Friday, March 31, 2006

The Purpose of Milkshakes

So one of the things that's difficult for me as a parent is that I am often forced—despite the personality I was born with—to be a social creature. I cannot, for example, say to the boy who assails me after school with a really very sweet request to join me and two of my daughters for lunch, "Are you out of your little 5-year-old mind? It's Friday, it's raining, the hems of my jeans are soaked, and all I want to do is go home, so no. No, you cannot join us for lunch. Ya little shit."

I can't say it for a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is because the two daughters in question are tugging on my sweater sleeve and saying, "Please Mom? Please? Please can B come to lunch with us?" over and over and over again. And I also can't say it because the kid is standing there wearing his little Independent skateboard hoodie, and his Dad is standing next to him wearing the exact same one, and they are sort of forlorn and hapless, the two of them. And also there is the fact that though this kid raises such a ruckus in the classroom, he is unfailingly gallant in all things concerning R & V. In fact, I have seen him on the playground tending to Risa when she falls, and taking other boys to task when they are what he judges too rough for my girls.

So instead of saying what I want to say, I say, "Of course, B! That would be excellent!" and then I tell his Dad which restaurant we are heading to, and they follow us in the exact kind of car that you would suspect a father and son who wear matching Independent skateboard hoodies to follow us in.

And everything goes okay conversation-wise, until it becomes apparent that B has taken R & V into his confidence on several personal family matters, and though Risa is admirably discreet, Vida is decidedly not. "So," she says between bites of her hamburger, "you and your wife split up?"

Oh. My. Gouda. Blindsided. I am completely blindsided. How do I gracefully extricate us from the direction in which this is going, oh how, how, how, I panic. Before I can think of a way, B's father says, "Uh-huh. Except we were never married."

This is when I realize the plain truth: there is no way to extricate us from the direction in which this is going. Don't you know who this is? I want to tell him. This is Vida. When it comes to shizz like this, she is nothing short of a dog with a bone.

And sure enough:

"You weren't?" she says. She mulls it over. "But you were in love."


"That must have been difficult," she says.

"Yeah. It was."

And then—finally—before she can ask the guy to explain in excruciating detail exactly how it feels to have one's still-beating heart ripped out of one's chest and stomped on in full view of friends and family, all while trying to protect his beloved son from the fallout, I think of an escape:

"Who wants a milkshake," I scream. "Does anyone want a milkshake? Let's get milkshakes! Milkshakes for everyone!"

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tivo: Tool of Satan

We got Tivo.

Damn it all to hell. (Bino notes that I'm cussing like a sailor of late. It must be the incessant rain)

Because if it weren't for Tivo, I wouldn't watch American Freaking Idol. Precious brainspace would not be taken up trying to figure out how Bucky made it into the top ten. Or Ace, for that matter. I wouldn't still be bitter about the untimely demise of that one Pinoy guy, Sway. I wouldn't constantly be thinking but the name Sway fits in so nicely with the names Bucky and Ace and wondering where it all went so very wrong. I wouldn't be wishing that someone would sing "Because the Night." Or "Brandy." Or "Unbreak My Heart." Or, or, or, or...

I hate Tivo.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Monday, March 27, 2006

Plus There's Paint In My Hair

If you have a pretty little picket fence installed (complete with an arbor over which glorious flowers will one day climb), to replace the giant hedges that used to front your property line, your landscape designer may inform you that it will cost approximately 45 gazillion dollars to paint it white. At this point, you and your spousal unit—thinking, undoubtedly, of upcoming property tax payments, preschool tuition, and whatnot—may look at each other and say, "We'll do it."

Your landscape designer may then say, "Really?! Okay. You just need to put on a coat of primer and then two coats of paint." And then you'll say, "Okay!"

On Sunday at about 10:00 am, you will bound out into the yard with all the enthusiasm of a puppy and begin to slather on the primer with an admirable abandon. At 11:00, both your technique and fervor will have peaked. At 12:00 you'll stop for lunch, occasionally staring with disdain at the partially painted fence. You'll notice that you're kinda sore from all the stooping, but you will keep a pleasant facade in place, if only to buck up the spirits of a spousal unit who, at 6'3", has a far more difficult time than you do with the stooping. You'll get back to work. At 3:00, your good-natured neighbor will pick up a paintbrush and help you. At 5:00, the three of you will look at each other and know that the end is nigh. At 5:30, the spousal unit will officially yell "Uncle." When you stand back to survey your work, you will see that barely half the fence is painted.

