Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Day in the Life - Are we still doing this? Really?

6:30 - Wake up, check clock. Oh, crap. Overslept. Again. I've been doing that almost every day this week for some reason.

6:31 - Get up, invite Robin to go over to my empty (Alex is out of town for a week [with the car]) but still warm bed, Julia to find slippers and accompany me downstairs.

6:35 - Julia has finally been to the bathroom and washed her hands, but can't find her slippers. See her old pair in my room, direct her to them. Open curtains in my bedroom.

6:36 - Take Julia's hand and walk downstairs. Uncover parrot cage, open downstairs curtains.

6:40 - Get out loaf of bread, corn flakes, plates. Start making coffee, preparing granola for myself.

6:45 - Ask Julia if she wants corn flakes or bread with peanut butter. Appreciate the opportunity to serve Julia first because Robin is inclined to make a big stink when Julia "copies" her. Julia chooses corn flakes. Offer bananas and raisins, which she declines. Get Julia's breakfast together and call Robin, who gets up without a fuss and chooses bread with peanut butter.

6:50 - Make coffee, eat breakfast.

7:00 - Finish cereal, take coffee upstairs. Choose clothes to wear to the gym. Choose clothes to change into afterwards. Choose a book to read on the bus. Get dressed and load up backpack. Help Julia brush hair. Finish coffee. Brush teeth. Take a quick swipe at legs and underarms with Alex's fancy new cordless razor. Find cell phone. Find sneakers. Brush hair, make bun. Find sweater. Check wallet for sufficient money and change for the taxi.

7:30 - Go downstairs, throw an apple in each girl's lunch box, stick two pieces of birthday cake in plastic containers, add to lunch boxes. Today's a half day, so they need snacks but not lunch. Double check school messages regarding all the different activities, times, places and changes in the schedule for this last week of school. (Their summer vacation is starting; they don't go back until early February, when Robin will start 2nd grade and Julia will go into Kindergarten.)

7:40 - Call taxi, go outside to wait.

7:45 - Taxi arrives, get in. Talk with girls, chat with driver about cold weather.

7:53 - Arrive at school, get out of taxi and reach for wallet. Old man comes up and asks, in a slurred voice, for change. Give him a relatively polite brushoff and open wallet to pay for taxi. Old man insists. Tell him no and turn away, paying taxi driver as another mother drives up to drop off her kids. Get change from taxi, turn to open school gate. Old man tries to take my arm; brush him off and step inside gate with girls. Can't close the gate, however, because the other mother and her kids are still outside. Fortunately, the old man is focused on me and doesn't bother her or her kids. Taxi driver says the old man is deaf, to tell him no more loudly. I do this, add in the local body language for "no" (waggling an index finger from side to side) and shut the gate (which locks automatically). The old man leaves and we go in. Perhaps he is deaf, but I'm not sure he wasn't also a little drunk.

7:55 - Go inside with girls to pay for Robin's end of year field trip ($22 for a two-day trip). Ask for information about other payments due and make copious notes: December tuition, 2007 registration fees, Julia's field trip tomorrow, four tickets to Robin's end of year ceremony next week. Also clarify schedule: Both girls get out at noon today, Robin is off tomorrow but Julia has a field trip from 8:00-2:00.

8:10 - Leave school and walk across park to get bus down to the gym.

8:15 - Arrive at gym after class has already started, which is unusual for me. Abel (the owner of the gym, pronounced ah-BEL) is sitting on the steps outside the aerobics room, so after changing my shoes and putting my sweater and change purse into my backpack, I stop to ask him about acupuncture. He occasionally treats clients of the gym - sometimes using needles in the relative privacy of the changing room, sometimes by simply touching or pressing the appropriate spots manually for a minute or two wherever he happens to be standing when someone asks him about an ache or pain. He recently opened a clinic at a separate location and I wanted to ask him about his rates, as Yolanda (my mother in law) mentioned a certain kind of foot pain she has been having lately.

