Tonight Lily and I were getting ready to go out for ice cream, because I'd had a shitty day and needed to self medicate with chocolate sprinkles. Lil asked me for the umpeenth time when I was going to have a baby. I told her, well, sweetie, if I ever do have another baby, it's not going to be for a while. Because who would be the daddy of the baby?
And she said, well, it wouldn't be my daddy. Because you are not married to my daddy anymore.
I said, Yes, sweetie. That's right. I'm not.
We almost made it out of the house alive, but then she snagged me with the 64 thousand dollar question. Like a tranquilizer dart filled with Sodium Penthanol, right to the neck. Goddamn it.
Lily (scrunching up nose, deep in thought): Mama, when you married daddy, didn't you make a promise to stay married forever?
Mom: Well, yes, baby. We did.
Lily: So...why didn't you, then?
Mom (sweating profusely suddenly in armpits. Is something burning?): Well, baby...see, here's the thing. Grownups sometimes do silly things.
(Here I pause. Choose words carefully, as not to paint father as unfeeling asshole unnecessarily at expense of innocent child, and just to make myself somehow feel better for a second because I'm resentful that these questions always seem to get chucked at me.)
People sometimes make promises and realize that they can't keep those promises...it doesn't mean they don't still love each other, or that your dad and I don't love you...we just can't be husband and wife anymore. But we'll always be (gulp) your parents. OK?
Well. We made it through the first day of kindergarten, and Mommy only lost her shit once. Twice. Sort of.
This has been such a strange year in the saga of the Rice Family that I guess I just assumed Lily would sail through the first day in her brand new school without even blinking. I forget that though my daughter possesses what might be an unnatural amount of emotional strength for a girl her age, though she's happy, confident and adaptable, it doesn't mean she's an unfeeling robot child who isn't prone to mini-anxiety attacks like Mama. Especially when, at 7 am, we have a wardrobe malfunction. Well, not really. But Lil was nervous about school. She was really nervous. And she masked her anxiety in the way she's been taught to by good ole ME, to try and try and control her environment. Fuck.
So, that adorable polka dot dress Grandma bought at Target, with the specific intention of being worn on the first day of school, just would not do. Instead my dear daughter fished out a ratty old skirt and TUBE TOP (please don't ask my why I have a child's tube top in with Lily's other clothes. Just, don't. I've had a long day), and insisted on wearing that. We ended up compromising, after much crying and naked stomping throughout the apartment (by me), got in a car service, and carried the enormous tower of school supplies to the first day of the rest of Lil's life. Sigh.
It was pretty much smooth sailing from there...her teacher was sweet, and had a cute little nose ring. The classroom was well-appointed with all things fun and colorful for the molding of little minds. When we were lining up to go inside, Lily's little friend Fernando, who has been known to chase "kissy girls" like my sweet child around the playground and tell them they "eat garbage", was on the verge of tears with a bad case of the first day nerves.
Lil put her hand on his shoulder and said, "It's ok, Fernando. I'm nervous too."
Oh, I'm a proud, proud mama.
Lily and her father, who is on his way to work as a crime scene cleaner for the mob
Hiding her pain. Don't let that grin fool you. She's crumbling inside. (not really).
Right before my fucking cell phone toppled out of my handbag. Awesome.
Well Well Well. Hello there. Here I am, blogging from the outer banks of North Carolina, where I am currently plopped down in a beach house with my whole entire extended family. And lots and lots of liquor.
Tonight we managed to pull off a huge family photo on the beach, and logistics be damned, each of us actually got a white tee-shirt on, combed our hair, wrangled our children, and showed up to pose in the tall grasses of the eroding sand dunes before a wild pink sunset over the ocean. It was pretty damned impressive.
I do have a pretty awesome family. We all have different lifestyles and interests but I look forward to meeting up every year with my cousins and their spouses and spending a week cooking, chilling out on the deck in front of the ocean, and laughing hysterically at the things we used to all do to each other when we were kids.
I was reminded of how much I lucked out in the family department yesterday, when camped out next to us was the most freakishly backwoods family I have ever encountered. Did you ever see "The Hills Have Eyes"?
There were what appeared to be three grown sisters, with their assorted booger-smeared children in tow, and an immensely obese grandmaw in a very teeny strapless bikini, who sported several giant tattoos and sucked nonstop on Marlboro Reds.
Our favorite of the three sisters, who we decided was named Cheyenne, was quite pregnant (I'd guess six months, given the way her belly jutted out of her Casper-white, malnourished frame) and chainsmoked like she was going to the chair. She had something tattooed in Arabic on her back, and we, bitchy Northeast elitist snots, were all taking turns guessing what the tattoo might mean. My cousin Brenna thought it probably meant, "Die Towelheads, Die...USA Rules!" My guess was, "Army MILF". Or maybe something simpler, like, "Hottie". Why go to the trouble of putting it in Arabic though?
In any event, they were really interesting to watch. And to make us feel superior. The mothers barked incessantly at the kids to "Get off the gahddamned blanket!" and "get out of my face!", in between feeding them Mr. Pibb and bags of microwave popcorn. One of the mom's, after being asked for something probably totally ridiculous by one of the kids, like, say, a shovel to dig in the sand, took her Virginia Slim out of her mouth to yell in his face, "You don't deserve nothin'!"
