Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Something Useful for Christmas

For Christmas, Wendy received Tinkerbell 2: Something about Treasure that was Lost or Something from Nana and PopPop Timmy.

NORMALLY, the arrival of a new Disney movie in our home heralds weeks of misery to come for those of us who do not generally like songs about whistling while working after the seventeenth time. This, my friends, is different. I am actually excited to see the further adventures of Tinkerbell in our home. Why? Why? Because Tinkerbell's problems have nothing to do with finding true love and more to do with her own stubborn independence/temper issues? Because she works through her issues while solving complicated fairy engineering problems? Yeah, yeah, sure. But then, there's this:

Yesterday, after our second viewing of Search for Treasure and Stuff, I glance over at Wendy, and she is staring at me and twitching her eye in mock annoyance. This made her look more like she had to fart than she was glaring a menacing glare of doom...but still! TWITCHING HER EYE.
Thank you, Nana, Timmy, and Tinkerbell, for teaching my daughter a very valuable lesson about Woman Power. Instead of singing songs about stupid crap, you have learn not to be a sarcastic temperamental jerk which often gives you an eye twitch. As she is a daughter of mine and Carl's, it is probably very important that she learn this early.


I also must give a shoutout to my mom, who gave Wendy this:

If you knew my mom, you'd know that a sequined flapper dress is exactly what she'd want for Christmas. It is also a perfect gift. Thanks Mom!

*continues to try to teach my stubborn child about the joys of jazz hands*

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cheer For All

I sit here at 1:20 on Christmas Eve afternoon in smugness. I am done (DONE!) all of my Christmas crud.

The smugness is made more smug, because as I type, Carl is out doing his yearly tour of the lower circles of the Inferno-Target, the Big W-Mart, etc.-having been informed on Tuesday that yes, sweetheart, there is a Santa Clause, and Christmas Eve is two days from now. P.S.: You are Santa Clause.

Christmas has actually been nice and low-stress for me this year, having no money with which to shop. (OOOH! More silver lining to unemployment! Score!) (By the way, I may have an interview for an office job on Monday! *knocks on wood*)

Fun tricks to play on yourself when you are poor:
Horde gift cards from last Christmas all year, and buy Christmas presents with them this year! I am good at hording gift cards. So, thank you, all you past family selves who didn't know what to get me last year. You made shopping possible this year. My mom even gave me our family gift card early this year. I bought some home stuff for us that I wanted, wrapped it, and put it under the tree from her and my step dad. Nice, right? COOL TRICKS!
And then there is the handmade stuff. I can't tell you about most of it, because some of the recipients own computers and will probably be idly dicking around on them tonight. (HI STEPH! HI JAIMIE!) Back in November, my mom suggested to me that she might want a cabled beret/tam (there was an argument about which was which and if they were in fact the same thing) in cream. So I found a pattern and knitted. And knitted. And knitted until I was cross-eyed and arthritic. She does not own a computer, so I can show you:

Because of this hat, I didn't get to knit Carl the fingerless gloves that he would like, but that's okay, because we promised that we wouldn't buy each other anything this year, and knitting something would be like cheating via a loophole. Dirty. Underhanded. Low. (One fingerless glove may just show up in his stocking yet. We still have twelve hours before Christmas is actually here.)
Since Erin is busy being newly 16, and Carl is busy with his annual pre-Christmas Igottaworkgottaworknow freak-out, Wendy and I have been busy providing cheer. Hanging stockings. Stringing lights. Baking cookies, wrapping presents, decorating the tree. This is okay by me. Last year, I was a haggard school teacher strung out on coffee and working-mom turmoil. Last year, all I wanted to do on Christmas Eve was to drown myself in a large vodka and pomegranate 7up. And I did. This year? This year, I have time to help Wendy hang ornaments at her eye-level and then laugh my ass off at my bottom-heavy tree.
This year, there is cheer. I am actually enjoying my Christmas. So SUCK IT, shit economy! SUCK IT, job/lackofjob stress! I don't need you! I got to spend time making this filmstrip of Wendy and snow and stuff with grainy pictures from my cell phone! My digital camera is dead and requires expensive batteries!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Wendy's Christmas Tree
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox

Merry Whatnot, everybody. I hope it is awesome, and full of many happily enjoyed cocktails. (My choice this year: nog. Spiked with less bitter tears of frustration and more whiskey and joy.)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

DMV Hell Doesn't Suck For Once

Have I told you the story about how I have been driving on an expired license? For a year? No? That was probably smart of me. You never know when one of your internet friends is going to place an anonymous call to the local po po and have you arrested for driving your kid around without a valid license...

Yes, I see your eyebrows. They are all arched up in surprise that I am such an irresponsible scoff-law. I did actually try to renew six or eight months ago online. But as I have no mail box, I do not have an officially Google/GPS-sanctioned address. SO...the internet DMV gave me the finger, spat at me, and sent my camera card to my previous addy. Then I just didn't want to deal with it. For six or eight months. I am what you might call a master procrastinator.
(WHAT? You don't want to go to the DMV either!)

So yesterday, Carl looked over at me with an air of don't-EFF-with-me-woman! determination, declared that enough was officially enough, and informed me that this license problem was going to go away NOW. He then drove me to the dingiest part of the county, and waited with Wendy in the car for Mommy to get all legal again. He is a saint, and I will bake him pies.

Honestly, I expected more guff from The Man about this. Instead, I got a jolly gentleman (I'm sorry-there's just no better word for him; he was all large and rosy) who waived the $5 camera card replacement fee and winked at me. What's more, my license picture looks even better than the one from five years ago.

Let me repeat that: Above the neck, according to a legal document, I look better now than I did right after college, before baby, job and home stress. Yeah, okay, maybe it has something to do with how I am now slightly more mature about brushing my hair and dabbing on some eyeliner for a picture...but let me have my moment of happy delusion, okay? I can go ahead and get a speeding ticket now! Because I look good on my non-expired license!

You're right. It doesn't take much to thrill me lately.

Friday, December 04, 2009


When last I blogged, I was in Colorado, making turkey, drinking wine, and getting all maudlin about things. I have several items to report:
1. My dad is okay. He will get out of the hospital today or tomorrow, and despite the prospect of facing some serious habit changes, he has a good attitude. My sister and I are not fatherless mongrels. (We sang him "Hard Knock Life" from Annie while he was stuck in ICU. I'm pretty sure that's what pulled him through.) He is now very cheerfully letching after the Russian nurse who gave him a good, attentive shave one day, though as far as she was concerned, "bald face on man same as bald box on voman-no use!"

2. The turkey was awesome. My sister and I were together, alone, so we raised a glass, ate piles of Thanksgiving, and watched a mindless Vince Vaughn romp-com. Holiday. Achieved.

3. A week after my getting home, Wendy is still happy to see me. She keeps turning around from whatever she is doing to reach up and pat my cheek with her hand, all aglow with baby love. We had a birthday thing for her yesterday...less a party, and more of a birthday cake-baking playdate/spaghetti dinner.
Last year, on Wendy's second birthday, I was at work from 6:30 AM til 4:30 PM, and didn't get Wendy home til 5:30. She fell asleep in the car, and slept the rest of the night, while I stressed out about school stuff and cried about barely seeing my baby on her birthday. We may as well have been in different states.
Unemployment sucks. But I am glad that I have had the time to spend with my family, for all recent events both drastic and mundane.

(My apologies for the grainy cell phone pics. Somehow, "camera" wasn't on my list of things to bring on My Dad's Heart Attack trip.)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dear Turkey,

I sacrifice you to the oven of my sister, in the spirit of gratitude for all things beautiful in my world.

Gratitude for my child and family and friends; gratitude for my own life. Gratitude for the opportunity that I have to be in Colorado to sit next to my dad, who did not die, and to simply hold his hand and talk to him.

