Friday, September 30, 2011

Everybody Poops - Except Me

"Love is hiding who you really are at all times, even when you’re sleeping. Love is wearing make up to bed, and going downstairs to the Burger King to poop, and hiding alcohol in perfume bottles. That’s love." - Jenna Maroney, 30 Rock


If there's one thing I miss about my ex, its talking about poop. This was in no way a taboo subject for us, and in fact friends and family would often ask us to please, please stop describing our poops to each other when they were around.

Having now ventured into the real world, I've been surprised to find that this is not, in fact, a completely open topic. Some people don't want to hear about poop, pooping, and all of the variations on that topic that are hilarious to discuss at great length (no pun intended). (Okay, the pun was intended, who am I kidding?)

So you can imagine my distress when I started dating someone and went for a weekend at his place for the first time, only to find when I got there that he had no bathroom. Oh yes, you read that right: No Bathroom. Allow me to revisit that conversation:

Me - "so...there's no...bathroom?"
Person I was Newly Dating - "there's a bathroom on the property. But it can only handle number one"
Me - "hahahaha....oh wait, what?"
Person I was Newly Dating - "ha, yeah. It can't handle number 2"
Me - "oh, heh heh, I thought you were kidding"
Person I was Newly Dating - "no"
Me - "well, um, listen. This is a super unsexy thing to ask someone I just started dating, but...well, sometimes I do poop? So...well...where would I do that? I mean, should I go dig a hole in the back yard or something? Do you have a little shovel for that?"
Person I was Newly Dating - "ha ha ha, no, no. You can just go over to the gas station. Or there's a Safeway, its about a 5-minute walk from here."

At this point I would like to say that he was completely serious, straight-faced, and seemed very casual about the fact that he'd just told me that I had to plan my poops. I'm kind of a 'wake up, make some tea (which I couldn't do anyway, since he also had no kitchen), futz around until I feel that feeling, then go poop' kind of a girl. It has its own time frame, but usually when I'm ready, I'm ready.

I did go to the gas station, twice. The first time there was a barely-legible, water-splattered sign on the door that said "Lock Broke - plz knok first." Fuck if I was going to take a crap in there! Someone might walk in on me? No thank you. The second time I went, on a different weekend, the bathroom was out of order.

I don't know about you, but when I have to go poop, a nice stroll to Safeway or any other public restroom is not really an option for me. So, I had no choice but to just not poop. I tried to eat binding foods and move as little as possible. After a few visits my sense of humor started to wane, and I suggested that maybe he start visiting me, at my home, where I have a refrigerator and a functioning toilet and all kinds of fancy amenities!

Unfortunately, that hasn't been my only Dating Kills Pooping experience. My poop schedule is all out of whack.

If you ever get the chance to go to Orr Hot Springs, I highly recommend it. Its very lovely and relaxing, and a great getaway for new lovers. Just don't go with a vegan. Because you'll be eating a lot of salad, stir-fried vegetables, raw vegetables, kale, hummus, spinach....I mean, you get the idea. Really healthy stuff. Good for digestion stuff. And its not as big of a deal as no bathroom at all, I'll give you that. But if you're staying in a yurt with no bathroom, you will still have to come up with some excuse to leave the yurt. And if you're not leaving with the person you're there with to go sit naked in a hot spring or cook a vegan feast together, then guess what other reason you have to be leaving?

A bathroom reason.

And you know you're going to be aware of how long you've been gone, and will be assuming that the other person is starting to wonder. Then when you get back you'll both try to act so normal about the fact that you were just gone for a while, which means you were pooping, that it'll be awkward. Again, easier to just not poop.

I've had so many dating-related poop-free weekends now that by the time Friday rolls around, my colon automatically starts to shut itself down, just in case.

So yes, if there's one thing I miss about the relationship I spent the last 12 years in, it was being able to comfortably use those magic words while nonchalantly heading to the bathroom, book tucked under my arm: "honey, I'll be in my office. For a while."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Aaaaany Day Now

Dear Baby,

Please be born.  The anticipation is killing me.  We've got your room all set with tons of toys and plush animals and things that play music.  I'm not really sure what you're waiting for.  If it's a formal invitation then consider yourself invited, cordially.  Come as you are.  Directions are: Head down, toward the light.  I know the cord and placenta thing is pretty bad-ass but wait until you try your mother's boob.  Dee-lish!

The thing is baby, there are things happening out here that I really don't want you to miss.  Harvest season in the wine country is beautiful, we're seeing a lot of prints in this year's fall fashion line-up, and the new season of 'Dexter' is supposed to be awesome.

Okay sure I've got a bit of an agenda.  You being born would be really great for me.  Your mother has been hogging all the good pillows for weeks and I'm really sick of drinking all by myself.  Plus, I totally LOVE YOU and want to meet you!  What more do you need?!  If you really are going to keep up with this stubborn bit you need to remember something.  You haven't been named yet.  Oh yeah, that's right!  I'm thinking 'Elvis' has a nice ring to it....or maybe 'Pomegranate'.  Get your little ass out here.



Monday, September 26, 2011

I am The Beast

Dating has made me realize that I am not very much of a lady. Aside from the fact that bodily functions make me giggle - a lot - I have a few other faults that I'm working on.

