Monday, June 30, 2008


So Phase One of my Road to Driving, which consisted of printing out an application for a replacement social security card, went so smoothly that I decided to leap ahead and actually submit the application. I say "smoothly" because I have a naturally sunny disposition and never complain or whine and hardly mention the fact that I couldn't print the fucking application because our sodomite of a printer is there apparently for ornamental purposes only, since it doesn't actually print anything. And don't get excited, it doesn't actually sodomize anyone either, it's just a euphemism for "cocksucking". Because who has a blog about motherhood and the joys of parenting and then uses "cocksucking" in the post?

Anyway, I had to print the application at work which delayed me by a few days, but it definitely went smoothly from there. The first thing that I usually read on official forms is the "Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995". which estimates how long it will take to read the instructions, gather the answer the questions for a replacement. Good news--8.5 to 9.5 minutes. I could squeeze that in.

There were some hurdles, of course. For example, one of the modes of identification that I had to bring to the Social Security office was a driver's license which poses an obvious problem to someone who needs a social security card to apply for a learner's permit.

But I overcame it all. I even stood on the security line at the Federal Plaza in Manhattan to get to the Social Security office. Something happens to me when I have to stand on a line. Maybe it's because as a kid I stood on bread lines in the pre-Atkins Soviet Union, but I just refuse to get in line. There is a pizza place in NYC that has a line and I've never been. I know the line is supposed to signal its greatness, but it's not worth it to me. And when I am forced, by circumstances beyond my control, to stand on a line, I start to panic. Like I'm afraid that I will have to stand on line for the rest of my life, and I will do anything, including renounce my citizenship, to get it over with.

And then, for some insane reason, when it was my turn to go through the metal detector, I decided to use charm on the security guard, forgetting completely that "charm" is not part of my repertoire, and that I did not have any contraband on me, so there was absolutely no need for it. Fortunately, that did not land me in Gitmo. Although maybe they're waiting until I actually get my social security card?

The application process itself was a cakewalk and I will be getting the card in one to two weeks. I will be by the mailbox if you need me.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008


Today was the Gay Pride Parade in NYC. It is my favorite parade ever.

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I took this picture when we visited the lake house in New Jersey yesterday. When I was a little girl behind the Iron Curtain, I was obsessed with water lilies. I would sit for what seemed like hours watching them open and close. It was my own personal "Magic Garden". Thank goodness we immigrated to America and I spent hours watching "General Hospital" instead.

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Mama calls me and hurls an accusation, "So, you're sitting on a gold mine and you haven't said one word to me," she says. "I had to find out from the children."

The children. Our personal Greek chorus.

It turns out that earlier this week, as Mama was getting the kids ready to go to the Y for swimming, she picked up a bottle of shampoo and my daughter nearly fainted, claiming that she wasn't allowed to use it. We bought the lavender shampoo a few weeks before, and as I was paying for it, something was buzzing in my mind. No, not the voices telling me how to save France, but that sense that I should not be buying it. So, a few google searches later, I had my aha! moment, although I'm pretty certain that mine was different from Oprah's. Lavender has been tied to breast growth in prepubescent boys! Lavender simulates estrogen! Lavender is bad! Children must be kept at least thirty feet away from lavender!

I told Marinkella that she can't have the shampoo. And when she wanted to know why, I told her that it makes people grow boobs. Yes, I know that that's not the ideal explanation, especially since the study seems to be confined to boys, and I have no idea whether the shampoo has lavender oil or bits of lavender stuck inside the bottle, but that's all I had. So, I took the shampoo from her, replaced it with a grapefruit one and called it a day.

But when Mama tried to take it, Marinkella flipped. She said that she wasn't allowed to use it, and upon questioning told Mama that it would lead to huge boob growth. Mama left it behind, but so far she has shared this story with everyone who has ears. Can marketing to the D cup wannabes be far behind?

Saturday, June 28, 2008


People who come to NYC and then eat at "The Olive Garden" need to have their taste buds examined. And possibly get on the waiting list for a taste bud transplant.


