Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Trajectories and abilities

Last Friday was Jordan's one-year checkup.

He weighs 23 pounds, 14 ounces. This puts him in the 50th percentile for weight. So what I would really like to know is, how big are the 100th percentile babies? Because he is huge.

As far as I understand, it doesn't really matter what the percentile, as long as the growth trajectory is steady. And his is.

The head, it continues right along in the 90th percentile.

We had a new pediatrician this time. She was perfectly nice. She asked about all these things that he might be doing at this point - and one after the other I was all...Um. No.

"Does he point at things?"

"Point? No." (He's supposed to be pointing?)

"Can he use a spoon?"

"No." (All by himself? Are you kidding?)

"Does he say 'Mama'?"

"Yes!" (Yay! We got one!)

"Exclusively meaning you?"

"Oh. Well. No." (Mamamamama = this sucks, generally speaking. Although now that I think about it, maybe Mama and Mamamamamama are different words? Hmm.)

"Is he walking?"

"No. I think his 90th percentile head weighs him down." (Seriously. Have you seen the head? It falls him over.)

"Does he imitate your behavior?"

"Imitate me?"

"Yes. Like, when you're cleaning, does he pretend to clean?"

She made a wax-on kind of motion with her hand.

"Or when you're vacuuming, does he pretend to vacuum?"

"Clean or vacuum? Um, no." (It took all my self control not to laugh. This question was based on the assumption that he's actually seen Mama clean in his entire little life.)

But seriously. At the end of this I was all, really? All these other kids his age are doing all these things and he's not? Are we doing something wrong?

And then she told me not to worry, that he was totally normal, and then the nurse came in and gave him four shots and it devolved into screaming chaos.

But other than that, it was fine.

Monday, August 30, 2010

LA is magic but bring your own books

So you remember pre-digital cameras, and actually having to get film developed?

And sometimes you'd get a roll back to find that your friends had taken your camera into the bathroom and snapped pictures of their butts and their boobs?

Or maybe this is just my friends. Ahem, Maude and Jane.

So.

This was one of those pictures where Jane decided that no flash would be better and somehow was able to hold perfectly still, which I am never able to manage. When I downloaded it I was all, "Ohhh! Magic!" Because I always wish for unicorns. But I forget all about pegasuses. Pegasi?

Magic!

But let me also tell you that if you think you are going to just walk into a bookstore in downtown LA and purchase the second book of the Hunger Games trilogy, you are sadly mistaken.

Actually, let me take a step back. I printed out the list of all of your wonderful suggestions - for which I don't believe I thanked you - so, THANK YOU!

Several of you suggested Hunger Games, and the title and description kind of sucked me in, so I bought it for the plane. I really wanted to get the Graveyard Book, but it was hardback. Alas. As were several other of your suggestions that intrigued me.

So I bought Hunger Games, and it was EXACTLY what I was looking for in airplane reading. Except that it made me cry a little here and there.

I know. I don't know.

So then I immediately wanted to read Catching Fire, the next one. One afternoon, Steve, my conference husband, and I went looking for a bookstore.

We walked over to a mall that Google said had a Borders. It was closed.

Steve asked someone in Radio Shack where to buy books, and they said, "Uh. The library?"

Right.

We went to the LA Visitors Bureau, which was nearby. We asked if there were any bookstores downtown. They said, "There was one, but it closed. You can take a bus to one, though. It's a nice ride."

You guys. There are no bookstores in downtown LA! And nobody seems concerned!

Either: Everyone reads books on their Kindles. OR: Nobody reads.

The airport had a bookstore, but alas, no Catching Fire. Also, no David Sedaris. Not that I could find, anyway.

What I did wind up reading was Her Perfect Symmetry, by Audrey Niffeneger.

This also made me cry. But man, was it amazing.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A porn star by any other name...

Yes, I do recognize that this will not help my reputation one tiny bit.

Also, Jane took this at the Standard in LA. Do you know how badly I now want a Batphone to Sin?

Anyway.

You know when someone says something clever and then you think really fast to be all, "Oh, yeah? Well, witty come-back to you, too!"

Sometimes this works out better than others.

We're watching the first season of Six Feet Under. Nick had never seen it.

Me, I watched all of the seasons with my parents several years ago. I'd sometimes stay over on Saturday nights and Betty and I would watch one and then another and another, until it was 4 am and we were both devastated and practically comatose.

So Nick and I watched this episode with a porn star with these huge fake boobs.

You know I have friends with breast implants, and while I have no actual desire for fake boobs, I've given the idea some thought. In other words, I know my stand.

When we got in bed I said, "If I ever get fake boobs, I'm getting small ones."

"Where did this come from?"

"The show tonight. The porn star."

Duh.

Nick was silent for a moment, and then he got this big smile. I figured he was thinking about the breast implants.

But no. He then said, "So if you were to make up your own porn name - not the dog street thing - what would it be?"

"I have no idea."

"You want to hear mine?"

"Of course."

"Girth Brooks!"

He beamed.

"Hilarious. How long have you been waiting to use that?"

"I just made it up. Just now!"

And so I started thinking, fast. Because who wants to be outdone on this sort of thing?

"OK, I have one! I know what my name would be!"

"What?"

"Dolly Farton."

"Dolly FARTON? What kind of porn name is that?"

"What? You started it. Girth Brooks?"

"I think you should reconsider. As Dolly Farton, you'd be relegated to scat porn."

