Thursday, December 27, 2007


I found a little note, obviously transcribed by Iris Uber Alles from dictation by five year-old Lola:

I'M BRAVE page by Lucy*

Dear Ghost, I hop on one foot, I can jump very high, I'm able to sleep with all the doors closed. I can do bellete[ballet]. If I wasent brave I would tell you. I do things bravly! I AM BRAVE!

* Iris refuses to call Lola by her chosen name and passive-aggressively refers to her as Lucy, her birthname.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas at the Drunken Housewife's

We had a rather quiet Christmas. First, early on Christmas Eve, Lola threw up voluminously all over what was formerly known as "the new couch." Feverish and weak, five year-old Lola was enthroned in the master bedroom and allowed that most treasured perk of the ill: all the videos she could stand. Iris was practically ill herself with jealousy.

Lola was fine the next day, in time for eight year-old Iris Uber Alles to spike a fever late on Christmas and become extremely fussy. Endless mugs of warm milk with honey were ordered up from the kitchen, and Mommy was required to stay by the sickbed at all times. When Mommy sneaked off downstairs to have some Christmas dinner leftovers, a sick and whiny child followed her down, interrupting Mommy's repast with repeated "Will Mommy come back upstairs with Hassie? When will Mommy come back up?" Today the children were listless and refused to leave the house (and indeed, poor Iris Uber Alles had the chills for much of the day). Lola raided her father's candy from his Christmas stocking and took to calling her father each time she unwrapped one of his candies. "Garbage Machine!"

"Did you hear what she calls me?" inquired the Sober Husband. "Garbage Machine!"

"Oh, Garbage Machine!" called Lola again, and she put another candy wrapper into his hand.

Sad to say, being cooped up in the house suited me just fine, given my new addiction to World of Warcraft. I'm equally ashamed and proud to inform the world that my new character has achieved level 22 (in the world of World of Warcraft, level 70 is what one aims for, so a level 22 is not particularly awe-inspiring. However, to have achieved so many levels in just a couple of days is both pathetic and impressive). Last year I held a little party on Christmas Eve which was really wonderful, and the Sober Husband wanted to repeat this, but I shrugged him off on the grounds that I didn't have the time and energy for all the cooking (but to be honest, if I weren't playing Warcraft, I could have made a ten course meal). There is some lip service given to the idea that a party might be held around New Year's.

And what holiday season would be complete without a Christmas miracle? There was one today which left my jaw hanging. The psychopathic little contractor, the one whom I believe tried twice to sabotage my car and who definitely got my friend Joyce ticketed, came up and warned me to move my car so I wouldn't get a ticket for street-cleaning. "Thank you!" I called multiple times, as this saved me $45. I'm still astonished. I hope all of you enjoyed a happy holiday and experienced plenty of your own miracles (and hopefully you got out of the house more than I did!).

Saturday, December 22, 2007

making lists like Richard Nixon

Yesterday I noticed one of Iris's notebooks on the coffeetable, and I idly flipped through it. My casual nosiness was rewarded when I saw a page labelled, "Loser List." The "loser list" read as follows:


Lucy's friends,
Lucy's schoolmates,
Anton (just lately).

* Lola's legal name.
** Lola's best friend.
*** a girl from Iris's school whom Iris heartily despises.

I loved the lawyerlike methodicalness with which Iris singled out everyone associated with Lola: not just Lola and her best friend are losers, but also everyone who goes to school with them! Iris is SO ready to draft interrogatories. Attending law school would be an unnecessary formality. I also loved the way she tempered the Sober Husband's entry with "just lately."

I shared this with the husband, who laughed but then had to stop to ponder, wondering what he had done "lately" to earn the loser status.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

snippets and snails

Overheard at the posh Mollie Stone's supermarket: a middle-aged woman was trying to convince a younger one to hit the salad bar. "When you're older, it's going to be a lot hotter," she wheedled. Global warming = more bikini weather. Who knew climate change provided us with a diet incentive?

Overheard in the parking lot behind Laurel Village: one expensively dressed woman in stilettos with exquisite make-up said to another, "The thing about our relationship is.... (very long pause)... we're both very promiscuous." Thankfully Lola was a bit abstracted and didn't ask me what "promiscuous" means. I'm still worried about how my answer to "What are drugs?" will sound when repeated to other five year-olds.

Overheard in my own home: "When are we going to get a Christmas tree?", said repeatedly by the resident five year-old and eight year-old. Last week and week-end, I was too ill. Last night we should have gone out to get a tree, but the husband and I chose to stay home and play World of Warcraft instead (we did a tricky quest together; isn't it so romantic when spouses can geek out together?). Iris played also but was forced to go to bed twenty minutes after her official bedtime, and her requests that I not play without her were ignored. The husband has been operating on a sleep deficit since the World of Warcraft was introduced into the home.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

back in the front lines

So yesterday was the first day, after a full week of lying about in my pajamas with a trusty vomit bowl at my side, of being Back On The Job. The Sober Husband departed snappily in the morning for his beloved Doggyo, after dropping Iris Uber Alles off at her carpool. It was just me, pitted against five year old Lola and seven cats (the parrot and rats watched warily from the sidelines).

I geared myself up to drive for the first time in over a week and got Lola down to her swimming lessons on time. The only problem was that the swimming lessons were canceled due to remodeling. I would have known that if the Sober Husband had taken Lola to her lesson last week, while I was ill (during his week playing the dual roles of Drunken Housewife and Sober Husband, the man was compelled to cut a few corners, and the swimming lesson was the first thing sacrificed). We compensated for this by visiting the excellent nearby Salvation Army, where I picked up gorgeous silk ties to make Lola a skirt and Lola got the piggybank of her dreams. We also visited Lola's favorite Starbuck's (a rather nondescript one with lackluster baristas who like to turn the air conditioning up waaaaay too far) and Lola's favorite grocery store. In the car on the way home, Lola cradled her piggybank in her arms.

At home, I felt tired and crabby after putting away the groceries and wanted to rest. Lola was upset with me and created a book full of pictures of an upset Lola, ending with a dramatic drawing of a tall mommy towering over Lola and ranting away (a dialogue bubble was filled with dark scribbles), while tears coursed down the face of the tiny penciled-in Lola. There is nothing like a Lola for an effective guilt trip. Lola eventually dozed off.

When the Sober Husband came home, he was tired and crabby as well. "Are you ever going to do these litter boxes?" he demanded. (Normally I clean the boxes every day, but during my week's illness, I was incapacitated. The husband cleaned the boxes just twice, with a huge amount of drama, during that week). "I'm still getting well!" I retorted. "I'll do my best after I rest!" I did clean the boxes, but got quite whiny when the husband interrupted me to locate a package which we needed to send and to sanitize the bathtub so Lola could bathe (one poor kitten had, while I was in the literal act of cleaning the litterboxes, resorted to using the tub for his needs). "I only have two hands!" I said repeatedly.

In love with her new Salvation Army piggybank, Lola carried it all through the house, shaking it to hear her change rattle. In the kitchen, she dropped it and it smashed. I partially cheered her up by saving the face, which was intact (Lola also found the front feet and tearfully asked for those to be saved), which I displayed on the mantle for her. Lola cried brokenheartedly for an hour. The Sober Husband was loftily dismissive ("I try to avoid these attachments") on the basis that material possessions are meaningless and should be avoided (unless they are iPhones or iPods).

Finally the children were put to bed, and we collapsed. I played some World of Warcraft while the husband, holding his scholarly history of the CIA, nagged me over my shoulder. "Go left! Chase it! Chase it!"

"I'm not going to chase it; I'm going to throw things at it!"

"Go left!"

"Leave me alone! You're driving me crazy!"

One day, lounging on the couch in silk pajamas and being brought ginger ale by the children. The next day, time to pull on the sweatpants and do manual labor about the home. I just want to be whisked off to the sanatorium in Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain" so I can be wrapped in blankets and brought out onto a balcony for some fresh air and then perhaps lovingly prepared for a convalescents' ball if all goes well.

Monday, December 17, 2007

no, Lola, you are not actually a cat

Recently Lola had a flu shot, the indignity of which is never to be forgiven.

The other day she stared at the perfectly healed spot in which the vile needle once sunk and inquired, "I don't remember. Did I get a flea shot or a ringworm shot?"

Sunday, December 16, 2007

no one knows you're a preschooler on the WoW

Against my wishes, the Sober Husband has introduced the World of Warcraft into our home. I had consciously shunned WoW over the years, fearing that the husband or I would become obsessed with it (indeed the husband had gone through an extensive obsession with Warcraft II, in the days before WoW was invented. During a more obliging phase of my pregnancy with Iris, I used to while away the hours during my premature labor bedrest creating custom levels for him).

The children are obsessed with it. The husband is facilitating this geeky interest of theirs. Indeed, the other day as I weakly called him to my sickbed, he brushed off my invalid inquiries with a brusque, "I need to help the children with their Warcraft."

All Lola wants to do is create new characters and run around. She favors a more buxom character ("Look! Like Mama!") Tonight, after Iris had gone to bed, I helped Lola pick a name for her latest character, a sexy lady zombie. "How about 'Fluffypants'?" I suggested helpfully. We roared with laughter. "No fair!" shouted Iris from her top bunk in the next room.

Friday, December 14, 2007

still pathetically ill

I finally left the house... to go see my esteemed physician, Dr. Stephanie Scott. It has been my only outing of the week.

Dr. Scott thinks that since my gastro distress has gone on so long, it's not food poisoning, but instead a stomach flu. I'm kind of skeptical, because I think that in general, when digestive disorders come out of the blue so violently, it's food poisoning. In any event, Dr. Scott wrote me some prescriptions, advised me to try hard to eat, and filled me in that "the BRAT diet" has been completely discredited. (As a mother, I've had it beaten in to me over the years, "BRAT, BRAT, BRAT" [bananas, rice, applesauce, toast], but Dr. Scott says there's no evidence whatsoever for its efficacy).

One might have expected that after getting the drugs, I would have been on the mend, but no. I was up in the middle of the night horking my guts out again, and today I've been miserable. I'm consumed with an unending thirst, and I can't get enough ginger ale.

