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Can we just jump to January please? - 2014-11-14
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2:48 p.m. - 2013-03-11
Change of Season

This is dopey, but I like it that our trash pick-up is on Monday. It's easier to remember than a mid-week pick up for one thing. No, "Shoot, I forgot it's Wednesday! Missed the garbage truck again!" For another the Sunday evening ritual of dumping all the house's trash and recycling bins into the big cans outside and having Wolf wheel them to the curb is akin to Carol Burnett tugging her earlobe- it means it's over. The show, the weekend, the fun, it's over for the week. Time to put our weekday faces on. Of course my view of Monday is far different than most folk's, to me Monday is my weekend. It's my day off. I try like hell to never schedule meetings and appointments on Mondays. Monday is my fart around the house day. I cook an elaborate dinner for the fun of it and to get decent leftovers for the next day. Tuesday is my Monday. It's Errands Day. Meeting day. For instance tomorrow my first scheduled stop is at Wolf's school at 8:15 for annual IEP review. From there I'm going all day- pharmacy, dry cleaner's, dropping paperwork at my lawyer's, back to Wolf's school to pick him up and take him across town to his monthly med review and weekly counseling appointment. There are stops at the bank and the bread store too. Certainly not complaining, it's better than having to drag my sorry ass to a real job, it's just busy and scheduled out the wazoo, a stark contrast to my usual kick-back Monday of comfy yoga pants and no make-up or bra.

We had an unexpected 3-day weekend this week. Friday was a snow day.

Hopefully it's the last one of the year. The districts have already used up their scheduled ones and have started biting into spring break. I think Wolf's district plans on five snow days and Mick's has six. In any case to make the state mandated 180 day school year once the snow days are used up the districts must start taking away time from other places. Hence the truncated spring break. It goes the other way too. Last year everyone was left with unused snow days so they were tacked onto Memorial Day weekend. Mick and Wolf had almost an entire week off instead of just having the usual Monday holiday.

That's another thing about our garbage schedule, when there's a Monday holiday our pick-up is rescheduled to Tuesday just like my guys' school schedule and the 'weekend is over' ritual still applies.

Despite the crazy amount of snow on Friday there's definite signs of Spring out there. I can smell it. That fecund waking-up scent. The ground is soft beneath my feet. The songbirds are back already. It makes me happy even though it also means the dreaded hot weather is coming fast. Yesterday it was a gorgeous sunny 45 degrees. I drove to the dollar store with the car windows down and Mick had his first bike ride of the season wearing his cycling shorts instead of his winter tights. We sat on the stoop together late in the afternoon and agreed that to us this was perfect. Cool enough for a hoodie, warm enough to be about our biz unencumbered by coats and hats and gloves. Even Wolf, my tropical baby, was digging it. He made good use of the last bit of snow by sledding like a crazy thing down the yard wearing only a sweatshirt and jeans.

I'm currently having a Netflix love affair with the show 'Numb3rs'. I'd caught episodes here and there, usually in the very late night on the upper channels right before the infomercials start. Now I'm watching them in order, often 3-4 at a time just because I can. Like most crime shows it's a comforting fairytale in which the bad guys are always caught and punished appropriately. Unlike most crime shows the victims are rarely young women left in horrific S&M poses for the camera to linger over lovingly. Like 'L&O-SVU' and 'Criminal Minds' for instance. I had to give up on both of those shows despite truly liking the main characters. That endless parade of snuff porn masquerading as crime scenes made me throw up. 'Numb3rs' is more like 'NCIS', the victims come from all walks and the reasons they're dead are more varied than just a pervert getting his jollies. 'Numb3rs' has a lot of other stuff going for it too. If you're unfamiliar with the show it's centered around two brothers- one an FBI agent, the other is a math prodigy super genius now working as a professor at the fictional Cal-Sci University. (Sort of a stand-in for Cal-Tech, I'm guessing.) The brothers' widowed father lives with the genius son in the family home, a fantastic Arts and Crafts gem of a house. The sons and the father have a messy, loving, very true to life relationship. There's a gaggle of secondary characters who are developed beyond the usual stock characters too. Don's team at the FBI. Charlie's friends at the university. Even the dad's friends from his earlier life as a city planner and before that as a liberal activist. I like the show because Charlie the genius and his gang o' brainiacs at Cal-Sci are integral to helping the FBI solve the crimes. Smarts rule on 'Numb3rs'. A refreshing change from the standard trope of whoever has the biggest gun and ammo clip wins. I like it because the women on the show are just as smart and brave and complex as the men. They're not just there to be taken hostage or be adorable eye candy.

