Wednesday, February 28, 2007

If only I had an address for this one

Dear Guy Who Was Driving in Front of Me This Afternoon,

Congratulations. I thought I'd seen every sort of automotive accoutrement known to mankind, but you are the first person I've ever encountered with a large pair of fake testicles dangling from the undercarriage of his truck.

What were you thinking?

I mean, really, what were you thinking? What sort of thought process makes a person go, "Okay, I've got my bumper sticker, I've got my license-plate frame ... what else can I add to turn my vehicle into a personal statement? Oh, I know! How about some fake testicles?"

It boggles the mind.

Also, I'm curious about how you get along in life while driving a truck that's decorated in this fashion. What do your dates think when you pick them up in it? If you have kids, do you drop them off at school and then zoom off with your fake testicles swinging jauntily in the wind? When you're going to lunch with your boss and he asks if you can drive, do you say "Sure, no problem. It's the grey Chevy with the balls under the bumper?"

Do you get more traffic tickets than other people? Because I know if I were a cop, I wouldn't be likely to give you and your dangly bits a pass if you were going a few miles faster than the speed limit, or if you pulled off a California stop at a red light. If anything, I'd probably start looking for a reason to give you a ticket for something as soon as I saw you, even if I couldn't get away with writing in "Has fake testicles" on the form.

I will say one thing for you, Truck Guy, and it is this: the sight of you driving in front of me made me laugh harder than anything else that happened all day. But beyond that, I'm sorry to tell you that although your truck may have balls, you have no class.


The Startled Person in the SUV Behind You

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Never grow old

Happy 37th birthday, Peter. We miss you.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The perils of TMI

I think I met the Upstairs Neighbors this evening. They were climbing the stairs, I was coming out my front door, and when we met on the landing, I realized instantly who they must be and blurted out "HI!!!" in a very loud, overly bright voice. The woman -- a pretty, professional-looking blonde, perhaps a few years younger than me -- smiled and said "Hi" in return, only much more calmly. And I clamped my mouth shut and hurried down to my car, because the first thing that had popped into my head was Monty Python, and I was having to restrain the urge to shout "Is she a goer? Does she go? Oh, say no MORE!" after the man's retreating back.

I can tell already that I will never be able to behave normally around these perfectly pleasant people. Ever. *facepalm*

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Apartment life

Dear Neighbor,

Twice this week now, I've woken up at 6 a.m. to the sound of your wife/girlfriend's voice going "Ooooooh ... ohhhhhh ... oh my God!"

I'm glad someone out there is getting some action -- and apparently some pretty high-quality action, because the moaning sounds quite sincere to my discerning female ear -- but for heaven's sake, if you're going to welcome the dawn with nookie, shut your window first! In fact, shut your window first no matter what time of the day or night you're going to do it!


The Lady Downstairs

Saturday, February 24, 2007

More pants

G continued to insist on her need to wear a skirt to the birthday party, so I let her wear one, but brought a pair of jeans along in the car and told her that they would be there if she decided to change. After eating it several times on the hard wooden rink floor, she said, "I want to go put my jeans on. My legs are cold." So, we went out to the car and she changed. On the way back inside, I said "It looks like all the other girls decided to wear pants, huh?" and she sighed and said "You were right."

I wish I'd had a tape recorder, 'cause I'll probably want to play those words back to her when she's 14. Or, knowing G, next week.

As for the actual skating, she had a very hard time at the beginning and returned her skates after the first two stumbling laps around the rink, saying that she didn't want to do it anymore. Then she watched a really talented teenage couple skate (seriously, they were like Olympic pairs champions) and was so impressed that she wanted to try it again. She got her skates back, strapped them on, and doggedly did several more laps -- this time not making a big fuss or complaining when she fell.

I told her I was very proud of her for trying again. It was true. :)

Oh, good grief

G: Help me pick out clothes to wear to A's birthday party.
Me: Okay. How about these jeans?
G: No.
Me: How about these jeans?
G: No.
Me: How about these cute khakis?
G: No. I don't want to wear pants. I want to wear a skirt.
Me: You can't wear a skirt.
G: Why?
Me: Because it's a roller-skating party, and you need something between your knees and the floor when you fall, which you will, because you've never skated before. And also it's 55 degrees outside. It's too cold to wear a skirt.
G: I hate pants! They don't show my inner girl.
Me (stifling laughter): You can wear pants and a girly top.
G: I'll look like a boy.
Me: And nail polish.
G: I'll still look like a boy.
Me: All the other girls are going to be wearing pants.
G: That's just your theory.

She is still in her pajamas as I type this. On the bright side, at least she's employing reason this time instead of just screaming the way she did about the hair-washing. It's the little things.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Clash of the Titans

Me: You need to take your shower now so your hair will be dry by bedtime.
Me: Yes.
Me (secretly wondering when her head is going to spin around): Okay, here's the deal. Your bedtime is at 8:30. Every time I ask you to get into the shower and you tell me no, it goes back 15 minutes. Say no enough times, and I could easily end up putting you to bed right now. What do you think about that?
G: *meekly goes and gets in shower*

I probably should not be so pleased about winning a battle of wills with an eight-year-old, but I am. Ha! So there! Also, for the record, I was not being unreasonable with my hair-washing request. I've been letting her skip it since Saturday, and it looks like she melted a stick of butter on her head. Yuck.

