Sunday, November 30, 2008

His Hazel Eyes

Sometimes when I'm not expecting Number Two to be looking in my direction, his huge hazels make me jump. They don't blink. There are no lines in the vellum of his eyelids as they open with an intensity to which I'm not accustomed. His whole face--yellowish tan, with undertones of red--is pulled taut by the stretch of two enormous eyes. Nobody else looks at me like that. Nobody else cranes his neck when I am gone, always stretching, always searching, for me.

I can see in him the mama's boy, now and forever, when his gaze reaches me but his spastic wiggle won't. In those moments, the smoothness of new skin creases into wrinkles like age. His voice opens to a wail. He wants to hold onto me, but only his neck, and above that a mouth and two great eyes, are under his control.

In my arms he is quiet again, and no longer wizened, as if my touch has the smoothing power of a quick caress over a rumpled sheet. I smell the baby mixture of soap and tears and milk on the fluff of his head. I say "shhh" over and over because it is natural, not necessary. I sway and I shush. He is wide-eyed in my arms.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Apathetic Anonymous

I've blogged every day so far this month. This is no small feat considering I wrote only 60 posts over the course of the ENTIRE YEAR before November rolled around.

NaBloPoMo is designed to help make blogging a habit by motivating writers to crank out posts every day, including weekends, for thirty days. It's great in theory. But the way my mind works, a habit is only worthwhile if it makes me fat and drunk and gives me cancer. Blogging every day? It's like jogging. These are dangerous gateway exercises. Next thing you know, I'll be running a marathon and writing a novel.

Seriously, though. I'm way past making promises that I'm going to keep up this kind of prolificity. I didn't even announce my participation in NaBloPoMo this time around, so leery was I of embarrassing myself like I did last year when I flaked out on November 22 and didn't write again for five days. One of my biggest failings is lack of motivation. Admitting it is not my problem--it's finding the will within myself to actually get moving on the road to productivity.

I feel good when I blog regularly. I make fleeting moments last. I make friends. I make myself a better writer. Why wouldn't I make regular posting a priority? Oh, right. Because I'm lazy.

It's my third year in a row trying to set the blogging habit. Maybe it's the charm. I do feel energized, I can honestly say that. Time will tell if all the positive outcomes of regular blogging are enough to kick my lazy ass into gear.

But first, I've got to make it through this month. One day at a time.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Get Back To Me After My Teeth Come In

We are a happy family...

...except for Numbr Two, who is surly.
"Don't go there. Just don't go there."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Thanksgiving Authority

My mother woke early this morning to put the turkey in the oven. The Boss padded down the stairs about three hours after that. For a half hour longer, The Partner and I remained in bed, where we heard mumbled utterings from downstairs amidst the aroma of coffee grinds and turkey drip. Without knowing what preceded it, we heard The Boss plaintively state "I'll have to ask my daddy about that."

The padding came up the stairs this time, and then The Boss was in our room. The Partner pulled the sheet over his head and pretended not to be there. It's their game. The Boss giggled when I asked her where her father was. She pulled the sheet off him and got straight to the business at hand.

"Daddy, nana said today is Thanksgiving, but I told her I had to ask you."

I stifled my laughter. I couldn't see The Partner's face, but it's safe to assume there was gloat there. "Yes," he assured her. "Today is Thanksgiving."

The Boss was satisfied. "Oh, okay." She turned on the tiny, round ball of her heel and started back toward nana. "Gotta dash."

The Partner turned toward me and we both lifted our heads from the pillow with raised eyebrows. His arched with superiority, mine with amusement. He spoke with only the slightest tinge of irony.

"It ain't Turkey day till I say it is."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Boss's Cold Shoulder

The other day I was sitting on my circular swivel love seat with a child in each arm. The weight of them there against me had to be one of the best feelings in the world. Pillows of faux suede beneath us emphasized the softness of the moment. My legs were laid in front of me on the chair in a bent up sort of "N." My babies were single quotation marks snuggled up against me.

It was sweet but unremarkable until Number Two reached out across my chest to grab The Boss's hand. For ten unbelievable seconds, she let him hold her. She, who does her best to avoid any contact with the physical reminder that she is no longer the sole source of her parents' affection. She, who remembers to resent him only when he needs my attention, settling for ignoring him the rest of the time. While I held my breath, she let his grip, strong as silk but less slippery, wind itself around her fingers. Then she shook him off and I exhaled. Her mouth set in a line of distaste. She wiggled her shoulders as if shaking him off.

Her coldness was off-putting, but I tried to understand. I took heart in the heat of ten seconds of unity and decided that it was enough, for now. I leaned into her and rubbed the side of my head against hers. She held onto me with both arms.

It's a long winter coming. I'm sure she'll realize somewhere along the line that it'll be better to warm up to him than to freeze.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Looking for Daisy in Long Lost Detroit

I saw in my periphery the slow, automated descent of a Cadillac trunk lid and I felt a pang in my chest. Some people feel this when they see newborn babies, or a sunset, or the first of a five course meal being delivered to their table on a tray. Me, I get palpitations at the sight of a 90s-era Cadillac STS with a Northstar engine.

