Thursday, July 29, 2010


I had heard a story about Barry’s Bootcamp where a chubby lady, frustrated with the fourth set of back leg lifts, started crying in the middle of a class (“I think I have seriously injured my back.”) and the instructor got right up in her face and said Waa, Waa, Waa and then gave her a kick in the ass. (soccer style, not a hard one)“Look at that jigglin’; why don’t you cry when you look at that!” I love that. I love the idea of having to suffer and be miserable in order to succeed. So when my sisters asked me to go with them two days ago I thought: yeah Barry, bring it on.

First of all, as we were walking in, my sister took my arm and said don’t be scared but there’s our instructor. He looked over at us and winked. Juliette whispered “He’s a stone cold fox” and I felt simultaneously giddy and geriatric. The room was dark, not sexy, candle dark but cold, torture chamber dark, and to make matters worse the music was so loud I could feel it in my teeth. Something was happening, and I think I knew what it felt like to be a detainee at Guatanamo.

I can’t go into the details because I blacked out, but I do remember almost killing myself trying to do sidestep criss-crosses on the treadmill. And that no one there was laughing or smiling. And that on our way out, no one spoke or looked each other in the eye, and that I dragged my purse along the ground as a staggered across the parking lot. And that yesterday and today I have to sit down when I go down stairs, and brace my hand on the wall when I sit down on the toilet.

It’s fantastic. I’m going back tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Sportscaster and The Bunny

It’s my brother’s birthday today and for the next few months we will be the same age because we are only 10 1/2 months apart. When we were little I always wished we were twins. We were our own version of twins, I guess. Not that we connected so much, but more that we had an unspoken understanding of each other. He was hyper and energetic and easy-going. I was slow-moving, quiet and angry. He was a pleaser, and I lived in my imagination. But I liked having him around, and I think he felt the same about me.

I’m not sure when it happened, maybe after the teenage years, but we each started to adopt the other person’s characteristics; he started to close and I started to open. We switched, like some odd, slow-moving, figure-8 exchange. I am still a dreamer and he is still more functional but something very twin-like took place. I only wish I saw him more.

Happy Birthday Pete.

Monday, July 26, 2010

4 More Days

Dar and Harry are coming home in 4 days so until then I have to go all the way under a rock and finish writing. Everything I post this next week is all procrastination. I love you. This song is for Mo-licious.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Let Your Conscience Be your Guide

I have recently been lying in bed at night feeling as though an army of thousands of miniscule bugs are creeping and crawling up and down my body: in between my toes, in my ears and yes, even in the dark crevices. I am an expert at explaining away most things by distracting myself with other, stronger, more upsetting thoughts than the ones at hand. But if something feels like it is burrowing its way into my hiney hole, there’s not a whole lot else to think about. Especially when I am completely alone in my house.

And yet.

The marching is at its worst when I first wake up in the morning (or maybe I wake up because it’s at its worst in the morning), but believe it or not, once I am up and running I am excellent at completely blocking it all out. How? It’s disgusting. It’s horrifying. There might be live creatures crawling into my ass. I don’t know what to tell you. In my mind I am able to put the emphasis on might be. I have things to do, I think to myself, I’m probably just imagining it.

I may have been able to stay in denial if it weren’t for my neighbor Leslie who asked me if I had any bugs in the house. Oh my god YES, I screamed and immediately began to scratch my head and underarms like a dog with fleas. It’s horrible, I said; I was practically in tears. She told me that the exterminator was coming to her place to investigate, should I send him over to yours?


I flew back into my house and tore off all the sheets and random items of clothing and washed them in scalding water. I vacuumed up any hair or speck of dust and then washed the floors and bed frames with bleach and cleaner. I wore a mask and rubber gloves. I thought, Oh my God, what happened, I wasn’t thinking, I might be losing my mind. I’m a live and relatively intelligent person and I’ve been letting bugs crawl all over me. I must hate myself.

I was thinking about the way that denial is much more soothing than action, when Tom the exterminator came by. Tom had a completely shaved bald-head and looked like a combination between Irving Swifty Lazar and Jiminy Cricket. He came fully equipped with a flashlight and a clipboard. He knew every possible thing there was to know about any and all species of bugs from the dawn of all time to the present day. His eyes darted from the light switch to the window-sill to the four corners of the walls, “There’s no bugs in here,” he said, then he switched on the flashlight and helped himself to a look around.

I stood out of the way. I knew I was in the presence of a master. I told him I thought I had bed bugs.

What makes you say that?

When I’m in bed, I’m itchy.

