Friday, September 25, 2009

Control Issues + Nostalgia = Weird Post

I love office supplies.  Is that weird?  There's something that makes it all feel like a fresh start is so possible, like the potential of a new season or a new undertaking is within reach, even just at your fingertips.  It's one of the things that I like about Back To School Season... even more so than New Year's Eve or my birthday, I feel like a whole world of possibilities and accomplishments are within reach.  All I need is the exact right calendar.  Or the exact right notebook.  Or the exact right desk organizer.  Yeah, the reality is that it usually ends up as unnecessary.  The exact right calendar has turned out to be my phone (lovin' my Palm Centro for that one). 

And the exact right notebook right now is either the Memo section of said phone, or the long skinny notebook that I picked up for $1 at a now-forgotten stop on Road Trip 2009 that has this on the cover:

And desk organizers don't work for the Urbans.  Piles of My Stuff and His Stuff work better.  Don't touch the pile that isn't yours, and domestic peace will reign.

But I did like shopping for notebooks and such that I need for Urban Kid 1's school stuff for the year.  And I used to like that during school for myself.  Elementary school, junior high, high school, college, back-to-college, teaching.....  loved shopping for school supplies.

And tonight, I learned that the good people at Mead have re-launched this.

I'm a child of the 80's.  And frankly, said childhood was a bit weird.  Maybe even a lot, depending on who I'm standing next to.  (compared to U-Dad, I lived a life of stability and sunshine comparable only to an old black and white family sitcom... hence our thick filters around the Urban Kids)

But this.

What is it about this that glosses over so many memories?  The fact that I could control so little, but dammit, I could control this much?  I could control the outcome of one freakin' thing?

I suppose shrinks -- or preferably my long-time friends -- would have a few thoughts on the topic.  But of all the school supplies that I ever loved, I loved my Trapper Keeper!

And now, it's back!

I don't need one.  I'm all set on my organizational system for this school year.

I've always been a bit suspicious of nostalgia.  For example, I've happily passed on two high school reunions so far. 

But still.... Maybe I need to stop into a Staples or Office Depot just to ... y'know ... look at it.  No harm in just looking at it, right?

(Y'suppose I need to get out more?)

Friday, September 18, 2009

12-Point Font for that?

I first took typing in the 7th grade at Kirby Junior High School in St. Louis.  I took to it immediately and banged out perfect papers.  And "bang them out" is pretty much how it happened, as we all sat in a room (unairconditioned, at that... gawd, i'm old) full of mechanical typewriters.

I remember my maternal grandmother saying, in her slow Southern Illinois drawl, "welllll, that's niiice.  That way you knooow you'll allwaaaays haaave a job."  This was followed by a nod that I'm sure was meant to be reassuring, God rest her sweet soul.

In my youthful arrogance, I thought, "pfffft!  Lady, I'm going far!  I'll have people for that!"

And being a lightening-fast typist has served me well in life.  I flew through getting papers done in high school.  Well, okay -- having a mom who worked at what was then McDonnell Douglas and asking her to transform my hand-scrawled notes into beautiful reports sometimes helped too.  And in college, I earned a few extra bucks typing up other folks' hand-scrawled notes.

I can also spell, and bad grammar makes my skin crawl.

You get the picture.

As I worked my way through college in the TV Production field, being able to type quickly and accurately made me helpful and handy when typing in names, titles, stock prices, pledge numbers, what-have-you at various TV stations around Peoria.  And these minimum-wage jobs (this was when it was a whopping $4.25/hr -- gawd, i'm old) kept me motivated to look for my first "real" job.  The one where I would "have people for that."

Want to guess what my first "real" job was?  The first one that brought me to the glamorous world of downtown Chicago? 

Typing scripts.

But one thing led to another.  And from that crappy --yet air-conditioned -- job came a slightly less crappy job.  And then a bit of a better one.  And then I got to try doing that project.  They let me use a phone to book talent, even a studio.  I got to produce a few things.  I got to feel mildly important inside of a strange microcosm that gives itself lots of rewards for selling deoderant, beer, diapers, prescription drugs, etc.

So what's your point, Val?

When I was in this microcosm, I met a cute guy down the hall.  And he worked in a Chicago Public School.  As a result, he did not have handy access to a computer at the time.  He had graduated from college years before.  He could peck his way around a keyboard, but it took forever.  He couldn't spell his way out of a paper bag (ironic for an English teacher, eh?).  His tests were hand-written -- the horror!

So what did I do after a few dates with the cute guy down the hall?  I invited him downtown after school so that I could type up his tests for him on my shiny corporate computer in my Stuart Little-sized cubicle.  He could take me out for a bite as thanks.  What's not romantic about that? (eye roll)

Seriously, Val.  The point already? Any point at all will do.

The point is that it is now about fourteen years later (gawd, i'm old).  And I am still typing to earn my keep!  (ok, it's only one of about 100 things i do, and it pales next to the 1,000 things he does).

