Aaaand, we’re back. That was … special. Some of that is certainly sarcasm, but some of it is also that it WAS special. Honestly, it was fun. We had fun. Sam had a blast running around with her cousins, and even tried surfing a little, if by surfing, you mean standing on a boogie board while the waves came in and ran over her feet.
“I DID it, Mommy! I did it! Like TOODEE!” Oof, my heart. Kid was so proud of her surfing abilities, and honest to God, she really thought she was doing it. Also, errr, that’s how pervasive her Yo Gabba Gabba obsession runs, friends. There’s ONE episode (“Ride”) where Toodee goes surfing with Foofa’s big brother, Foofle (I cannot make this shit up, people), and Sam was OBSESSED with surfing like Toodee. She even made me sing the damn song while she did it. (“Surfing today, sunny day! Into the water to play!” And hahahahaha, I KNOW THE LYRICS OH MY GOD.)
It was actually quite sad that on our first day back, she woke up and asked to go to the beach. Oh darlin’. It’s not warm enough up here, yet.
The bad was … kind of really awfully bad. Over the course of the two weeks since we left our house, Sam had three (3) separate fevers, a horrid cough/cold (separate from the fevers!) and a – oh I can barely type it – a VAGINAL INFECTION FROM THE SAND-SLASH-SWIM DIAPER. HOLD ME. HOLD ME. All this, plus she slept in two separate hotels, a strange house, followed by a DIFFERENT strange house, along with a FOURTEEN HOUR DRIVE, split over two days. I mean, honestly, the kid was a hot fucking mess, and so was I.
I am not even going to pretend that I handled it well, because I didn’t. I cringe at how touchy I was on Wednesday — which, conveniently, was my day to cook dinner for everyone — and how I was chopping onions, sobbing while my kid sobbed and chased after me, stuck to me like glue. That morning, I’d lost it on my poor dad — AKA the man who requires the least amount of sleep of ANYONE I KNOW, EVER — because he rises at 5:30 or 6 and makes coffee, waking up the first floor. Meanwhile, he acquiesced to my demand to come out a LEETLE BIT later and guess what? Sam continued to wake at 6, exhausted and miserable, ANYWAY. (Note: I don’t mind the 6 a.m. wakings, except when they mean that she hasn’t gotten enough sleep, making our mornings EYE-POKINGLY MISERABLE, because all she wants to do is go back to bed, at like, NINE AM. But she won’t, natch, and besides, it would eff her nap for the day.)
Plus, I was alone. I’m alone a lot, obviously, as the primary at-home parent, but it’s too easy to discount the role that Adam plays at home and on the weekends. He plays with her the second he walks in the door. I get extra sleep on the weekends (we alternate days). I get nights out with my friends as often as I want. He can give her a bath if I’m feeling wiped out or lousy or just having a long, tired day, you know? He’s a great dad, and he does a lot, and GOD I MISSED HIM. All of him, obviously, not just the parts of him that help me out. To be clear.
(PS, he cleaned the WHOLE HOUSE while we were gone. I walked in to a SPOTLESS HOUSE. Who does that? HE DOES.)
(He also bought a new TV. Surprise! Oh, wait … )
I was just … alone. Not that my parents and siblings weren’t willing to help me — they WERE — but my kid was so disoriented and cranky and feeling so lousy that she wouldn’t let them touch her. NO ONE COULD TOUCH HER. For two. weeks. And not only was this sucktacular for me, but it was hardly the bonding experience with the rest of my family that you would expect, you know? I mean, the kid just RAGED any time anyone came near her — and this includes my paternal parents, who are the very same people who kept her for a WEEK without incident while we went to Vegas. Was bizarroland. And also, uhh, kind of sucky for all of us.
Mind you, I’m fully aware that single parents do this day in and day out (I WORSHIP AT YOUR FEET), but I will also say there is a difference between having velcro kid in a strange environment and just having a kid at home, doing her normal routine. It was kind of exhausting, and I kind of handled it pretty badly. I was loose with my emotions, and I kind of felt like everything was just there, bubbling so close to the surface that everything exploded at the slightest provocation.
And I just felt ungrateful and awful and UGHHHHH, I know, I sound like I’m just over here self-flagellating (I AM), but there’s something about parenting my kid at her worst in front of people I don’t normally live with, no matter how much they love me (and they do!), that makes me feel so exposed. Especially if those people are other parents and THEIR kids are acting like near-perfect children with only minor imperfections. Meanwhile, I had a kid with an INFECTED VAGINA, FOR THE LOVE.
This is one of those times where I can’t tell if it’s just the snowball effect of, you know, EVERYTHING, or if it was just, hello, a challenging situation that anyone would have broken down in. I was extra-weepy and I let myself lose it in situations — and in front of people — I normally wouldn’t. I mean, not that I’m afraid of being judged by my own FAMILY, but I guess I do have a thing against appearing weak and/or crazy and BELIEVE ME, FRIENDS, I WAS BOTH. Yet, I like to think it was the latter — that is, it was a normally shitty situation to lose it in — but I’m not entirely sure. One never knows these days.
