July 18, 2005

little fish, big fish

Happiness is having an office with a door which I can close. To hold a critical meeting? Nope. To dial in to a crucial conference call? Aww, hell no. It's even more important than that... P.J. Harvey's "Down by the Water" came on iTunes and I needed to sing back up.

The closed door also comes in handy if you want to inhale a grilled cheese and fries for lunch without getting a disapproving once-over from the carb-eschewing fembots roaming the halls. Just an FYI...

on baby showers and being the seed of chuckie

We threw a baby shower for the second oldest McDimple Girl on Saturday. She gots lots of nice stuff including a GORGEOUS handmade quilt from the lovely and talented Filomena.

I really despise showers but I have to say that we ran an efficient and relatively painless one. The good thing about baby showers is that most of the presents are big (strollers, bouncy seats, etc.) so, unlike a bridal shower, you don't have to sit through the torture of opening one place setting after another. I seriously want to commit hari-kari at bridal showers.

I'm just glad it's done. The sister started her maternity leave so all that's left to do now is to patiently wait for the end of August when the newest member of our brood arrives. Her girth is mostly contained to her belly so if I'm to believe the old wive's tale, I'm going to have a nephew to spoil (as opposed to the belief that a girl "steals your beauty" which means the face, ankles and everything else spreads and widens to freakish proportions.) My sister is all belly. But really, boy or girl makes no difference to moi. I'm just looking forward to another baby's powdery head to smell and kiss.

It was a really enjoyable weekend. Lots of giggling and good food. I stayed at the oldest sister's house on Friday night. The youngest McDimple was there already so we had a few drinks, chatted and half-watched General Hospital on SOAPnet. I used to follow that show religiously but I'm completely lost now. Who the fuck are these people? And how come Mac is no longer Australian? Isn't he Robert Scorpio's brother? I distinctly remember Mac washing ashore in Port Charles with a thick (yet very fake) Aussie accent. And now he sounds like he's from Ohio. WTF?! I guess the powers-that-be can add and drop accents without worry since they have no qualms about completely replacing actors mid-run. Like, who is this broad playing Felicia now?! Again, WTF?!

ANYhoo, as I was getting ready for the shower on Saturday morning, The Adorable Five-Year-Old Niece joined me in front of the bathroom mirror. She likes to help me get ready so I usually let her put a tiny bit of pomade on her fingers and work it through my hair. She believes that by doing that, she's solely responsible for the curl. She takes great pride in it, as a matter of fact.

After putting the finishing touches on my mop, the Niece watched intently as I applied lipstick. When I was done, she said, "You look like a doll."

I wasn't sure if that was a compliment because, well, some dolls are really scary looking, what with those freaky eyes and that dull hair.

"Excuse me?" I asked as visions of Chuckie danced through my head.

"You look like a doll."

"Um, is that a good thing?"

It turns out it was. She couldn't quite articulate why but she was at least able to reassure me that she meant it in a nice way. It's a little bizarre to have a kid who's five tell me, a 31-year-old woman, that I look like one of her play things but whatever, I'll take the compliment.

July 13, 2005

breaking news

As some of you may recall, I reported a strange noise and an errant yogurt lid in my Tiny Wee Studio some weeks back. Against my better judgment, I convinced myself that it was merely a roach of freakish size and strength that found its way into my garbage can, removed a yogurt lid, licked it clean and abandoned it several feet away from the trash can. Despite all evidence pointing to the contrary, I did not want to believe that it was a m-o-u-s-e.

Just the same, I armed myself to the teeth with Tomcat Snap Traps. I was hesitant to use glue traps because I'm not in the business of doling out slow death via an adhesive but at the same time, I'm not keen on having filthy vermin as a roommate.