We end up chatting for quite a while about acupuncture, health, medicine and Costa Ricans' attitudes toward these things. We discuss the movie Supersize Me, which he hasn't seen but kind of experienced once when he was working for a McDonald's-sponsored event for several weeks, during which time he ate most of his meals there. We touch on my quilt retreat and Alex's profession (land surveyor), which leads to some anecdotes about fraudulent land sales and other ways in which foreigners are targeted by the less-than-honorable.

I comment that, having missed half of the aerobics class, I don't really feel like going in for the rest of it. The cordless phone in Abel's hand rings and he answers it, so I step into the class area, just as the group switches from one activity to another. I figure I should join in, but make no move to do so, and the instructor doesn't catch my eye and direct me anywhere. Abel gets off the phone and asks a question, so I happily step back over to rejoin him and we continue chatting until the class is over. (As it happens, the first time I ever spent more than a couple of minutes chatting with Abel was also a Day in the Life day. It doesn't actually happen that often, but there you have it.)

9:00 - Aerobics class ends and Abel heads in to set up the spinning bikes. Put backpack on shelf, get out towel and head in to ladies' room to fill water bottle and apply deodorant.

9:05 - Change back out of the sneakers I wear for aerobics (relatively new and with good traction on the soles) back into street sneakers (worn pretty smooth) because the pedals on the spinning bikes tend to damage the soles.

Overhear a conversation between two people: an older woman who I had suspected was from the United States, which Abel confirmed when she walked in, and a Costa Rican man who recently started attending the 8:00 classes that I do, and who stands out because he's fairly attractive and when he first started coming he wore his mostly-gray hair in a short ponytail that looked most dashing, but who, tragically, cut his hair very short a week or so later. He also stands out because very few men ever attend the aerobics classes. Anyway, he and the woman were speaking English, and his was quite good, so I waited for a pause and said "You speak English!" He allowed as how he did, and the lady turned around and said "I do too!" The guy said his name was Alex (that'll be easy enough to remember) then surprised me by saying he recognized me from when we used to live in the nearby town of Barva, which we did, from around 1993 to 2000.

9:10 - Choose and adjust a spinning bike, chat briefly with the woman, whose name is Joanne. They both seem nice and I expect I'll have more chances to talk to both of them over time.

9:15 - Spinning class - fortunately Abel goes fairly easy today, as this is only the second time I've come to spinning in the past month. I cut back to just aerobics while Dad was here, so as to have more time with him. Since he left I've had this lingering cold that I don't even notice most of the time, but which has left me with a cough that is finally going away, but has kept me from the more strenuous classes up until now.

(One day last week I asked Abel if he had any special acupuncture points to help ease chest congestion that just didn't seem to want to let up. Using his thumbs, he pressed very lightly on a point on each of my wrists for a minute or two. After he was done, I found it noticeably easier to breathe and that night was the first time in a week that I didn't have to get up and take cough syrup at 2:00 a.m. I wished I had gotten him to mark the points with a pen or something, so I could have had Alex try to do the same that evening. Anyway, the cough is mostly gone now and not bothering me at all at night anymore.)

9:45 - During the class, Abel goes around the room asking each person, by name, how they're doing. Despite the fact that he knows me fairly well and we just spent 45 minutes talking, I'm pretty sure he still can't remember my name. I noticed a few months ago that he had never called me by name, so one day when there were two spinning classes in a row and he asked if I was going to stay for the second one, I said I'd stay if he could tell me my name. He made a valiant effort, but came up with Stephanie. I've enjoyed poking fun at him occasionally since then, so when he got to me today, I looked all around the room and didn't meet his eyes so he would have to say something - presumably my name - to get my attention. Finally I looked over and gave him an expectant look. He did try hard, but once again came up with Stephanie. Poor guy.

10:00 - Spinning class ends. Get backpack and head to ladies' room to shower (cold!!) and change.

