Thursday, August 31, 2006

stop asking me!

Every day, various people ask me as I go about my drunken housewife way, "Are you going to Burning Man?" Ummm, here's a clue. If you see my ass in San Francisco, that means my ass is NOT at Burning Man. And there you have it.

(and a joyous burn to everyone who is at the Man this year without me)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Lola sings the blues

Not long ago, I was cooking, and Lola brought in her xylophone to the kitchen. "I will sing for you, Mama!" she said cheerily. (Lola, a clever girl, knows that her mother spends huge amounts of time slaving in the kitchen and feels resentful at times when no one comes in to visit her. I will cook forever, if I have only a good audience sipping a glass of wine and appreciating my food).

Then, brightly, she sang while accompanying herself, "Sometimes we don't like Mommy."

I interrupted her. "This is supposed to make me feel good?"

I actually wasn't offended; I was amused. It was so brilliantly passive aggressive. (I hate passive-aggressiveness, but yet in Lola it is so wedded with charm and intellect, that it's hard to be mad). Anton defended Lola/Lucy by claiming her song was "within the genre of authentic blues."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

the Kims, Ayun, and me

So I got started on this whole Ayun Halliday kick this summer due to my friend, Kim II, who nagged me strenuously through email to read "The Big Rumpus" ("Mama Lama Ding Dong" in the U.K.).

Kim II must be forever Kim II (sorry, Kim II) because Kim I has been my friend since high school. Kim I is the friend of my youth and remembers me when I was high maintenance hot chick (as another long-time friend waxed nostalgic once, "I remember you when you were a sexpot"). It's been hard for Kim I to maintain her friendship with me now that I am a scarily low-maintenance mommy, so slobby and distracted and out of touch with mass, non-childrelated culture, but let us give Kim I high marks for loyalty (plus she's just damn adorable).

What the Kims have in common is that they are both extremely witty and bright. Also, they share a deep love of theatre. Kim II is a playwright/dramaturge/actor/mommy. I met her online first, when we were both participating in what I call "the bitchy housewife boards." We joked about stalking each other (indeed, many participants on the bitchy housewife boards did indulge in recreational stalking of each other, breaking into online accounts and discovering mailing addresses, sending unwanted magazine subscriptions, etc...). I ended up going cold turkey on participating in that online world, as the bitchiness and drama were taking a toll on my personality, plus I was spending too much time on the computer. I was starting to address my husband in the same slangy, obscenity-laden way I typed on those boards, and unlike the other bitchy housewives, he was offended. So I had to quit. But by then, I'd met Kim II at a playground, where we eyed each other suspiciously (our children had relatively uncommon first names, so there was a moment of recognition due to calling out to the then-toddlers).

I love spending time with Kim II, because she makes me feel so much more articulate. Her mind sparks off mine, so she brings me to greater heights of achievement in the field of wit than I can otherwise pretend to. Alas, we fell out of touch when Kim II was writing a play and when I had my second child, and then Kim II furtively moved to Arizona. But we are reunited through email (I must engage in long-distance friendships with both my Kims). And this reunion involved quite a lot of nagging to read Ayun Halliday's works. So I did, and then after I somewhat dissed Ayun on my blog, Ayun responded within four hours (the internet is scary sometimes).

The reason Kim II was so insistent that I read Ayun was that she thinks that one of us should have written her book, "The Big Rumpus." I feel that Ayun's zine, "The East Village Inky", does sound a lot like me and Kim II. We sat around wittily dissecting sacred cows of motherhood in the same spirit, but we were also deeply committed to breastfeeding, raising our children, and being miserable at housekeeping. I asked Kim II what Ayun means to her, and she said, " I feel like my exact finite type is illuminated in her work....41...drama geek...two kids (daughter first son a few years later)...Jewish Atheist husband...dressed in a giant cartoon character costume for money...bad house keeper...extroverted artist agonizingly isolated by stay-at-home-mom status...dried cheerios on the place mat...obsessed by the castle cake from the betty crocker cook book for kids...It just goes on and on. In fact most of the time, I'm simply muttering, "Yes. Yes. Exactly." I just love a fearless writer. I love the dirty details."

I never realized before then that we both have Jewish atheist husbands, since Kim II's husband never ran around with a menorah, keeping kosher, or otherwise exhibiting his Jewish heritage. Similarly he never desecrated a cross or committed a heresy in front of me. My atheist Jew is shockingly clueless about Judaism (once I taunted him on Yom Kippur, saying, "What day is it? What day is it?" "I dunno, some kind of Jew day?" he responded). Yes, those atheist Jews make fine husbands, although sometimes I feel my children are missing out on getting a Jewish heritage. I'll have to pressure Kim I into hooking up with some atheist Jews.

Friday, August 25, 2006

exercises in sleep deprivation

I am deeply, horrifically sleep-deprived to the point of cognitive impairment, and for once, my children are not to blame. Even my chronic insomia is not the problem. Every night, hell breaks loose around here.

A couple of nights ago, my husband awakened me around 2:00 AM to inform me that the cat known as Frowsty the Immortal God was killing a bird downstairs and it was my job to deal with it. Exhausted, I stumbled down to find Frowst with a beautiful little dove, Frowst looking as happy as I've ever seen him and the dove looking moribund. Feathers were everywhere. (Sidenote: why have the cats declared the hallway rug to be the killing zone? Not once has a cat tried to off anything in the living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, study, or anywhere else in the house other than the hallway rug or the master bedroom. In their showier moments, the cats have been known to bring dying mice right into our bed to finish them off in front of us, somehow not realizing that this means a total ---albeit temporary-- loss of my goodwill). I locked up Frowsty in the bathroom, picked up the feathers, and turned to the dove, which actually had a strong heartbeat and was not bleeding anywhere. Unable at that hour of the night to think of anything better to do, I put the dove just out the front door, where cats never go, in the hopes it would magically heal up and fly away. I went back to bed.

Less than an hour later, the neighbor's stupid fucking house alarm went off AGAIN. For the past several nights, the alarm has gone off at 3:00 AM and blared for an hour or more. This alarm once went off for more than eight hours, during which time the police arrived, looked around, and then left, evidently feeling that restoring quiet to the neighborhood was not in their line of business. At that time, peace was restored only by my husband stealthily disabling the alarm without harming it (I tell you, the man is a genius). However, at 3 AM he's too much of a zombie to go out in his boxer shorts and deal with the alarm half a block away.

And within three hours after that alarm finally shut off, the foster kittens were yowling their tiny heads off for breakfast, and the child known as Lola was agitating for breakfast. The husband judgmentally said to me, "There is a creature on the front porch for you to deal with", meaning the innocent dove. I put the dove, who was in much better shape but unable to fly, into a carrier and left her on the front porch.

