Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Having grown up in Michigan, land of "We Hate Foreign Cars," and being the rebel that I am I felt like I'd somehow arrived when I became the owner of a used 2002 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon. It fits a couple of kids, lots of other stuff, and has had its fair share of problems over the years.

Lately, it loves to break down whenever I am out of town. It only does this on the weekends, when there are no service stations open, therefore forcing me to have it towed back home. I can hang with the Salt of the Earth types, no problem, and in fact quite enjoy making small talk with tow truck drivers. But this is getting old.

The first time it happened, I was in Half Moon Bay over the 4th of July Holiday weekend. I tried to fix it myself - with duct tape. This without a doubt would have worked if it wasn't for my man-hands and that damn German engineering designed solely for people with hands the size of invisibility.

The next time it happened, I'd just picked up my dad from the airport in San Francisco, and we'd stopped by Slow Club where we enjoyed a delicious brunch. As we were heading home, my car died. See that trail of fluid running down the street? That's my coolant. After a few minutes in the tow truck, I said to my dad, "we really should have had more Bloody Mary's." He chuckled.

But I wasn't kidding.

The time after that, I was on my way to see Mortified, again in San Francisco. The same problem occurred as before, but this time I had to wait over three hours for a tow truck to arrive, which strangely I did not find amusing. Every time I called to check in, they would tell me that it would be arriving within 45 minutes, then 20 minutes, then 30 - 40 minutes, so I didn't bother leaving my spot. For what its worth, the people who live on Filbert Street off of Van Ness are very kind, concerned, helpful folks. And so pretty! Being a mild night, I learned that very short skirts and fuck-me heels are in fashion right now. I obviously had no idea. Another important lesson!

I was so, so grateful that I hadn't eaten dinner and so was forced to stock up on Corn Nuts and Tiger Bars from the nearby liquor store. Because, as the name would suggest, they also had liquor.

When the truck finally arrived, my driver was overly enthusiastic (aka high on crack), and it was soon clear that I had to cram into the cab of his truck along with his prison-tattooed girlfriend.

They were very nice people.

I finally got my sense of humor back when the driver decided to drive in the middle of two lanes - in a construction zone - declaring "they can wait!" to the angry, honking drivers behind him. Ha! Love that guy.

Its good I love him, too, because it looks like we'll be spending a lot of time together.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Quick Holiday Update

Without much news at home I hope you'll excuse this shameless holiday filler.  Liam has been nutburgers over everything holiday.  He's two and change now so this really is the first holiday season where he gets it.  It's a beautiful thing to witness.  It's difficult to describe what it's like to watch him during the holiday gatherings.  To say he's 'very very happy' doesn't quite do it but I think the picture below sums it up nicely.
He's the blond and blue blur at the bottom center
That's a shot from the Healdsburg Holiday Party on the downtown square.  Sprinting has always been the way he best expresses his joy.  It's not just running though, it's more like a high energy dance that covers a great distance.  Shortly after the scene above a group of kids from the local theater dressed as the cast of Winnie the Pooh sang Christmas carols and Liam literally crapped his pants.

Finn's holiday experience isn't quite as intense, but he did just start smiling this week.  With family and friends constantly doting on him I'd say he's not having such a bad time.  I haven't forgotten him at home yet I'm proud to say!  That might sound perverse but with all the travelling and casserole dish transportation (and wine) THINGS HAPPEN.  But so far that nagging "I'm forgetting something" voice hasn't been referring to anything more critical than a quart of buttermilk.

Today we kicked things up a notch as we went ahead and got our tree.  Now the household will be in a constant state of holiday cheer.  Certainly for Liam anyway, maybe not so much for Erin and I unless Liam suddenly learns that a tree covered in fragile glass 'toys' is not actually there for his smashing pleasure.   More to come.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Homeward Bound

I have a few important personal rules: Always say Please and Thank You. Always order fried mozzarella sticks if they appear on a menu. Never visit friends and family in my home state during winter.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. For example - if you're playing miniature golf at Scandia with your new boyfriend and have just met his son for the first time, it is okay to not order fried cheese. Why? Because the kid might expect you to share, and let's face it - that ain't happening. Better to skip it and maintain an image of being normal, at least for a little while.

Another exception is when sad things happen, like when my sweet quirky Grandma passed away Monday morning. I immediately went into "Plan Last-Minute Trip To Michigan" mode, thereby increasing potential for total and complete shock once I finished that and entered into "Holy Shit I Have To See My Family AND It's Winter AND A Holiday" mode.

