It has been a week of green-drinking, cleansing-support eating. So good.
Fifille told me the Alexander Junger book (which she has read; I have not yet), says no nightshades. "I know," is what I told her. "But right now, we live in a world where potatoes are not the same as candy. I'm taking small steps, but you can do what you like." Egads, I was off the rails last month -- sugar, caffeine, alcohol, what a holiday break, let's recap. & by recap, I mean you are going to have to read every word, like Les Misérables. There will never be a quiz, I will not be frosty when I tell you the information you seek is within, but I will not repeat myself, I doubt you will need a deeper dive into anything following, and there will also never be a movie. No.
§ On the actual day before Christmas, Mr Fox came by our house for a cup of coffee & a piece of black cake. While we five sat around he asked the children if there were any holiday traditions they held dear. Garçon said, "Well, we blahblahblah [all true, yes]. We hang our stockings -- "
I quailed & Mari was fixing me with a look. I had not bought anything to put in the children's stockings. He had asked me for much of Christmas Eve & also the days before if I was going to take care of this. What? No, hadn't everyone heard that our children are Franciscans now? I had not heard one peep about holiday acquisitiveness. Wait, I know what you are going to say! Shut up for a minute!
Not only had they not expressed one millisecond of excitement, nor avarice, when Mari's parents emailed to ask them what they wanted for "Christmas," the children replied with a request that a flock of chicks or ducks or bees -- some small agricultural gift, I'm not sure of the deets for each child -- be given in their name to Heifer International. This was excellent on about a billion levels -- a. sweetly-Franciscan, b. Thank you for contacting our corporate giving department, lol -- ok, two. But you know!
I had asked them, probing gingerly, what there was in the world they desired. I was looking for the three, small Epiphany gifts they get and/or ahead to their upcoming birthdays, what Becky & I were calling the Charlotte gift. When in Little House in the Big Woods book, Laura gets Charlotte & it was a thing she hadn't realized she wanted, for which she not dared to dream? That. Although, really, my children should just be thankful for any year we do not give coal.
I realized what Fille wanted was a Nook & I am not buying that, and Garçon is certainly so accustomed to being rebuffed that he would never even think to wonder what he might want, so that is fine with me, too. Good enough is good enough. But then he said to Fox that one of the things he held dear in our annual tradition was The Filling of the Stockings and I had not been shopping. O, woe.
So thank God Target was still open.
And YES, I KNOW, we are always parenting on about how gifting is giving freely & not caving to demands and so of course they would not be making lists and having parades of desires, ok, but never before have they been so mature. So, yes, in the main, it would seem they are both growing up.
Also good that it was Garçon who spoke first or we never would have had the time to breathe this in. Had Fifille been the child to report that we have x and y and stockings, I would have said to her, "Not this year. You are Franciscans! What?!"
That is, in fact, what I had been saying to Mari all the whole weekend. But then, hahahaha, I had to be the one at Target 90 minutes before it closed on December 24. I mean, he came along, but I was the one for whom it was a hardship. Crowded!
We were ambling along, cherrypicking the toy aisles, when I froze here, letting out a squeal. "Claw Escape! And lookit all these!"
Mari was on the verge of his whole I-don't-even-know-you routine & then he remembered. "You have cousins," he said. I do! Many of them, but he was recollecting the five boys all the same age as I am!
Being a girl with five brothers is different, because it is a thing which labels you. Even if someone has possession of the data set of my childhood, they still will have to ask me, "Wait, how do you know so much about He-Man & the Masters of the Universe?" Laughing, forever. We built a racetrack all over our grandmother's sun-porch and played there for years. I wish we'd had a Claw Escape. Man! The Hot Wheels/Matchbox 21stc accessory-technology is so awesome! All kids know how to do now is play video games! Bo-ring!
§ Christmas was Christmas, same as always, enjoyable, no phones, no cameras. Dinner was delicious & lazy & multi-coursey. I should have made an almond cake. Had I known what was about to go down, I would have.
§ On the day after Christmas, I got an email from the 9:30 Club telling me that Drive-By Truckers were playing Saturday, Sunday, and New Year's Eve. Bless you, 2012! We wasted no time packing up the leftovers & pressing what would not travel onto Mr Fox & arrived in DC the night of the 26th, tucking ourselves into our little home away from home. Sal arrived home from his 15-day Caribbean vacation within an hour of our arrival, whereupon we tucked into a reprise of roast lamb and potatoes with found, back-of-the-fridge, Trader-Joe's beets and the hummous I had thrown into my suitcase, like my grandmother. It was excellent & festive. Christmas forevah! Let the weird gin cocktails never stop!
