June 30, 2009

And Then Came the Floods

When I was a kid, we led what one might call a transient life. My mom once did the math. We moved 15 times by the time I was 8.

That's a lot. And it's the kind of pattern that follows you. I've spent most of my life sending out change of address cards.

One day, I looked around what was then my crowded little house in my crowded little New Jersey town and realized that I'd lived in that little house longer than I'd ever lived anywhere. I knew how to get creative with pierogi, and that there really are people who use the word "gravy" to refer to tomato sauce. I talked about "going down the shore" instead of to the beach. I had become, in some sense, a Jersey girl. Without the big hair or the accent.

This was particularly startling because I consider myself a Virginian.

After six years in that house - we beat my previous "stay" record by four years - we moved to Maryland. But that little New Jersey town still feels just a bit like home, probably because no other address before or since ever stuck as long.

And I passed fairly close by it this weekend on my way to Connecticut to see old friends and family. Or, at least, that was my goal. Until I saw several giant, blinking red signs that read: "MAJOR CONGESTION GWB - USE LOCAL."

The GWB is, of course, the George Washington Bridge. It connects northern New Jersey with New York. There are two spans, an upper and a lower. My mom used to call the upper one George and the lower one Martha. Then she'd giggle. It was a decade before I got the joke. Which I think is a good thing.

I once sat in a back-up at the GWB for three straight hours. So I took those signs seriously. Better still, I knew the "local" (I assumed they meant roads). And I figured this was the powers that be rewarding me for the nickel +1 I did in New Jersey. I didn't have to sit in a ridiculous GWB back-up. I could get out! The Tappan Zee Bridge was calling me.

And that's how I found myself in Teterboro driving through foot-high standing water trying to remember where they'd put the Garden State Parkway.

That was just the early part of hell. My minivan and I swam through New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, braving lightning, high winds, monsoon-strength rains and flash floods. Yes, floods. And it all began the moment I decided I should drive through New Jersey rather than attempt the bridge. That's when the skies went dark. I went to pay the toll to exit the Turnpike, and when I opened my car window I was hit in the face with a horizontal wall of water that took my breath away and soaked me to the skin. Scary, scary weather.

Living in Jersey must be its own reward. Because my decision clearly just pissed off the powers that be.

In the end - well, in Connecticut - I did get my reward. Three stunning rainbows - one for each of the kids I'd left back home. The third was breathtaking, lighting up brightly against a pink and gray sunsetty sky. Lots of drama and color. I figure that one was for my rain-phobic, Jersey-born diva.

So maybe I have roots in Jersey after all.

June 23, 2009

It's Good to Be the Mom

It's high time I admitted the truth. Nearly all of my parenting decisions are predicated on my relentless need for sleep.

This is what happens when you are a night owl in a daytime world. Most people wake up in the morning bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to start their day. Not me. My best time is after the sun goes down. I pulled my first all-nighter in high school. By college, I'd learned not to schedule any classes before 11:00 a.m. ... and sometimes I'd miss even those.

And yet, I am forced to survive in a world where I need to be not only awake but alert and conversant by 8:00 a.m. What's even more terrifying - I have somehow birthed not one, not two, but three morning people, all of whom rise with the sun.

And for some reason, they want me to get up, too.

This is why it's good to be the mom. When the not-yet-ex left and I no longer had my a.m. safety net, I put into place an entire set of rules designed to bring peace and quiet to my mornings and keep the kids happy and safe. I can catch a few more zzz's and ease into my day.

