Friday, February 27, 2009

A Modern Day Allegory (Friday Foot Fetish Edition)

Personally, it's always bothered me that one little piggy had roast beef while the other had none, and the fact that none is supposed to rhyme with home. It doesn't. Name the other pig Guillaume and be done with it, or Jerome perhaps, send him to yoga to om, give him a dish rich with truffles and loam, in his back pocket a black plastic comb, have him reside in a pied-à-terre at La Place Vendôme, or Rome. Shalom. But none? Yeah--uh, no. (Don't even get me started on the travesty that is Dora rhyming with Explorer. Bish, plz.)

Not my foot.

No matter--I've always hated roast beef anyway. Today I have some toes to tickle, so it's Wee! Wee! Wee! All the way home for me.

Happy Friday.

With love,

The Petunia Faced Girls

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You Down With HSP? (Yeah, You Know Me)

Once I actually bought a book called "The Highly Sensitive Person." It might as well have been called "You're Quite the Asshole." 251 pages detailing people who are easily overwhelmed by stimuli, people who are overly affected by other people's moods, people who are easily startled. In other words: people who ask the manager at Pasta Pomodoro to turn down that god-awful music because they don't amore it... People who make their friend duct tape a new baby blanket to the kitchen window so she can spend the night on her couch without the INS-glare of the street light outside... People who call the cops on the old lady across the street because that stupid white dog with the weepy brown eyes won't stop yapping and yes I know it would have been nice to ask her first like a good neighbor but what am I, fucking State Farm? No, no I am not, and the cops are there for a reason, god how I hate confrontation. I am a Highly Sensitive Person, HSP for short, or, if you prefer: an ASS (Ack! Stop [the {motherfucking}] Stimuli!).
I inherited my HSPness from my dad. I grew up climbing over the carseat into the way, way back of his 1972 International Scout, a book of matches in hand, with the explicit instructions not to sit back down until I had located the source of that rattle and wedged the matches into the crevice to make it stop, make it stop, oh for the love of god, make it stop! My father now wears a hearing aid. Dad, do you need a refill on your juice? I ask each week when he comes over for dinner. No, I haven't seen that movie yet, he might reply, what's it about? Depending on my mood I sometimes make it up, a plot, something to do with a falcon and a farm, fuhfuh mmm, kah plahst, numnumaghhh, you know. Yeah. From across the room my cell phone sometimes emits a high-pitched sigh of interference, the ghost in the machine whispering to the toaster, a secret that we are not supposed to hear, and my dad and I look at each other. Did you hear that? I ask. God, yes, he says, turning down his hearing aid, I heard that. I hate that.
This is my birthright, to spend my life consumed by the brightness of the numbers on my clock radio. Bryan says I sleep with my eyes open. He also tells me to stop giving people the stink eye at movie theaters, on airplanes, in restaurants. He says my muscle to pissiness ratio is way off, and something tells me he doesn't always have my back when people are talking too loudly. Why must people talk so loudly?
Apparently I have the hearing of a teenager, which might make me feel good if I aspired to be a teenager which I don't, what with the way benzoyl peroxide bleaches a perfectly good towel. Used as a deterrant for loitering teens in Britain, this high-pitched tone is such that only people under the age of 25 can hear it. I am 11 years older, but I can hear it, and something tells me that my dad, at 66, will be able to hear it, too. Check it out to see if you are also an asshole, like me:

Train Horn

Of course if you also hear a small voice telling you to burn down the school and break into all the lockers then you're not just an asshole, you're a dick. And crazy. And not very sensitive at all.

Now sshhhh. I'm trying to think over here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

On Death and Happy Lent

Back home, safe and sound. I drove the speed limit past rest stops and strip malls, by cow pastures and Burger Kings, around semis and Saturns, careful not so much because I am a law abiding traveler of the interstate but because I was afraid of dying and having that vagina on a bicycle the last known image on Petunia Face. Not exactly the framed photo I envision adorning the top of my casket.

Which makes me wonder: what will become of this blog if I should die suddenly? Will you come here day after day, wondering why I haven't updated? How long until you give up? Should I give my password to Bryan so he can post a farewell in case of such an event? But what if we both die together? Should I bequeath it in my will, a one word log-in worth nothing more than the time it takes to utter it? As if it were a family jewel, or a child? I was thinking of this today as I drove. And then I had to think it backwards so as not to jinx myself. Ylneddus eid dluohs I fi golb siht fo emoceb lliw tahw? And then I ate a Cadbury Cream Egg I had bought at the gas station. And then I remembered that today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. So I thought about what I should give up. And then I remembered that I am not Catholic. So I ate another Cadbury Cream Egg. And now I am home, not dead, just dead tired. I am thinking it would be good if I just go stare at a blank wall for a few hours. And then eat another Cadbury Cream Egg.
Happy Lent. Or Pious Lent. I am not sure what the appropriate greeting would be as I have never bought an Ash Wednesday Hallmark card, raised as I was a Spiritually Agnostic Lapsed Episcopalian/Southern Baptist Who Loves Seasonal Candy Regardless of What God And/Or Pastoral Animal We Are Celebrating. So Happy Hump Day instead. I know that one.
p.s. Other on the road thoughts inspired by the mention of the dark and dirty underworld of the bedside table drawer: I'm thinking I should start a business, working title "So You're Dead Now But Don't Want Your Parents To Find Your Vibrator, LLC, Inc." Basically you hire me, tell me all your dirty secrets and where to find them. Upon your untimely passing I will be the first notified and quickly work to clean out whatever gank you have in your proverbial bedside table drawer. Possible items include sex toys, love letters, porn, dirty Polaroids and video, boogers, etc. I am working on the logistics, but something tells me this could be huge.
p.p.s. Dear Mom and Dad: I got this idea from watching tv. There is nothing in my bedside table drawer but Chapstick, cough drops and a Gideon's Bible.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Like a Vagina Needs a Bicycle

