Monday, December 31, 2007

So What Am I Doing . . . Right Now?

Eating chocolate, of course.

Well, it is December 31 and by my count, I only have 8 more hours to indulge in sweets treats before I launch into my annual (and almost always short-lived) ascetic denial of nearly everything. (List to come.)

But until that carriage turns pumpkin, I'm going after it. And this hour's featured selection (or one of them) is from KC's own Willy Wonka: Christopher Elbow.

And I do not Wonka lightly, my friends, for I am eating of not just any old candy bar. I am eating a chocolate bar with 61 percent blissful, velvety, dark chocolate, blended (wait for it) with pop rocks.

That's how you bring in the New Year. Pop on, my people.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

So What Could Possible Wake Her from Her Slumber?

[What if we smash her boobs? Yes, I think that will do. She will have to sound off about that.]

And so here I am, just a handful of hours after my very first mammogram, writing about the intensely personal and uncomfortable experience on my blog. We strive hard to bring you authentic living here, my people. And we do it for your amusement.

I think my biggest fear (you know, before I actually experienced the smashing of the mammaries) was the cold. I'd been told that your breast is placed and pressed between two cold plates of metal. So naturally, the frigid plates lent me the most apprehension.

I gleefully dashed that fear when I saw only one metal plate (the other is plastic and decidedly unchilly) and that the cold would be buffeted by a nice, warm foam pad. This, I thought, would not be a problem. Mammogram, I laughed. Bring it on.

So confident and cocky, I approached the mammogram press (Wikipedia was generous enough to let me know it's called a Full Field Digital Mammography detector). And that's the way I wanted it. I asked no questions. I didn't research the m'graph process. In fact, when I told my mother I was going in for my first screening, she laughed. I believe I noted a touch of cattiness in that chuckle. But, true to conviction, I decided to ignore it and not ferret for an explanation.

(And while I'm in parens, I ask, and especially after living through birth, motherhood, and a mammogram, why isn't there a word for courage based on our sexual characteristics? I don't want to be a pussy about it, but it makes me wonder if our idiomatic expressions aren't a tad bit misogynist.)

Then the tech hoisted--and I do mean "hoisted"--my boob onto the pad. Never have I felt such disconnect with my breast as I did when it was lifted eight inches above its resting state. (Granted, my boobs hang low. I could tie them in knot. I could tie them in bow.) That is, until she started lowering the plastic to plate to meet my boob flesh and then squash it into the thickness of Red Robin burger. Which, sure, is thick for a burger, but quite thin and rather uncomfortable dimension for a D-cup boob. My nippled has never traveled so far from its home base. And projecting from my nursing experience, I truly doubted if it would ever snap back.

But the FFDMs have have a solution for that: the counterpress.

Which isn't, as I thought it would be, a straight on vertical squeeze to counter the horizontal. To rescue the true roundness and, of course, get a better portrait of the breast tissue, the FFDM comes at you with a somewhere-close-to-45 degree press. And let me tell you this, my bodacious sisters, they save "the best" for last.

The tech instructed me to embrace the FFDM--which I wasn't feeling inclined to do, not a lot of love for the machine at this point--and then she rehoisted the boob, pressed me in closer to the machine, and then rolled in the plates. This time, the plates captured deeper tissue, you know, those sinews that reach back into my pits. Then she locked in the plates. I literally couldn't breathe. I thought she might have got hold of a lung. And just when I thought she'd retreat behind the shield to snap the shot (hurry up, lady! Can't. Breathe!), she turned the crank a half-dial more. And then nudged it a quarter. And then another. Just for sadistic good measure.

Good God, why didn't someone warn me? I know I refused listen, but couldn't you insist? I really think you didn't try hard enough. Sisters should share this information. Speak out. Speak up.

Woman, I'll tell you, this wasn't just a disconnect, a longing distance from self to nipple. This was as close to detached as I ever want to get from my boob.

(Which is, I suppose, one significant point about the whole mammography in the first place.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Nothing Left to Say, Except . . .

Dear Blog,

It's been six days since my last confession. And I'm sorry for that.

I'm really sorry.

I'm sorry you had to wait, in my cold basement, for the warm tickles of candy thoughts that did not come. I'm sorry you've been left here, on your own, to receive all my visitors, and to have to explain to each one in turn that, no, she didn't come back today. She didn't "feel like" posting. She didn't "think" she had anything to "say." I'm sorry you had to take that on your shoulders.

And it's not that I haven't thought about it, about you. I think about you all the time.

Really, I do.

I thought about you yesterday after I made scallops for dinner, those tender little cakes of fish flesh that absorb any flavor they meet and yet permeate their own fishiness throughout your house. For hours. (And maybe for days. And I plan to let you know how that goes.) I thought you might find that irony mildly and fleetingly interesting.

I thought about you when I went to the eye doctor today and was told I had pointy eyes. I thought you might find that funny--or maybe that would just validate how you imagined me.

I thought about you when I crayoned my Christmas list for Bear and asked for a homemade blog. I thought you might like some new duds. And I thought about you when I brainstormed what I should buy my nephew and wondered if you might have some input.

And then I took it upon myself to decide that no, you wouldn't be interested in these little trivias. That no, I was too boring and didn't have enough sauciness to keep you interested. I'm not sexy enough. I'm not funny enough. I'm not interesting enough. There it is. I was afraid that I wasn't enough.

See. It wasn't you, dear, dear Blog. It was me.

And I'm so sorry for making assumptions about you and what you want or what you need.

And I'm so happy that when I clicked open this post this morning that you were there. Waiting.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Now Reading: A Letter to My Bedside Table

I'm finally cracking open a book again.

I don't think this has happened since Harry Potter. [Editor's note: I stand correct. Kiki reminded me that I read, finished, and enjoyed Red Tent. Oops.] At least, not with any real commitment. Who knows how this will go. I opened up White Teeth about a month and a half ago. And Salt about six to eight months before that. And, dear books, I haven't gotten much past your covers. But it's not your fault. You are brilliant and thoughtful and funny and I madly adore your every word.

Perhaps a bit too much.

That may be the problem. I'm so enchanted with the words you cast on the page that I can't go past those delirious first impressions. I don't want to progress, I don't want to take it to the "next level." I just want to revel and bask in your well-crafted sentences, in your diligent research.

I'm afraid of losing you: of losing not what we have, but what we might have.

And so, I've left you, with bookmarks barely an eighth of the way through, to explore the bounties of yet another book.

I received this book as a gift from a new friend. She's not reading this blog. (But, Hi! You know, just in case I'm wrong.) She visited us here in Kansas City and, after a couple (re: several) drinks, we hit it off.

She's a "real" writer. So that helped. She wrote for a Politically Incorrect and that's all credibility and awe. But once I got past that, I found out that's she's really interesting, beyond her resume. And mostly because she's drawn to all the things I'm interested in: 19th symbolist art, world religions, amateur architecture, Jung, etc.

(Odd how that happens--how the proportion of interest increases with the scale of similar affinities. We like what we know. Not so odd how people who are drawn to 19th century something something are also drawn to Jung, world religions, architecture, etc. Not really. That's pretty much a given.)

After she left us, she did this incredible thing. She sent us all books. Bear got a book on Druids. I imagine because he WON'T SHUT UP ABOUT IT. (I beg, plead for him to turn off his caps lock, but sober or drunk, the man likes to talk some druid smack.) She sent Finn the Eric Carle book, "Papa, Can You Get the Moon for Me." And she bought me Eat, Pray, Love, a memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert (re: Coyote Ugly) that chronicles her post-divorce journey through Italy, India, and Indonesia. (Rumor goes it will be a star vehicle for Julia Roberts. Unfortunately and, yes, superficially, that could ruin the whole book for me. Regardless, New Friend sent thank-you books and that rocks.)

And so that's what I've traded you for. A memoir that chronicles yet another thirtysomething's foray into things spiritual. (Of the five women I've known who've gotten divorced, and I'm counting Gilbert among them, three of them have made a spiritual journey to India. I'm not saying, but I'm saying.)

Dear books already on my bedside table, I don't know how I feel about this new relationship. I'm only on page 46. It's part insightful, introspective, and enlightening--Gilbert does know how to write. But it's also part indulgent, narcissistic, and self-involved. (And yes, this comes from someone who writes a blog. About herself. Nearly everyday.) I could easily, and predictably, stop reading this tomorrow to retreat to your open pages, you books I started in, like, June. Or I could even betray the whole lot of you and start reading The Golden Compass.

Yes, I know, I'm fickle and unreliable. Yes, I know you don't really care. Because, whether you're read or not, I've already shelled out the necessary commitment (re: hard cash) that brought you into my home.

But I, too, am on a quest of connection. And whether that's found in a literary ashram or an alternative universe, or both, who knows.

I'm just glad my tickets are cheap.

Friday, November 23, 2007

See These Glasses?


We registered for these glasses when we got married. In 1993. We loved, loved them. We were gifted maybe five of them.

And then they were discontinued. In 1994.

As of the morning of November 22, 2007, we still had all five.

On that very same Thursday afternoon, we decanted a fine rose, poured it into our glasses, and enjoyed its chilled mild flavor with our Indian-spiced turkey and panko spinach casserole.

In the early evening, we poured out the fine rose, deciding it harkened too much of white wine for our liking, and replaced it with red wine. We drank the replacement. And then another.

