Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I have always considered it a point of pride that I go to Supercuts for my haircuts. Probably because I am rather high maintenance about everything else: my clothes, make up, skincare, etc. But perhaps I should be wary of any salon that still features artwork by Patrick Nagel, particularly artwork with cheetahs:

Yesterday I disappeared at lunch to get a trim at the local Supercuts. I have gone there numerous times and my direction is always simple: an inch off the bottom, maintain the long layers for bounce. But yesterday my stylist seemed not to know the definition of an inch, of long layers. Because while I sat there shell shocked by how round my face looks when my body is draped in an eggplant colored dandruff speckled smock she spritzed my hair with a spray bottle (no shampoo for $20) and began to hack away chunks off the back. At first I didn't notice. Like I said I was more enrapt with my round head in the mirror, the way it kind of just bobbled on top of the little tissue she had wrapped around my pencil neck. But then she got around to the front of my hair and that's when I noticed there was not the usual deliberate measuring, no delicate snip snip even if at Supercuts the deliberation is a farce. No, this lady was taking hunks of my hair, raising them high overhead and just cutting 4 inches at a time. I couldn't move.

Looking at old photos of myself the only way I can measure the passage of time is the thickness of my eyebrows (1990: monster caterpillars. 1994: Drew Barrymore-thin. Both ill-advised). I prefer my hair long. I can directly relate this penchant for long hair back to the spring of my 8th grade year when I found a photo of Famke Janssen with short hair and brought it to Shear Locks (also featuring the artwork of Nagel) because I wanted to look like her. This was long before X-men, Golden Eye and Nip/Tuck. Famke was a no-name Dutch model with high cheekbones and doe eyes.

I tore out a photo from my mom's Vogue and brought it in to Shear Locks, never once contrasting Famke's fine features to my Vuarnet t-shirt and madras shorts, to the fact that I lined the inside of my brown eyes with aquamarine Wet 'n Wild eye pencil. (Aside: the color aquamarine didn't seem to make it out of the decade of the 80's. Funny how an entire color can go obsolete.)

This was how 14 year old Susannah looked as a Dutch model:

Let's just pause for a moment to admire my bravery for posting my 9th grade school photo. I am only thankful that the photo is in black and white because that turtleneck that I have on? Yeah, it's a pastel salmon color and my frosted lipgloss matches. (Salmon: yet another color that didn't make it out of the 80's. Thank God.)

All of this just to say that I was scarred by short hair. I spent the first half of high school with a stubby ponytail and handfuls of bobby pins stuck at odd angles into the side of my head. The Famke haircut took forever to grow out. So yesterday when I finally noticed that the Supercuts lady was hacking away at my head as if she was tenderizing a veal flank I couldn't move. It was a bit like those nightmares where the bad guys is coming at you and you cannot scream. When she was done she whipped out a white plastic mirror and spun me around so I could see the back. There were still some long wispy pieces but there were also bulky chunks, particularly on the right side of my head. You like? she smiled. And for some reason I still don't quite understand I smiled back and tipped her 20%.

It wasn't until I got home that I could finally scream.

UPDATE: After many requests to see photos of my new bad haircut, here is my Ode to Nagel complete with requisite feline (cheetah compliments of Zoey. Sadly Zoey did not have New Wave spear earrings for me to wear or a shoulder-padded blazer):

Note the chunk of hair gracelessly swinging in the front while I maintain the party in the back.
I mean, right?
WTF Nagel Cheetah? I thought for sure you were the international symbol of style and tress.

