Friday, February 25, 2005

Report from the Toddler Trenches, Part One

On behalf of toddlers everywhere, I have taken it upon myself to conduct a variety of experiments in my home laboratory (also known as our apartment) to help us all make sense of the bizarre world that adults meander about in.

Experiment Number One

While she is elbow-deep in soap suds, yell repeatedly at Subject A (more formally known as Mommy) that I need a smoothie. Once smoothie has been produced, yell that I need a straw. Once straw has been produced, drink approximately half of said smoothie. While Subject A is preoccupied with domestic chores that appear completely meaningless to me, open kitchen drawer and pour the remainder of said smoothie into the drawer.

Preliminary Results: high-decibel shrieking from Subject A, followed by removal of near-empty smoothie bottle from my possession, followed by removal of all contents of drawer, followed by thorough sponging-out of drawer and assessment and cleaning or disposal of contents thereof. Much frowning and groaning and "you do NOT do that" issued by Subject A toward my person throughout this process.

Further Results: in the evening of that same day, Subject B (more formally known as Daddy) is removing food from the device known as HOT! STOVE! HOT! and preparing it for storage in the device known as DON'T PLAY IN THE FRIDGE/CLOSE THE DOOR, YOU'RE LETTING ALL THE COLD OUT. He holds up a long shiny stick and asks Subject A, "What's up with the aluminum foil?" Unbeknownst to Subject A, peach smoothie has dried onto several layers of foil. Subject A rolls her eyes (note to self: keep facial gesture in tickler file, for use during pre-teen years and beyond) and explains earlier experiment. Subject B is clearly amused. Success!

Next Post: I will describe in excruciating detail the torturous device of confinement known as the HIGH CHAIR. Reader discretion is advised.

First Post by Viva

Testing to see if this works. Let's see...

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Ode to Sweet Willie's Sweet Cheeks

Sometimes when something weird or funny happens, I'll make a note of it on a slip of paper so I'll remember to blog about it later. I also make notes to myself about books I want to read/buy, things to do, grocery lists, random phone numbers, etc. Recently, I left one of the "blog ideas" pieces of paper lying on the bar separating our kitchen from our dining area. Here is what it says:

1. [in my handwriting] completely insane squirrel
2. [in Sweet Willie's handwriting] My Ass
3. [also in Sweet Willie's handwriting] My Ass (Broken Down, Cheek to Cheek).

Since I know he thinks I won't actually write about his ass, I'm calling his bluff and here we are. Sweet Willie has a nice grabbable behind. It is firm (from yoga, swimming and running), it is round, and it is a lovely dark chocolate color. Like a Silky Dark Chocolate Dove candy bar (mad props to my homeslice Coolia, for hipping me to this tasty confection. The candy bar, not my husband's ass.). Indeed, the Cheeks of Sweet William, on a scale of 1 to 10, rate about a 15. They are quite fantastic.

I'll tell you about the completely insane squirrel some other time.

I'm a crabby old crone. Nice to meet you!

File this under the "you know you're getting old when" category:

I'm at the salon last Saturday, getting my locks hacked off because the only hairstyle I seem to be able to manage these days is a ponytail, and it. is. tired. It's not a hairstyle, really, it's a cop-out. So I got my hair cut quite short, as I've been telling you I might. It's cute. It's kind of sassy. It's low-maintenance (except that now I'll have to get it trimmed more regularly).

But while I was at the salon, blabbing to my stylist, the Fabulous Christine/a (more on that later), she said to me, "I can not believe how old you are. I mean, like when you're telling these stories and you're saying, 'When I was 32' and that was like, before you met your husband, and you've been married, like, what?"

"Three-and-a-half years."

"Yeah, and I mean, you don't look a day over 30."

For the record, I am thirty-six. And a half. And evidently I am at the age where looking 30 is a compliment. Cheezus!

The Fabulous Christine/a is all of 24 years old. I would have pegged her at 27. I'm not being bitchy, I swear. And the reason I call her the Fabulous Christine/a is that everyone (including her) calls her Christina, but her business card says Christine.

At any rate, she is a fabulous hair stylist, so I am not mad at her. Not really.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want to what I think Viva will be saying if we move ahead with plans for a big birthday bash. Everything I have read says that for a child of her age (she will be 2), a party with more than three other kids at it will be too overwhelming. The problem is, if I invite her cousins (ages 6, 3.5, and 2) over, that covers the three kids rule and that means I shouldn't invite anyone else. I'd like to invite friends of ours who we rarely see who have kids around her age and also a few of the kids that we've met at our favorite park. This totals about twenty kids, which is completely ridiculous. I just really wanted to have around 8-10 kids, which is more than is recommended, but less than I feel obligated to invite.