I'm going to be honest with you. I'm writing this on Sunday night, post-Oscars, pre-road trip, destination Estrogen, population: Schizo. (You there on your Tuesday: you did not know it but by reading this post you're entering a time warp, a look back when we were all two days younger and the world was but a wee blue marble. Now look at us: two days older, jaded, the earth wise.) So yes, here I am, Sunday night and buying time with this pre-fab post, the fab most certainly standing for fabricated and not fabulous. My hair is wet, freshly showered, my house seeming to sway to the hum of the dishwasher. It is quiet. I have a feeling I won't be able to write while at my friend's house. Or breathe.

No matter--in my (not so) absence I give you this: Vagina on a Bicycle. (Alternate title: Woman with Unfortunate Hat, depending on where you stand.) With the birth of a new baby, talk at my friend's house will almost certainly repeatedly turn to the source, even if it was via c-section.
So there's that, this photo; and then there's this: me on a couch somewhere two days from now, probably complaining how Bryan never hangs up his jacket. I will be eating Chex Mix, maybe, picking out the pretzels because they suck and are stale. Zoey will be playing with her friends, the Backyardigans will be on, Uniqua and Tyrone, then the new baby will cry, her bleating mews causing my own faded pink c-section scar to ache, like a sailor portending rain. And I will wonder: is it just like riding a bicycle? The vagina: does it ever forget?
Happy Fat Tuesday, tout le monde. Laissez le bons temps roulez.
With love from Sunday,

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sharpen Your #2 Pencils

In what may just be the worst idea ever, today I am driving 4 hours north with a friend and our kids to be with our other friend because her husband has to go away on a business trip less than a week after she had a c-section with their second baby.

And if that sentence wasn't clunky enough for you, please, let me re-phrase: if a car is driving 300 miles at 70 mph with a two+ year old toward a small house with (2) other two+ year olds, (1) nine week old infant, (1) five day old newborn, (1) newly stitched c-section, (2) dogs, (3) women, (1) copy of "House Bunny" and immeasurable amounts of hormones gone horribly awry, how long will it take before someone throws herself on the floor crying over soggy cornflakes?
Now I did not fare incredibly well on the math portion of my SAT's but I am going with:
c.) T-minus 4, 3, 2, 1...
If you don't hear from me tomorrow please call Dr. Bauer, DDS for my dental records and whatever you do, don't look in my bedside table drawer.

Friday, February 20, 2009

F*ck It List

For no apparent reason other than it was either this or I write more about leaky nipples, here are 5 things on my To Do list before I die (accompanied by What Is Stopping Me):
  1. Cut my hair into a bob with bangs and dye it black, then wear capri pants, a striped sailor poorboy and flats. Everyday. What Is Stopping Me: my round face, cheeks of a monchichi, general love of hygiene, and probably the look on Bryan's face.
  2. Pose nude, tastefully, of course (for whom I do not know). What Is Stopping Me: the fact that my dad and brother are still very much alive, the fact that I don't want them to die, and the fact that my nudity is quickly losing fair market value.
  3. Win the lottery. What Is Stopping Me: I don't actually play the lottery.
  4. Get all La Femme Nikita on somebody who tries to attack me using the kickboxing moves I learned the Summer of Tae-Bo (sans suffering any post-traumatic stress disorder). What Is Stopping Me: I don't really want to be attacked, my arms the make and model of a mildly retarded T-Rex, I never actually finished the Tae-Bo tape that summer of 1995 because Billy Blanks creeped me out.
  5. Spontaneously break into song and dance somewhere random in public much to the surprise and joy of those around me, a la this gent spotted by the Jumbotron at a sporting event:

What Is Stopping Me: Nothing.

Watch out, world: it's the weekend.

What's on your To-Do list?

p.s. Please don't call it a Bucket List. The movie sucked and the phrase rather irks me. If you must, Fuck-it List is eons better.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Truth (About Most)

When I was pregnant with Zoey I was ugly. Bloated, broken out, rashy, oily, peeling, peeing like a lap dog at the sound of every doorbell, a cautionary tale for doing it. You must be having a girl, somebody at work once commented, and when I asked why she said that being pregnant with a boy makes you glow while a girl steals your beauty. I didn't even have it in me to feel slighted. She was right: I was a beast, my nose somehow twice its size. My face felt different when I smiled, although I did not smile often.

I became addicted to Afrin and Babycenter when I was pregnant, breathing through my mouth while I whispered aloud names, all of which ended in a question mark. Once a month I got a prenatal massage and the masseuse would push her finger into the yeasty loaf of my ankle before she would agree to work on me. Please plump back up, precariously perched on the table like a bead of boba tapioca, I would close my eyes and pray, not so much because I was afraid of edema but because I so desperately wanted to be touched.
I craved satsuma tangerines when I was pregnant, would buy them in bulk and pile them on my desk like post-its come unglued, the fleshy sections falling apart they were so ripe. At night I would lie awake in bed trying to remember which side was best to sleep on, where was my liver, something about my kidneys, and why it was all so important. I hardly slept. One night in the third trimester, between clumsy traipses to the bathroom, I dreamt that I unzipped my belly and pulled my baby out to play. The baby cupped my face and cooed; I laughed. It was a joke, a secret, sshhh, something between us, and I was so sad when I realized it was time to zip my baby back in. When I woke up, my nipples were oozing colostrum.

