Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Basement

Tara suggested I take a picture of the basement to prove it's hideousness and to ask your advice. I will gladly post a picture, but I suck at taking advice. Seriously, ask Eric. I always ask for advice and then do whatever stupid thing I had already decided to do anyway.


I don't think we'll do much right away besides paint. I'm thinking something in the dove gray family. Then we'll save our money up and buy one of those big Ikea corner couches and an entertainment center. And then someday when the kids aren't home, we'll throw all their crap away.

lots of unused, broken, plastic crap

the asshole Wii that called me fat
the boys' homage to war. maybe this is what's damaging my calm?
 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Resolution Numbers Two and Three and Four

Santa brought us a Wii for Christmas, and it has created a whole mess of problems that are going to require resolutions.

First, it is making me spend time in the basement. It's a finished basement, mostly. With laminate floors and drywall and stuff. But I haven't done anything with it in the three years that I've had the house. The walls are a poorly painted ugly shade of beige, the furniture is just all the mismatched crap that didn't fit anywhere else in the house, and it's full of big plastic storage bins full of large, plastic, mostly unused toys. It's unsightly. And I have a hang up that will not let me get comfortable in any room that I consider, by my unique sensibilities, unsightly.

Second, the Wii Fit has had the unmitigated gall to tell me I have the body of a 50-year-old fat ass. Now, I knew that my jeans size had been creeping up since the great breast feeding while starting my life over and forgetting to eat weight loss plan of 2007, but not having a functioning scale around the house has allowed me years of blissful denial of the cold hard facts. And if a Wii is anything it is cold and hard.

So here's where we come to the resolutions. In addition to the one I made last week about not being a douche to people in snowstorms (one), it seems that I will be spending some time in the basement trying to make the Wii eat its words (two), and in order to do that I will need to fix up the basement (three), but I'm broke and can't afford to decorate shit, so I need a new job (four).

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pantsless

I'm only sort of a single mom.

It's true in the sense that I am no longer married to my children's father. Nor am I married to anyone else. I'm not alone; Eric and I have been together for two years now, but since we each have two kids of our own, and every single one of them could be considered a handful, we don't do a lot of co-parenting.

The point I'm trying to make here is that when I have my kids, I have my kids. I've never hired a babysitter. Ever. I don't run to the grocery store without them, or go jogging, or go to work without loading them into the car and taking them to daycare-preschool-kindergarten.

But I did this morning. They are both starting new schools next week and are done with their old school, and Eric had a little free time and offered to hang out with them today.

So this morning I kissed my children goodbye as they sat on the couch in their pajamas watching cartoons and left the house for work. I guess I've done that once or twice before, but it still feels so weird.

Like I forgot something important at home. Like my wallet. Or my pants.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Nope

Still not over the writing funk (not the good kind of funk).

Nothing to see here.

Move along.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

No, thank you

I would rather not go back to real life tomorrow.

Eric and the boys on Christmas morning.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

In theory, I rock at wrapping presents. I plan out an elaborate theme at the beginning of shopping every year. All the papers complement each other. Tags, bows, all of it. Santa has different wrapping paper all together, of course. And then, since Lucas's birthday is Christmas Day, I have to have separate birthday paper for those gifts too.

So when I first start, each box is precisely wrapped, creased, tagged, and beribboned.  And then, as I get bored with the project, they start to deteriorate. A week goes by, and the gifts I wrapped tonight, with that last roll of paper - the roll that's huge and cheap, for wrapping those big boxes, the ones that could fit a full grown man, should I want to give one to my children - that shit's like trying to wrap a gift in toilet paper. And after a couple glasses of wine it looks like my three year old wrapped her own gifts.

She won't care of course.

And yet, on Christmas morning, as I sit in front of the fire, sipping my coffee and watching my kids tear into gift after gift,  I will cringe when I see these shoddily wrapped ones, and then sigh in relief as I ball up the toilet-papery paper and throw it on the fire.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Boogers

To get them to smile while we were snapping pictures, we encouraged them to do all the silly shit they wanted between the serious poses.


The caption for the one below would have Lucas saying, "Hey, I really got one."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Resolution Number One

Some people are nice and will give your car the nudge it needs to make it up the snowy hill you're stuck on. Some people will just drive around you.

I want to be the person who will give you a nudge on the bumper if you need it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Before and After

I had planned to get a really drastic haircut today. I was going to get it all cut to the length of the shortest layers, which would have left me with a bob, basically. So I took a before picture, so I could post the after and everyone would be all, Wow! What a difference.

 

But I chickened out and just ended up getting a couple inches off the ends. So the before and afters really just make it look like someone washed and brushed my hair.



And yes, I picked the blurry ones. So you can't see the third eye zit I've got brewing.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Anomaly

Tonight as I was clearing the table after dinner, Lucas came to me, demanding a chore. I had him help me with the dishes, clearing the table, unloading and reloading the dishwasher. He demanded another chore. We cleaned the entire bathroom (singing Frosty the Snowman.) And before he went to bed, he picked up Merry's markers.

I could get used to this, but I guess I'd like my real son returned to me anyway.

No questions asked.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hark

Right now I think it's adorable the way my kids are going around the house singing the Christmas carols that they learned in school. And I am shoving this warm feeling into my heart, because I know that in a few days I'm going to want to shove socks in their mouths.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Freedom

Eric shoveled for something like four hours today. I tried to help him for a while but he kept throwing snow at me, and I took that as a sign that he wanted to do it all himself.