And then we descended to the basement, beautiful crystal filled with yet another dose of red wine. To play of the Wii.

And then Sarah, in the midst of Mario Party 8 passion, biffed Wii-mote to cherished crystal in a fit of Wii-indulgence and competition and the attempt to steal coins with the throw of a virtual dart. And she shattered said glass (but not remote or hand).

Thus ended the reign of crystal.

And thus began Sarah's despair.

Whimper. And sob. (Sarah consoled herself with yet another glass of culpable wine, but this time sipped from Target's special line of relatively disposable glasswares that were not harmed during the further adventures of Mario Party 8 or Resident Evil 4.)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

We started with this, the glory of baked eggs, chorizo, and potatoes,
















which tasted a helluva a lot better than it looks here, trust me, and which explains we we didn't have this until about 3 p.m.:



















And very much most of this culinary beauty was brought to our rickety dinner table by:
















my exhausted, bleary-eyed Bear.

7 Things

I found this meme on this site. I wasn't so much actually tagged as wanna-be tagged. (I just want to be loved!) So I'm playing anyway.

Here are the rules:
Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs. Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.


1. I am a self-righteous editor. And to annoying effect. Say "fewer" instead of "less" in the wrong context, use "impact" as a verb, conjoin "a" with "lot," and I will jump on your ass. E-ver-y-time, dude.

2. I say, "Dude." A lot. (I do not say "Anywho." Ever. Except for back in that last sentence. But other than that, never.)

3. My life is a musical. I narrate to song, like, a lot. (Two words!)

4. I have fundamental disability, or inability (to rephrase in my favor) to turn off the bathroom light. (Direct quote from hubbin.)

5. Too many hops make me flush.

6. I love to pick lint, shovel my driveway, dig out eye boogers, fix plumbing, and refigure malfunctioning deadlocks.

7. I like to sniff my hubbin's dirty beard. So manly.

I tag I Inkey.

Embarrassingly, I'm not comfortably or well-connected enough in the blogosphere to tag anyone else. But, Vanessa, Kelly, Angela, Amy, Heather, Ashley, Bear, Alan, Sarah--if you happen to read this (and I can find out if you have, uh, I think), I tag you as well. Ha.

Ha Ha.

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.

Ha.

(Ha.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Counting Down to Thanksgiving

Yes, Halloween is the No. 1 holiday in these parts. We've already started counting down to next year's candy-filled, horror-drenched extravaganza (343 days to be precise. We even have a countdown calendar in our kitchen that helps us focus).

But Thanksgiving. That holds a special place.

It's a holiday without gifts or treats. It's not about scoping out sweet treasures. It's more about looking inward than out. (And if that doesn't smack of Jung and Joseph Campbell, baby, then I'm just not doing my job here.)

Now if you know me, and you know the seriousness with which I take adventure seeking (in that literary-not-literal sort of way), then you can fairly and verily predict how we started this holiday.

By watching Star Wars.

(And if you have to ask why, then you need to go back and read your Heroes with a Thousand Faces, because I have somewhere to go here, people, and I just don't have the time to spell out that logic and the complete OBVIOUSNESS of our choice for you. Puh-lease! And, no. I will not apologize for my flagrant and aggressive use of caps-lock. It is the holiday season after all and must get my game on if I'm to survive Black Friday. Stay with me.)

So today, on the eve of Thanksgiving, we continued our tradition by grocery shopping for Thursday's feast. Yes, we started the shopping today. (We planned the menu yesterday, cribbed from several articles in this year's Thanksgiving issue of Food and Wine. ) And yes, we did get everything we needed for our Indian-spiced turkey breast, our curry-roasted butternut squash and chickpeas, our creamed spinach, our creamed onions with thyme and sage, our pear and gruyere pie.

(I should've bulleted that list. I'm working through those issues.)

Yes, our traditions could be read as bordering unconventional, or even misguided. We don't watch Miracle on 34th Street or eat my mom's stuffing or rocked-out spicy spinach casserole that I've eaten and loved and pined over nearly every year (save maybe three) of my past 37. We aren't spending this Thanksgiving with my sisters or my cousins.

No. Instead, we watch Star Wars and Shark Boy and Lava Girl as our holiday flicks. (And they make perfect holiday sense to us--finding a family when far away from home, expressing gratitude for the simple things that we spend each day diligently taking advantage of.) We cook and eat food that has never graced a family Thanksgiving menu; that, this year, doesn't even resonate with our cultures, however far removed we are from them.

Part of that is by design. Most of it isn't.

Several years ago, when Bear and I were living in Bloomington and couldn't afford to travel to spend Thanksgiving with family, we tried to recreate my mom's Thanksgiving dinner. We laughed as carved the finished turkey and found a bag of gizzards hidden in some secret turkey compartment. We struggled and sweated (salt is good seasoning) over my mom's spinach casserole. We grappled with the sense memory of her stuffing. (She makes it by taste, not by measurements.)

I remember calling my mom every 2o minutes or so--I was far from an accomplished boiler of hot dog (which I've since learned should never be boiled), much less executor of an entire T-day menu.

We thought that recreating my mom's menu, dish by dish, teaspoon by teaspoon, would be a good way to recreate home, to vicariously share a little piece of the holiday with my family when we were living so far away.

We've wised up.

Home should be where you are, not where you want to be. Traditions should be as much personal as they are historical.

And there's nothing, not even perfectly executed cornbread stuffing, that takes the place of spending the holidays with your family (even when mom mistakes salt for sugar in her pumpkin pie.)

I miss you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What's That, You Ask?


Oh, that?

That's just the video projection screen at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. So let me tell you about last nigh. . .

I'm sorry, what? Oh, the picture, you say?

Lovely, isn't it? It's by an artist I know. You may have heard him mentioned in these here parts. We call him BEAR.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

So That Didn't Work Out So Well

So that trying to post everyday in November? Not working out so well. And that trying to lose 20 pounds before December (that I probably didn't tell you about so I would have an out)? That's not happening either. And oh, that 'I'm not teaching so I'll work on my novel this semester'? Not. A. Word. And forget the resolutions etched into a well-crafted spreadsheet last December. Haven't touched that since January 14.

Not so good with the self-promising this year. Perhaps that will be the message of my 2007 Christmas letter. Which definitely has to beat the 2006 theme, which went something like: 2006 sucks. Or maybe that was 2005. That sucked, too.

But for all the stuff I haven't managed to finish or start, there's this:

I don't work on weekends anymore.

I've been cancer-free for 1 year 6 months.

I laughed, tickled, whispered, screamed, dreamed, planned, imagined, cooked, hatched, and legoed today. And oh, wrote in this here blog thang.

And I avoided the temptation to bullet that list.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Medley of Finnisms

Out of my earshot at a party last weekend:

Childfree partygoer, to a group of singledigits: "Hey guys, anybody want a cupcake?"
Finn, speaking for whole crowd: "Can't. We haven't eaten lunch yet."

In car, on the way home from a movie:

Me: "We have to, have to clean the house today. That has to be on our agenda."
Finn: "Who's coming over?"

After I sang "You Are My Sunshine" to him:

"Mama, when are you going to get old and die?"

After a joke, wherein Finn indubitably cracks himself up, but unfortunately no one else:

Finn: "Who's laughing? Is anybody laughing? Why isn't anybody laughing?"
Bear laughs.
Finn, with sarcasm!: "Yeah, thanks for playing, papi."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I Heart My Oncologist

Thankfully, I don't know many people in my life who can say that. Not because their oncos aren't up to snuff, but because they don't have them.

(And then I write that and think about who would and why they don't, and well, then this post gets dark and depressing and I had intended to make it so very cheerful.)

My onco is probably about my age, maybe a couple of years younger. She has reddish hair. I have reddish hair. She has a four year old. I have a four year old. She has two kids. She took away my chances of having two kids. That bitch!

I went to see her today, as I do every three months. The visits are close to routine, but the act of going to an oncologist, of sitting in the lobby of the Cancer Institute with other victims and survivors of this disease, of waiting for my check up, of sometimes not getting the test results I want, well, let's just say that each and every visit to the onco is followed by three (or more) mouthfuls of glucose therapy.

Today, my onco surprised me with a bonus colpscopy! and a bonus biopsy! We had not planned those adventures together.

Last visit, after some suspicious results, she ran a couple of extra tests and that ended up staying mysterious but being "unremarkable." Usually, I can sit with that. Last time, I wasn't willing to let the mystery be. I wanted this to be over. I wanted it to be a part of my past. I wanted to forget and stop being sad about the child I lost and the children I can't have. I wanted to move on and be able to be excited for folks who are pregnant. I wanted to be okay with people who whine about their second pregnancies going slowly and tolerate those who give long, indulgent speeches about how they can wait. And I wanted to have to stop dolling out impromptu noogies to the heads of the aforementioned whiners, or wiping my boogers on their bedsheets.

I think my tantrum my have tipped her off. And hence the detour. It made me uneasy, sure when she announced the aggressive off roading from our previously set path. I thought we weren't concerned. I thought we were comfortable with "just wait and see." But that's my onco. She's patient when I terrorize her with my minutiae of worries and she's vigilant when I just want to put my hands over my ears and go PeeWee Herman.

But that's precisely why I love her. Because she listens. Because she acts.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cruelty of the Universe Revealed

4 to 5 p.m.

ET.

Eastern Time.

