Sunday, February 04, 2007

Craziness, Anonymity, The Joy of Sound, and the Tar Heels

Some old-fashioned randomness....

When you have little ones (like babies) at home, you are so preoccupied with the baby-ness of life that thinking about your own mental state is pretty faraway. I can imagine a life of perpetually having babies to keep all that at bay, but since that is Just Not Gonna Happen, I am simply cursed with the mental state part of the equation. What this means is that when your kids are old enough to make their own breakfast (or at least the older one can make breakfast for the younger one), then you have enough free-floating mental space to either A) do something productive with your life or B) just get downright weird. My impulse it to go with the former, but lately it is looking more like the latter.

Another thing I have been thinking about is that city life (Berlin) gave me a nice neurotic balance, among other things. This is something akin to a speed freak taking speed to feel calm, if that makes any sense. When you have city craziness, or when I do, it is easier to feel focused. Maybe that doesn't make sense...but when it is chaos around you, it is like you find center because you just have to for survival. For me, here with all this space, it is like there is this vast, unfocused world in which finding a center is just an illusory game. For some people, I think it is perfect. Space yields concentration which yield productivity. But for me, it is more like space yields lack of focus which yields downright craziness.

A similar thing happens in terms of anonymity. For some people, the city means piles upon piles of people living on top of each other in this chaotic human grid of humanity, whereas a smaller town gives a sense of privacy and the ability to be alone. But for me, it is more like the city allows one total privacy in anonymity and the small town is like a nightmare of standing out.

Take today for example. I go to University Mall, our sweet little local mall with only a few struggling shops. In the course of about 1 hour, I run into half the people I know here. That means small talk, and Mama Jens hates small talk, let me tell you. They were all asking the same questions, like, "Are you here for the summer camp fair?" to which I kept ridiculously replying, "No, actually, I didn't know that was going on...I am just here to buy some Mars Mud for my daughter."

Mars Mud is this goopy, slimey stuff that my older daughter has had her mind on lately.

So back to today, I had a lovely day with the children...We spent the morning reading books in our playroom, sunshine streaming in the windows. My two year old is lately preoccupied with sound. Anytime she hears anything other than the normal clatter of the household, she perks up, widens her eyes (bugs them out actually) and says, "What's that sound?" My answer is either birds, plane, or firetruck, but usually just bird - and we hear all the interesting ones too, including owls and woodpeckers. It got me thinking about what she would be hearing in this phase if we were in the you still hear birds in the city? I couldn't remember if we hear them in Berlin, but I am sure we did...they were just muffled by construction site bangings and hammerings and drillings, trams, cars, trucks, sirens, people talking, know the usual, peaceful stuff.

So then for lunch, we went to Franklin Street Pizza and Pasta. If you are in Chapel Hill or ever visit, be sure to go here. It is on the first block of houses on Franklin St., across from the university quad (where I always imagine my husband streaking...think Old School). The owner makes the sauce himself everyday. No one else knows the recipe. And it rocks totally. With garlic knots, on pizza, on pasta, on a meatball sub (my favorite there) or just plain out of a bowl. It is the best. Our girls love that place. It has become our new Punk Rock Pizza (in Berlin, I am sure I have written about that place). Except it isn't really Punk Rock. If you're going for rock and pizza, try Pepper's Pizza a few doors down, which is ten times more punk rock, but the food just isn't as good as Franklin St. Pizza and Pasta. And oddly enough, today, while eating there, my older daughter asked why all Italians are punk rockers.

Afterwards, we hit Morehead Planetarium for the Lego Palooza, which always makes me think of Lollapallooza and days of early college debauchery. But there was no debauchery there...just a ballroom filled with Lego exhibits and then in a corner a huge pile of legos surrounded by a huge pile of children who were building their own masterpieces. The place was so crowded, and having a two year old who likes to run wild and free and a six year old who is always asking me if she can take off her clothes, I was feeling a little stressed out.

Which got me thinking about Berlin playgrounds. Man oh man was I a royal mess on those couple of days a year when it was hot and the sun was shining and everyone from miles and miles around would ascend upon Kollwitz Platz. I would come with or meet friends and then proceed to have no conversation with them for two hours because I had to make sure I didn't lose track of my children among the sugar infested masses. This would stress me out totally - and I am talking in a way that only a stiff drink could help.

Which led me to think, if I can't find a sense of calm in this ballroom filled with legos in an itsy bitsy town, how in the @#$%& hell am I going to maneuver my sweet offspring through a city of like a hundred million people? Of course I immediately dismissed the thought, rationalizing that life in the big city would be more calm once settled and in a neighborhood, and things like going outside were purely optional. Hmmmm.....

And so on to the present since it is taking me eight frickin' years to write this entry. I know I could divide it into two or three or ten, but you know, whatever. Feel free to take a break and pee or just log out, whatever you need to do.

So this morning, my two year old comes to her mama and asks for a tissue to wipe her snotty nose. Out of all practicality (and a little bit of laziness not wanting to go upstairs and rummage through the closet to find a roll of toilet paper), I decide to just use the bottom of her shirt (it was dirty anyways and I was about to change it, I promise). Well, this freaked her out totally, and she told me all about it: Don't wipe my nose with my Tar Heels shirt. Get a tissue! Now, what suprized me in this conversation wasn't the fact that the two year old was putting the Lazy Ass Pothead Fokker Mama (minus the pot part of course) in check. It was that she referred to her shirt, which is just baby blue in color, as being a Tar Heels shirt. This all started one summer evening when we decided to take the girls to see the Tar Heels girls soccer game. The two year old was intensely fascinated with the cheering part of the experience. Everytime someone got close to a goal, every time the crowd would get a little louder, my daughter stood up and started yelling, "Taw Heeeeeews!!!!" This carried over to any situation where there was a crowd, such as at the John Edwards rally. Every time the crowd cheered or started clapping, there was my two year old shouting, "Taw Heeeewwws!! You say 'number' I say 'one'!" Plain craziness.

Okay, I'd better get some work done.

Love and Peace,
Mama Jens