So last night my husband and I went to our favorite restaurant for dinner because my parents took our kids to the ballet. Hey, better them than me, I figure. I got a cosmopolitan because it is delicious and because it's pink it makes me think that I'm not drinking hard liquor.

While we were wining and dining and got the usual "how was your day, dear"s out of the way, I decided that it would be fun to reminisce about the good ole days of when we dated and the Dates Of Horror that we had. One date that I remembered was dinner at the Savoy Restaurant which friends of ours raved about and where we had a horrific fight. I couldn't remember what the fight was about, but Husbandrinka reassured me that he did. According to him, we were having a romantical dinner and he was sharing great wisdom with me and I kept saying "What?" and he thought that I wasn't paying attention to him and he told me that and I stormed out of the restaurant and he had Dilemma because on the one hand, I was insane, but on the other hand, it was my birthday, and we were drinking champagne, so perhaps things ought to be more festive and less "go to hell!".

I don't know. I remember it slightly differently. I don't remember storming out of the restaurant and I don't remember it being my birthday and I have vague recollections of it being all his fault, but the details are hazy. The good thing is that we both remember that I had PMS.

And the crazy thing is that even though I remember crying my eyes out that night and thinking that pre-Husbandrinka was the most insensitive man ever, now, remembering the early 1990s in NYC makes me so nostalgic for the way we were, I am thisclose to getting a soundtrack.

Or maybe it's just the wine talking.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Tylenol Not Included

My son's godfather, who is not that godly but is one of my favorite people that my husband introduced me to, gave my son this 500 piece jigsaw puzzle for his birthday. He also gave him other stuff that makes noise, requires batteries and will likely require skills that I do not have to assemble, but we are obsessed with the puzzle for the time being. And by "the time being", I mean forever. It is from Japan, there is no English writing on it and it's fantastic.

In case the puzzle obsession reasons aren't obvious, they can be summarized in one word: Pokemon. Because the jigsaw puzzle features every single Pokemon ever, in very tiny photographic print, with the Pokemon's original Japanese names written in Japanese. And did I mention that there are Pokemon?

When my son opened the gift he looked a little like I must look at sample sales. Or at least the way I think that I would look if I were told that I could shop with Monopoly money and all outfits size 8 and below would fit me like a glove. A supple leather glove. (I'm going for happiness here).

There was a packet of squishy stuff inside, which at first I thought was edible (always a good assumption), but upon reflection I decided that it was special glue to add the finishing touch for the puzzle. Since all the writing on the not-edible packet is in Japanese, I have no idea how to apply the glue, of course, but the good news is that we are only 485 pieces away from that!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What is the Point?

My son wants to bring a Pokemon toy to camp. I know this because he is holding it in his hand shortly after we leave the apartment, and he shows it to me while we are waiting for the elevator. The Pokemon is a blue, whale-type fish, Kyogre. I know from previous in-depth discussions that Kyogre is very powerful.
I am filled with panic, writ small. Of course what I fear most is that he will lose it, someone will steal it, Kyogre will come to life and wreak havoc on the camp and New York City. But I don't cop to that. I blame The Man.
"I'm pretty sure that you are not allowed to bring toys from home," I tell him, my brow furrowed in Emmy-winning sympathy.
"Oh yeah?" he says. "Then how come I was allowed to bring the Wii remote control key chain to camp yesterday?"
Well, the main reason is that yesterday I didn't have the energy to argue about it, of course, but what kind of mother admits to THAT?
"You have a point," I concede.
"Where?" he asks.
"What?" I say.
Can a remake of "Abbott and Costello" be far behind?
"Where is my point?" He touches the top of his head and I remember that I used to style his hair with an Alfalfa style point for entertainment value. (Side note: It's a good thing that my husband does not read this blog, because sentences containing the words "son" and "style" and "hair" are subject to eyerolling. )
I tell him that I mean that he has a point, like what he said made sense, he, once again, ran circles around me logically. He laughs. He gets it. By this time we're in the elevator with Kyogre. Camp-bound.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Is He Toying With Me?