It is a difficult thing to see fear in my parent's eyes and watch the reality of mortality dawn on the faces of those I love. It cuts deeply to see it all this closely, this way: nothing is guaranteed...we will all eventually leave each other. But it will not be this day, and for that, I am thankful.

So, I commend you, turkey, to your fate. I plan to sit on the deck overlooking the yard, watch the sun set over the mountains, and have a glass of wine while you finish cooking. I will gaze down upon the apparitions of my younger self and sister playing under hauntingly familiar trees and sky, and then we will render joyful destruction upon your carcass in the name of gratitude.

I am 28 years old, and you are the first turkey that I have made by myself. I know you will be delicious.


Monday, November 16, 2009

How to Pack for Your Dad's Heart Attack

Stuff to bring:

1. Your game face

2. Clothing for dressing in layers-the temperatures of airplanes, hospitals, and foreign states vary widely.

3. Pictures of your young daughter, son, or cat that he has only met once-guilt has healing properties.

4. Your book/IPod/cell phone/laptop/knitting-waiting around takes up a lot of time.

5. A full cast recording of Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy-Keeps the mood light as you fly through the thin air of the Earth's higher atmosphere into an unfamiliar universe where your parents are suddenly mortal, and you have the power to consent to life-and-death procedures about which you know next to nothing.

Sub list- Songs not to listen to as you fly a shuddering airplane away from your young child and toward your possibly dying father:
-Freefalling, Tom Petty
-Dust in the Wind, Kansas
-Spirit in the Sky
-Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin
-Porcelain/Wait for Me/Pale Horses, Moby
-My Father's Eyes/Tears in Heaven, Eric Clapton
-Bittersweet Symphony, The Verve
-Radiohead (just too emotionally confusing)
Sub list #2-Songs that are OK:
-Everybody Hurts (So hold on...), R.E.M.
-Aerodynamic, Daft Punk
-Beautiful Day, U2
-All is Full of Love, Bjork
-Lord of the Rings Soundtrack (gives one the sensation of going on an epic quest)

6. Nice shirts and clean casual if you can swing it. (Doctors statistically give out 27% more info with 14% less condescension to those who appear to engage in business casually.)

7. A graphing calculator, protractor, scratch paper, and a math major prepared to assist in the moment-to-moment calculation of your dad's chances of survival, based on the string of seemingly arbitrary but in fact highly scientific percentages given out by medical professionals over the course of his stay in the ICU.

8. Snacks

9. A notebook-you will inevitably be filled with deep thoughts concerning mortality, your childhood, unfinished business with your parent(s), resolve over being a better parent yourself, etc. Your deep thoughts may occur in nebulous fogs floating through your head, or they may occur in lists. Either way, writing down your musings of staggering import and originality sometimes helps you feel better. Also, the awkward way people avoid your eyes after looking over your shoulder and reading "How to Pack for Your Dad's Heart Attack" is amusing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Blogging because I don't really know what else to do.

My dad is in the hospital. I have gleaned most of my information about the whys and hows through the awesome power of texts from my sister, who lives with him in CO. (Ha! Take that, no cell phone policy!) It seems that he has had a heart attack and/or renal failure caused by severe infection and/or unbeknownst diabetes, and also loss of vision caused by a nerve being pinched by something in his neck. Nothing big. Nothing serious. Just, you know, everything at once.

You are right. I do sound removed. I am making light of a serious situation. It's how I deal.

So this is a conversation that has been going on between us and my dad for the past seven or eight years:
Us: Hey Dad. You should get that checked out.
Dad: I'm too cool to take care of my illnesses. See? I wear black sweaters and cop glasses.
Us: I don't know who ever told you that you are cool. Not us. Go see a doctor.
Dad: I will when I have the money.
Us: You don't need money. That's why you have health insurance. Through the business that you co-own. Where you are the boss.
Dad: As soon as things are straight at work, the real-estate market has leveled, the elk herds have moved to higher ground, and the moon is in the seventh house, I can deal with it.
Us: This is not really the kind of thing you put off, you know? You are almost 60.
Dad: What if I find out that I need surgery or something?
Us: Then you'll take off of work for a while, have surgery or something, and go back to work.
Dad: Well, if I am not working, the world could explode.
Us: If you die, you can't go to work. Think about that.

So, yeah. Glad you could make our point for us with such dramatic and colorful flair, Dad.

I might fly out to CO tomorrow. I don't know. Like I said, I don't actually know what the situation is. Texts from my sister. The fourth-party information from my mom (who is also highly dramatic).

But I'll tell you what, I have last minute Travelocity tickets up on my other tab , and I have a bag half-packed and ready to go.

I don't know what to do. So I blog. Thanks for listening, internets.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


Wendy: Can I play your game?
Daddy: I don't know, you are only nice to me when you want my Bejeweled.
Wendy: I'll be nice.
Daddy: Oh yeah? How nice are you gonna be?
Wendy: Um....thirty!

Yeah, that sounds like enough. A good-ish amount of nice. Not enough for a cookie, but just enough for Bejeweled.

Monday, November 02, 2009


Get it? Cause it was Halloween and her name is Wendy? Hallo-Weendy?? HAHA-okay, no.

Just here to pass the cuteness on to you, the customers.

We trucked the kid over to our babysitter's neighborhood, where there is prime, small-child friendly trick-or-treating territory. We got rained on a bit, but Wendy worked pretty hard, and we came back with a decent haul. You know, for an almost-3 year-old.

She had a great time, and so did we. I should add here that I managed to psychologically scar my child this season (what? again? when will I learn?) by way of Halloween-themed library books. My mistake was letting Wendy make age-inappropriate decisions for herself. Now she is afraid of "pretend floating eyeballs" and "mad wolves in the walls, not happy wolves," and won't stop talking about them.

*note to future self: REMEMBER THIS GUILTY FEELING. Also, remember the crying. No matter how mature she seems, when she wants to pierce something or drop out of school to be an artist, or go riding off to the shore with Taylor the tattooed senior, remember the crying.*

Happy November, everyone!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Interviews for Spazoids

I looked like this:

...but a suit jacket was involved, and I was slighly less rumpled, and there were less toothpaste spots hovering in front of me. So really, nothing like this. (I really hope I didn't have this look on my face during.)
It went well. Except for the hyperventilating somewhere in the middle.

Picture trying to steer a Ford Explorer with bad tires down a sloping, ice-covered driveway. Toward traffic. You imagine that at some point, as the sweat pools in all of your crevices, your foot will miscalculate the pressure required for the break pedal, and you will start to slide....

That's about what happens when someone asks that "tell me about yourself" question. I hit a slick patch, and suddenly, I'm hammering down the hill about a mile a minute toward an oncoming Mack truck and Just. Can't. Stop.

Now I need to send my suit to the drycleaners, because it smells like interview fear-today's on top of the reactivated stench leftover from the interview in August. (I only have one suit.)

But back to the "it went well" part...yeah. It went pretty well. I said some smart things. I asked genuine questions. I liked the people, and we had good, natural conversation. Of course, as is my post-interview habit, I rehashed every single word I said all the way home, and it all sounded like crap in retrospect. It was a long drive. I had time to think of many, many better ways to answer those questions. That crazy girl in the runaway Explorer who is yammering eloquently about skill-based assesment activities and state standards and gesticulating very sincerely to her dashboard?
That's me.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Hope

We took a drive to New Hope yesterday. It was one of those spontaneous house evacuations that may or may not have a destination in mind…this one spurred by Carl, who demanded that we all go and spend family time together, as a family, because we are a family, damn it. I knew where he had in mind to go-he’d been doing the “I wanna go to New Hope” chant for a couple of weeks.

