Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Year of Shit and Shiva

Poor 2008. Poor sad, dark, dismal Twilight-riddled, Heath Ledger-dying, Mariah Carey-marrying 2008. If it wasn't for bad news, it wouldn't have had no news at all. For one, 2008's approval ratings are waaaay down. For many, it will go down as the worst year in recent history. Why, most of us gave up on 2008 months ago. We have been holed up in bed waiting, just waiting, for the arbitrary drop of a ball to symbolize a fresh start, hope, a light at the end of the tunnel that has yet to be turned off due to budget cuts.

I was 2008's bitch. Two lay offs, major panic attacks, watching a close friend battle cancer, deleting my blog, losing my savings, my mind. I would very much like to portray 2008 as the one-dimensional villian dressed all in black, but I can't. I won't. That wouldn't be fair to the job I did find (even if I was laid off again 3 months later). It wouldn't be fair to my proverbial bootstraps which are now creased, the leather worn soft with me pulling. It wouldn't be fair to my friend who eventually beat her cancer. It wouldn't be fair to a thousand different small moments of perfection, to Zoey's chiclet teeth laughing, to friends, to family, to chocolate covered pretzels, to Obama, to me, to you. Because there is no such thing as a one-dimensional villian, a boogeyman that exists out of sheer evil. The boogeyman you learn from is the same ugly monster dripping with snot as the one you don't: it's up to you if you actually learn.

Now I am not really a New Years Resolution type of girl. I can count the number of times I've been to a gym on my fingers. But this day needs something, call it what you will. This end, this beginning, this arbitrary countdown to the unknown. And so I say to the Year that Was: fuck you. But most of all, thank you. For teaching me that expendable income, make that any income, is not what life's all about. For teaching me that I am rich in so many different, non-monetary ways. For giving me so much and taking relatively little. Thank you.
Now scram, git outta' here. Kisses at midnight (but don't drink and drive). Cheers to the Year that Will Be!
Peace out,

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Le Popotame sur le Visage de Pétunia

Be still my beating coeur...

Mon dieu. The wisenheimer part of me wants to make some smart ass comment, but I can't. I just can't. Instead I think I will buy a shirt.

Holy Sheet

Alternative titles for this post include (but are not limited to): Sheet Happens. No Sheet, Sherlock. Sheety Sheety, Bang Bang. I could go on all day, (I Sheet You Not).

But I won't. Instead I'll just tell you that these sheets? Oh. The big Oh. I mean, that there is some good fucking sheet.
Of course not this bad UC Santa Barbara frat boy mess of a photo in blue. I mean, WTF is up with the two miniature muffins on the bedside table? And please--do not ever monogram your sheets unless you are a visually impaired drunk who must run your fingertips over your embossed initialed pillowcases each night to make sure that it is indeed your bed. Bed by braille. No, I just mean the microfiber velvety smoothness of these sheets. Usually I don't really endorse products, but these? Jesus H. Christ in a Cal King. My mother got Bryan and me a set of these bad boys for Christmas and they are sheer hot sheet perfection.
It's like this: remember in that Robert Redford flick Jeremiah Johnson when he slits open the horse cadaver--or maybe it's an elk, a bear?--and climbs inside to stay warm for the night? Yeah, like that only you've cut open the plushest teddy bear ever and are sleeping inside its soft warm belly. And there is no blood.
I don't know why they don't just have that in the copy. Or why I have yet to get a full-time job as a catalog copywriter.
*Bryan just read this over my shoulder and says that I am wrong, that Robert Redford never slept inside of a dead horse. He says I am mistaking Jeremiah Johnson for The Empire Strikes Back (not hard to do) and maybe he's right because, to prove his point, he Googled "hans solo saves luke from freezing" and this is what came up:

Score one for the Gipper. I have to believe that this is an action figure reenactment of said scene because I don't remember special fx being that bad before CGI. But still. This is what the sheets are like, being birthed from a very large animal, only soft and not so plastic-y.
**After further research I have found that The Empire Strikes Back creature was called a TaunTaun and was sold with an "open belly rescue feature." I totally think The Company Store should change the name of those sheets from Microfiber Fleece Sheet Set to the TaunTaun Set with Open Belly Rescue Microfiber Fleece Feature! And then the product description on the packaging could read "because sheet happens." Why the fuck am I still unemployed, people??!!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Nietzsche in a Coal Mine

