It's amazing how the brain works. It stores everything that's ever happened to you, but without you realizing it. Like a camera behind your eyes. You're the Big Brother of your life. Nowhere is this more evident than in dreams. Dreams are incredible; somehow the protective wall that keeps us from going insane during consciousness comes down in sleep and we remember everything...the way a 13 year old boy smelled when he leaned so close to whisper something to you. The way it felt when the popular girl reduced you to a pile of ash with a simple glance and a word about the stain on your shirt. The way you were so self-conscious about how your tummy hung over the lip of your too-tight jeans. Dreaming of junior high sucks.
I was at a birthday party with my kid the other day. It was at one of those huge enclosed play-areas that smells like old cheese and armpit and where your kid peels off her socks and screams 'HURRAH!' before skittering off and kicking you to the curb for two hours. You're left to sit huddled on a gym bench with the other moms and you all chat and pretend to have more in common than the fact that your children were all born in the same year. Yay.
Actually, I like Lily's friends' moms. Most of them are really kind and friendly, though I'm still getting used to the southern culture of, oh, what do you call it again? oh yeah, manners. In comparison, my New York mom friends and I were disgustingly candid. We would sit on benches in the public parks of Queens, slurping coffee and bitching about everything from the inefficiency of our vibrators to our partners' bathroom habits.
The women I've met here are a bit more reserved. I don't think it's a bad thing; it's just not something I'm used to. I've had to be a little more careful in sharing all the wigged-out details of my life here. Hell, maybe that's an improvement. Perhaps it's even a sign of my own maturity. Imagine?
Here's an example. One mom, a native of Colombia married to a cajun guy (what?) was talking about how, while visiting family in Colombia this summer, her daughter learned all about sex while hanging out with older children. She started apologizing profusely to the other mothers in case her daughter 'told our kids about how babies were made'.
The other moms seemed genuinely troubled by this. One mom said, 'Weeeellll, I told my daughter that God takes a little bitta Mama and a little bitta Daddy and puts it in Mama's tummy. Then when the baby's ready, the doctor just cuts it out. I had a C-section, so I have a scar and everything.'
She was commended on this while I just clamped my fucking mouth shut. I was the mom who, when asked where babies came from, sat her 2 year old down in front of Dr. Google and looked at pictures of the human anatomy, explaining intercourse in primitive, scientific detail. I didn't pretend that menstrual blood was 'a cut in Mommy's hiney' (as one mother put it), and I nursed Lily until she was old enough to ask for it. I'm not saying I hold the keys to good parenting (obviously, have you met my kid?), I'm just saying that I did things a little differently. I'm happy with the results, but I don't always remember that my methods of parenting might be considered a little bit...against the grain.
Especially considering that at 3, Lily was wedging babydolls up her dress and reenacting birth scenes with her friends (several times I walked into her room to see her on her back with a stuffed dog between her legs, screaming, 'ARRRGHHH!', while her pal Lucas, ever the relegated to role of 'Dad', yelled, 'Push! Push! I can see the head!').
Lily nursed her babies and stuffed animals and carried them in makeshift 'slings' I fashioned out of ripped up sheets. She was like a baby earthmama, and I didn't see anything wrong with it.
I still don't, but I am realizing more and more that there are a variety of ways to raise kids, and my way isn't the only way. Hell, maybe it isn't even the right way, but it seems to have worked so far. If anything, I'm becoming more open-minded living in Louisiana. Maybe even more than I ever was in New York. I think that's kid of kick ass.
I have taken up jogging. Sort of. That's not why I haven't been writing. But I'll pretend that it is.
The thing is, you get so into it once you realize you actually CAN do it...the running, I mean; you do a 5 minute stretch, then 10, then all of a sudden you're RUNNING for TWENTY MINUTES STRAIGHT, which is quite a feat for the girl that always puked during the 600 yard dash in elementary school. I'm not athletic. At all. I mean, I was always picked last for teams and the boys in school actually took pleasure in pegging me in the face with that godawful red dodge ball that made the tinny BWOING sound when it bounced off your head.
So, being able to take up jogging, and actually KEEP jogging has been, for me, an accomplishment.
But I took a couple weeks off...you know, shit happens, you go on vacation, you drink too much red wine and can't fathom making your bobbly legs doing more than carrying you to the coffee maker. And getting back on the horse is hard, my friends. Haaaaard (thatswutshesaid).
The last couple days I've been trying to run again. And since we've had a couple cool days here in Louisiana (like, under 90), breathing has been pleasant and easier (the humidity doesn't make it feel like your lungs are coated in hot, sticky caramel). I've also noticed that the scents in the air have been more pervasive and powerful.
