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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

2005-08-31 ... 1:55 p.m.


Industrial cookbook, although not in the usual sense. Food that tastes the way a guy beating a pipe with a hammer sounds!

I don't want to ruin the surprise, but let's just say that I have bookmarked for all my holiday shopping. Particularly the pimp cups. I wish you could buy a set of pimp cups, though: what good is just one pimp cup? Don't pimps ever entertain? Don't they ever have other pimps over for dinner? Maybe each pimp has to bring his own pimp cup.

Unremarkable claims are oddly charming to me. LT bought a 24-ounce container of salsa that proclaimed, "50% MORE" and then, in smaller letters, "Than The 16-Ounce Size." Wait...let me check...yes! My middle-of-nowhere college town had a civic festival where the slogan was, "Crapsville [not its real name]: A Place To Be." Not "the" place to be. Just "a" place to be. Come To Crapsville And Exist! I would almost believe it was deliberate, and that Crapsville was getting all "be here now" Zen with its message, if the town itself wasn't so full of self-important angsty college students and violent angry working-class drunks, in a bleak setting of abandoned factories and failing farms. Those are not the ingredients for a be-in.


Because I am the parent with the standard nine-to-five (okay, seven-to-three in my case) job, while LT is all fancy and flexible by virtue of being "founder and CEO" of (again, not its real name), I never get to go to stuff. Most of Nora's doctor appointments and school functions are attended by LT, with the result that he has historically been the one who can rattle off her shoe size and growth chart percentile, as well as the one who knows all the preschool mommies' names and which ones belong to which kids. This is slated to change somewhat as he gets busier and we rely more on our fabulous nanny, but if a schedule needs adjusting due to a Nora-thing, it is likely to be LT's. Periodically I get sick of this and cash in some vacation time to do these things with Nora on my own, as I did twice this month: once for the pediatrician (where it was discovered that she's holding steady at twenty-four pounds and has a lot of wax in her ears) (I burn with envy), and once for preschool orientation (where it was discovered that I am filled with crabby, judgmental bile: see below).

Preschool orientation is supposed to consist of a fifteen-minute consultation with the teacher---the parent fills out some forms and gets an idea of how the toddler class works, while the kid roams around the room under the aide's supervision and gets used to the idea of being there three times a week. I was pretty sure this would be a waste of time for us, since the teacher is the same one Nora had in summer school, plus my kid has drunk so deeply of the Montessori kool-aid that when she plays "school" she mimes getting out a mat and makes pronouncements like, "Let's do cylinders!" No, really. We should get a tuition discount.

What I did not anticipate, however, was that the family ahead of us would be so annoying. Nora and I arrived on time, and they were in there talking to the teacher. No biggie, there's plenty to do in the preschool room. Five minutes later: still talking to the teacher. Ten minutes later: videotaping their cranky-looking blonde progeny as he smashes some blocks together. Fifteen minutes later: sharing every detail of the child's food preferences, toilet habits, preference for dinosaurs over trucks, and knowledge of the alphabet with the teacher as she shoots me increasingly apologetic glances. Twenty minutes later: more videotape and a request to see the gym, and they have the gall to act a little miffed when the teacher gives them verbal directions instead of taking them on a personal guided tour. Now, I know I fall on the chilled-out end of the parenting spectrum, but Christ on a bike people, this is three days a week. Two hours per day. I hardly see the need for videotape and anxious questions about the "curriculum" and repeated proclamations about the special specialness of your little angel. And hello, there are other people arriving for their special time slots of special specialness. Like me.


Recently finished:

The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green, by Joshua Braff. I'm a sucker for a bildungsroman, and this had lots of funny moments and a few moving ones. Not amazing, but not bad either. Apparently the author is the brother of actor Zach Braff. If I hadn't had to use Google to find out who that was, it would have been a much more intriguing fact.

Collected Stories, by Lu Hsun. I guess it could have been the translation, but I only enjoyed a few of the stories and slogged through the others. I have been trying to fill in the gaps in my knowledge of Chinese history and literature, for obvious reasons.* Lu Hsun is undoubtedly important, but is that the same as good? I don't know.

The Merry Recluse, by Caroline Knapp. I love Caroline Knapp and discovered her work kind of late, which made me all the more irritated that she had to go and die at the age of forty-two. I didn't love this book, however, because I have a thing about collections of newspaper columns---reading that much breezy commentary all smooshed into a certain number of words per week just pings my glib-o-meter, no matter how great a writer she was. I am probably just cranky because other people manage to compactly say what they need to say in a small space and on continuous deadline, whereas I have been here online, sprawling out all knees and elbows, generating ridiculous numbers of words and fake footnotes and parenthetical clauses and self-contradictions, for nearly SIX YEARS now and I never, ever manage to say what I need to say. I am beginning to suspect that what I need to say boils down to "Hi."


The Lorax. Oh, shut up you fucking Lorax. I read this book to Nora every single day and she still wants more. She cluck-clucks over the glop in the Humming-Fish pond, she sighs with despair over the smoggy sky, she scolds, "No! You do not do that!" at the sight of axes felling Truffula Trees. Should I just order her Greenpeace sweatshirt now? I'm down with the environment and all, but repeated readings of The Lorax have made me want to go shoot a panda, load it in my Navigator and drive it to a national park, and then set fire to its corpse with gasoline.

*It feels like a natural progression, this little reading project of mine. During our adoption process, of course I was reading adoption books and stuff about China that related to gender, child abandonment, and so on. Then we were matched with Nora and I switched to semi-frantic reading of travel guides and pocket maps. Now that we have a firm baseline of "family," with "adoptive family" woven into the background fabric rather than being constantly front and center, I am realizing that I want to know more about China for its own sake.

In a similar vein, I have been buying China-related picture books that are not about adoption for Nora. (This is one of my favorites so far.) We have plenty of adoption-related books too, but I just worry about skewing her perception that China = adoption, since China obviously has a lot more going on than just that. It's partly why I have been reticent about getting involved with the China adoption "community"---we have a choice this year of attending either an Autumn Moon Festival dinner thrown by our homestudy agency, with lots of other adoptees and their families, or just going to a lantern procession and mooncake-eating orgy sponsored by a local Chinese-American society, and I am strongly leaning toward the latter. Feel free to write me and tell me what a moron I am, but check your spelling first because otherwise the irony is just too much.

In an entirely other cultural direction, this weekend is Taste of Polonia here in Chicago! Beer! Pierogi! Polka bands! I tell you this so that if you find me passed out with a butter-and-potato paste all over my chin and shirtfront, you will know what happened.

---mimi smartypants drove the point home, stopping for pizza on the way.


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