Archive for the ‘Writer Dude’ Category

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Sunday Bullets

July 8, 2012
  • I was knocked down by a wretched virus this week.  David started to get at the end of vacation, and then it peaked for his first and second days of his new job, poor guy.  I started coming down with it on Tuesday, and it peaked on Friday.  I went home after lunch on Thursday, and stayed home on Friday.  I think that’s the first time I’ve done that since I have been working as a lawyer (2007).  I decided to go to the doctor, since I was home anyway.  I feared it was strep, and that I’d still be sick on Monday if I didn’t take care of it. My fever spiked while the doctor was examining me, and I guess I was warm enough to make him go “hmmm,” so he sent me for blood work and chest x-rays.  Everything was negative, and he decided I had “viral laryngitis.”  Today – Sunday – I finally am feeling on the upswing, and my throat is only a little sore.
  • Mouse is away for the long weekend, sharing in part of a friend’s vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.  I am jealous.  I also kind of miss her.  She stayed home from all things social on Friday to tend to me and keep me from getting lonely.  She made me lunch, brought me water, and generally spent the day hanging out on my bed with me.  We had some good chats about her thoughts and fears about high school (starting in 2 months!), and about this and that.  So now I miss her.  David rolled his eyes at me, asking what I’m going to do at the end of the month when she goes to camp for 4 weeks, and then of course – the inevitable.  
  • Lemon has been fun to be with, too.  Yesterday she was home for most of the day, and we hung out for a good bit watching Twin Peaks.  I decided that finally watching that iconic show that I have never seen (even though I was the perfect age for it when it first came out; hyper-religious parents got in the way of watching such shows) was the perfect healing mechanism for my crappy “cold.”  She’s not home today, though.  She voluntarily woke herself up at 7 a.m. to go to a crew race to cheer her team on.  (She’s not doing crew this summer, but is doing her best to stay in touch with the team, regardless.)  I woke up at 7:30, and was sure that she slept through her alarm.  But no, her bed was empty. 
  • David is annoyed with me.  The shifting is more complex than we were ready for, I guess.  I think as much as we know that we’re sharing in cooking, there is more to figure out as far as shopping, and kitchen-ownership.  Or maybe he’s just sick of me complaining about being sick, and as a result, everything I do annoys him.  Which is possible, considering that I have about a pinky toe’s worth of sympathy for him when he gets sick.  I’ve been working on that, but I’m stained with the irritability of years’ past.  Not sure I can ever recover.  
  • I’ve been pretty consistent with my low-carb eating.  It’s going pretty well.  When I was not feeling well but still had a full-on appetite, I found my mind wandering to convenience foods:  a sandwich, a pizza, a burrito.  But I resisted.  It looks like after about a week, I’m benefitting from the initial weight drop of a few pounds.  Of course, “it’s likely water” blah blah.  It will be fun to see what happens once I’m truly over this bug and I can exercise.  I haven’t been exercising consistently for a few weeks.  I may be focusing on walking, rather than running, and strength, including yoga.  My running partner is out of commission with a knee injury, and between the two of us, injuries have been plentiful.  I’m wondering if running is my “thing,” especially given my wretched feet.  We’ll see.  No reason to write it off just yet.
  • I had a small lull in work this past week.  I chose a good week to go on vacation (the week before the 4th).  Most of the office – if not the profession – took off the week OF the Fourth.  So things were slow in the office and with opposing parties.  Which is why I was able to take it easy with my illness.  But as I was lying in bed, assignments and new projects were coming in fast and furious.  Everything for “Monday.”  Tomorrow’s gonna be a doozy. 
Have a great Sunday!
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Our Final Days on Vacation.

July 1, 2012

Yeah, I missed out posting Days 5 and 6.  I have less photos, because the days were a little less cooperative.

Day 5:  We planned another field trip day, and the weather was hot hot hot.  We had been lucky all week with temps in the low 80s, and on our first field trip day, mid 70s.  But then on Thursday, it shot up into the 90s, and we all wilted.  The hurricane in the atlantic (Debby) had caused some rip currents, so we weren’t too upset about not being on the beach.  The thing Lemon really wanted to do was to go and see the site of the Wright Brothers’ first flight:

“It’s only a model.”

“Da Plane!  Da Plane!”

(As if someone else wouldn’t have come up with it if they didn’t.)

The markers indicate the first 4 successful flights.  The 4th is pretty far out into the sweltering field.  We did not visit the markers.

