17 August 2011

Put your rage on the page

Toward the end of the school year, Sacha had a particularly bad day at school, during which he accidentally clocked his teacher in the chin hard enough to send her to the doctor midday, after she forcibly brought him to the sink to make him wash his hands. 

In my completely unobjective opinion, the bitch had in coming, but that is a story for another day. For now, suffice it to say, it does not take a military tactician to point out that if you find yourself embroiled in a power struggle with a hyperactive, oppositional five year-old, you’d best step down, as experience has taught me that you will always come out on the losing end of that showdown.

Sacha was feeling pretty bad about himself, and I was feeling drained from soothing his addled nerves, and so, when we got to the pool, I let him go to the shuffleboard court on his own. I wanted a little time to myself, and instead of checking on him at my usual 5-minute intervals, I stretched it to 10 minutes. When I did check on him I watched him from the edge of the court — see ticking time bombs, sleeping dogs, etc., —  and from my vantage point, he seemed to be playing happily with a bunch of kids.

Twenty peaceful minutes later, a lifeguard brought my screaming child to me, explaining that he’d been interfering in people’s games. I apologized to the lifeguard, and attempted to comfort my extremely low-frustration tolerant son. I gave him the requisite talk about not disrupting people's games, but my heart wasn’t quite in it, because I knew it was really my fault.

I spent the rest of the afternoon limping around the pool with Sacha clinging to my leg screaming. I was in this position when a woman approached me. "Excuse me," she said, "is that your son?" I took this to be a rhetorical question, what with the clinging and screaming and the strong familial resemblance, but nonetheless, I answered, “Yes.”

“Could you please watch him on the shuffleboard court?” she asked.
“I know; I’m so sorry; the lifeguard told me. I was checking on him, but clearly I didn’t get close enough to see what was happening, and I read the situation wrong.”

“He really shouldn’t be left alone there,” she continued, “He was very disruptive.”
“I’m really sorry,” I said.
“He kept messing up my daughter's game. He kept moving the puck around, and changing the scoreboard. He made it impossible to for us to play.”

At this point, I started to lose my temper. My brain said, “Look, second bitch I have encountered today, you should put on your listening ears, because I have just said, ‘My bad.' Twice." I have taken responsibility for my son’s actions, and social convention dictates that no matter how pissed off at me you are, and perhaps rightly so, you should, at this point, graciously accept my apology and go on to resent me for the rest of your life, if you like.”

Instead, I repeated, with all the politeness I could muster, “I am terribly sorry, and as you see, my son also feels pretty awful too.”

With that, I hobbled off on my screaming peg leg. I think it is safe to say it was not the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

02 August 2011

Asshole alert

Some people have fine-tuned gaydar — which in this day and age, is really not that impressive. I, on the other hand, have exquisitely honed assholedar, and lately I've been attracting them like a magnet. I could tell many stories of encounters I've had lately, and perhaps for the remainder of the summer I will make this a regular feature, but for now, consider the following:

We recently got a new car insurance policy, and I had to bring our car in to a designated photo-inspection facility. I called in advance to see when was a good time to come, and was told to show up at an appointed hour. I arrived promptly, and announced myself to a mechanic, who told me to wait in the office for his boss. Although the boss wasn't busy, he scowled at me and kept me waiting for ten minutes before he began inspecting my car.

Boss: Pull up over here.

[I pulled up over here, parked my car, and got out.]

Boss: No; pull up here. [Nods head 3 feet ahead of where I pulled up.]

[I got back in the car, and pulled up here.]

Boss glowered his way through the inspection. When he finished, we had the following exchange:

Boss: Do you know your front tire needs to be replaced?

Me: Yes, I do. It's on my list.

Boss: You know that tire could blow?

Me: Yes, I do.

Boss: I see you travel with babies in the car.

Me, internal monologue: That is technically untrue, although I can see why you would make that assumption, because I do have one car seat in the car. But since I don't want to give you any information about my personal life, I will let this slide.

Me, aloud: Yes, I do.

Boss scowled his way though the paperwork and dismissed me. As I got into my car to leave, Boss said, "You really should replace that tire."

Me: I know. I'm going to.

Me, internal monologue: Can you shut the fuck up already?