Monday, January 28, 2008

How to Rob a Bank, by My Brother

In my earliest memories of my brother he is wearing striped tube socks pulled high with corduroy OP shorts, his asthma inhaler pushed down into one sock making one skinny calf a freakish lump. He's wearing a Batman shirt, Spidey, Speed Racer. He is my super hero brother, 2 and a half years older, funny and smart and just always there. I used to wish for a sister, a twin would have been ideal, so those consecutive Halloweens around the age of 12 that he dressed as a girl gave me hope until that third year when he finally admitted to my parents that all he really wanted was to glimpse the inner sanctum of the girl's bathroom at school.
We didn't always get along. There was the time he made me lie down on the sidewalk while he stood over me ready to spit. A trust test, he said, and then he loogied in my eye.
My mom used to tell me I would be thankful for my brother, that as adults we would actually be friends. On a good day I wouldn't pay attention; on a bad day I would roll my eyes. But my brother is really the only reason I want to have another baby. Growing up my brother was my partner in crime, my nemesis, my go-to buddy on rainy days and at boring family gatherings. And yes, now he IS my friend. I want Zoey to have that same sense of family.
In August my brother is getting married so I have to save some of the schmaltz for my speech. But yesterday was his birthday so what I want to say is this: whether it be dressing in drag to view the inside of a 6th grade girl's bathroom or creating his own production house to direct commercials and music videos, my brother has always fearlessly gone after what he wanted. Well, I shouldn't really say fearlessly because for all I know he could've been sweating bullets in that dress at age 12. But what I do know is that he did it anyway. Like I said, he's a super hero.
My brother's latest venture is also his feature film directorial debut: How to Rob a Bank. The movie stars Gavin Rossdale, Nick Stahl and Erika Christensen, and my very own tube sock wearing brother both wrote it and directed it. It's a great flick and I couldn't be more proud. Click here to view the trailer, and then make a date on February 8th to go see it in theaters. Don't worry--I'll remind you the closer it gets.
And a last note directly to my brother: sorry to flog the whole pre-adolescent drag thing. But really, you LOOGIED IN MY EYE.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Government Cheese

It's Friday and I have jury duty.
*look to the left*
*look to the right*
Sshhhhh. I have been excused from my civic responsibility. But I haven't really told anyone. Instead I am taking the day off. So if you are reading this and you work with me, please keep it on the down low. You know who you are. Renata. Ann. Compadres.
*If you tell anybody I just might have to pee on your desk. If you don't tell anyone I will bring cupcakes to our next meeting.

*In reference to our offices getting broken into the other night. When the burglar couldn't make off with a laptop that had been locked to a desk, he peed on it. Or she. Although it's hard to imagine a woman gathering her skirt and crouching down on a desk to take a piss. Then again I guess a skirt is not a great fashion choice when burglaring. Burglarizing? Bulgarity? Now I've said the word burglar too many times in my head and it seems funny, wrong. And peeing on a computer seems funny but not so wrong. See now why I need this day off? Yeah, thanks.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Third Monday in January

Tell me--how have I lived 35 years without knowing that the third Monday in January is officially the most depressing day of the year? I've always waded through January with a vague grey-colored discombobulation, not knowing all along that my feelings were validated. And now this: I have missed the most depressing day of 2008 as it was last Monday! Talk about depressing! Even more depressing is ending these sentences with exclamation points!
It is called Blue Monday. Surprisingly Blue Monday has nothing to do with the 1983 New Order song of the same name or even Fats Domino. No, it is actually a mathematical equation first devised by Dr Cliff Arnall, former lecturer at Cardiff University. The mathematical equation is this:
The equation uses six immediately identifiable factors; weather (W), debt (d), time since Christmas (T), time since failing our New Year’s resolutions (Q), low motivational levels (M) and the feeling of a need to take action (Na) which is funny because here I have been thinking (Na) was the chemical compound sodium or even Narcotics Anonymous depending on which social circles one frequents.The equation calculates that Monday, January 21, 2008 was officially the worst day of the year, when the Christmas glow faded away, New Year’s resolutions were broken, cold winter weather set in and credit card bills accumulated in mailboxes.
Going forward I think I will make the third Monday in January an official holiday (Sorry MLK). I will take the day off, nap in a greasy funk on the couch all day and eat cereal without enough milk. I figure it might be the opposite of my birthday when I have all these expectations of good times and then when the slightest thing goes wrong I feel sad. On Blue Monday if the littlest thing goes right I will feel a glimmer of happiness, and then feel disappointed that Blue Monday has not gone as it was supposed to.
Dr. Cliff Arnall has also calculated the Happiest Day of the Year. It is sometime in June but quite frankly I just don't want to know about it.
A note about the wearable pillow photo above, i.e. I need to get me one of these: Pillowig is a hand-made wearable pillow that comforts people during the tired moments in daily life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Morning After

Zoey is back to her chatterbox self. She slept through the night, I slept through the night. I just got to work and re-read yesterday's post and feel a might bit silly about how whiny I sound. Everyone has bad days. When you're a mother it just feels compounded because your bad day impacts your kid. But I thank everyone for their super sweet comments and support. And because I still have to prepare for my stupid ass presentation (that's right, in the light of Wednesday the presentation is STILL stupid ass) I don't have time to write a great blog post today. But for those who do have some time to kill, I leave you with a very entertaining web site: Oddee, A Blog on the Oddities of Our World. Because that's basically what Petunia Face is about, too.
Don't miss the sections titled 12 Crazy Old Ads and 15 Unfortunately Placed Ads:

Then there's 10 Most Bizarre (But Real!) Personal Ads Ever:

Kinda' makes me feel normal, boring even.
And my personal fave, 20 Worst Engrish Ever:


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pity? Party of One?

