Archive for October, 2006

Halloween

Halloween disappointment: a brief photo essay.


Fresh from the factory, the candy hangs its hope on going home with the right child. Not just any child! Not one who will stuff its creamy sweetness without tasting it! And certainly not the strange-looking young man up the street wearing the hula skirt and shoveling in Charleston Chews like leaves in a bag, no! Charlie Bucket! It waits for Charlie Bucket, yes! Unfortunately, Charlie doesn’t come, leaving the candy with no one but J & A, who both hate Bottle Caps and loathe Charleston Chews, and who are now stuck with 11,000 pounds of them.


Boo! I said BOO! Christ, is anyone out there?


The pumpkin costume cries, its promise of being stuffed with chubby pug legs unfulfilled, as the pug in question screamed with the screams of a thousand shucked oysters at the very presence of the pumpkin.

To put it mildly, Halloween was a crushing disappointment, and I’d like to point out that historically, this is why the holiday has always let me down. Like New Year’s Eve, Halloween is always fraught with anticipation and wonder that cannot possibly be satisfied. And every year, I have been cautious in my preparations, choosing to remain cynical instead of overly hopeful, ensuring that my expectations were as low as humanly possible and therefore, I would always be pleasantly surprised with whatever happened! Yes!

But no. Alas, I was crushed. Crushed! I had such high hopes! Soaring expectations of unprecedented numbers of trick-or-treaters and adorable costumes and hijinks! Tricks! Treats! I decorated, for chrissake. Right now, there is a six-foot hanging witch dangling from my garage, and a giant pumpkin that says WELCOME! in big WELCOMING GODDAMN LETTERS. And a battery-powered ghost glitters from the window! A GHOST. (See above. Fancy, non?) And we haven’t even covered the jack-o-lantern, which is all…jack-o-lanterny and ominous in our office window, acting all ghoul-y and shit.

I went out to Walgreen’s at 5 o’clock tonight in a cold panic, because OH MY GOD we were going to run out of candy like last year and THEN WHAT? (Also, this trip included an ill-advised purchase of a Tweezerman blackhead extractor, and if you were ever wondering, it does not work. As in, you would have to have blackheads the size of quarters to actually get any extracting done. Use your fingers like everyone else.)

We got all excited. We ate dinner early. We sat in the driveway like everyone else, eagerly anticipating the mad rush of adorable trick-or-treaters and their cheerful parents. And then….

Silence. Silence…oh wait! I can hear the raging party across the street being held by adults in provocative costumes that include: a sexy ninja, a sexy pirate, a sexy witch and also, the obligatory sexy French maid. *yawn*

And more silence.

Sad.

And so, my most memorable Halloween remains Halloween 2004. The Red Sox had won the World Series, my best friend was throwing a party, and I was going to celebrate! With bourbon. Which accidentally turned into more than half a bottle of bourbon, to be specific, which left me so drunk I told one of our friends that his fiancee “terrified me to the very core,” fell down the stairs, and walked in on a very deep conversation between my husband and a strange guy just in time to hear him say, “No no, don’t be afraid. Marriage is great- really great. Except for times like these when she’s being a drunken pain in the ass, and I can’t stand to be around her, my God. But don’t let that scare you!”

This was after I told some kids that I later learned were high school students who crashed the party some very inappropriate things involving what sort of escapades (sexual and non) they should and should not be partaking in that I can’t even repeat. Oh and also, I was serving them alcohol with my own two hands. I did not realize this until several days later.

Later, apparently nearing an inability to stand – oh oh, and also, around 11 p.m., because I started early, like around 6 – I insisted that we depart IMMEDIATELY, and proceeded to bark drunken and entirely inaccurate directions to avoid a detour on the Mass Pike, getting us three kinds of lost and also, in a major argument, because while I was drunk and HAPPY to be lost with my head out the window like a Labrador, Adam was sober, and not pleased, not pleased at all to be circling the Prudential Center for the fiftieth time. Especially not with a screaming, drunk wife who was suddenly threatening to puke in the car. Also, a wife who started slurring repeatedly:

“Are you mad at me? I know where I’m going! TRUST ME. I LOVE YOU, HONEY.”

“No. I want to go home. Just relax. Where are we?”

“Oh my GOD, you’re mad at me. YOU. ARE. MAD. AT. ME. WELL, FUCK YOU THEN! FUCK YOU! I WON’T TELL YOU WHERE TO GO.”

I stewed for a moment.

” WAIT WAIT, NO I LOVE YOU. I’M SORRY. BUT FUCK YOU ANYWAY, BECAUSE YOU’RE MAD AT ME. I LOVE YOU. FUCK YOU.”

Drunken angry logic at its finest. We circled the Prudential Center 11 more times while I screamed more obscenities at him and, God bless him, he didn’t open the car door and throw me into Back Bay to freeze to death, which is more than I can say for myself if I were in that situation.

I threw up the entire next morning, and just when I thought it couldn’t get any more miserable, I heard Adam yelling from the bedroom, “I WOULD LIKE YOU TO KNOW THAT THE SOUND OF YOU PUKING IS MUSIC TO MY EARS. ENJOY!”

I had not been drunk like that since college. And I have not been drunk like that since. And sadly, that was my most memorable Halloween ever. I hope yours was better.

*Siouxsie and the Banshees, Dead Kennedys, Sonic Youth, Dave Matthews, and likely 100 more. You pick.

