because A Raisin in the Sun was performing in another theatre in the complex that afternoon, orchestra members were encouraged to come early; that meant that our whole family showed up early. Xan proved to be quite a trooper early on, becoming the plaything of two nine-year-olds who were also there early and generally having a fine time exploring and politely running around the lobby. When the petting zoo started, Angela brought us to the third row on the left side where we could see her well, and then we went to check out all the instruments (Of note, other than the drum and mama's violin, his favorite instrument was... the bass! Which he has not stopped talking about to this day. We have since learned that some guy named Yo-Yo Ma picked up the cello because he was too little to handle the bass. I could live with that, you know.) The lights then dimmed and we went to our seats.

Which turned out to be a huge mistake.

If we had thought about it, we would have never picked those seats, precisely for the reason we chose them: because we could see Mama. Indeed, the concert was set to begin and Xan got off my lap and made a beeline for the stage, saying "Mama, up!" And, of course, she couldn't. Indeed, she had to ignore him as I tried to pry his little hands from the stage.

Thus begins my most tense experience with music ever, whereupon my child suddenly turns from being the sweet, well-disposed marvel that he is into That Child.

The howling was such that I immediately made way for the exit (from the third row, mind you), where I tried to calm him down in the lobby. Nothing. It is at this point that I notice that Jolie and her parents have just arrived -- late, thank God. (Jolie, it should be mentioned, is probably Xan's 2nd best friend after his tiger.) I find this to be some miracle of God and put him down, whereupon he is mesmerized to find that, indeed, Jolie is here, too. He calms down, we go inside. We find that three of the only free seats in the theatre happen to be in front of where my coat is, in the front row. (Wait, wasn't I in the third row? Someone moved me! As you will soon see, this didn't matter.) JP, Kathy and Jolie head down to the seats (while the orchestra is finishing their first number, and I head down with Xan, thinking things will be OK.

The howling was such that I immediately made way (again) for the exit, having thwarted him from getting on stage. The usher and I try to calm him down between the doors, to no avail. Kathy brings Joles out, and this makes it somewhat better. Joles and Xan then go back inside and Jolie wants to go down the steps to her Dada, JP, who is still in the front row. Xan, of course, wants to follow Jolie. Kathy and I duckwalk down the stairs in pursuit, all the while the orchestra is continuing. At some point around here, I realize that all the other kids in the theatre are actually being attentive, polite and quiet. To my horror, it is only my child who is causing any sort of commotion.

The kids then spent the rest of the concert racing back and forth in the front row from one side of the theater to the other, bouncing seats up and down and trying to talk to the aforementioned bass. Kathy, JP and I served as stopping posts between them, catching both of them briefly before they would escape from our arms, as we then positioned ourselves cramped in front of the stage by the floor. I have not been more thankful that the front row was empty, nor when the concert finally ended. "How was it?" a musician asked after it was over and Xan was finally reunited with his mother. "I have absolutely no idea," I said.

(That day, I turned with sincerity to JP and Kathy and said, "I don't think I will ever thank you enough for just being here today." Kathy, JP: I don't think I will ever thank you enough.)

Since then, chopped liver has been more popular than me among the under-ten set in the household. I'm used to this kind of treatment from our cat, but I hadn't expected her to have taught our son so quickly that Mama was the Better Human. For almost a week now, Mama could barely get a break of any sort from the obsessed boy and I could barely keep his attention -- even on the two days last week when I had him the whole day. Consciously, I knew this as cliche: boys have a special thing with their mothers, and the trade-off of having a boy is the knowledge that I would always be second fiddle to Mama. I get this. It doesn't make me love him any less. Rejection, nonetheless, still smarts.

Usually, I have him one full day, but his day-care provider had a dentist's appointment on Tuesday and her son's graduation on Friday, meaning I had him on both of my days off last week. The trade-off was to start today, when I would have lots of free time to get some good, quality writing done. I even finished grading the exams that I administered yesterday before I went to bed, just so that I could get up, get Xan out the door and get crackin'. I was really looking forward to this -- and besides, he hasn't really wanted to spend any time with me anyway.

