Jun 30 2008

Save the drama for your mama.

This morning Supergirl walked down the stairs resplendent in charcoal grey, grinning from ear to ear.  It’s June.  It’s sunny.  It’s hot.  Tis the season for sundresses and tank tops.  But not for Supergirl.  She was happily swathed in grey knickers and a grey skull t-shirt that she swashbuckled away from Saint James the second he decided it was too small for him.  From the look on her face, she was pleased as punch with her ensemble, feeling tough and sassy, at ease and ready to rumble.  She rooted around in the hall closet for her skull Vans and voila, she was good to go.

lougrayWe’ve entered new terrain, Supergirl and I.  The terrain of mother-daughter sartorial angst.  I am extremely laissez-faire when it comes to her clothes and have allowed her to slowly and systematically reject anything “girlish” in her wardrobe, to opt instead for a steady stream of shapeless t-shirts from various locales visited by both sets of her peripatetic grandparents and a seemingly endless supply of tie dye shirts.  As our neighbor, Salt and Pepper Polymath, pointed out, she has an impressive collection of Ireland t-shirts.  Not really.  It’s just that she pilfered Devil Baby’s and Saint James’ before they even realized they had been given a souvenir.  

Cute little Splendid tanks I got on sale last summer?  Nope.  Winsome white jersey sundress with Chinoiserie florals and drop waist – super comfy, super cool and as un-girlie as a sundress can be?  Nope.  Myriad skorts, sporty yet feminine?  Nope.  Nope.  Double Nope.  I could go on and on – I have cornered the market on comfortable, adorable, tomboy-appropriate clothes, and for a while, it was working.  But now she’s pushing further and I find myself pushing back.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a girlie girl.  I’m pretty low maintenance and although I love clothes and shoes and most of all BOOTS, I tend to end up in a bit of a uniform:  tanks, skirts and flipflops for summer; jeans, thermals and boots for winter.  But I’m all about mixing it up.  High, low.  Girlie, butch.  Dressy, casual.  Ornate, simplistic.  Comfortable, but never too comfortable.  Like any Mama worth her beans, I am willing to suffer (a little bit) for beauty.  

This past spring on Supergirl’s picture day, I experienced the first gusts of these foul winds of change.  I was not attempting to put her into a frock of any sort (like all the other girls at her poshy posh preschool), in fact, I don’t like fancy frilly frivolous frocks.  My girls don’t even wear Easter dresses on Easter!  I was simply trying to get her out of her cargo pants for one day, so she wouldn’t look so danger-grrrrl – so street urchin chic in her picture.  All hell broke loose when I tried to cajole her into wearing a cute t-shirt and a comfy black Hardtail skirt.  This skirt is genius.  It’s tough looking and then it kicks it up with some ruffles . . . but tough ruffles.  She looked like herself – funky and unfussy, but she didn’t see it that way and ended up in a full fledged head under the pillow heavy drama weep fest.  I felt terrible, but it had gone too far for me to cave in.  Something had happened over the winter, right under my nose but unbeknownst to me:  Supergirl had gone uncontrovertably, irrevokably, tomboy on me.  Which is a nice way of saying that she’s dressing really really butch.  

Honestly, I love that she spends 30% of her day upside down and the other 70% swinging, biking, or kicking a soccer ball.  I love that she never went princessy on me.  That she scoffed at Barbie commercials and muttered: “that’s so lame” out of the side of her mouth with the disdainful nonchalance of a fourteen year old boy.  

Sure, part of me wants to yell (and did, in fact yell in a shamefully, hysterical falsetto): “you are so lucky you don’t have an Edina mom!  You are so lucky I don’t force you to wear dresses and ribbons everyday!”  Here’s the thing:  I feel like the leeway I give her to wear what she wants on a daily basis should be repaid with a reasonable degree of acquiescence when I do ask her to pull herself together in a different way.  Like on picture day.  

Or when our lovely neighbors, Red Vogue and Salt and Pepper Polymath, invited us over for dinner.  Supergirl is seriously like best friends with RV and SPP (together, the Onions, because the more you get to know them, the more there is to know, layers and layers of stories and talents, personality quirks and humor, easy, effortless kindness and deeply interesting loveliness.)  I simply wished to impart to Supergirl that it is common courtesy to make a bit of an effort when someone has been kind enough to welcome you into their home and cook for you with love.  That night was round two of our battle and I lost . . . big time.  Not only did she not wear a sundress (she was actually willing to miss out on root beer floats to prove her point), she went home and put on a pair of maple syrup stained mismatched boy pajamas half way through dinner.  Boy did she show me.  

And then I start to wonder: what is my problem with this?  Why do I care?  What does it say about me that this is even an issue?  Do I worry that how she dresses reflects on me?  Do I worry that this isn’t just a passing phase?  And what if it isn’t?  What’s wrong with dressing like a man?  Oh, who am I kidding????  A whole fucking hell of a lot!!!  Did I let this go too far?  Will she ever wear a skirt again?  And as with all my angst and worry, I quickly veer into crazy-talk quasi-prayer mode:  God, if she’s a lesbian, please let her be a lipstick lesbian so we can at least enjoy shopping together!!!

And then that little Frenchman with the butter soft leather kid gloves gives me a little slap slap slap and I come to my senses and realize this:  Supergirl is perfect the way she is and I would be infinitely more horrified if she wanted to teeter around in plastic platform Cinderella shoes.  She’s on the move and she runs with a pack of wild boys who have a few years on her.  She needs to be swift and cool to hang, or she will be left in the dust.  And so she has figured out what she needs for right now.  She plays up, she plays hard, and she plays to win.  If she needs armor for this, more power to her – at least she’s in the game. 

I just need to chill the hell out.

As for Devil Baby, you’ll be seeing her in nothing but skirts and sundresses every live long day until such time as she decides otherwise.  Maybe, just maybe, she’ll turn out to be my girlie girl.

Jun 27 2008

So sorry Ms. Spider.

Today I got to work on my window boxes, something I love, love, love to do.  I have a moderately green thumb, but I have pretty much kept myself satisfied with indoor plants, window boxes and a few big pots of flowers and herbs.  I love to imagine myself shuffling along rows of carefully tended perennials and annuals, cooing the latin names of my babies, moving things around, thinning, deadheading, pruning, etc. -  whatever it is “gardeners” do.  Of course, I would look very garden chic in a wide brimmed sun hat, a light weight cotton blouson in white, khaki clamdiggers and clogs . . . the wooden kind . . . from Holland.  But as of yet, I have no such garden, no such skills and no such wardrobe.  I have, however, figured out a pretty good combo for my shady window boxes – lots of coleus and trailing sweet potato vines . . . dark purples, blood reds and bitchin’ chartreuse greens . . . I likeeee very much.

plantIt was a perfect day for planting – overcast and sprinkling.  I doused myself in bug dope and enjoyed the rain on my back as I crouched in the grass with my new posse of flora, figuring out who should sit next to whom.