"I don't want to do scat porn!"

He shook his head. "The normal porn people aren't going to hire Dolly Farton..."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The motivational speaker

The conference opened with this amazing motivational speaker, is I guess what you would call him.

He'd had all kinds of impressive success in business and I think continues with the businessy business, but has also just written a book and is giving speeches.

He totally sucked me in. He made me cry no fewer than three times during his talk. He was very moving.

I know they get these speakers so that you sit there and get all inspired, and then you go back to your office all kinds of motivated to effect positive change. To turn around and inspire others with your newfound passion.

He motivated me, all right. But not in the intended direction.

Because here's the thing.

So he was talking about how he was striving for a CEO position of this huge company...and his current company approached him repeatedly. But he just didn't feel like they were big enough or prestigious enough. So he turned them down repeatedly.

And then one day he woke up and was all, "FML. I'm living the life my dad wanted and transferred his expectations to me. I am not happy. I'm not living my life story!"

Of course I paraphrase with the FML. I'm pretty sure he's above that.

Anyway, he then said yes to the other company, which was and is focused on health care. He began living his life story. He started being happy.

And then he told these moving and tear-inducing stories involving successes and life changes of others.

What he was leading up to, of course, was this: Are you living your life story?

He said, "You know your life story. Everyone knows their life story...but they don't necessarily live it. Some people sell out for money, or fame, for example."

He paused.

"Are you living your life story? Or have you sold out?"

At which point I was all, "FML, no, no goddammit, I'm not living my life story."

And then it hit me. Not only am I not living my life story, I have sold out.

For health care and retirement benefits.

Fucking motivational speaker.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The moment of clarity

I woke up this morning thinking of flying. I get on the plane in a few hours and I cannot even tell you how excited I am to see my family.

But what popped into my mind first was, "Take us to fucking LAX!"

Years and years ago, I dated this very sweet guy named Jon Longuglylastname. At one point in our short relationship - while at a swanky hotel in NY for his cousin's wedding, and I was all, oh my, this is lovely, and sure, maybe we'll get married one day - he said, "Lisa Longuglylastname sounds great."

Somehow I had the good grace not to reply, "Nothing Longuglylastname sounds great."

So all was well and good the first few months, as they tend to be. He was adoring, and he took me fabulous places. I desperately needed the adoration. And I reveled in being treated to fabulous places while in grad school.

And then somewhere about month three, he began to irritate me. It was the beginning of the end.

This was right about the point where his dad sent us tickets to LA for Thanksgiving. My parents were in South America, so there was no holiday conflict there.

So he was annoying me...but I'd never been to California. Maybe things would improve. Maybe travel and and time with his family would make things better.

Ha.

His father, who'd seemed nice, turned out to be this angry little rat-faced insanely wealthy man who YELLED when he was mad. Which was every time he didn't get his way.

They lived in an LA version of a chateau, in a gated community. All the everything for the house had been ordered from France or specially made. Jon and I stayed in the guest house. Which was next to the pool. And the tennis court.

I don't mean to sound shallow when I say that I wanted to love him. I really did. Fine. I was shallow.

Anyway. His father sent us tickets, and off we went.

This was before I was certain of death on flights. Thank God.

Also, it was November. The Santa Anas were raging. This is relevant.

So we arrived in the airspace above John Wayne airport. We tried to land.

We headed down like a normal landing. And then the plane kind of swooshed sideways, like when you hold a toy on a string in front of a cat, and the cat bats it sideways. Except we were in a plane. Sidewaysing.

We headed up. Fast.

The pilot said, "The winds are kind of strong. We're going to circle a bit and try again."

The second time we tried, we looked like we were landing, and suddenly whole plane tilted left, and we, who were on the left, were staring at the veryvery close runway through the window.

The pilot jerked us straight up in the air.

This was when people started freaking out.

The pilot came back on and said, "The winds are a little stronger than expected. We're going to circle and wait for another plane to land successfully. If it looks like we can't land here, we'll head to LAX."

And people started yelling. "Take us to fucking LAX!" People were hysterical.

I was sitting there clutching his hand thinking, "Fuck. I'm going to die with fucking John Longuglylastname. Fuck."

That's when I knew. I really really knew.

We did wind up landing there on the next attempt. People burst into tears. Flight attendants ran up and down the aisles hugging people. No exaggeration.

The winds were insane. The palm trees were bent over so far that their frondy green heads were almost touching the ground. There were fire trucks on the runway.

It was just the beginning of a long four days.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Last Guest Blog for Now: The Big Question

Thank you all for the nice comments. Unlike Lisa I am not very good at responding to them. However, she will be back from her L.A. lark tomorrow evening, and so by Thursday you should be back in more courteous hands.

In advance of asking one of Lisa's close friends to help me gather the rest of Lisa's close friends for an unexplained gathering one frigid February Saturday night a couple of years ago, I asked her father for her hand. I then rode with her mother to the jewelry store where Lisa had seen a ring that she really loved. Betty went to the Giant supermarket next door and bought me a roast beef sandwich, and I bought her daughter an engagement ring. Then we drove back to Betty and Mike's, where I enjoyed the sandwich with my future in-laws and completely avoided the subject of why I was out at their house for lunch on a Tuesday afternoon.

I enlisted Lisa's friend as I knew her best, although I barely knew her. She herded up as many good friends as possible on short notice and with no explanation of why they were gathering. We all agreed to meet at DC Coast on Saturday night at 9:00 pm, and I had reservations for 7:30 pm.

