Monday, November 28, 2011

Dear Dad

Dear Dad.

Things are moving fast now.  I've been running away, trying to ignore this darkness looming ever closer, even as I hear the footfalls louder behind me.  Now I turn around, ready to face it and it's already passing me by, slipping through my fingers faster than I can grab hold.  It shouldn't be this fast, all of this life and all of this death.  I need a minute to catch my breath, to gather my thoughts, but it's all going too damn fast.


Dear Dad.

Did I ever tell you that my favorite picture of you is one from when you were in the army?  You're sitting on the ground, so young, with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth and this cocky look on your face.  You look like you know everything.  You look like you are sure you're right.

You look like a pain in the ass.

It's my favorite.


Dear Dad.

I will be okay.  The fire you say you see in me, it will keep going and I will keep writing and I will stay true to all of these things I believe in.  And I will be okay.


Dear Dad.

I remember being very small and sitting in the bathroom with you, watching you shave.  I remember the smell of your neck when I would hug you.  I remember walking with you into Fenway Park for the very first time.  I remember that you can whistle louder than anyone I've ever met.  I remember that I couldn't wait to call you after First Born arrived, that it was 3 in the morning in Seattle and 6 in the morning here and I was aching and exhausted and thrilled and I couldn't wait to tell you.  I remember the look on your face when you first held him.

I remember.


Dear Dad.

All is right between us.  There is no distance, there are no miles, there is no time lost.  There is only us now, where we find ourselves now, and that's a damned good place.

I know you would agree.


Dear Dad.

Thank you for ordering me lasagna when I was 5 and making me try it.  That's good stuff.


Dear Dad.

I am proud to be your daughter.


Dear Dad.

When I was visiting when I was 15 or so and you let me go out with that boy who lived across the street (the paperboy), I'm pretty sure I lied to you and said that mom let me date.  She didn't yet.



Dear Dad.

I want to tell you not to be afraid.

Except that I *am* afraid.  So, rather, I will say that I will be there, with you, even if my body is not.

I will be there.  


Dear Dad.

Thank you.


Dear Dad.

I love you.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Today is the day after the day after Halloween.  This means I've gained 17 lbs in a day and a half because I've been eating Milky Ways for breakfast.

Also for lunch. 

And possibly dinner (which I do in secret so that my kids don't know I'm eating chocolate while they're eating green beans...sometimes being the parent is actually AWESOME.)
As this week goes on, the supply of good candy is going to start to dwindle, and no matter how many times I dig through the Big Bowl O'Sugar, the inferior candy will be all that remains.  Who am I talking about?

Does anyone ever choose Junior Mints over other forms of chocolate?  Have you ever met a kid who actually LIKED Junior Mints?  When my youngest was about 3, he insisted on trying one because he was certain it was an M&M, no matter how vehemently I tried to warn him otherwise.  He popped one into his mouth, immediately spit it out, and said to me, "Mama, this M-a-M yucky."  

Yes.  Yes, it is. 

There's an unspoken understanding that exists in our society about candy:  that it will taste good.  DOTS blatantly disregard that understanding, opting to go with a plasticy-chemically taste rather than any sort of deliciousness.  Why do Americans continue to buy DOTS when they so clearly violate the standards of candy decency?  We should be ashamed.

Oh, Tootsie Roll.  I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you're the candy we eat when all other candy options have been exhausted.  You're the candy we turn to because it's late and we're craving sugar, but we're too ashamed to admit to our friends that, yeah, I hit the Tootsie Roll last night.  We feel dirty and ashamed afterwards because you're never worth the calories, you're never actually a satisfying candy experience, and yet we inevitably find ourselves reaching for you in the middle of a cold, lonely night. 

But, chin up, Tootsie Roll, because it could be worse.  You could be your unfortunate cousins:

No one eats those ever.  They go right in the trash.  Feel better, regular Tootsie Roll?  Thought so.

A final word on candy, specifically, the misnomer that is 'Fun-Size'. 


Dear Candy Manufactures:

Whoever told you that smaller = more fun has been lying to you.

Hopefully it wasn't your wife.



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Last night I sent my 7 year old son to take a shower.

Which he did.  For approximately a minute and a half. 

That would be roughly 24 minutes less than I spend in the shower.  I immediately stuck my head into the bathroom and asked him what was wrong.

He was already out of the shower and wrapped up in a towel, wet hair plastered to his head and dripping all over the bathroom floor.

"I'm done," he said.  Duh.

"Done?  Already?"


"You washed your hair?"


"And your body?"


"Your whole body?"


"With SOAP?"

This was apparently his breaking point because he yelled, "Yes!" in that tone that says, "Jesus Christ, woman, enough with the inquisition already!"  He may or may not have rolled his eyes, which normally would make me crazy but I was too tired to deal and wanted to hurry up to the part of bedtime that actually involves sleep, so we'll say that he did not roll his eyes.

(even though he totally did)

The idea that someone can adequately clean his entire body AND wash his hair in less time than it takes me to decide what I want on my pizza was baffling to me.  Until I compared our routines.

Here's how the 7 year old showers:

1)Wash hair with shampoo.  Rinse.
2)Wash body with soap.  Rinse.

Here's how MY shower goes:

1)Shampoo hair.  While shampoo does it's thing, shave one leg. 

2)Thoroughly rinse shampoo.  Thoroughly rinse leg.  Start singing.

3)Shampoo again (this would be the 'repeat' phase of the lather-rinse-repeat cycle).  Shave other leg.

4)Thoroughly rinse shampoo.  Thoroughly rinse leg.  Think about how awesome my voice sounds in my shower. 

5)Apply conditioner.***

***I feel it necessary to point out here that one is supposed to leave conditioner on for a bit so that it can properly condition.  This is the difference between easily being able to brush out my hair vs. spending twenty minutes trying to extricate said brush from aforementioned hair. 

In other words, this block of time is definitely not my fault.  IT SAYS SO ON THE BOTTLE.