The husband then said to me, in dark tones, "The fish is missing." (We are fishsitting the preschool fish for summer vacation). Obviously our minds jumped to the conclusion that the bloodlusted Frowstomatic had managed to get the goldfish out of the aquarium. Later, Anton came back to report that he'd found the fish, dried out, under the girls' dresser and that the fish must have jumped out of the aquarium. He asked me to help Lola hold a funeral, and, severely cranky at this point, I told him to just deal with the fish and leave the poor child out of it. Eventually Anton went to pick up the fish and discovered that it was still alive, although stiff and covered with lint and dust. He put it back in the tank, where it could not control its buoyancy and was trailing lint. The fish's fins were desiccated and wilted, and overall it looked highly pathetic.

By the end of the day, the fish was swimming more energetically and managed to get a little fish food down. The next day, the fish appeared as good as new. We occasionally go in to marvel at it. "I could have sworn it was dead," Anton said in wonder.

"Maybe it's a zombie, an undead goldfish," I suggested.

The dove's fate is less clear. The pound (which does some wildlife rehab) said the problem with the dove was that its flight feathers were all sheared off, and it wasn't clear whether it was too old to grow them back or not. Sigh. Cats are such murderous bastards. For days, Iris has been haranguing me, 'Why did Frowsty try to kill the dove?"

"Cats are just like that."

"But why did Frowsty try to kill an innocent dove?"

"I don't know."

And on and on. Maybe if I could get some frigging sleep, I could come up with some more satisfying answers.

And, to add to the sleep deprivation, tonight is the night my husband promised said Lola that she could "have a pajama party" again, meaning no enforced bedtime and plenty of Spongebob videos. The man was not thinking things through when he made this promise, but there's no backing down from it. He has to get up at the crack of dawn to drive a truck all morning for our preschool, and Lord knows what atrocities the neighbor's alarm and the cats have in store for us. The house alarm went off this afternoon for an hour or so, and right now, my dearest wish is for that house to burn to the ground.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

the Drunken Housewife interrogates Ayun Halliday: "Mama Lama Ding Dong"

We here at the Drunken Housewife (we being me, natch) are pleased to host Ayun Halliday today as she travels about the web on her virtual book tour for "Mama Lama Ding Dong", now available at all fine bookstores in the U.K. (In the U.S., it was published under the name "The Big Rumpus", widely available in paperback).

The question everyone must ask: how is "Ayun" pronounced? Is it "Ann"? Did your parents give that name to you (the impression I have is that they did), or did you choose it? How did having an uncommon name affect your naming decisions for your kids?

It’s pronounced “Bet-sy”. Self-inflicted at the age of fourteen. But I’m sick of talking about my name! I’d much rather discuss my children’s names, India Reed and Milo Hanuman. My mother once let it slip that she and my father chose my original name because it was so “plain”. Now what does it tell you that Milo’s middle name is that of the Monkey King and my long time front runner for a girl’s name was Mehitabel? Certain folks of my acquaintance seem to take a lot of pleasure in telling me that they met two other girls named India this week alone, or that “Milo” is almost as common as “Henry” or “Jack” these days. What can I say? Like many other parents, I aspired for children to have beautiful, special names, names with significance for me and Greg. For the record, in my book India’s name refers to the country and also a character in Eudora Welty’s “Delta Wedding”. Greg claims neither of these are so. Inky is my nickname for her. He calls her Dia. Milo is named for the south wall of the Milo Printing company in the East Village, which once boasted this gorgeous mural of the word “Milo” superimposed over a blue sky. I passed by several times a day when pregnant with India. I hope they’ll hang onto their names, but I am living proof that what fits a non-autonomous little bean bag of a baby might not be the best fit for the person that baby grows up to be.

I love the naming process. My first child is named after Iris Murdoch; my second is named after the noted feminist Lucy Stone...

Greg seems really absent from "Mama Lama Ding Dong." The only place in the book where he is discussed much is during the labor stories (beautifully written, by the way), where he comes off as ineffectual and perhaps a bit annoying, like most husbands in that setting (to put this in perspective, my own husband nearly fainted during my first labor, so we hired a doula for the second). He's much more of a presence in the "East Village Inky." Is there some kind of spousal treaty about writing about him? What does he do with the children?

Now I’ll have to reread the dang book to see if I agree. One of my favorite scenes in the book has me in a frenzy setting up the Christmas with Inky’s “help” while Greg lies on the couch reading the New Yorker and when I finally get the lights to work (having previously sent him out in the snow to buy emergency replacements for the ones) he glances up and remarks, “Sweet Christian miracle. How it blinds me.”

So, if it’s true that he’s underrepresented, at least he is underrepresented accurately.

He has always been an essential part of the children’s lives, as he has been in mine for over fifteen years now. Before the success of Urinetown allowed us to scrape by without day jobs, Greg was busting his heiner on our financial behalf as a location scout for Law & Order. It was not unusual for him to pull twelve hour days, fourteen hour days. Yes, the children spent much more time with me than with him back when I was writing Mama Lama Ding Dong (nee The Big Rumpus), so much so that he designated us as Paycheck Monkey and Milk Monkey.

Now that the children are older, the childcare is distributed much more equitably. He plays ball with them, schleps them to the Hall of Science in Queens, and rallies them for many other activities that I personally do not enjoy. Sometimes we even go out as a quartet, though there are certainly other parents at school who suspect we’re really the same person. Since they never see us together. Greg is the parent who does homework with them. He’s much more pro-active than I about teaching Milo to read, drilling India on math. He and Inky attend many Broadway musicals together and you can bet she is a much more appreciative audience member than her critical, bitchy mother would be! Greg also has much more of an appetite for playing than I do. He will joyfully throw himself into Legos, Playmobil, puppets, some game where everybody chases everybody else around. I’m more destination-oriented as in, “Hey kids, let’s take the subway to Chinatown or Coney Island!”

You’re right that Greg is all over the East Village Inky, has been right from the very first issue. I love drawing him with a larger-than-life nose and glasses behind which no pupils can be detected. He not only even has his own column, “Advice to the Fathers”, which I have to extract from him four times a year, like a recurrent impacted tooth. I suspect the Book-to-Zine Greg Disparity Index owes to the fact that the book’s original publisher, Seal Press, wanted me to write a book about motherhood with a capital M, while (to my mind, anyway), The East Village Inky is a record of my life. The zine’s wider focus allows me to take major detours into my childhood, my pre-maternal existence, and those glorious Urinetown-sponsored trips that have sent Greg and I out of the country. (I’d like to thank my mother for blowing her frequent flyer miles on the chance to mind her grandchildren 24/7 for up to 7 days running!)

Yes, there is a spousal treaty that places several subjects out of bounds, but Greg is not one of those subjects.

What parenting-related authors or books do you enjoy? Have you read Shirley Jackson's parenting memoirs?

I really like the zine, Hausfrau, by Nicole Chaison, a mother in Portland, Maine. She writes about her family in such a way that all the members come through with their quirks intact. Comedy is balanced with poignancy. She illustrates it with these scratchy stick figure type drawings that I find incredibly endearing, and not just because they make me feel like Matisse in comparison.

