The Battlefield Where the Girls Say I Love You

That's just the thing: we will never tell you we love you. In fact, we're here only to hold hands across state lines and yell at the world. We're here to try to touch you across this chasm of flown things. Not even that. At most, I will teach you how to make a gin smoothie when there's nothing left in the house. Hannah can teach you several languages and what to do when your car breaks up with you. Thanks for coming out.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

the first baptist church welcomes you to denmark, sc:

from what my father says, the sign used to read, "welcome to denmark, sc. impeach earl warren." chief justice. integration. you get it. anyway, on sunday i followed carlyle to denmark to meet his family. i'd met roughly a third already but none of the biggies: mom, dad, grandmother, various neighbors.

after turning off of I-26 onto 321, the highway speed limit dropped to 35. train tracks ran through the center of most towns, churches (some pentecostal, some presbyterian) lined the road. at one point, an unattended piglet lingered on the side of the road.
hannah yelled, "DELIVERANCE! turn back!!!" into the phone.

call waiting beeped. carlyle.
he said, "i've got a story about that piggly wiggly grocery we passed back there."
we pulled onto a dirt road. he parked, motioned for me to park and get into his truck.

hannah yelled "do not get out of the car!" into the phone.
in the truck, carlyle said, "you're going to blog about this."

"absolutely not," i said.
later, hannah yelled into the phone, "what? you've got to!!! stop putting him before your art!!!" she was kidding. of course she was kidding...

anyway, his family was lovely. we ate dinner in courses on fine china. each of us had our own salt and pepper dish. they asked if carlyle had met my family. i remembered, faintly, our defrosting the gumbo for his visit.

okay, so then a sort of pub crawl...only with people. families came over to deliver presents. we went to their houses (where it took all i had not to blurt out, "is that a bayonet on the wall?"), drank german beers by the indoor pool.

anyway, it was awesome.

Monday, December 24, 2007

"you don't make a hog fatter by weighing it."

from our John Edwards, presidential candidate of these United States, in reference to no child left behind and its tendency toward testing in lieu of seen in the sunday new york times (where, i will say, two books of poetry were reviewed this week. two!)

now, is john edwards a two-faced jackass who uses his down-homeness in order to lure, well, just about anyone? yes. did he sue my friend's father for malpractice, lose, then send the family a christmas card? absolutely. and yet, well, that quote is adorable...i don't care who wrote it for him.

i will preface the next political comment by saying: if mike huckabee ever actually became president, canada would not be far enough. hannah and i and the kids would be in brogue within 72 hours. but i will say, his naivete is captivating. in a recent interview, the poor guy asked about huckabee's recent hundred pound weight loss. huck said, "it's just one of the ways i'm beating satan." then, in one of those petrarchan sonnet "turn" sort of ways, the writer steps back mid-article and says, "this was an entirely different mike huckabee than the one i met six weeks earlier..." that mike huckabee was given a choice: we'll meet at whatever restaurant you'd like. he chose TGIFriday's. the writer, smartly, refused. they settled on Olive Garden. (strangely, i've been to both of these restaurants with daisy...)

is it too obvious to say that our country is kind of like a cirque de soleil show, only with everyone fucking up?

okay, i'm totally in the spirit of best and worst. i feel, though, that mine are too obvious: the paris hilton larry king live interview, time and materials, that song by carrie underwood about cheating, no country for old men, my summer with hannah, amy winehouse, the lazy goat, beyonce falling on stage, my new keen hiking boots, discovering toffee nut sprinkles at starbucks, the dollar becoming about as potent as those new toy guns that shoot marshmallows...

so.....SONGS!!! top 10 songs/albums of the year!!! yea! now, before tomric jumps through the computer, i must say: not a fan of magic, the new springsteen album. nor can i stand wilco's sky blue sky. tweedy, i too hate it here. plus, isn't "on and on and on" an erykah badu song?

that being said:

10. grace potter and the nocturnals...apologies (this is somewhere)
9. spoon...the underdog (ga ga ga ga ga)
8. tegan and sara...back in your head (the con)
7. glen hansard and marketa irglova...falling slowly (once soundtrack)
6. rilo kiely...silver lining (under the black light)
5. the new pornographers...all the old showstoppers (challengers)
4. loudon wainwright III...strange weirdos (music from knocked up)
3. ryan adams...these girls (easy tiger)
2. glen hansard and marketa irglova...when your mind's made up (once soundtrack)
1. the avett brothers...paranoia in B flat major (emotionalism)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Raindrops on Aaron and kittens in heat

Hi. How’s it going? Are you all baking cookies and holding hands? Is your house/cave ablaze with cheer??! WHOOOOHOOOO CHRISTMAS. Thanks for taking a break from all the joy to visit the blog, where I have decided to do a list of my least favorite and most favorite things.

LF: That it’s Friday night and I have a wicked flu and fever and am at home writing this list.

MF: That Mamie is currently at a slumber party which involves Webkinz and 4 yr old girls.

LF: That Maus is in heat. It’s god-awful. I wanted to hold off blogging about it because there’s something shameful and humiliating about having a cat in heat. Like it’s too private or something. Next thing you know I’ll be fretting about showing my ankles in front of men. Whatever. It’s so bad that she yeowls fearfully all the time and slinks about in this posture, if you know what I mean, and backs herself up pleadingly to inanimate objects. I’m SORRY but it’s TRUE. And before you put your fingertips together knowingly, let me just say that she’s too young to be spayed. This is the eeee-eeend of the innocence.

MF: After the wind had blown Aaron’s hood off his head six times in succession today, he stopped walking, stamped his foot, glowered up at the sky, and shouted, “STOP. STOP WINDING AND RAINING. I’LL. BUY. YOU. A. PRESENT.” He enunciated the words just like that, to make sure his words made it up to the sky.

“What kind of present would you give the rain to stop?” I asked him.

“I’d write it a book,” he told me.

“What kind of book?”

“A book where it could rain and wind the whole way through.” And the boy who thought he could bribe the rain with a story tugged his hood up and shoved his hands in his pockets.

LF: The fact that my neighbors, en masse, have delivered cards and presents. The worst were these fruit/nut balls, which were straight up inedible. It all means I’ll have to go out again tomorrow to buy these sort of ridiculous tree candles from Pottery Barn bc they practically hurtle themselves at you screaming, Perfect gift for neighbors!!

Also, they have informed that our neighborhood does this whole business of candles in sand-weighted milk jugs on Christmas eve. The whole effort just seems like some sort of frantic show, some deranged tribute to our merriment. "Just make sure you have a dozen milk jugs sawed in half", they said cheerfully, "and those tall candles; if you use short ones, make sure you run out in the night and change them out." I eyed them warily--WHO exactly are we doing this for? And right then, it occurred to me. We'll probably have carollers. Do you have to tip them??

MF: Kan, tonight, as I was leaving their room. Oh, and by the way, do you know that they recite the ee cummings poem to me now, the i carry your heart with me one? Anyhow, after they recite the poem to me and say their prayers in Hebrew, Kan goes:

"Hannah, reach out your hand. There is a kiss whistling softly by the lamp."

**Soon to come: "From hairdresser to mailman: who gets the gift?" Ok, so that probably won't happen, although Mamie and I have this conversation all the time: SHOULD I buy them for teacher's ASSISTANTS? (Yes, yes, obviously yes. Candles from Pottery Barn shaped likes doves and trees.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dear Wipes-Snot-on-Shirt and Spills-Milk-on-Laptop,

In two hours, we are not getting on a flight that takes you from New York to Indonesia. Neither am I stuffing you onto a flight from New York to Guam. We are not doing this because we never took the flight yesterday out of Wilmington—that part of your itinerary having been systematically ignored by the deciders.

The upshot is that you’re here with me, or else I’m here with you, for a few more months. I’m miffed and humbled about how you could be overjoyed about this. Don’t you remember that I’m the one that absolutely can’t look at you when you’re chewing because there’s broccoli looking like green mash and, wait, is that a bit of chicken? Gross, you get the point. I’m also the person who says, hush hush hush over and over, because the sounds you’re making, well they’re actually making these tiny cracks appear all over my brain and just one tap now is all it will take.

Despite all of this, you ARE overjoyed and I would like you to know it and remember it so that when you are thirteen and twelve and evil and mean and saying things like, I hate you and you SUCK, I can simply point smugly to the time when you were like, Wooohooo, AWESOME, and I had my hands pushed against my temples like I was trying to hold my brain in.