(Fuck.)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Okay, now it's out there and I don't feel all that much better . . .

I have a "meeting" today. From 4 to 5 p.m. And I must not be disturbed. The widget will be in his room, with a teeming bowl of pre-inspected, approved, and opened Halloween candy. I may even pull out that new Transformer I was going to save for Christmas.

You see now that I mean it, this do-not-disturb-me-at-nearly-all-costs thing. "Nearly" meaning blood. Or loss of limb. (Which I imagine to be bloody?) Or a radical jump in developmental level. Like native fluency in Japanese. And don't think I will not enforce it. I will. Because today, from 4 to 5 p.m., is the final episode of Charmed.

I've said it. It's out there. And yes, I do feel a touch of silly, accompanied by a tingle of confessional remorse. Maybe I should delete this post and just write about landmark vetoes and light rail.

(Oh, honey, it gets worse.)

Okay, so it's not THE final episode of Charmed. The show kinda very much ended in May 2006. It was late May.

(So much worse.)

And it's not even the final episdoe in syndication, because if what happens at 5 p.m. is any indication (Charmed runs 4 times a day, twice in the morning, twice in the early evening), the series starts over from the beginning and will continue on until, a few months from now, we'll get another final episode. (And even sooner than that because TNT offsets seasons. The morning episodes are a bit behind the afternoon shows, maybe a couple of seasons.)

(Oh, you thought that was it? You know not of whom you read.)

And sure, we own a DVR and I could just record the rerun of the final episode of this show that really isn't that critically engaging. (It's not like it's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, after all.) But I won't. I'll watch it "live" and I'll run to pee and heat tea during the commercials and I will aggressively shush anyone who tries to disturb Paige when she tries to orb an object across a room. And I will cry when, I hope, Leo is brought back into the arms of Piper. And I will cheer when, I hope, Phoebe finally finds love with Coop (short for Cupid. I'm serious).

And I will do all this--sugar-up my kid and shut down any meaningful dialogue with the fam and turn off my life for a full hour--and not because it means anything or holds some kind of poignant significance to/in/near my life.

But precisely because it doesn't.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Milestoning

Yesterday, Bear and I celebrated our date-i-versary. (Let me see, 2007 minus 1988 equals 19, good fuck . . .19!)

Nineteen years ago, we sat down in our furnished dormitory (that'd be Dobie!) in Austin and had a "talk" wherein we vowed eternal fidelity and love and open sharing of all things Bauhaus. We established ourselves as a couple that day.

Three years later, on the same day but in a different setting, with furnishings compliments of Rent-to-Own (we opted not to own), Bear plopped down next to me, interrupting my viewing of Newhart and proposed marriage. I'm thinking I accepted. I feel pretty confident about that.

And I wrote about it. I share with you a sample of my naivety circa 1992. (Notice the lede and the double spacing after periods. So young and so very just plain wrong):

Metamorphosis or Ferociously, I Kissed Him

People in long-term, marriage-bound relationships metamorphose twicefrom boyfriend/girlfriend to fiancé/fiancée to husband/wife. Barry and I had entered stage one three years ago, and three years later we were preparing for the first transformation.

Access to stage two requires careful, deliberate planning: Who'll propose? When? Where? How? I planned on Barry proposing, on November 7th, at some romantic spot, in a romantic, spontaneous fashion. Of course, the plan had two glaring defects: I planned it; Barry had to do it.

Now, my romantic ideal sanctioned creativity: "some romantic spot" and in some "romantic, spontaneous fashion." No kneeling, no restaurants, no strip-o-grams—those were my only qualifications. I imagined us in front of a murmuring fire, ogling each other, Miles Davis doing background music. Suddenly, Barry would become ever so serious, scoop me into his manly chest and say, "You've sent shivers down my spine for three years. I . . . well, this can say it better." Then, he would pull a handsome black jewel box from his cardigan and open it. "Will you . . ." "Oh, Barry. Yes. Yes. Yes." Ferociously, I would kiss him pushing him too close to the fire. The murmur would become a roar. Unable to construct happy endings to my romantic scenarios, I left the proposing to Barry, the sensible, pragmatic one. (Note: Don't give romantic control to sensible, pragmatic people.)

Thursday, November 7, 1991. Our third anniversary. I hoped Barry had concocted an elaborate proposing scheme in the interim. But reality doesn't always concede to hope.

At 2:30 p.m., I came home from a rigorously Romantic day of Heinzelman's Late Romantics class (that explains the love to destruction by fire scenario). Barry wasn't home yet. We had decided to put off the anniversary celebrations until the weekend. But of course, it was November 7th, and I was hoping.

At about 5:00 p.m., Barry calmly entered the apartment and went to his room. Let me emphasize "calmly." Cool, serene, placid, completely unemotional. One would expect more emotion from one about to change one's life. I suspected a deviation from my plan.

Three years, an anniversary, cosmic alignment and Barry was going to leave me before we even peeked at the altar. Jumping to conclusions? No. We had planned the wedding for the summer of 1993—wedding date before proposal, we're just like that—and a proposal after that day would be too late. Plus, the romantic scene was pre-set. Barry wouldn't do any extra romantic planning if he didn't have to. An image of my mother when I asked if I could move in with Barry flashed to my mind: "You know that if you move in with him he'll never ask you to marry him. He has everything he wants. Sex without commitment." A 32°C-my-mom-was-right chill rippled down my spine.

After anger comes guilt. Did I push? Was I too demanding? Maybe he simply didn't want to marry me. What is marriage anyway? Am I being too traditional insisting on some out-dated convention to tell me we have a commitment? I decided to let the Richard Bach method of problem solving be my guide. I focused on my problem, turned on the TV, and waited for the answer to vault out of Newhart.

Newhart proved especially poignant that afternoon. After seasons of dating, Michael, the narcissist, proposed to Stephanie, the blonde brat. For the rest of the show, they mapped out the wedding day. Finding the preparation process—gifts, gifts, gifts—was more intriguing than the actual wedding, they trashed the marriage idea and decided to be engaged indefinitely. As I sat enthralled watching the comedy king, Barry emerged from his room and flopped down beside me on the couch.

While Mike and Stephie reveled an post-engagement bliss, I sank into a lonely stupor. Our relationship, three years of trust, love, and fidelity, had been shoved down love's garbage disposal. Three years torn from refrigerated security, poured into the sink of futility, and chopped to coagulated, indigestible bits stuck to the drain and spoiled. The fetid smell of rotten love.

As my nose scoped love's abandoned territory, Barry turned to me with what I interpreted as a malicious smile. He put his arm around me. I threw a questioning look at him. He returned it. I noticed he was shaking his arm behind my back. This time a threw a question. "What?" I still shook his arm. "God, Barry, I'm not in the mood," I said as a turned to see what the one-man commotion was.

Gold. Round. Ring. No box, but I could definitely match that shape with the Platonic form for ring. "Don't presume," I said to myself, but I couldn't suppress a tiny smile. "What's this?"

"You know," Barry said, nodding his eyes.

"No." But I could feel the tears preparing to parachute from my eyes. Saved. "What is it?"

"Will . . . "

Nervous.

". . . you, uh . . ."

Yes.

". . . will you . . . uh"

Please, God, don't make this some mean trick. Please.

" . . . will you . . . marry me?"

"Barry, are you serious? I mean really serious? You really want to marry me? Are you shitting me?"

"No. I'm perfectly serious. Never been so serious. Well?"

"Uh huh."

Ferociously, I kissed him.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I Have Been Waiting for This

I read Fast Company. I also read Field & Stream. And I have very specific reasons for doing so. Namely, to better equip myself with the survival skills necessary to excel in the corporate and natural worlds.

Had ya!

No, I really read these mags because they have damn (can I say "damn here"? Damn tootin'! can!) good writing.

(And sometimes they actually have something interesting to say. But do notice that I put this admission in parens. It's a side issue. A tangent. A bonus. Not, for me, at least, crucial criteria.)

You see, my people, when it comes down to it, I'm all about the style, not so much about the substance. To say, I relish the well-worded ad as much as an informed article on dark matter. Maybe even more.

But sometimes substance sneaks its way into a perfectly fine article and then I get all goofy because that's pretty much magic. To say something and to say it well.

Case in point: this here article. It has style, baby, and substance. And if you bounce anywhere off this blog today (and I'll be watching), you must bounce here. You must read this. (Please.)

I received my copy of the article and the magazine almost a month ago, and I've been waiting, searching, eager to see it online so I could share it with you. (Have I not given you enough opportunity?) I just got the e-mail notice today (because I not only subscribe to the magazine but also its online feed) and immediately stopped all shop to post it here. (Are you still reading this?) That's how much I feel you need to STOP READING THIS and GO READ THIS.

Side note, that you won't read because you've already bounced away: I've added a Now Reading section to my links bar. Check it out and see what I find worthy to peruse during my very scant reading time, you know the bits that aren't already claimed by Golden Books, Scooby Doo and the Halloween Ghost, and Frankensquare.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Finn's New Skill

Somewhere in that new pre-k room, Finn has found a friend either in a mad scientist or evil doctor or nefarious wanna-be ruler of the world. Or my son, my dear, innocent, cherub-cheeked widget is grooming his own ambitions of world domination.

(And I could be okay with that, really. Because this week he likes me.)

