Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The nightmare before New Years

It's official: sheetrock and I have arrived at a special new juncture in our relationship. For many, many years, I looked at walls and thought to myself, "ah, I see a wall there...." I wasn't completely ignorant--I could, of course, identify a particularly egregious application of faux wood paneling like any old rookie can--but for the most part, I have been completely ignorant of the particulars of interior wall treatments. But no more.

For the past two years, Bryan and I have done the stupidest of all possible stupid things and have taken on an enormous, unholy headache of a home improvement project right after Christmas. Last year, it was gutting and remodeling our bathroom. This year, we're painting our dining and living rooms. Ooooh, painting, you say. Quit being a whiney baby, Jesslyn, you say. Painting's not so hard, you say.

On the contrary, my brothers.

So, our house is a little bit of a dump. Not so much as prevented us from buying it, mind you. It was just somebody's sort of shoddy workmanship (probably helped along by some psilocybian mushrooms) in 1951 that became somebody's grandma's house and then about 15 other people's rental house and now it's our house. It's been rode hard and put away wet, like Daddy always says. It's also the kind of place where you start a small project and before you know it, you're chest deep in a morass of strange truths about the builder's psyche. Lately I've been wondering to myself, WHERE did that guy FIND THIS DRYWALL? Did he make it himself out of a sandbox and a pack of construction paper? I mean, SWEET BANANA PANCAKES, people! It really is that bad.

And so, in the age old tradition of the men in my husband's family, what began as a simple painting project became a sandstorm of spackle dust. Because there is nothing-absolutely-nothing that can't be fixed with spackle, caulk, 80 grit sandpaper and a couple layers of paint. And about 72 hours. Per room. The photo above was taken at 10 this morning after I dropped Odessa off at my friend Kerry's so she didn't have to inhale all those spackle nanoparticles (thanks Aunt Keggy!). Do you see the insane glint in his eye? Or rather, take my word for it: if his glasses weren't so covered in spackle dust, you would see a really insane, sandy sort of glint in his eye that said "I think I know what that guy was thinking with this drywall."

Yes, friends, this is the face of a man who has entered the Heart of Darkness. The horror.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Merry Christmas Work Luncheon

As I have a long list of items to discuss with you, My Readership, but only a short time to devote to said items (it being already 12:30 and tomorrow being a work day, despite the festive harmonic undertones that make me forget that I must rest up so as to better perform my professional duties in the morning), I'll prioritize the topics based on a very complex mathematical equation I just made up:
number of possible topics - all topics that would take a long time to write about= tonight's topic


So, today was the shortest day of the whole year. I kind of like that feeling of nowhere to go but up, so I had a nice day. We went out for a Merry Christmas work luncheon, which always feels like the last day of school before holiday, even if it isn't. At my office, there's a cap on office banter; mine is not one of those office environments where there is practical joking or a bunch of chummy chortling. It is a rather serious, subdued place to be, which lends itself to getting work done, but when given the opportunity like a holiday Merry Christmas all- staff invitational luncheon, I just let her rip, and the devil take the hindmost. It feels good to just talk, like when you go to recess on a nice fall day in, say, 2nd grade, and you just run and run and run and get all sweaty and flushed so that your hair sticks to your neck, and your lungs burn from all the cool air and exercise, and you feel like you could do anything, including do a flip off the monkey bars, which you don't do, but you compromise by trying to do a flip as you're running along, but it doesn't exactly work and you land hard on your back and get the wind knocked out of you a little bit, and after you recover, you just lie on the ground for a while looking up at the sky and feeling the place where a new tooth is coming in with the tip of your tongue, until some girls start doing a dance routine to the JEM theme song, and you run over to watch them until it gets too boring, so you run over to some girls who are playing horses and are whinnying at each other and galloping around a bit, so you gallop with them in their herd for the rest of recess, and by the end of it, your ponytail is really lopsided and the knees of your jeans and the heels of your hands are kind of muddy from all the horse pantomime you've been doing.

That's exactly what it feels like when I go to an informal Merry Christmas holiday staff lunchstravaganza and get to tell people about the funny story I heard the other day.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

OdessaWatch! PresentWatch!

Good evening. I've been asked by several people lately if Odessa is okay because last you heard, I was considering doing some holiday cooking in her pajamas. Well, she's fine. She had a mild ear infection which I think she's managing to fight off herself, and no more fevers!

Hey--and what's a good gift to send to a very mature 9 year old girl? By mature, I mean she's really good at withering looks and isn't intimidated by my "Ok, I'm serious, for real give me back my sunglasses" voice.

Okay, and also what do I get for a man who just started working in my office and who really likes college football, wears painstakingly ironed shirts, and has a kind of 1970's funk ringtone on his cell phone?

Ok! night night!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Monkey Barns

One of my very best friends is my old boss Mary. She's an aquatic ecologist. She's also hilarious, has a photographic memory, is the best public speaker I know, and thinks about Odessa's college fund when I'm thinking about how I'm going to pay for Odessa's daycare. Anyway, working for Mary was really great and I sometimes miss it a lot, even though working for her also meant going to the MONKEY BARNS.

I worked for Mary for about 4 years when Miley Cyrus was in like second grade or something, and mostly what I did was caught little alive fish in creeks all around Georgia during the summer, and looked at and identified little dead fish in a lab while listening to books on tape all winter. Seriously, I listened to Moby Dick for 8 hours every day for two weeks, which felt to me a lot like it must have felt for Herman Melville to write Moby Dick (Herman Melville had different standards and expectations of himself than I do).

Anyway, while I was working for Mary, the University of Georgia--bless them--let us use these buildings down by the smelliest portion of the river near the waste water treatment plant to store all the dead fish in pickling liquids that we didn't happen to be using at the moment up at the regular labs. The complex was technically called The Annex, but we just called them the Monkey Barns. They were a couple of low, tin sided, faded brown buildings where they used to do primate experiments back in the 70's. There weren't any monkeys there anymore, but their cages were there in all the rooms, and whoever was doing experiments on the monkeys sure left a lot of crap lying around. A festive, cozy place it was.

So, yeah--the monkey barns were horrifying. There were all these little, yellowing typed signs taped on all the doors and next to the sinks and stuff reminding you to remember to water the monkeys and whatnot (because remember what happened last time everyone went on vacation?), etc. There were ceiling tiles soaked with the blood of squirrels that had been murdered by whatever was living in the crawl space. Sometimes all the lights would turn off for no reason. The whole place smelled like formaldehyde, and everywhere you went, there were shelves full of dead eyes staring at you from inside glass jars stuffed with tiny little pickled fish floating in a sort of brownish alcohol. And the buildings were technically condemned, so we were not allowed to stay in there for more than 2 hours a day due to the risk of asbestos poisoning.

And yet, for all the monkey barns' faults, it had one thing going for it, which was that one of its rooms housed the entire skeleton of a Right Wale that had washed up on the Georgia coast. Don't get me wrong--that room stunk to high heaven, even though the bones had been brought back to Athens and left in a forest for several years for the flesh to to be eaten off by raccoons and microbes and whatever else eats on a rotting Moby Dick carcass. When I was there, the bones were just stacked up all over this room in the creepier of the two buildings. But at any rate, it was the coolest thing about the monkey barns. (That's right--THE coolest thing.)

