Wednesday, July 30, 2008

he needs to relax

"Relax, you bony little man!" said my Aunt Sher to the Sober Husband.

say your prayers

Lucy was trying to get her big sister to say something, and in as threatening a tone as an angelic five year-old could muster, she said, "Say it, OR SAY YOUR PRAYERS!"

the unthinkable tourist attractions of Boston

Five year-old Lucy was exposed to some advertisement for the New England Aquarium and became convinced that "there is a wading pool for little kids full of sharks in Boston." "Don't take me there," she asked. Evidently these are "killer sharks" at that. I tried to talk her out of this misconception with no luck.

During one of our long drives, I thought Lucy had nodded off, so I told the Sober Husband, "Lucy thinks there's a shark pool for wading in."

"There IS," Lucy said acerbically from the backseat.

Monday, July 28, 2008

back in the car

Everyone is still asleep but me. When they wake up, we're going to pack up, get our massive luggage to the ferry, wait for a ferry, take a 45 minute bus ride to our car in a parking lot, drive off the Cape, head up north out of Massachusetts, and drive all the way up towards Canada, to remote Northern Maine.

This "vacation" is involving spending a lot of time driving up and down the length of Maine (which, for those of you who haven't been there, is a Very Large State). Lucy alternates between being hot and commanding the air conditioning be turned way up with suddenly freaking out and becoming coldcoldcold. Iris hogs the communal armrest and the iPod and cries when we make her give Lucy a turn with those amenities. Anton fusses with his iPhone while driving until I confiscate it on safety grounds. (And what do I do which is annoying? I require more bathroom stops than anyone else, but other than that, I'm just damn delightful).

Saturday, July 26, 2008

vacation under protest

Today I woke up depressed, tearful, and angry. The Sober Husband had gotten up early and gone off to see his family. I sent Iris out of our room to fetch some coffee and allowed the children to watch cable tv cartoons.

Eventually the Sober Husband trailed back in, and got us all to walk over to his mother's rented house. Later I had an emotional talk with him, the children dispatched to rocking chairs on the hotel's veranda. I told him that he is just working through my love for him and that he's running low. Forcing this trip down my throat (and now this financial blow) on top of his neglectful behavior over the past year is exhausting the store of love I had for him. I also finally confronted him with something I'd held my tongue about, an arguably emotionally inappropriate relationship with the wife of his dying friend (which added hugely to my stress when the Sober Husband went to the extra memorial service in Chicago against my wishes. When I couldn't reach him by celphone and he was out of touch with me, I was convinced he had hooked up with her. In the end, after the Sober Husband didn't go further than his emotional entanglement with her, the new widow ended up moving another one of that circle of friends in with her... the very same alcoholic friend we let crash with us for months on condition he go to AA meetings, until he relapsed and nearly burnt our house down. I felt that this was the proof that her questionable behavior towards the Sober Husband had been playing for keeps; it seems her survival strategy for being widowed at age 40 was to start up again with one of her husband's close friends). I'd been playing that one cool, trying to be a sweet and loving spouse to win that one, which was easier because I didn't see them together. When I saw my husband hanging all over that other woman up at Camp Mather I exploded. The two things happening close in time together (after a long time, perhaps a decade, of me not noticing any inappropriate behavior with other women) is pretty lethal on top of his neglect towards me over the past year.

So what did I do to cheer myself up? I took Iris to the beach, and we swam. Then we went to Sharky's Cantina, and I got trashed off two drinks since I hadn't eaten all day. Under the influence, I dropped by a boutique and spent $600 on clothes for Iris and me. Then I went back to the hotel, took a nap, and then took Iris back to the beach around 7:00, and we swam more. I told the Sober Husband that it was insane of me to drop so much money when we are so fucked financially, but I was mad and felt also that I should spend while I could (if we separate or break up, I'll be on a severe budget). He's appalled to hear me talk that way, but I'm feeling so bitter and angry.

We later trailed over the to mother-in-law's rented house and hung out, but then I took the girls back to the wretched hotel, leaving the husband behind to chat with his extended family longer.

