Sunday, December 30, 2012

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve

So, a month has passed! Of the thirty days I hoped I'd write, I wrote 28, which is an annoying near-miss but not as annoying as it would have been if I had written 29 blogs. I came up with a name for these short blips from my life; Quinnstagrams. I'm disproportionately pleased with having thought this up.

But now it's not just the end of a writing experiment, but the end of the year. Wasn't an uneventful year; in fact, I'd say it was downright lively. We had the trip, and the other trip, Daughter streaked further away from any math I understand and Consort was clever about things which I can't actually explain. And then there was the book, and the Atlantic exerpt, the Wall Street Journal story, the Huffington Post, the TIME magazine story...

(In case you ever wondered who the hardest-working marketing person in publishing is, it's Melissa Broder.)

Good things happened.

Of course, there were also people who hated me, and hate my book, and think I wake up a half hour early every day just to bask in what a terrible parent I am. That happened, too.

And, in the end, another book is born and is off leading whatever sort of life it's going to lead, Daughter continues to blaze away learning more and more baffling things, and Melissa Broder goes on excelling at book-marketing. Consort will continue to improve businesses and occasionally fix the dryer (whoever wrote in suggesting the dryer would fail again, HOW DID YOU KNOW?). And me? Well, I'm back to where I started; figuring out what I do next, what I write next. Turns out that having written doesn't seem to lubricate the process for me; I'm cellularly certain I won't think of a book to write, and knowing I've transcended this feeling twice before makes not a whit of difference. I'm not intrinsically wired for any kind of faith and have all the courage of a guinea pig at a German Shepherd family reunion; my default path is "Don't screw things up." But I've tried that road too often in my life, and I know  "Don't screw things up" quickly becomes "Don't do anything at all."

I had a pretty good idea of what 2012 would look like and while it was far better than I could have hoped, it was still the 2012 I had penciled in. Next year? No idea. If I want another adventure, I'm going to have to think it up and play it out; no one else can do this for me. This is galvanizing and terrifying and, candidly, I'd probably skip it were it not for one person; the kid. Every day that I wander around this house I'm showing her what it means to be an adult of the female persuasion. I need to show her that being an adult doesn't mean not risking, or learning something new. I don't want her to be the kind of person who measures out her curiosity with an eye-dropper and decides there's some age where she's locked in to her life and the rest of her life will be calcification and contraction. I want her to be cheerful, resilient, and adaptable; it behooves me to try for those characteristics as well.

Whatever your holiday was, I hope it was glorious (If you're Eastern or Greek Orthodox, I hope it will be glorious).  And for everyone, may the the upcoming year be sprinkled with familiar and unfamiliar delights and that we all find some moxie and grit just when we need it.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Machine Head

It's been a long day, and not just for me. Consort has been doing some computer version of a colonoscopy on this computer and they are both a little worse for the wear. Also, last night Consort fixed the dryer. The household objects are celebrating the season the way they always do; by grumbling and emitting a worrisome burnt-plastic odor. I'm in my usual state when he does household-ish things very ably; 51% impressed we didn't have to hire anyone and 49% concerned there might be a quiz about all those technical bits he droned on about.

I'm not entirely certain but I think he said the dryer needed a new defibrillator. Possibly the dryer's depilatory has died. Now that I think of it, it might have been the dictator.

But at least he caught and removed a couple of nasty polyps in the RAM before they came to anything.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

And He Keeps Them Pearly White

A brief public-service announcement:

If you live in Los Angeles, please think about making your indoor-outdoor cats indoors only. I've heard no fewer than eleven stories of cats being killed in their front yards in the last month, in houses from Pacific Palisades to Pasadena.

[Actually, I heard of a coyote trying to grab a morbidly obsese chihuahua as well, but couldn't lift him over the fence. I can't decide whether that's a "Protect your pets" story, a "Don't let your dog get nearly immobile from fat" story or a "On second thought, a chihuahua shaped like a planet might die from a heart attack but at least won't be hauled over the picket fence" story. So I'm leaving it out.]

