Thursday, July 31, 2008

In Case of an Emergency

For reasons that I don't fully understand, I am the fire warden for our floor at work. I think it's because when they came to do the fire drill and said "Who can volunteer to be a fire warden?" no one said anything and to break the awkward silence, I raised my hand. It's a good thing that the local executioner was not around to ask who wanted to try the brand new noose, because apparently I will do anything to avoid an awkward silence. You were saying?

But if anything, GODFORBID, should happen, I am responsible for safely evacuating the people on our high rise floor. Between you and me, I'd just as soon that everyone stayed home, to be on the safe side.

There are many, many things wrong with my being in any kind of charge in an emergency situation. For starters, my first response is always "do I have a cyanide pill?" Which is insane because of course I don't, it's not like I've been meaning to get the cyanide prescription refilled and it's just been slipping my mind. I do this because I saw Titanic where the mother gives her kids cyanide pills so that they wouldn't have to drown, or so that she could enjoy a nice quiet dinner, the details are fuzzy now. But really? If my emergency response comes from Titanic, don't you think that someone else should be in charge?

I already told everyone that I work with that in an emergency, they're on their own and I wish them the best, but I'll be running down the stairs, screaming my head off and trampling everyone in my way.

They know this. They know that my nerves are pre-shot. For example, they are under strict instructions, in case I ever get stuck in the elevator, to tell the rescue workers that the woman trapped inside is twelve months pregnant, most likely with the Messiah. First or Second coming, in deference to the rescuer's beliefs. I want special treatment. I want recognition of my panic.

It's unfortunate that I am so scared of elevators because I both live and work in high rise buildings and since I need a lot of nourishment throughout the day, I have to go up and down a lot. Yes, I considered using the stairs, but I am also lazy and not insane, so I quickly dismissed that option. (Although remind me to tell you about the time that the elevator in my apartment building was out of service and I ran down to the store for some necessaries and then forgot that the elevator was out of service and bought a watermelon the size of a post term baby elephant. Oh. I guess I told you that story. But I can tell it again, with flourish. Just say the word!)

I am an elevator bitch in the sense that as soon as I get on one, my normally sunny personality gets transformed. I just want to get the hell off, I don't want to get stuck, I'm busy holding my breath so that my exhaling doesn't disturb the elevator maintenance. I don't want to make small talk, I don't want to overhear small talk and I sure as shit don't want to overhear anyone's cell phone conversation, especially if it consists of, "yeah, I'm in the elevator. I may lose service. You still on? Wow, really? Still? I was sure the sure there would be no service. HELLO? Oh, I thought I lost you. Anyway, yeah, no, I'm still in the elevator, can't believe I still haven't lost you. Listen, hold on, omesay itchbay isway ivinggay emay away irtyday ooklay." Seriously? If you need to maintain contact with someone telephonically while you're in the elevator, start Googling "life, how to get one".

I also confess to being the type of person to do the fake "I'm pressing the DOOR OPEN button" move when someone is running for a departing elevator. It's true, more often than not, I'm pounding on the DOOR CLOSE button at that very moment, while saying "open, doors, open!" But I never understood why people dash for the elevator as though it is their one and only chance at happiness.

And the thing that makes me the most insane? If you are a woman in the elevator with three men, watch as they let you off first in the show of chivalry, but then hang back a little and watch them do the whole "no, after you" dance to each other, which I am convinced they do to parade their masculinity. Like whoever gets off last is the most masculine. Take that sentence as you will.

So, yeah, you don't want me around in case of an emergency. Although I suppose it's fortunate that in case of emergency, we know to avoid elevators.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wednesday Wonderings.

Am I the only one who thought that the umbilical cord connected the baby's belly button to the mother's belly button? Apparently, it does not.

Why do veterinarians put the pet's name in quotes? Like "Mavis". As though Mavis wasn't really her name and we all just agreed to call her that as some inside joke?

Has any conversation, in the history of humankind, improved when someone says "Wow, you really have PMS!"

Does anyone know anyone named Dolores? Because I suspect that the name is extinct.

Let me know if there is anything that you've been wondering. Or if you have answers to my questions.

The Citizen of the Month Great Interview Experiment

Recently, I participated in The Citizen of the Month The Great Interview Experiment., and was interviewed by Jack. Check it out! And let Jack know your favorite question/answer! Thanks, Jack, for not asking me for the recipe for Coke or anything like that. Because that would have been awkward!

(Limited) Words Wednesday

So apparently I'm carrying a camera around is so that I can take photographs of garbage. This should come handy in my future career in dumpster diving.

I have no idea where this two seater came from or who positioned it there, but when I saw it, I immediately recognized it as a fine place to sit on a hot summer day and sip a beer through a straw. And yes, I do plan on working that into as many posts as possible, why do you ask?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Available for Bar Mitzvahs and Weddings

My husband and I have no musical talent, so our kids are trying to redeem the family name by taking piano lessons. My daughter has finally graduated to something classical, and she's been working on Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring which sounds vaguely homoerotic and also is "Jesu" Jesus' nickname or something? Because it seems really informal to me. But the piece also has some kind of biochemical effect on me and it makes me feel very depressed. The good news is that the melancholy-inducing notes are interspersed with her piercing "Oh GOD! How much longer do I have to practice?" cries every thirty seconds. All things considered, I'd rather she keep banging away at Jingle Bells, but I'm worried that if I ask the piano teacher for something more upbeat, he'll immediately start blogging about how some parents of the kids he teaches are huge morons. And I have a reputation to protect, after all.

My son has been playing A Happy Song, which really sounds like something you'd play while recovering from a nervous breakdown, but hey, happy is good! Except he edited the title a little, to "A Dumb Song". And then he caught me laughing at it, which is pretty much a guarantee that he will work in "dumb" into every song title from now on. Jesu help me.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Allow Me

So the current parenting wisdom is that we should give our kids an allowance to teach them financial planning. Since I am still teaching my kids to chew with their mouths closed and thoroughness in butt-wiping, it seems like this is kind of advanced, but I'm willing to play along.

Here's the premise: You give your kids the same amount every week, with the understanding that they spend a third, save a third and give a third to charity. Assuming that your kids understand the concept of fractions, the question remains--what fresh hell is this? A third to charity? Doesn't that violate the Bible's tithing rule of 10%? Isn't a third literally holier than thou?

Besides, when I approached my daughter with this idea, her charity of choice was homeless pets. What about homeless, you know, people? Pets are cuter, she said. If only the homeless people on our block would spruce themselves up a little, I bet they'd be fucking adorable. And really? Is she getting a deduction for the charitable contribution? Because if part of this financial planning is tax advice as well, then I'm in way over my head. I feel like without some tax planning advice, my kids are just getting hosed on this charity racket.