§ Running concurrently with this unplanned travel, we had condo renters who were trying to be pirates. I don't know what happened with the gal who manages our rentals -- I presume she is usually more aware than this because we have never had a problem -- but somehow this family had come up to the week before their arrival date & not paid in full. Before that, even -- during the first day of the last week of ballet school -- Hope called to apologize & tell me they hadn't paid the whole bill yet and now they wanted to pay $200 less than they were contracted.
Whatever, dudes! God bless us, every one is what Tiny Tim said! I told Hope to give them 10% off (which was half of their outrageous demand) and I never wanted to do business with them again, but it's all good for 2012. No worries. (This is where Mari & I part ways. He wants to know what happened & where Hope went wrong, let's re-enact!, but I'm like, Dude. I hired her because I don't have time to give a fuck.)
A week later, they still had not paid. And I think they were hoping that there would be acquiescence to their demands rather than let the place sit empty for 5 days culminating in New Year's Day. Someone we used to rent to, before I hired Hope, called me -- "Elle, I know this is crazy, but are you vacant this weekend?" Yes. Call this girl on her cell phone & complete yr business with sobriety & swiftness. Happy New Year.
§ I told Mari, while I was nervously buying concert tickets -- nervous because I knew my descent into a buncha dirty living at Sal's was going to make staying out all night more wearing than it might be ordinarily -- that we have seen DBT so many times that I didn't need or really want to be crushed up front in the line with the sweaty, old, sausagey singalong, that I would be just fine leaning against the doorway in back, kissing.
Mari said, "I want to get there early enough to sit down." So, we did. And we were way up high, but the bar was right behind us & there was a waitress who brought food & so it was civilized.
Those guys opened with Uncle Frank. That is a dark song that misses some of the angriness of other of their equally-dark songs & I was just like, "Wow, guys, hi! That's a bummer I might not bounce back from in this first hour."
But it was fun, anyway. Somewhere in my poisoned heart, I wanted to be down on the floor, wriggling, but that is a summertime activity. Remember last year when I almost passed out? God, winter! Your clothes need to be peeled off to get down!
§ Sal was out of the office until Jan 7, too, so it was a nonstop kind of hilarity we have not had since college, I don't think. Certainly not since I've had kids. Also, a different kind of liquid refreshments than I usually imbibe. Drinks before dinner every night, red wine alongside dinner, long restaurant lunches. He said to me, one afternoon, "I could have a drink with lunch, right? One drink?" (He was driving.)
I shrugged, "What kind of insurance are you carrying?" (I drove home.)
The whole town of was out of the office, mentally if not physically. Even Mona. We met her for lunch one day & imagine my surprise when she did not go back to the office. (Yes, Mona.) Not only that, but after our meal, while the four of us were lingering & she was letting the children regale her with their stories, she picked up her handheld & frowned at it a little. "I'm supposed to be on a call. Hm." Then we heard nothing more of it. Do any of us really know each other?
§ We know this: I refuse to take any shit off of anyone, not even the two people who have lived inside me. We were on the way to meet Mona at the NMAI cafeteria, which is by her office, plus also best Smithsonian outlet. If you go back a long way on the fed/museum campus, you might remember the lunch buffet at the Smithsonian Castle. That is, sadly, gone, which is too bad, although for all I mourn it, I hadn't thought of it for years, not until I saw Jonah Hill standing by the old entrance in Night at the Museum II & I thought, "Hey! While I'm sweating my balls off, next time, eschewing the NGA cafe, let's!" and then, could not. Sad.
We were on the Metro, having just transferred to the Blue Line at Metro Center, and the train was full, so full, already -- not with people, but with some people & a bunch (bunch!) of their strollers + suitcases + wheeled carts -- so there were not seats & even if there had been, too obstacle-coursey! Fifille was tucked in next to me, a little, between the sneeze-guard and an empty stroller. Garçon & I were strap-hanging right in front of the door.
I asked Garçon to tell me if he knew Fed Center SW to be one stop or two after L'Enfant. I asked him because every image this child has ever seen is burned in his brain. He heard me ask him to Tell Me What You See, not Tell Me What You Know, which is fine, except that neither of us could see the map because of all the people between us & the opposite wall, and in his fruitless craning & twisting, he kept knocking me in the head with his elbow. He is six-feet tall, you know.
He does not know he is six-feet tall, you know. So I said to him, "Honey, it's fine, leave it. Plus, you are hitting me in the head."
"I am not!" he told me.
"Except: you are."
"Well," he started blameshifting & my blood started to simmer. "I didn't know that I was."
"That, Garçon, is why I told you." I said it & even as I sounded just as Alan Rickman did when he brought us the character of Severus Snape, just a nasty, artificially-silent, hissing sound, I congratulated myself on my obvious restraint.
