Monday, July 7, 2014

A Place More Kind Than Home

My friend Aileen and I have been trading writing exercises as a way to sharpen our dulled writing skills. This week's, chosen by moi, was for us to write a Dear John letter from our favorite piece of furniture.

Please keep in mind that I took poetic license with elements here, so this is merely based on some facts (Sorry, Mom, I'm sure the Barrister wasn't really disappointed to be in your room. And there really haven't been any actual close calls, just many imagined ones that have made me a bit sick to my stomach...).

Dear Hanna,

I loved your grandmother very much even though I was not the center of her life. She brought me in to her home many years ago. I thought I was on my way to displaying valuables or even holding her husband’s important ledgers; however, to my disappointment she put me in your mother’s room where I housed your mother’s and aunt’s doll furniture like some sort of giant dollhouse. I came to accept this as my lot in life; at least I was out of the way of your rowdy uncle’s ever bouncing soccer ball. 

Things began to look up as the children left the nest and your grandparents made the long move to Vermont. They kept me even as they got rid of some of the lesser furniture (I was relieved that some of the coarser elements in the household were sold off. That bookshelf had always leered lasciviously at me from down the hall.)

I had hoped that I would have a more prominent placement in the new home and was thrilled to hear that I would be placed downstairs in the dining room for all to see. I looked forward to holding your grandmother’s beautiful wedding place settings or some of the lovely blue glassware she collected on lamp buying expeditions with your grandfather.

It was sadly not to be, however, as I was placed in the front entry hallway between the dining room and the living room. It took me years to realize the full disappointment of this placement. The family always gathered in the kitchen, and visitors did not come to the front door but to the side door down the hall. The hallway was merely a passageway between two destinations. Only children seemed to linger by my side with all others walking purposefully past without a glance in my direction.

I tried to find the bright side to my situation. I now held exotic, one-of-a-kind dishes and goblets. I had the company of a whole menagerie of animal serving dishes and pitchers-chickens, ducks, moose, a kitten, and even a bunny or two. I was safe from the clumsiest of newly walking grandchildren as they did not usually venture to the uneven slate floor on which I rested. But I could never quite see what was going on in the household-it was always maddeningly just out of reach, around the smallest of corners to my left or right.

I was devastated for your grandmother the day that your grandfather died, and devastated for myself when I discovered that your grandmother had died (I contend that it was of a broken heart), but I held out hope that I would go to one of the grandchildren who would care for me as your grandmother did. I had high hopes when I discovered you had claimed me (though immense trepidation to find how far I would have to travel to get to you). It was a terrifying and very bouncy ride though thankfully your father is a very thorough packer, meticulously wrapping each of my glass doors.

It was a happy few years at the center of your home, as I was able to continue displaying much of your grandmother’s dishes and even continued to have one of my chicken friends keeping me company. Yes, I had to get used to the hustle and bustle again (your house is much louder than your grandparents’ had been for many years), but I have not survived the past 100 years by being entirely inflexible. These old wood slats can still bend a bit.

However, I come to the point of this letter. This past year has required too much from me. There have been too many close calls as you have been distracted with broom and mop handles. There have been too many moments of frozen panic as a chair pushed quickly back from the table has nearly toppled into me, and there have been too many instances of last second snatches of that damnable wooden xylophone mallet from your feral toddler as she headed directly toward my delicate glass doors. (Pardon my language; I must take a moment to collect myself.)

Do you know how many years these curved glass panels have survived? I have not made it this far to see them smashed in a moment of mayhem! And let me point out that nearly every moment in your once quiet household is now filled with mayhem. I cannot live like this. My blood pressure is as elevated as my once exalted status as the best piece of furniture you own. Now, however, instead of being a source of pride, I am merely a liability.

Don’t think that I don’t know you now gaze at my pristine glass with dread. You and I both know that you would have a nearly impossible time trying to replace one of these panels should when your little hellion darling finally destroys me. I can no longer just sit and accept my fate. I am leaving for safer accommodations. I’m sure there’s a racetrack or bowling alley somewhere that requires a trophy case. Lord knows they’ll be quieter than your dining room.

