March 27th, 2012 § § permalink
People are giving me grief about not blogging (I’m looking at you, Peter and Keaton), but hey, life’s busy. Anyone who wants to fill in the gaps with a nice guest blog post is welcome. In the meantime, I’m trying to find a little peace and quiet to do things, like, oh, write. But it’s not to happen. I can’t even read a magazine in peace these days. I’ve resorted to hiding in the bathroom. Although the other day I tried that. Being alone. In the bathroom. Peacefully.
What’s that? Oh, the pounding of little footsteps.
From outside the door I hear:
The boy: Mom!
Me: I’m in the bathroom.
The boy: Mom!
Me: I’m in the bathroom!!
The boy stands outside the bathroom door.
The boy: Hey, Mom, I decided I don’t want a flame thrower anymore.
Me: I’m in the bathroom. I don’t care.
The boy: Instead, I want an M16.
Me: LEAVE ME ALONE! I AM IN THE BATHROOM!
The boy: Yeah, I know. I heard you the first five times.
Me: SO WHY ARE YOU STILL TALKING TO ME?
So the next time you harass me about this blog? Bite me. I’m hiding in the bathroom. And you can’t have an M16, either.
March 7th, 2012 § § permalink
When Pie came home from school today, she said, “Mommy! You had a lot of candy today, didn’t you!”
“Huh?” I cleverly responded.
“You had a real lot of candy today! I see a lot of candy wrappers in the garbage! Exactly how much candy did you eat today?”
I ate a f*ckload of candy. What do you expect? I want a freakin’ medal for surviving this week. Oh wait. It’s only Wednesday.
As you know, Adam went to Germany on Sunday. “Oh the travel is so hard! Oh, I’m so tired!” Yeah, bite me buddy.
This was day 1, aka Monday:
Write 1,000 words of work in progress novel
Supervise homework, Hebrew school homework, and the building of Neptune
Run lines and practice songs for Doodles’s play audition
Teach son how to wash face (he has a medicine he uses on his face that needs to be washed off. After breakfast, I said, don’t forget to wash the medicine off your face, plus you have egg yolk on you. On way to school, notice the egg yolk is still on his face. “You didn’t wash!” “Yes, I did!” “But you still have egg yolk on you.” “Well, yeah. It’s not like I use water when I wash my face.” Uh….)
Take child to play audition at 6:30 p.m.
Be wrangled into chairing a committee for play
Argue with son in car on why Eli Manning is superior to Tom Brady; yelling ensues.
Get child back from audition, retrieve daughter from neighbors, in time for hosting a 7:30 meeting for the synagogue at my house
Deep breath, on to day 2:
Volunteer for Books on the Go in first grade
Write 1,200 words of Work in Progress (WIP)
Back up WIP to Dropbox
Volunteer for workboard in first grade
Daughter meltdown in first grade
Mother meltdown in first grade
Mother takes away every extra activity
Mother immediately regrets taking away every extra activity because it messes up carpool and brother’s plans
Mother, in a most unauthoritative way, recants
Bring boy to Hebrew school
Bring girl to ballet
Post office, library, bank
Pick girl up from ballet
Bring boy, girl, and Pinewood derby car to Cub Scout meeting that goes an hour past girl’s bedtime
Deep breath, on to day 3:
Daughter wakes me up at 6 a.m.
Reprimand daughter for washing hands for too short of a time after using the bathroom. “You need to wash for at least 20 seconds,” I tell her. “Wet your hands, soap up, rub, rinse, dry.” The girl informs me, “But there’s no soap in that bathroom.” Excuse me? “There’s been no soap for a few months.” “So you and your brother have been going to the bathroom and not using soap to wash for a few months now?” “Yeah.”
Write school newsletter
Go to mall to buy socks, birthday present, and underwear (for the boy)
Tweak WIP a little
With five minutes till school pick up time, realize that the work in progress I’m currently working on is actually a version from a month ago, as Dropbox somehow synched my computer’s version with the one on Dropbox from February
Pick up daughter
Freak out some more
Take daughter to ice skating
Yell at daughter because I’m freaking out about WIP
Try to find a current version of work in progress
Take son to to string instrument concert rehearsal
Go to store, playground, and freak out
Pick son up from string instrument concert rehearsal
Realize kitchen lights are somehow broken as the circuit keeps flipping and won’t stay on
Feed kids in the dark
Play with computer some more
FIND CURRENT WORK IN PROGRESS!