I went inside and ate quacamole instead.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Aftermath


It snowed all day. I doesn't look like that much here, because the wind blew it all around, but that front step is three feet off the ground, and to take this picture I was standing in a drift up to my thighs.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tomorrow, Starring Me

I live in Minnesota and have for most of my life, though usually not by choice. I can't leave now unless I either abduct or abandon my children, and I think we can agree that neither of those is really an option.

I complain about it all the time, the passive aggressive mentality: an entire state full of people smiling at each other through clenched teeth. The suburban sprawl: sub-developments as far as the eye can see. But mostly the weather: the muggy summers thick with mosquitoes and deer flies and the long, cold, dark winters. Except for this one thing: I love blizzards.

The forecasters are predicting up to 20" of snow for tomorrow, with wind and bitter cold.

And I. can't. wait.

I look forward to blizzards with the giddy anticipation of a kid at Christmas. If I am snowed in, with nowhere I need to be, I can sit and drink coffee by the fire and watch the snow drift over my windows for hours. Gleefully.

The more dramatic the better. If I can't see my neighbor's house across the street, I do not live in a bungalow in post-war suburb. I live in a log cabin on the unsettled prairie. If can't jump in my car and go buy milk at Super Target, I have to fight my way to the barn and milk a cow. I might even have to help it give birth to a calf that's turned in the womb. No scratch that - I don't want to put my hand in a cow's vagina. Anyway, in a blizzard I am Caroline Ingalls. I am Sacagawea. I am mother fucking Julie Christie in Dr. Zhivago. 

This. This is Minnesota's saving grace in my eyes. Sure, most of the time it is a state made completely of margarine and white bread. But when the winter storms hit, there is drama. There is danger. There is purpose. And I am the heroine of the movie in my mind.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

These are things that happened yesterday

Eric got up early and went to Starbucks for me.

Eric gave me a lovely antique brooch and a book.

I went to work and my boss was out of town.

I sneezed and threw my back out.

I cried. It hurt.

I came home to find that the dogs had jumped up on counter, pulled down and eaten the pineapple upside down cake that Eric had made for me for my birthday, while also managing to turn on one of the burners of the gas stove.

The house did not burn down.

It was a good birthday.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Today is my birthday.

And in case you are visiting here today for the first time, you know, because the birthday fairies sent you to me, I thought I should have something for you to read. There have been a lot of photo posts lately, as December is busy and I'm in a writing funk. So here is a re-post of my first ever blog entry for you to enjoy.

MICE

To the best of my knowledge, I've never killed an animal. Not even with my car.

Well, I did go fishing with my dad when I was little, so that's probably not true, but you know what I mean. It's not just my bleeding-heart animal rights side either, although that's a big part of it. I think all things furry are adorable and deserve to live out their furry little lives without my interference. But I'm also totally creeped out by death. And suffering.

So when I bought my house last year and discovered that it was full of mice, I just resolved myself to peaceful coexistence. The mice mostly stayed in the basement, where I rarely go, and really only seemed to want to come inside during the colder months. I didn't see any sign of them at all last summer.

But this winter there seems to have been a population explosion. I blame myself. I left a big bag of bird seed in the laundry room for a few months and didn't realize that the mice were feasting on it. They must have told their friends. And then their friends invited their extended families and their extended families posted it on craig's list... Now I see signs of them everywhere. And I think you know what I mean by "signs".

I've decided that something needs to be done. I'm a pretty tolerant person, as far as grossness goes. I have two little kids so there's poop and snot aplenty at my house. I have two big dogs: again with the poop. But when there's mouse poop on my bedside table, I draw the line.

I consulted the experts (David), and was told there was no realistic way to do this in a humane (not killing them) fashion. Although I did entertain the idea of just using live traps and bringing them to work with me and letting them go there. (And honestly, I still haven't ruled that out.) So I tried to prepare myself to cause a death. Lots of them, actually. I lay awake at night trying to picture myself loading mouse traps. Worse yet, emptying mouse traps.

Then a few days ago, I woke up in the morning for work. I made coffee and went into the bathroom and turned on the shower, curtain closed, to heat up the water. I brushed the sleep tangles out of my hair and pulled back the shower curtain to see a little gray mouse standing on her hind legs, face into my steamy shower, gently swaying back and forth, in a way that I couldn't help but think looked every bit like she was totally enjoying herself.

I turned the shower off, went into the kitchen, grabbed a plastic bowl and scooped a very wet mouse out of the bathtub and just popped it out on the back steps. If I had had clothes on I probably would have walked out and put it in the shed. I went back to the bathroom and took my shower. The whole time worrying about the poor mouse that I had put outside in 10 degree weather, soaking wet. I fretted. I wished I had given her a chance to dry off, or at least put her outside wrapped in a towel.

I told myself that I was going to need to toughen up if I was going to rid my kitchen counter of mice and make it safe to keep the tomatoes out in a bowl again.

As soon as I got out of the shower I went and checked to see if by chance she was still out there. And if she had been, I very much think I would have brought her back inside.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

You are not connected to the Network

Our internet is down so I can't regale you with the story of the kids' school Christmas program today. But they were awesome, trust me

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Old Friends

We look all scary and undead because Eric's iphone flash blindingly illuminated the entire darkened room. (Galadriel should have given Frodo an iphone instead of the light of Earendil, cause then he could have tweeted his entire quest.)

