Monday, April 30, 2012

Questions you shouldn't ask during an interview

A while ago I mentioned that I had unofficially given my notice at Mulletville Corp, where I'm employed full-time as a graphic designer and unlicensed therapist to my fucktard co-workers. Not much has changed since. I'd like to officially give my notice—ideally by writing "I quit" across my naked butt cheeks and mooning my department—but until I can find a part-time position or something with some flexibility, it's a no-go.

I've been scouring the newspapers and job sites and let me tell you, there ain't shit. Worse, of the few openings listed, many leave me scratching my head about what's expected. Like this one for a part-time receptionist:

There's so much more I need to know about this "must like people and teeth" position. Like, must I like people and teeth equally? Are we talking people teeth or animal teeth too? Are the teeth in people's mouths or outside of them? Am I going to be bitten or do I have to bite people...and are they the same people I'm supposed to "like" or a different group of people?

Then there's the really crucial question: How much do I need to like teeth? Must I like teeth so much that the sight of them stops me dead in my tracks, or can I lukewarmly admire them over a cup of coffee? Is one of the interview questions, "What do you think about when you're making love to your partner?" and is the correct answer "teeth"?

Like is such a relative term. It's the grayest of grays!

If I lie and say I like teeth to get the job, will I be a fake amongst authentic teeth lovers or has everyone feigned a fondness for chompers just to get on the payroll? If management does believe my lies and hires me, are there sporadic tests, like drug tests, to assure that my desire for teeth hasn't waned? Like, will they bring me into a room one day, turn down the lights, and show me this

and shout, "Look at this picture! Look at it! Do you still like teeth? Do YOU?"

And what if I can't pretend anymore? What if I finally can't take the sight of gums and teeth and fillings anymore and all the "OMG I LOVE teeth" bullshit by the water cooler and I have to cry out, "No! I hate teeth! I HATE them!"? Will they grab me by the arms and drag me out and throw me on the street?

What if?

See? I knew I shouldn't apply for this job.

I knew it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The fricken school bus

I registered Junior for kindergarten today.

I won't get into how choked up I was (I'll save that sob fest for his actual first day) or how taken aback I was by how heavy it all felt. I mean, I knew signing the paperwork would feel monumental, I just didn't realize it would feel like I was shipping him off to college.

In Antarctica. 

Before I had children, I used to make fun of moms who would get all mushy and weird about the first day of school. I used to think they were so emotional. Saps, I tell ya! What was the big deal? You popped out a kid, he grew up, you stuck him on the bus, and you got your life back.

I can see now that I got the first few items right. Pop out kid. Check. Kid grows up. Check. Stick him on bus. Check.

But this idea of getting a life back, as if it's something tangible and in tact that's been waiting patiently for you for five years, as if it can be reclaimed once the kid has grown his proverbial big kid wings...well, it doesn't work that way, does it?

What I didn't realize is that that kid becomes your life, and your life becomes that kid. And I don't mean in that suffocating Helicopter Parent way. I mean in all the best ways. Whether you work or stay at home or sleep hanging upside-down, that kid has changed who you are.

You've invested years into his upbringing: kissing his scrapes, reading him stories, teaching him big words, wanting him to be kind, hating him because he whines, fixing his damn cowlick, dragging him to the store, tricking him into eating broccoli by pretending it's a talking tree, searching for his stuffed dog.

And on and on.

And then just like that, one day you're supposed to hand him over to the world. The World.
(I wish I knew how to cue a cyber thunderbolt.)


I know he and I will be fine, I know this is what's supposed to happen, but crap, to every mom out there whom I previously pointed at and laughed (I may have also, um, called you pathetic behind your back), I'm sorry. This shit really gets you in your soft spot.

I do take some comfort in knowing that while I may be grappling with this kindergarten thing, I am faring far better than some others. The Mulletville Lite elementary school was nice enough to leave a sheet with FAQs for us newbies. Some of my favorite questions were:

"Can I ride the bus the first day with my kid?"

(Why not just sit on his lap for the whole school year? It might be less awkward for him.)

"Can I meet the bus driver before the first day of school? How do I know he/she will like my kid?"

(My bus driver swore at motorists and purposely went over curbs so we'd bounce higher in our seats. We all lived to tell about it.)

"Can I follow the bus to school to make sure my child gets out all right?"

(Oh, Jesus. You need help.)

And my all-time favorite: "Can my child please get a hot, sexy teacher I can ogle at all the boring PTO meetings?"

(Fine, fine, that was mine.)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Me make fire ug ug

It's rainy, cold and windy. We all have our winter sweaters on. That lovely crab apple tree from my last post? Most of its pretty pink blossoms have been ripped from its branches and scattered across the lawn, where they lay in wet, tattered clumps.