So for the past few weeks, I made the rounds to CVS, Eckerd and Duane Reade and picked up a variety of weapons to help me in my task. I proceeded to create a treacherous perimeter around my stove since all evidence pointed to that area as the place of entry/exit. I even dropped a poison packet behind the stove and said, "Eat this, bitch." And why, just yesterday I added four more glue traps to the minefield.

You know, between the rodents, the violent asides, the weaponry and the barricades, this story is a little bit Ruby Ridge, Raw Deal, Les Miserables and Stuart Little all rolled into one. If Stuart Little ate from my garbage can and didn't wear pants, of course.

Anyhoo, after several weeks of frayed nerves, I was finally beginning to relax, safe in the knowledge that the area around my stove was secure.

That was premature of me.

I got home around 9:30 tonight. As usual, I flipped on the light and cautiously peered around the refrigerator to see if I had netted me any rodents. Truthfully, I never wanted to catch anything. I don't like killing stuff nor do I like disposing of bodies. In particular, I simply did not want to deal with the possibility that one of the victims might still be alive and squealing bloody murder because its fucking feet were glued to a gooey piece of plastic.

I was seriously hoping that any intruder would see the obstacles in its path and think, "This shit ain't worth it," and then turn around and go back where it came from. Alas, that's not what happened tonight.

Much to my horror, three of the glue traps were flipped over and two of them were stuck together. The Snap Traps were scattered far and wide. In my head, I heard that siren alarm thing that goes whoop! whoop! whoop! The perimeter has been breached! I repeat, the perimeter has been breached!

As far as I was concerned, a monstrous-sized m-o-u-s-e or dare I say, r-a-t, had taken a battering ram to my force field and made its way into my sacred space. So I did what most soldiers would do in the face of such adversity -- I leapt onto my Pier One love seat, sweated through my clothes in a panic and began whimpering.

I tried paging The Super on the emergency line but I couldn't get through because the number had changed. I called his office and tried copying down the new number left on the recording but my hands were weak and shaking violently and the end result looked like something a toddler scrawled.

I knew I had The Super's cell number on my computer so I turned on my PC to retrieve it. While waiting for the computer to start up, I leap-frogged across some furniture to get a sensible pair of shoes and a flashlight.

And then I heard a noise coming from the radiator. Abandon ship! Abandon ship! I grabbed the flashlight, my keys and the cordless phone and got the hell out of my apartment.

I banged on The Super's door to no avail. I ran out to the building's entrance and repeatedly pressed his buzzer but there was no response. I was near hysterics. I was about to call The Masseuse and beg her to let me crash at her place for the night, but then, like a miracle, The Super walked by!!! I totally pounced.

"There is something in my apartment! You should see what it did to my system of traps! You have to come and kill it!"

My voice was trembling. I was sweating and shaking like a leaf. I surprised even myself with my histrionics. The Super took pity on me, investigated the noise and promised to be back shortly to plug up the holes. But first he had to drop off a friend a few blocks away.

I did a quick mental calculation and realized that I would have to be alone in my apartment with the beast for at least 20 minutes. That was unacceptable. So I said, "I'm going to wait for you outside."

With phone and keys in hand, I walked out to the front stoop and made frantic phone calls to The Masseuse and Supah and they both talked me through my bout of crazy until The Super came back. (Thanks again, ladies!)

The Super entered my apartment and within five minutes, he came back out to announce that he had found the m-o-u-s-e. All he needed was a stick and a bucket. Um, what? I was horrified but sort of elated at the same time. Again, I don't condone murder but I was more than willing to turn a blind eye to the brutal beating that was about to go down in my Tiny Wee Studio. That fucker had terrorized me for the past three weeks and well, I was feeling less than compassionate.

Another five minutes passed and then The Super emerged triumphant from my apartment. He carried the body of the lifeless victim in a Target bag. I peppered him with questions about its size and whereabouts. Apparently, the m-o-u-s-e got its foot caught in one of the Snap Traps near the stove (score!) and then got stuck in a hole near the radiator on its way back out (hence, the creepy noise I heard that sent me scurrying for the exit).