I asked my husband if he would do a "guest host post" on my blog and he said "yes". WHAT? really? I asked him what he would write about and he said that he didn't know. A clear attempt to build up mystery and interest, if you ask me. In case it's not apparent, my husband is super-private, has no interests in blogging, and as of this typing has never even seen my blog. Well, he passed by the computer while I was typing one night and asked if our daughter designed it. Because it's pink.

Anyway, I'm very excited about him doing a guest entry. Although I suspect that he agreed to it because I asked him while he was sleeping. And he's one of those weirdoes who doesn't like to talk when he's asleep.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What Grownups Do While Kids Sleep

I remember when I was a kid, I never wanted to go to sleep because I was convinced that my parents went to the circus and ate cake and generally had the most fun while I slept. I hated that and nothing that they said could convince me that they were really washing the dishes and filleting the herring in our communal apartment in Old Country. So it is with tremendous shame that I have to confess that when my kids went to sleep on Sunday night, I had some of the Carvel ice cream cake and played the Wii for about an hour.

Take that, pipsqueaks!


Monday, June 23, 2008

Beep Beep!

I have an announcement.

I know--what could top my weekend freezer cleaning adventure?

Well, this is life changing, and possibly life-ending. KNOCK WOOD.

At the ripe age of 40something, I decided to learn how to drive. I've lived in NYC all of my adult life, and it's really easy to be here without a car. As a matter of fact, I secretly mock New Yorkers who do know how to drive as being not real New Yorkers. I never said that I win a lot of popularity contests!

But now we're building a lake house in New Jersey and we go to upstate a lot, and despite my best efforts, the magic carpet technology is just not coming through. I'm worried that my poor husband is starting to feel like a chauffeur. Doesn't "chauffeur" look like it's misspelled? And yet it's not. Weird. My husband has dropped hints the size of meteors about my learning how to drive. Such as "when you start driving and I hope that it is soon". Up until recently, I ignored them entirely. But now I'm thinking that maybe I shouldn't. I am an adult. When we are away in a non-urban area for vacation, and want a Starbucks, I should be able to drive myself, right? And if, heaven forbid, we are ever in the suburbs, I should be able to get to the grocery story, right?

Fortunately for everyone, this is going to be a long process. The Department of Motor Vehicles requires me to get a learner's permit and there is no way to do that without a social security card. This doesn't make sense to me, since I do not plan on collecting social security in the middle of a road trip, but I hear that not many people win arguments with the DMV.

The problem is that I haven't seen my social security card since it was issued to me in the mid-70, and I was wearing a Donny & Marie t-shirt with pride. So I have to re-apply for a social security card. I am fairly certain that the process will render me absolutely insane and I don't mind sharing right now that I am already emotionally pre-drained at the prospect.

I am going to break this up into as many steps as possible so as to make it failure-proof. Goal for the week: Prepare application for a new social security card.

I hope that I'm not rushing this too much. Maybe I should give myself the summer to do that?


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Like Gloria Gaynor, I will Survive

I'm guessing that your weekend was filled with angst and anticipation because you were wondering whether I cleaned my freezer and was able to fit in the birthday ice cream cake. Yes? Well, just for you, this is the freezer "after" picture.

I spent about 15 minutes googling "Martha Stewart Organized freezer", but I didn't come up with anything appropriate, so I had to ask my husband to upload the photo of the real thing. I think he may be looking for a divorce attorney with weekend hours, by the way.

The sleepover is over and it looks like I made it!

We had four boys, including the birthday boy, and they were all well behaved, had tons of fun and no one got hurt. I will, of course, be counting the knives and shaking their bags on their way out, but I am super relieved that it's over!

My son had the standard post-birthday, post-sleepover meltdown and has already announced that so far being seven is filled with heartache, not the least of which is that I'm mean because I won't let him play the Wii non-stop.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Terror Continues

You know that thing staring at you above? That's a dead fish that was wrapped up in a paper towel, then placed in a ziplock bag and stored in our freezer until it could receive a proper burial. I'm no longer sure of its name--perhaps it was Flippy v. 5, maybe it was Cutie, or Pre-Deadie.

I think it's been in the freezer for about 4 years. I think that's a sufficient mourning period. I tossed it. But I'm still traumatized.