I don't know if our apartment can handle that many kids. And if we have it elsewhere, I need to get my shit in gear, pronto. The standard price for an outside party seems to run about $300-$400. Errgghhh...

Oh, and by the way, Viva is sick now. Nose running like a faucet, and at times crabbier even than she was already due to the damned teeth. But still apt to throw her arms around me at random moments and proclaim her love for me. " I love love LOVE you," she says, and fondly, "MY mommy." Birthday prices be damned! Nothing's too good for my baby!

Whew, kids are rough on you, aren't they?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

An Everything Update

1. Ever since Viva pooped in the tub, she will only take showers. She loves showering so much that she refuses to get out. I have to say, this has made my morning routine easier since I can just plunk her in the shower with me and she is happy as a pig in, well, poop.

2. I just spent a total of 59:03 minutes on the phone with my ISP, and I actually got referred to "Stage 2 Support," which meant that after 44 minutes of dealing with a customer service rep from India (and perhaps in India), I got transferred back to an American. (I am not a xenophobe. I just find it hilarious that the past three times I've talked to Tech Support, I've spoken with three men named "Mike," "Mark," and "Raymond." And they all had what sounded to me like Indian accents.) I felt like I had, hmm, maybe not won the lottery, but kind of like I got the FastPass at Disneyland. And for now, it seems like my DSL is fixed. Praise Jesus and all that sort of thing.

3. After weeks of dealing with UPS and Barnes and Noble, I finally got in touch with someone at Barnes and Noble Retail Customer Support, who tracked my order in two seconds and said, "Oh, how about I just send you a duplicate book?" And it was here two days later! Merry, merry Christmas, Sweet Willie!

4. Today is my sister's birthday, for which I burned her a CD of happy/"let's bury the hatchet" music. When I dropped it off at her house, I talked with my brother-in-law, who told me the only reason my sister was mad at me was that I wasn't in Oceanside for Christmas. All that other stuff was incidental. felt very personal to me. I am trying to be zen and simultaneously Jesus-like (not in the Jesus freak way, but in the essential "love one another" kind of way that was Jesus' key message) and put all the bad vibes behind me, but this conversation brought it all back up. Ugh. You know I would rather stick my head in the sand, right? It's so nice in the sand. I can't see or hear anything. It does make it difficult to proof-read my blog, though...

5. Sweet Willie is doing yoga pretty much every twelve hours. He says something is happening, he can feel it. Can enlightenment be far off? And if it is, can I live with it? Did you ever read that Nick Hornsby book, How to Be Good? I'm just saying, is all.

6. I have done nothing at all about planning a birthday party for my diva, Viva. I mean like nothing. I have, in my defense, been preoccupied with sending her to preschool in a month and a half. Oh, and I fired our babysitter/housecleaner, so I have been scrubbing toilets and doing laundry and such. That is another story.

7. I don't think I've mentioned it here, but Viva is working on eight teeth at once. Four molars, four canines. The upper two molars have broken through, and the lower canines are just about there. I can see them gleaming through her gums. Come out, goddammit! She is driving me mad! The pain must be excruciating.

8. I have not bought any microwave popcorn in...hmm, I think nearly a month. I think I deserve a reward. You know what would be good? Microwave pop--d'oh!

Conversational Tidbit

Explaining to Viva why she can't use my lipstick:

Me: It's not for babies.

Viva (protesting): No babies! Viva!

Me: It's not for little girls, either.

Viva (nodding): Not for little girls. Or small Viva.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Why won't she sleep? Why? WHY??

My dearest child is doing her utmost best to drive me slowly insane through a fiendish plan of concerted sleep (and/or rest) deprivation. It's working.

It's 3 PM and she hasn't had a nap yet. Since she goes to bed at 7-ish, a nap at this point would be fruitless. I am really ticked off. I have left her in her crib, where she is talking to herself, and I am taking some time to myself. I must admit I was feeling really close to doing physical harm to her. I realize I can not control her, but I depend on her nap time as my only alone time -- it's my time to get my head together, figure out if I've bounced checks, write my book, write my blog, sometimes take my first shower of the day, or return phone calls without worrying about getting interrupted. Or, like today, rip CDs to make my sister's birthday present. (More on that later.) Oh, and do laundry, and tidy up the apartment, etc.

Don't get me wrong, I love her. But this no nap thing is killing my buzz in a big way.

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Glass

Is it half-full or half-empty?

