Sunday, August 17, 2008

I spent the weekend in Brooklyn with my sister and her family. On Saturday I went to the Louise Bourgeois show in the Guggenheim, which was incredible, then I walked down to meet up with my sister (S) and my niece (T) at this amusement park place at Woolman Rink. They were there as part of a birthday party (a friend of T's was turning 5) and had unlimited ride wristbands. T was in hog heaven. All of the rides were tailor-made for younger kids and she was loving it, the giant rotating swings being her favorite. But alas, eventually is was time to go home. She was so bereft that we had to carry her out. (And I don't mean "carry her out to our car" — I mean carry her several blocks to the subway station, and then once we got to our stop, carrying her several more blocks.) She cried and cried, inconsolable. "I don't want to go home!" she'd sob. "I want to stay here!" S bought her a hotdog and an apple juice, but it didn't stanch the tearflow. During my turn at carrying her, I tried to distract her by coming up with silly names for the stuffed lizard she (sort of) won at whack-a-mole. "How about Slithery? How about BlueToes? How about Fred? How about Bugeater McLongtongue?" She said no to each one, but at least she wasn't crying... It took being completely absorbed in a sticker-related activity book on the subway to make her stop. She was totally wiped out, of course; with all of the rides she went on, she's probably never spent that much adrenaline before in her life.

The next day, we were supposed to go to the Riis Beach in Queens, and after a cranky morning and an early afternoon nap for T, it was about time to go. But she did not want to go. She wanted to lie on the sofa and stare at the ceiling, instead. Every strategy we tried, failed. "But I came down here just to go have fun at the beach with you," I said. "Remember how much fun we had when we went to the beach a few weeks ago?" S said. "I want to stay here," T said. "You know, there's no TV if you stay home," S said. "And I'm going to go home too, if we're not going to the beach, since that's the only reason I'm still here," I said. "That's OK," she said. "If you don't go, I'm going to be very sad. Very sad, and very angry," said S. "That's OK, mommy," she said. We demanded she give a reason for her reluctance, and she finally said that she was scared of the waves, or something, and we assured her we'd hold on tightly to her hands. Nothing doing, she still wanted to stay here. Then, over her horizontal body, me and S and my brother-in-law talked about forcing her to go. We knew she would love it once she got there, but would it be worth it? Or she could stay home and be bored, but we would be respecting her wishes. Hmm... Finally, T said, wearily and with disdain, "Alright, alright! I'll go."
From then on it was smooth sailing. We got her suited up and slathered with sunscreen, we drove to the beach, we frolicked in the dead-jellyfish-laden waves, we built a sand castle. On the way to the car she started getting very sad; not crying, but melancholy. On the drive home, she said, with sorrow, "I don't want to go home."
S: Why not, honey?
T: I just don't want to go home. I didn't want to go to the beach because I didn't want to go home.
S: What is it about home you don't like? If you tell me, maybe I can do something about it.
T: Well, I guess because it's not the beach.
S: It is really sad to have to leave a place you really like. Everyone feels sad when a fun time is over. But it's worth it to go and do the fun things, even if you feel a little sad after. Otherwise you'd just stay home and be bored all the time.
T: I guess.
S: Is there anything we can do to make going home better for you?
T: I wish our home could be like the beach.
S: How could we do that?
T: Well... We could get a bunch of sand, and put it on the floor. And then we could put a pool in the middle.
S: That's true, though sand is kind of messy. Plus, cats really like to pee and poop in sand, so it could get gross.
T: We could just build a wall around the sand so the cats can't get in.
We drove on in silence for a while, then S said to me, "I think T got the same kinds of strong emotions that we had as kids." "Yes, I know," I said. And I felt sad.

