Conquering Fears One Rung at a Time

And then I took the gift cards that I received from the parents at my preschool after saving them for the perfect treat for myself and put them all towards a futon mattress for Levi’s new bunk bed. Last year, I bought myself some nice bras, which was a special treat and very, well, uplifting. But we needed a futon mattress for the new bunk bed. Twin on top, fold out full futon on the bottom. It’s a piece of junk, really. I certainly wasn’t expecting Ethan Allen quality for $182.00, but it looks cool and provides sleeping options for him and for guests. And if he decides he hates it in a year or two, we don’t have to feel like we Kiddie Soccered* our money.

Kiddie Soccer: Transitive verb. Orig. Latin. Kiddicus Soccerus. To invest non-refundable, non-transferrable money in the name of good parenting for the purpose of enhancing a child’s development and facilitating early admission to the Ivy League university of your choosing to learn that opening an account for your child’s inevitable, out of network therapy would have been a far better use of funds.

First, we bought a bunk bed for Asher after months of begging and after we were satisfied that he wouldn’t change his mind in a week’s time. Even then, we chose to buy a used bunk bed. A friend’s son decided that he had outgrown his bunk bed once he started bringing home young ladies who had something else in mind when he asked them if they preferred to be on top. Asher didn’t care that it was used or that it didn’t match his furniture. He was on top of the world in his bunk bed.

Levi, however, was crestfallen – his words having watched his fair share of Word Girl. He wanted a bunk bed, too. Two bunk beds for two kids seemed difficult to justify – at first. But then we imagined all the sleepovers and out of town guests and foreign exchange students from Brazil whose greatest pleasure it would be to sleep in a bunk bed with our kids.

Bunk bed - junk bedWhen I found this $182 piece of metal, I was instantly transported to the swing set of my youth. The structure sat firmly in ground – mostly – bar one leg that rose from the earth with every swing pump backwards. We always figured the three other legs were secure enough to keep us all swinging without catastrophe, so we went higher and higher not only to touch the clouds with our feet but to watch the leg of the swing set surface in satisfying pump synchronization.

This bunk bed shifted with every step up the ladder and yet was completely sturdy. I didn’t anticipate that its motion would terrify our 7-year-old. Nor did I consider the fact that there was no opening at the top of the ladder to be a deterrent. But once Levi got to the top and realized he’d have to launch himself a few inches higher to clear the rail, he climbed right back down-slowly, nervously, and relieved that he’d never have to take that journey again. For him, that extra effort on top of the perilous ascension was the last straw – like when I finally gave birth to Asher after 33 ½ hours of unmedicated labor only to be told I’d need to push out the placenta. Lucky for everyone in that room, I was too exhausted to hurl that placenta at anyone after I finally pushed that sucker out. The closed rail was Levi’s placenta, metaphorically speaking.

Levi was crestfallen once more. His parents bought him a bunk bed of doom. His disappointment was a dagger in Gabriella’s heart. I told her that he’d get used to it – that one day he’d love it. She was unconvinced. Each night, Levi would go to sleep on the bottom bunk in Asher’s room, and each night she would scour websites for deals on bunk beds. I may have done the same, but I refused to make a move until I was convinced that all hope was lost. I also refused to buy the futon mattress for the bottom bunk just in case.

We placed a 6-foot-tall utility ladder next to his bunk bed – sort of a training ladder. He complained that the rungs of the bunk bed ladder hurt his feet. I tried the ladder myself and found those thin, metal rungs to be absolutely excruciating, so we wrapped each rung in foam padding. Still, he resisted.

And one day, in his own time, he was ready. He climbed up. He climbed down. He refused to be defeated. And while I was making breakfast, he dragged the ladder out of his room all by himself. He had no need for it, anymore. Of course, I recorded his flight up and his landing so that Gabriella could witness his accomplishment. And then I bought him a futon mattress with my gift cards because no matter how uplifting a new bra can be, conquering fear is always an accomplishment worth supporting.

The Tooth Fairy Eats What?