The newest wrinkle in this is that Iris Uber Alles's best friend is flying in for the weekend from Chicago (how cosmpolitan these urban children are). I hesitate to expose her to this, if it is a flu(although the rest of the family remains perfectly healthy). Anton's thought was to get me a hotel room to store me in. Pathetically enough I feel too miserable to enjoy that thought. If only I were healthier, how heavenly it would be to leave the husband with all the little children and instead stretch out in a hotel bed, perhaps calling for room service or pawing through the minibar. The sad reality is that I'd have no one to fetch me more ginger ale and listen to my whining.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

meeting the readers, and acting like a psycho!

So our esteemed commenter Brown (one of the prizewinners from the First, Possibly Annual, Readers' Photo Contest) came all the way across the continent on business, and this seemed a worthy basis to round up some of the local regulars. The august holder of the Mr. Drunken Househusband title, Silliyak, and his esteemed spouse, Moonrabbit, plus commenter A. all convened upon the Drunken Housewife's home last Sunday. All was proceeding according to plan (although I had hoped to hook our dear Hughman up for a videoconference, but that was not to materialize, alas). The commenters were, to a person, as congenial and witty as one would have expected.

But then... I was suddenly overcome by nausea and had to slip out in order to vomit repeatedly. I brushed my teeth, reapplied my lipstick, washed my hands like a surgeon, and went back downstairs. I told the Sober Husband that I felt that I had food poisoning from a questionable egg consumed earlier in the day and needed him to step up to the fore.

I was caught in a dilemma. Here were these delightful people, with their charming hostess gifts and nice manners, ready to spend a lovely evening, and since I'd never met them in person before, perhaps they would think I was some kind of a psycho if I abruptly sent them away. I didn't want to ruin anyone's evening, so I felt I could spare them knowing I'd become ill. (Since then, I've been advised that it was really stupid of me not to immediately send everyone away, as I was risking exposing them. Sorry, beloved commenters! I was a well-intentioned idiot). I slipped away a few times to discreetly be ill, washing my hands like an OCD patient. Soon it became clear that not only was I leaving the room inexplicably, but I was also not joining anyone in eating or drinking. I confessed that I had just developed food poisoning, and the guests carried on.

When I was able to be present in the room, the commenters were just delightful. The low point of the evening (aside from my questionable judgment in not evicting everyone for their own health's sake) was when the Sober Husband slipped off to answer some work emails, while I was slipping off to answer the swan song of salmonella. "I need you!" I hissed at him. "It's emails from the CEO," he said defensively.

So, the record for Meeting The Readers is very mixed. When our dear 2AM visited San Francisco, the Drunken Housewife was in fine health, did not leave the room repeatedly, and got solidly trashed as one would expect of her, and on the whole, performed as billed. The second set of readers got a different experience altogether (but still were wined and dined nonetheless).

After the dear readers departed, things grew worse. I haven't left the house or eaten since. I'm hoping to try some solid food today for the first time in 72 hours. Cross your fingers for me, people, that it goes well!

storing our most treasured possessions

Our house has a weird hidden compartment low in the kitchen. It's clearly designed for storing contraband. The husband terms it a Prohibition thing, and he may be right (the house is old enough).

Today Lola revealed that she had been storing the ribbons she earned at her swimming class there. (She has a rainbow ribbon for not crying, a green ribbon for dog paddling six feet, and most recently and gloriously! a blue ribbon for performing six "upfaces", i.e., swimming far enough with her face in the water that she must raise her head to breathe six times).

If we were ever burgled, the swimming ribbons would have been secure!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

haircut humiliation hell!

The longer-term readers may recall that I have been cutting and dying my own hair as an economy measure (indeed, one darling commenter once wrote, "Don't make me come over there and drag you out by your home-dyed hair!", which reminds me that I need to get off my voluptuous rump and announce that I'm going to start having "Comment of the Week", like the witty Comics Curmudgeon does). However, I felt like changing my hairstyle somewhat, and Iris Uber Alles needed a professional color intervention (I dyed Iris's hair blonde last summer, and it needed a professional assist to move back towards its natural color). So I booked us in together for an appointment, taking the latest one available so as not to cut into the husband's work time.

The Sober Husband was supposed to handle Lola, and he did arrive most satisfactorily at the beginning of our appointment, from whence he whisked Lola away for tea and a brownie at Samovar, an elegant teahouse nearby. However, he wanted to get away in time for a "Dads Night Out" held by our preschool, where the fathers would be convening at a particular bar before moving next door to a poolhall. So he brought Lola back before our mutual appointment was over.

For completely oblique reasons of his own, the Sober Husband brought back a single cupcake (evidently the last one for sale) and a chocolate croissant (intended to be a consolation prize). He asked Iris Uber Alles which one she wanted, and surprise surprise!, she picked the cupcake. Lola burst out into tears, entirely predictably, because Her Big Sister Had A Cupcake And She, Poor Cheated Orphan, Had None. "Bye, sweetie, I've got to go now! Enjoy your appointment with a screaming child!" the husband wittily remarked as he bolted out to make his beer-drinking appointment (and mind you, coincidentally there was a field trip, err, "morale booster" at Doggyo that very same day where all the little employees visited the Anchor Steam Brewery and spent the afternoon seeing how beer is made, so it's not as though he were particularly in need of beer-themed relaxation).

So there I was, mid-haircut, in a tiny hair salon surrounded by non-parents who were clearly not amused by hearing crying. I called Lola to me and held her in my lap. I promised her a cupcake later, which my non-breeding hairdresser Michele thought was poor parenting. "She had a brownie already!" said Michele. "But that didn't have frosting on it, and she has to see her sister eat the cupcake!" I said weakly. (Of course, it would have made sense to split the cupcake in half, but I just inherited the situation from my husband).

The always perky Nancy, co-owner of the salon, got down a gothic Tim Burton doll from a display to cheer Lola up, and I got her to sit next to me, away from her sister. Meanwhile Iris made sure to eat her cupcake slowly and luxuriantly, theatrically savoring each bite. She gave me her napkin and the scorned chocolate croissant to throw away.

I slunk out of the salon after paying, carrying my stench of Bad Parent Who Takes Crying Children Into A Place Where They Don't Belong with me.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

achievement du jour

So today I had set myself, for once, a list of things to achieve and had even blown off a lunch invitation from friend (and occasional commenter) Joyce in my zeal for achievement, but that was interrupted by an official phone call announcing that the normally uberhealthy Iris Uber Alles had spiked a high fever at school. I told the school I'd be there in 45 minutes, which was greeted by a sigh and the distinct inference that I am a slacking, unsatisfactory mother (I thought 45 minutes was pretty prime! What if I'd been in court or in the East Bay?).

Hence, my planned day of productivity became a day of keeping a feverish child company. We have snuggly foster kittens, we have warm blankets, and we have a laptop. On the one occasion I ventured downstairs, the fevered child dragged herself from the bed to cry plaintively from the stairs, "Mommy? Where are you?"

However, that didn't stop me from making progress towards crossing off one of the "evergreens" from my to-do list. I suspect even the most die-hard readers have forgotten that I vowed to invent a Drunken Housewife cocktail. With a headache and a crabby child confined to bed, I felt like a drink, and on the spur of the moment, I combined a healthy shot of vodka with a large dose of maple syrup(inspired by a throw-away mention by the esteemed Eric Felten that maple syrup can be used in cocktails), plus some sparkling water. As they would say in the Philippines, "Masarap!" Fabulous! I may just need to refine this and dub it with the Drunken Housewife nomme. Cheers, y'all.

Monday, December 03, 2007

a lovely Monday morning with those darling spouses, the Drunken Housewife and Sober Husband

I was lounging in bed, nursing the tail-end of a migraine, when the Sober Husband requested I join him downstairs for coffee and newspapers (which is usually our happy little social hour). Over coffee, the Sober Husband trotted out the following topics, which were delivered with an unblinking stare and deep, guilt-provoking tones of voice:

- the impending property tax payment and our need to draw on the home equity line to cover it, which segued not-so-nicely into

- the horrendous debt associated with the home equity line and its unfavorable interest rate (so why did we refinance the frigging equity line if that means we got a worse rate???);

- a misdemeanor committed by one of the kittens (a spool of thread was carried throughout the house by the little criminal, leaving an annoying spiderweb of thread behind until the thread was exhausted, at which point the furry miscreant abandoned the empty thread on the staircase);

- the appalling status of the housework, and

- how the Sober Husband planned to pull an all-nighter that evening at St. Doggyo working. (This is all well and fine for him, especially as there is plenty of camaraderie and catered food, but the reality for me is a lack of a break from the dear little children and a tired, crabby husband for the rest of the week).

I interrupted the delightful flow of conversation at this point and told him if he couldn't think of anything which would be as a ray of sunshine for the poor defeated Drunken Housewife who had spent the weekend with a severe migraine and a mother-in-law, then I wished death would come and deliver me from any more of this. A silence followed.

a plea at Christmastime: down with the Moose

If there is a special vegetarian in your life and you wish to buy that person a wonderful gift which reflects their incomprehensible vegetarian lifestyle, for the love of God don't get them the vastly overrated "Moosewood Cookbook."

As the holiday season rolls around, I know, sure as those motherfucking swallows return to Capistrano, I'm going to get another "Moosewood Cookbook." Why is it that this asinine book with its childish drawings is the only vegetarian cookbook any non-vegetarian has ever heard of? And why is it that the publishers keep tweaking it, so my carnivorous relatives think, "Oh, it's the Twentieth Anniversary issue of 'The Moosewood Cookbook'! It will look so nice on the Drunken Housewife's shelves right next to the Tenth Anniversary one and the regular one and the Sunday brunch one!"