There were a few hours when I thought I was losing you before Christmas that I was really nice and patient. That illusion was effectively dispelled when you came down to announce that you had painted the carpet upstairs orange and green. Your exact words, Kan, were: “I’m afraid to tell you this, but…” And I bounded upstairs and pointed and screamed and stamped and went and huddled in my bedroom closet. Where, 10 minutes later, you brought me a note: “Der Hannah, we have tried to cleaned it up. We paynted it wite.” And now it’s all fixed, because there is a hard, cement-like swath of grayish paint with splotches of orange and green beneath.

Meanwhile, things are still unhinged with our family. But I figure if you’re old enough to use search words like “hannah + wine” you are old enough to know that our father is a suicidal, bankrupt lawyer who has been shouting “no money for doctors” and often “I’m lonely” and just recently “what will become of me” to me, his daughter, who’s on enough anti-depressants to put an elephant smiling.

Still, we have ice-skating to look forward to. And presents. Aaron, there was a sweet moment yesterday when you said you wanted to buy your teacher a pretty dress for Christmas (“eeeehhhh, actually, Heeeennnneeehh, can you pick a dress for her?”) and Kan, never to be outdone, decided your teacher needed a gold necklace with a medium diamond. Cookies it is.

Thanks for staying. Love and impatient groans,

Monday, December 17, 2007

can't see the line, can you russ?

we, the family, had decided initially to take a trip in lieu of giving gifts this year. unfortunately, due to family illness/mayhem, we are reverting to capitalist square one. which is fine with me. only: i'm still getting over feelings of entitlement. say, nick lachey* is never leaving vanessa manillo in order to show up at my house with a red-bowed golden retriever, i know that rationally. and i'm never going to come into several hundred thousand dollars from an aunt no one knew we had who sees the potential in me--only me--so that i can buy that old farm house and fix it up, all while completing a book of essays and two collections of poems (my shirtless lover chopping wood in the pines).

the question is, of course, what manageable gifts would we like to receive or give to ourselves (these double as new year's resolutions)?

1. hand-knitted purple fingerless mittens--skeert!! my student's mom already made me some.

2. my gift to hannah is a promise. and you can make a promise, if it's one that you can keep. i vow to come to you if you wait for me... sorry, sorry. i heart tracy chapman. anyway, i vow to be supportive of her as she goes through "the change."

3. read all of harold bloom's genius. just yesterday i got through the preface and introduction.

4. write 5 hours a week. (i realize this might not seem like a lot of writing time to some of you more dedicated, less waitressing people.)

5. see more live music. period. i fell off this year.

6. lose 7 pounds via rebel, the school trainer (her real name...she's an anomaly: mother, bad ass, lover of tae bo in 2007)

7. keen hiking boots and new fleece jacket

8. now, when i say "get right with the lord," i'm only half trying to mortify hannah. story: yesterday, on our sunday drive to seneca to eat lunch with carlyle's godfather, i'm talking a mile a minute, reading the new york times magazine, yelling something about mike huckabee and global warning standards, when carlyle says, "have you ever thought about doing yoga?"

while the idea of meditation or centeredness of any kind makes me laugh like a crazy person and systematically peel yellow paint from the wall, it might be good for me. us. the both of the us's.

9. cook more. eat out less.

10. the next time carlyle comes to my house with two rented movies, one of them paris, je t'aime and the other black snake moan, i will not clap excitedly about seeing christina ricci chained to a radiator while tossing the one that swept sundance to the floor.

your turn, abrams.

*why doesn't crazy affect famous women as well? by that i mean, how do they get away with it? so, jessica simpson is dating tony romo for, like, a week. and yesterday, she shows up at the cowboys game WITH HER DAD and WEARING A JERSEY WITH A PINK NUMBER 9 ON IT. if he does not dump her TO DAY, i'll be floored.

*also, we went to a dinner party saturday and drank these lethal yet amazing cocktails:

negra modelo
triple sec
fresh squeezed limes
(over ice) mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

the peach moonshine holiday party of 07

this year's holiday party was so lovely b/c of all you (except mamie, who was too cool), i can't even make fun of it.

i think you can tell, by my expression here, that i had totally fallen in the kitchen. boom, down. stilettos and a mopped floor.

stockings, pillaged by 3rd world children.

that right there. what jason's holding. the moonshine that did us all in.

skip this bit if at all annoyed by food descriptions that are not ironic at all, but are rather self-congratulatory and pompous. kiwi-lime pie. prosciutto-fig-goat cheese wraps. orzo with mint and raisins and pine nuts. ham-gruyere puff pastries. pistachio-crusted goat-cheese poppers. cheese trays with cranberries and poached pear. peach cream tartlets. mango-honey bruschetta. rosemary lamb with raisin-almond couscous. pomegranate mimosas. salads with parmesan baskets (you melt the parmesan and mold it over an overturned cup)... ok, i can't stop. it's loathsome.

blahblahblah, beautiful people, lovely time. wish i could do it every night.

Friday, December 14, 2007

everything was lilies, lilies, lilies

my students, naturally, with whom i cannot be friends on any network:

(however, i will say these two are eerily similar to hannah and me; i fear they are much nicer to each other.)

the subject line of the message reads: everything was lilies, lilies, lilies...after a poem title of cody's, which refers to/makes fun of rainbow, rainbow, rainbow and blackberry....oh, hell. you get it. only, in cody's poem, the actual body is only the lyrics of "pop, lock and drop it." as a joke.

dear mamie,
can we (hannah and i, of course. who else would be incorporated into a "we" with me? only my second soul, naturally) anyway. i lost my train of thought. let me reread. oh yes. can we (hannah and i) view your face de book profile. to achieve such luxuries, we propose that we become friends with you, if only for a few hours. and then, after studying your life further, we will promptly delete you from our data bases. said circumstances would be purely confidential, of course. no copying of information into bill gate's protege. *insert accent over the "e"*. We can guarantee this for you because, if you haven't noticed, we don't have friends. and when said topics are discussed with us (such as different types of motor oil, your personal life, and the history of lemons) i lost my train of thought again. rewind. oh right, that's it. okay so when said topics are discussed with us, it ends. right here. right now. ("riiight here riiight nowww, there is no other place i'd want to be"). *cou! gh*.because we don't spill such details to an unworthy world. it makes us less special. (special, as in UNIQUE) and you can bet your bottom dollar that hannah is right here, not wearing pants, as i type this. (don't fret, it's a usual occurrence. i've gotten used to it.)hope carlyle and you are doing swimmingly. enjoy your evening. (together)....forever. in a shrimp boat, off the coast of alaska. (he looks like a man that would father alaska lovin' babies).

sincerely, and without a trace of irony,
cody & hannah --------------------

happy holidays

Hi all, it's been a busy year! Baby Jarvis has become very vocal, and babbles adorably all the time. So sensitive to women too--my prediction? He'll be a feminist one day.

And baby Daisy! What a little trouble-maker all ready. She's in this stage where she's testing everyone's boundaries and her spirit has just become so colorful! And by spirit, I mean she even used a bad word the other day. We won't tell Santa because I'm sure she'll grow out of it.

But I've got Eddie there to help me--I'm blessed to have such a darling husband. And since Eric started dating Oprah, well, there are a lot of resources to be had there. Looking forward to the E & O marathon they're training for which will benefit the new charitable foundation: Eric's Angels.

Happy 08,
Love H. Abrams, Mrs. Morgan-Abrams, Mamie Abrams, Jarvis Abrams, Daisy Abrams, Eddie Abrams, Eric Abrams and Oprah Abrams.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

hahahahmmm. mamie's just kidding, guys (NOT FUNNY MAMIE). anyhow, here you go. and happy holidays, from ours to yours.

audrey can't see, clark. her eyes are frozen shut.

she wasn't kidding about the scarves. she wasn't kidding about luring carlyle into taking this picture. none of the back story matters, really. only, it's 75 degrees outside. morgan refuses any scarf other than this magenta feather boa. luke swaddles himself in a red pashmina, much to his father's concern. all fancy schmancy cameras break in unison (i'm serious); the only camera left is my kodak disposable. when my mother screams "close up!!!" carlyle actually has to walk right up to us. "you people look crazy."