How do I know this? Is it because I see the wispy hairs of a toothbrush mustache that have historically evidenced a predilection for evil (or comic genius)? (A little shameless nod to my new Now Reading section.) No. That would be the chocolate milk that is permanently tattooed on his upper lip because he refuses to wash it off. Even though I ask every 12 minutes. (Or maybe because I ask every 12 minutes.)

No, the hints of a possible evil or comic future are all based on this: in the past 48 hours--and yes, I can track it to its first occurence--Finn has discovered a maniacal and mechanical laugh. My son, all bubbly giggles and crescent-smiley eyes, has a fake laugh.

But this isn't just a HA that abruptly defines the end of a joke or that awkwardly cuts through a room and makes one's self-esteem issues embarrassingly transparent. Sure, it announces his presence and his feelings on the material that has come before, but it does so much more.

Allow me to illustrate. The process goes thusly:

  1. Finn tells a joke or makes an observation--it doesn't have to be actually funny, he just must find it so.
  2. He pauses, two beats. The joke or observation must be allowed to make its rounds, to permeate the room, to breathe.
  3. He sits back, squints his eyes, to prepare for step 4.
  4. Quickly and abruptly, he juts his head forward, pops out his eyes.
  5. And "laughs": HA, HA, HA, HA, HA. With caps lock on and to this rhythm: quarter note, quarter note, eighth, eighth, quarter. It sounds a lot like a choking lawn mower. Perhaps he will add one more HA. Just to punctuate the point. That is, if he remembers before he is caught in . . .
  6. . . . The Silence.
  7. He then turns his head to look longingly out the window, much like one would if one suddenly remembered a love long lost to the vicissitudes of adolescent caprice. Or if one were listening to Coldplay.

Monday, November 05, 2007

75 Percent Off at Target, My Friend

I watched the history of the Halloween on the History Channel, and I am full aware that Halloween lasts only one day a year. Maybe, maybe, you can score an extra two bonus days if you're Catholic or Mexican. Those affiliations grant you a couple of saints' and souls' days and an extra squeeze out of the ghoulish festivities.

But November 5? Conventional methods just can't get you that far.

That's why we bestow unearthly gratitude to Target. We love Halloween. We love dress up. (We love candy, but that's beside this particular point.) And 75 percent off all Halloween accoutrements, including costumes, means Halloween doesn't have to stop with October. Gosh golly, it doesn't even have to keep to fall. We can keep the haunts up all year long--as if Four hasn't already providing plenty of those on its own.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Let's Bowling (or How to Abuse Italics)

Several years ago, in that other lifetime when I could luxuriously dawdle in a San Francisco stationery store, staring at one piece of letterhead for seeming hours without wondering where my kid had got off to because I didn't yet have a kid that could get off to, I found this cute, mistranslated stationery. It depicted, with delicate drawing, a family of baby blue bowling pins--mama, papa, and a couple of baby pins--with the invitation, "Let's bowling!" And I wondered, in that luxury of time and thought, what would one do with such a activity-specific invitation, on such cutesy paper. Without finding an answer, I promptly bought it, without weighing that purchase against the 5T pants I needed to buy or the college fund I should be contributing to or the bottle of fruit-flavored water I just dropped two bucks for (because it tastes like juice, yet isn't juice, and that small distinguishing factor will save me and my already thin hairline from the repercussions of a not-so-small-and-ineffectual sugar crash.)

To this very day, I have not written a single note, letter, tiny morsel of thought on that paper. But I think about it a lot. Especially when we go bowling, which we--Bear, Finn, me, and some very special friends--did last night.

I don't pretend to be a good bowler. Nope. Stop. Reverse. Scratch that. I do pretend to be a good bowler. In fact, I'm a great theoretical bowler and pool player. It's a ball, a trajectory, some english, and set of balls that either drop off a ledge or into a pocket. It's all physics and if put in a vacuum or among my Mii, I would rock the ball vs. ball-collective show. Rock. It. Out. Of Town. I'm saying. I am saying!

But, alas, we don't live in a vacuum, and those big balls (they are so very heavy and ponderous!) slip and slide and too often find comfort in the gutters.

But Bear rocks it out.

He has his own ball.

(And I will surround that admission with some white space so you may linger on the full implications of what it means to own your very own bowling ball.)

Bear consistently kicks my ass, which is why, when we played last night, I didn't play against him. Because theoretical Sarah tends to share strategy when she bowls, even, yes, even when she's sporting a 54 at frame 8. I still dare to coach. And some people don't show the appropriate amount of gratitude for my unsolicited wisdom.

So I played with the Supreme Overlord of Bowling (name withheld), who not only owns his own ball, but also his own shoes and vintage bowling shirt. Which he wore. To bowling.

His level of character development and just sheer competence so clearly surpasses mine that he shuts me up and down. You can't feel bad losing to someone so obviously superior. (Well, actually I can.) My other opponent: half of a Finn and half of his three-year-0ld friend. The split the other spot. Finn would bowl first. His friend cleaned it up.

Let's pause at this point to again reiterate how much I understand about bowling, a fact which may not translate into my execution, a fact which a third of my opponents clearly could not claim, as evidenced by the variety of their technique. Push the ball. Kick the ball. Nudge the ball. Butt the ball. And sometimes not even in the direction of the pins.

Let's also take this time to underscore that I did not use bumper guards, unlike some people.

Let's just understand those things as we look at last night's final board:

Supreme Overload of Bowling: 147
Sarah: 54
Finn/Friend: 62

Friday, November 02, 2007

Shopping for Schools

Yesterday, we started shopping for kindergarten.

Kindergarten! Can you believe?

The shopping is all very traumatic and emotional and exhilarating and depressing. Partly because my child will go to kindergarten. He will start the rapid climb to independence, and that's all good. I'm all behind that. But with that ascent, the cloak of coolness that Bear and I have gotten to wear for the past four years will slowly slip from our shoulders, to be replaced by the Members Only windbreaker of shame, humiliation, and endless mortification.

The other source of the emotional rollercoasterness gets pinned to the act of shopping itself. Because, apparently, we started scanning the aisles of education about five years and two months too late. It's November and kindergarten classes are already full. They were full before the application deadline. They were full before the prehuman ooze decided to escape the genetic goo and develop legs and the opposable thumbs necessary to complete those applications.

To say, we should've started this process, you know, a lot earlier. Like right after our mad kitchen sex begat the cell cluster that ultimately yielded our widget.

(And that's why you will not hear what our first choice is. Because I know you will promptly fornicate, put your house on the market, move to Kansas City, and submit your enrollment form. Just to steal our spot. Just to spite us.)

Of course, that's all us and our fears. Finn couldn't be happier or more excited about the promotion. His ready, he tells us. And it doesn't really matter where, he says comfortingly. Because kindergarten, according to Finn, is where the learning really starts to happen. And not because of the magic of reading or the lure of semiassisted living. Not because he finally gets to walk the more subtle and effective avenues of rebellion.

No. None of that.

It's because kindergarten is where you finally, finally, finally, learn to how to fly.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

My Budding Speller

"Hey, mama. Did you know that D-Y-D spells DVD?"

Priceless in that sense that I wouldn't pay money for it

Tie-dye socks: 1/10 of a pound.

Tartar left over from last night, I kid you not: 1/10 of a pound.

Finding out that all I lost after a full week of bread (liquid and solid) denial was a pair of kitschy socks and morning breath: Worthless.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Driving to School: Our Morning Monologue

[Note to readers: This is a 3-minute excerpt. The drive to school, and ergo the full monologue, takes 20 minutes.]

The rescue truck. The rescue truck. Duh rescue truck. Duh rest q trook.

That's funny.

Duh rest q trook. Duh rest q trook. That's still funny. Duh resk u truk. Diego! Duh resk u truk.

La, la, la, la, la. This is Halloween. Today is Halloween. I am the shadow that creeps over the moon. I'm the one that hides under your bed. This is Halloween. La, la, la. La, la, la. Jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh. Hey. Jingle. Jingle. Jingle.

Mama, can you play Higgley Town Heroes?

Jingle bells. Jingle bells. Jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to ride in a horse sleigh.

Mama, can you play Flash Gordon. I like that song. I really like that song. I like that song. Can you play it? I like it.

Boop-e-doopy-doo. La. La. Fa-tra-la. Moon-ah. Bump. Bump. La.

Mama, candy calms me down. Can I have some more candy? I've only had two. Can I have some more candy? Candy calms me down. Can I have some more candy? Just one more. Puhleease? Can I have some more candy? It calms me down.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Trying New Things

I've always wanted a blog that was a little less template-y and a little more smab-y, but without any real Web design skills, I have to fake my way through the half-way house.

Some day I will persuade, coerce, or trade enough sexual favors to my loverly Bear to help me design a real site. (Yes, I have been asking. And sometimes I ask real nice like. You know, Real Nice Like.) He tells me he'll help. But he has to finish Ted's art site first. And then Ted's blog.

(Maybe I should be more concerned with what Ted is trading Bear for all those sites.)

So for now. I'm playing. There's a new banner up there and if it doesn't scream "amateur," I think we can all agree that it does at least scream. I'll work on that. And I've fiddled with the colors in this very inflexible and only seemingly yielding world of blogland. We'll see what I can get this baby to do--and maybe along the way I'll pick up the fine art of subtlety. Or at least something passable.

But for now, enjoy the Parade of Horrid Banners. And if there's a blogger award out there for that, please, do not hesitate to nominate me.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Reviewed . . .