We've been friends since we were toddlers and our birthdays are a week apart. This is the first time we've celebrated together since I was 14. I'm gonna have to go dig that old picture out.

I'm live blogging this

Hanging with my oldest, erm... earliest. first. friend Maya, celebrating our birthdays and reminiscing.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Namaste

Trying to pry myself out of this December funk, I returned, tail between my legs, to my you tube yoga routine tonight.

It's an easy tell. If my life is out of balance emotionally, I am physically out of balance as well  - I try to stand in warrior pose, and I tip over like a toppled redwood. I climb back up cursing at poor Sandie the Yogi and fall right down on my face again.

On my good days, I can power through this routine, breathing rhythmically, muscles shaky but strong. Today, I tumbled over repeatedly, hands slipping on the floor, head spinning, static crackling in my hair.

The only mercy - my internet connection is wonky tonight and I had to pause and re-load it several times, giving me breaks to find my bearings and breathe.

If only I could hit refresh in real life too.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I got nothin'

She's begging for the unpopped popcorn and driving me bonkers. I can't write under this kind of pressure.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Humbug

I am looking forward to December, as I do every year, with a combination of anticipation and dread. Christmas shopping, bad weather, and my 39th birthday can suck my Balzac.

But gullible kids who believe in Santa Claus almost make up for all that. Almost.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tonight's Project

We bought a new bookshelf and are taking the major relationship step of integrating our books. We will probably be up all night.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Here's what I learned about New York.

 New Yorkers really, really like to have long, in depth conversations about the best way to get from point A to point B. Whether it's by car or train, subway or street, they can talk for hours about the best routes to take to avoid traffic, reduce tolls and fares, and avoid the police.

They all think they know the best way, but they want to know which way you would go, so they can tell you why you're wrong.

Monday, November 22, 2010

She's a Dream

My three year old daughter Merry is having trouble in preschool.  Her teacher says she's smart, articulate, funny and creative, but if you ask her what color the square is she will tell you that it is green, when she knows very well that it is orange, because she thinks it's funny. Instead of counting the little Montessori sticks to learn her numbers, she will build a bridge out of them.  During "circle time" when the kids are having stories read to them, or singing a song, she will lie down, take off her shoes and suck her thumb. (To her credit, talking to her teacher makes me want to yawn and put my head down too, she's dull as a butter knife.)

Today when we got home, she went into her room, took off all of her clothes and demanded the pair of hand-me-down pajamas from her cousin Clara and her monkey slippers. She had a huge scratch on her belly and when I asked her where it came from all she would tell me is that she got it in Africa. I could get no other answer out of her.

The general consensus is that she has sensory integration problems, but I think of her more like I was as a kid: living entirely in my own head, so much so that I could hardly be bothered to pay attention to anything that was actually going on around me. I grew up so naive that by the time I was a teenager I still had almost no real idea of the facts of life, did not know how to pick up on the emotional cues of others, and did not understand popular culture at all.

An example: When I was fourteen my friend Maya talked me into entering the local very small-town summer festival pageant. She was really into it. She was a shoe-in; she excelled in piano, art, speech, and athletics and she was beautiful. And she wanted that crown. I was along for the ride.

There were a few different elements of the pageant; an interview, a group dance, individual talents, and formal gown promenade. The only talent that I had (that could be demonstrated in the school gymnasium where the event was held) was gymnastics. I chose music and made up a routine for myself, practiced it for weeks and performed it in front of an audience of two hundred people. This is the music I chose:



In my head, music from a movie about dancing = appropriate choice for a pubescent girl to do back-handsprings to in a sparkly leotard. When I saw the movie, I never got that she was a stripper. I still cringe at what the conservative Lutheran township thought of my musical choice and what it said about me and my future as a shining example of youth and ambassador for the town of Osage Minnesota.

Maya won. She went on to compete in the Miss Minnesota pageant.

I was first runner up.

Merry would totally win. Her talent would be "running really fast".

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Afterglow

We went to a wedding. Eric was the best man and gave an awesome speech and song.

A spong.

He splang.

Congratulations Ethan and Christina. You complete me... Us.    Mus.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Northport Long Island

Is where I'm at.

I've been up since four this morning. I cannot form thoughts, much less sentences. And I can't get my phone to connect so I can't share the pictures that I meant to post in lieu of words.

I will do better tomorrow, I promise.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Haiku

packing with headache
still don't know which shoes to bring
leaving before dawn

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bad Days

(I never really planned to write about this, but I'm hormonal and alone. So here I go.)

Today should have been the thirteenth birthday of my first child. He was never born. I lost him at four months. I don't even know if he was a he. But I called him Gus.

Some people think that a pregnancy loss that early is a blessing. They assume that you didn't really have time to become attached to the child. But anyone who has been in that situation knows the truth. That you have picked out names and cribs and colleges by the time the pee on the stick is dry.

When I started to hemorrhage I couldn't be grateful that I hadn't started to show or that I hadn't bought any diapers.

The miscarriage was bad enough. I wanted that child. But I think worse than the loss of the pregnancy, was the lack of support I got. The callousness, carelessness and even cruelty of the emergency room doctors. The coldness and distance of my husband -- we were young and he was as lost as I was. He didn't know what to say, so he said nothing. My family was far away, and I had no close friends. I didn't talk about it. I learned to never mention it because it seemed that whenever I did someone would say some asshanded moronic thing like "it just wasn't meant to be" or "you can try again" or the utterly ridiculous "God wasn't ready to let him out of heaven yet."