The coyotes were here first, and they are getting braver with each passing year. I've seen them running down the sidewalk in Hancock Park, a neighborhood locals know is nowhere near uninhabited parkland. They're eating our trash as snacks; let's not make their job easier by leaving their entree waiting.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Yeah, I'm the Taxman

Ryan Murphy and his husband David just announced the birth of their son.

In case you don't know who Ryan Murphy is, he's the producer of a little show called "Glee." He also produces "American Horror Story" and in the past has produced other shows which have run a very long time. This man has an annual salary which would make the government of  the Ukraine look on in envy.

He also produces a show called "The New Normal," about a television producer named Brian and his partner David who are, at this time, expecting their first child, a boy. The house on the show is apparently based on Ryan and David's actual house.

(I don't stalk them. I really don't. I read that in a checkout line and was filled with a Ukraineish envy that some people live like fancy people on television live.)

This leads to the boring-yet-persistent question rattling around my head which readers who are also CPAs can answer:

Can he just write off everything as a business expense? I'm not talking the lunches; everyone in LA claims all meals are business expenses. I mean could he try to argue that "These aren't RYAN cashmere socks, they are BRIAN cashmere socks" and "These olives I bought at Trader Joe's are going to be worked into a story about how Brian hates olives and the toilet paper is for the guest bathroom whose television doppleganger will figure prominently in a story arc"?

Not that I think he buys his own toilet paper.

Not that I think about rich people's bathroom habits.

I honestly don't.

But I must admit I'm now thinking about how insanely nice his towels must be.

This is why I can't have nice things like celebrity gossip. I fixate on the wrong part.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

This upcoming year, may everyone be as happy as a cat in a box.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wrapper's Delight

You'd think after all these years, my present-wrapping skills would have progressed. But no; once again, I'm going to have to imply I was in dual wrist-casts until Christmas Eve.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It

The Christmas party had a dessert table; ergo, I was next to it. The host brought over a friend of hers to meet me. He'd seen "The Goodbye Girl" recently and had just Googled me to make sure I wasn't dead.
Well, he said "To see what you were up to," but I think we all know what that means.

We briefly covered how I wasn't dead, wasn't acting, wrote a bit, and then moved on to how I knew the host couple. I said, "Their son and my daughter have been friends since they were three" and then lunged purposefully at some shortbread.

"Oh!" he said, pleased, "Is she around?"

"No," I said, crunching, "she's coming later with my partner."

He smiled and asked, "Is she your biological daughter?"

Being as I was busy finding a dried cranberry which had jetted from my cookie into my sleeve, I nodded yes without thinking much about what he said. Then, it played back in my head. My biological daughter? Was he an adoption lawyer or just gunning for Weirdest question ever asked a former child actress? Then I played back what I had said and realized Oh, I'm a lesbian.

This is not the first time I've been a lesbian; I favor flat shoes and have sporty wardrobe leanings. But, ironically enough, it took finding the love of my life-- but not marry him-- to finally secure me a position on the Sapphic softball time, because of one word:


There are a few reasons to get married and I approve vigorously of all of them. If your religion calls you to that ritual, know that I'll be there in proper clothing, actual heels and a tissue for dabbing my eyes when I cry. If you marry because you are unapologetic romantic and proclaiming your love in front of your friends makes you happy, I'll bring two tissues. If you are getting married for tax or insurance reasons, I might even give you a high five, such is my joy in saving money. But here's a reason very few people mention; it's nice to have a title. Everyone understands what the words husband and wife mean. They may not want one-- they may be writing a check every month to one of those they used to have-- but there is no thought involved in deciphering these people's relationship to one another. The world understands these people have entered into a sort of a contract and might have gotten a breadmaker out of it. But if you are, say, us and you've had years and years together, and a child, and have seen one of the people through two books and the other through graduate school and you've collectively had pets but not a marriage, what are you? I refuse to invoke the word "Boyfriend," not the least because Consort, while lively and opinionated, is not a boy and to call him one would imply I don't understand what the word means. I won't call him my "Sweetheart" because I am not a Lladro figurine and I won't call him my "Lover" because I am neither Brazilian nor a Real Housewife. Obviously I'm fond of the word "Consort," but it only works on the page; I use it in person and anyone who understands what a Consort is thinks I'm delusional and anyone who doesn't thinks he has a weird first name.