Feel guilty for yelling; tell kids they can eat extra hamantashen
Take the kids to synagogue for the Megillah reading and Purim party
Load kids up with sugar
Get children, who are normally in bed by 7, home at 9 and to bed
And the sad part? I don’t drink when Adam’s not in town! So I’m here, beat, done, exhausted, and stone cold sober.
Tomorrow night, when Adam is home, I’m holing up in front of reality TV with a big ass bottle of wine. Don’t call. Don’t write. Don’t even think about me. Just leave me and bottle of wine in peace while I find my happy place.
February 6th, 2012 § § permalink
First Dubai Jenny Brown started living it up. Now, it’s worse. Now there’s Genoa Jenny Brown. I would like it known that Genoa Jenny Brown is having infinite more fun than both Dubai Jenny Brown and Boston Jenny Brown. I cite as proof this e-mail that was mistakenly sent to my e-mail account:
Hello to everyone who is coming to see the Van Gogh/ Gaugauin exhibit,
Just a quick reminder that if you would like to meet with the group for an aperitif before the going into the exhibit, here are the details:
Where: Deouce Bar, Piazza Mattiotti (next to Palazzo Ducale)
Time: 11:30 am.
If you can’t make it for the aperitif and would like to meet directly before the exhibit, please meet…
For the people that have to get back to school early to pick up their children, we should give precedence to these people first to take the tour at 1PM. If you’re not pressed for time, than it’s suggested that you take the 1:15PM tour
Okay, let’s point out that these women have children in school. Yet they are meeting for a fancy shmancy art exhibit. And even better, they are going to have an aperitif beforehand at 11:30 a.m. Aperitif? That’s a drink people! An alcoholic drink. At 11:30 in the morning! Um, hello local friends? We think we’re so hardcore, but we have never sat around drinking and going to exhibitions while our children are in school.
Boston Jenny Brown is not feeling happy. Perhaps there’s an opening for a Madrid Jenny Brown or a Paris Jenny Brown. I may need to investigate….
November 17th, 2011 § § permalink
I’m thinking it’s time to rename this blog to the “Bite Me Blog.” Because that’s the sentiment I seem to be expressing the most here.
I’ve been in a mood. Why am I in a mood? It could be so many things. But let’s start with (a partial list of) what it’s not:
It’s not that Adam was out of town the entire week, leaving me alone with two children, who have yet to learn how to get me a cup of coffee and who can smell my desperation, using my un-caffeinated weakness to their advantage…
It’s not that I’ve been looking forward to a whiskey sour all week, and when Adam finally gets home (late) tonight, I can’t even have a whiskey sour…
Because I finally got something new. What did I get new? Monia. Put it together, folks. Got it? And it’s not even the kind of pneumonia that I can lie in bed moaning about. It’s “walking” pneumonia. Which means I can carry on everything I’ve been doing, it’s just I’ll do it while continuing to hack up a lung. And at least if I’m not going to get my whiskey sour, at least I get Robitussin with codeine. And I figure in a couple of days, it won’t even be medicine, just recreation.
It’s not that the medicine I’m taking for the said pneumonia is tricky as all get out. It must be taken with food. But not within three hours of any dairy, calcium in general, or iron. Yet I can’t take it right before I go to bed, because I cannot lie down within an hour of taking the medicine.
It’s not that my IT guy left town (again, that’s Adam), just in time for the electronics in my life to go haywire. I’ve been relying on my DVD New Yorker archive to help me with my 1930s novel, only I upgraded my Mac to Lion, which no longer has whatever program it was that ran my New Yorker archive. I tried to put the program on the one PC in the house, but keep running into some kind of database error. And even though all my other family members subscribe to the New Yorker and therefore should have free access to the online archives, not a single freakin’ one of them can figure out how to get into said archives.
It’s not the my son has decided he needs to type his homework, yet the pdf he’s typing on to won’t print out properly and did I mention my IT guy is in Florida drinking fancy drinks–probably whiskey sours–on an expense account?