He walked to the bedroom and told me about the lifespan and habits of the bedbug. I was riveted. He told me about walking into homes where the bottom of his pants turned black from fleas jumping on. He took the flashlight and examined my mattress, pillows, head board and frame. Then he did it to the other beds.

Tell me why you think you have bed bugs.

I’m itchy. I can feel them crawling all over me.

You got a lot on your mind?

What the fuck Tom, yes. I always do.

He looked at me, his eyes magnified to the size of jelly donuts.

You think I’m imagining this.

I can’t tell you what’s going on in your head.

Tom, you’re messing with me now.

We’re done.

Tom, I felt them. In between my toes. Into my ears. (I followed him to the front door).

It happens.

I couldn’t argue with the guy. He had to be right. He knew what he was talking about.

Why am I so itchy Tom?

Maybe you’re trying to distract yourself from feeling lonely.

I looked at him. He was already halfway back to his van, What if I need you to come back .

Just give a little whistle, he said, and drove away.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Phone Home

When I was little, I used to visit my Grandparents in Rhode Island for a few weeks in the summer. If we called my mother ever, it would happen maybe once, usually at the end of our stay, at night, after the bath but before bed, when my hair was still wet and the phone rates were cheap. Nana would sit in the chair by the heavy black phone and dial the number and then hand me the receiver. There’d be a long sound sssssshhhhhhh before I could hear a low froggy ring that sounded muffled and under water (my grandparents lived out in the country surrounded by corn fields and tree farms). My Mom would answer, Hello?, and her voice sounded so strange I barely recognized it. We’d talk for a minute or two and then quickly say goodbye.

When Mo was little, she used to go to her grandmother’s house for a few weeks in the summer. We couldn’t talk on the phone because it was too upsetting. We missed each other, and the phone calls inevitably ended in tears, so it was better to avoid the distraction of hearing each other’s voice. And really, what did she need to talk to me for? She was having a fantastic time in a beautiful (and not boring) place with lots of people who loved her. Instead, each summer visit, I would send her some letters and a care package.

You know where this is headed.

Dar has been visiting her grandmother for 2 days so far and I have gotten 87 texts, calls and emailed photos. A few calls at 11 pm. I haven’t heard from Harry though I’m not sure if it’s because he’s too busy playing, or if he’s not into the cell phone world yet, or if he’s a guy (probably a combination of all three). It would be easy, and boring, for me to talk about the good old days when kids had the ability to focus and keep themselves busy and happy with a spoon and a pile of dirt. But I think they can still do all those things: crack each other up pressing their faces on the back screen-door, run around catching fireflies, have water-gun fights and text their friends, post pictures on facebook, and call home.

I’m the one who can’t.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Today is Harry's Birthday and since he's visiting his Gramma, Aunt and cousins, we are not celebrating together. For the first time in nine years. It feels very odd not to be making last minute trips to Target and the grocery store and calling friends who never said if they were actually coming to his party. It's very quiet. I've been thinking about all the things he's experienced so far, and all the things about him that are an honor to know.

He lives with three girls who all function pretty much on the high end of the dramatic/emotional scale.
He is two belts away from his Black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
He loves all animals, but especially dogs, even though he was attacked by a pit bull at age 4. He will sometimes ask me to pull over if he sees a cute pug or bulldog.
He is a great dancer.
He is an excellent cartoonist and loves to draw.
He calls my friend's dog, who is named Deena, Deena Fey.
He is on a first name basis with the ice cream man.
Homer is his favorite Simpson's character.
He can do a spot on impersonation of a Vietnamese nail-salon lady.
He always wakes up happy and ready to go.

Happy Birthday Harry!

Unaccompanied Minors

Yesterday Darla and Harry went on an airplane by themselves. Since it is the religion of my family to worry about things that don’t exist, I got a call in the morning saying it might be raining in Philadelphia when they arrive. Really raining a lot. Maybe. Here’s what the voice in my head says when I get information like that.

(to myself)Oh whatever. Rain shmain. Pilots fly every day in bad weather.

(to my family member)You’re insane to worry. What’s your problem loading me up with your negative fearful thoughts?

(to myself) How am I related to these people?

(to my family member-FM) I hate you.

(to myself –MS) Rain. Rain. Thunderstorms. Lightening bolts.

(FM) Are you sure about the rain? Have you checked the weather?

(MS) Oh my god Lightening bolts. The plane will toss and turn and crash into a mountain. It will toss and turn for 45 minutes while Dar and Har suffer with fear and horror. And in the middle of the storm, a terrorist will stand up and spray all the passengers with his machine gun and they will all be wounded as the plane spirals downward into the rocks.

While the voice in my head is going on like this, outwardly I prepare to take my kids to the airport. We eat breakfast, walk the dogs, finish packing, watch cartoons, go on the computer. OHMYGODITS11:30WEHAVETOGORIGHTNOWCOMEONRIGHTNOW.

