Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Whenever I am at Papyrus, I buy B a card. Some occasion is always around. And, even if it isn't, cards are good to have. I swear I have purchased 62 anniversary, 127 V day, and 3391 love birthday cards for her. I don't know where any of them are. 

Well, that isn't exactly accurate. To be more precise, I currently know where all 62 of the anniversary cards are, since that is ten months away. And I have an inkling about some likely places for the love birthday and V day cards, but that will surely change come February, as is the Eternal Way. This is how Papyrus gets me. I think I am being so clever--buying a card in advance, when it is convenient for me. But those things come with anti-homing devices. They are magically/technologically equipped to get lost. 

One time I got the notion to make a hanging file labeled "cards" and put the cards all in it. Then I came across the thing, when looking for tax documents or something, and wondered to self, "cards? What are those??" Like: actually-- I didn't know what I could have meant by it. Could I have been speaking in code? To protect my secret documents from the NSA? I then proceeded to analyze the handwriting, because surely I would remember making such a file, had it been me. Indeed, it seemed far more likely that someone else would have sneaked into my house and labeled a file and put it into my cabinet than that I would forget anything ever. 

The only problem was the handwriting looked a lot like mine! So I recognized own handwriting, but couldn't remember what I might have meant by "cards." Looking inside the file was no help, since was empty. Eventually, it dawned on me that, by "cards," I meant cards. Yo, genius. I still haven't managed to get the cards into the file. I am far too busy playing video games and trying to write my sure-to-be-a-blockbuster YA/sci-fi/smut/satire novel.

Looking back, I now have the strange sense that the cards have each ended up in the paper recycling, after one of my minimalist fits. Thus begins a vehement harangueing of self, because I am several different kinds of loser, all at once! Forgetful! Impulsive thrower awayer of all the things! Unable to recognize own handwriting or make sense of own secret (not) code! And! Literal loser of cards! 

B does the same thing. And then we both forget which cards we have given. Sometimes, I will buy a card and remember having read it, and bought it, but I don't know if I ever gave it to her. So, on every holiday, we have a moment for disclaimers. They go something like this: "so, I may have given you this card before, but I'm pretty sure that even if I did, I wrote something different the last time. And it's not that I'm cheap or that I don't love you. Have spent PLENTY on cards. Probably more than that necklace, even. Oops, now you know what's in the box! Sorry."

Who says I'm not romantic?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Spirits and Spirit Animals

You may recall, all three of you who read this, that I was looking for a spirit animal. Some time ago. I had no real preference, except that it could not, for obvious reasons, be an elephant. Obvs reasons = FAT!

Anyway, the impetus for this was that my Myers Briggs type had changed, and I felt, deeply within my soul, that the prior spirit animal (which I'd never actually gotten around to choosing) was no longer appropriate. I am sure you understand the urgency of this matter. Because, like, I have nothing else to do but navel gaze.

Anyway, somebody posted a link on FB that told me I was a dolphin: so that is decided. I am okay with dolphin. Mainly because they are not usually fat.

dolphin, lithely leaping from the water. Pls excuse the typo. It is not mine.

Also, a friend of mine posted this link which tells you what kind of wine you are, if you know your Myers Briggs. And if you don't know your Myers Briggs, then what are you doing all day? Clearly not answering silly questions on websites! I have two words for you people: missing out.

I am, of course, champagne, which makes me absurdly happy. I feel a sense of Great Accomplishment that the beverage I would be, were I a beverage, according to my Myers Briggs type, which I discovered through the Completely Objective Scientific Process of answering multiple choice questions on a website, is so deeply aligned with my Whole And Truest Self. 

I also noticed today, as my little children (the ones I teach, not the one I bore) ran the Turkey Trot at school, that I feel a sense of Great Accomplishment when they cross the finish line. It has no sense to it whatsoever. I see Child X (not her real name), whom I taught, run, and I am almost teary with pride. Literally I have to hide my face, or others will see that I'm practically weeping with joy over this dumb thing which I had nothing to do with. Why? Because I am insane. Who's with me?

Maybe it has something to do with the dolphin. Or the champagne.*

Anyway, this all reminds me of one time this friend of mine got a job doing social media marketing for a spiritual business advisor. She (the friend--let's call her Dawn) and the SBA (let's call her Rita) had some kind of email exchange about the position and the terms that went something like this:

Rita: Dearest Luminescence,
I have decided that I would be eternally in your debt if you would please consider being my social media marketing consultant. I know that we have only begun to know each other (and never actually met), but I feel it is not too early to say that I love you. I can feel your remarkable aura pulsating through the universe, and I must say I am deeply moved. Please consider my offer. I will, of course, pay you $25 an hour, but we both know that is beside the point. 

Dawn: Thank you, thank you! I do not know how you managed to do so, but you have inferred my deepest desiring, which is to work for you as your social media marketing consultant. I didn't want to tell you because I, also, felt it was too soon, but I have loved you for as long as I remember--at least since Thursday last. You may not recall because it was such a trifle to you, but on that day you emailed asking me to post a twitter update involving small business taxes and how they relate to the root chakra, and, as I did so, I realized that my own root chakra was misaligned! I went immediately to my accupuncturist, and he cured me of this wrong, which I am certain would have shortly resulted in my death. So, you see, my magnificent empath, that I have had my very life saved by you, and I am sure it was fated that we work cooperatively in this manner. I would do anything to serve you, and please do not degrade it by mentioning pay again! (But $25 an hour is fine.)

Rita: Oh, heavenly rapture! When I recieved your email accepting the role of social media marketing consultant, I wept tears of joy. Words cannot describe how glad I am that we will be able to collaborate symbiotically to sell my shit. 

And so on. I know what you're thinking. These people are all insane, and what is this blog post even about? 


The end.

*note: I do not drink at work, no matter the temptation.

Monday, November 18, 2013

No Open Door

Help. B had moment of insanity and offered Ari the choice to sleep with his door open. Insanity! He won't! He can't! But, of course, he will say yes when offered opportunity. As he would say yes if offered chance to sleep with loaded submachine gun, dissected frog, porcupine, wet popsicle, hot burning coal, or other such items. 

WHOLE ENTIRE BEDTIME was made eternal and difficult by door open suggestion. And then! He came out saying she'd promised him he could. And then! She! Continued to entertain the INSANE INSANE INSANE notion of him sleeping with his door open. Which he will not do! Because he has slept with it closed for five years, and we have a cat who will jump on his head. And I want to have sex sometimes, and we have to sleep with our door open because otherwise said cat will yowl at the door to get out (if in) or to get in (if out) at top volume, keeping everyone up. Also, she has claws and will scratch at the door and will stop doing so at intervals just long enough for us all to begin to fall asleep before starting up again, jolting us out of Blissful Slumber. So, since our door must be open, Ari's must be closed or my sex life will be forever ended, which of course we cannot have.

You see why Ari cannot, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, sleep with his door open. I swear if I could I'd perform brain surgery on my only child just to get that idea out of his head. As it is, we threatened withholding allowance. That seems to have worked for the moment. 

Also, look at this:

Is he a cutie, or what?

The end.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


I have many, many beliefs about fashion. They all contradict each other. This is because I am such A Vast Complexity. My favorite fashion topic is NYC, where people can wear anything they want. Typically, most of them look like Space Aliens, but that is ok because everybody else looks like a Space Alien, too! They do a lot of what I like to call Two Hat Fashion. This involves wearing two hats at the same time. I named it after those hip hop 15 year-olds who wear two trucker hats at once, with the bills turned in different directions, neither one of which is forward. 

In NYC they go beyond even this absurdity. They wear sombreros and tiaras at the same time. They over-accessorize, and it confuses me. They wear couture on the street, and for some reason, no matter the season, all couture has like, built-in accessories, and crazy ones. For instance, there might be a deceased reptile dangling from a sweater. Or like, a keyboard (non-functioning--just for show) attached to the sleeve. So, this is Two Hat Fashion, and NYC has it bad.

I'm not a Two Hat grrl, but I do borrow elements, sometimes. I like a lot of bracelets. Not too many. Like two. I like bright colors. Lately, I like stripes and dots at the same time. Sometimes I wear two scarves. That's like two hats, right?

I have a lot of fashion habits. I usually wear at least two shirt-like garments, even in summer. I get cold. If I wear a t-shirt, it is Very Important that the hem sticks out beneath my sweater. I do not know why this is so.

But let me tell you about my new love, which is not a houseguest and doesn't play ping pong or Ping Pong, but is a coat. I bought this coat as retail therapy, sight unseen. I ordered an XS (men's), and to my astonishment, it fits! Also, it is perfect. It's wool, to which I am kind-of-maybe allergic, but you know. Fashion before comfort. 

