Funny Guys

Last night I dreamed that I met Gilbert Gottfried at a hotel for an illicit liaison. The first thing he did was provide me with a used toothbrush with which to freshen my breath. He also had one for himself, which I thought was very egalitarian. Gilbert recently topped the Boston Phoenix's list of the 100 Unsexiest Men, but he will always be one very canoodleable specimen in my book.

In order to make me laugh, it helps if you can laugh at yourself. Or at least laugh at your own joke while you are telling it. I find laughter to be as infectious as the snot globbers that shoot out of the mouths of babes at Tolby's weekly playgroups. Such comedic contagion accounts for most of my infatuation with Gilbert. I once nearly drove off the road when he was a guest on the Howard Stern show bantering about capicola lunchmeat as eaten by mafia henchmen. He pronounced it "gobbagoo" and went on at length. I have no idea why, but that, right there, is funny.

Then there was Mitch Hedberg, whose comedy still is. It is my sad lot in life, having discovered him posthumously, not to be able to see this genius perform live. You should go find some of his stuff online. Maybe my favorite joke of his will help spur you on (though text is a poor substitute for the staccato emphasis of his delivery):

"I was in downtown Boise, Idaho, and I saw a duck, and I knew the duck was lost, 'cause ducks ain't s'posed to be downtown. There's nothin' for 'em there. So I went to a Subway sandwich shop, I said, "Let me have a bun." But she wouldn't sell me just the bun, she said that I had to have something on it. She told me it's against regulations for Subway to sell just the bun. I guess the two halves ain't supposed to touch. So I said, "Alright, well, put some lettuce on it," which she did. She said, "That'll be $1.75." I said, "It's for a duck." And they said, "All right, well, then it's free." See, I did not know that ducks eat for free at Subway. Had I known that, I would have ordered a much larger sandwich. "Let me have the Steak Fajita Sub - but don't bother ringing it up, it's for a duck! There are six ducks out there, and they all want Sun Chips!"


9 Months

Gestation included, Tolby has been an organism in my life for more than a year and a half. She has been sucking in her own oxygen for as long as I was pregnant. It seems like forever--and like no time at all. An entire adulthood spawned by a child.

Here are the stages of my maturity.

1. Hope, anticipation and pain

2. Respect

3. Responsibility

4. Cleanliness

5. Godliness

6. Irony

7. Health

8. Appreciation


So There

In the cyber version of an elementary school playground, there exists the Meme. Like intellectual (or not so much) Tag-You're-It, bloggers run around the 'sphere, poking, prodding, or ripping inseams as they tackle the next person to respond to the meme du jour. What's the meme du jour? It's the meme of the day.

So if a meme is like tag, then I must be the pig-tailed girl standing alone next to the swingset with buck teeth and Coke bottle eyeglasses.

And cooties. In a year when not enough cootie shots were manufactured due to unhygienic factory conditions.

Anyway, as I sit here untagged by the "Six Interesting Facts You Didn't Know About Me" meme that is now pretty much played out, I am reminded of first grade at the Catholic school I attended. First grade was bullshit, excreted daily by Mrs. St. John. It was at her hands that I was implicated in a love letter plot that brought down several of my female classmates as we composed phonetic odes to the sexiest third grader in a tri-parish radius. With the salacious letters confiscated and justice meted out, none of us lovelorn ladies got a foil star on the class chart that week.

Back to this not-being-tagged thing. What should I expect with a name like Binky? Imagine a girl on the playground named Binky, with glasses as thick as they were wide, a gold monogrammed "B" stuck to the bottom of one lens. Then, fast forward to eighth grade, when that same girl ran for class president on the "Don't Clown Around, Vote for Binky" ticket. The girl who regularly wore sneakers on gym day, regardless of what she was sporting on the rest of her misguided frame, just so she wouldn't have to haul around extra footgear in her backpack. I can still picture the tan hide of my suede skirt and the blue and white Adidases that went with it. And then there were my university years, where I pressed on in dorklitude by getting my hair hacked off (not once, but twice--stupid, stupid, stupid!) in an all-women's-college kind of cut that my husband, who became acquainted with me during the first of these unfortunate phases, remembers as "kind of, well...how do I say this...spiky."

There's not much to do but embrace my inner freak. I'll sum it all up with the fact that, several years ago, I hauled my singular unhipness onto Metro North and rode it into midtown Manhattan where I waited in line for 3 hours to get my right buttcheek autographed by Violent J of the Insane Clown Posse.

So, you see, my dorky self is no stranger to unrequited games of tag. I've developed a thick skin, like suede over tennis shoes. But I've got pride, too. If I was asked tomorrow to meme about "Six Interesting Facts You Didn't Know About Me," I wouldn't even respond.

It's the principle of the thing.