6)While conditioner is conditioning, wash body with soap.  Shave some more (sorry, Paula Cole and Julia Roberts, I don't endorse your hairy-pit tendencies).

7)Rinse conditioner from hair.  (This takes a while.  You really don't want to do a half-ass job here, or else you're going to need to do this all again in about six hours because your hair will be greasy and gross.)  Forget what step I'm on, pick up shampoo, then realize my legs are both smooth, meaning I've already shaved them and therefore shampooed.  Congratulate myself on my awesome deductive reasoning skills and consider a career as a detective.

8)Wash body with yummy smelling body wash and poufy thingy.  Pretend not to hear sons yelling at each other on other side of bathroom door.

9)Wash face with facial scrub infused with small shards of glass (this is called exfoliation).

10)Rinse hair again to be really, REALLY sure all conditioner is out of hair.  Stand under hot water for two more minutes and analyze last night's dream.  Turn water off when son starts banging on door.  Grab towel quickly.

I should be glad that I have sons instead of daughters.  So long as he's clean, I can get behind this whole 2 minute shower business.

Because it leaves me with all the hot water.

Monday, September 26, 2011


When I was a little girl, I was terrified by the idea of quicksand (too many hours spent playing Pitfall, I suppose).  The very idea that one minute the ground would be solid beneath your feet and the next it could give way, crumbling beneath you, sucking you in, and then collapsing over your head, consuming you until the ground sealed back up and there was no evidence that you had ever been there at all...

Scared the shit out of me.

It would seem my fear was warranted.

Only now, as an adult, it's not just the notion of the ground giving way.  It's the very foundation of my life.

Marriage.  House.  Love.  Career. 

These things crumble beneath my feet with a speed so dizzying that I'm left breathless, jerked below the surface and crushed under the weight before there is even time to look for something to grab on to.  There is the whooshing sound of a vacuum I myself turned on, and the sudden disappearance of everything I once held certain.  It happens fast, this crumbling.

And I'm left in the dark, with the weight heavy on my chest, desperate for a breath of air, just a quick reprieve for a moment before trying to dig my way out. 

Perhaps I should take a moment and apologize to any reader who follows this blog for the funny posts.  I promise they will return at some point. 

But I began this blog with an interest in putting something genuine out into the world, a real experience in a world where very little feels real, very little feels authentic or like a true connection despite the supposed increased connectivity among us. 

Sometimes those experiences are funny.

And sometimes, they have very sharp, pointy edges that you cannot hide from. 

So bear with me while I look around for something to dig with.  Right now, I've got nothing.  But I'm fumbling around the dark for a shovel or a spoon. 

And there are always my own bare hands.

(okay, I feel like there should be some sort of grand ending to this.  I've got nothing, so I'll steal someone else's grand ending...)

With liberty and justice for all.


A merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!


Play ball!

Yeah, any one of those will do.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reading of the Names

Names are important. 

We spend months choosing just the right ones for our children.  We long to hear our own names whispered from those who love us.  We look the ones we ourselves love in the eye and speak their names so that they may hear it.  These names feel so at home in our mouths, on our tongues, our lips.  This is more than saying, "I love you."  It is saying, I love YOU.  Specifically, you. 

Today, more than 3,000 names will be spoken. 

Each name will spill forth from a living soul, sent out into the world on a breath of life borrowed from another.

Each name, so much more than a name. 

Each name representing a man, a woman, a child, the loved ones left behind, the holes left in hearts and lives.

Each name representing a life. 

We say, "Never forget."  We say, "I remember where I was..."

Speak the names. 

Speak the names of those lost.  Speak the names of those you love. 

Yell them, spill them out with a laugh, whisper them, call them, cry them.

But don't stop saying their names.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mowing The Lawn (And Other Formerly Penilarily Held Jobs)

Let me start by saying, in order to alleviate any false hopes/fears about the topic of this post, that the mowing of the lawn referenced in the title refers to ACTUAL lawn mowing. 

It's NOT a euphemism for anything else (although I'll probably tackle that topic in a future post titled something like, "Holy Fuck In A Truck, I'm Single Again"). 

(also, making up the word 'penilarily' was way more fun than it probably should be for someone over the age of 17)

But for now, I'm talking about the literal mowing of the lawn.  Which is something that, in my thirty-coughcough*ahem*cough years, I've never actually done before. 

I'm not sure how it is that I've never had to do this before.  Maybe it's because I lived at home (yay, stepdad!), then lived in apartments (yay, landlords!), and then my house (yay, husband!) so it was just always...done.

However, now that I'm separated, it would appear that this job now falls to me.

Because there's all this grass in my yard.  And, well...

It keeps growing.

I keep hoping it will stop, or that maybe one morning I'll wake up and it'll just be, I don't know, shorter or dead (seriously, it was like 900 degrees last week, how it's not burned to a Shredded-Wheat crisp is beyond me) or something like that where I won't have to actually DEAL with it. 

This is generally my go-to method for coping with such things.  I also use this for problems including (but not limited to):  That Weird Noise My Car Is Making, That Weird Smell In the Basement, and My Mom.

It pretty much works about as well in those situations as it does with the Grass Growing Dilemma.

Lawn mowing is not the only formerly penilarily held job that now rests in my hands. 


FOR INSTANCE:  I'm now the primary bug killer in the house.  I'm okay with this when it comes to things like tiny little ants (I'm talking about a few here.  Like, less than 10.  Any number higher than that makes me think of scary movies my stepdad used to watch involving thousands and thousands and thousands of bugs or other creepy-crawly things swarming on people's faces in places like the shower.) 

Holy crap am I itchy now. 

Also, I'm down with spiders of the itsy-bitsy variety. 

But anything with a stinger, pincher, biter, more legs than I have dollars in my wallet right now (which would be about TEN, oh ye Muggers and Robbers of the world), or larger than a baby's fingernail, and we've got a problem. 


We get mice.

It's not that my house isn't clean.  It's simply that it's older and located outside, and so...

Mice Happen.