But as luck would have it, I ended up tangling with one  formidable mama, giving me great pause during my summertime idyll.  In the window box to the left of our door lives a big spider.  Gigantic.  As my mother would say, “tiene cara de mala!” Translation: she has a mean face.  Which is to say, she is no blondie daddy long leg – which is to say if she looks mean, she probably is mean.  She’s big, she’s thick, she’s dark and nasty looking and she spins some unearthly webs – webs so dense and luxurious they could be used for hammocks for a harem.  I have watched her scuttle behind my primroses.  I have watched her watch me.  I have even watched her jump.  This crazy bitch JUMPS!!!  But for some reason, I haven’t felt compelled to smoosh my resident Arachne.  I just give the lady wide berth, hoping she’ll feast on some of the mosquitos that plague me and Supergirl.  Today, after casting a wary glance around the window box, I removed the plastic liner to find a big spider papoose – a white woven bassinet full of her spawn.  What to do . . . what to do . . . well what I did was grab a stick and rub that thing right into the garbage.  I could almost feel her watching me from her darkened crevice with her eight sparkling eyes.  

I’m so very sorry Ms. Spider, but I’m sure you understand.  It was your babies or mine.  I just can’t have hundreds of little cara de mala spiders running around on my front porch.  Best of luck and enjoy the coleus . . . and please, don’t jump on me.

Jun 25 2008

A veritable feast of guilty pleasures.


2008 Craig Blankenhorn / New Line Cinema

I had a great day.  My long time sitter agreed to stand in my flip flops so I could go do my thing for a few hours.  After procuring face paint from my neighbor at 8:30 in the morning and drawing a fairly realistic Argentina flag on Saint James’ cheek for soccer camp, getting everyone fed and sunscreened and dressed for the day, I peeled off in my trusty minivan hoping to make it to yoga on time.  The irony of driving like a crazed Indy-500 wannabe to get to yoga is not lost on me.  Nevertheless, I made it (after being away for far too long) and had a beautiful class with my favorite teacher, Sydney.  Sigh.  I love yoga.  And the day just kept getting better.


I went to see  Sex in the City by myself.  My ultimate, all time favorite, guilty pleasure is to see movies alone in the middle of the day.  When I was working, I would hop on to moviefone.com, grab my blackberry and bust a move for a matinee three or four times a year.  In Boston, it involved taking the T to Harvard Square, but my clandestine cinematic affairs got ridiculously easy when they put those theaters in Block E.  Uugh.  Don’t get me started on Block E though, because I will get all hot and bothered, start shaking my finger and enumerating everything that is wrong with America and its deep seeded cultural propensity for pandering to the least common denominator in everything from cuisine to politics to architecture to entertainment.  For those who don’t live here, Block E used to be a perfectly nice parking lot filled with perfectly nice drug dealers and crack whores.  Right across from City Center, the most godawful mall in this great land, Block E provided a pleasant open black top for loitering, parking cars, cutting through to Toby’s and other assorted shady dealings.  Does anyone besides me remember Toby’s?  Great bar, great food, humongous genius chef who busted out some of the most delicious and spicy Asian-inspired green beans and equally delicious and spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches – phenomenal burgers too.  The place was dark and clubby, civilized, authentic, lived in, plush and tobacco stained, the way any good watering hole worth its salt should be.  Anyway, something happened to Toby, Toby’s closed, and some of the most obtuse and talentless hacks in the history of this city were put in charge of redeveloping the block which resulted in the second most godawful mall in the land.  Block E is a depressing, impenetrable monolith, the architectural equivalent of an insipid, obese, bastard devoid of any charm or smarts and it is filled with crappy businesses seemingly handpicked to appeal to insipid, obese, bastards.  The smell alone of Cold Stone Creamery makes me want to barf.  But I digress.  I was supposed to be thinking happy thoughts.  

So after yoga I hightailed it over to Edina for the 11:00 show.  I had to pee and was so gratified to see that the movie theater had installed Dyson Airblade hand dryers – the kind Ed Begley, Jr. put in his house, to his wife’s consternation.  They use less energy than those pathetic old dryers and it’s a fait accompli in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.  Love these things.  I’m always torn in public restrooms because I am equal parts squeamish, impatient, and concerned about our environment . . . so how to dry my hands. Usually I just run them through my hair as I ninja my way out, trying not to touch anything.  So if I’m not mistaken, these super fancy hand dryers are the brainchild of that dashing British guy who invented those yellow vacuum cleaners with more suction.  This cute man is doing God’s work, if you ask me – keeping people from slowly going insane as they pass their vacuum over the same cheerio over and over.  

And get this!  When I purchased my popcorn and drink, I was surprised and delighted to learn that the butter is self-serve!  Like I said, the day just kept getting better!  Woooh, baby!  Except that it’s hard to get the butter into the middle of the bag with out drenching the top . . .  much better to have a concession stand worker with a good work ethic fill the bag half-way, squirt butter, fill it the rest of the way and squirt again.  I fully admit these sound like the musings of an insipid, obese, American bastard.

Nevertheless, as I settled into my seat in a nearly empty theater with my buttered popcorn and my diet coke, I felt like Pee Wee Herman at a skin flick.  The most delicious combination of guilty and contented.  A tall, stiff drink of contentment with a twist of guilt.  And then, and then . . . the movie started and I just about wept.  The clothes are nothing short of SPECTACULAR.  Wardrobe has taken everything they were doing right with the show and made it even better and bigger, befitting the celluloid screen.  There is a scene where Carrie is trying on wedding dresses for a Vogue shoot and, oh sweet mother, do they pull out the big guns: Wang, Carolina Herrera, Lacroix, Lanvin, Dior, Oscar de la Renta and the topper, an edgy, alarming, and drop dead sophisticated Vivienne Westwood (which was not my favorite, but would have been my pick for Carrie too).  Each confection just gets better and better . . . the drama mounting . . . the luxe gorgeousness washing over you in waves of tulle and organza and silk, each dress unique and so beautifully conceived and executed.  And it was like this the whole entire movie.  I was delirious!  It’s like fashionista porn.  A sartorial fantasy beyond my wildest imagination.  And there was this studded black belt that kept popping up – très rocker chic – très my cup of tea.

Not to be a blowhard poo-pooer, but I thought the movie itself was flawed in that it hinged on the cowardice of man that was so profound, so unforgivable, that it almost seemed unbelievable.  He was a mouse, not a man, and it was an  unequivocal deal breaker, through and through.  Forgiveness, redemption, love . . .  the movie  dealt with all the themes you’d expect to see in a romantic comedy, no real surprises.  The hanger was ordinary, but the threads hanging on it were thoroughly extraordinary, transporting, satisfying and worth every second and penny.  And not for nothing, the movie displays some true blue girl-friendship and loyalty and that is always wonderful to see.  Especially when the girlfriends are running around in astonishingly beautiful fur wraps, polka dot dresses, and insane white boots, both tall and short.  Oh, Dorothy, I need to see it again!

