Ramblings from the Gryphon Rose

Monday, October 25, 2004

An old habit renewed

When I was growing up, we used to go garage-saling every weekend. We’d get the paper and open it to the classifieds. Then my sisters and I would read out the ads to my dad, who would tell us if the addresses were too far away. We’d mark all the ones near enough, making sure to only mark the ones being held that day. All this while eating breakfast. Then we’d pile into the car and go from sale to sale. We didn’t need anything, but it was fun, and we often got small things or books or whatever.
This weekend, my friend Jean and I went garage-saling. I have a specific purpose this time around—I’m looking for furniture for the house. I’ve been to garage sales since I was a kid, of course, particularly during college—we furnished not only our rooms but the rooms of many friends with the pieces we found on those weekends. But it’s been a while, in part because our apartment is already over-full and we can’t fit much extra. Every time I go garage-saling, it brings me back to those youthful weekends, and the fun we had, traipsing from sale to sale. Even on the weekends we didn’t buy anything, we had a good time. And when we did manage to snag some bargain, we were thrilled. So far, last weekend, I managed to pick up a kitchen table, a rug, a secretary, a pair of end tables, a nice leather chair, and an old school desk. Plus a book and a pair of candle tapers. But I think it was the memories that made the trip really worth it.

Two years and more

Last week got a bit busy, so I didn't get a chance to post as much. One of the things that made it busy was my wedding anniversary. As of last Wednesday, Jen and I have been married for two years. I can’t recall the exact moment when I stopped thinking of her as my girlfriend and started thinking of her as my wife—it took a while after the wedding for that to sink in. I’m not sure at what point I stopped feeling like the ring on my left ring finger wasn’t comfortable, and started feeling odd when I wasn’t wearing it. And I certainly cannot remember when I stopped thinking of Jen as someone I liked to spend time with, and started thinking of her as someone who was integral to my existence. But all of these things are true, and I would not change them for anything.
That is not to say that the last two years have been perfectly smooth. Of course not. We’ve fought, we’ve argued, we’ve disagreed. But we’ve always gotten past that, and I think we’ve gotten closer since the wedding, something I didn’t really think was possible (we had been together for years before that, after all). Someone asked me once, not long ago, how I thought the marriage was going. I thought it was an odd question. How is it supposed to go? And does it have a destination in mind? I don’t think so. I think marriage is a state of being, not some transitive phase. People ask how your job is going, or a project, but they ask you how your life IS. This is the same thing. My marriage is good—and it’s not going anywhere.
Happy anniversary, Jen. I’m so glad we’re in this together.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Truly a toddler now

Adara’s been determined to walk for months now. She had the stepping part down, but just couldn’t find the balance to walk on her own. My aunt got her a little Fisher-Price walker, which Adara absolutely loves, and she goes zooming around the apartment with it. The first few days, she got upset whenever she ran into something, because she had to wait for one of us to turn the walker around for her. But then she figured out how to haul it around on her own, and there was no stopping her.
This weekend, Adara finally found her balance. She’s still a little wobbly, but she can now walk on her own. Yesterday she apparently walked all the way around the living room, and at another point she followed Jen into the kitchen under her own power and on her own two feet.
I was really busy this weekend, with the wardrobe and then finishing up a book, which meant I didn’t have a lot of time to sit and hang out. So I missed Adara’s walking around Sunday night—Jen called me, but Adara got so excited when she heard me coming out of the office that she dropped onto her butt and just sat there squealing at me. But last night, after giving her dinner, Jen carried Adara into the living room and set her down in the center of the floor. Jen and I both sat down on the futon, facing her. And then we told her to come see us. And she did.
Thus far in my life, there have been few things as exciting as seeing my little girl, a huge grin on her face, walking across the room to me.
After that, she chased the cat all around the living room. She wobbled a bit, fell on her butt a few times, but got back up each time. And she’s fast, too! I don’t think Bleys is all that happy about this—it means he’s got to work harder to avoid her pulling his tail or grabbing his fur (though he is still very patient with her). But Jen and I are thrilled, and Adara is overjoyed.
Now we just have to get those platforms in place, so that we can raise everything in the apartment above the four-foot mark.

