Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Does how we say good-bye make us better pet owners?

So yah, the fricken turkey gift basket.

Because of budget cuts, there almost wasn’t one for the marketing committee to give away. But after much debate, the Marketing Head decided to make a cut in another area: office supplies.


This year, the turkey toss-up was between a male employee, Steve, and female employee, Kathy, who have dedicated their lives to saving cats. Not as a cat-saving duo but in their own respective corners of southeastern Connecticut. The committee didn’t spend much time vacillating between the two. Steve, a middle-aged man who lost both his father and his wife in the last two months, was the clear winner.

What we did spend time on was the wording of the congratulatory card. Let’s listen in:

Co-worker #1: “We should keep it simple. Like, wishing you a happy holiday.”

Co-worker #2: “No, no. We should say, we hope you have a happy holiday.”

Co-worker #3: “Is that even possible? The man is grieving.”

Co-worker #2: “Fine. In this time of loss, we still hope you have a nice holiday.”

Marketing Head: “Closer, but no.”

Co-worker #2: “Take time this holiday to reflect on happier times?”

Co-worker #3: “Now is the time to think about happier times?”

Marketing Head: “Let’s not talk him off the ledge, people.”

Co-worker #3: “I heard he has 17 cats in his house. Are we sure he’ll even cook the turkey?”

Co-worker #2: “Take pause to reflect?”

Co-worker #1: “I heard it was only 11. How about, enjoy your turkey?”

Co-worker #2: “Wishing you the best?”

Co-worker #1: “From us to you, with warm holiday wishes?”

Marketing Head: “People. The man is now alone with his cats. A card might not be enough. What we need is someone to say something in the spirit of warmth. What we need is a personal touch. Co-worker #1 and Mrs. Mullet, you will give him the basket and say something warm from the committee."

Co-worker #2: “What about the card?”

Marketing Head: “No card. We mailed him two condolence cards. That’s enough postage.”

Co-worker #3: “But the card is in the gift basket.”

Marketing Head: “That’s besides the point. The man has gotten enough cards from us.”

So it was. Last Tuesday, after I ate my 5,987,678 salad, my co-worker and I wheeled the gift basket on a mail trolley down to Steve’s office.

Not only did he not want our "charity", he didn’t want to hear our warm wishes. Steve told us flat out that he joined a support group for grieving spouses, and that no one had any business feeling sorry for themselves, including him.

He told us that he buried his wife—he didn’t divorce her—and that after 18 years of marriage, he and his wife should be considered a success story. Tears were unnecessary. People should be happy for him.

Then he tried to tell us a story about his favorite cat, Fang.

Co-worker #1: “So you don’t want the gift basket?”


As we wheeled the gift basket back to the boardroom, I had a Carrie Bradshaw moment. Did Steve have a point? Is seeing your spouse in a casket preferable to seeing him/her in the court room? If something happened to Chuck, would I take solace in the fact that we’d been separated by the universe, not by marital discord?

My initial thought was no, feeling like a marital success doesn’t ease the pain of losing someone you love. Still, I kind of admire Steve's outlook. After spending almost 20 years with someone, seeing your time together as an achievement, and not something lost, is kind of sweet.

Unless he was sick as all hell with her. That also could explain the ease of his acceptance.

What do you think?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

You want staging? I'll show you ^%$&ing staging

We had a very nice Thanksgiving. I only had to make out with, like, 25 people to crumb together half a cookie. It was worth it, except that one of those people had a cold and I've been sniffling and hacking for the last three days.

The perils of sucking face for sweets.

My cold put a big damper on our weekend plan, which was to make some progress on Operation Move. Remember how I mentioned in August that we were moving to Mulletville Lite?

We haven't gotten very far. For one, we haven't sold our house. My darling brother Ted, who stopped by yesterday, wondered aloud if it might have something to do with the fact that our dining room looks like this

"You've heard of staging, right?" he asked. "You have to stage your home."

Staging? Have I effin' heard of staging? This, coming from a 28-year-old bachelor who still sleeps until 3 p.m. Who has no idea how few able-bodied hours there are in the day when you work full-time, raise a toddler and get winded opening the mailbox.

