Friday, September 30, 2005

Strange Girl

Top Ten Weird Things About Me
10. Some days I eat nothing but chocolate and coffee.
9. I often think I'm really a gay man in a woman's body.
8. I can't fall asleep with the closet door open because the monsters might get me.
7. I bite my toenails.
6. Sometimes I listen to the TV on the car radio. Even "America's Funniest Home Videos," which I would never watch on the actual TV.
5. I cry tears of queerness when I watch cheerleading competitions, because I'm just so darn proud of those hardworking kids.
4. I can make myself believe my own lies.
3. I love to smell my husband's forehead. Mmmmm... sunshiney!
2. I have ESP. Sometimes.
1. I am terrified of Chuck Woolery.


I just went and got some rather heavy-duty birth control.

Hold on a sec... I have to take a couple of deep breaths and center myself.

OK. I got an... *shiver* Damnation! I can't say it.

Even though I like to consider myself a pretty cool, liberal person, I cannot talk about my... hoo hoo, and its goings on.

Can't do it.

My upbringing, I guess. When it came time to have the talk with my mother, she drove me to the library, the one with the red-headed, bespectacled librarian man I had known all my life, and sat me down and spoke to him in hushed tones that were nonetheless clearly audible to EVERYONE IN THE LIBRARY about how I was so very smart and advanced, and that it was time for me to learn about... grownup lady things like MENSTRUATING VAGINAS and INTERCOURSE FOR PROCREATIVE PURPOSES and stuff like that, so would HE please point out some suitable educational non-fiction for me, at an appropriately challenging AND AGONIZINGLY EMBARRASSING reading level, please. Thank you very much.

Dear God, are you there? It's me, Grudge Girl.

So even though I can DO things, and I believe I can do them quite well (judging from reactions), and I very much enjoy doing them, I certainly can NEVER TALK ABOUT THEM.

Perhaps I can write about them?

Here goes. I. Got. An. IUD. (and... cleansing breath)

Of course, I have to be careful when I DO do things, because I am the most fertile person alive. Well, except for that wack fundie lady who was on that reality show, "15 Children & Pregnant Again" (I think - I'm not checkin' - I'm lazy). But I have a sneaking suspicion that if I had dropped the pretense of birth control a few years ago, I'd be neck and neck with her. Or uterus and uterus. I'd probably be winning. Or losing, depending on your point of view, I guess.

Oh dear, I'm instinctively tangent-ing away from hoo hoo talk. So yeah, birth control. NOT VERY FREAKING EFFECTIVE for me. My three kids? Conceived on the pill. Condoms? I scoff at condoms. Plus, they're just SO ludicrous-looking, and kind of yucky and slimy, and poor Andy, I KNOW he doesn't like them - what guy does? And, yes, he's really weirded out by the idea of being snipped himself, because what if I die or something and he wants to start another family with his new wife? (That's what I like to tell myself his reason is. Because I'm a masochist.) And now I'm too old for the pill anyway, so Dr. Bean, my hilarious and probably gay OB-GYN (who I have a massive unrequited crush on anyway) recommended the Mirena IUD.

I resisted the urge to Google myself into oblivion, what with the too much information, and the scary stories, and stuff. I just read the promotional materials and listened to my doctor (whom I really do trust) like a good patient.

But when it came time to go do this today, I started freaking out. First of all, you have to have the things inserted when you're (breathe) on your period. EWWWWW!!!!! Nobody sees that but me!!! Secondly, I think I internalized a fear of IUDs because of the weird Dalcon Shield problems, and some scary IUD stories that happened in the 70s, when I was just a wee grudgeling, but a well-read and alert one, so I paid attention to stuff, apparently filing it away for just this moment in my future.

But thirdly - and this is the weirdest of all - this is a commitment to 5 years of no more babies. Like, it's DONE. No more surprises. Not that we were planning on having any more! Of COURSE we weren't! My God, we'd have to go live in a Dickensian poorhouse if we had another baby. But still. Mentally, I had to surrender fully to that no-more-babies plan. That means I will never get to be pregnant again. For real. I can't even dream about it now. And the weight is here to stay, until I get off my ass and make the time to work it off, because I can't get pregnant and put off the weight-loss until after the baby. And I won't get to experience carrying babies any more. And you know what? I LOVE being pregnant. (I can hear Andy laughing) I know it gets rough towards the end, but still. Being pregnant rules.

And I won't get to deliver another one, and witness Andy's raw love for me in the delivery room. He's the type of guy who doesn't express WANTON PASSIONATE LOVE all the time. He's low-key. Not so verbal. Not Gothy-romantic-poet-ish. So I only get to experience expressions of big, teary love at the births of babies, or, presumably, if I got in a car wreck, and he were worried he might lose me. I guess I'll just have to wait for that, then.

And - no more babies. And I love my babies. They're beautiful! And smart and wonderful and charming and... cool. Andy and I have talked about how if we were rich, we would SO have another one, because we make really good babies, and I'm pretty darn good at havin' em. Plus, there's a part of me that wonders what another one might be like, you know?

So I guess I'm a little sad. I feel slightly ridiculous, but so what. I'm sad, damnit.

And (breathe) crampy.

And the (breathe) (ahem) insertion procedure was not blindingly awful. Just a couple notches above regular-old-visit-to-the-OB-GYN awful. With added cramps, for her displeasure! So now they have to check it in a month, and then I'm apparently good to go for 5 years. Lighter (in, out, in, out) periods and no extra precautions necessary. Lower levels of hormones than the pill. No added risk of cervical cancer or weepiness. (Shoot. I was kind of hoping for that excuse.) No weight gain. (Shoot. I was kind of hoping for that excuse.)

I guess we'll see. Dr. Bean assured me that I won't get pregnant. If there's a .0000006 chance of anyone getting pregnant with this thing in, though, it'll be me. Look for me on the Today Show, sitting Indian style in the chair (the only way I can sit when I'm pregnant), discussing my upcoming lawsuit against Mirena, because their faulty product failed me. Hey, we'll have to get money to support baby #4 somehow! How much do you think we can get for pain and suffering?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

My Inner Smarm

God. Three days of intense rushing about. The Indianapolis Children's Choir is going to New York in March, and the trip will cost $1700. DANG! But Ethan will be able to sing at Carnegie Hall if we can make this happen. He'll also get to do all the other New York-y stuff like seeing a Broadway show (lucky!), and touring Ellis Island, and Chinatown, and all kinds of other fun stuff. With his friends. Not his parents.

But $1700! Egad!

We could sell 5 million tons of candy, wrapping paper, plants, and baked goods, but I. REFUSE. I hate that shit.

OR... I could try to sell ad space in the program brochure, at $250, $550, or $1000 a pop, depending on the size, and Ethan gets 50% of each sale. So that's definitely the route we want to take.

I, however, being a fairly recent choir mom, was unfamiliar with this process, AS WELL AS misinformed, because I was told we couldn't start selling space until the spring. For some reason. But I found out on Monday that we could sell up until THIS FRIDAY! September 30th!

I have spent the last few days wracking my brain and my husband's brain, and hitting up every local business person I have worked for, or supported with my consumer dollars, as well as a few friends. I have run copies of contracts, and last year's program, and run around town getting lost delivering copies, and being late to pick up carpool, and spent countless minutes leaving messages and taking messages, and writing heartfelt (read: manipulative) two page letters to former employers, and now I'm just waiting... waiting...

Seriously, by yesterday afternoon, you'd have thought from my spiel that I'd been working in marketing for 20 years. I'm that good. Heh.

