Monday, December 27, 2010

Hello friends, family, fried chicken legs!

Excuse me--I meant chied licken fregs. In other words, I'm being silly. Goofy. Gangly. Gargly.


No joke--it's 4:09 am, and I've been up since 2, having gone to sleep at 1, having drunk a double mocha right after dinner. Hee hee!

At least I'm in a better mood than I was an hour ago, lying in bed stroking my chin hairs, debating getting up and tweezing them, wondering whether that--turning on the bright light, getting the magnifying mirror out, locating the chin-hair tweezers--would wake me up too much. I decided not to deal with the chin hairs (I saw them in the mirror in the bathroom at the movies tonight, and it was like, WOAH!!) but instead have something to eat, so I went into the kitchen and devoured the remaining Christmas guacamole I made (I put chipotles in it, and it was AMAZING!) plus two spoonfuls of vanilla yogurt.

Gee! Aren't you glad you're reading this? The fascinating things that occur to one while one is wide awake in the middle of the night!

I'm glad I decided to write. I'd been worried about the blog, feeling like it'd been too long since I posted, and wanting to, at some point, say that I've decided not to be funny here anymore.

That's right, no more zany humor! I decided it was getting old. Instead, I want to just talk normally. Except, that is, for when I have insomnia. Because all the rules go out the window then.

Um, so...god, I need a massage. And the feeling of needing to pluck my chin hairs is causing this, like, metallic taste in my mouth. I swear to god, it was weird--I went into the bathroom at the movies, went to wash my hands, looked in the mirror, and saw these long, silver monsters sticking about a quarter inch off my chin. Not just one! Like, five of them.

To be honest, I LOVE plucking my chin hairs. When they get nice and long like they are now, it's deeply satisfying to pull them out and then, like, stare at them. I actually collect them on my finger as I'm going and when I'm done I'm totally mesmerized by the number of them and their stumpy dark prickliness. When I'm done, of course, it's great--I love having no chin hairs more than I love plucking them--but there definitely is a strange pleasure involved in dealing with them, sort of like when I pick my nose and collect the boogers and make them into little booger people (like snowmen, but smaller).

Ha ha ha! Totally kidding!

Oh right, I'm not joking here anymore, so forget that about the boogers.

It was a nice Christmas here. My parents are visiting from the Eastern Seaboard, and it's been fun spending time together, although part of the fun includes a sprained ankle (for Joedy) while dancing (very hilariously) and a hangover or two. It's been pretty cold here, and that's made the Christmas thing all the more...believable. Lula, especially, being 6 six years old, has been really getting into Christmas--she wrote Santa a letter (it said, among other things, "Meery Chrestmes" and "thank you"), and when she got his letter to her (written by...guess who?) she was so stoked, I mean, it was touching and cute beyond belief. Yesterday, in fact, she told me "I love Santa" in this sweet little voice, and my heart just, well, totally melted...

This is a short post but it's getting late, or early, already 4:45, and I should try to go back to sleep or at least get ready to hit the gym--crazy, but that sounds totally doable to me right now. I'll probably be a mess later today, but at least I had fun in the middle of the night--I least I got something done!

Speaking of getting something done, I'm posting a couple things: a link to a photo book I did a while ago (for a contest), and some pictures of Christmas tree ornaments I made the other day. Slowly but surely I'm doing stuff, and it feels freaking great...


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Recently I read that blog readers can't handle more than one thought per entry, and if you're going to take that crazy chance and include more than one thought in your entry, make sure you use lots of BOLD HEADERS so they don't get confused.

To whit:


Sorry, I didn't mean to call you a twit. I'm referring to my armpit. Or, as the case may be, my armtwit.

No, I'm not drunk, though I wish I were. Blogging is so much more fun when you're drunk! GogGAMMIT, why don't we have more beer in this house???

Excuse me, I'm not feeling like myself. I'm feeling like Ronald Reagan.



Why can't I underline the above header??? Headers without underliner look weird. Ok, where was I going with this? Oh right, "being creative." Right. It's important. The End.


Right. I've been doing that too. I know, it's not fun to read about, and frankly, it sort of sucks to write about it, but it's a fact of my life, and you know what? I'm "secretly" proud of that. I put "secretly" in quotes because it's not much of a secret anymore, and anyway, was it ever that much of a secret? My love of self-flagellation? No, I didn't say self-"flatulation"--PLEASE. Don't get all childish.


So anyway, as I was saying before you cut me off with that gross, heinous, ridiculous reference to disgusting, stinky gas, I LIKE beating myself up. It's part of my martyr fantasy! Making people feel sorry for me because I'm always putting so much pressure on myself to do this and that stupid thing is FUN.

Ha ha! Just kidding.

Really--what I meant was that yes, there is an element of self-pressure, but I'm ferpectly ok with it. In fact, HELLO, I wouldn't want it any other way! Without pressure from lil ole me, who the hell is going to say "Isabel, you're going to be dead some day, like Ronald Reagan! And what have you to show?"

I know, I KNOW, I have great kids! I know. I know that. And I know I have a beyond-describable life of perfect happiness. I know that. I realize that all day long, every single day--I really do.


But I do want to ACCOMPLISH. I want to ACHIEVE. And by good golly gigglybugs I'm going to do everything I can to do just that. The End. Thank You.


If I keep talking about being creative so much, people are going to get sick of it, so I'll just say this one thing and then almost be done with it:

Being creative, for me, goes much deeper than making stuff. Being creative is about living creatively--it's about going through the day going, "How can I approach this situation in a way that yields a positive result? How can I see every moment, every outrageously lucky moment, in a way that maximizes my appreciation of the moment? How can I get the most out of life?"

