Monday, August 24, 2009

serenity has been surrendered.

the children are back. they descended on the house in two parts. my mom picked the boys up, and i got sister2 from the bus. first they came, crashing through the screen doors, shouting out a greeting in their hoarse voices. then came the trunks, suitcases, and duffel bags, banging up the stairs, ruining the fresh coat of paint that was applied, only last week. trailing behind them, came the clothing that didn't fit into the suitcases, the extra oreos, the socks that didn't seem to belong to anyone in the house, and some other objects that were covered in too much dirt and mold to be identified. and lastly, came the lingering odor of camp. the smell of rotting wood, the damp scent of the outdoors, and the general aura of summer.

when my mom opened brother2's suitcase, a different kind of smell came out-the odor of boys clothing. clothing that's been worn and not washed. needless to say i skedaddled before i could get roped in to handling any of that stuff.

another way to tell that things are slowly getting back to a schedule-we are having suppers again. now this is NOT a slight against my mother. sister1 and i kind of requested the no-supper thing, so we would also feel like we were on vacation. tonight, the chore of making dinner fell on me. and that was when i made the discover that i do not like cooking. i don't mind baking-maybe I'd even say i enjoy it. but the cooking thing is not for me. i nearly had a nervous breakdown over the meatballs (for full details, see my aunt), although in the end, they did come out pretty good.

so as the laundry pile is slowly diminishing (although i can still hear the washing machine banging) and all the mattresses get returned to the proper room, and a collection of half-empty soap and shampoo bottles gathers in the corner of the shower, i must concede, that although it is yet another sign that the summer is ending, I'm glad that they're home.

Friday, August 21, 2009

i feel like the summer is slipping away.

I've finally started to do all the thing I've been wanting to do since May. i went to Six Flags on Monday with a friend. i learned a few things that day. the first lesson, is that when you choose a partner to take with you to amusement parks, you should look for someone who not only enjoys the same roller coasters as you, but is easy to talk to. because when you go to amusement parks you end up spending a lot of time hanging around as you wait to get onto rides.and secondly, a two hour wait does not justify a double ride on a coaster. one of the rides broke down just as we got to the front of the ride and were actually sitting in the car. since we'd waited an hour (the ride broke down once while we were waiting too) we decided to stick it out until it would be fixed. they finally did fix it-after two hours. to reward those of us who'd stuck it out, they let us ride twice. but in those two hours we could have gone on three other rides. but then again, the coaster was then closed for the day, which means we wouldn't have had a chance to ride it.

i love roller coasters. i love that thrill that comes with swooping down, and looping over. i love that rush that i feel as the car is ascending the lift, and my heart starts pounding and my palms get all sweaty. i love that slightly dizzy feeling i get when i climb out and take a second to regain my balance and bearings. i do NOT love roller coasters that were built for statistics. which means i am less than fond of Kingda Ka. apparently all the techs in the park hate it too. they are pretty much all of the opinion that it should be torn down. it's very hard to catch a ride on it, because it is closed down more often than it is operating. i had a chance to ride it two years ago, and I'm never going to do it again, if i can help it.

on Tuesday i took a train ride with my aunts and cousins, to New Jersey, where we had a picnic. did you know that the New Jersey Transit conductors still wear those dorky looking hats? and they still yell "All aboard!" before the train leaves. although that could have just been done for effect. but by far the coolest thing about the train is that the seats flip back and forth, so that no matter which way the train is going, you can always face forward, a nice little thing for those of us who get nauseous when we face the wrong way.

today i sat out in the sun for four hours. it was partly cloudy, so i didn't feel like i was roasting. the pool was peaceful looking, and blue. it's been more like a shade of Mountain Dew for the past few weeks, because the pool vacuum broke. as a result of this, my father raised the chlorine levels of the water, making me feel like i was taking a swim in a Clorox bottle. today was the first day that the water was back to normal. so i sat out until my face rivaled that of a tomato. when i went out to eat tonight, my face matched the walls of the restaurant, and my bag.

despite all the activities I'm doing, books I'm reading, and people I'm spending time with, there are little reminders all over, that are hinting to the coming of September.