This leaves me with "Partner," which I actually like. It creates a picture very much like our lives, where we work together, filling in for the other's weaknesses, protecting each other during ordeals, building something worthwhile together.

Of course, it's also the thing many lady-loving ladies call their better-halves as well.

I thought about clarifying this, but couldn't think of a graceful way to say "You do understand my partner is an outie and not an innie, right?" Even correcting his misperception that  I was gay seemed overly political, being as I had just met this man's husband. I chose to do what I usually do around dessert bars, which is eat something. I smiled politely and wished Consort would get there soon, because if I knew anything about my partner, he was really going to like this story.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mama's Little Baby Loves Short'nin Bread

I'm an indifferent cook. I can pull together a few things, but ultimately the grinding reality of three meals a day, seven days a week, month after month after month after month, makes me want to lie down and call the Thai place. Intermittently, this bothers me and I rouse myself for up to a week at a time before sliding back into the entropy of veggie burritos. In between my sparks of conscience, this failing on my part periodically bothers the child. Recently, for several days in a row, she brandished recipes at me. I'm not completely without wit. Eyes squinted, I said "You want me to cook like Aunt Laura, don't you?"

(The kid's aunt is one of those graceful people whose family eats well all the time and she's such a wretch that she doesn't even brag about it.)

"Well..." she hedged, and then nimbly turned the subject back to the card in her hand.
"Look! Only four ingredients!"

"You're right," I said, glancing over the recipe, "In fact, you could make this yourself. You're old enough. I'd be there to assist, but you could start making a dinner a week."

Daughter looked at me, at the recipe, at the stove.

"See," she said, after a beat, "I like thinking about cooking more than I actually like cooking."

I grabbed her and hugged her close. I started to speak, and cleared my throat.

"I know, baby. I know. Let me show you where the Thai restaurant card is."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Now I Don't Claim To Be an A Student

A teenage girl said to me this week, "I kind of wish it was still the 90s, when it was cool to do badly in high school. Back then, I'd have gotten into Columbia."

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Slacker Nostalgia.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Let's Give Them Something to Talk About

Two actual sentences the kid had to translate for her Chinese final:

Your dog is good looking.

I do not need a doctor; I need a lawyer.

If anyone is ever required to conduct Sino-American diplomacy based solely on awkward first sentences, I believe you'll know where to find her.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Low Hangin' Fruit

Once again, it is December. Once again, it is fruitcake-mocking season.

We fruitcake eaters, we band of rum-soaked brothers, would like you to know a few things:

1. If there are brightly colored fruits in there more suited to decorating the top of a child's Shirley Temple, it's a terrible fruitcake. Please do not blame the entire extended clan of liquor-soaked cake for that line. Do you malign William Faulkner and Eudora Welty because you've heard Honey Boo-Boo's mother mumble something? Would you never eat a ganache because a Twinkie turns your stomach? Do you refuse to watch "30 Rock" because of Stephen Baldwin?

2. I have actually heard people say "My aunt brought a fruitcake she got at the gas station." Well, yes, now that you mention it, you can buy things pretending to be fruitcakes in some weird places, and it's reasonable to speculate that faux-fruitcakes are often sold in places which sell medical supplies because the worst of them make excellent hemorrhoid cushions, but let us not judge where something ends up against its will.

