Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Returns have to be more satisfying than actually getting gifts on Christmas morning. The thrill of the chase is gone and now, you can have lots and lots of money back on your credit card and no random sweaters you hate that sit in your closet for three years mocking you every time you look for something to wear on a chilly morning. The sweater doesn't fit correctly, the color is not flattering and a button is missing. But somehow in the melee of Christmas morning you lost the gift receipt and are now stuck with a frumpy woolen tea cozy the size of a bath towel.
No, this year, we did not screw around. We saved receipts, purchased thoughtfully, frugally and specifically and anything that wasn't an absolute hit went back. I even exchanged a sweatshirt I bought for Dave for a sweatshirt for myself. Illegal in the gift returning handbook but I am tired of wearing thrift store athletic wear that I purchased in the early 90's, finding them ironic and unconventional. Call me crazy but now I want a hooded sweat shirt that still has the draw string, without torn pockets or a college logo that screams, "PAC 10 school, isn't that hilarious?"
Dave and I even went as far as to divide and conquer the duties today, insuring that everything be returned with ample time and value in mind. While he battled the mall rats at H & M in the Beverly Center, a Los Angeles mall that Tori Spelling has been quoted as saying is her absolute favorite, I took Otto for an EKG across the street, thinking that Dave had it easier. Just to go back a bit, after our first appointment with Otto's new pediatrician, she couldn't understand why our last pediatrician, the asshole who dropped the A bomb on us and throttled me emotionally for months, would not have a baby with a heart murmur get a baseline E.K.G. just to be sure everything was alright. Not only was he a dick wad but an incompetent one as well? Great!
So, as Dave returned a collection of uber-trendy yet ill fitting togs for cold, hard cash, I crossed my fingers and wheeled Otto into Cedar's hoping to get out quickly with great results and no tantrums, food throwing or massive diaper explosions. Within ten minutes we were being seen by a cardiology technician who had magical powers with electrodes and small children. In her thick Russian accent and rubber gloves she cooed and purred as Otto lay shirtless on a exam table. She clipped on all the wires making him look like a tiny William Hurt from Altered States and he didn't even flinch. He just lay there as she complimented his eyes and he ate up the flirting like an old movie star.
As soon as she was finished, he helped her rip off the sticky electrodes as if he were a male nurse in training with no objections or tears. Just wait until your chest hair grows in like your Wookie of a father, brave little man and then we'll see who is the silent and strong type. I couldn't believe my eyes and my swollen motherly pride was palpable. I asked again and again if all kids were this cool when being prodded and stuck with tiny little metal monitors and she insisted this was not the typical toddler reaction. Honestly, it was one of my proudest moments as a parent of a child who loves to holler and laugh on airplanes for five hours straight and refuses to sleep in a car no matter how long the trip is.
Now, those results will be available this afternoon as we go in for Otto's 21 month appointment to evaluate his heart, his speech development and his overall well being. I wonder if they'll have the note in his chart that says he loves the rough stuff and has a heart of gold.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
My posts have been few and far between this holiday season as I sleep off the last two years of tired and shuffle around the house in old sweatpants and no make up. When I finally left the house a few nights ago to walk Brody, a neighbor asked me why I looked so tired. It was dark and cold and he could still see just how shitty I appeared. The one nap I had gotten in that day made my face look like a wrinkled sheet and the circles under my eyes had circles under their eyes. I didn't care that my hair was dirty and askew, held back by a stretched out rubber band. I felt refreshed even though my appearance would suggest otherwise. Fuck that guy, anyway. Maybe he needs contacts.
Besides barely holding onto any dignity whatsoever, I have been watching a slew of movies that I would otherwise never have the time to see in the theatre. Being in an entertainment union has a few great benefits. Terrific health insurance and access to A+ health cafe, even though paying your dues is as painful and expensive as having anal polyps removed from your buttercup. I think they sent us all these films just to relieve the agony that will come in January when the new billing begins. I love that I can watch something in my house and then walk to the mall and not pay $14 for the same film knowing if I was in the theatre some asshole behind me would text message three different booty calls who think they are his one and only while laughing at every bad joke and yelling at the screen.
Here are my mini reviews in case anyone actually cares...
Benjamin Button is a waste of time and resources and Cate Blanchett is terrible for once in her storied career
Gran Torino is just plain silly, even though some select moments of Clint are so bad ass as to almost forgive the huge holes in the script
The Reader is uncomfortable and implausible and honestly, annoying. Kate Winslett slapped on a unibrow and called herself German.
Reservation Road -Awesome and Kate Winslet is not wearing stunt eyebrows.
The Changeling - will not see it. I will cry too much and Angelina is just too damn pretty to spend my ugly vacation with.
Burn After Reading - Ba,ba bad
Tropic Thunder - Best comedy of the year, hilarious and inappropriate
Doubt - Really good but not what I thought. Any good Catholic will love the tortured themes
Synecdoche, New York - Phillip Seymour Hoffman is one crazy chunk - great film, makes you question your entire existence.
The Wrestler - Mickey Rourke is great but the film was a letdown.
Vicky Christina Barcelona - terrific, sexy and funnnnnnny! Oh Javier!
Now, I am off to take off my old, high school bathrobe and change into something clean and presentable. We're having visitors.
My aunt called to notify me that they were ready to place the baskets and she wanted Max to come along. Max loves graveyards. He thinks that they are one of the coolest playgrounds around. We happen to live near a large famous one that he is particularly fond of, The Mount Auburn Cemetery. He loves the old family mausoleums that pepper the lot. He runs up to the doors and tries to peer into the ancient cracks to see what is inside. As you drive through the cemetery he will strain to see out the window and excitedly point out the intricate statues and memorials.
He took it on this year with a new fervor. Jamie and I were getting ready to leave the house and waiting in the front hall. Max walked out of his bedroom. He was dressed in regular clothes but with a few extra glaringly obvious accessories. He had an enormous light saber stuck through his belt loop, he was wearing his Indian Jones fedora, and in his hand dangled a large rubber skull. The skull was a Christmas gift from my father. It has a trigger button on it that makes it's eyes glow white and it shakes and moans loudly for two minutes. Grandpa Ed consistently nails it when it comes to gifts for Max. Max also had something bulging out of his pocket. I asked what it was and he gingerly pulled out a large chunk of fossilized dinosaur poop. Another gift from Grandpa Ed. He pulled on his coat and his rubber army fatigue rain boots and stood at the door ready to go. He looked absolutely insane. As we drove over to my Grandmothers I tried to figure out the best way to diffuse this. I did not mind most of the outfit. But the skull was unnerving. It was really loud and seemed enormously inappropriate for a somber day of remembrance at the family grave. Especially given the fact that my 97 year old Grandmother would be in attendance. I just was not sure she'd get the joke. I tried to talk Max out of the skull but he protested loudly.
