Friday, November 30, 2007

"What’s in a name? that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet." *

Social Security's website o' names

Since I am fairly convinced that this fourth is a boy (why would anything be different?), let's start there.

Atticus? Aaron. Not Adam.

Baruch? Benjamin? Berkeley (a nod to H's college days)?

Calvin? Christian? Cain? Erm, maybe not Cain.

David. No, what about Daryl? Wahahahaaaaa....

Eamon. Ethan (VERY popular. So, no.) Eli (another nod...)?

Francis. Eh. Finn? Fred (which is the damn dog's real name)?

G. G is tough. Grover? Gabriel?

Henry. NO.

Ian. Ivan. Call me Ishmael. Or not.

Jonathan, John. Jack. Blech.


Luke. I was wrong, Luke is actually *dropping* in popularity.

Matthew. Michael. Mark. I like Mark, but there are issues with Marks we have known...

Neil. I like Neil. In fact, I really like Neil. Not as much as Luke, but a lot.

Oliver. VERY popular.

Philip? NOT Peter.


Riley. Richard. Raphael (if we are going to look at archangels...)

Seth. I like Seth. I even know Seths that I like. Steven? Sean?


Ulysses is the only U name I can think of.

Virgil Victor Vincent. Valentine.

William. Wyatt. Excuse me.


Y - would you believe Yahir is a more popular name than Simon?

Zachary. Zechariah? Zeke....Zaccheus. Zaccheus was a wee little man, a wee little man
was he....

The boys all have firm opinions on names, but I don't like any of their suggestions (for example, naming the fourth after the only brother of Jesus we don't yet have is NOT acceptable to me.)

Maybe it'll be a girl, and I will have to tackle those names another day.


* Juliet, Act II, sc. ii, in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Parenting forces us to get to know ourselves better than we ever might have imagined we could." *

Monday was my SIXTH day with my family, but my first without another adult to buffer. Or schlep work off to. Or change diapers. And since it was meant to pour all day long (which it did), the thought of spending the day in my house with three hyper children, the damn dog, and probably the TV blaring all day seemed like a very very bad idea. Off to the Children’s Museum we traipsed – my membership had lapsed a few months after Terzo was born but re-upping was simple, thank you, my beloved Visa card.

After slogging through the rain and ditching our sopping jackets (after-after hitting the cash machine, because you know, contrary to my children’s firm belief, I do NOT either grow money on trees in my backyard or mint it in the basement), we started as usual in the Mr Rogers area. Better than a Valium, that Mr Rogers, how I love him. Even at almost-seven, Primo found fun stuff to do, and the two littler boys really dug the trolley, the puppets, and the sweaters (although none of them dressed up in the cardigan sweaters like Primo used to). Terzo was especially enthralled by the player piano.

I was busy trying to figure out if this fish was supposed to look like Liberace or if it had some sort of tumor.

The two older boys were too scared to go in the habitrail until The Baby blazed the way. Possibly because I told them that if they got stuck, tough luck. My seven-month-pregnant belly won’t allow me in further than the first level (sadly, I know this from experience).

I prefer my children caged, not free-range. (Just the opposite of my chicken.)

This room is a little weird, there’s lots of supernatural-ly type stuff in it, like a ghost room (reflections of other museum patrons manipulated by mirrors), a skewed sort of dollhouse, portraits whose eyes follow you around the room, and this lovely lady guarding the entrance. These things always creep me the hell out (remember the one in “Big”? Ick.).

As did this initially.
“Hmmm, Gelfling?”

The two older ones discovered a very cool puppet-master sort of video game, and would have stood there all day changing backgrounds, switching puppets, and choreographing dance routines for them, if I would have let them. Unfortunately for them, there were other children at the museum as well (though not nearly as many as I’d feared, what with public and most private schools off for the first day of hunting season. I suppose they were all out in the deluge shooting poor innocent deer instead. VERY educational. If anyone is going to wield a gun in my family, it will be ME. So there.)

Meanwhile, I yearned for some caffeine –some other SMART mother had brought Starbucks in with her (I know, I am pathetic, I was so desperate, I photographed the damn empty cup!).

Terzo played with the cabinets while I looked at the book display. I thought this one was titled Jesus Makes Hair Gel (maybe out of wine?), a title that took up way too much of my available brain power for several minutes until I figured it out. See? Toldja. Not NEARLY enough caffeine.

