Friday, May 30, 2008


I whined to Leslie several weeks ago that I had nothing to look forward to. It wasn’t hard to figure out that what I want the most is quiet time with Himself and so it seemed my will to live was contingent on a brief getaway with my beloved. Today’s the day and it will begin as soon as Nick the dentist is through with him and we hit the road. It was suggested that Ojai or Santa Barbara would be preferable but we are headed to a budget cabin in Frazier Park. I have not visited these mountains since I attended Girl Scout Camp Lakota in what must have been 1964. We slept, I remember, in cots under pine and oak trees. Previously, I’d had an awareness of being Jewish but I wasn’t sure what it meant, if anything. I didn’t go off to Sunday church services with the other girls. A girl in my group noted my absence by remarking, “I could never be friends with a Jew,” and then I knew that it meant something but I was all the more confounded as to what.

The sprats are staying with the Smiths in the nice part of Glendale and I have arranged for after school transport, put their medications in carefully labeled bags and made sure that they packed clean underwear. Even though it is only two nights and they are big boys it is hard to leave them. My every instinct is to hold on to them and keep them close but sometimes I become so weary and brittle that I am repellant to them. I pray that the time away will render me better fit and I will not turn into Ilse She-Wolf of the S.S. on Monday when I wait in line with my beloved sons at the Sprint store to replace two phones, one lost, one broken.

I am afraid to make myself look forward to things and I do not know if my life has been more or less filled with disappointment than the average one. But, I have conditioned myself to under-expect. We have a bit of food and some books and our sweatpants. The children are safe and with grown ups we all like and trust. Ana is holding down the fort and beasts at Casamurphy. I am hoping for a peaceful quiet time and a break from what Leslie calls my loud life. I leave here with all my usual trepidations about leaving and also counting my blessings. I feel enormous gratitude for the loved ones who help me survive this place and make me feel loved and ease my doubts. Two days away is not very long, but not just for me, for those at my side too, I hope I am better when I return. Feel love.

Shabbat shalom. Namaste.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rain, Rights and Rituals

A text message from Rocky, alas, due to rain there is no bootcamp. And as tired as I am, the thought of no breakfast after bootcamp is a sad one. Last night Spuds and I, after a stellar big steaming bowl of pho in a warm, and sort of skanky too, place on the outskirts of Chinatown, attended the Dodger game. Last Friday night I was sweltering at the concessions stand and came home and sat for a very long time in an ice cold tub. We played the Cardinals last night. I made Spuds wear four layers and I was a fool for not having brought gloves.

Everyone at Dodger Stadium was pretty much focused on the Laker game. One Laker fan, despite his Dodger themed Valkyrie helmet, announced the score frequently with a screaming intensity worthy of James Brown or perhaps the most talented porn stars and the crowd around us went as wild as they ever would have for the triumph of the team we were there OSTENSIBLY to be watching. It was fireworks night. I entered the stadium through Bishops Road and was relegated to parking in a different friggin’ time zone and it was friggin’ cold. I was disappointed that our boys were behind but I was gratified that it was really a pitchers’ game and therefore efficient in that way that you don’t have to waste time with the guys running around the bases and such.
Suddenly, considering how cold it was, it was the seventh inning stretch. I was thinking that even with the fireworks I’d be in bed by 11:30 and sort of ok for bootcamp.

Rain had been light and on and off throughout the game and then it began to get heavy. It was the bottom of the 9th and there was one out and the score was 2-1 Cards and a rain delay was announced. We sat, smug in the farther back seats we are happy with because they are covered. It rained. People bearing blankets to sit on the field on and watch the fireworks on streamed out of the stadium sad and sodden. As if it wasn’t pathetic enough not to have Laker tickets. Spuds and I stared out at the rain on the tarp for a few minutes and then decided to call it a night. And hour later we were home and in a warm bed and after watching a program about the Dodger’s training center in the Dominican Republic when the 65 minute rain delay ended and the big eighteen million waste Andruw Jones pitch batted the third out to lose the game. I understand the Lakers won.

I listen now to quite a bit of hip hop while the kids are in the car and am starting to be able to, at least within the universe that I rule, separate the wheat from the chaff. When I am alone in car I still listen to my usual obsessions but through the kids I have come to appreciate Tupac and Kanye West and MIA as being absolutely fresh and also keen eared for sounds that have gone before. I like listening to this with the kids because there is an intimacy about experiencing the music that is formative for them. I beam and I am filled with warmth when men around me engage Spuds in Dodger, (last night Laker–the little TRAITOR) talk and are amazed at his command of information and mental agility. Going to a game without Spuds, just like listening to hip hop by my lonesome, just wouldn’t be right.