Saturday arrived, and I had the flu. I was in bed all day, and I could have been a character in a Nyquil ad. Lisa couldn't understand why I still wanted to go to dinner, and yet I persevered and we left at 6:30 pm. On the way to the restaurant, I asked if Lisa wanted to see the FDR Memorial at night. She knew it is my favorite memorial, and she agreed even though it was bitterly cold. It was so cold and windy that I gave her my coat when we got there. Ten minutes later, by the Tidal Basin, she agreed to be my wife.

We then went to DC Coast, and after dinner, on cue and as a big surprise, Betty, Mike, and all of Lisa's friends appeared. It was a wonderful night, but Lisa had my flu by Sunday evening. Monday morning rolled around, and she was as sick as a dog. However, despite it being a very cold and rainy morning, Lisa got up to go to work. I asked her why she wasn't going to stay home, and she declared, "I have waited almost forty years for this day, and I am not going to miss this for anything." And with that she tromped off to work, where she held out her hand (and possibly some flu germs) to all well-wishers.

She then she spent the next three days in bed. With her engagement ring on her hand the whole time.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Guest Blog: Memory Threads from the Basement of Time

Lisa asked me if I wanted to guest blog while she was out of town, and so here goes.

I became a father a year ago at the tender age of 41, and about a week later I uttered for the first time in my life the sentiment "I'm too old for this shit." The first weeks were exhausting, but, as you might expect me to say, the last year has been the most sublime experience I have ever had.

I have a friend from school who was paralyzed from the waist down when he was three. He has been in a wheel chair ever since, and one day someone he didn't even know brazenly asked him whether he missed walking. I am color blind, and I don't think I miss out on any experience color-wise. However, I think walking is more central to your life experience, and so I was surprised when he said that being in the wheelchair is all he ever knew, so no.

I didn't know what wasn't in my life before Lisa and Jordan, and so I didn't see my life as less than whole. However, my life is so much fuller now, I can't fathom my prior existence anymore.

So, this weekend Jordan and I had a boys weekend at home. As Jordan is one, this consisted of sampling ice cream and going for walks. We also read a lot, and I grew up reading Noddy and Beano and eating scones, leg of lamb, Welsh Rabbit and chip butties (which Lisa forbids me from ever eating again or from feeding to Jordan in the future). Jordan and I have recently been reading Mother Goose, and I couldn't tell you who likes the nursery rhymes more.

I assume that nursery rhymes are far more familiar to most American children than are french fry sandwiches, which I assure you are spectacular. However, I didn't realize how familiar these nursery rhymes were to me until I read them to my son. Suddenly I remembered wearing corduroy shorts in winter and being at my Aunt Mabel's candy shop in Yorkshire. I remembered the caravan in the garden and the way it smelled and the popsicles that had been in freezer for so long that they didn't taste like popsicles any more. And I remembered my grandmother reciting from memory rhymes that I now read to my son:

I had a little nut-tree, nothing would it bear
But a silver nutmeg and a golden pear;
The king of Spain's daughter came to visit me,
And all because of my little nut-tree.
I skipped over water, I danced over sea.
And all the birds in the air couldn't catch me.


It struck me that my grandmother remembered these rhymes from when she was a girl and someday Jordan will hear these words and will pause and remember, although he probably won't be aware that the source of his memories first began to take shape almost a hundred years ago and thousands of miles away. For now, however, we simply enjoy the pictures and the rhymes and the time we spend together.

I always enjoy it when Lisa's blog resonates with readers, who then share their similar experiences. I would love to hear some distant memories that were suddenly awakened by a familiar sight or sound, if you are willing to share.

Nick

Saturday, August 21, 2010

And then I burst into tears

I talk a big game.

Because yay, four days and nights of being a grown up person all by myself!

Yes, I'm a mom, but I'm more than that. I'm me, an adult professional. One with bright ideas and networking skills and good outfits and appropriate shoes and understated lipstick.

So there I was, leaving..

Autonomy. Quiet. Freedom to choose to do whatever I wanted to do with my down time. I'd been fantasizing about it for weeks.

And then I woke up this morning with such a heavy heart. Nick and Jordan walked me to the corner, hailed a cab with me, and kissed me goodbye.

And I got in and burst into tears.

I said, by way of explanation, "It's the first time I'm leaving my baby."

The cab driver said, "It's like that. And even when they get older, it doesn't change. I've got two kids in college, and it's still hard."

That made me feel better.

By better I mean less embarrassed about the tears and more terrified by the concrete realization that my fragile heart now resides outside my body.

In fact, it's currently in the hands of a little boy with no judgment and kind of sketchy motor control.

I love him so.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Listen. Our lives are pretty small at this point.

The only way you are going to find this remotely amusing is if you're over a certain age.

And even then, I'm not sure.

As you know, Nick takes J on a walk around the block every morning. They know the homeless guys in the neighborhood. They pet dogs. They meet new people.

This morning they met a man at the top of the street who told Nick he was a Vietnam vet. He'd also been a Navy SEAL. He'd been decorated by the President.

I said, "Wow!"

"I'm not sure all of this is true."

Suddenly! I realized the potential that this conversation had!

"Hmm. Well, you may be right. He may be crazy...But he just may be the lunatic we're looking for."

And Nick - my true love - replied, "Turn out the lights. Don't try to save him."

"He may be wrong, for all we know."