And when I got out of the movie it was two o’clock.  I thought about getting a pedicure, but really, I was completely sated.  I was ready to go home and hang with my kids.  I was ready to leave behind the Manolos and slip back into my flip flops.

Jun 24 2008

So that’s how it’s gonna be.

Every once in a while your child does or says something so jarring, so unexpected, so revelatory that it’s as if someone took a pair of buttery soft tan leather kid gloves and slapped you across the face with them and screamed “ATTENTION!” in a heavy French accent.  There are certain moments when something happens that brings into screeching focus the fact that your kid is an other, a sentient, cogitative being apart from you.  My guys are still young, so they are always underfoot, kind of like chickens in a barnyard – so much so that you start to not notice them as much.  Until one of them says something that puts you into a goggle eyed, head swiveling, double take.  And then you go, aaaah, right, oh my God, you are hilarious, only I can’t tell you because I’m your mother and I’m not suppose to think this is hilarious because you are only five and if you say shit like this around other mothers, no one will have you over for play dates, so let me just bite my lips and pretend I didn’t quite hear you and continue on our way.

The other day I was meeting my girlie friends out at a launch party for Sotheby’s new magazine, to be followed by a swimwear fashion show (this all sounds very swoozy, doesn’t it?), to be followed by a trip downtown to see our favorite band, New Congress: an amazing R&B, hip hop, rumpshake,  scritch scratch, freaky deaky, screaming guitar, head banging, hoochie coochie, sweaty, fun, thumpin’ band.  Doctor Dash was dropping me off at the Calhoun Beach Club (where the cougars go to hunt) on his way to Punch Pizza with the kids.  Because he knows this isn’t the tamest bunch of betties and that we tend to get a tad rowdy when we go out and because he’s just a super cautious guy when it comes to his sweet Mama, the following conversation ensues:

Dash:   Have fun but be careful . . . be smart.

Me (with ridiculously enormous sunglasses and grin):  of course, Baby, you know me.  I’m always careful.  And smart!

Supergirl (from the back of the minivan):  Except for that one night you didn’t come home.

OK, first of all, that never happened.  Dash and I look at each other, completely agog.  Total Shaggy and Scooby “zoinks” moment.  That never happened . . . did it?  No, absolutely not.  Holy shit!  Is she fucking with me?  I turn around so I can see her face and she is sitting in her booster seat, swinging her legs, her tan little face lit with mirth.  She starts to giggle her head off and right then and there I realize that she IS fucking with me – that her sense of humor has evolved way beyond potty and knock-knock jokes.  She has gone dark and devious. Genius.  How can she possibly understand the implications of what she is saying?  I’m not sure that she fully does, but she understands enough to know that throwing that out there will stop us dead in our tracks.  And it did.  After I retrieve the eyeballs that have popped out of my head and otherwise gather my wits about me, the conversation continues:

Me:  Supergirl!  Don’t ever say that in front of anyone else!!!  Oh my goodness!  You know that never ever ever happened, right?!??

Supergirl:  Yes it did.

Me:  No it did not!  Do not repeat that in front of anyone!  People will think mommy is . . .  is . . . is . . . a little crazy!

Supergirl:  You are a little crazy.

Jun 23 2008

Adventures in laundry.

laundry-webI do a shit load of laundry.  And, like pot roast and aprons, it feels like the particular province of a stay-at-home mother.  Can there be anything more archetypically domestic than folding laundry?  Maybe ironing, which I don’t do often.  Although I sometimes feel like I brought this on myself when I decided to throw in the Ally McBeal pumps, I know that I would still be doing a shit load of laundry if I were lawyering downtown.  No doubt.  With three messy chitlins, mucha dirty ropa is to be expected.  Bibs have never been my thing (I’m all about avoiding the tiniest extra step, even when I know it would be prudent to just do it - a stitch in time saves nine is my anti-motto) and now that I’ve discovered spray-on Oxyclean, I don’t even bother to remove a white t-shirt about to take on a red popsicle. 

I have learned this:  you can’t keep clothes clean, but you canget them clean – so peace out and relax.

Our house has a laundry chute, which in addition to being so cute and clever and hearkening back to a more innocent time, is a really really convenient way to clean up the house.  Down the chute, deal with it later.  Three sets of pajamas on the ground (because how, how, how can you be expected to put your pajamas under your pillow and then remember they are there the next night?)  Two down the chute, one under the pillow.  Less than fresh smelling Spiderman undies? Down the chute.  White towel smeared with either chocolate or poo, not worth the sniff to determine which?  Oxyclean and down the chute.  Supergirl’s been dabbing her bleeding mosquito-bite scabs with the dishcloth again?  Ditto.

For all the dirty laundry produced by my kids, Doctor Dash does them a dastardly dirty dog double dutch donkey kong double.  He is the king of wearing a shirt for a couple hours and throwing it down the chute.  Yes, he exercises a lot and yes, I understand he can’t be expected to wear that stuff again, but can’t he take a page from the French and go with a bit of his natural essence and wear the same t-shirt two days in a row?  Or at least all day long?  And his black Pearl Izumi socks . . . oh, God help me!  They look like black cow tongues – and he leaves a pair on the floor by the bed every, every, every day.  For some reason, Doctor Dash needs to get into bed with socked feet, but cannot sleep with socked feet, and cannot be bothered to resock his feet in the morning with those pathetic worms strewn on the floor.  So if he’s home, I passive-aggressively kick them out of the bedroom onto the landing and if he’s not home I pick them up, sometimes cursing his existence, sometimes reminding myself that if anything ever happened to him, I would be so sad to have wasted energy being angered by a motion that takes two seconds, but then that brings me back to cursing him because it would take him two seconds to pick them up too.  And they’re his socks.

So every once in a while, when I go to the basement, I am horrified at the size of the heaving, moldering mountain that has accumulated.  It seems to fester and grumble – like a volcano.  My devil may care, down the chute, deal with it later philosophy can really come back to bite me in the ass.  

And then there’s the laundry fauna to contend with.  Sometimes, as I crouch and sort darks and tie dyes from everything else, one of those crazy hairy urban centipede things will scuttle out of the pile at breakneck speeds sending me into a convulsive whole body shiver.  Apparently these house centipedes are totally harmless and are actually beneficial – they are insectavors . . .  although that line of thinking is kind of like Amy Sedaris reintroducing mice to her NY city apartment when she realized that the mice had been eating the cockroaches.  

But the worst of all my laundry travails happened when we were living in a rental house in Ann Arbor a couple years ago.  I was throwing everything into the dryer and there was one little toddler sock left in the bottom of the washing machine, so I reached in and grabbed it. But it wasn’t a toddler sock at all.  No, it was a limp, wet, drowned, but very clean mouse.  I nearly had a heart attack and after screaming my head off and running away, and shuddering and shivering and screaming some more, I decided to leave the whole debacle for Doctor Dash to deal with.  For the rest of the day, I was plagued by the notion of all those clothes soaking and spinning in . . . . mouse juice. 