This has had some unexpected benefits for the kids. To wit:
  • They can cook. My kids wake up hungry. Now, I honestly don't think they need to eat at 6:30 a.m. Not when it means I have to get out of bed. They disagree. So I've taught my older two how to heat toaster waffles, fill a bowl with cereal and milk, slice up some cheese, peel a banana, open a yogurt or two, and pour their own juice. Voila! Breakfast.
  • They are responsible. The kids have noticed that if they don't let the dog out and feed her, the house gets loud and stinky, and mom gets cranky. So they take turns managing the dog in the mornings. (To be fair, this has been a kid chore for years; the difference is that now they do it without being asked.)
  • They use the potty. My older two had the benefit of a grown-up morning person in the house when they were toilet training. I suspect that's why neither of them mastered the art till the age of four. Not so my little guy. He is now fully independent on the toilet and has been since he was two. That's right, two. This is largely because I move verrrrry slowly in the mornings. He hollers "Pee-pee!!!" and runs into the bathroom in a blind panic. By the time I get there he's washing his hands. (For which, by the way, WAY TO GO little guy! )
  • They play fewer video games. My kids used to get up in the mornings and go play on the Wii. World War III would promptly follow. "You cheated!" "That's MY game!" "Mooooooom!!!" Screaming, bickering and tattling are not conducive to sleep. So I no longer allow video games in the morning. They play less, so their brains rot less. Yay!
  • They are independent. My kids know that if they dress themselves, brush their own teeth, and head quietly downstairs, I will remain in bed. If they're lucky, this means an extra 30 minutes of SpongeBob.
  • They're more creative. Books, art projects, pretend play - these are quiet and can be done independently, with a minimum of bicker-inducing interaction. Quiet is good, and TV gets boring. So the kids set out stacks of books, art supplies and toys to entertain themselves.
Oh, and get this! Yesterday I figured out a whole new bonus to the "protect my mornings" plan. This is because yesterday, the kids decided to play board games when they woke up. On the surface, a good idea. Nice, quiet activity. No remote control. My kids, however, are very poor sports. Before long, my diva and my Aspie were hollering the house down. It was far worse than the Wii on a really bad Wii day.

As punishment, I decided to enforce cooperation. I made them do the dishes.

This. Was. Brilliant.

Even more than I love sleep, I hate washing dishes. In the 43 years of my existence I have had exactly one argument with my dad. Just one. It's true. Surprising, but true. And guess what that argument was about? It was about doing the dishes. Didn't want to do them at 13. Don't want to do them now.

So yesterday, I didn't do the dishes. The kids did. I supervised. From the sofa. With my eyes mostly closed. And the kids learned two valuable lessons. They learned to be self-sufficient, and they learned to get along.

Win-win, so far as I can see.

They still come into the bedroom and jump on me at the slightest provocation. I try very very hard to enjoy it.

P.S. While these rules are designed to protect the quiet of my mornings, the fact is that I'm rarely sleeping. Most often I am upstairs in my room letting my brain get used to being awake and listening at the open door to the peace and quiet produced by three wonderfully independent, cooperative and loving children. I'm starting to realize that I'm doing a pretty good job of raising them (and, credit where credit is due, their dad's not doing so bad either).

June 22, 2009

Thunder! Lightning!

After dinner tonight, I proposed a walk to the kids. It's June, and the fireflies are out in droves. The sky was clear with a stunning sunset in the making. I even promised popsicles and a late bedtime, figuring on a little bonding and some memory-making.

And from the diva? A total meltdown. She could not handle even the thought of walking out the front door. Tears streamed down her face from the mental trauma of it all. I was at a loss until she blurted out, sobbing uncontrollably, "But Moooom! What if there's a thunderstorm!"

A new phobia is born.

To be fair, we've had our share of thunderstorms these last few weeks. All that noise and lightning, it's a bit unnerving when you're seven. Today, though, was a gorgeous, sunny, blue-sky day. The kids were outside in it at the ballpark with their dad for Father's Day. Bevy of sunburns all around.

But the second she set foot back home, my beautiful diva became severely agoraphobic. Because of the weather.

It started off reasonably. Twice in the last week she crawled into bed with me in the wee hours of the morning, awakened by the loud bang of thunder. This is what you expect from a seven-year-old.

But it escalated from there.

By Friday, she was sitting for hours in the living room, glued to the windows. Every passing cloud she saw - whether high and white and puffy, a shadowed, pearly gray, or scarlet from the setting sun - was met with a bleak, drawn face and a panicked, "Mom, is that a thundercloud?"

Airplane passes overhead. "Mom! Do you hear thunder?"

"No. It's an airplane."

Perfectly delightful cotton ball cloud drifts by. "Mom! Is that a thundercloud??"

"No. Plain old cloud."