So, today I saw Mary and she said that they've been moving everything out of the monkey barns. I reckon they're going to be demolished or something and it's about damn time in my opinion. But they had to move the remains of the whale today, and while they were doing it, the skull of the whale fell on someone's foot, and Mary thinks it broke the foot in question because apparently a whale skull weighs just about a ton.

So, goodbye and good riddance, Monkey Barns! Rest in Peace (as if you possibly could).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Since last we met...

I bet you're wondering where I've been. Okay, so maybe you weren't, but I certainly was.

I spent the past 6 days doing a lot of stuff, some of which I'll tell you about now, some which will have to wait until later. But here's the short version:

1. I mailed all my Christmas cards, which was quite something considering I am a sort of black hole of unproductivity these days. However, I did manage to mistake some $1 stamps for 1 cent stamps to the tune of something like $20 in postage, and had to be rescued by a saintly and rather incredulous mail counter lady. Well, I'm glad I did that because otherwise I wouldn't have known myself.

2. We went to this baby reunion. When I was pregnant with Odessa, we went every other Monday night to this really great birth/parenting class through our midwifery practice with a bunch of other couples, and now all the babies are born and kinda big and able to pull each other's hair and poke each other in the eye. Looking at all those babies, I realized something: before you have a baby, people are all the time making a bunch of lame and specious claims like "You're never going to sleep again," and "Kiss your movie watching days goodbye," and "They just grow up so fast," all of which are completely misleading. For starters, I sleep 5-6 hours every night, whether I need it or not. Furthermore, you may have noticed how many movies I manage to go see. Procreation has not tempered my movie-going moxie. And "they grow up so fast" is almost laughably inaccurate. I'll have you know, Odessa has grown up in the time it takes to bake a batch of cookies. The time it takes Lance Armstrong to ride a mile on his bike. The time it took for my dog to eat the bowl of spaghetti I dropped on the floor this evening. Babies don't grow up fast, they grow up lighting fast, muscle car fast, fast like a greased bunny with a jet pack on.

So, we had a baby reunion and it was adorable and also amazing to think that this time last year all the babies in that photo above (except the very advanced looking blond pixie in front) were all curled up in the tummies of all those ladies (with the exception of the lady in black at the far right who looks like Sophia Loren. She's our midwife, Susan, and she's got a special fancy chair waiting for her in heaven.) Now they are out, and are fully capable of throwing their own feces at the other monkeys, if only they were able to take off their diapers. Which they can't yet. But soon enough, and let's just hope it will be after their feces throwing impulses have abated.

3. Odessa, chip off the ole block that she is, has taken this, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, to contract a mysterious and temperamental fever. She has no symptoms of illness other than the fact that between the hours of 5 PM and midnight for the past 3 nights, you could roast a turkey in her pajamas. I have called the pediatricians office and they told me to bring her in when I have successfully cooked an egg sandwich on her forehead. I think we'll skip that step and take her in tomorrow.

So, I'm off to bed to make hay while the sun shines--or, rather, get warm while my baby makes a passable substitute for an electric blanket. More tomorrow!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I Heart the Crazies

It takes a lot to amaze me. Well, maybe not a lot, but I just don’t get amazed very often because, really? Most of the stuff/people you see/meet every day are pretty similar to everyone/everything else you see and meet every day. For instance, most of what I see/meet every day are my laptop at work and the new cashier at Earth Fare.

But sometimes I see/meet something different, and I just want to stare at it/them and maybe even hug it/them and maybe even put a straw in it/them and drink them all up. Well, maybe not that, but that’s kind of close to the feeling…. Like the other day I was in the Target parking lot and this woman walked through it and got into kind of beat up white van with an Australian Shepherd barking in it. She wasn’t beautiful or all the wacky looking or anything, but I could tell she wasn’t the same as everyone else in the Target parking lot, and I just wanted to run after her and ask her a bunch of questions: “Why do you drive that van? Do you have to haul a bunch of stuff? How did you get your hair to look like that? Are you from here? What are your parents like? Is that your dog? I bet you’ve been to Greece before—have you been to Greece?”

Anyway, today I was doing a little bit of light reading on Ye Olde Internets and I came across this tiny, insane little girl who is like 13 and has a fashion blog. And seriously—look at her. She is wearing a blanket and perhaps even Eddie Vedder's shirt from 1994 as a skirt and the front half of a jacket. I just want to take her kookster little Mia Farrow haircut head and plant a big wet kiss on the top of it. Because that little girl is 13 and she doesn't give a tinker's damn, ya'll. I can only hope as much for Odessa when she's 13.

By the way, her name is Tavi Gevinson and her blog is Style Rookie: http://tavi-thenewgirlintown.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Conscious Parenting

I subscribe to a list serve called "Conscious Parents" here in my town, and although the name makes me laugh (unconscious parenting seems like it would be more relaxing, but definitely not as effective), perusing it each morning is pleasurable, on many different levels.

One level is that it's genuinely helpful: I can post a question about remedies for Odessa's cough or ask which daycares are good in the area, and a lot of the people in the group have experience with that kind of stuff, so they write back with helpful suggestions. Which is great!

Other people post things like stories about how they feel guilty that they fed their kids Cheez-Its with Scrabble letters on them because they thought it would be educational, but in hindsight, they weren't organic and although the kids don't seem to have died yet, they'd like to get everyone in the whole town's reassurance that Child Protective Services isn't going to come after them in the night for feeding the kids SOYBEAN OIL WITH TBHQ FOR FRESHNESS. Which is great! Conscious Parents is a win-win, really.

So this morning I got my email digest from Conscious Parents and looked through it. Someone was looking for a bath ring (whatever that is), someone was asking for a dentist recommendation, someone else was trying to sell some lumber, etc. And then the following caught my eye: one post was entitled "Little House on the Prairie."

Now, it just so happens that I am currently reading Farmer Boy, which is the book Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about her husband, Almonzo Wilder's, childhood in upstate New York. Basically, Almonzo's family just did chores and planted/harvested stuff and made "candy" and went to old timey Independence Day celebrations. It's soothing and yet interesting. Plus, I've learned about how to make butter.

Anyway, so this lady posted a message on the listserve about Little House on the Prairie, so I read it. It said that everyone in town should strongly consider "avoiding" (read: banning) Little House books in our homes, since they are not culturally sensitive to Native Americans. That's when I just about lost my shit.

So, I admit I haven't read the entire Little House series in many years, and it may be racier than I remember. However, I've read a couple from the series recently, and--spoiler alert!--they were written about a time in American history that was not very politically correct. Like in Farmer Boy, there's a story about the day the "bad boys" came to school and all the students were worried they were going to beat the teacher to death like they did last year. Everyone in the neighborhood was saying "Well, it would be a shame, but he knew what he was in for taking the job."

This is just to say that living in 1868 on the frontier was tough, and one of the difficult things about it was having to deal with the people whose land it was, aka, the Indians. So yes, Pa might have uttered some disparaging remarks about the Natives driving the wagon across the prairie while worried about getting shot at, and unfortunately the Indians lost their land to people like Pa. Does that mean I shouldn't let Odessa read an otherwise excellent firsthand account of life on the American frontier? I'm not sure it does, lady. And I consider myself a pretty conscious parent.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Birth Order

I am a older sister. Within the realm of older-sisterhood, there are several categories: The Manipulator, The Nag, The Bitch, The Boss, The Goodie-Goodie, Madame Overlord, The Underminer, etc. I happen to fall under the category of Benevolent Dictator. Ask my sister; growing up, my sovereignty, although relatively amicable, was absolute. Every so often I was forced to assert myself, and let me say, it hurt me more than it hurt her.

