Sunday, December 28, 2003

Today's family conversation, at dinner, when the Little Guy was eating some especially soupy yogurt.

Big Guy: Do you need a different spoon for that yogurt, or is it just inherently messy?
Little Guy: It's a hairy mess.
MomBrain: Mmm, yummy.

posted by Marjorie
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Saturday, December 27, 2003

MomBrain's Post-Christmas Gift-Giving Guide
If you have not yet bought MomBrain a gift, then may I suggest this print? Ple-e-e-e-ase? I ne-e-e-e-d it! How is it that I have never seen this before? I must have it. I must.

posted by Marjorie
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Holiday Happies
In this, my first post-holiday update, I'm obligated to report that Christmas was indeed merry. The Little Guy managed to open all of his presents in one day, though it took the entire day and required a two-hour nap in the middle. Sister K spent the day with us, which gave me even more reason to deck the halls. And the Big Guy surprised me with an exceedingly generous gift despite our promise to only make gifts for each other. It kinda put my my custom mousepad to shame. But I got over it. All in all our merry was very, one of the best ever, a lovely, leisurely, glowing holiday.

The Cure for Writer's Block
Few things motivate a writer more than a paycheck. Yes, indeedy, MomBrain got paid today, 400 clams, which means I get to spend $40 guilt-free on whatever I want. How could I possibly want anything two days after Christmas? Don't be silly. I am an American. I want! I spend! I have! I grow bored and toss my newly acquired objects into the Goodwill pile! It's part of the Constitution, isn't it? It's certainly part of mine. And what kind of patriot would I be if I did not do my best to support our flagging economy? I'm thinking the DJIA would respond very nicely to that adorable sleeveless vest I saw at the Gap. God Bless America.

Zitsville: A Pimpled History of MomBrain's Chin
Clearasil and I are strangers. It's true. I am not one of the Beautiful People -- my hips are too big, my eyes are too small, and everything is brown instead of blonde and blue. But my skin is freakin' fabulous. It's like buttah. Throughout my entire adolescence, only one zit dared to make an appearance. True, it was smack in the middle of my chin on the day I graduated high school. So it plays a starring role in photos and memories of the day. But one spectacular zit in 18 years is nothing more than the tiniest rite of passage, and on the whole I am grateful.

Another zit popped up - same location - when I was in my early thirties. I was skiing with Sister N and needed vats of powder and foundation to cover it. But her young buff guy friend pronounced me hot, so I was still in ski bunny territory. Not so bad.

And now, in my early forties, Zit #3 has made itself known. Again, on my chin. Again, aggressively red. And large. And ow. I suppose I should not complain. But this one truly is a record breaker. And it's not even done growing yet. Rudolph's nose is nothing next to this sucker.

posted by Marjorie
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P.S. Hey, how come no one told me Sarah Hepola was back?

posted by Marjorie
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Monday, December 22, 2003

Question: What is the secret to surviving winter in Seattle? Answer: Scorn. Every morning I lean out my bedroom window and yell "Hah! I spit at your rain! I scoff at your darkness!" Then I put on my waterproof undies, bundle myself in fleece, attach a headlamp to my baseball cap, and venture out.

If you've never been to Seattle during the winter, MomBrain is here to tell you: It's not the rain that gets you. It's the darkness. It's frickin' dark all the time. Seattle is so far north that the day is short anyway. But when you add 17 layers of dense clouds blanketing the city without a break from November to April, well, you can see why MomBrain is prone to purple prose and sudden fits of weeping. By March the entire mushroom-white population is blinking like eyeless moles and booking spring-training flights to Arizona. (And I do mean white -- even the three African-Americans who live here are downright pasty by spring. Or heck, maybe we *do* have a more diverse population, but you just can't tell.)

Anyway, on the coldest rainiest darkest day of the year the streets are full of people riding bikes, jogging, walking dogs, and otherwise thumbing their noses at the Seattle winter. And tonight the Little Guy joined them by embarking on a pinecone hunt. In the dark. He dressed in fleece head to toe, wedged a flashlight onto the front of his trike, put his hood up, and off we went, looking for pinecones in the pitch black drizzle. We came back empty-handed but rosy-cheeked, then drove to the grocery store to buy the dang pinecones. Hah! We spit at your darkness!

Hm. It occurs to me that perhaps Seattle is not rainy after all. Perhaps it is just the entire population spitting at the darkness. Uh, where's that danged umbrella?