Is it a perfect show? No, but what is? I get the snorts sometimes at how quick the FBI guys call in the genius Scooby Gang. Can't the FBI solve anything on their own? But as far as crime shows go 'Numb3rs' is a keeper. A nice balance between the crime of the week and the characters' personal lives. Interesting stories. Good writing. Definitely worth checking out if you like this sort of thing.

Is my life really this small? That all I care about is the weather and TV shows and my own tiny sphere of errands and chores? Of course not. However those are the things I have direct control over. Absolutely I care about the violence in Mali and Syria. The nuclear saber-rattling of North Korea. The whacking huge cuts in the UK's healthcare. The steady erosion of EPA protections in this country. The rapid ascension of the bankers again and how they're getting their astronomical salaries and bonuses back and how they've totally escaped prosecution for their trashing and looting of our economy. I care about drone strikes and the aftermath of Fukushima. I fret over the desalinization of our oceans and the huge dead spot of deoxygenated water off our Pacific coast. I care about sex trafficking. I sorrow over the disservice we've done to our children with the tyranny of standardized testing and zero-tolerance policies. I agonize over how women's reproductive rights are under constant assault, especially at the state level and thus under the national radar. I see the results of well-meaning but stupid policies like the First Lady's school lunch anti-obesity initiative. All that's done is deprive both my son and my husband of a tasty and substantial lunch. I see and care about all of it. I write to my senators and congressional reps. I vote. Always. I spend my money as ethically as I can. I use my reusable shopping bags. I source my family's food as locally and as ecologically soundly as I am able.

But you know what? I can't be everywhere. Nor can any of the people of good conscience. We cannot fix everything with gluten-free cupcakes and a boycott of Trader Joe's bananas. We cannot secure an economically fair future and an environmentally pure diet for our children no matter how earnest the attempt.

Goodness knows I want to. I love both my sons. Desperately. I wish I could leave them a world to live their adulthoods in that is cleaner, nicer, more forward-thinking, has a more level playing field for those not of the home team, a more unionized, more sane, a kinder place. I want to leave them a world that is safer.

What parent doesn't?

Yet oddly enough I also want my children to fight. To stand up. Handing them everything cushy and fair is to deny them the whetstone of self that comes from having to hone their views against the regressive sanctimonious faux-piety of those who stand to lose influence if more voices are included. To push back against the status-quo is good. Makes you think about what YOU want from life. It's a paradoxical equation in which you want the path as smooth and level as it can be, as safe so your kids have no hurt, as open so they can tap into every advantage, yet you also understand that a world that is too smushy underfoot and too easy is NOT the one which will give your kid the best lessons. Steel is tempered with hammering and fire. Steel isn't coddled into being. It's an alloy coaxed from the combination of raw material, brute force, and experience borne of skill.

In the most basic evolutionary imperative we want our children to succeed so they can breed and our DNA goes forward. If we make the world comfy and safe enough our kids will have their own kids and their kids will have kids and their kids and...our green eyes, gapped front teeth, knack for theoretical physics, talent for the arts, etc, etc will be here long after we are dead. That is the biological imperative at its most urgent and basic.

Yet because we are also conscious beings, ones who understand our physical selves exist for a short time but our legacies can live on for a long, long time after we're dead, we also work so the world we leave behind exceeds just the basic biological evolutionary impetus. We hope our offspring care that we were here. That they safeguard and treasure our work. We strive for immortality not by living forever but because we program our children to be the caretakers of our legacies. We teach them to venerate the past. To maintain family photo albums. To continue our life's pursuits. To make certain the 'Smith and Sons' business (hardware store, carpentry, publishers, etc) is carried to the next and the next generations. We teach our children this is important not because it will make their lives easier but because it will give our own lives a lasting legacy. We will exist long after we're gone.

I think about this a lot. I've spent most of my life scrabbling to matter even just a little bit. That it counted at all I was here. To get enough feedback and validation that my being here made some kind of sense. Yeah, I made two new human beings, but from my earliest memories I was taught my being here was an unwelcome accident, an unfair burden, a responsibility no one wanted to claim, so I've worked and hoped and strived for some kind of validation. I made my children while I was still fighting to prove I was allowed to be here in the first place.

Funny, no?

Any wonder I spend my energy waxing rhapsodic about TV programs? And trash pick-ups?


Struggling to balance the large and the small, ~LA

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