By Ann Brown
Next April, when I turn 60, I will be eligible for senior services, including moving into the Jewish old age home.
This is awesome news.
A nice apartment, a restaurant on-site, a cleaning service, transporation to anywhere I want to go in Portland, and an emergency call button next to the toilet. Really, is that senior residential care or is it HEAVEN? I do not understand why anyone wouldn’t want to live there.
Fuck the commune, friends. We’re headed out to Jewish senior living. Pack your Zumba shoes and follow me.
Old Jews are my kind of people. Who else will be continually interested in the comings and goings of my intestines?
I bet in the Jewish old age home no one pressures you to, say, join the polo team or pray to craven images of God (which is what I suspect they do for leisure in the non-Jewish old age homes), two activities that I can do without.
On the down side, however, I bet they put out a better Happy Hour cocktail selection at the gentile home down the road. I suppose I could hit the old Jews for the brunch spread and then meander over to the gentiles for an apertif.
Whew. Okay, got that worked out.
I can tell you one thing for sure: my mom is NOT going to move to the old age home with me. She is – at age 89 – anti-old people. Whereas I – at age 59 – am already one.
She recently returned from a trip to Italy. She had invited me to go with her but I couldn’t, of course, what with my grueling schedule of avoiding working on the novel and posting selfies of Phila and me on Facebook. Plus, I’ve been to England and France and Greece and Israel and I cannot imagine there’s much in Italy that I didn’t already see in those other countries.
Except, according to Mom, penises.
I endured a ten minute phone conversation with her in which she described her two-week art tour, penis by penis.
“So many penises,” she said to me, while I desperately tried to unhear what she was saying. “You can’t believe the penises on those statues!”
Now I don’t know about you, but I am pushed way out of my comfort zone when my mom says the word “penis” even one time. When she says it eleven times in one conversation, I get clammy and woozy and look for the emergency call button next to my toilet.
“Penis” is not a word that sounds normal in a mom’s voice. A mother’s voice should say words like “soup” and “I bought you some new pajamas”. And, “you sound tired. Did you have a bowel movement today?”
Not my mom. She says “penis.” And “those penises were huge!” And, “they had big holes in them. Do you want to know why?” (no). “Well, I’ll tell you…”(please dear God, no)
I never should have let her go to Italy to look at art. I should have made her go to, I don’t know, Branson, Missouri. I bet you could spit a hundred yards in Branson, Missouri, and never hit a penis statue.
My mom is very comfortable with penis talk. I think it has to do with her becoming a therapist during the late 1960′s when nine out of ten therapists recommended that everybody let it all hang out. Unfortunately, during the late 1960′s I was a teenager. When ten out of ten teenagers recommended that their mothers put it all back in.
“You go to the plazas,” she told me on the phone, “all you see are penises. You go to the museum – penises. Statues everywhere – penises, penises, penises.”
“Uh-huh, ” I said, jamming the phone repeatedly into my eyes for distraction.
“Mom,” I said brightly, “how was the food?”
“Horrible. Feh. Although the fruit was delicious. But enough, genuch with the penises already!”
I’m pretty sure that’s how Pope Clement put it, as well, back in the the 1600′s. Presuming he spoke a little Yiddish.
So he ordered metal fig leaves to be put over all the penises on all the statues.
Which is why they all have those HUGE holes in them.
Hey, if I have to know, you have to know.
By Parenting Consultant, Ann Brown
As I write this article, we are already encroaching upon 2014. Because I am an old crone compared to you who will be reading this, I can remember, back in the 1960’s, the awe I felt when I imagined what the new millennium would be like. The idea of the year 2014 was mind-blowing to me. It still is.
The world your children will grow to inherit is already so much different than the world I inherited. My world had the first color TV, a man on the moon, polio vaccine on a sugar cube, the Pill. My childhood was filled with wonder, not only at the marvels of the time but also at the natural, almost magical happenings around me. I was five years old when my childhood cat had kittens. My sister and I sat on the kitchen floor while Gigi delivered nine gooey, red and white striped babies (Moses, Hebsibiah-Tzipora*, Pegasus, Penny, Fluffy, Sarah, Rebecca, Piñata and Pierre) onto my favorite Lanz nightgown with which we’d lined a cardboard box from the grocery store garbage bin.