the leaves are starting to fall with increasing speed. no matter how often i sweep the deck and fish them out of the pool with a net, within twenty minutes, they cover the ground again. and as the days march on, the colors start changing from green, to yellow, with brown edges.

the camps are all finishing. brother1, sister2, and brother2 will be home on Monday, and the house will soon get back into its noisy pace that I'm (actually) beginning to miss.

everyone's talking about going back to school. the aunts sit at the pool discussing the annual trip to the shoe store, the signs in all the store windows proclaiming The-Big-Back-To-School-Savings-Sales, and there has been a flurry of textbook-borrowing, as every girl who is planning on procuring a science degree scrambles to find a chemistry and anatomy textbook.

the crowds in the pizza stores and bowling alleys are starting to slowly thin out as the male half the teen population are the first to make their way back to yeshiva. in my family, cousin1 has returned to Israel, with cousin2 to follow shortly on Sunday.

I'm going to make the most of my last two weeks of vacationing, by spending more time at the pool, and less time in front of my computer. more time talking to people in front of me, and less time texting people sitting twenty feet away. i will take more trips and have more barbecues. i will not worry about the textbooks that are waiting to be opened, and my uniform which is sitting in the closet, waiting to be ironed. the only effort I've made towards starting to think about school, was to move my stethoscope from around my headboard, to around my rear view mirror, so i think about it every time i get in the car.

but it's coming faster than I'd like to think. next thing i know, I'll see school buses on the road again, and then I'll wake up 21, and then I'll have to take out my boots and sweatshirts...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

the story of the lake is everlasting.

there's a beach up north that we go to, every summer. in reality, the lake water is far from pretty, and the sand doesn't feel especially warm between the toes. but it's become a family tradition to go there and nowhere else. in that vicinity there is another lake which is slightly prettier and has warmer sand. but the only time we went there, it was raining, and sister1 broke her hand. so that place will forever have negative associations. so we continue to go to "our lake" as we've come to think of it.

today, we continued the tradition, by packing up the vans with food, chairs, sunblock, blankets, towels, the umbrella, and headed up.

some things have changed over the years. instead of having to leave the beach to eat, we can now eat on the beach, as long as we don't leave too much garbage. the kids who once sat in playpens now swim out all the way to the rope. the old football blanket has been upgraded to a Neat Sheet. and the umbrella which always seemed huge to me, now barely has enough room for three of us to cram our chairs into its shade without bumping knees.

but some things have stayed the same. my out-of-town aunt's youngest child was wearing the "born to be wild" t-shirt". my other aunt's youngest child wore a flowered bucket hat. the kids played in the sand, creating the usual, sandcastles, forts, tunnels, and mud puddles, and still love to play that game where they go all the way back to the wall, hold hands, and charge into the water, splashing and laughing, until they all collapse on top of each other.

since i don't relish the idea of swimming in clothing, i stayed under the umbrella with cousin L who doesn't really like the beach, and missed her sister E (who's in camp) who usually builds sandcastles with her. she hung out with me and the aunts while we painted our toes, and chatted on the phone, and ran in after M who is 2 years old but doesn't have a fear of water, something that is really cute in the pool, but really scary at a lake.

the big excitement of the day was when the lifeguard saw S bobbing up and down on his toes, and thinking he was drowning (even though the child's mother told the lifeguard he was fine) ran in to rescue him. (for a detailed imitation of the lifeguard, including his whistle-string-spinning-abilities, see cousin L) but this display of heroic rescue showed that the lifeguard was vigilant in watching the lake.

we came home, tired, sweaty and full of sand. everyone got dutifully hosed down before entering the pool, and shook the last vestiges of sand out of the bags. it was a great day, one more experience to add to the tradition of Lake T Day (ole, ole)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

looking back on visiting day, it was everything i said it would be.

and worse.