I had one, once. Her name was Daisy. She was born in 1993 and showed up in my parents' driveway circa 2000, the year I graduated college. She was shiny then. She was not dented or missing side panels in the way she would quickly become accustomed to once I slid behind the wheel. The leather seats were only beginning to show rear-wear in the driver and front passenger seat when I took ownership. The dashboard arched in front of me with luxurious architecture. She was sublime. I required only two years to drive her into the ground. Each stop on the journey through my milestones--my first job, my first apartment, my first trip halfway across country for a weekend-long outdoor concert--was another nail in her coffin.

I cried the day someone paid $700 for the privilege of hauling her off in a flatbed. It was a steal. The engine alone was worth more than that. But she had a phantom battery problem which necessitated near constant jumping and left me broken down on the side of the road at the whim of AAA almost daily. Many tried to fix it, and many failed. Then there was the issue of extensive body damage that came from her up close and personal relationship with curbs, guardrails and concrete barriers all over New England. Cheapened almost beyond recognition, she hung her headlights in shame and she died. Repeatedly.

I have a plan. As soon as I have enough money, I will buy another 1993 Cadillac STS with a Northstar engine. Black, with a tan interior. I will keep her in our garage and I will drive her monthly to keep the oil pumping in her veins. Then, when I am retired and old and Daisy II is recognized by all as the classic wonder I always knew her to be, The Partner and I will travel New England, from car show to car show, on a wave of American-made nostalgia. We will be very grumpy; Daisy II will be the same as she ever was. She will remind us what it was like to be young and free and powerful.

I don't ever want to lose that again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Best Little Spa and Massage in Connecticut

I live in a small, rural town on the eastern side of Connecticut. We've got farms and Big Pharm. We've got elderly residents who've been here for decades and young transplants with money to spend. We don't have a high school or a supermarket. Our local park is a chain link enclosure built around one tire swing and a glorified litterbox in which children like to dig with shovels. We don't have an official post office building. But what we do have is an establishment on the second floor of a shady building in the center of town that recently unfurled a shingle reading "[Insert name of Eastern medicinal plant here] Spa and Massage." I would type the actual name, except that it might draw some local Internet traffic I'd rather steer clear of. Currently the business has no Internet presence--via its own Web site or Yellow Pages listing--that I can find.

Maybe it's legitimate. I don't want to cast aspersions. But I can tell you that few people I know from around town are truly entertaining that option. Of course, nobody is admitting to having found out for sure, either. The Partner offered to take one for the team by checking it out himself. Probably at midnight on a Saturday. I patted him on the arm and said "sure." As my mother added when she heard about his offer, "like he has the time!"

Of course, I know that most anyone can put aside an hour in even the most hectic schedule for a rejuvenating rubdown if he is so inclined. And I know that a lot of people do. But that's all I know. I am extremely hazy on the details--which is why I'm so intrigued. I always want to find out more about the things I'm not supposed to know anything about.

Maybe I'm totally off base--although each time I think that I'm jumping to conclusions, another piece of evidence pops up to support the opposite. I just looked up the etymology of the Chinese plant for which the business is named and discovered it means "man root." I think one of my friends put it best:

"My guess is I won't be getting my eyebrows waxed there."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Still Learning

My first memory: I know this is my earliest memory because grandma died when I was two. Before that, she was frail on a living room recliner. There were plastic prongs in her nose. There was a long tube. She sat attached. I do not remember being unbelievably small, but I was. I think they told me to give her a hug. I think I cowered. They pushed against my pull-back. I was crying. Grandma was dying. I was two.

The best lesson my mom taught me was not to care what others think about me. When I was young and concerned with appearances, it was torture dealing with her lack of regard for such things. God, she was embarrassing. Now that I've grown a bit, I am grateful every day of my life that she taught me how unnecessary it is to carry the weight of other people's expectations.

The great thing I have in my life is very likely the same great thing you have.

As you get older, you should not neglect to pluck your chin hairs.

Men look great with shaved heads.

My whole life has been, to date, hopefully only a third of the sum total.

I call myself oblivious.

My last words will be the calm before the storm.

Happy Birthday to San Diego Momma, who turned 40 and celebrated with her take on Esquire Magazine's "What I've Learned" column with the above prompts. I don't believe she intended to turn it into a meme, but I figured taking it on and passing it along is as good a way as any to celebrate a birthday in the blogosphere.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sustaining This Mama's Boy

Photo by Toyfoto

He may look just like his father, but he still likes to look at me the best. I know it won't be this way forever. Right now I'm going to milk it for all it's worth.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Mother In Law

It is 11:43 and I have not yet posted for the day. Since I am participating in NaBloPoMo and am thus obligated to rectify the situation, here is a short recounting of what The Partner just informed me of as we sipped our respective alcoholic beverages:

"I remember when I told my mom I was going to ask you to marry me. She said, 'Is she pregnant?'"

