Saturday, March 31, 2007

last few days of the First, Possibly Annual, Reader Photo Contest

Two more days left! Email a photo to, one which may capture some of the esprit du drunken housewife corps.

the lost weekend

Last weekend, I was crossing through the kitchen in my underwear, en route to work out on my rowing machine (for the first time this year, sigh), when I paused to watch the Sober Husband fire up a game on his laptop. "What is that?" I asked. "Pirate Poppers", he said. "Want to try it?"

I shot through the first several levels quickly, then went upstairs and worked out. After my workout, I walked downstairs to shower, but decided to cool off with another level of "Pirate Poppers" first, then make dinner. I was interrupted by a fussy husband and children.

"It's their bedtime, and you're still playing that game!"

"No way!"

"You've been playing for OVER FOUR HOURS!"

It was like a science fiction movie. It felt like only fifteen minutes had passed. "You were in a fugue state," noted the husband.

I didn't eat that night. I didn't check my email. I just played "Pirate Poppers."

The next day, I played more. The husband got extremely irritable. "I feel like I don't have a wife," he said. Now, he went through some dark days of the soul earlier in our marriage, when he became obsessed with "Barrack", a game involving little balls bouncing about. So one would think that he would relate, but no. He's been quite judgmental over the whole thing. One would think I'd been smoking crack by the way he takes on.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

a correspondence for the ages

Remember how George Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Terry wrote each other daily, an addictive exchange of intellect and passions?

I now introduce to you the correspondence between the Drunken Housewife and seven year-old Iris Uber Alles:

Hi MOM bye MOM, I hope you DON'T like the message MOM.

a new symptom emerges: ongoing study of hypochondria in a four year-old

Lola is crying in the kitchen. I go in and ask what is happening, and she won't tell me. Her father explains: "Sometimes Lola is running, and she stops running. It's not because she's tired. Her legs just stop running. It's bothering her."

Ever ready to go on stage, Lola bends one leg repeatedly and then holds still to demonstrate how her legs just stop.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

who's zooming who?

Lola decided to train Iris Uber Alles's pet rats last night. "Not Curly* is so dumb!" she shouted. "He is so stupid! He ate a whole box of treats without learning to do anything!"

I felt "Not Curly" had demonstrated his superior intellect by scamming a whole box of yogurt drops without doing any work, but Lola insisted he is "so dumb!"

* Lola calls the rats "Curly" and "Not Curly." Iris calls them "Cutebone" and "Goosebye."

Monday, March 26, 2007

the joys of family

This story comes from a friend of mine:

My dad's first cousin - one of seventeen - died last week. I didn't know her. She had MS for years and developed sclerodoma in the lungs. She was 57 with a husband and two grown kids. My parents generation was very sad, and they and my grandmother traveled to Denver over the weekend for the funeral.

"How was it?" I asked my mom this morning.

"Your grandmother was soooo inappropriate! She wore a black velour warm up suit with rhinestones on it!"

Ah, family.

listen up

So, as the more observant reader may have noted, we have a contest going on: the First, Possibly Annual, Reader Photo Contest. The entries are trickling in very, very slowly (we note that Silliyak has made good use of Photoshop in preparing an apt entry, and we also note that Jack's Raging Mommy is a hotty. The Drunken Housewife had already committed to getting drunk and making out with Jack's Raging Mommy should they ever be in the same metropolitan area BEFORE seeing the pictures, and now she's seen the pictures, she's... well... we'll just move on to the next topic).

How to enter: email a picture to Pictures need not show your face, for those who are in the closet for some reason or another. They should capture you in a Drunken Housewife moment (now, this can be very easy. Find a cat or an alcoholic beverage as a prop, and there you are! It can be more ambitious, of course).

Why enter: to win fabulous prizes and celebrate one year of the Drunken Housewife! But more than that, it's a boring, sober, cold old world out there, and we have to huddle together to create some fun. You've been amusing yourself at the expense of my worn out old synapses and tired typing fingers (did you even notice when I wrote under the influence? Although most posts are caffeine-fueled, there were a few tipsy ones). Now it's time to go to to a tiny little bit of effort for our April 3d anniversary party. I'm looking forward to some more fun pictures. For example, our commentator Tammy/vtprettypictures is (and I say this in the nicest possible way, as a compliment) a drunken housewife with a digital camera, and so what excuse would there be for her not entering our fabulous contest? None, I say, none.

love, your old Drunken Housewife (and celebrity guest judge Hughman)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

hypochondria in a four year-old: the ongoing case study

Lola has been complaining "I sleep with my eyes open" for sometime now. One might think that is an enviable trait, one perhaps favored by evolution as it could fool predators, but no. "I have to blink too much all day because I sleep with my eyes open."

Along with the excessive blinking there is a sense of isolation: "I am the only person in the world who sleeps with eyes open", mournfully notes Lola.

Tonight the Sober Husband videotaped her sleeping in an attempt to prove to her that she sleeps with her eyes shut. We'll see if she accepts the evidence.

UPDATE: This morning, after watching the filmic evidence, Lola was unmoved. "Usually I sleep with my eyes open."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

the commentators do the work for me

Some recent comments were so good, they must be brought up to the front of the stage, where the footlights may shine upon their coruscating wit for those readers who may not religiously check the comments:

Hughman said, "wtf is 'night-weaning' anyway? it sounds like a description of a conservative elmer fudd."

Silliyak responded, "H, Is there any doubt that Elmer was a conservative Republican? Don't you imagine that Karl Rove watched those cartoons and thought to himself, 'OOOO that wascally wabbit! I'D Get him!', and that is what Iraq is REALLY all about, a pudgy bald inner child trying to wreak his revenge on godless heathens who seem like they might be happy?"

Friday, March 23, 2007

when you are not here

"Iris, when you are not here, I play with your toys!" said Lola triumphantly.

"No. That's not true. You can't."

"When you are at school, you can't see me!"

Poor Iris Uber Alles is going to have nightmares now, I'm sure.

our celebrity guest judge weighs in!