Levi lost his fifth tooth, his lateral incisor. That, in itself, is relatively insignificant considering current events across the world. I bring it up because in preparing for the inevitable loss, Levi had plenty of time to consider the note that he would leave for the tooth fairy, which would willingly transport me beyond current events across the world if only for a brief time.

As the roots of his baby tooth dissolved a little bit more each day, he thought of questions that he would pose in the card that would accompany his tooth. And with every passing day, I considered how the tooth fairy might answer.

I give you Levi’s card to the tooth fairy.

Card to tooth fairy

In exchange for his card and tooth, the tooth fairy left a letter and a dollar.

 

Dear Levi,

Thank you so much for your beautiful card! Your rainbow made me smile, and your pictures of me visiting you were very imaginative. You asked many thoughtful questions. I will try to answer them as best I can.

Why don’t you show anyone yourself?

I am a special kind of fairy that is not visible to the human eye. Maybe one day someone will invent lenses that enable people to see me.

What’s your name?

We speak a language that only fairies understand. Human mouths cannot make the shapes or sounds required to pronounce my name, which is why the world simply calls me “Tooth Fairy.” Whether you can say my name or not, I love you just as much.

What do you eat?

I eat all sorts of things, but most of my food is made from children’s teeth. I cook the teeth until they are soft so I can mix them in delicious soup made with seasonal ingredients such as flower nectar, dandelion roots and wild berries. The teeth provide me with the calcium, minerals and vitamins I need to stay strong and fly all over the world. The stronger your teeth are, the more nutritious my food is. I can tell from your teeth that you like to eat oatmeal, chicken, broccoli and watermelon. It is wonderful that you eat so many healthy foods. The better your diet, the stronger you and your teeth will be! I thank you, Levi!!

Are tooth fairies magic?

I love all the children who leave teeth for me, and I can tell they love me, too. Love is magic!

Do you have a family?

Yes, I live with a community of fairies, and we love each other very much and help each other with all sorts of jobs. There are many kinds of fairies, but we all do our best to keep Earth healthy.

Where do you get the money?

Fairies withdraw money from a hidden bank where all the money is safe. We get that money from donations grown-ups make to thank us for all of our work. We are grateful to all of the generous grown-ups in the world who allow us to give money to wonderful children like you.

What do you look like?

I have never seen a reflection of myself, so I am not sure what I look like. I can tell you that my ears are pointier on top than yours. I would love to see more pictures of what you think I look like.

I enjoyed responding to your questions, and I hope you liked reading my answers. Thank you for your lateral incisor. I feel stronger, already.

Remember to brush your teeth and floss with care. Looks like you are doing a good job, but you must do even better with your adult teeth. I know you can do it!!

All my love, 

The Tooth Fairy

 

When Gabriella read the letter that the tooth fairy left for Levi, all she could say was, “She eats teeth?!? That’s weird. And kind of gross.”

“Well, it’s no more gruesome than the kinds of things you read in Grimms’ fairy tales. I think it makes it more realistic. And thanks so much for acknowledging the great deal of thought that the tooth fairy put into her letter, bee-atch.”

“Sorry, Honey. It’s a great note. I just never thought that the tooth fairy was a tooth-eater. She sounds more Jack and the Beanstalk giant than fairy.”

“True. And she neglected to add that if the teeth aren’t filling enough, she flies into parents’ rooms and gnaws on funky looking toes–funky toes because she figures they’re already so misshapen and gnarly that no one would be the wiser. She probably didn’t want to alarm anyone. You might want to consider sleeping with your socks on.”

Levi loved his note. He especially liked the fact that the tooth fairy appreciated his nutritious teeth. But mostly he was impressed that she could tell that he flosses. He’s very proud of his flossing, and there’s nothing like a little positive reinforcement – especially when it comes from magical places.