Gently overcast day, without a single raindrop. "Mom! Thunderclouds!"

"No. Just clouds again. See? No lightning."

Harry Potter zooms past on his Nimbus 2000. "Mom!!! Lightning!!"

Okay, I made that one up. But you get the point.

Tonight what was a simple irrational fear escalated to the point of total panic. She couldn't walk outside anymore without enormous thunderstormy angst.

So I reassured her. I told her that she'd know it's a thundercloud because she'd be able to see the lightning from far away. Thunder and lightning can't hurt us in the house, I said, and we'd have plenty of warning that a thunderstorm is coming. I explained the science of it. And we also came up with alternate theories on the weather. Such as, thunder God is bowling, and he's a poor loser so he starts crying his eyes out and throwing lightning bolts around. Made her laugh.

Otherwise, the talk-it-out approach was not working.

I finally got her outside by promising her that there would be NO thunderstorms, and that I'd tell her if I ever knew a thunderstorm was coming because I'd want her to be prepared. She liked that. She's young enough to believe that mom does know everything about everything and can also control the weather. I am like Rainman and Storm from the X-Men rolled into one. Makes me one heckuva smart autistic mutant superhero.

Desperate to do the mom thing and teach a lesson, I cited a line from my favorite movie, Strictly Ballroom: "Vivir con miedo es como vivir a medias" ... or, a life lived in fear is a life half-lived. I told her, "You can't let a little thing like being afraid of thunder keep you from having fun."

She bought it. She got out there, forgot her fear, and caught a few fireflies with her brothers. She had a great night.

We'll see how she does the next time it rains.

June 17, 2009


For a week or two now I've had that feeling - you know that feeling? The one you get when you've forgotten something.

Remembered today what it was. And it's not the food. It's that I'm a far better editor than I am a writer.

As a writer, I get wordy. I get attached and distracted. I digress, pretty much constantly (if it helps, that happens when I talk, too.)

So I've put on my succinct and focused editor hat and just fixed yesterday's post. I'd buried the lead, wandered around a bit till I figured out what I wanted to say, and used quite a few more words than I needed. It's better now. Perfect? Not so much. But better.

Forgive me. New to the blogosphere. Still practicing. Thank heavens for the edit button on Blogger. And also that only family and a few select friends read this with anything resembling regularity.

June 16, 2009

One Crazy Summer

A friend reminded me today that I need to get back to the meat and potatoes of this blog ... Get it? Meat and potatoes? Since this blog is meant to be, at least a little bit, about food.

I do love food. Thing is, though, I'm really not a foodie. So mostly this is about family and the ever-changing nature of life in limbo, viewed through the window of a few happy meals (not Happy Meals, but actual happy meals) - hence, the rosemary-colored glasses.

Problem is, I'm not cooking. Or even consuming much beyond coffee, Cheerios and the occasional nectarine. I'm far too busy managing the insanity of my first summer in a single-parent household.

The most obvious problem is the logistical nightmare that is getting everyone from Point A to Point B. See, I signed the kids up for track and field, sponsored by the local rec league. It's cheap, it's something to do, and it gets the kids out of the house and moving. It's also three evenings a week. Combine that with Boy Scouts and swimming, free movies and play dates, mom's busy job and our one-and-only car ... well, let's just say that an iPhone with a nice scheduling app might come in handy. (Mostly because I'm drooling over the new iPhones. I buy the hype and believe an iPhone will change my life. But that's beside the point.)

The bigger issue? Summer means far, far less time for me.

It sounds horribly selfish, doesn't it? But here's the thing. Remember lesson number one? You've got to make time for you. I've made a commitment here.

Well, I looked at my schedule today and realized that, outside of a solo weekend trip to Connecticut ('cause that one really is - almost - all about me), every single weekend between now and mid-August has been spoken for by someone else. And September is starting to fill up, too.

A lot of this is incredibly good stuff that I'm truly and deeply excited about: a first-ever family reunion to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday, visits from our adored former au pairs, and a whole two weeks in the Pacific Northwest with the kids. And in September not one but two reunions - one for high school (25 years - egad!) and one for a group of close friends from college.