Following the earlier announcement of the First, Possibly Annual, Reader Photo Contest, our celebrity guest judge, Hughman, has taken a moment to share his thoughts:

Gentle Readers -

As an honored Celebrity Judge for this Drunken Housewife contest, I want to assure you that I don't take my responsibility lightly. I promise to uphold the integrity and, you know, other stuff for this hallowed occasion. Here are my qualifications :

1. I look great in black. (Slimming! Hello!)

2. I have a big gavel. Make of this what you will.

3. While I have, in the past, been a judge for modeling competitions (really!) I perceive this to be more a contest in the spirit of the DH, not a beauty pageant. Beauty is , as we know, in the eye of the beholder. I'll be looking for "joi de vie"! and "espirit de things"! Therefore, if you aren't - for example - a hunky male who sends in a shirtless picture of yourself sweating shamelessly over building orphanages for wayward children, you will not be discounted.

4. Props always help. Especially props which refer to our own DH and her eccentric household. Examples include cats, glasses of wine, pirouetting "fashion girls" and dour confused partners.

As Our Lady of The Photo, Tyra Banks, would say - "SHOW SOME BEDONKA-DONK"!

Finally, we know who you consistent commenters are. We have your e-mail addresses, your blog site names and, quite possibly, your political opinions. We'd hate to see you shamed on the Internets as a wall flower in this expression of community. The question is - "what do YOU bring to the party?


Kiss kiss -

Your Honorable Guest Judge Hughman

it's about time for another reader contest

We haven't held a reader contest here at the Drunken Housewife in a long time, AND the timing seems auspicious: we're coming up on this blog's first birthday! So here, without further ado, I present to you the First, Possibly Annual, Readers' Photo Contest.

This was inspired by a visit to the famous Joe My God blog, where Joe has a gallery of his readers' submitted photos (and two of his readers have found love, or at least consummated lust, which began through ogling each other's pictures). But don't worry, I'm not doing this to get my readers hit on (unless, of course, they want to be hit on, in which case we'll subtly highlight their availability and fabulosity in our witty captions). Also, I was looking for something to commemorate the year of blogging.

The Contest
: submit a photo of yourself, dear reader. It's as simple as that.

Of course, the shyest ones need not show their dear faces (yet what are you ashamed of? It's not as if you're going public as a reader of "Bestiality Unbound Blog" or "Fungal Infection Fetishists" or "Confessions of the Pathetic and Lifeless" (oh, wait, maybe that last one does apply, sigh, but only to me). You could obscure your face with a laptop computer, book, Halloween mask, pitcher of beer, &tc...

The best pictures will be in the spirit of the blog. For example, you could submit a picture of yourself chopping down a magnolia tree (email me if you'd like some assistance setting up that photo shoot! I have a location!) or enjoying a cocktail or shampooing a cat suffering from ringworm or suffering at a Little League game. One of the judges will be awarding bonus points for tasteful or, dare we say, gratuitous, nudity.

How To Enter: email a digital photo to Easy as pie.

The Judges: Our dear and indefatigable commenter Hughman will be joining the Drunken Housewife as a celebrity guest judge. In the event of a tie vote (or if we just feel like it), Iris Uber Alles will be invoked as Judge Uber Alles.

Readers who do not regularly comment are invited to break the ice and join in, and we are hoping to see the regulars weigh in. Our last competition yielded some fabulous entries; this one will take a smidgen more effort, but y'all are surely up to the challenge.

The Prizes: There will be a variety of prizes, such as a blog entry on the topic of your choice (you command, I write according to your whim, answering any questions you may have OR you guest write on the topic of your choice!), a copy of the CNN headline news item featuring the Drunken Housewife leading a chained slave (not the Sober Husband) on a leash, a volume from the Drunken Housewife's own collection, original artwork by Iris Uber Alles and Lola... The prizes will depend upon whether the winner wishes to divulge a mailing address and also just how fabulous the photos were (if the pictures are incredible, the prizes will be, too).

Deadline: submit your pictures as soon as possible, but before April 2, 2007. April 3 is the one year anniversary of this blog, and we'll announce some winners then.

we're not boring!

Sometime ago my friend Joyce, currently a stay-at-home mommy as well, and I were reeling over an accusation from an acquaintance that mommies are boring.

"We're not boring!" I said, trying to convince us both. "We can talk about lots of things!"

"Like what?"

"Night-weaning! Yeah, we're good on that."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

a foray into live blogging: Hassenpfeffer and I watch "Survivor"

8:04 "Hass [sidenote: "Hassenpfeffer" and "Hass": nicknames for Iris Uber Alles], can you turn it down during the commercials?"
"TURN IT DOWN! Get the remote."
"Okay, but if I'm getting a remote, it's the big one!"
8:05 The Sober Husband enters the room to mute the booming commercial.
8:06 PM Hass turns back up the volume because the J.C. Penneys ad is "so cool!"
8:06:30 Hass accidentally turns off the TV.
8:07 Husband and child complain during Downy commercial that their beds aren't "as fresh as that" and "maybe we should buy that." Do your own damn laundry, fools!

Jeff Probst proclaims a merge betw. tribes. Husband interrupts this dramatic moment to say, "You know in two years we're going to have to buy an adapter for this TV?" He is summarily silenced.

It's a schoolyard pick, with the muscular guys going first. I'm glad my beloved Yau Man (from Borneo! where I once visited and wish I could live!) doesn't go last.

Husband interrupts me: "Is this clean laundry?" Why are they all so obsessed with laundry here today? He dumps out the laundry on the bed.

Lisi acts like an idiot, babbling at being sent to Exile Island, irritating everyone and highlighting her lack of wit.

There's no emotion shown in the room as former underdogs Yau Man and Michele and Andre get to move to the rich tribe's camp. Iris and I just aren't that into this season.

8:13 commercial time. "Mute please! Mute mute!" yips the husband in a humorous voice. "Yeeeeeew, it's McDonald's! Ewwwww!" shouts vegetarian Iris Uber Alles.