Back to Life

I had an interview today for a part time writing job at a nearby university. In the past, I've always known the minute I stepped foot on a property that would become my new professional address. I had the same feeling the first time we drove through the town in which we would later purchase a house. This intuition manifests itself in a moment of sparkling clarity as my subconscious says to me, "We're here for an extended stay, Bink. Take a look around."It's fleeting, but it's instantly recognizable. It's not an after-the-fact acknowledgement.

Well, I didn't have that feeling today. Even though the interview went well and I have every reason to believe I will be chosen for the position, the precognition I have come to rely on was strangely absent. Maybe it's ambivalence that is closing my mind's eye to possibility. Or maybe I'm just not going to get the job. Come Monday, we'll at least know if the latter is true.

The ambivalence is a result of the fact that I love my current status as part of this do-whatever-we-feel-like-when-we-damn-well-feel-like-it mother/daughter team. I LOVE being what is commonly referred to as a "stay-at-home" mom, though Tolby and I are rarely home. We're visiting, we're walking, we're window shopping (not buying--we can't afford that), we're driving aimlessly; basically we're doing everything possible to thrwart a healthy nap schedule. And I freaking love it. Sometimes I get in a freelance article. Most days I blog. If it wasn't for the fact that the one-income thing is driving my husband to drink unhealthy amounts of Piels*, I'd be the happiest I've been in my entire life.

So, while I wait to see if the Connecticut university system has any judgement at all, it would probably be prudent to investigate childcare options that will make gainful employment possible. I'm not gonna lie to you--about this I am not too psyched.

The question is this: where is my intuition now? Where can I find clarity on this most convoluted issue of motherhood inside the home, and out?

*I'm using the "driving him to drink" cliche for hyperbolic effect. My husband is actually not the one with the addictive personality in this relationship. But the Piels thing is accurate. In fact, Tolby's favorite chew-toys are the cardboard cases we buy it in.


Lifestyles of the Penniless and Overlooked

On one side of our home, a 500-pound woman sits watch in her living room, gazing out onto the state road with such focus and regularity that almost all passing motorists know to beep at her as they drive by. She's hurt if you don't.

On the other side, a makeshift campground sprung up not long after we moved in, after a savvy gentleman purchased the one permanent structure on the property (as permanent as a trailer can be) and illegally rented out the rest of his land to a series of registered sex offenders, irresponsible pet owners and tree-house carpenters. They lived in motor homes and pop-up campers that leeched off the main trailer via extension cords. There were six of them at last count, until the winter winds came and drove them back to Florida. I'm assuming they'll be back any day now.

It's a sad state of affairs when my husband and I are the rock that keeps an entire neighborhood from blowing away in a gust of crazy.

Anyway, today's post is about the first neighbor I mentioned--let's call her Betty--whose agoraphobic obesity is, unbeknownst to her, sounding the death knell of her marriage so loud and clear that everyone outside of the soundproofed barriers of her home knows it. She called me yesterday (she does this sometimes, even though we hardly know each other) to tell me she enjoyed having us as neighbors.

I didn't even bother contemplating the motivation for such a declaration, as rational thought is pretty much a waste of time in our zip code. "We think you're great neighbors, too," I lied.

"I'm telling you this because we're moving. With the mill rate going up and all the new expenses, we need to sell the house. I wanted to say that we've enjoyed having you as neighbors."

"Oh! Where are you going?"

"That's what everyone asks," she chortled, as if that was funny. "But we don't know."

Again, rational thought unprevailing, I let that go and hastened to end the conversation. It was no suprise to me that their money situation was tight, considering they had borrowed our gas can months ago and had been filling their oil burner with straight diesel fuel for weeks now. They just didn't have the $500 it takes to fill a tank with heating fuel in these days of grossly over-compensated Exxon and Mobil execs.

But the real story came out the next day as my husband spoke with Betty's husband--let's call him Dirk--across our chain link fence.

"I heard you're moving," said my husband.

"Yup. And we're getting divorced. She just doesn't know yet," said Dirk. In this phrase, which my husband recounted to me later, I knew that Betty did not hold a monopoly on mental illness in that house. Of course, I had figured that out more than a year ago when a dead cat washed up in front of their mailbox and Dirk kicked it more than 20 feet to the edge of their property line so he wouldn't have to worry about it anymore.

Turns out Dirk is rendez-vousing with a married co-worker from the potato chip factory down the street. He is going to use his profit from the sale of the house (what's left over from the 75 percent his lawyer advised him to give to Betty) to pay for his mistress to divorce her abusive husband, who likes to follow Dirk around like some kind of strung-out private investigator in a sleeveless tee shirt. Which is, like, totally what I should have expected.

As Dirk and my husband chatted over our property lines, Dirk expounded on the virtues of the other woman. "She's only 150 pounds," he said. In unspoken comparison, he nodded heavily toward the house, where white siding and green shutters sheltered Betty from the world while she waved at the cars beeping by.

