Category Archives: WTF

Open and Smut

Just got finished sending out this link to my MOMS Club friends–it’s an article on talking about porn with your teenager. Ever since I had a thirteen-year-old babysitter use my laptop to watch some scary stuff last summer I’ve been interested in the topic. In a disgusted sort of way. I’d shared about it at the time with my club friends to see if they had any advice. Which they did, if you consider a resounding and collective “Eeeeew!” to be helpful.

I kind of did.

Anyway, there I am sending out my little link, and I decide to toggle over and check my youtube video uploads. I’ve been trying to clear out my iphoto files, you see, which are choked with such an abundance of three-minute videos of Myra-Jean that my hard drive is engorged and threatening to rupture. In an ongoing process of incredible tediousness, I scroll through iphoto, grab ten or so videos, dump them on youtube, and go do something else. Later, when they are finally done uploading, I delete them from my computer, and continue with my day. That night, repeat.

So there I go to youtube, where my vidoes are nearly done processing. Eight of the ten, in fact, have been published already. Great. I have no idea what’s on them–I never do. If I took the time to watch each video before I posted it I’d never leave the house.

But suddenly, as I glance through the thumbnails, I see something disturbing. Breasts. Mine. Two of them, in fact, along with the rest of my unclothed body. And what–is that a towel on my head? Jesus Christ! Clicking rapidly on the link, I see that I have somehow published a video of me and MJ sitting naked on the couch–post shower, in my case–listening to “Space Oddity.”

“Oh God, oh, God, oh God.” At least one friend of my parents subscribes to my channel. She watches every single video I put up. She could be watching now!

“Where’s the delete? Where’s the DELETE?”

I cannot find it. I search everywhere. It seems nonexistent. Really, youtube? No deleting once published? That seems totally draconian! And illogical. But I am too frenzied for logic.

I try editing the video–perhaps I can blur my boobs. Also MJ’s naked butt, which really oughtn’t to be anywhere online. Shit. I’m going to get arrested. I am panicking, and cannot use my fingers right.

“No, no, no…”

Ten minutes–and several grey hairs–later, I finally figure out how to delete the video. It’s not that hard after all. Although they could, in my opinion, make it far easier for instances like this.

Anyway. The video is gone, but the scars from the experience will last a long, long, time.

And I can never again pretend to be innocent of smutting the internet.

Perhaps I should send that article to myself.

Mellow Yellow

Turmeric milk. Yum. Ish.

I’ve started drinking it every day. I know it’s an eccentric habit, but, considering that a friend of mine recently tried to get me to start drinking my morning urine–and I considered it–I think I’m actually getting less weird by the day. Perhaps the yellow spice will even help with that. It cures so many things–depression, arthritis, inflammation, cancer–that my overweening eccentricity will surely decrease with consumption as well.

I’m making a recipe I found online. By accident, really. I was reading Facebook, and one of my friends was struggling with something, and someone posted that she should try turmeric milk, and the next thing you know, there I was sipping a cup. Because, you know, why should there be a new-age cure I don’t try? Even when I don’t have the disease. Haven’t you heard of prophylactic dosages? (And if you think I’m talking about giving an aspirin to a condom you need to break out your dictionary app.)

I’ve been trying to get Mike to drink it, too. He has a bad back, lots of stress, and a cold. Who’s better qualified for help from a nutritional panacea? Still, you’d think I was offering him, well, a cup of my morning urine. I’m getting about the same reaction. Oh, he drank the first batch, alright. And the second, albeit with greater reluctance. But now that he’s back out of bed he seems to think he’s past his need for my ministrations. When, today, I offered him a cup, he turned his nose up at it. Literally. Sniffing imperceptibly at his foolishness, I poured myself his serving as well as my own.

But I couldn’t finish such a giant helping. Turmeric’s good and all, but not two cups worth. Even when I added prodigious amounts of honey.

Still, I believe that, with this new regimen, my already excellent health is going to improve . Too bad I will smell like a to-go container of sag paneer. Is that even a curry dish? Whatever. You get my point.

At the very least I will not smell like pee.

Bottoms up!


God Hates Me

And frankly, right now, the feeling is mutual.

