I was never that mama who played cloying, insipid kid music for my child. No Raffi or Baby Beluga or whatever it is that the suburban soccer moms play in the minivans on the way to the mall. No, no, no. That's never been us. Call me selfish, but music is such an important part of my day-to-day life that I never even considered changing my musical tastes once I had a child. Of course, I'm not gonna blast Nine Inch Nails in the kitchen on the ipod speakers while Lily and I are baking brownies, I'm not that wrapped up in my own needs. But still. When it comes to music, it's all about me.
Lily was rocked to sleep with Joni Mitchell, Counting Crows, Patty Griffin, Colin Hay. She was weaned on disco. She learned to walk while listening to "Lowrider". The only kids' music I ever allowed in my house was Dan Zanes and Friends, and that's only because he used to be the lead singer of the Del Fuegos and he lives in Brooklyn. So that was moderately permissible.
Lily and I rock to the good shit. And I'm kind of proud that she's already got a good ear for music. That she can pick out themes and overtones in the songs we listen to. For example:
Lily On Let my love open the door by Pete Townsend: "This is a song about a boy who loves a girl, and he is saying, come into my apartment. I will open the front door for you and let you in. Because I have a key."
On George Michael's Freedom 90: "That song is about the slaves."
On Regina Spektor's Fidelity: "Put on the song about the heart! Play the ah-ah-ah-ah heart song!"
On Lil' Mama's Lipgloss: (from the back seat of the car, after applying lemonade flavored chapstick): "Mama! My lip gloss is poppin'."
There is nothing in the world that skeeves me out more than cockroaches. They are even more disgusting to me than the giant sewer rats that skulk along the subway tracks in Manhattan at night. Cockroaches are nature's way of saying, "Fuck you, humans!"
Ugh. I hate them, with their little brown bodies covered in paper-thin veiny armor, their tiny swishing antennae, the way they skitter across the kitchen floor on those skinny little legs when they think I'm not looking. Dicks.
Generally, I'm not a fan of killing anything. I'm the girl who boos at the company when they go to kill a spider in my house, and insist that they usher it into a paper cup and then out an open window so that it can have another chance at life. I cry when a plant doesn't make it. I'm very anti-glue trap.
But cockroaches? Those little fuckers deserve to die.
I shouldn't even have them. My apartment is clean (well, relatively). But my next door neighbor is the most disgusting man on earth, with an apartment overflowing with takeout containers, dirty dishes and newspapers dating back to the Nixon administration. I'm totally fucked. They crawl out his front door and into mine. And they settle down behind my microwave and inside my coffee maker (yech!!!), and eat eachother's heads and procreate.
But I've outsmarted them this time. No cockroach can escape the lure of whatever delicious poison lies in wait inside the little black Combat traps I've stashed all over my kitchen. (This poison, incidentally, smells like hot dogs. I'm not sure why but it does). Extra strength. Double package. He he he. Let the bloodbath begin!
As many of you know, I am a mighty rabid fan of a little Swedish megaband called ABBA. Yeah, I'll say it again. I FUCKING LOVE ABBA.
The first time I heard "Dancing Queen", I was maybe 5 and in the back seat of my parents'car and was overwhelmed with inexplicable joy and visualizations of a teenaged me dancing on the beach with my friends (note: absent from said vision were wine coolers, Marlboro Lights, and Cool Ranch Doritos, which were all present in real life years later. Also vomiting teenaged football players).
I think life should be like an ABBA song: Jovial, fun, filled with hope and abandon and irrepressable glee. Oh god, hang on. I just have to vomit up my Starbucks in my wastebasket.
But let's get serious, folks. And switch the topic. To death.
Specifically, the death of ABBA's studio drummer Ola Brunkert.
Even more specifically, the horrible, blood-soaked death of Ola Brunkert.