I don't know why the olfactory sense memory thing is so incredibly strong, but tonight I felt like as I did my 30 minute loop around my suburban neighborhood, I re-experienced about 4 or 5 different moments of my life. Like, actually felt like I was there.
I ran past an orange tree, and the blossoms--thick and tangy, saturated the air around me and I was in my grandmother's Florida backyard all of a sudden, locusts ticking as I practiced with my cousins for the play we were going to perform for our parents that night. It was to be "The Wizard of Oz", and my cousin Simeon was directing, and, of course, I was going to be Dorothy. My sister, cast as the tin man, would later cry as we tried to wrap tinfoil around her 5 year old body and attach a funnel to her head. We would make a yellow brick road out of 200 napkins and later, while watching "The Muppet Show", Kermit would sing 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow', and we would take it as some kind of cosmic sign.
Then I passed a rosebush, and the sweet, delicate scent took me back to eighth grade, when I first started wearing Tea Rose perfume (still do). I was the mayor's wife in our production of "Bye Bye Birdie" and the mayor was played by a sad, unfortunate, short kid who would for some reason develop a fixation on me in college and actually stalk me (more on that in another post. He also friended me on facebook. I was like, really? um, no thank you.)
The stench of garbage oozing out of an overflowing can reminded me of summers in New York City, and having to wake up at 3 in the morning to walk my neurotic dog, hoping that I didn't get raped and wondering why the hell I didn't own a can of pepper spray.
What is it about scents and why do they affect us so strongly? The hold a smell has over me is really, really incredible. I love it though. I love that I can smell Estee Lauder's Youth Dew and think of my mother in a linen dress and diamond stud earrings, going out on a date with my dad on a Saturday night and feeling so sad over being left/excited about having a sitter/amazed at how beautiful and feminine my mother was. That to me, is a pretty powerful thing. Don't you agree?
I was driving through the great state of Texas the other day, where everything, they tell me, is bigger. Even the pro-lifers, apparently. I mean, if I'm to go by the multitude of bumper stickers I saw on the I-10. Jeez, man.
Now, I'm happy for you to practice whatever religion churns your butter and helps you be a better person, get through this crazy life of ours, yada yada yada. It's when you splash your beliefs on the back of your car that I get my hackles up. Especially if the information you're proclaiming isn't exactly accurate.
The bumper sticker in question had a large face of an angelic looking little blonde-haired-blue-eyed baby smack in the middle of it (why are they always white babies? I mean, they are, though) and said, "ABORTION STOPS MY BEATING HEART!"
Now. Let's be fair here.
No, it actually doesn't.
No, 6-month-old baby with a couple of brand new teeth and the ability to smile and giggle and suck from a nipple and breathe on your own...no, abortion does not stop your heart.
Now, take a photo of, say, a date-sized fetus, all veiny and pulpy and grey looking and put that on a bumper sticker, and yes, I'll agree. An abortion would, in fact, stop that heart from beating. But it's funny...I've never actually seen a fetus on a bumper sticker.
Have you ever tried Rain organic vodka? Well, it comes in a luuurvely bottle that looks like it was hand made by a glass blower in...wherever it is that glass blowing is popularly practiced. It has a blue glass stopper and it looked so pretty sitting there on the shelf at the liquor store, its crystal clear liquid swirling pristinely, beckoning and taunting: "Come on...I've been distilled seven times. SEVEN! I'm organic, and you know what that means: Health Food. That's right! Vodka is now good for you!"
I just had to have it. Me, the born-again vodka drinker, washed anew after having discovered diet tonic (woot! buh-bye calorie-laden cabernet, 'red to the lips, right to the hips' no more!), I was so excited I almost uncorked that shit in the car home, just to see if it was as magical as its packaging promised.
Well. Two drinks last night, and I wasn't feeling a thing. No floaty-I'm-really-pretty sensation which is my usual result from a couple VTs. So, I had another. And then, yep. One more. Mistake. I went to the bathroom damn if the bed didn't look so cozy and sweet to me...
I woke up at 4 am with a hammering in my skull, and the beginning of what might be the worst hangover I've had in years.
I'm sloooowly, sloooowly getting the hang of domestic life. Like, it's really only taken me 8 months to realize that if I leave the laundry basket (whether its filled with laundry or not) on the floor next to the washing machine, the cats are gonna pee in it. Every time.
And I've got quite the garden growing out back which is yielding numerous sweet cucumbers and a teeny tiny pepper, which didn't taste rancid or anything!
Fetal cucumber. Go ahead, make the dick joke. I know you want to.
Behold: Magic tropic heat makes green things grow good!!
