Feb 18 2009

The artist formerly known as Devil Baby.


It is with a bit of trepidation that I sit down to write this post. I’m a superstitious gal (it’s the Latina in me), and I feel like the second I type these words, I’m going to regret it with a vengeance as deep and sweeping as a curse tumbling from the wrinkled lips of a bruja. But fair is fair and I once wrote that I would rechristen Devil Baby should there ever be sufficient change in, um, personality to warrant it. So here it goes. 

dsc_0496Devil Baby has turned a corner. She is no longer the pushy, demanding, chronic malcontent she has been since birth. She is slowly emerging from her role as the squeaky wheel who hogs all the grease and taking her position as the funny baby who’s all about keeping up, hanging out, fitting in and making us laugh. She is finally acting like those affable third born clowns I have heard so much about. And she washes windows!

Not coincidentally her language is exploding and she’s all about sprinkling her sentences with very grown up sounding “wells” and “actuallys.” She is dredging up old stories and recounting them as if she’s been holding them in her little brain for all these months just waiting to find the words with which to let them out. The other day she asked me if I remembered the bird in our house who missed his mommy and we tried to catch him with the yellow glove and he was so scared when we were screaming. I stopped chopping, turned around and there she was – a pint sized apparition in my kitchen telling me about something I had completely forgotten about with her little hand splayed out in a gesture. When we moved into this house there was a bird in the basement which, of course, caused a total commotion and yes, I did try to grab him with a rubber glove on my hand, but the first hint of disgusting birdish wing fluttering made me wretch and I ran away shrieking.

When I told Doctor Dash about it he marveled: she’s been waiting all this time to talk about it!

Aack! Brain flood! Not to put too fine a point on it, but again with the power of words! What a relief it must be to be heard and more importantly, to be understood. What a relief to be able to communicate more than the bare necessities. What a relief to be able to tell us something and have us react in a true and genuine way to her content, to her actual message. What a relief to be done with the baby bullshit where we try to appease her with a sing song repetition of what she just said or our pathetic attempts to hone in on what she wants by trial and error - What was that? You want fruit? Shoes? You want fruit chews? Fruit loops? Hoops? Shoes? You want your shoes? Croup? Hoop? Hula Hoop? My God. Talk about torture.

Maybe she’s just one of those people who needs to communicate, to tell her stories, to spread her happiness and her angst like seeds in a field. Maybe she’s constitutionally unable to hold anything in, to hold anything back. Maybe she needs to out put. And maybe she’s one of those people who doesn’t have a high tolerance for frustration or loneliness. Maybe now that she can be heard and understood, she’s feeling a little better about life. Ohhhhhkaaaay. This is sounding a bit close to home. I’m typing really slow, sort of wondering, why the hell it took me so long to have this revelation. What a fool I have been. Poor Devil Baby. All this time. All this time she was standing on the sidewalk, her nose pressed to the glass, staring at all those beautiful, colorful, delicious words. Hungry for expression. Hungry for connection.

So, Devil Baby is hereby renamed Angel Baby for purposes of this blog. I realize it is a bit of stretch, even for the new and improved Devil Baby, but there’s a nice symmetry to it.  Also, it will be easy to go back should this turn out to be nothing more than a fluke, a brief and fortuitous bout of tranquility. Angel Baby is never going to be totally easy going. She’s always going to be headstrong and demanding – she’s a girl who knows her mind – but at least now she can be happy. 

And now that Angel Baby can be happy, we can be happy.

Feb 16 2009

The secret life of candy.


I was picking through the wreckage of boots, school papers, backpacks, lone socks, disemboweled lunch boxes and half-way inside-out snow pants strewn across the floor of the mud room when I stumbled upon something. I found some crumpled up candy wrappers stuffed into one of the cubbies.Laffy Taffy. I’m no candy Nazi. I don’t particularly like candy for the most part, so I don’t carry around a lot of angst about it. There’s no love/hate, forbidden fruitness to it for me. Which is a round about way of saying that I let my kids eat candy in moderation pretty much whenever it happens to be around, which is not always, but sometimes. I don’t know. I just don’t think about it that much.  As long as we have no cavities, I’m cool.

What I do know is that the lime green Laffy Taffy wrapper signaled the dawn of a new era in our house: the secret life of candy. 