Be Afraid

So I am getting my son a Carvel cake, and hope that it doesn't come with a recording of Tom Carvel's voice. Which has been burned into my soul after watching many, many Carvel commercials during the 1980s. I miss the 80s. Except for Tom Carvel's voice.

Anyway, getting the Carvel cake means that I have to clean out the freezer. In case this horror is not self explanatory, please refer to the visual above. Scared? Terrified? Welcome to my world.

You Think You Know Someone

So, this is a fine how do you do. My husband told me this morning that he is a very private person and that he thinks some aspects of our lives should be private and not blogged about for public consumption. Huh. I see this as a direct attack on me as a woman, an individual, and on the Constitution of the United States.

So I am faced with a dilemma. Do I respect this zone of privacy, whatever that means, I mean we're not in the witness protection program or anything, or do I blog to my heart's content, knowing that my husband has not even bothered to look at my blog ONCE even though I'd sent him a link several weeks ago? And is the tidbit about him not reading my blog in the zone of privacy? What are the rules?!

I'm not offended that he hasn't read my blog, really I'm not. Boys are like that. They're not nosy. They're not snoopy. If my husband had a blog, it would be my homepage, so that I could monitor it nonstop. And make comments, where appropriate. Anonymously, if necessary.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Calm Before the Storm

Tomorrow is a big day. My son turns seven and he invited three of his rowdiest, I mean "closest" friends to celebrate and spend the night. I don't understand the celebratory nature of the sleepover, but it is entirely possible that I am behind the times on this issue.

For me sleepover is like the seventh circle of hell, assuming that the seventh is the one that has the hottest flames and the loudest residents. As soon as the sleepover starts, I start counting down to its end. Out loud.

My friend said it best when she asked why can't everyone just sleep at their own damn house. I am still waiting for the answer. My daughter is fleeing our house to my parents' for a boy-free safety zone.

We've already established that I'm not getting the $850 cake. I am getting a Carvel cake instead and sticking some Pokemon figures on them. I hope that none of the celebrants tries to eat them.

We will have pizza.

We will play the Wii which my husband will try to set up earlier in the day. Look for my entry entitled "The Eighth Circle of Hell" coming soon to the blog near you on that topic!

We will make many, many jokes that involve bodily functions.

I hope that at some point they will sleep. I hope that no one throws up. And I hope that they suddenly decide that it's more fun to sit quietly and discuss "Captain Underpants" than it is to run all over the apartment at breakneck speed and destroy everything on sight.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Apes I'm Not Sure About

My daughter just asked me if she were American or European. American, baby! "But all of my ancestors who were humans came from Europe." She got me there, I must admit.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Don't look at me, kid, I was ready!

My son is fuming because he has to wait until Saturday to turn 7. This is unfair. He doesn't understand why he couldn't have been born a week earlier. I am so prepared for this question, because I had spent the 10th month of my pregnancy asking myself the same thing. I did everything--I even went to a massage therapist who specialized in inducing labor.

I went to her house, where she put me on a massage table and spread towels on the floor "in case your water breaks". Then, levitating her hands above my stomach, she started to chant-hum, "Hansel, your mommy is ready to come down her cervix and come out now." Really, they should prepare people for this crap. I was worried that I had torn something internal trying not to laugh. After a few more minutes that passed like hours, she stopped and told me that I should probably go straight to the hospital to start labor. I took her advice, except that instead of going to the hospital to labor, I went to Starbucks and had a drink with caramel and whipped cream.

Fortunately, my parents had advice from the Old Country. "Remember when Nadia carried the refrigerator up four flights of stairs? That got the labor started!" I think that if I carried a refrigerator up any number of stairs, it would have gotten my labor started whether or not I was pregnant. I took matters into my own hands. I googled and googled and came up with a recipe designed to induce labor. I remember watercress and some kind of nuts being involved. And gorganzola cheese. I remember making the salad for me and my parents and all of us eating it and my father saying, "I don't know, I don't feel anything."

Nothing worked. I was sure that my son was going to attend college in utero.