That's all good, and I'm over the moon about it. I really am. It's my kids and my family, and it's old friends, and these are far and away the most important things in my universe.

But part of me still thinks summer is a time for easy evenings in the backyard with good friends, a glass of wine, and something grilled & yummy to nibble on. Laughter and crickets and conversation, sprinkled with a little time on your own, a good book and a knitting bag full of yarn. Unscheduled. Unhurried. Peaceful.

That part of me is a little cranky right now.

I know the peace is in there, in this overplanned summer. And I'll find it, in the friends, in the family, and even in my loud, crazy, beautiful kids. And I will find some time for me.

Right now, though, I'll spend some time wallowing in the cranky. I'm glad it's there. Because this bit of crank? It means I've finally learned my lesson.

June 14, 2009

The Blogroll

I'm a surprise blogger. Always wanted to try it, and now that I have a vehicle, I find that I actually have something to say. Had no idea it was in there. Surprise!

What this means, though, is that I never stopped to set the context. I'm betting that, as a result, you have no idea why I chose to put those random bits and pieces on the right side of the page. So I'll do a few posts over the coming weeks to give you the 4-1-1 (and yes, I feel silly even typing that).

We'll start with What I Read ... more commonly known as the blogroll.

First up is DivaSpeak, which I've been following since its inception. It is creatively crafted by a good friend who knows her pop culture cold (she blogs on Lost and Heroes, among many other things). She also has a knack for finding brilliant, off-beat content. My most recent guilty pleasure from the Diva: "I've dreamed about it ... have you?" It's one of those things you can't stop watching. Not that you'd want to. Dive into her archives. She keeps me entertained. She also has phenomenal taste in shoes.

The Bloguscript is my how-to-live-vicariously blog, because it's written by a friend who actually leaves his house. I read this and want to go do things and see things and hear things. His tunage is interesting, his grammar is spot on, and he's got a sense of humor just this side of snarky, as evidenced by his "You Might Not be a Redneck" post. He's been teaching me to blog, for which many thanks and a batch of banana chocolate chip bars - or at least a lasagna - are likely in his future.

If my friend iClipse is providing the mechanical bloggy know-how, the Yarn Harlot is providing the inspiration. I knit. I write. The Yarn Harlot knits. The Yarn Harlot writes. She makes me want to knit and write and then knit some more, because you realize, reading her, that knitting and writing are what life should be about. I want to knit a sock. I don't even like socks. And then I want to write about it. And take its picture. I think that means I am an honest-to-goodness fan.

Cake Wrecks is a new find. I've been decorating cakes for 12 years. Started with this stunning creation that I copied out of Colette Peters' first book, Colette's Cakes, for a dear friend's baby shower. It was a giant bib done in multi-colored buttercream loops, lacy swags of royal icing, and pastel animals piped with run-in sugar. It tasted like sawdust, but oh, was it pretty! My cakes taste better now and mostly come out to play for birthdays and special family events. This blog makes me laugh out loud. Often.

Eat Like Me is on the roll because I think I should want to read it. A nutritionist chronicles her day in food. Not 100% sure I'm there yet, though I do check in sometimes. And knowing this blog's here does seem to make me eat better ... I'm officially down 15 pounds since I started blogging in January.

Snark appeals to me, which is why I keep a link to Diary of The Food Whore and get her RSS feed delivered to my iGoogle page. A snarky caterer. Loves food; not so fond of people. Brilliant.

52 Cupcakes is - duh - another cake blog. Some of her ideas are a little off the beaten path: to wit, the Bisquick Bacon Cupcakes with Maple Syrup and Bacon Frosting. But she's unfailingly creative, and that works for me. I actually want to try those the next time I make breakfast for dinner with the kids.

Cool Links: Divorce Cakes

Was totally not going to blog today. At all. Doing too much of it lately. But I found this link in the "Cake Wrecks" area on Facebook. The concept is utterly brilliant, and I had to share. Just disappointed these creative cakers came up with the idea of divorce cakes before I did.

