Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I know you're tired. And evil.

A friend talked me into a moratorium on sugar last month, and although I can't say I've held rigidly in the ban, I have been pretty darn good. This morning I put a half-eaten birthday cake in the garbage and moved an unopened-for-three-days bag of Snickers to the side to get the carton of almonds in the back of the cupboard. And then I sat down with my unsweetened coffee and the morning paper and said to myself, "What the hell is wrong with me? Why does eating healthy feel like punishment?"

It shouldn't, of course. I should revel in my new-found energy levels (not) and the variety in my diet (ha) and weight that just falls off (of what?). But to be honest, aside from the fact that coffee sucks without a chocolate side salad, I don't really notice a difference. I tell everyone that it feels great to be rid of the sleepy jags in the late afternoon and that we're eating so much better at home, but I'm a liar. It doesn't feel different, and it kind of sucks, and Halloween sucks! It does. I'm picturing the loot Teeners and Pooey are going to bring home tonight (why do people give toddlers extra candy?), and I'm going to sit there, staring at my one true inanimate love and deny myself the consummation of passion. If I could, I would totally have sex with Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, but like our buddies in the Christian right, I will abstain because that's what good, self-loathing people do. And then I'll lie to my friends and say how great it is to abstain and I'll go picket See's Candy with grotesque pictures of empty candy wrappers and condemn people leaving the store for their weak moral fiber. Giving in to The Sugar is evil.

And that's what it's come down to. Good versus evil. Evil people eat chocolate and like it. Good people eat dried fruit and dream of endless rolling fields of store-bought frosting, but feel really guilty about it and tell everyone else that they're bad. You're all bad and I bet you're really low on energy! Shame on you. For being low on energy. Bad. Very bad. You Sugar-lover.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Falling

I always hate fall, until fall comes. Then I love it in all its bastardly chill. I think of it as the ugly step-child season, but perhaps its precocious prattling will win over my cold cold heart yet again this beautiful day...

Awesome song, awesome harmonica-playing Yeti...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

To be or not to be (a snow day).

When I was young, my dad was a school district administrator, and one of his duties was to decide if we would have school or not on snow days. He would get a call from the bus garage at 5 am, and from across the hall I could hear his authoritative voice discussing with the bus garage boss whether the roads were clear enough to travel safely. Then, for a few painful, exhilarating moments, I would wait to see whether my mom was going to come across the hall to turn off my alarm or, or, or... or not. I got this tense feeling in my stomach, a tiny surge of adrenaline, as if something really great might happen any moment, or, or, or... or not. Like the feeling when you get when you buy a scratch ticket. Or when you're watching a really great movie and the girl might just find the guy at the salad bar after all. Or when the baby's eyes finally droop shut after you've been driving him around late at night.

The feeling of thrilling expectation versus the same-ole, same-ole. That's what it's like when you're selling and buying a house. Each and every time someone comes through with their chipper realtor, the kids and I pack up some yoghurt pretzels and milk and hop in the car to drive up and down Grant Creek Road, and that familiar exciting, nervous feeling grips my stomach. It makes me have to poop, to be honest, but a good kind of poop. The kind where you run in and yank down your pants, not having to fumble with belts and clasps and there's a recent copy of the Sunday funnies and a nice-smelling candle is burning somewhere. And after a modicum of straining, a nicely shaped log plops into the bowl, so perfectly rounded at the tip, that you can tell without looking that wiping will be superfluous, but you do it anyway because the potty paper is soft and tears from the roll easily after a slight tug. That's the kind of poop I'm talkin bout.

So I'm in the car with the quietly chewing kids and a friendly poo is tapping me on the shoulder, and after a 20-minute drive we're back home, checking out which doors were opened and which lights were turned on by the shoppers. And the feeling's not quite gone, but then I head to the can to satisfy my urge and there it turns ugly. The kids demand an audience for their grievances and the bathroom smells like a wet diaper has been removed and lost somewhere. Instead of Sunday funnies there's an old copy of Horticulture magazine and I've read the cactus story a thousand times, and my friendly log is refusing to separate itself from my sphincter, but instead of soft downy potty paper with which to wipe and smear the stubborn chafe, there are a stack of wooden napkins left by myself from the last time I peed and used up all the paper. And I wipe and wipe and wipe while the kids poke and prod and try to through Q-tips in the toilet. I wipe until my arse feels like tenderized strip steak. And then I know. There will be no selling of the house today. Today is not a snow day.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

They took out a liquor store and put in a Body Shop. Are you kidding me?