For a long time, I knew exactly what candy my kids were eating because it all came from me, or at least, through me. I either bought it, doled it out, saw it as we read through Valentines, or knew it came out of their Halloween pillow cases. As I turned the crinkly wrapper over in my hand I realized I couldn’t answer the simplest of questions: whose was this and how did they get it? When did they eat it and why didn’t they ask me? As sure as the wrapper was peeled off that candy, my kids are peeling off of me.

My older guys are out in the world. They’re gone at school all day, leading entire lives I know very little about. They’re on the bus, on the playground, in the halls - working it. Navigating, negotiating, hustling, trading, bluffing, posturing, lying, stealing.* Do you remember being a kid? You work hard for your money! It’s not easy. It’s not pretty. It’s a dog eat dog world, even for kids. Especially for kids, who are very early on in the journey of evolving from rude and selfish little brutes into compassionate and complete human beings. Kids are mean, man. 

Whose candy was this and how did they get it? A bet? A dare? How?

On the other hand, childhood isn’t necessarily something that unfolds with the Rocky soundtrack soaring in the background. It isn’t necessarily an after-school special from the seventies. It’s not all fisticuffs and pecking order – jeering and bullies. There is also plenty of sweetness and light and maybe some kid simply pulled the Laffy Taffy out of his coat pocket and gave it to Supergirl because they’re friends or he wants to be her friend. Maybe Saint James got it from his teacher for good behavior. Maybe he traded his Granola Bites at lunch. Who knows? The point is, I don’t. 

The secret life of candy. The candy is beside the point (at least until the candy becomes something really naughty like cigarettes or booze). The point is the secret life – countless glances, exchanges, high fives, jokes, giggles, stories, shoulder buts, rivalries, embarrassments and slights to which I have not been privy. Saint James and Supergirl are out there fending for themselves, figuring out who they are and how they want to walk through this world and not only am I not helping them with it, I’m not even seeing it. Could it be true that I have given them most of what I will need to give them by the age of five? 

So Saint James and Supergirl eat a little candy I don’t know about from time to time. No biggie. But soon they will be those high school kids at Dairy Queen, eating whole meals I won’t know about. And there will be mothers with little kids eating nearby, sneaking shy peeks at them while they jostle and flirt and refill their Cokes and text and twirl their hair and drum their fingers on the tables and laugh and share ear buds and go about their lives – quite apart from their mothers.  

Soon, that will be them. I’ve got the proof stuffed in my jeans pocket.

*I sincerely hope not lying and stealing and I sincerely believe not lying and stealing, but I would not bet my favorite pair of boots on not lying and stealing because, well, if you see a roll of Smarties fall out of a seventh grader’s pocket and you pick it up, is it really stealing?

Feb 11 2009

What kind of mama?


shapeimage_2_4So often it feels like we don’t get to pick what kind of mama we want to be. The way we mother feels like an extension of who we are and that’s about as easy to change as the ebb and flow of the tides. Not that we don’t try. I’m constantly beating myself up, vowing to do this or that differently, falling down, trying again – all of it laced in mother guilt. My mantra: every day is a new day. And sure enough, every day is a new day. Usually, I wake up with tons of energy (post coffee), the well has been mysteriously filled in the dark hours of the night and my children’s soft and sleepy faces are all I need to know I am doing exactly what I should be doing. As the day wears on, however, shit happens and sometimes – often – I end up really far away from my blissful start. And so I begin again. And again. 

On Sunday I had one of those weird “what should I do?” moments that brought my role as a mother into hyper-focus.  I very consciously got to choose how I was going to act, and it was a tad odd, if empowering. I had taken the kids ice skating and since I thought they would just be messing around, I didn’t make them wear their hockey helmets. Before long, Saint James sidled his way into a pick-up game with some boys and their dads: Edina’s finest. I could tell he was jazzed and stretching way beyond his normal level of play. The dads and older boys weren’t wearing helmets, but the kids that looked to be Saint James’ age all were. I grabbed his helmet, picked my way across the ice and called him over. He took one look at the helmet, said he didn’t want to wear it and skated away, chasing the action. I stood for a few seconds holding the helmet in front of me like an offering. 

I could walk away. I could bark after him and force him to put it on. By skating away from me, Saint James had closed the door on my attempt to give him his helmet under the radar screen. Right now – in this moment – what kind of a mother was I going to be?  

I opened my mouth. I closed my mouth. I sighed and walked away. 

