Archive for July, 2011

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Harry Potter – With Spoilers – Why I Still Hate Snape

July 25, 2011

I started this post on Friday.  But work got busy – I didn’t even leave there until 7:30 p.m.  Then I came home to no power (and yes, it was still 100 degrees).  Saturday was … busy?  I don’t remember what I did on Saturday.  But I think I was busy.  Yesterday was beach day no. 2, this time with family.  Lemon spent most of her time on the beach, listening to A Very Potter Musical on her iPhone, and reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  Every now and then she’d pipe up to share with me little tidbits that stood out at her: “Mom!  Snape just took one point from Gryffindor!  One point!”  (WD, who hasn’t read the books, didn’t understand why that was remarkable.  Lemon and I thought everyone knew that, duh, it’s always like 100 or 150 points being taken away by the end.)  So, Harry Potter lives in our house (as the chalkboard in the kitchen says:  JULY 31:  POTTERMORE!!!).  And is still something we share.  So excuse my obsessiveness here, and please know, I could be worse.  I could be like my daughter.

Last Friday, I stayed home from work.  Things have started to pick up, and I was very busy on Wednesday and Thursday, but was still able to be at home on Friday.  Which was good, because I had to take Lemon to the doctor to check things out in light of an extreme dizzy spell she suffered from on Wednesday.

The night before, Lemon went to see Harry Potter.  Not the midnight show – that was sold out.  Instead, she went to the 12:09 a.m. showing.  She went with 3 friends and one mom.

It never occurred to me – or the other mom (who was, incidentally, also Wednesday’s beach buddy) – that I would want to go, too.  I’ve never gone to a midnight showing (she has).  I read the books, but only saw the movies because my kids did and I was in the room (sometimes).  I’m not 100% certain that I have seen all of the movies.

But on Thursday evening, with all the buzz on twitter, facebook & blogs, I wished I was going.

On Friday morning, I found myself with a sleeping 15 yo, a 13 yo at camp, and some time on my hands.  So I read 1,000 reviews of the movie, including this amazing review/retrospective in my local paper.  I sobbed through the reading of it.

I must admit, I was caught off guard by the emotions of it.  Miss Zoot’s peeks backward also had me choked up.

So I went into my weekend in the Berkshires with Potter on the brain.  Lemon spent most of the day on Friday giving me some of the rundown, and her parental escort was with us on the trip, so she also had some feedback to give (all positive).

And we chatted a bit about the books/movies/story line.

And we debated.

Because 2 of my friends said they “love Snape.”  Whaaa?  Severus Snape?  (snape, snape, severus snape)

“The whole story happens because of Snape!”

“Snape was the bravest, most loyal of them all!”

“Snape was the most  complicated and developed character in the whole saga!”

To which I said — bullllllshit.

But while calling bullshit, I had a wee bit of a hard time recalling the intricacies of how things ended with Snape.  So I thought it was highly likely that I’d end up back pedaling in the end.

But then I re-read the chapter that gives his back story.  Then I saw the movie.

And I still call bullshit.

Maybe not on the idea that “the story could have never happened without him” (but I think I’m almost there …) but I can definitely say that he was not the bravest, he was not the most developed character, and he is not someone I would have ever, ever named a baby after.

I really don’t care that he loved Lily Potter back when she was still friendly with her sister Petunia.  His love for her didn’t make him a better person.  It didn’t keep him from becoming an evil follower of Voldemort.  And the only reason he went begging to Dumbledore  (and therefore became a ‘double agent’) was because of a selfish plea to save a single person that HE (Snape) was attached to.  Not because he saw that it was wrong to kill innocent people.  Not because he decided Voldemort was vile.

So, yeah, his murdering of Dumbledore wasn’t as horrid as it potentially could have been.  He was saving Draco Malfoy from the scarring experience of murdering someone he respected.  He was fulfilling Dumbledore’s own wishes.  Dumbledore was going to die with the year, anyway.  But none of that means that Snape was good.

Snape was never good.  He was nasty, bitter, jealous, and two-faced. Even after he started helping to “protect” Harry.  Look at what he did to Hogwarts when he was headmaster?  There is nothing good about that.

