Friday, May 27, 2016

#IHateMom


Sunday mornings.  What is it about Sunday mornings that trigger the volcano of emotions that erupt from young Purvis?  A few Sundays ago, she was moved to write multiple copies of a note on scrap paper: I Hate Mom.  Previously she had written two notes in quick succession:  No Mama I Hat (sic) you. Love, Purvis then I Love you.  Love, Purvis. 

No “Love, Purvis” this time, just straight up hate.  This Sunday I was treated to a more elaborate variation on the I Hate Mom theme.  It’s becoming its own hashtag: #MomHate or #IhateSundayMoms.

Some background. 

I woke early Sunday and, after some mild insomnia, moved to the couch, my magical get-back-to-sleep place.  What felt like a few minutes after I finally fell back asleep, I heard the banging. 

Most Saturdays and Sundays Purvis signals that she is awake and ready for action by banging on the wall.  Josh says she starts out quiet.  “But you never hear that because you sleep with a pillow on your head.”

True.  I gotta be me.  And me needs a pillow squashed atop her noggin to sleep.

Most Sundays if the hour is near 7:00 a.m., I pull myself out of bed and go to the young lady’s room before her calls get too angry and urgent and we often have a sweet, giggly early morning snuggle before getting on with the ritual making of pancakes and drinking of coffee.  How I miss the days when it was the pitter-patter of her feet and the whooshing of our bedroom door that woke me.  The wall-banging and barked, “Mommy, get in here!” is no replacement.  I’m not sure what turned her from a toddler ready to burst into her parents’ room to wake them up and a kid unwilling to leave her bedroom solo, but I hope it wasn’t a fear I implanted.  I already regret my talk to Purvis about sneaker waves.  The young lady will go no closer to the Pacific Ocean than sand dunes for fear of getting washed out to sea. 

This Sunday in my half-asleep fog I crafted a “strategy” to deal with her calls.  Maybe we can get her to come to us once and for all.  I’ll let her know that I’m out on the couch, feet away from her bedroom door.  This time she can come to me.  Plus the thought of lifting myself from the couch sounded like hauling bricks across a football field.  The blankets were so cozy and warm. 

“I’m out here, honey.  Come snuggle with me on the couch.”  I called.

“Noooo!”  From the angry urgency in her voice, I could tell I’d missed a few steps on her way from just-awake wall taps and all-out Sunday morning battle cries.

“I’m not getting up,” I called and pulled the pillow tighter on my head.

“Mommy!  Get in here NOWWWWW!”

She did finally emerge from her bedroom to tell me that I needed to get in her room now and the couch was too small to snuggle and finally, I was stupid.

“This is your last warning, you know you aren’t supposed to say that word.”

“You’re the stupidest,” she spat.

“Okay. That’s it.  You lost your treat.”

She started to wail.  “Noooo!  I want my treat!”  Josh emerged from the bedroom to carry her kicking and screaming back to her room.  He then returned to bed enveloped in a cloud of pissed-off. 

“What a great way to start the day,” I muttered.  I hauled myself off the couch and went to her room, curling up in her bed and inviting her back in bed with me to snuggle.  A Sunday morning do-over.  She was having none of it.  She begged for her treat back. 

“No, sweetie.  That’s not happening,” I said. 

Then, admittedly, I laid it on too thick.  “I’m not sure why you thought losing your treat on a Sunday when Gammie is in town was a good idea.  I guess we can’t go get ice cream.”

Her wailing intensified.  “I want ice cream!!!”

Ugh.  I was feeling pissed off myself, my plans of afternoon tea and tarts at Pix now dead unless I wanted to backpedal on the treat loss.  And I did not.  She really needs to stop calling us stupid or her new go-to “the stupidest.”  But I should probably have left well enough alone.  Let the loss of the holy grail of treats, the weekend treat while Gammie is in town, be enough of a punishment. 

Needless to say, no snuggling was to be had this Sunday. 

We reluctantly charged into the morning, hope eternal that the day would improve.  That I would shed my title as “the stupidest” with due haste.

Breakfast went relatively smoothly except that Gammie didn’t make it in time to eat with the rest of the family.

“Why is she not here yet?”

“Because she likes to sleep in late.  Don’t worry, she’ll be here soon.”

And she was, happily munching her blueberry pancakes when Purvis spiraled back into anger. The source: my confirmation that no matter what she did, the treat was gone.  “That’s not how it works,” I said.

She ran to her room, slammed the door then soon emerged with a sign she handed to me: I hate you Mom.

“Okay,” I said.  “I’m sorry you feel that way.  Can you not use the good paper when you write this?”

She stormed back to her room and remained for a few minutes.  Then she returned to the living room, her disdainful chin in the air.  “I want you to come see something.”

