Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year!

As we kick 2010 to the curb, I would like to thank all 394 of my followers, as well as the 750 who read Fallen Princess through Google reader. Especially you commenters. You guys are awesome. You have made me feel like I could get back into writing for a living again.

There is one thing that confuses me, though, and that is some of my subscribers from distant locales. Frequent visitor from Bucharest, what is it that the Princess offers you? And, you as well, Jakarta resident. Please enlighten me.

No matter, near and far, I will be lifting a glass of Prosecco to you all tomorrow night, and with any luck, I'll even be able to stay awake until midnight.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Disturbing Dawn Doll



I would like to introduce you to this maimed Dawn doll from my childhood. I have no memory of how she lost the bottom half of her arm, and I was not one of those kids who engage in doll abuse. I do admire her chutzpah in wearing a newly fashionable cold-shoulder dress.

I was reunited with Dawn three or so years ago. I think it was Mother's Day, and I was at Glen Island Park in New Rochelle, N.Y. with my mother, my grandmother, my kids and my husband. As my mother and son fished, my grandmother reached into her pocket and handed me the doll.

I was startled by her hacked off stump, and I didn't recognize her. It's certainly possible that we used to hang out, as my once photographic memory has gotten a bit wobbly. I do recall playing with Dawn, the more diminutive Barbie knockoff, just not an injured one. "When her arm broke your mother didn't want you to have it any more," Grandma explained. "So I put it in a drawer." This did not surprise me, as the woman saved everything. She hung onto Dawn for almost forty years! She actually packed it and moved with it, twice. I imagine her thought process on this: "Some day Chrissy will find a man, God help her, and maybe she'll squeeze out a daughter before her ovaries dry up, and that daughter will certainly want the opportunity to play with a one-and-a-half armed doll from the late sixties." Grandma wanted permission to give Dawn to my daughter Violet, so I said ok. My mother, cranky from chemo, shook her head disgustedly.

The other day Violet and I were playing, and she wanted to develop a story line about how Dawn lost her arm. I suggested that she was injured by a shark while surfing, inspired by an article we had done while I was at ym. Violet loved that.

You've got to cherish your family heirlooms, such as they are.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thongs Make My Skin Crawl

Look, I'd rather not be uncomfortable. And I've reached an age where I don't give a shit if my panty lines show. My list of worries (1. college tuition for two children 2. inability to drive on highways 3. will daughter grow up to be a cheerleader? 4. finish barely started memoir/novel 5. get son to eat one green vegetable 6. is mole on hairline skin cancer? 7. why is the gas heater banging? is it about to blow up?) is way too long.

I've actually never cared about VPL, but in the late nineties, I was peer pressured into buying several pairs of pricey Hanro thongs. For a brief spell, I wore them with low-riding Rebecca Danenberg jeans, plagued by a string of cotton lodged deeply in my crack. Thong wearers, are you not feeling that? I could think of nothing else all day. When I became pregnant, I was liberated to let the instruments of torture rot in my drawer under piles of cozy cotton maternity briefs. Oooh, sexy.

I never looked back, until yesterday, when I was chastised by one of my yoga friends for wearing Gap bikinis which, apparently, are highly visible. She gathered support from a yogini who helpfully showed me the thong she was wearing, from a line cleverly named Commando. I would have said, I'm too old for that shit, but my yoga friend is actually 60! Which is way older even than me!

When I am on my deathbed, I am not going to be lamenting, I should have worn more thongs! (See previous post.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mortality

My mother called at 8 am this morning, and uncharacteristically got straight to the point: "I wanted to tell you that I am leaving for Florida today," she said. Cathy, her closest living friend, had died in her sleep. Mom was going to the funeral.

I held back my own tears and asked mom how she was doing. "There aren't many people you can call friend," she said, her voice catching. Cathy's daughter had come to the house to tell my mother. That's how close they were. This wasn't news she would be given over the phone.

I haven't seen Cathy in several years, but during my childhood, she was a constant presence in our lives. She was tiny, with strawberry blonde hair. Her husband, a burly firefighter that we called "Mr. Mickey," was my father's lifelong best friend. He looked like John Wayne and would often threaten to put mustard on our toes and eat them. They lived a block away from us. I remember many Sunday dinners in their Tudor home, and happy hours sitting in their living room, which had stone walls like a castle, listening to the adults talk about the old days. Watching Mickey fall asleep in the den during 60 Minutes. Trips to Loehman's and drives into the city for this outing or that Irish-American fundraiser.

I remember Cathy sitting at the counter in her kitchen, smoking and drinking coffee. Her wedding album was a favorite, because she had a winter wedding and wore a velvet gown, which seemed so exotic to me. Cathy had five children, one after the other, and we all went to high school together. She encouraged my writing. "You should write a book about us, about the crowd," she said. "The crowd," was what they called their group of friends, who had hung around together in an ice cream parlor in the South Bronx, and spent weekends in the Catskills.

One night, Cathy and my mother sat drinking Sambuca in our living room, arguing about politics. "You'll talk different in the morning, Mary, when you're sober," said Cathy. A line that was repeated endlessly over the years.

I feel sad for Cathy's family, and for my mother. Her other best friend died just months after Mom lost her husband at 52. Her mother died last September. And also (because it's always all about me), I'm thinking, hey, my life is likely 3/4 over, so I better get in gear.

I started on this train of thought watching "The Big C," where Laura Linney plays a woman in her 40s who is dying of cancer, desperately trying to enjoy the things she should have been enjoying all along. Then yesterday morning, this Nora Ephron interview on NPR hit home. She made a good argument for doing the things you love all the time, right now, because you might not get that many more chances. Here's an excerpt lifted from npr.com:

"You do get to a certain point in life where you have to realistically, I think, understand that the days are getting shorter, and you can't put things off thinking you'll get to them someday," she says. "If you really want to do them, you better do them. There are simply too many people getting sick, and sooner or later you will. So I'm very much a believer in knowing what it is that you love doing so you can do a great deal of it."

For Ephron, there was a moment that helped bring that realization vividly home. She was with friends, playing a round of "What would your last meal be?"

(Her pick, by the way: a Nate & Al's hot dog.)

"But (my friend) Judy was dying of throat cancer, and she said, 'I can't even have my last meal.' And that's what you have to know is, if you're serious about it, have it now," Ephron says. "Have it tonight, have it all the time, so that when you're lying on your deathbed you're not thinking, 'Oh I should have had more Nate & Al's hot dogs.'"

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

That's Miss Kelly, if you're nasty

So, I never change my name when I get married. I quite like the sound of it, and I've been Christina Kelly for too long to start calling myself something else. This despite the fact that people persist in naming their children Christina Kelly, some of whom grow up to torture me.