Garçon opened his mouth to talk again & I shushed him, sharply, because there are times we should just all be happy to be silent.
(Mona died at this point in the retelling, at lunch, because "You were parenting on the Metro? The Met-Ro? The repressed, uptight Metro? Ahahaha!" Yes. Until it was time for the child to shut the fuck up.)
At the very next stop, Smithsonian, the car emptied -- whoooooosh -- every stroller, baby, seeing-eye dog, suitcase, wheeled conveyance, grocery cart: gone. (They were all together, I think they were.) We walked toward the front of the car to sit down, people were getting on, but it was the middle of the day, there would be plenty of seats & space, so I stopped to look at the map. We were two stops from Fed Center.
The children were sitting next to each other. In the pair of seats before them, a woman was sitting at the window. Here she is.
We'll get to the business of why we have her photo right away in this next section.
§ I was in the seat next to her, on the aisle, facing backward, to talk to Garçon, who was at the window, behind this woman. I was explaining to him very kindly, but not at all sweetly, the logistics of how it was he was knocking me in the head. Further, he needs to go forward being aware of how much space his body takes up in the world & blahblahblahblah (it was v boring to me, but so is parenting).
I explained to him that the reason I got upset was because he instantly denied my account of being hit in the head by him, that there is no reason for me to invent a story wherein he was knocking me in the head, while he was standing next to me, twisting around, with his elbow right next to my head. Since I wasn't angry with him when I let him know he was hitting me, why would he instantly refuse me, how does that make any sense?
The whole time Garçon & I were talking, this woman was so the fuck in our business. She kept craning her neck to look at the children, looking pointedly at me, sighing deeply, then turning every which way. I don't know if she thought we should be having this discussion elsewhere or if she just didn't want to hear it -- we weren't even as loud as anyone has ever been in the history of public transit -- or if she didn't think my engagement was appropriate or what. But she has her own mother, so she was not my focus.
Garçon said, to answer my question, "Well, maybe someone else was hitting you in the head & you just didn't know it was them & thought it was me."
I said to him (close yr eyes & hear this, because you've heard me say things like this to them before), "Honey, that is the stupidest thing you've said since the last time you said a stupid thing to me. Don't say things like that, ok? Just hear people when they correct you. Say 'I'm sorry, I didn't realize' & we can all go forward."
The chick was beside herself with the craning & the witnessing & the examining & the breathing. Garçon & I were finished talking, we were stopped at L'Enfant, so I took out my phone, held it up & snapped her photo.
I put it back into my purse & addressed the children in a pleased tone, meant to be heard, a great deal louder than my earlier dialogue with my son.
"This way, when we tell the story to Mona at lunch," I said, "and Sal + Mari at dinner, about the Lady on the Metro who Could Not Mind Her Business, we will have supporting documentation to which we will all refer."
Fifille was doing a little macarena dance in her seat, giving me thumbs-up while she played imaginary maracas with her fists. Garçon was amused, but embarassed for the woman, I could tell.
"OK, Mom, if you think we'll need that," he said, in a patiently resigned way.
"I think, honey," I told him sincerely, warmly, "that it will round out our narrative; you don't?"
I turned to the woman. The train was leaving L'Enfant Plaza & we had but minutes left with her. "Do you," I asked her, still quite warm," have anything you would like to say for yourself? I'd be happy to add it to our story, in fairness to you."
She said nothing, still as stone, frankly, since the first time we had shared one another's company. Would that she had always been so private, don't we all agree?
Mona & I have known each other forever & ever, but I think the way in which rumbling has become a family affair surprised even her.
"Mind your business or be our business," is what Fifille said, summing up the anecdote without pity.
"That's my mom!" Garçon chimed in, amiably.
I do wish a number of you could have been there to see the signs & sink down in your seat, hiding behind your muffler, from where you would have thoroughly enjoyed the show. It was pretty satisfying.
§ NMAI was good, as usual. They had yuca! Garçon had a plate of black beans which he loved, complimenting their delicious & mysterious flavoring. When he went back for seconds (because under the seductive influence of Aunt Mona, we together gave him $20 & told him to go back & go nuts. In a restaurant, I know. Dreams can come true.), he did not have the beans on his plate. A wary line-worker noted his order as he assembled it, thinking to ask if the child was vegetarian. The beans had meat in them.
Mona & I laughed, we couldn't help it. "That was what tasted so good, baby." Aww! Poor bunny rabbit!
We snacked & chatted until sundown & then took a quick look around. There are some great webcasts coming out of the museum this month, if you think to remember. We tumbled out onto Maryland Ave and look!
