Thursday, July 31, 2008

More Wikkid Smaht Kids

When I am not busy enhancing my own intellectual mojo, I occasionally try to build the wee brains of the Short Drunk People. No, seriously! I do! Sometimes I pass along life lessons and sometimes I focus on more traditional lessons (like reading) so that I can justify my existence I can insure they move out and go to college one day I can help them develop a life-long love of learning.

I do this sporadically (natch) and usually after I have spent wads of cash at a book store. Which I did today with the GFYO while the girls were sweating their butts off at soccer camp. It was fun! Books are awesome! And there are loads and loads of them!

We got busy almost right away, me and the GFYO. Whipped through the "There is a Monster at the End of This Book" book in which I read every word and whipped through the Scooby book in which I read every seventh word. Then we moved on to the one about letters.

It wasn't so good. The GFYO is not so smaht.

It went like this:

Me: This letter is B. Buh, buh. B!
Me: (Starting at the top left, moving clockwise) What's this?
GFYO: Mommy's cleaning thing.
Me: Close! Brush!
Me: What's this?
GFYO: Soccer ball!
Me: Close again! Ball!
Me: This one?
GFYO: Nana!
Me: BUH-nana. B. Buh. Buh.
Me: This?
GFYO: Cards?
Me: (What the?) That's a book, dude.
Me: This is...
Me: Yaayyyy! Good work. (I skip to the easy one, hedging my bets) This one?
GFYO: Balloon.
Me: YES! You are wikkid smaht! Now, how about this one? Remember: buh buh...

GFYO, thoughtfully: Buh.. Buh.. BUH-SHOVEL!??!

Thankfully, the GFYO has a future in dance.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Baby Borrowing

In my quest to become an intellectual master of the universe, I tivo'd every episode of The Baby Borrowers. But it was my desire to beat my kids from telling me what happens at 8 in the morning (because the Three Short Drunk People have mastered the tivo and the toaster) that made me watch the last episode in real time.

They need to make this show required viewing up north of me (in Gloucester) and really, pretty much everywhere. Some so-called grownups should watch this thing too, like every day or while copulating. In fact, it should be slipped into a porn box and delivered to anyone considering having a baby.

SPOILER (like you care): every single one of the teen couples split up at the end of the "experiment."

Um.... DUH!

Because having a baby and a toddler and a tweener and a teenager and an aging parent living with you (not even all at once!) is truly a buzz kill to romance. And also no one ever marries their high school sweet heart -- well, besides me and my two best friends. (Actually, he and me weren't really officially dating in high school but still.) Normally, that shit DOES NOT WORK OUT.

(I am pretty sure our Awesome Babysitter is currently all DeNiro -- you talkin' to me -- and she would be right. Right as rain. On a rainy day. Right as... dude, come over and watch this fucking classy show with my three lousy, dirty kids. For FREE. At dinner time. When one has the stomach flu.) (PS: Please come back. Soon. Please?)

And then while trolling the internet (for like the first time ever), I come across this craziness

in which the Canadian Duggars say what folks like them normally say, "we just let God guide our lives because we strongly believe life comes from God" to which I wish to say, no, dear sweet well meaning people: it was not God who guided you. It was the great guidance of a penis into a vagina that made these 18 kids. I mean, I'm no expert and open to almost everything and I get the whole miracle of the thing, but I am pretty sure God is thinking more about pollution and wars and how to feed all the hungry children of the world. At least I hope so.

Obviously these amazing Canadian Romanians do not need The Baby Borrowers. I am pretty sure those two are in it for the long haul. And yo! That's kinda awesome and cool and no matter where they think the 18 babies came from, I am really hoping the mama starts a blog. Because that would be some good ass shit beautiful.

So anyhoo, back to the teevee. Clearly The Baby Borrowers is no Frontline or HBO documentary and I have seriously no idea if anyone else was watching it besides me, The Kid and the Drunk People, but I'm glad we did. None of my kids even know where babies come from, but I hope this wee primetime afterschool special makes a difference to someone (Awesome Babysitter).

It's been almost 9 years since baby number one and 14 years since I gave The Kid the chain to my ball, and right now, he is snoozing and probably dreaming about doing bong hits in college. My point being: he is not currently doing bong hits or wishing to scope out the local skate park. He had five good years of heaven on earth marriage to me before B moved in, but it still took him (and me) some time to get used to it.

Raising babies is hard ass work for everyone even kinda grown-ups, even the Romanian Canadians I bet. Even you.

Dear Nice Lady Who Cuts My Hair

I know we don't hang out as much as you would probably like and certainly not as much as I probably need, but still, it's always good spending time with you. Even when you explain to your apprentice that I'm a Level 12 or 500 or some other ridiculous number because of the amount of premature gray hair I have, I still love you. Even when you chastise me for letting my hair "go" like this and suggest I wear hats more often, I still love you. Even when you explain that a blow dryer is "my friend" and not a weapon, I still love you. And when you mention that I have the freakiest texture ever? I still adore you.

The cape you let me borrow is so charming in a blousey, breezy, plastic kind of way. And nothing says "HOT" like forty pieces of tin foil sticking out of my head. Or better yet, hanging over my eyes so that when some better-soled broad says, "Msssss Piccckkket? Is that you under there?", I can say yes but still have no idea who I'm talking to.

When it's obvious that I'm wondering if all the other ladies have dressed-up to get their hair cut done, you always seem to sense my anxiety. That's when you kick off our celebrity gossip chat, which you know I will appreciate for the obvious reasons and also because it will keep my mind off the fact that my bag is pretty ugly and out of date compared to everyone else's. And rope bracelets are kind of "out."

Never mind, you silently say, as you lop off two inches of dead blond hair and cut long bangs ala Nicole Richie or some other young thing I pretend to know. You don't ask me about my kids (have you forgotten I have them? me too), but instead, we chat about bands we like and shows we're going to (you: Coldplay, me: Springsteen) and for a minute there, I feel entirely cool. You spin me around in the chair and I am beginning to see less of the paint on my shorts and more of the styled me I might be if I cared more. A few more snips and swipes, some expert blow drying, and voila! you've done it again: shinier, straighter, cleaner, milfier.

And to top it all off, you do not say one thing about my crappy bag (overstuffed and coffee-stained), but instead compliment my toe ring, an accessory that seems to be entirely lacking on typical clients. And I feel happy. And girly. And I have you to thank, Nice Lady Who Cuts My Hair.

When I swear that I won't shower for days to stay looking this hot, you laugh and think I'm funny, which is funny, because I really won't shower for days. But let's just keep that our little secret.


Ms. Picket

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Black Hockey Jesus is Soooo Jealous

Because today I get to be stunt CarolynOnline for real. BHJ's probably got his panties in a bunch about it but more likely, he's still circling the floor at the Roll-a-Rama. Either way, it's a good day for me and probably for Carolyn, who is getting her beach on.

So anyhoo, go right on over here and hang out with me and the coolest chick south of the Mason Dixon.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Making Lemons Out Of Lemonade

Since I like to sleep, especially in the mornings, the Three Short Drunk People were taught early on how to fill a bowl with cereal, pour milk, toast waffles, fend for selves. The process is known as the "pre-breakfast": the "official" breakfast begins at around 8 or 8:30 when I repeat the filling, pouring, toasting regimen because (frankly) those dudes like to see me work.

I can deal with this routine because I figure they are learning something about independence (if only for the 90 minutes before I begin my indentured servitude) and that's important to me. It might mean that come some wonderful day, they will not only be able to put their shoes away in the bins so lovingly provided them but also be able to retrieve them without one "where are my shoes?" lament. They might realize that an itchy butt hole is a problem they can remedy themselves and not one requiring a lengthy and loud report to anyone in earshot. So I figure the pre-breakfast free-for-all has it benefits.

