Wednesday, May 31, 2006

ballet moms

Okay, I've seen a lot of different kinds of Bay Area mommies in my mommy life: preschool mommies, working mommies, gymnastics mommies, swimming lesson mommies, playground-frequenting mommies, breastfeeding mommies, etc..., and I can relate to all of them to some extent... but the one group I cannot fit into is ballet mommies.

My God, it is so freaking scary to be around the mothers at Iris's ballet school. First off, what they drive: Mercedes SUVs, Lexis SUVs.. One of them drives a new Porsche Cayenne SUV with an out-of-state tag, making it clear that she is not about to pay Calif. sales tax on the damn thing.

Second, the ballet mothers are the only group of mothers I've seen who do not wait on the premises for their daughters. I've told this to my other mommy friends, and they freak out at the thought. "They leave? They don't wait? But what if something happens?" They double park their expensive SUV's, drop off their daughter, and take off.

Thirdly, my God, how they dress. It's like they're extras from a "Sex and the City" episode. Mothers tottering around in Manolo Blahniks and size two pants. One mother always wears a fur vest (yes, it's real fur). Anton told me that if I wanted to buy new clothes to wear to Iris's ballet lesson, it's okay by him, but I refuse to be that neurotic.

Next, they don't let their daughters horse around. One mother, the fur wearing mother, told her daughter not to sit on the floor (which is spotless) because she might get her leotard dirty. I let Iris do whatever she wants that's not physically dangerous, which includes rolling around on any floor. Iris gets her clothes dirty every day; that's what washing machines are for.

And finally, they are such freaking snobs. I fit in okay at every other mommy situation I go into; I have a blast at gymnastics & swimming hanging out with the other mommies. But at ballet, I cannot break the ice with these moms (one exception to that rule, and one only). The fur-wearing one gave me a long, measuring stare and then looked away the last time I tried to start a conversation with her (I guess my flats and my sweatshirt disqualified me socioeconomically from holding a conversation with her). That's okay by me in the long run: I don't need any furwearing control freak friends, but I do like to be civil and pass the time when I'm hanging out in these situations.

One mother was blocking the way into the changing area, crouching on the floor near the doorway, and I said nicely, "Excuse me." Then I asked Iris to please hurry up changing because I was in a rush, and this mother CORRECTED ME to my own daughter, saying that I was not in a hurry and didn't need to rush, in a rude tone of voice with a rude stare at me. Excuse me, I am the boss of my own whereabouts and timetable, and I don't need to be corrected in front of my own child. I suspect she may have thought I was "just the nanny", given that I wasn't sporting Jimmy Choo's or Manolos, but no nanny should be addressed such a way, either.

I'm not the only mother I know who quails at these ballet mothers. My friend Kathy took her daughter out of ballet because she couldn't handle "those scary mothers." Even Iris's second ballet teacher feels that way (Iris takes two ballet classes): she is putting on performances with her current crop of tiny ballet dancers because, as she confided in Anton, "It's not the girls; this is the only group of parents I've had in years that I can do this with."

Where do these women come from? Why are they like that?

Then there's the Poor Little Rich Girl, who doesn't come with a freaky mother, but instead comes with a retinue of two surly nannies, who never speak to her and sit there glowering when the P.L.R. Girl holds a conversation with me (which she always does, poor little thing).

And don't get me started on the megabuck ballet costumes these little girls wear. Let's just say that you may not realize there is a special store in the Marina which sells small child tutus which often cost over $100 apiece (no, I have not bought one).

my last vacation: Panama, where I should be now.

Due to the cost of speech therapy, it would appear I will not be vacationing this year (apart from a week in a cabin at Camp Mather). I've been thinking about my last real vacation, which was a little over two years ago and utterly fabulous. Iris and I often discuss it, and frivolously I always buy Panama Canal brand ravioli in memory of our trip to Panama.

On the actual day of departure, I told Anton that if he didn't want to go, we could just stay home. (He'd been complaining about dreading the trip). We went. The trip there was not too bad w/the kids, as we took a redeye to Miami and they slept, but then we had a 4 hr layover in Miami (from 3-7 AM our time) which was exhausting.

We had no trouble once in Panama City, as everyone at the airport was friendly and helpful, and we took an hour-long cab ride into the heart of the Canal Zone, where there is a hotel in the middle of nowhere (the Gamboa Rainforest Resort). Gamboa is a gorgeous hotel with a lot of artistic touches, with this magnificent panoramic view of the river feeding into the canal and the hills, with no other buildings in sight. Just a huge, huge view of unspoiled jungle. We had a private balcony with a hammock, and there is nothing more relaxing than reading a book in a hammock and pausing to enjoy the view and listen to the birds.