28 comments October 31st, 2006

Freak on a Leash

We’ve got ants again, and while for normal people, ants wouldn’t be enough to elicit the unreasonable levels of panic, wonder and bald-faced terror we’re currently experiencing, it’s important to remember that this time last year, we were plagued with our first ant invasion. I don’t want to live through that again, because GAH, they were everywhere, and by everywhere, I mean they were in my pants (MY PANTS) and in my bed (MY BED). And one morning, I actually woke up with two ants crusted in my hair (MY HAIR). In fact, just thinking about any sort of ants in my house is enough to cement me to the spot in which I happen to be standing, frozen in terror, save for a few wild motions with my hands to scratch my head because my God, there could be ants in there, history has proven it.

I found them swarming on a stray piece of dog kibble left underneath Sunny’s feeding station like it was the only piece of kibble for miles. One piece of kibble – ONE – and suddenly we’re living an episode of canine Fear Factor, and I’d like to turn in her life vest and turn down the challenge on her behalf because we do not eat bugs in this house, how many times do I have to say it?

Speaking of hair, I neglected to mention that we left the dog with a new camp counselor this weekend, as her last one decided she could no longer tolerate her advances towards her precious little Maltese, and to that I say whatever, you wimpy little purse dog. So she spent the weekend at the home of another woman, which was awesome, as Sunny loves her and she loves Sunny and roses, sunshine and blah doggity blah, yay, camp!

Not that it’s ever come up, but I am staunchly against feeding people food to the dog, especially when people food eaters, aka people (uh, wow), are eating, because there is nothing – nothing– worse than trying to shove down a bite of steak in front of sad, roving eyes or worse, grabby little paws grabbing all they can, including that last bit of mashed potato you were dying to finish. Because, you know, everything counts in large amounts, especially mashed potatoes. I might add that this belief was solidified by the fact that I failed to follow this rule with our cat, and as a result, ended up with him actually trying to steal food from my lips on multiple tuna-laden occasions. And also, there was that one really fun time that he stole a tomato saucy chicken finger out of the garbage and brought it into bed with me. I’ve learned my lesson.

So Anna. Anna the camp counselor! Anna is Mexican, and has a pretty strong accent that can be tough to understand sometimes, particularly when crackled over a mobile phone line, but even so, when I called to inquire about the well-being of our little darling, I swear Anna said, “And she loves my corn empanadas! Loves them!”

CORN EMPANADAS. PEOPLE FOOD, likely given while people are eating dinner. When I protested, I sensed some backpedaling and “I kid! HA!” and she didn’t repeat it and instead tried to distract me with some kind of wildly cute talk that involved Sunny and her six-month old daughter and I foolishly didn’t pursue the empanada discussion because Sunny and babies and googly oogly cuteness! Puppies! Babies! Ooh!

Fast forward to this morning, 6 a.m. (Because the pets don’t understand daylight savings time, the little fuckers, and there was screaming for breakfast beginning at 5, so help me God). First of all, what’s with all the neighborhood activity? There were at least 10 people out and about and being active, including an entire family of five in their front yard who was busy putting up Halloween decorations at 6 a.m., including a tombstone-like thing that talks in some sort of ominous voice, while skinny skeletal legs wiggle around and the theme from The Addams Family plays at a decibel level completely unsuitable for 6 a.m.

And it went off at precisely the moment when Sunny was pooping and it scared the shit out of both of us, and when Sunny gets scared while she’s pooping? Shit goes down. Or up, rather, because she kicks her legs like a bull getting ready to charge the red cape while she looks about nervously, and the debris goes flying everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE. And today that debris included grass and poop, which took a detour past my hair and landed in the crook of my arm, which also included corn, which meant that there were totally empanadas consumed on Anna’s watch. Thanks a bunch, Anna! My dinners will never be the same!

Also, this is not the first time poop has gone flying into my hair and body when she kicks like that. It happens about once every week, almost always in the mornings when I am too slow to catch on, and why God, why? And do any dog owners know how to stop the kicking?

*Korn. And here’s where I reveal how immature and small I actually am, because while I realize that poop humor is the lowest form of amusement, there are times when I just can’t help myself. One of the greatest moments in my friendship with my friend Erica was when we were discussing bad band names over IM, and one of us typed ‘Korn’ and instantly we were horrified, because you CANNOT think of Korn without thinking of corn poop, and we both knew it. KORN POOP.

21 comments October 30th, 2006

Driving South

My husband has learned to move on from a lot of the issues inherent in living with me. For example, he has accepted the fact that I fall – a lot. When we first started dating, he was quite romantic about it. I’d take a tumble, and he’d turn around to chase after me gallantly, calling, “Honey! Oh my God! Are you okay?” And of course, he’d pluck me up off the ground gently and rub my head, and hold my hand the rest of the journey to wherever it was we were going, peppering me with kind questions about my well-being, and whether or not I’d bruise later.

Not so much anymore. Now we’ll be walking together and I’ll disappear from his side completely – likely kissing the ground and/or plucking my heel from a grate that popped up out of nowhere – and he’ll turn only to say, very calmly, “Oh no. Please get up.” And then he’ll sigh very heavily, having barely broken his stride. And of course, I’m tottering quickly behind him, having extricated myself from wherever I happened to be stuck, dragging my handbag, and trying to straighten my clothes which have, on occasion, slipped off as I’ve desperately tried to right myself with my flailing arms.

I don’t mind his indifference and in fact, completely understand it – I mean, I walk into things almost hourly, and fall at least twice every day, although I rarely hurt myself, save for that one time in the stingray pool, and also that day that I was about to tumble directly into an open pit, which required Adam to grab my arm so hard to prevent me from falling that he left a hand-shaped bruise on my upper arm, and wasn’t THAT fun to explain at the event we had to attend where I wore a strapless dress two days later? There was a lot of, “Oh! Ha! It’s such a funny story, I almost fell into an open pit!” followed by several disapproving looks, which were ridiculous, as Adam is the gentlest person in the history of people, whereas I am the clumsiest.