But that was ages ago. It occurs to me that if the same thing happened to me now, I would have someone to listen. The internet is a treasure trove of understanding. Whole communities of women who have suffered the same loss, and are willing to be honest about how it affected them.

I think, back then, someone suggested I go to the library and check out a book on loss and mourning. That was crap. No book would tell me it was OK to cry and yell and swear and hate the universe. Books suggested things like going to church or having a mock funeral for the child, then putting on a happy face and getting back on the horse.

There are people now, strangers to me, who would have fully supported my drinking binge, crying jag, and/or tri-state crime spree. They wouldn't allow me to blame myself.

But like I said. Ages ago. I do think losing Gus shaped the way I mourn and the person that I am.

There were other losses but I am a mother now. And I have recovered. Mostly. Although I haven't ruled out the tri-state crime spree.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

All By Myself

Eric and the boys left before dawn. And my kids woke up sick so I had to stay home with them today. So it was just me and them. All damn day. And it brought me back two years to before I met Eric. Snuggling with them on the couch watching cartoons. Rearranging furniture for fun. Feeding the kids real food, putting them to bed and then eating cold pizza or popcorn for dinner. Sitting on my bed drinking wine, folding laundry. Watching The Runaways.

I lived like this for a year. Longer, really. And it was the first time I had ever lived alone. I mean, I had the kids half the time, but I was doing it on my own. I don't miss it, I'm glad it's over, but I'm kinda glad I did it, too. Proved to myself that I could. Without losing my ever-loving mind.

And I'd be lying if I said I didn't like a little taste of loneliness once in a while. A reminder.

The house is quiet. Lydia is snuggled under the covers with me. Goodnight.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bon Voyage

My kids are sick and Eric and his kids are leaving at 5 in the morning for NY. So I'm just going to say this one thing. You should go read the story Eric wrote today. It's great.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wrinkle Free Knees

I walk into the bathroom where Merry's in the tub.

Me: Merry! How many times have I told you not to use my expensive old lady face soap on your knees?!

Merry: holds up three fingers... looks at hand.... holds up fourth finger.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tomorrow is the anniversary of us.

Sort of.

We've never decided if we should celebrate the day we met, which would be tomorrow, since it was just a quick workday lunch, or our first real getting dressed up nice and going out to dinner date, which would be Friday.

But since we'll be in NY next weekend for a wedding, today Eric made tiramisu (my favorite) and got me a massage, which he watched. Which was not weird, I promise. And we went out for sushi and now we're going to go climb in bed and watch a movie while we eat ladyfingers soaked in chocolate and coffee deliciousness until we barf.

Ah. Love.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In the Beginning (I was drinking when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray)

Two years ago today. I was talking on the phone with a dude with a funny New York accent. We over shared. (He says I over shared. I do that. Even more in person than here on this blog.) We agreed to meet for lunch. Lunch is safe, right? I didn't know if I wanted to get mixed up with a guy with a weird East Coast accent. I had been on a string of very bad dates and my deal breakers had become odd and arbitrary.

See, we had hooked up through an online dating service. That's how you meet people when you're in the latter half of your thirties, and newly single, in case you were wondering. So. This is how it started. And somehow it has turned into a marathon blogging nightmare. Nights like this. All the kids. Arguments about who peed all over the seat. A couple glasses of wine. And now I have to write.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Playing Dress Up

I'm going to a wedding next weekend. For which I will be wearing a dress. And, hopefully, nice shoes. Perhaps a piece of jewelry. I will almost certainly shave my legs, brush my hair and put on make up. Even lipstick. In short, it will be the nicest I've looked since the last wedding I went to, a year and a half ago. Except that this time I won't have cuts and green stains all over my hands from doing the flowers.

And as far as I can tell, this will be the last wedding I will attend until the kids are grown. Absolutely everyone I know is married. 

Except me and Eric. But that's a whole different story.

My point is, I either need to make more (unmarried) friends, or find some other occasion for getting dressed up. Because doing it as infrequently as I do, I am out of practice. I have to buy new things each time because just enough time has lapsed since the last occasion that my formal wear is out of style. And since I'm not accustomed to wearing things like strapless dresses and fancy shoes I will probably look as awkward as I will feel; tugging at my bra, squirming out of my shoes, covering my naked, farmer tanned arms.

But I love it. I really do. I love to dress up. I love wearing dresses. Especially the kind that twirl out around you when you spin. So, if you're out there, if you're reading this, please invite me to your next formal occasion. I will wear my pretty plum colored dress and toast your happiness.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dear Miss Manners,

There is an another business across the hall from my office where two elderly women work. It's some kind of christian charity or something. I dunno. Our office and their office share a set of bathrooms. The women's restroom often smells of baby powder and Miss Dior, but I usually have it to myself.

The older of the two women wants to retire and the other one has been searching for a replacement for her. I exchange pleasantries with them in passing, so when the woman began sharing her struggle to find a replacement for her partner, I listened politely. I smiled and nodded and oh deared and good lucked.

So today when we ran into each other in the bathroom, me going in, her coming out, I smiled and said hello and she started to tell me how excited she was that she had finally found the right candidate. I congratulated her and went into the stall. She kept talking. I sat down. She kept talking.

