Monday, June 30

The Definition of Ironic

Anyone else find it a wee bit ironic that at the opening weekend of WALL-E--a film about the devastation of Earth by mankind, a film about how humans had to abandon the planet because they had so trashed it, a film that opens with a good thirty minutes of visual magic about the literal mountains of garbage people left behind on their planet--anyone else find it strange that on opening weekend they were giving away crappy plastic watches that can't even be set properly? Pie has already discarded hers somewhere and I'm pretty sure Doodles's already broke his when he got it wet while playing. Pul-lease!


Morning Brain

[Note: I've been toying with the idea of updating more, instead of just on Wednesdays. I'll give it a try, see how that goes.]

Adam went to Philly for a wedding yesterday morning. He's to fly back this morning. There was concern about him drinking and having fun all night and then making his early morning flight, so as I was lying in bed (with the two munchkins), I gave him a call at 6:25 a.m. to see how he was doing. [And in all fairness, this is the gist of the conversation, not the exact conversation, as we all have colds over here and I was half asleep.]

Me: So, you going to make your flight okay?
Adam: I'm answering the phone, aren't I?
Me: What do you mean?
Adam: I mean, I'm obviously not on my plane.
Me: Did you miss it?!?
Adam: No, it was delayed. But that's clear if you could reach me.
Me: What do you mean?
Adam: Well, if I had left on time, I'd be on the plane.
Me: Your flight leaves at 6:45.
Adam: No. It was a 5:45 flight.
Me: No, pretty sure it's at 6:45.
Adam shuffles around looking for his ticket. Silence a moment.
Adam: Oh. Your right. 6:45. Huh. Guess I got up an hour early.
Me: So you were at the airport in time for a 5:45 flight?
Adam: Yeah. But, still, it is delayed!

And indeed it is. I just checked. His 6:45 flight left at 6:55. Darn that cruel Delta!


Wednesday, June 25

40 Years of Me

Those Peace Lovin' 1960s
June 25, 1968: I was born. Flower and Fifth Hospital in New York City, although my parents at the time were living in West New York, New Jersey.This causes three decades of debate (it wasn't an issue that first decade) of whether my home state is New York or New Jersey.
1969: TV enters my life, in two notable ways:
  1. My father props me up to watch on TV the first moon landing/walk. My father says that he wanted me to witness such a monumental moment, but really (he claims), my sister got the better show, because he let her watch Hank Aaron's 733rd home run. "Lots of people will walk on the moon," he told me. "I don't think anyone will break Hank Aaron's record." Dad, meet Barry Bonds.
  2. My mother discovers the wonderful world of Sesame Street. My father claims this is the root of all my problems. "Your mother heard about this great new show for kids. The problem is, she heard about it after the first day it had aired. You started with the letter B and the number 2, and you never caught up."