He didn’t bully me. I didn’t give in to him. In that moment, I made a choice. A choice between letting my son skate around with his balls intact or grabbing him by those same balls and bending him to my will. I chose not to be the overbearing overprotective mother, knowing full well that if he got hurt, the pain would be uniquely and exquisitely mine.  I thought of his eyes and teeth, exposed to all matter of hard things and sharp edges. I thought of his delicate temples, protected by nothing more than the thin layer of a wool ski hat. I thought of all that is already in his beautiful brain – all that is yet to come.

Why did I walk away like a rejected suitor holding a droopy bouquet? Why did I accept Saint James’ petulant decision and spend the next hour feeling slightly queasy, when it would have been nothing for him to have indulged me and put it on? I don’t know. I guess I can imagine being a boy on the ice with a bunch of better hockey players. And I know – I just know that my voice scraping across that ice would have sounded shrill and unwelcome. No matter how hard I tried to seem casual and cool – no matter how many “buddies” I threw into my cajoling sentences, his cheeks would have burned in the cold air. I chose to let him be. I won’t always make that choice, but in that moment, it just seemed right. Wrong for me. But right for him. So I held my breath, my heart in my throat, until he skated off the ice his face lit with pride, right into my arms.

Feb 9 2009

Something Amiss?



Perhaps there is something amiss when your son’s croak from the way back of the minivan is barely audible over the music: Mom, I just can’t listen to so much rap in the morning.

Perhaps there is something amiss when your morning goodbye to your kids concludes with a cheery: And try not to get lice!

I’ll tell you one thing that was not amiss, however, and it was M.I.A. rocking the Grammy’s last night with her gigantic full term belly. She was out there with T.I., Kanye, Jay Z, and Lil’ Wayne thumpin’ Swagger Like Us like nobody’s business (love this song, love this girl, love her original Paper Planes). I just wish she’d checked with me before busting out in that polka-dotted, sheer black body suit. M.I.A. can do no wrong in my book – she is so bad ass that, honestly, she can (and does) get away with anything. But the gigantic black polka-dots translated as more Minnie Mouse than Tamil Tiger and it really, really wasn’t working for me – notwithstanding the fact that she put her beautiful belly front and center (which I fully applaud). 

If I was M.I.A. (believe you me, this would not be the first time one of my reveries began with those words).  So, if I was M.I.A. I would have worn a beautiful bejeweled bra with lots of structure and support for my pendulous pregnancy breasts. Nothing tacky, no fake pasties, just really really blingy – in gold. I would have worn a flowy, slightly sheer matching sarong, slung way low under my belly. The sarong would be to the floor but you would definitely see a little leg. No shoes, lots of bangles. My hair would be the same – perfectly disheveled – a few sandy salty days away from dreads – and heck, I’d even keep the black Wayfarers. And lastly, I’d borrow Gwen Stefani’s fanciest bindi and stick it to my outie belly button.  If I was feeling less exotic and more street, I’d do a tiny white tank, cut off right above my belly, low low low rider baggy jeans and some cool body paint/graffiti action on my belly. You feel me? 

M.I.A. if you need me, I’m right here, in Minneapolis, Minnesota – at the ready to be your stylist. I can be your Rachel Zoe. You got some balls, lady and I love you for that. I totally get that you aren’t about being glamorous and fitting into anyone’s idea of what a woman should be and that’s what makes you so freaking fabulous. Still, polka dots (even ironic polka dots) are a killer.

Feb 8 2009

No where to run.

images-1This morning found me in the kitchen making crèpes for the kids, which is slightly labor intensive in that you can only make one at a time unless you go crazy like the Swedish Chef on the Muppets and start in with two, maybe three separate frantic pans. As I was flipping crèpe after deformed crèpe, I heard Saint James and Supergirl singing in the dining room.  It went a little something like this:

We need fun,

We got nowhere to run.

This ain’t fun,

We got nowhere to run.

We need fun,

We got nowhere to run. etc., etc.

The child of the seventies in me thought - Wow, that sounds like something that would be great in a newly released Annie musical – a modernized version of  It’s a Hard Knock Life! ? Budding Andrew Lloyd Webbers?

The gold roped, diamond grilled, bling-ditty-bling-bling hip hop producer in me thought - Damn, chil’ren, that hook’s off the heezy, gots ta make it eazy, fo ya sweet mama peezy. A little like this.