I've got pretty good prospects at: my son's school; a dinner theatre where I used to work; a local kids' haircut place; a darling, local, kids'-themed-birthday-throwing business; a generous and loving photographer friend of mine; and a mortgage broker gal who married my husband's friend even though she clearly still has the hots for my husband (as evidenced by the fact that at their wedding 2 summers ago, she delivered all of her vows to Andy, over her fiance's shoulder - and this hilarity was captured on film)(and don't think I wasn't ok with him using his masculine wiles to try to wrangle us some dough, nosiree).

I've got until Friday. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you are poor, and want to make something amazing happen for your kid. I can enter the capitalist marketplace with gusto, and an eerie acumen for confident salesmanship. Salespersonship?

Heh. Of course the lingo will trip me up every time. Silly me.

On a less boring note, Charlotte likes hats! She's getting her 8th tooth, and she's cranky, and as I was carting her around this evening, I pulled open her hat drawer (they have remained in the drawer up to this point because she has always had enough hair not to require a hat, even on the sunniest days, and also because she would immediately pull off anything I put on her head), and stuck a little pink jobbie on her head and showed her her reflection in the mirror, and she was enchanted! She points now, too, which is totally cute. So she was giggling and pointing, and I put another hat on my own head, which she thought was HI-LARIOUS, and pretty soon we were holding a fashion show for the boys, who humored us politely. Because we are fashion girls!

Hats! I wonder if I can pass along my obsession with vintage coats, too. Heh heh heh.

Monday, September 26, 2005


We stayed home from preschool today, and it would appear that Simon, in his delerium, is seeing things. See the red ear? Sure sign of fever.

Prescription? Simpsons, Spooky, Squirt bottle, and Squishy jacket.

Four is the loneliest number...

Have I mentioned that I count everything in fours?

My steps, my breaths, bites of food, M&Ms, strokes of a hairbrush, sneezes. EVERYthing.

I always thought this was because I had so many years of musical training. Four just feels complete to me, like a measure.

But then I read that obsessive counting of random things is a symptom of schizophrenia.

Uh oh.

Un! Comfortable!

UGH! Had a very uncomfortable night last night with my mother-in-law, her big gay husband, her ex-nun sister, and her sister's slightly dirty-old-mannish husband. In honor of my brother-in-law's birthday. He and Andy's sister are fine. As are Andy's aunt and uncle, forgiving the ogling tendencies of said uncle.

The problem is with the mother-in-law and her husband. Sigh. Such a long story.

The husband is creepy.

Mother-in-law is approaching 60, and he is exactly my age. 36. But, you know, I myself have a bit of a cradle-robbed husband, albeit nothing that extreme. So that's not the problem. It just adds up with other things for a picture of wrong.

He moved out of his mother's house, and into my husband's mom's house. He has accidentally called her "Mom," on more than one occasion. Funny and lame, but also not SO very troubling all by itself.

He's also EXCEEDINGLY socially awkward, to the point that he can't make direct eye contact with anyone, and cannot hold normal conversations. He just has this vibe about him that... makes one nervous. Now Andy's mom has a habit of taking in unwanted, ugly, sad, stray animals, so we could chalk this up to the same sort of tendency. She also works with special ed kids. And I would say he fits that bill, but it would be insulting to special ed kids. Let's just say he seems to need some sort of special attention.

But it gets weirder.

He is the gay. A big gay cowboy to be exact. EVERYONE, including my rather clueless, older parents, can tell he is the gayest. The Village People cowboy outfit, complete with hat, boots, GIANT belt buckles, Western shirts, and high-rise, embarrassingly tight Wranglers, is absurd in the extreme.

Now, I LOVE the gay. I am quite possibly the biggest hag in Indianapolis. I would let any of my gay friends babysit my kids in a heartbeat. Gay is not the problem.

Being DEEPLY in denial about said gaydom, acting all homophobic (offensive!), while simultaneously surfing hardcore gay porn - IS the problem. As is frequenting gay chat rooms (while married to mother-in-law) and asking locals where he can go to "be taken by force." As is fetishizing violent rape by authority figures to the point of ordering used police uniform pants off of the internet.

How do I know this? We've got the hard drive.

Also, Andy's older brother who lives in Manhattan became suspicious after receiving a call from their mom, asking him how much life insurance it was normal to have, and listening to big gay husband (BGH) bitch audibly in the background about how she doesn't have enough! because he wants to be able to completely pay off their brand new house when she dies! and bills! (and big gay coming out party!) And Manhattan brother didn't think it was kosher for someone's spouse to view their death as similar to winning the lottery, and so he sleuthed around and gathered his evidence, and proceeded to write a letter to their mom detailing their concerns about her health (given BGH's trolling for rape advice) and her well-being (life insurance, woman! more life insurance!), and stating that he would not keep company with BGH, and then he signed the letter from all of us: him, his wife, Andy, me, and Andy's sister.

Now who do you suppose was around for the aftermath of the arrival of this letter? Here's a hint. It wasn't Manhattan brother!

Because mother-in-law couldn't bring herself to hate her son and daughter, who did she decide to hate? ME!

She then proceeded to act as if nothing at all had happened, and dragged BGH to all family get togethers and dinners, even though we knew all about him, and HE knew we knew all about him. She forced him on us, and, presumably, us on him. And he sat there every time like a giant, silent bump on a log, unacknowledged, because even SHE doesn't talk to him, he's so weird.

So this is all simmering below the surface when she decides to use the excuse of her sister's visit to call us up and ask if Simon can spend the night. Um, NO! Now, Andy thinks he told her, during the one tense conversation they had upon the receipt of the letter, that our children would not be spending the night at their house, as long as BGH was there. If he DID, she knew the answer would be no, and it was unfair to put us in that position. If he DIDN'T (which is entirely possible given the family's strict policy of not speaking about anything), she still knew how we would feel about it, and what our answer would be, as evidenced by the fact that she has NEVER asked before if Simon could spend the night. So she was still putting us in an awkward position.

And we can't trust her. (1) She is totally in denial about BGH. (2) She appears to feel slightly guilty for his having married someone menopausal, and never being able to have kids of his own, and so she seems to have decided that she'll encourage him to become involved with and affectionate with ours. Um... no. Like, she'll take the baby from me, and then suddenly remember she has to do something, and plunk the baby down in his lap. Um... NO!! (3) She hates me, and totally disdains and disrespects my super-strict, uppity, old fuddy-duddy "Rules" such as feeding the children dinner and putting them to bed at bedtime. I'm mean! (4) She blames me for what she sees as a "change" in her son, because the old Andy (depressed, stoner hippy guy) would've never condoned rules such as feeding kids fruits and vegetables instead of Twizzlers for dinner! (5) She once took Simon for an evening and fed him Twizzlers and popcorn instead of dinner, which, honestly, I could've forgiven, but she LIED to me about it when I asked her if he had eaten. And I knew it! She freaking lied like an errant teenager. And when we busted her for her lie, she had the nerve to get mad at us!

I'm sorry, but HIS qualities, combined with HERS = recipe for NO CHILDREN SPENDING THE NIGHT! I could just see her jumping up into her huge bed next to BGH and telling Simon to jump on up right between them for a cuddle! AAAAAH! *shiver*

But she calls Andy and asks him, and he says he'll have to check.

And she calls me, and I say I'll have to check.

And, adhering to the traditional policy of not talking about things, and thus avoiding having to open the giant can of explaining-why worms, we never called her back.

We made sure we were out of the house as much as possible this weekend, in fact.

This was really hard for me, as in MY family, we yell and scream and get all up in each others' business, but at least we know where we all stand, for goodness' sake!

So my stomach was in knots on the way to mother-in-law's house for the birthday dinner. I just knew the hate and blame would be directed at me, as usual, and enacted in passive aggressive ways like refusing to make eye contact and only speaking to the kids, or through the kids instead of to me. And I was right.

Un! Comfortable!