Last night I made stir-fry, the vegetables over-steamed, loose, the rice overcooked, crunchy as maggots, the kitchen a mess, the faucet still dripping, my stomach flat; I was not hungry. Why is there always so much shit on the floor? At bedtime, the blessed hour of 8, after filling a cup of water, after finding the step-stool, after brushing the teeth, the tongue, the hair, after filtering through the pile of diapers to find one with a picture of three princesses, not one, four diapers rejected for the royalty of being too blond, I bent down to kiss my baby goodnight. I love you Mama. I love you most. No, I love you most, in the warmth of each other's breath we played our game of modification, on and on, more and most, the best. But then Zoey cupped my cheeks with her hands and cooed: Most bootiful, and I breathed it in and kept it there, this old wives tale of misplaced modifiers, of things stolen and then given back in bounty. It is mine, this secret, to pull out and play with, to zip back in for safekeeping.
*Slightly creepy felted womb from here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Say You, Say Me

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am in a mood.

A squinty-eyed, uneven-mouthed, color high on my cheeks mood. A mood for not using my turn signal, for fuck you, for me, yes me, why me, poor me, woe to the mother-effin moi. The kind of mood that attracts anonymean comments. And to that I say: bring it, bitches. Or don't. I'd rather you not really, if you please just don't, no false bravado here! No, all I'm saying is this: I am feeling sorry for myself. Pathetic, pitiful, spent. Poor and angry. Broken, blah blah, oh I know. I am just so tired of the economy sucking. I am tired of octoplets and resumes, the housing market, downsizing, selling off, selling short; I am tired of all this economic and other negative stimuliiiiiie.
So what does one do when in the briefest of ways one hates the world? Well, I, for one, am going George Costanza on this mood. Rather than raging further against the dying of the light, I think I'll flick a switch, turn on a lamp. Using my turn signal here, hang on people, we're flipping a bitch...

Awhile back the positively glowing poet Maggie May of Flux Capacitor presented me with a lemonade award, for blogs who are both sweet and sour. In return, I would like to give a lil' sugar to the following:
  • monkey from my life as i see it. Like e.e. cummings, monkey eschews caplitalization. Read her blog and you'll soon see--monkey lives her whole life in upper case and does not need the affirmation of puncutation.
  • Vanessa from the Voyage of V. Maybe you saw the full page photo of her in the Inaugural edition of People magazine? (Sorry to embarrass you Vanessa.) If not, then you must dash over to her blog to read about how she quit her job to pursue writing. Gotta' love that.
  • ? from Your Ill-fitting Overcoat. Funny how I don't know her real name. But with a blog name as fabulous as that, does she need a real name? Perhaps that is the name on her actual birth certificate. If so, I wouldn't be surprised to one day see a book at Barnes and Noble by the world-renowned author Your Ill-fitting Overcoat.
  • Sharen from The Blogger Queen. She's a queen, yes, true, but she's the kind of queen that would let you have your cake and eat it, too. I just have a feeling.
  • Paloma from La Dolce Vita. As if it weren't enough that she has a kick-ass design blog, she just started a design forum for the www. I love a lady who knows how to work a room, and this one does. Check it out at Decorum Design Forum.

Wow. I feel a little better. Turning the frown upside down (which is okay because I have no money to fall out of my pockets). The truth is (cue Lionel Richie), I don't know how I would have gotten through this last year without all of you. Nameless, faceless, pseudonymed friends that live in the dusty whirring of my hard drive. You're my imaginary support in a world of concrete instability, and I thank you for that. Sadly, there aren't enough blog awards to go around, not enough time to recognize all of you. But know this: I know you. I hear you. I read you, and I thank you.

Happy Hump Day. May your mood be lightened.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I Dream of Costa Rica

I am a boring person. Supermarket boring, make that market, nothing spectacularly super about it. I like watching tv, shopping, hanging out with friends. I feel a little trill of excitement when I get those free return address labels from the Susan G. Koman foundation, or Save the Pandas, whatever. I rip open the envelope to see--do they have pink ribbons on them? Flowers? A Smile Train smile? Oh goody! They spelled my name correctly! In some ways this is sad, I know. But I feel very safe with the mundane.
Bryan wants us to move to Costa Rica. This is not new. He is a tropical boy who breathes best underwater. When he was ten years old his parents took him out of school for a year and they sailed to Tahiti. When I was ten years old I read every book on Ramona Quimby. This is the biggest difference between us: He craves movement and I need to be still.

