You Look So Absurd You Look So Obscene
As I was just pouring my second gigantic drink of the evening, a drink my grandpa liked to call a Dipsy-Doodle (but which I recently found out is just a Manhattan with more cherry juice and ice), I was thinking about how Gray has been really stressed out from work lately and how about two years ago he embarked on a "30 Days of Drinking" program. He's not a drinker at all by nature, which is quite frankly a bummer for me since I like to drink quite a lot, and doing it by yourself is shall we say not especially socially acceptable. So while doing his experiment he'd come home from work, have a drink, and ostensibly get mellow. It didn't really work, it just made him tired, and probably it poached his liver a little. But he has a group of friends who all email back and forth with big life news every once in awhile, and the 30 Days Program was what he chose to tell his people about. His line went something like, I'm stressed out, work is bringing me down, so I've decided to start drinking at night when I come home. And, you know, it was kind of a funny tongue-in-cheek experiment, and he's such a teetotaler that it could never turn into anything crazy. But he has two married friends who are both shrinks, and one of them wrote back very seriously to him alone and said, "Gray. You shouldn't do this. There are better ways to cope with your stress. Don't go down this path, it's a very dark place and it could lead to addiction and it's unhealthy and it's nothing to play with." It was really nice of her, right? It just made me think shrinks are more uptight and crazy than I already did.
I was just looking at facebook photos of Comic-Con from somebody Gray knows who likes to a) photobomb people and b) took pictures of every crazy costume there. There are some gigantic Halloweenie nerds out there, let me tell you. That said I especially liked the Indiana Jones guy's costume with the spiders glued all over the back of his vest.
Tomorrow we're going to a 40th birthday party for one our friends. Except his birthday isn't until February 2012. His wife is pregnant and thinks that since the baby will be three-ish months old when his actual birthday rolls around that she won't have time to deal with a proper party, so she's having it one, two, three, four, five months early. It's a surprise for her husband, tomorrow is. I promise to have my camera out and ready to take a picture of what for sure will be the most startled, freaked-out and confused look a person having a party thrown at them has ever had on their face, and then I will share it with you.
It's Just You And Me Against Me
It's funny the things you think you'll never do to your children before you actually have children. I was positive I'd never stick them in front of the television so that the television could babysit them. Right now my not-even-two-year-old is watching Superhero Squad (rated 7+) with her 4.4-year-old brother (no stranger to things rated 7+) so that I can cook their dinner and write this. And I would be lying if I said it wasn't always the most calming and peaceful time of the day. And if that sentence was confusing with all its double negatives, let me say clearly that this is always definitely and for sure the most calm and peaceful time of my day.
Yesterday at the park while I was mindlessly pushing said two year old on the swing, these two mom-ladies next to me were having a weird conversation. I heard some numbers, then what sounded like esoteric photography things, and then I realized they were talking about camera lenses. Imagine! Two moms on a playground talking about something other than babies! It was so awesome that I butted in and totally got in on their game, and it turned out one of them was one of the area's two big family photogs. Granted, the area is pretty small, but still she's like a photography celebrity around here. And she is so nerdy it's unbelievable. Like how she ever makes kids feel comfortable enough so that she can get a natural-looking picture out of them is beyond me. But still it was awesome to not talk about diapers and bad behavior.
