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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Little slices of death

For those of you who have followed me for a while in der blogosphere (and if so, what the hell's wrong with you?), you probably already know that I have, for some time, endured a somewhat amusing assortment of sleep-related maladies.

As a small child, I had night terrors...horrible dreams from which I was unable to wake. I'd start screaming in my bed and my mom would have to literally carry me into the bathroom and splash cold water on my face to get me out of the clutches of whatever was fucking with my subconscious that night. I dreamed of falling down holes, of my parents being disfigured and shrinking, of cobras and the white witch from Narnia (bitch scared the shit out of me). These dreams subsided as I got older, and then I started sleepwalking.

I didn't really go anywhere, just poked around the house, but this was the source of some real concern for long-suffering mom, who could never be sure if, upon checking on me late in the evening, she might find me tucked in bed, downstairs hiding behind the couch, sitting at the kitchen table talking to no one, or balled up like an armadillo in the back of my closet, laughing like a mad scientist.

As the years went on, however, I grew into a seasoned virtuoso of sleep. I am now a paratrooper, a crackerjack. A Green Fucking Beret. I relish my sleep the way an obese person does a hot buffet at the Piccadilly. I suck the meat off the bones of sleepytime and savor every delicious minute of it.

But lately I've been dreaming again. Ugly, graphically realistic dreams revolving mostly around losing my hair and needing to go to the bathroom.

I know. What the hell.

In one dream I had festering scabs all over my head, which made my hair fall out in bloody clumps. In another I was at work and my boss came up behind me with a flowbee and sheared off the entire front section of my hairline. Don't know what a flowbee is? I've provided you with this useful instructional video.

Questions? No? Good. Now, moving on.

In these dreams I often have a painfully full bladder, and I cannot find a place to go to relieve myself. I either am forced to use a fetid, feces-smeared abandoned toilet (and I'm never wearing shoes!), or I discover an huge open room with numerous toilets lined up like barber's chairs and am unable to pee in private.

What do you think, dear readers? Please discuss. Since I started reading my blog comments, I've saved a ton of money on therapy.

Inquiring mind wants to know.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Flip Flops.

In December. This shit ain't right.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Jesus Tootsie Rolls

While rummaging through Lily's Halloween candy the other day, I came across this.



Monday, November 30, 2009

CAUTION: I'm really lame.

So I'm driving this morning and I see a mom from Lily's school in front of me, and she's got a bumper sticker that says, CAUTION, and something illegible beneath it. So me, desperately trying to add to my short friend roster in this new city, am thinking, oooh, let's check this out. Maybe it says something racy and/or provocative, or at least un-Jesusy, and maybe this is a mom I need to have a Community Coffee with.

As I inched up to the car though, I saw it said, "Caution, I drive like a Cullen".

As in, Edward Cullen. From the "Twilight" movies.


Immediately all I could think of was Amy Poehler as the mom in "Mean Girls", in the hot pink Juicy sweat suit, chillin with the teen girls and serving them appletinis after school and wanting to 'hang out', and asking, "So, what's the 411? What's the HOT GOSSIP???"

And I realized that although I enjoy the Miley and the High School Musical and sometimes even listen to Disney XM when the kid's not even in the car, this profoundly shames me and I would never, ever, EVER admit it to anyone (except all of you), much less advertise my love of my kid's teeny bopper culture on a bumper sticker.

So, Judgy McMe votes nay on that mother. I think that we shall probably not be friends, after all.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I feel like such a turkey.

OK, I admit I am a little touchy around this time of the month, but I just called up the mom of one of Lily's little friends on the block to come over and play (here in the south for some godforsaken reason they give the kids the WHOLE week of Thanksgiving off, and I am already yanking hairs out by the roots looking for fun stuff to do).

The little girl's grandma was watching her and her brothers, as mom was out playing tennis. And when Grandma asked the kid if she wanted to come play, the kid's older brother said (loudly enough for me to hear), "she's not allowed to play at Lily's house."

Slap. Right in the face.

Well, fuck you too.

I don't know why I care. I shouldn't. But I hate the idea of someone I don't know judging me. So, of course, I took that moment to do a personal inventory and try and figure out why a woman I barely know wouldn't let her kid play at my house. Here are some of the reasons I considered:

A. We have hanging in our hallway an abstract-ish naked oil painting Jeremy did of himself in college (which I love, because he looks so vulnerable with his red pubes), with the word 'Fuck' written in tiny letters on the bottom.

B. Our dog is brain-damaged and selectively vicious-seeming when people come to the door.

C. We have buddhas and incense all over the house, leading people to believe that perhaps we are... 'alternative'.

D. We're not married but are co-habitating, which I think the baby jesus says is a sin, thought I haven't boned up on my bible lately.

I guess the bottom line is fuck what she thinks, right? Or maybe she doesn't even really have any issues with us, she's just really strict about where her kids play.
Either way, I need to not be so thin-skinned. It's not easy for me though.

Happy Tofurkey Day!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cut, Uncut

My last post got me thinking a lot about weaners. Don't you love that word, 'Weaner'? It just sounds so silly coming out of the mouth, like you should be making a goofy, pursed-lipped face while saying it. WEEEEEANERRRR.

I should probably specify that I'm not talking weaners that you cook outside on the grill and eat with ketchup. No, ma'am. I mean the human kind. I am talking about penises.

Once I babysat a kid who called his penis his "Weanis", like a combination of 'weaner' and 'penis'. I think that his parents were just cruel to teach him that, since surely the first time he refers to his equipment as a 'Weanis' in junior high school, he will fall victim to a vicious (and perhaps well-deserved) locker room beatdown.

Anyway, penises, yeah. I've been thinking a lot about them, lately. Actually, I've specifically been I've been thinking about circumcision. To cut or not to cut?