Last night I could not sleep; I thought of Kuki Gallmann. Kim Basinger. Alec Baldwin was a fleeting thought based on pure free-association. Filthy pigs. There are fer de lance snakes in Costa Rica, spiders the size of dinner plates, torrential rain and cars that pass on blind curves. I am fairly certain Susan G. Koman would not send me address labels. For one, I would not have an address.
But what would we do? I ask Bryan. Nothing, he says, as if nothing is a perfectly acceptable answer, a perfectly acceptable thing to do, which I suppose it is somewhere, for some reason, or no reason at all. We would live on the money we make off our house and then come home when it ran out, he said. At some point he fell asleep and I listened to the click of my eyelids in the dark as I tried to troubleshoot what I saw as trouble: So we would come home with nothing? What about our stuff? Our cars? How we would get around? How would we do our laundry? What about Nacho? What about health insurance? What about Zoey? She loves her grandparents, her aunts and uncles, sees them all the time now. What about pre-school? And I did what I do when I feel uncertain: I tried to see it for certain. Zoey muddy and laughing at the beach (But she hates the feel of sand!). Me writing a book about the adventure (But would I be able to find wireless access? Could the laptop withstand the humidity, the salt air? The rain?) We would come home and live with Bryan's parents. (With nothing!) Beside me, Bryan snored. In the dark of the night I lived a year in Costa Rica, the glamour of the idea, the jealous shine in the eyes of my friends when I told them, the book deal, the gnawing homesickness, the boredom of nothing, the fear of freedom. The viper that might bite my child.

In the morning I proposed an alternative idea: we stay the course, stay here, sell our house and rent. But take the money from the house and use it to buy property in Costa Rica to build a vacation home. With the goal being that eventually we spend our summers there. I can do that--Zoey would learn Spanish, all of us exotic come September. There are still questions: what would we do with our place here each summer? Will our jobs afford enough time off to make it worthwhile? But I can live with these questions. I can do three months without return address labels. Just as long as I have something still to return.
*All pics past trips to Costa Rica: Malpais and Pavones.

Monday, February 16, 2009

China Bandaids

In case you are wondering what Zoey is sticking all over the chair in this picture, let me clarify. Those are china bandaids.

China bandaids. As in, leaving her alone in the room for five minutes only to discover a trail of pink plastic wrappers leading to the scene. Yes, china bandaids: as in mommy what are these? And I hesitate and then hesitate some more before tentatively answering that they are bandaids that mommies sometimes wear on their vaginas but that they are not for big girls like Zoey? And I finish the explanation with a question mark, just like that. You know, vagina bandaids? For that part of you that exists on the other side of the world? As in: the rest of the weekend spent telling Zoey that no, I would not buy her a box of china bandaids of her very own.
But that's okay, because now, forever after, I have a name for them that does not begin with maxi or include the word sanitary.
You're welcome.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tales From the Crypt

When I was a freshman in high school I went out with a guy. We'll call him Paul. Because that was his name. He was a senior which is very important to this story as that is the only reason I can attribute for me ever going out with him. He drove a Honda with fuzzy maroon seat covers discreetly embroidered with the Playboy bunny. He listened to a lot of DeBarge and once told me that he had a bottle of champagne saved in the event he lost his virginity. He often asked if I was thirsty. I was not. On Valentine's day the seniors were allowed to send out candy-grams, and it was a big deal if the door of your 3rd period class opened up with someone delivering a rose and sugar hearts. I was earnestly learning about the symbolism in Great Expectations when the door to my English class opened and I was given my candy-gram along with a note from Paul. It read: To be sung to the tune of Joanna, by Kool and the Gang. Susannah, I like you. You're the one, the one for me. With your bright blue eyes and smile so sweet. Or something like that. My eyes are most decidedly brown.
In college, the early years, Bryan and I were often broken up. He was a dick and I was needy. Together we formed one rockin' duo, his hair longer than mine, my heart all dry and puckered, exposed as it was pinned to my sleeve. You know how you have certain memories so clear and fresh that you can still smell the flinty wood of the pencil? One prematurely spring day I sat in a geography class that I had signed up for only because Bryan needed it for a science credit. He was not in class that day. The sun shone into the window of the classroom, smacking my cheek with what I knew was an unflattering glare. As the professor droned on and on about oxbow lakes I bent my head out of the sun and doodled a picture in my notebook. It looked something like this:
Titled: Self-Portrait, With Zits, it was a soul searching journey into my nineteen year old psyche. I can still recall the deep sense of loss as I dotted on the pimples--they were the kind that feel as if they greet the day two steps ahead of you. I was just so sad, so deeply, deeply sad remembering a time (probably the week before) when Bryan loved me. I felt forgotten, as if the river had changed its path on me unexpected, meandered a bit to the right or to the left, going with the flow, the path of least resistance, leaving me stagnant and alone. Resisted and zitty. It was Valentine's Day. Later Bryan gave me some flowers that his roommate had gotten from his girlfriend but didn't want. I hung them upside down on my bedroom wall to dry.
In kindergarten I had a friend that was a boy so I suppose he was my boyfriend. His name was Chris and one day he invited me over to his house to go swimming and make Valentine's day cards out of doilies, glue sticks and glitter. At the pool his younger brother kept trying to pull down my bathing suit bottoms but Chris said he would only tell his mom if I showed him what was really underneath. We went behind the shed and I pulled down my bottoms and then Chris went back to the pool and played underwater Storm Troopers with his brother. He never told his mom. Valentine's Day: I am not a fan. Tomorrow night Bryan and I have a date to go see Slumdog Millionaire; the suffering seems appropriate. Do you have any good stories of V-day gone wrong? A time, perhaps, when the Hallmark card would not open, the pages stuck together with a good story? If so, please share. And either way, know that I love you. Someone you've never met, February 14th and beyond. Have a good one. (Or don't. Which is totally fine, too.)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

These Boots Were (Not) Made for Motherin'

There is a scene in the movie "Little Children" in which the camera pans under the table to show a mother's feet clad in dorky brown sandals. Maybe the toes were a little hairy, the pedicure chipped if there at all, I don't remember exactly. But it was a statement, the shot. A mother wears comfortable shoes. Sensible shoes. Sexless shoes. Like mom jeans, except the toe is just a toe and not that of a camel.
In preparing for motherhood I knew to look out for certain things: the short mom haircut (nothing against short hair on women, but there is a short mom haircut), sweatpants, mom jeans, of course, stick figures of my family stuck on the back window of my car. But I never realized I had to worry about my footwear. Until I saw these photos and thought: Fuck. Just fuck. Am I so old, so maternal, so sensible and so out of touch that I don't get these shoes? I mean, is this what all the kids are wearing these days?