Perhaps, if I were a cat or an owl or a snake or anything else but a female human, I would enjoy this whole mouse-hunting business far more than I do.  But the whole reason I live in a house as opposed to, say, a wigwam or a Swiss-Family-Robinsonesque Tree House, is to put a little distance between myself and all Creatures That Roam The Earth

Really, the only mice I want to interact with are the ones who run around making pretty dresses at night singing "Cinderelly". 

However, I've yet to wake in the morning to a new dress. 

Mouse poop?  Yes. 

Fitted A-line ball gown?  Not so much.

And then, finally there is the tra-



(Author's Note:  Twenty bucks says that someone will land on this post because they Googled the words 'mice' and 'fuck'.  People are MESSED. UP. YO.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

These Little Earthquakes

It’s funny, the things you hold on to; the things you save because they remind you of a particular time, a particular place, a particular person.

Or, maybe, a particular version of yourself.

Trinkets. Tickets. Trifles. Things that would be meaningless to anyone else, but that hold so much weight in your own hand, you can barely stand to touch them.

I once had a plain wooden box, chosen specifically to belie the importance of its contents. I filled it with a thousand different words, as much of my soul as I could spill on to paper.

I filled it with things.

Into this box went a dried flower, a tiny key on a blue string, a thin silver key ring, the pink empty shell of what was once a balloon, a seashell, a napkin with quick, hasty words scribbled across it. Things that would look like trash to anyone else.

But to me, they were things to hold on to, to touch, to open up and remove and say, “Remember when?”

Now I am grown.

Now I sit, alone, on the edge of my bed.

In my hand lies a tiny pink heart-shaped box, made for me by my 7 year old for Mother’s Day, with the word MOM written in blue marker.

I run my fingers across the top, skipping along the tiny beads so meticulously glued on.

There is no box large enough to hold what I’m trying to put away this time.  There is only the physical evidence we have left behind: this house, these children, this life.

These rings.

I'm surprised by the sound they make, the reality of their weight, as I plunk first one (my hand is stretched out against the steering wheel, the sun bouncing off of this new diamond ring, throwing light in a thousand different directions, a thousand different possibilities for this life we're about to start), and then the other (take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity) into the tiny box. I put the top on quickly, afraid they might jump back out at me, grow teeth, and sink themselves deep into my flesh, cutting so deep as to never stop bleeding, never scar over, never heal.

And then I push the box into the back of my drawer, buried under bathing suits and sports bras.

As if they can be hidden.

As if I will forget that they are there. As if, every time I open that drawer, I won’t feel my heart race just knowing they exist, knowing that I could reach my hand in and pull the box out and open the lid and face the sadness that threatens to swallow me whole, face it straight on.

Look it in the eyes. Stare it down. Break under it. Conquer it.

But I will do none of these things.

Instead, I will leave the box buried beneath the bathing suits and sports bras.

I will walk out of my empty bedroom.

And then, quietly, I will close the door behind me.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kidsports (omg,shootmenow)

There are a lot of things my kids say that make me cringe. Things like, "What are those bumps on your chest called again?" or, "I think I'm going to throw up" (which does not, by the way, mean 'perhaps you should direct me to the nearest, most convenient spot to do so'.  Rather, it means 'throw up is currently coming out of my mouth and onto the floor, my clothes, my shoes, your shoes, and somehow, thanks to physics, your hair')

Another would be: "Can we go to Kidsports?"

Kidsports is an indoor playground where you can bring your kids on a rainy/cold/snowy day so they can run around and let out some energy.  Get some exercise.  Blow off some steam.  To those without children, it probably seems like a brilliant idea. 

And, as you prepare for your first visit one rainy Saturday in late November, you think so, too.

Of course, so does every other parent of every other child between the ages of 3 and 12 within a 30 mile radius.

The problem with sticking 439 children into a playspace meant to contain 70 children, is that kids in this setting tend to get JUST A LITTLE FUCKING INSANE.  Maybe, perhaps, just a little bit louder/crazier/lethal than they might otherwise. 

And that loud/crazy/lethal shit multiplies faster than Gremlins in a hot tub.

Now, because you are a good American, you will have hit the local Dunkin' Donuts on your way and purchased yourself the largest coffee they are legally allowed to sell you, only to open the door to Kidsports and be accosted not only with the overpowering smell of feet, but a front desk attendant who tells you, "Ummm, sorry?  No outside food or drink allowed?  Ummmm?  We sell coffee at the snack bar?" 

That's right, you must buy their sucky coffee.  Coffee that tastes like it was brewed, burnt, and reheated sometime during the Clinton Administration and that could, quite possibly, even contain ground-up bits of an old Clinton cigar.

It's really bad coffee.

Not to be outdone by the coffee, there is also the prerequisite shitty pizza.  I'm pretty sure this is part of the business model:  you must have x-number of bathrooms and sprinklers, require a minimum of 8,200 tickets for a 'prize' that was dipped in lead paint while being made in an asbestos factory by 10 year olds in a country 92% of high school seniors can't find on a map, and, oh yeah, you MUST follow our recipe for Shitty Pizza That Kids Will Eat Because They'll Eat Anything That You Call Pizza.

That's the legit name of the recipe.

So why in God's name would a grown, sane, stable woman ever chose to go to such a place?

Because my kids love that shitty pizza.  And they come flying down the giant slide laughing so hard they can't catch their breath.  And they jump in the bouncy house until they're ready to puke.  They leave sweaty and happy.

And tired.

Translation?  Easy bedtime.

Which makes it almost worth the really bad coffee.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

In loving memory of my Grandmother

When I was a little girl, I remember sleeping over at my grandparent's house.  There would be fluffernutter sandwiches, chocolate milk, my grandfather's big bowl of Corn Flakes with a banana in the morning. 

One night I slept in the big bed with my grandmother.  I was tired; I wanted to snuggle up to her and go to sleep.  I asked her to turn out the light. 

