Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Magical Vacation

Yesterday my sister pulled out a bloody band-aid from her OMELET. Yes, we were in a fancy restaurant. Yes she covered her face with her hands and said Oh my God. No she is not typically squeamish. Yes we were simultaneously laughing and horrified. Yes my youngest sister who was there with us too said this is worse than a bug, and we all said it's true! It is!. No we do not like to make dramatic scenes and report restaurants to the Health Department and have them shut down. No we did not totally lose our appetites. Yes we were told that we could order anything off the menu for free. Yes we contemplated inviting friends and family and staying for dinner. Yes we moved on but periodically came back to it and shook our heads and glanced at each other and started laughing all over again. Yes we had a great time and did not want to leave because it felt like a magical vacation.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Metaphor For Puberty

Tetherball was not a big sport where I grew up in Pennsylvania. I would go so far as to say it is not a big sport on the entire east coast. I always thought it was designed as a way for only children to play catch by themselves. It looked vaguely like a torture device and I can remember cutting a wide path around the few that I encountered (I said encountered) as a kid. I imagined in Los Angeles, where there were lots of only children, kids stood on manicured lawns in the hot sun and pounded the ball with their little fists, only to have it come around and smack them in the head while their parents smoked joints and drank sangria around the pool with Warren Beatty and Michelle Phillips.

After moving to LA, though, I found out that tetherball actually requires two people and the object is to try to punch the ball as hard as you can hopefully smacking your opponent in the face and causing a bloody nose. It is a battle not only of physical superiority but of will.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Y Chromosomes

Harry was lying on the couch watching Dora, a cartoon character who occasionally crosses the fourth wall to talk to the TV audience in a loud, enthusiastic voice. She will ask a question, pause for the response and then comment back.
Dora: I like the balloons. What do you like about the carnival?
Harry: My penis.
Dora: I like that too.
Harry: (falls off the couch laughing)

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Maul

This weekend we went to an outdoor mall that has fountains and trolleys and a live jazzy jazz band with horns. It is the kind of place where you might see someone skip out of a store with 3 huge bags in each hand and break into a Broadway show tune. And you would not be surprised. In the winter, at Christmas-time, there is fake snow after 5 pm that blows down under the old fashioned street lamps and Nat King Cole sings through the loud speakers. There are foot-long orange and yellow koi fish that swim around in ponds and people line up to kiosks that sell bedazzled Louis Vuitton outfits for small dogs. It is the kind of place where rainbows and lollipops decorate the sky and there’s a three-story glass staircase in the Mac store.

It is the also kind of place where you go to pay for four tickets to the movie, 3 children, 1 adult and they tell you $57. It is the kind of place where, at the restaurant next door, a hamburger is called ground sirloin and comes on a brioche made in a Parisian bakery (and where a child who doesn’t care for the brioche will drop it into a plant next to the table, even though the Parisian brioche is part of the reason the burger costs $23). It is also the kind of place where at least one child will find an item that he instantly and wholeheartedly cannot live without. And he will be so overcome when he keeps hearing the word No that he lies down on the trolley tracks until an adult in attendance tells him the entire family will have to spend the night in jail after they are forced to clean the blood and ground sirloin off the tracks. And he still won’t get up.

It is the kind of place where people turn their heads and sadly look away while you drag your screaming child back to the valet parking lot while the other two children alternate between looking humiliated and yelling at the screaming child every time it seems like he might stop. The kind of place where you just give your entire wallet, your watch and your sneakers to the parking attendant so you can be on your way. And the kind of place where once you are back on the street and five minutes away, everyone, finally and happily, starts singing.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Not Cool

Come here rude boy boy can you get it up? Come here rude boy boy is you big enough.

I look in the rear view mirror at Dar's friend who is singing loud and with her head thrown back like she's sittin around the campfire. Lyrics aside, she reminded me of girls who sang along loudly, without reservation and with an english accent, from when I was 11. I secretly hated them and thought they were cool. I looked at Dar to see what she was thinking. She didn't seem to be paying attention.

I like the way you touch me there. I like the way you pull my hair.

Me: All right that's enough. I cleared my throat and turned it off
Dar: Mom, M- was singing that.
Me: Sorry that's just too sexual for this time of day (then in my head I said What. the. hell? to myself)
We drove along in complete silence until we got to school.

