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.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

okay, okay. pretend you're an ice cream.

Kan (the girl) is inventing new types of kisses. 'ok, pretend you're an ice cream.' i set down my comp papers and look at her. 'this is the kind of kiss that a very pretty girl gives an ice cream she loves.'

normally, she'd be talking exactly my language, but i'm on day 4 (otherwise known as the Final, I'm Done With This Forevermore) day of The Cleansing, so i just sort of resent her bringing up ice cream. still, i'm happy she's showing an early penchant for dada (she's clearly reacting to our current administration), so i tell myself it's charming. i tell myself that right up until the point that she's swiveling my head around 360 degrees with a grip like charles bronson. apparently an ice cream is spun round and round as it's kissed. my head won't cooperate. she grunts in frustration over my squeal of pain when my neck makes a meek objection to being wrung out like a dishtowel.

other times, though, she's horrifyingly practical: we're in the car, and i'm forcing them to listen to classical music on npr b/c it seems like the right thing to do. i'm trying to win them over by making up stories for the music. it works. aaron has spiderman chasing kan's ballerinas; everything's great until i yell excitedly, 'And this is where the mermaids swim up to the ship!' and kan goes, 'Oh hannah,' in a tone that clearly says, 'Oh dumbass.' i stand corrected, it is apparently a completely different part of the story, the part when the pixies dressed in purple gowns come out. 'where's spiderman?' aaron whimpers. we're mad and don't answer.

poor aaron. on the way to their after-school program, Aaron suffered a lapse of screaming about Kan touching his booster seat long enough to observe that the clouds had sad, dark faces and were soon going to cry down upon us. i glance rapturously at him in the rearview, when she goes: Ummm, OKAAAY. Do clouds have eyes? NO. Do clouds have chins? NO. Do clouds have cheeks? NO. Do they have eyebrows? NO. So, do they cry? NO! great job Kan, you've just sent another actuary out into the world.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


oh oh oh. and then there’s this. walking to the park the other day, we pass a house that looks like it's hosting a yard sale. or a circus. the kids and i are tired, sweaty, because the park is not around the corner (as i’ve told them), but fifty miles away. a woman comes tearing towards us, screams: ARE YOU READY??! ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?! we stare at her. she’s not even looking at me, but shouting things like, YEAH, ALRIGHT! at the children. she whisks us to the backyard. i think she’s the pushiest yardsaleswoman i’ve ever seen. am trying to stifle my indignation and politely back us all out.

then. i realize two things: we’re on a movie set. and i’m somehow wearing two skirts. they think the children are the two mini-actors they’ve been waiting for, and i’m thinking i clearly put another skirt on over the other without taking the other off.

they want the children. even after i explain there’s a mistake. they want them even after we leave. they come running after saying it’s perfect anyhow, they NEED Spanish kids especially. from Indonesia? even better! we swap information. me and the 3 producers. they give me dvds, cards, websites. they’re legit, a sincere and eager squad funded by the dept of education. they’ve called to follow up. they've called to ask if we could do it on monday morning (no, dept of education, it's a school day). they've called again for a complete schedule. we’re going to be rich and famous. i’m going to be a way better manager than jessica simpson's dad. i'm going to be the best showbiz mom ever.

like a bird into a window

i wanted to run like a crazy person out of yesterday. but really, i just slumped out if it. put myself down on the couch, watched the neighbors host a dinner party with peonies and sparkling and what looked life soufflĂ©. in the kitchen, two women moved with their arms around each other’s waist. drifted together back to the dining room, carrying between them a basket of fruit. the others at the table reclined in their seats, tilted their faces up. it was fucking gorgeous.

meanwhile, i’m squirming in the griminess of my life. i keep thinking i’ll hatch out of my past, or crack the shell of the present, and emerge swanlike—all clean and and and…winged? what the hell am i saying. i am saying that i hate the constant reminders of how weird my life is. it feels diseased. or rabid. yes, yes that’s it. a rabid life all yellow toothsome snarl. run. save yourselves.

basically, i can pass myself off as one of you until the rental agency is like, Get rid of them [children] or get out. and i’m all, Oh. I have children. Oh, and wait, that’s not anywhere near normal. and then all the other messed up weird bits of my life start jumping up and down screaming for attention in my head. there’s the Psycho Dad section waving its arms, screaming, Don’t forget me! then Most Bizarre Past Ever comes out banging drums, and soon all these alarming components are trundling awkwardly and excitedly around in my head like the world’s most freakish parade all swaying to Frank Sinatra.

this is day 2 of The Cleansing. seems relevant at this point. yesterday almost worked out, because for most of it i was too distracted by living to feel hungry. but last night definitely found mimosa and i eating the wee bit of the kids’ chicken and okra that was leftover. we looked at it, picked up forks and devoured all two bites. delish. today is actually easier. am not hungry. am happy and energetic. or else, i’m delusional. also fine by me.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

this post almost happened in a macdonald's.

kind of like when natalie portman had that baby in wal-mart. and named it "america." so, mac calls last week to ask me some random question about news reporters, only i've stopped listening because he's just said, "i'm at macdonald's on my laptop. they have wireless here." i'm mortified. i'm practically screaming for him to leave, go to a coffee shop, anywhere. i don't even know if our friendship can be saved at this point.
until today, when i realize i've told my english 373 students that i will e-mail them by noon. it's 1:47. i'm coming up on a macdonald's at exit 91 in chapin, south carolina. i carry my little green laptop case inside. i don't buy anything, just walk quietly to the back booth. i hate everything. but i'm also curious. and grateful. like the first time you go to a strip club. you know, but not exactly. the internet, i realize, costs money. 3 dollars! i refuse to give macdonald's money. i storm out, fuming. mac: you ruin everything.