I worried, when I was pregnant, that I would have trouble making that decision if I had a boy. Luckily, Lily came out with girl parts so I was off the hook, but if I ever had another baby and it happened to be male, would I snip off his foreskin? If so, why?

So far the only (sorta sensible) argument I can find IN FAVOR OF circumcising is one that says, hey, most guys are circumcised, and an uncircumcised penis looks weird. Moms I know who have opted to snip the skin have said, "I want him to look like his dad. I want him to not feel self-conscious when he gets older and sees that other penises don't look like his".

OK. Here's what I wonder though: Do guys really compare dicks with their dads? Or with other dudes? Because I can say with total honesty that I have never really thought about my vagina in terms of how it measures up with other vaginas. I certainly never watched my mom exit the shower as a kid and thought, Damn, I hope my vagina looks like that when I get older.

Is it a guy thing? Is it an American Culture thing?


Monday, November 16, 2009

I know this much is true

So, I'm working a freelance job where the men and women all share a bathroom, and this makes me very uncomfortable. I'm not sure why. Also, I've discovered that my fashion sense stopped operating in the current year back in about 2003. Try as I might to throw together a cute outfit for work, I always end up looking like a big dick. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's a Teabagger, Stupid

My whole family was here this weekend. This was the first time any of them had been in Baton Rouge, so we wanted to show them a really kick ass time. I had lofty aspirations of visiting a few plantations, some of which are rumored to still have intact death rooms and plaques on the walls bearing names of slaves who resided there, and each one's original sale price. I personally cannot imagine a more interesting way to pass a Sunday, but we didn't make it out of the city this go-around.

We did, however, hit some local hot spots (mostly our back yard patio with several bottles of wine), and the Mighty Mississipp, and the Capitol Building downtown, where we were fortunate enough to catch a rally with the Tea Party Express. This was great fun for my left-leaning Yankee kin, whom I was hoping to treat to a little red state flavor whilst they were enjoying all the other good stuff Baton Rouge has to offer. It did not disappoint.

We got to hear original songs about universal healthcare and euthanizing the elderly, while peaceful demonstrators waved signs that read, "I DIDN'T VOTE FOR THE OBAM-INATION", and "Just say No to Tyranny!"

It was awesome. I think my mother didn't end up in this picture because she was trying to get a picture of a sign that some guy had on his golden retriever that said, 'Revolt Against Socialism'.

It was an interesting five minutes, but our time was better spent at The Chimes by the University, where we introduced my mom and sister to Crawfish Etouffe and Boudin Balls and made my nephew eat fried alligator by telling him it was chicken fingers. Is that wrong?

Anyway, Happy Tuesday, Mofos! For your amusement, here is the Tea Party Express's signature tune, belted out for us by singer and self proclaimed "Black Teabagger", Lloyd Marcus.
Yes, he calls himself that.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It's, like, so Weird, Here

This morning on the way to school Lily dug out a small umbrella from beneath the passengers seat and tried to poke me in the ear with it from the back of the car. She said, "Mommy! I'm cleaning your ear with a tampon! Ha Ha!"


I'm procrastinating. I should be cleaning the house because we are hosting a birthday party with 30 little girls AND my entire family from New York and I really have to scour the bathroom cabinet for the tranquilizers.

And yet, I can't stop trying to find the SNL video of Dana Carvey doing John Travolta. Can anyone help me???

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Loosiana Halloween

If there's one thing this state knows how to do it's celebrate. Goddang. Highlights from this weekend's Halloween debauching:

1. The weather kicked ASS. It was warm enough that we didn't need coats, but it got cool enough at night that you could justify having a fire outside.

2. Parents take their kids trick or treating while holding beer cozys and/or glasses of wine, walking all over the neighborhood and getting plastered.

3. My neighbors set up a table in front of their house, and the woman of the house lay on the table with fake guts gushing all over her stomach, while her husband wore a scary mask and pretended to cut her up with a chainsaw over and over all night. This probably should have been highlight #1. The chainsaw was fake, but it sounded and even smelled like a real one (like gasoline). You could hear the RRRR RRR RRRR of it all over the neighborhood. The kids would walk up to the table, where the guy would hold out a bowl of candy, then as they reached in to grab some, he'd reach down and get the chainsaw, and then chase them with it. This caused much screaming and pants-peeing and was quite entertaining for the adults.

4. There was a hillbilly family visiting the neighborhood in a jeep which was hauling a little flatbed with a dirty couch on it. The hillbilly mom sat on the couch and smoked while her husband and son hauled her around. It was slightly unsettling, but interesting nonetheless. And as long as they didn't try to give Lily any apples with razors in them, it was cool.

5. I enough candy to last me through next Halloween. But what's up with the Laffy Taffy, Baton Rouge? That shit is gross.

I uploaded some pics; click here. Mwah!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

So's Your Face

I hooked back up with Steph, one of my oldest and dearest friends from high school a few weeks ago (thanks, Facebook! You make it possible to reconnect with both people you want to find and those who you don't want to find you, like the freaky Dominoes pizza guy who stalked you in college! Awesome! BLOCK!!!).

Turns out Steph is the mother to a four year old boy, and at some point our conversation turned to bullying. While we both said we didn't want our kids to be victimized by the little assholes of their respective elementary schools (east coast, deep south, doesn't matter; every school has its own unique breed of tormenters), I was quick to bring up how upset I'd be if Lily ended up bullying someone else.

I mean, having been the recipient of much cruel, pointless bitchery in junior high (my best friend broke up with me the summer before 8th grade, dropping me for a more popular group of fembot preteen witches, and she would routinely call me, all contrite and sweet, "Do you want to be best friends again?" and I'd get tears in my eyes, "Yes! YES!!!", at which point she'd splurt, "Well, I DON'T!!!" and then I'd be treated to the snickers of a bunch of girls on the extension before the phone got slammed down in my ear and I ran to my mother's lap to cry for hours), I know how mean girls can be.