Honestly about the Other Thing, I do feel better — I feel more ready to tackle what’s to come, and I feel more focused on what’s in front of me — the life part, that is. Honestly, I suppose it’s hard not to, when what’s in front of you is a sick toddler while you YOURSELF are hacking and wheezing, but strangely, I’ve got a lot of OTHER good stuff to focus on. Friends who claim to have missed me terribly (and I, them), new work projects, an entire summer to play in the water with my kid, an assload of books to read and the resurgence of the Book Lushes, which I SWEAR is coming, but HA HA, UNEXPECTED EVENTS have precluded that little project.
And, uhh, fertility work-up stuff. Again. But even that I feel relatively calm about at the moment. Apparently the whole “one day at a time” mantra really seems to be working. Recovery people! They know what they’re talking about.
This is going to be all OVER the place, y’all. Just like it used to be! Bullet-style:
– One of the things that plagues me on a fairly regular basis, is when one of your friends — someone you really like, who has proven to be of decent character and all that rot — is ALSO friends with someone who has proven to be morally bankrupt on more than one occasion, in my admittedly-strict viewpoint. Now, before I go on here, I want you to simmer down, Warren Beatty, because this song isn’t about you. I can think of at least two people who would think this is about them, but really, Warren, it isn’t.
But what do you do? I’ve voiced my opinion — even more gently than I normally would, I swear! — once or twice, and I’ve even PERSONALLY been screwed by the person in question and said something and YET THE RELATIONSHIP CONTINUES. Mind you, it’s not that I expect them to CHOOSE ME over them — this isn’t that kind of high school drama — it’s that I am MYSTIFIED how someone can still be friends with someone who has PROVEN to be such an absolute douche.
I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. It is honestly one of life’s greatest mysteries.
– If you’ll indulge me a moment of Glee, I was ALL HOT AND BOTHERED to see the return of Jesse St. James in what is certainly the most ridiculous crush imaginable. Yes, I am a 35-year-old married mother with a huge crush on an openly gay man playing a teenager, and while I have no issue with either of those things, of course, the problem is that no matter how you slice it, the fantasy doesn’t work. I would either have to turn into a man OR a teenager and neither really works for me. Yet, it persists.
However. They turned him into a one-dimensional vapid asshole, when yes, I realize that he royally screwed Rachel over last year, I ALSO thought there was some complexity to him and it’s … gone. I am ALSO angry at how they’ve turned Rachel into a sniveling GIRL who also suddenly turned stupid. Last season, Rachel was multi-dimensional, and what made her amazing was her incredible insight into HERSELF. And now she’s fawning over Jesse and saying things like, “He’s so smart! Can you believe he flunked out of college?” after he says something amazingly inane. And so we’re left with Kurt (and his personal orbit), the only character with any sort of heart, and honestly, it’s pissing me off, because it seems like Ryan Murphy is just re-writing his own history, and the only person he has any sort of generosity to is himself.
Also, uhhh, weren’t they juniors LAST YEAR? How long can they drag this out?
– I also have Strong Feelings on Friday Night Lights, and I’m telling you right now that I’m live-tweeting the episode for my bosses at Smart Pop Books, because an essay of mine is in the upcoming anthology on the show in its entirety. So, you know, fair warning. And while I LOVE this season, I have VERY LOUD OPINIONS on the finale, and as such, I can’t wait until all of you (all, um, four of you who watch it) have caught up so that we can discuss.
– One of the things I am shocked to discover that I am struggling with is getting Sam to enjoy reading. I KNOW. I KNOW. Are you as floored as I am? I am, above all things, A Reader. The periods of my life when I wasn’t relying on a book for my primary form of evening entertainment are few and far between. Even still, I’m usually either reading or writing, even while the TV is on in the background. I mean, I love TV, but if I had to choose, I’d choose a book any day of the week.
So how is it possible that she’s my child? We set aside time to read every day. I read CONSTANTLY. I’ve even taken to reading her books by myself, with rapt enthusiasm, just to make them seem interesting. Yes, we watch TV, but with few exceptions (involving DJ Lance), she’s really not that into it, and she almost NEVER sits still to watch a whole anything unless she’s positively exhausted OR it’s first thing in the morning, so I’m not panicked that she’s a TV head or anything. (I WISH she was one of those children who sat quietly and watched television for more than six minutes at a time. I could use that to my occasional advantage! NO DICE.)
She just … does other things. Swaddles Brobee. Draws. Listens to music and dances. Draws some more. Plays with her animals. Paints. Dances some more. Sings. Dances. Music. God, this kid is SO INTO MUSIC. And when there is no music? SHE MAKES ME SING SO SHE CAN DANCE.
And forget reading before bed — she’s ALL business. Once she became a prescient human being, she dropped the bedtime reading routine before it really got going. When she’s ready for bed, she wants to be IN THE BED. The second we start the bedtime routine, “BYE MAMA! NIGHT NIGHT!” and she’s finished. She wants to be in bed, lights out, my annoying mug out of her face. It doesn’t seem to matter how early we start — the moment she senses bedtime is nigh, she’s all about it, as soon as humanly possible, and thank you. (Yes, I know I’m lucky. Our bedtime ritual is three whole seconds long. “Kiss Daddy!” “BYE MAMA!” Aaaaaaand, fin.)
I’ve gotten her books on her favorite subjects — animals and bugs — and it sort of works, but man, if I had one trivial wish for my daughter, it would be that she loves to read, and right now, despite my best efforts, she’s not nearly as into it as I’d hoped.