This was on a hill.  The hill was higher than it looked.  And it was HOT.

Monument, with a Wright Head.

Mouse, however, was miserable.  “This is all the things I hate!  Museums and airplanes!”  I gave her permission to give the Wright brothers (and the first planes) the finger, but she just glared at me. Like this:

Oscar the Mouse.

“Stop taking my picture!  I am miserable! I am sweaty! I am bored! Stop!”

So, we went to Five Guys and gorged ourselves on fries.  Then we went home, and the girls played games while David and I read books.  It was nice.

Our last day at the beach was also a bit lackluster.  It was due to be another scorcher, so we planned to get up & out earlier than usual, by 10 a.m.  (Oh, the torture that represents for a nearly-16 year old!)  But when we got to the beach, very soon after our planned time, we were greeted with a very rough sea, high winds, and pelting sand:

We went in the ocean for a bit, anyway, but it lacked the serenity of days past.  So we tried to take advantage of the wind, and fly some kites:

Lemon had some success, but Mouse’s broke.  So we tried to read for a while, but the sand was pretty sharp.

So we packed up by noon, and went and watched Brave.

Seriously, I started tearing up at the opening scene!  The opening scene!  When the mom was chasing her little girl around to tickle her, and they were so sweet.  I was all, “my girls used to be that little, and we used to chase around to tickle, and they used to giggle like that!”  And then later,  I cried more.  Then, when it ended, I sobbed.

Mouse laughed at me, but Lemon also had some heart-wrenching.  (I can’t say when, because it’s kind of a spoiler.)  But then, in perfect Lemon form, she picked on the premise afterward.  God, cartoon characters are so illogical!

Then we went home and packed, and we ate yummy foods, and we packed some more.  I found myself pretty sad about leaving.  Even though I was also ready to go.  I was sad to go.

I soothed myself by choosing next year’s house in between loads of laundry.

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Speaking of bratty — (or is it neglected?)

June 6, 2012

Next week, Mouse “graduates” from 8th grade.  I know, I know, “that’s not a real graduation” [please, read that phrase with a nasty, nasaly, grouchy, crotchety tone of voice].  But you know what?  Who cares. This has been her school, her class, our community, since she was in 1st grade.  No, she’s not done with school, but we are all closing a huge chapter of our lives.  I’m calling it graduation, and I’m celebrating.

Maybe 6 weeks ago, she and I went shopping with one of her closest friends and her mom, who I’m relatively close with.  Mouse found the requisite two dresses — one for her school “dinner/dance,” and one for the graduation ceremony itself.  Both were way cute.  The dinner/dance dress, however, which is strapless, is a little loose in the bust.  Even though it has some rubberized stuff at the top of it, it still runs the risk of falling right down her pole-thin body and onto the floor.

About 2 weeks ago, she said, “Mom, we have to get this taken in.”  I said, “okay, I will call.  But you have to remind me – I get busy at work and I forget until it’s 5:30 and everywhere is closed.  When you get home, text me or call me, and I’ll take care of it.”

Well, she got busy.  With friends or with homework or with other 8th-grade sorts of things, and I never got a text or a call.

I was talking with a friend today about the graduation plans (because we are organizing decorations and a grade-wide party), and all of a sudden, like a punch in the gut, I remembered that we need to get Mouse’s dress altered.  I thought I also remembered her saying that sure, she can go into the seamstress shop by herself ….

So I was chatting with David while eating lunch and mentioned to him that I texted Mouse with instructions to go by the boutique that we used last time at 3:30.  I explained to him where exactly it was (basically across the street from her school), and things seemed fine.

But then she got home, and upon realizing I was sending there by herself, went into all-out meltdown mode.

I don’t know – when Lemon was her age, she’d do anything and go anywhere by herself.  I had called ahead, she was expected, arrangements were made – what’s the problem?  “I don’t feel comfortable, and I don’t know what to do!” So I’m texting Lemon, and I’m chatting with David, and they’re both in the house with a bit of a tantrum-y Mouse, and everyone is annoyed.  Meanwhile, I’m trying to draft a brief for the Third Circuit … and feeling very frustrated.

It really came down to the fact that Mouse didn’t want to go with anyone but me.  But she wanted her dress altered.  And I couldn’t be there (hello, Third Circuit).  And if we didn’t go today, we couldn’t get a guarantee it would be ready in time for the dance.