Still, there are limits to my laziness parenting strategies to engender self-empowerment, most of which I have learned through trial and error. For instance, letting the GFYO "mop" the playroom can lead to massive water damage so I've scratched that from the list. I'm all for allowing the girls to express themselves through their clothing choices, but I have learned to check that panties are included in the ensemble. And despite the environmental and help-yourself upsides to powdered lemonades, this

will never be allowed in my home again.

The tiny crystals have literally covered my house like volcanic ash. On the floors and the counters and the couches and the rugs, the sugar shit is not helping with the ant problem or my general mental health and I am quite sure the only thing it is teaching the Three Short Drunk People is how to make their mother all kinds of crazy. I am permanently sticking to things, even my flip flops won't flop, and honestly, I would prefer gritty clingy sand everywhere.

Is it so frickin' hard to spoon some powder into a cup without flinging it all over the place? Is it so hard to stir in the water without dousing every surface in sickly sweet "juice"? Sometimes I think the Three Short Drunk People might actually be drunk.

So screw self-reliance and screw lemonade; they'll get water and they'll like it. And they'll get it for their own damn selves.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What I Learned on my Summer Vacation

(Programming Note: The Husband Formerly Known as That Man and also The Stud will hence forth be referred to as The Kid. His agents pressed me hard over a period of one week to enact the name change and since they were the ones filling the coolers -- and carrying them -- I will oblige. And frankly, any man who gives himself a nickname, admits that he has done so and also that he refers to himself by said nickname when engaged in inner conversations -- as in "The Kid scores again!" or "The Kid just stubbed his toe!" -- deserves the obligatory gesture of choosing his own literary anonymity.)

Anyhoo: onward.

Turns out the homestead was pretty much all ship-shape when we returned (breaking in through the gateway to hell cellar no less, as it seems I have no door key). CarolynOnline and NashsMom did a swell job cleaning up the joint -- must have taken the bottles with them -- and all was as it should be: a tad musty and covered in mail but the serious good news was the six pounds of hamburger meat that I thought I might have left behind ON THE KITCHEN COUNTER in 90 DEGREE HEAT was nowhere to be found. (It is stressful enough to buy food to feed 20 people for a week; it is way more stressful to realize you have lost 6 pounds of cow flesh that may or may not be breeding maggots in your kitchen.) (I am still wondering if perhaps we left the flesh on the bumper, leaving a trail of bloody rotten hamburger in our wake.) (Bygones.)

After tending to jellyfish stings, dodging a six-foot hooded seal in the surf, negotiating a bumpy beach road in a car filled with hyper kids with a wicked hangover, counting ten children's heads every sixteen to eighteen minutes to make sure none were missing/eaten/drowned, making approximately 20 to 25 sandwiches a day, re-learning to live with being wet, sandy, and nearly dread locked most of the time, and considering a good abdominal burn from a great laugh to be exercise, I can officially report that I am very pleased not to be Mrs. Duggar on a deserted island but that also, I already miss Chappaquiddick.

But I'm back yo. Like it or not.


My friend expounded on his theory of relativity more than once. Maybe it was the sunsets or the booze or the fact that he is probably wikkid smaht, but it wasn't long before I was down with his philosophy, which is saying a lot really, as he and me are pretty much the Bickerson's of Party Town.

He'd been wondering why the summer (or even days) seemed so long as a kid, and why and how it is that the summer (or days or years for that matter) speed up as we age. Big ass question no doubt asked by millions of middle-aged drunkards, but I liked his theory: a child's brain is open all the time to new ideas, sights, thoughts, facts, jokes, food, feelings but the older a kid gets, the less challenged he becomes by what might be considered "new." So the brain starts speeding past things already considered learned and lo and freaking behold, the day is gone. The summer over. The year spent.

And this made sense really. The days seemed long to me when I had a new baby and maybe not for the reason I thought (boredom) and they seem long now when I'm up to me elbows in dirt in the garden (a new-ish obsession) or when I am tinkering on the Internet and trying to teach myself code and shit (I can barely set an alarm clock) or reading blog posts written by strangers in strange places about all kinds of random minutiae and heartbreak and hilarity (makes me all David Byrne-ish: how did I get here? is this my lovely wife? is this my beautiful house?).

I spent some of my precious time away walking around the acreage of the incredible house we rent with my fancy phone as if it were some kind of divining rod, except I wasn't fishing for water but wifi hot spots. I realize that seems so very not zen or relaxy but it turns out, I dig this whole weird bloggy experience and I dig what other people bother to write and maybe also I dig the way it makes my day seem longer. Longer in a good way. So maybe Mr. Bickerson is right. (Score one for Mr. B.)


The Kid hauled his laptop out there and we dragged us and the kids one morning across the tiny ferry to the local library (hollla Ben Franklin) so I could connect for reals. He hooked it up and split with the Three Short Drunk People for a solid 90 minutes so I could troll and lurk and read and write. Seemed decadent. Made me adore The Kid.


R got clingy on day four. "You've been out every night!" she said. I'd been out one night, I reminded her.

But I never get to seeeeee you, she purred. You've seen me the better part of every day you've been awake, I said, and I've seen you too.

Where have you seen me? she said. Um, I said: swimming, playing, digging, eating, scratching your bug-bitten legs to a bloody pulp.

You saw all that? she said. Yep, I said.

Then why haven't I seen YOU? she said. Dunno, said I.

I think sometimes I forget you're there, she said. Yep, I said, I think so.

She scootched in for a cuddle and said, that's weird Mom.

Not really, I said: not so much.


On a beach one late afternoon, when the ten kids were sent home with the beloved (by all) babysitters, my BFFs told me I should start selling my home management systems. They snorted beer out their noses envisioning Home Management System One consisting of baggies and a Sharpie, Home Management System Two consisting of envelopes, a Sharpie and an elastic hair tie, and the Deluxe Home Management System consisting of a drawer with both hair ties, baggies, envelopes, a Sharpie and bottle opener for when the home management gets to be too, too much.

I considered it seriously. I cracked another beer. I thought, who needs a bottle opener? I have never been much of an entrepreneur.


I stayed up late with the babysitters on our last night. They taught me that youth is not wasted on the young after all: they deserve their beauty and passion. They helped me edit some ancient fiction and we tried to post it on a flimsy connection, which I guess we did, but it's way, way down there. If you like youthful follies, you can check it out here.


It's been raining forty days and forty nights since I've been home. Since I've been home for almost 24 hours, I suspect you get that I am using some hyperbole. But it rains. I like it. It might have soaked us at the grocery store but it also brought us to the Small Town video store. And now the house is silent but for the rain and the distant buzz of their movie and the clicking of the keyboard.

I missed you.

Monday, July 21, 2008

More Guests

So Nash's Mom found the keys under the flower pot that CarolynOnline left and is now flipping through the channels on my teevee and reading all my trashy magazines. She also has a weird ability to make me simultaneously laugh and cry, as the following clearly PAID for post also does.


I feel like Ms. Picket has just given me the ultimate blog opportunity by inviting me to guest post on her highly coveted blog (editor's note: now THAT is funny). When I asked her what on earth I should write about, one of the ideas she gave was to post on why I started blogging. Little does she know that one of the reasons I started was because I had been lurking on her blog for months when Post Picket first "launched" and she inspired me to give it try. I did it and have grown to love it and I have her to thank. It's my own little space in the world to vent or ramble and is like a little therapy session. So I've decided that this post will be a tribute to Ms. Picket while she enjoys some much deserved relaxy time.