"So, it's all your fault," I sum up for him. "If you'd been born on time, you'd be enjoying your birthday gifts and playing your Wii by now. You have no one but yourself to blame."

He seems unconvinced.

"You were the one in charge of when I had to be born," he tells me, "and you waited too long."

That's the thing about kids today--they don't accept responsibility.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Text Message From My Daughter

I got this text message from my daughter, sent from her babysitter's cell phone:

Mommy did u find the rushin candy behind the computer because me and [insert brother's name here] found it. And ate it.

The "rushin candy" is the candy that my mother brought over from Russia. For some reason, there is a disproportionate amount of Russian candy that features drawings of bears on the wrapper, but it does not deter anyone that I know from eating it. On the contrary, it makes us feel at one with nature, like we're supporting the environment almost.

Splish, Splash

Yesterday, I took my kids swimming at the Y for open family swim. The kids wanted to play swim tag, with me being "It". How hard can it be, I figured? I am at least twice their length (to say nothing of width) and I'm a faster swimmer. So they raced back and forth within the two lanes that were closed off for family swim and I couldn't catch them. Because they swam totally on the bottom of the pool and I like to stay on the surface. Where there are no sharks.

Safety first!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sure, Just Let Me Harvest an Ovary

Here's an email that I received from a local cake goddess in response to my needing a Pokemon cake for my son's wedding, I mean 7th birthday:

If we did a sugar pokemon on top a cake the cost would run $850 not including delivery. Where is the party being held, would you like to pick it up or have it delivered? If this is something you’d like to proceed with we would need to know by the end of the day today to ensure we have the time to create the sugar figure and let it dry. I’ll send you over our flavor chart so you can check out our flavors if this is a go.

Is there any doubt at all that if I picked up this cake I would drop it immediately and the sugar Pokemon would break into a gazillion shards?

I forwarded it to my husband with a "I assume this is a go, right?" Even though he is across town from me right now, I heard a very loud gasp, followed by a thud. If he wants to economize on our only son's happiness, I don't know what to tell you. Sad.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day, you patriarchs!

Please tell me at what age children generally assume full responsibility for Father's Day? Because at 9 and 6, mine are not there yet.

Well, my daughter helped me make bacon and eggs this morning, a job that every other Sunday of the year is relegated to Mr. Marinka. And she did a great job. Except for the part where she used the eggy spatula to take out the toast of the microwave oven.

And she did insist that we get him slippers for Father's Day (it was sweet of him to let us know that that's what he wanted 24 hours before the day itself, right when lightning and thunderstorms were ripping through Manhattan). I invited our son to come along and he said, "only if we get something for me, too". So he stayed home. If he doesn't want to risk life and limb to look for slippers, that's his loss, I figure. Let him suffer, safe and dry at home, playing his Nintendo DS while his sister and I are on a slipper hunt!

So we walked, soaked and ready to be stricken dead to our local stores--Dave's, Modell's, Filene's Basement, The Sports Authority, Men's Warehouse. None of them had slippers. Some had open toe slippers, so we called and said "we're out shopping for bacon and eggs for breakfast tomorrow, but we were having a theoretical discussion about footwear, in general. Do you like open toed slippers?" He said that he didn't. Obviously I have a cell phone service that doesn't have a "display teeth-on-edge" feature.

We decided on a wooden back scratcher (Bed Bath & Beyond, baby! $4.95!) and some "Father's Day Coupons". Dad gets a free hug! Dad gets a night out with the guys! You know, the stuff that you do all year long, but suddenly realize that you need a coupon!

He loved it all! He also loved when I declared, having suffered an apparent mini-stroke, that we are at his service all day long and that he's not allowed in the kitchen to do any post-breakfast clean up, cooking, anything.

So, shouldn't the kids be cleaning the kitchen now? Because I'm slaving away in there and they're watching "Sponge Bob". Although, fortunately, not my favorite episode.

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Method Shopping

My husband and kids went to Costco today. They bought gigantic things. Like this "refill" of Method hand soap. I assume it's supposed to refill the Nile River if it ever dries up.