Barry and I went to the opening gala the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art last night--another coup and must-see for KC. A curator stopped me to tell me he read this review I wrote for the Kansas City Star. Before he was pulled away into another conversation, he said something about me being "brave."

Not quite sure how to take that. Maybe you'll know.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Schedules Be Damned!

We spent the weekend with KiKi, which is shorthand for "Schedules Be Damned! We're on vacation!" which is further shorthand for no naps, late bedtimes, near complete spoilage, and erratic eating.

And not just for me.

We--that's Bear and me--are apparently firm believers in flexible scheduling.(As in: Be flexible! Now!) We believe children (re: our child) should be able to adapt to new situations--and new situations sometimes means that mommy and daddy stay up late "talking" and playing Wii, so that Finn, in the wee hours of his day (5 a.m.!), must fend for himself with copious amounts of early morning infomercials and whatever food he can pillage from my purse.

Sometimes that happens. And sometimes children need to deal. (That smacks of irresponsibility, doesn't it? I may have overshot.)

So part of the freaky scheduling means that Finn gets a little creative at bedtime, which is longhand for "tries to stay up late," in spite of our lackadaisical efforts. You turn off the discipline, open the purse, and they take a mile, don't they?

On our first night, I put Finn to bed while Bear and KiKi went to the store to retrieve "talking points." I read him some stories and then taught him how to go to Slumberland--you know, the spinning, the jumping on the bed, the closing of the eyes, and the subsequent spins that make you feel like your bed is about to bust through the ceiling.

I left him, eyes clenched, floating off with Nemo. And then, about a minute later, I hear Finn calling me. I should ignore him, but the Faber method never did sit well.

"What is it?"

"I'm back, mama."

"So I hear. Go to sleep, sweets."

"But I have something for you."

I enter the room,and Finn reaches into his mock pocket and pulls a pretend out.

"What is it?" I whisper.

"I brought you back a moonbeam."

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

So Long, Suki

Suki, our beta fish, died yesterday, sometime between his afternoon and night feeding.

We found him, rigored, on Finn's carpet, covered in carpet hairs. Suki had had his bowl cleaned the night before, and apparently the excitement caused him to jump for joy--an exburance that quickly turned suicidal when Suki found himself flailing on the carpet, unable to wiggle his way up to his digs.

We sent Suki back to the big waters. Finn officiated. I said an impromptu eulogy. Finn mocked sadness for about 10 minutes, then as he was brushing his teeth, I think the full weight of the loss hit him.

Finn had a fish before (Dash-cum-Sean), but never took responsibility for it as he had with Suki. He told Suki things. He pointed out where his pellets floated. He asked about his day. He lectured him on overeating.

And, every now and then, I think we all saw Suki answer, in his pucker-mouthed, fishy way.

Friday, September 28, 2007

What a Difference a Developmental Stage Makes

I dropped Finn off for his first full day in Pre-K today. And I can tell you honestly, because I'm all about the honesty (except that post where I kind of made things up and that other one where I kind of fudged the truth and that other one where I did a rather thorough edit and rewrite after I published the post, but other than that, complete, utter, uncompromised honesty. You know, except when I don't. Do. That. So much.)

Where was I? Yes. I can honestly tell you, Whoa. That wasn't what I expected.

You remember that first day when we dropped Finn off at mother's day out--like, four years ago? And we went out to the car, and, you know, sat. For about two minutes. Belting out to ColdPlay's The Scientist. Before we went back in, picked him up, and said, "Maybe we'll try this again next week?"

Oddly, this was a little like that.

I expected to rejoice, because Pre-K is the beginning of a long educational internment, that just means more independence and theoretical free time for me. And more independence and opportunity to earn swing cred for Finn.

It's all good. It can be.

No, it should be.

Yes. Should be.

And when we entered his room today, it wasn't all abandonment and anxiety. At least not on his end. But what about me? What about my needs? I'm not ready to be a mother to a Pre-K-er. I mean, I've only been doing this toddler thing for two years. I was just getting the hang of it. I was just beginning to enjoy it.

So when I entered his room today, I expected--before the full-scale rejoicing--a little clinginess. A little reluctance. But instead I heard this:

"Finn, can you pull this sword from the stone?"
"Finn, do you mind wrangling these couple of snakes and saving the Pre-K classroom from the wrath of the gods?"
"Finn! You only have one sandal on. You can save us from the evil tyranny of Pelias!"
"Finn, can you wield your Jedi mind tricks and score us some more pancakes?"
"Finn, you're my hero!"

Okay, so that last bit was my attempt to get a little sugar before I left. Largely, largely ignored.

And then I was just an afterthought. A tangent. The mother of some lauded hero that is foresaken tothe lure of adventure.

So I shirked off, with a tablespoon of dignity, and headed to the car, where I, and yes I do think in these verbs, bemoaned the loss of my child's Oedipal complex.

And turned on the ColdPlay. You know, just to help the sadness stick.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I Wrote a Review. Yes, Another One.

Want to read it?

My editor--and I do drop this to toot my horn, I like self-tooting--thinks it's my best review to date. (And here comes the not-so-cloaked plea for compliments through the lost art of self-deprecation), I don't know that I agree . . . .

It's Good to Be Four. Well, Today.

Four is not always a fun place to be. It comes with stomping tantrums when it's denied a second bowl of ice cream. It cries and screams (SCREAMS!) when you're driving through rush hour traffic and won't turn around and hand it a Transformer. Right now. Right now. RIGHT NOW!!!

(Four lives most of his day with the caps lock on.)

But today, Four was good. Because Four is sweet. And Four is funny. Four likes to make jokes. Like this attempt at a knock-knock joke:

Four: I'm at the door and I want to you answer. Ding. Ding.
Me: Who's there?
Four: Crushed tomato in a mankie.
Me: Crushed tomato in a mankie who?
Four: Crushed tomato let me in it's cold out here. [Followed by sidesplitting guffaw.]

Or this:

Four: I've got something I want to whisper in your ear.
Me, offering ear: Okay . . .
Four, giggling: Wait, I've gotta tell you something.
Me: I'm ready.
Four, laughing hysterically: I've gotta tell you.
Me: And I'm eager to hear it.
Four, no longer able to contain himself: I gotta say . . .
Me: Yes?
Four, farting: I farted!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It Has Been a Long Time, My People

I've been struggling with trying to find something to say. And it's not about being "worthy of blogging about"--because as you'll remember from past posts, I don't really discriminate. All topics are welcome. Even those there crappy ones.

I've just felt kind of empty of late. (Oh no, you say, here it comes. "What" that might be, you can't pinpoint, but your finger is on your mouse/trackball/trackpad and you are prepared to bounce if you need to.) No, not that kind of loss--well, yes that kind of loss, but that's another post. I've felt at a loss of words, in a quite literal way.

So what do you do? I have no idea. What I do is read. No words coming out? Got to get the words coming in. So I read the Red Tent. I read The Runaways. And I have actually started to make a dent in that large pile of New Yorkers whose collective weight threatens to break my coffee table. And I've kept my mouth shut, lest some of them good words find a way out.

(Oops. Well, at least the good ones are safe.)

Store. Horde. Peruse. Muse.

Like a literary squirrel.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Finn is not a teenage girl.

To some, this statement is more than obvious. (I can't help out you other folks who are staring at the scream, mouthing your astonishment.) He's a boy--that's proved time and again by his willful pursuit of danger and dirt and doodle bugs (which are really pill bugs, but I can't let 37 years of deception go). And his status at a mere four years clearly attests to his fouriness. So that's a near convincing evidence.

Where it gets confused in his keen fashion sense (Mama, that doesn't match!) and his budding love of hip kicks. (He picked out some camo flipflops that I think are downright compelling.)

Where the line absolutely doesn't blur (outside of gender and actual years accomplished, as if those weren't incontrovertible) is in his very much non-love of the phone. His not interested in talking to his gamma. He runs, screaming, into another room when I call. The enchantments of disembodied voices hold no sway with him. And where I can't say this is a disconnect for mama (former teenage girl) and her boy (I, too, am not a fan of the phone. Don't believe? Call me. Now. I won't answer), I can say it gets a little, well, hurty, when I'm out of town and call and can't get the kid to talk to me.

I have theories for this. And they all put me in a good light. (I have a thing, a conviction, really, about theories being actual egoboosters.)

But I do have to say, I miss my baby.

Skin

I've been spending the past week with my sisters, who I only get to see about once or twice a year. They choose to live in a traffic-heavy and humid-infected area and my poor, little Midwestern sensibilities just can't handle such drama and weather-induced plumpiness. And I do swear, because of the 120% humidity, I've swelled up to about two times my original size.

(And that has nothing at all to do with the cheese steak, refried beans, and pineapple upside cake I've been scarfing. Absolutely nothing. At all.)

But all that sitting and waiting in unreasonable and uncivilized heat does result in a certain scarcity of clothing--and revealing of skin.

Yesterday, I followed my scantily clad sister into our mom's house--unlike the rest of this town who insists on a 40 degree drop from outside to inside, my mother believes in temperate equilibrium. (Her house is damn hot.) My sister held open the door for me, her freckled arm extended behind in unconscious welcome, something I've discovered that Southerners do much better than Midwesterners, who are more likely than not to let the door slam your forehead. And I say that with the authority of experience, folks.