Karen and I watched silently as Gigi did what ancestral knowledge guided her to do. She hadn’t read What To Expect When You’re Expecting Kittens, or gone to Lamaze class or sat in a crowded primary school auditorium with the rest of the fourth grade girls in her class to watch the 8mm movie about menstruation; the movie from which I gathered that when you are around twelve years old you get your period and continue to get it every day until you are fifty or so..
Witnessing the miracle of Gigi’s delivery and the birth of the nine kittens incorrectly answered as many questions in my young mind as it created new ones, and my sister and I spent years afterwards jumping to some alarmingly wrong conclusions about how species procreate, including, but not limited to, my sister’s insistence that babies are made in the shower (my sister recently explained to me that she was pretty sure people were naked when they made babies and the only place she could fathom anyone would be naked would be in the shower) and the belief that if a cat and a dog made babies, half of them would be kittens and half would be puppies. Our homegrown information about the miracle of life also reached, tragically, to the miracle of death where in the process of our extensive research, I am sorry to confess, many innocent pet turtles with painted shells, purchased regularly on Los Angeles’ famous downtown Olvera Street, gave their lives in such heroic ways as being lost behind the living room couch and being abandoned in the blazing LA sun when we grew tired of turtle races in the tall grass of our front lawn, only to be discovered days or weeks later by my mom and flushed down the toilet. I fully expect to see those turtles, their backs brightly painted with the colors of the Mexican flag, waiting for me at the Pearly Gates with a major chip on their shoulders. And well I deserve their wrath. Although I might point out, just fyi, that the paint those poor turtles were covered in was probably toxic and they weren’t destined to live a long, healthy life, anyway. Not that I am trying to worm my way out of my own accountability.
My world still has sources of wonder that are beyond my understanding: installing apps into my i-phone, using the hashtag correctly; things that have turned me into an embarrassment, a dolt, a technodinosaur; someone who, say, would have tried to play a vinyl record on her Polaroid One-Step camera. I kinda like that. I like knowing that every day, if I wanted to, I could find something unbelievable in this ever-changing world.
I’m not so sure that your kids will be as mystified by life as I was and am. Your children live in a world of instant information, of explanation, of empirical evidence. Parents today need to work hard to protect the gift of wonderment for our children. The world is so scientific, so informative, and so little is left to the imagination. Children are expected to learn the way adults do, and adults are expected to learn like machines. There is a dearth of acceptable opportunities for learning by experience or apprenticeship or just plain passage of time. Learning by experience leaves room for misinformation, to be sure but it also makes room for imagination, hypotheses, confidence, perseverance and acceptance of occasional failure. It also makes room for something even more important – the space to not know something until the time is right to know it.
What leaves with wonder is a sense of possibility that lives outside our realm of control – a sense that we might be surprised by life! There’s not much today about which your young children cannot access information. Computers tell them that teeth fall out because of physiological readiness, TV commercials tell them that Christmas toys are made at the Mattel or Nintendo factory, not in Santa’s workshop. Our kids are woefully sophisticated these days about the ways of their world.
I think that’s a shame.
Granted, maybe I am woefully uninformed about certain things – I still say “i-pad” when I mean “i-pod”, and vice versa– but I believe that if we crowd our young children’s minds with facts and information, it will be at the expense of leaving no room for magic and wonderment.
When my children were little I used to cut their apples in half in a way that the seeds made a star shape in the center. Now, certainly there is a botanical answer to why that is so (or so I presume) but my kids thrilled to believe it was magic their mom could summon by saying, “apple, apple from the tree, make a star that we can see!” before she cut into it. I imagine that my cerebral, brainiac boys figured out the scientific reason for the seed placement long before I did (uh, I still haven’t….) but they still enjoyed the flourish and pomp with which I cut their apples. In fact, even though they are both grown up, out of college and out of law school, I cut apples that way every once in a while, just to remember the old days. When I knew more than they did. A long, long time ago.
Children have a way of figuring things out. True, they are usually wrong. But they need the opportunity to be wrong and later discover a new answer. They have a lifetime to learn what they need to learn. The Information Age offers us a tempting buffet of learning everything now, quickly, all at once. It takes willpower to hold back, to give our kids factual information and experiences slowly, in appropriate moderation. It is hard because today there is a sense, in our culture, that we can know, and thereby control “it all.” That we can “fix” life. Yet…there is so much in life that you can’t muscle your way through – tragedy and joy alike. Our culture steps a bit roughly on the hope of the unexpected. In grooming our kids for success from infancy, we squash the “Gee, I wonder where life might take me?” that earlier generations had. At age 6, my son hated for people to ask him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He shed tears of frustration over kindergarten career day. He felt like they were asking for too much of a commitment. And I don’t blame him. I think it shows great wisdom – not wanting to open that present yet. Why ruin the adventure?
