May 31 2008

I’m your private dancer. . .

shapeimage_2-2_5Your dancer for money . . . Good old Tina . . .  I’ve had this song in my head since last night, so I was forced to buy it on iTunes and it makes me chuckle.  

It’s no secret that Doctor Dash and I have been feeling a smidge stressed lately.  We’re trying to sell our house in an excruciatingly slow market with three very messy kids.  Getting it picked up, cleaned and “staged” at a moment’s notice is taking its toll.  I, for one, can attest to feeling like a pulpy worn out nub of exposed nerves and I’m sure everyone will be happy to get the old mommy back when the house finally sells.  The old mommy: the one who could live in happy squalor and would greet soccer cleats in the house with mild annoyance as opposed to hysterical, weepy rage.   The new mommy: the one who puts an aesthetically pleasing ratio of red and green apples in a bowl and hisses that the apples are not for eating.

Last night Doctor Dash and I got a babysitter and stepped out for a sorely needed téte-a-téte over dinner, with tentative plans to go see Hookers and Blow (a great throw-down-and-shake-your-thang band) with some friends.  We had both been feeling morose about the house and decided to skip the wild carousing and linger over a delicious meal instead. We went to Sapor in the Warehouse district.  (Incidentally, a little gem of a restaurant, the food is tasty and gorgeous – we like to eat little plates in the bar – very mellow and civilized.) 

Predictably, after a couple glasses of wine, Mama starts to feel festive again.   I decide that I would like nothing better than to shimmy and shammy my way to a little r&r at H&B.  Doctor Dash, of course, has had a long week at work and is just jonesing to take our little party back home for a relaxing and romantic denoument.  So we go back and forth, a heated and complicated little tango of self-serving arguments, words like “squelcher” and “party girl” left unspoken but hanging in the stifling air.    

And so we were stuck.  And then suddenly we were unstuck because lovely Doctor Dash relented and agreed to go to the bar for one drink if I promised not to be a barnacle and leave willingly and quietly when it was time to go.

Which brings me to Tina.  The band was smokin’, as usual, and I was working it out on the dance floor with my super fly lady friends Nanook of the North, Crackerjack, and Birdie while the husbands bellied up to the bar and watched the silliness.  At one point, I turned around and looked on in horror as Doctor Dash took one last swig of his beer . . . I swear it was in slo mo . . . and placed it firmly on the bar.  I smiled at him, held up the three-quarters-full gin and tonic I had been nursing and started to shake my booty like a crazed hoochie mama!  I was in a fever!  I was dancing for my life!  I knew I was about to get pulled off the dance floor with a big wretched cane and I wasn’t finished!  I was dancing for Doctor Dash because I figured there was a 50-50 chance he was either amused by my ridiculous antics or turned on by my ridiculous antics.  Either way, it could bide me some time.  And sure enough, it did – all the way to the end of the blazing hot set.  At which time we bid our friends good night and left hand in hand . . . with me sweaty, grinning and humming Private Dancer.

May 30 2008

Oh my darlin’ Clementine.

Today I threw out an entire case of clementine oranges.  You know those crates you’re so happy to see in the beginning of winter because they’re sweet and easy to peel and your kids will actually eat them and they cost anywhere from nine dollars to six dollars depending on the ebb and flow of their little migration from Spain? 

They had been in the fridge for months and although citrus lasts a looooong time, there are limits.  They had been reduced to desiccated little globules, the shrunken heads of some tribe of orange peoples.  I HATE to throw away food, what, with the starving children with flies in their eyes and all.  Americans waste a staggering amount of food – about a pound every day for every person -  we generate thirty million pounds of food waste per year.  Today I pitched in by pitching the clementines.  As they thunked angrily to the bottom of my trash can (uugh, yes, I should be composting but my list of excuses would require a whole other blog entry), I had a flashback to the fateful day when I bought them.  