Anyway, he’s been able to move beyond my clumsiness, along with about a frillion other shortcomings that hold the potential to embarrass, humiliate and otherwise denigrate him on a daily basis, just by the virtue of being married to me. But God, even with that hurdle crossed, we have not moved beyond the issue of my bladder. I have to pee a lot, and by “a lot,” I mean “every five minutes.” I’ve been to doctors, tried modifying my liquid intake, blah blah bladder blah, and I’m fine, but this just kills him – KILLS HIM – like my ailing bladder personally has it out for him, and is plotting all kinds of bladdery revenges for unknown transgressions.

This is particularly true on car rides, as illustrated by the drive away this weekend, where I had to pee no fewer than 11 minutes after I had last peed at a restaurant for reasons that are still completely unclear to both of us. Well, other than the fact that for the last week or so it’s been dry here, which has left me with an insatiable thirst that rivals that of a humpless camel stranded in the Mojave.

Incidentally, this overwhelming need to pee happened on one of those stretches of road where there isn’t anywhere to pee except for either the side of the road and/or one of those gas stations that offers little in the way of services except for a deep fryer, three overweight corrupt cops drinking coffee at a ratty formica bar, and maybe a clerk whose only known words are, “You sure do got a purty mouth!”

Which reminds me: do you know that once, while I was stuck in traffic on Route 128 outside of Boston, I actually saw a man pulled over on the side of the road POOPING next to his vehicle? And that he was actually squatting with his pants around his ankles reading the business section of the Boston Globe?

Anyway, to avoid a streetside peeing scenario, there was a lot of metaphorical pissing back and forth going on in the car about my bladder issue, which led me to defend myself with the only defense I could conjure, which was: “IT IS NOT MY FAULT. I AM NOT DOING IT ON PURPOSE.”

“Whose fault IS IT THEN? It’s YOUR BLADDER.” he hissed back.

And really, I don’t have an acceptable answer, other than I don’t think I should be held responsible for the actions of body parts that clearly refuse to heed my specific instructions (“Hold it for at least an hour. Love, Jonniker”).

And this is the longest-winded way ever of saying that the bladder issue was the worst thing that happened all weekend, which is to say that the weekend was pretty perfect. There was much lounging about in fluffy white robes, and I spent more time than should be legal in a bathtub which was actually located in front of a television, where I watched ungodly amounts of the Discovery Channel, TLC and other decadent pastimes, and read two of the lamest books ever (Jennifer Weiner and Patricia Cornwell. Shut up.)

Happy Monday to you.

*The Stone Roses

13 comments October 29th, 2006

Supper’s Ready

A strange phenomenon has taken over us this fall television season: we’ve overwhelmed ourselves with the amount of shows we want to watch, and television has become a chore.
Television as a chore. We need help.

“What’s on tonight?” one of us will ask. And inevitably, it’s not only that we have one or two shows on that night, but we are BEHIND two or three shows that we TiVo’d earlier in the week. And then we sigh heavily, like television is such a BURDEN on our otherwise peaceful lives, and if we didn’t have to watch that damn episode of Six Degrees, then we’d be off in the Sudan saving lives or something. Which means, naturally, that it’s time we simmered down on the television, and started making some cuts on the shows we watch. But it’s nearly impossible, I tell you, because every show as a standalone is pretty damn good. But feeling overwhelmed with all the television you HAVE to watch like it’s geometry homework is pushing the line of ridiculousness, even I can see that. And when you find yourself saying, “God, we have to watch Studio 60 during dinner, because we’re backed up on Heroes and Kidnapped! Go GO GO! HURRY! PICK UP DINNER NOW!” then maybe there is an invisible line that you’ve crossed somewhere, is all I’m saying.

Anyway, tonight during dinner (Subway! Classy! Turkey!), we watched Wheel of Fortune (classier!). And, of course, we got into a discussion about Vanna White. I argue that she is an irreplaceable institution and that The Wheel would be nothing without The Vanna (she has a Weird Al song! Vanna, bring me a letter!), while my husband contends that she could easily be replaced by any “young thing with big boobs,” given its usual brainless audience who can’t see past The Boobs. Oh oh, and he also contends that her salary is roughly $150K, which I SCOFF AT, because honestly. It’s VANNA.

I promise, I have a point, and strangely, it involves Wheel of Fortune and Adam’s grandmother.

My husband’s grandmother was such an influence on me from the moment I met her. I wish you could have known her, honestly, for I never met anyone so sassy and full of life – unlike anyone I’d ever met. I never had grandparents growing up, and she filled a void I didn’t even know I had and we loved each other almost instantly. And even though she did announce to the world that I had my period the first time we met, I have never felt so welcome in anyone’s home as I did hers. There are days that I wake up and I actually can’t believe she’s gone, and I think about her every day, honestly. Every day. You would too, if you knew her, for I can’t explain how magnetic she was, even into her 80s.

One day last year, while we were going through a rough patch – this was at the height of my depressive misery, and I’d just been quasi-laid off from my job, only to be rehired a week later as if nothing had happened – we were mulling over the status of our lives, and how much things had changed from what we expected.

We sat around and talked about how no matter what, we had an obligation to ourselves and to our relationship to make the best of things, because life was just never going to be what we planned. We talked about Grandma – who had died about a year earlier – and how she lived her life so damn happily all the time, making the best of things no matter what came her way. We specifically remembered that she was always saying things like, “The possiblilities are endless, Jauners!” and laughed at the way she said it. She always called me “Jauners” in her old-school Newton accent, and she always told me to buck up, smile and make the best of everything. I’m not kidding when I tell you that woman brought her sass and ribald sense of humor to everything, including her time spent in a nursing home while she slowly died of cancer. We figured that she was probably happy that I was getting out of that job and moving on with our lives together, and that I’d be spending more time with Addy (to this day, she is still the only person who could get away with calling him that).