And then Terzo made me follow him into the Gravity Room (worse than a funhouse and less than half the fun) where I promptly became nauseated and had to sit down afterwards. Ugh.

I finally dragged away the boys, kicking and screaming – no, merely whining - from their puppet game, and made them stop long enough to eat some lunch, and then wandered into the physical science-y room.

Although this neato contraption does not always operate exactly as it should, I love the way the wires and cages look. Puts me in mind of Calder, whose mobiles I have always loved. That blue ball is one of Primo’s attempts to navigate the maze.

I was thrilled to discover that my children have excellent taste in cars. (This is my midlife crisis car – you know, after I ditch the minivan, which we have not even purchased yet. So perhaps I am getting a bit ahead of myself.)

Terzo wanted to climb to the top of the platform to launch parachutes, but the open steelwork seemed to scare him and he wouldn’t stand up. He crawled not only up all the steps but the entire time he was up there, launching parachutes, watching balls, and thinking about trying the spiral slide (he decided against it, I think because he had to stand up to get to it).

Then he played with this primitive musical instrument for something like half an hour. I thought it was really fun but its noise totally made me have to pee really bad.

So I sat in front of *my* favorite thing in the museum, legs crossed, while he played. See how the letters fall on the screen, and are stopped by the image of your body? So very cool. I want one in my bedroom. Therapeutic; soporific. But probably more expensive than Zoloft...

The traveling exhibit was the Zany Circus for Social Change, comprised of circus tricks like tightrope walking, juggling, and stilts (which I really really wanted to try but realized before I made a total ass of my pregnant self how foolhardy that would be). Don't they look like FUN?

OK, explain to me why, when we have dozens of trains and hundreds of crayons at home, this is still what my children gravitate to when we are out somewhere where there are a dozen other options. Please explain it to me. Because I am at a loss.

We saved the water room till last, because, bad, unprepared mother I am, I neglected to bring either swimsuits and sandals, or a dry change of clothes.

I took photos of stuff that amused me while the three boys built dams, threw rubber fish, and floated sailboats, and got dripping, soaking, sopping wet.

And in Seg’s case, bellowed “Yellow Submarine” at the top of his lungs while plunging the little bath toy in and out and in and out of various pools.

I was both pleased at my child’s very cool taste in music (My guys were also the ones who took the microphone platform in another part of the museum and proceeded to wail “You Shook Me All Night Long” at the top of their lungs while the other children were bleating “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”), and being embarrassed by how very freaking loud he is. I am still not convinced he is not hard of hearing...

Some of those amusing-to-me photos:

Lots of belly-up creatures of the deep.

My favorite denizen of the deep, in his natural habitat (a heavily chlorinated pool in a children’s museum). (Never mind that the little guy is plastic…you would need your head examined as well after spending an hour and a half preventing your youngest child from “SIMMING!”)

Was I trying to channel Andy Warhol?

We spent more than an hour in the water room, and I had to drag the kids out, to beat the Steelers traffic home. Granted, I had a mild episode of “You are horrible, ungrateful, whiny children” shouting on the way home when Primo complained that we’d had to leave at all, and Seg cried because I told him he could not have a milkshake when we got home (we’d had ice cream after lunch).

So call CYS. Go on. I’ll happily hand over my museum membership card to anyone else who cares to wrangle the three of them next time, for the entire day, in a public place. But only if you fit in the Habitrail.


* Fred Rogers

NOW we interrupt this blog because Comcast SUCKS.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"I felt I had every right to use the symbols of the Church and resented being told not to." *

I read Maile Meloy’s Liars and Saints on a whim last week. I vaguely recalled some fanfare about Meloy’s first novel when it came out in 2004, but the whole “saga of an American Catholic family” just didn’t really catch my interest. Besides, if you’ve read Thorn Birds, do you really need a saga of another Catholic family, American, Australian, or otherwise?

A little research revealed terrific reviews from reputable sources, and a nomination to the Orange Prize longlist. (Funnily enough, the other three books I tried to read from that same longlist – Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Mammoth Cheese, and The Great Stink – were disappointing.)