Also, can we talk about the bug obsession for a moment here? BUGS. Ants are “cute!” Worms are “awesome!” She picks them all up and tries to take them home as pets! God forbid we see a bumblebee, because kid is BESIDE HERSELF with excitement. “It’s a BEE! A BEE!” and she lurches toward it, hands open. Explaining that although bumblebees look fuzzy and friendly, they REALLY need to be left alone, was a surprisingly rigorous parenting challenge.
But still. Books. Man. I mean, Adam and I both read. We have stacks and stacks of books and Kindles full of reading material. I have a to-read list that is more than 250 books long and I can’t get my kid to sit still long enough for “No, David!”?
Tell me: is all hope lost? Will she eschew reading forever? Will I be stuck raising an entomologist-slash-oboe player? Any tips are welcome.
– Speaking of TV, uhh, sort of, the only show I’m really looking forward to other than True Blood is “Falling Skies,” and I cannot WAIT.
– Speaking of BOOKS, we have plenty of interest in the book club, so stay tuned for more — as soon as I get it cleaned up and a new spam system in place, I’ll be hitting a re-launch. And to say I appreciate the offers of help is an understatement. I think this time it will probably be better than the last, because there was an INSANE AMOUNT OF INTEREST from people who … weren’t all that interested. I think this time has the potential to be smaller and more engaging. Honestly, even if only two of you said to do it, I would have. Fortunately, we have a bit more — but far fewer than the 600 we had the first time.
Thanks, everyone. I hope you have a fantastic Thursday. We’re getting our beach passes, finally, although it is the furthest thing from beach weather you can imagine. Hope springs eternal, even if spring doesn’t.
*GLEE’S VERSION WAS AWFUL. AWFUL. AWFUL. I liked Haley’s better on American Idol and that is SAYING SOMETHING. Oh, Adele. You are, indeed, incomparable. (I love her.)
We hung out with our friends today, and there was a minor spat, as two-year-olds are wont to engage in (HAAA), and I don’t even know how my mind went from Gracie being annoyed because Sam blew up in her face (mind you, the opposite has happened HUNDREDS OF TIMES) to realizing that one day, these friends that I chose for Sam might not want to be her friends or vice versa, or even if they DO, she will have friends she chose ON HER OWN, and God, these are things I spend time fretting about. It’s all very Sunrise, Sunset in my mind, but when I write it out, it’s the equivalent of a no-shitter Nerf bat to the face. Yes, people grow up, whatever, but I somehow thought my child would be immune, like Benjamin Button. Err, kind of.
But what it comes down to is her inevitable freedom of choice, I guess, and from my perspective, watching her grow into her own person; someone who does things and thinks things that are completely separate from me. It’s crazy that she will some day have secrets from me. Secrets! From me! At this point, the kid doesn’t even fart without my full knowledge of exactly what went IN to that particular cocktail of methane, so this seems completely impossible..
It sucks, this growing-up thing. Well, except for the fact that my God, when you have a child who can TELL you what she needs vs one who just YELLS VAGUELY IN YOUR DIRECTION, there’s really no comparison. No, I would not trade two-year-old Sam for infant Sam, although I MIGHT have traded 18-month-old Sam for infant Sam, because, if no one has told you yet, 18 months is kind of a shitty age.
Anyway, I really came here for one purpose, and that’s to ask you, yet again, if anyone is still interested in an online book club. The Book Lushes died last summer and then was OVERRUN WITH UNMANAGEABLE SPAM ATTACKS (Don’t look now! I’m still cleaning it up!) and I’m working on the latter issue, provided people are still interested. Honestly, I thought we’d died for good, but then more and more people started asking, and I thought, well, HM. LET US ASK. I’m always reading and always willing to participate, so if anyone else is, you let me know in the comments, just to get a wee idea (or you can send me an email) and I’ll figure something out.
So! Book club or no? Tell me. I won’t be offended either way. Probably because I’ll still be here reading It until KINGDOM COME. It’s like chipping away at a MOUNTAIN.
We’re on a new! improved! totally Draconian! budget to save for some life-goal type stuff, brought to you by the letter S for Screwed and F for Florida and let’s just throw in H for House!, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the truth is, I love budgeting, and I say that with as much enthusiasm as I can muster. In my head, it kind of sounds like Plex from Yo Gabba Gabba. “I’m thinking of a budget! It’s flexible and painful!”
I! Love! TO BUDGET!
And of COURSE I love to budget. Budgeting is fun! Budgeting makes it seem like you have all! this! extra! money! Assuming, of course, that you stick to it, tracking every blasted cent and this — this is where things usually go horribly awry, and it’s kind of like being on a diet, where suddenly you want to run right out and eat an entire chocolate cake, then spend the entirety of your bank account on hookers and blow. HOOKERS AND BLOW! And maybe a pizza or some new jeans. Or a pedicure. Man, I would love a pedicure, but under the new regime, I’d have to save and account for said pedicure and decide if I want the pedicure or something else with my allotted monthly fun money and OH BLERGH, the growing bank account is satisfying, but I’m not sure it’s as satisfying as sitting in a spa chair, you know what I’m saying?
Screw responsibility, man. Sometimes adulthood blows.
At any rate, this whole hot mess is how I found myself doing things like buying a $5 toy kitchen at a yard sale, followed by (and this is really terrifying, just TERRIFYING), coming to a screeching halt in front of a house on a busy street because they had a giant kid’s easel out front marked “FREE!”