Friday, July 25, 2008

idiots on parade, err, vacation

We left Ogunquit at 10 AM and didn't arrive at our hotel in Martha's Vineyard until 8 PM. Granted, we stopped in Portsmouth, New Hampshire to show the children Strawberry Banke, which I remembered from my own childhood as a marvelous wonderland of crabby people dressed in authentic colonial costumes demonstrating the colonial way of life in some old buildings, but which turned out to be lots of restored and semi-restored buildings with bored teenagers in maroon t-shirts acting as hosts. The children were nowhere near as enchanted as I had been at their age. Afterward we got some lunch and resumed our driving. (The entire theme of this vacation is Long Drives In Hot Rental Car With Feuding Children, with a subtheme of Idiotic Decisions Made By Morons -- and mind you, I included myself as one of the Morons).

While we were driving, we received some very bad financial news by celphone, which caused the Sober Husband to sigh repeatedly at odd intervals and to drive me further into a quiet doom.

The ferry to Martha's Vineyard required parking a 45 minute drive away by shuttle bus and then a payment of $46. Having just received a harsh financial blow, this $46 charge drove me to rage. "Your mother is so selfish! So selfish!" I hissed.

We got off the ferry and were met by the Sober Husband's mother. It took a solid hour to negotiate the packed-solid Martha's Vineyard traffic to deliver us to our hellhole of a hotel. Our room, which costs $265 per night, is a small, ugly room with low ceilings directly off the communal breakfast area. From 8:00 AM to 10:30 AM, all hell will be breaking loose right behind our thin wall. During other times, we can attempt to amuse ourselves by listening to the hideous noise and dripping of the small window air conditioner, gazing at the view of a nearby parking lot through the one small window, or trying to watch the minuscule television set.

In this poky little hellhole, the reality of the bad news sunk in on me in a bad, bad wave. This was the first time in 5 years I'd left the state of California, and we were going into debt to stay in this ugly little room in a place I never wanted to visit, and we weren't going to be able to afford to go anywhere I wanted to go. I sank down on one of the beds and burst into tears. "I can't even go anywhere good! This is all I get!" I cried for a short while, during which everyone avoided looking at me and felt bad.

The Sober Husband promised that we'd go on a real vacation, somewhere exotic, somewhere I want to go, but I couldn't believe it. He was angry at me one whole weekend for buying Lucy a $17 Spongebob DVD; we are going into debt to pay for this stupid expedition; there's no way there is a proper vacation occurring anytime.

I swallowed two Lorazepam given to me by my understanding physician to ease over the difficulties of spending time with the inlaws and rocked back in forth in a chair, staring blankly into space. It's unfair to the children when their mother is a high-maintenance and high-strung bitch. On the other hand, it's unfair to me to have to go into debt upon my mother-in-law's command to go to Martha's Frigging Vineyard.

Eventually we left the hotel to walk to the mother-in-law's rented house (the purpose of our getting a hotel room was to provide a private oasis of rest, which the Sober Husband emphatically failed. There is NOTHING relaxing or restful about this ugly, nasty hellhole of a room. May the owners of the Pequot Hotel be forced to spend the afterlife in this ugly room!!!!). The Sober Husband had neglected to bring the address, so we walked up and down, up and down, up and down trying to find the mother-in-law's black Volvo in the dark on the correct unmarked street while the children whined about needing to use the potty.

We did finally arrive, to be fed some of the worst food on the surface of the earth, bland, flavorless, and cold. (On the other hand, it was free). Iris had a fever and was uncomfortable, and Lucy was tired and fell asleep on a couch, so we had to drag them home. There we discovered the Lucy had lost Moosie, her back-up stuffed animal (Bearie, the primary stuffed animal, was mistakenly left in San Francisco, and Moosie was left in either our car in a far away parking lot on the mainland or Ogunquit). Tears ensued. I sent the Sober Husband out to procure a consolation stuffed animal.

I really, really, really would delight in overdosing on something tonight save for the trauma to the children. This is my only trip out of state in five long years (and I am a woman who has traveled around the world): sitting in an ugly, noisy, hot, overpriced room with crappy beds...and just having absorbed the news that there's no more money. We aren't going to be able to buy the new double oven, five burner stove I craved. We won't be able to fix the two little floors which have only ugly, stained, unhygienic carpet with no subflooring. We won't be able to go on vacations. And I probably won't be able to work on an MFA.