3. Fruitcake has cultural legs. The original idea for the cake has existed in some form or another since Roman times. There is no continent save Anarctica which doesn't have some version of it. You know why? It's fruit soaked in alcohol baked into a cake. It's like a food-maze where every exit leads to sugar. You can eat a thumbnail-sized portion with a strong cup of black coffee or tea and coast on that artificial sense of well-being through four malls.
Say what you will, fruitcake-haters, but my people and I will have the last laugh.

And it will be 80 proof.

Monday, December 17, 2012

And the Southern Girls With the Way They Talk

Like many, I enjoy the SNL skit "The Californians." As a native, I appreciate how they get our need to enumerate our freeways, our habit of mouthbreathing during moments of stress, that our lower-rent rehabs are in Palmdale. That's the kind of detail we natives respect.

I did, however, watch it with a certain remove. I don't sound like that. Not for me the uptick at the end of every sentence, the verbal rise which can make saying your own name sound like an identity crisis.

"Hi, I'm...Quinn?"

No, I have overcompensated for that so fully that I have been accused of being the vocal model for Siri. I am woman, hear me drone. Most people assume I'm from the Upper West Side of New York; I'm fine with that. I love my city, but not for me the Los Angeles drawl.

And yet, tonight I heard myself say "I'm going to take out the trash," and thought When did the word 'trash' develop three extra A's in the middle? Without so much as a "Like, can I come back?" Los Angeles lunged back into my mouth and caused me to sound as if my plans for the rest of the year involve getting high and evening out my spray tan.

You know what I say to this?


Sunday, December 16, 2012

If He Hears, He'll Knock All Day

In the event I am ever unable to find my cats -- even after shaking the dry food and even after opening a can of tuna -- I will not worry, because I will have one final failsafe method to find them.

I will go into my bathroom, I will shut the door and I will remove some vital elements of my clothing. Within ninety seconds, there will be twenty pounds of two cats slamming (SLAM) themselves (SLAM) against (SLAM) the (SLAM) door (SLAMSLAMSLAMSLAM). This will also involve crying; not all of it will be from me. Within seconds, the door will slam open and the missing felines will barrel in, looking at me reproachfully for having entered the Sanctum without their approval. If history is any indication, they will then look at my undressed parts in a vaguely nauseated way and start speed-punching the toilet paper.

If I go to the bathroom and am left alone, I will be able to safely declare them dead.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gotta Serve Somebody

The kid views a gingerbread house as a cunning serving-tray for candy.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Walk This Way

I dithered for a while about whether to write what's hurting all of us so much right now, what deserves our prayers and attention, or to instead recognize that our hearts can be broken as a people, as parents, but we might want to think about something less awful for a few minutes.

Let me introduce you to Raoul, my walking buddy. Raoul was brought into the rescue group where I volunteer; we were told he was a Chihuahua. This made sense, as he was short, brown and opinionated in the way I associate with a Chihuahua. Then, he grew. Rather, his torso remained the same, but his legs doubled, then doubled in length again. He was Chihuahua on his mother's side, and on his father's side? Atat. With this extra legness came more energy and stamina than you would find in a platoon of caffeinated Marines. To volunteer meant all the usual challenges of working with multiple animals (smells, cats carrying on about low-blood sugar, more smells), plus Raoul repeatedly jumping four to six feet in the air next to them, screaming for attention. That doesn't make people want to volunteer. I can't always work with scores of cats, what with being weakly dependent on respiration, but I could take him for long walks.

I said, "May I take Raoul for long walks?"

As it happens, I could take Raoul for long walks. It's possible the dog and I were pushed out the door before I finished the sentence.

Raoul and I are well-matched for walking. Our dog likes about a two-mile walk, at most, preferably with his fiancee Qloe the Pug (Yes, Qloe: my friends' nine year-old daughter named the dog), because neither of them want to do anything more than amble for a bit before snoring. I enjoy those walks, but for cardiovascular integrity, give me a spindly brown maniac in a harness collar. This is not to say the walks are without care; Raoul has...issues. First, Raoul and I have a favorite walk about a ten minute drive from where he boards. Either in the ten minutes getting there or back, Raoul vomits. Every. Single. Time. We've tried not feeding him, we've tried taking him for a preliminary walk before getting him the car; all for naught. I crate him and then tie down the crate; these provide the dual benefits of possibly exposing him to less motion and, once any motion at all bothers him, corraling the vomit. Looking back, I had some high-spirited friends in my 20's who could have used a crate on certain Friday nights.