So I brought it home from the library where it long ago had made its way to the general fiction shelves, and started it with not much in the way of expectations. I had for whatever reason lumped it in my mind with Mameve Medwed’s innocuous, chick-litty books, so figured on a quick and possibly pleasant read.

I couldn’t put it down.
From the first sentence, when a young Yvette Grenier marries her military pilot sweetheart before sending him off to World War Two, I was completely intrigued and had to find out what happened next. Not that it was a breathless, headlong rush – no, Meloy’s prose is cool and elegant and oddly removed from its complex characters and their passion-inspired actions. Her pacing is perfect – precise details are given when needed, with Meloy expertly filling in gaps in the action to quickly reach the next important event when necessary. It’s not often that you read a three-hundred page book seamlessly covering fifty years.

There were times when I felt that Meloy was experimenting with her medium, throwing in plot twists and events that were just strange enough to be completely true to the story (the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction mythology only aids Meloy in her endeavor), to see if the reader was paying attention, or if her characters were, or both.

When I stopped by the library to return several other books, I picked up Meloy’s sequel to Liars, A Family Daughter. I don’t want to spoil the read for anyone, but it is equally as compelling as its precursor, and its meta-ness greatly appeals to the geek in me. Meloy’s cleverness, exploring alternate realities for the same characters and playing with displaying her craft within her craft, put me in mind of AS Byatt’s Babel Tower and John Fowles’ French Lieutenant’s Woman.

Liars and Daughter were the perfect duo of books to read the same week that H and I watched Bill Murray in “The Life Aquatic.” While beautifully filmed, with some entertainingly quirky performances (especially by Cate Blanchett and Willem Dafoe), it’s a very strange little movie that could have used a stronger, defter editor’s hand and reminded me very much of a Coen Brothers outing. The conceit of making a movie within a movie was mostly stilted, and there were aspects of the filming that I am sure seemed much more clever in theory than in actual realization (the cutaway scenes of the boat, for example). But like Meloy’s novels (but not nearly so clever), the whole endeavor had a very meta feel to it, like you had opened the door into a private, unedited screening of someone’s personal journey captured on film almost accidentally, and the creator was annotating as you followed along.

So there’s my trifecta recommendation for the weekend:
Liars and Saints and A Family Daughter, coupled with “The Life Aquatic.”

I don’t think you can lose.


* Andres Serrano

Friday, November 23, 2007

"Kraft Foods, which now owns the [Stove Top stuffing] brand, sells about 60 million boxes of it at Thanksgiving." *

We are having a very low-key after-Thanksgiving day: hockey, a long walk in the snow flurries with the dog, Reuben sandwiches and veggie soup for lunch...although I suppose Thanksgiving itself was fairly low-key as well:

H took the two older boys and the dog out for a long hike in the park in the morning, while Terzo and I stayed home and puttered around doing laundry, and playing with Matchbox cars, and nothing much else.

We cleared the fridge of leftovers for lunch. (Each boy had one steamed dumpling, half a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich, a scoop of steamed rice, some raisins, and a clementine. Nothing like a varied diet.)

My older brother opted to drive rather than take Greyhound so arrived in the early afternoon, which was great as we hadn’t been expecting him till almost 8. The boys were totally psyched to see him, and he spent the afternoon playing Stratego and Clue with them. Everybody took naps (some shorter than others) and then we headed over the river and through the woods – or at least over the railroad tracks and through the playground – to Grandma’s house where I very intelligently ate not too much.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night yearning for some more stuffing, however. I should have eaten more stuffing.

My mom never made stuffing – we had always wild rice, which was delicious but not even approaching the buttery, chewy deliciousness of a good, oniony stuffing. My mother-in-law’s stuffing is like my recipe for chicken dip – any excuse to eat a pound of butter, or in the case of the dip, cream cheese, can’t be bad. I don’t really even care that the potatoes are whipped (not mashed); the yams are gluey; the turkey cooked to within an inch of its life; or the veggies are all canned – the stuffing makes up for all of that.


Chicken Dip

1 8-oz. block of Philadelphia cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 large can Swanson white chicken meat, drained and flaked
2-3 scallions, chopped
2 tsp soy sauce

Mash all ingredients together. Best if refrigerated overnight, but not necessary. Serve with Triscuits.

