Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Momma Dresses Me Funny!

Above are typical ensembles that male southern toddlers wear. Is this so their mothers can show their childhood photos later in life as a humiliation tactic? I can barely make eye contact with these poor boys down here at the park. "You must feel really dumb, Duncan," I whispered to one tot sympathetically as he climbed the slide. I knew his name was Duncan because it was emblazoned on his mint green poplin one-piece accented with a smattering of trucks, presumably so people know he's a boy. Because otherwise, dressed like that, it was hard to tell.

And what's with southern dads allowing this to go on? Even my husband, who as we established is fiercely afraid of me, wouldn't stand by silently if I dressed a little boy like this.

I'm sorry if you live in the south and dress your son in these rompers and are offended. Think of it as a friendly wake-up call: YOUR SON LOOKS RIDICULOUS. Go to his closet immediately. Throw out anything that even remotely resembles the attire above. Then get up off your ass and report directly to the nearest Gap or Old Navy or JCrew or just about anywhere that sells toddler clothes for boys. Pick out a few pairs of shorts and short sleeved t-shirts and be done with it.

You're welcome.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Winter in Alabama

People, my parents keep their air conditioner set at about 27 degrees. My body is slowly morphing into an emperor penguin in an evolutionary miracle to ensure my survival. If I start talking about mating for life, please send the authorities immediately.

When you enter into their house from the humid Alabama heat and are greeted with that strong blast of frigid air, the contrast is so shocking it's like you've just experienced a a full-body taser.

I'm ready to call in Al Gore so he can give that nifty lecture with all of those fancy charts to try to shame my parents into turning the air down. Because my shivering pleas of "I THINK I'M SUFFERING FROM HYPOTHERMIA!" and "THE GIRLS HAVE FROSTBITE!" seem to be falling on deaf ears. And speaking of deaf ears, I think the entire metropolitan area of Birmingham knows what my parents have on their television set at all times.

Perhaps this is a brilliant scheme on my parents' part to ensure we stay the shortest time possible. Or perhaps my parents are Eskimos in need of hearing aids.

Three days down; at least 28 to go. My husband will pay. Oh, yes, he will pay.

Friday, August 28, 2009


My husband was out of town for work so I decided to turn in extra early and get a good night's sleep. At around 1:00 am I was dreaming of lazing around a river Down Under with Daniel Craig. Drip, drip, drip, the river softly whispered as Danny (he said I could call him Danny) paraded around in that fetching blue bathing suit he wore as James Bond. Then suddenly, the river started dripping wildly, and I begin feeling pelts of water on my forehead. "Make it stop Danny!" I yelled as I awoke in what I thought was a cold sweat but was actually water emerging steadily from my ceiling. AND MY HUSBAND WAS OUT OF TOWN. FOR A BALL GAME. WITH CLIENTS. HAVING FUN. (I will write a whole separate post on how I plan to torture him FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE for this...)

I look around and find water seeping -- and in some places gushing -- from various light fixtures and then suddenly hear what sounds like a river rushing through the baby monitor. I flew downstairs, whipped open the girls' bedroom door and see water pouring out of their ceiling light. Miraculously, they are dry and still asleep. Until the carbon monoxide detector starts going off. Because I guess if you're a carbon monoxide detector and you fill up with water you are under the mistaken impression that those in your charge are about to die. Even when your batteries are removed you don't stop. So the whole neighborhood can hear you and you can render your owners deaf. "They might go deaf but at least they won't die of carbon monoxide poisoning!" your clever manufacturer must have reasoned.

The fire department is called because there is no other way to turn off the detector. Samantha Jones would have been pleased with the crop of firemen who were sent. Had I looked a little better, I might have been too. The (very hot) fire fighters determine there is no carbon monoxide leak, turn off the now blaring alarm and leave, telling me on their way out that the ceiling and floors will soon start to warp due to all the water damage. It is now 7:00 am, my husband is on a plane home and seven hours later we are at the airport so the girls and I can stay with my parents until our place is inhabitable which COULD TAKE A MONTH.

So, people, I can't think of anything amusing to say. But two things have slightly cheered me up:

1. Ed was caught cheating on Jilly again at this bar and apparently Us Weekly will publish the gory details in the next issue.