While I can't imagine rasing a bully, I sure do know how to comfort and pep-talk the hell out of a kid who is being tormented for no good reason. My parents had their hands full with me, between the junior high c-u-next-tuesdays and a girl in elementary school named Danielle Crabtree, who thought it hilarious to make fun of my Italian last name and tell me I was stupid for believing in Santa Claus. My father's answer was, "YOUR last name? Just call her Danielle Crab-Ass!" and I knew it was no laughing manner when my father actually gave me permission to curse. I never did use the expletive when dealing with Danielle, opting instead to just ignore her, but I kept it in my arsenal in case of future necessity. She ended up moving away anyway.

The point is, my parents taught me well about compassion and boosting a little girl's self-esteem when she's being picked on. But if Lily turned out to be the one doing the picking, I would be downright distraught. I mean, what drives a child to be cruel? Is it innate? Is it them acting out something going on at home? Are some kids just born bad? I don't know the answer to this. And my hope is that Lily will end up being friends with everybody, and feel no need to vent inner rage on others for no good reason. She will be the philanthropic do-gooder kid in her school, opting to start a PETA club and boycotting prom and being voted friendliest or most likely to change the world. OK, maybe I'm getting carried away. I'd settle for happy and well-adjusted.

As long as she's kind to her fellow man, I'm cool.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


My daughter is a little bit of a hypochondriac. At least she comes by it honestly. I am the descendant of a long, rich bloodline of champion worriers; My dad's got his internist on his speed dial. My mom's stock response, like her mother before her, is often an emphatic, Oh, my GOD!, or Jesus Christ! before you've even imparted the whole story (bless her heart, she just wants you to know how much she cares about what happened to you). And my sister once convinced herself she had AIDS because of a recurring bladder infection.

I've never been much of a worrier, which is weird, maybe. I don't spend a lot of time pushing at my breasts looking for lumps or examining moles or picking at the growing toe fungus I developed from a bad pedicure a couple summers ago (which is gross, but not really threatening in any way). I tend toward the thinking that if you ignore it long enough, it'll eventually go away, or at least hibernate for a while and leave you alone.

But Lily's been coming up with some really irritating ways of distracting herself lately. I know it's probably only because of the massive amount of transition going on around her...we've only been here 2 months and it's common for anyone, especially, I'd imagine, a little kid, to try and manipulate what they can in their environment when so much of it seems beyond their control, right? Some of these complaints are plain ridiculous though.

(While watching TV) "Mama? One of my eyes feels hot."

(Waking me up in the morning to inform me) "Mama?. MAMA. I accidentally stuck my finger in the cat's mouth and his tooth pricked me and now it really hurts."

(After we put down poison to kill fire ants in the front yard) "I think I have fire ants in my bed and they are biting my stomach now."

"I'm too full to go to school."

What to do? I want to support my little girl and let her know I care and that I'm here for her, but Jeez. I also don't want to encourage her worrying.

Thoughts, guys?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dead Dog

I'm reading Linda Lou's poignant and inspiring memoir, Bastard Husband: A Love Story and I came across a passage that resonated with me, especially today. She describes meeting two strangers at the DMV and how just having a friendly interaction with them made an otherwise shitty day better. (By the way, if you haven't read Linda's book, you can buy it here. And I strongly recommend that you do [makes threatening mafia-type throat-slitting gesture]). It's kick ass.

I had a similar experience today, incidentally. Sort of. I was working on the computer earlier and was startled right out of my very skin by the dog's savage barking and snarling and hurling his full weight at the front door.

Ah, I thought to myself, heart pounding double time in my ears, Mail must be here.

The dog has routinely tried to kill the mailman every day since way before I lived in this house, and still his daily attempt to break through the front door around 10 am rattles me to the core. I took a deep yogic breath and tried to get back to work.

Then the doorbell rang, and I thought, Shiiiiit. The mailman never rings the bell. Maybe it's not him after all. Please, please don't let it be the Jehovah's Witnesses, I fretted. Or the Baptists. Or the Catholics. Jeremy has taken to putting my name on the mailing lists of many of the local churches, so I have been receiving a variety of religious marketing literature instructing me how to be saved by accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior and drinking his blood and such. It's terribly amusing.

Luckily, it was just the mailman. And I like the mailman. See, when you are living the life of a suburban house frau, you get to know the folks who drift through your neighborhood when the normal people are at work. I'm also on a first name basis with the garbage man and my neighbor's mosquito exterminator. My situation's probably not much different than that of a retired or infirm person.

The dog protested bitterly as I put him out back, and then I opened the front door. The mailman was standing a few feet away on the lawn, mace in hand. I would not want this poor bastard's job. Still, he had an ease about him. He's tall, like Harlem Globetrotters-tall, and has a gentle smile that's disarming and friendly. He's kind of like what you'd expect the mailman to be on a kids show.

"Sorry," I said, embarrassed. "He's old and protective and kind of grouchy. I really hope he dies soon."

The words came out before I could stop them, and the mailman started laughing.

I felt bad for saying that, though. I mean, yes, the dog is a pain in the ass, but I don't want him to die. He may be high strung and he has weird territorial issues with the bed (I get up to pee at 2 am and he's rolled into my spot, and when I groggily try to lay back down he emits a stream of threatening falsetto growls from his bowels and refuses to move), but he's generally a good dog. Mostly he is a nice dog. Except not when he's on the bed.

He does snack out of the litter box, too, and actually barfed up a bunch of partially-digested cat turds in my front seat one morning on the ride to school, (this was my fault though; I should never have brought him. Although he likes going for car rides in theory, and gets all tail-waggin and stuff when we put his leash on, once he's actually in the car, all he does is whine and try to escape), but he's gentle with Lily and will tirelessly play with her in the yard until she's exhausted. So, no. I don't really want the dog to die.

