Tuesday, December 31, 2002

For the rest of you lame-os who are hanging out at home tonight here's a good time-waster courtesy of my long-absent friend Special Ed. It's Strong Bad and he gets some hilarious emails, like this one where he talks about playing the guitar.

I doubt that I'd ordinarily pass on a link like this but I figure if you're home and checking out blogs, you're probably pretty much like me. And like me, you'll find it funny.

Alone but laughing-ly,


The Year In Review

This year I have done the following:

  • Gave birth (that was kinda my "biggie")

  • Started this blog at the end of July (which was a not unsubstantial endeavor...geesus, "not unsubstantial"? Who do I think I am, talking like that?) and have currently posted 110 entries (including this one) that contained 55,004 words (not including this one) and have garnered 360 comments. It sounds more impressive than it feels, honestly. (I stole the idea to include these brief stats from John who stole the idea from Derren. I don't know where Derren got the idea.)

  • Planted a garden obsessively for about two weeks, then forgot about it

  • Gotten into three fights with strangers in public, one of which took place in a parking lot when I was very, very pregnant

  • Went to England and organized a family reunion of many people who otherwise didn't know each other...funny, that, isn't it? That an American woman be a catalyst for an English reunion? Fun was had by all, I shamelessly flirted with all of the old men and generally reinforced everyone's prejudices about Americans. But in a cute way.

  • Decorated six out of eleven rooms in the house with big plans for the rest, which included the laying of three new floors and painting rafters on our twelve feet high ceiling. We only bought furniture for the upstairs living room in March or so and got around to painting in April - it was disgusting before we painted, the wallpaper looked like a Care Bear barfed on it. For the better part of a year when we first moved in the only thing in the upstairs living room was my workout machine and we spent our nights in the basement living room in front of the fire. Now we live upstairs and my workout machine lives under our bed.

  • Finally got used to writing "2002" on checks and correspondence. That really sucks.

I had to look back through Andy's earlier blog entries (he has pictures and all sorts) to remind myself of what I've done this year...the short answer is, "Not much". Though it reminded me that during World Cup time I met a woman who plays for the US women's soccer team, which was really uncomfortable. I don't deal well with marginally-famous people, I never know what to say. I was at the gas station talking to one of the clerks about my hope that England would win the World Cup when this girl in line says, "Hey, my sister so-and-so plays for the women's US team. She's right there in the car, do you want to meet her?" This girl seemed really excited for me, which is good because I wasn't. The US women's soccer team, to me, consists of two players: Mia Hamm, and Not Mia Hamm. This girl was a Not Mia Hamm. I kind of went, "Oh, hi, so you play for the US team, huh? How's that whole thing working out for you, good? That's nice. Well, you take care now, okay?" Andy asked if I got her autograph but I hadn't - now I wish I had just so I could know who the hell she was. If I were any kind of decent person at all I would have mustered up enough enthusiasm to make her feel famous. Though that's probably pretty condescending of me - I'm sure she has her own little fan-base going on, she doesn't need me to coddle her. I wish I knew who she was, though.

I sort-of met Nick Harper, but that doesn't really count. (Nick is Roy Harper's son, as in the Led Zeppelin "Hats Off To Roy Harper". Nick is a guitar god, a fantastic lyricist, a prodigy, a phenom and, not to put too fine a point on it, a genius. Soon I'll have a bit of audio of his on here for your listening pleasure, you really don't want to miss it.) Nick is very famous in his own right (which means to say, "Not famous at all in the US") and Andy goes to every show he can when he's in the UK and hangs out with Nick. Andy went to see him in Leeds and called me and let me listen to damn near the whole show. About twenty minutes later the phone rings again and Andy says, "Someone here wants to talk to you" and it was Nick Harper. I was very cool and we talked for a while, he said "hi" to Samantha and I was just generally a Good Fan. No fawning for me, no way - I'm far too cool for that. I kept myself from dorking out long enough to hang up the phone, then I did a little happy dance around the kitchen. Cheesy peesy, lemon squeezy.

Now compare that to the brief meeting I had with George Michael in London. Our pal Geo had just done his "coming out" interview in the UK and I was on my way back to the US and was wandering around Heathrow airport when I see HIM coming towards me. I've been in love with George for years - Wham was the first tape I'd ever bought in my life, I learned everything I could about him and promised myself that I would grow up and marry him. My gaydar had a real blind spot for George and even at this late date I refuse to believe he's gay, just cuz I don't wanna. There I was, standing like an idiot when he bumps his cart into my leg - apparently, the sight of me didn't do much to grab his attention. He said, "Sorry, love" and went on his way, leaving me to collapse, dazed, into a chair next to a very grizzled looking old man. He asked what was wrong and I said, "George Michael just apologized to me!" He nodded for a second and said, "Yep, he's a polite boy."

Of course, that has nothing to do with anything, I just like the story. Oh George, you've broken my heart and bruised my leg, yet how I pine for you! Sigh. Wake me up before you go go, indeed.

So looking ahead to next year I plan to...erm...come on, Natalie, it's the new year, time for resolutions...see, it's difficult to find some aspect of yourself to change when you're already practically perfect in every way. Wait, that's not me, that's Mary Poppins. What do I need to change?...nothing jumps out at me at the moment, I'll have to think about it.

One thing I know will happen next year is that Andy and I will celebrate being together for five years. It's not a long time to many people, but it's a long time for us. I tell him, "Five years with you feels like five minutes...underwater." We've got a special kind of love, and by "special" I mean that it should probably ride the short bus and be harnessed so that it doesn't hurt itself or others. He knows I'm joking...or am I? Yeah, I am, but not really. I'm teasing!...no, I'm not. (I like to be enigmatic, it keeps the romance alive.)

If I can think of any flaws in my character to resolve I'll let you know, until then I'll stay warm and cozy wrapped in my delusions.



Monday, December 30, 2002

Ditz is in today to have her baby, whether she's ready or not. Her labor's being induced and if nothing happens within a given time frame (I think the good doctor's giving her six hours or so for her biology to kick in and do what's natural) then he's taking the baby by c-section. She's due on Thursday but there's some concern about the size of the baby (approximately ten pounds as of now) and of her blood pressure and the like. I've had a bad feeling for days - you know where you get anxious, and the anxiety makes you breathe more deeply than usual so that you're always on the brink of hyperventilation? That's what I've been doing. I've had a slew of awful dreams, which isn't unusual, but what is unusual is that no matter what the dream was about I awoke with Ditz on my mind. I hope this isn't a premonition - or an admoniton, I always confuse those two words. They're similar enough that I can get away with it, but different enough that it annoys me when I can't put my finger on which one to use. I also tend to juxtapose "corpuscular" with "crepuscular" which is really annoying, as those two words have nothing to do with each other apart from a similar spelling. Yet I still have the gall to be peeved when people use the word "unconscious" when they mean "subconscious". At any rate, I hope my bad dreams and anxiety aren't related to my sister givng birth.

Yesterday I woke up and everything about the world seemed sharper, somehow. I was acutely aware of the presense of the floor, of the faith that I place in the floor to just be. For a moment I had a wavering thought that if I, for one second, doubted the existance of the floor that I would fall through. Everything seemed to need an inordinate amount of attention that I otherwise don't afford such inanimate objects. From the moment I woke up I was working - before I even had my first cup of tea I had climbed a ladder and was cleaning the top of the fridge and long-neglected cabinets demanded my immediate attention. I was happy for the distraction, as every time I sat down to take a break I was inundated with thoughts of how false everything really is and how delicately woven our reality. I don't usually succumb to the Mode of Dangerous Thinking - it was just one of those days where you can see the cracks in the foundation, see inside those cracks at the spiders scurrying, at the ants burrowing, further and further into the earth until you realize that you're not looking into the crack but rather out from the crack. Life seems like a surveillance video that's been badly spliced to play an infinite loop and trick you into thinking the situation is calm, calm, calm when in fact everything's raging.

Apart from that, my holiday's been pretty good.

Everyone in my family bought me kitchen stuff because they know how much I enjoy it, though I was a little surprised to get aprons. Seriously, Ditz bought me aprons - I didn't even know that aprons were still made, apart from the midwestern kitschy ones that people wear while grilling. When I was a young girl a neighbor of my mothers came over and he was wearing an apron that was long enough that it covered his shorts and made him look like he was naked beneath the smock. I saw him lift a panel in the front and a huge monkey penis came flopping out and unfurled like a flag that reached his knees - I totally freaked. I screamed, "What was that?!?" and my mom said, "Oh, that was the Big Bad Wolf. That's a Little Red Riding Hood apron." This explanation satisfied me because it had to - sometimes I still have nightmares about that. Unfortunately - or fortunately, depending on how you look at it - my aprons have no comedic value.