Today I think I will change my name. Yes, from this day forward please refer to me as Esther Ciccone. You may call me Essie for short (but only if you are a dear, dear friend. And it's Miss Jackson if you're nasty).
Because today is Monday, the day after the excuse (formerly known as Jesus' birthday, aka The Day the Earth Stood Still and Nobody Bought Anything). For two months now I've been feeling a bit of a seasonal reprieve. Certainly nobody expected me to find a job during the holidays, right? I mean, bish pls, I would have made a craptastic mall Santa, reeking of antibacterial hand gel, my sack stuffed with wet wipes. But now here I am, my recycling bin crammed with broken down boxes and wrapping paper ripped to shreds. My tree would be dropping its needles if it weren't fake. Today there is no more Christmas to blame. Jesus is still dead and if there are no jobs it's because there really are no jobs. No more, no less, just none. Nietzsche in a coal mine, if you will.
And so today I am working on smoke and mirrors. I am re-working my tired ol' resume, making it over from the desparate, shy girl with the horn-rimmed glasses into the life of the party, the girl wearing the sequined frock and laughing (but not too loudly, never too loudly). From this day forward my resume will be the It Girl of the Unemployed Ball. And me? Oh how I wish I could be Esther. Or Jane. Mandy, Jill, Nan, whatever. Anybody but me. Because in the past two months I have sent my schtick to every Tom, Dick and HireMe in the entire Bay Area only to be met with the sound of crickets. My name is already out there and my glasses have left a lasting mark on the bridge of my nose. I am the shy girl and the party has already smelled my desperation. So yes, part of me wishes I could change my name, tie a red string around my wrist, slap my ass and call me Esther.

At the very least I do get to officially add mad Photoshop skillzzz to my resume. Perhaps I will add the above image to my portfolio. (Hey, it was either this Madonna pic or the one of her hitchhiking naked from her Sex book. I do have some filters. Which I should probably also highlight in my resume. Yes, under Skills: Contrary to popular opinion, does not actually say everything that enters my mind. Vagina, fartlocker, Renee Zellweger. Believe me--what I thought of was eons worse.)
Hire me.

Happy Monday.



Thursday, December 25, 2008

(Here's to You) Raise a Glass to Everyone

"Santa Baby" is my favorite Christmas song of all time. No, that's not true. "Do They Know It's Christmas" is my favorite Christmas song EVER. I have very good memories of listening to it on my Walkman wearing brand new zebra-striped Guess jeans compliments of one very shoulder-padded Santa with a perm. But George Michael, Sting, Bono and Spandea Ballet did not die today, Eartha Kitt did. So this Christmas, I give it up for the chanteuse of "Santa Baby" and her oh-so poetic passing:

And in honor of zebra striped jeans with zippers up each ankle, I give you Band-Aid:

Mistletoe kisses and figgy pudding dreams,

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas the Night Before (the Rest of Your Life)

Merry Christmas Eve. Or, if you don't celebrate Christmas, Happy Hannukah, have a lovely Kwanzaa and/or a bitchin' Wednesday Night. Whatever it is, I wish it to be filled with wonder.

Zoey and the wonder of it all, 2007.

Zoey and the wonder of it all, 2008.
From my home to yours, may your holidays be filled with warmth, love, family and friends.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Neither Sugar Nor Snap Nor Pea

Bad things happen slowly. Like quick sand that really isn't very quick, the La Brea Tar Pits, car accidents even. You feel yourself sucked down into it, thick, stuck in a moment, and time lurches forward as you slowly realize that something is wrong.
I bit into a sugar snap pea once that was filled with maggots. Crunch and movement and then this horrid recognition, a clogged hourglass of realization that what was in my mouth was neither sugar nor snap nor pea.
Last night Zoey and I went to pick up Bryan from the ferry. Usually we wait in the car for him, but last night we got there 20 minutes early so we waited at the dock. Zoey loves to watch the boats on the water, the lights of the city across the bay. She was wearing a new winter hat, so warm and toasty. She stood on the concrete bench and laughed at the waves lapping at the rocks beneath the dock. HA HA! I LAUGHING AT THE SPLISH! It was a fake laugh, full of bravado and two. We were outside alone in the dark crisp night; I did not have to tell her to use her inside voice. HA HA HA! I could see her breath carrying across the water.
What's your name? A voice behind us. It was dark and I turned around and there was a man. I have always heard that the trouble with women is that they don't want to be rude. Zoey, I said. Her name is Zoey. And he came closer. There was no one else around. Zoey, he said. He reeked of cigarettes and beer and had a very round face, that's all I know even though he was inches away. Zoey, and he reached out his hand and cupped my daughter's face, stroking her cheek with his thumb. He smelled. Zoey was silent. The minute was made of molasses. I wrapped my arms around Zoey's legs on the bench and picked her up, but he moved closer and did not take his hand away. Zoey. I did not want to be rude. Hey, I said much too quietly. Zoey had stopped laughing. Splish, a soft splash, the water ceaselessly lapping in the dark. We were alone. I might have said no as I carried Zoey away a few feet in the dark. He stood there a minute or an hour and then floated away himself, buoyed by some unseen current, and smoked a cigarette beneath a tree, watching us in the dark.
Hey. Maybe a no. I hate myself for what I did not do. Nothing happened but everything happened. I stood there and watched Zoey's big eyes grow even larger with the unknown, a dirty fat thumb stroking the pad of cheek just beneath. I am Zoey's mother, her protector, and in that long moment when my mind was playing catch up with the world I did not want to be rude. Don't touch my child, is what I should have said. Step the fuck away. I should have screamed, but for what? Maybe he was harmless, maybe he missed his own kids somewhere, I will never know. But I am not the mother of maybe and drunk men and what was in the air last night was neither sugar nor snap nor pea. It was so cold that I could see her breath and I didn't do enough to stop what thankfully did not happen.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Petunia Face's Holiday 2008(Last Minute) Gift Guide: Because What Is Christmas Without the Absurd?

