My mother came to visit this weekend!
It was kind of a last minute thing. She spends March and April, or part of them, in Arizona where my grandmother lives and where she has a small condo. That’s about 90 minutes away by plane, so at the last minute she decided to come up for the weekend.
We had fun. Saturday we carefully examined Ikea (she’s thinking about redoing her kitchen), ate lunch, went to my brother’s house and then ate dinner. (There was a lot of eating involved. I feel like I need to go on a week long fast now.) Yesterday it was pouring, so we went into the city, saw the Cartier exhibit at the local museum and then drove around a bit, getting home just in time for another dinner with my brother at the Italian restaurant down the street.
It wasn’t ideal — K had to do taxes all weekend long. (This is sort of his choice — he refuses to hire someone. And honestly, I know it’s a pain, but I think he sort of enjoys it. He would not have enjoyed Ikea. And we brought him food.) And M was stuck up in her room trying to finish her 12 pieces of art. (She’s got 8 done now, and two more started, I think. They’re due next month some time.) But on the other hand, it sort of worked well.
For one thing, by some kind of fate I had cleaned the house pretty well last weekend, before I even knew she was coming. So that was not a problem — I didn’t feel like I had to run around and try to get the house clean for her while she was here. (Always so uncomfortable — here, you just sit on the porch for half an hour while I vacuum the house to make it fit for human habitation!)
Also, I think my efforts to get her out of the house for K and M actually paid off. It was fun to look at kitchens, and the jewelry exhibit was amazing. On a scale of 0-100 I rank at probably a 5 in interest in jewelry, but it was actually fascinating. Here’s what I learned.
- Diamonds are really shiny. And shiny in a really pretty way. They reflect light in all colors, so from across the room you catch gleams of all colors. They are really beautiful.
- Some of the pieces were quite beautiful in a different way. Not all the emeralds were cut to make them shiny — some of the gems were flawed, which made them interesting.
- They reused all kinds of stuff — old mughal emeralds that were not shiny and had “I serve Shah Somebody-or-other” were incorporated into a necklace for Mrs Somebody Merriweather Post, two 13th c. jade carp reused in a clock. I guess it makes sense — people are always bringing gems to jewelers and asking to have them reused in something else. Interesting, though.
The thing that can sort of drive me nuts when my mother visits is that she wants to help, but the helping is not always so helpful. I don’t really want her to reorganize my linen closet. I can’t help being insulted that she feels it needs reorganizing, and then I also can’t find the washcloths. And she’s hurt that I won’t let her help. And then I’m insulted that she thinks I’m so in need of help. Not good. Going out, though — no time to reorganize the linen closet. Plus fun. Much better idea all the way around.
So I’ve just taken her to the airport. I am sitting here drinking coffee. I really should go to the gym to work off the past five enormous meals, but I really would rather not . . . I have the new Henning Mankell novel, The Man from Beijing, and I could sit and read that for a while while I wait to take M to school.
Oh, I read a book that I want to talk about, but perhaps I should just recommend that you read. It’s The Possessed, by Elif Batuman. I don’t even know what to say. It’s sort of the story of being a graduate student in Comp Lit. It’s sort of the story of being Elif Batuman, who’s a Turkish American girl from New Jersey who decides to major in Literature, learn Russian, and then to go to graduate school. It is the story of the summer she spends in Samarkand learning Uzbek, and her trip to Yasnaya Polyana to give a paper at a Tolstoy conference. She’s amazingly funny, and smart, and I think if you’ve ever gone to graduate school, or maybe even if you’ve ever just read too much literature and started thinking of your life in terms of novels you might like it. She’s amazingly good at telling stories. I have a tenderness for the book because in certain respects she reminds me of me when I was young (although she’s much more successful at being a graduate student than I ever was), but it’s also so very funny. Really, you have to read it. It’s in paperback. It’ll take you two days.
Do you think I could just wear a large pyramid-shaped tent to work today?
Also, it is really raining. I’m glad — it’s good for the garden. The longer we can put off the months with no rain the better, if you ask me.