So she gnashed her terrible teeth and roared her terrible roar, and then said, “fine.”  (well, the “fine” didn’t come until after I lectured her about her inflexibility, and explaining that I could not come home to go with her, and that I’m taking off tons of time next week for her graduation and all of the surrounding events, and that she had offers from both David AND Lemon to go with her, and she needed to knock it the F off.  Only I didn’t say F or Fuck.  I just said, “you need to be more flexible.”  I also apologized for not having the chance to talk to her about it/ prep her in advance, but that’s just the way it went, and now she needs to Fing Deal.  Only I didn’t say “Fing.”  Or Fucking.  But I was thinking it!!)

And David took her.  He reported that she was a total grouch the entire time, but it was all over with inside of 3 minutes, and they were back home.  When she walked back in the door and found multiple 10th graders in the kitchen eating all our food, she completely forgot about the trauma of Seamstress Without Mom, and got lost in hanging out with the older girls.

 

 

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Cost-Sharing

April 6, 2012

A dilemma!  I will ask the internets!

When both my girls hit 6th grade, I bought them a laptop.  David and I are laptop people, and we don’t have a central place in the house for a desk top.  It seemed like the right option, and theoretically, I haven’t really regretted that choice.

But being a Mac family, it was no small investment.

Lemon has now had hers since 2007, and Mouse since 2009.

Lemon’s shows some wear.  It’s clunky, it keeps running out of space.  It’s not that much newer than mine, which I just replaced this year.

Mouse’s, however, still seems so new.  It’s a white one, but the smaller, sleeker shape.  It always seemed faster, lighter, smoother.

A couple of months ago, Mouse had some friends over.  They were in her room, hanging out – every now and then you’d hear uproarious laughter – as per usual – no big deal.

But after they went home and she dug into her homework, she called me in — “Moooooommmmmm?  Something’s wrong with my computer.”

In the top right corner of her screen, there was a big smear, and a couple of lines coming out of it, running down to the bottom of the screen.  My first thought – “Did you spill nail polish remover on it??” (she’s addicted to doing her nails)  “No!!!”  I looked again, and couldn’t tell it wasn’t a surface issue, it was something else.  “Did you step on it?”  No.  “Did you drop it?”  No.

“Well, I guess your screen is messed up.  You’ll live.”

Yes, I am a very sympathetic soul.

But over the next few weeks, the computer revealed a few other problems.  The trackpad wasn’t working so well — hers is the kind where the whole trackpad is smooth, and you’re supposed to be able to click anywhere on it.  But she couldn’t.  There was only one spot where she could click that it would work.

Then, it seemed like the screen casing had come apart (on the opposite side of the smear on the screen).  The screen would go white, unless you pinched the screen at a certain spot.

Then, nothing would work unless you pinched the screen – not the trackpad, not the keyboard – nothing.

Then, the trackpad wouldn’t click at all.  This development happened during my first week of the new job, and it was the first time that the computer seemed to have been rendered useless.  My solution at the time, so that the computer was not useless while she was working on a large school project, was to go to the Apple Store and buy a mouse.  We then used the mouse to navigate to the settings, where we made the touchpad tap sensitive, rather than needing to click down on it.  Then we didn’t need the mouse anymore.

My intention was to return the mouse within 14 days for a no-questions-asked refund.  However, it is sitting on the shelf in my living room, laughing at me.  (Through the box.)

Well, this week, the screen-pinching became ineffective.  The computer was again rendered useless.

Throughout these months of the decline of the computer, David and I have been pretty unsympathetic to Mouse’s plight.  We KNOW she dropped or stepped on the computer.  She can swear up and down as much as she wants that she did NOT!  It was safe, she took care of it!  But we don’t believe her.  We’ve had too many computers over too many years to believe that a computer was sitting happily and protectedly on its desk and all of a sudden – BAM!! – a giant BLOT appeared on the screen, and all of the internal parts seemed to stop working AT THE SAME TIME.  No.  The computer was dropped or stepped on.

Her room is a mess.  She has clean and dirty clothes all over her floor.  Even though she has a desk and a beanbag chair, she does everything on her bed.  Her nails, her homework, her internet surfing, and despite the rules, snacking.  So she finishes her homework or her surfing, and she shoves her computer aside.  Her friends come over, they sit with her on the bed, they chatter and do their nails on her bed, and someone shifts to the right, and BOOM – the computer’s on the floor, on the corner, creating a blot.