No, would you like to know what put me over the edge? Someone e-mailed me and asked me if his company could do a guest post on my blog or buy some ad space. For what, you might ask? Is it for the Algonquin Hotel? Is it for Woodford Reserve Bourbon? Is it perhaps for a writing tool, such as Scrivener?
No. It’s for minivans. Yes, people, minivans. Because apparently that’s how exciting my world is.
Cranky, people. Cranky. You might want to keep your distance until the whiskey sours are allowed back in.
November 14th, 2011 § § permalink
The hubby is out of town. So it’s time to get crazy. Tonight, I pulled out all the stops. After the kiddos were in bed, and I was all alone in the house, I did the one thing I can only do when Adam is out of town. Oh yeah. You know it! I watched a chick flick and ate kale. Yep, your read that right: kale. Oh, I love kale.
WE’RE GETTING WILD HERE, FOLKS! This might be too much for some of you to handle. If you need to look away, I understand. Tomorrow night we may go even bigger. Tomorrow night, I’m thinking… eggplant!
My man goes away and suddenly the house goes veggie. (If you’ve ever wondered what Camp Carnivore is a reaction to, this would be it.) All those yummy foods at which everyone turns up a nose are coming out.
Let’s talk about the chick flick for a minute. First of all, why does NO ONE look both ways before crossing a street! I kept thinking this movie was going to end up with someone dead, because people get out cabs, run off crying from men, come home late drunk and they all plow across streets and no one EVER looks both ways. If those people were my kids, I would have smacked them silly by now and told them they aren’t allowed to leave the house again until they are 32 and know how to properly cross a street.
And second of all, why were all the love choices in this movie total d-bags? Everyone should have ended up single. And what is with that actor who looks exactly like Tom Cruise. It’s distracting and he should do something about it.
What? What’s that you say? I’m merely sitting here typing a blog entry to keep from doing Nanowrimo, for which I am approximately 3,000 words behind? Eh, bite me people. I’m going to have some more kale. Yes, you wish you were me. Get over it.
October 31st, 2011 § § permalink
Call me Scrooge. Or should it be Ghoulge? I hate Halloween.
We belong to a Conservative synagogue, and some members don’t celebrate Halloween. Oh, sure, they’ll pass out candy to those who ring their door bell. But no dressing up, no going out, no decorations, no frights.
Sometimes I wish we were a more religious family. Like at Halloween. Okay, only at Halloween.
I’ve discussed this before. Costumes traumatize me. Figuring them out. All those parts. Getting them to stay on. Having them be weather appropriate. (“But I don’t want to wear a jacket over it!”) For one stupid night. Too much candy. Kids coming to the door. Little kids are okay, but they get to a certain age where they just get pushy. All those grabby hands. Yes, I said. It may not be the popular opinion but I don’t like trick or treaters. I don’t like costumes. I don’t like Halloween. I do not like it in a box; I do not like it with a fox. I do not like Halloween!
Trick or treating wasn’t even that enjoyable for me as a kid. Oh, don’t get me wrong; I loved the candy. But I hated having to go door to door to ask for it. This, perhaps, is why I hate doing solicitations today. Whenever there’s a fundraiser–at the school, the synagogue, wherever–I say, “I will do manual labor. I will write for you. I will make out a check. But I will do no cold calling, no asking for items for auctions, no looking for donations.” This is what trick or treating is. Soliciting for donations.
Having candy in the house is dangerous for me. I’ve taken to buying our Halloween candy on the day of Halloween. But apparently even that is too late for me, given the trail of Heath Bar wrappers leading from the bag to my computer. I’ve tried buying candy I don’t like, but that doesn’t work, as clearly there is no candy I don’t like.
In past years we’ve had the Switch Witch come to our house. The kids get to fill their candy jars with candy to eat as Shabbat Treats throughout the year, and then they leave the rest for the Switch Witch who exchanges the rest for a small toy. You have to arrange for the Switch Witch to come. Not everyone wants her, so she doesn’t go to everyone’s house. She began coming here in 2006, when Doodles was 3 and Pie was 1. This year, I wanted to try something else.
