Saturday, May 18, 2013

Rue McClanahan or Ru Paul? Adventures in Dress Shopping.


I spent the day looking for a dress to wear to my mother’s wedding.  Aside from bra shopping and trying on swimsuits , I can’t think of any other shopping trips more harmful to my self esteem.

I was hoping to avoid the stores completely.  A couple of months ago I purchased a dress online.  I didn't realize that it would be coming from China.  I have nothing against the Chinese.  I enjoy their food, their checkers and their jump rope.  Yes, I understand most of our clothing is made in china.  This is different than ordering a Chinese garment meant for Chinese people. Here is what I am getting at.  I am a taller than average, size 14.  In China that is called size “Holy Crap!”  Yes, I am an Amazon of epic proportions.  I ordered a size up to be safe. It is pretty and raspberry colored and looked promising when I took it out of the box.  I tried it on and it seemed as if it would fit. Dammit, I hadn’t realized I had ordered a dress with a  side zipper.  I have always had trouble with these little bastards.   Apparently my linebacker rib cage is not compatible with my wee tiny plus size dress. The zipper would not budge, and contrary to popular belief, using every swear word I could think of in a creative way, was of no help.  Back to square one.

The wedding colors are purple, pink and lavender.  I was instructed to choose from the color scheme. Later, my  mother told me that everyone else was going with pastels and urged me to do the same.  I have never been a big fan of pastels.  All it takes is a photo album from 1987 to remind me that light pink is a terrible color on a pasty white girl. Actually that wasn't all it took, but a trip to the fitting room at Macy’s was a good reminder, and a hefty blow to the ego.

I asked the saleslady for help.  She led me to the only lavender dress in stock.  It was perhaps the frumpiest dress I had ever seen.  As far as frump factor, it was one step away from being a house coat. It looked familiar.  I am pretty sure the Rue McClanahan had it in her repertoire.  The saleslady said “I have this one, I would only recommend it if you were about 30 years older” then she turned back and said.  “No scratch that, I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone” 

I realize that this is a gay wedding but I don’t need to walk my mother down the aisle looking like a drag queen. At least my mother is tall, so I won’t feel so gigantic. When I stand next to my adorably petite Japanese mother in law, I feel like Ru Paul or Gulliver or King Kong.  Can you tell I have body image issues? I have been working on that blog post for a while. Stay tuned.

I tried on a few bright purple dresses.  Most of the dresses would be appropriate for the club scene in Miami  or perhaps a bachelorette party in Belltown.  Since I am not "on the prowl" and I am well above legal drinking age, I thought better of it. I am 39 years old.  There has to be some middle ground between Forever 21 and Chicos.  I want to open a store with kick ass clothes for people my age and call it Pushing 40. There will not be sassy mini dress or a practical pant suit in sight.

I recently bought I very cute, hot pink A-line dress so if nothing better comes along, I will make do with that.  I am a bit hesitant.  I haven’t worn that much hot pink since a production of Mame.  My costume was about three sizes to big and three decades too wrong.  I looked like the Kool Aid Man.  If I haven’t burned all the evidence I will post a picture.

It amuses me that the girliest attire that I have ever had to purchase is for my mom’s wedding.  She spent years trying to get me to wear anything BUT dresses.  Wearing a pink dress as a kid was my way of rebelling.  Funny how things have come full circle.  



I just really like this picture...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hot Chocolate and the Growliness of Bears

My kid has two volume levels.  “Off” and “Sam Kinisen”.
She is the kid that quietly grumbles when you instruct her to say hello to someone she has known forever,  but  happily and LOUDLY tells the barista at Tully’s “At my mom and dad’s wedding, I was in my Mama’s tummy!”  At Starbucks, she likes to stand in line by herself while loudly making conversation with anyone who will talk to her and voicing her disappointment in the discontinuation of the raspberry chocolate cake pop.  I know what you’re thinking…that kid drinks a lot of coffee.

It’s not just coffee, yesterday when we went to Trader Joes, she announced to the woman stocking shelves “My mom LOVES wine.  It’s her favorite” and proceeded to point to every bottle with a pretty label shouting“This one is beautiful!  My mom should get this one. It’s very beautiful, huh?  I love this one!!!The blueberries look yucky so we aren't going to buy them” Then we get to the check out line, the checker compliments her shoes, she gives a quiet “Thank You” and hides behind me.  

