taking the passive out of passive-aggressive

Thursday, July 29, 2004

I have given birth to Mothra.

I knew she was big when I had her--8 pounds and 8 ounces of healthy baby, whereas my first baby was 6-13. But she keeps growing! At this growth rate and extraordinary level of strength, she will end up working out at Gold's Gym while the other children are playing Ring-Around-the-Rosie. In height and weight both, she tops out the charts.

I always had a suspicion that this one would be my athlete, my running buddy, my field hockey star. At four months, I'm ready to sign her up for some college scholarships. My beautiful little Amazon! You will kick the other babies' butts! You will rule the daycare, and then the world!

Monday, July 26, 2004

I'm really disturbed right now because the popup ads at the top of my blog are as follows:

"End a marriage! Learn How! 21 steps to ending a marriage and leaving your spouse."

and

"Affair Help: Professional online counseling for extramarital affairs."

Now what godforsaken AI is trolling my blog and coming up with this shit? What keywords are triggering it? Is it "he never picks up his socks"? Is it the word fuck? What is it? I don't want to end my marriage or have an affair, I swear to Jah. I just want to complain in peace.

This summer, all the SUV drivers peeled off their American flags and pasted on those idiotic OBX stickers, en masse. It's as though everyone with an Excursion buys a piece of the hive-mind at the same time that they sign the lease.

At least the sheeplike patriotism of the flag denoted a vaguely complex (if sinister) thought--something having to do with a fear of death, or a colonialist desire to conquer the world. But OBX stickers merely signal status of the lowliest kind. If everyone with an SUV is vacationing in the Outer Banks, how exclusive can it be?

Or maybe it's just some kind of sign that they're in the club--that they too know what OBX means and that makes them cool. It's like all the boys in my high school wearing that dumb haircut that fringed out in the back, and all the girls driving Cabriolets. Or like the moms who all show up to school events in the exact same outfit, comforted by their conformity, fluffing their identical blonde hair.

Every day at six o'clock I start to look for my husband's car. I know the sound of his door opening and the beep of the lock, and I imagine this signals some kind of freedom from my self-imposed exile here in the house. But when he comes home I find myself even more exiled--to the basement or the office, trying to avoid my family because I need "alone time", as though that's not what I've had all day.

I felt almost as imprisoned when I was an advertising girl, so I suspect it's something inside me, but it still makes me wonder why thousands upon thousands of us women, well-educated and witty and employable, choose to Stay Home. Our stimulation is limited to other mothers, well-meaning old people in the grocery store, and the futile entropy of housecleaning and catalog-drooling. "Wouldn't it be nice," I find myself thinking, "if the bedroom was done in a minimalist style, a la West Elm?" Or, "If only I could afford more Hannas for the children, we would look really great at the grocery store or in the five minutes I spend picking up from camp." This is not me, for the love of God. I used to read, look at art, write, and care about things. Nowadays I hear about someone's fancy dinner party and I think, "I've got to throw one of those!"

As far as socializing goes, the top ten topics of conversations among mothers are:

10. Why do the kids whine so damn much?
9. He never does a goddamn thing around the house.
8. I'll never forget the last three hours of labor.
7. I got those at Pottery Barn! Aren't they cute?
6. I would soooo fuck that guy.
5. Maybe polygamy wouldn't be so bad, so long as I got to be the Head Wife.
4. I can't pinpoint the source of the smell, but I've narrowed it down to the kitchen.
3. You've got to try this new technique for getting rid of unwanted hair.
2. Check out this bra--I got it on sale.

And number one...

1. I can't wait til we have enough money so I can get my tits done.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

My latest daughter is a tiny, illiterate tyrant. She subjects me to the most awful tortures--carrying her little seventeen-pound self around for two hours while she drinks a bottle, crying at the strangest times and interrupting my mealtimes, keeping me up all day and night. When she says jump, I ask how high. When she demands a strenuous rocking and singing session, I'm warbling "You Are My Sunshine" at the top of my lungs, which she finds endlessly amusing, grinning so wide her binky falls out. When she wants to go outside, we march, all of us, into the sunshine for some serious tree-gazing. Even my older daughter, who previously wouldn't so much as pick up her own socks, is enslaved to this miniature martinet. She says, with a dazed look in her eyes, as she hauls the baby around, "This baby needs fun! And love!"

My husband has no clue. Tonight, he tried to put Queen Bee to bed, and failed; I was having my first shower of the day (yes, it's true) and I marched down the stair buck naked to tell him, "SING GODDAMIT SING! SHE WANTS YOU TO SING!" He piped right up and started singing, with the same dazed look in his eyes, and I laughed. Now he knows--resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

I'm dying to know who these Bush voters are. Evidently, half the country is going to vote for this criminal, but I don't know which half, and I sure haven't met any of them. I know I live in some kind of liberal elite stronghold, but I'm not going to apologize for it; I'm right, and they're wrong.

I grew up in a Quaker school and it was wonderful; they taught me to love everyone for the light inside of them, and to be peaceful and kind. But I could never completely assimilate the philosophy. How can you believe, after watching a single episode of Jerry Springer or Judge Joe Brown that the light of God is actually evenly distributed among us? I fully understand that what I'm saying is antithetical to Christ's teachings and, moreover, un-American, but still. Some people are bad and some people are good. And most of us are somewhere in between.

And W. and his cronies are actually bad. I mean bad-bad, not like Virgil in Dante's hell, but actually bad and evil. I'm not sure why they insist on doing bad and evil things, but the only explanation is that the devil's gotten hold of them.

When I used to get in a fit of pique with my cousins, my nana used to say "Love the sinner, hate the sin." But it's a distinction I feel incapable of making. Fuck both of 'em, sinner and sin alike. And fuck whoever votes for the sinner , too.

