Wednesday, October 26, 2016

I'm just like Sia. You will not break me.

That thing where you read the email from the kid’s kindergarten teacher that you have to turn in “family box” items TODAY, 7 minutes before your kid leaves the house. And you, swearing and cursing your lot in life, start maniacally culling pics from your instagram and sending them to the printer, only the printer jams, because of course, and you are shouting at your oldest to bring you a lego piece, ANY LEGO PIECE, to stick in the bag, only he brings you a special piece so you send him back to find a shitty piece, one that no one cares about, something his baby brother can glue to a box that represents his family. And then you’re thinking while running up the stairs with scissors in your hand to retrieve the precious printed photos, that the kids like sparklers, and there are some on the back table, and is it illegal to send your child to school with a sparkler? I mean, it’s not like he can light it with his mind or anything. Is that my period? Am I starting my period right now? That seems early. Make note to go to bathroom once kids are safely in car with precious family items that reflect our love and values. And as you crest the stairs you realize the fucking printer is jammed because PC LOAD LETTER it’s Wednesday! And girl you are going to get through this. SO you shout to your youngest, who is still not eating his breakfast, to find some art supplies, any art supplies, the ones in that bowl in the thing that we were using the other day, because that shows that our family likes to do art, and you have to go, and it’s family box day, so please for the love of everything that is holy learn to put your socks and shoes on by yourself right now, and I swear to god I will volunteer at a soup kitchen for thanksgiving. The whole family will! We’ll all do it! Because that’s the kind of family we are. Can I send him with one of those union rescue mission flyers? Have those started filling my mail box yet? He won’t know what it is, but he’s five. He’ll just glue it on there and his teacher will be like “awwww, being of service is a thing in their family!”. Fucking paper jam. It’s ok, you’ve got pictures of him at the beach with his bestie and him in an elephant costume with his brother, he doesn’t need a picture with his parents. Maybe she’ll think he’s like one of those tv kids who lives in a penthouse with a bunch of other kids and a nanny (because the picture of the babysitter printed because of course) and no parents. Fine. We’ll remain a mystery. Maybe it’s better that way. 

Ziplock bag Contents (minus unfinished lego set with instructions that you had to dump on bed because we don’t have any empty ziplock bags because why would we have anything useful at all in this house?!)
6 pictures of child with friends, babysitter, and giant bear
one red lego square
one disneyland button that says “I’m celebrating” with Goofy’s face on it. 
17 assorted googly eyes, assorted gems, sequins, and one ironman cutout (this probably banned from school property because violence on tv)
1 glitter star
1 untracked glow stick, size skinny

1 curious george reading a book image cut out from his (and previously older brother’s) crib sheet used for preschool naps. This contains the tears of youngest that it was cut out even as you explain that there is a lot more sheet and you were planning to cut it up to make a quilt anyway and please stop crying and I love you and have a great day and bye daddy, sorry.  

I'm already 2 hours removed from the event and I've tricked myself into believing that it wasn't really that bad. But I'm going to watch this video on loop today just to remember. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Clovercita for Black and White and Red All Over

Prepare yourself for a deluge of sentimental sop. It’s been like, what 2 years since I posted here? Might as well have been a life. There’s nothing to be said for my absence. I HAD ANOTHER BABY AND I THOUGHT LIFE WOULD GO ON AS USUAL. Inevitably, life tumbles back to stasis, or entropy, depending on wether you’re a glass half empty or a “hey where’d my drink go?” kind of gal. 

I’ve been busy, bored, anxious, flip, untoward, and lacking in minutes. But I’ve missed the writing. Even though I’ve done a little bit of this and that, I’ve missed the verbal vomit of which the internet is so accommodating. At this point a mom blog feels as relevant as pet rock or a bandana tied around my Guess jeans (Punky4evr). But you guys, we’re clearly all descending into madness, so why not do it together. 

For the record. I might have just listened to the BBC thing on Burroughs, who I don’t give a fig about, but it might have sparked a memory I once had about a creative life. A creative dangerous life I was going to live. No one wants that lady for their mom…

But here I am, living in this funny limbo of art and commerce. I don’t know what 23 year old me would make of this life (hey, we finally have a really nice couch!) or what 73 year old me will make of it (probably could have gone a little easier on the snark and the jeggings). But I’m making stuff. Making commercials, making webisodes, making tote bags, and now…making greeting cards. YOU SHUT UP. 