“Are there more signs about how you hate me? Because I don’t really like looking at those.  They hurt my feelings.”

“Please come in here,” she said, conjuring her most polite voice.

I followed her.  Her bed was covered in signs.  A long banner of five pieces of paper taped together lengthwise read I HATE MOM.  She gave me a tour of the other signs, her reasons for hating me (misspellings preserved):

·      Is stikey (translator’s note: stinky)
·      Duz not play with me
·      Razes her vows (t/n: raises her voice)
·      Duz not bie me stuff (t/n: does not buy me stuff, specifically the hot pink shorts she picked out at the Columbia Store, which she would never in a million years actually wear outside the dressing room)
·      Is mene (t/n: mean)
·      Likes to take stuff away

That about sums it up.  She did soften while I was in the room and crossed out the banner by laying a gray shoelace atop her sign.  I HATE MOM.  But she looked up at me with sympathy like, sorry friend, the rest is still true.

I defended myself.  “Oh, I never buy you stuff like the tickets to the symphony that we’re going to see today.  And the hat you liked at the Columbia Store.”

She was unmoved.

“I play with you all the time.”  I added.  Although I couldn’t come up with a specific instance of playing since our lives together are one big game of pretend.  Aren’t I Minerva McGonagall?

She did have a point—I do take stuff away.  I can’t speak to the stinky part although I do bathe more than she does.  And I always use soap.  (So there.) 

The day did improve.  It became clear that her behavior was coming from somewhere.  She was tired from staying up late the previous night, a little mad at us for going out without her, and sad that Gammie was leaving the next day. 

I am glad that she is able to express herself, that she doesn’t let the emotions fester inside of her.  Sure, she may be displacing (or misplacing) her sadness at one thing, i.e. her beloved grandmother departing after a short visit, onto another, i.e. moi, but at least it’s not eating an ulcer in her stomach.  Her kindergarten teacher’s words came to mind, “You don’t have to wonder how Purvis is feeling.”  Nope, not at all. 

Sunday night as we were cleaning up dinner, she carried the crumpled up remains of the signs to the dining room, made sure I was watching, then dumped them in the recycling box. 

“You don’t hate me anymore?”

“No, Mom.  I love you.”

“I love you too, sweetie.”

As soon as she rounded the corner, I fished them out, ironed them with my hand and added them to my stash of Purvis art.  I may need to start an “I hate mom” folder to go with my hashtag. 




Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The First World Problem Club



The day I joined the neighborhood bulletin board/forum/listserv, NextDoor.com at the suggestion of a fellow Clinton-Division resident, I posted to my first thread.  Garbage pick-up early in the morning caused Suzanne in Creston-Kenilworth distress.  Amen, sister! 

Ever since the food cart pod opened across the street, early morning garbage pick-up with the trucks beeping reverse into the lot then the loud thump and clang of the dumpster mixed with the tinkling crash of broken glass falling into the back of the recycling truck, has become a fact of life.  Sometimes I wake at 4:00 a.m. wondering if I’ll be able to get back to sleep before my alarm sounds at 5:00.  Other times it’s 3:30 a.m. on a Sunday and the propane delivery truck is pumping gas into one of the carts on our street.  Nothing sends me from 0 to super pissed like interrupting my sleep.  (Ask my daughter who has witnessed some of my lowest moments in parenting when she woke me in the middle of the night.)  Admittedly I have gotten used to the noise.  It still wakes me but I don’t lay in bed stewing about the goddamn motherfucking food cart pod like I once did.  I rouse, think “fuck the gas man” then fall back into my recurring nightmare that we sold our house and are desperately searching for housing in the impossible Portland rental market.  After limited success with getting the loud live music quashed at the pod, I had all but given up on ending the early morning-middle-of-the-night noise.  Until Suzanne in Creston-Kenilworth flicked her sweet lighter beacon of complaint and I found my people. 

I am not alone spitting complaints into the dark while my husband asks sleepily, “Are you going to do something about it?”

Today my answer is a definite maybe.  A short and to-the-point email to the food cart pod powers-that-be squats in my drafts folder.  Not the run-on half-quoting of city regulations that is my norm, but a simple request that the food cart landlord ask the garbage haulers to hue more closely to the residential pick-up hours.

With each notification of another comment to the thread, I felt fortified, understood, heard. 

Then this post landed in my inbox.  Mandy* from Brooklyn writes, “Ummm three words for this issue: First.  World.  Problems.”

Well, aren’t you above it all, Mandy. 

If you think about it, NextDoor.com should be subtitled A Place to Discuss First World Problems.  Even though this is not my first trip around the internets, I felt a little stung.  Hurt even.  Pissed definitely.  I can understand how a person could think that.  I read other threads on the site that didn’t exactly jibe with my point of view, but instead of typing words onto a screen and clicking “Post” I opted to different-strokes-for-different-folks it and move along with my life. 