Now, I've never been one of those girls who go to the bathroom in groups of other girls. I don't generally carry on conversations in restroom stalls. So I'm unfamiliar with the rules of etiquette here. Would it be rude to start peeing while she's still talking? Do I hold it till she finishes her story? Or is this OK? Can I go about my business as she chats at me from the other side of this partial wall? Do generational rules apply here? Like, if the more mature woman is speaking, the younger woman holds her pee until the end of the conversation...? I'm at a loss, and I need to get back to my desk before the phone rings again.

Please help me Miss Manners!
Sincerely,
Elizabeth

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Night

Spooning with my dog, watching Mystery.
And watching Eric sleep, spooning with his dog.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

We are all tired.

Eric has a theory about how two siblings can't both be decent humans at the same time, one is all of a sudden sweet and compliant while the other throws himself to the floor in a fit of temper.

But what happens when they both come apart at the seams simultaneously? Mommy locks herself in the bathroom and cries into her wine, that's what.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Books

This picture is blurry on purpose. I don't want you to judge me for my bottom-shelf trashy titles: bodice rippers and wizards.
I love to read. I don't have a ton of time to read anymore what with kids and work and a boyfriend and a house that's falling down around me, but there have been times in my life when I have consumed books like food and lost touch with reality, wrapped up in stories.

I still read, when I have a lunch break at work where I don't need to do my grocery shopping, or at home when Eric is studying. Or, you know, in the bathroom.

But it has been so long since I've read the kind of book that keeps me up all night, unable to sleep till I know how the story ends, or cried at the beauty of the words, or felt that a book was telling the story of my inner... um... junk.

Since my teens I have devoured everything by Sommerset Maugham, E.M. Forster, the Brontes, Jane Austen and Shirley Jackson. And Mary Webb. Oh! Mary Webb. Precious Bane is the most beautiful book I have ever read.

And science fiction, too. William Gibson and Iain M. Banks. And fantasy, John Crowley and Neil Gaiman. I keep these books segregated on the shelves. Separate but equal.

Eric disapproves of the way I've organized my book shelves. I group my books by genre, and then by era, and then by mood. He uses a strict alphabetical fiction/non fiction method on his shelves.

Funny story. Eric's dad was visiting us from England over the summer and I came upstairs to change my clothes. I'm halfway up the steps with my shirt half off and I find Peter IN MY BEDROOM perusing my bookshelves. He said he liked the way I had my books organized. That it made perfect sense to him.  I put my shirt back on.

Anyhoo. What I'm getting at here is that I'm at a loss. I'm looking for suggestions. Have you read anything amazing that you can recommend? No downers - I've read my fair share of Hardy and Eliot. Nothing too modern-day-real-life. I like a little escapism. If it makes me laugh or cry I'm sold.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Storytime

My boyfriend Eric is from Long Island, and although he has a slight accent, mostly you don't notice it. Except when he reads to the kids. Then Yurtle the Turtle is a Port Jefferson used car salesman and the little turtle named Mack is a Jewish grandmother.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Trip Planning = No Blogging

Just spent an hour and half trying to figure out tickets to NY for Ethan and Christina's wedding. Can't look at the computer anymore.  

So here's a picture of me on a different trip I went on once. To Guatemala.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I am the champion of going home.

I work in a suburban office park. The kind they designed in the early eighties with all one-way, serpentine roads -- a mass of tangled figure eights with no stop signs. Viewed from above it must look like a bowl of Spaghetti-Os.

This is Minnesota and when it snows, the plows can't really see where one road turns and the next one starts, so in the fall they mark all the curbs with these little stakes. Tall and skinny with reflector strips at the top. They look just like those poles that slalom skiers whip around in the Olympics.

So as I'm leaving at the end of the day, it's hard not to imagine myself just sort of tapping them with my rear-view mirrors. Right turn - whap! Left turn - thwap!  Merge right - whap! thwap! I am Picabo Street in a Jetta. Racing for the gold. And Home.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

The kids are tucked in bed with their bellies full of candy and Eric and I are watching The Haunting.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Grown Up?

It's just the two of us tonight. We went to two restaurants and had drinks and appetizers and now we're going to watch Alien Resurrection.

Are we 38 or 13?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bats and Candy

I grew up in the woods in a log house. The house had been built by a crazy hippie without any real plans, forethought, or aesthetic sense. It was heated with two wood stoves, had bare beam ceilings, and had sharp sand mixed into the paint on the walls, so that if you brushed up against them you would cut yourself. There were buffalo skulls nailed to the front of the house for decoration and there was one room, when we moved in, that had a floor that was set at 20 degree angle. I used to sit in my brother's metal Tonka dump truck and ride down the room. I was pretty upset when my dad eventually leveled it out.

So its not hard to guess that this house wasn't especially air-tight. Or more to the point, animal-tight. Somehow there were always birds, mice, and bats scurrying or flying from room to shag-carpeted room. Plus that one escaped hamster.

For a while, I had bunk beds in my room. I don't know why. I didn't share them with anyone. I think it was because in my mind, bunk beds were the next best thing to a canopy bed, the thing I coveted more than anything but was cruelly denied. Anyway. I liked to sleep on the top bunk because I had a recurring nightmare about a black cat that hid under my bed and would pluck the hairs out of my legs if I touched the floor.

