Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Talk, you know, converse.

Back in college acting class, I studied something called the 'Meisner Technique'.

From Wikipedia:

The most fundamental exercise in Meisner training is called Repetition, in which two actors face each other and "repeat"  back and forth.

Basically, it goes like this.  You stand with a partner and say something like, "It is a nice day" and then your partner says back, "It IS a nice day".  Then you say, "It is a NICE day" before your partner replies "It is a nice DAY!"  You continue this repetition for several minutes, conveying various emotional truths to each other without ever varying from the original phrase. 

Got it? 

Excellent!  Consider yourself now qualified for a satisfying career in auditioning for antiperspirant commercials.

The reason I bring this up is that, of late, life with the Snood has devolved into one long Meisner exercise.  Because he has started to express his every thought, feeling and emotion using the only word he knows.  And that word is:


Snood and I sit together, for hours at a time, engaged in deep conversations which sound something like this:

Snood:  ARP!  (I am deeply concerned about the appearance of a mysterious new object around the outer ring of my exersaucer.)

Me:  ARP! (Why don't you investigate and get back to me?)

Snood: ARP!  (It seems to be some kind of man-like figure whose transparent belly region is filled with marbles.  How whimsical!)

Me:  ARP! (I'm glad you like it).

Snood: ARP! (Wait a minute!  Did you put this here?)

Me:  ARP! (Yes, I found it in the sale bin at Ross for only 2 dollars and I thought you might enjoy it.)

Snood:  ARP!  (By gum, you've done it again!  You are surely the best-est mommy in all of Christendom!)

Me:  ARP! (Thanks, Snoodie!)

*end scene*

To be honest, some of our conversations are not quite as pleasant .  For example:

Snood:  ARP! (I'm hungry)

Me:  ARP! (I guess it is about that time. Give me a second and  I'll make you some cereal.)

Snood:  ARP!  (I said I'm hungry!!!)

Me: ARP!  (Oh no!)

Snood: ARP!  (I'M HUNGRY!)

Me:  ARP!  (Snoodie, I'm hurrying!)

Snood:  ARP!  (You infernal idiot!  Where's my food?)

Me:  ARP!  (I can't find the applesauce!)

Snood:  (devolving into unintelligible screams) (I told you forty-five seconds ago that I was hungry and I still don't have any food!  You are the worst mother ever!!!!  EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

*end scene*

Whether our conversations are good or bad, positive or negative, each one foreshadows the same inevitable truth.  And that is that, sometime within the next several months - the Snood is going to learn how to speak English! 

And that is going to seriously cramp my life style.

No more cursing in the house!  

No more questionable television choices while Snood plays in his jumperoo within earshot!

As you probably are already aware, once these kids start to understand stuff - they hear EVERYTHING.  

When my sister Kate was about three years old my mother came upon her sitting on the floor and singing a little song of her own invention.  The lyrics were, "when mommy breaks a glass she yells, dammit, dammit!"

A friend was riding in the car with her young son last week.  As she flipped through the radio stations she landed on a commercial for a "gentleman's club" that was featuring "Friday Night Jello Wrestling."  "Jello wrestling?" her son shrieked from the backseat, "We have to go to that!!!"  She is still trying to explain to him why they will not be attending an event that combines two of his all-time favorite things.

The point being that Snood is growing closer each day to reaching this stage himself - and it makes me wonder if it might, perhaps, be time for me to take action.  

Do I need to start weaning myself off Akon and Howard Stern and attempting to build up a tolerance for Raffi and the Wiggles?

Should my husband and I start doing drills where we practice yelling out, say, "Fudgie the Whale!" when I bang my hand against the counter or someone cuts him off in traffic?

Maybe we should.   Last night I sang Snoodie to sleep with a song I just couldn't get out of my head after hearing Jamie Foxx on the radio:

Blame it on the vodka!
Blame it on the Henny!
Blame in on the Blue Tap, got you feeling dizzy.
Blame is on the ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-alcohol!  Blame it on the ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-alcohol!

Oh, car rides blasting Power 106 - where hip hop lives!   I think I'm going to miss you most of all!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Bump in the Night

I want to review, at the top of this post, one of my earlier pieces of advice:



Truly everything I Googled from "my baby is drooling" to "green poop" was met by messages of unrelenting doom and assurances of impending NICU visits.  

This from such heralded experts as hotmomz1767@senet.com and luvmyboys245@marqvile.gov.

Do not consult these freaks.  Most of them are getting their medical know-how from the people who live in their teeth.  


I provided this highly sound theory just four weeks ago on this blog.  And then, yesterday morning, I ignored it completely.

It all started when I went to collect the Snood from his crib and noticed what experts would call a "strange thing on his face."  It was a good-sized red bump right next to his ear.  Like a pimple.

My husband had already left for work and, left to my own devices, I panicked...and then I Googled.