Monday, February 19, 2007

How to know you have PMS

1. You are so desperate for sugar that you eat a huge bowl of slightly stale Choconilla Rice Krispies.

2. You wonder if you were on crack when you deliberately did not buy any ice cream at the supermarket.

3. You put Meredith Brooks' song "Bitch" on endless repeat on your iPod.

4. You get teary-eyed while telling the cat what a good girl she is.

5. You are too impatient to think of a fifth item for your list.

Today G and I were meant to go to Universal Studios with P's cousin, but it rained, so we didn't. Instead, we went hunting for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures for G, ate lunch at California Pizza Kitchen, watched hours and hours of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles DVDs while playing with the new figures, fell asleep on the sofa (actually, that was just me), and went to the Apple Store to confirm that my new MacBook's battery is as dead as a doornail. Boo. They ordered me a new one, but still, boo.

We also had an exotic fruit tasting this afternoon, which is something G has been asking to do for a long time. The three fruits we tried were starfruit, rambutan and dragonfruit, and they looked like this to start:

And like this after they were cut:

The rambutan looked like snail guts, but tasted the nicest, at least to me -- G didn't like it at all. The starfruit was just nasty (I think we might have had an overripe one), and the dragonfruit was a beautiful color (and a color that stains, so beware if you sample it for yourself) but also tasted awful in a way I can't describe. However, as I said to G, you live and learn, and now we've learned, so let's have some tangerines and bananas instead. And we did.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The dreaded lurgy

G and I are having the sickliest winter on record. Both of us have been ill every month since December, and to make it more fun, all our illnesses have been conveniently staggered so that I get sick just as she recovers, which means that someone is pretty much always either getting over something or coming down with something. I don't usually catch her viruses, so I'm guessing my immunity is at a low ebb right now, probably from stress. Forget a spa weekend; I need a weekend in a sensory-deprivation tank. Preferably with a vitamin C drip going into my arm.

I'm just not feeling well in general lately, either physically or mentally. People talk about the "pain of grief," but it isn't really a pain, at least for me. It's more like a low, constant fog that drifts just above ground level and makes everything seem damp and sad and hopeless. It's been like that almost from the start. I was frozen with shock for a long, long time -- a couple of months at least -- and I was afraid that something horrible was waiting for me on the other side of it, some indescribable agony out of a Greek tragedy. But when the shock finally wore off, it was the fog that came creeping in to replace it, and it's the fog that's still with me now. Sometimes it thins out for a while, but it always comes back, the way fog does at night, rolling in from the sea.

I still function in spite of this, but not very well, and I always have a vague feeling that I'm not doing a great job at things. I can't give a hundred percent to anything because there isn't that much of me left to give. The rest died when P did, or else got lost somewhere in the fog.

Friday, February 16, 2007

I'll take it any way I can get it

G and I are at the 7-11, getting snacks for her Friday movie night. At the cash register, she sees a singing stuffed lion left over from Valentine's Day and exclaims over how cute it is.

Guy Who Owns the 7-11: You want to buy it? I give you a very good price.
Me: Oh, no thanks! We already have way too many animals at home.
Guy Who Owns the 7-11: Ha ha! You have lots of animals at home, and (pointing to G) you have one here too!
Me (politely, even though I think this is a rather offensive remark): Ha ha.
Guy Who Owns the 7-11: When you come back, I give you a very good price on the lion!
G: Can we come back tomorrow and get it, Mom? Can we?
Me: No, baby, we don't need it.
G: But --!
Me: Time to go!

We go outside and get into the car, G still talking about the lion and asking why we can't come back for it. As I'm putting the key in the ignition, there's a tap on the window. I look up, and there's a short, scruffy, slightly demented-looking guy standing right outside, eating what appears to be a chili dog in a cardboard tray. I roll my window down a little bit, figuring I can always back up over his foot if he bothers me.

Me: Yes?
Demented-Looking Guy: We've been doing surveillance all night, and you were the best mom. You passed the mom test.
Me: Um, thanks.

Having said his piece, the demented-looking guy strolls away, still eating his chili dog, and prepares to cross an eight-lane boulevard outside the crosswalk and against the light.

G: Who was that?
Me: That was a crazy man.

The embarrassing part? I actually felt a warm glow of pride at the comment. Apparently I am insecure enough about my parenting to accept validation from anyone, even a chili-dog-eating weirdo at the convenience store. Oh well.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Remnants and tatters

More than seven months after P's death, I still have not got used to the little reminders of him that crop up from time to time. I catch a glimpse of his handwriting on a label, or stumble across a photo I'd forgotten, or find a note tucked into a book, and it's like a blow that makes me lose the thread of whatever I'm doing or thinking or saying. It's strange to think that one day I'll be dead too, and someone, most likely G, will have custody of the bits and pieces I've left behind. I can't imagine a fifty- or sixty-year-old G waxing nostalgic over my grocery lists and half-used tubes of arthritis cream, but she probably will.