On the way home from work today I passed an intersection filled with people holding Obama in '08 signs. They were hooting and hollering, Honk For Obama! All around me people were honking and I started crying. They were just so hopeful and enthusiastic, those people; something about their voices and homemade signs seemed so beautiful and sad. That should tell you right there what kind of day I had. Just for shits and giggles here's a rundown of the past 24 hours:

  • Last night, around 5pm: Zoey and I meet my two friends and their kids for an early dinner but Zoey is quiet, too quiet. One friend points to her toddler's tee-shirt which reads Big Brother. She is grinning. I manage a smile and congratulations but Zoey is clingy and squirmy, her eyes watery and I cannot concentrate. I decide to leave early because clearly Zoey is not feeling well. As soon as I get in my car I remember that I missed my other friend's birthday, that I have forgotten to say anything, forgotten to give her the card in my purse. I feel like an asshole.
  • 7pm: Zoey is crying, angry, confused. She flinches when I touch her ear and I decide she must have an ear infection. I sleep on the floor in her room which really means I put some blankets down for me to trip over while I hold her and rub her back all night long. Neither of us sleep and now I have a crick in my neck and can't look left.
  • 6am: I take the morning off (Oh! What a fabulous mother I am! I take the morning off!) and bring Zoey to the doctor and he confirms the ear infection and prescribes antibiotics. I take Zoey to the pharmacy all the while worried that in giving her amoxicillan I am exposing her to a Super Virus, that her skin will fall off and die. At the pharmacy she sits on a pint of blueberries and screams. I now have blueberries all over me. And snot. Zoey is a barnacle and will not let go of me.
  • Noon: In the driveway of her daycare I dose Zoey with Motrin and bolt to work to prepare for a presentation.
  • Noon plus 5 minutes: As soon as I get to work I get a phone call from Zoey's daycare saying she cannot be there with an ear infection. The subtext is that CPS should intervene. Miraculously Bryan's mom calls seconds later and is free to pick her up and take care of her.
  • Right after that: I get an email from my friend that her dog is lost. She loves this dog more than anyone has loved a dog before and already she is going through something so terrible, so tough. I wish I could write about it but really it's her story to tell (or not). She doesn't know how she can deal without her dog and there is nothing I can do. I feel lost.
  • A few nebulous hours that I will never get back: I create boards for a stupid ass presentation on Thursday that no doubt will get cancelled at the last minute because some Vice-President's child will get sick and they will be empowered to stay home with their child.
  • 4pm: I hear that Heath Ledger has died and for some reason this makes me feel such despair. I think of little Matilda. Of Michelle Williams. I think of Heath Ledger's mom. AND I DON'T EVEN KNOW IF HEATH LEDGER STILL HAS A MOTHER.
  • 5pm: I drive to pick up Zoey and that's when I see the aforementioned Honk for Obama people. I cry.
  • 6pm: I give Zoey a bath and scoop my hand through the water to pick up something strange. It is poop. Zoey has pooped in the bath and I am holding it in my hand. I slop it into the toilet and try to grab Zoey out of the fecal soup. But anyone who has ever tried to force a slippery toddler out of a bathtub knows this is next to impossible and Zoey is insistent that she did not poop.

All in all a pitiful day. Oh, I KNOW it could have been so much worse. That I am lucky. But sometimes I feel like I am just scrapping by in mediocrity, that I can't ever do anything well. I am a half-assed friend, a half-assed mother, a half-assed voter, a half-assed worker, a half-assed blogger because really this post pretty much sucks. With so many asses all halved, is it any wonder I feel like such a shit?

Monday, January 21, 2008

My Family and Other Animals

You might think that after my Terms of Endearment blog post to my mother on Friday that I would give her something meaningful for her birthday. Perhaps a watch engraved with a touching quote, a beautiful potted plant, a star named after her. But no, I did something better, something more fitting to our relationship and to her. I took my mom to Walgreens and she filled her basket with fake nails (on sale!), orange soda and barbecue chips. And she was happy.