Anyway, I am married to a person who is also an oldest child. I need to ask Abby, but I suspect Bryan must have been either The Assailant or The Disregarder (I just asked Bryan what kind of older brother he thinks he was and he said, "I'll tell you some kinds of brothers I was not: complacent...umm, solicitous... nurturing?"). Anyway, as a general rule, we two older siblings live together peacefully until we disagree about something, at which point, we get down to the business of being oldest siblings. And here's something I've noticed: it's exceedingly difficult to fight fire with fire.

So, Bryan has been wanting a wood stove for about 2 months. I have been skeptical about the plan for Reasons #1-#58, which I won't bore you with. Each time I bring up another difficulty with having a fiery furnace sitting in the middle of the only fully baby-proofed room in our house, Bryan has held up his roughly hewn wooden cross and shaken a couple of garlic cloves in my face. He has involved my father and mother. He has scoured the Internet with tireless enthusiasm. And finally, after countless discussions about code violations, insurance liabilities, safety hazards, space considerations, fuel scarcity, impractical house renovations, and what feels like over one hundred just plain "No's," yesterday Bryan drove 4 hours to Asheville and returned with a small, greasy black wood stove with a cracked window.

So all of your hats off to my husband, Bryan Nuse. I surrender. The best older sibling has prevailed.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Not Summer

The way I see it, there are 4 seasons to each year: Spring, Summer, Fall and Not Summer. I come from a long, long line of people who don't cotton well to the Not Summer. My dad is probably the worst off when it comes to Not Summer--there were a few years in my 20s when I simply couldn't speak to him between the months of November and March or when I did, I had to make sure to book an appointment with my therapist in advance. Virginia starts telling me I look fat and that my hair's too short or too ratty or too brown starting around December 12th. My sister hibernates like a little animal in Not Summer--when I talk to her on the phone in January, it's like talking to a very grouchy possum. To be fair, though, I'm not much better.

So, today was the Christmas parade in town, and I took Odessa. We stood in the cold for an hour and a half with some friends and watched the exterminator trucks all decorated with lights, and the Baptist church float with the kids dressed up as the nativity scene characters with "Under the Sea" playing in the background, and the 3 different marching bands, and the funeral home float with the one lonely little kid on it sitting in an armchair waving mournfully in front of a cardboard fireplace dancing with orange tissue paper fire, and about 400 cheerleaders. Seriously, so many cheerleaders. And the sky was that dark, dark black that you only see when it's Definitely Not Summer, and the lights were twinkling in the leafless trees and everyone was smiling and waving and saying "Merry Christmas!" including the one creepy guy in the suspenders whose pants were nevertheless in serious danger of falling off, and the cute little kids in the Montessori float were all saying "Happy Hanukah!" and "Happy Kwanzaa!" waving their little handmade mittens, and even the hipsters on the float with the Klezmer band and the guy with the light-up suit were hollering well wishes, and all the Humane Society dogs were grinning and wagging their tails like they hoped you had a pleasant Thanksgiving, and the Clydesdale horses were pulling a wagon down the street jingling their harnesses like in a 1980's Budweiser holiday ad. And a woman on the street stopped me because we were wearing the same coat, and we laughed and told each other how cute it looked on the other, and strangers stopped to admire Odessa and talk about what a little squishy lump of love she is. And we were all very kind to each other, because we knew--we KNEW that we were over compensating for something, that something was missing, that inside us all there was a little thing that was hollow and chill.

And, dear reader, I think we both know what that thing is. Remember: you don't have to say the "W" word. Not Summer is here now, but Summer will come again.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Do you ever have the feeling that you're spending your entire life trying to do something that's kind of pointless, like the feeling the inventors of the Segway must have had sometimes while they were up late at night futzing with gyroscopes and computerized motors?

I mean, the Segway is a really cool in theory, and I'm sure it took forEVER to invent, but in the end, what is it really good for? There's this guy in my town who has a Segway and you always see him riding it around with a bunch of plastic grocery bags hanging off the handlebars. He could probably walk to the grocery store from his house and it would be better for him. Same goes for all the security guards at the Atlanta airport; they ride Segways, but why pay $7,000 for your employee to ride around on a fool machine drinking mochas from Atlanta Bread Company? I guess they do make the security guards look taller. Also, I guess they're faster than running. But so are bicycles.

Anyway, I've written a haiku about it because haikus always make me feel loads better.

I have the feeling
akin to a gyroscope
in a cop's Segway

Do you ever feel like the inventor of the Segway? Will you write me a haiku about it? I will also accept Senryūs, Renkus (you're going to need to parter up for that, I'm afraid) and other Haikais.

Bless you.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Cough cough cough. Cough!

So sick. So tired. Let me give you a movie recommendation instead of thinking of something I could write about that could potentially be amusing.

Look in the newspaper and find out where Fantastic Mr. Fox is playing in your town. Find out when it is playing. Go see it. I saw it this weekend, and it was the greatest. The Greatest.

I am now going to whisper sweet nothings to my humidifier. Enjoy the movie!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pestilence and Family Planning

When, do you think, is it appropriate to give a particular illness a special name? For example, I wonder when the people at the CDC called a meeting in Board Room 4 and decided, "this pig flu has really started busting chops down there in Mexico, and it's got the Koreans breaking out their paint scraping face masks. What should we call it? We've got to come up with a name that TV news anchors can use, and then another one that scientists and highly educated white people can use. Think people, THINK!" Similarly, I can imagine the Cardinals sitting around in a chapel in Vatican City in 1347 saying things like "'The Bubonic/Pneumonic/ Septicemic Plague' isn't very catchy and doesn't sound very... tough. How about 'The Black Plague'? That does sound frightening, what?"

I wonder what they're going to name our family's illness once it goes pandemic? I'm voting for "The Odessa Crud," but frankly, they probably won't even give us credit for it. It's just like Them. They'll probably blame it on squirrels or stray cats. Because cute babies aren't vectors for pestilence and disease, are they? Think again, friends.

I would like to take a moment of your time for a quick public service announcement.

Dear Readers,
I firmly believe that The Children are our future, and that we must treat them well, and perhaps even let them lead the way sometimes. HOWEVER, with a capital "H." For those of you who are for the moment childless, if you have a baby one of these fine days, while I am sure it will be adorable and very gifted, it will get sick. It's just what babies do. All kinds of people are going to tell you your child won't get sick if you breast feed for the first year or slip probiotics into their mashed pears or give them all kinds of foul smelling liquid vitamins. These are all deplorable falsehoods and should be ignored. Your baby will get sick, and sometime during the first year, you will find yourself with the flu at 3:30 in the morning holding in your arms a baby who is bellowing as if you had just soaked her in kerosene and lit her on fire. Please discuss this scenario with your partner and plan accordingly.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I love my hair cutter. I have never, never, never gotten a bad haircut from her, and that's saying something because I have this devastating cowlick in the middle of my forehead that has defeated lesser women (I say women because I've only once had a male hairdresser--Chad--and pardon my language, but he totally made that cowlick his bitch.) I remember this one time I went in the beauty parlor next to my office building to get my bangs trimmed and no fewer than 3 women worked on my bangs in the course of a pretty traumatizing 2 hours, and I came out looking like Zack from Saved By the Bell. I very nearly had a Zack Attack.