It’s weird how quiet she gets when people talk to her.  Sometimes she answers and sometimes she hides behind me and sulks. When she isn’t the one initiating conversation she oftentimes turns into Michigan J. Frog. ( the Warner Brother’s Frog that sings his heart out when no one is looking but completely shuts up when he is expected to perform)

For the most part she is well mannered and will say please and thank you and hello and goodbye and gives answers to questions, but beyond that…I have no control over what if anything will come out of her mouth. I fretted about this for a while, because, when I have time to think about things I tend to obsess. Is this some sort of psychological or behavior disorder?  Is this what comes from not breast feeding long enough or eating brie and soft serve when I was pregnant?   Then it dawned on me. Oddly,  I am exactly the same way.  I can be loud and outgoing and chatty but sometimes when people talk to me or I am put on the spot, I feel tongue tied and self conscious.  Sometimes I tell people way too much and sometimes I keep to myself.  Why should my four year old be any different?  So with that little piece of self-reflection, I decided to just sit back and enjoy this bizarre 4 year old that sprung from my loins.  (I can’t believe I typed that, I hate that phrase…I should probably edit that out).  

As a parent I can instill manners and appropriate words but beyond that.  I have no control over when and what she chooses to talk about   (Wait, I also hate when people say “As a parent”..So I should edit that out too…but I want to tell you that I hate that phrase, so I guess I have to keep that in” Hmm, I wonder where my kid’s strange stream of consciousness comes from J(Did I just type  a smiley face?!)
When I take her to a public bathroom she has to loudly narrate the whole experience, including her thoughts on automatic flushing toilets, how pretty the shoes are in the stall next to hers, and completely random conversational piece. A conversation goes much like yesterday’s.  “

My Kid: (from the stall) I got the toilet paper myself, Mom I really don’t like hot chocolate…bears are really growly..aren’t  they growly mom? 

Me: (from outside the stall) Yup they are growly, can you use a quieter voice I am right here.

My Kid: (Just as loud)They aren’t REALLY growly though, they are just a little bit growly.

Me: Yes, they are a little bit Growly

My Kid:  No mom they are REALLY growly.  They are bears! (To the woman in the next stall) I really like your shoes.

Me: Are you done in there?

My Kid: 
Yeah, I was done a long time ago.

So, we were just hanging out in the Fred Meyer Bathroom discussing hot chocolate and the growliness of bears, while people waiting in line either thought she was precious or wanted to throttle her (and me) for holding up the line.  

The "cute shoes" woman from the stall is now washing her hands next to my kid and says “I like your shoes too”  I expect my kid to shuffle behind me and grumble a quiet “Thanks”

“Thank you!  My mom is going to buy strawberries if they don’t look yucky. Last time they were REALLY yucky and they costed a lot of money.  I LOVE strawberries that aren’t yucky. They are my favorite except blueberries.  The blueberries at Trader Joes were really yucky though"

I never know what’s going to happen.  I guess that’s parenthood in a nutshell.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I Met My Husband On Craigslist


I met my husband at church…I mean  on the internet.  Even shadier, we met on Craigslist.  It wasn’t a seedy casual encounters type meet-up.  I had placed an ad on “Women Seeking Men”  My friends had been bugging me to try internet dating for a long time.  Turns out working long hours in educational theatre is not a great way to meet a straight man…or make money…or maintain sanity. It was New Year’s Day and I decided to place an ad, something witty with no picture.  My friends assured me that I wouldn’t get any responses without a photo.  I wasn’t trying to prove them wrong, it was sort of the opposite.  If I didn’t get any responses I could throw up my arms and fall back on my usual “Hey I tried.  There are no single men out there” 

I posted my ad. My expectations were low.  I don’t remember the exact wording but it may have included phrases such as “I think camping is like choosing to be homeless” and “I am not a fan of clubbing, unless it involves baby seals”  Of course I was joking…well about the baby seals part.  I still hate camping.  I blame that on being raised by outdoorsy lesbians. I also hate Home Depot and cinder block furniture.  But those are issues for my next therapy session…er..blog post. By the next morning my ad (sans photo) had garnered over 200 replies.  Sure, many of them were spam, dick pics and those who I had angered with my baby seals comment. Let me reiterate, I am not in favor of clubbing baby seals.  I am in favor of weeding out guys with no sense of humor and/or those that are easily offended.  We would not be a match.  I received some bizarre notes that probably came from Prison or the Western State hospital, but hey.  Craigslist is free and none of your student’s parents are going to find you by skimming the profiles on Match.com.