My Mother-in-law’s Stuffing

(for 20-25 lb. turkey)

1 can of chicken broth
6 loaves of bread
1 ½ lbs butter, melted
Celery, chopped
Onion, chopped
6 eggs

Cook giblets, etc., in a can of chicken broth.
Mix all other ingredients together, then use broth to moisten.

I know she stuffs her turkey with it, but she also bakes a giant pan of it next to the bird. And that's about all I know. Except that I could happily eat the entire pan, with maybe a side of cranberry sauce (the jellied kind that comes in a can. (I know, I KNOW.))


*according to a Kraft Foods company spokesperson

Thursday, November 22, 2007

"O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness." *

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds. ~Theodore Roosevelt



* William Shakespeare

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind." *

Start with a very teeny tiny space (fetchingly decorated as an igloo with milk jugs, Christmas lights, and blue plastic tablecloths), a janitor obsessive about scratched floors, and a school building with heating temps regularly reaching into the nineties, making the school like unto the Sahara Desert.

Add some well-meaning if fairly clueless parent volunteers (many of us toting students’ younger siblings) and some already-overworked teachers, lots of little kids who don’t really grasp the concept of money OR tax OR waiting their turn, and a few older kids who are just learning how to work the system, or maneuver around it.

Top with a large-hearted and kind anonymous donor who generously donated money but with no plan regarding how to allocate it to needy kids, and what have you got?


I haven’t been this exhausted since I gave birth to Primo.

I have a really good idea – let’s forget the waterboarding debacl – ahem – debate – and conscript Guantanamo prisoners into running grade-school Scholastic book fairs nationwide. Yes, it might violate the Geneva Conventions, and it might be tough getting clearances for all of them, but I say it’s least enough to get them to confess something and send ‘em all the hell back home, where for fear of having to do it again, they will behave themselves from now on.

It’s just a thought.

* Article 17, Third Geneva Convention

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"Violence is the first refuge of the incompetent." - Isaac Asimov

I very rarely get political on this blog, you all know that.

But the facts of the matter are these, in no particular order:

I am a bleeding heart liberal.

I voted Libertarian in the last city mayoral election.

I am all about social programming, and could not care less about wasting more money on defense spending.

I am a pacifist, and a bit of an isolationist.

I think our brave and stalwart soldiers should come home from Iraq. They are there for all the wrong reasons, even though I am guessing *they* are fighting for the right ones.

And this ongoing story from Veterans' Affairs makes me want to do nothing so much as punch President Bush right in his smug, stupid face.

Friday, November 16, 2007

"You've been mostly dead all day." *

Friday morning, breakfast.
The boys are eating oatmeal and talking about how old people are.
(No, no idea why. Who knows why they talk about three-quarters of the crap they talk about?)

Primo: I’m 6, and Segundo is 4, and Terzo is 2.
Terzo: Two!
Primo: Punto’s 5. But Tiny and Cippy [the cats] are only 4.
Terzo: (Throwing spoonful of oatmeal at the poor dog.) Punto! Five!
Segundo: Daddy’s 45. [Um, he’s not, he’s only 44. At least for a few more months.]
Terzo: Daddy!
Primo: But Mama’s only 37! That’s not old.
Segundo: No, Mama’s not old.
Primo: (helpfully) Grandpap’s old. And Grandma’s old.
Segundo: (thoughtfully contemplating his last spoonful of oatmeal) Yeah, she’s practically DEAD.


* Fezzik to Westley, in "The Princess Bride."
With my sincere apologies to Liz.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"Glory days, well, they'll pass you by, glory days..." *

I went back to my archives to see what I had done for Christmas last year - posting and giftwise - and came to the sad conclusion that I used to be much funnier, and a much better writer.

So sad.


* Bruce Springsteen, "Glory Days"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?" *

QUESTION: Why did I agree to run the goddamn Scholastic Book Fair?
ANSWER: Oh, that’s right, because I wasn’t pregnant last year when I said I would. And so therefore I must have been drunk. Or smoking crack. Or both.

QUESTION: Why does Primo think I have the set list of every show I have ever seen embedded in my brain for all time?
ANSWER: Because if I had someone else to cook my meals, do my laundry, direct my bath times, arrange my social life, and pretty much do everything for me but wipe my ass, I too would have the brain capacity for mindless minutiae like he does.