Hooves? Really??? Are we wearing hooves now?

And Sweet Jesus if I did not see a paparazzi shot of Julia Roberts wearing these camel toed monstrosities just the other day.

And this? This? I am fairly sputtering at this: S&M meets Mr. Ed with a side order of Posh. Color me foot bound but I think I'd rather don a pair of Birkenstocks than these heinous kicks.
Stay with me here, but I remember a crystal clear day in the 10th grade: my friend Tawna and I were trying to memorize the words to the entire Run DMC tape and we were so annoyed because her mom's Fleetwood Mac was turned up too high in the other room. Yesterday's gone, yesterday's go-ooone... I stood up from pegging my jeans and said, Tawna, you have to promise me we won't get stuck in time. Like, years from now, we won't be like your mother still listening to Run DMC. And Tawna, to her credit, she took the time to apply one thoughtful coat of frosted coffee colored lipgloss before she turned to me and said, no. I promise you, no. We will never be like our mothers.
And I believed her, really I did. But now? All these years later, watching Katie Holmes peg Tom's jeans into silly little stumps of badly rinsed denim? I am not my mother, per se, but there is nothing like a pair of sensible, comfortable, sexless, my adidas.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pas de Zoey

Zoey is a shy girl, curling between my legs to hide from strangers. She studies the world with her large eyes unblinking, smiling only when she is sure. Of what, I don't know.

Smile! Men have shouted at me from their cars and on sidewalks, an assault of supposed good intentions that makes me scowl into the collar of my coat. I am the girl by the hors d'oeuvres table, the one who excuses herself to find the restroom, the girl you get stuck talking to, except she does not speak. I prefer my gatherings small, not my talk.

Every Sunday we go to a music show for kids called Breakfast with Enzo. Zoey loves Enzo, might be in love with him as only a two year old girl can be with a man who plays the saw. There is a point in his first song when he pauses the accordian and sticks out his hand for the kids to shake. Zoey runs up to shake his hand, then runs back to bury her head in my chest. Then she runs up to shake his hand again, and back, again to Enzo, stands there in front of him long past the pause in the song. She stares at Enzo playing the accordian, enrapt. Zoey, I say, psst! Come back!
Don't operate your kids, Enzo gently tells the parents each Sunday. Let them discover the music themselves. Clap, let them watch you sing so that they may sing themselves. And yet every Sunday I see parents with their children on their laps. They take the hands of the children and clap them together woodenly, yay! High falsetto and happy, marionettes clacking, operating instructions tucked neatly into back pockets, the troubleshooting guide particularly dog-eared. I have been known to do the same; Zoey's small hands fit so neatly inside my own.
At the park Zoey waits her turn. She watches the other kids before she climbs, pauses before she leaps. Jump! I say as kids push past her. Jump! My voice high because I want her to know the exhilaration of falling. (The exhilaration of pushing if I am honest.)
Why hello! What's your name? the cashier at the supermarket asks. Zoey looks down at her raisins and so I answer for her, my fingers plucking at strings.
At Enzo's, Zoey twirls. Around and around and around. I think she's going to be a drug addict, I whisper to my dad who has come along for the show. She likes being dizzy. Pas de chat, pas de chat, pas de chat, Zoey chants softly under her breath, a ballet term from one of her favorite DVD's, except it comes out sounding like padasshhh, padasshh, padasshhh. Zoey, I stop her waist from turning anymore. Want to dance out there with those other girls? She can hardly focus her eyes, the famed aftermath of a tilt-a-whirl girl, but I point to the center of the room where little kids are hopping and jumping, holding hands. Enzo is playing the banjo. It is so difficult not to operate your child. You want them to be fearless, bold, confident. To be better, not so much better than themselves, but better than you. You want them to toe tap and smile, to stand far away from the table of hors d'oeuvres, to sing their name as if it were the easiest and only note in the room. Zoey! Smile! An assault of supposed good intentions. And yet when she smiles it is real, it is full, it is pure, it is the best, her small feet the soft steps of a cat.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Black Would Be More Slimming, I Think

The lovely Paige over at I Heart You asked me a few questions on her blog today and I almost forgot to tell you to go check it out. Which makes me sound like an asshole. Or am I a bigger asshole for directing you to more about moi? Or is the assholery inherent in the fact that even though this photo has nothing to do with this post I cannot help but include it, my second fart reference of the day?
Whatever. People, I'm unemployed, bored and broke. My husband has hired three guys to re-shingle our house to prepare it to put on the market this spring--the problem is that these guys are also friends of ours so I care what they think. For the past three weeks I've been sitting at the computer pretending I am incredibly busy. When I get up to go pee I make sure I walk loud enough so they know I am not just sitting on my ass all day. Oh no, boys! I walk to the bathroom every two hours! Pro-duc-tiviteee! On the off-chance that they are shingling around a window and see me inside I duck so they do not know that really I spend all day blogging and checking status updates on Facebook. So yeah, go see what I have to say over at Paige's blog. As if this isn't enough.