I always enjoy stumbling across the Capitol's vista. It is funny, when you live there, you barely notice it. But in my experience, no amount of endlessness in visitation diminishes the delight in seeing it from all its many angles.
§Our visit did have to come to an end, before Sal was quite ready. He feigned indignance & hurt feelings. Sorry, dude! Hockey tickets, all weekend!
I remembered the Crimson being a much better team last year, easily out-skating and out-shooting the Tigers. Not this year. (But they were gentlemen, with a crowd of orderly backers.)
Dartmouth was so good, so! good! They are tied for second in ECAC, so it was no shocker, but the first period was grim. In the end, they put six men out on the ice in desperation, to no avail.
Sweet! Great game. Hobey is so proud.
§Before Saturday's game, Fifille & I took a ride over to the maul. She is fussy about clothes & the Underpants Project was no exception. H&M made chonies she really liked when she was 5 or 6 -- it was during our heavy NYC phase -- and then they didn't make them for a while & now I say they do, but she says they are different. "Bitch, bitch, bitch," so much, about underwear! Then she outgrew them & tht was an endless well of dissatisfaction, the way that pants crawling up yr ass can be.
It suddenly occurred to me that she could probably fit into the smallest size at Victoria's Secret, and they would probably have a boyshort which met her exacting specifications. (Yes -- stretchy nylon, no writing, not weird.) I just want to say that it's bullshit that my eleven-year-old can fit into the smallest size at Victoria's Secret. That the smallest woman shopping at VS is only supposed to be as big as my eleven-year-old, who is not just any eleven-year-old, but the world's slenderest goddamn eleven-year-old. Ok, that's just bullshit.
We were absolutely out of our element at the Victoria's Secret store. It was a fun place to be with her. I think she already cut the "stupid bows" off of the pants. Then she said to me, before we left the store, "Will you carry this bag? It's embarrassing." Ahahaha!
§Then Sunday was Epiphany, the wise men made it to the adoration.
Mary fainted with gratitude for the reception of her baby.
You will recognize the ear from your holiday card. The entire Christmas-season decorating experience was all her doing. Everything was lovely.
The Wise Men hung out with their camel & a Homeland Security Officer over a trash-can fire, waiting on the North Star, or something.
The Kellies were the owners of the stable. Evidently, they told Joseph & Mary they could stay for a positive review on Yelp, because they are trying to open a bed & breakfast.
"I think they are from Brooklyn," is what Garçon had to offer.
§Then ::poof:: it was January 7, and everyone was back in the office & somehow now one child has an activity five days of every week -- unless it is a day where one child has a lesson and then they have two lessons, but together on another part of the day. One of those days is a Saturday. (It is not a morning, it is not the end times, relax, I love you most of all.)
I put the cold-turkey brakes (it feels so good to mix that metaphor) on eating garbage, and now I have to work out with my son as well as my daughter, but in a different way because one is ever on the Reformer increasing hours each week & the other needs more of a calisthenic effort (kettlebells, oof!)
Also since Jan 7, there was some spiritual counseling over which the Israeli presided, pleased & pompous; Selene is re-installed in her home; Fish had bad news for me & I want to see her so soon.
Alex always loves the post that ends with a recipe & so we are here, but I do not think there has ever been so much prose as a recipe's antecedent.
Elle's Ascetic Smoothie
So, this is a smoothie, right? None of the measurements are too specific, nor any of the ingredients, really. I usually just pull whatever I am in the mood for in whatever proportions I am in the mood for, from what Mari calls "The Fame Shelf" (I'm going to live forever). You can do whatever you like, but know this: green powder and cocoa powder (or cacao powder, if you are into that) are in a delicate dance. Remember in Dirty Dancing when Johnny had to work so hard to teach Baby the second dance sequence? Like that.
Soak 3 dates in 1.5c water + 1.5 c. milk (or "milk," I use unsweetened coconut) overnight. I use this Frigoverre pitcher. Pour into the blender jar & blend dates on "high." Turn blender to "stir," then open it up & pour in the dry ingredients. I measure it out the night before so I don't get distracted & fry an egg or worse, skip the whole thing.
- 2tbsp pea protein powder (I use Source Naturals or something)
- 2tbsp chia seeds
- 2tbsp cocoa powder
- 1tbsp green powder (I use Vitamineral Green)
- 1tbsp hemp seeds (I use Manitoba Hemp Hearts)
Then I blend it for about 3 or 5 minutes & drink it with a straw. Glug.
Now you know absolutely everything, if you need to know it, and if you don't get it, then don't feel bad: this is my world, mine with my friends, but I am ever willing to share parts of it, like Gwyneth Paltrow, ahahahaha! What I think everyone can actually realize is that I want a piece of chocolate so very much. À bientôt xoxox