The tradition of misinformation being passed from sibling to sibling was continued when I had kids. One day, I overheard my then-four year old son telling his nine-year old brother about menopause.
“It happens to all of them and it takes a really long time,” my four year old explained.
“How long?” my nine-year old asked him.
There was an awed silence. Then the nine year old spoke. “Explain it to me again,” he said, “because it really doesn’t make sense.”
The four year old sighed with an exasperation I’ve recently recognized when he’s had to explain to me for the gajillionth time how the Electoral College works and why we have the Iowa caucuses.
“Okay,” he said evenly, “it’s called menopause. And she stays in the cocoon for a whole, long winter and that’s where it happens.”
I was rooted to my hiding place behind the door. This was something even I didn’t understand about menopause. Guess my big sister didn’t tell me everything, after all.
“In a cocoon?” asked the older one, “are you sure?” He was beginning to sound alarmed. Frankly, so was I. I had to break in.
“What are you talking about?” I asked them. My younger son eagerly shared his knowledge with me.
“Menopause,” he said, “you know, how the caterpillar goes into the cocoon and comes out a butterfly.”
I was slightly hindered by a weak high school background in science and a college degree in Ethnomusicology but even so, I felt capable of asserting my educated opinion.
“Do you mean ‘metamorphosis?’” I asked him.
He considered my question for a moment. “Oh yeah”, he said brightly.
Albert Einstein said, “there are two ways of looking at the world: that everything is a miracle, and that nothing is a miracle.” I choose to keep some wonderment, some miracles in my life.
Especially when it comes to installing apps on my i-phone.
Ann Brown has a private practice in parenting consultation
By Ann Brown
Summer is long gone but for the liver spots on my face.
I am hoping my liver spots will just connect to each other, resulting in a beautiful overall dark complexion. I am not without a low-cost beauty plan for my sixth decade. With Obamacare hanging so precariously in the balance, we have to be creative.
My adjunct plan is to eat more butter so my heart will give out before The Melanoma gets me. Right now, I think The Melanoma and The Heart Attack are neck in neck. So to speak. Actually, also literally: my neck is literally lost in my other neck.
So I have been thinking about getting some work done. It came to me this summer when we put a new roof on the house, painted the exterior, rebuilt the back deck, widened the stone steps in the yard and remodeled the upstairs bathroom.
I took a good long look in the mirror and said to myself, “you could use a new roof, too, Missy. There are patches on your top where nothing is covered. And your exterior is definitely showing cracks from age. Your siding is full of rough edges and splinters.”
Let’s not even get started on what my back deck looks like. My planks are totally warped. Fuck.
And as for my upstairs remodel? Well, my foundation is dangerously sagging. And possibly moldy. Some days I’m afraid to look under my bra.
Still, I’ve been pretty lucky so far. The past 59 years haven’t left me with too many signs of age. I follow the adage, “after 50, you have to choose your ass or your face.”
Yes, my knees give out every once in a while, and my hands look like they need ironing, and I make little “oy” noises when I get up from a low chair. But, all in all, it’s been okay.
At least I still have my fart muscles intact. I haven’t yet begun to do that guerilla farting thing that my sister does where out of nowhere, she farts. She claims she can’t help it, that she doesn’t even know it’s coming. And I suppose I am inclined to believe her but, honestly, if I were afflicted with Guerilla Fart Syndrome, I would lie about it.
Karen is a delicate little flower; she hardly eats anything so her farts aren’t much to deal with. Her little guerilla farts are no more than a delightful unexpected blast of coronets heralding the coming of the king.
When GFS hits me, I can do that thing that Robin does, I suppose. When he feels a fart coming on in public, he moves quickly through the crowd and then makes a speedy exit. He calls it Crop Dusting. It’s gross. If you ever find yourself with Robin in a crowded room and he suddenly begins to power walk towards the door, beware. Especially if it’s Taco Tuesday.