In an unrelated note, the "wanted" post is messed up - long story short, I'd written it early on in the evening when I was still in the mood to goof around, then the night got a little ugly as I stewed on how much of our vacation was wasted on James Bond and became increasingly annoyed. A comment was made here, a snotty remark there, and bam, I found myself in the middle of a very polite, very constrained fight. Andy and I don't fight like normal people - we have, literally, one fight per year where voices are even raised. When we're unhappy with each other we're very deliberate about what we say to each other so that there's none of that "I wish I could un-say what I just said" remorse. Anyone looking in on us the other night would have seen two seemingly happy people, maybe sitting a bit too erect in our seats but otherwise content. And for the most part, we are - there's just the slightest charge in the air, maybe we become a little too polite, maybe one of us goes to bed earlier than usual and doesn't say "good-night"...that's as far as it usually goes. Then in the morning the tension is gone, all is forgiven without the awkwardness of apologizing, it's just understood. I like our system. At any rate, I'd deleted the post before I went to bed because I didn't want Andy to wake up and read it and interpret spent hostilities where none were intended but I didn't click "publish" after I'd deleted so it still showed up. No matter, really, I only mention it because the post is now showing up as being written on a different day and the comments are gone - for the record, everything is fine now.

The rest of my day is probably going to be spent waiting for the phone call from my mom, taking care of the kids, and constantly reassuring the floor that I believe it's there. I'll probably be deliberately obtuse and mush my brain on really bad music that doesn't inspire any Dangerous Thinking, or maybe something female and angry, like Fiona Apple. Or maybe something cheesy and male, like Bono. Oh lordy, how I enjoy mocking that man! I love him to death but geez, how can a person take himself that seriously? He's like a trendier version of Sting. How painful it must be to be either of them! Like Andy says, "Does it hurt when you breathe?"

Who am I kidding? I'll probably spend the day watching The Wiggles video that Zoe got for Christmas. Damn you Australians for producing such crap! I've not been this angry at a country for the sake of their children's programming since the Teletubbies invasion from England. Both nations have a lot to answer for.

Harboring national grievances-ly,


Wanted: One unshaven, thirty-something, bald Englishman to sit on the couch all day consuming copious amounts of beer and wine and watching marathon sessions of James Bond because - out of over 300 channels - he can't find "anything good to watch". Duties include overlooking the full garbage until I take it out, then stating, "I was just about to take care of that", occasionally wiping the counter top and pretending he's cleaned the whole house and noticing my children long enough during commercial breaks to say, "Do you have to be so loud?" Statements such as, "Why are you so stressed?" and "Your stomach is supposed to be big, you've just had a baby" are required banter to maintain an environment of healthy hostility. Looks are unimportant, as I presume said candidate will spend many hours in front of the computer screen, thus blocking his face from my view. He must be slim to fit the existing butt-divot in the couch. I am already in possession of such a beast but am looking for a replacement, as my current model is beginning to smell.

Inquire within-ly,


Thursday, December 26, 2002

I've been thinking about this whole pickle-classification system thing I've been toying with to group up my links but I'm having a hard time with it - the only one I've been able to come up with is one for Andy (whom I thought I'd set aside in his own little category) and that was "The Cucumber In My Brine." See, it's naughty but it's not.

I can't overcome the first hurdle, though, and think of any one of my links as, say, a Kosher Dill. Though I already consider a few of them as pepperoncinis (ahem, mopsa, I'm looking in your direction, you spicy little minx!). I think the reason I'm hung up on this is because of a memory of my father-in-law who once asked if there were any more "dildo pickles". Hey, guy, you can use them for whatever you want, but I hold them in higher esteem than that.

I know my brain isn't functioning properly at the moment or I'm sure I could come up with all sorts of dirty innuendos about dill and spear but I'm feeling too fat and pasty to even let my sense of humor shift that way. I just don't feel myself lately.

Oooeer! I just said, "feel myself" tee-hee. Ugh, I swear that Austin Powers has killed my sense of humor.



Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Same thing every year - the pile of presents under the tree looks a lot more impressive than the unwrapped counterparts and mom gets a pang because she can see the disappointment and anti-climax written all over the children's faces. Why do we hype the holiday up so much that the reality of it can never possibly meet expectations? It's especially hard when you have a nine-year-old who's "in between" like this - she wants the grown-up type gifts (watch, cd player, etc.) but still seems a bit jealous of her sister's dollie. The vanity set I bought for Sam would have been appreciated more if it came with a pink heart-shaped mirror made of a reflective sticker rather than the "grown up" groovy set she received - how to find a middle ground with a child that age? I think I'll just throw my hands up in defeat and say, ala Goldmember, "There is no pleasing you." I think it's human nature to be vaguely disappointed at this time of year anyway, and to say things like, "Now, last year, last year Christmas was perfect." But it wasn't, we're just remembering it through our rose-tinted glasses to torture ourselves for not making this year the Most It Could Be.

So sure, there's some disappointment but I know that by the time next Christmas rolls around we'll be talking about how fantastic everything was this year. No, I take that back: everything was perfect this year - I'm just a bit early in saying so. Self-delusion is a beautiful thing.

Skipping Towards Next Year-ingly,


PS - One Christmas surprise I received was a phone call from Leandra who's doing well and promises to get back in the ol' blogging saddle at some point soon. Her schedule has been absolute hell lately - just thinking about it makes me tired - but the pregnancy is back on track after her scare so hopefully we'll be hearing more from her. (There, Leandra, I've made a promise and you have to deliver on it now - don't you love when people do that?)

Gifts are open, duck is ready to be roasted and I'm hiding from the sound of children's movies. A certain Miss Brandy made her presence known last night and she doesn't seem to want to go away - she's currently beating the inside of my head with a hammer. Somebody shoot me now, please - it can be my Christmas present.

Inappropriately hung-over-ly,


ps - Merry Whatever. It's the birthday of Jesus today and I won't tolerate any god damn blasphemy. We're having a cake with candles and everything for the guy, you should too.

Monday, December 23, 2002

Just a quick note here that has nothing to do with anyone except for one person in particular - rather than go out of my way to confront this person I am taking the passive-aggressive route (oh, there's a surprise!) and posting an entry here.

To You Know Who You Are:

I didn't tell you about my little journal here and you didn't ask me if I had one. Rather, you were snooping around on the internet looking for info on Andy and I and you found it. Okay, big hairy deal, some might say, but not I. You know me, I know you, and finding this and reading everything on here without giving the vaguest mention to me that you've done it is akin to snooping. There is a very good reason that I didn't tell you I was writing on here - because I don't want you to read it. I know, free country, the internet has no boundaries, whatever - all I'm saying is that no good could come from you reading this. None whatsoever. Trust me when I say that you're better off not reading this. Andy's blocked you from his site but I cannot do that from mine so you're on your honor to just go away. If I see you 'round these parts again I will have to confront you about it and the scene could very well get ugly. And you wouldn't like me when I'm ugly. That is all.

We'll now return you to your regularly scheduled programmingly,


Friday, December 20, 2002

The holidays are usually a notoriously bad time for me. I suffer from gift-givers anxiety, for a start, and end up stressing out that the presents I've given aren't good enough. I'm suffering from that right now because the Christmas package I sent to Illinois for my family arrived yesterday and I'm kicking myself for being so cheap. I really wasn't all that cheap but I feel like I was being cheap - I think I freak because my family is so selfish and "gimme gimme gimme" without even a secondary thought about their own gift-giving habits. The only truly generous person is Hippy - she gives gifts from the heart, spends a fortune and honestly appreciates it when anyone else thinks enough of her to give her a gift in return. She lives in this nasty housing project (the same one where I lived when I was a teenager and my mother "asked" me to move out because the baby was too loud for her) but thought nothing about spending nearly $200 on baby items for me when I told her I was pregnant. At Christmas she easily spent another $200 on gifts for us. I made her three pounds of fudge as a special thank-you, and printed out the picture of Jim Morrison's grave in Paris that I took two years ago (yes, I've been promising her the picture for two years and only just got around to doing it for her). So yeah, compared to Hippy, I'm Shit Sister Extraordinaire. (For the record, I did give her kids some good gifts.) But when I talked to her today she was practically over the moon at getting the fudge - I was embarassed at how much she gushed about how thoughtful I am and how delicious the fudge is - on and on. It made me feel like I had something rotten squirming inside my stomach because she really didn't see that what I did just wasn't enough. Or maybe she knew that I would hold my own feet to the flames so she didn't bother doing it for me, I don't know.

On the other hand, there's my mother. This is the woman who says that Thanksgiving is her favorite time of the year because there are no materialistic pressures or expectations, yet every day I've spoken to her in the last month has involved her dropping some hint or stating outright an item she wants for Christmas. She's very, "Now, you will get my present out on time, won't you?" I hate what she does to me - she guilts, and I lash back in my passive-aggressive way. This year I was very thoughtful in her gift: she told me once that growing up she never got a Christmas stocking. Her mother was Jewish and didn't like the thought of Christmas at all, even as a non-religious event, so they didn't celebrate it. Trouble was, they didn't celebrate Channukah, either, so mom missed out any way you cut it. This year I made a huge box of goodies and wrapped it in a box with a stocking on the lid. No single gift was expensive but there were a lot of little things that I know would make her very happy, and I wrote a poem for each item. A lot of effort went into this gift but I found myself writing lines in the poem saying things like, "So now stop your nagging" and "you have to stop bitching, whether you like it or not". I teased her in the poem about things I was going to get for her, but instead bought for myself...it's all in a fun vein and I know she'll take it that way, but there's a lot of truth in kidding, I've found. I wonder at my motivation, and question the timing - why do this at Christmas? - but it's a compulsion with me. She may subconsiously pick up on the aggression but in all probability it'll slide and she'll just chalk it up to my sense of humor.

