Thursday, December 10, 2009

Another Suburban Morning. But for the Big, Dead Bird.

My good friend and neighbor called me this morning. Let's call her "Ellen". Ellen was freaking out a little.

Ellen: "There's an enormous dead crow in my yard. With his head shoved in the ground. Like in the ground. And his weird feet are sticking up. And there are like, thousands of crows circling overhead and sitting on tree branches staring at my house. What are they doing? Why is the front of my house like a Hitchcock movie?! Help!"

Me: "I think you need to call the Health Department or something. It could have West Nile."

Ellen: "Oh. Mah. Gawd. So, now I can't take the kids to school because I am pretty sure those other crows are going to attack us and give us West Nile."

Me: "They're not going to attack you. They're crows - not La Costra Nostra. It's not like they think you killed their brother and they're waiting to take revenge." [I peer outside the window.] "Um.. I could be wrong about that."

Ellen: "I'm not calling the dang Health Department. I am taking care of this NOW." [Ellen is little, but she is hard core.]

Me: "Do you need me to come down there and help?"

Ellen: "No. I can do this. But I'm probably going to throw up a little."

So about ten minutes later I hear a noise that sounds like tires squealing. Except that it gets louder and louder and seems to last for a while. Five minutes after that Ellen calls me back. And this is what happenned:

First, Ellen put on like three pairs of gloves and grabbed a big, black hefty bag and a rake. Then, she went outside and sort of poked the crow. And then she threw up in her mouth. This was followed by our other neighbor and dear friend, Mimi coming out of her house. And it was ON.

Ellen: "Help me! There's a dead bird right there and then all these other birds and I just had an issue with vomit."

Mimi: [Looks up and sees the swarm] "What the ...?!"
[Looks down and sees the enormous, upside-down crow corpse] "Oh my ...?!"
[Looks up and spots another neighbor's adult daughter sitting on her front porch smoking Newports in her pajamas and staring into space.] Whispers: "What is her name again?"

Ellen: Whispers back: "I have no idea. I always call her Boo Radley's sister."


[BRS nods. Gets up and walks over. Assesses situation. Takes rake and prods bird into the hefty bag. As the bird's head comes out of the ground there is a noise. A soft, swooshy sound. As if the bird's head might pop completely off and thousands of evil mini-crows might come flying out of the hole in his neck and begin attacking the neighborhood.]

[Mimi then does what is described as a "Stuart" run and screams in high C for at least 30 seconds]

[BRS nods at crazy neighbors, drops hefty bag in trash can at the curb, walks back to her porch - all without taking the ciggarette out of her mouth. Sits back down, resumes staring into middle distance]

Mimi: "OK. Great! Glad to have helped. I'm going inside now."

Ellen: Stunned. "Uhhhhhh....."

But the best part of the story as far as I'm concerned is that Ellen's husband walked right by all of it on his way to work that morning an hour before all this went down. And it was a trash day. So he would have stepped out of the house, noticed perhaps two hundred crows cawing and circling his house, then walked right by the huge dead bird, then three steps later walked by a trash can. And then he just kept walking to the train.

It should be clear to everyone that disposing of dead animals is a DADDY job and not a mommy job. And, Ellen's husband is like some sort of special forces, military ops badass dude who is scheduled to re-deploy in about five minutes. It's not like he's a florist. The freaking crows were practically spelling it out in formation in the sky: 'Come back and deal with this situation or your wife will throw up in her mouth'. But no. In Mommyland, all jobs - particularly the gross ones - fall squarely on one person's shoulder's. And I think we all know who that person is.  Boo Radley's Sister.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. - 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's 8:03 am and I Need an Adult Beverage

It is 8:03 a.m., and it has not been a good morning. I am exhausted. I am unpleasant. I am very close to coming to unhinged. And I am being provoked. Where to begin. Or more precisely... With whom?

