Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i
Katie and Jen came down with the sniffles first, kicking off the usual ritual of Jen pinching me and whining that it's not fair that I almost never get sick. Cautious as usual, she then dispatched me one morning to take Katie to the doctor, where in a two-minute consultation after a twenty minute wait I was told to give her lots of fluids and some children's decongestant.
(I'm still adjusting to life in a two-income working family, and the fact that Jen can't automatically handle little emergencies. It felt weird to take time off... something "normal" parents have to do all the time.)
But before I had a chance that night to roll my eyes at Jen for overreacting, I started to feel funny. I drank a gallon of orange juice and pumped my system full of drugs, but it was too late. The next morning, I was dizzy, achy and groggy.
I dropped Katie off at school and went to work anyway. A mistake on both counts.
Everyone at work kept comparing me to someone hit by a speeding truck. And just as I was about to get smart and go home early, Katie's school called and asked if I could come get her.
(Nothing, absolutely nothing compares to that freefall sensation you get when you pick up the phone and the person on the other end says, "This is your daughter's school..." Man. It's a damn good thing they're well-trained and always immediately add, "...and this is not an emergency.")
So I did, and Katie and I had enough time for a sniffly half-hour nap before getting up again to pick up Jen miraculously spared the extended dance mix of this particular bug at Ala Moana. What a sight we must have been, glassy eyed and red nosed.
The next day I knew better, and both Katie and I just stayed home.
It was great. (Except the sick part.) A certified bonding session. We cuddled on the couch all morning, listening to Hawaiian music or watching PBS, drifting in and out of sleep and singing odd songs. After another Jen-ordered visit to the doctor (with similar results), we treated ourselves to a Burger King lunch, and returned home for more vegetating.
Finally, we dragged ourselves out and went to the park. And the sun, fresh air, and just happy goodness of it all did a world of good. I followed a slightly wobbly Katie around for almost two hours as she climbed every ladder, went down every slide, and swung on every swing at least a dozen times. She even chased birds and a little boy around the playground.
Apart from the messy business of wiping her nose every five minutes, it was a postcard-perfect outing.
Today, Katie's the only one with lingering sniffles. The occasional coughing fit has made for some sleepless nights, and after several days of whiny misery, she's regressed somewhat (or, perhaps, is finally heading into the phase that everyone always warns you about the second year). She's thrown some blind-fury tantrums that are so melodramatic, they're absolutely gut-busting funny. (Not that our laughing helps calm her down.)
It was a colorful week in other ways, with Jen and I trying to settle into our new groove.
For two years it was Jen and Katie, 24/7, always together, always home. I went to work, and came back, every day. Suddenly we had separate schedules mine, Jen's, and Katie's and added daily roundtrips to Ala Moana and Montessori School.
Katie's school has holidays. Jen's work days and hours change every week. It's an adventure making sure everyone always makes it home. Also, the school shoots me if I'm one second late in picking Katie up, meaning I fight with rush-hour every afternoon. (Usually I don't leave the office until 6:30 p.m. or so, which meant smooth sailing.) And although Katie's school and Jen's work are only two miles apart, they're at opposite ends of Ke`eaumoku Street, just about the worst street to be on at 5:30 p.m., let alone drive the full length both ways.
It's been tough, but worth it. Jen's out and working and earning, and Katie's in school, learning and interacting. It's the right thing.
Except that Jen sometimes feels otherwise.
It's been a while since we've had so clear and basic difference of opinion. In fact, we're having the exact opposite instinctive, gut-level reaction. While I have this feeling deep down that we've finally taken big and positive steps, Jen can't shake the feeling that we've made a big mistake.
Time will tell, I suppose. But all this change, this weird week-long family cold, and the holiday season have made life as of late quite surreal.
The wild ride didn't end at our apartment door. After weeks of considering, plotting and hunting, mom has her own car once again.
In late October, her 1994 Buick bought the farm, after having probably one of the toughest lives of any car in Honolulu. Grandma offered her the use of her car, but it came with so many conditions (and unpredictable mood swings) we quickly determined it wasn't a viable solution.
We knew early on we were looking for something on the cheap side. Like, my car cheap (but maybe a tad nicer). We also knew we didn't know all that much about car shopping. So we enlisted dad's help.
So last week, after poring over newspaper ads and scanning car lots (in between trips all over the country), dad called me up with some candidates. And his top pick, we liked, and now mom's got her own wheels.
It's a 1988 Toyota Cressida. Boxy, but in a classy way, and with "only" 83,000 miles (less than 7,000 miles a year). Like my Nissan, the model is the Japanese automaker's early foray into the world of luxury autos (the Cressida eventually became Lexus). It was also the last year the model had rear-wheel drive, my personal preference (and the reason I will probably always drive older cars). Power everything, still chilly AC, and odd things like a Buck Rogers-esque digital dashboard and heated mirrors.
Dad graciously did the hard work of talking the dealer down a good $1,300, so all we had to do was go down, test drive it (dead battery d'oh!), and sign on the dotted line. Final price, $4,300, for a car that somehow still hovers near $6,000 in the Blue Book.
Mom and the car are still bonding (although Todd's already abused it, for which he was soundly scolded), but already she feels free and liberated, able to come and go without mean looks or arguments from her mother. I suspect many a teen knows exactly how she feels.
Resolved to not make the same one-or-the-other mistake we made last year, we planned ahead to spend this Thanksgiving with both mom and dad.
Dad planned a Thanksgiving lunch. Mom, Thanksgiving dinner. Both were small, quiet, thoroughly pleasant gatherings.
Although a double-dose of turkey is pretty tough to take.
Gayle was out of town, so in Hawaii Kai it was just dad, Eathan and grandma O. Dad did all the cooking, and it was good. We just relaxed, Eathan played the ukulele and the rest of us watched "A Bug's Life" on DVD.
In Mililani, the family opted out of the traditional big party at Uncle Al's, so it was just us, mom, and grandma H. (Todd was working.) Zippy's did the cooking.
Hey, $30 for half a turkey and all the fixings (pie included)? It wasn't bad at all.
Of course, that quiet holiday was followed immediately by the day after Thanksgiving, on which Jen worked. At the mall. In the Liberty House seasonal "Christmas Shop."
Fortunately, she got out alive.
Lisa Ling sucks.
This is the type of surprise discoveries, I suppose, that come with being home all day under the spell of daytime television.
I'm a bit disappointed. Even though all I knew of her before "The View" were those Gap pants ads, I sort of assumed she had some talent. And she had occupied a strange corner of my brain ever since Jen accused me of having the hots for her.
(Mind you, this was back when I found her Keanu Pic-of-the-Day mailing list subscription and Russell Crowe bookmarks... she was just reaching.)
But during my sick day, I watched "The View," if only to smirk at how Barbara Walters is becoming a parody of herself. And for the first three quarters of the show, Lisa Ling one of the four (or five?) hosts of the talk show said nothing.
Her only contributions were laughing on cue, and brushing her hair out of her face.
Finally, though, she piped up. And it looked like she was just aching to get into the discussion, just waiting to insert a witty remark.
What was that remark?
"Hey, I'm Asian," she said. "Of course I can't drive!"