Of course, what I write in the thank you note is along the lines of "Thank you so much for the thoughtful gift. Yes, I am still a vegetarian! I appreciated it so much", but as I write those lines this year, I'll be seething. Not just because I actually hate that cookbook, but because the author, Mollie Katzen, has not only taken up eating meat but had a preachy interview with "Food & Wine" about how carnivores are the new vegetarians. It turns out that Ms. Katzen has decided that now one can buy dead free range cows, only the prissiest of vegetarians wouldn't take up eating meat. (I think there should be a law against non-vegetarians trying to exploit the vegetarian market, kind of like the one which prevents murderers from profiting off tell-all books of how enjoyable the actual murder was). Thanks a lot, Ms. Katzen. Not only am I stuck seeing your stupid book under my tree every year, now I'll have the added joy of knowing that you're taking the profits to buy meat.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Lola views the Golden Gate Bridge, that paragon of hygiene

Today five year-old Lola saw her first live theatre, a production of "Cinderella" by a children's theatre group. I had to park a half mile away due to the overwhelming craziness of a holiday season weekend at Fort Mason (Craftswomen of Northern California annual event! The Guardsmen Christmas tree lot! Jewelry show! Animal rights film festival! Rhode Island School of Design Graduates sample sale!).

After the show, Lola started to lag as we trudged to the car. To distract her, we looked at various birds as we walked along, and finally we came across a postcard view of the bridge. "Look, Lola, it's the Golden Gate Bridge! Isn't it beautiful!"

Lola took this opportunity to once again stop walking, and she pondered the bridge. "Yes, it is beautiful. It must have been cleaned many, many times!"

what a day

Yesterday I had a migraine and my mother-in-law was in town.

In the evening Iris Uber Alles came up stairs to visit me on my sickbed. She was near tears over a conflict with her little sister in which evidently the winsome Lola had achieved a grandmother-assisted victory. We put on "The Simpsons" and snuggled. Looking up with love, Iris asked, "Will Mommy ever leave me?"

It was the only nice thing that happened to me in days.

Monday, November 26, 2007

no one reads the newspaper any more

Today Leah Garchik's popular column in the San Francisco Chronicle had a paragraph quoting me:
"Carole Morrell says that zombies are the new vampires, dodgeball is the new Fight Club, and she read in the Wall Street Journal, sopranos are the new tenors (as in Three Tenors).

Evidently no one I know, save moi, reads the Chron, as no one noticed this. The only person who was impressed was five year-old Lola, who carefully struggled to read my name out loud.

Aeons ago I wrote a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe, and when that ran, I got mail and phone calls from people who'd read it (this rather modest accomplishment was hyped up by my friends and its fame grew undeservedly, until one went so far as to introduce me to someone, saying, "She had an op-ed in the New York Times!"). My experience would substantiate the general understanding that newspapers are dying in this internet world.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

easily impressed

Five year-old Lola often says, with a sage expression on her face, "Only God knows the future!" (Lola has taken to religion lately and recently informed me that she had prayed for the Tooth Fairy to come).

Recently Iris and Lola were in the kitchen, and Iris announced, "I'm going to fart" and then followed through on her promise.

In tones of awe, Lola inquired, "Iris, how did you know the future?"

Only God and Iris know the future. But can Iris summon the Tooth Fairy?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I am thankful

Today is Thanksgiving, and although I was in a funk earlier this week over my birthday (which my mother-in-law forgot, which is annoying because she sent out four emails this week micromanaging her own birthday celebration which won't occur until frigging July of next year), today I'm feeling happy and thankful.

I am so lucky to live in a beautiful house in one of the most beautiful cities of the world. Every day, I am surrounded by natural and manmade splendor. Even though I've lived here long enough that I don't pay a lot of attention to the gorgeous view from my bedroom window, every time I drive over 30th Avenue to pick up Iris Uber Alles at school, my breath is taken away as I crest that hill and see the Marin headlands and the bay.

And who out there has better children? Practically every day (except the days when they are being total little pills) I am amazed and astounded by how funny, smart, sweet, and beautiful Iris and Lola are. I drew the lucky sperms with those two girls, all right.

I have my health (true, my metabolism has just been hosed since I went on Paxil for post-partum depression, but I'm healthy!).

I have the one-of-a-kind Sober Husband., but the Sober Husband is a dogged kind of husband who always comes through when there's a problem. He's good-looking, brilliant, competent (always able to fix my sewing machine when it gets that annoying thread tension problem and able to find my "Project Runway Canada" fixes), and kind (although we are at odds currently over whether I can buy Iris a Hello Kitty electric guitar for Christmas).

I feel I've often had poor luck with friends, sometimes ending up falling out with them (ask me about the former BFF who vandalized my garage) and sometimes ending up having them move far away (lately I've been missing my BFF from my early legal career, who lives in France), but the truth is that I have some wonderful friends who are there for me and who are smart and funny.

And finally, I am so grateful for you readers. You listen to the stories of my little kids with the attention of a doting blood relative. When my kitten was mauled by a raccoon, you generously contributed and covered the emergency vet bills, enabling me to continue fostering kittens. You write comments which make me smile and sometimes laugh out loud. When I'm feeling depressed, you have kind things to say. You are each and every one of you appreciated very much (well, maybe not so much the one who wrote nasty things about me on the Elizabeth Wurtzel entry, but I suspect she hasn't bookmarked the page). You're a part of my life now, oddly enough (indeed I've had "real life" friends ask me such things as, "So, what's up with Hughman?") Smooches to each and every one of you, your devoted Drunken Housewife.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

vampire fairies

Iris and Lola are dancing and pretending to be fairies. "We are frolicking, and I am the center of attention," instructs eight year-old Iris Uber Alles. "Frolic around me!"

They get thirsty, and I give them goblets of sparkling cider. "We could put blood in there, "suggests five year-old Lola.

"We are fairies! Fairies don't drink blood!"

"You could be vampire fairies," I suggest, inspired by Lola's "witch fairy" costume for Halloween.

"Vampire fairies!" They run off into the next room.

"We drink this after we kill a human," instructs Iris in a low voice. "Grab a human and bite it!"

"Death of a human!" shouts Lola merrily.

"We celebrate the death of a human!" They dance to the Mozart CD playing loudly.

"We are so happy! Blood of a human!"

why oh why, cruel fates?

"Why was I born a pencilneck?" eight year-old Iris Uber Alles mourned. "Why, why, why? Why must I be a pencilneck?"

Monday, November 19, 2007

a dark secret

Cradling the foster kitten named "Datebread" in her arms, five year-old Lola sang softly this morning, "Datebread, I love Datebread. Why are you named 'Datebread?' What dark secret made you be named 'Datebread?' What dark, dark secret made you be named 'Datebread?'"

(The hideous truth is that Datebread's coloration is that of datebread, which sparked the name. It could have been worse. Her brother is named "Henry the Hairball").

it's my birthday (tomorrow), and I'll cry if I want to (today and tomorrow, but hopefully not the day after)

So I've been in a huge funk lately. It's an annual thing: I always get depressed this time of the year. Some people who have been unlucky in love get depressed every year at Valentine's Day. Many, many people get depressed at Christmas. Me, I love Valentine's Day and Christmas. For me, it's my birthday which is the quagmire of unhappiness on the calendar.

The roots of this malaise are in my childhood. Let me just say that my own parents have forgotten my birthday twice. When I say forgotten, I mean F-O-R-G-O-T-T-E-N. One year they asked me why I was being so curt with them, and I informed them that it was because they hadn't called me on my birthday (or sent a card or a gift, but I left it at calling), and there was an awkward pause. "Umm... what... when is it... OH, YOU'RE RIGHT!"

My ex-husband sucked at my birthdays as well. The entire time I was married to him, I didn't have a birthday cake. In theory I could have made one myself or bought one, but that seemed too pathetic. One year he told me all excitedly about a bakery he'd gone to and a wonderful cake I would have loved which he'd considered buying. I heard this story over a cakeless meal at home.

Now the Sober Husband makes a genuine effort (and a genuine cake) each year, but still there's a seasonal depression. It's exacerbated this year by a recent visit from my parents and by a first-time-ever Thanksgiving funk. Thanksgiving has always been fine by me, a pretty happy day, but last year I was traumatized when none of my invitees RSVPed. Right up to the day before Thanksgiving, every time I asked, all invited guests would say, "Uh, I don't know." This was so weird for me. Every other year I'd invited people for Thanksgiving, I got firm answers and plenty of happy acceptances. Two of the invitees had spent Thanksgiving at my house the year before and had a wonderful time, getting drunk off French battle cocktails (the same drinks Napoleon's officers quaffed to get their nerves ready for the fighting) and eating past satiety. It's not as if I were reaching socially, as the invitees were comprised of my brother-in-law (the only in-law who likes me), his wife, a friend and her daughter, the friend's best friend, and a single woman who had proclaimed her loneliness and lack of options. When it came to the week of Thanksgiving, I had no idea what to buy, how much to cook, and whether anyone was coming. In the event, none of them did show up, but the children, husband and I had an amazing feast by ourselves.

This year, I couldn't bring myself to invite anyone. I couldn't set myself up for that again. At least the husband and children will be here, and indeed Iris Uber Alles has been shocked by my inertia. "Aren't you making that cranberry sauce again? I love that! It's good!"

I should focus on all the other Thanksgivings, where the guests RSVPed and came and were happy, and just write off last year as an anomaly. If it weren't the same frigging week as my birthday, perhaps I could, but it's just not the right time of the year for me to be breezy and glass-half-full. It's not as though I've been traumatized right out of inviting in general I've had some dinner parties since then, which were all perfectly fine (at least so far as I know. Lord only knows what the guests have to say). I just feel unwilling to try Thanksgiving again.

Last week, I felt great before my parents came (and before I had $1,800 in emergency repairs done to my car... which sadly does not appear to have been fixed, and before I had a fight with my husband over whether it is reasonable for his mother to require that we fly to Martha's Frigging Vineyard on the other side of the continent and stay in some godawful house with his family for HER birthday AND a squabble with the husband over whether it was reasonable for me to spend $17 on a Spongebob DVD for Lola, and, less selfishly, before the San Francisco bay oilspill, which is profoundly depressing and which causes guilt in me because my personal response so far has been only one day of volunteering). Hopefully next week will be another week of cheer. This week, though, is going to require a stiff upper lip (and possibly some French battle cocktails).