March 17: Spanish police say the gruesome death was caused by a freak accident in which Brunkert bled to death after puncturing his throat with a broken piece of glass. According to CNN, police believe the drummer may have fallen against a glass partition that separated his kitchen from his garden, causing the glass to break and fatally cut his throat.
Now, after taking a moment of silence to honor Ola and rue his loss of life due to the slashed throat and all (I wonder if he was drinking? Nah), I started thinking really hard about death. Like, the grossest deaths ever. This started me on a morose and fascinating research path. I decided to spend some time with Dr. Wiki. Here's what I came up with:
Death by Scarf Isadora Duncan, dancer "The automobile was going at full speed when the scarf of strong silk began winding around the wheel and with terrific force dragged Miss Duncan, around whom it was securely wrapped, bodily over the side of the car, precipitating her with violence against the cobblestone street."
Death by Robot Robert Williams was the first man ever killed by a robot. On January 25, 1979, Williams climbed into a storage rack at the Ford Motor’s Flat Rock casting plant to retrieve a part because the parts-retrieval robot malfunctioned. Suddenly, the robot reactivated and slammed its arm into Williams’ head, killing him instantly.
Death by Decapitation by Helicopter Rotor Blades Actor Vic Morrow died on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie when a helicopter spun out of control due to special effect explosions, crashed, and decapitated him with its rotor blades.
Death by Bottle Cap Tennessee Williams died in 1983 after he choked on a bottle cap in his hotel room. Again, I'm sure alcohol played no part in this. No way. Not possible.
I think this is my favorite, though:
Death by Beard Austrian Hans Steininger was famous for having the world’s longest beard (it was 4.5 feet or nearly 1.4 m long) This was in 1567. When a fire broke out in his town, in haste Hans forgot to roll up his beard. He accidentally stepped on his beard, lost balance, stumbled, broke his neck and died.
The birds are a-twitter, my heart is thumping with Starbucks, little greenish baby buds are starting to peek out of the ends of tree branches, and the outdoor cafes, littered with morning coffee sippers, beckon and wink at me as I lollygag to work.
Crocuses and daffodils are stretching yawning and poking their colorful little heads up to sit happily in the dirt amongst discarded cigarette butts and McDonalds wrappers in the garden of my mean old lady neighbors. (I don't know how such hateful women can produce such botanical wonderment in the middle of Queens, but there you go. Another of life's mysteries. Maybe bitter gall is good fertilizer?)
The streets of New York are alive with the return of the seasonal homeless. Gossiping nannies sit on park benches in Madison Square Park, ignoring their tiny charges, who wander a little too close to the water fountain. Aaaah. Now this is the life.
The air is sweet and pungent with the scents of kettle-cooked nuts and horse excrement. The buildings glitter in the morning sun. I wear my Holly Golightly sunglasses and pull on my lightest, softest, most favorite thrift store coat.
Hot damn. Well, 35 is off to a very exciting start.
8 PM this evening will mark the anniversary of my mother bravely pushing me out into the world without the help of spinal anesthesia, aromatherapy, a birthing suite, or a doula.
So, thanks mom. And, thanks to Dad too, for, you know, doing your part. It's hard to believe that you and mom actually engaged in that activity twice. Or so I imagine, since I have a little sister. Actually, I don't imagine. Not ever.
I'm running on very little sleep and the effects of vegan stir-fried angel hair and Sam Adams and too much coffee all churning in a stomach that's weak as a baby bunny's. So, I'll just post this. As a warning to you all...
Last night I celebrated my 35th birthday with 19 of my favorite people. We had a fantastic dinner at an Indian vegetarian restaurant, where we took over two big tables in a private section that looked like a cave (I didn't know caves were the rage in India, but, well. Anyway.). The food was great, the laughs were big and numerous, and I was very grateful for such a wonderful night. Afterward some of us went to sing karaoke. We got a private room (very Lost In Translation), and 4 bottles of champagne later, it was 4 am and I was in a taxi with uncontrollable hiccups. I woke up this morning feeling like a giant boa constrictor had wound itself around my head and would surely crush my brains if I so much as opened one eye a speck.