The wardrobe that almost wasn't

Well, Saturday was interesting.
I found a really nice wardrobe for sale on Craig’s List last week. Big solid wood piece, with three big drawers and then two doors above concealing three shelves and another small drawer. Really good price, too: $50. So I contacted the woman selling it, and told her I wanted it.
It was in Queens, too—actually, not far at all from the house. But of course we’re not in there yet, so I needed to bring it to my storage locker instead. And to do that, I needed a truck. None of my friends here had one, so I wound up renting one for the day.
Friday night, we got together with a bunch of our friends, as usual. Mook and Lois, bless them, had offered to help me move the wardrobe, and Lois crashed on our futon so that she could head out with me in the morning. We trekked out to the U-Haul place—fun in and of itself, since it’s way the hell out in the booneys—and got the truck. Nice how U-Haul doesn’t bother to tell you about the mandatory insurance, which more than doubles the cost of the rental. Then we drove over to the woman’s apartment, and Mook met us there.
We went upstairs—this is one of those nice older buildings, and she lived on the second floor, up a narrow flight of stairs with one narrow landing—and got our first look at the piece itself. It really is nice, very solid and well-built. And amazingly heavy. We’re talking over three hundred pounds here. And just the three of us.
Getting the wardrobe onto the appliance dolly I’d rented was easy enough, as was wheeling it out to the stairway. Getting it down to the landing was a lot harder—I was up top on the dolly handles, Lois and Mook were bracing it from below. Then we reached the landing—and discovered we didn’t have enough room to turn the thing so that it could go down the rest of the stairs. We spent half an hour trying different things, and finally accepted that this wasn’t going to work. It was the dolly’s fault, too—its wheels added just a little too much width to maneuver properly. We’d have to get rid of it.
That meant hauling the wardrobe back up to the top of the stairs, though. Then we pulled the dolly out, and partially slid, partially dropped the monster back down to the landing. We wound up having to back it up two steps before we could turn it, still, but finally we got it around the corner and heading down that last flight. I handed the dolly to Mook over the rails, and we had it at the bottom when we finally got the wardrobe down. Then we wheeled it out of the building, down the few short steps, and over to the truck.
Which, it turned out, didn’t have a ramp. Which meant hauling the wardrobe up into the truck by brute strength—Lois and I tugging, Mook pushing from below. Only a kind stranger lending a hand allowed us to get that thing in.
Then we drove over the storage place, parked right near the steps up to my locker, hauled the wardrobe, still on the dolly, up the steps, and wheeled it down the hall.
I’d been debating which of two places I ultimately wanted to put this thing. One option was to take it upstairs to the small bedroom that would be doubling as my office. The other was to put it in the basement somewhere, perhaps in that little area with the laundry. Now that we’ve had to get it up stairs once, I’m thinking basement. Definitely basement. I can just wheel it through the back door, no stairs involved. Ever.
Lois, Mook and I all have bruises from Saturday, still. Mine are on my upper arms, theirs are mainly on their upper legs, where we each caught the weight of the wardrobe. It is a nice piece, and even after the exorbitant fee for the U-Haul it’s a good deal. I’m just really lucky I’ve got good friends. I bought them lunch afterward, but I don’t think that’s really enough to thank them properly. Maybe they want a nice wardrobe?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The year rolls round again . . .