Then Thomas* from Foster-Powell chimed in: “Wow, can’t believe this is actually an issue for people.”

Now, Thomas, do you sit before your glowing screen in disbelief because you can’t understand how the trash haulers would be so insensitive as to not understand that the loud thump of dumpsters crashing to the ground in the wee hours of the morning would wake sleeping residents?  Or are you a card-carrying member of the First World Problems Club? 

People continued to post, to commiserate, to ignore Mandy and Thomas.  But Thomas just couldn’t let it go: “It’s all just a part of living in a city.  Cities are loud.  Deal with it.” 

As Abraham Lincoln once wrote (if brainyquote.com is to be believed): Better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.  That goes for you, Thomas. 

Grayed out below the posts are the “like” equivalent of NextDoor.com.  The thank.  Heather thanked Thomas.  Thomas thanked Cindy.  I imagined the three of them, the First World Problems Club, rolling their eyes at their silly neighbors and their frivolous complaints. 

“Get a load of Susan in Creston-Kenilworth.  Her Christmas lights won’t light and she’s asking for help.”

“First world problem!” They blurt in unison.

“What about Rich in Hawthorne complaining about fireworks.  Sheesh.”

“Doesn’t he know that we live in a city!  Fireworks can erupt at any time.  Even midnight in the middle of December.” Thomas snorts.

“First world problem!” 

My stewing about the many inconveniences the food cart pod has brought into my life was temporarily replaced with stewing about people complaint-policing the neighborhood website.  Can’t we all just get along on the internet?  Accept that we all have different brands of itches that need scratching and when someone else’s itch is different from ours, go along our merry way without trying to shame them. 

My policy on internet commenting is threefold:
1.              Never read the comments.
2.              If you read the comments and feel possessed to respond angrily, type away.  Let the hate flow through you and explode in a hundred angry characters on the screen.
3.              Delete that which you typed and see number 1.

I got very first world in dealing with my feelings about the First World Problems Club.  I posted about it on Facebook.  I felt relieved when a few people “liked” my post.  A friend who has lived all over the world and was a member of the Peace Corps noted that “self-righteousness is the worst first world problem there is.”  Amen, Christy!

As Elsa forever urges, I have let it go.  But not without typing up my angry response to the First World Problem Club:

To those who do not see the problem with early morning noise interrupting residents’ sleep: I invite you to use your first-world technologies to remove yourself from this thread and then use the extra time you would otherwise spend shaming your neighbors for perceiving a problem where you see none to bask in the glory of your self-righteousness. 

And then I hit delete.


* Names have been changed to protect the mostly innocent.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cutie Baby

In an attempt to curb parental name-calling, Purvis* has adopted, “Awww, you’re such a cutie baby,” as her go-to instead of “stupid mommy/daddy” after we make what is, in her humble view, a bad parenting choice.

As I drove her home from her acrobatics class last weekend I attempted clarification. “Sweetie, are you saying ‘cutie baby’ to be nice or mean?”

“Nice,” she said indignantly.

“Are you sure? Because calling someone a baby isn’t usually a very nice thing to say.”

On the playground, them’s fightin' words.

“No, it’s nice,” she said. “Like I’m your mommy and you’re my sweet baby.”

Mais non!  I would never call my mommy stupid!
“Oh. Okay.”

I half-buy her reasoning. Sometimes she does say it out of the blue in a I-can’t-fight-this-feeling-anymore burst of love. “Oh Mama, I love you. You’re such a cutie baby.”

Other times she says it like she’s barely holding back a “stupid.” “Mama, you’re such a….cutie baby.”

If it keeps me from having to think of new punishments and escalating the situation, I’ll take cutie baby anytime.

Saturday morning things turned ugly. She called us stupid. She yelled. She stamped her feet. She punched Josh’s leg. I have no recollection of the outrages that we perpetrated to inspire such behavior but I suspect it had to do with asking her to get dressed for her acro class. Outrageous! In the course of that terrible 10 minutes she lost her treats through Tuesday, including her more deluxe weekend treats. Weekday treats are things like fig newtons and peanut butter-filled pretzels. No biggie. Weekend treats include candy from her Halloween stash, a muffin from the bakery, and, on special weekends, ice cream.

I stopped myself from piling on the disappointment, my voice dripping with faux-concern. Oh honey, but those are the good treats you just lost. I feel sorry for you. A victory for parenting, a loss for passive-aggressive family dynamics.