It's a gesture I've been on the back end for, it must be, thousands of times. You know, in the South. And the one simple movement of etiquette that I have missed the most since I moved away. Sure, it's an afterthought, it's not like someone actually standing back to let you through a door before them, but it's an awareness, an acknowledgment, I suppose, that you are there, that you are part of someone else's space, that you are for a brief moment a part of their life. And it matters. However briefly, however cursory. It's continuity, a line between you and someone else marked by their extended arm.

So there I am, reaching out to take the door that my sister is passing through, that she holds open for me to catch, and I see it. A constellation of freckles and moles on slightly browned skin. The skin of another arm that I would hold in my hand and memorize, trace, trying to capture the history of each imperfection, the mottling of each sun-kissed follicle, knowing that soon I would never be able to connect those dots. The skin of my father.

I remember, right after my father died, looking at myself in the mirror, trying to find his face, trying to find something in me that would remind me of him--a lilt of my right eyebrow, the brown of my eyes. I have his temperament, his impatient passion, but you can't find that in the mirror. And memories are just so stubbornly visual. When it comes down to it, I am my mother's child. I've got her family's red, straight hair, their fair skin.

But in that one moment, in that line between my sister's arm stretching back and mine stretching forward I saw, in both, the skin of my father. The freckles (one on white, one on wheat), the moles--and the history, if not always of place, that connects me to her.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I threw out my shoulder . . .

. . . bowling

. . .
well, simulated bowling

. . .
you know, the kind without an actual ball

. . . the kind that you play into the gloaming on the Wii you got your husband for his birthday.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Someone Has to Make Sure America's Future Psychiatrists Have Clients

On top of spaghetti
All covered with cheese
I lost my poor meatball
When somebody sneezed.

It rolled off the table
And onto the floor
And then my poor meatball
Rolled out of the door.

It rolled into the street where
A dog ate it up,
And then that poor puppy
Got hit by truck.

The dog is ground beef now
Rolled into a ball
And seasoned with herbs and
A pinch of sea salt.

On top of my noodles
All covered in cheese
There sat my poor doggie
Until somebody sneezed.

[Crescendo and retard] Until . . . somebody . . . sneezed!

[Editorial note: Notice the fun dangling participial in the first stanza! This ditty just keeps on giving.]

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

No Disrespect Intended

I was eyeing my boobs a couple of nights ago, as I'm wont to do in this post-breastfeeding era of my life, mourning the loss the perky set I originally evolved into, when I came to a realization. I have Tori Spelling cleavage.

I don't know if you've viewed the enormous gulf that hovers between Ms. Spelling's breastisies (I know she's a Mrs. now, but I can't remember the new surname), but it's mammoth. You can't possibly even hold a lip gloss there to butter up your lips, ala Molly Ringwald in Breakfast Club. Not. Going. To. Happen.

And as I'm beginning to really get into the self-pity, to clearly go all moppy about the continental drift between my own girls, Barry steps up, in, what I like to think because I love him and I can't go any other way, is an attempt to console me in this only surgically revocable stage of Separate and Sag.

"No, Sarah. No. You don't have Tori Spelling cleavage. You have Loni Anderson cleavage (scroll)."

Loni Anderson cleavage?

Oh yes, you so know that helped. So much so that I immediately filled the bathtub and plunged my head into the water. And yes, my boobs hit the water first. My cleavage, though, trailed far enough behind to stay safe and amazingly dry.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

24 Hours Later: Harry, Who?

Finally, finally!, I have something to look forward to.

Fade to Exit

I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at 11:51 p.m. last night. Now, quit your squinting, I'm not going to toss out any spoilers here--even though you've had ample time to finish the book. It's only 800-and-some pages.

This particular post is not so much about what I read, but how I read it. Sneaking it in a breakfast. Staying up an hour more after a particularly late night of writing. And then, last night, slamming down some 200 pages to wrap it up.

And all that done between phone calls (Where tomorrow night, sorella?) and text messages (519, safe to talk?) with my sister.

Each night for the past week, we'd meet for our long-distance book club over the phone, whine about Harry's whining, hatch our theories, and make our reading plans. Last night, we ended up calling each other every hour from about 7 p.m. to 12 midnight, to discuss unfolding plots.

I'll miss the characters, living and/or dead, but more than that I'll miss the urgency, passion, and sisterly small talk that Harry Potter brought to my week.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Preschool! The Musical!

Child and mother walk out of house into bright new day. They head for their fuel efficient car and preschool! The sun shines and the birds sing, providing much needed tuneful accompaniment to what will be the opening song, a ploy the mother hopes will get the reluctant toddler out the door and, she's hoping, into the car.

[Mother]

Look, they already took our trash.
I'm glad I put it out there fast.
And the recycling is all gone--
Finn, can you hurry along?

So we can go to preschool
Where you can break all the rules

[Finn]
With Emma, Nate, Ashley, and Ty
Two girls and three cool guys

[Mother]
Your little toddler troop
(And someone else gets to clean up poop)

[Finn]
It all happens at preschool
Oh, mama, it's very cool

And we play all day long
Sometimes we sing silly songs

[Mother]
Well, then let's just move it along
So we don't miss a single one

[Finn]

I love my preschool
The fours are ubercool

We own those shiny halls

[Mother]
Finn, I know you're trying to stall

Now, please, get in the door

[Finn]

But what's this I see on the floor?
A book, perchance a toy
That I shall use as a decoy

To stall our drive to preschool
Because even though it is so cool

I am after all a boy
Who has an affinity to annoy
And to thwart all mama's plans
By bending them to my own ends

The 3 a.m. Show

This is when I wish I had a "real" job.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Not What I'd Call an Example, Shining or Otherwise, of Parental Self-Sacrifice

I remember liking Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I remember liking the songs. So I queued up the children's classic on Netflix and Finn and I popped it into the DVD player this afternoon.

To refresh, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) recounts the story of an accident-prone inventor, his two children, and a confectionery heiress, named--I kid you not, consult your memory and if that fails, imdb.com--Truly Scrumptious.

(It was written by Ian Fleming and produced by Albert Broccoli--someone in that clan had a dubious or brilliant or brilliantly dubious gift for women's names.)

The movie opens with various clips from various grand prix, in France, Germany, etc. We then see that the once prize-winning car is relegated to obscurity, unless Mr. Potts, the inventor, can scrounge up 30 schillings to buy it. He tries to hock his candy whistles (toot sweets) to the local confectioner (Mr. Scrumptious), he tries to give automated haircuts at the carnival. Those end, in turn, with a dog stampede and a rather unfortunate bowl cut/reverse mohawk. Potts ends up crashing one of the carnival's bamboo musical numbers, taking center stage, and earning the money to buy the car. He spends hours, weeks, years?, refurbishing the car until he finally comes out of the lab/barn doors with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. To celebrate, he takes the kids (Jemima and Jeremy? Ouch) and Ms. Scrumptious (who he ran off the road) on a picnic at the seaside. (They sing the titular song twice before they get there. Apparently, it's a long drive.) They eat, they swim, the kids vow their love to Truly, she truly reciprocates, and all that's left is for the two grown ups to get it together and get it on.

But they're interrupted when the kids spot a ship, that turns into a pirate ship, commanded by a baron. They want the car. A chase ensues. The car turns into a hovercraft; the chase continues; the car and kids and Potts and Scrumptious get away after they croon through at least three conspicuously saccharine tunes; and two utterly conspicuous goons dressed as Hitlers disguised as Sherlock Holmeses go in search of the car to steal it for the aforementioned Napoleonic, and yet German, baron.

(Inhale. Exhale.) And that takes us through the first hour of the film. The first hour of a two and a half hour children's classic. That, my reader, takes us less than half way.

Needless to say, when "entr'acte" appeared on screen and Finn told me the movie was over . . . well, I didn't correct him.

Finn's Panegyric

Finn: "Mama, you're not an artist."

Me: "No, Finn. I'm not."

Finn: "You're a visitor."

Nearly Averted Spoiler: No. 1

I bought my copy of Deathly Hallows yesterday at Costco.

(Have you heard of this book? Very obscure author has written seven much underpublicized books about young wizards, the power of love, and its struggle against imminent evil?)

I bought it at 2:30 p.m. I know, that makes me so much less of fan than I purported to be, but I have a young child, who [whisper] doesn't get Harry Potter [/whisper]. So my begging and pleading and whining and tantrums lost out to his dire and unquenchable and, really, much louder expression of need to visit the hippos at the zoo. (Yes, page taken. I will not be so easily thwarted next time . . .)

So after the hippos, we headed to Costco for the grocery classics: high-fiber bread, Omega-3 eggs, organic milk, and Harry Potter.

I was worried they would sell out. Really, I'm serious. I panicked the whole way past the leopards, the gorillas, the alligators, the rhino, and the hippos--who I'm not sure we actually saw because I was in full neurosis by then. But when I saw the heaping table of Potters, with nary a swarm, I felt much relieved. And quite excited. And, maybe, just a little, ashamed.

I sauntered up to another woman who seemed to be gingerly selecting her copy. She picked up a book, flipped for a page count, then, incomprehensibly, Put the Book Down.

What?

"Not that much into Harry Potter?" I asked as I wheeled Finn and the cart closer to Potter mountain. When I get giddy (or drunk, sometimes it's hard to tell), I get social.

She looked up and smiled. "I just read the last page. Everyone's wondering about whether Harry lives or dies. I figured that would be on the last page."