That evening the spousal unit will clean all the paintbrushes and store them neatly in the garage. And the next morning you will e-mail the landscape designer to let her know that 45 gazillion dollars is, after all, a steal.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Use Your Words

Little kids do not use the words, "fat," "skinny," "weird," etc. in the same (possibly) barbed and treacherous way used by us jaded and bitter adults. For the most part, kids are innocent of the baggage carried by these descriptors, and they utter them without intending ill will. But still, I think it's best not to let mine slip into the habit of using these sorts of easy adjectives.

I'm pretending it's for their own good, but I'm looking out for myself, too, for woe is the mother whose kids make potentially awkward or horrifying declarations while grocery shopping or lunching in a pleasant cafe. She is highly scorned, this mother, she is...bad. So in an effort to avoid migraine-inducing social situations and the possibility of being stoned in the public square, I recently performed my maternal sappy talk duty describing how the world is so bleeping fantastic because people come in all shapes and sizes, but how it's not always polite to refer to these shapes and sizes using words like —, —, —, and especially not —.

My coaching has produced mostly positive results, but it's sometimes difficult to communicate with our new word choices. Today, for example, Lea and I sat at a sidewalk table on Burlingame Ave. eating our breakfast, enjoying the sunshine, and chatting. She then looked at a woman who had passed by a few times and said, "Her name is Karen."

"It is? How do you know?"

"That man with the circle shape called her Karen," she said.

"Oh. What man with the circle shape?" I glanced around for a guy holding—I dunno—a hula hoop, maybe, or a t-shirt with a globe design on front or something.

She whispered conspiratorially. "The man with the circle shape, Mom."

"What's a 'circle shape'?"

"Mom! It's when you don't have a straight shape."


She was growing increasingly exasperated with my inability to understand what she was saying, so I was thankful when the guy showed up. "There!" she said. "The man with the circle shape getting into the silly car!"

The car was, indeed, silly: a taxi-cab yellow Hummer. And the gentleman was—duh!—rotund. "Oh. I get it," I said.

She sighed. "Finally."

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Toast... the old Pinoy working out at the gym.

Here's to your flowing white hair and your beer gut and your simple navy blue tank.

But most of all, here's to the brown velvet fedora you wore throughout, the one with the small yellow feather tucked into the band.

Manong, you rocked.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Monday Scattershoot

Well, whaddaya know? I found it! I've no doubt that Weez's clapping worked in tandem with Bino's prophesy to create the desired result. Not suprisingly, the edits were neither as brilliant nor as plentiful as I'd imagined. But still.


So everyone knows by now that there was a deep disturbance in the blogosphere. Once upon a time I would have thought it was a good idea to stick my nose in, but I have since learned that there's really no point. It's like that scene from Brother Bear where the two moose brothers stand above an echoing canyon yelling, "You shut up!" They are determined to have the last word, but of course they can't (because of, you know, the whole echo thing) and they end up collapsed on top of each other, exhausted and broken. What this description leaves out in terms of the blog happenings, though, is that actual people suffered needlessly because of incendiary remarks made by a few callous, deeply disturbed, and/or really horrible folks, and for that I have felt badly. I need one of those t-shirts that says, "Mean people suck."


Family Bookmaking Day at San Francisco Center for the Book was nothing but good. Vida, Risa, and Izzy made three books each, while Sunny and I tried to think of plausible excuses to spend the money it takes to enroll in a workshop. I can't think of one for myself (this small fact won't necessarily keep me from doing it, though!), but Sunny's photographs and BJ's "101 Words That Don't Quite Describe Me" would make, respectively, a gorgeous wall-mounted book (there were several on exhibit at the Center) and a brilliant broadside.

Sunny burned us a copy of The Sippy Cups' "Kids Rock for Peas," and R & V did indeed rock all the way home.