This doesn't capture the loveliness because pictures cannot do justice, but you get the idea. I like the red. Love the squarish cut of the zipper pulls. Love love love that red piping, and the thousand pockets, and the white striped sleeve lining, and the toggle buttons. I feel like a little girl with a new dress. 

So, I took this picture in the carpool lane, which moves not at all for 15 minutes at a time, and I got honked at because I did not immediately jettison my car forward when the car in front of me moved imperceptibly, creating a two centimeter gap. And I was like:
"Shut. Up. Motherfucker! Do you not see I am TAKING PICTURES OF MY LOVE?"

Luckily, they did not hear me, and then I ran over a cone. It rolled into the little sixth grade safety patrol, and she tripped and fell, so I was Satan. Yeah, generally, it wasn't a good day at the carpool lane. 

But then, during my second 15 minute wait time, I was looking around, and I spotted a piece of lint on my thigh, which I gobbled up. I thought it was chocolate. When I realized it was lint, I thought, "omg, I've eaten lint. Wool lint! To which I am allergic! Will I die? I hope I don't die. But wait! How utterly insensitive of me to be concerned about my own health when I have eaten part of My Love!"

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking the Coat is navy, and thus makes navy lint, and chocolate is brown. And there was no chocolate in that car, anyway. What can I say? Wishful thinking? Bad lighting?

The end.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lights Out

I am blogging when I should be grading narratives. But! I'm having a problem this year: some of these stories are good! It makes me want to read them, not grade them. A lovely problem to have.

"'How dare he play off beat!' she said to John. He frowned and nodded in agreement. She went to find the drummer to tell him off, but when she saw him, a great wave of sadness suddenly overtook her, and she almost began to cry. She couldn't help it. She had never in her life seen a man with such miserable eyes."

I know it isn't The Most Original Ever Thing, but I was pretty much dying to know what happened next, and why that poor drummer was so sad. Right? And it was prettily put. I like that "she couldn't help it." (That was a blended quote, btw, which every one of my seventh graders can do--blindfolded, and with their hands tied behind their backs.) I like the rhythm of the thing. Rhythm is so crucial in writing, even expository writing, and I don't know why no one gets this. Rhythm in writing, the sounds of the words in your mind as you read them, is key. Just my opinion, people, but I'm right.

I think the reason my kids are writing so much better this year is that I don't entirely suck. I've figured out my style, and I'm in it. I used to struggle to find something that worked, watching other teachers and trying to be like them if they were good. But I'm not imitating anyone anymore. I'm teaching the same classes I taught last year for the first time ever, and I feel completely spoiled having everything prepped out. I mean, I change it, but it's to make it better, not to ohpleasegodletmehavesomethingtoteach
themtomorrowsoicangohome. And I can make it a lot better, because it was thrown together the first time through. I'm in my own room all day, and nobody is in there but me, so I don't have to spend time moving my work space. 

Also, I've learned a lot about classroom management. I've created this persona, and it totally works. I yell, and I whisper. It's very dramatic. I'm very formal and stiff, but then, when they least expect it, I kick off my Danskos and perch on the air conditioner and twirl my scarf and shoot the shit with them. It is so much fun. When someone in the classroom does something like interrupt me, I take my time. I take a long pause. For drama. I am mortally offended, etc, etc. Last year I would've rushed, thinking I had so much to cover I didn't have time to glare for 35 seconds. This year I know better. If you glare for 35 seconds, they think you're crazy. They whisper about you in the hallway.

"Did you hear about Ms. S totally flipping out because Ashwin tried to speak while she was speaking?" 

This is very effective: you want them gossiping about you. All I did was glare. Or maybe I whispered, "excuse me." But I play that shit out. I don't care if it takes the entire class period. The next thing you know Ashwin is telling his buddies I threatened to launch a nuclear missile because he doesn't wanna seem like a wuss, and everyone is writing four drafts of their narrative when I only asked for two. Real drafts, even--that look totally different from the version before. With growth and process and shit.

The other thing I do is I tell them why I freak out. I say, "I want to get your papers back to you on Monday. So, I do not wish to spend 16 hours correcting things you already know, or moving your staple because you put it in the wrong place." And here I sometimes pause and twitch for a bit, acting as if the mere thought of a misplaced staple is ghastly and debilitating. It kind of is, actually, once you've moved 150 times however many papers they write. You'd think it doesn't matter where the staple is, but you'd be wrong. These are seventh graders. You try reading a paper that is stapled in the absolute middle, or in the shape of a goddamned boy band. (I know. You cannot fathom. I couldn't either, at one time. I mean: what shape is a boy band, anyway?)

When I give my How To Turn In A Paper speech, the students are riveted. They're taking notes. Nobody told them to. But I walk by, and they are letting each other copy the parts they missed, and on Sean's paper, it says, "STAPLE. Only one! Not in middle! Not in shapes!" And I haven't even really started yet. Then I start talking about what it means, on a karmic level, to waste the life you have been given and the moments of everyone else's lives in this classroom saying anything less than relevant. And then! I give them Cs. Not all of them, mind you. But some. The ones who half-assed it. I mean: really? You are getting me for free, and you don't try? This is the statement you want to make with your moment? This moment? The one that you will never have again? I do not think so.

When I was in grad school, there was a principal I really admired. She used to be an English teacher. She said to me once, "Men have lots of power. The only power women have is drama." I dismissed this comment (but not really, since I remember it) as sexist. Now I see that she was only responding to the rest of the world's sexism. And she was right.

We all think of drama as a bad thing. I suppose. But those kids wrote four drafts. Four, people. Not all of them, but definitely a third. Today we had a department meeting, and I asked, "um. . . the 7th graders this year--is anybody else having them write four drafts?" 

"That seems a bit much," said one. "Why do you do that?"

"No, I mean--are they doing this without being required to." 




"Huh. No, don't be crazy. Nobody does that. Are they sick? Like OCD? Are you making this up?"

Today somebody called me to say her kid was having a hard time in my class.

"Good," I said.

She laughed. "You're such a bad-ass. We love you."

This was not the response I expected. Parents are all so relieved to have somebody working their kids. It's like nobody else does it. Could this be?

This brings me to a related (not) topic. My child has the massively annoying habit of switching on and off the light switch and locking and unlocking doors. He loves to do this. It sounds not so bad, I realize. But you have to be here. He cannot stop. He has broken lamps, trying to play with them. He has plunged us into darkness at the worst possible time. He has made our poor morning eyes suffer from too much light. He has shut the cat into every room, one at a time. He's locked us all out on the balcony. Locked in, locked out. It all sucks. He cannot resist. I have forbidden him to touch any lights or locks. He knows and can recite. 

"What are the only two things I ask of you in this life?" I say. 

"Don't touch any locks or lights," he says, as he turns off the kitchen light at the exact moment I need to look at something which is BURNING OVER AN OPEN FLAME. Then he dances over to the balcony and locks himself out there, for good measure. Why, why? Just: why?

The end.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Myers Briggs

Casey, my Houseguest, was staying at my house the other week, as a Houseguest is wont to do. B was in San Francisco. Casey helped with Ari. Then we stayed up late (for me) and sat on the porch a lot, as is required in my house, for anyone, really, but especially Houseguests.

Casey is into quizzes--like personality ones. She has a book on genotypes, and is also into the Myers Briggs, and the Enneagram, and oh I don't know a ton of stuff. She has categorized the bejesus out of me and my family members. My genotype is hunter, which explains why I love meat (also--it is good, yo) and why I jump ten feet at any sudden noise and am a morning person and why my sense of smell is better than is good for me and why I'm graceful mostly, but a total spaz if I have to carry shit. (Other genotypes do the carrying. I only carry a spear, mothafuckas!)  I'm an enthusiast/helper on the Enneagram thing (You are supposed to pick only one, but my score was tied! What am I supposed to do?) I am, or so I'd thought, an INFJ on the Myers Briggs doohickey. And a rat and an Aries with Cancer moon and Cancer rising, and my favorite number is 7, or sometimes 9, except when it's 326 (kidding--who the hell likes 326?), and my spirit animal is the Tasmanian devil (or sometimes, Animal from the Muppets), and my colors are blaze and leaf and seafoam. (I may have mentioned this last bit before. If so, deal with it. Colors are fun!)
This is Casey's spirit animal. But, I think she cheats: Human beings don't count as spirit animals. If they did, we'd all be David Bowie!
For some reason, recently, I've been feeling more like an E than an I (on the Myers Briggs), so I took the test again. And! My whole situation has altered!

Imagine my alarm. First of all, the test authors cannot spell extrovert. Doesn't that seem like something they might want to check on? I mean: If you're writing a word 23593 times all over your site, here's a tip: look it up! But, beyond that, what does all this mean? Well, from what I understand I now like other people more than self, and I am a P instead of a J. P is for pussy. J is for jerk. I think actually it's supposed to be perceiving and judging or some shit. Whatevs. We all know what Myers and Briggs were afraid to say. 