So, Mindy, I am thankful for you, and I hope your boyfriend manages to find that Tofurkey you wanted. I am also thankful that Odessa is sleeping peacefully even though she has bronchiolitis in her wee, sweet little chest and sounds like she's breathing a milkshake through a straw. I'm also thankful I haven't burned anything yet this evening. And you know what, guys? I'm thankful for you, because you read my blog and give me something to do that doesn't have anything to do with my office or baby poo.

So, happy Thanksgiving, friends. Save travels, and remember, kids--don't talk politics with family.

Ps. Oh, and I'm thankful for my dear friend Catherine Meeks, whose birthday is today. Happy birthday, Puddin. Je t'aime tous les jours.

Monday, November 23, 2009


This year, I have arrived at a stage in my life wherein Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I've always been partial to my birthday because I discovered at age 3 that I could boss my mom around one day a year. But now my birthday seems a little pale because nobody makes much of a fuss when you tell them it's your birthday and you're turning 32. So, Thanksgiving it is.

You know why?

1. I get to eat a square meal that I myself did not prepare.

2. Being an insufferable lay-about for most of the afternoon is not only expected but encouraged on Thanksgiving. I believe it is well documented in this blog that I can lay about with the best off them.

3. I am anticipating others happily supervising my baby while I lay about.

4. I am truly thankful for a number of things, including but not limited to the fact that just today Swiss physicists succeeded in making two particles collide in the Large Hadron Collider without creating a black hole to destroy our solar system with. I'm also thankful for my kidneys and books on tape.

5. I like cooperation and teamwork. This holiday documents practically the only time Pilgrims and Indians ever cooperated.

And what a delicious cooperation it was.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I like cats, and yet I am not sympatico with cats, if you know what I mean. Cats and I give one another a friendly tip of the hat when we pass on the street, and certainly I would send a holiday card to Cats if I knew their address. But that is where Cats and I end. Their pee smells bad and they kill migrating warblers, which is not their fault, but distasteful nonetheless. There are two exceptions to my feelings of tepid and composed goodwill toward the felines of the world. They both live at my house.

I believe I've mentioned Zucchini before in this blog (on October 18, actually). She has an icy demon heart and instead of meowing like other cats, she has this brain freezing harpy howl that is JUST SO OFFENSIVE. I got Zucchini when I was 21 from some people who were smoking menthol cigarettes in the back of their Chevy pickup in the Walmart parking lot in Prescott, Arizona. She was the only kitten left in the litter they were giving away, and by the end of our transaction, they actually tried talking me out of taking her home because she was "ugly and her personality was bad." It turns out they were partly wrong: she turned out to be gorgeous and her personality is bad. Or at least she's what I believe is referred to as "mentally strange." So, a word to those of you who are young and soft-hearted: Zucchini and I have lived together over 10 years, and I suspect she will follow me to my grave. My point is, be careful who you talk to in the Walmart parking lot.

Robin is the other cat in my house, and he is my soul mate. I found Robin the week after a horrendous breakup--one of those where everyone you know (including the cleaning lady in your office building and your massage therapist) either won't speak to you or yells at you every time they see you because it turns out you're bad, bad, bad, bad, bad and also BAD. So, on Sunday of The Worst Week Ever, I was driving down Prince Avenue, when what I thought were 3 little squirrels started hopping out into the street into oncoming traffic. As I approached, I realized they were kittens, and I basically almost got myself and the kittens killed as I stopped abruptly in the middle of after-church rush hour to scoop them up before they were barreled over by a Cadillac Escalade. Anyway, as I didn't have anyone to talk to anyway, I just hung out with the kitties for 3 weeks. Finally, I found an older gent whose wife was in hospice to take two of them and I kept Robin because I just couldn't part with him. I would give that cat one of my kidneys if he needed it.

It's not that Robin's very nice or smart or thoughtful, and he'll kill just about anything in his weight class or below, plus he's greedy, unpredictably violent, demanding, overweight and I think it's probable he's been two-timing me since 2004. But that cat can snuggle. He's even started joining Odessa and me in our morning cuddletimes. Odessa and Robin spooning warms the cockles of my heart, at least until Zucchini starts yelling at us from the laundry room because she wants her senior hairball formula catfood NOW, HOSE HEADS! NOOOOOW!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

We Are Family

Lately Bryan and I have been going a special kind of Bananas.
To wit: I generally go to bed after Bryan's already asleep. And for the purposes of this story, I will divulge that I'm one of those people who gets in bed and then realizes she hasn't flossed her teeth, so she gets out of bed and then gets back in bed, only to decide she's thirsty 4 minutes later, etc, etc, etc. So, last night, I was performing my nightly routine and I had just settled in when I suddenly remembered I hadn't checked on Odessa since I put her in her crib four hours before, so I started to roll out of bed when Bryan jerks himself awake and all I can see are the whites of his eyes in the dark as he gasps, lunges, and tackles me, pinning me to the mattress.

"Honey, I'm just going to check on the baby," I say.

"Ooh," he slurs, nestling back into his pillow, "I thoughh--zzzzzzz...."

And it's not just Bryan--I've done the very same thing in the morning when he gets up to go get his coffee at 7 AM. We are both terrified that Odessa's going to roll out of bed, and so part of us is always on edge, waiting for the worst. But there's more.

Last night I dreamed Bryan and I had climbed up into the rafters of a very tall cathedral. Bryan is naturally athletic and coordinated, and likes to jump around on stuff. So we were at the top of this crazy tall cathedral and I'm all sweaty-palmed, holding on the the ladder we had just climbed up (heights make me want to barf), and Bryan is blithely hopping around on the rafters. And then he falls. But I manage to grab the back of his t-shirt, but then I start to fall too.... And then I wake up. That's a stress nightmare, folks.

AND THEN (I promise this is the last anecdote) today I found out I have to drive all the way to Savannah tomorrow (a 5 hour drive) when I thought I was just going to have to drive two hours to Augusta. So, that's over ten hours round trip. And naturally Bryan starts fretting about me driving all that way by myself, and about an hour ago I came home from the store, and he says,

"You can't drive to Savannah and back by yourself. We're coming with you."

And I secretly think "Oh Thank God." Because I was secretly worried about being so far away from them.

Now, for your information, this is just about the craziest idea ever. These days, Odessa is a lot like a solar powered robot zombie who lives in Death Valley, in that she will go and go and go forever in her search of braaaains, and doesn't appreciate being thwarted in her project. An example of the kind of Thwarting I'm talking about is the car seat. In fact, the car seat is the number one Thwarter, followed closely by the Pack 'n' Play and the Dreaded Crib. And now we're going to ask her to be strapped into a car seat for 10 hours. Thwart.

But you know what? It will be fine, because we'll be together--thus, we won't be worried about whether any of the others of us are safe and happy. Because we'll know the others of us are safe. And expressly unhappy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I might as well not have posted at all...