After the treat withdrawal didn’t net any change in behavior, I went for the toys. She lost her newly beloved plastic horse, then the orange recorder she tootles around the house spreading headaches and delight, then her “tape privileges” for a week. Indeed scotch taping things is a privilege in this house, g-ddamnit! Then I had to go for the big guns—her Legos and the big box o’ plastic princesses.

After each sanction we offered her an out. “I know you’re upset. Do you want to go to your room and calm down?” We asked.

“No! Stupid Mommy!”

Finally, after I carted the princesses off to my office, the island of lost toys and tape dispensers, she took us up on our cool-down offer. She ran to her room, slammed the door shut, and yelled at the top of her lungs, “I HATE MY MOMMY AND DADDY!!!!”

“At least she didn’t say it to our faces,” Josh said.

“Yeah, that’s some improvement.”

Then we shared our third what-the-eff-got-into-her look of the day and hovered near her door.

We didn’t rush in to correct her or tell her how it hurts our feelings when she yells that she hates us. It’s okay for her to feel her feelings, to occasionally hate her mommy and daddy. We draw the line at calling us names—Stupid Mommy, Mean Mommy, Stink—unless that name is a growled “cutie baby.”

* Purvis is my daughter's nom de blog so that she may one day be able to google herself free of a list of embarrassing baby stories.   

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Putting the Boot in Reboot

Hello members of the fellowship of Crud. It’s been a while. Too long of a while. So long that I am grateful—or rueful—that my blog entries are dated so I can see just how long it has been. I’d like to say that I have been metamorphosing in some creative chrysalis state. (I always loved the word chrysalis as it conjured images of the shard womb of Krypton. Or for you fellow parents of children between the age of 3 and 10: Elsa’s ice palace.)

But really it’s been more of a state of wonder. I wonder if I should keep plugging away at this blog? What of this writing so-called career of mine? Has the time come to put some of the 500 pages (!!!) of writing I have done about the early years of my daughter’s life into the world? Release this boogery butterfly and let her flap her wiggly wings?

The answer to at least one of those questions is yes. Actually to two of those questions: yes. The part about my writing career is yet to be determined but there is at least one exciting development—to be announced at a sooner later date—that is leading me to all of this yes.

So join me in my yay-saying and enjoy the coming soon excerpt from the continuing saga of the blog-that-never-was, The Purvis Chronicles. After I hit 200 pages in the Chronicles, it seemed a bit crazy to go back and start my mommy blog, especially after swearing that I would never write a mommy blog. That niche has been effectively filled a hundred times over. Motherhood can’t help but make an appearance in this Crudbucket reboot but I also hope to find something to say about long in the tooth wrestlers, the world of yoga and cycling, and to get disproportionately outraged about how many nice restaurants are now in my neighborhood. (Hey hipsters and retirees from California, get offa my lawn!) You know, just like the good crud you’ve come to expect.

Don't be surprised if you see the design morph over the coming weeks. I am toying with different templates, trying to step into the 2010-s with the main goal of readability. And, if you can tell from this current iteration, making things as orange as possible.

Please join me as I get the hell outta this ice palace. I promise not to make you wait 4 more years until I actually post a post. Maybe 4 days.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Cruddy Summer Vacation 2011: Family Staycation* Edition

(* I dislike the term staycation for reasons I can’t quite articulate. Maybe it’s the cutesy Brangelina-ness of the word combo or the implication that one is slumming because they are deigning to not travel the world this year. The economy, you know. But repeated use of stay-at-home vacation feels more like I am standing in an empty room trying to avoid eye contact with staycation while she raises a knowing eyebrow. You win, staycation.)



Mr. Crud and I spent a good part of our winter and spring in search of vacation ideas that fit one main criteria: they would actually be relaxing. Vacationing with an 18-month-old Purvis is the complicating factor. If we went out of town to a sweet cabin in the gorge would we be setting ourselves up for a heart attack-y time chasing her around a new set of hazards? How about child-proofing? Visions of uncovered electrical outlets and steep spiral staircases danced in my head. And sleep. Oh sleep. Last year our foray to Illinois to visit Mr. Crud’s parents marked the beginning of two sleepless months as Purvis’ once trusty sleep schedule was thrown into turmoil. I won’t even mention the slowly deflating air mattress that made our first night chez in-laws into a total hell. Well, I did mention it. Guess I’m still bitter about that one.

The coast? Nope. The tsunami in Japan and my subsequent research on the tsunami-unreadiness of our usual coastal haunts struck this option from the list. After an inventory of ways that the coastal areas are doomed should a tsunami strike, the articles shrug their shoulders: eh, good luck even though your doomed, coastal residents and unlucky visitors. Please, Cannon Beach, build that City Hall on stilts so that I can at least entertain the possibility of visiting your fine hamlet again.