I guess that says more than I could ever write.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Six Months Sitting

Number Two sat by himself for the first time today. I use the term "himself" loosely. There was a half minute of preparation during which I batted him back and forth between my two hands in an effort to find balance never before employed. Eventually he stayed where I left him. He bobbed neither right, left or face-first. I laid him back on the ground and ran for the video camera after waiting a few seconds to make sure it wasn't a fluke.

Once back in place with the camera at hand, I worked the weeble for a few seconds until he was again upright (that could be a good euphemism if I wasn't talking about MY SON, you perverts!). Each time I went to bring the camera to my eye, he'd begin to loll. It took a few tries to get all processes in line. I pressed Record.

He sat there looking cute. I began to narrate. "He's sitting! For the first time ever!" Then, as quickly as it had materialized, my pride was squashed by my need to contextualize his accomplishment. "At a few days shy of 7 months old, I guess he's not the most advanced kid on the playground..."

Number Two must have been offended by my deprecating diatribe, because he chose just that second to topple backward. He landed with a head-clunk against the file cabinet. Oops. He began to wail. I pressed Stop. "Shhhh," I sang sheepishly, scooping him up and cuddling him against me. "Shhh." I guess I should've placed him a little further away from the solid objects.

It occurred to me then that certain facets of his advancement, or lack thereof, were in my hands, and this kind of head trauma was unlikely to further the cause. It also did not escape my notice that I'd just given myself another example of my stunted growth as a parent.

Sometimes I get so caught up in the race for my child to be the smartest, the quickest, the best, that I forget where he's coming from. I mean, with a mom like me, he's got to be at a decided disadvantage.

I'm something of a late bloomer myself.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Tonight I changed The Boss's sheets, smoothing flannel over a layer of egg crate and fluffing out the comforter. I took the scalloped edge of the top sheet and folded it over the comforter, then, like my mother used to do, I folded that edge on a slant.

It was the perfect pocket for The Boss to wiggle into. Like an envelope, the bed was an invitation. I resisted the urge to crawl in. As I looked at my daughter, I thought back to when that three year old was me, bone weary from a day of being curious and unencumbered, eager to let the powder of my skin seep into the mattress as words from my favorite book floated above me. Back then I was blissfully dependent.

In a bit I will change the sheets on the queen bed that is mine and The Partner's. I'll smooth flannel over egg crate and I'll fluff out the comforter. I'll take the edge of the top sheet and fold it over the duvet, then, like my mother used to do, I'll fold that edge on a slant.

It won't be the perfect pocket and I won't wiggle. Instead I'll slide in with limbs heavy from caring and commitment. I'll read a book to myself. And as I begin to nod off, it will be with a snore of acknowledgement that the weight of thirty years was once the air of safety around a three year old's deeply sleeping hush.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It Must Have Been Something She Ate

This has been a dog shit day. The Partner is mad at me again. The Boss was in hysterics from the moment she woke until I strapped her into her seat in the pre-school carpool. Later, I drove around in a completely useless 5 mile circle when I couldn't remember at whose house I was supposed to drop off the sweet potatoes for the Thanksgiving baskets my mother's group is donating to some families in town that need them.

Lest the previous examples lead you to believe I am being overly dramatic with my use of the term "dog shit," here's the chocolate icing on the cake of my day: our dog pooped in my car.

It's not the pit bull diarrhea that's bringing me down. It's not the wasted gas or The Boss's tantrums. Mainly it's the fact that The Partner and I can't get along. Our moments of harmony are random and fleeting. It's always been that way. I could say that maybe we're the kind of couple that thrives on dischord, but that's probably just more dog shit in the steaming pile. The truth is I don't understand the motivation either of us has for living the way we do, for not doing anything about it, and for having no plans to fix ourselves. Maybe we're too focused on blaming each other to work on our own contributions to the dynamic. Maybe I'm too lazy. Maybe he's too busy.

Really, today's been a day like most others. That's what a new friend of mine didn't realize when she saw my frazzled state, compared it to the similar look I've exhibited so often this month, and suggested that maybe December would be better for me. I told her I doubted it.

The only difference between today, last week, and three years ago is the literal manifestation of my dog's intestinal distress. In spraying it all over the floor of my car, she gave me the perfect metaphor around which to frame this post.

Monday, November 17, 2008

As We Approach the Season of Giving...

I went to the My Pictures folder on Troy (that's my computer's name), clicked on the sixth folder and then opened up the sixth image within that folder. I did this all because Whirlwind told me to. She further instructed me to explain the details of the image and then tag five others.

This is a card from the collection of IOUs I designed as a gift for The Partner upon our fourth wedding anniversary this past July. The small booklet was filled with coupons for favors of all kinds. (I was glad when this meme asked me to recount the third card in this series instead of the sixth. That would've been embarrassing. And yet, it would've been so good for my sitemeter. But I digress.) Some other examples of the IOUs housed in this folder include "One Win Free Argument" and "One Homemade Dessert."

