Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dispatches From The Front

Not to dwell on the negative (which I should probably point out I don't usually do. I'm a bit of an asshole in this forum but normally I actually am a very happy, positive person. Really! I swear on the pile of rainbow-farting baby unicorns I just shived) but we've had us a time over here these past few months, which is why I haven't been writing much. The grandparents have been dropping like flies; I don't know if I mentioned this, but not only are we down a Joanna but JHP's sweet, beloved father passed away as well. Yeah. And in much less serious but still annoying news, the week after Mom's memorial service our ice maker flooded the kitchen and leaked down into the playroom, ruining floors and ceilings with reckless abandon but not before it leaked into the freezer and froze the contents in entirety. I opened up the freezer door and was met with a giant block of ice; everything in there was perfectly preserved in situ as if I'd been tasked to create a Smithsonian exhibit of "how bad mothers saved mediocre food in the two thousands". There should have been a nude wax caveman tableau next to it or something. Our water heater then decided to get in on the fun and rusted out in a really slow, sneaky way that made the biggest mess ever possible in the history of water heaters and did a bunch of damage as well. At first I was really pissed off about it but after I thought about it for a while I had to admit I really admired that strategy. If I was an appliance with neglectful homeowners like us I'd do the same damn thing; now that I finally have a chance at vengeance I'm not going to be all type-A, exploding in the basement with the "I'M BROKEN! MAINTENANT! C'EST URGENT!" I'd hide out in a corner of the laundry room and proceed to quietly ruin as many things as I could. But still be French. So State Farm came on over, took a look around and gave us a check. Thus, we're renovating.

We're only about a fourth of the way into the sausage making, but I'm already thinking that instead of trying to fix this place up we might have been better off tossing a lit match inside and driving away. This shit sucks. And it's not like we're gutting the place and getting all fancy, we're just repairing floors, ceilings and a bathroom that was undamaged by all of this but is so offensively ugly that it simply must be done to keep the neighborhood, and perhaps world, peace. Part of the problem is that we're dealing with a bit of a damaged product in the first place. JHP and I weren't exactly seasoned homeowners when we bought this house - we'd moved from DC where we'd both rented for years and years on account of the fact that you'd have to sell an organ (or play one really well, if you know what I mean..wink wink, nudge nudge) to buy a place there, so needless to say we didn't exactly know what to look for when it came time to own something. Our solution to house problems was to call the landlord and then leave while it got about rubes. The previous owners of our current home - we'll call them the Smiths because that's their name and I am speaking truth to power, children! - saw us coming from a country mile away. That pretty hall mirror? Covering up a giant hole in the plaster. And isn't that bathroom lovely until you turn on the shower and realize the tub was "reglazed" with house paint that bubbled up the minute it got wet. The gas stove in the kitchen had to be lit by hand which made cooking an activity you had a 30% chance of dying from. We caught none of this until we were all moved in. In a way it ended up being good that the Smiths were so half-assed; because they didn't insulate the kitchen floor/basement ceiling when they renovated the playroom, it didn't collapse when the ice machine flooded. No heavy, wet fiberglass insulation = nothing to pull the drywall down. Let's forget for a moment that the lack of insulation also means that it's so cold you can hang meat down there and for once just thank the Smiths for being all Smithy McSmitherson about it.
I have dreamt lo these many years of having a kitchen island in my dining room. In unrelated news I rule at Mastermind
It's been really annoying. At least for me; as usual JHP has been traveling so he's missed most of the fun, and the girls think all of this is just great. AD loves the novelty of having the refrigerator in the hallway and the RM just loves having the renovation guys around. I worry, as always, about her taste because that is one sketchy crew; I don't even know how to describe them, but I probably don't need to because we've all seen "Deliverance". They seem quite nice but a bit rough around the edges. Tooth deficient, one might say. One of them only has part of an arm so it's been an almost uncontrollable compulsion of AD to refer to him as our "non-handy man"; the RM just calls them "the fixers", and she stalks them all. "The fixers have NEVER seen an outfit as princess as the one I have on now, have they? NO! It is true that they have not. I must go show." To their credit they're very patient with her, if not perhaps too indulgent - I caught Lloyd teaching her how to use a ball-peen hammer, and Saturday morning I found her sitting on the front steps with Curtis while he simultaneously chain smoked, ate a hot dog and told her all about Vietnam. These poor men have had the misfortune of their work here falling on the RM's birthday so they've also had to endlessly assure her that yes, she's suuuuch a big girl. "Terry. Let's you listen to me. Today I opened that straw wrap BY. MYSELF. Babies can't do that, only big girls can do that, right? You know this? I couldn't do that when I was three but now I'm four so I'm very big also call me Berle today. I will help you PAINT." I also  heard through a third party that she was trying to get Levon to teach her how to drive the trailer and dip Skoal Wintergreen. 
Because this process isn't irritating enough, we decided that next week we'll flee the scene and take the girls to the one place on earth that has more noise, trans fats and rednecks (and I'm only referring to my immediate family) than our house - Disney World. I've gotten to the point where I am willing to leave all this work unsupervised and risk exposing myself to the possibility of one of the fixers rifling through my stuff as long as I can just get out of here. Hell, if they promise to come in on budget I'll even personally pick out the underwear they can sniff and go ahead and pack up the televisions for theft. I'm actually really excited for Disney World, and not just because we'll be away from this dustbowl - it's one of AD's favorite spots, and there's no question of how the RM will feel about it. Plus Dad and Cslos are joining us, which adds a whole different level of excitement. The RM's never been, at least not out of captivity. The last time we went I was five months pregnant with her and the temperatures were over 100 degrees every day. Heavy sweating was in order, and we even saw one poor girl faint dead away which AD attributed to the fact that "she probably couldn't believe how cute I am." What an idiot - it was totally because of how cute I am. She was pretty damn cute though.