One night after I had been in bed for a couple hours, I woke up to see, a few inches from my face, two little bats hanging from the beam of my ceiling. I don't think I was afraid, but I was aware that if I moved and woke them up, they would fly around my room in that frantic, blind, spastic way that they do and it would take us forever to catch them. So I called out to my mom who was across the hall in her sewing-room-that-used-to-have-an-awesomely-sloped-floor, in a whisper-yell. My mom, never one to panic, assessed the problem, and went downstairs to get her bat removal gear: an empty plastic garbage can and a broom.

And so, I lay there still and quiet, staring at the bats. Willing them not to wake up, or poop, until Mom got back with her broom. She caught them without incident. And that was that. Not one bit scary.

You're disappointed, right? So was I.

I'd like to amp up the fear factor in that story for the season. Make it spooky. Maybe the bats came back night after night. Maybe they disappeared into thin air. Maybe they bit me and I blacked out and in the morning one of our goats was found exsanguinated in the barn. But the way I remember it, true or not, it was a few days before Halloween.

Which would have made it the best Halloween ever to be had up on the frozen tundra of Minnesota. Because even though my mom always made my brother and me the most awesome costumes, it is already winter up there at the end of October. We always had to wear moon boots and winter coats over our costumes. And since it was the middle of nowhere with miles of fields and woods between houses, Mom had to drive us from house to house. And at each house, she would get invited in for a cup of coffee. Which she would usually decline, but she couldn't escape without politely chatting for a few minutes. Which meant that we could only stop at five or six houses before it was time to go home.

So, the moral of this story is that after being cheated out of copious amounts of candy as a child, and never really being terrorized by vampire bats, and living in a house built by a crazy person that wasn't haunted, I am completely justified in stealing half of my kids candy.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fanfaronade

I can't think of anything to write about tonight. But this deal that I've struck with Eric means that I must, or admit defeat. Which is unfathomable.

Have I ever told you that I can recite an entire eleven page poem from memory?

I mean, I'm not going to do it now. I'm just sayin.
I can.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

About Last Night

So, I had a complete assbag of a day at work yesterday. But the kids were at their dad's and Eric was sweet enough to make me dinner, so everything seemed to be looking up.

Until.

As we were sitting down to dinner, there was a crash. A big one. The kind of crash your front window makes when the storm window and part of the divided light window is sucked off of your house and lands in a million pieces in your front yard.

It was already dark out and damned if I was going to go out in the dark and pick giant shards of glass out of the grass while being buffeted by sixty mile an hour winds. So I duct taped some cardboard over the hole and hung a quilt over the window and called my insurance company and left a message. Surreal? yes. Tragedy? no.

So we went back to the table, ate our delicious spaghetti squash and got ready to settle in for a cozy night of TV for me and studying for midterms for Eric. Then there was a bang. The kind of bang you hear when a wind storm knocks out the electricity of several city blocks.

No lights, no TV, no internet, no heat. But you can't break us that easily. We gathered candles and camping lanterns and lit a fire in the fireplace. Eric would study by candlelight and I would watch a DVD on my laptop. Until the battery died. And it started to get really cold in the house. And every thump or bump I heard made me wonder what piece of my house was currently hurling itself across the street and into my neighbors yard.

And the power stayed off. I showered by candlelight this morning. Got dressed in the dark. And hurried out the door to the salvation of Starbucks and a heated office and the warm glow of the internet. The poor dogs are probably still huddled under the comforter, the glass is still spread across the lawn and all the kids are going to be home tonight.

And now it's snowing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Storm

Disaster. Calamity. Great misfortune. Dictating to Eric on phone. Will tell all when power comes back on.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Girl Talk

There are times when it's difficult to be the only woman in a house full of guys. I mean, there's Merry, but she's three and not much good at girlfriend talk yet. Eric's great but he's just not good at the girly. There's no one to talk to about clothes, or make up or boys. I've always wanted to have that one close girlfriend who I could share everything with. The one who I could call anytime and talk to about last night's Grey's Anatomy. She would always know what I was thinking, she would be the Miranda to my Carrie. Except I think I'm more of a Miranda. Anyway. We would be so in sync that we would start to have our lady times together and we would share a bag of potato chips and commiserate about cramps and bloating.

I don't have that.

I do, however, have Eric's dog Cassie. She's not a fan of Grey's Anatomy, she's not much of a shopper, and she doesn't have much to say on the subject of make up. But. Right now we could be doing a bit of commiserating, if you know what I mean. Although I'm pretty sure if I shared a bag of chips with her she'd shit in my bed.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Untruths told by Children this Weekend

I already brushed my teeth.
I'm allergic to jelly. If I eat it I'll die.
She made me spill my cereal.
All the toys are put away.
I promise I won't pee in your bathwater ever again.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Terror

Six pumpkins. I carved four of them. My hands hurt. Terror - ably.
I'll leave you to imaging the mess this made in the kitchen.
AAAaaaaaahhhh.!

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Confession

I am a terrible shopper and I hate malls. All of my clothes are from the same store. Bought online. On clearance.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Running for my life.

Eric is a marathon runner. I'm not. In fact, I'm not even an errand runner. I'm more of a start out with the best of intentions and lose interest about thirty seconds later-er. But the thing is I'd like to be a runner. Or some kind of cardiovascular exercise getter.

(What extraordinary grammar I'm using.)

Thing is, I find it deadly dull. Running, even out in the beauty of creation is mind-numbing. Even worse than that is our treadmill. Running toward an unfinished sheetrock wall. Once though? I had the portable DVD player propped up in front of the treadmill watching a movie, with cattle stampeding, and cowboys, and Nicole Kidman? And I ran. Like the wind.