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Halloween sweatshop hell: The more attentive readers might wonder, "Did she ever finish those costumes? Or did she just say 'the hell with it' and open up a bottle of Ketel One and then pass out, with her head on a pile of spider patterned tulle?" Look here for your answer.

the sociopathic contractor: I haven't been crossing paths directly with the contractor. He has ceased putting pylons into the street, which makes my life less unpleasant, but he did violate his permit by working late at least once, with a huge, cacophonous cement truck (I didn't call the police on that noise violation because I was, for once in a blue moon, actually going out that evening, although I could have). His workmen parked in front of my driveway one day, but the husband had them move.

The sociopath's permit provides him with a fixed space of 30 feet and the right to have cars ticketed or towed which park there. The reality is that he shifts it about and actually takes up more than that, as well as unallotted space on the other side of the street. Recently my friend Joyce came to visit and parked near the construction. She looked for the signs, but there wasn't one by her car. When she left, she discovered that the evil contractor had moved one of his signs next to her car and that she'd gotten an expensive parking ticket.

In order for her to be ticketed, the contractor had to actually take time out from work and call the Department of Parking and Transportation to ask them to send out a Cushman. This street is not patrolled and ticketed unless it's street cleaning time. What a petty jerk he is. I noticed that yesterday a neighbor parked by one of his signs and didn't get ticketed. This added believability to my theory, which is that the contractor saw Joyce go into my house and that's why he called DPT. (There is paranoia and then there is having an actual enemy. The Sober Husband thinks this is the first, while I'm in the second camp).

"I feel like some industrial sabotage," griped Joyce, who is joining me in the club of people who hate the little contractor.

"I hear you," I said. "We gotta wear gloves, though. My fingerprints are on file with the state of California."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Frowstomatic's doppelganger

Thanks to Dlisted (your choice destination for weird cat news as well as Amy Winehouse updates), I learned about Sgt. Podge, a British cat with a striking resemblance to our own Frowst. It turns out Sgt. Podge, like Frowsty, has a marked sense of entitlement. He wanders off each night and is picked up by his owner at the same spot -- a mile and a half from home -- every morning, whereupon he climbs into the family's luxury car with elan.

Glamorous fluffy cats. Those bastards will take over the earth.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

so it's come to this: I'm quoting Silliyak

I have no idea if any of the readers quote me (although I did run across a quote from me once online, I think it's more likely someone would quote the irrepressible Lola or the unquenchable Iris Uber Alles). However, the other day I found myself quoting our esteemed commenter, Silliyak, when I was telling a story about the Sober Husband.

"As a friend* of mine said once, 'It's so special to have a spouse who always knows just the right thing to say, like a Hallmark card.'"

I should have said "invisible friend" or even "reader", as I so pretentiously refer to my commenters, but I was talking to my mother, who doesn't know about this blog. I've never told my parents or family about this blog, because the parents are so conservative and religious that they would find no end of things to criticize and be shocked by here. However, I probably could tell them and they wouldn't bother to read it. The Sober Husband mentioned my "website" several times, and my mother didn't ask what sort of "website" it was. I think my parents just don't find me very interesting.

Friday, November 09, 2007

dodgeball is the new Fight Club

"Did you know grown-ups play dodgeball now?" a mommy friend asked me.

"I've heard of kickball leagues."

"It turns out there's a club for dodgeball. My daughter's teacher plays. They play in different locations every time. They don't know where they're playing until they get a call on the day."

"Oh, like raves used to be, all underground."

"Some of the parents went to see her play. They said she was really good!"

We discussed dodgeball memories from our own youth. I had a traumatic experience involving a hard hit to the head which caused my glasses to fly across the room. The other mother had nothing but good memories. Evidently she was quite an assassin with the ball.

"I'd love to play like that," she said wistfully. "But I can't see myself getting out of the house for it. Can you see me saying, 'I have to go play dodgeball now' so my husband has to take care of the kids?"

"You could hold the ball menacingly," I suggested. I held an imaginary dodgeball in a threatening manner and snarled, "I'm going to play dodgeball now!"

Monday, November 05, 2007

it's Lola's world; we just live in it

"This is my world, my land, my universe, and my butt!" proclaimed five year-old Lola.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

escape from Childless Island

The more attentive readers may recall that in October, the Drunken Housewife successfully abandoned her small children and Sober Husband to go away for a weekend of adult pleasures in the hills of Mendocino. How the old thing got there has been described, but the rest of the story has not yet been told.

So after four and half hours of horrendous, parking lot-like conditions on the highway, my beloved acquaintance Kimmie and I arrived as night and a light rain were falling. I set up my tent in a most haphazard manner, as nearby fellow partiers/campers inquired, "Does that look right to you? I don't think that looks right" and "Are you sure you're doing that right?"

"So long as I have my little plastic hole to crawl into, I'll be fine," I said optimistically. Ever the dutiful New England Puritan at heart (only so far as work ethic is concerned, not so far as blue laws, drowning witches, and anti-nudity laws go), I was feeling guilty about having arrived late for my volunteer shift in the kitchen. I trotted off and spent some quality time chopping massive quantities of cilantro for the redoubtable Chef Juke, a computer man who spends his free time cooking for large groups of people. Dinner for 150? No problem for Juke!

I had a lovely evening, but it was so much tamer than I'd expected. This camping weekend is somewhat legendary for its outdoor debauchery: porn clowns, whipping posts, adult party favors, naked hot tubbers roaming off into the woods together, etc... This time, though, it was what one might call "brass monkey weather": it was freezing out (literally). After dinner, everyone hunched up by the fire or went off to bed early.

So I traipsed off to bed, crawling into my sleeping bag sober and alone, in flannel pajamas, a hooded sweatshirt, and heavy wool socks. I pulled a couple of blankets over my sleeping bag and curled up.... to not go to sleep. I was so frigging cold and miserable. I slept less than 2 hours total, dozing off occasionally but then being awoken by my own shivering. I have a lovely three seasons tent, in which I had happily slept before during a snowstorm in Utah, but on that occasion I was delightfully accompanied by the Sober Husband (who was at that point a Less-than-sober Boyfriend). It turns out that this tent can be heated up by two people's body heat, but one voluptuous Drunken Housewife alone cannot create enough heat.

In the wee hours I gave up and crawled out, brushed my teeth, grabbed a bottle of sparkling wine and a couple of Red Bulls from my cooler, and curled up in my camping chair, covered by blankets, with these fine beverages and a good novel. I heard a car drive by at an angry clip, leaving the camping trip, but otherwise, it was quiet, other than the occasional rattling snores heard from nearby RVs. I finished my Mark Haddon novel and my Red Bulls in chilly majesty.

Gradually everyone else got up, and I got dressed and wandered down to the center camp for coffee and breakfast. I found some fellow parents, Abs and Toad, also flying solo for the weekend. I poured them each a cup of sparkling wine and proposed a toast: "We are the alpha parents!" Toad joined in: "The beta parents are home with the zeta kids!" At this, a childless acquaintance standing by chastised me, pointing out how Toad's wife was likely to react at hearing this (no one was concerned about how the Sober Husband or Abs' husband would react to this. Oh, how fearsome Abs and I must be that our poor husbands are assumed to be used to submitting to our wills).

I told everyone that it had been my first night sleeping alone in a tent by myself and it was probably going to be my last. "I either need to check into a hotel tonight or have a one night stand," I said repeatedly. The reactions to this fell into two categories: people who spent the night with one or more significant others (there was at least one "triad" in attendance) or in sturdy RVs, who were astonished to hear that I was such a pathetic weakling as to have been bothered by the cold when they themselves enjoyed such a wonderful night's sleep, and those who were in tents by themselves or with skinny companions who throw off little heat, who had also been miserable. The most satisfactory of these responses came from my friend Bridget, who it turns out was the driver of the early morning angry car. She slept so little and was so miserable that she set out to leave at the break of dawn, but after leaving, she reconsidered and came back. This made me feel like less of a outdoors weakling (after all, I'm from Maine originally and grew up in a home where the heater was set at 42 degrees, but then I was accustomed to sharing my bed with a large dog and several cats, and in general I was used to winter suffering).

I had a lovely day chatting with people. I had my very first tarot reading, from the amazing Epiphany. I took a long walk. But all the while, I was teetering back and forth about leaving. I intended to leave before sunset, but the delightful M talked me out of it and served me a yummy basilico cocktail. However, finally the sun was getting low... and I felt so guilty over not having talked to Lola on the phone (the older Iris is so independent that I was sure she was fine, but Lola had been very opposed to her mother leaving)... so I decided to go. I really couldn't face another night of shivering alone in my tent, and I wanted to get into celphone range. I quickly flung my things into the car and drove off.

While the sun was still up, I did fine navigating the tricky intersections and turns in the hills. I found a great local radio station, and I congratulated myself upon my wonderful sense of direction. This, of course, was the kiss of doom. The next thing I knew, it was darkdarkdark, and I was lost. I spent the next two hours driving around slowly trying to find my way to the town of Willits.

For the first hour or so, my equanimity was perfect. After all, I had food, water, sparkling wine, and a sleeping bag with me. If I had to spend the night in my car, I would have no real problems.

Over the second hour, I slowly started to feel stressed. I was in some pretty remote hills, and I started to feel sorry for myself. Finally I drove near a house with plenty of lights on, and I decided to stop for directions. As soon as I pulled into the driveway, a pack of hounds started barking maniacally. I decided not to walk up to the house, since the last thing I wanted was to provoke a pack of dogs. A man who evidently had quite a buzz on wandered out of the house to see what was going on. He found the novelty of a lost woman quite intriguing and he would have liked to help, but he was incapable of giving good directions. "You'll want to go left, then right, then go across the bridge and take the third left, but watch out for the Y..." I asked him if he knew any of the street names, and he didn't. His directions were entirely incomprehensible and unhelpful, but I got one thing of value from him: I asked him to just point towards Willits, and I drove away in that direction, planning to stop again at the next suitable house.