I'm sure the thing freaked out when the plastic contraption clamped down on its foot so it started running around in a frenzy thereby upending the glue traps and scattering and snapping the other traps in its wake. Oh.my.God. Can you imagine if this happened when I was home?!?! If I saw that scene unfold with my own eyes and heard the traps snapping like castanets, I would have run out of the Tiny Wee Studio never to return.

I tried piecing together the forensics when I returned to my apartment but it's too gross to even think about. It's almost comical in a sick way but I do feel sort of bad for the dumb thing. Just the same, I'm glad it's gone.

And now I have the task of fighting off a serious case of the willies. I feel a little bit better now that I've finished scouring every surface in my apartment with Clorox Clean-up. Furthermore, I have an area rug, a kitchen mat and a bath mat all rolled up and ready to be thrown out. Why you ask? Well, for one, I'm a lunatic and b) the deceased dragged a trap clear across my apartment in an effort to save itself. Call me a fuss pot but if I can't disinfect an object in the presumed path of the m-o-u-s-e with bleach, it's going in the garbage.

And now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to the Dumpster and then I'm going to take the longest shower of my life.

July 06, 2005

on timing, live 8 and my scottish granny talking smack

I subscribe to the Real Simple.com Daily Thought newsletter. Call me sappy but I like receiving a snippet of wisdom and/or inspiration every day. The emails are sent to my work address so I had several to catch up on this morning after the very long weekend. I found this one to be particularly fitting considering my recent financial distress:

"I'm living so far beyond my income that we may almost
be said to be living apart."
— e.e. cummings

True dat, e.e.

I also find it equally fitting that on the day I went to Jersey with my tail between my legs seeking financial aid from my parents (Saturday), a series of concerts was held the world over to promote debt forgiveness. I don't mean to place my self-imposed sentence in debtor's prison on the same level as severe global poverty but the timing didn't go unnoticed my moi. 'Cause I'm self-absorbed like that.

Speaking of Live 8, I completely support the purpose and intent behind this massive undertaking. At first I was all skeptical of the free tickets and the bold, "We don't want your money" declaration. Huh?! I was all whatchoo tawkin' bout, Willis? But then I thought about it and I understand now. The concerts headlined every newscast on Saturday and Sunday. I watched various roundtable discussions and debates on poverty, fair trade, self-sufficiency, et al. MTV and VH-1 correspondents broke down those very complex topics for their viewers. Some might say that it was one-sided or overly simplistic but you really can't argue with helping people. Whether Saturday's concerts resonate or are quickly forgotten, awareness was at least raised. And maybe some people will take the extra step to write a check, volunteer or help in some other way. Even I can't be cynical about that.

I watched bits and pieces of the concerts both on TV and on the web. It was exciting but, at the same time, I felt that it lacked some of the punch of the original Live Aid. Not in terms of effort or emotion though. In 1985, the concert wasn't available on multiple cable channels and the internet. We had to make do with MTV's whim as their coverage jumped back and forth from Philadelphia to London. As odd as it sounds, the availability and abundance of choice for this year's event restricted my enjoyment somewhat. The original played hard to get. It turns out I like that as much in a global event as I do in a girl.

I was so excited on the day of the original Live Aid. It was a gorgeous summer day but the streets of my neighborhood were barren. Everyone -- including me -- was holed up at home watching the concerts on MTV.

Make fun all you want but I nearly peed when Wham! took the stage. I called up my best friend to gush about George and Andrew. We then discussed which city had the better lineup. She was all about America but I felt compelled to take up for the Brits. Sorry but at the risk of sounding un-American, Do They Know It's Christmas? kicks We Are the World's ass. But we put our issues of nationalism aside and agreed on several other key points: Paul Young looked really cute during his set and Mick Jagger danced like a tard in the video for "Dancing in the Streets." I also added that I didn't quite care for David Bowie's pants in that same video. My best friend agreed. Meeting adjourned.