New Hope is a small artsy town along the Delaware, where Pennsylvanians go to pretend that we are quaint New Englanders. It is far enough north of Philly for it to remain small, but close enough for it to be a tourist trap around holidays. Its great-it has little nooks and alleys where bohemian types grow tiny gardens and maintain art studios. People sit outside stores making jewelry and painting things. They have vintage clothing stores and Grateful Dead galleries and a barn theatre and Thai food (Wildflowers Café, I heart you).

The neighborhood association leaves snippy notes on the residents’ doors:
Dear Artistic Friend,
As you know, Halloween season is upon us, and it is crucial that our community maintains a high-quality picturesque atmosphere for our visiting brothers and sisters with the wallets.
We have noticed that the ivy growing on your stone wall/lattice/picket fence has dropped below the requisite 75% coverage. Please rectify the situation promptly, or you will and face a fine and also be barred from future community drum circles until such a time as the ivy has been restored.
Please know that we are only here to promote the welfare of our enclave for the betterment of all individuals, including yourself. Let us know if you need help cultivating your ivy; we have some sweet organic compost that would perk that shit right up.
~Rainbow Goldberg

I have been here many times. Every time I go, I am simultaneously enchanted and rendered bitter with jealousy. Yesterday, I'm pretty sure the bitter won out. As I enjoyed showing Wendy the ducks and the water and the cat named Morgana that roams around the witch shop, I was meandering around in a haze of displaced confusion. Something about the constant press of economic desperation at our backs makes it kind of difficult to pay $15 for parking and then have a good time window shopping for things you wish you could afford.

It's not all happy in funky town, either. You can tell that the economy has hit these people hard, too. A lot of shops empty, a lot of houses for sale.

I do know that real estate is outrageously priced, or we would ditch the land of “Answering” lawn signs and move there in a heartbeat. Leave behind this world of community Apple Butter Frolics that are actually meant only for specific church members and not really for the community…trade in the entrenched German farmers and Oyster Picnic set for homemade incense and Sweeney Todd at the Playhouse types...

Or not. I can be a sweater-dress wearing eccentric making my art-or my crafts, as Steph recently defined for me-from anywhere. It doesn’t have to be picturesque and covered in ivy. But it would be nice.

Wendy really did dig the witch shop. She pawed through the astrological rocks and poked at the chakkra wind chimes and identified the perfect wizard wand for her. She's cool like that.

Friday, October 23, 2009

What I Like About You

Dear Carl,

Your birthday is today, and I am broke, so you will probably be getting a few home-made gifts. Like something knitted. And a home-made cake. And a list of thinks I like about you. *Ahem. *

There are several things that I like about you, but here are some of the best ones (that are on my mind this week):

1. You find really creative ways to tell people that you love them. We watched Juno earlier this week, and you really dug that line where the dad says, “you need to find someone who thinks the sun shines out of your ass, good mood, bad mood, whatever.” Ever since, you have been making the angels-in-heaven “ahhhh” sound when I walk by, and muffling it when I sit down.

2. The ridiculous, mismatched, but many-layered outfits in which you swaddle Wendy so she will be warm. Even if it is 70 degrees outside. Also, the way you have charmed her into being your fishing buddy, and how openly touched you are that she wants to dig up worms and hang with you.

3. You don't compromise yourself.

4. You don’t think I should compromise myself. You are even more indignant about the minor injustices of my job(s) on my behalf than I am. When you tell me that I am brilliant and talented and strong, I believe you.

5. We were watching Dirty Jobs, and you kept rewinding the part where the guy bit the lamb's testicles off over and over and over. That was really disturbing. Your maniacal giggling, though? That was cute.

6. You made this chili:

…and it is awesome.

7. We were driving around on Saturday looking at houses we wish we could afford, and when we drove down that unpaved road alongside the creek and rounded the corner, you had the same reaction to the Buddha on the log near the path that led down to the little falls that I did. It went something like: "ooooooohhh…I looooove thiiiiiiiis!" You love things that are truly, naturally beautiful. You can picture us living somewhere like this, together, and happy.

8. I like that you are with me. This shows that you have good judgement. Thank you for being here, and never being anyone but yourself.



Thursday, October 15, 2009

From Above, It Lurks

Our attic does not have ghosts. Our attic has a plague.

You go up there, and somewhere between the molding piles of children’s books from the seventies, the boxes of dry-rotted fabric, and the full set of 1940’s wedding party attire dangling from the ceiling on wire hangers…the plague lurks.

We should have known when we found one of those old metal leg braces from the Tiny Tim Company for Unfortunate Urchins. We should have known then that our attic is no good. When did they last use those, anyway? And who keeps one hanging around for decades? (And who keeps old lace wedding dresses on wire hangers? Joan Crawford, I hear you sister…) Have I ever mentioned that we live in a 200 year old farm house? The front part of it is that old, anyway. From the before-tyme. The long-long-ago. Back when they had yet to invent closets or vaccines.

We’ll often find dead birds at the bottom of the stairs. In addition to leaving the attic full of stuff, the owner of this place at some point chipped all of the plaster from the outer walls and never re-plastered. That means that in the places where there used to be plaster, there are now wide cracks. For example, between the crumbling stone walls and the window frames. Places where I assume that plaster was once useful for keeping the weather and small creatures from finding their way in.

The plague may have something to do with the dead birds. Decades of dead bird dust flying around…plus the mold. How do we get dry rot and mold at the same time?? It seems counter-intuitive.

We discovered the plague back when I was about four months pregnant. Carl and I had been moving things around, trying to get all of the stuff up there that is not ours off to one side, so we could clear the junk out of the spare room for Wendy. (This was when we were still calling her Osbert/Prudence.) We spent a lot of time touching things and opening boxes and poking our faces right into the contents. Oooh, check out this china! Look at this doily! I bet someone made this! Neat! Old! Vintage-y! I know that I’m pregnant, but let me just huff this sick bird dander right off of my hands like an idiot!

We both spent the next week with sore throats and heads full of snot, feverish and half-delirious. The Attic Plague has stricken us both from time to time after that, when we foolishly cast aside all evidence which suggests no living thing should ever go up there again.
Anything that we store in the attic now out of sheer desperation-limited closet space, remember?-goes up in plastic, hopefully plague-proof tubs. I was up yesterday looking for the Halloween bin. I usually try to breathe very shallowly, but I was looking for more than four minutes. I must have actually let the attic air into my lungs. Why taunt the Plague? Well, you see, I just can’t handle this world of jobless recession recovery. It's all becoming too much-too cruel.

I woke up this morning with that tell-tale heaviness in my head…the signature burning behind my eyes. I tried to sigh, but choked over my swollen lymph nodes instead.

Carl is making a giant vat of chili today. Hopefully, the heat of five kinds of peppers will burn out the sick before it takes over my whole body. (Or I'll be stricken by the doom from above, unable to move as the gas of a thousand lower intestinal emissions finishes me off...whatever.)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Things That Crawl

...don't always suck.

For example, this:

Wendy and I had a nice date today. We got out of the house, saw the town... The town in this case being Wal-Mart and McDonald's (Hell, thy name is PlayPlace), but still. We had a good time. Full of chicken nuggets and hugs around the neck and "I love you so much, Mommy"s.

Then, at home, on our way up the two steps to our front door, Wendy noticed the fuzzy caterpillar crawling on our mutant squash. I forgot to get a picture of the mutants, I'll have to do that later. We left a few of those weird decorative squash to the left of our steps last year, and a huge vine grew up there this year, and spawned strange lumpy yellow gourds. That's one thing that I love about this place. Nature and all of the beautiful* randomness that we are privy to, just by living out here somewhat surrounded by the PA wilds...