And the mother in me, the mother who has basically dedicated her life to making their lives “fun,” thought - You pint size fuckers! What more fun could you possibly handle in your chocked-full-o’-sports-and-activities little lives? Saint James, sometimes you go from hockey to soccer to skiing all in one day. And who’s driving your skinny, fun lovin’ little ass? Right. Me. And Doctor Dash. When I was your age I barely did any activities. And my parents took me to see Reds – with Warren Beatty.  Do you have any idea how boring that movie was? And how long it was? It was so long it had an intermission! And they made me go and sit through it – and did my mother think to bring me something to draw on? Of course not. Her purse had TicTacs and cigarettes in it – not crayons and markers and squishy balls and little plastic animals and playdough. It was not a treasure trove of fun – in fact, we weren’t even allowed to touch her purse! And now, in the cruelest of ironies, I’m getting it on the other end with the boring movies when I have to sit through Alvin and the Chipmunks (hell) and Hotel for Dogs (purgatory). Good luck, my malcontented spawn, finding parents as “fun” as us! Actually, this is the land of milk and honey when it comes to nice families, so you just may be able to find other fun parents. But be careful what you wish for, you ankle-biting ingrates! Your new fun parents may make you bathe way more than we do, eat many more vegetables than we do, do many more chores than we do – and they may be more into board games (read: bored games) than dance parties, and then you will be singing a different tune altogether. Quite. A different. Tune.


Fo shizzle ma nizzle. Lock it down, little chumps.

I gots ta admit – I feel y’all. Y’all real y’all.

Oh fa-show.  I need some fun, I got nowhere to run.

Yo, mama needs some fun – she gots nowhere to run.

Feb 6 2009

The kindness of strangers



Today I did a very stupid thing. I came out of yoga with Devil Baby, strapped her in her car seat and pulled a u-ey on 44th. It must have been a combination of dehydration and blissed-outness, but I took my turn too wide and somehow ended up completely wedging my minivan on a giant roadside ice floe. Fuck. Fuck. Fuckfuckfuckfuck! As I tried to reverse, my wheels spun in the air. 

I had a flashback to college when I did the very same thing to my parents’ enormous silver gray pleasure cruiser van. That time it was the two passenger side wheels that were left dangling in the air. This is family folklore, never failing to get everyone chuckling and snorting at my stupidity. She calls me on the phone, tells me she’s stuck in the snow, so I come to pull her out and there’s my van, tipped! my dad shrieks, keening to one side to illustrate, tears streaming down his cheeks. Two wheels in the air! And there is no snow – no snow – anywhere! No where!  Ha ha ha ha. 

It is true that I managed to lodge the van on top of the only chunk of ice in sight, but, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, if you stop to think about, this actually cuts in my favor. I now call myself to the witness stand.

Me: On the night of whatever night that was when you were home from college, did you or did you not take your parents’ silver gray pleasure cruiser van to the local supermarket?

Me: Yes I did.

Me: And were you alone?

Me: No, my younger brother, Mario, was with me.

Me: And why did you take your parents’ silver gray pleasure cruiser van to the supermarket that night with your younger brother, Mario?

Me: I wanted to buy chocolate chips, so I could make chocolate chip cookies for a boy I liked at school.

Me: And what did you find when you arrived at the supermarket?

Me: A&P was closed.

Me: Did you park the silver gray pleasure cruiser van to ascertain that the supermarket was closed or did you do a drive by?

Me: I parked.

Me: After you parked, what did you do?

Me: I got out of the van and walked up to the doors even though I could kind of tell it was closed, and then I jiggled the doors to make sure and then I realized it was really closed.

Me: And what was your brother, Mario, doing at this time?

Me: I can’t recall.

Me: How would you describe your state of mind when you reentered the silver gray pleasure cruiser van?

Me: I was upset. I really wanted to make cookies for Roy.

Me: Did you look around you at that time?

Me: I can’t recall.

Me: Do you remember seeing any snow?

Me: No.

Me: Do you remember seeing any icebergs?

Me: No.

Me: Do you remember seeing any large masses whatsoever?

Me: No.

Me: What happened then?

Me: Well, I probably complained to my little brother about the supermarket being closed. Maybe I even cried a little tiny bit. For sure I was mad. I might have said shit shit shit. Then I threw the car into drive and . . .