I nearly lost my shit when Madonna performed with the Thompson Twins. My granny from Scotland was visiting us at the time and even she watched the show. My granny was pretty cool. It was during that same visit that her American grandkids introduced her to the wonders of professional wrestling. By the time she went back to Rutherglen, she was bandying about terms like "sleeper hold" and complaining about the "dirty tactics" of The Iron Sheik. She also became quite fond of the Smurfs, as I recall.

So I cozied up next to my gran to share my excitement with her. Up until then, she was really enjoying the concert and was particularly chuffed while Elton John performed. But then she changed her tune when Maddy took the stage. She tsked and spat, "She's got a load of cheek, that one." I scowled at my granny. Hard.

But I got over it and quickly fell back in step with the show. I remember all of Wembley Stadium clapping and pumping their fists with Rockette-like precision during Queen's "Radio Gaga." I thought that was the coolest thing ever... until Phil Collins dropped his drumsticks in London, hopped aboard the Concorde and made it to Philly in time for the American finale. I thought that was pretty kick-ass as I'm far too lazy and jet lag-prone to do such a thing. I'm exhausted after visiting two boroughs in one day, nevermind two continents.

Oooh! I just found a list of every Live 8 performance by every singer/band in every city on AOL Music. Okay, so I take back what I say about my lack of excitement. This shit's cool.

July 02, 2005

i'm a [last name] girl

When my mother calls to check in on me, she asks about my health, my overall well-being and the rest of the usual mom-kid topics.

I tend to answer the questions about my health with extended and detailed reports. I'm a middle child and totally crave the attention so she gets an answer and then some. I freely answer those questions because they aren't personal. Thankfully my areas of medical woe don't pertain to my girly bits and pieces (knock wood). If they did, mama would be in the dark, let me tell you.

Questions about my overall well-being, however, are indeed personal so they're met with a canned "Things are fine" response. My mother tries to dig deeper but I'm quite good at stonewalling her. If I've learned anything over the years, it's how to hide things. I'm incredibly resourceful in this task and alarmingly quick with a believable ruse.

I might elaborate on certain elements but I'm careful to avoid conversations that could possibly segue into discussions about who I'm dating. My mother is always on the prowl for an "in," you see. Of course, sometimes she throws contextual relevance to the wind and will slip a question in there anyway. She can find boyfriend potential in a discussion about my switching from All to Tide with Bleach. It used to make me all hyper and crazed but now I can dismiss it with a casual, "When there's someone worth mentioning, you'll know." And I do mean that.

You see, I'm a control freak. I moderate and modulate the course of conversations. Rarely do they get away from me. I'm in charge of the information and emotions I share. If there's going to be a big reveal, it's because I orchestrated it.

But during yesterday's check-in, I was forced to concede some power to my mother. I'm in a bit of a financial bind so I asked for help. And, thankfully, she and my father are going to provide.

Our conversation was varied and rather freewheeling (for us, at least). We covered a lot of terrain as my mother tried to get to the bottom of my financial aches and pains. I didn't foresee this happening but one topic led to another and before long, I confessed to my mother that for the past five years, I've been seeing a psychiatrist and taking antidepressants.

Whoa, where'd that come from?

My mother's voice started to shake. She fought back tears... but not for the reasons I feared. I used to worry that her stiff upper lip and British reserve would make her scoff at therapy. I thought she'd find it silly. She gave me no reason to believe that but, in my head, it was a very real fear.

There was a momentary silence. Her voice shook when she finally found the words. She was angry and hurt that I didn't tell her. I felt such shame in that moment. My mother was completely crushed. I apologized and assured her that it was my own fears and insecurities that made me hide it so long.

But that's not entirely true.

