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.