2. actually published a piece I submitted. They didn't send back a rejection asking if I had "the nous" to send it to multiple web sites, so for that I thank them. I planned on linking to it but then it occurred to me it has my real name attached and then my blog would no longer be anonymous... If I did that I might not be able to complain about my husband ad nauseam anymore. I might actually have to say nice things about him and nobody wants that. But I would like to thank Wendi Aarons who suggested I submit to McSweeneys. I love Wendi Aarons!!! And you should too.

Anyway, I will be writing for the next month (at the very minimum, when do contractors ever finish jobs on time???) from Birmingham, Alabama. Tomorrow I plan to scout out the childhood home of Courteney Cox with my two kids in tow and yell through a bull horn "Coco Cox Arquette, please report to the lawn for a playdate!" Who knows? Maybe the Cox-Arquettes are visiting too.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Rapid / Rabid Squirrel

Two parks near our house have been overrun with crazy-eyed squirrels who are not scared of humans, probably because some freak thinks it's a good idea to feed them. I don't like squirrels -- they are really just rats with the enviable ability to scoot quickly up trees -- but given they are innately afraid of people I never paid them much attention. But lately there is a brave breed of squirrel inhabiting our neighborhood playgrounds here on Chicago's north side. They brazenly jump into strollers, sniffing for Cheerios and graham crackers and the like. When you approach, they look up, give a snarl and go back to hunting around in your diaper bag. I'm not kidding -- one squirrel had its entire upper body wedged INSIDE MY DIAPER BAG. I was so nervous I threw an abandoned broken frisbee at it, quickly gathered up the girls and exited the premises. (Note: Rabid squirrels DO NOT like frisbees thrown at their heads. PETA, bite me.)

So I left up in arms and grumbling that I was going to call our alderman and the Chicago Park District to TAKE BACK OUR PARKS or similar, perhaps adding in that my children's safety had been compromised. In reality their lives were probably in no danger until I hurled the frisbee, but I plan to leave that part out. Yet as I picked up the phone this morning to place this call, I wasn't sure what to say. "Umm, hi, a squirrel was mean to us at the park and tried to steal our Cheerios. He was, well, gray and very squirrelly ... FIND HIM AND KILL HIM." Really, here in America's Third Most Miserable City, surely the local government has better things to do than track down a cereal-loving squirrel, albeit a very aggressive one, right? As of now, I am drafting a strongly worded letter. I'm better on paper than on the phone.

Oh, and you're probably wondering who this lovely couple is and why their portrait accompanies this post. I have no idea who they are. But when I went to Google Images and typed in "rapid squirrel attack" their photo popped up. Note I mis-typed and put in "rapid" instead of "rabid." Were these folks attacked by a very fast squirrel? Do they race squirrels? Is it because the wife sort of looks like a squirrel? Perhaps we'll never know. And I'm okay with that.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Target Circles


Target sucks my will to live. First of all, I need to set aside like five hours for a trip there. It's only 10 minutes from my house, but once there it's like I'm caught in some kind of black hole of discount shopping wherein I walk around and around and around still unable to find what I need. Did you ever notice nobody seems to work there? Maybe that's why the prices are so low -- they DON'T HAVE TO PAY ANYBODY.

On Friday I went there for a very specific purpose and before entering the premises I said to myself in a pep talk, "You are here for a very specific purpose. You need two Dora cups, two Elmo cups and two pails and shovels. That's it. In and out!"

Several hours and $210.62 later I emerged with the cups but no pail or shovel and about a dozen pajama sets that say random things like "I Love My Mom" and "My Dad Rocks." In theory I am opposed to message clothing for children. They seem to scream insecurity on the part of the parents. As in "You know how I know I'm cool? MY KID'S T-SHIRT SAYS SO." But the girls needed some new jammies and they were so damn inexpensive you figure, why not? Nobody will see them in their pjs anyway.

See? That's how they get you. You buy a bunch of really cheap crap and you leave feeling all proud of yourself for the bargain basement prices but then you look at your receipt and realize you've been duped.

So the pail and shovel... The girls love this one park we go to that actually provides pails and shovels but you can't take them with you (well, I guess you could but I think that's called stealing) so I decided I'd get them their own. Who knew the degree of difficulty in such a task.

