Thursday, February 27, 2014

So trivial and also very important

Hello friends! I know that you have excellent taste and I am wondering if I can draw on it.


This is how I seem to live my life. I let my hair grow until it is past my shoulders and I love it so much for a while because I can pull it back and keep it out of my face and off my neck and all is delightful.

And then all I do is pull it back, because my hair is very fine and flat and once it gets long it basically looks like you've cooked an entire box of spaghetti and then draped it in a single row very carefully from the crown of my head. Flat. So flat.

I'm not a fan of products because I don't like how they feel. So once it hits a certain point, it is flat. So it only looks OK pulled back.

I get to that point and then I am all, you know what would solve my life? A Delightful Pixie Cut! With a ton of bleach!
And then I head to the salon and get my hair all chop chop chopped and then after a few months I realize that I really want long hair.

Then I spend the next year or so with frustrating in-betweeny hair.

And then, then guess what happens? Right.

So. This time! This time will be different! I am actually going to give it some thought and find a picture or two. This time, I am not going to get a pixie cut!

I'm going to get...something. Something else.

Is an asymmetrical bob too last year? Too close to what I always do? My favorite haircut ever was short over one ear and sharply tapered to the chin on the other side. But that was in high school.

(And is not to be confused with the time I shaved the one side into a Cyndi Lauper crisscross.)

As a boss once said to me when we were discussing fashion, if you were there for the first go-around, probably best to skip the second.

But this is quite elegant, and much subtler. But too last year? Does that matter?

I also love love love this haircut but I do not know. Nick says I will regret the bangs. And I might not have thick enough hair for it to look like this. Not sure. (Also, please excuse the totally chipping nail polish. I almost never polish because I suck at maintaining.)
So those are my thoughts.

Open to and grateful for suggestions.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Dear Dear Dear

Dear Stars in the Sky:
You may already know this, but if you've been busy and not noticed, a brand new star has joined you. Her name is Lou. She's lovely and sparkly and kind. Please welcome her warmly and keep her good company. We miss her very much down here.
Love, Lisa

Dear India:
Why why why is 3:30 am the preferred hour to be up complaining? And by complaining I mean screaming like your skin is being peeled off. Why? I love you more than sunshine but you are messing with my sanity, which is rather fragile as it is.
Love, Mama

Dear Tooth Fairy:
Please bring my daughter the rest of her teeth. I will pay you cash money, as much as you ask.
Love, Lisa

Dear Warm Weather:
You are frabjous! Please settle in, make yourself at home, and do not be scared off by winter. We've had enough of that dickhead.
Love, Lisa

Dear New Orange Dress:
How are you see-through? You are wool. Knit merino wool. You are a strong orange. You looked opaque to me when I put you on.
So how is it that at the end of the day, in evening light, my husband was able to tell me the color and style of my bra and underwear? And, more importantly, how many other people would've been able to tell me the same throughout the day on Wednesday?
Love, Lisa

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

And then we wonder why people don't invite us to parties

Last Saturday we went to an Olympics party at our neighbors' place. We have just started getting to know them, and really like them.

Nick and I both medaled in attendance. I chose gold. He chose silver and bronze. They gave us extra to take home.
We have now gotten hours of entertainment out of these medals.
Jordan loves them and India wants nothing to do with them, which is bizarre because she typically likes the pretty shiny sparkly just as much as her Mama and Rain Man do.

Some people are very good at walking into a room of strangers and just...talking. To a random person. Someone they do not know!

Nick, for example. He is great at this.

He will walk up to someone, open his mouth, introduce himself, and start talking. Like, you know, no big deal.

And he'll say the most prosaic thing.

It's not exactly, "Hi, I'm Nick and I ride the bus to work!" But it's along those lines.

And do you know what happens? People chat right back to him! Then they go ahead and have A Whole Conversation.

It might be about sports. About politics. About the weather. About the beer. Seriously. He started a conversation about Pabst Blue Ribbon the other night.

Meanwhile, I hide behind him. Which is not hard. I can stand slightly behind one sleeve and it doesn't even look like hiding. It just looks like his arm has legs.

Don't get me wrong: I'm friendly. I don't have social anxiety.

I just get clenchy with a big group of strangers. I don't enjoy the small talk.

I don't have much to say about the weather except lately things like this fucking winter needs to end - and I am sick to death of saying that. I don't know the sports. I'd feel ridiculous turning to a stranger and being all, "Oh, PBR! Nice choice!"