As you can see, greenery grows rampant in the wilds of southern Louisiana, whether you help it along or not. So you'd have to be a complete ass to do what I did in the front yard. Or, you could just be me.
We bought these two giant feaux clay pots to put perennials in and stick in the bald spots in front of the house where we don't have any other shit growing. They were kick ass: plastic but you couldn't even tell! And they had the perfect weathered-bohemian-yet-still-tasteful look of something purchased at Pottery Barn instead of Wal-Mart (shhh. Don't tell though).
So I put some pretty flowers in there and waited for the magic to happen. Except I forgot one thing. To drill a hole in the bottom of each pot. So, every time it rained, which it does just about every goddamned day around 4 pm here, the pots got more and more full of rank, mossy, slime-filled mudwater that had nowhere to go. Soon it started to overflow onto the lawn. And all the flowers turned brown and crispy and promptly croaked. And then came the smell.
Oh, the smell. Like horse manure left to decay in a bog...a smell that actually stings your nose with its foulness. This is what I picture zombies would smell like.
So, I spent this afternoon dumping out fetid, stagnant slop from inside these pots so that we could drill the holes in the bottom we should've drilled at the start.
And I got some fresh dirt and new flowers that got plopped into the pots, even though I could swear I could hear tiny screams coming from their tangled roots: No!!! WE DON'T WANT TO DIE LIKE THIS!!!
So, we'll see. At least I grew some vegetables though. One step closer to my dream of living off the land. Right? Right???
This, um, club I used to belong to told us that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I need to keep telling myself this. Like, repeat it like a mantra when I'm about to bust a cap in someone's ass.
When the teacher plopped Lily into the back seat during carpool this afternoon, she smiled and gestured toward the oversized granny shorts that my kid was now sporting, which I most assuredly had not dressed her in that morning.
"We had a little... issue with the black paint...hope it comes out! Bye!" Slam.
"Uh...wow, honey, how was your day?" I said into the rearview as I pulled out of the parking lot, watching Lily pick at some dried black paint spatters that streaked her legs up and down like she'd been splashed with tar or...what was it they called it in the Grimms fairy tales? Pitch? I think so. Anyway, she looked up and shook her head, annoyed. "Well. I didn't want to wear these GARDENING shorts," (the oversized dorkified bottoms actually had carrots and tomatoes and other vegetables emblazoned on them)"But I got paint on me."
"It's ok, sweetie. I'm sure it's washable paint. So, did you make an awesome picture, or what?"
"No. No, mom. No, Listen, I wasn't painting. No. See, I got this paint on me because APPARENTLY there was black paint on the bench and I sat down on it, and that's how I got all covered in it." She shook her head with disgust.
My boyfriend and I embarked on this new fitness journey a couple weeks ago, called 'Couch to 5K'. (You can google it, but I'm too lazy to post the link...see? This is part of the problem). Since we both love sitting on the couch so much, and we both enjoy an evening cocktail or several, while sitting on said couch, we both noticed that we were starting to develop extra fleshy rings around our midsections and decided to do something about it. Yay, us.
In addition to beginning this descent into the burning hellfires of making our bodies move quickly and often, a process which slowly unfolds over an 8 week period during which you are supposedly going to ease into being able to run an entire 5k without difficulty, I decided to explore the world of raw foods too. I have only had one glass of wine in the last week or so, and have instead been drinking decaf chai tea in the evenings while curling up to The Office and True Blood on the DVR.
I started making zucchini 'spaghetti' and raw pestos and healthful sauces and nut 'cheeses' and stepping up my salad intake big time, in the hopes of jump starting my health. It's been fun experimenting with new recipes and reading about the benefits of going raw, or mostly raw (there are certain things I won't give up, like coffee. And vodka, sometimes).
So Jeremy weighed himself a couple days ago and he's lost a whopping 5 pounds. This after continuing to drink beer and eat whatever he wants for two weeks. I, however, gained a pound. What gives????? Anyone? ANYONE???
So last night at dinner, my kid announced that she no longer believed in Santa Claus. "Well, how do you think all those presents get under the tree, then?" I asked Ms. Smarty Pants. This was met with a look of pity/weariness, which I find comes from my 6 year old more often these days when she's assessing me and my many, many shortcomings and deciding whether or not her mother might actually be, in fact, retarded.
"Um, the MOMS and DADS put them under there."
I remained composed(ish), "Well, I suppose they COULD do that, but it would be kind of hard, wouldn't it?" (Why this would be less plausible than Santa bringing the presents by breaking in through the screen door before visiting 10 zillion other houses in one night, I don't know, but I went for it).