So, we're with the save half, spend half program. Except, what the hell do they spend their money on? We pay the mortgage, we pay for their food, and occasionally we throw in some clothes. What other expenses are there?

This weekend, as I was buying light saber number 3 and Webkinz number 34, I decided that my kids need to spend their own money on crap. "Crap" is defined by anything that I think is crap. I've learned a few things from our current President, you know.

You'd think that this would solve all problems, but this is where you are just parading your naivete and childlike innocence to the blogosphere.

First of all my kids think that this is REALLY UNFAIR. I don't blame them, they've had a free ride so far, so this is a bit of bait and switch. Good thing for me that they don't have a say in it.

Second, they want to renegotiate their allowance. So far, my daughter's been getting $10 week and my son has been getting $20 a month, because, in his wisdom, he really likes $20 bills. This weekend they realized that this will not allow them to continue living in the style to which they have become accustomed. My daughter wants a raise to $20 a week and my son wants a raise to $1 million a week, although he conceded that he would take a $1 million a month in this economy. So far negotiations are not progressing well.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for an increase in allowance, if they'd just pull their weight around here a little more. And at 50 and 70 pounds, respectively, it shouldn't be that hard. As with anything that intuitively makes sense to me, this parental version of arms for hostages does not get the modern parenting seal of approval. Apparently, you should not give your kids an allowance as a reward for doing chores, but rather they should do chores because they are members of the family and they get an allowance because they are members of the family and also because you are teaching them financial planning. Is it me, or does that sound like total crap? Because I don't care how dim witted your kid is, one thing he will zero in on is the chores/allowance connection. And he will unionize, if necessary and optimize the allowance earning potential.

So, we're muddling along. The kids have retained counsel to represent them in these discussions. I hear he's working on contingency, a third of their allowance. Hey, I figure it's either lawyers or homeless pets.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Soul Mates

Me: Guess what? There are like five people who read my blog almost every day! My blog is really taking off!

Husband: That's great. I hope that it does take off.

Me: Why?

Husband: Because it's an inexpensive way to keep you amused.

Because before I started blogging, I was all polo ponies this and cricket that.

I am a 7 Year Old Boy

Yesterday morning I went to Dunkin' Donuts. It's not important why I went. Anyway, the man in front of me was ordering and said "I want a large number 2." Now, I knew that you could Order by the Numbers at Dunkin' Donuts, but still I could not stop laughing.

Number 2! and a Large Number 2 at that!

By the way, my son told me that Number 3 was diarrhea and Number 4 was vomit. Yes, these are the highbrow discussions that we have at our house, but really, how long can you talk discuss Nietzche before everyone's going around in circles?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Week In Review

Disclaimer: Ok, I am new to the blogging world, and I live in constant terror of stealing someone's idea/post/husband. So, let me just say upfront that today's post was inspired by Wendi Aarons' hysterical Highlights of Last Week post. She doesn't know that I'm linking her, so I'll keep you posted (get it? POSTed? oh, don't tell me other bloggers have made this joke!) if there is any litigation. But I mean how could there be, she starts her week on a Monday and I start mine on Saturday. Like the Chosen.


I come to terms with the fact that my husband and I are televisionally incompatible when after watching America's Most Wanted he falls into a peaceful sleep and I stay up for the rest of the night counting the children, quadruple checking that all the doors/windows are locked and contemplating calling the hotline to report various neighbors with reward-fetching feature$.


Visit my husband's 200 year old aunt in the nursing home. Immediately upon returning home, I update my Living Will.


Vacationing -with- us -for-July inlaws leave to go back home. Mother-in-law tells me that she made meatballs and told the kids that she was freezing a few and that if "mommy ever makes dinner that you don't like, you can request the meatballs." She tells me that she thinks it will be "fun" to see how long it will take them to ask for the meatballs. Apparently it takes twelve minutes as the kids announce their preference for dinner while having breakfast.


I have physical therapy for my TMJ. It's basically massage therapy, but saying "physical therapy" makes it sound more medicinal and necessary. The scented oils and soothing music are also strictly prescribed by the Surgeon General.


It is entirely possible that I have read too many BlogHer'08 recaps.


Wake up to thunder, lightening and locust. Rejoice in the fact that it's husband's turn to take kids to camp in the inclement weather. As part of the rejoicing festivities, forget my umbrella and sport the Drowned Rat Look all day at work.


Plan to bring a dozen Dunkin' Donuts to the office as a way of apologizing to co-workers for my unpleasant personality throughout the week. Wonder if I will get the same donut lady who sold me the dozen last Friday and asked me whether the twelve donuts were "to stay or do go?". Fume that one week later, I still do not have a good retort. Vow to come back every week until I have a good comeback to that. Devote life to coming up with comeback.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Maybe Not

Back when I started this blog, you know, a month ago, I thought that I would carry my camera around with me all the time and take pictures of interesting things that I've seen and then post it on my blog and viola, instant post and instant fun. And what is better than instant fun? And don't say instant mashed potatoes, because I was just starting to like you. I even had visions of participating in those Wordless Wednesday memes dancing around in my head, except I kept thinking of them as Wordless Wednesday Mimes, which made more sense to me anyway.

I even thought that because I live in NYC and constantly have celebrity sightings, I would ask the celebrity if I could please take a picture, they would be charmed by my politeness and would not only agree but befriend me, or at the very least would offer to babysit my kids or something. Because one polite turn deserves another.

The only glitch with the plan is that after a month of carrying the camera around, the beer can was the most interesting thing that I'd seen. The other glitch is that for some reason my camera weighs approximately 13,968 pounds and I was nearly paralyzed from carrying it.

So, last weekend, I ventured out without it. Well, in strict adherence with Murphy's Law, I suppose that it could have been worse. I mean, JFK didn't get re-assassinated right in front of me, so that's something to be thankful for. But I did see Bebe Neuwirth in a drug store. And not only did I see her, I saw her when she and I and my daughter were the only people waiting in line and there was a lot of silence and boredom and I totally could have asked her for a photo. But then, standing in line behind her, I remembered that I was celebrity-phobic, ever since I worked at a gallery that had celebrity traffic. After a particularly humiliating episode of staring at Mia Sara , I decided to play it super cool when future famous people came in. And I put to practice when Mel Brooks, and his wife, both wearing sunglasses, came into the gallery. I proceeded to ignore Mel Brooks entirely and focus on his wife, because I was certain that as Mel Brooks' wife she was used to standing in his shadows, while he basked in attention and adoration. I made small talk with her like small talk has never been made before. No aspect of the weather, no platitude went unremarked upon. And of course it was only after she ran for cover, I mean, left the gallery, that someone asked me, "so what were you and Anne Bancroft talking about?".