My husband wants me to amend this blog to say that the dehumidifier was, in fact, a good idea. So noted. In fact, our basement has never been drier--now we need to worry about the flammability of stray cigarette ashes, due to the Saharan conditions down there. It's kind of like L.A. in the summertime.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

I spend more time writing e-mails than almost anything else. I thought that might stop when I stopped working, but I kept the email habit, and now when I have a thought (a rare occurence, admittedly), I send an email. I don't bother to articulate the thought in any detail--it's part of an ongoing offline conversation I have with the recipient, and so it makes reference to events outside of the email dialogue. And then there are people with whom my entire dialogue is actually in email, and so when we get together, we're actually referencing emails. It's confusing and thinking about it requires many levels of abstraction that I can't possibly muster, since I've been watching bad TV all night and drinking wine.

I've got all these letters that my dad wrote to various people, to his family and love letters to my mom, which my mom gave to me in a fit of pique shortly after he died. (She now resents that I have these, as though she weren't about to throw them away before I took them.) In any case, it makes me realize what a pathetic writer I am, and I blame technology. I have too many outlets for my badly-thought thoughts, my terrible turns-of-phrase; I don't have to actually type anything, or actually consider the alphabet. I don't have to think about the consequences of whiteout (did she mean that? was it freudian?) I don't have to ever commit to any act of writing, and so my novel goes unfinished. But my emails? They are considered and weighed, perhaps because they are more permanent, because they have a recipient who will read them, because someone is actually reading. And the rest of my shit, forget it.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

I often envy my single and childless friends, but they seem just as disaffected as I am. I think it's a matter of scale--even if your responsibilities are few, you're going to perceive them as really huge, because you've nothing to compare it to. And maybe I have the same syndrome. It's not like I'm suffering in any significant way--I'm just bored and restless and irritable and tired. And complaining about it is so unbecoming.

I wonder about people who have three, four, five kids... how can they handle it? Do you ignore some of your kids half the time? Do you have any life whatsoever? Or are my husband and I just complete retards who can't figure out how to parse time effectively? Maybe I have these effete kinds of "needs" for alone time and quiet, which other people have given up. I admit to some contempt here... I imagine that in service of having children, these men and women have completely sold their souls and now watch TV til they pass out at ten. It's not a life I would want, but then again, what's the difference between two and three kids? I'm still exhausted at the end of the day. I still have to make dinner.

But then again, when I had only the one kid, I could barely manage to get her to school on time, with a nutritious lunch and breakfast. I mean, I made it happen, but by the skin of my teeth. Now, with two, I'm flummoxed. I have to feed the baby and feed the older one, and get everyone's clothes and diapers and bathing suits together, and make sure the laundry is done, and appropriate shoes are available, and the diaper bag is packed, and spare bottles, and... I'm just no good at this stuff. I'm just going to have to hire someone eventually, because what I'm good at, what I should be spending my time doing, is schmoozing marketing people in conference rooms and restaurants. That's really my skill, schmoozing. And, as with globalization, shouldn't we each be doing the job at which we're the most effective?

I don't mean to be cynical about it, and I do enjoy the kids, when they're not whining, crying, or pooping. But really, I was built to sit around at Yaddo and have affairs and type on a manual typewriter, not to change diapers all day. Betty Friedan taught me that much.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

This afternoon we had a mother of a rainstorm--actually, more like a deluge. I wanted an ark.

In my younger years, a rainstorm would have been an opportunity to wear a white t-shirt and dance around outside, thereby attracting the attention of all boys within eyesight, but nowadays I have more to deal with. My eighty-year-old house leaked like a sieve today, and I didn't know what to do about it.

Back when I worked, I delegated just about everything--from bug-killing to diaper-changing--but now that I'm a SAHM, I'm left with only my inner resources, sweat, and problem-solving ability. All three were in short supply today. The baby was crying upstairs, my older daughter was hungry, and I was standing in a six-inch puddle in the basement with the wet-dry vac, wondering "What now?"

I got most of it cleaned up, and after a while the man came home. His reaction was to buy a giant $200 dehumidifier, as though equipment could solve this problem. The floor is still wet, and I'm just thinking that if I ignore it, it will go away. I simply can't have tht fight again--you know, where you say "why don't you help me out with this" and he says "I've worked my ass off all day" so I've decided to leave it be. What's a little mildew, a little crumbling around the foundation? All things decay and entropy rules. I'm not gonna fight it.

Monday, July 05, 2004

I am living a bizarre and agoraphobic life, limited by the boundaries of four streets. Shopping at the Eddie's and sitting in the garden are quite worthwhile, although I'm starting to get a little bit smothered by the whole scene.

My neighborhood is the last bastion of the deep south, although technically we're in a border state. Black nannies stroll the white children around, and Mexican gardeners keep the whole place watered and mulched. I am an anomaly, a woman walking her own children around, not rich, not particularly thin or tan. I go to the neighborhood pool and feel intimidated by the young nannies and the even younger lifeguards. I take the children to the pharmacy and get all verklempt when the prescription isn't filled on time. I eat chicken salad sandwiches, when I can remember to eat, and the rest of the time I look for an opportunity to nap.

On occasion, I do leave the neighborhood, and go to the next neighborhood over to sit on my best friend's back porch, and watch her child eat pudding or something. And sometimes I even call long-distance, and talk to other women who are sitting on their own back porches, smoking cigarettes and drinking wine, wondering what's going to happen next.

I've been gone for a really long time, and that's because I had this baby. She's adorable and wonderful, but like all babies, she does tend to suck everything around her into this giant babyland, where nothing can happen but baby stuff. It's a small price to pay for a wonderful new human, but at the same time, it's kind of tyrranical.

But I'm back now, kind of.