The #1 Reason I am Happy Not to be a Weatherman. Woman. Anchor-Thingie.

Question: Why do I think this is so funny? (Warning: slow build; watch for the discomfort.)

Answer: Because inside of this body of a 36 year old mother is the brain of a ten year old boy.
Alt Answer: Because it is funny.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Gung Hay Fat Choy!
According to the Chinese zodiac, we are now entering the Year of the Ox. I, for one, am all for it, considering the Ox is thought to be the sign of prosperity through fortitude and hard work. Furthermore, the Ox is not extravagant, the modern interpretation being that the thought of living off credit cards or being in debt makes The Ox nervous. The Year of The Economic Stimulus Plan, Obama, change and more than a little plodding. I'm taking this year and this bull by the horns, baby!
This past weekend my mom and I took Zoey to Chinatown. I used to love going there when I was little. My brother would get a Transformer before there was such a thing, and I would get a silken-faced China doll that I would make my mother turn toward the wall at bedtime. (More than meets the eye.) We would get a new pair of satin pajamas and bags of creamy, soft White Rabbit Candy, the slips of rice paper melting on our tongues like something you are not supposed to do, something you are not supposed to eat. However, this weekend there was no White Rabbit Candy, having been recalled for containing trace amounts of melamine. And the crowds were horrendous. I had not been to Chinatown in maybe 15 years, and the one day my mom and I decide to take Zoey is the day of the Chinese New Year parade, fireworks cracking and bundles of yellow balloons that made Zoey cry as they slipped from her hands and into the sky.

However, I am hoping this means something, something auspicious. The fact that we went to Chinatown the day of the celebration of a new year, that we got home hours later wearing new pajamas and Chinese slippers that smelled of kerosene despite Tide and Bounce and rosewater mists. The beginning of the Year of the Ox, unswervingly patient, capable of enduring any amount of hardship, a year full of people that when they set their mind on something it is hard for them to be convinced otherwise.
Because this weekend I also got an agent. As in literary. As in "you'll have to speak with my..." It's for a children's book that I have written. While it is officially the Year of the Ox, I was born under the starry skies of the Rat, a sign as much known for its charisma as it is for its ambition. Rats are unapologetic promoters of their own agendas. (Professions include espionage, pathology and writing.)
That is, if you believe in that sort of thing. And right about now, all I have is a belief.
So cheers to a New Year! May the paper melt sweet in our mouths.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Hire Me. Or Don't. Totally Your Call.

Just once I'd like to walk into an interview wearing jeans and flip flops, maybe my pajamas if it's a particularly rainy day. I'd toss my resume and portfolio onto the table, ask for a hot chocolate (with miniature marshmallows!) and say, "With all due respect, you know my credentials, my experience, what college I went to and that I was laid off from my last job. And the one before that, true, true, the economy sucks and you've got me! I surrender! But here's the thing: I can do this job, easy-peasy lemon-squeazy. Done, eyes-closed, one arm tied and in Cantonese. I will arrive each day with a good attitude, fresh bagels if it's Friday and it's my turn. I will get the work done and then some. I will sign the birthday card for Mike in Marketing complete with a smiley face even though we all know he's an ass. I won't get smashed at the holiday party, nor will I leave my leftover pasta in the break-room fridge for weeks on end. I will wash my own coffee cup. Hell, I don't even drink coffee, true story. I will meet the bottom line fiscal goals and soon my conversation will be littered with the company-speak of this particular organization, even if that means using architect as a verb. Because I am a team player, and I like to architect a strong company morale. See? Did you see that? This is one out-of-the-box team playa.'So please--don't ask me about a situation in which I took initiative; don't ask me to describe what motivates me, to give an example of how my communication skills are used on the job, if I would describe myself as a leader. Because the answer is yes. Oh, sure, I'll talk my way in and around the question and you'll sit there taking notes, nodding, and I won't know when to stop talking and maybe I'll just sort of trail off with a weak smile on my face, so let's just cut the crap. Whatever the right answer is, that's what I said. Yes. Done. Hire me, or don't. Totally your call." And then I will shake the interviewer's hand and ask where the bathroom is because I really have to pee. See, usually I hold it because nobody wants an employee with a bladder, right? But no. Just once I'd like to actually ask where the bathroom is, after that hot chocolate and all.
I am just so tired of trying to impress people.
I'm telling you: it's a good thing I'm married because I would suck at dating. Like 43 cats suck.
Yesterday's interview was good. And then I came home and put on some really ugly pajamas, black socks and stuck a spinach leaf in my teeth because I wanted to look unpresentable. I didn't even eat the spinach; I just stuck a little on my front tooth and then watched my Tivo'ed season finale of A Double Shot at Love with the Ikki Twins. (And here I must digress: I feel terrible for Rikki! That shovel face Trevor said he loved her and then chose Vikki! What the Six of Nikki is going on with that??!)
So here's the thing. I also had a phone interview yesterday, very casual, more informational than anything. It's for an internet type deal-i-o, social networking, building communities and all that hoodoo voodoo. Mum's the word, if you catch my drift. I professed my passion for the www, for the support and community I've found through blogging; I professed my passion for you. And now the guy wants to see my blog. Which is totally fine if he were to read this post or this one or this one. But maybe not this one or this one, know what I mean? But I can't very well send him bits and pieces; he asked for the url. So essentially I am going to interview in pajamas and tell him I need to pee. And right about now he might be reading this. Hello. Don't worry--I'm wearing a bra.
And this is where you come in. I'm tired. There is no more hiding. He has my resume. I'm at home with Zoey today and we have plans to make cinnamon streusel. From a box. Bryan is sick. It's raining. Without knowing any specifics, please leave a comment and tell him why I'd be good at the job. Why you read me, why you visit this far-out corner of the www, why me.
Why not?
Happy Friday.
*Image source unknown. Please claim if yours and I will happily credit you.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

One of These Kids is Doing Her Own Thing

My apologies for not writing a real post today, but I am busy this morning slathering my nekkid body with iodine and doing some last minute push-ups.