So there you have it. Anne Bancroft is the reason that I will never approach celebrities and that this blog will never have pictures of anything other than beer cans. I'm sorry.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

He's Here All Week!

Scene: Kid bedtime in the Marinka household. I just poured myself a beer, when I hear my seven year old summoning me to "say something important". I set the beer down and hope that what he has to tell me is something quick, along the lines of "what is the meaning of life?" to which I can cheerily reply, "Who the hell knows?" as opposed to something elaborate like, "Why is the lady who used to be Carly on General Hospital now portraying a totally different character?"

I appear in his room. Julianne Moore could play me in this scene, if you're the visual type who needs the characters cast in order to appreciate the blog more. My son is being played by that kid in The Omen. The adorable one.

Me: You rang?

Kid: I have a joke, actually two, but one of them is inappropriate.

Me: Ok.

Kid: How do you spell "Icup"?

Me: What is "Icup"?

Kid: It's you, that's also a cup.

Me: What?

Kid: Just, how do you spell it?

Me: I-c-u-p.

Kid: doubled over in laughter

Me: What?

Kid: I...see.. you... pee...

Me: Is this the inappropriate joke?

Kid: Yes.

Me: Did you make it up yourself?

Kid: Yes.

Me: Good night.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Here's the thing: Unless you're Martin Luther King, Jr., no one cares about your dream. And more than being apathetic, they actively hope and pray that you don't tell them about your dream. It's not that they don't love you (although keep telling them your dreams and watch this factor come into play), it's that other people's dreams are really, really boring. And they don't make sense. And they are boring.

Yesterday my son started telling me his dream that seemed to involve a tough guy or beheadings and I was making my "I'm listening" face, which incidentally is identical to my "I'm trying to see the tips of my eyelashes" face, but inside I was thinking, "Does this dream have an end? Is he still talking? My God, how many words do seven year olds know, anyway? His mouth is still moving. He's chewing, right? Maybe he's just chewing. But there is also sound. Stop. Talking. Stop. SHUT UP ALREADY." And this is my child, who I love and who is precious to me. So you can imagine what it's like if a semi-precious co-worker starts regaling me with stories of dream super powers.

And yet, I've been there. I've had a dream that was so exciting, intricate and real that I absolutely had to share it with someone. More than one someone. And I've tried various tricks to keep the person interested. And now, for no extra charge, I will share them with you.

Marinka's Top Ten Tips for Telling a Victim About Your Dream

1. Pick your target carefully. I cannot stress this enough. Generally speaking, there are only two types of people who do not mind listening to dreams: Analysts (Freudian, preferably) and prostitutes. And sometimes the latter have standards, so I can't make any guarantees. If you are on a budget, and neither of those two is an option, try to make sure that your dream-recipient falls into one of the following categories: asleep/comatose, does not speak English, listening to an Ipod with eyes closed. This will minimize any annoyance that you may inadvertently inflict.

2. Make sure your victim has a drink in his/her hand. Be prepared to say "the next one's on me," whenever you come to an end of the sentence. Do not be alarmed by how quickly the other person is draining the drinks. It only looks like they are doing martini shots.

3. Make sure all the exits out of the room are secured.

4. Leg irons and handcuffs never hurt anyone, either.

5. Do not under any circumstances ask, "want to hear my dream?" Instead, segue into it like this: "I had a dream about you last night, it was great!" Everyone loves to hear about themselves, so you will be able to drone on about how in your dream you looked just like Christy Turlington, but not as flaky and Matt Damon was really in love with you, but you couldn't commit to him because he was shorter than you. Then, when you're nearing the end, add "oh, yeah, then you walked by and you looked fantastic. I think you had a tan."

6. Never say, "Oh, I forgot about this part, let me back up." That expression can turn a murder into "justifiable homicide".

7. You know how your English teacher told you that the details make the story? Don't start listening to her now.

8. You may think that it's best to tell your dreams to someone who is in the habit of telling you theirs. This is retaliatory dream telling and is a common mistake among novices. If you do that, you are just perpetuating a cycle that has no end. You must eliminate the dream tellers from your life, or engage them in a more professional relationship (see Item 1, above). Do not talk to these people. I repeat, do not. (Also, if you are sitting there minding your own business and someone says, "so, how did you sleep? Have any interesting dreams?" do not fall for it. They don't give a shit about your dreams and as soon as you pause for air, they'll jump into with their own snoozer. Ward it off at the head. "Dream? I read that only psychotic animal abusers remember their dreams." Kills several birds with one stone, if you ask me.)

9. Have band aids on hand in case your victim's ears start to bleed.

10. Never do "dream sequels". That's when you re-target the same victim and say, "remember that dream I told you the other day? Well, I had a follow-up dream last night!" Because just the other night I had a dream that someone started to do that to me, and boy was it annoying. It's a good thing that I looked just like Uma Thurman in it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

OhMyGod, I created this post completely by mistake and now I can't get rid of it! Read the one below! Ignore this one! Sorry!

Ok, since this is up, here's my question: Is it inappropriate to impose a 5:30 bedtime on my kids today? Because, really? I could go to bed right now.

Beep? Burp.

When I first moved into my very own apartment, on the Upper East Side, no less, in the early 1990s, I couldn't figure out how to get things done. Like, how was I supposed to be at work and at the same time have the window cleaning guy come to wash my windows? Certainly I couldn't leave him in the apartment alone, because you know, he could steal my perfume and hide in my closet and dismember me later that night. Which now that I think about it, seems like a fair trade for clean windows, but I did not have this wisdom back then.

So, I solved that problem in a way that I've solved most problems in my life--I asked my parents for help and and mama said that she would stay at my apartment and guard my Soap Opera Digest and Ravioli Maker and possibly save my life.

Sadly, mama and the window guy did not hit it off. I think it was because window guy assumed that mama, since she spoke with an accent, was the cleaning lady. I'm sure the fact that she read a magazine while he worked made him think that she was a really lazy cleaning lady to boot. Mama, for her part, didn't take to the window guy because he was drunk. I can't remember now what the tell tale signs of inebriation were, but for argument's sake, let's say that it was a Budweiser can with a straw in his back pocket.