So, do you think you made the right move, leaving your appreciative and supportive gay roommates to move in with a shallow, impulsive necrophiliac? I'm just asking.

The RM has been talking about the trip nonstop, and I'm a bit concerned about how her behavior will be, um, interpreted. Yesterday morning for example I was dressing her for school, and as we're putting on her princess print underwear she tells me "Mom. Mom. Mom. I can't wait to tell Cinderella I'm wearing her panties. She'll be so happy at me that I'm IN her PANTIES!" Let's hope Cinderella speaks Menace. Aside from that I think it's going to be fantastic, if not a little melancholy; this will be our first big family trip without Mom. On the upside, she never did like going to Disney World all that much - Cslos and I were joking about how damn if that woman really would, clearly, do anything to get out of going back.
She will be dearly missed but we're looking forward to making good new memories. I'm just glad I won't be here to somehow stumble upon the memory of Curtis and his eight teeth wearing my bra. I don't judge - just get the tile down already.



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ice, Ice, Murray

Thanks to the weather we're housebound yet again. JHP is in Seattle, so I am on my own with the children which just seems terribly irresponsible on someone's part even during the best of times. JHP isn't really any help during inclement winter weather - to the contrary he's a bit of a disaster. He grew up in Houston and went to college in the South as well (Duke. Can you even imagine a more obnoxious combo, a Texan who went to Duke? If he was a Yankees fan the odiousness of it all would be a jailable offense) so he's kind of a moron about snow. The first winter he lived in DC, for example, his car windows iced over so what does he do? Boil a pot of water and take it out to the car. He slipped in the driveway and dumped it all over himself, but not being one to let a clear sign from above deter him from an idiotic pursuit, he boiled another pot and poured it on his windshield. Which promptly exploded. I'm not exactly a pro myself, having grown up in Memphis - during my first DC snowstorm I stole my roommate's golf shoes so I could walk to the Metro without breaking a hip (I'm sure I looked more than a little insane stomping my way down the street in men's size 11 shoes, and I'm equally sure said roommate really appreciated what that did to his spikes) but I'm not an active menace. Anyway, all this is to say that I don't need him here for weather issues as much as I need someone to help contain the threat to the homeland.
I have more words for "my children are driving me to the Betty" than the Eskimos do for ice
The girls do not do well in captivity. Even my eminently responsible AD - who started the morning by making biscuits from scratch and doing all the laundry (no shit. I know, right?) was chafing by noon. Both of them have been especially frustrated that this storm didn't bring fun, fluffy snow - in our neck of the woods it's just sleet. They refused to believe that this wasn't the kind of thing you wanted to play in so I let them go outside and figure it out for themselves; after about 45 seconds of heaving drippy ice at one another they gave up and came back in. I'm hoping that was a small enough window of outside exposure that the neighbors couldn't tell that I was too lazy to find the RM's gloves so I just shoved oven mitts on her, which she demanded AD put away for her the minute she got inside. Poor AD tries so hard to be helpful and sweet and entertain her sister, but it's tough to do when there's only so much you can do with a three-year-old. Especially this one - the RM has been going through a terribly tedious helpless phase lately and has "I can't DOOOO it!" running on a loop. You name it, it is simply outside her skillset. Open a banana? Oh good heavens, no. Fold that piece of paper? The hell with that. Forget anything as sophisticated as Chutes and Ladders with her big sister, never mind the fact that she was the Gary Kasparov of that shit two weeks ago. All the RM wants lately is for people to do things for her, and with a smile on your face too - "be HAPPY at me that you're zipping this pant!". She's the welfare queen of Birchwood Drive, as if I need that.
I should also let you know that the RM recently informed us that she's now "Murray"; we don't know why but since it makes no less sense than anything else she does we're rolling with it. I do know we don't care for Murray. In spite of her evident helplessness, Murray woke me up this morning by trying to stick my hair in a glass of orange juice she somehow poured herself; she then woke her sister when she tried to insert her big toe into her nostril. When I scolded her, she said "oh fucks! Fine, homie." because Murray has a poorly developed potty mouth, and then proceeded to paint the shower floor with an entire tube of toothpaste, flush 2 of AD's biscuits and cut the tops off of my papyrus plant. I know you're probably thinking I should keep a better eye on her but let's be honest, I have obligations - that candy certainly isn't going to crush itself. I could plant her in front of some sort of electronic and let her zone out, but part of me feels that Sofia the First is just a crutch and if the iPad comes out then the terrorists have won. Plus I really should endeavor to mold Murray into a productive child with appropriate creative outlets and skills to help contribute to the family, right? Let's just say Murray is not entirely on board with this philosophy. This was a real-time reaction to "take the Christmas tree ornament and bottle of nail polish out of your panties and clean up your room" this morning.