One of the waiters was quite taken with Iris and Lucy, and he constantly brought them little cups of hot chocolate at meals. There were very few children at the resort, but the staff were highly congenial with ours.

The Canal Zone is one of the world's few remaining really large, fairly pristine rainforests. The reason is that when we controlled the canal, we forbade development of the area as we didn't want the canal disturbed or threatened, and now, after we've pulled out, the scientists have figured out & convinced Panama that the rainforest is needed to maintain the canal. A monstrous amount of water is needed to supply the locks, and the rainforest naturally collects and holds that water. So as there is an economic reason to preserve the rainforest, it will most likely be preserved, and Panama is the home to a couple of scientific institutes studying the jungle.

Gamboa had a nice swimming pool, with a swim-up bar in part of it, and the kids loved spending a huge amount of time down there. I always wanted to have a drink at one of those bars, but I decided they aren't such a good thing after noticing this guy who drank a whole pitcher of beer but never got out of the pool to go to the bathroom. We brought fins and water wings for Iris, and all she wanted to do was play in the pool. Lucy was also crazy about being in the water and insane for waddling around in Iris's flippers.

I got up and took an early morning birding tour, as we were near one of the world's most famous birdwatching places, Pipeline Road (a road put through the jungle to lay a pipe to supply the canal with petroleum, now no longer used as a road or for a pipeline, but controlled by the Smithsonian Institute to study the rainforest). It's so funny because around dawn, this area is swarming with earnest people in khaki shorts with binoculars. It was a good time of year to do this, because so many migratory birds are still wintering in Panama. We walked for about 2 hours, and we saw a ton of birds. The group was a bit tense and anxious, as well as the guide, until we succeeded in finding a toucan, after which there was a post-coital relaxation feeling in the air. The tension had grown, as we heard toucans but couldn't find them and then saw a toucan's butt in some growth before it got away, but if you don't see the bill, you don't feel fulfilled. At last we saw a Swainson's toucan, the rainbow-billed one like the cereal box, and it was gorgeous. Me and a dozen aging New Yorkers stood around, gazing happily with slack jaws through binoculars. The guide told us that toucans don't build their own nest, they murder another bird to take over that bird's nest, but the group's love and admiration for the toucan was unfazed.

We also, as a family, got a boat to take us out into the canal and along some little islands to look for wildlife, and we saw a family of capuchins, a caiman, sloths, a lot of iguanas, birds, etc... That was a really fun trip for us. It was just all in a day's work for our boatman, who located the capuchins for us by signaling another boatman and asking him in Spanish, "Where are the shit monkeys right now? I need to find some shit monkeys." (I didn't embarrass him by revealing that I understood Spanish).

The resort also had a few little free activities each day, and we took a guided nature walk where we saw a chestnut-mandibled toucan, which I found funny as we ran into it quite easily, while on the paid birding tour we had to slave to find one.

It was mindboggling hot and humid, but the beautiful surroundings, the lavish food, the lovely hotel setting, the pool made it relaxing. After several days in the Canal Zone, we flew up to the Bocas del Toro province on the Caribbean side. We were reluctant to leave the C.Z., as we loved it there, but our hotel was full up and we had no choice.

To cope with my fear of flying, exacerbated by having to take a small, commuter-type airplane on a minor foreign carrier, I took so many Ativan I felt like I was going to drool. This was very helpful, as the tiny airports were so slooooow moving and roastingly hot that I fit right in. It takes forever to get anything done in Panama, such as checking in for a short flight, and being drugged to the gills helps as long as you don't fall down.

It turns out that I can still speak Spanish, despite having let my skills atrophy for years (I studied in Madrid as an undergraduate and came home fluent).