Evidently, though, B and I are much more compatible now that I am a pussy instead of a jerk. And I am more compatible with Casey and many other of my peops, too. I guess because, by definition, a pussy will bend to the will of others. Perhaps I should change my spirit animal because Animal is no pussy. But, what shall I be? A dove or something? Gag me. Right? And a dove is not an extrovert. So, I guess I'd better be a phoenix. Or a penguin? Phoenix is kind of badass, and now that I'm a pussy, I don't get to be badass anymore. Bumble bee would be cute, even if it is a bug. And they totally seem like emo, extroverted pussies. I don't care what any of you bitches say: I'm not being an elephant! Just drop that idea right there. I shan't be an enormous, smelly beast, no matter how genius it is. I do not care that they cry and shit, either. Cry all you want, elephants; you'll never be my spirit animal. Sigh. It is all so complicated, this navel-gazing we must endure from selves! How does anyone survive it? Truly.

The end.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Game That Don't Make Sense

One time in recent memory, Ari was barfing. I'm his Preferred Vomit Receptacle. Meaning: He feels he cannot properly barf without me holding him and pressing my skin as completely against his as possible for the duration. For some reason that is probably extremely anti-feminist, I like this. Except, of course, when it is happening. Then, I think it's gross. But I like to brag to people about my status as the PVR. It is an honor. Truly. It pretty much requires that I catch the disease, and then we barf and refuse to eat in synchronicity, and poor B, who has a stomach of steel, has two babies to deal with.

It was at a time like this, when Ari began to enjoy games and conversations that make no sense. It's difficult to confuse me; I'm actually pretty sharp. So I have to hand it to him. If I can't make sense of this stuff, no one can. But, just in case--here are some examples:

Exhibit A
Scene: the bathroom. Everyone is naked, to prevent clothing from being barfed on.
Ari: (spinning a ball on a string and paddle around in circles) Mommy! Waiw's (aka where's) the ball?
Self: (pointing) There.
Ari: (giggling, because this is so much fun) No. Waiw's the ball? 
Self: Bunny, I just told you! It's right there.
Ari: (giggling more) No, mommy. Waiw's the ball? Be pesific! (aka specific)
Self: Look. I just told you where it is. Whaddya want? Latitudinal coordinates or some shit?
Ari: No, thank you. Just tell me waiw the ball is!
Self: Is this a trick question? Does it even have an answer?? The ball. Is in. The bathroom. With us. Attached to a string, which is attached to a paddle, which is in your hand!
Ari: (calmly, and still giggling) Mommy, waiw's the ball?
Self: If you don't shut up, I'm going to throw the ball in the toilet and flush, buddy.
Ari: (singing) Waiw, oh, waiw has my little ball gone?
Self: Oh, my god. I hate this game.
Ari suddenly barfs, missing toilet and hitting me.

Exhibit B
Scene: Car on the way home from school.
Ari: Mommy, I can't dwive.
Self: I know, bunny. It's okay. 
Ari: But, how wiw (aka will) I learn?
Self: When you're 16, you'll take a class.
Ari: But I can't dwive! How wiw I be able to dwive? I can't even wead, so how wiw I know the speed limit?
Self: (being drawn into the five-year-old logic) Well, you can read numbers. The speed limit is a number. (Pause. Then, an afterthought!) Oh, but! When you are 16 you will be able to read.
Ari: I wiw?
Self: Yes. I am fairly certain. I'm a reading teacher. I can tell these things.
Ari: (suspiciously) Okay. If you say so. (Pause) But, Mommy! I don't know waiw the go button is, and I don't know waiw the stop button is, and I can't see over the steewing wheel!
Self: Yes, I know, sweetie. This is why five-year-olds don't drive.
Ari: (panicking) How wiw I get to work? How wiw I get to Tarjay (aka Target)??
Self: Please try to calm down. I will take you until you're old enough to drive. That's what parents do. And you don't have a job, bunny.
Ari: But I wiw! Or how wiw I pay the biws (aka bills)??
Self: sigh.

Exhibit C
Scene: In line at the DMV, or similar.
Self: Ari, stop touching that.
Ari: (flailing arms and legs in hyperactive five-year-old manner) Why?
Self: Because you are going to knock that pole over, and then the ropes will fall down, and no one will know where to line up.
Ari: Okay. (runs to the trash can, embraces it
Self: Ari! Stop that!
Ari: Stop what? (puts both hands and face into the trash and pokes around in there)
Self: Stop touching the trash.
Ari: Why?
Self: Because it's dirty.
Ari: (playing dumb) Twash is dirty? (laughs uproariously)
Self: Ari.
Ari: (runs around with arms out like plane, in order to maximize damage) Vroooooom!
Self: Really? Am I being punked?
Ari: (still running around, knocking shit over) Yes, Mommy. Weally! What is "punked?"

Exhibit D
A story
Ari: This is a pwetend stowy. One night! Mommy told me not to go downstaiws, but somebody took me downstaiws and took me home. And he took me into a dawk, dawk, dawk cave waiw thaiw was lots of bats, and they scuwwied (aka scurried) out of the cave, and they went into a school bus. And they flew all awound the school bus and when they came out, they were somewaiw else! Thaiw was a weally big, scawy monstew, and they flew all awound him in a circle and made a tornado. And then the monstew fell down! Mommy, when does space end?

Exhibit E
Scene: The living room
Ari: (in plain view) Boo!
Self: . . .
Ari: Mommy, waiw you scared?
Self: Does it look like I'm scared?
Ari: Mommy!!!! I want you to be scared!
Self: It's good to have goals.
Ari: Be! Scared!
Self: Ari, you were in plain view. You have to hide to scare me.
Ari: (freaking out) NOOOOOOOOO! You Bad Mommy! Be scared!!
Self: (faking it, but a trained actor, so not badly done) Ah!
Ari: That wasn't good enough. Be scareder.
Self: (trembling quite believably) Help! Help! A five-year-old! How terrifying!
Ari throws fit.

But, honestly, if I act scared at such a non-scary thing, what am I teaching him? I mean. He should put more effort into it, right? He's five, not stupid.

At times like this I find it helpful to hear my Parenting Power Song. ("You're Gonna Miss This"-Trace Adkins, in case anyone wants to know.) I can't get through the third verse without tears streaming down my face, and Ari's always like, "WTF, Mommy?" But it makes me into a super parent--I can tolerate anything and still remain loving. I can play endless games that make no sense, get barfed on like a champ, be scared of whatever.
The end.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Things You Need to See, Swimming Class and Opera, Whooping Cough and Power Lines

This makes me so satisfied it almost causes a heterosexual moment.

But, of course, please don't stop, because you are cute, and because that is the trademark club lyric.

My fantasy football team logo, which I stole from somewhere and doctored.
Today at swimming class, I almost got homicidal. There was a man there who insisted on singing opera, in the original Italian, while watching his children swim. He had a very good voice, and he sang quietly, and I adore opera, so I don't know what my problem was. I have analyzed this from a number of perspectives, truly. Whatever the case, the dude would not stop. His wife was there, too, and she seemed strangely unaffected. Perhaps she was used to it. She was hot. Way too hot for this nimrod.

It got to the point that I was relieved to hear the sound of a shrieking toddler because it drowned out this dude's opera. I even wished more children would scream! I wanted Ryan Gosling to bloody him up. Maybe I hated the attention-grabbiness of it. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood. I don't know what bothered me so much, but I was dreadfully upset. I gave him a death glare for ten minutes at least, but he was immune. Too absorbed in his little opera land. His children came out of the pool, and he kissed them both (one infant, one toddler) and raved over what good swimmers* they were. You'd think I would've been grateful for this little intermission because, of course, he couldn't talk and sing opera at the same time. Instead I was even further nauseated by his gross display. I wondered if Mary Poppins would come. I considered being mean to Ari when he came out of the pool just to balance things out. I didn't--calm down.

But! Dear world, Please do not sing opera at swimming class. Also, could you leave my pal, Ev, alone already? K, thanks.
Love, me.

Ev's car is under there somewhere.
Now, I shall tell the story of Ev. He and his toddler had RSV, and they went to the doctor where they were diagnosed (additionally!) with pertussis, and Ev's wife, who was away, also has both of these diseases at the same time. The CDC locked them all down, saying that because they'd all been vaccinated it was a "mild" case, which means they'll only cough for "two months." Also, Ev's wife is pregnant. They can't even go to the grocery store, but they couldn't anyway because, as it happens, a power-line and a tree fell on their car. Both! Is that really necessary? That's like the tree + power-line version of RSV + whooping cough! Oh, and of course--they have no power. I said to Ev, "Dude. You really need to repent and fast on Yom Kippur or something because god is pissed!" Not that I believe in god or anything, but you know like--just in case. 

