This Week’s Column

Funky old town…here is what is supposed to be published in the Sun this week. Sappy but gettin real witcha.

Stuff and Nonsense

I started out having one of those days today where one of the kids is sick, there’s no more milk, the half-and-half we just bought expires today, and, ridiculously, I sliced my knuckle open while getting out of the car by brushing against the CDs I have stored on my sun visor. Duh.

Now I have this annoying cut on my finger that stings when I bend it, which is constantly, and will hurt like billy-o when I slice a tomato ora lemon tonight for dinner. But these are small problems to have, and if one is going to have a problem, by all means let it be a small one. A scratch on my finger, woe is I.

I am just back from an Easter visit to New York where I stayed with my eldest daughter Mia in her teeny-tiny apartment in Harlem. My youngestdaughter came along, and we were a trio, one on the floor, one on the little love seat and I (lucky me!) in the twin bed. The apartment is about as big as your average tract-home bedroom — about 12 feet square,with a tiny bathroom, half-of-a-half of a closet and a kitchen about four feet wide.

There are two windows that look onto a dismal gray wall and unless rain or snow are actually falling, you have to crane and squint to see if there are bars of sunlight way up above.The rigors of three people using said tiny bathroom soon proved too much, and we spent three of our precious mornings awaiting the Super to arrive with his magical plumber’s helper.

It was no worry to my youngest, who was happily settled in watching Sex in the City on DVD. She enjoyed that so much that she, indeed, preferred watching the series to actually going outdoors.When I pointed out that we were, in fact, in that same city, that very city on the television, her response was the certain look that only teenagers can really do with aplomb: a withering, scornful flick of the eyes, a quirk at the corner of her mouth, a slight but disdainful sniff. Yes, it is true: I am the stupidest cow on the face of the earth, and my constant chatter is more than annoying.

Well, nothing new in the land of teenagers. It wasn’t so long ago that my eldest was trying to put me in my place. I remember a particularly special afternoon, when she, a 14-year-old with the world at her feet, told me, “Mom, you have to let me do what I want, because my life isjust beginning and your life is over.” I was 36. Yeah, ouch.

It’s OK — I’ve had my little revenge. Without even seeming to notice the influence, she has been reading Jane Austen and drinking tea and has recently taken up cross-stitch. What more could a cross-stitching, tea-drinking, Jane Austen-loving fool want? And there she is, a smart,savvy single in Manhattan, living very happily in her little studio, auditioning for Broadway shows, losing her California accent and learning how to cry on command in acting class. She’s living a dream, not mine, but hers.

Not quite Sex in the City, but Mia Takes Manhattan, maybe.

There are days where the wind blows here in Alameda, where the bills start avalanching from the desk. Laundry makes mountain ranges on the floor, and we seem to be collecting critters in the back room: the cat, the guppy swarm, a lizard, and two nocturnal hamsters with vigorous exercise schedules who are having an extended spa vacation with us while their mommy sells her house. The morning rounds of cat food, nuts and seeds, live cricket and fish flakes, plus breakfast and lunches for six humans, makes for a brisk start to the day. (Luckily I have tea to sustain me.)

There are moments when I can feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of urgent stuff to do, of people or creatures who need or want right now, of projects due yesterday. And there are moments when I go shut my door and close my eyes and take deep breaths and make myself feel grateful. I look around and have to admit that I have everything I’ve every wanted (except for that blockbuster novel, but it’s coming).

Gratitude is a good thing to feel. And when you’re living your dream, then a carton of expired milk or a scratch on your finger doesn’t seem so bad.

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