I inform them: "I'm live blogging this."

"You're WHAT?"

"Live blogging."

"On what?" Ummm, my blog.

8:15 "What is a boyfriend trouser?" asks Iris during a Gap ad. "Pants," says her father, sorting laundry.

"Pants for your butt!" says Iris, sticking her own butt out.

Lola can be heard in the distance, singing to herself in the bathtub.

"I can't scratch myself, and it's caused by your evilness, Anton" says Iris ominously. (He clipped her fingernails).

"Can you shrak me?" asks Iris. ["Shrak" means "scratch my back" in childspeak].

"No, I'm blogging." She reads over my shoulder and gasps. "You're SO RUDE!"

8:16 back to Survivor. Lisi is whining on Exile Island that she didn't get sent out of the game.

8:17 former have-nots are visiting new beach. "Life is better than ridiculous, it's ridonkulous," says Andre. I'm unimpressed by his neologism.

"Shrack, please," demands Iris.

8:18 Some nameless Survivor is a killjoy. Cassandra opens the champagne and says, "We're having mimosas!" and he says in a nagging voice, "Don't you dare have a hangover!" in a voice which reminds me of my mother's.

8:19 the all male, powerhouse tribe is on the poverty-stricken beach, and they're glad they have no women. "You don't need no stupid girl stories," says Rocky.

Iris demands a snack.

8:20 Lola demands attention. "Daddy!" Crying heard from other room, of mysterious cause. Anton goes to investigate.

Someone on Survivor rants about the Count of Monte Cristo.

Anthony is having a bad flashback to high school locker room shower experiences. "I'm a geek, I'm a nerd" he says, and he's afraid to take his shirt off.

8:22 "Aww, look at the cute bats!" says Iris at a wildlife close-up.

Boo is a construction worker. What kind of construction worker calls himself "Boo?" That annoys me.

Andre has delusions of grandeur. "Everything is going to go through me," he says. "keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." I've never believed in that: keep your enemies close, and you're stuck with annoying people getting on your nerves; keep 'em far away and you can forget they exist. When my first mother-in-law lived in Australia, I was happy; when she moved back to the U.S., my marriage's health took a nosedive. Case closed.

Cassandra brings Andre and Yao Man coffee and tries to flirt. She is not good at flirting.

Andre has more delusions of grandeur: "Who has all the power? That would be me."

8:25 back to commercials. I get up for a glass of wine, asking Hass not to steal my seat.

8:27 I return, to find Iris eating oreos and leering at the computer ominously.

8:27:30 Iris says, "DUH! Say that I said that on your blog! DUUUUUUUUUH!!!"

8:28 back to "Survivor." Anthony has no one to trust and is supposed to be watching the fire. He feels lonely.

The manly men go off and smash at crabs with sticks and step on them.

8:30 Iris brandishes an Oreo at the screen, which crumbles. She must be admonished to pick up her dropped cookie.

8:31 a clean Lola enters, wrapped in a towel.

The men of the new all-man tribe catch several large fish. So why did the group living there before never manage to catch a fish???

"Right now, on paper we're a super-powah. Super-powah!" says Rocky the Boston bartender.

8:33 the new tribes go to the first challenge. Whoever loses will be stuck with the horrible Lisi!!!!

The contestants will be chained to a weird pole harness and must navigate a crooked course. Like so many Survivor challenges, it looks like it could be kinky but is falling short of that and is merely boring looking. Honestly, this is the dullest looking challenge I can recall. The camera shows a lot of people standing around by poles looking sweaty yet unappealing. No good dialogue.

The tribes start squabbling as they both try to maneuver through the same poles.

8:36 I honestly don't care who wins. This is the most boring season of "Survivor" ever, quite possibly. Why am I watching? Last season was so wonderful, such great television, with strong characters we cared about. I like Yau Man on TV, and I have the feeling I'd enjoy hanging out with Anthony in real life. The rest, feh.

8:37 the contestants are groaning, growling, and otherwise emoting.

8:39 the co-ed team wins immunity, and the all-man "super-powah!" loses. That is one good thing I like to show Iris which so often happens on "Survivor": womn outmuscle men.

Yau Man is thrilled to get to carry the immunity flag.

"I'll see you at tribal!" says Anton, mimicking Jeff Probst.
Iris calls him a dork. "only dorks say that, except Jeff Probst. Dork a loo. I'll just call you Dorky Dork McDork of the Dorks! Where's Dorky Dork McDork of the Dorks?" and so on.

"Iris, it's your bedtime. Carole, is the show over? Iris, you should get a broom and clean this up," retaliates "Dorky Dork McDork of the Dorks" without humor.

Anton begins to lose his temper and turns off the television and sends Iris out of the room to put on pajamas.

8:42 I take a slug of wine.

"Amazing Race" commercial reminds us of what quality television looks like.

8:43 Anthony calls himself "a black male Cinderella." I do like him. I'm probably getting attached just as he's about to be replaced with the loathsome Lisi.

Lola says "that place looks beautiful! Let's pretend tomorrow we'll play Survivor! On Survivor you only need panties!" (referring to the bikinis the women wear).

8:46 One Survivor observes that "Anthony is Rocky's little bitch."

Another bat close-up! Iris gets excited.

The husband's demeanor is crumbling. He's ready for bed, but the children are not flagging.

8:48 It's tribal council FINALLY.

8:49 I love wine. This wine has a picture of a chicken on the label.

Rocky is babbling incoherently about using words "ten minutes in the future or sometime in life." Jeff tells Anthony to "own his space." Rocky says "you can't back down from nobody at no point in your life." That is a really dumb philosophy, obviously from a non-parent. We parents know the wisdom of "choose your battles."

Rocky attacks Anthony: "You're effeminate, you're like a little girl! Put the skirt off!" Edgardo says, "I think that could hurt Anthony's feelings."

Iris leaves the room to get ready to bed. Jeff reads the votes. Anthony is voted out. We now have only Yau Man left worth watching.

Why?? Why??? Why??? Why have we wasted an hour of our time watching this lame shadow of the glorious past???