"But he may be right."

Sooo, yah. That was breakfast.

And with that, I leave you for LA. I'm trying to convince Nick to do a post or two for me while I'm gone, at the suggestion of FoggyDew. He's very busy, so we'll see.

Happy weekend, all!

PS. Photo above, taken yesterday during J's birthday celebration? Seersucker pants! Hard to tell in the photo, but they are. Definitely think the man in seersucker pants needs to blog.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Twelve big months = ONE!

Today, my big little lovey man, today you are one!

ONE BIG YEAR OLD! ONE!

This is you at breakfast this morning. With yogurt on your face. And on your PJs. Which you have clearly grown out of.

A year ago when you arrived you were itty bitty. Big for a newborn, but itty bitty in our world.

I remember when they pulled you out. I couldn't feel or see what was going on, but as soon as your head peeked out, you wailed.

You. Had. Arrived. HELLO!

Immediately, four of the doctors and nurses exclaimed on your size and told me that I was very happy you hadn't come out of my vagina. Apparently you had a big head, even then.

This story will horrify you when you're older.

They pulled you out, and your dad got all choked up, and he leaned down with huge tears in his big brown eyes and whispered, "He's perfect."
And you were. And you are.

Now! One whole entire year later! Now you sleep through the night and take two naps a day. But when you are awake, you are AWAKE, boy howdy!

You are in constant motion. You have to explore everything.

And when you're sitting, you're bang blam blam blamming things on the floor.

Some people might think a truck is a toy to be pushed. See the wheels? See how it goes? Forward and back? Oooh, the wheels!

You, on the other hand, think a truck is to be picked up, examined, and then BANG BLAMMED down on the floor. Repeatedly.

You have a very sweet disposition, but you've also been teething, and that makes you really crabby. You now have six teeth, although mostly you just show the two bottom ones. You bite when provoked.

And by provoked I mean when anything is in or too near your mouth. Or when anything looks particularly intriguing. Like my toes.

You say "Mama" regularly, and I'm pretty sure Mama means me. But it also means, "I want," and "I'm not very happy with this situation." There's a lot of "Mamamamamamamama!" going on.

You say "Dada" and I think that just means Dad. There's no extra messages there.

A couple days ago you started saying "Hi!" and last night when I got home and said, "Hi!" you said, "Hi!" right back. I'm pretty sure it wasn't a fluke.

You adore garlic. You like eggs cooked with garlic, pasta with garlic, avocados mashed with garlic. Sometimes when I'm patting you to go to sleep the garlic wafts up at me.

Truly, I hope that you're not "the boy who smells like garlic" once you're at school. I was the girl with the orange mustache, and it wasn't easy. I guess we've got time.

You've got an extremely strong personality, and when you're mad about something - like being picked up for dinner when you want to keep playing - you are furious. You bang on the tray, you throw the spoon on the floor, you glare.

The thing you don't know is that you've met your match, little friend. I love you, but let me just tell you now: in these situations, Mama is going to win.

I know you're frustrated because you're on the verge of walking and talking and there are so many things you want to say! and do! And you can't quite say! and do! them yet! But you will, sweetheart, you will.

The past month has been huge for you: You took a big car trip for your great-grandfather's 95th birthday. You threw up on me. You sat on the beach and you hated it, although you still ate some sand. You've tried all kinds of new foods. You've met lots of new people. You're more mobile and more talkative than ever.

I'm so excited to hear what you have to say. You're so chit-chatty and when those turn into real words, oh, we're going to have fun.

We love you more than sunshine, and we feel so lucky to have you in our lives.

Love,

Mama

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Easy peasy travel reading

I rarely read anything more plotful than the Crate and Barrel catalog anymore.

I mean in print. I read a number of blogs. But those are not airplanishly portable.

Yes. I'm going on an airplane. On Saturday. All by myself. But more on that in a moment.

So, with the reading. It tends to be pointless to start a book when I know that the inbetweens will be so long I'll have to start it over to refresh my memory. And my New Yorker subscription went the way of the mornings where you roll out of bed just in time to put on a cute dress and makeup for brunch.

I did, however, just finish I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley. I really enjoyed it. My high school friend Nicole introduced me to her writing, and her stories are short and fun, in manageable babynap or metro ride sized chunks.

Actually, Nicole suggested her new book, but when I went to buy it, the store didn't have it, so I bought that one instead. And the new one is hardback, which I am not buying for travel.

And here is what I'm leading up to: Have you read anything light and easy and fun lately? Something that would be perfect for a plan ride and/or an evening or two? I would love some suggestions.

Because here is the thing. I am flying to LA for work. I would mention the fact that I'm going to sleep all by myself in a hotel room for four nights all by myself but that might sound like I'm gloating all by myself, so I'll just keep that to myself. All by myself.

Heh.

And by that of course I mean that I'm going to miss my husband and my baby terribly. All by myself.

I'm even going to see California Jane while I'm there. Ohhh, fun!

I mean, in a missing my family terribly every moment kind of way.

So, I could buy magazines for the plane, but it's so much more fun (and so much easier to keep your mind off certain or even just likely death) if you can get lost in a delicious book.

The Twilights would be perfect. But alas, I've read them.

It needs to be paperback, and easy to dive into. Also, nothing that will make me cry. I hate crying in public.

Anything you've loved lately?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I was going to title this "Man me once..." but that just sounds dirty

Admiral Farragut is now my buddy for life.