And I do think the story could have happened without him.

 

(All of that said – Alan Rickman is No. 1.)

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Harry Potter – A Week Late & Ill Advised

July 22, 2011

[I was going to write about the actual movie in this post.  But then I rambled about how I shouldn’t have gone to see the movie, and how I’m a bad adult and a bad parent and am ashamed of myself.  NEXT, I will talk about the movie.  And Snape.  With Spoilers out the wazoo.]

Mouse and I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (or, as I like to call it “HP7b”), last night.  Before I discuss the movie, I’d like to talk about what an idiot I am.

I went to the beach yesterday, like I said.  I had a great time with a great friend.  I swam, I sunned, I ate, I burned.  And come 4 p.m., when we got home, I was exhausted.  Just absolutely tuckered.  I knew that Mouse and I had talked about going to the movie, but I believed at that moment that it was a Bad Idea.  Not only because of the exhaustion, but also because this is the day that WD comes home after 10 days up north doing writerly things, and the house was a freaking disaster.

Also, the child has a cough.  It started on Thursday, but I kind of didn’t see her on Thursday.  Or Friday.  She went to a friend’s house after her day camp on Thursday, and they drove out to the Berkshires ahead of me on Thursday night. When I came across her on Friday night, she was coughing up a lung.  “Why are you coughing?”  “Because I’m sick, duh.”  On Tuesday night, the cough kept her up until close to 1 a.m.  She woke up for camp the next day (yesterday, the day of the movie negotiations) feeling like complete shit.  Whining, complaining, coughing, pouting, almost crying.  I said, “Mouse, you must get to bed early tonight – and I will enforce it!  I mean by 9!” [god, i feel like such a horrible mother/adult for not having actually enforced it …]

Also, did I mention I was exhausted?

She came home, “let’s go see Harry Potter!”  I told her the movie time didn’t work, and would make dinner almost impossible; she had to go to bed early; she had flowers to water; we had a house to clean.  She said, “I’ll eat a good snack and eat a light dinner when we get home and then go STRAIGHT to bed; I’ll help you clean the house; I’ll water the flowers on the way home!” [Clearly, I wanted to see the movie, since I didn’t bother to piece all of this together to see that it would never, in a million years, without a time-turner, fit prior to 9 p.m.]

In the meantime, Lemon is texting me that she needs to bake cookies for a “Secret Santa” [Yes, she realizes it’s July: “duh, Mom, that’s kind of the point”] and needs chocolate chips and containers in which to pack the cookies.  It’s important, she tells me, that the containers be something she can decorate.

Mouse made me feel bad, saying we already put the movie off twice. She reminded me how much I wanted to see the movie.  Which was very, very true.  She swore up & down she’d help me clean.  She made cute faces.

I said yes.

Regret, it runs deep.

I took a nap – went to lie down at 4:30.  I told her to wake me up at 5, and then after waking me up and while I got ready to go, she’d have to go water the flowers.

I slept hard for that hour.  What’s that you say?  4:30 – 5 is not an hour, but rather a half-hour?  That would be right.  But she didn’t wake me up at 5.  She woke me up at 5:30.  She “lost track of time.” I’m guessing on the computer.

I guess this would have been the perfect opportunity for me to say “this can’t work.”  But instead, I thought, “Harry Potter!  Harry Potter!”  You know, like this:

 

God, I love that.

So, we went and got on the T.

I loved the movie.  Mouse loved checking to see if I was crying.  Then she loved flipping her head upside down to put her hair in a pony tail, missing very important facial expressions.

Grrr.

I guess there’s a reason why the child put the series down in the middle of the 7th book.  “It was so boorriiinnnggg, they were just wandering around in the woods and stuff for WEEKS!”

So, the movie [which will be the topic of another post] ended, and she had to pee, and I had to find containers and chocolate chips.

We went to Bed, Bath & Beyond, which is between the theater and the T stop.  She peed, and I found out that they did NOT have the containers that Lemon wanted.  So I bought other containers, knowing she’d be upset.  I was just starting to have thoughts like, “why is this MY job?  I’m not the one doing Secret Santa in July,” and “why is she telling me what she needs the night before?” and “shouldn’t she be using her allowance for these kinds of purchases?” creeping into my head.  But I went to Staples anyway, and bought a giant-ass set of Sharpies.  There were hundreds of colors in that package.  It was quite orgasmic.