It can be inconvenient, now that I have two kids in school. There's a sentence of explaining involved in phone calls on their behalf: "This is Christina Kelly, and I am the mother of Dale and Violet Ross." I blame the extra use of breath on my husband Dalton, who didn't expect that I take his name, and is a very enlightened man in most matters (except for he pretends he doesn't know how to do laundry). But Dalton got all patriarchal when I wanted to give my son the hyphenated last name "Kelly-Ross." What two names join together more felicitously, I ask you?

I had to compromise, so we named our son Dale Kelly Ross, without the hyphen. I tried to pretend that Kelly was part of the last name for years, writing the full name on every form and thank you note, until the impending birth of our daughter. I also wanted to give Violet the middle name Kelly. That's when Dalton wised up to the fact that in my "compromise" I was merely pretending to let the children have only his last name. So then I had to give her a different middle name. Drat.

Sometimes I get called "Mrs. Ross," which makes me feel like I'm playing house. I never correct people, and it doesn't bother me; it's just not my name.

Recently, Violet's piano teacher pulled me outside and asked dramatically: "Is her last name Ross or Kelly?" I explained that her name was Ross, like her brother and father, and mine was Kelly. He looked at me like I was insane. "Why?" he demanded. I explained that I did not change my name when I got married. "Why not?" he persisted. I resisted the urge to say, are you kidding me? and mumbled something about being a writer. This seemed to satisfy him; you know those writers, always trying to be different.

I thought my decision was commonplace, but apparently, 77 to 95 percent of married women do change their names.

Weird.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The French are Different From You and Me

I've been obsessed with this Monday New York Times article about French working mothers. Not so much the part about the state-sponsored "vaginal gymnastics" coaching that all mothers receive to get them back into shape to make more babies. (Although it is pretty mind-boggling that the state provides postpartum punani care. Helpful, though not as useful as the free nursery school all French kids are entitled to.)

What I can't stop thinking about is the photograph of 31-year-old Fleur Cohen, a doctor, walking her four tiny children across the street to drop them off before heading to work at the hospital. She's carrying a baby in a sling while wearing stilettos and a sexy above-the-knee skirt. (I will spare you the details of my current outfit, but I assure you that it does not include stilettos.) All five of them look to be bathed and in clean clothes (a miracle in itself). Fleur is holding the hand of the second youngest, and the other two are walking unaided in the crosswalk.

First of all, how did Fleur manage to become a doctor and give birth to four children by age 31? (Is it all thanks to the vag gymnastics, which were designed to increase the birth rate?) And where in the hell is her husband, also a doctor? I guess he must have already sailed off to work, sans kids and, presumably, stilettos. Or maybe he is enjoying a petit dejeuner avec colleagues. The point of the NYT article is that while 82 percent of French mothers work, they also do the bulk of the childcare, and are expected to look gorgeous at all hours, so they are super exhausted. In addition, Fleur says she cooks dinner every night.

I hope she changes her shoes first.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Frenchy Fragrance


Fresca season ended on October 1. So I put away my summer perfume, Calyx and have been indulging in my fall favorite, Citrus Allegro by Le Prince Jardinier. Yes, it's citrusy, but it has a more subtle kick than the full-on grapefruit aroma of Calyx. I first found this enchanting scent in Paris about six years ago on a madcap girls' weekend with my friend Gigi. It was being sold at Deyrolle, a shop on the Rue Du Bac which carries taxidermy and educational posters from the 1800s. (I later read about the store and the actual prince who makes the stuff in Vanity Fair.)

This fragrance is perfect. Fresh, yet sophisticated. Not at all ladyish or synthetic. I used to have to go to Paris to restock every time I ran out, but then I discovered that, duh, it is available online.

My current bottle was a birthday gift from my long-suffering husband. I spritz it on and am immediately transported from this N.J. town with a fake French name to, if not Paris, then at least some chic suburb of Paris.

I now resist the urge to say, Voila!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fat Talk Free Week Starts October 18

1. Young girls are more afraid of becoming fat than they are of losing their parents.
2. After viewing images of female fashion models, seven out of ten women felt more depressed and angry than prior to viewing those images.
3. 54% of women would rather be hit by a truck than be fat.

I pulled the above facts from a press kit sent by Delta Delta Delta. The sisters of Tri Delt are promoting Fat Talk Free Week. They are challenging women and girls to refrain from saying such things as: Does this make me look fat? I'm so fucking huge!!! My hips are gigantic! My stomach is frigging disgusting. Or even: Have you lost weight?

I'm all about this initiative. I already never say things like that in front of my daughter. Sometimes I still do disparage my body with friends, even though I know better. I'm going to stop. You cut it out too. Don't wait until October 18. Just quit it now.

Note: They are also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/FatTalkFree

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Non-Yogic Yoga Bitching

I have been practicing yoga on and off for 15 years. Fifteen years! I started at Jivamukti Yoga when they were in the funky walk-up studio on Second Avenue in the East Village. Some friends were going to a class, and I joined them. The famous David Life, co-founder of Jivamukti with Sharon Gannon, was my first teacher there. He is an awesome instructor, and though I am quite inflexible, both in body and mind, I was immediately hooked on Jivamukti. I loved looking at his craggy face, ponytail and hoop earrings, and I think he used to wear purple leggings. Or at least I wore some. He was so calm, down to earth, yet spiritual. I came to rely on all the other teachers, too, and the relaxed way I felt after class. (And as it was winter and I was a freelance writer, my evening yoga class also inspired me to leave the apartment and interact with other humans.)

I chanted with Krishna Das, hit some Ananda Ashram retreats and showed up for at least three classes per week. I even learned to do full backbends for the first time in my life! By the time I got married 4 years later, I sometimes made it to class as many as five times a week, literally crawling out of my cubicle at Jane so the managing editor wouldn't catch me and make me stay at work.

After the wedding, I quickly become pregnant. I suffered from terrible morning sickness and was too exhausted to attend a rigorous class. I did a bit of prenatal yoga, and birthed my son with the aid of yoga breathing (and a nice epidural--AWW YEAH!!). When I was on maternity leave I would take him to a "mommy and baby" yoga class. My practice never really returned to its former glory, though. I had a full-time job and a baby, and soon after that a house and a commute.

Weeks after the move to the suburbs, I fell down the stairs while sweeping and broke my foot. I was in a cast for six weeks, and the minute they sawed it off, I was pregnant again. I very occasionally hit a prenatal yoga class. I had not a prayer of achieving a full back bend.

Two folded magazines later, I decided to become a full-time mother. While my daughter was in preschool, I slowly made my way back to yoga at an Anusara studio I can walk to. Like everything else, yoga has to be planned around the kids' schedules.

Okay. That was a lot more about my yoga history than I was planning to write. Here's my bitch: I went to class today, and I feel like crap. I blame this not on the teacher, who is one of the best I've ever known. It's just that I hate partner poses. Hate them. Always have, always will. The purpose of partner poses, in case you don't know from yoga and are still reading (although I don't know why you would be), is to demonstrate proper alignment. But, did I say I hate it? I'm often worried that I'm not doing the assist properly, and yet when the teacher gives instructions, I zone out.