The mountains? We’re not really nature people and minimizing Purvis’ and our chances of falling off something high and cliff-like ranks high on my list of to-do-s.

Family visit? Travelling with Purvis when she couldn’t walk was a challenge. I’m not ready to contemplate the new airplane reality with the up-and-at-em Purvis. More than toys and pizza, she loves running from kitchen to dining room, dragging her baby dolls and blankets. We plan to keep air travel to a minimum until she is old enough to plug into episodes of Dora or whatever is hip with the toddlers.

Then there is the trailer’s worth of baby crap we would have to haul to our destination and the promise of awkward diaper changes and backs sore from schlepping all of it. One of my yoga pals told me about a teacher who took her 1-year-old to India. “So you really can go anywhere with a baby. She doesn’t have to limit you.” So true. My fears and worries do a fine job of that, thank you very much.

So staycation it was.

We swore that we would not let the days slip away from us as in the past. I would skip my morning yoga routine (which to my chagrin seems to have f-ed up my back more than it was before somehow), we would eat out as we wished, and we would see the parts of Portland we normally take for granted. Staycation: here we come!

Magazines read:
No sweet junk food US Weekly, People, and abusive boyfriend O: The Oprah Magazine for me, an oversight on my part. Just the regular magazine subscriptions.

Yoga Journal
How I used to anticipate the arrival of a new YJ. Each page burst with promise of enlightenment and alignment tips. But in the last year I have soured on YJ. In part because it feels like I am reading the same issue over and over again. And maybe its more frustration with my own yoga practice and monkey mind than the contents of the magazine that is harshing my mellow. I am annoyed by the increasing page count full of shameless endorsement of expensive body lotions and shawl wraps with yoga-ey names and the appearance of celebrity yogis dispensing words of overly simplistic wisdom while they direct their personal chef to make the latest aruyvedic curry. We may soon part ways, dear Yoga Journal, but I will never forget the good times. Namaste.

Real Simple
So why does shameless product endorsement in YJ stick in my craw while I don’t bat an eye at pages and pages of “Things to Try This Month” in RS. Good question. I subscribe to RS not so much for the lifestyle tips as the recipes. Plus it’s easy to digest while on the can.

New Yorker
Gone are the days when I read the NY from front to back. Now I am lucky if I complete a Talk of the Town piece. Guess this is what happens when most magazine reading time is relegated to the bathroom. Maybe I should put down the Real Simple.

Madison: The James Madison University Alumni Magazine
Who wed, who died, and who bred sums up my skim of my alumni magazine. I wonder if I’ll ever have anything blurb-worthy to send. Sigh.

Books Read:
A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
In the Crud house George R.R. also goes by the name “Mr. Crud’s Boyfriend” so beloved is he to my husband. For years I have been hearing about the ups and downs of the Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series. Mr. Crud laments pushed-back release dates for new books. He thrills at every new detail of the HBO series. All the while I roll my eyes playfully, “Oh you and your boyfriend.” He hooked his brother and sister-in-law on the series a few years ago. Every visit would include at least one long conversation with names totally foreign to my ears. Here we go again, I silently lamented. After watching the first season of the HBO series, “Game of Thrones,” I decided to give the books a try. I tried to be casual about it. I planned to read one then return to my literary diet of humorous memoirs, Scandinavian thrillers, and literary fiction. But no. I have to know what happens to Arya. What about the dragons? And that little shit, Joffrey? I have a new boyfriend and his name is George R. R. Martin. I look forward to Purvis’ naps because while she sleeps in my arms I read the teensy tiny print by eye-straining dim light. Mr. Crud has been sweet about not rubbing my new addiction in my face. The words “I told you so” have not crossed his lips. He reads over my shoulder. “Can you believe that happened?” No, no I can’t.

Yuks
We kicked off our staycation with the Maria Bamford set at Helium Comedy Club. The week before our big night out I worried over the timing. We had a window of 45 minutes for the babysitter to arrive, Purvis to fall asleep, and to get to the club in time to pick up our tickets. I am a logistical worry wart. I see all the holes in the most simple of plans. All worked out as planned. The babysitter did not get waylaid by my imagined traffic jam, Purvis did not throw a tantrum because she sensed that we were heading out for a night on the town although I did throw Mr. Crud some shade for taking a shower and tipping Purvis off that this night was not like other nights. We found a parking spot and our tickets were waiting for us with time to spare. Because rock shows are now after my bedtime, I’m thinking that comedy will be my new out-and-about activity. I am totally addicted to comedy podcasts—Never Not Funny, Who Charted, How Did This Get Made, WTF to name a few—so why not support my local funny folk? Maria Bamford was amazing. I laughed until I was sobbing and begging her not to make me laugh anymore.

Lions, Tigers, and Cows Oh My!