But goddamn it, it was worth it.
Oh, and a special grazie to mom and dad for taking Lily overnight so that I could re-enact my wild child college days for the evening. I have a feeling that 35 is going to be a hell of a year...
My heartfelt toast to the cave
Jeremy palms me on the head
My lovely sis and her very tall boyfriend
Beautiful Kara totally outdoes me with her toast. I love Kara.
Heather and Missy with the youngest person at the table, baby Junot
A quiet moment with my beer. That looks like a glass of urine.
Chelsea and Marisol and the E-street Band
Jeremy and I share a seat and wait for more champagne
Bennett pretends it pains him to sit next to me and my singing voice. But really he loves it.
This is at about 2 am, I think. Or later. Probably singing Blondie. Or Pat Benatar. And kicking so much ass at it.
So Shawn and I are sitting in the alcove of Lily's pre-school this afternoon, having our bi-annual conference with her teachers. It was awesome. The things her teacher said about my beloved girl just made my mama heart swell to twice its size.
She actually said my daughter was spiritually beautiful. Or something like that. I can't remember the words exactly, since I was already so emotional from arguing with Shawn all morning and feeling like I wanted to twist a shank in his gut as he squatted next to me on a tiny wooden child's chair. That kind of clouded the whole experience for me. But we worked it all out later.
So Teacher #1, who we were meeting with, told us that during a lesson on President's Day, Teacher #2 (you might remember her from this entry from February) was talking about Abraham Lincoln, telling the children that he was a great man and a great president.
And then Lily raised her hand and told Teacher #2 (who is very sweet, very Christ-loving, and veeeeeery conservative),
"Well. My mommy says that the man who is president now, he is not a good president at all."
And Teacher #2 said: "Ahem. Well, you know, Lily, he is our president, so we really should respect him."
And Lily replied, "Well. My mommy said he isn't a good man either. And not a good president. That's what my mommy said."
Tonight I was on the train listening to my new favorite song, "Mouthwash", by Kate Nash. I am so totally in love with that song. I can't get enough of it. I want to devour it like a box of girl scout cookies, rub it all over me like Origins Ginger Souffle body cream, soak in it like a fabulously warm bubbly lavender bath. Mmm mmmm good.
So as I'm having an orgasm over this song, I got this (somewhat vacuous, silly, but worth sharing?) notion:
See, it's like this: Love is like a song. Listen. You know that feeling you get when you hear a new song and you just know you're going to adore it? You know what I'm talking about. The song just stands out from all the others. It makes your heart pump more blood per second, you can't help but smile, you actually consider jogging to it, you just want to belt it out when it comes on in the car and pretend you're on American Idol, and you wanna move your body to it (or in my case, bob your head like the 35 year old ass that you are, doing a dance similar to that of Dorothy prancing down the yellow brick road on the sidewalks of Queens, NY) with your headphones on.
That song. It makes you feel hopeful. When you are listening to it, the world rights itself, instead of looking somewhat cock-eyed, like it usually does. The song makes you feel pretty.
So, you listen to it. Again, and again and again and again. You suck it up like sugar through a straw. (Or you smoke it like crack in a pipe; who am I to assume your preferences?)
You learn all the words. Every beat, every chorus, every inflection in the singer's voice. You know it by heart. It's crawled up inside you and is living there, curled and cozy. Comfortable.
But, over time, the feeling starts to fade. You know it does. It slips through your fingers. It's still a great song. Of course it is. But you spin the ipod dial when it comes up on "shuffle". I'll come back to it later, you think. I wanna check out that other shit I downloaded last night. You do come back to it. Of course you do. But it's just not the same. You simply can't capture that thrill you had when it was new. It's just gone.
You mourn the loss of it.