Don't know how to do this in any kind of cool way without pulling someone else's copyrighted images into my blog. So it's straight-up links today. Visit the Sun-Sentinel's photogallery ... it's only five photos but they are gorgeous and funny and worth two minutes of your time. Additional handful of images available on the site of the bakery, Elite Cake Creations, in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

I should not be enjoying these nearly as much as I am.

June 11, 2009

Musical Youth

I used to like real music.

This is a revelation, because the last 20 years have turned me into a soccer mom. I know this because iTunes keeps trying to sell me something called the Soccer Mom Mix. It's embarrassing - I do have some musical pride. But it is, sadly, true. My iPod draws rather predictably from American Idol and the soundtrack to Grey's Anatomy, with a handful of tunes picked out by my kids. Soccer mom, to a T.

But it wasn't always this way. In the early '80s, I spent my summers hanging out at embassies in small, over-populated Asian nations with expat kids from all over the world. We danced our feet raw on the weekends. Met a lot of new music that way - especially British music. Developed a taste for punk, new wave, synthpop - a half-step before the stuff really hit in the States. The Clash, Bronski Beat, Yaz, Squeeze, Elvis Costello, Depeche Mode. Even the older, post-punky U2. I've got all these and more on vinyl somewhere in my basement.

I love my iPod. But I do miss my vinyl.

Tonight I went to a Psychedelic Furs concert. Had to be prodded into going. Was very worried that I liked them, back in the day, just because they were British and sorta punky and that was my thing. Figured that my new soccer-mom ears would hate them.

Not so. Apparently I had some taste. Many people - generally those who didn't live through it - think of the '80s and hear Wham! and Whitney Houston in their heads. But there was, in fact, good music back then. And these guys were among those making it. There is no official Furs web site ... but "Ghost In You" on YouTube is one of their more recognizable tunes (slightly dated, with the heavy synthesizer, but still so pretty, and the lyrics resonate for me at the moment).

Now, forgive me if I've gotten some of the terms and timelines wrong. It's been a looooong time since I paid any attention to this stuff, and we all know that babies eat brain cells.

Which actually brings me to my point: another one of those lessons learned in limbo (see "Call Me Couscous" for the first one).

Lesson 2: Remember who you are. Or were.

I lost my music to my kids and the chaos of life and a not-yet-ex who was, quite simply, more into music than I was. I tended to follow his tastes rather than form my own.

My music was just a little tiny bit of my soul. But it was mine, and if you give up enough little tiny bits, you find you've lost a great, big bit somewhere along the way.

It is, fortunately, never too late to get it back.

I know, I forgot the food. Again. It's there - we had dinner at the venue - onion rings with a spicy jalapeno mayo, a fair-to-middlin' entree salad, and a flavorful, richly brewed stout with a hint of vanilla. But the music, and the lesson, were far more important.

June 10, 2009

The Done List: June 9

When I finished my business day today, I still had 6 hours worth of work left to do and a houseful of kids terrified that if they let go of me for even a second I'd vanish back to the mystical place known as Paris.

Needless to say, the kids came first.

I got back to work eventually but was distinctly lacking motivation. That's what happens when you feel you've accomplished nothing. So I squeezed in a break (I'm exceptionally good at taking breaks) and wrote this. Quickly - so it's wordy and poorly edited. I'll come back and do a proper and obsessive edit when my brain is working.

So here it is, my Done List. Like a To Do list, only better. A To Do list is all about the things you haven't done yet and get to feel guilty about. A Done List, on the other hand, is the things you actually did.