My husband said that the kids really wanted it. Which is true. Because they are still fighting over where we are going to store it. So, we've been lugging it from one room to another. Because much like Paris, it turns out, Method refill soap is a moveable feast.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake (because I can't take another bite)

Last Saturday was my daughter's 10th birthday party. You'd think that it would coincide with her 10th birthday, but that would show how little you know about NYC birthday parties, my daughter, and me.

Her birthday is in July, but after years of 1.4 people being able to attend her summer birthday party in the years past, amidst trips to the Hamptons and general summering, she asked that the party be held before school let out. To maximize on the gifts, I suspect, but she insisted because she wanted to have fun with her friends. Fun. Whatever. The good part for me, of course, is getting the birthday party over with. I'm all for ripping that band aid off and saving everyone the time and the anxiety. Except when it comes to the literal band aids, of course. I like to take my time with those.

So. Fortunately the birthday party was being held in one of those venues where they are happy to do everything for you as long as you throw money at them. Almost like a business. And they offer cake. They offer a brochure with pictures of cakes, food porn for the prepubescent crowd. My daughter chose a cake called "pile of gifts". Adorable, boxes of cake gifts stacked up on top of each other, a fondant cake. Am I the only one who didn't know that there was a word like "fondant" until I described the cake to my friend as "super smooth and weddingy" and he said "fondant, we call it in English."

I ordered the cake. It was $120. So far, so good, right. Besides the highway robbery part, I mean.

Except when we arrived at the party, the cake wasn't fondant. It was more of a fun-don't. It was just a cake, a three layer cake to be sure, but it looked, I don't know--home made. I don't want a cake that looks home made. And I sure as hell don't want a cake that tastes home made. I wanted it to look like Martha Stewart was involved. Surely $120 gets you that much, even with the nearly worthless dollar.

And the worst part? Apparently the cake served 10,095 because we had a lot left over that they covered up with some foil and presented to us. It's been in our refrigerator ever since. I am the only one who eats it. It doesn't taste good. As a matter of fact, despite looking like a devil's food cake, it is almost entirely flavor-free. Being the glass half-full kind of gal (and not just because of frequent refills!), I think that at least it doesn't taste bad.

But I eat the cake every night, after the kids are asleep, as some kind of culinary penance. I can't just throw it out, can I? I mean, not when people are starving. And I can't give it away, because shelters don't accept home made foods (SEE? Just another reason why I didn't want it to look homemade!)

The good news is that I am almost done with the cake. The bad news is that I feel nauseated just thinking about it.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Kill Me Now

My 9 year old daughter does not like to read for pleasure. I've tiptoed around this issue long enough, I pretended that she was jut busy, tired, distracted, asleep. But when she told me tonight that she doesn't want to read if she doesn't have to, I put the pieces together. She would rather knit. Or play cards.

I'm furious. I'm furious because I love reading so much and she doesn't and I don't understand people who don't love reading and now one of them is my daughter.

This seems unfair.

I have always loved to read. Always. I do recall a period when I was about 12 when my parents would beg me to read something other than "Cosmo", but really, what literary masterpiece could hold a phallic candle to Helen Gurley Brown? But still, I read. By the time that I was my daughter's age, I had read most of Alexandre Dumas. Sure, there was a parental gun pointed at my head, but still.

I read through college, and when I entered law school, I was warned that the demands would be so great that I would not be able to read for please. Pfft. I never let up. I loved bookstores, I especially loved "Three Lives and Company" in the West Village. I loved the way the woman who worked there would guide the customers. "That's not a good book for you right now," they'd warn someone who had obviously crossed the barrier to friendship. In the 1990s, I heard Toni Morrison read from "Jazz" there. To this day, it has my favorite passage about NYC. I loved Rizzoli downtown, too. That's where I heard Kathryn Harrison read from her first novel. She was nervous, gorgeous and she blushed easily. I had no idea that she would become such a major talent and that I would so often turn to her books.

I belonged to book groups. After college, I belonged to a book club started by a woman I met in writing class. One of the women in it looked like Susan Sarandon and everyone was smart. Another woman belonged to two book clubs at the same time, but the second one, the fancy one, for which one woman flew in from London every month, disbanded over a fight about Huck Finn. Confession: I never read Huck Finn.