I don't retain facts, even when I try. My emotional memory, or whatever you might call it, however, it spectacular.

Not useful. But very strong.

When something really gets me, I remember it forever. I can still recite 16th century French poetry from classes a lifetime ago. I remember clothing and smells and the look on a face and the tone of a voice from years and years past.

When I'm looking for a passage, I know the location of text on a page, although I might not get the name of the book right.

But give me facts and dates and I am all uh-huhzzzzzzzz. I’ll be left with some vague recollection, but more like how you sweat liquor the day after a long night of drinking.

It’s there, but it’s pretty far from its original form.

So Betty called last night while I was in the shower. She’d gotten lost in the dark on the way to our house. She pulled over somewhere on Connecticut.

Nick said, “What do you see?”

“A CVS.”

“Hm. What else do you see?”

“A dry cleaner.”

As Nick was telling me this (once Betty was safe and sound at our house) I said, “This is so much like when you overhear tourists on cell phones here, and they’re all, ‘I’m at a square. The one with the guy on the horse.’”

(If you don’t live in DC, let me tell you: They all have guys on horses. And tourists say this kind of thing all the time.)

Nick replied, “It wouldn’t be a square. It would be a circle.”

“There are squares. That one near the White House.”

“You’re right – Farragut! But he’s not on a horse.”

“He’s not? I've walked through there a million times. Of course he is."

"He's really not."

This makes me indignant on his behalf. "Isn’t he a big name? He should have a horse. It’s only fair!”

“Except that he was an admiral.”

Long pause for insane laughter. In other circumstances, I'd be embarrassed, but he knows who he married.

“Ahhhh. Not so much on the horses?”

“Not so much on the horses.”

“Admiral Farragut! That’s right! Man the torpedoes!”

“Close. You man them once, you’ll never do it again.”

Monday, August 16, 2010

Post-birthday thanks, unraveling knitted threads, and Justin Bieber

I want to tell you how very much I appreciate all your gracious input. I asked for your preferences, and you gave me very thoughtful answers. You all are just wonderful.

As many of you know, I've wanted to write a book for a long time. I'm trying to. It is a big, scary project.

I've started writing pieces but I just suck at outlines and writing is easier because here's what I don't know: What's the story arc? Where does it start and stop?

In other words - what am I actually doing with the whole thing?

I can't even get into am I good enough, because that's another conversation entirely, and one that I cannot indulge in, because it is paralyzing. I mean, I write professionally, but those pieces are not my topics, my heart.

And really, how hard is it to write about caulk?

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

But seriously. When it's you and your topic choices and your heart, could you be more vulnerable?

However, I have to try. If it doesn't work out, at least I won't ever be 80 looking back and wondering, you know?

One of my friends wrote, "I can't really say what story I like the best. They are all short wonderful chapters of your life...like threads knitted together so as you pull on one thread, it pulls another one with it and it another and another. One would not make sense without the other."

Isn't that so beautiful and poetic?

This is exactly what I've been struggling with.

It all ties together. I can't write any of it without writing about my dad. I wouldn't be who I am without him, without the light and dark, without the joy and the struggles and the happy surprises and the terror.

Growing up with my dad figures into everything.

But I don't want to write a heavy book. And I'm having trouble figuring out how to just write about the funny without including the other parts, because, as she said, you pull one and it pulls another with it.

You're always you at whatever point, after all.

And so I turned to you for input on what you like. Because I figured, you already like me and how I write, so mostly it's a content question.

I've saved all your comments and emails in a Word file on my desktop for reference. I appreciate so much you taking the time, and being so thoughtful. These are gifts, and I don't take them lightly.

Also, that little 16-year old singing fuck Justin Bieber? Apparently his memoir comes out in October.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

OK, I'm working on this thank you post but first I have to ask you a question

So, Nick went out for a run with Jordan about two hours ago.

Two hours! Actually, a little more.

This is not a man who runs for hours.

And I don't know if I'm being paranoid, but I realize I might be, because every time he's gone longer than I expect, every time I can't reach him when I try repeatedly, every time he's not where I think he'll be, it's like this:

I'm sure he's dead.

Especially when he goes out to exercise. I totally picture his weight and all those disgusting animal fats that are surely clogging his arteries getting the best of him.

And he'll come home and I'll be all, "Oh, thank God you're not dead."

He doesn't appreciate it.

But seriously.

Once you're a middle-aged man with this undisclosed amount of extra weight that is tantamount to strapping an adult Labrador Retriever around your waist, and this family history of men keeling over from heart disease, and an obese father who had major heart surgery and now has eaten his way back to his prior weight...

Well, your wife is going to worry.

So I'm just saying.

And now I don't even remember what my question was. Oh, yes. Do you do this?

Or is it just me?

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's my birthday and I'm asking you for stuff

This is me, today, on my 41st birthday.

You never think you'll be this old, and then here you are. And it feels good!

So I'm going to ask you to do something for me. I was going to say I'm not going to beat the bird in the bush.

And then I realized it's beat around. And there's no bird in the bush you're beating. Around. It's the bird in the hand. Which you, ostensibly, aren't beating.

Although one time I did tell Maude that her stupid boyfriend was kicking himself in the foot. (It turns out to be shooting. And he was stupid - she'll agree.) Whatever. You can't make a pig's purse out of a rat's ass.

Enough beating the bird. Getting to the point.