Friday, December 7, 2007

vegetable soup: kind of gay?**^

**this was the title of a short story a friend of mine/ours had to grade.
^also code for: we have finally caved and done that 7 and 7 shit

same friend said this of the goodreads cult: goodreads aka al qaeda emailed my entire address book so i have forty students who've been like, hey bill, long time, etc. barf.

this afternoon, i got a series of emails that included language like this: Hannah, You have 568 new updates from your friends.

i'm not blameless. i spent the entire 3 hrs i was administering an exam, idly adding books. or copying them from your lists, excuse me, your shelves, because i'm Lazy. i was going to talk about how this was a waste of time, rather like this blog, but as aaron pointed out, Do we just do things to waste time so we don't think about dying all the time? i said to him, Why, yes, i think we do. but i also eyed him suspiciously for taking shit lying down and secretly thought: Whatever, i'm beating this whole death thing, watch me.

and on that note: let me preface the following by letting you know that i've been shouting, Stupid, stupid, stupid! at myself for 24 hrs now. you're perfectly welcome to join in.

yesterday, at a red light, someone slammed into the back of my car. i was first at the light, and the force of the impact did 2 things: pushed my car into the intersection, and threw me--in spite of the seat belt i was wearing because i just got a HUNDRED DOLLAR TICKET FOR NOT WEARING IT AS I PULLED INTO A PARKING SPACE--onto the horn of my car, so i just laid there dazed, honking forlornly. beep. beep. beeeeep.

in the end, it seems that the jetta is not a car, but a damn rock. it's uncrushable. her car on the other hand was clearly made of apology. the entire front end had sort of smooshed in abashedly. and the driver was crying and old and in pj's and there were 3 babies in the car. sobbing, she tottered forwards and peering into my car, said, You got babies in there?

WARNING: STUPID CONTENT COMING RIGHT UP. i looked at my car, saw that it was fine, worried that i wouldn't make it to the exam room where 150 of my students were waiting, told her no problem, hopped in, and drove off. I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW. i develop a conscience and sense of responsibility at impossibly inconvenient times. but this woman in her bedroom slippers. the students! some of which really WANT to do well. anyway because I KNOW I KNOW I FUCKING KNOW, i am not now complaining of crippling back and neck and chest pain. contrary to what you might expect, i am not now DYING OF A BROKEN BODY.

what i am doing is, err, a cute little dance. a jig a la ashleeeeee simpson. the dance looks like this:


1. she doesn't wear underwear.
2. people have always thought she was gay.
3. she was gay, for a month.
4. she's been in therapy since she was 12. which makes me question my sessions.
5. more than anything, mame wants to be a housewife. she uses phrases like, Take care of my man. will grin sloppily and declare something about the joy of folding laundry and blahblahblah CUFF LINKS. while she's doing this, i'm looking round for a new best friend.
6. she knocks. on wood. superstitious doesn't even do it justice. and the more she has to drink the more she knocks. 'i was driving down the road,' i'll begin and notice that she is discreetly knocking knuckles on the table. 'this woman died,' i say--to test her--and both her little fists just start pounding a nearby tree.
7. she's ocd--can't tune the radio backwards. tuner must only go forwards.
8. in college, our little sommelier's drinks of choice were: tom collinses and white zinfandel. WHITE ZINFANDEL.
9. omg, i can't stop. when mamie first played basketball she scored a couple of points. for the other team. which won 3-2.
10. at a private school dance, when mame was fat and wore tons of makeup, she turned up in black combat boots, magenta socks, a grey jumper,and asked out paul dent, who was actually popular, & after he rejected her, went around demanding of everyone: What's wrong with him???
11. she'll tell you she loves to gamble, and then throw out the figure $40.
12. every morning, the security guard on her campus charges at mamie shouting, What is your purpose?
13. carlyle is from denmark. the town. dunno. anyhow, friend of his has a daughter who went to school with mamie and remembers her as the girl with glasses who is REALLY ALTERNATIVE. sort of like when i wore doc marten's and a flowy skirt and a white tank and a lumber-jack shirt around my waist and some other 12 yr old said i was so NEW WAVE.

jesus. mamie is shouting about a 2-in-1 post and to me it just sounds like she's screaming MANIFEST DESTINY! over and over.


okay, my turn! this is the first time we've blogged together in the same post. momentous and subtle, like touching knees at the movies. qaeda: in college we played this game where someone would say, "i'd never date a guy who ________." (i have the strange feeling i've blogged about this before.) and i'd respond with, "has a dave matthews/confederate flag/OBX sticker on his car." the karmic effect of that, of course, is that i now live in a home that sports d.m. oil paintings and a roommate who has a huge dave tattoo on her back. now, though, these days, i'd have to go with: any guy who uses the word "networking" not ironically in a sentence. it's so clinical. and slick. tends to involve business cards and hair product and some man in a bar slipping me a vodka tonic. or the guy who slipped me his card at the bar last week with a note on it: "have dinner with me monday. -bill" while carlyle was sitting on the other side of me. or "networking," only everyone on networking site is 14 and stalking each other. when i quit myspace and joined facebook, i should have known. while it seems less skank, more collegiate, it's even trickier stalking-wise. as in, facebook DOES IT FOR YOU. so, like, after a bottle of wine, carlyle and i changed our status to "mamie is in a relationship with carlyle" and vice versa. only, face sends all your friends this message with a heart and all. and if we fix the lameness now, they'll send out a picture of a broken heart and a message that says, "carlyle and mamie are no longer dating."

so, we should have known with we should have known when there was a space devoted to: "about me--my own personal canvas to express myself." are you fucking kidding me?

this morning, i get 73 e-mails from stevie lynne via goodreads: stevie lynne gives franz wright's walking to martha's vineyard 4 stars; stevie lynne thinks that transtromer's selected is "delicate and beautiful." i hate this thing. i thought i'd be reading more, not running back in tears to maxim's open arms. now, i love anything stevie has to say about, well, anything. but you know she has no idea this has happened, little kohler way up there in the alaskan mountains...

also, i tried telling my smart friend ashley the riddle. only, i kept opening it with, "this dwarf gets on an elevator." then muttering, "shit shit shit" under my breath.

okay, jig: okay WEIRD HANNAH STUFF:

1. when she was 14, hannah dated a drug dealer who wore a hearing aid named leif.
2. after breaking her elbow on some sort of outdoor gymnastic balance beam, she had to wear a waist to neck body cast, and her arm was positioned like she's about to say the pledge of allegiance.
3. oh, i don't know: she gave birth to two elementary schoolers.
4. she forged her report cards for three years.
5. also, she forged field trip slips that didn't exist and then rented villas on islands near jakarta.
6. ran away for two weeks and lived in a seedy hotel.
7. participated in a fashion show--and this wasn't that long ago--at a gay bar where she strutted down the catwalk in doc martins (i had to) with a crossdresser named topaz.

okay, are we done now. that wasn't fun, dais, and it's putting a wrench into mine and hannah's relationship.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

jennifer love hewitt is standing up for size 2 women everywhere.

this is exactly what i'm talking about. this is exactly what the ex cast members of the real world are talking about. typecasting: hannah the nurturer, mamie the oppressor. i get it. granted, i do and say everything she says i do or say. only, you see what she's done, don't you? (this is the part of the movie where the framed murderer begins to look, well, just crazy enough to have done it.) don't be fooled by her evil gift basket posts. a little bit of fun (riddle), some f-ing winnie the pooh, a handful of seasonal photographs of the beautiful children...all of which give room for a nestled section of mean. hate her. and my knee-jerk reaction always is to blog immediately about whatever no matter what. it's the literary equivalent of streaking.

part II: (see? two can play at this game.) this is the part where i say something that makes me look stupid, knowing that you people can use it as collateral. i do this with g. singleton all the time. he has a poster tacked to the back of the office door; it's a list of all the dumbass things i say/do/mistake for valid stories.

i didn't get the riddle until this morning. what i mean is, i knew the answer (dwarf). but i somehow didn't take the trip from riddle to answer. as in, i thought it was just supposed to be nonsensical, surreal. like, you ask me what color the sky is and i say, "california roll." or, just as easily, "sweater." i'm walking from the office to my classroom this morning when i stop dead in my tracks: oh! he couldn't reach.

part III: (eric, i'm doing the roman numerals and colons together on purpose. like slash and /.) i called my mother from old navy last week, having just realized (as we all at some point do) that i had become her, that every item in the store (particularly the 40$ cashmere sweaters, the plush floor length robes in various pastel shades) spurred perfect gift item!!!! in my head.

me: jesus christ. it's happening. retell above story

her: all of the cashmere is on sale? what size robe do you think your sister would wear?

me: you don't get it. you ruin everything.

her: hhmmm? listen, mame, do you own a scarf?