There were certainly a couple of snotty comments sprinkled throughout the evening, but the worst part was just the underlying tension. We felt it from the aunt and uncle too, because I'm sure she told them we wouldn't let Simon spend the night with her because we don't trust her because of the Twizzlers dinner lie (unfair!) and we're just mean.

Andy said he told his mom merely, "Sorry," when she pulled him aside and bitched at him at one point. He offered no further explanation. Because that might end up in a giant blow-up that would result in us not seeing her anymore, because I KNOW she would pick BGH over us. And that would be sad, not for me, but for the kids, because they love her, and she loves them, and she's a pretty fun grandma (Hey - Twizzlers for dinner), in spite of the blind spot in the shape of a huge, lurking, gee-he-seemed-like-such-a-nice-quiet-person-I-can't-believe-he-had-15-young-boys-buried-in-the-cellar BGH.

So you know what? She can go ahead and hate and blame me all she wants because I know I'm doing the right thing.

It's bad enough I have his hulking frame cluttering up my wedding pictures, but I will not have his hulking frame looming over my children, with me not there to protect them.

You don't even get ONE chance to mess with my kids. Sorry.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Grad School Grudge

I'm trying to figure out why I get over some things, but not others. What's the difference?

Like Ethan's dad. Who cheated on me with his best friend's girlfriend when Ethan was 7 months old. And then proceeded to date the horrible, foul-mouthed skank on and off over the next EIGHT YEARS.

It was gut-wrenching and horrible when it happened, and I remember feeling like I would explode or my face would fall off, or something, but now... I'm totally over it. Seriously! I have been for quite a while.

Why am I over it? What freed me? Is it because I found a replacement?

No, because in other grudges, like with former friends, I have found replacements, but I'm still not over it.

Is it because it was so long ago?

No. I've got lots older than that.

Is it because I've now seen that it all turned out for the best, and that I'm better off without him?

No, because that same thing could be said about my grad school grudge, which is also a former friend/betrayal grudge.

Here goes:

It took me forEVER to finish my part-time undergrad, partly because of the 3 years I took off when Ethan was little, and I was single mom lady living with my parents because I wanted him to not have to live in a dinky studio apartment living on ramen, which would've been all I could've afforded. So by the time I finished my senior year, I was REALLY nerdishly, annoyingly into school, and so old that I was practically taking over for the instructors and teaching the damn classes my own damn self. They politely suggested I attend grad school and get some classes of my own.

I did, and I LOVED it. I LOVED smoking at Perkins Pancake House 'til 3 am, going through entire pots of coffee trying to comprehend _The Purloined Poe_, Barthes, and Bakhtin. I loved the feeling of my brain stretching to fit the brand new, straight-up crazy, really HARD lit crit stuff. I also loved my brand new friends.

We were a threesome. We used to adore stalking the English Department halls in our black leather jackets and boots, flirting with all the professors who loved us, and showing off for the undergrads. Laura, the charismatic leader, was the "enfant terrible" of the department - raging feminist, brash and funny. Debra was a bookish lesbian from the sticks of Indiana (see small related story in my "Words I Like to Spell & Say" entry), who played the role of the listener in the trio. And I was me. Gothy and an overly fancy, sexy dresser. Clearly obsessed with winning the attention and admiration of men. Well, boys, actually, were more to my liking. More slavishly devoted. I also was willing to take issue with some of the more far-fetched feminist criticism, and chafed against the notion that I should only be interested in studying women writers because I was a woman. I happen to love the dead white guys, thank you! Bring on Harold Bloom! I took a lot of shit for that, but it was okay with it. It was part of what made me lovable.

We had class after class together. We hung out together, often getting drinks at one particular bar - our bar - after evening sections. It was the first time I had ever had a group of gal pals, and I loved every minute of it. Our conversations were smart. Our classroom debates were heated. Everyone knew us, or knew of us. It ruled.

Then Drew showed up. He was a new student in our linguistics class. He was cute, in a short, balding, dimpled, guitar-and-jazz-piano playing sort of way. And he clearly LOVED us. We decided to take him in. We invited him one night to our bar, and he was in. Pretty soon, he and I were dating. Our close group grew to include him, and Laura's blond rebel poet of a husband. The boys formed a band together, blah blah blah.

Laura made plans to go to the American University in Paris to take a couple of classes next summer, and asked if anyone would like to go and meet up with her there. I excitedly accepted. My dad even lined up a bunch of his frequent flier miles for me so that my flight was free, and I used a friend's Courtyard by Marriot employee status to set up a reservation in Paris for almost nothing. Score!

We often got together on weekends at Laura and Sean's house and smoked weed, drank wine, or even, a couple of times, snorted coke. Ah! Those heady, decadent times!

Except that two things became increasingly apparent to me. Well, four. (1) Laura's attitude toward me suddenly shifted. Where before we had always been amused, friendly sparring partners, a couple of opposing type A personalities, but affectionate nonetheless, gradually she grew sort of distant, cold, and vaguely disdainful. (2) Drew was a complete alcoholic, just like my dad, except that Drew was drunk just about every moment he wasn't working. (3) Drunk Drew was pathetically, obsessively paranoid about me cheating on him. To the point of baselessly accusing me of really ugly things, in really ugly language. Drunk Drew made me feel really dirty and used, in several ways which are just too embarrassing to detail. The effect is all that's important to document. (4) Drew started occasionally lying to me when he got off the phone with me in the evening. A couple of times he'd say he was going to go to sleep, but I could tell from his voice he was leaving to go somewhere, and, sad girl that I was, I drove my ass down to our bar and found him there with a couple of younger girls, in their first year of grad school, who had been trying to hang on the fringes of our group. He'd always say that he was just getting into bed, when they stopped by (one lived in his building) on the spur of the moment and asked him to go with them. Just as friends, you know.

Yeah, I know. Hindsight. 20/20. Idiocy. Inability to stare the truth in the face.

Want the upshot?

I found out MUCH later that in the first MONTH of dating Drew, he and Laura slept together, he cheating on me, and she cheating on her husband. They told husband, who worked it out within himself (They had sort of an open marriage - but the rule was usually that they had to be out of the country when they had sex with other people. Whatever.), and then Drew BEGGED them not to tell me, because he was completely aware of my paranoid phobia of being cheated on, because of what had happened with Ethan's dad, my former husband. He knew I would dump his ass in a heartbeat, and then he'd be out of the group. And so they agreed. They essentially picked him over me.

And why? Because I was smarter than Laura in linguistics.

Seriously. It was all fine and dandy until that class, when I was kicking ass at everything, and she was struggling to maintain a B.

Also, I'm pretty sure her husband wanted me. Not that I would've done anything about it. But he was just kind of a player, and the undercurrent was there, you know?

Also, I was WAY better looking. HA! I SAID IT. It wasn't hard, really. She's pretty unattractive. She's one of those people whose charisma depends completely on their personality. She's, podgy, stumpy, with a skeletor head and wig-like crayola red fried hair, and really REALLY bad acne.

So time went by, and I, in my ignorance, got closer and closer to Drew, who got closer and closer to Ethan. But whenever I would talk to Laura about how great things were, and how sweet he was, her eyes would kind of glaze over.

The whole damn time, she was thinking, "Fool."

She set me up to BE the fool. And then she grew to hate me because I WAS a fool.

And she started talking about me behind my back, to Debra, to other classmates, to the professors. She started tearing me down. Making fun of me. And slowly, everyone but one guy started to seem distant, or eye-rolly when I'd bop in, blithely ignorant of all of this, and start bitching about how little sleep I'd had, or how busy I was, or what have you.

One day, Debra blew up and me, and told me to shut it, that no one was interested in how damn tired I was, because they were all tired, and that was all I ever talked about, and OHMYGODWHEREDIDTHISCOMEFROM? I was clueless. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Suddenly my friend was yelling at me in this impatient manner, acting like I was some wearisome child!