Also, I dread the moment when the teacher says, "find a partner," and certain people don't turn to the person next to them, but instead look around for someone worthy. This happened to me today. The lady next to me, who I recognize from many classes, dissed me for a yogi in the back row. I halfheartedly located a spare person. She complained that she couldn't feel my assist. The assist was literally to squeeze the person's butt (or sits bones, in yoga parlance) simultaneously together and down. Who wants to do that to someone you don't know? And smell their butt smells? I mean, really? No amount of OMing is going to make that ok.

And then my partner proceeded to press down on me so hard that I quite literally have a pain in my ass. Ouch. I know the fact that I don't like partner poses says something negative about me. Perhaps it's that I can't comfortably work with people, trust them, do what they expect of me.

Or maybe I just don't want to smell their butts.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Indignity of the Day


On Thursday, my friend alerted me to this flattering post about Fallen Princess on dailyfrontrow.com. It was very gratifying. I felt slightly less irrelevant, for at least an hour. I especially enjoyed it when my husband emailed me the following: "You look hot in that [five-year-old] picture." (Side note: that guy next to me was a something on America's Next Top Model. He was British, so his name was probably Nigel. We were seated together because it was an ELLEgirl fashion show, and I was the editor-in-chief, and one reflexively tries to drum up "celebrities" for these things. As you can tell from our body language, I had nothing to say to him, and he had nothing to say to me. Seated on his other side was my friend Laurie Trott, ELLEgirl fashion director. You can see how interested she was in chatting with Nigel.)

Yesterday, when I was still feeling vaguely buoyed by the dailyfrontrow attention, one of my poker buddies contacted me about writing an online column for a site she is editing. I was a little excited until I found out the fee: $50. Which is roughly the amount I would have to pay a babysitter to keep my kids from killing each other while I poured my rapidly depleting stores of creative energy into said column. I respectfully said I'd have to think about it. She nicely informed me that this was the going rate for the type of work she was talking about. Didn't really make me feel better.

When I graduated college, the standard fee for an article was $1 a word. Now, 27 years later, most of the work that comes my way, which is for the internet, is a fraction of that. Bummer.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Hate My Birthday

I will be 49 tomorrow. There are no special plans.

When I was a kid, our birthdays were low key: cake and a can of Hawaiian Punch with our cousins, possibly pin the tail on the donkey if we were lucky. My dad took me out for surf and turf once in my early teens, just the two of us.

I turned 18 shortly after arriving for my freshman year at Colgate, and some friends from the dorm suggested we get dressed up and have cocktails at the Colgate Inn. I could henceforth drink legally. I think I was also thrown in the lake, in keeping with school tradition.

In my 20s, I liked giving myself parties. Keggers, usually. People I had never seen before plus my friends, and possibly my brother, drank beer in the backyard of my building on Sullivan Street. One year I got really fancy and half-ironically rented a Knights of Columbus Hall. A friend in the art department of Footwear News, where I worked as a writer, pasted up the Xeroxed invitation. We used a cheesecake photo taken by another work friend. I wore an off-the-shoulder black Lycra dress and stiffly moussed 80's hair, gazing to the the left like Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles. The invitation said: "It's My Party and I'll Cry if You Don't Come."

I continued on this path through my thirties. I think it was my 37th when I had friends meet me at Windows on the World. My 40th was four days after 9/11. The burning smell permeated the air of our apartment on Washington Square, and a party would have been inappropriate. But it's not like I had plans anyway. Drawing attention to my birthday no longer seemed cute or funny, just sad.

Each year since, I have had two opposite urges on my birthday: I would like to get in bed and pretend it isn't happening, yet I wish fervently that a parade and fireworks would be organized in my honor.

Tomorrow, I have a writing deadline and a dermatologist's appointment. Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cuts Like a Knife

Not long ago, the phone rang. It was a boy named Greg who lives across the street, a college student whose sister sometimes babysits for my children. He told me he has just been hired to sell Cutco knives, and would I please let him come by and do a practice sales call? "Honestly," he said, "you don't need to buy a thing."

Of course I said yes. My husband thought it sounded like a great idea, especially since it involved no expenditure of cash.

Greg arrived at the appointed time, 7 pm on a warm summer Sunday, and set himself up in our dining room. He had brought some sample knives, a piece of rope, a morsel of leather, and laid them all out on our table. He told me to bring in two of my best knives.

I sat across from him and tried to exude encouragement. He had me cut through the leather with my knife, a Wustof, which is pretty good and cut fairly well. But the Cutco knife, ergonomically designed, pleasing to hold---it cut through that leather like it was butter. And with the Cutco in my hand, it was like the rope was applesauce.

I began to covet the knives. They are expensive (nearly $1000 for a full set!), sure, but just last Thanksgiving my Uncle George pointed out that I didn't have a proper carving knife. Maybe I would just put in a little order for the carving knife and fork, which would set me back something like $140.

When Greg said "I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't ask you to buy something," I declined to buy the full set, or even the half set, but conceded to take the carving knife and fork. While he wrote up the order, I went upstairs for my checkbook.

I was intercepted by my nearly apoplectic husband. He did not want me to spend the money. I acquiesced, mainly so he would not bust a blood vessel. Something didn't feel right, though. I am not a spendthrift. I should be allowed to make my own less-than-frugal decisions, especially if they help neighbor children and provide me with gorgeous carving knives.

So a few days later, as I sat poolside with my mother, I asked her if she had ever heard of Cutco. I think Greg said the company was started in 1949.

"Yes," she said. "Aunt Jean had a Cutco party right when I was first married [1959] and I bought a whole set for Grandma." I was shocked. "They were $1000!" I said. And also, I remember my Grandmother cooking the huge meals she routinely served with nothing more than a rusty butter knife and a bent teaspoon.

"They cost a lot," she agreed. "But Grandma never used them. She called them 'Mary's knives,' and they hung on a wall."

My grandmother, the daughter of immigrants who worked as domestic help on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, never opened expensive gifts. Her refusal of finery was like a repudiation of the excess of her parents' employers. We once went to the Frick Museum, a former home of a fabulously wealthy family, and Grandma couldn't enjoy it at all. She hated to be reminded of people who had so much, while others had nothing. When she died in September 2009 at 94, her children found numerous unused silk slips and nighties dating back to the Second World War.

"Why wouldn't she use the Cutco knives?" I asked, though I thought I knew the answer. I was also thinking, how can I get my hands on those knives?

"She was superstitious," said Mom. " She thought that if you gave knives as a gift, you cut the relationship."