Mom's already outlined the way she's going to spot out my other sisters during their party tomorrow. She plans this for a month or so in advance so she knows exactly what grievance she's going to air about each child. It's a holiday tradition. My first Christmas in Minnesota found my whole family visiting (with the exception of Hippy, because her parole meant she couldn't leave Illinois - her husband was in prison that year so he didn't make it either but everyone else came) and I made a huge dinner. I love to cook, and I'm damn good at it, but sometimes I forget to cook for the audience. I made all sorts of things that my family would have never eaten otherwise (though dad did try the escargot - hated it - and mom had a steamed mussel or two but that was it) and boy, did I hear about it. Everything was "weird", what did I do to the cranberry sauce, mom never used guts in her stuffing, who was I trying to impress, etc. Andy dealt with the stress by planting his ass firmly in a child-sized recliner drinking whiskey straight from the bottle and engaging my father in a Simon and Garfunkle sing-along. Ditz and Boob Job's then-boyfriends spent most of the time in the basement smoking pot and snickering about what they could do with my webcam and my sisters picked at their sub-par dinner. I finally cracked and said, "Excuse me that the cranberry sauce didn't come from a can, or that I didn't coat the sweet potatoes with marshmallow cream, or did any of the other white-trash things that you expect from Christmas!" and cried. But hey, I was pregnant with Zoe at the time so I used that as my excuse. Everyone ate sitting on the floor and the whole dinner had this creepy protest vibe about it.

This year finds us at home, just the five of us. It will be the first year that Samantha's actually spent Christmas Day in Minnesota (damn that stupid visitation agreement - I should throw a paypal link on here and solicit donations for the "Free Natalie From Unrighteous Visitation Practices!" fund) and no one in my family is visiting. I'm so glad about that - I love to see them, don't get me wrong, but I like to see them at their place where I can remove myself from the situation if I need to. When they visit I can't exactly just take off for a few hours, and I certainly can't ask them to go away for a while, so I become a huge bundle of nerves. This year I feel like I can breathe deeply and just be, you know? It's a beautiful feeling.

I think this year is going to go well, even though we've used cash only (no damn credit cards for us this year, no stinking way) but I have a feeling that the love and comfort we'll all feel will overshadow the lack of extravagant gifts. At least it will until the 26th, when Samantha has to take a nine a.m. flight to visit her father, but until that time we'll just be chillin'. (Yes, I just used the word "chillin" but that goes to show how laid-back I am at the moment.)

Merry Happy Everything-ly,


Whoo-hoo! We have snow, people, and just in time for Andy's return (he'll love that). I was getting worried that we wouldn't get a chance to use our new snowblower this year, but like Andy said, "If we don't get to use it before Christmas we'll be using it well into April." I'm just glad that we may potentially have a white Christmas after all.

Hot cocoa-ingly,


The only thing more embarassing than answering the door with your breasts hanging naked out the front of your shirt is...well, nothing. Nope, I think it's safe to say that there's nothing more embarassing than that. The upshot is that I don't think the mailman will be too bothered if I don't leave him a tip this Christmas.

Damn breastfeeding.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Random thoughtling for the day - I will never again read, nor shall I ever on pain of death link, a blog with the word "pundit" in the name, no matter how clever the word-play may be. I find something inherently wrong with the casual use of the word, especially since so few people know the origins of the moniker. It's the same feeling I used to get when I started seeing small children wearing shirts that said "New World Order" - sure, it was a wrestling thing, but geez kids, if you had any idea what a real "new world order" entailed, or the fear the phrase instills in the paranoid among us, you'd think twice about wearing that shirt. Anyway.

Since posting about my linking practices it seems to have lifted the whole magic behind the process and now I find myself a linking fool. I'm devising a pickle-related classification system to keep them all in line but that will take some thinking - which is something I try to avoid doing when dealing with this blog - but it'll happen eventually.



Wednesday, December 18, 2002

It's all fun and games until someone burns down the house

I've always been a geek - no, don't gasp in shock, it's really true! Until the age of about twelve or thirteen I was a total science geek. But in a fun way, a fun "I can kick your ass so don't even start on me for being a geek" kind of way. My interest was primarily biology until I got my first chemistry set at the age of nine, and somewhere in there I got a Vic 20 computer that took up a lot of my time for a brief period. I remember sitting in front of that stupid machine for days typing line after line of code just so I could hear the computer go "zap, bang". I would spend hours typing and sucking down coffee (yes, at that age I drank coffee and stayed up all night - I think my parents were a little afraid of me during certain points in my youth, this being one of them, so they didn't try to stop me) until a semi-computer savvy friend of my parents took pity and gently broke it to me that my computer would never make the noises I wanted it to make. He was so sweet about it, it was like he was telling me there was no Santa. It was very, "Natalie, no matter what you do the fact is that this computer doesn't have what it needs inside to make it go 'zap, bang'." I cracked open the outer casing of the computer under the guise of wanting to "fix" what was wrong when in actual fact all I wanted to do was pick at the components on the circuit board with a nail file. Needless to say, that was the end of that little diversion and it was back to life sciences for me.

I remember one day I was digging between these lilac bushes in our back yard, which was a popular resting place for whatever disposable pet my younger sister had foolishly latched onto when my mom asked me what I was doing. I told her, "Dad said I could dig up the guinea pig's body and wire the bones together. The bones are pretty small but dad thinks he has a drill bit that's tiny enough." My mother went storming into the house with me hot on her heels - as young as I was it wasn't hard to keep up with her, since she's duck-footed and walks kind of like E.T. - and she screamed at my dad for giving his permission. Dad said, "I knew the cats got to the guinea pig, I watched them dig it up." Mom just exploded - "Richard, you promised me that you wouldn't let her do anything weird anymore!" So that twarted my fun for the day.

Soon after I got my chemistry set I realized that I couldn't have any fun with the crap I was given but included in the kit was a notice that I would be able to get my hands on all sorts of juicy materials if only I passed an exam to handle volatile chemicals and got a license for it - trouble was, you had to be over eighteen to do it. Of course, my mother wouldn't even entertain the thought of doing anything so nice for me so I had to make do with what I had around the house. I think I was trying to get revenge on her because I asked if I could play with my set on the back porch and she said I could. Then I asked her if she had a few cups of flour I could use and she gave me nearly four pounds of the stuff that she was going to throw out because it had gone mealy. Oooh, I get excited just thinking about it...here's a little piece of info for you, in case you didn't know: flour is highly combustible. Betcha didn't know that, huh? Mom didn't either.

After the first explosion she made me take my set down to the driveway - I guess she was nervous about fire on the wood porch. I don't know why she thought that flammable materials were safe to play with on a surface covered in oil and gasoline, but that's where she sent me. Maybe she was hoping I wouldn't make it back alive, I don't know.

After the second explosion she took my kit away from me and bought me a microscope instead. Yawn.

The reason I mention this is because of the flour thing - you know, there are flammable materials all around us, every day, and we don't even realize it. Take, for example, this can of air here for cleaning electronics. Now, you wouldn't think that compressed air would be flammable, right? I mean, we're not talking about pure oxygen, this is just a can of air! Plain, old air...no harm in that. So if I were to, say, point the can at a lit candle and pull the trigger, it'd just be like blowing it out myself, right, only with a lot more force. Well, it's thinking like that that's caused this black scorch mark on Andy's nice yellow wall. How was I supposed to know that this stupid can contained a volatile compound?!? The label doesn't say so...well, way way down here at the bottom, in really small print it says so...but in my defense, way up here at the top in big letters it says, "This product is not defined as flammable by the Consumer Products Safety Commisions Regulations". They need to look at the dictionary definition of the word "flammable" if you ask me.

Oh wait - it says "This product is not blah blah blah HOWEVER, this product can be ignited under certain circumstances." Crap, there goes my defense. But honestly, they shouldn't even go through the whole song and dance about it not being flammable if they're just going to turn around in the next sentence and tell you that it is - that's not playing the game.

Who am I kidding, I didn't even read the warning until it was over with and I went, "Holy shit, that wasn't supposed to happen!" See, this is the kind of trouble I get into when I'm bored. Maybe I'll check out eBay and see if I can get my hands on an old Vic 20...



Tuesday, December 17, 2002

You've come a long way, baby...

That was then:

This is now:

And guess who he's looking at in that second picture? Me. That's right, me. And you see what's in his eyes? Pure old unfiltered, unadulterated love, baby, whoo! That's the stuff that makes the world go 'round, yes indeed. Yessiree, I'm his one and only...probably because I'm the one with the boobs but hey, ya can't be picky, right?