If you are reading this then please accept my heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS! You have made it to the other side. Because while the calendar now says it is winter and I am sitting here in my kitchen typing this post with fingers stiff from the cold, from here on out the days are only getting longer. Therefore, I have taken it upon myself to make today the official start of Things Are Now Getting Better-Olstice (TANGBO for short). The economy got you down? Feeling lonely this holiday season? No money, no man, no heat? No problem! It's TANGBO! And what better way to celebrate TANGBO than with an official Petunia Face Holiday 2008 (Last Minute) Gift Guide? Semi-Colon: Because What Is Christmas Without the Absurd? Ladies and gentlemen, elves and people who are just short for no reason, here we go:
First off we have a festive holiday TANGBO card from I love it when a card says everything I've always wanted to say and all I have to do is sign my name.

I've been thinking about making it a tradition to give Zoey a cozy pair of pjs every Christmas eve, hence next up we have traditional pajamas for the kidlets in your life: Armor of God PJs. Makes me feel like a heathen as the jammies I bought my daughter feature pink polka-dots and not, say, satin crosses touting Chastity and Salvation. Oh well Ephesians 6:10-18, there's always next year!

I also seem to have missed the boat on this one, a kids tattoo parlor. Never fear, Child Protective Services. I did manage to get her the sanitized body piercing kit, Prince Albert Special Holiday Edition.

This I just want for my very own. Seriously. Come on, TANGBO, kick it down! A knit dissection frog. Now why didn't I think of that?

And here, for that person in your life that you resent having to buy presents for (hey, we've all got one). Crugly is the new fugly with these hybridized Croc/Uggs. When you care enough to give WTF.
Oh dear. From crugs it's just a slippery slope to this next item: the Artificial Virginity Hymen. And no, I'm not making this shit up. Although if you don the boots above something tells me you won't ever need the faux hymen.

Now personally I want a job for Christmas, you know, for the paycheck, benefits and general rise in self-esteem, but also so I can sport these eyelid stickers while sleeping on the job. Genius! Because that's totally what my eyes look like while staring at spreadsheets all day. Creep-to-the-mother-effin'-y.

Okay, that's all I've got for now. Don't you wish you were on my gift list? Yeah, me, too. So Happy TANGBO peoples of the www. And if that's not enough to make you feel feliz this holiday season, I leave you with this:

Ho ho ho!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Whiskers On Kittens (On a Friday Afternoon)

I'm pretty sure that if you don't like whiskers on kittens you are dead. Or should be. Which is not to say that I condone The Sound of Music. Truth be told, I despise musicals. But here is a list of things I adore, just because it's Friday.
1. The Peanuts Gang dancing, particularly the girl in the pink dress. How can you not?

2. This sentiment (and knowing that despite it all? It's so very, very true).

3. The Beckoning of Lovely that I saw via Richie Design last week. Broke my heart with its simplicity, a video that pretty much echoes the above sentiment. Must watch if you are in a funk.

4. Real-life glass Cinderella slippers, even if fairy tales are unwearable.

5. This. Knowing that in Bryan and Zoey, I already have my happy ending (and today is just the beginning).
Happy Friday!


Recognize this crotch?
Why, yes! That's me! And yeah, sure, that's my petunia faced girl, Zoey, in the stroller. But before you ask: no, my crotch is not for sale. Nor is Zoey or even the baby there on the bottom left. However, you can buy the diaper pad. You can and you should and you will. Why? Because my über-talented designer friend Ana started Cucuyo based on her own needs as a mother, and because the products rock. And because I said so. Plus, if you enter the code JOY at checkout between now and January 31, 2009 you'll receive 20% off. And because Cucuyo is fun to say. That there is a lot of reasons. Now go, skedaddle. Cucuyo.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Road to Moradabad

I have been thinking a lot lately about relative misery. Poverty, pain. 'Tis the Season, tra la la, my apologies but I just have to get this out. Everyone I know is in some sort of funk. And yet everyone I know is also lucky in a thousand different prismatic ways: I know it and they know it. And yet here we are, afraid or nervous or lonely, whatever, our minds ricocheting between what we have and what we don't, what we want and what we need, what we see and what we ignore.
Two years ago I went around the world in eight days: Hong Kong, China, Thailand, India, Germany and then home. It was a work trip but I had the pleasure of going with two colleagues that just so happened to be friends. And if we weren't friends to begin with then surely we would have been after those travels.

There is a lot about that trip that I only remember if I really think about it. The sharp sweet of a mangosteen. $18 cocktails in Hong Kong. Haggling over fake bags in China, and how the leather later dripped red dye in the rain. But what I will never forget is India, how the beauty of that country seemed to be so inextricably tangled with the pain.

These women were on a pilgrimage to the Ganges to bathe in the river for some sort of holy day. We saw them while driving from Delhi to Moradabad, a trip that should've taken 2.5 hours but instead took almost ten because of the holy festival among other Indian foibles. Our Indian agent, Anuj, called the day auspicious, a word that I have never really heard used here. I wonder why.