"But Momma, skulls are supposed to go to cemeteries!" he whined
I was the weird one. How could I possibly think for a moment that this was an inappropriate prop for the journey? Skulls do go with cemeteries. He kept hitting the trigger button so it's canned wails filled the backseat of my car. All I could think about is that Gagee was going to be absolutely terrified of this thing. At 97 and teetering on the brink of Alzheimer's, I was not sure how she was going to digest all of this. 85% of the time she thinks that my grandfather is still alive and living in the house with her. So now the were taking a day trip to the place that reminds her that he is indeed gone, and my son was providing the eerie backdrop music.
We got to her house and Max ran in. My aunt regarded his outfit with a raised eyebrow. She began to open her mouth and I stopped her mid-comment. I told her to do whatever she wanted and if she needed to insist he leave something behind then it was her call. He ran into Gagee's bedroom with the skull. I hovered outside the door listening to their conversation. She told him how much she loved his hat. She indicated how impressed she was with the light saber as he brandished it about her room knocking amber colored pill bottles off of her table. He hit the button on the skull and it's wails took over the room, the head shaking wildly and the eyes blinking in unison. I heard her say to him:
"Well Max, I am not sure which thing Papa will love more when we visit him today. The skull or the dinosaur poo? We will find out when we get there."
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
The Sonicare ad with the old man that has many rings and a jaunty cap creeps me out. When he lifts that fork to his teeth to bend it back into shape I scream inwardly.
Go watch the video I posted on my Facebook page. It's hilarious.
I received three ridiculous holidays cards. People are weird and the holidays are an excellent time to showcase how strange they really are.
I am still reeling over the fact that a random stranger thought Dotty was pregnant and then had the stones to call her out on it. This is a woman who still maintains the exact same body she had in high school over 20 years ago. Her bum is tight and wicked.
I remembered everything for cooking for the next two days except the Vermouth for my Bearnaise sauce. Damn it.
I wrap gifts for people that are annoying me using crappy wrapping paper. It's a secret message that I doubt anyone really picks up on. However, it makes me feel good.
I have to work for a few short hours today. I have never worked retail on Christmas Eve. I look forward to it and seeing the sheer panic on people's faces. I will manipulate them with my sales prowess.
I cannot believe that Ann Curry is 50. Bitch.
My menu for Christmas Day is awesome.
I have not been able to work out in days and I feel like a frigging sow.
Chinese Food. I have been craving it for weeks. I will live vicariously through you.
No gifts this year for Jamie and I. We bought a nice bottle of champagne and are planning to simply enjoy the day. Cheers!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
All the wrapping is done and we have over purchased for a 21 month old. Does that make me a bad mother or a good mother or a hypocritical a-hole?
Spaghetti and meatballs or Chinese food on the 25th?
Did I get Dave enough cool shit guys dig?
What is that smell?
Monday, December 22, 2008
Cause: Deciding to celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah, demanding Ottoman, end of a long year exhaustion, forgetting to shower, Dave’s newly injured back
Solution: Napping in the fetal position after putting Ottoman down for nap, followed by watching the local news, guessing the plastic surgery procedures done on the anchors and wrapping 26 gifts
Resolution: No longer suicidal and happy about gorgeous artificial tree surrounded by gifts after minor breakdown
After Thought: Next year rent a cabin in the woods and hole up with Dave, Otto, Brody and lots of booze, chocolate and spaghetti and meatballs
Friday, December 19, 2008
1. Get better bread. Perhaps a crostini, or something with more of a crouton consistency.
2. Put the bread slice in front of you and roll it upwards. I don't like doing it the wide way, or whatever they call it. Plus, two pieces? Yes, if you an Ogre and have fists the size of babies heads. It's messier the way I did it, but gives you four bite size pieces per slice.
3. I used two different soup flavors. One was cream of mushroom. The original recipe suggested Cream of Chicken, but I refuse to eat meat in any sort of processed food product. I also chose cheddar cheese soup, It made me feel safe. Cheddar won the taste test.
4. I turned down the heat and cooked it longer. 300 or so degrees and checked it every 10 minutes or so.
5. These are rich. Very heavy. Plan on two per person. If anyone eats more than say....three then they love bacon way way more than you love bacon. Fear them.
6. They were easy to make and I now have three bags of appetizers in my fridge. One for Christmas Eve, one for Christmas Day, and one if Charlize Theron drops by.
7. I probably wouldn't make them again. However, I do encourage you to do so and to use crostini. Let me know about it.
I made these and I also made a batch of Starbuck's Cranberry Bliss Bars. Those came out excellent as always. Then I cleaned the kitchen and we headed out to plow the driveway. We figured out with all the snow predicted we can make our job easier in the morning. I had even gone this week to buy Jamie a new Nanook of the North hat. The snow blower died after two swipes on the driveway. I thought I would crumple into a fetal position right there in the beautiful white snow and have a complete mental breakdown. I had such grand plans for tonight. The cooking was done, but I wanted to chip away at the mountain of gifts that need to be wrapped, perhaps put some clothes away, go through some long neglected paperwork. I had declined a holiday party tonight to eliminate some of the chaos and give myself some me time. A vicious snow storm gave me more reason to stay put. Now I was cleaning up that bitch's mess and hating the monolith that takes up an enormous chunk of our garage. Why the giant F you from Craftsman? Why tonight? We broke out our two shovels and began the project that would occupy the next hour and 1/2 of our evening. You don't know repetition until you have shoveled snow.
Now tomorrow morning we have the joy of finding a repair shop that can fix the blower prior to Sunday's predicted storm. I think I will go inhale another Starbuck's bar to celebrate.
1 loaf of white bread (cut off crust)
1 can of cream of something soup. Whatever flavor you think goes best with fatty pork strips laden with nitrates and Wonder bread.
