Not dead yet

My god, I've been sick. I'm so healthy most of the time! I must save up my allotment of not-so-hot feeling days and then have them all at once, once a year, when my immune system's feeling just a little too smug. I could see it coming, days ahead, it was like a slow-rolling tsunami. I had plenty of time to cancel appointments and pack, tell my boss things weren't looking good. It hit in the middle of the night, and all my hatches were battened except the one where I had to take Jackson to school the next morning. There I was hunkered down over the espresso machine, making our usual morning coffees, a double cappuccino for me and a 12-ounce travel mug of milk with a shot of espresso for Jackson. (What, he likes coffee. I put half a packet of stevia in his because otherwise he'd demand four lumps of sugar, which = no.) We got in the car.

"Mom? Are you okay?"

"I don't feel very good."

"You don't look very good."

"Thanks, honey."

I was hanging on pretty well, as well as you can hang on when you feel like absolute death. I really shouldn't have had that sip of coffee, though. Nausea was not a welcome companion on our journey. Neither was Jackson's morning playlist of Eminem's greatest hits, even played at elevator-music level.


"Mom, are you okay?"

"I don't feel very good."

Jackson put his hand on my arm as we drove. He's such a nice kid.


And in my head I'm all, "Help me, God, help me Oprah, help me Tom Cruise, use your witchcraft on me." Except quietly and without punctuation. Helpmegodhelpmeoprah. Tomcruiseuseyourwitchcraft. Prayforusnowandatthehourofourdeath.

It was just comically awful: me feeling like a shit pancake, my son cheerfully programming his playlist of problematic white genius hip hop mayhem, my dog quietly farting in the back seat.

Naturally, I wasn't done. I had to drag my animate carcass to CVS because Alka Seltzer Cold Medicine is the only thing that works, they don't even have to pay me to say that, I will spread the word for free. Buy that shit. When the nice cashier says, "How are you today!" just croak, "I'm so sick" at her and she will give you your change with horrified fingers, it's been proven in laboratory experiments time and again. I'm not even sure what that means.

I guess I must have made it home, and then I woke up and it was 2:00 p.m. And now it's Friday, I think? How are you?

Yes, I was too sick to use a glass.

Fortunately, before all this went down I managed to put up another post at Babble, this one being a review of the latest J.K. Rowling book written in the form of Harry Potter fan fiction. I'm not sure what I'm going to do for an encore, I'm only halfway finished with Gone Girl, but maybe the cast of Twilight will have some opinions on it.

Good Lord, My Son Has a Lot of Stuff On His Bed

Pillows, for instance. Jackson has, like, fourteen pillows on his bed. The other day I said to him, "You know how many pillows I had on my bed when I was your age? ONE."

He hugged me with pity. "I'm sorry, Mommy. Here." He let me hold the fluffy pink heart pillow I gave him for Valentine's Day. It helped. A little.

Of course, I'm the one who bought him all those pillows. He's an only child, we let him co-sleep for a couple of years, and the only way to keep him in his bed at night now is to throw fourteen pillows, nine stuffed animals, and a dog in there with him. It's less lonely that way, sort of, if you turn sideways and close one eye.

Occasionally, just for fun, I try to explain to him how when I grew up we were middle-middle class, but as my father worked his way up we became lower-upper-middle class. This got me into a better school, but somehow it never translated into more pillows on my bed.

I think my parents taught us to be embarrassed by luxury. The most decadent thing they ever spent money on was airfare. After my father retired from his career of selling office supplies, they went to Europe a few times. Not first-class, but my father always trusted his own taste, and his taste was for whatever was day-old, two-for-one, or half-price after 5:00 p.m. So our family vacations usually revolved around a sixteen-hour, straight-through, non-air-conditioned drive (with me lying on my sleeping bag in our car's the back window, waving at truckers) from Denver to grandma's house and back again ten days later.