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

shame, oh shame

Today, I have to feel a little ashamed: with all the horribleness in the world (wars, famines, global warming) I'm whining about having to shlep a child to softball. I should be glad I'm not shlepping someone to chemo.

Also, I have a lot of sewing projects I'm not finishing. I keep imagining more stuff I want to make, but yet I'm not getting the work done. I have some art project ideas, too, and those are firmly relegated to Someday In The Future, which probably won't come before the day I slip on a slimy magnolia petal and break my neck. (Please remember: my dying wish will be for someone to chop that fucker down. Avenge my death!) One of my art project ideas is somewhat pornographic (don't ask, I'm not going to describe it because it really is a good idea and if someone else does it first, then I'll never do it, and I'm selfish and would rather have my idea die with me at the hands/petals of that damn tree). That raises the issue of whether it is appropriate for me to do an art project which is not to be shown to the children. Life was easier when Iris Uber Alles was preliterate.

right on schedule, the day we were hoping to avoid rolled in

[If you, Dear Reader, have not yet read the prior post, "so, the day has come", you may wish to read it before reading this. Or not, as you wish. We're fairly lax around here at Drunken Housewife Industries. We just hum, "Oh yeah, oh yeah, rock on" as we go about our lazy way].

So, best intentions notwithstanding, I snapped at Softball Event #5 in 8 days, day #4 in a four day string of Softball Every Day Goddammit. The background is that it was very cold out, a windy, foggy day, and Lola was tired and hungry. The Little League practices are held in a corner of Golden Gate Park which is not convenient to anything. There is supposed to be a large playground nearby, but that has been closed for construction for over a year and does not appear to be ready to open anytime soon. As Lola observed yesterday, "There is nobody working on it", although it was a weekday during regular working hours. [I nearly got into a fight with another mother recently who insisted "That playground is opening in spring 2007." I said firmly, "I was there yesterday, and it's nowhere near ready to open! There's nothing done!" She repeated steelily, "It's opening in spring 2007." Taking it up a notch, I said with a bit of a bite, "It's already March, 2007, and it's not done." One, or possibly both of us, really should get a job].

Lola was constantly whining, "I'm hungry! I want to go to a restaurant!" and I snapped and said, "We have to take Iris to her fucking softball practice!" (I apologized to Iris soon after for this). I also vented my anger by calling the Official Softball Parent, the man whose idea this all was, and bitching at him about how he'd taken Iris's mitt out of my trunk so we had no mitt and what a pain it was and how it was all his idea (he was safely ensconced in a snuggly, warm, sheltered-from-the-wind tech start-up in sunny Palo Alto).

So there we have it: just slightly over one week into the Little League season, and I've already lost my temper and sworn. Softball is idiotic in San Francisco. We don't have lovely spring or summer weather, unlike other locales (our lovely warm time of the year is fall). This practice location is also idiotic when you consider that so many parents need to haul another child along, and there's no playground or other amenities nearby. And of course, I'm the biggest idiot of all, with my snobby tastes and short temper. The other softball mothers on hand were, practically to a woman, beaming with joy and happiness at the prospect of standing around in the fog for an hour to watch their progeny take forever and a day to hit a ball. Maybe I should root through their purses to see what they're on.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

so, the day has come

So, the day has come that Iris Uber Alles has left the cozy, familiar environs of her mother's funky taste (imagine a shabby, leopard-print upholstered conversation pit littered with novels, old travel guides, snoozing cats, martini glasses with lipstick prints and sippy cups with dregs of chocolate milk. That's what Iris's babyhood and toddlerhood with me felt like) to enter mainstream America. She has joined the Little League after learning of its existence at school.

I was not in favor of this, but I wasn't actively opposed, either. My own aesthetic taste didn't seem like a good enough reason to squash Iris's wish. My laziness did, though, and I told the Sober Husband that if he wanted to be the Softball Parent, he could sign Iris up for the Little League. (Of course, who has to pick her up at practice every week, hauling poor Lola behind? Hint: it's not the official Softball Parent).

Personally, I hate baseball and its spawn, softball. Growing up, whenever I visited my grandparents in the summer, endless Red Sox games were droning on in the background. All I learned from this was that watching baseball on T.V. was extremely boring and that although the Red Sox normally lose, everyone still watches. In high school, I found playing softball in gym classes boring, so much waiting around. In college, a friend took me to what should have been an exciting and scintillating event: a Red Sox game at Fenway, where we had skybox seats and Roger Clemens was pitching. I don't remember who the Sox played; I only remember that it went on and on and on, and it was so frigging cold up there in the skybox, and somehow, oddly enough, we didn't have any alcohol to drink. I had to be polite and feign enjoyment as indeed this should have been a treat for any normal person, but it was oh so wasted on me. (Now basketball, that is another story. I once saw the Celtics play at the Boston Garden back in the Larry Bird glory days, and that was a joy. And soccer, there's a fun sport to play AND watch).

In my first post-college job, working at an NPR affiliate, the dreaded softball/baseball demon raised its ugly head again. Some kind of asinine league of workplace softball teams was formed (why couldn't it have been a bowling team? Then we could have had cool shirts and nachos!), and the news director commanded me to join it. I refused (as I said to my ex, "Part of not being in high school is that no one can make me play softball"), but the nagging went on. I did drop by one game in progress for a while (I was with work friends who insisted on stopping by), which was a negative experience (the hated news director made a weird and offensive sexual remark about the woman up at bat, which strengthened my resolve never to pick up a bat or glove again).

Thankfully both my husbands were never baseball fans. My ex's best friend for a long time was obsessed with baseball and constantly yammering about the ideal of a perfect game (which I gather is one where nothing happens) and how baseball is the Platonic ideal of a sport and the ex used to humor him and join in those conversations, but that's as far as it went. Sitting through a boring conversation takes up less time than sitting through a baseball game.

