Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Two Commercials I Hate

I wanted to link to them, but since I couldn't find them instantly on youtube or the product sites, I won't. I have a really bad cold, along with two out of three other members of the household (the five-year-old is the only one not dripping at the nose), so I'm even lazier than usual. I just hope it goes away before Saturday when I have to start churning out four pages a day.

Okay, the commercials. I'll just have to describe them. The first one is for a Corolla, a car I like and almost bought before I got my Accord. It features an attractive young (but not too young) woman describing its features. These amenities seems to be summed up in double entendres that imply brains and brawn. She ends with the punchline: "Now if I could only find a man like that." Ugh. Seriously, can you imagine a commercial, even in our soft, lovable, needy-men, Michael Cera times, in which a man ended with a line like that? For one thing that would be offensive to us, wouldn't it? You're comparing a woman to a fucking car? Stop objectifying us! But, also, aren't we ever going to move beyond the time when a woman needs a man? I realize I am a married woman, and I do remember the pride I felt when I got engaged--a noxious superiority to my former loveless self and, by extension, all my still unpaired peers. Yet I recognized it as noxious, even at the obnoxious age of 27. I guess with this commercial, I realize it's still kind of true, that women do think like this, but I wish we wouldn't.

My joke to my former fiance at the end of the commercial was, "Yeah, then when we land one, all we can do is complain endlessly about him." Ha ha. But I wish it weren't.

The second one (Edit: I found it, although it's the short version) is one in a series of annoying Glade spots featuring this woman who seems to think she's fooling everyone into thinking she's fancy or a fabulous housekeeper (one or the other, the message gets a little mixed) but her secret is Glade (that last part should be whispered). The one that really irritates me has her (beautifully coiffed and dressed and) chipperly dispatching her (perfectly groomed) children to school and cheerful husband (in a spotless business suit) who is apparently driving them on his way to work. Because Mom's got a busy day of cleaning ahead of her! Then we see her squirting Glade's Febreeze-like product on various pieces of furniture, taking a leisurely lunch in outdoor cafe (with wine!), and engaging in various other female indulgences, like tennis lessons (!) (don't you only keep those secret from your husband if you're sleeping with the pro?), and I think the longer version had her shoe shopping or getting her hair done. The kicker, of course, is her sliding onto her couch at home just before (still cheerful) hubby arrives home with the kids. They admire the smell of the house and actually say, Wow, Mom, you must have been cleaning all day. The fact that her husband notices the Glade spray on his way into the kitchen and calls her out is the final wink.

So, what irritates me most? The implication that actual housecleaning can be successfully imitated by the use of one odor-masking product? The suggestion that stay-at-home-moms are tricking their families by pretending to have domestic work to do? I realize the indulgent and ultimately patronizing father-knows-best who seems to actually do all the work (paid and unpaid) is probably supposed to be a twist of some sort, but is it a twist we really need? (Men are actually awesome! Women are pretty but useless!)

Now I am going to scoop the cat's litter box, put my pajamas back on (which I only changed out of because I had a volunteering gig today) and crawl back into bed after setting my toddler up with some cartoons and popcorn.

No, seriously, I'm going to wake my husband up first.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Second Chance

Now I realize it was my own silly fault for yanking the story after 36 hours. I have not edited it further, so it still remains a story written over a 6 hour period with eating and childcare breaks.

The Acrobat

I noticed his eyes when I took his champagne glass. They were gold with a little green. Green-gold, which is an unusual color, but also there was something different about his gaze, or I wanted there to be. I looked back steadily without speaking and turned to take the glass to the bar for a refill. There was power in my gaze, there always is, but this felt different, too, maybe also because I wanted it to be.

Could I feel him watching me in any way that was unlike the way they all watched me? Walking in my elaborate costume which revealed the shape of me, the muscles defined from vigorous training, everything physical and female and yet somehow other than the bodies of their wives or the women with whom they socialized and worked. An illusion, I know. We are all flesh, and they must know it, too, but an illusion that had always worked and always would.