Those Wild and Crazy 1970s
1970: Family lore states that I attempted to kill passers-by by tossing blocks off our 22nd floor balcony. My mother ran downstairs, saw some dented cars and a very angry doorman and pedestrians. She acted shocked and indignant that someone could be so irresponsible as to let her child do this and she retreated upstairs. I never saw those blocks again. Also, my best friend was Feefer, I sucked on a LaLa, and apparently, I liked apples and was "scared cows."
1971: We're movin' on up, movin' on up, to the 'burbs: The Brown family migrates to Westchester Country, and all hopes of my having any pretensions of being a city girl are shot. And, oh yeah, my sister, the Tweedle Twirp, is born. This is significant because from here on out, she protected me from the cows.
1972: My family makes the move from Briarcliff Manor, New York, to Miami Lakes, Florida, and thus my identity as a Miami girl begins its formation.
1973: 1973 was the year of the gun. Already told you about it; no need to repeat myself.
1974: From Miami Lakes to South Miami. A play house in the front yard, built by my mother out of--why?--railroad-ties. A front walkway, laid by mother built out of--why?--railroad ties. These railroad ties always turned my feet orange and were a nuisance to walk on barefoot. In the house: Halls with orange and brown stripes painted by my mother. An orange metal fireplace in the living room that us children were not permitted in under punishment of death by my mother. I remember being allowed by my mother to watch TV at dinner for one event and one event only: Richard Nixon's resignation.
1975: I get in trouble for fighting with the boy down the street. My mother tells me that violence is never an option. My father tells me, If someone hits you, you hit him back harder. I decide my father's philosophies are more in tune with my own. I get in trouble a lot this year. But only with my mom.
1976: The whole country is celebrating the bicentennial. I'm mourning the fact that I am the youngest person at Pinecrest Elementary School--possibly even Dade County, possibly even all of South Florida!--to ever get braces. A full headgear. To be worn twenty-four hours a day. Yes, I know my teeth look great now. No, it was not worth it.
1977: I'm looking at my diaries. 1977. None of it's ringing a bell. End of third grade, beginning of 4th grade. Not a memorable year in any way.
1978: Was the headgear not enough? Let's add glasses to the repertoire. Farrah Fawcett-style. Tinted, partially, a gray and blue. My initials are in gold foil on the corner of one of the lenses. This year, I also take my first trip abroad.
1979: How to torment an almost-eleven year old? Uproot her and move her across the country. To a land where there are no Jews. To a land where this strange white stuff falls from the sky and where the snazzy jean jacket her mother bought looks nothing like the space-age parkas everyone else wears. A land so liberal and crunchy that her father's new job, as the president of a company that turns animal poop into gas (hey, thanks Carter years!) is actually considered cool by the kids in her class. Bye Bye, Miami. Hello, Boulder, Colorado.

Like, Gag Me with a Spoon! It's the 1980s!
1980: From my diary, Nov. 11, 1980: "The world is going to shit! The Presidental [sic] Election is today. I want Carter to win. Of course he's losing. Reagan has 252 electroal [sic] votes so far. Carter has 15 & Anderson has 4. Even Anderson would be good. Reagan is against E.R.A. & abortion. This country is falling apart. Between Reagan & the hostages in Iran."
1981: From my diary, a selection of things I received for my 13th birthday: bicycle helmet; 2 cassettes: Pat Benatar's Crimes of Passion, and Styx's Paradise Theater; 2 tube tops, pink and blue & white striped; 2 books: Petals on the Wind and If There Be Thorns; a "gorgeous" card with a unicorn on it. I also recorded a description of myself: "I have a volunteer job at North Boulder Rec Center. I help teach swim classes. It's great! I'm going to try to describe myself: braces, plastic rimmed glasses, a bit of acne, tan on my nose that stops where my glasses start, dark eyebrows, fairly dark brown eyes, dark brown hair that parts on either the middle or side depending on my mood, small (real small) bust approx. 32 inches (really 31 but...), A cup (ugh) so I hardly ever wear a bra, I'm 4 feet 11 3/4 inches. I'm 13 and I still don't have my period!"
1982: And little did I know... the beginning of my running career. I joined the Casey Junior High Track Team. However, I had a dismal coach who did no coaching and who neglected to tell me that when running the mile, I should hold myself back, and not try to sprint the entire way. Despite my $45 Nike shoes (my mother asked my father, "How much did you spend on running shoes?!?"), I consistently came in last place in every track meet.
1983: Deep sigh. Nightmare over. We return to Miami Beach. In my Colorado years, I made exactly one friend (hi, Karin!), learned how to roll a joint, and almost flunked out of Algebra. I pretend the previous four years never happened.
1984: The future is now! But I'm still stuck with an old Atari and we still don't have MTV in the house! I sneak General Hospital after school (no TV allowed) and I spend more time grounded than not. Life pretty much sucks, but in your normal, I'm sixteen-years-old sucks kind of way. On the plus side, I do get a driver's license. But also a serious curfew to go with it.
1985: I GET MY MTV! And use of a car (a a manual Volkswagen Rabbit) to drive to school. I force the Tweedle Twirp into 1) waking me up 2) making my breakfast peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, and 3) having my Diet Coke ready to go. She complies because 1) She cares about getting to school on time, 2) I don't, and 3) see #1. I grudgingly drive her but do insist she move to the backseat when I pick up my boyfriend, Greg.
1986: Who are we? Wild and sick! Senior Senior '86! Whoo hooo! I've got Hi Tide Pride! Go Beach High!
1987: Hook 'em horns! One semester at the University of Texas lets me know that 1) I would never be the president of Chase Manhattan Bank 2) I will never get the bows in my hair to stay that neat and pretty and 3) Texas, well, let's just say, me and Texas, not such a good fit.
1988: Bye-bye bowheads. Hello city that never sleeps. Film school NYU. Much better fit.
1989: My first solo trip--three weeks in Europe. I'm hooked, starting a decade-and-a-half obsession with travel.