"I can't DOOOOO it!" Murray has issues. I really should have AD figure out how to deal with that; we should have plenty of time as I just received an email telling us that school is closed again tomorrow. Oh fucks.


Monday, January 27, 2014


It's been a rough couple of months over here. For one thing (if you can use a throwaway term like "for one thing" on something so major) my mother died a few weeks ago. I may or may not write about that once I decide if it actually happened, but I can say it has been terrible and wonderful and all over the place. Losing her has been gutting - although I need to think of a better word than "lost" when it comes to Mom since that makes me feel like if I just pull up the couch cushions I'll find her; I did that yesterday (for unrelated reasons. I'm not a total idiot.) and only came up with a Barbie shoe, a dry marker and the X from the RM's alphabet puzzle. Anyway I think this must be somewhat how it feels to lose a limb because in a lot of ways I have to figure out how to live differently. Learn to do basic things without her here. Mom was sick for a while and we knew full well it would suck when she died, but of course we really only got that in the abstract. Sort of like when you hear "war is hell" and you're all, you bet, sure is, but then you actually go to war and then it's "wait just a second...war IS hell! Get me out of here!" Yes, this is fucking awful! You weren't kidding! On the other side of it, the many kindnesses my family and I have received from friends and even people we barely know has been staggering. I simply don't deserve it so I know it's nothing but a tribute to Mom.

So we were in the red there for a bit when it comes to grandmothers but we're even again. This is because the Red Menace has been shopping around for personalities and has finally settled on grouchy old granny. This child is three going on ninety. AD was such an easy, sunny kid so it's been an adjustment; of course we know all children are different, but I thought my girls would be separated by eye color or sense of humor, not four generations. I half expect her to start reminiscing about WWII rationing, or yelling at me to get off her lawn. The kid gripes about EVERYTHING. And forget about trying to get her to leave the house. It doesn't matter where we are, she'd rather be home. We were at the beach this fall, unpacking after a long drive and looking forward to hitting the sand and all she can say is "it's time to go back home now. I want to go to my house." We'd been there an hour. JHP and I were discussing this and we think we can pinpoint the day her new persona settled in for good. We'd seen glimpses, sure, but I think the day she decided to own it was when we took the girls to Stone Mountain. You can say it was JV of us to go to Stone Mountain in the first place, but you'd only be half right because AD loved it. Loved it. Nerded out about it all and told us all kinds of stats about what kind of mountain it is, how big, etc. On the other end of the spectrum, I give you our younger one
The whole time. And then when we finally gave in to her demands and came home, she tried to eat a pen.

