Saturday, December 22, 2012

12/122/12 Enjoyment

Rainy Saturdays mean a spinning class instead of running. But I always welcome the break and the rainy day!

The spin class is taught by a funny, cheerful guy with a longstanding following, and his classes are fun and popular -- so much that his wife always attends class too. They've been married over 30 years and have a grandson, who the instructor shows pictures of in every class. During class, the teacher makes jokes and says things about his wife, like kidding that she's going to lead the class in the next sing-a-long. She laughs and shyly accepts the attention, never certain what he's going to say, but comfortable in his adoration.

It got me thinking. The few couples I've known who've been together for multiple decades have obviously survived a lot. They're past the stresses of childraising, they've come to terms with their differences, time has made major issues fade. And they enjoy each other.

During spin class, I thought about that for a while: being "enjoyed." Being appreciated...well no, appreciation is different, that implies a specific action that should be acknowledged.

When I think about things like this, I know how much I am my father's daughter. My Dad would have spent hours philosophizing the finer points of "enjoy" versus "delight" versus "surprise" versus "appreciation." (I always knew he totally enjoyed me, even while I drove him crazy....)

I think the word "enjoy" connotes relaxation, a total lack of effort, ubiquity, naturalness; that feeling happy about something or someone is a guttural response, lacking analysis and rumination; an uncontrived, unadulterated good feeling. We enjoy pets that way, for instance....(well, until they poop on our beds).

Have I, as an individual, ever "felt" enjoyed? Sure, by friends and family, and sometimes by coworkers too.

But what by about by a life's partner, someone you spend every day with, share the little bits of life with, who sees all sides of you? That's a much higher standard than a friend afternoon catching up over coffee enjoying your company. Maybe "enjoyment" is such a high standard that it should be reserved for people who don't actually have to live with each other.

Still, I think I do remember feeling truly "enjoyed." I do remember things I said randomly laughed at, being smiled at for no other reason than I was just being me, being accompanied on a silly endeavour just because a mood hit. That's feeling like you're creating enjoyment for someone else just by being yourself. That's really, really hard to remember or imagine right now, but it does ring bells from days far, far it's remarkable seeing how clear and natural it is for other people.

Saturday morning spinning is still a compromise to running, but I do so enjoy seeing this man truly enjoy his revered, cherished wife -- of 30+ years. (Dad, I know you're laughing good-naturedly at me right now!)


Friday, December 21, 2012

12/21/12 Disaster Recovery

Two days ago, two days before the biggest holiday of the year, a "disaster recovery" project at work hit. "Disaster recovery" data centers are intended to take over when calamaties hit the primary sites -- think Hurricane Sandy. Why did the NYSE shut down for two days!

And suddenly, I get pulled into this project, to be completed before years' end (!) as networking representative. That means designing and recommending routers, firewalls, switches, load balancers, and possibly several other sorts of things as well, all the while feebly protesting that network designs don't happen overnight.

The sudden, drastic, impossible workload during the holidays might seem like a reason to complain bitterly, but in fact, I'm delighted, excited and having a blast with the challenge, whether or not I meet it.

Perhaps because disaster recovery is a very current theme in my life right now....!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

12/20/12 Christmas Kats

A new favorite place to hide: under the Christmas tree!

The kids are very excited about presents. Reminds me of my gift-counting days as a kid....Katrina is the most organized about this, of course.

Whee! We're very excited about Christmas!!

Uh-oh....Santa, you're on notice: even though you're in doubt, you'd better not disappoint. But at least there's something under the tree for the Christmas Cats -- including them!!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

12/19/12 The Indignity

This poor kitty...not only does he have reputation as being not super-bright, but he's subject to all sorts of teasing about his pathetic, wistful little mee-ows.

And now, his nickname "Dude" has morphed into the downright disrespectful "Doodle."

He takes it all in stride though, never hisses or bats, never runs (unlike his nervous mother), and just seems to hang out and take it all in stride. Not bad for a Doodle. Totally lovable, if not particularly dignified.


12/19/12 Holiday potlucks

This week at school is largely about holidays and celebrations and "multi-cultural" learning, which is sort of amusing considering that the vast majority of "culture" at our school is from India. Even the Indian moms complain that it's hardly multi-cultural -- and the few other Moms from other cultures seem not to have sufficient English to chime in.

But I don't mind at all, especially when it comes to the food. YUMMY! These moms can cook!

Spicy and flavorful and exotic...oh wow. I had to laugh when I saw no fewer than 5 other teachers raid Julian's classroom "potluck" today for the wonderful food -- including Katrina's teacher, who'd just hosted such a potluck herself the day before!

I had such a nice time chatting with the Indian moms (as they almost all are) at Julian's class's Holiday MultiCultural Potluck, asking about the food and recipes, nosing into their culture and lives. One of Julian's table-mates' Moms told me about how they'd moved here a few years ago from Massachusetts, and she felt tremendous pressure at school. We had such a great time talking that, that once again, I left feeling like I'd made a true friend. I chuckle all the time at being a total racial and cultural minority at this school, but I really like the Indian moms. Calm, honest, free of hangups -- and boy, can they cook.

Eek, no closeup photo should be allowed for a woman of my age -- let alone an iPhone closeup -- but, for my son's sake...

One more holiday potluck to go, but unfortunately, parents aren't invited to tomorrow's 5th-grade potluck. Rats, I'd love to have a 3rd day in a row of Idali, Saffron rice, Samosas and all sorts of other things I can't begin to name, but are super-yummy!


12/19/12 Brigidieros

The week before Christmas is a busy one at school, but not so much about learning! Well, not in traditional schoolwork terms anyway. Mostly, it's about holiday potlucks and celebrations and special events.