When I first met Ms. Picket, we were both working in the glamorous rock and roll world that was the music biz. She was super cool and knew how to party like a rock star, with rock stars and pretty much be a rock star. Then she became one of the first of my friends to become a mom. Baby B became the hottest accessory and everyone soon wanted one. She made this whole parenting thing seem like a breeze (editor's note: thanks to the mind control tricks she had recently learned on Oprah.) So why not have two? Or even three! I had a little trouble getting knocked up and that saint Ms. Picket held my hand through countless negatives until I finally got my positive after enduring all sorts of fun fertility treatments (whee!) which she also held my hand through. I remember the exact moment I broke the news to her (at a yard sale at my house) and how thrilled she was for me. She already had two kids at this point and she jumped right into super support mom mode and set me up for what to expect. She took my husband and I to Babies R Us and explained why we needed to register for pages and pages of products we had never heard of and could not figure out how on earth we would ever use. She hosted my baby shower, she visited me and baby Nash in the hospital and she handed me down the best of the best toys from the girls (and I returned them back when GFYO was born - ha!).

She has been and will remain my expert mom-on-call (editor's note: poor Nash's Mom.) When baby Nash rolled off my bed as an infant (hitting the night table on his way to the floor), I didn't call 911, I called Ms. Picket. After sobbing out the details of the disaster, she asked me if he was conscious (yes) was bleeding (no) and assured me he was fine (he was). And this year when I wasn't sure if I had to do something for each and every one of Nash's teachers in kindergarten for "Teacher Appreciation Week", Ms. Picket assured me that just doing something nice for the one or two special ones that go the extra mile would keep me out of mommy jail. Phew.

During a visit shortly after GFYO was first mobile, I asked her how the hell she does it with the three. Her reply? "I always don't know where one of them is."

So there. She's funny, wicked smaht and one of the best moms on the planet (editor's note: the "planet" being very tiny and without any other parents.) But I don't have to tell you that. It just seemed like more fun to write that than a post about Sarah Jessica Parker having her mole removed. But I totally could have gone there......

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Puffy and Stung

Within three hours, five of the the ten children were suffering the lashes of a slew of nasty red jelly fish. The first kid felt "tingly" and then felt hysterical and soon after, forgot how to use language and also how to swim. She was towed in by someone else's sweet-talking father into her mother's arms (that would be me) who tried to explain that a summertime sting is pretty much a rite of passage, much like losing a first tooth or wiping out on a scooter. Naturally, she could not hear me, what with all the howling, so she missed the part where I explained the options: wait about ten minutes for the pain to subside or LET SOMEONE PEE ON YOU.

She heard the latter strategy as it contained the words PEE and YOU and were not in the order she might have liked.

A couple more hysterical minutes passed before someone else's quick-thinking mother filled a cup with the elixir and offered it up, unflinchingly and without the slightest blush. She got eyeball to eyeball with my screaming kid (who by now could see the stings erupting all over her body -- more horror!) and explained how clean "elixir" is and why "elixir" works and that sometimes you just have to do weird things.

Suffice it to say, elixir works like a charm. When the four other kids came running to shore equally lashed and puffy, the pee thing was just the obvious choice. Duh. Like a new rite of passage.

Lessons are learned in strange and unexpected ways, and yesterday's were some of the best:

1) When hurt or scared or stung or bitten or freaked out, it is best to keep breathing, talking, swimming, or walking.

2) Always, in almost all circumstances, take a deep thoughtful breath before acting, weigh all the options in front of you, and make the simplest, most effective, least damaging choice.

3) Sometimes the right choice will seem gross or contrary to traditional reasoning. Choose it anyway.

4) You will know your true friends by their willingness to offer you "elixir" or consequently, to accept yours.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Holla Hotlanta

CarolynOnline has stopped by the 'hood to fill in for me today. She is probably mucking around my kitchen as I type and rearranging the furniture. Which is cool by me, naturally, as we are virtual neighbors... and she is also one of the funniest people I know.

Someone left the oven door open in Atlanta and it's just too hot for human beings. It's weird this same thing happened last year in July. I think the meteorological term for it is Summertime. I know that technically I shouldn't complain about the heat what with it being a yearly event and all but frankly Atlanta and I haven't been getting along that well lately. The old hag. And I like to pick on her sometimes. And you know the old, "it's not the heat, it's the humidity?" Well, it's not the humidity, it's the drought.

Here's the thing Atlanta, I know the drought isn't your fault but it's annoying. Although my hatred for the drought is not what you think. I don't mind the fact that my lawn is a crunchy, combustible mess because let's face it, I could have done that without the help of the drought. But the other aspects of the drought I find really offensive. Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about, Atlanta. The Palmetto Bugs. It's really such a charmingly euphemistic name for a bug. I just want to get an old mason jar, poke holes in the lid, and collect a big mess of Palmetto Bugs to put on my nightstand. Oh, but wait: Palmetto Bug = Big ass nasty disgusting flying roach. That was cheeky of you Atlanta to give them such a cute name. They're so big you can actually hear them walking across the floor. I mean is that really a necessary part of the ecosystem?

Me: Kill everything, Mr. Bug guy. Bug guy: Them's just comin' in fer water. Cuz uh'th'drought. Least you don't have them little ones. Thems's th'worst. Me: Right, because big roaches that can fly are ever so much better than those little roaches. Look I don't care if you have to poison the groundwater, if it drops my kids IQ 20 points, do whatever you have to and kill everything. We'll be back in a few hours.
So off we go to the indoor rock climbing place to kill time with two hours of air conditioned fun masquerading as exercise for them while I sat on my tush reading my emails so yeah, totally worth the fifty bucks. Well, it would have been worth maybe thirty, but it cost fifty. Atlanta, why do you have to be so pricey? Yeah, I blame you.

So my girls, my diametrically opposed children, are out there monkey scaling the walls. Working together. A rare site. And Tempel is being so Tempel. One of my favorite things about her is one of the things I'm supposed to be fixing. She does not understand social cues, or boundaries, or socially appropriate behavior. When two beautiful young things started climbing on the wall next to the kids my girls had two completely different reactions. Parker, as is appropriate for a 13 year old (even though she's 7) turned red, performed a signature hair flip, and readjusted her unflattering harness. Then she spent ten minutes very deliberately not looking at them. No eye contact. No sudden movements. Tempel, however, jumped right in front of them, Hi! Cool chalk bag. Can I see it? Digging into the chalk bag tied to the guys belt. Wiggling hands getting little too close to the tool for my comfort level. What do you use it for? I'm eight. How old are you? Twenty-two? Wow, you don't look that old. And the guys were being so nice to my little dorkess that it made them even cuter. I wanted to leave the designated mommy viewing area and go lick their carabineers.

I love it that she has no idea that eight year old girls don't normally chit chat with 20 year old men. Her mom was there, she was safe, she felt comfortable, she liked the chalk bag. Why not tell them? Why not ask to have some chalk? Parker would NEVER. I never told Parker that she should be coy with boys or fix her hair every time something male walks by, she was just born with some weird innate girl knowledge. Genetically she's a Heather. I know I'm supposed to be working this aspect of Tempel's little personality out of her. Teaching her how to interact with people. What their looks mean. How people speak without words. But I just love her open friendly naivety. I love that to her what's socially acceptable just seems like bullshit in her little head. I have to find out how to keep that alive while simultaneously telling her not to chat up the fourth grade girls in the lunchline. Hello, social suicide.

Where was I? Oh right, so the rock climbing went faster than I expected so we decided to hit Old Navy to let more time lapse before entering back into the fog filled dead zone of the house. Atlanta, why do you have to keep putting these stupid metal plates over the potholes? It doesn't work. I don't think any other city looks at a gaping pothole and thinks, "Instead of filling it up we can just cover it with a metal plate with just enough thickness to blow a tire if you hit it at the wrong angle." The other cities are laughing at you, Atlanta.