The creative bent of this gift was necessitated by the fact that I don't really contribute much to the financial situation here at home. To have used The Partner's money to buy him his own present just seemed pretty ridiculous. (Yes, I know. It's supposed to be "our" money. But if you really believe that, then let me point you in the direction of a vendor up on the Brooklyn Bridge who's hawking cotton candy, unicorns, and that big platform over the East River on which he stands.) The Partner is a frugal man who does not buy frivolous things for himself--nor would he appreciate his wife using his money to buy frivolous things for him.

Without cash money of my own, I am left with words and promises. On other occasions, I have collected the blog posts I wrote that pertained to The Partner and published them in hardcover form thanks to I've thrown him a party. I made these IOUs.

I am quickly running out of creative ideas.

I think I need a job.


I'm not tagging anyone in particular, but I hope some of you will try the meme anyway.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What Day is It, Anyway?

I sat down at my computer just now and noticed that the wall calendar hanging in front of me is still open to the month of August. I guess I got distracted. Four months went by when I wasn't looking.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Meta Saturday

I logged on today to find three of my favorite bloggers lamenting their lack of posting. Each one, like me (or is it like I? Like myself? Dear God, take these hormones and give me back my grammar!) has recently acquired the time suck (and judging from my sentences, brain suck) of a new child. On its face, it is kind of cool that we're all going through this at the same time. There's relatability and commiseration. There's a fullness that comes from being able to contextualize someone else's situation simply by calling on one's own. Unfortunately, all this communing takes time--time none of us has.

Not only do I have difficulty finding the time to post--though I am NaBloPoMoing my ass off--I also have precious little time to visit other blogs. Often I will end up reading a week's worth of a given blogger's posts in one sitting. In the case of the aforementioned writers, this works out well because they are on my schedule. But otherwise I feel as if I am fading away from the bigger mothuh blogging community.

But reading these posts today reinforces the fact that I'm not alone. Everything moves fast, often in a circle. So I trust they'll be back and I'll be back and through it all--the everday posts and the weeks-long droughts and the manic bursts of commenting and the days we have nothing to add--we'll still have snippets of life to save for our children. And maybe to save us.

Friday, November 14, 2008

She's Still My Baby, For Now

The Boss was hysterical at the top of the stairs. Tears poured from her eyes while mucous like runny amber congealed on her upper lip. She was too spastic to listen, too tired to act. She just stood there, looking down at me, and bawled.

"Come down here now!" I demanded. I was at the end of my rope. It was 8:30 in the evening and The Partner had yet to complete his 2.5 hour commute home. A line of tension traversed my shoulder blades with a dull ache. In front, my chest was tight too. "Now!" I shrieked.

The Boss made her descent, hobbling slow, not letting her gaze leave mine. She was pouty and hurt. She was dependent on my good will, on my hugs. I started out glaring, but there was something in her face at that very moment that changed my perception.

Time in my mind's eye sped forward ten years, maybe fifteen, and suddenly her legs were less colt-like; they were curvy. She was tall and beautiful. The pout was there, but not the downturn at the corners of her eyes that demanded my love with the ferocity of three new years. I saw independence and the first gel of experience. I saw it. I am not embellishing for the sake of the written word. I'm not conveying a metaphor. As she came down those stairs toward me, so draining and drained, I saw not what was there at that moment, but the hint of what was coming: the day she no longer realized she needed me.

I let it all go. The frustration. The pull from so many directions. I stood right where I was. The Boss stepped into my arms and I held her to me, hefting her frame around my waist. She fit so differently than she used to, than her brother does now. I laid my chin on her shoulder.

"I'm growing," she said. She was happy now, safe and sound. That's all it took. Like a kiss on a boo boo. That's all. "I'm growing!"

I pulled my head back, shook it, and stared at her, our wide eyes matching. At first I wondered if she was reading my thoughts. Was I so transparent? Was she so wise? Then that split second of confusion passed and I knew her words were mine. I remembered that I say it every time I pick her up these days. It's the first thing I think as I collect her gangly parts into one tight package against my chest. It's the first thing I say.

"You're growing." With an umph I arrange her legs, one on each hip, and jostle her backside to a comfortable perch atop the pad of baby fat on my abdomen. Her solidity is pressing and new. "I can't believe it, how you're growing."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Book Bondage

The Partner is reading a book! The Partner is reading a book! I feel like a line of little people, circa 1939, should be wielding large lollipops and chanting it: The Partner is reading a book!

This is noteworthy because the main man in my life has not seen fit to peruse the printed page for the past ten years. The impetus for the change is simple: he has a 5-hour round-trip commute each day, half of which is spent on the train. He now has time to feed his brain the old-fashioned way, with words black as licorice on pages that send up the subtle tang of fine, fine wood pulp. It is delicious.

I sent him out the door with Nelson Demille's Plum Island in hardcover. It's about a wounded New York City homicide detective looking into murders at the biological testing facility on the tip of Long Island. If you told me I should've eased him into the pleasures of the page with something a bit shorter, or with larger print, or featuring comic book characters, I will admit that you may be right. But I am much more eager than that. I may be jumping the gun, but I want to be able to discuss with him plot, characterization, style, truth-vs-fiction, and all the elements that swirl around my head when my favorite writers weave their tales.