The last sentence sums it all up: being creative, for me, is about getting the most out of life. Because if I want to, I can get something from everything--I can learn from every situation, I can grow and get stronger from every situation. That's the most important thing to me, really--that will leave me thinking, on my deathbed, "I didn't do so bad."


I know I'm not going to get very far if I don't take chances, if I don't believe in myself and do it and all that good stuff. Recently I found a bunch of old poems I wrote, and it got me in the poem-writing mood. It's been a long time since I wrote a poem, but the other night, driving home from the gym, I had an experience and tried to put it into words. I'm not sure if the resulting poem is that great, but, like I said, it's important to take chances, so here I go, posting it here.

The Train

The train had stopped on the tracks
at the Oltorf crossing
keeping me and a growing two-lane crowd of drivers
from going home
at 10 pm on Wednesday night

The flashing red lights of the signal
silently marked the passing of minutes
and the rhythm, I thought,
of life and death, death and life

Had someone died on the tracks?
I didn't know, but when two police cars
screamed by, way behind us, it seemed entirely possible
and anyway, people die all the time

You, in front of me, opened your car door
and from the trunk, pulled out a guitar
which you played and sang to,
a little out of earshot, ahead of me

I watched your hand on its neck and
the red lights of the signal on the keys
and it was beautiful, so beautiful, I wanted
to kiss your guitar and your hand and
thank you
for adding life to my night


Monday, December 13, 2010

Usually I don't like it when strange men approach me at the gym. The past few occasions have been based on weightlifting advice I was doing perfectly well without, thank you very much, and, as usual, I was left thinking "Why didn't you offer advice to the sweaty, hairy guy who's using the Triple-Bend Vertical Row as a seesaw?" The attempt at "helping" me invariably brings out my feminist side; if I'm in a good, tolerant mood, I'll do my best not to bite the guy's head off, but if I'm already riled up about something, it's hard not to respond in a way that says "Don't think about little lady'ing me, you condescending, sexist dork!"

Of course, not all male gym-goers are the same, nor do all their varied approaches mean the same thing. This was proven to me a few days ago, while I was resting between sets on the hip adductor, a machine that takes "compromising position" to a whole new level--one not that different, I'd guess, from being dangled from a telephone pole while wearing green socks and a Ronald McDonald wig. The hip adductor, given its easy interpretation as a Kama Sutra warm-up device, requires a certain amount of sensitivity to one's surroundings, especially if one is female, and using it can almost guarantee unwanted attention, at least in the form of looks. Therefore, if I'm using it and a guy makes a beeline for the hip abductor, which sits right beside it, I'm usually pretty wary and...prepared.

I was in a so-so mood that day. It was my second time in the gym after a three-week hiatus that had left me feeling mushy, weak, and cranky, and though I had more energy and felt the positive effects of the last workout and two recent long walks with the dogs, I was irritable and wanted to make up for lost time both physically and mentally--namely, in terms of my creative project goals. Hard weights workouts and long, fast walks feed my ability to produce--to get shit done--and I was mad at myself for having slacked off for so long with the exercise and for having lost my focus.

The guy sat down next to me, his big, bulky body filling up the machine like a teddy bear in a piece of doll furniture, and with clumsy fingers he started fiddling with the pins and movable parts.
By then my irritability had morphed into Defiantly Ballsy, so I stayed in the embarrassing "resting" position, to hell with anyone thinking whatever, and readied myself for the throat-clearing, the helpful advice, the sideways glances, or--worse than anything--the entirely possible and infinitely unsubtle grunts and groans as he exerted himself. Breathing deeply, I reminded myself to respond in a way that was nonantagonistic, yes, but decidedly let's-cut-the-bullshit: I didn't want to hurt his feelings, but if I needed to, I would definitely make it clear that I was ALL BUSINESS and NO PLAY.

"This is the hip abductor?" he asked me, or I thought he was asking me--he just kind of said it out loud, to no one in particular.

"Yes," I said. Obviously. It says so right in front of your face. On the machine you're staring at.

"Oh, this is the HIP abductor." He got his knees lined up, gave it a few tries, then shakily returned to the starting position. What came next surprised me: "I think you're much stronger," he said, laughing, and gestured towards the decent, but not that impressive, amount of weight I was using.

What? I hadn't expected that. I hadn't expected him to be...nice! To be humble! What a relief. "," I said lamely, trying to think of something that would make him feel better about...what? Being a weightlifting novice? Having recently gotten over a major illness? Having broken both legs in a terrible car accident? I had no idea what was keeping him, who was as densely built as a water buffalo, from lifting more than a paltry fifteen pounds on that ridiculous machine.

Before I could think of something to say, though, he started talking again. "This is the hip abductor? Well--I think I'm being abducted! Yep, I'm being abducted, all right!"

Ok, that was actually funny--abducted by the hip abductor? Wow--not only was he not a sleazy creep, he was unafraid of making corny jokes with a fellow gym-goer! Thrilled, I jumped in: "Yes, I can see you're really trans--"

But he cut me off. "Ha ha, I'm being abducted...ha ha. This machine is abducting me! Ha ha--look out...this is the hip abductor. Right? This is the hip abductor? Ha ha. Oh no, I'm being abducted! This is...this is...the abductor?"

That's when it hit me: he was as loony as an aging, addled Siamese cat.