I always knew that if my mother knew of my condition, she'd ask why I was depressed. And sure enough, she did. She asked if it was just my money situation weighing me down. Yes, my debt is a huge problem but really the biggest anchor in my life is the secret I carry around with me day in and day out.

But was this the time to tell my mother that her daughter is a lesbian? I considered it briefly but then decided against it. So I continued to blame my finances.

My mother pleaded, "Are you sure that's all it is?!" It's like she knows and was hoping that for once in my life I'd stop being selective with my revelations and fully confide in her.

But I continued my lie and said quietly, "No, it's just the money."

I'm not sure if I missed my opportunity or perhaps opened the door to one. I'm going to see my parents today. Maybe I'll fully open up. Maybe not.

Part of the reason I keep a blog without my real name on it is so that I can write freely, without expectation and without limits. Anonymity liberates me. My real last name carries weight. Certain behavior is expected of those of us who bear it. I don't mean to seem overly dramatic but that's honestly the way it is. It's not even my parents who put that pressure on us -- it's always come from teachers, clergy, friends, relatives and acquaintances.

We were well-adjusted, well-behaved kids who didn't cause embarrassment or shame for our parents. We did our homework and our chores. We were polite to our elders. We wrote thank-you notes. We were far from perfect but when we partook in naughty dealings, we were smart enough to cover our tracks.

In grammar school, my sisters and I were in an exclusive set -- we were the [Last Name] Girls. The principal addressed us as such and it trickled down. We were among the families who were judged as a whole. We weren't allowed to ever waiver or falter in our studies. Whereas teachers abandoned hope and didn't expect much from other kids (sadly), we were raked over the coals in a spectacular and very public fashion.

[Last Name] Girls only received good grades. Extra-credit assignments and extra-curricular activities weren't optional for us -- we were expected to do those things. If we didn't volunteer or participate, we were shamed and accused of laziness. We were reminded of our Last Name and then subsequently bludgeoned with it.

Each of us was held to a high standard set by the older sister. Comparisons were made constantly. If I had trouble with math (oh, and I did!) I was reminded that my sisters ran circles around me in the subject. I was mocked and told I was "nothing like the rest of the [Last Name] Girls." Even though I heard that quite a bit, it always shocked me and took my breath away. That was so painful. I felt like I disappointed my family and tarnished our good name. And then I'd lower my head so that no one could see the hot tears quickly filling my eyes and overflowing onto the lined sheets of my marble notebook.

Mercifully, I went to a large public high school where teachers didn't know one [Last Name] Girl from the next. For the first time, I worked my ass off to get good grades and joined activities for ME and my future, not to uphold some legacy someone else saddled me with.

To this day, the [Last Name] Family is known for having its shit together. We're happy and well-adjusted. My parents have a cute house with a lush green lawn, sun catchers in the windows and a bird feeder in the backyard. My father is an usher at 9:00 Mass every Sunday morning. My mother attends the same service. She arrives early and waves to her friends sitting in their usual pews. The Monsignor knows the [Last Name] Girls by name, occupation and location. He delights in telling us how proud our father is of his four girls. He marvels at our loving, cohesive unit and reminds us how lucky we are. I get the same speech every time I see the Monsignor but despite the repetition, he speaks with conviction and enthusiasm.

While the Monsignor gives his spiel, I put on a false face of unequivocal agreement. But inside, I think of my secret. Would my father still be proud if he knew? Would we still be a cohesive unit? Or would I fracture my family beyond repair? What would people think of the [Last Name] Family if they knew one of them was gay?

Sometimes I visualize how revealing my secret might play out. I revel momentarily in the relief being unburdened provides. But the comfort is short-lived because the pressure of being a [Last Name] Girl creeps in. I'm reminded of the nuns' admonitions and taunts that I'm "not like the rest of them." And that still shocks me and takes my breath away. At the same time, I'm proud of what makes me different from my sisters.

My mind is in a million places right now. I feel like the truth is playing tug of war with obligation and for once, obligation isn't winning.