My boys will grow away and less of my time will be spent taking pleasure in indulging their pleasures. I guess it will be the next phase of our relationship, Him and myself when the time comes for us to create our own pleasures as we did for the four years we were in love before the fifteen year old was conceived in a tiny bed in a tiny house. I noted this week how the ceremony of our marriage was a pleasantry and a nice memory but that our two hearts have soared to where mere ceremony loses relevance.

I find I have lost my appreciation for kitsch the more decrepit and fake toothed I’ve become. Wedding ceremonies and funerals and showers and even bar mitzvahs have lost their charm and seem so given to excess and mindless repetition and anxiety. It is just a phase of shifting values and it will soften. That any adult in California is now entitled to the legal protection the ritual of marriage confers is bittersweet to me as this dredges up images with power akin to civil rights protesters being sprayed by firehoses. I am ashamed that things in the country I want so to be proud of, have been this way in my lifetime. The extent to which the law of this land has been discriminatory is so heart breaking that it is hard to take pure pleasure when our lawmakers, excruciatingly slowly, cobble out justice.

My kitchen is filled with vegetables. I have gone berserk with radishes and they are beautiful but they are the later spring varieties and have a bit too much bite. Himself leaves strawberries out of the fridge for his breakfast because they are so much better at room temperature and he is clomping around here in his South Park p.j.s and I am listening to Ella here in my nice kitchen and I am counting my blessings. How many couples in America are lolling around and chilling now, on the cusp of the first three day weekend of the summer? I have my worries but I am assured of health insurance coverage by my husband’s employer and that we are entitled to each others’ social security and if it becomes necessary, one of us can sign the paper to pull the plug. I have taken this for granted for seventeen years and I feel chastened now to think of all of the couples together far longer than ourselfs for whom the court decision came too late.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Beloved and the Glass on the Night Stand

Now anyone can marry in the state of California. For all who have fought long and hard for access to this institution, you are welcome to it. I was a June bride seventeen years ago. Our wedding was small and tasteful and there was, as is inevitable, some bad behavior. I read a great novel called Wishbone by Tom Perotta about a wedding band and was reminded of all the conventions and trappings that define ritual marriage in the U.S. of A. Garters and bridesmaids and rehearsal dinners and and and…it all just seems icky. We did the wedding thing. It was nice. Did it change our relationship or have any bearing on the way we are connected at this moment? No. We observe our anniversary, albeit modestly, each year but it really is just an arbitrary date and is largely irrelevant.

Himself took Spuds to the Dodger game yesterday but became highly annoyed when I left him some cash and told him to stop at the Von’s for a snack for the little man instead of spending big bucks at Chavez Ravine. “He just ate his dinner!” Himself wailed at me. Himself does not snack as a rule and is repulsed by the recreational eating habits with which I have poisoned his progeny. The fifteen year olds’ posse had pretty much cleaned us out of snacks but I smuggled Spuds my last pack of Mike ‘N Ikes and a water bottle. My beloved returned from the game grousing about enormous people imbibing enormous quantities of beer and nachos. His disgust at this was somewhat mitigated by having found a dime in the parking lot.

I told him that I was discontinuing my regular visits with Leslie and I expected him to say, “Well of course you are, you’re perfect.” He did not say that and seems perhaps to feel that he has an unwritten contract with Leslie to turn me into less of a bitch. I talked about the cellphone thing again with Leslie and ascribed some of it to a sort of technology retardation but there is also a selfishness to it. I have resorted to public humiliation and nothing has changed. I will express anger each and every time I am inconvenienced by his inaccessibility due to the $35.00 a month phone being turned off. It’s not a deal breaker and I’m not going to leave him because of it. This standoff is a symbol to me of the perfection we will never attain but continue to strive for. I bug the shit out of him too. But for the most part, we piss each other off less frequently and with reduced severity with every passing year.