We flew into the small city of Bocas del Toro, on Isla Colon, and then took a 45 minute boat ride out to Isla Bastimentos, a large island in the Caribbean with almost no one living on it. No phone, no internet, no television, no air conditioning. There is a small, small Indian village at one end of the island, which we didn't see, and a small number of hotels along the beach. We stayed at the Al Natural Resort, which is composed of a small number of buildings made out of native materials, with palm-thatchedroofs, no air conditioning, very rustic. There are six huts, which have no front wall and are open to the beach, and have partial walls on the other sides. The owners had a little net tent for Iris and Lucy to sleep in. The huts are spectacular and charming; they manage to make mosquito netting look romantic (long sweeps of gauzy netting curtaining big, soft beds). The beach was unbelievable, with silky sand and warm, warm water. The food was amazing, seafood, fruit and vegetables with a gourmet twist (for example, in a nod to some Japanese guests, one evening we had fish with a wasabi cream sauce). The meals were included and were served to everyone as a group at set times, with no choice or menu. Unbelievably, as I am one of the world's pickiest eaters, I ended up cleaning my plate at every meal.

I tried sea kayaking for the first time and did a lot of it, but the water is so calm there that it was more like lake kayaking or even swimming pool kayaking.

We only had booked two nights stay at this hotel and then had to leave, as it was prebooked for a night, but we so loved it, we arranged to come back after one night away. We then took a boat to Isla Carenero and checked in at another resort, which I ended up disliking (we stayed in a weird little house mounted on a center stalk, and I constantly felt seasick because when anyone walked around, the whole house would sway and shift. If four year-old Iris can make a building bend by walking around, I don't think it's well-built). This island is a lot more developed. We did end up walking around much of the island, passing through a small town, and taking a boat over to Bocas town and exploring there, so it was interesting, but we were relieved to go back to the smaller, quieter island the next day.

When we were trying to hail a water taxi to go to Bocas town, we ended up picking our way across a raggedy pier which was in the process of being disassembled. There were rotten boards and missing boards, and we were trying to carry Lucy and Iris and sort of toss them down into the boat. I think this was the least safe thing I ever did as a parent, knowingly. A friend of mine at the time who was very safety-conscious and proper came into my mind, and I knew she would never, never have stepped onto that pier or allowed her child to go on it.

There's a restaurant far from any of the islands, thrown up on a few piers by a coral reef, famed for its snorkeling (you eat, drink, snorkel, then take a water taxi back to where you're staying). We went out there and Anton and I took turns snorkeling, and it was like a dream. I went into a daze; it was literally psychedelic. I was drifting over the reef, getting into the midst of schools of gorgeous fish. Unfortunately one person could snorkel while one person watched psycho Lucy and Iris (made psycho by the heat), plus and another, older kid, whose parents weren't paying attention to him and who glommed onto us, poor neglectorino. So one of us was in heaven, floating in perfect water and gazing at insanely weird and beautiful fish, while the other arbitrated the disputes of three small children and prevented them from drowning. Meanwhile, it was all in a day's work for our boatman, who properly sat apart from us with another boatman (although I invited him, in Spanish, to join us).

We were very sad when the time came to leave the Al Natural and its island. Iris said, "I want to live in Panama when I grow up." She wanted to either run a restaurant like the one at Al Natural or be a travel writer (I was interviewed by some visiting travel writers while there,who were working on a book about Romantic Panama).

For our last night & day in Panama, we stayed in Panama City, at some suites where we could launder some clothes to wear on the long flight home & get cleaned up. Anton went out and visited some casinos (Panama City is full of small casinos, also prostitutes; you can see the shipping influence; there is also a lot of poverty there, as well as a lot of fancy new skyscrapers). We had yet another fabulous meal at a nearby restaurant (I'm telling you, Panama is the land of great food). For our last morning, we got a cab to take us around, and we went out to the actual canal and watched a large ship go through the Miraflores locks. Once you get through the security (there's quite a bit post 9/11 security, as the canal seems an obvious target), you can sit in open-air stands with a view of a couple of locks, and there's a charming announcer giving a blow-by-blow of what's happening in English and Spanish. The process of closing the gates, filling them, floating the boats up, guiding them with little tiny trains, moving them into the next lock, and so on is oddly fascinating. I could have stood there all day and watched.

In general, Panamanians are very friendly to Americans. Giving the canal back bought us a lot of goodwill there. A couple of people mentioned to me that they thought the U.S. had been rather over-the-top in its bombing when capturing Manuel Noriega. The opinion seems to be that the U.S. was a bit of a drama queen and did unnecessary bombing to make the whole thing seem like a bigger deal than it was, but since we gave the canal back, they're willing to let it go. (it's so embarrassing to meet people who have personally been bombed by the U.S., especially when you can hardly remember that we did that).

I love Panama. It's now one of my all-time favorite places. I highly recommend it as a destination.