It’s the end of winter and my kids are pretty much sick of clementines, but I shift into autopilot at the supermarket (which, coupled with my Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride cart manoeuvering is how I manage to break $200.00 in less than 15 minutes).  I reach for the clementines and pause, my arm in midair like a Stepford Wife whose controls have gone awry and I think:  I shouldn’t buy these, they look a little feeble and everyone is over them.  But in the eternal quest to find food my kids will eat, I allow myself to believe that I can get one more crate’s worth of vitamin C into them and plop them into the cart.  And now they’re mocking me from the bottom of my trash can because I’m such a sucker.  

This is why I do not belong to Costco.  Keep me the hell away from that place.  It’s a vortex for the fat and avaricious and I know myself all too well.  I will be powerless to resist the siren song of gigantic packs of berries, huge pallets of unnaturally rotund tomatoes, enormous bottles of calcium supplements and strange frozen delicacies.  My mother always wants to take me to Costco when she comes to visit and because I relented in a moment of weakness, I am now the proud owner of a tremendous box of frozen Mexican carnitas.  God help me the day I throw those away . . .

Like I said, sucker.shapeimage_2-5_6


May 28 2008

Get back you crazy monkey!


monkey-mindI want to be able to do what Doctor Dash is doing in this photo.  He’s just relaxing, chilling out – two deep breaths away from a little meditation – five deep breaths away from falling asleep.  His ability to unplug and shutdown is enviable.

I can’t take a nap.  I can’t even fall asleep at night unless I read myself to sleep – the words need to be blurring together and the whole bending the page, putting the book on the night stand, turning off the light motion needs to be quick and seamless.   If it isn’t, I need to read a few more pages and try it again.  I know, it sounds a little crazy. 

In yoga the first time I heard about the monkey mind, I had a huge “aha” moment.  The monkey mind.  I recognized myself completely.  It’s when you can’t quiet the chatter and your mind jumps from thought to thought, like monkeys from branch to branch – wild and unruly, wily and rude.  The minute I lie back in savasna after yoga practice, my mind starts to wander . . . what are the kids doing?  what do I feel like eating when I get out of here?  how long has the dirty laundry been moldering in the chute? what’s up with the medium size ants invading our house this spring?  can my yoga teacher tell my mind is racing?  why does Posh Spice have such a skeletal scowl on her face all the time?  Is it because she’s starving?  What’s with Tom and Katie taking them under their wing?  Are they trying to convert them to Scientology?  What’s up with those freaky Scientologists?  FUCK!!!!  WHAT AM I DOING????  

Savasna – corpse pose.  It’s an opportunity for total and complete relaxation and surrender and although I need this sooooo badly, I’m a total and complete spaz.  I’m the furthest thing from a corpse.  Quite the contrary, I’m like a girl on ecstasy at a rave, but the rave is in my head, and it’s a rave for monkeys and I cannot, for the life of me, just notice them and then let them go and get back to the sensation of the sound of my breath, the blood pulsing through my veins, my muscles melting into the floor.  No, I bounce over to monkeys, chewing gum really hard with a huge grin on my face, my feet doing complicated little made-up hip hop moves, and join in their reindeer games. But the monkeys are very naughty and distracting, and ultimately, they’re monkeys, so let’s face it, they’re not that interesting.  So then I feel bad and I try to get back to savasna, and then one more monkey stretches his hairy hand toward me, and I grab it . . . and savasna is suddenly over.

And it’s not only that I want to be able to meditate or fall asleep.  I want to be able to BE IN THE MOMENT.  This chaotic, frenetic, exhausting time with my young family is so fleeting, that I’m afraid I’m going to miss it.  It’s like sand slipping through my fingers, but I’m so tired and frayed that I just open my fingers wider, letting it go go go . . . 