But apparently that's what you do with strangers because it works.

Fortunately, I bumped into the husband half of another neighbor couplealso people we don't know well but like very muchand he told me his wife was downstairs.

They're both fascinating. I was delighted.

But we had been talking not more than 10 minutes before I realized we were talking about suicide. Suicide, people.

And I was all, "Oh, my God. I clearly fail at party conversation."

I clearly do the opposite of small talk.

And then, then a bit later I went off to get a glass of wine and came back and there was Nick, talking in detail about horse insemination.


Friday, February 14, 2014

And I thought that love was a stranger in an open car to tempt me in and drive me far away

So you know I spent all those years being all, "I'm going to die alooooooooone! I won't even be a cat lady because I'm allergic and I hate them and so I'll be alone alone alone and then I will die. Alone!"

And since my therapist paid friend had been trained not to roll her eyes even when she heard this for the thousandth time, she did not. She just very calmly pointed out that I was not, in fact, alone in the world. I had many people I loved and who loved me.

And I, having not been raised in a barn, did not roll my eyes back at her.

I just went home and sobbed because she was so totally wrong. I just needed The One or The One of 26 to come along and make my world sparkly happy. Someone would love me so much and we would live happily ever after.

Or something like that.


My coupled friends - the ones who weren't suggesting that perhaps my standards were too high - would tell me that I would meet the person. Particularly when I wasn't looking. So I should stop looking so hard.

To which I probably did roll my eyes, and mutter in my head, "Easy for you to fucking say. You're not alone."

Now I have been married for over five years, and I feel very certain in my place in a loved and loving family. And I am almost never alone. In fact, I long to be alone sometimes.
And what I've learned about love is not new in the world, but it was certainly new to me.

Sparkly love is so exciting. Long-term love is not.

There may be couples who keep it spicy even after all those years, but we are not among them. Monogamy is tedious. Having kids adds a layer of joy and sucks out five layers of romance. There have been about 87 katrillion articles written on this. This isn't news to anyone.

Marital love, and love of your kids is so solid you can practically take a bite and chew it. It's like hearty stew, thick nurturing soup, Minnesota hot dish.

It's not exotic. It's not spicy. It's not surprising. Sometimes it's very sweet, and it's often tender, but substantial. Always substantial.

This is not the love I thought I was lacking. These were not the droids I was looking for.

The Valentine's Day we are sold is all about romance and flowers - red roses! - and frou-frou gifts and chocolate and lacy lingerie and bubbly drinks...leading, one assumes, to the S-E-X. Love! Passion!

We are inundated with red and pink hearts. I love all this shit as much as the next person, but that's not love.

Valentine's Day, when I was single, made me feel so inadequate, so unloved. I remember all those years in college, and years in my mid- and then late-30s (because I'm pretty sure I had a boyfriend of one sort or another solidly through my 20s. I made sure there were no gaps.).

I wasn't unloved. I just didn't recognize how much real love I had around me.

So I realize this is easy for me to say, because, despite the odds of a meteor hitting me being higher than me getting married at 39, and procreating after 40, I am now married with kids. And even if Nick and I ever got divorced or someone stabbed him in bed, I know that I love and am loved, and always was.

And I know that I will in fact never be alone.

(Particularly, I suppose, if I'm in prison for stabbing.) 

Big hugs and lots of love to you!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Chillin' in the crib + bootie butts

Apparently it is a bad idea to get in the crib with your child, even if it makes her so very happy and she goes to sleep very calmly after you hang out with her for a bit.

It turns out that together we are approximately 100 pounds over the weight limit. We could break it.

And then we would have NO CRIB. Lisa.

Nick said this. He had A Tone.

We have taken to rocking her to sleep and if she is up and disgruntled later, we gruntle her and she goes back down and we haven't had a terrible horrible no good night since last week, so there seems to be some progress.

In other news, Jordan has a bootie butt. I cannot, however, get him to shake it.Or tell me where he learned this little ditty.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Mairzy doats and bowsy doats

Would you let your son go to school wearing a bow in his hair?

This morning Jordan started sobbing because Nick took the bow out of his hair and told him he couldn't wear it to school.

He doesn't actually care about the bow - he's worried about teasing.

Jordan has gone to school with nail polish and with bead necklaces. In fact, he has red beads on today. He has on a shirt with various shades of purple and an orange pocket.

