Tuesday, September 30, 2008

not exactly a normal day in the life

My son saws away at Old MacDonald on his new school viola. Madeleine interrupts her reading to tell me about the new “book groups” in her class, and how she chose which book to read but she will probably finish the book TONIGHT. What do book groups DO? She and I talk about taking notes and writing down questions as you read: she’s ready to be a grad student, too. The dishwasher is filled after a dinner for three, grilled tenderloin and asparagus, red peppers and potatoes. I wish we ate so well every day—good to have a break from the rains, so we can cook outdoors again. I ignore the beach gear, still stacked to one side of the porch, poor lonely toys.

Brownies bake too slowly—my kids’ dessert project now seems a worry, since the oven does not seem to be working. Whether or not we eat them with a spoon, the scent is… just like baking brownies, very, very good. The autumn air smells almost as good, through the open windows.

Today is a normal writing day in my student life, meaning I type out quotes from my library books and erase the pencil markings, revise my book-annotations, assess where I am in the reading and writing assignments. I do my magazine work for just a few minutes—the past week has been hellish, responding to political blasts from readers, but today seems relatively tame. I make several fresh attempts at writing an essay on election years and existential nausea. I do the thing I rarely do—rip out the meandering attempts and shred them into the recycling. The thoughts still need to churn awhile.

Then I get an email asking me to cover a women’s conference in New York, for a magazine, to blog about my experiences while I’m sitting in on the conference. The speakers include movers and shakers in the world, coaching on life choices, career choices, vision. My only worry: what will I WEAR?

Madeleine now recites the creation narrative of India in Sanskrit, “in the beginning there was neither existent nor non-existent.” Brendan moves into bath time, singing a song about Saint Mi-cha-el, hero of the brave. Madeleine moves her Sanskrit to the oven door to check the now-incalculable brownies.

You know me: full-time student, part-time slacker mom, typing while my children settle into evening. Scott arrives home late, and I stop to talk him through his late dinner, which he must grill himself. Slacker-wife. Celebrity blogger. Grad student who just finished one volume of Proust. Fashion plate, ready to be photographed… NOT. My curls peek out of an up-do this evening, pulled aside earlier in the day. Lipstick long worn-off. Let’s see, must buy a smidge of mascara and a new lipstick, must do that hand-washing, must ignore the beach-gear for other callings. Must think how to pack.

… and what to take, to read while I travel next week. Playdates to organize, Sunday school to teach, and I really, really need to get in a walk or two while the weather is still good. Tomorrow.

A good day, though, today. The brownies finally harden up, and they taste just fine, served warm with milk. Madeleine writes me a letter in code. Brendan tries to sing while brushing his teeth. No one wants the day to end except maybe me. My daughter’s note, Dear Mom, I am fine. How are you? I quickly write back in code, I am ready to sleep. She takes the pencil and writes, I am, too, followed by an exclamation point. I am, too.

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