But now Iris has joined the Little League, and we're being forced roughly into the baseball culture. THERE ARE FIVE FREAKING SOFTBALL EVENTS SCHEDULED FOR THIS LAST WEEK: INCLUDING FOUR DAYS IN A ROW!!! Four days in a row! FOUR DAYS IN A ROW! Have we joined the Little League Army???

On Monday, there was practice (which ran late!!! with poor Lola whining and pulling at my hand begging to go home). On Friday, there was a party to decorate a float, and allegedly there was to be pizza and cookies (I do not know what occurred at this event, as neither Anton nor Iris Uber Alles was forthcoming, but I heard a variety of remarks on the theme that Iris didn't get a cookie, Iris didn't get pizza, the cookies got put away...). On Saturday almost all the day was taken up with the opening ceremonies for Little League of San Francisco, with a parade, speeches, barbecue, etc... Iris Uber Alles got her baseball visor autographed by Mayor Newsom, and unlike her Newsom-bashing mother, has declared Gavin to be "cool!" and ignored her mother's cohort who inquired, "How much product was he wearing in his hair?" (The mayor is famed for his overly-oiled pompadour as much as for his girlfriend/wife problems). Today we had the first game, and then tomorrow it's back to practice. Will it never end???

I missed the opening day ceremonies, as I was escorting Lola to a little acquaintance's fourth birthday celebration (and oh how the little celebrant's two gay fathers slaved over this party). Anton reported being cold and hearing very dull speeches. I intended to skip today's game, as I was feeling under the weather AND the weather was horrendous, but that would have been too selfish and lazy. It turns out that at the field where our games will occur, there is a lot of dirt... dirt which doesn't innocently lie there, but dirt which is constantly being blown into the eyes of the proud parents and grandparents by the cruel winds. I've gone through years of little kid soccer games without ever being so physically miserable as I was today, in the cold with the dirt constantly hitting me in the face. Inquisitive, undersupervised dogs kept sticking their snouts up through the slats of the tiny bleachers and poking and licking at me (only I seemed to attract this attention, which was not entirely unwelcome as it provided a diversion. The attraction must have been the eau de cat clinging to my hooded sweatshirt, which I believe Al napped on yesterday). Similarly a coach's little girl was pretending to be a dog and kept licking Anton.

Anyhow, Iris Uber Alles is enjoying herself, and I'm having to attempt to hold my tongue. I've long believed that parents should not censor and proscribe a young child's taste but should humor the child without slamming something the child loves. I find it so painful when parents are ridiculing children's culture in front of the children, especially since the children are usually left tongue-tied. I hate Barney as much as the next person, but it's horrible to see the face of a Barney-loving child as his parents bash the wretched purple saccharine of it all. I've done fairly well at this over the years, with one exception: Iris, just turned five then, had purchased, with her own allowance money, a Bratz book about a beauty sleepover, which she implored her father to read to her. Hearing her father intone, in his deep bass voice, "That's a kicking make-over!" caused me to go into hysterics, and sadly Iris never asked us to read the book to her again. She loved it, and I ruined it for her with my (accidental, uncontrollable) laughter.

So yes, I am trying to rise to the occasion. I fully realize that it is I who is out of step with mainstream culture, where most people love softball, baseball, and all the associated rituals and products. It would be easier to be graceful about it all if there weren't events occurring four days in a row (excuse me, Little League, I do have a life to conduct which is not exclusively softball themed) and if it weren't for the dirt flying into my face. Why couldn't Iris take up sumo wrestling? Now there's a sport I can't get enough of watching.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

just call me Peggy Hill

Lola said expressively today at her gymnastics class, "Mommy, your feet are AS BIG AS A COFFEEMAKER!!!"

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

my favorite thing someone has said about this blog lately

On a messageboard I'd never heard of before, in response to someone posting a link to this blog came this nonplussed reaction: "is it irony that there's pics of cats all over that website, and stories about cats?"

a threat

Seven year-old Iris Uber Alles says threateningly to her little sister and me, "At some point you are going to get tired, and at that point, I am going to crawl through your brain!"

Monday, March 12, 2007

I can only imagine what a monster this child will be, given the parents

This educational story comes to us from the Naples News, via the Insane Waiter:

"A former Naples city councilman was sentenced today to undergo a psychological examination and take anger management classes after pleading no contest to spitting on two women at a restaurant in December.

Gary Galleberg pleaded to the misdemeanor charge of battery this afternoon before Collier County Judge Mike Carr. Galleberg, a former Naples vice mayor, also must fulfill 50 hours of community service, pay a $500 fine and serve six months of probation. . . .

Several affidavits . . . say a table of eight women were . . . dining outside Blu Sushi, when Galleberg’s daughter [aged four, who was dining inside the restaurant with her parents] banged on the restaurant window for at least 10 minutes. A woman at the table, Rebecca King, 27, gestured for the girl to stop, then motioned to Kristen Galleberg, who didn’t understand. So King went inside and asked Galleberg to stop her daughter and she apologized for the behavior.

“A little while later, I was startled when I heard very loud banging on the window,” King’s affidavit says. “I turned around to see the woman banging on the window as hard as she could. She sat back down and gave a coy little wave. We ignored it and went back to talking. After a few minutes, I was again startled to hear banging on the window,” her affidavit says. “This time it was the husband banging as hard as he could.”

They asked management to have [the Galleberg family] leave, but were told they were regulars and it was the holiday season. About 45 minutes later, they said, the Gallebergs were leaving, when Galleberg's wife insulted King and Galleberg cleared his throat loudly and spit on them and their food.
Galleberg, a former corporate lawyer from New York, is now a private investor and serves on the board of directors of WashingtonFirst Bank in Washington, D.C. He served on Naples City Council from 2000 to 2004, when he ran for mayor."

and so the insanity continues

Hours after Iris Uber Alles has gone to first grade, Lola says in a whiny voice, "Iris has a thinner neck than me! My neck is as thick as this!" (indicating base of neck).

Me, bemused: "Is that a bad thing?"

Lola: "Yes!" (lapses into incoherent whining over relative neck size).