I met a lot of men.  I met great guys.  I also met flakes and liars and had a brief relationship with a very charming man that neglected to mention his WIFE.  I met computer guys, salesmen, a scientist, a dryer repairman, a couple writers, a couple bartenders, an electrician, and architect.  Like I said…I met a lot of men.  I was often invited back to homes to watch “The Notebook” I’m not kidding. I guess I should be honored that they were willing to sit through “The Notebook” for the shot at maybe getting some action.  They were clearly dating the wrong woman. 

Mark was a computer guy.  He seemed nice enough.  His picture was not a mugshot, No girls were cropped out of it and he had a nice smile.  He had mentioned his love of musical theatre so I figured he was either gay or trying to get laid. On our first meeting he discussed Dungeons and Dragons so I quickly determined he was straight and most likely not trying to get laid. He told me about his son (So despite his interest in role playing games, he actually did have experience with the opposite sex)He told me of his immense love for  The Little Mermaid and all but offered to be my date for opening night of my junior high production of Bye Bye Birdie. Who was this guy? Obviously he was too good to be true so after three lovely dates, I dumped him.

It was tacky.  I did it in an email.  I was seeing someone else and it was getting moderately serious and I wasn’t comfortable with this whole casual dating thing.  I met all of these men right around the same time, due to the ad and I wasn’t quite sure how to navigate the waters.  Mark was super nice, which almost made it worse.  He understood and said he really liked me and wished me well. Long story short, I found out the other guy was married.  My heart was broken, I had screwed things up with Mark and that was it.  I was giving up.  I would grow old,  surrounded by cats, drinking Sanka and watching Matlock.


Fast forward a couple of months. My building didn’t allow cats, I lacked cable, and I don’t think they even sell Sanka anymore,  I decided to try Match.com.  I filled out my profile, paid my money and officially joined.  Seconds later Mark pops up as a 100% match.  What the?! Well who am I to argue with the extremely scientific findings of a paid dating site.  It was practically God speaking, right? I swallowed my pride, ate some crow and whatever other cliché seemed to fit and I emailed him.  He was incredibly kind about everything.  We went to see an Opera. He was my opening night date for Bye Bye Birdie and after a couple more dates he invited me back to his house to watch Dr. Stranglelove.

I have never seen the Notebook.

Monday, March 4, 2013

My Kid Watches TV


My kid watches TV.  I can’t be in the minority.  I was planning to be the mom that made organic baby food, spent the days doing art projects and teaching my child Mandarin.  She would only play with wooden toys  and have an interest in classical music. Then I actually had a child.  I realized the only Mandarin  I was familiar with were the  highly sweetened canned segments of oranges that I dump into a bowl for my daughter. 

 I was never all that against TV, until my pediatrician, Parents magazine, and the Bitchtastic Brigade of Smug Mommies  (BBSM)  pointed out the damage that is being done from letting my kid watch Little Bill while I sneak in a shower.  So when my pediatrician asked me if my child watches television after already telling me that she shouldn’t, I did what probably most of her patients do.  I came clean and admitted the error of my ways. 
 Just kidding. 
 I lied.  
I panicked, it  is as if someone said, If your child eats strawberries, They are going to hell and you are a horrible monster of a mother for letting her eat them. Apparently you haven’t read the latest research that states that strawberries are filled with demon seeds and you and your family will all die a painful fiery death and rot on the bowels of hell for all eternity..  
“You don’t let your child eat strawberries do you?” 
Uh…um…of course not.

So yes, my child watches TV and yes, I have lied about it.  It’s not like I sit her in front of Maury Povich with a Mountain dew and a bag of Cheetos while I play online poker…or update my blog.  She usually watches something vaguely educational while I make dinner or check my email or take a shower or update my Facebook status.  She doesn’t bug me for the newest crappy sparkle toy or some diabetic coma cereal.  She rarely sees television commercials because Netflix streaming and Amazon Prime allow us to watch episodes of her favorite shows without being bombarded by ads for Pillow Pets and Gogurt.

She has mastered the remote control with only few problems thus far.  She wanted to turn on Strawberry Shortcake and I returned to the living room to find her watching Comedy Central’s Roast of David Hasselhoff.   No harm was done, though someday Lisa Lampanelli and Seth MacFarlane may come up in therapy.  

I’m not saying that TV is a good substitute for playing or socializing, and I certainly wouldn’t let her watch as much TV as I consumed as a child.  As a six year old I knew every episode of The Carol Burnett show by heart and couId probably give you a pretty good summary of each episode of Barney Miller, All in the Family or Laverne and Shirley.  Little House on the Prairie was my home away from home.  I spent so much time with the Ingalls family, they probably could have filed for custody.  