But Kerry and I are sitting on my couch playing Facebook Scrabble together, each on our own computer. At 10:46 PM. On Wednesday. And now you know.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Overalls and Garfunkel

Tonight Bryan's walking around the house in the overalls my mom got him at the dump. There is something special about Mom and Bryan's relationship which makes it possible for her to get him presents at the dump and him to be really excited about it.

Anyway, this show called "From the Top" was on the radio this evening ( I can't stand "From the Top" partly because gifted kids are sometimes irritating, and partly because I dislike it when there's music going on in the background interspersed with a bunch of high-pitched talking), and I kept asking Bryan to turn it off and he wouldn't. I wasn't really mad at him because it had been on before he got home and I hadn't turned it off myself because I've been really busy this evening eating a pomegranate and playing Facebook Scrabble in bed. So anyway, tonight on "From the Top," there was a children's choir singing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and in the middle of it, Bryan shuffled into the bedroom with his overalls from the Floyd County dump on and said, "You know, it's weird that these kids are singing this song," and I was all "Yeah, could you please turn it off?" Which he ignored and continued, "...it being about sex and all."

I stared at him.

"'Bridge Over Troubled Water' is certainly not about sex," I said.

"Um, yes it certainly is," he said, and he raised his eyebrows like he does when he's totally dead serious and also willing to argue with me about something.

One thing about Bryan is that he thinks every single song with slightly cryptic lyrics is about sex. I've argued with him about everything from "Let It Be" to "Visions of Johanna." He always thinks they're about sex and I always think, Ew, no they're not. It's our special argument.

So, now you know: "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is either about sex or it isn't. And that's the final word on the subject.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Questionaire

Oh, hi! I'm glad you're here because I have some questions for you. However, let me preface the questions with a little anecdote I just thought of.

I once participated in a week-long social experiment that was kind of like that Stanford prison experiment that studied the relationship between prisoner and guard, except it studied what happens to people who try run a political campaign without established leadership. Anyway, I learned a lot of things about human nature, like that people generally agree with the bully, especially if he or she is always wrong. Not sure why. What I learned about myself is that I ask a lot of questions.

During my week as a laboratory rat, I was in a group of 8 people who were supposed to be interacting, PLUS one "tracker," who was supposed to be taking meticulous notes on everything we did. At the end of the week, the tracker reported to us on our behavior. Our tracker said, "Jesslyn, at one point this week you asked 47 questions in a one-hour period." Seriously. That's like a question every 72 seconds. That barely gives someone time to answer before it's AGAIN WITH THE QUESTIONS. Always the questions.

So, anyway. I have some questions for you. Please answer them in the comments section. Make your answers as long or as short as you like. I'm really interested. I'll answer them too, because I would never ask you to perform any feats that I myself have not first proven possible.

1. What is one thing about your daily life that mystifies you?
Two things about my daily life puzzle me, and they both have to do with fingernails. First, Odessa's fingernails grow at the rate of about a quarter of a mile an hour. Literally. Well, not literally, but it feels like literally.
Secondly, my fingernails have been really dirty in the past couple of months. Why? I'm not doing anything differently than before other than eating a bunch of pomegranates, and while you do really have to get in there with a pomegranate, I'm not eating THAT many pomegranates. To look at my fingernails, you would think I've been working all day on a potato farm.

2. What is something that you really like that you suspect might not be very cool?
Where to start? I should ask Bryan because if I had a nickel for every time he rolled his eyes at the book I was reading or the show I was watching on Hulu, I'd have at least $10, and would go buy myself a scented candle or something. Here are three:
a. Ugly Betty, a terrible show which I watch for reasons unknown even to me.
b. A book series for preteen girls by Louise Rennison which includes such austere titles as Are These my Bassombas I See Before Me? and Startled by His Furry Shorts.
c. Bryan considers my singing Tiny Dancer to Odessa before bed as grounds for an investigation by Child Protective Services. Okay, so I easily tolerate Elton John, and even know all the words to Rocket Man. Plus, I dare you to put on an Indigo Girls album released before 1996 and see if I can't sing harmony to every single song. Because I can. Don't test me.

3. Who--living or dead--do you think has their priorities in order?
Even though Walt Whitman might have been a perverted old codger, "All faults may be forgiven of him who has perfect candor." I appreciate tact, but I appreciate honesty more.

4. What do you wish was different about your life?
I wish I was really neat and organized. And the ceilings in my house were higher. And that I was good at decorating my house. And that I had really great clothes. And that I could lose this extra 20 pounds that's been just hanging around since Odessa was born, borrowing my toothbrush and stealing gum out of my purse and giving me unsolicited financial advice.

5. What's the worst smell?
At risk of giving you too much info about my life, I'm just going to lay this one out there. It might not be the most disgusting smell (like cat pee ossified in your heating vent or dog diarrhea or drunk person puke), but I hate this smell the most at the moment because it's what I have to deal with on a regular basis.
So, I had Odessa, right? And I started lactating, right? And while I'm glad to be able to feed my child, etc., I have these two bras that I had before Odessa was born that are sort of foamy inside (notice I didn't say "padded," because they're so totally not) because, let's face it, I didn't blossom into womanhood until I started nursing, and I used to need a little help in the décolletage area. ANYWAY, they still basically fit me, and I wear them every so often, and yet, when I do wear them, I smell them all day long. They've obviously come in contact with some breast milk and that milk has gone sour, and the smell will not come out of these bras. These $70 bras that still totally do their job, only they smell like the business end of a dairy cow. Gross.

So, you may begin the quiz....NOW!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday 13th

I am a very delicate flower. My immune system is like one of those rare and pathetic orchids that need to be misted with a tepid vapor exactly every 13 and a half minutes or else it develops a sort of putrid fungus rot. My grandmother Virginia is the same way. If she's within a barge pole's reach of someone with a tickly throat, she'll have the walking pneumonia by Wednesday. One time when I was at summer camp, I got sick and Virginia had to pick me up. She brought a supply of coffee filters and made me sit in the back seat of her Cadillac and hold a double layer of filters over my nose and mouth the whole way home. I used to think she was being dramatic, but now I think I would probably have done the same thing in her place. Bryan thinks I'm turning into Virginia. Time will tell, but meanwhile, I've got my own problems.

I woke up this morning at 7:15 with Odessa clawing a hole through my bottom lip and sucking on the end of my nose. I had just begun the process of dislodging a piece of her wee fingernail from my gum, when I tried to swallow and it hurt. That's when I became certain I had Strep throat.

I have two recurring nightmares. One is that the one guy who ever broke up with me (back in 1997) is mocking me in front of a bunch of pedestrians on a street in Manhattan and they're all smirking, but I can't understand what he's saying because he's speaking German or perhaps Dutch. The other is that I have Strep throat. There's a special burniness that goes along with Strep that unsettles me in a deep and profound way. I think that's probably what it feels like to have leprosy.

Anyway, in case you're interested, I don't have Strep throat. I just went back to sleep and felt fine when I woke up again. But what I'm afraid of in my sleep is basically what I'm afraid of when I'm awake: 1. Being made fun of my people who are smarter and thinner than me, and 2. Being sick.

At least I'm not afraid of vampires anymore. That would be tough these days--like being afraid of cell phones.