Then I woke up the next morning, which was Rosh Hashanah, so Ari and I were home from school, and rushed out to Minute Clinic to get flu shots. They were out of the five-year-old dose, so I just got mine. I was so scared of diseases I almost cried. I said to the nurse, "Look, can't you just give him something? Some other shot?" I mean: Aren't they all the same? Do the viruses know the difference? They don't even have brains. And, yes, normally I know that's not how it works. But in this weak moment, I considered bribing the woman to give him whatever. Meanwhile, I got a TDAP (whooping cough) booster, even though I couldn't remember if I needed one.

I don't know whether it was the TDAP or the flu shot, but at about 9:00 pm I suddenly felt terrible. I was so uncomfortable I couldn't sleep or read or chat or anything. I stumbled to the bathroom to get some Tylenol for my entire aching body, and on the way back, I grabbed the thermometer. Luckily, it was a temple thingy because I was in no state to deal. My fever was only 100.3, which did not seem at all proportionate to the degree of agony I was feeling. I gotta say I was disappointed. I swallowed my Tylenol, and in 20 minutes I felt better enough to sleep, which I did, until the fever came back at 5:00 am, when I was too discombobulated to think of taking more drugs. I managed to doze until about 8:00, when I heard Ari leaving his room to go downstairs and watch cartoons on the iPad.

This is his new thing on weekends--and again school was closed for Rosh, so was weekendish. He gets his own breakfast (i.e. we put it out for him the night before) and lets us sleep until 9:00. It is wonderful.

I got up and managed to put some Tylenol in my pocket and crawl downstairs. It had been like 19 hours since the shots. Surely, this could not be! It could not be that I was almost dying, crawling around on the floor whispering "agua" with my shallow breaths, over some vaccines from 19 hours earlier. Perhaps I was dying of an actual disease! It is not so uncommon! 

Once I decided this I felt better. Well, not better, exactly--I still felt like I'd been hit by a truck. I mean, if I had an actual disease instead of just a reaction to a vaccine then I might still be dying, but at least I'm not a pansy.

The end.

*They could not--neither one of them--swim.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Summer Wine Groove #5

Song: "Last Request," Paolo Nutini 2006 
Wine: Desiderio Jeio Colmei Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2008

Make sure you get the 2008. I'm not sure why all these Vivino bitches give it three stars, but trust me: They are mistaken. I'm not even sure you can get this wine for less than $20, and it's pretty hard to find. Still it's here on my Summer Wine Groove because it is that good. 

I've loved this song, hard, for seven years. Paolo Nutini isn't an old man, though he sounds like it, and he's more Irish than Italian. He was 19 when this single was released. He had help with it, but I have reason to believe (research, people -- I don't know him) he wrote the lyrics himself. His live impact is undeniable. I love how at the end of this version, he seems to not know where he is. When I was a drama major, we all fought for that feeling. We acted more to transport ourselves than any audience, when we were doing it right. Acting is the best way to lose yourself in a story. But I feel sad that Nutini had to live this story so young. 

"I realize all about your lies, but I'm no wiser than the that fool I was before." Yo. I hope she did it with him one more time. I would have. I mean: look.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Shit my students write:

"I am crazy, and I know it."
"I understand people are not in your life forever."
"I understand it's hard for adults."
"I cry when I think of the sheer number of mosquitos on this planet."
"I am secretive and understanding."
"I dream about plum trees trapping me inside."
"I worry about the many possible apocalyptic scenarios."
"I am technical and rigid."
"I understand the migration of birds."
"I am diligent and responsible."
"I try to be strong and courageous."
"I am humble and obedient."
"I pretend to like vegetables."
"I worry that I'll get old."
"I worry about being embarrassed."
"I dream about dreaming about dreaming."
"I wonder why I read so many books."
"I cry because the ocean is so dirty."
"I say you can learn a lot from tv."
"I wonder if there's a cure for the bitterness cancer leaves behind."
"I see dreams buried deep in darkness."
"I pretend characters become part of me."
"I understand that I am small."
"I try growing strong in my weakness."
"I feel free when I'm alone."
"I understand friendships may be hard."
"I dream of out-living my death."
"I try not to argue with ignorant people."
"I hope that my youth will not end."
"I want more parakeets."
"I wonder why stories sound so fake."
"I pretend not to be annoyed when I am."
"I say that time and money are cruel."
"I want to be known."
"I want to be seen."
"I want people to know who I am."

Monday, September 2, 2013

Knock, Knock

Ari: Knock, knock.
Self: Who's there?
Ari: Light-up diaper
Self: Light-up diaper who?
Ari: Baby man
Self: Light-up diaper baby man?
Ari: Yes
Self: (laughing) Okay.
Ari: What are you laughing at, Mommy? Light-up diaper or baby man?
Self: I'm laughing at you.

Ari: Mommy, knock, knock!
Self: Shush, sweetie, I'm working.
Ari: Mommy! Knock! Freaking! Knock!!
Self: Okay, okay--who's there?
Ari: Mommy, I wanna jump in the toilet
Self: Mommy, I wanna jump in the toilet who?
Ari laughs hysterically.

Ari: Knock, knock
Self: Who's there?
Ari: Wiggly bug poopies
Self: Wiggly bug poopies who?
Ari: Don't you wish you were a wiggly bug poopy?
Self: Not particularly.
Ari laughs so hard he falls over and knocks down the box of ten thousand Legos, which spill everywhere and somehow even get into the (wait for it) toilet even though the bathroom is on a different floor.
Self: (sighing) Maybe so, actually. Must be nice to have no responsibilities.

Ari: Knock, knock
Self: Who's there?
Ari: Knocky knocky
Self: Knocky knocky who?
Ari: Knocky knocky wants to fire the computer and sit in the toilet and put the computer in the toilet.
Self: Sometimes I feel just the same.

The end.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Candles and Kippot

I may have mentioned we're all Jews here. Ari and B and I. Here is what I know about my Jewish identity:

  • Everything causes cancer, but cigarettes are most effective.
  • They give you two extra Hanukkah candles in the box in case you lose some, but you always lose one, leaving stragglers collecting in the junk drawer which do not match and will be a full set in 45 years. (Of course, by then they will be broken.)
  • Don't throw that away! It's still good. (See above.)
The candles can be useful, though, because recently our lighter ran out of gas, and the matches got used up. We light bug-away candles for porch sits in the summer. I got the genius notion of using rogue birthday and Hanukkah candles as lighters. Because, you know, the lighters are an add-on at Amazon, and I can't manage to get my sorry ass to an actual store that sells lighters. I take the broken Hanukkah candle from the junk drawer, and I use the oven (gas) to light it. As usual, the burner takes 16 minutes to light, and spews Noxious Chemical Toxic Poison Fumes into my face the entire time. Hours later, I (somehow unharmed) take the candle, which is happily long and dripless as well as wind resistant, to the porch and light my bug-away candles. Then I sit on the porch and blog.

From my deceased father, Seymour--Brooklynite/Floridian, bellower like Fred Flintstone, liar (in a good way--he told the kids on his block who used to beat him up for being Jewish that he was Italian. They never believed him, but he kept to his story, even when his nose was broken and his parents hit him, too, for denying who he was. He said it was stupid. I thought it was cool), money-maker, NASA engineer, print shop owner/seller, beach lover, sandal-without-sock-wearer, gambler, pasta chef, college drop-out, and the least sentimental person I've met--from him I learned this:

  • Every food that is small is a cookie. Baby carrot = cookie. Mini hamburger = cookie. Biscuit or roll = cookie. Slice of banana = cookie. Rugelach = cookie. Cookie = cookie.
  • The kosher laws saved lives. And we were never kosher, but those who are hold honor. Because they honor the lives saved by laws made by a people who had no science, but knew something about cross-contamination on instinct. They got it 3/4 right, which is pretty damn good, given what they had to work with.
  • Always flirt with the waitress.
  • The Torah is a metaphor.
  • God is a metaphor.
  • Everything's a metaphor, but knowing why we say what we believe in metaphors is the real question. And the answer is because it's prettier that way. It's more enigmatic and flexible and fun. You've gotta love humanity when we work so hard just to keep ideas from being dull.
  • If your daughter wants to run topless through the sun shower Every Single Day all summer long for the first 18 years of her life, let her.
  • Lie. 
  • But not excessively, just like, to get jobs and stuff.
  • Don't feel guilty. The Jewish race has got this. You, one individual Jew, can relax.
  • Live hard. Die fast.
  • The world has it backwards, pretty much constantly: Always let them see you sweat. The best lies are the ones you tell for selfish reasons. More is more. Less is half-assed. There will be many things you cannot do, no matter how hard you try. The early bird is always alone, so if you wanna be alone, get up early. Younger = wiser. Etc.
  • Oh, and (he didn't teach me this, but he would have, if he'd been alive when Harry Potter came out) this whole not saying His name thing: It works to give him power. Whoever he is. 
  • The Jew God could beat the crap outta the Christian God. 
  • Jews endure. This has meaning. We don't know what the meaning is, but that's ok. Maybe it's because in Russia, the winters were brutal. Like--evolutionary toughness or something. (Of course this only works for Russian Jews, but that's what I am, so. . .)
  • If you insist on believing in God, please, at least, be Jewish.
So. Ari is in a Jewish school. A private school. For kindergarten. He has to wear a kippah, and we can't pack non-kosher things in his lunch. On Fridays/shabbat, they wear blue and white to aggrandize Israel. (I'm more of a Palestine supporter, myself, but whatever--fashion choices really don't impact the situation at all.)
Cat kippah. He chose it himself.
The story is long and involved, but basically, B and I fell in love at the interview. The thing about Judaism is that no matter if you are an atheist or what, you have to agree it's pretty cool. A bad-ass God. You can't type his name. Here we still are. (Post-Holocaust) Marital duty = be good in bed. Be fruitful and multiply. (Kidding on that last one, though this is a good time to say that everybody in Ari's class has like three siblings, so we are doing alright on that, except for the queer Jews. But whaddaya say we give the queers a handicap? That's fair, no? We don't have a sperm factory, after all. And the dudes don't have a uterus.) But honestly, the administrators literally did not blink that Ari has two mommies. I know people say that all the time. They throw the phrase around--"didn't blink," but this was like, the non-blinkiest thing I've seen. I want to reassess all the experiences I saw as non-blinking, now that this happened. Then they gave us a lot of cash. Towards tuition, of course. It was not, like, drug money. (I wish.)

I think about my father, and I am almost shamefully glad. Glad that Ari will know as much Hebrew as his grandfathers (B's, too) did. Glad that he will, at least (since he already insists that God is real), be Jewish. Or at least--know Judaism. Glad, mostly (even though I am an atheist in the Great Jewish Secular Tradition of Secular Secularism) that we Jews are still here.

My father gave me the ocean, the Florida sun-storms, and a lot of cookies. I give him this: his grandson raised Jewish--God or not--it's more than that.

The end.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tennis Ball

I'm back at work after a lovely summer spent gardening and painting and writing and blogging and going to the beach and entertaining Houseguests and playing video games. Now I spend all day putting tennis balls on chair legs, in the Great Public School Teacher Tradition. My district is one of the wealthiest in the country. We have a lot of Promethean boards. But we don't have decent chairs or desks or tables. As in:
Our chairs are missing feet.
The solution to that, and to the horrid feet scratching against the floor noise as the children stand up incessantly, is to put tennis balls on the feet of the chairs. Last year I was the new teacher, and I wasn't in the same room all day, and I didn't have enough chairs, let alone tennis balls. There was nary a tennis ball in either of my rooms. There may have been like, one and a half. This year I'm in the same room all day, which is so wonderful I am trembling with delight as I type. Furthermore, someone was supposed to teach in my room during my planning periods, which would have been kind of a bummer because I'd have to vacate and find a computer to work at and such. But she got moved to some other classroom because she didn't want to be on the second floor.

In celebration of being in one classroom all day, I splurged and ordered 128 tennis balls from some bulk tennis ball web site. I paid for them myself and figured I would do that educator tax thing. Of course, then somebody came onto School (cannot actually name school) private group list (Is that what you call these things?) and said he had a zillion tennis balls for whoever wanted them. So, I guess I'll return mine.

When I went to get the tennis balls, he (we can call him Robert) told me how to cut them. You have to cut them to get the hole to put the leg of the chair in. Obvs. We were in Robert's classroom. He was teaching some kind of science. His eighth graders remembered me and started waving at me and trying to pretend they hadn't hated me last year, in that way they do. Somehow this makes them seem cool, to each other. I have no idea.

"Do you have a blade?" Robert asked me.

Self: um.
Robert: For cutting the tennis balls.
Self: oh.
Robert: Here, you can borrow mine. (Hands over knife)
Self: Thanks?
Andrew (8th grader): (Shouting and jumping up and down) Hi, Ms. S!
Robert: If you, by chance, touch this part of the knife, the blade will fall out. So be careful.
Self: Yes.
Lucy (8th grader): (Bellowing and standing up from chair) Did you have a good summer, Ms. S?
Self: Hi, Andrew. Yes, thank you, Lucy. (to Robert) Thanks?
Robert: Cut a small hole and then just kinda force them on there. If the hole's too big, they'll just fall off. It's easier if you cut along the seam. Oh, and don't tell the students that I have a blade.
Self: um?
Robert: (Whispering) Really, don't tell.
Self: You do realize they're here, don't you?
Robert: Oh! Indeed. Goodbye, Ms. S! Have fun with my PRETEND knife!
Gaston, Christian, Melissa, and Oliver (8th graders): (Together, as if to celebrity, while leaping over desks to bar the door) Ms. S!!! Don't go!!!

When I arrived back in my own classroom, I spent my entire two back to back planning periods and lunch (about two hours) with tennis balls. Somehow, I don't think this is what is meant by "planning." I got a blister on my hand. The knife was dull and weak, in that way that manages to slice a hole in your shirt (and your stomach) anyway. I got a few cuts. It is hard to slice a hole in a tennis ball with a box cutter! Who knew? In my two hours, I did maybe 12. I kept doing it through periods six and seven because my students were taking a pre-test. By the end of the day, I had 20.

This page turning story reminds me of Ari, because he says, when referring to tennis, "tennis ball." As in, he calls the game of tennis "tennis ball." As in, he will say, "oh, mommy! That boy takes tennis ball lessons!" And he will say, "Mommy!! Mommy! It is the US Open! Do you want to watch tennis ball?" Be still my heart, right? I mean. He does this, obvs, because of basketball and football. For some reason, he understands that soccer is just "soccer" and that bowling is just "bowling." All I know is that it is a good thing I wasn't thinking about Ari saying "tennis ball" while I was cutting mine up, because I would've been so besotted I'd have sliced my arm off.

The end.

Monday, August 26, 2013


There is not a photograph of the spider in this post. You're welcome.

OMG, I was sitting on my porch the other night, trolling the inter-webs for lovely smut and/or jewelry, and minding my own business, when suddenly a hideous beast walked across my computer screen. I do not know how he fit on the screen, given his enormousness, but he managed. I also don't know where my courage came from, but I was badass brave. Not only did I not piss myself, but I managed not to leap up, shrieking, and hurl my laptop over the edge of the balcony, as most normal people would do when confronted with such a thing. I mean: this scaley, fuzzy, black, leggy, creature had dangled from a thread coming out of his butt and plopped onto my screen. It was seriously so gross.  And yet, I did not faint, have a heart attack, leap over the balcony my own self, or puke. I was a fucking heroine. All I did was freeze, panic quietly to myself, put my laptop on the floor (by then he'd left the screen, thank goodness), and back away slowly.

I went inside where B was on the phone with her sister and communicated to her with our Language Of The Eyes that there was an insect situation. She normally would leap to my aid, and I don't want to make it seem otherwise. However, there was some complicated plane-ticket-miles-sharing discussion taking place. We all know that sharing airline miles requires you to complete multiple calculus problems while standing on your head and frying tofu, so I didn't blame her for ignoring me. I was on my own.

I decided I needed a broom to knock down the spider webs, since last I had seen, the spider was gallivanting about the porch, swinging to and fro with spider glee. How my family and friends had managed to sit on a porch so web-ridden all summer without noticing was confusing, but I quickly put it out of mind. I was traumatized enough. I had to think for five actual minutes about where the broom was because my brain was not functioning. Finally, I found it, but then I had to complete 649 further tasks in order to take on the spider situation.

First, I turned on the porch light. The bulb had burned out, of course, which meant I had to move the dining room chair into the kitchen and scramble onto the counter to reach the new bulbs. Then I had to move the chair to the porch and stand on it to replace the bulb, but the casing of the lamp was closed with a screw, and I couldn't open it. I had to get a screwdriver, which was upstairs, and then I couldn't see the screw in the dark, so I had to fetch a flashlight (up and down again). I finally replaced the light bulb, but I'd dropped the screw in the process, and because I am insane I needed to find it, in the dark, with a spider lurking. I for some reason decided the lamp needed the screw to hold the top on, even though the top weighs about ten pounds and is protected from wind, and the other screw has been missing for about 16 years, and nothing has happened. Still, I had visions of the top falling off and knocking Ari unconscious. I finally found the screw and put the top of the lamp back on. Then, before I could venture into the spider's territory, I had to procure body armor. I tried and failed. Why so hard? They should have it at the gas station for just such and emergency, no? I put on Ari's bicycle helmet instead, which makes no sense, as it is too small and full of holes, so the spider could still get into (heaven forfend!) my hair. But it made me feel better.