Partly relieved, partly dismayed (I'd wanted to tell him he seemed "transported"), I turned my attention back to my workout. It went well--the more I pushed myself, the more motivated I was, and by the time I was done I felt strong and capable, full of renewed energy for my writing, drawing, mobile, and jewelry goals. As I walked out of the weight room, thirty minutes later, I heard a voice and saw the guy who'd been using the hip abductor barreling towards me. He looked like a tree trunk--a mass of solid, living, non-abducted matter--and I took a step back as his voice boomed out.

"Hey!" he said, "you're...insane tenacious. I saw you on that machine over there--you were...insane tenacious!"

"Oh no," I mumbled, embarrassed, "not really."

"Yes you were," he said. "I saw you. Insane tenacious."

Ok, I thought, whatever...

I left, and felt cynical half the drive home. Insane tenacious, I thought--sounds like the kind of silly thing I would say.

By the time I'd parked the car in the driveway, my thoughts had drifted to my projects: all the things I want to do, all the things I have to do, all the things I'm going to do. Suddenly, I heard it again--You're insane tenacious!--and then I was like, Thanks. Thanks, my crazy friend...


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I spent most of last night worrying about all the shit I need to do and haven't done--finish the children's book(s), make a crapload of jewelry, make the jewelry website, get the jewelry in stores, make mobiles, pimp the mobiles--and by 10 a.m. I was just, like, FUCK IT.


I decided to have a day of saying fuck it, because it felt GOOD to say fuck it, so that's what I'm doing. If anyone reading this is uncomfortable with swearing, please don't read any more--I'm not holding back. (In fact, I swear all the fucking time in my fucking head, so this is just me, being normal.)

Amidst my thoughts of telling all my stupid projects to get out of my life once and for all, just go jump off a steep bridge, you dumb, stupid, disgusting projects, I realized I could probably scale down here and there so everything wouldn't be so fucking overwhelming. For one thing, I can eliminate the jewelry website task, at least temporarily, because just having stuff made and in stores would be great--also,

...what is the also? I don't know what the fucking also was. I DO know that I decided NOT to enter the local paper's short story contest, contrary to my earlier decision, because it's just too fucking much, but then Joedy told me I should use this particular blog entry he really likes, which to me sounds like a bad imitation of Hemingway, but...who knows. I don't know.

I know I'm not scoring points with the Positive Attitude People but this feeling of creative goals depression was really fucking acute last night/this morning and it still kind of is. I mean--here's where the complaining ratchets up into kind of really annoying--what's the fucking point, really? What's the point of me pushing myself to make some silly pearl earrings or a book about a 6-year-old bug? In the long run, what's it going to matter whether I do any of this or not?


That was obnoxious, I know. So "nihilistic" and "deep" I want to THROW UP (please note the Christmas colors). But, really, it's the way I was feeling last night. And though I talked myself out of that frame of mind with the "you need money so you can pay for your kids' college/pay back your parents for that student loan etc/rent yourself a nice room in a nursing home thirty years from now" argument, it's still kind of there. I mean, sometimes things just seem so...fucking futile.

It hasn't ALL been doom and gloom around here!* Yesterday, while lying down with Malko, trying to take a nap, I had the interesting experience of having my nose snaked by someone else's finger. I'd close my eyes, start to drift, and then, like he'd been waiting for me to fall asleep, Malko would stick his finger in my nostril and slide it up in a TOTALLY strategized way.

He did this maybe five times--enough to make it clear that my nose is a great source of adventure and fun. Which I already knew, actually, know--it's nice to be appreciated!

In related bodily humor news, this morning, while Joedy was talking to his business partner on the phone in the bathroom, Malko walked in, summed up the situation, and yelled "PAPA! CACA!"

Very loudly. Practically in the phone.

Ok! Bad Mood Isabob is feeling better now. Guess I better go do some


*"Happy ending" so readers won't feel depressed


Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I'm still feeling a little post-Thanksgiving scattered, but I managed to pick up the pieces enough the last couple of days to bust some stuff out in the studio (I feel pretentious calling it that, but...what the hell), which felt great, even though I later discovered I'd need to take it all apart and start over.

I was making jewelry for the line I'm putting together, which I hope to sell to stores and on a website (which I'm also putting together), and though there are all these OTHER things I need to do (finish the website, for example), it seems like building inventory is a good first step in this particular creative project. [WOAH! "SCATTERED" SENTENCE!]

So, anyway, I was making all this stuff, and it was wildly exciting to use these pearls and other gorgeous beads I'd gotten a while back but hadn't had the space/time to get into; I made seven pairs of earrings and four new necklaces and I refurbished five old necklaces. I was really REALLY happy with them, ecstatic that I'd finally made some headway with the jewelry project, which had been moldering by the sidelines for, like, six months (due to a lack of space), but then I went to the craft store last night to get some metal supplies and everything came crashing down.

After spending no less than an hour and a half debating between THIS crimp bead and THAT crimp bead, THIS lobster claw clasp and THAT magnetic clasp, THESE head pins and THOSE elongated earring wires--laying everything carefully out on a shelf next to a herd of Santa trolls, analyzing the metal supplies I'd brought from home so everything would freaking match, goddammit, and be perfect--after all that, the saleslady who'd been standing next to me the whole time looked at me and said "Do you need help?"

What was it that tipped her off? My hair, which I'd thrown into a barrette, post-shower, ten hours ago, and which now looked like an experiment involving electrocution? Maybe it was because I wasn't just muttering under my breath anymore but speaking loudly to the Santa trolls: "No! No, that's not right. Will this size work? Where are the...? What the...? Where are the stupid plain little silver crimps then? God! Goddammit! What the hell?"