so, thursday, before i left for wilmington, one of my high schoolers lingers after class, which annoys me because i have to be slinging drinks in, like, 4 minutes.
him: have you heard of the band, mewithoutYou?
me (eyeing him suspiciously): no. are they, like, christian?
he's holding two cd's out for me. i haven't decided whether or not i'm going to take them.
don't get me wrong. i love jesus. a lot. but i can't get down with christian music. something to do with the propagandic. also, i always feel had when i'm flipping the dial on the radio, get to a good song, only to come to lyrics that inevitably go something like this: we lift up our hands in praise. think about it. the christians are always saying that in songs. it's like this: you hear a really good rap song, you turn it up, you realize halfway through that it's a sprite jingle.
but i trust this guy; this kid is the one who loves 1970's genesis, the early peter gabriel. we talk concept albums. anyway, i can't take it out of the cd player. it's good. really good. like if bright eyes actually manned up and played hard guitar.

two things about the weekend. i go to wilmington under the guise of seeing hannah and the small people, to make sure all of han's marbles are in place. but also, also i need to steal back my paintings from the ex. i go there, to his house, yesterday. i think: maybe he won't be home. i know the code (that's right; the ex has keyless entry. to HIS HOUSE.). but i can't do that. so i call, tell him i'm coming. keep in mind: before we dated his house consisted of flat screen televisions, entertainment systems, king size beds in itty bitty rooms, man-liquor in fancy crystal decanters. the only art was an oil painting of a martini. i'm serious. so i had to do something. also--and this is so incriminating--no books. no place for books. nowhere.

so, he answers the door in his boxers and with two black eyes. turns out he ran into the glass door, thinking it was open. he's a wreck. i'm a wreck. i go to take the paintings, only i notice that the new girlfriend has, in her own way, made her mark. there are workout videos everywhere, entire dvd's devoted to only one body part (abs, lower leg, etc.), pink bottles lined up on the jacuzzi: bath beads and salts called "it girlz." so i step toward the nude painting of myself (okay, why hasn't new girlfriend said, "hey, hon? i was wondering if we could take down the oil painting of your ex naked?") and he flips out. and this is when i turn into a guy. i turn emotionally blank. i have all three paintings. i'm almost out the door. but i need him to be okay before i leave. i start giving the paintings back, one at a time. until i'm in the car with only the one wyeth print of "christina's world." so, maybe i'll get back one a season.

finally: the children. they're wonderful. they make windchimes out of bottle caps. i walk into the living room this morning and the girlchild is looking at camper boots online, gasping a little each time she comes across something else that's "beautiful." hannah hates me. i'm the dad who doesn't actually help do anything. they climb on me. we laugh. i bail when they go to target for new socks. so, we take them to a fancy dinner, friday. it was perfect. only i realize now why couples stop knowing each other after babies. hannah and i--i'm dead serious--didn't speak to each other the entire meal. not once, aside from, "do you know what you want yet?" instead, this is us:
when will the food be ready? after they cook it, sweetheart.
can you sit still like a grown-up?
no, dear, that's not your meal. the reason it doesn't taste like chicken is because it isn't. it's bread and butter.
how about saving some of that juice for your meal.
stop throwing the straw.
sweetie, i will cut that piece of chicken after you finish your first one.
tell hank (the server) thank you for the fruit plate. it IS lovely.

meanwhile, hannah orders the pork chop special which doesn't exist. we've fabricated it. something--everything--had been lost in translation. it's actually veal. she gets it anyway. she's so tired. she's too tired to read the menu. meanwhile, surrounding patrons are smiling at us. hannah must get this all the time, only i don't know what it means? do they think we're partners, that we've adopted? do they feel sorry for us? do they think we're beautiful? i don't get it. okay, longest post ever. will get to "moral fiber" next time.

Friday, September 21, 2007

everything i touch turns to whale road

The other day I put light bulbs in the fridge, and poured my drink of seltzer into a measuring cup of brown rice.

Have also noticed that in my recent posts, I switch verb tense mid-sentence.

This morning, Mamie calls. I don’t answer bc I’m tugging on underwear that won’t fit. Why won’t it fit?? Scream at the phone every time it beeps, I’m TRYING Mamie!! Realize the underwear is Barbie underwear that belongs to the 6yr old.

The other day, putting the children on the bus, I notice he’s fiddling with his fly. Stop it, I say, that’s not polite. He says, It doesn’t work. The bus pulls up. I say, grinning madly to encourage him, It’s okay, you can’t even tell. The great talks, aquariums, pillow fortresses… none of this will he remember. What he’ll remember is that I once put him on the bus with a malfunctioning fly.

At dinner, Mimosa and I watch the children run circles. The girl is giggling, which should be cute but is not, in fact, because she has been giggling for two hours. The sound at the end of the day is shocking, abrasive.
Mim says, Some people say that this excess energy and giggling is a sign of something else wrong. Like being hungry. Some people say it’s sort of a fit.
I ask the child if it’s feeling okay, if it’s hungry or having a seizure. This is apparently the funniest thing I’ve ever said. Child rolls around on floor clutching midsection.

But Mimosa brings up an interesting point. I worry about them being normal. I know they’re normal. Are clearly beyond normal, and have reached genius status. Next spring, we’ll all be holding hands on Oprah. Then she’ll give us a cruise and a house.
But sometimes, I wonder. Why does he love to chew his hand so much? And why does he sometimes do this Stevie Wonder bob with his head WHILE chewing hand WHILE saying in a high-pitched Beavis voice, Ehhhh, where’s my spiderman? I’m always uneasy. Is this normal?