You feel like maybe you'll never again hear a song that good. Nothing that clicks into you that way, splashes all over you, like juice exploding from a succulent first bite. Everything you hear sounds the same. Ugly. Empty.
Until. Not long after,
You hear another song that gets inside you. Deep inside you.
I was out with a friend last night and the topic turned inevitably to the Spitzer debacle. I know I spent the first part of last week calling this sad moron a consciousless douchebag but the more that comes out about this unfortunate situation, the more I pity the poor bastard. There's no way you spend $80 grand on escorts unless you have a serious problem with sex addiction. I don't care how good Kristen the hooker is. A vagina is a vagina is a vagina. I mean, what is the real difference between a $500/hr prostitute and a $2,000/hr prostitute? Would you be able to tell in a blind taste test? And anyway, Ms. Kristen can't be that good, she can't even spell. I went to her myspace page. That said, I think Eliot needs help and I hope he gets it. Poor guy. And his even poorer wife.
So last night I'm sitting comfortably atop a barstool, legs crossed in their usual yogic pretzel-position. And I'm verbally spraying everyone within 5 feet with my supposedly unorthodox views about prostitution (which, it turns out, are not unorthodox at all, the more I talk to people). I think it should be legalized. Duh. This is a service which has been in feverishly high demand since the beginning of time, so obviously making it illegal doesn't make it go away. It's as popular as ever. Anyway, so we get into the whole juciy discussion about how the government can't regulate people's morals, though it always tries, etc.
So, all this stimulating talk aroused some pretty interesting dreaming last night at bedtime:
I'm in my high school talent show. (I should mention that I took a trip to my old high school on Saturday. A big, majestic private Catholic school complete with a nunnery on the top floor. So that brought up some weird shit, i guess.) So I'm in the talent show, and when the time comes for me to go on, I decide that instead of doing the interpretive dance i'd had planned, I am gonna do a provocative striptease. I peel off my clothes and get down to a heinous Fredericks Of Hollywood red and black see-through teddy reminiscent of Tim Curry's sweet transvestite. In the dream I have a totally ugly tattoo on my belly--I'm not sure what, but I am suddenly aware of its ugliness and am sorry that I got it and I look down at myself and it becomes very obvious that what I'm doing is insanely inappropriate and I feel like I've lost all credibility as a good Catholic girl. Well, then I wake up.
I think the time change is seriously fucking me up. Daylight savings is normally in April...late in April, right? So what's happening is my inner clock is all screwy because it's still light at 6 pm, but it's also still really cold. And since it's only mid-March, I'm still in hibernation mode, like an ornery lady bear drawing the blackout shades of her cave and demanding more starchy snacks and another quilt. The late-evening sunshine says spring is here, let's party! But all I wanna do is watch bad TV, eat Veggie Booty, and read novels that may or may not be sucking away my IQ points. It's still goddamned winter!
So, yeah, I've been off kilter this week. I have been walking around with this puzzled/irritated look on my face; lots of frowning and sighing. This week I couldn't wait for Thursday.
I work a 4-day week, which is a glorious schedule for a single mama like me. Actually, three days would be the shit but we can barely butter our bread on 4 so I'm not gonna really complain. Thursday has been my day off for the last several months. I say "day off" with a bit of a cocked eyebrow, since it's kind of a joke; I probably do more shit on Thursdays than I do any other day of the week. I put pressure on myself to cram in every errand, phone call and chore I possibly can so that I can breathe out and actually enjoy my weekend. Am I successful at this? Generally. Today I really was. But goddamn, I am steamrolled.
Here's how it went:
7 AM: I am woken up with a poke poke poke in the cheek and, Mama! I didn't pee in my pull-up!!! Can I have a prize??? I want a waffle! Can I have a piggy back ride? Slink to the kitchen to pour coffee and juice and get watermelon-flavored vitamins. melt into couch with Lil. Consider shooting myself in the face or sticking steak knives in my ears as I listen to the hateful Elmo shriek about firefighters, while I patiently wait for caffeine to filter down into every eager, open and sucking pore in my body.