Picture 5Ugh. Even Sons Of Anarchy aren’t dulling the panic. I’m going to bed. Where I will finally not have to contemplate the prospect of two months of work wasted when we get rained out on Saturday.

I’ve got nothing else. Pray for a miracle. I know I am.

The Sun Will Come Out. Tomorrow?

I know the lifespan of the sun isn’t the first thing on most people’s minds right now. Nor should it be. But everything about our local star is a hot topic around here. At least in the under-five population.

MJ’s obsession with space has ensured that we own just about every kid’s book about the solar system there is. And there are a lot of them. We study each one obsessively. Dwarf planets. Gas giants. Sulfuric skies. Jovian storms. They’re all familiar friends by now. (We would happily read about the Big Bang, too, if someone would just write a kid’s book about it. No luck on that so far. Where’s Carl Sagan when you need him?)

Every one of the above-mentioned books, of course, talks about the sun. And why not? It’s the raison d’etre for everything else. Our power source. Our cosmic BFF. We’d be lost without it, the authors tell us. But there it is, up in the sky. Ninety-three million miles away! Don’t look at it directly! Draw it as a yellow circle, and don’t forget the rays. Have we mentioned it’s big?

And that’s where it generally stops.

But the other night I was reading MJ a new space book — one she’d gotten for her birthday. Towards the end I turned the page to find, to my consternation, a chapter about doomsday. More or less. Called “The Death of the Sun,” or something equally dire, it proceeded to describe roughly when said event will take place, why, and what it will look like. It pulled no punches, either. Yikes. Not kid friendly material. Hell, it wasn’t anyone friendly. I stopped reading out loud when it got to the “and then the earth will be sucked into a burning ball of gas and we’ll all explode” part. I’m paraphrasing, but only slightly.

Still. Doesn’t a four-year-old have enough to worry about without having to imagine their home planet being engulfed in a boiling surge of million-degree plasma? It won’t be any comfort to them that it’s happening in a billion years, either. Kids MJ’s age don’t understand time. You may as well say it’s coming “in the middle of carrot season.” Or “yesterday.” Or “a hundred Christmases from now.” It all means the same thing, and nothing, at once: scary, unknown, and very bad for  REM sleep.

When I was a kid–an anxious one, admittedly–I spent lots of time fretting over my apocalyptic fears. Asteroids. Nukes. Quakes. These things kept me awake at night. One thing I didn’t think about–because I had no idea it was possible–was the sun’s eventual demise. Thank God. Watching the New York skyline for impending warheads was bad enough.

Ah, the Reagan years.

Anyway. I’d like to save my kid from similar worries.  I’d like to protect her not only from all painful actual events, but even the thought of them: death, destruction, typhoon, disease. And certainly the end of the world. That, the most of all. Let’s not go there yet. Let her not go there. For as long as possible, anyway. A hundred Christmases at least. Maybe more.

When I open the new book now, I pay attention. I don’t tune out, as I sometimes do, reading to MJ quite coherently while inwardly making lists or adding up fundraising tallies. I stay focussed. When we get to the part about the sun’s demise I slow down. As the vision unfolds I begin to paraphrase, obfuscate, and omit. Then, halfway through the page, I putter out with a genial “and that’s that.”

And we turn to the next chapter.

Am I lying to her? Sort of. Trying to stave off the inevitable? Certainly. Fighting a losing battle? Of course. Still, there’s plenty of time to face the painful truths. There are only a few years left to draw big, bright, yellow suns. Our cosmic BFFs. And don’t forget the rays.

Picture 2

Patch Work

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And pumpkins. And bales of hay.

Or so I decided when I took MJ on a “date” to Mr. Bones’ Pumpkin Patch this week.

Or sort of a date. Truthfully, I was covering the event for a local parenting blog and had to drag her along. It’s not like we were going to a lecture on particle physics, though. I knew it would be fun. I told her as much, in shrill, overly certain tones, as we drove all the way across town to get there.

“There’ll be pony rides! And a petting zoo! And pumpkins. And, um, bats!” I had never been to a Pumpkin Patch before, so my idea of it was somewhat sketchy.

“We already have a pumpkin,” MJ groused.

“We’ll get another,” I declared. “You can never have too many.”