You guys, I loaded this giant, awful plastic easel into the back of my car on a busy street and it’s awful! It’s awful and large and unwieldy, and I’m not even sure what I was thinking! I just LOADED THIS BIG-ASS THING IN THE CAR AND DROVE AWAY. And it’s awful! And now *I* am going to have to be the assface who leaves it outside MY house saying, FREE TO GOOD HOME. PLEASE TAKE THIS PLASTIC MONSTROSITY AWAY FROM ME.
And let us talk about the total savings theoretically achieved by my drive-by easeling: $14. Yes, friends, the easel I’ve been meaning to get Sam is $14. Is $14 going to make or break our budget? HA HA. NO. Especially when I’ve budgeted for Sam and Sam-related items and activities, and FOR GOD’S SAKE.
This is why I tend to be an insane stop-and-start person. I go whole effing HOG on something, and the next thing you know I’m irrationally weeping into my generic K-cups about how life is UNFAAAAAIR and I’m DUMPSTER DIVING and before you can say “THROW THE EASEL!” I’m going to be like Frank and Charlie, pushing carts through the streets of Boston and hollering about how, THIS RADIO IS STILL GOOD, DAMMIT. Put a plastic bag on it and jam out in the shower! That EASEL IS STILL GOOD! PAINT! PAINT PAINT!
And then, in a fit of frustration, I’ll decide that I will … I WILL SHOW MYSELF WHO’S BOSS. And then I will have a commissioned, artist-approved easel embossed with the work of Van Gogh himself, to the tune of thousands of dollars, all for an 18-month-old who just wants to COLOR, dammit, with the COLOR OF BANANAS. THE ONE SHE WAS THINKING OF! I! LOVE! TO COLOR!
(My mind often goes Plex on me. Why? Because sometimes I find myself watching Yo Gabba Gabba ALONE. WITHOUT A CHILD. This, by the way, brings me to a tangent when a few months ago, Adam came home with a Backyardigans DVD for Sam for an upcoming car trip. Me: “The Backyardigans? We never watch the Backyardigans!” Adam: “Shut up! Of course we do! Every night!” Me: “This is because we leave Nick Jr. on after Sam goes to bed. SAM does not watch the Backyardigans. WE DO.”)
In other news, the Book Lushes are back in action, and our book this month is going to be a young adult selection. I know! YOUNG ADULT! Finally! Please join us here, and vote in the poll, which should be up by Thursday morning is now live, bishes! And then read with us! Join us! 500 people can’t be wrong! (Except that I hated our last book but that is not their fault! Apparently I have Red Tent issues!)
So, many years ago, I had to fire someone. In retrospect, this is ridiculous, because I swear to you, I was MAYBE 25, had zero experience doing such things, and was counseled to do so in a way that was as close to asking for a lawsuit as one can get without filing the paperwork and suing yourself. Granted, this person should not have retained her job — she was terrible, unreliable, sometimes willfully defiant and yet (YET!) consistently asked for a promotion. It was a lethal combination, as you can imagine, and after first counseling her to look for another job through the power of gentle suggestion (she didn’t get it, or refused — not sure which), I had to fire her.
It was hideous. Hideous! She bawled! She was shocked! I was frozen, basically reading off of a piece of paper like an idiot so that we WOULDN’T get sued, when all I wanted to do was hug her. And again, why the eff HR wasn’t doing this was beyond me, but there I was, a totally incompetent 25-year-old manager who had no business managing, firing someone under the guise of a one-person layoff.
It was one of the worst things I’d ever had to do.
A few hours after she’d left, her mom called me to yell at me. Her mother called me! HER MOTHER. And she called me a dumb low-life and all kinds of things that were probably true at the time (seriously, I was only a manager because I brought in a piece of business that was a lot of money, end of story). Now, her mom and I had tangled previously, when Marla (yes, let’s call her that), called in sick, but didn’t leave information where some VERY IMPORTANT MISSION-CRITICAL documents that had been due the previous day were kept, so I had to call her at home and … well, she wasn’t home, she was in NYC visiting her boyfriend and THAT was awkward and awful, and yes, her mother yelled at me for invading her privacy, when … well, it was Marla who blew off the deadline AND was busy porking on a futon in the Upper West Side, so who’s really at fault here?
Fast forward to Saturday, and I’m in line at Gourmet India at the mall food court, because that’s what you DO when you have a kid who hates sitting still at a restaurant and you have no food in the house and you just want to EAT without it being a HUGE PRODUCTION, and dear Jesus, people, SHE WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.
GAH GAH GAH. I kept silent and just sort of quietly panicked at the memory, and my only consolation is that she looked fabulous and didn’t bear any visible scars from the horrid, no-good awful faux layoff I inflicted upon her in my youth.
And whatever, don’t mock me for my food court Indian selection, because while I know it’s kind of gross, seeing as not only are you in a FOOD COURT, but everything meat-like is draped in some kind of heavy sauce that could be masking the remains of Max and Ruby’s doubtlessly deceased parents up in there, let me tell you something: I lived without decent Indian for FIVE YEARS. The last Indian place near us in Vermont featured a very old Indian matriarch, all wizened-like, who sat behind the hostess desk and SHAVED THE SKIN OFF HER FEET WITH A RAZOR THE ENTIRE MEAL.