(i'll use the awkward space of pause to say: when your mother is not only a mother but a best friend and someone you talk to five times a day, you see their train of thought for miles. you make immediate, seemingly unlikely connections.)

me: i'm not wearing a scarf in the f*cking christmas card.

(i'll use this awkward space of pause to say: we do the christmas card thing, but normally it's funny. none of this family-dressed-in-white-lounging-in-front-of-the-dunes-at-pawley's-island-bullshit. last year, gavin was the only one looking at the right camera, the sun was in our eyes, luke's hand was over his face. on the inside, my mom wrote something like, "we're exhausted. barely made it this year. but we did. merry merry and peace be with you all." at least she had a sense of humor about such things.)

her: oh, but mame! i just saw the cover of pendleton's (wool catalogue). there's this group of sheep in scarves....get it! wool! but they're already woolly?"

i sit down on the floor outside the dressing room.

her: joy to the wool! it says in the heading, JOY TO THE WOOL!

she's ecstatic at this point.

me: what do the sheep have to do with us?

her: that's what the card will be (clearly illegal, though she doesn't realize this). and on the inside will be a picture of us. dramatic pause. also in scarves.

me: i can't talk to you when you're like this.

her: we'll do it sunday. we'll get together for lunch after church and then do it. maybe carlyle could come and take the picture?

me: really, mom? seriously??? yeah, i'd like my BRAND NEW boyfriend to come over to my family's house on his only day off and take a picture of me in a scarf. jesus.

but here's the thing. she's just like me. all my complaining translates to her: we'll be there at noon. you dare tell my mother "no" and she just blinks back at you. like when chandler would break up with janice on friends, she simply didn't accept it. played deaf.

part IV: !!!!!!!GIFTS!!!!!!
okay, i need the guys in on this. in greenville, most of my friends are boys. the secret santa thing at work? a guy. brother-in-law. dad. 4 guy friends. nephew. carlyle. what do you people like for christmas? the only people i have to ask are them, and their only answer is "strippers and booze." which simply will not do.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

why am i beating my head against this brick wall? that hippopotamus song is playing. again. it will never stop playing.

1. Parallel Thinking. Or was it Lateral Thinking.
My sweet uncle donated a book of riddles for me to use on the kids. I was delighted and curious. The point being about getting to think in parallels. Or laterals. Anyhow, the scene at breakfast is me reading the first one (from the easy section) to Sim.

The Man in the Elevator

For a start, here’s one of the oldest and best-known lateral thinking problems. It goes like this:

A man lives on the tenth floor of a building. Every day, he takes the elevator to the first floor to go to work or to go shopping. When he returns, he always takes the elevator to the seventh floor and then walks the remaining flights of stairs to his apartment on the tenth floor. Why does he do this?

We both laugh nervously. Then, a long pause, in which we come to the same uncomfortable conclusion that we are both Girls Who Are Not Very Smart.

Finally Sim blurts out, “Because of his big belly??”

Mamie, on the phone later, snaps: “He clearly has a crush on the person so only rides the whole way up when he’s with her!”

The answer is: “He is a dwarf.”

In other words, the answer is that parallel thinking is designed to send you zooming off at a perfectly equal distance to reason and logic, with no chance of ever intersecting truth.

Or else, as Mamie suggests: it reveals your own insecurities/obsessions (Sim=health, Mamie=dating, Me=nothing, a giant blank. Because the kids have, in the night, replaced my brain with a dirty sock.)

2. Me, You, and Everyone Mamie Knows

Her life should be some sort of musical. Am convinced she rolls out of bed in the morning, is dressed by bluebirds, and skips out of the house lilting, "Bonjour! Bonjour!" Or, alternatively, “Can I get a tall, with-whip, non-fat, sugar-free, toffee-nut latte? And would you mind, is it okay, could you add half a Splenda to that? Oh, and a Venti ice water? Thank you so much, Pierre.” That’s one of our early phone calls. Later, on call 55, she is speed-walking through the park, greeting the homeless and calling encouragements to firefighters. In the background, a perpetual chorus of: “Mamie! Hi Mamie!”

She’s even more insufferable right now because: Mamie has a BOYFRIEND. She asked me to blog about it, so I want to make sure you all heard me. His name is Carlyle. They’re going on 72 hrs, so I’m already worried about having to buy a yellow Galliano and elbow gloves. I won’t do it Mamie.

There are a few problems with Mamie dating anyone. She goes all soft and giggly and I have to hang up. The man is deluded enough to use words like heartbreaker. More giggling. And my final point on the subject: the other morning, I woke up to find myself in the same room as them. As in, my phone rang at 730, and I was suddenly on speaker phone with Carlyle talking to me—both of us groggy—while Mamie brushed her teeth in the bathroom. That can never happen again.

3. The story of an hour. Or, in our case, an hour that is then repeated endlessly and so constitutes our lives. Or, the answer is that parallel thinking is designed to send you zooming off at a perfectly equal distance to reason and logic, with no chance of ever intersecting truth.

5pm: The kids are going to their mother.

515pm: No, their father.

520: They have two different sets of tickets. Leaving from the same city. On the same day.

6pm: They might be staying here.

4. Milne.

"Hallo, Rabbit," said Pooh, "is that you?"
"Let's pretend it isn't," said Rabbit, "and see what happens."


One fine day Pooh stumped up to the top of the forest to see if his friend Christopher Robin was interested in Bears at all.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Dance Like No One's Watching, Sing Like No One's Listening

Dear Kan and Aaron:

You’ll probably find this blog one day—Kan, you’ll have googled yourself and since no one else in the world is named after a Mexican card game, there won’t be any trouble.

I’m sorry our family is escaped from an asylum. To save yourself years of searching on a therapist couch, please know that they are CRAZY. Confirmed deranged and misguided. But yes, they also do love you behind all the incoherent animal sounds and frantic gestures. And now that you know it, we can all go out and have a drink. I will be 44.

Not that I’ve particularly modeled sanity either. Sorry for charging into your room in the morning all wild-eyed, only to yank you out of bed and throw the clothes you DO NOT WANT TO WEAR at you, and shouting NO TIME!! NO TIME!! I worry this has affected you. All day, you ask nervously what time it is, if we’re running late, if we’re wasting time. Aaron, you wanted to skip wearing socks one day because it was a waste of time. At which point, I think I pointed out that crying about whether or not to wear socks was the real waste of time. God, I’m sorry. Kan, you wolf down your food so that your throat makes odd noises of protest and catch me looking at you funny. I’m only worried about you choking, that’s why I watch so closely.

I think Mamie’s worried about my sanity after you guys leave. And by that I think she’s worried about being subjected to some obscene exhibition of grief. She’s planning a trip. To Charleston. All this to say: I know you don’t want to go, and I’m sorry. I don’t want you to go either, but am hoping wildly this is best. And in case it’s not best, I am teaching you to set up your own email account so you can get in touch.