Happy Friday 13th!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Relapse

I don't know happened. The Plague was gone--this morning the birds were singing in the trees when I left the house. Now my throat's all scratchy again and all I want to do it lie in bed and eat pudding.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mad Lib

Ma: What are you doing, Jess? Writing your blog?
Jessly: Yes, Ma--would you like to be in my blog?
Ma: I guess so. How would I do that?
Jesslyn: Let's do a Mad Lib.
Ma: what's a Mad Lib?
Ma: Interesting. Let's write a Mad Lib about cutting down your tree.

(Aside: My mother and father are tree murderers. Savages, both of them; I think it might be what brought them together. You start talking about a tree that looks vaguely under the weather or might be dropping its leaves a bit early this year or is perhaps growing a bit close to the house, and they get this little barbaric glint in their eyes, and they start walking around mumbling about gasoline and greasing chains. Mom and Dad both have their eye on the dead--that's right, Bryan, dead--Box Elder in our front yard. Hence, Ma's suggestion.)

So, Ma and I have written a Mad Lib, and here it is. I am writing the story, Ma is providing key details:

Once upon a time there was a JINGLY man named HORACE. This man owned a SOUL-WRENCHING chainsaw, whom he loved like a HELICOPTER. He called his chainsaw PRICILLA. Every day he would take Pricilla to the WEE Forest and all day they would happily chop down BALD CYPRESSES. One SHROVE TUESDAY, Horace and Pricilla were at work in the Wee Forest when a GARGANTUAN cypress fell on Horace's COLLAR BONE.
"Pricilla!" he said, "Go to town and fetch me an ASSISTANT LIBRARIAN! Tell her to bring me some COBWEBS and OLD CANDY WRAPPERS! Pronto, Pricilla, or I may not survive until ASH WEDNESDAY!"
Pricilla was a BALEFUL chainsaw, but also very resourceful, and so she ran herself all the way to PAW PAW, WEST VIRGINIA, where she tore straight up the front steps of the Public Library, and through the great oak front door, and demanded to see an assistant librarian. A HAUGHTY woman named GRIZELDA stepped forward and said,
"I am the assistant librarian here at Paw Paw Public Library. How can I assist you?"
Pricilla said, "OH FUDGE! Horace is hurt! I need some cobwebs and old candy wrappers and I need you to come with me to the Wee Forest to help him!"
So, Grizelda went to all the trashcans and corners in the library and collected as many candy wrappers and cobwebs as she could find, and she and Pricilla got in the library's CHARCOAL STUDEBAKER (Grizelda made sure that Pricilla sat on an old sheet so she wouldn't get grease all over her beautiful CHARTREUSE upholstery), and they made off down the road, following the trench that Pricilla had dug on her way into town.
When they got to Horace, he was very weak. "SHIVER ME TIMBERS, girls, I thought you would never get here! Where are those old candy wrappers and cobwebs?"
Grizelda presented them, and Horace smiled. "Good work! Now, would you mind fashioning these into stretcher on which you will carry me back to town? There's a good girl.
Grizelda felt QUEAZY. "You LILY-LIVERED old man! Your FEATHER-BRAINED chainsaw! You destroyed the front steps of the library--not to mention the front doors--of the library for this?!"
And with that, she turned on her heel and marched back to the Studebaker. She called an ambulance when she got back to the library, and charged the call to Mr. Horace DEE-WAYNE SCHWARTZ of STRUGGLETOWN RD. It cost $11.73.
Horace is fine now, though he has lost some of the range of motion in his right shoulder, which is something of a disappointment to Pricilla.

So, there's Ma and my Mad Lib. We are a truly gifted family, I know.

Monday, November 9, 2009


What have I been doing all this long evening, you ask?

Well, you might not know this about me, but I have a bustling side business as a Conversationalist. I'm no good at a lot of things--in fact, I'm no good at most things. I'm slothful, self-centered, inconsistent, bossy, and not only am I disorganized, I'm messy like it's my special superpower. And on top of that, a Facebook quiz called "Which The Princess Bride Character Are You??" just told me I'm weak and ineffectual. However, I have an almost limitless capacity for conversation. I have some friends with whom I have to create itemized agendas before our conversations, because we could literally converse until one of us died.

You want to break up with your boyfriend? I want the long story. Considering going to law school? Let me tell you about every single person I've ever known who has gone through law school. You want to buy a car or take a sledge hammer to the dividing wall between your kitchen and living room? I'm with you; lay the details on me. I think my parents--both of whom can be somewhat taciturn in their own ways--are slightly mystified by my talkativeness. But I was born that way, so who am I to resist Nature's call?

Anyway, one of the benefits to being a talker is that people call me up to tell me their best stories because they know that talking is my business, and sometimes you've got to tell it to a professional. So, this evening a friend called me to tell me a story that puts the (silent) "OhmygodWHAT?!?" in the word Crazy. This story has been loosely transcribed with permission of the teller.

Imagine your brother. (If you don't have a brother, imagine you have a brother, and then imagine what he looks like and how stupid he is and all that.) Imagine that today you found out that your brother has been involved in a 3-way relationship with his wife and his son's 21-year-old babysitter for two years. Now, imagine your brother recently discovered some secret and unfathomable credit card debt perpetrated by his wife and then there's an argument, after which your brother storms off to stay at your mom's house and then has to go pick up his wife at a strip club, as the mutual girlfriend has called because she's upset that your brother's wife is making out with a guy named Steve. There are no words--and actually, there are no modifiers--to explain the situation and how complicated and weird it is to my friend, who heretofore believed her brother's family to be completely average and possibly even a bit dull. Can you imagine? I can't even imagine.

So, that, dear friends, is what I was doing instead of writing this blog post for so many hours. Well, that and going home from work early to take a THREE HOUR NAP! That's right, Cold That's Been Ruining My Family's Life Since Thursday! THREE! And now I might just go to bed! Sha-splam!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Plague

So, The Plague has stopped by for a nice visit this weekend.

"Really great to see you, The Plague! What's it been--A couple months? Oh, your friend you thought you were going to stay with ended up going out of town this weekend, and you need a place to crash? Well, we've got a lot going---what's that? Your grandmother died last week and you're in town for the memorial service, and you need a place to stay just for one night? And you promise to bring your own sheets? Well, I guess if it--
you're welcome."

It all started with Odessa: sweet, guileless, smiling little flower of my heart. She woke up Thursday morning with the sniffles and by Friday night, she was practically drowning in snot. Nursing her was like watching a freshman Math major do a keg stand at a frat party he wasn't invited to. And do you guys know about The Aspirator? (See unlabeled Exhibit A above, which will remain unlabeled because I can't figure out how to label it.) You were definitely aspirated when you were a baby and you hated the sweet cream filling out of it, because just the thought of someone aspirating me makes me want to squeeze my eyes closed and pinch my nostrils shut and shake my head back and forth really hard. Don't get me wrong, Odessa looooooves the aspirator as a bath toy, but not as an implement of torture. To aspirate a baby, you prod this rubber bulb thing up her teeny little nostril and suction out all the toxic mucus and potentially her still soft and coalesing brains.

So, Odessa got it first and gave it to her stay-at-home martyr Daddy, who fell like a ton of bricks on Friday evening, but nevertheless went down to the coast to ride around the marsh in a power boat in search of rare orchids while snuffling around with his man cold. Our dear friend Ben was with him and now believes himself to have the pleurisy. Honestly, dudes. Are you men, or are you mice?