I can handle Gourmet India, is what I’m saying. And besides, I would very likely eat the asshole of any animal anywhere (I grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country! I ate scrapple!), provided it was done with the right sauce and plenty of cilantro. I’ve always wanted to be Indian, if only so I could learn to cook their food. Not to denigrate my own cultural heritage — I’m Hungarian and Italian, which, while no gastronomic slouches, have cuisines I like to sum up as follows:
Hungarians: Throw some paprika and sour cream on it. Extra points if there’s cabbage. You think I’m kidding, but if you’ve ever had eastern European haluski, you know that I’m not.
Italians: Do we have tomatoes and basil? Excellent. Here’s dinner.
And of course, there’s the Pennsylvania Dutch: Can we pickle it? What if we throw some hard-boiled eggs in there? Excellent! What if we fry up a pig’s stomach to go along with it? EVEN EFFING BETTER.
(Side note: pickled beets and eggs is one of my favorite things, ever, and my dad made some DELICIOUS ones last week)
(Side side note: Shoo fly pie is just SILLINESS in a pie crust and yet people go BONKERS for it. Basically it’s molasses and crumbs. BARF.)
But Indians! Such spices! Beans! Cilantro! Coriander seed! (Same thing, different form) THINGS THAT HAVE FLAVOR. AND LACK ENTRAILS, MAYBE.
Well, this went to a place I wasn’t planning. Sorry about that. A few housekeeping tidbits, yes?
– I’m reviving the Book Lushes after a summer hiatus. Stay tuned!
– Speaking of books, I’ve started reading Alexa’s, (yes, this Alexa) and cannot stop. I can’t stop. I’m not one to blow smoke in this area, so when I tell you that this is exceptional — that SHE is exceptional, both as a person and as a writer — you must believe me. And you must go out and get it for yourself, and then report back to me how big of a genius you think she is, because you will. She is. It’s SO GOOD, you guys. It’s like, LAUGH OUT LOUD good, and funny and poignant and heartbreaking … IT IS SO GOOD. IT IS SO GOOD. SO GOOD. SHE IS SO GOOD.
She is also a friend, and I am really proud to say that, and proud of her. But that does not mean she hasn’t earned my respect as a hugely talented writer with the first chapter alone. Holyshit.
– While an odd segue, I wrote a few things other places on the internet, both kind of pulled from my ass and thrown on the table like a lump of something unpleasant, yet strangely … compelling? Or maybe just unpleasant and confusing. One at Polite Fictions, the other is a recap of this past week’s True Blood for my bosses at Smart Pop. (And a reminder that you can buy my essay for less than a buck AND the entire book is still available!) To those recappers who do this on a regular basis, I salute you. It was great fun, but it was also so much freakin’ work, and hours and hours of rewinding and pausing and note-taking and DING DONG, I HAD A CRAMP, that I have no idea how you do it on a regular basis.
Kibbles and bits, per usual, but this time with a giveaway! Of a book that I contributed to! Go team! Well, not really on the team part. But on the dinner part? Yes, GO TEAM!
1) The other day, I tasted Sam’s (white) grape juice and thought it tasted a little off. I wrote it off initially, because my allergies are HORRENDOUS right now, and this plus a recent cold means I’ve been stuffy/sickly for weeks on end. No, literally: WEEKS. Anyway, I gave it another taste this morning and, um, no. It was actually teetering towards flat-out rotten, and I’m fairly shocked she hasn’t been wasted, because that shit HAD to be well on its way to wine.
2) The June book for The Book Lushes is The Red Tent, and I’ve literally put off reading this bad boy for TEN YEARS. It’s … interesting. I’m enjoying, but not loving, it. Mostly, and you best believe I’ll be discussing this in the forums, I’m irritated by the writing style, but I can’t put my finger on why.
Also irritating? The fact that Diamant has to remind us somewhere in the range of every ten seconds that men and boys used to get it on with sheep and goats in the fields. Yes, Anita, we get it. I was shocked the first time, annoyed the second, and FULL-ON ROLLING MY EYES by the third. What a shame Christianity has already been sent up too many times, otherwise you’d have the next Satanic Verses on your hands! Or not.
The real point of this is that if you aren’t a member, you should be. Honestly, all the books we’ve picked have been good, if not great, and I’m really, really glad I read them, even if I didn’t like them. It made for a richer experience, too, to know that dozens, if not hundreds, of others were reading it at the same time. You can join and discuss at any time — although it is well into June, I haven’t fully formed my opinion on Olive yet, so that discussion is still happening.
(For those not playing along, the books thus far have been The Help, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Year of Magical Thinking, Olive Kitteridge and now, The Red Tent)
3) Dinner. OH DINNER. You guys! YOU GUYS. SUCCESS. We’re on Day Three of awesome fast dinners — the sausage pasta was a huge hit, as I mentioned, and since then, I’ve done two more meals that rocked and were fast and easy.
First, I made a Mexican rice mish-mash with lean ground meat of your choice (I used beef, but I would totally use ground turkey, chicken or buffalo), browned and then mixed with veggies of your choice (I used TJ’s fire-roasted corn and bell pepper mix, both frozen) and then mixed with rice (um, again, TJ’s chimichurri frozen rice mix — SO GOOD). I threw some taco seasoning on top of it all (cumin, chili powder, coriander, etc. or you can use a pre-mix) and stirred some low-fat cheese and salsa in and VOILA! Mexican mix! We ate this in either taco or burrito shells with light sour cream and jalapenos. So good. So fast — like, ten minutes, TOPS.