1 lb of Bacon (Cut in 1/2)
Grated parmesean cheese
1. Open soup can.
2. Look at cold soup in it's congealed form.
4 Open bread and remember that your mother refused to purchase Wonder bread and understand why. Vow to use Scali next time around. Curse husband for bad bread choice when he was doing errands.
5. Spread 1 tablespoon of soup on slice of bread.
6. Neurotically wash any soup remnants off of your hands.
7. Sprinkle grated cheese over soup.
8. Gag again.
9. Throw away remaining soup. You don't want to eat that shit on it's own. Save can for bacon grease.
10. Roll up bread width way.
11. Slice roll- about two rolls per slice.
12. Open toothpicks.
13. Think of Dustin Hoffman.
14. Wrap each piece with bacon and secure with toothpick.
15. Put on a cookie rack ontop of a cookie sheet. You don't want them stewing in grease. Or do you?
16. Bake at 375 until crisp. Check often. Bacon goes from perfectly crispy to black in a nano-second.
These freeze really well. Mock the ingredients, but know that people shovel them into their mouths at a rapid pace. Cheap and easy for the holidays. Hooray for pork products!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
So, there I was unloading the cart and watching my precious child still covered in his breakfast of pancakes, eggs and beans eat Gold Fish crackers like they were his first meal in months. You would think I could wipe off his face but really, who has the time for such minute details in hygiene and appearance? A woman appeared behind us happy to be in a short line and ready to make friends. She began cooing and complimenting Otto on his looks and his lovely demeanor. Little did she know that just minutes earlier he had been on my last nerve throwing a ball out of the cart every few seconds and demanding I retrieve it like a sad, needy hunting dog. I turned around to face her after putting the last of my crap collection on the conveyor belt and this is what transpired, complete with thick, purring accent of unknown origin.
WOMAN: “Your son is beauuuuutiful.”
ME” “Thank you. He’s a great kid (sometimes…).”
WOMAN: “Oh, I see you are prrregnant with another.”
I look down at my belly and notice a small bump of insignificant size under my white undershirt and cover it in horror.
ME: No, no I’m not pregnant!! You think I look pregnant? Really?
WOMAN: Oh, sorrrry. Well, yesss, you do have little tummy there. Yes, you look prrregnant, yesssss.
ME: I can’t believe you said that. Really?
Inappropriate, jewel encrusted fatty with high waisted slacks and pancake make-up covering her acne prone face caresses her large belly.
WOMAN: You know that is what happens after C-section. Too hard to lose the weight here. It’s okay.
ME: --------------- (speechless for the first time in eons)
WOMAN: You need have nother child. They take care of each other.
ME: Everyone says that but I don’t see him (pointing to Otto who is blissfully ignoring the horror show) getting up at 2 a.m. to feed the baby.
WOMAN: (blank stare – clearly sarcasm and humor is lost on Imelda Marcos, here).
ME: Happy Holidays and if I find out I am pregnant it is all your fault.
I wheel away the cart disgusted in myself and ready to binge and purge. Little does this gargantuan blood diamond wearing, over processed skull cap sporting house frau know that I, barely working actress mother, has been constipated for three days and that that just might be the reason for the small bump on my otherwise average and aging body. When I book a job I get so excited that I cannot poop. I am going to be very honest here, folks and this is how it goes.
You get the call that they hired you and boom, no poo poo. Then you go to the fitting and squeeze into clothes you would never be caught dead in but are still so excited and again, you cannot go doody. Then the big day arrives, you inevitably have a very long drive to the set and you are harried and nervous getting prepared and no number two happens. You finally get to set in a torrential down pour, barely surviving the freeway conditions on the Grapevine, America’s most treacherous highway as massive big rigs weave all over the road and almost take you and your stool sample out for good.
You check in with the first A.D. who shows you your trailer that you will be sharing with two other actresses, one who is sleep deprived from having a small child and forgot to wear a coat and is close to hypothermia and the other who is so narcissistic and conceited that she really thinks you care about her douche bag ex-husband, her three bedroom, $1600 a month New York apartment that she just gave up or the house she owns in Los Angeles. She rattles on for what feels like hours about how much she works and how people think she’s cute while you try and memorize your lines with a huge dooky in your bum.
The toilet next door is in a honey wagon (large movie trailer) that everyone uses and has an unwritten rule that no fecal matter shall be deposited there under any circumstances all day. It is pouring rain, you are hungry and nervous and when you break for lunch you make the moronic decision to eat the Mexican Pot Roast AND spicy taquitos for lunch. Eight hours pass as you go over your lines a thousand times and finally at 7:30 p.m. you make nice in front of the camera and an exhausted crew of seventy-five staring at you, all the while trying not to have a B.M. in your tight, out of style Seven jeans.
You drive home triumphant and wired and take a half a Xanax to help you sleep, knowing full well it will constipate your bowels even more but sleep is more important than a poopsicle. The next morning you rush out of the house to get out of the way of the patronizing woman who cleans your toilet, the one that hasn’t been used in days and days. You have a large breakfast out as Otto makes a mess and cracks you up. You then go to ToysRUs and Target with crazy crowds to finish all your shopping for your dual religious celebrations, trying your best to save money while wanting your small child to experience his combined heritages of 8 days of garbage followed by one morning of bullshit. Then Molly McButter tells you that you look pregnant and all you really need is a shot gun and an enema. Ho ho ho!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
In a fit of rage and frustration, I cleaned out my tiny, horrible closet a few days ago and made a list of the things I needed to get it all organized so I can see my pathetic clothes and scuffed shoe collection. Otto and I hopped in the car today and went of to Target for the fourth time this month and bought clear plastic bins in all different sizes. I even purchased huge bins for the garage, small shoe boxes for miscellaneous do-dad’s, an ornament box and a wrapping paper holder that fits all my gift bags, ribbons and paper. There is no guarantee that it will fit anywhere in this antiquated hovel but I already feel much more in control going into this holiday season. I can now see all my wrapping gear, neatly stored in a clear, coffin like box instead of overflowing out of an old Abercrombie and Fitch bag from 2001.
I will now attempt to tackle our shoe closet/office supply stash that doubles as a weigh station for boots and jacket from the early nineties and blankets we only need two months out of the year. If you open this closet right now you would see three files folders with tax information, a sewing kit, a neglected sewing machine and a Laura Ashley duvet cover from my freshman year of college, not to mention rows and rows of ratty shirts, sweatshirts and odd jackets that somehow still make their way onto our bodies more often than not.
