Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ups and Downs

Up:  David came home from work Friday and reported that a fourth-grade student had told him, in all earnestness, that he looked "elegant."  Possibly my favorite elementary student compliment ever.  He was wearing a gray argyle half-zip sweater over a white button down with khakis, in case you'd like to replicate Mr. Duckworth's elegance at home.  This same student--a little boy--dressed up as Mr. Duckworth for Halloween, sporting a suit and tie.  You can safely assume that David's ego is through the roof.

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Down:  I have one student who aggravates the heck out of me.  Constant pushback on things, wanting to argue about marginal comments on his essays, raising his hand in class to ask questions before I've finished explaining assignments.  I snapped at him today and I regret it.  I wish I could just not lose my cool with him.  I'm not sure what it is about him that drives me crazy.  Perhaps I'm just cranky because no one is telling me that I look elegant?  I only have four weeks left in the semester, and I need to go totally zen when I'm around this kid.

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Up:  Last night I was folding laundry.  I'd carried a basket of sheets and towels upstairs so I was folding them in the family room while Zuzu played.  When I started folding the sheet, I flapped it so it covered her head, then lifted it up again.  This cracked her up, and she grabbed the edge of the sheet to lift it again, and kept wanting to do it over and over.  This resulted in an impromptu game of parachute with the bedsheets, which is what we were doing when David got home.  It was so much fun to have Zuzu instigate a silly game.  It totally made up for the screaming meltdown she had while I was trying to make her a grilled cheese for dinner.

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Down:  I got in a fender-bender on my way home from work on Friday.  Imagine the last place you would like to be in a car accident, because OF COURSE that would be where it happens to me.  How about in the middle lane of a bridge spanning the Mississippi river at 4:30pm on a Friday night?  There you go.

I am not usually so late on Fridays, but I'd stayed on campus for a NaNoWriMo event.  So I was on my way to pick up Zuzu.  Traffic always gets backed up on this one lane as everyone slows for an exit that makes a rather sharp curve.  I had come to a complete stop behind a little orange car when a big black SUV rammed in to the back of me.  I was totally rattled, literally and metaphorically, and as I was on the phone with the police so they could dispatch motorist assist, the a#$hole who hit me FLED THE SCENE.  I didn't get the license number.  There was crying, then my car wouldn't start, then a very nice motorist assist man showed up, then I had to get out of my car in the middle of the bridge and walk to his truck with the traffic speeding by and it was very dramatic.  I sat in the motorist assist truck and watched them hook my car up to a tow truck and had a quick cry and then pulled myself together so as to get on with life and not look like a big crybaby.  Long story short, my car had to be towed off the bridge, although it turned out that the battery had been jolted loose so I was actually able to drive it home.  The car in front of me had a scratched bumper but no serious damage, and no one was hurt.  My car has a big SUV-shaped dent in the back hatch so it will need some work, but it was drive-able.  Obviously it could have been much worse, but it was pretty scary.  I'm just glad Zuzu wasn't in the car with me.

I've been imagining reasons why the black SUV drove away...  I was not feeling very generous toward them, but I imagine that if they fled the scene of a car accident they caused, then they probably have bigger problems than a dented hatchback.

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Up:  I'm over 19,000 words for NaNoWriMo!

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Down:   David got in a fender-bender.  No, I'm not kidding.  A week and a day before I did.  It was rainy and wet on Halloween morning and he got clipped by a van.  Evidently car accidents are contagious at our house.  Once again, we're grateful that no one was hurt.  And we're also glad that our insurance plan includes accident forgiveness because seriously.

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Up:  We made the most of lovely November weather over the weekend and went to the zoo on Saturday and the park on Sunday.  Zuzu was such a big girl for these outings.  We've taken her to the zoo a few times before, but this time she was really noticing the animals (and occasionally shouting at them).  It was just so cool to see her enjoying the experience.  The zoo still makes me miss the almost-three-year-old Eliza, but it's worth the pangs of heartache to watch Zuzu watch the baby wild asses, which were super cute little ponies.  (David and I were also at our most mature, commenting on the wild asses.  We went on to rename every animal in the zoo some version of wild ass:  "There's the wild ass hippo!  There's a wild ass bear!  It's a wild ass duck!"  We amuse ourselves.)

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Down:  At the park, Zuzu was climbing (gleefully, fearlessly) on the playground equipment and there was another little boy there also.  He looked a year or two older than Zuzu, and he was very cute. He deftly climbed around her and she watched him and copied him, going down the slides all by herself.  This little boy was delighted to have found an abandoned toy tractor and he carried it everywhere.  His dad asked us how old Zuzu was and then said that his little guy would be three in February.