It all came to a strange head near the end of the conversation – Wheel of Fortune was on in the background, and just as we finished the conversation, lost in thought about Grandma and what she’d think of us today, someone solved the puzzle. The answer was, I promise you: “The possiblities are endless.”

And there she was. I loved her so much.

Anyway, the point is that I was actually overwhelmed with requests (as in, more than two of you asked, and then I panicked because I am lazy) for the kugel I made the other night, and so I will post it here. This is handed down from Grandma’s mom, near as I could make out from her scrawly handwriting and applying the powers of vague pudding logic. The only thing I ask is that if you make it, you thoroughly enjoy every bite, and that you remember that the possiblities really are endless. And then go out and have a damn good time after you eat it, because life is never long enough, and I’m pretty sure Grandma would be the first to tell you that.

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Ingredients:
16 oz. (1 package) cottage cheese
16 oz. (1 package) sour cream
1 cup sugar
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 pkg. (12 oz.) egg noodles, cooked, rinsed and drained

2 Tbsp. cinnamon sugar to top (Optional. Grandma didn’t, I did. I think she understands.)

FYI, I also added a sprinkle of cinnamon to the whole cheesy buttery eggy mixture, despite Adam’s protests that his Grandma and his great-grandmother were “rolling over in their graves,” and it was great.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix all ingredients except noodles and cinnamon sugar until well blended. Stir in the cooked noodles.

Spoon into 13×9-inch baking dish; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour (I found it closer to one hour, as my husband likes the noodles crispy on top) or until center is set. Cool at least 30 minutes, and personally, I like it refrigerated, when it’s fully set and easy to cut.

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I hope you have a great weekend. For my part, I will be away at a fancypants spa a couple of hours away with my beloved hubs. Enjoy whatever it is you decide to do!

*Genesis, back when Peter Gabriel was there, of course. The greatest recording of theirs of all-time, if you ask me.

** Also, there are times in life when I fall in love with people or things all over again, and this week, there are two that stand out: One of them is the design of my website. If you’re ever wondering who did it and want her to do yours, the answer is Paige Maguire, who is so very gorgeous, smoking hot, and ridiculously talented. And also? She’s nice. Wicked nice.

This week (well, every week), I am also madly in love with Lawyerish. As in, I want to kiss her, hold her and take her home in a backpack and serve her kugel. And did you know she’s running a marathon? The New York Marathon, my God. And though she is talented and extremely well-trained, she deserves all the good thoughts you’ve got on November 5, because if you missed it, she’s running A GIANT MARATHON, OH MY GOD.

13 comments October 26th, 2006

Fishin’ 4 Religion

I feel fairly certain I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a special affinity for All Things Jewish. My last four boyfriends have been Jewish. I never really thought this was significant until I was almost relieved that I married a Jewish guy – it’s not that I married him because he was Jewish, but it happened to be a nice little side bonus. I like Jewish guys, Jewish people, Jewish culture, and I have no real tangible reason other than I have a strange sort of interest and attachment to the whole shebang. What’s completely bizarre is that I grew up in a town that had all of two Jewish people in it, and they were teachers that I didn’t particularly like. One of them was affectionately known as Slutty Whore Wilson, as she had a tendency to whore it up on school trips by giving random men the Eye of Lust and Also, Mad Sex. But that had nothing to do with being Jewish or not, but is indeed a random, pointless observation.

I think it all kicked off junior year when I was in our Very Serious high school production of Fiddler on the Roof. I was, if you were wondering, Fruma Sarah, a role that allowed me to run around, throw my hands up in the air and scream a whole lot. (“Pearls!” “Pearls!” “PEARLS!”) Because my knowledge of Judaism and conveniently, the Holocaust, was limited to vague references on television and by slutty teachers (my school didn’t mention it once, which is great, just great), I finally researched the hell out of the religion, and fell madly in love – not so much with the religion as with the concept of the culture, although I appreciate both. Then, of course, I went to college at a school that is somewhere in the range of 40% Jewish, and I started falling in love with Jewish guys, too, through sheer happenstance and some degree of statistical probablity.

And somewhere along the line, I have become strangely disappointed that I wasn’t born Jewish. The one blemish in my all-Jewish ex-boyfriend lineup was an ill-advised relationship with a blond Irish Catholic, and the second I realized what I was missing, I knew it just wouldn’t work out (I mean, not really. Or maybe. I actually met Adam while I was dating this man and within five seconds, knew I was going to marry him, broke up with the blond Irish Catholic and we’ve been together ever since.)

My unexplainable penchant for Jewish guys wasn’t without penalty – at least two boyfriends’ families did not want their precious boys dating a shiksa, and made their protests known plainly, loudly and at times, very rudely. While I have few regrets in life, one of them is not standing up for myself when an ex-boyfriend’s grandmother dressed me down in public for no other reason than she didn’t like me dating her grandson because I wasn’t Jewish. This woman who also refused to allow me into her home on a Jewish holiday (“Go find your own damn holidays and leave us alone!” Awesome). Instead of saying something to her (What the hell could I say? She was 85!), I stayed at his parents’ house in silence alone, while they all enjoyed a lovely celebration at her house a few miles away (I was visiting. VISITING. FROM ANOTHER STATE. And not allowed to go.). I’m still mad at myself for that one.