It took me over half an hour of stressful driving in the dark in the middle of nowhere to find another house which looked reasonable to stop at. I only wanted to go to a house with plenty of lights on, as I didn't want to disturb anyone (people go to bed earlier in rural areas, as I know all too well from my own childhood), and I didn't want to get cornered by dogs at a house where the owners were out. Finally I found a normal-looking house with both the telltale glow of a large television set and several lights on, and I pulled in. From the road, it looked like there was a pleasant front porch with a front door, but when I walked up, I saw that the porch had been blocked off, which seemed strange, but I overlooked it and walked around to the back of the house and knocked. A man came to the door. At this point, I began to feel self-conscious about my clothes: I hadn't changed before setting off in a hurry, and I was wearing a very low-cut zebra striped shirt over a push up bra. Clearly it was a fascinating novelty for this country dweller to find a middle-aged woman dressed like a skank at his door at night. I pulled my neckline up self-consciously. This fellow didn't feel like just handing out directions until he'd wrapped his mind around how I'd come to be there. "Where's your car? You aren't on foot, are you? You were camping?"

Finally he got to the point of offering me directions, and his were excellent. It turns out I had blundered near town, although it was still unpopulated where I was. The man, so amused and bemused over my arrival, became quite solicitous and offered that I come in to warm up, get something to drink, etc... All I wanted was a hotel, the security of knowing where I was, and celphone service, but I did ask if I could use the bathroom. My host pointed the way and then disappeared into the front of his house.

It was clearly a bachelor home, messy in that way of a man who lives alone, and I felt fine until I saw a side door, which had several shotguns up against it. Usually in hunting homes, shotguns are kept in racks or in a gun closet, so these guns looked more like they were there to defend that particular door. Then the bathroom itself seemed weird: unlike the rest of the house, it was large and clinically clean, brightly lit and weirdly aseptic. "This must be where he disposes of his victims,", I thought. I scurried out of the bathroom and then saw a large number of guns leaning up around the very same door I'd gone into. I've grown up around guns, but never have I been in a home which seemed so clearly set up to annihilate anyone who ventured to the door. I turned my head in the direction my host had gone, but all I saw was a large screen TV with a closeup of a man having his brains blown out on it. "Thanks so much, I'm on my way now!" I called cheerily, and I scuttled quickly to my car before my new acquaintance, whom I was viewing right now as a potential serial killer (but also a possible good ally in any future zombie wars) could get back into the same room. As I practically ran past the front porch, the fact that it had been blocked off now seemed ominous and significant.

I calmed down in my car as the gun enthusiast's directions proved excellent, and soon I was in Willits. The directions were so good that I wondered if I had misjudged this fellow, and I contemplated whether, since I had nothing else to do, I should go back and watch television with him.

I succeeded in checking into the hotel recommended by my friend M., a western-themed hotel, where I was disappointed to be assigned to the Post Office room rather than the Saloon. I talked on the phone to the children (where I learned to no surprise that Lola had indeed been crying for me). The Sober Husband, upon hearing that I was in Willits, announced to the children that Mommy would be home in a few hours! "NO!" I shouted over the sounds of celebration. "My nerves are too shot to drive! I only had two hours sleep! I'm not safe to drive! I told you I'm at a hotel!" Instead I curled up with Scarlett Thomas's "PopCo" and a bag of wasabi peas; I woke up just before check-out time at 11:00 AM. I got home the next day in the early afternoon.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

where's the art in it?

So Chicken John Rinaldi, a local bon vivant from Burning Man circles, is running for mayor. At one point I received an email solicitation from someone (not from Mr. Rinaldi) urging me to donate and saying that "this is the greatest art ever!"

I just don't get it. Where is the art? Where is the orginality in it? Jello Biafra ran for mayor of San Francisco already, and I think there was a lot more political discourse that time around. Everyone tends to forget that Jack Fertig, a.k.a. "Sister Boom Boom" of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence also ran for mayor before.

There seems to be a lot of credulity about. A local blogger, who writes for a weekly newspaper and really should know better, wrote all agush that Chicken John is one of the founders of Burning Man and therefore we should all vote for him. Well, actually, wasn't Chicken John in high school when Burning Man was founded? All the founders are about twenty years older than C.J. When I was a member of the Burning Man LLC, Chicken John had a very tiny role doing some materiel transportation. Chicken John for several years ran a local bar very popular with the Buring Man set, and that is an accomplishment indeed (most people don't have it together enough to be able to meet the various financial and legal requirements needed for a liquor license, as well as run an actual day-to-day business), but not much of a basis upon which to run for mayor.

Even if Chicken John had founded Burning Man, why would that be a reason to vote for him? I adore Larry Harvey, the actual founder of Burning Man, but I would never suggest that Larry would be a good mayor of a major city. (Larry's just not good enough at getting up in the morning to function well as mayor).

Chicken John's ballot statement was pretty boring and seemed to express only that voting for him is somehow threatening to the establishment and a good time. There have always been truly eccentric minority candidates on the ballot, so I don't see why it's so wacky and life-affirming to vote for Chicken.

I'm not enamoured of Mayor Newsom in the least and would really love to see him voted out. I'm disappointed that there has been no substantive opposition at all. There hasn't been any fun anarchy that I've noticed, either. I wish Chicken had done something on a larger, more vivid scale. So far, I don't see the art in any of this, and I don't see any interesting political commentary, either. What I mostly see is people forgetting history.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

one I get, but not the other

Just turned five, Lola seems to be growing up with an interesting set of prejudices here in San Francisco. Today at the playground she sang softly to herself as I pushed her on a swing, "We're here, we're queer; we're here, we're queer."

Tonight as we ate pizza (jack o'lanterns are taking up the whole kitchen, so no cooking tonight), Anton asked the children (for some opaque reason of his own) if they knew who was the Jewish person in the family. Iris opined, "You, me and Lola!"

Lola protested, "But I don't have any money!!"

[Technically these children, born to a WASP mother and a secular Jew, are not Jewish, but they do enjoy "the right of return", meaning that they could exercise the option to live in Israel, but of course Lola would have to work hard to get the money for the flight].

Sunday, October 28, 2007

just a little ray of sunshine

I tend to be a bit of a negative person, given to ranting and kvetching and bitching, but here are some Things I Love:

* coffee from Southeast Asia. Most of all, I love Celebes Kalossi coffee, oh the best coffee for me ever, but also Mokka Java and Sulawesi. These are the coffees for me. When I went to Borneo, I didn't get a bad cup of coffee. Of course, there coffee was traditionally served with a thick layer of sweetened condensed milk at the bottom of the cup, so one may stir in as much as one wishes. I would drink my coffee like that every day were it not so fattening (evidently I am not so metabolically gifted or energetic as the Borneans);

* Wesley Anderson's movies. I'm excited to see his newest film (hoping to cajole my parents into a night of babysitting when they visit soon). I loved "Rushmore", "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou", and "The Royal Tenenbaums." He's my ideal director/visionary, one who creates a film with a strong ensemble cast, clever dialogue, and understated yet complex backdrops;

* Lola! She slept in her Halloween costume two nights in a row, loving it so much. "It's not even itchy one bit", she gallantly insisted;

* "The Walking Dead" ongoing comic serial. People, zombies are the new vampire! Auteur Robert Kirkman has the ambition of running his comic book for thirty years, covering the every day life of men after the onslaught of the zombies, and he's given us many a volume so far. Currently I am FRIGGING SPELLBOUND, waiting anxiously for the current cliffhanger to be resolved (hopefully without too many of my favorite characters being killed). Mr. Kirkman is a gifted author, and his scenarios are so stmospheric that they can interfere with one's sleep;

* sangria! I made a large pitcher today with two bottles of red wine, a cup of cognac (I was out of brandy, so had to use cognac... at least I didn't delve into the armagnac for it), and the customary fruit and sugar. How I love a traditional sangria;

* my current litter of foster kitten tabbies, who love to curl up against my neck and purr. Yes, they have a lot of litterbox accidents, but they are so snuggly and dear;

* driving barefoot. Why is this illegal? I have perfect control over the gas and brake with my muscular and flexible big toe, which is more responsive when not blunted by an awkward shoe. How I love to drive barefoot, accelerating and braking with such sensitivity yet verve;

* "Project Runway Canada", which features Iman as the Heidi Klum. The judges are oh so polite, living up to the stereotype of Nice Canadians, but the designers are just as egotistical, short-tempered, given to bursting into song to mock the others, and short-sighted as the American designers. And the clothes: Sheer Genius strutting down the runway next to Oh So Misguided. I could never get enough of "Project Runway Canada." Check out the Slice channel site, which features blogs by the designers (love Biddell's bitchy blog, where he refers to himself constantly in the third person as "the Biddell" and where he snarks at guest judges/Heatherette designers, calling them "the Paris Hilton of fashion").

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

criminal tendencies in a second grader: the teacher weighs in

So yesterday I reported that eight year-old Iris Uber Alles had filled out a homework assignment in an irreverent manner. Specifically, when asked "Lin wants to buy a toy and has $3. The toy costs $2. What will Lin do?", Iris had written, "Lin will use the five finger discount." In what was perhaps not one of my more stellar moments of parental oversight, I found that hilarious and did not tell her to write a more serious answer.

Tonight Iris's concerned second grade teacher called. It turns out that the teacher did not know what "five finger discount" means. She asked her husband, who explained that it meant shoplifting. Rather than find this amusing, the teacher became alarmed that eight year-old Iris is a seasoned thief. She quickly picked up the phone to alert us to our child's criminal musings. (The Sober Husband reassured her that Iris Uber Alles is an irreverent but law-abiding child).

It's best that the Sober Husband fielded that call, as again my reaction was to laugh uncontrollably.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Halloween sweatshop hell!!!!

So last year Iris wanted to be her cat, Frowstomatic the Immortal God, for Halloween. I was pretty busy with the auction at Lola's preschool and some other things, so I jumped at that chance to get off easy. I bought Iris a black turtleneck and black leggings, and I butchered a boa for a tail. We already owned a black hat with kitten ears.