One of the rules is to let them believe it’s against the rules. That it’s spontaneous and forbidden and unique, when in fact everything is carefully orchestrated and we are taught how to negotiate every little thing. Artifice, all of it, and all for them, although even they have to know, really, that it’s a game, a transaction, like any other.

The other rule is never talk about yourself. Never tell them about being two months behind on your rent, your four-year-old kid sick with the flu, or how your daddy used to come in your room at night. Don’t, not even if, especially if, they might want to see you as somebody’s mother, someone’s daughter, somebody wounded, or some woman they’d meet for lunch at a cafe on a weekday afternoon. You are a mystery, someone who entertains but does not exist outside of her entertainment, your entertainment. You, for example, are someone who is paid to flip and fly through the air at a weekend party for the rich and powerful. You are someone they watch and maybe wonder, what would it be like to be with someone so flexible, so firm and limber. Such a tired fantasy, from your perspective, but for each of them, so fresh and exciting.

And some of them, not knowing that you could, you would, do just about anything for a price—that I would, could, do anything—only ask to caress the tautness of your thigh, which is almost nice, sometimes, except when it’s not. Except when you’re desperate, for money, for something touch can’t really satisfy, but is the only thing you can get. Or when you’re weary and feeling old and wondering what happens when you can’t fly anymore.


I wonder sometimes if any of them would have recognized me at the market on a morning, if it would even occur to them to look. Of course, that second rule helps. I am no real person at all, not one who selects fruit by hand by squeezing it for ripeness, not one who haggles over the price of fish. I look nothing like my entertaining self at the market, of course. Not in costume, my hair down or in a braid instead of the elaborate spray and pins affair. I go most mornings, like most people, although most of them, the party-goers, send others for them. Servants or assistants. They themselves would only be there on a lark. Let’s go to the market, they might say. Let’s blow off work this morning and pick out some ripe peppers. Perhaps we’ll cook tonight. Some recipe we saw prepared on television. It’ll be fun.

Meanwhile I take my bag home as always, with or without a child or two in tow. The child or two or not will go to the state school while I go to the gymnasium to train. As other workers head to the restaurants, the bus depots, the factories and offices where they labor the day away, I put on my plain leotard and practice the twists and jumps I will perform for tips on the weekends. I train with weights. I run. I stretch. I perfect my routines which should never be exactly the same, although similar enough for those who’ve seen me before to remember me.

There are many of us training at the gymnasium, and not all of us work parties. When I was younger I competed. I earned no salary, but my expenses—housing and food and clothing—were covered. I could have gone into the circus for a steady wage when I grew too old to compete, and might have, if something hadn’t caught an agent’s eye. The agents watch us and decide what best suits us, for what we are best suited. It would be too simple to say it was beauty. I do not think of myself as beautiful. I look in the mirror like all women and notice my flaws. My ears are not quite straight, so that when I wear shades, they are always crooked. Other little things like that. I think it is more a vulnerability or appearance of fragility, while it is often the opposite, a cold, hard inner shell that is not easily penetrated. Or something they know, because they are men, too, that appeals to men.

I would not say that the others who train with me, the circus workers, the young competitive gymnasts, do not judge me and those like me. But there is not much energy left for much disdain, as hard as we have to work. And there is the knowledge that there isn’t much choice for any of us. We have certain training and now certain skill; these are our options and we move through them as we are directed until we can’t anymore. Then, we don’t like to think what we will do later. What will become of us.

I have years left, barring injury, and maybe some others for whom I am responsible now, maybe more responsibility than I had when the state transported me to meets and games, and I had only my youth and promise. I don’t think about it often, except when I do, and then, too much.

Another rule is that you are not to eat the food and drink the drinks the guests do. This one is subtler but, really, relates to the other two. Of course you eat, you are human, but the guests never see you do it. You serve, you exist on another plane, you do not run in the same circles or perform the same cycles. This perpetuates your mystery, the wonder of your intimacy with them when you provide it. For you, of course, it is just your life as a worker. You eat separately, you perform your skill if you are lucky enough to have one, you serve food and drinks, you reveal nothing while appearing to be fascinated by every word they say, and sometimes you suck a stranger’s dick. It is all work, and you pretend none of it matters more or less than the rest. Except when it does.