Grunge It Up, Girl. It's the 1990s
1990: After working for a glamorous nine months in the world of advertising, I discover I hate advertising. I become an editorial assistant for the glamorous pay of $14,000. I share a one-bedroom apartment (my share is $450) on the fifth-floor of a walkup on 11th, between Avenues B & C, where the front door doesn't lock and the light on the third floor landing is always out, which means stepping over the men sleeping in the hallway. I survive by dating for the free dinners and swapping the free books from my publishing job for the free concerts and movie tickets my friends get from their jobs.
1991: I leave the lucrative publishing job for a stint as an assistant at a talent agency. This job pays the even more astounding $11,000 a year (to be raised to $13,000 at the three-month point). It was not a good fit. I'm not perky. I can't stand Off-Off Broadway theater. My movie tastes ran that year toward Delicatessen, Barton Fink, and Thelma and Louise; the agency cast deodorant commercials and soap operas. I never made it to that raise. I retreat back to publishing.
1992: I test the waters of adulthood. Steady boyfriend. Job that has potential for a career. A decent (well, for New York) apartment. Testing. Testing. Testing...
1993: Nah. Not for me. Which leads to 1993. I remember nothing of 1993. Well, I remember getting the phone number for that door-to-door pot delivery service. But other than that, 1993 is a complete blank.
1994: Time to try a new tack. I pack it all up and head west. Onward to U Dub for grad school. But first, a three-month cross country road trip. My mother is so freaked out about the idea, she leaves me a letter the morning that I am to leave that reads in part: "It's 5 a.m. and I haven't been able to sleep. As usual these days, I've been worrying about you...I keep wondering how I could live with myself in the future if you're dead (a very distinct possibility) from some mishap on this trip, and all I was was be 'supportive.' ... Sylvia Plath aside, I have no romanticized notions of the young, dead writer. I don't thinky our father or I could function after having buried one of our children. ... I want you to live to have the experience of being a parent so you'll know exactly what I mean...." I can report that I survived the trip, with nothing more harmful than one speeding ticket, a new boyfriend, and enough material to get me through two years of a Creative Writing master's degree program.
1995: Write. Read. Write. Read. Write. Read. Write. Read. Write. Read. Write. Read. Write. Read. Write. Read. Write. Read. Write. Read. Write. Read. Write. Read. Write. Read.
1996: My degree is done. I have two choices: Find a job, marry my boyfriend (different one from 1994), think about procreating. Or, run away. I choose run away. I head for a kibbutz for six weeks to work in the kiwi fields.
1997: Six weeks somehow became six months plus a couple of months trekkin' through Eastern Europe. I return back to Seattle, and begin the glamorous life of freelancing, as a proofreader and copyeditor.
1998: A friend says to me, "Hey, have you heard of that little Internet bookstore? I heard they are hiring copyeditors." I apply. I get a job. My father, the Certified Financial Planner lectures me, "Take this job if you like the job. But don't take it for the stock options. This company is worthless and you'll never make a dime." I bitch and moan and then ask him to tell me what a stock option is.
1999: I cash in my worthless stock options. I take my sister and my best friend on a bike trip from Vienna to Prague. I undergo Lasik. I get a DVD player. I buy a house.