Oh and look, the road is closed because of a water main break. Thousands of gallons gushing out into the street. Good job Atlanta, worst drought ever in the history of mankind and you can't stop flushing the toilet.

But just when you think you've hit rock bottom. When you think there's nowhere to go with this relationship, you're all cried out, something happens. I turned a corner in the road and then I saw it. I just looked up and there it was.

Atlanta?! I take it all back! I love you again! You knew this was just what I wanted! I'm so sorry about all those mean things I said before.

H&M is now open in Atlanta. Oh Atlanta, I'm sorry I've been such a bitch. I know you thought you had me at IKEA but I was playing hard to get. This seals it though. H&M is here. How did you know that this would be just the thing to get our relationship back on track?

Atlanta, I promise to be nicer to you on the internet. I promise not to complain about the drought or the roaches or the roadwork. I think you and I are starting to understand each other again. Atlanta, what can I do for you? How about some H&M shopping to stimulate your local economy. I said "H&M" not "S&M." Oh Atlanta you can be such a filthy whore you little minx.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

This is Not an Excuse For Being Lazy

I swear.

Yesterday, when I should have been packing and washing and organizing, I was instead sitting on the couch watching the TIVO and all the flowers wilt. I was wilting too. Chalked it up to all the house guests and all the "juice boxes" but still, in some weird moment of self-care and also because I did not want to die on vacation, I called my doctor. (I had to google the name and number of the place because I couldn't remember where it was.)

Gathered the Three Short Drunk people and we arrived at 8:30am ("where are the toys?" shouted the GFYO, "why is everyone so OLD here?"). I mentioned to the doctor that I thought maybe I needed allergy medication (or a nap) and she said, um, no (crazy lady), and then B knocked on the door to tell me that R was gushing blood from her leg and the GFYO was about to pee in his pants. The doctor sorta of nodded, understood me a little better, and quickly scrawled out prescriptions for REAL drugs for my REAL illness.

Turns out the fatigue I've grown so used to is actually a bonafide antibiotic-requiring sickness. Yay me! Yay me for being SICK for three whole weeks and not even knowing it.

Dropped off the prescriptions, took everyone to R's check-up, got a referral for an orthopedic specialist for her arm which is still hurting, learned she outweighs her older sister by nearly twenty pounds but is not overweight but instead "big-boned" (yes girls! it's a real thing! hoorah!), picked up the prescriptions and some other crap, drove home, fed everyone, popped some pills, made a list of things I need to find/pack, put some wash in the machine, and voila! Back on my ass because I am sick, yo.

It's gonna take longer than my usual whirlwind of manic stuff-doing, but I will get everything ready and we will be on a ferry at 10:30 in the morning goddammit, and by this time tomorrow, I figure the meds will have kicked in and I will be on the road to just my usual tiredness.

And searching for wifi. Which is another way of saying, don't expect novels while I'm gone, but do expect a special visitor or two, and maybe some pictures of the GFYO petting a shark.

Monday, July 14, 2008


So Manager Mom (who totally haunts my old stomping grounds) sent out the call -- post an inside look at your "thinking space" or "office."

And good god, it just sucked to even think about it. Office? Thinking space? Manager Mom, you are funny. But I'm game.


Most of the hard core intellectual thought happens here, with an ice coffee:

Oh funny people! That is so not me in the back ground (but it kinda looks like me; weird) and that is so not my house. But that, pals, is indeed my car. I would take a picture of the interior of the real one, where most of my magic happens in fact, but I do have some things I choose to keep private like the leftover coffee and donut experiments conducted therein.

Even when my kids are in it and that bad man is talking shit on the radio, I do some serious thinking in my car. Most of which ends up here.

Also, I have this special spot

which is the inside of the "juice box" fridge. I find myself staring at it from time to time. Opening and shutting it. Opening and shutting it. I think the process gives me inspiration. I do not know why. It must be some Zen thing, but after a long day in the mobile thinking unit, this kind of meditation just calls to me. The repetition seems to help. You should try it.

I am always going for this gal

who is (sadly?) seated here

near the computer screen with the keyboard I am typing on right now. In the kitchen. Next to the teevee. And the back door to the outside with the creaky screen that screams at me all day when the Three Short Drunk People are doing what they do, which is going in and out and in and out and out and in and out again five freaking thousand times a day.

Still, I count my blessings: I've got my three foot long piece of painted plywood the Stud installed as my "room of ones own" that is glared at by a magnetic board covered with crap I have not dealt with and should. It's also got pictures of my kids, which is stupid, since all I need to do is pretty much turn around to see them for reals.

Anyone who knows the genius of Ms Picket-- and if you want some of that, go here, 'cause dudes I posted TWICE today and was all kinds of educational -- must be all WTF? How does this woman manage such brazilliance in such chaos? So I will let you in on a little secret. It is not this

so much. It is the amazingly high-end Pottery Barn look-alike stool that I sit on, with it's secret


You are so, so jealous right now, I kinda feel bad for you.

After looking at other "office" pictures, I need to say this: nothing, NOTHING, here was tidied or re-arranged. Except that, yo, the beer that should have been on the desk, I was totally holding it in my hand.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

In Which History Gets the Better of Us

So the Small Town is obsessed with its history. Obsessed to such an obsessive point that visitors might think that without the Small Town, we would all be drinking way way way too expensive tea and remembering the War for Independence as that sweet little skirmish we had with our Mother, the Queen.

We've got museums (like three teeny ones) in the Small Town that are chock-full of our lore and also all kinds of cool stuff that has washed up on our shores. We've got books in the book store and at the library with photos and more elaborate stories of our impact on naval history, fishing history, American history. But mostly, we have a band of totally dedicated Revolutionary War reenacters (lots of them parents like me) who reenact battles on boats and also in classrooms and around town. And they do it on 85 degree days in traditional clothing. Made of wool. With their kids.

Like they did here all weekend. Which was good timing, seeing as my sister and her family were visiting, and there is nothing 16 and 14 year old boys like more than an educational stroll through history on a Saturday afternoon. Poor dudes. But their little sister and my kids: hellllooooo? Muskets! Bayonets! Meat on a spit over an open fire! Tents! To spend the night in! Outside! And lemonade sold in bottles with corks!

R, bedecked in her usual athletic short/t-shirt ensemble, hair in knots and in her face, part Bad News Bear, part homeless urchin, says within minutes of the tour through the encampment: "MUUUMMMMMA! Sign me up! Sign me up TODAY! I want a gun and I want to sleep here and I want eat that meat and I wanna fight in the war and I wanna wear those pants and MUUMMMMMAAAA! Can I please please please please be a soldier too???"

Completely warms a Mother's heart, no? Before I was forced to start the lecture on war and peace and George Bush and such, this is what we learned from our guide:

The Redcoats wore red to intimidate their enemy and so their blood wouldn't show.
All men between 16 and 60 were required to own and know how to use a musket.
Which most fisherman around here knew nothing about.
A musket took about five minutes to load and shoot. (Downside.)
All men in the service were given a rasher of rum. (Upside.)
Muskets need to produce a spark in order to ignite gun powder.
Rain was not good for spark action, so the war was cancelled on rainy days.

R reconsidered her options. I could literally see her brain firing sparks of its own. She inspected the crap out of those tents, she inspected the clothes the girl children were wearing ("nightgowns?" she said). She inspected the boys whittling by the fire and the small "guitar" (a fiddle) a woman was playing and the meat; girl likes her meat. B and their cousin were equally entranced but I was pretty sure neither would opt to sleep out there that night, and even R seemed a little iffy by the end.

