Tuesday, June 17, 2008

outta here

There I go again with that not posting thing. Shoot. All I can say is, I HATE THIS FUCKING BLOG. I'M SICK OF IT. 

Sort of. I think the real issue is that my kids, they exhaust me. Completely. I don't know why it's so hard. I don't even have a job or anything. And my kids do camp and preschool. Plenty of women have three kids and a full-time job and they cook gourmet meals and do triathlons on the side. And they paint, too. They paint! 

But I can hardly do anything, including this here blog. I have the desire but not the motivation. It's a very uncomfortable combination of conditions.  

I don't know what the future holds. We're off to the Holy Land tomorrow night. Maybe I'll get my mojo back. See ya. 

Monday, June 9, 2008

should I make this a regular feature?

Recent pubic hair sightings (see this to be further grossed out edified):

1. Half an apple that I had stored in a container in the fridge and was preparing to slice for my mother-in-law. 

2. The lip of the kiddy pool at the JCC. 

My work never ceases.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

guess who got to sleep in?

I remember learning in high school about a rhetorical device where, when making a case for something, you lead with your weaker arguments and save the strongest for last. That way your reader or listener has the experience of repeatedly thinking, wow, that's an even better argument, and is left with the most compelling reason freshest in his mind. 

I think I employed this technique quite masterfully yesterday morning, when Lilah (who, by the way, is for the most part now sleeping in her crib) sat up in between Stupiddaddy and me way too early and said, "I want to go downstairs, okay?" 

"Can you do it this morning?"

[Silence.]

"Please? I've done it every morning this week. I even did it last weekend." 

[He rolls over in the other direction.]

"And I had a shitty night of sleep. She kept kicking me in the head."
 
"Grrmmm. Uh-uh." 

"And besides, I'm mad at you because you cheated on me in my dream last night."

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

cassanova

In the last month or so, my boys have spent what seems like hours every day searching for critters and collecting them in containers, observing them as they frantically try to escape their newfound hell in action, and then wondering briefly the next day, before going off on the hunt again, why the specimen is dead, despite the grass and dirt they threw at it and the holes they poked in the lid. I can't tell you how many earthworms, roly polys, moths, spiders, grubs, slugs, ladybugs, crickets, ants, flies, and cicadas they've captured; but to this day, each discovery is as exciting as the very first. 

One afternoon a few weeks ago, a neighborhood girl Ezra is soft on came over for a visit. Before she left, Ezra extracted a roly poly from the collection he had amassed earlier, put it in its own little container, wrote "love" on the lid, and handed it to her. 

"This is for you," he said meaningfully. 

Because nothing says "I love you" like a terrestrial crustacean.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

best idea ever

Yesterday afternoon, the five of us spent some time driving around Asheville looking for a used tire to make a tire swing. The original wooden swing that Stupiddaddy had rigged up came crashing down a couple of times and in any case had failed to maintain our kids' interest. The seemingly ingenious replacement--the capsule of our old jogger, which had many sharp metal edges jutting out but was lots of fun and made it easy to imagine they were blasting off into space--took a chunk out of Lilah's forehead. So we decided a tire swing was the only way to go. 

As we drove, the kids did a whole lot of screaming at each other, and "Stupid" was bandied about quite a bit, and there were several rounds of "No I didn't/Yes you did." Tensions ran especially high after we found a suitable tire and heaved it in, because all three of them wanted to touch the tire but only two of them could do it at once. 

In the car, though, there's not a whole lot you can do. You can't send anyone to a different room, or take away a toy. So I just looked at Stupiddaddy and rolled my eyes. 

"We need a Taser," he said. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

and that, I guess, is that

Iris, whose story begins here, moved away a few days ago. We knew the move was coming; she had been talking about it for a few months now, saying very matter-of-factly that her mom didn't like Asheville because it's too much of a big city and the air quality is bad. 

The real issue, of course, is that there are too many people getting in the way of her mom's ability to be crazy, which there always will be. They haven't lived in the same spot for more than nine months since Iris has been with her. 

On the day they left, they still didn't know where they were moving to. It was either going to be Minnesota or California, and then at the last minute, Boone, NC, two hours away from here, got thrown into the mix as well. 

I haven't written about Iris in the last few months, in part because this blog was getting more local readers and I didn't feel right about it, and in part because we'd been seeing so much less of Iris than we used to. After her mom banned her from coming over here to play, and especially after she found out about her many clandestine visits, things changed. Iris formed bonds with others in the neighborhood, including a couple of families we're friends with, and I began hearing about her through them more than I was interacting with her directly. They were the ones who were now feeding her and watching her on snow days and weekends and any other time Sonia couldn't be bothered. 

I felt like I had disengaged from Iris emotionally, and yet I got teary when I hugged her goodbye. There was a lot I wanted to say to her but I didn't say anything except, "Take care."And now, days later, I can't stop thinking about her. Some people moved into their apartment right away, and every time I look over and see the drapes they've hung, I feel disoriented and then just really sad.  

A few days before Iris left, a mom she had grown close to gave her some prepaid postcards addressed to a bunch of us in the neighborhood so that Iris could keep in touch. But Sonia wouldn't let her keep them. 

I was simultaneously not at all surprised and completely devastated by this woman's cruelty. 

Another thing Sonia wouldn't let Iris keep was her bike, which she got around Christmas from some other neighborhood friends whose daughter had outgrown it. Iris rode that bike like crazy every day, sometimes with a posse of kids, sometimes on her own cruising for company or just needing to be away from home. Sometimes, too, I'd see her ride painfully slowly, circling, while her mom walked nearby, stopping at every corner, or whenever she came across something on the sidewalk that disturbed her, to go through her tap-tap-tap routine.  

Anyway, Iris really loved her bike. It's still parked on the sidewalk in front of her old house. None of us knows what to do with it. 

Friday, May 23, 2008

some thoughts on NPR coverage from young listeners

"Barack OBAMA? Barack Obama! Barack Obamamamamama! Baracko...bama! Who's that?" (Levi)

"Why are they always talking about killing and sword fights and stuff?" (Ezra)

"I don't like this teacher talk." (Lilah) 

Thursday, May 22, 2008

whirled peas

If you've ever done any meditation (and if you haven't, please return to the 20th century), then you know that often, visualization is part of the deal. You're supposed to make a picture in your head of happiness, or safety, or calm, or some such fantasy, whatever it looks like to you. 

I've never been able to do that. Once, a Chinese healer dude, trying to guide me through a meditation practice, asked me to picture a peaceful place and insert myself there, and my internal dialogue went something like this:

Me: Umm..... How about the beach in the Virgin Islands where I went on family vacations when I was girl?
Me: A goddamn beach? How unoriginal can you get? 
Me: But it was a really nice beach. Remember those thin yellow rafts, and how clear the water was, and the way the sun reflected off of it?
Me: Sigh. If only I had applied sunscreen instead of baking myself for hours every day, my skin wouldn't be the wrinkly shoe leather that it is today.
Me: It was a nice. Fucking. Beach.
Me: It is a totally obvious. Fucking. Beach. 
Me: Do you have any brilliant ideas?
Me: What about a forest? 
Me: Oh, a forest. There's something no one's ever thought of before. And besides, what forest? 
Me: Some generic forest. I don't know, Austria. Austria has forests, doesn't it?
Me: Yeah, but it's too cold there. 

It wasn't relaxing at all. 

Another time, an energy worker asked me to come up with an image of comfort, and I was like, "I don't know...my dog?" I loved my dog very much, but she didn't feel like the picture of comfort to me. She was kind of smelly, actually. Yet this woman was standing there waiting, the clock was ticking, so that's what I told her. 

Then there was the hypnotherapist who guided me along a river and through a lovely field filled with tall grass. It was a total relief because she was doing the describing, except at the end of the field, apparently, there was a rainbow, and then she asked me to tell her what colors the rainbow had. And because I completed third grade, I knew the colors were Roy G. Biv, but that obviously wasn't supposed to be my personal rainbow's color scheme, otherwise she wouldn't have asked. But I just couldn't get Roy out of my head.

By the way, what colors is your rainbow? 

But the weirdest thing happened to me a couple of months ago. In one of about 29 million attempts to figure out how to control my reactivity and, essentially, not be such a crazed bitch so much of the time, an image came to me, out of the blue. 

I started to see my anger and all my other feelings as something outside of me, instead of a part of me. These emotions were hanging down in front of me like stalactites inside a cave--big, heavy shapes that I could look at, and walk around, and sometimes had to duck under to keep from smacking right into. It's a crude, simple picture, it's not going to win any awards for artistry, but it worked for me. With it, I began to understand that I could separate from my feelings rather than letting them control me. 

I still lose my shit on a regular basis, but whereas I used to fume and brood and rehash arguments with new and improved comebacks for hours and days beyond, at least now, after the loss of shit, I can sit quietly and envision my special place with its dangly feelings, and I can see myself moving around them, and then that's exactly what I do. 