Bring on the Minivan! It's a New Century!
2000: My father says, "The stock is at the highest it'll ever be. Cash it all out now." I ignore him. I lose thousands upon thousands of dollars. My father continues to remind me of this fact even now, eight years later. In other news, there's this guy. He's kind of cute, but rather arrogant and when I asked him out, he simply said, "No." Assohole.
2001: Got engaged to arrogant guy.
2002: Got married to arrogant guy. Let arrogant guy drag me across the country so he can attend the most arrogant school in the country and become arrogant MBA guy. Should I procreate with arrogant soon-to-be MBA guy? No let's not procreate. Instead, let's go to New Orleans and spend the entire time drunk off our asses. Oh, what's that? Too late? The genesis of Brown Brown occurs amid the primordial haze of hurricanes and Cajun martins.
2003: Bye bye martinis, hello breastmilk. Little do I know that I'm about to spend the next five years either pregnant or with a child at my breast. Brown Brown enters the world, and formally becomes known as... Doodles.
2004: I think life is tough with a baby. I think it's impossible to get any writing or work done. I think that I'm exhausted. But it turns out I know nothing. But this is easy compared to...
2005: Welcome to the world, Pie!
2006: I breastfeed. And cosleep. And breastfeed some more. And cosleep. Did I mention the breastfeeding? There was quite a lot of that going on. And a bit more. Yes, I breastfed this year. Boy, did I breastfeed.
2007: For 11/12 of this year, I continue to breastfeed. But then, miraculously, children leave my breast. They sleep for longer stretches of time. They enter school programs and make friends with whom they can be dropped off. Visions of not necessarily my old life, but some sort of life begin to emerge. Which leads me to...
June 25, 2008: I turn forty years old. Happy freakin' birthday to me.

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Wednesday, June 18

Guess It'll Be a Gift Card This Year

Conversation from last week:

Me: Do you want to get Daddy something for Father's Day?
Doodles: I know what to get him!
Me: Are you going to make him a card?
Doodles: No, we should get him something.
Me: What?
Doodles: A baby!
Me: What do you mean?
Doodles: We should have another baby!
Me: Where would this baby come from?
Doodles: Your belly.
Me: By Sunday?
Doodles: Sure!
Me: I'm not having another baby. And even if I were, it wouldn't get here by Sunday.
Doodles: Just try, Mom.


Here Comes the Bride

Part One
We hit the local thrift shop and Pie immediately gravitated toward a particular book,What Is a Princess. The last spread of the book reads, "And princesses live happily ever after" with the final page a picture of Cinderella in her wedding dress with her prince (in all fairness, it also tells that princesses are smart and brave as well). Pie declared it a good bedtime book, "because it's such a good story." But it prompted this bedtime discussion:

Pie: Is Cinderella getting married?
Me: Yes, she is.
Pie: Can I get married?
Me: When you're a grown-up, you may get married. But only grown-ups get married.
Pie: Can I marry Daddy?
Me: No. I'm afraid Daddy is already married to me. You can marry someone else.
Pie: Who can I marry?
Me: You'll grow up and fall in love. And that's who you'll marry.
Pie: I can marry a man?
Me: You can marry a man. Or you can marry a woman. You'll marry another person.
Pie: I'll marry another person?
Me: Yes.
Pie: I want to marry a man.
Me: Okay.
Pie: I want to marry Daddy.
Me: Sorry. I already married him.
Pie: Can I have a baby and get married?
Me: Sure! Most folks do it in the other order, though. They get married and then have a baby.
Pie: I want to have a baby and get married.
Me: Okay.
Pie: Will you hold it?
Me: What?
Pie: Will you hold the baby? When I get married?
Me: Sure.