One year we were outside of Lincoln, Nebraska, when my mom fell asleep at the wheel. I was nine, I was sitting on my dad's lap in the front seat letting him read Farmer Boy over my shoulder when all of a sudden we veered from the fast lane into the grassy median that divided us from oncoming traffic, hit a small rise, and were flying through the air. When we landed we burst all four tires. We had to spend two nights in Lincoln while the car got fixed, us kids happily swimming at the hotel pool. That's also how I ended up seeing Funny Lady, a movie I liked that I never would have been taken to otherwise, as our family's taste in film ran more toward exploding car chases than musical comedy. Maybe everyone had had enough excitement with flying cars that day.

Anyway, this summer, I'm thinking about introducing Jackson to the exquisite torture of the long-ass car trip to Grandma's, Santa Barbara to Denver via any number of desolate, 115°F landscapes. A torture mitigated by the Nintendo DS, the portable DVD player, and the iPod. And air conditioning. And the comforting presence of pillows, stuffed animals, a dog, a cooler full of mildly caffeinated beverages, and me, his mom, whose long-distance driving stamina was built on never, ever experiencing another long moment of airborne disbelief.


"Last night my husband, Jack, and I went to a last-minute "Let's Eat Lasagne and Watch the Last Episode of the Sopranos" party at which our son, Jackson, was the only little kid. I'm not sure where my head was during the brief invitation-acceptance phase of this party, except that I must have thought something like, "He's almost six! He'll entertain himself!" This is an unfortunate tic I have that started the day after Jackson was born and I kind of just assumed that if he was hungry he'd go to the kitchen and make himself a sandwich. Yeah, so kids? They're more time-consuming than I'd originally thought . . ."

If you want, you can read the rest over at Babble.

I feel like my posts are a little stiff over there. Like, I have to explain everything and make a good impression or something, I don't know. Either it will work or it won't, but for now it's a good place to stash all the parenting stuff that I've been sparing you.

For the record, I thought the last Sopranos episode was a let-down. I was hoping for some big explosion of change, like Furio would come in and shoot Tony in the neck and whisk Carmela back to Italy? I guess until I get my own show on HBO I'll just have to suck it up and watch the last season on DVD, I missed a whole bunch of TV death while I was in Denver.

Three Things

First of all, I got home last night and found that, hey! After having been gone for three weeks, Jack had managed to keep a plant, a tortoise, a dog, a child, and himself alive, keeping the house looking good while balancing everyone's nutritional needs, cleanliness, and the demands of a more-than-full-time job.

"Plus, I got almost all the blood stains out of the carpet!"

Secondly, everyone should go to Amazon RIGHT NOW and buy a copy of Mr. Patrick "Bad News" Hughes's new book, Diary of Indignities. My copy was waiting for me when I got back home and it looks great. I guess you could go to his Web site and read a lot of the stuff in the book for free, but that wouldn't put the several dollars in his pocket that he deserves for living through all that shit and still being sentient enough to write it down. Plus, the book has a nice heft to it, and there are glossy pictures of his dad struggling to get into a Batman costume that you can cut out and frame. I'm going to buy an extra copy and do just that!

Thirdly, I guess I've crossed over to the dark side, or whatever today's youth are calling it when you go get a gig as a Professional Blogger. The good people at Nerve are paying me to write about kids and stuff over at Babble. Of course, I put up my first post last night, road-weary and drunk on my own power sake, and then I woke up sweating in the middle of the night going, "WAIT JUST A GODDAMN MINUTE. I just wrote a post about my own kid that I should have posted on my own site but now I can't because I signed over the RIGHTS TO HIS CHILDHOOD?!" That kept me awake for about five minutes (hooray for exhaustion). But seriously, did I just make a huge mistake? Or I guess I can NOT write about Jackson over there, just, uh, general kid stuff? Fuck, I'm so tired I can't feel my face, I shouldn't be allowed to sign contracts. Oh, well. I'll get it figured out. I like earning money, after all! Who doesn't?

Anyway, I'm not sure the new blog, a.k.a. "California Breedin'", has even officially launched yet, I don't see a link for it on the Babble homepage, so maybe they're not sure about me yet, I don't know.

Fuck. I've got about 8 million loads of laundry to do. Have a nice weekend.