Me: Thank you, that will be all. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I think you’ve heard all you need to exculpate this young woman from the shame of having implanted her parents’ silver gray pleasure cruiser van atop a rogue iceberg secretly lurking in front of the vehicle. Surely, she could not have been expected to remember having parked behind an iceberg, when the anticipation of making chocolate chip cookies for a boy she liked at college was so cruelly dashed by her disappointment at finding the A&P closed for the night. 

And ask yourselves, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, who was really more stupid in this scenario? The girl who was in-like, who was the hapless victim of a bit of a lead foot and a shameful, furtive, iceberg? Or her parents, who showed up “to the rescue” with nothing more than a shovel and the family Golden Retriever’s red leash. Yes, my good people. You heard right. They looped Ginger’s leash onto the bumper of their SUV and the bumper of the silver gray pleasure cruiser van and attempted to pull it off the iceberg. You can imagine how that worked out.

I rest my case. 

But today was different. Today I was stupid with a capital S. Like Goldie Hawn acting her stupidest in the stupidest of her stupid movies. Having some experience in the matter of impaling my car on ice, I suspected I might be in a bit of a pickle. I threw some snacks at Devil Baby, grabbed the ice scraper, jumped out of the car and kneeled to survey the situation. Oh man, I was stuck – really really stuck, on an angry, immutable chunk of ice. I knew I needed to chip away at the ice to free myself, so I went at it. Like a fury. A few women from yoga came out and found me in my yoga pants and pink legwarmers revisiting child’s pose with the addition of violent sideways ice chipping. And bless their hearts, they wouldn’t leave. They made me get in the car while they pushed with all their little post-yoga might. One woman brought me some cat litter and sprinkled it under the wheels. I tried to protest that what I really needed to do was just – keep – chipping – off- arrgh – that – chunk. 

A sexy older cowboy pulled up in his pick up truck and sauntered over with a shovel full of sand, like he does this everyday – multiple times a day. Noblesse oblige. My yoga teacher, Annie, flirted with him a little bit. I thanked him and said something about his hat and that really, I just needed to get the chassis off the ice, making a mental note to look up the word chassis because here I was throwing it around like I knew what I was talking about, when really, I quite did not. The cowboy tipped his hat up and said, Honey, you’ll never dig yourself outta this one.

I pressed everyone to leave – this was my problem and I would get out of it. It was a mercifully warm day and the exertion of my frantic chipping soon had me shedding my coat. Eventually, my knees started screaming, reminding me I was kneeling in snow, so I pulled a floor mat out of the car to kneel on and kept chipping away. One woman, Kate, insisted on calling AAA for me. I tried to resist, I didn’t want her to have to wait around. Let me call, she said. If I leave, you’re screwed, she didn’t say. She called and went to her car to wait.  

As I kept on chipping, two older men pulled over to help me out, and unlike the cowboy, they got on their knees to assess the situation.  We’ll pick up the car, they said. Oh God, it’s so big, I thought. Let’s try. So they tried and I made them stop because I was seeing too many bulging neck veins through my dirty windshield. I knew I could get it if I just kept chipping, but they didn’t think so. I told them AAA was on its way, thanked them and got back onto my knees. For a nanosecond, I thought about calling a friend to pick me up and leaving the whole bloody mess for Doctor Dash to deal with, but that just seemed unfair. My poor father is one thing. My poor husband, another. Have I grown up at all in these last twenty years?

Shame and necessity give you strength and I chipped and chopped and scraped and dug with a vengeance. I was spitting and swearing – my big cheap rhinestone studded sunglasses slipped down my nose and my pony tail came loose. I was covered in ice and side-of-the-road grime, my knees soaked to the bone, but I eventually got through that shit bastard hunk of ice. 

Everyone had poo-pooed me, but I knew I was free. I got in my car and rocked and rolled and rocked and rolled and after a few good rocks, Kate the Angel ran over cheering to help push and another random guy in a white sweatshirt  jumped in too.  One more rock and roll and I was out, baby!  We called off AAA, chuckled at the big black plastic piece of something hanging down from the bottom of my minivan, and said our goodbyes. 

Thank you cowboy, old dudes, cat litter woman, random white sweatshirt guy, Annie, and mostly Kate – for sticking around. You all tried to help in your own ways.  And where would we be without the kindness of strangers? Not anywhere I’d want to live.