The spider had disappeared in the seven hours it had taken me to do all of these things, so I decided to move to the furthest corner of the porch from where I had last seen him. I gathered my things, which were many and fragile. Phone. Speaker. Full glass of wine. Laptop. Kindle. Sweatshirt. Bug-away candle (malfunctioning piece of shit). I had to tiptoe quietly back and forth to retrieve all of the things. Because if the spider heard me, he might attack. Never mind that he probably could see me perfectly well, what with the new light bulb, and my being about 9284023 times his size, and him having like 600 eyes. Yes, better not think about that because: scary! And yuck! (re: eyes) So, yeah, he probably saw me.

And listen here, you assholes who are thinking, "that poor spider is probably far more frightened of you than you are of him!" Bull. Shit. A spider does not have a big enough brain to feel this kind of fear. His little, spider heart would explode if he felt like I did. He couldn't handle it. I'm grateful that he left while I was preparing my attack because I didn't really want to go there. There is no way to rid oneself of a pest without looking at it, and I was feeling like his visage would subtract many years from my life. Here is a drawing of the spider, which is not a photo because I know you don't want to see that. (Also, he wasn't posing.) My drawing will give you some idea, though, of what I was dealing with.

The end.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

High Line

I got this email from J. Crew, which I mention far too often in this blog. It advertised a new line of t-shirts promoting the High Line. I had a sneaking suspicion this might be entertaining, so I went to the blog and read the post about the shirts. It is very important to me, in my liberal guilt, to make fun of the corporations I spend all my money supporting. I've gotten pretty good at it.
First of all, this absolutely gorgeous dude with some crazy prepster name like "Kaspar Whitley" or something was modeling the shirts. For free, I am sure. Because actual models are so gauche. Kaspar is a volunteer gardener for the High Line because J. Crew thinks its customers won't buy anything worn by people who work for money. They quote Kaspar, and I was amused/annoyed to see him refer to his volunteering as "my work." The shirts are described as vintage even though they are obvs new, and the damn High Line itself has only existed for like six minutes. And then! One of the shirts says "New York's High Line" on the front which I find dorky in a way I can't explain. Like the apostrophe and the location and the explanatory nature of it, as if to clarify for the poor, stupid reader which High Line they mean. (Is there another?) It is all just too much. I may have to stop shopping there. Nah.

I do not understand the whole J. Crew/New York relationship. Are we supposed to believe the wearers all live in New York? No way, right? Too cold! They must want us to think their customers live in the Hamptons, but only in the summer, and then ski in Vail or Vermont (yes, Vermont--totally) in the winter, with a short jaunt (and it is key to call it a jaunt) to some obscure coastal Italian village in the fall. During spring, though, they go really nuts and are off to safari in Zimbabwe, where they learn a bit of Ndebele and then come back to teach their friends Parker and Posey before it's back to the Hamptons again! Oh, but no. The Hamptons is too cliche. So is Zimbabwe, for that matter. Better make it the North Fork and Zaire. Can one learn Ndebele in Zaire? I hope so because how else are Parker and Posey (who cannot come on the safari because Mifi, their dog, has anxiety) supposed to become global citizens? The point is what does any of this have to do with New York? Answer: nothing. You see why I'm confused. They really ought to have a more sensible marketing strategy. This one is distracting.

This morning while I was lazing over the J. Crew blog, B and Ari had a terrible time with Legos. They wouldn't stay together, and Ari kept crying. B went to help him but ended up just as frustrated, and said quietly to herself on the 73rd attempt, "fuck me." Ari heard her and excitedly shouted, "fuck me, fuck me, fuck me!" B laughed, which encouraged him to continue with his monologue in this manner: "Fuck-ed-y fuck-ed-y fuck!" That's my boy. Fuck you, J. Crew, with your rich, volunteer models who garden for nothing, taking jobs while feeling altruistic for trying to learn the language of people who have no interest in talking to them. (Okay, I made that story up--but still!) Fuck you, Lego, with your poorly connecting pieces. Fuck all you corporate bitches. Who's with me?

The end.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Shoes are overrated.

I know that I take my life in my hands when I write this. I know that many will be affronted, and those who are not will pretend to be. But sometimes you've just gotta throw caution to the wind because something needs to be done. 

Shoes are overrated, and it is not right. I am into fashion. I am! I'm not a clotheshorse, but my peops are. Casey rocks the Kurt Cobain look. B has that classic black chic thing going on, with a twist: cute, too big, fuzzy sweaters. Actually, Casey has a fuzzy black sweater, too, and she also looks great in it--but hers is men's, and she probably found it in an alley and ripped it up a bit before she wore it. My friend Mara makes everybody within 100 feet of her look like a schlub, and Ev can pull of a sweater vest or bow tie any day of the year. My peops can dress. 
These might make somebody's outfit, but that is only because a toddler is like 90% feet. Tragically, they do not come in my size.

I'm not a fashion idiot. I do, however, passionately believe that shoes do not, under any circumstances, make an outfit. Now, before you bitches all call the police and take my queer card away, you need to hear me out. I like shoes, but they are, at best, an accessory, and maybe this, too, will get me in trouble, but accessories do not save you. Sorry. Shoes are on your feet, people, and nobody is looking there much. And if you have a shirt or dress or suit that does nothing for you, no accessory, not even a shoe, will change it.

I've seen some awesome shoes in my lifetime, and at various stages of my emotional development I believed that all would be well if only they had those shoes in my size. But with the inter-webs I can have any shoe I want, and I have to say, not much has changed with my shoes. 
J. Crew names its boots--stupidly, if you ask me.

I have a leather jacket that makes heads turn. It makes my mornings better when it's cold. I have a pair of jeans I like. When I wear them I feel like I could do anything, and I'm right! But nothing ever got better for me because of a shoe. Nobody's looking--really.

The end.

Monday, August 19, 2013


I don't understand something. Please do not tell. I'm an English teacher, you see. I'm supposed to know this shit. But I think actually that nobody else knows either, so perhaps I'm safe.

Paragraphs are supposed to be broken up thusly:
1) All sentences in a paragraph must be about the same topic.
2) A paragraph must contain at least two sentences.
3) A paragraph should not be too long, as it may frighten the reader.
4) When you change topics, you should begin a new paragraph.
5) The introduction to whatever you say should be its own separate paragraph. 
6) The conclusion, too.

First of all, I do not understand the definition of topic. Like so much in life, and especially in grammar, it seems so arbitrary. For instance, we're still talking about paragraphs, so isn't that the same topic? Why is this the third paragraph? I guess you could say that each paragraph discusses a different thing about the topic, but once we start to parse stuff out like that, we are on a slippery slope, I tell you. Soon we will decide that each sentence, technically, is saying something new, since we aren't a sucky writer and would never repeat ourselves. What then? Rule four directly contradicts rule two in this case. I try not to panic, but this cannot be! What ever shall we do??

When I was very young, I read all of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. Perhaps you have heard of her. She also has some young adult soft porn stuff. Oh, no, that's Judy Blume--never mind. Anyway, so like that. Does the part about the porn go in a separate paragraph? Really? I cannot bring myself to accept that. (Here I'm tempted to start talking about cannot and can not, which are supposed to be interchangeable, but I think my head would explode.)

Ramona, when being taught to write, is told that a paragraph has to have the same, single topic. In her example, she writes about a cat. She must be in second grade when this takes place. I'm not sure. Her paragraph is something like this:
Sentence 1: The cat is named Fluffy.
Sentence 2: Fluffy likes to play with yarn.
Sentence 3: Fluffy eats gourmet, organic cat food. (Okay this isn't what Ramona wrote because she was a pretend second grader in 1974 or something, when organic cat food didn't exist. I took some liberties.)
Sentence 4: Fluffy loves her owner, Millicent.
Sentence 5: One day, Fluffy got lost.
So, Ramona gets in trouble because getting lost has nothing to do with Fluffy's plaything/food/human preferences and/or proclivities. But the teacher is unclear. She does not say to Ramona, "sentences 1-4 are all about Fluffy's preferences and habits, while sentence 5 is not." She is useless and just says that getting lost has nothing to do with food. Of course Ramona is pretty smart, so she snaps back, "Well, food and yarn and the name of the cat and Millicent don't have anything to do with each other either!" And of course the damn teacher walks away, making teachers everywhere look bad. Thanks for that, Beverly Bitch.

The point of this ridiculous story, which I have twisted beyond all recognition, is that IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO TELL! And when I think too hard about it, I think about Ramona, and I get all stressed out. Because I am like Ramona. I do not know! Only, she has the excuses of being imaginary, in 1974 before any extensive paragraph study had been undertaken, and in second grade, while I am a bloody-English-freaking-teacher! Who doesn't get paragraphs. Oh, grammar, whom I abhor and adore, how nuanced and ridiculous you are.