But she was praying the rosary and she said I needed to be patient.  Because this was important.  She showed me the beads, she recited the prayers for me, she slipped an arm around me and kept praying as I drifted off to sleep.

I felt as though I belonged in her life.  And she belonged in mine.

When I was around 12 or 13, I was in her kitchen for Thanksgiving.  This year was different from others; I wasn't running around, bouncing on the beds, playing with my cousins or trying to steal a piece of fudge from the dining room without being caught.  This year, I was with the women in the kitchen.  My grandmother opened the drawer where she kept her aprons (to the left of the sink), pulled one out, and gave it to me to wear.  I slipped it on.

I felt as though I belonged in her life.  And she belonged in mine.

When I was 21, nearing the end of college, I lived with one of my aunts while I finished school.  My grandparents lived nearby.  They suddenly had a much closer view of the person I was becoming within my family.

They did not like what they saw.

And my grandmother told me so.  She took pen to paper and wrote me a letter.  I wanted to pretend that that letter never existed, that it's words were untrue, that the person my grandmother was disappointed in was someone else.  But I knew she was right.  I knew there was more to me than what she saw, but that I could not deny the things she said.

I found myself, again, at my grandmother's kitchen table.  I was terrified to sit there, before my grandparents, but I was ready to apologize and to hear the things they had to say.  I was ashamed and afraid as my grandmother poured me a cup of tea.

The first thing she said to me was that she was proud of me for coming to the table to have this conversation.

And, immediately, I felt as though I belonged in her life.  And she belonged in mine.

When my first son was born, my relationship with my grandmother changed.  Suddenly, we had a new connection, as mothers.  She talked about potty training, she talked about being a stay at home mother, she talked about the resilience of little ones as I worried about everything little thing under the sun (prompting her to finally say, having grown impatient with my never ending list of Things I Felt I Was Doing Wrong, 'You know, you really have to go out of your way to break him'.) 

My second son was born.  My boys grew.

And then my father, her firstborn, got sick.

He was 3,000 miles away.  Neither of us could easily get to him to see him, to know he was alright, to take him in with our own eyes, to hug him the way we wanted to.  When he was finally well enough to visit, just 3 short weeks ago, my grandmother and I talked about how relieved we were to see him for ourselves. 

"But the goodbye," she said, with tears in her eyes.  "It's going to be a very hard goodbye." 

"Yes," I agreed.  "It is." 

I felt as though I belonged in her life.  And she belonged in mine.

And my Grandma, who slipped from this world this past Thursday, was so very right.

It's a very hard goodbye. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Facebook: I just can't quit you.

What's so great about Facebook anyway?

Um, besides, EVERYTHING. 

(Here's where I admit to having an unhealthy love for Facebook.  Whatever, being a stay-at-home mom can be really boring sometimes.  Seriously, do you know how  hard it is to lose at Connect Four?  And how many pairs of Superman underwear can I fold in a day anyway?)

Here are a few of my favorite things about the Book of Faces:

1) I am ALWAYS up on current events.

Anything major that happens in the world, I know my news feed will light up like a Christmas tree with post after post about it.  Did *YOU* know that Osama bin Laden is dead?  Oh yeah, he totally is.  Not only was I able to rely on my Facebook newsfeed for this information, but I was able to enjoy relevant quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. and Mark Twain, each of whom had the foresight to offer his wisdom on this very event long ago.  Now that's some good PR.

2) I NEVER need to watch the weather.

Want to know what the weather's like?  Don't sit and wait for's page to load.  CHECK FACEBOOK.  Guaranteed that 17% of your friends are commenting about the weather.  It's hot/it's cold/it's windy/it's raining/it's hailing or sleeting (bet your bottom dollar I know the difference), oh my God it's a FUCKING RAINBOW (wait for obligatory comment about finding the pot of gold).  This past winter, I rarely watched the weather because I always had Facebook to let me know that IT'S GOING TO SNOW 17 FEET OF SNOW, WAY MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE ANYWHERE WILL EVER UNDERSTAND, AND WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE.  Thank you, Facebook.  Now I can go buy my milk and bread and eggs as required by law.

3) The hearts.

Oh, you know.  <3  See, means nothing here.  In fact, you probably think I just made some boobies.  Facebook takes the boobies and turns them into hearts, just like I prayed would happen when I was 12.  HOW AWESOME IS THAT?


Now, maybe dudes are normal and they don't do stuff like this.  But girls know that the reason Facebook exists is so you can look up your ex-boyfriends, call your best friend, and tear him to pieces.  EVEN IF HE'S A FRIGGIN' DOCTOR AND HIS WIFE LOOKS LIKE A MODEL.  165 pictures of your honeymoon?  Don't mind if I do.  Wow, his wife REALLY needs to put on some weight.  And, HELLO, if God had meant for our eyebrows to be plucked out and then drawn in with pencils, he would have adorned our hands with tweezers instead of fingers.  It's important to note here that you MUST keep your own  Facebook page on total and complete lock-down so that no one can ever do this back to you.  Besides, you're perfect and wonderful and wasn't it his loss anyway, so what-the-eff-ever. 

5) The blatant misuse of the exclamation point.

Confession time:  my opinion of you diminishes 10 points for every cluster of exclamation points you post.  I will begrudgingly admit that there are times when A SINGLE EXCLAMATION POINT is warranted.  But this: !!!!!!! is just absurd.  Let's cut that shit out.  And, while we're on it, it's 'are', not 'r'.  If typing the two extra letters really wastes that much of your time, you MIGHT want to take some typing lessons. 


I love me some status updates.  I love reading them, I love writing them, I love commenting on them.  I. LOVE. THEM.  I have learned more about people in high school over two years of status updates than I did sitting next to them in the cafeteria for 4 years.  I know who votes democrat, who votes republican, and who couldn't tell you the difference between the two.  The very best of the status updates are the uber-dramatic ones.  You know, "So-and-so JUST IS."  It's the Facebook equivalent of sulking into a room, dropping into a chair, and sighing as loudly as you can.  It's passive-aggressiveness at it's very best. AND I LOVE IT.