But in the end, sometimes, you just gotta chip yourself out.

Feb 4 2009

Rest in Peace, Ricardo.

Ah, Ricardo. I was indeed saddened to hear of your passing.  You will be missed by multitudes – by me. You bring me back, Ric . . . may I call you Ric?  Ric, seeing your handsome Mexican aristocratic features brings me back to a more innocent time. To my girlhood, Ric.  How peculiar that you, a gentleman old enough to be my the older brother of my father, should feel so inextricably woven with my youth – those tender years when I wiled away the hours watching TV on my belly on a musty brown shag rug in the basement of a split level suburban Detroit home. Your prominent and distinguished eyebrows, so reminiscent of my own at the time, bring back a flood of memories as softly contoured and rosy-hued as one of your fantasy sequences where you doled out wishes and life lessons with such knowing benevolence from your tropical pleasure cove. Ric, seeing you in your impeccable white suit, sitting with such ease and grace in that wicker wing chair, flanked by your trusty numero dos, Tattoo, is like opening a beautifully wrapped but long forgotten box tucked way back in my girlhood closet. Inside that box, Ric, are memories – oh so many memories. Memories of the most perfect Saturday night imaginable for a girl of eight in 1978: McDonald’s for dinner, the arrival of a babysitter, a fragrant and breezy kiss goodbye from the parents and the best night of TV in history.  

The holy trinity of TV:  Dance Fever, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island.

Oh Ric, I wish I could hold your soft tanned lovingly manicured hand as I take this walk down memory lane.  I’m sure you remember Dance Fever: four couples, four sets of razzle dazzle costumes, four shots at the big one!  All disco dancing their little hearts out under the sexy gaze and slithery pulsating hips of Danny Terrio. Oh, Ric, don’t make that face. Danny had nothing on you.  He strutted around in jazz shoes and white vests and yes, he had great hair, but he was just an acorn to your strong magnificent oak. You were a father figure to Danny, Ric. Surely, after all these years, you have come to see that?

After that extravaganza of sequins, sparkle, panache and heart came The Love Boat, setting a course for adventure, our minds on a new romance. Again with the face Ric! I’m shocked. What’s that you say? Captain Merrill Stubing was a bald paunchy nelly? Well, of course! He was just trying to be you with the white captain’s suit and all, but he couldn’t hold a candle. This is beneath you, Ric. You should feel sorry for Captain Stubing – he spent his whole career sucking in his gut and talking about you. But you must admit, Ric, The Love Boat promises something for every one – including this eight year old girl.  I might have missed the significance of most of the sultry looks, meaningful glances, and coy double entendres cast about in the soft breezes of the Promenade deck, but oh, how I loved that show. Ric, I know this is going to make you crazy, but I had a crush on Gopher for a little while. Get up, stop that! I know he wasn’t attractive, but I had to pick someone to have a crush on, and he was the only choice when you think about it.  I suppose now I would have picked Doc, but back then, well, Gopher just seemed so friendly.  Oh I know, I’m not proud of it, but I was eight, Ric! Cut me some slack. And really, it was that pool I was hot after. Imagine that!  A pool on a ship! Funny, at this point in my life, I hope to never see a pool on a ship, but back then . . . oh, how titillating that was. Do you happen to know, Ric, being such a man of the world, whether you feel the pitch and roll of the ship when you are in the pool? I always wondered.

And finally, Ricardo, your show. Be still my beating heart – the fabulously escapist and inimitable Fantasy Island came last of all. It was quite late by then, maybe ten o’clock, and my drowsy state probably enhanced the dreamlike qualities of your show. Ric, I wouldn’t have missed it for all the stickers in the world. I forced myself to stay awake. I imagined my eyelids held apart with toothpicks, like those of a sleepy cartoon character. Oh Ric, I loved that opening sequence, with the float plane and Tattoo – you really found a winning formula there. I loved the lays and the drinks and the expressions on your guests’ faces as they alighted from the plane: wonder, skepticism, confusion. Oh, Ric, it was just too much! Each episode was so exciting, an unwritten chapter in a book of wonders and you were the magician, Ric.  A dashing, distinguished, and wise magician. You allowed your guests to seek and strive, to chase their dreams, but you always knew when to step in to save them from themselves.  Danger, romance, longing. You were a virtuoso, Ric, a puppet master of unequaled skill and wisdom. Eventually I would lose my battle with the sandman, the toothpicks snapping into useless splinters. I would drift off to the sounds of your deep and knowing chuckle, the pitter patter of Tattoo’s little shoes on the dock, the propeller, revving and then fading into the distant horizon. Have a safe flight, Ric . . . and a happy landing.  And one more thing.  Thanks.