Gabriel's class is doing something about celebrations from different cultures, including a potluck tomorrow, and he was insistent about making Brigidieros. Believe it or not, this is a treat from Argentina -- which Julian just did a report about -- and wasn't in the "Argentina Cooks" recipe book I bought.

But Gabriel found a recipe online, and insisted we make it tonight. Which we did. It was more labor-intensive than ingredient-intensive, but an insistent 10-year-old can stand over a pot and stir it incessantly, then roll things in coconut. Which we did.

Unfortunately, the 5th-grade doesn't invite the parents to the potluck, so I won't see -- or taste -- the spoils! But it was fun to do.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

12/18/12 Prowlers beware!

Someone is always on the prowl for perpetrators!!

I'm quite certain this is the most beautiful cat I've ever seen in my life (with apologies to Sebastian).

We're becoming quite the pair of pals! She sleeps with me sometimes now, and always follows me around. Though she nervously scoots away at the slightest sign of activity, she re-appears cautiously within moments. Definitely a Type-A, but totally my new bud.

12/18/12 Minority Report

Today I went to Katrina's classroom's "Winter Potluck," to which all parents are invited. Katrina wasn't expecting me, so she was sitting at her table in the back of the room when I arrived and didn't see me at first.

(So sorry, no photos -- my "new" camera is on the blink, and I forgot my crummy "old" camera. I now wish I had taken something with my awful iPhone camera, because I know from family how comforting it is to see photos of happy 6-year-olds right now, in light of the horrendous tragic events in Connecticut this week.)

The moment I walked in the door, I was accosted by a kid: "Are you KATRINA'S MOM?!" I've never been to this classroom during the day, I'm not one of those super-volunteer-type of Moms who are well-known in the classroom, and I'd never seen the kid. "Yes I am!" I told him, "Where is she?"

As I made my way back to Katrina's table, I was accosted twice more by little people: "Hey, are you KATRINA'S Mom?!"

Katrina was delighted to see me, and we launched right into 1st-grade chatter, until her "Tiger Table" was called up to indulge in the fabulous spicy potluck.

Alone momentarily, another girl I hadn't seen yet saw me and said, "Oh, are you KATRINA's MOM?"

This time, I put the bright little thing on the spot and said, "Yes I am -- but tell me, how did you know?" The girl hesitated, looked around, and then said, "Well, you're the only other American here!"

Two other (Indian) Moms within earshot, and I, totally cracked up. It was all we could do to contain our laughter! We were all instant friends.

Indeed, looking around Katrina's classroom, it was striking. I was one the only other Mom there without a saree, or long thick black hair, lovely dark skin, an exotic accent, and knowledge of the wonderful flavorful food. There was one other Dad, but he was clearly Asian, and I heard him apologetically explain to another kid that he doesn't speak Mandarin (I think he was Vietnamese).

I've had years of experience with being a minority at this school, so it shouldn't faze me at all anymore, but it's still striking sometimes. Looking around the classroom, Katrina looks so, so different from her classmates. She's the whitest and the blondest -- and obviously her Mom stands out enough to invite curious questions from classmates.

It also seemed that none of her classmates knew she had two brothers, let alone at the same school. They were all verrrry impressed!

I so enjoyed chatting with the friendly kind Indian moms, especially about food.

Being a "minority" (and only in a good way) was on my mind because of this:

Last week, I attended a technical conference in San Mateo with a coworker. This particular coworker is unusual -- on first glance, one might assume he's African-American, but he's not American at all, he's just African. From Kenya, he has extremely dark skin, a heavy accent, quaint expressions -- and a deep resume. I've never known such a geek, such an enthusiast, so bright, so complete. He's really exciting to work with. Even though I'm not personally thrilled by application-level virtualization, he enthusiastically tolerates and inquires into my affinity for wireless -- and good-naturedly laughed at me for my routine airtime-sniffing-analysis at the hotel where the conference was (and sheesh, I hadn't even pulled out my prized spectrum analyzer).

Anyway, entering the room, he and I made quite the odd pair, especially from the same company. 99% of the attendees were white men, so here one company sends a black man and a woman. I wanted to ask him, "Do you ever feel like a minority?!" Not that he'd care or spend any time on it -- he didn't grow up a minority and doesn't seem to believe barriers exist for him, and really, he's so unbelievably capable, they don't.

I've been a minority in one way or another most of my life. I was raised in Brooklyn in a black (that's what we called it then) and Puerto-Rican neighborhood, and then have been a woman in the computer science/engineering world throughout my career, and now my children are one of a tiny handful of Caucasian-race children in their classrooms.

I do know that's not the same thing as being a "minority" all the time, but still, it's a constant reality. Not a bad one at all... but sometimes I wonder: what would it be like to be like most of the world and not be a minority?


Monday, December 17, 2012

12/17/12 The "Message Language"

Katrina claims that Meow-stache can understand her "message language," including reading notes Katrina writes.

Ok, that's a stretch, but what could make a network-engineer mother prouder than hearing a term like "message language"?! That's protocol!! Ahh, a chip off the old block!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

12/16/12 Decorating

The kids and I decorated our Christmas tree today. It was fun, Katrina was so excited! She was dancing around, talking constantly, "Mommy, I'm just so FULL of Christmas happiness!!" Every little thing we did --untangling lights, sweeping up pine needles, finding ornament hooks -- seemed to thrill her.

I still reign over light placement on the tree, but I've completely handed over ornament-hanging to the kids now.

A nice piece of normalcy....I'm looking forward to more!