Boss: I would hate for to injure someone, or kill yourself, or your babies.

Me, aloud: Thank you!

Me, internal monologue: Thank you, asshole, for pointing out to me what I've already acknowledged that I know. I agree that it is of paramount importance to replace the tire. I am so sorry that I am a busy woman with three children, and, seeing as it's summer, a great deal less free time on my hands. Thank you so much for continuing to berate me and show me the error of my ways. I appreciate your concern for my "babies," and for every other sentient being on the road who I am endangering, and thank you for pointing out that I have no concern for my own children, life, or human welfare. In departing, let me add that if you have miraculously managed to find a mate and procreate, I pity your family for having to endure your domineering, authoritarian manner and passive-aggressive communication style, to say nothing of your poor listening skills. I also thank you for acting like you are doing me a favor by inspecting my car, which, while I am not personally paying you to do, you are being suitably compensated for by my insurance company. May your business continue to thrive and prosper!

18 July 2011

Department of minor complaints


There is a man I see everyday when I drop Sarah and Gabriel off at camp. He has two children in the same classes as them, and we often wind up walking the halls together from one room to the next, chatting pleasantly about nothing.

The other day as I was driving away after drop-off, a car began to pull out in front of me, setting us on a slow motion collision course. I issued a light warning honk and swerved. But the driver ignored me, peeled out and cut me off. I looked over to see who this asshole was, and IT WAS MY HALLWAY FRIEND. I’m pretty sure he saw me too, because the following day, as we passed in the hall, our smiles were significantly less friendly, and there was no idle chit-chat. I took this as a sign that he was either ashamed to have been outed as an asshole, or more likely, had hardened into a self-righteous stance in order hide from himself the fact that he is an asshole. Either way, he shall heretofore be known to me as Mr. Not-As-Nice-as-I-Initially-Thought.


Camp policy requires that parents sign their children in to class every day. I can understand this in a pre-school, or on the first day of camp, when children may not know where they’re going. But at this point, Sarah and Gabriel have seven years combined classroom finding experience, and they have a one-hundred percent success rate. I am decidedly in the pro-autonomy, anti-helicopter parenting camp, so boo to you, Working Advantage, for making my children take a small step back.


1. There have been several times in the past few weeks when I have used public restrooms, and the person in the stall next to me has left without washing their hands. It’s kind of interesting, in a social experiment way, to see the gap between self-reporting and compliance in action. I would like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and assume that if they’re not turning on the faucet, it’s because they carry their own bottle of hand-sanitizer. But still, as I tell my children, SOAP ALWAYS FOR NUMBER TWO. So for the sake of appearances, fellow bathroom going compatriots, couldn’t you at least turn on the faucet for a few seconds? I would be none the wiser, and it would make me feel a whole lot better.

2. Single occupancy restrooms in which the toilet is directly across from the sink, over which there is a large mirror, are an exceptionally poor design choice. The large mirror is good for fixing yourself up, but unless you scope out the joint in advance, and then remember the layout when you’re done with your business, you have the unfortunate experience of watching yourself wipe. I’m sure there are some fetishists out there who find this erotic, but I suspect, like me, the general populace does not.

On the other hand, props to single occupancy restrooms for allowing people to not wash their hands in privacy.

05 July 2011

Scenes from a mall

Although I hate malls with an abiding passion, this year for Sarah’s birthday, I set her and two friends loose there with some spending money. While I waited for them, I sat in the bar in Ruby Tuesdays. The White Horse Tavern it was not, and I could not even finish a single beer without fear of imperiling my ability to drive home, but I brought my notebook with me anyway.

I was still getting over the effects of my horrible ear infection, so I tried, as best I could, to eavesdrop with my one good ear. I overheard this conversation between a twenty-something bartender with Luddite* leanings and a conspiracy theorist patron slightly ignorant of musical history.

Bartender: I still think the best generation’s music was 1965-72.**
Patron: I just want to be alternative from everyone else.
Bartender: I am anti-Kindle. I still prefer CDs. I sample things on-line, and then I go out and buy them.