"Yes! I need help!" I said, and told her I needed more metal everything: earring wires, crimp beads, pins, blah blah blah. Did she have any thoughts on anything? Yes, she most certainly did: don't use anything less than silver or gold, because cheap metal will tarnish, look crappy, and give people allergies.

Well, shit. Dammit. That means all the stuff I've made (which isn't that much, really, but sort of), all the things involving wire or metal, needs to be redone. With silver or gold.

I should have known, really--I shouldn't have tried to cut corners using cheap metal in the first place. If I'd had the choice, I'd definitely have used the real thing, either gold or silver, but that's a lot pricier, obviously; from now on I'll just have to factor the better metal into my final cost. Anyway, like I said, it's not that much stuff I'll need to redo (it might take me a few days), and everything will look much better, more professional and quality, so I'm actually glad this happened. To tell you the truth, now that I think about it, I don't know why I was using cheap metal in the first place. Of course it has to be quality! Hello.

The saleslady gave me the name of an online bead supply store; as soon as I get a little extra cash and a resale number (Joedy says it's easy) I'm going to buy some silver and hopefully, some gold, and get this show back on the road!

I just can't wait for this whole thing to be up and running. I really, really can't.

Ugh. I HATE waiting.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hello readers dear and far!

It's 12:41 on Saturday, the day after the day after Thanksgiving, which is sort of a confusing way to say it. It reflects well the state of my mind now, though: a little scattered, a little tired, still riding the high of Thanksgiving and the visits of Benjamin, Mika, and Emil; Joedy's brother and sister-in-law Jesse and Melissa and their kids Noah, Venenzia, Victoria (still with us), and Robert (still with us); my stepdad Robert (still with us); our friend Blaine (still with us), Joedy's parents (still in town, visiting other family today); and, for Thanksgiving itself, the adorable trio of cousins/friends Kat, Nate, and Noah.

It's been so much fun having everyone around: the other night, getting ready for bed, I heard Emil crying and Robert moving around in the office, where he's been sleeping, and it made me so happy. Being surrounded by people I love, having all this fun stuff happening all the time, hearing voices in the kitchen when I wake up, making fires outside, going dancing (twice in three nights!) all makes me SO happy.

On Thursday around three in the afternoon, while everyone was cooking or sitting out on the deck, talking and listening to the music on the old record player Robert brought us out from California (we'd left it in the care of Joedy's brother James last year), the much-anticipated cold front hit: it was AMAZING! All of a sudden I felt this gust of cold air blow in the through the kitchen window, and with each half hour, it seemed, it got colder and colder, until...dang! It was freaking cold! And a party was sent out to collect rocks to build a fire pit in the back yard (Nate ended up throwing one together by himself while they were was really awesome seeing the first flames and then, later, huddling by it, although by that time it really was too cold outside).

Like I said, I'm feeling a little scattered--I keep forgetting who's here and who's not, and I can't for the life of me remember what the date is--but that's just as much due to the Extreme Dancing and Somewhat Extreme Late-Nighting I've been doing lately, and perhaps a little due to the Unusual Amount Of Drinking I've been doing (three shots of tequila, back to back, last night!).

I don't really know what else to say right now so I'm going to post a few pictures and then, hopefully, go eat an insanely spicy taco so my brain will get back to normal.

As I yelled to strangers on the dance floor last night, Happy f'ing Thanksgiving!

Or: Happy Thanks-f'ing-giving!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010




That's because:

I've been tearing wallpaper--so much and so emphatically that the top layer of "wall" has come off too. Now there's cardboard, or something like it, in patches here and there in the main bathroom. It's an interesting effect--it sort of gives a vintage feeling. Kind of a run-down, vintage feeling.

Hm. Perhaps my house-fixin'-uppin' (I'm talkin' like my hero*, Sarah Palin) is doing more harm than good, you ask? Nay, it's not--the wallpaper in the bathroom was hideous. Mint green with purple designs on it, and all buckled and peeling and stained and disgusting from the, uh...the HUMIDITY that NATURALLY OCCURS in a BATHROOM.

As in, WHO THE HELL PUTS WALLPAPER IN A BATHROOM? That's what I yelled to Joedy the other day. He shushed me and pointed at the open window, but I was like, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE NEIGHBORS CARE?? THEY HAVE A SATELLITE DISH FULL OF DEAD LEAVES ON TOP OF THEIR HOUSE!

As in, I don't think they give an F or even a Flying F about what I think about someone putting wallpaper in the bathroom a long time ago. They don't even care about lightning hitting their satellite dish, turning them and us and the rats into a new kind of Texan BBQ!

That's right, I said rats! We don't have mice after all. Upon closer inspection of the dung heap behind the washing machine it became clear that these turds could not have come out of mouse butts--not even Texan mouse butts. The turds were long and hefty like bullets, and the hole behind the washing machine looked...rat-appropriate. Chewed up and filled with this weird black material that might have been insulation or maybe hair--I don't know which, because I didn't look very closely. We just put a big piece of cardboard over the hole and shoved the washing machine against it.

Don't get me wrong--I like rats. I've even loved rats. I often think about a few rats in particular, and when I do I get scarily sentimental, all of a sudden wishing I wasn't an atheist, so I could believe I'll see them again someday. But those rats were pretty, smart, and cute--they were pet-store rats, as opposed to your average brown, coarse, wild rat.

Oh boy, I'm sounding racist about rats. Time to change the subject.

I painted Lula and Malko's room the other day--blue, BLUE, BLUE!--and woke up the next day on a color-induced high that's continued through the wallpaper-tearing and the less exciting tasks of sorting toys, changing lightbulbs, and hanging curtains; it's been really fun gettin' all creative with this fixin' uppin'. I really love a creative challenge, and there have been some satisfying ones already, the most recent being "What to do with the nondescript framed zebra print?"