A few years ago, Carl and I rescued a baby deer from a fox. Baby deer make a crying sound not unlike the that of a small child, did you know that? I heard the noise, and Carl jumped the fence. He chased the fox away and was holding the baby and trying to assess the damage, when he was almost run down by the mother deer as she came flying across the field behind our house. I yelled something really intelligent like, "Hey! Look! Look! Hey!" as she barreled down on the place where he was crouched against the other side of the fence. He let the baby go, and the pair ran back to the treeline, leaving us both stunned and kind of glad we weren't about to live through a scene from The Yearling, or something.

This encounter was not that dramatic. Just a bug on our step. But still. You couldn't tell that it wasn't just as thrilling, for all the time we spent examining the bug and naming the bug and talking about the bug and moving the bug to a safe, happy location. Good times. Nature rocks.*

*spiders don't count

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Wendy has had a few in the potty-training area. These setbacks include several puddles of various substances and not one, but three rolls of toilet paper tossed into the toilet water. Whole. So, yeah. My triumphant declaration of victory a few posts ago? Kind of like how the Spanish Navy must have felt right before the waves picked up off the coast of England.

Setback #2: this is an ongoing thing, and for those of you who know me personally, it is our current saga of doom around here. It has to do with our lease running out in May, and banks who are unwilling to give us the same kind of mortgage that they were dolling out in spades three years ago. It has to do with official letters that say so. To us, specifically. They look like this:
Dear plebs,
No. We will not give you money, even though you've been paying the lease and keeping up the property for five years, and have painted trees and flowers on your small child's bedroom walls. No. We don't think so. Take your family and your cats and move into a storage space. We don't care.
Love, Bank

We had to switch from Arm & Hammer kitty litter to Tidy Cat. We have four cats. The stench control-just not as good. Now our house smells more like poop than it used to.

And then there is October. We got the first oil delivery of the season last week. $482. We have yet to actually turn on the heat. I seem to remember this feeling from middle school, when they wouldn't turn on the heat till November. I was totally incredulous about the state's willingness to abuse children in this way. Now, I am both incredulous and party to the inflicting of cold-hand syndrome and freezing feet attacks on others.

Wolf spiders invade our house in October. They come in under the doors and through the cracks under the walls and run across your feet. They also unexpectedly appear in the sink, skittering around the dirty dishes when you turn on the water or move anything. They look like this:

Yes, I did put a dramatic spotlight on the spider from my sink. The invasion is Just. That. Disturbing. Why do I include October and wolf spiders in the list of "setbacks?" Because I take things personally. That's why.

I will lighten up around here soon, y'all. I promise.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Depressed About Your Unemployment?

7 Simple Ways to Crawl Out From Under Your Rock

None of these things will help you get a job. These are things that will help you feel more like a human for a little while. They may seem simple, but they are very important if you want to remember that there is more going in your life than you can see from your current point of view.*

If all of these things seem obvious and silly to you, you do not need to read this, because you do not currently live under a rock. You should go have a Starbucks or buy things on Etsy, or do other happy things. Others, please proceed.

1. Remove the bottle of wine/whiskey/tequila from your bedside table. It's just not healthy.

2. Take a weed whacker to your leg hair and put on a skirt. Alternatively, weed whack that scruff from your chin and put on a clean shirt. Whichever applies to your current situation (maybe both? maybe all?), it will make you feel like a person for a little while. (Seriously dude. You look like a Fraggle. Remember Fraggles?)

3. Respond to emails from friends that are more than two days old. It's not their fault no one will hire you...unless they voted for Bush at any time. In that case, instead of returning their emails, sign those people up for home-delivered "special offers" that you can find on the internet. They will appreciate your thinking of them.

4. No, really. Talk to your friends. Talk to your family. They don't think you are a suck-ass useless piece of crap, or they wouldn't keep emailing you and wondering if you died. Call them up even if they haven't emailed or called. Human contact. You need it. Don't be a jerk to them when they tell you about their job woes. You can cry into your pillow later.
(Yes, Steph. If I didn't actually answer your question yet, Friend's Thanksgiving should happen again this year.)

5. Make something. Make something new for dinner. Bake banana bread. Draw a picture. Knit something. Build something. Make something in your house prettier, more efficient, or different in some way. Produce something that you can eat, see, touch or use. Then shake your fist at the sky and yell, "I AM A PRODUCTIVE PERSON, DAMMIT! YOU JERK-BAGS ARE MISSING OUT ON ALL OF THIS! THIS IS YOUR LOSS! YOURS!" (Do the fist-shaking thing. Do It. Then, gesture to yourself suggestively. Freak out the neighbors. What have you got to lose?)

6. Close the computer. You can look for today's phantom job postings tomorrow. Also, doing something on Farmville/Mafia Wars/WOW/Second Life is not the same as doing something.

7. Go outside. Do some yard work. Go for a walk. Take your kid to the park, or go by yourself. Get some Vitamin D. "Pasty and haggard" isn't really a good look for you.

8. Do something you want to do. Even if it costs money. Okay, not too much money-I'm talking about scrounging up enough change from your sofa to get a couple of donuts, not putting a new computer on a charge card. Unless you won't be able to feed yourself this week because of it, get a coffee and sit in the bookstore, or take a bus to the library. Rent a movie. Go to a movie. You don't somehow deserve financial ruin because you treat yourself to something small (small!) once a week.

*My current point of view=under the rock, up my own ass, curled up under the covers with my hands over my ears. Attempting to alleviate the

Yeah, I'm using my blog to give myself pep talks. So what??

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Conversation With an Almost-3

Mo: Put the camera down.
Wendy: Is it yours?
Mo: It's Erin's. You didn't ask. Put it down right now.
Wendy: Did she say no?
Mo: You didn't ask. She did not say yes.
Wendy: But, did she say no?
Mo: OHFORTHELOVEOFGOD put it down! Right now!

Wendy: ...But she didn't say no...?

Yes, you vertically challenged little smart-mouth. Technically, she did not say no. Ever hear of "the answer's always no until you ask??" Or, even better, "I'm your mom and I legally own you?"


Monday, September 28, 2009

Short Pirates Shop Here!

Does anyone know any short pirates who need Halloween costumes? Announcing the all new Etsy shop catering to the fashion-forward mini-marauder, brought to you by Captain Barnacle Bonney, piratical clothier extraordinaire!

Pint Sized Plunder

I said I would do it, and I did. Yay, me!

There are only a few things posted for sale so far. I finished a bunch of outfits on Thursday and Friday. Between paying attention to the cats, the dog, and Wendy (who all wanted a piece of me the second I sat down to work), I came up with a couple of outfits and a pirate coat.

Unfortunately, Wendy has decided that her role in all of this is more “tyrannical sweatshop mischief elf” than “willing model and promotions specialist.” The stuff would look a lot cuter on a happy photogenic kid, but I had to settle for laying it all out on the nicer patches of my juice-stained couch and trying to hold my camera steady while said photogenic one climbed my leg and tried her best to snatch it from my hands.

This is not a huge money-making venture. It is more of a way to expend some creative energy so I don’t completely lose my shit when the water goes out on me during another shower.

Have I told you all about the problems we are having with our well? Meh. Another day, another post. This post is a happy post! Mo launches an Etsy shop! YAY! I mean, AVAST!

*Update: I just went to put some more stuff on, and I sold my little pirate coat! DUDE! It was only up for like, 18 hours. I've found a niche market. I'm going to make millions. MILLIONS.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday Snapshot

After day of torching villages and terrorizing the countryside, Baby Dragon curls into her nest and sleeps soundly. She is lulled by the gentle rumbling emanating from Daddy Dragon's snout, and by dreams of tomorrow's conquests.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Wickles Made Me Do It

0r, Ways to make a little scratch without actually selling tissue samples to science.

Pickles with hot peppers in them. Wickedly delicious pickles. WICKLES! I really can't describe how good these are.