Those of you who read and comment are so incredibly thoughtful and bright and interesting - yes, I know this - I pore over you comments - and I have something to ask of you. And if you'd indulge me on my birthday, I'd be most grateful.

Would you tell me which stories of mine you like best? Either the types of tales, or specific stories. Ones that could perhaps be expanded upon. Or that I could perhaps concoct more of. (And yes, I know I should say of which I could concoct more.)

You know I'm working on something larger, and the truth is, I need some help.

You read me - so what do you like?

Thank you and hugs all around!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

And I asked Henry, my bartending friend, if I should bother dating unfamous men

I think I loathe the new W.

I used to like the rooftop of the Hotel Washington. The food was mediocre, but it was such a nice place to have drinks and hang out. It was friendly and low key with a beautiful view.

And now, now it's all Very Important and Extremely Annoying.

You walk towards the elevator and a beautiful skinny woman dressed in black asks where you're going and you tell her and then it is all, "Oh, do you have a reservation? No? Well, you could go up to the standing room only section."

"Uh, OK."

"The beautiful skinny woman in black - no, not her, the other beautiful skinny woman in black - will take you up in the elevator. And then you can go out onto the roof and feel inadequate."

So we did this. Three friends and I, all in cute outfits with good shoes - because it was a DATE! With each other! Because, yay! We are moms, and we go out pretty much never. Happy hour! With other people taking care of our kids! Let's try the W!

So it's not like we were under-dressed. Or like any of us are provincial.

I think it's just the W.

Although I don't remember being made to feel like I was just so lucky to be there at other Ws.

So we went to the roof. On a hot as balls day. The balls hotness I cannot blame on the W.

The irritating pretentiousness, though? Definitely.

We arrived about 5:30. Which is when we were told that we could stand. We figured it would be super crowded.

There were about 10 people up there. With a jillion empty tables and chairs, all with reserved signs on them. It wasn't like you were jostling for the standing room.

You were just, well, standing.

The bartender was nice, and he said it's that they get reserved for dinner, so they have to put the signs up early. But we could sit until someone with reservations arrived for their table.

Just at that point, though, two bar stools opened up. We took them.

I learned then and there it was better to stand. Because that way the sweat could run all the way down your legs. Rather than pooling in your butt crack.

It was that kind of hot. And I am that kind of charming.

So we decided, we're here, the view is great, we'll have one glass of wine, and then we go inside or elsewhere.

I'd have been amenable to going inside until they decided it was time to take away our stools.

Seriously.

The guy said, "I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to ask for your stools."

And then he took them away! Everybody stand now!

At which point we decided it was time to head elsewhere.

I think that if I ever want to feel inadequate while I drink, I'm just going to stay home with a Vogue magazine and a bottle of wine. At least it'll be air conditioned, and nobody's taking my chair away.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

And now you're going to think I'm on a religious kick, but it's totally coincidental. And sparkly.

So last week, when they weren't talking about merkins over in the Quangle, they were talking about Twilight.

They were explaining Twilight over the cube wall to the New Guy, and Maricel was talking about how the vampires sparkle in the sun.

Me, I am team Jacob all the way. Nothing about the pasty Brit or the marble loins appeal to me - but oh, the sparkle! I love sparkle! But this is not about me and my sparkle fantasies.

Actually, I don't have sparkle fantasies. Or barely legal werewolf fantasies either. In case you're wondering, Nick.

So this new guy on the other side of the wall said, "Wait. They. Sparkle?"

(And of course when Kaysha was telling me I was all, duh, of course they sparkle.)

So Kaysha explained how it was written by a Mormon housewife.

Which can really be used to explain away lots of things. I know; I watch Big Love. In fact, I might start using it as my excuse.

So New Guy had questions about a couple other things, and the fact that the author is a Mormon housewife came up a couple more times...

...until Kaysha asked, because it suddenly dawned on her, "You're not Mormon, are you?"

To which he replied, "No. I'm a Scientologist."

Which is kind of the perfect answer, don't you think?

"Hahahahahahaha! Ha. Ha?" Is what Kaysha said.

Because his response to that was, "What's funny about it?"

Either he's a Scientologist, or he has an really dry sense of humor. We still don't know.

Kaysha wants to ask him if they wear special underwear.

My beef is, he's a Scientologist and he thinks it's weird that vampires sparkle in the sun? Which then makes me wonder why I'm all sticking up for the vampires. The fictional vampires.

I'm not sure what this says about any of us.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I admit it. I shamed us in a Friendly's.

Before last Saturday, I'd never been to a Friendly's.

And ever since, Nick has been saying he can't believe I shamed us in a Friendly's. He's told pretty much everyone we know.

In my defense, I wanted to go to IHOP. Or Waffle House.

It's a feeble defense, I admit.

So at Friendly's they really are friendly. And they're very child-friendly. Maybe because there are so many children there.

(Ahem. Foreshadowing.)

By the time we stopped for lunch, I desperately needed to pee. This is only relevant because I headed straight to the restroom.

Which meant that when our super friendly hostess seated Nick and Jordan, Nick was all, "Sure, he'd love some crayons! That's a great idea!"

Note to anyone who plans to ever have a one-year old: Crayons are not a great idea.

I sat down at the table to a baby with an orange crayon in one fist and orange wax crumbles stuck in all six of his teeth.

So I did what any reasonable person would do. I reached in to pick the orange crayon out before he could swallow it.