Little kids keep you very busy - busy with your hands: getting milk, wiping noses and bottoms, checking backpacks, making lunches, reading books, changing diapers, picking up toys, tying shoes, opening yogurts, washing blueberries, hoisting into swings, catching at the bottom of slides. Meaningful labor, but labor nevertheless.  The problem is that while your body is in motion, most of the time your mind is, well, how to put it delicately, not necessarily working to full capacity.  You don’t have the time or the quiet to concentrate on anything.  My kids are as bright and interesting as the next, but they’re children and so even though my mouth may be explaining the order of the seasons for the twelfth time, my mind is elsewhere (sometimes thinking those absurd thoughts I discussed in my first entry).  And I don’t want to be elsewhere.  I want to be here, with them, completely present.  Because soon enough, my three guys will be elsewhere and I’ll be longing for the days when all they wanted was ME, when all they needed to be happy was my attention and affection.  

Mother guilt – could there be a bigger cliché?

It’s paradoxical – the fact that the key to plugging in and being present is to unplug, stop thinking, let it all wash over you.  I should become a Buddhist.  That’s really what I’m talking about here.  Or I could have a stroke.  I read about this neuroscientist from Harvard in the NY Times who had a stroke and found nirvana – her left brain was damaged to such a degree that she lost her powers of analysis, speech and judgement, leaving her open to this sensation that everything was unified and blissful and part of a shimmering connected whole.  Oh my God.  That’s great.  For her.  

You know, I’ve always called my children monkeys, as in “Hop in monkeys,” “Into your pj’s monkeys,” etc.  I considered switching to squirrels once when Saint James became obsessed with them, but it never stuck.  Little kids are just simian – from birth, with their little clutching fingers and later – well, they don’t call them monkey bars for nothing.  

So maybe if the monkeys that are distracting me and taking up all my time and making me play and dance and rub my temples are MY monkeys, then it will all shake out in the end.  In the mean time, I’m going to read a book to Supergirl and I’m going to try to pay attention (reading aloud, like driving, can be accomplished using a mere sliver of your faculties) and I’m going to try not to think about the monkey we saw at the zoo who looked exactly like Kris Kristofferson.monkey-mind                                                                                                     Artist Heather Gorham

May 26 2008

Look what I can do!

santi!This past Saturday, our lovely friends had us over for a lovely barbeque in their lovely backyard.  I should have known something was up when Saint James asked for exactly eleven grapes.  He proceeded to stuff them all in his mouth, one by one, and just as I was about to bust his little seven year old balls, I noticed that our friends’ daughter, Little E, was giggling her head off.  He was clearly doing it to impress her, which is heart clutchingly cute.  So I bit my tongue and looked away so he could hone his rudimentary flirtation skills.  The next thing I knew, Saint James had barfed a neat little pile of chewed up brat and grapes on the table.  I’m sure he was mortified enough without the addition of my operatic yodel of surprise and clumsy napkin-in-hand-across-the-table-swoop-in.  

I’m not sure what Little E thought about any of this, but her three year old brother now thinks Saint James is a total rock star.

And here I was worried he might choke to death.


May 25 2008

Getting our asses to mass.

Today is Sunday and as I sent Saint James off to mass with Doctor Dash, I felt that all too familiar twinge of guilt.  Saint James had his first communion about a month ago and I am trying, like hell, to get him to mass every week.  Sometimes we rally the troops and go as a family, stashing Devil Baby in the nursery for a blessed hour of peace.  Of course each time we do, she gets pink eye or some nasty cold, as punishment for the fact that we aren’t volunteering to take care of other peoples’ infested children.  (Yes, on some level I do believe in a tit-for-tat, lightning bolt wielding kind of a God).  Most of the time it’s easier to ditch the dead weight and one of us will just take Saint James, so he can take communion, so he can say the Lord’s Prayer, so he can start to experience the ritual and the comfort in attending mass with some degree of consistency.   