I used to be addicted to home improvement shows and would fantasize about changing my life with a coat of paint and a label maker. The perky host would run around with goggles, a putrid hair cut and a murder inducing cackle and I could see my life changing before my eyes. “I just need two hours and a glue gun and the shit is really gonna happen for me”, I would say to myself, as the alpha male carpenter made a bed out of a wheel barrel and stapled gunned hay to the walls of a strangers split level ranch house in Milwaukee.
That phase ended quickly as I gave up on trying to do anything to an apartment that is literally crumbling around me and giving birth to a time and energy sucking machine name Otto. The dining room has six huge cracks the size of a yard stick and the paint chips off when we sneeze. The wood floors have been raped by termites and the windows are crooked and depressed. Our landlords are horrible and never repair anything but we are rent controlled in a great neighborhood and unlike most of our friends, there is no trust fund or dead relative with a heart of gold and a savings account that had been bequeathed to us.
No, I only have a pile of plastic bins that have created a huge, terrible carbon footprint on this earth with my name on it. I simply plan on replacing that name with labels that reads “cheap shoes”, “stolen office supplies”, “ugly scarves”, “old flip-flops” and “outdated and once trendy baseball hats” and pretend that I do not feel guilty. All except for the wrapping paper box. That was such a great idea and I feel nothing but sheer bliss with that very specific and ridiculous consumer driven purchase.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Misc. baby proofing stuff
2 Melissa and Doug Puzzles
A ten pack of Matchbox flying vehicles (50% off)
Matchbox Big Rig Flat Bed Truck
Marvel Comics wrapping paper
Elmo and Friends BPA free sippy cups
A monkey Snack Trap (greatest invention EVER!)
1 copy of Green Eggs and Ham
I put back:
A Tonka truck set of construction vehicles that looked cheap
Bob Flashcards for early learning and hating your parents for being pushy
The Leap Frog Spell and Turn Wheel (what?)
The Dirt Devil For Junior Baby Vacuum (I am so sorry)
By the looks of the odd selection of items in my cart I began to have a meltdown at the same time Otto did. Dave hit the check out line and I took Otto to the car where he informed me in a high octave of great loudness that I sucked for ripping him away from all his new, molded plastic friends. Then, this family of three did what I swore we would not do until after Otto’s eighteenth birthday. We partook in the McDonald’s Drive thru and force fed our starving child French fries and chicken McNuggets, the devil’s little snack secret. He sat in the back seat as we drove home in the rain, smiling and shoving mystery chicken parts into his pie hole. God, he looked cute covered in grease and deep fried bread crumbs. He reminded me of my first boyfriend who used to eat his school lunch with his hands and then show off for me on the kick ball court covered in spaghetti sauce and dried milk.
After finishing his lunch of Satan, Otto went to bed without a fight, proving without a doubt that fast food is the new opiate of the masses. Dave and I then finished our Christmas shopping on line, a concept relatively new to me. I am now hooked on the interweb purchases that allow me to stay indoors wearing old sweatpants and looking homeless and shaggy. Otto’s big gift will be an adjustable basketball hoop so he can practice his dope moves. They had the one we wanted at ToysRUs but Dave insisted we buy it on line so Otto doesn’t see it before Christmas morning. While Dave was surfing and deciding which kids basketball hoop to buy for Otto and where, exactly, we could fit it in our living room, he saw one with an extra large hoop and nonchalantly said, “That is not the one I want. It’s for girls who can’t shoot.”
I proceeded to run full speed across the living room, tackle him on the sofa, punch his arm repeatedly and remind him that I am a far superior basketball player/ soccer player/air hockey player/pitcher than he is and that is a super sexist statement. If and when we decide to have another child and in the event we do, we will have a 50% chance of having a girl and say we do, I cannot wait until the girl ruins her dad on the court, out dunking, shooting and scoring him like Kareem Vs. an average sized Jewish man.
After all that and a brain that turned into Cream of Wheat and a McDonald’s hang over, Amazon was sold out of the basketball hoop. I now have to go back to ToysRUs with Otto and hope it is still there. Help me.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Here on the west coast The Cohen's had no idea what to get you for your birthday. Otto suggested a hamster or a live brown bear, complete with a cage and a year's supply of salmon. Dave said an XBox and a live stream off Internet porn for a year would be "dope". I thought perhaps you would want an unlimited amount of marshmallows and a new baby in the house but I remembered that your parents have a life now and do not want to give that up for all the tea in Shanghai. The only thing I can give you in time that doesn't require Fed Ex or assembly is a few sage words about your mom.
She has been a great force in my life for twenty three years. She became my friend and made me sane in a high school that I looked at as a prison filled with angry lunch ladies and alcoholic teachers. She made me laugh when I knew my friends were shits and unfunny. She always had a smile and a cheery story to tell about some crazy fucker we knew who just got busted/married/divorced or addicted. She kept her shit together through some really rough times with nothing more than a bawdy joke and a stellar outlook. She fell in love with the love of her life, your dad and never questioned destiny. She's held my hand through some hilariously sad and embarrassing moments in my family with no judgment and no criticism. Without her I would not have had the nerve or the inclination to start writing and get on with my life of mean spirited comments and daily musings.
So Max, my gift to you is a window into the wonderful mom you have who will always be your best friend, your best ally and your best comedy writer, in the event you get a network deal or need her to write your senior thesis for you, as my mother did for me. You are one lucky kid and don't forget it.
My morning began with an eyebrow wax. I then headed to Home Depot. The store I hate with every fiber of my being. I went in with a mission and emerged with two new light fixtures for the store. I felt empowered and decided to celebrate my independence by using the self checkout. I don't think you save all that much time with self-checkout. I think people just enjoy playing cashier. At least that is how it works for me. I even stopped to grab an extension cord for our miniature Christmas trees that line our walkway. Jamie set them up a week or two ago and powered them with a thick enormous orange extension cord. Every time I pull in the driveway I see that cord and it makes me twitch. It is now a soothing beige that blends in ever so nicely with the foundation.