QUESTION: Why am *I* solely in charge of feeding my family?
ANSWER: Because, clearly, H goes to slave away at his job everyday while I sit at home on my Barcalounger, eat bonbons, and watch soap operas, so really, what’s a little meal planning here and there, between “One Life to Live” and “Santa Barbara”?

QUESTION: For that matter, why am *I* solely in charge of all the Christmas shopping?
ANSWER: I gave birth to them, isn’t that enough? Apparently not. And since I didn’t give birth to my in-laws or my children’s teachers, I suppose it’s only right that I be in charge of shopping for them..?

QUESTION: Is “Santa Barbara” even still on?
ANSWER: I haven’t the foggiest idea.

QUESTION: Why do we live in a three-thousand-square-foot house when all three of my children, both cats, and the dog (and probably the goldfish were he mobile) want to be in the same square foot I am presently occupying?
ANSWER: Because they LOVE me, despite the ungrateful, screaming shrew that I am?
(Although I suppose that’s really another question…)

QUESTION: If a boy punches his little brother in the attic and no one is there to hear it, does it still hurt?
ANSWER: Apparently only three hours later, when it occurs to the younger brother to tattle and burst into tears at his previous trauma.

QUESTION: Wouldn’t it be really useful if, with each child you birth, you grew an arm that upon the youngster reaching the age of eighteen, became vestigial and fell off?
ANSWER: Useful, yes. Attractive, no. But that alone might prevent more children and thus, more arms.
(I would also like to grow progressively harder of hearing with each successive baby.)

QUESTION: Whose fucking idea was it to buy those children a drum set last Christmas?
ANSWER: Oops. Shit.


* "Close to You," The Carpenters

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"And when they start to sing the Marseillaise, they sing it forty different ways. Fifty million Frenchmen can't be wrong." *

I was considering posting my ultrasound photos until I realized, ew, I would be posting pictures of the inside of my uterus on the Internet. My little ‘netties, I love you all dearly but I think I want to keep my innards to myself, thankyouverymuch. Suffice it to say that The Fetus is alive and well, growing beautifully, moving like a maniac, and looks pretty much like every other fetus in utero – kinda creepy and alienesque. It’s ok, I’ve done this before, it turns out ok. (The tech said she could tell the sex (Quarto? Quarta?) but I did not find out. Because I am lousy at keeping secrets like that, and H has no wish to know.) (I think he may still be in denial altogether, frankly.)


I woke up this morning with two arms wrapped in a death grip around my neck, a leg thrown possessively over my waist, and stinky breath being snored in my face. You know, if I was interested in this in the first place, H and I would not have separate bedrooms. I will have to send Seg back to his bed from now on, no matter how loud the thunderstorm. Or at least insist he brush his teeth more thoroughly.


On a similar note, Terzo kept enticing me to lay in his bed with him just “a leetle longer” this evening’s bedtime by requesting one more song. He cocked his head, grinned his toothy grin at me, and said, "’Ow ‘bout...zee 'Iggles?" Or "’Ow ‘bout...Weel-co?" It was what I imagine it would be like being in bed with a very tiny, blonde, charming Frenchman. Only I am assuming Frenchmen don’t dig "’Eavy – er, Heavy Metal Drummer" as much as Terzo does.


See this? My library account.
See that first book?
Why I made Primo get his own damn library card.


*"Fifty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong," Willie Rose, Billy Raskin, & Fred Fisher/ inspiration for the Cole Porter musical, "Fifty Million Frenchmen"

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Let's undress just like cross-eyed strangers..." *

Why do the public schools have off today? I know it’s Veterans’ Day, and while I am all for honoring our veterans (my dad was one, as are most of my uncles, and I dated at least one guy from each branch of the service at the height of my dating life, so you know I am all for supporting our men in uniform), I fail to see why my child can’t go to school, honor the vets there, and, you know, get the hell out of my hair.

Although, in his defense, Primo has been entertaining himself since nine a.m. (which is the absolute earliest I permit any radio/drumming/guitar-playing) by listening over and over AND OVER to Wilco’s “Kidsmoke.” (Have I mentioned it is the only Wilco song I actively dislike?) to ‘learn the words.’ He also seems to be learning the guitar chords, if the energetic strumming and twanging coming from his little plastic electric guitar he got for Christmas last year is any indication. I only hope the strings and tuning mechanisms hold up.