Jun 22 2008

In case you were worried.

I am feeling much better today.  It seems Peevish Mama has a little flair for the drama.  No one, however, can accuse me of keeping my emotions pent up.  It’s all right out there and sometimes the force of my feelings and the words that go with them are enough to blow your knickers off.

Which reminds me of last night (a large part of why I’m feeling better, if a little fatigued).  We went to Rock the Garden down at the Walker with some friends and had a quintessential summer night out.  Music, brats, lots of beers.  Sitting in the grass, people watching, laughing, chatting.  Girls in sundresses bumming cigarettes off boys with whiskers.  The acoustics weren’t the best up on the hill, but honestly, it just felt so good to lounge in the grass with a view of the bridge, the Sculpture Garden, the Basilica, Loring Park and the big crowd of music lovers, that the bands just became a really pleasant backdrop.  Incidentally, that is my very favorite view of the city as you come down Hennepin – architecture classical and modern, gravitas and whimsy, art and religion and commerce and leisure all cushioned in a whole lotta lush leafy green.  In keeping with fickle and temperamental Minnesota summers, the weather went from searingly sunny to gusty, angry little rain droplets in a matter of minutes (luckily it happened at the end of the show).  Just being there, grooving with all those people, mostly younger than us, but some older than us, validated why I love this city so much.  People gather, they seek each other out, they congregate and coexist peacefully, happily . . . maybe out of a need to shake off the vaguely hermitic ways imposed by winter.  

A rock concert on the grounds of a modern art museum put on by a public radio station, attempting to be a zero-waste event.  If that doesn’t represent all that is true and good about Minneapolis, I don’t know what does.

Another thing I love about this city, and I know I’ve mentioned this before, is that it’s small and contained enough so that you just run into people.  At the park, at the market, out to dinner, at the lake. You are never quite safe going out to buy milk in your pajamas because a friendly acquaintance is bound to pop out of the produce  section and chat you up for a few.  Yesterday, as my friend and I were groaning at the long and serpentine line for the restroom, my daughter’s preschool teacher and I spotted each other at the exact same time – the adorable and fantastic Mrs. Sheryl.  Turns out her husband’s favorite band is the New Pornographers and through her MPR membership she had scored some VIP tix, so that they could procure drinks and pee away from the plebes (us).  She swept us into the elevator, pointed us in the direction of a secret bathroom and gave us a breezy wave as she went off to get a couple more drinks for her and her hubby.  I’m totally doing that next year.  More importantly, what a lovely surprise and what a happy coincidence!  I couldn’t wait to tell Supergirl.

So back to blowing your knickers off.  As we were wiling away the late afternoon drinking beers in the sun, one of my friends, Gear Daddy (married to Nanook), was treated to a full on peep show of a young (but unlandscaped) coochy belonging to a girl in a white sundress.  Praise be for mirrored sunglasses, right?  So no judgement, that’s fine, it’s summer, your dress is white, you don’t want panty lines, everyone likes a little breeze in the netherlands from time to time, but didn’t your mama teach you how to sit like a lady?  Gear Daddy wasn’t complaining, though – he was loving Minneapolis too last night. 

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. 

Jun 19 2008

and here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson

shapeimage_2-7_4Have you seen the bathing suits that boys wear for swim team these days?  Gone are the skimpy speedos.  They’ve been replaced by a longer, spandex, biker short.  For mothers who rarely get to see their sons’ butts anymore, with the baggy cargos, board shorts, soccer shorts, etc., watching them run around in these little numbers is equal parts hilarious and swoon-worthy.  The first time Saint James walked out in his little royal blue swimsuit, I was floored.  At seven, he has lost every iota of his baby fat and has taken on the frame of a . . . of a . . .  guy.  As he walked away toward the pool I marveled at his broad little shoulders, his long coltish legs and a couple of delicious buns.  Seriously, his buns are, dare I say it, PERFECT!  Who knew?  Yowza!  When did this happen?

I find myself watching as he and his buddies lounge in the sun after practice, warming up like lizards, talking about Warrior Cats, Pokemon, and other mysterious and magical boy things.  They are completely at ease in their dear little bodies, continuously shifting and moving as they chat, making karate chop motions and whooshing sounds – their scapulae, knees and elbows sharp and bony – their ribs rising and falling like the keys of a delicate and primitive instrument.  

Watching them, you sort of want to well up.  I need to be clear here before I get myself into trouble – it’s not a sexual thing at all. But it is a physical thing.  There is something between a mother and a son that is visceral – an attraction of gut, skin and bone.  With Saint James, my body wanted to hold him, yearned for the weight of him in my arms.  I wanted to bury my face in his neck and breathe.  I still do.  When he was a baby he used to rub his feet on my belly while he nursed, and that right there, is the definition of bliss.  And it’s not just me.  My friend talked about being taken aback by her boys’ “musculature,” her eyes widening with wonder as she described watching them wrestle with their dad.

It’s part love, part pride, and part good old fashion attraction. I think if you love men, you love boys.  You love their bodies and the potential that is alive and glimmering in those little frames.  (Query whether the corollary holds true – I know no man who would admit to the same sentiment about girls without feeling like he was stepping into dangerous terrain – which is sad.) 

Now if you will indulge me, I think I will go ahead and dip my toe into treacherous waters by putting aside the youngsters for a moment and moving on to a certain swim coach.  I’ll call him Swim Jim.  Let’s just put it out there.  He’s adorable.  Even more so because he’s a natural with the kiddies (future hot dad, for sure) and towers over them like a giant, chiseled Adonis.  Honestly, he had scarcely entered my radar until the other day.  Nanook and I were innocently standing by the baby pool, watching our girls, when all of a sudden, Swim Jim strides through the knee deep water taking a short cut to the big pool, sending water fanning everywhere while he adjusts the front tie to his trunks.  He pretty much flashed us the top of his pubes and more importantly, that low abdominal cut that goes right inside the hip down to . . . where ever.  Oh Lordy, someone hand me some smelling salts!  I’ll find out the name of that spot - you know what I’m talking about . . . Marky Mark . . . .  (Ten bucks says Doctor Dash will raise an eyebrow and shake his head at me trying to figure out what havoc I will wreak on this blog with this tidbit of information, before coughing it up.)  So there we stood, Nanook and I – left in Swim Jim’s wake, mouths agape, fanning ourselves, wondering whether he had done it on purpose, and feeling more than a little Mrs. Robinson, indeed.    


Jun 17 2008

Now this is romantic.

shapeimage_2-8_2Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 84, were married yesterday in San Francisco.  They have been together for more than fifty years.  How outré they must have been as young women in the 1950’s, to have chosen each other.

Happy day.  It’s about time.