I'm back, but damn it all if there haven't been two house showings in the last couple days. Remember how Jim was home with the kids alone for 4 days, and remember how clean the house has to be for showings? So, very quickly, Janet looks gorgeous and healthy, baby Matty eats like a baby horsey, and Mass/Conn are just as they should be: pretty, forested, miniature versions of states. Saturday we drove down to Connecticut to catch up with some former soccer teammates, but we got there a little late for the reception, watched the end of a football game, then spent the rest of the time wandering around a campus I haven't seen for 12 years. I wasn't sorry to miss the reunion - the football game was good, the weather couldn't have been better and I nearly broke down in tears every time a memory came rushing back. Naples pizza - I broke up with Tim, my first real boyfrien, right out front during happy hour one Friday, and his reaction set off a car alarm. Toad's - saw Cindi Lauper, Bob Dylan, John McEnroe's band, Violent Femmes twice. 324 Elm St. - lived there for two years through 9 roommates, uncountable keggers, 2 bikes stolen, 3 boyfriends. Saybrook - Janet's and Jim's dorm - say no more...

Here's a little photo montage, with more details maybe later.

-My old house. I took down the condemned sign just for the picture. My room was the one on the left. The bars were added later, I guess.

-Showing the boy how to rush the field after a big overtime win...

-Here's what I think of the Trilateral Commission

-Here's the only classmate we could find. I think Jan and I have aged quite well, don't you?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I looked it up - it's called Sarlacc

I'm going to Boston on Friday and will get back Monday. I made a last minute decision to ditch it all and fly over to see my friend Janet and her fuzzy little baby and now I'm pissing my pants with excitement. (I should be doing Kegels instead of pissing my pants, but they make me feel dirty. Really, why?) I can't decide whether to rent some existentialist Hungarian movies that Jim would never watch (with good reason, I find existentialist theory only good in Greeting Card format) for the plane ride or to read something. I'm getting a little bored with my fiction lately and definitely need a break from my own brain. Perhaps I should visit someone else's thoughts for a while.

I'm not much of a planner, but I while I'm back there I thought we might get down to a soccer team reunion on Saturday. I've never been to a single reunion that wasn't planned by my mother, and the idea is a little frightening. I'm pretty sure we're all carrying a little extra baggage around the belly, but I'm worried nonetheless. What if they ask me to do that hilarious thing I used to do that I can no longer do? (There isn't actually a "thing," but still, they might think so, then I'd be stuck trying to come up with some kind of talent involving a handful of Ruffles and a hair elastic. Wait! I can do that!)

Reunions. I skipped my 10th high school reunion, my 10th college reunion, a second annual with an accountant (which isn't as much of a reunion as a really tortuous exercise in sleep deprivation). But then recently I got walloped with a disgusting bout of nostalgia, and all the truly annoying and bizarre behaviors of my former teammates seem sweet and well-intentioned. Remember how that chick used to do keg stands then try to beat holes in the walls with her forehead? How clever! Remember that other girl whose boobs would sweat two perfectly round shapes on the front of her t-shirt? Adorable! Remember how we all had body image issues and eating disorders were more common than blisters? Wonderful!

Nostalgia reminds me of that toothy-sandy vagina that Jaba the Hut watched people thrown into while he slapped Carrie Fisher's ass. The big sandy pit with sharp teeth and a pretty pink throat. Or a slippery slope. Pick your analogy, it's not a good thing. I'm typically a realist when it comes to memories, but for some reason, I'm having a hard time processing a lot of the crap I was dealing with in college in a realistic fashion. When I first heard about the reunion I admit to being excited and surprised. Surprised for being excited, because I would typically snort and make some derisive comment about that spazzy Super Frosh that wore a bow in her hair for her first game. And I worried that my excitement meant that I was getting soft. That or suppressing the bad stuff. But it's been two weeks now, and I'm still excited, and because I feel less sarcastic and critical today, I'm going to say perhaps I'm just over it? It wasn't all that bad, I'm a good person today, and maybe, MAYBE, some of those people are interesting and not at all drunk, sweaty or bedecked in bows. Or maybe I just want to see if anyone is gay.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I love you, deux!

Back to that. Part deux in the saga of why I was a brainy math geek, but couldn't remember my locker combination...