Anyway, back to me.
I think I would like an Eye Job first. My eyelids are bunched to the point of my having to stake them up just to put on makeup. I should tape little Venetian blind pull-up cords at the corner of my eyes.
After my Eye Job, I think I shall have one of those surgeries where they take fat from one place and put it in another place. Like Somalia, maybe. Because there’s no place on my body that needs extra fat. Too bad we can’t do Fat Donation Drives for the Red Cross. You lay down, donate your fat and then they give you cookies! And you eat, like, two dozen of them. And you make more fat! Which you donate to starving people. Hakuna Matata.
I better get to DC while the debate is still on. I think this can work.
By: Ann Brown
What with Yom Kippur being just around the corner, I have taken a moment to reflect upon my life. And so, in the spirit of numbering my days, I have gone back and calculated a few things.
I present to you, my Jewish year 5773 in minutes:
Minutes I spent this year telling Robin I don’t want a dog, under no circumstances should he bring home a dog, and fuck him if he gets us a dog: 287.
Minutes it took me to love Phila: 1.
Minutes to forgive Robin for bringing home a dog: I’ll let you know.
Minutes it took Phila to retrieve my brand new Wacoal bra from the dirty clothes hamper and then bury in the backyard when I wasn’t paying attention: 2
Minutes I spent crouched under my bedroom window listening to the gardeners laugh and discuss my bra when they found it under the lilac tree the following week: 45.
Minutes I had to spend hearing them say, “ai yai yai, es por una ballena”: 50
MInutes I died from embarrassment when I looked up the word “ballena” and found that it does not mean “ballerina”, as I had hoped, but instead, means “whale”: 7
Minutes I have spent this year waiting for the fucking printer to print: 5,000.
Before I realized that it wasn’t connected to my computer: 5,002.
Minutes I have spent this year in the cracker aisle deciding between regular Wheat Thins and Reduced Fat Wheat Thins: 1,250.
Pounds I have lost due to eating Reduced Fat Wheat Thins: zero.
Minutes I have spent this year attempting to balance on one foot and put one foot into my underpants and not fall over: 36500.
Minutes I have spent this year figuring out if my bra was inside out or right side in before I wrapped it around my waist to put it on: 365 x 4.
Minutes I have spent this year trying to hook my bra from the back: 400,000,000,000.
Minutes I have spent this morning hoisting my bra around to the back and then up to my boobs after finally just hooking it in front like an old lady: shut up.
MInutes I have spent this year looking for my phone to see if I’ve missed any calls: 10,000.
Calls I have returned after I see I’ve missed them: zero.
Minutes I have spent this year hiding while watching someone I know come to my front door, knock, and finally go away: 30
Minutes I have spent this year doing Pilates: zero.
Minutes I have spent this year looking for rogue old crone chin hairs on my face: a million.
Minutes I have spent this year in front of the bathroom mirror, tucking my arm flab in to see what my arms would look like without the flab: 100.
Minutes I have spent this year doing arm exercises: 1
Minutes I have spent this year worrying about melanoma: 674,344,980,000,000,001
Minutes I have spent in the sun this year: 674,344,980,000,000,000
Minutes I have spent this year in the shower not remembering if I’ve already washed my face: 3500.
Minutes I have spent during sex this year thinking about the new bathroom tiles: 22.
Minutes I have spent during sex this year thinking about my hair: 28.
Minutes I have spent during sex this year thinking about the situation in Syria: 11.
Minutes I have spent during sex this year thinking about sex: 1,000.
Minutes I have spent during sex this year thinking about food: 999.
Minutes I have spent during meals this year thinking about sex: zero.
Minutes I have spent this year ordering the same sleeveless linen blouse from JJill this year because I forgot I already had the exact same one in my closet: 4.
MInutes I have spent staring at my dog today while trying to write this post: 331.
By: Ann Brown
The Atonement clock is ticking. Yom Kippur is just weeks away. I am going to have to begin my apologies in the next few days if I’m going to get around to everyone. It’s been a busy year. Lots of assholes.
Oh wait. I’m supposed to atone because I was the asshole. Damn. Too bad Yom Kippur can’t be when we approach people who have pissed us off and give them ten days to apologize to us. Now, that’s a holiday.
“Apologize to me for not having the Dansko clogs I want in size 41!” I would say to the saleslady in the size 0 tank top. “Apologize for making me feel that my feet are grotesquely gigantic.”