Then we arrive at our walk, and Raoul is delighted. JOYFUL. ECSTATIC! We do the first mile on his steam alone, my flapping behind him like those blow-up figures at car lots. That is, of course, unless we meet a very attractive female dog. Oddly enough, according to Raoul, we've never met an unattractive female dog. They are, to a bitch, unbelievably desirable and would be offended if Raoul didn't honor their appeal by trying to have sex with them. It's nice when he tries to make sweet, sweet love to a Rhodesian Ridgeback, kind of like watching a spider climb the Chrysler Building. I unhinge him from the future Mrs. Raoul and we dash off in pursuit of another worthy Eve to his overheated Adam. He's been fixed for months; let's stop to consider how many canine decathletes we've saved the world.

In those  moments when it's not sexy around here, it's sometimes very angry. Raoul has two bĂȘte noires. The first - bicycles - is obnoxious but acceptable. There is something about the sound of a bicycle which inflames Raoul's very marrow; that they continue to bike past him, fleeing his canine opera of rage, only confirms to his that they know what they did. We're working on that by feeding him treats as the bicycle goes by. After all, it's pretty easy to know when a bicycle is coming. Start the snacks ahead of time and, with any luck, by the time I'm sneaking the kid's Valentine's candy, Raoul will be indifferent to bicycles.

The second quirk makes vomiting in the car only the second-most obnoxious thing he does. Raoul hates Hispanic men. Show him someone who strongly resembles a figure in Mayan artwork and Raoul loses his mind. This is troublesome on a number of levels:

1. Unlike bicycles, people don't always make noise as they come towards you. Sometimes my first clue that there's a blameless Hispanic man who just turned the corner towards us is Raoul screaming. It's hard to get his attention once he's settled in to screaming.

2. The city is awash in men who look like Mayan figures. I also live in the neighborhood where many of the Mayan-appearing people live, which I had never really thought about until Raoul brought to my attention.

3. I am a suburban-looking white woman, attached to a dog who is about to have an embolism over his loathing of a man who has done nothing more interesting than have olive skin and a strong bone structure. No matter how many times I look horrified, smile apologetically and force Raoul to sit, I cannot help but think all of the east side of LA thinks of me as "That white lady who trained her dog to kill Mexican people."

And yet, I still walk him. Why? I'm not sure; I don't actually like him very much. But I know the more he gets walked, the more likely he is to become less peculiar and become winning enough to be adopted. It's nice to have someone temporarily in my life who thinks a seven-mile hike sounds swell. And he needs me, but in a manageable way where I can't disappoint him. And on a day like today, when I feel so helpless and frightened, there is something very cheering about grabbing the crate, putting in the vomit towel, and making something's life a little better.

CODA: People have asked to see Raoul. Here he is. We tried getting a picture with legs in it, but then a bicycle being ridden by a Hispanic man went past.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Giddyup, Giddyup, Giddyup, Let's Go

It's not really a holiday season until I've screamed "WAIT! We only have two bottles of wine in the car; what about the third party? And this isn't the tin of cookies to donate to the fundraiser, this is the tin with the extra Christmas lights! AND WHERE IS THE DENTAL-THEMED SECRET SANTA PRESENT!!!"

This is why every January 3rd, Consort sings his traditional anthem, You Know, You're a Lot More Fun When You're Not a Holiday-Checklist Maniac.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On and On, On and On, On and On

Daughter finished her work and grabbed "The Hunger Games."

"That's good," I said dryly, "Because something might have changed in the story since you reread it last night."