Life Lessons from my Powder Room

Tweezer EnlightenmentThe other day, I unearthed an old lipstick – like Y1K old. It was a MAC lipstick called Gleam, and it was the perfect shade of shimmery brownish plum that had summery fun written all over it. The lipstick itself had seen better days, so I made my way to the fancy shmancy mall a few towns away. I am not a mall shopper. This was serious business, however, and worth walking amongst the impossibly wealthy and surgically altered. I hiked up my low-riding cargo shorts and marched into MAC only to discover that MAC made the egregious error of discontinuing my happy hue.

The MAC stylist recommended a combination of lipstick and liner that, blended together with a top layer of gloss, would come sort of kind of not really close to Gleam to which I replied, “If you couldn’t tell already, I’m a low-maintenance kind of girl.” I shuffled around each make up counter in search of a Gleam substitute. Nothing. So, I left.

It got me thinking about my make up, how little I use most of the time but how much time I spend looking for just the right color or tool for those special occasions when I do put in the effort. And then, I lost my favorite set of tweezers.

Where are you going with all of this, Deborah?!? Well, it’s my winding way of explaining how I got to thinking about my primping and preening products and how I take them for granted. The fact is that I have much to learn from them all.

I give you Life Lessons from my Powder Room.

 

Tweezers

When I lost my favorite pair of tweezers, I refused to buy a new pair because I was determined to find what I considered to be an irreplaceable tool. They sat in my hand perfectly, and the tweezers and I moved as one, the pincers like an extension of my fingers. After a few days and a whisker taunting me from beneath my chin, I broke down and bought a new pair. My new tweezers are beyond perfect. They make my old tweezers seem like chopsticks.

Life Lesson: Today’s loss may be tomorrow’s find.

 

Bleach/Wax

When Gabriella and I were early into our relationship, we spent days into nights together in her apartment in Chicago. During that honeymoon phase, we were gentle with each other and put our best foot/feet forward. Those were the days when quirks were adorable, and we never criticized each other. Then there was that morning when we were both in the bathroom getting ready for our day together. Gabriella stood behind me as if to marvel at the adorable couple staring back at us from the bathroom mirror. In fact, she wasn’t marveling. She was inspecting.

“Have you ever considered doing something about that?” she asked as she pointed to the corners of my upper lip. In my 25 years of life, I had never once considered the shadow of a mustache that any 13-year-old boy would have envied. I honestly had never even noticed.

As if I had eaten a bit of the apple in the Garden of Eden, I was immediately aware of how Eastern European I was. By no means am I implying that all upper lip hair should be removed or that lady facial hair is less than beautiful. I, however, did not care for the ‘stache on my face. It made my ass look big – or something. It was a hard realization, but I’m forever grateful.

Life Lesson: Trust the people who love you, and empower them to gift you hard truths.

 

Hair Spritz

I have straight, fine hair. My Semitic sisters pay hundreds of dollars in the salon for hair like mine. My straight, fine hair, however, hangs off my disproportionately small head and narrow face and does nothing to balance my pear-shaped, pinheaded body. So I spritz and volumize. I flirt with that line between voluminous and Jersey Girl, but it happens that bigger hair makes me feel good about myself. When I look in the mirror, I don’t see a stringy-haired waif head atop a Weeble body. My spritz is my friend, and I don’t travel without her.

Life Lesson: Friends are like hair products. If they’re not lifting you up, they’re weighing you down.

 

Lipstick

When I first came out of the closet, I opted into the notion that lesbians were not supposed to subscribe to the patriarchy’s definition of beauty. I cut my hair short, and let my leg hair grow long. Very long. I wore baggy clothes that hid my curves, and I refused to wear make up. One day, my boss took me out for lunch and lipstick shopping. I submitted to her “Decorate the Lesbian” folly for the free lunch. But when I tried some lipstick on, I felt like a new woman. I didn’t want to like painted-me, but it was no use. That brings us full circle to my search for MAC’s Gleam. Lipstick has become an essential part of my face now that I have stopped paying attention to what I am supposed to do or not do.

Life Lesson: The only person you have to please is you. You do you!!