He washed all the windows except for the kitchen windows and when she asked him to do that one too, he refused. "Why?" she asked. "Because I'm tired, that's why," he said. And maybe burped.

What I love about this is that I think we've all been there. Don't want to do something--home, work, wherever because we're tired. No fancy excuse necessary. No explanation. Tired.

Which leads me to my update about my efforts to get a driver's license. I have the social security card, but still no learner's permit. I didn't even look at the DMV site this week to go over the sample questions. Why? Because I'm tired. And if you give me enough time, drunk.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008


Sometimes my husband and I have different perspectives regarding our children. For example, if in response to "so, children, do you have a dog?" my son will say: "Yes, her ashes are in the closet," my gut says that it's time for a new, less cremated dog. My husband, on the other hand, maintains that our son was just answering the question. A typical Q&A, if you will. In bizzarro world.

Mavis died in June 2004, a few weeks after Ronald Reagan. She died after a short illness, a crucial part of which involved my waking up my husband at 4 am, asking him to take her to the Animal Medical Center and spending the next three hours on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor. I'll spare you the details. No, there is no way that you can ever repay me, so don't even try.

Then I googled "how to tell your kids that their beloved pet died." Even though she was still alive, I knew that the end was near. She was 13, a very Jesse Helms age in Basset Hound world. She's been failing for a while. And the latest bout made it obvious that we could no longer take care of her. I didn't think that it was necessary to wait until the vet actually pronounced Mavis dead and the Pope's physician hit her forehead with a little silver mallet.

One thing that I learned immediately was that I had to tell the kids that the death was final. This was a real slap in the face to the Buddhist in me. Fortunately, however, the Buddhist in me has been slapped around so much already that he hardly noticed. I had to stress that Mavis was very, very, very, very old and that we will miss her and then ask if they had any questions. I did this as soon as they woke up, to get it over with.

My 6 year old daughter cried a little, my 3 year old son took it in stride. Then my husband called.

Apparently, after waiting at the Animal Medical Center for three hours, with some ferrets and cats, Mavis was diagnosed with a mild infection, dehydration and was expected to make a full recovery. (My husband, like Rudy Giuliani, was diagnosed with an adverse reaction to people who keep ferrets as pets). Although this was certainly great news, I had a minor problem on my hands. Somehow I would have to google "resurrection" and explain to my children that although death was super final, Mavis was now undead. Because there was no way in hell that I was going to cop to telling them that Mavis was dead before she really was. What kind of a freak does something like that to her kids?

Mavis never made it out of the hospital, and neither did thousands of our dollars. She had many diagnostic tests, all of which were inconclusive and required further testing. At some point, we were ready to let her go. I cried so much that my husband ended up being the one to call the pet cemetery, on the theory that the more hysterical the bereaved, the more they will charge. He estimated that according to my emotional state, Mavis would be laying in state, next to Ronnie.

Now we are dogless. The kids and I are very pro-dog, but my husband is holding out. He cites the expense, the mess, the inconvenience. But on some level, I think that he hurt as much as I did when we lost her. Even though he got a bargain basement price for her remains.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Kids Stay in the Picture

I've been reading many blogs recently, most of which I've discovered through Meghan's fantastic website AllMediocre. Many have photos that just scream "summer" and not wanting to be left out, I decided to get some of my own. I took this photo at our lake house this afternoon, after the kids had gone swimming, my daughter changed into jeans despite the 10,000 degree weather and my son refused to give up on the idea of one more running leap into the lake and therefore wouldn't get out of his bathing suit. They were on the dock and then the ducks swam by and I remembered that I had been carrying a stale piece of bread in my purse like a kazillion year old lady, just for this purpose and the kids fed the ducks and everything was tranquil and perfect for a solid thirty seconds.

What this picture does not show is that every five minutes I told my husband that I was having a heatstroke and must be transported by Mr. Softee truck back to NYC where I could enjoy air conditioning and the internet and that he told me that the kids were having fun swimming and that this is why we had the lake house and my pouting and nearly passing out when a neighbor mentioned "water snakes." Maybe I need a better camera.


Friday, July 18, 2008


My daughter tells her brother that he is adopted, just to fuck with him. Of course, he's at the age when the possibility that anyone but we (preferably Pokemon) are his biological parents is more thrilling than alarming, so her strategy backfires. But when he asks me if it's true, I say "no" a little too sharply and he asks me what is wrong with being adopted. I start the tap dance of "there is nothing wrong with being adopted, but it's not polite to ask other people if they are adopted," which, of course, makes no sense, since he is not asking other people. He is asking me about himself.

And as I talk, I can see how the prospect of not sharing DNA with me could suddenly become a source of comfort. I grew up in an environment where adoption was not openly discussed and I am uncertain if other children and parents would welcome inquiries.

But I am constantly worried that my children will ask something inappropriate of someone who will not be forgiving of their curiosity and as result, I am worried that I am stifling that curiosity. It's certainly a relief that I am not running out of things to worry about.

When she was six, my daughter asked a man panhandling on our street corner if he was homeless. I told her that it was a personal question. But is it? Or am I teaching my children the unspoken lesson of living in New York, or perhaps in the modern world--do not engage. I want my children to be safe--physically and emotionally and I am afraid that in so doing, I am teaching them not to acknowledge difference. I read in this month's O Magazine an advice column where a woman met someone at a party and said "I'm sorry" when the woman she met told her that her child had autism. The mother said that there was nothing to be sorry about and the woman felt chided. What should she have said? I fully admit to my being distracted by some shiny object at this point, so I'm not sure what the bottom line of this advice column was, but I do remember retaining that making an understanding face and nodding sagely was appropriate. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I swear, it's advice like this that will make me barricade myself at home and not have any human contact, for fear of making a faux pas.

Are faux pas that bad? I guess it depends on your personality, should you be so lucky as to have one. Me? I still remember first day of swim team in Leningrad, when I was 8 and the coach said to get get changed and meet him at the pool and I appeared in record time, ready to swim and he looked at me and said, "You need to put on a bathing suit." Yeah, that nightmare that people talk about having--showing up naked in class or at work? Mine was a dream come true, if you will. Thirty years later, I am still cringing. And wearing a bathing suit under my clothes, at all times.

Having children is like a constant faux pas. Will they offend? I spent an entire afternoon once hovering over my son at a water park because one of the mothers there was a dwarf. (Ok, someone told me that the acceptable term is 'vertically challenged', does anyone know if that is true or if people are just torturing me at this point?) I was petrified that he would make some comment to her, an innocent child-like comment, but still. I kept making eye contact with her, and smiling maniacally, to "soften" whatever awkwardness he would spew. I think she finally left to avoid me.

