Aug 6 2008


stairsLast year Doctor Dash and I celebrated our tenth anniversary.  We booked a room at the Graves Hotel and had a crazy delicious meal at La Belle Vie.  We chose the tasting menu and as the graceful and efficient waitstaff paraded out course after course on winged feet, Dash and I sat in the luxe and civilized room, our faces flushed from the wine and turned our plates slightly to admire the gorgeous and unfathomable creations being set forth by the kitchen.  What a feast!  Really, truly, it was an amazing dinner – the best I’ve ever had.  It was an unforgettable anniversary: indulgent, celebratory, luxurious, happy.

This past Saturday we celebrated our eleventh anniversary, although “celebrated” is a bit of an overstatement.  We were in the throws of moving to our new house across the creek: Casa Norte.  We left Casa Sur staged for showings, taking with us all unsightly evidence of our existence, like the TV.  Apparently, buyers like to believe that they won’t watch TV in their new home. They like to believe that they will better themselves in myriad ways, metamorphizing into bookish intellectuals, gourmet cooks, charming hostesses, green-thumbed gardeners.  So, happy as I am to procrastinate moving anything I don’t have to, I strategically placed a bunch of smart books around our extremely edited home, so they can dream on. Dream on.

As each piece of furniture was carried out the door, I watched the anxiety mounting for Devil Baby.  Her eyes bugged, her mouth formed itself into a cheerio and she wailed, “Oh noooo!  It’s goooone!”  The poor little thing bounced around like an errant ping pong ball, crying, being shooed out of the movers’ way, relentlessly demanding a Dora bandaid and generally being ignored as we frantically packed and cleaned.

The first night we slept at Casa Norte was a disaster.  My visions of a fun camping adventure flapped away like frantic bats as Saint James and Supergirl took turns freaking out.  You know, the kind of behavior that is really about something else.  The kind of behavior that, if witnessed by anyone outside of your nuclear family, causes you to say things like: “I don’t know what’s gotten into him, he’s never like this, he must be really tired, he’s had such a longdayweekmonthyear.

I think Saint James’ exact words, if I heard correctly through his blubbering, were:  “I hate this house.  This house sucks.”  

On our eleventh anniversary Doctor Dash and I were trapped in that wretched moving fugue . . . the sense of melancholy, dread and rootlessness weighing down the boxes even more than the objects within.  Dante should have included a tenth circle of hell where the eternally damned pack and unpack and repack boxes, relentlessly hoisting, heaving,sweating.  Isn’t it always boiling hot and humid as the breath of a dog on moving day?  It just is.  I would like to know if anyone has ever moved in the winter.  It just doesn’t happen.  It’s like Newton’s law, or Murphy’s law – Peevish Mama’s Law: if you move, the dew point will be seventy and every nook and cranny of your body will be as moist as the day is long to add to the general misery already inherent in moving.

Because it was our anniversary, Dash and I had plans to stop by a friend’s 40th birthday party for a couple drinks before heading out for dinner.  Ambitious, no?  It had seemed like a good idea when I booked the sitter two weeks ago.  I couldn’t imagine, however, bringing everything to a screeching halt to shower and make myself presentable.  I couldn’t imagine switching gears so abruptly:  from resigned, depressed, downtrodden, stinking, pack mule to lively, sparkly, sweet smelling gal about town.  

Mostly, I couldn’t imagine leaving our emotionally ragged kids with a sitter – in a house with no furniture, no less.

We needed to circle the wagons and chill, not drag our tired carcasses to a dinner we would have eaten in exhausted silence.  Fortunately, Doctor Dash was on the same page, so I cancelled the sitter, cancelled our plans and instead we took the kids for an evening swim.  I would love to say that the swim tuckered them out and they slept like babies, but on night number two they were just as riled up and out of control as the first night.  After much drama and crying and bed swapping, everyone finally drifted off.  

As silence slithered from room to room, ultimately wrapping itself around the whole house, Dash and I poured a couple glasses of wine and poked around, flicking light switches, stepping on bubble wrap, peering around unfamiliar corners, running our hands along the smooth banisters.  

We like this house, although we are a little awestruck.  She’s a faded beauty, a fancy and imposing madam.  Like Dame Judi Dench after a wild and protracted bender. She’s in need of someone to pick her up, dust her off, get her all primped, painted, pretty and ready for the Oscars.  I think Dash and I are up for the task.  We padded around, talking in soft voices, trying to decipher how we will make this strange and beautiful space our own, imagining the possibilities for this new shelter of ours.   

Happy eleventh, baby.  

Jul 20 2008

Vitriolic Mama.

karymsky-volcano-kids-958763-gaOur neighbors had a conversation with the people who looked at our house this morning, the people for whom I cleaned for two and a half hours.  Apparently, they like the house, they like the yard, they like the location, but the dad has allergies so he’s a little disappointed that this 1921 house doesn’t have central air.  Waaah, waaah.  How about we throw in a year’s supply of Claritin, you fucking baby.