I just made some lazy biscuits, and dang they're good. I say "lazy" because I used Bisquick. But I replaced 1/4 cup of it with ground almonds, and instead of milk I used heavy cream. A little dollop of strawberry jam on top and the result is nothing short of 100% melt-in-your-mouthness.

That's all.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Well, If You Put It That Way

It's been a challenging two weeks here, what with the spousal unit gone for all but thirty-six hours (or so) of it. And while I have no room or cause to complain, it doesn't give me a free pass from feeling tired or overwhelmed or occasionally sprouting a head of snakes and letting loose a primal scream straight into my pillow. Fortunately, the man is coming home tonight, and I can already feel the pressure lifting.

Late this afternoon, though, I was thick in the funk of things. Lea asked to be lifted onto the kitchen counter, a request I complied with only after sighing with an exasperation even I—martyr of all martyrs—recognized as far too dramatic. So I lifted her up and was about to go on about my business when she said, "Wait. Stay here."

"What is it?"

"Put your nose here," she said, pointing to her own nose. So I did.


"I can see that you're tired. Tired of cooking and driving around and stuff."

"Yeah, I am. I'm tired."

"Well, don't worry," she whispered, giving me a hug. "You'll be dead soon."

Talk about a lightbulb-a-ha!-Holy-Mother-of-God moment. I laughed my ass off, I did.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


A few weeks back, I was sitting in various spots around the house and possibly in parking lots and bookstores, revising a story by hand. I can even see the blue ink in my puny mind's eye, the almost illegible scribbles, the arrows, the deletions, additions, and whatnot. As I recall—or maybe this is just wishful thinking—the revisions were purty dang good.

Well, I can't find the marked-up manuscript anywhere, and if you piece together the minutes here and there I have wasted looking for it today, I'm sure it adds up to hours. The worst part is that it's one of those things where I'm highly resistant to simply starting over again on the old version (which I have on my computer) because half of me is fucking annoyed and the other half is super fucking annoyed.

Bleck. You know? Just...bleck.

On the upside, my desk and files are now relatively organized. As are the piles of books and papers on my side of the bed. Piles of books and papers which I'm sure bug the living bejesus out of the spousal unit, but which he is quite good about simply ignoring.

And another good thing...playdate with Wily and Izzy at the San Francisco Center for the Book's Family Bookmaking Day on Saturday! Pictures, you ask? But of course.

Monday, March 13, 2006

How To Turn Your Mother Into An M&M Dispenser

For a few months now Lea has been addressing me as "M'lady." It goes like this:

Um, M'lady, I'm sure you'll say 'no,' but I was wondering, M'lady, if I could have some M&M's. Like about five M&M's, M'lady?

I don't know why she started, but I pretty much know she's not going to stop anytime soon.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Life In the Snack Shack

I spent much of last night and most of this day praying to The God of Rain. Oh God of Rain, I humbly beseech you: make it pour, make it pour. Please bathe the land in your tears so I won't have to work my mandatory shift at the "Snack Shack" for the youth softball association. Oh please oh please oh please.

Eventually, The God of Rain heard my prayers, but not until I had spent nearly two hours in the horrifying and loathsome Snack Shack. Not until I had poured ten pounds of nasty nacho cheese and "chili" over twenty pounds of tortilla chips. Not until I had fished several quarter-pound hot dogs out of the murk and into buns. Not until I had pulled dozens of corndogs from the freezer and microwaved them in the circa 1982 microwave. Not until I had asked "Um, regular or barbecue?" to twenty-five people who wanted sunflower seeds. Not until a weird lady with smeared eyeliner and hair akimbo approached the window five separate times and each time ordered only a .10 tootsie roll.

Because I love you I will not describe anything having to do with the clean-up portion of my Snack Shack shift. I will only say that...

...I am changed.

I am changed forever.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

One Sentence Liveblogging Rant

How many freaking times is Heidi Klum going to say (in her odd, automaton voice), "Only one of you can be the winner of Project Runway"?

Okay, two sentences:

How many times?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Blog Mystery

This question is for all you smarty pants-like folks who hover about here:

Why, when I attempt to visit the exalted Corn Shake blog, do my browsers (I've tried both Safari and Explorer) instantly add an "o" to the end of the URL, rendering it impossible for me to view the page? I see it just for a split second—in all its vermillion Corn Shake glory—before the "o" is automatically tacked on and I'm left with nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

*cue haunted house music*

I reset Safari at least once a day, so that's not it. Ideas?