"I shouldn't have said that. That really wasn't nice, and it's not true," I said, my mouth stretched into an embarrassed thin line.

The mailman just continued to laugh and broke into an easy grin as he handed me an envelope and had me sign for it. "I know, I know, but hoo boy! It was a funny thing to say. You just made my day, you know that?"

I was surprised. "I did?"

"Yeah, I have not been having the best day, see, I thought I lost my wallet, and I was late for work, and you saying that about your dog just cracked me up. It made me feel better. Thanks for that".

This pleased me. I was glad to have had that effect on someone's day. See? We never know when some mindless or simple thing we say will make somebody feel better. Even if the subject of the hoot-worthy statement was a dead animal. I'm sure the dog would forgive me, though. We all have shitty days.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Babysitter's Here

The doorbell rang promptly at 5:45 and our 16 year old neighbor stepped into the foyer, all sparkling eyes and Loves Baby Soft. I ran around the house in a black dress, sliding in an earring and wiping sweat from my neck, wishing I'd shaved my damn legs.

"My cell number is on the kitchen counter...she needs to eat all her dinner before she has ice cream...we'll be home by 9!"

This was received with a reassuring nod and I felt terrific relief to have found a babysitter who lived right across the street. What luck!

This was the first time we'd left Lily with a sitter since we'd moved to Baton Rouge. And how I loved the convenience of this. Most of the babysitters we'd had in the city needed to rely on an inconvenient assemblage of public transportation to get to us, and I would always pay for a taxi to get them home, especially if I got back late, which I often did.

But having a babysitter on your street, whoa. Here was a sure sign that you've passed through the membrane between clueless-idiot-playing-house and full-fledged-responsible-adult. This was how it was supposed to be. Niiiice.

When I was little, my favorite babysitter, Kate, lived across the street from us. I was so excited when my parents finally decided to get a life and leave us with a sitter. Of course, I immediately understood this to mean that once we'd tricked my little sister, Lisa, into falling asleep, Kate and I would hang out together all night, eating popcorn and drinking soda and watching Fantasy Island because it would be immediately evident that I was way cooler and more grown-up than other six-year-old girls. I assumed that Kate probably would even refuse to take my parents' money at the end of the night, because babysitting me was really more like hanging out with a girlfriend, and could she take me to the mall on Sunday? She really wanted to buy me some Jordache jeans.

OK, it didn't exactly go like that. But I still loved Kate anyway. She was wonderfully kind and patient, and she was the first person out of my immediate family to call me "Kris", as if she had an immediate sisterly familiarity with me. I loved it.

In preparation for Saturday night, I worked for hours on a Lite Brite portrait of Kate (Lite Brite was my current medium, having tired of cray pas and scented markers). Of course I'd never met her, but in my head she looked just like Sandy from Grease, as I expected all teenage girls did.

She didn't end up looking like Sandy, but she had longer hair than anyone I'd ever and thick, and she let me brush and style it for hours, decorating it with pink and red plastic barrettes and pieces of yarn. She also tolerated all the things Lisa and I did to try and 'entertain' her, including sitting patiently for long stretches while I made my barbies lip synch to "Hopelessly Devoted to You", and "If I can't Have You" (In addition to the Grease soundtrack, the Saturday Night Fever album also got continuous play in our house).

When it was finally time for bed, I fell asleep secure in the knowledge that I'd impressed Kate, that I'd shown her what a mature and interesting kid I really was. I drifted off feeling like I'd nailed it. That was, until I sleepwalked into the bathroom and pulled down my pants and passed out, slumped on the toilet with my pjs around my ankles, which is how Kate found me and had to put me back to bed. Fuck.

When I became a babysitter myself, I realized how easy it was to just completely slack off, and this kind of scared me. I wondered if my babysitters actually had done the things I did when I was responsible for a house full of kids (turning the clock ahead an hour to make them go to bed, having several bowls of ice cream while talking on the phone for hours, falling asleep in front of an R-rated movie). I realized with dismay that probably, that time I woke up and walked in on Kate and her 'friend' on the living floor 'wrestling', that wasn't actually the scenario at all. It's impossible to delve into the complicated mind of a teenager until you are one yourself.

I imagine that, in hindsight, the things I did weren't that bad, however. Though I did have an affinity for drama (I loved removing the 6 month old I babysat from her crib as soon as her parents pulled out of the driveway, clutching her to my chest, rubbing her bald head as I reenacted tearful scenes from movies like Terms of Endearment; I would faux-sob in front of the mirror and pretend to yell at my straying husband to 'Get out! Just leave! How could you do this to us!!!'), and I did like to raid the fridge of my employers once the kids were down for the night, I was a fairly responsible babysitter. I never had any boys over or would even think about drinking or anything really stupid. I was just a normal teenager who did dumb things sometimes.

Which, now that I think about it, is kind of scary, if today's teen babysitters are anything like they were back then. Oh, well. I'll just make sure I hide the matches.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Here's the story...of a lovely lady...

For all the nice folks who complimented my writing skills after my last post, I want to apologize for this next one.

They can't all be winners, you know. Sometimes you just have to blog about cat excrement.

When making preparations to move a thousand miles across the country to blend two distinctly different families, you spend a lot of time worrying about how your 5 year old child will adjust to her new home. You wonder how your boyfriend, who has been living the bachelor life of imported beer, Pay-Per-View boxing matches and unrestricted masturbatory freedom, will take to having a spirited little girl running through his house in pumpkin underpants, demanding juice boxes and "Hannah Montana" reruns. You hope that everyone will get along, and you do everything in your power to make the transition as painless as possible for all humans involved.

You do not consider, however, what the transition will be like for all your goddamned pets.