And then Xan woke up this morning a little earlier than usual. I went over, half groggy, and picked him up.

At which point he threw up on me. (This has never happened before.)

After which he collapsed on me in a huge hug.

It's rare that I've had such conflicting feelings of eeewww and oh my gosh! he really does love me! And even though this meant that I stayed home today, losing one of my very precious writing days to make sure he was OK, that spew-covered hug just sent me over the moon. And today, I got plenty of hugs. Around noontime, he even asked me for a hug. From me. Twice.

With that, all is well in the world.

"Nobody loves me, it's true --
not like you do."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Like deer in the headlights

I type this as I sit in front of 44 students all dilligently completing their final exam. We're just over an hour in and there is relatively minimal trepidation at this point, although the panic was definitely there when we started: fear, even, mixed with a trace of cockiness. Perhaps it has also dissispated somewhat because I showed them a short film called A Ninja Pays Half My Rent, the comedy being a change of pace from what I have normally shown at this point.

Since I have a moment, I'll point out that, indeed, this blog has moved over the "blogger beta," which I used to subtly tweak some visual elements from the old incarnation. I have also added labels for all the previous postings, which was a thankless job that I decided to undertake when I didn't have anything else better to do (commercial breaks, between advising students, etc.). Not so suprisingly, I have posted about Xan more than anything else. Perhaps more surprising are the five (now six) posts to date on Dave Kaiser, Associate Professor of History of Science at MIT. Shockingly, his profile doesn't have pictures of his adorable twins who, I imagine, are almost one and therefore should be just about old enough to start plotting his doom. (Not yours, Tracy, because they would never do that to their mother. They never do anything against the mother. Believe me, I'll blog about how I have suddenly turned into chopped liver any day now.)

And that was just long enough for the first exam to be turned in.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

'Tis the season...

...for sharing with your best friend. And for cookie dough. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Not quite stranger than...

At dinner, Angela mentioned that one of the few blogs she reads was having a contest. The blog is written by an author who writes in several genres (under different names for all of them) and has some fun musings on writing. She also often gives away books to her readers, usually chosen at random from those who leave a comment responding to a particular question. In the spirit of the 12 days of Christmas, she is giving away a different assortment of books per day. Angela mentioned that this time she was giving away a writer's guide. "In fact," she mused, "I almost didn't enter because the guide is for erotic romance. But hey, I wanted the other book, so I entered. Who knows -- if I win, maybe I should take it as a sign."

Long story short: she won!

Look! A sign!

Maybe we'll have a race to publication? Now that would be fun.

(A couple other random notes: Very soon, I will have a moment to detail last Sunday's events -- although KC's done a wonderful job already. And looky: blogger finally moved my blog over to beta! Yippee! Labels!)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

No, really, I love my son.

It's just that he did two things this week that I, well, didn't approve.

One, he gave me his cold that he had last weekend. Very inconsiderate of him. It made me less than stellar this week as a teacher, particularly on Wednesday when I almost didn't make it through a block class on Salvador Plascencia's super-fabulous The People of Paper (which you should all read right now).

Two, he knocked my computer over. I should clarify that in my weakened mental state (due to congestion and slight fever from abovementioned issue), I left the computer on the sofa arm, which is well within his reach. And he knocked it over.

Which fried the hard drive.

Completely. As in, I couldn't get the computer to even acknowledge that a hard drive existed ever. Brand new computer, I had it for three months.

Happily, this was a work computer. So work covered a replacement, which is what I am typing on now.

Unhappily, said fried hard dirve meant I lost everything I was working on for the past month-and-a-half. All my new courses, the new chapter of my book, a few paper ideas, the notes I had taken on job candidate portfolios, photographs of Xan from Halloween, all gone. (Fortunately, I had backed things up at the beginning of October, so I didn't lose absolutely everything. And the couple choice Halloween pics I happened to have posted on here have survived. Still, it smarts.)

And yes, I know: this is only the beginning.

Anyhow, I'm back. Just in time for finals.