It was a ballsy move for another reason. Our last Demille discussion went horribly awry when he threw the audio copy of Night Fall the length of his truck as we barrelled down I-95 en route Virginia to visit a friend. The book discussed TWA Flight 800, a doomed airliner that fell out of the sky over Long Island on July 17, 1996, killing all 230 on board. It brought out the conspiracy theorist in me and, as I began to wax iconoclastic on him, he lost no time, but a lot of patience, in lambasting my ideas about government cover-ups. We weren't more than fifteen minutes into the audio (peppered with my militia-mentality observations) when he sent the tape flying.

Now that I think about it, I'm not sure why I want him to read books. Or why I want to talk about them with him. Very few of our discussions about other matters end up well, why should this be any different? I guess I'm just a glutton for punishment. A great big bibliophilic masochist.

The Partner is reading a book!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This is Me

Which someecard best represents you? Post a link in the comment section if you're inclined to share .

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Diversion

This is my second foray into PROMPTuesdays, a creative writing venture hosted by San Diego Momma that offers exercises to be written in ten minutes in less than 150 words. I was reminded of its existence by Slouching Mom.



I thrust my fingers--shriveled from cold--into his elegant grip as we followed the hill away from church. He wore a wool jacket that hung straight until it belled out slightly at his knees. There were no wrinkles. There were no misplaced creases. There was no cat fur, either, or stray strands of yarn or lint or my blond hair or any of the things that attach to wool coats whenever I wear them. He was refined in presentation but obviously not at heart.

I traced a fat vein that traversed his wrist like an ink spill. It was as if his blood pumped harder to fight the chill. I pushed up against him while we walked, my hip against wool and thigh. His stride matched the blue-black beat in his veins. That darkness was everywhere. The rolls of land had been green, yellow, red, and earthy brown only a month before. Now there was the blue sheen of a dry mist, like weather on an unprotected painting.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Finding Common Ground in the DVD Aisle

The Partner and I found time in the midst of his busy schedule to sit down together to watch a DVD he selected. I asked him to pick it. Sometimes my optimism astounds me. I should have remembered that our differences are never more apparent than when viewed through the boob tube.

The movie this weekend was Mel Gibson's Apocalypto. Truly, it would have to be the eve of said Apocalypse for me to willingly sit through this movie. It is not that I am opposed to blood, guts, and nakedness. In fact, some of my favorite movies come from Rob Zombie's red and oozing inspiration. What I can't abide is reality. Once I believe that there is any sense of history or it-could've-really-happened-ness to a film, then I begin to lose the ability to dissociate.

I don't like feeling sad and hopeless and convinced that human nature is depraved. I used to. In fact, I watched cable news almost 24/7 between 2001 and 2005. But then I had children and realized that these world ills were ones that could come home to affect my own family. I had become wholly invested in people other than myself. The misery of the daily news was no longer something I could watch in a detached manner. I came to the conclusion that my sense of cultural masochism was going to have to call out its safe word.

At first The Partner was pissed when I gave up on him after only 15 minutes of Mel's latest and greatest.

"Can you really blame me?" I asked. "It's not like this is exactly easy to take." I waved the DVD case in front of him and shrieked out snippets from the description on the back. "'Nonstop action'! 'Adrenaline soaked'! 'Heart racing'! Do you know what that all means? It means people are going to keep on dying!"

He looked at me like I was a lost cause. He turned back to the movie. I retired to the Internet.

Not much later, I began to miss The Partner's company and decided to give the movie another go. I settled in next to him on our rotating love seat. He informed me that none of the good guys had died since I left. As he said that, I looked at the screen to see a freshly severed head bouncing down the steps of a Mayan pyramid. A few seconds later its body followed suit, only with more thud than bounce. I rolled my eyes, unfolded my legs from under me, and once again left the room.

I'm only slightly sorry that The Partner has to deal with my skittish movie watching habits. Mostly I think he needs to suck it up. I mean, it's not that bad--we still have one genre we can agree on. I'd rather laugh at a comedy than watch action-adventure scenes through the gaps in my fingers as I cover my eyes with my hands. That's just where I am right now.

At least we'll always have Office Space.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Following up on Friday's post about the blue state of my hair, here is a glimpse at what I look like normally and what I look like now:

BEFORE (September)

AFTER (today)

I wear that shirt a lot, I guess.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Searching For the Next Great American Protagonist

A lighthearted meme for your weekend enjoyment, courtesy of Holly. I dare you to beat the awesomeness of my stripper name (#6).

1. ROCK STAR NAME (first pet, current car): Lady Cadillac

2. GANGSTA NAME (fave ice cream flavor, favorite type of shoe): Cookie Dough Wedge

3. NATIVE AMERICAN NAME (favorite color, favorite animal): Blue Dog

4 SUPERHERO NAME (2nd favorite color, favorite drink): Yellow Bourbon

5. NASCAR NAME (the first names of your grandfathers): Frank Philip

6. STRIPPER NAME (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy): Gasoline Milk Duds

7. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME (your fifth grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter): McGee Massapequa

8. SPY NAME (your favorite season/holiday, flower): Summer Daisy

9. CARTOON NAME (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now): Raisin Nursing Bra

10. HIPPIE NAME (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree): Coffee Birch

Oh, the characters. Now I just need a plot.