We inherited this ok, but very uninteresting, framed print from the previous inhabitants of our previous house, and I'd thought for a while it would be fun to draw over the zebras or somehow change the super-dull tan background; after spray-painting the ugly bronze-esque frame the other day I decided to do a collage around the zebras and cover the putty-colored (god, can you think of more boring colors?!) matting with this black and white paper that has a neat ripple design/texture. I'm pretty happy with the result--Flying F it, I'm VERY happy with the result!--and cannot WAIT to do more collages...actually, I think I'm going to start looking for framed stuff at the thrift store and do more of this "repurposing"'s SO fun and SO satisfying.

On that note, I should hit the hay (Joedy and I have yet to buy a real mattress, and though the hay's getting rank it's still sort of comfortable...a little dry, which makes it crackle when you move, but overall--not too bad) so I can get up early tomorrow and get ready for the visit of


*a joke, OBVIOUSLY


Thursday, November 11, 2010

The past week has flown by in a blur of cardboard boxes, mouse droppings, and desperate Craigslist searches for the loveseat that I know is out there, waiting for us to find it.

I thought this move would be a good opportunity to prove that I've matured, that I'm no longer as instant gratification-oriented as I used to be, but it hasn't worked out that way: I want this house fixed up, filled with cute furniture, and looking 100% perfect RIGHT NOW. Patience is not one of my virtues, a fact that was made clear again yesterday, when I tested our new hedge trimmer, a gift from Joedy's parents, on the bushes in the back yard.

My thoughts went like this:

"Wow, this is fun! I could do this all day! I could do this for a living!"

"This is a very big shrub."

"I'm bored."

I managed to finish the job, which is more than I can say for certain creative projects I started eighty billion years ago, and though the bushes are now more or less leafless, just a bunch of depressing-looking sticks pointing upwards, as least we can see out the windows. Of course, all the fallen branches still need to be picked up--I'm sure I'll get around to that someday.

I wasn't kidding about the mouse poops. Hello, hanta virus! Thanks for coming into my life just when I stopped worrying about our child-molesting meth-cooking ex-neighbors. Now I have something besides my Craigslist addiction to occupy my brain. It's always good to have something to worry about! Even if little furry fuzzums isn't dropping lethal turds around the children, he might eat the electrical wiring and set the house on fire! Which, given the crackling noise and Halloween-esque flickering a couple light switches have produced, seems totally possible.

AN IMPORTANT ASIDE: Parents, you're right--the landlord should take care of this. I will call him immediately.

Maybe we can get him to send over an electrician. Hopefully, unlike the plumber he recently sent over, he/she will not have red eyes and act...funny. I'm fine with stuff that turns your eyes red and makes you act funny, but I'd prefer electricians didn't smoke it before working on the wiring in our house. What if the dimmer switch got confused with the garbage disposal switch, causing a short and a fire and sizzling little hanta-bearing fuzzums in his sleep?

While I've enjoyed unpacking, finding new places for our things, cooking in the new kitchen, and generally settling into this house, which is in many ways a really nice place, I can't help feeling a little cynical, a little...unenthusiastic. I know it's partly due to having moved no less than six times in the last six years, but it's also because I'm getting old and still don't have a horse.

I've wanted a horse my whole life, and if I don't hurry up and get one soon I'll be too arthritic to lug around wheelbarrows of manure or act out scenes from The Black Stallion. Our current house is fine--it's quiet and roomy, and there's enough mouse poop to pretend I'm mucking a stable--but in a few years I'd REALLY like to say goodbye to the rental world and hello to the farm I've dreamed of since I was seven years old.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

I was enjoying the sun in the upstairs hallway, hiding behind a green suitcase that kept getting opened and closed in the most annoying way, when the female giant appeared with a small grey box that she pointed at me. She was so close I could smell her breath, and OH MY GOD--garlic! onions!--it was so intense
I had to move to the window sill.

As soon as I did I saw THAT thing--the female giant, apparently, had put it there as some kind of practical joke. Of course, I immediately started turning green, and while I looked for a way to get off the disgusting dirty sill she kept pointing the grey box at me and breathing that dragon's breath, which normally, being a lizard, you'd think I'd like, but...holy Jesus--you have NO idea.

Without too much trouble I was able to leap onto the suitcase, where, despite the stench, I couldn't resist posing--I do look good in green, after all--for the female giant, who seemed understandably entranced.

The sun felt good on my head and made me feel expansive, so I decided to formally greet the frog

and his companion, a duck. They seemed nice enough, but very quiet--neither said a word the whole time--and after repeated attempts at striking up a conversation I got the distinct feeling they were having a private moment.

Indeed, judging from their position, it seemed like the frog was doing something to the duck,

but when I tried to get a closer look he jumped up, startled, his bloodshot eyes full of warning,

so I climbed over him and left them to their antics.

By then, I was getting sleepy--from the sun, the exertion, the stress of having to look my best while the female giant waved the grey box in my face--and I climbed back up the suitcase for a nap.

It was a little uncomfortable with the frog and the duck doing whatever they were doing back there, but I was able to close my eyes and doze...

...until, of course, another wave of garlic and onions hit me--UGH--and I had to move again, this time to the top of the suitcase.

No relief there--the female giant kept hovering near me with that stupid grey box and breathing that foul stench...I was exhausted and PISSED by then, too worked up to be able to sleep, so I crawled away, off the suitcase, towards the floor.

As soon as I got down I smelled ANOTHER smell--just as strong, but less, well, garlicky--and since it seemed to be coming from the female giant's foot I climbed up on it.