It was awesome.
Especially when the worst thing we've had to contend with is Lily and my nephew splashing each other too hard in the pool or fighting over who can use the blue crayon first. Big fucking whoop.
Oh, how Mondays do suck. They suck the hairy, red-hot ass of Satan himself. Mondays are especially cruel and hideous after one has had a most enjoyable weekend. Six AM comes unexpectedly and cruelly in the form of a shrieking cell-phone alarm clock, pouncing upon one's weary, massively-relaxed, post-coital body and hacking away at it with a thousand machetes. Oh, cruel, cruel Monday Bitch. You crotch. You fucking twat.
It especially sucks to be stunned awake on a Monday morning when you've been nightmaring all the livelong eve. All night I had haunting and anxiety-ridden dreams about high school. It was my birthday, see. And all of my friends decided to ignore me. They came into the classroom (where we were dissecting frogs and deciding on prom themes) and nobody would talk to me. I had purchased a large bouquet of mylar balloons for myself and sat at my desk wondering what I'd done wrong. I felt massively alone, but thought, 'fuck those bitches', and I decided to walk through my school, knowing full well that I'd get demerits for skipping class and not being in my uniform (which was, oddly, blue sparkly unitards like they wear in the Ice Capades). I got lost, as I often do in these dreams, and ending up outside, ankle-deep in snow, wearing only rubber flipflops. I slipped and got yelled at by the woman we used to call "The Ghost Nun", because she was too old to teach classes anymore but still lived in the convent on the 4th floor of our school, and would oft be seen in the hallways wearing a flimsy mumu and slippers, 'dusting' things and giving us the stink eye through milky, cateract-covered irises.
I woke up and for a second felt panicked, sad, and terribly alone.
The longer I live in New York, the more frozen and stony my heart becomes. I worry that some day soon it will be as hard as a stale bagel.
After residing in this fair city for the better part of a decade, I think it might be time to grease up the old compassion button. I'm just not sure how, see.
I know that you can't toss a quarter into the lice-ridden hat of every Tom, Dick and Larry begging for change on the street, but I used to be a lot warmer toward the less fortunate. Once I even traveled down to a Knicks game on Metro North with a boyfriend on a brutally cold winter night, carrying two of his mom's cast off comforters, which we gave to homeless people hanging out by the Garden. Just because.
I used to care.
Now, not so much. Not really at all.
I grew up outside the city, on Long Island. Though I lived only 30 miles from Manhattan, it may as well have been another planet to me. The closest thing we had to a homeless person in Northport was the woman who speed-walked up and down Main Street all day with a leg warmer on her head, yelling at the flag pole. You could say I lived a bit of a sheltered life.
So when I saw a homeless person for the first time in NYC, I started crying. I didn't know what else to do.
Every summer, when my grandparents visited from Florida, my family would take a day trip to the city. My sister and I would dork up in matching Polly Flinders flouncery that my mother insisted we wear (to make us look more attractive to potential abductors, maybe). I'd be holding my plastic Minnie Mouse purse, which was stuffed with dimes given to me by my grandmother as prizes for winning at "The Quiet Game" in the car. We'd go to a restaurant in Chinatown where my sister and I would slurp slippery wonton soup and spin the lazy susan around the middle of the table until one of us got yelled at.
I remember the day I was skipping through the city, in a pink frilly dress, holding my mother's hand, when a filthy, grizzled man staggered up to us and asked my mother for a quarter. I was terrified, and promptly burst into tears. I'd never seen anyone act with such boldness, nor had I ever seen anyone butt-wasted and covered with feces in the middle of the afternoon. My mother gently explained that in the city, some people didn't have places to live, and so they lived on the street, in alleyways, on the subways, and asked for help getting food and stuff to drink (gin). I could not wrap my head around this, even in the 1970s, when New York was a cesspool of crime and poverty, and before political correctness stopped us from using the terms 'bum' to describe these people, who seemed to be everywhere.
I also could not understand what the fuck was wrong with the grownups all around me, who were somehow able to turn a blind eye and walk right by someone who so clearly needed a hand.
When I first moved to New York, I gave money to everyone. It was partly out of fear. A large percentage of New York's homeless today are simply mentally ill, though not criminally so, but I didn't know this at the time. I thought people who spat curses at subway maps and reeked like cadavers rolled in gorgonzola cheese were a threat to me. It didn't take me long to realize that most of New York's dangerous wackjobs had been hauled out of the city with one-way bus tickets to Paterson, NJ during the Giuliani reign. But if a guy walked on the train, screaming, "I lost my food stamps! It's all my fault! Please, God, won't anybody HELP me?!" I figured, hey, the woman with her hand in her purse is probably the least likely to get shot if this guy decides to really get angry here. So here, screaming man. Here's a quarter. That's a nice screaming man.
Soon I noticed though, that it's a fucking racket for some of these guys. And then I started to get pissed.