One of the many things that I didn't know about my grandmother, Mary Vorel Burr. RIP.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lots of things irking me today

In no particular order:

1. People who used the word boobs. It really bothers me. This particular annoyance came to mind this morning when I read a mention of the book "Boobs: A Guide to Your Girls." I especially hate it when women refer to their own breasts as boobs, or even worse, tits. It seems like a special kind of self-hatred. Please, ladies, refer to them as breasts. Give them the reverence they deserve.

2. In Jane Brody's column about BMI on Tuesday, she, or some hack doctor she quotes, says that it's thoroughly possible for a 125 pound, 5 foot 5 inch woman to be fat. Shut the front door. Jane, this is frigging impossible. I am resisting the impulse to say you are going senile.

3. An ad for a plastic surgeon in The Montclair Times today asks, "Do you suffer from cellulite?" Suffering? Really? I'm almost speechless. There is a lot of suffering in this world, to be sure, very little of it from cellulite.

4. Tracking down payment for freelance articles published in May. DRIVING ME BONKERS. It amounts to 600 measly dollars and the number of polite emails I have sent is staggering. I'm getting ready to name publications. PAY ME, NOW, MOTHERFUCKERS.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Yes, Ma'am

An article in today's New York Times condemns the word "ma'am." It quotes many broads who find usage of the word condescending.

In some prehistoric time when I was 35, and there were numerous magazines, some of which assigned me articles, for which they would then pay me, I wrote a similar piece for Index magazine. I think it was titled "Just Don't Call Me Ma'am" and it is now in a box somewhere in my attic, buried underneath piles of Christmas decorations, Thomas the Tank Engine, and assorted other crap.

The article was inspired by a trip to a record store (they had those back then, and they were usually staffed by cute, dismissive 22-year-olds with esoteric music taste). The clerk had the audacity to call me "ma'am" and I snapped bitchily at him: "Don't Call me Ma'am!" The poor child looked wounded, and my boyfriend gently suggested that I may have overreacted because the clerk was just trying to be polite.

To no avail. I had been made to feel old. This was a sin, an affront to all of womankind. I would have my revenge in the pages of Index magazine.

Now, of course, in my new life as upstanding suburban wife, stay-at-home mother and furtive blog writer, I am constantly referred to as ma'am. I have long since resigned myself to this fate, as 50 looms in the very near future. I now take it as it is offered, politely, if I notice it at all.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Tooth Fairy is a Flake

My 10-year-old son lost another tooth yesterday. They're coming out fast and furious now. I put it in a ziploc under his pillow, and when the tooth fairy went to claim it in exchange for $1, rooting around under the f-ing pillow while trying not to rouse the child, she couldn't find it.

Thus, when the boy woke up before 7 am, he came into my room, handed me the tooth, and said, a bit jaded, you forgot this.

Yeah, mister, I wanted to say. I'm the frigging tooth fairy. You're lucky I remembered this time, because more than once, in the midst of taking out the recycling, scooping the cat litter, viewing some mindless entertainment, flossing, starting the dishwasher, etc., I have completely forgotten to fulfill my tooth fairy duties. Honestly, I've never been invested in this myth, and I'm tired of this charade! You're ten, for the love of God.

Instead, I said, sweetly as I could muster in my pre-caffeinated state, do I look like the tooth fairy? And he smiled with relief.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Operation Leave it On the Curb

Our relatives are just TOO TOO generous with our kids (seriously---we're suffocating here guys!!!). I'm constantly getting rid of outgrown clothes, toys, books, sports equipment and assorted plastic crap. Clothes are easy to find homes for, but toys are tricky. The local Human Needs Food Pantry doesn't accept used toys, and no one else seems to, really. So I came up with Operation Leave it On the Curb. Our Fisher Price farm, ride-on fire engine and Smarty the Construction Robot have all left us in this manner.

I like to see who takes our castoffs. If no one picks up an item within 20 minutes, I feel very insulted. I track the curb periodically. Someone always takes it eventually. I recently had the pleasure of watching an overjoyed 2-year-old boy with my son's old fire engine (itself a hand-me-down from our neighbor). I think OLIOTC is the most environmentally sound way to clean.

Recently, a beloved neighbor of mine, a single mom with twin teenage boys, moved to another state. I didn't know her super well, but I saw her daily, she fed my cats when we were away, and she was the nicest woman you will ever meet. She basically got rid of EVERYTHING. First, she had a yard sale. She priced low and did a brisk business. But she couldn't get all the merchandise out to the lawn before the hordes started to come.

Over the course of the next week, my neighbor began giving me choice gifts: a set of silver-plated flatware from the thirties, a sideboard, Fire King dishes, an X Box for my son. On the curb, she put out a freegan's all-you-can-eat buffet: books of all kinds, lamps, cleaning supplies, kitchen ware, baseball gloves, bric a brac, jewelry, Stangl Pottery---everything she had accumulated over the years.

At first I tried to keep up. I put out the Lincoln Logs that no one has looked at in three years. Some Play Doh accessories that have been dissed since 2007. I began evaluating everything in my house for possible curbside abandonment. I threatened to put the kids on the curb if they didn't behave.

Then she started freaking me out. Perfectly good tennis rackets? Really? A lacrosse stick? Wouldn't the boys need anything in their new home?

I wanted to box everything up, learn to drive on the highway, rent a van, and deliver it to her. She was definitely getting her possessions down to 100, as the trend du jour dictates. And I couldn't handle it.

Right before she left, she asked me if I'd dispose of anything that wasn't taken in a few days. I had a charity pick up coming anyway, so it was easy. Among the booty was a child's bank, with $23 dollars in change inside! Literally throwing money away. My kids split that.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nicaraguan Fresca


My husband went to Nicaragua last month and augmented his usual cache of souvenirs (the hotel toiletry samples) with some elusive Nicaraguan Fresca. For those who didn't read my Memorial Day weekend post about Fresca, I'm obsessed. Please read it. Also, leave a comment.

Anyway, the Nicaraguan Fresca has sugar in it, and when I tasted it, it reminded me a bit of this Alka Seltzer with Lemon that I used to take when I had the flu. It didn't have the pleasing artificial bite of the American version. I quite like the can design though.

P.S. Sorry I haven't posted lately. I've been so depressed that no one from Fresca's marketing department has contacted me about sponsoring Fallen Princess. It's been hard to focus, frankly. Also, the room where my computer is has been at a steady temperature of 150 degrees.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Road Rage

Last Wednesday, at 9:15 am, I was waiting at a stop sign for my chance to turn right after dropping my daughter off at field hockey camp. Granted, I'm a cautious driver, but there was a fair amount of traffic as many other parents had also just dropped their daughters off.

Behind me, a driver honked very aggressively. In the sounding of her horn, she channeled all the rage of the universe. I waved her to go around me. Another honk, more enraged, if possible.

I turned off the car, and got out. From the relative safety of the curb, I observed a woman with silky blonde hair in a shiny, obnoxiously large car. She was wearing workout clothes. Clearly, she was late for kickboxing or spinning, or some other extremely important gym activity. Her face was twisted with fury.