Me: I want to talk to you about something important. I was thinking, maybe this year we could do something different with the Halloween candy. I know of a mitzvah we can do. [A mitzvah is literally “a commandment” but colloquially “a good deed.”]
Me: Well, the Switch Witch generally leaves you a cheap toy, and who knows what she does with her candy. But I was thinking, there are people who actually want this candy. What if instead, I let you each go to Toys R Us and pick out a toy that you actually want, and then we could give your candy to someone who might really appreciate it. Did you know that a 5th grader is collecting some candy to send to Guatemala?
Pie: Why is she sending it to Guatemala?
Me: Uh… Huh. I don’t know. Is there no candy in Guatemala? Yeah, why Guatemala?
Doodles: Duh. Because it’s in Africa and there’s no candy in parts of Africa.
Me: Not quite. Guatemala is in Central America.
Me: Anyway, I was thinking we could give a few pieces to her for Guatemala and then take the rest and send it to a place that sends it to soldiers who are in Afghanistan. The soldiers don’t have access to things like candy and it would be a real mitzvah.
Pie: That’s a great idea!
Doodles: No, it’s not. I want the Switch Witch.
Pie: I want to do a mitzvah!
Doodles: You know, I don’t think Halloween is really the time to be doing mitzvot.
Me: It’s always time to do mitzvot. But if you’d still like the Switch Witch to come, she can come.
Pie: No, I want to do the mitzvah!
Me: Well, she can come just for the boy.
Doodles: How do you do that?
Me: She’s got a hotline parents call. You just tell her where to go and with whom to exchange treats. I can have her just come to you.
Doodles: Oh. All right. I can skip the Switch Witch.
I really didn’t mean to upset him. I feel like the Grinch Who Stole Halloween.
Meanwhile, my daughter is putting on her Cleopatra outfit, which is a white sleeveless dress. We live outside of Boston. Did you know that we had a Nor’Easter on Saturday night?
Me: Don’t you want to put a shirt under that, so you won’t be cold?
Me: You’ll be cold.
Pie: I’ll wear a jacket.
Me: How will you get a jacket over that?
Pie: Oh! Well, I guess I’ll just have to be cold!
Me: If that’s what you want.
Pie: Yeah, I’ll just be cold.
Me: Okay, you’re a big girl. If that’s what you decide, then I’m okay with that.
Pie: Yep. And if you have to hear me complain, then you’ll just have to hear me complain!
I feel like she’s missing the point.
The freakin’ candy corn is calling my name and I can’t stop eating it although I’m not hungry, having already consumed the night’s Mummy Dogs and drinks with wormy ice cubs.
Halloween. Someday I’ll get to be that crotchety old woman, who just yells at the kids to get the freak off her front porch. For now, I’ll just be the crotchety middle aged woman handing out treats. Happy freakin’ Halloween.
October 9th, 2011 § Comments Off on The Book of Life § permalink
I don’t talk much about religion here, because my feelings are so ambivalent. But while I’m not sure where I stand in terms of my beliefs in a higher power, I have strong attachments to tradition. I love knowing that what I’m doing has been done countless times before me by my ancestors. My father rejected religion, yet as a child he was bar mitzvahed, and I know he attended Yom Kippur services. My grandparents before him did, as did those on my mother’s side. And I know their parents did as well. We could keep going back, but what’s the point?
The closest I come, though, to a spiritual connection is on Yom Kippur, one of the high holidays. I’ve been fasting on Yom Kippur for about the past 17 years. I started in grad school. I’m not strict—I allow myself to drink—but I don’t eat, watch TV, get on my computer, and the like. And we go to synagogue. All of us.
Kol Nidre is my second favorite service of the year. My synagogue has begun a tradition of, just before sunset, before the start of Yom Kippur, of having Kol Nidre played on a viola (once sunset starts, playing an instrument is not permitted). The melody is so hauntingly beautiful. (This is the most famous version, Neil Diamond’s version in The Jazz Singer)
Kol Nidre is the beginning of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. Kol Nidre means “all vows” and it’s a dissolution of all vows made between man and God. It begins the 25-hour fast of Yom Kippur.
