Thursday, January 28, 2010

Eye Spy With My Little I

I read my friend’s diary once in the 10th grade. It was all very scintillating stuff about boys and their pienises (because that is how she spelled it) until I got to a picture she had drawn of me one night after the boy she liked asked me to dance to “Take My Breath Away” at Homecoming. The drawing was more of a caricature really, and although she was not an artist of any sort she did a bang-up job on my eyebrows seeing as how they stretched from one side of the page to the other and then met in the middle, BFF’s and all. To be fair, it was 1987.
I have since learned not to snoop because honestly—it’s disappointing unless you find something, but when you do it’s as if you are forced to swallow the knowledge of whatever it is right then and there. (To this day I still carry the image of my eyebrows thick and deep in my tummy.) So I love it when given permission to snoop, to read a diary or open a bedside table drawer. Which is why I adore Amber’s newest feature titled Spill It, in which bloggers are asked to open their purses and do some essplainin'… Please click on over to Daisy Chain today see what I carry on my person.

Full disclosure: Amber is my friend and I’ve known her since high school, but I never read her diary and to my knowledge she has never drawn a picture of my eyebrows. And I don't know why but something tells me she knows how to spell "penis."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Andy Honey Big Boy (Oh, Yes I Did)

I grew up certain I had a twin somewhere, thought she had been lost, discarded, logic not so much an issue at five. What's your name? adults would ask, and I'd answer Penny or Heidi depending on how recently I had watched Shirley Temple living with her grandpa on top of that black and white mountain. (Strangely enough my twin had no name or names, but I was fairly postive she wore red yarn in her hair like I did and thought Penelope Pitstop the bomb.) My brother was always telling me our parents had found me in a gutter; I am not sure why it never occurred to me that I might be the other side lost in my make believe world where somewhere there was someone just like me.

I was born a sibling. It's a girl!daughter!sister!Susannah! I still have my birth announcement, into the world second born a done deal. In my family, there are three names for boys that are passed down and roman numeralled: Andrews Dimon (my brother, my uncle, my great-uncle), Henry Edgar (my dad, my cousin, my grandfather), and Farish Allston (my uncle, my great-uncle and then some). All of them oil paintings with eyes that follow a room.

There are no names passed down for the girls.

And so it was that I was named after the doctor who delivered me, Dr. Clay whose mother's name was Susannah. They thought it was pretty: Susannah Clay. (At first my name was Amanda, but my parents thought it was too rhyme-y sing-song with Andy. Andy & Mandy, and so I became Susannah without eyes that followed, but dictated by roman numerals just the same, another song entirely.)

As the youngest I have no memory of a time before Andy, born as I was to a mom and a dad and a brother. It trips me out as the youngest/egomaniac/blogger to think of the family before me. Yet as the mother of one considering two I know it is not only possible but very real. Bryan, Zoey and me. We are a family, and maybe, just maybe we will have another one, but if not? That's fine, too, our family not a before but an is.

How can this be when I, myself, am an after?

My brother says he does not have any memories of before I was born. Because I asked. Because I do that. Because I am the baby... when you asked me to write my memories of when you were born, I had to really think about what was truly my memory versus the memory of a memory, the memory of a photo album, the memory of cute stories...

The result was anemic.

I only have one memory that is 100% mine.

I have no true memory of Mom being pregnant. No memory of a pending you.

What I do remember is waking up in my room in our home in San Francisco.

My room had bay windows. The last room to the right. Down a short hallway.

Across the hall, Mom and Dad's room. I remember standing in that hallway
between the two rooms.

But Mom and Dad weren't there. Instead...

When I was seven my brother gave me a stamp he had made of my signature. It wasn't hard, probably, since I practiced my signature on anything that didn't move. Susannah Clay Jenkins, The Only, and I had that little circled R for registered. The only story I know began with my brother standing in that hallway between two rooms.My earliest memories are of yellow curtains, that thick yellow from the early seventies? Shag carpet and Speed Racer, my brother leaning with the curved track on tv. I told on myself as a kid, before Andy could, and I told on him, too. Together we tossed cod out the window and swore that we ate it, splintered doors when the other was on the phone. He gave me his Styx tape, Pseudo Echo the semester after he was an exchange student in Australia. In high school we coasted down the driveway past curfew, and one time? He stopped the car on a busy street and made me walk home. Dick.