I thought about fleeing to Boston and throwing myself on the mercy of old college friends, but just the taxi to the ferry costs NINETY DOLLARS. A person who is still absorbing terrible financial news is not ready to pay $90 to escape.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

welcome to my beach vacation

The National Weather Service just broke in, interrupting "Spongebob", to announce that there are flood warnings in effect for much of Maine and New Hampshire.

the ambitions of a five year-old girl

While we were in the car for so much of a long day driving from Cambridge to remote inner Maine, Lucy spent some time thinking about her life goals and made the mistake of recording her thoughts in her sketchbook.
Lucy wishlist

1. get gawn [gown]
2. killing Iris
3. win trophy
Iris was pretty bitter about the grown-ups' amusement over this rather psychopathic list. Oh, psychotic bloodlust, so much more acceptable when embodied in a cute little tapdancing girl. Visiting my aunt and uncle, who prominently feature in their home the remains of a large black bear once shot by my uncle, one couldn't help but think Lucy could combine 2 and 3 with great satisfaction in her black little heart.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

here I am, in the rain

We're in gorgeous scenic Ogunquit, Maine, near the beach and the Marginal Way and Perkins Cove and no end of scenic wonders, and it's POURING FUCKING RAIN and we're holed up in our hotel room eating salt water taffy (I've had so much sugar I feel ill) and watching cable TV. We tried a tapas restaurant, which we found rather disappointing, and I left a note for the chef explaining how to make a tortilla a la espanola.

Thank God we could change our room. The original room we saw overlooked Route 1, and it turns out that watching stop-and-go traffic inch along is almost as stressful as being in stop-and-go traffic. This room faces some maintenance sheds, a small lawn, and a few flowers and trees. MUCH BETTER.

We spent the last couple of days visiting my aunt and uncle up in Embden, Maine, which was really pretty fucking delightful apart from getting horrifically lost on the way up, in rural areas where we had no celphone coverage. I stopped to try to get a giant snapping turtle out of the road, which was a failure. That turtle wasn't going to budge unless it were to take a hunk of meat out of me. I have been trained to calm animals by throwing a towel over them and quickly and efficiently wrapping them up, and I imagined if I threw a big towel over this turtle, it would pull into its shell, I'd move it off the road, and then perhaps it would lick my hand in gratitude and turn its head over its shelly shoulder to watch me depart. Instead, as I tried to throw the towel over it, it lunged drastically and bit at the towel. I changed tactics and tried, toreador style, to lure it off the road. Around this time the Sober Husband's celphone suddenly got a few seconds of coverage, and my worried aunt called, who had expected us hours before. The Sober Husband described what was going on, as I performed my towel dance with the turtle, and my aunt told him to get me to walk away from the dangerous snapping turtle. However, the celphone coverage vanished before he could get better directions.

The subject of directions was a sensitive one, as the Sober Husband felt the emailed directions were a bit inadequate and I'd cautioned him against seeking directions from the locals. "They see that Mass plate" on the rental car I said, "and they'll think you're a Masshole. They're gonna give you the wrong directions."

Finally we found a store with a payphone, difficult as that was, and arranged for my uncle to meet us and show us how to reach his vacation home. After a day spent largely cooped up in the car, with the stress of being lost in remote central Maine, we finally arrived, where we were feted properly. The grown-ups ended up staying up late and getting quite drunk.

The next day my uncle introduced us to the joys of ATV riding. I was a complete loser at this (despite arguably being the best car driver), driving into a tree and losing my nerve. The Sober Husband, however, took to it fairly quickly. He ended up going on an hours long off-road trail ride (after a few bourbons) with my uncle and niece, including quite a lot of riding through deepish water. He came back elated and wired.

We also had a giant lobster feast. I explained to Iris Uber Alles that a lobster is an insect and that I didn't consider eating a lobster different than her swatting a fly (and Iris Uber Alles was indeed vengefully hunting flies with an electric flyswatter in Maine). This rationalization was promptly rejected by Iris and Lucy, who refused to taste the lobsters. "I just can't see why you want to sit around EATING CORPSES," Iris said caustically in the midst of our meal. (I am often criticized for raising my children as vegetarians, but no one ever seems to realize that I am not the alpha vegetarian in my home. I am the delta vegetarian at best, but at least I rank ahead of the Sober Husband, who actually eats dead mammals on a fairly regular basis).