OR — she puts her computer on the floor, and then takes off a shirt.  She throws the shirt.  It lands on the computer.  She cannot see the computer.  She steps on the shirt — “what’s that cracking noise???”

These behaviors are things that we work all the time to curb.  It’s like talking to a concrete post.  Seriously.  She has to spend at least 30 minutes a day cleaning her room, and I go check on her room, and it looks fine, and then 30 minutes later — the place exploded again.  David likens her room to the Charlie Brown character PigPen.  It’s like a dirt magnet.

Anyway.  David took the computer to the Apple Store.  They took one look at the blot on the screen and said, “Oh, that’s an impact point.  This has been dropped.”

An aside:  They also thought the trackpad issue was related to consistent overheating of the computer, causing “bulging” that pressed against the trackpad and kept it from working.  That annoyed me.  David said, “we need to make sure she doesn’t watch videos on the computer, because it’s overheating it.”  Look, she shouldn’t be watching videos on her computer. It’s not why she has a computer, and when they watch t.v. on their computers, I get VERY ANGRY, because we have t.v. rules in this house, and you don’t just get around them by watching whatever you want whenever you want on your computer.  HOWEVER – she should not avoid watching videos because otherwise her computer will overheat and bulge.  Isn’t that Apple’s problem?  Isn’t that — wrong?  I mean, everybody buys computers these days assuming they can watch videos – whether t.v. shows, movies or youtube videos – on their computers.  What the hell?

Okay – enough of that aside – let’s get back to blaming Jules.

Total estimate?  $530.

$530.

Before David went in, we decided that we would fix the computer if it came in between $300 and $500.  To me, $530 fits into that range.  Which is weird, right?  Why make the range if you’re going to just say “well, close enough.”  But it was how I felt.

But one of the items on the list was to replace her keyboard.  Because she’s picked a few keys off.  I said NO WAY.  We aren’t paying for that.  She PICKED THE KEYS OFF.  She can keep them off.

So, great.  $440 is the new estimate.  (At least now we’re really within our range.)

We left the computer behind, and hope to see it again soon.

But now what do we do?

The child is 13.  She does not have a job.  She does not babysit.  She gets an allowance – when I remember – of $40/month.  She doesn’t spend it well, and never has enough money.  We’ve been working with her on the fact that she wastes her money on candy at CVS (amazing that the child is as ridiculously thin as she is), and then wants to go to the movies with her friends and comes to us with her hand out.  Or they’re all going out to lunch, and she doesn’t have money.  I am a sap.  I will hand over the 4 $1 bills in my wallet.  David is not a sap, and will not.  I am (pre computer) increasingly less of a sap, especially with Ye Olde Pay Cut.  (Goddammit.)  I’ve been a bit more intentional about the allowance situation.

So what do we do about the $440?  If we make her pay it from her allowance, she won’t get allowance again until April of next year.  That isn’t going to work.  If we keep half of her allowance, all of the above issues are just exacerbated.

Do I make her do chores?

What we already did was to set some stricter rules with the computer.  It stays on her desk at all times.  No more using it in the bed.  Desk, plugged in, at all times.  David thinks we should also say her friends can’t touch it, but I disagree.  That’s just an annoying rule with annoying policing requirements put on both her and us.  I think keeping it on the desk will be sufficient.

A friend thinks we should just let this be a wake up call.  Let her know this is her one-time fix, and next time, she’ll need to work something else out.

I find myself wishing we didn’t fix it.  I wish that I took my old macbook from 2006 that was about to explode when I bought my new PowerBook with my severance money, and brought it back to factory settings, and made her use that until the imminent explosion takes place.  But I guess I can hold onto that option in case she breaks it again.

This is what I am thinking about doing:  Telling her that part of why it happened was because of the chaos in her room.  Make her give up this weekend to SERIOUSLY taking care of her room.  I’m talking cleaning out shelves and baskets, cleaning out the closet, going through clothes, shoes, etc.  Making drawers neat and organized.  Getting rid of the crap that this pack-rat child won’t typically get rid of.  And put it on her to keep it that way.  And if she does not, THEN withhold part of her allowance on the weeks that she doesn’t.

This way, we are kind of looking at a solution – forward-looking – giving her an opportunity to earn the repair, but will have set repercussions if she doesn’t do it.

The downside to my plan?