Urban Dad informed me that recommendation letter season has started -- he has AP Juniors, so they come back as Seniors and ask for recco's for the college apps.  And bless his big heart if he doesn't use a form letter, but writes one out for each and every sweet darling.

And he has two tests to get together.

And I think some other stuff.

So you see, folks?  My grandmother is laughing her butt off at my arrogant dumb self!  And that's okay, 'cause I kind of am too.

See you after the weekend!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Glimpse Into The Mind of Urban Mom

Ok, ok.  This whole blog is meant to give you a glimpse into the machinations of my thought process.  But I thought that this particular post might give you an idea of where I come from, of my roots, yes, of my relationship with the Pink Power Ranger.

You see, PPR & I have nothing in common.  We have always had utterly different lives.  I was a straight-A, club-involved Varsity athlete in high school, she wore a black leather jacket and walked from the front door of the school straight to the back door; I live in the city of Chicago, she lives in the far-flung suburbs of St. Louis; I went from corporate drone to high school teacher to homeschool mom, she straps on Kevlar, packs heat and goes into situations that we regular folks would run the hell away from; I'm married with two kids, she sleeps late and does whatever the hell she wants with her own money.

You get the idea.

However, we also have everything in common.  While we are complete polar opposites, we have some "interesting" characters in common and the unusual common history of our goofy family (and let's just add that she and I share the same feelings regarding Her Husband).  She and I share a sense of humor that might be called, well..... dark.  Urban Dad does not share this sense of humor, so I don't get to show that side too much at home.  But you can imagine how PPR hones hers during the course of her work week.

Here's our idea of humor:

This exchange took place while I was visiting Best Namma Ever! and using her computer late one evening.  Keep in mind that until this moment, I saw the Skype icon on her desktop, but didn't really understand what it is until I heard a *ding* and saw PPR's note.  This is my first-ever Skype conversation!

[10:34:58 PM] PPR: Hi Mommy!

[10:35:45 PM] Me (pretending to be BNE!): Hi Sweetie, how are you?

[10:36:57 PM] PPR: Just fine. Tired. Ran a LOT of errands today. Going to paint my bedroom tomorrow.

[10:37:12 PM] PPR: Will still be there by 3 though ;)   

[10:37:14 PM] Me (pretending to be BNE!): What color?

[10:37:23 PM]  Me (still pretending t be BNE!): Don't be late.

[10:37:42 PM]  PPR: An earthtone beige with a hint of yellow. I can bring you a swatch of it.

[10:38:09 PM]  Me (continuing to pretend to be BNE!): Would love to see it. By the way, I have to tell you something important.

[10:38:23 PM]  PPR: What

[10:38:32 PM] PPR: No one can see this but me.

[10:38:35 PM] Me (just eating up this delicious moment): Valerie is my favorite.

[10:38:48 PM]  Me (giggling my hiney off like a 12yo): BWAAAAA HAAAA HAAA HAAAAAA

[10:38:58 PM]  PPR: I already knew that. You make it quite obvious.

[10:39:48 PM]  PPR: I got kicked out onto the mean streets to fend for myself when I was only ten.

[10:40:16 PM]  Me (only kinda being BNE! now): Ten? Gee, I must've been really drunk. I thought you were twelve.
{note to reader: it's ok; BNE! is not and has never been a drunk}

[10:40:23 PM] PPR: I had to walk to school in blizzards and you drove by slowly with Valerie-waving and smiling.

[10:41:08 PM] PPR: It's okay. Now I carry a gun and I am perfecting my knowledge of crime scene staging.

[10:41:19 PM] PPR: Bwaaaa haaaa haaaa haaaa

[10:41:45 PM] Me: You can be late tomorrow.

[10:42:38 PM]  PPR: I thought so. Wench.

[10:42:57 PM]  PPR: Heee heee

[10:43:38 PM] Me: Heeee heeee back atcha.

[10:43:42 PM]  Me (as BNE!): Nighty night!

[10:43:51 PM]  Me (as BNE!): "mommy" is sleepy

[10:44:32 PM]   PPR:  Go sleep it off. See you tomorrow. Try to keep the pain killers and liquor in their respective bottles and out of your tummy.

[10:45:20 PM]  Me (as BNE!): but the dreams are so much better if i mix them. i dream that i'm single....

Ok, maybe PPR and I are the only ones that get it and find it funny.  Maybe it was a "you had to be there" kind of moment.  And maybe "you had to be there" moments that happen in cyber-space are that much harder to translate to other people later.

But I'll confess that I'm strangely looking forward to using my mom's computer again on my next visit!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Good Time Was Had By All

Well, Urban Kid 1's sixth (SIXTH!!!) birthday has come and gone.  And I think that we've convinced our little Ski Trip Souveneir that she did actually have a birthday party.  Actually, it was more of a Birthday Weekend.  And judging by her behavior today, well, let's just say that re-entry to regular life can be a real b*itch.

But on to the good stuff!