Last week, while sitting down with a nice tuna salad and wickle sandwich, I was looking around on Craigslist for jobs. After sifting through the "Education," "Writing/Editing," and "Retail" sections, I clicked on "etc." And that's when I seriously began considering a new life as either a horse sitter or an egg donor.

Is anyone else out there in joblessville using their college degree to drain bacon right now?

Look, I'm not wallowing in a pit of despair, wondering if I have value. Not yet anyway. I know that I have value. I have skills. MAD skills, and a great personality. I just haven't figured out how to make a buck off of those skills in an efficient, childcare-conscious way. (If I am spending more than half of my take-home on childcare, it's not worth it to me, especially if the job does nothing to further my long-term goals. Sorry, it's just not.)

It's all about diversifying your marketability, the advice people tell you. Real life experience counts for a lot! Okay...

Successful multi-tasker seeks career in simultaneous enchilada production and online bill paying. My prolific production of analytical thoughts on The Great Gatsby will be a great asset to your company. Qualified to explain the nuances of Tinkerbell's potty habits in great detail.

At some point in the day, after researching and poring over listings and revamping your resume and sending the applications out, you just have to do something else. That is my major advice.

Back to last week. As I was slowly backing away from the paid medical experiments page on Craigslist, I tripped over my sewing stuff and remembered that I do actually have a trade skill. And then I made a bunch of kid's pirate outfits. It's the Wickles. They went straight to my head.

Pirate costumes? Really, Mo? This is your big plan?
I never said it was a big plan. So what if it is my big plan?
Because pirates are Effing Awesome. That's why.

Soon, I will be selling them on Etsy. Maybe I'll make a few bucks. Maybe it keep my head out of the computer (and my ass) for a while. That second part is more important to me right at this moment.

I'd like to thank Erin and Nana for bringing Wickles into my life. I don't know how I've been getting along without them.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Monkeys at a Moby Concert on Sunday Night

(Because we are hip, hip, hipsters.)

Me: (about thirty seconds before we see Moby) We’re going to see someone famous!
Steph: I KNOW! And he’s going to look just like himself!

He did, too. Steph and Ryan took us to see Moby on Sunday night. He looked just like himself and we were about ten feet away from him. I am pretty sure that he looked right at me.

Sure, there were only a thousand people there, and he was bound to look in the general direction of ten feet away at some point, but gimme a break, people. I live *this* close to the Pennsyltuckey part of PA. I don’t see famous people. I also don’t do much in the way of things that are fun, and it was exhilarating to be in the city at night. A Sunday night, no less. (How do I still get the out-on-a-school-night charge, even though I have no school the next day? I don’t know!)

The opening act was a woman named Kelli Scarr, and to be honest, I don’t think anyone was initially wowed. She stood there in a shapeless black tunic, her hair in a messy bun, half-crying into the mic, “I…want…to break…uuuup,” kind of like, as Carl put it, “Sinead O’Connor on Quaaludes.” Something about the sincere, vulnerable quality of her crooning compelled Carl to actually rub my shoulders every time she began a new warble. In fact, as I looked around at the crowd, all of the hipster boys were absently caressing the hipster girls. This woman’s voice actually has the power to induce group comforting behavior. We were self-soothing monkeys, grooming and hugging each other until the distressing feeling went away.

Her songs were very pretty, but between the keyboard-synthesized beats and the green/gold disco light swirling around her, Steph and I were forced to conclude that we were at the saddest underwater-themed Junior Prom ever. When she reappeared later-hair brushed, in a dress-to provide the soulful power-vocals for Moby’s music, I was actually blown away.

Dear Kelli Scarr, Don't hold back. Belt it right out. Do the thing you did when you sang Wait for Me. You're better that way.

Maybe people who are in on the music scene will not think so, but small-venue concert etiquette is a little weird. We were at the Theater of the Living Arts on South Street in Philadelphia, which is basically a big room with some balcony space and a bar off to the side. While the sound guys checked wires and fiddled with stuff on stage, I was overcome with that strangers-in-an-elevator feeling. I have been to two concerts in my life, both of them in stadiums, so I felt like the most awkward duck in the pond, especially while the lights were up. Everyone faces front, arms folded, no eye contact. Monkeys in trendy fedoras trying not to start shit with other monkeys.

Once the band took the stage, though, it was all good. We were not able to get full-on rave-revival, because Moby apparently likes to talk between songs, but that was okay. I love Moby music. (He was doing the geeky-normal guy thing. I would totally talk food politics with this guy in a bookstore.) We bopped and swayed and jumped and fist-pumped. When Moby ran over to wail on the bongos, me and Steph freaked out and threw our hand in the air even more. Two days later, my calves and abs are still sore.

I was a little worried that Carl would not like it. Was it anxiety that he and my friends will not ever blend well? Maybe. Not fair, right, considering that we haven't really had much of an opportunity to try it out? He did like it, though. He bopped and fist-pumped and sung along to songs I didn't know he knew. I forgot; he likes things that are bluesy and full of soul and also rock. He confirmed the feeling I had as we spilled out of the TLA at 11:30 on a school night: "We need more of this."

"This" = get out. see interesting things. take part. enjoy life. Be free-range monkeys. Possibly with say-something hats.

This was the best thing for us right now. Thanks, Steph and Ryan. You guys techno/soul/rock my world.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Unemployment: Tales from the Dark Side

or, This whole Staycation thing isn't really doing it for me.
Feeling useless does strange things to a person. For example, on Wednesday, when I made this, I was rolling on the floor laughing:

Click to play this Smilebox photobook: How to Keep Busy

...and now it just seems like a unsettling cry for antidepressants. On the bright side, Wendy and I had a good time drawing pictures together for four hours and then jumping in the bath, covered with marker. She claims to have had no part in the laundry basket incident, and resents my slanderous representation of her character. See? Innocent.

Carl and I have been knocking around house together; both of us combing the Internet for jobs, both of us scared of what will happen next, both of us frustrated to the point of irrational outbursts regarding crumbs on counters and deleted TiVo. We find ridiculous reasons to storm out of the house-with half-explained purpose, in half-hearted anger, because we desperately need something from the store. A LEMON! WE NEED A LEMON RIGHT NOW, GODDAMNIT! If we don't have a lemon, the enchiladas will be ruined, and we might as well give up now and eat 89-cent pot pies from the freezer for the rest of our lives! I don't want that for our children! To Giant!

It is kind of a mania-coaster that is half-submerged in swamp water, and we are stapled to the seats. I have to remember to breathe at the right times, or the green bile of bitter fear rises up to choke me. The choking makes the lung-full of air that much more thrilling, though. Wendy and I are good together, mostly. Marker parties. Library jaunts. Park picnics. It's sweet. And when Carl and I find something new to laugh about or something good to do that's free, it's like we just discovered Peanut Butter Captain Crunch again. Whee! The the top of the coaster! And there is Captain Crunch here! WHEEEEEE!!!

*Erin, if you are here for some reason, I cannot vouch for your continued mental health, should you read the following.*

We have had pretty good-ahem-relations, lately. Apparently, there is something about the thick atmosphere of suppressed impotent rage that makes everyone want to…pollinate. (I know several scientists that have done scientific experiments proving this. With science.) Which is SO not the thing to be doing when no one is working, no one is on birth control and about nine months from now, we will be either moving and/or buying a house. This is not the time to be pollinated.

It was different before. Before, when I quit delivering pizzas for my 24th birthday because I didn't want do it anymore, and I didn't care where I worked next, I wasn't unemployed. I was bumming around. Before, the news was full of reasons that other people should worry about their futures, while I snapped on my name tag and went to mall to mock my boss and his small, petty life in middle management.