Oregon State Fair
Tuesday we trucked down to Salem to take in the fine dairy-air of the Oregon State Fair. After a delightfully bouncy ride from car to fairgrounds—“Bumpy! Bumpy! Bumpy!!” Purvis chanted—we headed straight for the blunt yet accurately named Beef Barn. We mooed at cows, bleeted at sheep, neighed at horses, and quacked at ducks. During our two sojourns to the petting zoo, Purvis grazed the back of a deer and swatted at a goat’s tail. Thankfully she did not repeat my young petting zoo experience where a goat nibbled on my fingers as I tried to feed it. The petting zoo had the added excitement of trying to keep Purvis’ hand from jamming into her mouth after she had touched the poo and pee-riffic floor of hay. I didn’t even mind that the soap provided by the fair had the dreaded triclosan as its antibacterial agent. Funny how quickly the hippie mom worries about parabens and pthalates evaporate when possible e-coli is on the menu. As Purvis munched a PB & J, I read the Petting Zoo signs assuring fairgoers that the animals were delighted to be penned up and subjected to the sticky, swiping hands of hundreds of children. I couldn’t help but think to the scene in the recently viewed—thanks to a lovely staycation day minus Purvis during which we saw our first movie in 8 months and ate a leisurely lunch at Nostrana—Rise of the Planet of the Apes where main chimp Caesar bounds into a seemingly wonderful playroom under the watchful eye of his owner, the wary James Franco, and is then crammed into a dismal cage as soon as Franco leaves the building. Yes, I’m sure the petting zoo is a donkey’s dream. A pig slept in the corner during both our visits to the bustling pen. Pigs are smart. I wondered if the pig was depressed, if he was the Caesar that would try to lead the Petting Zoo rebellion. The fair food was disappointing. After all the website hype about the great food, I expected something gourmet-ish, representative of the pride Oregonians take in their grub. The usual parade of oily noodles, corn dogs (the foot-long corn dog named “The Dominator” resembled a soon-to-be-retired dildo), funnel cakes (which are admittedly delicious), elephant ears, mounds of curly fries, and the requisite fried Twinkies crammed the food court. State Fair life lesson: pack a lunch.

Portland Zoo
After my last zoo sojourn in college, I swore never to see another zoo without a tot in attendance. Otherwise, I spend the whole time feeling guilty that animals must be caged so that ding-dong humans can be convinced to not annihilate them from the planet. Alternately, so that animals won’t be annihilated from the planet because their habitat has been destroyed or they are fun to wear or they are tasty. I still had some of these thoughts, especially while huddled behind as mass of teenaged girls who squealed and hollered, “he’s waving at us!” while watching a chimp in the primate house. I can only imagine the parade of humanity that greets him every morning. Sorry, Mr. Chimp Sir, I tried to convey to him telepathically. If you become our overlords and annihilate us from the planet, I totally understand. Purvis dug the swimming sea lions, the grazing giraffes, and the pacing leopards. I am still partial to the primate house and the orangutans. After our zoo visit Purvis’s love of Goodnight, Gorilla (a tale of the most incompetent zookeeper ever) has been rekindled. Each mention of the zoo is met with a bellow of “Mooooo.” No cows at the zoo, but I appreciate her rhyming skills.

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge
We saw exactly 2 ducks on our hike in the aforementioned wildlife refuge, but it was still cool to take a walk in the woods while in the city. Oh sweet Portland. I like to walk and I am a fan of nature (as long as getting lost in the woods and killed by deranged rednecks are not a danger) so it’s odd that I’ve not taken advantage of Portland’s many parks and hiking grounds. Mr. Crud and I vow to pull out our comfortable shoes—maybe even invest in some ugly but practical hiking boots—and start seeing the great outdoors. Purvis is a fan of outside. “Outside”—pronounced “dieee”—was one of her first words. Sometimes I worry that she is becoming too much a fan of outside. I fast forward to theoretical future when she asks to go on a hike in the wilderness or worse she is a young adult venturing into the woods with our without my blessing. Shiver. Maybe I can teach her a lesson a la the Arrested Development way by traumatizing her in a safe way so that the outdoors will not be so enticing. Now that’s some fancy parenting.


Tids and Bits
We bought Purvis a helmet so that she can ride her tricycle—actually be pushed on her tricycle—around the neighborhood with a protected noggin. She likes the helmet—her “helmey”—more than the actual trike-riding. We made a house rule that helmets are only for outside, a rule which as become the latest source of tears second only to the denial of pizza at every meal.

Purvis attended her first wedding and I spent my first wedding in decades not taking advantage of free booze. Are my boozerini days really over? Stay tuned. (A hearty mazel tov to Kelle and David.)