Our brilliant, funny, creative friends used to own a shop here in LA called Uncle Jers, that was the best. It’s gone now, and they’ve moved on to greener pastures. They have a  greeting card company called Black and White and Red All Over, whose cards you can find at Paper Source, and Urban Outfitters, and cool gift shops all over. The schmancy kind in the vellum envelope. Last fall they asked me if I’d write a little line for them. Write jokes. Once I’d stop grinning ear to ear (3 days) I sat down and wrote. I wrote in the car, I wrote in the middle of neglecting my children. I even wrote one in the ER with Charlie on Christmas Eve, bc that’s how you do when you’re a mom. If you can’t laugh at this shit…”hey’ where’d my drink go?”

So here’s the sentimental part. When I was growing up there, were a few small shops in Ann Arbor that were EVERYTHING. Middle Earth (now gone), Generations (now gone) A Peaceable Kingdom (moved to Main street) and Caravan in the Nickels Arcade (magic). My friend Misao and I used to buy tiny Hagen Renaker ceramic animals in there. They were glued to little pieces of card stock with the price, and we would stand in the window and try to pick the one we coveted the most. Remember the little duck butt? 

Last week, our friends got word from their rep, the stores who had purchased my line for them at gift show at the Javits  Center in NYC. He was reading the list of stores (Posman Books in Chelsea, Grand Central, and Rockefeller center. Cursive in ABC Home and Grand Central) and off handedly said “oh you’re from Ann Arbor, right? Caravan?”. I’m not gonna lie. I put my hand over my mouth, probably flushed as pink as a tomato and walked out of the room. I didn’t cry, but I almost did. Strange to have a far off piece of your childhood insert itself into your grown up life, in such a delightful way. 

Sometimes I have a disconnect between the things I make and their existence in the world. Once I make it, and it’s out there, it no longer belongs to me. My image, my sewing, my jokes (I’m still giggling typing that). But the thought of a card (a fancy one in a vellum wrapper, and a mint green envelope) being sold at one of my favorite childhood shops, feels as close to artistic mortar as maybe I’ll ever have. My parents could walk in there one day, and buy a card. MY CARD. That says: 

postscript. I know there's a little dark schmutz in the middle of every picture. I took it with my iPhone instead of a proper camera bc CHILDREN. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sitting Shiva

Or in my barrio we say "sitting Chivas". Olé!

This friday evening, can we just take a moment of silence to mourn the fact that this still exists:

But this does not:


Monday, March 11, 2013

In my continued effort to dress myself down for being a human being...Family Dinner

I'm not alone in wanting more family dinners with my kids right? I mean, I'm not alone in being guilty of making separate meals for them and allowing them to eat them at the coffee table in the living room while watching a movie, so that we can eat like civilized people at 8 after they've gone to bed. It's not like they want what we're having anyway. And it's not like these bills, laundry, school lunches, emails, and stinky bathrooms are going to take care of themselves. We DO sit down for family dinner several nights a week, but I find that it requires so much effort on my part, that most nights, though I know the benefits, and enjoy it immensely in the moment, it just doesn't happen.

Family dinner requires thinking ahead so that there are the proper ingredients to make a meal that your whole family will eat. A meal that your whole family will eat. I've already lost myself, and I'm guessing a lot of you.

In our house, we have me, who likes:
 tacos, indian food, pizza, thai noodles sushi, cheese plates, pancakes, nuts in everything, and wine

Nipper Knapp who likes:
sushi, salmon, cheeseburgers, indian food, pizza, pancakes, is allergic to nuts, and IPA

Jack who likes:
quesadillas, toast, fruit, pizza, chicken nuggets, pancakes, and goldfish crackers

Charlie who likes:
Oatmeal, turkey meatballs, scrambled eggs, pancakes, pizza, and all fruit.

Please note neither of my children will eat pasta or soup or vegetables. LORD GIVE ME STRENGTH. If someone comments and tells me to melt cheese on broccoli, I can't promise I won't wreck the place.

The boys and I out for pancakes last week. Out for pancakes because our kitchen had no bacon. 

You see where this is going right? If we could all live on pizza and pancakes we would. Actually some weeks we do. Thank god for Nipper and his green smoothies (me=hypocrite I KNOW) or none of us would ever poop ever.

Yesterday at Trader Joes, I found myself with a shopping cart filled with snacks and wine. No real ingredients for meals. $176 of NOT food. It's not all junk, I count fruit and yogurt, and the stuff for smoothies as a snack, but still, nothing to make a meal. A friend told me she grocery shops once a week. ONCE. Huh? One of us goes almost every day. I was freaking out about this the other day, and Nipper Knapp said "meh, it's very French to shop every day". Uhm, yeah, if I was riding my bicyclette to the boulangerie maybe. But I'm driving le prius to Trader Joes every day for stuff like apple crushers and ouefs. Merde.