I arrived in Baton Rouge with two male cats: Sea Monkey – hulking, timid as a mouse and adoringly snuggly with only me – and Nugget, a kitten (three months? Four?) – teeny, silky-soft, energetic, and sweet as a fresh apple pie.

Already living in the house were Jeremy's ornery old dog (a grouchy, loveably-doofy mutt with some kind of life-threatening heart condition), three set-in-their-ways female cats, and two turtles who really don't count because they don't do much of anything except splosh in their tanks and eat dried crickets, which, incidentally, smell like vomit left to fester in a 100 degree car.

The interactive dynamics of six high-maintenance, spoiled animals were interesting to watch at first.

Sea Monkey hates the dog for no good reason, and goes out of his way (will literally turn around in the hallway and go in the other direction) in order to swipe at and intimidate him. The dog, a total puss, will whine whenever the kitten is even 3 feet away from his stuffed chew toy in-the-shape-of-a-candy-corn, and look to us as if pleading, " something about this!!!"

Joe, one of Jeremy's cats, has begun acting like a surly goth teen girl, staying out all night, avoiding everyone and even dying her hair black (ok, she was always black), and his other two cats act mostly as if mine aren't there at all.

Mostly, it's been fine.

But someone's begun crossing the line.

This morning, as I was brushing my teeth, blinking back my pre-coffee daze and slathering preparation H under my eyes, Jeremy walked in carrying the laundry basket, holding it at arms length the way one might a massive, rotting beef carcass.

"What?" I mumbled through toothpaste foam.

He simply lifted his eyebrows and nodded toward the basket. His look managed to be simultaneously accusing and resigned, as if to say, "Just look what I have to live with. I'm a goddamned saint."

Upon closer examination I saw, nested atop his brand new work slacks, a series of long, sticky cat turds that looked awfully fresh...almost steamy, even.


I shook my head and matched his expression with a drawn frown, which silently responded, "Goddamnitfuck, I will deal with it later, just like I deal with everything else around here" (when you live with someone, see, you begin to communicate's magical, really), and turned back to the mirror, determined not to even look at the laundry basket til after coffee.

Wait. But it gets better.

I got Lily ready for school, and as she was getting her shoes on by the back door, I heard her yelp as she kicked a pink sparkly flip flop across the room.

"My shoe is wet! Aaack!"

She began wiping the bottom of her wet foot on the back of her leg, and then the smell hit us, and I had terrible flashbacks of that poor kid in elementary school who was always banished to the back of the classroom because he stank of cat pee.

So we ran into the bathroom and I scrubbed her little feet and legs, and cleaned off the plastic sandals with antibacterial soap, all the while muttering, "Sorry, sorry, so sorry about this, gross, yuck, sorry baby", because I felt responsible that she lived in a home overrun by vengeful animals.

And it's funny, because Jeremy and I are equally defensive of our respective pets. He can't imagine that his darling girl cats would do anything as provocative and dirty as pee and poop in our clothes and I would bet money that my sweet, innocent boy cats simply don't have the balls to pull a stunt like this. It's too personal. Girls are way bitchier, way better at plotting this kind of thing. I just know it.

So, we eye each others pets, keep a look out in the hopes that one of us can finally go, "Aha! See??? Twas yooooour monstrous animal!!!" with some kind of modern-day Brady Bunch-type of redemptive satisfaction.

For the time being, we'll be sleeping with one eye open, you can count on it.

But until the culprit is caught, my sneakers are staying in the closet.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Family: It's What's For Dinner (Revisited)

If someone were to ask me to describe what being a mother is like, I would probably refer to that old Peace Corps slogan from the 1980s, that it's the 'Toughest job you'll ever love'. Cheesy to the extreme and perhaps a tad too concise, but it kind of says it all.

Still, after almost 6 years of doing this 'job', and for the most part doing it on my own, I am still often surprised by the sheer animal ferocity with which I love and protect my kid -- this guileless, beautiful creature who shares my talent for goofy facial gestures and my unfortunate tendency toward gas and sweaty feet.

And as we all know, when you love someone with that kind of feral intensity, you open yourself up for a garden variety of heartbreak. With Lily, my most chest-tightening moments come when she s
tarts talking about her father, referring to him as if he's a great, influential part of her life. And I know that, more than anything, she just wants this to be true, even though it's not. She is hanging on to the thready bits of her relationship with him and trying to cling to whatever memories she is losing as she grows and thrives in her new life here.

I know this. Yet it still hurts me when, after Lily, me, and Jeremy (whom I refer to jokingly as 'Stepdaddy', or 'Newdaddy') climb into the car after spending an awesome day together, the kid will pipe up, apropos of nothing, "You know, I still live at Daddy's house, too".

And I feel smacked in the face. I know she's not deliberately trying to hurt Jeremy or me, but these words still sting. Because, even after her father and I split, while he couch-surfed and traveled and rented a room in someone's house, and especially now that we reside halfway across the country, she has always, always lived with me. And I feel the need to protect this. To make it known. He was the parent who left, and I was the one who stayed, and it's so not fair that he gets credit he hasn't earned. He shouldn't get elevated to rock-star status when he can't even play an instrument. No freaking way. I call foul.

So I say, matter-of-factly, "No, baby. You've never lived at Daddy's house. You visit there, and Daddy visits you. And he's your dad and he loves you. But you live with me. With Jeremy and me."

She pulls off one of her crocs and picks at a mosquito bite on her baby toe. "I do live with Daddy too." she says, a little more quietly this time. And my heart breaks for her, and I wish her father was here, so that I could run him over with my car.

I don't want my kid to hate her dad. I don't want him to just evaporate because I decided to move across the country to start over. Really, I don't.