A quick stop at Target and I was on my way home. Cleaned the house and was able to get in a 3 mile walk. Picked the kids up at school. A quick visit from my grandmother for Max's birthday. We shoved some dinner down our throats, sang Happy Birthday at a rapid pace. Max opened gifts and we ate ice cream cake. We tore out of the house to make an event at school. Miraculously, Carter had no basketball for the first time in weeks. She's is either practicing it or playing it. It's like living with Kevin Garnett. I wish she had his money.
Tonight was Christmas Craft Night. The event is sponsored by the seventh grade, and seeing that we are seventh grade parents Jamie and I volunteered to work it. Carter was also working at it as an official member of the Student Council. We are tragically un-hip for her tastes so she ignored our existence for the evening. She did manage to warm-up at the end, but I am sure it was to procure herself a ride home. We were assigned to the gift wrap table. The little kids come into the cafeteria and are able to make crafts that they in-turn can wrap up and give to their parents and family on Christmas. We spent two hours wrapping small gifts that were dripping with paint or glue. Two hours is not a long time in arts and crafts world. Someone forgot about that entire drying process. I have orange and blue paint stuck under my fingernails. My lower back is frozen into a spasm from bending over to wrap wet painted rocks.
We came home and flew into action throwing in some loads of laundry and cleaning up from our dinner. Our Christmas tree has been up since Monday night but we have had no time to decorate it . We decided to put the lights on it tonight and tackle the remainder of the decorations tomorrow. I actually have to wake up the kids early tomorrow to do it, because Mr Garnett has practice at 10 am. It is now 10:12 pm and I am sitting for the first time all day. It feels fucking fantastic. Who will carry me to bed?
Before I put Max to bed I asked him what he thought of his birthday. He told me it was "awesome". When I asked him the best part he said it was the mozzarella sticks. I agree, Max.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I had a physical yesterday at 11 a.m. and was not allowed to eat after 11 p.m. the previous night. I was so petrified that I would starve to death in my sleep that I ate two pieces of toast right before the cut off time and rushed over to the clinic at 9 a.m. to have my blood drawn and not have to wait the extra two hours without food. I then enthusiastically drove to The Bagel Broker and made love to an everything bagel with veggie cream cheese, eating as if I had just been rescued from Survivor Season 3, complete with cream cheese smudges on my face and in my hair.
Dave and I once tried the Master Cleanse, a horrific, restricted caloric experience with a small grocery list of lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. You are supposed to drink nothing but that combo of yummy for 10 days and see a huge change in your energy level and your fecal matter. I lasted 18 hours and most of those consisted of me sleeping and moaning in agony. Twelve hours in, I came downstairs and found Dave sipping his lemonade mix and watching the Food Channel. Glutton. He at least made it to the fifth day, after which he stopped due to horrible leg cramps and uncontrollable anger.
Today, Otto pulled a breakfast hunger strike and by 11 a.m. he was cranky and foul and irrational beyond belief. When I am starving, I begin to shake and then burst into tears, wanting nothing more than to be left alone and force fed a slice of pizza. How many car trips has Dave had to pull over and shove something in my mouth before I faint? I am tons of fun, never!
Well, this apple has not fallen far from the psycho tree. I knew I had to get him in his chair and chewing within minutes but I had very few options ready. I opened up a can of black beans and cut up natural nitrate free hot dogs and heated them up. It was white trash at its best and he didn’t even look at that pile of waste. Then I fed him left over chicken stew. Nope, not even a lick from his usually willing tongue. He only wanted a few handfuls of Dave’s pasta from the night before and a Yo Baby yogurt. Good enough for me. He went to bed after three books and 1 grams of “natural” sugar. Sweet dreams.
I still haven’t had a real lunch. I think I feel a tear welling in my left eye…
Why does corn have to come back the next day and slap you in the face and remind you that it will always survive the digestive tract? He protested with some Golden Globe nominated tears and we returned to eat what I thought was lukewarm cow dung but ended up being decent breakfast fare.
He is now wondering why Daddy is not eating with us and I am trying to explain that Daddy is fasting and sleeping in because he has a physical this morning and can’t eat and doesn’t want to be here while we eat room temperature food and he gets the morning off after taking Otto all day while I had four appointments and ran around with make up on looking like a half normal lady. Daddy also gets to sleep in because he made mommy very happy for being an electric love monkey after cooking a killer dinner and making me watch Step Brothers. Good stuff, Manard!
I have to go. Time to clean up this morning mess. Just for the record though, he rejected both the frittata and the toast. Who can blame him? He is now fucking up an apple like it's a drunk prom date with nothing to lose.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
It was as if the devil himself entered Otto through a portal in his sippy cup and took him over like a terrible fashion choice on a very great actress. When you see Cate Blanchett or Meryl Streep stroll down the red carpet looking like an old discarded sofa bed or a Wooly Mammoth after the slaughter you know it is not really them you are looking at but a vessel that has been taken over by a soldier of Satan. Behind every poorly dressed star is a bitter, coke addicted stylist who once had aspirations of an acting career. Yet, after too many failed relationships with directors and dealers who wanted her to stop her bad acting and start sucking their wieners, she began a life of blow for breakfast, collecting cats and buying great accessories at discount prices.
My child, on the other hand, was possessed by a beast much more deadly, the hysterical split personality tantrum monster. For some reason he was upset that daddy was having a conversation outside with a neighbor instead of handing him a cookie ASAP. Then, after coming into the house and being given the dreaded cookie, he proceeded to scream and holler, wanting to be picked up and put down, left alone and coddled, ignored and lavished with attention all at the same time. He had no idea what he wanted and no way of getting it. Sybil was in the house!
Daddy went upstairs to shower and all hell really broke loose. I sat in my bathrobe with wet, uncombed hair and no underwear on trying to console a small child who hated every ounce of my being. Always make sure you are wearing under garments before heading into battle. It is confidence builder and something I was clearly lacking today. His behavior was such that you would think I had cut off all this fingers with a plastic knife and made him watch as I fed them to the cat, who is a very slow, picky eater who chews with his mouth open. I offered him a ball, some juice, a book and total silence but none of these options seemed to calm him down. How about a broken toy Ferrari, a wind up car with a wheel missing, a small, wooden block made in China with toxic paint and a terrible drawing of a cat, a half deflated balloon with a skull on it, a deck of 47 cards or a half eaten piece of banana walnut bread from October that you just found in your toy chest?