Oh, and this post title? It’s ironic. I am not actually clasping my hands to my chest and lisping sincerely at you. And at this point, you're probably wanting to shout out the truths that would make me look v. sentimental and silly, but this is my blog and no one can hear your incriminating revelations. Thing is, I’ve been trying to teach you irony for months, but you just keep looking at me and smiling, in the way that people look and smile when they don’t speak the same language. Anyway, it’s how cool people get out of untoward displays of emotion—a joke, a funny little bow, a sidestep off stage.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

and the wind. cries. mary.

sometimes, when hannah calls, i answer the phone before turning down the car stereo just to mess with her. it's only funny when i'm listening to, say, soldierboy or alicia keys. not that i'm ever listening to soldierboy or alicia keys. or keith urban, for that matter. so i do it today and she's like:

what was that, guns and roses?

me: no. jimi hendrix. castles made of sand.

han: nice throw back to 13. listen, i'm about to turn on pink floyd's the wall.

me: yeah, i'm about to get really stoned and watch tommy.

han: yeah.

me: janis joplin rules.

when i was in the eighth grade i wore this black jimi hendrix shirt, breaker jeans with holes (i cut myself) in the knee, and navy plaid vans. i got kicked out of student council for wearing that very outfit to initiation. same year, i told my orchestra teacher to go to hell and threw my cello bow across the room. also got in trouble for giving lauren johnson (still my best friend) a haircut in miss kilbreth's lit class. i skipped class with my friend halina, who carried dr. pepper bottles filled with bourbon in her purse. the guy who was in love with her--a friend of ours who passed away last week--blared "eyes of the world," "cassidy," and "looks like rain" outside her bedroom window from a jam box. we had this babysitter, her uncle mark, who took us to the nu way in the middle of the night, propped us in front of the foose ball table and got hammered with his girlfriend cheri, the bartender. we played with devil sticks. we hacky sacked. i owned peter tosh's legalize it, despite the fact that i don't like the pot or the reggae.

about this time, hannah was in some hawaiian prep school taking hits of acid. kidding. the FBI would never let her be mitt romney's assistant if that had actually happened. which is her dream.

this post, as hannah would say, is the literary equivalent of the larry king/paris hilton post-prison interview. only, it's a little sad that we can make fun of the music that opened so many doors, the songs we listened to riding in old trucks, going down country roads lined with luminaries...okay, i can't go through with it. i was going to open up into some sort of lyrical rant that involved the words:
peet moss
and then act like it was sincere, you know, to totally mortify hannah. it's not worth it, though. i will say that recently my mother found one of the first poems i ever wrote. it was about listening to blood on the tracks for the first time and crying and falling asleep hugging the vinyl cover. sweet jesus.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

mystery deepens regarding miss puerto rico pepper spray case.

on sunday morning i walked from kent's to the earl's court station, rode the tube 4 stops to victoria station, bought a train ticket to gatwick, traveled the 47 minutes to said airport, walked from south terminal to north, approached british airways check-in desk.
"sorry," a chipper, navy-vested lady said, "we're actually not flying to atlanta today. but no worries. we'll get you back tomorrow."

see, at least in the states the poor customer service person would be expecting someone as bitchy as me. they'd have the holiday inn vouchers, the free calling cards, the pizza gift cards in hand. perhaps a prescription of zanax.

this woman, though-- shocked at my reaction (which was basically, you will get me home today. figure it out.).

next thing i know, i'm in orlando for 6 hours. the only important thing that happened on the transcontinental flight is that i managed to not only watch live free or die hard, hairspray, and no reservations, but i also managed to cry at some point during each one (bruce willis saves daughter from american terrorist, televised dance floor integration, and any scene when the little girl from little miss sunshine cries respectively). so i'm in orlando and everyone, it seems, is returning from a jamaican thanksgiving cruise. many of them are obese and wearing very few clothes. most have had their hair braided. all are white. there are entire stores devoted to those croc shoe things. red and green ones!!! the genius of it. the only two restaurants are outback steakhouse and burger king. everyone is in love and in a committed relationship, which isn't helping anything.

when i was sixteen, i missed a connecting flight from boston to atlanta. my family had been sailing off the coast of maine with another family. i hadn't showered in five days, was still recoverning from my godfather's new wife who drank zimas the duration of our trip and wore really big hats, from the fact that--inexplicably--the only book i had on board was bridges of madison county. anyway, i was flying back early and alone so that i could make it to my algebra II summer school exam.

"not to worry," the lady said, handing me a holiday inn voucher. "we'll fly you out at 5 am." i lost it, began shouting "i'm only sixteen" while pounding open palm on counter. looking back, i should have said nothing, gone to the HI, pounded a couple mini bottles. the lady took me to a security guard, who was holding two other "stowaways." they gave us three cots, a personal pan pizza from domino's, and a 2 minute calling card. we slept in a holding room while two guards manned the door all night.

and just like that, they're leaving.

when the kids came, my father used the word 'permanent' which i, at least, interpreted to be a year. aaron and kan, however, took him at his word, so when an email came from my dad, out of the clear blue, saying the kids were going back, the bottom dropped out of our world. and they're going... to him. or their mother. or him. well, they're really not sure. but the kids are going somewhere. when? in december sometime. the truth is that neither parent has exhibited stellar child-rearing skills, and that this is the latest move in a chess match between two people who are using the kids as pawns while v. heatedly disputing joint possessions. all pretty revolting.

there's really no way to make this funny. they're sad and scared, and i'm thinking i'd rather have kids dumped on me by the truckload rather than give them up. overall though, they're handling it with the kind of courage and gallantry and humor that i could never muster. but it's totally typical of them, and why they're just so much cooler than most adults i know. waiting for the school bus this morning, i tell the other parents about it, and they say, Oh, how exciting! kan tugs frantically on my jacket, says: Tell us a joke, please Hannah, so we can laugh or else it will be a sad moment.

bah. clearly, the only thing left is to do christmas like crazy before they go: ornaments! cookies! ice skating!! reindeer costumes for the cat!!!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Yeah, yeah. You're beautiful and smart and you write poems which get published allthetime. We get it already.

Our own sweet Sally has just placed a poem in the Laurel Review!! Will kep you posted re. issue number, etc.

Also, Mamie will be in the Spring Issue (Vol. 83) of the Georgia Review.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

what is this, tolkeinland?

my two favorite portraits: seamus heaney and sarah lucas.

first of all, hannah, what the hell are you doing to the blog? this is precisely the sort of ridiculousness i predicted might happen when i wasn't around to bully you. periwinkle? and some battle? i didn't look closely...but might it involve french dialogue? you've cracked; what does this say to the children about war? i don't even sense irony behind this template. cornell box and now. or kan's getting a sequined sweater and matching top hat for christmas. and a pack of pall malls for Hanukkah.

so, i of course have a lot to say...none of it terribly interesting. there was the frenchman this morning, the one staring at me longingly in the coffee shop, his perfect four year-old son in one of those trendy brown puffer jackets, sitting in one of those gazillion dollar three-wheeled strollers. he, the frenchman, yelled incessantly into his cell phone. only my french is spotty but i can guess it was something like, "i'll have those quarterly inventory reports on my desk this instant. do not fuck me on this." he looked at me, then outside, then back at me. i had initially taken this as a sign of humility. shyness, perhaps. only he was staring at his gorgeous wife strolling up old brompton road then back at, not me, but the empty table beside me. she enters with another one of those strollers, a whole other small person entirely inside. they embrace. it's clear they haven't seen each other in an hour and a half. easy.

okay: vegetarian to heart attack in one sitting.
we go to a spanish restaurant two nights ago where they shave iberico pork from the pig's leg. at the bar. beside where they keep sparkling wine chilled in a tiffany bucket. i tell kent to order for us both, which obviously goes against everything in my soul, but what the hell?


shaved iberian pork (i.e. acorn-fed pigs; the ham is dried in the mountains for 16 months...this is the kind of shit i'm tested on at the restaurant)
sausage bruschetta with a goat cheese spread on top, caramelized (not unlike creme brulee)
chorizo and cheese balls
garlic prawns
skate wing with some sort of foam and vegetables
slow cooked suckling pig

and i'm missing a few. the next morning i attacked 3 museums on 3 different parts of town, followed an all girls kindergarten class around the national gallery while a docent gave a guided tour. only, the girls were smarter than me. so when we studied that degas with the nurse brushing the red-head's hair, the docent asked, "what might hair brushing signify," and some, like, 4 year-old says in a thick english accent, "it means she trusts the lady not to hurt her. you don't just let anyone brush your hair. like, i wouldn't let my leetle brother." and don't get me started on still lifes. they had a field day. one small person identified the lute; i had thought it was a wine chiller.

point is, kent didn't get out of bed till 1:30. he didn't "feel well." i was so mad, had consumed a small farm for the first time in years and managed to do some sort of supermarket art sweep.

and i've been taking notes on anything and everything for 3 days. because i know i'll forget everything. until i get to this sardonic poem in gerald stern's everything is burning. "the nursing / students alone took notes, they would take notes / while jesus was drowning, wouldn't they?"

thankful it's over

Listen, I’m all about Thanksgiving. It happens to be my favorite meal of the year. But I’m over it. And you all should be too. Look at what it’s DOING to us. Mamie is in London listening to Wordsworth in a private car and staring at Seamus Heaney’s portrait. Tom is texting me pictures of crab and shrimp baskets from Florida and looking for Alice Sebold’s email address and sleeping in a room full of lighthouses and the bar closest to him is called The Pickled Parrot. A dozen of you are in places which do not support internet, which leads to only one rational conclusion: that you’re all huddled, dressed in various metals, in a field in Arkansas. Jarv wrote in Currents that when he is ‘pimped out’ in Wilmington, he is as a peacock among chickens.