Unintelligible mumbling

Patron: If only she had talent she might be a crazy stalker girl.
Bartender: What do you listen to?
Patron: Depeche Mode, REM, Country (sic) Roses***, the Cure.
Bartender: Is that 80s music?
Patron: Yeah. Back in the eighties they used to call it college music.
Patron: Wasn’t Michael Jackson big in the eighties?
Bartender: Yeah, but I’m not even that upset he died.
Patron: Elvis and Tupac died, but obviously there are still spottings of them.
Unintelligible mumbling
Patron: All that classical stuff, like Beethoven and all that, it’s public domain now.
Patron: Didn’t Sirius and XM merge?
Bartender: Yeah; they have a nineties station.
Patron: So there’s only one alternative.
Bartender: Have you seen the Westfield Mall app?
Patron: Give me a number 2, make it strong; pineapple, Jaeger, lager.
Bartender: With a kick?

Unintelligible mumbling

Bartender: It’s your sister, so she doesn’t have you on a leash like a girlfriend does.
Patron: Yeah, I can’t get rid of that bitch.

Bartender: I don’t like the Wii. If I play video games, I want to sit.  

Unintelligible mumbling

Bartender, to me: What are you writing about?
Me: Oh, nothing, just taking notes.
Bartender: So you’re a writer?
Me: Not really, but I like to write.
Bartender: Have I given you any inspiration?
Me: Yes, you have.
Bartender: Alright! So if you can put something in your book about a really good looking bartender named Will, that would be great.
Me: I’ll do my best.

I was flattered to be taken seriously as a writer; apparently carrying a Moleskin, while pretentious, does connote a certain authority.

So Will, for you, here are your fifteen minutes.  


*Although this is the common usage, I recently learned that the Luddites were not so much anti-technology as anti-poor quality technology, which, in modern terms, means they were PC, as opposed to  Mac users.

**Given how I feel about classic rock, this especially chaps my ass. Of course you are entitled to your opinion, but you weren’t even alive during this era; was there no music made during your youth that was worth listening to? I think not.

***Stone, not Country, Roses. Youngsters, learn your musical history!

27 May 2011

Bad doggie treats

Everyone knows that positive behavior modification is the ideal method for motivating people and changing bad habits. The problem with this approach is that where children and annoying behavior are concerned, it’s more expedient, and satisfying to cut to the chase. If I say to Gabriel, “Stop X right now, or you will lose Y,” I have a roughly 50% success rate.

In the 50% of the time that this threat is ineffective, Gabriel loses a privilege, he often resorts to crying. And then I get angry that he can’t take responsibility for his actions, and tack a second day of privilege loss to the punishment, which makes him cry more. This is a masterful manipulation on his part; he is sensitive and empathic, and wears his emotions on his sleeve. Because he knows how he tugs on my heart strings, he goes for my emotional jugular. For years, we’ve been stuck in this vicious circle.

A few years ago, after we saw Dr Expensive, we instituted an elaborate positive behavior modification ticketing system. In hindsight, our system was ill designed, and generally a pain in the ass to administer, and within six months we let it fall by the wayside. Recently, Gabriel began clamoring for its return. I ignored this for a few weeks, until I realized that he was telling me he needed it. And so we re-instituted a new and improved system.

I have been trying unsuccessfully for years to explain to Gabriel that lying, and refusing to take responsibility for your actions is worse than the actions themselves, and only makes me angrier. With the new system, I began offering him a ticket to encourage him to fess up to his mistakes. It’s been working pretty well, and I was feeling very proud of both of us.

Recently I watched an episode of Modern Family in which a grocery clerk, played by Manuel Lin Miranda pitches a business proposition to the family patriarch, at the behest of his soft-hearted Latina trophy wife. His idea is a for behavior modification technique in which a dog receives a bacon flavored treat from the mouth end of a long dachshund shaped tube for good behavior, and a bland treat from the ass end for bad behavior. It was a spectacularly bad idea that backfired when the dog wound up preferring the bland treats.

Although it was very funny, as I watched, I had the uncomfortable realization that I HAVE BEEN GIVING MY SON BAD DOGGIE TREATS, and it was time to stop. And so I decided to just come down harder on his ass. As it turns out, since we are both a few years older and wiser, this also works pretty well.