To lob a few other titles at you:
The Blue Jay’s Dance by Louise Erdrich
Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott
Fruitful by Anne Roiphe
The Mother Trip by Ariel Gore
Paula by Isabel Allende
Morning, Noon and Night by Spalding Gray
I Stand Here Ironing by Tillie Olsen.
and The Kid by Dan Savage

As for Shirley Jackson, you are the third blog du jour on this Virtual Book Tour to bring her up, so I am going to haul my sorry carcass to the library to address this gaping hole in my education! I read “The Lottery” in junior high, several times if memory serves, but it’s clear I’m missing out on something big!

You've got to read "Raising Demons" and "Life Among the Savages" by Shirley Jackson. She has a delightful sense of black humor. Those were among my favorite books long before I contemplated procreating. She's my role model in writing about my kids. And on that note, are your children old enough to be embarrassed by your writing about them? What are your limits in retelling potentially embarrassing anecdotes, if any?

Oh yes, I would imagine that any 6 is plenty old enough to be wounded by a betrayed secret, an unflattering anecdote or an ugly drawing. As with all people whose feelings I care about (and that winds up being pretty much everybody outside of the Bush family, and a few former co-workers), I strive for sensitivity in my public portrayals of them. Both kids have robust senses of humor, and enjoy having attention paid to them in print. It hasn’t been an issue yet, though I do try to stay alert for changing boundaries. For instance, I would never draw Inky prancing around nude the way I did when she was two. I wouldn’t even draw her in her underpants. Milo yanking on his weiner morning, noon, and night is still fair game – he laughs louder than anybody to see himself represented so realistically. If I tried to leave out that aspect of his…can we call it “personality?” … our close friends would accuse me of trying to whitewash things! Of course, if he’s stretching the trouser snake halfway ‘round his waist at nine, I’ll be investing in whitewash by the bucketful!

There are several huge things about our family that are known only to those who know us in the flesh. One of these things I would very much like to explore in print, but permission was sought and denied. It affects all of us, but the one it most primarily affects is not me.

I'd love to know the Huge Thing, but I won't ask. Your memoir of parenting doesn't seem to include sleazy goings-on in your playground circle. In my San Francisco parenting circles, we've had affairs amongst the stay-at-home parents, single dads forgetfully including home porn in photos submitted to the preschool yearbook, etc... Tom Perrotta's novel of cheating amongst that stay-at-home parents, "Little Children", rings all too true.

Damn, sounds like I’ve been hanging around the wrong playgrounds. New Yorkers are so provincial. Of course, I suppose it’s possible that all sorts of illicit diddling has been going on under my nose. It’s not at all out-of-character that I would be too dense to pick up on it. I’ve never seen "Desperate Housewives" either. Is that why everybody loves that show? Because it’s an accurate reflection of the rampant extramarital fucking going on in half the playgrounds in America?

I've never seen "Desperate Housewives" myself. I'm a drunken housewife, not a desperate one! As a vegetarian, I was a bit put off by your writing about your butcher and your feeling that, as a mother, you needed a relationship with a butcher. Then I went on to read your other books and learned that you yourself had some significant vegetarian history.

It wasn’t so much me wanting a relationship with a butcher as craving community, and a connection with the maternal figures of my past. I have very pleasant memories of accompanying my grandmother to Kinkaid’s, a real old-fashioned joint in Indianapolis where the white smocked butchers would always slip me a rolled up slice of bologna. It made me feel important as a child, noticed. The old guy who ran the butcher shop I refer to in Mama Lama Ding Dong not only made me feel like my children were special little individuals, worthy of notice, he made me feel welcome in a neighborhood I’d lived in for less than a year. I’d been subjected to plenty of “here come the yuppie invaders” ‘tude from folks who’d lived in the East Village longer than I, and it was a relief to be treated like a member of the in-crowd by a cigar-chompin’ Brooklyn old-timer, whose shop had been in the family for four generations. Also, I think you will agree, a much more meaningful social interaction that pulling a cellophane-wrapped package out of the meat cooler at Met Foods.

Ooh, and even though I’m the one who claimed meat overload, before we move on to another topic, can I sneak in a plug Greg’s play, Pig Farm? Just a few days left to catch the New York production, but it opens in San Diego next month, and ripples out from there.

Lately some other parents and I have been talking a lot about birthday party bags & decrying parents who put gifts in the thank you notes. Do you throw birthday parties for your kids? What do you give the child guests? What gifts for your own kids piss you off?

Gifts enclosed in thank you notes? Illicit playground affairs? Dang, woman! Many of the birthday parties to which we are invited are influenced by the cramped quarters in which most New Yorkers live. That’s why come the sweltering mid-summer celebrations in public parks, the pricey indoor gym extravaganzas, the rained-out-and-rescheduled-then-rained-out-again affairs. My most ambitious “party” for Inky was when we invited five of her friends to march with us in the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. (David Johansen of the New York Dolls joined the other judges in serenading her with the birthday song, we won two third-place medals, and boy howdy, did I need a drink when it was all done!)

Milo has only had one real birthday party, the kind to which classmates are invited. (Both of them are summer birthdays which lets me off the hook a bit in that respect.) At first his lack of traditional celebration was due to maternal negligence – I just couldn’t get it up to haul a granny cart full of cupcakes, chips, lemonade, watermelon and decorations to a playground in a heatwave, the way I had so enthusiastically when Inky turned two. It didn’t seem to bother him, and now he insists he doesn’t want what I think of as a party. For months he told me that for his sixth birthday, he wanted a Power Ranger piñata. I assumed that he had visions of breaking it open with everyone of his acquaintance, and girded my loins to squeeze a modest version of such an event into an already crazy-making schedule (End of school with all its attendant performances and “celebrations”, the Mermaid Parade, cleaning for sublettors and packing for the summer palace, and Pig Farm’s opening night (which dictated that Greg spent most of May and June as “under-represented” in real life as he is in the book).Well, miraculously, it turned out that I had completely misread Milo’s intentions. He wanted to haul that pinata to the summer palace (Greg’s childhood home) and beat the hell out of it in the company of one, count ‘em, one little friend who spends his summers in the vicinity. You better believe I told Greg to shut his yap when he started giving me ‘tude about hauling a piñata all the way to Cape Cod.

I’m surprised that Milo, who seems to have a real knack for math, doesn’t seem to get that the number of guests has real bearing on the number of presents. Of course, it hasn’t always added up that way. Not in our family. For instance, there was Inky’s fourth birthday, when Greg and I made her a doll house out of wine crates and in a bid to both repel giant, Barbie-themed presents and score more doll house furniture than we would have been able to afford, I declared that the party was a doll house furniture shower. Oh god, it seems so control freakish, now. I think I might have even worded the invitation in such a way as to indicate that the furniture should be wood. What a monster. On the other hand, my “vision” allowed a cash-strapped artist friend whose child was a bosom crony of Inky’s to give something make some teeny-tiny original artwork out of an index card, secure in the knowledge that it wouldn’t be upstaged by some enormous, curly-ribbon-trimmed gift-bag bursting with tissue, the contents of which cost more than she would ever spend on her own child’s birthday.