I turned 35 today.
Not such a bad thing, really. I don’t feel any different than I did yesterday, of course, and 35 is still considered moderately young by today’s standards. I have a full decade before my supposed mid-life crisis.
Last year, I decided to look at my year as a whole, and see if I’d done anything with it. I thought I’d do the same this year, just for my own edification. So here we go:
Negatives this year:
My mother died. That’s far and away the worst thing that’s happened this year, and my whole family is still reeling from the loss, particularly because it was sudden and unexpected.
Clockworks has floundered. That’s really my own fault. I just haven’t had the time to do as much with it lately, particularly with all of the other work I’ve had. We are still selling books, but we’d hoped to put out several supplements this year, and right now we’ll be lucky to manage one.
Slammed doors. For whatever reason, it became abundantly clear to me that one possible avenue toward writing novels was forever closed to me. I’m not sure why—I’ve certainly had several friends sally through that same door over the past few years. But it seems to be blocked to me. I have my suspicions as to the cause, but I can’t prove it, of course. It’s not that I care that much about this particular avenue, either. It’s mainly that I devoted a lot of time and effort these past two or three years to getting my foot in that door, and to have it slammed on me makes all that a waste.
The usual. A few colds and such, a few potential projects that fell through. A few fights with friends and loved ones. Nothing serious.

Positives this year:
I got a full-time job. This is my first full-time job ever, which may seem a little weird but I’ve been a freelancer for a long time. I like where I work, I like my co-workers, I like the work itself, and I REALLY like the job security and the benefits. I even have my own office.
I bought a house. Well, just about. I was really hoping to close before my birthday, but it looks like we’re going to miss that by about a week. Still, all the house-hunting and all the paperwork took place before, so I feel justified in saying I bought it during my thirty-fourth year.
I sold my first novel. Not where I thought I would (see the bit about the slammed door, above), but it’s a very cool situation, and I’m psyched about the book itself.
I got to watch my daughter go from an infant to a toddler. Adara has taken up most of Jen’s time this past year, and much of mine, and we’re both thrilled.
The usual. Hanging out with friends and, whenever possible, family. Having some fun. Getting yet more freelance work—including several where people contacted me to offer me the project, which is always nice. Making a few new friends along the way. Spending time with my wife—and finally getting used to thinking of her in those terms.

All in all, I’d have to say that it’s been a very good year for me. But it’s weird, and almost frightening, to think about how different things were for me just two years ago. When I was thirty-two, going on thirty-three, I was single, lived in an apartment, was a frustrated novelist, and freelanced for a living. Now, having just turned thirty-five, I’m married and a dad, I’m (about to be) a homeowner, I have a full-time job, and I’ve got a contract for my first novel. In those terms, it seems like I’m a completely different person. I’m not, of course, but from outside it might seem that way. And certainly, when I meet new people, they must see me very differently than they would have two years ago.
I don’t know that I’m really doing anything for my birthday this year, either, in part due to those changes. I used to go out with friends on my birthday, for dinner and a movie of my choosing. But Jen can’t go with me, since one of us has to watch Adara, and we’ve got things to do to get ready for closing, and because I work all day now I have to do my other projects at night, and so it looks like my birthday may wind up being a quiet night at home. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. And perhaps, after a few things have quieted down here, I’ll get people together for a belated birthday bash, like David and I did last year. If that happens, I’ll let you know, and those of you who are close enough are certainly invited to attend.
In the meantime, it’s back to work for this slightly older, probably not much wiser guy.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Other topics

Thus far, my posts have centered around Adara, not too surprisingly. That may change. Not because I don't want to talk about her, of course, but I may also start posting about things that interest me, or that bother me. Like politics. This is just a warning, that you may see some strong opinion posts on this blog--because, as you all know, I am a timid man who never has his own view on anything. :)

Somebody Name That Baby!

