Sunday, February 28, 2010

Manuel just left for China and thing 1 and 2 have been up since 6 giving him helpful travel advice including trying to get him to bring chopsticks just in case. This is a reconnaissance mission for our sabbatical next year. I have to admit that when I told him that since he’d been to Rome with me three times he could pick where we went that I was assuming he would return to some of his more recent haunts like Argentina, Brazil, or Costa Rica. A part of China I’ve never heard of on the border of Vietnam and Laos where you have to bring your own coffee did not cross my mind. But this is a man who spent a year in the jungle of Borneo in the 80’s and considers anything with electricity to be urban so this should not be a surprise. The kids sent him with a list of questions including things like how many vehicles does it take to get there, how will we speak to people who speak Chinese, where will we go to school? (the local language is actually Dai) Rebecca’s first question was “Is there a job for a music professor there” The music professor will hopefully have already finished her book by the time we go and will be gleefully editing while watching elephants and other wild life.. His suitcase contains peanut butter, annie's mac and cheese, and brownie mix for the Americans there.

Meanwhile we are in heavy Purim prep here. I tried to get Rebecca to be Vashti instead of Esther. The fact that Vashti has long been a favorite of Jewish feminists because she refused a royal decree from her husband to dance naked in front of his friends and make herself a sex object did not impress Rebecca who sees nothing wrong with dancing naked anywhere. So Queen Esther it is. Jonathan has laid out an elaborate Richard the first costume which I assume connects because of the whole military prowess thing but I’m not sure. Eli wants to be a "piwate" we're actually not totally sure if this is the kind of piwate that flies planes or that rides boats and is a bad guy. Lately most of his get ups involve cowboy boots and pharaoh hats so we'll see. He informed us the other day that on purim we celebrate cookies so clearly the nuances of the occasion didn’t quite come through for him.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

purim and blood

Somehow life has gotten to busy even to write much on the blog. I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been getting so much scholarship done that I can’t be bothered with the trivial business of the every day. Progress is being made in that sort of slow tick tock kind of way. And with the use of two computers, three monitors, and a giant video magnifier I finally managed to sort through some Vatican xeroxes all for two nice but very short quotations about a Zingaresca stealing balls (as in the kind Castrati don’t have) And in the quest to remake myself as a TJ expert I have now fully mastered American periodization schemes and know all about the Jacobian revolt. I can also under pressure explain the difference between reformation, reconstruction, and restoration only one of which has concerned me up until now. And in music 101 Mozart and Beethoven have both been taught even with a keyboard that can not play an in tune triad and as it turns out has 63 not 66 keys—3 A flats are missing.

On Monday I got a bit of good news and my extremely supportive husband took this as an excuse to open a delicious bottle of prosecco we’d had in the fridge for a while. Sipping prosecco while watching olympics with the kids sounds good until you end up in a fight with your three year old over it. “I need my pwosecco” And then I found myself embroiled in an “it’s mine” battle which I handled with dictatorial efficiency by taking my prosecco glass running up the stairs and leaving said husband with screaming baby. What kind of a three year old steals his mother’s prosecco? He’s also a kid who demanded that Manuel “stop the car so I can pick my nose a little bit” and got himself mentioned on a local blog for his appearance at the Chinese new year celebration in a power ranger suit with red cowboy boots and a pharaoh hat. He trotted out most of the costume for the preschool purim celebration so I guess it is truly multicultural.

Speaking of Purim, last year we made Hammantaschen with Tali and Benny so the kids decided that this is a tradition of biblical portions and that we always do this on the weds before purim. They informed me of this weds morning. Since I usually meet the bus on weds this didn’t seem like a big problem though I did have to rush home to make dough wondering along the way why every Jewish holiday seems to be another nail in the coffin of my book but whatever….The real excitement involved Joanthan and his buddy Iian doing a sort of dance/battles on the way home and Jonathan somehow falling head first on the concrete such that his entire head was covered in blood. He started screaming, Iian was shocked and upset pointed out that it was not poor Iian's fault but that if they continued to sort of shimmy battle on ice someone would fall. Jonathan was his usual charm bucket in the fate of medical trauma and by the time we entered the house I got the usual "woman get your hands off of me" "I am covered with blood like a sacrificial lamb.” Rebecca meanwhile had started screaming as well and announcing "if anything happens to that boy i just don’t' know what I'll do. followed by a rather gleeful ":i don't think he has a concussion like I did" There was for the record no serious injury just a lot of blood, a scrape, a bruise and a wounded ego. So while Jonathan sulked on the couch the other four kids made hamantaschen which involved lots of lour and gooey jam. Somewhere in the middle of this Eli started making his own hamantaschen and took some dough, water, flour and chocolate chips over to his kitchen rolled them out got a knife and cooked them in his oven--yes the knife was a giant kitchen knife and we are still finding bits of dough all over the place. When he was done with that he apparently found the van keys. This we only worked out when Manuel and kids were rushing out the door to drop me at yoga. The evening concluded with the writing of the music 101 exam a week early because one of my students is representing Guatemala in the Davis cup.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Day......