This whole exercise of selling our house has made me hate people even more than I did before.  I have moved beyond peevish, through livid and burned right into vitriolic.  These are troubled times and I am hell on wheels.  I have lava in my gut, hot coals between my ears.  If I yelled at you, your eyebrows would be scorched and you’d be left quaking in a swirling cloud of acrid smoke and believe you me, your knees would be clacking.  If we get one more comment about the lack of a first floor bathroom, I will move to Costa Rica.  I am not joking.  I will forever forsake this nation of toilet-obsessed, nature-averse, histrionic, asthmatic, incontinent, spoiled FUCKERS.  And to add to my red hot ire, the word “fucker” is underlined by my spellcheck.  Is it not a word?  Is it only a proper noun?  How am I supposed to express myself?


Jun 21 2008

Cry me a river.


Loutree                                                                                    Photo by Kathy Quirk Syvertsen

If one more person makes me clean my house, yell at my kids, yank them out the door and loom somewhere for an hour and then REJECTS this house that I love so much, I am seriously going to lose it.  How can all these people not see what we see?  We bought this house when it was blanketed in vomit-green shag carpet and floral wallpaper.  The kitchen was putrid – plush brown carpet flecked with crumbs from an old man’s lonely dinners, pheasant wallpaper and a big chandelier (if you can call it that) that looked like it came out of Bronco Bill’s Saloon and Whorehouse.  

But we saw.  The house spoke to us.  The land spoke to us.  This is a beautiful foursquare with the stark, simple lines of the prairie, the warm woodwork of the forest.  Its bones are strong – it feels organic yet sturdy.  There are old stories written in the grain of the wood.  The way it sits on this hill is quiet, noble and austere.  You look outside and it’s a wall of living green.  There are owls and foxes, woodpeckers and raccoons.  Minnehaha Creek dips into a deep gorge in front of our house and the trees shimmy and murmur as the water flows on by.  It’s beautiful.  It’s peaceful and bucolic.  The Parkway is like a spine to this city.  You hop on with your bike and you can go anywhere.  

And we’ve been so very happy here.  This is the home of our babies.  Every one of them learned to walk on these smooth wood floors.  This is where they rolled down our hill, ate popsicles on our steps, sat in our laps in Adirondack chairs as we cheered on the marathoners, the triathaloners, the Harley guys, the Vespa guys, the antique car guys out for a Sunday cruise on the parkway.  How many times did we watch the bats flick around in our piece of sky – the space  between our blue spruce and our basswood tree?   The spruce is growing like a teenage boy – when we moved in it was as tall as Doctor Dash, now it’s a towering giant, reaching at least eighteen feet toward heaven.

I’ve cried three times today.  I am so sad and so stressed.  I feel like a desperate impoverished woman pushing her daughter to sell herself.  Go house, please just go.  I love this house, but I need to sell this house.  It’s not about the cleaning anymore.  It’s about not having a home.  We can’t relax here.  We can’t cook big feasts and let the kids run around with cookies and yogurt.  We have no sanctuary, no haven.  My house is a shelter, yes, but it is work to be here.  We have nowhere to decompress and just be the messy, dirty, humans that we are.  I used to love to throw my kids in the bathtub with their muddy feet and hands, watching the water turn brown as evidence of their day of fun.  Now I just think about where I left the Clorox wipes, about cleaning that ring of grunge off the tub before I forget. 

I can’t stop crying.  I am going to flood Minnehaha Creek with my tears because I am truly losing my mind. 

May 23 2008

Why I miss the shit on my kitchen window sill.


My kitchen window sill is like a mis en scène depicting the stuff of life, our lives.  It’s dynamic: a collection of random objects that is ever changing, tracking the seasonal, noteworthy, pedestrian and utilitarian ins and outs of our days, mirroring the sometimes subtle, sometimes chaotic shifts in interests, health, the weather. It’s also static in that the same collection of crap can sit there for months.   

Some of the objects are beautiful.  Some of the objects are a sigh and a flick of the wrist away from the trash.  

Over the last year my sill has been graced with a pygmy seahorse, a cup of paintbrushes, two tiny starfish who side-by-side look like they’re holding hands, a sand dollar, a set of paints, a chubby Eve salt shaker, a nail clipper, a sunflower seed in a cup of dirt, a pine cone coated in red glitter, a bottle of grape-flavored infant Tylenol, a harmonica, a couple of googly eyes, some shells, some rocks, a blue bottle of bubbles, the tail of a horseshoe crab, a tiny plastic turtle, a pencil sharpener, a bottle of Advil, a red plastic paperclip.  This narrow strip of wood has held so much life. 

And now, our house is for sale so I had to clear it all off.  No one else wants to look at our lovely detritus.  I only thought to take pictures a few times and now I want to weep. 

It’s gone forever.img_2067_1

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