OK, that's not true. Sure I want that. I mean, the dark, nasty, slimy part of me would looooove it if Lily just woke up one day and realized, You know, my father is really kind of a juvenile, narcissistic tool and I think I'll just drop him like a hot potato. Then I'll watch as she melts into Jeremy's waiting, open arms and the three of us will fuse together and become a superawesome, Modern American Blended Family for the 21st century.

But I don't live in a goddamned fairy tale, and I know it's not as easy as that. Lily still needs her dad to be in her life. And I want her to have him. Even if what he has to give kind of sucks. Because I don't want her to be a girl who grows with dad issues and ends up spending all of her hard-earned retirement on therapy.

And as much as I want to, I can't blurt out all of the ugly, terrible truths about why her father is so far away. I don't know if I'll ever be able to tell her these things, even when she's older and wiser and asking real questions about her lineage. I don't know if she'd benefit in any way from knowing these things about a man she now sees as fully capable and omniscient and, well, perfect.
Maybe he is that to her. And if he is, shouldn't I want to let her keep that?

But we are engaged in a strange dance, my daughter, my boyfriend, and me. It's a daily three-way tango of pushing-and-pulling as my little girl falls into a deeper sense of trust with this man that I love. I watch him sink patiently into the couch at night as she
slings her freshly-bathed legs into his lap and holds his face in her hands and kisses his cheeks. I listen to her wild girl-laugh as he plays with her on the floor and tickles her and lets her ride on his back. I smile and my heart does flipflops and I get all ohmygod as I see her let him in a little more every day.

And then, just like that, she'll push him away, as if suddenly realizing that loving Jeremy must mean loving her father less. She'll get angry when he tells her to please not yell at the dinner table and say, "I don't even like you," and look at her plate and I can see her shutting down, turning right off like a porch light at bedtime. And I struggle with this, because Jeremy deserves better.

Jeremy is here for teeth-brushing and stories and homework and peed-on sheets in the middle of the night. He painted his guest room pink, and installed a night light in the shape of a princess crown, and he buys juice boxes and gummy fruit for Lily's lunch and endures hours of brain-bleedingly horrible Disney Channel shows. This is our life, this is what it means to be there for the people you love every day, and he is here every day.

So, I try to do what I can to keep the balance. It's not easy. Part of me wants to shriek and claw out my hair when Lily insists on sleeping with her favorite Yankee cap, because it reminds her of being at a ball game with her dad. But she needs these pulpy bits of comfort, and I have to try and keep things in perspective. What's the harm in sleeping with a goddamn baseball hat, besides waking up with hat head? In the grand scheme of things, really, that's not so bad, is it?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Skating With Jesus, and Other Lessons Learned

Skate Heaven is located just outside Baton Rouge; only one exit away, in fact. But the minute you walk in, it's quite clear that you've left the city limits. For one thing, everyone smokes. As Lily and I walked up to the main entrance of the roller rink, an imposing group, varying in age from 18-65, sat on the steps, smoking and sporting more than their fair share of Looney Tunes tattoos on various calves and forearms.

My kid and I were immediately the subjects of mass squinty-eyed scrutiny, as if we were prized hams being appraised for the state fair. I took a gulp and nodded. "How y'all doin," I smiled.

We bought our tickets and walked inside, and I was thrilled. The place looked like it hadn't had a makeover or even a good vacuuming since 1985, and it smelled like sweaty feet and leather and hot dogs. The dull thump of the ancient speakers playing outdated rock music was delightful, and the unintentional kitsch of the place was captivating. The walls were airbrushed with images of roller skates with wings (get it?!!), and there were biblical psalms spray-painted all over the place like graffiti.

Skate Heaven indeed.

Though Lily is a novice roller skater at best, we still had a ball. She hooked up with a family of about 14 children, most of whom were girls around her age, and they clung to the wall and practiced together while I took a few runs around the rink on my own.

Skating by myself made me wistful, and suddenly I found myself getting sucked down a nostalgia hole, to the winter I was in sixth grade. My sister Lisa and I spent every day of our Christmas vacation that year down the street at Laces (soon to be renamed 'The Rolls', and abandoned by all respectable kids because roller rinks would quickly become unsavory hangouts for burnout latch key kids and the unspeakably nerdy).

For now though, Laces was the shit.

I rocked a gray sweater vest and my Sergio Valente jeans that were two-toned: gray stonewashed in the front and denim-colored in the back. Were I able to squeeze my hand into the front pocket of those skin-tight jeans, I'd find a 5 dollar bill my mother had given me to buy Lisa and me fat, hot, salty pretzels and cokes. Instead I spent most of the money at the vending machine, buying snickers bars because I believed the tv ads promising that "snickers really satisfies" and I needed my energy for an afternoon on the rink.

On my white skates I had fiberoptic pom poms that caught the glint of the strobe lights in the ceiling. On my skates, nothing could touch me. I felt like a queen. I even had a ridiculous skate-dance I'd made up to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" that involved some strange jutting arm-movements and made me look like a retarded majorette. But I thought I was so cool.

Thinking about the roller rink reminded me about some of the kids who hung out there. I mean, Lisa and I were only allowed there for a few hours in the afternoon, dropped off and picked up right in front in our powder blue Riviera, but there were kids who spent literally every day, all day at Laces. There was a girl named Dani, who was really Danielle, but she went by Dani because it was cool and grown-up and tomboyish. Dani had naturally curly, feathered hair and vacant brown eyes, almost black. I didn't know much about Dani except that she was in my grade and was bad at math (like me), and that she walked home from school alone and her mom never came to any school functions. But at Laces, Dani was a celebrity. Everyone knew her, and she got free slushies and everything. I heard she was even dating a guy who worked there, who was in high school.

Girls like Dani scared me. They seemed older than they should, like they'd seen way more than I had, things that i didn't want to see. They made me glad to come home to my house and my 12 year old black lab, to my mother cross-legged on the couch, compulsively sucking on sunflower seeds to quit smoking, filling our ashtrays with overflowing shells.