Mimosa and I model good behavior bc they’re incessantly awful to each other. A morning will go like this:
Why, thank you Mimosa for driving us to the store. How very kind indeed.
You’re welcome, Hannah… I love you.
An evening will go like this:
What do you think of my painting Mimosa?
Hm. Her gaze is sort of piercing.
I glare at her. Then try for amiability. She must mean, piercing like the
Mona Lisa. Ten seconds later…
What I meant to say was ‘demented’—her gaze is demented.
Oh yeah? Well that thing you’re painting looks like sorbet.

Yesterday, I burst into tears. The day has been full of non-accidents, which I’ve decided are tragedies. Culminating in me looking in the back seat to find one of the booster seats missing. Immediately bawl, run into the coffee shop where I’m meeting Mimosa, and yell, Some college student STOLE one of our booster seats! The booster seat is in the back of Mimosa’s car, of course.

How am I doing? Fine, I think. Totally balanced even. Great, considering. But there are moments (sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor, holding Maus, crooning I love you so much I love you so much, while in the background the children watch worriedly) when there is (small/brief) evidence to the contrary.

What's worse: it’s affecting everyone around me.

Mim stands in the kitchen holding a fresh bouquet of flowers. Where, she demands stamping her foot, is my GIANT FORK? (meaning the scissors)

Here, I tell her, trying to help. Besides I see the scissors. I pull out from a pile of junk, a dirty feather duster.

It’s aphasia, Mamie tells me. That’s what you have. Like those old people in hospitals that say whale-road for ocean. It’s called kenning, putting two words together like that.
Ken is know in Scottish, I say stupidly.
Kenning, says Mamie.
Scottish. I just said Scottish, like it was its own language.
I’m not disagreeing with you about anything.
Ken comes from the Middle English kennen.
We’re the smartest smart people ever.
Except she means the smartest dumb people—she would never say the smartest smart, and it’s my fault she’s like this.

Mamie will be here soon, and I'm hysterically happy. Tonight, because we like to invite disaster, we’re taking the kids to the fanciest restaurant in town.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

happy wednesday...

my mother calls on sunday, says, "wednesday's your sister's 30th birthday. i'm going to need you to take off work and, you know, throw together some cheese trays for the party." now, i'm thinking: what party? you mean she's 30 and not 29? how many people? but i can't say any of this. my mother asks little more than nothing from me at all times, so if she requested i enter ironman tomorrow and be prepared to make baklava by scratch in ten minutes...i'd have to just do it. so, i get there tonight. it's fine. i played old maid with morgan. luke played the drums with long matches used to build fires. we had several ice cream cakes, which runs against everything my parents stand for. i leave. i've got to drive back to greenville. only...

upon entering the car i check my voice messages:

8:34 pm: "hey mamie. it's joey lauren adams. george and i are at central grocery in oxford. i'm toasting you with a budweiser. yadda yadda yadda poetry yadda george..."

perhaps you don't recall: "fry like bacon, bitches" from dazed and confused. the girl who talks about girl loving on chasing amy. mallrats. the sweet love interest of adam sandler in big daddy. she's my favorite actress. and she CALLED MY CELL PHONE. granted, george put her up to it. but she called back later and we had a conversation. clearly, george didn't know who she was. he probably thought when she said "actress" she really meant "waitress." no matter.

the Cleansing (and other lullabies)

Ok, this is going to be a disaster. I'm too busy to even show up for my own life. The players are out on the field, kicking at dandelions and swinging bats at bees. So.

Causes for alarm: Mimosa has convinced me to do “a Cleansing”—it’s as scary as it sounds. Here’s the deal: you don’t eat. You drink something, some special drink, instead of eating. For days. She went 9 days on her first try. She’s like Ghandi; it’s terrifying. I admire and love her and feel my own piddly soul quiver in apprehension. My goal: anything over 4 hrs.

Mim: It’s good for you; it’s so healthy.
Me: How much weight exactly do you think I’ll lose? How quickly? Will I have the strength to walk?
Mim: You actually have so much energy. I meditate, but I also go running—
Me: I’ll die. I’ll starve and die. (I believe this. I absolutely believe this no matter what she says).
Mim: No, see—you supplement with organic herbal teas.
Me: Tea? TEA?
Mim: Herbal tea.

Mmm, nothing I like better than a giant heaping serving of chamomile.

But listen, she’s not forcing me. I know it sounds crazy. It IS crazy, Mimosa. And you all know I eat withoutstoppingallthetime. But the truth is that I keep listening to the Spanish cds. I just voluntarily subject myself to these things, and then complain loudly the whole time. Like the time I tried that whole low-carb thing. I ate cheese for a week, even though studies show this Jerry Springerish diet could cause brain damage.

Unrelatedly, I almost cried today on the phone with Mamie because she's rattling on about how she's doing this and that and five million other things while she has strep and I'm about to yell at her for doing anything but being in bed, when a memory happens--irrelevant, unbidden, and searingly poignant:

Once we were on the phone, and Mame is driving back from somewhere. And I lose the call. I'm devastated. This was our time to talk. She'd said, My phone might die. But I just didn't expect it so soon. She calls back ten minutes later, having stopped at a REST STOP to charge the phone in a BATHROOM for five minutes.