The one major thing we didn't do, that I would like to, was to stay in the mountains, in the Chiriqui province, where coffee is grown. It's supposed to be really beautiful up there. However, travelling with little kids is hard, they hate changing hotels, so you just can't cover as much ground (also with a significant other like Anton, who loves his work and hates to relax, you can't take too long a trip). Also, I would have liked to have stayed at a particular hotel in the Canal Zone which is built as a sort of tree-house, at canopy level, but for safety reasons, no children were allowed there. (Actually at many, many resorts in Panama, there is a rule against children, including at the one I disliked which we stayed at in Bocas. There I divulged we had children, and the resort broke its own rule in booking us in, but our kids were the only ones there).

My big success as a parent was that before leaving, I bought a bag of books and toys for the children, and I managed to keep it hidden and unrevealed until the long flight home. I had also, with Iris, packed a carry-on of toys and art supplies which was their official source of toys for the trip (I locked the secret toy stash in various hotel safes to avoid little prying hands). I knew the big challenge of the trip would be coming home, as there was no red-eye available, so I couldn't expect them to sleep, and little kids are not good at sitting still for half a day (our trip home was 12 hours, what with getting to the airport, flying to Miami, going through customs which was a ridiculous, crowded hassle, then flying to SF). "Why do you get me and Lucy such good presents, Mommy?" asked Iris. So you'll sit still and shut up, sweet little Iris.

Frowstomatic the Immortal God

Frowsty, my six year-old's fluffy, semi-psychotic black cat, has been deemed to be a god. Our home is now the center of a neo-Egyptian cat cult focused around a particular fluffy cat from the pound.

First Iris called Frowsty a king (other cats were dubbed the president and the mayor). But soon she decided that royalty wasn't grand enough for this particular cat. Soon he was called "Frowstomatic the Immortal God." Subsequently she asked my opinion as to what he was the god of, and I said, "Destruction. Wait, no. Fluffiness. Okay. Fluffy Destruction." So now he is known as "Frowstomatic the Immortal God, Fluffy Destruction." I hope his title doesn't get much longer.

Much later she decided our deceased cat, Butterball, is also an immortal god, but so far, the other cats, Al, Rachel, and Bob Marley, remain depressingly mortal. (They can take refuge in their lofty positions as mayor, governor, and president, respectively).

My child has been an atheist from age 3. (Sidenote: I do believe in God, but my husband does not). She caused a crisis of the faith in a Catholic child at her pre-k program; the other girl's mother told me her child's mind was completely staggered by the idea that another child could not believe in God. Once she stood on our front porch and screamed, "I HATE GOD! GOD IS STUPID!" Perhaps I should have handled it differently, but I said to her, "Honey, it's always a joy to hear you rant, but people will get very upset if they hear a little girl talk like that."

And now we have progressed to neo Egyptian cat worship, which I aid and abet by following her requests to refer to the animal as "the Immortal God" and "Fluffy Destruction."

My questions: Is she going to hell? With me? Or just me? And what about Fluffy Destruction?

the heartbreak of ringworm

This falls under the category of "no good deed goes unpunished." I catsat someone else's 3 foster cats over Xmas, and they were supposedly not contagious any more after recovering from ringworm. The next thing I knew, one of our cats and my three year-old had ringworm.

First, I bathed all the cats with antifungal shampoo, what an ordeal (Iris learned the word "motherfucker" from observing). We steam cleaned the carpets in the two carpeted rooms. The cat has four prescriptions, meanwhile, a pediatrician told me to just wash Lola with Dial soap (quack! I know from my skin troubles that Dial is the worst thing to put on a sensitive skin!).

There's a big sign posted at Lola's preschool, "A Child Has Ringworm." So the drama, as six year old girls say.

Punitive Anton wanted me to shave the cat & keep him in a crate, like it says to do on a handout I got at the vet's.

Next IRIS contracted RINGWORM! The poor girl burst into tears when I affirmed she had ringworm. Anton went into a cat-hate rage and said he wanted to "wring all the cats' necks" for upsetting Iris. I pointed out drily that murdering her pets would be much more traumatic than a touch of the old ringworm, but he did not take the point.

I had to notify her school that a child had contracted ringworm. This is low on the embarrassment scale, though, given that 2 kindergarteners have had lice and there's a 4th grader with pinworms. However, I managed inadvertently to make our beloved kindergarten teacher look foolish, as I notified the front office without first notifying her. The office efficiently notified all parents by email that A Kindergartener Has Ringworm. At the end of the school day, a wound-up parent asked the teacher about this, and the poor teacher, having not yet checked her email, said, "Oh, there's no ringworm. Don't worry!" She was embarrassed by this, and I later apologized profusely.