Then we waited for at least 10,000 hours for the T to finally decide it was worthwhile to travel down the tracks and carry people from one place to another. The thoughts of irritation and regret were starting to take over.  Mouse was getting cuddly (on a very warm night, standing on a train platform), and I was getting decidedly UNcuddly.

The train finally comes, and we walk the several blocks to a large Walgreens to get chocolate chips.  (This is where the “why the fuck did I let WD take the car with him?” thoughts start creeping in.  So now I’m irritated with everybody.)  I know this walgreens carries sugar, and ice cream, and canned vegetables, and sour cream.  So chocolate chips seem likely.  If not, well, Stop & Shop is only several more blocks up the road (and in the opposite direction of our HOUSE).

Guess what Walgreens does not carry?  Chocolate chips.  They have honey, they have marshmallows, they have unrefrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough, they have flour.  They have VANILLA!!!  But no chocolate chips?

So I’m just about starting to lose it.  I’m texting Lemon, and she’s all “sorry you have to walk to Stop & Shop, mom.”  And I suggest that Mouse go home and shower while I walk to Stop & Shop.  But it’s after 9 at this point, and dark, and she doesn’t want to walk alone. I don’t blame her, and am not at all inclined to push her, but I don’t know what to do, and I think my head may pop off.  All I want is my car.  And I want it to be 5 p.m.  And I want Mouse in bed, and to stop coughing.  And I don’t want Lemon to have cooking-baking in front of her.

And none of us had any dinner, and there weren’t many choices in the house in that department and I was freaking out.

And then it was 9:30.

Mouse said, “Mommy, maybe she can use M&Ms instead of chocolate chips?”

I text Lemon.

“That would be great! Sure!”

The tension leaks out a little bit, and I thank Mouse for her creative problem-solving.  I’m feeling better.  Stop & Shop averted.  M&Ms bought. We walk home.

It’s late, so I can’t defrost and cook the ziti WD had left behind.  So I think I’ll make Trader Joe’s fish nuggets (they’re very good), and some perogi’s.  I turn on the oven, start to boil water, and SHIT!

Mouse hadn’t watered the flowers.  She’s being paid obnoxious amounts of money to keep our dear friend’s garden alive during her 2 week vacation.  And we’re in the midst of a heat wave:

Mouse hadn’t been to the garden the day before, and the next day was going to be just as hot.  She needed to water those flowers.

But she was starting to feel tired, her cough was acting up, and she was tired.  “Mommy, I can’t do it.  I’m so hungry, and I have to shower, and it’s dark! I can’t go there by myself in the dark!”

Tipping point reached.

I thereabouts start to yell.  I put the fish nuggets back in the freezer and SLAM the door shut.  Lemon looks at me with giant eyes as I’m saying “too bad! you can’t blow this off!”  I turn the oven off, I take the water off the burner, I put my flip flops on, and I slam out of the house with Mouse trailing behind, head down.

Then I feel bad.  It takes me a good chunk of time to get her to relax after the tension I infused into her.  I apologize for getting pissed.  I tell her that I made bad decisions, that we should have never gone.  “But you wanted to see the movie, too.”  We water teh flowers [it’s 3 blocks from our house].  We go home.

I made the fish nuggets while Mouse was in the shower.  Scrapped the perogis. Cleaned the kitchen. Lemon made cookies. I straightened the house.  Mouse went to bed.  I took very, very deep breaths.

And realized that I really needed my second adult.  I don’t like being a single parent.  Because while Wednesday night was chaos, Tuesday wasn’t tons better, and really, either was Monday.  Last week, my first without WD, went smooth.  Not too much chaos.  But this week?

Yuck.

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Beach Day!

July 20, 2011

Today, it was time.  Time to stop whining that this summer isn’t fun, that I don’t have a vacation*, that I haven’t been to the beach.

My running-buddy and I started talking about our need for the beach a week or so ago.  We both had plans for the weekends in the foreseeable future, and we were bumming.