Meanwhile, the two younger boys are carefully stripping all the bedclothes off their beds, ‘because,’ and making tunnels. Well, since I change sheets in the beginning of the week anyway, I might as well let them have their fun. (See how much good not vomiting up the Zoloft does my mental state?)

I am about to shower, pack up all the boys and some lunch, and head to the Center for Creative Play. Since it’s way too soggy to throw them outside today, and so they can go run around there in the supermarket-sized space, and I can have a coffee and read and be glared at by more attentive, caring mothers.


* "I am Trying to Break Your Heart," Wilco

Friday, November 09, 2007

"The richest person in the world...couldn't provide you with anything like the endless, incredible loot available at your local library." *

Now, I know this stack can’t possibly compete with Lazy Cow’s towering, er, tower, but I gave it my best shot.

These Is My Words - Nancy Turner. This is cheating, I guess, but I really just needed to renew this one. I have been so wrapped up in reading about disgusting psychopathic murders that I have been too busy to read a nice wholesome book about life on the prairie.

One Perfect Day - Rebecca Mead. My Favorite Librarian told me she’d just gotten married two months ago (and I wasn’t even invited, sob!) and of all the books well-meaning people sent her prior to the festivities, this was far and away the most entertaining. I can’t wait. Everyone’s worked with one of those chickies that gets engaged and turns into a wedding-planning monster (as opposed to clueless child-bride morons like me who just said, “Yup, that’s fine. Uh-huh, sure, Mom. Okey dokey, dear MIL.” See, I am so EASY). I am looking forward to this book with a somewhat disturbing tendency to salivate already beginning. [Ohmigod, I started it last night and this woman is BITTER. She’s married, so other than being so plain as to verge on homely, I have no idea what her issue is.]

Garnethill - Denise Mina. Mina gets mentioned in many of the same breaths as Val McDermid and Henning Mankell. We all know I like McDermid, if I do consider her mysteries a tad superficial; I own two Mankells but haven’t actually read any. I have read one previous Mina, and was…underwhelmed. But this one. This One is supposed to be AMAZING. We shall see. See what cruising book review sites in the middle of the night will make you go request…?

When We Were Bad - Charlotte Mendelson. Even though I do not have a curl right in the middle of my forehead, this title spoke to me. Plus, it won awards of some sort or another, which my reptile brain recalled when I saw it on the new shelf…[started this one today. Reminds me of Myla Goldberg’s Bee Season for some reason – could be all the secrets swirling throughout the narrative…]

Once Upon a Day - Lisa Tucker. It was sitting in a display with other books I read and liked, including Kite Runner and Spot of Bother. The cover was cool. And MFL said, “I arranged that display, I loved every single one of those books.” So I grabbed it.

From Hell - Alan Moore. To satisfy my graphic novel jones, once I devoured Marvel 1602 in like two hours. It’s about Jack the Ripper. I seem to be on a serial killer kick.

The TinTin is for Primo, it’s the only one he hadn’t read. What AM I going to do with that boy?

I have to point out how much I enjoy the stickers on the spines – the obvious “New Book” sticker, which may or may not mean it’s a one-week book, bright green for graphic novels (“I am NOT a real book!” it seems to shout), the starkly drawn skull for mysteries (“Read at your own risk!”). I like ‘em.


* Malcolm Forbes

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"Nothing is quite so wretchedly corrupt as an aristocracy which has lost its power but kept its wealth..." *

I am ripping through Val McDermid’s Wire in the Blood. It’s sort of horrifying, but not exactly subtle. I expected more nuance (a complaint I have had with the other two McDermid books I have read – and nonetheless enjoyed), which, again, isn’t to say I am not completely engrossed. I am. So engrossed that the last fifty pages of Street of a Thousand Blossoms (a book I liked very much and can recommend as an excellent read) are languishing unread on my nightstand.

I must make a run to the library to pick up my latest requests: Rebecca Mead’s One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding, Alan Moore’s From Hell (nice juxtaposition there, eh?), and Denise Mina’s Garnethill.

I still have Ha’penny waiting here for me to pick it up, if I ever finish plowing through Dorothy Sayers’ Whose Body? which I must confess I am not loving. I am finding Lord Peter MOST annoying. Why does he keep dropping the g’s at the end of his words? Is that supposed to be something aristocrats do? If it is, I am glad I don’t hang out with any (even though I have been made fun of for enunciating my ending g’s so hard as to make them sound like k’s; must be my lower-middle-class background...)