She’ll never do this without me.  I will have to do this project with her.  It will be MY weekend, too.

The upside?

I’ve been planning to do it for months, but just haven’t gotten to it.  Now I can force her to be more engaged in it, and get it really taken care of, and hopefully give her the motivation to keep up with things, through her precious allowance.

David is not going to like it.  He thinks we are spending the $$, she needs to contribute $$.  That she either needs to start babysitting, or cat sitting, or something-sitting to earn money, or she needs to give up at least half of her allowance.  He wouldn’t insist on the entire thing being paid by her, but maybe half.

In the meantime – today is Good Friday, and the kids don’t have school.  I think this is weird.  Even when I went to Liberty Freaking University, I had classes on Good Friday.  I think that the reason is because in my corner of New England, we have a large Jewish population, and we end up with days off from school for a few of the Jewish High Holidays, and to do that and NOT do Good Friday would be … inequitable?  Or maybe it’s because Boston has a large Catholic population, and we just follow their school calendar?  I don’t know.

But the kids have the day off.  Mouse and her friends decided last night to see Titanic 3D.  No one was thinking about the computer (David brought it to the Apple Store on Wednesday) when this plan came up.  I thought to say “Mouse, you don’t have any money, and I don’t have cash on me.”  But then I had the brilliant idea of buying her ticket on line, with her allowance that is due today (payday).  So I did.  David knew about it, said nothing (except, “don’t forget to buy her ticket!”)  They went to the 9:30 show, and David picked them up at 12:30.  When he got home, I’d been asleep for almost 2 hours, and so he emailed me.  I found the email at 5:30 when I got up for my morning run.  “So, wait — she gets to pre spend allowance on a movie — allowance that’s supposed to go toward her computer??”

But but but!!  He didn’t think of it last night!  And we never came up with a PLAN!!

So now we’re working on figuring out a plan.

 

 

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The Last of the Birthday Trip

February 7, 2012

First, the trip almost didn’t happen, then we had a meal that we will always remember, now – I think I can resort mostly to photos, and lay off all the blah blah.  We’ll see :)

On our one full day, we got up early and had breakfast at the B&B.  Then we grabbed coats (that we didn’t need, because it was 55 or so, despite being December) and hopped in the car for our day exploring the entire island, rather than just the towns.

We started out in Menemsha, which is where Mouse spent her time when she vacationed with friends, and where at least some of Jaws was filmed:

There was a fish market there that was known for its clam chowder, and I really wanted some, but we were there too early.  So we had to move on and go around the island to the Aquinnah area.  We enjoyed some overlook views and then went for a very long and very rocky walk on the beach.  I was not wearing the right shoes:

 

One of the things about the beach there is the natural clay, to wit:

Here is the cliff’s worth:

And here’s a shot of a funky little crevice in the clay:

It was tough, but we avoided applying the clay to our bodies.  (heh)

Then, because he loves me and it was my birthday, David drove me back to Menemsha for my clam chowder.

Some sites along the road:

The chowder was delicious. It was worth the zigzag. After the chowder, we drove to South Beach, not far from Edgartown.  This was my favorite beach, and if I one day win that lottery, I will buy me a house near THIS beach.  Even though I’m told it looks nothing like this during the summer, but is instead wall-to-wall people.  I don’t care:

And then, finally, we started to get chilly.  After the entire day of walking on beaches and hanging out outside, we didn’t need a sweater or a coat until 4 p.m.  First time ever for my birthday to be that warm, I’m sure.

And then our funny story of the day:

We to Edgartown for a little bit, because we’d missed a couple of shops before they closed the day before, due to early off-season closing times. We were alone in one of the shops, looking at some wallets, one of which I knew that Mouse wanted, when the door went ding-ding-ding.  An older couple walked in – a polo-clad 60-something man and his fur-drenched wife.  I did a double take and said, “Judge ______?!??!!”  It was the judge I’d worked with during my first summer of law school and his wife.  Very surreal and odd (especially when you think that my true FIRST visit to the Vineyard was the time that I flew there in this judge’s prop plane — I even got to fly for most of the trip.  It was a lot of fun).

He of course was asking me about work and practice and the Big/Old Firm, and I was just about a week out from the lay off news.  I pretended that it hadn’t happened. We just caught up in general. Still, who would have thought?

That night, David went to a more casual restaurant.  I had some oysters, and we had – other food.  I think burgers.  I know it was good, but it wasn’t like the night before.