"We're going to turn these girls into little rednecks", said my uncle, and the girls are indeed ready to move to rural Maine, aside from the lobster-eating. "But how can I go to the School of the Arts if I move to Maine?" Iris puzzled. "Life is full of compromises," I said unhelpfully.

If only it would stop raining, how happy I would be. Tomorrow we'll be attempting to enjoy scenic Ogunquit and hopefully meet up with an old friend of mine from junior high and high school. Five year-old Lucy keeps showing me on the iPhone how the weather is sunny and warm on the West Coast. "You're killing your mother with that thing, killing her," I said.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

it all looks so different

We're staying off Harvard Square in Cambridge, and what used to seem to me to be just about the most exciting and fabulous place in the world is seeming kind of, well, meh.

Probably a lot of the meh is that we're dead tired. My plan to take a redeye so the children would sleep the whole time failed spectacularly. The children stayed awake the whole flight, complaining in little whispers to me and waking me whenever I dozed off. Lucy cried twice, once when she realized that Bearie (a stuffed animal purchased once at Starbucks, now the most important stuffed animal in our lives) was not with us, and once, in the middle of the night, when she felt afraid of being so high in the air. The Sober Husband, across the aisle, appeared to get some sleep.

The children are hating the heat and complain bitterly whenever taken out of doors. "I could never go to Harvard," said eight year-old Iris Uber Alles. "The weather is too freakish!" "Oh, my sweet, sweet ankles," Lucy said sorrowfully.

They did enjoy J.P. Licks, a charming ice cream store with faux grass all over the walls and amazing sock monkey art. They also loved the Curious George store, where I picked up some sketch books and crayons for them (unbelievably I stupidly came without art equipment when the easiest way to entertain these children, aside from that blessed narcotic, television, is getting them to draw). We got them a book apiece, too, as consolation for having refused to get them very expensive books previously at Schoenhof's, the admirable foreign language bookstore (Lucy selected a Spanish book about mummies and Iris an Italian and English double version of Dickens, both of which were rejected by the parents on the grounds that the children would not use them enough to justify the expense). I was looking for "The Savage Detectives" by Roberto Bolano in Spanish, but Schoenhof's can't keep it in stock. I ordered it and another new Spanish novel I want, which will be shipped to me in San Francisco. Although I failed in my mission, I did get the satisfaction of buying Bolano's newest book, which is all the rage in Spain this year and won't come out in English until next year.

Tomorrow it's on to Maine! The children are dying to see a moose, but as my aunt said, "Moose is where moose is." The other day she had to wait for a group of five moose to leave before she could drive to work, but probably on the day her moose-craving great nieces arrive, the moose will all head for Canada.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

the innocence of a dear child

Five year-old Lucy eagerly asked her big sister the other day, "Do you know what I want??!!"

Iris replied bitterly, "To kill me."

Lucy was surprised and took a moment to think. Speaking slowly, she said, "Well, yes, I do want to kill you, but I was thinking that I want a milkshake."

testing the nerves and the marriage

So we're leaving in about two hours to jet off to the East Coast. While we are there, we will be spending a weekend on Martha's Vineyard, not only the setting of "Jaws" but also the place where large great white sharks have been legitimately spotted AND also where attention-wanters have claimed to have seen sharks. I am expecting this to trigger Lucy's shark phobias repeatedly. This trip will, more terrifyingly to me, feature my mother-in-law, sister-in-law (the one who makes jeering faces whenever I speak and has proclaimed that she shouldn't have to associate with people from rural New England -- full well knowing I"m from deep Maine), and the half-brother who never acknowledged my existence, and quite possibly his wife, whose existence no one will acknowledge. Sigh. Our marriage therapist laid down the ruling that it would be unrealistic of me to ask the Sober Husband to stand up for me in any way vis-a-vis his incredibly rude family, but instead we should both work on "studying the other person's perspective, like a scientist." At first, I felt like I'd been punched in the gut when I heard that, but later, after I cooled down, I realized it was eminently sensible. Instead, I have decided that as I am a middle-aged former litigator, and I should just feel free to let my over-educated and acidic tongue free should the need arise. Sadly the only inlaw who actually likes me, my manic brother-in-law, will not be in attendance.

