Friday, October 19, 2012

The Lament of the Stay-at-Home Mom: Cat Poop Edition

What do stay-at-home moms do all day?
Here is one answer for you people:
My cat
(the one with a habit of defecating outside the box)
had excrement coating her hind legs.
So I chased her from room to room
wielding a wet paper towel,
for the delicate hazmat operation.

It wasn't easy.
The poop is adhering to her fur.
Because of an earlier encounter with a sticker.
There is no one to whom I could delegate this job.
And so it goes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Small Parenting Victory

My daughter doesn't know who Kim Kardashian is.

"Mommy, who is Kim Kardashian?" she asked. "Is she a tennis player?"

My husband and I high-fived each other with our brains, and said in unison, "No, honey, you must mean Kim Clijsters." We went on about how admirable Clijsters is. "She is a professional tennis player and a mom, and she retired for the second time this year." (The second sentence was not spoken in unison.)

Yay, Kim Clijsters!
We never even had to explain anything about the Kim whose name we do not speak.

She'll find out eventually, but not from us. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Embarrassing Photo of the Day

The year was 1989. I thought it would be a good idea to get a spiral perm the day before this photo was taken. I was modeling for Sassy Club, a merchandising page in which the magazine sold things like the kit that was used to paint that flower on my face. Staff members took turns modeling the stuff. At the shoot where this frightening photo was taken, I was also photographed in a pair of gray bike shorts that very clearly showed my private parts. Someone in the art department must have been mad at me when they selected that photo for publication. That other photo, the one I am not publishing here, makes this one look positively respectable. By the way, I don't know if you can see, but my eyebrows are crazily darkened.

I used to carry this around in my Filofax (remember those?) and pull it out whenever there was a lull in the conversation or I thought the mood needed lightening. Now I kind of feel like there's been a lull, AND the mood needs lightening.

So there you go.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Yesterday, while Lena Dunham was finalizing her $3.5 million book deal,  maybe popping champagne corks or eating cake naked on the toilet, I was at the Willowbrook Mall.

Oh joy. I prefer to never leave Montclair, except to go to Paris; however, there are certain things that cannot be purchased in Montclair, such as a suit of clothes for a 12-year-old boy attending a Bat Mitzvah.  And so, we went to the mall. As far as malls go, this one is really depressing, but sometimes one has to suck it up and drive past the hideous parade of chain stores on Route 46 and land in Wayne.

We got our son the dress clothes, plus a pair of Sambas and a nutritious Popeyes lunch to sweeten the deal. Our daughter, whose fully-loaded wardrobe wants for nothing, asked to go into Justice. We had never stepped foot in a Justice, but she's been begging to go there for a couple of years. She had waited semi-patiently, so I acquiesced. The racks were crammed with sparkly, scratchy, complete and utter crap. It made the Kardashian Kollection that we had just walked past at Sears look like Chanel.

I endured a few minutes of browsing under the migraine-triggering florescent light. But when Violet asked for a metallic, zebra-print sports bra, I grabbed her hand, and stalked out. "These are the ugliest clothes I have ever seen in my life," I said (and my standards are fairly low). I felt bad for dissing the fashion she claims "everybody" has, within earshot of the sales staff, no less, but I do have my limits. And also, I like to reinforce that one does not have to do things just because "everybody" does them. If you don't need the tacky Justice wardrobe, then it follows that you don't need to take performance enhancing drugs just because "everybody" is taking them to do better in high school. Nor do you need whatever disturbing body modification the other kids are getting in college. Yes? No? You tell me.

Bling Sunstache FramesAnimal Foil Racerback Sports Bra
Glasses,  $11.50 at Claire's; sports bra, $12 with 40% off coupon at Justice
Anyway, Violet was miffed, but perked up when I agreed to step inside Claire's, which carries the trendy, shoddy accessories to complement a Justice wardrobe. She held up suspenders printed with moustaches. I smiled falsely but declined to purchase them. A plastic moustache was suspended from the frames of a pair of fake black glasses. She tried them on happily. I laughed, but I wasn't laying out the cash.

I am both mystified and intrigued by the viral moustache fad amongst Vi's 9-year-old friends. They don't know why they love the things; they just do. It seems to be the 2012 version of Silly Bands. The arch moustache cultivation of 20-something hipsters has trickled down to an enthusiastic embrace by the pre-ironic fourth grader. Hipsters everywhere must be shaving their moustaches, which, I think, is good news for the girls that age. But maybe not. I no longer pretend to understand the tastes of the youth. We have Lena Dunham for that job. I just sit here and watch Masterpiece Classic.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The House

In case you had any doubt that I was/am a giant nerd. Click on the photo for a clearer view of my amazing penmanship.
My mother has finally sold her house. She's getting older (her age is not for publication), and has many many health problems. She fell down the stairs last year, and even before that, the place had become a burden. So after years of deliberation, mom put it on the market. Now she has to vacate by the end of the month.

Our family moved into this house on August 25, 1972. There is my artist's rendering in the diary entry above. I was nearly 11. It looks like the work of a five-year-old. The four of us had been living in a one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx. I shared a bed with my brother; my parents slept on a pull-out couch in the living room.

I liked the apartment; it had a terrace, and we lived across the street from a big, beautiful park. Still, it was a huge deal to move into a house with a yard, with a lilac bush and peonies. Their sweet smell filled the house when my parents would cut them and put them in a vase on the dining room table.  Flowers from our own garden! A neighbor baked bread, wrapped it in brown paper, tied it with string, attached a hydrangea and left it on our front step as a welcome gift. So quaint! So picturesque! This is the way people with houses did things, I thought.

My brother and I each had a room. I got the larger room, as I am the oldest, and also a princess, and I certainly needed more room for my canopy bed and Madame Alexander dolls. I believe my brother still resents me for this 40 years later, and I don't blame him.

The dress I knitted with help from mom and grandma
Malibu Barbie in a kicky hostess gown
My mother has been cleaning out the place for a decade, hauling things to Salvation Army and bringing me boxes of my childhood stuff. That's where I found the above Barbie, dress and diary, in which I frequently apologized for not writing often enough, as if the diary were a living being. Clearly, writing infrequently has always been a problem. In the diary,  I don't mention the bullying I endured as the plump new girl. I hadn't gotten to the point of using writing as a way to vent.

I only lived full-time in the house for 7 years, but it's always been where the extended family gathered for holidays and graduation parties and barbeques and funerals. My father died there.

I didn't choose to raise my family in the town where I grew up. The reasons are complicated, and as my mother has gotten older I've often questioned that decision. When we were shopping for our home, we would run into the older widows who were reluctantly selling their family homes. I always felt sad for them. Now my mother is one of those women, leaving the place where she raised us, cooked delicious meals, played pinochle, and argued politics with her friend Cathy over Sambuca.