My family and I have been fine-tuning our Denial skills for generations, and so I've been putting off thinking about the above. Instead I've been thinking about my Grandma. She was the kind of lady who always dropped ice cream on her shirt, and never missed an opportunity to pose for a picture with a taxidermied moose or wolf. Usually she would hold out her hand and pretend to be feeding said deceased wild animal. She was really fun to hang out with, mostly because she was so clumsy and hilarious to watch. She taught me the very important skill of being able to laugh at yourself.

Unfortunately I'm a terrible granddaughter and didn't see her all that much over the last 10 years or so. Also, I have to confess, I forgot to call her on her last birthday. I'm pretty sure the timing of her death is her way of saying "you're gonna forget my birthday? Really? Let's see how busy you can pretend to be at my funeral you ungrateful little twat!"

Just kidding, my grandma would never say twat. Maybe she'd call me a stinker.

So now I get to look forward to Thanksgiving in the Midwest, otherwise known as All Things Meat and Cream and Meat and Fat. I'll likely be spending this day with friends. The next day, too. I get into a decent amount of trouble for not spending time with my family when I visit home. I mean, I assume I do. Since I don't see them often, they don't get much of a chance to give me shit about it...until I do see them. And then I can tell they've been saving it up. Luckily we aren't a yelling people. We choose straight up passive-aggressive guilt trips as our mode of shit-giving. Thanks to years and years of therapy, I can now recognize these traits and can fairly easily let it slide, smile politely, wonder for the umpteenth time why we aren't a family of drinkers, break out into a cold sweat, begin involuntarily holding my know, the usual survival tactics.

Saturday will provide a very rare opportunity for me to see all of my older brothers at once, probably some of their spouses - all of which I genuinely like - and hopefully some of their kids. I do really miss seeing the kids - I have about 20 nieces and nephews (have I mentioned that I'm also a terrible Aunt? I am). I'll also get to see some other random people that I won't mind catching up with, as well as a few that I would really rather not catch up with. This, as far as I can remember, is the very definition of  Holidays with Family. Suck it up, put aside petty (yet completely valid, of course) grudges, and play nice - for Grandma.

Wish me luck.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Keeping the Magic Alive

I purposely leave sex talk out of this blog.  Partly because I figure no one really wants to hear about that part of my life, but mostly because I'm pretty sure that blogging about sex with my wife will most likely end sex with my wife.  But since this week is a bit of a milestone I thought I'd share a quick anecdote.  The milestone I refer to is the fact that Finn just turned six weeks old.  For those of you without kids, six weeks is how long doctors recommend women "wait" after having a child.  This waiting period passes pretty uneventfully for the woman from what I can tell.  One could certainly understand why.  But it hasn't passed all that easily for poor me.  I've used some of the old tricks (cold showers, staying busy, heavy drinking, the music of John Mayer, etc.) but mainly I've just not let my mind 'go there' as freely as I normally would and this has generally kept me at to speak.  Certainly the very FACT that there are two children in the house now has been a deterrent, and that's one thing that isn't going away just because mission control has given the "all clear" (yes, I will stop the bad euphemisms now).  So with sex back but opportunity lacking I thought I would embrace technology with a little mid-day sexting to my beautiful wife.  Here's how that went:

me:  I was just thinking about you...and the things I'm going to do to you.

Erin:   Neat.

me:  Oh no.  I won't be neat

Erin:  Looking forward to it.

me:  If you knew what I was thinking you wouldn't be looking forward to'd be terrified

Erin:  Well that is scary.  Not sure I'm game then.

me:  Too're doomed

Erin:  Are you going to kill me?

me:  You're gonna think you died and went to heaven.

Erin:  Nice.  Can you get green beans on your way home tonight?

me:  But not 'bible heaven'.  More of a raunchy kind of heaven.

Erin:  Well then I will like it.

me:  You really need to get better at sexting or I'm going to blog about it.

Erin:  You're a jackass

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ae Fond Kiss, And Then We Sever

I had my first visit with the doctor on Monday.  When I called him up and announced "I want a vasectomy" he scheduled an appointment.  I had no idea what this appointment would entail.  Certainly not the severing of my vas deferens so what was the point?  I showed up anyway because I was beginning a relationship that would end in with a knife in my balls so it was best to start out on the right foot.