Sunday, March 11, 2007

dark, gripping books which have darkly gripped me of late

I've read a few outstanding novels lately which are well worth your seeking out.

First, "Sharp Objects" by Gillian Flynn. Stephen King said it was the most gripping dysfunctional family saga he'd read in thirty years, and I'm not about to disagree with him. I loved the unusual, very real heroine: a rejected child grown up who wrestles with the urge to cut herself and the need to win her icy mother's love... and in the background, there's a potential serial killer lurking about.

Next, "Falling" by Christopher Pike, which I devoured over the last day. I had never heard of C. Pike before, but it is now one of my major life goals to seek out and gorge upon his entire oeuvre. This is such an intelligent thriller, so rich with clever details and inspired plotting (one subplot could have been stretched out into a whole series if it had fallen into the hands of a James Patterson, but Pike's mind is so well-furnished he has no need to milk a conceit).

"Falling" begins with perhaps a not-entirely-original concept, but it takes off into unexpected territory:
The first sensation Matt Connor felt when he awoke that morning of all mornings was pain. For a long time he had come out of unconsciousness to a feeling of loss in his chest, and he had come to accept it as inevitable. It was ironic that the pain was quickly followed by a wave of love. Thoughts of her smile and hair caught forever in a yellow ray of sunshine. He still loved Amy Techer, always would, and he hated her more than words could say.

That morning was special because it was the start of the day Matt planned to fake his death and disappear from the face of the earth. A bold plan, and he was not by nature a bold man. yet Amy had changed him into something he was not.

Has anyone had Christopher Pike's baby? His genes (unlike most people's) truly should be carried on. (If he's gay, I'm sure we could find some worthy lesbians to co-parent).

And, speaking of authors I devote myself to seeking out, I also romped through "Slayground" by Richard Stark (a.k.a. Donald Westlake). I so love Stark's noir antihero, Parker, and "Slayground" may just be my favorite Parker yet. Parker, a brutish thug, is trapped in a shoddy, closed-for-the-season amusement park after an armored car robbery goes awry. Why was this story never filmed? (The first Parker novel was made into the movie "Point Blank", with the perfect casting of Lee Marvin as Parker). It's crying for a film adaptation, screaming for it. God, I love Parker.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

industry & the evils of magnolia trees

Our house had sunk into a rare level of utter crappiness, with toys strewn everywhere, filthy floors, and hideous clutter. The husband had thoughtfully built a "tent" in the living room from dining chairs and blankets, which added to the air of clutter and resulted in the children hitting and pinching each other nonstop inside it, screaming out for me to punish their enemy sibling, which I steadfastly refused to do on the grounds that I had not seen the alleged misconduct.

The horribleness of the house was oppressing my spirits, and last night I reached a height of crankiness around 10 p.m. I had previously tried to get the children to bed at their regular bedtimes (they are usually allowed to stay up late on non-school nights) under the guise that today, Saturday, was "a special school day." It turns out that even a four year-old can see through that and insist upon her weekend rights. I did insist they pick up their multiple pairs of shoes and socks strewn about the living room, as well as a cushion from the couch which they preferred to tread upon with their feet, filthy from the floors. So why didn't I get up off my butt and clean the house myself? Because I was drained from working at Lola's preschool, where I led the children in a special cooking project. There is nothing like baking with a crowd of unruly four year-olds to suck up every last bit of energy available.

Today we cleaned the house and the back deck. The Sober Husband was all for doing it ourselves without involving the children on the basis that making them do housework would involve more work on our part than we would extort from the children. I felt strongly that they needed to be a part of the commmunal effort, although when I went to fetch them, they insisted they needed to watch "Hannah Montana" first. "It's about a rockstar," Lola said to me condescendingly, as though if only I could understand that, I would grasp why it came before housework. The husband snapped off the television at that.

Lola quite industriously raked up magnolia petals off the back deck, but Iris moaned and whined and dragged about with a stormy expression, continually crying about having to clean up messes she hadn't made. I pointed out that Lola hadn't made the magnolia mess, but Iris refused to take the point. For the record, the magnolia tree is one of the greatest evils afflicting me. Everyone thinks the tree is so beautiful with its pink and white extravagant flowers, but it's the most horrible fucking plant known to mankind. All spring it constantly litters the deck with slimy, slippery petals (when I am old, one day I will fall on one of those magnolia flowers and break a hip or neck. I will probably die of starvation out on the back deck, killed by that fucking tree). All summer, it drops its loathsome seed pods, which are large and heavy enough to cause discomfort when they rain upon your head. All winter, it sheds nonstop leaves. There is not a day that horrible tree does not create work. Even now, only a few hours after the deck was painstakingly raked, it is littered with hundreds of slippery petals. I am dying to chop that fucker down, but the children attach a swing to it at times and Iris climbs in it, and we sometimes put our parrot in it to climb about, and it would be a lot of work to get rid of it. (Also, if I were law-abiding, I would have to file a notice with the city, as local law prohibits anyone from felling a tree without giving the public a chance to intervene).

So by one o'clock in the afternoon, we'd cleaned the house and deck (although it already needs raking again, hatehatehate that tree), I'd made brunch (poppyseed pancakes and warm maple syrup), and the husband and I had had sex. After all that industry, the rest of the day feels like an anticlimax. What else is there to do?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

commandments to compare and contrast

Seven year-old Iris Uber Alles had a carefully folded up piece of paper she was guarding from our view, but after she'd gone to bed, the Sober Husband found and unfolded it, to find:

The five comandments of Iris

2. scrawl around in the nit* if somebody sees you say whats happening dude?
3. Do what you want when you want where you want.
4. Listen to the next comandment.

* I'm assuming "nit" is "night", and I think it means to sneak out late at night, as in the oeuvre of Daniel Pinkwater depicting the late-night exploits of those high school freshmen of valor, the Snark-out Boys.