I hate shaving my legs. And underarms. And feet. I guess that guys like smooth surfaces, so I've been forced to shave a lot lately, especially since its summer (men don't expect you to shave in the winter months, right?! I'm counting on this...). If I get comfortable enough with a man that he might have an opportunity to touch my legs, well, that's it. I usually forget until its too late that I am of Eastern European descent and even if I shaved my legs that morning, they will be the consistency of sandpaper by the time afternoon rolls around. The couple of times I've had my limbs slung over the lap of someone while watching a movie, or whatever, a hand immediately goes to my shin - and then immediately lifts off of it. There is some hesitation, presumably while he decides how to react to the pain that was just inflicted to the baby-bottom-soft palm of his hand. If he's a gentleman, he'll suck it up and put his hand back. If he's not, he'll casually tuck some hair behind his ear or adjust his glasses, then rest his hand awkwardly somewhere near my leg.

I eat like The Beast. I can actually eat politely, don't get me wrong. But recently I was taken out for burritos and, coming from a town that has one burrito establishment called The Big Burrito, and another called Burritos as Big as Your Head, I love me some tortilla-wrapped mess. On this occasion, however, when I picked mine up whole to shove it into my face, I looked across the table to see that my date had kept his on his plate, and was eating it with a knife and fork. I very slowly set mine back down, trying not to draw attention to myself, and picked up my utensils. I looked at them awkwardly, much like The Beast does when contemplating his spoon after first slopping gruel all over himself, before looking at Belle and realizing that he wasn't using proper table manners. Unfortunately my date didn't take the route Belle did (by adapting to The Beast's shortcomings and also drinking her gruel out of her bowl). So I ate that thing with a knife and fork, too. I used a lot fewer napkins than I normally do - therefore, using utensils saves the earth. I'm into that.

I wear Grandma Chonies. I can't really afford to be going out spending money on things like new underwear. Also, I absolutely hate shopping - in the intimates department or elsewhere. I generally go straight to the sale table and dig around in whatever is left there, which is basically what no one else wanted. They're ugly, garishly-patterned and oddly-cut. I haven't even done this in quite a while, though, so I'm just left with whatever my crazy menstruation hasn't completely ruined each month. Most of my undies at this point are much too big. They're also terribly pilled, stretched and faded - but they're comfy as all get-out! Should I care that they aren't lacy and tiny and silky and...well, sexy? Maybe. But if someone gets up in that business, he'll already be so distracted by trying to act cool about my hairy legs that he won't notice, anyway.

I strongly dislike exercise. There's not really much else to say about this. I'm terribly unfit and, while I realize this will be pretty bad for me at some point, I simply cannot wrap my head around the idea of exercising. It hurts! It sucks! Its hard to breathe! And it just makes me want a beer afterward, which kind of defeats the purpose a little bit, methinks.

To summarize, I need to find a man who likes hairy-bodied food-shoving saggy-chonied out-of-shape women, and then I need to snag him. With my charming personality...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Big Boy Bed

Everyone is sharing a bed with their kids and I don't get it.  This is standard practice among almost every young parent I know.  Okay, you have a newborn, you're nervous that something god forbid could happen to them while they sleep so you want to keep them nearby.  I totally get that.  Erin and I kept Liam in a basket in bed with us for a few days after he was born but the first night that we put him in his crib we found that we slept better and so did he.  We got the whole monitor thing to ease our 'what if?' paranoia and that was it, bam, done.  Since then he has spent pretty much every night of his life in that crib and we all sleep great.  Really really great.  Like 12 hours a night great.  I know I'll sound naive (and like kind of a prick) for saying this but I think those parents who tell you they haven't slept more than 4 hours a night in 6 years, those are the bed-sharing-parents.  Anysmug, this week Liam's crib days ended.  Erin is full-term and that beautiful belly is starting to make the house feel smaller so the nesting projects have been kicked into high gear.  Hence Super Important Project Number One aka The Completion of Liam's New Big Boy Bedroom was completed.  I was dreading this day of course.  The nights of giving him a water, a night diaper, a pacifier, and 'boy'* and watching him fall asleep in seconds were over obviously.  I didn't even know where to begin with this new bed thing.  We pulled out all the stops and got him a top quality mattress, good pillows, and super awesome dinosaur sheets with matching quilt, shams, and bedskirt (cuz toddlers need that...shut up).  His first night in the new room was last Sunday night and I "volunteered" to be the first to attend to his needs during this rite of passage.  I put him in the bed and said "night night?"  He said, in not so many words, "Dad, you are hilarious, truly".  So began a long night of experimentation.  I was reminded of Eddie Izzard's bit about Dr. Heimlich and what it must have been like for him during the developmental stages of his 'maneuver' (kick to the crotch, frying pan to the head, etc.)  I first tried the ubiquitous and incomprehensible bed-sharing.  Why not?  It turns out it was a good place to start because things could only improve from there.  After that I tried a few techniques:

I read him a story.

"Woohoo!!" he seemed to say.

How about I rub your back?

"While I jump up and down?  Good luck with that."

I know I'll move your nightlight to a different spot?

"Now you're not even trying" 

What if I just leave?

"What if I just scream?"

I decided I'd try sleeping in the 'guest bed' which we kept in the room.  This gave Liam more room to run around freely, switching the lights on and off, opening and shutting the closet door, and eventually checking to see if I was really sleeping by clobbering me in the face with his sippy cup.