Even if I had spent precious time staging, the house we're moving into-my father's old house, aka my childhood home-has been fraught with problems. Because of black mold, Chuck had to demolish the basement and air scrub it.

And my wannabe Bob Vila father keeps taking a sledgehammer to anything that looks even slightly off kilter. No sooner do we think a room is ready than we get a call along the lines of, "I saw an air bubble in the paint so I got the axe and tore down the wall for you."

It's madness; we need to abscond his keys.

Diddlydoo's Mulletville Lite bedroom looks like this

The dining room looks like this

But don't worry! Staging will save us.

I swear, siblings can be such peckerheads. You're helplessly staring up at the friggen summit and all you can do is waddle around base camp, cramming almonds and reduced fat cheese sticks into your mouth, and they get all HGTV on your ass.

Anyway, after some discussion this morning, Chuck and I decided that Operation Move will now be called Operation Move Later. Diddlydoo will be born in Mulletville. We'll move in January. With a newborn. In the middle of winter. On limited sleep.

That's when I officially change the name of this blog to "Vodka in my Vodka."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My kiss may have an ulterior motive, but I still love you. Honest

Chuck, my husband and blog manager, just informed me that my last few posts have been very angry and that I need to lighten things up.

Chuck, honey, I have some questions for you. Have you been living on these?

Do you forage for twigs and nuts every morning because you have been diagnosed with fucktational diabetes? Do you have nightmares you're going to give birth to a hard-boiled egg with peanut arms because everything you've eaten in the last few weeks has 4 billion grams of protein?

No. You come home and shovel leftover Beef Lo Mein down your hatch then wash it down with a Dairy Queen Oreo Blizzard and some Gatorade. I daydream about licking your empty cartons. I fondle them. I've named them.

Oh, whoops, lighten up. Lighten it way up, Mrs. Mullet. Deep breath.

Ok, here goes.

I want to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving, especially the wonderful people I've come to know through blogging. I love all of you. I wish you a peaceful and memorable holiday. It warms the cockles of my heart to envision you gathered near the hearth with your darling families. It makes me so very happy to picture you casually popping stuffing and buttered rolls and pumpkin pie and cookies and party wieners and sweet potato pie into your satisfied, carbohydrate-laden little bellies.

So happy I could scream. (And possibly kiss all of your faces if only to allow a few errant cookie crumbs to drop into my own mouth...)

Eat a lot for me, ok? And if you happen to have a chronic seasonal masturbator in your family too, say an Amen for my dear Aunt Burty. She's up there hammering away, I'm sure.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is for you to have a soul again

I know I’m supposed to tell you whom the Mulletville Corp Thanksgiving Gift Basket Committee picked as its turkey recipient, but if I don’t write about what happened Friday night I am going to explode.

Chuck, Junior and I went to the West Farms Mall. I knew Santa had already arrived at the mall—he comes after Easter now, right?—I just didn't realize he had changed so much.

Did you know he up and moved to Narnia?

Hell ya. He's now shacking up with the Ice Queen. In his new digs, he has a magical throne that makes your butt cold when you sit on it (that was the helper’s enticement to try it out, not mine). Snow globes through which you can walk. Televisions that blare scenes from the new Chronicles of Narnia movie, Voyage of the Something Something.

Gone were the little wooden trinkets and jingling bells of years past. This Santa was 100% Disney-fied. Bigger. Brighter. Balls-to-the-wall action.

Of course Junior wanted to meet him. Of course. What pre-schooler doesn’t want to say hi to the man in red and inquire about his reindeer?

We made our way through Narnia and found Santa, who invited Junior onto his lap.

"Have you been a good boy? Do you know I like cookies? Wasn’t that last scene from the Chronicles of Narnia riveting?"

Yes, yes, yes, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp and Walden Media. I mean, Santa.

“Let’s go, Junior,” I said sweetly.

And then, from Santa, came this: “Do you like LEGOs or Hot Wheels, little boy?”

I didn’t know Junior knew race cars by a particular brand name, but he surprised me by saying “Hot Wheels.”

“Well. Then you’ll love the Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash Speed Set! Make sure you ask for it!”

I grabbed Chuck’s arm. “Did Santa just name drop a specific product? Did he just tell our son to request a mother fucking criss cross speed set? Did he?”