And here at the home front, we have too much TIME on our hands, so the kids are unwittingly turning me into a vegetarian. See, first there was the whole “Mary had a little LAMB” bit, which song they now adapt to suit the meal. When I bring out a dish containing beef, they bellow: “Mary had a little COW, little COW.” But now, when we’re eating turkey for the third day in a row, Kan has taped up in the dining room a large drawing of a turkey. On it, is a story. It’s quite crafty really, being written in 1st person from the perspective of the turkey. The cheerful little narrative is called: “Why You Shouldn’t Eat Me.” The storyline goes something like this: Because I am a sick turkey. I met a fox in a field and he sneezed on me and I caught a terrible cold and I cannot stop coughing, so remember when you want to eat me that I am a sick turkey.

I’m not squeamish by any means, but it’s unnerving to stare at that during dinner. Even if I am convinced the sick turkey is actually Simona, who’s been sick for the last week. Also, Aaron likes to discuss the anatomy of his meal in full detail. “Hannah, is this the turkey’s BACK MUSCLE? Are we eating its MUSCLES?” Something v. savage in the way they take pleasure in eating animal. “Hannah, did this once have a heart??”

All of this resulted in me needing fresh air and escape at about 430 yesterday afternoon. But since it was 15 degrees outside, we took our fresh air at the mall. Whatever, I know it’s my fault, but when faced with Insufferable Boredom and children who say “what now” every two seconds, it seemed like the right thing to do. Wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Only, I made the mistake of letting the kids watch Mary Poppins earlier in the day and so when we went through the mall, they skipped and sang all the songs from the movie at the top of their lungs. In line at Starbucks: “Chim-chimney chim-chim chim-chim-cheree, a sweep is as lucky, as lucky can be!” In Baby Gap trilling: “A spooooonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, medicine go dowwwown, medicine go down!” We looked like we were on our way to a soup kitchen to feed the hungry, esp. with the way we were pausing every now and then for hugs and kisses and declarations of undying love.

Instead, of course, I was on my way to making poor and befuddled decisions. Did I tell you about the coat I bought Kan? That it’s floor-length and lined in plush faux-fur and that this coat, it’s reversible? So she’s been trailing round town looking like a mini Run DMC. So last night, I needed to buy them gloves. Aaron always comes out well—looking like a little JCrew model. But with Kan, things keep going wrong. Let’s just say that she now has cherry red gloves with cuffs of more faux-leopard.

I’m fucking with the template. And considering going to see that Enchanted movie, which looks terrifying--but it's kid-friendly and Mamie's not here, none of you are here, to stop me. And Ashley, you're totally enabling by coming along so happily! Because you have to admit, even the reviews are suspicious, along the lines of "Disney has made another smart, profitable movie." I can’t be more clear: COME HOME NOW. All of you. Thanks.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

put your forks down. seriously. it's getting gross.

at first taking a car into the city from gatwick seemed, i don't know, glamorous. my family has traveled my whole life precisely because we do, frugally. short of stuffing us kids into luggage, my parents did it. one room apartments in wales. one meal a day until my sister developed a stutter, a sure sign of a small person nervous breakdown.

we packed 7 items for each child, each trip: one pair galoshes, one nightgown, one dress, a pair of good church shoes, one flower press, and one scrapbook. and underwear. my mother was convinced you could cinch a nightgown at the waist, pair it with boots, and have the hippest children in hyde park. the flower press and scrapbook were for distraction-- at museums we were allowed to collect ticket stubs and candy wrappers and postcards. outside: flowers. this gave us girls incentive to, you know, go through this whole travel thing without making everyone else crazy.

so, calling a car this morning seemed glitzy. while the train would have spit us out at victoria by 9 (we flew in at 8), the carride took over two hours. stopped traffic. only, on public broadcasting--a roundtable discussion of wordsworth's trip to germany with his sister, dorothy, and coleridge. at first i was rapt. kent looked at me expectantly, as if i might pump my fists at the sheer mention of the prelude. but after a while...

so far: i'd forgotten the insane preoccupation with kebabs here. unsurpassed.
i saw my student, reem, in the atlanta airport. she seemed mortified that i'd followed her there.
the plane movie contract: nightmare. john cusack cannot be saved.

i miss hannah. i don't want to talk about it or anything. just like i don't want to talk about the new r&b version of "fire and rain."

the goal: i'm here to museum as a verb. specifically--tate britain, tate modern, british, national gallery, and the national portrait gallery. also, portabello road markets. also the statue of boadicea, the female leader of the celtic tribe who nearly overthrew the romans here in 61 ad.

no shopping. no shows. good eats and art, bitches. and i'm going to starbucks every morning for an hour and reading whatever i want. and not feeling bad about it. that's right. i'm going to hop past those locally owned brew houses. why? because i can. "petulant?" han, you've seen nothing.

so far, aptly, nora ephron's wallflower at the orgy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

birthday: part one, one week late.

fine. just fine. i don’t want to write this, because i want to eat some cheese and go to bed. but mamie is going to london and afraid and something about a five hour drive and fears of flying, and if i write this birthday post the hijackers won’t happen.

my birthday was last friday. it was supposed to be a surprise dinner party, so everyone told me. which was sort of a relief, because up until then every friend i had was acting like my only friend: ‘don’t worry, han, we’ll go have dinner just the two of us.’

but dinner was great, i was all, ‘i love my friends. i love scallop and chorizo soup. i love my hanky pankys.’ i can’t dwell on it: too perfect, and i know how that can get boring.

(and i sometimes talk to my students about the dangers of gender stereotypes)

after dinner, i’m trying to convince myself i’m totally psyched to go out, because the kids are with a sitter. and then everyone bails. it’s 930pm and it’s just me and mamie. i tell her i think i want to go to bed. she tells me we’re going to sinsin. one drink. so we’re there, we’re settled, we’re totally fucking happy. mamie says, we need to get out of here. i say, i want to go home.

we go to chelsea’s. mame’s doing this little dance in front of the floor to ceiling windows trying to decide if we should go in. a friend of ours is bartending, is staring at us. we go in, order two glasses. i take a sip, look at our friend’s thesis, feel happy. mamie says, i think we should go to the blue post. i think the blue post will make our night, she continues without a trace of irony. i say no.

at the blue post, mamie orders for me, which i’ve been making her do all night because i can’t handle any more jokes about my vodka/cranberries. but we have seats at the bar, friends are meeting us there, my life couldn’t be better. i think about how perfect and glorious everything is. then i notice mamie is doing her signature sleeping attentively thing. it’s the craziest thing. she’ll sit there, looking glamorous, bolt upright, sound asleep, with her eyebrows arched in a way that says, i’m hanging onto every word you’re saying. i knew what would happen before it happened. she stumbles up, says ‘igottago’ and without a backward glance, starts bulldozing her way to the door. catch up to her outside where she is irritably plucking a contact from her eye, dropping it on the ground and saying petulantly, i lost my contact, now how will i get home?

on the way back to the car, i’ve got my arm linked with hers to keep her upright. she goes, peevishly, stop guiding me! you’re such a mom. i let her go, and she plows into a metal post.

if you were out last friday, you probably saw a crazy girl shouting, MOOOVE!!! MOOOVE!!! COME ON. she would have been standing in the middle of market street with a truck barreling towards her. as i yell at her to move out of the way, the truck slams on its breaks, a window rolls down, and someone says, oh, baby, i’d never run down a purty little thing like you. mamie says, thank you so much. waves dismissively, and imperiously demands that i get in the car, move, drive.

the next morning, i torture her by sending the kids in to her and reading out loud. she gets back at me by skipping breakfast at the beach and having me meet her at the mall with the kids where i find her standing in forever21 surrounded by piles of clothes. she’s standing there looking perfect, dressed all in white, but her coat hem is pinned up like she’s stolen it from a seamstress and she’s holding up a neon green sweater with a giant ruffle and i’m looking at her like, are you fucking kidding me? burn it now, get it gone! and the kids are handing her baubles, necklaces with giant crosses and big, tinny hearts that come with even bigger keys.

i’m talking to mamie about how to end this post. she’s screaming END IT END IT END IT.