I certainly don't know what the answers are. I tried to teach my children that it is not polite to stare, to ask personal questions of people that they don't know well and to be polite. By the way, what is that whore Britney up to these days, anyone know?

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Last Saturday, I decided to make Roast Pork Loin. I do not cook often, or well, so when I commit to it, it's a production where I am secluded in the kitchen and my family has to tiptoe around me because The Artist Is Working and one wrong move can set me off, and I will fly into an alcoholic rage, or chop off my ear or something equally cinematic.

A friend called to ask what we were doing for dinner and I said "Pork roast for the Shabbat." Ok, so a friend didn't call, but how else was I going to work in the "Pork for Shabbat" joke into my post? Why must you constantly undermine my humor?!

Anyway, after I was in pork roast preparation for a while, my daughter walked through the kitchen, glanced at the recipe (you know, the one that said "Roast Pork Loin") and said, "Oh my GOD! EWWW! We're having LION?" Yes, she is the one who doesn't like to read for pleasure. Why do you ask?

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mommy Drinks Because of Kid TV

My kids and 10 and 7 now, which means that I have a decade of kids' television under my belt. You'd think they would make some kind of ribbon for that, or a belt. A tiara, maybe.

Believe me, I am definitely one of those parents who used the TV as a babysitter. In the first four years, I needed to take some showers, have a cup of coffee and generally relax for 30 minute stretches. Many of the TV shows that my kids watched are now a distant memory, but I sometimes still wake up in the middle of the night thinking of Tubby Toast. And I have questions.

1. Why is it necessary for kid TV characters to have speech impediments and/or speak English as though it were their second language? I'm looking at you, "Me Happy" Baby Bop. And Ming Ming on Wonder Pets of the "this is sewious!" fame. And whoever that lisping whore is on Sesame Street.

2. Was Clifford's thyroid ever tested? Because, you know, he was big. And red.

3. Are the Telletubbies related to Booh Bah? And are their creators out of rehab yet?

4. I don't be all "everyone who is not like me, looks alike," but is the Bear in Franklin and the Bear in Little Bear the same character? Are they related, like Phoebe on Friends and Ursula on Mad About You? And am I the only person who couldn't stand Mad About You and Helen Hunt? And is it me, or is it hard to end this segue?

5. Oobi--what the fuck is that? Those talking hands with eyeballs? Seriously, I want to see the test studies that show that watching that show doesn't make children insane. Because I fear for our society.

6. The Wiggles. They're not predators, right? They just like to wiggle?

7. Calliou. I want to know why he's bald. I also want to know if I'm supposed to like his mom because she's sort of dumpy looking.

8. Max & Ruby. Ruby's supposed to be a bitch, right? We're not supposed to root for her, right?

9. Dragon Tales. Did J.Lo name her twins Max and Emme after the Dragon Tales kids? And is "knuckerhole" a tad suggestive for our family values loving nation?

10. Arthur. D.W.'s name is Dora Winifred. I know this bit of useless trivia, but it makes me insane that despite having watched 10,008 Arthur episodes, I've never seen the one when they call her that. Also, I kept expecting Dudley Moore to make a cameo.

Let me know if you have any answers! And if any kid show has you stumped, I'll try to help. Just let me get a refill.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

House Rules and Proposed Amendments

At our household, we have some rules, because we are Excellent Parents. Enforcement is another issue, however, and over the years, our kids have made some modifications, or amendments.

Here they are. You will probably want to take notes. And then paste those notes over whatever it is that Dr. Spock advises.

Rule 1: Do not enter parents' bedroom before 7 am. Because your parents are exhausted and need rest and sleep and relaxerization (yes, I know someone who thinks that's a word. Hopefully, she's not reading this blog).

Amendment: Run into parents' room at 6:30 and announce, "See you in half an hour!!!"

Rule 2: Do not talk to mommy while she's in the bathroom.

Amendment: Tap on the bathroom door and say, "Are you still in there?" until door opens.

Rule 3: Do not run in the house.

Amendment: Skipping, hopping and leaping is ok. So is speed walking. And running in slow motion, like you're in the critical scene in "Chariots of Fire."

Rule 4: No potty talk at the table.

Amendment: This violates the First Amendment.

Rule 5: Don't say "stupid" unless you mean in it its literal sense.

Response: Oh, we mean it.

Rule 6: Take your plate to the dishwasher after meals.

Response: Thank you for preparing us for a lifetime in the food service industry.

Rule 7: If you're a boy, do not wear black socks with shorts until you're 70.

Response: That's stupid.

Rule 8: If you're a girl, don't wear shirts with suggestive slogans.

Response: What's suggestive?

Rule 9: Do not ask grandmother why her skin is wrinkly and loose.

Response: That's SKIN?

Rule 10: Treat other people like you would like to be treated.

Response: Let's go get you some Pokemon cards and a Wii game, mom.

Stumble It!


Monday, July 14, 2008

Open Plea to Dav Pilkey

Dav Pilkey, as those of you who have sons over the age of 6 undoubtedly know, is the author of the "Captain Underpants" series. Which is basically like "General Hospital" for prepubescent boys. Below is my letter to him. Hopefully, he will visit this blog and read it and take immediate action.

Dear Dav:

How fucking hard is it to write another Captain Underpants book? Or are you waiting until my son goes to college?

Really, childhood is fleeting. And he can be super whiny. Let him have it. Please?

I know that you're a newlywed (or were in 2005), but come on. Yes, love, bliss, happiness. What about the rest of us?!?

The last page of the eighth book, Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People clearly states that Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers is coming soon. And Frankenfart vs. The Bionic Barf Bunnies from Diarrhea Land is coming soon-ish. Barf! Diarrhea! You're such a tease.

But soon? Soonish? That was in 2006, what the hell have you been doing for two years? Stephen King would have had several tomes out by now. You I'm afraid I'm going to need a better timetable. One that is acceptable to my son. Because I want him in his room reading and leaving me the hell alone.

So, what's the hold up? Are you fighting with Scholastic again? Can I help? You say the word and I'm there. But please, write the freaking book already. Really, I'd do it myself, except for the whole writing and drawing part.

Thanks in advance!


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Beep. Sigh.

You know the old joke--"Can you play the piano?" "I don't know, I never tried." Well, I sort of felt like that about driving. And conducting the orchestra. Haven't we all conducted the orchestra along with the maestro by mentally waiving that wand or whatever they call it dramatically to the music? If the conductor would ever fall ill in the middle of a performance at Carnegie Hall, I could definitely step in. Just wake me up first, ok?

