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.

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:


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.

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:

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:

Which means that Sam the Eagle is the most punk Muppet.

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.

She Was Not Comfortable

Am I the only one who thinks Reese Witherspoon’s recent arrest is completely adorable? I know, I know, DUIs are awful and there’s no excuse for getting arrested and being a dangerous idiot. But the way she apparently just jumped out of her car Elle Woods-style and all drunkenly defended her hubby? And even dropped the “Do you know who I am?” line? I kind of love it. I always admire a woman who can make a little bit of a scene. For example:

That’s my girl.

Don’t let the medical equipment and hospital bracelet worry you – she just had to have some follow-up allergy testing and is totally fine. But you wouldn’t know it by the way she was acting. By the time I took this picture, she had endured innumerable horrifying indignities, including: watching cartoons in the waiting room for 20 minutes; eating her favorite lollipops by the pound for most of the morning; and having a sweet, bubbly nurse draw three small purple marks on her forearm. OH THE HUMANITY.

After the nurse left us alone in the room for a few minutes, I asked my daughter how she was doing and, no hesitation, she yelled: “I am VERY UNCOMFORTABLE!” I asked her if something hurt, and she said no, she was just VERY UNCOMFORTABLE. And that became her mantra for the rest of the appointment. She told everyone she saw – the nurses, the receptionist, other little preschool patients who looked completely freaked out by her antics – that she was VERY UNCOMFORTABLE. And if she had known the words, I think she might have have followed up with “…and I’m PISSED that I’m here, and all y’all are lucky I’m only 3 feet tall because otherwise my sparkly little shoe would be up your fat ass.”

I was genuinely concerned that she wasn’t feeling great. But mostly I could not take her seriously at all because (a) her t-shirt has a picture of a dog wearing a tiara on it, and (b) …well, that’s pretty much it. I know I certainly never expected clients to take me seriously when I walked into a conference room sporting my “cat wearing stripper shoes” t-shirt.

Since my daughter was little, people have regularly commented on how “expressive” she is. When she was an infant that was clearly a euphemism for, “Holy shit, she has a lot of lungs.” But now that she’s older, I think it just means that, if you are within earshot, you will know exactly how she feels. At all times. Whether you want to or not.

I hope she is always this expressive, and that she always has a little scene-making potential in her. Probably because the only times in my life that I have made a scene were completely unintentional. For example, the first time I rode the metro in DC, I actually got on a crowded car at rush hour, made eye contact with the people standing around me, and SAID HELLO. I wish I was kidding. Coming from the Midwest, the idea of not saying hello to your fellow commuters was akin to punching them in the privates. And from my fellow commuters’ reactions that morning, I might as well have drop kicked some ball sacks. People glared at me and scooted as far away as possible, like I smelled really bad. I did not smell bad, and I was devastated. It took a solid week of commuting on the metro to scare that Midwestern politeness right out of me. Also, fuck you.

So I guess I’m saying: my wish for my daughter is may she always express herself loudly and be comfortable making a little bit of a fool of herself without worrying too much about the consequences. That is like a beautiful Hallmark card, isn’t it. And the footnote on that Hallmark card will say, “And may you also have your Hollywood A-list status and Oscar to fall back on.” Next to this cute little picture:

He Sings in Those Truck Commercials

This is my favorite news story of the day. I have many questions:

1. What the hell did this woman’s friends and family – who I assume had been waiting patiently for her to wake up – think when her first words were, “I want to go to a Bob Seger concert.” Maybe they are all better people than me (I mean, odds are good), but I would be PISSED. “Hey, grandma, you know who came to check on you and worried about you constantly during your half-decade long coma? Let me give you a hint: it was NOT BOB SEGER. So how about a little shout out when you wake up.”

2. What the hell did Bob Seger think when a nursing home called him and said, “Bob, you’ll never believe this, a 69-year-old woman who was in a coma for five years has one request: to see you in concert.” I could see him thinking (a) “Oh my god, the only people who want to see my shows are in comas.” OR (b) “That is one bad ass grandma and I want her to be my oldest groupie.” Because all musicians think about groupies constantly, right? I would. Anyways, the correct answer: (c) “If only I still had my long, flowing hair and blunt bangs from my youth, I bet I’d be getting phone calls from ladies who are not in nursing homes and/or comas right about now.”


3. Who the hell is Bob Seger. I am sorry, but white male musicians from the 70s and 80s kind of blur together for me. For example, when I found some pictures of Bob Seger, I thought he could be Kenny Rogers, Jerry Garcia, that Metallica dude, any of the Allman Brothers, or the Unabomber. (I know the Unabomber was probably not a musician but one of the pictures of Bob Seger looked a little angry and militant.) Because I am not exactly sure who Bob Seger is, when I first read the headline for this story I thought the woman had requested to see Bob SAGET, which I would totally get, because I was obsessed with America’s Funniest Home Videos when I was younger. Here is a clip of Bob Saget with his flowing, feathered hair and elephant-sized shoulder pads doing his best prop jokes and hosting magic:

I am not sure, but I think he could kick Bob Seger’s ass, or at least run away from him. And if I was in a coma and could choose between seeing Bob Saget host America’s Funniest Home Videos from the early ‘90s or seeing Bob Seger do…whatever he does in concert, clearly, Saget wins.

4. Also, America’s Funniest Videos still makes me fall off the couch laughing, because look at this.

Something about that girl running mummy-style in her fancy little dress and screaming her curly-haired head off just kills me. Interesting sidenote: when I showed my kids this video, they did not think it was funny. Like, at all. My son said, “Why are you laughing at that girl crying? She wants her mom! Where is her mom?” I mean, I guess that’s another way to look at it.

Anyways, I hope that woman enjoyed her Bob Seger concert and that she got her family members some awesome souvenirs. Because if she wants anyone by her bedside the next time she (heaven forbid) slips into a coma, she better start buttering them up now.