Kevin asked me last…

Kevin asked me last night, as I collapsed, exhausted, on the couch beside him, whether a day-and-a-half of labor for last night's potluck dinner party had been worth it.

It wasn't really a day-and-a-half of labor. I mean, it was, but only because we'd gotten pretty far behind on the house-cleaning front. At least half a day of that should have already been done. So let's subtract that, and leave 2-3 hours of typical cleaning for a party, plus 5-6 hours of cooking.

Most of the cooking was pleasurable. It would have been better with a friend actually here (maybe I should have asked Lori if she could come down early to keep me company), but I was on the phone with Roshani for a lot of it, and chopping and stirring and the like is something I quite enjoy, and haven't had enough time for in the last few years. I like planning the logistics for a dinner party. On Saturday, I made lamb, chicken, and fish curries, and that was all fun. (I let the tv play babysitter for some of it; then Anand went down for his nap and Kevin took Kavi out for a McDonald's adventure.) Also enjoyed cooking the cauliflower curry Sunday morning. I would have made carrot curry, but I ran out of onions, which is probably just as well, since we wouldn't have needed it. The rice (Japanese white rice and Sri Lankan red samba rice) was no problem, although a little stressful just because I hadn't put it on early enough -- I hadn't expected the kids to arrive hungry at 4. I tossed together a quick Waldorf salad (came out well, might repeat next fall), and threw some frozen potstickers onto the table (after thawing first) to keep the hordes from imploding -- not my finest cooking hour, but in desperate times...

And I did get stressed in the last hour, as I was running out of time. I could have used one more hour -- then I wouldn't have to press Kevin into cleaning service (I had promised him a free weekend from labor since he had a massive pile of exam grading to get through -- I'm afraid that hour came out of his sleep last night), and he also had to help stuff the devilled eggs while I answered the door to the first guests. With an extra hour, I might have actually made my mushroom puffs, instead of letting the already-cooked spread and thawing puff pastry die a slow death on the counter. Oops. I also forgot to slice the ham until quite late -- if I'd remembered sooner, I might have held off the hungry children more effectively. One of them kept plaintively wandering into the kitchen while I was assembling salad and asking if I could please slice her some apple. Please?

But in the end, there were mountains of food (both mine, and brought by others (samosas and corn pudding and macaroni pie and squash and shrimp curry and dal and more)), and everyone got stuffed, kids included. I was shatteringly tired by the end of the night, but I ate so much yummy food I thought my stomach might burst; I also had several fun conversations, and at one point told the crowd the story of how Kevin and I met (Lori referred to it as a 'meet cute', which I suppose it is, in an odd kind of way). I got to see some old friends again (although didn't have long enough conversations with several of them -- at least Lori and I have made plans to write together again in two weekends, and Venu and I have made plans to have lunch together maybe this week, and Samanthi and I have made plans to go contra dancing together in early December).

I also got to know some new friends better. I was particularly pleased that three women from my new local writing group came with their kids, whom I hadn't met before -- Laura has two boys, Julie has two girls (one, Lindsey, is 4, and managed to coax Kavi out of her minor hide-in-room-too-many-people freakout), and Allison has one (Danielle, also 4, and possibly Kavi's new best friend -- it was very cute watching Danielle lead Kavi around by the hand, and we're actually going to have to schedule a playdate, since it was the only way to convince Danielle to leave last night Yay!).

It's been a bit of a revelation to me, how much of a difference it makes having friends who have kids roughly your age. As one of the women mentioned last night, it makes it a lot easier to go over to their houses, since they have toys and reasonably kid-safe rooms, and you can lounge on the couch with a glass of wine and let your kids run around together like gleeful hooligans.

Which is not to say that I don't value and want to spend time with my old friends, including the ones without kids. I absolutely do. But it's a little more complicated, logistics-wise, involving either finding childcare for your kids (i.e., Kevin), or being very distracted by their demands for attention. I'm hopeful that will improve as the kids get older, though.

Anyway, the point of all this is, yes, worth the effort and the time not-writing this weekend. Because no man is an island, and I have been feeling a rather desperate need for local friends. So far, there are three possible groups to draw from -- the parents from the kids' preschool (who all seem very nice, but I haven't gotten to know any of them well yet), the women from my knitting group (ditto nice, but so far, it hasn't quite turned into invite-to-party closeness -- maybe after another month or two), and the women from my writing group. The writing group set is a strong contender, since we can talk books and writing at great length. :-) In theory, Oak Park has a gaming group, composed of parental types, so I might eventually meet some people through that -- maybe even male types, which would be nice, since my life is getting a little female-heavy. And I plan to join the gardening association in the spring, although from the one meeting I went to, everyone there is both female and a good decade or two older than me. And eventually, the kids will be in real school, and I'm sure we'll meet their friends' parents through that.

Eventually, I know I will have more friends here. But in the meantime, throwing parties is a good way to jump-start that process.

Also, fun.

And after I drop the kids at pre-school this morning, I will do the remaining dishes, and then possibly take a nap before teaching. Although, sigh, I also have at least a dozen theses to look at first. But this is my last day of teaching this week -- the students have field trip assignments on Wednesday. So Tuesday, house errands; Wednesday, writing and packing; Thursday, fly to Boston with kids (no Kevin) for Thanksgiving at my aunt Priya's house; Friday, hang out at parents' house in CT with parents, Mirna and Gian; Saturday, back here and hand off kids to Kev so I can collapse; Sunday, rest and write.

And then it's just one more week of classes, finishing Dec 3, a pile of final paper and portfolio grading the next week, and then a long break until January 11th, when spring semester starts. We'll be in the Bay Area for about ten days of that, I think. I plan to enjoy that month thoroughly. And sleep. And also finish my book and make good headway into book two.

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