Let's start with the positives:

I now have a go-to solution for those of you who have been complaining about getting far too much good, restful sleep.  Why not try doing a Google image search for "mysterious skin lesions"?  I can almost guarantee you'll never rest in a dreamless state again.

Moving onto the negatives:

I was immediately met with an abundance of theories about what might be wrong with the Snood:

MRSA!  Abscesses!  Flesh eating bacteria!  

I left no potential horror unexamined as I clicked through page after page of dubious medical musings. About five minutes into some scholarly research at www.kcom.edu/ facultychamberlaine/skineye.htm, I had my final diagnosis!   

The Snood was suffering from a rare Bolivian toad-borne virus.

Having never visited Bolivia, it remained something of a mystery how the Snood might have contracted said virus, but I wasn't about to let that little fact impinge on my Googlian logic!   

No!  I had arrived at my disturbing conclusion and was now off to the races. Before long I was mentally preparing for my inevitable appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, in order to promote my harrowing personal memoir, "It Began With a Mystery Bump: One Mother's Journey of Courage"!

I tearfully called my husband to tell him of our baby's condition.  He listened patiently and then gently suggested that it might be time to close the computer and call the pediatrician's office.

Thankfully, Snood's pediatrician is a very lovely and understanding woman.  We went to visit her late that afternoon and, as it happens, she was able to completely rule out Bolivian frog plague as the source of the problem almost immediately.

Instead, she diagnosed the Snood with...a pimple. 

She advised me to hold off on the Oprah booking for the time being and then she gave me a tube of cream, which she instructed me to rub on the affected area three times a day.  As she sent me on my way, she assured me that the now non-mystery bump would likely disappear by week's end...

...but not before she told me to stop Googling.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


My husband is away on business.  

Visiting a far-off land now referred to in our household only as Ja-frickin'-pan. (Usually said while hanging head in despair.  Use it in a sentence?  OK!

Husband:  "I can't believe I have to go to Ja-frickin'-pan."

Wife:  "I hate Ja-frickin'-pan!"

*End scene*)

Oh, and to clarify, we do not actually say frickin'.  We say the other thing.  But some people don't appreciate when I use bad language on the blog (hi mom!).

Let me say up front that there are many positive things about Japan.  For several years in middle school, when literally no one would deign to speak to me except to say something in the "nice pants loser" genre, there were two Japanese girls, Hiroko and Kaori, who took me under their wing. 

We did everything together and their companionship was pretty much the only thing that made middle school bearable for several delightful months.  Sadly, our friendship ended when their collective English improved enough to utter the phrase, "You are dragging us down socially."  But still, our time together was special while it lasted.

So, my fight is not with the Japanese people but rather with Japan as a country.  Which insists on being full of people who want to talk to my husband in person, while being simultaneously extremely far away.

Frick you Japan!

Some other thoughts:

We had a lovely Easter week.  

I made the questionable choice of bringing my 6-month-old to Good Friday services, both to worship and because it provided a chance to sneak in an extra hour of family time with my hard working hubby.

OK - make that 2 hours.

The service was long, and for the most part our baby performed admirably, alternating between making adorable faces and being silent.  Pretty much the ideal combo for a child his age.  The only slight glitch came towards the end of the Passion.  Sung in it's entirety (two hours, people!) at the church we attended, the rendition was haunting and beautiful.  Arguably one of the most holy and haunting moments on the Christian calendar is when Jesus' last words issue forth and the entire church kneels in reverent silence.   The entire church, that is, except Snood, who chose this moment to let out the loudest belch I have ever heard.  It still seems impossible that that much gas could somehow have been trapped in his tiny little body.  And yet, it was.

Luckily the only result was some brief laughter from the surrounding pews and then a quick return to reverence by one and all, followed by our swift exit from the proceedings.

On Sunday, David and I sat in Griffith Park cuddling and watching the Snood roll around practicing his almost-crawl.  We took the morning to relish an Easter that involved exactly zero Easter Eggs,  Easter Baskets and/or Bunny-Related Shenanigans, realizing that it was likely our last chance to do so for the next several decades.

The other major revelation of the week was as follows:

The number of pants I own that button at the waist whose button I can actually close while wearing said pants is exactly:  ZERO.  

The device pictured above is a "waistband stretcher" which promises to, "gently widen your snug jeans, skirts and shorts".  I was in dire need of such technology while attempting to dress for Easter week services.  It is amazing the amount of denial that can be contained in simple act of putting a pair of elastic waist pants. 

So now, as much as I hate to say it, I'm on a diet.  

And yes, I know I am not supposed to diet but rather, "embrace healthy lifestyle choices" but let me just make the counter-argument that I HAD TO WEAR SWEATPANTS TO EASTER MASS!  

Also, I am someone who often mistakes eating five slices of pizza instead of, say, nine for a healthy choice.  And it hasn't been working for me.  

I'm living (since this morning) on brown rice, chicken and vegetables and so far it's going great!  One day down - only several hundred to go!