He sat me down in a chair opposite him and looked at me with a very serious expression.  Then he asked me, "So.....are two kids enough?"  God, I hadn't thought about that.  In the face of surgical sterilization it had never occurred to me to consider whether or not I wanted more children.  "Yes" I answered.  He then went on to describe a few of the more colorful details regarding the procedure which I've blocked out.  Then he mentioned that "with the severing of the duct your semen volume will be reduced by about 10%."  Oddly over the course of my 14 year relationship with my wife the volume of semen I let loose in one go had never been much discussed.  I'm not one to rock the boat so I mentally checked this off as "not a deal-breaker".  He then mentioned I should wear "tight shorts" to the appointment.  I was immediately flattered, particularly since he'd just seen my dick.  "It will help hold in the ice packs we'll be packing around your (gestures toward the crotch) area".  I immediately imagined that walk through the parking lot.  Finally he asked me to sign a waiver but assured me "this waiver is just an agreement to receive the procedure, not a commitment."  So I donned my official doctor's voice and did my best impersonation of how that scene might play out.  "Sorry sir I know you don't want to go through with the procedure and you're desperate to have more children but you DID sign this form so I'm afraid we're going through with this whether you like it or not".  HA!.....right?  "That used to happen" he assured me.  "Back in the day those who were seen as 'mentally undesirable' were forcibly sterilized".  Yes....I'm pretty sure that was a threat.

My appointment is scheduled for December 16th.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dear Diary...

So, this is cool - recently I met with the producers of Mortified. I read to them from my old diaries, they liked what they heard, so I'm going to be in the show. While this in and of itself is kind of a 'dream come true' experience for me, with it came a shocking and terribly depressing discovery:

My love life hasn't changed much since I was in Middle School.

"Oh Amanda," you're thinking, "stop being so self-deprecating all the time, silly! You're greeaaaaat!"  Or maybe you're thinking "she's exaggerating for the sake of the blog. Middle School? Ha! She's funny..."

Allow me to show you some excerpts from my Middle School and then Current diaries. Then you'll get it:

Sept 17th, 1989
     I need someone who will love me! I want to wear a jacket or a class ring and have it mean something! I want a boyfriend so bad!!!! Cute, sweet, mature, kind-hearted, athletic, I want a boyfriend!!!! I have to get a boyfriend so bad.

Sept 29th, 1989
        Well, Matt gave me his ring. I realize now I don’t like him. I have to give it back, but I just can’t. I know I should, I just don’t wanna hurt him. I don’t think it would though, its prolly all just a game to him.
    I love to roller skate. I love to roller skate fast!!
    I think I like Brian.
November 15th 1990
    I heard Tony liked me. WOW! 
I wonder if Tony really likes me. I guess I’ll find out, ay?
(later) I’M GOING WITH TONY!!!!!!

November 22nd, 1990 - Thanksgiving
    Tony broke up with me yesterday. We lasted 6 days. 

So, as you can see, I really wanted a boyfriend. I also thought it would be cool to have a boyfriend for more than a few days, or weeks if I was lucky. Yeah, I eventually had a boyfriend for 2 years. I also had a husband for 10 years. But now, things have kind of come...full circle. 

After taking about 6 months off from the whole "men" thing, I decided I was ready to dip my toe into the dating pool. And woo! Boy did I get some swimmin' done! I enjoyed dating, but it got tiresome very quickly. When I finally decided to go the boyfriend route,, read for yourself: 

Sept 8th, 2011
      I find myself only dating (guy who has specifically asked to not be mentioned in my blog), and actually really liking it. He's very chill and easy to be around, very respectful, funny, makes me laugh, etc. I like him very much.

October 1st, 2011
     (Guy who has specifically asked to not be mentioned in my blog) broke up with me, via email - (basically this generation's version of a note handed to you while passing each other in the hallway)


I got over that, I think. And then, the day after I told Mike that I was "off men" for a while, this HOT guy asked me out. How could I say no to someone who looks like a freaking Ken doll and seems legitimately attracted to me, especially when I hadn't washed my hair that day and had six holes in my t-shirt? We went out a few times, had some cuh-razy awesome time together, and one night after some drinks he - much to my surprise - asked me to be his girlfriend. It was adorable. I was pretty drunk, so I said yes. A couple of days later, after some thought, I tried to give him an out and brought it up in an adult, 'let's check-in' conversation. He said that No, he wasn't completely wasted at the time; Yes, he did in fact mean it; and then he assured me that this was happening

He dumped me the next day. He was my boyfriend for three days.

Seriously, I didn't even have time to write about him in my Dating Diary!

So mark my words, fans: I am OFF MEN, at least until after the Holidays. Who wants to date during the Holidays? Not this girl! Don't even try, please, I'm begging you. I realize that as soon as I said I'd been dumped - again - my male fans and their friends started a texting brigade and were about to start lining up at my door. But really, just don't bother. 

I have plenty of space in my journal for after the Holidays.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I can't Adam and Eve it!