Which is actually kind of good news, because normally that kid won't eat a damn thing; we suspect she survives on photosynthesis and pollution. Food is another area that she's just been a Russian nesting doll of unpleasant about. "No. That, I don't like. All day I don't like that." about everything. Stuff she's never seen or tried before, stuff she loves - you name it, you'll have to hear about how much she doesn't like it, and for how long. She doesn't even like macaroni and cheese. What kid doesn't like macaroni and cheese? I'll tell you: none. Ergo, old lady. I should see if she'll try tomato aspic or jello salad with pineapple rings, that might be right up her alley. AD at this point was eating everything - sushi, Thai, salsa - stuff that the mere mention of will send the RM into a horrified fugue state. You'd cause less offense by serving ribs at a Bar Mitzvah.
There are few things that do not bring this child consternation. We took her to the Children's Museum in Memphis recently, for example, and did she play on the climbing tower or dress up or do an art project or anything normal? No. She went directly to this guy

I don't know who in the hell okayed this for a CHILDREN'S museum. This would not be okay in a Jeffrey Dahmer museum.
and berated him for "doing a very bad job brushing your theeth-es. Very bad!" She worked on him for over 30 minutes and then wanted to split. Just this weekend I took her to the Georgia Aquarium thinking surely she'd enjoy that, but almost immediately she started to bitch about this thing

for having a mean face at her. Then she yelled at the jellyfish to "PUT ON YOUR PANTIES, YOU" but that might have been kind of my fault because I'd seen the underside of a particularly alarming sawfish and may have said something similar. But still.

she has a point

She didn't exactly come away from the experience with a greater appreciation of life's wonders.

Even with her friends, this kid is a grump. We have afternoon carpool with her best friend, a precious little girl named Kate who is just the sweetest, happiest girl you'll ever know. I can't understand how Kate tolerates her because the RM just works her poor ass like you wouldn't believe. A typical conversation goes as follows:

RM: "Let's play I Spy. My turn MY TURN first. I spy something pink."
Me: "No ma'am, let Kate go first. Let's have nice manners."
RM: "Fine. Kate go."

K: "I spy something pink."
RM: "My pants. I win!"
K: "no, that's not it. Another pink."
K: "No, sweetie, it's something else that's pink. In the front seat."
RM: "that front seat there is not pink. My PANTS are pink. MY TURN. Give me your Dora ring."

It's like listening to the Snuggle bear argue with Ellen Corby, if they were both recent immigrants and had yet to fully master sentence structure.

She is exhausting. I guess it's nice to know that the universe always somehow balances out; when God shuts the door on one grandmother, he opens the window on another. Too bad I kind of want to toss this one out. I'm about to go pick her up from school...I'll let you know if she greets my radio selections with a "that's not music, that's just noise!"