You should try it. And you, too.

Friday, November 07, 2008

With Hair as Blue as The State of Connecticut, or, A Change Is Gonna Do You Good

When I get restless, my hair often takes the fall. First the cut, then the color. Phase one went down several months ago when I had the hairstylist shorten my coif from shoulder length to some point between chin and ear. I looked like a mushroom or a circumcised penis. Choose your analogy.

It grew out a little and I grew content. Then I got bored again. Yesterday, seemingly out of nowhere, I decided to pick up some hair color. It was as black and shiny as a "Starry Night." I put it on my light brown hair and waited. Then I rinsed and conditioned and then rinsed and towel dried, all with the flutter of expectation. When the blackness was unveiled, I said "eh." And I was happy enough. It wasn't beautiful but it was different. Sometimes I like to look in the mirror and be shocked more than I like to look in the mirror and be satisfied with what I see.

In the car on my way to pick up The Boss from pre-school I looked in the visor's mirror to find the light playing strange tricks on me. I began to worry that the color hadn't taken in some spots. Once The Boss was secured in her seat, we tooled off to Rite Aid to buy more color. In the mirror over the sunglasses display, however, I began to doubt my doubt. The locks looked solid and black under the fluorescence.

"Excuse me," I said to a young woman with frizzy hair and acne and a tag over her right bazoom with a name on it I've since forgotten. "I dyed my hair earlier today and now I'm worried that it still shows some of my original color. See here? Is there any brown?"

She peered through metal-framed glasses at my head. Her nose lifted ever so slightly as her eyes crossed over its bridge. "No, I don't think so. It doesn't look brown." Her face narrowed and pursed. "But it looks...well, it looks blue. Is it supposed to look blue?"

For a split second, I hesitated. Then I flipped my wrist in a gesture of nonchalance."Eh, that's fine." I wasn't asking her about blue. Blue was not a concern. "So you're saying there's no brown, right?"


That was settled. I nodded to her and then flounced over to The Boss, who was ogling the nail polish selection, having decided that her fingernails needed their own change. I looked at the array of bottles and then at the colorless nubs of her chewed fingers. I saw the attraction.

The Boss grabbed the long neck of a pale pink bottle and pulled it from its line toward the left of the plastic display spectrum. Her chest swelled with anticipation as she held it up to me. "Can I get it?" she asked, her voice breathless and sweet.

I checked the price and, when I saw that it was only .99 cents, I had to say yes. But the color was so muted. So blah. "Are you sure you want that shade?" I asked. After a quick scan of the bottles before us, I grabbed "Fuschia Shock" and held it up against her "Polyester Pink Creme."

"I love pale pink," The Boss said decisively.

My shoulders shrugged into a head-shake that made my blue hair sway. I put back the fuschia. As we walked down the aisle toward the registers, The Boss clutched her bottle of pink conservatism in one hand while I held onto the other hand. I wondered if she'd eventually grow bolder or if her personality was destined to stay refined. I wondered if she'd always be content with pretty or would come to appreciate, like I do, things that are startlingly bright.

Later that night The Partner came home to his two changed women. He looked at The Boss's painted fingers and told her she looked beautiful in pale pink. When he looked at me, the compliments did not flow so freely. After some silence and then some filler, he finally said what he felt he had to: "It looks...nice."

I raised my eyebrows in a way that warded off his humoring of me. "Eh," I said. "It's different. That's all I was going for." And then I pulled out some pots and pans for dinner and began the daily routine, satisfied for now that the only thing that had changed was my hair color.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Holiday tales from Positive Spin Press

When I was little, it was the stories that made the holidays real for me. I had one treasury of Christmas stories that told of Baboushka, an elderly woman who roams the earth every December 24th, leaving a toy on the bed of each child in her search for the Christ child. It became all the more magical when I would awake on Christmas morning to a small gift at the foot of my bed. My very own toy from Baboushka.

One of the things I look forward to when it comes to sharing the holidays with my own children is finding the stories that will come to shape their own memories of the days throughout the year that give us something speical and collective to anticipate. The Parent Bloggers Network facilitated the delivery of three such stories to my door when I agreed to review the holiday books from Positive Spin Press.

Created around a toy-making fairy named Eve, the books are titled All Hallow's Eve: The Story of the Halloween Fairy; Christmas Eve: The Joy of Giving; and Winter's Eve: Love and Lights. The latter is a compilation of seven winter traditions from around the globe, including Hannukah, Kwanzaa, and Diwali.

I could tell from the way The Boss's eyes darted back and forth over the pages in a continuous assessment that she found a lot to like in the illustrations. A patch of gape-mouthed Jack-o-Lanterns and a scene of costumed fairies at a party were two of her favorites in All Hallow's Eve. In Winter's Eve, the pictures opened her eyes to cultural traditions she had never seen--some of which were not familiar to me, either.