Another time, I walked in on another boyfriend’s sister telling her mother that she wouldn’t stand for her brother to continue to date a “classless goy” like me. And this was before the boxed Target wine, I swear. And actually, I’m pretty sure that sister just hated me (the feeling was mutual), and she knew that the only way to hate on me without looking like an ass was to pick on my religion. Anyway, all of those incidents (and there were more), always bothered me – still do when I think about it – because while I understand the desire to maintain the culture, and that in Judaism, the religion is passed down from the mother, it really hurt my feelings. I mean, my boyfriends didn’t care – hell, I knew more about Judaism than half of them, and most of them didn’t seem to have any desire to continue practicing. So, when they married a Jewish girl, they’d be ignoring Judaism more perhaps than they would if they married me, but with the proper pedigree intact. Not that I was marrying them, I’m just making a point. Feh. It just seemed like a low, manipulative blow, especially when delivered so coldly, even though there are likely many who will disgree with me.

Anyway, fast forward to today, and I did, indeed, marry a Jewish guy, and I now have a Jewish last name. However, despite my best efforts to assimilate, at almost every event where it comes up, I am instantly called out, “Well, Ms. X- I can tell you’re not Jewish! Who are you married to?” And I’m always disappointed, I don’t know why. Like I’ve failed again at not being Jewish enough, even though I’m not, and it’s not that important, and there is no way I could actually be Jewish. When we dropped the dog off at the dog sitter, she made it clear that she was Jewish, and was in part attracted to us because we were “Jews from Boston, omigod!” And then she took one look at me and said, “But you’re clearly not Jewish. However, you are! I knew it right away!” She squealed at my husband, rubbed his cheeks and I was jealous. I wanted Jewish cheek rubs.

Incidentally, I have never formally converted to Judaism, and have no intention to do so right now, lest I mislead you. My affection is mostly cultural, though I have an appreciation for the religion on many levels, and maybe that’s why Jewish grandmothers hated me so, and maybe rightly so. Our religious details aren’t really up for discussion at the moment, however, I would like to add that Adam’s family has been nothing but welcoming to me from the beginning, and there are some members of his family that I love so much I wish they were mine.

Anyway, this is a really long way of saying of all the things I love about the Jewish culture – and they are a legion – as with all things, food is my favorite. Knishes, stuffed cabbage, brisket, kasha varnishkas, gefilte fish – everything but matzo ball soup, in fact, and I don’t care who you are, eating sawdust gathered together in a giant ball is gross, just gross (I’m going to get stoned for that.) And while I’ve always wanted to learn how to make Jewish food, there was that little problem of not being able to cook standing in my kosher pickled way. Until now. Behold the kugel, made with my loving little mitts in anticipation of Thanksgiving:


It’s a bad photo, because my photography matches my cooking skills.

There are six eggs, two sticks of butter, a pound of sour cream, a pound of full-fat cottage cheese and more sugar than you want to know about in that heavy little noodle pudding. But , it’s delicious, and I DID IT, OH MY SWEET GOD. And if I don’t throw it away tomorrow, I am going to wake up in the middle of the night and rub my face in it, and maybe stuff some in my bra for later because if I didn’t mention it, it’s that good. And I will gladly hand down the recipe to anyone who wants to die an early Death By Cheesy Buttery Sweet Noodle, because it would be an honorable death, oh yes it would.

*Arrested Development. I love them. Don’t make fun.

26 comments October 24th, 2006

Promises in the Dark

I make a lot of small promises to myself as life goes on. I’d say 90% of them are completely broken – things like, “Oh dude, I will TOTALLY get up early tomorrow and then I will work out! Yes! I promise! EAT THE KUGEL NOW!” And then of course I don’t, but I have already eaten the kugel, and now, actually, I am wearing the kugel in the form of two saddlebags and maybe a paunch. But whatever.

One of the biggest categories of promises I make to myself involve what kind of parent I’ll be – or rather, what kind of person I’ll be as a parent (Navel-gaze much?). And while I have plenty to throw into the “Oh my God, my parents fucked that up and I’ll never do that” category, for the most part I had an awesome childhood with great parents who, by and large, did everything right. And I’m not fool enough to think that I won’t make dumb mistakes and also just plunk the goddamn kid in front of the television so that I can take a shower RIGHT FUCKING NOW OR DIE. (Because those people annoy me too. I’m not a mom and they annoy even me. I’m not sure how actual mothers deal with it. “No television until they’re 17!! Stunts their development, you know! Down with Baby Einstein!” Ugh. I’ll stunt your development, sister, with a Reef in your frontal lobe.)

God, where am I going with this? Ah, invalidation. That’s right. I promise myself to do my best not to invalidate the life or struggles of someone who is childless, just because they do not now, or choose not to ever, have a child. I can kind of feel parents rolling their eyes in my general direction already, but dude, I don’t ever want to lose this perspective, so bear with me. And let me just announce right here and now that you’re probably right, and I will eat these words.

But invalidation is a pretty shitty thing, and it happens every day, in all kinds of categories, from all kinds of people. But for some reason, in my admittedly subjective and also non-scientific sample group, parents tend to unintentionally do this to those who don’t have kids quite often. It’s in the small kinds of things – small truths, small feelings, small terrors – that accidentally invalidate people with different lives. Like our lives up until this point have been completely meaningless, and all of our challenges will be laughable in the not-so-distant future. So just forget what ever’s bothering you and go have a vodka martini BECAUSE YOU CAN (or wine in a box. Whatever.)