One of Zoey's New Year's Resolutions was to "concentrate on how to make a baby." The other one was to learn how to swim, but so far I have only told her about how when a man and a woman love each other very much... Don't tell that story, mom, she said, it's weird.

Today is my brother's birthday and true to form I am telling on him; he is 40. Remember when? he says, or me: who was that woman in Florida that time? As adults we sit for hours and try to piece it together, the hallways and music, the people, the conversations we heard through the heating vent downstairs, where were those yellow curtains? Why does mom do that? he says, or me: does dad say that to you, too? The other side to my lost without red yarn maybe, but following the same trail of bread crumbs just the same. How did he know to give me my signature anyway? Susannah Clay Jenkins, The Only. Not a twin but a sister, a sibling, the youngest, The Only in a family of tenses. My brother now 40, Zoey's resolution has become my own (and I already know how to swim.)

Happy Birthday, dear brother. I am forever grateful we come from the same gutter.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Super Fuck (In Place of Fudge)

I am having a Judy Blume moment. Day slash week slash life. I must, I must, I must increase pie crust. I don’t know—it was either that or fixed investment discretionary trust, and right about now I’m all about à la mode and Blubber.

It's a good thing I've always identified with Tiger Eyes and not, say, The Bell Jar.

On Friday I fell down. Hard. And not in a Michael Douglas circa 1993 kind of way, although I feel that coming on, too. No, I fell down wearing a cute little black Audrey Hepburn dress and tights with a mere hint of sparkle, boots with a—gasp!—2.5” heel. I was walking past the bank of elevators at work feeling just a little bit frisky because I swear the UPS guy checked me out when suddenly That Fucking Bitch-hole The Universe stuck out her foot and tripped me. On nothing. Total yard sale, and I cannot be completely sure that the elevator doors had already closed so that the UPS man did not witness my shame, or that my dress was not flipped up over my fat head. Pride go-eth and all that ye olde fuckery. Subsequently I spent the weekend looking as if I had attempted suicide with the flat end of a butter knife, a cry for help, perhaps, more than any real attempt to end it all. And yes, I know suicide is not funny but neither is 3 straight weeks of rain or the fact that Bryan has always said I sound like The Gestapo in those boots anyway. Also not funny? Apparently the underside of a wrist can, in fact, look very old.

T.S. Eliot was oh-so wrong. April is cake compared to January, and February is downright diabolical.

Happy Monday.

From the (Not So F)oxymoron,

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Free Bird!

Most mornings when I walk the 5 blocks from the bus stop to work I listen to my ipod and imagine myself the it girl in a movie. The blocks are long and packed with people. Some days the movie is subtitled, my movements small. I listen to MC Solaar and I am sexy in a still way. Other days I dance, wild, a free spirit as I try very hard not to mouth the words to Lynyrd Skynyrd to myself on Market Street. For some reason in this movie I am always walking away from something and I am happy.

This is all kinds of awesome: Will Ferrell and Conan, I think that may be Ben Harper? Later today I have to go to the mall and I think I'll wait until I'm in a crowded store before I shout it: Free bird! Play Free bird!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The 7:24 SB #4

There was a fat woman in front of me and a man behind me with hair like Lyle Lovett. Only it was raining so I kept kind of turning around to see if his hair still stood up, to see if maybe I could catch his eye and we could exchange a glance of what the fuck are we doing standing in line for the bus here on the sidewalk when there is a perfectly dry empty bus shelter not ten feet away? I mean, am I right Texas Bluegrass man who once wed a barefoot Julie Roberts? But he wouldn't look at me and the woman never once turned around. It was 7:13am. To be fair we all had umbrellas, a line of black compact nylon bat wings suspended in mid-flight commuting, the metal tips dripping splat off the ribs and onto the person behind. At 7:17 it began to hail. This was yesterday morning, and I hate myself for not moving.

But these are the rules, I tell myself. For some reason we line up along the sidewalk to wait for the bus, rain or shine in one straight line, and then we board and no one talks.

I should have said something, I think, at the very least. Like hey isn't this stupid? I should have moved beneath the shelter or told the woman her purse was getting soaked instead of standing there watching the rain drip down the back of her wide black trenchcoat. I should have turned around and kissed the man whose hair stood up even though I cannot name any of Lyle Lovett's songs and don't kiss strange men much less strange men in the morning at the bus stop. The point is: I should have done something.