“But…but…” she would sputter, “I had no idea. Those were shoes? I brought them home for my kids to use as Barbie canoes.”
And I would raise my mighty Jewish arm flab and smite her.
And I’d go on to the next person on my list. That person who didn’t think my last blog post was funny: Smite!
The checker at Safeway who judged me with her eyes because I would not round up for prostate cancer when it was the second time I had been to Safeway that day and the first time I DID round up for fucking prostate cancer but now I am worried I am going to get prostate cancer: Smite!
The Kardashians: Smite! Smite! Smite!
Michelle Bachman: Smite!
And then I’d go home to my family and we’d have a nice brisket.
It is so hard to be Jewish. I know to the outside world it looks all woo hoo we’re chosen and shit but believe me: it’s not all chocolate coins and law degrees. We have to atone for the shit we do. And the only way we are forgiven is: we have to actually do better. We got a rotten deal on that one. With all the lawyers our people have produced, how the hell did we get into a contract that says we can’t just cross our fingers behind our backs and promise to do better? Yiddisher kop, my ass.
The gates open, as the tradition says, at the start of Rosh Ha Shana and they close ten days later, at the end of Yom Kippur – the day of Atonement. And once those gates are closed, all your deeds for the year are recorded and locked into posterity. And the gates do not open again until the following Rosh Ha Shana. Even if you beg. Even if you squeeze out a few crocodile tears or blame it on having your period, or even if you bring a written excuse from your therapist. Even if traffic was backed up on the San Diego Freeway. Even if you have a SAG/AFTRA card, those gates do not open. Even if you were constipated. Which is something Jews take VERY seriously. Constipation can usually pretty much get you out of anything.
Judge: You ran over an old woman carrying a puppy.
Jew: I was constipated.
Judge: Oy. Case dismissed.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking: I should apologize to Robin before the gates close.
I can be a little bit of work sometimes, but he still loves me. Even when I haven’t bleached my moustache and I look like an Armenian man, even when he sees me naked from behind, or snoring, wearing my bite guard, drooling on the pillow in the morning, he still loves me. He looks at me every morning the way I look at wine every evening.
And I look at him every morning and say, “goddamn it, did you fart under the covers again?”
But the man can’t help it. He’s usually constipated.
By: Ann Brown
Nina and David are coming up to visit next week. And may I just say, YAHOO.
We have begun planning. Nina emailed this morning to say that all she wants to do is lie around on the back deck chaise lounges and eat sushi. I am exceedingly relieved to hear that because last year, she and David started each morning at 7AM by going to the nearest gym for a workout. Then they wanted to get out and experience all that the Pacific Northwest – and life – offers. That was a long weekend for me.
I am, however, in a water aerobics class this summer so I don’t have to feel like such a workout loser in front of them. But I’ve only had two classes and frankly, the pounds and inches are not dropping off as quickly as I had hoped. Nina and David might not even notice that I have worked out for two hours already this summer. Unless they are reading this post. Which I don’t think they do. Being so busy experiencing life and being at the gym and all. I really don’t know what I see in them.
Last year when they visited, we instituted a new tradition: Morning Fire and Truth Circle. It was mostly just sitting around the back deck, hungover, in the morning, staring at the still-burning embers in the outdoor fireplace and finishing up the hooch from the night before, but I like to give things Capitalized Titles. And calling our new tradition Fell Asleep Drunk In My Own Vomit Last Night On The Back Deck lacks a certain, I don’t know, heft.
Truth Circle needs its fake, weenie, wannabe Native American props. So I found a twig, which we christened The Talking Stick, and reminded everyone of The Rules: One may speak only when one is holding the talking stick. I suppose Native American babies are born understanding this but middle aged Jewish adults needs remediation. Our people is not a patiently waiting for our turn to talk kind of people. We are more of a pretending we are listening to the other person but really just formulating our next comment in our heads sort of folk.
My family had tried using The Talking Stick a few years ago when we were embroiled in a heated argument about using the term, “gypped” (from “Gypsy”. Which is derived from “Egyptian”. So it’s twice offensive). My family tends to interrupt and yell and bang our shoes on the table during polite discussion, so my sister grabbed the kitchen broom and declared it The Talking Stick, hoping to restore Native American grace, order and courtesy to our brawl.