To my surprise, none of these wildly attractive items seemed to quell his hysteria. When his dad came down stairs he began to cry even harder for me and wanted me to pick him up. I bent over to get him and he recoiled in disgust. Nothing says unconditional love like your tiny, yet professionally loud son screaming and running away from you as if you were a dude in a van with a masking tape collection and a pile of old Tiger Beat magazines.
Dave and I both knew he needed a diaper change and some food but neither wanted to go it alone. If I changed his diaper and Dave left, I would be the bad guy and pay for it for hours. Dave, in turn, would get the same treatment if he went solo so we banded together and hoped for the best. I scooped him up and followed Dave upstairs where we both had to hold him down as we removed his urine filled diaper and tried our best to calm the wildebeest. He was so mad and uncooperative that all we could do was stare down in amazement at this Tasmanian devil that we both spawned. He actually came out of my belly and I thought that at least he wasn’t acting this way the day he was born. That could have been really painful and extremely embarrassing and very, very messy.
After successfully getting him changed and into some pajamas, I put him down on the rug and we both just let him scream it out as we silently read our favorite books of his. Dave got lost in Cowboy and Octopus and I perused a collection of Ogden Nash poems to see if he had ever written one about a never ending tantrum and could shed witty light on the subject. No such luck but our interest in something other than him made Otto finally come to his senses. When he realized we were ignoring him completely and enjoying ourselves, he stopped crying and came over to me and collapsed in my lap. I held him for ten minutes until Dave decided it was time for him to finally get going. Otto looked up as soon as Dave got to the door of his room and ran to give him a hug. Otto then pulled away and pointed at the stairs and laughed as if nothing had happened. That little fucker. He went right back to awesome and adorable as if no tear or a glob of snot ever left his body.
He is now sleeping soundly after a big lunch and a lot of inside jokes and knee slapping humor. Those fart sounds are priceless and always bring back the funny around here. Whatever set him off will forever remain a mystery but I can be thankful that the inevitable finally arrived in the safety of my own home. It did, however, not rear its ugly head at Target, at the play ground, on an airplane or God forbid, in a Mommy and Me class where other mommy’s could see how hard core Little Lucifer could be and never invite my angelic child over for a play date again. Hmm, now that’s an idea.
Monday, December 8, 2008
I went to the mall with one purpose today. Carter. All of Carter's glittery dreams, wishes, and Santa surprises are the tasty beef filling in the taco of suburban shopping. My Mother-in-law had given me money to buy Carter and Max a gift, which I really don't like to do. There is that weird moment right after the kids open the gift and thank her, and she flicks her eyes up at me for a nanosecond before replying in her singsongy voice, "I knew you'd love it! Nana loves you!" I still cannot figure out what that glance is saying, but it makes me want to bite her each time she does it. I relented to the task. I choose my battles with my mother-in-law in the same manner I choose them with my kids. This is a woman who will sit with a cup of tea and actually "watch" the Sounds Of The Seasons on the Music Choice channel for a long period of time. She will then jump up and re-wallpaper her entire bathroom, bake three pies, and crash on her couch at 4:30 pm only to re-awaken at 3:30 am to repeat a similar process. You'd buy the gifts too.
So I went to Hollister. I had never been in a Hollister store until a year ago. She had her first dance and she begged me to go into this store to pick out a shirt. The interior of the store reminds me of a line queue at Disney. I feel like after I make my way through the darkened obstacle I should at least get a short thrilling ride on a flume. But nothing more happens than my credit card getting raped and dusted with a smile by some skinny sk8tr boy with really dry hands or a chesty kitten with a tanning booth sheen and a Tiffany charm bracelet. The smell of cologne inside that place is so strong that it actually hurts your nose. It sears into your brain in such a way that it boggles the mind that anyone can work there for extended periods of time without having some sort of impairment later in life. "He was really climbing the ladder at NASA but them they found him naked on all fours in his office licking the carpet. Apparently he was a Hollister employee in early 2005." Watch closely, something is going to be wrong with those kids when they hit middle age. That smell is not right and they are getting a furious dose on a regular basis.
I have not mentioned the loud music, which is equal if not worse. I think I neglect to bring it up because I have pretty horrible hearing as it is so I have never been able to carry a normal conversation in that store. I have walked out of there feeling old and frustrated more times than I'd like to admit. I get sweaty just thinking about asking the sweater-folder about sizing. She is a tiny twee little doll with a skirt on that is the size of the last panty-liner I used. She scuffs away from me in her Uggs talking over her shoulder telling me to follow her. I only know this because she had the decency to use hand motions. I ran after her like an injured Rhino. Hip-checked a display of tank tops that I could have used as cute place mats for Christmas Eve and found myself in an even darker section of the store. Her high-pitched shrieky voice was the only saving grace. I followed it like a beacon.
I left the mall triumphant with a hooded sweatshirt for Carter, from Nana. And a kick ass Hollister tote bag on clearance that was 1/4 of the price of Nana's sweatshirt and oh so much cooler. That one is from me.
The name Otto came to Dave one night after reading about one of Mario Batali’s restaurants in New York. He is a bit of a hero in this house and I loved the named instantly, unlike my OB/GYN who said it sounded like a name of a German foot soldier. That was a hilarious moment caught on tape three minutes before Otto’s birth and I agree it sounds German, at least. We did look up the meaning early on, which was wealth and prosperity in German and the number eight in Italian. Eight is my lucky number and I would love this kid to be rolling in cash. The fact it was a palindrome just hammered the point home and I knew it would be a cinch to spell. Otto would seem far more intelligent before the other children could figure out where all the consonants in their names went on their construction paper.
One name we tossed around early on as a possible middle name was Bonham. I am a huge, lifelong Led Zeppelin fan and I thought it was super cool, as did Dave. Then the family thing took over and we fell in love with Francisco, my father’s middle name and my great grandfather’s name. But Bonham still tugged at me and I kept thinking that Otto could be the next great drummer. What if he started his own band, wore stretch pants and nipple rings and got the hottest ass in town? How could a mother not be proud of that? We settled on Francisco in the end, a decision I am thrilled with for a few reasons. It is part of his heritage, might help him get into a good preschool, it is super cool, it can have tons of nicknames (Frisco, Cisco, Chico, Taco and Burrito) and does not pigeon hole him as a percussionist. The last reason turns out to be the most important, as Otto becomes crazy kid when the drums come out in music class. Today was no exception.