Monday, November 19, 2007

i hate what is about to happen:

hannah warned me about this. at the close of our summer together she said, "mamie, at least i'm a trainwreck all the time. like, it's never unexpected. but you? one day your emotions are going to come flooding back and you're not going to know what to do with them. it's going to be a total meltdown."

let me just say: my feelings manifest themselves in actual events/habits/behavioral patterns. as in, i don't realize i'm feeling a certain way until one of the following occurs:

self-destructive: i typically find myself text messaging while parallel parking. like, i begin the text while parking. or i spend upwards of 200$ at forever 21.
frustrated: french fries, and i don't even like them.
abandoned: i listen to hearbreaker all the way through. i drive places without realizing i come to in chapin, south carolina belting "damn, sam, i love a woman who rains."

all of these things miraculously occurred on saturday. most of them happened again on sunday. i'm freaking out. also, also discovered a galway kinnell translation of rilke's duino elegies and proceeded to bawl in the barnes and noble cafe due to its sheer beauty. i'm serious. it began as any other day in my impatient, ADHD world. i couldn't read. i flipped through a few godbooks that looked funny--one by that creepy joel osteen guy who looks strangely like martin short and another temptress of a book (pink cover) called really bad girls from the bible. then there were usweekly's top twenty makeovers of the year. then coffee table books about mutts and home decor and the rolling stones. flipped through a couple of anime paperbacks in the teen section, all entitled (inexplicably) fruits basket. then searched out yet another shitty franz wright poem in the new yorker. but, see, i haven't actually been reading lately. or writing. both of which coincide with the spiritual and personal numbness. but then, then!

"yes, the springtimes needed you. there were stars / counting on you to sense them."

"no, when longing fills you, sing of lovers; / their famed emotion isn't nearly immortal enough."

"isn't it time that lovingly / we freed ourselves from our lover and, trembling, endured it."

"for staying put is nowhere."

"you touch each other. but where's your proof?"

"under your hands you feel pure / duration."

"love from which i always retreated, because the space within your faces changed, when i loved it, into an infinite space where you no longer were."

jesus. anyway, i'm back to normal. let's not get carried away. hannah and i spend hours making fun of blogs that even consider posting such sappy stuff. so, we'll pretend this little go-to-pieces never happened.

also, i go to london wednesday. i will miss you both. also, hannah is getting ready to blog about how i got drunk on her birthday. it's bound to make me look simultaneously vulnerable and cavalier. and i say "getting ready" because she's premeditative in that way (yes, i made up that word). like, there are entire cohesive ideas and drafts floating around in her world.

*oh, and i vote to keep this cornell-box-mistaken-for-jimmy-buffet-motif thing. i like it. and this isn't reverse psychology, hannah. don't touch it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

this should be the scariest thing you've seen all weekend:

morgan was shirley temple in a school play. she sang "the good ship lollipop." i'm way serious. i'm as serious as that lipstick on her face. i keep thinking about those pageants where they spray-tan the six year-olds...

Friday, November 16, 2007

dear emily post

Last night, the kids and I ate dinner with our visiting aunt and uncle at Indochine. I’d like to say that all the good table manners we practice at home pay off, but no. Kan has a winsome grace which totally vanishes—poof!—at dinner. The child eats with a sort of desperation that I’ve never seen before. She stands when she eats, shovels food in, forgets to chew, chokes, weeps, and shouts for more. So, at the restaurant, she dropped half her dinner on her shirt, in her hair, in my water. She shook out her napkin full of pad thai on the floor as a server was walking by. Stood in the booster seat, slurped and gurgled and smacked, eyed everyone else’s food with a proprietary air that made us all hand over baby corn, beef, salad, whatever she wanted.

Meanwhile, Aaron couldn’t be less interested in food. He makes his area at the table a war-torn country. Forgoes actual eating to play dead by slumping over my lap. Stabs lemons with forks and knives. Absent-mindedly brushes his hair with his straw. Wriggles like he’s made of fish. But while he was fairly offensive yesterday, nothing can top last weekend’s dinner at the same restaurant.

He’s eating pad thai. Sim and I have cautiously decided that things are going pretty well, even though Kan is acting like her mouth has a 2 quart capacity, when suddenly Aaron starts making this retching noise. Let me just say here that THIS is exactly where I totally fail as a functional human being. I stare at him in horror: Stop. Making. That. Noise. His hand is in front of his mouth and there is clearly a live animal in his throat. Sim has this fixed polite smile on her face. I’m busy still not giving him the Heimlich maneuver. Then, when we’ve secured the attention of the whole restaurant, Aaron reaches into his throat and pulls out a noodle. And people, it was the noodle that never ended. It was a magic trick from a horror movie. A scene from a sci-fi flick wherein we’ve somehow ingested noodle aliens. An old carnie side-show: Noodle Boy. Used to be, I lunched with ladies who pretended to be full after nibbling a side salad--such delicacy! And now this. Three foot long regurgitated noodles.

*Amendment: Sim has just read this and was v. indignant.

--'You forgot,' she said, 'the part about you shouting at him.'
--'...I don't remember shouting.'

Monday, November 12, 2007

Things We Lost in the Sad

I could tell that I needed some tweaking of my meds when last week all I wanted was to open up my mouth and emit a self-pitying, high frequency noise that would annoy everyone in our galaxy and the next. So I did the thing any self-respecting depressed person does which was to refrain from solipsistic yelping in favor of entertaining thoughts of Lindsay Lohan’s fashion choices on the couch while bolting appalling amounts of cheese and ignoring the children who were beating each other with a pinata stick.

But the Zoloft has been tweaked and the world is chirping merrily and I’m once again realizing that there is Darfur and a Stupid War and that Mamie has my worst interests at heart. Did you know she called on Saturday? And that when she called she said, Why haven’t we talked in so long, like for almost 24 hrs? And that when I said we haven’t talked because you hung up on me yesterday, she just burst out laughing? Because that’s what happened. Mamie, she’ll hang up on you in a second. Like, God I don’t have time for this and you’re dismissed already so just GO. Today, I hung up on her. But then she called right back and I apologized meakly at which point I’m pretty sure she hung up on me. She always has the upper hand in this marriage.

Anyway. I’ve gone back over the last week and filtered out some of what has survived.

1. Life without health insurance is hell on earth. I know Mamie would rather me speak to the children about how there is no Jesus than talk money, but it’s got to be said. My psychiatry appt would have been $200 for 10 minutes if my psychiatrist were not someone who almost makes me believe in God because this person only charged me $10.

2. Jarvis is a model. It’s true. I was flipping through 008 and there he was. I was choking on my croissant. Jarv, that isn’t… it couldn’t be… seersucker???

3. Aaron said at some point: Hannah, I think a rabbit could dream of a carrot.

4. Have actually consumed four boxes of triscuits in one week. Four. Boxes.

5. There exists a magical place here in town that bills itself as an OVERNIGHT DAYCARE. I skipped about a great deal and wept until a number of people started hemming and hawing and whimpering, Ohh, I don’t know. It might not be good for them. And so I’m like, Fine. FINE.

6. Tom keeps the window up while smoking so that we drive along in a fucking cloud. And when I roll down his window he just rolls it right up again. I think he’s cold, but say: You’re such a girl. Are you worried about your hair or something? A pause happens. Turns out, yes, he is worried about his hair.

7. Which reminds me: Jarvis models.

8. In the middle of the night, Simona saw the ghost of a grinning child in the coat closet. Except it was the scarecrow that I’d hastily shoved in there.