That's progress, people.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

oh, it's nothing really

Didn't mean to get your hopes up, KD. It's just that my mom is nuts--and I don't mean that colloquially, but in the true, formal sense of the word. She is literally, diagnosably nuts. 

But I promised myself I wouldn't write about her on this here blog, even though she doesn't know about it. (We're close like that.) I already wrote an entire book that was more or less about her and I'm committed to moving on to other topics--at least in terms of my writing, if not in terms of the energy I expend feeling angry, brooding, and grieving. Maybe someday that will follow.

I will say, though, that I've learned that when she plans a visit, I need to schedule a few days following to be a basket case. I allow myself that. 

It's gone rather well this time. Highlights have included a three-hour nap and several unnecessary handfuls of chocolate snap cookies on top of the original couple of handfuls, which were themselves completely unnecessary. Oh, and there was some wine involved too.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

sorry

My mom visited for the weekend. She is a very taxing woman. I am now recuperating. More later.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

driving the point home

Yesterday I was having a really hard time, and as I was going through my post-shower primping routine, to the extent that I have one, I started thinking about my blog, and how I was going to write a post about what a hard time I was having. 

I began to compose the post in my head, and right at that moment, I reached down to put my hairbrush away in the vanity and slammed the drawer into my thumbnail. I have a really low tolerance for pain, as my husband is always pointing out (although I always like to point out in return that I climb Masada with meningitis when I was 14), but believe me when I say it hurt like hell, even though the drawer didn't appear to be moving with that much force. It was just one of those things that seem inconsequential but end up causing great pain, like a paper cut. Or a hangnail. 

I yelped, and then I sat down on the toilet, which was the nearest horizontal surface, and bawled for about five minutes. I also peed, because, you know, there I was; I figured I might as well. 

After that, I felt much better.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

shit rainbows

My blog is giving me a complex. When I work at a post, I hate it because it seems inauthentic, like I'm trying too hard. When I abandon coherence and rhythm and go for raw sentiment, I hate it because it seems sloppy. 

Then there's the whole site meter thing. 

I guess, to be fair to my blog, I already had the complex. I already had many complexes.

Yesterday I went swimming for the first time in a long time. What I love most about swimming is that I love swimming even though I suck at it. My parents claimed when I was 12 that my swim coach at camp that summer had told them I was a talented swimmer but fated not to go anywhere with the sport because my feet were too small. I don't know if he said that or not, but they believed it, and I did too for a while. I've since realized that my problems with biomechanics and physiology are more extensive than that, though I don't know what they are exactly. I've studied videos of elite swimmers and read up on proper stroke technique, but no matter how hard I try, I'm really seriously slow. I'm a decent athlete; I'm just not a swimmer. 

Still, I do my laps, and that makes me happy. And yesterday was no exception, even though it became obvious to me after the first lap that after so much time away, this was going to be a challenge. 

I hang onto that: the knowledge that at least in one domain, I can enjoy myself even though I'm not good, and the hope that maybe over time this gift will transfer to other areas. 

Today, my hip flexor muscles are so sore that I had to lift my left leg with my hands every time I wanted to step on the emergency brake. 

As I was driving around this morning, it began to rain--enough that I had to turn the wipers on, but not enough to actually rinse off the windshield, which was covered in bird shit since we've got a village of starlings living under the eaves of our house, driveway-side. 

The wipers just smeared the shit around on the windshield, and I thought, "Oh, shit! Shit." But then I noticed that because of the motion of the wipers, two grayish arcs were forming. I just knew that if Ezra had been in the car with me, he would have said, "Mommy, look! Rainbows!" 

So I tried to put that spin on it: shit rainbows. I mean: yes, shit, but shit rainbows. It felt a little forced. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

in lieu of a coherent post, a few items

1. Ezra asked me if Pennsylvania is shaped like a pencil. Also: if "dying a slow death" looks like falling to the ground in slow motion. Also, on the subject of heart disease: how could he possibly change the way he eats--by eating while standing on his head? while lying on his stomach?

2. Lilah ate cream cheese for dinner. Straight from the tub. (See, I write that, and then I'm all, Stop trying to go for that "I'm such a shitty parent, but I own it, and that's what makes me so cool" effect.

But she did eat cream cheese straight from the tub.

But I chose to write about it.)

3. I've started immediately throwing the "I love you Mommy" artwork that Ezra brings home from school into the recycling. After the first 50, it stopped seeming genuine and started to seem more like a Tourette's tic.

4. Levi...middle child...can't think of anything to say about him....

Friday, May 9, 2008

like hitting snooze

Last night I dreamed that I was dying. I was at the doctor's office for a routine visit and we were looking at my blood in a vial. It was behaving badly: clotting and bubbling up, coiling back on itself. And up there on the doctor's computer screen was an urgent notice flashing that I had hematoglobula-something, which meant that I was going to die really soon.

I was pushed out into the parking lot in a wheelchair, where I sat in the baking sun and cried about my kids growing up without their mother. And Stupiddaddy said, "But you'll see them from wherever you are." I conceded that I might, but my point was that they wouldn't be able to see me. And as much as I am fucking them up by being around them, I was going to fuck them up that much more by disappearing.

Then my 94-year-old grandmother showed up, and it became clear to me that I was made to be terminally ill so that I could usher her over to the other side, which gave me a lot of comfort , even though she's a fucking bitch.

I seem to have death on the brain lately, and I'm not sure why. I keep expecting that these ruminations and fantasies will change the way I live, making me kinder and more loving and more appreciative, lighting a fire under my ass to get that novel written, turning me into a seizer of days.

But in practice, it's business as usual. I still snap at my kids and bitch at my husband. I still waste time. Fear is still the boss of me.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

not sure why I had to get this off my chest

I hate pubic hairs. Not pubic hair--I don't mind the bush--but pubic hairs: the loose, individual hairs that leave the body in order to bother me. Of course I hate the strange ones--like hanging off the rim of a public toilet! I'm getting a little queasy just thinking about it--but even my husband's. Even my own! Not that I'd expect anyone to be happy to come across one of those fellas (whoever it belonged to), but I don't think many people are as disturbed by them as I am. Look, we all have our hang-ups.

And because I am an expert at self-torment, I seem to have an eye for them. I find them everywhere. And then I must make them go away. If I see one in the bed or on the floor, I have to put it in the trash. (Stupiddaddy just ignores it. That he can continue on with his day knowing there is a pubic hair right at his feet astounds me.) I will even grab some toilet paper and nudge a stranger's straggler into the toilet at a restaurant.

When I was in college, my very first real boyfriend had me over for dinner at his off-campus apartment. The whole time we were eating, all I could think about was the pubic hair that was resting on the table we were eating at. Did he see it too? Was it his, or one of his roommates'? Should I just brush it away, or would that make things even more awkward?

It was very early in the relationship.

Once, as a "practical joke," Stupiddaddy put a pubic hair on my toothbrush. Boy was I surprised when I got ready to brush my teeth that night! Ha ha.

And once, when I was folding laundry, I found a pubic hair caught in the weave of one of Lilah's little pink and white striped socks.

That was really hard for me too.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I voted today

And you know what? Even though I'm pessimistic and cynical about pretty much everything, including politics, and including, at this point, even this particular election, it still felt great. Election Days just do that to me.

I loved going into the polls, and seeing other people come and go; the gravity of the process overwhelmed me. Every time I came across somebody proudly wearing one of those thumbnail-size "I voted" stickers--especially the folks who didn't mind it on a dress shirt, or the lapel of a fancy suit--I got chills. I slapped my sticker across my shirt and wore it proudly, too, until it fell off five minutes later.

I got chills, too, seeing people on street corners holding up placards for their candidates, even when it was the wrong a different candidate, but especially when it was my guy. I am absolutely not the type of person who does the friendly toot-toot-toot of her horn and thumbs up salute, but I couldn't help myself. When I saw the Obama team, I toot-toot-tooted my horn, I gave the thumbs up, I waved happily.

And while I wish this nomination had been sealed up long ago, it's nice to know my vote--the votes of all North Carolinians (even the disenfranchised--my god, 38% voter turnout in my county) mattered, though I am a little tired of fielding phone calls from everyone in the Clinton family.

So, for all its many flaws, woohoo! for democracy.

Friday, May 2, 2008

guilt

This afternoon, I had to buy a gift certificate for a bat mitzvah we're going to tomorrow. I was planning to get it at Target, but my husband, who apparently has his finger on the pulse of today's youth, told me that was a stupid idea and suggested I go to Abercrombie & Fitch instead.

Dutiful wife that I am, that's what I did. Holy shit! That place is evil. Never mind that the lighting is so low that you can't see the merchandise. Never mind that the music was playing so loud the salesperson--some asshole dude who I know was thinking he was so cool for working there--kept saying to me, "What was that?"