That's yours truly, second in from the right. If I flex any harder I fear I may fart. See, I have a job interview today, so I must spend the last remaining hours staring in the mirror, admiring my guns. (They don't call me T-Rex Arms for nuthin.') Eye of the tiger, baby, just a woman and her will to survive...
Down for the count, but back tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Once Upon a February 4th: A Mid-Week Fairy Tale

Once upon a time in a faraway land called 1984, there was a girl who liked a boy with knobby matchstick knees and a wide, mischievous smile.
The girl was awkward, as most girls are at twelve, with her hair cut in the shape of a wiry mushroom. The boy asked the girl to go, and even though the girl had no idea where they were going, she said yes. She would go with that boy anywhere.
Here are a few of the places they went together: to the movies, bowling, to the mall where the boy bought the girl the new UB40 tape, Little Baggariddim. (At the time the girl thought Baggariddim must have been a town in Jamaica, maybe a coastal hamlet in England, like Bath. It is only now as the girl-turned-woman types out the name that she realizes, ah, yes, bag of rhythm.) Their song, of course: I Got U Babe.
The boy and the girl went together for one month, an eternity in the topsy-turvy world that is 8th grade romance. The girl-turned-woman remembers this month like a montage of The Wonder Years: the night the boy kissed her outside of a boy-girl party. The girl was taller than he, so she leaned against the wall to scrunch herself down. The deck was wet. When he kissed her she slipped and fell on her ass, her Guess? jeans muddy for the rest of the evening. The time the boy asked her to come over and watch Nightmare on Elm Street. It was during the day but the girl was still surprised to see his parents weren't home. It's okay, he said, and started the clicking and the whirring of the VCR. At some point the boy heard a car in the driveway and turned to the girl. Run! He said, panicked. Out the back door! And the girl, she climbed over the retaining wall and up the back hill, confused and with dirt under her fingernails. Later, it could only have been a week or so, but still, later: the boy and the girl sitting on that same hill above his house, the smell of the warm, dry grass sweet. He kissed her and they lay down. He tried to feel her boob so the girl stood up. Time to go. The next day the girl heard that the boy had told all of his friends that they had flattened out the grass together. She pulled her shirt out in front of her as someone told her, trying to make her boobs disappear. Then she broke up with him and went home and listened to her UB40 tape, "Don't Break My Heart" on repeat.
Fast forward to seventeen. A different awkward. The girl is ready to flatten out the grass. They get back together. And then break up. And then get back together. And then break up. The girl's father tells her that all she has to know in life is 3 things, the order of which is of paramount importance: 1. What You Want To Do, 2. Where You Want To Do It, and 3. With Whom You Want To Do It. The girl knows her father does not mean do it do it, but still, she has already messed up royally. She only knows the answer to one of those questions, and the answer is The Boy, which is, of course, the answer to the last question, and thus not the right order at all. The boy and the girl get back together and break up for a few more years.
Again with the fast foward. Legally the boy and the girl are now a man and a woman, but they still see each other in the warm, sweet glow of a grassy hill. His knees are still knobby, her hair still wiry, although a straightening iron helps with that. They have now been together off and on for 15 years. They live together, buy their first house. All around them their friends have married. Conversation gets awkward at Thanksgiving dinner. The boy does not believe in marriage. The girl agrees, sure, yes, totally, and she pulls the front of her shirt out to hide. Because of course she does believe, but she also does not want to be that girl, the girl who believes in unicorns, the girl who fastidiously follows the Glamour magazine recipe for Engagement Chicken.
One morning in early February the girl is leaving for work. She has PMS, a zit. She is cranky. Bye, I love you, and the boy, he grabs her in the hallway. Let's get married, he says. Fuck you, she says. No really, he says. Fuck you, I'm late for work. She remembers a trip they once took to Costa Rica, how they had stayed at a place called Casa Romantica, how she had slipped on the slick wet tiles during a rainstorm, bending back a toenail. How walking on the beach one day the boy insisted she pick up a certain seashell. She had thought then, this is it! And her heart raced as she bent to flip over the seashell only to find yet more sand, wet and flat, sand and more sand surrounding her bloody toenail. That was not it, but this was: a random Wednesday morning in the hallway with cramps and a fuck you as the answer. Yes, she thinks, this is it. Engaged on a Wednesday, the boy and the girl get married that Friday. For two days she calls him her fiance and giggles, and then: her husband. There is no ring but forever after the boy and the girl carry the switchplate cover from the light in the hallway. It is made of brass, circa 1972, like them.