But then, I got smart.

“Let’s take a day off. Mid-week.  And go to the beach.  Without our kids.”

The lightbulb above both our heads glowed brightly, and we started to think about what would work best.

Today.  Today worked best.

I let everyone at work know that I’d have to be “off-site” today.  She told her employer that she needed to take a personal day.

We went for our usual 5:30 a.m. run.  Discreetly didn’t mention to our newly acquired 3rd runner that sunscreen and trashy novels were on our agenda for the day.

Lobster rolls, too.  Lobster rolls were added to the agenda as of yesterday.

She came and picked me up at 9 a.m.  I took a minute to make us both some iced coffee in my Keurig.  We loaded the car.

We had to make a couple stops:  As of last year, I cannot go to the beach without Sunchips.  She needed water.

We were at the beach by 10:30.
Landscape around Singing Beach in Manchester, MA.

[this was our beach of the day]

It was a little more crowded than that, but not by much.  Although the crowds grew as the day went on.

She had her Kindle, I had my brick of a paper-and-glue Gabaldon novel. [the iPad’s failing — I cannot bring it into the sand.]

We swam in the ocean. It wasn’t horribly cold, and it was nice and deep, and we chatted and tread water and swam in the depths where our feet couldn’t touch the ground.

I love being further into the ocean and facing away from the beach.  Watching the dark New England water rolling along – it’s bliss.

We left around 2.  I’d started to get a little nervous about sunburn, even though I was ridiculously vigilant about applying sunscreen.  [note foreshadowing.]

Then we went for our lobster rolls.

$19.95, and worth every penny.  The lobster was so yummy, and the flavor was perfect.  not too bland, not too fishy.  The roll was so buttery and perfectly toasted.  The fries were fresh and delicious.

On the drive home my knees turned a little red.

By the time I got home, my calves and shins were red.

I did not put sunblock from my knees down because they NEVER burn.  NEVER.

Oh – wait.  I did put sunscreen on my left shin, just below the knee.  I must have had extra on my hand and wiped it off.  Because there’s a perfectly-defined white hand print in the midst of all the red.  Nice going, Suz.

Oh, and there are two little spots, one on the top of each thigh.  Must be where the book rubbed the sunscreen off, and then shifted to let the sun in and burn, baby, burn.

So I’m in relative pain tonight. But at least it’s just my legs, and not my face.

Because then I’d get looks upon my return to work tomorrow.

“Off site, hmmm???”

[Not that I’m not entitled to a vacation/beach day.  for crying out loud.  I have 4 weeks per year, and this was my third DAY in 2011.]

 

*I think we actually ARE going to take a vacation.  Last week of August.  North Carolina Outer Banks.  It’s going to be awesome.

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Weekend in the Berkshires

July 18, 2011
  • Four great friends;
  • 7 kids from 3 families;
  • Just enough husbands (2) to entertain and provide pool supervision for said kids;
  • Several mah jongg games;
  • Sunshine;
  • Shade;
  • Pool;
  • Delicious food;
  • Yummy cocktails.
Need I say more?
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More on Running & the Related.

July 7, 2011

I have continued to meet my friend to run 3-4 days a week.

My back pain has continued, too.  It doesn’t really hurt (often) while I’m running – the pain hits later in the day, and mostly comes while sitting.

(My job = desk job = sitting all day long)

Last week, I ran 6 days out of 7 and counted calories like a very good girl.  I also drank close to zero glasses of wine or beers.  And I lost 8 pounds.

This weekend, I went to my parents’ house, and didn’t run for 3 days, and drank wine and didn’t count calories. And it looks like I gained 6 back.

In 3 days?  What the hell?

I also went to the doctor.  For the first physical in several years.  She did the old, “Your back hurts since you started running?  So stop running.”  And I did the typical Suzie, “uh, no.”  She told me to do the elliptical.  I said not until they install them around the reservoir.  And not until my friend who meets me in the mornings chooses an elliptical.

Look – before I was meeting someone in the mornings, I wasn’t getting up.  I wasn’t exercising.  Now I am.  My back will survive.  I’m sure of it.