At this point I switched gears.

I dragged a chair into the room and put him in bed.  He got up so I put him back.  He got up again, I put him back again.  Just as I was starting to feel like Sisyphus (about three hours in) something remarkable happened.  He started to sort of 'get it'.  He stayed in bed for a bit and got up eventually but the next time I put him down he gave me an "Ooooh....'night night?'...well okay" kind of look and he just stayed in bed.  That was pretty much it.  Over the course of the week I honed my technique.  No laying next to him (duh), no reading because he thinks it's for him, and less and less time in the chair.  By last night we were dialed.  I gave him his accessories, a big smooch, said 'night night', and didn't hear a peep until this morning.  I guess we're done.  That wasn't so bad!  In a mere six nights of sticking to it and not giving up and now it's just like it was in the crib....maybe even better!

So maybe I'm lucky or maybe Liam is one of those "easy kids" but I swear I think we parents can take a little more responsibility for the choices we make with our kids and stop blaming them for keeping us up and ruining our sex lives.  As a wise man once said, "they're kids, if you let them do whatever they want they'll just sit around all day watching T.V. and diddling themselves."  Too true.

* 'Boy' is actually a girl figurine dressed as a polo player.  Liam must have 'boy' at all times.  You can sort of see her in the picture on his left shoulder.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Evie Saint Laurent

As is the case with most parents, at least one of your children will always, without fail, be your complete opposite. This is a fun and fascinating thing to witness as it develops and becomes achingly clear. It is also difficult to manage - having no experience whatsoever with whatever it is they are passionate about, and you are not.

My daughter, Evie, loves shoes.

It should be noted that she also loves clothes, and goes through no less than 6 wardrobe changes per day. But at least her outfits are kind of crazy and rarely match or bear any hint of future fashion sense. This is a relief because, frankly, I'm really bad at matching, I often look crazy, and I have no fashion sense.

But the shoes. The shoes!!

Evie has about 45 pairs of shoes, which she loves to change as often as her clothes. Sometimes she wears two different shoes at once, and though I go through the motions of trying to make her change one of them, really, who am I to judge? Also, I kind of don't care if she wants to search for Carlo the Monkey at Trader Joe's wearing one brown Saltwater Sandal and one silver See Kai Run.

The problem I run in to is when she wants to wear my shoes. This shouldn't be a big deal, really. 98% of my shoes are what you might call "sensible." They're flat, usually European, rather clunky and, well, comfortable. When I try to wear heels I look like an osteoporosis-riddled elder awkwardly trying to stumble from my station wagon to the early-bird happy hour at Applebee's. Lets just say it's not pretty. The embarrassing thing is that I really should be good at walking in heels. I mean, I graduated from Barbizon, after all! It's safe to say I've let them down.

Evie will risk life and limb climbing and balancing on stools, chairs and her older brother in an attempt to reach the shoes at the very top of the shoe thingy that hangs on the back of my bedroom door. Because that is where the heels are. Why I keep the most dangerous shoewear at the highest level, thus increasing the chances of being impaled by a pointy heel if I ever decide to slam my door for some sort of emphasis, I don't know.

Once she has the desired shoes, she will put them on and scuff around the apartment, snagging the carpet, tripping repeatedly and declaring "look at me everyONE! I'm a lady! A Lay-DAAAY!" Nothing deters her. She loves it and honestly, so do I. So long as she never develops a shoe-shopping addiction and goes out spending thousands of dollars on shoe brands that I can't even pronounce and she'll deem unworthy once a new season hits. I simply cannot accept that behavior in my own child.

Luckily she hasn't shown much discrimination in her love for adult shoes. While preferring the pretty, pointy, dangerous kind, if given the opportunity she will just as happily slip into a pair of gigantic crocs, as shown here after a friend with gigantic crocs stopped by to visit.

This fact is a great relief to me. Those shoes look really practical and comfy. Proof that there's at least a little bit of me in her. Just a little, but that's enough.

* * * * *

Evie's Fabulous Wardrobes Provided by:

Photo 1: Dress - Claesen's, available at Sprout.
Shoes - Marianna by GOLC, purchased at Arboretum

Photo 2: Jammies - Claesen's, purchased at Sprout.
Shoes - DKNY, hand-me-downs

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


It's not my fault!  It's that word.  It's just too fucking fun to say!  I think its that lip biting 'ffff' with that nice little crack of the 'ck' at the end.  For a two-year-old it's phonetic bliss.  So yeah, Erin and I weren't really aware of how often we let the F-Bomb drop in our house until it started echoing back at us in a sweet little toddler voice.  The little man looooves it.  A couple of days ago Liam dumped a full glass of water in Erin's lap and she let a big one drop, which he excitedly returned ten fold.  We're trying to curb our casual use of the word but it seems like it might be too late.  The fact that we react to his use of it with stifled hysterics doesn't help either.  I was concerned that this would lead to a 'BAD PARENT!!' moment but this past weekend his first public F-Bomb made its debut and it was fantastic.

We were in line at Starbuck's and Liam was being his usual super-happy cute self.  We were just in earshot of three women looking like they were fresh from a morning walk and one of them was sharing an anecdote:

Lady: "....and by the end of the day the lawn was completely fucked!"

Liam: "Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck, fffffuCK!!"