Jun 16 2008

Dad Love (Part II)

D&SMy friend Susie and I used to scope out “hot dads.”  We would point them out to each other with a frantic whisper - hot dad two o’clock - take a nonchalant look and nod approvingly - Aaaah, yeeees - with fiendish Cheshire cat grins on our mugs, our braces catching the sun.  We were like twelve!  Little Lolitas!  How did we even know to recognize a hot dad?  Must have been some nascent maternal stirrings in our skinny tween bodies, some evolutionary trait honed through the ages to help females pick a good mate.  In actuality we were quite the innocent Catholic school girls, but I’d say we were definitely on to something with the hot dad thing . . .  

So let’s hear it for HOT DADS!!!!  Wooohoooooo!!!!  You guys just don’t get enough props!!!  Here it is baby!  Here’s my shout out to all the hot dads who are out doing their thing . . .  jinging the jingy with the wife, biking with the kids, doing the dishes,  brandishing the barbeque tongs, coaching soccer, trimming the hedges, looking, frankly, hot while you’re doing it!  

Happy Hot Father’s Day!  That’s right men.  Just know that just because your mamas aren’t hunting you down and ripping your clothes off every damn second, it’s not because you’re not hot.  No sirree, it’s because you’re too hot and we are too tired (for the time being).  Not too tired, however, to feel highly appreciative of the serious eye-candy you all are providing for us all over this good green city.

And, of course, Happy Hot Father’s Day to Doctor Dash – the hottest hottie Daddy-o I know!  Now he’s going to be all embarrassed.  Am I crossing the line?  I think not.  I am the picture of discretion.  I am nothing, if not discrete.  So no, it’s fine . . .  love, love, love the hot dads.  Who doesn’t? 

And I super duper dig mine in particular.  It’s funny, although I thought I loved and adored Doctor Dash before having kids, he irretrievably stole my heart and buried it somewhere very very deep the day Saint James was born.  I felt like a wave crashed into me when I saw him holding our beautiful squalling boy, just beaming with joy.  He looked how I felt and sharing that intense happiness, all wrapped up in a light blue blanket was heady indeed.  Saint James was us, yet totally separate and unique and outside of us.  We were a triangle now, and boy, now we were really IN.  

And with each new kid, Dash has shown new colors.  Supergirl brought out a different kind of tenderness – a magical sweetness reserved specifically for fathers and daughters.  Supergirl’s eyes were so enormous as a newborn that she looked like an alien, or a nocturnal animal.  She was adorable and freaky-looking at the same time and Doctor Dash fell for her, hard.

Devil Baby, with all the scares she gave us, worried him sleepless (although he kept it to himself).  His relief that she and I were going to be alright seemed to galvanized itself into a zen-like patience.  He was my safety net and my punching bag during those bleary months when I couldn’t seem to make her happy.  He didn’t say much. The torrent of words, the frantic venting, that was all coming from me.  He let me speak and cry and simply held her.  He gave me the physical separation I needed for a few moments to actually SEE her.  And those minutes of watching him get to know her while I sat a few feet away were priceless – little nuggets of sanity I gobbled up greedily.  In a way, I fell in love with Devil Baby, through Doctor Dash’s eyes.  He was my guide because she and I were so inextricably wrapped up in the crying and nursing and rocking and soothing, none of which was working, that I felt like she and I were one sad, exhausted creature.  He needed to be there, to create physical and emotional space between us, to quietly push us into a triangle, so I could see what he saw, so I could fall in love like he was.   

If Saint James grows up to be like Doctor Dash, I will be a proud and contented mommy, indeed.  I will sigh and hug myself and feel goosebumpily satisfied to have put a good man out into the world.  Dash is a good man. And what can be hotter than that?

Jun 15 2008

Dad Love (Part I)

papiToday is Father’s Day and my very own Papi is in town visiting.  Ironically, he knows nothing of this blog because I want to be able to freely discuss my sex, drugs and rock n’ roll lifestyle without worrying about my parents.  The fact that he would love this blog is not lost on me, and being a dutiful parent-pleaser, I feel a bit guilty.  I might need to create a shadow site -  PGpeevishmama, where I only post my most innocuous and innocent ramblings, those in keeping with my status as the responsible, straight-A, straight-laced, oldest daughter of immigrant parents, wife, mother of three, etcetera, etcetera. Not that I’m writing anything all that subversive, I just don’t want my parents, my kid’s teachers, or any of the school mommies deciding I’m some sort of miscreant mother. 

All surreptitious blogging and guilty feelings aside, I credit my dear dad with my love of literature, and by extension, my love of words.  When I was little he used to bring me books all the time, which represented something warm, visceral and deep:  his love, his faith in my intellect, his desire to share all that there is to discover between the covers of a book.  He gave me Jules Verne’s 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a book he had devoured as a boy in landlocked Cordoba, Argentina.  It didn’t really float my boat, but the book became emblematic to me, a talisman of sorts.  It was a handsome, hard cover book with gorgeous illustrations on the cover of undersea life . . .  limpid blue water, flaming coral and schools of fish, undulating octopi and sinister eels . . . I remember running my fingers over the smooth cover, daydreaming about mermaids and pirates and submarines. The book represented adventure and promise.  

When I was twelve he hired a scuba teacher to give us private lessons in our pool.  We learned to read decompression tables and to spit in our masks so they wouldn’t fog up.  We learned not to surface faster than our bubbles to avoid the bends and how to share a regulator in case one of us ran out of air.  I was at the height of my raging tweeny, drama-queen ways, but with my dad in the water, with the weight of the scuba gear and the lessons we were learning on my shoulders, I was clear-eyed, competent and calm.  He expected nothing less.  

We got our scuba certifications, taking our open water test in a quarry in some hick town in Ohio.  The water was murky and cold and we carved our initials in a yellow school bus that was shipwrecked at the bottom of the quarry.  My dad always carried a scuba knife strapped to his leg, just in case we ever got tangled in a net or encountered an underwater marauder (or had the occasion to carve our initials on the side of a rusty bus).  He has a little James Bond in him, my dad.  

We were in a manmade hole in the ground filled with junk, but we felt like we were 10,000 leagues under the sea. 

Eventually we did scuba dive in actual salt water, in the Bahamas, in Mexico.  Fish used to nip at my hair as it streamed behind me like a mermaid’s.  We saw a shark once, manta rays . . . we watched in horror and wonder when a guide named Pirata ditched his scuba gear to plunge under a reef and emerged triumphantly clutching an enormous crab which he wrestled into a net and made me drag along for the rest of the dive.  

My dad was always amazed at how slowly I went through my air.  I was smaller, yes, but I was also calmer.  Scuba diving was something he had dreamed of as a boy, waited a lifetime to learn, and approached with a sense of wonder and excitement.  To me, it was no big deal.  I never felt I wouldn’t be able to do it, never had a chance to long for it.  I was learning it practically before I knew about it.  This particular skill set, like so many others, was handed to me on a silver platter.  This portal to adventure, to the watery deep, was an inheritance of sorts.  

