Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sleepy Hollow

Arrived Sunday at 4:30.  Unpacked car, ate subs and pizza, and headed for the beach by 6 p.m.

Waves so big, thought we were in Ocean City, NJ.  Heard rumors of riptides; kept eagle eye on M. Peevie who apparently has no fear of waves or being carried out to sea.  Kept calling her to come closer to shore.  Agreed with SIL that both of us were strong enough swimmers to rescue her.  Agreed with BIL that neither of us felt like going for a swim at the moment.

A. Peevie's anxiety kicked into gear, and he hollered at M. Peevie over the breaking waves and stiff breeze to come in closer.  "You're going to drown!" he screamed helpfully, and looked over at me with a worried expression on his face.  I walked down to the wet sand and waved her in. 

"M. Peevie," I instructed, "You must stay near the boys.  Don't go out any farther than they go out."  The boys were fairly safety-conscious, having learned a new word (riptide) in the last hour.

"But mom," M. Peevie said, "It's not even deep!  It's barely up to my waist!"

"M. Peevie," I said sternly, "Either come in out of the water, or stay near the boys.  Your choice."  Fine, she harrumphed, and waded back out into the crashing surf.

Now it's Wednesday, and I fully admit:  I could get used to this: hanging out at the pool, hanging out at the beach, playing tennis, taking naps, drinking adult beverages, and reading.  Oh, and I got to watch several epis from a L&O:CI marathon featuring my boyfriend.  Now that he's on cable, I don't get to see him as often as I used to.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


An unexpected Facebook friend request showed up in my inbox today--from my Dad.

"Peevie Daddy wants to be friends on Facebook," the subject line read.  My jaw dropped, but I immediately hit "Confirm Friend."  Then I logged into my FB account and posted as my status, "I wonder how many nonagenarians have Facebook accounts?"  Just curious.

I wanted to know what prompted dad to join FB, so I called him.  My dad answered, but quickly handed the phone over to mom before I could get to the crux of the matter.  (He was busy watching the Phillies lose to the Cubs for the second time in a row.)

"Mom," I said.  "Guess what?  Dad just friended me on Facebook!"

"That was me," she said.

"But it said 'Peevie Daddy wants to be friends,' not 'Peevie Momma,'" I said.

"It wouldn't let me put two names down," she said.

"Riiiiight," I said, "But why did you put dad's name and not your name?"

"Oh," she said, "I thought I should put dad's name down."

"Hmm," I said, "and why did you think that?"

"Because he's the daddy," she said with a simple, anachronistic non-sequitur.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Foray Into Fiction

She left on a Tuesday morning.

The kids were fine--they loved the sitter; they knew their routine: lunch at noon, naps for the younger ones at one, videos for the older kids; mom back by three so the sitter could get to her other job in the coffee shop by four.  But today she'd be late.  Ronnie would be too responsible to leave the kids alone.  She'd call the cell phone and leave a perplexed message:  "Um, Janie, this is Ronnie.  I'm just wondering if you'll be home soon.  I was supposed to leave at 3 today.  Um, OK.  Bye."

But the cell phone was turned off.  She'd dropped it into the laundry basket, where someone would find it eventually.  Paul, maybe, or maybe even a cop, when he eventually called the police.

Ronnie would try Paul at the office, but she'd probably get voice mail there, too.  He'd pick it up and call her right back.  "She's not there?  Did she say where she was going?"  They'd go over a few unlikely scenarios, but in the end, he'd pack up his work and leave early.

He'd swear under his breath as he powered off his computer and arranged the papers on his desk into orderly piles.  He'd get mad first, and worry later.  He would load files into his briefcase like he did every night--files with names like STAT PROG and CHECK CODE--but tonight he wouldn't get to them until well after 9:30, after the last pajamaed child padded out for the last hug and the last glass of water, wondering my Mommy didn't come in to kiss him goodnight.

Checking the calendar on the refrigerator, Paul wondered if he had forgotten girls' night out.  It had happened before: Paul was supposed to be home by five to give her a chance to change clothes and put on makeup.  He knew that some days she didn't even make it into the shower before 11 a.m.; some days, not at all.  He couldn't really imagine what it was like, taking care of four young children all day, all alone--but he tried, and he tried to make sure that he helped out when she asked, and came home early when she needed him to.  He didn't even mind the expense of the sitter two days a week, to give her a chance to run errands, have some down time.

"Shit," he said, falling back into the butt-shaped divot on the leather couch.  "Where the hell is she?"

Janie was driving across Oklahoma in a beige Toyota--she'd sold her own car in Missouri, and bought this one with cash--carefully observing the speed limit and listening to Josh Turner asking why don't they just dance.

"I'm not a big fan of country music," she said out loud, looking over at the empty seat as though he were there.  "But if I listened to you for very long, I think I might just change my mind."  I'm going to be changing a lot of things, she thought, starting with my name.

Amanda.  Jenny.  Kate.  Janie ran through the names in her mind, seeing how they matched up with the new life she was envisioning for herself.  It wasn't a glamorous life--she didn't need Roberto Cavalli sunglasses or a Hermes handbag.  She needed to be a real person, to feel true, to experience a life that made her eyes open wide and her breath catch in her throat.

She'd felt that way once, when Mattie was born.  She couldn't get enough of his smell, his softness, his tiny perfection.  But the sweetness of those moments had faded with sleep deprivation and the intensity of day-in and day-out parenting.  Soon the other three kids joined him.  The fourth, Boo-Boo, was an accident--Janie already knew that three kids was tipping her over the edge--and the last traces of her identity circled the drain and disappeared like that blue Polly Pocket shoe last week.

Her friends all laughed over margaritas, and commiserated with one another--"I just can't wait until I can pee without someone watching me!"--but Janie knew that only drastic action would save her.  Hence, Oklahoma, the Toyota, the soon-to-be-chopped-off-hair, the new name.

"Kate," Janie decided.  "I'm going to be Kate.  I'm going to work at a bookstore during the day, and play guitar on weekends."  Under the vast night sky, she drove toward Texas; and she wondered if Paul remembered to give Boo-Boo his antibiotic.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Meeting Forrest

I introduced M. Peevie to Forrest Claypool at a party this weekend.  "Forrest," I said, "This is one of your youngest campaign volunteers, my daughter, M. Peevie."  He smiled and reached out to shake her hand.  She looked confused.
"You remember waving signs from the overpass a couple of years ago when Forrest ran in a different election, M. Peevie?" I reminded her.  She tipped her head to the side and looked him up and down.

"But I thought we didn't know him," she said.

"You don't," I said, "but I do."

"But I thought he was famous or something!" she said, and he laughed.  "Only in certain circles," he said.

Later, at home, M. Peevie picked up one of Forrest's flyers for his independent candidacy for Cook County Assessor.  She pointed to his photo.  "Oh," she said, "That really was Forrest Claypool."  Because without independent verification, she might not be able to trust that we were telling her the truth.  That her mother was telling her the truth.

What is up with that?