That turned out to be untrue. Mr. Bones, you see, is an extortionist. Thirty dollars for a medium-sized pumpkin. Ridiculous. We immediately gave up on buying anything in the Halloween-bedecked shop. Or I did. MJ remained obsessed with the specialty gourds they had for sale.

“I want a lumpy pumpkin.”

“Maybe later.”

“Or a white one!”

“We’ll get it at Trader Joe’s.”

This discussion repeated itself for the next, oh, two hours.

Then there were the activities. Some, like the pony ride and face painting–of a pink pumpkin on her cheek–were fine. Nice, even. The petting zoo was a little less successful. The ducks kept running away from us. Like we were serial killers. Which, I guess, humans sort of are, to ducks.

It was all downhill from there. But not on Mr. Bones Giant Slide. MJ was too afraid to go on it.

“Come on, it looks like fun!” I wheedled.

“No way,” my daughter cried.

I should’ve known. Saying Myra-Jean is physically cautious is like saying that Miley Cyrus has a tongue. It’s true, but hardly tells the whole story. She’ll be rounding the bend on college before she even considers going on a pogo stick. Giant slides are pretty much never gonna happen.

Forgetting the idea, we walked over to the hay maze.

“You’ve never done one of these before,” I said as we approached. “It’s going to be great!” I could almost see the memories forming: she and I with straw in our hair, laughing, pretending we were lost…

Then we got inside. Jesus. Talk about a claustrophobe’s nightmare. This was no Minotaur’s maze. It was subterranean. You had to crawl into covered tunnels made from hay bales. They were long, dark, and unbelievably narrow. Like something out of a nightmare. You couldn’t have paid me enough.

As for Myra-Jean, she took one look and said “There’s probably black widows in there.”

I winced. “I’d like to say you’re wrong, but–”

There was a moment of silence.

Then Myra-Jean spoke. “I’ll go after you.”

We left.

Next was the Pillsbury-sponsored cookie decorating area. Otherwise known as the Tent of Processed Confections. MJ made a creature, of sorts, out of artificial pastry, fake frosting, and lurid toppings. Then she ate it, smearing food coloring all over her pumpkin-cheeked visage.

Michael Pollan would’ve wept.

And I should’ve. For, minutes after the cookie eating, she started to show signs of sugar-related dementia. Major signs. Her mood, which had been fairly sanguine, went dark. Her face pale.

It was when she brought up the bouncy house, though, that I knew we were in trouble.

“Mama,” she said, rubbing ersatz cookie off of her chin, “there’s a pumpkin bouncy over there. Look!” She pointed unsteadily, her hand sticky with marshmallow.

“I see it,” I said carefully. “Do you want to go in?”

I knew the answer. Or thought I did. MJ hates bouncy houses. Too chaotic. Too out of control. Too similar to balloons, for which she has recently developed a phobia. She’s literally afraid they’ll pop.

But MJ rose and, like a zombie, started walking in the direction of the great orange bubble. “I want to,” she muttered. “Yes.”

“Shit,” I muttered. This couldn’t end well. Grabbing my Pillsbury goodie bag–the first hundred people inside got one!–I trotted after her.

When we got to the bouncy there was a line. In the sun. We walked to the back and planted ourselves behind two moms with five kids.

“When can we go on?” MJ asked.

I glanced at a sign taped to the side. “It looks like only a few children can go at a time. For five minutes. So we have at least five minutes to wait, because there’s a group in there now, and then these guys”–I jutted my chin at the kids in front of us–“get to go.”

MJ considered this.

“Should we skip it?” I said hopefully.

She looked up at me. She had no sunscreen on. It was really hot. She was going to get burned. Except where the pumpkin was painted. She didn’t care.

“No. I want to go in.”

My shoulders slumped. “OK.”

The moms in front of me stole a glance back. Their faces seemed sympathetic. Or did they? Maybe they were being judgmental. Whatever. They were wearing black lycra. Their kids were loud. I had nothing to say to them.

Myra-Jean tugged at my shirt. “Mama, you can come in there with me, right?”

I made a face. I wanted to go into a hot pumpkin bouncy like I wanted a gunshot wound in the eye. “I don’t know, honey–”

Her eyes became frantic. Her voice rose. “Please!”