Happy one month anniversary of your birth, little Nickerdoodle. Sometimes you really suck but I wouldn't be without you.

Naval gazingly, (I really should work on that...)


(Caution: Excessive and gratuitous use of the words "blog" and "link" abound in the below post, as well as confusing hypotheticals that are only roughly explained. Disjointed today am I, sorry I am.)

I've got a thing about links. I don't necessarily link to everything I find interesting, nor do I link to everything I read. I use my blog as a hub, if you will, where I store my regular reads rather than a "hey, reader, you might find these blogs interesting just because I do". Because of this attitude, I refrain from linking to a blog that has a direct link from a blog I've linked to - okay, how many more times can I use the word "link" in a single sentence? To give a real life example, I read Waitress Dreams every day. Mopsa, in turn, points to MJ's site, Friday Fishwrap. I visit MJ's site regularly, yet I don't have her on here because, hey, I'm going to get to her anyway so what's the point? Also, she's a real-life friend of mopsa's whereas I only know her through Fishwrap so I'd feel like I was roguing someone I didn't know and "stealing" mopsa's linkage thunder, if you know what I mean.

One caveat to this "rule" of mine is if the second-degree site points back to me. For example, I point to SRO who in turn points to Fact or Fiction. FOF has linked to me, which breaks the chain so that I can link back to him. That's not to say that I only link to people who link to me - what do you take me for, some link whore? - I'm simply saying that the link here from FOF takes Hugh out of the equation in that respect. That's the same principle behind why mopsa and I both point to Artichoke Heart and why Andy and I both point to John Conners.

I like my system because it's efficient (to me) and it also protects me from committing a link to a blog that may have fooled me into believing it was good when in fact it it sucks (ah, only time will tell) - I always feel guilty about removing a previously linked-to site. And I've seen too many linkage cluster fucks where everyone on one blogroll points to everyone on another blogroll - you get stuck in an infinite loop and then it's just no fun for anyone. Even the little internal fights and cross-links aren't interesting for very long.

Okay, okay - I know I think way too much about this but hey, how else am I going to spend my time?

With all that said, I finally reach my point (about damn time, Natalie!) though now I don't know if it was worth the huge explanation. Christly christ, I've already bored myself! Anyway, the point of all of this is that I've decided to take the plunge and steal two links away from mopsa. I only hope that she, in her infinite wisdom, can understand my motives and forgive me.

The first one is the aforementioned MJ. I am linking to her because she is just cool as all get out and spends a lot of time...well, she spends a lot of time wasting time, to be honest, but the end result is that she makes a great "go to guy" for goofy crap on the internet that you probably wouldn't find yourself. She's become a household name around here - whenever my eldest sees me playing a game or watching a video online she says, "What did MJ post this time, and is it too grown-up for me to see?" When she's not at her computer you can usually find her lounging around, watching football or getting drunk - come to think of it, she's like a female version of Andy, only bitchier. And I like it. I can even forgive her for linking to Sabrina Matthews and making me think it was an actual blog rather than a publicity web page - hey, no one's perfect!

The second one is a little more complicated, as she's been my secret love for months now and I'm finally going public with it. Oh, how my heart has suffered with longing! To have just a fraction of an ounce of a splinter of an iota of her wit, her attitude, her ability to captivate and make you adore her would be more than enough for me. It's not just that I love her but I think I want to be her - we both have sons who we share first initials with (M for her, N for me), we both see the stupidity in pretty much everything, we both use the phrase "you can suck my dick" when we're angry - I know, I'm getting all "Single White Female" here but I can't help it. It isn't very often that I find a blog that is so well-written, so funny, sad, introspective and poignant all at the same time. She's a bit splintered and a big part of me can relate to that, though she's far more honest and open than I could ever be. Her family read her blog on a regular basis but it doesn't seem as if she edits herself in any way; it's just all out there on the table for anyone to pick through. I, on the other hand, live in constant fear that my family will stumble across this - which is wholly unfounded, as none of my sisters even have computers and my mother has such a piece of junk pc that she's barely ever on. I've mentioned a "journal" that I keep online to both parents and they're refreshingly disinterested. Dad says, "Don't be telling the internet anything about me" and mom says, "What did you tell people about me? Don't make things up." That's as far as that goes. But Melly posts anything and everything, and her family reads and comments - it's a unique dynamic over there, to be sure. And she somehow manages to post about her little son without resorting to so much naval-gazing, which is a fine art I have yet to master. Ahem.

So there you go, two new links for your surfing pleasure. Consider them your Christmas gift.



Monday, December 16, 2002

And now for something completely different...for the first time ever in my referrer logs, I am first to show up under a search term. This is a proud day for me, as usually when people find my site when searching for something they have to wade through pages of other stuff before finding this site. I've never been number one before, I just don't know if my little heart can stand the excitement. And now, without further ado, a search term that I can be proud to claim ownership of...

Pickle Juice in your BUTT

That's right...you want to know about pickle juice in your butt? Then you've come to the right place. But honestly, who hasn't had experience with pickle juice in their butts, am I right, people? No one? Erm, well, neither have I! I am shocked and horrified at the thought of being considered number one for this search term. Heads will roll over there at google, believe you me. Pickle juice in your butt...that's just a waste of good vinegar if you ask me, but hey, different strokes for different folks, I'm not one to judge.



(Editors note: Please excuse the bizarre nature of the above post, as Natalie is not feeling like herself today, owing to the fact that her awful neighbors fell asleep last night with Missy Elliott's "Get Your Freak On" stuck on repeat. It took an hour for the police to arrive, and about a half-hour for them to get a response from the sleeping neighbors who were, as far as Natalie could tell by peering out her window, issued a citation for disturbing the peace. But you have to admit it's pretty hard to concentrate on writing a blog entry when you have the same little techno riff playing through your head - so give Natalie a break, she's really, really trying.)

Sunday, December 15, 2002

I'm much better now, thanks. Yesterday was just really stressful and I had a little bit of a snap - having a baby who thinks he's made of Velcro will do that to you; I haven't been able to put him down for more than a couple of minutes at a time in the last few days - I think he has "relaxation radar", as in, "Hark! Do I detect the faintest indication that I've been set down so mom can have a cup of tea? This calls for immediate intervention!". This is why I tell Andy that sometimes I think the theory of evolution is wrong - if it were right, mothers would have sprouted a third arm by now.

We had to go to a basketball tournament for my eldest yesterday, the first game I've attended since having the baby. The thought of juggling The Bean and the baby by myself in some smelly gym never appealed to me but I couldn't send Sam off to face her first challenge in loco parentis. Two hours - it took me two hours to get myself and three kids ready for an hour-long basketball game. Truly pathetic. Though I have to remind myself that once upon a time it used to take me two hours to get ready to go out clubbing but that seems a lifetime ago. How the hell did I age so quickly?

Back at the basketball game Zoe was being a nightmare. I'd let the girls sleep in my bed the night before - I haven't been using it, anyway - and they stayed up far later than I thought they'd done, watching a Sting concert and Zoe was cranky. Sam's play showed no signs that she was tired, though, and they barely lost the game in sudden death after a minute's worth of overtime with a score of 12-10. Part of me was hoping they'd lose because I was thinking that it was a single elimination tournament but as it turns out they have a consolation tournament for the teams who were shunted in the first round. That means I get to turn around and do it all again this Thursday night - oh well, Sam's happy, that's the important thing.

Back from the game I spent some time resting before we went out Christmas shopping. The only time I shopped more quickly was the year I'd forgotten about buying presents and did all of my shopping, literally, a half-hour before the mall closed on Christmas Eve. None of the gifts are very thoughtful, but hey, who doesn't like getting bath sets? I hope my dad likes almond-scented bubble bath, cuz that's what he's getting.

I talked to one of the fantastic women who assisted with Nic's birth today and basically vomited all of my troubles down the phone at her so now I'm vaguely more centered than I was last night. Though I'm very easily annoyed today - I never realized how much I could hate being called "mom". My own mom used to get tired of hearing me "mom" her all day long so she said, "I'm not mom anymore, you have to call me Hildegaard Garf." I wasn't able to say it so I couldn't speak with her - unfortunately, my kids can say it, and they enjoy saying it so much that they scream it at the top of their lungs. I've warned them both that screaming Hildegaard Garf at me would get them punched so now they're running around saying, "Hildy'll getcha punched in the head, punched in the head!" while miming getting punched in the head - I'm half-hoping they'll accidentally misjudge their aim and knock themselves out. It doesn't count as child abuse if they do it to themselves, right?

All I want for Christmas is some peace and quiet. And valium - lots and lots of valium.



In the day and a half since Andy's been gone I've lived at least a week's worth of hell. Damn your queen and country, and damn your passport for ever finding its' way back to you. Damn your job and damn all of those who thought it would be a good idea to pull you out of the country for a week when this baby is only three weeks old. Damn them all.