It definitely was a strong smell--kind of oniony, still, but also a bit earthy, not totally unpleasant--and since it masked her breath I decided to stay there for a while.

She was making noises--soft, whispery sounds, sort of like my mother used to make--and as I listened I felt more relaxed, more comfortable with the smelly foot and the grey box and the frog and the duck and everything...

Soon my head felt heavy and I was sleepy again; before I lay down for a nap I struck one last pose,

thinking about how, all in all, it had been fun hanging out with the female giant.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Contrary to what I said in the last post, I've decided to part with some cherished items in order to make this move easier. It breaks my heart, but sometimes you have to do what's necessary.

I'm putting everything on eBay and Craigslist, but I thought I'd give my readers first dibs--if you want any of the below items, just let me know (I accept payment in cash and, of course, underwear).

1. Rubber bands. I have eight of these--seven are tan, and one is blue. The tan ones are thin and loose, the blue one is thicker and tighter. I've used the tan ones to bundle up unopened bills; the blue one came around a bunch of broccoli. All are in good condition and can be bought individually ($3) or as a set ($34).

2. Plastic bags--literally, hundreds. Many have holes/tears but can be used for stuffing (NOT turkey stuffing) or performance art. The ones that don't have holes/tears are good for holding things. These must be bought as a set. $19.

3. (Broken) coffee maker. Actually, it's just the carafe that's broken--you can still make coffee with this. Just place a cup/jar/whatever inside the carafe; before it fills up and coffee spills all over the goddamn counter, remove the carafe WITH THE FULL CUP/JAR/WHATEVER INSIDE IT. Any kind of nervous shaking will spill the coffee, so make sure you take a Valium beforehand. $132.

4. Pencil. This is your standard "wooden pencil"--it's about five inches long, and is missing the eraser. There's some silver lettering on the side. It works fine if you don't care about erasing. It's a little dull now, but we've been sharpening it periodically with a carving knife and that seems to help. $20.

5. Cat. Color: white. A little skinny, cross-eyed, and neurotic, but otherwise in good condition. A slight over-meowing problem can be corrected with lots of "outdoors time," and any drooling that results from being petted can be easily wiped up with a thick, over-sized towel. This cat guarantees years of physical activity (from opening and closing the door eighty times an hour). Payment only accepted in underwear.

6. Earplugs--three, gently used. Two have bite marks from a monkey, but they're mostly in good shape. A little discoloration here and there, which seems normal with time. All still work great--in fact, they were used until this morning. Together with the cat, these would make a great gift! Individually: $12. Set: $40.

7. USB cords--I don't know how many, because they're everywhere. Although you'll never be able to "use" them "properly," they make great stocking stuffers when Santa's overwhelmed with other shit; after the thrill of acquiring more confusing electronic stuff has passed, they can be placed in a drawer and kept there for the next twelve years. Warning: do NOT try to find the original accompanying gadgets--a "nervous breakdown" (see item #10) will result. $72-$589.

8. Dog hair--many piles. Some piles have been growing since last year and are pretty big. The bigger ones have other stuff--paper clips, table scraps, silverware--mixed in, and not all the silverware is totally clean. I recommend letting the kids use the silverware as a creative bath toy; any congealed crud should come off between three to twenty-seven months. $13-$43, depending on the quantity of paper clips/table scraps/silverware/etc.

9. Broken glass. Many, many pieces and sizes. Some pieces are rough and jagged, some are straight and pointy. Can be used as "ice" around a gingerbread house or under a Christmas tree. Can also be placed in front of/behind the tires of someone you don't like (make sure you do this at night). $185.

10. Jacket--one. White, with lots of straps and buckles. Some drool marks on the collar/torn stitching around the wrist cuffs. Would make a convincing "mental patient" Halloween costume. I'm getting rid of this because I'm supposedly "better" and leaving my current "home"; though I'll miss the security of its confines, I'm looking forward to a little breathing room. $0--free to a good home.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Since we're moving into the new place in a week and don't have much furniture, we've been scouring Craigslist and the thrift stores for things that are not only cheap but interesting and nice. We've had some very good luck, like with the free gigantic mirror, and some not-so-good luck, like with the plum-colored sofa we bought today for eighty dollars and which Joedy realized, after trying it out in our current living room, is missing its back cushions, and which I just realized, after lifting it up, is missing its legs.


No wonder the lady was ok with selling it for less than the asking price. I can just imagine her laughing when we pulled away from the curb...

I'm not going to focus on our obvious swindle-ableness but on more positive things, like the cold hard cash I intend to get for OUR (mildly broken, fixed with a shoelace) laundry rack, which if propped at exactly 56 degrees leeward and 88.2 degrees towards the North Star works just fine. I'm sure I'll find some trusting fool on Craigslist who wants to take it off our hands! I'll even throw the shoelace in for free.

Despite this somewhat unfortunate sofa experience, it's been really fun looking for new old stuff to replenish our old old stuff. When we left California we debated about keeping our furniture--putting it in storage and having it sent to Costa Rica down the road--but realized it would be silly to hold onto stuff we'd acquired at very low cost, from thrift stores, garage sales, and, now and then, Ikea. We decided to get rid of everything, and jumped right in, putting it on Craigslist, holding a couple of yard sales, and more or less begging people, at the end, to "take it! Just take it!"

Over the last year Joedy and I have had many regrets about all the things we basically gave away--not because we didn't get much money for them, but because they were ours, they were part of our history, and now they're gone, turned into memories of another life. When we decided to let our stuff go (I know--it sounds so dramatic) we knew it might be hard, but we thought it would be good to have the experience of being virtually possession-less, of starting over, material things-wise.