For our last morning, we got up and did some shell-combing on the beach across the street from our hotel . . .

. . . and headed back to the ferry, relaxed and ready to delve back into our school play.  (Which I plan to be the topic of my next post, but we’ll see.  This series has been exhausting!)

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The Birthday Trip, Day 1 (The Dinner)

February 7, 2012

Like I said in the preview, David and I had a great quick getaway for our birthday weekend, but primarily for his 50th birthday.  The girls were going to friends’ houses, and it was a little strange because they slept at home on Friday night, and slept in on Saturday, but didn’t leave our house to go to their friends’ houses until after we left to catch our ferry.  So we just – walked out.  With two girls asleep in their beds. Of course, we knew they’d be fine (and they were).

We were on a 10 a.m. ferry, and it took about an hour and a half to drive down to Woods Hole, where the ferry leaves from.  It was the first time we’d put our car on a ferry, and so that was not boring.  It was a nice quick ride across the water. When we got to the island, we were a little early to check in at the hotel – a sweet bed and breakfast right across the street from the ocean in Oak Bluffs. So we left the car at the inn and walked into town.  There wasn’t a ton open, but the weather was nice, and we enjoyed the walk.  We ended up having lunch at the same restaurant that we had breakfast/brunch at the last time we were on the island – Slice of Life.

The one other time that we’d been was a bit of a last-minute decision.  Mouse was going with a friend for a long weekend (a portion of her friend’s 2 week vacation), and we had to drive her to the ferry.  We had thought about going onto the island at the same time, but she complained.  This was her trip.  We rolled our eyes, but said fine.  Yet, once we’d driven the 1.5 hours to Woods Hole, we told her we were leaving, waved goodbye as her ferry left, and then bought tickets to the next ferry.  It was a warm June day, and we had nothing with us.  We wandered the town of Oak  Bluffs (where our ferry landed), and then took a bus to Vineyard Haven, and then another bus to Edgartown (those are the three large towns on the island).  All three towns were fine.  But I was jealous of the cars full of towels and beach chairs. I wanted to go see the lighthouse.  I wanted to rent a bike. I wanted to look at a house’s window at the water.

Other than my discontent at not having a house to stay in and beach gear to utilize, we had a good day. Including our breakfast at Slice of Life.  So we were happy to see it was open again.

By the time we ate lunch and got checked into our hotel, it was going on 3, and because it was December, that meant we knew it would be dark soon.  So for the rest of that day, we ended up replicating our first day.  We revisited the spots and shops we remembered from the first trip in all three towns.  We also did some investigation into restaurants.

My friend who goes every summer (who Mouse went with that time 2 years ago) had given me a list of restaurants to check out, sure that at least one of them would be open in the off-season.  None of them were.  So we did our own research into the available options – there were plenty.  There was one menu that jumped out at me, because it had a really solid range of food.   I wanted a nice dinner because this was our big birthday dinner.  We had brought nice clothes, so were equipped to go as fancy as we could. The menu I liked included a range from the fancy to the quick lunch, but what I really liked about it was that it had a “Chef’s Tasting Menu” option.  David was a little less sure, and he also was drawn to a super-fancy French restaurant.

After we had our short list of restaurant choices, we checked them out in person as we went through the towns.  His first choice ended up looking a bit bland, and full of grey and blue-haired folk.  We ended up crossing it off the list, and ultimately deciding to go with the one I liked:  Zephrus, which was in the Mansion House Inn in Vineyard Haven.

The menu had a lot that looked good, but I really wanted to try the tasting menu.  David was a little hesitant, because he was afraid we’d end up with something gross.  (The on-line menu has changed since, so I can’t really share. Sorry.)  We looked at the menu to see if there was anything we’d be unhappy to eat.  The only thing was the fois gras.  Everything else looked great.  But I shut my mouth and let David decide, reminding myself this was his 50th trip.

But he decided to go for it.

Oh My God.

The Tasting Menu was 5 courses, one of which would be dessert.  The chef doesn’t let you partake in the exercise unless everyone at the table is on board.  We were told that our dishes may or may not come from the existing menu – he may make something up on the fly.

Now, I’m sorry to say we didn’t get with the program and start taking photos of the courses from the start, so I do not have a photo of the first course, which was a sweet potato gnocchi with spinach, garlic and some yummy cheese.  I was in heaven.  We both had been a little nervous, not knowing what the heck was coming, and we were both giddy with this first dish.  Sweet potato and spinach are both favorites of mine, and so I was over the moon.