That right there deserved its own post. I can't even tell you. It's overwhelming.

dear mamie

what are you doing to the blog? it now says off to the side that the people blogging are: mamie and hannahandmamie. why does it always have to be two parts you, one part me??? we need a balance. we need to work together. it's cold here in your shadow, i never have sunlight on my face...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

dear you and you, two letters

1. dear teachers,

a thousand apologies. mea culpa. i do realize that the Eng 101 papers the kids schlepped to school today are not the homework we so labored over last night. that work, in all its multi-colored glory, is currently under the dining table. we're doing our best here.

sorry, too, about the spoons. that was my fault. they said, spoons for the yoghurt. i said, sure. i didn't put them in. maybe there's an extra utensil or two?

it's a shame about the juice boxes. i just didn't think of it the last few times i was at the store. and sure those Ethos bottles are way too big, but they're from Starbucks so maybe that will make them look more snobby and less like welfare projects.

you might be happy to know, though, that the children were bathed this morning, that they got on the bus for once, that they're wearing fairly clean socks.

2. dear student,

you weren't the only one who forgot the final draft of his paper. no, there were a few in every class. it happens. i say 'it's due on' a million times, you forget a million times. could happen to anyone. i get it. the brain is a fickle thing.

neither were you the only one who i told to take an absence, run off, and print it. fifty minutes, i said. remember? plenty of time. there are labs here and here and here. i pointed.

you were, though, the only one who took the full 50 minutes. everyone else came running, panting. you strolled in with a minute to spare. it's possible, the printer jammed, the margins were messed up, you fell down a few times on your way to the lab. it's possible.

thing is: when you came in you were wearing a different outfit. head to toe. different shirt, pants, shoes. i'm sorry i shouted, You're joking. i'm sorry i alluded to Sarah Jessica Parker and her wardrobe changes at the Oscars. the white shirt and jeans were fine, clean and neat. actually, the new outfit, the pink shirt and pinker shorts were... it's not about the fashion really. we both agreed on that. you even chided that the shorts were red. i'm glad you were in good spirits. grateful for you saying, It's a student story to tell. it is. i look forward to reading your essay, which came from your bookbag. the one you left in class while you went to change.


Monday, September 17, 2007

but i'd like the pie heated and i don't want the ice cream on top i want it on the side and strawberry instead of vanilla...

everything i know about relationships i learned watching "when harry met sally." i know. it's awful. it's the medium through which my parents have always taught us girls. like, yesterday, my mother drives all the way to greenville just to go to target with me. she usually does this sort of thing when she thinks i'm on the brink of a total f-ing go-to-pieces. so, we're driving. i'm listing the various facts which make up my personal and professional life:
1. strep throat
2. moving from old home to new home with strep and no truck to haul bed.
3. working 12 hour days all weekend for culinary festival. most of this time is volunteer work. as in, someone volunteered me to bartend in the beating sun from 8am to 2pm yesterday. with strep throat.
4. my chef and her kitchen vs. other chef and other kitchen...which leads to verbal blow-out involving myself at culinary festival VIP party while passing hor d'ourve trays of mushroom empanadas.
5. girl likes boy. boy loves himself and in turn cannot love other people. or, boy likes girl but is otherwise spoken for. or, girl likes girl likes girl.
6. my sister is turning 30 and i'm supposed to supply various cheese and fruit trays for party wednesday.
7. every bill i've ever had to pay or have ever heard of is due.
8. hannah lives five hours away.*
9. favorite college student turns in reader response that says, "his imagery is amazing, i can literally imagine it!" comma splice+exclamation point+the obvious=heartbroken

my mother listens patiently,then says, as if this means everything, "you really need to watch 'educating rita.' with michael caine."
but this is the solution for everything with these people. once, i confided in my mother about something "really important" and she suggested i watch "bend it like beckham."

i can allude to WHMS during any conversation and have been able to since the 7th grade. in fact, adam and i had an entire conversation about why men and women can('t) be friends and only halfway through did we realize we'd ripped the whole thing straight out of the movie.

*okay, so it's happening. the shift that occurs in every relationship. you know, one person always loves the other person slightly more. it's somehow the only way we stick together as humans. push and pull. it's just the way things are. but what makes this truly interesting is that sometimes the roles flip, especially if you stick around long enough.
what i'm trying to say is, hannah officially wears the pants in this friendshipmarriage. i don't know exactly when and how it happened. she was making me dinner and fixing everything and calling all the time and i was demanding and emotionally vacant one minute and now, and now...SHE's the one who is unavailable (and don't blame this on the children; we're always blaming it on the children.), she's the bossy one (BLOG! mamie, BLOG! i'm not going alone on this!), i'm calling her frantically and often.
it hurts. but it also teaches us how to appreciate one another.

hannah, i don't know how to quit you and i don't want to. and i don't wanna miss a thing. i could stay awake just to hear you breathing, watch you smile while you are sleeping, far away and DREAMING. i could spend my life in this sweet surrender. i could stay lost in this moment forever. well every moment spent with you is a moment i treasure.
i don't wanna close my eyes. i don't wanna fall asleep, 'cause i'd miss you, babe, and i don't wanna miss a thing. hannah.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


you said it would happen, and it did. mimosa and i are holding an afternoon visual arts workshop for the children. but the children produced five masterpieces in 2 minutes, got glitter glue on Maus, and were over it. so, it's just us grown people, decoupaging and collaging intently, happily. the kids are lying on the floor moaning, groaning, dying of boredom.

then, the girl-child-thing is hanging onto my leg under the table going: Mama, mama, mama.

i go, What's a momo?

she chirps merrily, I called you Mama. (laughs) Mama!!!

a great roaring. a tilting floor. a bottomless void, oh.

she whispers to her brother, Come here. She looks funny--is she crying?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

baby needs new shoes

My morning class went like this:

Phone rings. 'Sorry, guys--it's the kids.' (Everyone looks anxious, ready to help. I love them.)

'Mrs Abrams?'