But not iffy enough. That kid has always had a need to say "yes" to anything, sometimes even before knowing what she's saying yes to. She asked, "So can I do that? Can I sign up for that?" (because everything -- private school, yacht clubs, leer jets -- are in her mind just something one simply "signs up" for) and I said, because I am nice sometimes, "Maybe, but not tonight." And she was good with that, since her cousins were here and there was candy in her future.

I said, "You'll learn more of this stuff next year in a second grade, isn't that great?" and she said, "uh huh" and I said, "maybe these guys will come into your classroom and teach you more about it" and she said, "you think so?" and I said, "i hope so." And her sparks started firing (and I was all, OMG, she is totally the next Doris Kearns Goodwin) and she looked at me, from underneath her now lemonade-sticky hair, and asked all wide-eyed and wonder-time-ish, "DO YOU THINK THEY WILL BRING THE GUN?"

I told her that I think it's probably going to rain that day so the war will be cancelled, but that I am sure that they will bring other cool stuff -- like the BAYONET she asked; um, no, I said -- but other cool stuff that is just as awesome -- like the tent?! she asked; um, yes, like the tent maybe -- but mostly, they can tell and teach you things about your Small Town that maybe you never knew and you can ask all kinds of questions and learn all kinds of things about our history and your history, since this is your Small Town now too. And stuff happened here? she asked, and I said, yes it did.

She thought about that. She looked around. She looked at the harbor and the rocky, brutal coast and these volunteers all dressed up in the clothes of men and women who were not much more than fisherman and sailors who learned how to use guns and fought with them and sometimes died because of them, and she said, "alright" and then she said, "i hope they bring the lemonade."

And I seriously hoped that the ghosts of the soldiers who no doubt roam the Small Town got a little chuckle out of that and remembered the girl's just a kid.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Never the Liver

I wrote this when I was... younger. As in 22 years old. It was about my grandmother dying. Who died of congestive heart failure about three years after I wrote this and whom never had liver failure (despite being a recovered gin addict.) Also, I have never had a sister in law but I do have two sisters.

I share this juvenile writing because I am away and lazy, but mostly because I have finally found the editors I needed (same age as the me I was then, but smarter) and also because there is some part of this kid story that makes me sad and wistful. And also the two brilliant young editors said to go for it. And I am nothing if not a girl who supports the um, er, "youth":

"You talk in tiny explosions about everything else but the liver. You are pleased to board the plane with both of the babies, the baby gear and the two mothers, one your sister, the other your brother’s wife. While it doesn’t take your mind off the liver completely, the flight and the bother with baby carriages and car seats fill up the liver-less space. Changing diapers in tiny airplane seats is easier and almost fun. Poop examinations replace liver dialogue.

At the condominium complex, where you eventually arrive, your grandmother has aged markedly. She is covered in black and red spots, like ink exploded all over her body. They blink at you from every available inch of showing skin but seem worse on her hands. Your mother has brown spots on hers, from twenty years of birth control pills she says, but the flat black marks of your grandmother’s are different and menacing. Her huge silver rings don’t make up for the blemishes, but now that she’s not smoking, your grandmother’s hands are mostly in her pockets, underneath the newspaper, stuffed behind a pillow. Luckily, her face is mostly spared from the spots. You can still look her in the eye and smile, as if nothing has changed, as if the liver is still deep maroon and working.

At the pool, your sister and your sister in law take their babies swimming. One baby floats around the water like a fleshy buoy. The other baby, older and already wild, splashes and laughs and nearly drowns himself. Your mother takes pictures with the video camera, shouting as if to a dog. Here baby, over here, she says, slapping the water. You lie next to the pool’s edge, covered in towels and sun block, pretending to read a trashy book. Sometimes, you get in the water and hold one of the babies or twirl them both around in circles. You think you look young and beautiful this way but the video replay shows you fat and peeling. Your mother scans your face through the viewer, focusing in with the telephoto. She stops the film when she notices you have too much on your mind. Your grandmother does not visit the pool. Her feet are too swollen and she can’t get her shoes on.

You watch your mother’s face twist when she calls your father long distance. He wants updates, flight arrivals and advice on renting hospital beds. You watch your mother as she struggles to hold in the tears that are lodged in her throat like hard candy. Your father wants details but your mother can’t remember what the doctor said exactly. There are no details really, just the liver.

To get away, your mother and you travel to the beach to watch the sunset and drink beer. She doesn’t say much. You realize after ten minutes of spilling your romantic guts that she hasn’t heard a word you have said. If you felt comfortable expressing love, you might have hugged her. Instead, you motion toward a flock of three kinds of different sea gulls. One group is gray and grimy. Another is red headed with tiny plumes on the top of their heads. The last group is speckled with gray and white and brown and a little red. The gulls stand facing the same direction, like soldiers. It’s as if they are waiting for something big to blow down the beach.

You mention that it’s nice to see them all perched together, all interlocked genetically and getting along. Your mother suggests that maybe they are not all gulls. You say that could be true, but it looks good, doesn’t it?

She says, It does. She says she might like to paint all those birds someday.

At the condominium complex, the baby has choked on a cookie. The baby cries constantly; he is teething. The cookie is supposed to soothe his aching gums but he has bitten right through it, which you thought was impossible; the thing is like baked leather, hard brown plastic, a chew toy. Your sister and your sister in law seemed pleased to tell you this story – how his face turned red, how they panicked and how, just in time, the baby swallowed the cookie right down. Your sister in law wonders whether his poops will change color. You know, she says, he’s only eating strained peas and chicken puree.

Consulting baby rearing texts fills up the evening. In bed at night, you feel relieved. A whole day gone and never the liver.

When your sister and your sister in law were pregnant, you memorized health books and learned the names of diseases. You learned to recognize brain stems on x-rays. You knew the sizes of fetal hands at every stage of development and you could measure the skull of a fetus from the size of a woman’s belly. You plotted the spaces in which your sisters walked like an engineer. Move, you’d whisper, we are carrying children here. Their spines are only so big and they are fragile.

You never quite knew what was happening until you held the first baby in your arms and until you saw your sister cry because she felt so inadequate when the breast milk wouldn’t come in. This was so much more than medicine.

At the condominium complex after the pool one day, your lover calls because he is concerned and feels, already, married to you. When the phone rings, your sister in the law yells from the porch – whose husband is it? – and when you hear your lover’s voice at the other end, you are not at all sure how to answer.

Like your sister’s husband and like your brother, your lover avoids the liver. The men have learned how to behave in this situation. Your lover brought you flowers when he came to take you to the airport. In the car on the way he laid out some tired speech about the ebb and flow of living. You rolled down the window to drown out in him what you do not love: the rushing air and the other cars shushed him.

But over the phone long distance, you can smile as you tell your lover about the old couple at the pool. They were friendly and deeply tanned and smoking long brown cigarettes. You tell him these kinds of cigarettes always look better in the hands of older people. You tell him about the wife saying to you that the pool seemed abnormally hot.

She asked the pool keeper if he had turned up the heat but the pool keeper told her that the May sun was making the water so warm.

Can you just imagine how horrid it must be in June and July, she said to you.

She won’t even be here in June and July, her husband butts in, for God’s sake, we’re leaving in three weeks to get back to Minneapolis, but she needs something to gripe about.

The wife craned her neck to look at you, her eyes above her brown sunglasses rolling to the side to gesture at her husband: Oh, you crab ass, she said.

You tell your lover later that the dialogue seemed right out of someone’s short story. Your lover agrees. Just like life, he says. You don’t point out the irony of his comment. He is making you happy.

