Sunday, March 19, 2006


Ryan and I are always late to jump on the television bandwagon, namely because we don't have friends, and the concept of word-of-mouth relies heavily on having friends. As an example, we didn't start watching the Sopranos until Season 4. We therefore only recently began watching the television showLost on dvd courtesy of Netflix. Ever since we started, we spend all free time not consumed by preparing legal documents for our lawsuit, feeding and diapering Ben, grading essays, and attempting to write watching the dvds. This week I told Ryan I was fully prepared to surrender all of my responsibilities so that I could watch the show full-time, and, you know, really devote myself. But then Ryan reminded me that we only have two more dvds of Season 1 left to watch, and that would be a poor decision because once we had watched all the episodes we would be left alone, jobless and very likely unshowered, with no new episodes to warm us. I know what he was thinking because I was thinking it too: It's too bad we don't have like twenty more dvds left because it would totally be worth it.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

swear to god

Ryan swears to god that Benjamin said, "Larry King" a few days ago. I don't really believe it, but then again years of Catholic guilt have made it so that Ryan will not swear to god unless it is really true, which means it is quite possible that Benjamin loves suspenders and coke-bottle glasses and riveting, thought-provoking interviews more than most things in this world.

Friday, March 10, 2006

sometimes they fall

A couple of months ago, Benjamin discovered the joys of blocks. His Aunt Birdy bought him a set of fifteen wooden blocks for Christmas, and ever since he's enjoyed stacking them knocking them over and yelling "yay" and transferring them from the toy bin to the couch to his mini kitchen. You know, the usual block activities. Then the other morning, something bad happened. I set out seven blocks in front of him, and he started to stack them. He is still learning, and he is occasionally clumsy and knocks them over before he is ready. Usually, he loves the knocking over more than the stacking, but on this particular morning he started to cry. The cry turned into a full-on scream, complete with red face, shaking limbs and tears. He was frustrated that he'd knocked down the blocks. Really frustrated.

"It's okay, Ben," I gently said, attempting to reassure him. I tried to show him that this was normal, that blocks fall down, that you can stack them again. He started to believe me, but then he knocked them over again, and he kept crying and trying to set up blocks and knocking them over again and crying. He did this again and again, crying harder each time, and I tried to distract him, but he wouldn't stop crying and stacking. Finally, after a full ten minutes of self-torture, he ran screaming out of his bedroom, away from the offenders and into the warm arms of Elmo on the television. He sat on his baby couch, put his thumb in his mouth, and sighed.

This event was horrible to watch. It was horrible because it was my fault. He inherited this affliction, perfectionism, from me, and here I was trying to explain it away. I wanted to tell him that blocks are made to fall down, that it is okay if you knock them over. Ben, you will be knocking down blocks your whole life. You have to learn to step away sometimes, to laugh, to come at them from a different angle. Or else you're going to end up like your mommy.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

there is nothing more useful than a lego

It's the middle of the night. Ben's had a nightmare, and he's crying out to me. I rush to his aid in the dark, and BAM, I step on a lego. The grooves and edges cut into the bottom of my foot. "I fucking HATE legos," I mutter to myself, as I kick the brightly colored rectangle out of my path.

Often derided, never respected, the Lego has never been paid its dues. I'm here to say that I have gained a new understanding of Legos this week. And I want to share that understanding with you.

The other morning, my windshield was frozen over with ice. As I am from Southern California, I rarely face this dilemma, and, as you might imagine, I don't keep an ice scraper handy. But I had to do something--my students expected me to be standing in front of the class in forty minutes, Ben was already strapped into the carseat, and I was shivering with cold. I opened the glove compartment, and there it was--a yellow Lego. What was a Lego doing in my glove compartment? What was a gummy worm doing in my pocket two days ago? I don't know, but I was pleasantly surprised in both cases. Determined, I gripped the Lego, and I scraped that ice right off my windshield.

Lesson #1: Legos are great ice scrapers.

But that's not all. We keep the bathroom doors that connect Ben and our room closed because Benjamin is fond of putting his hand in the toilet bowl and then sucking his thumb. Also, we keep the toothbrushes in the bathroom, and Ben is obsessed with toothbrushes, and if he spots one he can't have, he turns red and waves his arms and cries. For these reasons and more, we generally try to keep him out of the bathroom. However, Benjamin can open the doors now, so we keep the bathroom doors locked as well. You can undo the lock from the outside with a coin, but I never have coins in my pocket. The other day, I really had to go, and I couldn't get the damn door open with my fingernail. I spotted a small red Lego in Ben's toy bin, and seconds later, I was washing my hands in the bathroom sink, satisfied.

Lesson #2: Legos are keys to happiness.

The following is the most dramatic use of a Lego, the use that prompted me to spend valuable time discussing this topic. Our toilet is messed up. It's run since the day we moved here. I think it's old, but I don't know. I tried to fix that whole bulb and whatever mechanism, but it didn't work. But this morning, I flushed, and that tank, it kept on filling. I pulled off the lid, and the water level was threatening to overflow. I needed to wedge something in between the metal arm thing and the water thing. Lo and behold, I caught a Lego in my periphery. I stuck that Lego in there, giving myself valuable minutes in which to fashion a more permanent solution out of aluminum foil. The toilet stopped running, which has never happened before, all thanks to my underestimated friend, the Lego.

Lesson #3, the lesson that will blow you away: Legos will save you from calling the plumber.

I loves me my Legos.