as luke and i prepare for a small birthday gathering i spearheaded, i've decided to chill out (i cleaned a whole bathroom and am now exhausted) and post some pictures of growing huck and i from the other night.
this is mr. finn practicing for his west side story/dr. jekyll and mr. hyde mash-up audition.
tomorrow is luke's 26th birthday, which means, for about six months, he will be four whole years older than me - which is only important to mention because he seems to think this age difference is akin to those of hugh hefner and his eighteen-year-old child brides.
and, the only purpose of this post is to allow me to brag about my fabulous gift to him. i feel the need to boast because the times i've tried to do something thoughtful and get him a present he's really wanted (like, say, a particular book), i've always succeeded in getting something wrong (for instance, the wrong edition of the abovementioned book). too many of my gifts to him have ended up as donations to the library where he works, simply because it's nearly impossible to buy a present for the kind of person who gets everything he wants for himself (and luke is exactly that kind of person). therefore, imagine my glee when i presented him with little martin, a travel guitar luke discovered at the new "acoustics" room at the local best buy about five millennia ago and has wanted ever since. it's a gift he actually likes! i'm going to revel in this one because it's not likely to ever happen again.
the kittens, my veritable children, who i have raised from wee two-week-old squirmy screamers into teenaged pre-cats, are about five months old now. they get into lots of trouble and have an almost disturbingly keen ability to seek out and destroy any and all plastic bags (and their contents). tonight, on the eve of what may be their five-month birthday (what would be a bigger deal if a) celebrating (cat) birthdays every month wasn't insane and b) we knew when exactly they were born), i took a shower, which i can longer do with the door closed because abe goes absolutely ballistic outside a closed door if i'm behind it. while i showered, abe sat on top of the toilet lid frantically howling, despite being able to see me, as if he thought a giant loud, wet, glass-shielded monster was trying to eat the very sweet, loving girl who had gently hand-raised him and his brother since before they could see. this incredible outpouring of pure kitten devotion made me think that perhaps i should make some note of their notable anniversary, because they'd do it for me (if they had opposable thumbs and access to computers).
here are abe and huck, in baby form, with a phone (for scale, of course):
this, i believe, was taken on the first day we had the boys - just after they were delivered to us from the desert where luke's brother found them in a carport. they were so frightening. they were so small and fragile and not having human children, i'd never before experienced the absolute horror that comes with the realization that these new living things were totally dependent on me. i like to joke about it now that i've gotten past it, but last october, when i took a leave of absence from my job for a "care-taking emergency," i spent lots and lots of time crying hysterically by myself in the apartment, sure i was going to overfeed or underfeed the kittens or, worst of all, not keep precise enough notes on how many times i was able to get them to "eliminate" (one of the banes of my existence was holding their tiny, wailing little bodies over the equally tiny litter box, q-tip in hand, to try to stimulate them to poo). i initially fudged a little to get out of working in order to stay home to provide constant care to the cats (i'm sure my boss thought i was taking care of people), but as i slowly slipped into an insanity bred of stress and cabin fever, my weeks off from work became just as much about dealing with my post-college graduation/new kitten mother anxiety as they were about nursing the little orphans back to health. i started snapping out of it with each independent thing the kittens were able to do. when they used the litter box by themselves or began to lap milk from a dish (and later to eat solid food) or started to lope around like little hobbits on their wobbly legs, i felt better and better. i literally cried when they learned how to run, because i knew they were on their way to self-sufficiency. now, several months and a much better job later, i'm fine. and i can appreciate how adorable they are. plus, i think we're bonded for life, after the harrowing experience of raising (and being raised by) a member of another species. they sleep on my face at night and are like little shadows that trail me around the house. i've actually started feeling sorry for our two older cats, who could never get as much attention, if only because they're respectful enough not to try to suffocate me while i'm in bed.
never in my life did i think i'd be a cat person. but i also never thought i'd feed little clawed babies milk replacement formula in miniature bottles while checking the consistency of their excrement, so i guess anything's possible.