Kind of like prom queens look the morning after—at least the ones from my high school.

When I got home from work I told my husband Chuck, who was laid up in bed with a sinus infection, that I was going to make a fire.

No sooner had the words left my mouth than my four-year-old son blurted: "Women can't make fires! Only men can."

Before I try to articulate the ire that his comment inspired—and let me tell you, I was iring up to my eyeballs—I want to tell you about my step-father.

He is an old-fashioned man of European descent. His very little mother pampered him his entire life. He is a man who likes his pants laundered and pressed, his socks mended, and his dinner waiting for him on the table. Not only that, he is a man who whistles when it is time for the she-folk to get up and clear the dinner table.

(Side note: I do not get up.)

He and I had many, many disagreements growing up about the capabilities of women (see aforementioned side note). Yes, I borrowed his porn from time to time, but I despise him for his whistling. As if my mother, aunts, and cousins are a herd of dogs.

Knowing this little piece of my past, you can understand why I raced upstairs and pounced on Chuck after my son's declaration.

"Did you tell him that women can't make fires?"

Chuck tried to tell me that he kind of, sort of, maybe did—""—but only because I have long hair and he worried I might lean forward and catch on fire.

Preposterous! Even though the Girl Scouts failed me in my youth by making us knit Jesus crosses while the Boy Scouts learned practical, fundamental skills like building damn fires, I have amassed enough knowledge in my 37 years to know to hold my hair back while leaning into a fireplace.

"I will not raise two boys to believe that women can't do the same things men can," I spat. Chuck didn't say anything. Okay, he tried, but I wasn't listening. Mostly because if he started groaning again about his delicate, impaired condition I was going to sock him one.

I went outside and got some wood. I got matches and some newspaper from the recycling pile. I made the stupid little paper tent under the wood, then I lit it from underneath. Soon enough there was a raging fire.


"See?" I said to Junior. "Women can make fires just like men. And my hair?" I asked, pulling on it. "All here!"

"Yup," he said.

"See it? I did that!"

"Uh huh."

I shook my head. "I thought you'd be more excited."

"Me too," he said. He may have even yawned.

But fuck, he didn't whistle.

And he never will.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mother's intution does not require AA batteries

I just got off the phone with one of my good friends. When she first called me, I thought it might be Sasquatch or a prank caller. There was so much heavy breathing—and some gurgling.

"It's Rachel," she said, irritated. "I just walked up some stairs."

Ah, yes, I'd forgotten how much fun it is to be pregnant.

"I need your help," she moaned. She told me she needed a blanket. Except it was a question. Like, "I need a blanket?" Then she got angry. "Right? Don't I?" Then angrier. "Answer me! Don't I need a blanket? Doesn't my baby need a blanket?"

"Yes!" I said. "He does."

"See!" she said. "I knew that. I knew it. Fuck this shit!" She started laughing hysterically. Or she was crying, I really couldn't tell.

"What's going on?" I asked. "You sound a know..."

She took a deep breath. She'd been having a good day, she said. She'd slept late and decided to go to Babies "R" Us to register for her baby shower. She thought it would be fun.

Then, reality. This being her first baby, she had no idea what to get. There were things that needed batteries. Pumps. Swings. Cribs. Rockers. Gliders. Tables. Chairs. Slings. Carriers. Strollers. Jumpers. Heaters. Coolers. Tubs. Soaps. Lotions. Creams. Clippers. Sprays. Juices. Oatmeals. Diapers. Frames. Rugs. Bumpers. Sheets. Swaddlers. Nipples. Brushes. Diaper bags. Pads. Inserts. Warmers. Mirrors. Mobiles. Monitors. Rubs. Squeaky toys. Rattles. Rugs.

"I have no idea what a baby needs!" she wailed.

One thing was clear: She knew he needed a blanket.

"Don't I?" she asked again. "But the kid's coming in the summer. If it's hot do I need to cover him? Unless the air conditioning is on. Does he need those pajamas with the feet? Does he?"

Rachel's experience reminded me of my own first trip to Babies "R" Us—that flashy monolith of stuff—when I was pregnant with Junior. I'd gone on my own, like Rachel, to register for my baby shower, and I'd left the store completely fucked up. I might have run screaming.

There was so much. I suddenly had the feeling that everything I'd amassed in my 35 years of life wasn't enough. I needed more. So much more. I needed everything. The message was so clear: your baby didn't need you; your baby needed a continent's worth of shit.

I told Rachel it was okay. I told her about the rectal thermometer women. I told her that the only thing her baby needed after he was born was her. She could buy him a blanket, but he'd probably love one she already had because it would smell like her.

"Like a dog would?" she asked.