But I didn't, and I probably won't tomorrow when I go to work; the weather calls for yet more rain. It's exhausting to worry about what people think of me all of the goddamn time.

Lately, I suppose, I have been feeling quiet inside, an indifferent hm of a fridge at night. There is a silence to be found in line.

This is old but beautiful nonetheless.

Yesterday afternoon I bought a leopard print umbrella.
It's almost Friday.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why I Love My Husband (On a Tuesday)

Sometimes when I am going to the bathroom bathroom he draws cartoons of what he thinks is going on and pushes them through the crack beneath the door.

If I have a zit he calls it a star.

He stopped putting soy sauce on his popcorn because I hate it.

Yesterday, when I was feeling very much like this:
He emailed this video to me from the other room simply because he said the singer reminds him of me.

Now normally a girl might take offense to any comparison to blush striped into the hollow of a cheek, to leotards and purple gloves, to that hair. But last night I needed this, the reminder that I am a girl/woman who dances with her thumbs and elbows, knees--that I have knees that can actually jerk, a beat, that I've got my foot on the accelator. God, I am cheesy, but this is why I love my husband: when I need it he feeds me my spirit.

Plus, he stares at buildings with starfish eyes and never reads my blog.

May you all have somebody who sees you dance with abandon,

Monday, January 18, 2010

On Geckos and Rape, Butter and French Tips, Ganache (If You Can)

I keep buying butter and I don't know why. 4 boxes now, 4 sticks per box, 8 tablespoons each; It would seem that I have 128 tablespoons of butter in my fridge and I don't know why. Today is Monday.

Other things I wonder about: how one is supposed to clean dried milk from the spouts of sippy cups, the % of rat poop per raisin, why I study the row of soft scrubs simply to avoid saying hello to familiar people at the grocery store, paraben.

Yesterday I took Zoey and my mom to get a multi-generational mani/pedi, and yes, I wonder about this, too., i.e. why. But mostly I wonder how to tell Zoey that the world sucks. Do I tell her while the Vietnamese woman is painting intricate flowers on her tiny pink nails, each stigma punctuated with a crystal? Or later? When we are eating mac and cheese at the french boulangerie and her plate is garnished with strawberries? In January?
On Saturday there were Boy Scouts downtown collecting money for Haiti. I gave Zoey some cash and told her to give it to one of them, and then--I kid you not--we went to yet another french boulangerie where we shared a quiche and ate tiny little cheesecakes drizzled with chocolate for dessert. Zoey, I said, we gave that boy money because there was an earthquake in a country called Haiti. All the buildings fell down and people got hurt. They need help so we gave some money to try to help them. I can't say that she understood; she is, after all, not yet 4, plus she was eating chocolate. Then again, I can't say that I understand either, the news reports seemingly Flat Stanleys of a tragedy I cannot fathom fleshed out. I am 37 now. I eat chocolate most every day. Like I said, I have 128 tablespoons of butter in my fridge; I don't know where to start much less stop.

There was an earthquake in Haiti, I could begin, and the world is full of terrible realities. Sometimes people shoot eachother, other times they torture their dogs. Men rape women and girls and babies. Most people do not have enough food, many have cancer. I wonder how I came to know all this, that the world sucks. If maybe it was a slow realization, or a sudden epiphany when I was 14 and listening to The Cure in my bedroom painted Pepto-Bismol advertised as "adobe," (oh! the late 80's when I drew geckos on my binders). Of course I did not get my first mani/pedi until I was in my twenties, I think, though certainly there is no correlation between the two.

Last night Zoey crawled into our bed as she has every night since she could walk, and I could not sleep, her head hot pushed hard into mine. She is going to figure it out, I thought, this girl who is scared to get water in her eyes. Already there are monsters, and I wonder if that is just human nature somehow, to know that something ineffably terrible exists. There are no monsters in the house, I tell her, I do not allow monsters here, but she knows nonetheless. This girl who still has all of her grandparents, who lives in a home with a cat and a mom and a dad, each outlet plugged with plastic, this girl who knows the Spanish word for butterfly, who loves bananas and yogurt and unicorns. She knows somehow small, and I lay there thinking about how absurdly beautifully sadly it all is--adverbs, I know--but that's the way it seemed to me last night, everything modifying anything but something solid, and as I lay there I tried very hard not to picture her heart.
Happy Birthday to my mom (tomorrow), and please donate to the Red Cross if you can. (See? My mom has a red cross on her shirt? Drawing connections whenever possible in a pretty world where nothing makes sense and everything is.)