Finally, I developed ringworm, along with the remaining two cats. Only cat-hating Anton remained untouched.

At some point I got many calls & emails from my foster kitten rescue asking me to take in a ringworm-infested kitten. I was thinking it might be logical to go for it, seeing as how we already have the problem, but Anton got pretty pissy when the subject was raised.

Finally we managed to procure some hard-to-find sulfur dip, which was reportedly a magical, albeit disgusting, cure. We mixed up a bucket of foul smelling yellow liquid on our tiny back deck and dunked all of the cats in turn. Anton really enjoyed this, in a sick way. "I'm working out my anger at the cats," he smiled.

Now, six months after the initial infestation: I think the only way to rid my house of ringworm spores would be to burn it down and disinfect the ashes. The cats still intermittently break out in little ringworm lesions.

Things I Have Learned: ringworm is not a worm. It is a fungus. In humans, it usually infests the groin area, and it is often referred to as "jock itch." Some vets think that if an animal has ringworm, it should be shaved, yea, verily down unto the infested whiskers, and kepteth in a crate for two months for lo this is a mighty plague. Other vets think that's an overreaction and instead you should pay $500+ for a variety of meds and blood tests (because the animal's kidneys liver can be affected by the meds) instead. You can treat your animal by dipping it in a bucket of water that smells like rotten eggs, but no one wants to sell you the sulfur mix.

Nobody says that when a person has ringworm, they should shave their head and live in a crate for 2 months and bathe in sulfur.

Text messages

I often text my husband during the day. I dislike talking on the phone, and I hate to disrupt him, so I find email or text messages are an easy way for me to communicate (read: whine, beg or command).

I thought I'd browse through some old text messages I've sent him, and here's an array of them:

10/04 children screamed guts out at dr's. I feel resentful.
I feel I have to do too much of the hard, sucky parenting.


we're home early, no capoeira
I went to get Iris early, but she had a SKIRT on, so no capoeira.
on way home, get fizzy water AND lemons, please LOVE*

*obviously cocktails were on my mind.

10/04 pizza coming, good workday, Goose reunited with fave baby**

**So nice to read a happy one! We lost my toddler's favorite doll, and I searched for literally miles for it and recovered it. "Good workday" means that I worked a shift at Iris's co-op preschool without issues.

But oh no: six days later

burnt out on constantly repeating self, ferrying them, feeding them

And later that day, unwarranted optimism:

can you call at 4? I have insane fantasy we may nap, not very likely though

In my world, it's easier to text the husband than set the alarm clock.

please duck out at first opportunity
Lucy being huge pain, awful mess, my stomach hurts

Now here's a complete change of tone the next day:

hello, I would like to have sex with you. Love, your wife.


problem: how to make Iris dinner while holding Goose???
Goose v. sick all p.m., fussy clingy unhappy fever

And the husband can get text-happy when he's sitting in a long co-op preschool meeting. Here are my responses to some of his texts sent while he endured a lengthy debate as to whether the preschoolers would be allowed to bring energy bars in their lunches. Sadly, time has not preserved his side of this conversation:

did they mention Envirokids Rice snack bars?

no refined sugar.

what's so silly is they allow red meat (proven carcinogen).

Sugar is from a plant. It is not carcinogenic.

You can even buy orgnanic sugar.

I'll give you a blowjob if you argue strenuously pro sugar.


hurry home, lucy driving me mad
constantly slamming doors, rough w/kittens, kicking Iris

Lucy very fussy, feverish, extremely high maintenance.
Lucy time out, threw cat from bunkie top***

*** "bunkie" is the name given by Iris to the girls' bunk beds.

have you heard fr plumbers? ok for me to take Lola playground?

"No, MY daddy. DADDY. I NEED DADDY."-LOLA "My daddy." - Iya


7/05 This may be my favorite one ever:

Iris sez you care more about your sleep than Harry Potter.

1 red onion; 2 ripe avocadoes; 2 lg mangoes; 2 jalapenos, 1 lime, cilantro; chips
also milk & some mac & cheese mix thanks

That last text would have been one of the few which pleased the recipient, signaling the imminent preparation of his favorite salsa.

alert: I need to work at Burke's library Mon 12-2
so Lola needs ride to preschool. I can pick Lola up.
also, they have pediatrician Tues. pm after Burke's pick-up
This concludes our emergency calendar update broadcast.