I always thought I could do anything, be anything.  Now I understand that it’s because someone was working very hard to make sure I felt like that – smoothing my way, but pushing me hard.  Empowered, entitled, brazen, hungry for knowledge, power, adventure, happiness.  

The world was my oyster.  

Papi, te quiero.  Gracias.

Jun 14 2008

Feelin’ Marsha Brady

I’ve brought the lap top to my bed and am lying on my stomach typing away.  Chewing gum, crossed ankles – très high school girl, except I have to glance out the window from time to time to make sure none of my children is out in the street.  Do you remember that terribly dangerous trick where you and a co-conspirator popped up on opposite sides of the road and pretended to pull a rope when a car was coming?  How horrible!  How rife with potential disaster and tragedy!  It makes me shudder to think of all the dangerous things I have done in my life, the rope trick being about a 4 out of 10 on the danger scale. Maybe a 3.  

Survival is such a crapshoot.  We should all be dead ten times over and yet we continue to squeak by.  For now, anyway.  

Not so Marsha, this line of thinking . . . a tad morbid. Perhaps time to change the channel.  In other news, Devil Baby is making huge strides in the potty-training department and if I can crumple her up and swoosh her into the “done” basket in the next couple weeks, I am going to write a book and then I’m going to go on Oprah.  I will become a potty guru and I will share my pithy tips with a benevolent smile.  I will debunk the myth being perpetrated by BIG CORPORATE DIAPER, who, through shady and unethical means get pediatricians to proselytize the message that kids aren’t ready to be toilet trained until three years old, and even then, you shouldn’t push them because . . . o.k., all together now . . . every child is different.

Well I’m here to say that there is a definite potty training window at age two and if you seize the day and believe that it can happen, that’s one whole year less of diapers choking our landfills and, more importantly, one whole year less of cleaning smeared smelly shit off your child’s ass.  If I’m wrong, that means my kids are defecation geniuses, pissing savants, which would be a bit of a waste and a pity,  so I’m sticking to my theory.  

Again, I’m way off the Marsha vibe. This stomach typing is killing my back anyway.  Must move to a chair.  Anyway, that’s my message, and Devil Baby is my ticket to paradise because I’m going to get rich when people figure out that I know the secret to potty training . . . it has worked for me . . . THRICE . And if you try my simple (and fun) techniques, it will work for you too.

What I haven’t figured out is how to keep my kids from engaging in risky behavior.  Even that seemingly innocuous camp trick where you bent over and took ten huge breaths then someone pretty much choked you against a wall until you passed out is SO FUCKING DANGEROUS!!!  Kids have DIED doing that!  We did it all the time at Black River Farm and Ranch, a girl’s horse camp in Michigan – we’d eat Doritos and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, clean the dust off our faces with cotton balls soaked in Sea Breeze, paint our nails with glitter polish and strangle each other for fun!  You felt like you were gone for hours, when really it was just a few seconds of eye rolling and twitching.  Oh. God.  I can’t believe I’m not dead.  Nothing like letting another twelve year old decide how long to deprive you of oxygen. 

My guys are little – the risky stuff hasn’t even begun yet.  But if it takes one to know one, I’m going to say that Supergirl is going to be a little speed freak, a devilish risk taker.  We put her on a kneeboard when she was three and her face when she climbed back into the boat took my breath away.  There were sparks flying out of her eyes.  Literally, she was electric – buzzing from the adrenalin, the noise, the water, thespeed.  This is the kind of kid who will drive very fast, who will try to outrun the cops, who will think herself invincible, who will run around downtown Detroit at night giggling and screaming with her little girlfriends in bermudas and madras miniskirts . . . oh wait, that was me.  

I need a secret, a ticket to her safety . . . some trick . . . a prayer, some voodoo, some mojo . . . a miracle . . . or maybe . . . just a little luck. 

Jun 11 2008


Monti2Devil Baby turns two today, which she indicates with a little “nanu nanu” gesture, holding up all five of her chubby fingers and trying with all her might to get two to stick out of the pack. 

It has been a wild ride with this little girl, pretty much since conception.  Devil Baby is one-half of a heterotopic pregnancy, a rare occurrence where you have two fertilized eggs, one of which never makes it down the tube, causing an ectopic pregnancy alongside the viable uterine pregnancy.  In short, she should have been twins.  Without dredging up a lot of difficult details, suffice it to say that it took a long time to figure out that I had a ruptured ectopic seven weeks into my pregnancy.  In the meantime, half of my blood volume ended up swishing around in my abdomen before I was rushed in for emergency surgery.  I had so much blood where it wasn’t supposed to be, that I couldn’t breathe and I remember being thankful, through my delirious, suffocating, panic, to be knocked out for surgery.  We were told that it was likely I would miscarry my other pregnancy, but, honestly, I was just happy to be alive, to be around for Saint James, Supergirl and Dash.  I found it surprisingly easy to shelve all thoughts of the baby growing inside me, to focus my energy on healing and gratitude.  I felt stupid and selfish and greedy for having risked my life for a third when we had more than enough – two beautiful, healthy children.  My responsibility was to them.  That morning we had gone to a farm with a petting zoo.  There were pictures on my camera.  For Saint James and Supergirl, those came breathtakingly close to being the last pictures of life as they knew it.

But as the weeks passed, the baby just kept on keeping on  and soon I went from a high risk pregnancy to a run of the mill, take a number pregnancy.  Happily.  We started to talk about the baby again with the kids, to imagine the possibilities. We called her Little Trooper.

When Little Trooper was born on June 11, 2006, she looked just like Saint James, partially due to the fact that they were both born looking as if they had gone a few rounds in the boxing ring.  But she was perfect and healthy and we all breathed a sigh of relief.  For a little while, anyway.

As the first few days slipped by, it began to dawn on me that she and I hadn’t shared that moment I remembered with my others: the moment when she was supposed to look into my eyes so we could say hello and drink each other in.  Her eyes were pretty swollen, but I started to get this nagging feeling that maybe she was blind – that maybe she wasn’t opening her eyes, because there was nothing to see.  I hadn’t completely shaken the scare from early on, postpartum is a completely irrational time anyway, and, well, she really wasn’t opening her eyes!  She would lift her heavy, bobbing head and seemingly look around, her eyes shut like a kitten’s.  I began to wonder if her eyes really were fused shut like a kitten’s – should I lick them?  It started to freak me out, and then I made the mistake of telling my mother and then she started to freak out, which really freaked me out because she’s a pediatrician. Doctor Dash had gone out to play tennis with my brother and returned to find us in a state of hysteria, crying and running around, shining a flashlight in her eyes – the top pediatric opthomologist at my dad’s hospital having been secured for an emergency visit at 8:00 a.m. the next morning. 