That was a different version of me, who was not wrapped and tangled around other people who depend on my being useful. That was a rootless version of me that did not care if I was useful or not. It is different now. I'll be 28 in a few months. Those four years that have elapsed since the era of willful job-quitting are vast oceans of time zones when you throw a family into the mix.
Excuse me, I have a sudden, crushing desire for a lemon. *storm storm storm*

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bribes, Booze and a Dirty Bathtub

Y'all want to hear about my three-stage program for potty training?
Yes. You do. I can tell by the beads of sweat that are forming along your quivering top lip. Those are excitement beads.

Okay, my peeps. Here goes:

1. Buy $4 three-pack of "beautiful" princess panties at Wal-Mart.
"Oh my god. That's such a good idea. No one wants to poop in their special panties." ~My Mom

2. Stop applying diapers to butt.
"I think she's pooping. Are you pooping? Are you sure? Can I check? Hon, I think she's pooping!" ~Carl, every time Wendy gets a far-away look in her eyes.

3. Clean up messes until she gets the point.
"Yup. Right in the tub."
"At least it wasn't on the carpet."
"Well, let me tell you about the living room..."

I should add a step 4 here:
4. Toast your-erm..her brilliant accomplishment. With beer. Or wine. Or whatever is on hand.

After a few weeks of ever-decreasing diaper usage and, yes, a few poos on the floor, Wendy has gone on the potty for two straight days without incident. In addition to Sleeping Beauty panties, I have also bribed her with Popsicles. And Tinkerbell snacks. Yeah, I bribe my kid for good behavior. What? I also feed her boxed macaroni and cheese. Child Protective Services awaits your call.

I know this particular brand of potty-training would not work with other kids, or, for that matter, other parents. I guess you could call this child-led parenting, because Wendy just seems ready for it, and therefor, so am I. I would, however, have to mix in a large measure of blase attitude toward it all ("meh. it'll happen when it happens.") and above all, willingness to clean up puddles of pee without taking it personally.

To take care of stage 4, I happen to have on hand about three ounces of Patron. In celebration of Potty Training, I have invented the Green Tea-quila Fizz! In whatever proportions seem right at the time:

Orange Juice
Green Tea Ginger Ale

It isn't really green. But it's damn refreshing. As refreshing as being glad, for once, that my rug is already crap and needs replaced, like, five years ago. CHEERS, EVERYONE!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Mommy Tells Wendy How It Is

or, How I Checked Out a Book About Making Organic Leather Goods at the Library Last Week

Me: There’s this thing called the economy, and it works kind of like the weather. Sometimes the sun is shining and we all get to go outside and have jobs and buy houses and eat fancy lunches at Olive Garden. Sometimes it rains, and everyone stays inside and eats lots of hamburger and watches too much America's Next Top Model on basic cable. Right now, it’s raining out. It rains and rains and thunders and then rains some more. A lot of people (including us, soon) cannot even afford to have basic cable, because of all this rain. This is a metaphor, of course, you see that, right? It’s not really raining; some jackass monkey man spent all of our money on toys to play soldier on the other side of the world and then a balloon popped and some bad men gave themselves bonuses…you get it?

So, when I was a teenager, like your sister, we were all looking forward to graduating high school, launching multi-million dollar web-ventures of our own, and walking around for the rest of our lives with sun shining out of our asses. We did not expect unfavorable atmospheric conditions to begin just as we had to leave the house to find money to pay off our nice college educations.

Wendy: Life’s not fair, is is it?
Me: Right. I digress. It did rain, and here we are, and I don't want to cry about all the evaporated expectations. And if you are going to watch The Lion King six times every day, can you please stop channeling Scar?

I am trying to be like my grandma here. She was born in the Depression era, and raised four kids in the Philadelphia projects while her husband was in the military. (Don't get your Dora panties in a twist, I'm only nominally comparing my situation to hers. We are a few steps away from being there. I know that.) My point is that my mom remembers having a good childhood, and they did not have fancy lunches anywhere. My grandma had a good attitude. She made raisin smiley-faces in the oatmeal seem like a very special,
magical treat. For dinner.

She also drank and smoked a lot. I don’t plan to do that. I can do the raisin thing, but you’ll have to settle for a more lucid, if less overly cheerful mom. Sorry.

Wendy: Are you a happy monster?
Me: Yes. That’s about the size of it.

Anyway, I know that you don’t really need the excess of things to which kids have become accustom. If we can't actually live at the Disney Store like you want to, you'll be fine. If they never give us a mortgage so we can buy our house, if we have to actuallyleave this house and rent a much smaller one with less yard, if you get one birthday present this year instead of three…you will be fine. You were never going to have a constant shower of expensive stuff anyway. I'm not worried about the stuff you are going to miss out on. That stuff will not make you a better, smarter, happier person.

I am worried about not being able to tuck you in at night because I’m working nights at the mall. I’m worried about taking a job an hour away and not seeing you during daylight hours at all. I’m worried about putting you in daycare where people do not know that you deserve to be loved every minute of every day. I’m worried about these things affecting the way your dad and I see the world and, mostly, I’m worried about you growing up with broken, unhappy people all around you. I don’t want that for you. I am determined to prevent that from happening.

I also don’t want to hear about the apocalypse coming in 2012. Dear Hollywood, can you not make twenty movies about it between now and then? Can you just let us raise our kids on hamburger and over-cooked optimism without having to also contemplate how we will feed them after Global Warming Eats Us All?

Wendy: Lions eat antelope.
Me: Yes.
Wendy: What’s antelope?
Me: It’s kind of like a deer.
Wendy: Oh. Can we eat antelope?
Me: No, but we can eat deer. Let’s become organic farmers and eat deer somewhere in the mountains. Would you like that?
Wendy: I like to eat deer.
Me: Good. I’ll teach you how to tan hides. After I learn how to tan hides. I love you.
Wendy: I love you so much, Mommy. Can I have a blue lolly-pop?
Me: Yes. Blue lolly-pops are free at the post office.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

You're Gonna Love My Nuts

Me: Let me brush your hair.

Wendy: NO!

Me: Let me brush your hair please. It has knots in it.

Wendy: I have to go tell the squirrels NO NO NO!

Me: What?

Wendy: The squirrels dropped the nuts in my hair and that wasn't very nice! I have to tell them NO NO NO!

Me: Holy crap. That is a problem.

Wendy: Don't say holy crap to the squirrels, mommy. Say feckin jeeze.

And that's when my trucker mouth really began to bite me in the ass with gusto....

Friday, August 28, 2009


Last Saturday, I ran into two of my students from this past school year.

They traipsed into the sushi take-out place screeching, "Ohmygod noway," and we had a great conversation. They oohed and ahhed over Wendy's cuteness while we all waited for our food. They were fashionably dressed for a party; I was schlubbing around in jeans, a purple fairy tee shirt, and beat flip-flops. I poked myself in the eye while their backs were turned to subdue the awkward self-conscious nausea that was creeping into my throat. (Sometimes I need a stab of searing eye pain to remind me that I am not actually still in high school too.)

My order came out, and I was mid-silent-sigh of relief when Carl came tearing through the door with his crazy eyebrows and a bag from the new grocery store across the parking lot. The crazy brows indicated that he had purchased something awesome and that I should look in the bag. "Giant beers," I said, peering into the bag.

"Giant Japanese beer! From a grocery store! In Pennsylvania!" He did a little hop-jig of joy. Carl's hair was even excited about this discovery. It was all escaping from his ponytail and giving him a very distinct mental-patient halo.

(A quick aside: I am totally on board this celebration boat. Despite the fact that most other states allow it, and that PA has recently begun to build casinos, we are still not allowed to buy a bottle of wine or a six-pack in the same building where we buy lunch meat. We are all held hostage by Quaker/Olde German/Mennonite wisdom, which tells us that placing alcohol in a grocery cart right next to pancake mix and laundry soap will surely lead to drunken laundry and pancake parties. And then it's only a matter of time before the incense burning and wife-swapping begins. Only a matter of time.)

