Tuesday, April 29, 2008

an update in our ongoing studies of (a) hypochrondria in the young and (b) rudeness in contractors

On Friday morning, I was relaxing in my bathrobe with five year-old Lucy, when the doorbell rang. It was one of the workmen employed by the contractor building a home nearby, who has locked horns with me on a number of occasions. The worker asked me to please move my car (which was legally parked by my house) because a truck was stuck trying to get through. I told him I'd move it in a few minutes (there was no way I was leaving the house in my bathrobe; I didn't even have underwear on). The worker told me that there was a car stuck behind the truck which wanted to get through. (Funnily enough when one of those trucks trapped me in my car, unable to reach my house and meet our scheduled speech therapist, the contractor told me I had no right to complain as anyone who lives in a city must expect to get stuck behind trucks all the time).

After I got dressed, washed my face, and brushed my teeth, I went down and moved my car. The contractor was in a fury, pacing about in the street, but he didn't speak to me.

Six hours later I was driving the children home when I found a peculiar obstacle. The contractor -- or his minions -- had put five or six orange cones out in front of my house, arranged in a pyramid shape. It was difficult to get past them (this is a very narrow street), and they prevented me from parking in front of my own house (and mind you, there are two houses and an alley between me and his construction site. There was clearly no purpose to be served by the cones other than to annoy me).

I told the Sober Husband about this later, and he clearly didn't want to hear about it. "Why don't you write on your blog about this?"

"That must be a euphemism for 'shut up with your ceaseless yammering'," I said.

Meanwhile in that same day, Iris Uber Alles reported a headache in the evening and some nausea. I believed this, because she was wan, clingy, and wanting to lie down. However, five year-old Lucy would not stand for her big sister getting any extra attention. "I have a headache! And my stomach hurts, too!" she chirped, jumping up and down as she tried to get my attention as I felt Iris's forehead. Lucy then moved in for the kill: "And my tongue hurts!" She always goes one symptom too many, poor Lucy. She's a failure as a hypochondriac.

Monday, April 28, 2008

providing incentives to improve at school

Eight year-old Iris Uber Alles reported to me today that from now on, she doesn't have to write out her spelling words three times each. She only has to copy them out once apiece.

"That's great, honey!" I said. I assumed it was a nod from the teachers in response to Iris's perfect record of spelling. It makes no sense to make a child who already knows how to spell words write them out over and over again.

"They did this for one of the girls before."

"Oh, is she really good at spelling, too?"

Iris clarified: the reason she only has to write her words once apiece is that her handwriting is so dreadful that the teachers don't want to subject themselves to reading so much of it.

"And this is supposed to motivate you to improve your handwriting? Having less homework?" I asked in disbelief. "Maybe you should make up a system of hieroglyphics."

We laughed so hard that the cashier at our cafe raised an eyebrow.

children can't appreciate the glories of Warcraft

After a truly delightful outing to "Bug Day" at a local children's museum (Iris bravely held a giant cockroach; the Sober Husband ate a fried cricket and a fried larva; we learned that the large insects which terrify Iris and Lucy on a regular basis are "crane flies"), the Sober Husband took Lucy off to her soccer game. Eight year-old Iris and I needed something to do, and I proposed we make new, human characters together on "World of Warcraft." Iris, who has long nagged me to try the human side of Warcraft, was excited. Soon our characters were questing and exploring the world.

Iris started getting fidgety. She went outside a few times to check on the cats, while her character was actually in a fight. "I'll come back when she killed him."

Soon Iris got even more restless. "Let's take a Warcraft break, and I don't mean like when you say you're taking a Warcraft break. I mean, let's take a break from Warcraft."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

once I was a micro-celebrity

The other night there was a reception at our school for the parents of the incoming kindergarten class. The Sober Husband and I went to a great deal of logistical trouble to attend (now here's a logic problem much worse than anything I faced on the LSAT: A quasi-important reception both parents should attend begins at School A at 5:00, and no children may attend. At 4:30, Child A's fencing class ends at School A. Coincidentally at 4:30 Child B needs to be picked up from School B, a few miles away. Additionally, the babysitter obtained by the husband of the logician has been told to show up at the children's home at 4:30. Therefore the logician needs to be in three places at 4:30 on the dot. Additionally, the logician and Children A and B live halfway across San Francisco from Schools A and B, and traffic is slow and ornery after 4:30, meaning that it will take 30 minutes to travel between the schools and the home one way. I spent an entire cranky, cranky day solving this little puzzle).