“Yes,” Chuck said. “Santa just target marketed to our son.”

Junior climbed down. We walked away.

I felt dirty.

For the next few hours I couldn’t help but shake my head. The Narnia vomit was bad enough, but to have Santa ask pointed questions about Junior's toy preference and to then have him recommend a specific product was, well, disgusting. It confirms every feeling I have about what the Christmas holiday has become: over-commercialized, mechanical and soulless.

I kept thinking, Santa’s a sell-out. Nothing is sacred anymore. Nothing.

Over the weekend I contemplated calling the mall to ask how much Santa gets paid for his product pitching. I also wanted to know the name of the marketing company that dreamed up this let’s-get-Santa-to-market-specific-toys campaign. Not only because it is evil, but because they didn’t even execute the campaign correctly.

A helper should have been listening to the kids’ responses and should have immediately handed the kids custom coupons for the products for which they’d shown a preference. Then the company would have known how many of Santa’s pitches converted to actual sales.

If you’re going to sully the lap of the Big Red Man you should at least be able to track your fucking sales leads.

But maybe they were just dabbling this year, trying out the idea. Maybe next year Santa will be on the Pirates of the Caribbean ship, pitching Bratz dolls, and that’s when we’ll finally sink those last few inches to the murkiest of murky bottoms.

Then what?

P.S. I thought about writing a Letter to the Editor to share my experience but realized the nearest newspaper, The Hartford Courant, probably wouldn't run it, seeing how they sponsored the Ice Palace. Those pesky conflicts of interest!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why my shoes are on the wrong feet and I’m lying face down on the front lawn, smattered pieces of brain in my hands

Prenatal vitamin: Take one hour before or two-three hours after meals

Blood glucose test: Take four times a day, two hours after beginning meal

Junior’s pre-op ear tube surgery instructions: Nothing to eat after midnight

Arrival of beeping garbage truck: 4:32 a.m.

Junior’s ear tube surgery arrival time: 8:00 a.m.

Major project at work: Teleconference in at 11 a.m.

OB-GYN ultrasound appointment to follow up on gestational diabetes diagnosis: 12:40 p.m.

Follow-up appointment at Mulletville Diabetes Clinic: 1:30 p.m.

Phone calls to family members/friends/post-op doctors to say “Junior is just fine”: 7

Average length of phone calls despite intentions to keep short by only saying “Mmhmm”: 12 minutes

Work files due at printer: 3:30 p.m.

Arrival time of yet another person who wants to look at my house but won’t make an offer because the street is too busy: 4:45 p.m.

Actual time work files were sent to printer: 6:15 p.m.

Number of fat cats crying to be fed: 2

Average weight of dirty dishes in sink: 7.2 lbs.

Ear drops for Junior: Three times a day in each ear for five days

Number of times attempted self-performed lobotomy: Not enough

Monday, November 15, 2010

I used to walk to school uphill both ways, and I loved it

I know I'm sinking into that eight-months-pregnant-and-perpetually-grumpy slouch, but every time this commercial for the 2011 Toyota Highlander runs, I find myself yelling obscenities at the television.

According to the moppy-haired brat, he "doesn't tolerate dorkiness very well." He disapproves of his family's car choice (there's poor Dad, washing the Dodge caravan in his white socks and sandals). The boy concludes by saying, "Just because you're a parent doesn't mean you have to be lame."

I hate this kid. I hate every bratty, spoiled, entitled thing about him. At a time when families are losing their homes, unable to pay medical bills, and worrying how they're going to put food on the table, I—as a parent—am supposed to give a shit that my kid doesn't think our family car is cool enough?

When I was a kid, my family's VW wagon had holes in the floorboards. During the winter months my father would wrap his legs in a blanket and hop to get into the car. My mother would hand him a cup of coffee for his drive to work. I remember thinking he looked like a worm, not that he was uncool.

Maybe that snot would worry less about being cool if he spent a week in Haiti, where cholera is claiming lives because people are bathing in and drinking water from street canals. Or maybe he'd like a free trip to Mulletville, where Chuck recently encountered a grown man crying at a Walmart register. The man finally had enough to buy his son a birthday present. The kid's birthday was back in April. The present was a box of LEGOs.