This feminist mommy is sure trying to be supportive, but no one told me it would get so political so young!

Part Two
Friday night dinner conversation:
Pie: Mommy, when I'm big, can I marry you?
Me: I'm 'fraid not. I'm already married.
Pie: Can I marry Doodles?
Me: You really can't marry anyone who's related to you.
Adam: You can marry [he lists two boys from her school] Alberto or Englebert!
Me: Or you can marry Marvin. Or Angela or Jasmine!
Adam: Right, this is a progressive household.
Pie: I can marry Jasmine?
Me: Sure!
Pie: I want to marry Jasmine!
Me: Okay!
Doodles: That would be good. Because if you marry Jasmine, then there could be two mamas to have babies.
Pie: Can I wear a dress?
Doodles: Silly, you have to wear a dress when you get married!
Me: Actually, you don't. But, yes, you may wear a dress.
Pie: My fourth of July dress?
Doodles: That won't fit you by then!
Me: Yes, you may wear your fourth of July dress.
Pie: Can we dance?
Doodles: You always dance at weddings.
Me: Yes, you may dance.
Pie: Dance! And I marry Jasmine.
She goes back to eating her cookie, happy that one of the major decisions of her life are complete.

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Wednesday, June 11

Random Notes from the Front Lines

I'm at that point of parenthood where when my son asks at 1:11 in the afternoon if he can take off his clothes so he can marry his sister, I don't even look up when I say, "Sure."

I also say ridiculous things like, "I've told you! No shoes upstairs on the carpet! I want to keep this carpet clean! Now go downstairs while I finish cleaning your pee out of the rug."

Pie's new thing: "When I'm big..." All of these uttered at random within the past four days: "When I'm big can I drive?" "When I'm big can I paint your toes?" "When I'm big, can I have coffee?"

The most popular song these days for naked tushie dancing is Cake's "The Distance." Pie calls it "the flag song" and she holds a plastic Israeli flag left over from Yom ha'Atzmaut as she listens. The second "the flags go up" is sung, she raises her little flag, giggles, and says, "Play it again." The other day, I heard Doodles explaining to his friend what the song is about: "This song is about someone riding a horse and he lost his cup."

Do you remember way back when on game shows when one of the prizes offered was a shopping spree? Someone would have ten or fifteen minutes to run through a store and throw as much stuff as s/he could into the shopping cart. Well, that's what shopping has become like for me. I went to TJ Maxx today to make a return, and as I'm desperate for some new summer togs, I decided to check out the clothes. The other problem was, I had Thing One and Thing Two with me. Thing Two in particular was a bit trying. I didn't have to worry about losing her--her ear-piercing screeches ("Aieeeee!") as she ran from one end of the store to the other was as good as any homing device.
Me: Pie, stop running. Pie, use your walking feet. Doodles, tell your sister to get back here. Pie, get back here. Pie, use your indoor voice. Pie, walking feet! Pie, you are going to lose your playdate if you don't get over her right now! Doodles, go get your sister.
Meanwhile, I'm walking through the aisles, grabbing anything that looks remotely interesting and remotely in my size and tossing it over my arm. God forbid I hold anything up to me, never mind even try it on.
Pie: Mommy! Is that for me?
Doodles: No, Pie. It's for Mommy. It's all for Mommy.
Pie: Buy me something! Buy me something!
Me: You'll get stuff for your birthday!
Doodles: Mommy can I get--
Me: No.
Doodles: But--
Me: No. For your birthday.
Pie: Mommy! Mommy! MOMMY! Look! LOOK! They have PRINCESS PAJAMAS! Mommy, can I have princess pajamas? I want princess pajamas. Can I have princess pajamas? Please? Please? Please? Puh-leeeeeeeeeeeeeease? Can I have princess pajamas? Can I?
Me: For your birthday.
Pie: Can I have them Right Now?
Me: No. For your birthday.
Pie: I want princess pajamas. Can I have princess pajamas? Please? Please? Please? Puh-leeeeeeeeeeeeeease? Can I have princess pajamas? Can I?
Me: For your birthday.
Pie: Okay. For my birthday.
Me: Good girl.
Pie: For my birthday. Can you buy them now?
Me: No!
On my arm is very random assortment of clothes. I pay for them as my kids threaten to bring down the rope barriers holding up the aisles. Suddenly, I hear another screech.
Pie: Mommy! Mommy! Look at the backpacks! Look, Mommy! Hannah Montana backpacks!
Doodles, excited: She's right, Mommy! Hannah Montana backpacks.
I halt. I turn to Pie.
Me: How the hell do you know who Hannah Montana is?
Pie shrugs. I turn to Doodles.
Me: How does she know who Hannah Montana is?
Doodles shrugs: I don't know. But you know, she's a real person! She's a real concert singing person.
Pie: Yeah! A concert singing person.
Me, mumbling, as I hand the credit card to the sales clerk for a pile of clothes that I'll more likely than not be returning: She knows Hannah Montana.
We retreat to the car. I swear not to shop with them again. Not at least until these clothes need to be returned and I still don't have anything to wear.

