Glad tidings, readers, for 2010!
Although mostly over the jet lag from our foray into the Land of Not So Much Plenty Anymore, I am still wrestling with situational chaos (my house), three Things still home from school, and new resolutions rolling around in my brain. Re-entry is always a bitch. Let me spell that again: b-i-t-c-h. Yes, we went through Newark – twelve hours before it was shut down. The TSA snipped off the zippers on 2 suitcases and between them and the child who looked like Dougie Howser flying the plane on very little sleep, both they and Continental Airlines will be soon enjoying a post-holiday reaming from moi. The grocery stores and malls were clogged with shoppers panicking before their big day of celebration, Three Kings Day or Los Reyes Magos, or Epiphany to you. My big epiphany: come back to Spain after the 6th or sufficiently in advance to miss the cluster-yahoo created by traffic circles, bread shaped like a crown with a plastic toy king inside, and procrastinating parents vying to get inside the local Toys-R-Us.
Knowing, as I do, how much I loathe re-entry, I immediately drummed up a lunch date and tour of the Prado with Skinny Swede and our mutual Things. As an expat, it is imperative that one has something to look forward to after a trip to the homeland because, as the previous paragraph attests, almost everything makes one a supergrump. (I will save my story of the morning after clash with the grocery store cashier for another time – let me just say that, although Jesus would not have been proud of me, I was victorious in the end and there is nothing I enjoy more than proving a point and being right about it). So, yesterday, off to the Prado we marched since none of the Things had ever been there and I needed immediate re-inforcement of one good reason for living here in Madrid.
Mrs. Nato, down the street, had suggested to get the hour tour of the museum’s 15 masterpieces. Perfect for a group of teenagers with the attention span of toddlers and as great an aversion, right? “Gerry” (a.k.a. Gerardo) paraded us about, starting with the Flemish painters Brueghel the Elder and Hieronymous Bosch before moving on to Raphael, Fra Angelico, Sorolla (my personal fave), Goya, and Velazquez. The museum was crowded but not horrifically so. An hour with “Gerry” was just perfect. Strangely, my two teen Things liked the Flemish painters the best, not put off by Brueghel’s interpretation of death (an army of skulls skirmishing with the living) or the description of the imagery of a knife between two ears as a p!nis emerging from t!sticles* in the third part of the tryptich documenting hell. Sixty euros may seem like a lot for a tour but really, you can’t buy that kind of education.
During a post-tour beverage in the museum cafe, Skinny Swede told us about her family’s resolutions for the new year. One of the things I like about Skinny Swede is that she makes me look like a pussy cat of a mother, an absolute slouch. For example, this year, she is giving each of her two Things a certain amount of money (relatively substantial) which they have to use to plan a family activity, soup to nuts. They have to decide on an activity, figure out transportation, schedules, everything – an education in planning and execution. In November she gave her teen Thing the task of finding the local village square, armed only with a map, the entire family in tow. Five minutes away from their home, the trip took them over two hours. Map reading, what a novel idea! I am thinking of filching an idea or two of hers to improve my own parenting skills, so profound is my admiration.
And speaking of self-improvement, I have finally formulated my resolutions**:
1) finish Thing 3’s needlepoint stocking. I have had this on my list for the last four years but moved several times in that period so that was always my excuse. No more.
2) write something (?) and send it out for publication. At age 45, I think I am finally tough enough for a little rejection. The question is, what to write? Current ideas: finish/rewrite my project (still don’t know what to call it) based on the murder of a girl brutally murdered in Brazil. This one would take a lot of work. The suspects have, I think, been recently acquitted, in OJ Simpson fashion. Other ideas: travel articles or my actual memoirs (which means I can’t use all the good stuff here). I am open to suggestions, readers. Bottom line for you: I am only going to blog once a week.
3) expense tracking and asking a family member for permission before I buy something for myself in an effort to distinguish between need vs. want. My children are actually very good at this and have talked me out of a lot of cool stuff. Before leaving the US and the start of 2010, however, I stocked up on numerous needed items, displayed in the photo above. Sweet Virginia gets credit for the idea of photographing suitcase contents. I challenge you to tell me what I don’t need. (There are a few gifts in there too).
Wrapping it all up, I am looking forward to the start of the new year. By October, I will not be so thrilled as we face college applications for Thing 1, high school for Thing 2, and more mean girls for Thing 3. Right now I am going downstairs to put away my Christmas decorations since the Kings have come and gone, start some laundry, and look at the snow falling outside our cottage in Madrid. My next post will be a Christmas retrospective, complete with a photo of an American turkey. It was the best.
Questions for you (answer all to gain bonus points): what are your resolutions (and don’t be snarky and say you resolve not to resolve)? what should I write about in 2010? what in the photo above do I not need (hint: it is not the pink tutu for the housekeeper’s daughter – that was essential)?
Per “Gerry”. ! = e to avoid spammers.
** The Radish turned me onto this site for resolution making: 6changes.com/post/288806664/suggested