All that annoyance just means I'm an old lady. The thing that really chapped my ass is that they're selling a tee-shirt that says, "Eat, Drink, Be Blonde." I mean, seriously: WTF? How is that okay? That tee-shirt right there represents so much of what's wrong with this country.

But the thing is, I didn't leave the store when I saw that. I stayed, and I bought the gift certificate--partly because I didn't have a lot of time and had to get something right then, and partly because I thought my boycotting wasn't going to make a lick of difference. Which is the worst line of thinking, right? Why vote? Why recycle?

I'm guilting my brunette self to death over this one, not even kidding. I should have walked.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

travel plans

My brother is getting married to an Israeli woman, in Israel, next month. It's going to be a small wedding by Israeli standards, meaning she invited something shy of the entire country and on his side, not many can travel overseas for a wedding, especially on short notice.

But we can (thanks to my mom's generous offer to foot the travel bill)! We're going! As excited as I am to be there, I'm already worrying about how the hell we're going to get through a 12-hour flight with a 2-, 4-, and 6-year old. We could take up all our carry-on space with brand new toys and other distractions, but even that would only buy us a couple of hours. Not unlike most little people, my kids like to move their bodies. If only they made Children's Ambien.... Maybe if we cut a regular Ambien into thirds and dipped the pieces in sugar? Ghetto Children's Ambien; could work.

I'm also worried about the plane crashing into the ocean, which maybe doesn't come as a surprise, but the truth is, despite all my many neuroses, I never had any fear of flying until I had kids. Now all I can think about is looking over at Stupid Daddy as the plane plummets, and thinking, Oh crap, we never got to--

On the plus side, the flight would be a lot shorter.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

death and whatnot

In this book I was reading but then abandoned--Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay--two characters are talking about how Jewish people are supposed to be buried naked.

It's kind of an incidental snippet of conversation, but I think it's the thing I'll remember most from the 67 pages I read. My dad died of ALS seven years ago, and though, when it happened, I spent so much time thinking about him being dead--being dead and in the ground, even--I never actually thought about what he might or might not be wearing. So when I read this dialogue, I thought, Oh my god, he was naked!

I remembered sitting in some room in the funeral home with my family and Stupid Daddy and all of a sudden noticing the coffin in the corner, with an Israeli flag draped over it. "Is that him?" I asked Stupid Daddy, stupidly, and he said, "I think so." And then it was real. Or I should say it was real again, because that was the thing about him dying: it kept going away, and then it kept coming back again.

But even though I was aware of him being dead inside a box right there in front of me, I didn't think about clothing. And I didn't think about it during the funeral service, or at the cemetery, where friends and family dug the hole and he was lowered into it, or afterwards when, for many months, I would wonder what state of decomposition his body was in.

I guess, if pressed, I might have always just pictured him in a suit, since that's what he wore to work every day and was so comfortable in he didn't change his clothes--or even so much as loosen his tie--until it was time to get ready for bed.

For years after he died, I dreamed about him. In every dream, I would say, "So you're not really dead!" and there would be this rush of relief and joy. It always turned out, though, that he was sick--but not dying sick; stabilized sick. So he'd be in a wheelchair in one dream, or using a cane in another, but it didn't really matter because he was alive and he wasn't going to get any sicker.

I stopped dreaming about him a couple of years ago, but to this day I keep banging up against the reality that my kids will never meet their grandfather. It's new every time, like I'll crash into that thought with no warning, no "just so you know, you've had this realization before, you might want to put on some shin guards and a helmet, oh and by the way? you should be getting used to it by now." I just keep crashing.

Friday, April 25, 2008

we did vow honesty

Several weeks ago, Stupid Daddy and I were in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner. He leaned over to kiss the top of my head.

"You smell really bad," he said.

"REALLY?" I said, jerking away from him.

"Yeah." He leaned over and sniffed some more. "You know what you smell like? You know when you haven't flossed your teeth in a while and then you floss finally and it comes out just smelling completely nasty? That's what you smell like. Are you using a different shampoo?"

Yes, I thought. That's exactly it. I'm using a different shampoo: Avalon Organics Lavender and Dental Floss Funk. Now with extra ass!

"Oh my GOD!" I said, jerking away again. I extended my arm to him. "What about here?"

He leaned over and breathed in deeply. "Yep, there too."

"So my entire body smells like dental floss funk."

"Yeah, pretty much."

We stood there for a while contemplating a cause other than a change in beauty and hygiene products, even though that was a really good idea on his part. I thought it might have something to do with the copious amounts of fish oil I'd been consuming, but after several more deep inhalations, he confirmed that no, there wasn't even a note of fish in the odor; it really was just exclusively dental floss funk.

I spent the rest of the evening in self-imposed exile, trying not to think about the cloud of disgustingness that surrounded me. The next day, even after a shower, Stupid Daddy said I still stunk. But by night I was, according to his report, back to normal.

So we'll never know what it was. I'm just glad it's over with, though I have to say, I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to smell it myself.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

pushing it

This morning I called Stupid Daddy into the bathroom to look at the turd one of our cats had just deposited into the litter box. It was ten inches long, I swear.

The boys, who were having breakfast in front of a cartoon, dropped their spoons into their cereal and came running.

"I wanna see!" they said. "I wanna see!"

And so the four of us crowded into the bathroom, stood over the litter box, and marveled.

I just love those moments when I can bond with my boys over grossness. It's as if they're registering that I'm not really the killjoy I appear to be so much of the time, like yesterday, for example, when I found them at the picnic table on our front porch, attempting to dissect the dead mole our other cat had dropped on our front walk a few days ago by pressing the very dull blade of a Swiss Army knife into its middle, and wouldn't allow it.

Today, we all laughed together, and I was a cool mom once again.

And then I farted on Levi's head!!!!

Oh, wait. Wrong audience. I didn't really do that. Never mind.

Monday, April 21, 2008

like a river

A few weeks ago, I was in my local photo developing shop picking up some prints for a friend whose daughter I had recently photographed. Per her request, I had ordered a whole mess of 4 x 6's and one 5 x 7 enlargement. The guy behind the counter handed me a standard envelope.

"But there was supposed to be an enlargement," I said.

"It's in there," he said. "The 5 x 7's fit into that envelope."

Sure enough, they had filled the order exactly as I had asked. I found the 5 x 7 at the back and slid it out.

"Uh-oh," I said. "I probably should have done a better job cleaning up the boogers under her nose."

The owner, who was also behind the counter but had been busy with some paperwork up to this point, looked up and said, "Ah, so you found something else to worry about."

"Yeah, that's pretty much my m.o.," I said.

"You've got that rolling angst, then?"

Indeed, I do, thanks to some combination of genetics and the kind of upbringing you get when your mom is a Holocaust survivor who, when you call her on a Labor Day drive from Nashville to Asheville and there's not a cloud in the sky nor a single other car on the road, answers the phone like this: "Where are you stuck?"

I've managed to get by with this outlook, but long-term it's not exactly working for me. And, unlike my mom, I do know there's more to life than worry.

I'm working on it; really, I am. In the meantime, though, I found it strangely comforting that this guy could have sized me up after about 30 seconds of observation. And also? I loved that he gave my, um, condition such a wonderful name. Rolling angst. Drafters of the DSM-V, please take note.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

and then I told her she could get her own goddamn breakfast

This morning Lilah woke me up at 6:30.

"Mommy," she said, trying to locate me in the bed. (We sleep together on a couple of side-by-side futons, so it's easy for her to lose me--except on those nights when she decides she has to sleep right the fuck on top of me.) "Mommy, I want to eat. All right?"

6:30 is about two hours too early in my book, but there's never any hope of getting that girl back to sleep. And uncharacteristically, I didn't want to disturb Stupid Daddy, who had gotten home exceedingly late last night and was sleeping in the boys' room, as he has been for the past few weeks, in an attempt to train Levi to stay in his own bed. So I dutifully said, "All right," crawled off the bed, and scooped her up in my arms.

I was seriously fucking tired, and pissed off about the early wakeup, but then Lilah leaned her head into my neck and started sucking her thumb and I held her like that for a while. It was one of those times where the sacrifices I make as a mother--the lost sleep, the lost figure, the lost identity, all of it--seem totally worth it for a simple, quiet moment like this.

I guess she didn't quite feel the same.

She looked up at me, and in a sweet, soft voice, she said, "I love Daddy."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

watching too much Project Runway

In the car on the way to Target this afternoon, I told Ezra that earlier, I had to call a locksmith because I was locked out of our house. (Our cleaning people actually locked the back door on their way out, and since we never lock it except at night--please, Internet, don't come steal our stuff--we don't even own a key.)

I explained to him that the locksmith had a bag of special tools, and he had to spray some WD-40 first to get the parts working smoothly, and then he used a tool that looked like a pin, and then a tool that looked like a nail file, and he jiggled the one, and twisted the other, and he was fast and he was a pro and within a minute or two, the door swung open, and he said, "Welcome home."