She was parroting Laura.

They all sat around and laughed at me, led by Laura.

But that bit of weirdness passed, and we were all busy, and so I just filed it away.

It all came to a head when Drew asked me, one night close to New Year's Eve, to meet him at some restaurant. He told me he had cheated on me with the girl who lived in his building, and now she was pregnant. And, even worse, according to her due date, he had slept with her in the same week as we had celebrated my birthday. If you can believe that and I'm sure that you can.


Of course I was in shock. I left to go to Laura's, because even though I could tell things were weird, I really believed she was still my friend, and when I got there, tears streaming down my face, she filled me in on the whole story of everything. She had even known about his thing with the apartment building girl. SHE, WHO HATED ME, GOT TO SERVE ME UP A STEAMING DISH OF PAIN AND BETRAYAL AND SHE DID IT WITH A FAKE SYMPATHETIC HAND ON MY SHOULDER. Bitch.

Needless to say, I did Paris by myself. Thank God. Because that was awesome.

But I've never gotten over this. It definitely played a part in why I never finished my thesis. I just lost my taste for grad school at that point. And I didn't have enough inner strength, sadly, to do some kind of revenge success. I wish I could have.

Now she writes for the local free, left-leaning art-scene paper that comes out every Wednesday. I'm sure they all think she's the cat's meow. She's divorced now (HA), but I bet they all come over to her house for coked-up Monopoly. She writes articles on stuff I agree with, as our politics are the same, but I can't even pick it up anymore without feeling the vomit rising in my throat. Which is a shame because how will I know where the good bands are playing?




so much. And I just know everyone there LOVES her, because they always do. She has this subtly ass-kissing way of making everyone think she's the greatest, when she's really just a big, insecure, selfish, jealous fraud.

... whew.

So why aren't I over this?

It's connected to that being talked about behind my back phobia that I have, because of other things along those lines that have happened in my family. It has to do with knowing that not one single person I considered my friend stood up to her, and defended me. Again, family ties to that one.

It also has to do with the fact that I was SO duped. I was made a giant fool of, and it still stings.

I'm also still not over it because whenever I run into her in the Associate Faculty office at school, she pulls this big, smiley, SUPER fake friendly act, and makes over my kids in this vivacious way that just makes me want to HURL.

But I can't. say. anything.

I just fake-friendly right back at her. And that's it.


God, I *wish* I could go off on her skanky, jealous ass. I want to humiliate her the same way she humiliated me.

I'm so embarrassed.

Stay Tuned...

I am feeling an old grudge resurfacing. My bed has been levitating again.

There has been far too much cuteness and light here recently. It's time to revisit the for-really-and-for-true reason for this site, the exorcism of my long-held, lovingly nurtured grudges.

There are a couple of rather whopping familial demons in line, knocking at the front of my skull, trying to speak with my voice, but my grad school grudge has managed to slip silently out my ear and perch on my earring, whispering sweet nothings.

I have to pick up Simon from preschool first, feed him and Lottie Lula-Belle lunch, pick up a birthday present, bag, and card for Ethan's schoolmate, to send with him to his dad's tonight, because he's there for the weekend and the party isn't until tomorrow... Blah blah blah domesticity/1000 minor things that occupy so much of my mental time blah. I could go on and on.

But this afternoon, nap time, I'll be waiting for you, grad school Beelzebub. Bring the pea soup.

Tooth Decay

Good grief. More cavities. Tootootoo cute. She looks like she has antennae!

She's also doing the perky girl nose-wrinkle she's done naturally since she first started smiling.

Now I've got to go floss.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Too. Cute... Cavity. Forming.

Hilarious Out of the Blue Simonism:

Simon: "Mom, I don't want the cat catcher to catch our cat."

Mom: "Oh Simon! Nobody will ever get Spooky because we keep her safe inside. You don't have to worry about that."

Simon: "Okay."

... one minute later ...

Simon: "Mom, is there a 4 year old boy catcher?"

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

My girls

I just had the nicest moment with Charlotte. I sort of can't believe it.

Somehow, I ended up in the house all alone with her, and she was exhausted. So I wrangled her into her sky blue blanket sleeper and got together some stories. It's not often she'll suffer herself to be read to, because she's just so wriggly and active. But she was tired tonight. So she snoogled into my lap and I covered us with a giant afghan, and read her 4 favorite touchy-feely books. She's a tactile little thing, and loves to touch the textured pages.

Next, she asked for her bottle, and so we rocked in the big green LazyBoy (rocking children to sleep for going on 11 years now). She's so funny. I've never seen a child fight SO hard to stay awake. She actually HITS HERSELF IN THE HEAD over and over again, and pulls her hair, and twists it, and chatters, like, "wwwWWWAAAaaa wwwWWWAAAaaa wwwWWWAAAaaa," up and down the scale. She pushes against me with her feet, as hard as she can, and digs her nails scratchily into my arm, and log rolls in my lap, all the while she can barely keep her eyes open.

Finally... FINALLY, she gave a last, random little shriek, and went limp, all at once. There's the big, spazzy full-body twitch just like I get, and she was OUT. It was so quiet, at that moment, for once in I can't remember how long. I am ALWAYS in the car, or out working or just doing stuff with the kids, and honestly I can't remember the last time I was able to rock her to sleep.

My arm totally fell asleep, with that wonderful sleeping baby head weight on it, but I sat there for a while anyway, just looking at her.

When I found out I was pregnant, I just KNEW I was having another boy. I wanted 3 boys. I'll go ahead and say it. For a great portion of my life, I haven't liked or trusted girls. I didn't want a girl. I know boys. I get along with boys. I get boys. I had the stuff already. Also, I was worried Andy would fall so in love with her, there wouldn't be room for me anymore, and I would die inside from the jealousy.

So I was pretty apprehensive when the ultrasound lady told me Sebastian was actually Charlotte. It was weird.

But shortly after she was born (1 1/2 hours of labor, from 3-4:30 am, most of it spent packing, fixing Ethan's school lunch in the kitchen, holding onto the refrigerator through the contractions, and in the van driving the boys to their various locations - can I get a WOOT?!), something happened to me. Once she started looking at me, I fell in love with her. Like really looking at me, you know? I couldn't look at her without tears of queerness in my eyes. By this point, I know my way around a baby. It's old hat, right? I could've never predicted how this unexpected little girl would affect me.

Each of my children has redeemed me in different ways. Ethan taught me, through his unconditional love, that I am worth something. He also taught me about gentleness. Simon taught me that I am a great, capable teacher, and to trust my instincts. He also taught me how to play.

Charlotte taught me that girls are wonderful. She gave me back my fullest sense of my feminine self. She helped me to shed my black drapery and embrace the purple. She has made me happy in an entirely different way. When she watches me, I know she's seeing something different than my boys do. She's seeing her role model, and so far she seems to like me. The responsibility of this, and the importance of it, awes me.

I think it's no coincidence that since I have known Charlotte, I have revitalized my relationship with my very best friend in the whole world, since 5th grade. I was in the delivery room with her on July 14th, when she gave birth to her own daughter, her first baby. I was the first person to see her, and I cut the cord. What a gift that experience was. How I love them both. I have also been consciously growing my friendship with two fabulous curly-haired women, my Virgo hippy friend Erin P., and my charming, stylish, sparkly friend Ashley. Each of these chicas is in touch with a different side of me, and I love them for who they are, with all their flaws. And I know that they love me with all of mine. I believe it. I believe it because I know now what it's like to be loved by my little girl.

This is new. I trust my beautiful friends. And I trust my precious daughter. And this has helped me to trust myself.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

She's a rainbow of fruit flavor!