Purvis is an outgoing young lady. Her preferred method of getting to know you is to either holler “hi” or “baby” or swipe her hand at your face. She mistrusts the friendship overtures of other kiddos--she likes to woo her new buddies--and prefers to run with an older crowd. This week she made several temporary buddies. Moxy who shared in the fun of crumpling leaves and throwing them at each other. Anya who we have seen at the park near our house several times and showed Purvis the fun of leaping off high brick walls. The little boy who led Purvis in a “choo choo” parade around the perimeter of the park. While Purvis is working her shouty charm on a future temporary pal, I look to the parent and wonder, “Will you be my parent friend?” I remember how I scanned our childbirth preparation classroom and prenatal pilates class for possible future parent pals. After every conversation I analyzed the couple for compatibility with Mr. Crud and me. (Were they artsy, punky types? Would they want some former artsy, punky types for pals? How did they feel about attachment parenting? Do they mind awkward, dorky jokes possibly involving potty talk?) And after every conversation we stepped away from each other with no future plans to get together over coffee and chat, thus putting the kibosh on our parent friendship. I have my eye on the couple across the street. They fall on the yuppie side of the fence but their son is only a few months younger than Purvis and they have a killer yard. If all else fails I could try the Purvis holler-in-the-face method. Seems to be working out for her.

Podnah’s Pit is delicious. I say that I don’t like meat, but I lie. I like meat. I like it a lot.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pythons on a Shuttlebus


(Reprinted from Crudbucket 6 on the occasion of Randy "Macho Man" Savage's death. R.I.P. Macho Man.)

The night I began my love affair with WWF wrestling returns with startling clarity. A visit to my mom’s best friend’s house on a Friday night, the best friend whose son happened to be one of the supercoolio boys who made an appearance on every self-respecting 6th grader’s crush list. While Mom chatted it up with her friend, Wes took me to the basement where I watched my first wrestling bout. He jumped on the couch, when Hulk Hogan had his comeback moment, the part of any Hulk bout that made you want to start shrieking his Rick Derringer-penned theme song at the top of your lungs. I’M A REAL AMERICAN/ FIGHT FOR THE RIGHTS OF EVERY MAN.

No matter his opponent Hulk always found himself on the verge of going down, usually due to some illegal folding chair incident. (What good were those referees anyway?) He’d be sprawled on the mat, an equally muscled, oiled many laying across him. The good-for-nothing ref pounded the floor, “1-2-3-“ As he neared 10 that’s when you’d see it, the shaking fist that signaled Hulk wasn’t as out as he seemed. He could gut it through, at least enough to tear his t-shirt. During the Hulk comeback Wes jumped on the couch. “He did it again!” Wes’ younger sister, Brande, curled her lip. “It’s all fake anyway.” Wes jumped off the couch and onto Brande, pinning her to the shag carpet. “Take it back,” he said, rubbing a fresh noogie on her head. We were all laughing. I was almost doubled over. Man, this is great, I thought. Were girls allowed to love wrestling?

I decided my favorite was Randy “Macho Man” Savage for reasons that make me want to kiss the feet of Gloria Steinem for rescuing me from my fucked up gender conditioning. Randy ruled his lovely Elizabeth—always referred to by announcers as Lovely Elizabeth—with an iron fist. Sometimes he actually pushed her to the ground if she got in trouble. She always came back, somehow unable to resist the way he stuck his pinky finger straight in the air and through clenched teeth—how DOES one describe that fucked up gravelly whine? Laryngital?—curse his rivals without raising his voice. He was a bad boy, an abusive bad boy so tough that the name Randy Savage was not sufficient to express his hypermasculinity. He added Macho Man for good measure. I slobbered at the thought that someday I could show him the right way to treat a lady. He hadn’t met anyone who could stand up to him. Pathetic Elizabeth, it was all her fault. Or maybe it was the tight tiger-striped fluorescent pants, the perma-tan, the cowboy hat. That voice.

And then he took off his sunglasses. Shiver. Please don’t ever take off your sunglasses, Mr. Macho Man.

My wrestling love stuck around long enough for Dad to haul my brother and I to two WWF extravaganzas at the Capital Center. I saw the Hulkster, the Junkyard Dog, and the British Bulldogs who I decided were my favorite tag-team wrestlers because I liked the accents, which lent them a modicum of sophistication in a decidedly unsophisticated world. I had a trapper keeper folder emblazoned with the Macho Man; I liked the Slim Jim commercials but then middle school hit and I abandoned my WWF, leaving my brother and Dad to carry the torch.

Fast forward to a few years ago when my husband-to-be and I boarded the Avis shuttle bus, exhausted from our flight to Detroit where we would be visiting his grandma. The bus was packed with other weary travelers, mainly business suit guys, their eyes glazing at the sun-baked pavement beyond the windows.