I was lonely this weekend, which isn’t the way I like to be on the weekends. It is dangerous to be lonely at a party. I mostly leave my loneliness for the market mornings or the subway rides to and from the gymnasium, although that too has not always been without a consequence or two. At the parties, I almost always am able to lose my loneliness in the act, in the physical exertion of appearing to fly; the muscular energy required to provide the momentum and maintain the landing is usually enough to eliminate the emotion, all emotion. The exhilaration that I still feel from the motion itself and from the audience who sees me as something exquisite, something other, in a way that is different from all the rest of my transactions with the world, this is usually enough to block everything else. In some ways I am only me when I am flying, although of course that isn’t true. I do what I was trained to do, and after that I serve refreshments and do other things I have been trained to do.

I returned with his drink and met his gaze again with a smile. I suddenly felt my loneliness rise up and stick like a lump in my throat. I only lifted my chin a bit higher and recalled what it felt like to soar. It came through my eyes, I think, because he said, “You are remarkable. How do you go so high and still land on your feet?” The same question asked over and over every weekend, but maybe I wanted to hear sincerity in his voice, not just hunger for what I could do for him, so I smiled and shrugged.

“Practice,” I said. The same answer I always give, but I said it like it was the first time anyone had asked, as if he were really interested in me. Not in the me who goes to the market, who binds her wrists and ankles in tape for training, who may or may not sing a child or two to sleep at night, because that is not allowed, but in the me who flies. The me that on the weekends, more than the rest of the week, is the real me. The flying me who is, not to overshoot a metaphor, above the rest of the things I do. Especially the rest of the things I do for money.

The way you live, in a flat, in a building, with other workers, means you don’t cross paths with them very often. You are here and they are there, even in the same city or riding the same train. You know more about their lives because their lives are the ones written about in magazines and dramatized in movies. Your life is uninteresting to them because it is mundane. It is filled with the things that are done behind the scenes, without notice. The rooms which are silently cleaned, the trash which is mysteriously collected, the food that is miraculously prepared. You would resent it more if it weren’t such a solid and immutable fact of life. Of your life and theirs. Yours is to serve and theirs is to be served.

Yet. There is something human and real about handing another person a drink while looking them in the eye. Our fingers brushed and neither of us flinched or dropped our eyes. We connected in the same way that any two people connect or transact. Maybe, certainly, it was only temporary, but I felt exhilarated. How was this any different than any other weekend after I performed, when I mingled, and served, and pretended to be fascinated, and sometimes pretended to be persuaded to be touched or fucked? Only in perception, perhaps, only because my loneliness let me feel something beyond the confines of the script. The script someone taught me, and maybe the one someone, less formally, had taught him, too.

We didn’t move quickly. I took a seat beside him, eating and drinking nothing, of course. I had had water and bread and soup after my performance, in a back room, before washing away the sweat and freshening my make-up. I was not hungry or thirsty, although I would have like to clink glasses with him. To, even in this ridiculous costume, break bread with him. So I was not pretending when I demurred his offer of refreshment, but I was lying, and it made the loneliness sharp again.

I spoke into it, “Do you get to the parties often?” A standard, clich├ęd, acceptable question, but I felt like I wanted to know. Had he been here before? Had he seen me before? What did he expect from me? Even these were questions I asked myself every weekend, with every guest who engaged me, but this time they felt different, as if a part of me needed to know his—this green-gold-eyed man—his unique answers.

His smile was disarming, as were his eyes, and the way he looked down and spoke almost shyly. “This is my first one,” he said. He looked up with a crooked, nearly awkward smile. “I only got into this one because my supervisor came down with the flu.” I smiled with him, which brightened and straightened his mouth, and we seemed, for a moment, old friends sharing an old joke.

