I need to write a post about this summer. A lot has happened, and Baguette has done some great things. We’ll get to that.
For now, here’s what we’re focused on:
You know how some people have a junk drawer? For the past several years, we’ve had a junk room.
That wasn’t the plan. It was supposed to be my office, for the freelancing business I was going to have on the side. But that’s not now things turned out.
To begin with, I don’t freelance. I have a business license and no business, which means that every year I get to tell the City of Los Angeles that I am happy to pay them a percentage of $0. Add to that the fact that we have no time and no energy, and that means that on the rare occasions that we clean up, we wind up making stacks of things and then saying, “Just put that in the office.”
What that meant was that we had a room so full of stuff that we wouldn’t let Baguette go in there. We went in as little as possible, and then felt guilty just looking at the closed door. Our house is not that big, which means that removing a room from use drastically reduces our available space.
So last week, Mr. Sandwich and I took two days off of work. We sorted and threw out and recycled. We made a trip a day to Goodwill. And, based on a tip from a co-worker, we made multiple trips to Office Depot to deposit papers in the locked shredding bins that will be disposed of by Iron Mountain.
We pushed on through the weekend, and are continuing throughout the house. But this room was by far the worst, and that meant it was the place to start. So what did that process look like?
We’re exhausted. But we feel much better.
4) The year I went to Battery Point to see the Tall Ships. I think I may have spent the day alone, with the exception of the homeless woman for whom I bought breakfast, but it was a really nice day. Hot, mind you. But the ships were worth the heat and humidity.
3) Manhattan rooftop parties. A friend from college and I started out at a party on a balcony overlooking the Roosevelt Island tramway. You know, the one Spider-Man rescues Mary Jane Watson from in the first Tobey Maguire movie. Then we went to an actual rooftop to see fireworks over the East River. The only problem? We couldn’t see the fireworks. Between the humidity and the smoke, there very quickly was no visibility. All we could see was a colorful glow through the fog or smog or vog or whatever it was. Booms and red-glowing mist? It was like watching a psychedelic war zone.
2) Grilling. I lived in Austin, and my parents lived in San Antonio. This particular Fourth, they were on a cruise. So my brother, who was house-sitting, and his best friend decided to have a cookout. I decided to join them, because the air conditioning in my apartment was nominal at best. It was a Thursday, which meant I worked Friday–so I drove down Thursday morning, helped get ready for dinner–the guys grilled everything but the fries–watched area fireworks from the upstairs window, and drove back up to Austin before work the next morning. Nothing had changed about my air conditioning, so that evening I drove back to San Antonio and spent the weekend indoors.
1) Pop goes the question! Mr. Sandwich and I were long-distance for all three years that we dated, with him in Los Angeles and me in New Jersey. There were a lot of plane flights back and forth, which meant a lot of frequent flier miles. I planned a trip out and discovered that I had enough miles for a business class seat–which definitely beat paying for coach. What beat the business class seat? It turned out that this was the weekend Mr. Sandwich had chosen to propose. I inadvertently ruined his plans, I said yes, we went to celebrate with friends, one of my bridesmaids took me to try on wedding gowns at a shop FAR outside my budget, and in the airport on the way back, I realized that all of those wedding magazines now applied to me. Flying business class did not even come close. I really don’t see what could.
This is Baguette’s first year in school, which means that we just had her first Spring Break. No, we did not take her to Mazatlan or South Padre Island or the Bahamas.
We went to Mammoth with some friends! There, we got to enjoy the cold weather.
And we also got to be cozy.
But why stop there? Why, indeed. Because this is possible in California–and because Mr. Sandwich had signed up for a half-Ironman triathlon–ten or so days later, we also went to Oceanside and Carlsbad.
Mr. Sandwich drove down early for registration, and Baguette and I took the train. She’s enjoying our train trips.
She also enjoyed the beach, as she always does.
And we got to cheer on our racer of choice!
Places to eat in Mammoth
Burgers (amazing patty melt)
CJ’s Grill (splurgy, but some of the best fish and chips I’ve had)
Looney Bean Coffee Coffee!
Shea Schats Bakery (the roast beef sandwich is basically a slab of prime rib with bread and condiments)
Erick Schat’s Bakkery–Bishop (the lemon blueberry shortbread bites are amazing)
Today, Baguette’s Daisy troop had an outing to a UCLA Gymnastics meet. I’ve been thinking about taking her to see a gymnastics meet, so this seemed like a great opportunity. She’d get to see some of her friends and have a new adventure.