We were about to depart when the doors shushed open and the widest muscleman I’d ever lay eyes on boarded. Skintight acid-washed jeans strained against his thighs. A white muscle t-shirt hugged the ridges and valleys of his torso. The tell-tale wraparound sunglasses perched atop his bumpy nose. Fake tan was everywhere. He mumbled something about a car to the driver in that laryngital strain. His voice was the sound of shredded vocal chords, a walking cautionary tale to chorus classes everywhere of the importance of singing from the diaphragm. (I understand now, Ms. Watkins.) He loomed over the driver, his hands on the luggage bar behind him.

“Sorry Mr. Savage, they haven’t found your car but you should come along.”

With both hands, he hit the bar with a force that shook the bus. The businessmen were awakened from their daze as we all exchanged nervous glances that wondered if the combined power of the businessmen and me could take out this monster man should he go insane between the Wayne County Airport and the Avis. The driver kept his cool, gripping his glorified walkie-talkie.

“I’ve been doing this all day, man,” Macho Man whined through his strained vocal chords.

“Sorry Mr. Savage.”

Lucky me, my former idol slumped into the seat beside me. I stared at the meatiest paw hands I’d ever seen, marveled at the veins crisscrossing his thigh-circumferenced biceps. The urge to pinch his leg was overwhelming. Could I actually get a fingertip-ful of denim or was it actually as sprayed on as it looked? I squeezed husband-to-be’s hand. He knew of my Macho Man love. No secrets in this relationship.

I weighed the consequences of me blurting out, “You were my favorite wrestler when I was 12.” I tried to soften the obvious jerkitude of that statement, “I used to love you. Whatever happened to Elizabeth? I like your Slim Jim commercials. You were on my English folder.” All left me fearful that after a day of rental car frustration, I would be the final straw to break the Macho Man’s back. Being so close to him I felt like I could touch history. I imagined the excitement of the 12-year-old me running up to tell Wes, “Hey I sat next to Randy Savage on a shuttle bus.” Or rather I will 15 years in the future. Maybe he would have gone with me then.

The bus ride was silent. The nervous glances continued until we reached the Avis. When the doors shushed open, all remained seated as Macho Man, who stands just over 5 feet tall (not Prince short, but shorter than you’d expect), clomped to the front of the bus. “Take it easy, Macho Man,” the driver said. He grunted. We all exhaled. No heroics necessary on this ride. The pythons exited without incident.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Mostly Bearable Heaviness of Morning Coffee

Fellow with glasses a beard and snazzy brown loafers stands behind chubby lady sagging beneath an overloaded backpack. The distance between the counter and the line is Grand Canyon wide. Had I not known this was the line to order our mediocre name brand lattes, I would wonder what these people were waiting for in their orderly single file. The next register is available. Chubby lady advances. Now he’ll move closer, right? Things are bunching up in the back. The line is practically out the door. No movement. I almost stumble into him. Come on, dude. Shuffle those fancy loafers closer to the counter. Have you never waited in a line before?
“Next.” Coffee lady calls to Loafers.

I take three large steps into the proper line position. Ah, that’s the ticket. My brow un-furrows. I’ll lead by example. I feel the coffee army behind me relax. No need to crowd together by the door. I will give you the space. You’re welcome.

“Next.”

I step to the counter. They know my order by heart—double, non-fat, extra hot latte. I can’t believe that I added the obnoxious extra hot to my order a few months ago. 2 years ago Me would roll my eyes at Extra Hot Me.

I wish the coffee slinger a nice day and silently thank him for not trying to upsell me on a Danish. I feel simultaneously annoyed and guilty when the new kid in the coffee shop asks me if I’d like a bagel or muffin with that. I envision the meetings where the managers, plastered grins on their fake tanned faces, toss required scripts at the new employees. “Be sure to call it a fresh muffin.”

I turn to move sheep-like to the waiting area near the other end of the counter but Loafers has taken up residence in the slim corridor between the counter and a rack of coffee. He is blocking the corral. Not only is he unaware of how lines work; he also needs training in the etiquette of waiting for your order. Fan-fucking-tastic.

I hit play on my iPod. I am forced to back track through the line. “Excuse me, sorry.”

I pick a spot near the rack. I stare at the back of his head.

“Tyler,” calls the coffee lady.

He steps to the counter and grabs his frothy, whipped cream-topped drink.

Oh Tyler. It’s not his fault. With a name like that he never had a chance.

I wonder who is staring at the back of my head, marveling at the oddly aggro energy emanating from iPod lady with the overloaded messenger bag. (Who I should mention just came from yoga class thus should be oozing love and compassion for all beings, even those who are named Tyler.)