In the end, writing it down proved to me I had not spent my day in vain and provided the motivating sense of accomplishment I needed to finally finish my work. Therapy by blog. Yay me.
And so ... Today's Done List
  • Cuddled 2 terrified kids through the 5:30 a.m. unleashing of unholy hell from the skies.
  • Got clothes-hating 3-year-old dressed for the day. Notable because most days he walks to school in his pajamas.
  • Managed to get shorts for 10-year-old into dryer in time for him to wear them to school. They were only a bit damp. Gave him hug for ignoring mom's inadequate housekeeping.
  • Saw 3 kids out the door to school. Allowed 3-year-old to leave house wearing sandals with socks because it made him happy. Gave him special kissing hand.
  • Made and drank life-giving coffee.
  • Earned money to pay mortgage by working demanding job.
  • Paid mortgage.
  • Ate lunch, as proper nutrition is critical in preventing late-night chocolate binges.
  • Washed 6 loads of laundry. Since it's all piled, unfolded, on my bed, I am about to go sleep on it.
  • Realized I’d scheduled critical meetings in the middle of 10-year-old's graduation from 5th grade. Which is tomorrow. Frantically rearranged calendar to take morning off.
  • Cuddled 2 terrified kids through the second unleashing of unholy hell from the skies, then engaged DVD player in hopes of maintaining sufficient physical separation to cook a meal.
  • Made spaghetti dinner with only three meatballs and no ground anything in the house. Convinced children to eat every bite, including scary green peas. Rewarded them with duty-free German chocolates and YouTube videos.
  • Boogied with 3-year-old to the Hamster Dance and the Chipmunks’ rendition of Cotton-Eyed Joe and tried to teach diva to snap.
  • Supervised writing of thank you notes for teachers. Praised Aspie for writing 7 of them. By hand. Without dictation. Yes, I said 7.
  • Praised diva for creating letter so touching her teacher will cry, and – more importantly – for proper use of the subjunctive. A grammar prodigy if ever there was one. Or rather, were. See what I mean? It's hard for adults, and my girl's got it nailed.
  • Bragged about grammatically talented daughter on Facebook.
  • Supervised 3 delightfully cheerful and independent children through bedtime. Helped 3-year-old get redressed after he soaked himself to the skin washing his hands.
  • Simultaneously helped diva sound out the long words in Animal Ark chapter book (hard book - it's British), read But Not The Hippopotamus to preschooler who insisted “that’s not a hippopotamus, it’s a hippo,” and ignored 10-year-old playing video games when he was meant to be reading. The kid reads plenty.
  • Distributed hugs and kisses, sprayed anti-monster "spray" around room to protect children from bumpy night-time things, addressed bedtime angst in 10-year-old, promised to check on diva "till the sun comes up," and allowed 3-year-old to hold my bellybutton until he fell asleep. Still don’t know why he does that.
  • Bonded with amazing au pair who makes my life easier, in hopes she will like me enough to continue doing so.
  • Confirmed details of baseball game for 15 au pairs + 3 kids on Sunday, while doing research on possible nature-themed outing for family + guest on Saturday.
  • Went back to work. Wrote detailed article on difficult concept I did not fully understand and brazenly sent it off for review at 3:57 a.m.
  • Posted totally unnecessary blog entry so as to further delay sleep.
Not too shabby for nearly 23 straight hours of awake. Bed now. Must be cheery, showered and dressed for 5th grade graduation in the morning!
Note: getting dressed appears nowhere on this list. I spent the whole day in my pajamas.
[Also, thanks to judicious editing, you are getting only half the list my sleep-deprived brain drafted in the wee hours of this morning. Scary thought.]
PS - Apologies here because I may have stolen the "Done List" concept from the Yarn Harlot - see blog list at right - whom I admire for more than her amazing knitting skills and creative pseudonym. Too fuddle-brained at this hour to remember for sure.

June 9, 2009


Today, I watched a woman verbally eviscerate an entire room full of people on behalf of my son.

I love her. I want to bake her cookies. Make her a meatloaf. Decorate her a stunning 3-tier celebration cake in a whole rainbow of colors.

This woman is the advocate I hired to help my beloved Aspie get into a school where he can get what he needs to be successful, to thrive, and honestly to learn that he is worth loving, something that his dad and I haven't been able to teach him by ourselves, despite nearly 11 years of trying.

He's a great kid. Super smart, full of heart, naive and trusting. And the public schools in our area - and I'm a huge advocate of public schools, I really am - they are killing him.

So I hired this woman to do what I cannot. To raise her voice and stand up for him. To yell at people and call them names. To make them see what should be right in front of their noses. That he needs to be around kids like him, if for no other reason than so he can make real friends. That he needs help to manage the emotional minefield of peer relationships, and even teacher/student interaction. That he needs small groups of students and patient teachers to thrive, to learn, to find his own version of success. And that he is smart enough - this kid, he's so smart! - that surviving should not, by itself, be enough.