They made me feel like it was okay to still be a kid and to appreciate kid-things, like dinner at 6 pm and the dog barking when my dad got home and ice cream with granola and even for my parents' Saturday night date, when we'd always be left in the capable, responsible hands of Kate, our next-door neighbor and my favorite sitter. But we were never alone.

Nobody expected us to take care of ourselves.

Looking at Lily, skating along and clutching the worn, carpeted wall underneath a spinning disco ball while wearing smelly, rented kid skates, I made a little promise to myself that she would never have to be alone either.

And won't be...not as long as I could help it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Open Mind, Open Heart, and an empty stomach for the Wild Game Cookoff!!!

Baton Rouge is a fascinating jambalaya of lifestyles and living situations. It's part college town – you've got the gorgeous area surrounding the sprawling LSU, with its overgrown ancient oak trees and masses of lost-looking freshmen scattered about like ants, literally walking into moving cars because they are all little clueless retards (Ah, to be 18 and invincible) – and then you've got a 'downtown area', which has some bars and coffee houses and a couple buildings and a courthouse, and then the rest of the city is a strange mixture of lovely tree-choked suburban neighborhoods, strip malls, churches, and pockets of ghetto shanties.

Oh, and Waffle Houses. So goddamned many Waffle Houses. Je-sus.

Yesterday, Lily and I went to the playground, and I couldn't help noticing that the black kids played together and the white kids stayed with the other whiteys. Back where we used to live, all the kids played together; they shared each others snacks (although I have to say that the Japanese kids brought the weirdest shit to the park...teeny dried fish? Really?), and skin color never factored into the equation. If the kid was willing to be the baby sister to Lily's domineering 'teacher' or 'stepmother', they were in, and that was that. I'm not saying "OMG, the south is so racist"; I'm merely observing how it's a little different here.

But omg, the south is so racist.

Not really though. I have found, so far, that people of all cultures and backgrounds seem to get along fine here (as long as they shop at their own respective Wal Marts), and progress is indeed on the rise in Louisiana. One of my neighbors even has a bumper sticker that says, "I miss Bill", and I'm telling myself he means Clinton and not Billy Mays. There's NPR and a Whole Foods and even an attachment parenting group.

What I'm trying to do here is discover and embrace the differences of my new city...while attempting to hang on to my lefty New York hippie leanings.

For instance, I think this looks like a really fun thing to do, no?


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bumper Snickers

People sure like to express their opinions via rear bumpers here. I suppose it's a nice way to get a point across while safe in the confines of your pickup truck.

This morning I saw not one but TWO gems:

"Annoy a liberal: Work hard and smile!"


"Pray the rosary for pro life!"

Whoa. We are so not in NYC anymore.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fun at the Dollar General Store

We have a lot of dollar stores in New York, but the Dollar General here in Baton Rouge kicks all their asses right up and down 42nd Street. I'm telling you.

Until yesterday, I'd yet to find a store where I could find Christian party games and musical light-up Halloween skeleton-head lights in the same goddamned aisle.

Lily buried herself in the deluge of cheap, poorly organized Halloween finery, while I bit my lip, trying to decide between the Barbie-sized Christ and Moses action figures to bring home and add to our collection of curiosities (which include Jesus finger puppets, a smoking baby figurine and Jeremy's signed autograph from Dave Thomas).

I was also tres psyched to find a Lily a little vampire costume/dress for $8 (now she can't change her mind at the 11th hour like she did with the giant pumpkin costume her grandmother made last year out of orange fabric and pillow stuffing:"But I wanna trick-or-treat as CINDERELLA!!!").

When the pretty, African-American checkout girl rang up our purchases without looking up, she said idly, "Oooh, you're gonna be a scary vampire for Halloween? That's cool!"
Then she looked up and our eyes met and I saw that she was wearing contact lenses of the most electric blue I thought I might be looking at Michael Jackson himself in "Thriller".

That was some major adrenaline-pumping for a Wednesday, I'll tell you.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Skeletons, Spooks and Sprained Heinies

Happy Fall, everyone! I'm always glad to bid summer farewell with the passing of Labor Day Weekend. It symbolizes the return of structure and the natural rhythm that makes me feel like I can finally breathe again. Even if it is 96 degrees outside.

We celebrated the day by going bowling, and Jeremy pulled a muscle in his ass. My poor boyfriend, once a celebrated participant of local bowling team The Beerzebubbas, must have been somewhat out of practice because he spent the evening hobbling around the house when he wasn't face down on the couch with his pants around his ankles, me massaging Ben Gay into his poor, sprained heiner. Still, I certainly can imagine worse ways to spend an evening than giving your boyfriend a butt massage while watching "Hoarders" on the DVR and eating butter toffee cashews. My life really isn't bad, all things considered.

Another good thing about Labor Day being over? The Wal Mart is lightning-fast in putting out its seasonal decor. I'm loving it. I was just there on Sunday and they were still selling kiddie pools and slip n slides. Now it's suddenly skeletons and black cats and mulled cider kits and candles smelling like spiced pumpkin. And I'm loooooving it.

It's gonna be a little strange though; this will be the first autumn ever where I haven't made a ritual out of putting away the sundresses and hauling the scratchy sweaters out of storage. And I'm a little anxious about seeing Al Roker standing in leafy Central Park in a little parka, describing the temps in NYC as 'seasonably cool' before switching to my local weather (humid and warm and on hurricane watch through Thanksgiving).

But I am embracing the change.

Why the hell not?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I adopted a black baby.

I just bought this.

Isn't it wicked awesome? I love that it's little and sporty and fuel-efficient, but mostly I love that it's black.

I feel like a total badass driving it to the Target and the craft store. I pretend it's KIT and we are on a secret mission to stop the crime lords of Baton Rouge, right after I drop off some overdue books at the public library.