Jesus. I gestured for calm with my hands. “OK. Let me go ask the guy.”

The man in question was sprawling on a crate by the pumpkin’s zipper door. He looked like he needed a hat. And a drink.

I side-stepped past the lycra ladies. “Excuse me,” I said to him, trying to look bemused. “My daughter wants to know if I can go in there with her. To the bouncy.”

“No,” he grunted, without looking up.

“Really? I could just sit–”


From behind me I heard a wail. At first I thought it was a fire engine. Then I knew it was my daughter. I turned to see her crying hysterically.

“You have to come in with me!”

I looked from her to the man. He was unmoved. I spun back to MJ. “Honey, I’m sorry–”


It was a very loud scream. Now the lycra ladies were fully engaged. They glanced back and forth at us like it was a tennis match.

Tears poured down MJ’s face. I watched as the picture on her cheek melted, mixing pumpkin with sweat and purple frosting. Spinning back to the ticket guy, I hissed “can you see what’s happening here? Can I just go in the damn bouncy with her?”

He thought about it. MJ suppressed her sobs long enough to hear his answer. The two moms stretched to listen.

“You can put your head and shoulders in. No feet.”

I raised my eyebrows and turned to MJ. She thought about it. Finally she took a shuddering breath. “OK.”

Everyone exhaled.

Just then the group inside the bouncy house came tumbling out, and the kids ahead of us climbed in. Taking advantage of the extra space, I moved MJ and myself into the shade. We sat down on a bale of hay, nearly touching the bouncy. And waited.

A moment later one of the kids–a girl in a striped dress–crawled quickly back out of the hatch.  “Something’s happening in there,” she said, not calmly. “It’s blowing out.”

One of the moms said “It’s what?”

“It’s blowing out!”

Everyone looked at each other, confused.

Then the entire pumpkin began to deflate. Fast. Folds of hot, orange rubber fell against us as kids came pouring out of the hole head first. MJ screamed like a banshee.

Great, I thought. This is great. PTSD from a fucking Pumpkin Patch.

I grabbed her and prepared to run. But I needn’t have bothered. The man in charge got things quickly in hand, and in seconds the pumpkin was back to its former stature.

The kids who had been inside, however, were done. I couldn’t really blame them.

It was our turn next. To my surprise, MJ still wanted to try. Sort of. She made one quick attempt to climb in, but, when she felt the breeze inside, shrieked “it’s cold! It’s so cold!” and refused to try again.

We were done. Done with the bouncy, done with pumpkins, and done with Mr. Bones.

MJ made me carry her all the way to the car. All the way. I thought I would die. As I trudged slowly in the heat, my Pillsbury crescent rolls not melting–because they’re not food–but definitely weighing me down, MJ asked one plaintive question after another:

“Why did the bouncy fall?”

“Why was it so cold in there?”

“Why could only your head come in?”

“Why couldn’t we buy a lumpy pumpkin?”

When she was finally strapped back in her car seat and we were on the road she declared “I don’t like Pumpkin Patches. I don’t ever want to go again.”

I nodded solemnly. “I hear you, kid. Sorry that was such a bust.”

MJ sighed and stared out the window. There was a long silence. Then she spoke, sounding weirdly like her normal self again.

“You know what, Mama?””

I glanced back, surprised at her cheerful tone. “What?”

“I think I mostly just had a stomach ache. That cookie was pretty bad.”

After that we spoke no more of any of it.

Pressing the pedal down hard, I sped back to the East side. Where I would promptly throw away my Pillsbury swag. And try to forget that such a thing as a Pumpkin Patch ever existed in this world.

Until next year. For hope, like pumpkin bouncies, springs eternal.


Soap Opera

Dishwasher soap should look totally different from the regular, hand washing kind. If it did, I wouldn’t have accidentally poured the latter into my Gaffers & Sattler a couple of nights ago. Poor old appliance. As if being ancient and obsolete wasn’t enough, it’s now stuck midway through a cycle, filled with semi-washed dishes, and clogged with suds.

Fortunately Mike caught my mistake before the entire kitchen floor was flooded.