On the brighter side, we'll be spending time with some very fun relatives of mine (silent readers of this blog, who dare not speak their caustic minds yet in comments). I'm going to have dinner with my favorite friend from junior high and drag the family to Ogunquit, one of my favorite places on earth.

My personal objectives before leaving included finishing "Who Stole Feminism?" by Christina Hoff Sommers, which I just ripped through; mending a tear in Lucy's beloved Bearie; and reaching level 67 on World of Warcraft with my mage character. I managed to pull all of those off. I loved "Who Stole Feminism?", which so clearly stated issues which were vaguely hovering in my mind. Did you know that Simone de Beauvoir once told Betty Friedan that "No woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one"?

I'll be blogging sporadically from my travels (but then again, I blog sporadically from my own home). Wish me luck and patience and plenty of Prosecco!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

focus! focus!

So it has come to this: I need bifocals.

I wasn't surprised. For the past six months, my vision has gotten kind of scary. I've always been severely nearsighted since I was a small child, but glasses and contacts mostly solved that. (I say "mostly" because my astigmatism is not corrected by contacts, and I don't like to drive at night due to this Lights are big and blurry, and it's hard to adjust between darkness and lightness. I've been ridiculed a lot for not driving at night, but eh, that's all right. My friends will reap a karmic vengeance for ridiculing a poor nearsighted girl, and I get to be the designated drinker). But increasingly and increasingly, I was having trouble reading small print, reading anything without a lot of bright light, and making out colored print on colored backgrounds.

My adorable eye doctor (a very kindly gay man of Asian descent and bear inclinations, which I think is a great combination, who is given to elaborate praise during eye examinations. I have never before been made to feel that making out the lines on those little charts is such a proof of my fabulousity) broke the news to me gently. He was surprised I was eager to get them. I really just want to see better, and I've already gone through a huge midlife I've-lost-my-looks funk and come out the other side. Also, it's easier to deal with aging now, than it would have been back in the nineties.

I explained this to my eye doctor. "Thank God it's now I'm getting bifocals. Back in the nineties, I hated pop culture. I hated the music --- I liked Nirvana, but all those depressing ripoffs were so awful --" He took up this point with avidity. "You mean like Portishead?", and we listed terrible grunge bands.

"And the hair and the fashions... all so awful. I used to feel that I was an old fogey and stuck in that young-people-don't-know-music thing, and it was so depressing. But now I love listening to the radio again! There's so much great music now. Not just rock and pop, but that genre I call 'gay disco', it's so much better now. It used to be that boring house, but now it's fun. I love listening to Energy. And the hair and clothes, it's all so much better now. So I don't feel like an old fogey, like I'm stuck and fossilizing."

Evidently I am the first patient to react to getting bifocals this way.

Monday, July 14, 2008

not cool

Eight year-old Iris has long deemed her father an uncool geek (and oddly enough she parses things such that she calls herself a "nerd", which is by her lights "cool", but geekness is, unlike nerdity, uncool) but given her mother a bye. Maybe it's the tattoos and the little emerald I wear in my nose, maybe it's because I helped Iris dye her hair red and blonde, maybe it's inexplicable; but I've been coasting on my reputation for coolness with the children and their friends. Lucy gave me an unpleasant reality check recently when I was comparing us to a fictional family, and she said strongly, "But we aren't like them because that mom is cool."

"What? You think I'm not cool?"

Lucy pondered this for some time and looked for a diplomatic answer. Sweetly and condescendingly she said, "Sometimes when you give us ice cream, I think you are a little cool."

shark update

Today was Lucy's swimming class, and once again, when informed of that fact, her lip swelled out and her eyes brimmed with tears. "Bad dream!" she said, telegraphing her vivid memory of that infamous "killer shark" nightmare she had nearly six months ago.

"But you have the shark charm now!" I said, exasperated that my hard work and innovation in creating a "Lucy Is The Shark Queen" necklace wasn't getting me farther. Evidently a shark keep-away charm only has one use before it wears off, I learned.

I made the mistake of trying to discuss the shark possibility rationally. "Sharks can't be in swimming pools. They need deep water, in the ocean."