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Math Is Hard

The Nana was visiting last weekend, and while she was here, we decided to watch Walk the Line, the Johnny Cash biopic. In the opening of the film, it reads, "Folsom Prison, 1968."

Me: 1968! That's the year I was born!
Adam: Yes it is.
Me: That was forty years ago, you know.
Adam: Yes it was.

A couple minutes in, the screen reads, "Someplace, Arkansas, 1944."

The Nana: 1944. I was one years old.
Me: What?
The Nana: I was one years old. You were talking about how old you were and now I'm telling you how old I was.
Me: Um, but you were born in 1945.
The Nana: Oh. [pause] I guess I did that backwards.

I guess you can say I come by my math skills honestly.


Wednesday, June 4

Onward Ho!

I find it hard to post when Adam's out of town--as he is again. Normally, throughout the day, when I'm supposed to post, I think, "I can blog about X. Maybe I'll blog about Y." But when Adam's gone, only one thought runs in my head, all day, the constant refrain, starting at 7 a.m.: "Only twelve hours till they go to bed. Only eleven hours and forty-three minutes till they go to bed. Only..." And then when it's finally the magic hour, we are inevitably running behind because it always takes 27 minutes longer to get anything done than I think. And then, once they're finally in bed, I have to convince them to sleep. When that's finally done, I think, "Hmm, blog? Or that case of wine Adam bought last weekend?" I'll sit here and blog till the wine kicks in.

Today was Pie's last day of preschool for the year, and tomorrow is Doodles's last day of preschool... forever. We had his "kindergarten chat" yesterday and the chat itself--with one of the teachers--went just fine, but when he saw all the "big kids," he totally froze up. I felt so bad for the little guy. Adam and I talked about holding Doodles back from kindergarten, but he's clearly ready to go. And even if we held Doodles back three years, well, he'd still be the shortest kid in the class. That's just the way genetics work, kid.

I had this angsty moment, as I got all worked up about the last day of preschool, the end of toddlerhood, the beginning of kindergarten, and then it hit me... I'm going to be having these angsty moments now for the rest of my life. There's always going to be that next big thing they grow out of/into. First day of kindergarten. First time they have a sleep over. First time they have a crush. The last day of elementary school, middle school, high school.... Getting ready for camp, college, first day of work. The first time they travel without me and Adam. Some of the milestones, I won't even be aware that it's the last time, until the pangs hit me in retrospect. The last time they're small enough for me to carry. The last time they crawl into our bed at night. The last time they cuddle down and beg me to read them a story.

So, I'll just do what moms have been doing for generations. I'm going to pour myself another glass of wine.

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