But then Lola decided to be her cat, Al the idiotic orange tabby, and I couldn't just assemble that easily from pieces. So I sewed her an orange cat costume from scratch.

As we trick-or-treated, everyone oohed and aahed over Lola's costume, while poor Iris got little attention.

So this year the priority is Iris's costume, and Iris decided a month ago that she and one of her friends wanted to have matching costumes. So I'm tediously sewing them elaborate gowns for their witch costumes... from slippery Halloween fabrics which are a terrible pain to work with...

and I just discovered that the little wrists and cuffs are too small to fit over the sewing surface of my crappy old Singer Fashionmate, so now I have A TON OF FUSSY LITTLE HANDSEWING TO DO. My God. How I hate this kind of handsewing. Now I am not lazy about sewing; I'm about a third of the way through piecing together a king sized handsewn quilt, but that is sensible handsewing done with sturdy, easy-to-sew cottons, not some crappy polyester patterned with silver cobwebs. (And don't suggest I shouldn't buy crappy polyester if I don't want to sew it; the children selected this one and set their hearts on it).

I had previously decided to skip the step of handsewing NINE YARDS OF SEQUINED TRIM (I am not joking. Four and a half yards x two costumes = nine yards of unpleasant hand sewing), deciding that if the little children wanted sequins, they could sew them on with their own little hands. But now I'll be up sewing by hand for hours anyway.

Meanwhile the husband had a hard day at the old grind: his funky high-tech start-up held a treasure hunt today. Yes, a treasure hunt. He spent the afternoon running about downtown solving clues, and the evening drinking in a bar. The poor man got a bit of a sucker punch: when I called him to inquire why he had not picked up Iris Uber Alles from her afterschool playdate, I was in a good mood and authorized him to stay and drink. But by the time he came home, I'd lost valuable sewing time driving around to pick up Iris, the children had started squabbling, some weird bugs which breed under our deck at this time of year and give Lola hysterics had gotten in, and I'd discovered that I'd be forced to handsew for hours. So when he arrived by taxi, I bit his head off about how this is two nights he's been out drinking in the last few days when he knows I'm so busy with these frigging costumes and need help around the house. It's getting about time to rename him the Drunken Husband and call me the Sober Seamstress (or perhaps Sober Shrew).

criminal tendencies in a second grader

Iris has asked me on several occasions lately about juvenile hall. "Am I old enough to go to juvie? Is it jail for kids? Is it like jail? What is it like? Were you ever arrested?"

Tonight she was doing her homework, which was "predictions." I took a look. One scenario was that a little girl named Lin wants to buy a toy and has $3. The toy costs $2. What will Lin do? Iris had written, "Lin will use the five finger discount."

I burst out laughing. "What? What?" asked Iris.

"Hassenpfeffer, your teachers aren't going to want to leave their bags in the classroom."

"They already don't," noted Iris.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

housework & a news flash from a sister working in a hospital

Since the readers and I have been thinking of late about housework and the domestic division of labor, I shall pass on an update: yesterday I was feeling energetic, and I spent about an hour and a half working hard about the house. Today it looks worse than ever. What could be less rewarding than housework? Incidentally a big part of this is the current batch of kittens, who are remarkably slovenly about their toilet habits. I have resorted to locking them up for large periods of time in a small pen to try to train them to use the litterbox. Today, within 45 minutes of being released from their pen, they had FIVE DISGUSTING ACCIDENTS. I have renamed our home "Kitten Hell." Lola says it is "Kitten Heaven" for her, but we all agree that it's not heavenly for me. (The Sober Husband has been quite acerbic on the topic of these kittens lately, but he is at present sojourning in Minneapolis on business). (Incidentally my forearm is not so gargantuan as in this picture; t'is a trick of the laptop camera).

But before we start imagining, as is my wont, how delightful it would be to escape all this for a lovely office, here is a dispatch from a spritely friend who works as a nurse:

Hee hee...this is kinda weird...but there was this woman that used to be the hospital phone operator. She was a HORRIBLE employee. She used to fall asleep during her shift and pull a drawer open to cover the window that would allow people to catch her. While she was sleeping, patients would call the ER's direct line and complain that they couldn't get through on the hospital's main number, so I would run down there and investigate. It got to be that I started bringing the hospital supervisor with me, we would unlock the door quietly and take her picture sleeping (10 or 20 times of proof)...but they could never seem to fire her.

Also, back then, it used to be that when she went on her dinner break for an hour, that she would transfer the phone system up to the Emergency Room where I worked and I would answer the calls for that time (keep in mind that our shift started at 12 am and ended at 8 am). She was supposed to take her break at 4 or 5 in the morning which would not cause me too to have to answer too many calls during that time (because people are sound asleep for the most part), but even then, sometimes it was difficult for me to do it if my ER was really busy. Anyhow...she started taking her dinner break at 6:30 am or 7 am (I guess she'd try to go home early or something)...

Well, thats when people are awake and have come into the ER and are calling like CRAZY.

I told my boss that it was just completely unreasonable for her to do that and she was told to take her break between 4 and 6 am instead. She was very angry at me, so she started switching the phones to me at 7 am anyway, stating that she had to pee, since she hadn't had a break since 5 am. SO, instead of her going to the bathroom that was 10 feet from her office, she HAD to go to the one that is upstairs 2 flights of stairs...Plus sometimes she would be gone for over a half hour.

I complained again and she was told not to do that...she was again very angry with me. SO, she started peeing in the garbage can in the phone operators' room which is about 7'X14' and it would stink up the entire room. When the next operators would come in, they would feel ill from the smell.

Do you know how they got rid of her? They couldn't fire her, but when she applied for a management position at [a large HMO] they gave her a raving letter of recomendation and she actually got the job. ONLY in a Union can you sleep and pee and slack so bad, and still continue to keep your job. Sheesh!

Friday, October 19, 2007

the lamentation of Lola

It's going to be a long, rough winter by our San Francisco standards, with plenty of rain. This morning Lola, a native San Franciscan who is accustomed to nothing more onerous than a bit of fog, felt assailed by the rain. Dramatically she proclaimed, "Why was I born to this???"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

the WSJ has offended me. Oh, my working sisters, resist!

In today's Wall St. Journal, columnist Sue Shellenbarger writes about "family coaches", self-proclaimed experts who teach busy mothers housework and decluttering routines.

Why is this offensive to me? Because Sue Shellenberger, a working mother herself who should certainly know better, portrays this as exclusively the problem of mothers, who need to hire experts and learn how to guilt trip their children. Fathers evidently have no responsibilities in the home.

Shellenberger opens with the heartrending story of Vicki Ryan, whose husband stopped wanting to come home after work because Vicki, an accountant and mother of four, kept such a messy home. So why the hell didn't Derek Ryan start doing some frigging housework himself? Instead, he made his wife feel terrible until she hired a family coach. Now Vicki fines her children for not putting their laundry into baskets, locks up their possessions in "Clutter Jail", and has a "command center" for filing her calendars and bills. There is no mention of any steps taken by Derek to improve the running of the home.

Another mother was taught by her family coach to emotionally manipulate her sons into doing chores by whining about how she hates feeling like their maid. "Since she began making the changes several years ago, her sons have shown more empathy in general." Again, no mention of the husband's role. (I also wonder about these sons, who are perhaps now being programmed to marry whiny, passive-aggressive women).

A third mother, Laura Simon, a full-time worker and mother of four, also turned to a parenting coach in desperation, who talked Ms. Simon into reducing her work schedule to part-time so she could start cooking family dinners. (Shellenbarger seemed rather judgmental of Ms. Simon, noting that family coaches can only help the motivated after astringently observing that Ms. Simon eventually gave up getting up at dawn for an early morning work out, as prescribed by the family couch.)

The only mention of a husband doing anything about the home in Shellenbarger's column is participating in a "7 minute sprint", which is evidently a beloved tool of the family coaches. Mothers set timers for seven minutes, and the entire family must dash about madly picking up toys and clutter. This puts the husband/father on the same level as a toddler, required only to pick up the most egregious clutter briefly.

Why is keeping the home the province of the women, rather than a joint responsibility with their husbands? This is especially annoying given that most of the women used as examples worked full-time when their homes were falling apart.

Indeed, the very phrase "working mother" offends me. Why doesn't anyone talk about "working fathers"?

When two people live together, they should make a mutually suitable agreement about the division of labor. When there are children in the picture, it is much easier all around if one person doesn't go to an office, but that person should not automatically be the woman (I am happy to see stay-at-home fathers increasing). In our case, I'm the parent who is with the children in the days, but it's not because I'm the genetic female. It's because I was so burnt out and over-stressed as a litigator (although being at home with a colicky baby was not exactly peaceful, it was a change of pace). When both people work full-time and there are children, of course it's most likely things will be crazy and stressful (unless the family is able to retain a variety of hired help). But it seems so wrongheaded to make this the woman's responsibility to keep the home lovely.

My own husband does not get off scot-free with the housework, despite the fact that I am not working full-time. And here I'll give you a tip, which has worked very well for us since I invented it, and unlike a "family coach", I won't charge you for it. We often hold an "hour of power" on the weekend, where we set the timer for 1 hour and we both work like demons. There are two virtues to this. First, it avoids the resentment created whenever there is one person doing housework alone, bitter, bitter resentment. Secondly and more practically, it is amazing how much two energetic people can accomplish in one hour.

My sisters, especially the working ones, do not accept the sexist status quo! If your able-bodied husband bitches about the state of the house, arch a sarcastic eyebrow at him over your cocktail and inquire what he intends to do about it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

sociopathic contractor update

I haven't had many run-ins with the sociopathic contractor lately, in large part because some storms have interfered with his construction project. But this morning, he woke me up starting construction at an ungodly early hour. It was 7:22 when I gave up and consulted the clock.

As a veteran insomniac, my sleep is incredibly fragile and precious to me. It's completely unfathomable why this man feels he can run motorized equipment, hammer and saw in a residential neighborhood so early. The Sober Husband went out for a chat with the workers, who say they have the right to start work at 7:00 AM but apologized.