In ticking off items on the table of mental heath variables with Leslie during our last session (although I do have a check up scheduled in a month) I may not have become the Stepford wife my husband was hoping he could purchase with his hard earned cash, things do add up to a reasonable sanity. I have been reading a lot of novels, going to bootcamp religiously, practicing yoga and taking the time to write here. My house is a mess. Our garage makes me weep and my kids desperately need haircuts. My dad, who always made me feel guilty for not working hard enough, has been dead over six months. My mother’s sterile lonely house was sold and desecrated many months ago. I will never work as hard as my dad did and my home will never be as fastidious as my mom’s. I frequently tell their voices of disapproval which resonate in my head to shut the fuck up. And then I have to remind myself whose voice it really is.

The business is all mine now and the air conditioning is out and the roof should be replaced and there is always equipment on the verge of malfunction or obsolescence. Payroll keeps me awake at night. My husband envies my freedom of self employment and I envy him the check that comes in every two weeks like clockwork. I haven’t touched my dad’s office although Richard is starting to grunt about it so it’s just a matter of time. I cherish so much of his legacy but my father also had some spectacular failures. He made some terrible decisions and trusted people he should not have and lost an enormous amount of money in a number of different schemes, many of which I cautioned him against. This makes me a bit shy about the risk taking imperative for the survival of my business. I look at my dad’s failures and feel more tender because he truly believed in every venture and worked as hard as he could to make a go. I love the children’s theatre. It has held our community together for almost a decade and has brought joy to my children. Last weekend’s production had some lovely moments and was beautiful to look at but overall, to my mind, it was a spectacular failure. Good, smart experienced people who tried to redirect this juggernaut, like me in attempting to counsel my dad, were ignored. None of this had anything to do with lack of hard work or good intentions. I pray for the strength to work as hard as loved ones who have failed, but also, for the sagacity and humility to listen to the good smart voices I am blessed to be surrounded by.

I had a tooth pulled last year and went through the steps to prepare for a dental implant. I discovered that with the necessary bone grafts the cost for an implant for a single molar would have been over $2500.00 and that not a penny of this would be covered by insurance. I might pay $2500.00 for a finger and perhaps even for a toe as I enjoy wearing sandals in the warmer weather but I put the kibosh on paying that much for a friggin’ molar. Today, I received from Nick a prosthetic molar, held in place by pink plastic straps. It is quite comfortable but I am advised that it should be removed before bed. This to me, is a huge step toward decrepitude, as while it is a single tooth only and not a full denture, there is the image of teeth (tooth…) in a glass of water on the nightstand. Nick even provided some effervescent denture cleaning tablets, a huge fucking kick in the ass closer to the grave.

And it is a dance towards inevitable death for me and my beloved. My life is loud and I love it. But, what I learned in therapy is that while I love the flurry of people and food and pets and my life in the city, my heart yearns to someday slip away to a quiet place with my beloved and send both of our cell phones off to a charity for soldiers or battered women or deaf children and perhaps with more than a single fake tooth soaking by the bed, spend our days nibbling tea and toast and reading and writing. And this is why, to me, ceremonies and dates have little meaning. The thing of it is that I have grown to love another human being so thoroughly and completely (except the cell phone thing) that I dream of forsaking many things which have and continue to give meaning to my life to live quietly and simply bask in love.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I Love You Just the Way You Are, Except...

My hair has only been cut by Charles for over twenty-five years. Himself had one emergency haircut, which was a huge disappointment, and other than that, he has been shorn by Charles exclusively for nearly twenty years. When I first met my beloved he sported a mullet. I had been boyfriendless for many years when we met and had spent many sleepless lonely nights pondering what I had done wrong to find myself in this position. I created a number of affirmations for myself, lest I ever find myself in another relationship. Then God sent me this creature who read what I read and listened to what I listened to and laughed at what I laughed at. My beloved has problem hair, roadkill pelts come to mind. My first thought upon meeting him was, “He’s cute and has the most soulful eyes I have ever seen.” I stopped my second thought by chanting to myself over and over again, “Do not try to change him.” We fell in love and were inseparable within weeks of our first meeting and I was scrupulous, in this early stage at least, about not trying to reinvent him.

