At Least I Am Not 2-D

I like to greet beautiful spring days with my middle finger and sleep lines on my face (or “slinkles,” as my sister brilliantly calls them), so as usual, I was a little grouchy when I woke up this morning. I wandered downstairs and was fumbling around to make coffee when this happened:
J: “Mom, if L is her stuffed animal’s mom, then what am I?”
Me: “Um, if she’s the mom, and you’re her brother, I guess that would make you the uncle.”
J: [Running out of the kitchen] “Hey, I’ll be the monkey’s uncle!”
L: “OK, you are the monkey’s uncle!”

Good-bye, grouchy.

But as with most things in my life, even normal, funny moments have an undercurrent of panic. In about two seconds I go from, “Monkey’s uncle, ha ha,” to “Wow, my kids love their stuffed animals,” to “You know, they have a lot of stuffed animals,” to “OH DEAR GOD, my son is going to be one of those Japanese dudes who marries a pillow.”
Man marries cushion

And although I like to think of myself as open minded, I would not be OK with a pillow daughter-in-law, even if she has a really high thread count and is filled with luxurious down. Mother- and daughter-in-law relationships are complicated enough without one of the parties being an inanimate object.

Which reminds me of a time I got some attitude from my mother-in-law.

So my husband is Chinese and I’m not. When we were planning our wedding, our main goals were (1) keep things super low key, and (2) don’t piss off any family members. As part of goal #2, we talked with my husband’s family and decided to have our rehearsal dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Easy, I thought; I’ll just look cute and show up to eat some good food (which, by the way, pretty much set the tone for my marriage). My white girl self found a new outfit at Anthropologie that included a sweater and (oh no) pants. I got dressed at the hotel where we were staying for the night, took the elevator down to the lobby, and was greeted by my mother-in-law – who was wearing a beautiful, traditional Chinese dress. And she took one look at my sweater and pants, and said this to me in front of all the family who was waiting: “Are you going to go back upstairs and change?”

I did a quick inventory of the available clothes in my room: trashy lingerie pajamas and my wedding gown.

I mumbled, “Uh, no, this is what I’m wearing.”

“But you are wearing pants,” she said.

“Yes,” I confirmed.

She looked like she wanted to kick me right in my pants. But she didn’t. And there was booze at the rehearsal dinner, so my embarrassment didn’t last for long. Ten years later, my mother-in-law snarking at me so openly is one of my favorite wedding memories. Because, really, what did she have to complain about? My outfit was awesome, her son was happy, and I was not a life-sized anime character pillow.

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Don’t Bug Me

The pending east coast cicada invasion is, of course, scaring the living shit out of me, no thanks to extremely graphic articles like this one in yesterday’s Washington Post. Here is a lovely image to keep in mind while you read:

Cicada

The WaPo writer actually uses the words “plump, brown creature” and “wriggling hull” in his first sentence, and it only gets worse from there. He describes how cicadas burrow into trees and feed on their sap, vampire-style, and then emerge every 17 years to “sing, mate and reproduce, in a six-week frenzy…”. All in my freaking backyard oh sweet Jesus. But good news, everyone! Apparently the cicadas don’t sting or bite, and they have a “grotesque beauty about them, with red eyes and orange wing veins.” If I ever say that the upside of something is that it won’t hurt me and has red eyes and orange wing veins, please call for help. Also, there is some discussion of “bug carcasses piling up.” And then a quote from a guy about how awesome this is going to be and how we should really welcome this, because nature!

All I know is that for six weeks of the summer, large bugs are going to swarm my yard, and my insect- and outdoors-obsessed children are going to want to make sculptures and jewelry out of their crunchy brown carcasses, and I am going to have to act like it is a beautiful natural event so that I don’t pass my fears on to them, and then I am going to go lock myself in a closet at night and probably have the biggest fit of the willies on record. So I’m sorry, nature guy at WaPo, I am not welcoming this event.

Really, though, his article was very informative. Perhaps I have some bug issues to deal with.

Shockingly, however, that graphic cicada article was not the most disturbing news story I read yesterday. It was this one. Why yes, that is an article about a painting of Dorothy from Golden Girls with her hair did and her boobs out. I can’t bring myself to post the full picture here.

I get that this is a provocative statement from some controversial artist. And I guess he’s commenting on women, and aging, and feminism, and the painting has become some weird flashpoint for art critics.

But I am fixated on this little fact: Bea Arthur never actually sat for this portrait, which means the artist came up with it all on his own. How does that happen? Was he sitting at lunch with a friend one day, and his mind wandered to Bea Arthur’s boobies? Or perhaps lying in bed, going over his to-do list for the next day in his mind, he thought, “I wonder how much people would freak out if I painted Bea Arthur topless?”

Another interesting fact: the painting just sold at auction for $1.9 million, which some weirdos experts in the art world are saying is a bargain. I am pretty sure that if I had an extra million or two lying around, I would not buy this painting. Or any painting, really. Instead, I would buy the world’s largest bug netting and wrap my house. Or take a six week trip somewhere far, far away from the humming, frenzied cicadas that, as I type this, are slowly waking from their 17-year slumber in the barks of my trees.