I looked online for how to deal with this. Turns out there are eight steps! Eight! Four more and I’d be in AA. De-soaping a dishwasher involves towels, a bucket, white vinegar, salt, and God knows what else. I stopped reading after step three. Because who has the time for this?

Still, I bought salt at Fresh and Easy. We needed it anyway. They only had the non-iodized kind. The regular stuff was on sale, and had been cleared out completely. Who waits to buy salt on sale? Is seventy-nine cents really too much to ask? Also, what’s up with the non-iodized thing? Who buys that? Why do they make it?

Most importantly, will it work on a soap-clogged dishwasher? If not, I guess I can always use it to make play dough, since Myra-Jean cannot master the art of re-sealing tupperware. Ergo, every new batch we make dries out in less than 24 hours.

There’s a cup of salt in every batch.

Maybe I’m the one who should be looking for it on sale.

Back to the dishwasher. Here’s what I do know: I have to take all those dishes out and hand wash them. This is depressing, since I’ve already psychologically placed them in the “clean” category. This mental change in status will require major brain rewiring, and probably several extra cups of tea.

And of course I’ll eventually take the eight steps. What choice do I have? I’ll break out the towels, the salt, the eye of newt, whatever. Probably baking soda, too. Everything calls for that. We still have plenty, fortunately–we keep a lot in stock for when Mina attacks a skunk.

The other option is we just stop using the dishwasher.

I’m a genius.

I’m also excessively lazy. Is there a twelve-step program for that?


Cat Got Your Tongue?

Walter is many things. Smart isn’t one of them.

I know, cats aren’t generally known for their perspicacity. Still, even graded on a gentle curve–heck, on a horizontal line–he’s not a bright bulb. I’m not even sure he’s plugged in to the socket.

There’s no other explanation for his behavior. The creature is ridiculously docile. Mellow. Calm. He barely plays. He never runs. He doesn’t like to leap. He just wants to cuddle. Nothing irks him. He gets hauled around by my daughter like a half-poured bag of rice; he never says a word. She uses his paws as pointers when we’re reading books. He purrs. She thinks it’s funny to twist his head like Linda Blair–I can’t tell you how many times I’ve uttered the words “stop choking the cat!” And nothing. Just that droopy-eyed bliss look. Or maybe it’s shock. Either way. He should be standing up for himself. Biting her. Yowling. Hell, I’d understand if he packed up and left in the middle of the night. But no. He’s absurdly forgiving.

Which leads me to believe that he must have hit his head when he was a kitten.

He’s also not eating his wet food. Unless it’s at room temperature, which is a third of the time. If it’s cold? No sir. Guess who’s been getting a lot of left over, semi-ossified veal with green peas? The dog, of course. Who is rapidly starting to see the benefits to this whole cat-ownership thing.

Anyway. I know what you’re thinking. He’s sick. I thought so too. But he has no symptoms. And he’s seven months old. How many illnesses has he had time to accumulate? Do kittens get chronically ill? Is this going to end with us in some feline pediatric unit? With little furry candy stripers?

The adoption lady doesn’t think so. She says he’s probably just adapting. And he may just be calm. As for the food? No problem. If we open a can of tuna and “drizzle the oil on his wet food” he’ll eat. Um, OK. That won’t be expensive. Not to mention, who the hell is going to eat the leftover fish? With mercury levels where they are, we’re only supposed to have it once a year. Was this done for him in his foster home? If so, I wonder what they did with the leftovers. Maybe they just fed him the whole can.

Perhaps this explains Walter’s issues. Mercury poisoning.

Or perhaps it indicates that he’s not so dumb after all.

Whatever the case, he’d better start eating. He’s going to need all of his strength at our house.


Hoop Screams

Who would’ve thunk it? The last vestiges of my sanity, stolen by a hollow, round object with orange and white stripes.

No, not a barber’s pole.

A hula hoop. It’s everywhere. Like the makeup brush, the play money, and a few other things I’ve written about here, it’s become totally ubiquitous. But Jesus. Those other items were small. This is different. You can’t have a hula hoop underfoot. It’s seriously unsafe. And you shouldn’t have to see one all the time. It’s a special treat–like cotton candy. You don’t want to eat it more than once a year.