It worked for about three seconds. Then one of my kids realized we have TWO kitchen brooms. And Alia grabbed a spatula. You can see where this is going. In the end, all seven of us were screaming at each other, making our points, arguing everyone else’s points and holding on to our person Talking Sticks – mop, Swiffer, you name it. My Talking Stick was a colander. Which I used to cover the face of the person who tried to talk when I had something to say. Ah, the gentle traditions of the Native Americans.
I know it sounds odd that we would have been arguing over the topic of using an offensive term. I mean, it’s not like any of us was in favor of being culturally insensitive; it’s not like when we had a family fight over whether or not it’s appropriate to interrupt someone in order to correct their grammar. Which it totally is. Because people should know. Yes, they should. Shut up. No, you shut up.
Where was I? Oh, right. Nina and David.
We will probably have to institute The Talking Stick when Nina, David, Robin and I make our daily plans, as there are issues such as which winery to visit and whether or not we’ll use low-sodium soy sauce on the sushi, and the four of us are pretty opinionated. David suggested in his email that we allow filibustering this time but I told him that I am not certain I can stand for eleven hours without leaning against or holding onto something. And then David suggested that I could hold on to his, um, Talking Stick. His exact words were: I’ve got something you can hold onto.
I generally scoff when David works blue, but I have to admit I laughed at his offer. And then I pointed out that he ended his sentence with a preposition.
By Ann Brown
I recently heard that an old boyfriend of mine is getting divorced after twenty-two years of marriage, and he is going to be paying his wife in excess of many, many, many thousands of dollars per month in alimony. I am heartbroken over this news.
I could use many thousands of dollars a month. I shoulda married him. Not that he asked, but still.
I would have made an awesome rich divorcee. I’ve planned for it my whole life. I mean, what young Jewish girl doesn’t stand in front of her mirror wearing a tiara and dream of divorcing a wealthy man some day?
As it is, I married for love. And money. Robin was the wealthiest person I knew in Santa Cruz in 1977. He made ten dollars an hour. I know, right? I slept with him as soon as I could, to get my hooks in him and stake my claim to that ten bucks an hour. I don’t want to brag, but I totally gave him ten dollars worth of sex that first night.
Last night, thirty-three years later, Robin informed me that we need to review his life insurance plan. We are old enough now that a life insurance cost-effectiveness review is in order. Robin took it like a real man as I talked out my options concerning his death and concluded that, financially speaking, I married badly. And Robin agreed.
We considered my ability to woo and marry the ex now, divorce him, get the moolah and remarry Robin. Robin played along like the gentleman he is, but we both knew it was a sham. I am simply in no shape to woo a man anymore. A blind man, perhaps. Who cannot determine shape from touch? I might have a fighting chance. Still, there is that pesky issue of my personality. Ain’t no Spanx for an out of control personality.
I didn’t want to harsh Robin’s mellow but, frankly, what he is worth to me dead is not going to get me far. By my calculations, I am going to need to marry a rich man within a year of Robin’s death. And to get myself in wooing shape? Fuuuuck. The fat farm alone is gonna be at least thirty grand. Not to mention the constant waxing. My undercarriage is a hot mess.
Being married rocks. You never have to shave your legs above the knee ever again. And you can let your weird skin rashes air out instead of covering them up. And you can wear Crest White Strips on your teeth during sex because there’s no kissing anymore. Honestly, I do not understand why anyone stays single.
But if I am going to have to go out on the market again, I won’t be able to let that kind of shit slide. Even to go to the market. Oh my God, it’s gonna be exhausting. I will never be able to catch a rich husband. I’ll be lucky to get a blind hippie with no hands. Who needs a green card. Wealthy men are so picky.
Question to self: are lesbians more accepting of women who are no longer willing to wax or kiss? Are there any super wealthy lesbians in Oregon? I don’t want to have to travel. Am I even in the running to nab me a super wealthy, hippie, non-waxing, no-kissing Pacific Northwest lesbian or am I just kidding myself?
Clearly, the only solution is to up the amount of Robin’s life insurance. But he is onto my game and now he wants to cancel it altogether. He wants to make Alive Robin as attractive to me as Dead Robin. Bless his heart.
By: Ann Brown
So, what’s new? Not much.
Oh wait. Right. Robin got his driver’s license suspended.