And I was the last of my people still standing until tonight. My eyes are all itchy and I can't swallow right. I'm not terribly surprised since Odessa did manage to lick the inside of my mouth about 7 times this weekend. I wish Zicam wasn't recalled by the FDA, because I'd be hitting that nasal swab so hard right now. Don't get me started on Zicam.

Stay healthy, friends!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I eat too many beans, you guys. Some of you know this about me. In fact one of you--you know who you are--came to visit me once and brought a case of beef jerky because, I found out later, you were afraid that another weeklong visit to my house would permanently damage your small intestine.

I woke up one morning when I was 13 and decided that since I was practically a full-grown woman, I could make my own dietary decisions. So I stopped eating meat, cold turkey, on Thanksgiving. (See what I did there? zing!) Virginia was furious, which made it all worth it.

Since then, beans have been the reason I'm alive: they are my coworkers, colleagues, family and friends. This morning I woke up and went to work and microwaved an Amy's bean burrito. I eat one of these pretty much every morning. Why? Because I detest breakfast food and I love beans. So, for lunch, I went to Barberitos and got black bean nachos with cucumbers. For dinner, I had chickpea Indian stew. Right now I feel a rumbling twang low in my guts. Earlier today I thought it might have been my ovary because, you know, ovaries have feelings too. But no--it's my colon I think. And I think it's because of the beans.

So, because you're such good haiku writers (seriously, you guys? This morning I snorted a loose tea leaf up my nose because I was laughing so hard) I will write you a haiku about beans. Here it goes:

Beans are black or brown
And they make the world go round
My intestines hurt

Also, do you think I could give a quick shout out? Okay, I will.

My friend Claire has a wonderful band that I love. It's called Hope For Agoldensummer. Anyway, they have a new live album that just came out today. They do a really great cover of "The Only Living Boy in New York," which is one of my favorite songs. You can listen to it here: http://www.hopeforagoldensummer.com/hours.html

Wish my digestion luck. Maybe I should try some toast or something tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Haiku patrol

I'm sick of ya'll not writing me poems. So today, there's going to be a quiz. Consider it payment for the HOURS of entertainment I provide. Hours, I'm sure.

Anyway, in yoga today during Savasana, I wrote a couple haikus. (Aside: okay, I realize sometimes things get out of hand. A friend of mine recently suggested that if only I liked white wine, he would feel creeped out by how completely unsubversive my tastes are. I don't really know how that happened, considering my heritage. But yes, I love me some yoga, so sit on it.)

As I was saying, my first haiku went like this:

Yoga is not hard
But actually it is
I like stuff like that

Really good, huh? Well, then I wrote a second haiku because the first one didn't have anything to do with a season, and I seemed to remember that in a haiku, you always have to talk about cherry blossoms, fiery maple leaves and the like. So, the next one went:

In the spring last year
I stood on my head, no prob
Then I got pregnant

You might have realized that these actually aren't very good haikus, but you might also have realized some other stuff about me over the course of these 25 blog posts--like that 8 months after giving birth, I am still complaining about pregnancy, or that I'm bad to go off on a tangent, or that I like to give shout-outs to my friends, Dolly Parton style (holla!).

So friends, here's your job: you gotta write me a haiku in the comments. I am so totally serious. 3 lines, 17 syllables. 5-7-5.

Get to it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Deutsche

Bryan is obsessed by Germans. He loves it when they play synthesizer music and dress up in skinny suits and dance funny. He loves that in the German language, a fork is feminine and a spoon is masculine, while a knife is neuter. He loves the way there is a certain shade of pink nylon that, when applied to a backpack, can only be of German manufacture. He loves how, when someone's speaking German, their mouth moves nearly twice as much as an English- speaking mouth does. I also suspect he loves that Angela Merkel totally rocks the decolletage and is all, "What are YOU looking at Nicolas Sarkozy? What's Carla Bruni wearing these days? A 32A? A 34B?"

So, tonight we watched a documentary about Krautrock, which is interesting like listening to a description of how a Geiger counter works is interesting. However, it got me thinking about Germany, because I realize I really feel for the Germans. This may be, in part, because I'm a Southerner, and when I go other places and tell people where I'm from, sometimes people ask me things like "So, what was that Civil War thing all about? Do you guys seriously hate black people or what?" This always makes me feel like I did when the college advisor in high school always got me mixed up with the really mean, bedraggled looking girl on the swim team. And sure, we looked a little alike, but my hair wasn't green and I knew how to string an English sentence together without using a foul expletive. And yet, every time I walked into that lady's office she gave me a meaningful nod and rifled thorough her filing cabinet and got out that other girl's file, and I'd have to correct her and she would giggle and roll her eyes and say, "Really, you could be sisters."

So, anyway, I started feeling sorry for the Germans tonight because this Civil War thing obviously happens to them all the time, but compounded by about a grillion. Strangely enough, the Nazis still touch a nerve with just about every single person in the whole entire world. In that documentary we were watching, there was an interview with this musician who was in an early Krautrock band, talking about being a "Hitler Youth," as in, he had been a child during WWII and had to goose step in the streets with all the rest of the Aryan kids. He didn't have much of a choice, much as I was not consulted about the Civil War. However, even though Oregonians sometimes ask me why "we" southerners hate black people so much, the fact remains I have the cushion of 3-4 generations to fall back on. All that Nazi business was going down within both my parents' lifetimes. Not only is that not much of a generational cushion, it's a pretty hard floor. I'm sorry, German people.

In conclusion, that's my issues essay for the week.

Auf wiedersehen!

Monday, November 2, 2009


I generally like November. About half the people I know were born in November, plus Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. November is everything January could be, but isn't.

But day two of this auspicious month was rife with malfunctions.

I woke up this morning and went to work an hour later than usual BECAUSE STUPID DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME FINALLY ENDED!!!!! (Don't get me started. However, I will say this: if God had meant for the time to change twice a year, He would have put instructions in the Bible.) So, I moseyed into work at 8:30, which was really easy because it felt like 9:30. As usual, I turned on my computer, and--as has been happening for the past week and a half--about 15 ERROR messages appeared, each with a metallic kind of thunking sound.

Here's something you probably don't know about me: I would make a terrible special agent. I have reflexes like an elderly koala bear who has been prescribed medical marijuana for it's cancer symptoms. When something goes wrong, I usually wait a couple of weeks to see if it goes away. And when it doesn't go away, I begin to complain half-heartedly, asking people's opinions but not listening to their suggestions. Then I call Bryan in and he takes care of it. But in this case I couldn't even be bothered to do that until it bacame impossible to bear closing 68 ERROR windows over the course of the day. So, this morning I closed about 2 dozen little windows and thought to myself, "This is really dull and annoying. Plus, I think it's worse than last week." So, I called Bryan and he came over and and fixed it. Apparently, all those error messages were the product about about 12 different "infections," which I take to mean "viruses." On the bright side, I'll never be recruited and brainwashed for one of those secret government programs like in The Bourne Identity.