When we left off I had garnered myself a "real" engineering job. One in which I couldn't just trot around in tight jeans and dig trenches while shooting the shit with other 20-somethings that were pretending to be scientists. This job was about making computer chips, and my position was in the plasma etch group. Yeah, fer real. I was in charge of several pieces of equipment that did bizarre things with strange gasses and were critical steps in making computer chips that made money for the company. The bottom line: my shit better work or I would be publicly ridiculed by our 4'10" cigarrette-stinkin Napolean engineering manager. And for the most part it did, but on occasion I would be called into his den to regale him with the finer points of SC1 clean vs an ozonated water single-wafer clean process, and being a good engineer I'd fill him in on the details. Details that were completely made up. Because I can't remember numbers for shit. But I was getting good at pretending and looking very confident, so Mr.Napolean relied on my "knowledge" in a critical and specific area of the process. I went home at night happy because Mr.Napolean was a dickhead, and I had gained a small position of power over him because I knew something he didn't know. Or more accurately, I didn't know something that he didn't know. And it happened again and again. My boss would ask me for the results of a test I'd done a thousand times, and I'd pretend to rattle of the results and call it good. A coworker would ask me what something or other specification was that I should know better than my phone number and I'd make up a number that seemed reasonable and call it good. I bluffed my way through meetings with heads of departments and angry bosses. I shimmied and jangled if I was asked directly for hard numbers. The longer I worked the better I pretended.

Now is where you're expecting the part of the story where I faked something and there was a disaster and the factory imploded and people died, right? Well, it'd be cliche, but far more interesting than reality. The reality was I kept getting promoted and nice raises. Which all gave me a false sense of confidence in my abilities as an engineer. I was a decent engineer, but if I learned anything at all in those six years, it was how to act like I knew what I was doing. I was the freakin Sir Lawrence Olivier of the clean room.

Many many years ago I was interviewed for a job right out of college and the idiot behind the enormous desk asked me, "So you went to such a fancy school, does that mean you think you're smarter than everyone else?" After a bried stunned silence, I put my eyeballs back in my head and said, "Well, no, but I do think I learn faster than other people. Put me in any situation and I will adapt very quickly." So now, when people assume that I'm brilliant because I was an engineer, I laugh and say, "No, not brilliant. But really good at pretending to be." I'm a fake, and proud of it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday Concoction

First off, thanks to Nancy for nominating one of the Friday Concoctions for a ROFL Award. As I commented on her site, I enjoy writing funny, but it's difficult to make it original. There's so much funny stuff out there, half the time I can't remember whether my stuff is original or not. And with that, I give free license to call me on something I've said that was blatantly lifted from elsewhere. So thanks, Nance! I appreciate being recognized for doing something well that doesn't involve kicking, calculating, or diapering (my other previous areas of dubious distinction). And that code you sent for the button thingy - do I just put it right in here... ROFL button ... hmm looks okay... I feel like I'm straightening a picture, but standing too close and therefore don't have perspective on whether it's straight or not... which I guess is how I feel a lot of the time, actually...

Which brings me to my last post and my aborted thoughts on staying home and being bored and blogging and arguing with the spousal unit about boredom, blogging and bedbathandbeyond... LetterB had this to say, which I promptly memorized and spewed word for word to my confused husband as he was trying to help Madeleine put on her inside-out-and-backwards pajamas:
I wish you had kept going too. It's not boring, it's what so many of us struggle with. What makes me so happy about blogging is that I am able to hang onto a scrap of my identity as a writer. I might be cleaning mac'n cheese off the wall, i might be reading the goddamn Fire Engines book for the 50th time, i might be eating my lunch in the shower but i know at some point I'll be able to sit down and write something about it. To be able to record and comment and shape my wee existence into a little bit of art is incredibly important to me. (That people actually read what I write and respond is the icing on the cake). I also really love being able to read what other people have to say about their experiences on their blogs because it expands my perspective on life and momdom and can be a wonderful release (especially when reading a talented and funny writer like you). I guess what I mean to say is that you will have to pry my laptop from my cold, dead hands, motherf*ckers. Ahem.

And then he said, "I don't want to take your laptop away! ??" and I said, "No, that's not, no, why didn't you, huh? Did you hear all the other stuff before that?" And then I went and took two Dramamine because I felt a tinge of nausea and then I passed out on the couch and dreamed of mice and oil tanker car wrecks and my friend Janet's baby being lost at a flea market until Pooey padded into the living room at 2 am and patted me on my face, thus giving notice it was time to come to bed. And this morning, which part do I remember most vividly? The mouse crawling from beneath a wrecked oil tanker.

Notice, I have now officially submitted two writing pieces.

Does Dramamine stay in your system for over 16 hours? I feel fucking weird. Like my eyeballs are too big.