Charlotte would like to show you her shiny red mary janes. And her gay pride pants. And her mad pointing skillz.

Big Kid

It hasn't escaped my notice that I don't post very many pictures of Ethan. That's mostly because I take these random pictures when I'm at home during the day, while he's at school. Then, in the evening, there is too much to do to stop and capture the moment. There is a really excellent picture of him with Charlotte back in my August archive.

I love these three because the first one shows how sweet and gentle he is, and it also reveals the freckle on his ear, right where a piercing for an earring would go. It's the cutest!

The second was taken from his bunk bed ladder. I had to snap a shot of him sleeping upside down on his bed. For some reason, for several years now, he always ends up upside down, outside of the covers. Even he doesn't remember doing it. It's like he sits up in his sleep, and then flops back down the other way. Then the cat takes over his pillow. It's just one of those little idiosyncrasies that we love about our loved ones. Upside down sleeping.

The third was taken this summer in Cocoa Beach, Florida, in Ron Jon's. I love the colors in the picture, and also the little bit of sunburnt sass he's sporting. The shark shirt is a bit offputting to me, because I HATE kids' clothing with pictures and words on it, as a rule. But this one was a gift from his paternal grandma, and he loves it, even though it's completely unlike anything about him. Oh well. The picture also references Ethan's first successful attempts at boogie boarding in the ocean, which he loved. It was a big summer for him. He's always been overly cautious, but this year, at Disney World, he rode his first upside down roller coaster and loved it! I was very proud of him.

I'm often proud of him, especially as he grows older. He possesses such amazing emotional intelligence. For example, he will stand up for underdogs, against the masses. He has one classmate, a little girl, who is... awkward. Just giantly geeky, bless her heart. Well the boys in the class are rather rowdy and can be mean. At times they make fun of Ethan, who isn't friends with any of them really. He's friends with the girls. Because they are more mature, you know? And he's just not as obnoxious and physical as boys can get sometimes. This isn't all the time, by any means, but sometimes they fall into mob mentality, and can be a bit brutish.

And even the girls just aren't as close with this poor geekette as they are with Ethan and with each other because she's just SO very odd. And, like, awkwardly emotionally demonstrative.

At parent-teacher conferences, his teacher told me this story with tears in her eyes. It seems there are an uneven number in the class. And she asked the kids to pair up, and she just started down the rows, and the girls picked each other, and so it went, and she said she could tell Ethan was sizing up the situation, and keeping his eye on the odd girl out. And when the teacher got to him, he picked this girl as his partner. The teacher said she just knew he did it because he didn't want this girl to be the one at the end with no partner. The last one picked. Which is awful, as I remember well. The teacher told me she was SO glad she had him in her classroom that day. He thinks of others before himself. Have I mentioned that he's 10?

His teacher also revealed that he will stand up to the boys, when they are needling the girls, and will tell them to bug off. He's just not afraid to go against the crowd, when it must be done to protect someone. And I love that about him. He's exactly the kind of big brother I always wanted. (I was the oldest child.)

He never tells me about any of this, either. He doesn't do it for some reward, or even praise. It's just part of the quiet course of his daily life. I wonder how many other random acts of kindness he practices without speaking of it?

He is seriously one of the kindest human beings I've ever met. Just innately. I didn't do anything on purpose to try to foster this. He simply came out that way. All zen and calm and thoughtful and sensitive. Yesterday he told me that I was beautiful. Just out of the blue! He said I was one of those moms who will always look young. And I PROMISE you, he was not trying to butter me up for something. He is totally guileless. He's just that sweet.

Sometimes, I think that I want to be him when I grow up.

Because he is so different from many boys his age, and so special and valuable as a human being, I have fiercely guarded his innocence. Sometimes my brothers give me shit about stuff like him being in choir instead of soccer, and being somehow less of a boy because of it, but I don't buy that and I won't force him to conform to some limiting, unfair model of masculinity. Sometimes I think they hint around that he might be gay, which would be SO FINE WITH ME! I would totally be the BEST mom for a little gay boy. But he's not. So not. No self-respecting gay boy would wipe his boogers on the wall, or wear the same pair of socks every single day unless reminded to change them. He's just a very sweet, musically inclined straight boy, which is sometimes, I think, a more difficult road. There really aren't many socially accepted role models for this sort of male, are there?

But the little girls know his worth. They get it, already. I keep watching for some sort of Scorpio passion to assert itself, or rebellion, but as of yet, nothing. I think high school girlfriends are going to be another story. But hey, all they'll have to do is pass an IQ test, and everything will be fine. Heh.


Young lady! Babygatesarenotladders!


(They're not good quality pictures by a longshot, but to me, having lived through this moment, they're hilarious.)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Wait a second...

What's this? Charlotte is playing with an actual toy?

No dirty kleenexes? Not munching on cat food or books? No glass? Electrical outlets? Modems?

Stop the presses!

Heh. Even she looks bemused.

Cannot! Stop! Blogging!

I am filled with posts. This morning I actually got OUT of the shower to jot down a note about something I wanted to post, so that I wouldn't forget. I get lots of great ideas in the shower. So now I have a stack of notes next to the computer. I can barely keep up. This blogging thing is so new to me, so maybe that's part of it, but I cannot stop. It's so... satisfying. I never got into journaling, I guess because my handwriting could never keep up with my thoughts. But I type pretty darn fast, so this is much closer.

Also, as a writing exercise it feels GREAT. I tried this once before, about a year ago, but I had been reading several of the great blogs, by the famous blog foremothers, and my first attempt was pitifully derivative. I was so posing, and it showed.

This time, though, I'm using my very own voice, and I like it. I'm proud of it. My best friend in all the world said that it's like scrapbooking (her own newfound creative hobby). I think she's right. Without the glue, though, and the fancy scissors. Also: cheaper. But I'm jotting down all these random moments and memories and events, along with some pictures, and making something out of it. Something I'm pretty sure I'll be proud to keep and show my kids some day.

Thanks to Dooce, and Mimi Smartypants, and Suburban Bliss, and Fussy, and Finslippy, and JenandTonic. Thank you for showing me what a great blog looks and feels like. Thanks for introducing me to a medium that is already making it easier for me to fall asleep at night, because now I have someplace to put all those random thoughts. And most of all, thanks for giving me the tour of a place where I can be creative, and prolific, and explore the newfound me that I kind of like for a change.

Words I Like to Spell & Say

poopnoodle (HA! Just kidding!)
hoi polloi
erudite (One time, at an extremely drunk, loud grad school party, a classmate of mine who was kind of from the sticks, well-read but unable to completely escape her origins, was drunkenly shouting something to a group of us, and she kept saying this word I thought I was mishearing. So I shouted back, "What?" "Er-rude-ee-ut," was the shouted reply. "What?!" "Er-rude-ee-ut!!" It finally dawned. "Oh! You mean erudite!" I really was just glad to have figured out what she was trying to say. It took me a second to realize everyone around me was shifting uncomfortably, because they had known all along what she was trying to say, and were aware of her stickish background, and were trying to politely ignore her error. But I, tipsy and confused, just blurted it out and corrected her in the process. Heh. Well, she turned out to be pretty treacherous later anyway, so I'm glad if I embarrassed her. Long story, big grudge, later post. But, it was a pretty funny, ironic word for her to mess up on, don't you agree? So now I love to say it properly whenever possible.)
lickety split
euonym - I like to spell and say this one exactly like Rebecca Sealfon, 1997 winner of the National Spelling Bee, and one of my personal heroes. If you didn't see this event on ESPN (?), and you've never heard the delightful Rebecca spell, you're seriously missing out. Knowing she was going to win (Poor Prem Trivedi. Yes, I'm such a nerd that I remember the name of the 2nd place finisher to this day), her victoriously screamed spelling of euonym, pausing after each shouted letter as though it were followed by a period, and her final superfast shriek of the complete word - coupled with her Molly Shannonesque arms in the air of triumph, was one of the all time greatest TV moments. EUONYM! E! U! O! N! Y! M!EUONYM!