Lucy was unconvinced.

"How would it get in there? You drive there. Sharks can't take cars."

Stubbornly Lucy insisted, "But it looks like shark water. Kind of green."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

long ago

"Long ago," five year-old Lucy intoned while looking intensely at me, "Cats ruled the earth. But their only superpower was staring without blinking!"

Friday, July 11, 2008

hell is a bit frosty

Yesterday a number of well-nigh unbelievable things happened. First of, I took as many books as I could carry to sell at a used bookstore, and the buyer bought every single one. "I'd like to thank you for bringing these books in; they're great!" he said. The last time I tried to sell books, it was a highly humiliating affair, with a twenty-something visibly sneering at me and informing me that I clearly didn't grasp the particular bookstore's niche, which was especially irksome given that I'd bought almost all those very same books there in the first place. The Sober Husband won't take my used books around to used bookstores, having come to view it as a humiliating exercise in wasting time.

A bit more pedestrian miracle -- but also one which had never occurred before -- happened when we went to the grocery store. Not only had I remembered to bring reusable cloth bags from home, our groceries fit perfectly into those bags. No space left; no need for an additional, non-disposable bag. Additionally the middle-aged, well-dressed woman whose access to the mini-quiches we (meaning Iris and Lucy) blocked was not cranky with us, but instead exchanged a cordial conversation upon the joys of tiny frozen quiches.

The geekier amongst us might also marvel at the fact that I did some group quests in a pick-up-group on World of Warcraft, and not one person complained, looted inappropriately, stomped off, or otherwise behaved poorly. Instead, some tricky work was well-executed by total strangers cooperating and communicating delightfully.

And in that same day, some exhibitionist with too much money made an offer on that wretched new house.

I'm not sure when we will experience another day of oddities like that one. Today seems all too unexceptional, with me being awakened by Iris informing me that "Frowsty killed a mouse in the garden, and there are lots of bugs on it."

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

the state of things

For ten months, I've been engaged in a dysfunctional relationship with a rather sociopathic contractor building a luxury home close to mine. He finally finished his house and put it on the market, not without some over-the-top disregard for the neighbors by completely blocking off the street for most of two days in order to "stage" the house for sale (a friend trying to drop off his daughter at my house was particularly inconvenienced by this).

Not surprisingly, the sociopathic contractor has delusions of grandeur: he is asking two million, one hundred seventy nine thousand dollars for his little house. Over $2.1 million! Evidently the pocket-sized sociopath felt there would not only be one sucker at that price, but several. He and his realtor team set up a ridiculous, height-of-the-housing-bubble, auction-style sale. Open houses were held constantly, including on untraditional days (in San Francisco, the practice is that open houses for anyone to stroll into are held on the weekend, and during the week, there are only broker's tours, which are held on Tuesday afternoons and no one allowed in unless chaperoned by a licensed real estate agent). A huge, glossy booklet trumpeting the property as "sexy" was handed out. This was all to come to a head on July 2nd, when the agents announced they would accept offers (and presumably oversee the ensuing imagined and anticipated fierce and furious bidding war).

The brochure advertising the property as "sexy" was hilarious to me, as clearly the architecture revealed something I'd rather not contemplate about the sexual desires of the pocket-sized sociopath. The master bedroom is designed for exhibitionism. One wall is all glass, and indeed where that wall meets a side wall, the side wall is glass. There is no conceivable way to put curtains up. It is not a particularly large master bedroom, and anyone living in it would be getting dressed, undressed, and, hopefully for them but not for the unwilling neighbors, having sex in full view of everyone who lives nearby. We dropped by one of the open houses, and I saw to my horrified fascination that the master bedroom's bathroom had a large wall cutout rendering the nearby door somewhat ineffective. Not only would anyone willing to pay $2.1 million for this smallish house need to want to conduct their sex life in public, that person would not be able to move their bowels in their own master bathroom in private.

Perhaps there are well-heeled exhibitionists with a passion for sterile modern architecture, but here it is July 8th, and no one has put in an offer. I was a participant myself in a good old-fashioned San Francisco real estate bidding war, and I know those proceed apace (the Sober Husband and I went through several rounds of bids over one morning, jumping each time the phone rang. By noon we knew we had a new house, and we both felt like we'd been punched in the stomach). The house isn't done causing me annoyance, though. Today the little sociopath came and applied some form of extremely stinky chemical to the roof of the $2.1 million house.