To Captain Coupon. Let's start with you. I know that you just love to mess with me. Making me mad is a delightful sport to you. But here's a hint; when your baby wakes up every 45 minutes all night long because she is teething and you do NOTHING expect snore and roll over, it is inadvisable to wake up at 6:30am and stomp around our bedroom bemoaning the fact that your dress shirt has wrinkles. And fuss about "where are my cuff links?" I have no idea. Where are my black pearl earrings? You don't hear me asking you to keep track of my random crap. Also, it is a very bad idea to use a tone with your wife about said dress shirt and then coo to the baby: "Did my sweet girl have a rough night? Daddy's here, it's all ok." Really? Is it all ok? Because for your sake, I hope the gun is unloaded. And if your judgment is bad enough that you ask me to make you breakfast, I will stab you with a fork.

To six-year old daughter. You are next. Why are you crying? You cannot be possibly be crying for the reason you claim. I am the meanest mommy on the earth? Seriously? You are six. So am I horrible because I refuse to dress the entire family in black pants and white shirts. And then have us all walk you to school. So that everyone in the neighborhood and at school can see us dressed alike. So that (direct quote): "They will see us and know we are a family and that we are really professional people". To what profession were you referring? Catering? I will not dress the entire family in matching outfits. We are not Von Trapps. Or Osmonds. We are also not crazy. I will not do it for family photographs, and I will certainly not do it on a Tuesday morning. I'm sorry that you are crying. You are very cute and I love you, but if you ask me one more time to change my clothes, I am locking you in the closet.

Back to Captain Coupon: No. I am not changing into a white shirt and I am not being mean to her. Please stop moving your mouth hole before my inner New Jersey takes over (like the Hulk does to Bruce Banner). I am no longer responsible for my actions.

To four-year old son: I heard you the first fifteen times you asked me to wipe your bottom. I am pretty sure you already know that we keep extra toilet paper and toddler wipes under the sink so I see NO REASON why you chose to wipe your keister with my shower curtain. And yes, you do have to wash your hands. Oh, I see. There is no poop on your hands because you didn't use your hands to wipe. You used the shower curtain. Therefore you do not have to wash your hands. That is very interesting logic, my son. Ahem. WASH. THEM. RIGHT. NOW. And you will use soap or I will bathe you in the front yard with a hose.

Back again to Captain Coupon: Stop laughing this minute and go to work. I mean it. Wait, did you seriously change your suit so that she would stop crying? Do you have any idea what you have done? You look like you need a wine list.

To the baby: I love you. You're the only one in the whole house who is currently good. And I know your mouth hurts. But why? Why do you hate me? Why do you bite me while you are nursing? I don't want to scream like that, but you see, it's involuntary. Because you are biting my nipple and it hurts like a bastard. Also, could you please try sleeping? For more than an hour? At night, I mean? Pretty please?

I hear a small voice that sounds eerily like my own. It says: "I should not have to ask you ten times to get dressed. Please. Get. Dressed. Or. We. Will. Be. Late." It is my daughter. I think she is talking to her brother.

To the dog: You. Do you know that your little squirrel chasing dream last night woke up the baby the one time she was actually sleeping? Was it necessary for you to howl? Really? Wake up that baby ONE MORE TIME and you're sleeping in the basement. Also, I get it. The floor next to my side of the bed is your happy place. I understand that this is a great honor. But do NOT pilfer disgusting items from the trash can and then take them to your special place where I step on them in the dark. I do not enjoy wiping wet Ritz crackers (or "reprocessed" Kleenex) off my feet at 4am. I am talking to a dog.

Silence. I look up. They are all there, staring at me. They are all wearing black pants and white shirts. Oh no. The Blur is obscuring my vision. The Cap'n is holding out a white sweater. "Put it on. It's time to walk to school." He is trying not to laugh. Its over. The battle is lost, and the little terror suspects have won again. I lack the strength to fight so I put on the sweater. We are a family of professional caterers and we are now walking to school.



Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How Did I Get Here?

I recently pulled into a spot in the Target parking lot, hung up my phone and thought: "How the hell did I get here?" This was not a metaphysical question. At that moment, I had no memory of driving there, who it was I had just been speaking to, and no bloody idea what I was there to buy.