We also went to The Palace of Fine Arts and fed the ducks. We were going to take Zoey to the Exploratorium, but I thought she might still be too young to teach her how to dissect a cow's eyeball or to learn about *centrifugal force. So we stayed outside in the cold January sun and fed the ducks, the swans, the pigeons, seagulls and a pushy little black bird my mom was calling a greeb. My mom has always been a bit of a Dr. Doolittle with the animals. When I was little our cats frequently dragged half-dead trophies into the house, limp broken birds that had certainly flat-lined somewhere along the way. My mom would smear a bit of peanut butter on their beaks like a suburban Lazarus and in no time at all those birds would be let free out the kitchen window. Somehow the rats never had a chance.

A few years ago my mom bought an African Gray parrot she named Huxley. She told my brother and I that because the bird would live to about 60 that one of us would have to forge a relationship with it as we would inherit it upon her passing. As a selling point she added that it would be like she was always there with us as Huxley would have her voice; she would talk to us from the grave. I am sure that you will understand that both my brother and I are afraid of this bird for many reasons, not the first of which is his razor sharp claws and bear-trap beak. But my mom loves him to death. He sits on her shoulder and poops down her back; they spoon under the covers. Huxley has taken to imitating my mom's phone conversations verbatim. Hello? Oh hiiii! Uh huh? Yeah, yup. Okay, okay, and then heh heh heh. He does a perfect imitation of my mom's fake phone laugh. Color me crazy but I just don't want my mom fake laughing at me from the Beyond. To date this is one of my brother's and my biggest disagreements: which one of us has to take that damn bird when my mom dies.
*Centrifugal force (from Latin centrum "center" and fugere "to flee") is a term which may refer to two different forces which are related to rotation. Both of them are oriented away from the axis of rotation, but the object on which they are exerted differs.
In other words, me and my mother.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Happy Birthday

Little known Petunia Face fact: Who is the only person I have ever had to censor off my comment board? Answer: my mother. Don't ask why. It was very questionable content. Here is the little minx herself, I'm guessing around age 8.
My mom is a study in contrasts. A Southern belle without an accent, a nurse who had she been born in another time and place would have been a doctor, a surgeon. She is a beautiful woman, a fag hag, Mrs. Magoo in a world of sheer cliffs, The Strong Lady at the circus. When I was in the 4th grade my homework was to list other states aside from the United States. My mother made me write the state of ecstasty, the state of despair, a sudden state of panic. She does not drive, has not since I was very young. Her world is small but her imagination is limitless. She stays up until 5 in the morning reading then sleeps until 2pm. She was and is an eccentric, a maximalist in a world of minimalists. All of my childhood she walked around the house naked, her butt emblazoned with a tattoo of a tropical island. When I was 12 and complained because my perfect friend Lisa was sleeping over my mother obliged my request for normalcy and covered herself with a retro June Cleaver see-through apron tied loosely around her naked hips, the palm tree on the tropical island warmed by the sun. I never could tell if Perfect Lisa was laughing or crying. I know which one I was doing.
My mother is a young Ruth Gordan, a working woman's Auntie Mame. Courageous and generous to a fault, although I have often mistaken her eccentricities as selfish, as weak. When Zoey was born my mother told me that now I would finally understand just how very much she loves me. And part of me does but the other part just cannot believe it, this all-consuming appetite I have for my daughter. Has my mom wanted to devour me all along as I do Zoey? Has she really stared at me sleeping? Cupped my cheek in her hand and cried?
In a story befitting Faulkner, my mother's own mother left when my mother was 5. If that sentence is too hard to follow just know this: my mother did not have a mother of her own. So what I would like to tell my mom is this: Yes, I finally do understand just how very much you love me. But because you didn't get to have a mother growing up, don't get to have one now, as an adult, you will never understand just how very much I love you. How as a daughter looking at her mother I don't think I will ever understand you, how I catch myself sometimes, the way my voice sounds singing a certain song maybe, how I am you. How I have hated you, loved you to distraction, feared turning into you, how absolutely honored I would be to be you. So my birthday present to you is this: comment. I will not censor you. Dear Reader, get ready. Happy Birthday Mom.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Jedi Mind Trick