Meanwhile, at our more private home nearby, it's been pretty peaceful. The current batch of foster kittens are extremely conscientious about litter box usage and delightfully playful. Lucy has two loose teeth she delights in waggling to gross her sister out. The Sober Husband is floating in a sort of bliss at the moment. It reminds me of how I felt after I recovered from nearly dying due to undiagnosed gallbladder disease (the worst doctor I saw during this period gave me a snap diagnosis of HIV and, when my blood test came back negative, had no further ideas and just sent me home. Later I was admitted to the hospital on an emergency basis when my liver and other internal organs were failing). When I finally got back to full health, I was overwhelmed with joy at being alive. Everything was miraculous and beautiful to me; I wandered through the days with delight. That all came crashing to a halt on 9/11, which certainly harshed my mellow, but it was beautiful before then. I hope nothing so drastic occurs to bring the Sober Husband down, so happy at being back in regular family life after our big falling-out where I asked him to move out temporarily. Since he came back, I was rather distant and cranky towards him, sort of the Mr. Burns to his Smithers, but lately I've been softening. I don't want to stay angry. It will all be tested by fire in a couple of weeks when we set off cross-country for his mother's ridiculously selfish birthday party, but it's been peaceful for now.

Monday, July 07, 2008

a new level of sleaze

Eight year-old Iris scolds five year-old Lucy: "That is a new level of sleaze, EVEN FOR YOU!!!"

Sunday, July 06, 2008

microchip a cat, adopt a kitten, peer at the Drunken Housewife

Today (sorry for the last minute notice; I didn't line this up until yesterday) I will be taking my foster kittens to an adoption event, in connection with a Free Microchipping Clinic, at the insane and incredible Cat Safari, 3233 Sacramento St (at Presidio).
Pet Camp® has completely rethought the traditional boarding kennel. Since the beginning, one vision has shaped everything we do: what would our pets like?

In keeping with that vision, Pet Camp now offers two great adventures to choose from – our main campground for both dogs and cats and Cat Safari, our strictly-for-cats “outdoor” adventureland.

Main Campground. Dogs and cats can play and stay at our expansive main campground located in the Bayview district. It’s the only facility in San Francisco to offer off-leash, outdoor space where your dog can run and romp with other dogs and play amid slides, tunnels and agility equipment.

Cat Safari. Cats who crave a walk on the wild side can head uptown to Cat Safari located in Presidio Heights. In our Safari Gardens, your cat can get a taste of life in the Serengeti, climbing live tree limbs and traversing bamboo bridges.

Whichever campground you choose, when your pet stays with us, you're assured that they are enjoying the next best thing to your being with them. Take a moment to explore our site, or call us at 415.282.0700 to take a personal tour of either facility during our regular office hours.

Our Cat Safari facility is heating up the summer with two very important events. Up first on Sunday, July 6th, is a just-for-cats microchip clinic. This Animal Care and Control clinic, hosted by Pet Camp Cat Safari, will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m at Cat Safari, 3233 Sacramento Street (at Presidio). We suggest a $20 donation for all San Francisco residents.
I have some of the most amazing kittens imaginable, including a rather simian black kitten whom I would dearly love to keep for my own, but as I'm teetering on the brink of crazy cat-ladyhood, must adopt out.

Friday, July 04, 2008

hiking with the drama princesses

Today I wanted to get some exercise and some fresh air, and so we set out to explore the much-neglected San Bruno Mountain Park, bringing a light picnic along. For a long time the Sober Husband and I had been intending to visit that park, and on one pathetic occasion we'd tried to find it without success (that outing devolved into a squabble and a tense drive home). Today, though, we found the park (not without a couple of wrong turns first) and set out on a trail. "The children can walk a mile," I said optimistically. "Anyone can walk a mile."

San Bruno Mountain turned out to be just what we'd hope for: a beautiful expanse of open space (albeit crossed by a four lane divided highway) which was weirdly deserted, leaving us to enjoy the birds, views, and wildflowers. Usually in the Bay Area anytime I want to do anything remotely enjoyable, I find myself navigating through throngs of others with the same ideas and goals, but San Bruno Mountain is rarely visited.