18 May 2011



I like to wake at six o’clock, before my kids are up, so I can have quiet time with a cup of coffee and the news. If I only get halfway through the Daily Wrap before someone awakes, that constitutes a BAD NEWS DAY, which makes me very cross, because that is my only opportunity during the day to see what is going on in the world. And then I feel conflicted, because although I am happy to see my children, I can’t help but wish it was not quite yet.

Lately I’ve taken a harder line about their respecting my need for my quiet time. And though they try as best they can, of course they can’t, because they are children. So I close the computer, but can only pretend to listen, because my brain is shouting: SHUT THE FUCK UP*, PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, LET MOMMY READ THE NEWS, which of course I would never say.

At least, not yet.

A friend of mine told me that one of her most liberating parenting moments came when her children were teenagers, bickering in the back seat while she was driving. She turned to them and without malice, said, “Shut the fuck up.” And they did.

I can’t wait for that day.


During short trips around town, I keep the radio off, so I can talk with my kids. I am not very chatty, so mainly they talk, and I listen, and we have some of our nicest conversations this way, as I hear the news of their days, and their hopes and dreams.    

Sometimes, though, I just can’t concentrate on safely piloting the car while trying to answer vexing questions, like “What is the difference between a prostitute and a whore,”** “How do cats decide who to marry,” or, as Sacha is fond of asking, “What are we having for dinner tomorrow?”

At these times, I impose a talk amongst yourselves policy, but because the habit of car chatting is so ingrained, I find myself instinctutally answering questions, and then remembering that I told them not to talk to me. And so I cut myself off mid-sentence, and sternly say, “Please don’t talk to me, I am DRIVING!”

When they are older, I hope they do not hold this confusing mixed messaging against me.

*How I wish this book had been around when my children were younger.

**In an eerie self-fulfilling prophesy, I was recently asked this, several weeks after pondering this very question in this space.

14 May 2011

Love bites

Everyone knows that a penis is a boy’s best friend, and Sacha and his have always been extra-special close. Lately he’s discovered the art of self-massage; after a recent bath, I watched him in a trance, with a dollop of cream having a good go at himself.

On Friday afternoon I asked Sarah to get Sacha for changed for karate and she came running into the kitchen.


Sarah can be a bit alarmist, but when I looked at him, I couldn’t help but mutter, “Holy shit.”

His groin, penis and balls were covered in angry red hives. Sacha wasn’t complaining about it, and it was four o’clock on Friday, so there was no point in calling my pediatrician, but it looked really alarming nonetheless.

I used my complete lack of medical training deduce these were some kind of bug bites. We’ve had a minor epidemic lately, and both Sarah and I are spattered with welts.

But still, given that Sacha is a bit precocious where masturbation is concerned, has mildly sadomasochistic tendencies, and his penis looked like it’d been scrubbed with steel wool, I felt it was time to call in a medical professional. I have a friend who is a dermatologist and I knew she’d be seeing Sacha the following morning at karate. Because I am a sensitive wife, and  didn’t want to put David in the position of asking our friend cold if she could please examine our son’s balls, I sent her an email to give her a head’s up.

She confirmed my diagnosis, and advised that we treat the bites with antihistamine and cortisone. Just when I'd finally gotten to the point where I was completely out of the business of dealing with my son’s business, every evening, for medical reasons, I have to give him a genital massage. 

Two steps forward, one step back.

11 May 2011

On housework and its contents

I love to clean; I need to clean. Even being in someone else’s messy space makes me edgy. If you are my friend, and you keep a messy home, I do not love you any less, but know that while I am having a lovely time visiting with you, I am also fighting the urge to straighten up.

Recently I had a conversation with a woman who described herself as superficially neat. For a few days, that phrase sent me into a minor existential crisis, as I fretted about the possibility that I was actually a messy person in disguise, and have been living a lie. Eventually I talked myself off the ledge — my junk drawer is neat, for god’s sake, — and realized that even on a messy day, my home is tidy.

But, as neat as I am, I have a friend who is even neater. I’m in her house often, and I have never seen a single thing out of place. I am in awe of her; she has a job and a family, and yet, without daily domestic help, maintains a supremely pristine space. I am actually jealous of her basement, because although it is a completely ordinary unfinished space, it is as empty as the deep blue sea. She assures me that she has clutter, but she must keep it really well hidden, because I cannot detect any evidence of it. I really hope she shows it to me some day, because then I will be able to take her off her pedestal, and our relationship will reach a whole new level of intimacy. Until that day, I can not dare show her my basement, for fear she would loose all respect for me.