I wander around Target for a good 45 minutes checking every possible section where they could possibly have a pail and shovel. During this time, I see not one person who actually works there. I saw a gal donning a red t-shirt that read "STAFF" and stalked her down only to realize she worked at a bar and still reeked of whatever industry night cocktail lounge she hit after her shift. Incidentally, she didn't seem inclined to help me find pails and shovels for toddlers.

As I turn the corner near the Play-Doh I spot a fellow speeding off at a good clip toward a door I suspect was the break room wherein all of his colleagues watch befuddled shoppers on hidden cameras and laugh as they munch on donuts and sip stale coffee. I galavanted after him, running like a wild boar was chasing me and my cart, and caught him just in time for this helpful exchange to take place:

Me: (huffing) Can you tell me where I can find pails and shovels?

Him: (blank stare)

Me: Ummm, you know... Pails and shovels?

Him: (blank stare)

Me: Like sand... and beaches... and plastic thingies that kids like to play with...

Him: (glimmer of awareness at my description) Oh, hmmm, did you check the toy section?

Me: Yep.

Him: Did you check housewares?

Me: Mmm-hmmm.

Him: Did you check the aisle where they have stuff for summer?

Me: I've checked the toy section, housewares, shoes, greeting cards, batteries and every other aisle in the whole store as far as I know.

Him: (blank stare returns)

Me: So I was hoping you could help point me in the right direction...

Him: Well we had them in the spring. (Now gaining confidence and authoritative tone). Most people buy beach accessories (Ed note: big word!) in the spring.

Me: So you no longer have them?

Him: Did you check the clearance aisle?

Me: (walk away without answering and ultimately without the "beach accessories" I had spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

David Soul Lives

My girls woke up yesterday morning and immediately began yelling at me "Park! park! park!" I think they might be allergic to our house as they can't wait to get the hell out of it every day. I'm like some park-mongering zombie, taking them from park to park to park all day long, only coming home for their nap and then dinner. It's like Ground Hog Day every day, except Bill Murray isn't there to keep me company. I usually even take their lunch with us because they inevitably go ape-shit when I try to take them home before naptime. Who's the boss around here? C'est ne pas moi.

So yesterday as they verbally assaulted me first thing (BEFORE I HAD COFFEE!!!) I looked outside and at the forecast (since having kids I'm obsessed with and realized it was going to rain all morning. The thought of being in our house all morning while they banged on the closet door where I keep their shoes and hearing the word "park" a gazillion times was unappealing, so I decided to load them up in the car and take them to that indoor playroom I mentioned many moons ago where they blared "Like a Virgin" over the sound speakers. I have not attempted the "car by myself" trick (degree of difficulty 10) since I locked one of the twins inside WITH THE KEYS.

Stay with me, peeps, I have a point. So we get to the playroom all still alive and with me actually in the car with them this time and we all (even me) have a great time. Because while the girls went nuts trying on hats and sliding down slides and beating a Barbie to a pulp I was treated to blasts from the past such as "Don't Give Up On Us, Baby" by David Soul, who was either Starsky or Hutch, whomever is the blond. I mean, they don't make music like this anymore. Also for my listening pleasure: "Last Dance" by Donna Summer before she got all religious and uppity and Mariah Carey's "Vision of Love" before she broke up with that music mogul who bossed her around and made her wear outfits appropriate for her figure.

PS -- Don't you think a "best of" David Soul album is a little aggressive? I mean, didn't the guy have just that one hit?

PSS -- Mariah Carey used to be cute. What happened?

PSSS -- If you only do one thing for yourself today, click on the "Don't Give Up On Us, Baby" link. It'll transport you back in time. A time before crow's feet and spider veins and children who scream "PARK!" at you abusively at 6:45 am.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Wedding Bell Blues

Do you know that song? It's an oldie but goody so to speak. But today I'm not talking about a girl trying to get a guy to marry her but whom to take once she does. NOT TWO TODDLERS. And certainly not two toddlers who when you say "shhhhh" as the bride starts down the aisle they holler "Pig, pig!"

This had little to do with the stature of the impending betrothed and more to do with the fact that when I say "shhh" I usually follow it up with "the pigs are sleeping" referring to our nighttime routine wherein we pretend their ceramic pigs are going "night night" when they are. So, yes, my kids yelled "Pig!" as the bride walked down the aisle. I figure we don't even owe the obligatory gift certificate from Crate and Barrel now -- we've already given a gift that keeps on giving.

