Friday, December 14, 2007

i will miss you, crazy neighbors

The doorbell just rang. It was our neighbor, Brunhilde* dropping off gifts for the kids! She handed me these giant babies, wrapped ever so thoughtfully in a wrinkled plastic grocery bag, shouting over the pre-recorded laughter of one of the dolls, that "the girl won't stop laughing!" How sweet! I can't wait to run into the kids' room in the middle of the night because the dolls are giving them nightmares. "The boy is for your son!" She shouted, as I barred her possible entry with my body.

In the park the other day when we happened upon each other, Brunhilde declared that Stella, "the way she smiles! Will be famous one day! And that one," she said, pointing a dusty crooked finger at my son, "That one is skeptical! He will be a doctor!" I think Brunhilde was confusing skepticism with the dirty look Hamish was shooting her for trying to get him to shake her hand.

After this proclamation my son knotted his thick pointy brows and kicked the dirt, growling. When I knelt down and asked what was wrong he told me, "I don't want to be a doctor!" and, broken up over the idea that Hamish took our elderly, hygiene-challenged neighbor's prediction seriously, I reassured him that he could be anything he wanted no matter what anyone says, like a spaceman rock and roll superstar, which I believe is his current career choice. I also gently explained that some doctors play rock and roll and save kittens. I don't want to completely shut out the possibility.

Hamish is quickly learning the aggravating lesson that some people virtually overflow with infinite misinformed notions of how others should live their lives and sometimes they happen to say these things out loud. Maybe they're like farts, these smelly, gassy nuggets of unsolicited opinions, because Brunhilde, at least, talks out of her ass, bless her creaky, crazy, well-meaning heart.

So thanks for the scary laughing baby dolls, friendly neighbor.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

white knucking

We accepted an offer on our apartment last Saturday. Then, giddy with hope, we drove southward and looked at seven houses, three of which were fifty-thousand dollars over our price limit, but of course we can offer anything we want, and even though there are no current job openings at Bryan’s firm, we gave tentative notice at Hamish’s preschool that we’d be pulling him out in mid-February, only to learn within minutes that our buyer’s buyer is still waiting to be approved for a mortgage.

We frantically IMed each other, seriously considering walking away from our buyer, or any buyer, until April, so that Hamish could finish the school year and give me that childcare break, because once we start paying a mortgage, childcare goes down the tubes. Am I insane to choose a driveway, parking lots, trees and a back yard over first-rate childcare? Part of me thinks I am insane for giving it up, mid-year no less, and my Jewish guilt knows no bounds regarding the good people we’ll be leaving at the preschool, but part of me thinks I’m insane to walk away from a decent offer (the buyer’s buyer will most likely be approved), and have to re-clean, re-list, and re-chew my cuticles hoping we’ll cultivate some new interest in our place.

This triangle of things we must accomplish—sell, job, buy—has eddied into a tornado. But we got on this stormy ride, and at least in this moment, we’ve decided to see it through. When we played Hamish that R.E.M. song the other morning, "Everybody Hurts," I wept over Hamish's half made sandwich and Bryan admitted later that he shed a tear too. My knuckles are white from all this holding on for dear life.