You can’t join their world, you know that. It’s not something you even dream about. You can’t put on a business suit and suddenly become a lawyer, a business executive, or a high-level government functionary, the kind of woman he might sit next to on a flight or marry. You cannot become his lover or his wife. This is not something you even want.

Your mother, who died in a flat identical to the one in which she grew up, the same exact flat in which you grew up; your mother, who worked double shifts to get your through your first training camps before the government saw your potential and took over the bills; your mother never even dreamed about that. It is true she also never dreamed you’d end up working parties, and you try not to imagine what she would say if she’d lived to see it. She did live to see your own flat, government-supplemented, nearly twice as large as hers, but still a worker flat. This was what she aspired to, to have a talented daughter, to see her in a decent flat, maybe to have her marry and have her own children with no need to work double shifts at the factory. Yet your life, despite the bigger flat, is not much different, raising your child or two on your own, working your own kind of overtime, but perhaps with less hope.


“Are you going to perform again?” he asked. An unexpected question, so I looked at him quizzically, not answering. He gestured toward me and then touched his own chest, suit-clad, with a silk tie. “Your costume,” he said. “Do you have another set?” He smiled the almost awkward smile again. “Is that what you call it, a set?”

I shrugged non-committally. “I might.” He seemed to be waiting for me to elaborate, so I said, “We don’t really know how long the party will last, so we are prepared if we need to. If we need to do another set.” This wasn’t true, not really, as everything about the party was carefully planned. The truth was the guests, we were told, wanted to see us in our costumes. It kept us in character. If we were not in character, of course, we would have had no business being at the party at all.

He was speaking again. “It seems, I don’t know, strange, for you to be serving me drinks.” He seemed to blush a little, and I had to lean closer to him to hear him above the chatter of the other guests. “I mean, when you can do that.”

My response, my trained response for questions for which I am not prepared, is bemused silence, so I smiled slightly, warmly, to encourage him to continue. I wanted him to continue.

He waited, too, then said, “I mean, I’m glad you brought me a drink. I’m glad you sat down to talk to me. I feel out of my depth at this party. You are being kind, I think.”

These parties are often held in houses, although compared to your flat, or even your building, these are houses of a different order, from a different world. The performances are often held in large banquet-style rooms, no stage, with the guests arranged at tables around the perimeter. Any equipment needed is set up in the middle. Any springs or mats or bars are placed and moved again for the needs of each performer. Like a theatre in the round. It is different than competing, but not so different once you begin your routine. Then it is just what you do, what you have always done.

The advantage of the houses are a multitude of other rooms for other aspects of entertaining among the elite.. Smaller rooms to eat more private meals or hold secret networking or power-brokering sessions. Some of the guests stay the night with their wives or lovers. Others only come for the evening, for the performance, but might need rooms for the quick dalliance. All of this is planned for; it is pre-arranged which rooms are for what purpose, and you, of course, know where they are.


“Kindness,” I repeat, leaning toward him again, because the guests around us are clapping for another performer. “To bring you a drink? To sit down to talk to you for a moment?” I smile and soften my eyes so that my words do not seem harsh or sarcastic. “I think you must be short of kindness in your life if that is how you define it.”

He blushes again. “Maybe kindness is not the right word. I’m out of my depth, I said. It’s true. I don’t know what I’m doing here.”

This is the moment when I could, if I wanted, touch his hand lightly, look up through my lashes, and ask him if he wanted to go somewhere more quiet. I don’t have to, nor do I have to do anything specific when we get there. I have discretion. I have choice. I could leave him and find someone else. I could even take the night off, although I would make only the tips from my performance and begin to alert my employers to my ambivalence. Which we all have, but can’t reveal, not at a party. Not while working.

I almost do it—touch his hand, ask the question—but the moment passes, and we sit in comfortable silence, watching the next acrobat. I know her, of course. We all know each other, and I tell him about her medals, her places in recent meets, more recent than mine, truth be told. He tells me about his company, details I store away for future conversational use. He tells me about his brother who has just gotten married, his father who has just retired and is going stir crazy without any meaningful work to do. He talks to me as many of the guests have talked to me, with no assumption that I would be bored, with no particular questions about my brother, my father, my life beyond of this costume, this performance.