Check out the following link, click on Articles, and then scroll down to the link labeled "A Video Clip of Rebecca in Action."

Priceless, I tell you. Priceless. Rebecca Rulz. Oops. I mean Rules.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Reading is Fun!

What do we do once we've pulled all the books off the shelf?

We climb in, that's what!

(I really need to take care of some of those dust bunnies. Ew.)

Check out R2D2 lurking in the background. Creepy!

Red State Vegetarians. Represent.

Right now I'm boiling a HUGE vat of seitan for Andy, Simon, and Charlotte. (Ethan and I still retain our meat-eating ways, in small doses.) I was thinking about yesterday, in class, when I happened to mention in passing, prompted by the subject of one of our poems, that my kids are vegetarian. One of my students (remember - young) couldn't stop herself from exclaiming in an aghast tone, "You don't feed your babies meat?! But they have those little meat baby foods!"

I sighed inwardly and explained the whole family situation (2 meat-eaters, 3 non), and how grossed out I was by those little meat baby foods because they so precisely resemble, in both odor and texture, cat food. So I didn't even feed those to my meat-eating child when he was a baby. I also explained that the large majority of the world's population is vegetarian, whether through economic hardship, religious observance, or cultural norms.

I was reminded of the first week of Simon's preschool, when I mentioned offhandedly to his teacher, who has known me and my family all my life - in fact she taught my now 33 year old brother - that Simon didn't eat meat, so at Thanksgiving when they hand out chicken nuggets to all the kids at snack time, or when they do fish sticks as a tribute to the loaves and fishes (it's a church preschool), I will bring a vegetarian version for him. Later she approached me all sweaty and shakily nervous, tentatively and conspiratorially whispering, "Now... how deep are you into it?"

"How deep are you into it?" Are you kidding me? It's not a freaking cult!

My mom still has reservations, and just a weird vibe about the whole thing, even though she tries her VERY best to make sure we're accomodated on family outings and at holiday dinners.

My student just couldn't BELIEVE it! How could I not give meat to my children?! And here I seemed like such a good, caring mom!


I think a large part of it is that we are in the Bible belt. In a big old red state. My husband says that when he was a small child, he was called a Satan worshiper. A SATAN WORSHIPER, for crying out loud! Someone said this to a small child? For not eating meat?! What on earth?! I seriously just do. not. get. it.

I really hope that doesn't happen to Simon. I'm not worried about Charlotte. I think she will just pelt anyone who dares to question her with falafel and tabouli, and then laugh at them. But he's a little more sensitive, like his big brother.

What is wrong with people in this state? WHAT IS SO SCARY ABOUT VEGETARIANISM?!

Shameless Plug

This is a shameless plug.

One of my long-ago, and rather recently rediscovered sister-friends now lives out in LA and makes the absolutely MOST adorable little girl tutus and peasant skirts for girls and grown up ladies. She sells them in boutiques, and via this website:

She gave Charlotte the tutu at my shower, and it promptly was displayed on the shabby chic peg rack in a position of prominence. It is just that decorative. As of yet, I can't put it ON Charlotte, lest she pluck the fanciful daisies off the tulle for an afternoon snack. But we're ALMOST at that stage, and I can't wait! O, the photos!!!

The purple skirt is 12-18 months, so... any day now, once Lottie-Lula decides to grow just enough more to move from eensy-weensy-teensy, to just eensy-weensy. The orange skirt you can't see properly, but there are little bitty spiral lollipops, and whimsical duckies in the print. So CUTE! It's a 3. So we'll be hanging onto that one for a while. I originally bought it for my niece, but then I just kept looking at it, and finally I couldn't part with the utter darlingness of it. Sorry Annabelle! Heh.

For my funky, 5th-grade-teaching sister-in-law, I purchased a vertically rainbow striped number that went down quite well on the first day of school, with a nice white tee and a denim jacket. She loves it.

The little pink hat was a shower gift from Dana's mom. She knitted it herself. The whole dang family is awesome and crafty. Anyway, I just had to network just a titch for my galpal. You go, Dana, with your mad sewing skillz!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

My Little Guy

This is the stink.

No, not the child! That's Simon!

See that yellow and white monstrosity in his lap? The stink.

The stink goes everywhere, but it particularly enjoys the kitchen floor, the bathroom floor, the mini-van floor, and Simon's pillow.

For a while, I thought the stink might fall by the growing-up wayside, but with Charlotte's arrival, Simon decided he is actually still pretty little. In fact, he gets younger every day!

He has been going through some major middle child issues recently. Poor little guy. He misses those days when Ethan was at school and it was just the two of us. So do I, now that I really think about it. He was my extra especially-specially best friend. We liked to listen to They Might Be Giants and cook. Simon's a whiz in the kitchen. Sometimes we would watch Martha. We love Martha. His little pointy nose just makes me insane. It's so perky and swoopy! And soft! And those big hazel eyes! Mesmerizing! Mine is a squeeny-eyed family, so those big ones really amaze me. I have no idea how that pointy-nosed, big-eyed, elfin creature came out of me. We would always spend a portion of the morning dancing. And we also loved snoogling on the couch and making up silly rhymes in Boris & Natasha-esque quasi-Russian accents... I miss that.

Charlotte just demands SO much attention, what with the digging through the kitchen trashcan like some deranged bag lady, winging coffee grinds and banana peels over her shoulder in her quest for something really tasty. Or dismantling every tabletop pictureframe within reach, in order to better munch on the glass. Or climbing hastily constructed, teetering towers of toys... Heading for the basement stairs...

Andy and I have been making an effort to really make sure Simon gets some intense one-on-one time with each of us, every day. Wrestling. Made up stories and silliness. Fireworks on the back porch. Maybe bicycling to the park. It's not always easy. But look at that face! Must squish and smoosh! Irresistible!

Except for the stink. Its days are numbered.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Economic Grudge

I'm starting to get concerned. I mean, I know I'm getting older and everything, but my students are really... young. And I don't mean just chronologically young, although they are seeming, for my commuter university, to be more and more traditional (read: 18).

This semester in particular, they are just so... uninteresting! And I know I have no art students this semester, so that dampens things a titch, but still, there are usually a handful of the regular looking kids who have some spunk and dynamism. But no. This new crop of kids seems to have NO breadth of life experience, nothing to say, and no particularly obvious desire to grow, broaden, or mature. They have no spirit - no rebellion in them. Geez. They are SO white-bread bland. Seriously!

Is it the educational system? Are we just blandifying everyone? Is it too much passive receptiveness to tv, and other media? Is it too much State Fair food? Is it their parents? Who ARE their parents anyway? Are they THAT much more conservative? Is it Indiana? Is it the red-state-ness? What has benumbed our teenagers?! And why are they so dang complacent about it?!

Also: they are pitifully read. Meaning, they haven't read ANYTHING worthwhile in school. Or on their own, either. Except maybe _Harry Potter_. Their knowledge base is just frighteningly narrow.

The other day, we were reading a Billy Collins poem that contained an allusion to that old saying about angels dancing on the head of a pin. You know it, right? How many?

Well, these kids had NEVER heard that before, in any context whatsoever. THEN, when I tried to compare it (as a philosophical question) to the tree-falling-in-forest-does-it-make-a-sound dealie, they had never heard of that EITHER!!! What the...?! Why don't they know these? Total blank stares. No clue.

