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Ed: Against my better judgment, I ate the rest of the cauliflower soup*.

Me: Gassy?

Ed: Oh my GOD. I almost crapped myself. It’s not just gas, it’s DECEPTIVE gas. It’s don’t-let-it-get-away-from-you gas.

* If you care to inflict scary gas on your loved ones, the soup was awesome. You can get the recipe here.


I’m sitting on my couch yesterday, feeling sort of happy that I skipped the gym because Simon is actually behaving and we are having a nice morning when I see three cop cars pull up. That’s becoming sort of a regular occurrence, but I still can’t seem to pull myself away from the window every time it happens. I notice a few plainclothes officers and some regular cop-types walking up and down the street, canvassing, talking to neighbors.

I guess I should back up here and explain that a pizza delivery guy was robbed at gunpoint basically right outside our house earlier in the week. Two thugs got $70 worth of pizza. And one of them dropped his cell phone while they were running away. My neighbor found it and the cops answered when it rang. It was the guy’s mother. She told them whose phone it was, and I guess they eventually arrested him.

Back to yesterday, finally it is my turn. They knock. I answer. A detective in a leather jacket with a push-broom mustache asks if I saw anything during the robbery. I wasn’t home, I say. Did anyone else see anything, he asks. No, I say. Just the aftermath. Then I tell him our thug neighbors seem like good suspects and that there are people in and out all the time, and it seems like they attract a lot of law-enforcement attention. He says, yes, that seems to be the consensus. If I see anything, I should call them, he says. I say I will.

So an hour or so later, I’m cleaning up after lunch and I see a skinny guy whose greasy, curly red hair is slicked into a ponytail and a disheveled brunette woman, both of them young, maybe 20, fly out the back door of the house next door. They are both in jeans and T-shirts even though it’s 20 degrees outside. They’re looking around, all suspicious-like, and they run behind the garage. They’re gone for maybe 10 seconds when they go running back in the house. The guy has what appears to be a big ol’ pistol in his hands, which he’s holding behind his back. Which I can see perfectly.

Shaking, I dial the cops. They tell me they’ll call me back. I pace. Pace the living room. Pace the dining room. Pace the kitchen. Keeping an eye out the window. Then I see them, the two from the back yard, and a third woman get into their beater car and drive away. All I can think is that they are on their way to hold up the SuperAmerica or something. My imagination goes wild. More pacing.

They return after about 10 minutes. They get out of the car with Walgreen’s bags and go back in the house. More pacing.

The phone rings. It’s finally the cops. A female detective. What did you see, she asks. So I tell her. She says she wants to talk to me more but she has to get over there. To the house next door.

I say thanks and hang up.

Minutes later, a cop car rounds the corner and sits a few houses away for a while. Then it inches closer. Out of nowhere, there are four more cars, two marked and two unmarked, right in front of my house.

Six cops get out of cars and head toward Thugsville.

I watch as three cops head into the back yard and kick at the debris on their lawn. Peer into their overflowing garbage bins.

Three more walk up the front steps and knock. Soon two of them are inside. Then I see a guy with bushy long hair, cappuccino-colored skin and three days worth of facial hair come out and put his hands in the air. He’s getting frisked.

There’s a knock on my door. Mustache guy. So what did you see, he asks. I repeat my story. Thanks, he says. We’ll be in touch.

Another car pulls up with some new characters — obviously thug friends. Cops talk to them.

I go put Simon down for his nap.

As I’m heading back down the stairs, the phone is ringing. It’s the female detective that called before. Hello, I say. Hello, she says. Did you see that guy? Was that the guy? Assuming she means bushy-haired man, I say no. The guy had red hair. And he was white. Oh, she says. You must have missed it. Because we brought out a guy who looked like that. Wait a minute. I’ll bring him back out. Can you get a good look at the front porch without being seen? Yes, I say. I’ll call you back, she says. Phone goes dead.

A cop hauls out the gun-toting thug. I see the detective dialing. Phone rings. That him? Yes, I say.

At this point, I’m thinking it’s got to be pretty obvious what’s going on. They know. They must know it was me who called. I don’t care, I think. You can’t hide guns where my kids play.