As the reception was winding down, I was explaining to the Head of Lower School why I was informing them, after they're been so careful to use "Lola", that in fact my child is now named "Lucy." This explanation was quite embarrassing to me as a parent as it involved various epiphanies had by my child while vegetating before the worst sorts of children's pop culture, "Barney" and that wretched film, "Shark Tales." (Irritatingly enough "Lucy" is practically the "Jennifer" of her kindergarten class. There will be three Lucys and three Olivias, no Lolas. I hear one Lucy goes exclusively by "Goose", though).

While we were having that conversation, a parent charged up with a big head of steam and a huge grin. I assumed he wanted an audience with the Head of Lower School, so I angled my body at an inviting and modest angle, so he'd get the message that I wasn't hogging the Head and he could join our conversation. Instead, he blurted out loudly, "YOU'RE FAMOUS! YOU FOUNDED BURNING MAN!" to me. The Head, who knows me as an eccentric stay-at-home mom, gave me a double take and faded away. I said modestly, "Oh, no, I wasn't the founder. I was the lawyer. I came along later. I just put the LLC in 'Burning Man, LLC.'"

It's been a long time since this has happened. I used to be extensively involved in Burning Man and its organization, and people who attend that event tend to live their lives around it. Accordingly many have a hero worship for any of the top organizers, and as San Francisco is the epicenter for Burning Man, it used to be that I was accosted quite frequently by admirers, who often called me "The Lawyer." As I'd be walking, people would shout out, "Carole! Carole!" from cars, really wanting to get my attention for a second. If I were downtown, I'd overhear someone pointing me out: "That's her; she's THE LAWYER" in tones of awe. At parties, there'd be a little circle of sycophants. It's a shame my children will never experience When Mommy Was Cool, but then again, they wouldn't like it. They strongly prefer the spotlight to be directed unwaveringly at them.

After this reception, we drove downtown to a nightclub, where the Sober Husband's employer, Doggyo, was holding an event. The husband had a wristband to get him in, some drinks tickets (only good for beer and wine; the shame, Doggyo, the shame. Do not cheap out on the drinks!), and an official Doggyo name tag. I looked around upon entering. Everyone was filling out nametags, putting on their web or media affiliation. "Do you want one?" asked the Sober Husband, probably imagining that I'd write "Doggyo Spouse." "Oh, yes," I said, and I wrote "Carole www.drunkenhousewife.com" on mine. The husband laughed. (Later in the evening, someone asked me seriously, "Is Drunkenhousewife.com hiring?")

And here's how the coin has flipped: back in the day when the Sober Husband and I were dating, he came along as my arm candy to a variety of Burning Man events, where I was a Big Important Drunk. Nowadays I tag along with the husband, and my once massive ego has a hard time with my nonentity status. I've noticed in particular that my husband's female coworkers have exactly zero interest in getting to know me, which I assume is because they know I'm a stay-at-home mother, which means I'm some sort of braindead throwback to the fifties, something to be shuddered at and avoided lest, like a zombie, I devour their feminist brains. If a male colleague actually gets into a conversation with me, he'll usually enjoy talking to me, but a female coworker won't go there.

At this second event, the crowd of Web 2.0 enthusiasts was salivating when the youthful founder and the youthful CEO took the stage. These are pin-up boys for Silicon Valley: multi-millionaires before they turned thirty, with messy hair and untucked pinstriped shirts over their jeans. It was just like the hipsters used to react when we Burning Man board members spoke. At least I'd had the tiny thrill of a little hero worship from a stranger earlier in the day, a tiny residue from the Time When the Drunken Housewife Was A Cool Demi-celebrity.

Monday, April 21, 2008

there is no chocolate milk in hell

My old friend Elliott came by yesterday afternoon and was soon acquainted with our household theology, that five year-old Lucy is a god and sends people to hell, where they won't have any friends. Elliott opined that he himself would be going to hell, but he expected an icy cold martini to be waiting for him there.