Anyhow, I could feel the spark of interest at my back. I could hear the girls putting this picture together for their friends later: "She said that she wasn't sure if she was coming back to school this year. I wonder if they fired her. She was wearing a tie-dye tee shirt and had a bag full of 40's. I think her husband is a war veteran, or something." I hustled my kid and Crazy Brows out of there, trying not to trip over the ruin of my already-thin professional veneer on my way out the door.

We ate dinner at home, at the coffee table. I very effectively drowned this encounter in sushi and Japanese beer. Carl told me a great story about he and his friends getting drunk with a sushi chef in California a long time ago. In this story, the sushi chef told his own stories about living in Japan, and everyone perfected the art of yelling "KAMPAI!" in a hearty, throaty voice while drinking beer and eating raw fish on rice.

Now, a week later, Wendy is still telling us that we need to yell "KAMPAI!!" before we take a swig of anything. Because she's awesome. Because it's good to bring your children up in a culturally diverse household. Because I did such a good job last week yelling "KAMPAI!" into the the void where my job should be before every chug of Japanese beer, that Wendy now thinks of this as the proper way to indicate her approval for any and all beverage at hand.

I can live with this development.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Net Worth of Summer Vacation

This is a PRE VACATION entry that did not post. So I am posting it now, on August 20th.

In Culture:
-I began reading Audrey Nefeneger's The Time Traveler's Wife last Tuesday at three in the morning, and finished reading it around noon last Friday. I have already said this to her, but I'd like to thank Steph for lending this to me. It monopolized my whole week (I missed out on a lot of sleep and socializing to read this book) and destroyed me emotionally. And now I find out that there is going to be a movie!! Win.
-I also read three terrible Anita Blake vampire hunter novels. Bad writing. Drained many brain cells. Loss.
-I became addicted to True Blood. Also drained many brain cells, but the writing is much better. Delightful waste of time. Win.
Speaking of movies, Harry Potter. Need I say more? WIN.
Cultural score: net 2

On the job front:
-I have applied to the seven English teacher jobs that are available within a 20 mile radius and do not involve flack jackets and the city. I have heard back from one of them for an interview. Win.
-This interview will take place in the middle of my vacation. I must drive five hours back from the other side of PA for a twenty minute interview. Loss.
Job score: net 0

Home and Garden:
-The mortgage company is going to give us a mortgage! This should be a Win, right? No.
The owner of the house that we have lived in for five years has decided that he is not going to honor the part of the contract where he said that he would sell us the house. We are talking to a lawyer. Motherfucking Fuckballs. Loss. are tomatoing? Win.
-Ooh, I have a good one. Wendy and I have had an amazing month of us-time. We go to the park, we play in the baby pool, we hang out in the yard. It has been awesome. Have you ever wondered how long you have to pretend to be something before you actually become that thing? You hope that at some point, all the pins will fall in and everything will click. You hope that the fleeting moments of beauty that you know this thing can be will actually gel into a whole solid truth that you can really get your arms around. Okay, the you in this scenario is really me, and despite all of the stress of the house situation and the job situation and every other situation going on around here, this past month has been a revelation built of dandelions and butterfly-print bathing suits.
Home score: net 3 (+1 for tomatoes and +2 for truth and beauty.)

Summer Vacation net score: Stocks are up 5.

I'm off to Pennsic now. (like five minutes ago, actually) I am planning to take a few minutes to blog via cell phone. Ta for now, all!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Growing Up in the Park on a Friday

Wendy helps Carl hold the worm and the pole, and touches the fish before he releases it back into the reservoir. She explains to me, “Daddy is catching the big BIG fish when they bite the worms, and they live in the water under the duckalings.” She understands his interests, and respects his prowess as a talented sportsman. He knew it would be this way, and tries not to explode with pride as he holds her small hand under his.

We take a walk to the "slide and the troll bridge" and let him have some solitude. She climbs on the rocks lining the path, placing her rainbow sandals carefully as she stretches her long legs from foothold to foothold. I am grateful for the giant, firmly planted feet particular to the women of my family.

Pacing laps around the playground equipment, I glance in the direction of the moms chatting at the picnic table. They are wearing curiously matched blue sport-polo shirts and black shorts. (I know they arrived separately. Is there a league? A league of park moms? Is Friday blue polo day?) Their perky-playful ponytailed heads turn casually toward the children, but remain unconcerned with the velocity at which the small bodies travel over the high structures. I look down at my hands. They are nervously hovering behind Wendy as she clomps up the stairs. They stay, twitching half-mast around my chest, ready to catch her should she for no reason fling herself through the gap in the railing.

Oh god. Am I the paranoid overbearing mom? The brims of matching blue baseball hats bob at me. Yes, they say; you will spoon-feed her every drop of life until she doesn’t know how to feed herself. She will be afraid to drive alone or dance in front of people or go to gay bars or try Indian food. She is going to move back in with you after college and settle for a middle-management retail job because you never let her go down the slide by herself.

No. This is Wendy we are talking about. I’m two and I dress my own self Wendy. I can squirt my own toothpaste Wendy. Wendy who will shake the chocolate milk myself OH FOR GOD’S SAKE. I am not smothering her. I couldn’t possibly. She is very independent, but she’s not even three yet, you crazy matching meddlers. She does need me to hold her hand, whether she wants me to or not.

Still. I back away, my feet shuffling through the wood chips a few steps at a time. Wendy heads toward the ladder, and I hurry forward, but do not make it before she has scaled the rungs and is running across the wobbly-bridge. Oh. She can do that.

I perch myself on the sideline bench. I watch her strong hands climbing, I listen to her telling the other kids stories, and I slowly ease back. I let my toes relax from clenched-ballet pose to flat and chill. I can do this. I’ll just wait here, until she needs me again.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Dear Chestnut Hill Investment Banker,

You're right. It is not, in fact, 2005 anymore. Brilliant.

Let me ask you something. Why is it okay for you to hire Carl to do a job at a rate of which you were fully aware, and then chew him out about the invoice after he has done the job? Because it's not 2005 anymore? Really? Is your national economic crisis somehow worse than our national economic crisis? Does it hurt you to have to postpone your purchase of a second IPhone 3GS for a week or two more than it hurts us to make our mortgage payment?

Why didn't you just build your own stupid shelves or fix your own stupid pipes? Right. Because you are a spoiled freak. You are used to paying others to do your hard work, but very recently and suddenly, the world told you that you are not entitled to twelve times the income your skills are actually worth, and dicking around with someone else's blood-and-sweat livelihood is the only way you can recoup some of your crumpled manhood and face your ball-busting-spoiled-freak wife in bed tonight. You cannot imagine a world where you simply can't afford goods and services, because your clean-cut corporate-lackey head is small and important thoughts like this simply do not fit inside.

I suppose I should feel bad about berating the Cranially Challenged. Your pinched forehead squeezes in on your brain too much for you to produce complete thoughts about how people have whole entire lives unconnected to you. They have kids to feed and hobbies to pursue. They have a great list of things they would rather be doing besides driving an hour to and from your house through shitty traffic to do work for you. I know you don't really understand, so here's what I'll do to help you out. I'll put it in small words that will go in there easier: Shut up. Fork over the F***KING money. Get over it.

Wait-what year is it again? I need you and your tiny flea head to tell me.

Also, you suck.