The helplessness of children can be the heaviest thing in the world to carry, and sometimes crying doesn't make you feel a single bit better.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Okay, so I no longer get a subscription to Time magazine because it's started to suck and also it's an AOL thing now - we can't have little pieces o' the demon flittering around the house, now can we? But I still read it online from time to time and I came across this photoessay on "Girl Culture". The reason this stands out, to me, is not only for the grotesque accounts of What It's Like To Be A Girl but also because the girls on the second page and the lonely Hanson fan on the third page are from my old neighborhood in Edina. It reminds me of why we wanted to move so badly.

Not that things are necessarily going to be any different in our new area for my daughters, but at least now I'm living somewhere where people feel comfortable enough with their white-trashiness to decorate their front lawn with a fifteen-feet-tall inflatable snowman. (Ahem, the new neighbors strike again...) If they would have attempted that in Edina, the neighborhood block association would swoop down on them like vultures and make them sorry they ever even contemplated the monstrosity. But I digress.

Anyway, I was surprised at some of the quotes in this feature - maybe because it's been a while since I've been a teenager I've forgotten what it's all like, or maybe time has really changed that quickly, but I don't remember things being that hard to deal with. Then again, I didn't have my head buried quite as far up my own ass as some of the girls in this feature seem to.

Thing is, I can't understand the point of this feature. What am I meant to take away from it? That teenagers girls are, indeed, as vapid as I've always suspected them to be? Is it supposed to be a warning that if I leave my daughters alone long enough they'll not only start using the word "cooch" but also shave it bald and tell people about it in a national magazine? I don't know how I feel about an article in which Cindy Margolis is the most stable, empowering female figure. Oooeerr, and what a figure it is...vavavoom!



Monday, December 09, 2002

So we've erected our Christmas decorations - I want to know, who was the first person to have the idea of cutting down a perfectly healthy, living tree and bringing it inside the house? And why in the world did his wife say yes? - because you just know that it was a guy who first came up with the idea. Maybe he'd been given a new chainsaw for Christmas and, having run out of things around the house to cut into small pieces, decided to cut down a tree in the yard. Then his wife looks out the front door and says, "Oh, well done, genius, you've cut down my favorite tree. Now what are you going to do with that thing?" So in the house it came where the wife decides to drape it in garlands of popcorn and cranberries to feed the various woodland creatures that inevitably considered the tree their home. "Whew," says wife at some point in January when husband finishes dragging the tree outside. "Let's not do that again!" But next year they have a new child and dad, in an odd showing of false nostalgia, says, "Darling, we had such a good time with that tree last year...remember when that little squirrel came down and ate the nuts you'd left on the table? Wasn't that a laugh? How about we do it again for little junior here, make a new tradition for us?" Mother relents, thinking her husband was being all sensitive, when in actual fact he's just wanting to be the cool guy who gets to use his chainsaw again. Not only that, but to put his kill on display in his own home wins him some groovy bonus points with the guys down at the bar. That's my theory, at least.

And how did our Christmas tree repay us for our lovely decorating and careful selection? This tree, this beautiful tree chosen above all others at the lot, how did this ungrateful tree show us our due appreciation? By jumping Andy when he wasn't looking. That's right - this tree, this scourge of the earth, launched a wholly unprovoked attack on him while he was walking past. The timing was just too perfect; you can't tell me the tree hadn't planned it from the moment we brought him home. (Yes, it is a male. When Andy brought it home I said, "Douglas?" and he said, "Northern Pine." I said, "No, Douglas is his name - I've known this tree for years.") We spent a good half-hour trying to fix the tree which oddly involved the use of a wrench as well as a flashlight. All in all it was a pretty fun-filled evening.

Thankfully, Andy wasn't injured, though he and I both ended up covered in sap. Last year I was the injured party, only the attack came in a much more subtle form. Our demon tree last year decided that it didn't want to support the very cool gothic star I'd bought for the top of the tree so I would have to do a little trimming and bind a couple of branches upright to hold the wrought iron topper. I grabbed a knife - not one of my good, sharp knives but rather this nasty old thing - and began to cut. I couldn't get through the branch so I put more and more pressure on the blade until zip, it went through the branch and the tip of my finger. Five stitches later I was fine, though in typical "I'll do it myself" fashion I removed the stitches myself rather than go back to the hospital to have them do it. This year, the star and the lump in my finger served as a reminder of what damage a tree can do and I have put a whole new spin on the idea of being scarred by the holidays. We're not using that star this year.

Samantha passed the time decorating and singing, and Zoe was having fun playing with a plastic Santa my mother "passed down" to me - she "passes down" things to me that she says are great "pieces of my childhood" when in actual fact it's just junk that she wants to get rid of but would feel guilty about throwing it away. This way, she gets to make me feel guilty when I throw it away, which is a happy little bonus for her. Anyway, this Santa was old even when God was a boy but Zoe was having fun with it. She was holding up a picture of Santa in front of the Santa doll - I asked her what she was doing and she said, "I'm showing Saint Stupid what he looks like." Yep...Saint Stupid. I think we'll skip the annual trip to the mall for her to meet Santa this year.



Sunday, December 08, 2002

Two quick things - you may notice that pickle juice finally has some pickles. Oh yes, the pickles, the pickles - I do this for the pickles. The only way to get a pickle by your name is to update your blog (ahem, Leandra and Ed, I'm looking at you...) and have it registered through blogrolling.

Second thing - in the comments on the entry about my neighbors, Hugh from Standing Room Only left a link to a very interesting website, Redneck Neighbor where some poor, unfortunate soul posts stories about his god-awful neighbor. It makes me feel better in a way to read that someone else has it so much worse. Does that make me a bad person? Nah - kicking small dogs and stealing from the elderly - now that's what makes me a bad person.

At least I have my pickles to console me. Ah yes, the pickles.



Friday, December 06, 2002

Me: Oh, I cannot even believe what I'm seeing.
Andy: What's the problem?
Me: This new program on the BBC - this "Changing Rooms" stroke "Ground Force" thing, except with fashion. Two "fashion experts" help people with their wardrobes. Yeah, as if I'd trust an English person to give me fashion advice?
Andy: Hey, I'm not a bad dresser.
Me: You're not anymore because I help you. Remember those t-shirts you used to always wear?
Andy: Yeah - whatever happened to those?
Me: I threw them away.
Andy: I loved those shirts. I still have one around here somewhere.
Me: Not for long you don't.
Andy: Besides the t-shirts I wasn't a bad dresser.
Me: I thought you were color blind for the first year we were together.
Andy: I remember that.
Me: And you still try to wear blue. Who told you that you looked good in that blue that you wear all the time? Because you don't.
Andy: I like blue.
Me: You're an autumn.
Andy: You're an ass.

* * * *

Sam: Is artificial semen nation the same as adoption?
Me: You mean "artificial insemination"?
Sam: Yeah, that thing. Are they the same thing?
Me: Where did you even hear that phrase?
Sam: Remember the girl in my Brownie troop who had two moms? She was adopted, but a girl in my class has two moms, too, and she said she's artificial insemination.
Me: No, she's not "artificial insemination" - that means her mom was artificially inseminated. Instead of getting pregnant in the usual way, her mom just used someone else's donated sperm and injected it. That means her mom was actually pregnant with her so, no, she wasn't adopted.
Sam: So her dad's dead?
Me: I would have no idea.
Sam: But don't you have to be dead to be a donor?
Me: You're thinking of organ donation - people are alive when they donate sperm.
Sam: Well, how do you get the sperm out?
Me: Oh. Um, hey now. Sheesh. Ah, well, you'll understand that when you're older.
Sam: You always say that.
Me: Sometimes I have to.

* * * *

Me: Do you ever wonder if Nic has anything wrong with him? Inside his brain, I mean?
Andy: No, he's fine. You worry too much.
Me: Well, I can't help it. I mean, Hippy's daughter has autism, her son has ADD and Boob Job's son has ADHD. I just wonder about it.
Andy: No, I think he'll be all right. Now this one on the other hand...(he points at Zoe who just walked in the room with no pants on, her shirt backwards, a sieve on her head like a helmet and carrying part of a broomstick she's using as a guitar)...this is the one I wonder about.
Zoe: Wock and woll, Missy Mommy!
Me: Yes, rock and roll, indeed.

* * * *



Thursday, December 05, 2002

Worst neighbors ever!!! Okay, I posted once about my neighbor woman leaving me an anonymous note bitching about my dogs but that family has moved. Not because of us, mind you, they were in the process of building another house when we first moved in, so their move was on the table for some time, we just didn't know when. They moved out a week before Halloween and the new people moved in. You know how when a new neighbor moves in and they have a bunch of people helping them and you try to guess which ones are the people who are going to live there and which ones are just their friends helping them move, and you find yourself saying, "Oh, I hope it's those two, they look like a nice couple...gosh, I hope it's not that guy, he seems obnoxious..." I had done that but it turned out to be a moot exercise, as there were two families moving in - sadly, they were all the people that I'd said, "Wow, I hope it's not them" about. And I was right - worst neighbors ever.