Jeremy thoughtfully bit into his burger and said, "One year, I decided there was no Santa Claus, too. And I didn't get any presents that Christmas." Lily looked alarmed. I had to clamp my mouth shut at this point, because the twisted, dark-mother side of me wanted to one-up that one by telling Lily that kids who don't believe in Santa not only don't get any presents, but that Santa comes and steals the toys they already have, just as punishment, a la David Sedaris' Santaland Diaries (pure comic genius). I didn't, though.
Instead, I drew upon my motherly sensibility (as if I actually had some), and tried to bring the focus back to the whole mystery of the thing. "Well," I said, "I think it's nice to believe in a little magic. The spirit of Santa Claus is certainly wonderful to think about, no?"
Lily, at that point, took 'spirit' to mean, 'dead', and decided that Santa died a long time ago and it's his ghost who brings presents to all the little children.
Time gets away from me when I'm in the library. I get anesthetized by the delicious musty-worn smell of thousands upon thousands of books with their technicolor covers and plastic protective casings. A calm washes over me as I stand in the middle of an aisle, perusing all of the uncharted territory I've yet to discover: all the new adventures, romantic yearnings, sexploits and murders I've yet to dive into and immerse myself in. I liken it to perhaps what herbal tea drinkers experience at the end of a long day, curling up with a steaming mug of sleepytime. Being a maniacal coffee addict, I can't relate. But it must be nice.
Anyway, usually I love my library time. It's one of the only things I get to do by myself (Lily does often come with me, and sometimes even collapses into a beanbag chair with an easy reader, but once the childrens' librarian yelled at me for leaving her alone in the kids' section b/c she was too young to be unattended. Fucking Christ. I could SEE her from where I was standing. And it's not like creepy child molesters hang out in public libraries. Wait...Nevermind), but yesterday I found myself getting ornery as I languished up and down the aisles, noticing that more and more of the shelves were stuffed with books fall into a newly popularized category people call "Chick Lit".
Maybe it actually isn't THAT new. But Chick Lit, as a genre, annoys the hell out of me. Encased in candy-apple red or fuck-me hot pink book jackets, a lot of these literary morsels are nothing but formulaic, uninspired dreck disguised as 'writing for women'. Titles such as "Don't Make Me Choose Between You and My Shoes", " See Jane Date", "Friday Night Cocktails", and a series called "The Shop Til U Drop Collection" irritate me to the core. I don't consider myself to be a scholarly writer by any means, and I'm far from established or successful, but if "White Bikini Panties" can get shelf space at the local library, then by god, why shouldn't the carefully documented journal I kept of my daughter's bowel movements for her first three months of her life?
All right, that's not fair. Not all Chick Lit books are crap. I know this. I'm really just letting off steam. I think it's because I'm feeling like I want to take my writing to the next level somehow. I love to blog, but I want to see my own book on a frickin library shelf some day. Hell, even if it's in the clearance bin at Barnes and Noble, I don't really care, as long as it gets published. Truth is, I'm kinda scared. OK, terrified. There. I said it. Happy?!
I just taught my daughter to ride without training wheels. It was exhilarating and terrifying and also really annoying, especially when she toppled over and angrily flipped her bike (with surprising Superman-like strength), stomping and air-punching like Rocky on after a bad hit at a crack pipe, telling me she was REALLY MAD that she couldn't manage to keep her balance.
However, she kept getting back on. And on. And on. And I kept giving her overly-enthusiastic words of encouragement ("OMG, you're DOING it! LOOK at you! You go girl!!"-- so embarrassing), gripping the back of her little banana seat, ensuring her equilibrium before giving her a gentle push and actually letting go, watching as she pedaled off with those impossibly little-yet-strong, mosquito bite-smattered, sun-browned legs, pumping the pedals and keeping the bike going and going.
I think the hardest part of the whole experience was actually lifting my fingers off the seat and watching, yipes, with half-lidded eyes and Botox-like frozen-bared teeth, as she flew away from me. By herself. Knowing that she could do it on her own made my mama bosom swell with pride, but it was also almost impossible to believe and it actually hurt a teeny bit. This little girl, my kangaroo-pouch buddy, was off riding a bike by HERSELF?
I'm back over here because, well, I get bored and itchy at work sometimes and I wanna write, but I can't access the Sex and the Humidity blog from here because it has the word 'sex' in it and is blocked. I live in the south now.
Although, in fairness, when I worked for a giant investment bank in NYC they blocked things like that too. Probably because the poor, overworked young bankers liked to spank it to porn during the rare breaks they got during their 18 hour days. Whatever.
Anyway, I'm glad they didn't take this blog down. I'll blog at SATH still too, but this one I'll be updating more. I think. I hope. You never can tell. So...follow me. Come and enjoy the ride.