My mom has Type 2 diabetes.  It’s one of the reasons why I’m determined to lose my extra weight and develop healthy habits of exercise and strength.  So I don’t become her.  And when I went to the doctor, she took some of my blood (4 vials worth, actually).  It said that I am a fraction of a decimal away from pre diabetes.  Reinforcing that I need to do this.

I also have slightly elevated bad cholesterol.

The only recommendations were – lose weight.

I guess that’s what I’ll do, then.

I wonder how much I can lose in the next 6 weeks (i.e., before the Ex comes to town to visit Mouse; I’d love to avoid his smirky glance as he silently appraises my weight.  Only “silently” since the time I told him very plainly that he no longer is in a position to comment on my appearance.  If he ever was.)

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By the Numbers

July 7, 2011

Remember the whole dispute, with my Ex, about his salary and appropriate child support and college savings?  I eventually went to talk to a lawyer – one I’d consulted with before.  I met with her on May 18th.

In the meantime, I’ve been asking the Ex to help out with some of the girls’ summer expenses.  Because I’ve paid $10,000 (this includes only a slight amount of rounding — mathematically acceptable rounding.  Meaning the literal number is something north of $9,500) toward camps and sports activities in order to keep the girls engaged and happy all summer long.  Typically, I would pay approximately $2,000, maybe a little bit more, because he usually has them in July.  So I thought a contribution would be fair.

But he refused to agree to any amount of a contribution until he knew how much additional child support I’d be asking for.

Despite his apparent willingness to contribute some money, I was very doubtful.

If, say, he was thinking he’d give me $1,000 toward summer expenses, and then I said, “I think that in light of the fact that you make DOUBLE the salary you’ve previously admitted to, you should pay an extra $100/mo in child support,” my belief was he would say, “well, I was going to give you $1,000 toward the summer expenses, but now I need that $1,000 to cover the extra child support that you’re demanding, and that I cannot afford.  I don’t know what I’ll do after the 10 months is up.”

But nevertheless, I started to harass that attorney I had spoken to (meaning … a full 4 weeks after I met with her, I called her.  Then again.  Then again.) I had left her office on May 18th, with the promise for an estimate of appropriate and realistic (i.e., what a judge would order) child support in light of the Ex’s true salary.

Finally, on July 1st, she sent me a letter.

Now I’m going to talk numbers (his, not mine).

The Ex had been leading me to believe that he made something like $58,000/year.  Based on this belief, I believed that my salary was some multiple of his.  Based on what I saw as fairness, I had agreed – upon the start of my job in BigLaw, to $500/mo – total – in child support.

I waived contributions to extra curricular activities.  My thinking was that it was unfair for me to make unilateral decisions on what the girls would participate in and require him (with such a low salary) to contribute equally.  So we decided that when they were with him, he would pay for activities, and when they were with me, I would pay for activities.  (Which, of course, only resulted in them sitting around watching t.v. all day during the time they were with him.)

This was also a considerable reduction in costs for him because he was no longer paying toward child care.  Because the girls got old.

From the point of that decision to accept $500/mo (knowing that the Massachusetts child support guidelines suggested that the right number was $850+/mo), my salary increased each year, while he shared tales of woe and budget freezes and increased expenses and general poverty.

So much so that one summer he convinced me that if he had to send me child support while the girls were visiting him, he would be unable to feed them.

That began our summer waivers.  Because how could I possibly deprive my own daughters of FOOD?

So, my recent discovery was that he is in fact making over $100,000/year, plus significant income ($30K, approx) in the summers.  And this is in the Middle of the Country, where the cost of living is approximately 60% of what it is here.

Now – just to be clear.  I am actually not looking for more money to flow into my budget right now.  The entire inquiry into his salary came out of a meeting with a financial planner to talk about funding the girls’ college education.  Because the Ex and I together made the decision to have our children when we were young (22 and 24, to be exact) and not yet done with our own educations, we did not begin saving for college during our marriage.  He did not finish his dissertation until months (years?) after our separation, and never had a salary during our marriage.  I supported our family with various part time jobs and my own business while we were married.  After our divorce, I struggled to make ends meet as a single mother of two pre-school aged children, and again, was not saving for college.  I think that after our divorce, it didn’t even dawn on him that he may have some responsibility toward the girls’ college education.  He did not save.