The two men are brothers and they're both living in the house with their wives and kids for a year, renting. At the end of the year they're going to decide which family buys the house and stays and which family has to move on. It's like a Fox reality show or something - I can't believe these guys all agreed to this. Their house is around the same size as our house, and with the five of us (three of which are kids) I feel crowded at times. They have four adults and four kids living there, three of which are little boys under the age of six. Oh, the horror! I couldn't imagine a worse nightmare than how these people are living.

All that aside, these guys all lived in the same small town about an hour north of here - I talked with one of the guys one night and got the scoop - and he told me that his sister-in-law was nervous about living in "a big city". What, surely he didn't mean Coon Rapids being a big city...but yes, he did. The town they're from had a whopping population of just under a thousand - I said to him, "So you and your brother grew up in a town with a population of a thousand people and you both married girls you grew up with? How lucky for you that your soul mates were so close - I had to go to England to find mine." The sarcasm was lost on him. I thought, okay, so he's a little thick but he's nice enough - I could live with this guy being my neighbor. That's when the friends started arriving.

I overhear quite a bit of their conversations because these are some of the loudest people I've ever known. And they're what my father would refer to as "country bumpkins" - one girl was saying, "I love the downtown area...did you see they have two delis here? Two!" Gasp, two delis - how very New York of us. I wanted to tell her, "Yeah, we have two delis but you still can't get a decent pastrami sandwich in this town". The neighbor said, "Yep, two delis, and we have a Home Depot and a Menards." Oh, what a booming metropolis this must be to be able to support two home improvement stores! So yeah, they're bumpkins.

Apparently they still think they live on their farm because they're up around four in the morning every day - and they get visitors at that time as well. The visitors are just as loud in the morning as they are at other hours of the day so I can hear everything that's going on outside from in my living room. One morning they started a fire in the backyard and stood around it drinking coffee. They say things like, "Well, Hank, you've driven the hour to get here, might as well stay for a few days and make that drive worth your trouble." Hank replies, "Yep, I reckon so." Hank looked to be about twenty-five years old and he said, "I reckon so." I can't be friends with someone who reckons things, my tolerance level just isn't that high.

Oh, I could go on and on about these people, about their dogs, about the fence they're building, about the used car lot they've apparently opened in their driveway, about their dubious parenting ("How close is the park to the train tracks? Only three blocks, huh...I guess that means I can't let the boys go to the park by themselves cuz if they hear a train they'll wander away"...when "the boys" are all under six and the park is around two blocks away - you're damn right you're not letting the kids go to the park by themselves, idiot! My nine year old still has to take a walkie talkie with her to the park and check in with me.) but I'll stop the complaining for now. I can't hear myself think with these people shouting, "Boy, you sure have done well for yourself - now show me around downtown..." When they say that it's easy to assume they mean Minneapolis but no, they mean Main Street. All of the three glorious blocks of it. I don't usually wish ill on other humans but when this year of renting is up I truly hope that they both decide they can't afford the house payment on their own and all move away. Maybe a voodoo spell is in order...

It's going to be a long year.



A few things I've been thinking about -

  • What the hell is the point of the hole in the wooden spoon? Pasta measurement? To reduce resistance when stirring liquids? What the hell is the point?!?

  • Paul Whitehouse from "Brilliant!" is absolutely hilarious - picture an old man, half-asleep and drunk in a chair...very posh man...mumbling incoherently like, "...grumble blah...didn't know the lass was sixteen...murmble gasp...daffodils sticking right out of his bum!...plunder ghast...of course, I was very, very drunk." Oh, to see it is a joy, it's hilarious.

  • Being relegated to the couch seems like a good idea in principle but really, deep down I'm cursing Andy. The couch is narrow and uncomfortable.

  • The basement is fecking freezing.

  • Cheap brandy is better than none at all.



Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Boy, do I feel like crap today. I haven't felt this awful in a long time; I've got it all today. Head throbbing, tummy ache, and that general body pain that makes you feel as if you went a few rounds with the business end of a golf club. Oh, and my left eye has suddenly gone blind - not totally blind, but just so everything is fuzzy and out of focus, like there's a glob of Vaseline covering the eyeball. I think it's a testament to how bad the rest of me feels to be able to casually say, "Hey, I'm blind today, how about that?" I'm such a One-Eye McSquinty that when I was chasing my dog today (she had stolen a tea bag that I'd dropped on the floor) I didn't make an allowance for my lack of depth perception and slammed my shoulder into a very solid hutch. And it was my bad shoulder, too, the one I have arthritis in from a surgery I had a few years back. So yeah, I'm in an absolutely stellar mood at the moment.

I wish I would have been sick yesterday, but no, I woke up at six with the sun shining out of my ass and actually felt pretty good for the first time in days. Then my eldest informed me she had a tummy ache and wanted to stay home from school. I'm very lucky in that I have a kid I can trust to tell the truth about this kind of stuff - she's not one to fake-sick to get out of school. Not yet, anyway. I thought, great, she's home so she'll be a distraction for Zoe and I can get some work done - but oh, no. Apparently, Little Miss Tummy Ache recovered enough that she wanted to play and there went the neighborhood. Sam and Zoe absolutely trashed the place. I decided to hang out in my room with Nic and let them get on with it - I haven't had as much "mommy and baby" time as I'd like so I took advantage of his open-eyes time to play with him. Well, the playing basically consisted of me rubbing his head, making faces, and pretending he was really kissing me back instead of merely trying to suck my lips. It was pretty fun.

The one thing I wished for more than anything was to take a shower by myself. That would have been sweet - but instead of Sam keeping an eye on the little ones while I showered, she decided to hang out in the bathroom with me, too. Around here I know better than to even close the door when I go into the bathroom because I always have people walking in on me, no matter what I'm doing. Three kids and three dogs - that's twelve eyes watching me shower and no one even paid a cover charge. Maybe it was really eleven eyes - I'm not convinced that Bowie can see very well out of her one blue eye. Still, that's a large audience. Thanks to Samantha twittering away chatting at me I forgot to rinse the conditioner from my hair, and Zoe insisted on playing "Trick or Treat" which meant that she banged open the shower door every few minutes and stuck her hand in so that I could pretend to give her candy. Highly annoying.

Zoe's just presented me with the Austin Powers DVD - we don't have a single DVD in this house that she hasn't mucked up in some way. We've had to buy the Harry Potter movie twice because of her destructive tendencies. She has a bit of a fascination with Austin Powers, which I blame on her father. For Zoe's first Halloween we dressed her up as Mini Me to complement Andy's Dr. Evil costume for work. It was pretty freaky because Andy could have been his body-double. He even does the accent really well - I hate it, totally freaks me out. But hey, he won a television from the costume contest at work, so I can't complain. He picked up Goldmember last night, along with Lilo & Stitch for the kids, but as soon as Zoe saw what we were watching she abandoned Sam to watch L&S on her own while she climbed up and watched Goldmember with us. So I guess she's telling me she wants to watch it again - sucks for me, because I didn't find it all that funny the first time. Three highlights stick out from the whole movie - Kevin Spacey being Dr. Evil, which I found absolutely hilarious; the way Goldmember would say things like, "I'm Dutch, isn't that weird?" and when Ozzy Osbourne went on about how Goldmember just ripped off the same jokes from the first two movies. At least, that's what I think he was saying...oh hey, I just had a funny thought - Ozzy Osbourne should go on King of the Hill - I'd love to see him talking with Boomhower. Okay, maybe it's not a funny thought, but again, it's testament to how sick I am, that I'm chuckling to myself at the thought.

Anyway, now I'm off to once again watch Goldmember - all of this one-eyed squinting has now hurt my right eye as well so I'd better rest it before it goes all funky on me, too.

In the land of the blind-ly,


Monday, December 02, 2002

Speaking of St. Paul...this is an open post to the kids who vandalized the billboard of Norm Coleman with anti-Jewish grafitti:

Kids, don't hate Norm Coleman because he's Jewish, that just shows a massive lack of imagination. There are many, many other reasons to hate the man. How about spray-painting a nice fetus on the billboard next time, or an image of a child getting shot in the face by a neighbor's child who found an unlocked, loaded and concealed weapon? Maybe a few teen mothers who had to drop out of school to take care of their children wouldn't be too difficult to draw. Is that why you chose a swastika, because it's easy? Because to tell you the truth, every time I try to draw a swastika I always forget which side the little lines are supposed to be crooked on and I end up drawing a star of David instead. Crazy, isn't it?

Anyway, next time, please don't take the easy way out. By defacing this billboard you've received state-wide attention...do you really want to be known as the swastika guys? Probably not. You could do so much better than that, I'm sure. Go for the gold, I believe in you.