Feb 2 2009

I am not a complicated woman.

fries2If you make sure my McDonalds’ fries are piping hot and as salty as the brow of the devil’s wife, then you, my friend, have gone a long way to toward making my day.


Feb 1 2009

Tiny Dancer


dsc_0466I don’t consider myself much of an innovator, although there have been things that I thought of that then ended up being invented by someone else. Like tampon boxes with tampons of different absorbancies. A few lites, a few mediums, some extra strength. Ooops. Sorry, male readership – that’s gross, I know. Shake it off.

Yesterday afternoon, however, I believe I invented something. Something good. Something really, really good. All you will need is your Ipod and a pair of those big ass cushy headphones. I’m sorry, but earbuds will simply not do. You need to be surrounded in music – lost in music – fully bombarded. This is key. Then you need to get yourself down to Lake Harriet and walk to the middle. Stand there, face the sun, blast your tunes, take a look around. 360˚. See all the people on the path? See how tiny they are? That’s how tiny you are. Not quite invisible, but definitely unrecognizable. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Right about now you will begin to feel that itch, that bump de bump in your rump. You will feel like dancing and here’s the invention part. Do it. Just let it all hang out. And after a couple of songs, if you get to unzip your coat because it’s 40˚ warmer than it has been and your inside-out flannel shirt that you wear as pajamas is flapping in the wind, then so much the better. And if it’s so warm and sunny that you take off your big black gloves for the first time in weeks and stuff them in your back pockets, then so much the better. Hips down, arms up, shake it my babies. Get your groove on brothers and sisters. It feels amaaaaazing.

Yes, I was a tad hungover and yes, it was really really warm out, but I’m telling you – I’m telling you – this is a shot of joy on ice.

You know how every city has its roller-dancing kings and queens – leathery skin, shiny shorts, walkmans, knee highs, sinewy extremities, blissed out expressions. You see how happy they look as they bust out their best roller skating moves, smooth and sexy – in a world of their own. Well, that’s what I felt like. I felt like the Sun King at Lake Calhoun. He wears peachy pink shorts, no shirt, has a blond mane cascading down his back and every exposed inch of his skin is as nut brown tan as a well worn saddle. He’s Tarzan butter on those roller skates and anytime the kids and I catch a glimpse of him, it causes a happy ruckus in our family. He’s odd, he’s happy, he’s doing his thing and doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks. What’s not to love about that? We all need to take a bite of that apple.

As I was shimmying and shammying and busting out my smoothest moves in the middle of the lake, I thought of an old boyfriend from college. We used to go to the soccer fields at night to mess around. It was huge and open, and we felt invisible. It was fun. We were exposed to everything, but not. Hiding in plain sight. We could have seen campus security approaching from a mile away. It was the perfect place for a little smoochin’ and a huggin’.

The beauty of this middle of the lake dancing is that it’s fleeting, seasonal – a uniquely winter pleasure. This summer, I’ll try to pick out my spot on the smooth water and it’ll be hard to believe that’s where I danced.

I’m also thinking this would be great at night. Twinkling lights. Blue black snow. Mmmm. Sexy. Take your lover and an extra pair of head phones.

Here’s what kept me groovin’ yesterday.

I Want to Take You Higher – Sly and the Family Stone
Honeybear – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Mind Power – Tribe Called Quest (OHHHH, MY!)
Inspiration Information – Shuggie Otis
More Than This – Roxy Music (OHHHHHH – dreamy.)
Otherside – Chili Peppers (always, always. slay me now, I love this song.)
Save Room – John Legend (pant – don’t even get me started. This might be one to save for date night tiny dancing.)
Me, Myself and I – De La Soul.
This Is All I Came To Do – Dinosaur Jr.

And then I left. Now I’m all jacked up. If you see a tiny dancer out there, come say hi. But make a Y with your arms as you approach, so I know I know you and don’t dance away from you like I did to the chocolate lab people yesterday.

Do you trust me? You trust me, right? When have I led you astray? Never, right? Tiny dancing. Try it, you’ll love it.

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