Is it inappropriate to dedicate a yoga practice to the yellow school bus which will indeed arrive on Park Street tomorrow morning—two hours late but whatever? I’ve been fantasizing about this yoga class since 6:55 when I wrote Lydia to see if it was occurring. Here are just a few highlights from snow day number 1001 which I had the pleasure of enjoying with my children today. It is in fact my teaching day but the snow gods have bestowed so many snow days on Mon and Weds which are the province of super Dad that it became clear that if I wanted to come home to three children and a husband all in one piece it was worth imposing on the TA’s to show music 101 the Amadeus movie. (Thank you Maria and Lannier) I practically shoved super Dad out the door today out of self preservation, not altruism. My professional activities for today consisted of rescheduling meetings which we’ve all been doing for three weeks now hitting reply to all on an email thereby insulting colleagues from 5 departments. Note to self do not respond to emails before 7 in the morning during snopocalpyse especially if you have a temptation towards phrases like patriarchal structure of this arcane institution. And also try not to write to people in French which might inspire to use a slightly inappropriate salutation which is also insulting.

This morning’s yoga practice was not exactly restful. Rebecca and Jonathan at 3 loved to do exercise videos with me and did a lot of supportive clapping and cute imitating. Give a militarized second son a yoga video and it’s a whole different situation. Inhale deeply is quickly turned into “I impale your booty mommy” Who knew that the phrase “surrender to the breath” could turn in to “Suwenda bad guys I am a clone warrior” And yes if you are to do a proper warrior pose it’s important to have a hat that doubles your height, a sparkly cape and a flaccid sword to wave about. Rebecca spent the first ten minutes of the video looking for a shirt “with a bra in it so my boobs wont move around” and the second asking all kinds of questions about Rodney Yi. Then she commenced the most aggressive adjustments I’ve ever had. Her finale involved a rousing game of crawl under Mommy’s downward dog. So again thank you Lydia for a real Yoga treat this evening.

I know that every parent and child in cville is at this point loosing their mind and that those people who fantasize about bonding snow days and hot coco don’t actually stay home and have forgotten how cold and wet snow is after a few days. But I am completely sure that my kid needs more than any other to be back in school. For the last 48 hours Jonathan has been literally running laps around the couch which would be fine if it didn’t also involve running past his brother, hitting him on the head, and then running up to time out and slamming the door. This is a child who needs structure. We had lunch today with two other mothers and a total of 8 kids and it was pretty clear that mine was the worst behaved in the bunch—and he had some stiff competition. Lunch came not a moment to soon since Rebecca and Maya, another fahionista six year old, had completed 98% of the process involved in ordering a pair of $425 red stiletto boots from Zappos. Note to parents of first graders make sure you never turn on one click settings. (I already knew that thankfully) And Dad if you’re reading this stop now but we did drive to the downtown mall old school style with five kids and two adults in a Subaru station wagon—it actually until we saw a cop walking by us, seemed less dangerous than walking with tantruming children on ice. (After about 30 seconds of hesitation I flashed back to zipping around rome in taxi cabs and decided we were good to go)

After days of keeping very strict limitations on TV when five kids asked if they could watch TV the answer was an enthusiastic yes, please take your places on the couch and yes you can have cookies while watching. I did in between episodes make them do jumping jacks and sun salutations. I used TV time to clean up the 180 vehicles ElI played with today. I’m not making that number up. I purchased for Chanukah at CVS a plastic vat if 180 vehicles for $9 and forgot to give it to him. I whipped it out today and let’s just say you get what you pay for…..

So at 9:00 today I went so far as to open up my backpack and make a nice neat pile of articles and notes for an article I need to revise by at least a month ago. Needless to say nothing brilliant has emerged just yet but thanks to the yellow but I’m sure the juices will flow tomorrow.