For dinner, you do your mother a favor and cook your vodka Chinese chicken specialty. Your grandfather joins you all, but your grandmother stays home. She feels nauseous. Your sister coos to her baby throughout the meal; your sister in law mentions the book she just read; your mother putters with the food on her plate, saying oh this is good, good, good; your grandfather does not talk. His face is drooped over the plate, hung there silently. His eyes are glazed. He looks heart broken and sacrificed. Near the end of the meal, he apologizes for his gloominess and mutters something else, under his breath, swallowing it down before it even gets out there. You have never seen your grandfather cry. You have never seen your mother squeeze his hand the way she does. You wish the baby would choke again. You wish the baby needed her diaper changed. You wish the old couple from the pool would barge in – You crab ass.

Your mother ships all of you home. She knows there is no need for you at the condominium complex anymore.

Boarding the airplane is a nightmare. You have become, all at once, husband and nanny. You are heavy with two strollers, two car seats slung over both your shoulders and a diaper bag hung dangerously around your neck. They let you and your sister and your sister in law and the two babies get on the plane first. Even the people in wheelchairs nod at you sympathetically.

Your sister and your sister in law lock the babies into the car seats and then the car seats into the plane seats. In the compartment above, you stuff the compacted carriages. The diaper bags go underneath the seats in front of you. As the other passengers board the plane, you begin to settle in, pull out the magazines, get your gum. Your sister in law complains that the noisemaker is going to keep the baby awake. You laugh because by noisemaker she means engine and because she once wrote a 250-page dissertation on gender and economic re-growth in South American mountain societies. Birth has dulled her wits. She barely catches on to what she says.

A man boards the plane with a beer cooler. Coolers this size remind you of transplants and the way he carefully carries the container makes you wonder whether a lung’s inside, or a kidney. Livers are hard to come by. Sometimes you wish your grandmother needed a new heart. You feel like there is something symbolically friendly about hearts. You think that if the heart was the thing, you all might talk about it and even profusely, in romantic ways. Your lover might make sugary analogies about too much love for one old heart to hold. Instead, the liver stinks like gin and vermouth and too many afternoon bridge games and reminds you that your mother cooked dinner nearly every night when she was a kid because your grandmother was asleep on the couch by 4 o’clock. A heart might have ticked out quietly. The liver rots.

Mid-flight your sister feeds the baby. The baby drains the bottle quickly leaving bubbles and burpy messes on your jeans where you have laid her to spill out the gas. Your sister stares out the window. She turns to you and says, It’s weird: we’re moving so fast but it doesn’t seem like we’re moving at all. You nod at her. Her eyes seem puffy. She started smoking again and has decided not to go back to her job at the bank.

The babies' ears pop and they start wailing. Trauma at the right time, you think: your sisters seem as content as you to leave it alone.

The flight crew makes you wait until everyone has departed before you can start packing up to leave. The man swings the cooler over his shoulder like a shotgun. When the plane is mostly empty, except for you and the sisters and the babies and the wheelchair people, you begin to slowly lift the carriages out of the overhead compartments. You hang the diaper bag again across your neck. You grab one car seat, then the other.

You smile and nod and carry on down the aisle."

Friday, July 11, 2008

No Man Is An Island

We are leaving in four days for a week in Martha's Vineyard. I know, I know: you are thinking I am totally hanging there with the Clinton's and Diane Sawyer and Carly Simon. That is only half true.

Fifteen years ago, we crossed from the mainland to the Island on the Ferry with two other couples. Six people. We played "dry Marco Polo" (please don't ask) and canasta, drank beer like water, avoided poison ivy, took outdoor showers, slept on the beach, and talked about when (and maybe even how?) to have babies. We rolled into a fancy BYOB restaurant (with our newly issued credit cards) not with a bottle or three of wine, but with a cooler. A cooler on wheels. Filled with cheap beers in cans. The chef, a Deadhead, was our friend within the hour, and, to hell with the real live celebrities to our left, he fed us like kings and queens. We were a teacher, two traders, a marketer, a record company flack, a social worker, and we were fun.

And broke. We took the next summer off to work our skinny asses to the bone.

Another couple moved "back east" and they joined our happy, drunken crew the following, more flush year. They added carpenter/entrepreneur and realtor to our resumes, as well as expert Scrabble players and so a new game was on. We also had a mom and a dad amongst us that year (thanks to the outdoor shower), and a mom-to-be, also known as the Oreo-mauling Jabba the Huttish 8.5 months pregnant beyotch. And yes, that was me.

Flash forward to now: there are twenty in the crew and ten are children and two are babysitters (we got smart about that around year 8). And we are leaving in four days. And though I have done literally nothing to prepare, and the preparations are massive, like moving a house to an island, I can not wait.

It seems weird to me sometimes to leave the Small Town during its high point, when all the boats are in the water, the weather is relatively awesome (even on a sickly hot day, the beach is about ten degrees cooler, in more ways than one), and everyone is "around" a lot more than they are during the ski season. I say "around" because between day camps and yacht clubs, though most of my friends are physically here, it is not like I bump into them as much as I might like. Which is probably a post for another day. When I am feeling more political. And invisible.

The truth is, something changes in me out there. I feel it the moment I get on the ferry. I feel myself fading, dulling, blurring. I feel myself quite literally shaking off the skin of this mom and wife and suburban grown-up that I have become and growing the skin of the person I want more to be. I find myself holding hands with the Stud in the car while Neil Young sings, and breathing in the clean sea air more deeply than I normally do, and noticing how insanely beautiful raw nature can be and raw people too. I find myself saying yes more than no to almost everything (food, a drink, my kids). I find myself trusting the Stud and other dads to take care of the posse when they say they want to jump off a bridge or surf the big waves with the rip tide. I am, within hours of arriving on the island, laughing from the gut without any worry about anything with women I literally cannot live without (and I'm lucky: I get to do this in the Small Town from time to time too, and err, umm, here with you also).

So I go. I go every year because we have (and now since a great majority of our kids can speak, they have) made it so this expensive, planning-intensive, packing-obsessive annual event is a "family" tradition none of us can live without.

And since I am kinda worked up about it and it is Friday and my sister and her family of five are arriving tomorrow (and the house is bomb-hit and fridge-empty), I am going to rely on you to finish this wee essay with your answer to a question, ala my girl Carolyn...Online who used the nifty device earlier today (but more subtlety):

What is your place to go (real or metaphysical) that changes or refreshes you?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What Ya Gonna Do When They Come for You

The Stud and I once watched one of those true crime story shows (-- wait, before I go any further I need to correct my language to dispel any misconceptions: we didn't watch a show like that "once" because we watch shows like that all the time; in fact, there are probably three 20/20s and a couple Primetimes in the Tivo right now --) in which a man claimed that despite his wife's blood spattered on the walls and the floors and the steps to garage, he did not kill her: she just bled a lot. We howled over that, as we scanned our kidless, relatively clean house which was completely blood-free.

"Oh, my silly wife: there she goes gushing blood on the walls again!"

"Honey, did you hemorrhage in the garage today?"

"Sweeeeetheart, you left more of your brain matter on the kitchen cabinet!"

We were wicked, wicked funny back then, but we were also wicked stupid about the future that would soon become our lives. So now in life imitating TV imitating someone else's life, I know what to say when the cops come knocking. Oh, officer, I'll laugh, they just bleed a lot.

But unlike the above-mentioned dude who is sitting in jail somewhere, I will have photographic evidence to back up my claims. Like this

for example.

(Notice how I put out the educational dinosaur puzzle, but no! It's swording and slashing and clubbing right until the first kid falls with a wound, leaving DNA evidence all over my rug.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Confession or Step One

My name is Ms Picket. And I need to confess something.