I start to correct her, but the kid's got a broken arm. Or someone has given him acid. Or he's standing on the roof of the schoolhouse proclaiming that he is a bird.


'I'm calling about Aaron. Your son.'

Again, I'm tempted, but the arm is most definitely at a grotesque angle, or his nose will not stop bleeding, or he has dropped the acid and thinks he is a teapot, and I can't be all, '...and my father's FOURTH wife, THEIR mother is in Indonesia...'

'Is he okay? Is he hurt?'

The class echoes me by mouthing, What is it? What happened? Is everything okay? They lean forward sympathetically. Except for the one kid who's definitely packing up his bag like oh boy, we are SO out of here.

'It seems he ripped his shoe. He was drinking chocolate milk. The shoe is actually all ripped up. And one of the other kids threw it in the trashcan we keep in the playground. We cannot have barefoot children, could you come immediately with another pair?'

She's not Barthelme. But she could be.

Briefly, some concerns:

1. The shoe is new. How do you even rip a shoe? Into pieces?? It seems like it would take some freak strength. Like those people who rip stacks of phone books on Letterman with their bare hands.
2. I gave him no chocolate milk. WHO is giving him chocolate milk? He has organic apple juice.
3. No, I can't come immediately with another pair. I'm teaching. Can't he just pad around in the classroom for a bit? Also, if you really must know, the kid came with 2 pairs of shoes. And yesterday, he was cheerfully splashing through mud puddles (sorry, French Connection dress) and the sole of the other shoe fell off. Plop.

reality bites

okay, i honestly don't know how i haven't seen this until now. a (new) student at the high school today says, "i saw the youtubes from last year." i don't know what she means. i nod. i leave school and search...
so, the video itself isn't that funny: austin pretending to play the guitar, sam taking on some gangsta smirk (not unlike hannah's, i suppose). but the fact that the laguna beach soundtrack is playing...instead of reality drama, we have the washing of dishes. and tony hoagland t-shirts...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

oh no.

i don't even know how to preface this one. so, we have this wine tasting at the restaurant yesterday. (hi, it's mamie). the reps leave no less than 50 bottles behind. adam and i fill paper bags silently, reverantly. we go home. we drink on the floor and out of champagne flutes (due to moving). so, this morning: i commute the forty-five minutes to the relatively conservative, private liberal arts college where i teach (okay, okay, i also went to school there). i commence to speaking about duende, lorca, about the internal bullfight, true investigation. society urges us toward indifference... i begin quoting from an e-mail jack sent our friend, sally: it is not enough to defend goodness; as artists, we must create the good. he concludes, i think, by suggesting we all put poems inside our days. it's beautiful.
i'm sweating. i've taken up the blackboard. my right eye is twitching due to sleeping for a week in my contacts. i've said without saying what i think about all who govern this country, but i have also said what a beautiful nation it is indeed. indeed! i am using the word "indeed" without thinking twice. the lecture is whitmanesque. it is wonderful and terrible. i stop. i'm hungover and have lost my mind. i take up their poems that are due today.
i notice that one student's has a color photograph scanned at the top of the page. it's of george bush. and he's waving. WAVING at us, at me, at the reader. i'm annoyed, but i think it must be ironic. it's not. it talks about freedom wafting through the air. i don't touch it, just stare at the student then back down at the thing. i say, this isn't poli-sci multimedia power point class. he blinks.
anyway. crushed.

another steve, or: i'm in love. with the after school program director.

this is it. the Real Thing. dunzo. i'm marrying him. he's perfect. walk in looking like i've spent the night in an alleway and he's standing there all golden and clean, looking like he runs orphanages in places like calcutta and jo-burg. he looks at me like he's going to solve all my problems before he leaves to surf indonesia.

i want to say: Hello, I have two darling children that I'd like to enroll. instead, i anxiously fold my arms over the almond butter stain one of the darlings left smeared on my shirt and say after an uncomfortable pause: Help. he looks at me, grins, talks about the program. this is what he loves to do. if he could do it for free he would. that building next door? he's buying it; he's expanding.

i nod, i half-listen, i wonder if it's too soon to ask him over for wine and story-time.

he's telling me they do yoga once a week. i don't do yoga (it makes me panic), but it still makes me swoon.

then, he's telling me that he travels (as if i didn't know), had been in thailand recently.... with his girlfriend.

a sound escapes, a disappointed moan.

'i mean, with my girlfriend at the time.'

cue the freakish julia roberts mega watt smile.

two dimpled, cherubic girls run up shouting Daddy.

'they're your children,' i tell him accusingly.

'no, they're just goofballs.' the girls attach themselves to his limbs. he smiles indulgently. they say, ' we just WISH he was our daddy.'

jesus christ. a destination wedding--scotland. castles. bagpipes. this is the romantic comedy of the year, the love story of the season.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

oh, you're getting on the school bus

last night, i slept the whole night through. finally. as in, i slept until 5:30am. without interruption though, for which i was so grateful that i whimpered with relief this morning.

the first 2 nights, thing 1 came down at 3 am sharp. the first time, i heard her bouncing like a freak down the stairs and so burrowed down into the couch in the den (whatever, it's fine--there will be more beds soon) and held my breath. it's useless. it's worse than being in a thriller. these kids have a radar that beats out every evil movie psychopath. don't even try to hide, it makes the hunt even more viciously focused.

she spots me pretending to be the couch and comes running full speed. i open my mouth to scream No or Get Back, but she's on top of me, bouncing and hugging and gripping and babbling, WHERE DID YOU GO?? I WANT YOU TO SLEEEEEP WITH MEEEEE!" i thought, No. i thought, 3 a.m. No no no.