The Lipstick Lesson reminded me of my Coming Out story for last year’s Pride Story Slam, which was previously posted. The video is attached here for the full story.

Gender Norms are Messing with Our Moves

Fifth Position

“Sometimes I want to be a girl,” Levi said in passing. Twice now on different occasions. I, being the open-minded, supportive mother that I am, wanted to ask questions, explore, process, get to the bottom of this statement. Did he feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body? Did he feel shut out from a world he associated with girls? Would he rather sit on the bowl but does not feel empowered to do so? Did he want to change his name to Laverne?

“What could you do if you were a girl that you can’t do as a boy?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you feel like you don’t want to be a boy?”

“No, I like being a boy.”

“You do realize that there’s nothing a girl can do that a boy can’t do,” I said prepared to speak to the baby issue with all the words about the many ways to make a family, but it was unnecessary.

“Yeah. I know.”

I didn’t dig any further. There was something he wasn’t telling me, but he clearly was not prepared to share. I had my suspicions, though. Unlike his brother who definitely marches to the beat of his own drum, Levi has been hyper aware of social norms from an early age, eager to fit in. He is constantly observing fashion trends, cool hairstyles as well as opting in to the always crowd-pleasing use of bathroom words and bodily functions. His older brother is in awe of Levi’s ability to belch on command. Levi is also acutely aware of gender norms. Girls have long hair. Boys have short hair. Girls wear pink. Boys NEVER wear pink. Boys watch “Frozen,” but only girls sing along. Girls take dance lessons. Boys do NOT.

MovesLevi is a dancer. He cannot stop himself from moving when there is music. Even in the car, he’ll dance to any music playing – seatbelts be damned! It’s amazing how he can twist his body into so many different shapes from a seated position. And when he’s standing, his 5th position reveals his crazy turn-out. He’s a natural. And naturally, he doesn’t want to take dance lessons. In part, he is shy about his dancing because he doesn’t want anyone to make fun of him once he gets going, once he allows the music to take hold of his body. But mostly, I fear that he has convinced himself that dance lessons are exclusively for girls.
We’re on a mission, Gabriella and I, to chip away at these assumptions he’s made during his years as a keen student of our societal norms. We’ve shown him videos of amazing dance crew competitions and So You Think You Can Dance as well as a little bit of Justin Timberlake. The other day, we took the boys to see Newsies, one of the dancingest musicals on Broadway with only one woman in an otherwise all-male cast. We wanted him to see men dancing and we wanted him to hear the audience applaud and roar with approval. He loved it. And yet. To date, we cannot convince him to even check out a dance lesson let alone participate. His moves are his own, he says.

 

Is it the dancing that has him thinking about his alter ego, Laverne? I’m not completely sure, but my mother gut says that’s what it is. And my mother gut tells me not to Let it Go. Cue that frikkin’ Frozen song because we can’t escape its power. In the meantime, we keep the tunes playing in the car and in the kitchen, and we dance in the privacy of our own home and let the music take hold of our bodies, boys and girls alike.

When Poop Picks Itself up

Playful boys

Playful boys

We had a dog. Temporarily. Friends finally took us up on our offer to dog-sit. While I have not yet given in to the pleas of our children AND my spouse, I have proactively invited friends to leave their dogs with us when they go on vacation. Last week, we were dog-sitting Rex, the charcoal-colored, mostly miniature poodle mix.

I cast the dog veto in this house. I am the only one in this family who has ever had a dog. When I was a kid, our dogs were like siblings – siblings who were always happy to see me and never irritated me. They were good girls, a mother/daughter pair. When I think of Mitzie (Mitzvah) and Allie (Alef), I remember teaching them to sit and shake hands/paws. I remember making elaborate pillow forts where we all hid, and I remember keeping each other company any time of day or night.

I also remember listening to my mother shriek, “No! Stop!! STOP!!!” when they sat down in the living room and pulled their hind quarters forward with their front legs, slowly dragging themselves along our white, shag carpet, relieving a bothersome itch and leaving a brown trail in their wake.