Lady: "Oh my"

Liam: "fuck"

Me: "oh great, thanks a lot"

Liam: "fuck, fuck"

Lady: "I'm SO sorry! Holy shit!"

Liam: "Shit!"

Friday, September 16, 2011

Food is Love!

My kids love to cook, and I love to make them work for their meals. It's a win-win all around. The only problem that I've run into is the fact that I can't actually cook.

When I was young, we didn't really have a routine, for ANY meal. It was each boy or girl for him or herself, so I ate a lot of cereal for breakfast, lunchables or more cereal for lunch, crackers or nachos for dinner. I tended to wander into the kitchen when I felt hungry and stare into the cupboards in very much the same fashion that I stare into my cupboards as an adult. Kind of hanging on the door, blank look in my eyes, not really seeing the cans of corn and black beans, the rice pasta and granola, the quinoa and sardines. Sure, the contents are different than those in my childhood (creamed corn, Ritz crackers, huge cloudy-clear plastic bags of welfare mystery puff cereal), but the lack of ability is the same.

I did, however, bring from my childhood two very important recipes for standard Midwestern fare. One was for Tuna Noodle Casserole, something I haven't made since I was 18, (but after telling my kids about it, it has now been requested, and so I must pull it out of the memory archives. Ha! Those suckers don't know what they're in for). The other recipe was for Macaroni n' Cheese.

When I tell people that I make a mean Mac n' Cheese, they always ask how its done. They start asking about bread crumbs and flour and multiple cheeses and mustard - mustard! What?! I quickly clam up in these cases because I assume that my recipe must be too Redneck/White Trash (yes, that is where my mind automatically goes, and with good reason), and I should under no circumstances share how the magic happens.

So, the other night when Evie requested Mac n' Cheese with a little over 2 hours until dinner, I took it as a challenge to prepare it in time - and a sign that I happened to have ALL FOUR of the ingredients available. I gave the kids each a task and we set to work. Luckily Evie can be trusted with knives and other sharp objects - she was my designated shredder, and there's a whole lotta cheese in this bitch:

Step 1. Melt a bunch of butter in a casserole dish
Step 2. Sprinkle in some salt & pepper, or if you want it to taste a lot better, use Savor (which is the secret ingredient in everything I cook. Everything.)
Step 3. Pour a bunch of dry (yes, dry) elbow macaroni in there and mix it all up
Step 4. Dump about 2 pounds of shredded cheddar cheese in, mix well
Step 5. Cover the whole thing with enough milk to just cover the noodles, so that you have to pat some down
Step 6. Cover, bake at around 325 or so? For like 2 hours? You'll figure it out.

When its done it should look like this:

Looking better than this would not be a bad thing, either.

We also decided to bake banana bread, so I had Evie mix the ingredients. To make up for half of them being flung onto the countertops and floor, I had Jonah mash an actual banana to put in. I know! I felt like Paula Deen.

Lately I've been eating fairly healthy dinners. I don't know, it just kind of happened. As a result, while rubbing butter into every crevice of the banana bread pan, I was suddenly struck with a strange thought: "we should make a salad to go with our carbs and butter." Weird. Stranger still - I had ingredients for salad. I was completely befuddled by this fact - even though I can't yet afford a personal shopper and so therefore do my own grocery shopping. I decided to take it as another sign. Maybe a sign that I don't want my kids to have heart attacks? We made the salad.

Jonah disappeared during this activity, but Evie was thrilled to practice her lettuce-ripping skills - after a wardrobe change, of course. I'm wondering now if I should be concerned with how deftly she tears into produce and wields knives and shredders....

Not quite on time but close enough, we sat down for another experience I rarely had as a kid but is the norm for us now - a family dinner. We feasted like Midwestern Royalty on a well-balanced meal (by my definition - don't judge) and told stories from our childhoods. We each gained about 12 pounds. We were happy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Paper Dolls and Pints

Yes, I went out with Amanda this past weekend...I think I'm in love.  I guess I should say more in love......with my wife after an evening like that (rimshot!).  Our date night almost didn't happen when I innocently asked "is this just a platonic date or should I manscape?"  I was just trying to feel things out.  I think I was also trying to scare her away because, as sweet as the invite was, I kind of wanted to stay home.  My wife and son had gone camping and I had been left home alone owing to the fact that September is the beginning of harvest season in the wine country and I was scheduled to smoosh some grapes (no one gets days off during harvest but sometimes Amanda forgets the rules).  I wasn't exactly heartbroken for missing out on camping. This was real camping, not Camp Tuolumne camping, and real camping is just something I don't get.  If you're going to sit around drinking, eating, and playing cards all day why not do it at home where it's less dusty?  I know "nature" right?  Yeah nothing says unspoiled nature like a Mendocino County campground.  Oh look honey, tweakers in their natural habitat!!..and is that banjo music I hear?  Anyway, dragging my ass to Berkeley wasn't how I intended to spend my Saturday night (I was planning on getting drunk on homemade wine and watching all five Star Wars episodes....yes, there are only five)  But Amanda played the guilt card like a pro and I'm glad she did.