There are other families who all go, all the time – the infants nap peacefully as the mothers sway to the music, the toddlers scribble with crayons or eat Cheerios like contented little cherubs . . .  not a one of them is wearing a tie-dye shirt  or Vans with skulls on them or lying down in the aisles.  I have never had those kind of children.  It goes without saying that Devil Baby has never sat through mass, but neither have Supergirl or until recently, Saint James.   Ten minutes in church pew seems to bring on a Sahara Desert thirst for Supergirl – a Pavlovian response to the water cooler with little paper cups located in the vestibule.  She never fails to sashay down the center aisle with her cup in her hand, like she’s traversing a cocktail party.  I’m not sure what the policy is about beverages in church (aside from the sacramental), but when I need to rehydrate after overindulging on a Saturday night, I try to keep it on the down low.  

I’m ok with my children being heathens until age 7.  

I’ve decided to go with the “down the hatch” theory.  It has worked with swimming, reading and potty training, and I don’t see why it won’t work for church.  I’ve got three kids: 7, 5 and almost 2.  Obviously they’re all at different developmental stages and since I am only human, I just take’em one at a time. 

My tally to date is as follows:  


swimming: 2; 

potty training: 2;

mass ready: 1.  

As long as they all end up literate, water-safe and inoculated against fanaticism* (and preferably, moderately Catholic) I will have done my job.  They will feel appropriately guilty when they skip mass to read a book in the pool and all will be right in the world.

*  I need to give credit to my friend and neighbor for the phrase inoculation against fanaticism; it’s his stated reason for dragging his three adorable, sleepy, crabby pubescent boys to 9:30 mass.  I’ll call him Ten Gallon because he wears a cowboy hat so well.  He also wears slippers to church and I love him for that.  He’s married to Gigi the Animal Whisperer and Neighborhood Scat Expert (Gigi, for short).  She runs around in a down vest and wellies and identifies poo.

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

May 22 2008

A whole new way to procrastinate.

It is 8:25 a.m. and Supergirl has to be at preschool at 9:00.  I’ve managed to slop some Rice Krispies into a bowl for her, but Saint James and Devil Baby are still asleep.  Every once in a while my children do this – sleep-in.  Of course they would never do this on a morning after a night involving tequila.  They would only do this after a random Wednesday night spent sipping Lotus bedtime tea and organizing my digital photos (yes, I do say that with a bit of pride due to the fact that prior to last Christmas, I was still shuffling into National Photo with my little rolls of film clutched in my clammy technology-averse fingers).   

I should be getting dressed, gently waking the sleepy heads, getting them fed and dressed and generally embarking on the morning routine which requires drawing on my inner peppy high-school cheerleader, crabby drill sergeant and Australian Shepherd – part Julie Macoy/ part that guy who used to yell at Gomer Pyle all the time.  It takes a superhuman effort to get everyone out the door in the morning. Although there are certain things that can be skipped (making the beds, putting the breakfast stuff away, nature’s calling – ahem, incidentally, you’d never catch Dr. Dash skipping this step), other things just can’t be, like breakfast, getting the crusties out of their eyes and, most importantly, fixing Saint James’ crazy hair.  

Supergirl has a mercifully silky little pageboy which requires absolutely no fussing – she gets out of the tub, it’s perfect – goes to bed, it’s perfect – gets out of bed, it’s perfect.  Sometimes I catch her trying to mess it up to get a little attention, but it still falls into a perfect little sweep, framing her perfect little face.  Saint James’ hair, on the other hand, is stupendous in its ability to defy gravity.  His pouf of hair is one of his defining characteristics.  Mind you, it’s a pouf only after I’ve tamed it.  Before the requisite dunking in the morning, his hair can look like an enormous lumpy pillow, the tail of a drunken peacock, or Maddox Jolie’s after a twenty hour flight to Namibia to pick up another sibling.  Horns, shark fins, pylons, eggrolls, you name it, his hair goes there.

