Hope you all got down with your bad selves, on what is, arguably, the BEST night of the whole year.
Isabella Rossellini stars in and directs a hilarious series of scientifically accurate short videos about animal attraction. It’s hard to stop watching these, they are so clever. My favorite is the duck episode when she says: “They all want to mate with me with their corkscrew penises! Forced copulation! Get away! But I evolve vaginal complexity to keep control!” She’s a gem. Check ‘em out.
I think we’re in the clear, but I say that as I knock on wood with all the knuckles of both hands and feet. That’s TWENTY knuckles, mother fuckers! It is dangerous to underestimate the louse. You need to go in hard. Like a psycho. And you need to keep at it, day after day, like a psycho marathoner. Endurance is key. I think Doctor Dash would agree that I was indeed a psycho last week, and as I breathe my first few tentative sighs of relief (With the wood knocking! With the wood knocking!), I realize that this battle was not without its casualties – namely, my sanity and the signature blond pouf.
How else can I explain the fact that I paid $22 for a hard cover book called 100 % Official Justin Bieber: First Steps 2 Forever: My Story? I was at the bookstore buying this, when Supergirl approached clutching the Bieber tell-all to her chest. I totally don’t want this at all, she blurted, but (Devil Baby) would want this so bad. What is it with my children and their inability to admit love for the Bieber? I can totally admit I love Justin Bieber. So far Devil Baby and I are the only ones who will come clean, but I know there is more love for that young teen nugget in this house. I know it. Since I am understanding and benevolent and INSANE, I said If you read it to her, I’ll buy it. And now we own it. If you want to borrow it, just let me know. I should be done with it any day now.
Further proof that I have lost my mind? I can’t stop buying accoutrements for our new Halloween Spooky Town that I’ve set up in the dining room. WHAT is my problem? These Lemax collectibles are NOT MY THING. In fact, before the lice, I would have sworn on my life that NO collectibles were my thing. But look at me! I have been to Michaels three times looking for the Dreaded Zeppelin with the mechanical spooky blimp that spins around. I want it. I want it so bad. I HATE Michaels, with its smell of cinnamon, vanilla and craft-loving old lady – it’s like Mrs. Claus is standing in front of a fan and waving her skirt at us. Bluh. But the collectibles are all half price, you see? And, well, the kids are only young once and they love our Spooky Town, right? And I really do love Halloween. So, so, so much. And also, I am not well. Not well at all.
And if it weren’t enough that my sanity is gone, gone also (and arguably more tragically) is Saint James’ signature blond pouf. Panicked with having to pour through several pounds of hair (this family has A LOT of hair), we asked Saint James if we could buzz him. He acquiesced rather than submitting to hours of my nitpicking and sighing and belly aching and now he looks like this:
Beautiful, no? But you know me and my unhealthy love for THE HAIR. This is the first time in his life he has ever had it short and lately we had a good thing going because he and I sort of banded together on the hair thing and we would shut down Doctor Dash whenever he suggested a haircut. It wasn’t just me loving the locks – Saint James loved them too! And I would say to Dash with a cavalier swish of my wine glass, Oh, please, who cares about hair? Respect the lad’s wishes. He’s entitled to have an opinion about his own hair. Let him be. Let him be. La-di-da. Di da. Who cares about hair . . .
Although he looks like a handsome devil and I can see the soft skin on his temples for the first time in ten years, I am bereft. I know hair grows but something tells me he’s going to like it this way and that I’m not going to see da pouf around these parts for a very long time. If ever. So let’s take a moment to say our good byes to the golden pouf. I thought better of putting together a montage set to music for fear it would seem strange, so I leave you with the pictures below. The golden pouf was in rare form a mere two weeks ago at the NSC Cup – extra golden, extra poufy, barely contained by the gigantic bandana. Sigh. Good times . . .
At this time last week, I was a naif. A rube. A foolish, frivolous little woman. I did things like cook and read. Sometimes I went to yoga. Ha, ha, heh, heh, YOGA! Imagine that. Sometimes I even watched shows on TV. Oh, and I did all sorts of other indulgent stuff like open mail, look out the window, shave my legs, and eat yogurt. One time, I even shopped for boots online. I looked at a bunch. It took a while. What an indolent innocent, I was. What a fool.
Little did I know that in a matter of hours I would discover that something sinister and foul, tiny and insidious, had crossed the threshold of our home and taken up residence in the heads of the people I love the most. That’s right. Believe it. We had – I can’t even say it. We had . . . cough cough . . . it rhymes with mice. Oh, I’m not ashamed. It’s everywhere right now. No. I am SHELLSHOCKED. I have never worked this hard in my life. My hands and nerves are raw and cut up. I am battle weary, bone weary, way past the point of sceeve and reason. I am angry. I am wrung out and scarred.
I am exhausted.
And yet, though it defies belief, I discovered that it is possible to love your children more than you did. There is still unchartered territory in the heart, more room to step into, to turn around and look from a different perspective.
