Basically Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentine’s Day, and instead of doing anything romantic or productive I’m nursing my tea and begrudgingly healing my Overwatch teammates, because I’m sick again for the third time this year. As in, since January 1st.

The problem with taking care of three to six small petri dishes is that you will be sick, all the time, always. Sick will become the background music of your life. I’ve complained about this in the past, but I’m complaining extra hard today because it’s preventing me from going out tonight, and also because I’m blaming my illness on the fact that I killed my Valentine’s Day gift.

You see, on Saturday I went out with James to explore the wonderful and terrifying city of Philadelphia.


It has architecture.

We spent most of the day wandering around, drinking our various warm beverages and pointing out ridiculous works of modern art.


I don’t know what to say about this one. It simply is.


This isn’t modern art (probably), but I was hoping somebody would know what it was, since it was just hanging out on a ‘no parking’ sign.

And, at one point, we ran into humanity’s most creative torture device, the ice-skating rink, complete with five year olds that can skate better than you, and packs of teenage girls taking up half the rink while they check their phones.


Naturally, we gave it a go. I blame my performance on the fact that the rink was bumpy, and also that I haven’t gone skating since I was a five year old that could skate better than everyone. James and I shuffled around the rink doing our best impression of old people who have kneecap paralysis.

We thought we might stop by to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, given that they were a mere two miles away by walking distance, but by the time we arrived we realized it was a Saturday, and desperate parents with bored children were flooding the area by the hundreds. So we saw the outside of the buildings instead.



Pictured: Line of two hundred-some people waiting to get inside. We sat on a park bench and tried to identify which one of them was a Russian spy instead.

And as a ribbon on the day, James gave me the promised small Valentine’s Day gift, which was a lovely pot of (live) flowers and some coconut truffles. I tucked it all carefully into my car, and when I got home that night, I promptly forgot about them.

The next morning, I woke up sick. And I’ve been sick for three days now (but not nanny-sick; that is, sick enough to skip work). And when it finally occurred to me to go into the car and get my stuff, I realized that pretty tropical flowers don’t survive too well inside a car kept out in the thirty degree weather.


Pictured here: My flowers wrapped in an electric blanket to try to thaw them out.

I discovered that these flowers are Cyclamens, and I foundĀ an excellent website on how to care for them, which sadly assumes you haven’t already killed them. In particular, the website states “Cyclamen that are sold as houseplants are tropical and cannot tolerate temperatures below 40 F. (4 C.). And certainly not 30 F for three days straight.” I’m paraphrasing.


I’m eating one of the truffles right now as I type this. It’s also frozen.

I think the moral of the story is that I shouldn’t be trusted with anything living when I’m sick. Certainly not the children I’m taking care of. So if I could have a day or two off, that’d be great.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all, and to all a good night.


Get well soon, little Cylamen.

Valentine’s Day Cometh

If there’s one holiday I’ve never had much cause to think about before, it’s Valentine’s Day.

The reason for this is that my parents, the hopeless romantics that they are, preferred to save money instead of buying each other’s love, so Valentine’s Day was never celebrated at our house. When I took the nanny job and moved to the east coast, I was surprised to find that my employer’s celebrated every holiday, including Valentine’s Day, and gave gifts liberally to their nanny for each and every one.


This is from last year. I spent a while just staring at it, as if it were one of those weird prehistoric-looking beetles wandering around my room.

But I’d never been in a relationship that coincided with Valentine’s Day, so it was never a holiday that stayed on my radar for long.

And then, weirdly enough, I started going out with James- have been for a month and a half, in fact- and Valentine’s Day became a looming possibility. I prepared my statement early.

“There are some girls out there,” I said to James a few weeks ago, “who say they don’t want anything for Valentine’s Day and then get upset when they aren’t given anything. I’m not like that. I genuinely don’t want anything for Valentine’s Day. Nothing. No, really.”

“Great,” said James cheerfully. “Got it. I’m going to get you something for Valentine’s Day anyway.”