So that's what going-on-three looks like at the playground.

Then the friendly dad added that it seemed like just yesterday they were bringing him home from the hospital.

I wanted to tell him that he has no idea what a time warp really feels like, how confusing it is to be pregnant for a total of eighteen out of twenty four months and only come home with one baby, what it's like to lose a year of your life to grief and sadness, what it's like to have that tender bruised heart stomped on by the sight of an innocent two-year-old playing at the park.

Instead, David said, "Yeah, we know the feeling." And then I told David I was getting hungry and we should head home.

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Up:  An essay I submitted got selected for Three Minus One, a book being put together for publication by the same people producing the film Return to Zero.  (Which I mentioned here and here).  I'm honored to see my name on this list, but mostly I'm just glad that these projects exist and people are doing more to draw attention to a devastating reality.  Sadness shouldn't be silenced.  Our stories and our babies matter.

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One more Up because I seem to drone on and on about the Downs...  I'm making my freshmen come conference with me about their upcoming essays.  After a meeting today, one student said, "Wow.  That was really helpful."  I was like, "Yes.  That's why you should meet with your professors.  We're actually really helpful."

Changing lives, people.  That's what I do.  I just don't look quite as elegant as some people while I'm doing it.


  1. Down: Currently crying at my desk and wishing it was 5:15pm and not 4:15pm.

    Up: Seeing a post by you to get me out of myself for a bit.

    (Bonus up: wild ass animals)


  2. This was great...not the downs...glad you guys are ok after that fender bender. Loved the UP's and the wild asses.

  3. You are WAY too kind about that jerk who fled the scene. You win for being nicer than me.

    I can totally picture Zuzu shouting at the animals.

    B loves a good game of parachute, too. But dare you force him off the blanket and you will lose an eye.

    You are elegant. I've always thought so! In person and in writing. Take that, David! But really, that would make my day if anyone had compliments like that for me. Currently I'm only winning in the biggest ass or widest hip awards.

  4. I've always thought you were quite elegant!

  5. dressed up as Mr. Duckworth for Halloween

    That is AWESOME.

  6. I am so proud of you for 19K in NaNoWriMo! I'm not that far along, having lots of fits and starts, but I feel good about it (this time). I've usually quit by now but this year I've decided to only use November as my "get into it good starting point." I've no intention to finish by month's end BUT I'm good with that. I'm going to finish by January. Happy friggin' new year.

    Ugh to the fender benders. I have PTSD from my last one so I'm not gonna type more on that **forces brain to move along**

    I'm not feeling very elegant these days. Perhaps I should invest in khakis.

    I'm even prouder of you for inclusion in Three Minus One (I have another friend included as well!)

    I wish I had words about the park and Eliza and grief. I wish.

  7. Glad your accidents were minor but I'm with Brandy, you're far too kind about the mean black SUV. For the record it wasn't me. Finn calls my car "mamas black S-oo-Vee"

    Love that David had a boy dress up as him! That's adorable.

  8. The time warp. Shit. Next time I have an innocent parent talk to me how time flies, or whatever, I'm totally going to speak up about my time warp. Or say something like, "you have NO IDEA how time flies my friend...."

    Glad no one got hurt in both accidents. We got nailed bad in an intersection when I was a few weeks along with Alexander. The car came from the left full speed into our front bumper...if we were a split second further into the intersection it would have been Daniels side hit dead on. It was really scary. I'm glad Zuzu wasn't in the car too.

    I think you're elegant. And pretty to boot. So there you go :)

  9. The time warp. Yes. And it's weird how it manifests sometimes. Every Wednesday I look into my closet and wonder why I don't have anything decent to wear to teach in...then I remember that I spent three winters in a row pregnant...and the winter before that was post-partum with E, and the winter before that, pregnant. So it was six winters ago that I last bought decent winter clothes. Or, I look at photos of E right when we first started trying to have another baby. She wasn't even two - and now here's our baby and she's in kindergarten!! What happened to those years? Of course, I know too well what happened. Or, when people look at the age gap between my children and make comments about how nice it must be to have the first one all grown up and independent...if only they could see what happened during those four years.

    Wishing you the strength to be zen in these last few weeks. I have an amazing bunch of students this year...no whiners, no show offs, all lovely; of course, I will probably find out on evaluations that they all were actually secretly hating me and the class. ;-)

  10. WOW so sorry for all the DOWNS especially the car accidents! So glad you were both okay and that you were able to scrape a couple of ups out of that!

  11. Man glad you guys are ok- people are so rude sometimes. Bah!

    I think you're elegant as well :) Keep on changing lives sister!