One of the best things I got out of writing boot camp was the realization of the extent to which I use housekeeping as an extremely effective form of procrastination, because unlike surfing the Internet, cleaning is PRODUCTIVE. My writing teacher told me I needed to get over my cleaning mania if I wanted to write. And although I knew it was true, it got my back up. This was not what she said, but what I heard was, “If you are to be a Serious Writer you must become messy,” which is tantamount to telling me I must have a sex change operation. As a result of boot camp, I am more relaxed about the state of affairs in the house, and (slightly) more comfortable letting things get a little seedy.

Today, I got around to cleaning the children’s bathroom. I was dreading it a little, as I rarely enter this space. I came, I saw, I conquered, and was left with just three disturbing questions:  
  • What the fuck was growing inside the electric toothbrush?
  • How long do they go between toilet flushes?
  • How long has the soap dispenser been empty?

In the interest of maintaining peace in the house, I shall file these under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

09 May 2011

Mind your money

In March, a friend who works in the television industry was contacted by a colleague looking for a third grade class to film a segment on kids and money for the Suze Orman show. My friend’s children attend the same school as mine, and Gabriel’s class was chosen to film the segment.

The first thing Gabriel said when he came home from school was, “Mama, Mama, I am going to be on TV!”

Because I am all about MANAGING EXPECTATIONS, and knowing he could end up on the cutting room floor, I replied, “You might be on TV.”

When I relayed this conversation to my friend, she said, “Don’t worry. I know your son; he will be on TV.” Still, I kept this information in my back pocket, because of the MANAGING EXPECTATIONS.

Gabriel’s classmates were asked to write short essays about money, and what they like to do with it, and sure enough, Gabriel was selected to be on the show. Before the day of filming, we got his hair cut, and chose a clean shirt for school.

Suze Orman airs on Saturday night at nine, and we set the DVR to record it, hoping to watch it on Sunday. 

Saturdays at nine is a sacred time in my household, when the new season of Doctor Who, which started only three weeks ago, airs.

We are embarrassingly serious about Doctor Who. There is a long gap between seasons, and the start of a new season is a time of much rejoicing. I actually blew off friends to whom I'd extended a dinner invitation, because I hadn’t realized the night I’d suggested was the SEASON PREMIERE.

As nine o’clock approached, Sarah, who is very into Doctor Who herself, lobbied hard to watch Suze Orman, and although David and I really, really, really would have preferred Doctor Who, given the choice between family and our favorite television show, we did the right thing.

I had never seen the Suze Orman show; until that night, I didn’t even know her name is pronounced Susie, not Sooz, which make more sense phonetically. I felt a little conflicted about her, as I found her both extremely annoying, and thus hard to take, but also, a hard-assed straight shooting bitch, which I respect. In the end, annoying won out: she’s very shouty, and kept referring to Mother’s Day as “Mommy’s Day.” It was painful to watch in real time, and the show is an hour long, but we persevered, for Gabriel.

Sarah didn’t much care for the show either:

“I don’t like her hair.”
“Her teeth scare me.”
“She looks like she should have wrinkles, but she doesn’t”
“She’s not a mother, is she?”
“Maybe she’s a lesbian.”

Just as we were about switch to Doctor Who, we saw the preview for Gabriel’s segment, featuring GABRIEL. By this point, Gabriel had grown so bored that he had passed out on the couch, but the rest of us were rewarded with five minutes during which I nearly DIED of adorableness, as we watched Gabriel and his classmates speak bluntly about money.


And while I was irritated that a woman who pronounces her name in a manner defying phonetic norms could not correctly pronounce Macaluso, I am grateful to her nonetheless, for allowing me to see my gorgeous, disarming, good-natured, delightful son display his charms on national television.

It was a pretty great Mother’s Day present.


06 May 2011

Basketball jones

Sacha has always been obsessed with basketball.

It began when he was barely walking, and I asked him to put his dirty diaper in the trash. As he threw it in, I said, “He shoots, he scores!”, and unknowingly unleashed an enduring passion. From that day forward, every diaper change became a basketball game.