Monday, February 8, 2010


First in the long standing trailer versus Bonnie battle the trailer is up two. On the way to music 101 I slipped on the ice in the doorway and fell on my butt. Yup metal and ice make a particularly treacherous combo. Then on way to seminar I got hit in the forehead with a falling icicle. I’m not making this up. The irony of the second injury is that my post lunch stupor was rudely interrupted by some facilities guys knocking icicle off the roof so they wouldn’t fall on people’s head. They just didn’t get to my side of the rig. The minor head injury may have been what prompted me again to remind my grad students of how little I know about the subject matter of the seminar and suggest that we google a few things. I also confessed that I spent most of the day reminding myself to say reconstruction and not reformation, which comes much more easily to me. Oh and I asked another student to keep my vigil with the cville schools website during class.(I was vigilant enough yesterday that I actually saw the announcement change) I can already see where these evaluations are going. However I did learn that one of my grad students made the same earth shattering discovery that I did. Both of us noticed that one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite composers the well known Thomas Arne wrote an opera called Thomas and Sally. Both of us were convinced that we had solved the whole Sally Hemmings dilemma and that if only people paid more attention to opera everything would make more sense. We were both wrong---the opera was a couple of decades to early. But at least I’m not the only one who fell for it.

I need also to thank my friends Liz and Ellen for their technological victories last night during the super bowl. Ellen got us out of a true super bowl tragedy involving a giant black box that appeared every time the super bowl came out. Amazingly the black box did not appear during the entire puppy bowl which the children had been anticipating and talking about all day. After my calling the cable companies and various husbands sitting on the couch pushing the volume button on the remote multiple times to make it go away Ellen actually approached the machine and fixed it the old fashioned way—by pushing buttons ON THE TV. She used her google talents to determine that the closed captioning was on. Liz meanwhile used a pen to fix our disposal. Eli I believe had thrown his banana peel into the sink which the disposal did not like and Liz after sticking her fingers in down the disposal to pick it out then figured out how to use a pen to push reset. (Note when I stuck my fingers in there another friend yelled “no you’re a musician you need your fingers.) I was so happy about the disposal that I almost gave her a giant kiss but given power outages, kids swaps, and slumber parties we're already heading too close to some sort of incestuous commune and I kept my hands to myself. (Rebecca spent one night in bed with Kiren and one evening in the bath with Reid)

And yes the cville schools are closed again tomorrow. That means that in the last ten days the children have actually gone to school for only two. The general consensus from parents seems to be shoot me now. Even the kids are getting sick of all of this togetherness. I came home to Eli yelling at his brother “I am the writefull owna of this litesaba you get out a my face…..”

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snowpocalypse: Booze, TV, and Trash Bags in Charlottesville

I entered this snowpocalypse needing an attitude adjustment. The kids have not had a full week of school since new years and the consequences of this involves wrestless children and in my case extreme anciness about lack of scholarship time. So I did the logical thing which was stop at the liquor store with a detailed list compiled by Manuel and Staley our babysitter. They sent me the list as text messages which involved me in the liquor store on Main Street squinting at the texts trying to find the appropriate bottles of booze. Although I have a phone marketed for senior citizens with bad eyes it’s not quite big enough for details. Consequently I got myself carded which of course made my month. I looked at the guy and laughed until I realized I actually don’t have ID. Mine bit the dust during my Miami strip search. So after digging around in my back pack while some already drunk old men waited behind me I located my passport and headed walking home with a giant bag of booze. Our first night was rough with all five of us at each others throats. Ww had a friend over for dinner and scared her away before desert when the boys started fighting miserably over play mobiles and Manuel and I started making all kinds of useless threats. On the plus side I managed to fix the TV remote which no one else could do including the 30 year old husband of our babysitter—the demographic that knows how to fix technology. I did this by actually calling the help line and running up and downstairs between various receivers. But I can tell you that the entire neighborhood should be relieved that we have a working large TV. Not only can we watch the superbowl tomorrow but we were able to experience a family viewing of the very delicious Star Wars Clone Wars cartoon. (Rebecca rejected this half way through and went upstairs to watch project runway)