The teacher pulled out the large blue bin of hand held circle drums made to look like lollipops and Otto turned toward me with clenched fists and started yelling. He has done this before and I have written about it but today truly solidified his disdain for percussion instruments and my ability to recognize this fact without taking it personally, like I usually do whenever anyone gets upset about anything. I also realized that Dave and I barely averted a major catastrophe in the name game. I could have named him after an overweight, alcoholic, funny car obsessed rock and roll drummer who died of an overdose and most likely sold his soul to the devil before choking on his own vomit. Sorry Bonzo, the only thing you and Otto have in common is a "Moby Dick". At least that is what we have been told by my obstetrician, the moyle at the bris and his pediatrician.
Shit, I could have named him Plaxico Burress and had a son who accidentally shoots himself in the leg or a Saxby Chambliss, a Republican stripper or a Tampax Goldstein, a feminine hygiene tycoon. But I did not and I am tremendously relieved. Otto Francisco Cohen can be or do anything he wants as far as I am concerned. But, I am pretty sure it will not involve snares, bongos or a Tom Tom. Balls, on the other hand? He loves balls.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
I arrived home from work the other night and sat down at my computer for the first time in ages to rifle through some email and get a general grip on the holiday preparations. I had an email from my favorite card company promising me discounts, free shipping and virtual hugs if I ordered from them this year. Shit. The Christmas photo. I had completely forgotten and as I peered at the date a small sense of panic washed over me. I went to bed with the plans to enact the process the next morning.
I woke up determined and chipper. Dragging living room furniture around, re-arranging Christmas decor. Doing all that I possibly could to convey that Christmas was absolutely freaking wonderful in my household. I wanted people to open the card in awe of my beautiful children and to be able to actually smell the sugar cookies baking in my oven. Twinkling lights, beautiful shades of reds, and deer nibbling on sprigs of holly on my snowy white lawn. I then decided to let the kids know what was in store for their morning. Max smiled happily and accepted the shirt I handed him. He was deep in Lego play but told me that he was more than ready to pose for a family picture. A gleeful five year old beaming at the idea of taking a few pictures. "Okay Mommy!" he said with a grin.
I began my trek upstairs to Carter's room. The darkened hallway and the low thumps of Neo echoing out from under her closed door slowed my steps. My short-lived buzz from Max's enthusiastic response was wafting away quickly. I knocked on the door and heard a muffled grunt of acknowledgement from inside. She was spread out on her bed in her pajamas lazily flipping through her latest crappy magazine. Nick Jonas loves a girl who can bake a chocolate cake and likes cage fighting. Zac Efron prefers a night of sushi after a spinning class. Are you listening to Coldplay on your ipod? Chris Brown is. I put on my best smile and told her it was time to take pictures for the Christmas card. Death rays shot out from her heavily lidded eyes. The protesting began.
- I hate having my picture taken.
- Take it without me.
- I am wearing what I have on.
- Fine, I will change my shirt. But, I am leaving on these pants.
- Not that shirt. I hate that shirt.
- Nope, not that one either.
- I don't want to sit next to Max.
- Can't we take two different photos?
- I will send my own cards out. He can send out his.
- I hate my braces.
- My hair IS combed.
- Yes, just a little bit. It's a light color.
- Frosted Rasberry Parfait.
- You are hurting my feeling because you don't like my eyeshadow.
She stomped off down the hallway and plunked herself down in the chair in a huff. A curtain of hair fell over her left eye and that was the last we saw of that eye for the remainder of the day. Max ran in, jumped up onto my carefully placed chair and threw his arm around Carter.
- GET OFF ME!
20 minutes of sheer hell. There was begging, pleading and tears. This resulted in a dozen pictures that looked like absolute shit. Not one in the bunch was usable. By the time I broke Carter down into cooperation because of a threat to throw her ipod into the garbage disposal, Max was 1/4 of the way into a meltdown. I have reached the point in life where I am either sending out non-photo cards, or I pose the cats in elf costumes. I would garner more compliance from an angry clawed Siamese than I could ever hope to get from a pissy tween with bad hair styling skills.
I did not use my beloved over-priced card company with the delightful colors and whimsical designs. Tri-folded with ribbons, letter pressed card stock, unique and wonderful. They arrive lovingly packed with crinkly tissue paper. Return address embossed on cream colored envelopes. Farewell friend. I have lost the willing participation of one offspring. Angry 12 year olds and photo cards do not make for a good partnership. The time has come for us to part.
Hello Walgreen's. I found a picture from this past summer that was usable. Uploaded it and smacked it on to the first card design I clicked on. My enthusiasm was shot. I hated every card I looked at. Happy Holidays and Season Greetings cards were so painfully bland and filled with PC trepidation. Christmas specific ones had deformed reindeer and computer generated Santa's with attitude and gout. Snowflakes and simplicity with an old photo. Done. Despite it all I will try again next year. A twenty dollar bill and a weeks notice should do the job.
Friday, December 5, 2008
This is Otto’s nap time and every Friday these guys show up with their illegally loud apparatus (city ordinance requires them to be less than 64 decibels and they are at least 1000) and wake Otto up and ruin my Friday. No, there is no T.G.I.F for this haggard, angry mom. I will not be drinking a Long Island iced tea and inhaling an onion blossom with my co-workers at 5 p.m. I will be ranting around the house in old jeans and bedroom slippers cursing the invention of the electric pruning shears. Dave will come home to find me in a puddle of anger that he must mop up upon his arrival after pouring his soul out onto a blank screen and trying to come up with the next best line in the next best movie that will get us out of this apartment and into a house that will undoubtedly have horribly loud gardeners cutting, chopping and blowing just as loudly somewhere else.
It is my fate. Noise follows me wherever I go and I can’t stop it. Car alarms, fire trucks, screaming drunks, neglected mufflers, homeless trannies, angry, fat people humping in cars outside my windows (true story) and most of all, small brown men carrying large hair dryers on their backs instead of picking up a fucking rake and sweeping the leaves like they did before electricity was invented. I am not apologizing for that remark, by the way. My father is a small, brown man and I come from a long line of small brown people who I am sure make a shit load of noise in their native land. But I am here and I hate noise and I have a small child who needs to sleep or I get crazy for Cocoa Puffs.
