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the latest waddle:

good morning, wordpress - 10:36 a.m. , 2009-07-03

elaborate murder attempt - 2:56 p.m. , 2009-07-01

building a tractor in the basement - 10:42 a.m. , 2009-06-19

ask no questions tell just a few lies - 3:17 p.m. , 2009-06-09

my long lasting flavor really lasts long - 1:10 p.m. , 2009-06-04

2004-02-17 ... 6:14 a.m.


My head is still in a strange place. All week I have felt somehow unsafe---not in a personal-safety, look-out-for-that-falling-piano sort of way but in the sense that we live in a Big Scary World Of Scariness, and it sometimes works to bravely stare into the existential void and to laugh in the face of bleak reality, unless you have a one-year-old clinging to your leg. Then you can't just laugh and be all French with the void. You have to...I don't know what you have to do. Tell her a story about the void? Try to pretend it's all okay? ("Nora sweetie, that's not a vast uncaring universe, where one has to engage in the futile struggle of self-definition, clinging to the Romantic notion that one even has a self! That's...a puppy dog!") You should probably ignore the void (man, I am getting sick of saying "void" all the time. It's bringing up irritating memories of a certain 1980s pizza commercial) and focus on pointing out all the good things in the world (like puppy dogs!) along the way. Until that doesn't work any more and she is a depressed teenager, at which point you just scream at her a lot to quit moping around.

So anyway, I have been in serious brain-overdrive, thinking about sad things and bad things and also about little kids, and for some reason I remembered Stanley. In sixth grade, my best friend was a girl named Edith, and her little brother was Stanley. These names are made even better when you consider that they were Korean, and there really are few things as awesome as a super-skinny, buck-toothed, thick-glasses, borderline-attention-deficit-disorder, Korean six-year-old named Stanley. He was insane, and a total spaz, and he bothered us all the time, but he was just so funny. And since all we really ever did was lie around her room and plot revenge on the popular kids, we totally tolerated Stanley. I remember him going through a sick-joke phase, and he always got them all wrong. He would burst into Edith's room and yell, "KNOCK KNOCK!"

"Who's there?"

"An Ethiopian!"

"An Ethiopian who?"

"AN ETHIOPIAN ALL SKINNY!!!! WITH BUGS ON!!!" Then he would cackle, zoom around the room, and run away, as suddenly and as inexplicably as he had arrived. Or this one: Stanley careens up the stairs all arms and legs and screams, "WHAT DO YOU FEED A DEAD BABY?" Punchline: "DEAD BABY FOOD!" He made no sense but somehow I think he got to the heart of these jokes, which are not really about the non-clever wordplay they use as window dressing but about the oooh, dead baby, starving Ethiopian, me so edgy. Stanley was as edgy as it gets. We should get him his own HBO special. I wonder if Stanley ever settled down, or if right now he is tearing around some insurance office like a Ritalin casualty and telling his peculiar jokes to coworkers.

I just finished Jennifer Government and it was kind of eh. Maybe it is because I am a huge language nerd, but plot-driven novels that read like their own screenplays bore me. Being plot-driven, they tend to race breathlessly from one big-budget scene to the next, and a lot of writing falls through the cracks. It is always the tiny, lazy turns of phrase that piss me off the most, like "Her eyes widened." What the hell is that? Eyes need to quit widening. Make me happy and search your self-written short stories and novels-in-progress for this dumb sentence, and delete it.

Of course you have no obligation to do anything I say, unless my leash is attached to your collar and you are forcibly dressed in my underwear, bleeding slightly from your busted lip, and your roommates have no idea where you are. In that case it would behoove you to follow my directions to the letter.

Which segues nicely into the topic of those Discovery Channel forensic science tiny shard of skull, single carpet fiber programs that LT and I love so much. We watched one recently where all the murderees were young Florida drifter guys who had accepted $150 from the murderer to be tied up naked in the woods and photographed. The only catch was that after they were all tied up and photographed, the murderer did what murderers do best and murdered them. I don't want to "blame the victim," as they say, but: DUH. These were icky torture-murders too, so the murderees had plenty of time to rehearse their self-castigating mental monologue, "gee, I probably should not have agreed to get naked and be tied to this here tree by a total stranger." That would almost be worse than the fear and suffering---the knowledge that those you leave behind are going to be not only grief-stricken but also consider you a total moron for the rest of their lives.


Only today did I realize that the Gang of Four lyric in "Damaged Goods" was not, in fact, "heated cufflinks in the sun/colder cufflinks in the night." It never did make sense to me, but I considered it not inconceivable that socialist rockers would be interested in solar-powered cufflinks.

On the weekends LT has a ton of Swearing At The Computer to do, so I am the all-day Nora wrangler while she is awake. Since I bizarrely sometimes feel like the modern equivalent of the 1950s dad, going off to my office job every day while LT works his unconventional independent contractor's hours and takes care of our lovely daughter, it is only fair that weekends belong to me. For the most part I like doing mommy stuff all day. I also like my job, though, and I like having health insurance and such.

Being responsible for a baby all day is very tiring, however, and not in the way the books tell you. The parenting tomes always emphasize the go go go, the constant demands, the physical labor of carrying a kid around, but really the tiredness stems from the fact that you are always ON. A full day of Nora is like a full day of being a hostess or a tour guide or an MC at a neverending variety show. I talk. I make jokes. I distract her from the Dangerous Thing and over to the Less Intriguing But Also Less Deadly Thing. I sing songs. I make up esoteric games involving a deck of cards, a tennis ball, and a muffin tin. I talk. I make other things talk. In funny voices. Did I mention that I talk?

Remember that, marathon diary entries notwithstanding, I am the girl who can easily go an entire day without speaking out loud to anyone. I can have a very nice weekend lying in one position on the couch, reading books the way junkies go through your medicine cabinet---recklessly, desperately, messily. That is not so much Nora's style yet, however. Sometimes I miss those weekends, and other times I think that I get intellectual stimulation, albeit in an unusual format, just from hearing her laugh.

---mimi smartypants is damaged goods, send her back.


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