10:08 - Wave goodbye to Abel and head out to the bus stop, arriving just as the bus does. Get on, pay and take a seat. Start the new novel I picked out this morning.

10:30 - Walk up to front of bus to ask driver about schedule in case there's a bus on this route that will work better for me than the 11:20 bus that stops in front of my house. There isn't.

10:32 - Get off bus at end of street, walk down to my house, stopping to examine the one-lane bridge with no guardrail that someone expanded by a few feet and added a railing to after the garbage truck had an accident on it two weeks ago. Alex and I are pretty sure that this expansion was not done by anyone in any kind of an official capacity, partly because there was never any government vehicle around when the work was being done, and partly because whoever it was began working within a day or two of the accident, which is not a characteristic of municipal repair work. While it's nice that someone took an interest, Alex and I both feel that it'll be best to consider the new bit a pedestrian walkway (which may, in fact, be what they intended it to be) and keep to the original roadway when driving. Nevertheless, having stopped to check it out, I'll say that the job looks pretty well done. I was going to take a quick picture, but didn't have the camera in my pack.

10:42 - As usual, arrive home just as the other bus (the one that actually drives down my street) passes by. Pet neighbors' dog Camilla, fend off my own dogs' muddy and jealous advances, unlock house.

10:45 - Greet parrot, change into slippers, spread gym clothes over plastic hamper in laundry room. Take backpack upstairs, then change mind and take it back downstairs. Wander around aimlessly for a bit.

10:55 - Wash dishes and silverware. Leave food storage containers and pans soaking in the sink.

11:10 - Grab a yogurt, get backpack and cell phone, put sneakers back on.

11:15 - Go across the street to wait for bus.

11:20 - Get on bus, get novel back out.

11:40 - Get off bus, walk over to ATM, saying Hi to the parking guy at the bank. Withdraw maximum daily amount (about $400) from US checking account, which will just cover all the various expenses the school secretary outlined for me this morning.

11:45 - Walk over to the girls' school, wait for secretary to become available, give her nearly all the money I've just withdrawn.

12:00 - Round up girls and walk over to the grocery store. Let them choose a snack (they both choose individual yogurts with a separate compartment of stir-in goodness), buy mozzarella cheese for a pizza tonight or tomorrow.

12:15 - Outside of store, take girls across the street so we can sit on a bench while we wait for the bus.

12:25 - Bus approaches. Take girls back across street, reminding them that it is Julia's turn to choose a row and to sit by the window. Board bus, pay fare, sit between girls.

12:45 - Arrive home with girls. Have them take their lunch boxes to the kitchen and wash hands. Set out their yogurts and tell them they can have some fruit and/or bread with peanut butter if they want to, but that I'm going to lie down for a while as my stomach feels a little off.

12:50 - Settle on bed with novel. Stomach is back to normal almost immediately, but I see no need to get off the bed, so I don't.

1:30 - Girls ask for a computer game. Turn on computer and check mail, answering a couple of E-mails, then put in Robin's choice of CD (Blue's Clues Treasure Hunt) and set timer for 30 minutes. Make coffee and return to novel.

2:00 - Julia's turn - she wants the same game, so reset timer and leave them to it.

2:30 - They've been playing together fairly nicely, so resent timer for a final 30 minutes and let them both play.

3:00 - They're doing fine, so let them keep playing without the timer. Get under the covers and keep reading. (I don't let them play computer games all that often, so once in a while I let them just keep going as long as they want.)

5:00 - Alex calls to check in. He thinks he'll be able to come home on Sunday, which is sooner than expected. It's starting to get dark, so put the book away (page 220) and go downstairs to see about dinner. It's chilly and the girls had a pretty light lunch, so a warm and hearty meal is in order. Decide on tuna melts.

5:10 - Close curtains, feed dogs and cat, put away clean dishes.

5:20 - Make tuna melts and sneak in another page or two of the novel while they're cooking.