It started with a pretty flawless plan - Fish Tacos, beer, Mortified, and beer.  I was impressed with Amanda who in an utterly un-girl fashion got home from work and in something like 15 minutes was ready to go before I could raid her cupboards for booze and accidentally find her sex toys while looking for stationery.  Even though getting off of work at 5 and having to be at a show at 8 meant NO ZACHARY'S PIZZA, I did at least get to be near Zachary's and could sense its aura (I'll probably have to blog about Zachary's Pizza some day but it won't be because I name my future son Zachary...Erin already said 'no')  Rubio's was a good alternative and it kept us on time (hmm...Rubio Bairdsmith?).  The show was at The Down Low on Shattuck which is a cool venue but I had to admit I felt a little out of place having forgotten my keffiyeh and fedora back at home (I still can't find skinny-jeans in a 36" inseam, BLAST!)  The show consisted of 5 people taking turns reading from notes, journals, short stories, and songs they had written at the peak of their adolescent delusion and confusion.  Great stuff.  I was in tears.  I didn't see much of Amanda at the show.  She was giving off the 'recently divorced' vibe and it was attracting attention.  I for one want nothing more than for her to be happy (i.e. 'get some') so as soon as a cute guy struck up a conversation with her I made my way quietly to the third-wheel section with the other platon-o-pals and lesbros.  

After the show Amanda was down to hit the Berkeley bar scene and I was the one making the 'meh' noises, ME!?!?  Mr. Last One Standing!?!  Shameful, but in my defense drinking would have meant stumbling to my parents house to crash in the guest room for the night and I just didn't trust Amanda that much.  So instead we drove home BUT we stopped off at the greatest little pub this side of the pond, Toad in the Hole.  Not only was there Guinness on proper tap but there was an unexpected and total night-making surprise.  There were these two girls there who looked like pin-ups but sounded like the Andrew Sisters performing cover songs a la ukulele.  Things like Prince, Michael Jackson, and Bruce Springsteen...but AWESOMER!!  They sounded amazing and they call themselves The Paper Dolls.  I guess they play at Toad a lot so check them out, seriously.  I love them.  

My good side
Okay so there was no real point to this post I guess.  I was going to do a thing about "the best part of a trip always being the part you don't plan blah blah blah" but now I'm just kind of planning my 40th birthday party or some other event where I can hire these girls to perform.  I'm serious, they're that good.  This was about my "date with Amanda" but I guess you can see how it ended.  I think she got home safe.    

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Amanda's Mortified

Recently Mike and I found ourselves in a compromising position. Erin and Liam were camping or something*, and my kids were with with their dad. What did this mean, you ask? This meant we were free to go fuck shit up! Since we're kind of old and tired all the time, I did have to beg a little, but finally got Mike to agree to accompany me to see Mortified in Berkeley, where I planned to laugh at the expense of other people's awkwardness for once, as opposed to my own. I thought that he would enjoy this as well. Don't get me wrong, he loves to laugh at my expense, too. Perhaps this was a way for me to take some of the dork-pressure off of myself, if only for an evening.

As is his nature, Mike flaked and then un-flaked on me about 6 times over a span of two days. I was desperately searching for a different date, one that would appreciate the genius of what the evening held in store, but no one was willing to come with me. Finally I used the old tried-and-true passive-aggressive guilt-trip method that my mother taught me so well, and I sent him the following text in reply to him telling me I should take someone else because he was blablablabla...(I'd stopped listening): "I wish I could take someone else since now I have an extra ticket, jerk!" (followed by two crying emoticons). Knowing I'd spent my hard-earned Single Mother money on a ticket for him already did the trick, and at approximately 5:43 Mikey showed up at my house (apartment).

We went through the usual Me: "Okay I'm ready!" Mike: "Ummm, I'm not sure I'm loving that skirt on you..." Me: "Oh. Um, okay, I guess I'll go...change..." Mike: "Oh, yep, that looks much better, now we can go" that all males and females go through when trying to leave for an event of any kind. Am I right? I hope so. I know I'm not very good at things like matching clothes, but I like to think other women have this problem too. Wardrobe disaster averted, and we were on the road, weeeeee!

Anyone who has ever been to Berkeley knows that aside from being dreadfully quirky and full of New Age hoo-ha and Impossible For The Average Human To Afford clothing boutiques, there are also some amaaaazing restaurants there. After sadly determining that we didn't have time for a nostalgic and awesome-incarnate pizza at Zachary's, we went with the natural next-best choice: Rubio's

...where Mike mostly treated me to a Fish Taco Especial combo plate. We ate. We drank. We were Merry.

Next it was on to the Shattuck Down Low for the show. Here we can be seen outside. Or, you can see most of my head, and Mike:

Mortified is a show in which people read from the diaries and journals they kept in their angsty, awkward youth. I really want to do this some day - I have a LOT of material, especially from my Poetry Phase. I could even just use one of my current journals. I have my "Divorce Diary" and my "Dating Diary" and During the show, Mike decided to stand really far away from me. Not sure why. But I was very concerned about whether he was enjoying himself and kept looking over to where he stood to make sure he was laughing at the appropriate times. He pretty much did. I now cannot tell you how the show itself was, though.

Afterward we decided that we should head back to Sonoma County, as it was getting late...I had to work the next day...he had to clean his house...the usual excuses people use when they've realized too late that they don't, in fact, like hanging out with each other and are ready to call it a night.

I joke! Of course we went to The Toad in the Hole for beers! While there we discovered this sweet little duo called The Paper Dolls, made up of cute ukelele-playing blond gals with gorgeous smiles and sparkly headbands. Mike insisted I take many, many photos of them, which I suppose you'll see when he recounts our night out on the town. We decided that when we're totally famous we'll have them play at our We're Totally Famous party. Because that happens, right? One beer at a time, people, one beer at a time.