We have been on vacation so many times this summer it's ridiculous. And very unlike us. Usually we go nowhere and people laugh at us and say, "Don't you ever go anywhere?" And my answer is always no. So last week we were in San Diego at ComiCon (holy nerdiness Batman, speaking of nerds), and I raced up and down the SoCal highways visiting friends and places (thank you Juanita's Taco Shop in Encinitas for still being in business and being cheap and delicious after all these years, and to Lou's Records for sticking around) and it was fun, but nuts. Staying in a hotel room with two children is ridiculous. I went to bed at 9:30 one night because I couldn't turn on any lights or TV, and I don't think I've gone to bed at 9:30 in about 25 years. Another night I plucked my eyebrows for half an hour because I could only have a light on in the bathroom. And naps were awful, and the plane ride home with a lap infant was awful, and I think you just have to make peace with the fact that you'll be exhausted and wiped the whole time you're on vacation with kids. It's where "I need a vacation from my vacation" comes from. Also, sidenote: San Diego is a gigantic monetary rapist of a city when it comes to the week of ComicCon. I know it's totally foul to use that word, but I can't think of anything else that comes close to being as accurate. We stayed in a very average Hilton Hotel room, like maybe the fanciest thing was a goose-down duvet in a stylish patten, but with no in-room wifi and no free continental breakfast, and to use the hotel's internet was $1 a minute, and the hot water ran out and I could go on. Want to guess how much the room was? $420. Not for the week, but per NIGHT. Oh, San Diego, Los Angeles's beachy step-child. You're really not all that. And the adults in stormtrooper costumes walking down the street don't make up for it.
Now I will have Chinese food. Stefan took my order over the phone again. I think he knows me now... he didn't even ask for my name or number.
Heavy Is The Head That Wears The Crown
I just ordered take-out Chinese food. The guy who answered the phone sounds exactly like the guy on Saturday Night Live who plays Stefan on the news, the ubergay NYC club kid. Would our local Asian food service fellow be flattered to know this? "General Chicken. What else? Wonton soup. What else?" to me sounds like, "Club Zero. Where midgets dance on top of clowns who dance on top of of mimes who pretend they're boxing micro-midgets who are lord of the dancing on penguins." Perhaps he would be excited. This town is strange.
I don't know about this place. We've been living here for three years now, and I think I like it, but I'm not sure. I like our house, and I feel like I've made really good new friends. In fact we just went away with a couple of them for a solid week to a place east of here and had a really good time. So even I, the person who always talks about how hard it is to make good new friends, has made some good new friends. I think the community's pretty nice, but I'm thinking maybe I'm feeling separate and disconnected from it because I don't have anything really tying me down. I'm slightly active in the mother's club, but not really, and it's not enough to get really grounded. It's like when I lived in the LBC after college and I didn't have a job there and I was commuting and just coming home every night to live and I felt really super not at home there. It's not exactly like that, but a little. I need something to root me.
Now that I have one kid in preschool two mornings a week and another who is (currently) taking a two hour nap each day, I have become vaguely more creative. Got a couple things in the can, some things that require illustrators and then programmers. If I say more I will totally jinx myself, so I'll keep it under my hat until things actually move forth, but I'll say it feels good to be sort of flexing that muscle again. It has been (and still is) SO HARD to say, when people ask, "What do you do?" to just say "I used to do this and this but now I'm at home with my kids." I don't begrudge the people who are cool with that, but I feel like I'm making excuses for what I'm not doing. We'll see what happens. The bay area isn't as bad as LA in that regard, like there are more people up here who are staying at home with their kids and when they aren't it's to go back to boring pharmaceutical jobs or whatever (man, have I become a judgmental prick?) but still... the internal pressure is strong. We'll see what happens. Probably nobody feels like they don't want to fulfill their creative potential. Everybody wants to take it wherever it'll go.
In music news, I am all about the pop lately: Katy Perry, Ke$ha, with a little Elbow and Adele mixed in. It's kind of a mess, but a fun summery mess.
Just Then a Tiny Little Dot Caught My Eye
Here are some things:
The other night, after having sex (historically I have never talked about this, and I'm not about to start now, except that now you know that I've had it three times: the time I'm referring to and from the two times I've had children) and right after the moment of truth I started thinking about the Sepulveda Pass. Why am I postcoitally thinking about the Sepulveda Pass (which for those of you non-LA natives is a two-lane side channel alternate route-road which runs alongside the 405 between the Valley and the Westside)? I don't even live there anymore and I have no idea. The brain is a strange place.
I am disturbed by the new Quilted Northern commercials. Their theme seems to be that it's time to speak the truth about toilet paper, which apparently means cleanliness. As in, "use Quilted Northern for a confident clean." Which translates to "our toilet paper gets your poop off better," which, even though it's for sure the secret main reason we use toilet paper, is not something I want to think about during my two minutes of 30 Rock interstitial time. Next you will see Tampax commericals with the tagline "Soak up the blood!"