One day my new boyfriend announced that he needed a haircut and he was loyal to a hairdresser in Venice and he planned to take a two hour bus ride there from Echo Park for a trim. I said nothing, but it was a Herculean effort in restraint. Later in the day though, he called me, a bit frazzled. The hairdresser had left the state. Did I perhaps know someone who could cut his hair? I rank this moment, along with the birth of my children and the announcement that Trader Joe’s was opening in Silverlake, as one of the happiest in my life. Charles’ Studio, was closer than Venice, but for most of my adult life, a haircut has been the only reason I ventured west of La Brea. The shop was in a little cottage on what used to be a non-descript strip of Melrose down near Robertson.
Charles designed the shop himself in black and red with vintage sex-ploitation film posters and a collection of toy robots he actively discouraged my children from playing with and a collection of his own photographs of an obese naked man wearing a gas mask. Charles also believes very much in the paranormal and often vacations at Area 51. And, his phone is tapped. He had two other salon chairs installed and claimed for years he wanted other stylists to rent space from him. He also told me, earnestly, that he was hoping to find and seduce a beautiful wealthy woman who would take care of him. After knowing the man for twenty-five years, I would say that perhaps he lacks the social skills to accomplish either of these goals and he worked the shop by himself and has no significant other as far as I know. The man though, was born to cut hair and for many years his cuts have blessed my beloved with hair befitting his inner beauty.

A Charles haircut begins with a thorough wash and condition and scalp massage followed by a meticulous haircut, always a full hour process and not a cheap one. Before Harry fled north, he was a devotee of Charles. Once, I guess about 20 years ago, in an effort to control his drug use, he transferred all his money to a very conservative friend who would dole it out to him only when appropriate. This scheme, as I recall, went south really quickly but not before I received a call from the financial overseer, concerned that Harry had backslid and using again. Her concern was that he had asked for $40 for a haircut. Beauty ain’t cheap.

Charles’ little strip of no man’s Melrose started to hippify a number of years ago. The grossest example is the odious Urth CafĂ©, directly across the street. Charles’ rates rose steadily through the years but were always in what I considered in the “medium range.” I was surprised that his rent continued to be manageable in what became a pricey little strip of Melrose. The axe fell a few months ago and Charles was forced to vacate his space of twenty five years and rent a booth in an old lady shop in West Los Angeles, even farther for us and with even crappier parking than available in hoity toity WeHo. Charles also announced a pretty steep price increase. My hair doesn’t grow. Really. I have a trim about once a year and perhaps it may look ratty to others but it just doesn’t really cry out to me to be cut. Himself, however, requires serious hair maintenance every six weeks and given our current forced austerity we were obliged to question our loyalty to Charles. Himself has appeared hatted in public for several weeks but I returned home last night I found him au natural and knew that we had entered a critical phase. I consulted Yelp and called a couple of highly rated places in the Silverlake area. I managed to get him an appointment at a shop that was well recommended. After dropping the kids at rehearsal we made our way to Silverlake, although my passenger engaged in so much backseat driving he is lucky not to have been dropped off as fodder for a coyote pack as we traversed the park. The shop was hipster Chicano with all manner of gel and piercings and tattoos and People Magazine en espanol. Everyone was genial and the process took less than half an hour and cost, including tip, less than a third of Charles' current rate. I am posting photographic evidence but the real proof will be the day after look, haircut codified by shower. My haircut needs are meager and I will continue to endure Charles for my annual clip until one of us dies. I’m way over that thing about not trying to change your partner (although I have certainly struck out with the fucking cellphone HAVEN’T I?) After work I’ll give the bargain cut my final inspection but I’ve already got some copy drafted for Craig’s List—kidney available in exchange for haircut.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Succor of Sugar and Crackhead Skanks

I begged off selling concessions for the kids play and all the attendant bending and retrieving sodas from ice filled coolers and went home and finished a novel. I returned in time to see the curtain calls and take my happy thespians out for Mother’s Day dinner. Another minute was shaved off the play (Sunday: 2 hours and 59 minutes) and best of all, the writer-director took the time to apologize to the children for his rant about missed rehearsals, which I thought was incredibly classy and was a beautiful example of taking responsibility for screwing up and apologizing for all the kids. We went for Vietnamese food and on the way back to our car, there was a hugely pregnant Hispanic woman who was spending Mother’s day wrestling with a big industrial mop and trying to keep two sweet faced toddlers in tow while she cleaned the scuzzy elevator at the Bamboo Plaza. I was slapped by how inconsequential my complaints really are. The fifteen year old made me a mix tape with rappers singing about their moms and even if some of the moms are referred to as crackhead skank hos, I am touched. Spuds purchased two boxes of Mike and Ike Tropical Typhoon for me and we polished off a whole one and half of the other while we watched the Mother’s Day episodes of the Simpsons and Family Guy. It was a good Mother’s Day.