Tuesday, we had Greek cous cous and also, DELICIOUS. I used nap time to roast some veggies (onions and red peppers at 425 for 20 minutes), then boiled up some Israeli cous cous and mixed with the veggies and some pre-cooked grilled chicken (I love you, Trader Joe’s!). I made a quick Greek dressing with lemon juice, olive oil, lots of oregano, salt, pepper and feta and threw it on top, plus a little extra crumbled feta on each serving and again, dude, VOILA. I finished it all in a half-hour, and just heated it up a bit at dinnertime. The whole shebang was over and done with by 7 p.m. (Adam got home super-early.)
I feel like I’m winning some kind of BATTLE up in here. For the record, Sam ate the cous cous, but not the Mexican rice. Again, I made it a little too spicy for her delicate little tongue. Adam loved it, but requested that next time I make it with the tiny regular cous cous, as the Israeli version reminded him of spider eggs. However, he’s still gnawing on some leftovers as I type this, so whatever. Awesome.
4) This won’t make sense to many people, but longtime reader Suki? I owe you a thank you. For Kate, you know. And congratulations on your pregnancy! I think about you all the time! (See? This is how I draw you out.)
5) Speaking of books, here we go! A Taste of True Blood is coming out on June 21 and I’ve got two copies to give away. Honestly, my chapter aside, there’s some crazy-ass analysis up in this thing, and it includes pieces by writers who are much smarter and more thoughtful than me. (My chapter is about how Bill Compton used to be hot, but now he’s … well, not. I never said I was an intellectual, okay?)
So! I’ll pick a winner at random, but I realize that some of you might not be into this, so if you want to comment AND you want to be entered, just write BOOK ME! somewhere in the comment, and I’ll include you in the, um, drawing. Which will happen electronically using one of those random generator things, which means that no one of the younger generations will even know what a drawing is.
I’ll be closing comments Thursday at 5 p.m. EST, and announcing a winner sometime Friday. Woot.
(Sadly, residents of the United States and Canada are the only ones who are eligible. Sorry, international friends!)
Happy trails! Happy Wednesday!
*KIng Britt and Sister Gertrude Morgan, from the True Blood soundtrack.
And the boxes are almost all entirely unpacked, thanks to my completely neurotic and wonderful husband, who can’t let a packed box lie there and while I’m wrestling a kid and trying to unpack two boxes, he’s got an entire room done and is moving on to the next. It’s fantastic. Fantastic!
My kid, however, doesn’t think sleeping is all that important, and is getting up at 4:40 a.m. and it’s all making me want to KILL MYSELF SLOWLY, because she’s pulling NEWBORN-TYPE SHIT with her schedule — up every two hours, then up FOR THE DAY around 5, but USUALLY EARLIER. I’m a zombie. No wonder I’m not unpacking boxes with any sort of speed.
Speaking of speed, um, our first night here we stayed in a hotel because our furniture wasn’t arriving until the next day, etc. etc. and there was a small incident with the luggage cart that I can’t even BEGIN to explain with any sort of clarity, really. All I can really tell you is that while Adam was unloading the car, I helpfully went to get the luggage cart, baby in hand, and … oh God, you guys. The parking lot was on a steep angle that I hadn’t noticed, and although two people tried to help, I brushed them off, thinking I could handle it, when HA HA! I could not handle it! Not even a little!
The next thing I knew, I was RUNNING DOWNHILL towards Adam and the car with Sam on my hip, desperately trying to outpace the runaway luggage cart, my eyes so wild Adam didn’t know what the hell was wrong with me. I just kept yelling, “GRAB IT! GRAB IT! It’s GOING TOO FAST!” and oh you guys, it WAS. It was INCHES from crashing into like, SIX CARS.
AN EMPTY LUGGAGE CART! And then Adam was laughing too hard to really help me, so I was half on my own yelling, “PLEASE! I CAN’T HOLD IT MUCH LONGER!” And again with the running downhill and the … oh God. He caught it in the nick of time, thank you God.
And then OH THEN, after our stuff arrived and we had mostly unpacked the Fios guy came! FIOS! Look at us, with the modern conveniences like more than one Internet provider and fiber to the home and stuff! And I only had to show my vagina to get it! Oh wait – what?
Yessss. Sometime during the four to five-hour (!) installation process, I had to pee, natch, so I went in the bathroom/laundry room off of playroom (WE HAVE A PLAYROOM) while Sam hung out. I didn’t shut the door to the bathroom so that I could keep an eye on her, but I DID shut the door to the playroom and HALLO, I DID NOT REALIZE THE FIOS GUY WAS GOING TO BE IN THE PLAYROOM. So all of a sudden I looked up and saw the FIOS guy slinking out of the room, clearly hoping I did not see him — apparently he walked in, spied me on the toilet, staring off into space for I don’t even know how long, and tried to escape.
HA HA. HA HA. OMFG. And then I did what any normal person would do in that I SLAMMED the bathroom door shut, effectively blocking my view of Sam, which apparently signaled to him that he could come back IN and then we just pretended like it never happened, although I frankly would like to kill myself slowly, maybe with an asp on my bosom, because seriously.
Nothing is without humiliation. Nothing.