Which is as it should be. The way it is supposed to be. The kindness has passed, the kindness which never really was the right word, anyway.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Whole Month of Nothing to Do

So why not write a novel, eh? I have to admit I'd never heard of this Na(tional) No(vel) Wri(ting) Mo(nth) before my friend announced she was doing it. Go ahead, say it, NaNoWriMo. Rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? (Not for me it doesn't. I've yet to be able to pronounce it without thinking of the order of the words.) At any rate, I signed up, too, with only a vague idea in mind and no notion of whether I can actually get a novel out of it. I know 50,000 words sounds daunting, but it's really less than 4 pages a day if you single space. I admit that's 4 more pages than I normally write a day . . .

I'm not going into this with the idea that on December 1st I will have a novel ready to submit to [publisher of your choice]. What I'm hoping for is that discipline will do my writing good, that I will get some ideas which could be turned into submittable stories with some editing, and that writing will do my mood some good or at least distract me from melancholy. Wouldn't that be grand?

This is the point in the post when I mock/criticize/humiliate my husband. Or at least that is the way he seems to see it every time I mention him in what I intend to be a humorous fashion. You know, like he's my comic effect. If this blog were a Shakespearean drama, he would be my clown. No? Not any better, Honey? I did try. At any rate, when I told him I was going to write a novel in November, his response was, Oh, no, you're not getting caught up in that NaNoWriMo nonsense, are you? (And, notice, he pronounced it correctly without even thinking about it.)

Apparently, his much longer history of wasting time on the internet has included blog and message board reading with former participants of the novel-writing challenge. After warning me that I will want to claw my eyes out (or something like that) after a week or two and Don't come crying to me on November 10th that you want to quit, he did manage a I-think-you're-crazy-but-if-you-want-to-do-this-okay-then kind of support.

Part of this might be my own fault, as I am not very vocal about my writing aspirations, even to him. I always thought that it would sound pretentious, especially if I rarely produced anything and never attempted to publish anything. At times I thought (and still think a little bit) that it's one of those aspirations from childhood, cultivated from being an avid reader, and nurtured by being an English major, that isn't realistic so it just fades away. Like you either become a writer or you outgrow it.

This is an example of (unhealthy) all-or-nothing thinking. Since I can't be a successful published novelist, I shouldn't even bother to write. Also it defeats itself, since I couldn't become the former without doing the latter. So, I'm going to try it. Next November I'll (hopefully) be working, so I'll have less time and more excuses. I could do it anytime, of course, but the online support is good and brings out my little competitive edge.

Join me if you dare.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

and another week slides by

I'm wondering whether I should start a fiction blog. Would it encourage me to write or just give me (as helpful husband suggested) another blog to ignore? Would anyone else want to be part of a group fiction/criticism blog with a password known to all of us participants? Comment me or email me. I know there are such things out there already, so if anyone knows of or uses one already, also let me know.

I removed my story after 36 hours because I immediately jumped to the conclusion that if no one had commented on it, that must be because no one could think of anything nice to say and so, because their mothers had taught them to be polite, said nothing at all. Probably premature and paranoid, but that's what I did. I have been (have I mentioned this a dozen times already) a bit down and I tend to exaggerate everything and wallow in the self-pity at these times. Extraordinarily unattractive, even to myself, which generates more of the same. Ugh. The only thing that keeps me from staying under the covers all day sometimes is that the kids need to be fed, dressed, and driven places. No getting around it. And that's probably a good thing.

I did take my comprehensive test on Saturday and am reasonably sure I passed. So that's good, one more thing taken care of. All that's left is the last internship (already arranged) and a 6 week course in the summer. If the internship could lead to a job, even a PT one, that would be fantastic. It is very discouraging to job search and realize I need another 2-3 years experience before I qualify for some $28K job. Hey, I'm not knocking $28K, believe me, I'd take it, but I guess just the general idea that someone who is providing mental health or rehabilitative health care services and has a MA and 3 years experience . . . well, you get the idea.