And now I have the willies.

Happy Mama’s Day

Get ready for your new earwig. My husband has nearly redeemed his musical tastes with this video. One of his FB friends posted it (thanks, dude) and he showed it to me, and it almost made me forget that he occasionally listens to Ke$sha on full blast.

Is that amazing or WHAT? These are two Icelandic musicians from Of Monsters and Men, and the singer’s name is Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir. Nanna’s voice is haunting and childlike and makes that already solid MGMT song even better. Also, Icelandic is super complicated sounding. From my rudimentary understanding of the language, her name means she is the daughter of Hilmar, who is a blonde banana farmer. Which is weird because I did not know Iceland had many banana farms, but global warming? Probably.

Nanna’s sassy Amish bowler hat reminded me of a former musical obsession.
DebbieGibson

In junior high English class we had to write an essay about someone we admired and then present it to the class. I didn’t even have to think about it; OBVIOUSLY, I would write about Debbie Gibson. Because did you know she wrote her own songs, and performed live at all of her shows? This is particularly impressive, given the complexity of her lyrics (such as “Shake your love, I just can’t shake your love, shake your love, shake it!”), and the fact that she was a pretty crappy singer.

We kept our topics a secret from each other before our presentations, as if we were giving out highly competitive awards. So imagine how ridiculous I felt when I discovered that I was almost the only kid who did not write about my mom. Probably 90% of my classmates wrote about how great their moms were, a couple boys wrote about professional athletes, and I wrote about a teenage pop singer who wore neon jelly bracelets and oversized menswear while singing lame girly songs in mall food courts.

It wasn’t that I just didn’t write about admiring my mom that made me feel so awful – it was that the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. I just knew that my classmates would go home and share their essays with their moms, who would weep with joy and lead more fulfilled lives knowing how much their children loved and admired them. And my mom would take one look at my essay and realize she was raising a borderline-obsessive nutjob. So I did not share my essay with her. I think the wall of Debbie Gibson posters and the Electric Youth perfume I bathed in daily gave her a pretty good idea of the depth of my feelings.

So now I think about Debbie Gibson when my kids don’t even seem to notice that I’m in the room, or when they don’t have any clue about the nine million things I do for them every day. Another mom told me once that you want your kids to take you for granted, to know that your love is there all the time, and to know you’re dependable and will be there when they need you, because otherwise they’ll be insecure and constantly jockey for your attention.

I get that now, and I think I learned that lesson from my mom. She had done such a good job of always being there that it freed me up to devote my admiration to superstars like Debbie Gibson. My mom’s love and support was something I wasn’t even consciously aware of — it was just constant and always there, and I could (and did) totally take it for granted. In fact, I bet if I had shown her my essay she would have been proud of me, or at least said she was. That’s what I tell myself to not feel like a complete ass, anyways.

So happy (early) Mother’s Day to my mom, who I admire for many reasons, but especially for letting me be my slightly weird self all the time and loving me in spite of it. Maybe even because of it.

Do You Feel Lucky, Punk?

I haven’t posted for a few days because I’ve been very busy preparing myself for the Costume Institute Gala at the Met. In case you have been following actual news instead of celebrity “newz,” here are the details in a nutshell: every year a bunch of famous, beautiful people get dressed up in couture gowns and prance around on a red carpet at the Met in NYC so that people can take pictures of them. I have no idea what the point of it is. There is usually a theme, something like “Celebrating Self Absorption and Conspicuous Consumption.” This year’s theme was “PUNK: From Chaos to Couture.” Other than nose rings and mohawks, I don’t really know what that means, and apparently neither did Zooey Deschanel, because look:
Zooey

That is her from the gala. She looks adorable, but I don’t think there’s much punk going on there. Instead of screaming, “I’m a bad ass who lives to defy society’s rules!” her seersucker dress politely announces, “I’m off for tea and scones with Barbara Bush. The older one.” But she probably didn’t have time to put much thought into her outfit, what with being the Boston bomber and all.

Also, I don’t know if her Tory Burch evening gown could possibly qualify as punk, but I’m sure that Ginnifer “With a G” Goodwin’s eyebrows are totally punk:
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Which means that Sam the Eagle is the most punk Muppet.
Eagle

Speaking of birds, a very small chicken pooped on me recently. I was chaperoning my daughter’s preschool trip to a farm, and one thing led to another, you know how it goes. I only mention this to say that, months ago, when I was dreaming about being at home with my kids, at no point did I imagine any scenario that involved having poop on me. When I told my husband this story, do you know what he said? Not “Oh no, that’s gross,” or, “Well, that’s wonderful that you were able to help on the field trip.” He said, “Do you think you have bird flu?” What am I supposed to say to that? The only right answer I could give is I don’t know, since I am not officially a doctor. So then a few days later, when the kids and I came down with totally normal colds, all I could think of was that fluffy little asshole chick pooping on me and cursing my children and me with the avian flu.

Luckily, we are all fine. I mean, except for the hypochondria.