Last night we'd gotten hair bows for India, because her messyhairdon'tcare is always in her eyes now. I don't want to cut it. I love the mullet. But she's been opposed to bows.

We went off to get some of the clippy kind that a friend of hers has.

So we chose a few and talked them up. "Ohh! A bow! With dots! So pretty!"

But you know, there's nothing comparable for boys. Boys don't get to wear sparkles or adornment or really much of anything fun or frivolous, as far as I can tell.  The older he gets, the less fun his clothes are.

So Jordan immediately wanted us to put one in his hair as well. I did. He loved it. He said he was going to wear it to school the next day.

I was fine with it. Nick was not.

Nick and I talked about it and Nick said he wasn't going to let him. "He can't. People will tease him."

My thought was, let him. If other kids tease him, he'll either take it out and decide he doesn't want to, or he won't care.

He loves adornment. He notices what I wear, what Nana wears, and he compiments us. "Oh, Mama! I like your dress!" "Nana! You look so cute!"

It's adorable.

Yesterday afternoon I came downstairs wearing jeans and a sweater and boots, and Jordan said, "I want to change before we go out! I want to wear something cute, too!"

Now, I'd worked out and had thrown on jeans and a turtleneck sweater that was in the pile to be hand-washed. I hadn't sweated a whole lot, because our back room is cold, but let's be honest: I was none too clean to begin with.

I'd washed my feet, however. I don't know how you feel about this, but I hate putting sweaty feet into shoes or getting in bed with unwashed feet.

But I said we were only going to Target, and his outfit was totally cute, and mine was the same thing I'd had on earlier and look, I still had on my workout shirt underneath!

Thus mollified, we left without changing.

But later, Nick said, "I can tell you for a fact that I never asked to change into something cute when I was a kid."

I comment on apparel a lot - I love clothing, I love shoes, I love sparkly, flowery things, and I am always all, "Oh, that's so cute! I LOVE your sparkles! I LOVE your boots!" etc etc.

It's not that I don't say these things to Jordan: he has a dragon hoodie that I wish they made in my size. I LOVE the dragon. But like I said, for the most part, the boy clothes aren't ooh-and-ahh-worthy.

I don't know how to think about this. Should I stop talking about appearance? Oohing and ahhing over cute clothing? (Can I? Clothing and shoes are among my favorite things?) I don't want to start telling him that boys typically wear this and girls typically wear that.

It is true in terms of bows and nail polish and tutus, yes, it's true, but he's only four. I think he should wear them as much as he wants to.

I do think wearing the bow would be fine.

What do you think?

Friday, February 07, 2014

I'm not suggesting they'd be sexy

Now what I really want are a pair of thigh-high Uggs.

(Also, the T-shirt in the picture looks like it's ruffled, which is really not my style, because I first put two little boob marks to show that it was a fitted outfit, but then they just looked weird. So there you have it.)

They do not seem to make them taller than knee height. Perhaps they think the demand would be low? Or perhaps it has not occurred to them?

Nick said this was a bad idea because they're not actually all that flexible (he stated with authority, having never even stuck a toe into one), to which I said, waving my feet in the air, "Au contraire! They're like butter!"

Like soft, furry, sheepy butter. Which, uh, sounds disgusting. But I mean it in the best possible sense.

And I would never swipe it on your nose. I promise.

My Uggs just feel so good I wear them all the time. But they feel best when I first get out of bed and am wearing them with my boxers. It's too cold outside not to wear pants.

But! But if they made thigh-high boots, then you actually could wear them with a skirt or a dress because you'd be wearing fleecy sheepskin almost up to your hoo-ha, which doesn't typically get all that cold.

Although my butt gets very cold. Does yours? My hands, my nose, my feet and my butt tend to get ice cold. But really, it's my hands and feet that bug. My nose and posterior, not so much.

In fact, I often don't know they're cold until I touch them. Which I don't do on a regular basis. In case you were worried that I walk around in public monitoring my butt temperature.

Actually, I would like an entire Ugg bodysuit. I think that would feel fantastic. 

And on a sort of related note, we were explaining to Jordan that our house used to be a hotel and that our kitchen used to be a bedroom. And so he asked what his bedroom used to be.

"A fart factory!"

Unlike the fartsadillas, this one went over very well. A fart factory! Just imagine!

You'd definitely want to wear your Ugg bodysuit if you visited, no?