As I told him, my proposal is that any amount that any increase in child support will be deposited – either by him or by me – into a savings account for college.  Whether alongside my own aggressive monthly contributions, or in a second account. (Although I’ve also made clear that any arrangement we make is contingent on me keeping my current job.  If I move on from BigLaw, I will not have the same considerations, as this salary is only available from this kind of job.)

My lawyer took the new salary figures, taking into account my salary, and told me that she believes that the proper figure for child support paid by him is somewhere between $1,800 and $2,000 per month.  This only includes his annual salary, and not his summer income.  (He insists that his summer income is variable, and refused to come to any agreement if summer salary was factored in.  In reality, adding in the summer income changes the equation by approximately $60/mo, and so I don’t care.)

Under the current arrangement, he makes $107,000/year (at least), and contributes $5,500/year toward the support of the girls.  If we were to take the low side of the lawyer’s numbers, he would be contributing, instead, $21,000/year.

But I think that $1,800 is too high.

I did tell him that is what she came out with, and of course, he freaked out.  “I can’t afford that!” And then regaled me with a full explanation of his budget.

I told him to stick it.  I don’t give a crap about his budget.  Child support is not made of whatever is left over at the end of the month.  It is a starting place from which you create your budget.  It’s one of the very first line items.  Like rent, and loan payments.

But, still, I think $1,800 is too high.

I told him that I’d been thinking an additional $500/mo, deposited into a savings account.

Funny how talking to him about an additional $1,300/mo affected his thinking about an additional $500/mo.

He was completely receptive.  Fine.  What kind of account?

I guess this just goes to show that he knows he was wrong in deceiving me about his true income. Like he was just waiting for this shoe to drop, and is resigned toward it.

Also – he’s sending me $750 toward the summer.  Which is fine.

So there’s that.

I guess next up is a dispute over next summer & the girls’ time.  As Lemon has increasing commitments for school sports, and Mouse just does not want to go there – like, ever – it is only getting harder.

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The Fourth

July 5, 2011

We have spent several of the 4th of Julys that we have been in New England on the bank of the Charles River.  WD and I tried, last night, to count how many – precisely.

We failed. But we came close.  Out of the 7 years we’ve been in Boston, we remembered:

  • Year one (2005):  the year we camped out, early, and got sunburned, and fell in love with the magic of Boston fireworks.
  • The year (2006) that the girls were in the Middle of the Country, and WD and I came home from a long weekend away with sunburns to nurture, and chose beer over fireworks (wise choice … it was a good night)
  • The year (2007, maybe?) we camped out early, and got soaked – with a chill.  Mouse, in particular, spent the day wrapped in a blanket, trying to keep her teeth from chattering. They almost canceled the fireworks, but ultimately did not.
  • The year that the girls were in the Middle of the Country (2009), and WD and I walked to the Cambridge side of the river in the evening, to try something “different” – but ended up watching the fireworks from the Mass Ave. bridge.
  • Last year (2010) – when WD and I escorted Lemon and some of her friends (very late – I think we left home at 9:30) to the mob scene on the bank of the Charles and then walked right back with them.

During those early years, I was a bit of a spaz with the girls.  If we were in the crowds, I made sure WD and I each held on tight to a hand, the whole time.

Last night, we didn’t have Lemon with us.  We had Mouse & a friend.

I had a certain measure of anxiety – I did have charge over a friend.  It was late.  It was dark.  I did hold a hand.

But that other child of mine?

She was doing the same thing we were: making her way to the bank of the river late in the day, blanket in hand, friends in tow.  They staked out their own spot.  Each of them (there were 9) brought food contributions.  They brought games.  Probably, they sang along with the Star Spangled Banner and with the (very awesome) orchestral Bohemian Rhapsody. I wouldn’t know  for certain though.  Because we were over here ____ right across from the barge, and they were over there —–> near the Hatch Shell.

We both had great views.

We both made it home shortly after midnight (us on foot, her on the T).

Teenage freedom, urban style:  Survived.

And a happy 4th was had by all.