We have no complaints against the actual workers. The husband actually tried to help them the other night when they were locked out of their car and the police came by and questioned them. (It's a pretty white, upscale neighborhood, and someone other than us must have called the police). My problem is with their boss, that pocket-sized sociopath. I smile at the workers when I cross their path as they are moving pylons into the street.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

it's a wonder

Iris loomed over me as I was reading the latest Richard Russo novel, rubbing her surgically gloved hands together (she has many pairs of these disposable gloves, enjoying the squeaking sounds they make when rubbed together). "You make me nervous!" I complained. "I feel like you're going to perform some kind of medical procedure on me."

"Have you ever had a medical procedure?"

"Oh God, yes."

After much questioning, I explained that, on various occasions, I'd had my gallbladder, miscellaneous gallstones, and a growth removed (I forgot to mention the operation I had to remove part of Lola's placenta). Iris was spellbound.

"With so many things removed from you, it's a wonder you can still stand!"

while setting up

The morning before Lola's birthday party, the Sober Husband inquired, "Are you planning to do the litterboxes?"

"What kind of a question is that? I do the litterboxes EVERY DAY. Actually, I was planning to do it as an activity. I'll have the kids fish for turds during the party."

Iris wandered in at this point. "What? What? Fish for what?"

"At Lola's party, I'm going to have the kids clean the litterboxes as an activity. I'll give them the litter scoop, and they can see who fishes out the most!"

"That's gross."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Lola's birthday party, take II

Lola's "Flower Kitten"-themed fifth birthday party was canceled at the last moment due to unscheduled vomiting, and yesterday we tried again. Unfortunately several of the invited guests were unable to attend the rescheduled party, but perhaps it was for the best, as we nearly achieved the Developmentally Correct Birthday Party of one guest for each year. In the event, we had six guests; if the first party had proceeded as planned, there would have been nine or ten guests (I had over-invited on the theory that many children would be busy and unable to attend, so you need some overage, and also due to the fact that Lola made a long list of desired child invitees).

Of course the Sober Husband and I didn't manage to completely prepare for the party. The first guests arrived as the husband was vacuuming and before I'd set up the snacks. Lola herself was dithering about. She has long been obsessed with the idea of a surprise party and has often harangued me about why didn't I make her last party a surprise party. On innumerable occasions she nagged me to be sure to make her guests hide and jump out to "surprise" her. I am dubious that four and five year-olds can be directed to that extent, and besides that, how can it be a surprise if Lola saw me make the cake and hang up the Hello Kitty birthday banner? In the end, I told her she was welcome to hide in her room and come down after some guests had arrived so she could be "surprised", and she planned to do this, but yet she couldn't resist answering the door herself and playing with the very first guests to arrive. I anticipate another solid year of being harangued about why I didn't throw her a surprise party like she requested.

I tried to create a special role for Iris. Last year, Iris was in a foul mood throughout Lola's birthday party and went so far as to create a sign that said, "Stop. Stay Out" which she posted on the door of the master bedroom, wherein she sulked. Of course all Lola's friends were illiterate, I was unobservant, and the only one who paid attention to the sign was the Sober Husband, who ironically was the only person who would have been welcomed by the little sulker.

What I had in mind for Iris this year was Keeper of the Kittens. For the first party date, I arranged for one of Iris's best friends, a delightful girl, to join Iris, and I thought they could keep all the kittens in the master bedroom with toys and supervise Lola's guests in playing with the kittens. On the second party date, Iris's friend was not available, and Iris had no interest in staying with the kittens, who were set free to roam the house. Most of them climbed on top of the guests' mothers and took naps in these exciting new laps. Iris did however accept the last minute post of Face Painter, and she gave nearly every guest a kitten visage. (I had meant to paint my own face to set the tone, but the first guest arrived before I could start on a nose and whiskers. All I had was extravagant eye make-up, which no one remarked upon but which happily startled me every time I passed a mirror).

For the grown-ups, we had fresh homemade salsa and chips, as well as iced tea, beer, and sparkling wine. For the children, we had a fruit punch, hardboiled eggs, bananas, goldfish crackers, and some semi-stale Pirate Puffs. (Here we see a decline in the quality of the Drunken Housewife's birthday parties. For Iris's fifth birthday party, I made a big buffet of homemade snacks, with chickpea dip; handheld Caesar salads; two kinds of punch, including one for which I grated ginger; and many more delights. Probably next year for Lola's birthday, I'll heat up some TV dinners). For all ages, we had artisanal bread, a yuppie cheese, and a homemade chocolate cake. With the cake, Lola had directed that "on the frosting, make a kitten. Make the kitten be about to take a flower in his mouth", but that proved beyond my abilities. I did draw various cat faces and stuck some candy flowers hither and yon on the cake, and Lola accepted this gracefully.

The successes of the party were the latest crop of foster kittens, who were very friendly and tiny (last year's foster kittens hid during Lola's party and were not seen until several hours after the last little guest departed), and the barbaric pinata. The Sober Husband and I hate pinata as we believe they promote pushiness, plus it's so grotesque to see children hitting cute things with sticks. On the other hand, Lola feels strongly that it is not a party without a pinata, so we obtained an adorable Hello Kitty pinata in the Mission. At the store where we found the intellectual property-infringing pinata, there was a plethora of cheap socks and underwear for sale. I briefly fantasized about filling the pinata with sensible socks and underpants, imagining the reaction of the guests, but Lola is not one to be toyed with.

The only problem at the party was one of the mothers, who got solidly drunk. I am not sure how much she drank, but I believe it was on the order of 5-7 or more drinks in a two hour period. I myself had only 1.5 drinks, and no one else had more than one (most parents chose to have a single beer or a glass of iced tea along with the salsa and chips). Everyone else left at the appointed hour, and only the inebriated mother was left. She was upstairs bathing a foster kitten in the sink, and she was too intoxicated to turn the sink off. I felt somewhat responsible, as we were indeed providing drinks, but the Sober Husband did not, as the mother in question had helped herself to several beers plus several glasses of sparkling wine from the refrigerator. We had in actuality not served her a single drink. This left us in a very awkward position, as I did not want her to drive, but she refused our repeated overtures regarding getting her home. (We offered to have the Sober Husband drive her car to her home with her in it, from whence he would make his way home on foot or by taxi). In the end, she left, leaving her daughter behind, whom we ferried home an hour later. The husband and I were still squabbling over how to handle this, in whispers, when we ended up leaving to take the little girl home. We were both relieved to find that the mother in question had gotten home safely. (Readers, how does one most effectively remove a guest's keys? It was more difficult in this situation in that we didn't know the guest well at all. Also, her keys were concealed about her person, not in a purse which could have been confiscated. We tried, but I feel terrible that we did not succeed).

This morning Lola requested that she have a birthday party every day. "I can be five plus every day! We can have cake every day! And guests!"

Sunday, October 14, 2007

close enough

Recently I picked up some new foster kittens. The head of my program wanted to give me a litter of three plus a singleton kitten. She had the paperwork ready for me; it was just a matter of rounding up the correct kittens in her spacious home. After a while, she grew impatient and grabbed the next tabby she saw. "Close enough," she remarked.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

not Shrub, no

"Can you pray to the President?" Lola asked.

She couldn't understand why we --- Anton, Iris, and I --- reacted with horror.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


"Usually dogs are boys, and usually cats are girls," argues Lola. She refuses to accept the reality that most of our current foster kittens are of the male persuasion.

In other news, Lola is concerned that there may be an impending alien invasion. Keep your eyes on the sky!

escape from Child Island, part I

So yes, last Friday the Drunken Housewife shrugged aside her responsibilities and left town. I had initially planned to leave around 7:00, after the husband got home from work, but then I realized, "Why am I being so thoughtful and considerate?" I decided instead to leave right after dropping Lola at pre-k, forcing the husband to leave his beloved job early to pick up the children at their various schools, take Iris to her piano lesson, etc.. I picked up an old acquaintance I hadn't seen in years, and we were off, after cramming my aged Oldsmobile to capacity with our tents, coolers, provisions, etc..

Friday seemed to be a Law Enforcement Extravaganza in Northern California. First, we saw police handcuffing someone in the city for obscure reasons. Later we stopped along the way for a bathroom break and snack, and as we were wolfing down our salads in the car, an officer arrested a man in the parking lot. Then we had to stop again in Cloverdale when my car's coolant light went on. Cloverdale was swarming with police everywhere. The barista at the Starbucks explained that there was a drive to bust people for "making California stops" (my passenger could not understand this, and I explained it meant a rolling stop, rather than a true, respectable stop). My passenger grew nervous at all these police and kept repeating, "I've seen two people put in handcuffs!" I wondered to myself whether it would be safe to try to make up lost time by speeding and decided not to; I was happy with this decision after we passed a speed trap.

The transition between mommy and party-goer was made easier for me because my passenger was a preschool teacher, who enjoyed discussing the developmental appropriateness of various educational approaches. All through Marin, we were mired in stop-and-go traffic, and around Santa Rosa, we were again reduced to a hideous crawl. Santa Rosa is always a bottleneck of all roadtrips, and I've noticed a miasma of depression emanates from 101 there. We were just cheering up from the depression of Santa Rosa and its traffic when we were caught in a torrential rainstorm around Boonville. Of course, we had neither of us packed raingear, relying upon weather reports indicating clear skies, highs in the seventies and lows in the forties. However, we saw the most psychedelic double rainbow I've ever seen outside of Maui. "You could really believe there's gold at the foot of that one," I said.

We got to our destination nearly five hours after setting out, after a final 45 minutes drive on small, mostly unpaved, winding roads off the highway. (The official directions cheerily state that this destination is "2 1/2 hours from the Golden Gate Bridge", but I say, "Ha!"). My passenger and I braced ourselves for our "greeting" as we arrived. (Over the last decade, the phenomenon of "greeters" has arisen at Burning Man and various other camping events. The concept is that a seasoned attendee will answer your questions and direct you to where there is still room for you to set up your camp. The reality is that 99% of the people arriving know what to do and where to go already and just want to get down to it. The further reality is that greeters have developed their own version of the "Security Guard syndrome" and have taken to demanding presents, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, love, and admiration). We had both had a bad experience being greeted on a prior occasion at this same camping party. "Just roll the windows down part-way and don't get out," hissed my normally laid-back passenger. Perhaps because it was getting dark and spitting a few drops of rain, our greeter let us through without argument.