Peer pressure from my so-called friends (you know who you are JESSICA and LISA) got the better of me and I did what I swore I would never do. It starts with Face and ends with Book. I really can't say the word out loud, much less type it for all the world to read. Which is an obvious hyperbole: I do believe only half the world is reading this.

Admitting it is a good thing I guess, but I still feel all needy twit for doing so. I mean, isn't the whole social networking thing a little, um, unnecessary when I have in fact no net to work? Does that even make sense? Do people work their nets? What in the hell am I even talking about?

The whole point of my ramble (yes, half the world, there is a freakin' point) is that my whole week long foray into the world of the Face ends with Book has resulted in a rather hilarious walk down memory lane. Who knew so many of my elementary school classmates would grow up to be social networkers too?

Anyhoo, one of the first old friends to "friend" me -- a concept I find funny and also horrifying at the same time, kind of like asking someone to dance and standing around waiting for hours for an answer -- was Kristin (she of the hair caught in the blender days and not the Kristin of Going Country).

Kristin and I were pretty much inseparable from first meeting. I think we had matching missing front teeth and that probably sealed the deal. We had the same teacher in first grade, but even when we didn't, we were in the same "special class." Which is a really indelicate way of saying a "gifted class" which is a really pretentious way of saying "a class for kids who were bored and potentially disruptive and needed to be pulled out of traditional school for a few hours a week to build outer space cities out of cardboard boxes." Naturally, I loved special class. And so did Kristin.

Once, when we went on vacations with our families, we decided to each keep a journal we would share when we returned. The journal would not be about the places we visited or the food we ate; it would be loaded with all the words we liked the most. One of mine was inflammable (and it still is, truth be told).

When John Lennon died, we were ten and obviously deeply impacted by his passing and so spent an entire weekend making a "Gentle Beatle" collage about peace and music and love.

We made up plays to Shel Silverstein poems and performed them for our parents.

We had code words -- "d" was for "deodorant" which was terrifically deceptive. We had our own short hand -- instead of saying "hi, how are you, i'm fine," we'd say "hi... and all that jazz" which was terrifically efficient.

We decided that the lemon that was tied to the tether that you swung around your ankle (you know the one) smelled like pee. And then proceeded to smell it for about an hour.

In seventh grade, I switched to a new school. I was playing soccer; she was diving. We both found out that boys were pretty cool (maybe even cooler than journals filled with cool words; we were half-right about that) and by high school, I had moved out of the state. We'd see each other at parties from time to time and spend hours laughing and hugging and chatting and drinking. In college, when we both were kind of swimming upstream, we did the same laughing and talking at Dead shows: she shaved her head once, I was pathetically trying to grow dread locks. Good times.

My sister would bump into her parents so I got some updates over the years: she had graduated, she had moved, she got a job, or another job, she was happy, she was newly married. And every time I would hear dribs and drabs from her now seemingly distant life, I would think, "would she still remember our code words? our plays? would she remember how much stinkin' fun we used to have?"

So Face ends with Book comes along, I grudgingly sign up, and who should come knocking on my virtual door? And who should start reading my virtual life as Ms Picket? Kristin. (Half the world, say hello to Kristin. Kristin, say hello to half the world.) Turns out she has three of her own Short Drunk People, grew her hair back into a more conservative style, and moved to the 'burbs, which sounds eerily familiar. I imagine from time to time, she even gets the occasional whiff of pee, which though a lot less funny than it was in 3rd grade, she probably still laughs at. I'm kind of beside myself that after 30 years, she and I can totally build virtual outer space cities together again.

If the blogging world is like really inexpensive group therapy and/or a virtual bridge club where all the guests drink and swear and bitch and moan and make you feel totally welcome even if you have stains all over your shirt, then maybe the Face(fuckit)book thing is not as completely lame as I thought. And maybe accepting that is the first step to recovery.

My name is Ms Picket and I like the Internet.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Ants are Marching

Except these dudes are not coming in two-by-two: they are coming in Russian army style, line after freakin' line. I believe they have tiny helmets on and tiny bayonets.

I am totally taking out my tiny machine gun and blowing them all away.


Except I do not have a tiny machine gun and I'm sorta a pacifist. (Though I did once throw myself in the middle of a fist fight the Stud was in -- defending my honor, he was, that chivalrous fool. He is 6'4"; I am 5'3"; my black eye proved he did not need my help. My mother was not impressed. Ahhhh... youth.) But I hate these miserable ants with a passion that should put me on the PETA watch list. I loathe them. I despise them. I am thinking in lieu of the tiny machine gun, I might teach the GFYO the whole magnifying glass and sun trick. Which seems cruel, and also, he might burn our house down. Which would mean the ants had won. They could march through the ashes of our home (looking for discarded popsicle wrappers no doubt) and no one would even SEE them.


I tell the Three Short Drunk People, "who needs a dog? we have these bloody ants!" and R says, "the ant is BLOODY?! where? i wanna see!"


I go to the hardware store (truly one my favorite places; even the crabby old she-man behind the counter amuses me; I will make that hag smile some day, I swear to it) and I search through the pest control aisle. There are many many products for killing ants. They all seems wickedly toxic. I mull over a fly swatter. I leave with nothing.


The entire front line of the Russian Ant Army moves across my cook top. I decide the kids will eat cold, leftover chicken tonight. They are not pleased (they rarely are with my culinary wizardry -- Jerry Seinfield's wife can suck it) and I say, "do you want grilled cheese sandwiches with ants in them?" And B says, "jeez moooooom: it's just an ant" and I say "you are so afraid of bugs it is not even funny; do not get all cooler than thou with me now, missy" and she says, "you need to get a grip." Which she actually didn't say, but I know she was thinking it. Because I have mad skills that way, like ESP and shit.


I sit in front of the fan. Directly in front. My kids are hot and in a heap and watching Shear Genius. The contestants are cutting hair to look like famous cartoon characters: Marge Simpson, Betty Boop, etc. I need a hair cut. I unloop the ponytail holder. I check the length of my mop mane and lo and freaking behold, there is a mother lovin' ant in my god damn hair.


I consider burning the house down myself.

Monday, July 7, 2008

She Yawned, She Cried, She Grew Up?

I'm tired.

Tired in all ways that a girl can be tired: body tired, brain tired, heart tired.

After the non-stop-woo-hoo-aren't-we-fun-and-young of the weekend (which was quite possibly the longest ever), I am feeling old. Old because my ability to bounce back is not what it used to be -- which means that I can't lounge in bed until noon and order pizza and fries and extra-large diet cokes and re-hash the night with my homies. Then nap and shower and resume.

I am old because this Independence Day, the Three Short Drunk People were truly the independent ones. I did not need to worry about them drowning so much; I sent the 7 year old out solo in a kayak from the mainland to a nearby island and she made it without one freak out (by me); I could let them roam the island solo (and pee in the woods without help); they could manage the buffet all by themselves. And God love those small dudes, they made their own breakfast at least once over the weekend.

I am old because there have been too many funerals for my friend's parents lately. They seem to be coming like weddings used to come: every couple of months there's another call with more news and more details and more times and places to gather.

Until recently, the last funeral I attended was my grandmother's when I was 22. I was nervous because it was in a big Catholic church, and my father was an atheist who broke from his parents and 8 Irish siblings because he was a rebel and he read philosophy, and also because I really didn't know too many of the aunts and uncles gathered or really the grandmother who had died and I was pretty sure, going in, that I had no idea what to say. Which was true.

When Aunt Number 5, thanked me for coming from so far (which I hadn't really; she probably had me confused with someone else), I said, "Oh, it's my pleasurrrrre."

Which I knew right away was probably foot-in-the-mouth kinda stuff.