The end.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Giving It Away

I finally decided to give away all Ari's baby and toddler stuff. I mean--I'm a 41-year-old lesbian. Oh, and just for kicks I'm on the pill! (Actually, not for kicks, but because I do not particularly enjoy my menstrual cycle.) Whatevs. Let's face it. I'm not gonna get knocked up again without some serious planning all up in this place.

I have a few friends with babies and toddlers, so I gave them what I could. Even I, who was well prepared for a lot of stuff, was shocked by the number of car loads of crap I gave away. I still haven't given away the crib or the stroller or the high chair, either.

Most of this crap verged on useless when we were trying to use it. Ari wouldn't stay in his high chair, stroller, or crib. Okay, he stayed in the crib, but that's because I water-boarded him. (Kidding!) Now, of course, he shrieks at the top of his lungs when he sees me trying to give this stuff away. As you may have guessed, these are not shrieks of encouragement. He really gets into it, too -- cusses up a storm.

Ari: Mommy, where are you taking my tummy time pad?
Self (innocently): Oh, I was going to give it to Graeme. You know--he doesn't have one, and you don't need tummy time anymore.
Ari: No, mommy. (urgently) Mommy, no.
Self: Yes, Ari.
Ari (glaring): Mommy. You can't give that away. It's mine.
Self: Wanna bet, buddy?
Ari: Mommy! You are a bad mommy!
Self (sarcastically): Oh, boo-hoo-hoo!
Ari: You. . .chicken burger head! (takes spoon out of silverware drawer and hurls it violently to the ground)
Self (softening): Ari, sweetheart, you hated tummy time! What is the issue here?
Ari: The isssss-you is you're a banana moldy piece of pizza! (Stomps feet, hurls self onto couch in tears)
Self: K, bunny, you have yourself a nice cry, then. I'm going to Graeme's house. Graeme, (raises eyebrow) who is a baby. (meaningfully) Did I mention this is Graeme, The Baby?
Ari (who loves babies, clearly torn): Oh! (pause) Mommy! (punches couch pillow for emphasis while wiping tears away) You're a big, ginormous jelly sandwich!!

Which, translated into adult English means, "Look, bitch, don't fuck with me."

Here is Ari, enjoying his tummy time pad, just in case you don't believe me when I tell you he hated the blasted thing.

Does he look happy to you? Answer: no.
As I was stuffing things into bags, I noticed that we had 39 (39!) tubes of diaper cream. The friend I gave those bags to texted "Holy diaper cream, Batman!" I am not actually Batman, unfortch. But I do think B (my beautiful wife, not Batman) and I were stricken by a very peculiar form of mental illness in which the victim believes he/she can cure him/herself by purchasing more diaper cream. It didn't work, obvs, but I am glad, at least, that we didn't run out of diaper cream at 3:00 am when Ari was a baby because the complexity of such a situation might have done us in.

Ari is not, by any means, a weak-willed child. I suppose this will do him some good at some point in life, but for now it just makes me work. I've never worked so hard in my life. I have Good Baby Envy. I see, on occasion, a baby or toddler in a public place acting calmly, sitting down, even, and I just about go ballistic. This isn't just a short-lived thing. These babies are in the mall or a restaurant sitting calmly for a whole hour sometimes. And I just have to say: what the fuck?! Are they lobotomized? I suppose, when Ari is 37, he may be capable of such Zen-like behavior. Until then: sod off, parents of good babies. You guys suck.

The end.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Letter to Poets

Recently, Ari said to me, "Mommy, when you were in preschool, did you have Chinese class?"
"Why, no, bunny. I didn't."
Ari: Did you have Spanish class?
Self: Not in preschool. (Actually: never.)
Ari: Well, did you have music class?
Self: I did not.
Ari: What about French?
Self: Nope.
Ari: Then how do you know
Self: Know what?
Ari: Anything.

I come from a childhood which was sorely lacking in education. My preschool taught like: sharing and coloring and using the damn toilet. The global art focus isn't how they used to do it, people. And I have some thoughts! Of course, my child is perfect, and so shares beautifully and has never had an accident or even forgotten to wash his hands and can color like Mark-fucking-Rothko, but I've noticed! That some other children who are graduating from preschool do not do these things so well, especially the sharing bit, and I wonder if perhaps they've spent too much time in Chinese class. Some of them can't even seem to pull up their sodding underwear. At five! What are they going to do in kindergarten? Flash everyone? Ari, naturally, pulls his up like a champ, and has the extra bonus ability to get it on backwards without ever having taken it off! Impressive, right?

Speaking of foreign languages: I love poetry because am English teacher, but I do not understand why poets sometimes feel the need to use foreign languages (sometimes more than one!) in their work. Do they think poetry as a genre is not incomprehensible and pretentious enough already? Really? Or are they trying to trick us!!! Meaning: do they think we will be too ashamed to admit that we don't know the particular Swahili phrase they've used and will just assume it is something brilliant and never ask? When in fact! Maybe they are saying "pop goes the weasel" or "add two cups flour (sifted)" or something. Now, I know some of you people are on the verge of writing to complain that I am stifling somebody's spirit by saying "add two cups flour (sifted)" is not poetic. Whatevs.

In this poem, I can't even tell which words are foreign and which words I just don't know! I suppose the italics could have helped, but "dental" and "perfect" are definitely English, and "Artemisia" is definitely not.

Dear Poets, You are lucky anyone reads your stuff. Very few do. I am one of them. I pay money for poetry; I go to readings and events; I donate a serious chunk of my income to poetry support. There are about 16 of us left. You do not want to piss us off. I understand, of course, that you don't write for money. However! I think you do want us to attempt to understand your work, or at least keep trying to make a world where a poet can exist and not starve. I want you to know that every single time I see a foreign word (even if I do know what it means!) in a poem I stop reading. I want you to know that every single time I see a word that is italicized for no apparent reason, I stop reading. I want you to know that every time I see a word I don't know, I look it up, and then I (say it with me) stop! reading! I want to understand, and I will work hard, be flexible, and let it sit with me and demand no concrete meaning. But, I draw the line at you people being cryptic on purpose. I freaking hate that shit. So does everyone else. I mean it. You think I am kidding, don't you? But I'm not! Others may say, "Oh, I enjoy a vague poem, with some international flavor." Bullshit. They lie.

Using big words for no reason is snobbery. I think poetry should be accessible, and even though you don't write for the masses, so do you. What are you hiding?


The end.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Grrls, Grrls, Grrls

Here are the grrls I like -- only the famous ones, obvs, because the non-famous ones mean nothing to you people. (Just to be clear, though, there are plenty of non-famous grrls whom I like. In fact, I like them better because if there is one thing I can't stand, it's arrogance. Pretend arrogance is ok. Real arrogance smells bad.)

Catarina Scorsone
Would you look at her?!?

Hillary Clinton
Brittany Howard
Chimamanda Adichie
Drew Barrymore (who doesn't?)
Queen Latifah (see above)
Missy Elliot (ditto)

The end.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


The other day it occurred to me that a tattoo on my inner wrist might be hot. I did not think about this much, like some normal human being would have. I asked Facebook what to put there, picked something, and went almost immediately to a tattoo shop near my home which had good reviews on Yelp. Once there, I paid my money and gave a random dude my wrist.

He was a very nice random dude, but still. Mistake. I have two other tattoos, and they hurt. The one on my ankle not as much as the one on my stomach. But this one hurt like a mother fucker. I didn't think it would be fun or anything, but this was extreme. By the end of it I was actually seeing stars. It felt like a drill with a very small bit was etching something into the center of my bone. I could only take it for so long, but luckily it only took ten minutes.

                     The tattoo.

At times like this, I find it helpful to think about ping pong. Not Ping Pong, but ping pong. The game with the paddles. I envision the ball, and I concentrate on how to spin it. I think about how many people (fools!) believe that ping pong is a fairly sedentary activity. In reality, the way I play it, it's as aerobic as kick boxing. You have to have your body in the exact right position, see, to hit the ball from a Centered Place, to control the shot. And getting there in the split second you have requires some fast moving. When I play someone better than I am, I leave drenched in sweat. You can see why I use ping pong as a euphemism for Ping Pong. It's apt.