Three hours of sleep - that's all my guy could afford to give me, I guess. Three lousy hours of sleep. And what did I dream about? Trying to get some sleep. Seriously - there was this generic James Bond kind of guy trying to get me to sleep with him...I don't know which James Bond he was since he was standing in the shadows, but by the way he said, "Ih believe weer shupooshedta be mahking love now" I think it was Sean Connery. I was like, "Yeah, maybe later, James, but for now could you change the baby while I take a nap? Women find men who take care of babies really sexy you know." Suddenly, James Bond turned into James Brown and I was like, "Didn't your dad kill you?" and he said, "No, I think that was Marvin Gaye. I'm the coke-head wife-beater." I said, "Wasn't that Ike Turner?" and he said, "Yeah, him, too." Then I woke up - utterly useless dream; I didn't even get to do anything cool, like take a nap while 007 changed my kid. I bet he'd have used some gadget to help him do it, too.

I think I have James Bond on the brain because Andy and I spent most of Thanksgiving lying in bed watching the 007 marathon on TNN. I never really realized how crap those films are - and I don't care how big of a rack those Bond women may have had, most of them were annoying to the point that I wouldn't have taken the three minutes to get to know them before sleeping with them. I used to think the Austin Powers movies were really clever for mocking the movies but then I realized that a lot of the jokes in the originals could have easily been right at home with most of the AP jokes. For example, this exchange is definitely Mike Meyers-worthy:

007: The name's Bond. James Bond. And you are?
Bond Girl: My name's Plenty, Plenty O'Toole.
007: Named for your father, I presume?

Ugh, crass. Then again, there are some totally baffling exchanges like:

Japanese Guy: Would you like a martini, Mr. Bond?
007: No thank you, I'll have some sake. I quite like sake, especially when it's served at the proper temperature: 98.4 degrees Fahrenheit. (takes a sip) As this obviously is.
Japanese Guy: How very European of you!

Why is this "very European" of him? What, because 007's English and the Japanese guy expected him to quote the Centigrade temperature? Do they use Fahrenheit in Europe? I have no clue. It's like Andy's insistence on knowing the outside temperature converted to Centigrade - he'll say, "The high temperature for today is 15 degrees Fahrenheit, so what is that Centigrade?" It's like he doesn't believe it's cold until he gets that temperature converted...I want to say to him, "Listen, it's December in Minnesota, the little number on the thermometer doesn't mean crap. It's cold, that's all you need to know." Yet he tortures himself with the numbers - I'm tempted to convert all of the temperatures to Kelvin, really throw him off.

I didn't plan to spend Thanksgiving lying in bed - that morning I'd taken Samantha to the airport and was in pretty high spirits, despite having woken up at six to do it. We took a different route to the airport than usual which took us snaking through both Minneapolis and St. Paul. Samantha, ever the keen observer of the blatantly obvious, said, "Have you ever noticed that St. Paul and Minneapolis look a lot a like?" Dripping with sarcasm, I replied, "No, I haven't noticed that - in fact, no one has ever noticed that, which is why absolutely no one calls them the Twin Cities. Duh." She gave me a grumpy look that was far too similar to my own and said, "Leave me alone, it's early!"

Coming back from the airport I took advantage of a wrong turn and the light traffic and decided to drive around a bit, when lo, what should my eyes spy but a sign for the store "Tuesday Morning." My tummy gave a funny lurch as I tried to place where I'd heard that name before and I remembered it was an entry in mopsa's blog once where she mentioned that her mom shopped there. How goofy am I - I was like, "Oh, so that's Tuesday Morning!" as if it were famous. I did the same thing when I would watch "Roseanne" back in the eighties - their grandma was from Moline, my hometown area, and when she would come for a visit Roseanne would say something about Moline. It always left me breathless, like we were sort-of famous. Lame.

The thing that struck me the most about St. Paul is that once you're there you realize that it's absolutely nothing at all like Minneapolis. St. Paul has so much dignity, I suppose you could say, compared to Minneapolis. And by "dignity" I think I just mean "old" - St. Paul is really old-looking, not nearly as trendy as Minneapolis. And it's a lot cleaner by far, and the streets are set up in a logical order, and it's just really pretty and peaceful. Of course, there weren't many cars around that morning - if I'd have seen it in rush hour I'm sure I'd curse it as much as I do downtown Minneapolis. Still, a nice drive - though I'm embarassed to say that in the nearly four years that I've lived here that was my first time through St. Paul. I should be ashamed - but I'm not.

And now I've used Nic's "long nap" to type rather than get Zoe to take a nap with me, or clean, or do any of the other things that I wanted to get done. Now we get to play "The Fugitive" where I'm the one-armed man storming through the house trying to get things done. I'm one-armed, of course, because I will be holding the baby, who seems to think that if he's more than three feet away from me that something terrible is going to happen to him.



It's going on midnight, everyone's asleep, I have two pockets full of chocolate chips and a hard cider at the side of me, which I'm rather unladylike-ly sucking straight from the bottle. Ah, life is good. Or rather, it can be good...this isn't exactly a Kodak moment, but there you go - take it where you can get it.

So today was World AIDS day, ppphhbbttttt. Whatever. Millions of people dying all over the world and we throw one stupid day at it like it's going to matter. Every time I've thought of the whole "AIDS day" thing it's just pissed me off, and it didn't help that I'd read an article by an HIV-positive writer who was moaning about the apathetic attitude many people seem to have lately about the disease - he cited low turn-out to rallies, waning contributions towards research, etc. While I can certainly empathize with all of these sentiments...I mean, hell, my mother wouldn't be alive today (and that's certainly no exaggeration, as she's been on several cutting-edge, pseudo-experimental government funded research drugs) were it not for fund-raising contributions there was one aspect of the article in question that really bothered me - the author has been HIV-positive since 1998. This isn't someone who was caught off-guard, as so many people were, in the seventies and eighties; this was someone who just a few short years ago was engaging in high-risk behavior and admitted to having anonymous sex without condoms despite knowing the risks. And there he is, moaning that no one cares anymore...it may sound callous but it's like saying to someone, "Look, you can't swim, don't get into the water because you'll drown - crap, you got into the water anyway, well, here's a life jacket - take the life jacket, stupid, you're going to drown! How many damn life jackets do I need to throw you now that you've been stupid enough to get into the water to begin with despite all of my warnings?" My mother knew the risks and chose to ignore them seven years ago - this guy knew the risks, particularly as a gay man, and chose to ignore them. Kiddo, if you don't wear your seat belt don't expect me to cry too much for you when your dumb ass goes through the windshield. Okay, I'm mixing metaphors now, I should stop the bitching.

I think the reason that all of this has my back up is because of my brother. I've mentioned him once, I think, on here...he's gay and doesn't have a whole lot of contact with my mom's family, primarily (I think) because he doesn't like my dad. He's from my dad's first marriage, which produced two daughters and a son, and my dad's ex-wife pretty much poisoned those siblings against my dad and my mom's kids. Those kids are Skank, Bitch, and Bro, for future reference. Skank is in jail somewhere, I think - Bitch is nowhere as far as I'm concerned, and Bro is somewhere "dahn sath", or so his accent tells me - he moves around a lot. Despite being rather close when we were younger (he's around seven years older than me and lived with us until he was around sixteen) we're not so close anymore. In fact, the last time I spoke to him was last Christmas where I got drunk and called him and bitched to no end about Bitch and the way she's treated my dad. Anyway!

So Bro calls my dad not so long ago, they shoot the breeze for a while, and somehow it transpires that Bro tells my dad that his boyfriend has come up positive for HIV. (Despite living with my mom having the disease for so long I don't know at what point it turns from HIV into AIDS but I'm more apt to say HIV when discussing it...maybe because HIV is just a virus and AIDS is a whole syndrome, I don't know - psychological thing, I guess.) Now, Bro didn't say that he came up positive, but knowing him like I've known him I'm pretty sure this was his "closeted" way of telling my dad that he, in fact, had the virus himself. I don't know - I can't bring myself to call him. I'm not sure he'd even come clean with me about it all at this point. It's a bit hard when you have to say, "This is Natalie...your sister, remember?" and hearing the, "Ahhh, my sister" because he couldn't place the name.

But it brings me back to the original point - who the hell is getting HIV in the year 2002? Maybe it's better if I don't talk to Bro as I'm sure I'd say something like, "Okay you moron, what, have you had your head buried in the sand for the past twenty years or something? Do you not realize how people get HIV?" Wholly unproductive. I've had too many very close friends - one of which, ironically, was the boyfriend of an ex-boyfriend of my Bro's - stricken with the disease and even too damn many of my family members hit with it for me to be able to dole out the emotional support anymore. There's nothing left to give, there really isn't, and I can't make any apologies for not being able to garner sympathy for some guy who got the disease in 1998.