For Inky’s second birthday, we solicited pictures of monkeys in lieu of presents… I wouldn’t do that to a four-year-old, but at two all she really seemed to care about was the party hats and the cake. And that monkey scrapbook has grown over the years to a thickness that rivals the Manhattan Yellow Pages.

Just so long as I never come thundering down the stairs, threatening to call everybody’s mothers if the slumber party doesn’t settle down IMMEDIATELY!!! Oh wait, we don’t have any stairs. And our apartment is so cramped as it is, that I think I’d do what another friend did and rent a hotel room on the birthday child’s behalf. Let the guests go all Beastie Boys on the Brooklyn Marriott.

As for goodie bags, I do feel deep gratitude toward any hostess who finds some way around filling them with a bunch of chintzy plastic crap from Party City. (In a recent issue of The Atlantic, Sandra Tsing Loh referred to this aggravating goodie bag loot as “piñata chum”. Brilliant!) Unfortunately, the kids expect them and even the most humble cake and ice cream party ends up costing more than you ever think it will. The year of the doll house furniture shower, I was oh so creative as to stuff Inky’s brown-paper goodie bags with homemade coloring books, joss paper, cocktail umbrellas with the sharp tips snipped off and pinecones hauled home from the summer palace. Aren’t I wonderful? One of the little guests, whose parents are creative, kind-hearted, Buddhist East Villagers, rooted through her bag with growing disbelief, and then loudly announced, “I don’t like this goodie bag!” Her horrified mother stoutly insisted that the Emperor was wearing clothes, but from the four-year-old perspective, Curlylocks’s complaint was merely a valid statement of the obvious. I still laugh when I think of her wrinkling her nose at that pinecone.

Right up there with the pinecone, one year I included feathers from my Amazon parrot in the grab bags. (I save her best molted feathers). Thankfully no little kids dissed me to my face!

Okay! Given that I am a "mother who drinks"(as differentiated from those mothers who describe themselves pompously as "mothers who think"), I've got to ask: what's your favorite cocktail?


So let's all hoist a mojito today in honor of "Mama Lama Ding Dong"'s publication in the U.K. I just happen to have some fresh mint in the fridge... hmmm...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

a brilliant gambit in the sibling wars

Lucy reached out her arms for a hug and said sweetly to Iris at lunchtime, "I love you!"

Iris, the ingrate, screeched, "I can't eat when you're talking like that!"

Knowing she was on to a good thing, Lucy chased Iris around the house, with her arms open, chiming in a sweet voice, "I love you, Iris! I love you, Iris!"

"Make her stop! No hugging! She's making me sick!" shrieked Iris.

You've got to admire brilliance when you see it.

Lucy's wish

Three year-old Lucy said to her father, "I wish I were a kitten."

"You can pretend to be a kitten."

"NO!! I want to BE a kitten!"


"Because they are the most beautiful things in this rainbow banana world!" (twirling around)

a morning not from hell

After yesterday's stressful morning, I am happy to report that today's was much better. Before I got out of bed, Anton reported, "Their majesties are hungry" (referring to the foster kittens, mewing their tiny guts out for breakfast). After having had a halfway decent night's sleep, I was able to face the morning with equanimity. I'm still limited in what I can do with my left hand, due to the large burn on my palm (dramatically shaped just like a Stealth bomber), but thankfully it wasn't my right hand.

Anton even made the coffee and brought me a cup while I was spoonfeeding the kittens. It still took me nearly an hour and a half to feed the kittens, medicate the kittens, medicate Al, feed the grown-up cats, clean the kittens' box, bathe the kittens, warm up the kittens' bizarre warming frisbee (a non-electrical, microwavable heating pad), and dry and warm the kittens. Only one phone call during this morning routine, which I let go to the answering machine.

Monday, August 21, 2006

morning from hell

I was up until 2 AM because I sustained a large burn on the palm of my hand cooking Anton's special dinner for his birthday, and the pain prevented me from going to sleep. I got through the dinner itself by icing my hand, but the pain when I was trying to stop icing was unbelievable. I used up all the ice in the house, plus a bag of frozen corn and a cylinder of grape juice concentrate (plus a bottle of chilled white wine, this last taken internally, while the others were administered externally).

We're fostering a litter of tiny kittens right now, three little gray tigers with a lot of attitude. On day one, they were growling and biting (there's nothing much cuter than a baby animal who can't even effectively walk trying to scare someone), but now they have come to regard me as The Source Of All Food. They're at this incredibly awkward phase, where they are transitioning from bottlefeeding to eating solids, which means they have to be fed and they make a huge mess. I'm doing at least one load of laundry a day which is solely cat laundry (I use a towel every time I feed them, plus there's a towel in their container which needs constant changing).

So now, when I get up, the parrot is screaming for breakfast, our own three cats are squawking and leading me towards their bowls, the fish needs feeding, the children need breakfast, AND before I can really do anything, I have to sit down and feed the starving kittens. Thankfully the rats are low maintenance and are happy to chill out in the mornings. (Rats: the ideal pet!)

The three kittens need two different medications: one twice a day, one three times a day. Al, Lucy's cat, needs two different medications as well, and this normally mellow cat turns into a spitting, shrieking monster when he sees the medications. Al lost control of his bladder when I was medicating him yesterday, the little orange freak, meaning I had to strip the couch cushion covers and launder them.

All this means, at a minimum, that before I've even had a cup of frigging coffee I have to spend a solid hour feeding and medicating animals, then cleaning the kittens' container. I've gone from having a halfway house with my pet alcoholic to having a veterinary clinic. It was my idea, so I shouldn't complain, but it's hard work, and there's no support to be had from the husband. I should note that I don't expect him to do any of the routine work of the foster kittens or pets (although he does traditionally have the parrot out during his breakfast). He has been helping me medicate Al, which turns out to be a 3 person job: me using one hand to scruff Al and the other to administer the meds, both Anton and Iris restraining the struggling animal. For someone who only weighs seven pounds, Al sure has a lot of pent up rage.

This morning was extra stressful because the phone was ringing off the hook (including a call from Al's vet asking how the meds are helping him; he's only been on them for TWO DAYS so it's too soon to tell, so why are you wasting your presumably valuable time and mine, vet?). Also, without consulting me, Anton had scheduled a document destruction company to come take my old legal files, which were taking up too much room in the garage. I had to go through all the boxes to make sure everything was good to go. A truck arrived with the world's largest shredder in the back, and they shredded everything in plain sight and then presented us with a bill.

I'm hoping tomorrow's hellish routine will be easier, without the document destruction and with hopefully more sleep.

