Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Circadian-Free Life

A couple of weeks into my family leave, the non-schedule schedule has gotten way too comfortable. It isn't so much that the clock no longer is in charge of my life. It's that nothing else has stepped into the power vacuum. I suppose it can be said I feel young again if by "young" is meant "infant with his days and nights mixed up." Or, worse, a college student.

Physically the past couple of weeks haven't been overly taxing. I have to say there's not a lot of mental down-time, though. It's like a chess game where every move is planned three moves in advance. My respect for stay-at-home moms is greater than ever.

Of course, I'm scheduled to be returning to work in a couple more weeks, so it's important to stay grounded as much as can be managed. Through e-mails and phone messages I've been able to keep up with the major issues at my office. I've continued to play an active role in heading off problems and, when necessary, generating effective solutions decisively. For example, just this past Friday there was an e-mail asking for recipes for the office fund-raising cookbook, and I was able to send several.

A few observations at the mid-point of my family leave:

  • It may be just my imagination, but I swear the cats like me better now that I'm the one feeding them. I guess my usual cat-job - cleaning the litter box - just isn't as high on the cats-appreciate-it list.
  • I don't care if it does make my wife laugh at me - there's a right way and a wrong way to make a tuna salad sandwich and, dammit, I'm going to look up a recipe for it.
  • A major discovery: making double portions means not having to cook a meal from scratch the next night. Remember, you read it here first.
Cooking remains an active focus. So far the winner of the truly strange recipe contest comes from, where the Neeleys posted a shrimp corn-dog. (It's basically a hot dog made of a shrimp mixture, instead of the meat by-products, insect parts, and heaven only knows what else mixture regular hot dogs are made of. You batter it and process as a corn-dog and, voila!) Yes, some of the ingredients are a little expensive, but the look on people's faces when you tell them you've made a shrimp hot dog? Priceless.

Tonight I begin my Yom Kippur fast. Not to worry, though. Making food for others when you're fasting - my wife is not Jewish and, despite their fondness for whitefish flavor Friskies, neither are Willie and Lilly - is just something you get used to.

So You Think You Can Dance

While canoodling on Youtube the other night, I came across the clip embedded below. It's from Stormy Weather. Cab Calloway and his orchestra performing Jumpin' Jive is worth seeing on its own merits. But it's the performance by the Nicholas Brothers about 1:36 into the clip that, I'm warning you, may blow out the circuitry on your computers. It is, simply, astonishing. This is about a five minute clip, and if you give it a look I'm certain you'll be very glad you did.

While on the subject of dancing, Dancing with the Stars is normally light fun, the only reality show I like to watch. But that gorgeously human moment last week when Kelly Osborne ran to O
zzy and Sharon after she finished transcended the show, celebrity, and anything else superficial. The famously outrageous and occasionally bizarre rock couple were exposed as actually being a wonderfully ordinary set of loving, proud parents. It took a while, but a little reality finally made its way onto a reality show.

One Day at a Time, Indeed

Waking up in a drug-induced haze to find you've been sleeping with someone who looked like Papa John Philips would be a traumatic experience even if he weren't your father, and so daughter MacKenzie is a good example of how wrong it so often is to speak of celebrity children as being privileged. As often as not, such kids are well-financed but otherwise unprepared for the rigors of navigating life once they're out of their protective biospheres. That said, I'm wondering what develops during a public childhood that leads one to think so intensely personal a matter is best handled in a public forum. Odd thing for a blogger to say, I suppose, but I'm also not here writing about that time I...well, never mind.


oldhousegal said...

The clip of the Nicholas Brothers is astonishing! I'll bet you didn't know I was a tap-dancing fanatic as a child. I just loved it and I loved this clip. It's so incredibly artistic and athletic all at the same time. No one has stepped up to fill the void left by Gregory Hines' untimely passing. Thanks for sharing this.

Tawnya said...

I am glad the leave is going well and I am guessing your wife is on the mend! I am not Jewish but live in a house of Jewish people, so when I eat, I try to go and sit in a room by myself out of respect for them. Yes, the cats like who ever feeds them or gives them treats better. At leasr my cat does! As for the Mackenzie Phillips, if her sister Chyna had not come out and said it was true, I would have just chalked it up to her doing way too many drugs. Since her half sister is not a druggy, I will believe her and I am sick of the way that the Nancy Graces of the world are ripping her to shreds over this... Sheesh people back off!!! Happy Yom Kippur.

Angie said...

This was a post worth waiting for. I have never heard of the Nicholas Brothers but - hats off to them there - I can't count the number of times I said "ouch" on their behalf!

I never had a cat so I don't know what you have to do to get in their good books. Let me tell you, though, dogs aren't nearly so picky.

They love just ANYBODY (in general) and if you happen to have a little biscuit in your pocket, so much the better. They'll bring you their toys, they'll bring you their leash, they'll roll on their backs with their legs in the air so you can tickle their tummies. They'll make complete and utter idiots of themselves just so you won't go away again. You want some peace after your working day? Your dog can do 'peace'. Though he probably can't see why he should, he'll sit there all quiet and peaceful and just lick your hand occasionally.

He'll do this mega-welcome just because it's you and even though your wife fed him before you even came home.

love, Angie, xx

DB said...

Ben, I enjoyed every word of this entry. Cats have their own priority lists. Food = love, or at least attention paid.

What a treat to see the remarkable Cab Calloway, the only big band leader who didn't play an instrument. And the fabulous Nicholas Brothers. I wonder how long they rehearsed that number.

Great blog Ben. Good luck going back to work.


Amy said...

A little taste of the retired life, huh? It doesn't suck. (not that I'm retired, but life as a homeschooling mom is pretty close to

Martha (Menagerie) said...

You are priceless! Hurry back to let us know how life is going for you.

PS - If you are only the litter box changer the cats just come running and wondering what you are doing messing with their sh*t - literally!