We made it through the warmup, and Baguette was done. There were two factors.
First, she didn’t want to sit in the stands. She wanted to go down onto the floor with the college teams, because clearly they were doing something active and fun, while she was just sitting there.
Second, apparently now every athletic competition is a concert. My gymnastics viewing is pretty much limited to the Olympics, during which I can hear the equipment flex at moments of impact. But from well up in the stands in UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, we got an overwhelming combination of music, announcements, cheers, and more. As we learned later, it was a bit much for the neurotypical girls, too.
So we left our seats and walked around the concourse for a bit, to see if we could cajole her back in once the actual meet got underway. Turns out? We could not.
Fortunately, we had a Plan B: UCLA.
Baguette loves the campus. We’ve taken her there any number of times over the years, and she runs around it like she owns the entire place. She seems to be learning her way around; often, it’s clear that she knows where she wants to go and how to get there, and we just follow her lead.
So we did that. We went up staircases and down walks and through buildings and plazas. We watched the marine layer come in, bringing the fog ever closer from the west, even though the campus itself was still bright and sunny. And after a couple of hours, she asked to go for a ride in the car.
It was a great afternoon. Maybe not the one we expected, but great nonetheless.
It was what worked, and it worked well.
When we first met Butch and Sundance, they were named Bert and Ernie. Those weren’t their original names–not that anyone is aware of, anyhow–but that’s what the shelter had named them.
They’re fine names. But as far as Baguette is concerned, those names are taken (even if she doesn’t have a lot of time for Ernie).
The dogs were definitely a pair, and they needed names that reflected that. So on our way home from our first time meeting them at the shelter, we started a list. What was on it?
Strunk & White
Romulus & Remus
Butch & Sundance
Briggs & Stratton
Pratt & Whitney
Tango & Cash
Rocky & Apollo
Castor & Pollux
Teddy & Franklin
Standard & Poor
Asterix & Obelix
Traipse & Gallivant
Serenity & Firefly
Jayne & Mal
Spock & Bones
Han & Chewie
Proctor & Gamble
Holmes & Watson
Plunket & Macleane
Flotsam & Jetsam
Felix & Oscar
Troy & Abed
Jake & Elroy
Watson & Crick
Bass & Treble
P.B. & Jay
Currier & Ives
Coulson & Fury
Hell & High Water
Pomp & Circumstance
Funk & Wagnalls
Banner & Stark
Indy & Sallah
I feel like you can tell a lot about us from this list. But the next morning, I woke up thinking about the names Butch and Sundance. They just seemed right.
So when we went back to the shelter a couple of hours later and met the boys again, we tried out the names–and they just seemed to fit. Apparently the dogs felt so, too, because they were learning their names in just a few days.
Mr. Sandwich: I’m developing legal arguments regarding why Ariel’s contract with Ursula isn’t binding.
Me: Because she’s a minor?
Mr. Sandwich: That, and Ursula keeps employing metaphors that Ariel cannot be expected to understand, like “Rake ’em across the coals.”
Me: When Ariel doesn’t know ‘what’s a fire, and why does it–what’s the word–burn’?
Mr. Sandwich: Yes. And she talks about how “if you want to cross a bridge, my sweet, you’ve got to pay the toll.’ Ariel has no bridges in her life.
Me: This is based on our extensive knowledge of Law & Order. But have you considered maritime law?
Mr. Sandwich: Good point. After all, my Opa did sign a contract and go to sea at age 12.
Baguette has two loose teeth. They’re her top front incisors. This will be interesting.
In the “nothing’s ever easy” category, we’ve just changed Baguette’s aide at school. We thought that having the aide who was with her at day care would be a good transition, and offer some continuity, but it didn’t play out the way we expected. First, it took a month and a half to resolve all of the communication issues between the district and the private agency, so the need for continuity was pretty much gone by the time we were up and running. And then it turned out that there were persistent punctuality issues, and we stopped getting our daily reports (which are kind of important when you have a child who’s not yet able to tell you about her day). The aide had to be out for a week and a half for a family issue (this was valid–we have no issue with the week and a half, just all the rest of the time around it), and that meant we had a sub.
The sub was amazing. As of tomorrow, the sub is the permanent aide. Fingers crossed, and moving forward.