The rhyming text was fun to read and pleasing to The Boss's ear, though at some points I had to struggle a bit to find the right cadence.

My favorite of the series is Christmas Eve, which brought me back to my own childhood. The book did not shy away from the religious meaning behind the holiday, which has become a novelty in today's secularized marketplace. The story of baby Jesus is swaddled up inside the main plot, which involves the elves becoming polka-dotted with Elfpox, requiring Santa and Nana Claus to seek out Eve's help.

I'd recommend these books because they encourage excitement and discovery around the holidays. Each one has a message. All Hallow's Eve is an introduction to Halloween and a reinforcement that it is about sharing, not just guzzling sweets. Christmas Eve bridges the stories of Santa and the nativity and tells readers that love and appreciation are gifts, too; and Winter's Eve endeavors to expand children's knowledge of cold-weather celebrations the world over.

If only there was a Thanksgiving tale included in the Positive Spin library. Despite all the Christmas carols already blaring from the speakers at retail stores everywhere I go, I'd welcome the chance to slow down between Halloween and Christmas to talk some turkey as part of my daughter's bedtime book ritual. I know that New Year's Eve is coming out in 2010--we'll have to wait to see how the husband and wife team of Lisa and Tucker Johnson approach all the other holiday plot potential offered throughout the year.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

This Mother's Thoughts on the 2008 Presidential Election, or, The Breast America Has to Offer

All day "America" has been uttered in tones of reverence that haven't been heard for a long time. There's pride where it had depleted to almost non-existent levels. The United States, in its constant forward stride, has evolved more freely, fully and fast than many dared dream.

When I woke up this morning I did not know it would be to a feeling of national security. I thought I'd be afraid that the president-elect would not make our defense enough of a priority, that he wouldn't be tough enough, that he couldn't be hard if he had to be. And maybe I still think those things. But what I didn't expect to experience was the overwhelming sense of safety that comes from being truly united. It's not that no harm can befall us; it's that we won't fall if it does. Today, Obama as a decision maker seems less historic to me than Obama as a man. He has pulled jagged and disjointed edges of our map into a well-rounded swell on the globe.

After 9/11, I found solace in the way we pulled together as a nation. I feel the same comfort today. That this fierce national pride came from something good instead of something so incomparably horrible makes it that much more joyful. It gives me that much more hope.

Today we can all be who we are, thanks in no small part to this landmark presidential race. Obama, Biden, McCain and Palin have all taught us different lessons about what it means to be an American in this day and age. Sometimes the lessons come in strange places. I got one earlier this afternoon outside the cafeteria at IKEA.

Nursing my son in a leather armchair arrayed in an informal lounge setup, I tried to keep myself covered despite having forgotten a blanket to throw over my shoulder. The teeth of my zipper bit at Number Two's cheek as I tried to keep my jacket over his face. The effort wasn't altogether successful, and I looked up nervously as an elderly man walked over in search of a catalog. I told him I didn't know where they were. He nodded, smiled and turned to walk away. Then I heard his voice behind me.

"Excuse me, ma'am. I don't mean to intrude." He was back in my field of vision, smiling beneath a white fluff of fuzz circling his pate.

I jerked my jacket back over the baby's face and tried to look friendly through my distraction.

"I wanted to tell you I saw Sarah Palin doing that," he said. The man nodded toward my son, who was oblivious to the world in the face of his late morning snack. At first I was confused, but then I saw it was approval radiating from the man's face, round and rosy like Santa's. "Feeding her baby right there, on national television."

I smiled back, and I nodded. That's what I do as a place saver because information doesn't usually process right away. But, as the conversation slowly settled into my gray matter, a genuine grin stretched my mouth up into my cheeks. I saw a natural acceptance that this stranger was able to put in context, and articulate, through Trig. The positive acknowledgement of public motherhood was novel. I almost laughed with the lightness of it.

I knew then--a realization lit by the fluorescent glow of overhead lights bouncing off metallic finishes--that no one person, no one party, has a lock on change. We've made it together to where we are today.

"My daughter did it, too," the squat, jolly gent said as he turned again to resume his departure. "Nothin' wrong with that. Nothin' wrong with that."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Everyone Poops

So this is what it's like to be the elephant in the momosphere. I'm leather folds of gray tonnage lumbering across a landscape filled with more sprightly and adaptable beasts of burden. All around me hind quarters are kicking up a chorus line. There is so much braying that I couldn't hear a hoo if I wanted to. It's a grand caravan. It's a high flying party. I may be bringing up the rear, but I'm heading toward change just the same.

And do you know what?

We're all leaving the same trail. Everyone poops, my friends. Everyone poops.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Nicest Goddamn Dame That Ever Lived

I found out about this quiz from Chicky Chicky Baby (aka Ingrid), who said its accuracy was "kinda spooky." I have to concur. Try it out and see. Who knew that one could come up with a complete character assessment via two multiple choice questions. I sure didn't. But then again, I'm an English major not well acquainted with probabilities, statistics or logic.