I held up one finger. I wanted to say, "Your actions affect others. It is not all about you and the calories you must burn." But she teared off, leaning on the horn one more time for good measure.

I got back in the car, shaking, and was frazzled for the rest of the day.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Mother-Daughter Creators of Huge on What to Avoid When Doing a ‘Fat Camp’ Show

Here's another interview I did about Huge, on New York Magazine's website.
Okay bye.

Hey, "My So Called Life" Fans: Watch "Huge" Tonight


The ABC Family drama Huge, which is about teens at a weight loss camp named Camp Victory, is shocking for the number of genuinely plus-sized actors in the cast. The series is written by Winnie Holzman, creator of the legendary teen drama My So-Called Life, and writer of the book for Wicked, as well as her 24-year-old daughter, Savannah Dooley. It is based on a book from Alloy Entertainment, the behemoth that created Gossip Girl, Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars.


This subject matter is rarely properly dealt with on tv. So far the show seems to not be coming down hard on fat camps, nor arguing for them, but rather using the camp as a way to explore what it's like to be an overweight teenager. The tone is pretty serious. The main character, Willamina, a sarcastic girl who has been sent to the camp against her wishes, is played by Nikki Blonksy, best known for her role as the maniacally enthusiastic Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray.


Why did you want to do “Huge”?

It was a scripted show about plus sized people. And people forget that most of America is over a size 12-14. What the media feeds the kids is that you have to be a size 2 in order to be an actress or a singer, or whatever. And that’s not the case. You take someone like me, who is definitely not a size 2 or a 4, and I am living the dream. So I was so pleased to hear that they had the courage to make a show like this, with a full plus-sized cast, and we are just having the time of our life. What I’m getting so excited about is that people will be able to see that plus-sized people are not just there for the joke or the laugh. We have the same issues that skinny people have. We have body issues. We have eating disorders. We deal with everything in this show that thin people deal with. Just because we’re plus-sized doesn’t mean we don’t deal with it.


Did you have a prior opinion about weight loss camps before you did this show?

My opinion is if the kids themselves say they want to go, I think they are perfectly fine. If the parents are pushing camp, like in my character's circumstance, then it is not ok- that’s sending a message to the child that you’re not good enough for us, and no child should ever have to go through that.


Will is so different from the role you’re most known for, Tracey Turnblad in Hairspray. How did you feel about playing a darker, more sarcastic character?

I loved Tracy—don’t get me wrong—but Will is so much fun to play. I didn’t want anyone else to play her. I kept telling my agent, I have to play this girl. If anyone is going to play this sarcastic girl and still be likable, I have to. It’s a different side of me.


Were you nervous about doing the striptease that Will does in the first episode?

That was actually Day One, first shot, and I just went for it, There were over 200 people there, watching it. I just said, you know what Nikki, here’s your time, let it all hang out. I just had so much fun. My mom was there, and she gave me thumbs up, and it was a go. I just did the striptease like I was brushing my teeth. It was no big deal.


Was that your first strip tease?

Yes.


But maybe not your last.

Maybe not. Never say never.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My father died 20 years ago today.

I still miss him.

Colon cancer killed him at 58. When they first found the tumor in his colon, he had surgery to remove it. During the operation I sat in the waiting room at New Rochelle Hospital with my mother. All I remember is that the surgeon came out when he was finished, and said: "It was very big. The size of a grapefruit. But I think I got it all."

The tumor had grown so large because my father didn't get himself checked for years. He had misdiagnosed the pain in his back. I remember him always having back problems. When I was 13 he was in traction, and to pass the time, he hand-hooked rugs. I still have a lovely floral rug that he made for me in my guest room. Sometimes he said his back problem was caused by an injury he got playing Gaelic football; other times, as I recall, it seemed to be related to a fall from a telephone pole. My father used to repair telephone wires for a living.

Finally they found the source of this particular pain, and so he had the surgery, and chemo, which seemed to cure him for a while, until it didn't.

He died right after Father's Day. I don't know why, but I bought him a large mahogany wall clock that year. He was so frail, and when he opened it, he sobbed a heart breaking sob. Why had I bought him such a gift?

Very near the end, he was thin as a rail, and he wanted a cigarette. My brother Robert could not deny him. I watched him smoking it, and he seemed a corpse already, but I knew that Robert had done the right thing.

I spent the night before he died at my parents' house, and I was able to tell him that I loved him, and he heard me. My family of origin is not big on "I Love You." It is so rarely spoken amongst us that I can barely choke it out, and if I do say it, it seems like some sort of breach of etiquette. People avert their eyes, then make jokes. We don't say it, but we know it.

The afternoon of June 23, 1990, it was sunny and beautiful, and my brother took a few of us, me and some cousins, out in the little motor boat that my father had recently insisted on buying for him. (For me, he had thoughtfully purchased an air conditioner for my stifling New York apartment.) The sun glittered on the water. We were quietly waiting.

When we returned a few hours later, my mother and my parents' closest friends sat around the dining room table. I glanced their way as I went directly to my father's bedside.

"Chris..." It was Mr. Maye, my father's lifelong best friend. He didn't need to say anything else.

My father's hands were folded on his chest.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Jewish Goodbye

After reading my post about the Irish Exit the other day, a Jewish friend of long-standing sent me the following message.

"Did you know that there is something known as the Jewish Goodbye? It's when you start your goodbyes and end up walking out the door 30 minutes later. The amount of time increases exponentially depending on how many other Jews there are in the room.

Given the right circumstances I am completely capable of the Jewish goodbye. If there are enough Jews in the room the Jewish goodbye takes you over like a life force. There just keeps being one more Jew to connect with before you get out the door. Or non-Jew, but two Jews can really maximize the potential of the Jewish Goodbye. And if the Jews in the room are relatives, one might even expect to get sucked into the Jewish goodbye's vortex for at least one third of the amount of time one spent at the gathering itself."


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ode to “Sunday Bloody Sunday”


U2's 1983 song "Sunday Bloody Sunday" has been running through my head since last night, when I read about British Prime Minister David Cameron’s apology for the Bloody Sunday killings. In 1972, British soldiers murdered 14 innocent protestors in Northern Ireland. Cameron’s unequivocal statement, which came after an expensive investigation by the British, has impressed many with its bold apology-like qualities. How often does a politician, or a corporate executive, or anyone, really, just come out and admit, “we were totally, totally wrong”? More often people apologize with a caveat. And that’s not a real apology.


Others are less impressed by the apology. For one thing, why did it take 38 years? And why did the Prime Minister who was in office in 1972 cover up the soldiers’ guilt?


I’m no expert, but this debate about the “Irish Troubles” is in my bones. I grew up in a house where it was argued regularly. So after folding up my New York Times last night, I immediately posted a live video from ’83 (the one where Bono waves the white flag) on my Facebook page, along with the song’s first line: “I can’t believe the news today.” And also a comment about his sweet mullet. I don’t think any of my friends had any idea what I was on about.