i just finished eating a completely homemade meal that, hopefully, will mark the beginning of a less disgusting way of life for us. i spent about sixteen hours this afternoon making potato and pea samosas with basmati rice, and when i say sixteen hours, i almost literally mean it. i'm not the most graceful person in the world, so the introduction of intense heat and sharp knives into my world makes me very nervous. thus, i work very, very slowly in the kitchen. i think it took me about a half hour to wash, peel and dice three potatoes, a carrot, a stick of celery and an onion, which means i won't be winning a top chef quickfire challenge any time soon. i wouldn't have minded taking so long (as it probably saved me from slicing myself) if it weren't for luke, who surfaced in the kitchen a few times to ask rapid-fire questions about the recipe, saying things like, "does that dough have to rise?" and "are you sure it has to be in the oven for thirty minutes?" however, whining aside, it was worth it, because we are both pleasantly full now and don't have to worry about the health consequences of eating powdered beans at taco bell. yipee! plus, i made something uber delicious all by myself - no help from packages or other people, for, sadly, perhaps the first time ever.
in order to accomplish this fantastical dinner, i had to go to the market and load up on fresh vegetables, which makes always makes me feel very superior - i love loading a ton of produce onto the conveyor belt at the ralph's check-out because it makes me feel healthier than everyone else. i get the same feeling just by standing inside whole foods. anyway, when i was at the store today, i had an interesting realization: every single supermarket manager i've ever seen has looked exactly the same. like, every one i've seen in my entire life, in every grocery store i've been into. each and every one of them is a middle-aged man of confusing ancestry who smiles too much and likes to ask if i'm finding what i'm looking for. it's gotten to the point with these identical managers that i actually think i'm insane sometimes, with part of the psychosis being that i see the same *maybe* half-asian man whenever i happen to be standing near a frozen food aisle.
when i got back to the apartment after the marketing, luke had hooked up his brand-new video camera, which is about the size of a soda can and takes really awesome pictures. he insisted on "testing" it as i unloaded the groceries (which i must do really, really quickly these days as the kittens have decided that they love flinging themselves head-first into bags and eating the contents). i hate being in pictures or videos - i essentially melt when there's a lens on me. cameras make me super self-aware, a feeling i don't like. knowing this, luke proceeded to analyze my every move (before and after he replayed the video) and razz me for playing to the camera, which annoyed me for two reasons: 1) teasing, by definition, is annoying; and 2) he was implying that i'm not always as charming and hilarious and self-deprecating as i was on that bit of digital record (which was later unceremoniously deleted).
friday night, realizing that we, miracle of miracles, were still not tired even though we'd stayed up way past our bedtime, luke and i drove to westwood, ordered too much deliciousness from in 'n out and watched zoolander as we stuffed our pieholes. of this, i am not ashamed, despite the fact that it was super late and the food was super fatty and that we made a pact not two days before to stop eating so much crap all the time. in fact, it filled me with a kind of glee i haven't felt since i was living in the dorms in college. i didn't have the typical rebellious college experience, with lots of booze and sex. in fact, there was no sex and (nearly) zero booze. so, to compensate for the fact that i was wound too tight to go to frat parties (which i deemed way too crowded and sweaty and grope-y after finding myself at a "hell" themed fiesta my first year), i found joy in doing slightly less revolutionary things like eating rice and bean burritos and french fries from an on-campus restaurant at 2 am.
despite being so excited about my greasy haul on friday, being in westwood, so close to campus and surrounded by current UCLA students, made me a little sad. because i didn't ever go to the one bar in town and because my select few drunken escapades occurred in secluded areas where i knew i couldn't get into too much trouble, i don't really have any particularly "college" memories of school. add that to the fact that UCLA is incredibly massive and thus nearly impossible to make a mark on, and i start to feel like college was just a place i walked around and studied in for a few years.
in other news, i'm insanely excited about some crafty things i've started (and won't discuss, because the projects, along with talk of bedtimes and food being my one college rebellion, will embarrass me). i'm not a particularly artistic person, so making tiny trinkets makes me feel like i'm creating, in pretty much the only way i can. i just wish the closest joann's (where i procure the items necessary for my embarrassing projects) wasn't such a total hellhole. it's on lincoln in santa monica, inside what appears to be a former warehouse. the place is totally enormous and everything inside has the washed out look of the outside of a sun-baked house or a picture from the 70s. even the cash registers and counters are nondescript and depressing. possibly most upsetting, though, is the fact that i have never once been a line less than fifteen minutes long (and have never been behind more than two people). having worked more retail jobs than i would like to remember, i can fully appreciate how much having that type of job sucks. however, i still did my job quickly and well, which is just about all i ask of anyone else.