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Holiday Issues

I don't know if it's the abbreviated holiday schedule or what, but I am really off lately. I've been incredibly absent-minded and seem to have almost completely lost my short-term memory - I should probably start smoking a lot of pot because I already have the bad side effects down like a Rastafarian surfer. Just today for example I couldn't remember where I'd left my iPad until I went to mail the water bill, and there it was in the mailbox. Sure. Anyway a lot of it, I think, comes from the fact that I'm just not a very good adult and nothing hammers that point home like the holidays. I LOVE the holidays - make no mistake; normally you won't find me in a better mood than during that Halloween-Christmas window. It's just that I realize now that I'm much better at doing all that stuff as a kid than I am as a parent. I can KILL it at trick-or-treating, for example, but trying to organize a fancy Halloween for my kids makes me feel as if I'm under siege. Fortunately they've made the costume part pretty easy on me which is something I can almost never say about them. AD always wants to be some version of a cat - a cat witch, a cat devil, a cat ghost, etc. - and the Red Menace has wanted to be the same thing for the past two years in a row which works because she's grown not one bit since last year so the costume still fits fine. The costume of choice is a pink octopus which was terribly cute last year but a source of a good bit of stress for me this year as she told everyone "I have eight testicles. EIGHT of them. And I will SPANK you with them all." 95% of the time she said this she was out of costume, so it was more alarming than humorous. We got some seriously panicky looks at the grocery store, especially because she has as of late begun to address me as either "Friend" or "Cedric". Lots of "Cedric! CEDRIC. Buy me those Little Bites there or I will spank you with my testicles! ALL EIGHT TESTICLES WILL BE SPANKING YOU HERE. Little Bites!"
Octopi love pizza. It's very good for their testicles.
I've gotten a bit lucky with the candy part too - our house is off the main drag of the neighborhood that's super-popular with trick-or-treaters, so I can usually get away with leaving the porch light on and putting a salad bowl filled with candy on the steps. One of the biggest adjustments about moving here was how this absentee Halloween landlord approach is actually acceptable; try that in DC and someone would take all the candy and drop a deuce in the bowl, at the very least. Of course, we did live in a part of town where 18 year olds would trick-or-treat at 11pm and ask you for cigarettes instead of candy, but still, it's been a big leap of faith.
Thanksgiving is usually pretty easy, but that's been tricky of late too; I think that started two years ago when we were at my parents' in Memphis. We were eating breakfast when my dad said "look at me and smile". I did, or tried to, anyway, and he says "kid, you've got Bell's Palsy." Half of my face had become almost entirely paralyzed, literally overnight. It wasn't painful or anything (and it certainly did wonders for my Sylvester Stallone impersonation) but one of the main symptoms is that you lose your sense of taste - something I didn't fully realize until JHP took me out to get sushi. If there's a more unpleasant sensation than eating raw fish without being able to discern any flavor, I don't want to know about it; it verged on the pornographic. Fortunately Bell and her palsy got the hell out of dodge after a few weeks, but Thanksgiving began to look snakebit nonetheless. Mom was on chemo the following year and not able to be around my little germboxes, so we stayed in Atlanta and I had to COOK. Can you believe how selfish that woman is? This year brought more chemo and another depressed immune system...and worst of all, a full week of school vacation. Apparently the trend is for schools to give the kids the whole week instead of just the Wed-Fri deal, which also means the trend is for me to day drink. By Tuesday afternoon I was ready to sell the kids for parts. I got some respite after finding ice skating on tv - both girls were all over it - but that bit me in the ass when the RM started canvassing strangers on their skating abilities. "YOU. Can you ice skate? I'M the best skater. That twisting I can do, in my Cinderella dress." It should be noted she's never, ever been ice skating. She tried to bring me in on it, too: "Friend, you tell that lady I am a great ice skater. Friend! I should be in a CONTEST." Exhausting. As if the endless public humiliation wasn't enough, my cooking didn't turn out that well this year either. I made the mistake of trying to make the potato dish a little healthier, which in retrospect is just flat un-Christian. The girls helped me make all the desserts so they all ended up tasting like hands, which turned out to be fitting since the turkey tasted like feet. I fled to Houston's on Friday and self-medicated with two orders of spinach dip.
With this under my belt I'm getting a little nervous about Christmas. Traditionally that's been the easiest holiday, which I guess is ironic considering how much more prep goes into it, but we've had a few hiccups that lead me to believe I've got to shake my recent incompetence (not to mention incontinence...I got sucked into "Damn You Autocorrect" last week and laughed so hard I tinkled a little bit, but that's neither here nor there) and man up. A few years ago, for example, I was home for Christmas in Memphis and found this
You will be forgiven for not immediately being able to wrap your mind around the fact that this is an entire fingernail in a stick of butter. And a disco metallic one, at that; Donna Summer left the cake out in the rain, and someone left a nail in the butter. After a very confusing week we finally figured out that my parents' housekeeper was the culprit, in spite of the smart money being on Dad. That cast a weird pall over the holiday for me. I kind of felt like I was being filmed. Of course, Christmas is more about children - those damned children! - so recent years have been more focused on the girls. Specifically, scaring them as best as I could. AD has never really had a Santa issue, but imagine how thrilled we were to discover the RM certainly did. We got this
and the following year brought this bit of holiday joy
This year's photo session began with great promise, too. Here she is catching a glimpse of her tormentor
but out of nowhere, something went terribly, terribly awry because then this happened
which makes me think this might be a really shitty Christmas. In an effort to counterbalance this, I've gone a bit cliché and had AD's Elf on the Shelf do some really awful things. Nothing cute and relatively harmless like spilling food on the counter, I'm aiming for inducing night terrors; so far he's stolen both her bike and her allowance money, and drew a bloody knife and REDRUM on her dresser mirror.

If I'm going to screw up the holiday season for my children I should at least do it with a sense of purpose rather out of plain old stupidity. Now I've got to go fetch my car keys out of the silverware drawer and go pick them up from school.