I woke up though feeling the dread of knowing that even though there are only four weeks left in the semester, we could not send the fifteen year old back to his school and there was no other place to enroll him. Simply keeping him home could have loosed truant officers on us and would have guaranteed he’d receive no academic credit for the ninth grade. I’d spent hours on the phone trying to find a solution. I was referred to an independent study program but was told they were no longer accepting students. In my fierce mother mode, I asked for the principal and explained our circumstances. Exceptions were made (and deserved!) and the fifteen year old will begin an independent study program near our home and with a very sweet teacher, tomorrow. If he doesn’t fuck up (and the level of scrutiny will be code red) he will be able to begin 10th grade in September with full credit and good grades for all of the 9th grade. He is cheerful today, watching DOA and performing odd jobs here at the office and relieved to have a clean slate and perhaps even to have a fierce, unrelenting mother.

Richard, knowing the nightmare I am going through with the school, took it upon himself to call my aunt, who he has known for years and socialized with frequently. He politely asked her to give me a buzz before taking my mom from the facility. My expectation was that she would apologize because her thoughtlessness had spoiled our Mother’s Day celebration and the commemoration of my sister’s 65th birthday. But, my aunt hit the ceiling and was terribly insulted. This is someone who has never approved of me and she and her late husband seemed to expect me to kiss their asses despite this. I wrote her a letter thanking her sincerely for the effort she put in to visiting my mom but also stating pretty clearly that if her continuing attentions to my mother were hostage to my fawning and ass kissing that we could all live without them. I was very polite but firm and feel almost exhilarated that I’ve ended or at least redefined on my own terms, a relationship that has made me feel inferior and small my whole life. This woman would punish my mother (her husband’s sister) by withholding her attention because of my failure to grovel and suck up and it feels good to have removed myself from that dance. And my mother will never know the difference, visit or no visit.

I don’t think my (too weak to crack plaster) fist will be pounding any walls today. My children witnessed a lovely example of an adult admitting poor judgment and saying he was sorry. We saw a downtrodden woman celebrating Mother’s Day by mopping up filth and see the smallness of our own complaints. The fifteen year old is relieved to be out of a school where he wasn’t safe and even noted his appreciation for the love and tenacity I displayed in making this happen. I have stood up for myself in a relationship with someone who has made me feel wrong and small for as long as I can remember. I don’t have to mop elevators and my children really do love me and there are many other people who love and approve of me without requiring me to kiss their asses. I’m sure that in no time the 15 year old will piss me off but good and that there will be more stern lectures from Spuds when I don’t live up to his conservative ideals and/or don’t keep my mouth shut when he feels it prudent. Inevitably, some asshole’s cellphone won’t be on when I urgently need to reach him and our bed will be made like it’s been short sheeted in some sort of fraternity prank. Maybe next time my fist will actually penetrate the wall but tonight I’m going to bootcamp to jump over friggin hurdles and bitch and moan with the girls I love and then come home here to Tobacco Road and remake my room temperature iq made bed and get into it and read a novel and there’s still half a box of Mike and Ike on the night stand. I think sometimes about winning the lottery but except for the money part, it feels at this moment like I have.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Weakened

After my attempt at meaningful discussion about his academic future, I was told by the fifteen year old to go fuck myself. The next morning, out of apparent hostility, he fed the breakfast I had prepared for him to the dogs and he left his lunch at home. He has forgotten his lunch in the past and I have driven several miles out of my way to deliver it to him. On this morning I had a medical appointment and also felt disinclined to deliver the lunch of someone who would have me go fuck myself. He called later in the morning, astounded that his lunch had not been dropped off and I hung up on him and felt guilty all day.

The fifteen year old has not been a model student. I have attempted to discuss this with him, pretty unsuccessfully and Himself and I spend a lot of time being pissed off at him but I am still a fierce mom and no matter what, the fifteen year old is a child, yes an edgy child, but sadly at sea in a world of adults who behave (inexcusably) like edgy children themselves. We have made many requests from his school and I have verified that our expectations are within our rights and the school has failed repeatedly. We received a letter from the administration yesterday that was so pussy and shitheaded and shirking of responsibility that we realize we must get him out of there as soon as possible, as in, before the end of the semester.

