Thursday, October 29, 2009

Writing my truth

Cary Tennis, whom I adore, urges all writers to write their truth.

This is mine. Or at least part of it.

I am a ridiculously over-educated person with rich and various interests. I read obsessively. I think thoughts--gentle, obsessive, wild, hilarious, deep, sad, powerful thoughts. I genuinely enjoy the company of others, although on my terms.

And I am truly awful at playing with or teaching my only child. Right now, we're both home sick. He's downstairs watching TV. I'm up here listening to music and working, a little, but mostly just hanging out online playing SCrabble with friends. I hand down dill pickles, juice boxes and sandwiches. I switch videos. Periodically, I consult on the engineering of a lego rocket. Every once in a while, I read a chapter of Harry Potter. I give him an allowance, but do not use it to teach him the value of money or work--I figure there's world enough and time for that and he might as well have fun before all the shit hits his fan. I bake cookies and give them to him, but rarely give him the chance to help me make them. If he doesn't want to do something, like learn to ride a bike, he generally doesn't have to do it (barring essentials like brushing teeth and being polite).

He and I will never actually do the non-Newtonian fluids experiments. I'll probably tell him about it all and we'll find a joke in their somewhere, probably about one another's brains being neither solid nor liquid, but that will be the end of it.

Is it because I am old? Because I enjoyed 40 years of non-parenthood--and really, really enjoyed it? Am I all dead inside? Lazy? Boring? He seems like a happy kid--he's smart and funny and active and opinionated--and that makes me feel better about the whole situation. Unless it's a mask. Is it a mask? Should I have given him brothers and sisters, even if it made me the world's oldest living pregnant woman? Is it too late? How does one learn to play?

Do I even want to learn to play? Should that matter?

Clearly, cold medicine creates more issues than it solves. Maybe I'll go watch some Harry Potter.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Properly, this post should go on Voodoo Bungalow, which is the receptacle of my non-mommy thoughts, more or less. You see, we are in desperate need of some remodeling around here. It's been five years since we entered the precious bungalow of the elderly couple who had lived here since the house was built, with our deposit check in hand, convinced (rightly) that we'd found our home. We talked in bed late at night about getting rid of the white petticoat-like curtains in the front rooms (check), about painting over the hospital yellow walls (check), about removing the craaaazy light fixtures (hmmm, sort of check), about lighting the floral valences on fire (check). And now we've just signed another five-year mortgage term and have buckled down to our aesthetic responsibility of demolishing the tragic kitchen and entering the 1990s, at the very least.


The Kid.

He lurves the linoleum, the dingy and sad beige linoleum. Its squares are just like the stepping stones that Indiana Jones has to tread so very carefully in a variety of booby-trapped temples across the globe.

He lurves the refrigerator. The refrigerator that chirps and sighs, piddles and moos all night long and that sticks out 6 inches from its niche.

He lurves the retarded countertop that sticks out of nowhere, eats up space and fails to supply even one inch of storage space. He particularly loves the plastic corner guard that I tacked up to prevent him from bumping the top of his head, the guard that now hits him squarely mid-chest. It is also sacred and must not be moved.

He lurves the wacky mitered oak valence above the kitchen sink that screams "key party!" to all the ghosts of ladies in caftans.

He cherishes the inappropriate red paint that I slapped over every visible wall surface in there over teh course of a frenzied half hour one day while going a little insane from all the nursing and writing and nursing and writing and making dinner and nursing and writing. And the nursing. It reminds him of milk, I suppose, while it reminds me of all those rest-cure short stories we were forced to read in college.

He adores the stair well separator that is also made of mitered oak. The one that says "this way to shag rug of an unconscionable color" (and thank GOD for the flood of 2004 that forced our hand on the matter of the entire basement).


Loves it.

The yellow metal pantry doors?

Loves them.

The maple cabinetry with ornate (wait for it) mitering?


Yesterday, when interviewing a renovator, I asked him how much he could accomplish between the hours of 8.15 on a Wednesday, when Kid goes to school, and 5.30 when he returns from karate. Could he get the whole thing done then, so I could present the kitchen renovation as a fait accompli?

He thought I wanted to pull a fast one on my husband and told me that he couldn't get involved in anything like that. When I explained that I wanted to pull a fast one on my six-year-old, he gave me a pitying "there, there, crazy lady" stare and told me that it would take at least 10 days. Given the extent of what needed to occur.

So we've scheduled our kitchen renovation for July 5-11, 2010, when, God willing, Kid will be at wilderness camp learning to climb mountains, scoot through rapids, tend to snakebite, etc. If it runs behind, we're holding Week 2 in reserve--that would be scat identification, spelunking and horsemanship. His splashy wilderness camp will cost us more than the kitchen renovation--rapid scooting knowledge does not come cheaply---but it is obviously the kindest solution for all involved.

As I am writing this, the fridge is piddling and mooing forlornly, as though it knew what I was plotting. If it tells Kid, I will freaking PULL ITS PLUG.