We were miserable in that car, hot and muggy and clausterphobic. Outside the car it rained, at times spitting, other times a torrential downpour. For countless hours we got stuck behind a truck jammed full of wet people while one woman leaned over the tailgate and vomited continuously. We were homesick and afraid to eat the food on the side of the road.

But the people--the women were stunning in their pink and saffron saris, the men with their dark eyes, the families piled onto one scooter holding babies and grandparents as if they were simply bundles of cloth. And even when the trucks were driving straight at us with no intent of moving out of our way, we could not help but notice how pretty they were--big industrial toxic-breathed monsters decorated like marzipan princess cakes.
At some point during the trip a beggar came to my window. I was sitting in the front seat because I felt nauseated. From the back seat Anuj told me not to open my window under any circumstances. So we stared straight ahead at the rain and listened to the strange music from the next car over. The beggar began to rap on my window, and when I turned my head I noticed that he was rapping the glass with the stub of an amputated arm. Bap bap bap, a dull thud, bap bap bap. I couldn't look away and for what seemed like forever we stared at each other, two accidents of birth through the looking glass. They cut off their own limbs to make more money begging, Anuj said. Sometimes it's their legs, sometimes it's their arms. Don't open your window. And I didn't. But I couldn't look away. How can you look at him? my friend asked from the backseat. I feel so bad, I can't even look up, she mumbled from behind her hands. But I felt so bad I couldn't look away.
In India the oldest caste rim their children's eyes with kohl, both to strengthen the child's eyesight and to ward off the evil eye, to prevent the child from being cursed. I wonder which was worse: looking away from the beggar, or looking him straight in the eye? Which is more respectful behind a closed window in the rain? Or maybe it doesn't matter since neither option would have helped anyway. What we see and what we ignore. I wonder if that beggar is lucky in some ways--it's hard to imagine--and if so, how.
What would you have done? What do you do when you walk by a homeless person? Look at them, or away?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Face Hole

I always forget to say shut your pie hole. Or shut your cake hole, I'm undecided which is the better bakery hole. Of course it's not really nice to say either one, to tell anyone to shut any hole really. And now I have just discovered Face Hole, which is quickly becoming my go-to hole, at least in my head where I can often be found telling people to shut it. Shut your face hole! I've written hole so many times now that something seems amiss.

Anyhole... oh, but how I digress. If, like me, you're looking for ways to cut costs this Christmas season may I suggest Face Hole? Officially known as FaceinHole, this site is like those cardboard cutouts you see at tourist spots and boardwalks, except you don't have to pay $20 to look like Don Johnson wearing a white blazer in Miami Vice. Nor do you have to feel like an ass as you pose behind Crocket and Tubbs while onlookers walk by and snicker behind their churros. No, this site lets you be an ass in your own home! (Unfortunately, churros not included.)

I am actually going so far as to not even print these out to send them to friends and family. Because this Holiday season it's email all the way! www.hohoho... I figure not only does it save me some cash, but it also saves a few trees, right? (I'm not cheap, just environmentally friendly.)

So consider this my Christmas card to you. Now go have some fun with your own Face Hole.
Seasons Greetings!
With Love,
The Petunia Faced Family

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oh Yeah, And on a Tuesday Afternoon

No time for a real post today as I will be lounging here singing "Michael Row Your Boat Ashore" and licking Marshmallow Fluff from my fingertips.

Don't worry--I will make sure to sit on a clean towel because Lord knows what lives in the nap of that fur. Do check out the Silver Fox, though. Imagine the stories he can tell!
(In all truth Zoey and I are going to the library for storytime. And then home for a nap and cookies. Doesn't mean a girl can't dream.)
Image from here: Actor Curt Jurgens (2R) w. wife (2L) and two female companions lathering up in a bathtub he had built in his den. 1972. Otherwise known as the year I was born.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Suspicious Beef

A few weeks ago I was in a crowded elevator when somebody farted. I didn't hear it--nobody did. But the stench, oh. It was bad. And the thing about elevators is, of course, the Universal Rule of the Lift (see "ascending room" circa 1823, London): you do not ever make eye contact or acknowledge the fact that you are smushed ass to crotch with complete strangers. You do not tell the lady in front of you that gee, her hair smells terrific as strands of it stick to your lip gloss. Nor do you ever comment on farts even though there you are stuck in a hermetically sealed box smelling the inside of a stanger's colon. Of course every ounce of my being wanted to be all dude, who farted? just so people would know it wasn't me. (It wasn't, I swear. I'd tell you if it had been.) But the suspicious beef went unclaimed.

Of course now we are not in an elevator, we are on my blog and I can say this: DUDE, WHO FARTED? Because I have come to realize that mean anonymous comments are like an unclaimed fart in a crowded room. Yes, I've had all weekend and that is what I've come up with. An unclaimed fart in a crowded room. Wait for the imagery and you will see. Wait for it, wait for it, inhale, inhale-- yeah.