She promised she'd take it easy the rest of the night. She promised she wouldn't let her experience unnerve her, but I'm not convinced. I bet when I see her registry, it's going to have 2,675,987,256 things on it, many of which will wind up in the closet.

I don't know when the Baby Gear Movement started exactly, but it's done horrible things to motherhood. When you falsely believe that you cannot mother (or father) without the right apparatuses, you remove everything that is powerful about yourself as a mother. You remove the innate.

Worse yet, if you buy into the belief that if you don't have gear A, B, or C something terrible will happen to your baby, you invite fear into the mothering (or, of course, fathering) experience. From what I've seen, parenting from fear is a rotten way to raise a kid.

I wanted to tell Rachel all this. I wanted her to trust herself.

Instead I told her she could prank me any time she wants.

She snorted and hung up.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Self-sufficiency: the tired, overburdened parent's aphrodisiac

My mother offered to babysit the two hellions last night so Chuck and I could have a date night. According to her, Chuck and I should meet out at a restaurant, sit at a table and chew our food, drink some wine, throw back some dessert, hold hands, profess our love, possibly make out in a parked car, etc., etc.

It sounded good in theory but true to our nature, by 5 p.m. both of us were exhausted from working all day and in no shape to go anywhere. All we wanted was our pajamas and to sit on our couch, yet when I explained that to my mother on the phone, she wouldn't take no for an answer. She insisted we spend some adult time together.

Poor sweet, crazy woman. She's always trying to get us to do something exciting...and we're always laming it up. Like the time she babysat and we got drunk in LensCrafters. Or the time she babysat and we went on a Woolite and Hellboy outing.

She had an idea.

"Come home and pretend we're not here."


"No really. Pick up a pizza for yourself, and when you get home you'll see what I mean."

At 6:30 p.m. Chuck and I walked through the door, pizza box in hand, and found ourselves in an empty living room (empty of people, I mean, not of all the shit that comes with having two kids—wouldn't that be nice). Our pajamas were laid out on the couch. Alongside them was a note: "Don't be pains in the asses. DON'T come upstairs until you're ready to go to bed."

My thoughtful mother had barricaded herself upstairs with the rugrats so Chuck and I could have a couch date. Sweet cushions of love!

"So what do you want to do on our date?" I asked Chuck. I waited for his typical response—"I don't care"—but was surprised to find he was brimming with ideas.

"First I want to eat this pizza in front of the TV and watch whatever I want to watch. I don't want anyone to ask me what I'm watching. I don't want to talk while I'm trying to chew. I want to eat another piece without getting you one. And I'm sorry, but I don't care if you're thirsty."

He sat down and crammed a slice of pizza in his mouth.

"Chuck! I want the same thing. I don't care if you're thirsty or hungry either."

"You don't?"

"No. That's your problem."

"You'll get your own juice?"


"Oh, God yes!" He shoved more pizza in his mouth and started channel-surfing. Somewhere in there he beamed lovingly at me (I think).

Let this be a lesson to you: If you're looking for love, don't underestimate the power of offering to take care of yourself.

Or, subsequently, the excellent birth control that is a nosy mother and two children standing at the top of the stairs.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Our Easter eggs have zebra acne

Chuck and I just got done hiding the eggs. I have no idea how many we hid, nor do I remember exactly where we hid them, which means in a month or so we'll have no problem getting rid of lingering guests.

I like Easter, but it snuck up on me this year, as did preparing for it. Junior's basket is decidedly humble, and besides one pastel egg tree, I didn't put much out. I'm a connoisseur of magazines and they were brimming with catchy Easter creatures to concoct (Easter bunnies made with pink pipe cleaners, tampons and glitter? Great idea, Martha!) and various ways to wow my guests, but every time I started reading them I—yawn—couldn't quite—yawn—get into it.

I blame the children.

I spent Thursday morning as teacher's helper in Junior's nursery school. We helped 25 four year olds make Easter baskets from old milk containers. I was in charge of helping them glue on cotton tails, stick on whiskers, draw on faces, and affix ears. In case you've never been to hell it sounds like this:

"I don't want my bunny's ears there! I want them THERE. No, not THERE. THERE!"

"I need a tail. I need a tail. I need a tail. My tail fell off. I need a tail. I need a tail. I need a tail."

"You dress funny."

"I HATE craft time!"

"I have a cat at home. Do you have a cat? Does it have a name? My cat's name is Mark. My uncle is Mark. Does your cat sleep? My cat eats."

"I need a tail. I need a tail. I need a tail. My tail fell off. I need a tail. I need a tail. I need a tail."

"His basket is bigger than mine!"

"I don't want my bunny's tail there! I want it THERE. No, not THERE. THERE!"