Monday, November 18, 2013


So I haven't written anything in a while. To be perfectly honest, I'm coming out of a painful breakup and haven't really felt up to it. It was a pretty intense relationship that ended quite abruptly so I've been a little unmoored. It started innocently and unexpectedly - at the gym, of all places. I was on the treadmill, distracting myself from the naked shittiness of running by watching HGTV...and there he was, ripping out drywall with his bare hands. I'd stumbled upon one of those home improvement show marathons and found the man of my dreams. Our connection was immediate, deep and sacred. Granted, the television was on closed captioning mode so we didn't get in to a lot of details - I'm not certain of the name of the show, for one thing - Property Brothers, Cousins Properties, Undercover Cousins, something - or of his name (I know it's not Anthony, that was the other guy, the duskier fellow), but some things just don't need to be said. We didn't need all that noise to know that our love was real. Not Anthony wasn't just good for my exercise regimen and terribly handy around the house (a huge plus considering JHP isn't even capable of looking a hammer in the eye), but sensitive, thoughtful and deliberate. He drove all the way to Newark (I'm pretty sure) to pick up the exact chandelier a client wanted, and who could forget that time he hand-cured that dining room table until 2am? With a hair dryer? At least I think that's what he was doing. Child, please - you couldn't split us up with a crowbar, not Not Anthony and me. Things were going really well...too well. In retrospect I think he got too comfortable, yes, maybe I even let him take my love for granted, because his judgment started slipping. I have to be honest, he started making some choices that I was flat-out not okay with. Pickled cabinetry? You might as well spray-paint "1991" across them and tack up a Nelson poster. I can't work with that. And then came the death knell - the moment I knew we were broken not bent, we couldn't learn to love again, no!

I cannot - WILL not - abide a pre-molded hot pink wall. This is not RuPaul's Airstream trailer fiberglass bathroom, this is a kitchen. A kitchen, Not Anthony.

It was over.

More than anything I feel very disappointed in myself; I usually have better judgment when it comes to my love life. Even at young age I had things pretty well in hand. When Shaun Cassidy and I first got together in 3rd grade, for example, I saved my allowance money for dog years so I could bribe Claire Jones a whole dollar to let me wear her white satin jacket with the giant iron-on of his face on the back. I knew that's what he would want. We had some happy years, too, Shaun and me; sure, there was a little bit of tension with Will Marshall from "Land of the Lost", and okay, maybe a couple of weekend flings with Randolph Mantooth and Lt. Starbuck, but really, that only made us stronger as a couple. While my friends were snowed by Chachi's charm or going the intellectually lazy route with Vinnie Barbarino (one spectacularly misguided friend of Cslos' even had a thing for Geoge Burns, which just feels fetishy), I stuck with Shaun.

I took this picture on our anniversary trip to Catalina. He gave me an Easy Bake Oven...I gave him the best night of his life, and a hickey that made the papers
Unfortunately, even true love can be tested when a grueling tour schedule just doesn't work with middle school; inevitably, we parted. It was time and we both knew it. Shaun was too consumed with the rock and roll lifestyle while I craved stability. The uncertain challenges of eyeliner and 7th grade cotillion - not to mention the pounding stress of trying to talk my mother into letting me get a perm - was too much as it was. And, as if on cue, who strolls into my life but my rock, Abe Carver. We met shortly after he investigated Anna Brady's claims of being sold into white slavery and I was immediately taken with his quiet confidence. 
don't EVEN

It was an enriching relationship for both of us; he knew I wasn't going to get caught up in any Aremid wedding drama or steal Bo and Hope's baby like that roundheels wife of his, and I knew with his background he could probably help me with math, and eventually traffic laws. Abe wasn't much for nonsense, and that was just what I needed. He and I ended up staying together for quite some time. To be honest what kept us together wasn't passion as much as it was comfort; I think it's precisely our lack of sexual heat that has enabled us to stay close to this day. JHP isn't at all threatened - to the contrary, I think he's pleased to have someone that will keep me occupied while he watches basketball. That being said, I can only get so much out of an imaginary platonic relationship - I want more. I want imaginary fire; someone to really pine for, with or without the volume on, who may or may not even be heterosexual. I have needs, folks. Real, imaginary needs.

I don't know where that leads me; all I can do is soldier on and keep an open heart. I suppose I'm lucky because I did leave my relationship with Not Anthony knowing one thing for sure, and that thing is never try to do electrical repair work without the help of a professional. And also: fuck running. Two incredibly valuable life lessons! Anyway, keep me in mind if you come across anyone. I have a lot of pretend love to give.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Some ID, Please