(While Mike looks evil in this photo, he's really not. Sure, he left me at an entirely different bar later that night, but I made it home just fine. Don't worry)

*let it be known to all of my young, unmarried male readers that in general, if your very-pregnant wife and toddler son are away camping, you should probably be camping too. Mike forgets the rules sometimes.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Secret

Here's something you may not know about me: I have six brothers. Yep, six. Don't ask me to explain how they all came about or relate to me specifically in terms of mutual DNA or anything. Just know that there are six.

Because of this, I grew up feeling more comfortable around men than a lot of women I know, and being "that friend." You know, the girl that men let into their inner-sanctum because she's basically "one of the guys." You can talk about pooping, relationship troubles (from a man's perspective - always fascinating), and which stranger walking down the street you would bang, otherwise known as the Yes, No, Maybe game. I can hang with all of that, no problem.

In exchange for listening to all of the amusingly crass and self-important things men like to shoot the shit about, I get access to quite a bit of important, top-secret information.

The other day I was whining via IM to my youngest brother Ben about why all the men I date "fall in loooooove with me," when all I really want is to...well, just date. Casually. The last thing I need right now is...well, a serious relationship.

So Ben, being the all-trusting and cool young man that he is, shared with me one small but important aspect of how men view women, and what they expect and/or settle for when seeking out a partner. Or even just a mate.

This was our conversation:

Me - I'm starting to realize the difficulties of being the perfect woman, now that I'm not fat anymore.

Ben - what do you mean?

Me - Dudes be fallin' in love with me left and right!
- what the hell?
- what ever happened to just casual hanging out with some smooching now and then for fun?

Ben - I think once you're in your 30's and single it gets a lot more desperate.
- not that you're there, but the men sure are.
- you've seen 30 Rock, you know how Lemon is desperate.

Me - yeah!
- Shut it DOWN, dudes!

Ben - well Amanda, girls are crazy, smart, or hot. Its a commonly known rule that all are two of the three. If you're all three, then you better be prepared for everyone wanting to put you in their trunk and taking you home.
- wait, that's not quite right. But you get the idea.
- sane should be the word, not crazy.
- you get sane and smart, but ugly. Or sane and hot, but dumb.

Me - wait, all girls are either sane, smart, or hot? And two out of three is normal? But all three is worth going nutburgers over?
- is that right?

Ben - yep.
- oh god, I shouldn't have let the secret out
- when I said commonly known, I meant among men.

Needless to say, I had to consult with Mike about all of this, and within 6 seconds of me asking if this was accurate information, he sent me this handy chart:

"It's no secret," he said. "It's why I can't ever let go of Erin."

A couple of days later I was picking my son up from a play date, and ended up staying for dinner. While eating barbecued chicken and wedges of grilled zucchini with my fingers (like the polite guest that I am), I decided to bring up the topic to the Husband of My Friend, who wishes to remain unnamed and has threatened to "boycott" my blog if I keep referencing him (which I've only done once before, jeez!). Try it buddy! HERE YOU ARE AGAIN!!

Unfortunately, all I remember from our conversation is that I am not, in fact, the perfect woman, and in the categories listed above I get a 75% for hotness, 75% for intelligence, and 75% for sanity. But he gave me 100% for funny, and I was just as happy with that. When asking what the difference between 75% and 100% was in the grand scheme of woman-scoring was, I was told that 75% is only enough for a man to move his eyes when a woman walks by, whereas 100% is worthy of a head turn. And I have to say, he's right. I don't turn many heads. This was a comfort to me, given the initial dilemma that prompted this entire discovery.

Once I got to a point in our conversation at which I knew I'd start forgetting important factors, I started taking notes. The last thing I wrote was this:

"Does this napkin smell like chloroform?"

My friend, wife of Husband of my Friend, advised that I just start acting crazier. So, I'm working on that, and expect to hear crickets chirping on my next night off from my kids, aka "date night." I could use the break, I have so much laundry to do! As for advice for the rest of you single women in your 30's - if you do happen to be one of the Unicorns that accomplishes the holy trinity, please, just don't go smelling any napkins.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


I can't really be sure Liam is my son.  I'm not suggesting Erin slept with another man on purpose.  Tall guys all kind of look the same, accidents happen.  There's just not a lot of me there.  He's not particularly tall, he's more "blond bombshell" than "black Irish", and his cocktails are absolute garbage.  I've been looking for tangible signs of "me" because looking for him to express my personality traits versus Erin's personality traits is pointless since personality-wise she and I are really similar...with one major exception. You could say she's a bit of a thrill-seeker and me not-so-much.  She's an accomplished skydiver while I couldn't submerge my head underwater until the age of 12.  Consequently I was almost brought to tears recently when Liam first demonstrated some of my more "cautious and self-preserving" ways.  Last Friday I took him to Pump It Up where for 7 bucks he gets put in a room filled with inflatable play structures for an hour and a half.  The result...pure exhaustion, it's awesome.  Incredibly they encourage parent participation so I got to skip my workout for the day (week) and flail around in a toddler-sized elbow-peeling blow-up castle. Wheeeee!!  But that's beside the point, the point is he was a total pussy!  Hooray!!  Until then I'd been feeling a little heartbroken because he'd been into some really scary shit.  Death wish dangerous stuff like sprinting into moving traffic, antagonizing big dogs, and talking to girls.  But Friday he slid down a 4 foot slide in as many minutes, he ticked off the other kids because it took him FOREVER to climb a squishy ladder, and he cried because he was in a maze where he couldn't see me for 2 seconds.  That's my boy!  It was wonderful.  I guess as the father figure I should be instilling values like courage, bravery, and self-sacrifice....but I'll leave that to his mother. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Divorce Diet