As the day begins, I'm crisp and businesslike:

garbage disposal beyond repair.
Dennis will replace it next Tuesday.

Two hours later:
can you please get milk on way home? thanks, love
Rose here; children holding "butt parade"

But by 6:33 p.m., my nerves are fraying:




big one is feverish, little one is cranky; wish you were here

please call the children.

Lola was upset you weren't here to meet with Jill
she wanted you, not me, to go over the homework w/Jill

Jill is Lola's speech therapist.

children driving me frigging insane
I haven't been this tired since Lola was newborn.

children in bed (earlier than last night)

New magazine was under bunkie.
All hail wife, queen of finders.

my family crest

Iris's class did a big multidisciplinary unit on castles, and one project they did was designing family crests. Iris's was a shield divided into quadrants, with each labelled and illustrated: SOCCER, FAMILY, CAT, LUNCH.

I thought, "Yes! Those are values I can get behind. Soccer! Family! Cat! Lunch! That says 'Morrell!'" I'm so proud.

Incidentally, the illustration for "LUNCH" is an ice cream sundae.

I now get the deadly flu epidemic of the 1910's

I used to always think it was kind of a joke (sorry, not right way to word it) that so many people died back in the 1910s and 1920s with the flu, which seems like such a nothing.

Now I understand. I am never going to skip a flu shot ever again, for as long as I live Warning: graphic descriptions of grossness ahead.
I've spent the last week in agony, horking my guts up. Incredible headaches (comparable to what i experienced w/meningitis, and they used to give me morphine derivatives for that), epic vomiting (I never knew a person could hork so many times in one night), weakness of the whole body, chills --but with no noticeable fever, weirdly, disturbances of the visual field. The most weird thing: my eyeballs hurt. They really, really hurt. Sensitivity to sound, blah blah blah...

I learned that if you go to my doctor's in mismatched pajamas and a bathrobe, holding what is obviously a vomit bowl, they will take you to a special examination room where there is a bed, and they will put a blanket over you. Then Dr. Scott will send a nurse in to give you a shot to stop your vomiting before she does the exam. Also, Dr. Scott can only stop your vomiting, and that is all she can do. But then she will get your husband and tell him how to take you the secret back way and inform him to take you home BEFORE you go to get her prescription for more antivomiting meds filled.

I haven't taken a shower in over a week. I haven't sent an email in a week. (sorry extra gross ahead) I must have thrown up over 75 times before I felt strong enough to brush my teeth. I went several days without eating at all. I haven't felt well enough to read the newspaper or put on lipstick... things I normally freak out if I can't do.
There's not much worse than having to see the person who drives you the most insane (my mother-in-law) while you are lying on a couch, contacts out, face unwashed for days, teeth unbrushed for days (did I mention all that vomiting), and all you want in the world is for the pain to just stop. Oh, and I'm the most sober housewife around, not having had a drink in about a week and a half.

I've done nothing since last Wed. afternoon around the house (oh, unless you count that I wiped up a scary mess I made in the bathroom). Anton's starting to whine that he hasn't been able to do any work, but I just fixed him with an evil eye and said, "Don't you dare give me a guilt trip." There was no question in anyone's mind that he was going to have to stay home from work. The icing on the cake: Lucy had Coxsackie disease over the weekend, too.

I spent Wed. p.m. through Fri. a.m. lying on my bed, except with vomit breaks, until I was no longer able to rest, then move to couch A, then to couch B, then back to the bed, stopping only for vomit breaks. The worst was Thurs. night, when I threw up several times every half an hour all night.

My ambition tomorrow is to takea shower and wash my hair. This is the first day I've been able to get on my feet and do a few things, but I didn't get dressed, and I didn't feel steady enough on my feet to risk the shower.

This has honestly been worse than all but the first time i had meningitis. Anton, who has seen me through three surgeries and two wretched pregnancies, says it's the most sick I've ever been in the 10 years he's known me. He's convinced, oh tactful husband, that I must have a brain tumor, because there's just no way I could be this sick from the flu. Thank god I'm not a hypochondriac.