Our land lords don’t even make an effort with this once attractive and now pathetic, sagging set of breasts I like to call home. Our apartment building has bushes that look like an old lady’s whisker biscuit that has not seen action since the second World War. Cats have made our corner flower bed a neighborhood litter box and every time the gardeners prune the trees and bushes, at least two die. I have a small pomegranate tree next to my dining room window that produces what looks like small, petrified testicles, something a mummified Pharaoh might have had, instead of large, beautiful fruit. The large fichus in the front leans drastically to the left, appearing more like a semi-erect elephant penis than a tree. The roses are best described as the living dead and the lawn struggles to be taken seriously but only ends up looking like spotty and tired moss and smelling of dog urine and failure.
Just once I would love to have an entire afternoon where I didn’t hear one weed whacker, lawn mower or leaf blower screaming somewhere nearby. To have a day where the smell of diesel fuel and exhaust doesn’t permeate my lunch and cause me to close all the windows and weep like a guest on Dr. Phil. And one day, just one tiny day where I turn forty one years old in peace and I do not complain about the noises around me. That, of course, is the true indicator of just how fucking old I have become.
Happy Birthday to me! Now, let’s drink!
"Dude!! What? It's your birthday? Get out! I had no idea. Usually my people are really good about letting me know when any of my fan club officers are celebrating a birthday. We have a package we send out. A few DVD's, and some samples of my new protein drink. I feel awful."
To make it up to you I have enclosed your favorite shot. We have received your 18 letters requesting it. Geez! That's so many stamps, dude! A bit stalkerish in my opinion but my management says it's cool. Hope you have an INSANE birthday. I'll be at the Luxor this weekend if you are in town. It will be wicked if you can make it. Peace.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
This birthday there are no major plans. Just an excuse to be high on something other that hormones, anger and lack of sleep. I am thinking one cocktail and I will be out like Winona Ryder on an international flight. I didn't even know she was still alive. Welcome back, W!
What I really want for my big day? Mommy needs a weekend at a hotel with daddy but the list of reasons why that will not happen is too long. Money, money, money. Besides, I want to hang out with Otto on my day and make it his day too. Cue projectile barf. Changing a shitty diaper is so much better than being taken out to dinner and being given a new jewelry box for my collection of big ass funky rings and cheap bracelets or a new pair of shoes to hide my scary person foot bones.
The other reason to celebrate, sorry, got a bit side tracked here, is that I had a follow up booby exam this morning at 8:20 a.m. That is how I know I have become the old mom lady person. Who the hell schedules anything before 10 a.m.? The new me, that's who. A spindly, excitable woman squished my left one into a buttermilk pancake and then proceeded to tell me why she runs instead of doing yoga. “Yoga”, she insisted, “is not my thing because it’s religious and I can’t support it if it is not Christian. If they didn’t make it religious with that religion they use and it was Christian, I would try it. Besides, running is when I pray.”
Okay, Jerry Falwell, hurry up with the mammalian molding and get me out of this church of creepy. Just tell me I am healthy, give me back my stack of silver dollars and I’ll be on my way.
I was already nervous before The 700 Club came calling. That’s all I would need this week, bunions, a new gray hair, cancer and a birthday welcoming me into middle age. I just had no idea that a religious titty technician would be the bad thing. But hey, I’ll take it over a health issue any day.
Last May, after a annual exam, they found a suspicious lump in the left booby and I had to go back for an immediate follow up. They said that the second test was clear but now I have to get a mammogram every 6 months until they are tired of seeing my hooters. I can say that no one has ever been tired of seeing my hooters except two people. My male model, manorexic college roommate who I might have slept with when I was chunky and lonely and desperate for a boyfriend and Otto. Last Thanksgiving, just as I had accepted breast feeding as part of the remainder of my life, he weaned himself and gave me the Heisman after taking a large nibble and making me bleed and cry. After the initial shock of extreme pain and rejection, I celebrated with a stiff drink and high end nipple cream. It made me feel like Nicole Richie on tour with Good Charlotte, perfect and stupid.
With the boobs ready to go and my ass back to it’s old size, I could swear my body is preparing for pregnancy again. That or it is ready for a three day weekend in sin city with a backless sequined blouse and a drug czar. I’ll either be in bed by ten reading Twilight in my old pajamas or at The Hard Rock Hotel waiting to call an ambulance and spending Otto’s college fund on watered down drinks and Craps.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Yesterday, a huge box arrived on my doorstep from my mother. I knew exactly what it contained and that it was not intended for me but the thrill was still there. With kitchen shears and a murderer’s zeal, I ripped open the box and saw dozens of Brio wooden toys my mother had saved for my kids. They had belonged to my nephew, Tyson and were given to him by his deadbeat dad twenty years before who, instead of starting a college fund or paying any day to day bills for his care, bought him extravagant gifts. They are beautiful, hand painted trains, boats and tracks all in perfect condition with enough whimsy to melt any mother’s heart. As I took out each piece, I remembered my nephew sitting in my parent’s living room happily playing with them not knowing what their real meaning was. To him, they were real train cars, real boats and real people, just as my parents were real parents for adopting him.
Every time another box would arrive I knew the mixed feelings that came with it. As wonderful as these gifts were, the question always remained. Why couldn’t his father see past the immediate and think about his future and college and his relationship with his only child? I suspect it baffled and enraged my parents. The Nintendo, the telescope, the professional art supplies, the framed artwork that sat collecting dust in a room where a kid grew up wondering why his dad was trying to buy him off with expensive crap.
The rush of anger and frustration and my memories of this perfect little boy who only really knew his father through inanimate objects and infrequent, stilted phone calls came over me like a wave and I knew that I couldn’t just open this box and hand these toys to Otto as if they were just more random wooden objects for him to play with. They were so much more than that. They deserved more. I wrapped them back up and hid them in an upstairs closet where they will remain until Christmas morning. After tearing open our stockings and eating blueberry pancakes and bacon, Otto will open up this box, take out each Brio piece one at a time and then make train noises and squeal with joy. And I will sit back with my arm around my husband watching Otto and remembering Tyson, that beautiful little boy, my first baby, who knew nothing but unconditional love and acceptance in a family that cared enough to save the pieces of his complicated childhood and pass them on.