"Not interesting!" Ezra decreed. And then, after a couple of beats, kind of coyly: "What outfit was he wearing?"

****
Edited to add: My husband has just informed me that keys for both the front and back doors are on my car key chain. So: Oops! That right there wasn't the best use of fifty bucks.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I just--

Grrssfkdjalsdfj. You know? That's just how I feel tonight. Just: everything is serious suck. On the inside. On the outside everything is same as always, which is, objectively, nothing to complain about. Oh, except our Internet connection keeps going bye-bye. And there is that hangnail on my right middle finger.

And speaking of middle fingers: fuck.

And speaking of going bye-bye: I don't want to disappear like I did last month, so basically I'm showing up to say I have nothing to say.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

earning their keep

True, Lilah takes an hour to get to sleep every night, and, yes, Ramona often wakes us up at five in the morning because she's hungry but won't eat until one of us shakes her bowl to "freshen" the kibble. In short, it is a fact that they are annoying as hell, these two.

But then Ramona will get right in there behind Lilah in the bed and go to sleep, and Lilah--in her sleep--will fling her arm across Ramona's back, and they will stay snuggled together like this for much of the night, and just when we're on the cusp of getting rid of them, it'll all of a sudden seem like maybe they're worth keeping around.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I never should have taken that hit of acid

Last week, I started going to acupuncture to get Stupid Daddy off my back per my husband's thoughtful recommendation to see if I could get the anxiety and depression I've been dealing with my entire adult life--and especially lately--under control.

I tried acupuncture once before, when I was in my twenties, and didn't notice a lick of difference. (I've also tried a whole mess of other alternative stuff too--like reiki, holotropic breathwork, a vision quest, a shaman--and felt the same, even though I desperately wanted something to happen.) Still, I've never categorically written off the treatment; I just assumed I was one of those people it didn't work for.

But something's happening this time. Like today, I was lying on my stomach with a whole mess of needles in my back, peering through the hole those tables have so your spine can stay aligned. And all of a sudden, the view to the base of the table and the floor below telescoped, and I was floating way high above the table, and I was dying. I WAS DYING! And I was weeping because I was really sad that I wasn't going to see my family ever again. Stop it! It was really fucking sad.

And then, just like that, everything was back to normal again. I dozed and then they woke me up and I paid, which woke me up a bit more, but I've been spacey all day.

So I don't know what it all means, but I'm encouraged. Because I'm someone who has never ever left the ground, you know? Never left reality. My stagnant liver qi must be getting worked over. My yin and my yang must be working it out. This crazy needle shit must be working.

Monday, April 7, 2008

already proud of her girl parts

Lilah: Ezra have a penis?

Me: Yup.

Lilah: Daddy have a penis?

Me: Yes, he does.

Lilah: You have a penis, Mommy?

Me: No, I don't have a penis.

Lilah: Oh. I have a penis?

Me: No, you don't have a penis.

Lilah [face brightening]: I have a rash!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

married almost seven years

Him: You wanna have sex tonight?

Me: My eye hurts.

Friday, April 4, 2008

in very poor taste

Me: So [my second cousin] Nate is off to play baseball with a German league for the next six months.

Stupiddaddy [pouring some honey on his challah]: Wow. Cool.

Me: Yeah. Marcia [his mom] said she has mixed feelings about him playing for Germany. Can you believe it? I mean, what are these people still holding against Germany?

Stupiddaddy: Seriously. It's 2008, folks. But can you imagine--your mom must be aghast.

Me: Yeah.

[pause]

Stupiddaddy: Hey--get it? Aghast? A-gassed?

[hysterical laughter]

Thursday, April 3, 2008

not exactly what I had in mind

Levi eats his hot dogs plain--no bun, no relish, no ketchup. After serving him one the other night, per his request, I realized how pathetic and unbalanced it looked rolling around alone on his red plate. Sure, it was an organic beef hot dog--not the bad-for-you kind--and sure, I have incredibly low standards for dinner on the nights that Stupid Daddy is away in Georgia, but still: a kid needs more than that to make a meal.

"Levi," I said, "what are you going to eat for dinner besides a hot dog?"

There was a long pause while he chomped down and chewed.

"Another hot dog."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

lies their mama told them

Levi is very excited about the prospect of turning five in July--although that might as well be the next century as far as he's concerned. Levi also has this annoying habit of climbing into bed with us every single night and then digging his feet under my back (no matter how warmly he's dressed), heaving himself on top of Stupid Daddy, and just generally fucking up our sleep.

So last week I decided to tell him that he couldn't turn five until he stayed in his own bed. And he totally fell for it! But he still gets into bed with us every night.

And lately, both boys have been asking me to feel how strong they are. Ezra actually flexes his biceps, but Levi just holds his arms in that position and I have to pretend that what I'm squeezing doesn't feel like cottage cheese. And they talk a lot about how eating good foods makes you stronger, and how exercise makes you stronger, and drinking milk makes you stronger--some propaganda campaign they're getting at their schools, I guess.

Tonight in the bath, after a very challenging hour of getting them home and fed, they started up with the muscle routine again: "Feel how strong I am, Mommy," and, "Feel this muscle!"

In a moment of inspiration, and with a knowing twinkle in my eye, I told them, "Did you guys know that following my instructions helps your muscles grow? Yup, it's true. Every time you pay attention and do what you're told, your muscles get a little bit stronger."

And they kind of looked at me like, Huh, okay, good to know. But getting them out of the bath and dressed and into bed wasn't the slightest bit easier.

So, in sum, honesty may be the best policy after all. Combined with a good spanking.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

bye-bye, y'all

Can I just say how much I love these two?


We got to hang out for a while on Sunday, and a little bit last night, and then again this afternoon, and I laughed my ass off for most of it. At the very least, I was smiling.

Tomorrow--already!--they're off, with their two big dogs, and their Nalgene bottles tucked away in exactly the right spot if Tex has anything to say about it, on their 12-hour drive back to Madison, where I think it's probably snowing again, and where they will--I'm certain of it--immediately begin plotting their move to Asheville so they can be closer to me.

Monday, March 31, 2008

stop looking at me like that

What? So I haven't blogged in a while. Get off my back. I feel guilty enough already about it. So just shut up.

There was this wee stretch a few weeks ago where I just needed a break. And then I kind of wanted to start again but it seemed so much time had passed that if I were to blog again, it was going to have to be a five-star, comeback post. And there was nothing really five-star-y going on.

Plus I've been working feverishly on a certain business thing with Stupid Daddy, which I can't talk about. I know that makes it sound super-exciting--like, Well, shit; that would be five-star-y, if only she could discuss!--but it's not. I mean, it's definitely really exciting to us, but as far as business things go, it's pretty regular. Anyway, it may or may not come to fruition, but in the meantime it's sucking most of my brain power.

Oh, yeah. There was my mini-breakdown. That kind of put a damper on things too. Now I'm taking lots and lots of giant fish oil capsules daily. I'm still an anxious mess, but I've noticed that my skin is a lot smoother when I obsessively drag my fingertips across my face to see if I've got any new zits developing to rival that one that took over my life not too long ago.

And that about explains my absence from these parts. But it does feel nice to be back.

Otherwise, life continues. This morning Levi hung a rubber bunny finger puppet on his nose and said, "Hi! I'm Funny the Face!" and I just about fell on the floor I was laughing so hard. (Maybe you had to be there?) And last week I spent three hours in the ER with Ezra, who flipped off his Plasmacar, slammed into a wall, and had to get two staples in his head.

And last night Stupid Daddy and I had dinner with Alyssa and her beau, Tex, and her friend Katie. Tex is a friend of ours from a few years ago when we lived in Nashville, but I'd never met Alyssa before, nor Katie, who lives here in Asheville. They are two of the most charming young women I've ever come across across whom I've ever come I've ever come across, even though one of them is a little uptight about the placement of people's prepositions.

I say "young women" because if last night taught me anything other than that a mojito is an excellent drink, it's that I'm old. It was Alyssa's 28th birthday, and at the end of the meal, the waiter brought out a cake that Katie had baked. A woman at another table came up to say that it was her birthday too, and Alyssa asked how old she was.

"Thirty-five," the woman said.

"What?!" Alyssa and Katie practically screamed. And then they were all, Oh, you so don't look 35! and, I never would have guessed it! and, No way!

Seriously, they were like falling all over themselves to reassure her. And the whole time, I was just sitting there thinking, My god! What the hell is wrong with looking 35?

So, yeah. Hi.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Oedipal complex alive and well

Ezra: Daddy's going away again?

Me: I know, I hate it too. I love Daddy very much.

Ezra: Because you're married.

Me: Hey, but I also love you...and we're not married!