We got his classification changed. After 5 years of pushing and testing and more pushing, the schools now finally admit that yes, he has Asperger's syndrome. (You don't want to know what they'd labeled him before - it just pisses me off.)

Other than that, though, we failed. The entire elementary school team was on his side, and we failed. Dozens of tests, the endorsement of a truckload of psychiatrists, along with that of the biggest name institution in this field. And we failed.

We failed because of one inane bit of bureaucracy. Our elementary school never asked for help. Under enormous stress because of the regular school environment, he acted out. More than once. Tried to run away from school. And because they love him, they managed it themselves. They never asked for help, unless it was from me.

So now, he's not getting any.

We have one more - very unlikely - shot. And I'm going to bring my new best friend along to articulate what I cannot.

I hope she skewers another dozen people and roasts them over an open flame.

June 5, 2009

It's Easy Being Green

I work for a living. I know, hard to imagine that I can find time for a job. But I do. Work for a nice, big company, with lots of people in it. Used to be a lot fewer people, but then we executed a merger. We got hugely enormous and became genuinely multinational in the process. This is cool, because it means that sometimes I get to go to Paris. And I like to go to Paris. Not just for the food, either, though that's certainly a draw.

On my first trip to Paris, the folks on my team wanted to get to know each other. So we did a personality analysis.

As our consultants explained, each of us is a blend of three colors, one of which is usually dominant. If you're mostly blue, you are heavily analytical, always thinking about the future, and generally staring at your bellybutton because you are so inwardly focused. If you are red, you are driving and driving and driving - though you may not always know toward what, and that "what" may sometimes be a big giant cliff. And if you are green, you are the Chatty Cathy of the group, the social butterfly, the networker. And you are always late, because the person you are talking to right now is incredibly important. This pisses off the blue people, who are always on time because they are insanely precise, as well as the red people, who never wait for anyone.

This will come as a complete shock, of course, but I am mostly green. I am also always late.

On Wednesday after work, I walked into my hotel and found an American friend in the lobby, waiting for her French boss, who was joining her for dinner. I kept her company while she waited. Of course, he was late. He is green. She is green, too, so we understood. And when he arrived, apologizing, we explained that there was no need because all of us are green.

At which point, green social beast that he is, he invited me to dinner with them. For which, huge thanks.

We spent 45 green minutes on the sofa getting to know each other before we realized that if we didn't leave we'd never find an open restaurant. Then we chatted at the table without even looking at the menus for at least 20 green minutes more before we realized that if we didn't order we wouldn't eat before midnight.

Everything was late. None of us cared. We were too busy enjoying being green together.

The food wasn't bad, either. At the aptly named Spicy restaurant, we enjoyed intriguingly spiced dishes along with a chilled bottle of red wine (and J-P, if you read this please share what type of wine it was because I loved it and I cannot remember). Oh, but the best part - aside from the green conversation - was the dessert. It was called Spicy Coffee. And with that, I learned a new food word - degustation. For Spicy Coffee was a bit more than that. Along with our teeny tiny cups of French coffee, we each enjoyed a degustation of two insanely fabulous desserts. One was a small, cannoli-like pirouette cookie filled with an appropriately green pistachio cream. The other - it was ooh-la-la good! On the top, chopped spiced fruit - maybe apple? Then a thick layer of a smooth custard akin to vanilla pudding, only richer. And then, at the bottom, a layer of perfectly spiced and saturated gingerbread. Together in one bite, they blended perfectly. Rather like our conversation that evening. Fabulous!

We closed the restaurant. Then our newest French friend suggested we see the Eiffel Tower at night, so we did ... and, not realizing that our green natures had brought us to the Tower after midnight, we missed the last subway train back to the hotel. So we chatted and walked and chatted some more. Crossed the Champs Elysees, all bright lights and cars and dramatic presence. Chatted a bit more. And finally made it back to the hotel at 2:00 a.m.

Being green is a bit like being blonde: you just have more fun. Though one might occasionally appreciate just a little more sleep.