Sometimes it's funny. I can appreciate that. It's so extreme that it becomes ridiculous.

But I don't think you need to have a dirty mind to hear Rhianna sing I like the way you pull my hair and think of two specific images, one of which was released by the LA Police department.
Buzz-kill. Sorry.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Angels, Unicorns and Origami Money

Yesterday while I was putting money in the parking meter, I found a dollar in the street folded like a piece of origami. Then a few hours later when I stopped to get a cup of coffee I found a 20 dollar bill mixed in with some leaves by the curb, also folded like a piece of origami. I believe that if you find cash outside it is free for the taking and you don’t have to feel guilty about it. In fact you should probably feel the opposite of guilty. You should feel like it has been left there for you by your guardian angel. Yeah, it’s kooky but then explain the origami. See what I’m saying?

Once about ten years ago when the big-headed bills were first printed up, I had a 100 dollar bill in my pocket and I went into Tower Records to do some Christmas shopping. I picked something out and stood in the endless Christmas-shopping line and all of a sudden someone yelled out: Did anyone lose a hundred dollar bill in the parking lot? (Could you imagine that a person exists who would yell that out into a crowded store at Christmas?) I patted my pockets in a panic. And they were empty.

“Does it have a big Ben Franklin head?” I yelled.


“That’s mine!”

I hugged the guy and offered him 40 dollars, which he accepted. We said Merry Christmas and never saw each other again.

Ok? Again: guardian angel.

Once when Mo was about 8 we were driving on the highway in a torrential downpour and my car broke down. I was lucky to be able to pull off on the shoulder, put on my hazards and wait. I tried to put my arm out the window and wave someone down, but when I unrolled the window it was as though someone threw a bucket of water in my face. So we sat (this was before cell phones). After about 30 minutes, a white van pulled up behind us, shining his lights into the car.

Is he going to get out? Mo said.

After he finishes loading his gun, I thought.

In the dark, in the rain, I saw a LARGE man got out of the van. He walked towards us, knocked on the window and made a sign with his thumb that meant Get In The Van. (did we have a choice?) I carried Mo and we ducked into the waterfall and ran to the passenger side and got in.

Inside it was warm and smelled amazing. The entire back of the van was filled with trays of donuts! We would never be murdered in a van with donuts. The Large Man made room on the floor for Mo to sit, asked us where we wanted to go and drove us there. He barely said anything except that his name was James and he was making a delivery to a church. When he dropped us off at the Howard Johnson's he gave Mo 3 dollars. I never saw him again and if you asked me, would not be able to describe what he looked like.

Ok? You see what I'm saying?

Saturday, May 15, 2010


When I was 8, I lived within walking distance from the Eastern State Penitentiary, a prison that was built in Philadelphia in the early 19th century. Each cell was meant for solitary confinement and was built with the belief that if you spent time alone you would come to repent. There was a small skylight in the ceiling of each cell to let in the "light of God". There were no visitors, no books or letters, and when they were walked from room to room they had to wear a hood to keep them from any sort of communication. What happened though is that a lot of the prisoners (some of whom were in there for crimes like spitting or public drunkenness) went crazy. Al Capone stayed there for a while as did Pep the dog who allegedly killed the Governor's pet cat.
Maybe this has something to do with the long-term ineffectiveness of timeouts.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Dogs in My Neighborhood: Zoe

Things I have No Patience For When I Am Stressed or Have had Too Much Coffee

People who say "I'm well" when asked how they're doing (same with "I shall" in response to "Tell Bobby I said hey").
People who try to convince me Forest Gump is a great movie.
People who make duckface in photos.
Drivers who don't allow you to merge.
People who lay on their horn even though you have your blinker on.
People who say they have food allergies instead of just saying no, thank you.
Hearing myself bark out orders and instructions like "Don't put your shoes on the table" or "Don't stand on the arm of the sofa".
The way the inside of my head feels like a slot machine that never stops.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tiny Guy

Nuts. Part II

And speaking of feeling old. There is nothing like being left out of the joke at the dinner table. Harry said, Mom, who's the main character in Percy Jackson and the Olympians (he asked as though he could not remember, as though it was on the tip of his tongue).
Poseidon? I said.
Harry looked at Dar and then laughed so hard, he fell out of his chair and had to spit the food that was in his mouth. Then Dar laughed so hard she got the hiccups.
I felt like 97 year old Granny in the wheelchair, hunched over and wobbly, having to clear her throat through the phlegm and baked potato still in her mouth, "What is it?"