Ezra: That's because I'm not old enough.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

some news on the growth front, and I'm not talking about that zit on my chin

The last time we saw the pediatric endocrinologist for Ezra's growth delay (which I also wrote about here), she said the next step was to schedule a growth hormone stimulation test. But then she left Asheville and we had to find a doctor somewhere else and schedule a consultation, since doctors don't just pick up where someone else left off.

I bitched a lot about having to drive two hours to Winston-Salem, which is where the doctor we chose more or less randomly is located, and having to start all over again with somebody new (because as much as I dreaded the stim test, I also wanted to get the ball rolling). But holy shit, am I glad now!

First off, this new guy said that at this point, we should do nothing more than continue to monitor Ezra's growth carefully. Based on the fact that he is still trucking along in the 3rd percentile, and the fact that everyone on my side of the family is short, and the fact that my mother and I were both very late in reaching puberty, it's probable that he's just a late bloomer with the genes for being kinda short, and at some point, he'll catapult back into the 25th percentile and be as tall as my dad, who was 5'7".

(My god, that's fucking short! But it's fine, really, because my kid is all kinds of awesome. And if he were all that and six feet tall, he'd probably be an asshole.)

The doc also suggested we stop giving Ezra Synthroid for a couple of months and then re-check his thyroid levels, because he wasn't especially disturbed by the initial bloodwork and there had been no other symptoms.

The very same data that had made Doctor #1 say we were probably going to be looking at nightly growth hormone injections for the next ten years made Doctor #2 say let's wait and see (and also, by the way, the hellacious stimulation test she was recommending is no longer considered all that reliable!); the very same data that had made Doctor #1 say definitively that Ezra had an autoimmune thyroid disorder and would have to be taking a pill every morning for the rest of his life made Doctor #2 say maybe, maybe not.

Perhaps I'm inclined to believe this guy because he had better news. But I equate pessimism with realism and assume optimists* are idiots. So that's not it. I just had this gut sense that he is the more attuned, more experienced doctor.

Which is totally scary, right? We would have just continued ahead on that course prescribed by Doctor #1. She may end up having been right, but at least now we'll find out for sure.

Anyway, since the appointment was first thing Monday morning, Ezra and I drove there Sunday evening and stayed in a hotel, which had to have been the highlight of his entire year.



He ate dinner in the hotel restaurant and was oblivious to its disgustingness. He loved tearing up and down the halls, opening the door to our room, riding the elevator. He got to eat crackers in bed while watching cartoons way past his bedtime. He got to spend time alone with me. I don't think he stopped smiling.

Oh, except when he sampled a lemon at dinner.



*except Barack Obama

Monday, March 10, 2008

this was supposed to stop happening when the gray hairs arrived

How was my weekend? Thanks for asking. It was all right, I guess. I spent most of it tending to this:


What's that? You can't see it very well? Okay; maybe this will help:


This zit was so big, and so really in there, that I actually had to forgo my usual stomach-lying sleeping position because of the pain, what with the very soft pillow just jamming into it.

But I'm happy to report that after three days of totally living it up on my chin like some obnoxious, hotel room-trashing supermodel, the zit appears to be losing some of its oomph. I should be able to go out in public without my burka in no time.

Friday, March 7, 2008

a meme has come my way

The totally awesome Tina Rowley of Gallivanting Monkey has tagged me with the following meme.

1. I can’t believe I’ve never…
If my 40th birthday hadn't happened this February 1, I would have said, "I can't believe I've never had a shot." Because it was true! I had drunk myself silly on plenty of occasions, but I'd never actually done a shot of anything. Stupid Daddy fixed things that night, first ordering a shot of Patron, and then ordering me to drink it. I can't say how it went down, because I don't really remember anything after that point.

And now that that's happened, there's really nothing I can't believe I've never done. That I can think of right now. Oh. I can't believe I've never just fainted from the overwhelming love I feel for my kids when they're not being total assholes. Also, I can't believe I've never watched American Idol.

2. Every time I think about … I still cringe.
Oh, my god. Where to begin? I know! Every time I think about my Bat Mitzvah I still cringe. It was seventh grade, and I had just switched to a high-pressured, snooty, cliquey, rich kids' school, and even though the Bat Mitzvah was at the end of the school year, I still hadn't made any friends, in part because I had a stupid bookbag and didn't have pierced ears, let alone feather earrings, or Fiorucci jeans, or a Norma Kamali skirt, or those white Nikes with the red stripe and laces with tennis rackets on them. There were other reasons as well, I'm sure, but those were the ones I could identify.

And so my mom said, "Invite the kids you want to be friends with." I invited maybe 20 of the most popular girls (who, of course, blech!, I see that now), and a few of the boys who hung out with them. Amazingly, most of them actually attended. And I got a whole bunch of Lacoste shirts and Benetton sweaters as gifts, but I still had nothing to say to these kids, nor they to me, when Monday morning came.

3. I wish I’d …when I had the chance.
I wish I'd fucked all, or perhaps most of, those guys who apparently wanted to fuck me in college when my head was so far up my ass that I had no idea they were into me. It just would be nice to have lost my virginity a wee bit earlier than 22. And it would have been lots of fun.

Also, I wish I'd let my parents give me Helen Levitt print as a graduation present. I had written my senior thesis on her and they offered to buy me a print of my choosing, but like an idiot, I said, "No, no. My education was enough of a gift." Soon after, someone rediscovered her, and her prices spiked. A nicely framed Helen Levitt print sure would have looked awesome right over our sofa.

4. I’ve never felt so out of place as when I…
Actually, I feel out of place so often that I almost feel out of place when I don't feel out of place. But just off the top of my head, it happens every day I drop off Lilah and Levi at preschool. Basically, I'm really glad I've managed to brush my teeth, and there I am smiling and saying hi to a whole bunch of perfectly dressed, perfectly coiffed, perfectly made up doctor ladies and lawyer ladies on the way to their doctor and lawyer jobs.

5. … is my guiltiest pleasure.
Uh, that would be Snickers.

6. I hope … knows how grateful I am for …
I hope Joel knows how grateful I am for his friendship. I met him about 12 years ago when I was living in Cambridge. We dated for a few weeks, gave that up, and became best friends. He and I hung with each other through all kinds of shit. Okay, mostly, it was him hanging with me through my shit. But still. We talked about everything, for hours. He got married at the ripe old age of 43 last year, and his wife has not been too happy about our relationship, so we've drifted apart. I miss him.

7. In my darkest hours, I secretly blame … for my dysfunction.
I blame my mom, but not so secretly.

8. … changed my life forever.
Stupid Daddy changed my life forever. Without him, I never would have:
--gone on a vision quest;
--moved into a falling apart shithole shack in Vermont;
--learned how to use power tools;
--experienced extreme financial instability;
--enjoyed the company of someone who made me laugh so hard, and with such frequency, I had to start a notebook documenting the hilarity;
--been pushed and prodded into taking risks and figuring some basic shit out (though I'm still struggling with the rest of it)

Who do I tag? I tag you, Alyssa, again, because I love you and your boyfriend, and because you're doing lists anyway, although this isn't really a list per se, now that I think about it. (And I know you're just cringing because I didn't write, Whom do I tag?) And I tag you, Sara, because hi!, and I want to hear what you have to say. And I tag you, zen, just because.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

inching towards maturity

The other morning I was browsing the produce aisles at the local grocery store when I spied a pile of cucumbers. Ah, cucumbers, I thought. You most benign of green vegetables. Perhaps it's time to give you a try again with the kids and help them expand their repertoire beyond the occasional broccoli floret.

So I reached for a cuke, but it was the wrong cuke to reach for, because it sent part of the pile tumbling. In a total spazz-out moment, I lurched to grab the falling veggies with my right hand and at the same time inadvertently squeezed the mocha I was holding in my left hand so that there was a little frothy explosion out the lid and then a spray of hot beverage on the celery stalks below.

I found the produce guy farther down the aisle and said, "Excuse me, I'm really sorry but I somehow managed to create a little spill over by the celery and I just wanted to let you know...."

He looked at me. "It's probably not a good idea to hold your drink over the produce," he said. And then he turned back to stocking the shelves.

The old me would have said, "Excuse me?" or, "Well you're in a bad mood today, aren't you?" or, "Are you always this rude to customers?" The old me would have wanted to get into a fight.

But the new me just walked away from him--and then promptly found a manager to report him to.

Now, the ideal me would have brushed off his remark and gone on with my day. But still, this is progress. Right?

Monday, March 3, 2008

the one thing preventing me from controlling the universe

In the car on the way to school this morning:

Lilah: Sun in my EYES!!!!!

Me [exhausted, fed up with kids, just completed a weekend alone with them, husband away for five days]: Lilah, what do you want me to do about it? If it's bothering you, close your eyes or turn your head. I can't move the sun.