I remember hearing heaving noises knowing that I would soon be called upon to clean up fresh, chunky, steaming dog vomit from our floor. I gagged the entire time, and I gag now thinking about it. Dog vomit PTSD.

I remember our dogs growing old, blind and deaf but still present. I would lift an ear and yell directly into it, “MITZIE!! WANNA GO OUT?” And Mitzie would raise her doggie brows and try to track the distant sound of a far-off invitation and then I would watch her walk towards that sound only to find her nose flattened against a wall.

I was not responsible for our dogs. My stay-at-home-mother was. I am the mother of this house, and this mutha has no interest in taking care of one more living creature – a creature that never becomes more independent with age.

Until this visit, people would ask us when we were getting a dog as if that was as inevitable as death. “My mom won’t let us have a dog,” was the answer the boys would provide. I hated that answer because it was true.

Rex was (is) a very sweet dog. He was also gentle and easy and playful and the boys loved him. “Why don’t you make a pillow fort and see if Rex wants to play inside of it with you?” I have asked the children all week. “That’s a great idea!” was the answer. During his visit, no child built a pillow fort.

“Who is coming on a walk with Rex and me?” I asked the children all week. “Nah. We’ll stay home” was the answer. “You can never have a dog if you aren’t willing to walk it.” “Uch, fiiiiiine.”

“Who wants to pick up the poop?” I asked all week long. “NOT ME!” was the answer. “You can never have a dog if you aren’t willing to pick up the poop.” “Well, I’ll pick up poop of our own dog.” “Yeah? Well, if you can’t do this now, then I have no indication that you will do this later.” During his visit, no child picked up poop.

We remain a dog-sitting family as opposed to a dog-owning family until further notice. And now when people ask us when we’re

Levi and Rex.

Levi and Rex.

getting a dog, I have made it clear that the answer is not, “Mom won’t let us have a dog.” The answer is, “When poop picks itself up.”

 

Fingered and Smeared

IMG_7858

Why is a throat culture a culture and a Pap smear a smear?

IMG_7857Forgive me, Doctor, for I have sinned. It’s been six years since my last physical. It’s not that I didn’t want to go, it’s just that I am doctor’s daughter, and I learned at a young age that if my head was still attached to my neck by at least one singular strand of tissue, I was absolutely fine and in no need of medical care. Don’t judge. I’m trying.

I called my internist after my six-year hiatus to schedule an appointment. I like her because she does the whole shebang, physical, Pap, boob job, the whole enchilada. Except, come to find out, that six years later, she doesn’t.

Because I see a doctor who is part of an enormous medical group of internists and specialists who work on a huge campus, I was able to choose another doctor who did it all and who happened to be available when I was. Did I ask for recommendations or search for reviews? No. I just wanted someone, anyone, who could look under the hood and send me on my way.

Dr. K greeted me with pleasantly forced smile on her pinched face and a light handshake. She was probably five to ten years my junior and a few inches taller. Under her doctor’s coat, she wore a form-fitting red dress cut above her knees that accentuated her exceptionally ample and gravitationally defiant rack. Imagine Benny Hill’s head on Joan Harris’s body.

Benny Hill

joan-harris-mad-men-tv-show-mobile-wallpaper-1080x1920-10218-2885619646

Now, while I live in a very diverse town, the medical group on this enormous campus is elsewhere and pulls from many other less diverse towns. So, I was sadly not at all surprised when I handed my new doctor my new patient form and we had the following exchange as she entered my details in the computer:

Doctor K: Married?

Me: Yes.

Doctor K: Two children?

Me: Yes, two.

Doctor K:  Did you intentionally check homosexual on the form?

Me: (Here we go.) Yes.

Doctor K:  And you’re married?

Me: Yes.

Doctor K: So, then you’re married…to a woman?

What I wanted to say: And you graduated from medical school?!?

Me: That would be correct.

Doctor K: Ok. I’m just making sure.

What she wanted to say: Don’t blame me for making a completely normal assumption that you were straight, and also…ew.