5:30 - Call girls for dinner. They come right away and seem to enjoy the sandwiches. Offer a bit to the parrot, expecting her to touch her tongue to the tuna and shake her head like she does when offered other strong-flavored foods. However, she gobbles the bite and eagerly accepts another.

6:00 - Have girls get teeth brushed and pajamas on, even though it's early. Start writing this post.

6:15 - Tell girls that if they can be ready for bed in 15 minutes, they can watch Mary Poppins (very long) instead of the usual shorter bedtime video.

6:30 - Start Mary Poppins. Feed parrot and return to this post.

7:45 - It's 7:45 and I'm up to date with the post. Mary Poppins is preparing Jane and Michael for tomorrow's outing with Father. Julia is asleep, and doubtless has been since Mary answered the torn-up ad. Robin is awake and enjoying the video. I think I'll read my daily blogs until the video is over, then read myself to sleep.

8:15 - Just finished proofreading this post, tweaking it a bit and adding a couple of links. Robin says she's thirsty and Julia woke up to say the same. The chimney sweeps are stepping in time. I'll get them some water, put ointment on Robin's earrings and by then Mary should be about ready to move on.

9:15 - Mary's been gone for a while; presumably the girls are asleep in there. I've just finished getting my daily blog fix, so I'm off to bed with my book.


juliloquy December 07, 2006 10:31 AM  

Yay for Day in the Life: Paper Napkin's Frankenstein monster!

Oh the sibling rivalry. I have seen it in my 10- and 7-year-old nieces. The older one is passive-aggressive an the younger one is dramatic. Humans are so funny.

I also see in your post the foretaste of school activity mayhem in our future. Zoicks.

Thanks for doing this; I always find it interesting.

charlotte December 08, 2006 12:16 AM  

Thanks for a window into your world. I think you need to save Abel any more pain and tell him your name. Or do you reckon you're going to be Stephanie forever?

I use the Mary Poppins weapon occasionally too, all the while telling myself what a lovely classic it is.

meredith December 08, 2006 3:19 AM  

I read this in two sittings, I like these posts, btw. Your girls remind me of mine, we have rules too about who chooses first and who sits where and when, to avoid major conflicts. Another LONG video we have for when I need to get some stuff done, is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
I don't know if I'd drive on the new part of that bridge above!

Erin December 08, 2006 7:14 AM  

I also love these posts. I had good intentions of doing one this month and then just ... didn't. Couldn't muster the energy.

But I loved reading yours. (thanks!) and I am fascinated by the fact that your school year seems to be opposite the one in the states. That is so cool.

Jennifer December 08, 2006 12:06 PM  

I think you need to save Abel any more pain and tell him your name.

Oh, he's been told. Every time it's ever come up, he's been told. It just doesn't seem to stick. Except for today - he got it right today!

...your school year seems to be opposite the one in the states.

That's right, and if I'm not mistaken it's for the same reason too: The US summer vacation originated back when families needed the kids to help on the farm for the summer season. In Costa Rica, the coffee harvest is the big thing, and it happens at this time of year.

Sandy December 12, 2006 10:27 AM  

I only read to 2:00 pm and I have found 3 reasons why I think you are pregnant. First, sleeping in in the morning and not knowing why...hmmmm! Second, lingering cold...resistance down. Third, queezy stomach in early afternoon. Now let me get back to the post and see if I can see others besides the fact that Alex is home again! :-)

Sandy December 12, 2006 10:32 AM  

no more clues. What is the book you are reading...the link doesn't show a book. Sounds good, though.

Jennifer December 12, 2006 10:37 AM  

Ooooh! My first Internet rumor!!! I almost hate to dispel it immediately, but I guess I probably should.

Not pregnant. Not likely to become so, umm, ever again, at least not with Alex as a partner, if you see what I mean.

The book was A Dry Spell by Susie Moloney. I finished it the next day.

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