Anyway, back to driving. I've always thought that I could pretty much figure it out, just by being driven around so much. If there is a car ahead of you, don't hit it. Try to brake gently so that no one can sue you for whiplash. Or as my seven year old son explained, "if you want to go right, turn the wheel right, if you want to go left, turn it left and if you're going straight, don't do anything." Not doing anything is my special talent. I should be in Florida in no time.

But apparently, I can add this Instant Driving Plan to my list of Universe Against Marinka, because there is a problem already. First the good news: I received my social security card. Faithful Reader may recall that I need a social security card to apply for a learner's permit and that I had not seen my original social security card since the early 1980s. So, yay, I had the card. I went to the Department of Motor Vehicles website for Phase 2: The Learner's Permit. The good news is that I could study for it on line. The bad news is that it is not as intuitive as I would have liked.

This is the sample test:

A red and white triangular sign at an intersection means
Slow down if an emergency vehicle is approaching.
Look both ways as you cross the intersection.
Always come to a full stop at the intersection.
Slow down and be prepared to stop if necessary.

Ok, is it me, or do all of these sound good?

I mean, if an emergency vehicle is approaching, you definitely want to slow down in case there is a hot firefighter or George Clooney ER type in there, right?

And what kind of a moron doesn't look both ways when crossing the intersection?

Always come to a full stop at the intersection? How come? Didn't I just look both ways? Do they now want me to stand still and just gaze from one side to the other? What am I, a cow?

I would like to eliminate the fourth option, however, the "slow down and be prepared to stop if necessary" because I find it too controlling.

A rectangular-shaped sign is
School crossing sign.
Railroad crossing sign.
Stop sign.
Speed limit sign.

Ok, have I had too much to drink or is anyone else blanking of what "rectangular" is? Just me? Ok, then!

But is this a geometry lesson or something? I mean, wouldn't the school crossing sign have some children drawn on it? Or a dollar sign, in the case of private schools? And wouldn't the railroad have Thomas the Tank Engine eerily smiling at me?

And wouldn't the speed limit sign have the number on it to indicate the speed limit?

Seriously, what are these people testing here?

Are they trying to prepare me for the time when my vision is so diminished that all I can make out are blurry shapes and not the writing within?

A diamond-shaped sign is a
Road hazard sign.
Interstate route sign.
School crossing sign.
Speed limit sign.

Is it me, or are they pushing this speed limit sign/school crossing sign thing? And what is the interstate route nonsense? Like, I'm driving in NYC, and suddenly I'm somewhere else? What is the sign for intergalactic travel?

I admit, I am discouraged. Down deep inside, I'd hoped that getting my replacement social security card would be the big challenge in this Driver's License acquisition. But now I see that it's just one piece of the puzzle. And I think we know how I am with puzzles.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Kids Are Noisy

Last weekend, the New York Times ran an article in its Real Estate section about how some people without children find it annoying that the children living above/below/next door to them in apartment buildings make so much noise. People without children don't like child-noise and people with children feel sort of like the child-free should get the fuck over it. Of course, because it's New York, and it's the New York Times, it's an issue. This is the same paper, after all, that had a front page story (front page! not the Style section!) about how mothers who work outside the home and travel for business enjoy the perks that hotels offer and fancy dinners. REALLY? I wonder what Deep Throat broke that story?

But there are more children than ever in NYC and we're all living on top of each other here, so if you're thinking of Ferberizing your baby and letting him or her cry it out for a night or twenty, be prepared for your neighbor to call Child Services about the blood curdling screams.

I don't know if you watched Beavis and Butthead, when they are reading something boring and saying "words...words..," but that was pretty much what I was doing while I was reading the article. And even though I was sort of skimming it, I was becoming enraged because what exactly are parents in apartment buildings supposed to do to ensure that their children don't run, yell and be kids? Come on. It's an apartment building, not a sanitarium.

But then yesterday, I went to Family Swim at the local Y, and there was a two year old who couldn't have screamed any louder if he were being waterboarded. Which seems to have gotten a bad rap, by the way. And I kept thinking "shut up, just shut the fuck up, what kind of parents take their kid to the pool in the summer, when it is obvious that he should be screaming his head off at home. Preferably next door to my high school history teacher."

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Public Service Announcement

If you are playing Monopoly and you land on that square where you have to pay either $200 or 10% of all your money, just put down the $200 and get on with the fucking game. Because, you know, the money is not real and no one cares anyway. And while you're counting your money out and then doing the percentage math, everyone is annoyed because you're taking so long and they also sort of assume that you're cheating because they are too bored to count with you, and what kind of freak wouldn't cheat if given the chance, anyway.

And even if you're not cheating and everyone waits out your international banking machinations, they will think you're super cheap, because I repeat--WHO DOES THAT WITH FAKE MONEY?

This is all hypothetical, of course, directed to no one in particular. And completely on a separate topic, I love and adore and admire my husband.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I Will Tell My Kids The Truth About Sex

although not necessarily during my lifetime. Perhaps I will leave them a letter to be read by my attorney, together with my will.

To confirm: I have no "mother's instinct". It has been surgically removed from my body. I'm hoping that Aetna will cover it.

I thought that she was ready for TheTalk. Well, not really TheTalk, because I think it's best that they pick that stuff up off the street, with as little parental involvement as possible, but I wanted to talk to my at-the-time 9 year old daughter about How Bodies Change, and not in the Kirstie Alley/Valerie Bertinelli sense, either. I've also been inundated with stories of girls menstruating stigmata-style (but from their vagina? Do I know how to work an unpleasant and offensive image in, or WHAT?) at early ages, and I thought that I should prepare her. Because with my luck, I'll be getting the call from school that she's all flipped out right as I'm watching General Hospital.

So I did what any normal person does under the circumstances, and went to the American Girl Place and got a book. Seriously--The American Girl Place? Sixth circle of hell. But I got her the The Care and Keeping of YOU: The Body Book for Girls.

I thought she was ready for a book about getting older, hygiene, privacy.

We interrupt this post for a surprise quiz!

I'll list the chapter headings and you tell me which one she picked first. ok? ready? GO!

Hair Care
Hair Scare
Sun Senses..

skipping ahead...

How to Insert a Tampon
Sports Safety
Sleep Troubles


First and most adorable of all, she pronounces it "tampam", so it sounds like a fusion appetitzer or something. Her eyes became enormous and she said "WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?" so, I explained. And by "explained" I mean I said "haha, we will talk about this when you're a bigger girl. For now, what's important is that you never mention this to anyone at school."