Meanwhile the new Richard Russo has suddenly sprung to my attention from the pile under my nightstand and is demanding to be read RIGHT NOW. Tut, tut, little book, there are library books ahead of you.


*“...and which still has endless leisure to devote to nothing but banal enjoyments." Alexis de Tocqueville

Sunday, November 04, 2007

"Ka-chow!" *

Epiphany of the day: You haven’t lived until you have watched your four-year-old, all spindly arms and legs, running around announcing a stuffed-animal hockey game in his Lightning McQueen underpants – the ones with "I AM SPEED" emblazoned across the butt.


* Lightning McQueen in "Cars"

Saturday, November 03, 2007

"They're different from my other friends, they don't start sentences with "You know who just died shoveling snow?" *

I am going to write another post that might – or might not, since it doesn’t involve animals - spawn vitriol and disgust. (And I am not picking on poor Miz S, I swear I’m not – her response was tame (and at least sincere and balanced) compared to some of the emails I got on that post, and now I will say no more, I promise.) This topic is especially worrisome to me after reading Alice’s funny and heartfelt post about making new friends, which left me feeling like my soul is a withered old crone, perhaps with a big wart on her nose.

People will think, God I can’t believe she even HAS any friends. Maybe you won’t be surprised, who knows. But here goes.

I asked Gina (who totally generated that BFF anxiety in ME when I first asked her out for coffee lo, these many eons ago) recently if it would be very awful to have “Leave me alone, I have enough friends” tattooed on my forehead. It’s not that I have thousands, or that I really think you can have too many. It’s not that I don’t meet people I am sure I want to hang out with, and who would make my life better, funnier, or just simpler. But I am feeling very stressed lately, and have not had nearly enough time to myself.

And what I want – what I NEED – to do, for example, on school mornings is drop the two older boys off and return home to plunk Terzo in front of Sesame Street for an hour while I drink a cup of tea, read the paper, catch up on blogs, get the laundry started, wake up a little bit…in other words, probably all those things that other people get up early, before their children, to do. And which I don’t, because I have never been a morning person and the fact that my offspring rise at the ass-crack of dawn has not changed my proclivities, if it has changed my actual actions. I may like you, you may be a perfectly nice person I will be sorry I didn’t get to know, but right now I don’t want to go walking with you, I don’t want to take the kids to the zoo, I don’t want to go to the park, I don’t want to do anything but what I said above. I don’t want to DO anything. I don’t want to SCHEDULE anything. I just want to BE for a few moments, catch my breath, and figure out how to get on with my day. I have a husband who works long hours, and three children who must be fed and clothed and kept healthy, and I have work to do (that actually pays money) even though I no longer go to an office. I have to do necessary things like go grocery shopping and clean and run errands, in between picking up and dropping off children at various schools, and I truly don’t understand why NO ONE ELSE seems to need to do these things. (I also seem to need a lot of time to myself, which may or may not be normal but that’s what it is. I enjoy my own company and don’t get nearly enough of it. )

You know what else? Friday evenings? I don’t want to go out at ten for drinks; by ten I would like to be in bed, asleep. I don’t want to sit in your living room and fondle dildoes with the rest of your friends at your Tupperware – er, excuse me, Passion Party; I don’t want to see a movie I know nothing and care even less about, or stroll the mall, or do much of anything other than have a drink or a restorative cup of tea, maybe watch a period or two of the hockey game with my husband, read some of my book, and go to bed early. If my neighbors are out on the porch, I might wander across the alley and have a glass of wine and a bit of a chat with them – this event does not require showering, make-up, or for that matter, shoes, and is a highlight of my social life. I am TIRED. I am LAZY. I don’t like feeling obliged. I am possibly the most antisocial person I know.

