In the Suburbs
By Louis Simpson
There's no way out.
You were born to waste your life.
You were born to this middleclass life
As others before you
Were born to walk in procession
To the temple, singing.
From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World (and if the poem looks familiar, that may be because I've posted it before; Edward Hirsch discussed it in the same column on October 26th, 2003). "Sometimes I think critics resent poets who are understandable; otherwise, they'd write more about Louis Simpson's marvelous work, whose lines could put the academic interpreters out of business," writes Mary Karr. "With miraculous authority and pacing, this captures for me the despair of suburban comfort, contrasted -- as Simpson often does -- with the sweet, tribal unity of his Jewish ancestry."
We spent all day Saturday with my relatives in Castaic, riding their horse and swimming in their pool, in a house surrounded by hummingbirds and finches, with two parakeets and two dogs. In the morning after Lesley made us pancakes, we took the kids to a Game Stop to replace younger son's Nintendo DS which died a couple of days ago -- there's no way we're driving home without two working game systems -- and had excellent frozen yogurt. Then we came back to Uncle Mickey's house, where my cousin Felicia and her sister Allison's husband Justin had just arrived with their three little boys (Allison, who is six months pregnant, arrived later after a baby shower, and, Felicia's husband Jason, an ER doctor, got stuck at the hospital so we didn't get to see him).
Our kids, Felicia's older son Benny, and Mickey and Lesley's son Garrett wanted only to swim, so Paul and I went with Felicia's son Aidan and Allison's son Zach to ride Lesley's horse, Bill. This is the first time I have been on a horse in more years than I can remember -- I had on a skirt and sandals, so it wasn't exactly a workout, but it was a lot of fun! We walked around the stables to see some of the other horses, then came back, went swimming and had barbecue with all the cousins and the daughter of one of Mickey's oldest friends, who is living in Los Angeles now. Afterward the kids played some more and I tried to read Lindsay's Tarot cards.
And here's me on horseback for the first time in probably a decade (photo taken by Justin).
Justin does a flip off the pool's waterfall to impress Allison (his pregnant wife, at left) and nephews Benny and Aidan.
Hummingbirds around one of Lesley's feeders.
Mickey and Lesley's miniature schnauzer, Ziggy. They also have a Westie named Riley. Both dogs like to play tug with stuffed moose toys.
Here are the dogs and most of the family in and around the pool.
And here is the family gathered for a group photo taken by Lindsay.
The waterfall and grotto at twilight, with the pool lights on.
On Sunday we are going to stay with my friend Lynda and her husband Dan, and to have dinner at my brother-and-sister-in-law David and Molly's restaurant, Madeleine Bistro, with my uncle's family and Lynda's family. So we're not doing much sightseeing in L.A. but I am getting to see lots of people I get to see far too rarely, which is much better than Disneyland -- we saw Magic Mountain from the road today and even younger son, who loves roller coasters, was more interested in getting back to hang out at the pool than in looking at the rides.