I’m not saying y’all aren’t right, and I am by no means trying, in a horrible twist of semantics, to invalidate the challenges of parents – no, not at all, for I can see that it is, indeed, the ultimate challenge – but it is a little bit frustrating to hear, repeatedly, that your life will change so much that you will laugh – laugh! – at how obnoxious, self-absorbed, inappropriately stressed you are compared to what you will be because, after all, that’s nothing. It’s not that it’s not true, it’s that, like many invalidating things, it’s unfair to the person who doesn’t know anything differently than their own barometer built from personal experience. They don’t know that perhaps in a year this really will be nothing, so to them, it’s totally something, and that’s all that matters.

I went to college with a girl who spent the vast majority of her time telling the rest of us that we didn’t know how easy we had it. And in retrospect, compared to her, we did have it easy. Her mother was an abusive alcoholic, and she spent the majority of her college years stripping (yes, stripping) in a nearby town to pay for her tuition, because she saw that as her only way. And while I was in full agreement that her life was, indeed, more of a daily grind than my own, I didn’t really dig on hearing about it everytime I mentioned I had a zit or had cramps, like I had no right to have any sort of discomfort because I didn’t strip, and my mother wasn’t an alcoholic. I still had cramps, and lo, they were annoying. Maybe not abusive alcoholic mother annoying, but still a part of every day frustrations. And yet we were subjected to repeated admonishments of “Oh, you think that’s bad? I have a zit and cramps and I have a shitty mother who drinks, you ungrateful sod! Take that!” And take it, we did. (Please, I’m not intentionally making light of her situation, for it was truly awful.)

Now, I’m not saying that you’re all not right. I promise, I believe you. It’s just that, as a friend recently put it, I’m not sure that being child-absorbed is that much better than being self-absorbed. It’s just different, albeit in a massively life-changing, visceral way that I have long accepted that I cannot fully imagine. And while it’s more altruistic in the sense that it’s caring for another person, it’s a choice you made, an extension of yourself that satisfies some part of you. There are many selfish aspects of being a parent, just like there are many selfish aspects of the rest of our lives – even the hard stuff – of that I am sure. And there is unselfish love and adoration, and lists and lists of things that I, or anyone else who doesn’t have a child, cannot imagine. But nothing makes me want to stab my eyes out more than when I hear that people who don’t have kids don’t know what love actualy is, however hyperbolic (full of hyperbole? It’s not a word, is it? Dear God.) the intentions. This burns me because that’s so unfair to those who make different life choices, especially those who choose to never have children, because lo, those barren fools will never know love! And while maybe – no, definitely- parent/child love is infinitely more fierce, because of so many other things that are impossible to explain or quantify, it’s no less valid.

And you know what’s funny? Someone told me that it doesn’t end even when you have kids. Someone with kids who are older than yours is always ready with, “You think you have it tough now, just you wait! It gets worse!” and “Oh please. You have it easy. Talk to me when she’s 12.” And the cycle of invalidation continues. How crappy of us.

So I guess I’m trying to promise myself right now that when I do have children, I will do my best – my very best – not to invalidate the lives of people who made different choices than I did, or who just happen to be in a different place. Even if I see some sort of holy light that transforms the way I view the world, and I see childless people as a lower life form who lack proper perspective, I’m going to try very hard to remember that. In fact, I’m going to try to start now, actually, and accept that everyone’s experiences stand alone, and can only be framed in light of their own bag of life’s tokens, no matter what the circumstances.

I’m making this sound like a much bigger deal than it is. It’s not that it keeps me up at night, or I’m deeply offended on a regular basis – I’m not. And I’m so not at all saying I know what it’s like to be a parent, not at all. And when I join the ranks, fully expect it to blow me away, and God, I will probably laugh that I ever wrote this, but I think I’m going to try not to.

*Pat Benatar. Second appearance.

23 comments October 23rd, 2006

Blue Monday

Ah, I just didn’t want this weekend to end. Despite my bellyaching, it did involve one trip to Target late on Friday night (well, after 8 p.m.), but that trip was entirely centered around getting some sort of emergency plug-in widget thingy for A.’s computer. It was also after I was in my pjs and had consumed two large glasses of wine that can only be described as big bowls of wine, which left me a little on the drunk side. I didn’t realize this, and failed to de-amplify my behavior and spent the majority of the shopping trip giggling and screaming my way through the store. The low point was when I thought I lost A. in the food section, and when I couldn’t find him hollered, “HONEEEY? Where ARE you anyway? DID YOU LEAVE ME HERE TO DIE IN TARGET?” not unlike the way Caroline Mulford screams for Jake Ryan just before her hair gets shut in the bedroom door. This was followed shortly by: “I WANT TO BUY THIS BEEF STICK.” Except I said it in this kind of generic Slavic accent (“I vont to bie zis beff steck! Joo bie eet now!”) and I waved it around inappropriately at some woman who said, “Um, I think your husband is in the next aisle.” And then I scooped up two big boxes of Target cab/shiraz and loaded ’em into the cart and insisted that we take them home, along with a pile of Slim Jims.

Which explains why this is in my refrigerator:

That’s four bottles’ worth of wine right in that there box, yo. And I know you’re not supposed to refrigerate red wine, but I like all wine cold. You would too if you were still sweating your ass off in October. And might I add, it’s Target wine. In a box.

Incidentally, we chose the museum/botanical gardens instead of the Jungle Ted’s Wildlife Swampy Pit-type thing, because we were supposed to go to a swamp-cum-local-type event next weekend, although it doesn’t really matter, because now we’re going away and skipping all swamp-related events. And I have completely lost my point, except to say that the botanical gardens turned out to be a big bust because of this:


They are growing a rare type of plant called “yellow tape” and also, “dirt.”