Friday, March 03, 2006

*Wipes Sweat From Brow*

I have failed in nearly every way to ease Lea's entrance into preschool. This has been nowhere more obvious than in my stunning ability to ignore—time and time again since September, mind you—her squeaky requests for a playdate with gypsy-skirted A., she of the long, tangled red hair and beguiling freckles. Until recently, Lea adored this girl only from afar and had not been able to utter more than a whispered greeting on any given day. This made the possibility of an initial playdate a lot of work. Work which I, out of general laziness and selfishness, had very little interest in pursuing.

I do not know A.'s mom, so securing said playdate would require my striking up if not a friendship, than at least a few instances of casual conversation during which I showcased via a combination of wit and gentle humor, my trustworthiness, responsibility, and general goodness as a mother. I would also have to walk Lea up to A. several times to encourage the actual audible mouthing of the words, "Hi" and "Bye! See you on Wednesday!" I didn't do any of these things. Lea finally took matters into her own hands and asked her sisters for help in making a card for A. They did this happily, and Lea placed the declaration of love in A.'s cubby right before the Winter Break. An ecstatic celebration occurred when, a week later, Lea received a holiday card from A. delivered right to our mailbox.

All seemed well.


Except following the Break I did not take advantage of the leeway made during their mini epistolary lovefest. A.'s mom and I smiled at each other in passing, but I never ventured a word. She is one of the "new" moms who hangs in a gaggle of others who drop off their 3-year-olds and then stand around chatting while cradling newborns or holding a one-year-old on their hip. I, on the other hand, am a "senior" mom who wants nothing more than to make a clean getaway so as to squeeze as many childfree minutes out of the morning as possible.

Fast forward to last month. Though my negligence continued to produce tiny pangs of guilt, I felt pretty much in the clear in regards to A. Lea wasn't asking for a playdate as much anymore; perhaps the romance had worn off. But then.


While putting Lea to sleep one night, she burst quite suddenly into a flood of tears. "What's wrong? What's wrong?!" I said.

"This was the worst day evah! A. is D.'s friend and S.'s friend, but not mine. It's ovah!"

It's over. That just about killed me. She threw her arms around me and cried herself to sleep while I finally faced the facts: I had never managed to screw up motherhood this badly before.

The next day, I quickly got to work. I explained that in order to have a playdate with someone, you had to speak to them; you had to make friends. I coached her to look for conversational opportunities! I told her that people always like to hear nice things about their hair clips, tights, and ability to quickly change from the Snow White dress-up gown to the Sleeping Beauty dress-up gown! I told her that smiles make friends! She soaked in this priceless information and each day reported her progress. "I talked to A. today!" she'd say. And I'd say, "You did? What did you say?" And she'd say, "I don't know! I don't remember!"

Meanwhile, I started exchanging clever remarks with A.'s mom (a very nice and lovely person) in the cubby room. Things moved slowly but steadily until Lea delivered one more card: a drawing of a princess made with help from her babysitter and festooned with one of those leftover chalky Valentine hearts bearing the words, "So fine." That was Monday. And today? Today I can say with shaky confidence that Lea has finally made a friend.

Thank God.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Yes, That's Probably It

Vida's response when I mused aloud over why my brother and his kids have not arrived here at the house yet:

Maybe they took a wrong turn. Or perhaps there was a large gust of wind and it blowed their heads off.

The Exploding To Do List

I'm having one of those head-spinning weeks where all the different facets of my life are overlapping and confusing the living bujeebies outta me. There is Kindergarten tutoring, Latino outreach meetings and events, Lea's birthday party planning, various and sundry playdates, wrapping-up of our extensive landscaping project, my writing plus some copywriting work I just took on, and my brother and his three kids visiting from Oahu. And I really, really need to vacuum.

To top it all off, Risa and Vida have their first t-ball game of the season on Saturday and I can't find their dang gameday regulation shorts. Their team is the "Butterflies," by the by. And they'll be slugging it out with the "Caterpillars." Are you scared that I will post pictures? Well, you should be. You should be very, very scared.