So there's that, and then there are these, like, 24 year old moms with three little kids I keep seeing at the playgrounds who chat about homeschooling, using ridiculously poor grammar in the process, mind you, who then climb into their GIANT SUVs and tool home to their ginormous McMansions in the brand new beige neighborhoods in the exclusive suburbs on the North side. What is with these Nascar-loving, mega-church attending, sketchily-educated, red-state conservative, ludicrously YOUNG couples? HOW do they have so much freaking MONEY? Where are they working? Well, the women aren't working, so what the freak are the sole bread-winner men doing that they are making enough money to finance the elephantine automobiles and brand new 4 bedroom houses? Is there some secret network that is financing the growth and abundance of these people?

I seriously do not get it. My husband and I are riDIculously super-educated, and we are originally from nice, upper-middle class, professional homes (I'm ignoring the dysfunction for a moment because it's irrelevant to this discussion), but we can BARELY make ends meet. We live in a teeny little house in a marginal neighborhood, and sometimes it's a struggle to get gas, milk, and bread. I know I don't work, but NEITHER DO THOSE BE-PERMED, HOMESCHOOLING WOMEN! AND THEY CAN'T EVEN SPEAK PROPERLY!!!

What is going on? And it's not just us. My well-educated brothers and their wives are in only a slightly larger boat than we are, and it's because both spouses work.

I see my bland, uninspired students and the WAY young, narrow-minded, beige neighborhood McMansionites as somehow related. But I'm not sure how. I don't have all the pieces yet.

I think it's some kind of vast, bland-wing conspiracy.

Josie & The Pussycats, Here We Come

Girlfriend is totally going to be the drummer in an all-girl rock band some day.

Check out that technique!

Monday, September 12, 2005

I Got the T-Shirt!

I just returned from taking my 14 year old niece to see GreenDay.

What a fanTAStic show! They RULE! I had such an awesome time. SO. GREAT.

First, because it reminded me of myself. That is, it reminded me of who I am, and what I love, and gave me a chance to don the fishnets and vamp lipstick and strut around and get back in touch with my roots. Man... I love dancing around maniacally, with the sound waves of a really loud rock show vibrating through my bones. Also: I got checked out by a couple of kids. KIDS! Cute little spiky haired, skinny-jeans-wearing boys who couldn't have been more than 20. Score!

Second, because I will now always have the memory of my VERY conservative (parroting my brother, mostly), shy, and modest niece, who once got so mad at me for bitching about George W. that she burst out in angry tears, COMPLETELY ROCKING OUT, jumping up and down and pumping her fist in the air for 2 1/2 hours, while the friendly little punk band screamed out obscenities, defamed our president, and encouraged rebellion.


Sigh. Good times.

She is only beginning to realize the treasure trove of an aunt she's got. While I've been waiting for her to achieve puberty for YEARS. I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of them. Heh Heh Heh...

Reason #677 Why I Love Andy

Yesterday I opened the shower curtain to the most sinister, evil looking spider I've ever seen. Eeeeek!

Bear in mind that I'm a famous spider-lover and rescuer, having once scraped an entire Charlotte's Web of baby spiders one by one off of my bathroom ceiling, into a cup, to be released outside to live out their spidery lives.

But this one was seriously frightening. It JUMPED at me. It skittered. It was HUGE! It looked like a Brown Recluse. It was too dangerous to try to trap and release. It needed to meet its maker.

So I decided to call in the big guns.

Poor Andy.

He was just as scared as I, but also, absolutely MISERABLE about having to snuff the spider. Every once in a while he busts out his inner Buddhist monk, all respecting all creatures and stuff. He brought in the Spider Spray (couldn't bear to smoosh it), and, practically on the verge of tears, he gingerly and agonizingly coated the jumpy, bristling, leggy bundle of venom, until it was no more.

I attempted to lighten the mood and tease him a little bit, calling him my heroic dragon-slaying knight and whatnot, but he got all imaginatively sympathetic on me, encouraging me to try to think about what it must be like - just going about my business, and then being approached by a titanic creature wielding a suffocating, fatal aerosol can.

So sweet. Poor dear. He's not always the most sympathetic person, particularly with me. But that pointy, poisonous insect passed on with the prayers of my darling, whimsical Andrew to wing him on his way.

I heart him.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


So I just got the husband and the two youngest out the door, on their way to the Children's Museum this morning, and I'm starting to clean up the breakfast dishes, with the morning news on in the background. And I turn around to empty the high chair tray into the trash can, and the screen catches my eye, because they're doing a story about the New Orleans pets.

And once again my heart is split open like a melon and the tears are instant.

The shot is a close-up on a frantic, rough-looking, white-haired, bearded man sitting on the ground waiting for the pet rescuers to open a small doggie crate. The door opens, and 3 small dogs, like chihuahuas, bound out, and the man catches one of them, a runty little mousy brown thing, and he just LOSES. IT.

He's crying full-out like a child and cradling this runty little creature like it's his baby he thought was dead. He can barely choke out thank yous to the rescuers between his sobs.

And I lose. it. Standing there in the messy kitchen in my husband's sweatshirt at 9:30 on a Saturday morning, clutching the remnants of my baby's breakfast to my heart watching this man, who the newscasters inform me has lost everything, reunite with this most beloved little living being. The truth of that moment, the intense and beautiful truth of that man's sorrow and relief and joy, has stopped me in my tracks.

People. Sometimes I love you.

Friday, September 09, 2005


[Homer] Mmmmmmmm..... Electricity...... [/Homer]

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Familio-Academic Grudge

I had an unsatisfying conversation with my mom today, and it brought up something that happened a couple years ago that, while really brief, was nonetheless devastatingly disappointing.

A couple of years ago I was finally writing my Master's Thesis on Bapsi Sidhwa, a Pakistani author who wrote _Cracking India_. I was working out a new paradigm for interpreting the novel, based upon my understanding of key elements of "The Ramayana." Defending Bapsi from Western feminists who were starting to snark at the novel for being not feminist enough. I was trying to assert that if we view the novel through the proper cultural and artistic lenses, we gather a fairer comprehension of Sidhwa's achievement. Sort of a post-colonial feminist criticism, grounded in folklore. If you will. Ahem.

Anyhoo... I was REALLY ragged out. Totally sleep deprived and, I think, a little hormonally imbalanced after Simon. He never slept through the night until he was 2 years old. NEVER. And that does something to you. And I never could work on my work until after he and Ethan went to bed. So I was constantly up all night, every night, grading (I had to keep teaching so I could make money to keep Ethan at school), lesson-planning, reading, and thesis-writing. I was so lonely in those long, quiet hours while everyone else slept. And I was SO teetering on the brink of fatigue-induced insanity it's not even funny.

Finally though, I finished my first chapter, and had gone over it with my thesis advisor, and I was, I have to say, pretty dang proud of myself. It sounded alright! Good even! So I, ever the approval-seeking wayward child, drove right over to show it to my mom. BIG mistake. I paced around while she began reading through it. After about a page and a half, she turned to me, disbelieving and confused, running her hand across the type, and asked, "YOU wrote this?... All by yourself? These are... YOUR words?"

And not in an "I-can't-believe-how-brilliant-my-daughter-is-I'm-so-stunned-by-pride" sort of a way.

In a "There-is-no-way-my-disappointing-failure-to-live-up-to-her-potential-daughter-wrote-this-very-intelligent-stuff" sort of a way.

The difference is quite remarkable, and breathtakingly unmistakeable. Like between a caress and a punch.

Here's how beaten down by her belittling assessments of me I had become:

1) Rather than raging defensively as I would have done once upon a time, instead I quietly removed the sheaf of papers from her grip, and merely answered, "Yes - all by myself Mom."

2) I gave up on my second chapter about 2 pages in - after a manic depressive, sleepless night all alone, freaking around the associate faculty office at school, nauseated and physically unable to type another word about my subject.