Times are tough. Family and friends are what matter—not that your damn minivan has streaming audio capabilities. That kid should be grateful he has food on his plate. And that he can see. What is he, a fucking sheepdog?

Ok, I'm done. For now.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Weiners that plump when you cook them should be a welcome addition to any salad bar

To say that the pickings from the sexual salad bar at Mulletville Corp are withered and oddly shaped is a gross understatement. There are 50 women to every man; the ten men who work here? I’d rather switch teams than nuzzle their noodles.

Yet no matter what my female co-workers and I begin talking about at lunch, the conversation always wanders back to “Would you rather boink Mr. X or Mr. Y?”—even though the answer every time is an emphatic “neither.” Even though we circle around the same 10 men over and over like some horrible and twisted version of Groundhog Day.

We talk about Cadaver Hands. I can’t imagine anything less appealing than watching a dry, purple hand wander up my inner thigh.

Sir-Hump-a-Lot (no relation to Nurse-Lump-a-Lot). Granted, he knows his way around the bedroom, but someone who misses work to have a threesome is probably going to be poking you at 3 a.m., 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., pestering you for sex. Sleep is too precious a commodity.

Jim from purchasing. If you have tactical maneuvers to thwart someone’s "lazy eye" glances, you vomit a little when your co-workers ask, “But if you and he were the last people on Earth, would you?”

Mr. Doll. Enough said.

Mr. Handsome. His teeth sparkle as he walks down the hallway. His blond hair is perfectly coiffed. He successfully wears shades of purple. He doesn’t have visible pores. He seems perfectly doable...until you get a little closer and realize there’s something askew about him. His pants aren’t quite long enough. His shoes have rubber soles. He doesn’t appear to sweat. If you let yourself imagine an encounter with him you envision him stopping mid-thrust to hairspray his hair back into place. Or to floss/flick lint from your backside/lay out his clothes for tomorrow/what-have-you.

Would I choose him over Cadaver Hands? Most certainly, but we have money on it that Mr. Handsome is hiding a secret, like a third testicle.

The remaining men at Mulletville Corp can be summed up with “I’d rather [insert scenario in which you die] than have sex with him.” They’re an unattractive assortment of scraggly beards, canes with snake motifs, saggy asses and bad facial ticks.

We have been in desperate need of new lunchtime material for years.

Then, on Monday, like a gift from the Heavens, Mulletville Headquarters in Assachusetts sent us Mr. Tightbody. Suffice it to say, he lives up to his name and then some. Well-fitted suits hug his rippling torso. His hungry eyes sear into my flesh. His man parts heave and his loins send throbbing shockwaves up and down the—

—Oops, did I mention I’ve been moonlighting as a romance novelist?

Heh, heh.

The point is, he’s hot and I thought this meant we could finally move on from the “Would you rather...” nonsense. But no. After being surrounded by rusty Pintos of men for so long, no one knows what to do with this Corvette of a man except to verbally vomit nonsense every time his name comes up.



Women have literally turned to Jell-O.

The situation has made me realize just how estranged we’ve become from normal, attractive men and how HR should have eased us into Mr. Tightbody. Like, maybe his bottom half could have started on Monday as a way of introduction. Then an arm. A shoulder.

Or maybe there should have been a gradual upgrade to Mr. Tightbody. Let us get used to a moderately attractive new male hire before you bring in the firecracker. You don’t just throw a frog into boiling water for Pete’s sake.

I should so be in charge of the world. Geesh.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Elusive indulgences wanted! (And maybe a little sympathy)

Did I mention I failed my 3-hour glucose test by one point? (One fricken point!) I did. Even though I am not overweight, stick to a healthy diet and run myself ragged working full-time and caring for a toddler, I have gestational diabetes.

Because of that point—one point!—my doctor banished me to the Mulletville diabetes center last week for a consultation. I entered the center in the foulest mood possible. I may have been dubbed a gestational diabetic, but I wasn’t going to go quietly.

First I saw a chipper, lumpy nurse who called me “honey,” “hun” and “sugar.” She smiled past my snarky looks. She was impervious to my Death Stares.

Like gasoline on a fire, baby.