What I wanted to say: And you “make sure” with all your new patients that they intentionally selected “heterosexual” and “married?”

Me: It’s fine.

But it wasn’t fine, because I spent the rest of the exam wondering if she thought I made the appointment just to get some action.

Doctor K: Any problems with your breasts?

What I wanted to say: Only that I can never find a good bra. That is clearly not an issue for you, and I’d love for you tell me where you get yours.

Me: No problems.

Doctor K: Now, people like you have the option to do an STD screening. Do you want it?

What I wanted to say: What the fuck do you mean, “people like you?!?” Parents? Jews? Women with such pretty vaginas?

Me: Uh, I’ll pass.

Doctor K: Move down a little further on the table and place your feet in the stirrups. And two fingers…

What I wanted to say: Are you sure there are two up there? Not much girth to those girls, is there?

What I did say was nothing and walked out vowing to find myself a new doctor.

IMG_7858A lovely art installation caught my eye on the way out of the complex. Seemed an appropriate representation of my visit.

 

 

 

 

 

Muddied Dreams

Last night, I had a dream in two parts. In both parts, I was driving our mini-van. In Part I, the car is out of control, and I am heading over the side of the road and into a large body of water only to turn at the last minute and narrowly save myself and my family from a soggy demise.

In Part II, directly following Part I with little appreciation for scene transitions or bridges or flow, only Gabriella and I are in the mini-van. Always the mini-van. I’m driving along when I realize I’ve driven us into some sort of parade or march, the purpose unclear. The participants were happy enough, festive even. It was more of a circus vibe – people in fancy dress prancing – celebrating as opposed to protesting. The minivan did not belong there, but there was no way out.  We had no choice but to drive along the same route as the performers or clowns or Radical Faeries or whatever they were.

I drove us along hoping that we’d be able to find a side street only to come to another body of water, well mud really that was unavoidable. Don’t ask why I couldn’t have pulled over or anything practical like that. My subconscious clearly had a script that my conscious mind did not. I drove our mini-van right into the mud hole knowing that it would get stuck and that we’d have to leave the car in whatever kind of pit it was that was swallowing it whole.

By the time we got out of the mini-van, the mini-van had morphed into an enormous hippopotamus, and it was happy as could be in its mud bath. Even though the Ring Master or Grand Marshall or whoever was irritated that we had abandoned our hippo-car teat-deep in mud, we were happy to have left that mess behind.

hippo

I’ve always subscribed to the thinking that the subject matter of a dream is not as important as how you feel when you wake up after that dream.  So, if you dream you kill your father with a pickaxe, but some how you wake up with a smile on your face, your dream most likely had nothing to do with killing your father – unless you have murderous feelings towards your father in which case you may have some stuff to work out.

When I woke up, I felt fine, neither disturbed nor relieved. I searched for dream sites that could translate the seemingly symbolic scenes. Mud represents mixed feelings about unclear situations that require patience and practical thinking. Dreaming that I am driving means that I am literally in the driver’s seat of my life. Water symbolizes a variety of things, but in this case, I’m most likely avoiding emotional upheaval. Apparently, a hippopotamus represents aggressive nature and hidden strength.

So, it made sense that I was not afraid or freaked out when woke up because apparently, I’m in control of my own destiny. While there may be uncertainties along the way, I seem to be moving in the right direction.

But now after having really considered all the various elements of the dream and my feelings about driving and mud and hippopotamuses (or hippopotami) I am sure of one very significant truism.

I spend way too much time in my mini-van.

First lesbian penguins in Ireland

Missy and Penelope courting

Gay boy penguins are more common than lesbian girl penguins. That is not to say that gay penguins are banal and mundane as the word common would imply, though if the shoe fits, etc.

Amongst male and female penguins, we don’t see the clear gender distinctions in

PHOTO CREDIT: GROSSMONT

PHOTO CREDIT: GROSSMONT

fabulousness that we do between other animals like the peacock and a peahen, for example. Males and female penguins look alike, which is likely a penguist thing of me to say. They probably look very different to each other. Point being, we cannot assume that it is gorgeous plumage or colorful disco bum that attracts males penguins to male penguins. But it does beg the question, why are there more gay penguins than lesbian penguins? Come on, girls! Invisibility is so Y1K.