And I simply cannot send Saint James to school looking like I don’t give a hoot.  It’s not cute messy.  It’s like your-mother-eats-chips-and-smokes-cigarettes-in-bed-all-day-messy – snot on your face messy – dirt under your nails messy.  (Sigh.)  Actually he does have dirt under his nails – all three of my children do.  For some reason, and I can’t quite figure out why, my children’s nails have been growing at an alarming rate lately.  I clip them and clean them and then poof, I hand them some string cheese and those dirty moon slivers are back.  What am I raising baby mechanics here?  I need to get their manis and pedis on a schedule, because I feel like I’m clipping nails every damn day.   

I think I hear Devil Baby whacking Elmo’s plastic eyes against the wall.  

Off to the races.

May 21 2008

Potentially perilous parenting moment.

beaverDoctor Dash to Saint James on researching his second grade habitat project: “Just go upstairs and google beaver.”

May 20 2008

Mother from another era.

I never particularly imagined myself to be the type of person who would blog. I will fully admit to being a bit of a technophobe, although I try to gloss it over in the rosy sepia tones of a cute “throw back.”  I fancy myself someone who would have been better suited to life before high fructose corn syrup and email.  I like the feel of paper between my fingers, the heft of a book tucked in the crook of my arm.  I enjoy the fact that reading a newspaper in the wind draws on myriad skills spanning from wind surfing to origami.  

On the other hand, although I inhaled the Little House on the Prairie books as a child, I have no interest in all that harsh physical labor necessary for survival.  I’m not so much into  churning my own butter, canning foods, or washing clothes by hand.  I don’t particularly wish to plant anything aside from the occasional ornamental perennial procured at the adorable garden store that sells Buddhas of every size for your zen garden.  I like antibiotics and dishwashers.  

I have concluded that I should have spent my meaty years in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  By meaty, I mean ages 25 through 45.  The fifties housewife thing wouldn’t have worked for me and I look horrible in any sort of garment that requires a cinched waist, not to mention the fact that those bouffant hairdo’s would have made me look like a complete horse face.  But hiphugger bellbottoms, platform sandals, handkerchief sleeve blouses . . . now we’re talking.  And, as I matured into a late thirty-something mother, the seventies would have been the time to do it – what, with the rockin’ jump suits, chic flyaway collars, big slouchy purses and even bigger sunglasses to hide my puffy eyes from the previous night’s debauchery.  Wooh mama!  

Those were the days when the mothers sat in the sun smoking and drinking, baking themselves to a toasty nut brown while their kids ran around and did WHATEVER!!!  These days you are not allowed to relax.  No, you’d better be slathering sunscreen on your kid or rooting through your carryall sack for a tupperware of freshly washed grapes or on your knees digging in the sand panting upbeat words of encouragement in an animated puppet voice.  Attentive mommies make for successful, well adjusted chicklets. God forbid they learn to entertain themselves. 

I long for the days of laissez-faire child rearing.  I want the days of teetering out to your chaise on fur-trimmed kitten heels trying to keep your gin and tonic from sloshing out of your glass tumbler. Or the idea of it, anyway. Lord knows, I don’t want to be more detached from my kids. I just find our current state of hyper focused child-centric super mothering and the guilt that inevitably goes with it rather exhausting. Now if you’ll excuse me, mommy’s just going to rest her eyes for a moment.

May 19 2008

Getting to know me, getting to know all about me.

So why blog?  My reasons are manifold and since I haven’t really planned out this first entry (I was more just sort of ferreting out a cool background), I’m just going to say that it has a little something to do with having too many words in my head flapping around like a bunch of nasty pigeons.

Sometimes all these words get strung together into thoughts  which are incredibly convoluted and, frankly, out there.  By way of example, I have actually imagined spawning a tiny version of myself who, after landing deftly on the countertop, arm of the couch or where ever I happen to be, scrambles up my sleeve, does a neat pike dive into my ear and hangs out in the bubbling hot tub that is my mind, rather enjoying the churning and the noise, but completely oblivious to the outside world.  