I am still doing a reasonably good job with exercising. Yoga tomorrow.

Oh, here's some funny. E. (the 5-year-old) was asking me all sorts of questions about the presidential candidates, probably because I listen to NPR in the car. I explained that "these two men" are running for president. I told her their names, and said, Oh, that's one of them speaking now, when one of them was. She began to chant, "I want to be president! I want the government!" over and over in a kind of deep, theatrical voice, her adult male voice. I guess she jumped right to the heart of things, the subtext of presidential campaign speeches. Brilliant child.

We don't really talk politics around her much, because I think it's kind of weird and unfair to make your children parrot your political opinions. Because they will, gladly, but it's kind of like training a, well, parrot. She was asking more questions the other night when we weren't in the car, so I asked her if she wanted to see what they looked like. I took her to johnmccain.com and barackobama.com and played the videos. I think McCain got a little love in that she thought he slightly resembled her granddad (not my dad whose hair is still dark) and I confirmed that he was a grandfather. Obama's video was a bit long (10 minutes) for her attention span, but she thought it was cool that he had kids, "little girls!" and she cannot get enough of his name. We must have heard "Barackobama" about a hundred times that night. I was a little nervous she was going to get in trouble for saying it over and over at her (conservative) (Christian) school the next day, but I think she'd moved on by then.

One of us will take her with us to vote, so she can see democracy in action and all that.

Oh and she was also interested in the process of moving in and out of the White House ("His family moves in with him?!") And earlier, whether the president had to die before we got a new one. Not usually, I said, no.

Little P., on the other hand, likes to say "Ayudame"; for those of you without kids hooked on the Dora/Diego franchise and/or fluent in Spanish, that means "(2nd person command form)Help!" She says this while playing with her animal toys, when she needs help getting out of the car, down from a chair, up onto something or when she wants to make us laugh. It works.

If we could just combine the two: "Ayudame, Barackobama!"

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More inconsequential complaints

And another five days pass . . . (The below was written last Friday, although I just posted it today because I was too grouchy to finish it and afraid to post it). I'm feeling a bit more sane. Probably PMS is to blame. I bought some Midol. (This part's just for the women, so Brother and Husband, skip to the next paragraph. Why does my period seem shorter these days but my PMS is much, much longer? It seems like half the month is wasted on crampy crankiness. I should probably ask my OB/GYN rather than pose it as a question on my blog. But she'd probably tell me it's perimenopause--can't do anything about that--or recommend BCPs. Bleah, although I kind of like the idea of those four periods/year pills . . . but then I remember I don't have health insurance.)

Welcome back, guys, although this may be boring to you, too. I did my next two-week weigh-in and . . . (drumroll) . . . no change. I guess the positive spin I could put on it is that without all this exercise, I'd be gaining weight. I should probably add a couple of more vigorous cardios into my routine (that's what the computer-generated wisdom of my real age report suggested), but now I've got a sore toe from that toe nail (damaged 2 months ago) being about to fall off. Ugh.

I had another job interview last week, but haven't heard anything, despite the interviewer saying she was going to contact all the candidates "either way". It was a good interview though, with a high level person at the (very large) agency who has the same degree (and licensure) I'm after. I think I will be able to put ATTN: Her Name on future applications to that agency. Once again the issue of not being done with my graduate degree may have been the confounding factor. The position didn't even require a Master's degree, but I think she may have been concerned about my potential commitment level. Plus she kept saying how busy I was, how much I had "going on". Because I volunteer for two places, which I only do because I don't have a job and don't want to be bored (and it makes my heart feel good, that too)? Because I have two young kids? Would she have said that if I were a man? Would our children and their ages be relevant if my husband were the applicant? Am I cynical to think that it would be a plus for him, that he would be seen as a "family man" instead of an over-strapped homemaker/grad student?

I have, however, secured an internship for spring, which may be a place I will want to/be able to work in the near future. The internship, as is customary, is unpaid and obviously sans benefits as well. We'll survive on my husband's conservative, mathematically sound gambling career, although no saving is going on around here. I'll still be applying as jobs come up, of course, and maybe I can take on another tutoring student.