She gave me a 50-page health questionnaire to fill out. She checked my thyroid. She waxed my legs. By that point I’d been at the center for an hour. I started to get even pissier—sighing heavily and looking at my watch. Scratching the walls. Urinating in the corner. You know the drill. Nurse Lump-a-Lot finally noticed.

“I don’t belong here,” I moaned. “One point…”

“It’s probably genetics. Just one of those things.” She handed me this:

The OneTouch UltraMini. It may sound like a vibrator and look like a crack pipe, but it’s not nearly as exciting.

She told me I have to check my blood sugar levels four times a day and record them in my own special blood sugar diary.

(Sorry, Heidi Klum, this will have to replace your special notebook for now.)

We test drove the UltraMini. I passed. Hoohah! I waited for her to tell me I could skip the whole gestational diabetes thing but no, it was time to see the dietician.

Fuckity fuck no.

The dietician was even cheerier than Nurse Lump-a-Lot. Worse, she was skinny. I’ve been around long enough to know that skinny people who think a lot about food are never happy people. They use food scales and talk about bulgar wheat.

They are the Anti-Christ.

Before I’d even sat down, the dietician busted out her rubber fruits and vegetables and started playing kitchen.

“Two servings of broccoli equal one serving of potatoes. Now, what happens when we add a piece of toast?”

She drew smiley faces on my food chart. She referred to her camaraderie of dieticians as “we,” as in “we strongly encourage you to try Quinoa.”

I wanted to tell her where she could put her Quinoa, but she wouldn’t shut it. I kept trying to tell her that I knew enough about nutrition—one point!—to fast forward through the elementary-school schpeel, but she was going to cover it.

I even busted out the big guns—I told her how I was one of the first reporters to cover trans fats, a nasty bi-product of the hydrogenation process, for a gourmet food magazine back in 1997, so I knew about bad fats—but she wouldn’t put down her damn rubber vegetables.

She pummeled me with fake food. I was beaten.

So here I am, just me and my UltraMini. And a whole buttload of Halloween candy. Thoughts of Thanksgiving pies. Of fat, gooey chocolate Santa Clauses with jolly bellies full of marshmallow. Brownies dripping in caramel. Puff pastries. Cheesecakes paired with red wine.

Nothing I can touch.

I need a vice, people, and I need it now. What’s left to do that’s naughty?

(Don’t say sex. Please. We all know that sex when you’re eight months pregnant is about as appealing as moose going at it on the National Geographic channel.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I've decided to have my baby in an igloo with three fish as midwives. Oh, and a leprechaun as an anesthesiologist. Are you happy now?

I can’t remember if I blogged about my labor and delivery with Junior. Oh right, I did. I shared how, after 6,000 hours of Pitocin, 547 epidurals and indescribable pain, Chuck told me to picture my happy place and I dreamed about being flattened by a Mulletville transit bus.

That’s how my labor went.

Now here we are again. Another pregnancy; this time, the vexing question: How will this child enter the world? Had my first labor not ended with an emergency C-section—which saved my life and Junior’s—I wouldn’t be sitting here trying to decide what the hell to do. I’m one of the few whose doctors will support a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean), but—but—she also scheduled a C-section just in case.

Cue Jeopardy music. Pan in on Mrs. Mullet biting her lips, nails and Chuck trying to decide which option is best.

I realize in writing this post and approaching it in an I’m-not-sure-what-to-do manner I’m putting myself out there for possible judgment and criticism, but I want to go there because the topic fascinates me. Women have strong (sometimes frighteningly so) opinions about how babies should be labored. There are some, like Blossom star Mayim Bialik , who heartily judge women who’ve experienced medically-aided, non homebirths.

Others have such a low opinion of how delivery is handled by hospitals they’ve coined terms like “birth rape.” According to an article on Salon.com, “The term is being used to describe cases where a woman feels that her rights are violated by doctors, nurses or midwives.” Writer and activist Amity Reed feels that "Fingers, hands, suction cups, forceps, needles and scissors ... are the tools of birth rape and they are wielded with as much force and as little consent as if a stranger grabbed a passer-by off the street and tied her up before having his way with her.”

Wow, birth rape.