3) I went home and had escapist sex with my husband.

4) I got pregnant.

5) I essentially dropped out of grad school 3 thesis chapters shy of finishing, after straight As and the euphoria of discovering my true vocation (teaching literature).

6) I now have Charlotte instead of a thesis.

Pretty much a fair trade off. Not that I don't daily manage the grudge against my mom and the grudge against myself for being unable to withstand the withering effects of her inability to believe in my ever achieving anything academically. And my subsequent proving her exactly right by leaving off.

I'm still teaching. I still kick ass at it. I'm a natural. No lie.

It's just that every day that Master's degree gets further and further away from me, and I'm stuck right here in the limbo of my own making.

I'm pretty happy in my underachieving world. I'm a damn good mom. But still.

This one really gets to me sometimes.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Charlotte Chow

Guess who?

You thought I was joking that she is a kitty.

This is a tasty snack for Miss Charlotte.

Her preferred path of destruction is as follows:

1) Open glass stereo door and pull out all cds. Chew on remote. Push buttons until something makes noise.

2) Throw all books off of coffee table onto ground. Slide around on them.

3) Pull all books out of hall bookshelf. Reveal peculiar fascination with Brave New World and Siddhartha by repeatedly attempting to remove their covers. Succeed with Siddhartha. (Is this a mark of distinction or disdain?)

4) Make way to glass-fronted china cabinet. Bang on glass. Laugh. Repeat.

5) Attempt to reach cat food and/or water. Mmmm...

6) Is the bathroom door open?

7) Any poison-containing cabinets I can reach?

8) See if I can brain myself with the heavy brass fireplace implements.

Up until this child, I had never, with the exception of one baby gate because of stairs, bothered with any kind of baby-proofing. I like to say that if people would just watch their children, and say no and/or redirect when the kids are mischief-making, then the whole baby-proofing industry would just go up in smoke. That's just for lazy parents, right?

Well this is what I get. An adorable, hilarious little cat-food snacking, book-despoiling, cd chewing, poison-seeking, glass-obsessed, toilet-fishergirl.

Felinus Halloweenum

Our lovely Spooky sits serenely, on her favorite perch. She reminds me very much of Amy. Her birthday is on Oct. 31st. She is MOST lovable indeed.

Ye Olde Grudge

Once upon a time, when I was just a wee grudgeling, I had a kitten named Amy. She was a lithe, frisky, dainty lass, and I loved her with all my heart. She was just a little grey, striped tiger, but she was sweetness itself.

Now in this olde tyme, I also worked in the land of civil servitude, specifically the fiefdom of the evil petty despot tyrant, Mr. Billy Crowe, otherwise known as the municipal probation office. Now Mr. Billy Crowe was in wont of a receptionist/secretary, and in my 19th year, I typed 90 words a minute and was in wont of a job. And so I came to the fiefdom in good faith, and in a good mood.

Alas! This was not to last.

For the wicked Mr. Billy Crowe despised instantly anyone who was not a despoiled, bitter old hag or withered, impotent old curmudgeon. But he most especially loathed intelligent, cheerful, efficient, merry, youthful lasses, who would clearly go on to a life more meaningful and expansive than that he lived in his puny, dark fiefdom. Ridiculous, hateful little martinet.

Daily, unaware of the depths of Mr. Billy Crowe's hatred of my youth and promise, I speedily typed up all assignments, greeting clients and answering phones in the friendliest of manners, and gradually caused all the bitter, withered old employees of ye olde probation department to re-learn how to smile and joke.

And lo, Mr. Billy Crowe's abhorrence of me grew.

But, because I was the best of employees, there was nothing about which he could legitimately complain. He resorted to waiting for me to go to the water fountain in the hall, or to the restroom, and he would follow me into the hall to chastise me for deserting my post.

I was a merry lass, however, and, unaware of the wretched Mr. Billy Crowe's seething desire to squash the life out of me, I merely laughed off this silliness, and secretly drew little hilarious cartoons on the back of pink message sheets of this cranky personage, engaged in various ludicrous chastisements of all the employees. Which I then circulated amongst the other employees, much to their amusement. And yea, they loved me more, thereby causing Mr. Billy Crowe's hatred to balloon astronomically.

And then it happened. One morning after letting her outside for a romp, I discovered my precious kitten Amy broken and crumpled, but alive, on the back porch. Knowing that I couldn't be late to work, my significant other at the time agreed to ferry my darling girl to the vet, and to report to me of her condition. I later received a phone call that nothing could be done, and she was suffering greatly, and must be relieved of her pain and put to sleep.

Overcome by sorrow, I went to Mr. Crowe's office and begged to be allowed to leave, so that I could go be with my baby kitten as she drifted off to peace.

And such were the depths of the terrible Mr. Billy Crowe's inexplicable hatred of me, and desire to exact revenge upon me for being younger, smarter, happier, and more lovable than him that he decreed that if I left to bid goodbye to my darling Amy, I should be out of a job.

I should have walked out on that dark and sinister man. But I was young and, as always, unable to express outrage and stand up for myself. So I stayed at my desk and wept all day long. While Amy died without me.

This is one of my longest held grudges. The memory of it cuts me still.

Over the years I was transferred to other kingdoms in the land of civil servitude, but once I came back to the petty fiefdom for a visit to cheer the withered and the bitter, and Mr. Billy Crowe emerged from his cave-like office to berate me for visiting his desmesnes, threatening to call my new master to give me trouble for leaving those premises. I let Mr. Crowe know that my genteel new master knew I was visiting, and had bestowed upon me his blessing. Mr. Crowe was so enraged by this that he could do nothing but quiver and turn on his heel and hie back unto his cave. Something in me snapped and I followed him with great haste, and as he tried to slam his door in my face, I shoved my foot in the way so the door would not close. HA!

But I was so inexperienced with righteous rants in my youth, that I could say nothing except that I was very sorry he was such a wretched, bitter man, but he wouldn't infect me with his misery or intimidate me with his blustering any more.

A minor step towards the victorious revenge I have imagined almost every day in the 16 years since. Much have I thought on him, and much have I wished for him to suffer agonies untold. DIE, MR. CROWE, DIE! KITTEN HATER!!!

The end of the story has yet to be written. Perhaps writing the story will facilitate its end. Perhaps the writing of the story IS the end. We shall see. We shall see.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

No Grudge Today... Crushing Instead

Last night I fell in love - well lust - um... both, sort of - with Gene Kelly.

As I was flipping through the channels trying to find something to fall asleep to, I came across an incredibly beautiful balletic dance number in the middle of "Singin' in the Rain." I just sat there mesmerized.

Gene Kelly is HOT!!

Why did I never notice that before? That was a MAN, people! He was so graceful and elegant and freaking masculine all at the same time. The way he moved... le pant, le pant.

And then, this morning, on the Today Show, did you SEE Harry Connick Jr.? Did you see that man?

He's doing his little report for Katie and Matt, on location in New Orleans, touring his dad's flooded neighborhood in a little boat, and somebody sees an old, naked man just sitting on a porch in a daze, all alone. So Harry goes to him and brings him a shirt and freaking picks him up and CARRIES HIM LIKE A LITTLE CHILD across the water to the boat, to take him to safety, all the while expressing no shock or dismay - just talking to the man with matter-of-fact care and neighborly assistance. He spoke to that man as though he were in a three piece suit, and thereby helped him to retain his dignity.

That was such a beautiful thing I just saw, I have been moved to tears once again. Harry Connick Jr. is my new imaginary boyfriend.

Along with Gene Kelly.

Let's all appreciate the warm, dignified, elegantly athletic, gracefully masculine men amongst us, shall we? They are rare. And they are aMAzing.