I have also composed entire paragraphs in my head depicting my travels in India, a travelogue redolent with the scents of turmeric and clove, frangipani, tuberose and water hyacinth . . . are you feeling me?  There’s more: dusty cows, swirling saris, warm sheets of monsoon rain, piles of gold and saffron in the markets, secret maps etched on the hennaed hands of brides.  I have never been to India, and, more importantly, do not have a job that would require me to document my impressions of India should I ever go there.  

Better to get all these words out, no?

This whole being in my head thing sounds a bit escapist, I’ll admit, and so this would be a good time to introduce the three short people who live in my house.  Wait.  One step back.  There is also one tall one, taller than me, actually, and I’ll call him Doctor Dash.  He vetoed Doctor Love because, he, unlike me, is not so sure that no one will ever read this blog.  In fact, Doctor Dash has enumerated a whole honkin’ list of things I’m not allowed to write about, but we’ll just see about that.  


Actually, I will.  I will censor myself to protect the innocent because this is just a lark, a little free therapy, and I intend to avoid any unnecessary mortification of loved ones (myself excluded).

Doctor Dash is very smart, which is very sexy – which is not to say that he wouldn’t be sexy were he not smart – I just wouldn’t be married to him.  He’s also funny, to me anyway.  We met our senior year in college when we were young and fun and about 15 pounds heavier each.  We met at the age when we both lived in flannel shirts and 501’s and drank copious amounts of beer and smoked copious amounts of woops!  We basically got to grow up together.  He wrapped me up in music, I wrapped him up in books and I’m so thankful I didn’t play too hard to get for too long.  (Yes, I was peevish back then too).  He gets me and really, what else could I ask for?

Our oldest lad is a heavenly seven and I will call him Saint James.  He loves all creatures, great and small, and wants to be a naturalist when he grows up.  He’s got the circadian rhythms of a teen.  He’s a killer reader and a pretty great soccer player too.  He’s got a big pouf of dirty blond hair, my eyes but in sparkly blue, an infectious cackle, a gentle soul, and, currently, a horrible case of hay fever.  

Our middle child is fabulously five and I will call her Supergirl.  She’s fearless and sporty and has the biggest green-brown eyes you’ve ever seen.  She craves speed, physical peril, and candy.  She rides her bike like the wind, is never cold and has the world’s dirtiest feet at the end of a good day outside.  She, I suspect, will also have many words in her head someday because she loves to chat and sometimes, honestly, you feel like you are talking to a teenager (albeit, a relatively agreeable one).  She’s determined and fierce and does a mean one-handed cartwheel.

Our youngest, God help us, our youngest is almost two and I can’t decide whether I will call her The Boss or Devil Baby.  Yes, that’s right.  I love her, I’ll keep her, but SHE’S FUCKING KILLING ME.  There, I said it.  I’m sick of all the pitying looks I get at Supergirl’s preschool as I wrestle 28 pounds of bucking fat and muscle to the car every day.  Devil Baby likes to stay and push the toy shopping cart around.  If you fuck with her plans, there is hell to pay.  She has porcelain skin, blue eyes, doe colored hair, and the steely innards of a mob boss.  She can be hilarious and she can make you want to stick your head in the oven.  She likes Elmo and tearing down the street on her big wheel.  She does not cooperate.  She does not compromise.  She does not listen.  She is killing me.  But I love her.  

I love them all.  And so I will write, a bit, to make myself a little more sane, a little more patient, a little less peevish.

Ah, yes, and why peevishmama?  Well, I think I’ve pretty much covered that.  Suffice it to say that I like the word and it captures, perfectly, how I feel 94% of the time.  And by the way, it’s not just my husband and kids making me peevish.  No, sometimes it’s everything and everyone else and they, Doctor Dash, Saint James, Supergirl and Devil Baby are the only, and the perfect, antidote.

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