It’s not what you think, and I know that you are thinking DUI.
Robin was nabbed for speeding. And running a red light. And for totally being a dick to me when I was in a bad mood a few months ago and just needed to be left alone. Well, okay, he wasn’t pulled over for that, specifically, but I felt the police officer who gave him the speeding ticket should know what I go through. So I told him.
You’d think that a person who had his license taken away would be the contrite one in the car, right? And you’d think that person would refrain from giving helpful driving tips to the person who is giving up her valuable time to schlep him around town, and who has pretty much made her way in the driving world for, oh, forty years without his helpful tips and suggestions such as, “when you accelerate, you want to blah blah blah…”.
I can’t tell you how his sentences end because by then I am usually looking for the closest bridge from which to launch us both into the Willamette. The man cannot shut the fuck up about my driving.
The other week, after I did not accept his helpful suggestions on parallel parking, and after he pointed out that he is pretty much an expert in parallel parking and really, in all aspects of driving, possibly all aspects of life, and I pointed out that one of us who is not an expert still has a valid driver’s license and one of us who is an expert needs to have me drive him to Safeway because he is out of Preparation H wipes, and he pointed out that speeding and running red lights are not evidence of being a bad driver whereas my acceleration technique is a major red flag about my road skills, and, really, about my ability to navigate the world at all, and then I pointed out that I hate him and I have been faking my orgasms, he said indignantly to me, “I am going to get a new driver!”
And he looked at me as though he had just told me he was going to get a new wife. Which shook me about as much as if he said he was going to get a new driver.
And then I slammed on the brakes because I was about to run a red light and we both stopped fighting due to our instantaneous commitment to whiplashes while saving the Trenta iced tea I had just gotten from Starbucks, which was the topic of the helpful tip Robin had been giving me (“TWO dollars? For iced tea??? This is why we have no retirement savings”) right before the parallel parking thing happened.
Only there wasn’t really a red light. I just wanted to slam on the brakes. I like to fuck with him.
By: Ann Brown
Sadly, once again, we have been faced with terrible and frightening incidents in the news. The bombings in Boston came has a huge shock to all of us and many parents learned about it, or had to process it, in front of their children.
It can be difficult and confusing to navigate how, when and if to tell our children about the scary things that can happen around them. There is no one formula for this, of course, but there are some foundational and philosophical guidelines that can help.
Young children need to know, first and foremost, that the world is a good and safe place. They need to have that bottom layer be built of trust, security and predictability. When our kids are babies, that’s pretty easy. When they are preschoolers and older, it gets trickier because they are exposed – inadvertently, at times – to the realities of life. We can find ourselves in the position of having to explain the inexplicable to our children: that bad things happen.
It’s my opinion that we do not need to discuss terrible current events with children. This, of course, is different from how to respond when personal tragedies happen in a child’s life – for example, if a child says to me, “my dog died” or, “my grandma is very sick and is going to die soon,” I express compassion and validate how that might feel. If other children want to participate in the conversation, I carefully allow a conversation that focuses on validation and appropriate emotional literacy.
If your child had heard about what happened in Boston, there are ways to help him/her process it.
Endeavor to answer only the question asked. When a child asks us a question for which we were not prepared, we can fall into the habit of giving them the entire story. This is rarely what the child is asking, or what s/he needs to hear. For example, if you child asks, “what happened in Boston?” You can say, “there was an accident” (to a young child) or “people got hurt during the Marathon” (to an older child). Then wait. Sometimes that is all the answer your child needs because s/he had heard buzz words about it and wanted to know what it was all about.
Stress the idea that people were there to help. If your child has heard enough about it to ask specific questions, be sure that you include in every statement something about the fact that this is why we have police officers and fire fighters – to help us when there is trouble. You can also add that many people came to help who were not necessarily official first responders. It is comforting to children to know that when there is a problem, there are people who know what to do about it. In the same way we tell them that if they get sick, doctors know what to do or if there is a fire, firefighters will come, we need to reassure them that they are not on their own in a disaster.
Do something constructive with the fear. If your child has heard about the bombings (or the fire in Texas, or any of the many tragedies…) suggest doing something that helps the victims, like sending care packages or drawing pictures to send them. It is amazing how therapeutic it can be to take our own fear and sadness and help someone else.