Now, the OCD side of me is greatly disturbed by the thought of ending a list at six items rather than 10, and I would have more to say, except, well...

I have this totally awesome status update to post...

pst...Check out the doo-hickey on the right to take you to the Playing House Facebook page where you can become a fan and follow my totally awesome status updates.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dave Does Easter

Wouldn't it be funny if the first Easter fell on April 1st?

Jesus would be all like, "Hey, it's me, Jesus. I'm back."

And everyone would stop biting the heads off of their chocolate bunnies and be all like, "OMG! Jesus, you totally rose from the dead!  Awesome!"

And then he'd be all like, "April Fools! Hahahaha, I gotcha. Hahahaha, you should see your faces, you TOTALLY thought I was Jesus!"

And the people would be like, "Wait.  WAIT.  You mean, you're not the Lord our Savior? This isn't a miracle?"

And he'd be all like, "Yeah, no. Sorry, man. I'm Dave. I get the whole 'Did anyone ever tell you you look like Jesus?' thing a lot, so I thought it'd be funny to know..."

And then there would this weird, uncomfortable silence.

And then Dave would be like, "Ummm, yeah.  So, I think I'm gonna go."

Then there would be an angry mob and everyone would be PISSED at Dave, so pissed in fact that they would gather all the Easter eggs for the Easter egg hunt and throw them all at Dave.

And then the Easter egg hunt would have to be cancelled and that would NOT be funny at all. So I guess it's good that the first Easter didn't actually fall on April Fool's Day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

GAAAH! Nature!

I don't do nature.


Scratch that.

I do pretty nature.  Like sunsets and sunrises and moons and stars and trees and flowers and beaches and oceans and mountains and stuff. 

And weather. 


I DO NOT, however, do gross, icky nature.

I'm talking dirt, bugs, camping, fungi (I'm looking at you, mushrooms), and, with all due respect to the ones that could eat me (which I believe to be many; like, way, WAY more than other people assume), most animals.

That's right, I said it. 

I'm NOT an animal girl.

I was never the little girl with the horse/puppy/kitten folder in her Trapper Keeper.  My folders were blue.  Or red.  Or green.  MAYBE with a rainbow here or there. 

But no butterflies.  No bunnies.  No unicorns.

NEVER unicorns.

It's not like I've never TRIED to like animals.  I have. 

There was my friend Matt's cat, who was pretty okay.  Except that Matt would regularly stop our phone conversations to announce that the cat was staring at his neck and was probably plotting to kill him.

And then there was the night the cat brought a mouse into the house and left it at our feet.


There was also my friend Sascha's dog, Bert.  I kinda dug Bert.  He was all big and sweet and tried really hard to be protective.  We'd come in and she'd tell him, "Go check the house, Bert!" and Bert would proudly trot from the back door to the front to give us the all-clear. 

Bert and I had a sort of understanding.  It went like this:

Me:  Bert, you're stinky.  It's not your fault; it's just because you're a dog and sometimes dogs smell like dogs.  No judgement.  Please don't eat me.
Bert:  We're cool.  I will not lick you, or jump on you, or eat you.  Now give me a french fry. 

In fact, my relationship with Bert reached a really great place.  I realized this one night when Sascha and I were leaving her house.  Always the gentleman, Bert saw us to the door. 

"Bye, Bert," Sascha called to him.  "I love ya!"

"Bye, Bert," I said, and then I paused.  I felt like I should say something more.  But I didn't love Bert, and I couldn't bring myself to lie to him by saying that I did. 

"I don't love you, Bert," I admitted.  "But I like you a lot." 

I like to think that Bert respected my honesty, my refusal to lead him on and let him think I cared for him more than I actually did.  He played it cool; he trotted happily away to go do whatever it is dogs do on a Saturday night.

But Bert was the exception to the rule.  And that was years ago. 

Now I have my own home, free of pet hair.  And pet smells.  And pet bills.


Kids who, thankfully, are happy with fish.

Even if all of our fish are now dead.  Flushed back to the ocean.  Back to nature.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Tale of Two Annas

Good People of the Internets:

I need your help. 

It would appear I've gotten myself in a bit of a situation (not to be confused with THE Situation, which would just be gross and probably require a hefty dose of antibiotics and some sort of antifungal cream).

Here's the problem.

Every week, I go to the grocery store on the same day, at the same time, my super-duper, organized-by-aisle-for-maximum-efficiency list in hand.  I play it like a race, trying to be beat my own best time each week.  My child-free time is limited and I hate wasting it standing in the produce aisle smelling melons.


So a few months ago, I was engaged in my regular race through Stop and Shop when I ran into a woman I know.

Or, at least, I was fairly certain I knew her. 

I was about 85% sure she was possibly Anna, one of my Facebook friends, sister of an old, dear friend from high school.

She looked A LOT like Anna, who I haven't seen in person in many years. 

At first, it was super casual.  Just a smile, a friendly hello.

Then, one day, our relationship escalated to Chit-Chat.  This is really difficult when you're only 85% sure you know the person you're trying to chit-chat with. 

I tried to keep the conversation to only safe topics: the weather, the holidays, the snow, the weather.  But eventually you run out of ways to talk about the snow, even here in New England.  So I went with the next safest thing, thinking I could feel this woman out to see if she was Actually Anna.

"So," I began, "How's your family?" 

"Great," was all I got.  Shit.

I would come home from the supermarket, log in to Facebook, and head to Anna's profile and look at her pictures.

Did I mention she looked A LOT like Actual Anna?  I was still about 75% sure that she *was* Anna.  But, to be safe, I started to avoid her in the market.  I would see her in one aisle and duck down another.  I was out of things to say that wouldn't give away the fact that I wasn't sure I even knew who she was.

This worked great for a few weeks.

Until the day that I hurriedly turned the corner down the chips aisle.  There was Possibly Anna, talking to 3 other women.  I had no choice but to continue down the aisle; there would be hell to pay if I didn't come home with pretzel sticks and I sure as shit wasn't going to jeopardize my record-breaking time just because of a potentially awkward situation.  As I made my way past them, I smiled at Possibly Anna.