Friday, February 4th, 2005: The girl wore a dress she bought on sale for $39 at Anthropologie. The boy wore his grandfather's shirt. There is nothing I can say that will truly marry you, the justice of the peace says, it is what you say to each other that unites you. Afterwards, they meet their friends at The Tonga Room to toast themselves with drinks shaded by bright paper umbrellas. They dance.
Better than any Once Upon a Time, the girl feels timeless, the order of things of absolutely no import. Her cheeks hurt from smiling. At the end of it all, as they take halting happy steps down the steep street to catch a cab home, the girl slips on the sidewalk.
That summer they host a huge reception for their family and friends. The girl wears a white dress that is technically a bathing suit cover up simply because it has dingleberries on it and she loves dingleberries; the boy wears shorts. They do not know it, but the girl is two weeks pregnant, and soon this:
Becomes this:
Once Upon a time there was a girl with hair in the shape of a mushroom. She loved a boy with knees like rickets. Theirs is not a fairy tale of tulle and the perfect tick-tock time kept by a metronome, but it is magical all the same, filled as it is with sand, the sweet smell of grass, sun flat on their backs, fuck you, slips and yet more sand stuck in the cracks.
To my husband who is forever The Boy: I still don't know what I want to do but I know I want to do it with you, Happy, Sad and Everything in Between, Ever After. Happy Anniversary.
The Girl

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My Favorite Line: Is This Real Life?

In stark contrast to yesterday's post regarding kids and drugs, I give you this: a child high as a freaking kite. And it's funny as hell. I'm sorry--I don't make the rules. It just is. See for yourself:

Kinda' makes me wish I didn't already have my wisdom teeth taken out, because that was some good times right there.
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Red Line of Yarn Across a Flat Face

O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! That we should, with joy, pleasance, revel, and applause, transform ourselves into beasts.
--William Shakespeare,
The Tempest
I have come to realize that a very real part of motherhood is based on lies. It's okay, sweetie, everything is fine, you are safe, I am here, there are no monsters, have a treat, watch a Dora, sshhhh... and we pat the backs of our children while making promises we cannot keep. Things happen in life that mothers cannot prevent or fix and this, the greatest tragedy of parenting, is matter of fact, indifferent. It simply is.
I am reading a book--Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through his Son's Addiction. I read it at night under the covers with cold hands, much like I read the story of The Patchwork Monkey as a child. Because "Beautiful Boy" scares the fuck out of me, a memoir of an involved father watching his son battle meth addiction. It all seems so arbitrary, a crapshoot, which children survive the dangerous ribbon of adolescence and which do not.
He started toward her, his smile growing wider and thinner until it was a red line of yarn across a flat face. He laughed in a silly falsetto that wasn't Jason's laugh at all. "I'm not fooling," the monkey said.
--The Patchwork Monkey
I come from an illustrious long line of alcoholics and addicts, some highly functioning, some not so much. My father got sober when I was 20ish, but before that my house was full of pot seeds and smoke, bottles of cognac, days and nights without time and full of secrets. My mother, on the other hand, has never been a drinker. When we moved I found a cache of her old calendars, 1975 through 1988. She was meticulous about writing in them: Darryl to vet's, Andy asthma appointment, block party. Sometime in 1977 the entries grew comically topical: Susannah sleepover @ Margaret's, hot tub @ the Swanson's, Quaaludes. Over time, Quaaludes was shortened to 'ludes, and then the hot tub grew cold, and the 'ludes disappeared by 1980. My mother was not cut out for drinking and drugs, prone to keeping time on her calendars by the telephone.
Tomorrow I have an appointment at the DMV. I like writing things down. I have tried my fair share of drinking and drugs but here I am at 36 and I know what I have to do this week. I don't know how or why but my brother and I seem to have escaped addiction relatively unscathed. Based on our family history, we should not have. But here we are; we drink Vitamin Water, eat hot tamales, the few bottles of wine on our countertops bought by our spouses or received as gifts. Mmm, it's got a fruity taste, blackberries, maybe, with a smoky afternote... I let the spoonful of Ben & Jerry's melt on my palette fine.
In high school we had parties at The Ridge, The Meadows, The Shooting Range, word of mouth gatherings of foggy nights huddled around a keg in the middle of nowhere, dark save the red plastic cups and quick puffs of teen breath in the cold. We drove cars fast up winding mountain roads, fast on slick wet curves, fast past deer staring straight into the headlights like a flashback. I saw one boy die right in front of me, the blood dripping from his ear, bloated chest, a car crash quick, a few others I did not see but they died nonetheless. I would creep into my house at curfew and clean the kitchen. This was my chore and I was a good kid. Sometimes my mother would come out to say hello, climb out of her warm bed where she had been reading, and I would talk into the Cascade steam of the dishwasher so she could not smell the wine coolers on my breath.
I will talk to Zoey about drugs. She is not yet three so I don't know yet what I will say, or if it will matter. But I will talk to her about self-medicating, about self-esteem, about birds and bees and budgets and I will tell her to remember to bring a pair of flip flops when she gets a pedicure. I will talk and I will listen and I will pray, but in the end I have to know that she will live or die with or without me, and that is the most terrifying fact of them all. Sshhh, it's okay, I am here, you are fine. I say these things to her, addicted as I am to platitudes, the words a mantra, in some ways meaningless, consonants and the empty vibration of vowels echoing, in other ways quite possibly capable of transformation, if not of purpose, then at least of promise, however true.
*I should probably mention that the boys in that photo are in no way related to me. I just love the pic for the sheer abitrariness of genetics. I imagine they are brothers home for the holidays. Click on image for source.