I then noticed the book in my hand. A book about the British royal family. Pardon me; another book about the British royal family. Unless the writer has discovered a previously dozing Plantagenet, I was going to know every single detail, every paramour, every red-hot poker stuck up the anus of a royal favorite in that book. I was one to talk.

I also realized that the longer I teased her about people named Katniss and Peeta, the longer I'd be kept from people named Ethelred and and the armies of Georges, Williams and Edwards.

Which is to say, we headed towards our respective rooms to read what we already knew we loved.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Cleanest I've Been

There are just the three of us in the house, as far as clothes-wearers go. The cats do not wear clothing, no matter how many times Daughter tries to convince herself otherwise. The dog gets his stuff dry-cleaned.

And yet, I feel as if I'm not completely done with laundry. Never caught up. I can't even dream of being ahead of the laundry. I know this has something to do with air-drying most of our clothes, but it's still getting a Sissifean quality, which baffles me because we're such a very small family, at least one of whom can go to work in pajamas.

(That's me. The kid dresses for school.)

 SO, I have to ask those of you with big families; do you just never stop doing laundry? Do you inform loved ones they can make everything last 2-3 days, if for no other reason than the water-heater has begun to sob? Or do you make all the most socially-confident children wear paper underwear?

Sorry I Cannot Hear You I'm Kinda Busy

What is it about the sight of me on the phone and the sound of me saying "I'm going to talk to Stacey now, who I have not talked to in six months. Everyone please leave me alone" which makes every carbon-based life form in this house have a question which only I can answer, and only in the form of an essay, an intepretive dance and a quick trip to the store?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Jack Frost Nipping At Your Nose

Consort has laid down a decree: It's weird to buy a Christmas tree on a day where one could wear shorts.

So it appears we won't be getting our tree until February. In Utah.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

They're Gonna Be All Right

It began with a father eager to have his beloved daughter hear his favorite musical. He had very low expectations it would take hold, what with it being about a cannibalizing serial killer and her being  an easily grossed-out 10 years old.

The kid had the entire libretto of  "Sweeney Todd" memorized in a week.

"You liked 'Sweeney'?" Consort said happily, "Let's see what you do with this one."

She had "West Side Story" memorized in a week, and briefly developed a habit of yipping the way the Puerto Rican girls did in "America."

Then "Gypsy."

Sorry, no. Then "Assassins," then "Gypsy." It's easy to forget whether it's killers before strippers or strippers before killers.

Then a kind friend of the family lent her his entire CD Sondheim oeuvre. Which lead to, among other things, my 12 year-old recently singing a heartfelt version of "Here's to the Ladies Who Lunch" as she fed the cats.

She knows Sondheim's musical director's son played John Hinkley in Assassins. She knows Merrily We Roll Along, a show which ran for 16 performances. Her current favorite Sondheim lyrics are "Sometimes she drinks in bed/Some times he's homosexual." She has sung this softly in public on occasion which has caused other parents to look at me oddly. Again.

Well, as someone once said, Isn't it nice to know a lot?And a little bit.. not.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Rich Gentlemen Have It, Boys

Could someone please alert Santa that I could really use several salads under the tree this year? I've already settled into the aggressive stupor of the holidays where pumpkin bread is a fruit or maybe a vegetable and counts as a healthy breakfast and who ate my caramels?

Now if you'll excuse me, this coconut milk-eggnog isn't going to drink itself and I do need to keep my fingers free so I go online and buy some drawstring pants.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Time, Time, Time, See What's Become of Me

Sometimes in my darker moments, I fear that my highest gift as a parent is the ability to get the kid places on time.

In my lighter moments, I think "You know, that's kind of an awesome ability."

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Listen to What I Say

It's taken a while, and Saint Nick knows there were a few contenders, but in the end, there is only one Worst Christmas Song:

"Do You Hear What I Hear"

I know, I know. Someone just piped up about that extended whine/lisp about two front teeth; or that voyeur who caught Mommy macking on Santa Claus; or the ghastly Grandmother/Reindeer set-to and yes, those songs are horrible. But those songs started their life as awful songs. They were conceived to make the thought of chewing tinfoil preferable to hearing them twice in a row. Of course, the songwriters called that quality "cute," but as some people call Honey Boo Boo "cute" and some call her a "harbinger of end-times sucking back a Mountain Dew," we mean the same thing. Those songs - deathless as they are - never pretend to be anything with gravitas, meaningful or even in English.