Lately I've received a handful of mean anonymous comments. Part of me says not to call attention to it but another part of me just wants to address the stench and air it out. Here is the thing: I am not for everyone. Nobody is. This is not news. Personally I cannot stand the artwork of Thomas Kinkade but I would never go to his website to tell him to cut out all that Painter of Light shit. He's doing his thing and I respect that. It doesn't mean I have to like bucolic cottages and candlelight.
It amazes me what people will say under the cloak of anonymity, how casually they will criticize and call you out. Some might argue that in writing a public blog I have inherently opened myself up to criticism. But the thing is I have little to no control over the world at large. Someone might flip me off in traffic for nothing and I can't change that. Conflict abounds. But this blog is my little space I have carved out for myself, the surreal estate of my mind full of rollicking pastures, words, ideas and beautiful, smart people. I can build a fence if I want. I can keep out the riff-raff. Yes, there is a guest list. And yes, you are on it. If.
Some might also argue that I only want people who will kiss my ass and compliment me. That is simply not true. I welcome anyone who respects me. I listen to criticism that is constructive. But if you are simply calling me names and questioning my character, well--I reserve that for the people in my life who actually know my true character, not just the caricature of my blog.
So there. I have changed my comments settings to moderated and I am holding a can of Febreze. Please come to my party, read my blog, eat the onion dip--it's to die for! Sure it might give you a little gas. Everybody farts. But if you do, just let me know. I'll stand there with you in the stench of your colon as long as you respect me enough to tell me. Let's hold hands, smile, together we can all enjoy the ride.
*Suspicious Beef is the name that Bryan and I have given our band should we decide to ever start one. I play a mean rendition of Pachelbel's Canon in D and Cyndi Lauper's Time after Time on the piano and Bryan can do The Running Man real good, so watch out! Suspicious Beef World Tour 2009! Dates to be Announced Soon!
**Gah! How could I forget! Come visit me over at The Lil Bee today where I am guest posting as part of her genius Bee's Economic Stimulus Package! No talk of mean comments there! Just pastel rainbows and unicorns, puffy paint and pink! Come on by!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Yes, Virginia

There is a Santa Claus and she (yes, SHE) has a tummy like a bowl full of Cheer--ee--oh--eeoh's.
A job? A pony? Come sit on her lap and tell Santa what you want for Christmas. Ho Ho Ho and a bottle of rum, or something like that.
Happy Friday,
With Love from Susannah and Zoey

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Small Sky Country

We live in deer country. I think I just made that up, by the way: deer country. I like the way it sounds, as if we borrow sugar from Big Sky country when we are baking or, better yet, making jam. The truth is I buy my jam from the supermarket and the county in which I live is just a bunch of houses teetering on hillsides or nestled in valleys like red-capped mushrooms. We are squatting on this land that once belonged to the deer in a way that one could never squat on the Big Sky.

This past summer Bryan cleared out a thicket of brush from the front of our house to plant some palm trees and agave. I don't think either one of us knew what a big undertaking it would be. Halfway through the project we ran out of money, so now there is a flat bald spot flanking our driveway dotted with a few yellowing Mexican Fan Palms. We soon found out that the brush had been home to a gaggle of neighborhood deer. Or a flock. A den, a family, however deer congregate, the thicket had been their home. In the mornings now we come out to find them clustered together sleeping on our flax bushes, exposed and covered with dew. And every morning Bryan runs at them waving his arms and stomping his feet, hissing SPSSSSSPSS! He hates the deer. They ate our Potato Vine, he says when I argue for their cuteness. The deer rise slowly, turn to look at Bryan as if to say don't be such a dick, and then they clatter down the driveway, I don't know where to.

Yesterday I sat at our kitchen table writing and looking for jobs that don't exist when suddenly I heard what sounded like a high-heeled supermodel clatter up the stairs to our deck. I looked out the window and there it was, a deer. Who knew they could climb up such a steep staircase? I thought maybe it was like those slats you see at the end of farm roads: the cows are afraid to walk over them and so the slats act as an invisible fence. But there it was, a deer on my deck, slowly sniffing at echeveria and ice plants as if sliding a tray down the counter at Fresh Choice. In my youth my parents sent me to an environmental hippie camp where I learned how to pull apart owl scat to find mouse bones, a skill I have not yet had to employ in my day to day existence, but at that camp I also learned how to sneak up on deer. Apparently deer have terrible eyesight and really only see movement, so I tiptoed up to the plate glass window, stopping only when the deer turned its big eyes on me. Freeze, both of us not daring to breathe. Audrey Hepburn had a deer as a pet. She brought him to the grocery store and called him Pippin. I tiptoed back to my kitchen to get a head of lettuce--surely that would be tastier than an ice plant. I envisioned nights spent in front of the fireplace, brushing my deer's coat, a montage of images of the deer nuzzling my neck which inexplicably included a young Robert Redford, but when I turned back around, the deer was gone.
Palm trees don't belong in deer country, and I am sorry for clearing their home. I think about what the coming months will bring to my family. Oh, I know we won't be spending the night huddled together on top of a flax bush, but still. I am just really sorry.