Monday, August 11, 2008

[You get a two-fer today.] CJ and I have been mattress shopping, my four-year-old "premium" full-size futon not being good enough for Mr. Princessandthepea, Sir Yes-I-have-to-sleep-with-my-head-leaning-on-my-arm-so-we-need-a-mattress-indescribably-
soft-in-order-for-my-arm-to-not go-numb-instein. I have only ever bought futons -- in fact, I've been sleeping on a futon since high school (excepting four years of vinyl-covered Hampshire-supplied mattresses). At the futon store, you try the various kinds, of which there are maybe 8, and the prices are marked, and you pay what the sign says. You can see that I had no idea what I was getting into when I walked into a regular mattress store last Sunday and had a salesman immediately attach himself to my (and CJ's) hip. We were ushered immediately to an air-bladder-filled mattress that measured our bodies and told us what level of firmness we would like best. He took us to various options, taking into account all of our desires as to price, lack of "partner disturbance" (i.e. bounciness), and of course the firmness. When we laid down on a mattress for a few minutes of testing, he would gracefully find something to do at the other end of the store. When we decided we liked a particular mattress, he suddenly remembered that, wait a minute, wasn't this model on sale at another store? Because they can use the coupon codes from any store, you know. He "called the other store" and indeed, the mattress was half off! But we still didn't like it enough to buy it right then, and we wanted to try another store. Somehow, through some kind of sleight of hand, we ended up at his computer terminal, giving him our names, my phone number and address, along with the name and model of the mattress, just to help us when we came back later, you know. I told him I didn't want anyone to actually call me, and he said that was fine, he'd make a note not to call. "Please give us a chance, guys, I think you'll like what {store name} can do for you," he said to our fleeing backs as we made our escape.

We went to the other store, a higher-end place that sold other furniture (which somehow translates into a no-haggling situation), and tried a couple of mattresses we really liked, but that were quite spendy. A couple days later, we decided to drop by the first store again to do some comparing. A different salesguy was there, though he remembered seeing us that Sunday. CJ and I had changed our criteria and were trying some latex, non-spring numbers. The salesguy was, again, very helpful and attentive. But again, we weren't ready to buy without more thought, even though he said that this mattress was part of a special promotion in which we could pick out a free pillow, even after he "checked" with someone unseen and found out that we could actually get THREE free pillows, and even after, once we told him we were going to leave, he said "Is there anything I can do to get you to buy a mattress today?" We had to say no.

I got a call on my cell phone at work on Wednesday from, hey wouldyalookitthat, the mattress store! It was some woman, a "regional manager" who "just wanted me to know" that the mattress we had been looking at was now an additional $100 off, but just for the next 11 hours! I had to break it to her that we had moved on from that particular model, and I couldn't remember the name of the new one we liked, so she had no way of making up some sale that would entice me further.

Even after all of that, we decided that the cozy, all-natural mattress at the furniture store was not $1,000 more comfortable than the one at the big mattress store. So we came back on Sunday (yesterday) to find our original salesguy, who did not offer any free pillows, but who knocked $200 off the price when we asked him what he could do for us, and then 10% on top of that (because of the proximity to tax-free weekend; don't ask), and then let CJ buy a fancy pillow at cost. Despite my amusement/uneasiness with dealing with salesguys on commission, we are very much looking forward to our new sleeping experience. And now that I know my memory-foam-topped Talalay latex baby is coming in a week, my futon feels like granite.
Tonight, somehow, I got railroaded into being the chairman of a committee for which I am not even yet a member -- I have not even attended a single meeting of this committee. It wasn't that the other people really liked me, just that they were quicker with the "I offer to be the clerk!" I'd like to be a member at large!" until there was nothing left but the top positions. I came into the meeting not even sure I wanted to be a part of it at all -- lately I've been wanting to use my precious free time to make art again, finally, and I don't relish giving more of it up to benefit others. Selfish, sure, but damn -- I work 40-plus hours at work a week already, at a job that is not stress-free. Being chairman means I will need to, shall we say, "work on my patience," as several of the members are retired and find the meetings a social occasion. Tonight's meeting had one item on the agenda and it took two hours. TWO. So yes, more patience will have to be spent, and I usually spend most of my reserves at work, so I don't know where all of this extra will come from. I'll probably end up snapping bitchily at those closest to me, so look out, CJ.

I would like to organize my life so that I am spending time on things that are most important to me, not things that would be nice to do but are not essential. Instead, well, just call me madame chairwoman. Sigh. Perhaps I will cultivate a power-hungry dictator-like persona, and then nobody will ever ask me to lead anything again! (In reality, I will probably do a fairly good job, and will try hard to delegate as much as I can, which may not endear me to anyone, but so what.)