Mike has been harassing me about posting and honestly, I've got jack to write about. I mean, jack in terms of parenthood-type stuff. My kids spent the recent holiday with their dad, and are there again till the weekend. As tends to happen in these cases, I find myself compelled to write about non-parenting stuff. Like how hot I am.

Can we just take a moment to reflect on how HOT I am in this stage of my life? I'm not kidding. In general I can be a bit self-deprecating, and almost anyone who has ever been nice to me can tell you that I'm fairly awkward at receiving compliments, especially about my appearance, which I'm convinced is maybe, somewhat "cute/average," at best. I make a lot of jokes about myself and at my own expense, and suppose that if you knew me well you'd think that this was another one.

But its not. I really, really am hot right now.

I used to be quite thin, and grew up eating whatever the hell I wanted because I never really gained weight, Tra la la la la!! (Also because there were no actual 'meals' happening at my house, and we had to fend for ourselves. I'm really good at melting butter and cheddar cheese over elbow noodles...) During my senior year in high school Mr. Potts got mad at me because I was the only one in class who hadn't given blood for some particular cause. When I balked and said I didn't meet the weight requirement, he grabbed my elbow and marched me into the boy's locker room, where he made me stand on the scale to prove it. Which I did.

At home we knew a woman who came over often, a rather large woman, who would watch me cross the room with a look of disgust on her face and say sweet and encouraging things to say to a self-conscious girl, like "just you wait, you little bitch (she meant this in the nicest possible way), once you hit 18 it won't be so easy anymore," to which everyone would laugh. Once I hit 18 and remained lithe, she would say "just wait until you have babies," to which I would reply "ha! Jokes on you, I'm never having babies!" Tra la la la la!!

I actually maintained a pretty normal weight until I met my almost-ex-husband, and started eating. A lot. We lived in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland and would eat out at some mighty fine restaurants back in the day. I might have done the old "fall in love, get fat" thing.

Contrary to the warnings though, after I did indeed have a baby (ooooops!), I dropped the weight fairly quickly. I was Super Happy, I walked everywhere, I breastfed 24/7, all of which made for a reasonably slim mama. Then some stuff happened - we moved to a place I hated, I got depressed, I got pregnant again, had another baby (non-oops), sat around a lot eating pizzas, thinking about going for jogs but not actually doing so, and so I kinda just kept that weight on. Having grown up with no dietary education whatsoever, the thought of altering the way I ate or exercising (shutter) were so foreign to me that I simply could not wrap my head around the idea of eating a salad instead of cheese enchiladas. Why? No, I mean really, why would you eat a salad when you can have cheese enchiladas? They're soooo gooooood!! I joined the Y and would keep track of how many calories I'd burned (I hated thinking in terms of calorie numbers, it still makes me cringe that I actually 'went there'), and if I burned a ton I'd think "awesome! Way to go me! Oh, but now I'm below what I should be, so I guess I can go have a burger and a beer. I love this!"

Fast forward through the years up to about 9 months ago. Long story short - divorce stuff started happening. I got kind of stressed out and lost my appetite. I forgot to bring myself lunch to work, would be too busy in the morning for breakfast, and would be distracted during dinner, so ended up eating whatever the kids didn't finish. I ate a lot of trail mix. None of this was intentional and I didn't even notice any change until one day I was packing to move out of my much-loved home, and I came across my wedding dress. Naturally I tried it on, what scorned bride wouldn't? And, just barely ten years after that sunny, slimmer-me day, it fit. For the first time in ages, I actually looked at myself in the mirror. And then I thought "hot damn!"

I did the usual stuff. I did a wii weigh-in and discovered that I'd lost 19.8 only 557 days! I bought a bikini. I started wearing eyeliner more. I braved tee shirts again. My $1 Salvation Army jeans became too big for me, so I tentatively traded them in for a smaller pair. I started lifting my head and making eye contact, with actual men, in public. It was suddenly all very shiny and foreign, and slightly scary, but I've been toughing it out. I don't expect it to last, I'm aware that I'll likely put the weight back on at some point - especially since I still shy away from fitness in general.

My favorite part about losing weight has been running into people that I haven't seen for a while. Its a really good indicator of where I kept my weight, because without fail they say "wow! Have you lost some weight?!" while waving their hands under their chins and around the sides of their faces. Now that I think about it, I suppose it would be rude to wave their hands around their saddlebags or to circle their muffin-top areas...maybe the face is the polite place to make 'you're not as fat' gestures. My friend and I tried to draw examples of this over pizza and beers recently:

I think these drawings are pretty accurate representations of my recent experiences

I realize that in order to keep my new fantastic-looking body, I need to remain depressed, angry and bitter. Under NO circumstances must I become too smitten with someone or, heaven forbid, start going out to eat or letting someone feed me delicious meals. I MUST NOT fall in love.

