Monday, August 30, 2010

A Brief History of The Birthday Girl

August 29, 1972: While pregnant with me, my mom's feet swell so much she can only fit into one pair of borrowed suede boots. In August. They stink. She smokes pot to try to bring on labor.
August 30, 1972: It works. I am born at 11:09am.
1973~1985: I grow up in a little house in San Anselmo, California pretending that I am someone else not so much because I don't like who I am but because I am good at pretend. Sometimes I pretend that I am Heidi living with her grandfather on a mountain. Other times I am Penny from The Rescuers. At night sometimes I stand by the street in front of my house and stare into the headlights of cars as they drive up the hill, pretending that I am a deer. I very nearly do not make it to double digits when I try, one day, to swallow a weeble wobble whole.

1985: We move to the top of a very steep hill just as I start high school. This house is twice the size and is a ranch house, the bedrooms split wide apart. There is wall to wall carpeting the color of mushrooms and we never ever use the living room. My freshmen year I fall in love with Kate & Allie. Then a boy named Damon. I watch Mr. Belvedere and The Hogan Family and write everything down in a spiral bound notebook using a very cryptic code involving hearts and something that looks like tears. I become a cheerleader after watching too many John Hughes movies, realizing too late that I am a terrible dancer and don't care about sports.

1986: I go out with a senior because I think I probably should. He has a Honda Accord with burgundy carseat covers stitched with the Playboy logo. He also has terrible skin. One night he tells me he has been saving a bottle of champagne for the night he loses his virginity and would like to one day share the bottle with me. I know I will never drink champagne with him, but I buy him a v-neck sweater from Aca Joe for Christmas anyway.

1987~1989: I do a lot of stupid stuff, most of it courtesy of Bartles & Jaymes.

1989: One day before third period I am sitting on the railing in the hallway when a boy I haven't talked to in years walks by and pushes my shoulder to say hello. I fall. Hard.1990~1992: We break up and get back together for years. Meanwhile, my parents separate. My dad drives down to San Diego where I am living to move me home and we go to Tijuana, I don't know why. Mariachis follow us through the maze of the low-ceilinged market and we buy maracas for my brother. Though I am sure it is not related to the maracas at all, my brother soon stops talking to my dad which lasts for ten years. At some point my parents get restraining orders against each other and then the divorce is final. Forever after I equate Chevy's with heartache and mariachis with the smell of raw chicken.

1993: I don't know how but Bryan and I get back together and it sticks. He applies to Cal Poly so I apply, too, then the universe calls my bluff when I am the only one accepted. So I do it, I move, and on the drive down the radio plays All I Wanna Do over and over and my cat shits in the back seat. I don't know what I wanna do, but the feeling is not new so I mouth the lyrics and wonder what it is exactly about Sheryl Crow's lips that men find so sexy.

1994: Bryan gets in to Cal Poly. We rent a dilapidated old 2 bedroom house together for $400 and cook each other pasta and watch Party of Five.

1997: I start graduate school.

1998: We travel through Europe.

1999: I graduate with a Master's degree and have no clue what to do with it. I get a "real" job doing something I don't want to be doing although it's not terrible so I fall into the sound of the alarm and the way my laundry smells fresh, washing dishes, paying bills, thinking I should probably like Allie McBeal but I don't which makes me feel strong and different. I buy a vacuum cleaner.

2000~2005: We move, and then move again. Buy a house, cook each other more pasta, get married. At some point my family becomes friends again.

2006: For three months I am not able to squeeze my feet into anything but rubber flip flops, and then Zoey is born.

2007: We buy a nicer house. And a car. I start a blog.

2008: I am laid off. We sell our house, then our car. We move. I start doing what I really love. We are poor. Ish.

2009: More ish. Lots of ish.

August 29, 2010: The Summer of No Summer. Foggy, cold, windy. I tell my friends that I just want to go to the beach for my birthday, so we do. They come clad in sweatshirts, jeans, hats, but it is perfect--sunny, clean, not ishish at all. I marvel at how we have all multiplied. The water is warm so we play in it, holding the towel for one another against the bushes when we have to pee. I love my friends. I love my husband, my daughter, my family.
August 30, 2010: Sometimes I still pretend, but this is real. Me (second from the left, plaid shirt). Today I am 38. Happy.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Ladies & gentlemen of the www, we have a winner of The Great Shabby Apple Giveaway! (I fully expect you all to do a little drum roll on your laps right now...)