(*I do not hate the rich. I am simply annoyed by jerks.*)

Friday, July 03, 2009

Couch Wars

Again, the couch:house ratio is out of balance. Last weekend, we scored a giant Ikea job that will not fit in Steph and Ryan’s apartment, and put it in our living room. As is our practice, we have retained the old couch-i.e., shoved it in the Christmas tree corner of our living room-while we bond with the new couch. The new relationship with the younger, prettier model might work out. In that event, we will have the old couch as a fall-back. While we deal with our commitment issues, we have two couches in our living room. The new(er) one in the picture is the discontinued Ekescog model, as we discovered online. It turns out that I could have just looked at one of the slipcover tags, instead of fruitlessly combing through Ikea’s annoying website for an hour. Dur. (Also, do you like the My-Size Barbie legs poking out, Wicked-Witch style? Me too.)

Couch time is usually family time. Carl and I attempt to watch grown-up TV, and Wendy wedges herself between us and demands Dora or Max & Ruby every thirty seconds. We think that making screeching noises, planting her head in my armpit and lodging her big toe between Carl’s ribs provides her with a sense of security. It reminds her of the baby-hood she spent in our bed.

The periodical double-couch situation provides the novel option for both adults to lie like broccoli at the same time while watching The Daily Show. In theory, one of us will get a whole couch to ourselves. A beautiful whole five minutes, baby-toe free!

For the proprietor of The Toes, this set-up precipitates an ultimate conundrum: which parent can I monopolize most effectively? Can I do both at the same time? How can I effectively streamline my attention-gleaning strategies to maximize cuddle-time while disallowing cross-cuddling, thereby assuring my genetic dominance over this genetic pool?

Wendy: Daddy, read it again.
Daddy: I want to go over and cuddle Mommy.
Wendy: Actually, I want to cuddle Mommy.
Mommy: You can cuddle Mommy too.
Wendy: But I want Daddy to stay on that other sofa.
Mommy: Mommy wants both of you to cuddle me.
Wendy: Only Wendy.
Daddy: That's not fair.
Mommy: What if I cuddle Daddy over there?
Wendy: That's my Daddy, not your Daddy.
Mommy: True. Also Irrelevant.
Wendy: Daddy is my best friend.
Daddy: Wow. That’s nice.
Mommy: Don’t let her play with your emotions. That’s how she gets you.
Daddy: But-can’t we all just cuddle on the big couch?
Wendy: *flings body across Mommy* NOOOOOOOOO! I DON’T LIKE DADDY!! ONLY MOMMY!!
Mommy: It wouldn’t hurt so bad if you steeled yourself against her wiles.

Living with a two year-old is kind of like having a jealous sibling. If you and your sibling were both under five and negotiated territory deals with third world country war lords.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Any Requests?

"Mommy, tell me the story when Wendy wakes up in the dark and there's a monster and Mommy and Daddy and Erin fight the monster in the butt. Tell that story."

This story ends with a very embarrassing trip to the Monster Emergency Room.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Probably Terrence

Meet our visitor. Cute little S-O-B, right?

Before you ask; no, we have not named him. I do not care to name him. (although, he does remind me of a Mouse Mouse that I know (Bethany's cat), which has me thinking MouseMouse the Extreme Supreme .... 2MES? no?)

About a month ago, Carl found him out in the junk by the barn, alone and exposed to the elements. The "elements" might or might not have included a fox or an owl or something. Seeing as the barn is situated close to the road, the "elements" definitley includes barreling SUVs of death. His mom either abandoned him or forgot where she left him. This is not out of the realm of possibility, as most of the barn cats around here are hit-or-miss for brain cells. Too many daddy/brothers waiting around to knock up the sister/cousins, if you catch my drift.

Carl was drawn in by the helpless, hungry mewling. Sucker.

He's grown up a lot in the past month. (The kitten, not Carl.) He's gone from bottle-fed teddy cuddler about the size of my tea cup to rolling around with the big boys and attacking feet from under the couch. He now fills up Wendy's whole potty, and breaks skin with his adorable little razor-sharp baby teeth.

Wendy adores him. She catches sight of him and instantly emits these cutesy girl noises that I didn't teach her. She does form words-something to the effect of "Hey mommy, there's the baby kitty. He's so cute. So cute so cute so cute so cute baby baby kitty baby kitty,"-but the
effect is more of a high-pitched whale warble that drowns out all other frequencies.
He is an instant-purrining type of kitty. He sees her/us/anyone coming, presumably to love on him, and he starts the motor.
Carl: That's not actually baby fuzz. He is just vibrating that fast.
D'ya like ears that are too pointy and big for his head?? Haha. Shut up. I do not love him. We are not naming him. (Ranger? Shadow? Terrence?)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

In Which I Use My Wifey Voice

Carl: There's this canoe on Craig's List. It's only two hundred dollars.
Me: You know, we could really use two hundred dollars for other things that are not canoes. Like closing costs.

But. I want a canoe. I've wanted a canoe for a long time.

You know what you've also wanted for a long time? A house.

Carl: But...two hundred dollars is a really good price for a canoe. Don't you think that I work hard and deserve a canoe for the purpose of much-needed rest and relaxation?

I love you and I know that you deserve rest and relaxation. You know where you can rest and relax? A house. That you own.

.........You're really not going to help me justify this one, are you?

Me: Nope.


two days later*

I thought that if you wanted some fishing time or something, I would volunteer my services.

That would be awesome. Yes. When?

Me: We have a new canoe, don't we.


I would say that I need to work on the inflection of sour disapproval, but I know that he heard it. And I don't really mind. (Except that we really do need to be saving the dough for house stuff right now. Frack.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Wednesday Morning

Yesterday was the last half-day day for students. I saw every class (or, less than half of every class, because most of them brilliantly stayed home) for about 22 minutes each.

22 minutes is just enough time to show an episode of Invader Zim, high-five them goodbye, and clean up any of my leavings in the three classes where I taught this year. Not enough time to...*cough*...cry. (That was the whole ride home.)

I have three glorious days of boxing up my stuff and filling out paperwork and whatnot, before my job is officially over and I have to think about the next thing. It's kind of nice, but also kind of torture. These last few days are like the set-wrap after a play: cramming costumes into drycleaning bags and breaking down the scenery and sweeping props and makeup into dufflebags.... Except that set-wraps are accomplished in a few frenzied hours while everyone is still coming down from the high of the show, and we have to go to seminars about state standards and sign things about lockers. For three days. It is a terrible anti-climax. Particularly when I'm not sure if I'll have a job in the fall. Plus, we don't get the post-show kegger.

Also, when I gleefully set my alarm clock last night for five-forty-five instead of five-twenty, I accidentally set it for four-forty-five. The first day that I don't have to actually be there at seven thirty, and I wake up at FOUR FORTY FIVE!!!!! DAMNIT!!!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Wendy in Fairy Land

Fairy Festival in Glenn Rock, PA. Ever been? It rocks.

Lots of dred-lock-swinging college students and gypsy bands and hand-crafting artists. The people who host it actually use the money to fund the organic farm on the same grounds. They use the compost from the food court, too. They are great hippies.

Anyway, Wendy took all of this in like the proper child of wanna-be granola-munchers. She pet the alpacas from the alpaca rescue farm. She ate the organic ice cream. She built sand castles in the sand outlining the Native American medicine wheel. She appraised the sudden appearance of fairy wings sprouting from everyone's backs with very matter-of-fact observation. She commented on the very well-coordinated fairies, particularly. "Mommy, the I like the nice and purple girl." Those thigh-high neon pleather boots were begging for matching glitter wings. This isn't weird, mom, it's just thoughtful accessorizing.
We needed some nice, easy family time. Being surrounded by happy, earthy people helps to elevate our collective vibe. Hmm...this got me thinking summer thoughts....
Here's a picture of Wendy and I cuddling outside on our gypsy-band-watchin' blanket:
Here's a picture of Wendy, in her words, "trip-trappin over the bad troll bridge."

(Lest you think that she is scared of the bad troll, I must inform you -as per her request- that she trip-trapped back and forth over the bridge at least ninety four times before we were allowed to move on to another major attraction.)