for starters, the weather was totally uncooperative. it was either raining or misting, so i had to walk around with a sweatshirt hood over my head the whole time. i got to see brother2, check out his bunk, make sure he's been washing (there was no growth on his hands and face, so he's either been swimming or showering), check out his bunk which was neat (read: Sunday morning activity-refold clothing in shelves, make beds, and sweep all garbage out of the bunkhouse) with the assortment of relatives in camp, we had a lot of people to visit, campers and staff alike. this year we sat in the regular dining room (instead of the staff dining room, a privilege that comes with being related to the head of a program in camp) with my mother's siblings, and ate lunch.

after wandering around in the rain, and checking out the spot where my brother checks his voicemail, and where he picks up his faxes, and where he buys his soda, and where he picks up his laundry... (visiting a first time camper, my parents had to do a very thorough visit) we drove to the other side of the world (or so it felt) to visit my sister in her camp. there we met up with both of my uncles at various points, sloshed through the mud and waded through the weeds to see the dilapidated pile of boards that sister2 has been calling home for the past two weeks. having gone to that camp, i was familiar with the graffiti covering every square inch of wall and ceiling, the lack of springs in the bed, and the familiar creak of the floorboards. but sister2 is having fun, so that's what's important.

in general, car rides are not my idea of a fun way to spend quality time with anyone. i get carsick easily, and sister1 is always cold. brother1 likes his music loud-not a good combination, as you can imagine. because the two younger ones weren't present, we weren't subjected to a battle of the ABC game. sister1 decided that she would play "call-out-anything-you-see" but that deteriorated when brother1 started calling "blade of grass, blade of grass, blade of grass..."

the ride back was slightly more subdued as we all were exhausted, hungry, freezing, and sick of traffic. we left the camp at about four pm. a ride that should have taken an hour and change, took almost three. every single bathroom and rest stop in Ferndale, Liberty, Narrowsburg, Monticello, and swan lake, were packed with minivans.

again, I'm not sorry i went to see my siblings. they're both having a great time, and I'm glad for that. it was nice to see all my cousins (though i could have just seen them at home.) and my uncle didn't even yell at me (which is a surprise). but Visiting Day just makes me happy that i only have to "celebrate" it once a year.
i did not celebrate Visiting Day in July. brother2 was in camp, but he explicitly told all of us to stay far away from his camp. and we were more than happy to oblige. at least, i know i was. the idea of battling crazy traffic to go slosh around decrepit camp, fight crowds wherever you go, and then sit in more traffic on the way back, just doesn't seem like a pleasant way to spend a Sunday. i spent first half visiting day chilling at the pool. way more productive, if you ask me.

but nobody's asked me. and that's why we're going to the mountains tomorrow to visit sister2 and brother2. i considered staying at home, but then I'd get tagged with the label of always being antisocial and skipping out on family events. plus, i have assorted cousins that are also in the same camps as my siblings, so we're all supposed to be getting together, or meeting up, or something.

don't get me wrong. it's not that i don't want to see my siblings. the house has been pretty quiet without them. it's just that i saw them both a week ago when they came home for the bar mitzvah, and I'm going to see them in another two weeks when they come home. and in my family, we're quite healthy about separation and not seeing each other for bits at a time

and one final reason to hate Visiting Day; a few hours in the car with sister1 and brother1-a constant battle of wits. my brain will exhausted by tomorrow's end.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

when my mother gets nervous, or stressed about things, she talks. in a steady stream of instructions, last minute-to-do-lists, and reminders. she's been talking since Wednesday. but thanks to her, my brother's bar mitzvah was really gorgeous.

when rehashing the weekend last night, we realized that there was nothing major that had been forgotten-no food had not been served (although we were missing a pan of chicken which never did surface. but we were left with an extra pan of fish. so someone else out there who made an affair this weekend probably had too much chicken and not enough fish), no invitations were inadvertently left out, or got lost in the mail (according to two of my neighbors, there was a mail-thief sneaking letters out of people's mailboxes), all of the guests made it, with the exception of my dad's friend (who was on his way from Boston and had to turn around because of traffic), and i only got hit over the head once by my uncles.

last night, with the help of my mom's sisters, we managed to get everything out of the shul, and into our car. it's going to take awhile, but we will recover from this.

does anyone like egg salad? cuz we've got pans and pans of it leftover.