But my favorite service is Ne’ilah, which is the closing of Yom Kippur. It is said that on Rosh Hashanah, God writes the names in the Book of Life and on Yom Kippur, God seals the book. Ne’ilah is the closing of the gates on the Days of Awe, the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur when we’re supposed to make amends to the people we’ve done wrong. Ne’ilah is when we make our final confessions, when we’re invited, individually, to approach the ark (the place where the Torah is kept) to make a personal prayer, when we sing Avinu Malkenu, a song that sends chills up my spine, when we make Havdalah (the separation of the holiday/Shabbat and the next day). For our Havdalah, the kids, who had been listening to stories in another room, are given glow sticks and the lights in the sanctuary are dimmed as the kids walk through up to the front. And when Havdalah is complete, a final shofar blast is sounded, one long blast, done by everyone with a shofar in the room, signaling, “This is it. The book is sealed. The gates to heaven are closed.” I leave Yom Kippur feeling revived, rather than hungry.
Our synagogue has a tradition, every Shabbat, which Yom Kippur fell on this year, of reciting the names of all those Americans who died that week in Afghanistan and Iran. The list always seems too long, although of course, one name would be too long, and I’m in shock every time I hear it how many men and women are still dying overseas.
I’m not one to make note of anniversaries. Not sure why, but I tend to let them slide. But I feel compelled to mention that the 10-year anniversary of this blog just passed. I had actually forgotten about it, until I was listening to the names, ages, and hometowns of the soldiers killed, and it reminded me that when I first started this blog, the cloud of 9/11 hovered over it, and I was concerned with my friend who had Anthrax released in his office, consumed by the NY Times reports of the people who died in the bombings, all while trying to plan my own wedding and start the next segment of my own life.
This blog has seen me through a lot. Our wedding. Our move from Seattle to the Boston area and the purchase of our house. HBS. More HBS. And yet more HBS.
This blog has seen me through a child. Another child. And all the other writing, vacation, family, crises, life events that have occurred in the past decade.
Ten years ago, Adam and I attended Yom Kippur services at the Hillel at the University of Washington. We spent the day attending services, fasting, reading, and generally feeling introspective. Just the two of us.
Yesterday, Adam, Doodles, Pie, and I attended Yom Kippur services at our synagogue. We attended services, the grown-ups fasted, and for the first time, all of us read (Pie can really read now!) and some of us felt, occasionally introspective.
If there was poetic justice in the world, this would be a good time to ends this blog. It’s been a decade. Everything has changed. Yet nothing has changed. The gates are closed. The book is sealed.
But poetic justice was never my style. So I’ll stick around. For ten more years? Who knows. But at least for the foreseeable future.
G’mar chatima tova. May you be sealed for a good life.
October 5th, 2011 § § permalink
Me: Have you ordered my iPhone 5 yet?
Adam: You know they may not announce an iPhone 5. There’s talk that it’ll be a iPhone 4s.
Me: I. Want. My. iPhone. 5. NOW!
Adam: Okay, Veruca.
Other people at dance class were talking about phones, so I jumped in.
Me: I totally want a new iPhone.
Friend at dance class: What are the new features that you’re interested in?
Me: My favorite feature is that it hasn’t been dropped in a toilet.
Adam: So seriously, do you want me to order you a new iPhone 4s?
Adam: Which one do you want?
Me: Any one that hasn’t been dropped into a toilet.
June 27th, 2011 § § permalink
Boston is famous for its drivers. We even have a special term for them. They’re called Massholes. For me, personally, though, the word uttered most frequently while driving is “a$$wipe.” I don’t know where the word came from. I don’t know why I say it. I never use the term outside of my car. But inside the car, the a$$wipes fly freely.
Today for example. Driving home from Cambridge. At rush hour. One car cuts me off, another stops at a yellow, and another hangs out in the box.
Me: Godd*amn, motherf&%$* a$$wipe! Freakin’ a$$wipe drivers.
The boy: Why do you call them that?
Me: Because they are. Every freakin’ last one of those drivers out there is an a$$wipe. All drivers are a$$wipes.
The boy: You’re a driver. So you’re an a$$wipe.
Me: Not me. I’m not an a$$wipe. Every other driver is an a$$wipe. And you shouldn’t be saying “a$$wipe.”
The girl: Daddy drives.
Me: Yeah, and he’s an a$$wipe when he drives.