Friday, January 15, 2010

Brown Chicken Brown Cow*

Of course we got Nacho a present in Mexico because a cat named Nacho simply screams slap a sombrero on me and call me guapo.
*The sound of porn music (say it fast). See also: my new nickname for Nacho since Bryan refuses to name our future son Brown Chicken Brown Cow. Plus, if Nacho ever happened to show his pussy in porn he would totally play the role of pizza guy who delivers the money shot even though he was born with only one ball and technically he doesn't even have that one anymore. I mean, just look at him there with that sombrero, right?

I have a migraine. Happy Friday.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Safe Word is Fiber

I am fairly certain this chick is making eyes at me.

Not to mention her husband, what with his every word an innuendo. I'm seriously tempted...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

In Mexico (Now Back)

In Mexico for a week and now my suitcase smells like beer, salt water, sunblock, and vaguely like somebody maybe crumbled cotija cheese into my clothes.
In Mexico, Zoey called every kid she saw either Dora or Diego depending on gender and general coif of the hair. Sshhh! I said, spreading zinc across my nose and wishing I didn't burn before all else. I like the way they pronounce my name there all slippery alveolar fricative sexy.
In Mexico I noticed that the people really seem to like uniforms, whistles, plastic bags for every purchase, that they pay no mind to overlapping music blaring horns, guitar, cumbia y salsa, todos más reggaetón. Although I am fairly neutral on uniforms I really despise whistles and music over music over people; plastic bags make me sad.
In Mexico I also learned that the people there like shouting woot! woot! while swimming. Though to be fair this might just apply to people from Chicago who just so happen to be vacationing in Mexico as each afternoon there was a water aerobics class populated mostly by a group from the windy city staying in Ixtapa for The Anglers Association of Something Fishy, and yes, I am aware that this is a run-on sentence no bueno, but honestly--a group of adults standing waist deep in a pool whilst circling their arms for an hour is a run-on sentence in and of itself, it just is. Woot! Woot! Patron Saint of Please: Don't Ever Let Me Say Woot Woot Outloud.
In Mexico I noticed that the people there seem to like sugar as much as I do, daquiris and helado, dulce de everything, gum, candy, fruit, horchata, the names nothing to be ashamed of with r's that roll right into my tummy to siesta, the sounds of it all, azúcar. Pesos seem like play money; I got an hour massage plus 30 minute facial for $45. Also? I stumbled my way through Spanish and received nothing but kindness. I bought this and it smells like spring.In Mexico I ate chilaquiles for breakfast, swam in the pool with Zoey, bodysurfed with Bryan in the ocean. All day long we sat in beach chairs and read, ordered cervezas, guacamole, swam, napped, read, swam, showered then went to dinner. At night I could not sleep because the piano bar in the hotel lounge played too loudly: Mariah Carey, Billy Joel, Dos Gardenias para ti... George Michaels.In Mexico I wished I could say mi amor without feeling like a fraud. ¿Listos? I said. Sin carne, no gracias, las ondas son hoy grandes, si. Sometimes I slipped, s'il vous plait. Still I called her sweetiepea, petunia face, chachi, love.

(My apologies for the craptastic comment moderation while I was gone. Internet at the hotel was you've got mail slow, and checking from my iphone meant "substantial roaming fees" which, quite frankly, scared the palm oil outta' me. I dropped a lot and deleted a few. ~Shannon? On the Sunshine post? I think? That was the sweetest comment and I hit reject rather than publish--mierda.~ Also--I'm turning on word verification only because I have to reject roughly 25 spam comments a day as I'm fairly certain you all don't care about cialiscialiscialis, Miley Cyrus nude or random words bolded like a Richie Rich comic book. If I am wrong just let me know and I'll forward them along...)

Friday, January 8, 2010

I Think We're Dead*

I'm still in Mexico, where I am undoubtedly wondering if I should wear this bathing suit today or if maybe it's a little much considering the fact I am with family.Other things to consider: the possibility of the equatorial sun searing circles into my flesh when the gold coins get hot.

Anyhoo, saw this and thought of you. Perhaps time is going by really, really, really, really slow wherever you are?

I give it two thumbs up.Ba dum DUM.

Happy Friday!