Baguette has a new iPad Air. The old iPad ran out of memory, and there was really nothing to do about that–just because she hasn’t played with an app for a year doesn’t mean she won’t start again in 10 minutes. And the apps were starting to hang up due to the lack of available memory, so the solution we came up with was a new device.
New to her, anyhow. We went with refurbished. We’re not insane.
Los Angeles got rain today! I was really hoping for a solid day of rain, and there were a couple of sunny hours in the afternoon, but I’ll take what I can get.
We took Baguette to the doctor yesterday, to check on a minor concern. While we were there, we decided to get her flu shot–none of us has gotten it so far, because we’ve all been sick through the fall and into the winter, but she’s pretty healthy at the moment.
As always, Baguette screamed a lot about the shot. And this year’s shot is a doozy, so it had an even more extreme effect than usual. She and I waited outside the pharmacy while Mr. Sandwich went in to pick up her prescription. It took about 20 minutes. She was still in pain, and screaming.
People moved in and out of the courtyard where we were waiting. I tried to calm her, offering her distractions, singing to her (that definitely didn’t help), and walking around while holding her. After a while, I noticed a young boy looking at us and smiling.
He said, “Hi. Is it okay if I come over and talk to her?”
I said, “Yes, but she may not talk in return. She doesn’t talk much sometimes.”
He said, “That’s okay,” and came over.
He never lost the smile. He talked to her, and suggested games they could play, and put “pixie dust” on her arm, and let her play with his tablet.
After a couple of minutes, I said, “Do you have a brother or sister with autism? Because you really seem to know what you’re doing.” He answered, “Oh, I just really like little kids.”
Eventually his mother came up, and I introduced myself and told her how helpful her son was being. She said he was in a peer support program at his school, where he helps kids with ADHD and autism. I told her that it showed, because he was really good at it. She said, “I heard your husband mention it in the pharmacy, and my son asked me if he could go talk to your daughter. I said I didn’t know, but apparently he did anyhow.” I smiled and said, “He did ask first!”
Apparently Mr. Sandwich had to endure a long stretch of snarky, irritated, and exaggerated comments from the other adults in the pharmacy, several of whom seemed to feel that 15 minutes is the same as an hour, and that no one was doing anything about the upset child in the courtyard.
But let me tell you, that 12-year-old was a real grown-up.
Your definition of “recently” and mine may not be quite the same. Whatever. It’s my blog, so I get to pick.
Anyhow, here are some books I’ve read, with the occasional thought attached.
The Book of Night Women by Marlon James
This was a hard read, but I’m so glad I read it. Lilith’s story is compelling from the start, and heartbreaking and painful throughout. It’s a powerful illustration of how slavery is brutal and corrupting.
The Martian by Andy Weir
I’m never going to see the movie. I accept that. But I did enjoy the book, even if I wasn’t particularly surprised by how the story developed and played out. But I liked the fact that Mark is a problem-solver. Because he encounters a lot of problems.
Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris
As a tween/teen of the 1980s, I have fond memories of Choose Your Own Adventure books. Clearly, so does Neil Patrick Harris. This was a fun read. Maybe he’s a little too diplomatic. But it’s fun.
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
I don’t like horror, and didn’t really realize that’s what this was until I started reading it. It was an interesting story, and it held my attention, but I didn’t buy the ending. Also, in poking around on Amazon, I realized that I had read another one of the author’s books and didn’t care for it, but I had no memory of her name. Hopefully I’ll remember it going forward.
Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel
I thought Station Eleven was really good (if something I should not have read), but this book didn’t come together for me.
Valley of Ashes by Cornelia Read
I like the Madeline Dare books, even though they get weaker with each entry. This one had a really cliched villain, but if she writes another, I’ll read it.
The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney
“Why are so many recent books set in the 1980s?” asked Mr. Sandwich. “Because it’s recent enough to feel modern, but you don’t have to worry about cell phones,” I answered. I remembered liking The Tenderness of Wolves, and Penney’s next book–which is completely different from its predecessor–is also worth a read.
Tomorrow They Will Kiss by Eduardo Santiago
Santiago has written two books about Cuba and Cubans. I hope he writes more.
Roughing It by Mark Twain
This book is taking me forever to read. I guess maybe that’s fitting.
So that’s about six months worth of books. Clearly I’m off my game. Please leave recommendations in the comments.