Ok, yes, wrong color and the ears aren't quite right, but here is Zoey looking a smidgeon like Yoda. It was either this or dredge up Star Wars images on Google and I just couldn't deal with the force this early in the morning.
More? More? With the exception of No this is Zoey's current favorite word. Most mornings we all pile into my car and I take Bryan to the ferry on the way to dropping off Zoey at daycare and then going to work myself. On the way we stop at Starbucks. Kinda' makes us sound like an asshole Yuppie family, but whatever. Maybe we are. Because yes, I do drive an SUV and have been known to shop at Banana Republic from time to time.
Bryan usually runs in to Starbucks and gets me my chai and pumpkin loaf which is really just a slice of cake for breakfast masquerading as bread. Zoey is fed an organic breakfast at daycare, eggs and fruit, but it never fails that she recognizes that brown and green paper Starbucks bag of baked goods and leans forward in her car seat, arms outstretched, demanding More? More? It's a Jedi Mind Trick of sorts because it implies that I have already given her some. What's the matter then with more?
I fall for it every morning and I think I'm going to have to start using this tactic myself. For instance when I go in for my Annual Review at work I think I'll just kick-start the meeting with More? More? I invite you to try this Jedi Mind Trick yourself. Please let me know how it works for you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Your Life, 424 Months, Week 2

When I was pregnant with Zoey I was grateful to know when she was the size of a blueberry. Happy to hear that she had formed a tail at one point, that her arm buds existed, that if I somehow went into labor in my 28th week she had a better than average chance of survival. BabyCenter is the Bible for pregnant women, the New Testament with little room for interpretation. Much like baby wipes, I just don’t know how women ever had babies before it existed.
I signed up on before I was even pregnant. Each week I was emailed tips on fertility and reproductive health. Mrs. Dowell, my 7th grade sex ed. teacher, would have been so proud. And these weekly email tips continued throughout my pregnancy, informing me each week how my baby was developing, how I might be feeling. Oh? It’s normal to have veiny boobs, fat ankles and a stuffy, puffy probiscus? It’s normal to throw up in my mouth several times a day? To want to kill my husband? My co-workers? My cat? Lovely. Just so long as it’s normal.
BabyCenter kept those emails coming after Zoey was born. In fact, I am pretty sure that as I was in labor BabyCenter was right there with me, electronically telling me that my cervix was 95% effaced, that my vagina might be feeling slightly uncomfortable. After Zoey was born I received another email gem something along the lines of Your Baby, Week 1: You might notice that your baby does not sleep for more than 2 hours at a time, particularly at night. And I did. And I swear I was grateful to BabyCenter for pointing that out to me.
But here we are, 84 weeks later. Your Toddler, 20 Months, Week 4: You might notice that it is difficult to eat out in restaurants. And while I should thank BabyCenter for again pointing out the obvious, what I really want to say is no shit, Sherlock? Bring crayons? A snack baggie of carrots? That’s your esteemed electronic solution? My child is shrieking in a steakhouse, standing up on her chair and grabbing at lit candles and you suggest a crayon?
I wonder how much longer I will receive these weekly emails from If 14 years from now I will receive an email titled Your 15 Year Old, Month 8, Week 4: Your child hates you right now. The sound of your voice makes her skin crawl. She smokes pot behind the gym and has sex with her boyfriend. How You Might Be Feeling: Helpless.
And if this is the case, if I am to resigned to receiving these informational emails about Zoey’s development for the next 65 years, why can’t I sign up for my own birthdate? So that I may receive weekly electronic updates on my own development? Your Life, 424 Months, Week 2: I am the size of a step-ladder. My breasts have sagged and even though I still get the occasional zit I am also waging a futile battle against not-so-fine lines. Inside I still think I am 17. How I Might Be Feeling: Absurd.
At least then I would KNOW that this is all normal.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Me So Corny

Blogging is a bit like going to a cocktail party where you don’t know anyone. You hang up your coat and stand there feeling a bit naked, hoping your dress is the correct attire. Nobody hands you a drink at first, there are no appetizers and you don’t really know what to do with your hands. All around people are laughing at other people’s stories. You feel fringe.
So you just open your mouth and start talking to the air. It feels funny at first, speaking into a void. You tell your stories and maybe someone smiles at you. Hands you a drink. A plate of bite-sized mushroom quiche even though you hate mushrooms so you just nibble around the edges to be polite. You keep talking and suddenly someone laughs. Someone else talks back. Introduces you to her friend. And suddenly you are not alone anymore, your words floating up into nothing. They are heard. You are heard.
I could not sleep last night. Delayed jet lag. I tossed and turned and thought of Petunia Face, what I would write about today. And really the only thing on my mind is gratitude. For Decorno, Beach Bungalow 8 and Coco + Kelley who posted such nice things about me here and here and here. For Scented Glossy Magazine who makes me laugh everyday. For the 50 or so other blogs I obsessively check daily while I am supposed to be working. For my readers, those who have commented and kept me going even when I felt like I should just go home, get in my jammies and put on some zit cream. This is by far the best party I have ever been to. Thank you.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Oh, the Glamour!