And the Casablanca dress goes to: commenter #17*, the girL! Congratulations, and I fully expect you to rock that frock in a doorway like the pic. Please email me with your full name, size and mailing address and the ladies at Shabby Apple will send your winnings directly.

On to more marks the beginning of what we informally call The High Holy Days, i.e. the week or weeks surrounding my birthday. The actual day is Monday, but this weekend I will start by getting a pedicure and having a beach party. (If you are wondering what to get me, consider this which I have politely requested for the last six years but have yet to receive. I have a size 6 ring finger, and I will keep asking for this ring until someone slips it onto my cold, dead hand.)

So let's start this party!

*Please note: #17 was completely and utterly chosen by which I would prove to you if only I knew how to do a screen grab which I don't so trust me, kay? (Although the #17 just so happens to be my lifelong lucky number after having won not one, not two, but three cake walks by standing on the #17 square at elementary school Halloween jamborees. I take this to be a very good sign for the upcoming year.) Even finer print: fair & square, if you commented more than once I counted your comments as one.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Very Happy Meal Indeed



Monday, August 23, 2010

Happy Monday Giveaway!

Let's start the week off right, shall we?
Ever heard of Shabby Apple? If not, now you have, so consider your Monday complete and go back to bed now. Wait--not quite yet. Because today I have a very special giveaway of the above darling frock called the Casablanca. If I could enter my own giveaway I would but I can't so you better. This dress is perfect for some swell autumn soiree at which you drink cocktails heavy on the vermouth. Seriously, I'm coveting over here. (And this and this and this, but for today we are only giving away this.) So there. To enter the giveaway simply visit the Shabby Apple website or blog and then leave a comment on this post here (no anonymice, please!). Just think: if you win you can don this number and throw around words like frock and swell and tony. I don't know about you, but I like to dress for a certain vocabulary...

Leave a comment between now and 8pm, 8/26. I will pick a random number and announce the winner on Friday.

Good luck & happy Monday!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

WWFD? (What Would Freud Do?)

Last night I dreamed my breasts were pig snouts. (Now if I were Sharon Olds I would weave this dream into a haunting poem about sexuality, domesticity and the erotic truth of violence. But I am not Sharon Olds, so instead I ducked into a metal bathroom stall a few times at work today to quickly yank my shirt up and pull my bra down to make absolutely certain that I do not have pig nosed nipples.)

In somewhat related news, Zoey has informed me that she is only shy with people who have nipples on their faces. Which I totally get--I would be shy, too, if someone with aureola eyes said hello to me, but I have yet to meet such a person and quite frankly would have no idea where to look. (At their chest?) Anyway, to make a long story short, it turns out Zoey meant to say that she is only shy with people who have pimples on their faces, which sucks for me seeing as how I am broken out. In other words, if a=b and b=c then a=c and I have nipples on my face which totally opens the door to me sporting pig snouts where my breasts should be, no?

Anyway, I have illustrated what this may look like only these are not my boobs. No, mine are far saggier, i.e. my pig noses are busy sniffing out truffles.
Happy Friday (I'll be the one taking Excedrin PM).


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Type (What's Yours?)

I have always loved surfers and their thousand yard stares. The way they drive with their faces turned toward the water, necks chafed from rash guards, lips peeling, hair thick with salt. (Though I have never much liked the seawater draining from their noses as they lean down for a kiss.)

Skater boys are a close second, how they find the edge to every plane. I like the clatter of boards on asphalt, (though I do wish they didn't all have so many scabs).

As you can imagine, I quite enjoyed this video, the art of the tarp just my type. (Though the narrator himself is a bit--hm. I object to the cliched use of "groms" and the nasally sound of his voice.)