so, good news: i did not get violently ill. instead, i grew a persistent, obnoxious cough, which means i think i have the black lung, pop. cough, cough. typically, i'd be nervous about having such a terrible, lingering respiratory issue, but i'm trying not to let my hypochondria spin out of control all the time these days. therefore, i will track whether or not i recover in time and if i don't, i will suck it up and go to a doctor.*
also, it's the weekend! after weeks and weeks of working at the school, i still relish being able to leave on friday and have two whole days to myself, like most normal working people. when i was working in the "baby store," i constantly got jerked around, and i learned to expect my hours to be changed weekly, daily or even throughout a single work day (the store was independently owned, which allowed my boss more freedom to jamble her employees' lives). now, though, one of the great pleasures of my life is to have an entire saturday off.
one of the kids at school has started calling me a "sarcastic sass face," mostly because i used my incredible wit several times recently to snap him out of a fruit roll-up induced playground rage. i don't mind my new nickname at all, and i think i actually (not so) secretly love it. it's pretty amazing what taunting me with this name does to him, too. he's almost never sad or surly or upset anymore because he's almost constantly jumping around in my field of vision singing "sass face," which works the double magic of making my job easier and melting my heart.
lastly, i've spent the last two hours listening to country music blasting down from the apartment above us and beer-fueled belches coming from our new next-door neighbors' patio. i hate what this apartment complex has become. it used to be all quiet single loner types and it's suddenly gotten really aggressively nascar.
*among other things, graduating from college made me realize just how good a perpetual freak-out like me had it when i had a student health center at my beck and call. even with insurance, doctor bills are insane - meaning no unnecessary visits for me.
i am fighting off a doozy of a cold right now - i'm popping cold-eeze every three hours as directed and am sending all my positive energy into the universe. i'm refusing to get all-out sick and disgusting because i was just sick two weeks ago. this illness extravaganza has graced me with its presence because i'm working in a kindergarten classroom, where sick children wipe their noses with their hands and put their pencils in their mouths. if i'm to trust all the people i work with at the school, all this exposure to disease will eventually make my immune system so resilient that i will basically be made of steel. until then, though, i advise you to buy lots of stock in zinc supplements, because i'll be tearing through packages like a madwoman.
illnesses aside, i love my job. the kids, while crazy and stubborn and generally inclined not to listen to me, are adorable and clever and, most importantly, five. i love children, which i think might actually make it a little more difficult for me in class. i'm too nice and silly sometimes, which means when i try to get them to focus on their work with my "stern teacher voice," they don't take me seriously.
luke and i ordered in brazilian food tonight, marking the seventeen millionth time this month we've had take-out instead of finding something delicious to eat here at home. this must stop, partially because it's expensive and mostly because it's disgusting to be eating so much restaurant food. i've also gotten a little wary about giving over the responsibility for my food preparation to dirty strangers i don't know. my newfound inability to trust restaurants has been growing for a while, and culminated last night, when luke and i went to dinner with my grandparents at a relatively well-known establishment on wilshire blvd. being vegetarians, luke and i have a pretty hard time finding things on menus, so it's always exciting when a restaurant offers lots of delicious, meat-free options. luke immediately sprang for the gardenburger, which, when it came to the table, was topped with roasted bell pepper and what appeared to be some type of mushroom. after tasting the "mushroom," luke determined it was definitely some kind of sea-dwelling creature, like an oyster. after conferring with the waiter, we discovered that this place regularly garnishes their veggie patties with anchovies. that was about the stupidest thing i've heard in a long time, and i hear a lot of stupid things.
also, this afternoon, baja* put chicken in my veggie burrito. gross.
it's time to start making my own food.
*i haven't had a home-cooked meal in a very, very long time.