the next THREE HOURS go like this:

child: wake up.

me: go. away.

child: i love you.

me: %$#&. yeah. love you. leave. go. your. own bed.

child: can i do your hair?

me: mmmppphh.

child, laughing psychotically: i'm bringing the cat to you to say good morning.

reluctant cat is placed on face.

child: i'm going to give you a massage and sing.

so, i lie there, the cat scratches on my face are bleeding. she's hopping up and down on my back and screaming a song in thai about god and children's hearts or something. when i finally get up, my hair is braided and knotted and dreaded and there's a my little pony brush stuck above my ear.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

the smaller commitment ceremonies

so, i'm saying to hannah:
god, do you think c.k. williams' long lines enable a smooth move from narration to meditation or do you find them reason for unnecessary padding? or i'm saying,
i stopped tanning cold turkey. i've felt ugly and pale ever since. or i'm saying,
yeah, i'm living off salt and peppered tomatoes only. whatever. it doesn't matter.
because her response is (to me, to her new child):
"you should eat that last grape before getting up from the table. that last grape is all that stands between you and a bowl of icecream...alright, if you don't want to go see the ducks, keep it up..."
we're never going to be the same again.

so tired, so blank, i can't even think of a title for this

what's good:

--when aaron got off the plane, i didn't recognize him. b/c he came out dressed as spiderman. wearing the mask, and dragging a spiderman suitcase.

--the kids love being here; not a shred of homesickness; and they give me no attitude--at all.

--today, we went shopping, fed ducks, ate mickey-mouse pancakes, threw a frisbee, made spaghetti together, rode a carousel, hung out on a playground, put puzzles together, drew and colored, ate kiwi for the 1st time, etc.

--they call Eric (who has so graciously picked us up from Myrtle Beach), the DRIVER. as in, What's your driver's name again?

what's awful:

--my conversations are not conversations. they're me saying things like, Ok honey, I know it's good, but you're getting spaghetti sauce and ground turkey all over the cat. at which point, Mamie will say desperately, EVERYTHING has changed.

--my father forgot to send the guardianship papers. Woops, he says over email, Must be getting old! yeah, woops. now, they're going to be home-schooled and so learn everything about proust and nothing about math.

god, this is boring isn't it? soon, i'll be discussing magnet schools. oh wait, here's something:

in the laguardia airport, we're holding up, oh, about 100 people at security bc the kids need me to explain to them WHY we have to take off our shoes. it's so quiet you could hear a pin drop--that dead, eerie quiet that comes from people about to riot. a woman, to break the tension, asks the kids where they're going.

they scream in unison, AMERICAAAA!!!

**thanks and apologies: eric, they freaking love you. thanks for being such an awesome(!) friend. i'd be rocking myself in the back yard right abt now otherwise. jacs, for the notes, the music. mame, for coming soon. to the h-g's for the puzzle (now they know where and what north carolina is). to mimosa, for drinking champagne and eating steak w. me. thanks to everyone else for calling, helping, saving.

apologies to everyone for not answering (bc i can't speak, i'm just drooling), for accepting, for needing it.

awesome, this is a year book entry. i'd like to give a shout out to robby--i never knew you too well, but thanks for makin' me laugh in miss layne's algebra class. to christie, kelly, and carla--BFF 4 EVA.

f*ck. goodnight. and yes i know, it's 850 pm.

Friday, September 7, 2007

warning: even more insipid than usual

so, i'm (mamie) out with two guy friends from work last night. one gets drunk enough and tells me i'm "mesmerizing." champagne comes out of my nose. it'd be like me saying, "you know, i've always found you so...dapper." anyway, i'm clapping and laughing (clearly not the intended response). he says, "but, you know, i found your blog. and the pictures of you on there are atrocious. seriously. awful." i begin to sweat. i'm THAT vain. i become immediately concerned that all 7 blog viewers find me physically atrocious. it's midnight. i'm whipping around, looking for a tanning bed, a gym, anything...don't be surprised if glamour shots start going up one by one, in all their cowboy hatted, feather boaed glory.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

i hate you don't leave me: part deux

yesterday i was escorted out of the alltel store on north pleasantburg. (typically, i wouldn't think to say "this is mamie" because hannah would clearly never be escorted from anywhere...except that, strangely enough, she too was taken out of suncom about a year ago.) my relatively new phone had given me the finger and died the previous afternoon. so the lady employee person tells me, "you're eligible for an upgrade!" which really only means i "qualify" to buy my own, more expensive phone. which i proceed to tell her. "listen," i say, "i'm not here to purchase anything. i'm here for you people to compensate." once before, mind you, my phone broke and they tried to pull this sh*t on me, citing "phone abuse." i swear, that was the exact phrase. so i pitch a fit. she says, "the home office is on woods crossing if you'd like to voice your, your--" i say, "what? my dissatisfaction with your ignorance?" and i HATE the word "ignorance." anyway, to be fair, the lady at woods crossing gave me a new razor and hooked me up with one of those blue teeth things that i wouldn't be caught dead in. i drove away, shaken and yet somehow satisfied and blaring paul simon's "america" from his concert in the park...
but this, THIS is why i'm truly ashamed: i've been with alltel for four and a half years.and it's always been this bad and worse. we've never had a good relationship. i hardly remember why we fell in love in the first place. but i'm tired. and we've grown comfortable; even our arguments are expected. we have a seething, mutual disdain for each other. and, it's not like i haven't heard about this new AT&T wireless business in all its lacquered and fresh faced glory. i'm sure he would be a better fit. i'm sure we would alternate bringing the other coffee in bed. AT&T would be a better listener and lover; he would thrive on making me happy. but it would just be too much work. and, frankly, i'm scared. (isn't that the reason half of the pansies we know are, somehow, still together/engaged/ and cheating?)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

bittie baby

all you need to know is: i'm buying bunk beds. and looking on ebay. whatever, don't judge me.

but maybe you should, bc first of all, there are bunk beds for sale and sim and i get so excited bc they're cheap. but then... we notice that the tag line is "bunk beds for bittie baby." BITTIE BABY. horrifying. and here's one of my favorite auctions (pls note accent and emily dickinson caps):


We have for sell a set of Light Oak Bunk Bed w/ Bedding.