I have never craved grain alcohol so desperately. Every brain cell ached.

It still does.

But that's ok. It's all ok. It doesn't matter that there isn't an overflowing Easter basket for Junior. It doesn't matter that our colored eggs are riddled with animal-patterned acne and encased in electrical wire. We don't need opulence. We don't need smiling, pink bunnies peeking out of every crevice to celebrate life, family and holiday. If you think about it, we need so very little exposure to young children to be happy.

Oops, that last sentence is the bunny tail talking.

Hold me! It was frightful!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Slip slidin' away

It looks so damn cute, doesn't it?

A race car door frame track thing.

After seeing it in Real Simple, I wanted it for myself. Bad. Real Simple said all I needed was black paint, a one- to two- inch paintbrush, white adhesive Velcro, assorted Matchbox toy cars, and scissors.

All I needed...

Well, they were right. And I did it! After work yesterday and right before dinner, I rustled up some paint and a mini roller, sat the kids down in the hallway (why fuss over a doorway when you can glam up your well-trafficked hallway?) and started taping up some tracks. Then I painted. While we waited for the paint to dry, Junior helped me with the velcro.

We wolfed down dinner—"Mom! Can we see it now? Mom! Is the paint dry yet? Mom! Can we play on it? MOM!"—peeled away the tape and voila!

A race car wall track thing.

It looks kind of neat, right? I thought so too, but after about five minutes, Junior put down his car and looked at me dejectedly.

"This isn't as much fun as I thought," he admitted.


"Because the cars don't move!"

"You mean you don't like pulling them off the wall and then sticking them back on, over and over and over and over?"


"You mean you actually want to race them around the house by hand and see the wheels move?"

"Yes!" he said exasperatedly.

Junior's disinterest wasn't the only drawback to our newly painted hallway. At around 3 a.m. I awoke to the sound of something clattering. I grabbed Chuck's arm and told him someone was breaking into the house.

"Downstairs! I heard a noise!"

Nope. No burglar. The matchbox cars I'd taped up were on the heavier side and had fallen to the floor, one by one. Boy did that tickle him.

I didn't think the track had much more to give, but it did. An hour after Chuck's mom showed up this morning to babysit, she called me at work.

"Can we do something about those cars in the hallway?" she asked. "It's a death trap!"

Turns out no matter how many times she slapped the cars back up on the wall, they'd fall and turn her shoes into a pair of wobbly skates.

After she left that night, Chuck told me she thought I might be out to kill her (shouldn't I know better than to put something like that in a hallway, she wondered).

That may just have made this little project worth it.

Photo courtesy of Real Simple.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What we glean from carpooling

Mulletville Corp must have read my last post (the one where I lamented that I never get to go anywhere) because on Monday they told me that I, along with three co-workers, were going to a week-long conference on the other side of the state. (In Connecticut lingo, that's like being told you're being sent to Texas).

I won't bore you with the details of the conference, except to say that communication conferences are brutal. If people spent less time talking about how to communicate and just shut up and did their work, the world would be a better place.

Small bonus of the trip: I got to see a legitimate handlebar moustache.

I said small, didn't I?

My fellow co-workers and I carpooled every day. I hadn't been to the other side of Connecticut since I used to commute there. I'd forgotten about wishing my car came equipped with secret death rays because of the insane traffic.

My co-workers were as shell-shocked as I, mostly because all of them are Mulletville-born and -raised (ew).

I could lie and say that after all that forced together time I have a new appreciation for Donna in purchasing, and Drew in IT, and Phyllis in HR but I don't. They're all shitty drivers. Donna's bracelets clanged too much. Drew has ugly ties. Phyllis has a fake laugh and shares way too much about who uses Mulletville Corp's confidential counseling service.

The highlight of our drive was talking about the popularity of The Hunger Games.

That, um, can only take you so far.

There was a silver lining though, so to speak: a point in the drive home every night when traffic lost its tight grip and we were able to break away. The feeling of being released, as opposed to being caged, was palpable. A calmness would come over me. I'd realize I was 10 minutes away from home and driving toward everything that matters to me.

It's a good direction to be driving in.

(Can you tell I'm going somewhere with this? Can you?)

In fact, it's the only direction I'd like to be driving in.

(Do you see it now? Do ya?)

That feeling solidified something Chuck and I have been talking about for awhile. Something I've been wanting for a long, looooong time.

(Ah yes, now you see it.)

And so on Friday, I decided to go for it. After I climbed out of Drew's Toyota, I tossed my "Best Communication Ever! EVER!!!" conference materials into the recycling bin and I called my boss.

I told her I will be leaving Mulletville Corp sometime in the next month or so.

It's not official, it's not even on paper.

But it's something.

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 ...