 

Missy and Penelope courting

PHOTO CREDIT: IRISH EXAMINER

In an effort to take the bird by the bill, Missy and Penelope are waving the lesbian penguin flag. Lesguin? Pengubian? We need a catchier word because lesbian penguin is such a mouthful. Say it with me now…that’s what she said.

Kate Hall, head penguin keeper at Dingle Oceanworld in Ireland has reported the first known lesbian penguins at the aquarium. Six-year-old Missy and her sugar mama, seven-year-old Penelope, have been caught “exhibiting courting behaviour (as opposed to behavior without the u because when in Rome – or Ireland – etc.).

Surprisingly enough, courting behaviour between lesbian penguins has nothing to do with presenting your fish. Huh.

“The thing penguins do to show they like each other is they bow to each other and they are doing that,” says Hall. “When they come into breeding season, they do it to the penguin of their choice and it reinforces the bond between them.”

Surprisingly enough, when the lesbian suitor penguin bows down to the her suitee, the object of her affection does not respond with a series of vocalizations that mean, “While you’re down there…” Huh.

When you visit the Dingle Oceanworld website, you can read about all the penguins residing there. Missy is a “a fun loving girl, confident and brave” while Penelope “is a bit shy but absolutely loves swimming, preening, and keeping herself looking clean and beautiful.” No anthropomorphism going on there. Whatever their personality traits, the match seems to be a good one, probably because neither one of them hooked up with that tart, Pip who is “always in the thick of action and full of mischief.”

We certainly hope that their union is strong enough to withstand the challenges of long-term relationships. Central Park Zoo’s male penguins Roy and Silo parted after six years together when Silo took up with some crack whore named Scrappy, an interloper from SeaWorld. Roy and Silo’s daughter Tango has been with Tazuni, another lady penguin, for two breeding seasons, however. You go, Girls!

As for Missy and Penelope O’Penguin, I wish you all the best. Keep bowing down low and watch out for that Pip. Don’t let her give you her fish. She’ll probably give you crabs.

The Feng Shui of a cluttered box

My box is so cluttered. If a Feng Shui master were to assess my box, that master would most likely tell me that all the clutter is draining my energy, the energy in my box, my digital box. My digital energy is leaking, leaking from my box. I have a leaky digital box, and it is taking a toll of my actual life. My email inbox overfloweth.

My first personal email address was a Hotmail account in the 90s. I get very little mail there bar the occasional message from a select group of people for whom old habits die hard. I forgive them because I love them, but it is a constant reminder that I was on email when Hotmail was the only game in town – around the same time that I the Nokia 9000 was just as hot as Hotmail. Not. Notmail.

0*Ho7gFhEWQexZVoVt

Since setting up that address, I’ve opened up two Gmail accounts (because the first email handle just didn’t seem to present well on a resume), a North Jersey Pride account, my VillageQ email account, my Listen To Your Mother account, my Peaches & Coconuts account, a me.com account assigned to me in order to access iCloud, and a Yahoo account I used for a Yahoo group I joined once upon a Yahoo group era.

Apparently, email accounts are like handbags. I have an email account for every occasion and an account to match every hat that I wear. But, do I have more bags than I need? Do I know what’s in all my bags or will I find that organic beeswax, jojoba oil, lavender infused lip balm that I bought last year in the bag I haven’t used since May along with that Metro card with $30 on it that I know is somewhere? Maybe it’s not that I have too many email accounts but too many emails. I tend to hold on to more than I should. I do not have the reflexes I once had in Y1K to respond, file and delete at fast pace. Then again, I didn’t wear as many hats.