It is a simple truth: when you look at every hair on your child’s head, you love him or her even more.
Now excuse me while I go dig an underground swimming pool in my back yard, fill it with vodka, and jump in. Whether or not I put cement blocks on my ankles, I have yet to decide.
Photo by Devil Baby
I have been thinking a lot about happiness and hope lately. I think people think I’m much more of an optimist than I really am. I’m not. I’m actually quite cynical. Once, I stumbled upon the term “a Russian soul” and I had a shiver of recognition. I’m not Russian, but I’ve read enough Russian literature to know: I’ve got a Russian soul. Subject to melancholy, a worrier, glass half empty, prone to fits of pique. You know the type. Maybe you are the type. But I don’t want to be the type, hence the perpetual noodling.
Life is short and a failure to see the beauty and count your blessings is actually, when you think about it, a careless act of cruelty. To yourself. But it’s so hard to be positive and present, right? And therein lies the rub. It’s kind of emblematic of the human condition. Or maybe that’s too sweeping. It’s emblematic of my condition – let’s leave it at that. We’ve talked about this before, many times. It’s a preoccupation of mine because despite my Russian soul, I want to be happy. I try to be happy. Every day, I start over, and my level of success is sketchy, at best.
At book club, during an intense and difficult discussion of The Road, the Ladies wondered how the protagonist was able to keep going, or why he bothered to keep going when nothing he could perceive with his senses or imagine with his rational mind would lead him to believe that there was anything worth living for. Quite the contrary, the danger to which he was exposing himself and, more poignantly for our book club, his son, should have outweighed any naive spark of hope he had stoking in his heart. And yet he continued on. When many others had chosen not to, he did. Is it a defining characteristic of a person to have this hope, this will to push forward, whatever the cost? Why did some, quite understandably given the circumstances, choose to opt out of the devastation, the evil, the horror that the world had become? We wondered about ourselves, what would we have done? It’s impossible to know, from the comfort of Lady Pretty Twigs’ warm and comfy living room.
On Friday night I went out with Creeper Bud and Hot Breeches to see Jamie Lidell at the Cedar. (He deserves a separate gushing music post and I will do it if I have time, but for now, suffice it to say that this vaguely nerdy British white boy has seriously got it going on.) Our night was the best kind of sandwich: a wildly entertaining soulful and booty shaking concert stuffed between two great meandering beery chats. At one point after the show we were talking about global warming and the general “hell in a handbasket” status quo (ya, I know, why, right?) and how it’s hard not to feel completely dejected about everything. Hot Breeches nodded knowingly and said, Ya, but you just can’t let yourself go there. And it’s true, we can’t. We’ve got children to care for and lunches to make. We’ve got lives to live.
I realized then and I said to my sweet companions that I think that I gravitate toward things that are beautiful or funny or whimsical or enlightening as a reaction to the dark. When I see something that strikes a happiness chord in my chest, I go after it, like a dog after a squirrel. I chase and dig and bark. I find out more about it, take a picture and put it on my blog. It is my attempt to fight the part of myself that sits, legs dangling, over a chasm of despair. These are some bad times, environmentally, economically, morally, religiously (Catholic church, I’m looking at you!), and I don’t see enough evidence that the things that need to happen to make things better are happening. But on a micro level, in day to day life, there is plenty that gives me hope. I just have to keep my eyes open.
I took this picture a couple weeks ago. I saw this sign on my walk and went back with my camera later because I was so touched by it. I was struck not only by how lucky we are to live in a city where 1. people are actually around and 2. people will actually help, but also by this individual’s need to reach out and offer his or her thanks to those people; enough to compose a letter, print it out, cover it in plastic, put it on a stick and stake it firmly in the grass. It gave me hope.
This blog, Peevish Mama, started out as a place to bitch, to vent, to put my mommy angst. I wanted to redirect my frustration and ire away from my brood and into the ether. But when I look at my “peeves” category versus my “pleasures” category, I’m surprised by the difference. You want to know the score? Peeves: 24 Pleasures: 86. Not bad for a peevish mama with a Russian soul. I guess.
And now for a bit of happiness, here’s a little Jamie Lidell for your viewing pleasure.
Thanks to a fortuitous bit of timing, I was able to meet The Wishing Tree Lady yesterday and she couldn’t possibly be more lovely. But I just as easily could have missed her, had I lingered at home just a bit longer. A little bit of kismet, I think. We were all comfortably ensconced in the backyard after school, enjoying this gluttonous string of fantastic weather: Supergirl on the monkeybars, Saint James drilling balls into his rebounder, Devil Baby sweeping leaves, Doctor Dash and I sipping adult beverages. I wasn’t going anywhere, except that earlier, I had promised Supergirl I would take her to the wishing tree after school and she was holding me to it. I decided we would make a break for it, just the two of us, but Devil Baby got wind of our plans and insisted on coming. I sighed, looking longingly at my wine and my chair. Forget shoes, just hop in the car, let’s go, quick.