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Parenting help! Help! He-e-elp! HALP!

My India is basically the cutest thing I have ever seen except for when Jordan smiles at me so sweetly and then I'm pretty sure I've never encountered anything more adorable and so it goes.

They are always the most amazing children I have ever laid eyes upon as I imagine yours are for you and this is as it should be and we are all correct.

India has started saying, "No, tank ou!" when she does not want something. And if she bumps into you, she will say, "Sorry!" in her little tiny girl voice and this I also think is the sweetest thing ever on the planet forever.


Just like a hippopotamus, she can turn on a dime, and when she is angered, oh, the rage. The RAGE.

In fact, I have a Very Terrible little video of her shreiking like a banshee, and I would happily share it with you but for the fact that 1. she is all nakey, and I fear that someone creepy might come across it while searching Youtube for naked shrieking babies, and 2. you might sue me for causing hearing loss.

But in any case, if you have ever been to Target and seen a kid on the floor of an aisle, back arched, mouth open, terrible, hideous, evil screams emanating from his or her mouth, you will know what I am talking about.

And if you have not, well, how nice for you.

So here is where I need some help. Because we did not and do not have this with Jordan. Jordan is a sleeper.

When he was small, I would sing to him and put him down and he would stick his little thumb in his mouth and put his butt in the air and he would sleep. He still naps on the weekends, and he sleeps hard.

He doesn't necessarily want to go to bed, but once you are in bed telling stories in the dark (which are now, as directed by him, about Lego Jordan, Lego Goldilocks, and Lego Sophie, who go on adventures and fight Lego giants. Yes, it is a bit cumbersome to have to insert Lego before each name and object. "So then Lego Jordan got into his Lego car and rolled down the window." "Was it a Lego window, Mama?"), he winds down and then he goes to sleep, generally without protest.

Beelzebub, on the other hand, is now infuriated by having to go to bed.

Even if I lay it out for her ahead of time. Every night. Because we have the same fucking routine every night.

"We are going to read two (or however many) books, and then we're going to turn off the light and sing, and then we're going to go to bed. OK?"



Every night, when we get to the bed part, even if she's fine when I put her down, she commences screaming when I close the door.

Sometimes at the end of singing, when you ask her if she's ready for bed, she says, "Bed!"

So you think she's all ready to snuggle in with her friends doggie and lion and graff and blankie.

She is, until you leave.

Sometimes she begins wailing before I go, and then I stay and try to pat her back but she is all, "NO, ASSHOLE. PICK ME UP OR LEAVE ME ALONE TO HOWL IN PEACE."

Last night she said, "Bed!" And then we got up to go to bed and she said, "Sit!" Which means, "Mama, plant your butt firmly back in that chair and keep rocking me."

And then she said, "NO BED! NOOOOOOOOOOO!"

I rocked her a bit, then went and put her down, and by that time she was kicking and screaming and when I set her down she really let me have it. No, I could not touch her. No, I was not allowed to do anything to try to make her feel better. No no and no.

She can maintain this level of rage for a long time. Like, over an hour. Last night she yelled for two hours. TWO HOURS.

If she hears your footsteps approaching, she'll quiet down. If you don't go in, all hell breaks loose. If you go in, it's all sweetness until you get ready to go.

And she screams and screams.

Then she falls asleep exhausted, and typically sleeps the night.

We've gone in and patted her, gone in and rocked her, gone in and soothed her until she was sound asleep. But the more we go in, the longer she keeps it up.

I am a cry-it-out parent, and I leave her be when she's having a tantrum. I have let her rage on many a sidewalk when she isn't getting her way.

But this is different.

I don't want her this upset every night. But I also feel like the more we go in, the more she knows that if she yells, she will summon one of us.

She used to fuss in bed, but not at this level, and not for this long. And then she went through a period where she'd be all calm and sweet, and sometimes even say, "Night night!" when you put her down. And she'd go to sleep.

We've had this nightly caterwauling for a good week or so now.

What do we do?

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

What's left

So when my mom went to France last year, she brought back this Tour de France-y clyclist.

I so wish I'd taken a video of him in action, or even pictures of him before, piece by piece, he and the bicycle got destroyed.

I found this woman on the Internet, which is what he looked like on his bike.

His little feet stuck on the pedals with the posts you see at the bottom of his one remaining leg, and then you stuck him on the bike seat, and his, uh, penis held him in place. (I assume the woman cyclist also has a penis, unless they got a little more creative with her bike-seat attachment bits.)