I love this song, and I love U2. I was 10 when Bloody Sunday happened, and a senior in college fresh from a Rolling Stone internship when War, the album “Sunday Bloody Sunday” opens, was released. I would ride the Stamford Local to Manhattan from my house in Westchester wearing a purple Esprit mini and listening intently to the cassette on my Walkman. It’s a fucking great song, from the military style drums that open it, to the pain in Bono’s voice, to the soaring message of hope for a peaceful future: “We can live as one.”


Bono was worried “Sunday Bloody Sunday” would be taken as a rallying cry to fuel the endless cycle of violence in Ireland. He would always introduce “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by saying it wasn’t a rebel song. Because after Bloody Sunday, the retaliation was violence. And the British Embassy in Dublin was burned down. And there was a lot of smack talk about the British amongst Irish-Americans.


The house I grew up in, the Kelly house, was no exception. I have memories of conversations around the table between my parents and their friends, England get out of Ireland this, the Protestants that. I was taught: You are Catholic, the Catholics are being oppressed and the Protestants suck. I still have vague guilt over raising my kids in a Protestant church. I feel culturally Catholic, but the Pope could learn a lesson about how to apologize from David Cameron.


It seems to me that current popular music is rarely about anything important. I mean, I guess there is MIA, but for every MIA you have a Gaga and a Miley Cyrus and a Taylor Swift. The hits are all about partying. I like party music, and I enjoy belting out cheesy party songs in the car with my kids, and actually, party music can be transcendent, but we need more than just party music. I hope Bono’s back feels better soon. I really want to know what he thinks about all this.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dear Sofia Coppola: Please make a movie about Monet. Thank you.


If you are anywhere near New York and have even a passing interest in Claude Monet, you should view the unbelievable show of his Water Lilies paintings at the Gagosian Gallery at 522 W. 21st Street by the time it closes on June 26. My friend Stuart, who is very knowledgeable about art, took me to see it yesterday. These paintings were borrowed from art collectors and museums around the world, and it's the first time Monet's early, more detailed Water Lilies paintings have been exhibited with his later, very modern renditions of the same scene.

I remember seeing a Monet show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I was in high school. I bought a poster of a Water Lilies painting. I brought it up to Colgate and hung it on the wall of my freshman dorm room, while wearing skin-tight designer jeans, feather earrings and Candies. I quickly adapted my wardrobe to the climate, culture and steep hills of my alma mater, but the poster remained. My super-preppy freshman roommate said she was a little worried by my clothes and taste in dorm decor, but we ended up getting along great.

But I digress, as usual.

Stuart, my friend and art guide, was saying that these paintings are so familiar, people have forgotten how groundbreaking they were. Monet, of course, was a rich philanderer as well as a genius. I think his life would be great material for a Sofia Coppola movie. With music by Phoenix.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rules Are Made to Be Broken

When I turned 40, four days after September 11, 2001, I instituted a No Miniskirts After 40 Rule. I have no idea why I introduced this initiative. I must have been suffering from some sort of post-traumatic stress/midlife crisis combo.

In my twenties and thirties I wore the shortest skirts imaginable without batting an eyelash. One Betsy Johnson number that comes to mind fell maybe an inch below the crotch, and was cinched with a sort of bondage belt. I felt this was appropriate for office wear. If truth be told, I think I was a little conceited about my legs. I don't like to brag, but my legs are still holding up pretty nicely. Who knows why I have deprived myself of miniskirt wearing for all these years?

I think I started playing tennis because the No Miniskirts After 40 Rule is waived for sports attire. What, you didn't know about this? And then I went to Paris last year, and when you are shopping for clothes in Paris all sorts of rules no longer apply. I bought a "knee-length" dress, or at least that's how I rationalized it. Once back in NJ I had to admit it is more like mid-thigh. I love that thing. I can't wear it enough.

Fuck it. I'm wearing minis again. I'll reassess when I turn 50.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I've lost a follower

Last time I looked, I had 285. Now, 284. I don't handle rejection well. Just ask any of my ex-boyfriends or Axl Ganz.

I'm obsessed with knowing why. Do I post too frequently? Not often enough? Is it because my writing is boring? Too personal? Not personal enough? Superficial? Do I offend? Am I more funny sad than funny ha-ha? Am I not thin enough?

Did my former follower think, "why am I, a 17-year-old girl, following this old lady?" Or maybe, "why do I, stay-at-home mom, subject myself to giddy posts about Glee?"

And for what reason did I even start this blog? I have a busy family, three cats, a falling-apart house, a frustrating freelance writing career, a sputtering yoga practice and an unfinished novel, all of which need my immediate attention.

Is it better to have had followers and lost them than not to have had followers at all?

Yeah, I went there.

The Irish Exit

I was at a fun party on Saturday night, dancing poolside with the ladies while overlooking the Manhattan skyline, when I realized that two friends had left without saying goodbye. Now this is one of my trademark moves, because I hate a long goodbye. I can't stand it, actually. When I am ready to go, it comes on suddenly and strongly, and I want to get the hell out, never mind the niceties. I like to "phantom," as my husband calls it. This becomes difficult when you have children to extricate from games of running bases and swimming pools, and a husband who has been bred to never appear rude. I mean, I'll thank the host, but then I'm out.

I confronted my friend about her unannounced departure and she referred to it as "The Irish Exit." I immediately loved the sound of this expression, so I looked it up online. Apparently it arose to describe those times where you've had too much to drink, so you leave discreetly before your friends can confiscate your car keys. There's even a Facebook page devoted to The Irish Exit, where fans contribute their own stories of Irish Exits. They all seem to be about getting completely wasted.

Damn. I hate an Irish ethnic slur.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lament of the Stay-at-Home Mom

I didn't post yesterday or today because, chronologically: my husband left to spend a week in Nicaragua; I was informed that half of our four-year-old wood picket fence is rotting and has to be replaced; a pregnant woman and her toddler fell down my new back stairs; my mother came to visit and I cooked her a birthday dinner; my son, with no regard for my sanity, scaled a story-high stone wall; I spent three hours touring lovely gardens; I escorted two children to swim practice; and a babysitter skipped town without telling me, causing me to miss two non-refundable events.

On the plus side, I pitched a story to an actual magazine and was given an assignment which is due in two weeks.

Also, Gavin and Stacey, in 15.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Video of the Day: The Drums, "Forever & Ever Amen"

There is nothing about this video that I don't like. Reminds me of The Specials, with a little whiff of Haircut 100. It doesn't hurt that the roof where part of this video was shot is just like the one on my first Manhattan apartment at 227 Sullivan Street. Also, loving the drum with the one stick and the way the guy is carrying his guitar all high up. I'm clearly drowning in nostalgia on this weirdly chilly June day. The Drums' first record was released yesterday. Look into it on their website, where you can also get a free download of "It Will All End in Tears."