Anyway, the reason we must have pinecones is that we are making Christmas presents for the birds. We intend to spread the cones with peanut butter, roll them in birdseed, then hang them from our trees. This is the theory anyway. The reality will probably be closer to the Little Guy covered with peanut butter, my floor buried in birdseed, and the cat swinging from a limb somewhere.

posted by Marjorie
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Thursday, December 18, 2003

MomBrain does not lose her sense of humor too often, but the PETA lunatics have squashed it. I can deal with destroying a few choice fur coats, protesting fashion shows, and acting idiotic now and again to attract attention to the cause. In fact, my politics are pretty close to PETA's. But their latest stunt is nothing less than cruel to children and families. Their plan is to give fliers to children whose mothers wear fur to the Nutcracker. The fliers include a drawing of a woman plunging a large bloody knife into the belly of a terrified rabbit, and urge kids to ask mommy how many dead animals she killed to make her fur clothes. They also tell kids to keep doggie and kitty friends away from mommy because she's an animal killer.

What the ... ? I don't eat animals, don't wear fur, and I'm about as crunchy chewy granola as they come. But this makes me want to eat a 24-oz chateaubriand (rare), dress in full-length sable, and adorn myself in rabbit-blinding eyeshadow just so I can sashay into the Nutcracker and Crack a Nut when he so much as looks at the Little Guy.

(Thanks to Mister Crunchy for the link.)

Oh my. Is it not enough that I am stalking Odious Woman? Is it not enough that we both work(ed) for the GAS (Giant Acme Software) Company, live in the same city, see the same hairdresser, wear the same bra, write the same write, art the same art? Evidently it is not enough, for now I am also stalking Francesa. Her birthday wishlist includes this watch, without which she will die. Well thanks, honey. I am now $48 poorer, but my wrist will be stylin. And hey, it will look just like yours! Happy birthday to you. And merry Christmas to me. (And no worries for the PETA pests ... the strap is vinyl.)

Happy Holidays ... All of 'Em
Today at preschool Teacher asked each of the children what holiday they celebrate at home. We are 100% Christmas, but when she got to the Little Guy he said Hannukah. I shook my head and she asked what *else* he celebrates. "Easter." And what else does he celebrate? "Ramadan." Let's hear it for the multicultural Little Guy!

posted by Marjorie
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Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Here at MomBrain HQ we are ringing in the season. Ring, ring, ring! Why, just last night as I undressed for bed, I found a quantity of blue sprinkles under my bra. Some were smudgy and melted, and some still grainy, but all of them were glittery. Yes, my sparkly blue ta tas were quite festive looking, and certainly gave new meaning to the phrase "ho ho ho." Where did the sprinkles come from? It could have been the lunchtime birthday party with twelve overtired preschoolers on a sugar high. It could have been the frenzy of Christmas baking I whipped through during naptime. But most likely it was the blue sprinkle snowman cookie I ate while reclining on the couch and watching the taped* finale of Survivor.** Blue sprinkled goodness was everywhere. And MomBrain was happy. Happy, happy, happy.

* God bless TiVo.

** Was that a monumentally stupid move on Lill's part or what? ***

*** Sorry for the footnotes -- I'm channeling Mimi again.

posted by Marjorie
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Sunday, December 14, 2003

I received a gift from the universe today, but it was wrapped in a brown paper bag with the top folded over, so I had to really look before I realized it was a gift. This morning, out for a walk in the very cold morning air, I locked myself out. And of course the Guys had left for the morning, off for a monorail ride and a close encounter with Santa. They were gone and unreachable, and I was left stamping my foot in the bitter cold, dressed in nothing but running pants, a sweatshirt and a windbreaker.

My exercise partner had to go to work, but she was nice enough to drive me to the nearest McStarbucks. She also gave me a PowerBar from her glove box and all the money she had -- $1.75. It was enough for a very large cup of tea. And so I sat, for two hours, freezing my arse on a metal chair on the sidewalk. Once I got over my pique I said a silent thank-you and remembered last night's conversation with the Big Guy. It was full of whining and complaining, but the jist was that I never have a chance to just daydream any more, to just sit in a chair and stare. Every moment of my day is full, with a list of things that need my attention. Occasionally I collapse into a coma. But I rarely just relax and think, all by myself.