Happy Hump Day,

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Gray (What) Matter(s Most)

Reason #417 that I love my husband:Also known as because even after he has been knocked unconscious by the boom on his sailboat and comes home bleeding from one ear with an actual dent on the side of his head and then goes to sleep at night only to have me set the alarm every two hours so that I can ask him who is the president of the United States, and then even after it has been more than 24 hours and I still insist we go to the ER after hearing one too many people mention Natasha Richardson, he lets me take a picture of him on a gurney and gives me this photographic gem when I ask him to look like a head injury patient which makes me laugh until I cry in the hallway of a place that smells like pee and hand sanitizer. That is Reason #417 why I love my husband. (Not to be outdone by Reason #286: apparently the guy has a thick skull.)

Alternate titles for this post: Never Google "Head Injury" At Midnight When Your Husband Is In the Next Room Leaking What Is Either Salt Water Or Gray Matter Onto The Pillowcases Because All That Will Pop Up Are Sites Dedicated To People Who Got Hit In The Head Then Laughed, Talked, Went Bowling For Chrissakes, Only To Complain Of A Headache 3 Days Later And Then Died Of A Subdural Hematoma.

i.e. he had a CAT scan that showed no bleeding on the brain and is now watching 60 Minutes with a hand shoved down his pants.

And how was your weekend?

p.s. I secretly loved it that the ER doctor asked Bryan if the blunt force trauma was due to some sort of assault with a sideways glance at me and my not-even-noodle-but-angel-hair-pasta arms.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The First Rule About Fight Club

Dear Zoey,

This is not one of those vaguely smarmy love letters to you full of sparkle dust and puffy hearts. Nor is it going to be all that funny, though with time maybe I will laugh. But right now nothing is halcyon or golden, magical, nothing glitters, and if anything I think you're being an asshole.
For one, you stopped taking naps. Which is good, I guess, since you start Pre-K in a few weeks and there are no naps in Pre-K (or Fight Club, for that matter). But you suck without naps. When I pick you up from school you are cranky, clumsy. You trip over shadows and cry, whine, snivel, weep. I'm tired! you yell at 5:30pm, but if I put you to bed then the next day will start at 3am. Two hours later it is bedtime, so you scream. I'm not tired! The screech that shriveled a thousand ovaries and crossed as many legs.
Last week a mom friend of mine watched you draw at the table, the quiet of a girl coloring a horse pink. You are so lucky, she said, and I know I am, have been, would be even if you had been born with heartburn and colic and untameable callicks. But you are a gentle child, obedient, my future narc, I like to joke, a good girl who knows how to write her name, the Z never backwards. You get what you can handle, this same mom said later, and she's right, I think, though I am not sure this was a compliment in the least. I could not have handled a difficult child, the kind who slumps screaming in front of the Sour Patch Kids at Target, who runs away when I call her name. Zoey Dimon, I say, and you listen, at least you did until now.
(I do remember once when you were a baby, weeks home from the hospital. You were so tiny, like a Sharpei, and the sounds you made so sharp. I was tired I told myself, tell myself still, and you would not stop with that mewling screaming scrawl over and over, what did you want? Your face screwed up tight and red before you could even produce tears. I hardly knew you so I punched the bed as hard as I could. Just BAM! Like that, a foot from where you lay, both of us new and nothing right.)

Who am I anyway? Mom to a girl who tells on herself, that's who. Lately you cry a lot, stub your toe and wail in a voice that is so Outside I'm surprised to see we are surrounded by walls. What do you want? I ask, what's wrong? Your face mad red, fat tears running down your cheeks. And I feel it, that blunt block wedged in my throat full of hot and fuck and rage. Stop! I say, or Time Out! Shh! Hissed sharp and mean. I'm tired, not used to difficult, and here's the truth of it: I'm the one being an asshole. Not you (though you may want to re-think that whole nap thing). Me. The mom whose girl is good and growing. Because one day we will argue about something else, something more, and you will cry and I still won't know what you want. Are you tired? Are you hungry? Are you hurt? And you won't tell me either because you won't know or you won't want to, because telling me is not your job. Who knows--I will probably cry, too, one of a thousand times that we won't understand each other, using Outside voices for an Inside job. And for this I am sorry, but I promise you now, at 4 without naps, that I can handle this. You. This is who I am: learning to take a deep breath. Whatever walls we build, we are building them together. Because this is our Home, and I am your Mama.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Question (Or Skip to the 2:15 Mark)

Super embarassing self-serving stroke me kind of question:

What are some of your favorite Petunia Face posts? Ones that made you laugh, cry, that became the proverbial part of you? Specifics or vagary, no matter. I need to cite something for the possibility of a maybe someday soon, but of course I cannot give any details at the moment. Just this: pleasepleaseplease, let me know some of your fave posts, pinkie swear I will love you forever.