A whole bunch of other stuff I've been thinking about, even entire composed blog posts in my head (usually as I tried to fall asleep), has been forgotten. I will not go so long between posts, that might help.

If anyone is interested in a rare balanced, well-considered discussion about abortion, I recommend checking out Dry Bones Dance.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ah, to be 32 again . . .

Yes, that's my real age. I restarted the test a week or so again and finished it. Ta da! I can't say there's a whole of difference between 32 and 36 (my real real age), except that I'm probably tired-er. Pragmatically, I have one more child, a house payment (although not much in the way of equity, thanks stock market/mortage crisis/general financial meltdown), and almost another master's degree. I've probably gained a bit of weight since then, but everyone's bored of that by now. I do remember going to my G.P. when E. was just over one (and I was 32) and asking about anti-depressants (again). So, I wasn't necessarily happier. I know I have good habits and a good family history (disease and longevity-wise, at any rate), so 32 was about what I expected.

The other internet quizzes about longevity I've taken seem to indicate I'm going to live into my mid-nineties, which I guess is good. The downside is that my partner, who also likes to take dumb quizzes, will be lucky to make it to 80. So I should probably prepare myself for a significant widowhood. Unless of course I remember that these are all dumb quizzes.

What was I mulling about in my mind over all these 2 weeks of blog silence? Unfortunately, not much. I'm trying to get in my last-minute studying, so I don't have to retake the comprehensive exam in the spring. I take it next Saturday, so that won't be an excuse for much longer.

I joined Facebook, just so I could get ONE friend to write me back (she kept saying, join Facebook and then wouldn't return my emails). Now I have one more thing to check, one more way to waste time. I don't like it really (Facebook, that is, not wasting time, which I do seem to like). It has a strange interface that doesn't seem intuitive to me. Plus I can't see the point or pleasure of sending someone "pokes" or "hugs" or whatever strange non-communicative animation you want. Plus all the people I want to check out have closed sites--I have to invite them to be my friend before I can look at all their probably disappointingly boring info. That takes all the fun out of stalking, doesn't it? Of course, it's not even stalking anymore. It's like networking. Or even friendship, sort of. I don't want to reconnect with random high school dude or chick, I just want to see if they're married or happy or in touch with anyone else or not. And I don't really even want to know that stuff. What the fuck am I doing?

Truth: In the course of writing those two paragraphs, I have had to get up twice to tell my children to go to sleep. The older one is the one who comes out, to tattle- tale on the younger one for "not going to sleep." Sometimes we think she's genuinely trying to go to sleep and the little P. is all wound up and bothering her. Other times we suspect she's winding up said little P. so that we'll come back there and give them some attention, negative or otherwise. The second time, tonight, I screamed. Yep, I'm a screamer. Today has not been a good day for me and screaming. The little P., who we thought was over her cold + diarrhea kick and cleared to return to underwear, pooped on the floor. Second time this week. And not an easy clean-up. I screamed then, too.

It's not that I (rationally, intellectually) believe that a 2-year-old who has a previously documented upset intestine is trying to ruin my dinner-making process by pooping in her pants and then jumping around in her room as it leaks out. It's just that it feels that way. The incident happened when my partner (he of the shorter life-sentence) was out of the house picking up the Chinese food which would be our dinner while I was steaming spinach and broccoli for the little people in our house who don't like brown or garlic sauce on their vegetables. And tonight, just now, when I had to go in for the second time (really, it was the third, but the first is almost obligatory now and accompanied by desperate bonhomie), he was out filling up water jugs or buying beer. Maybe both. And I wanted to finish my G-D-mn blog post!

And then there's the cat, who won't let me type a single word without either swiping at my hand on the keyboard or batting at the screen, whose mysterious production of type seems as captivating as a live lizard or cockroach. MUST-KILL-TINY-MOVING-LETTERS-IT'S-APPARENTLY_INSTINCTUAL.