But lo, it was lovely anyway, and it was followed by an evening of boxed wine and Roman Holiday, which is one of my favorite movies of all-time, even though I don’t love Gregory Peck, and secretly wish it had been Cary Grant. Apropos of not much, I will say that Gregory Peck is oddly lucky, if you can call dying lucky, that he died before he could sign on as Grandpa Joe in Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, because what a trainwreck that turned out to be, and I say that as a huge fan of Tim Burton. Except no, just no, that was all wrong, even if it did involve Christopher Lee (why, Chris, why?)

All in all, an utter delight. And we haven’t even discussed weekend kugel but oh, we will.


Duuuuuude. You got any Ramen noodles up in this piece?

*New Order. Blue only because it’s over. Fleh.

**Edited to add that -R- reminded me to mention that of course, my husband was sober while he drove my drunk self to Target.

24 comments October 22nd, 2006

Human Behavior

The DHL man is afraid of our dog. He took one look at her and ran screaming back out of the entryway and actually left the front gate. He quivered behind the fence and refused to bring in the package until A. put the dog out of his sight. I’d like to remind everyone that this is the dog in question:


Run! Save yourselves! FLEE!

Secondly, I’d like to thank everyone who wrote comments, sent e-mails or said anything to me directly about yesterday’s post. I’ve tried to think of an appropriate thing to say that would properly articulate how really and honestly lovely it was to hear from all of you, and get a glimpse into some of your own experiences, but I can’t, because I am a dullard. But really, thank you. The best part about writing here is hearing other people’s take on their own experiences, either independently offered, or in response to something that one of us has written. And between that experience and the extraordinarily civilized reaction to Linda’s post yesterday (which a whole other group e-mailed me about, and thank you for that, too), I have an entirely new outlook on the decency of humanity, and if that doesn’t put a spring in your step, I don’t know what does. I forget sometimes, especially given the madness that goes on almost every day in the world we live in, that for the most part, people are pretty decent. So thank you again.

And mostly, that’s all I wanted to say. I also didn’t want to leave up yesterday’s post too long, as I had visions of concerned e-mails that I’d thrown myself out the window into a pile of alligators in despair.

We plan to get out of the house this weekend. I will not deny that part of what’s contributed to the funk is that nearly every weekend we’ve been house-bound, mostly because one of us (and uh, it’s not me) has been working a lot. And while I love hanging out with the dog and catching reruns of Dinner & a Movie on TBS, it is possible to exceed tolerance limits on movies that feature Goldie Hawn, especially when accompanied by witty banter and complicated recipes that almost always employ the use of a blender. And frankly, I never thought I’d say this, but I’m sick of seeing the inside of a Target. And there is something to be said for getting out there and breathing in air that hasn’t been filtered through an HVAC system, even if it is the humidified equivalent of hot Jello pudding.

However, the two options for Saturday’s activities were met with nothing but silence and maybe a few blank stares, so what exactly we’ll be doing remains to be seen. In an effort to out-tourist ourselves while we’re here, I suggested a visit to Jungle Ted’s alligator farm-slash-wildlife preserve, or perhaps a trip to a museum-slash-botanical gardens, and neither was met with much enthusiasm. But there will be something, and it will be cheesy, and it won’t be Sears, and that’s a good thing.

Have a great weekend.

*The Decemberists covering Bjork. I really, really can’t stand Bjork, so let’s go with the Decemberists, who covered it just fine.

17 comments October 19th, 2006

Fishing in the Morning

I got up at 6 this morning as part of my new-fangled effort to eek more hours out of the day, and all I have to say is really, the hell? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was the picture of productivity from nearly the second my feet hit the floor, and holy hannah was I proud and also, smug. Very, very smug. I mean, I was on fire – fire, I tell you! I was making coffee and walking the dog and emptying the goddamn DISHWASHER, for chrissake, and for the love of God, my legs were shaved by 7 a.m. By 7:02, I was rip roaring to go, even if the dog was staring at me with a look of disdain like, DUDE, it’s DARK OUT you crazy bitch, now back off and let me bury my head in this pillow and maybe lick my girlparts, mmkay?

I will acknowledge that there was a minor detour when my iPod decided to, I don’t know, not work, and freeze while it was charging and create this entire panic panic PANIC situation that involved hard resets, soft resets and maybe some banging against the wall as quietly as possible so as not to disturb the slumbering husband. However, it wasn’t a permanent impediment, for I was able to go up and out, baby, UP AND OUT by 7:30 a.m.

And holy, hell it was bloody magical! MAGICAL. I was productive, I was organized, I was better than I’ve ever been, because my God, the stunningly beautiful silence of an empty office is positively transformational. At the rate I was going, I was prepared to be finished with my entire workday by noon, and then go to Target and Best Buy for some heavy-duty shopping with my wild and free afternoon, and maybe even some Starbucks. I had dreams. Big dreams. Big, wide-awake dreams that involved running 11 miles before 7 a.m. and writing my book in the afternoons while I drank wine spritzers on the lanai because I’d finished my real work by noon every day.

But, as with all things pipe-dreamy: No. Just no. This marvelously excited energy had completely burned off by noon, and I found myself so completely out of steam that I caught myself sitting in the office bathroom for way longer than is healthy, my eyes half closed as I cradled my aching, aching head in my hands and thought seriously about crying for reasons I still can’t quite identify. And of course, I had to jerk myself awake because again, I’m in the single-room unisex bathroom mere steps from my coworkers, and if I’d started snoring, shit would go down. And thus ended any consideration that I can hack the morning thing, because as I’ve learned, it’s not the mornings that kill you, it’s the afterfuckingnoons.

And as of this minute, I mostly want to cry, I’m so tired, and I’m just not convinced it’s worth it. Is it because I’m supposed to be in bed right now? Is that it? Is it that 9 p.m. is your limit, if you want to get up early, because I am much more comfortable with 12:30 a.m., and what’s the point in getting up early if you’re catatonic by 1 p.m.? What? WHAT?