So, after wrestling my computer to the ground, handcuffing its little computer arms behind its back and marching it off to computer court to be tried before a jury of its peers, I came home. Now, today is my dear friend David Mack's birthday. These are some reasons I love David Mack:
1. He is just so sweet.
2. He loves babies and can get them to stop crying even when they're 2 months old and making sounds like a goat on fire.
3. He doesn't look creepy with a mustache.
4. He doesn't skimp when it comes to cheeses.
Oh, and step off ladies--he's taken. Nevertheless, I love David Mack, so I thought I'd make him some napkins for his birthday. So, I got out the old sewing machine and began to sew.

Now, for those of you who have never sewn anything on a machine, let me give you a quick primer in the operation of one of these technological marvels. A sewing machine is very much like an automobile in that it it has a gas pedal. When you press the gas pedal with your foot, it goes; when you release the gas pedal with your foot, it stops.

Well, imagine my surprise this afternoon when I began to create David Mack's napkins, and everything was coming along nicely until I tried to take my foot off the gas, but the sewing machine wasn't having it. It just kept right on sewing. It was like a wild horse galloping uncontrolled across a prairie with me on its back. Anyway, I sewed 4 napkins by holding the fabric steady, and when I came to the end of the line, I would either try to whip around the corner really fast or have to turn the whole machine off and then turn it back on when I had the fabric ready again.

All the while, Odessa has learned to crawl and was chugging along like a little zombie robot with a system malfunction towards Ruby, who is a 90 lb dog and unquestionably terrified of this new development.

Hello, November!

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Everyone's got their own Halloween costume style. For instance, Bryan always uses a whole roll of aluminum foil in his costume. Hank and Katherine's costumes are generally awesome because they rent them. Genevieve is the sexy version of the thing she's dressed up as. Jane is the cute version of the thing she's dressed up as. Catherine Meeks is usually the Morton Salt girl. I'm usually myself but with some cotton batting on my head (I'm a cloud) or dressed up as an overweight man in khakis (I'm a Promise Keeper).

Halloween has always sort of disappointed me. I think it started in 1986, when I began thinking about my Halloween costume in July, after watching The Neverending Story at summer camp. You know what the scariest thing about the Neverending Story is? No, not the wolf with too many teeth, or the Nothing, or the Swamps of Sadness. The scariest thing in the whole movie is the Childlike Empress:

Isn't she terrifying? She's even scarier in live action:

You okay? Take as long as you need.

Anyway, that year, I decided I was going to be the Childlike Empress for Halloween because she was the very scariest thing I could think of. So, I started trying to get my dad to help me put together my costume, but he didn't take it very seriously. He kept saying "So, let me get this straight--you want to be a ghost?" NO! I want to be a creepy child queen with a pearl diadem and a lot of eye makeup and frosted lip glooooooooooss!

My dad talked to my mom, who was living across the country at the time. I don't know what they talked about, but she sent me a card about a week before Halloween that had a blue Care Bear on the front, and inside she had drawn a picture of a "fashionable ghost" with flowery parachute pants and lots of jewelry and makeup on. I saw that picture, and I knew all was lost. I went to school on Halloween with a sheet over my head with 2 holes cut out for eyes. That's what you get when you're a 3rd grade girl living with your dad.

So, ever since that Halloween, I have known that your Halloween costume simply can't be what you imagine it. And what's the point of wearing a costume if it can't be awesome in the way you think it should be?

But in case you were interested, Odessa is going to be Bob's Big Boy.

I swear I'll try to understand and facilitate her exact Halloween Vision when she tries to explain it to me when she's 8. But until then: hahahahahahaahah! HA!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My poor father

Today I went to Calloway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. I haven't been there since I went with my dad in April of 1991, which I remember because it was there that I got my first period. Sorry to any dudes who are reading this, but them's the facts. You can't be any more mortified reading this than my dad was trying to help me figure out what sort of provisions I was going to need for my long journey into womanhood. At first he enlisted the help of a woman he knew who was selling cornhusk dolls at the festival we were attending (because that's normally the reason you go to Calloway Gardens--that place is Festival Central), but right before she was about to take me to the pharmacy, her son got a concussion because he jumped off his bicycle as he was riding down a hill or some crap that only a boy would do. So she took him to the hospital and my dad took me to the Big Star, where he bought me one of every single feminine product they had, including a tiny bottle of KY Jelly. I remember this because, back in the hotel room, after carefully reading all the instructions in the packages of assorted tampons, sanitary napkins, liners and incontinence diapers for the aged and infirm, I sat there for a long time looking at the little bottle of lubricant like it was the left over piece in the Ikea cabinet I had just assembled.

The poor man also took me to JC Penny's to buy my first miniscule little bra after the first day of 6th grade, but I'll spare you that harrowing tale. I think I've blocked most of it out anyway.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ants and Grasshoppers

I value diplomacy in a person. My husband is very diplomatic, but also honest. This is a difficult balance to strike, because sometimes there really isn't anything nice to say, so he has to say the nicest thing possible. For instance, when he called me Old Thunder Sides while I was pregnant, I knew that comparing me to a WWII battleship was the kindest epithet I could expect because it came from Bryan, who loves me but whose instinct is to call'em like he sees'em. Needless to say, I have a thicker skin now than I did before we met.

"You have something of the Grasshopper about you," he says today when I ask him if he would be able to tell that my parents were divorced if he had just met me. (To Bryan, there are Grasshoppers and there are Ants. Ants are industrious and square. Grasshoppers are lazy freeloaders who can play the fiddle.)

"What does that have to do with my parents being divorced?" I ask, looking at him in a way that makes him nervous because I am prone to violent attacks.

"Grasshoppers don't expect consistency."

I name somebody.

Bryan: "He's a Grasshopper who is overcompensating by trying very hard to be an ant."

I look at him: "Honey, what kind of animal do you think I'd be if I was an animal?"

He makes a face. "You mean right now? A barnacle? I mean a beautiful coral?"

I grab an hunk of skin from around his ribs and he shrieks, "I mean a beautiful fairy who hangs around a coral reef!" I let go.

A couple of seconds go by, and then he says, very matter of fact: "Now that I've buttered you up, I'm going to be needing some dollars. For my coffee tomorrow morning."

"Who's the Grasshopper now? You're not even the product of a broken home!"

"You're right, my darling," he says. "Absolutely right."

He really is a treasure.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Linens n' Things

I went to Ikea (or as my Swedish relatives have it, "ee-KAY-ah") this weekend and bought a duvet cover. Previously, I have made duvet covers with my sewing machine and the sweat of my brow, but no more. Fifteen bucks, ladies and gentleman, and a mid-quality duvet cover of European styling can be yours, courtesy of Scandinavian ingenuity and some rather clever trade agreements with the Chinese.

So, now I'm lying in bed with the computer, writing this blog post with my new duvet cover, and it's heavenly. Below, you will see that I have created a diagram of my Universe in the style of the Medieval astronomers:

Well, maybe not exactly in the style of the Medieval astronomers (their maps didn't generally look so much like a compact disk), but you see what I mean. I have always said that the bed is the center of the Universe, and it's a pity I can't spend more time with it.

And it seems as though making this diagram has drained all the juice out of my computer. Well, drawing the diagram and playing my turn in approximately twelve games of Facebook Scrabble. And nothing is sweeter and less energy efficient than playing Facebook Scrabble in the comfort of my comfy bed.

4% battery left! It's pinging at me! Gotta go!