This is How It's Done, People

Definitely enjoyed the Gleek version of "To Sir With Love," but nobody can touch Lulu singing in the 1967 movie of the same name.

Monday, June 7, 2010

I'm Online Shopping for a New Bathing Suit


I don't think the Victoria's Secret "topless bikini" (above) is quite right, though. It is a one piece, but...

P.J. Clad Montclair Mom Refuses to Answer Doorbell

At approximately 9 am this morning, a Montclair mom was still in her green and white Garnet Hill pajamas, having sent her children off to school and her husband to work. She was finally enjoying a moment of peace after a long weekend of school fundraisers, family events, and a good deal of whining. She was grateful that the unusually high heat and humidity of the weekend had broken. Just as this mom was engaged in a particularly competitive game of Lexulous with her friend Dan, the doorbell rang. Was it PSE&G to read the gas meter? The Jehovah's Witnesses yet again, with news of eternity in the flames of hell?

The doorbell rang again. Now, this was unusual. Yet there was no car in front of the house. Still, the Montclair mom declined to go to the front door. But she did realize that it was time to shower and get dressed.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Finally Saw SATC 2

I haven't thought of the song "I am Woman" in so long. I used to totally love it, back in the 70s. I was in high school with subscriptions to Ms. Magazine and Seventeen. Somehow, I owned a Helen Reddy album. I have vivid memories of listening to this song and "Delta Dawn" on the headphones to the stereo my parents bought me as a 15th birthday gift (one component contained a turntable, receiver and 8 track!; it came with a T Rex 8 track as well; it was my sole stereo until the late 80s.) This song may be cheesy, but I like a little cheese. And, the point is, I think it really helped me form my feminist convictions at a young age. (Interesting aside: while searching for this song, I learned that the United Nations declared 1975 as "The Year of the Woman" and chose "I Am Woman" as its theme song.) I think it was a very good karaoke choice for the SATC girls.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Ladies Need to Eat More Ice Cream


So I went to an ice cream party this afternoon, where I paid $10 for the privilege of eating ice cream (and to raise money for the local schools), and I was literally the only woman eating ice cream on an 85 degree, high humidity day! Hello, it's an ice cream party! Ice cream was invented to combat this weather. If you don't want to eat ice cream, don't come! Don't make me feel like a freak with my icy bowl of chocolate.

The Fragrance Version of Fresca


A grapefruit scent that, kept in the refrigerator, cools and refreshes you on hot, humid days. As light as this post.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hey Baby

In the new shooter game "Hey Baby", women who are being street harassed shoot and kill their harassers. I have a personal interest in this game. I read about it this morning in a Salon article that was posted on a friend's Facebook page. At one time, street harassment was a particular concern of mine. I wrote a song called "Hey Baby" about this very subject in, like, 1990. The song is a list of disgusting catcalls that I endured as I walked around the streets of Manhattan, usually wearing short, tight skirts. My "Hey Baby" is on the internet, but I won't post a link to it here, because the sound of my own voice makes me cringe. Also, I live in fear of my mother-in-law or kids ever hearing me using such inappropriate language. It is "Rated I," as we say in our house.

After I wrote "Hey Baby," my mother said, "Someday the comments will stop, and you will be sorry."( Or maybe her "wisdom" was prompted by a similar street harassment diary that I did for Sassy?) I remember being infuriated, like, Mom, I am making a statement here about the plight of women, and how could you not get it? She was right about one thing, though, the day has come when I am very rarely street harassed. (For one thing, I no longer dress provocatively or live in Manhattan. And I must say the ravages of time and child birth have taken their toll.) I can't say that I particularly miss it. But if I am being really honest here, I have to admit that the occasional cat caller these days makes me think just one thought: Still got it!

So back to the game. Commenters on Salon felt it was outdated, and the graphics made it seem like it was made 12 years ago. I am against all shooter games, obviously, even if the object is killing street harassers. Is this some misguided attempt to get more females interested in gaming?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Science Times Persists in Freaking Out Montclair Mom

Today's terrifying article explains the dangers of button batteries, those tiny things in many toys, remote controls, watches, etc. My fight or flight response set in as I read the story of 13-month-old Aidan Truett, who died after ingesting a battery. It burned a hole through his esophagus. His parents and doctors didn't even know he had swallowed it for nine days. I'm sorry, I have to go scrub my house of all button batteries now.

Monday, May 31, 2010

We're still talking about Fresca

What better way to close out the holiday weekend than with a viewing of this groovy vintage Fresca commercial? Pop open a frosty can and enjoy!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

How About A Fresca?

Mexican Fresca (above) apparently contains sugar
An ad from 1980. I drank a whole lot of those.
Today's ugly can

We're currently in the midst of Fresca season, which, as I define it, begins April 1 and ends October 1, roughly coinciding with baseball season (although I do not watch baseball). There are those who drink this sparkling grapefruit deliciousness year round; I do not condone such immoderate behavior. Fresca is a warm weather beverage. To all things a season.

I have tried to keep my Fresca consumption to one can a day ever since I noticed that it contains Ester of Wood Rosin (hello FDA, is that even edible?). The manufacturer now calls the ingredient Glycerol Ester of Rosin; maybe that seems a little less like something you wax your car with?

No matter, this soda is seriously delicious, and when the weather goes over 85 I have been known to pound Fresca. Fresca mixed with Vodka is a pure slice of heaven, although I don't really drink the hard stuff very often anymore. It might be a little worrisome if I was sucking cocktails down while watching Gavin & Stacey in my pjs.

I should note that Fresca is a diet beverage, and though I am against diet beverages, and diets in general (they don't work, they screw up your metabolism, they cause eating disorders and they are a buzzkill), I am for Fresca. On Monday my French teacher was railing (in French) about sugar-free sweeteners. Blah, blah, blah. I realize that they are bad for you, but I have never smoked, I don't do drugs, and I don't eat red meat. All of my vices are related to beverages, and I think I am entitled to my 2 cups of coffee in the morning, my lunch time Fresca, my afternoon tea, and a moderate consumption of wine with dinner. Anyway, the company did try introducing a sugared version of Fresca (called Citra) when I was at Jane, so that was sometime in the late 90's. This was because Mexicans living in the states wanted a Fresca like the sugary kind they get back home, but it didn't sell and instead there's a sugared grapefruit soda in the Fanta line. I don't care; just give me my Fresca.

I am a diehard fan, and so I have some issues. Before I tell you about them, just know that this vintage sign is awesome. I'm not too technical, and it isn't falling really where I want it in the post, and neither are the cans, but you do the best you can. Now, the current can design: Vintage Fresca Sign by The Upstairs Room. Could it be any uglier? Fresca had a classy look when it was introduced in 1963. (I was 2 then, and to my knowledge, my mother did not give me Fresca at that age, though she thought nothing of putting milky Irish tea in my baby bottle and feeding it to me with a Parliament in her hand. That may explain a lot. Like my propensity for long parentheticals.) While I am at it, what's up with the other flavors of Fresca. Peach? Who green lighted that brilliant decision? For the love of God, stick to the grapefruit.