And because I cannot ask for something without giving in return, here is this:

A slip-slop of a song, but good god can that Sloopy chick wiggle! Seriously, I doubt this is the sort of thing that can be learned, but that's not stopping yours truly from practicing in the mirror without a bra.

Hang on,

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Haul

Did you ever play that game when you were a kid in which each person recites "my grandmother went to London and she brought me back a..." and then the next person goes and adds to the list and so on and so forth until suddenly it's your turn and you have to remember a litany of hats and books and a block of hashish? Or maybe your grandmother went to the market, or it wasn't your grandmother at all, but the game wherein you have to remember a list of seemingly nonsensical things from a time before the internet when we kids would sit on the stoop under the plum tree and play a memory game that I'm not even sure even had a name? Yeah, that. Well, this weekend Zoey's Grandma Glitter a.k.a. my mom took us shopping and we brought back a:
  • Turtle. Or a tortoise, not sure. It's taxidermied and very dead, about 10" long and now resides on a side table in the living room. Zoey picked this out, fell in love with it really, and before I knew it Grandma Glitter had added it to the pile on the counter. (It's a good thing Zoey did not take a liking to the petrified cat corpse in the glass case. Or the mermaid about which I could only identify that it was dead, whatever it was.)
  • Strange children. I have no idea what these were once for (they each have a perforation at the top) but they remind me of a Diane Arbus photo or at the very least those twins in The Shining, i.e. they are awesome.
  • Formal kitten portrait, certainly a Victorian ancestor of our very own Nacho Borracho.
  • Owl ring. Craptastic pic of a fabulous gold number for only 20 bucks. Makes me look like I could knock a bitch out, or wise, or both.
  • Antique baby head vase currently housing a gerbera daisy. On Zoey's nightstand as we speak--sweet dreams!
  • One fox. Life-sized, not taxidermied, already loved.

Not pictured: rhinestone hummingbird pin, tacky heart necklace, 2 Ramona Quimby books, pink nail polish, gold headband and one hair comb. In other words, Zoey's Grandma Glitter went to Haight Street and brought us back a dead turtle, strange children, formal Victorian cat portrait, one owl ring, antique baby head vase, a fox, rhinestone hummingbird pin, a tacky heart necklace, 2 Ramona Quimby books, pink nail polish, a gold headband and one hair comb. Got that?

And for the record--the only item technically for me was the owl ring. But I went home feeling as if I'd been given so much--too much--anyway.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

I Just Re-Read This Post And The Chance May Be Better Than Slight

So I have this idea. And either it's genius or it's racist/classist, plus possibly dangerous and downright immoral. (The best ideas often teeter between such seeming polarities.)

The other day I got stuck at a red light in front of Home Depot, and as I sat there waiting for the light to change, approximately 12 men ran up to my car. Not one to be alarmed by such things, I turned up the radio, because nothing says no thanks like a louder Lady Gaga. Rah rah, ah ah ah, roma roma ma, gaga oh la la. Around the corner there were 20 more guys, another crowd under a thicket of trees, maybe 60 men total. They were everywhere, day laborers wearing baseball caps and work boots in the sun, thumbs hooked through the belt loops on their jeans, waiting. This was at 3pm, and I wondered if these were the guys who didn't get picked that morning for one reason or another. Too slow, too skinny, too little for too many.

How much do they get paid? I asked Bryan when I got home because Google wouldn't tell me in so many words. $10, maybe $15 bucks an hour, he said. Now I am not here to wax Palinthropic on the issue of immigration reform, mainly because I am quite comfortable leaning way to the left while flipping through the latest Us Weekly, but I am all for human rights. And massages. Which is why I wondered why I don't hire one of these guys to give me a massage. Nothing unseemly, mind you. All very above the belt, but a one hour massage for $15? $20 with tip? Who cares that they have (most likely) not graduated from massage school? Or medical school for that matter? Because I also had the idea of hiring a guy once a week as my therapist. Just someone to talk to, nothing prescribed. Me and a day laborer under one of those trees by Home Depot talking about my problems next to the freeway off-ramp like that. $20/hour just for hearing me out.