Song of the day: Looking at the World from the Bottom of Well, Mike Doughty (or, also entitled Trying to Straighten a Painting as You Stand Inside It...)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Grab Bag

Jim and I had another discussion the other night about the wonder of blogging and how it is destroying life as we know it. About how when he gets home we deal with children and maybe eat or maybe just stand in front of the fridge and graze and then I get on the computer. The internet. That dirty word. And it's all true. I agreed with him, but also tried to explain how reading blogs and then writing refreshes me. Makes me feel like I'm a grown human with a working mind instead of some kind of vacuum cleaner life guard hostage negotiator. This went back and forth and I tearfully regaled him with the tedious and mind numbing tasks I encounter every five minutes and how it saps me emotionally and mentally and how important it is to find something that can refill the coffers. And then came the inevitable question, "If you don't like staying home with the kids, why don't you try to find a part-time job or something?"

I don't hate this question, and I'm not even that irritated at him for asking, because he really can not understand the struggle. I don't think men in general are clueless... ACK! Oh jee-ZUS I sound like such a freakin prick for complaining about this situation, don't I?? I mean, I actually have a CHOICE in the matter which is a better fate than 95% of mothers out there face. In fact, screw it. I can't type any more of this tripe. There are some things that trouble us that are either too trivial, gross or just plain annoying to subject others too. This, for one. This stupid-ass complaint that I get bored at home and then we argue about the best way for me not to be bored.

Let's instead talk about dreams. Okay, this is a grey area in the Subjects that Annoy the Hell Out of Listeners. So I won't go into detail, because...zzzzzz.... right? Well there were a lot of snakes. Everywhere and they weren't particularly scary, just numerous. And then there was some driving too fast on really bad roads. And there. That's enough about that...

Now onto tattoos. I have one on my ankle like this:

And I decided I want to get another one. Maybe something like this either down my calf or around my upper calf.

And also I want to get these:
You know? They spin around when you're stopped at a light. In downtown Missoula. Wouldn't that be fly?

Okay, and let's wrap up this trash taco with this: Scribble Dabble Scrabble. There, that'll funk you up.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday Concoction

I promised several of you I would submit something by today, but realized too late that I don't have a printer and the two magazines in my sights require mail-in submissions. So. Hmph. Well, here is what I'm going to print and send to The Sun for their Readers Write topic on "Praying" when Jim gets back from the boonies. Sunday. I'll print it, address it, lick it, mail it and then chew all my fingernails off and eat 11 handfuls of almonds.

When I was a child I remember praying in gulping, crying bursts. “Dear God, please don’t let Alfie be dead, please, please, please.” Or, “Oh God Oh God Oh God, make her come home.” I associated prayer with sobbing. Pleading, choking tears. It was a last resort, when I was too small to do anything. We went to church a handful of Sundays every year. Enough to know the Lord’s Prayer, at least, but this never seemed like a prayer to me. It didn’t have the same urgency. What was a transgression? Why did I care if someone trespassed against me? Even at that age I didn’t connect prayer with church.

As a teenager I was exposed to Christian fundamentalism during an 8th grade slumber party and became repulsed by the idea of organized religion in its entirety. At 13 I told my mom I wasn’t going to Sunday School any more. A heavy science background in college solidified my doubt into unapologetic atheism. I was proud of my belief, as one devoid of hypocrisy and half-guesses. It made me feel independent and smart.

A week ago my 15-month-old ran a fever. So hot it was uncomfortable to hold him. His fiery, naked body draped over mine, but still he shivered as his system tried to heat him more, to kill the pathogens. In the middle of the night I said a silent prayer, crying involuntarily at my helplessness. But to Whom? To What? It didn’t matter.

Then after this is done I will have that rock lifted from its comfy resting place and it will bounce along, going faster and faster as I generate more and more words to stick in more and more envelopes. My tongue will be calloused and tacky from all the licking. My desk will be dotted with folders labeled by publication, topic, submission date and I will feel a sense of calm, as only one with a drawer full of sharpened pencils and 5 different sizes of sticky notes can feel. And then I'll be doing something about It.

Now, for something completely different, I'll give you a list of the things I just sent to my BFF Janet who just had a gorgeous, hungry little baby. I think it's a pretty good care package...
- Hand-me-downs. Of course. And they're clean and soft.

- Gripe Water. Best stuff ever. I'm not sure what the rest of the developed world is doing about their colicky, gassy babies, but when we discovered this (recommended by the lactation clinic in Portland) it saved my sanity. Best stuff ever. Apparently it works well for morning sickness too...