The children seemed to think it should stay unvisited. Five year-old Lucy was appalled at the very idea that we'd expect her to walk on a hiking trail. "I just want to sleep in the car," she explained. When that request was denied, she burst out with "I'm tired! I'm cold!" When this was ignored, she shouted, "KILL ME!"

Eight year-old Iris set out in fine style but soon turned to inquiring, "When will we be at the parking lot? Can we eat now? When can we stop? How much longer?" She was comforted when our hike brought us around to the side of San Bruno Mountain affording her a view of our Volvo in the distance.

When we finally returned to the parking lot, Iris ran to the car and hugged it dramatically. I picked up a map. "Next time, I want to take some of these other trails," I said.

"WE'RE COMING BACK???" asked Iris in disbelief.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


I have chronic insomnia, and yesterday I was sleep-deprived to the point of misery. I proposed to the children after Lucy's dance class that "Mommy take a nap!" and the children try to play quietly. This was viewed with suspicion and unhappiness, as each child felt evidently that she was not safe from the other without the active supervision of the Drunken Housewife. I overruled their misgivings, undressed, and climbed into bed.

I was just drifting off when suddenly five year-old Lucy burst out into the sort of hysterical sobbing that can probably be detected by orbiting satellites. I called Lucy to come tell me what happened. Between her sobs, she managed to get a few words out. Tragedy had struck! Lucy had set down a lemon tartlet which she'd been carrying about and slowly nibbling upon, and a cat licked it! The lemon tartlet in question had been the subject of much angst over the preceding week, as dumb old Mommy had committed a crime against humanity by buying Iris a lemon tartlet while Lucy was in dance class. Never mind that I bought Lucy a cupcake and that I had thought the lemon tarts were too tangy for her; Lucy had become obsessed with that lemon tart consumed by her eternal enemy, Iris, and now that finally she had gotten one of her own, a cat had licked it. I explained to Lucy that cat germs are not so dangerous to people as other people's germs and that, in my opinion, she could safely finish her lemon tartlet.

Lucy went back downstairs, where she discovered that while she had been telling me that a cat had licked her lemon tartlet, another villainous cat had eaten the whole lemon filling. This is what comes of leaving pastries unchaperoned. Lucy's grief and rage were epic, and I got out of bed and abandoned the prospect of a nap. I actually had a beautiful cupcake on hand, purchased because there was a possibility one of Lucy's friends would be coming over who could not be expected to eat a lemoncentric treat, and I gave this to Lucy, but it gave her no consolation. Lucy waved the empty lemon tart shell about, crying, and Iris asked for permission to eat this defiled shell. ("Those lemon tarts are so good," said Iris later, "that I didn't mind Lucy germs AND cat germs").

I should have gone back to the bakery for another one, but my fatigue had grown to the point where driving felt unsafe. I was supposed to drive Iris to a friend's for a sleepover, but I didn't feel safe behind the wheel. I instructed Iris to call her friend to tell her that she wouldn't be there until evening, when the Sober Husband would return from work and could safely drive her. Faced with crabby children, one continually bursting into noisy, lemon tart-related tears, but physically and mentally exhausted, I fell back upon an old diversion I had used for Iris when she was a toddler. I told the children that they could add to Mommy's tattoos. (The children love Mommy's tattoos and take it for granted that they will get some as well. Lucy has become a bit worried, though, since she learned that tattoos are painful. "When I am a woman and I get a tattoo," she said recently, "isn't there a way without a needle?")

They spent all afternoon drawing all over my arms and legs. At first, they had high-minded artistic goals. Iris practiced writing "Iris" in kanji, and Lucy drew a rainbow. Soon, however, it deteriorated. One of them drew a butt, and then both decided what would truly be nice would be if they covered me in pictures of butts. My left leg was renamed "Buttopolis" and my right leg "Butt Heaven." The height of wit was reached when Lucy drew a butt which had evidently just released some foul gas, as a fairy princess passing by was depicted with an expression of disgust.

"Why don't you draw some flowers?" I suggested, a bit tired of the nonstop butt humor. "I will draw a butt with flowers coming out of it!" Lucy said cheerfully.