Well, this weekend was fun, but very long and more than a little sleep-deprived.
We had Adara's Baby-naming on Saturday, so a bunch of our relatives came up for it. We'd hoped to have it at our house, but haven't closed yet, let alone taken possession, so my Aunt Renee hosted instead, which was great of her. My dad and my two younger sisters came up, as did my younger cousin and his wife, Jen's dad, her cousin, and her aunt and uncle. We'd hoped to have more family, but several couldn't attend, and a few abandoned us at the last minute. Nonetheless, we had a good time, had lots of food, and Adara got her Hebrew name.
One thing I didn't get the chance to explain to Jen's family--mine knew about it already--was that Adara's Hebrew name was my mom's. We wanted to tie our little girl more closely to the grandmother she only got to meet twice, and this way a bit of my mother will live on in my daughter. I know Mom would have liked that. My sisters also made kugel (a noodle pudding, for those who've never had it) using my mom's recipe, so that one of her dishes was there on the table as well.
Our friend David, who did our wedding for us two years ago, performed the ceremony, and did a great job. We had a lot of fun, and got to see many of our relatives, including a few who traveled a good ways to be here. Jen and I were out there Friday to set up, and Sunday just to hang out, as well, so it was all a lot of fun, but we didn't sleep much, what with shuttling back and forth. Adara had a great time with her relatives, but she was getting a little cranky by last night from the lack of sleep. She'd also had a doctor's appointment on Friday (the one-year checkup, where the doctor pronounced her to be in excellent health and doing great), which had included two shots, so she was a little sore Friday night.
Jen and I had decided in advance that we were only going to have family at the event. That was mainly because we knew the house couldn't hold all of our friends, and we didn't want to have to pick and choose among them, plus the family we expected to attend would be a large group all on their own. But several of our friends expressed interest in attending, and extended congratulations, and we appreciate that.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

A Year Ago Today . . .

. . . my life changed forever.
Because, one year ago, my little girl was born.
Yes, Adara is now one year old. It's amazing how fast the time has gone. And how wonderful it's been. And how very different my life is. It may not seem different on the outside--I still go to work, write, game, watch TV, etc.--but my world-view has shifted.
When you're young, your parents are the center of your universe. Then, as you get older, hopefully you become your own center. You meet someone special, and your center expands to include both of you. But then you have a child. And your center shifts.
Adara is the center of my world. It's funny how that alters my thoughts. Everything I do revolves around her now. Jen and I are only satellites, caught in her orbit.
And I wouldn't change it for the world. My little girl, my daughter, is bright, funny, playful, loving, generous, curious, energetic, thoughtful--everything a person should be. No matter how bad my day has been, when I get home and see her smiling at me I just melt, and everything else goes away. I spend hours just watching her playing, crawling, eating--even sleeping. It's a wondrous thing. Yes, my world revolves around her—
and I wouldn't change that for anything.
Happy first birthday, Adara.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Events this week

It's the first week of October, and we've got a full plate.
I recently finished working on First Team (a supplement for Dark Inheritance) and a book on Madeleine L'Engle. Right now I'm putting finishing touches on a book about Thomas Hobbes.
The rest of the week is devoted to Adara's baby-naming, which takes place on Saturday. My dad and my sisters are coming up, as are my cousin and his wife, Jen's dad, and her aunts, uncles, and cousins. Our friend David, who married Jen and I, is performing the ceremony. Should be nice, and we're looking forward to seeing everyone, but getting ready and organized is stressful.
Plus we haven't heard anything new about the house, which is frustrating.

Welcome to the blog, I guess

Hello to one and all!
Many of my friends have set up blogs or live journals over the last few years. I read them when I can, and every so often I think "I should get me one of those." Then I think "yeah, but when would I ever have the time to sit and write on it?" Today I figured, "what the hell, I might as well give it a shot."
So here we are.
I'll do my best to update this thing regularly--I'm aiming for once a week, though sometimes it may be more frequent. If I hit the point where I'm not updating at least once a month, I'll shut it down.
In the meantime, welcome. I'm hoping this'll give me a way to stay in touch with my friends and family more easily, as well as a chance to blather about anything that interests me, anything that's troubling me, and generally what's going on in my neck of the woods.