Men at stoplights turn their trucker caps backwards to gawk at me as I groove to the "Welcome Back Kotter" theme on '80s on 8' on the xm radio. They wipe the drool pooling at the corners of their mouths and wish they had the cojones to ask for my digits. I know, boys. I know. You so want a piece of this.

But then the light turns green and I zoom off to pick my kid up at school, but not before stopping at the grocery store first to pick up something for dinner.

Eat my dust, suckahs!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Freakin Pack Rat

Oh my GOD, I cannot throw anything away. Unpacking sucks worse than anything.

Will someone please explain to me why I still am hanging on to the following things:

1. Navy blue polyester leisure suit (three piece!) that belonged to my grandmother, with hand-applied bedazzling brass accents

2. Citizens of Humanity jeans I haven't been able to squeeze my ass into since 2007

3. Fairly large pez collection

4. Photos documenting everything I have ever done in my entire life, carefully cataloged and placed in albums coded by year

5. One pair of electric blue false eyelashes

6. Mini gold buddha whose arm broke off sometime between college and the birth of my kid

Tell me, am I crazy for hanging on to this stuff? What random items can't you seem to part with, no matter how logical it might seem???

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pest du jour

In New York, we have cockroaches (note: we have em here too, only they are the size of your fist, found mostly outdoors, and pleasantly referred to as, palmetto bugs. Oh, come on. I don't care what the fuck you call it, if its big enough to blink at me and I can hear it chewing, it doesn't belong in my house unless it's shitting in a litter box).

Anyway, I've just discovered that here in Louisiana, the most popular pests are love bugs.

Don't be fooled by the dippy Disneyfication of their name. Love bugs are really kind of gross.

Upon first glance they appear to be two-headed fireflies. Examine closer and you will see that in actuality they are two members of the opposite sex copulating. Apparently, love bugs start out as larvae (or, ew, maggots, to the lay person), feeding on rotting vegetation, then grow to full size and spend the remainder of their lives screwing:

From the Wiki: The male and female attach themselves at the rear of the abdomen and remain that way at all times, even in flight. In fact, after mating, the male dies and is dragged around by the female until she lays her eggs.

Sounds horribly romantic, doesn't it?

And by romantic, I mean creepy and kind of depressing. How is it that even in the insect world, the woman is expected to carry around the dead weight of some dude whose only contribution is to donate sperm???

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thunder Only Happens When it's Raining (and it makes the windows rattle, too)

Holy Crap.

I'm sitting at the computer, minding my own business, plotting ways to inflict painful, anonymous, vengeful death on my assholio movers who STILL have not delivered my stuff (Lily is getting a little tired of playing with the same one Barbie and the kitten is sooo over being put shoved in a basket and getting carried around like Toto to Lil's cloying, overbearing Dorothy), when a low rumbling makes me turn my head toward the window.


The dog, sleeping loyally at my feet, perks his ears up, but does nothing.

Then, BAM!!! The loudest crack of thunder I might have ever heard pounds down on the house like the steel boots of a thousand giants. The windows shake and shudder, and the dog is off and running, yalping and barking at the front door because maybe he thinks its the mail man dropping off a really big package? (he might actually rip the mail man's leg off his body, incidentally, if he ever got the chance, so strong is his instinct to protect his dwelling).

I swear I've never heard thunder like that in my life. It was wild and ripe, a concussion of clouds that can only be produced in a place where humidity is as thick as a strawberry milkshake.

But the air here is sweet. It's fragrant and you want to almost savor it on your tongue. It is delicious in a way that New York air could never be. It's air that carries the scent of year-round tropical lilies and the greenest grass and sweet tea and shaved ice.

It makes me feel kind of drunk and I almost weep with glee when I walk out of the house and instead of livery cab drivers cursing my ass out, or the sweating cement of buildings and sidewalks sealing me into a kiln-like tomb, there is only the low rumble of thunder. There is the chutt-chutting of cicadas and baby frogs and there is green grass and the squeak of a cat laying under a patio chair. And I think, yes. Yes. Yes.

This is the life for me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Here I am...rock you like a hurricane

Hi, Y'all!!!

Well, we made it. Exactly one week ago, Lily and I were getting turned away at Newark Airport because our flight down to Baton Rouge had been canceled for no good reason (a little misty rain? Come on, pilot! You pussy! It's only my life and my soon-to-be-6-year-old's life. Let's take a gamble!!)

Alas, we were stuck in Jersey for the night. A fate worse than death to many.
So, defeated, we gathered our two cats (each was tucked snugly in an airline-approved travel carrier; the bigger one, Sea Monkey, would later shit himself on the air train en route to the Best Western), and trudged reluctantly away from our would-be departure gate.

We were transient, free-falling, flappin in the wind. We'd packed up our New York City apartment a couple days before (at a grossly inflated price, I might add; Advice: Never go with a mover from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, who assures you in Tony Soprano-ese that there are no 'hidden charges') and our worldly treasures were en route (fingers crossed!) to Louisiana. We'd hugged my parents goodbye at the security gate (where, incidentally, the guards forced us to remove each panic-stricken, neck-clawing kitty and carry him individually through the metal detector). We were ready for Louisiana, but apparently Louisiana wasn't yet ready for us.

After a good night's sleep and a couple bloody marys at the hotel restaurant, however, and after slipping the front desk kid a Hamilton and batting my sleep-deprived, smolderingly bloodshot eyes, I managed to score some kitty litter and food so that the cats didn't trash the place.

Next morning was smooth as butter. We boarded, carried our docile, cooperative cats like handbags, and arrived at our new home, where we were greeted by our ever-lovin Jeremy.


So, my darlings. Here's to the beginning of a fabulous new adventure. Stay tuned, lovies.
Much hilarity, I assure you, is to ensue...