I have always had mixed feelings about the theatre group and I know that the fifteen year old hasn’t been a star trouper there this season. A few rehearsals were missed, due to my inability to correctly read the complicated schedule. Tonight is opening night, after a dress rehearsal last night that ran over seven hours. The director of the theatre has often been criticized for writing plays that are overlong. It is a joke among the parents but honest pleas for shorter productions have been ignored. After last night’s ludicrously long rehearsal there was a savage e-mail from the director stating that there would be cuts and blaming the kids who had missed rehearsal. These are children Goddammit. They’ve worked hard on this play and were excited about it. How fun will it be now for the ones who have had their parts cut and have been publicly humiliated? This is children’s theatre. This angry attacking e-mail astounded me. The implication that the problem is unprepared kids instead of a play that is two hours too long is a surprising display of childishness and I hope that these accusations are recanted and that there is some major damage control when fatigue lifts and maturity prevails. I am the mother of a teenager and I am the first to admit he is in a fuck up phase but I feel like scratching the eyes of out adults who would shift the blame for a personal failure onto children, even if the children are snarky little shits.

Tomorrow I will pick up my mother from the steaming cesspool of now and take her to celebrate Mother’s Day. She will blather on that my kids, whose names she forgets, are taller than SHE is and that they wear jeans just like the ones SHE has and complain that they don’t have the same eye color that SHE does. Dementia has rendered my mom a parody of her narcissistic self-centered self. I thought long and hard back to the days before she began to fade and tried to recall a time that I enjoyed being in her company and I could not.

Tomorrow is my sister Sheri’s birthday. She would have been 65. My mother has no memory of her nor of pretty much of anything sad or painful. I look at both of their lives and I feel really fucking sad. I feel like a survivor and have feelings of superiority that make me guilty. Was I as big a pain in the ass at age 15 as my elder son was? Was my mother as fierce in my defense as I am in my fifteen year old’s? Have I forgotten? God, forgive me if I have. Is it my own destiny to be forgotten and become nothing more than an obligation to be trotted out and fed once a week?

Himself read this piece in incomplete form and said it was too harsh with regard to the theatre group but I still feel it was wrong to blame the children for an overlong play. The play has been trimmed though. Friday’s performance was almost four hours but last night it was whittled down, perhaps in compliance with the Geneva Convention, to a pithy three. I was expressing my concerns about the theatre group and Spuds acknowledged them. But he added, that he wished I would keep my mouth shut because he was having so much fun and that was all that really matters. I try very hard to teach my children forgiveness and indeed, to see them so happy reminds me of the need to practice it myself.

I am struggling here though. Our housekeeperless house is crumbling. Himself tries to help me and he loves me so much and is the light of my life but he is a retard and cannot fold a shirt or make a bed or understand the fine logic of my kitchen layout when unloading the dishwasher. And I lost a precious hour of work this week and it could have been avoided if his cell phone had been turned on.

I arrived at the "hotel" yesterday with the boys dressed up and gifts and a restaurant reservation for an early Mother’s Day celebration with Grandma to find that an aunt, who doesn’t much like me, had already arrived and removed my mother from the premises. Perhaps it was a Mother’s Day blessing to not to have suffer through a meal with her but I was stung , and it felt like near hostility, that I was not consulted. In keeping with the weirdness that seems to whirl around this particular Mother’s Day weekend, there arrived a generous gift from Himself’s birthmother in San Francisco of Dungeness crabs, which of course are not eaten in our Jewish household.

There has been constant drama with the fifteen year old all weekend and Monday, I face what bodes to be a prolonged battle involving lawyers and advocates and myriad professionals towards resolving the school nightmare. I see in him, a selfishness that reminds me of my mother and my sister and still mystifies me but is balled up in something I think that has to do with not being able to feel love. I found myself so tired and bitter and angry that for the first time in my life I slammed my fist into a wall. I did not break the plaster, but Casamurphy is full of evidence from other fist pounders who have.