Now I belong to a book group, made up of other moms from my children's school. My daughter knows this. She knows that I love it. She knows how much fun we have. She couldn't care less.

She doesn't like to read.

Do I force her? Half an hour a day, whether you like it or not. Do it, like practicing the piano!

Bribe her? $10 for every book read! 10 books and that Nano is yours, engraved!

Or do I let it go, recognize that her strengths are elsewhere and rejoice when she knits hat #18?

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Mother, My Babysitter, My Chair Massage

Everything leads to the chair massage.

Since my first child was a baby, my mother offered to babysit. She didn't just offer, she insisted. And since my personal child care philosophy includes accepting help from anyone from hired professionals to recent parolees, who was I to refuse?

It soon became apparent, however, that my mother and I didn't see eye to eye on certain child care issues. Like whether it was ok for my daughter to walk around barefoot in our apartment on a scorching summer day, or whether that was essentially a gateway to her becoming addicted to heroin.

To say that my mother is a perfectionist is like saying that Angelina Jolie is not bad looking.

And not only is she a perfectionist, she's an Improver. She has lots of free advice on how to make everything better. This, however, does not extend to the recipient's mental health, but we all have to make sacrifices.

Soon I learned that it made no sense for both my mother and me to be at home with my daughter at the same time. And since she was experiencing the joys of grandmotherhood for the first time, I selflessly volunteered to get the hell out of the house and "run errands".

When you're a NYC mom (and for all I know, this could apply to moms all over the universe, so no offense, Venutian Moms!), running errands is a fantastic catch-all. Taking clothes to the dry cleaner? Running errands. Buying madras shorts for your son? Running errands, with child abuse undertones. Food shopping? Ditto. Returning a bathing suit? Ditto. Manicure? Ditto. See how you can slip it in there and it sort of works?

But really, a manicure in my world, is an errand. Because part of my world is working out of the home part-time and part of working out of the home, circa 2000, for me, meant a manicure. Nothing insane, I'm talking Ballet Slippers here. And nothing French. Good Lord. Don't get me started on French manicures.

So, there I was, getting manicured and pedicured, my shopping bags at my feet, and it was clear that I was not yet ready to come home to re-experience the joys of motherhood. The Chair Massage! I didn't have to undress, I didn't have to make an appointment, I just had to straddle the reverse-gynecological chair, put my face in a Hannibal Lecter-type vise, turn my back to the world and wait for wonderful things to happen.

It passed the time while the polish dried, it felt good and it appealed to my sybaritic tendencies. What, you thought that I would even try to deny it?

It became sort of a tradition. I would go to Blossom Nails, a surprisingly lovely nail salon, on Sixth Avenue, just north of 14th Street, on my way home from Old Navy. (Sorry for detouring again, but have you noticed that whenever you shop at Old Navy, the total is almost always $100? It's an Old Navy Miracle). Once I saw Daphne Zuniga getting a manicure and pedicure there. I must confess that the term "mani/pedi" leads me to a near-seizure condition. I cannot stand it. It reminds me of a time when I worked in a fancy shmancy art gallery and around the winter holidays, all the society ladies would come in and say "Have a Merry and a Happy." Nails on my emotional blackboard.

But anyway, Blossom Nails. And Blossom Chair Massage. Love that place.

I went there this evening for a 10 minute back massage. I got Rosa, my favorite chair massage specialist. I'm not sure that anyone working in these places is actually licensed for massage therapy, but some of these women (and I've had men too!) are so much better than others.

The thing about Rosa is that she doesn't talk. Only people who have been chair massaged by chatterers appreciate the value. She positions the timer with the alloted 10 minutes in my line of vision so that I can keep an eye on it. I need this because I like to keep track. I don't tell her that I like this, but she somehow knows. Of course maybe that's the place where it's convenient for her to place the timer, but I see this as a sign that she's spectacular. The massage itself is great, but I am biased because I think that Rosa has the perfect touch.