I have never prayed so hard in my life.  Please don’t let her be blind. Please don’t let her be blind.  Please don’t let her be blind.

Doctor Dash calmly took Little Trooper away from us, sat down on the couch, propped her up on his legs and tried to see if her eyes moved along to the light of the flashlight behind her puffy, gossamer eyelids.  They did.  And so the appointment was cancelled and relative calm was restored.

But Little Trooper wasn’t finished with us yet.  She cried.  And she cried.  And then she cried some more and pretty much didn’t stop until she was six months old.  And then she was better for a month.  And then she screamed for the next five months.  She was colicky with a capital C, only I never let myself go there, never let myself label her, because what would that solve?  The beauty of this having happened with my third is that I knew it wasn’t me – clearly, it was her.  But the ugly flip side is that I blamed my baby, and that felt much, much worse than blaming myself.  When you’re that strung out and exhausted, there is nothing to do but slide into survival mode.  Poor little Supergirl had to grow up quickity-quick and learn to help herself because Little Trooper, fast becoming Devil Baby, had me crawling on my hands and knees, begging for mercy.  

As she’s grown, things have gotten better, but mostly, she manages to find new ways to send me to the brink.  Example: for us, bath time had always been a bit of a treat, a relaxing little respite where my kids could splash and play with toys and I could sit next to the tub for a few moments of rest.  Unfortunately something about that warm water seemed to get Devil Baby’s little anus all atwitter and she would poop in the tub with crushing regularity. Seriously, four out of five times. Suddenly bath time wasn’t so peaceful.  Supergirl would scream and lurch out of the tub, sending poopy water spraying everywhere and I’d end up having to get everyone cleaned up in the sink and spend the next half hour and disinfecting the tub and all the bath toys.  I eventually learned my lesson and began pulling Devil Baby out as soon as she was clean.  But every once in a while she was having so much fun, and being so calm and quiet and smiley that I’d linger for just a moment too long . . .  

And now Devil Baby is two and she’s terribly challenging, but so very funny.  She throws her weight around like a hockey goon to get what she wants.  She is stubborn and defiant and LOUD.  Lately she has taken to yelling HELP! HELP! HELP! when I’m carrying her kicking and screaming out of Target, the pool or any other place she’s not ready to leave.  Then she starts yelling WOAH! WOAH! WOOOAH! like I’m whipping her around or something.  (I swear to you, I’m not.)   She is going to get me arrested.

I remind myself regularly that she is a GIFT!  We almost didn’t get to have her!  Without her my life would undoubtedly be easier, but so much less interesting.  She has sent me to depths of rage and exhaustion and exasperation heretofore unknown to me.  I feel like we’re in the trenches together, walking through fire, so that I can keep her safe, help her grow up and teach her to be her best self.  

She is such a presence in our family, such a HUGE personality.  Our baby cannon-balled into our lives, grabbed us by the scruff of our necks and claimed us as hers.  She didn’t meld into our family; we molded to her.  None of us is the same.  Especially me.  She has pushed me into totally foreign territory even though I thought I had done it all, seen it all.  

Lately I get the feeling that she is starting to figure out that we are all putty in the face of her charms and humor.  She is extra funny (probably because she is extra naughty) and when we’re all sitting around the dinner table laughing at something she is doing, I can see a little shimmer of understanding forming as she belly laughs, looking from one smiling face to another.  In the coming months and years, as her little animal instincts begin to be tamed and pushed aside by her higher faculties, I suspect we may be in for some highly entertaining times.  

So happy birthday to my wonderful, exhausting, hilarious, Devil Baby.  I look forward to rechristening you on this blog sometime soon . . . but we’re not there yet.  I love you.

Jun 10 2008

Meet my new friend, Señor Patron.

shapeimage_2-3_4Revolution.  Fashion.  Scientific discovery.  Tequila.  Sometimes there occurs a confluence of forces that, individually, would amount to nothing, but collectively, bring about a shift in energy, thinking, history . . .  This is how, as a species, we end up beheading Marie Antionette, discovering the cause and cure for cholera, and determining that ponchos are acceptable outerwear even if you aren’t wrangling cattle on the Argentine Pampas.  

The stars seemed to have aligned themselves, and due to a series of unrelated events, tequila and I have gotten reacquainted.  Our little rapprochement started when I went to Chicago in April to meet up with my college housemates for a long overdue reunion.  We had bonded our freshman year at Notre Dame because we all shared an aversion to hugging our dorm mates at Sunday night mass where everyone showed up in their flannel jammies and fuzzy slippers.  It really was incredibly lame.  As soon as we could, we moved off campus to a decrepit but lovely blue house on St. Peter’s Street that was so dusty and mold ridden that I had to go home for a weekend at the beginning of the school year so two of our guy friends could rip the carpet out of my bedroom and I could get fresh prescriptions for asthma medication.  In retrospect, it could have been the pot and cigarette smoke making my lungs itch, but whatever – that carpet was nasty anyway.  

The five of us hadn’t all been together in the same room for far too long because of busy lives, babies, etc.  But as it goes with old friends, the ease and chatter and laughter from our days on St. Peter’s Street translated with complete immediacy to the hotel suite in Lincoln Park where we set up camp for the weekend.  We talked about everything and nothing, noshed on yummies both in the room and out on the town, shopped, drank, smoked, laughed our asses off  and had an all around rockin’, rollicking, hilarious time.  It was sooooo good for my soul.

On our second night we ended up at Heather’s friend’s bar called Feed the Beast (genius name for a bar).  We decided to do a shot of tequila and her friend, the adorable proprietor set us up with perfect, icy shaken shots of Patrón.  No salt necessary.  It was a crazy night and the thing I remember with most clarity is Heather (who is a wonderful, responsible, pie-baking, jambalaya-making mother of three and not at all some crazy mo-fo) telling a couple of guys she knew from home that we girls had discovered the perfect going out combination in college: a tequila shot and a bong hit.  Heathie is very pretty and demure and she was describing our little ritual in her typical storytelling, singsong voice – she could have been reminiscing about her sister’s wedding or sharing a recipe for potato salad.  She was totally cracking me up with her cute lipstick and her whole far fetched explanation . . . tequila and bong hits, it’s the perfect combo, cuz you’re super mellow but SUUUUPER FESTIVE! 

So these guys were eating this up, though surely a bit befuddled and wondering do our wives act like this when they see their college friends Moreover, I simply cannot believe I had forgotten that!  Tequila and bong hits are indeed the perfect springboard for a fun night out with friends!!!