So, I dodged *that* bullet, heh?

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What The..?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How They Spoil Me

Offline comments that I received from my nearest and dearest about this blog:

"I don't need to read more, I pretty much know how you think." -Papa

"I wish you'd never given me the link, now it's just another thing that I have to feel guilty about not reading."-Ruby

"I'll read it as soon as I get back to the mainland." -Son's godfather, gifter of the 500 piece Pokemon jigsaw puzzle, via email from the Seychelles Islands (yes, I realize that does not qualify as off-line, but did you really think that I was not going to work in a Seychelles Islands reference into this post?)

"What if you become addicted to this computer business?" -Mama. Luddite.

"I didn't have a chance to read it this week, what was it about?" -Manella.

"The layout is clean, but it reads like you're trying too hard."--Colin Farrell's twin. Fraternal.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Light in August?

I am pro-choice and all, but I think that pregnant women should be forced to have a scarlet "P" embroidered on their outer garments, or tattooed on their foreheads-totally up to them. In a pinch, I'd settle for one of those "Baby Inside" t-shirts, with an arrow pointing to the uterus, although it is actually targeting the knees.

Because we have all been victimized by the "When are you due?"/"I'm not pregnant" mortification that for some reason is never followed by a natural disaster. You know, a natural disaster without any fatalities or injuries that nonetheless distracts everyone and makes an awkward conversation that they were enduring a vague memory.

As a result, I will be damned if I ever ask anyone second trimesterish when she is due. My rule is that unless the woman tells me that she is pregnant, I have to see the baby crowning before I acknowledge her pregnancy.

But this plan isn't fool-proof, either. Because in early March I ran into a neighbor in the elevator--"hey, I haven't seen you in a while," I said. "What's new?"
"Well," she patted her stomach. "I'm about to have a baby."
"Oh?" I was in cartoon-like amazement. "I had no idea that you are pregnant." Apparently, I thought instead that she had a pillow attached to her midsection or that she was a moose. My attempt at complimenting her on the svelteness backfired.

This could have been avoided if she had just worn a "Baby inside" t-shirt. Over her coat. Or maybe an ankle bracelet that announced her pregnancy. Yes, I know that pregnant women's ankles swell and may even cause the whiners discomfort. But think of the peace of mind that it will offer the rest of us.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pass the Tape and Scissors

Last weekend, my son, mother-in-law and I spent the afternoon and evening putting together a 500 piece-entirely-in-Japanese-Pokemon jigsaw puzzle. No, this wasn't part of my community service and there is no need to call the Hague Convention to Prevent Torture. It was last weekend and it's over now. But as with every other jigsaw puzzle that I have ever attempted, about ten minutes into it, I was convinced that the crucial piece or twenty that we needed was missing.

My son sang songs with dubious lyrics, such as "hey, now, you're a rock star, hey now, I have no idea how this song goes," as he worked.

My mother-in-law and I worked in silence, although I did announce several times that I was on a brink of a seizure.

And when it looked totally desperate, we took a break and went swimming, where I briefly considered filling my pockets with rocks and wandering into the deep end.

When we finished the puzzle later that night, we were filled with pride. But what the hell are going supposed to do with the puzzle once it is all put together? To take it apart seems barbaric and we are not animals. I wonder if MoMA will accept the donation?

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Like Skydiving

So I decided when I started to blog about my Journey to a Driver's License, which so far has included applying for a social security replacement card, that I would blog about it only, and not discuss it with people that I know In Real Life. This would give me more time to whine to them about the other stuff in my life like the fact that my daughter used my million dollar an ounce perfume to deodorize the bathroom after her brother used it. But then I talked to my friend Manella and she said "I never read your blog, what are you writing about these days?" and I said "I'm writing about something that I will not discuss in real life." And she said "What?" and I don't know what kind of CIA-trained operative could withstand THAT kind of cross-examination, but I cracked instantly and told her about my Journey to a Driver's License, and threw in some AdSense Google ads for good measure.
And she was very happy for me, and said something like "Oh my god, that is fantastic! Driving is so liberating." She said other things mostly revolving around the themes of liberation, exhilaration and breathtaking rushes that I generally associate with sky diving rather than methods of transportation.

This, of course, led to a whole new string of anxiety as I suddenly remembered all those well meaningskys who talked me into air travel by reassuring me that driving a car was a hell of a lot more dangerous than flying. I bet it is. With me on the road, I am certain that the kamikaze pilots will feel a lot better about their prospects.
So all the "air travel is safer than driving" voices are now ringing in my head. At least I think that's what the voices are saying. They may be encouraging me to get some Haagen Dasz chocolate peanut butter ice cream.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Name This Blog

You would think that someone who wants to blog would have thought of a snazzy blog name a long time ago, preferably before starting the blog. Sort of like parents have names picked out for their kid in advance. That certainly would have been convenient for me and I wouldn't have had to resort to calling it NYC Mom and More or whatever the hell it's called now.

My friend John, who asked to be referred to in this blog as "Colin Farrell's Twin", prides himself on coming up with clever names and titles (as a matter of fact, my moniker Marinka is his nickname for me), and whose dream job is to work for a pharmaceutical company as a sampler, I mean, coming up with names for new medicine, has nothing. All of his suggestions were "Motherhood Corner" this and "Marinka's Korner" that.

I refuse to have "Corner" as part of the name because to me that implies cross-stitching and domesticity and I have enough problems in my life without outright lying in a blog.

So I'm asking you to help. Submit a proposed name for my blog. Something that is witty and fun and somewhat descriptive and not already in use. No obscenities (I'm disappointed too).

The winner will get a prize. (See next week's post "Help me pick a prize for the winner of "Name this Blog Contest"). I'm pretty sure that the prize will have no monetary value and will probably be mildly offensive to some, so don't count on it for your retirement.

I'll pick a winner next Saturday, July 12th! And if you win, I have the right to use the blog title and claim it as my own and if you say that it was your idea, I'll totally deny it.

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Is This Necessary?

Last week I got a Pinkberry frozen yogurt, with chocolate chips, raspberries and pineapple and the Pinkberry person put a raspberry on top of the swirl. They do that sometimes and to make my wait in line more interesting (playing fast and loose with "interesting" here), I try to guess whether the Pinkberry specialist will do that or not. I've tried to find the method to the madness, but there is no rhyme or reason to it. But let me tell you this--it is hard to feel dignified walking out with a Pinkberry that looks so Shirley Templeish.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Conversations that I don't Want to Have Until After I've Had Coffee, or Maybe Never

My daughter reading the local Y's pool policy. "Mommy, what is discharge?"