"Oh, hi!" one of her friends said enthusiastically, in a way that meant one of three things: she was really lonely and eager to meet new people, she was on some seriously kick-ass happy pills, or she thought she knew me.

And while my confidence that Possibly Anna was Actual Anna had dropped to 70%, I was 100% sure that I DID. NOT. KNOW. THIS. WOMAN.

So I gave her a confused 'hi' and scurried away.

Things had clearly taken a drastic turn.  It was time to cut the shit and get down to the nitty gritty.  But since I couldn't muster the courage to ask her, "Are you a good witch Actual Anna or a bad witch Possibly Anna?", I had to resort to a sneakier tactic.

This week, I sought out Possibly Anna.  I watched for her down each aisle, and when I finally found her near the toilet paper, I headed her way and quickly scoped the contents of her cart for my in.

Go-gurt.  Bingo.

Four years of preschool pick-ups have left me well-equipped to start any conversation about any child-related topic with any mommy in the whole wide world.  I started in. 

Me: "Blahblahblah *kids* blahblahblah *crazy* blahblahblah *school*."

Possibly Anna: "I know, right?  My daughter's the same way."

Me:  "How old is your daughter?"

Possibly Anna:  "Second grade."

And it's official.


Actual Anna doesn't have a daughter; she doesn't have a second grader; and she would never give 'SECOND GRADE' as an answer to a question about AGE.

I extricated myself from the conversation as seamlessly as I could, finished my shopping, and left.

That was this past Monday.  I know I'm going to see her, this Stranger Anna, next Monday.


It feels a little weird to keep faking it with this Stranger Anna. 

But I can't really walk up to her now, after all these weeks, and say, "Excuse me, but WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?"

And, even more troubling, who in God's name does she think *I* am?

So, lay it on me, dear reader.  What's an identity-challenged grocery shopper to do?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Your Hometown

I drive without purpose, without a destination. 

I can lose myself in this town, in its streets, because I know them all by heart.   I open the windows, turn up the radio, turn off my mind, and just drive.

This is my hometown. 

There is no street not stained with my youth, my past.  The ghost of my younger self lingers around each corner. 

I drive by the house I grew up in.  The outside looks nothing like the home I knew, but when I close my eyes I'm able to walk through the heavy front door and up the stairs, into my bedroom, which smells like fresh air and perfume and hairspray.  My fingertips can mentally trip over things of significance:  pictures of friends stuck to the mirror, stacks of tapes and cds next to the radio, the phone on the nightstand with its knotted pink cord that I twist late at night, covers pulled up over my head as I whisper into the receiver while outside the night slips into early morning.  I can lie on the bed and see the familiar swirls on the ceiling.  I can look out the window, watching, waiting for headlights in the driveway. 

But I don't live here anymore.  So I turn my car around to go. 

At the corner of my street stands a girl I know to be 17.  It's early morning and she's waiting for the bus.  It's April, but it's cold.  She's not wearing a hat or gloves or even socks, because she's too cool for that. She hasn't bothered to zip her coat.  She's got her walkman and it's playing November Rain on repeat.  She's thin and pale and doesn't sleep much anymore.  She's taken to burning bridges; she's  about to implode. 

But she doesn't know that yet.  She only knows that the bus is late.

I want to scream at her to zip up her damn coat.  I want to pull her into my warm car and tell her to stay home from school today.  But I can see the bus coming up over the hill and I know she needs to get on it. 

So I leave her there. 

I drive up the main street in town, past the high school.  Just up the road is the library, where, if I were to go in, the librarian would greet me by name. She would smile at my sons. But she would not see what I see, a girl out front with long hair wearing a flannel shirt.  She's slipping her hand into that of the boy sitting next to her.  It's fall; the day is cold and brisk and gray.  But she is smiling, singing Van Morrison for him. He's looking at her and she feels warm.  These two are sure of everything.  They are still in love.

It's a good place to leave them.

The road continues through the center of town.  I'm stopped at the light outside of a bridal shop.  A young woman comes floating out of the shop, gown in hand, breathlessly gushing to the saleswoman about her impending honeymoon.  She cradles that dress like a baby as she guides it into the back of her car.  She's rushing, busy hanging up her veil on a small black hook in the back seat before flying off to tie up a thousand lose ends.  She is 26 and high on the excitement of everything that's about to unfold.  As I watch her I try to remember what mattered to her then, what she thought was important before her sons were born.

Because, for the life of me, I can't remember.

She's in her car now, and she's driving away from me.  I'd like to tell her to slow down, to not giggle nervously through her first dance with her husband, chattering away a moment she'll never get back.  I'd like to tell her that the day is going to go too fast, but even if I could say these things, she would not listen.

Just as I'm sure, somewhere, there is an older version of me driving these streets, with the windows down and the radio on.  She's watching me at 36 stride into a local bar, meeting friends for beer and trivia.  Maybe she's yelling to me to be careful. Maybe she's whispering to hold on to anything I can while it's still there to be held.

But it doesn't matter, because I've already passed her, taken my seat at the table, and ordered a drink.

I cannot hear her. 

And so she shakes her head and leaves me there, crossing over the town line as she goes home.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Denial: A Baby Story

The bathroom was small and I was pretty sure I was never leaving it.

The woman on the other side of the door knocked. 

"Are you okay?  Don't have the baby in there!" she chirped.

FUCKING BITCH, I thought to myself, why THE HELL does she KEEP SAYING THAT?

"I'll be right out," I finally managed to say, although I was certain by then that it was a lie.  Leaving the bathroom was going to involve pulling up my pants AND washing my hands.  I couldn't remember how to do either.  I could only lean against the wall, close my eyes, and give myself over to the pain.

Clearly, I was very sick.

Which is why I was at the hospital.  I was definitely NOT there to have my baby.

Even if it was February 14th. 