I cried a lot yesterday. My poor husband was frightened. He held me tight in our bed which could have been made up more efficiently by a team from the sheltered workshop. I felt his heart near mine as he held me, the father of these children who complete our lives and confound us. My tears subsided and our breathing synchronized like we were a single machine and I felt gradually my crushing fatigue replaced by hope. I am a fierce mother. I am. I know I am. Love will prevail.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Don't Be Hatin'

I thought the difference was negligible after a week with no brownies and scant smoke but the fifteen year old busted me and pointed out that there was something definitely off. The airfare to San Francisco is sky high and I decided it was time to start baking. As a cook, the thought of wasting expensive ingredients mortifies me. At Christmas, Joe was playing around with $100.00 tenderloins for Beef Wellington and I was agitated about what was transpiring, even in a kitchen some 400 miles from mine. Nevertheless, I visited Michael at Cornerstone Research and interrogated him about every nuance of baking pot edibles. A patient and learned man, he finally got so disgusted with me, he shouted,” If stoned drooling hippies have been able to bake with pot for decades, I’m sure someone with your intellect will have no difficulty.” Indeed, I had no difficulty and produced a 30 day supply of medication without a lot of labor. Even without costing-in airfare and shipping, these will be less expensive (a little more than a dollar a day) than the SF items. I used kief (a powdered form of hash) and I while I definitely felt the thc the two mornings I have consumed my nut bars, I have never really had good results with hash and I am afraid the effect of my homemade efforts may be more depressive than the SF brownies and for my next batch I will use leaves and shake rather than a hash derivative. It still chaps my hide that I can’t pick up a month’s supply of capsules for a ten dollar co-payment at the Rite Aid. The house stinks and the sprats know that Momma weren’t bakin’ no gingerbread.

Clinton and Obama are considered to be friends of the medical marijuana movement and also likely to support legislation towards decriminalizing the recreational use of pot. We’ll never be like Amsterdam, but there is a glimmer of hope. McCain has been cagey in avoiding the subject altogether, simply indicating it should be left up to the states. I don’t love any of the three candidates but I think that any of them will be better than Bush. My vote will be for the Democrat but it won’t be true love, like for the first presidential candidate I ever voted for, Jimmy Carter. With regard to specific issues, Obama is perhaps a tiny bit closer to being my man, but the Wright thing really sucks. I’ve listened to portions of Wright’s sermons and parts of them are beautiful and meaningful and uplifting but his tirades about AIDS and 9-11 are friggin’ insane. Even Mein Kampf has long passages which would seem quite sensible if one didn’t know by whom they were writ. If Wright’s outrageous statements are news to Obama (Wright has been going on like this for years and the church even sold tapes of him spouting this delusional paranoid crap) then he hasn’t been as involved in his church as he claims. If, and I really think this is the case, he knew exactly what the good Reverend was spouting and entered a race to be the President of the United States while still affiliated with his church, his judgment is frighteningly suspect.

I admire Hilary. I think she is brave and well meaning and smart but I suspect more beholden than anyone can begin to imagine. This pandering gas tax moratorium really pissed me off though. This is politics at its most cynical and both McCain and Clinton should be really taken to task for trying to buy votes so shamelessly and playing the American voter for such a sucker.

This was posted on Chowhound last week:
#1 rule on vietnamese dining ( ask any old vietnamese person and they'll tell you the same thing ) : Always eat in a vietnamese restaurant that is populated with vietnamese diners. If there are a lot of non vietnamese people ( caucasians ), the food is crap. Reason being, hardcore vietnamese people know what vietnamese food should taste like.

What if I had written, “Always eat in an American restaurant that is populated with American diners. If there are a lot of non-American people (Vietnamese), the food is crap.” Would that have been ok? It certainly would not have gotten past the Chowhound moderators, as this post did with nary a raised eyebrow.

I am in pretty protected groups, except for the Caucasian thing. It’s not cool to publicly dis women or Jews. An admitted pothead, I do get my share of Bob Marley and Grateful Dead jokes but I’m thick skinned and I ain’t gonna get political about it. I hang out with relatively evolved and educated individuals and most of ‘em would always err on the side of political correctness. My Silverlake and adjacent compadres would poke out their own eye with a fried chicken leg before uttering “black” instead of African American. I’m still not sure how to politically correctly refer to a black person who cannot be positively identified as an American. I notice however, that among my hypersensitive-about-hate-speech left coast cohorts that the South, Christianity and particularly Catholicism are fair game. My kids perform in the Silverlake Children’s Theatre and the plays performed reflect, I guess, community mores. There are no references to dancin’ black people eating watermelon or usurious big nosed Jewish folks or women being intellectually inferior to men. Even allusions to Asian driving skills are verboten. But, it’s ok to ridicule the Pope and Christianity and produce a play about stupid southerners called Dumb White Crackers.