We run around and scream at each other for 5 minutes like the keystone cops.

We get in the car and just as I’m about to get on the entry to the freeway, I remember I don’t have cash. I do a quick U-ey and get lost looking for a Bank of America. I swear and drive like an insane maniac. I give up and go back to the one in my neighborhood, located completely in the opposite direction.

Back on the freeway there is miraculously no traffic and at once I am breathing normally and thinking this is fine, no probs, all is great. I am totally organized afterall. Why am I so hard on myself. Sheesh.

Then at the airport I can’t find the right garage. And we have to do the entire airport circle. Twice.

Then there is a line the full length of the Brooklyn Bridge to check in.

Ditto for the x-ray machine.

The whole time this is going on we are having a normal conversation. Harry is telling me about the new game on his DS. Dar is telling me what she downloaded on the ipod. We talk about Justin Beiber’s hair and the place in the Jersey Shore where they will be staying the second week of the visit. And some movies they want to see.

Meanwhile I’m sweating and feeling like I have to vomit.

Then Dar and Har get their plastic cards to hang around their neck to show that they are unaccompanied minors. (i.e. symbols of Children of divorce with horrible lives that are not their own). (Ok that thought doesn’t really stick but it does come into my head for an instant).

We still have 40 minutes. All is well. We didn’t have time for lunch but we’ll buy some snacks for the plane. Oh my God this is fantastic.

I go to the Starbucks and tell the barista my kids are traveling by themselves and my voice gets shakey and tears rise up. “Yes two weeks. Uh huh. Oh and two bananas too please.” I just keep talking because I wasn’t expecting this. I sniff and wipe my eyes before turning back to Dar and Har.

By then it is time for them to board. They are loaded with snacks and electronic gadgets. We hug and kiss and they run (literally) down the tube to the plane.

The plane is beautiful, purple, yellow and red. I can see little heads but I don’t know whose they are. Within seconds I get a text telling me they are seated in first class next to another unaccompanied minor named Morgan. I cry and am relieved and think that’s a good omen. Within ten minutes the plane pulls out, heads for the runway and lifts up into the air. I watch it until it is a tiny speck.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Bus Driver Who Went to Work on His Birthday

I have watched this video 20 times. I can't stop. Isn't it weird that you can tell that he so deserves this nice surprise? (click the video twice to make it full size)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Where Every Day Begins Like a Dream

This morning Mo discovered a parade of roller derby girls with nerf bats. They whacked her in the ass when she walked by. How could your day start out any better than that?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Professional Oracle

(Paul the German octopus has correctly predicted the winner of each of the World Cup games.)

Mom, someone’s at the door.

Tell him I’m busy. I’ll be there in a second. Christ.

It’s an octopus.


It’s an octopus.

What are you talking about?

The guy at the door. He’s an octopus.

He’s dressed like an octopus?

No. He’s a real one.

That’s ridiculous. How’s he--? What is--? Hold on. I’M COMING. goddammit…. Oh.


(silence and shocked dismay)

It’s an octopus.

I see that. How is he, wait, is this some kind of a, this is--,who?

(the Octopus, hovering in mid-air, reaches a tentacle into his pocket and pulls out a card, it reads “Paul” and on the back it says, “Professional Oracle”)

What’s a professional Oracle?

A person, agency or animal considered to be a source of prophetic opinion.

What does that mean?

Someone who tells you what’s going to happen.

(Paul reaches into another pocket and pulls out a card that reads “It has to be a yes/no, either/or type of question”. Then on the other side it says “I can’t speak”.)

This is fantastic.

What should we ask him?

Will I ever get married?

Oh brother.

Will my soul-mate come back to me?


Will I soon have millions of dollars?


Ok what would you ask?

Will I ever get a real light saber?



Of all the questions in the world that's your question?

How's that any worse than your pathetic one about a soul-mate.

That's not pathetic.

Yeah ok.

I loved someone and he loved me and there's nothing better than that.

Keep telling yourself.

You have no idea.

Mom I'm 8. It's just gross.

It isn't. It's a beautiful thing.

Where is he now?

He's in New England with his girlfriend.

Wow. I feel sorry for you.

It's ok.

Mom don't cry in front of Paul.

Sorry Paul.

(he reaches into his pocket and pulls out another card. It reads, "I really can only predict the outcome of sporting events")

Oh my God. Paul!

(he shrugs his tentacles)

That' s not right.

You got my hopes up.

So you can't tell me about the light saber?


(As Paul floats away he leaves one last card. It reads: "I knew this would happen".)