Cops go back inside. By this time, Myles is innocently running down the street from the corner where the bus drops him. He’s outside, oblivious to the cops and the commotion, talking to his friend from down the street.

I open the front door. Myles, get in here! Now!

He sprints up the path. What? Why? He wants to know. Because there are scary people outside, I say. Just get in here.

He grabs a snack and sits at the kitchen table. That’s when I notice there are two cops in gloves searching the thugmobile. Myles and Clare climb up on the table for a better view. What are they looking for, mommy? I’m not sure, I say. I see one of the cops grab something out of the trunk, bring it to his nose and pinch his face into a scowl. He holds it at arms length and throws it to the ground.

The nanny comes. I give her a quick rundown and get in the shower. I’m going to be late for work because I don’t feel comfortable leaving Clare alone while I shower. In my own house.

I’m mid-lather when Myles throws the door open. The cops are here! I’m in the shower I say. Tell them to come back. And shut the door! There is a clear vantage point from the bathroom to the front door. Shut the door! Myles, would you shut the door?! The door stays open until I finish my business and grab a towel.

I’m just barely dressed when there’s another knock. Cops again, mom!

Hair wet, I answer. New detective. Young, freckled. Slicked-back brown hair. Looks like every Irish cop I’ve seen on TV. Is the leather jacket a uniform for these guys?

Hi, he says. Can you tell me what you saw? I repeat my story. How well could you see? Quite well, I say. Want to see where I was when it happened? Yes, he says. I lead him to the kitchen. He looks out. You were standing right here, he says. Yes, I say. Well, these guys are really giving us a hard time. Yeah? Yeah. What do they say they were doing back there? Well, the kid, Josh is his name, says he was going behind the garage to get a pop can. A pop can? I’m incredulous. A big, black pop can that he had to hold behind his back so no one would see? Yes, he says. That’s a good one. I laugh. Laughing feels good.

He leaves. I go to work. I hear later from the nanny that someone, but not the kid with the gun, was arrested later.

Work is hell. I walk into a shitstorm and am behind all night. Then I forget to tell someone something that results in an entire edition’s worth of updates never getting on the press.

I go home and dip my head in a few bottles of beer. Still sleep for shit.

But today is a better day. I spend a few hours making phone calls, trying to have the thugs removed from my neighborhood. That feels good, like I am doing something.

They will not win.


See how content and happy she looks? It’s all an illusion.

This potty-training experience has been like having a thousand tiny stick-pins stuck into the back of my arms, one by one. For 18 months.

People are always asking for my two cents on getting their kid to crap on the toilet. My advice? If you can afford it, outsource it.

Clearly I have no idea what I’m doing in this area. And it’s not from lack of research. I have spent dozens of hours surfing parenting sites and have read several books on the subject. All I found is that there’s a lot of useless advice out there.

Both Myles and Clare wore diapers until just before their fourth birthdays. Both were maddeningly content to walk around in saggy pullups and let us scrape the toxic paste off their butts at least once a day.

By some miracle, Clare seems to have caught on over the past few weeks. I’m not even sure if it’s anything we said or did. I’m thinking she would have just done it on her own, right about now.

Maybe with number three, I’ll just skip the pain and agony, throw a potty in front of Elmo and hope for the best.

Four things I’m thankful for (also my favorite school assignment of the year to read):

1. The seven-year-old who listed gravity and electricity as two of the things he’s most thankful for.

2. The about-to-be-four-year-old who makes me pipe-cleaner bracelets and insists we paint our fingernails the same pink color.

3. Mr. Almost Terrible Two, who has decided it’s fun to blow his nose on daddy’s cheek.

4. My best friend, who stays up late to watch TV and drink wine and laugh with me, even though it makes him tired in the morning.

I’m a strong, opinionated woman. I work. I like my career. I don’t pin my identity on my husband or children.

I don’t say it very often, but I’m a feminist. I’m not the only one who doesn’t say it. It’s like it’s a dirty word.