On Thursday, we did the bare minimum of school.  It was a drop-dead-beautiful day outside, plus her birthday.  So when asking her to do anything at all, it was "but it's my birthday!"  And frankly, I could see her six (SIX!!!) year old logic.  So we knocked out a reading lesson, just enough math to say that we did some and a spelling test (100%, thankyouverymuch).  Then it was out into the beckoning sunshine to go for a walk and eventually, oh-so-coincidentally, happen by the nail salon, where U-Kid 1 scored a mani-/pedi- and her mom who her gave her life treated herself to a pedi.

A few hours later, Best Namma Ever! and Her Husband (who insisted on tagging along in order to feel wanted relevant included) arrived.  After meeting and greeting and oooo-ing and ahhhh-ing, we all piled into the UrbanMobile and went to Spanish class.  BNE! took U-Kid 2 to her Moms and Tots class, U-Kid 1 ran off to hers, and HH and I walked and shopped a bit.  At the end of Spanish, I brought in balloons so that U-Kid 1 could pass them out to her classmates.  Thank Gawd we brought extras, thus curing any possible tears from younger siblings right then and there.
I dropped off BNE!, HH and U-Kid 2, picked up Urban Dad and taxi'd U-Dad and U-Kid 1 downtown for what seems to be their annual Birthday Date.  I dropped them off at the Sears Willis Tower and picked my way through traffic, grateful that U-Kid 1 has such a wonderfully attentive daddy (my sister, the Pink Power Ranger, was stood up on her sixth birthday by our bio-dad).
On Friday, while BNE! took U-Kid 2 to Art Class, HH, U-Kid 1 and I went to our local Caribou Coffee and walked a couple of coffee canteens to our local police station.  HH managed to do minimal Embarrassment Damage, U-Kid 1 charmed one of the officers out of a very cool Junior Officer badge and I was happy to see that someone had already brought them a huge tray of bagels and cream cheese.  And I was heartened at how sincerely they said, "you tell your sister to stay safe" as we said good-bye.
On Saturday, it was party time!  U-Kid 1 awoke with "how long til 1:00?"  Followed by, "how long now?"  and "how about now?"  Finally, her three friends arrived and we were off.  We loaded them into a cab (a minivan cab actually happened onto us -- hooraaaay!) and took them to North Michigan Ave for a horse-drawn carriage ride around the city.  Four little girls, two adults, two cameras being passed around, lots of tourists to wave at and an astoundingly beautiful day!  As we passed by the Park Hyatt, we saw a crowd waiting outside.  Seems that they were waiting for this guy to come out:
U-Dad knows me well enough to have immediately and directly instructed me to stay put.  *sigh*
After a lovely ride, we loaded into two cabs (no luck with a minivan this time) and headed back to our neighborhood candy store, where we loaded the young ladies with cake and passed out princess cake toppings, balloons and goody bags.
U-Kid 1 is convinced she had a party.  We are convinced that we didn't have to shell out $500.  BNE! continues to be convinced that her grandkids are the most beautiful little girls ever born.  U-Kid 2 is convinced that we are fascinated with her every trip to the bathroom.  HH is convinced that we enjoyed his company.  And I am convinced that I have not aged a single day in the last six (SIX!!!) years.

Yep. A good time was, indeed, had by all.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Happy 6th Birthday, Urban Kid 1

So much to tell about your arrival, but no time.  As ever, I'm up too late.  And as ever, I'm behind on blogging.  But know that you turned my world upside-down in the best possible way and made me learn things about myself that I might otherwise never have.  And you drive me absolutely nuts sometimes, but hey, that particular thing kept me interested in Urban Dad while we were dating, too. 
Urban Kid 1 @ 3 months old
I hope that I've served you well enough, so far.  I hope that God still is ok with his decision to send you to me.  And I hope that you'll be kind if you write a book someday.
Forever yours,
Urban Mom
PS: My behind-on-blogging will continue for a few more days, as Best Namma Ever! and Her Husband arrive today for the weekend.
PPS:  Try to take some coffee or cookies or something to your local firehouse or police station on Friday, if you're so inclined?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Day of... Something

Urban Dad Returns to Great Big Urban High School tomorrow morning.  No more looking at the clock three times before finally deciding that 8:30a is plenty late, and we should get moving.  No more curling up to him before he gets up.  No more of seeing the hot guy at the gym splayed across an exercise ball getting a thorough core stretch and thinking, "well thank YOU" only to realize, "hey wait, he's MINE!"  The road trip for the year is over.  The bigger projects are done.  It's time to give him back to his students.


The Urban Kids & I will call tomorrow our first day of school.  Well, sort of.  Urban Kid 1 & I started dabbling through history a few weeks ago -- nothing formal, just sort of figuring out the routine -- and are in Ancient Egypt right now.  The Chicago Field Museum has a permanent exhibit called Inside Ancient Egypt.  Real mummies, a mock village set up, a free tour at 1p.  Oh, and tomorrow is a free day!  So I figure that rationalizes driving and paying for parking (Urban Kid 2 can still be a bit of a wild card; when it's time to leave, it's time to leave.)

Spanish & Piano classes also start this week.


But I've nothing to complain about.  It really has been a wonderful summer!

Now let's see what we can work up for the rest of the year.