Let this be a lesson to the unmarried never to invite children to their wedding. That and the fact their parents won't have a very good time. Despite that bar you see in the background of the photo, we were unfortunately not able to hit it.

Does parenting get any easier? Just asking.

PS -- Please note twin on right is still orange, which luckily for us went with the wedding color themes.

The "Nous"

I stopped submitting items for possible publication years ago, mainly because handling rejection is not one of my strong suits. I've been sifting through boxes lately and came across my favorite rejection letter ever. It's from the then agent of Dave Barry to whom I sent a large package of random writing samples with absolutely no proposal regarding what I planned to do with it or exactly for what project I wanted him to represent me. I also suggested he visit my web site, which at the time was a mentally imbalanced ode to Larry David. Here is the agent's response verbatim in what appears to be a TYPE-WRITTEN (as in a typewriter) letter:

Dear L.:

Thanks for your Fed Ex full of frothy exuberance. It's clear that you are an intelligent and amusing woman, quite capable of writing an engaging book. Unfortunately, we are trying to reduce the number of our commitments these days, not add to them.

You probably had the nous to send out simultaneous Fed Exes to a number of agents, and I trust you'll snag a good one. Someone your own age, or thereabouts, and fully conversant with the higher tech. I blush to confess that I know nothing of cyberspace (is it still called that?), have no website you could visit and wonder what broadbands are.

The best of luck to you and who(m)ever. And thanks for thinking of Fox Chase as a possibility. Alas.

A.L. Hart

I wrote back a rambling note and told him I most certainly DID NOT have the "nous" to send out simultaneous Fed Exes and asked if he had any idea how much Fed Ex cost or if he still used the Pony Express. I also indicated I did not want someone my age "or thereabouts" representing me because everyone my age was a moron. He kindly sent me a second note thanking me for my "pertinacity" and said he thinks I'll "do very well" but he cannot represent me. I sent back a third note letting him know I heard Dave Barry was retiring (I hadn't) and that I think he will need 15% of my earnings to keep his lifestyle afloat. I was greeted with no further letters from him.

In other news, I am still recovering from taking two toddlers to a wedding this past weekend and wish I had the nous to recognize in advance that my kids would not take well to travel, holy matrimony or barbecue mini-meatball appetizers. Photos to come.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dancing with Naked Drug Addicts

People, I've been in a bad mood for about a year now. But the news that Macy Gray will be on Dancing With the Stars may stave off my inevitable foray into mood enhancing medication. For more thoughts on the line-up, kindly visit here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Like Sands Through the Hour Glass...

So are The Days of Our Lives. My point? Okay, so the very hilarious Wendi Aarons kindly asked me to do a guest post over on her site. I had the pleasure of meeting Wendi and besides her wit she actually looks like a prettier version of Sami from The Days of Our Lives. Except I'm fairly certain Wendi hasn't had four marriages annulled (have they not heard of divorce in Salem?) or stole her sister's husband at the alter or almost went to the electric chair for killing a fiance or fiddled with various DNA tests so nobody in Salem knows who the hell is related to who. But, hey, those would be fun rumors to start about her!

While over at Wendi's site, please read her letter concerning Always maxipads, would you? It was published by (those f#$@ers still owe me a reply on something I submitted) and I literally cried at one point. (At Wendi's letter, not the fact McSweeneys hasn't replied to me. Although eventually I might. Cry that is. KEEP UP PEOPLE.)

Why the Dora pic to accompany this post? That's what my guest post is about. Seriously people, explaining myself relentlessly is getting tiresome.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Aren't You a Little Short for a Storm Trooper?

Hi George Lucas! You aren't exactly my target audience but something tells me you peruse my blog on occasion when you're not kicking yourself silly for casting that Hayden Christensen person as a young Luke or old Luke or future Darth Vader or whoever the hell he was supposed to be. George, "prequels" confuse me. START AT THE BEGINNING when you're making a series of movies, would you? Incidentally, has Hayden worked since? But enough about poor performances in a supporting role and your responsibility thereof.