Levi: Yeah. Because cars can't fly.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

sleepy

Last night I was ready to pass out by 9:30--no, not because of alcohol; it's just been a very tiring week--but instead I stayed awake, wandering around the Internet, too exhausted to take any of it in, not really finding anything interesting anyway. (Seriously, have you ever noticed how boring the Internet is? I don't know what all the fuss is about.)

I do this a lot--stay awake for the sake of staying awake, with this vague feeling of just in case: just in case I come up with some brilliant idea, or something amazing happens--when I'd be much better off getting a head start on what will invariably be a rocky night of sleep. (Thanks, kids!)

But this time around, I really don't know what I was thinking. I mean, I had already mopped the kitchen floor. What more could I possibly have expected from my Friday night?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

self-portrait during first pregnancy


I drew this for Stupid Daddy in an attempt to convey my experience, late in the game, when I felt like a giant bubble, with all the curves just melding into one.

The truth is, I loved being pregnant, all three times. I even loved the terrible parts.

We saved this sketch all these years and uncovered it recently. I guess I'm feeling a little nostalgic now. Ezra turned six a few weeks ago.

I miss those days, when this little thing I didn't know was growing inside. I miss that sense of endless possibility and potential. And heartburn. And oh, the leukorrea....

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I think I'll take the ferry, thanks

Levi: Why do paper boats not float?

Me: Well--

Ezra: I'll explain it to you!

Me: [sigh of relief]

Ezra: It's because the paper is so light and the water is so heavy and the water just pushes into the boat really hard, like woooosh, and then the boat sinks down.

Levi: Oh.

Me: [That explanation will do just fine for these purposes.]

Ezra: But you could tape some metal to the bottom of it and then it would float really good.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

kids really use their imaginayshuns!

Yesterday Levi and Lilah came with me to pick up Ezra, and because the weather was so glorious, we decided to hang out on the grounds of the church across the street from school. Lilah stayed close to me, climbing up and down steps, while the boys went off on their own, to be joined, moments later, by another kindergarten boy. For an hour, the three of them explored the area, sneaking along the narrow path between the brick building and the surrounding hedge, running up and down the ramp to the basement, charging across the lawn, jumping off the stone wall--all of it with a sense of incredible urgency.

I wasn't close enough to hear exactly what they were talking about. But there was a lot of "Come on, guys!" and, "This way!" and, "Hurry!" I'm sure there were bad guys involved.

Watching them transform a bunch of buildings and some grass into this magical world, I remembered that there was a hedge bordering our yard in the house where I grew up, and that there was this one bush that created a low canopy I could crawl under. I spent so much time there when I was little, feeling the dried out dirt underneath me, peering out onto our lawn even though nothing was happening, just enjoying the feeling of being hidden in that special space.

It hurt a little, to be so far outside that experience now--that sense of wonder. I wish I could have been truly shocked when Ezra informed me that they found a way to make it all the way around one of the adjoining buildings. I wish I could have had no idea what time it was. I wish I could have looked at the cement walkway and seen a river, teeming with alligators, or a stream of lava, glowing and red-hot.

Monday, February 25, 2008

blank

I try not to let more than a weekend pass between posts, you guys. I know how much I matter to you; I know how your coffee/wine/chocolate milk just doesn't taste the same when you're not spewing some of it on your monitor because of me. Me! And my words!

So I've been sitting here for the last half hour--when, given what a fucked up night last night was, what with the musical beds, and the nightmares, and the kicks to my gut from various bedfellows, and the cats thundering around the room in hot pursuit of each other (though it wasn't really too much worse than any other night around here), it's quite obvious I should have gone to bed an hour ago--trying to come up with something.

And yet, I'm at a complete loss. I'll make sure that tomorrow, something really blog-worthy happens, or is uttered by one of my kids, or occurs to me in a moment of insight. And whatever it is, you'll be the first to know about it, I promise.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

nighttime haiku for Miss Lilah-boo

You're very cute, yes.
But it's nine o'clock, so please
Get the fuck to sleep.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

kindergarten semiotics

Have I ever told you about baby puppy? It's a game where Ezra is always the mama and Levi is always the baby, and neither of them does anything remotely dog-like. In fact, neither of them really does anything. Mostly it's a game about establishing the rules to the game.

Ezra will say, "Let's pretend you were afraid of the dark and so I had to hold your hand."

And Levi will say, "Yeah, and let's pretend I wanted something to eat but didn't know how to feed myself yet."

And Ezra will say, "Right. And you were thirsty too."

And Levi will say, "Yeah, and I only liked milk. From a sippy cup."

And on and on it goes.

So the other morning they were playing baby puppy, and Levi pointed to his panda bear and said, "And let's pretend I was trying to get my bear to talk to me."

Ignoring the premise of the game--the premise, again, being that you are never supposed to get around to playing the game--Ezra said, in as maternal a voice as he could muster, "That bear doesn't talk, Baby. It's just a symbol."

And then they took a break to read Roland Barthes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

talk about a vicious cycle

On a trip to Target a few months ago, Stupid Daddy discovered you could buy all manner of quality and even organic cereals for a lot less than what the local upscale grocery store charges. So, even though he goes there like once a week, he bought about 25 boxes. You know, just in case Target suddenly closed because it couldn't draw in enough business.

A strange thing happened once all the pantry shelves were so prettily lined with cereal boxes. I started eating lots of cereal--way more than any woman in my advanced age and with my resulting compromised metabolism should be eating. And then, when the cereal supply began to dwindle, Stupid Daddy would return from his next Target trip with a whole new assortment. I told him he needed to stop.

"Stop!" I said.

"I keep buying it because you keep eating it!" he said.

"I keep eating it because you keep buying it!" I said.

Boy, were we ever at a standstill. And now here I sit working my way through yet another bowl of granola.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

a FUNdraiser, it turns out, and by the way, I do feel like Michael Scott saying that

So we've just returned from a fundraising event for Levi's and Lilah's (and what used to be Ezra's) preschool. We never go to fundraising events, mainly because we're really greedy and hate supporting worthy causes, but also because my husband is not a doctor and I'm not that type of boisterous, bejeweled wife who is a regular at those fundraising events we never go to but somehow know everything about.

But someone offered us a ticket, so we only had to pay for one "head," and since I turned 40, I'm all about paying my preconceived notions no mind. So we decided to go. And before we knew it, we were rubbing elbows with doctors and boisterous, bejeweled wives.

It was fun, actually. We got a tiny bit dressed up and our kids were elsewhere and we smooched a little bit at the bar. I do wish I had had an appetite then, when there was pan-seared, thinly sliced tuna to be had, and not now, as I finish off the kids' Spiderman and Dora Valentine's chocolates. But you can't have everything.

Anyway, there was a silent auction, and unbeknownst to me, Stupid Daddy did some bidding. Thanks to his efforts, we are now the proud owners of this:


Yes, that's right, the fancy margarita mix and the two glasses, and I know you are totally jealous over how hooked up we are. But maybe we'll host a fundraiser of our own. And maybe, just maybe, you'll be invited.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

feeling the love, on Valentine's Eve

As I was getting back into the car after a yoga class at the Y this morning, I noticed there was a note on my windshield. I immediately began to wonder who the fuck had the balls to write some obnoxious commentary on my behavior, and also what the fuck I had done to piss anyone off. (This yoga, I'm telling you, it does wonders for putting me in a tranquil state of mind.)

But boy was I ever off base. Here was the note:


He/she was referring to this bumper sticker, which we have on our car (right next to this one).

Whoever you are, thank you for thanking me. You pretty much made my day.

shout out

I gots nothin' to say tonight, so let me direct you to another blog I just discovered a couple of months ago. This woman amazes me: she is hilarious and thoughtful and passionate and humble and always willing to take risks (you know, the good kind). I admire her muchly.

Here, gallivant your way over and see. (But please do come back to visit me every now and again.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

how disgusting are we?

Right now my husband is drinking yoga while I do a glass of red wine. Oh, wait. (I actually did get as far as the "while" before realizing something was amiss.)

Right. So. My husband is doing yoga while I drink a glass of red whine. Oh, wait.

He's doing yoga and I'm enjoying a glass of red wine. When he's finished, we'll share a salad made of organic, locally grown greens. After that, we're going to drink chai lattes and put our precious heads together to decide which cotton sheets we should order from West Elm. And then, we are going to "make love."

Actually, not all of that is true. But enough of it is true that I feel disgusted enough to want to take a shower. (In my slate-tiled shower, the one with the brushed nickel rainshower shower head.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

fyi

I'm pretty certain the answer is "c."

Worst. Weekend. Ever. (And I hate when people break up their sentences with periods, so believe me when I tell you: it was bad.)

Friday, February 8, 2008

have I mentioned that I'm Jewish?

This marks the fourth evening in a row that I have handled all three kids and put them to bed solo while Stupid Daddy is away at his Stupid Conference. I have to say, things have gone very well--far, far better than any other stretch in which I've parented by myself.