I don’t see enough of the friends I already have and love. E lives three minutes from me and I see her when we drop the kids off and pick the kids up at school. Gina lives three miles from me and I see her maybe once a month, if I am lucky and we are both healthy, awake, and in decent moods. And I don’t love her any less when she calls to cancel because she’s feeling yucky and it’s raining and we don’t feel like venturing outside, and she doesn’t love me any less when I call to cancel because I have had a rotten day and just want to go to bed with the comforter over my head. And THAT is the kind of friend I need. Not one who minds if I have to cancel, or doesn’t understand why I don’t want to pay for a babysitter to go do something I actually have no desire to do. I am very fortunate to have several dear friends like that; I also have some wonderful cyberfriends to whom I consider myself closer than people I might see even every day (and somehow I know these friends, if they lived near me, would be the friends I would want to see and who would understand when I needed to hibernate.)

I don’t want to join a mommy’s group, or discuss books with people who consider Maeve Binchy great literature (not that I haven’t read and/or enjoyed a Binchy title…), or schedule exercise everyday at the same time (for that matter, I prefer to run by myself, as my running is done as much for its mental as its physical benefits.) I don’t want to make elaborate plans that require planning like unto the invasion of Normandy.

I really should have been one of those hermits who lived atop a pillar or in a cave somewhere. I probably should not have gotten married and procreated four times. I probably will not be surprised when I am old and alone, with my sixteen cats and neighbors who don’t know or care if I am dead or alive. There are many people I love, and fewer people I actually enjoy spending time with; but mostly, I need way more time by myself than I get, and I am starting to mightily resent a lot of perfectly nice people demanding more of my time and attention.


* Richard (Tom Selleck), on "Friends," about Joey and Chandler

Friday, November 02, 2007

"It seems to me that the problem with diaries, and the reason that most of them are so boring..." *

I am NOT doing NaNoBloPloMoBlowPop.

I will continue to blither as desired (by me), but am not committing to everyday.

I do have several posts, as always, floating in my brain, including one which may spawn as much vitriol as the infamous dog post, and may cause most of you to wonder that I have any friends at all.

If anyone is still reading.

But not today.

Today Terzo and I are overdosing on Diego, eating some pumpkin pie, going to the grocery store, and being boring. I am feeling VERY anti-social.


* " that every day we vacillate between examining our hangnails and speculating on cosmic order." ~Ann Beattie, Picturing Will, 1989

Thursday, November 01, 2007

"Nothing on Earth so beautiful as the final haul on Halloween night." *

I just ate a Reuben sandwich as big as my head and may not move for a month. But it’s all ok because I went to the OB yesterday where I discovered I have lost another pound, bringing my total to 12, and got yelled at for forgetting to schedule my ultrasound. Poor neglected fourth child.

The trick-or-treating went fairly well, barring the moment when I threatened to make them all stay in because they were whining and not listening to me as I pulled a damn superhero costume pretty much out of my ass. I have one word for you: Plastics. No, kidding. Safety pins. Which I suppose is two words, but God, they saved my life and I may never sew anything ever again. Or at least not anything that only has to last for two hours. I also had to let go of my control-freak self and allow Primo to design his own Harry Potter costume, and you know what, his idea turned out pretty well so I have learned a lesson. Namely, more Valium, less control.

I made Jess’s butternut squash soup for dinner but H and Sarah Louise ate most of it before I got around to pureeing it in the blender. Oh well. It was a thematic dinner – orange soup and black bread. Pumpkin pie for dessert. After a nod to dinner in the form of grilled cheese, milk, and gherkins, Primo ate a Three Musketeers, a bag of M&Ms, some Sour Patch kids, and God knows what all else. Seg ate some candy and then complained that his stomach hurt so came home and ate toast and milk. Terzo ate anything he could get open, including an Almond Joy that (I think) was run over by a car, and the non-edible gooey eyeballs given out here:

The pumpkin creativity on display was wonderful:

This one looks disturbingly like my father-in-law:

I think these were funny:

This was my favorite:

Once home, the boys rooted around in their treat bags to check out their loot, but we had to hurry them upstairs to bed. After all, today was a school day. But first they had to put notes on their jack-o-lanterns so that the Great Pumpkin (otherwise known as Mom) would know whose was whose.

Even though I carefully explained that *I* was the Great Pumpkin, and he's not like Santa because Santa is REAL, the boys were delighted by the idea of the Great Pumpkin coming on Halloween night...with books. What can I say, I had a gift card and a twenty-percent-off coupon set to expire tomorrow...and if *Santa* thinks I am sharing any more gift cards or coupons, he's got a second think coming.


* Steve Almond