Anyway. I probably shouldn't be complaining because my dream is to have Fresca as the sole sponsor for Fallen Princess. Does anyone know their media planner?

Please Read

My story for TheGloss on Willie Mae Rock Camp's Ladies Weekend just went up here. Please read it, like I said in the headline.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Princess of the Day: Kim Cattrall

The 53-year-old Sex and the City 2 star refused to pose with a cougar for the cover of a magazine aimed at older women, and then the magazine took the cover away from her. "I felt it was derogatory," she said. "There is nothing predatory about a woman of a certain age. When I go out, younger men are after me."

Tell it, Kim. I've always hated that label.

Yes, my husband is 9 1/2 years younger than me.

Demented Product of the Day: Denim Diapers

La, La, La, La, La, I Can't Hear You!

That's me to all the reviewers who don't like the new Sex and the City movie. I'm going anyway! With my friend Sharon. You can't stop me.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Science Times Scares the Bejesus out of Montclair Mom

The science section of the NY Times frightened me half to death this morning with this story about a 23-month-old who had choked to death on popcorn, even with her CPR trained Marine father sitting right next to her. I just started giving my children (ages 7 and 9) popcorn this year, but I might take it back now.

I am the most hypervigilant mom in the world when it comes to safety. At parties where children run wild while the adults chat around the chips and salsa, I am the only parent watching the kids. No, you cannot throw soccer balls at people's heads, and please don't all 15 of you stand in the play structure pushing. I can't help imagining a heap of little broken bodies.

Yet my children's three emergency room injuries all happened on my watch. My son broke a wrist while running down the front steps in 1st grade; the following year he tripped over a tree root in our yard and got a piece of wood lodged in his knee.

My daughter's injury was the worst of all. Our house was built in 1897, so the steam pipes are outside the walls. One early morning, when she was a toddler, very soon after I impulsively quit my job at ym (I can be an Irish hot head), I was foggily making coffee while she played behind me. In a split second I heard a scream. Her hand had gotten stuck between the pipe and the wall. I grabbed her, and ran the hand under cold water. She cried a cry I had never heard before. I saw the skin peel right off her hand. My baby now has a scar from her wrist to her thumb. And to me it is a symbol of my failed parenting.

Demented Product of the Day: The Kilt Beach Towel

Monday, May 24, 2010

The "Journey"

Yeah, I watch 10 Things I Hate About You. Got something to say about it? After a 3-hour French class on Monday nights I need some light entertainment before turning in. The dad is funny, and I really like Kat. She's smart and has a cute boyfriend.

But. I must take exception to the announcement tonight, which stated that the 10 Things "journey" would be drawing to a close. As the series has been canceled. How is everything an unironic journey now? It has to stop. And I am a really wavy gravy person, who is on a journey of some kind as well.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Preaching to the Choir

I've seen a few comments, both here and elsewhere, that the Dove ad I posted this morning "preaches to the choir." That got me pondering the concept of "preaching to the choir." Do all works with a strong point of view "preach to the choir"? Is there any hope of changing people's opinions?

How can you tell if a piece of writing, or a film, or a song, merely affirms the beliefs of those who already agree? Or if it gets people to think differently?

I love that frigging Dove ad, though. And, yes, I'm in the choir, singing as loud as I can.

Awesome Dove ad

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Before You Were Hot

Some friends from my ELLEgirl days have started a new blog, Before You Were Hot. They are seeking pictures of your awkward years, such as when you played in marching band, wore braces and were plagued by cystic acne. Now as fond as I am of Anne Ichikawa and Melissa Walker (who also publish the awesome I Heart Daily), and as much as I want to help the new ventures of friends, I will not be participating.

Here's why. Whenever I look at pictures of my young self, I think, wow, I was actually kind of cute! And I had no idea! Even if I did have some bad spiral perms, crazy outfits and garish makeup. I was way prettier at 16 (in Landlubber overalls) or 23 (with crazy asymmetrical bob) than I am now, at age 48 1/2. I mean, you get to an age where the pictures of yourself in high school--it's almost as if they are not even you. It's like, look at that cute little girl! I half-remember her. Perhaps Melissa and Anne should start a companion blog, Before You Were Old. Then I could play.

P.S. When I am 68 1/2, maybe I will peruse the pictures from now, and think, hmm, not so bad. That is the only thing that keeps me from burning some of them.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Overheard on the checkout line at CVS

As I waited to pay for my razor blades and Goldfish, a 20-something guy, holding a copy of In Touch, said to his female companion: "You have so many magazines to show you how to be a woman, but there are only like 2 to show you how to be a man." He seemed irritated.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

What the hell?


There was a magazine for teens called Sassy in 1978? With Brooke Shields on the cover? How could I not have known this until now? I was an actual teenager in 1978. I hate to say that out loud.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Princess of the Day: Nessa on Gavin and Stacey

If you're not familiar, Gavin and Stacey is a funny BBC America show about an adorable couple (he's British, she's Welsh) and their close-knit, super wacky friends and family. Gavin and Stacey are both sort of, whatever; they are likable and maybe too perfect to really get attached to. But the supporting characters are totally awesome and quirky. Today I would like to focus on Nessa, Stacey's best friend, who sports an excellent goth look, is matter-of-factly outspoken and has unshakable self-confidence. She is played by Ruth Jones, who seems to be in a lot of Masterpiece Theater productions as well.

I just love Nessa. The very sight of her cheers me, and every sentence she utters cracks me up. In the above scene from season three (which premieres May 14 at 9; set your DVR!), Nessa is chatting with some bouncers outside a club that she is entering for a girl's night. She has the obvious respect of these burly guys. Apparently, Nessa used to be a bouncer (!) and she offers help if any trouble comes up.

Nessa has a long, colorful history, and she is generous with tales of her exploits, sexual and otherwise. But she is not some snide hipster. She is good friends with Bryn, Stacey's dorky uncle. Basically, she treats everyone the same. Nessa is not to be crossed, but she is loyal.

Nessa is also hilariously self-centered. I'm not sure she's winning any mother of the year awards. Of her baby, she says: "He's always after something." That's how babies are. And I can relate. It's funny when she says it, though, because her fiance (who is not the baby's dad) does most of the child care.

Nessa eats with gusto and is clearly proud of her full figure, but it's not like she ever even mentions it. She just is hot, and knows it. In one scene she tries on some sexy black lingerie at a bridal show. "Oh, I'll take all of this," she declares. "But I don't need another whip!"

"You look wonderful," breathes the respectable-looking older saleswoman.

"I feels it," says Nessa, nodding.