When we got there, there was a cluster of people around the tree, including a woman cutting down the wishes. There were no more paper tags. Supergirl’s eyes filled with tears and she started walking back to the car. I called her back. Surely there was a way for her to add her wish. The woman with the scissors found a couple blank sides that Supergirl could reach to write on. It’ll still count, I whispered. I waited for Supergirl, reading more wishes and listening to the gentle chatter around me. A man who had apparently stopped to ask about the tree and ended up helping to cut wishes handed me a pair of scissors: It’ll help them come true if you help. He smiled and continued on. Maybe so, I thought. I held the scissors in my hand and looked around. The sun was setting over Lake Harriet, Supergirl was reading wishes, Devil Baby had made a friend (a cute little dark haired boy who turned out to be the Wishing Tree Lady’s son) and suddenly there was no better place in the world to spend the next ten minutes. I started to snip. So, is this your project? I ventured.
It turns out that the wishing tree is part of a bigger project, specifically, The Hokey Pokey Project, which The Wishing Tree Lady, also known as Deb, also known as Mrs. Hokey Pokey (to me, anyway), has undertaken with the simple goal of making people smile. Every week for one year, she will pull together some cool thing in a public space to that end. She’s doing it for the smiles, but also to teach her children “that they can be a source of joy for friends, acquaintances and strangers . . .” My God. Can you imagine what this world would be like if we all did this? She calls it a “modest” project, but when you think of the implications, the symbolism, it’s huge. Especially now, when everything can seem so bleak. And if you think of the ripple effect, there is no way to know how this could turn out. I am smitten by the concept of putting something into motion which then takes on a life of its own.
As for the hundreds upon hundreds of wishes, Deb says she wants to spread them out on her sidewalk, count them and read them. There are at least 400 but likely many more because when the tags ran out, people started writing on the backs of tags and even on leaves. Incredible. She promises they won’t be thrown away but she’s still not sure what she’s going to do with them. Maybe they’ll resurface in some way shape or form as the Hokey Pokey Project evolves. Check out her blog and keep your eyes peeled for more joy to come.
And if you have the good fortune to meet Mrs. Hokey Pokey, make sure to thank her.
Often, when I walk around my beloved Lake Harriet, I think of the Wim Wenders movie, Wings of Desire. Ah, ring a bell? If you were like me, you would have shuffled into an art house or slipped in a VHS tape circa 1991, when movies were films and you had time and emotion to burn. Maybe you held your boyfriend’s hand, shifting elbows and fingers to find the clasp that felt like two puzzle pieces locked in place. You would have been blown away by this beautiful dark German film and then talked about it, earnest and teary, hunched over beers in a loud bar, feeling separate, special and immune for the emotional and artistic journey you had just taken. It would have underscored what a compelling medium cinema could be, how challenging and gorgeous and smart, in the right hands, with the right story – almost better than books and music. For a few years anyway. Until you got over yourself, ditched the metaphorical beret and really got down to the business of living for someone other than yourself. Movies were a way to try on other lives, try on other truths, all so very important to a young woman trying to figure herself out. Wings of Desire was about an angel who was weary. As he walked around the sooty gray urban landscape, he could hear people’s thoughts. The words, sounding like papery whispers, would flood him and the burden of so many voices, so many worries and desires, was taking its toll on the angel.
This has always stayed with me. It’s easy to forget that each and every person we pass has their own internal monologues running through their heads. They have private thoughts and preoccupations that are given body and pulled into long swirling strands by words, silent words. When I circle the lake, I’m usually by myself and my mind is on fire. I daydream, I analyze, I remember, I imagine, I plan, I brainstorm, I wonder, I decide, I vow, I fret, I exhalt. I take epic journeys forward and back in time. I think about the angel’s burden, the burden of being privy to all of this and I wonder: the woman walking with her head bent slightly to the left, what is she thinking? What if we could hear each other’s thoughts?
Yesterday I stumbled on this tree of wishes at the lake and I was captivated. Flicking gently in the wind are all those voices I wonder about. I stopped and read a few, and then a few more, and then a few more. I couldn’t stop. I don’t know who started it, but people are responding. They are responding with whimsy, with pain, with pleading, with wide-eyed hope, with pragmatism, with honesty. As I read, I could hear the whispers: I wish my mother would stop fighting with my brother. I wish for a clean bill of health at my next check up. I wish for a dog. I wish for equal rights for all regardless of race or sexual orientation. I wish for world peace. I wish for lots of snow this winter. I wish K would propose to me. I wish for our cancer journey to be short and our outcome to be a miracle. I wish for my baby to be healthy. I wish for a happy marriage and lots of babies. I wish for more lake friends. I wish that I get divorced and have my kids 90 % of the time. I wish for love, happiness, success and confidence for my child. I wish my knees would stop hurting. I wish. I wish. I wish.
In case you’re wondering, she wishes for dolphins to swim in the lake.
And me? Well, only the tree and the air and anyone listening to the whispers can know.