Caps for Sale

Caps for Sale

It’s been a year of YES. I took on more preschool hours and more extra curriculars. I am spread thin as my thighs spreads wide (and sadly not in a sexual way). I’m spending more time in front of the computer and eating mindlessly while I write, email, spreadsheet, schedule. Tonight’s menu includes a pairing of blog writing and chile & lime chips.

I’ve hit capacity. My leaky inbox can take no more, and I surrender to the limits of my abilities and my waistband. It’s time to filter, to focus, to cull, to let go.

Bridge and tunnel day

If the measure of a good day in the city were the number of bridges and tunnels one uses to take full advantage of each borough’s offerings, we would have scored quite highly this weekend. We missed out on perfect marks for skipping the Bronx.

In one outing, we found ourselves navigating the Holland Tunnel, the Williamsburg Bridge, the Kosciuszko Bridge (gazuntite), and the Manhattan Bridge on our tour of the boroughs.

We would eventually end up in Brooklyn hanging out with a college friend and her family, but we decided to build in some stops along the way. After all, it was sunny and warm, and we had hit our fire-in-the-fireplace quota for the season.

Stop 1. The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. It’s an odd thing to sexualize a shop that is not a sex shop. What makes a shop gay? Are all the employees gay? When a patron orders 2 scoops, can they only serve same-flavored scoops? Sure, there is a unicorn painted on the wall, and there are campy ice cream flavors like the Bea Arthur ice cream and the Salty Pimp, but maybe they could do with piping in some Big Gay show tunes or build on a Big Gay Backroom for some Big Gay Fun. I’m all for supporting the gays, and I’m pleased they’re representing our people in a positive way, but I was hoping for a bit more gay. The boys were happy enough with their ice cream, but much as we tried to use this stop as an opportunity to celebrate our Big Gay Family, they couldn’t care less what the name of the shop was.

0528_01 Big Gay Ice Cream menu

Stop 2. Russo Bakery in Maspeth, Queens to pick up some bread for dinner. This was Gabriella’s family’s bakery growing up, and she shared with me some memories of those days. “Apparently,” Gabriella informed me after we bought our semolina bread, “Russo bakery was involved in laundering money for the international Pizza Connection gang in the mid 80s. The Joseph Bonanno organized-crime syndicate had been smuggling about 330 pounds of heroin a year inside tomato cans.” Gabriella went on to tell me that this had nothing to do with her schoolmate Lenny’s uncle who was shot in a coffee shop around the same time. Lenny dated her cousin Rosalie (Little Ro, not Big Ro), but that didn’t end so well. She was also unclear if one of that other restaurant owner that was found in dead in a trunk was a part of the Pizza Connection, as well.

Suffice it to say that growing up in the northern suburbs of Chicago, there were few stories about money laundering or men in trunks. That’s not to say that there weren’t shady people and untoward behavior, but gossip usually revolved around plastic surgery and whether or not there was a tennis skirt worn so short at the local grocery store that there was a pube spotting.

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Stop 3. Brooklyn for dinner. Gabriella is blessed with amazing parking karma. I wish I could calculate all the money we’ve saved (and then immediately spent) on parking garages after my Gabriella has found street parking. In New York City. In the mini-van. My wife knows how to cram herself into tight places, that’s for sure! If you think that I’m alluding to anything sexual, you’d be misguided as there is nothing tight left after 2 births. I did, however, become markedly aroused after she maneuvered the mini-van into this spot without so much as brushing the other cars. I had to snap a shot. I’m a proud wife.

Magic parking

I’m also a proud wife watching Gabriella cook with my friend while her husband and I took our place on the other side of the kitchen island. It’s only right that the Korean and the Italian should take responsibility for dinner. When Ashkenazi Jews claim p’tcha as a delicacy, it becomes clear that we are not to be trusted preparing food. Ew.

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Uranus

We said good-bye to our friends, our primo parking spot and the boroughs as we drove through the Holland Tunnel once more. The boys were wired from a great night and entertained us with their knowledge of the solar system. Asher is obsessed with Uranus. Did you know that there is a ball of gas inside Uranus? Me, neither. Good times.