So then fast forward a couple weeks to our church fundraiser, which, in keeping with the fine Catholic tradition of drinking to excess in order to loosen the pursestrings, was a really amusing fest.  My friend Gigi the Animal Whisperer and Neighborhood Scat Expert was singing as part of the entertainment and had brought along a little liquid courage: her longtime friend Señor Patrón – not that she needed it, because she’s an amazing singer and rocks Bonnie Raitt like nobody’s business.  At one point she lassoed me into the ladies room to do a shot with her, and once again, I had this moment of hilarity watching her pull out this little tupperware of perfectly cut limes, surely the same tupperware that had held her last batch of chocolate chip cookies, or vegetable soup or whatever.  Even when doing shots in the ladies room at a church function, she’s still such a MOM!  Gigi swears that good tequila does not make you hungover, and since this lady is wise about many things, who am I to doubt?  I decided to give it a whirl . . . 

Then my little brother comes to town and we decide to make crazy delicious burgers with the ground beef we had gotten from our third of a quarter of a grass-fed cow.  We went nuts with the gorgonzola and bacon and fried onions and made a little asian coleslaw for the side.  Delectable.  My brother juiced about a thousand limes (no margarita mix here!) and he made us some scrumptiously fresh and mouth puckering margaritas while we cooked . . . Again Señor Patrón was in the house for the festivities . . .

And then my friend Nanook of the North and her hubby had us over for a little Cinqo de Mayo bbq where we did a shot of Patrón, chopped and chatted and before we knew it ended up with a toothsome feast of carne asada, guacamole with chipotle and roasted corn, and jicama salad with jalapeño lime vinaigrette.  Nanook had had the foresight to prepare a little simple syrup and we made pineapple jalapeño margaritas.  Fantastico!  Sweet and tart with a hot kick in the caboose.  And then we played Rock Band until way past everyone’s bed time while our kids ran around with big cans of Sprite.  Tots Gone Wild: It was like spring break in Daytona Beach for my guys, though they stopped short of crushing the Sprite cans on their foreheads.

And finally, last Saturday night we were invited to a margarita party of all things, where our gracious hosts served pomegranate and traditional margaritas like they were going out of style, along with a gorgeous spread of fantastic Mexican deliciousness.  The margaritas were flowing like the Rio Grande and the poor piñata ended up being doused in gasoline and immolated.  As a master at imagining calamity, I stood with my hands covering my eyes just waiting for the garage to catch fire.  Luckily the piñata manufacturers have figured out a way to minimize the combustibility of their product and the poor donkey eventually sputtered out – a smoking, sizzling, blackened husk.  We were dancing up a storm on the back porch and someone, I won’t name names, was using the patio umbrella like a stripper pole.  O.K., it was Crackerjack.  We ended up collapsing into a rousing rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody and getting busted by some cops who claim to have heard us from inside their squad car down the street.  And for all our wild carousing, I felt pretty darn good the next day.  Just a tad sleepy.

That said, I think I’ll be taking a little break.  Nanook got me a bottle of Patrón Silver from Costco (remember, I can’t go to that place), but Señor will be waiting in the wings for a bit. He’ll be squinting out at the horizon, twirling his mustache and strumming his guitar, striking a match on his boot to light a cigarette . . . and when he hears the distant strains of  mariachi music beckoning him, he will stand, straighten his bolero, crush his cigarette in the dusty road, hop on his trusty steed, El Lobo, and join us for the revelry.

Now if we could only track down Cheech.  

Jun 8 2008

I could be a foot model.

footDoctor Dash is going to get all persnickity and flustered when he reads this.  It’ll ruffle his feathers and get his undies in a bunch.  It’s one of the things that I say that annoys him.  If ever we are watching TV with our legs stretched on the coffee table in front of us and I sigh and wiggle my freshly painted toes and start in with “I really do have nice feet . . .” he’ll roll his eyes and do his best to disavow me of my illusions by making snarky comments intended to erode my foot-confidence.  It’s like he’s trying to protect me from myself, to shelter me from the inevitable disappointment I will suffer when I enter the Ms. Minnesota Foot Pageant and don’t take home the crown, or toe ring or whatever the prize is.  He doesn’t want me to find an agent, or get my feet insured.  He says my feet aren’t all that

Well, he needn’t bother with the squelching, because I know I have nice feet.  They are big.  But they are pretty.  And as far as I’m concerned, their only flaw is that they’re flat, which explains why they are so big.  If I had a decent arch, I would be a size 9 instead of a size 10. Furthermore, my large dogs are very good for swimming and keeping me firmly planted on the earth on extremely windy days.  

My feet: big, pretty and useful, like a corn-fed farm girl from America’s heartland.  

And I don’t even get pedicures!!! My feet are natural beauties.  Imagine what we could accomplish if I let a professional buff and massage and primp and polish!  I think there could be serious income involved.  But I live with a man who is not supportive of my dreams (and also, I’m kinda cheap and would rather spend seventy bucks on a cute t-shirt than a pedicure), and so my feet are stuck in the small times, cooling their heels in this two-bit-good-for-nothing-but-dashed-dreams-town.

A few years back I read a great article in the New Yorker about a guy who was hellbent on making shoes out of natural materials that simulated walking barefoot.  He used grass and mud and animal skins.  I love crazy fuckers that get obsessed with stuff like this.  Anyway, I devoured the article with relish, because in addition to having nice feet, I  like to walk around barefoot (unless I’m in a wet and potentially hairy environment like a locker room).  The author described three foot types, which, if I remember correctly were as follows:  The Greek Foot is the kind where the second toe is longer than the big toe.  We all know people with this affliction, in fact, it even runs in my family.  My mother and, I believe, all of my siblings have the snaggle toe and it ain’t pretty.  My feet are nothing short of miraculous having emerged from that genetic stew of pedal malformations.  The second type is the Egyptian Foot where the first toe is long and the others taper down in an aesthetically pleasing way.  This would be me.  The third type of foot is the Peasant Foot which is a thick, blocky foot where all the toes go straight across.  Like Fred Flintstone.  Or peasants.  Not as ugly as the Greek Foot, but nothing you need to be seeing in your glossy fashion magazine.

Doctor Dash has Peasant Feet.  French Canadian Peasant Feet, to be specific.  To add injury to the insult of his charmless squared off toes, he has a propensity for maiming them by wearing ill fitting shoes for stop and start sports.  He’s on his third round of losing his big toenails, which is always a long, dramatic ordeal punctuated with lots of moaning and discussion, amateur self-performed podiatric care, and photographic documentation (seriously, we have lots of pictures of Dash’s nasty, oozing, about-to-fall-off toenails)

So, I think that what we have here is a simple case of jealousy.  My feet lead a charmed life.  It’s just so easy to be my feet and though my feet are humble, they do like to prance around naked, which can’t be easy for the broken and downtrodden French Canadian Peasants.  Maybe I need to be a little more magnanimous and cover up once in a while . . . wear some socks when we’re watching TV so the Peasants don’t get so ornery.  Charity begins at home, after all.

O.K., I know the toes pictured below look Egyptian, but it’s because Doctor Dash has shrewdly tilted his pinky toes away from the camera giving the illusion of his toes tapering down.  The shot of my foot at the top of the page is a candid from a few years ago . . . very au natural and unrehearsed.dave'sfoot


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