Which brings me to my next topic: The Puzzle Piece. This summer I have been organizing and giving away Ari's baby stuff. In the process I found A Puzzle Piece that we had been missing for the past 16 centuries. It goes to the puzzle that has race cars on it, and like any decent parent, I knew this right away. Also, like any decent parent, I proceeded for weeks on end with the following dance:
Day 1 -- Self enters dining area of home, noticing immediately that there is A Puzzle Piece smack dab in the center of the dining room table, so as not to be lost (again).
Self (to self): Oh, lookie! There is that Puzzle Piece I'm so happy I found! Yay! (Thinks) But. . .wait. Now, where is the puzzle?
Day 2 -- Self enters dining room again, sees Puzzle Piece, etc.
Self (to self): Oh, oh! Quick! Before I forget! I must: Move! The Puzzle Piece! Somewhere else! So as not to lose it! (Takes Puzzle Piece and places it in jewelry box.)
Day 3 -- Self enters dining room. Does not notice Puzzle Piece, since it has been moved to a place self rarely looks. Self goes to refrigerator and proceeds through the day with absolutely no Puzzle Piece interactions.
Days 4-6 -- See day 3.
Day 7 -- Self has head buried in an enormous Rubbermaid container, and is digging for Matchbox cars, while Ari screams in the background.
Ari: Mommy! You lost my car!!!?! (Weeps. Hurls body on floor.)
Self: Of course not, sweetie! It's here somewhere. I was just playing with it while I was waiting for the water to boil. (Finds A Puzzle. To self) Oh my god! It's the puzzle! The one with the piece! (Takes puzzle and gives to Ari--because five-year-olds never lose anything.) Ari, sweetie, take this and put it somewhere safe, where you can remember it.
Day 8 -- You know the rest. Do I have to spell it out? Answer: no. I find The Puzzle Piece or The Puzzle, but never both at the same time, and this goes on for 183 eons, until I am so infuriated with the whole situation that I am driven to drink. (That's my excuse anyway.) But! Of course today! Today! People! 

I found The Puzzle and The Puzzle Piece, and I united them, in their proper box, as they were meant to be. I was so happy I did an interpretative dance and called all my friends (who didn't understand -- some friends!) and wrote a damn essay (i.e. blog post) in honor of my puzzle piece success.

What does it all mean?
The end.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Worm guts, smashed on a rock--I did
not do this; it is a pity and a waste!
You know about my summer goals. As usual The Buddha has given me new goals, without my consent, that were better than the originals. (I don't believe in The Buddha, but use him as a catch-all for the Biological Neuron Situation that makes us do stuff.) Anyway, so I'm not really into goals. I failed so far (and it seems unlikely) to grow my own organic salad by the end of August or whenever. But! I learned to love. Again. I obsess over my plants. Ari and I have become a two person earthworm rejuvenation project. He brings the worms and tosses them into my square foot garden. Everybody's happy. How easy is that, mother fuckers? Answer: easy. All symbiotic and shit.

So, I like one insect. Or, not an insect. One bug. That will be the last. They are good for my garden, bitches. Don't fuck with that.

Ok, here is the part where I be funny. One of my summer goals is to Play More Video Games, and of course anyone who knows anything about grrls who are anti-violence/non-sports video game addicts (all two of us) knows that I am playing The Sims 3. This is a gardening game. Or, actually, it is a whatever you want it to be game. Genius! (Have we gotten to the funny yet? Answer: no. Hold your horses, people.) You can have The Sims 3 (and of course I have ALL the expansions=$1000? But who's counting?) be about gay sex! My sim has ignored seven gay love letters this week alone because she is busy gardening! You can have it be about gardening or cooking or wine (aka "nectar") or raising goddamn mother fucking Horses! Anything! You can swim in the ocean. You can discover a tomb. You can be a werewolf. Whatever. Free form, people. Gaming unleashed, etc. So, right, enough Sims plug. I am obviously growing a lot of organic veggies in The Sims 3 and in reality. Sometimes I don't know which garden I'm in, and I think I need to protect my real garden from hungry werewolves. It's pretty surreal.

I have my sim living on Isla Paradiso, for the excellent gardening climate, but she is a medical researcher because she can't support herself (yet) on organic veggie sales. The problem is that she has to take a boat and then a car to get to work, and it takes her five hours to get to work and home again. Thus, the damn garden dies because she is too exhausted to tend it by the time she gets home. If she quits her job, she can't afford seeds or to feed her dog (who wards off gophers and such). I almost wrote to the developers to say it is unrealistic to have a person take five hours traveling to and from work every day, but then I was like: no. I know people who do that. How fucked up is this? Answer: very.

Ok, here is the part where I get funny. There is a guy--I kid you not--who just went jogging by with a jug of milk in one hand and a slab of beef in the other. As in: he was using these food items as weights for his personal fitness. That cannot count as my being funny because it is a true fact, and the dude was funny, not me. But still.

Which brings us to another topic. Bread. Why is it? That when I buy a loaf of bread, even though I buy the shit that's full of preservatives, it gets hard before the specified date? If they are gonna fill that shit up with preservatives and additives, shouldn't they at least, like, work? Am considering growing my own bread. In the meantime, Ari and I love our garden. Best not step on our soil, bitches. Because we love that garden hard.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Thank You.

One time long ago (who the hell knows when), I was very much looking forward to writing 48 thank you notes for Ari's birthday gifts. "Why, why would anyone want to write thank you notes?" you wonder. Because it is a rest--you have to sit down to do it. I had actually tried to write them while unloading the dishwasher, going for a little jog, folding laundry, and washing Ari's hair. Mixed results. Finally, I had to stop. Multi-tasking is a Slippery Slope! If you aren't careful, you will soon be texting while driving, eating spaghetti in the bath tub, texting House-guests while gardening, and losing your phone in the soil! Many unfortunate things might occur. Plus! You don't get your thank you notes written.

It had been five weeks, and I needed to focus. So, I begged B to do something with Ari and sat down with my thank you notes. By the time my butt hit the chair I realized she had the list of who'd given what in her phone, so I texted her to send it.

While I waited for the list, I noticed the cat in the corner, performing her catly function of repeatedly barfing. I considered getting up to clean it, but then thought it best to wait for another round because there is nothing worse than cleaning up the cat barf and then having to do it all again once you realize she wasn't finished. 

The list arrived, and I decided to print it so that I wouldn't have to scroll and delete and could just scratch out names with a pen as I finished notes. Here is what happened next:

Printer: The printer is out of order. (Prints)
Self: Huh?
Printer: Please replace toner cartridge. (Spews toner out front)
Self: (Covered in toner) But. . .
Printer: Please load paper in tray 2. Please load paper in tray 1. (Starts pushing many sheets of paper out very quickly, each with one character on a random location of page, so cannot be used again)
Self: You never print this fast when I want you to.
Printer: Memory failure. (Lights flashing)
Self: I don't understand. I didn't even touch you!
Printer clunks and wheezes pitifully, then turns off. Self leaves room and decides it is better to scroll through list on phone than print it.

As I left the room, I stepped in cat barf and noticed that, down the hall, the cat (white) was performing her second catly function of rolling all over B's suit jacket (black). I yelled at her, and she leapt into the closet, using her claws to rip little holes in the suit jacket. Then she went to the far back of the closet and started puking there. I would like to say I was heroic and got her out, cleaned all the puke, and took B's jacket to be mended. Instead I just shut the damn door. What do you want, people? Mother Theresa? 

I decided to go out on the balcony to write my thank you notes, where the cat wasn't allowed. Of course, she was shut in the closet, but I felt I needed a double barrier. The minute I stepped outside this dude who rides a Harley with no muffler started doing laps around the little neighborhood square I live on. I do not know why a Hell's Angel would want to live in a suburban neighborhood full of perfect, pansy-assed landscaping and straight-laced, suv-driving dorks, but he lives here. Maybe he moved in because he hates us and took out his muffler to piss us off. I think it is an illegal level of noise, but I don't call the police because I don't want to have my fingers chopped off. Anyway, his laps around the little square were deafening, and as usual he didn't seem to be going anywhere, but instead was just doing laps, like exercise or something. 

I thought I would put on some music to drown out the motorcycle. This only led to more headache because I couldn't get my speaker to pair with my phone. It loves to pair--pairs indiscriminately. But it doesn't like to be faithful. It had unpaired with my phone to pair with B's laptop, Kris' phone, the downstairs neighbor's iPad. Anything but my phone! Please note--it had been a week since Kris had his phone anywhere near my speaker, and yet it was still pining away for his dumb phone. Why couldn't it remember my phone like that? Because my speaker is a slut, and not of the ethical variety.

I couldn't deal and went back inside, where I spied six more piles of cat barf, considered a brief drug excursion, and realized I hadn't enough time. By then, B was walking in the door with Ari, asking how the thank you notes were coming. I think I may have burst into tears or something because the next thing I know, Ari and I were cuddling in front of the tv eating chips, and B had fixed the printer, appropriately paired my speaker, cleaned up all the barf, gotten the dude on the Harley to leave (She negotiates for a living.), and was writing thank you notes. She finished in one hour and didn't even dare to say "what was so hard about this?" Because she just got lucky, and she knows it.