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.