Our second course:

Balsamic braised bay scallops and asparagus over mashed potatoes. This was more David’s dish. Scallops are a huge favorite of his, although asparagus is another favorite of mine, and so were the mashed potatoes.  Again – this was cooked to absolute perfection.

Third course was a salad – but not just any salad – it was a roasted beet salad with gorgonzola and parsley:

(Beets are yet another of my very favorite foods . . . )

We remained giddy, and the chef and the waiter were getting a kick out of our enthusiasm.  After the beet salad, David said, “well, the only way this can get any better is if we get steak for our main course.”  But when the waiter re-set our places after the salad, he didn’t bring steak knives, so we figured we were in for a fish, or something else.

Our 4th Course:

Oh, what’s that?  Filet Mignon over a truffle risotto?  Oh, wait – what’s that?  Risotto, rare steak and truffle are all some of Suzie’s to-die-for foods?  Really??

The waiter chuckled and said, “I didn’t want you to guess, so I didn’t bring your steak knives ahead of time!” as he handed us our steak knives.

For the first few years that David and I spent our birthdays together, we hadn’t yet figured out how to do this “two birthdays in a row” thing, and so we made cakes back-to-back, one for each birthday.  Mine was spice cake, his was German Chocolate.

So what was the 5th course?

That, right there, is the last bite of spice cake.  (That’s a coffee ice cream, and I really wasn’t a fan — not to mention stuffed!)  And so that we had a bit more fun, they brought us different desserts – here’s the second:

A yummy cobbler.

The desserts, frankly, weren’t my favorites.  But I don’t think of myself as a dessert person, as a rule.  Of course there are things I love, but I’m not always ready for a piece of cake.  Also, I’m never a “dessert in a restaurant” person.  I will refuse dessert until after a walk every time.  I’d prefer a solid walk and then a chocolate bar (preferably high quality) or some ice cream. Sometimes, I’d prefer an after-dinner drink to a dessert.  So, the fact that I wasn’t head over heels over the desserts didn’t mean a thing.

David and I both were on cloud 9 after that meal.  We felt like it was really our best meal EVER.  We agreed that there was something to be said for the surprise element – we had no idea what was coming, so we couldn’t have preconceived notions about how it should taste or look or be cooked.  Even putting that psychology aside, though, this food was amazing.

We had gone out to a nice dinner for Thanksgiving, a couple of weeks before this, where we had much less food for the same price.  Hands down, this tasting menu was better than the Thanksgiving meal.  Maybe one of our New Orleans meals 2 years ago (specifically, the one at Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA) came close to this meal.  But, it’s a little doubtful.  It’s probably obvious how awesome this was, since I can still write about it 2 months later with some pretty impressive enthusiasm!

We highly recommend not only Zephrus, if you find yourself on Martha’s Vineyard, but specifically the Chef’s tasting menu.  We went with the 5 course option (I think it was $65/person, but we know it wasn’t more than $85/person — we do know that with drinks and tip the total check came to $227.  Thanks to Mint.com), but there was also a less expensive 3 course option, which did not include dessert.

I think the next time we come across the option of  Chef’s tasting menu, we will take it.  It was really so amazing.

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Birthday Trip Angst (2 months later)

February 7, 2012

I find that while essentially between jobs, my life is dull.  My brain is dull.  I don’t have tons going on.  The girls are doing fine. David is having a more-frustrating job search, but still, that’s fine. Everything is just fine. So I’m a boring blogger.

But there are at least a few things that happened in the past few months that I never had a chance to blog about. I had every intention, but didn’t find the time, and then it felt too far away.  But I’m going to go back anyway.

Back in December, in the aftermath of the lay off news, I was seriously wrestling with whether or not to cancel a planned surprise birthday trip for David.

I’m sure he won’t mind me saying (ha!), but on December 5th, David turned 50.  (Right after I turned 39 on December 4th.)   Of course, we knew this milestone year was coming for quite some time.  I have been saying at least since I was 37 that I want a party for my 40th.  I want us to rent a space and have a BIG party.  Not hundreds big, but 50-big (and that won’t fit in our apartment).  David it’s a “have a party to celebrate ME!” kind of person, but he is a “I want to travel the world!” kind of person, so we always said, a trip for his 50th, a party for my 40th.