I can't lie, I was never a foodie. I didn't scour the local farmers market looking for escarole (which I still not sure is a fish or a lettuce). I was never able to whip together gourmet meals from what was in the kitchen. But I did enjoy food of all kinds, and I enjoyed trying new recipes. I miss Thai food. I miss curry. I miss tapas night with garlic, and stinky cheese. There used to be some variety in our diet, and there used to be some adventure. There used to be time, and mental space for thinking about food. I don't want to blame the kids. It's not their fault. It's mine, right? I could have forced them to eat the things I love. I could have left the bowl of Phat see ew in front of them at every meal until they learned to like it, but I'm not that mom. So now they eat kid food and I'm afraid they always will.

I'm always envious of people who are amazing cooks. People who's kitchens are the true center of their homes, and whose kids bok choy. I have been thinking about having a breakfast nook built in our kitchen. Kitchen renovation will solve all my problems! (that was the sound of Nipper fainting) It would give us extra kitchen storage, and a cozy place to sit, do homework, nosh. I have this fantasy of my boys sitting there reading books and coloring while I make some Barefoot Contessa style feast that they both love. We sit and we eat, and the boys say the darndest things. We laugh and carefully note them, remembering to write them in their baby books, so we can all laugh about them later. When I confessed this daydream to another mom recently, she replied laughingly "oh I know, it's all so Leave it to Beaver!"

But is it? Is it an absurd and outdated notion that I want to enjoy food with my family, to teach them to enjoy each others company? Is it really all just going to be meals on the go, and faces in screens? I know, I'm starting to sound like such a MOM, and one of those whoowhoo people that want to touch your chakras, but dudes. My boys are still so little and it's only going to go faster. Soon they'll want to have dinner at a friends house, or in their room, or none at all because they have after-school activities, or are fasting for political prisoners somewhere (I have high hopes for their evolution). So I've got to get to it now.
one sausage, one veg, and one everything for us! 

Last week I had to make 2 pans of lasagna for the teachers at Jack's school. Only because I had volunteered for this, did I make one for us as well. I knew the kids wouldn't eat it, but if I was going to be in the kitchen, why not cook for us as well. This is part of the bad thinking that gets me into trouble. Why am I willing to cook for guests, but not for myself and my kids? Nipper Knapp and I got three dinners out of that lasagna, and even though they ate something else, 2 out of those 3 were attended by both kids. We laughed, told stories, played a round of "what is Charlie doing" wherein we all do exactly what Charlie is doing. It was mom heaven. And it doesn't happen enough.

I must find a way to make our brains think 7 days out, and force myself to cook a meal, and have them help, when what we want to do is anything but, because we are exhausted. I have to force myself to not be paralyzed by lack of will, fear of ingredients (is this the thing that will be on the list of things that will kill us all this week, and if so should I just feed everyone more goldfish, which will obviously kill us all), and the inevitable bad dinner, where it doesn't go over, and everyone is cranky, and no one sits for more than a minute.

And I have to remember that there's nothing wrong with all of this failing from time to time. Because frankly sometimes Mama wants to eat a bag of goldfish with a glass of wine in front of the tv instead of the organic quinoa and brussels sprouts feast that I sprang on them last week.

Is anyone out there feeling my pain? Or do the rest of you have a live in chef? You do. I knew it. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

mix mix mix

Every night Nipper Knapp makes a smoothie. Every night. Am I opposed to this? No. Do I have a problem with kale, or berries, or the intermingling of soy milk, and frozen peaches? NO. I don't. Don't I want him to be healthy? Don't I want him to live FOREVER?! YES! YES I DO!

But something happened. I dunno when. I can't pinpoint the day. Don't know the last time I was able to tune out the once gentle whir of the blender. The last time, I didn't mind pausing The Daily Show, not once but 3-4 times, so the smoothie would be just right. The day it felt personal. One day, I realized that every time he said "you want a smoothie?" I started silently planning ways to destroy him. At first it was just a chin tuck and an eye roll from the other room. "No thank you". But at some point I became openly hostile. It was volcanic. Not explosive, just the rushing hot magma of marital contempt. "Smoothies?" he would text innocently from Jack's room after he heard me leave Charlie's bedroom to go downstairs. "I'm having wine" I'd write back, but I might as well have said "WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO CRUSH MY SOUL, AND WHY CAN'T WE JUST RUN FREE LIKE WILD PALOMINOS?!" And then imagine me on the stairs doing an elaborate full body, arms raised, "why god why" move. Nipper Knapp would call this a spastic seizure. I call it a tiny fissure.