But that’s exactly what I’m doing. Figuratively speaking. For everywhere I turn, there the damn thing is. Like a dog, but with no tail. Or fur. Or–anyway.

I’ve come to believe that the thing is possessed. It moves of its own volition. I never see Myra-Jean play with it. Never. Yet there it is, on the couch. And now it’s in the bedroom. Oh, hello, asshole hoop in the shower. And today? I found it on the kitchen floor, when yesterday I remember very clearly throwing it behind the dresser.

Because yes, I’ve taken to hiding the damn thing. Not quite being ready to trash it, I drop it, instead, behind large, mid-century pieces of furniture. Usually with a great deal of cantankerous muttering. I know, it’s the vertical equivalent of sweeping it under the rug, but I can’t help myself. I’ve also tried sweeping it under the rug. That doesn’t work either.

If I were a different sort of person I’d drill a hole in the wall, put up a nifty hook, and hang that sucker out of the way. I’d make a laminated label, too. A colorful one. In a cheerful font. “Hulas, etc,” it might say. In case other hoop-like objects came later. And there my striped nemesis would remain, coming down only at appropriate moments. Like a well-behaved object of whimsy should.

But I’m not a hook-maker. And I don’t know how to laminate. I don’t do organized. I try, but certain objects elude me. Like this one.

And most others.

At moments like this–when, say, a hula hoop has become the repository of all of my rage and frustration–I wonder whether it isn’t a good thing that I’ve gone back to work. Because I get crazy. It’s the chaos. I don’t “ride it” well. Staying at home is all chaos. Houses are chaos. Dogs are chaos. Kids are chaos. (They’re also, if they’re almost four, sort of psychotic. But that’s another conversation.)

Suffice it to say, work is the easier place. Yes, I miss MJ when I’m there–it’s like a hole’s been drilled out of my side, cauterized, and stuffed with wet hay–but at least when you pick something up it stays there. Things have places. Also, I get breaks, and wear nice clothes, and, holy Christ, lipstick! Remember that? And best of all, the toilet gets cleaned by someone else.

But tonight I’m here. And as I prepare to curl up with my laptop, and Breaking Bad, and my dear girl sleeping in the next room…the hoop gets a pass. I’ll pick it up tomorrow. Or she will. Or it’ll transport itself to the roof.

One thing that’s guaranteed?

It’ll move.


Dog Gone It

They say you should let sleeping dogs lie. But when it comes to dead ones? I’m afraid the truth will out.

I’ve been avoiding letting MJ skype with my mom and step-father. Their dog Otis died two weeks ago, and I hadn’t found a way to tell her yet.

What’s the connection? It’s simple. Whenever MJ skypes with someone, the first thing she wants is to do is “talk to” their pet. The humans are sort of an afterthought, honestly. It’s the animals she wants to see. A Skype call with my mom and step-father, then, always featured a visit with Otis. Usually passed out on his rug. Still, it was MJ’s favorite part of the call.

But now Otis is gone. MInd you, he lived to a ripe–and then some–old age. By the end he’d grown stiff, deaf, and completely incontinent. Coming with our family to Nova Scotia this summer was his canine swan song–even if he shat in the car the whole way up. His last weeks on earth were happy and sun-soaked, frail and skeletal though he was.

We grownups knew he was at the end. Sometimes, when he was lying in the grass napping, we’d have to shake him lightly to see if he were still alive. It could be quite hard to tell. MJ, who doted upon him, was oblivious. It never occurred to her for a moment that, when she said good bye to him on the morning we flew home, it would be for the last time.

He was put down two days later.

Since then we’ve been agonizing:  to tell her or not? The latter seemed the better choice. With all the changes afoot, it seemed cruel to toss in an additional blow. “We know you’re upset about your mom going back to work, but–remember Otis?”

Finally, though, we broke down. A couple of mornings ago MJ asked, for the third time, to skype with my mom. We’d been putting it off, changing the subject, making excuses, but we knew it couldn’t go on. We lived in the modern world. We couldn’t hide behind a telephone. MJ wanted to see her grandparents. And, even more, their dog. We had to tell her.