9 AM: Drop Lily at school, manage to avoid the principal, who is stalking me about this year's yearbook. Opt for a Starbucks. Good call. Am pleased with myself.
10 AM: Clean atrociously filthy home. I like to call this pointless ritual "polishing the turd". There's only so much you can do with the flaking lead paint and scuffed floors and ancient, cracked fixtures of this crumbling pre-war apartment.
12 PM: Still cleaning. Move some furniture. Am startled by very realistic-looking gray toy mouse that was hiding behind Lily's bureau. Find several missing socks whose matches have already gone to sock heaven, so I toss them out as well. Send laundry out. Stealthily hurl at least 10 ugly stuffed animals into a garbage bag which I will sneak out to the trash room before Lily is out of school. I'm sorry, but does a 4 year old really need sixteen teddy bears? No. No, she does not. Write several witty e-mails. Make reservation for birthday dinner. Make sure they have a fully stocked bar at the restaurant (affirmative!)
2 PM: Buy birthday present for a 5 year old boy. This doesn't come naturally to me, so I call my friend Jeremy to ask, "Spider man or Power Ranger?" and end up getting art supplies anyway. Spend ridiculous amount of money at small health food store around the corner because I am too lazy and unmotivated to go to the big grocery store. Oh, so what if I spent seven dollars on kale that will probably wilt in my fridge before I have a chance to eat it? Big woop. Bring home vegan broccoli quiche and eat with gusto. Probably too much gusto because I will be haunted by garlicky vegan quiche burps for the remainder of the day.
3:38 PM Arrive late to pick up Lily, though I've no idea how this happened. Must've gotten caught in that ipod-vacuum while walking over to the school listening to Mika. The ipod vacuum is also how I almost got hit by a cab on 5th Avenue yesterday.
5 PM Attend wildly crowded birthday party for Lily's friend Fernando. Hang out with Heather and Kara, for the first time in weeks. Hold some babies. Fernando's mom Maria has made amazingly delicious gourmet food like artichoke dip and homemade guacamole. There is manchego cheese. And wine. Which I resist drinking because a. my naturopath advised against it, and b. I am so exhausted I know I will get butt wasted and end up cross-eyed and drooling on the couch holding a baby, which just wouldn't sit right with people. Besides, I am saving up all my wine drinking and drooling for my birthday dinner. I have a conversation with a mother who tells me that she'd "just heard today" that Shawn and I had split up. I am simultaneously disgusted and flattered that my separation is the topic of conversations taking place behind my back. Sneak fingerfuls of Costco cake off Lily's plate and gnaw on her pizza crust like a dog with a new chew-toy. Dinner.
7 PM Curl up with Lil, who smells deliciously like strawberry shampoo and baby soap and whose breath is sweet and milky. We lay in her new big girl bed and read "The Giving Tree" while I try not to cry (it always makes me cry). Turn out lights and tell her a story about a lion named Lila who goes on a hunt in the forest to find her courage. Try not to fall asleep b/c I really want to read my book and write an entry for y'all.
That's my day. I am proud of how much I got done. The only thing I didn't get to was cleaning the monstrously nasty gerbil cage because I am ashamed to admit I might secretly wish they'd keel over from living in their own excrement. Naw, I'm just kidding. Really. I am. Totally just kidding.
Was Barbie always this trampy? I seem to remember my barbies having careers and western outfits and a left hands with tiny holes in to slip a plastic microphone into because they were total disco superstars. My barbies had jordache jeans and pink fuzzy sweaters. Not dominatrix shoes and see through nighties. What the fuck?
Things just seemed a little sweeter and innocent and Loves Baby Soft-scented back when I played with these little plastic girls. Like...