Nick is convinced the designers had a good laugh over his design.
You put the hands he used to have, which were attached to the arms he used to have, around the handles. And then you turned a switch, and he pedaled the bike around in crazy circles while playing, oh, what was he playing? It was Pop Goes the Weasel or Yankee Doodle or something completely unexpected.

It was delightful in the kind of way that I imagine mild hallucinogens to be. And then rapidly annoying because honestly, there's only so much tinny music you can listen to while watching a crazed plastic biker careen around.

(I have done a bunch of searching in my limited French and am unable to find this guy in a store. Otherwise I would have more accurate facts and perhaps even for you.)

In any case, his bike broke because someone not quite four feet tall but way to big for the bitty plastic bike sat on it.

And then he lost an arm up to the elbow. And then the rest of it. Just a flesh wound! Come back here, you coward!

But Jordan still carried him around. We lost piece after piece, and still, there was something compelling about him.

And then the other day we found him - or rather, what was left of him: head, torso, leg, and penis.

At this point, he had to go.

Bye-bye, bike guy!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

How to talk to someone who is grieving

Recently I was in a conversation about how so many people do not know what to say to the loved ones of someone who is ill, or who have just lost someone dear.

I understand this. I used to be so uncomfortable with loss. I would panic, and I would avoid. How do you talk to someone who has just lost a parent, when you still have both of yours, and life isn't fair? How do you make them feel better?

And then I learned that they do not expect you to make them feel better; in fact, the odds are you will not, in any large way. You might momentarily, though.

And here I should note that I do not mean to sound preachy, and if you have anything to add, I would welcome it.

Because here's the problem with not saying anything, or with crossing the street to avoid talking to someone you would previously have chatted with: it comes across as uncaring, unkind. Maybe even rude and weird.

I know from my own experience with my dad's suicide attempts, and then from his death, that many people do not know what to say. There were people who weren't close friends, but who I knew cared about me, who did not say anything.

By then I knew that it was lack of knowing what to say, rather than not caring about me. But it still creates some awkwardness.

Sometimes they will avoid you. Or if they don't, it would be easier if they did, because there is this big THING hanging there unspoken, and your conversation is all kinds of trivial and odd.

A couple people said something like, "I feel weird..." or I just don't know what to say..." and that works perfectly. Grieving people understand this. Nobody really knows what to say.

It just fucking sucks.

You can also say, depending on the person's profanity tolerance, exactly that: It just fucking sucks.

But the simplest thing to say, I think, is this. "I'm so sorry." If you are a hugger, and you want to give the person a hug, ask if they would like one.

If you don't know the person well, but well enough that bumping into them and not saying anything would be awkward, you can say, "I heard the news. I'm so sorry."

You don't need to ask any questions. You don't have to offer to cook them dinner. You don't need to share your experience or feelings.

I would add that unless you are friends and you know the grieving person is religious and will be in agreement and be comforted by this thought, do not say, "They are in a better place."

Because that can make a person stabby, because they are probably feeling like, no, in fact, the better place would be STILL HERE WITH ME.

Also do not say things like, "You're strong. God only gives people what they can handle."

It turns out that I can handle a fuck-ton, but I don't believe God has dished out extra helpings to me because I'm strong enough.

So if you're someone who gets flustered, who wants to run away, just remember: "I'm so sorry."

That's all you need to say.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Because caulk never gets old

I mean, talking about caulk never gets old.

Because there is, of course, that terrible caulk problem from schools built between the 1950s and 70s. The deadly, deadly caulk! The toxic caulk!

Old caulk, it turns out, can be a problem.

So yesterday Nick went off to the hardware store and returned with, among other things, a big tube of caulk sticking out of the pocket of his pants.

Because of course, our up-upstairs bathroom is currently being held together with caulk. Nick intends to just keep caulking the crap out of it until we can get the whole thing redone.

We should buy stock in caulk. Caulk stock.

I was standing in front of our house with several neighbors. We were amassing our kids to go to the park and enjoy the lovely weather.

So the caulk. How can one resist? And then once you begin with, "Is that caulk in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?" how can you not continue?

The answer is: I do not know.

In other words, there was a lot of caulk talk. So much caulk talk.

I cannot contain myself.

That is me, faced with caulk. Just like those poor schools and their PCBs.