Who wants to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t think for themselves, earn for themselves or have a strong identity? Apparently, not many people.  Which shouldn’t surprise anyone. But the amount of nutjobs out there ready to pounce on any utterance of the word feminism is startling.

What are these people so afraid of? Confident women having good sex? My guess is, they can’t bring it, so they need women who won’t tell them they suck in bed.

 A guest post from Brenda:

There once was a woman named Janice
Who sued me for sexual harassment
Although swarthy greek
I thought her a freak
I’m just not a lesbian, dammit!

Me: “Clare, can you tell me about your dream?”

Clare: “Are you sure? It’s kind of scary.”

Me: “Yes, I’m sure. Please tell me.”

Clare: “Once upon a time, there was a green M&M. It had arms and legs and it could walk.”

Me: “What was its name?”

Clare: “Eminemy!”

Me: “OK, continue.”

Clare: “Soooo, Eminemy goes for a walk through the forest. And she’s walking along, do-do-do, when suddenly she hears a THUMP! THUMP! THUMP! (Insert inordinate amount of dramatic THUMP!s here.)

“And she thinks it’s a grizzly bear. But she doesn’t see a grizzly bear. So she keeps walking. And it’s dark and scary. And she hears another THUMP! THUMP! THUMP! (repeat …)

“But she still doesn’t see anything. So she keeps walking. And walking and walking in the dark, scary forest. And she hears another THUMP! THUMP! (You know the drill.)”

Silence. She stares at the ceiling.

Me: “What happens next?”

Clare: “Weeeelllll, she sees the bear and it’s not a grizzly bear, it’s a polar bear!”

Silence. More ceiling staring.

Me: “Oooh, a polar bear! Then what happens?”

Clare: “Then the bear eats her all up. The end.”

I got to exercise class early, as usual, and was feeling a little out of sorts. So instead of jamming myself into a corner to avoid the horse whisperer, I stood in front of the window so I would have something besides my own well-padded body to look at. (Especially unattractive while squatting.)

Big mistake.

The class wasn’t as full as usual, and who should come galloping in at the last minute? You guessed it.

Of course, she stood right behind me. And immediately. Started. Talking. At first she was all, “(My son) likes Clare a lot. He says they play together all the time!”

I knew I was in trouble when she moved closer and started talking in low tones. My first thought was, “Oh, god — no playdates. No playdates.” But what followed was worse.

“So The Husband might get laid off. Last round there were 2,500 layoffs, and we’re afraid he might be in the next round. So I’ve been job hunting. Actually, I have an interview tomorrow. I’ve been crying about it for days.”

Just as I was starting to wonder why she was telling me this, she gave me her intense, horse-eye stare, and said, “Anyway, if I got the job, I would need someone to take (my son) to day care.”

I gulped. My palms started sweating (not good when you’re about to pick up a barbell). Excuses started running through my head. (My car is unsafe! I have to get to work right after preschool! Please, anyone, help me think of a better one!)

Then she did it. “I was wondering if you could take (my son) from preschool to day care if I get the job.”

I barely know this woman! I would never ask a marginal acquaintance for a favor. Especially a RECURRING favor. What is the matter with her?

I cleared my throat. “Um, I guess, maybe, yeah, I might be able to do that.”

Why is it that all the world’s freaks and weirdos tell me their life stories and think I care? I guess that’s useful in the reporting department, but not in everyday life. I do not want to be connected to this woman. Have I become too Minnesota Nice? Do I need to tell her flat-out that I don’t want to be her friend? Dear Internets, help!

Ha! Parents with small children actually lose an hour. We spend the weekend of the clock turnback trying to keep their overtired little bodies up for an extra hour, then pay dearly when they wake up at the same time as usual anyway. Just try to ignore three whiny, delirious children for two days. I did my best, but let’s just say cocktail hour arrived an hour early Saturday and Sunday nights at the Fleming household.

On the upside, I made a delicious salmon-spinach salad that a less lazy person might have taken a picture of and posted the recipe for. Blame it on the wine.

Thanks to you, I finally found exercise I really enjoy doing. I get cranky when I miss your class. I have never met someone who is so passionate about working out and helping people get healthy.