"Do You Hear What I Hear," on the other hand, thinks it's something. It's got a story to tell and, darn it, it's a Jesus-y Story. But, see, it's actually less a story about the Son of God who came to earth for the benefit of all mankind and more the story of a son of a man who came to songwriting for the detriment of similes.

Let us consider:

Said the night wind to the little lamb

Do you see what I see

Way up in the sky little lamb

Do you see what I see

A star, a star

Dancing in the night

With a tail as big as a kite

With a tail as big as a kite

A tail.

As big as a kite.

A kite.

So out in the desert, one Wise Man looked up and said to the other two Wise Men, "Say, it is just me or does that star have a freakishly short tail? That's got to MEAN SOMETHING!"

And these Wise Men. Let's see what the songwriter has to say about them:

Said the shepard boy to the mighty king

Do you know what I know

In your palace wall mighty king

Do you know what I know

A child, a child

Shivers in the cold

Let us bring him silver and gold

Let us bring him silver and gold

Perhaps this is my decade-plus in the parenting trenches talking here but the child shivers in the cold and the Wise Men arrive with metal? Was the songwriter implying they would smelt him into warmth? Sure, the writer had to work with the story as written and needed a rhyme for "Gold," but without even trying, I'm thinking he could have noticed the barn was "OLD," perhaps a bell had "TOLLED," the frozen bedding wouldn't "FOLD." But, no. The infant Jesus is at risk of dying of exposure and we're all going to pray these perhaps inappropriately-named Wise Men will realize that gold not only warms babies if carefully piled on top of them but can also purchase blankets.

But hark! Here comes another clunky and mystifying simile!

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy

Do you hear what I hear

Ringing through the sky shepherd boy

Do you hear what I hear

A song, a song

High above the tree

With a voice as big as the sea

With a voice as big as the sea

The sea isn't completely quiet but there's a reason the sound of waves hitting the beach is used as white noise for nervous people. Barring Superstorms, it's pretty consistent, not too much variation in tone. In fact, one might correctly say that, in the best possible way, the sea drones. Or maybe crashes. Or maybe slaps. Here's something the sea never does: ring. I have friends who sail and if they were out on the water and heard a ring, they're first response would be "EXPLETIVE! We hit a buoy!" Are we to assume by these lyrics that God hit a celestial buoy?

And then the writer brings everything to a group-hug conclusion:
Said the king to the people everywhere

Listen to what I say

Pray for peace people everywhere

Listen to what I say

The child, the child

Sleeping in the night

He will bring us goodness and light

He will bring us goodness and light

Well, that's a lovely thought, but what king do you mean? It's useful to note that the "k" in the lyrics I'm looking at is lowercase. So, do you mean Herod, songwriter-person? Because, if you follow the story -- the one without God stubbing his toe on a skybuoy -- Herod's hope for Jesus was to kill him. Herod was the Voldemort of the Nativity. I know you needed to end on an up note, songwriter, but deciding Herod was kind of like a Jimmy Stewart in sandals strains credulity and makes me punch my steering wheel. I'm nearly a heathen and I know about Herod. Did no one do some Scriptural version of spell-checking this?

Add in a pace best described as "Turtle blood-flow" and the whole thing is like a funeral march for joy. And hope. And rhyming. I'm still staggered this writer worked in the same language as Leonard Cohen, Stephen Sondheim and the person who wrote the Chili's baby-back ribs ad.

And his estate made five times what I did last year. That's what I hate about the song most of all.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Give Me Land Lots of Land Under Starry Skies Above

1 Adult male who works in the technology sector, with the resulting books and paperwork, often from home.

1 Adult female who writes from home and works part-time with three different charities, all of which have paperwork or fundraising materials.