I don't know much. In fact, I'm pretty sure that there's a chronic leak in the portion of my brain that once held important facts. Stuff like, the inner workings of a bicameral legislature, and how to fix my hair like I did the summer after college. But here's the thing about marriage. It's a marathon, blah blah blah. If you are a trained runner, someone who wants to be in the race, it's not the distance that kills you, it's the tiny blister left untended, or the unusually high temperature with not enough water, or some other banal detail, that can be your undoing. "We could have kept going, but for those fucking smoothies". Right.

One day, after much sighing (me) and much apologizing, and I'm sure eye rolling (Nipper Knapp), we both realized it is a stupid problem, and said it out loud. "You hate my smoothies." he laughed. "I hate the sound." And we came up with a solution. And this my friends is how two people grow old and completely the same kind of crazy together.

Poor Nipper Knapp, look at this face. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Twinkle Mouth

Our dear friends, and old neighbors are in a band. It's an 80's band, and it's awesome. If they ever come to your town, I demand you put on your Frankie Goes to Hollywood tee and go see them. Great show. When we were in SF over the holidays visiting them, they had just gotten these cards printed, so I took one to put on our fridge at home. 

Tonight Jack took the card off the fridge and wrote a practice note to Santa inside. He says we have to send it to him with 2 quarters inside. I told him we don't bribe Santa, but he insisted. He drew a picture of a cookie, then a tiny pic of Santa's face.

He said "Look mom, a cookie" and then "there's Santa, twinkle mouth, sad eyes". 

"What? What does that mean"

"wait, let me draw it on the back, bigger." 

He does, and then, pointing "See? Twinkle mouth, sad eyes", and then gave me a look, like, "you get it now?" and walked away. 

Yeah yeah kid, that's right, red coat, white, beard, twinkle mouth and sad eyes. That's how Santa has been described since always. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Oh to have your problems

At every stage of my life I have looked back at my younger days and thought "oh to have those struggles, what a fool". I was thinking this kind of thing when I was nine. I actually remember thinking wistfully about "baby problems" somewhere around 6th grade. 

I worry about Jack. He's like me in so many ways. He has WAY too much angst for a 5 year old. Actually he has way too much angst for a human, much less a 5 year old human. The list of things he worries about it endless, and unpredictable. I find myself trying to plan, and explain things for him so thoroughly, and inevitably I fail to mention some tiny thing, or fail to imagine, that some aspect of an activity will cause him CRIPPLING anxiety. Then I fantasize about how I used to be able to take drugs when life got crazy or unmanageable. Then I snap back to reality, and try to talk him off the ledge because, really he is going to be FINE if Miss Alison (the apple of his eye), or ANYONE ELSE ON EARTH walks him, the 72 feet from his classroom to his after school taekwondo class, that he loves. Instead of mommy or daddy coming in the middle of the day, for the 32 second walk from his classroom, to his taekwondo class, THAT HE LOVES.

This of course does not happen in one sitting. Or even one afternoon. This tragedy unfolds over days and weeks of us talking around and around, trying to get to the nut of what is happening. Until finally after 3 weeks of asking every 3.27 minutes, "how many days until taekwondo?" And "what is the plan for taekowndo?" And "who is going to walk me to taekwondo?" Which we establish over and over, HE LOVES! We finally get to the bottom of it. "I don't like to listen to the other kid's names being called, and knowing their parents are outside, and they are going home with their mommy and daddy, and I am going to taekwondo" (WHICH YOU LOOOOOVE!!!), he finally croaks out in between sobs, one afternoon at the kitchen table. OHHHHHHH! I get it. Poor bubs.

How bad is your life when your biggest problem is that you love your mom and dad so much, that you hate to think of other kids getting to be with theirs, instead of going to learn how to kick ass Korean style.

I ask him if there is something he can occupy himself with while the kid's names are being called, if there is any way to maybe solve this problem ourselves. "I could read a really long book!" he exclaims. I want to eat his face. "Yes! I think that's a great idea! We'll tell Miss Alison our plan tomorrow! Right before pickup, you grab a long book, and start reading. Do you feel better? Good. I love you"  And I do. But, god, I want to rough him up a little. How on earth is he going to get through dating, and braces, and libertarians?!

