Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I Am Weeping

The dishes, they pile in the sink
Five minutes after my kitchen is clean
It is now filthy again
And I need more coffee

Now my daughter is sobbing
Because the cat will not
Let her paint his toenails
Or cut his hair

Laundry mountain creeps
Out of laundry room door
Husband's stinky clothes
I don't feel like washing

Friday, January 26, 2007

Have You Met Miguel?

Since I neglected the blog, again, for a loooong time, the two people who read this blog have probably not heard about Miguel. We decided to host an exchange student this year, because we needed just a little more chaos and distraction in our lives, really. Miguel is 18 and he's from Bolivia. He's a good kid, but we have a very big communication problem in our house now because Miguel does not speak English. We expected this in the early days after his arrival in August. I figured he'd catch up once school began. No such luck, although the kid did manage to play football with absolutely no prior experience, develop quite a following of friends at school, and even have a couple of girlfriends within two months of his arrival, so clearly he is successful at some sort of teenage nonverbal communication. He does send a mean text message. I know, because he sent me one the other day, and it took me a good 5 minutes to figure out why the hell my phone was making that sound. Then it took me another 15 minutes to carefully compose and send a response that read, as follows, "OK, thanks."

I was, at one time, fluent in Spanish, so in the first month or so, I'd try to speak in Spanish to him in order to ease the transition. Then I realized that the point of an exchange program wasn't to feel like I was the one in a foreign country, struggling to remember the words for "do you like to eat cheese" in Spanish while standing in my own living room. Also because I'm fairly sure that I told Miguel at one point that I was pregnant, but I'm not really sure. Those Spanish words, they confuse me a bit.

Miguel has been here for about 6 months now. He has acclimated to the weather, a little. He's from the hot part of Bolivia, so I laughed a little when the temps dipped to 45 degrees and he waddled out to meet the school bus wearing a full parka, snow boots, a hat, fleece gloves and a scarf. It's Kansas, sweetie. Call me when it's 20 degrees and I'll help you bitch about the cold. He much prefers the weather in Florida, where we spent Christmas with my family, but at least he isn't trying to turn the heat up to 89 in the house anymore. All of my blankets keep disappearing to his room, though. I'm counting them as loss for now, because I've seen teenage boy rooms, and I will not subject myself to that just for a few blankets. Remind me to put new blankets on my shopping list, eh?

So, after 6 months, you'd think the English would be flowing a bit more freely, right? No. Not so much. He does know how to ask me to use the computer. Fancy that. However, the other day, when I was going to drive him to meet some people to go to an event, here's what went down.

Me: Miguel, you need to be ready to go at 8 tomorrow morning. I'll drive you to town so we can meet the people who will drive you to the city.
Miguel: 8 in the night?
Me: No, 8 in the morning. And you'll have to live without my delicious cooking for 4 days. Too bad for you!
Miguel: (laughing) OK, 8 in the morning. Good night.
Morning arrives. I'm getting myself and Maya ready to go. Miguel is getting ready to go.
Me: OK, are you ready?
Miguel: Yes.
Me: Can you go start the truck?
Miguel: OK
Ten minutes later. Truck is not started. I stomp outside to start truck. Come inside. Miguel is making a sandwich.
Me: Maya, we'll be ready to go in just a second, so hang out here by the door and get your shoes on.
Waiting impatiently. It's 8:05. Miguel is leisurely eating his sandwich. Finally finishes.
Me: OK Maya, you can go get in the truck now while I get my coat on. I think Miguel is ready.
Miguel: Goodbye!
Me: ........

Sunday, January 07, 2007

It's Haaaaaard.

Because my father-in-law is still quite spry and capable of handling the daily running of our farm, my husband works off the farm for now. He is, in layman's terms, being paid to make hootch. My husband is a moonshiner. I'm so proud! It's legal moonshine, mind you, made from the finest corn and sorghum our state has to offer, and some of you probably put it in your gas tank occasionally. Thanks for that, because he's not only an employee, we're stockholders. Doesn't that sound terribly responsible of us? Investing. It's so sexy.

Currently, my husband is filling in for someone who works nights at the moonshining operation. So he has to sleep during the day. Honestly, I wish I could join him, because who doesn't love a loooong afternoon nap when it's 22 degrees outside and you can't venture out of the house for fear of falling in a ginormous pile of snow and being unable to dig one's way out. Not that this happened to me at age 4, leaving me with emotional scars and an irrational fear of snow. Not.At.All. As much as I'd like to sleep the day away, too, my primary job is to keep the house quiet enough for the husband to get adequate sleep before his next hootch-making shift. I only have one child, and one indoor cat. How hard can it be?

Let me give you a little sampling of my day.
9:02 a.m. - Husband goes to sleep.
9:30 a.m. - Child wakes up and has small tantrum because ice cream is not an appropriate breakfast food (she's not a morning gal, to which I can relate)
10:37 a.m. - Child waits until I've gone to the basement to climb atop the piano, playing it with her feet while reaching for an antique china tea set that sits on top.
10:37:05 - I run up the stairs as quietly as possible while hissing, "Nooooo! Daddy is sleeping!" Child hops off the piano with all of the grace and silence of a bull in a china shop.
11:00 a.m. - I wonder if I should even consider showering, because that would leave the child and unruly cat alone for too long. SpongeBob is a powerful attention-getter, but a whole 10 minutes without supervision may even be too much for the Great Absorbent and Porous One.
11:05 a.m. - I sneak, cat-like, to my bedroom door and slip inside, hoping that I can take the world's fastest shower. As soon as I close the door, the cat, who has suddenly learned how doors operate, begins leaping at the outer doorknob and pulling it with his feet, making a loud thwacking sound followed by a frustrated "Mrrrrrowww." He's part Siamese. Not a quiet kitty. Shower plans are canceled.
Noon - I put on a second pot of coffee, lest I doze off in the middle of my quest for silence. As I make lunch, the feline member of our household decides to investigate the meal prep, despite the fact that he has been forcibly removed from the kitchen every other time he attempted this feat. Child, knowing that feline is not allowed on the counter, leaps onto said counter, flapping her arms and hissing at the cat. Cat is alarmed, frightened by the flapping/hissing thing, and departs the counter rapidly, knocking over 3 coffee mugs and a pitcher of grape juice in the process.
1:28 p.m. - Cat finds himself trapped under a blanket and runs willy-nilly under the fabric of doom, making child laugh so hard and loud that I'm sure my husband will exit the bedroom, groggy and peeved, at any moment.
2:45 p.m. - I'm praying for 5 p.m. to arrive quickly, and don't want to start dinner for fear of setting of smoke alarms, or leaving my child unsupervised long enough that she discovers the brass band that is undoubtedly lurking in the messy basement.

Le sigh.