Other possible uses: someone to make decisions for me (just tell me: yes or no? A thinking person's Magic 8 Ball, outlook not so good), or someone just to hang out with when all my friends are busy but I don't feel like being alone.

Like I said, there is a (slight) chance I might be going to Hell, but you have to know that I realize these men are people. With families, with lives, that maybe there is not enough money in the world to make them go see Step Up in 3D with me, that there is a very real chance they don't want to work out the knots in my shoulders. But in many ways it seems like a win/win. They get paid for their time without having to do any back-breaking labor, and I get a massage that I could almost afford right now.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I don't often post other content verbatim because I fancy myself a writer and want to say it myself, i.e. ego, meet blog. Trouble is, some things can't be said, at least not by me, sometimes not by anyone.

Meet Carly:

My name is Carly Fleischmann and as long as I can remember I’ve been diagnosed with autism.

I am not able to talk out of my mouth, however I have found another way to communicate by spelling on my computer.

Last year a story about my life was shown on ABC news, CNN and CTV here in Canada.

After my story was played I kept on getting lots of emails from moms, dads, kids and people from different countries asking me all sorts of questions about autism. I think people get a lot of their information from so-called experts but I think what happens is that experts can’t give an explanation to certain questions. How can you explain something you have not lived or if you don’t know what it’s like to have it? If a horse is sick, you don’t ask a fish what’s wrong with the horse. You go right to the horse’s mouth.

Yes, this video is long, but if you do anything online today you simply must watch. Amazing, inspirational, mind-blowing. Wait, I said I had no words, didn't I? So just watch. Or check out Carly's blog here. Goddamn, what a smart 13 year old kid.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Under Capitalism Man Exploits Man; Under Socialism the Reverse is True

You know that super annoying song about the Magic Bus and what may or may not be the rising cost of drugs and/or a transportational booty call to a proverbial baby each day? My apologies if you are a fan of Pete Townshend, but honestly that whole I want it, I want it, I want it droning riff at the end grates me every freaking time. Which is why it sucks to be me with this little ditty in my head for the last couple of months. I want it, I want it, I want it (You can't have it). A duet, really, something that Zoey and I have been singing back and forth since she discovered the commercials between cartoons (Zhu Zhu Pets! Silly Bandz! Ariel Barbie that lights up in the bath and ohmygodmomshechangescolors!), plus the plastic blister-packed crap on grocery store end caps and those damn $12 mylar balloons at the checkout. I want it! I want it! I want it! (Possible variation: I want THAT! I want THAT! I want THAT!) Second verse, same as the first.
So I did what any good American Capitalist Mom would do and I told Zoey that she had to earn it. What? All of it. First with Happy Faces on a little chart I made, and then with miniature fake money I bought (from the end cap at the grocery store: this particular dough having been fortified with iron-y).
I explained that every time she does something extra good like clean up her toys or let me cut her nails without running away she will earn one pretend dollar. But every time she whines or doesn't listen to me I will take one pretend dollar away. When she earns ten dollars we will buy whatever is at the top of her list. What can I say? Democracy gives every four year old the right to be her own oppressor.

So far we have not risen above $2, the elementary algorithm of subtraction so much more difficult to swallow than that of addition, i.e. I want it by its very nature difficult to say without whining. A lesson to us all...Meanwhile, Bryan thinks my pretend monetary system is sick, the dollar bills not so much an educational endeavor but a conditioning tool hellbent on raising a bill-thirsty consumer, as if trading in Happy Faces for material goods were any better.

So I ask you (You the People, a democratic vote): is making my daughter actually earn plastic shit teaching her that Gordon Gekko was right, that greed is good, or am I teaching her the value of time, good behavior, a dollar, even if it is pretend?

Before you answer I should tell you: I did give her one fake buck for posing for the above pics, though let's be real--I should've given her $10,000 just for waking up.

Too Much the Magic Bus.