The prejudice is even appearing in cutesy parenting magazines. A woman I'll call "Sphincter" recently responded to an article about a homebirth with "How sad that micromanaged hospital births are now the norm."

Sniffle, sniffle.

Get the feeling that unless you deliver your kid at home while the neighbors rub nectar on your cooch and everyone hums Kumbaya, you’re pond scum? Kind of feels like that. Hospital births seem to have become the enemy. I concede that the medical system is imperfect (C-section rates in the United States are at an all-time high), but what system is perfect? And is the answer to a few horrific deliveries by overzealous, unsympathetic doctors really a showdown between mothers?

I continue to hope not. The idea of a natural delivery is so built up and so acutely affixed to our idea of womanhood and motherhood it cuts at the soul when the delivery experience fails miserably; no one needs judgy shit from other moms on top of that.

But there it is: the "how sad" bullshit. The pity and shame.

Which brings me back to my dilemma. After I had Junior, I heard myself tell people I’d had a C-section “because I had to/we would have died.” The urgency absolved me; I found comfort in that. Even worse, I added, “And I have a beautiful baby boy!” as if Junior were a consolation prize. As if the labor journey mattered more than the end result.

I promised myself I wouldn’t care this time, but every time I ask Chuck what we should do, I hear a nagging voice. This time, if I choose a C-section, I’ll have a dirty little secret. My surgery will have been by choice. I will have chosen to fail at labor. Even though a VBAC might mean laboring again for 24+ hours and never dilating. Or possibly losing kid #2 because of the stress of a 24+ labor that doesn’t go anywhere. Or taking a month to heal from another emergency C-section because of all the trauma my body endured leading up to it.

Even though.

Is being able to fly the “My kid was 100% naturally vagged!” banner really worth it? A big part of me thinks not. Just like being able to fly the “My kid was 100% breastfed!” banner was overrated. At some point the banners come down and your kid is either healthy and happy or you’ve royally fucked up—regardless of which body cavity he came from and how you fed him.



Monday, November 1, 2010

Kicked to the curb for the very last time

Are you sick yet of Halloween? No? Great. ’Cause Mulletween 2010 was super dandy and I'd like to tell you all about it.

This is the first year we’ve trick or treated in our neighborhood; I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. There wasn’t a mullet to be seen—just lots of parents dropping off their kids while they waited in their 4x4s and smoked.

How thoughtful!

As for our neighbors, one nice man dumped his entire bucket of candy into Junior’s bag after admitting he forgot it was Halloween (he’d been too engrossed in the Patriot’s game to answer the door). His lovely woman friend waited until we were almost out of earshot to call him an asshole.

"Mommy? What's an asshole?"

Another neighbor let Junior pet her New England chickens. When the blind one tried to peck Junior’s costumed feet, the woman kicked it.


And hello, hearty aerobics. The neighborhood is an outdoor gym, I tell you. It’s house after house of this:

Yes, poor Junior’s “trick or treats” sounded more like “triiiiiii...ck [gasp, gasp] ohhhhhhhhhhr [gasp, gasp] treeeeeeeeee......at” but he scored a lot of extra candy—no one likes to see a miniature dragon in pain. And because Chuck carried Junior for most of the night, Chuck got some exercise, too.

(Velcro would have been helpful. Polyester dragon costume + leather coat = “Chuck! Junior’s sliding down your back again! Grab his tail!”)

As for me, Mulletween helped me answer a pesky existential question that's been plaguing me for the longest time. I now know what I want to be in my next life: a stray dog in this neighborhood. Thanks to the dark sanctity of the neighborhood shrubs, me and my pregnant bladder were able to mark at least five miles of Mulletville in complete modesty. You couldn't ask for a better set-up than dark hills lined with shrubs.

We had such a quaint night, it was enough to make me misty about moving. Could I have misjudged this blighted community? Could we have been BBQing alongside our neighbors for the last four years instead of cowering from their swearing, smoking, chicken-kicking ways?

Could have been so beautiful...could have been so right...

No. When I left for work this morning I found our pumpkins smashed to pieces on our front walkway.

Mulletville, you are officially and irrevocably dumped. Forever.

Make laundry fun — and punishable

I don't know why there's so much effing laundry. Yes, there are five of us, but we aren't going anywhere. Part of me feels ...