My due date.

I had been to the Labor and Delivery floor once before, 3 months earlier, with regular contractions that landed me on bed rest.  Months went by and the baby stayed put.  At my 38 week appointment, my doctor told me, "You've already done the work of early labor; you can't dilate much further without being in active labor.  I'll probably be seeing you within 48 hours."

The next week, she told me the same thing. 

At my final appointment, I told her I thought she had my dates wrong and that this boy was probably going to be born sometime in June; he'd be the first baby born at 56 weeks gestation.  We scheduled an induction for the following week.

I went home to eat as many Reese's Peanut Butter Cups as possible while I could still blame it on the baby.

So when I found myself waddling up to the woman at the desk outside of the Labor and Delivery floor, I tried to explain my situation to her.  No, no, I wasn't there to have my baby.  I was there because I had come down with a terrible stomach bug and I was concerned about the baby.  I was there to make sure he was okay. 

She asked me for my insurance card.

I asked her where the bathroom was.

"Try to breathe through it," was her super-helpful suggestion. 

"It's not a contraction," I insisted, breathing deeply and leaning forward in my chair to rest my head on her desk. 

"Mmmm-hmmm," she replied, her nails tap-tapping on her keyboard.

"Where is the bathroom?" I asked her again when the pain had eased.

She looked at my husband.  "And are you the primary insurance holder?"

BITCHBITCHBITCH, ohmygod, bathroombathroombathroomBITCHISGOINGTOBESOSORRYbathroombathroombathroom. 

I stood up.  I was an adult.  I could find my own damn bathroom.  She could keep her PRECIOUS, TOP-SECRET, CLASSIFIED BATHROOM INFORMATION, I didn't need her.  If I had to, I would make the 30 minute drive home to use the bathroom.  At least there I knew where they were.
"Wait," she called after me as I walked away, "we're not done here!"

 And so it was that I found myself in the tiny bathroom, uncertain of how to get myself out and wanting to punch The Bitch in the face as she parked herself outside of the door and waited, pen and form in hand.

She knocked again.  "Do you  need me to get a nurse?"

FUUUUUCCCCKKKK.  I needed her to GO.  THE.  FUCK.  AWAY. 

Now, in my memory, what I said was, "No, thank you."


My husband tells me I said no such thing.

In fact, according to him, there were no actual words, just some moaning, groaning, and assorted other noises that I SWORE I was never going to make, back when I naively thought that I would be in a state of mind to control such a thing.

But then, an angel appeared.

She was a nurse.  While I had finally found a moment of clarity in which to coordinate the pulling-up of the pants, it didn't last long enough for me figure out the hand washing.  My nurse, however, was an EXPERT hand washer.

I decided I loved her. 

When I finally emerged from the bathroom, The Bitch shoved a form in my face.  I scribbled my name and bit my tongue to keep from telling her what she could do with her form and her bathroom and her insistence that I was in labor when I was so obviously ill. 

I was immediately hooked up to a monitor to see if I was contracting. 

"No, no, it's a stomach bug," I told anyone who would listen.

The monitors, however, told a different story.  The contractions were piggy-backing; two 90-second surges in a row with a minute of relief before the next set of two began. 

Next, they examined me.

"Well," said my new BFF, the nurse.  "Your stomach bug has you at 8, almost 9 centimeters.  Did you WANT an unmedicated birth?"

Holy shit, I thought.

The Bitch was right. 

I am totally having a baby.

I asked for an epidural.

And while I waited for that, I asked for a Tylenol.

I pushed for three hours as Saturday night rolled into Sunday morning.

As I held my 8 lb 13 oz newborn, my nurse hugged me.

"Not a bad way to get rid of a stomach bug," she said.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Five Reasons to Stop Hating on the Snow (No, really.)

Log in to your Facebook or Twitter account and you'll see that people are talking about one thing:  snow. 

Also, Egypt. 

But mostly snow.

And people are pissed.

But snow's getting an unfair rap.  Everyone loves it at Christmas, yet by February we're cursing it out and counting down the days until baseball season starts.

The snow's not ALL bad.  Here are five reasons I've found to stop hatin': 

5) INCREASED SECURITY  With two feet of snow on the ground and another foot expected within the next 24 hours, there is no way in hell that Bad Guys can even GET to my house to steal my stuff.  Have you tried walking in thigh-high snow?  Even if they could get in, my ice-coated front steps and skating rink of a driveway would keep them from getting away with the loot.  I can't even coordinate carrying my son's backpack and the mail without landing flat on my ass.  Good luck trying to haul away my TV, Bad Guys!
(Author's Note:  This is in no way meant to be seen as a dare, Bad Guys.)

4) CANCELLING MY GYM MEMBERSHIP  Why would I keep paying my monthly gym membership when I'm getting a free workout at home?  In fact, since the snow started falling (wait, that implies that there was once a time when the snow did not fall; that can't be right...) I've been getting far more exercise than usual.  Everyone knows that shovelling counts as both cardio AND weight-training.  My upper body is JACKED.  Just the look I was going for.  Bring on the tank tops, bitches.  I'm ready.

3)  NOW I HAVE SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT WITH THE CREEPY GUY UP THE STREET  So there's this guy.  Who lives up the street.  And he's kind of creepy.  My youngest son and I pass him every day on our walk to pick up my first grader from school.  He sits on a chair on his front stoop and pets his really ginormous dog.  Each day he waves at us and each day we wave back while I silently pray that his dog won't jump the fence and eat my five year old.  Now, we have something to talk about.  We roll our eyes and say, "Can you believe this?"  Or we laugh and say, "Why do we live here again?"  This perk is not limited to Creepy Guys Up The Street; it gives you an opening to make small talk with your mailman, the cashier at the grocery store, or the moms at preschool pickup.  Everyone's up for snow talk; it's the Great Unifier.