The screaming guy works the N train from Lexington Avenue to 42nd Street during the morning rush hour, and it's always the same old story. His approach, to be coarse, loud, and self-deprecating at a time when people have barely finished their coffee, is a good one. Hearing his voice jolts me out of my morning coma and I consider giving him a quarter just so he'll shut the fuck up.
Then there's the irritating 'homeless' mom who's 'living in a shelter with my kids' and 'is trying to find a job, but just needs a little help right now'. She's been working the #6 train since I moved to NY 8 years ago. Her kids should definitely be old enough to get jobs working at McDonalds by now. I'm just not buying it, lady.
See, this is where my heart gets hard. I don't know what to believe. I feel like the truly needy New Yorkers are eclipsed by the theatrics of these loudmouths who ruin it for the rest of them. So, I don't give to anyone anymore. No wonder Manhattanites have the reputation of being selfish assholes.
You all know I love this shit, because it just enables me to continue my diatribe about my favorite topic, MYSELF, even if no one is listening...
7 things I plan to do before I die
1. Get my ass to Europe 2. Do the Mastercleanse for the full 10 days without wanting to kick someone's ass or consume mass amounts of Tostitos 3. Cry at Lily's graduation/wedding/stage debut on Broadway 4. Buy a house 5. Publish a book 6. Learn to speak another language fluently 7. Sing live karaoke with a full backup band
7 things I can do
1. Be a really good friend 2. Bake bread. And make margaritas. At once. 3. Oral sex 4. Crack wise 5. A backbend 6. Speak up for what I believe in 7. Express emotion freely (very)
7 things I cannot do
1. Jog (why would anyone?) 2. Play Scramble on Facebook (WHAT.THE.FUCK?) 3. Take care of my gerbils 4. Drink like I used to 5. Stop myself from saying stupid things (sometimes) 6. A split, though I've always wanted to 7. Accessorize
7 things that attract me to the opposite sex
1. Sense of humor 2. Empathy 3. Brains 4. Openness 5. A tendency to like taking off his clothes and having sex 6. Great taste in music (read: Likes ABBA) 7. Red hair
7 things I say most often
1. That's so kick ass 2. Oh, suck it 3. Huh? 4. That was really good for me, too 5. Do I have something in my teeth? 6. Can you please take your hand off my ass? 7. I'm sleepy
7 celebrity crushes
1. Joseph Fiennes 2. Kate Winslet 3. John Cusack 4. Peter Krause 5. Steve from Blues Clues I can't think of anyone else, really.
7 people who need to do this
1. Kate 2. Cat 3. Jack 4. Jeremy 5. Kara 6. Chele 7. Momma
This one's just because. Happy Saturday, lovers!!!
Well, I don't know about you guys, but I have this thing I do with ex-boyfriends.
It's called stalking.
Well, not stalking, exactly. But hey, when a 9-year marriage unexpectedly explodes in your face like a pipe bomb, your first instict (actually, second, after getting blindly drunk and throwing up cheap red wine in your bathroom), is to google all your old boyfriends to try and conjure some easy, no-strings-attached, somewhat nostalgic sex.
This was over a year ago, when I did this. And although I did find a few old boyfriends, and at least a couple who were willing to have some sex (one of whom was even in a relationship at the time, ick), I never actually went through with it.
See, in order to reconnect with a lover from my past, I'd have to actually acknowledge that he still exists in real time.
I don't want to do that.
I don't want to accept that he isn't exactly as I left him, say, in 1995, sitting on a Salvation Army couch in a cheap rental house, wearing a faded Giants baseball hat and Jesus and Mary Chain tee shirt, rolling a cigarette and begging me not to leave him.
I would have to allow for the possibility that after I walked out that door, so many years ago, to continue my life, that he actually kept living his too. He actually got over me leaving him. He went on to grad school. He slept with other women. Maybe even married one. Maybe even had a child or two.
Maybe I'm a narcissist. But I prefer to remember these guys as they were: Youthful, wrinkle-free, flat- stomached, patchouli-scented. Without shattered dreams or blackened, cirrhosed livers. Without cancerous moles or stints in rehab.
Truthfully, I don't really want to know what happened next. And if forced to imagine it, I like to picture them ten, fifteen years later, still in exactly the same place. Sitting on the same fugly, fourth-hand wool couch that smelled like Pabst Blue Ribbon. Having perhaps moved to a dingy apartment over someone's garage, but still depressed and lonesome ever since we broke up, surrounded by empty bottles of Jack, porno mags, and crumpled pieces of notebook paper containing unfinished, hand-scrawled poems about a mysterious dark-haired girl.
This, my dear friends, is what keeps me going. Facebook, with it's 'email friend finder' and similarly evil connective devices, keeps trying to punch holes in my transparent, ignorant bliss. But I prefer to stay in my protective, nescient bubble for as long as I can.
So there it is. Say what you will about me. But let me hang on to the tiny morsels of happiness that I've got.
Wow! I was thinking that if Exxon Mobil can make $12,000 a second, surely there's hope for me to somehow squeeze myself over the poverty line. I mean, I'm really inspired by them. It makes me think about my own earning potential, ya know?
Thing is, there's really only one thing I can do, talentwise, that could potentially earn me that kind of cash. Can y'all guess what it is?