When my mother's mother died a couple years later, there was only a memorial service: no wake, no open casket, no praying. My brother in law sang "Morning Has Broken", funny stories were told, my oldest sister who delivered the only official eulogy seemed like a grown-up to me for the first time. Besides that, all I can remember is crying for about a month.

When my grandfather died of a broken heart a year or so after that, I was holding my 2 week old first-born in my arms in his living room as he breathed one last breath and left. My mother and her brothers were off to the liquor store for the dinner that night -- The Stud in hot pursuit, speeding through country roads trying to catch up to them. Unsuccesfully. So it was just me, B, and my middle sister's husband and my middle sister there; she holding his hand, speaking so calmly and so poetically and sending him off in nothing but love. That's when I knew she was a grown up.

A couple more kids later, mortgage payments out the wazoo, a career started and sold, first gray hairs, and the freakin' PTO, and I am still not sure that I feel like a grown-up. Sometimes, when B talks about third grade, it's not that I feel like I am in third grade, but I remember my BFF Kristin so well and I remember that dude Paul I totally dug who I think was a Mormon and moved away and I remember my mean teacher and the deaf girl who got her hair caught in the blender, and so I think I know what B is feeling. Sometimes, when the awesome babysitter Samantha has boyfriend problems and wonders about getting married, I feel not so much like I am having boyfriend problems or wondering about getting married, but that I know exactly how she is feeling. Which I probably really don't anymore, but the point is, I think that I do.

So when I find myself at wakes for the fathers of my friends, or writing notes to friends when I can't be there, it starts to dawn on me: Ms. Picket, you ARE old, maybe not old enough to know when to go home before the hangover kicks in, but at least old enough to starting seeing a generation one up from you start to pass the torch along.

And Ms. Picket, you are old enough to have solo-kayaking kids who are starting to need you less (which dude, is a trend that shows no slowing down), so let's make, um, a little note to yourself: you, my friend, ARE the grown-up.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

You Look Like a Monkey

And you smell like one too.

The 4th of July, it turns out, is not much more to the Three Short Drunk People who live in my house than a big town-wide birthday party. They see a party on someone's porch and they figure they are invited and barge right in. They see other people's snacks at the beach and they figure they can help themselves. And most of the time, it works out alright.

The Small Town has been in feverish celebration mode for two days straight now. We can hear the bands (that start at noon) from our backyard. Currently, it sounds like really awful karaoke. (Note to bar bands: do not under any circumstance perform Jefferson Airplane in public. No one wants to feed their head.) The streets are jammed; Japanese tourists with maps! Stroller convoys! Madras everywhere!

Drinking starts early and ends late. Everything is grilled and arrives in a bun or on a stick. I have seen way too many dudes marching around with plastic lobsters sewn onto Red Sox hats. Lobsters and the Red Sox pretty much equals freedom and liberty here.

Our model boat, built this morning for the Regatta at 3:00, clearly had a busted GPS: it raced off at the start and three times in a stinking row tacked 180 degrees and headed right home to shore. The GFYO did NOT fall in however, so we all considered it a win-win.

God Bless the small town, but I seriously need a nap, possibly a blood transfusion, and a decent parking spot.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

You Cant Judge A Book By Its Cover

I'm making a party mix for a friend's Fourth of July party. She hired a band before, but this year: she asked me for music. Not for a chip or a dip but for music.

And I agreed. I always do that.

My mom will be at the party this year.

She and her brother played the best records when I was a kid. And that's inspires me.

I am screwing the Deadhead Dad who will complain no matter what (because it's not the Dead all the time) and I'll probably upset the work-out moms who want cheesy hip-hop bang-bang music.

It is so good to be the music maker.

I'm gonna include this tune from the brilliant Bo. I wish I made mention of his passing earlier.

Seriously friends, if this does not make you want to get up and shake it.... then, shit: I don't know what.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I Would Like To Thank the Academy

The GFYO was out to get me last night and I am also almost done with the David Sedaris book, so when aimeepalooza presented me with this


I exclaimed "screw exhaustion! screw the pile of laundry! screw making breakfast for anyone! let's celebrate!" Ms Picket WON something today and so all is right with my tiny world. Plus I adore aimeepalooza and so should you.

But (there's always a "but," right?), there are rules to this award so I'll oblige:

1. Pick five (5) blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language.
2. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.
3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.
4. Award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of Arte y Pico blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.

Naturally, I wish I could bend the rules a tad and pick more than five of my faves -- you can find many of them on the right side of this page and you really should find them.

So here goes:

CarolynOnline introduced herself to me by inviting me to drink beer (like a couple of bums) at the park. No matter that her park is like six states away from mine -- when has time and space ever been an obstacle to friendship? It turns out she is living the Southern version of my life. Also, she happens to be a seriously funny writer and all-around excellent person who will be passing this award off to JenW at Serenity Now, who deserves it big time.

Kristin at Going Country hates the New York Times and climbs into cisterns like a champ. Because she has battled bats and chipmunk-eating dogs with some serious snark, it is obvious to me that one day she will make a fine member of the Good Mother Club.

StartswithanX is just a seriously good time. And I don't mean that in a-number-scrawled-on-a-bathroom-stall kind of way.

Always Home and Uncool is probably out of the house more than he thinks. He also has a memory like -- is it elephants with good memories? whatever -- he has an incredible memory: he recognized a photo of the Stud as a child. Turns out the two played Little League together. Plus, men talking about their kids is cool, goddammit.

Jake and Ellie's Mom did not Invent Motherhood but she has good taste in music and is starting a new business and I am all for the girl power.

Go forth and grant awards, award winners!

Turns Out I Am Replaceable

Samantha is the new babysitter. Samantha has the coolest cell phone ever. Samantha is the prettiest girl on the planet. Samantha has the BEST taste in music and the NICEST boyfriend and the COOLEST friends. "Samantha is coming today?" shouts the GFYO (because he generally shouts more than talks) and when I say yes, yes she is, I see that his happiness is equal to his sisters' and equal to my own. We ALL love Samantha.

Samantha is camp -- not in the John Waters kind of way -- but in the singing songs by the campfire kind of way. She has taken them swimming, eating, dock jumping, playground playing, bowling, painting, and today she took them here:

HERE was supposed to be this amazingly cool action picture she took of my kids on a roller coaster type of thing at a local carny and emailed to me from her awesome phone. HERE was one of the best pictures of three happy kids every taken. HERE is not upload-able due to "internal errors." (Before I get all huffy about that, I realize: do we not ALL have internal errors? And so I have decided to give the whole computer industry and/or internet some slack. Sigh.)

So anyhoo, just imagine the picture taken by the amazing babysitter who spends 9 hours a week with my kids and pretty much saves my life and my sanity and definitely has seduced the three Short Drunk People with her wicked cool ways. (I wish she was here last night when the GFYO was possessed by some devil until three in morning with a) a possible ear infection, b) night terrors or c) a willingness to seriously want to fuck with me. But I digress...)

At about 6pm last night, I got the chance to babysit the neighbor baby who arrived diaper-clad and slightly sweaty. Which of course is like, a mostly naked bald baby just up from a snooze who laughs at all my jokes and never talks back to me. I took some pictures of we two on my awesome cool phone to send to his mom so she would know that I am also a kick-ass babysitter like Samantha, but lo and freakin' behold every picture pretty much looked this:

Not quite a sweet ride on a roller coaster but still. I didn't let the baby drink the beer and that says something, no?


Despite being massively sleep-deprived, I am all kinds of cheerful today because thanks to the amazingly great aimeepalooza, I have a trophy for my trophy case. Which is empty. But not for long! Stay tuned...