And finally, be vigilant about keeping media away from your young children. Having the news on TV or the radio while your children are playing nearby can affect them. Kids pick up on ambient sounds, on seemingly mindless noise, and definitely on our reactions to something we see or hear on the news. They don’t always come to us for explanations so we often have no idea they are grappling with something unfathomable to them.
As children grow older, they will be exposed to more scary and difficult realities in life. With a strong foundation that the world is good and safe, they will more easily be able to handle the unfortunate exceptions.
By Ann Brown
I hate this kind of shit. As if I don’t have enough to worry about already.
According to an article in Huffpo, by the age of 50, women should know how to do all the things listed below. This, of course, is complete bullshit; all a woman needs to know by age 50 is the adage, “you choose your face or your ass”, which means you can be thin (i.e. choose your ass) but your face will look gaunt and creepy and small children will run from you, or you can choose your face (eat all your want and grow your ass the size of Texas) and be gorgeous.
And by 59 (in a few weeks), all a woman needs to know is that even if she cannot see it, there is a whisker growing out of her face somewhere that is, like, four feet long and thick as a Sequoia. A whisker that was not there yesterday but is most certainly there today.
Huffpo, however, has a different list.
And therefore, below, my rebuttal:
Say “no” without feeling guilty – Yeah, um, unless you are Jewish. I even feel guilty when I say “yes”.
Book their own travel – do they mean make dozens of reservations on Alaska Airlines until the code letters you get spell out something that is a good harbinger and means the plane won’t go down? Then, yes. I do that.
Say “I’m sorry” and mean it – I totally mean it. On the surface. Where it counts.
Get around in a foreign country – Well that’s just stupid. Nobody needs to go to a foreign country anymore. Not when there is the Travel Channel. And legalized weed.
Mix at least a few classic cocktails – and by “classic”, do they mean drink tequila straight from the bottle while looking at photos of themselves when they were young and happy? Then, yes.
Make themselves and their own needs a priority – I feel I excel at this. I asked Robin if he thought I was too much of a martyr, always thinking of others, and if I need to make myself more of a priority and he laughed so hard he coughed up a tooth.
Defend themselves against an attacker with at least one signature self-defense move – I have one signature move. It’s a kind of pelvis sway and shimmy thing I learned in the 70′s at Disco Disco. You should see how fast men run away when I do it now.
Carve a turkey – I only carve it if the CPR didn’t work.
Choose their own wine – Easy. The one that’s open. And closest to me so I don’t have to sit up. Or roll over.
Examine their own breasts – Well, now, this can be problematic. What with my fifty-nine year old eyes being so near-sighted and my breasts being so much further away from my face than they used to be, a lot of visual acuity is lost. So I generally just ask random strangers to examine them for me. Sometimes I add my signature move.
Graciously accept a compliment – Yeah, okay. When I fucking GET one, I’ll let you know how graciously I will accept it.
Flip their own breaker – if that is a euphemism for masturbating, I am not going to answer.
Plunge a toilet – Hah. That would be a really gross euphemism for masturbating.
Walk away from a situation or relationship when it’s not working – No problem. Ask the myriad personal trainers, nutritionists, therapists and leg-waxers in my wake.
Say what they really want in bed – Easy: SLEEP. And, every once in a while, some privacy to, um, flip my breaker.
Apply makeup without a mirror – I can do better than that. I can apply make up WITH a mirror but make it look as if I applied it WITHOUT a mirror.
Ask for a raise – Yes. Wait, without offering sex first? Then, no.
Unclog a drain – yet another euphemism? Well, that one kinda makes sense.
Tell which direction they are facing – Don’t need a compass to tell me I am going to Hell. In a handbasket.
Make small talk with just about anyone
Know when to reveal personal information — and when not to – I consider revealing personal information and small talk to be indistinguishable from each other and essential at cocktails parties. You open a conversation with, “yikes. I did not expect to be faking orgasms this late into my marriage”, and you are pretty much guaranteed to be left alone. Score.
Paint a room – Please. I did that at five. Only without my parent’s permission. And with crayons.
Buy the right-sized bra -I am still saving up to buy the right size boobs.
Beautifully wrap a present – see above, about the bra.
Reach out to an old friend – who is falling? Yes, I would totally do that.
Show love with actions and not just words – Eeeeew. WORDS? Yuck.
Put together a real retirement strategy – You’re reading it.
Look good in a photo – Fuck you.