But I digress, I am just here to admit that I let my kid watch TV, I’ve lied about it, and she accidentally watched the David Hasselhoff roast. Does that make me a bad mother?  Probably not.   I mean, If my kid doesn’t watch any TV, how is she ever going to win trivia contests?  How is she going to make clever pop culture references?! How am I ever gonna get a shower?! 

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Only One Laughing...

Do moms have their sense of humor removed after giving birth or do I just end up in conversations with people that I normally wouldn't have had any reason to talk to? Now that my daughter is four, and I do know some other parents with a sense of humor, I believe it's the latter.

Recently, I was on a tour of an elementary school that my daughter may or may not go to in another year and a half (Whoa, Hey little old procrastinating self...thinking ahead!) Each tour guide took about ten parents and showed them around.  One of the moms asked about music instructions and the tour guide, we'll call her Jill. (hmm, that might actually be her name) replies "Oh, yes.  My son has learned to play the Tuba.  Or as I call it...'The Ovary Shriveler' " I laughed out loud, nearly spitting my coffee.  I, as is often is the case, was the only one laughing.  Parents exchanged uncomfortable glances as if Jill had just said "I eat babies on skewers for lunch" I continued the tour, knowing right then and there, that I wanted Jill to be my new best friend.
I am usually "Jill"
I got to thinking, Don't any of these people have a sense of humor?  Is it parenthood that does this?  Is it the subject matter?  Does having a laugh about children make them feel like horrible people? Do Crocs really come in that color?

I never thought about these things until my child was born.  I found other moms uptight but I chalked it up to the lack of sleep, post partum issues, and being the constant recipient of child rearing advice. In one small group of mommies, everyone shared why they chose to have a child, when it was my turn I said "carpool" ...cricket...cricket.  wrong crowd for baby jokes.  As usual when people don't get my sense of humor, I keep going until I have completely alienated myself.  When discussing Halloween costumes, I shared my brilliant idea of a "Dingo Ate My Baby" costume, A dingo costume with just a baby's head peaking out of the mouth.  Seriously, I can't believe no one has made one of these! Someone should steal my idea and sell it on Etsy, I am way to lazy. The other mommies of course looked at me as if I had personally fed my newborn to a dingo.  I should have realized that any group with the word "Mommy" in it wasn't really my scene.

I shouldn't have been surprised.  If my waste of time childbirth class had prepared me for anything it should have been dealing with humorless people.  Mark and I were like the delinquents making jokes in the back of class.  The first exercise was to breathe while holding a bag of ice.  "To teach you to focus, while doing something uncomfortable"  I remember being in labor, writhing in pain, yelling to Mark "Yup This is just like holding a bag of f^&*ing  bag of ice" My favorite parts of childbirth class were the terrible DVD's they had us watch. The advice was to comfort your partner with a familiar object and maybe sing a soothing song.  When the dude with the porn stache was comforting his mulleted wife by holding up a picture of their cat and singing "She'll be comin' round the mountain when she comes" I nearly went into labor from laughing my face off...but come on!  It was funny?  Why wasn't anyone else laughing?...Ok, Mark was laughing.  I love him for that.

So, finally, Here is my point.   Nope never mind.  I don't have one.  I do however have a sense of humor, it may not be anyone elses cup of tea, but I think life is funny as hell. Being a parent is amazing, and exhausting, and fabulous and annoying and you might as well get some material and  comic relief out of it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Confessions of the Fru-gal


I am cheap.  I admit it.  I was cheap before it was chic.  I was cheap before extreme couponing.  I was cheap before internet shopping.  It’s almost an obsession.  If I were  a super hero I would be the Fru-gal.  My grandmother used to get irritated with me for telling people how much I paid for something.  She was a Nordstrom shopper.  I would go to Ross and score a kicky pair of boots and tell everyone they only cost 9 dollars on clearance. Yeah, I mean everyone.  Someone says nice boots and I can’t just answer Thank you.  I have this overwhelming need to tell them not only where I bought it but how much I paid.   I wore those boots as a badge of honor. The less I pay for something the more I value it.  I know there is no way I can replicate my find and therefore treasure my frugal acquisition.

Let me just say.  I don’t buy something just because it’s cheap.  If I did that I would be swimming in paisley poly blend TJ Maxx pant suits and “ imperfect” Delta Burke undergarments…and one should never swim in a pant suit…

I love cute cheap dresses and the discount stores are straight and to the point.  I go to the dress section, I go to my size and leaf through a hundred hideous wastes of fabric and occasionally find something to my liking. It’s rare that I find something  but sometimes I am lucky and move on to the next step.