These commandments have little in common with the classic Judeo-Christian decalogue:

The Ten Commandments

Exodus 20:
2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
13 Thou shalt not kill.
14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15 Thou shalt not steal.
16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

I seemed to remember Anton Lavey's satanic rules as being somewhat akin to Iris's commandments, but that memory was false:

The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth

1. Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked.
2. Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them.
3. When in another’s lair, show him respect or else do not go there.
4. If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy.
5. Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal.
6. Do not take that which does not belong to you unless it is a burden to the other person and he cries out to be relieved.
7. Acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to obtain your desires. If you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all you have obtained.
8. Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself.
9. Do not harm little children.
10. Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food.
11. When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.

The Satanic Statements were much preachier than I remembered. I can see, however, rule number four, "If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy", appealing greatly to Iris and Lola.

And here are my favorites, the Buddhist Precepts (I am setting forth only the precepts prescribed for Buddhists who are not monastic and who have families; there are over two hundred more precepts for Theravada monks!):

The Five Buddhist Precepts

I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from ...

1. ...harming living beings.
2. ...taking things not freely given.
3. ...sexual misconduct.
4. ...false speech.
5. ...intoxicating drinks and drugs causing heedlessness.

Although I love those, I must say I do a good job with only four of them. That's a better track record than I have with the Five Commandments of Iris, though. I really would not rank myself as "cool ultra cool", I don't "scrawl around at nit", and I don't think the words "What's happening dude?" have ever crossed my lips. I do better with the Buddhist Precepts, especially since I occasionally take a cleanse and abstain from alcohol, giving me (temporarily, alas) a time of near-complete compliance.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

just call me Jennifer Aniston

I just had another run-in with my ex, and it's always so painful... at least for me. All my bitterness (what, I wasn't good enough for him? I gave him so many years! I gave him the world on a plate!) welled up, as always.

It's so painful to be dumped, to be left for someone better. I'm the Jennifer Aniston of this love triangle, and like poor Jen reminded by the tabloids and glossies of her usurper, I'm reminded by everyone in the neighborhood of my successor.

You see, it started fairly innocuously. He just stayed out a lot, and then he started staying out all night. When he came home, he acted like nothing was wrong, but a woman can tell when the object of her affections has fallen for someone else.

It just went downhill from there. Bob started spending whole weekends away, returning home late Monday morning as though nothing had happened. "What's the matter, boy, your new love gone to work?" I'd say bitterly. Mondays through Fridays, he was around a lot with me and the children, but on the weekends, he was with his new significant other.

After I hadn't seen him for days, I worried that something had happened to Bob, and I went to see a neighbor, a friend of Bob's.

"Have you seen Bob?" I asked. "He's missing!"

"But he was sitting on the sidewalk in front of your house just this morning," said the neighbor. The children and I went home, bemused. We were glad to know he was okay, but why was he avoiding us?

A week later, we were driving home from Iris's preschool, and I saw Bob lounging in the sun on the sidewalk. I pulled the car over recklessly, leaped out, grabbed him, and crammed him into the car. "Bob! Bob!" the children cried ecstatically. Bob looked pissed off. When we got home, I had to shove him into the house. I closed off the catdoor and called my husband: "We found Bob!" Bob refused to sit on his favorite pieces of furniture or interact with us; he just walked about, lashing his tail. The moment our vigilance lapsed, he was gone.

At this point, I decided to face reality and get another cat. After all, I'd obtained Bob easily enough at the pound a few years before (the ingrate, he'd been at the pound for over three months before I adopted him. No one else wanted a middle-aged, obese tabby with an oddly undersized head and weirdly scarred ears with chunks missing). After a few weeks of browsing the local shelters, we ended up adopting a petite black cat via Craigslist, whom Iris named Rachel.

Somehow Bob sensed the arrival of Rachel. "You didn't manage your break-up very well," observed Anton critically. It was clearly one of those bad boyfriend scenarios, where the other person doesn't want you until he sees with his own eyes that somone else finds you desirable. Bob moved back in, intent upon driving Rachel out of the house.

So then we had two cats, two cats who hated each other. I was glad Bob was back, but I knew he still had another significant other somewhere nearby, and I was determined to find out who the other party in this love triangle was. I was pretty sure what street my competition lived on, but I didn't know which building.

Eventually the other party had the nerve to approach me, when I was out on a walk with my toddlers and our errant Bob. John, a pleasant enough older gay man on the other side of our block, accosted us and said, "Is that your cat? He spends a lot of time here at my house. I haven't seen him lately; I miss him." "So THAT'S my competition," I thought. Bob, who was at that point in time given to taking walks with me, went home with me as though nothing had happened. I cracked open a can of tuna (in my insecurity, I had taken to upping the food ante. "You do realize this is pathetic, don't you?" remarked one friend critically as I served endless amounts of tuna. It's a wonder the cat didn't succumb to mercury poisoning).

I took to calling John as "the cat-stalker", especially after he asked me, "Do you have another cat, a little black one?" referring to Rachel. "Get your own damn cats," I muttered to myself (I didn't want to start a neighborhood war, so I didn't say this to John in person). I complained to everyone who would listen that John was trying to take my cat away from me "and why doesn't he just go down to the pound and get his own cat? It's not as if there is a shortage."

To this day, I have to wonder about what treats John had to offer. I was churning out the tuna, but was he serving caviar laced with heroin? Once again, Bob started spending more and more time away... until really he wasn't my cat any more. At some point, John bought him a new collar, but tactfully wrote my phone number on it. At some even later point, John got Bob yet another collar (Bob is prone to losing collars) and wrote his own phone number on it.

Every once in a blue moon, Bob stops by. Once when I was downstairs in the middle of the night, losing my battle with insomnia, I ran into Bob, who looked guilty and left quickly. It wasn't much different than the occasions when I run into the raccoon who comes into our house at night to eat leftover cat food.

Just the other day, a neighbor asked me, "Do you still have that cat, Bob?" I had to admit I hadn't seen him, and the neighbor said, knowingly, "Ah, he's at John's." So tactless! John, the victor in this love triangle, isn't above gloating, either. One day we ran into him and he offered to let us in so we could visit Bob. "He's just sleeping on my bed," said John, practically rubbing his hands together with glee. "He's spending a lot of time at home lately."