And so I must ask you to forgive this post if it comes off in any way as rambling, disjointed and/or (as I reread it pre-publish) deeply culturally insensitive.

What can I say, I'M HUNGRY!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

House. Wife.

My first job ever was at our local Baskin Robbins.  Job title - scooper.

I've lost track of the number of jobs I've had since but, suffice it to say, there's been a lot of them.

I was a bicycle messenger in Manhattan (my mother's heart broke a little the day she asked me, her college-educated daughter, how my day was and I responded 'Some dude spit on me.')  

I was a Santa's helper (running interference between overweight/over-enthused children and a very sweet 85-year-old Santa).

I did a stint as a 'consumer research consultant' (you give me make-up, I tell you whether or not it burns my face off, you pay me forty dollars)

I served drinks in New Orleans during Mardi Gras (in a place so busy that we actually had a policeman protecting us behind the bar).

Basically, if you had an unskilled labor position you needed filled in the years 1988-2004, I was your go-to gal.

In the year 2009, I find myself with a new job, perhaps the strangest one yet.

I am...a housewife.

I tried to deny this basic truth for several months after having the Snood by telling myself that my 'current situation' was complicated:

I was really a writer who was, as they say in Hollywood, "in-between assignments."

I was "taking a little time away from my career to be with the baby."

I just "happened to be trying out a few new pie recipes right now!  It didn't mean anything!!!"

But, the fact is that, while every morning my husband got up, showered and headed to an office to work in exchange for monetary compensation and personal fulfillment - I got up and put on slippers and a robe. I spent the next 12 hours meeting the every need of a tiny, unreasonable maniac in exchange for zero dollars, pausing only to whip up some dinner and/or desperately cling to the hope that perhaps tomorrow things will go a little more smoothly.

After a while there was no denying it.  Housewife was the only job title that fit.

My Aunt Terry (www.terrymartinhekker.com) wrote a book in 1976 called EVER SINCE ADAM AND EVE.  In it, she extolled the virtues of being a stay-at-home mom and the simple joys of housewifery.  

32 years later, she has a new book coming out.  It is titled, I kid you not, "DISREGARD FIRST BOOK."  Turns out that, for Aunt Terry, the simple joys of housewifery weren't so simple after all.  But so far, now that I've come to terms with it, I have to say the housewife gig is workin' out pretty well for me. 

 Sure, there are some definite downsides (have I mentioned that the boss is a tad...unreasonable?)  But compared to telemarketing?  It's not too shabby.  Compared to taking a subway for an hour to work under flourescent lights for 8 hours a day in pantyhose?   It's not half bad.  

Plus, I can state with great certainty that I far prefer being vomited upon by the Snood than by my drunken former patrons on Bourbon Street. 

Now, I don't claim to know what the future will bring.  Who's to say if years spent raising kids and taking care of home and hearth will bring a deep sense of personal fulfillment or deep desire run off to Guam with the poolboy?  Only time will tell.  But until then, I plan to carry on - housewive-ing it up!  (Or perhaps I will change my mind during the course of the week and my next entry will be entitled "DISREGARD LAST BLOG.")

Because sure, some days when I catch up with friends who are still pursuing satisfying job paths or achieving lofty goals at work, I find myself thinking of my own career goals deferred.  And, yes, there is a certain sense of melancholy at such moments.  But then, a single thought comes to mind.  It is the thought that I turn to again and again for comfort.  The thought that always manages to bring me a deep and abiding sense of peace with my current decision to embrace housewifery.  And the thought is this...

...at least at my job - there's pie!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spring Break

Yes, it's that most wonderful time of the year - - - when scores of co-eds across this great land head to assorted coastal towns in order to make poor choices.

Why is this relevant in a blog about a short fat dictator, you may ask?  Well, for me, it means that I have my nieces visiting from Chicago for the week.   For you, it means that this entry will be short to the point of existing - almost not at all.

A brief update:  

  • In the past week I have managed to commit exactly zero larcenies.  For those keeping track this represents a 100% improvement from the week before!  I am currently accepting congratulatory gifts in the form of paypal, if you feel so inclined.
  • The Snoods is furiously attempting to crawl.  He now is able to get forward motion and get his entire body off the ground.  His seemingly endless frustration stems from the fact that he is not able to do both of these things at the same time.  My relationship with him has devolved into an endless cycle: I place him on the rug on his back.  He flips over and attempts to crawl.  He is unable to do so and begins to scream loudly.  I eventually go over, offer some soothing words, and flip him onto his back.  Repeat until insane
  • My husband, having returned from China is now leaving for Japan.  I am beginning to seriously wonder if he has one of those secret second families in Asia.  I hope, for his sake, that his Asian wife is nicer to him than I am when he tells her about his upcoming travel plans.
Alright, that's all I got.  

Now, I return to the subtle joys of living with 4 other humans in my one-bedroom-apartment for a week!  It's like a reality-show gone bad over here.