You may ask yourself: "Had she been drinking?" A very good question! But sadly, no. Besides, I would never drink and drive. They say texting and driving is almost as bad. And I would never do that either. Unless I was at a red light. Or in really bad traffic. Because that is texting and stopping. And therefore doesn't count. Safety first, people. But I digress...

What explanation do I have for this moment of amnesia in the Target parking lot? I have none. My father describes the years when his children were young as "The Blur". So that's where I was - deep in the Blur. My father is a somewhat inconsistent source of wisdom on parenting issues, but he hit the nail squarely on the head with this one. I am on a 24-hour cycle of waking, sleeping, nursing, napping, cooking, cleaning, wiping, folding, dropping off, picking up and putting away. And it never ever ends. I was once a very smart person. I was 2 semesters into a Doctorate when I had my first kid. Now, I am a moron. That's what The Blur has done to me.

It's not just my (questionably sane) family, either. My friend has three girls that were born within four years of each other, during which time her husband was frequently deployed. She is totally together, beautiful and smart. She is also completely into her kids, who adore her. When I asked her what her youngest was like as a baby, she just looked at me, blinking. "I have no idea," she said "You don't think I remember any of that, do you? 2003-2006 is basically just a stretch of unpleasant fuzziness with a lot of diapers thrown in." The Blur got her, too.

Let us establish consensus on a few points. First, The Blur is real. Second, it is coming for you. Third, sooner or later it will get you. Should you wonder if this eventuality has already come to pass, here is a handy checklist. If any of the following remind you of yourself, its too late - you're in The Blur:

  • You open the fridge and stare at its contents. You try to remember what you need. You see that you have a cup of black coffee in your hand and think gleefully: "Ahh.. yes... Milk!" Later, when you see one of your children staring vacantly at the open refrigerator, you yell at them to close the door before they cool the whole damn house.
  • You think you returned an important phone call. You suddenly think, maybe I didn't. Maybe I am just remembering that I was supposed to. You check your cell phone's call log to find no record of any call. You sigh, dial the remarkably familiar number to hear the voice of the receptionist you just spoke with. On your home phone. You quickly hang up before speaking.
  • You and your spouse are finally alone in a quiet house at 9:45 pm. You have a conversation consisting entirely of one-syllable words (i.e. "Good day?" or "Paid Sprint?") and grunts ("Mmm hmm"). Also, nodding. Then one of you falls asleep.
  • You hear one of the little terror suspects bleating from the back seat: "Mooooommm, what are we doing here? We're supposed to be at praaaactice not my schooool!" and realize that your subconscious drove you to the wrong place as you mentally planned how to fit six hours of work into the twenty minutes you will have at home. Now you are late. Panic ensues.
  • Tuning out the chattering of little monkeys, you relax for a moment. You look at your beautiful daughter, smile and say: "So, how was school today? Did Miss Brown substitute for you again?", all the while congratulating yourself that you are so in touch with what's happening in her class. She looks concerned and answers: "Um... Mommy, you already asked me that. Twice."
  • You find yourself in the Target parking lot, wondering how did I get here? Why am I here? Who was that on the phone? What's my name? Where's my tail? (Thankfully, cell phones are useful sources of historical information and I found a list in my pocket that said - Target: flour, half and half, cat litter, wine).
Since I am clearly trapped in The Blur for the foreseeable future, I see no other course of action but to try and enjoy it. I have tried and failed to retrieve some of my former intellectual sharpness, for example, the ability to remember my home phone number. In a given week, I might have one good day. But with that mental clarity comes a self-awareness that can be painful. A bit like a long look in the mirror, in blaring natural sunlight, with a bad hangover. Then comes the metaphysical question: "Oh. My. Gawd. How did I get here?"

So, I choose to embrace The Blur - perhaps it's the Universe trying to make this phase of my life easier. Why fight it? It's temporary. Someday I might be smart again, maybe. I will be able to think complex thoughts or construct a sentence or read books intended for adults. But until then... Bring on the size XL glass of wine every night! Facebook? Oh hell yes. Real Housewives of New Jersey? Thank you very much, I will. People Magazine, US Weekly, and other IQ-sucking publications? You betcha. Twilight saga? Bring it. You know what Blur, I might even miss you when you're gone.

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