Hey, this ain't my first rodeo.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Six Million Dollar Baby

I was born with eleven fingers.  One of them was boneless.  The doctors told me early on that, while creepy, such a thing "wasn't uncommon".  As I grew older and learned to understand double-negatives I came to realize what they meant....that it "was common".  Common sure, if you compare it to being born with twelve.  When I tell people this (and it is true by the way) the natural reaction is to want to see it, but sadly the only proof I have left is a malformed hand and a fractured soul.


The doctors promptly snipped off my extra digit when I was a newborn, and I think that was a bit short-sighted.  Think of the untapped potential!  I have!  Consequently if this deformation turns out to be hereditary I won't be so hasty next month when I welcome child number two.  I'm letting him/her decide when he/she is older whether or not to keep it.  In the mean time doesn't a boneless finger seem like the ideal candidate for experimental bionic technology!?  How cool would that be?!  Beating up bad guys and jumping from balconies in slow motion, with your FINGER!!  I'm at least looking into a flash drive or something until the technology develops.  Or he/she can have the thing snipped off, it's not for me to decide.

P.S.  Speaking of having things hastily snipped off at birth NEVER Google Image search "baby circumcision"...unless you're on the fence about whether or not to do it, in which case definitely Google Image search "baby circumcision"

P.P.S  I don't think circumcision is cruel but I never understood the argument "I want his to look like mine".  Are you gonna to make him get the same haircut as you too?

P.P.P.S  Making him get the same haircut as you is cruel.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Silent Cry

Thought to be exclusive among babies and young toddlers, The Silent Cry is widely known among parents as a general precursor to a much bigger, louder, ear-splitting cry. The goal of the parent is to rush to their child and inflict extreme and distracting comfort before the Real Cry begins, because when it does, its a doozy.

Since starting preschool last year, Evie has proven that she has not at all forgotten the affect of the silent cry from her baby years. It seems she's just been saving it for those first few precious days of school. I'd forgotten about it until facebook started doing their "on this day, in 2010" thing, which told me last week that I'd made some status update about releasing a silent-crying Evie into the very capable hands of her hippie teacher. "Ha!" I thought, "I forgot she used to do that!" God I'm an idiot. Hello! Famous last words, Amanda! Remember?

This week has been an exciting one, what with Bapa visiting and all. As a result, not quite enough sleep has been happening, which sets all of our moods into hyper-sensitive Don't Look At Me Like That Or I'll Fucking Cry Like You've Never Seen Me Cry mode. This morning Evie was complaining about the fact that I hadn't mixed her granola into her yogurt. Yes, she HAD specifically asked me not to mix it, but now I hadn't, and she was pissed. So, I mixed it. While she started to complain that I'd done it incorrectly, Jonah asked me, exasperated, why I hadn't put some thing that he thought should go in some place into that specific place. Without making too much effort to speak under my breath I said to myself "jesus, everybody's a critic today, huh?" to which Jonah replied with a "Mo-om!! Not meeeee! Uh!" followed quickly by an amazingly red face, and tears. Oh, the tears! "Why are you so MEAN?!" he wanted to know. I told him he needed to get a grip, or go to his room, as I was about to completely lose my shit if one more kid made any noises of complaint when all I wanted out of life at that moment was to get them their breakfasts.

Several minutes later, happy again, Evie and I took Jonah to school. This is a very pleasant part of my day. At 8, Jonah still holds my hand while we walk, and this morning he hugged my arm, sighing contentedly and saying "mom, you're're just the best mom ever! I just...I just love you so much!" Yes, this is the same child that had accused me of being a terrible mother within the last half-hour. Such is the unconditional love of children, and I absolutely love them for it.

Next came school drop-off for Evie, which these last few days has been a different story. Remember the whole "she used to" thing from above? Right. This is where it comes in again. Evie attends a lovely, gentle Montessori preschool, with a great play area and lush garden, which is where parents drop off their young for their day filled with whatever wonderful stuff they do there.

Evie and I have a routine of three hugs, three kisses and then its goodbye time. Unless, of course, she's decided to start The Silent Cry - mouth gaping, breath taken in and held, face reddening - all of this as I try to pry her steel grip from around my neck and legs. Usually it doesn't take too long for her teacher to calmly jaunt over and peel the top half of Evie off of my torso, while I then work to unhook her ankles from around my thigh, stumbling and dropping the contents of my purse into a pile of damp wood chips along the way. Surely this is a comical scene to witness - I don't really know, since no one else has ever done it in my presence. So yes, I'm sure its just my kid.

This morning her grey-ponytailed teacher got her attention by saying "Evie! What are you wearing?" Ask her about her outfit, the tears stop. "Its a poncho" she said. "A poncho!" he exclaimed, as if it was the moon slung around her shoulders. She smiled, just a tiny bit. "I used to have a poncho!" And that was that. I crouched down and began scooping zinc lozenges and tampons and wood chips into my purse while I backed away slowly. I didn't avert my eyes from the scene until I'd reached the main building, which, as it turns out wasn't necessary. Evie never even noticed I was gone, so happy was she hearing about her teacher's 70's poncho. Right before I closed the door behind me, I saw her laugh and run off toward the chickens. Bliss was restored. Until tomorrow morning, when we do it all over again.