Over the course of the last few months my children have developed full-on alternate personalities. AD waffles between being her sweet, innocent eight-year-old self and a teenage stoner who says shit like "chill out, Elise. Man! YOLO, ya know? YOLO." The RM meanwhile looked into my soul to find what would most hurt me and thus decided that she would now like to be addressed as "Surfin' Barbie" ("surFIN! NO ING!"), have pink hair and get rescued by a "prinztle" who will kill aaaaall the bugs. She's informed me that in her secret life she eats her green beans, so she doesn't have to do it for me. I have had some experience with alternate realities so while I don't like it, I get it. For most of my high school career, for example, I was known to attendees at Memphis Pyramid events as "Elsie Higned" thanks to the misspelled commemorative brick in front of the entrance. I decided that Elsie started an underground newspaper in Johannesburg, drove a Karmann Ghia just like the one in "Pretty In Pink" and had a boyfriend named Ned who wasn't afraid to cry and sent her flowers every week. Cslos, for her part, was evidently a black dude as she was at one point recruited by the African-American men's school Benjamin Banneker School of Technology; this is too much to swallow because in no universe is she technologically inclined. Coincidentally I've also been thinking lately about what my true identity must be; going through my old stuff in the attic has made me question a few things.

In an effort to regain some sort of control over life, I've been cleaning out the house. We've gotten to the tipping point - we now have more stuff than places to put it all, so things are going. Initially I was selling some of it on a neighborhood exchange board, but that became so consuming that I had to stop. I was turning into an asshole anti-Oskar Schindler, snatching toys out of my children's hands and wailing "two dollars! I could get TWO DOLLARS for this!" as I staggered to the computer, so I've started donating the good stuff and tossing the not-so-good like a more decent human being. Anyway, during this process I've discovered that we have a clutter problem because - spoiler alert! - none of us seem capable of throwing away a single damn thing. I get that we'd want to hang on to favorite books or old letters, but why have I felt the need to hang on to a Northwest Airlines paper luggage tag listing an address I haven't even visited since 1998? That's not exactly a valuable piece of my personal narrative. And the clothes are just terrible - even if I could ever again fit into my circa 1991 Adrienne Vittadini turquoise dress emblazoned with giant fleur-du-lis, should I? Should anyone? That just seems irresponsible. Unfortunately, my housecleaning efforts have also turned up a lot of old pictures chronicling some of my more unwise choices; apparently, for example, I was someone who wore overalls. With Chuck Taylor low-tops. I guess I felt the need to be ready to go should Dexie's Midnight Runners need an extra for one of their music videos. Even this relatively recent picture is just so terribly damning
I can't believe I have no memory at all of attending nursing school
White hose? White fucking hose? Well, they may be awful looking, but at least they're terribly unflattering. Why not just go full frontal ugly and get the Downtown Brown Baloney Legs look? I don't want to be this person. This whole walk down memory lane makes me feel like I need to reach out to everyone I ever met and just apologize. Especially to this bit of canned heat
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. Rrrrrowwwww!

 He's my absolute favorite cabinet member of all time (and yes, I realize how incredibly dorky that sounds, believe me) and finding this picture in an attic box made me remember that I used to treat this man like shit. Yes, I know I was young and irresponsible, but that doesn't change the fact that hurtful things were said! Yes! I never should have let him take me to Cabo, that didn't help anything! Actually the truth is that I was always seriously enamored with Secretary Reich, but once I met him and realized how terribly serious he is - not to mention the size of a medium cactus - I gave him an alternate reality too. In my world, since he was the size of a child he behaved as such. My friend J and I got endless amounts of amusement out of this; you were late to work? It was probably because you got stuck on Connecticut Ave. behind Itty Bitty Baby Bobby Reich on his Big Wheel. I heard Itty Bitty's coming to the Hill today for the budget hearings - do you think he'll wear his hard-soled shoes with his big boy pants, or will his mom make him wear a John-John? Questioning better be to his liking or he'll throw applesauce at Sen. Exon! And did you see the Sesame Street hand puppet he wore to his swearing-in? Really respectful.
The only thing that's made me feel better about how heinous I am is that JHP is evidently almost as unappealing; the attic has yielded an awful cache indeed. He's had his own share of fashion missteps for sure; I've seen physical and photographic evidence of an intense sweater vest phase, for one thing, and found a karate uniform that made me feel as if he and I had never actually been introduced. If JHP actually at some point knew karate then Cslos is getting a freaking full ride to Benjamin Banneker. And don't get me started on the (blessedly small) collection of fraternity mock turtlenecks I stumbled upon. Do you know why they're called mock turtlenecks? Because they mock you for marrying a jackass. You are publicly labeled by three Greek letters your spouse wore that translate roughly to "I'm With Stupid". What has to take the cake though is a power ballad he wrote in high school - I found a sheet of paper with a full set of lyrics and the title "Why Must It Come To This?" Oh to be so cursed to be a child of privilege ensconced in a private school in Houston! On the subject of music I also found a case full of cassette tapes that would stand alone as Exhibit A in any divorce court in the country. Vangelis? "Your honor, we hereby grant full custody of the two minors to their mother. Ahh, ahem, strike that, she wants neither Surfin' Barbie nor Paulie Shore."
To be honest all this makes me thankful that JHP and I somehow found each other, overalls, karate, bad taste and worse behavior be damned. And it also makes me weep for the children - our children - of such a sketchy union. They don't have any reasonable hope of being normal human beings, which I guess means they're right where they should be. Surfin' Barbie's going to hop on her Big Wheel, throw applesauce and be on her way while AD finds some kine bud. Why must it come to this? I think we know.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hilarity Did Not Ensue