And what this means is right now I am done, just completely and utterly fork-in-my-eye done. And you parents and morning people are about to go all smug on me, aren’t you, about how much free time I have, and how lucky I am to be able to consider such things, right? I know. I know you’re right! You’re right! I am lucky and ungrateful and completely and horribly SELFISH, and I am just too old to be a night person, even though we’ve gone over this. And I know there will be some sort of cosmic comeuppance in the not-so-distant future, but honestly, I am far too tired and grumpy to really care.

*Dar Williams and Bela Fleck. And I assure you, there was no fishing this morning.

**I feel like an asshole writing this, but this content is copyright 2006 Jonniker. Available in its entirety at jonniker.com. If you aren’t reading this through your news aggregator that you set up, and instead are somewhere like, I don’t know, Bitacle.org? That means they are profiting from my stuff without my permission, and by association, you’re supporting thievery, and I don’t mean Thievery Corporation. Please don’t steal.

8 comments October 16th, 2006

Chop Me Up

When did weekends stop being exciting moments of wonder and non-stop excitement? Somehow, in the last few years my weekends have shifted from a whirlwind of activity and mild debauchery to neverending moments of mundane banality where a weekend that includes not one, but TWO trips to Target is enough to make you want to dance around in your underwear, because my God, the possibilities! The cheap furniture! The accessory department full of inexpensive, yet cute, necklaces, scarves, socks and other useless crap! The Halloween decorations!

Adam and I starkly differ in our desired Halloween approach. I’m not a big fan of Halloween as an active participant – I think it goes with the whole odd sort of introverted extrovert thing – the apple bobbing, the parties, the forced socializing while wearing ridiculous costumes, not to mention the pressure to come up with the perfect costume that is neither cheesy nor too fraught with effort. The last Halloween I trick or treated, I was fresh out of costume ideas and opted to throw a white sheet over my head call it a Ghost Day. It was an unusually warm night, and the only five minutes I spent with the sheet off to cool down, a car full of angry teenagers screamed, “TRICK OR TREAT, NERDS!” and threw eggs at our heads, which, of course, landed squarely on me. And so, I was left to slog my way home with egg on my face as I toted my sad little Food Lane bag of Charleston Chews and nickels.

Halloween and I have never really been friends, and the Mellowcreme Pumpkins and candy corn don’t help the cause, as I find both appalling, I don’t care if there is honey involved. But as a candy giver-outer, I’m pretty excited. We have a ton of kids in our neighborhood – so many we actually ran out of candy last year, and had to be That House with the lights off, while we cowered in the bedroom and ignored the repeated dingdong of the doorbell. This year, I was all for getting a little festive, particularly as I’ve come to know and love a lot of the kids, and also, in case you forgot, apparently have nothing better to do. For some reason, I convinced myself that we should do some sort of Halloween diorama, with giant skeletons and light up trees and pumpkins! There would be pumpkins! Cobwebs! Spiders! And ghosts and bats and lights! I was getting wildly carried away and was thisclose to loading a six-foot Nightmare Before Christmas tree into the cart when Adam stepped in and started making…classier recommendations, and fine, whatever, he won, we have a ceramic pumpkin. Let it be known that I’m not pleased. However, Sunny does have a costume, and let me tell you, it was a battle to get that bill passed. And so, for the first time in 20 years, I am excited about Halloween, even if it doesn’t involve a life-size talking skeleton.

Incidentally, while at Target, I overheard a couple discussing what they would give out for trick-or-treaters this year, and the wife actually tried to convince her husband to forgo candy (“It’s so bad for them!”) in favor of Halloween-themed packs of plates and napkins. I’m sure the kids will be thrilled with their skeleton-themed paper plates while they gorge themselves on peanut butter cups, bitch.

Separately, once again the sleep deprivation is on in full force, this time because the cat has taken to somehow opening and going through my jewelry box, and bringing said jewelry into our bed in the middle of the night to play with. Both nights this weekend, I was awakened around 4 a.m. to a necklace dangling over my lips, or beads rolling around under my arms as his little needle-claws sought out the treasures he dropped for me to find. As an added bonus, this morning at 6, I found him trying to eat a small silver necklace off of my neck, his hot stinky breath rousing me from my slumber, not to mention his teeth digging their way into my jugular. And for the first time ever, I have decided that he is just a little asshole, and we’re not speaking.

And finally, two small tidbits that nearly sent me into orbit this weekend:
– A mutual friend asked Adam if I was pregnant after seeing a few pictures on Flickr (not mine, Adam’s, although his are much the same as mine), and when Adam protested, actually pressed the issue, “Are you sure?” And then a lighthearted discussion of “Uh, are you calling my wife fat?” ensued, and lo, I’m sure it was fabulous and this poor guy has no idea that Adam told me, but, it just CAME OUT, because that’s just how we are, and wow, if that isn’t a thrilling addition to a cold sore and stye-themed weekend, I don’t know what is. (And for those of you playing along at home who actually know us, his nickname begins with Z. Begin planning retribution.)

– In happier, yet also bizarre news, however, I am shamed to admit that I have listened to, and subsequently purchased Justin Timberlake’s latest, and uh, I like it quite a bit. No, I’m sorry, I love it. I love it. I actually love it, as embarrassing as that is, and I don’t care who knows! I still don’t think he’s hot, however, and Cameron can have him.

And though the weekend may be boring as hell to read about, it did indeed involve heirloom tomatoes, which did make it quite good. I hope you were as lucky.

*Justin Timberlake, of course.

18 comments October 15th, 2006

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