So I've decided that that is the secret. I need adrenaline to motivate me.

So... what causes adrenaline? Fear. I need someone to chase me. Eric would do that for me. He's a good guy. But where's the fear? He's a kindhearted soul who wouldn't hurt a fly. There's no adrenaline there.

He needs to threaten me with something terrifying. And what do I find terrifying? Tickling. Sweet Baby Jesus, I hate to be tickled. More than anything.

So here's what we'll do. Eric will give me a thirty second head start and then chase after me with tickle hands. And I will flee, cackling and screaming in terror down the middle of the street. And we will do this every day until I am fit and thin.

I'm sure my neighbors will enjoy the show. And not call the police.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

1-900-LOBSTER

I got caught up in commenting on Elly's blog at Buggin Word today. It got gross, and then it got grosser and I brought up this urban myth that I was creepy-obsessed with ten years ago. So as I waxed nostalgic about lobster tails and sea monkeys I was transported back to a time and place where all but this most repulsive of urban myths paled in comparison to our daily lunch conversations. Heck. Even our work.

I was working at the local free weekly newspaper. You know the type: Some liberal editorial, restaurant reviews, bar ads, and the last fifteen pages of "classified ads" for 1-900 numbers, massage parlors and escorts.

On Tuesdays the escorts' (hookers) managers (pimps) would come in to pay cash for their ads and bring in head shots (full nude photos of coked up barely legals) for us to crop and put in their ads.

FYI, pimps really do wear long fur coats. And too much cologne.

We made the ads, well, my coworkers made them and I said where they went in the paper, so besides listing all the local bands with dirty, double entendre names playing at all the skeezey bars, we had an ongoing peep show of sad naked ladies. Let's just say, not a good working environment for a shrinking violet. I may have been one when I started, but I left there a seasoned, sailor-mouthed hussy.

And we used to pass the time in the office by trying to think up the grossest phrases that brought to mind the most disgusting images. I think it was Jess who came up with the VBF (vaginal blood fart).

The paper also ran Savage Love, back when it was still really raunchy and less politically correct. So every Wednesday when we got the article text, one of us would stand up and read it out loud to the room. We would do the same whenever someone got forwarded one of those email-circulated urban myths which of course provided excellent fodder for our Who Can Say the Most Disgusting Thing game. But this one, about a woman's too intimate relationship with a crustacean had at least one of us huddled in the corner shivering. The thing is, the version we got had been edited some - to not sound so lame and corny. It sounded more real. More nightmarish.

We were no strangers to prostitution, furry porn, and diaper fetishes. But after that fateful day all you had to say to make any one of us throw up in our mouths a little was "lobster."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Prestidigitation

Yet another night with a cold and nothing particular to write about. So I will distract you with slight of hand.

Look! Down there! A cute baby.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nonblog

Eric and I both came home from New York with colds. The kids are in bed and I'm headed there too.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Posts from Beyond... the Mississippi

At this time I will have already been in New York for two days. And if all goes as planned (and I have entered the dates correctly), I will still have magically posted while away from my computer on Thursday and Friday.

If all does not go well, and I have died in a fiery crash, I will have eerily posted from beyond the grave.  

OOOo00oO0OOooO...... (that's a ghost sound, duh.)

If you check back and I have not posted from home again by tomorrow, Sunday, you may mourn me.

Tell my kids I love them, and don't forget to give Aunt Judy her thyroid medication.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pixie Cut

In case anyone out there is wondering why my pretty little girl's hair is so short, I'll tell ya. It's not that she's emulating any celebrity children by wanting to be a boy, although she is surrounded by them (boys, not celebrity children) and does lean toward tomboy. And it's certainly not me imposing my own fashion sense.

She is her own stubborn little self, and since she was tiny, she's been a hair puller. First mine, and then once she was mobile, her own. She pulls out a few little blond hairs and holds them up to her nose while she sucks her thumb. Her doctor keeps telling me that it's no big deal, and when she stops sucking her thumb, she will stop pulling out her hair. Meanwhile (at least up until a few months ago) half of her head is completely bald. So I keep what's left cut short, to discourage the pulling and simply to even it out.

Here's her last winter with her brother- she looked like a cancer patient, and old ladies in the grocery store were always tsk-tsking and saying, "Oh, bless her poor little heart."


We were at the pharmacy once and she was bouncing around in the cart, begging me for some crap toy, and when I responded with a firm "No", the lady behind us in line gave me the stink eye, and I could hear her thinking, "You heartless bitch, how can you deny your poor dying little girl a simple toy?"

And I hope she could hear me thinking back "Can it, lady, I'm not buying chemo meds here, I'm refilling my birth control pills"

Here's her this summer, looking more punk rock than cancer patient.

    

And here she is with her cousin  Clara, looking all elfin and adorable. 
And I gotta say, I'm going to miss this look when she finally lets her hair grow out.  

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hello, my name is....?

I had a meeting with my lawyer the other day to tie up all the loose ends of my divorce papers, and one of the issues I can't seem to lock down is MY NAME. Do I change it back to my maiden name? Or do I keep the same last name as my children? I'm not really crazy about either option.

When I was a kid, I hated my last name, it's one of those names that is never pronounced correctly on the first try, and even if you do say it right, it sounds a little obscene. I was teased a lot in school and that name just added to the fodder.