At which point he looked me straight in the eye and chomped down on my index finger with his evil sharpy little teeth. Hard.

He didn't break the skin, but barely, and only because my yell scared him enough to open his mouth.

I bellowed, "Jesusfuck!" Loudly.

It was more like, "JESUSFUCK!"

Thus causing pretty much everyone in the half-full restaurant to turn and look. Most particularly the one table next to us with three beautiful little blonde girls, one grandmother, and one aunt.

I apologize profusely and repeatedly. I blushed seven shades of red.

If I could've died of shame then and there, I assure you I would have. It's one thing to swear around your own kid. It's entirely another to yell something that terrible around others.

Also, you should know that I don't run around saying Jesusfuck, much less yelling it. It came from a place of fear.

They were very kind about it. They asked how my finger was.

They stopped to talk to us on their way out. The grandmother and aunt were watching the girls while their parents packed.

They were moving to Kentucky. In order for their father to attend the seminary.

In other words, it's likely they're familiar with the Jesus part of the epithet.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Because at this point I consider myself something of an expert on the subject

I don't know if you've ever accidentally created a situation on a trip that then horrifies a multitude of people?

Like maybe letting out a fart so vile on a plane that at least 10 rows around you start talking about it? And the flight attendant comes by with air freshener?

If so, you might think that you'd already experienced the most appalling public incident possible while traveling.

You would be naive.

Because maybe you spent over eight hours on Saturday driving to a family event in suburban NY. With your semi-gruntled but becoming more and more disgruntled child in the back seat.

Eight fucking hours.

Because 295 sucked and 95 sucked and 40 sucked and the New Jersey Turnpike sucked.

And then when you pulled off to get your kid something to eat, maybe your kid made a funny noise while you were standing in line at Sbarro.

And that funny noise turned out to be his pre-vomit sound.

Because then he maybe puked all over you and himself. Head to toe.

Twice.

Which would mean that a number of people would recoil - not least of all the Sbarro people, who were just about to take your order - as you headed out the door to Go. Find. Dad.

And, uh, sorry for the puke, Sbarro. (Nick totally tipped the clean-up guy.)

Nick was waiting for gas.

He was fortunately at the head of the line, so you only had to stand on the side - soaked in vomit, picking lunch off your shirt, with a wailing baby and kind of whimpering yourself - for several minutes.

In your single, child-free days, you likely never imagined that one day you would find yourself: stripped down to your undies wiping vomit off your face, neck, torso, and entire child; throwing both of your clothes into a thank-God-husband-packed-it trash bag; changing a diaper; and changing both of you into clean clothes IN A PARKING LOT OFF THE NEW JERSEY TURNPIKE.

And beyond the kid, it's the barefoot that bothers you, not the nakedidity, because God knows what could be on the ground in the parking lot.

It's amazing how little shame and how much panic you have when vomit is involved.

Seriously, the humiliation might last longer, being stuck next to those people for the entire flight and all, but take it as fact: producing the fart of death on a plane is much less of a production.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Dear Dad, summer 2010

Dear Dad,

It's now been over a year since we lost you.

I always think it's odd to say lost, since for me it conjures up visions of things misplaced - keys, sunglasses, umbrellas - and sometimes found in random places. Or returned to you by others.

But in my mind, it involves some careless action on one's part, the losing. And we tried very hard not to let you go.

I don't know where this picture was taken - India? Egypt? - but it is so very you. You loved the water, loved the beach. And some piece of you always walked alone.

You were so gregarious, such an extrovert. You loved people. You were so charismatic; people were drawn to you.

You had so many friends, but at core, I think you kept yourself alone.

So it's been over a year since you left.

Nick and Phil brought the sailboat over to DC. It now has an engine that works, as well as a functional navigation system. And they both know how to read nautical maps.

In other words, their journey was a lot longer but a lot safer than when you and Nick brought the damn boat across the bay.

I still think about how lucky you were that the boat didn't catch fire and sink. While you were in the middle of the shipping lane.

I bring up the boat because one of these weekends when it cools down, when it's beautiful out - perhaps early fall - we'll take your ashes out and set them free.

I've been reading a little about scattering ashes. Or cremains - turns out Angel at the funeral home didn't make up that bizarro word.

When I think back to last spring and summer, they just seem surreal.

The aftermath of your death was seemingly endless. It took months for the DC coroner to determine the cause of death. I wanted to scream, "How can it matter? He's dead!" I wanted to stab someone for dragging it out, keeping us from wrapping up the administrative pieces. Keeping us from beginning to heal.

Sometimes I cannot believe we lived through all that.

I know you didn't intend it. But Virginia would've been a lot easier. DC is run by incompetent idiots.

Anyway, Dad. I still miss you so much. There are so many moments where I see Jordan doing new things and I know how much you two would enjoy each other. You would love my boy like crazy.

And you'd be so proud of what we've done with our house. It was terrible when we started, and now it's lovely, or pieces of it, anyway. We have you to thank for it. So, thank you.

I love you and I miss you.

Lisa

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Because how could you not speculate on the ingredients of said menu item?

Apologies in advance to anyone who might be horrified.

Say you're hard at work in your little worker bee cubicle world.

You're focusing on writing about something scintillating, like endowment spending or the effect of the economy on federal funding for education. For example.

Suddenly, your concentration is broken. By a question from the Quangle wafting over the cubicle walls.

"What's a merkin? I know I've heard of it."

Surely not because we used to talk about them far too often for a workplace.