My life is per usual pretty boring, but Gray has had some exciting times at work lately so I live vicariously. One, he came home the other day complaining of his hand and wrist hurting. I thought, is it carpal tunnel? Has he been masturbating too furiously? (TWO MENTIONS of sex in one entry! What is going on with me?) But instead he said, "We got a new vending machine. I got my hand caught in the vending machine trying to get my stuff out." Nice. The second thing is that he and his coworkers have been going through sexual harassment training, and he goes, "Has anybody ever thrown a jellybean down your shirt into your cleavage?" and I said, "What?" and he goes, "Apparently that's the number one way to sexually harass -- to throw a jellybean or a piece of popcorn down the shirt of a lady and say, 'Can I help you get that out?'" So now I'm envisioning this miniature Don Juan, like a little spanish man with a bushy moustache wearing a short-sleeved button-down white shirt and a brown tie walking around offices across America tossing jellybeans down shirts of women and wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.
Also, I've decided children are like bipolar monkeys.
Shed Lights On Your Better Side
I think Facebook is a cultural phenomenon of the sort that deserves some serious study. Serious, seriously.
I was just reading a story (something longer than a status update, something shorter than an essay) that one of my friends posted about nighttime animal invaders in her garage, a semi-entertaining bit where she talked about being confronted with the choice of snuffing out the life out of a raccoon. There were eight or so comments that got condensed so that I could only read the last two, and these last two were so out of context that I clicked on all of them to read what got people there. So this thread talks about chickens dying, some other miscellaneous nocturnal rodent adventures, and then around number five there's one stuck in there from her sister-in-law who talks about how her father, my friend's father-in-law, has been in a coma for two days and is going to die anytime and she'll call her when it happens.
So. My questions are many, but mainly: why did she write such a personal thing there? Why would a matter, literally, of life and death be inserted inbetween people laughing about raccoons? Why are so many people getting to be so comfortable talking about the most private and important things so casually in such an open forum?
Which is ironic I guess coming from someone writing a blog in a world where blogs exist to talk about private things. But this feels so different somehow. I don't know. Maybe it isn't.
Now in the interest of continuing the non-private tradition, my children are practically in college since the second to the last time I wrote. Click for bigger pic.
You Can Feel the Electricity All In the Evening Air
It's true that I need an outlet. I just wrote on FB that every month I write the mother's club newsletter calendar section, and every month I write at least 10 snarky things and backspace over all of them. I want to see if anybody's really reading it (I know they aren't) but mostly what I want is to express myself. Like Madonna. It's hard not having an outlet, so hello again. I think about writing here about a hundred times a week and I never do it because I've built it up into this giant thing, like when you're fourteen and you're thinking about what your first kiss is going to be like and you watch the kissing scene in Some Kind of Wonderful a thousand times hoping it'll teach you how to do it so you'll be prepared. What? Maybe it's not like that at all. But so right now I'm just writing so I can feel my fingers do it so I know that they still work.
I'm tortured. I've got no follow-through. It's really eating at me, all the things I've got half-finished. A couple of people I know have dropped dead lately (they were old, but it still counts) and to paraphrase whatever it was I heard on Terri Gross on NPR today, the death curtain has been lifted. What separates me from it is not so separated anymore and it freaks me out, makes me realize I'm not doing anything. And yes, whatever, I'm raising two children, and there is a certain amount of satisfaction derived from that, but also... not enough.
The snarky thing that prompted all this ennui: researching a nursery school carnival, where the kids do crafts and play games, and they said don't worry! All the kids win! You'd think in Silicon Valley they'd know better, that it's not real, not everybody wins, that not even kids should be sold that line. You must work for it, son. And if you sit on your ass in the parking lot of grocery stores waiting for your children to wake up from naps, you sure as heck aren't going to wind up in the plus column.
Testing. Test. Testes? Testing.