Eight year-old Iris had never contemplated what one would drink in hell. We asked the God Lucy if Iris could have chocolate milk in hell.

"No! Plain WATER!"

Remembering the old saying, 'in hell they want ice water...", I suggested to Iris that indeed ice water is the very best possible drink to have in that fiery afterlife. Lucy interrupted: "HOT WATER! IRIS JUST GETS HOT WATER!" Elliott, not having incurred the Great God Lucy's wrath, has not had his martini forbidden, but the anger of the Great God Lucy is vast indeed against poor Iris Uber Alles.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

breakfast with the god

This morning resident five year-old and self-proclaimed god, Lucy, had cinnamon toast (she has become inordinately fond of Cinnabon brand bread and its trademarked "cinnamon bursts") while I looked at the paper.

Musing to herself, Lucy said thoughtfully, "Mommy goes to heaven. IRIS GOES TO HELL! I go to heaven."

"Where does Daddy go?"

"With me."

He'll be happy to hear that his prior fate of being sent to hell where he would have no friends has been rescinded.

a proud husband

I was having a cup of coffee with my friend Joyce the other morning, and my husband wandered in and interrupted us.

"Did Carole tell you she reached level 70 on World of Warcraft?"

Joyce rolled her eyes and said, voice dripping with sarcasm, "You must be so proud."

The Sober Husband answered quite seriously, "It gives me something to brag about around the office."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Patrick Buchanan is an idiot

Failed ex-presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan is using San Francisco as a symbol of how Barack Obama is out-of-touch with mainstream America. Never mind that Obama has never lived here; he was here when he made his controversial remarks about bitter workers clinging to guns and religion for consolation. Buchanan won't let you forget that it was "behind closed doors to the Chablis-and-brie set of San Francisco, in response to a question as to why he was not doing better in that benighted and barbarous land they call Pennsylvania."

The people of San Francisco are not unacquainted with hardship. Indeed, within recent memory pretty much everyone has gone through hardship. Remember the dot com bubble? If we are to imagine it as a burst gum bubble, we'd see the very most gum over the faces of everyone in San Francisco and its surroundings. Nearly 20% of the population left. Landlords slashed their rental rates. Developers were devastated. Homeless shelters were overwhelmed. I could go on and on.

But never mind that: Oh, my poor idiotic Patrick, Chablis and Brie are FRENCH products. Here in San Francisco we take great pride in our local products. We are the Zinfandel and Cow Girl Creamery set, precious, and don't you forget it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

last call for contest entries in the Annual Readers' Photo Contest

You, my darlings, have this weekend to take a photo, which in some way contains the words "Drunken Housewife" or the URL "www.drunkenhousewife.com", and email it to me at drunkenhousewife@gmail.com (or to send me a compelling enough plea to get the deadline extended). Celebrity Guest Judge Hughman and I stand at the ready to issue our rulings next week.

Mind you, the picture need not contain your visage or be flattering to the Drunken Housewife. We're looking for wit and dash, my duckies, or photographic talent. Insulting images are as likely to win as charming ones.

the accusation and the tragedy and the short memories

THE ACCUSATION: This morning I ordered the children to get dressed if they wished to be conveyed to the Daly City Playhouse, an establishment comprised largely of a three story climbing structure shaped like a castle, abutted by a number of couches upon which a Drunken Housewife may recline. Their preparations were interrupted by conflict.

"MOM!! LUCY SAYS I HAVE A GOOGOL CLOTHES!!" shouted a livid eight year-old Iris.

"Well, you do have a lot of clothes. Maybe not a googol but that's not an insult."

"YES, IT IS!!"

I threatened cancelling our expedition if they didn't stop their squabbling, but I regretted that rash utterance once it had crossed my lips. If I didn't take them to the Playhouse, I'd be stuck with the fighting siblings all morning at home. Thankfully they did not realize the hollowness of my threat and instead toed the line, more or less.


After the children had spent a delirious hour cavorting and giggling ecstatically in the Playhouse, I herded them out to the car. The sun shone into Lucy's eyes, and she said bitterly, "I'm having a TERRIBLE MORNING!"

"What! I just drove you guys here and paid for you to play, and that's a 'TERRIBLE MORNING?"