Top image: Sharon Montrose
Second image: Rupert, RIP
Third image: here
Last image: my deck

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

When I Grow Up

I'm not sure why I am not yet famous. Or at least invited to more parties. As a child I aspired to be an international bon vivant who wore bright red lipstick and tossed her head back with a signature laugh. Though I now know how to pronounce bon vivant the truth is I look like a clown in lipstick and no matter how many glittery, popsicle red glosses I buy I always seem to fall back on cherry flavored Chapstick, hardly lips worthy of crossing international waters.
I wrote my first book at the age of six. Titled "There's No Land Like Maryland," it was the tale of two male ghosts who lived together. In hindsight, they might have been lovers, influenced by the brightly colored capers of Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street. But mainly the book was my own way of working out any disbelief I had that there was an actual state called Maryland. I don't know why this fascinated me so. In my memory, the book was an opus, hundreds of pages the result of me swinging my legs from the kitchen table, writing. In reality it was probably no more than five pages, the result of an afternoon waiting for my mother to get off the phone. The original manuscript has never been found.
Later I wanted to be a runner. My dad was a runner which meant he changed into his silky 70's shorts in the afternoon, tucked his hair beneath a red bandana and disappeared for an hour or so. Carefully I drew a picture of my own sneakers, the ones with the rainbow stripes on the side, and I wrote above it "Susannah Clay Jenkins, Runner," and I hung the sign on my bedroom door next to the ceramic plaque that read "Penny," a remnant of my infatuation with "The Rescuers." I had never run anywhere without fair warning but I thought it sounded like an interesting enough job though I never was sure of the pay scale.
In high school I witnessed the rise of The Supermodel, though I was far too pragmatic to think I could ever do that. Instead I watched Cindy Crawford on "House of Style" every day after class and sketched bad Nagel knock-offs, girls with pouting lips and piercing cocaine-addled eyes. I was going to move to New York and be a fashion designer. I practiced my signature and mouthed the words to George Michael's "Freedom" while driving my Volkwagen Cabriolet, something I am sure a young Isaac Mizrahi did in whatever corn-fed state he grew up in.

I am not sure why it is that by this time in my life David Letterman has not had me on his show. At least for stupid pet tricks. You'd think that I'd have been able to get Nacho to fetch me my slippers by now, but no. My feet are still cold. I have never lived in a foreign country. I speak French poorly and only when drunk. The strangest thing I have ever eaten were turkey nuts, though they were so deep fried that for all I know I was eating deep fried lint from behind the ice machine in the restaurant kitchen. My life, as of now, is ordinary.
Some say that there is no such thing as success or failure, there is just living your life. I am not so sure. I would argue that success is finding the glamour in your life regardless of what you're doing: watching Zoey ring her lips 1001 times over with my cherry flavored Chapstick, tossing my head back and laughing when she does, running because I have rainbows on my feet.
I have never told anyone this last story because I was afraid I would get in trouble, but when I was around eight years old Jason Doolen told me I could not fit a hard boiled egg in my mouth and so I went home intent on proving him wrong. We were out of eggs so I placed a Weeble Wobble in my mouth and swallowed. I gagged. For a full minute I could not breathe and I sank to my knees saddened by the knowledge that my mother would find me dead by Weeble Wobble. But somehow it finally worked its way down my throat and I felt vindicated. See! See Jason Doolen! I can swallow an egg whole! And to this day I still have that Weeble Wobble in my stomach because I don't remember it coming out, surely I would have noticed. I think of this sometimes, the Weeble Wobble and where it went, what it's doing in there, trying to remember which character I swallowed. Was it the postman? The cowboy? A baby? And is it true that it never ever, not even once, falls down?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How He Met My Mother: My Birthright a Long Silver Scar. Alt. Title: Give Us Your Worst.

In my continued quest to persuade family members to post for me so that I can try to write my book I bring you another snippet from my father. What he does not mention in this excerpt but I will squeal is this: he shot himself in the leg when he was in his early 20's, practicing his quick draw out of a holster, drunk. This is how he met my mother. She was a hot young nursing student and I was but a twinkle in my dad's dilated morphine-stoned eye.

I feel your pain.
Not really.
The bullet traveled down my thigh, severed the femoral artery and lodged behind my knee. There was no pain that I can remember and bleeding to death was really quite peaceful …. until they saved my life at the hospital. …. Hours later, they took out the .45 caliber bullet …. So, what’s the problem? …. No big deal …. No pain and PLENTY of morphine …. until plenty was NOT ENOUGH as a red dragon of pain moved in.
The bullet had created a channel from my upper thigh to the back of my knee. The surgeon, a sweetly sinister Peter Lorrie, did not want the wound to scab over creating the opportunity for infection and rot from the inside. He wanted the wound to heal from the inside out. Therein lies a metaphor, I suppose.
Every other day, Peter Lorrie would open the wound on my thigh. Attaching a cotton swabbed with ointment on the end of a long steel rod, Peter Lorrie would run the steel rod and swab down the channel inside my thigh to the back of my knee. …. For a fact, this caught my complete and undivided attention. An electric searing, white-out explosion of pain collapsing The Universe and imploding The Self into NOTHING BUT PAIN. In my personal pantheon of hellacious physical hurt, I give it a 9, easy.
Okay, I know or so I hear from mothers, “You want pain, Bubba? Try having a baby.” No question about it. I can’t know, although I think we might agree that your pain is your pain, your very own that no-one can measure or feel for you.
So, what else you got. Share the pain. One of your top 10 physical hurts. Emotional pain? Oye- yoi-yoi, way too large and deep. I’m afraid to go near. Not now. Sometime later maybe.