It just doesn't seem real, even after all those months. None of it does. I look at pictures from a year or two years ago and think "That's my home, that's my family, that's where I belong." This life, this place, feels like a sham, false and hollow. I keep getting up and going to work and doing laundry and sweeping the floor because I have to, but it's like being a character in someone else's play. And I can't shake the feeling that sooner or later, if I go through the motions long enough, the play will come to an end, and I'll be released to go back to my own life. I wish I could make myself believe that this life is as real as the old one was, but I can't. I just can't.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The lunatic fringe

G is trying to grow her bangs out again. She's had them ever since her front hair finally grew enough to put an end to the Friar Tuck look she was sporting for the first year or so of her life, and she's tried to grow them out at least five times with no success. They usually get to about mid-ear-length before either she or I can't take it anymore and shrieks "CUT THEM! AAAUUUGH!" Right now they're just long enough that they can't be allowed to hang free, but still several inches away from being long enough to blend into the rest of her hair.

It doesn't help that she's also reached the awkward stage that afflicts all kids sooner or later -- the one where they're too tall to be little and cute, and their front teeth are three sizes too big for their faces, and they usually have ink/marker stains on their hands and are all sweaty and dirty from some activity or other. Add messy hair on top of that, and you've got one disheveled-looking child. Now I know why my mother was always chasing me with a brush and a handful of barrettes when I was G's age. Obviously I think G is beautiful no matter what, but sometimes I despair of her ever being tidy again.

Monday, February 05, 2007

But he was always so quiet!

Look at this face.

Isn't that just the most precious thing ever? Isn't it adorable? Surely an ickle sweet fluffy pussycat like that wouldn't try to kill his owner.


*cue scary music*

That ickle sweet fluffy pussycat has a bad habit of trying to escort me down the stairs and getting under my feet instead. I've been thinking for months that I'm going to trip over him and fall to my death sooner or later, and this morning it nearly happened. I was going down to turn off the heat, he was trotting down half a step ahead of me and weaving in and out of my legs, and then I slipped while trying not to step on him and fell halfway down the (thankfully short) flight of stairs.

I took the bulk of the impact in what might delicately be described as the "lower back," but was really more like the "upper butt." OMG, the pain! My ass is going to look like a Goth rainbow in a day or two -- seven different shades of black and blue. I suppose it could have been worse: two inches to the left and I'd have broken my tailbone, two inches higher and I'd have pulverized a kidney. It hurts anyway. Plus, now I know that my cat is a homicidal maniac.

I hate Mondays.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Taking the "sleep" out of "sleepover"

10 p.m.: I tell G and her friend that it's time for them to go upstairs. They don't have to go to sleep yet, but they do have to stay in G's room.

11 p.m.: I break up repeated attempts to sneak downstairs and get cookies. These girls are the most inept sneakers in the world. They're like a pair of elephants trying to tiptoe past the zookeeper, snorting and sniggering and tripping over each other all the way.

11:30 p.m.: I hear loud music coming from G's room, followed by stomping and clapping; they're dancing to U2's song "Elevation," which is blasting out of G's Disney Princess CD player. I go in and turn the music down.

Midnight: I shut down the party and make the girls go to the bathroom, brush their teeth and get in bed.

1 a.m.: They finally stop talking and fall asleep.

1:15 a.m.: I gratefully fall asleep as well.

6:45 a.m.: I open my eyes and hear giggling and feet running up and down the stairs. They can't possibly be up already, I think. But they are.

7 a.m.: Both girls are standing beside my bed, asking when we can go get doughnuts. Rather uncharitably, I tell them to go away and come back when the clock says 7:30.

7:21 a.m.: With the covers over my head, I hear them both approach the bed again. "It's not 7:30 yet!" I say from under the quilt. As they scamper away, I hear one of them whisper to the other, "How did she know?"

Heh heh heh.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A momentous occasion

G is having her first-ever sleepover tonight. Her friend has been here for three hours, and so far they have eaten like lumberjacks, watched two Scooby-Doo movies, had their nails painted black, silver and purple (by me), played Uno (also with me), and had a cataclysmic pillow fight (which started with an ambush on me). Now they're watching Spongebob Squarepants and drawing pictures while I try to catch my breath. I hope we'll get to the sleeping part of the sleepover soon, because I'm exhausted.

Also, G's friend has just informed me that parents aren't supposed to like Spongebob. Really? Bummer. I guess I'll have to stop quoting that episode where Spongebob takes the bus to another town and keeps missing the bus to go home again, then.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Dear cat (yes, I mean you, the black one),

It is 5:09 in the morning. Could you please stop sticking your furry little bum in my face so I can get some sleep? Thanks ever so.


The person who feeds you