Evidently all my whining was mistaken for a prayer, because the universe gave me exactly what I wanted. I might have preferred a warmer place. But I did have tea, and things to read, and I was alone -- blissfully alone. So for two hours I sat and stared, eavesdropping, daydreaming, planning. Though absolutely, ridiculously frozen to the core, I was strangely happy. Perhaps this is a symptom of frostbite. But I choose to see it as a gift.

Abject Parental Failure
Last night we drove around with the Little Guy to see Christmas lights. This is easy in Seattle, even when your child goes to bed extremely early, because it's dark by 2:00 PM. Okay, not quite, but still.

Anyway here's the conversation we had in the car.

Big Guy: Look! There's a reindeer in that yard!
MomBrain: And look at the beautiful star!
Little Guy: What else is exciting to see in the world?
MomBrain: Uh, well, there's a giant Santa over there.
Little Guy: Oh.

posted by Marjorie
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Saturday, December 13, 2003

Like many men, the three letters that frighten the Big Guy the most are P - M - S. And like many women, I have one day every few weeks or so that our family fondly calls Black Rage Of Death Day. Now, over the decades, I have learned there are certain things one simply doesn't attempt during B.R.O.D. Day. (Don't even try to add an "A" or I will have to kill you.) So I do not know why I had to learn all these lessons again today.

B.R.O.D. Day is not a good day to go Christmas shopping. Especially if it's a Saturday. At Target. They are lucky I didn't firebomb the place. And I am lucky that security didn't escort me to my vehicle.

B.R.O.D. Day is not a good day to start (or even continue) a diet.

It is not a good day to deal with a 40-pound toddler who needs to poop but refuses.

It is not a good day to get tangled up in 20 feet of Christmas tree twine still knotted and dangling from the Jeep roof.

It is not a good day to pay the bills.

It is not a good day to write the family Christmas letter.

It is not a good day.

On the Other Hand

It's a wonderful day to curl up with a soft down blanket, a cup of tea, and the newest issues of Brain, Child and O Magazine.

It's a wonderful day to hear a compliment from the Big Guy.

It's a wonderful day to let the Big Guy do some of the most arduous Christmas shopping while I take an hour-long nap.

It's a wonderful day to take a l-o-o-o-ng hot shower in my Zen temple of a bathroom.

It's a wonderful day.

Screw that crap. Today pretty much just sucks. I am fat and slovenly and do not deserve to be loved. I hate everybody.

posted by Marjorie
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Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Question: How many world-renowned scientists does it take to put a corkscrew in a wine bottle?

Answer: Three. One to push, one to pull, and one to shout directions.

This is not a hypothesis. This is empirical data gathered this weekend when our neighbors kindly invited us to dinner. We were pleased -- we like knowing our neighbors. And so MomBrain found herself breaking bread with a physicist, an atmospheric scientist, and a neuroscientist.

I'd followed my usual routine of preparing for a party -- I read that day's newspaper and the current issue of People Magazine. But no one wanted to discuss Demi and Ashton, or Gwyneth's pregnancy, or the gaping hole in center field created by the departure of Mike Cameron. Oh no. We discussed the true freezing point of water. Whether quarks could be directly observed. Whether language capacity is localized in the brain.

I was holding my own, actually following the conversation, until we got to string theory. You see, everything in the universe is made of atoms. Atoms are made of neutrons and protons. Protons are made of quarks. So far so good. But stay with me here -- when you hit protons really really hard all the little tiny quarks go boinging out but then get pulled back in by the strings that attach them. (Hence STRING theory.) My brain flexed. I suddenly realized that at its most elemental level the universe is made up of paddleballs. You know, those little red balls on elastic strings that go boinging everytime the paddle hits them. I became obsessed. If I sat really really still, could I feel the little paddleballs? Could I see them with a super strong microscope? Did they make a pock pock pock sound? Are quarks red? And if protons are made up only of quarks, then what is the string made of?

The Big Guy and I agree it was probably the most interesting dinner party we've ever been to. They were very sweet, in a world renowned scientist kind of way. The seared ahi tuna steak was fab. The wine was plentiful. And they gave us a truck book for the Little Guy. But the paddleballs are still tormenting me.

posted by Marjorie
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Saturday, December 06, 2003

And speaking of action figures, our favorite conservative Ann Coulter has one.
posted by Marjorie
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This just in ... Mimi Smartypants is writing a book.* From her blog. Actually, the book is her blog. Or her blog is the book. Uh ... perhaps you can see why MomBrain doesn't write a book.