So we said goodbye to the red armoire, the little beat-up blue couch, the kitchen table and chairs, the wooden desk, Lula's bed, the baby jogger, the rugs...the dust ruffle, the green dresser, the old brass lamp, the washing machine, the book was sad, but we reminded ourselves these were just things, easily replaceable things. When the gloom settled in and we questioned just what the hell we were doing getting rid of all this stuff, all this friendly stuff that made up such a big part of our life, we breathed deeply and focused on how free and wonderful it would feel to be uncluttered, how good it would be to start over fresh, with a new palette.

We comforted ourselves with the idea that we'd look for "the wood-framed mirror's cousin," or "the night-stand's twin," and remembered that, when you get down to it, thrift store things are all related...or they could be, anyway. Who knows where this particular mirror, the one we adopted yesterday, was ten years ago? Maybe it was hanging in the same house as our old, California mirror! Maybe this plum sofa lost its back cushions and legs to a puppy, Diablo's sister...maybe these new funky old plates shared cabinet space, long ago, with the funky old plates we put in a cardboard box and stuck out on the sidewalk last summer!

In the end, I have mixed feelings about the experience of "getting possession-less": on one hand I regret doing it--I didn't feel particularly zen when all our furniture was gone--but on the other hand...isn't it good just to have had the experience? Isn't it good to do big, crazy things sometimes--to throw yourself headfirst into chance? Even if you're pretty sure, afterwards, you WOULDN'T want to go through the whole process again, isn't just knowing that, having experienced it, having lived it, valuable?

It's been sad, yes, thinking about our old furniture this past year, but I learned NEVER TO GET RID OF ANYTHING (except for broken laundry racks and shoelaces) and the fact is, life goes on. Since we've already found some cool, unique things to take the place and remind us of their predecessors, the memories of our California life seem closer; in the new house, I think, our Texas life will really begin to blossom, and if we fill it with mismatched cast-offs with nicks, dings, and, yes, missing parts, I'm pretty sure we'll be happy.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Do you feel like you're getting too much sleep? Do you wish you could devote a few more nighttime hours to restless tossing and turning and feverish thinking? Is your well-restedness creating problems in your personal life, such as, for example, when you check the stats of your blog and see your reader, that person in Kingsbarknmeow, hasn't visited you in TWO DAYS, but you JUST DON'T CARE? You throw your hands in the air, and do a jig around the freakishly clean living room, and your neighbor sees you, and sees you're wearing your husband's underwear, and quickly bolts to his car, and then, later, you have to explain why you weren't wearing your OWN underwear? You have to explain about using it to light the barbecue?

If you're having this kind of problem, I can relate, and I can help. With my Infallible Insomnia Trick, which I invented while restlessly tossing and turning and feverishly thinking, and which you can download at no expense to anyone but yourself, for the small sum of $798,345,293,879.49, YOU TOO can come up with unlimited brilliant ideas on how to save the world/make a fortune/peel hard-boiled eggs without half the goddamn white part coming off.

Soon you'll find yourself up all hours by night and, by day, drooling on your shirt and wandering around the house, racking your overtired brain for what the hell exactly it was you were looking for--a pen? A paper? To do what? Write something down? Write what down? Oh yeah, your brilliant idea. The one about the internet and...what was it again?*

For a limited time only, I'm offering a sample of the Infallible Insomnia Trick™; obviously, all rights belong to me, and I'll sue you if you even THINK about using it without paying me $798,345,293,879.49 in cash and/or underwear.

A Limited-Time-Offer Sample

1. After dinner, bath, dishes, and bedtime, settle down at the computer with a strong cup of Insomniacs 'R' Us™ Extra-Caff Green Tea Mocha Brew. While your fingers start to shake, visit an online community; become inspired by the idea of sharing your deepest, most intimate thoughts with strangers you will (hopefully) never meet.

2. Share your deepest, most intimate thoughts. Include extremely unsubtle references to certain important people in your life and detailed stories about, say, problems you have had with addictive substances. IMPORTANT: DO NOT HOLD BACK. The key is full disclosure--if you don't divulge all the gory details, you will NOT succeed in incurring insomnia. The Infallible Insomnia Trick™ will NOT work, and you will NOT be reimbursed the $798,345,293,879.49/underwear.

3. After telling a bunch of complete and total strangers things you wouldn't even tell your therapist, for God's sake, say "FUCK IT" in a loud, trembling voice, and drain the rest of the Insomniacs 'R' Us™ sludge.

4. Flail your shaking arm at the computer in an attempt to turn off the screen.

5. Give up on the screen, lurch to a standing position, and speed-walk to the bathroom.

6. Grab your toothbrush and the toothpaste, squeeze the toothpaste too hard, shoot it all over the mirror and yourself, say "FUCK IT" again, and reel upstairs to the bedroom.

7. Join significant other in bed. If he/she is sleeping soundly, try not to move, DESPITE the sensation of deer ticks crawling all over your body.

8. Give up on not moving. Toss, turn, and scratch freely, frequently turning on the light to look for the ticks. Remove and shake all the bedding. Tell significant other, who's now awake, not to worry--you're just "getting rid of the bugs."

9. Turn the lights off and lie back down. As your significant other falls back asleep and YOUR legs and arms twitch and jerk uncontrollably, start thinking about all the private things you just told a bunch of internet strangers. Obsess about it for exactly two hours, and then start thinking about the internet and all the possibilities there...all the possibilities for communication, for making it artsy-fartsier, for...