The girl: Are you saying Beetle is an a$$wipe?
Me: No. Well, unless she’s driving. Then, yeah, I guess she’s one too. I don’t think you’re understanding. Everyone who is not me behind a wheel is an a$$wipe.
The girl: Beetle says that her husband is a crazy driver!
Me: Probably is.
The girl: So is he an a$$wipe?
Me: I really don’t think you should be saying that word.
The boy: Yeah. You should say “jacka$$” instead.
Me: No, not that either.
The boy: Why not?
Me: People tend not to like it when you say “a$$” anything.
The boy: What about a$$ idiot?
Me: Yeah, not that either. “A$$” is pretty much out.
The boy: Oh.
Guy freakin’ cuts me off again.
The girl: Mom!
Me: I’m a grown-up! Leave me alone. I’ll give you sugar when we get home.
I’m practicing my parenting speech as I type…. (And how many readers did I lose with this post?)
June 14th, 2011 § § permalink
Pancakes. Pancakes is where this story is going to end. (Every blog post reminds me of a song. This time, I’m humming the Sunday’s “Here’s Where the Story Ends.” I should figure out how to post a playlist on this blog so you can get the same damn tunes stuck in your head.)
Pancakes. But it’s not really about pancakes, of course. Leaving Sophie’s heading toward a major avenue to catch a cab, Sunrise declares that she really wants pancakes. Okay. I know a diner. Right around the corner. Open 24 hours. Let’s go take a look at the menu!
The diner is attached to a bar of the same name, and both have menus up. So I pause at the first menu. Attached to the bar. That’s closed. Shut up for the night. Because, by law, bars must serving alcohol at 4 a.m. It’s the law right? Except at just after 4 a.m., the door to this bar opens, and out walks one of the bartenders who says, “Come on it. First round is on us. You can get the next round.”
“There will be no ‘next round’ for us. One more is about all we have left in us.”
“Eh, come on in anyway,” he says.
What’s a gaggle of haus fraus to do, but go in for a round of beers? (Although by this point, both Sunrise and Scooby—proving that they don’t have the fortitude of us old time NYU girls—have switched to soda.)
It’s pretty much the two bartenders—whom we’ll call Chavez and Garfield—and a guy at the bar who will call Bullfrog. We perch on bar stools, and resume drinking. Well, I resume drinking. Scooby and Sunrise silently fret that this is all the beginning of some New York Post headline that reads, “Boston Haus Fraus Look for Beer, Find Death.” (At this point, when I told the story to Tweeds, she said, “Really? They gave you a beer after closing? At [name of bar]? That’s so illegal!” So out of respect for the so-illegal bar and the great time we had, I’ll skip naming it).
Chavez tried to pick up Scooby. Garfield and I discovered that we both moved into the city in 1986, so he let me dictate the songs on the iPod from that era of my early NYC years, starting of course with The Smiths’ Louder Than Bombs. The Bullfrog and I start up a conversation and he seems like a pretty cool guy, plays in a band with the kind of music I actually like, so I made him promise me, as soon as he’s over his ex, he’ll let me know so I can fix him up with yet another single friend in New York (I’ve got a bunch of them!).
Sunrise is still hungry, so Chavez kindly runs next door and buys her a plate of Fried Oreos. Seriously. Beer. Fried Oreos. After hours. I don’t know which is the most exciting for me.
Fried Oreos. Mmmmm....
5 a.m. My beer is done. My memories at this point are turning a little hazy. I think we finally have had enough adventures that I can tell Sunrise’s husband to take his “pedestrian tweets” and shove them up his….
We say our good-byes. We head out to the street. And we finally catch that cab back to the apartment. Daylight is starting to shine through the buildings.
See that sliver of bright sky through the buildings?
We’re back. (Later Beetle tells us she was mildly horrified when she looked at her watch when we came in, and she realized it was bright enough that she didn’t have to turn on the light to see it.)
Sleep for five hours. Bagel run to Murray’s. And then back home again. Needless to say, Sunrise, Scooby, and I all passed on doing any of the driving.
It took me a full week to catch up on my sleep. But it was well worth it. And the best part? We’ll do it again. Next year. Same time. New adventures. I’ll be sure to tell you all about them.