Friday, July 4, 2008

Brain Bleach

If anyone knows where I can pick up a gallon of brain bleach in the Catskills, please contact me ASAP. Because we are up here, at my parents' dacha, to celebrate my daughter's 10th birthday. When my husband woke up, papa wished him a happy birthday. And when husbandrinka said that it wasn't his birthday, papa said "well, as the inseminator, you have something to celebrate as well." As my husband tried to pretend that he did not hear it, and as I was reaching for the vomit basin that I keep at arm's length for just such an occassion, papa continued: "And I bet that you were a willing participant at that."

Let us agree that we do not ever want our parents making any kind of refence to anyone having sex. Amen.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

To Do List

If you have been considering moving to New York City, but are unsure about whether your dog will have enough to do here, I hope that this sign at the local dog spa can offer some reassurance.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Isn't it Romantical?

Today's post is from my friend Fiona who graciously agreed to write an entry. And her daughter even photographed the back of Fiona's head, and then enhanced it with colorful butterflies! DAMN IT! how come neither one of my children has offered back of head enhancements to me?!?

Birthday proposals are so predictable.

Three years into my relationship with my now husband, we hit that ever popular “will he propose to me this year?” birthday. He was finishing up his doctoral thesis and sending out applications for jobs all over the country. I was sure he couldn’t bear to leave me behind – besides, all my friends assured me that he’d sweep me off my feet with a proposal any day now.

My brother-in-law had proposed to my sister at the local ski area where they met when they were teenagers. He involved all of us in his grand scheme where he made a gigantic banner that said “Will You Marry Me” and hung it between some trees. We skied down with her – aiming her in the right direction where she would see him standing next to it with a big diamond in hand. It was so sickeningly romantic I may have gone behind a tree to be sick but I don’t remember exactly. That’s how it’s supposed to be done, right? I was expecting nothing short of vomit inducing romance myself.

So here we are. My birthday. We had gone to a nice dinner and movie – Jurassic Park to be exact. Not really a chick flick but I was so busy looking around the theatre for my banner I didn’t notice. He had given me a couple gifts at that point but 15 yrs later I can’t remember what they were. I’m sure they were nice even if they weren’t precious gems. Then as we pull into my driveway, he says those magic words I’ve been waiting to hear all night:

“Wait, there’s one more gift I forgot to give you.”

Then he hands it to me. My beloved ring box. My heart is beating out of my chest as I slowly lift the lid in anticipation. I’m asking myself things like “Can he afford a 6 carat diamond on a grad student salary?” and “How many bridesmaids should I have?”

Then I see it. To say I was speechless would be a gross understatement. It’s – a little foam dinosaur???? I look at him completely aghast and he says, no lie:

“I thought it was cute since we went to Jurassic Park. It will grow 10 times its size if you put it in water”

I can still hear the car door slamming if I close my eyes.

The real proposal came about 3 months later while naked after a couple pitchers of margaritas. It went something like this:

Me: “So, are we going to get married before you leave town or what?”
Him: “Well, we could. Do you want to?”
Me: “Uh, yeah, of course. So is there anything you’d like to ask me?”
Him: “Um, do you want to marry me?”
Me: “Sure. Can you pass me the margaritas.”
In the interest of marital harmony should he ever find this blog, I feel I should add that it’s been a fantastic 15 years with him. He’s given me 3 beautiful children, held my hand through cancer, and even better, he does the dishes and takes our daughters grocery shopping with him weekly to “give me a break”. My brother-in-law, on the other hand, has never made a grocery list and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have dishpan hands. I guess the moral of the story is: It’s the quality of the marriage that counts not the proposal.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Note to Self

Do not eat your own weight in watermelon in the evening.


My parents and I immigrated from the former Soviet Union in 1977. Something about religious freedom and not being called "Kikes", according to them. According to my third grade classmates in my new found land of freedom and opportunity, who glanced at the above photo of the three year old me, it was so that I wouldn't have to bear the humiliation of going to the beach topless. With a "Rosemary's Baby" Mia Farrow haircut that did me no favors. For the historian in you, the photo was taken on the Black Sea, at Leselidze. Apparently there's a war raging there now. Hopefully not over my topless photo. (Incidentally, when I showed this photo to my husband, he said, hand on my heart, "which one is you?")

Style and consumerism, notwithstanding, it's always been a huge mystery to me why pre-pre-pre-pubescent girls wear bikini tops to the beach, the water park, anywhere where their male counterparts and sometimes nemeses are topless. Surely, it's not for modesty's sake. Let me just say this and get it out of the way--putting a bikini top on a three year old sexualizes her a hell of a lot more than letting her go topless.

And it's more than preference. I've heard of water parks enforcing a rule that a female toddler must have a top (oh, if there were an issue that I would love to see this Supreme Court tackle), other mothers' disapproval if a toddler is topless, mothers putting on a two piece suit on their diaper-wearing daughters in swim class.

To mix metaphors, a toddler needs a bikini top like a fish needs a bicycle. I was reading the excellent "Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids To Know About Sex and Were Afraid They'd Ask" and there was mention of how the Victorians were so scandalized by the suggestiveness of a piano leg that they outfitted them in skirts. Really? Because if a piano leg is suggestive, there are bigger issues at play.

Yet the piano leg reappears. "I don't want perverts seeing my daughter topless," parents will explain. Or would explain if I were the kind of freak to approach strangers and suggest that they rip their daughters' top off. Please. I have enough problems maintaining eye contact. But I get the pervert issue and it makes me want to buy my kids burkhas. But I hold firm on the bikini tops.

Another explanation is that it's not modesty, it's for sun protection. That's ok, but if your kid is wearing the toddler equivalent of pasties, it doesn't fly. And make sure that your son is wearing a t-shirt, too, because, you know, if he's running around in just bottoms, it makes people suspect that you are sexist in your sun damage assessment risks.

But I do get it. And I think that the reason that most of us slap a bikini top on our daughters is that we don't want them to stand out. Society sells two piece bathing suits, and who are we to pass them up? They are a hell of a lot more comfortable than the one piece whole body suits (does anyone still use the word "maillot"?) and they are adorable. We like the MiniMe sans the stretch marks look.

But are we inching towards clothing the piano? And is it worth it?

In our Britney-driven society, isn't this sort of a small issue? I mean, these toddlers are pre-conscious, who the hell cares what they wear or don't wear. Absolutely. And yet.

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