This evening, after a beautiful and full day, the Sober Husband asked Iris Uber Alles how her last day of spring break went.


"WHAT!" I interjected. "I took you to the Playhouse, and I took you out to lunch, and I bought you a comic book and a magazine, and I took you to the beach, and then I took you out to the Beach Chalet!! And I listened to your yammering! How can you say that was terrible??"

Iris hemmed and hawed.

"Look at your shirt!" (said shirt was bespeckled with sauce from the grilled asparagus and catsup from the garlic fries consumed sloppily by the child at the Beach Chalet). "It's evidence of spoilage! I have spoiled you!"

THE TRAGEDY: At home this evening, the children munched some goldfish crackers while watching a Simpsons episode. (Iris Uber Alles was horrified recently to learn that the Simpsons have been banned in Venezuela. "We must NEVER, NEVER go there!!!"). In doing so, they made a hellish mess of cracker crumbs upon the floor, which they were bade to sweep up. In tidying their mess, Iris put some crackers which were on a little table back into the bag of crackers. Five year-old Lucy burst into tears.


We consoled her, explaining that the crackers were fine and could still be eaten. She could still take some crackers from the bag if she wanted more.

'BUT I WON'T KNOW WHICH ONES WERE MINE!!" she sobbed. Oh, the humanity.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

creepy contractor update

Over the past few months, I've had virtually no interactions with the sociopathic little contractor building a luxury house close to mine. There has been plenty of construction noise and dust, of course (I hear a loud, annoying drill as I type this).

For some time I had been looking forward to the expiration of the contractor's construction zone permit. He has two large signs warning "NO PARKING/VIOLATORS WILL BE TOWED" on posts embedded in concrete, which he deployed where he wished, moving them about. Indeed he moved one by my friend Joyce's car after she'd parked one day and then called DPT to have her ticketed, but she had the ticket overturned after pointing out that he'd moved the sign after she parked. Anyhow, his paid permit to deploy these signs expired last month, and for some time he didn't put them out. But then this last week he started setting the expired signs out again.

I found this maddening. Normally parking is easy on this block, but on street cleaning days, it can be quite stressful to find a spot. By putting his signs out, he's unlawfully preventing people from using several spaces.

While that was just irritating, another occurrence was unsettling. I stopped by my house briefly with Iris Uber Alles in tow the other day, and when we left, I heard one of the workers call, "SHE'S GOING OUT NOW." I looked around. Iris and I were the only "shes" in sight. Were they monitoring my movements?

I reported this to the Sober Husband, who was dismissive as usual. He even defended the little sociopath's use of his expired signs. "Think of it this way: the sign is just a way of saying 'Please don't park here.'"

"It's not saying 'please!' He's not the type to say please. It's saying "I will tow you!'"

"But you know he can't tow you. It's just stopping people who are too lazy to read it."

I seethed. How dare he side with a balding sociopath against his allegedly beloved wife!

Quickly switching into condescension mode, the husband pulled me close and hugged me. Speaking in the same tone of voice he uses to reassure toddlers, he murmured, "How dare he put those signs out! And watching when you come and go! How terrible!"

Dismissive husbands aside, the idea that the contractor has his workers monitor my comings and goings is profoundly unnerving.

Monday, April 07, 2008

spare the children! oh, spare them!

Eight and a half year-old Iris Uber Alles is on spring break this week, and I am in the mood to take in a matinee with her. Currently the only G rated film playing, "Horton Hears A Who", is one I can't contemplate attending (I do love Dr. Seuss, but in book form, please). There are two movies I dearly wish to see, "Juno" (yes, I'm virtually the last adult woman in North American who hasn't already seen it) and "The Band's Visit" (an obscure Egyptian film about a marching band stranded in a small Israeli town). However, they are both rated PG-13. Should I take Iris?

I decided to try out some of the special reviews for parents, which elaborate upon questionable and age-inappropriate material, to help me make my decision. First up, kids-in-mind.com.

Soon I reached my conclusion: the Kids-in-mind.com people are clearly idiots.