Off now for the night-time routine of feeding and medicating cats. Sigh.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

the husband elaborates

Defending his adoption of Tony Soprano as a role model, the husband soliloquized today. "It's because Tony's at one end of a spectrum, and that guy from Harvard, you know, that guy who talks about race all the time?"

"Cornel West."

"Yeah, Cornel West. Tony Soprano is at one end of a spectrum, and Cornel West is at the other. And I feel like I'm at the Tony Soprano end.... I'm a nihilist. I am amoral. I have no morals. I don't think I can have any morals until I"m making a lot more money. It's like Tony says, he's doing it to support his family."

"Tony's also into organized crime for his own twisted purposes," I said.

"Well, that's what it looks like to us. But he's doing it for his family. I have to support my family. I can't afford to have any morals... until I have a lot more money [pauses to think]. Then I'll be able to give money to public TV."

Saturday, August 19, 2006

my cat is allergic to his own teeth

So Lucy's cat, Al, is kind of freakish. We've had him since he was a tiny little thing, weighing only 10 ounces or so (we were his foster parents; I bottlefed him). He's skeletal but bizarrely ravenous, mooching food very aggressively. Al is so sweet and such a beta cat by nature. The major selling point for adopting him was that he allowed Lucy, then only two, to swaddle him in a towel and pretend he was a human baby.

He has always had bad breath and pinkish gums, and today, on a visit for suspected earmites, I asked the vet to take a look in his mouth. Previously I tried treating his inflamed gums with an over-the-counter substance which you add to the cats' water. The only result was that the cats shunned their water and survived for a week by licking the tub out after Anton or I took a shower.

So the new vet (I dramatically fired our old vet last week) first ruled out feline HIV and feline leukemia, and then said, "This is going to sound crazy, but this is the best way to explain it. Some cats are allergic to their own teeth. That's not exactly accurate, but it's the closest I can come to describing it." The vet put Al on antibiotics, which he doesn't expect to fix his gums but feels he should try. After that, it's on to a course of steroids. And if the steroids fail, I'm supposed to have all of Al's teeth pulled by a feline dentist under anesthesia, which should cost ~$1,000. (Yes, I will get a second opinion before I have his teeth pulled).

Anton, who previously questioned the point of his entire existence when a vet bill for some sickly rats exceeded his daily pay ("I can't work for rats"), can't be expected to pony up for this without a fight.

Friday, August 18, 2006

the gist of the matter

After Iris's swimming lesson, we needed to pick up Lucy from a playdate. Iris was pissed. "I hope you know I'm doing this under protest," she informed me. Her position was that we leave Lucy to live forever at her friend's house, not going to see her ever, "not even for a visit."

"You know, Lucy is just as important a member of this family as you are," I said.

"No way! That's crazy!"


"I don't think Anton would say that." Her almost seven year-old mind was blown.

wish me strength

Tonight is the night Lucy's been looking forward to all week: her pajama party (the guests include me and Anton; snobby Iris is above attending a 3 year-old sister's function). She's going to be allowed to stay up all night long (read: until she drops). Everyone will wear pajamas and play sardines until the wee hours!!

This is the husband's idea. Ever since Lucy saw a Bananas in Pajamas story about the Bananas' pajama party, she's been obsessed. I suggested at one of her playdates that she play pajama party, and she screamed and screamed. "I want a real pajama party ... where you stay up all night long!"

God. Wish me strength.

11:18 update: I'm tired, despite having had two Red Bulls earlier in the evening. Lucy reports whiningly, "This is a pajama party, but Daddy is getting sleepy!" Iris has consented to going to bed, even though Lucy's staying up for her pajama party, under the conditions that (a) she get a good bedtime snack, (b) Anton reminds her to disinfect her newly pierced ears, (c) Lucy is required to brush Lucy's teeth, and (d) "you KEEP QUIET!" at the pajama party. What a little lawyer. She recited her list of conditions several times to make it all clear.

our role models

Iris has lately been adopting Bart Simpson as an example to follow. This drives me insane, with her pestering me to assist her in Bartlike capers, e.g., "When can I smoke butter? I want to smoke butter! Bart smokes butter!"

Losing it in the car one day, I said loudly, "Bart Simpson is a fictional character and NOT A ROLE MODEL, Iris, and that goes for you, too, Anton, with Tony Soprano!"

Anton, who had been sniggering, clammed up at that point. He has asked for a custom "What Would Tony Soprano Do?" bumper sticker for his birthday.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Three year-old Lucy asks me, "Mommy, do you do any robotricks?"

"Umm, no."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

the mind of the husband

My husband has a strange mind. He likes to call himself "an enigma wrapped in a mystery", but I prefer to refer to him as an idiot savant (which sometimes feels like only a slight exaggeration).

His educational background sums him all up: he's a high school dropout who never bothered to get a GED, but instead bummed around and smoked a lot of pot, but he also holds a PhD. in physics from a very prestigious university. The man is brilliant, but sometimes he can be the dumbest genius you've ever met.

Things my husband has done which smack of brilliance:

* when the refrigerator broke, he just pulled it out from the wall, opened it up, figured out the problem, and fixed it... taking about twenty minutes total. He had never repaired a refrigerator before;

* with no assistance, built a radio-controlled robot which broadcast television pictures of what it saw. By watching the televised feed, you could then use the radio control to order the robot to spray people with its pressurized water gun;

* so many computer software feats of magnificence that I can't catalogue them all.

But don't forget the Dark Side of the husband's brain. For example, he can't cook. When I was pregnant and on bedrest, I asked him to make me some frozen pierogies. The box contained instructions suitable for an idiot: they were detailed and written quite simply. Nonetheless, the husband asked me NINE QUESTIONS (I started counting them), such as "The box says to put the pierogies in oil up to their lip. Does that mean the bottom of the pierogi lip or the top of the pierogi lip?" and "The box says to cook it until they are golden. How dark is golden?" It's enough to make a person gibber.

I had told the Pierogi Story before, but friends discounted it. Then one of my friends was over for dinner, and I asked Anton to help out by making breadcrumbs. All he needed to do was to take some frozen bread (I save the ends of artisanal loaves in the freezer for this purpose) and put it in the food processor. What could be easier? But he could not figure it out. He kept interrupting my friend and me over and frigging over again. "Should I cut it up first?" "How much should I put in at once?" "Can you take a look at this? Is this small enough?" It went on and on and on. She said, "I thought you were exaggerating about him, but now I see you weren't."