*Wouldn't it suck if we really were dead? If something happened in Mexico and the title to this post was all portentous** and shit? Although now that I wrote that it won't happen slash can't happen because the Universe doesn't work like that. I think. Yeah, no, it won't happen. Right?

**Not to be confused with pretentious, which, duh. I mean, welcome to my blog, where Pretense is King.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Out of Office Reply

I'm watching you. I'm not actually here here watching you, but in Mexico--you know, there, margarita in hand. Watching you. Kinda' not really, but hello! Which reminds me, do you think everyone pisses in the water at a swim-up bar?

Back on the 12th, (with maybe a little something for you sooner.)


Friday, January 1, 2010


The first time I hated someone I was selling lemonade on the corner of Scenic and Elm. Only my sign said lemonaid stand, and when the lady down the street told me I was so cute because I was so wrong, I hated her. She was tall, thin, fabulously beautiful in the way that young women were in 1977, all perm, teeth and range-y tan; by the end of that summer she was dead. Drug overdose or suicide, not sure which since nobody told me. Her house wrapped with yellow police tape excited me. Hate is a bad word, said Mrs. Coons, so I decided I just really, really did not like her.

Other bad words included shut up, ‘aint, nope and butt.

Me & my mom. Circa sometime.

The first time I thought I was pretty I wore 6 full skirts to make them fly up full when I twirled fast. I was who-knows- how-old and loved eating liverwurst straight from the tube with my fingers; sometimes I climbed on top of the counter to steal nibbles of baking chocolate no matter the bitter. Mirrors were magical and I was a princess with long dangley earrings and a pot belly for balance. (Prior to that I was not aware of the possibility of not.)

Other times I thought I was pretty: in the sixth grade when my name was on the list of girls the boys wanted to go with, on the island of Elba, the day I married Bryan in a $39 dress at City Hall.

The first time I cried so hard I hiccupped was when I watched a car in front of me careen into a tree ( I have since learned that cars never just sort of drift lazily into trees) and a boy from my school fell out of the car and then down and died right there on the pavement. I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, is what I said, and to this day I am still disgusted because I don’t know if I really couldn’t breathe or if I just couldn’t breathe because there was another boy there that I liked and he was alive and so was I and not breathing seemed the right and romantic thing to do at the time.

Other times I cried so hard I hiccupped: when my cockatiel flew into the ceiling fan, when Bryan broke up with me, the time the doctors said Zoey’s rash was probably nothing but leukemia should be ruled out nonetheless.

The first time I felt worthless was walking home from Wade Thomas one day with two other girls and they said I couldn’t walk between them and then later one of them loaned the other one money for Jolly Ranchers and they played Centipede shoulder to shoulder while I stood a little bit behind them, sure that my breath smelled as bad as that of the teacher’s aide since it certainly didn’t smell like artificial watermelon sucked flat against the roof of my mouth like a retainer.

Other times I felt worthless: making the Homecoming float Senior year, how I talked shit about Maya only to turn around and see her there, shoulders shaking, the two times I was laid off, anytime I yell at Zoey.

Sweet Jesus. 7th grade.

The first time I French kissed someone was at my first boy-girl party in the 7th grade. His name was Dave and it was 3 minutes in a very dark closet while everyone else waited outside pretending this was the sort of thing they did all the time. Dave’s lips felt blubbery, his tongue fat. He tasted of Doritos and 3 minutes is a very long time to not breathe, a tea party at the bottom of the pool when your body’s natural reaction is to rise to the surface.

Other memorable first kisses: in 8th grade when Bryan walked me home and I leaned back against the chain link fence so he would be taller, the first time Zoey pressed her her teeny rosebud lips against my mouth and meant it.

The first time I knew everything would be okay was sitting on my mom’s lap and playing with her necklace, a flat crystal disk with a palm tree etched into the center. I used to press that crystal between the hollow of her clavicles pretending it was a swimming pool that smelled of Velamints, cigarettes and Paris, the perfume. Somewhere in that same memory is the shade of a kumquat tree, though I’m not quite sure how or even why.

Other times I knew everything would be okay: each year when the leaves skitter and again when the plum trees blossom, when I hear Cat Stevens or Jimmy Cliff, early morning in bed with Bryan and Zoey, when I fall asleep at the beach and can actually feel the earth moving and dancing and spinning, alive, everything temporary.

Happy first.