So I have to admit I have a problem.  I think it's natural to celebrate one's heritage.  You should embrace your ancestry and the culture of your people, but it's important to not be a complete dork about it.  I can't help but giggle to myself every time I go to a taqueria and there's that picture of the Aztec warrior standing on the mountain top holding that unconscious chick in the white dress (am I racist?) or that cat at the Chinese restaurant giving the "Cat Power!" sign (am I super racist?).  I can't help it!  So dorky, right?  Well it turns out I'm no better.

He looks like Blur!!  His name is Liam.  His brother's name is Finn.  Evidently I think we're British.  I mean look at him!  What's next, a little Christopher Robin schoolboy uniform?  How did it come to this?  Okay it's been in the making for a long time.  My favorite authors are Douglas Adams and J. K. Rowling and I'm obsessed with Monty Python and Dr. Who.  God, I'm not even a cool British wannabe like the people who wear Alexander McQueen and listen to Radiohead!  I'M SO LAME!  Why can't I just embrace my true American heritage? Why can't I stand country music?  Why can't I shoot animals?  Why can't I love Raymond like everyone else does?  Is there a support group for this kind of thing?!  Bah, I need a pint.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Civic Doody

As I might have mentioned I became a father for the second time just about a month ago and I love it!  I love it so much that every day I have to leave them is like some cruel kind of punishment and the nights at home with them are too short.  There's "paid family leave" for new daddies that I would love to take advantage of but it only pays a fraction of what I usually make and my three figure paychecks can't handle that kind of a hit.  So I took two days off after Finn was born and went back to work.  Blah.

But then I got jury duty.  Most people bemoan jury duty but I saw the opportunity there.  It's a civil trial that's supposed to last through December, the sessions are only five hours a day, and my work gives me full pay.  In other words I get up at 7:00 am instead of 4:00 am and I'm home by 2:00 pm instead of 6:00 pm.  And instead of back breaking winery work I sit in a chair in a quiet room.  For those of you without children sitting in a chair in a quiet room is ecstasy.

It turns out if you want to get chosen for a jury it's super easy!  Especially in a civil trial as long as you can quiet your morals and agree that given the weight of evidence that in fact the rock quarry is entitled to the land promised to the orphanage.....for example.  So we're on week three of this stupid trial with at least two more to go.  The 'Merchant of Death' trial recently ended after just three weeks but apparently an easement disagreement is far more complex than decades of illegal arms dealing.  I can't give any details on the trial, partly because I'm not supposed to, but mainly because I stopped paying attention after day three.  I will say it's not like on T.V. and my resentment for everyone I see in that goddamn room every morning is blooming into psychotic rage.  Especially Mumbles McLawyer for the plaintiff, Hideous Hairpiece Smoker Guy, and Motherfucking Toothsucking Juror Number Three, AAARRGGGHH!!! Stop it, stop it, stop it!!!!

My early attempts to exact revenge on my fellow courtspeople were pretty benign.  Things like trying to light them on fire with my mind or picturing them slipping on ice while wearing a diaper.  But recently I've been not holding open doors or saying "good morning".  Today I might have gone a little too far with my general irreverence and disdain for my fellow jurors.  After using the urinal and ending up with some incriminating spots on the front of my pants after a mistimed zip-up, I drew attention to myself by taking a picture.  "Yeah, I peed myself a little and want to show my wife SO.  You got a problem with that bitch?  Go suck your teeth!"

Anyway, it is nice to be home this much.  Finn is already a month old and he's getting SO BIG!  And Liam, GAH!!!  I fall in love with that dude more every day.  Thank you Judicial System!  I promise I'll start taking notes and stop taking pictures of my crotch.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

3, 2, 1...It's the Holidays, Y'all!

Ninjas. No, really.
Last week was Halloween here in America (that's for our international readers - yep, we've got 'em!), and it officially kicked off the Holiday Season (sorry Jehovah's Witnesses, this is happening). From now on its a full-throttle nutso time-sucking vortex of activities and parties and food and making small talk and drinking and chuckling over kids' tendency to eat too much sugar and then go completely batshit crazy.

Halloween also punched me in the gut a little bit, because it reminded me that all of the above will soon be happening, in a totally different way than I've ever experienced. I didn't get to see my kids Trick-or-Treat - custody schedule being what it is - and so I missed out on something that I absolutely love to do with them. There is nothing better that watching Jonah and Evie join the herds of Plastic Princesses and Badly-Painted Darth Mauls as they try to get the most possible candy into their bags and faces before their parents start to really pay attention to the intake.