His brain has no space in it for Machiavellian maneuvers or diplomacy. It's straight, painful honesty you get from the man. A few years ago, when we had a toddler, a second baby on the way, and he'd just gotten his benefits and pay slashed at his struggling start-up employer, it was clear the man needed a new job. As he was leaving the house to interview at a successful company, he remarked to me, "If they ask me why I want the job, I'm going to just have to tell them that I don't want the job." Hormonal and stressed out, I freaked out, literally pulling my hair out. "YOU CAN'T SAY THAT!" He stared at me, nonplussed. "But I don't want the job, so how can I lie to them?" "Just.. promise me... you .. WON'T SAY YOU DON'T WANT THE JOB!" I screamed at him. (He ended up liking the interviewers and taking the job, which led to making great connections and obtaining the finest healthcare benefits, which we later milked through COBRA).

But anyhow, through much of my life I have felt like I was the smartest person in a given room, and I always feel happier when that's not the case. I like being around sharp minds, able intellects, wits who can keep up a rapid volley. With my husband, I'm never the smartest person in the room, but we don't actually volley much badinage around. Our brains are smart in such differing ways that there isn't much overlap where we can enjoy being smart together. Instead, one is always sneering down or gazing up admiringly at the other. On the bright side, although the conversation may not be Algonquinesque, we do complement one another nicely in practical terms. For example, he got an imposingly long and dense consulting contract, and I marked it up for him and showed him the controversial parts. "Don't read these other pages; just don't trouble your pretty little head with them," I crooned. But when the wireless network was hosed, I was helpless to do more than flip the power switch off and on. "Just let the tech support take care of it," he said sweetly ("tech support" being one of his nicknames).

garbage on TV

Lucy (in disgust): "Now there is something I never wanted to see in my whole life. Garbage on TV!" Lucy leaves room, comes to see me: "Mommy, there was GARBAGE on TV!"

(I think "Reading Rainbow" took a field trip to a landfill, and poor Lucy's sensibilities were scarred).

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Lucy's interrogation

Lucy, wearing sunglasses, flowered pajama bottoms, and nothing else, leaned coolly on the back of the couch and interrogated me in a rather professional manner:

"Question one: How did you get to the playground, baby monkey? [said in a very accusatory manner]...

Question four: How did you get to Disneyland? ...

Question eight: How did she get a baby in her tummy and make her have a big tummy?...

Question eleventy: How did Joyce's hair get pink in it?"

This went on for half an hour.

Iris's lament

Iris's letter of complaints, written for her father during his absence:

"Lucy bad when Antons not there. Cried too much hoged muosey*
She intorapted me even on the phone.
Hogged the rats.
Hoged Mousy.
Hogged everythinge."

*"Muosey/Mousy" = a nickname for the Drunken Housewife
** Lied.

Friday, August 11, 2006

plenty of cuteness for some of us

There's nothing cuter than three year-old Lucy/Lola intoning, "Don't.. push... Lola..'cuz... she's... close... to ... the ... edge", unless she's also dancing with dramatic hands and gets it slightly wrong, chanting "Don't... push...Lola...'cuz... she's ... close... to...the...side."

Today Iris slept in until 11 (what a tiny teenager). Anton left at 4:30 a.m. to catch his flight to Chicago. Lola/Lucy and I got up, and she insisted (before I'd even had any coffee) that we were to do a project from my Preschoolers' Activity Book. For the first time, our hitherto unfailable book fucked me over. I picked making stained glass window crayons, which meant combining all our broken crayons (which I'd been saving up for some vague art project), peeling the paper off them, and baking them at 400 degrees in a greased muffin tin.

Round one: although we had generously greased the tins, the beautiful stained glass crayons would not come out. Casualty: one muffin tin. We tried again, lining another tin with tin foil. This time, I had to do most of the work, as Lola/Lucy was fed up. We succeeded in making three beautiful stained glass crayons, but somehow the molten crayon mix ate through the tin foil and adhered to the bottom of the other cups. Second round casualties: second muffin tin, slight burn to right hand, and molten wax all over kitchen sink. I tried scrubbing it out, but it wouldn't come off. I was able to chip most of it off with a knife, but still quite a lot of wax remains.

I had a dreadful sore throat all day, but I mustered us up to meet friends we hadn't seen in ages at the playground. I'm so glad I did, because the sun came out, we basked delightfully in the heat while the children played, and one friend sneaked us in a bottle of Prosecco. Other mommy/children combos we knew were there as well, and it was great right up until pissy Lola/Lucy tired of being there and commenced to whining mightily, pulling at me, and demanding to go home. I tried to talk her into going to a restaurant, but she'd have none of that, so home it was.

And at home, we had a horrendous sibling war over who could hold the rat known alternatively as "Cute Bone" and "Tinky Winky", depending upon which pissy little child you ask. We fed the vacationing neighbors' cat, and the children just wanted to rifle through the glamorous teenaged daughters' bedrooms, which I couldn't allow. The horrible keys didn't work in the locks without a huge amount of frustration and effort. On the bright side, there's strawberry cake left over from yesterday's dinner party (which was another bright point in the Drunken Housewife's life: visiting friends from Tucson over for plenty of rat rescue chat and food), and the husband's morning sucked more. He got up at 4:00 after about a grand total of three hours sleep, drove to the airport where he reported a hideously long wait for a shuttle bus from long-term parking, and such huge, horrendous lines for checking in baggage that he abandoned his pocket knife and just carried on his one bag. The poor thing was flying on the day of a huge terrorism scare, with the National Guard swarming about the airport and all coffee forbidden aboard aircraft. Heh, I enjoyed (meanly enough) thinking about that while I was basking at the park, but after a full day of squabbling siblings, I'm wanting him back.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

teamwork and disgust

We saw "The Ant Bully" today, a movie about a child who kills ants but is shrunk down to ant size and made to join the colony. Lucy professed to dislike the movie, but then when we came home, all evening long, she kept saying firmly, "Teamwork! That is what I always say! It's about teamwork!" Never mind that the word "teamwork" was not in her vocabulary until she saw the film; she says, "I love to say 'teamwork!' It's all about teamwork! That is what I always say!"

Iris and I have been fighting over my computer. Anton, without my knowledge or consent, installed several seasons of "The Simpsons" on my computer. That means that computer-savvy Iris can, whenever she likes, turn on my computer and sit, rapt, watching episode after episode of "The Simpsons." Never mind that my parental policy, which the husband had allegedly signed on to, was that there is no TV and no videos or DVDs during the day. Now the computer allows Iris constant access to beloved animation. Whenever I want to check my email or surf the web, I have a battle on my hands.

The other day, I was selling my Burning Man tickets on ebay, and I really needed access to my computer. I threw Iris off, mid-Simpsons episode, telling her I would just do my email and not take long. She hung over my shoulder, stating ominously, "I am watching you... WITH DISGUST." I lost all composure.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

the husband's getting out on parole

Our forecast here is for increasing crankiness, skyrocketing on Saturday night, when we expect children to be snapping at each other and their mother breaking down, possibly so far as to say, "Jesus fucking Christ, will you children give me a break??" Why? The husband's going off for a long weekend in Chicago, to attend a faux wedding.