Barrister Bookcase

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I Want Wednesday-Tiny Kid Edition

Here are a few of the things I've had to talk myself out of buying for E this week...

A small collection of magnetic blocks with a carry pouch you can have in your purse...genius!

Talked myself out of it: Only thing happening with these blocks right now would be E eating them...

Tablecloth that doubles as an adorable playhouse...gorgeous!

Talked myself out of it: Only thing happening with this cloth would be her pulling it (and everything on the table) off and across the floor...

Marbleworks set that provided my sisters and me with hours of building and marble racing fun for at least a fact, I kind of want to play with it now even as an adult.

(Why I Should) talk myself out of it: Only thing happening with this is that she would eat ALL the marbles immediately.
(But I really really want it, and I'm having a Discovery Toy party on Friday so I might buy it and store it away for, yes, I know, a very long while.)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Looking for that Painless Dentist

I've run across some clichés lately that have really bugged me. I know you're not supposed to put much stock in clichés, but still they keep getting said for a reason-people seem to really believe they are sharing gems of wisdom. Every time I hear someone say it, I just want to interrupt with these rants.

I hear the statement (said with a sort of pitying condescension to those of us who haven't found one of our own to brag about) that "good relationships are easy." ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Who said this first, one of the Babysitter's Club kids? If not a child, then certainly someone who has watched way too many romantic comedies thinking that they were how-to manuals rather than fiction. That single statement explains in a nutshell why the divorce rate is currently so high. Yes, a good relationship may be easy occasionally, but on the whole, relationships take work. It's clearly up to every person to determine the balance of hard work to laughter in order to determine if a relationship is worth it in the long run, but stating that a good relationship is easy is like saying that a good dentist is painless (and I have had years of painful dental work).

Second, "live every day like it's your last." This one is nuanced, I'll admit. In certain situations, I'll go ahead and give it a pass. (Such as the make sure the impact you leave is a good one because you may only get one chance version of this. The live life to the fullest-ok yeah, who can argue with that? But the whole follow-your-passion-because-this-might-be-your-last-day-thing I really can't get behind.) I'm not here to stomp on your dreams, folks, but the fact is that then this is terrible advice. You're going to wake up tomorrow, kid. You're going to need to pay your electric bills. Yes, if you're miserable in your job, let that be the impetus to find something you'll like better, but remember that even a dream job is a job. Don't let fear keep you from trying new things, but remember that you are not entitled to happiness no matter the cost. Remember, you'll be accountable for your actions tomorrow and the next day. And probably the one after that too.

Well, I feel better.
My judgy face (well, one of them anyway).
This does, actually, occur often while I'm driving.
People, ya'll. On the roads, they are Just. The. Worst.

Monday, May 19, 2014

I'm Soooo Literate, Guys.

Funny Gatsby comics via The Bloggess. (Also, the f-word makes things even more funny. Unless my daughter reads this one which case, the f-word is not classy, Eleanor; don't say it.)

More good ones from Hark, a Vagrant here.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Cross Another One Off the Life List

Got a little busy last year and lost a lot of my blogging inspiration. Just realized today that I never posted evidence of one of my Life List accomplishments: To make my children their first Halloween costume.

Though I only have one child currently, I am justified in crossing this one off the Life List because I'm pretty sure any subsequent children will wear the same costume for their first Halloween because it took forever to make and because it's pretty original. I made it all myself without a pattern. Even her little sweatpants were made using a second hoodie as they did not have any baby sweats in the right color.

Our first family Halloween costume theme: Chicago Hot Dog

Nathan went as our favorite hot dog restaurant worker (Wolfy's), while I went as your typical Chicagoan Hot Dog Eater, and Eleanor was a Grade A, one of a kind, 100% all Vienna Beef Chicago Hot Dog with all the fixings (poppy seed bun, yellow mustard, onions, pickle relish, sport peppers, and a tomato wedge). I even sprinkled her with celery salt for total authenticity.