The big downside is that Blossom Nail has the an enormous TV screen hanging overhead and I am treated to CNBC's report on Afghani girls being educated as opposed to beheaded. And although I agree that this is an improvement, I would prefer to hear other snippets during this time of de-stressafication.

But the massage works. I feel better. i feel energized. I'm worried that I won't see Rosa for a long time, because I am going to explore other places in the area for massages.

$15 for 10 minutes. $4 tip, promises to return soon.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Chair Massage

I live in NYC and I believe that the Chair Massage is one of its greatest undiscovered treasures. Maybe not on par with the Cloisters, where you take your out of town relatives (and only your out of town relatives--seriously, has anyone in NYC just one day decided to go to the Cloisters, unprompted by tourists?). So it's not exactly like looking at medieval tapestries, but the pleasure that you can get from a chair massage--no appointment! no wait! no undressing! no credit cards! is fantastic.

For me, as a working mom in NYC it's often been a lifesaver. I'm rushing home and through some kind of miracle, I get off the subway fifteen minutes before the babysitter is supposed to leave. Only the insane would come home 15 minutes early. But what can be done in 15 minutes? Not long enough for a manicure. Not short enough for a drink (and who wants to channel Frank McCourt's father by coming home in THAT condition?)

A satisfying 10 minute massage is perfect. Not as satisfying as a 20 minute massage, but how many times a week can you claim "train trouble" before the babysitter catches on? Especially if you have that chair massage crease on your forehead?

My history with chair massages is mostly a smooth and happy one. Originally, I started getting them because I've never known boredom that approached anything like the boredom of waiting for my nails to dry, after a manicure. The polish is on, US Weekly is read, and I just sat there, fingers splayed, waiting for the paint to dry. And we all know how that goes.

In law school, in the early 1990s, I used to get manicures with my friend Allison. We would try to encourage each other to wait just one more minute before getting the hell out of the salon. We were always talking, but for some reason the fifteen minutes we had to sit with our hands under the vents and wait for our nails to dry, we had nothing to say. We'd sit in silence until one of us would say "I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE. NOT ANOTHER SECOND" and the other would act like a voice of reason, a skill that would come very useful in my mothering. If chair massages had been invented then, we would have no doubt gotten them. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure we would have gotten open heart surgery if the nail salons offered them to pass the time. But alas. It would be years before the chair massage technology would be offered.

The manicure-drying-boredom was soon surpassed by the pedicure-drying boredom. Honestly, it made the manicure drying seem like a walk in the park. On a sunny yet breezy day. With George Clooney. First of all, by the time the pedicure is over, I guarantee you will have read every magazine in the salon. As well as "War and Peace". In the original Russian. Which you learned since entering the salon. Second of all, a pedicure takes so fucking long to dry that at some point during the process, you will certainly not be able to remember why you are sitting there, what month it is, why you thought that a pedicure was a good idea in the first place. You will also probably wonder why people have feet. And the stress. Oh my God!

Everyone knows that a pedicure is only as good as the dry job. Because if you are impatient, and you leave before it's fully dry, despite the pedicure ladies' reassurances and despite their wrapping your feet in Saran Wrap (WHAT?), you are fucked. It will smudge and good luck wearing sandals. Sort of defeats the whole point, if you ask me.

So it was boredom, initially that brought me to the chair massage. But it became more. And I became a massage chair expert.

This blog will follow my NYC Chair Massage Experiences. Although I've had many, many chair massages over the years, I owe it to the blog and to you all to get a new chair massage before writing about it.

I will provide the name and address of the salon, the Chair Massage Therapist and my overall impressions about the experience.

I will start in the West Village and travel around the city getting Chair Massages and reporting faithfully. Oh, the things that I do for you!

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Nicki Loves The New York Times

This morning I almost had a heart attack when I realized that the Sunday New York Times costs $5 now. I am thisclose to starting to traumatize my kids by telling them how much things cost when I was a kid.

Fortunately, Nicki had the good sense to sit on the paper, so I'm feeling like we're really getting our money's worth. I mean, just because she has a condo to sit on, doesn't mean that she doesn't appreciate a good paper every once in a while.