As you may have picked up from recent posts, the Red Menace has been a touch of a handful as of late. For the last 3 1/2 years, actually, but she's really doubled down these past few months. Monday was a career highlight for her; we were getting ready to go to school and she somehow managed to take a header out of her car seat into the driveway. I still don't know exactly what happened - I was moving a case of Trader Joe's wine (shut up) out of the back seat to make room for carpool when all of a sudden I hear shrieking. Fortunately she mostly landed in the yard but the poor kid still banged her noggin up pretty good on the concrete and was bleeding like a stuck pig; she and I both looked like something out of "Carrie" by the time I got her inside the house. Because my children tend to handle big stuff well and save the serious dramatics for things that don't at all matter ("that is the WRONG PLATE!", "this shirt has a tag!", that sort of thing) she calmed down pretty quickly, so I checked her out, got the bleeding to stop and cleaned both of us up. This was no mean feat given that the blood had soaked all the way through my bra, but we still made it out the door and to school on time. I get a phone call maybe 15 minutes later - or however long it takes to report someone to DFCS, I'm assuming - from the RM's teacher: "um, no, you need to take this child to the hospital...." so I very shamefacedly headed back to school and picked her up.
oh my heavens, you shouldn't have! No, really...well, alright. Gosh. Thanks!
In my defense, I come by this failure to panic honestly - both my parents are known far and wide (or at least to my sister and me) as truly pitiless creatures. Cslos and I learned early on that if we went to my father with a cut or bruise his immediate response would not be to check it out and make sure that we were okay, but to instead feign sympathy until he could get close enough to really mash on it and then run away laughing. And this man is a physician. Mom is even worse. I remember one time when Cslos was two years old and fell off of her bed; Mom gave her a quick once-over, decided she was fine and went about her day. When Dad came home later that evening Mom casually mentioned "oh, the little one cut her head this morning...". Dad took one look at Cslos's scalp and said "you've been letting this child walk around all day with her skull exposed." So yeah, by those standards I'm damn Florence Nightingale.
Anyway, off to the Emergency Room we went. The RM was confused and concerned about why she had to leave school but perked right on up when she realized she was going to get to meet a bunch of new people. This wasn't a hospital, it was a fresh crowd - the Catskills to her Shecky Greene. Plus she got to play with my iPad - what's not to love? As soon as the doctor came in to check her out, the RM starts "first of all, I'm a girl, not a boy. I don't really like boys. Although Daddy's a boy, and I like him mostly, and also Papa and there's also a mister man at Publix I like who gives me some balloon." "Aha," says the doctor, "and how do you feel?" "Well, I will tell you I had a tummy ache yesterday but I had a poo-poo and I felt better. A big poo-poo. A POND of poo-poo. Frogs don't live in a pond of poo-poo, that would be gross." And so on. Throughout the course of our significant stay, she also informed the staff that her father has lots of gas (TRUE), I am in a circus (NOT TRUE, technically) and she has a dog named Sweet Cherry Pie (NOT TRUE and KIND OF GROSS).

She was fine. No concussion, no stitches - just a little bit of skin glue and she was good to go.
she went ahead and got a little Botox while she was there. Never too early to start with the fillers if you want to avoid the Like Perry forehead, I say
I was enormously relieved that she was fine and that I wasn't going to have to explain to her teachers why I'd tried to dump a kid with a fractured skull at school - merely a flesh wound. That can't be worthy of criminal charges. She was nonplussed. The only time she got even remotely upset was when her hospital bracelet became a bit unwound. Typical RM. She stopped fussing when I told her we could go to Publix and get some balloon from a mister man. I stopped fussing when I got home and got into that case of TJ's wine. Shut up.