That's been what's been on my mind today - AIDS, my Bro, that whole thing. I've avoided calling my father in case he heard something about AIDS day and it conjured up feelings about Bro...I don't think that it would, but I can never read my dad. As I've said before, Bro came out at an early age, not that he needed to, and decided to move back with his mom shortly after that. Bro told me once that he moved away (to North Carolina? I dunno.) with his mom because he was feeling like my dad wasn't digging on him living at our house anymore. It's taken Bro years - literally years to realize my dad never gave a second thought to the "gay thing". In fact, for a while I didn't think my dad acknowledged the fact that Bro was gay because he never talked about it, until Bro got into a car accident. What is was is that Bro was walking on this wall thing that was built to keep part of a hill from flowing over the road - I don't know what it's called, but it was basically a retainer wall built from railroad ties. Not important - anyway, Bro was drunk and balancing on this thing when he fell off. As he fell, a car came around the blind curve and hit him as he was falling. Huge, fuck-off bad accident...long story short, Bro ended up with some long-term amnesia and - seriously - forgot he was gay. Didn't know who the hell he was for a long time, and when he did sort-of sort out who he was he didn't know that he wasn't supposed to like girls. It was utterly crazy; he ended up with some girlfriend - a lot of what I know from this time came second-hand from Bro's mom, who lived near him - and he decided he was going to marry her. Bro called my dad to tell him and my dad panicked - he was like, "Whatever you do, don't get this girl pregnant." I didn't understand why this was such an issue until one night I was hanging with my dad and asked him about it - he said, "The thing of it is, Natalie, is one of these days he's going to remember he's gay. It's one thing to divorce someone but it's something else entirely to have to explain that to a kid." Again, long story short, Bro "woke up" and regained all of the details of his life, came out to his girlfriend, blah blah blah. Happy ending, no? But the thing I take away from all of this is that my dad - who could have very easily said, "Hey, son, way to go...you marry that gal, start that family!" in the hopes that his son would "straighten" out, didn't do that. He thought about potential off-spring...know what I mean? He knew that Bro would figure it out eventually and my dad just didn't want a kid to get caught up in that. I think that's very cool. Another cool thing about all of this was I'd said something to my dad one night because I'd heard him talking about all of this to a friend of his who has a gay son as well...but dad didn't mention the accident. I asked my dad why he would leave this detail out of his story and he said, "I don't want him pushing his kid out in front of a car to make him straight." I was floored - my father was actually astute. Doff of the cap to him, indeed.

Jessica tapdancing christ, I've spent a half-hour writing that, and that was so totally not the direction I wanted to take this entry. I guess I've been more preoccupied than I let myself realize with it all - which really is short-sighted when you think about everyone in the rest of the world who are dying, literally, out of ignorance of the disease. Western world, you can kiss my ass if you want sympathy over becoming HIV positive in this day and age because you just couldn't resist making off with someone in a bar one night and being stupid...I'll save my sympathy for the poor African women who are forced to have sex with their positive husbands with no protection because it's their "duty" as a woman - even when they know their husbands have been fooling around. I read a story - in Readers Digest, of all places - about the AIDS epidemic in Africa where some truck driver was talking about having sex with hookers while he was on the road...it was a lot of "A man has needs, you know" kind of thing, and the interviewer asked him if he ever used the condoms that are freely distributed in bars, gas stations, pretty much everywhere an African truck-driver would go. This guy, with no sense of irony whatsoever, said that he didn't want to use those condoms because they were free, and how effective could a free condom be? Lordy, I wish I were making that up.

1.00 and it's cider number two...

My little Beastly has woken up. I don't want to do too much navel gazing with regards to my kids because I know how annoying it can be to other people but this boy-o really is a wonder. We did Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday (Sam was in Illinois with her dad until then, which is why we pushed the dinner back) for the first time since I've been with Andy and it really was a special thing. I mean, I'd busted my ass cooking all day long for the sake of what amounted to a ten-minute chow fest but it was worth it. When I finally whooshed into my seat I was able to look around the table at Andy discussing crossword puzzles with Samantha, at Zoe delcaring, "I no yike dis" as she shovelled food into her mouth, to Nic, who was staring wide-eyed at the purple light bulbs I still had in my dining room from the night he was born - and I thought, "If this isn't nice, then what is?" That's exactly what it was...it was a take-a-deep-breath-and-smile-to-yourself kind of nice. Nothing big, just a little something inside that pops and makes you open your eyes. For as much as I bitch - and lordy knows I do - I wouldn't change a bit of it, not for anything. I don't know how many people can ever say that, let alone on such a regular basis as I do. Simple and happy, simply happy. I highly recommend it.

Though, of course, I cooked far too much for my small family and now we're on leftovers for days. I told Samantha one of my favorite dinner-time, "Eat what I put in front of you" stories about when my Gran lived with us when I was younger. My grandma was Jewish but I didn't really know that until I was older as she never discussed it with me. I remember asking her once why she got so upset with me when I wanted bacon for breakfast - she said, "My gypsy, we don't eat bacon." (She always called me her "gypsy princess", though I'm not sure why.) I asked why we couldn't eat bacon and she said, "We don't eat pigs because that's where the devil lives." Ooookay, gran, easy enough for my five-year-old brain to comprehend - I could just see myself at breakfast, "Mom, these pancakes are delicious! Oh, and coud you please pass the Devil?" Nah, not happening. So we didn't have pork.

What Gran used to do - beside speak in backwards questions like, "What, this aggravation you think I need?" - was make us her Friday stew, which was comprised of leftovers of every dinner we'd had that week. Most of my youth was spent fighting four other kids for leftovers but when my gran lived at our house there were always plenty left to go into her Friday stew...no matter how much we stuffed ourselves. We would try to eat all of the leftovers so that maybe, just once, we wouldn't have enough for the stew and would get to...I don't know, order a pizza or some chicken or something. But no, we always had enough, and it always made for the most revolting meal we'd ever had, on a weekly basis mind you, which was no small feat. "What, you want for I should waste this food? Kids in China would kill for this food!" Gran seemed to think that Chinese kids were absolutely starving for some reason. So stew it was - dad called it "Jew Stew" but he didn't complain too much beyond that. Though I did witness, on occasion, him throwing out particularly horrid leftovers so that they wouldn't be included in that Friday's meal.

My gran was a tiny little woman, born in Russia, who taught me many valuable lessons - like where to hide food in my room "If the need should arise" and the benefits of drinking warm beer. "Och, you should be so picky! It's warm but it's still a drink. What are you, a Romanov, to turn down a free drink?" She had a little case that I was told was meant to hold champagne - it was lined with fur but she kept a couple of cans of Budwiser on one side and a load of smashed up Twinkies on the other. Cool woman, she was. Oh shit, did I just say my sentence backwards? Must be Chanukah that has me thinking this way.

Boy, Chanukah really sucks - I don't think people realize this. That whole eight nights of gifts thing really is a farce. I remember one year my first gift was a belt. Second night was a pair of stockings - on and on it went until I received an entire outfit...whoo, a whole outfit, a dress, stockings, shoes, hair bow, the works! Most of the time the gifts were given as parts of a whole gift - it's not like I got, say, a bike for the first night, then a new tape player, then some Barbies or whatever...all eight nights were parts of one "larger" gift. It totally sucked. I mean, I was really sad when my gran moved into her own apartment after living with us for so long, but at least we got Christmas presents after she left - and after all, isn't that what kids really care about?

I wanted to write more about this whole jumble of crap I've had going on in my head but it's now 1.50 and I have my little man sleeping in my lap so I'll have to save it all for another day - no, don't cry! - but I think I have Nic's sleeping patterns down to the point where I can get away for a while during the day and post with some more regularity, rather than letting my brain shit all over Blogger when I get the chance, like I've done tonight. Christly christ, this is a long read, and a doff of the cap to anyone who made it through it all.

In honor of my "What, for I should read this rubbish?" grandma, I've decided to post the lyrics to Adam Sandler's Chanukah song - don't see the movie, as I've heard it's awful, but the song is really good for us little misplaced and confused Jewish kids.



The Hanukkah Song by Adam Sandler

Put on your yarmulke, it's time to celebrate Hanukkah
Its so much fun-akkah to celebrate Hanukkah,

Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights,
Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights.

When you feel like the only kid in town without a Christmas tree,
Heres a list of people who are Jewish, just like you and me:

David Lee Roth lights the menorrah,
So do James Caan, Kirk Douglas, and the late Dinah Shore-ah

Guess who eats together at the Carnegie Deli,
Bowzer from Sha-na-na, and Arthur Fonzerrelli.

Paul Newmans half Jewish; Goldie Hawns half too,
Put them together--what a fine lookin Jew!

You dont need Deck the Halls or Jingle Bell Rock
Cause you can spin the dreidl with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock--both Jewish!

Put on your yarmulke, its time for Hanukkah,
The owner of the Seattle Supersonic-ahs celebrates Hanukkah.

O.J. Simpson-- not a Jew!
But guess who is...Hall of Famer--Rod Carew--(he converted!)

We got Ann Landers and her sister Dear Abby,
Harrison Fords a quarter Jewish-- not too shabby!

Some people think that Ebeneezer Scrooge is,
Well, he's not, but guess who is: All three stooges.

So many Jews are in show biz--
Tom Cruise isn't, but I heard his agent is.

Tell your friend Veronica, it's time you celebrate Hanukkah
I hope I get a harmonica, on this lovely, lovely Hanukkah.

So drink your gin-and-tonic-ah, and smoke your marijuana-kah,
If you really, really wanna-kah, Have a happy, happy, happy, happy Hanukkah.