Beyond that, we’ve been getting a thrill a minute, quite literally, as we act like nothing less than the Beverly Hillbillies, going in and out of the various stores and marveling at all the STUFF you can buy. So much stuff! So many stores! The STORES! We stood in a plaza about five minutes from our house and discussed how there was more shopping in this single plaza than in all of Middlebury. And restaurants, OMFG. Indian! Chinese! Middle Eastern! KNISHES. That you can buy in a grocery store! KNISHES! Meat knishes!
And with that, I really have to go. I should be around a lot more lately, but my chapter of Glee is due next week, so I am working a bit, plus the chaos of the house and … yeah. I’ll be around, but also busy. Speaking of Glee, there is still time to contribute your essay for the contest, and have your work included in the same book. Go here for details.
Happy Monday! Happy Adam’s first day at his new job, too.
PS, have you joined the Book Lushes? We’ve got a new book for May (Olive Kitteridge!) and are selecting June’s book now.
I took the dog to get her anal glands squeezed and get a rabies shot today, and if THAT doesn’t set the tone for a day filled with unprecedented awesomeness, I’m not sure what does. No, wait, let me back up: the day started with me cleaning my daughter’s, um, STUFF, out of her armpits after a blowout, which is something that hasn’t happened in MONTHS and happened because … oh God, I don’t even KNOW why (her diaper is the right size, I assure you), but I am sure my future holds a day where I don’t have to wonder if today is going to be the day that I have to clean someone else’s poop out of their armpits, you know?
ARMPITS. This is not unlike the time she was a wee, wee infant and somehow did her business with such force it landed on her FACE.
This was followed up by a rather strongly worded lecture of gibberish as she stood naked at the end of the coffee table this evening, full on SCREAMING at us, complete with arm gestures. Aaaand moments later … more poop. While naked. On the floor. Just after a bath. How delightful!
Internet, I’m sorry for those back-to-back gross stories, but honestly, it’s like I never believed this shit (HA) actually happened until it did, and worse, I’m actually shocked at how unfazed I am by it all. Sure, no one likes to be living with their very own miniature version of Tubgirl, but … well. This is what you sign up for, I suppose.
My nonchalance probably ties back to the fact that frankly, I would rather change an entire preschool full of diapers than clean up one (1) yard of dog poop. Anything but dog poop, folks. ANYTHING.
So hey, um, here’s a pop culture observation a day late and millions of dollars short: There are a PLETHORA of magazine covers dedicated to how Vienna “deceived” Jake (the latest Bachelor, if you were wondering), and honestly, I never really had a problem with Vienna, but that’s not even what I’m about to talk about. What I’m wondering is, why has no one bothered to dissect the fact that this guy is GROSS. JUST GROSS. And … ugh, the guy is just a walking bottle of MASSENGILL and they’re worried about whether VIENNA deceived him? Oh COME ON. They should be worried about the fact that she is YOUNG and IMPRESSIONABLE and is now chained to a DOUCHE.
Hey, you know what sucked? Big Love. The whole season. Sucked. And the finale? SUUUUCKED. I think I’m done. I have no interest in this new world order of theirs. Sorry, Big Love. I quit you. Not even using Peter Gabriel’s cover of “Heroes” in the final scene could redeem you. NOT EVEN PETER GABRIEL CAN SAVE BIG LOVE.
So! Relocating, Or the Potential Thereof. There are so many parts to this story — many moving parts, including jobs that have been left, job offers received and turned down, my years-long strict adherence to Suze Orman that put us in the position to be able to be OK no matter what happens — but the simple emotional part is this: UGGGGHHH. We always knew that Vermont would likely be a temporary stop on our, um, journey (ON THE WINGS OF LOVE), and before that there was Florida, and before THAT was the place I consider home, given that our families are there, and I lived there for ages and ages, which is Boston.
Boston, by the way, is very likely where we’re going to end up, um, eventually. But as it turns out, I like it here — quite a bit, as it turns out, and I wouldn’t mind staying (it’s not off the table entirely). I’m surprised, however, by the emotional response I’m having by thinking of being back home, which is that when I left, I was one person, and when I return, I will be a completely, and I mean COMPLETELY, different one. When I left, I was in my twenties, relatively newly married and way into my career and living a completely stressed-out competitive existence. Now, I’m in my thirties, have a child (and want more), and am neither stressed, nor competitive. And I know you don’t have to be who you were just because of where you are, but, well, I challenge anyone not to make the same comparisons, when you think about it.
It makes me wonder if you really can go home again without some serious emotional turmoil, and the answer appears to be no. The truth is that I am having a hard time with both the uncertainty and with what seems to be the inevitable certainty. (Is this making any sense? It’s just that DETAILS ARE BORING.)
We’ll see. At the moment, it’s the most likely possibility, but in some ways, the country is our oyster. But you know what else? I’m over the nomadic existence. So there’s that, too.
Unexpected introspection! It’s what’s for your Tuesday.
PS, the book has been picked. Get ready for Joan Didion, y’all.
*Peter Gabriel. Yes, from Wall*E. It’s one of my favorite songs. What of it?
Well, ermm, where have I been? God, EVERYWHERE. We went to Boston for a day trip that turned into … a week, because things just kept going ON and ON (Adam job search stuff, yes, we may be relocating again, and just … oh whatever, it’s all long and boring), and then … well, we finally came home, but NOT BEFORE Sam and I got thrush! THRUUUUSSSSH! Have you ever had thrush? No? Let me enlighten you as to what it feels like!