The ingratitude is amazing. Aside from rescuing him from the pound (and Bob was remarkably affectionate for the first several months, until his memory of the pound faded), I also paid a fortune in vet's bills for him. Given to fighting, Bob met his match in a cat with a similar history: an overweight black cat, also adopted from the pound, named "Fatty Tuna." Bob and Fatty Tuna were unable to reach an accord or establish a pecking order, and the result was multiple injuries and the occasional, expensive abscess. I made it my life's goal to find Fatty Tuna's owner and sort it out, and in the Great Cat Treaty of 2001, it was decided that Bob would spend the mornings outside and Fatty Tuna would rule the afternoons. (Later Fatty Tuna's building was sold and his evicted owners took Fatty into exile in Oakland, leaving Bob to rule our block in unquestioned majesty). On another occasion, I bailed Bob out of trouble when he bit a neighbor. The neighbor's husband sounded extremely litigious, demanding a record of Bob's vaccinations and saying things such as, "So you don't know where he was before you adopted him and you can't say what he was exposed to?" in the tone of one who intended to file complaints with all relevant authorities. I ran out and purchased a huge and expensive arrangement of flowers, which was delivered promptly with a note picturing a large tabby almost identical to Bob, begging the woman's forgiveness. The flowers did their work, and ever after that, the bitten woman faithfully sent Bob the cat a Christmas card.

After all that shared history, I felt resentful over being dumped.... more resentful than over anything my ex-husband ever did to me in our divorce. My oldest daughter too, has been traumatized. She's forever insecure that our pets will leave us, and I'm a little nervous about the effect this will have on her future romantic relationships.

Since Bob left, we have acquired Al, a dimwitted orange cat who is, according to three vets, allergic to his own teeth, and Frowsty, an extraordinarily fluffy and charismatic animal, as well as Rachel, a small, black cat with the drama and dignity of a true diva. Bob still stops by once in a while, treating the new cats with disdain. Pathetically enough, not long ago I broke open a can of tuna for him and called the girls down to see him. Today, though, I just ignored him and he ignored me, as he walked through the back door to see what food was readily available. "Fucker," I thought. "You're just here to use me for the tuna."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

insomnia and insane people

I have had a lifelong battle with insomnia, and lately it's kicking my voluptuous rump. (I haven't been blogging lately because I'm so sleep-deprived I can hardly type, and I haven't enough neurons firing to be entertaining). The husband's long-held theory is that my drinking causes my insomnia, which I contend is nonsense (and indeed, this latest bout with insomnia started during week four of my month of not drinking). There's nothing like being up most of the night, engaged in a power struggle with my cats (who are of the opinion that if I'm awake in the middle of the night, then it obviously must be their breakfast-time, and just because a cat has a breakfast at three a.m. does not mean said cat does not feel morally entitled to breakfast again at seven a.m.) and then having a full day of tending to high-energy, high-maintenance children. Yesterday was the worst: I had to ask the Sober Husband to drive Lola to preschool, because I just wasn't cognitively able to drive a car safely. A pot of coffee and a Red Bull later, I was able to pick up the children and bring them home.

Despite only getting about four and a half hours of sleep (and that is a generous estimate), I managed to get Lola to her little kid gymnastics class on time this week, but I made the mistake of having a conversation with the irritating gymnastics mother. I was in a good mood because the Irritating Mother arrived late and in a rage because it took her twenty minutes to find a parking spot. She seethed, "I'm going to change times! It's just unreasonable to try to park now!" She seems to feel that gymnastics classes should not be taught at inconvenient parking times and said that the class dismissals should be staggered to allow easier parking. We pointed out that there is a commercial parking lot very close by, but the Irritating Mother refuses to pay for parking, despite her bragged-of $300,000 annual income.

The Irritating Mother was on somewhat of a tear, wanting to vent about a friend of hers whom she is about to cut off. It turns out that the Irritating Mother keeps a spreadsheet of playdates, and this other friend owes her twenty-four hours of hosting playdates.

Evidently the Irritating Mother formed the conclusion that I am hurting for money, and this set her off as there is nothing more offensive to her than poor people. She fixed me with an unblinking, crazy-eyed stare to rant pointedly about people who park in the commercial lot but who sponge off people like her by applying for financial aid for their child's gymnastics class. (I pay the full tuition for the classes; I pay for parking; I do not complain about either, as both are well worth it). Then she crossed the line and said something unforgivable: "Your daughter is going to have problems when she's older because she is the poor girl at a rich kids' school", referring to the fact that seven year-old Iris Uber Alles attends a private girls' school.

I was astounded. "I... AM.. NOT... POOR" was my kneejerk reaction, said in a steely voice. In retrospect, I should not have said that, as though there were something shameful about being poor. If I were poor, I would still want my child to attend her excellent school, and I would be proud of procuring the finest education for my child.

The true offensiveness was her assumption and proclamation that I have made a terrible parenting decision which is going to fuck up my daughter. My husband and I worked uncommonly hard to find the right school for Iris Uber Alles, and we are very happy indeed with her school. Iris genuinely wants to go to school every day, where she excels academically and socially.

But beyond that, why this woman would decide I was traumatically poor is mystifying. I was dressed very casually, in baggy camouflage pants and a black t-shirt, but then again, after class I was going to work a shift at Lola's parent-coop preschool. I was dressed for playing in the mud and painting. I don't myself jump to conclusions about people's bank accounts based on their wardrobes; there are many extremely rich people shambling about in shabby jeans and plenty penniless people enjoying their Louis Vuitton bags and Chanel sunglasses.

With so little sleep, it was just all too much for my frayed nerves. I was in a sleep-deprived rage for a couple of hours. Thankfully I did perk up later, drinking a magnificent sparkling wine made from chardonnay grapes and cooking farfalle with fresh chives and fried shallots. Oh, yes, we poor people manage to eat and drink well at times, which must serve as some consolation for our terrible decision making dooming our children to a life of neurosis.