My kids' last name is a generic, easily pronounced, common last name. It's what I've been living with for fifteen years. It just seems easier to keep it, although it will always be an ugly reminder of bad days. Besides, I'm super lazy and changing all those little things like driver's licenses, and passports, and credit cards just sounds so haaaaard.

I was explaining this name ambivalence to my lawyer and she said, "You know it's my duty, as your lawyer, to tell you that you can change your name to anything you want." It's just a line on a page, and bam! I'm Elizabeth McMonkeyshines, or Beth Bubblicious.

Anything.

It boggles the mind.

And is so very, very tempting.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What Eminem and I have in common

I try not to swear around the house too much. You know kids, and how they learn this stuff and then say it in front of their entire preschool class and then you get a lecture from the teacher at conference time. (Although I stand by my daughter's right to sing "shake shake shake, shake your booty" and her teacher can suck it.)

But I would lose my mind if I didn't have something appropriately emphatic to yell at Ikea furniture or mutter under my breath at whining children. So I make stuff up. I substitute. Like my mom did. My mother could put so much vehemence into the word Fiddlesticks (with a very hard F) that I used to think it was a really bad word. 

For example? Eric's dad, who lives in England, recently told me that there Fanny = Cunt.

Yay! Fanny! Fanny! Fanny!

But sometimes you get a foul word-image in your head and it just tumbles out of your mouth unbidden during moments of passion or rage. Lately? Ball Sack. And even though the average 5-year-old doesn't know which sack of balls you're referring to, you don't want that repeated at school. So I, being all literate and stuff, classed it up a bit. Honore' de Ball Sack.

But then I started to feel guilty. I mean, I'm a lover of the written word, and I felt bad going around defiling a classic French novelist's name without knowing anything about him. So I did a little research.

Do you see this guy? This guy's name should definitely be invoked when one steps on a dead mouse in the kitchen. And yet? Still that twinge of guilt. So I dug a little deeper. Here are a few choice Balzac quotes:

A husband who submits to his wife's yoke is justly held an object of ridicule. A woman's influence ought to be entirely concealed. 

Children, dear and loving children, can alone console a woman for the loss of her beauty. 

Old maids, having never bent their temper or their lives to other lives and other tempers, as woman's destiny requires, have for the most part a mania for making everything about them bend to them.
No man should marry until he has studied anatomy and dissected at least one woman.

Yeah, sure he lived in France in the first half of the 19th century, so a little poncey chauvinism is to be expected. But dissection? That's just creepy. 

And so, it would not be unusual to hear this on any given morning at my house, "Honore de Balzac, kid, stop being such an asprin and get the fiddlesticks out of bed and get dressed, or I swear to Gump I will come in there and kick you in the fanny."

Cause me? I like to set a good example.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

White Lies

So, I've been going to a chiropractor for a few weeks. My right arm and hand have been feeling like someone backed a truck over me. But before that, for years, I'd been getting these terrible blinding headaches once or twice a week. After eliminating most caffeine, birth control hormones and anything else I could think of that could be the cause (all that glue sniffing?), I finally resorted to going to a chiropractor.

She pokes and prods me and cracks my neck and back. And then I leave feeling all loose and bendy, for about twenty minutes, and then I get another headache.

And when I go back the next week and report to her that I've been getting even more headaches, my arm seems worse, and my lower back feels like I volunteered to be sawed in half by a magician who then got a little distracted while putting me back together, she seems so very disappointed. I feel like I've let her down. She sighs and says that yes, sometimes things get worse before they get better. I feel terrible for her.

Then she tells me that my muscles are very tight, and says she thinks my headaches are tension headaches caused by stress. She tells me this as she holds my head, cradled in her hands, about to whip it to the right, adjusting my neck. But I've seen plenty of action movies in my day and in those movies people are always killing off the extras by whipping their heads to the right and breaking their necks. You'd be tense too, lady, if you were about to die the death of an action movie stunt guy.

She asks me if I'm going through an especially stressful time right now. Is everything OK at home, at work? My family? And being eager to appease her, I try to think of some stress that could be causing the muscle tension and headaches.

(Think think think. Geez, this trying to think of what's stressing me out is really hard. In fact it's kind of stressful.)

"Nope. Can't think of a thing."

(Well, except, you know, trying to finalize my divorce, pay the lawyer, plan two trips with no vacation time, and keep my 3-year-old daughter out of preschool special ed, all while my brain feels like it's oozing out my ears and the room spins around me.)

"No, really. Everything's fine"

The thing is that she, like all doctors, has that studied blank look on her face when she's asking personal questions about my life. It's the same blank, level look I give my kids when I know they're lying to me. So I squirm and stutter, I over-explain. I make excuses. 

In the end, I think going to a chiropractor is adding way too much stress to my life. But I can't tell her that, it might hurt her feelings. So I will have to keep going, and get better at lying.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ankyloglossia

I was born tongue tied.

They snipped it when I was a baby. I'm fine now.

But I still can't think of anything to say tonight.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Corn

We took the kids to the corn maze today. Which, if you're not from the Midwest, and therefore not familiar with this phenomenon, is kind of like walking around in man-made crop circles.


We don't have pictures of the boys in the maze because we let them navigate it on their own. Eric and I let Merry guide us.




They also have a giant tent full of corn kernels for them to dive into and wade through.



And a giant slide.

You can go and see more of Eric's iphone pictures on his page.