First, take a chip clip or a clothespin, and pin it over your nipple — or, if you’re a gentleman, your scrotum. (This tip from Marie.) Actually, wait — first, what you do is grab some of that fiberglass insulation from your attic. The pink kind. Grind that up (with gloves on!) and smear it all over your boobs (or balls), THEN put the chip clip on. Squeeze repeatedly. Yes, again. Nope, not over yet! AGAIN.
Yessss, that is thrush. And it was complicated by the fact that my kid always sleeps like shit when we’re in the same room, so she wants to SNUGGLE and that includes being all up in my THRUSHY PARTS and … oh, man you guys. And we got rid of it! HAPPY DAY.
AND THEN IT CAME BACK. IT IS HERE NOW, LURKING LIKE A SHADOW. And now, she has a fever. A giant one. OH MY LANDS, LET IT END.
But not before my baby — my teeny, tiny, screaming baby girl — turned one.
My baby is ONE, you guys. She went from this:
Oh man, you guys. She’s such a big, pretty, smart girl. It’s insane, how it happens, isn’t it? Insane.
I’ll be back next week in full force, I promise. I missed you guys terribly.
(In the meantime, the new poll is up for next month’s book at the Book Lushes. I’m behind AGAIN, but am doing MAY next week, so, ah, will fix this! AH SWEAR.)
(Edited to add: JOIN US! It is never too late, even if you can’t read a specific month’s book, you can join the forums anytime.)
Thanks for all of your comments on my last post about letting friends go. I loved your stories, and I feel significantly less guilty, which is, I think, a good thing. Honestly, it wasn’t until I wrote out the situation to a local friend who doesn’t know the party in question that I saw it all in writing and realized, errrm, yes ma’am, all done!
Unfortunately, it bred a bit of paranoia among myself and a few friends when we started discussing what we found morally repugnant and there were a few e-mails exchanged and one friend, God bless her, submitted a LIST of what she found morally repugnant in the friendship-ending sense and PHEW, aren’t we glad we got that out of the way? Our friendship can resume! (I’m not really kidding about that, because ding dong, paranoia, HII-LLOO!)
I’m so grateful the Olympics are over — not because I didn’t enjoy them, because really, I did — but I have only so much tolerance for watching people hurtle down things at a dangerous speed. I spent the majority of the games feeling vaguely nauseated, with a blanket over my head — particularly the bobsledding, because when that shit flips, those dudes go hurtling down on their effing HEADS. Over! OVER!
While I’m at it, let me also add that I am irrationally irritated by Lindsey Vonn — or rather, the media’s obsession with her. It REALLY bugs me that even in something as seemingly egalitarian as skiing, the pretty one always gets the attention. Frankly, I don’t blame Julia Mancuso if she did snark about Lindsey, because as unfair as that is (it’s not Vonn’s fault), I’ll bet that’s annoying and distracting as hell. It happens everywhere. Looks matter. Everywhere, particularly with women. Hell, even in the blogosphere, where writing is supposed to reign supreme, pretty, photogenic bloggers generally perform better than their ordinary counterparts. Heather Armstrong is an extraordinarily talented writer and blogger, but it’s impossible to pretend that her success is not assisted, at least in part, by her model looks — and I do not mean that to denigrate her talent, for it is very real, just as mere fact.
And now! Bullets:
— Book Lushes! Look under the PollDaddy tab on the site, for we’re starting something new: Genres! Themes! THEN picking books! It’s an effort to branch out and keep the selection fresh, as well as pick books with plenty of notice for library-going folks. As soon as I’ve finished the poll, that is. Give me five, yo.
— Sam is saying “HIIIII!” all the time, to everything. To Daddy, the dog, me, the couch, her books, the babies on television. Everything must be greeted with wild enthusiasm, and man, is it ever awesome. She’s also learned how to open her OWN flaps in her peekaboo books, thankyouverymuchMama, and she blows on her food before she eats it, just like I do before I give it to her. The other day, she ate an entire zucchini, sliced up and sauteed with garlic and parmesan and I swear, she would have eaten more of it if she hadn’t already sucked down the whole thing.
While these are simple, mundane details, this is the kind of shit that BLOWS YOUR MIND as a parent. How a small person goes from a little farting blob to a prescient being with food preferences and the ability to verbalize things, however rudimentary, is effing NUTSO. Like an ACID TRIP, I swear to GOD. Not that I would, um, know!
— So the other day, I was watching Regis & Kelly (don’t judge!) (Also, someone please give Kelly Ripa a goddamn CHEESEBURGER already) and Kelly, who annoys the piss out of me, was talking about sheet hygiene, and by that I mean, how often you change your bedsheets. I’m … well, I’m not sure I’m willing to make any admissions just yet, but I WILL say I was comPAHletely aghast when she shared that she (or, you know, her maid, Esmeralda), changes the sheets EVERY OTHER DAY. Am I … is this not excessive? Like, EXTREMELY excessive? Like, EXTREEEEEEMMMMELY excessive? I mean, if you think that’s normal, then, hey! I do, too! I was just kidding!
So, erm, how often do you change your sheets, if you don’t mind me asking? And worse, if you have them, your KIDS’ sheets? (OMFG)