1 Junior female who homeschools with many books, has three sports, all of which have equipment, and multiple hobbies and interests, all of which either require materials or generate materials.

1 subscription to The New Yorker, every issue of which the Adult male and Junior female love and swear they are going to finish, which adds to itself weekly.

1 short-haired cat and 1 long-haired cat, who have a few accessories but mostly have hair.

1 lavishly-furred dog, who has special food which can only be bought in bulk and his pills.

Five computers, three of them laptops, all of which have cords, apparati, extrusions, and generalized hangers-on.

Several previous computers which, while no longer with us, have left their cords, apparti, extrusions and generalized hangers-on here as a memento mori, because Adult male isn't entirely certain which ones are still good.

A box emblazoned with the words BUILD YOUR OWN V-8 ENGINE. Adult male and Junior female began this project seven years ago. No one has touched the engine in five years. It's now become a place to store the magnifying glasses.

What you might not have noticed in that list was storage space. That's because we don't have any. We stayed in a gorgeous but not overly-large apartmentment in New York this summer; that kitchen had more storage space than our kitchen does. I can get more in the trunk of my car than I can in our linen closet, which is why my trunk is currently housing my summer clothes and the used batteries to go to hazardous recyling which no longer fit in my freezer.

I know all this.

And yet.

And yet.



This week, I reanimated my Costco membership.

So I can now add to this list:

A cubic yard of pasta and an ottoman-sized contained of dish soap.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Are You a Teacher of the Heart

Do you live in LA and have a child in your life who loves to write?

Do you live in LA and have a child who needs to work on his or her writing skills?

Do you like things which are excellent and also free?

May I introduce you to 826LA. They have volunteers in every weekday, afterschool, to help with homework and on the weekends, they have workshops on all sorts of writing topics; graphic novels, spoken-word, hip-hop, the future and the past.

All free.

The kid took a bunch of them, always came out smiling and frequently came out with some interesting work. This is the page for an upcoming workshop we've had great luck with in the past:

The DIY Holiday Workshop

Join us for this year's 826LA/Hammer Museum DIY Holiday Workshop! Students will invent a holiday (last year's was Arbitrary Mammal Day), create its folklore and heroes and traditions, then write and perform songs commemorating its (brief) history.

Tell me that doesn't sound a little cool.
 Even if you don't live in LA, the group is in several other cities; they might be near you.

Monday, December 03, 2012

My Little China Girl

Actual conversation my daughter has translated from her Chinese workbook:

Person 1: Long time no see. You good?

Person 2: I very good. You are how?

Person 1: I also not bad. This weekend you want do what? Want not want play ball?

Person 2: Play ball? I don't like play ball.

Person 1: We go watch play ball, how is that?

Person 2: Watch play ball? I don't think watch play ball has much interest.

Person 1: You want do what then?!?

Person 2: I want eat, sleep.

Person 1: Fine. I go with someone else.

She still has no idea what the Chinese word for blue is. But at least she's fluent in Awkward Social Interactions.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

I Go Out Walking After Midnight

I sighed in a pining way and pointed to the computer screen.
"I cannot tell you how much I want this," I said to Consort.

"And I," he responded, "cannot tell you how much I look forward to sitting there watching you use it."

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Great Glorious Day

Twenty five things have gotten done today, very few of which add to our lives but all of which threatened to detract from our lives if ignored. We battled traffic in three area codes to make these things happen. Afterwards, we sprawled in a lumpen stupor around the house. My eye lit upon something.

"It would be glorious-"

Consort leapt to his feet, crouched in a catcher's position and barked, "Bring it! Bring the heat! Bring the household chore!"

Sometimes I suspect I've lost some of my mystery. This saddens me.

On the other hand, the pile of papers is being attended to and I can always rest assured Consort has no idea what I'm saying when I talk about different kinds of slingbacks.