A Perfect Post


Ultimate Fighting Championship

Another chapter in the Why Didn't Anybody Tell Me It Was Going To Be Like This? book of new motherhood:

And Baby Makes Three, Or, You're Doing Good If You Don't Claw Out Your Partner's Eyeballs With What's Left of Your Gnawed Off Fingernails

Let me say, for the record, that I am writing this on the upside of a 3 week standoff with my own mate that began for reasons I have long since forgotten. It's a lapse in memory made inconsequential by the fact that whatever reason we had for fighting was totally irrelevant in the first place. Most of our fights are caused by all kinds of different straws that break the same back of the two-humped camel that is our marriage.

Hump One: our miserable financial state
Hump Two: my husband's perceived lack of freedom now that he's a father

(And, that, folks, is pretty much all the humpin' that goes on around here.)

Anyhoo. My point is that parenthood wreaks havoc on marriage. I would be perfectly willing to accept that my case is unique and that maybe my husband and I are just miserable people doomed to a life of shared disunity, except that I have heard too many stories by other new parents who can relate all too well to the stresses of a growing family. Like skin stretching tight over a pregnant abdomen, something's gotta give. Maybe it's a stretch mark, that first year as parents--an ugly sign of resiliency that fades over time but never goes away. For some, this new life as married parents might be like a c-section scar; it's raw and painful at first, but then the wound heals in a thin line of scar tissue stronger and more tightly fused than ever before. I'm sure the analogies are limitless (I'll spare you the one on episiotomies) but the thrust of the argument is the same: it's all part of the process in which a child is born and raised. Everything changes. How could I ever have thought it wouldn't be just exactly as it is?

I'm assuming that all you parents know what I'm talking about, in some way, on some level, unique to your own situation. I just can't believe that any post-partum marriage could come out unscathed. And those of you who aren't yet parents--it doesn't matter what I say. If you aren't ignoring me already, you'll soon forget. Then you'll pop out some progeny and life as a mother and a wife will become one big emotion that is, at once, alienating and unifying. You'll think you're the only one who has ever felt the way you do, but you'll know, deep down, that the experience is as old as time. You'll probably be pissed off at first. That's the bitter pill that feeds the target demo for my future Why Didn't Anybody Tell Me It Was Going To Be Like This? bestseller. But you'll get over that soon enough, and the "why" won't be nearly as important as the "like this." That's when you'll begin in earnest to seek out the experiences of others, and when you'll become so eager to share yours.

I hope you'll blog about it.


All By Myself

I belong to this web ring of women called Crazy Hip Blog Mamas. And even though I'm much more crazy than hip, it's nice to be a part of a group. Which reminds me--I finally figured out the correct nomenclature for my blogging self. I am a mother blogger. Not a mom blogger and most certainly not a mommy blogger. A crazy mother blogger, if you will. I have no idea if this came to me on my own or if someone else planted a seed that I subconsciously gestated and that later popped out as my own brainchild. It seems like far too good of an idea not to have been thought of before. But, whatever the genesis, it's still accurate, and I'm running with it.

Anyway, CHBM offers these writing prompts for member bloggers to ponder, and this month's is "If I had an entire weekend to myself I would...

No. I will tell you what I would NOT do. I would not clean my freaking house, which is exactly what my husband railed against me for not doing a few weekends ago when the baby went to visit the grandparents, leaving my husband and I home alone.

His logic was this: "You are always complaining that you can't get any housecleaning done when the baby is around, so this is the perfect opportunity to make this place liveable."

I looked up at him from the couch where I sat, nursing a hangover (something, incidentally, that is related to what I WOULD do if I had an entire weekend to myself) and stared at him. I think I was speechless. Why, in the name of Jesus, God and Baby Jesus, would I spend my only solitudinal day in recent memory CLEANING THE HOUSE? How does that even make sense? And, moreover, why was working himself into a nagging fit of maternal proportions and lecturing me as if I WAS THE CRAZY ONE?

So here's what I would NOT do:

Bulk cooking in casserole form to stockpile for the coming week
And, dare I say it, blogging

But here's what I WOULD do, and a lot of it:

Breast pumping

So, holding up a bottle full of the good stuff, I say, Cheers! Here's to Medela and a weekend alone.


Remind Me To Tell You The One About Being Emancipated

One day at my parents' we were sitting around the table, shooting the proverbial shit. Somehow Katie Couric's name popped up in conversation.

"I didn't know she wasn't married," my mother said.

"Where have you be-en, moth-er?" I demanded with the same syllabically-elongated hauteur I have exhibited in conversations with her since I turned eleven. "Her husband died, like, years ago. I think it was prostate cancer."

"Oh, yes, now that you say it." My mother nodded deliberately, as if fighting against demented brake pads to stir the wheels of memory into action. "I think that was it. Prostrate cancer."

