Not in Kansas… er, Vermont, Anymore

I just have to say I’m not a huge fan of New Jersey. I’m sure it is a lovely state – in spots; it must be called the Garden State for a reason – but from where I’m sitting, it ain’t so grand.

The wind is howling around and right through my 8th floor hotel windows and the gray clouds are making the already gray panorama, well, grayer. All I see from this vantage point is asphalt and concrete; roads, parking lots, and boxes of concrete, with only panels of black windows to break up the concreteness. Cars and trains crawl through this tangled mass of blah and I have to wonder, why would anyone choose to live here?

Last night, after my husband’s 11 hour day in a conference and my day of writing (and re-writing and re-re-writing), we took our courage by the hand and ventured out. We knew there was a mall nearby, and after a couple days of over-priced and over-cooked hotel food our budget badly needed a food court. The map indicated we needed to turn left, right, then go straight and the mall would be right there.

Ha!

Turns out you can’t turn left in New Jersey, only right. We could see the mall just over there, but could we get to it? Heaven forbid! That big olNeiman and Marcus sign was shining bright – a beacon, a north star – but we two kings were lost in the desert. Round and round we go, no left turn, no left turn, NO LEFT FREAKIN‘ TURN. Eventually, (we ain’t too smart at this point, hunger had taken over our senses) we figured out that we had to turn right to go left. Well, duh! And, of course we’re cruising along in the left lane (as any intelligent being who wanted to turn left would be) and the Saturday night traffic, which is heavier than the worst Vermont rush hour, is preventing any intention of moving over in time to exit to the right.

By this point we are so far away from the mall, we give up and turn wherever we could and hope any dining establishment would be appear. As luck would have it, we had discovered another mall, a Macy’s and Nordstrom mall. But I am so frustrated and hungry by the time we get out of the car (an hour after left the hotel) that the normal little thrill I get from walking into a busy mall is replaced by fear and “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore”-ness. I didn’t think I had become such a small town girl but the ugg-wearing, designer bag toting masses, the pre-Thanksgiving Santa, the knock-you-on-your-ass per-fumes, and the racket of the food court – oh, the noise! – was too much. I, me, who can’t pass up a clearance rack to save my life, was inhaling my philly cheese steak and racing for the nearest exit, my very un-designer bag flying behind.

Later as B and I were safely back in our dull hotel room, crying with laughter over an HBO comedian, I thanked my lucky stars that tomorrow we go home. Home, where you give directions according to the nearest barn, where you can turn left wherever you like, and the only concrete is the path leading to your own front door.

Green snot and fruit flies

Today I am sick. Husband is sick. Children are sick. Green snot sick. Pull those puffy red things out of the back of your throat and put them on ice for a few days sick.

My eyes hurt looking at this white screen but I will attempt to write a few words.

About fruit flies.

They have to be the most determined little buggers (pun intended) in the insect world. I put every fruit and vegetable in the fridge, take out the garbage, and clear the sink, and still they find something to feed their disgusting little selves on. Walking into my kitchen right now is like trekking through the jungle; you swat through swarms just to get to the coffee pot.

This situation does wonders for my already damaged house-wifey self-esteem. I would never get awarded for my cleaning prowess; cleaning is what I do when I’m procrastinating on some other project in order to get to that project in order to get out of the cleaning. But bugs? Gross.

Tonight we are experimenting with a paper cone, soda bottle and vinegar. So far we have caught 103 (out of 3.2 million).

It’s a start.

Just another trip to the grocery store

Every single freakin’ time I swear I AM NOT doing this again… and then I do.

Could I possibly still have pregnancy brain two years after the birth of my second child? Apparently, a woman’s brain shrinks up to 5% during pregnancy and does not retain its original size until six months after birth. Why would the good lord design us this way? So we are destined to forget every lap-full of projectile vomit, every sleepless night, every “I have to peeeee” in the check out lane. And the greatest trick of all – the amnesia of childbirth. And so we do it again. Very funny.

I should have known how this trip would ensue when I pick the cart with the wonky wheel, the one that makes pushing 10 times more difficult than it should be. This may or may not have been a factor in the Great Tomato Event which occurs a mere 10 minutes into the excursion. As I round the corner from the avocados to onions, an avalanche of cartons and escaped grape tomatoes is suddenly rolling towards me. Red-faced as the offending fruit (yes, tomatoes are a fruit) I gather the cartons from out of the aisle until an angel in a blue apron comes to my rescue. I briskly head to dairy; we had enough veggies anyway.

Now Son, who thinks he is too old for the front of the cart, is bouncing in the basket. This is fine – as long as I ignore the risk of a shopping cart fender-bender which could send him flying – until the groceries start to pile up. Distracted by Daughter who has removed her shoes to slide along the aisle, I don’t notice that Son has discovered the plastic containers of spinach and ham make a fun crunch when jumped on. I catch him in mid-stomp just as the creamer carton is about to pop.

Now Daughter is hanging off the side of the cart, making our turning ability that of a tank. I realize I am burning off every ounce of the chai latte I had just consumed, plus some. Hang on, honey. Meanwhile, Son is test-tasting each of the “nanos” and “opples.”

By this time I am feeling exhaustion pulling my muscles down where they are massing in my feet. At the last minute I remember I need diapers, which of course, are in the furthest aisle from where I am. I never buy diapers in the grocery store because I can get them cheaper elsewhere. So, I stand in front of the cute-baby-fastooned boxes, attempting to calculate in my head how much one diaper costs if 80 of them cost $18.99 and if the .02 cents I would save by buying them at the other store is really worth the trouble. [Ear-splitting scream from cart.] I grab the diapers.

I swear I am NOT doing this again…

Oxymoron: writing mother

Literarymama.com wants me to explore:

The relationship between becoming a mother and becoming a writer
The influence of motherhood on your craft
The influence of writing on your mothering

It’s not a good day for me to write about being a writing mother. Today I want to edit out the mother part.

We began this day quite calmly (that’s a qualified “calm”) getting ready for summer day camp. Out of the silence (again, silence is relative) a blood-curdling scream rips through the house. I run to the source, but before I can even get out the words, “what happened?” my 5 year-old’s eyes bulge and she leans forward, arms akimbo. The words explode out of her usually beautiful, now grape-red face: “I didn’t DO anything!” and she bursts into tears.

I stand there stunned by the vehemence, the unadulterated anger coming out of my little girl. Meanwhile, the 22-month-old instigator of the scene is still crying, profusely.

Straining with the pressure of ignited anger, I manage to calmly respond, “I didn’t say you did…”

Should have stopped there.

“But you screaming at me like that makes me think you did.”

No. No. No. What was I thinking saying that to this little someone who’s so highly reactive, so incredibly frustrated. She opens her mouth, wide. I brace myself…. oh, the ringing in my ears!

Needless to say, we were late for day camp and I couldn’t write all day. My mood was shot.

All is calm (for real) in our house now – they’re both asleep. So now I shall attempt to write about being a writing mother:

The relationship between becoming a mother and becoming a writer: My children give me priceless, endless subject material and then keep me from my computer with their constant needs and wants, frustrating me to all get out.

The influence of motherhood on your craft: See above.

The influence of writing on your mothering: When I do finally do sit at my computer, the world disappears. Their yelling and laughing and smashing of my precious possessions are mere squeaks and creaks in the wind.

Yes, I am a bad mom and a bad writer. Crap.