I had a lot of trouble turning my car around on a steep, unpaved, narrow path near my passenger's chosen campsite, but soon I was settled in "Codgerville." (I had asked some old friends to save me a spot in this quiet zone). Later I renamed this spot "Daly City", as people were thinking of Bay Area equivalents for their campsites. ("You're in Fruitvale", one person taunted another. "Try to think of it as Emeryville", I advised the alleged Fruitvale resident).

As it got dark quickly, I threw up my tent in a rather haphazard manner. Another Codgerville resident opined, "That doesn't look right." "I'll fix it in the morning," I said as I flung my Thermarest mattresses and sleeping bag in. I was fretting at being late for my volunteer shift in the communal kitchen and eager to start the party. "As long as I have a little plastic hole to crawl into, I'll be fine."

to be continued (honestly, "to be milked" would be more accurate. I don't get out of the city limits much so must make the most of it when I do)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

learning to spell

As we drove home from pre-k, Lola was angry with me and largely uncommunicative. Finally she perked up and inquired, "How do you spell 'ass'?"

Monday, October 08, 2007

road raging five year-old

The other day Lola, Iris and I got caught up in some very intense rush hour traffic. Lola was seething in the backseat and finally, fed up, demanded, "Can't you even honk this thing?"

I said that I could in theory honk my horn but I didn't feel like it, and Lola, exasperated at dealing with someone of so little acumen, pointed out, "All the other cars are honking!"

Sunday, October 07, 2007

a ballad about a Drunken Housewife

The "Wild Dog of Paradise" ran across this blog and was kind enough to share with me that he has written a song, "Drunken Housewife." He sang it at his wedding, and his bride sang along (a woman with a sense of humor, no doubt). Enjoy!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

the song of the pink and gold Barbie

This morning Lola made up a very long and complicated song, which she sung while waving her new birthday Barbie about. I sneakily slipped into the study and wrote down as many of the lyrics as I could while she sang. Later, I told her, "I loved your song!"


"That song you made up!"


"This morning, when you were singing!"


After several rounds of this, we established that the Barbie made up and performed the song, not Lola. Anyhow, here, for your delectation, are some of the lyrics written by the pink and gold birthday Barbie:

You have to be completely yourself!
Be completely emotion-full!
Be completely ocean-full!
Oh, change the world with love!
Oh, sing along!
You can attract it even if you don't sing along!
But please choose to sing along!
Please make a choice with action!
Please make a choice!
Please let it be my choice!
'Cuz I really need a partner, so please choose my idea.

It started out rather stirring and inspirational (which is when I started secretly writing down the lyrics), but it devolved into rather pathetic begging. Somehow, that seems to suit the core concept of Barbie.

will I escape?

First: the Sober Husband has requested that I inform the readers how he did shopping for Lola (I asked him to run out on her birthday and pick her up a couple of extra gifts). He did very well indeed, bringing home a nightlight and a Barbie sporting a pink and gold gown with some accessories. Lola loves this Barbie and likes to fuss about with her tiny plastic accoutrements.

Poor Lola evidently was too miserable on Sunday to grasp what was going on with her party. It wasn't until Tuesday that she asked me, sadly, why her friends didn't come to her party. "Because I called all their mothers and told them you were throwing up" helped her to shake her belated feelings of rejection. She worried that we'd eaten too much of her birthday cake to have enough for her friends, but again the promise of a new birthday cake cleared up her sorrows.

Until... I remarked at the dinner table, "You do know I'm going out of town this weekend, right?" This was met with sullen acknowledgment from the Sober Husband and outright astonishment and woe by five year-old Lola. "No Mommy World, no Mommy love??!" she said pathetically.

I'm planning to leave Friday to go on an annual camping party held in the Mendocino hills each year by friends. I haven't been to one of these since Lola was a fetus, and somehow it would never have occurred to me that I could brazenly drive off and attend by myself (children are persona non grata, and the Sober Husband doesn't care for this sort of thing much). My friend Abs, a more dynamic sort of mommy than me, proposed that I attend, pointing out that she was leaving her two children with her husband for the weekend. Thinking about it, I couldn't see a valid reason not to go (aside from Lola's hurt feelings). The husband has escaped back to Chicago and other points back East to attend various weddings, poker games, funerals, business trips, etc.. without us from time to time (indeed, he'll be off on a conference later this month), but since I procreated over eight years ago, I've only gone off on my own three times (twice on quick trips to see my best friend from high school, and once to drive seventy-odd rats down to L.A. to go up for adoption).

Currently I'm waiting for a shoe to drop or a child to vomit, causing me to stay home. It feels impossible that I can just drive off. We'll see. We will also see whether I have a good time off on my own. I'm very much looking forward to this, but the sad underlying reality is that I've become very unaccustomed to prolonged conversations not involving children. Can the Drunken Housewife resuscitate a bit of her former personality, one which was allegedly witty and vivacious? Or is she going to be one of those sad, sad lifeless parent-losers who keeps telling pointless anecdotes about how cute her children are? ("And then Iris called her father 'Dorky McDork of the Dorks!', and Lola and I laughed and laughed").

Monday, October 01, 2007

tiny little updates

The sociopathic contractor: I have decided that my parking spot is my Achilles' heel. It is true that I have become irrationally attached to that parking spot (to the point that I cringed when I read an article about a serial killer who had seemed oh so normal ... except for his extreme anger when anyone parked in his chosen parking spot). The Buddha teaches us that our attachments cause us suffering, and that is obviously true in this case. For example, I get upset when anyone stays parked in my spot for days. Also, parking in my spot all the time leaves me vulnerable. Security advisors are always stressing the importance of not having a predictable routine. I am certain Sun Tzu would agree.

So, I must part with my beloved parking space (right in front of my house! So easy to get children and all their things to and fro! Shaded!). Today I parked in front of my neighbor's house across the street. As I did that, the evil contractor, who was on the sidewalk at the time, gave a double take and stared at my car. Advantage: Drunken Housewife. Sun Tzu would be proud.

My cooking blog: Experience the passive-aggressive joys of beets!

Lola's birthday: We will hold her Flower Kitten party in two weeks. In the mean time, Lola and I are not well enough to do much, but not sick enough to take to our beds with any happiness. I felt a bit idiotic today as I had only gotten two presents for Lola (a snowglobe from the Hotel Del Coronado and a stuffed cat which comes with a key to unlock the wonders of the Webkinz website). Yes, those are measly offerings indeed for a fashion goddess turning five, but I figured she was going to get a ton of presents from her friends the day before, as well as presents from her grandparents. So I gave the Sober Husband the mandate today to get a present or two for the Birthday Child. We shall just see what he comes home with.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

crappy (but not too eventful) update

I realized (and I should have realized this a long time ago) that the contractor who was giving me such grief is actually not only the contractor on this project, but the owner as well. I was talking to my next door neighbor, who brought up the subject, and he reminded me that the short, balding pylon-obsessive is indeed the same person who paid nearly one million dollars for this tiny lot with a tiny house on it. (Incidentally my neighbor has also run over a pylon. "He's taking over the street!" complained my sweet-tempered neighbor).

This, to me, makes the contractor's behavior worse. He's not trying to please some fussy homeowner, as dear Mombo suggested (and hello to you, Mombo! I hope you are well!). He's just a rich jerk who came into this very quiet residential nook and doesn't care if he disturbs the residents who were here before him and will be here after him. Everyone's understanding is that he's here to build his mini McMansion and then sell it for a profit. There is some worry that he intends to turn it into more than one unit, which is NOT what the permit was for. I'll just be happy if he does sell it; he's not my idea of a dream neighbor.

I can't fathom the arrogance of someone who thinks they have the right to disturb other people for their own profit without apology. Not every real estate developer is like this. There was a major construction project on the lot directly behind our house, and the owner came to our home in person, carrying a nice bottle of wine and a business card. He nicely apologized for any disruptions and asked us to call him if we had any particular problems. We did indeed call once, when his roofers were dropping stuff into our backyard and we were concerned for our toddler's safety, and we all got along well enough through that major construction project.

I haven't had any more run-ins with the contractor in person. I am not going to take the approach suggested by several readers, who are nicer people than I am, that I kill everyone with kindness and run over with baked goods. I refuse to cook for a wealthy butthole who most likely tried to sabotage my car. IF he were to apologize, then we might see some cookies or muffins in his future... but there are no signs of that. What I'm going to do is to try to disengage to the best of my abilities and just not interact in any way with this little sociopath.

Today I was out in the street by my house, calling up critical suggestions to the Sober Husband on how best to display a festive Hello Kitty "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" banner, when I noticed a very large shard of glass strategically placed by a front tire of my car. It was an unusual piece of glass: unusually thick and unusually sharp. It was clearly not from anything broken in the street, because it was alone. It wasn't from a bottle (which would be the most typical thing for someone to break on a city street); the glass was too thick. If I had not been standing in the street today, I would have driven over the shard in the morning and most likely punctured my tire. I cannot assume this was the contractor again; I am going to keep an open mind. On the other hand, there's no one else I know of who currently has a hate-on for me.

I showed the huge shard to the Sober Husband, who gave me a very weary look in return. He thinks I'm paranoid and doesn't want to hear any more of it.

Just after I went back inside with my shard, poor birthday Lola threw up. Oh my poor darling, it was just a few hours before her guests were expected to arrive for her "Flower Kitten" themed party. The Sober Husband asked me to clean up the vomit, but I declined on the basis that I needed to immediately call all the parents to tell them not to come. Now, at the time we should be welcoming our little guests and having them eat homemade cake, bash our kitten-shaped pinata (how barbaric!), and play with our little herd of foster kittens, we are quietly resting. Poor old Lola, what horrific timing for a stomach virus.