Today is my half-birthday, I just realized. The only reason I am aware of this is that my sister's birthday is coming up soon, and when we were kids our families used to give both of us "half-birthday" gifts on each other's birthdays. This was to reduce any hard feelings on the part of the one not having the birthday. Since my sister's birthday is in February and mine is in August, this worked out quite conveniently for our family.

I'll take my gifts in cash, thanks.

(Is just joke. No gifts, please. Just your undying adoration. That's enough.)

That's Ruby Hamwich to You

Miss Hamwich if you're nasty.

Go here to try the hobbit name generator:

What I love most about it is that Viva's name "translates" to Dimple. Her true name, that is. If you use Viva, her name translates to Bramblerose. I kind of like Dimple better. And Sweet William must now and forever answer to "Bungo." HA!

Okay, so maybe I'm kind of behind the times in discovering this (it has apparently been around since 2000), but you know, I think all it proves is that The Lord of the Rings is timeless.

Fly, you fools!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Art of Conversation

A sampling of recent Viva conversations...


Setup: after fighting sleep for over an hour and screaming loudly throughout, Viva finally succumbed and slept through the night, waking up at nearly 8 AM and calling for me to come get her.

Me [picking her up]: Good morning, baby. You slept a long time.

Viva: Yeah, long time. [suddenly remembers, points to the crib:] I was scared!

Me [confused]: You were scared? What are you scared of?

Viva: I was screaming!

Me [realize she is talking about the night before]: Yeah, you were, I was there. It was loud!

Viva: Loud.

Me: What scared you? Are you scared of the dark?

Viva [frowns]: No.

Me: I mean, does it scare you when it's dark?

Viva: Yes...[looks confused, then:] I was screaming!

Me: Yeah, I know. Something scared you?

Viva [nods]: Screaming scares me.

Me [starting to laugh]: Your own screaming scares you?

Viva [laughing too, yells]: YEAH!


Setup: We were supposed to meet our friends, Carolyn and Lucy, at the park at 10:30 this morning. We arrived at the park around 10:20, at which point Viva began to tell me she wanted to go home. She reiterated this point on the swings, on the slide, and in the sandbox. Finally, at around 11:00, I gave in, figuring Lucy must still be napping and we wouldn't be seeing them that day. Later, as I was snuggling Viva before her nap, we had the following exchange:

Viva: I play Lucy. I play Lucy. I play Lucy.

Me: Yeah, you wanted to play with Lucy, but she was sleeping. She was taking a nap when we were at the park. We'll play with her sometime soon.

Viva: Oh. [pause, then confidingly] I like Ca'lyn, too.


Setup: I have just finished taking a shower and I am in the bathroom drying off and getting dressed. Viva is also in the bathroom, picking up Cheerios from the floor where she has dropped them and talking to me. She looks up as I am inserting a tampon.

Viva: You put in your bum-bum?

Me [trying desperately not to laugh]: WHAAAAT??? Nooooo, baby!

At which point, I lose the battle and we both just laugh and laugh, although she has no idea why. Oh my Gawd. It is too much!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Random Thoughts

This may be a very boring entry, but maybe I’m just a boring person. Or just very self-absorbed, as many bloggers are apparently accused of being. Whatever. For those that are still reading, I tip my hat (my pink Lakers baseball cap, that is) to you.

Now, here’s a question: why is it that when you are considering cutting all your hair off, someone inevitably tells you how good your hair looks? I ran into a lovely young woman in the elevator in my building last week, and she had a really cute short and curly natural hair cut. Since my hair is also curly and also natural (i.e. I no longer relax it because chemicals are bad bad BAD for your hair), I was thinking to myself, “Hm, that’s a cute look. Maybe I could do that.” Well, do you know that at that precise moment, she had the nerve to turn and tell me that my hair was beautiful? Can you believe that? I was taken aback.

In other breaking news, I recently finished a delightful book called Summerland, by Michael Chabon. If you are the type who likes stories that combine the real with the fanciful, I recommend it. It’s slightly Harry Potter-esque, but in a good way. I also highly recommend The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize.

In still other news, we have finished painting the living/dining room areas, have re-hung some of our pictures, and have cleaned the carpet. Now we just have to get curtains and our living room will be the bomb!

I may not have mentioned that our self-imposed deadline for finishing these home improvements was Superbowl Sunday, since we were having a small get-together. I guess I didn’t want to jinx us. At any rate, our Superbowl gathering went very well, and our guests made much of our paint job, having had to hear about it in painstaking detail over the past several weeks (much like yourselves). For those of you who are obsessed with food and its consumption, we had teriyaki chicken wing drummettes, wild rice salad, a green salad with red pears and mandarin oranges, sub sandwiches, tortilla chips with two kinds of salsa, and beer. Erp. And a variety of cookies for dessert…double erp.