We're hot, we're cold, we're on fire. Yawn.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This just makes me tired all over

Look, I KNOW IT'S ART, and frankly, if Chinese people have the time to make art what with all the being oppressed and denied their basic human rights half the time, then that's all great with me. But these images still make me want to lock the bathroom door and hide in the bathtub with a bottle of warm gin and the latest copy of "Psychotic Today":

You just know that this got started in some poor woman's backyard, where it was sold as "innocent boyish fun."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fairyland Update

I have just learned a few things about the whole tooth fairy situation:

1. There is a boss tooth fairy, a girl. She is also known as the "ringleader."
2. The ringleader has an army of male drone fairies who do all the work of delivering coins because, like all boys, they love money. Marvin is one of them.
3. The ringleader has enslaved the male fairies.
4. The ringleader is watching to see how you spend your tooth money. If you buy unwisely, look out: you may be doomed to join her sad, sad army.
5. You could likely trick the ringleader by saying loudly "here you go, CHILDREN's HOSPITAL," as you are handing your money to the cashier at Toys R Us.
6. Although a ringleader and a fairy imperialist, the ringleader has a small brain.


You heard it here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

OCD Follies

Today I caught myself chanting "geriatric troll in a white Civic" over and over and over (and over--you know the drill). I also expressed some concern to my very patient husband over the fact that the phrase "iambic pentameter" is neither. Iambic pentameter HA HA HA would get us up to 10 syllables but the iambs...are not.

Just in case anyone was wondering why I didn't write, you know, a major novel this afternoon. It's because I was extremely busy.



Thursday, October 15, 2009


Falcon Heene, if you're reading this, I want you to know that you are SO GROUNDED right now. I'm glad you're safe but if you ever scare me like that again, you'll still be confined to your quarters for senior prom. Children falling from brightly coloured balloons is not something grown-ups wish to think about or worry over. So from now on, you stay on the ground. Do you understand me?

With relief,
One of your million mothers around the world

Monday, October 12, 2009

Nuts to you

So I'm sitting here in the detritus of last night's Thanksgiving gathering. There are 1000 dirty plates, more or less, 12 be-turkeyed napkins, cranberry sauce on the dog's head, rougly ten thousand wine glasses, and two pots of turkey soup on the boil. Eventually they will require all the lovely things that they require: defatting, de-yuckifying, straining, mashing, etc. Not for the faint of heart. Really not for the faints of heart who also happen to be vegetarians 260 days a year. (Hi!) Downstairs where the children were milling about there are 17 tiny Jedi bodies, innumerable headless clones, two demolished Republic starships mauled for their parts, a wooden train set spilling down the stairs and over a trestle bridge into the downstairs bathtub, and all 12 disks of the Lord Of the Rings trilogy scattered over the carpet. I should really be getting around to making all of this right, to re-establishing the rule of Order over Chaos, to cleaning and herding and scrubbing and all that.

Instead, I'm doubled over with silent laughter in my office, listening to two little boys cataloguing different euphemisms for their you-know-whats. The people who insist that children call their body parts by their official names are really missing out on some great comedy.

Friday, October 9, 2009


So, inspired by Fiona, I went ahead and posted a hand-made Pay it Forward offer and am now scouring magazines and websites for things that, if they were titled for my convenience, would read: "Idiot-Proof and Easy-to-Make yet Exquisite Thingies that Your Friends will Love and Not Just Throw Out Right Away."

It's too late to make jam, unless I make it out of winter tubers because that's all that's left here on the frozen stupid tundra I call home. Parsnip compote is maybe better than it sounds?

No one will tell me where they've hidden the sharp scissors.

I want to make Lego-block rings with little diamonds lasered into them but I have no diamonds, no lasers, and my friends are generally the sort who might be freaked out by such a thing. Not by the whimsy but by the idea that anyone would let me play with a laser.

I cannot ship live animals across international borders--and besides, who makes art out of live animals anymore anyhow.

Decoupage? No. Embarrassed by the word itself. It's too close to decollete for my comfort.

Origami. (See above, but you know what I'm getting at.) (Plus it's not ecologically responsible.) (Origami, I mean.)(Plus Jane has already done it.) (Plus origami (I really am feeling weird writing that down.) (Catholicism, eh?) is hard to do when one of your fingers looks like a cocktail weenie.)

Re: origami. I just clicked here and now I feel worse.

I tried to make popsicle stick puppets and a theatre but I liked them so much I kept them. The Anna Wintour popsicle stick has to be kept in a special silk-lined box away from the Lauren Weisberger popsicle stick, but I secretly sometimes just throw them in a drawer together and let the chips fall where they may. The Bai Ling doll was FUN TO DRESS, let me tell you.

Where does one even find honeycomb?

It's hard to know where to draw the line between caricature and cruelty when making home-made nose glasses.

It has been pointed out to me once or twice that just because something has 17 syllables doesn't make it a haiku. Plus, I need to write down things in multiples of 5, so haiku kind of drive me mad unless I can write "la ti da" in invisible ink after the last word.

The last time I knit something, it was a 17-sided scarf for my father. When he's feeling a little low, he takes it out of the closet and cracks up at the memory that my parents used to think I was the smart one.

Off now through the snow and the bitter chill to buy the latest "Tea Cosy Quarterly."