Why do I say faux wedding? Because the couple in question got married a year ago at a quiet, city hall ceremony, and now they regret not having had a big wedding (my bitchy take is that they regret not reaping in a ton of presents). So they registered at all the expensive stores, rented a venue, had some invitations engraved, and they're going through all the steps, although they've been married for over a year. I find this irritating. Additionally, since our funds are limited these days, I would have preferred to have attended my cousin's wedding in Maine, which is a first wedding. My cousin, who is bipolar and has had a rough childhood, never expected to find love, and when her fiance proposed to her, she demanded that they have a long engagement because she expected him to break it off. So, of course, the whole family is thrilled for her that she is marrying someone who really loves her and who is there for her, despite her feelings of not being lovable enough. But my husband asked that for his birthday, he get to go to Chicago for this "wedding", and I'm a sucker for him, so I agreed that he would go, even though I'm not making it to my cousin's wedding.

I was feeling okay about this until my husband casually showed me an email about the bachelor party, which is evidently going to be one of those uber-traditional ones with a hired stripper and lots of liquor. Ugh. I got rather pissy about this. Let's just say that my husband has a couple of old friends who don't like me, the woman who ruined all their fun by tying down their carefree bachelor friend and saddling him with a mortgage and children (hey, it was all his idea!). I explained to the old spouse that I would have no problem with his sleazing around here in town with friends who know and like me, because then I could feel comfortable that the sleazing would go right up to a certain line and no further. But sleazing around far away from home, with friends who would instead be egging him on and pressuring him to sleaze it up more? Not a nice thought for me. Am I going to ask him not to go? Hell, no. He's a grown-up. I'm not his boss. I'm just not going to like it. He suggested that he pressure another friend to go to the wedding, who also lives here and is my friend as well, for my peace of mind, but I pointed out that this particular friend is an out-of-control alcoholic who nearly set our house on fire when drunk, and hence not a reliable, upstanding companion.

I feel awkward admitting that I even had an issue with this. In my social milieu, there are people with open marriages, people who profess polyamory, and in general a certain amount of tolerance for risque behavior. It seems old-fashioned of me to get riled over this.

Oh, well. So I will be alone for days with the crabby, battling children (who have low-grade fevers today, making us all housebound and supercranky), while the husband's off in another time zone playing poker, smoking, drinking, and cavorting with strippers. Happy birthday, darling spouse.

call the police! call the police!

We have many pets, and the most charismatic pet is Frowsty, aka Frowstomatic the King, aka Frowstomatic The Immortal God. Frowsty is a fluffy black cat who knows everyone adores him and parcels out his affection stingily in return. Currently his most annoying habit is that he catches butterflies and releases them, crippled, into the house. This distresses Lucy no end, who is afraid of butterflies and other insects, and who will genuinely freak out, sobbing.

The last few days, Lucy has been demanding that I call the police on Frowsty. I tried to explain that you can't ask the cops to arrest your own cat, but Lucy won't hear of it. When Frowstomatic brings in a maimed butterfly, Lucy hounds me and hounds me, tears in her eyes, "CALL THE POLICE! CALL THE POLICE! CALL THE POLICE!"

Sunday, August 06, 2006

the unbearable cuteness of Lola

Lucy isn't answering to "Lucy" these days; she's gone back to using her preferred name, Lola. (She adopted this name after the girls went through a phase of obsessively watching "Shark Tales", after the glamorous, gold-digging fish voiced by Angelina Jolie. Ms. Jolie's hypnotic sway extends beyond Brad Pitt to Lucy/Lola). Aside from that, she's been positively adorable.

Yesterday she was cranky, and I cheered her up by making up a song about her. "Looola is a special girl" and so on (sung to the tune of the "Red Dwarf" theme). She danced and danced as I sang, and then she began interjecting her own, very different lyrics: "She always eats the right things! She doesn't eat junk!"

As you may have guessed, Lola has discovered how much people in our milieu adore a child with good eating habits. Whenever she wants attention from grownups other than her parents, she'll spread her arms wide, beam out a big Shirley Temple smile, and say, "I LOVE BROCCOLI!"

Today I was yet again appointed physician to her ailing toys, this time presented with a grubby Teletubby who had allegedly taken ill. As I poked through the toy veterinarian kit, which doubles as a toy pediatrician kit, I discovered my nice glasses case. I opened it, expecting to see my glasses, but instead Lucy had substituted a toy rubber dogbone. What slayed me is that it fit perfectly. It was as though my glasses case had been wasted all this time on my glasses, when in reality it was made to house the vet kit's faux dogbone.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

more birthday opinions

Since becoming a mother, I have been to a lot of children's birthday parties, and I've hosted seven of the them. Anton and I have formed some strong opinions, which thankfully we share, such as Pinatas Are Evil; Please, No Gifts In The Thank You Notes; and RSVP Goddammit Don't Make Me Have To Call All Of You On The Phone.

It probably won't surprise anyone to learn that we have many opinions about the proper handling of birthday gifts. The thing which irritates us no end is when parents do not allow their children to open their birthday gifts. I keep my mouth firmly shut about this, unless the parent asks my opinion, because no one wants to hear their parenting criticized and it's not exactly a child abuse crisis. But later, in the car, we complain. I guess the parents feel that it's too hard on the other children to see presents without getting them, but they're all getting grab bags and pinata swag, so that doesn't seem that strong an argument. My problem is that my children -- and the other child guests--- WANT to see their friend open their gift. They are excited about it. It's a big letdown to them when they can't be there to see their friend tear open the wrapping paper and react to the gift.

Additionally, many parents feel that their children would be spoiled if they got a lot of presents on one day. Arguably by instead parcelling out the presents and giving them over a month, they lessen the impact. I actually think it's much more spoiling to give children a gift every day for weeks. It makes the actual presents seem less special, and it sets up an atmosphere where the child gets a present every day for a full frigging season, with no particular entitlement on any one day.

Other parents use the birthday presents as a disciplinary device. One mother confided in me that she doled out the birthday presents for months afterward as rewards for good behavior. That, however, diminishes the relationship between the child and her friends. The item is presented for cleaning her room or flossing for a week or whatever, when it is really something picked out by a little pal for her birthday.

Just let the kids open their gifts, please. Let the other little kids get to see their friend open the box. The other kids will be okay, truly. It just builds up anticipation for when their own birthday rolls around. And don't make me have to bring a gift for all children in your family; that's really spoiling the other siblings and setting them up for a lifetime of feeling entitled.

Friday, August 04, 2006

impending festivities

So, Iris's birthday is looming, and it's time to make the invitations. I have a tradition now of making her party invitations by hand, and this was the first year she was old enough that I couldn't just make them, asking for her approval. I had to make them with her. That is much, much harder than making them myself with her creative input.

Of course, just like with the Halloween costumes, we learn yet again that making invitations is more expensive than buying invitations (but probably not as expensive as having custom-made invitations, which we have received for other girls' parties). We dropped more than we expected at the art supply store (on the other hand, the rubber stamps and stamp pads we bought will go into our art supplies and be used again).