2)  HONING MY SUPER MARIO BROTHERS SKILLS  Santa brought us a Wii for Christmas, but the rule is that it's for weekends and No School days only.  Needless to say, it's been getting lots of extra use this winter.  As such, I can almost beat my seven year old at Super Mario Brothers.  Almost.  Four or five more snow days and I will totally dominate the next coin battle. 

1)  FREE BIRTH CONTROL  Somewhere in the far, far recesses of my memory, there exists a time and place where being snowbound was something to be excited about.  It meant loading up the cabinets with junk food, making a beer run, renting a stack of movies (omg, remember video stores?), and shacking up with your favorite person for the duration of the storm.  What else is there to do when you're stuck inside for 48 hours straight?  Now, however, a 'long duration snow event' is more than just a polite way of saying 'a really awesome sleepover that falls in the middle of your work week'.  Now it means that your kids will never go to school again; they will forever be home (yelling, fighting, and polishing off the Oreos you wanted to eat while watching the red carpet re-cap of the latest awards show and yelling at Claire Danes to EAT A FRICKIN' SANDWICH ALREADY!).  Nothing promotes abstinence like a string of snow days.  And not only do you NOT need a prescription for it, but you don't even need to hide the box under a copy of In Style magazine at the check-out.

So, while I don't necessarily WELCOME the snow, I'm ready to deal with it with my new-found optimism. 

Now, if only I can convince my husband to pick up Oreos on his way home...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Someday, this will be gone.

They tell you that it will be hard.  They tell you that you will be tired in ways you've not yet known.  They tell you that you will forever doubt your capacity to love enough, your capacity to give enough, your capacity to BE enough. 

And it's all true.

What they don't do is look at you and smile and remind you, softly, that you are about to fall in love again.

It hit me harder the second time around.  Maybe it was because I had spent my pregnancy focusing on sleepless nights and breastfeeding issues and the fact that my 19 month old had no idea that his world was about to be turned upside down. 

The doctor said, "Reach down and grab your baby." 

And so I did. 

He was mine immediately; gone was the trepidation and uncertainty that came with the first.  I was already a mother.

I was already his mother. 

He was far from an easy baby, with his reflux and milk protein allergy and colic.  I would pace the floor with him as he cried, his little body balled up tightly, like a fist, on my chest.  I would cry along with him, rubbing his back and shaking my head, lamenting to my husband, "I don't know what to do for him."

And then he would do something wonderful; he would smile.  Or wrap a fat, dimpled hand around my finger and pull it towards his little gummy mouth.  And I would fall harder.

With all of this falling in love came the startling realization that there were a thousand tiny things my first had done that I swore I would never forget.  But I had forgotten them.  His babyhood had slipped through my fingers far too quickly as I spent my days looking ever forward, anticipating each new milestone, each accomplishment that brought him just a little more independence, made my life just a little bit easier.

The second time around, I knew better.  He was still waking in the night as that fall turned into winter.  I would gather him up from his crib, with his round diapered bottom, his soft footie pajamas, his busy little legs.  As I sat rocking him in the warm glow of the nightlight, breathing him in, his sweet fuzzy head so soft against my cheek, one thought lay heavy on my shoulders, wrapping itself around me.

Someday, this will be gone. 

And so it is.

Five times now we've sung Happy Birthday, blown out the candles, opened the presents.  Five times now I've smiled through the day, only to find myself with an ache in my chest that night.  He'll go to kindergarten next year; this breaks my heart in a hundred different ways.  I straddle two worlds, one in which I'm looking ahead to the freedom that will come with having two children in school all day, the time to focus on a career I want so badly.  The other is one in which I'm forever reaching backwards, trying desperately to hold on to all that has come before. 

He comes to me with a book in his hand and climbs onto my lap.

"Mama, will you read this to me?"

It's a book I've read dozens of times, a book so boring that I cringe at each page, with it's description of hydraulic pumps, chassis, and cabs.  There is a cup of coffee growing cold on the kitchen counter.  There are unanswered e-mails in my inbox.

Yes, sweet boy, I will read to you. 

Because I know.

Someday, this will be gone.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Age of Aquarius

Taped to the wall next to my desk is a horoscope I cut out of the newspaper last summer for inspiration. 

It says: AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): You have so many good ideas and, if you implement the ones you think you'd enjoy doing most, you will be in a much better position financially and emotionally.  There is money to be made.

Come to find out, IT'S ALL A LIE.

Thanks a lot, SUN.


In fact, I'm pissed at the whole frickin' UNIVERSE, with it's EVOLUTION and CHANGE.

It's bad enough that I memorized 'My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets' in the 5th grade only to grow up and have Pluto be stripped of it's title of planet.  What the hell did Pluto ever do to anyone?  Did it send texts of its junk to other planets?  Not once.  Was it indicted on charges of embezzling from one of Neptune's moons?  Nope.  Was it caught in a seedy hotel room with Uranus, snorting coke off of Jupiter's rings?  Not how Pluto rolls.

However, the heinously unjust treatment of Pluto was minor (like a dwarf-planet, yo) compared to this.


I like being an Aquarius.  Aquarians are considered to be creative, witty, intellectual, original, and independent.  All good.

Um, also, they may be a bit stubborn.

Now I'm told I'm a Capricorn.  Capricorns are supposed to be disciplined (I'm carrying 20 lbs of baby weight; my baby is FIVE, do I SOUND DISCIPLINED?), ambitious (have I mentioned the novel I've been working on for the last 5 years?  See also 'disciplined'.), organized (you DO NOT want to see my closet, something might bite you.  I'm not even kidding.), and mature.

Mature.  You know the 'beans, beans good for your heart' song?  I taught it to my sons last week.  Because I'm really so very mature.

Therefore, true to my Aquarian nature, I am metaphorically sticking my fingers in my ears, closing my eyes, and yelling, "LALALALALALA*ICAN'THEARYOU*LALALALALALA" to the astrology world.

Because I'm an Aquarian through-and-through.  And if there were any doubt, I ask you this:

Would a Capricorn notice that you only need to change one letter to turn 'mature' into 'manure'? 

Didn't think so.