The fifteen year old asked me this weekend if his dad is a racist. Why do kids always ask you shit like that when you’re driving? After averting the fatal accident, I marshaled a bit of equanimity and replied that Himself is not a racist, but a misanthrope. He can be a real asshole and this gets on my nerves, but he at least he hates everyone and everything equally. I do wish he liked people more but he’s just not a sunny guy. Sometimes he doesn’t even like me very much, but I’ll take equal opportunity hatred over stupid politically correct lefty hypocrisy any day. I tried to explain this weird dark fairness to the fifteen year old and I think he sort of gets it. I do hope really that a Democrat is the president but I hope that it is a triumph for an individual man or woman and not a success or defeat for a race or gender. I will explain to the fifteen year old that his old man’s contempt for whoever the next president is will not be rooted in race or gender either. And there must be thousands of restaurants in Viet Nam and the preponderance of diners must be Vietnamese. Does that mean that the food is good in all of them? The next time someone directs a Cheech and Chong jibe my way, I may even take umbrage and confront the hate speech. If I’m not too stoned to think up a witty rejoinder.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Get Some Fucking Manners

I lived, briefly in the late ‘70s, with a fellow counselor at the methadone clinic where I worked. She exaggerated when applying for the position, claiming that she was a recovering addict with several years clean when, in truth, she’d only been off of heroin for a month or two. She had a three year old son. He demanded a cookie and I coached him to say “please.” She hit the ceiling, and accused me of trying to turn him into an ass kissing soulless automaton. She relapsed shortly after this and stuck me with rent and an enormous phone bill.

The kabob joint I wanted to try with the kids was closed and we ended up, against my better judgment, at the breathtakingly mediocre California Pizza kitchen. A couple with a sour faced kid was seated at the booth next to ours. The boy excavated his nose and flicked his findings hither and yon. Their food arrived and the boy and the father gobbled huge pieces of chicken with fork and fingers, although if the original set up hadn’t included a knife, I’m sure the restaurant would have been happy to provide one. The waiter asked the lad if he wanted a soda refill and the response was a grunted “nah...”

I am not Emily Post and I am the mother of a child who recently shouted “fuck” a number of times during a meeting with his surfin’ rabbi Spanish teacher and the uptight principal of his school. Both of my parents were devotees of colorful language and having spent most of my working life in the company of men, most as salty tongued as my father, I have developed an over reliance on vulgar verbiage. Sometimes Spuds and I overhear the drunks surrounding us at the stadium using “fuckin” in lieu of any other adjective or verb, and yes, I am a hypocrite, but it makes my skin crawl. At least I use lots of other words too. Really. But there are times when it seems that only “fuck” or “shit” or some conjugation thereof will do. My children have picked this up from me, much to Himself’s disgust. I regret it and feel embarrassed when they use these vulgarities without imagination, like the drunks at the game, and when they are too stupid to realize the consequences of swearing in certain company.

The curse words are a work in progress but my kids have written thank-you notes for every gift they have received ever since they’ve been able to write their names. They know that it is important to RSVP when an invitation requests this and that when invited for a meal at someone’s house, one brings a small hostess gift and should call the next day to say thank-you. Sometimes they say that I am weird and call me a snob but I think they are starting to get it. The fifteen year old experiences the harshness of the city every day on his train ride. Spuds sits surrounded often by drunken louts at the game. We are cramped in and subject to myriad indignities and humiliations and people glower at you instead of saying “excuse me” when they bump into you.

Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, says that manners have nothing to do really with making people feel better but are merely a demonstration that a person was “raised correctly” but to me, humility and tiny acts of thoughtfulness and consideration are a small anecdote to the mean, aggressive vulgar reality televised world. They may say “fuck” but they also say “please” and “thank-you” and “excuse me.” My boys appreciate thoughtfulness and they like to make people feel good. I often receive compliments on their manners from their friends’ parents and despite their frequent impatience with my tight assedness, I know that this makes them feel proud. I have encouraged them not to lord the code of conduct I require of them over others and they know that it is particularly egregious breech of etiquette to criticize anyone else’s manners, unless of course you are his mother or his wife.

Manners are important to me and I strive to impart this to my kids as a way of being gentle rather than as a vehicle to feel superior to others who were not raised to be soulless automatons but thoughtless assholes. Perhaps Miss Manners is partially right that manners are important because they are an indicator of how one was raised. I want the world to know that I raised my boys to be humble and considerate and thoughtful because I love the little fuckers.