The next day, I see his teacher in the morning, and I begin to explain our problem, and proposed solution. She cuts me off at the pass. "Actually I have a plan, because he's not the only one who is struggling with that. I have decided that I will personally walk them all over to taekwondo BEFORE parents get here for pickup." Done. So...he is not alone. I am not alone.

I am always isolating myself like some uninitiated teenager, when I have a hard time with something. I stupidly believe I am the only human being to ever struggle with say, mom fatigue, actor self loathing, or, "oh my silly husband doesn't seem to understand that stockings don't go in my pants drawer just because they go on my legs-itis" (yes, this IS the most passive aggressive way I could think to tell him). Yup, I'm the only one who ever felt like they were failing miserably at work/mom/marriage balance. Apparently I've never heard of Oprah.

And frankly, Jack is my easy child (for now). This morning, I discovered, that no person in the history of humankind has ever experienced as much despair as Charlie Tru when you try to put a pair of socks on him. Socks! Soft, cozy bamboo socks. I mean, you would think I was trying to saw off his leg with my teeth. Good thing we don't live in an actual cold climate, because it looks like he will be spending the winter in crocs with no socks. Heh, baby problems.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

no YOU shut up

Yesterday Nipper Knapp told me that I should just change the name of my blog to But he's stupid (at least 12 I.Q. points ahead of me for his ability to remember every single thing that has happened in every single sport. Ever. I'm just jealous.) (Also he went to UofM which gives him a point or 2 just for sheer volume of students...) And maybe he's just mad because he saw this in the downstairs bathroom last night:

Paint chips just make Nipper Knapp ANGRY!!!!

I'd love to know if this kind of things fills him with apathy, dread, fury, or secret excitement that someone wants to give him a brand new mint green pissoir. I'm so generous.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Jacaranda house

See how nicely the dark wood looks against the blossoms? That's how my wall will look with persian violet gates! 

Trumpets! We have a winner! After buying SEVEN different colors of brown samples, for the brick wall, I finally chose one. The ONLY one that Nipper Knapp said he absolutely didn't want. But hear me out. The other ones looked too poopy, or to drab. The lighter ones, that I thought I'd love looked like nursing home spit up. I chose Willow. Nipper Knapp thought it was too grey and would look like cinder block. BUT...I had a revelation.

We both agreed that red gates would be cute, and they always say a red door will help sell your house and make it look like a home. The problem with that is we are not red people. We are blue people. Green people. Sometimes pink and orange people. But never red. It didn't go with anything about us or our house. It made everything seem very traditional, and our house is anything but that. I even tried a "parrot red" that had a lot of orange in it. But next to my lavender plants, the jacaranda tree, and purple and turquoise pots...Hey! That's when I had the revelation. We could paint the gates the same color as the jacaranda blossoms!

I didn't even have to go to the paint store. I have an entire drawer FILLED with paint swatches. I took the purples out in the yard and matched them as best I could with a fallen blossom. The true match would have been something too close to a unicorns and rainbow outfit I had when I was 9, so I went with a slightly more subdued Persian Violet. It looks amazing with the green, brings out the jacaranda. Brings UP the brown in the Willow. AND it goes with ME! Oh and Nipper Knapp says he actually likes it. Hooray! WIN!

Great. Done. Well except the painting part. When am I going to get a chance to do that? Who fucking knows. I'm a working mom you know. But aren't you proud that it only took 2 weeks to pick the color? Well, 2 weeks of talking, and a year before of thinking. Someone pat me on my em effing back. Then take my husband and kids for a long walk so I can eat ice cream on the couch in my underwear without being mauled. Daughters don't maul you right? They just sit nicely on the couch with you until they are 9, and then they tell you your'e whole life is a lie. I could live with that.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I need a hero

You've heard this one before. Girl meets boy. Girl falls in love. Girls get's married, buys house, has babies, loses identity, goes creatively adrift, girl's husband insists she take grueling acting intensive to get her mojo back, girl is filled with dread, but goes. Acting intensive is scary, rewarding, and yes grueling. Girl remembers that husband is best friend in the world, and possibly saver of sad previous single life. Girl smothers husband in fit of grateful hugs and tearful kisses due to lack of sleep, emotional instability and gratitude. Husband laughs at crazy wife. Baby does something adorable, kindergartner says something brilliant. Ray Charles sings... You've heard this one before. Right?