Mike and I exchanged meaningful looks. This was going to suck. First of all, it was way too early for such weighty conversations. I’d barely made my first cup of tea. Secondly, Myra-Jean had never known anyone who died before. This was going to hit her hard.

MJ was sitting on the bench next to me. She’d decided to start a puzzle while she waited for the computer to boot up. “So, honey,” I said gently, putting my arm around her, “before we Skype with Nana Bonnie Mike and I need to tell you something.”

Deeply engrossed in her new undertaking, MJ barely looked up. “What?”

Mike, who was standing in the kitchen, took a step closer. In his softest, kindest voice, he said “It’s about Otis.”

“Oh.” She didn’t look up. She was piecing together a picture of a dinosaur. It was standing in flowers and wearing a derby. Hatosaurus.

I nodded at my husband. Let him be the one to break the news.

Mike cleared his throat.”So when animals get very old their bodies slow down.”

“Oh.” Another piece.

“Yeah. And then, well, they get sick, and have problems, and, um, eventually they just, um, pass on.”

I shot him a look. Pass on? She’s going to think it’s a game of hot potato. “He means they die.”

MJ looked up, her face implacable. “Oh.”

I remembered–vaguely–something I’d heard her teacher say. “Die means they stop moving and they never start again.”

“Otis is gone, honey,” Mike added, tenderly. “He won’t be able to Skype with you anymore.”

MJ nodded slowly and looked down at her work. There was only one piece missing. Finding it beneath her leg, she placed it carefully in its spot. We waited, solicitously watching her lowered head. After a moment she looked up.


“Yes, sweetie?” Here it came. The death question. Oh God. OhGodohGodohGod.

MJ smiled. “I am a puzzle genius.”

There was a beat. “But honey. About Otis. How are you with all of that?”

Myra-Jean shrugged. “I’m great.” Hopping down from the table, she began putting her puzzle away. “Can I please have a glass of milk?”

And that was that.

Mike and I are praying it’s developmental and not sociopathic.

In the meantime? Our little genius wants a cat.


Just Desserts

Never again will I write a post entitled “Happy Meal.” Or publicly celebrate an uptick in my satisfaction in any way. It’s clearly too risky.

Here are some of the things that have happened in the last three days:

  • We found out that my husband’s debit card was compromised. But, before we did, the thief got most of the money in our checking account.
  • Our credit union informed us that it would take at least ten days to get said money back. After we filled out their forms. Which we couldn’t, because our printer was broken.
  • We had no money to pay our mortgage, which was now late. I had several tearful and humiliating phone calls with our home loan company. They talked to me like I was a crazy vagabond, and offered no solutions. Only after the third such phone call did they mention that there was a fifteen day grace period. I broke down, sobbed that they were sadists for not telling me sooner, and hung up on them.
  • In a panic, wanting fast money, I sold a stock that Mike later informed me was “the wrong one to let go of.” It’s too late to change it. We won’t get the money for days.
  • I also sold Myra-Jean’s balance bike, because she’s had it for two years and never used it. Plus it was always underfoot. And–ahem–money is money. When Mike heard about this he informed me, ruefully,  that it was a shame. “She was finally really, really into that thing.” I am the asshole mom of the century.
  • I came up with a fundraising scheme for MJ’s school.  It involved gathering used clothes and shoes and selling them to a company I found online. I announced said idea to the community with great fanfare, thinking “I am a genius.” The next day I learned that this company and its ilk are basically destroying Africa.
  • The weather has been hellish. If it were any hotter outside I could dry fruit on our front steps.
  • I got my first paycheck. It barely covered the DWP bill.
  • Our tax return seems to be lost. I wonder if the identity thief got that, too.
  • Doing traffic school online is taking forever. Plus, it has made me paranoid and fearful. I am obsessed with collisions. Everywhere I look I see one about to happen. I pause for so long at stop signs that people drive around me. I peruse other motorists like a gazelle watching for tigers. Everywhere, I see an impending attack. The joy is gone.
  • Because of the above, I have no time to watch “Orange is the New Black.”
  • All of our customers at the store are Chinese. I don’t speak Mandarin. I speak Latin. There are few, if any, ancient Romans looking for high-end jewelry. The result? Veni, vidi, no vici.

Picture 4