The Bunk Beds are real sturdy and Heavy. Comes with the

Blue and White Bedding which is reversable and was purchased

almost 2 years ago from walmart ( some wear). 1 sham and 2 cases are

not shown, but do come with it. It has some minor scratches that comes

with age and use. Has roll out slats, some broken but easy to repair.

It was bought to use as twin beds, when my father came in from Texas,

and now our youngest daughter moved out, and our Oldest is having our

first Grand Baby, and so we are converting the bedroom into a Nursery.

We No longer have need for the Bunk Bed.

If you should have any Questions please feel free to ask.


Thanks for Checking my Auction Out.

God Bless!

coffee, cars, and other accidents

so, my car (this is hannah--FIX IT MAMES) has been dead for 3 years. today, the shop calls and it goes a little something like this:

me: it's the transmission, isn't it.

disgusted car guy: well, ma'am... it's the durnedest thing.

me: god. how much. just tell me how much.

dcg: well, now, it's not exactly your transmission. we ain't never seen a thing a like this. it's just something brand new.

me: shit. just tell me.

dcg: it seems that over the years, you've spilled so much coffee down the center console on yr gear shift that you've done gummed it up so good it won't shift. ma'am, we've never seen that much spilled coffee.

i am a total idiot. it took 3 men removing the center console and scraping out the coffee and the full diet coke that i vaguely remember spilling there a yr ago. my car messiness has cost me $200. but to be fair, the damn drink holders are RIGHT ABOVE the gear shift.

easily the hilight of my life though is this:

i go to play tennis with tom. and he falls down.

boom, down. just like lavendar.

just a heap of tom and racket. with the shoe he fell out of lying nearby.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

oh, i'm THAT person.

a snob. a jerk.

it's like this: the school has temporarily moved locations. was: rosebushes and golden retriever puppy dogs at play in the honey light. joggers and ivy-hung windows. couples standing arm-in-arm on the front steps--probably divorcing, but aesthetically pleasing and glowing with the look of people feeding solely on organic farmer's market produce.

today, i'm driving to the new location with a friend.

me: oh, no. no. no f*cking way.

her: not sooo bad.

me, looking at the man with a leg missing and a full beer, who is screaming at us from the middle of the road: oh yeah, it's perfect. are you NUTS? they can't come here, they can't see this.

her: oh my god.

she's spotted something, but i don't know what b/c all i can see is the guy smoking a blunt and the miles of chicken wire fencing and abandoned cars.

to be fair, the school is sure to be stunning when it's remodeled. plus, the temp. building is quite lovely inside and the children seem oblivious to the despair outside. i can't even believe i had this reaction--it's awful and wrong i know. but there were people smoking blunts, like on the same block. anyway, spent much of the day trying to figure out what was wrong with me. only took 6 hrs to identify the emotion, and finally had to settle on: protective. gross.

omg. two things: i hesitated abt posting this--i didn't want to speak negatively abt the area surrounding the temp school. i want to be an active and supportive member of the pta. so i phoned mamie who called me a moron. and bourgeois. that's mamie, who knows what she's talking abt since she grew up on the streets of detroit.

second: mamie has just told me that she forgot her best friend's birthday. they've been friends since they were 5. her friend called and sang happy birthday into the phone--mamie had no idea why. it's the 5th yr running she's forgotten her birthday.

i remind her that my birthday is nov. 16 and it's on a friday, to which she says: oh, that might be a bad week. might be in london hanging out in a fabulous house with no children.

Monday, September 3, 2007

countdown to kids 2007, cont.

my brother and sister are used to standing up in the backseat of my dad's convertible in thai traffic. i've just learned that here children need to be in car seats until they're 8 or weigh something apalling like 90 lbs. are you hearing me? i'm putting CAR SEATS in my jetta (that will, fingers crossed be fixed by next week). and i'm going to get the booster kind. at target. because that's where they're most reasonable. god, next time you see me i could be holding clipped coupons. carry on.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

i have to.

no, i will not make out with you.

there's really no follow up to giving birth to two elementary schoolers from the south pacific. what's important is how much MY life is about to change (this is mamie by the way). i'm going to be that aunt you always called "aunt" even though she was of no relation to you. i will take you both out for french presses and manhattans on the rocks--no cherries--on sundays, even though you're 5 and 6. i will set you up with my niece, morgan, and then tell you over and over again how no one--not even you--will ever be good enough for her. i will buy you bangles and send you beads from mardi gras. i will take you to shows and introduce you to all the older, divorced men i used to date, all the while referring to them as "old friends." i will teach you to call hannah "mom" behind her back just to freak her out. we will only do grown-up things together. when you want to go to, say, the aquarium or dog park, i will explain all of the dangerous/terrible things that go on there. i will give you "absalom, absalom!" and "invisible man" for your 7th and 8th birthdays, respectively.

now, there's only time to bullet:

*what the hell is up with cyclists? no offense, eric. i think it must be a lovely, calming sport that requires a great deal of endurance. that being said, greenville is becoming a cyclist's town. people have bike license plates. this weekend was the road race championships. i had thought all the foreigners in tight spandex clothing would not affect my life whatsoever. except that i waited on 14 of them last night. most of them were beautiful and kind. although men that fit kind of disturb me. i can't be attracted to something that inhuman; there must be something aesthetically off about you in order for me to want you. so, they're nice. they're drinking gallons of water. a german man stares at me for the duration of the meal. i f-ck up wine presentation because his eyes are peering into my soul. so he says, "you. you going to watch ze race weez your huzbeend?" me: "uh, no. i mean, i'm not married." him: "so you take me out? tonight? i come back here at 11." me: "um, no. i mean, you're drinking amaretto on the rocks. what can i possibly do with that?" the humor is lost in translation; i have actually hurt his feelings. anyway, skip to this morning. i step out for coffee and, i swear to god, the road is blocked off and people are tailgating with fold-out chairs, deviled eggs, the whole thing. waving flags!!! i'm just gawking. hundreds of people in the streets. granted, i live on main street, but still. when did this happen? lance armstrong couldn't have done this alone, just as bobby flay and bourdain and giada and emeral didn't do the whole chef/cooking popularity alone.

*also, check out stephanie's id. id as in freud, not id as in license. i made the mistake once, kind of like in junior high when i went into a record store looking for the new "russian roo" album because my cool hippie boyfriend liked them. translation: rusted root. translation: "send me on my way" blaring in the opening soiree scene of "party of five." anyway, i saw stephanie's id on friday night and it was one of the best live shows i've ever seen. it's like if tori amos were good, if she had an energy that wasn't so soul-splitting. the percussion makes me never want to make fun of the triangle again.

*also, michelle williams and heath ledger!!!! i'm destroyed. first owen? now the next kurt & goldie? okay, granted, she never looks happy in pictures. and, granted, she used to date my friend charlie when she was on "one tree hill," and i here she's a bit, err, randy. but still!!! what about matilda!!! why is no one thinking about the children??? (except for, of course, hannah.)

excerpt from my dad's latest letter... sorry mames, i'm turning the blog into a crisis hotline

Sunday, 2907/15:15

Hi Hannah,

Got the kids booked Phuket-Bkk Fri., 7th sept. at 21:00 going over with me. United all the way to RDU on the 8th. Will send the full itineary tomorrow. Sending pocket money $60 with them. They will give you an ATM card that you can use there for the necessary food, clothing & sitter money.


Welp, looks like this is happening. Thanks to those friends who are already saying and doing life-saving things. Yesterday was a bit of a scream, so I'm grateful as hell. We'll see how I do--don't think there'll be much leisurely blogging time soon. But if nothing else, Auntie Mamie can report on the funny, the mishaps, the disasters. I'll be keeping two small humans alive. You know, making sure they brush their teeth, eat, get debugged, etc. All kidding aside, I LOVE them (sorry to use the L) word and while I'm terrified, I also know I can do this. I think :)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

forget the hummingbird, here's the deal

so, i had just posted that last entry, was settling down to write and...

my father (this is hannah btw--might be a good time to make the distinction) called to say there is a good chance that i am inheriting my brother and sister for a year, maybe longer. they are 5 and 6. i may not see or speak to you ever again. there's always the slight chance, as there always is with my dad, that this won't happen. but he sounds serious. and he's talking plane tickets, guardianship papers, etc. so instead of eating ice cream, i've been looking up school districts, start dates, and the like. clearly, am in shock--a little hysterical. i'm blogging for christ sakes.

but i'll be fine. i am preparing myself. it's complicated, but i'd almost rather they be here with me. even if it means life as i know it is over. but this happens, right? cars crash, people crash, and 28 yr olds give birth to elementary schoolers. this will be fun. this will be an adventure. this will be the best book ever. anyhow, keep me in yr thoughts. if you pray, now's the time.

oh yeah, and my mac is f*cked and leaving me. mac support is sending me a box. is having me renew a warranty (for three hundred dollars). so, i'll just be on mimosa's computer off and on for the next 5-10 days.

my car is not okay. it wasn't just the battery. i couldn't shift out of reverse for like 20 minutes at pcj. the a/c is blowing hot air. it's stalling out. crap. steve really let me down--just like a man. kidding. sort of.

ok, am obviously talking total gibberish. cross yr fingers and hope for the best.

love from crazytown.

consider the hummingbird

today is perfect, and no one can ruin it for me. everyone is beautiful. everyone weighs just the right amount. everyone is a superior driver. everyone here in the coffee shop is beaming encouragingly at me, so that i feel grand and expansive. it's like a commercial for soda or deodorant or something.

last night, i was eating at deluxe with mimosa--things really started to look up when the mussels in their coconut-green curry broth showed up. but then--and mamie, you'll love this--julie (our server) vanishes for, like, 45 minutes. but we're not worried. there's wine, there's calamari. why worry? and when she does come back, she says she's been at edge of urge where the whole store is 75% off. holy shit, we say to each other over white chocolate and wild blueberry bread pudding with bourbon coconut ice cream and goat caramel.

so this morning, after the farmer's market and before the dixie, we go to edge of urge. it was unreal. it was spiritual. i bought over $1200 worth of shoes and dresses--my total? $200. i'm so peaceful right now i'm floating.

clearly, today i will write my entire book. when it's done, i'm going to go get an ice cream cone. come, let's eat ice cream together (i recommend the key lime pie, but whatever, it's about what makes you feel best), we'll hold hands and read to each other in the beautiful evening, point out the moon, and plan for the beautiful future, which is full of trips to the alhambra and yacht trips in the greek isles.