* In honor of Mimi, we will be using extensive footnotes today. Yes I know this is incomprehensible. Get over it.

MomBrain is shocked. No, not because someone is proving that you can do what you love and the money will follow. And certainly not because Mimi isn't a deserving author who should go on a book-signing tour ASAP and stop for a microbrew in Seattle (c'mon, Mimi, what's with the Miller High Life crap?). No, MomBrain is shocked because the publisher is in the UK. That's right folks, a British person has actually found American humor funny.**

** Note to all my British lurkers: please do not email me and accuse me of dissing the Brits. In fact, the reverse is true, too. Do you know an American who laughs with gusto at British TV? It's true that John Cleese is fab, and you can't argue with Fawlty Towers or Monty Python. And please -- Rowan Atkinson just slays me. But they are clearly exceptions. ***

*** Exhibit A: "Understanding British Humor," a list on Amazon's Listmania by the presumably American Kendal Brian Hunter, Sourpuss.

*** Exhibit B: Benny Hill.

*** Exhibit C: Britcoms. I once saw Dame Edna on TV and found it mildly amusing, but there were no guffaws rolling from my bosom. Ab Fab leaves me cold, sweetie. And Red Dwarf??? Sigh. The list goes on.

Anyway, congrats to Mimi. I will be stalking her at her first book signing and will even toast her with one tiny sip of Miller.

posted by Marjorie
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Thursday, December 04, 2003

Chit. I hab addudder code. Dis is so dot fair. How ab I gudda bake brutch Sudday? What about by book club? Subwud just shoot be.

posted by Marjorie
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Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Okay, so we found the phone, but I cannot tell you where or I will have to rename this blog MomDork.

Today I found myself at the local shopping shrine, floating on Christmas music and happily shopping for a weekend brunch with good friends. But I also found myself surrounded by women no bigger than size zero, sporting good hair and LA shades and wearing shoes that cannot have been purchased anywhere in this country. I was no slouch, so I was holding my own until I realized that these are women who live on salad. Heck, they probably split salads with their miniscule friends lest their stomachs expand to the size of a golf ball. These are not women who eat Fig Newtons and an ice cream sandwich for lunch. Not that I would. Ever. You know. Well. At least I don't eat ear wax.

posted by Marjorie
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Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Once again, the Little Guy reminds us of what is important in life. Here is a conversation I had with my builder in our kitchen while the Little Guy quietly ate his breakfast. At least I thought he was eating breakfast -- I should have known that silence is not always golden.

MomBrain: When, when are you going to finish this house??? I WANT YOU OUT!!!
Builder: But the tub is broken. And the plumber won't return my phone call. And I can't control that.
MomBrain: I don't care. It's almost Christmas and at this point your presents will be under my tree. Just tell me the final date and let's wrap this project up.
Builder: Well, I'll do my best but I can't guarantee when we'll be done.
MomBrain: Then I am withholding payment on your last invoice until I get an acceptable schedule.
Little Guy: Hey! Ear wax looks just like peanut butter!
MomBrain: (Diving) Stop! Let me get you a kleenex! We don't eat ear wax!

In other Little Guy news, he is very enamored with recycling trucks and the fact that recycling is different than trash. In fact, we play recycling games all the time. He has recycled all the shoes in the house. He recycled my coffee mug. He recycled Daddy's umbrella. So you can imagine what I am thinking now that our cordless phone has disappeared. I've looked everywhere, and the Locator beeper thingy doesn't make any sound. It's just gone, probably with all the Thanksgiving trash. Methinks the recycling man is wondering what that strange beeping sound is in the back of his truck.

posted by Marjorie
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Monday, December 01, 2003

What do you do when your darling husband gives your darling child chocolate milk at 9:00 PM? You kiss them both goodnight and tell them you will see them in the morning. I for one am going to bed. I for one am not going to stay up all night partying. Although I accept full responsibility for the absence of normal milk from the house, I will not be responsible for an over-caffeinated child on a sugar buzz who needs to get up early for preschool. Ooooh, I am self-righteous. I like this feeling.

Speaking of self-righteous martyrdom, the Lego scar seems to be healing, helped along no doubt by the outpouring of sympathy from my International Readership. (Thanks, Canada!)

posted by Marjorie
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