Anyhow, I now get it how people, like a friend's great-grandmother, died of flu back before they had anti-emetics. I'm never going to skip a flu shot again, (and yes, I do know that they are not guaranteed to work against the prevailing strain, but I'm not going to take any extra chances).
Anton did okay running the household, but he forgot about a birthday party which Lucy really wanted to go to. He didn't check the calendar I keep. He was unable to get much work done, but it was a holiday weekend, so that might not be so unusual.. Our poor rehabbing inmate moved into the garage because I was spending a lot of time on the couches with my vomit bowl. He seems to be happy down there, funnily enough.

Fuck, I never really had a world class flu before, but I'll never take it lightly again. Isn't flu season supposed to be over, anyhow?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

a mad scientist dupes a drunken housewife into her dubious scheme of global domination

Succubus (2004)
"Fresh from the looney bin after botching an experiement in her back alley sperm bank, a mad scientist dupes a drunken housewife into her dubious scheme of global domination by turning everyone into lesbians with a diabolical "Lezzy" ray. Only a class full of misfits and a mutant blob of sperm can save the day in this spoof of bad 1950's Sci-Fi and scream queen movies." Summary written by John T. Venturini, from IMDb website.

I have GOT to see this movie.

my to do list

Don't you love to do lists?

  • buy niece graduation present,
  • change air filters in heat ducts,
  • de-ringworm cats, (oh, the heartbreak and shame of ringworm)
  • vet appt for cat,
  • sell old toddler clothes,
  • sell theremin,
  • get rid of box of old clothes in bedroom,
  • sell ancient PFIQ magazines,
  • follow up on grading pay, dammit (I haven't been paid yet for work I did in Jan. and Feb),
  • check out camping gear for impending camping trips,
  • read to kindergarteners,
  • make a dentist's app't,
  • fill out and mail dental history forms to children's new dentist.

Check out this site for exotic to do lists:

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

what I'm reading

What I WAS reading was the new adult novel by Lemony Snicket, under his real name ("Adverbs" by Daniel Handler) but I am here to tell you: it sucks. Don't buy it. A rip-off. It's not really a novel; it's a bunch of short stories strung together, but they don't mesh together well. The clash between these "chapters" in a "novel" was so bad, I threw the book down in disgust and turned to "The Perfect Husband" by Lisa Gardner, a trashy serial killer novel which is one thousand times more engrossing and better crafted. (This led to one of those classic moments around my house, where I caught my daughter reading "The Perfect Husband" and I shouted, "Put that down! That is a grown-up book about serial killers! That is not for kindergarteners!").

Almost no one can do the I-wrote-a-bunch-of-short-stories-but-I-wanna-call-them-a-novel,-
not-a-collection-of-short-stories thing. The chick who wrote "A Girl's Guide To Hunting and Fishing", Melissa Banks, is the only person I think can pull that off without causing the reader to feel jerked around. For God's sake, just call it a fucking short stories collection and face up to the fact that your sales will be reduced, but don't call it a fucking novel if it doesn't have an overarching plot and structure.

What I read recently, with delight, was a pair of antique paperbacks by Richard Stark featuring the inimitable Parker. I'm hunting these old pulps down wherever I can find them (what bad luck to enter Kayo Books RIGHT AFTER another collector bought out all the Starks, and they never got any in since then).

Next up: a novel by Magnus Mills, who wrote perhaps the best book ever written about constructing electric fences, "The Restraint of Beasts."

a non-margarita tequila drink

"Black Dragon" from the Pink Adobe's Dragon Room, Taos (via the Wall St. Journal, home of many great cocktail recipes)

1 1/2 oz tequila
3/4 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz fresh lime juice (NOT Rose's Lime Juice, fresh squeezed!!)
1 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz creme de cassis

Shake all but the cassis with ice and strain into a salt-rimmed highball glass with ice. Float the cassis on top and let it sink without stirring.

the ministry of flirtation & other moments

For some reason I can't recall, I was thinking about an ex (not sure what to call this one, "boyfriend" doesn't sound serious enough for the relationship, but it didn't progress to any legal stages, although he did propose once, stupidly enough). I remembered the time he told me, with a straight face, that as a Christian he flirted outrageously with all the unattractive, ugly women he ran across and that he considered this to be his "ministry" and how he caused all these unwanted women to momentarily suffer the delusion that someone found them attractive. It was then that I was seized with the strengthening conviction that I needed to get this loser out of my life, forever.