Now She's a Cat
Though incredibly bummed about missing out on this tradition, I feel satisfied that I put in plenty of 'Mom is Awesome' time over the weekend. Saturday: Halloween carnival at Coppola. Saturday night: Halloween party with family. Sunday: Tigerfest (another carnival thing...its a fundraiser...with costumes...nevermind). Sunday night: Pumpkin Carving. Monday: All Species Day at Evie's school. Hoooo boy was I ready to hand them over by Monday afternoon, missed Trick-or-Treating or not.

Since having kids I've asked myself several times "what do people without kids do on Halloween?!" Turns out they have a lot of fun! Who knew? I strapped on my glittery roller skates, threw on an incredibly radical dress and an afro wig, and went to a party where there were Grown Ups. No kids. Just adults. See what I'm getting at here? Yeah, it was a good time.

Totally Didn't Fall

So I got some partying in, lets just say. I'm now officially ready for Thanksgiving. And Christmas. And New Year's, all of which promise to be much, much tamer than my Halloween turned out to be. And I'm completely fine with that.

Bring 'em on.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I was going to debate with Amanda over who was going to blog first about Halloween but since mine was the only one not X-rated I figure I win by default.  As usual we had big dreams for our family costume theme this year, but with a $30 total budget, my Han Solo pants are going to have to wait until next year.  Finn was easy, he got the hammy-down (that's how I used to think it was spelled) hot dog costume from Liam's first Halloween.  So from there we build.  Liam was a hamburger, Erin was a waitress, and I was a fry cook.  Every year the too-effing-cute-for-words city of Healdsburg shuts down the downtown square and all the businesses hand out candy to the kids.  Well, all but the one fancy jewelry store where they freaked-out at Liam once because he gently touched the stupid bird-feeder thing they keep out on the sidewalk.  They were handing out fucking school supplies or something.  Anybitch, Liam didn't bother with his usual nap that day.  I think he sensed he was going to dress up like a hamburger and get free candy so sleep was out of the question.  Instead he took off his poopy diaper and sat quietly in, from what I could tell, no fewer than seven different spots in his room during what would have usually been nap time.  Neat. 

We descended upon the mayhem around 4:30.  By 7:00 we were done.  Really done.  Liam was on what is probably the 2-year-old equivalent of a bender.  No sleep and lots of chocolate.  He divided his time between full-out sprinting and collapsing into my arms.  I got a great workout.  Finn of course slept the entire time.  Erin....well Erin was just really hot.

I don't know if there is anything cuter than little kids dressed up.  Getting to experience Halloween again through the child's perspective has bumped it back up into one of my top three favorite holidays.  As a teenager Halloween is all about 'scary'.  We used to go to an old mansion where my friend worked and watch The Exorcist and then play hide and seek.  I have no idea why I did that.  To this day I insist on taking the side of the bed farthest from the closet so that the monsters will get Erin first.  During our twenties Halloween became about sex.  That wasn't so bad.  But getting back to the roots has really made me love Halloween more than ever.  I already can't wait until next year when the force will definitely be with me.  Oh yes it will.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


This has been an absolute crap year for grapes for EVERYONE.....except me.  Every year I have my doubts about whether or not I'll keep up my annual tradition of making kick-ass wine, but none more than this year.  First the summer was cold and nothing was ripening, then the rains came and everything rotted, then a baby came and I asked for a haircut for Christmas (and I probably won't get it).  So no way in HELL I'm making wine this year, right?  WRONG!

Two full glasses on his head
Right now I'm drinking the 2009 Syrah I made (literally right now) and it's really good.  That was Liam's birth year so I thought I would be the coolest dad by making a little something for him that he could drink when he's "old enough" so I bled off a few gallons of juice mid-fermentation and made port.  Obviously Finn's birth year deserves the same honor but being broke and surrounded by insipid rotten fruit didn't hold much promise....for the average mortal.  So a few days ago I decided to get up early with Liam and see what we could find.  I have a few grower friends who let me glean so I had options.  We headed down the Russian River Valley and on our first stop found some moldy grey Sauvignon Blanc.  Yes that's right...I'm making Château d'Yquem.  I don't know what it is about my luck.  I haven't had a hard life and I'm not a particularly good person, but this kind of shit happens to me all the time.  Maybe I'm over generalizing and it's just wine specific and the only attention I'm really getting is from Bacchus.  An old-timer I used to work with in this business assured me that every time I spilled wine it was a sacrifice to the wine god and I've done more than my share of honoring.  Liam has too for that matter.

So we set to picking, with me doing the majority of the grunt work and Liam focusing on 'quality control'.  We got enough for two gallons which we will eventually bottle into splits and drink when Finn is older, or sell to pay for college

Of course Liam was properly compensated...