9. Pro-Run is back on this week and I DON'T HAVE CABLE. Is disaster.

10. There were really only 9 thoughts. Soo… here are some pictures of Maus (or as the kids so aptly call her: Maus-less)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

wife in the fast lane

while waiting for a flight out of cincinnati this summer, i discovered that there is no poetry section in airport bookstores. i genuinely had no dad was like, "what are you looking for?" and when i told him he laughed in my face. then, then i realized that every person in line (okay, there were three) was buying the secret.
obviously, i am not elitist about books. i read maxim, for god's sake. one of my students is reading harold bloom's genius and calls it a "fun read." i find this appalling.
still: i'm in line at barnes and noble yesterday and the two women in front of me are BOTH buying a novel titled wife in the fast lane. the woman depicted is running in a suit and's just awful. and posed. like, clearly no one runs with their knees that high up.
my mom used to say i write a romance novel under a pen, make some benjamins, and then write what i wanted. but now, now i'm thinking: a book titled, oh i don't know, the notebook. or baby proof. or good grief! yes. an exclamation point is a must. and a woman named rachel or helen. a man named ansel...

oh, and hannah needs you. all of you. she just left into the wild and is absolutely inconsolable. she also seems to think this is my fault.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

all i want for christmas is everything you've never given to me:

we will never stop blogging about our families. we don't care how annoyed you become/already are. we love crazy people; they simply won't be ignored.

after posting about molly yesterday, she calls, says, "something's happened to mom." preface: my mother is a superhero, a businesswoman, a concert pianist, a writer, and a mom who made fresh squeezed orange juice in the morning for her kids before heading off for a 12 hour work day. each day. she takes care of everyone. all of the time. she does "the right thing" a startling--i daresay unnerving--amount of the time. she buys cars and cuts her hair off like a man's without giving anyone the heads up. basically: bad ass. that being said, she does does does and never asks for anything. seriously. i don't think she bought herself a new outfit for the greater part of the eighties and nineties.

so she calls from her plush office chair. we imagine her in pressed trousers and one of my dad's sweaters. perhaps her red leather day planner is opened before her. the woman likes to make lists and lists. she uses the word "sub-lists."

molly answers. and this i can tell you for sure, no imagination needed. luke is throwing himself against the stove and spitting because mol won't give him candy. morgan is yelling that the neighbor boy is "THE MEANEST MAN IN THE WORLD" at the top of her lungs. they are thawing uncrustable sandwiches for dinner. mom tells molly to grab a pen. molly looks for one in the cupboard.

mom says, "as you know, my birthday is coming up. and christmas. this is what i'd like." pause. "are you ready?"

molly: yeah.

mom: a flannel nightgown from wal-mart, brand name lanz, spelled l-a-n-z, size medium; decorative socks; a gift certificate to dillards so i can get my erno lazlo skin care regime; gold hoop earrings--

molly: you don't wear hoop earrings.

mom: yes, but i think i will. anyway, those; your father and i want to try the new brasserie downtown, so a gift certificate there; lavender bath salts; cocktail napkins; the oscar de la renta perfume i like...not the one with the spray but the old kind they don't carry anymore. and if i think of anything else, i'll let you know.

she's snapped, understandably. this has only happened once before, on mother's day in 1991, when we didn't do anything for her. let me explain: we were 10 and 14. we blame my father absolutely. all i remember is that she left for a day and the rest of us no longer knew what to do with ourselves.

decorative socks. without a trace of irony.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

the fire and ice ball vs. cooking chili in an RV at a football game vs. the sex and the city "film"

my older sister is the most adorable selfish person in the whole world. she's consistently on the verge of a total f-ing go-to-pieces, but it's never because of the obvious: coach for a husband who's gone all the time, possessed child (see above), child who speaks in his very own language and refuses to keep his tongue in mouth (see above), schools of second grade children pulling knives and forks on each other, etc. no, inevitably our conversations go something like this:

me: i just got three rejection letters in the mail. in one day.

her: rejection from where?

me: i don't know. everywhere. but they're self-addressed envelopes, so it's like you're rejecting yourself.

her: oh. like poetry? giggling you WON'T BELIEVE what i've been through today.

insert: a monologue no less than 7 minutes that includes but is not limited to running out of staples IN THE MIDDLE OF CLASS, before the take-home packets were done!!! also, that couch she designed on line isn't the color she imagined. she has to repaint the living room walls to match it. gavin (husband) suggested eggplant. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? and now she's going to have to do THAT all afternoon, which means morgan has to miss church choir because AUNT MAMIE lives a gazillion miles away and can't ever do anything right.

her (again): which reminds me, how does morgan know you wear thongs?

me: i don't know. i guess i took her shopping with me to try on dresses.

her: well, it's clearly traumatized her. i mean, it's been months, and she keeps muttering that aunt mamie's panties don't have backs on them. now, she's all messed up and thinks normal--you know, respectable--underwear are weird.

which brings me to my own office supply story. preface: hannah and i no longer live on the same planet. i say things like, "i'm going home for wofford's homecoming game." she responds with, "where can i find kanasta a cool winter coat?" and i'm like, "didn't you hear me?" and she's like, "yeah, i don't even know how to talk to you anymore." so, sunday i had a black tie event...also foreign to hannah, who keeps referring to it either as a) the black and white ball or b) fire and ice. let's just say this thing began at 4 pm, that i slow danced to the YMCA song, that i wore a baseball cap to teach the next morning.

so, i steal the three ring hole punch from the copy room, keep it for an hour, and return it. only when i get to the copy room/slash teacher's lounge/slash room in which people more respectable than me display home grown heirloom tomatoes, fresh cookies, and dill dusted goat cheese made on the farm, a bevvy of well-dressed teachers are standing there, staring at me.

one of them: we've been looking for that.

me: oh, sorry.

one of them: no, i mean, we have. beat you know, and other people have too.

it was like an old western movie. i was waiting for one of them to draw, say, with a globe or calculator or--i can't even say it--daily planner.

okay, lastly: sarah jessica parker. i can't handle her. i find her personal life precious; i'm sure everyone in that household loves each other very much. my friend adrian waited on them in new york and said the broderick-parkers are a nice people. morgan watches sjp walk the little boy to school every morning in manhattan at exactly 9 am.

but let's face it. she can't act her way out of a paper bag. i'm sure that "bitten" clothing line would be cool if I KNEW WHERE TO FIND IT. but, i'm sorry. if i even SEE a cosmopolitan i get ill. it is to vodka what white zin is to the wine community. and jimmy choos. and the stereotypes. i mean, we're all a little bit slutty, one part innocent, a quarter lesbian brooklynite, and the rest trainwreck. and this MOVIE they're making. don't get me started.

that being said, maxim magazine has named sarah j. parker the UNSEXIEST WOMAN OF THE YEAR. she beat AMY WINEHOUSE, for christ's sake. i mean, harsh, right? and we all know how much i love a good men's magazine. (my favorite moment, of course, was when they did a "top ten reasons to hate paul mcartney" and had to do a reprise the next month with ten more).

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Mamie's getting published in Greensboro Review!!! Wooooo!!!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

why is NO ONE blogging about lance and ashley?? i have halloween pictures to post and templates to fuck with, i can't do everything

They're this happy because they found The Perfect Pumpkins. It only took a couple of hours, scales, and paint samples. (Oh, and the Stars ARE just like us.)


Pre-trick-or-treating. Also known as, pre-end-of-world-as-I-knew-it. I don't know what to say about this neighborhood. It was all pretty much awesome. I was so impressed. Who knew that adults, with jobs and sometimes no children, would go to the trouble of building a ghost maze with burning torches?? It was almost TOO perfect. Like, every single house and person was so into it. And then Tom goes, I feel like we're actually in a horror movie. And I could see where he was coming from.

I mean, they're pretty much the best and cutest kids in the world. You can't even fight me on this one. Love Kan, rockin the pink Pumas.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Boooooo! BOOOOO!

Here’s what it is: people in waiting rooms aren’t just unattractive, they’re misshapen. I mean, Aaron and I were in a pediatric clinic’s lobby (he’s fine, just a check-up) for two hours yesterday, and I have never seen such a parade of freaks. Like escapees from the set of that X-Files episode where all the people were inbred and crawling out of car trunks. And I know what some of you are thinking: They’re SICK! Cut them some slack! But sick is coughing, looking a little peaked, hair messy. I KNOW sick looking. It’s what I look like every morning. Sick is NOT teeth growing out horizontally like little yellow docks and children in soiled clothing gnawing on chair legs.

Oh, and I’ll tell you something else, I think all this talk about Halloween costumes getting sluttier is justified. Let’s just say that when I was five, I didn’t aspire to be the French maid that was hoping to escape the hell of her life by screwing the boss in a closet. There was this poor kid in that waiting room yesterday, couldn’t have been more than seven. She was obese, gobbling a giant bag of candy, and wearing a shirt that showed her stomach and read in glitter: my sexy ass. MY SEXY ASS. Are you kidding me.

My kids are going out tonight in Angel and Spiderman costumes as per decent. Maus is wearing a mouse costume. Bring on the sugar.