I'm a...



You are a Bette -- "I must be strong"

Bettes are direct, self-reliant, self-confident, and protective.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * Stand up for yourself... and me.

  • * Be confident, strong, and direct.

  • * Don't gossip about me or betray my trust.

  • * Be vulnerable and share your feelings. See and acknowledge my tender, vulnerable side.

  • * Give me space to be alone.

  • * Acknowledge the contributions I make, but don't flatter me.

  • * I often speak in an assertive way. Don't automatically assume it's a personal attack.

  • * When I scream, curse, and stomp around, try to remember that's just the way I am.

What I Like About Being a Bette

  • * being independent and self-reliant

  • * being able to take charge and meet challenges head on

  • * being courageous, straightforward, and honest

  • * getting all the enjoyment I can out of life

  • * supporting, empowering, and protecting those close to me

  • * upholding just causes

What's Hard About Being a Bette

  • * overwhelming people with my bluntness; scaring them away when I don't intend to

  • * being restless and impatient with others' incompetence

  • * sticking my neck out for people and receiving no appreciation for it

  • * never forgetting injuries or injustices

  • * putting too much pressure on myself

  • * getting high blood pressure when people don't obey the rules or when things don't go right

Bettes as Children Often

  • * are independent; have an inner strength and a fighting spirit

  • * are sometimes loners

  • * seize control so they won't be controlled

  • * figure out others' weaknesses

  • * attack verbally or physically when provoked

  • * take charge in the family because they perceive themselves as the strongest, or grow up in difficult or abusive surroundings

Bettes as Parents

  • * are often loyal, caring, involved, and devoted

  • * are sometimes overprotective

  • * can be demanding, controlling, and rigid

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz at HelloQuizzy

Sunday, November 02, 2008


You can't put a value on things like togetherness, when the company is welcome. Laughing freely and holding on at all costs. A family at the dinner table telling stories. Owing nothing to each other; owing everything for each other.

Wouldn't you know that The Partner and I finally came to a common marital understanding--bought and paid for by 4+ years of misinterpretation--just as he took a new job that will have him working 13 hour days. When we didn't want to have anything to do with each other, his schedule was open. Now that we do, I'll barely see him. And neither will the kids.

In this economy, there's little room for the luxuries money can't buy. Time as a family would be nice, but eating together is secondary to having food on the table. It'd be fun to take a trip, but the journey is secondary to having a car with gas in it. This is how we've chosen to live.

The Partner could've declined this new position on the other side of the state, but it would've been risky. Our was an unspoken agreement when we realized that now is not the time to get audacious. He has a good job that pays the bills. He'll try it out, waiting to see how the work goes and how the world turns. If he must commute each day, so be it. If he can work out some work-from-home scheduling, even better. But as long as the dollar is in such a state of flex, we've got to bend with it. At least for now.

Then we can reevaluate.


Thanks to Toyfoto for bestowing upon me the Kreativ Blogger award. A talented writer as well as photographer, she knows a thing or two about creativity. I am so flattered that she thought of me when passing the award along.

With the Kreativ Blogger badge came this dictate: share six things you value and six things you don't, then pass the award to six other bloggers. I took a kreativ stab at the first assignment in the section above (read: I honed in on a couple key words and then did what I wanted to do anyway). Below, I'll do the rest of the honors.

My picks:

(This) Girl's Gone Child - If you've been to her blog, you know why I think she's one of the most creative people around. If you haven't, then your first visit will clue you in pretty fast.

Things I Carry: Memoir - Lauren is a creative force that blows in like a constructive hurricane. She is able to sweep people up with her words and pictures in such a smooth way that it takes awhile before they realize they are being carried.

one plus two - jen looks at this world with eyes that see things not only as they are, but as they could be if people worked together to make the picture brighter and clearer. There is creativity in the vision and in the way she shares it.

i obsess. - Debbie is one creative motherfucker. There is nothing linear about her. She is so imaginative it hurts.

Motherhood Uncensored - Kristen turned blogging into a business according to several inventive models.

My Mom Genes - Duff and Fitz, the duo behind this relatively new blog, have taken on the mission of assuring new mothers everywhere that they are not crazy or alone. Their unique viewpoints combine to make us realize we're not so different after all.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Parental Prerogative

When it comes to parenthood, there’s not a single way to act or a lone way to feel. From the first day a mother-to-be sees the vast selection of pre-natal vitamins arrayed before her, it is apparent that this whole with-child thing is about choice.

Formula or breast milk? Ferber or the Family Bed? Robeez or Pediped? Becoming a parent is one decision that will be made over and over for the rest of your life.

My husband likes to think that he has control over everything. His actions are dictated by rational thought. With the birth of our first child, he did not automatically feel the intense emotional bond that is touted everywhere from Kodak commercials to a grandmother’s cribside coos. Nor did I. Part of the reason may have been the emergency c-section under general anaesthesia for which neither of us was present (he, physically; me, consciously). But more than than that, it is the fact that people can come at one universal experience from very different directions, and can retreat on similarly varied paths.