Let me be direct: Are you working on the 79th installment of your (very very lucrative) Star Wars franchise? Well, look no further! I'm not sure if she's more of a baby Yoda, a cuter jawa or perhaps a hip hop Princess Leia. Despite your questionable past choices (did Hayden have compromising photos of you?) I'll leave the role she should play up to your (hopefully improved) judgement. And the best part? There's another one EXACTLY LIKE HER. Two future (or past?) Princess Leias for the price of one! Despite your wealth (estimated by Forbes as two gazillion bazillion dollars) I bet you're the kind of guy who hasn't forgotten his roots and knows a bargain when he sees one.

And speaking of bargains, I expect my cut as their momager.

I'm kind of tempted to end with "may the force be with you" but I bet everyone says that to you and it's pretty corny when you think about it. Which you should. Think about it that is. Much less corny of course if you give my kids a starring role in your next film.

PS -- My girls don't like people, robots and (I think this goes without saying) Wookies. Their mom likes Harrison Ford.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bedtime and Dead Guys

There is nothing I had to do in the corporate world that comes close to being as hard as orchestrating bedtime solo with twins. Well, except this one time, at 4:59 pm on a Friday, I was charged with finding an illustrator to create a picture of Shakespeare that had to look EXACTLY like some other illustrations of historic figures to be completed by Monday morning and every ad agency employee was already two martinis in at some trendy happy hour spot and I had to have an emergency root canal on Saturday (still without having procured an illustrator) and then by the grace of God my roommate at the time worked for Leo Burnett and was able to hook me up with someone and then on Monday when I handed in this illustration (pleased as punch with myself by the way) I was asked if I was sure the illustration was of Shakespeare and not Galileo and my answer was "yes I am very sure" when in fact I had no idea. But BESIDES THAT, I find doing bedtime alone with twins the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Which is why it's a good thing my husband only travels every so often for work.

First you need to give them a bath, and usually I have to lure them into said bath. "Dora wants to play with you!" I've been sing-songing like a freak since I bought some bath toys where you can stick Dora and Boots, her globe-trotting monkey friend, on the wall. So once I get one girl into the tub the other may run away (naked and often peeing on the family room rug) but I can't leave one in the bath to go chase the urinating one down because everyone knows you can't leave a toddler alone in the bath for even one second. So I call from the bathroom entry trying to entice the other one back from whatever the hell she is now doing (I don't know because, as mentioned, I can't leave the bathroom). Finally, with two children bathed I need to hoist them both out while simultaneously trying to dry them so they don't go speeding off and crack their heads open because they are still wet and can slip on the tiled floor.

Next: PJ time. They currently insist on choosing which pj to wear to bed, which inevitably turns into them standing there looking at jammies for what seems like hours as if they were choosing a dress for the senior prom and then getting pissed once the jammies are on with one wanting whatever footie-thing the other one is wearing.

So then milk (still from a bottle at 20 months old mind you), bedtime snack and a Dora. They now want SPECIFIC episodes, often conflicting with one yelling "Beach Dowa!" and the other demanding "Choo choo Dowa!" and I try to reason with them ("choo choo tomorrow, okay? Yay!"), sounding like a TV-addict enabling psycho.

We finally get back downstairs and have a ridiculously long routine that involves reading, singing, dancing and rubbing noses goodnight with a ceramic pig. Now, they've figured out if they yell, "Mama! Peeezzz!" I will come back in because before if they whined it was just a generic "I don't want to go to bed" whine but now it's a heart-wrenching plea addressed specifically to me and then they pretend to be deathly thirsty and proceed to drink more water than a camel can hold in its humps. So now, it's way past their bedtime and I have a lot of reality tv to watch and I'm too exhausted and I have to go to bed.

So I'm wondering if I can invite the man who instructed me to commandeer a quick-turnaround illustration of Shakespeare on my weekend off while suffering from a torturing toothache to come and put my kids to bed tonight since my husband is out of town and we can call it even.

PS -- In case you're curious, Shakespeare is on the left and wrote poetry and such. Galileo is on the right and is considered the "father of modern astronomy" which I think means he figured out which signs in the Zodiac are most compatible. Had he effectively warned that Pisces should never mix with Leo he could have saved me several thousand dollars and the hassle of filing a restraining order.