“Ugh,” I said.

So for the first time in my life I’ve had to seriously consider getting something for somebody on Valentine’s Day. This should be easy when you haven’t been dating someone for long; you go into the store, you grab a mass-produced box of chocolate, and you’re done.

So when I was in Walmart the other day, the very subtle decorations reminded me that I should really be picking something romantic up.


If I hadn’t walked past their eighteen red-lined aisles I might have completely forgotten.

The problem is that Valentine’s Day is meant for women and 2nd grade classrooms. Everything is cute and frilly and so terribly feminine. Oh sure, sometimes an effort is made to reduce the girliness factor of the product, but it’s usually unsuccessful.


It’s… well… they tried.

So I spent a whole fifteen minutes of my life walking up and down aisle after blood-red aisle, wondering if they made a Valentine’s Day treat that looked cool for guys. (They don’t. They don’t make anything that looks cool for girls, either. Valentine’s Day is very uncool.) I was about to give up and buy a generic box of chocolates, when something on the next aisle over caught my eye:


Nerd cups! Yeah!

James and I met playing D&D, so geeky things are the way to go. James is also a guy, living with a guy roommate, which means they have approximately three real plates and two wine glasses between them. It might have been kinder to buy him a whole dining set and some tasteful throw pillows, but a mug for his destitute kitchen was a stepping stone.


There. Valentine’s Day is prepared for.

Now all I have to worry about it what my employers are giving me for Valentine’s Day. And Easter.

The After-Christmas

Christmas is done and gone, the children are back in school, businesses are opening back up, and my friends are planning fun things forty minutes from me, which is why it’s now snowing so heavily that I can’t locate the driveway or two of the children.


These paper snowflakes feel kind of redundant now.

Now that I’m an adult, I’m conflicted about snow. I’m starting to realize that if you want the kids to go to school or want to be able to drive to Target, the roads need to be clear or you will inevitably end up upside-down in a ditch somewhere with children burying you in snow.

(Children never stop trying to bury you in snow after a certain age. It’s instinct.)

Fortunately, it’s snowing on a Saturday, which should give the schools ample time to shovel everything up in preparation for Monday. Unfortunately, it’s snowing so heavily at present that the roads aren’t really roads at all, but more like incidental logging trails covered in petroleum jelly. I foolishly tried to drive south to play some board games with friends today, and I drove for 40 minutes at 25 miles an hour on the highway. If you’re doing the math, that means it took me exactly an hour to realize I would be better off back at home with a cup of tea.

So now I’m back at home with a cup of tea, listening to the sounds of chaos outside my room, and I’m organizing the Christmas presents from my employers.

Yes, there are enough that they have to be organized.


Bottom left: Box of chocolates that are missing most of the coconut variety already.

My employers are very kind and generous people, and Mrs. Parent in particular loves giving gifts that are thoughtfully tailored to the recipient. I’m not sure they quite understand the all-consuming passion I have for magic, fairy tales, etc., but they really do their best. The purse she was particularly proud of, because she knows I like deep browns and across the chest straps.


My favorite, of course, is the tea.

The peculiar tea set they gave me was composed of one single teabag per type of tea, which is artistic if not very practical, and each tea bag has a little leaf on the end of it for decorative purposes. The covered teacup has a little hole in the top which lets the teabag string through, allowing one to steep their tea without it going cold.


Much like in fancy restaurants, you know the food is too classy for you when there’s so little of it.

Naturally the teacup can be re-purposed to fit regular teabags with enough folding and stuffing.

So now I’m stuck inside the house, but I have my own little oasis, lit by Christmas candles and smelling like chocolates and tea. It’s almost enough to forget that there are three to six boys outside my room, gleefully smacking each other with their new stuffed Pikachus.

I also gave them extreme dot-to-dot books so that they have something that requires sitting quietly for hours at a time. It doesn’t sound like they’re using them.


Don’t tell anyone I’m still playing holiday music. This could be the fourteenth day of Christmas.