Just the last page?

I felt bad for her--that she didn't have a connection to these characters that so many other folks do. That she would carelessly jump to the final resolution without any emotional investment.

I plan to read Potter as slowly as I can. I mean, this is the last book. This could be the last moments I get to spend with these people. You know, I have a longer relationship with them than I do many other real people who have too easily come and gone from my life.

(And, of course, I also remember how distraught I was when I put down Return of the King only to find out the Tolkien had died. Like 10 years before I picked it up.)

I'm really not all that eager to give them up and push them out the door.

How could she start and stop at the last page? Did she even read the ot. . .

And then I got scared. It hit me. She has information. She knows. And then the panic that I thought I had left with the hippos came screaming after me.

I grabbed my Hallows, and I mean this literally, put my hands over my ears and started chanting, "I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear it" as I rolled Finn as fast and far away as I could.

Mental, to be sure. But I couldn't take the chance that she might suck the very soul out of the Potterverse and just throw it out there like some kind of talking Patronus. She could ruin it, all seven books, the lives that I have welcomed into my home and heart, the dreams that I have for Harry, Hermoine, and Ron, and their dreams, too, as yet unrealized by all the throngs who have not yet turned that page, and with no more thought than she gives to her choice of blueberry or strawberry yogurt sample.

So I ran. Earmuffed and howling.

It's not like I had a choice. I mean, people can't, like, disapparate, you know. C'mon, people, ever heard of fiction? It is just a book.

Friday, July 20, 2007

It started as a compliment . . . and then it just got scary

Finn: "Mama, you're shrinking. You're not going to have another birthday."

Fort Worth Top 10

Grab some waders and read about it in the Marsh.

Did KC just get trumped?

Retraction

This may not go over well with the KC locals, but I'm afeared that some of my readers my have misconstrued my KC post.

So I make this noncommittal (re: wussy) disclaimer, because I feel I must stand at some level of proximity to honesty, if not squat indelicately and forcefully atop of it: just because I can find 10 things I like about KC doesn't necessarily mean I love living here.

My Kid Can Hear!

Earlier this afternoon, I was on the phone with Aunt KiKi, speaking to her in hushed tones about things people get hushy about and, again in hushed tones, telling her about Finn's generally naughty morning. Finn and I had already discussed it extensively, so I thought I'd let him off the hook and just relay it to KiKi whisper-like, because he doesn't need to feel any worse about what he did and because KiKi will find it amusing.

Yes, she finds his bad behavior funny. She lives far away.

"So," I whisper to her question about what Finn did today that was adorable, "here's what's not: Finn whacked his friend on the head with paperback book."

I'm in the kitchen. Finn's playing in the living room, and yet despite several pieces of evidence to the contrary--like his general and absolute nonresponsiveness when I ask him, repeatedly and at high-decibel tones, to set the table, clean his room, feed his fish, get ready for bath, clean up his transformers, put on his shoes, take off his shoes, flush the toilet, wipe his face, wash his hands, shampoo the carpet--Finn responds quickly to my hushed recap:

"I didn't hit her on the head."

My first thought, my child is insisting on being accurate, if not remorseful, about his misdemeanors. What am I raising? ("Damian?" No response from the living room. Good.)

And then, I'm like, wait, he heard that?

And it really sinks in.

My son can hear.

Crap.

I'm in trouble.

Deep.

If Finn heard that, then what else has he heard? My trash talk about my mother? (Sorry, mom.) And our very close friends that sometimes we misunderstand and get a little pissy about? About Bear?

That could bite me in the ass. I may have to pay dearly to keep that information underwraps. I'm thinking of how I can pay him to keep his mouth shut. I'm thinking of how much chocolate I have in the house. I'm seriously thinking about getting him a dog. Would a dachshund work?

Crap.

Then, I'm thinking, wait a minute, I've been played. He can hear. All those times--requests, demands, begging, pleading--he's heard me. He's mocked me. That little, well, mother-player. I'll get him. And his little dog, too. (If we ever get him one.)

And then I'm thinking, wait, he can hear.

And I realize, in one full and much too easy swoop, Finn's admitted to his crime and revealed his superhearing--a superpower that's only supergood as long as it's supersecret.

And now that secret is out.

And now I shall use my knowledge of that power to make this house a better place.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Kansas City, Here You Are

So let's say, hypo, that you're coming a visitin'. What shall I reveal to you about my Midwest digs? What will I show you? What will I feed you?

Here's my meme. My KC tops. Spread the word, and then share the word.

In no particular order, except for the fact that I, well, ordered them:

1. Nelson Atkin's Bloch building. We have a new addition in town to our city museum. And if it's not fab--that's under discussion--it is unique and the hands-down hottest thing we have going. It's been covered in NY Times, New Yorker, and other sundry estab'ed pubs.

2. Boulevard Brewery. Actually, we haven't been there, but we've sampled its wares quite often. In fact, right now! (Ah, the gratuitous exclamation point. How I abhor thee. And yet, how useful you are!) We do have a rockin' brew. And that's not just because I'm drunk.

3. Record Bar. Which must have the best logo (recordbar) and slogan (eat. hear.). Their menus are posted on vintage 70s albums, like those real gatefold things. Great indie bands, great trivia nite. We like The Nuge sandwich. You post the cash for the 'sitter. We'll buy your sammie.

4. Murray's Ice Cream and Cookies. OMG, my peeps. It's the Amy's of the Midwest. Not as good, granted. But we're at least 10 hours away. My favorite flaves: Truffalufagus, Citrus Avenue, Malt Licker, Smitty's French Lemon (creamy, baby), Fred & Ginger. And the Snickerdoole is a half-inch high.

5. 18th and Vine. Our own little Hollywood and Vine, Haight-Ashbury, Beale Street, etc. It's Peach Tree Restaurant (re: sweet potato muffins), it's the Jazz Museum, the 24-hour jazz jam that we've never been to but we'd like to be invited to (members only), Negro League Baseball Museum. Charlie Parker, among others, started here. See Altman's Kansas City. We should split this out, but we've only got 10, so I feel the need to conflate.

6. 18th and Wyandotte. As weird as KC gets. And we, as former Austinites, like us some weird. Birdie Panties, Spool, and YJs. Lingerie, baby goods, and caffeine. Back to back. It's the nexus.

7. City Market. Here we go. First, we'll do breakfast at Succotash and see Sean Ward's painting of Jamie Warren eating tomato soup. Then we'll buy heirloom tomatoes from the Amish. We'll buy a bedley of spices at the Middle Eastern shop, eat risotto gelato, grinders from the vendor stands, spring rolls from the Vietnamese restaurant, and whittle away whatever cash we have left on the scarified juggler of knives. Oh, yes, Baby Cakes, the yummified morsels of glory are here.

8. 39th Street. Vintage shopping at Revue, Boomerang, Prospero's Books.

9. Christopher Elbow's Chocolates. Objet d' art chocolate. Seriously, they're almost too purty to eat. But somehow I get past that. We're actually looking toward a second mortage on our house to finance my obsession. Fleur de Sel turtles. Chocolate and salt. Nuff said.

10. And the cliche of Kansas City. BBQ. We'd take you to Gates. "Hi, may we help you!" Being the Texas expats we are, we'd never say the BBQ here is better than Texas (e.g., Coopers, Rudy's, Salt Lick, Green Mesquite, Lufkin BBQ Company). But KC comes close. Closer than say, Nashville. (Game on!)

Okay, it's your turn. I meme you Austin, Fort Worth, Portland, Bloomington, Houston, Omaha, and my lone China reader. Crank out your tour. I'll even post the worthy right here.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Toward a Curriculum of Obsession and Ambivalence

When I go to a restaurant (which I haven't done since 6:30 p.m. on July 3, longest extrahouse dining hiatus, like, ever), I tend to gravitate toward one menu item, and then systematically take all the romance out of the dining adventure by ordering that particular dish every single time we go to that restaurant. At Las Manitas (Austin), it was always enchiladas michoacan (unless it was too early, and then it was always huevos and chorizo). At Uptown (Bloomington), it was always the Popeye omelette. (Yes, I'm a pretentious speller.) At Cascone's (KC), it's the chicken spedini.

Obsessive dining choices. It's who I am. I've learned to accept.

And now, I have to further accept that I have passed on my OCD-lite to my child, forever chaining him to a literary palate that must be obsessively and repeatedly satiated. For the fourth night running, Finn has insisted that Chris Van Allsburg's Widow's Broom be included in the repertoire, with a side of Noah's Ark, the pop-up experience, and Kelly Asbury's Frankensquare. (Halloween doth not die at our house.)

It's an odd brew, stirred with a candied swizzle stick of contradictions and maybe even moral ambiguity. (Spoiler alert!) Some nasty neighbors attempt to burn a perfectly respectable and industrious broom (who, granted, had earlier catapulted a nippy dog into a distant spruce tree) at the stake. A vengeful God floods ("mama, did he kill them?") an almost entire, albeit wicked, population. The notorious, mismatched Frankenstein deals out the fair and the squares to all of his Halloween guests.