- Good, rich, dark, naturally decaf tea. I had no stomach for coffee, even the virgin stuff, until about a year after I had Madeleine, and it took me forever to find a good hearty morning tea that wouldn't make my baby turn into Linda Blair after nursing.
- Quiet music: Greg Brown, Further In (you gotta check out his site, just to see what he's wearing); Nick Drake (admit it, you're getting a little sick of me talking about him); and an instrumental Beatles album. At first I hated the idea of the Beatles thing, but Madeleine goes to sleep to it every night and it reallly is quality musicianship.

- And some other stuff I forgot to include: Kandoos (these little butt-wipes are the best when you've got a mess on your hands...), Double Haul IPA (some friends in town own the local brewery and are now "bottling" their Excellent IPA in cans because Missoula doesn't recycle bottles, and rafters can take the cans on the river without worrying about broken glass in the streams AND I'm sure it would help with milk production...), and lastly, I forgot to tell her to eschew the goddamn thank you note. The worst invention ever. I'm sorry, but I truly despise writing thank you notes. And especially when I've just pushed a bowling ball out my 'gina and I'm wearing an adult diaper and crying about the fact that we're almost out of Ziploc bags. Jan? NO THANK YOU NOTES! TO ME!

And also:
- Thanks to Tink for muscling through my inadequacies with CSS and making word jumbles and stuff. Your music should be there early next week, Tink-a-bink-a-bottle-of-ink. Has anyone found all the hidden words?

- I really like this t. Except that the lobes look a little sac-ish.

- My mom sent me a link to this advice site, and I'm finding it very helpful for several minor mom-issues. Just a shout out.

- Happy weekend, yo.

Song of the Day... SexyBack, J.Timberlick... I'm serious - this makes me shake ALL of my ass.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Beware. Not feeling very collected today.

I was just talking to my mom about magazines we're currently reading, and she mentioned she was going to get a subscription to HipMama for my sister-in-law, then she said, "Hey - why don't you submit something to them?" Yes, why don't I? I have no fear of rejection. In fact, I welcome it as incentive to do better. I don't worry about putting my personal life out there. If you read much here, you know by now I vomit my ultra-personal chunks all over the internet. In fact, this magazine is exactly what I'm suited for, at this point in my life. So what's the problem? I'm anal. But closet anal. I'm not proud, like I would be if I were in fact closet prissy. (Which I might be, because I've suddenly become addicted to buying eye shadow, even though I know shit about how to put it on.) The only way you'd discover my true analisciousness is if you saw the organization of my files in my computer. I'm not anal about cleaning, organization of our finances, anything like that. In fact, I occasionally throw extrememly critical things away or neglect to pay important bills. But anything related to work or writing is categorized, labeled, folded, stamped, and otherwise compartmentalized to death. I don't like random files hanging around on my computer screen or on my workspace. I am, in the deepest, darkest part of my soul, a freaking organizational angel of death. And that is why I'm frozen into inactivity with respect to pursuing a writing gig. I can't get my shit together, literally, because all my labels, folders, paperclips and other sundry crutches are packed away in our storage unit. In addition, my office space doubles as the breezeway between the living room and the dining room, and the only storage I have is the hidden 5 square inches behind my laptop. I can not in any way send out letters even remotely related to work if I don't have my lovely folders and paperclips. I'm like a pageant princess without her make-up, or Paris Hilton without the papparazzi. I'm just floating in space, waiting for that which makes me real.

Or is this all just another way for me to blame my inadequacies on our house that won't sell? Because if that's the case, I'm fine with that. Our house that won't sell caused Quinn to hit Madeleine in the side of the head with maglight, our house that won't sell forced Jim to go hunting again today because he hasn't yet Got His Elk, which means I had to reschedule for the 5th time a pedicure that will likely not happen until I have corns, our house that won't sell is dragging out this cold of mine for now the 13th day and forcing me to spit green chunks out my car window and sometimes miss and therefore wipe green chunks off of my car window, and our house that won't sell is most likely responsible for that unusual smell in my car that won't go away even though I finally removed my bag of soccer gear that was turning into a science project in the backseat.

So what's it gonna be boy, Our House that Won't Sell or Analiscious. Who's gonna take the blame for all my issues? Who's gonna take the blame for this bizarre collection of words I just threw all over the screen? I'll blame the house. It's a prick and needs a good beat-down.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Mom's Wisdom

These are things my mom taught me. Important things. Things for a girl to put in her toolbox and go forth to take on the world!

- Shoes on the table is bad bad luck!

- If you pick at the skin on your toes you'll get cancer.

- Sitting to close to the tv will give you cancer.

- Chewing on your lips will give you cancer.

- If you eat raw spaghetti, you'll get worms.

Were you as prepared as I was?