I have to pretty much be in love with something to advance to the next step… the dreaded dressing room.  This is the place where surly women look you up and down with more scrutiny than TSA.  They count and recount your items and hand you a plastic number which is your ticket to enter a tiny little poorly lit room that smells vaguely like onions…and goat.  If you can manage to look halfway decent under the life draining light that is usually reserved for public schools and insane asylums then you know you have a winning item.

Next stop…the line.  This is the time to check my phone…or pretend to check my phone.  I am one of those people, despite all body language to the contrary that people feel the need to engage in conversation.  My cell phone is my best friend in situations like this. There should be one button that you push without having to look that just makes your phone ring.  I’m sure there is an app for that. The line looks painfully long but they are fast and you make it to the front just at the time where every customer needs a price check and half of the cashiers are on break. You wait awkwardly for someone to say next and the anxiety builds as you don’t want to be that one person, spacing out on your phone while the harried cashier is repeatedly shouting “Next person in line” and the people behind you are trying to decide whether to tap you on the shoulder or hope that you snap out of your cellphone coma. Yes.  I stress about these things.  It’s finally your turn…

In Seattle you are expected t have a reusable bag at every moment, your lack of planning results in butterfly effect where the sound of a cashier’s eye roll somehow causes a poor Venezuelan farmer to step off his path resulting in the death of a Chinese factory worker…or something like that. I pay my 5 cent bag tax and hope that my paper bag doesn’t disintegrate on the 8 block walk home. Upon exiting,  I smile at the security guard suddenly very self-conscious of every move I make, even though I have done nothing wrong.  I stand up straight, as if he is going to search my bags because of poor posture.
I’m out.
I made it.
It was not emotionally scarring as an afternoon at Build A Bear
So you see.  It’s not just the money saved.  I went thru battle!…well  maybe not “battle”  but certainly a “middle class white people inconvenience”  for my 12 dollar bargain. I’ll do it again.  Over and over.  I am a glutton for punishment and a sucker for a deal.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Baking Brownies with a Four Year Old in 25 Easy Steps.


1. Decide to make brownies with your four year old daughter! You have seen pictures of this mother daughter bonding experience in Parenting magazine and everyone looks so dang happy!


2. Leaf thru cookbooks and guide your child away from the Buche de Noel and towards the brownie with sprinkles.



3. Remove child from the kitchen while you prepare all of the ingredients for easy four year old assembly (try to ignore the fact that you could have finished mixing everything and had it in the oven by the time you are done ”organizing”)


4. Remind your child to wash her hands.


5. Send her back to try again. With soap.


6. Smell hands and send protesting four year old back to try again.


7. Announce that if she keeps pouting there will be no baking.


8. Secretly hope that she continues pouting.


9. Help her with the pink side of the double sided apron, “Not the other side because we used the other side last time and not the owl one because the owl one is blue and doesn’t have any pink on it and pink is better”


10. Preheat oven, mix a bunch of ingredients together, pour into baking dish.


11. Explain to her that she can't try the batter because it contains raw egg.


12. Apply sprinkles.


13. Send child back to the bathroom to wash her hands after licking a handful of sprinkles off of her palm.


14. Eat some batter while she is washing her hands.


15. Finish sprinkles and put back in the oven to bake.


16. After unsuccessfully convincing your child to leave the kitchen so you can clean up, teach the insistent young one how to scrub a bowl.


17. Wipe up the dish water from the floor, the counters, the clock and the wall calendar.


18. Have the following conversation

Child: is it done yet?
You: Not yet.
Child: (In exasperated tones) When is it EVER going to be ready.
You: 18 more minutes.




19. Repeat step 18, only changing the number of minutes. Do this 17 times.




20. Remove brownies from the oven and set them out to cool.




21. Have the following conversation.

Child: Is it done yet?
You: It needs to cool down.
Child: But it’s taking for a LONG time. How many minutes?
You: 10 minutes.Repeat step 12. Do this 5 times. Give up.




22. Mangle the too hot sprinkle brownies while digging out a piece so that your child can have a taste.




23. Congratulate yourself on taking the time and effort to make memories with the child that is whining and crying because she has burned her tongue on a hot mess of brownie.




24. Swear that you will never do this again, until you tuck your kid in for nap and she says “Mama, I love baking with you, we should do this all the time” Smile and realize it is all worthwhile.




25. Have a brownie...and a drink.