Some theories:
a) The boys have reached a point developmentally where they're not especially interested in fighting my every instruction and fighting each other to the death;
b) I've figured out how to drink just enough wine that I can tolerate their obnoxiousness in the evenings without feeling like shit the next morning (and believe me, if you saw just how many times I've had to retype every single word I've written so far, you'd put your money on this one);
c) because I'm Jewish, I can't leave well enough alone and have to talk about my good fortune on the Internet, knowing (because I'm Jewish) that all it takes is sharing my good fortune with the Internet to ensure that, as punishment, tomorrow will totally suck.

have I mentioned that I

don't know how to delete a post that I accidentally published?

What is wrong with me?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

toddlers today

Lilah has a little friend named Sammy, whom she has known, from preschool, since infancy. Long before babies are supposed to have preferences for who they drool on and squeal at and sit next to at snack time, these two were clearly delighting in each other's company.

Neither has ever looked back. Now, almost two years later, they call out to each other on the playground, gleefully chase each other around our house, giggle when the other one gives them that special look. They really are in love.

But apparently, they really are in love. Moments ago, I was lying next to Lilah trying to get her to sleep. I rubbed her tummy; I sang her a lullaby. But her mind was on other things. She kept patting the empty space on the other side of her and saying, "I want Sammy, right here."

Just last night, it was her dolly she was calling for. Tonight, it was Sammy. First thing tomorrow, I'm going to find out whether they make diapers with a built-in chastity belt. Meantime, Stupid Daddy is loading his shotgun.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

stands by her man

When Lilah was first born, it seemed that Ezra was going to be the brother who had a strong and abiding connection to her. He cuddled her, she cooed at him, he dangled colorful toys in front of her face. Whereas Levi--well, the day after she came home from the hospital, Levi knocked her out of her swing onto the hardwood floor, and that pretty much summed up their relationship.

Ah, but once Ezra started kindergarten, the tides turned. These days, Lilah is more or less indifferent to Ezra (and he to her), while she and Levi are completely in sync. They play together, they share their snacks, they egg each other on and get in trouble together. And yet, because she's so much younger, it's not exactly a partnership. Levi can treat her well but just as easily act cruel. Lilah, on the other hand, is downright worshipful.

A few months ago I took the two of them on a walk at a nearby lake. Levi, ever the explorer, kept venturing out towards the water on logs and boulders. Every time he did, Lilah started crying. "Be-bi, come back!" she'd scream. "Be-bi, careful!" And she wouldn't stop until he was back on solid ground. I wasn't worried at all, but she was absolutely panicked.

Yesterday the boys were wrestling on the couch, and all of a sudden Ezra started crying. It was obvious that Levi had done something to hurt him. But before I could launch into my generally ineffectual diatribe about playing nicely/apologizing/not being a bozo, Lilah, who was sitting at the dining room table, pointed in their direction and said, "Ezra hurt Be-bi too."

This morning, Lilah asked to help pick out Levi's clothing. When I opened up the shirt drawer, she said, "Spiderman shirt? Spiderman shirt?" It's Levi's favorite, and he would wear it every day if he could. When we found it, Lilah grinned very broadly. She knew her brother would be happy.

Hysterically nagging him, reflexively defending his honor, lovingly picking out his clothing in the morning: she's going to make an awesome housewife someday.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

a game with its own liabilities

For the last few days, the boys have been in an intense wild cat phase. Yesterday morning at home they were leopards, chasing and clawing and hunting prey. Yesterday evening at the mall they were cheetahs, chasing and clawing and hunting prey. Tonight before bed they were tigers, chasing and clawing and hunting prey.

They are forever trying to rope me into these games. Sometimes I'm told I'm the mama cat, in which case I'm supposed to teach them how to chase and claw and hunt prey. Sometimes I'm told I'm the prey, in which case I'm supposed to run screaming and then allow myself to be captured and clawed at and nibbled on.

Overall, it's not so much fun for me, though I wish I could tell you otherwise. There's only so much energy I have left over for this kind of play, and if I kept at it, something bad might happen to my 40-year-old body, like getting really tired.

Because Ezra is the older of the two, he's the decider in this as in most things. He chooses the roles and the rules and generally bosses everyone around. But separate from that, he's more committed to these fantasies in the first place, whereas Levi is happy to play tiger but just as happy to abandon the hunt for prey and hop onto the bike with training wheels that's currently indoors ruining our newly finished floors.

So tonight, when I was tucking Ezra into bed, feeling bad that I don't play tiger as well as I'd like, I said, "Good night, my tiger." And I kissed him.

"I'm not playing tiger anymore," he said. "I'm playing your son."

Monday, February 4, 2008

a reconciliation with 40 that doesn't even last the duration of this post

My 40th birthday kicked ass and included an excellent, decadent dinner, some interesting drinks, and a small party with some good friends.

It was so much fun that I don't really feel bad about getting old right at the moment, though it was kind of depressing that with the combination of (a little bit of) drinking and staying up (slightly) late, Stupid Daddy and I had to spend the entire next day trading off naps until it was bedtime.

I'm going to keep it short tonight because Stupid Daddy just moments ago left for a conference and won't be back until Saturday night, and I think I'm suffering from some anticipatory exhaustion.

Either that or I still haven't recovered from Friday. In which case, shit, I really am old.

Friday, February 1, 2008

birthday conversation

"Am I ever going to get over the shock of turning 40?"

"The shock, yes. The reality, no."

"What do you mean?"

"It just changes your perspective. You start thinking in terms of how many years you have left."

"I've been doing that since I turned 30. But do you mean in a good way, like, I don't have a lot of time so I better really go for it? Or in a bad way, like, Shit, I'm never going to accomplish all that I wanted to."

"Both. I'm definitely more aware of how I spend my time and use my days. But I used to think that I had something great to give to the world--"

"Yeah, me too."

"--but now I just figure if I raise three healthy kids and have a happy marriage, I've succeeded."

"I wish I could lower my standards like that."

Thursday, January 31, 2008

um, what?

As I've mentioned a time or ten before, Iris has been banned from our house because of that thing we do where we feed kids a balanced diet and laugh with them and demonstrate love and in so doing brainwash them into being normal and healthy. Still, we see her many times a day. She comes over on her way home from the bus stop; she comes over when she's out looking the three pieces of random trash her crazy mother insists she collect every afternoon; she comes over when it's time to take out the compost after dinner; she comes over on her way back.

That she has managed these nighttime visits is perplexing to me. At 10:02 on the morning after Iris slept at Pixie and Ava's, Sonia called their dad complaining that Iris was supposed to have been sent home at 10:00 and why wasn't he honoring that. She also grounded Iris for an entire Sunday because she forgot her vest at another friend's house and had to go back and get it around the corner, thus throwing them off schedule by about 45 seconds. And yet somehow, Sonia doesn't seem to notice when a trip out back that should take two minutes regularly takes 20, because Iris is at our house eating our leftovers and watching TV.

Perhaps because she gets away with all of this, Iris has gotten bolder about her visits in recent weeks. For example, on afternoons when she has finished her chores and not been grounded for one reason or another, she'll tell her mother she's going over to somebody else's house but secretly come over here to play with our kids (and whatever other kids happen to be here) for a couple of hours. And she'll come over, too, on evenings when Sonia goes to Qi Gong to maintain her enlightened and loving state and has left Iris behind (which, in her mind, is perfectly acceptable now that Iris has a cellphone, courtesy of her grandmother).

One afternoon earlier this week, she came over thinking Sonia had gone for a walk. But the doorbell rang a few minutes later, and there was Sonia looking for her daughter. So Iris was busted. And grounded.

And then that evening, she came over to deliver this note:

Deb and Alex,

Iris told me that from time to time she decides to visit your home after school. Shall the situation occur again please ask and send her home right away. Thank you.
Namaste,
Sonia

But then Sonia apparently thought about it some more and realized the note lacked the appropriate nuance, because today Iris came over with this:

Deb and Alex,
Iris has informed me that in the past you have had knowledge that she does not have permission to be over. I need to please have things honored when it comes to Iris. Thank you.
Namaste,
Sonia
P.S. At this point I believe it is okay for her to occasionally come over. Once again I need honesty when it comes to Iris and when I make a choice about Iris for it to be honored. Iris does however need to come home after school. Thank you.

Yeah, okay. We'll get right on that.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

cringe along with me, if you please

For a few years in a row when I was in high school, my family went to a resort on St. John for winter break. One year, when I was sixteen, I became smitten with a guy named Roger who was on vacation there with his family. He was tall and handsome and in law school and I didn't have the nerve to talk to him; at that age, I didn't have the nerve to talk to anybody, really.

On New Year's Eve, there was free alcohol all over the place, and because the resort was contained enough, and because I never did anything impulsive or dangerous the way teenagers are supposed to, my parents trusted me to go have fun and stay out till I felt like coming home.