Monday, December 8, 2008

For the Hardcore Zoey Fans: The Wonder of Christmas Edition

Warning: this video does not really have a point. In it, Zoey does not do anything particularly noteworthy, nor do I. The truth is, Zoey and I are exceedingly busy today getting flu shots and then cuddling on the couch. We plan to make brownies and dance. A very long nap is on the docket. I don't have time to write a real post. And this video from last night? Well it was the first time this season I have felt the Christmas magic. Zoey, however, feels it no matter the economic climate, no matter the time of year. The beauty of being 2.

Happy Monday.

Music heard in the background provided by Enzo Garcia, Zoey's very own Davey Jones of a crush and the best kid's music we have found. It doesn't hurt that we see him live every week.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Zoey kneads the skin on the back of my hand when she is sleepy, scared, clingy. Grabs a pinch of me and rolls it between her fingers slowly as if thinking something over. Sometimes it is my neck, the gobble, the wobble, and I worry that in loving me she will pull my body into the loose coat of a Shar-Pei.

She has done this since she was a tiny baby. Before she could even articulate her fingers, curled in my arms one baby fist would spastically reach up and grab hold of me, paper-thin moons of baby nail folding from the weight of my skin. Mama? I want your hand she now says to me each morning as we cuddle in my bed. Her nails are strong and sharp. I rearrange myself to drape one hand over her chest where she plucks at it in a fugue state of awakening. My shoulder begins to ache, falls asleep, my neck cricked and stiff. Pluck, pull, pinch. My hands, my neck, my skin, my heart is hers.
Six years ago my mother had a heart attack. In the hospital my brother and I stood over her bed like actors, neither of us having memorized our lines. My mother had always been the strong one, pulling the splinters from our fingers like a magician, a nurse who did not believe in doctors. In the hospital bed she looked so small, just a shallow lump of thin cotton. Dust. A magician robbed of her magic. The nurses hurried in to dose her up with something and left us to wait for it to take effect. My mother looked up at me. If I die, she said, I want you to play Major Tom by David Bowie at my funeral. God mom, stop, I said. You're not going to die. Don't say that. But she grabbed my hand and started singing. This is Major Tom to ground control, I'm stepping through the door... and I'm floating in a most peculiar waaaaay... She held my hand as she sang. I felt the thin bones of her fingers, rolled them between my own methodically until the nurses came to wheel her away, still singing. She had angioplasty; the doctors inserted her coronary arteries with stents to keep her blood flowing, to keep her heart beating. To keep us all going.
Sometimes I close my eyes when Zoey is pinching my hand and try to imagine her as an adult. Will she still pull at my skin? Will we hold hands? Will I sing to her, or she to me?
Though I’m past one hundred thousand miles
I’m feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Ground Control to Major Tom
Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear....

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Great, Now I'm Craving Pulled Pork

