Saturday, August 26, 2006

Saturday morning coffee

Lately, over the past 3 weeks especially, it feels like our lives have really accelerated. To the point that all of us feel like we've been shot out of a cannon. This weekend is providing a welcome breather, and I find myself in one of my favorite situations: awake in the house on a weekend morning, while everyone else sleeps.

18 years as a cop has created in me a near-total absence of the notion of "weekend." It's not that I don't like weekends, it's just that my days off fall during the week so often that I don't really have the typical view of THE WEEKEND as being that magical time that you spend all week grinding toward. It has no special significance for me, and I don't find myself looking forward to it. I'm just as likely to sit in my office on a Tuesday afternoon looking forward to all the fun I'm going to have, and all the stuff I'm going to acomplish, when I'm off Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Combine that with homeschooling and a bride who works part time (and was a stay-home mom before that) and you have a pattern of family life that's flexible, bordering on chaotic. It's a wonder how the Miz Bubs and the girls have adapted to it all these years. I've been spoiled by never having to fight weekend crowds at movies, restaurants, grocery stores and Homeowner Hell.

All that's changed now. Miz Bubs is now on the classic M-F 9-5 schedule at the library (oh lord, I do love saucy librarians. And saucy library assistants, for that matter.) Youngest daughter is in high school M-F from 7:30 to 2:45, and eldest girl has classes M-W-F and works several evenings each week. Don't get me wrong, I'm not whining about having to live like everyone else in the suburban world. I just feel blessed that I didn't have to for so long.

Here's some of the things we were able to do over the past 3 years because of the combination of homeschooling and a cop schedule:

-Multiple visits to the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum and Brookfield Zoo during the week.

-Camping trips to uncrowded places during the week: Kickapoo River in Wisconsin, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Wyandotte Woods in Indiana, Shawnee National Forest, and Sleeping Bear Dunes. Other places too numerous to list. Of course, while I have fond memories of some of these trips, my girls--especially my youngest--will describe an experience that sounds more like the Bataan Death March.

-Road trips: San Antonio, New Orleans, Louisville.

-Two big trips: Ireland, where we spent 3 weeks, and the Florida Keys, where we relaxed in a tropical paradise.

-And perhaps the greatest thrill of all, being able to go to the movies during the middle of the week, to the cheap shows that start before 6pm.

Both of my kids are prone to be night owls now, but they seem to adapt well to daylight, so I haven't screwed them up too badly. MizBubs has gotten on a regular workout schedule and seems to be coping well. Everyone is pitching in with little things like laundry and dishes. My big test will come after Labor Day, when two things happen: I go back to working nights, getting home between midnight and 1am, and my next set of days off fall on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I'll be poking around the Compound with my coffee, rubbing sleep out of my eyes. By myself. I hope I'm going to become one of those regular dads, the kind of guy who takes his day off when no one's around and does stuff. Like, keep an immaculate yard, and fix things, change the oil in the cars, and organize the basement and hardwire a generator into the circuit breaker box and put a new roof on the house. Not the kind of dad who sits in his robe at the computer, blogging and playing online poker. Oh shit. Too late.

A proposal that I submitted back in early August got rejected, so that's a good chunk of cash that won't be coming my way now. I made up for it, somewhat, by picking up a couple of side jobs. I took a day off to work the first one on Wednesday: a 7am-10pm surveillance on a woman who'd been fired the day before. The company was afraid she might return (and what? shoot the place up? create a scene? women are low-risk candidates for workplace violence, but my feeling is this--if corporate America wants to feel safe, I'll be there to collect the check) so we sat outside her house with directions to follow her if she left. Someone had followed her home after she got fired the night before, and watched until 10pm, when she apparently went to sleep. On the day I watched her she didn't move from the house until 7:15pm. Then she drove to a fried chicken place, bought a bucket at the drive-thru, and returned home to console herself with her new deep-fried friend.

The next side job comes up in September. I get to dress in a dark suit and provide security for a convention that's in town. 16 hours of standing around looking sharp for a nice little bundle of kale. I even get to wear an earpiece and talk into my lapel, all well-dressed and courteous and vaguely menacing and all. One thing that's really nice is that, now that time with family is at a premium, MizBubs' new job allows me to be way more discriminating in what kind of side jobs I work, and how often.

Speaking of MizBubs. She is one of the most remarkably upbeat and optimistic people I know. She's great at encouraging others. She's been telling me about her efforts to lift the mood at her workplace (she's in the same department as she was as a part-timer) and it seems to be working so far. They've adopted some kind of department mascot, and she's working on getting some greenery and artwork in there. I hope her coworkers understand how lucky they are to have her. Right now the dear thing continues to sleep the sleep of the just. I'll bring her coffee in a bit.

Our youngest is getting ready to spend the day and night with her best friend (who is still homeschooled, so they see each other WAY less now.) Our eldest is excited--she's going to meet Jhonen Vasquez, creator of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Invader Zim. We're both wondering if he's going to be a jerk--he's an angry little fella, and kind of known for being contemptuous of fans. He better be nice to my girl, or she'll kick his ass.

The 1st anniversary of Hurrican Katrina arrives this week, August 29. Tomorrow night we'll be having a commemorative dinner in honor of the people of New Orleans: seafood gumbo for sure, some type of greens or corn maque choux depending on what's at the farmers market, and of course a couple of Sazerac cocktails and some Abita beer.

There are so many things I wanted to catch up on and write about. Other than the occasional bourbon-fueled late night youtube posts, I try and put some thought and care into what I write and post. The longer I wait to have the time to put, say, the experience of seeing Tom Waits, or of visiting Las Vegas with Miz Bubs, into proper form, the less likely it seems I'll ever have time to do that. I guess that's just the nature of things, and it's really not a bad thing at all.

Hope y'all have a good weekend.

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