As the year/fall came together, I knew I couldn’t pull off the ideal trip (Europe) for his actual birthday.  Not only is it in the middle of an intense time of the school year, but it’s also the weekend before the 7th/8th grade musical at Mouse’s school.  The musical that I produce and for which he runs the lights. We couldn’t go away for much more than a weekend.

I considered doing a Europe trip around Christmas-time, but wasn’t sure I could swing it, financially.  Then the Ex swapped Christmas for Thanksgiving, so we had the girls for Christmas, and we definitely couldn’t afford 4 to Europe. Then the job got shaky, so any of hope of swinging it was dashed.

But I wanted to do something.

He’d been talking for some time about how it would be really cool to be on Martha’s Vineyard during a storm.  We are more wintry weather people than summer weather people, and I thought this could be something that would be a good get-away without breaking the bank.  I checked in with my co-producer back in September, got the okay to disappear for the final weekend of the show, and started making quiet plans.

I checked out the ferry (I wanted to take our car over – the last and only time we’d been to the Vineyard, we went for the day, without the car, and I didn’t think it worked to be there without a car), I checked out off-season hotels.  Prices were great ($100/night, instead of $400/night during peak).  I did enough research to know that we wouldn’t be without any amenities in the winter.  Getting the kids taken care of was tougher – I had talked to my mom, and while she wanted to come and help, she was a little stuck because she was taking time off to come see Mouse’s play the very next weekend.  And my plans REQUIRED us to be gone into Monday, because his birthday was Monday.  If we came home on Sunday – my birthday – then it would feel like I got the trip for his 50th birthday.  Probably weird, but the truth.  It was fine, though, because I instantly had 3 friends raising hands and offering to take the girls.  (As it turns out, my co-producer not only shouldered the play for the weekend, but she also took Mouse in!)

I had fun thinking about how I would surprise him.  Would I tell him the night before “I have plans for us tomorrow, we’re getting up early – no questions asked.”  If anyone did that to me, I’d be pissed, and would never sleep the night before.  I HATE surprises.  But he’s not me.  He loves surprises.  And how would I get him to have his stuff?  I could pack him a bag, but again, if anyone did that for me, I’d be pissed (and my laundry wouldn’t be done, so they wouldn’t be able to get my favorite clothes, and it would suck).  I could tell him we’re going away for the weekend, and not tell him where, but that would be less fun.

In the end, I got laid off, instead.  We were facing a huge unknown about whether we’d end up with no income at the end of February, or if I’d end up taking a 75% pay cut, or what was going to happen.  The trip felt . . . wrong.  But I also couldn’t let go of it.  I couldn’t think of a single thing that I could do for his 50th that wouldn’t (a) suck, or (b) rival the cost of the weekend.  And I got kind of upset about it.

Because of our situation, I felt that I couldn’t just up & go with the plan without involving David in the financial decision-making.  And at some point in the lay off aftermath, I came clean with my plans.  He liked the idea, but didn’t think we could afford it, and that it wouldn’t be wise.

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, we started some Christmas shopping for the girlios.  We had a fun day out on Small Business Saturday, and ended up at one of our favorite restaurants in town.  The gift-buying had me thinking about and stressing about his birthday.  I’d ask him what he wanted, and he’d say something like, “Oh, I’d really like a striped hat.”  Or, “I do need a new winter coat.” And I was so frustrated.  It was his 50th.  It was a big deal.  He wasn’t getting a fucking hat.

By the time we were at the restaurant, I was all worked up.  I brought up the weekend again.  He again pushed back.  And then, really not in Suzie-style, I started to cry.  In the restaurant.  I just cried and cried.  His eyes bugged out of his head, and we started to talk about a one-night trip, instead.  The ferry and the hotel together would cost about the same as a nice dinner out in Boston – we can swing that.  No problem.  My mom had even offered to give us a night at the Inn as David’s birthday present, so we could do it.  And we’ll both get jobs, and we do have savings, and okay okay okay.

So we pulled the trigger on a Sunday – Monday trip.  It didn’t take long after that for us to say “oh what the hell” and put Saturday night back into the equation.

[Then, after making the decision, I got an unexpected $500 profit sharing sort of payment thing from my firm, and it definitely helped make this more reasonable.]

And I guess I’ll have to blog about the actual trip in a separate post, since this is already a novel.  Preview:  It Was Awesome.

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