I lost.
Of course technically you cannot really lose something you never really had in the first place, but still. I feel like a loser. I did not get the job. They want somebody with more design experience. They want somebody more. And so here I sit, less, still at the craps table playing the game. And yes I know this image is of roulette but craps fits. Crap happens.
To save both you and me from myself today (note to self: do! not! wallow!), I am going to write about myself. (Ha! Gotcha!) Last week the most awesomest Jennifer from The Most Awesomest Stuff Ever tagged me and so here I am, ready to play this game:
10 years ago: I was surrounded by books, papers and the stiff manila-yellow smell of the library. I was studying for my Masters exam and very, very happy. I felt smart and strong.
8 years ago: I was working as an Assistant Buyer and playing at being an adult. I felt small and scared. On the weekends Bryan would take me sailing and I would throw up vast quantities of Froot Loops into the Bay waters.
6 years ago: Another job, another company, this time with good friends. Every day we would eat lunch together and talk fast and dirty. I laughed a lot. Bryan and I moved to the city.
2 years ago: I was eight months into the tightrope balancing Zoey and Bryan, friends, free time, work and bills. Everything had shifted but I had not yet realized that it is best to tiptoe barefoot lest you fall and drop your basket.
Five yummy things:
1. nutella
2. insalate caprese
3. A pulled pork sandwich and hush puppies washed down with Cheerwine from Little Pigs Barbecue in Statesville, NC. I have not been there for maybe 15 years but I have been chasing that sweet childhood memory dragon ever since.
4. toasted bread with goat cheese, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with thyme.
5. chocolate covered pretzels
Five songs I know by heart:
1. My adidas by Run DMC
2. Theme song to The Patty Duke show
3. Sweet Child of Mine, G&R
4. I Got U Babe, UB40
5. Oh Susannah, by everyone who has ever stuck their hand out to shake mine
Five places I would like to escape to:
1. Mykonos, Greece
2. Florence, Italy
3. Malpais, Costa Rica
4. Hossegar, France
5. the space between our faces when Zoey gives me a kiss with her tiny rosebud mouth
Five things I would never wear:
1. acid wash
2. pleats
3. stirrup pants
4. shoulder pads
5. Disney apparel
Five favorite tv shows:
2. The Hills
3. Weeds
4. Californication
5. insert newest cheesy reality show here just so long as it lowers my IQ with each episode
Five things I enjoy doing:
1. Hanging out with girlfriends, just chatting about everything and nothing
2. Playing plouf on our bed with Zoey
3. reading
4. cuddling with Bryan
5. impossibly long, warm sunny days at the beach with a bag of chips and my family
Five favorite toys:
1. This here blog
2. The little magnetic doodle thing that I gave Zoey
3. The internet at large
4. swimming pools
5. humor of any kind
Five people who I am tagging to fill this out:
1. not to be
2. a butt
3. but
4. I am tagging
5. YOU
Quick update: I just saw on my site reader that somebody from Disney reads my blog. If this is true then my apologies for saying I would never wear Disney apparel. If you want to offer me a job and maybe I can work from home from 10am-2pm, 4 days a week and get paid $100k/year with benefits, then I will dress head to toe in Disney duds. I will even tattoo the Tazmanian Devil on my bicep for a signing bonus. Unless, of course, the Tazmanian Devil is a Looney Tunes character, in which case I would consider Pluto but not Goofy. Get back to me on that. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Petunia Face Tutorial 1.0: How to Use the Blur Tool

You know that dream where you suddenly realize you have to take a math final but you've never even gone to the class? And you look down at the test, a mess of lines and squiggles intersected with numbers and letters where letters have no business being? And then you notice that not only do you not know any of the answers or even how to start but you're in a classroom of 30 other students who each have two sharpened #2 pencils while the nib of your pencil is a halo of ragged wood? And then you look down and see that you are sitting in a small metal school desk completely buck ass naked?
Yeah, that one. Well for the past week I have been living that dream, if you will. Please, let me to explain.
I am an asshole. First and foremost, that is important to understand. And I am feeling desperate. That is also important. The rest of the story is simply detail: I found a job I really want. The recruiter called me. He asked me questions. I answered yes. I smiled even though we were on the phone because apparently you can hear a smile and a smile sounds confident. Yes, I smiled maybe baring my teeth a bit too much. And then yes again. Smiled, nodded my head, yes, sure, uh-huh. And maybe in the course of that questioning I maybe kinda' sorta' said yes to a few questions to which I should have said no. Like yes, sure, of course I know Photoshop. Yes, Illustrator and I! Why, we go waaaay back! And I smiled with my eyes and said yes some more. Yes, I will come in for an interview. Yes, I know where that is! Tuesday, you say? Yes, sure, Tuesday is fine. And then the perfectly nice recruiter said yes back to me. Yes, great, I'm excited to meet you, yes sure, 9am for the interview. And then we'll give you a test on Illustrator and Photoshop.
No. Oh no.
And that is when I looked down and realized that maybe it's true that you can hear a smile through the phone but apparently you cannot hear nudity and lies, a woman with un-brushed teeth standing naked next to her un-made bed at noon on a Wednesday morning.
Because I don't know Photoshop and Illustrator.

I got off the phone and stared into my closet. I am such an asshole. Seriously. What nitwit lies about her skills and then is handed a test? Me, that's who. I had not made my bed but still I would have to lie in it. Or is it lay? I can never quite remember, but the point is: I was fucked.
And here is where the details get even fuzzier. I tried to teach the programs to myself. I cried. Bryan tried to teach me. He cried. Then it was Thanksgiving and across these great United States turkeys everywhere cried. On Friday I finally called the first listing I found on Craigslist for a computer tutor. I told him that I had to learn Photoshop and Illustrator in two days for a test for a job for which I am apparently unqualified. And then he cried. It might have been for me, maybe, I don't know, but he cried.
I had my interview and test today. I went into it with the simple hope that I wouldn't make a complete fool of myself. That the recruiter wouldn't kick me out, hucking a red Sharpie at my back as I scampered away sniveling. But here's the thing: I did okay. Better than okay even. I scored a 66 out of 70. When the recruiter showed me my test results I started laughing. In hindsight perhaps this was not the preferred reaction, but there you go. I did it.
Will I get this job? I'd be surprised if I do, but then again--life seems to be full of surprises. As for now, well, I'm taking off my clothes now and getting back in bed to nap while visions of vectors dance in my head.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Deep Thoughts by Zoey Dimon

For all those that are having a hard time right now--with the economy, with the dark days of winter, with opening a jar of peanut butter, here is Zoey singing a DJ Lance Rock cover of the oh-so catchy tune, "Keep Trying." Out of the mouths of babes (and slightly creepy Nickelodean hipster children's programming).

With love on a Monday morning,