Under "Violence/Gore", they write, among other things, "We see a fetus on a sonogram screen and a teenage girl makes a remark about the size of the baby's head." Oooh, how gory! How utterly violent! Those black and white sonogram blobs are just so scary. They also list as Violence/Gore "a teenage girl talks about ripping off all her clothes and jumping into a shopping mall fountain." How is that gory? Are they imagining she'd slip and skin her knee?

The Kids-in-mind reviewer was also up in arms over a scene where a pregnant person vomits. The violence! Oh, the violence! My own children have not only seen me vomit (my still remembered salmonella bout provided many, many opportunities to see this), but they have also vomited themselves. I hope they aren't unduly traumatized by that "Violence/Gore."

These people are not only unclear upon what gore and violence are, they're a bit fuzzy on profanity. Under Profanity, they include "name-calling (jock, jerk, stupid, nerds, squares, stink eye)." I hear worse than those epithets every time I do a workday at Lucy's pre-k (not to mention that five year-old Lucy utters more profane insults than those, what with her proclivity, in her self-proclaimed role as "the God Lucy", of threatening her father with eternal hellfire and damnation).

Next, I turned to parentpreviews.com. Interestingly enough the Parent Previews people were able to sum up the questionable content of "Juno" in three sentences, while the Kids-in-mind idiots went on for pages. With their admirable succinctness, the Parent Previews folks said: "A teen pregnancy results from a one-night stand (depicted with near nudity) between Juno and Paulie. The ongoing crass and casual discussion of male body parts and sexual activity are included along with repeated profanities and strong sexual expletives. A brief comment on the abuse of prescription drugs and a bloody impaling scene from a horror movie are also contained in the film."

I still can't decide whether to take Iris or not, but I'm more fascinated by how the Kids-in-mind morons missed that "bloody impaling scene from a horror movie." I guess they were so stunned by the sonogram image that their scarred retinas were unable to register anything else for a while.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

shopping list

Our shopping lists are a joint effort, particularly since Lucy became literate. I ran across an old one in my handbag I felt like sharing:

Bread (written in the Sober Husband's handwriting and then heavily marked out)
kitty litter (written in my own slapdash hand)

The next two items were in Iris Uber Alles's handwriting:

Whale milk (presumably she meant "whole milk")
MARSHMELLOW PASTE!!! (this was written in very large and dark handwriting; recently Iris has taken up a serious Fluffernutter habit and evidently she was really jonesing)

Then the list reverted back to the Sober Husband's writing, who was presumably planning a cocktail surprise for his very own Drunken Housewife:

Cheese sticks

Finally five year-old Lucy makes an appearance, with a carefully scrawled

And there you have it: cheese items, Fluffernutter supplies, liquor and kitty litter. What else does one need?

a vengeful god

The resident five year-old has had an eventful week, changing her name from Lola back to Lucy and declaring herself to be a god.

Last night the God Lucy was feeling inadequately served. Her tired and cranky father refused to get up and make her a cup of chocolate milk, and Lucy's divine and vengeful temper resonated throughout the land. "I'LL DESTROY YOU!! I'LL KILL YOU AND YOU'LL GO TO HELL!! AND THEN YOU WON'T HAVE ANY FRIENDS!!"

In disbelief, the Sober Husband queried her. "You're going to send me to hell?"


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Photo contest!

There's another week to enter the Second Readers' Photo Contest. The entries are trickling in, with one photo taking the lead, but it's not sewn up yet. Get your entry in or ask for an extension! Celebrity Guest Judge Hughman is fairly lively, but I'm lazy and could push the deadline back if asked nicely enough.

Prizes! Bragging rights! The joys of victory! All can be yours, just for submitting an entertaining photo with the words "www.drunkenhousewife.com" or "Drunken Housewife" in it somewhere.

Coming soon: the exciting "Name Hokgardner's Baby" Contest! I'll post some guidelines on that soon, but in the meantime, while you're taking photos, you can mull some good names over in your fevered little brains.

reaching out and receiving support

It was a bad week here. Towards the end of it, I confided in my dear friend Joyce.

"I kind of hate talking about this, because I know it puts you in a bad position. Like, 'do I call 911 or not?' I was feeling suicidal again this week."

Joyce murmured some supportive things.

"But you know what kept me from doing anything? My tattoos. I can't stand the thought of them dying with me."

"Dude, that is so weird." Pause. "You have got to put that on your blog."