The the height of the hoop continues to progress as he grows; he went from one suitable for crawlers, then toddlers, and now he insists on a full-sized backboard. Like a bloodhound, he sniffs out backboards, and begs to be hoisted up to take shots. When he became too big for me to hold over head, he would seek out any available adult, stranger or not, and demand to climb on their shoulders. If we are out for a walk and we pass a pick-up game, we must stop to watch. When he gets home from school, he drops his backpack and heads straight to the our disgusting basement, to work on his game. David regularly takes him to the Y to shoot hoops.

This is especially funny because mine is not a sports loving family. My father is something of a sports neanderthal, and one of the things that attracted me to David was his complete lack of interest in organized sports.

I find baseball dull, and although I pretend to watch the Super Bowl in an attempt to conform to social norms, I find football brutal and clumsy. But of all sports, I’ve always felt basketball has the most potential; it is fast paced and graceful, and I can appreciate it as an art form, even if I had no interest in watching an actual game.

When he was younger I used to DVR games for Sacha to watch when I needed to keep him occupied, and because he was unaware of the larger world, he had no idea that by the time he watched them, the games were ancient history.

This sort of thing will no longer do, because this year we introduced him to March Madness. I used it as a very effective behavior modification tool while getting him ready for bed, when he is generally batshit crazy. At first, I would sit with him, reading while he watched, but he would climb into my lap, making reading impossible, and then I had no choice but to watch the game. By the end of the series, our entire family was gathering to watch the games, and I found myself beginning to look forward to this ritual.  

From the Final Four, we quickly proceeded to the NBA playoffs, and somewhere along the line, I I found myself watching the Knicks versus the Celtics, not just as an opportunity to spend time with my son, but as a pleasure in and of itself. I started off simply appreciating the mechanics of the game — how can one be unmoved by a basketball player’s balletic form, the beauty of their arms — but not really caring who won. By the end of the play-offs though, I was heavily invested in the Knicks.

Although these things are elementary, here are a few of the things I now understand:
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • A’mare Stoudemayer
  • give and go
  • fast break
  • back court vs front court
  • center line, free throw lane, 3-point line
  • shot clock
  • bank shot
  • offensive vs defensive rebound
  • feint
  • field goal vs free throw
  • the distinction between one, two and three-point shots
  • flagrant vs offensive vs personal foul
  • floor violation
  • running out the clock

Then there are the things I know about, but haven’t quite figured out. I know that a team consists of a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center, but cannot yet recognize which player plays which position. I know there are different strategies, such as man-to-man defense, low percentage shots, keepaway games, and full-court press.

In short, I am beginning to know what I am talking about. Before the end of the series, I found myself two doors down at my sports loving neighbor’s house, talking about Friday night’s game, and anticipating what I was feared would be the final game of the series on Sunday afternoon. When David came in from a day of gardening, I brought us each a beer, and we sat down by ourselves, to watch the game. 
The second half was tense and exciting, and by the end of the third quarter the Knicks were only down by ten points, and I could  feel the energy on the court palpably shifting, as the Celtics began getting sloppy and the Knicks hungry with the possibility that the could actually win the game, and thus, prolong the series. When David left for the market, in the fourth quarter, I found formerly sports indifferent self on the edge of my seat, excitedly texting him updates.

What started as a labor of love is quickly becoming a passion of my own. I find myself looking forward to next season, and feeling a bit sad that we cannot afford the even the cheap seats for a family of five. But I’ve made a promise to myself that someday, we will take Sacha myself to a Knicks game, and I will thoroughly enjoy watching him (hopefully just metaphorically) pee himself with excitement.

02 May 2011

Jack is a dull boy

Saturday afternoon Sarah got together with her two closest friends, whom she has known since birth. While I am not generally nostalgic, the sight of these three — now on the cusp of adolescence — whose diapers I changed, and whose mothers are two of my closest friends, has the power to turn me into a bawling idiot. I control myself, but inside, I am carrying on like a drunk, to the strains of Sunrise, Sunset: “OH MY GOD, YOU ARE ALL SO BEAUTIFUL, I LOVE YOU ALL SO, AND WHEN DID YOU GET SO GROWN UP, AND I CAN’T WAIT TO DANCE AT YOUR WEDDING.”