It turns out one of your colleagues, the lovely Maricel, in pre-wedding diet mode, is looking at a diet plan's week-long menu.

She says, "This diet plan has a lunch item called a Mirkin Burger."

(It turns out to be spelled differently. But still seems a poor choice of name.)

How would you respond?

A. My best guess is a thin slab of tofu covered in sprouts.
B. I don't know, but one of the ingredients is surely tuna fish.
C. Ewwww! Gross!
D. What's a merkin?
E. ____________

I chose A. Kaysha is the one who said there should be tuna fish.

Because I am a 12-year-old boy. And so is she.

And maybe you are, too. Thoughts?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

And if it isn't a name, it should be.

(Photo credit: www.sandy-martin.com)
Of course I think of myself as a thinker. But then I realized that we probably all do, no? Who is ever all, oh, I just don't like to think too hard?

This is something that made me stop and question myself, because I really was all, do I just not think enough?

It's true that if you tell me something with enough conviction I'll believe you. Like the fact that clothing clogs hot tub filters. Yes, I know, I know. Now.

But it made me wonder if just go ahead and believe things however they're presented to me. Maybe I don't have a complicated enough mind?

Or, maybe, maybe it's that I'm so open minded, and have been exposed to so many cultures, that I don't question when something doesn't line up with my experience?

I don't know. But so look, here's the thing.

Do you watch Big Love?

If so, you know Hollis Green, the creepy prophet of the other polygamist group. If not, well, there are two big groups of polygamists that feature in the story, and creepy Roman Grant leads one of them and creepy Hollis leads the other.

Evil and creepy creepy.

Hollis, it turns out, has a solid first wife named Selma, pictured above, who typically dresses in suits and has a man's haircut pixie cut. Selma turns out to be Roman's sister.

In other words, she's a woman.

Does she look like a woman to you?

Because I always thought she was a man. I thought she was he and he was Hollis's minion.

And then there was this one episode where it became clear that he was she because she was Roman's sister. Hollis's WIFE!

We were watching and I yelled, "Holy crap! Selmer isn't a man! She's a woman!"

This wasn't news to Nick. "Of course she's a woman."

"How did you know?"

"Her name is Selma. How many men do you know named Selma?"

"Her name's not Selma. It's Selmer! And now Selmer is a woman!"

"It's Selma. Selmer isn't a real name."

"Sure it is."

"Is not. Have you ever met a Selmer?"

"Absolutely. My Uncle Selmer."

"Liar."

"Yeah, you're right. But it's a name."

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

What about now?

In theory, I love the pixie cut. It's bold, it's great for summer, and it's easy.

However. I have a lot of the whole do I look like a boy?

I was carrying laundry upstairs on Sunday, and there's a mirror on the landing, and I caught this flash of myself, and I suddenly had this, oh, God, it's like when I was a kid and that one hairdresser in North Dakota cut off all my hair and the neighbor kids asked my mom if her little boy could play with them.

And now I have wear lipstick and dresses every moment until I have more hair. Crap.

So I set the basket down on the bed, where Nick was reading intently.

"Do you think I look like a boy?"

"What? No."

"You're not even looking."

"I think you're beautiful."

"C'mon. Look. Boy?"

"No."

"How about now? What if I turn my face this way?"

"Nope."

"If I clench my fist and sneer like Billy Idol?"

"Stop it."

"How about if I stick a pair of socks down the front of my pants? What about now?"

"I like your hair. Please give me my socks."

Monday, August 02, 2010

What I imagine it would be like to spend time with a two-foot tall teenage girl with no language skills and six teeth

I know you're not supposed to say this, but I just can't stand my kid today.

I've been pulling some serious revisionist history and fantasizing about how awesome my single life was.

The fact is, I couldn't really stand him yesterday, either. Nick went out of town for work and I was all, fuck, now I'm alone with the kid.

Because everything? Everything is terrible.

UP! MAMAMAAAA I. WANT. UP!

NOOOOO! UP IS TERRIBLE! WAAAAAAAAAH! DOWN! I WANT DOWN!

WAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAA YOU ASSHOLE! DOWN IS TERRIBLE! IN FACT, DOWN IS WOOOOOOOORRSSSEE THAN TERRIBLE! WAAAAAAAHHHHH!

I DON'T KNOW WHAT I WAAAAAANNNNTTTT AND YOU'RE NOT DOING IT!

Being awake is terrible.

Napping is terrible.

The only things he wants to do are things he's not allowed to do. And this enrages him.

I suck because I'm not allowing him to actually eat the corner of the board book that he manages to chew off.

I suck because I closed the bathroom door, when the toiled could be an endless source of delight, if only I weren't so mean.

But I am. I'm so mean.

I suck because I won't let him pull on that one fucking plug in the middle of the fucking wall that was the only fucking place that Nick could plug in the fucking speaker.

AAAAHHHHH! THAT PLUG! IS ALL I WANT IN THE WORLD! AND YOU'VE TAKEN THAT AWAY!

Yes, yes I have.

The high chair? Might as well be a guillotine.

AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH NOOOOOOO NOT THE HIGH CHAIR!

WAIT! NOOOO! DON'T PUT ME DOWN FROM THE HIGH CHAIR! WAAAAAAAH! DON'T YOU LOVE ME?

And I am all, listen, little pal. If I didn't love you this much, or have this much self-restraint, you think we'd still be here, doing the Asshole Dance together?