Certainly, the choices may get tired (and I've hid the books for tonight so we can get a little variety, I'll let you know how that goes) but let me tell you, the post-book conversing, comparing, and conundruming don't.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Blog Roll

Reading someone's blog is weird, ain't it? I read only a few--those are listed over there, now down a little bit, underneath that. There. But I do get addicted to these lives, and not because they're dramatic or tragic or hold some Grand Truth, but because they're people slightly like me who are trying to say something honest, who are trying to figure things out, who are celebrating those very small moments in life that seem to get so easily and often squashed, chewed up, and/or spit out by so many headlines and soundbites and spewing sink pipes or, well, noses.

My reason for my blog: number 3 (not the spit out, the celebration. I do tend to overlist). It's just a record, people. For me, it's about sharing and connecting with the people I love and putting something down just in case . . . well, just in case.

But this blog I found recently has a different flavor--a little lighter on the introspective navel gazing. I came across it when I almost wrote a review of her show a few months back. And then I couldn't stop. Maybe you should check it out.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Thinking, Choreographed

Finn lost his Heat Blast, a Ben 10 character that apparently is really hot, in that literal way that things are metaphorically hot. You know, flame-wise.

I don't know anything about him. Or Ben 10. Or the cartoon they rode in on. I just know when my kid throws a fit at Toys By Us (as he calls hit) over some figure that morphs into a flashlight that I have to shell out the $4.99 to shut him up. Finn yells very loudly. And sometimes he will kick. Or bust a vein. And these days, we're all about keeping veins and arteries and such in their proper place.

So Heat Blast was AWOL. We looked, half-ass diligently yet very messily, all over the house. And couldn't find nary a trail. Apparently, his heat leaves no evidence or wake of its discharged energy, contrary to the second law of thermodynamics. Heat Blast is uncharted, off the map, leaves a very small carbon footprint.

Which got us--me and Finn--to thinking about where he could possible have gotten himself to. And got us to talking about our preferred methods and accompanying gestures of thinking.

For me, I prefer to sit still, perhaps with an alcoholic beverage, and stroke thumb and index finger across the point of my chin. Or I might place my index and middle finger underneath my lower lip. As long as that doesn't interfere with my beer.

Finn, though, chastised me. That's not the way it's done, he said. True thinking is done by tapping the index finger against the temple, sans beverage, while saying, "Now, where did I see Heat Blast last?" Over and over and over again. The kid is all about the mantra. As stated, aforementioned kid is persistent.

And that may very well be true thinking. Maybe, but not productive or necessarily accurate thinking. Because I found Heat Blast. Right where I tossed him about a month ago. In our trunk. I rescued him and was gleefully proclaimed heroic in my finding efforts.

But, Finn was careful to mention, I still "think" wrong.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

One Week One Day

I haven't counted anything down since, well, I was going to say since I was a teacher and I "helped" my students countdown to winter holiday, or labor day, or Friday, or seventh period, or 2:05, but really it was just a few weeks ago when we thought we were taking that trip to Mexico that we had planned for four months. Then, just as when I was a teacher or a student (of varying degrees and maturity), I pulled out my calendar and slashed, hash marked, and tallied my way to that dreamy destination, that ultimate, if brief freedom, that coveted prize.

And, except for my moment of beachy weakness, I really didn't expect I'd be jumping into the countdown so soon. Or late. You know, in life. Because whittling away the minutes, hours, or days just seems like it's heading in the wrong direction. I'm getting of the ripeness where I should be holding on to those fleeting moments, not casting them away so carelessly.

Add to that confusion and backasswardness that I'm actually admitting to this on my blog. Well, this entry is just so wrong.

But counting I am. And inverting my predicates as I go. One week and one day. And by now, you're chomping at the bit, you're tapping your fingers, you're grabbing your monitor in your hands and shaking it like you would an iBook that's gone on the fritz, screaming, begging me to tell you what it is that I'm so damn adolescent about.

That is, unless you're doing it, too.

One week and one day, folks. Until . . . Harry Potter. Which really is just a cruel crumb of a two-week-and-four-day cupcake away from the big tasty, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Now, try to tell me--and try to be convincing--that you don't have a secret stash of tally marks that's counting the days until Harry and his crew resurface. (Spoiler alert! Will they really abandon Hogwarts?) Just try. And I still won't believe you.

I haven't had this much pent up anticipation since Duran Duran came to town when I was an eighth grade. Or since, ahem, the days of premarital sex. This is an event. A butterflies-aflurry, will-the-day-ever-arrive, and can-I-possibly-survive-the-wait ardor.

We just don't get many events like this in life. And at the ripe age of 29-very-plus, those moments of delayed requiting seem fewer and fewer. We just don't have to wait for things as long anymore and those things that are dangled in front of us for months or years on end (re: Phantom Menace, Matrix Revolutions, adulthood) often aren't worth their measure of marketing.

But Harry, I have high hopes for you, lad. I have questions that need to be answered. I have people I want to see resurrected. I have acting I'd like to see redeemed. And so, on you, Harry, I pin my hopes of the world. Be my light, Harry. Be my salvation.

And of course, if you don't put out for me, Harry, it's only six months until season 4 of Battlestar Galactica.

I Actually Said This to My Four Year Old

"Kid, the amount you dawdle is inversely proportional to the number of books you'll be getting."

Monday, July 02, 2007

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Aliens. Aliens are coming to dinner.

We've been running from the aliens for weeks now. Maybe even months. They especially like to track us when we're headed into the gym. For some reason, they hover near elliptical trainers and treadmills. But they would never follow us inside. They would never, you know, like kickbox with us.

Tonight, Finn mistook Venus--you know, the planet--for an alien spacecraft. And yet again, those persistent little extraterrestrial stalkers were following us. We can't seem to catch a break.

But these aliens, Finn let me know, were nice aliens. We didn't have to outrun them. We didn't have to hide. We could let them catch up. And that would be okay. We could even invite them in for a plate of warm cookies, and should they want dinner, we could make them pancakes.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Reluctant Goodbye

Scene: Airport. Moments from the mass-boarding of KiKi's flight back home.

"Finn, don't you want to say good-bye to KiKi?"

"No."

"Why?"

"I'm mad. I want her to stay."

"She has to go home, Finn. And I think you should give her hug."

"No."

"You sure?"

"No."

"You don't want to give her hug?"

"No."

"Okay."

We start to walk away. Finn's on my back, piggie-style. We're almost to the doors. I turn to give one last wave to KiKi. I'm so going to miss her. Finn gets a last look and throws out a last wave.

And then: "Wait, mama. Wait, mama. I do. I do. I do. I do."

I set Finn down and he runs back to KiKi, arms outstretched. She squats down to catch him, arms wide, eyes watering. And despite the throngs of people that are boarding and disembarking and otherwise dodging the trajectory of an erratic preschooler, they prove, once again, that ain't nobody gonna get between a boy and his KiKi.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Because the World Spins a Little More Thoroughly When KiKi's Got the Wheel

Last night, Aunt Kiki gave Finn her first bath. Well, she's had baths before, and she generally smells quite nice. And Finn, of course, has had baths before, and he occasionally smells quite nice. But Kiki has never given Finn a bath. Ergo, the firstiness.

I started the bath water at 8:30 p.m. (note the time), with the full intention of giving my kid his bath. But when he demanded those services of KiKi, I reluctantly (and yet with a speed that would impress even Wally West) handed over the reins to this most cherished duty and ran to take full advantage of this pocket of rare time.

I cleaned.

(Hey, I heard that. A little quieter with your your disapproval, please. I'm trying to write here.)

The bath could've gone a lot of ways. You see, Finn is an unpredictable taker of the baths. He prefers, for example, to be a splasher, not a splashee, and if any trace of tear-inducing or even tear-free shampoo or really even just water shimmies near his eye, he will scream. And I use scream in that blood-curdling-thrice-the-force-of-the-Wilhelm scream-to-which-chocolate-must-be- administered-immediately sense. It could've happened. And if Finn screamed, odds are good KiKi would scream back and then I would be out of chocolate and that is simply no good.

But, we must be honest. Finn really wasn't our concern.

You see, I've had my eye on Aunt KiKi. She's been helping me hold down the fort this past week (and as of yesterday, quite literally, as a 20 ft. blanket and couch-pillow fort took over our living room). I've seen her sneak peeks at Finn's toy dinosaur eggs, glee-ing out at every crack. I've heard tales of their Monster game, where Finn chases her (the monster) with his toy chainsaw, for something like 45 minutes. I've witnessed her roll-race down our grassy hill. I was there when she made Finn and his blanket into at least six pizzas, five burritos, and one cream puff. And I've seen her fall prey to the manipulations of a four year who'd rather play with her than take his nap. (Sure, she apologized, but she wasn't winning any awards for that performance.)

So Finn really wasn't the one to worry about. KiKi really takes her godma role seriously, in that very unserious chase-the-blanket-turned-into-a-tail way that gets Finn's supergiggles going.


But since I didn't hear any screams from either boy or aunt, I just kept going, changing the sheets on the bed, putting the laundry away, dusting the lamps, mopping the bedroom and hallway hard woods, cleaning baseboards, re-alpha'ing our 400-volume library, regrouting the tile, detailing our car.

Wait a minute. What were they doing in there?

And that's when I finally looked at the clock. It was 9:20. Almost a full and quite pruny hour of bathing--for Finn and KiKi's jeans alike. And where I sincerely doubt my son was irreparably damaged by such a thorough "cleaning," I do wonder if KiKi will ever be the same. If her sparkly eyes and bubbly giggle were any indication, I don’t think she’ll mind.

(Although she may have permanently de-aged about 20 years.)