I was a vegetarian for a few years back in my early 20's. I remember the night I decided to become one: it was Halloween and Bryan and I watched Faces of Death (banned in over 40 countries!) in my little studio apartment trying to decide if we were going out (intended both ways--we were trying to decide if we should go to a club AND we were trying to decide if we wanted to stay together). It was 1993 and as such I wore palazzo pants, a leotard, clogs and a ribbon choker. I can hardly even say the word leotard anymore without feeling stupid, without becoming self-conscious of my spare tire, of my c-section pooch that just won't go away. Perhaps the only thing worse is the word unitard. But I was 21. The images of people dying scared me but I was still young enough to feel invincible. It was the scenes of animal slaughterhouses that disturbed me the most. When I saw on the news that River Phoenix was dead the world felt uncertain so I did the only thing I had the power to do: I ate Tofurkey.
I have since decided I like my products as I like my meat: clean and far removed from their origins. I was never a very good vegetarian, inexplicably drawn to the smell of bacon in the morning. After this last trip to Asia I am finding that I may not be a very good product developer, either. I like my goods on store shelves shiny and new, marked up and if they are off-gassing toxic chemicals I don't really want to know about it.

When people find out what I do, that I travel to Asia for work, sometimes New York and Europe, they invariably tell me how lucky I am, how interesting it must be. But the truth is: it's not. It's work. It's visiting dirty, stinky factories in China. It's 12 hour days broken up by 2 hour drives in a van with no suspension that smells like cigarettes and petrol. It's KFC for lunch because you're American and that's what the factory people think you like: a spicy chicken sandwich with a bag of chicken poppers and a side of chicken tenders. With chicken sauce. And the chicken is not far enough removed from once clucking in any language for my liking.

This was my third trip to Asia for work. The third time I have toured these factories, met with these people, eaten their KFC and not gone to the bathroom for a week straight. Suffice it to say I returned home just a wee bit cranky. But what really disturbed me this time is that it is just an accident of birth that I am on this side of the product development process. Just fate that I am not the one spinning the wheels, polishing the metal, cutting the fabric, my face blank and resigned. So those people who tell me I am lucky that I get to travel are right. Not because I get to go to Asia and eat KFC, but because I get to come home.

Halfway through the trip I decided to stop taking photos of the process, the machines and product. And I started taking pictures of the things that made me still feel alive. Funny signs:

The owner of this factory told us that this sign meant "the customer is god."

If any of my readers know Chinese please confirm. Because I have a sneaking suspicion it means something more along the lines of "the customer is a spicy chicken-eating idiot, charge them triple the cost while you proffer your business card with two hands and a slight bow."

Nothin' like an ice cold bottle of Wang's Yang to wash down your KFC. When out of my comfort zone, sometimes it's the little things that make me happy.
And then I got home to this:
Last night we had hot dogs for dinner. If I thought hard enough I would have puked. I know where they come from... But thinking is sometimes overrated so I decided to just eat the hot dog and watch Faces of Zoey, (loved in over 40 countries).

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Ours is the century of enforced travel. . . of disappearances. The century of people helplessly seeing others, who were close to them, disappear over the horizon. -John Berger