On that New Year's Eve, I drank lots of champagne, and so did Roger, and before I knew it we were making out on the beach, and then, because I was even more smitten after the kissing, I suggested we go for a swim, hoping he would realize that a spirited girl who could make such a suggestion--just totally off the cuff!--was surely a girl worth keeping.

He stripped down to his boxers and dove into the dark waves. As I watched him, I became suddenly stone cold sober, realizing that underneath my fetching, flowery, off-the-shoulder New Year's Eve dress, I was wearing really giant underpants.

Paralyzed, I yelled to him that I was too cold to swim, and after a bit he came out. We kissed good night and walked our separate paths back to our rooms, and I left with my family the next morning.

But the shame and embarrassment of that night didn't stop me from becoming still more smitten with Roger, whose address I got, when we returned home, from my parents, who had grown friendly with his parents over the course of the vacation, and to whom I wrote a letter professing my undying love for him.

Instead of blowing me off for the lunatic child that I was, he actually wrote back. I think I had some sense even then that this gesture was gracious beyond measure, even though all the letter did was dis me.

My mom visited last week and brought with her a manila envelope full of random things I had saved from that period of my life--postcards and photographs and matchbooks, and also the letter from Roger.

Part of it says this:

I thought I should write you. I won't even frame this as a response to your icky January note. You must have long since concluded that my silence was the only response you could expect.

I can't say I actually blocked out the Roger episode from my memory, but I also haven't thought about it in the intervening nearly 25 years either. I'm really glad I saved his note and have had a chance to review it now and allow all the painful details to come back to me with such clarity. I was starting to get just a wee bit full of myself, and it's helped knock me back down to size.

Monday, January 28, 2008

the way of the peaceful warrior

Ezra came home last Friday with a red plastic recorder that he had "bought" at the class store with points he had earned over the course of the week for good behavior. After wowing him with my jazzy rendition of "Hot Cross Buns," I handed it back to him and he began trying out various notes.

"I want to earn more money next week so I can get one for Levi, too," he said.

"Oh, Ezra," I began, touched at how thoughtful he was, though in the back of my mind I was also somewhat concerned about how much ibuprofen I would need to tolerate the sound of two little boys playing plastic recorders. "Isn't that so sw--"

"So they can be swords and we can fight with them!"

Friday, January 25, 2008

uber-Jew haiku

(or: Shabbat Shalom, Hey!)

Day of rest; hello?
God had no kids, or he had
a full-time nanny.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

question of the morning

Do I actually have conjunctivitis again, or is this extremely bloodshot look in my eyes merely the result of having been awakened by at least one child well before the crack of dawn every day for the last five days?

Only the three-hour nap I'm about to take will tell....

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

it also hurts when I laugh

There's this mentally retarded young woman I see around town frequently; she works at the grocery store I use most often and also at the Y, where I spend a fair amount of time trying to un-sag my kneecaps. I've never heard her speak; she's usually busy sweeping or mopping or folding laundry, her strawberry blond ponytail swinging as she moves.

Last week I was at the Y taking a class in that self-torture some call Pilates, and she was in the corner of the room folding and stacking yoga blankets. We were all lying on our backs, legs straight up in the air, doing a set of one of Pilates' five thousand variations of a crunch. All of a sudden, this woman said, in the most elegant British accent, "Somebody's farted! Is it you?" And she pointed to some poor woman's bottom at the front of the class, and said, "Yes, it is you!"

She sounded kind of like Terrance and Philip.

Of course we all started chuckling, which in my case--since I am new to Pilates and my abodmen was already so sore it screamed if anyone so much as looked at it--was pretty painful.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

saving it for a rainy day

Over the course of any given day, I expend a lot of energy trying to keep my kids from killing each other; and then I expend a lot of energy complaining about how I have to keep them from killing each other. It's exhausting.

They do fight like crazy; there's no question. But there are also moments of great tenderness between them that I don't recognize as much as I should.

Like the other day at a birthday party, when all the kids were asked to line up, and Ezra and Levi automatically fell into place next to each other, and then without even thinking about it, Ezra put his arm around his brother's shoulder.

Like yesterday morning, when Levi sat down to have some yogurt and Lilah asked for some too, and instead of saying, "This is mine!" Levi offered to feed her some, and they shared the entire container, alternating spoonfuls.

Like today on the way to school, when we were talking about how one of Ezra's teachers calls him "Hot Wheels," and Levi said, "Hey Ezra, how about you be 'Hot' and I be 'Wheels,' okay, Ezra? So we can be a team."

I should stockpile these moments in my head so that when all three of them are clawing at each other all at once--which also happened today--I don't lose my shit. Or at least so I don't lose it all that much.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

letter to the subscriptions department

To Whom It May Concern:

Lilah received her complimentary copy of your magazine in the mail today.

Thank you so much for spelling her name correctly. Not every lad mag does.

She certainly seems to be enjoying it.



However, while the "gift of bocce" may indeed get you into a woman's "backyard" (p. 49), and while "Ring of Fire: An Oral History of the Daytona 500" (p. 92) is most certainly a thoroughly researched piece that brings this "thrilling, violent, whiskey-soaked" contest to life, and while I myself am dying to hear the "original American Gladiators tell all about their crazy days of spandex-clad superstardom" (p. 35), it is my belief that Lilah is a bit too young for these topics and the rest of the content within your highly respected magazine. As her parent and legal guardian, I will have to pass on a subscription.

You might consider trying us again in a few years, once she hits kindergarten.

Sincerely,
Her MILFy superhottie vixen hot-as-a-monkey-in-a-firestorm mom



Friday, January 18, 2008

upcoming

In two weeks I turn 40. I sure haven't been thinking about it at all. Not one bit! I mean, 40--what's the big deal? It's not like it's a milestone birthday or anything like that. It's not like it's the exact dividing number between youth and old age.

I remember when I was in high school, my dad decided he wanted very badly to get a red convertible and--less egregiously in retrospect, though at the time it seemed on a par--a suede jacket. He was closer to 50 then, but even as a kid I understood these impulses had something to do with that whole getting old/wanting to stay young dialectic.

Each of these purchases, and especially the two in combination, would have made him look like the quintessential JAP dad I so despised. You know the one: he's got tassled loafers and a cigar and a wife 15 years his junior, a daughter who wears a Rolex watch, which he gave her for her 16th birthday. Ewww.

Thankfully, I was able to talk my dad off that particular psychosocial ledge. That's because he valued my opinion more than anyone else's; I was kind of his wife. (You can read all about that in my book, which I won't link to because there's already a link over there, in the sidebar I'm modest about my accomplishments.) And that was the extent of his midlife crisis. Really, other than that one little blip, he was very graceful about getting old.

It's difficult to imagine what kind of mid-life crisis might emerge for me in these next couple of years, and how it will manifest. I've been entertaining an obsession with dying for a few years now. I'm already counting my wrinkles; I'm already panicking about the effects of gravity on various body parts. (Oh my god, my kneecaps are a disaster!) Besides, my entire adult life has been a string of crises (identity, faith, career path, hair color); what could I possibly do to top that?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

snow day activity

The snow turned to slush in a hurry and nobody had been especially fired up about going outside in the first place. So we spent a lot of time in our attic doing shit like this:

A bit later, the pants came off, and there were a few rounds of Sumo wrestling. None of it was all that much fun.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

haiku haiku (very meta)

Haiku, I love you
Your taut 5-7-5 frame
Challenging, sexy

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

squandering away the free time haiku

All three kids asleep
by eight: a first. Now what? I'm
lost, not used to this.

Monday, January 14, 2008

secret boyfriend #2

May I present to you...
Evan Dando.

He's the only serious bad boy on my ever-lengthening list, which I know you're dying for me to divulge all at once, in a deluge, a divulgence delugence, if you will (and Blogger, will you just stop it with your annoying perforated red underlines, your meek acceptance of the whole "spelling" paradigm), but I have to hold back because I need you, reader #1 and reader #2, to keep visiting me. I'm lonely.

Speaking of lonely, let's get back to Evan. Just--mmm. I actually met this dude right before he launched into drug-addled stardom. My college friend Ivan, whom I wrote about here, was friends with him in high school, gave the Lemonheads (Evan's first band) their name, and even graced the cover of one of their early albums.

During one of our breaks freshman year, we went to CBGB to see the Lemonheads play, and before the show, Evan came over to say hi to Ivan (which reminds me of that David Letterman bit at the Oscars whatever year that was--"Uma, Oprah," "Oprah, Uma"), and Ivan introduced me, and I was like, "Hi," and then back to staring at the table, because I was too shy and repressed to even pay any attention to the fact that an Adonis was standing right in front of me. Plus I was about ten pounds overweight (which, when you're 5'2", and you're me, is about 10% of your body weight, i.e., a lot) and growing out a really lousy short haircut.

Which sucks, because I'm sure if I had held his gaze for any length of time, he totally would have wanted to sleep with me.