They wanted to walk to Applegate Farms, and I asked if I could join them. I didn’t want ice cream, as much as the privilege of trailing behind them and admiring their beauty. Two weeks ago they got together to celebrate on of their birthdays with manicures and a sleepover. As we walked home, I complemented their manicures, which I noted, have held up remarkably well. There was much agreement about how their technicians had done exceedingly good work. And while I’m sure the technicians were highly competent, I did refrain from pointing out that the fact that none of them are regularly washing dishes and scrubbing toilets may also have something to do with it.  

It is a truth universally acknowledged that in every well run household, you will find a woman in charge. Although he is loathe to admit it, in our house, I am the CEO, David the CFO.* This model works very well, as am controlling by nature.** I love bossing people around, am very good at it, and will never tire of it.

Sacha was recently invited to a birthday party by one of his classmates from the DLC at Eagle Rock bowling lanes. That place is insane on a calm day, but it seemed like an exceedingly bad choice for a bunch of hyperactive five year-old boys, and the last place I wanted to be on a Sunday afternoon. And so David didn't so much draw the short straw as get it handed to him. Rank has it’s privileges.

* Gabriel recently said to me: “When I am married, I will let the girl decide, and we will be happy.” He is a wise child, and will make an excellent husband.

**Coincidence would have it that I gave birth to a daughter who is just as, if not more controlling than me, which should make for an interesting next few years. We get the child we deserve, and my comeuppance is right around the corner.

30 April 2011


I recently became unstuck from something that has been weighing on me for many, many years my entire life. In the weeks leading to this breakthrough I was in quite a lot of mental anguish, and despite being most decidedly ON MY MEDS, I was plagued by mild depression, with a light sprinkling of anxiety.

Since I figured things out, I’ve been exhilirated with the sheer joy of liberation. I am so incredibly happy that I sometimes wonder if I am manic — although I know I am not — and then, worrying about the possibility of mania makes me anxious. This is a glimpse inside the mind of the highly self-aware depressive; I cannot help but constantly monitor, reflect and adjust my emotional temperature; it can be exhausting in here.

When I am mentally released from something I like to celebrate with a good housecleaning, and so I spent last Sunday in a delightful spring cleaning trance. It was so satisfying that when I was through, I wanted to relax contentedly on the couch with a shit-eating grin and a cigarette. 
While I cleaned, David gardened and the kids played outside. This meant I could listen to whatever music I wanted, so there was a lot of Kanye West. Before bed I read Tina Fey's book Bossypants, which leaves me fits of hysterical laughter that linger after I put it down.

In the evening I sat for meditation. My mind was extremely noisy, racing with joy, and the competing strains of aggressive, catchy hooks and funny jokes which made it hard to settle. Instead of quieting, I heard this in my head:

Champagne wishes, dirty white bitches
I mean this shit is
Fucking ridiculous

And this:

Wave your hands in the air
Like you don't really care
Middle finger in the air
Like you don't really care
It's like that sometimes, so ridiculous
Life sometimes can be ridiculous

That is a sentiment I can relate to, a kind of gloss on “I used to be disgusted but now I try to be amused,” which helped me quite a lot through my late adolescence. Sometimes it is futile to fight your mind, so I decided to use this as my mantra. This did nothing to calm me, and the absurdity of it made me laugh. At this point the cat began to attack my legs. I was laughing so much I worried that I was disturbing David’s meditation, making me more anxious still. When the timer rang, I was felt slightly calmer, but not sufficiently so to go to bed, so I got nervous that I would have trouble falling asleep, torquing the anxiety spiral higher still.

I was initially drawn to mindfulness practices to help manage depression. Yogis like to talk a good game about being so balanced and centered, but in reality, we are just as, if not more, fucked up than anyone else. The reason people like me gravitate toward yoga is that we desperately need it. 

When I first began practicing yoga, I was so concerned with my Higher Self that I believed if only I practiced hard or long enough I would transcend depression and eradicate my need for antidepressants. Eventually, I got over myself, realized this is total bullshit, and that Western medicine is a very good, extremely helpful thing.  

And so, having finished meditating in an agitated state, I went up to bed, middle finger in the air, and took a klonopin. And with that, I drifted happily off to sleep.