I am leaving again tomorrow. Another work trip, this time to Hong Kong and China for one week. In normal adult time a week is not long. But in those seven days I will miss Zoey laughing approximately 230 times. I will miss 4 baths, 43 renditions of Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques (Dormez-moo, dormez-moo?) and 12o,ooo blueberries stuffed into my mouth by sticky, pudgy fingers. Of course I can always ask the people in the factories I am visiting to feed me blueberries one by one, but Chinese people generally have very thin fingers, so it just wouldn't be the same.
I will also miss one of my closest friends giving birth. She is due to be induced on January 11th. This is my dear friend who is also my colleague. The only other times I have been to Asia have been with her. We have talked at length about our bowels in Hong Kong, in Shenzhen, in Delhi. We have feasted on a dinner at a chocolate dessert bar in Bangkok pretending that we were Sara and Becky from The Little Princess. (Of course that also might help to explain the need for intestinal discussions.) She is my travel-sized Thumbelina, happily typing away on my Blackberry in moving cabs so that I don't get car sick. This time I am going with a good group of colleagues, but travel poo talk with them? I get backed up just thinking about it.
And of course there will be no blogging from the Asia.So I leave tomorrow. Hoping that Zoey is not shaped by my repeated leaving. Guiltily looking forward to the 16 hour flight in first class. 16 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Of the slow drip of Unisom time, watching movies and reading and drooling. Me-time on Cathay Pacific.
168 hours until I return.
...The electricity went out before Susannah could finish this post, before she could edit it even. The power was still out when she left for China so she asked me to just send this as it is. She'll be back in one week! -Bryan

Thursday, January 3, 2008


I love kittens and flowers, the feel of sunlight flat against my back, mozzarella cheese. But I don’t really like people. Of course I love love love the people I love: my family and friends and Matt Dillon circa 1980 and Little Darlings. But otherwise you’re guilty until proven innocent. I do not especially like this about myself but not enough to really work on changing it.
The other day Bryan and I took Zoey downtown to this little plaza area where parents drink coffee and children run screaming like banshees. It’s a bit like a singles bar except that nobody is looking for sex; they’re all parents and thus too tired. Instead mothers exchange small talk over the heads of their kids who are busy poking their fingers into each others’ mouths and noses, the toddler equivalent of dogs sniffing each others’ butts, perhaps to assert dominance. Zoey had met a towheaded boy named Hunter and together they played in the mud with a toy schoolbus he had, so there I was stuck with his equally blond mother. She was petite and perky. Too happy. Too pretty. She wanted to know if I was part of the Marin Mothers’ Group (answer: no) because if not I should join ASAP, they have a great playgroup that meets most every day, a book club, a monthly swingers party. Okay, she didn’t really say that last part but the thought of it made me laugh, she was too perfect. I stuffed my left hand in my pocket to hide the fact that I don’t wear a wedding ring, no engagement ring even. Bryan didn’t give me one on the random Wednesday morning he proposed back in 2005 and we didn’t exchange wedding rings 2 days later on the equally random Friday when we got married at City Hall. Usually I feel kind of hip about this, alternative and cool, but the dazzle of her pea-sized diamond made me stuff my hand in my pocket like a pauper. I thought she was a fluffy silly housewife, one who could meet at playgroup every day. I smiled. I kept it friendly. I kept my hand in my pocket. This Mother was Other.
I don’t think my reaction was just me, the fact that I don’t really like people until proven otherwise. We mothers seem to judge each other liberally. The way we dress, what we feed our children, their nap schedules, our marriages, whether or not we work outside of the home. I know I do it and I know you do, too. Believe me, I’ve judged you for it. When did we switch from the refrain “I don’t know how she does it” to the scorn, “Can you believe how she does it?” Why are we so judgmental of each other?
There we were, two mothers of toddlers born within weeks of each other, strangers forced to converse with coffee cups in hand. Zoey was still playing in the mud but Hunter had moved down to the plaza with his metal yellow school bus, vroom vroom near a woman and her dog. So how do you join? I was asking with fake sincerity when suddenly the dog lunged at Hunter, not even growling but snarling and snapping, it happened so fast. A ball of noise and screams and fur and the perky blond mother snatched up her child, squeezed him to her chest and then out again to check for blood, for bites. I don't know how, but there were none. Hunter was fine. Scared and crying and red, but fine. The owner of the dog ran over, apologizing and sheepish. I'm sorry, she said, but he really doesn't like children. Still holding her crying child, the perky blond mother softly said it's okay. He's okay. But you're lucky. If anything had happened to my son I would have sued your ass and killed your dog. Not even growling but snarling and snapping, it happened so fast. And she snatched up her child and left. And I wanted to run after that other mother, I was so proud of her. So in awe of how wrong I was about her. She was a strong woman, a great mother, a kick ass Mofo, the kind I only wish I could be. The owner of the dog grabbed his collar and slunk away quietly while the rest of us glowered at her. A pack of mothers.
As soon as I got home I went online and signed up for the Mother's Group. I am still waiting to hear if I have been accepted.