For what? Sorry, this free limited-time-offer sample DOES NOT include a sample of the Super Memory Package, so I can't tell you anything else. The fact is, I just don't remember...

But I DO know it was great.

*Sleeplessness affecting your ability to recall simple facts? Download my Super Memory Package for just $234,872,238,746,328.89!


Thursday, October 14, 2010


And welcome to Bedlam.

Yes, I know, these pictures look like manifestations of mental illness, or at least sloth--slovenly, sick, slutty, smutty, snotty, spooky, squamous sloth--it looks like crazy people live here. It looks like bad, bad parents are doing a bad, bad job of keeping shit together. Of keeping things nice 'n' tidy 'n' neat, of infusing the little ones with an example of HOW LIFE SHOULD BE LIVED! OF BRAINWASHING THEM INTO TYPE A PEOPLE!

Or--might I posit?--it looks like we don't have no freaking space. No space for toys 'n' shit, no space for cords 'n' shit, no space for toilet paper 'n' shit. And sometimes, when the toilets don't flush properly, which is often, because they're dinky, we don't have no space for shit 'n' shit! And then someone has to go find the plunger, because Malko likes to play with it, and when we find it in the linen closet/pantry it just kind of ruins our day.

So it's a good thing we're moving. Yes, we're moving! A friend knew a friend who had a house whose prospective tenants fell through, and we checked it out, and it's, like, too good to be freaking true. It's close to our current place, which means Lula will be able to continue going to her school, it has four FOUR FOUR bedrooms, a fireplace, two "living spaces," a big garage, a laundry room, two bathrooms, one of which has two TWO TWO sinks (which, frankly, means more cleaning, but still), a deck DECK DECK, and the best part, the very best part, a yard YARD YARD.

By which I mean a real yard. One that two kids, two dogs, a cat, a rabbit, four chickens, and a goat can play in happily. What's that, you say? Chickens? Goat? Yes. I did say "chickens" and "goat." Yes...yes...why yes--we will be turning this house into a barn! Yes...yes, of course I also checked Craigslist for a horse! Actually, I found two of them! They're just $375 apiece. They come as a pair! What? "Space"? What do you mean--we have FOUR BEDROOMS!!! HELLLLOOO! Did you not hear anything I said??? Well, what did you think we were going to do with all that space--fill it with toys? Pots and pans? Cords? No, all that shit's going under the deck, where it belongs. Also: we won't be using the dryer (makes a great storage unit).

By the way: have I told you about my surefire preparing-for-guests technique? The one that involves a horrendously messy kitchen and freakishly early guests? Just throw all the dirty dishes in the oven. Cupboards work too--just don't let the guests open them when they're, like, looking for a glass. Quickly shoo them away, tell them to play with the livestock in the back yard. While they're there, they can pick up shit. With all those critters, there's sure to be a lot lying around.

On a not-so-jokey note, we've been really lucky to be able to live in the present house. When we got to Austin last January, we were essentially homeless, and having A Sort of Small But Otherwise Perfectly Acceptable Place was hugely helpful. We got to live next door to friends (even "God"--sorry, inside joke with "Anonymous/Grand Prout"), we've been close to downtown and Lula's school, and though our other neighbors were visited by a SWAT team and probably have been cooking meth/storing dead bodies all along, they never murdered us in the middle of the night! Yay, neighbors! We love you! And hope to never see you again.

So that's it, folks! Moving on, once again. Weird to be picking up the same boxes we filled with all our stuff last year in California, pre-Costa Rica, the same boxes that made their way here, all rumpled and...friendly-looking, this summer. Something tells me I'll have a hard time throwing these boxes away, once we're settled in the new place: they've been through a lot, and--it's silly--they mean a lot to me. Saying goodbye to them might be strange.

But, on a lighter note, it WON'T be strange or hard to say goodbye to this fan in our current stairway:



Friday, October 8, 2010

Since I started this blog I've gone back and forth on the issue of posting pictures of the family: on one hand, I really want to show the kids mashing toast into squishy balls (Malko) and laughing uncontrollably about diarrhea (Lula) (ok, me too), and since the posts often focus on the kids it would be logical to include pictures of them, but I can't help thinking the internet has enough look-at-the-pictures-of-my-cute-kid blogs. Does it really need another mommyblog featuring snaps of charming peanut butter-coated Chucky? I don't think so.

I decided a while back to try to post illustrations instead of photos as much as possible, because it would be more challenging and make the focus a little more "artsy," and while I didn't post THAT many pictures of the kids I always felt a little uncomfortable about the idea of strangers seeing them. I'm sure my reader in Kingsgritsnmash is a dear, a kindly old soul with a twinkle in her eye and nary a spot on her crisp, pressed straitjacket, but nonetheless I always struggled with a feeling of I Just Don't Know and Maybe This Is Not A Good Idea.

A couple months ago, talking with my parents, I decided to pull the plug on all family photos (except for the pets), and I'm really glad I did: feeling a little safer, I sleep a little better, and I'm glad the blog has made the transition to "more artsy"--more illustrations, less smile-click-upload photos. Since I wanted to include an "Inmates of Bedlam" section, where readers could see pictures of the family (I think it's nice to be able to see who you're reading about), I did some drawings of us; yes, they're based on photographs, but not so obviously that it makes me uncomfortable.

Here they are:







You can probably tell I started with the humans and ended with the pets (Malko was first, Lapis was last), and I'm kind of annoyed that the kids, especially, look kind of cartoony while Astrid and Lapis look realistic, and I'll probably have to go back and perfectionalize, but for now I'm pretty happy with these and El Blog in general.