Eating a piece of toast this morning I had a realization about nuts (not only the kind you eat, but the kind you have and the kind you are): they are something you get used to, the older you get.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sean Connery, My Ass

I read about this woman who can’t tell the difference between voices. Unless the person is standing right in front of her, she can’t recognize male or female, child or adult, friend or foe. It’s called phonagnosia. She can recognize one voice however: Sean Connery’s. This is from an article in the Science section of the NY Times.

Come on people, really? You’re buying this? I can tell three things about this woman just from the first paragraph of the story: 1. She’s a mother. 2. She’s exhausted. 3. She’s FUNNY.

Child yelling from the other room: Where’s my shoe?

Woman with Phonagnosia: No thank you, Mr. Franklin.

This must be connected to the part of the brain that remembers voices (aren’t recognizing and remembering essentially the same thing?) which in turn is connected to identifying the name of the person speaking. Sometimes you need to go through an entire list before you get it right. This is one reason why people stick with one name, like hon or sweets or, as in my family, bub.

Morgan has never had patience with my inability to recall the names of her friends. Once I made the mistake of calling her best friend “Kelly” instead of her actual name.

Is Kelly coming over?

(all activity stops, someone picks the needle off the record) Who, Mom?

(nervously) Um. Kel----ly?

(staring at me like a gang member at a drive by) Seriously?

Kel---Kelsey. I mean Kelsey.

(she shakes her head slowly and walks away)

I think she should get a job helping those scientists who are studying phonagnosia. That woman will stop fooling.

Monday, May 10, 2010


There is something prehistoric about Palm Springs: slow moving, dreamy, dark and powerful below the surface. It would not be odd to see a Brontosaurus sauntering through this landscape. Or a male Neanderthal carrying a club and dragging his wife by the hair. The closest thing to a dinosaur I saw was a darkly tanned woman in a bikini. And I’m not making a reference to her age because it was impossible to tell if she was 45 or 75, but her ass hung down like a hemmed curtain, just two empty flaps of skin. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I don’t know if it is a reflection of my maturity level or the fact that I am usually the odd one out but I can’t relax in a place where there’s nothing to do but sit in the heat, shop or play golf.
I read that it was recently discovered that Neanderthal DNA has been found on the human genome. Neanderthals are similar to humans in that they could control fire (air conditioning), construct complex shelters (condo developments), skin animals to make clothing (outlets) and ritually bury their dead (retirement communities). Maybe vacationing in Palm Springs is a retreat to the past. And the cause of my uneasiness.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Working out My Imagination

In boxing class there’s a part where you partner up and hold the bag while the other guy hits it. Last night the guy I partnered with was hitting it so hard I actually felt the wind from his right hook and saw stars. From the wind!
I imagined that he swung just an inch to the right, and in slow motion connected with the left side of my face, causing my right eye, nose and side of my mouth to scrunch up, and the sweat on my forehead to spray. I imagined falling to the ground. I imagined everyone hushing and the guy standing over me and saying, I’m so sorry, like he was under water. All I can see is black and then out of nowhere a clown in full costume and rainbow afro wig comes out of nowhere and throws a bucket of water over me. There is more hush. I turn onto all fours and shake it off like a dog. I slowly get to my feet and try to focus on the guy. I take a wide swinging arc with my arm, and with the force of it and the water on the floor I knock my own legs out from under myself, landing on my back, my legs dramatically coming down together and hitting the floor like 50 pound sacks of flour.
Then the bell rings and someone yells out 25 pushups people. Two five. And I say to the guy, you almost killed me.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I have been watching Nurse Jackie on dvd and was wondering about the amount of drugs she takes. First of all it seems like it would knock out a horse and second of all it seems like of course! She needs it to get through a long day of being near death and having to play second fiddle to the doctors (not to mention carrying on an affair and having two divas for best friends). It must be true. I have not spent too much time in hospitals although I’ve been to the emergency room on various occasions. Nurses are the ones you latch on to hoping for some human contact in the sterilized, slow-moving world of the hospital. If they are human and kind and helpful it makes all the difference. You are after all in a world you want to leave the moment you enter. If they are not human though, they can pull you into a downward vortex of pain and misery and horror. And that’s not good.