Angel Face Barbie. She had a respectable Victorian thing going on. No way she was even showing an ankle.
Working Girl. An inspiration to young ladies everywhere. I played with this barbie and fed my fantasies of moving to the city and having a big career as an administrative assistant.
The most seductive thing Western Barbie did was wink at you with one big oversized eye when you pressed a button on her back.
I don't know which one this is, but she's got a fancy cape on and her long braid is reminiscent of a jehovahs witness girl I used to know in elementary school.
And what barbie wouldn't want to go to the prom with this handsome devil? Just look at that moustache! Every guy in my local high school looked like him. So dreamy.
But Barbie and co. are different now. Dare I say, tainted, somehow? These are the barbies of today that Lily gets to play with:
Life looks really ugly and distorted when viewed through the miserable, vomitous veil of 4 hours sleep. Oh, dear holy god. I'm sorry for having offended thee. Whatever I said about, you know, not believing you and stuff in the past, well, you know I was just kidding. For real, I totally believe in you. And your power. And wretched vengefulness.
Lily caught this terrible bug that's going around. You know, the one where you don't get any symptoms except an alarmingly high fever (causing her hands to heat up like charcoal briquettes and her little feet to get clammy and cold...?). Oh, and the other symptom is the need to mercilessly abuse one's mom all night long like she's an indentured servant who needs to get whipped in the face when she brings you water that's not cool enough. Yeah. It was like that. All night. For two nights straight. I mean, she didn't actually whip me in the face or anything, but after the third or fourth time she woke up I started to feel like that horse in the scene in "Gone With The Wind" that's been beaten with the crop too many times and its mouth is all foamy and it just drops dead in the red dirt. Because death is a welcome respite from the torture of enduring another second of trying to live.
So it's 12:30 and I HAVE NO ONE TO TALK TO and I'm putting off going to sleep, cause what's the point, really? Lily will just wake up in an hour and thrust her horrible little feet in my face and demand something ridiculous, like that I cut her pajama bottoms into shorts because she's too hot. Normally, as most of you know, Lily is a very pleasant and lovely little girl. But this illness has turned her into satan's mistress in the wee hours of night. She doesn't fully wake up and is mad with fever and totally irrational. Twice last night she demanded that I listen while she told me a bedtime story (at 3 am) about two princesses named Rubella and Chaka that went on forever. I just started to cry involuntarily.
The smart, healthy thing to do would be to go to bed anyway, grab whatever sleep I can before Freddy Krueger comes slashing through my half-dreams demanding crackers and more children's Motrin. Oh, good night then.
Oh, I'm feeling unsettled, my friends. Unsettled indeed.
I picked up the Metro on my way to the train this morning, and I saw this article about how in the 60s the Hells Angels used to do security for all the Rolling Stones shows, but one of them got killed accidentally at a concert when everyone stormed the stage trying to get a piece of Mick's skinny little ass, and the Angels decided to retaliate big time. So in 1969, lil Mick narrowly escaped meeting a grisly death at the hands of these rabid road warriors, when their plot was foiled (by Keith Richards?)... Me oh my.
Well, this new and astounding piece of news made me start to think, you know, anyone can put a hit out on anyone else at any given time. I don't know why this never occurred to me before! I mean, given the sanguinary trail of mutilated hearts I've left littering the sidewalks of New York in my (relatively short, but passion-filled) lifetime, it's hard to imagine how I've thus far avoided meeting a terrible death, exacted by one of my avenging exes. I do believe that my recompense is nigh.
I can think of at least ten men off the top of my head who are probably plotting my demise right now as I write this. And there are probably 25 more whose names I can't even remember. And it sends a chill down my spine.
So, I've made a decision.
I'm going to get myself a bodyguard.
I can't afford a big frightful paparazzi-puncher like Britney has, but I think it's high time I find myself someone who can keep an eye out for me, ya know? I need someone whose sole purpose in life is to dedicate himself to watching my ass.