Yesterday got off to a good start when I came down to find Manuel holding a rolling pin and making cinnamon rolls. I think most mothers of small children would agree that there’s not much sexier than a husband with a rolling pin and a cleaning project. We decided to spend some of this shut in time on massive house cleaning. Our house still suffers the extreme disorder of having moved in January of 2007 when Eli was four weeks old, I was starting to teach a week later, and Manuel was commuting to a job out of town three days a week. Needless to say despite the help of many friends and family members we’ve never quite gotten the situation under control. Manuel did a great job on the family room and the 8000 vehicles we seem to own. The most satisfying part of the clean up for me involved SIX GARBARAGE bags from Rebecca’s “art center” It’s true that one of the consequences involved a full blow up from her later as she discovered some of the historic masterworks that had bee sent to the other world. Lest anyone think I don’t encourage my daughters talents, I’m not talking here about any of her gorgous paintings I’m talking about things liked an egg carton with a dot on it, or a ziplock bag full of packing peanuts and toothpicks entitled “mixed media”

Our prodigal babysitter who was gone for much of the previous snopocalypse also has returned which gave us some work time so Manuel and I hiked to the one local coffee shop that was open and met a friend and two of my students whom I had to meet with. They are my conference committee for the upcoming TJ and music conference this spring They are also I believe the worlds leading experts on Thomas Jefferson and Music at this point with even a publication under their belts. Please check out the fine new appendix to the Jefferson and Music Monograph recently released by Monticello Press. But we had business to discuss including drawing up a schedule and thinking about the food options. I’m a believer in conferences with breathing room and eating time. I think TJ would actually like the idea of a couple of music grad students, a music professor, a French professor and an environmental science professor sitting around a coffee shop table doing work in a blizzare. I incidentally actually did some scholarship which was a miracle. Though I do at times wonder how it is that a feminist scholar of early music and Tori Amos finds herself so immersed in such a patriarchal figure but whatever……

So today is another day. I was jolted awake by one of our occasional flowers in the attack moments when Rebecca bounded on top of Jonathan who had already crawled into our bed. Jonathan announced unceremoniously “hey shouldn’t this go the other way…..” I can only hope this did not mean what it sounded like to their shocked and appalled parents. I’m off for a morning ski!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Snow Days.....

I know that many people snow day fantasies of delicious family time curled up in front of a fire drinking hot chocolate and building snow men. It sometimes works out that way. And indeed last Saturday felt like that. But by the second school snow day almost no one I know was feeling that love. My friend Anna said she was so at the end of her wits that a mammogram seemed amazing—a nice quiet space decorated in pink where they talk softly to you. And if you get in a traffic jam it takes even longer. Eli has absorbed the fact that “we don’t go to school in the winter.” And I do love cuddling with my kids and I understand that the soon to be seven year olds may be outgrowing this but by the end of today I found myself saying “if one more person touches my boob I will become violent” We had a complicated kid switch going on with another first grade boy and Manuel had already by the time I got home instituted a policy of star wars reprive.. As in you may not speak about star wars for 20 minutes and if you so much as utter the name Yoda or mention clone wars the clock restarts. This afternoon’s snow day activity involved at the three first graders request antiquing. They took me to some store on the mall I’d never been too where they knew about a back room full of all kinds of bizarre ritual objects. They were particularly attracted to the peace pipes, weapons and various statue icons looking things. We stayed there for 20 minutes discussing various goddesses before we headed to the cville art gallery. Jonathan explained that while he doesn’t like to do art he really likes to look at it. And pretentious 1 2 and 3 talked around saying things like “hmm this is really interesting” “this must have taken a lot of imagination” “I think the materials here are very unique” They took a card for their favorite artist and plan to call him up next week.

Meanwhile I’ve assigned my husband the environmental scientist the task of figuring out what this is all about. He was in a meeting with a few colleagues when I beeped in on the cell phone with tirades like “what happened to global warming it was working for me. What do you mean it’s going to snow 20 inches this weekend? How can the state climatologist be out of the office today of all days”

Monday is my long teaching day so Manuel was on primary kid duty. This did allow my most lively music 101 of the year in which I made a deal with the students that if they explained Taylor Swift to me I’d explain Monteverdi to them. Thank goodness it was Monteverdi day because the snow allowed for about ten minutes of preparation. But I’d say that if after writing a book on the dude and teaching this class multiple times I can’t teach Monteverdi in my sleep I deserve to be fired. As for Taylor Swift I learned basically that she’s hot and she speaks to their deepest darkest feelings. It was I think our liveliest discussion yet. They seem unbothered by the whole out of tune thing.

The other exciting news around town is that one of my friends finished her second book. I have a theory which is that in a collective only one person can finish a book at a time as it is such an unpleasant and overwhelming endeavor. So now that one has finished that leave room for more to come. Stay tuned for more second books out of Charlottesville!