Making the invitations was a two day process. We figured out a design last night, and started on it, but we had some setbacks. First, we were stamping a large picture onto tissue paper and pouring glitter on it before the ink dried, then cutting out (with special li'l scissors) the pictures which came out the best. That took us aeons. Then we did my old high school arts trick of spraying these with hairspray as a fixative. That turned out to be the act of a moron. The ink ran, and the tissue became adhered to the table. (Why did that always work so well in high school?? Damn you, Aquanet!). So we were left with a big fat mess, and a husband with the rights to be sarcastic. Only partially daunted, we started over again, and we got the invitations mostly done.

Today, we wrote the text for the cards, which we printed out and glued into our decorated cards, and we decorated and addressed the envelopes. Iris also signed each card "Love, Iris." The first few cards had the "Love, Iris" written in painstakingly artistic writing, with each letter written in a new, jiggly font invented for the occasion by Iris. The middle several cards had the capital L and capital I in the new Iris Font. The last few cards were written in regular old handwriting by the birthday child after crabby old Mommy refused to finish signing them for Iris.

So I was thinking that probably some of the invitees' mothers will be pissed that I handmade the cards and think, "That pathetic stay-at-home mother, she needs to get out of the house." Once I read one of those interminable pieces in the SAHM vs. working mother wars (where are the fathers in all this?), and a working mother confessed to ridiculing a stay-at-home mother for making cupcakes for the school. A gaggle of working mothers, feeling out of place at a classroom Halloween party, joined together to cattily trash the SAHMs who had decorated and baked. "They really need to get a job" was the verdict. After reading that, I imagine the working mothers looking down at me for my pastries, Halloween costumes, and handmade invitations. Hey, even when I was a working attorney, I created such baking extravaganzas as pies with braided crusts, and I made myself the ultimate Medusa costume. It's not that I'm a SAHM; I'm just into cooking, costumes, and cards. My own mother, a SAHM the whole time I was growing up, sniffed at one of my decorated pies once when I was in law school. "I can't be bothered to make crust like that."

I love making Iris's invitations; we also make our Valentines (overharried at the holiday season, we either don't send out Christmas cards at all, or we buy them). Last year, Iris and I, with some assistance from Anton and outright hostility from Lucy, made about one hundred Valentines by hand (Lucy was required to bring one to every child at her preschool; Iris, to bring one for every child in her kindergarten room).

But we have our limits. Where I will not go is joining the increasing trend of photographing all party guests, creating a keepsake with the pictures, and mailing those little gifts in the thank-you notes. My plea to all parents: PLEASE DO NOT JOIN THE TREND OF PEOPLE WHO SEND PRESENTS IN THE THANK YOU CARDS! It's just creating more pressure and elevating the standards. When I get something like this, yes, it's nice for my kid, but I think, "Oh, fuck. Do I have to start taking every single kid's picture and making sure it's a nice one and then print it out, making something out of it, and mail it now??? Is everyone doing this?? Please, oh god, when the fucking party is over, I don't want to have to keep working!" It's enough trouble to do the thank-you cards, which we always do; I don't want to have to create precious keepsakes for each child commemorating the party, too.

Sorry. I just want to draw the line somewhere. I'm doing the fucking gift bags, and I'm sending the thank-you notes (note I did not say "fucking thank you notes", because I think thank you notes are a good thing), but I don't wanna have to send a present of any sort with the thank you note. I have my limits.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

another of our days

I haven't been able to hear out of my right ear for days, and finally I break down, stop trying to use over-the-counter eardrops, and make a doctor's appointment. My doctor has a convenient opening just one hour after my call. But! Iris and Lucy are sitting around in their underwear, one eating cereal with half-and-half (we ran out of milk), the other playing with toys while the morning PBS cartoons are on in the background. One hour is barely enough time to get us dressed and there; it is not enough time to arrange someone to watch them.

"We have to get ready to go to Mommy's doctor," I say brightly. "I AM NOT DONE!" growls Lucy (if you were moving a stuffed unicorn and a stuffed princess around with your hands and making noises, when would you consider yourself done?).

I run downstairs and try Iris. "We have to finish up and get ready to go! Chop chop!" Iris seems to vaguely roll her eyes and move her spoon towards her mouth at a slightly enhanced, but still slow, speed.

We manage to get there on time, and the children behave well in the waiting room (Lucy brings the princess and unicorn; Iris brings a Simpsons comic). When the nurse calls my name, they dawdle. "Come on, guys!" I urge. The nurse bends her head around to see what on earth is taking the patient so long to go through the door, and seems to recoil when she sees both children.

When I finally get them through the door, they drag their heels and keep standing in front of the nurse, who is trying to lead us all to an examination room. In the small exam room, there is a table/bed thing for the patient, one small wheeled stool for the doctor, and one small chair (probably for the patient to put her clothes and purse on). I tell the children to try sharing the chair and tell them I'm sorry it will be crowded. They squeeze on obediently enough, but soon they are kicking each other.

"What are you doing!!" I scolded. "We are fighting," said Lucy, logically enough.

"One of you is going to have to sit on the floor or stand," I said. Iris volunteered to sit on the floor, and she leaned against Lucy's legs. Lucy squawked. "You're going to have to move further down, Iris," I said. Iris scootched down the wall a bit, but repetitively swung one leg and knee so that it kept striking Lucy's leg. Lucy started to cry. "Move down further, Iris, and stop that." Iris obediently enough moved down immediately, but swung the same leg more vigorously so she was still hitting Lucy's leg. "Iris, I told you to move down so that wouldn't happen. Quit it!"

When that crisis was over, Lucy got bored with her princess and unicorn and threw them on the floor. "I am done with them." Iris became engrossed in her comic, and Lucy demanded her own Simpsons comic, which was at home. I told her to look at the magazines in a big rack by the chair, and she started fussing at me. "I don't want to look at magazines!"

And my husband wonders why I always put off going to the doctor.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

our days

Iris and Lucy:

"We're going to the mall, so put your shoes on!" demanded Iris bossily.

"I hate the mall," said three year-old Lucy.

"That is the STUPIDEST THING I have EVER heard! How can anyone hate a mall?" (Iris paused at this point to call her father on his celphone to inform him that Lucy hates the mall).

Returning to the fray, Iris explained, "A mall is a whole bunch of stores. It's like stores all rolled together into one store. Indoors. How can anyone possibly hate a store of stores? It's crazy!"

Although Lucy complained bitterly all the way to the mall, when she arrived there, she said, "I love it here! I want to stay here until I want to leave!" At various times, when finished with our errands, Iris begged to go home, Lucy would demand, "I want to stay until I want to leave!"

"Ruins"-induced sanity watch update: basically back to normal (or what passes for normal with me), although I did flinch as I walked past an exuberant, red-flowered vine today while going to my friend Lisa's house.