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.

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