"Oh my Go-od, mom." I'm not making this up. "It's not PROSTRATE cancer! It's prostate! Pros-TATE!" I was getting worked up. I looked with wild eyes to my husband, my brother, my father. I even looked to my sister, who is an idiot.

Then my other half, with a sense of diplomacy that has made him a beloved son-in-law against incredible odds, looked up from the coffee cup he was so carefully examining.

"Well, he probably laid down and died."


Why Tolby is the Luckiest Girl in the World

Parents. Aren't they grand?


Load of Laundry

Today I watched our wedding DVD and sent our videographer a very belated thank you note-- year and a half late, to be exact. Though it feels like ten.

I popped in the DVD and clicked over to the five-minute highlights section because I have no patience for the 2 hour long-form version. The montage was quick and upbeat, with adoring gazes flung right and left. I marveled at my husband operating in romance mode. I watched his bull riding self and his dazzling dance floor machinations. I watched him hold sparklers, and me.

The thank you note went like this:

Though we are remiss in sending this thank you note a year and a half after our July 2004 wedding, we hope you will consider its belatedness a testament to the fact that the wedding movie you created for us just keeps getting better with time. Thank you for this magical DVD that ensures our first day as husband and wife will remain a living, breathing memory for as long as we both shall live.

We truly adore everything about the movie, from the old-fashioned black and white fast forward effect during the montage to the hilarious bull-riding sequence. You caught all the moments we hoped you would, and then some.

Our family has already grown by one, and I know that our daughter will soon love the movie as much as we do. With our lives moving so fast now that it’s hard to stop and catch a breath, it is a special blessing to have this DVD to remind us of the importance of slowing down and reflecting on how it all began.

I honestly believe all that, though it doesn't tell the whole story. The truth is that the "wedding movie" (his terminology) is worth its weight in gold because it shows a new love unfolding--before it gets worn, spit up on, peed on, and covered in strained carrots, then thrown in the laundry pile where it will sit until the baby runs out of onesies and we can't find any clean socks. That is our love now.

If I was really feeling bitter, I could have told our videographer that. I could've waxed poetic with tales of wash and woe. I could've told him how our jeans don't touch, not even in the hamper. I could've told him that's where the real love story is, even though his artistic rendering of our wedding day is wonderful filler. If he really wants to make "movies," he should skip the receptions. Weddings are reality television; everything that comes after is real life.


How the Other Half Lives

Having exhausted the semantical discourse related to identity and motherhood (Mom v. Mommy v. Mama v. Bitch with Baby), perhaps it is time to move on to a similar examination of fatherhood.

Where Does Your Man Stand? Is He a Dad? Daddy? Dick with Dependents? Take the 8Hours Quiz To Find Out!

1) Your other half thinks that life with children:

a) should be exactly the same as life without children, only with more tax deductions
b) is better than ice cream
c) is okay as long as it doesn't conflict with Poker Night

2) In the heat of passion, he has been known to scream out:

a) "It's like a hot dog in a hallway! A foot long one, of course, but still...you're a freaking hallway."
b) "You kiss the baby with that mouth?"
c) "Don't worry about the baby crying. This won't take long."

3)He is sitting in the room with his offspring, who has filled the entire lower level of your home with the malodorous stench of a jam-packed diaper. Your child's father:

a) pretends to ignore it, all the while trying to harnass all the power of his gastro-intestinal tract so that he can drown out the baby's smell with his own, more pleasing, fragrance
b) runs to the child's aid, all the while cooing "Baby-waby has a huge poopy-woopy! But it's okay! Your dumps are better than ice cream!"
c) says "Hon-ey! The baby just shat himself!"

4) After a pleasant weeknight dinner, you ask him to give your daughter a bath. He says:

a) I worked all day. What did you do?
b) Sure thing, darling. Afterward, I was hoping you and I could go over our finances to determine if becoming a stay-at-home dad is in the cards for me.
c) Okay, but you have to come with me so you can wash...you know, down there.

5) When he dresses the baby, he:

a) wakes up from the nightmare screaming and in a cold sweat
b) lovingly pulls on the matching shirt, pants, socks and shoes that he set out the night before
c) reaches into the drawer and pulls out the first top and first bottom he sees, regardless of season, print or size

If you answered mostly As, your significant other is a DICK WITH DEPENDENTS. He'd sooner leave you for the secretary than acknowledge any stake in the day to day business of raising children.

If you answered mostly Bs, your man is a DADDY. His baby is a princess; you are his queen. Of course, it's all fun and games till the jealous neighbors key your car and set the jungle gym on fire.

If you answered mostly Cs, your co-creator is a DAD. When the baby was born, he held him like a football, and he hasn't stopped thinking of fatherhood as a game--best accompanied by beer, wings, and a Hi-Def TV--ever since.