I had a similar moment with a man (I hate to use that word for him, but he was too old to be a boy) I dated briefly when I was in college. My beloved roommate and I had gone to see "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" with him, and my roomie and I were trashing it afterwards (yes, I am aware that I am the only person in North America who didn't absolutely adore that movie). As soon as my roomie slipped off to bed, my date slipped into a rage he'd been holding back. He berated me for being a snob and thinking myself above mass culture, harangued me for maintaining a summa cum laude average in college ("You're the only one who hasn't figured out that GRADES DON'T COUNT!"), criticized my decision to wear shorts by saying my legs were too fat to be shown in public, and wrapped up by screaming at me that I was going to go to a newly released Rodney Dangerfield movie with him AND I WAS GOING TO LIKE IT, GODDAMIT. As I wiped the spit off which had flown off as he screamed about the Rodney Dangerfield movie, I knew absolutely that this relationship was over. Bizarrely enough when I broke up with this person, he was shocked and, hurt, said that he was planning to invite me to move in with him.

There was a similar, crystalline moment when I decided to divorce my first husband. I had finally prevailed upon him, after threatening divorce, to go into couple's counseling. We had a few sessions, but he refused to do the homework with me that the therapist assigned, and nothing was improving. The therapist asked him to keep a log of his emotional experiences for a week, and he quit couple's therapy. That wasn't as empowering a moment as the "ministry of flirtation" or the Rodney Dangerfield moments, but then again, it had been a long relationship with a lot of good moments in the past, and it was sad to end it.

I was in a lot of relationships, but I don't really remember any other moments of absolute clarity where I knew I was dumping the motherfucker pronto. I wonder if the men who dated me ever had such moments of clarity (I was more often the dumper than the dumped, but still, I got rejected at times). Would it be entertaining or would it be decimating to hear those moments described?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

month of beauty, food, etc...

I'm having a Month of Beauty these days, and by god, someone noticed today and said, "You look really beautiful lately, what is it?" "It's because I'm having a Month of Beauty!" I simpered.

Previously, February was my Month of Health, a rollicking success in which I ate sensibly, drank no alcohol whatsoever, and attempted to exercise regularly (somewhat thrown off by having the flu). This has inspired me to have other self-improvement theme months, and this month, shallow as it may seem, is the Month of Beauty.

For May 1, to kick it off, I actually wore striking and attractive clothing which caught the eye, rather than my usual ultra-casual mommy-on-the go outfits (my normal philsophy is that if they are clean, I'm wearing my baggy, low-cut camo pants, and if I'm in a very bad mood, my Charles Manson t-shirt). On Mon., it was a short, flirty skirt and a low-cut shirt revealing some aging tattooed cleavage. Today, I wore a cute shirt, again making more of an effort with the clothes. Perhaps I'll move on to actually doing something new, as opposed to just being less of a slob.

Dinner tonight: Sicilian food, from my vegetarian cooking of Sicily book (a gift from my mother-in-law, who would have thought she'd give me such a great cookbook). Fettucine with fennel, along with roasted beets (much better than the bare description sounds, sumptuous, succulent fresh beets roasted with fresh squeezed lemon juice, very good olive oil, thyme).

Events of the day: eh, nothing too thrilling, but a nice day. Swimming class with the little one, who was in a swimming mood and participated with vigor. We jumped up and down in the pool, and she hung onto the side while I showed off going underwater. Lunch with two interesting and articulate mommies and their very cute babies. Horrible supermarket outing with children (as smaller child reported with pride to her father, "I cried and cried"). The supermarket is going out of business and everything was reduced, so I stocked up on necessities like razor blades, moisturizer, and gin. I actually bought so much gin and tequila that it didn't fit in my little liquor cabinet, so I put a post-it note on the interior cabinet door stating, "5/06 GIN AND TEQUILA IN GARAGE. DO NOT BUY." Otherwise, I could see myself in a year or so screaming, "WILL SOMEONE RUN OUT TO THE STORE AND GET GIN?" while the garage surplus is left under a coat of dust for my heirs and assigns.

UPDATE: The month of beauty has been a farce. Just like the Month of Health, I have come down with some hideous flu. Today, I am resplendent in a fetish shop t-shirt and sock monkey pajama pants, no make-up, horribly broken-out skin, unbrushed hair, and bare feet. Talk about hot. Yesterday, not quite as sick but feeling crappy, I left the house wearing the bizarre combination of a funky brown paisley poet shirt with capri-length sweat pants because I had no energy to find better pants (I figured since I was going to Haight St., it would be okay). I need a pedicure. Plus, I'm really fat these days. Sigh.