Hey, speaking of which, I believe there are some cookies left. I’m letting you off the hook. Time for tea…

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Soap Opera Next Door

I almost just typed "next store"...what the hell is that about?

Anyhoo, about my next-door neighbor, who has been screaming on the phone for the last half-hour, making it difficult if not impossible to concentrate on anything:

1. First and foremost, he is from Boston. Translation: he is filled with rage. (Note well, I am also from Boston).
2. To keep his rage under control, he smokes a lot of pot. Like, a lot. Because if he doesn't, he gets "really aggro." And by a lot of pot, I mean "so much that the hallway on our floor pretty much always smells like pot." Nice when Grandma comes to visit.
3. Because he is such a weedhead and fits the stoner stereotype (shoulder-length blond hair, never wears a shirt, wears surfer clothes), we refer to him as "Dude."
4. Dude is married. Second or possibly third marriage -- he has one child from his previous marriage, but also has a stepson and a stepdaughter from someone before that. None of these children live with him, but they occasionally visit.
5. He claims he is thirty-six years old.
6. His wife, a twenty-seven year-old lovely from Japan, has left him more than once because she has caught him cheating on her.
7. He continues to cheat on her, and regularly brings his girlfriend to their apartment while his wife is at work.
8. The girlfriend is married, is a former friend of Dude's wife, and is practically a clone of Dude's wife (i.e., also a young, slim Japanese woman with long dark hair and high heels).
9. The reason Dude can bring the girlfriend over during the day is that he does not have the standard 9-to-5 gig. Since I have known him, he has worked as a stripper, a model, and a "concierge." In this last assignment, he was paid to procure drugs for a wealthy older gay man and then go back to his house to sit around with his shirt off while the man partook of said substances. Oh, and he also at one point was selling supplements. You know, the kinds the bodybuilders take.
10. I am not making any of this up. How could I?

Anyway, for a good portion of this afternoon, Dude has been on the phone with his girlfriend, on speakerphone. He yells at her for a couple of minutes, she hangs up, and then he calls her back. This has gone on for at least forty-five minutes now. He clearly thrives on drama.

I, on the other hand, could use some peace and quiet. My bedroom, where I like to write because all my writing stuff is at hand and I can hide it quickly if Viva wakes up unexpectedly, backs up to Dude's living room. So my writing time has been compromised somewhat today, but I have to give Dude some props because he may show up in one of my stories some day, with details ever so slightly altered. Have I mentioned that he has a dead tooth? Right in the front?

Booh-yah! I wish I had some microwave popcorn right now. It is quite a show. I might just call Mark Burnett and see if he wants to make a reality show out of this. Have I mentioned that the wife is bisexual? Is that titillating enough for prime-time? I have to say yes, yes it is.

I don't feel I am properly conveying just what a character Dude is, so give me one more shot at it: on their holiday card (yes, we're on their Christmas list!), Dude is wearing a crimson suit. With a crimson shirt. With a crimson tie. With a crimson belt. And parts of his suit, like his lapels, are shiny. And Dude's wife is wearing a dark velvet number with her midriff showing. Hot damn! Can you picture it? Because when I first saw this card, it took my breath away. I mean, come on.

The beauty of this too is that Sweet William and Dude, over time, have become friends of a sort. Sweet Willie goes next-door to watch football and such. This is one of those things that no one can prepare you for. Marriage brings all sorts of surprises.

And the fruit of that marriage is now making sounds via the baby monitor, indicating that she is awake and in need of attention. So for now, I must bid you adieu...

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Show of Hands

Okay, an informal poll here as I throw my screwdriver into the corner and stamp up and down cursing in a whisper since my child is asleep:

Has anyone, anywhere in the known universe ever had an easy time assembling anything from IKEA?

I am not trying to put together something complicated like a bookshelf. God forbid. I am just trying to hang a space-saving dishrack on the wall above my kitchen sink so I can free up some counter space. First of all, IKEA does not include the actual screws to fasten it to the wall, much to my dismay upon opening the package a few minutes ago. But beyond that, the screws they include to attach the hooks to the dishrack so it can hang on the wall are too short to keep the damn thing together. I can't remember when I bought this (I know it was well before the painting started on Dec. 31st) and I am quite certain that my receipt is nowhere to be found, so I can't even take it back.

A pox upon IKEA! I have once again wasted valuable nap time doing something fruitless. Burgleflickle!