Monday, June 16, 2008

Ouch

Lambchop has gone off to Poodle Rescue and I am so sad. Could she have been trained not to lunge at children? Should I have waited it out longer? But if she had bitten someone it would have been curtains. Of course there is no easy answer. It's just sad. And I miss her. I had grown accustomed to her following me every where I went, greeting me at the door, taking her for a walk.

Geez.

I had not anticipated such a heavy heart and suspect it's tickled the scars of other losses, all the recent lettings go. And having a dog felt like home.

I tell myself there will be another dog some day, but not before Bets can be left alone in the house. Single parenting with a child who cannot be alone for 10 minutes while you walk the dog is too difficult and rescue dogs really just can't be trusted 100% with small children.

Meanwhile I distract myself of course, and today's topic are gun-owners who suddenly are all over the media saying they want to expose their guns, wear them so the whole world can see. Well I cannot be alone in my opinion that gun in this context (in almost all contexts) equals penis. Try this, below is a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe about exposed guns. Read and substitute the word penis for gun.

IT'S TIME for gun (penis) owners to come out of the closet ("In public, weapon owners no longer gun-shy," June 9). Many of us own guns (penises) to protect ourselves and those around us from criminals. Yet too many of us hide this fact by carrying handguns (penises) concealed. Open carry is a growing movement across the country among gun (penises) owners who choose to carry openly, both as a deterrent to crime and to educate people in their communities. In Manchester, N.H., most open-carry activists live in Ward 5, near where Officer Michael Briggs was killed in October 2006. These are people who, by carrying their firearms (penises) in plain sight, make the statement that they are willing to risk their lives to ensure that violent criminals will not kill a police officer or anyone else. People who choose to carry their firearms (penises) openly deserve our thanks, and those gun (penis) owners among us who still carry concealed, or do not carry, should consider carrying openly.

Still I'm sad.

Cross your fingers Lambchop has a future ahead full of love and good treatment. Cross your fingers gun (penis) toters will keep it in their pants.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Doggone It

Now where'd she go? Life has been a mix of poodle-mix and work and child and sweltering heat and springtime rain and here we are in June already. Where'd May go?

I told you so. I told you so. I told you so.

Feel free.

Life with a dog is super wicked hard and this dog in particular has a problem. She doesn't like small children. So now I have a problem and it's wrapped in blonde fur with brown eye bows and a cotton tail. Lambchop has bonded to me in a way that belies the past abuse it's pretty clear she's suffered. I am her savior. I could take food out of her mouth. I could share her favorite bone. I could wipe her tushy with a paper towel, and have had to. She only looks at me with her poodle-mix eyes and waits through the indignity. But small children scare her and bring out some inner wild beast. She barks and lunges for them teeth flaring.

This means Bets and our seven and three year old upstairs neighbors are enemies, threats and this of course also means Lambchop has to go, which breaks my heart. I am determined to find her a new home rather than put her in a shelter. In the meantime she lives in a crate in the dining room when Bets is about. When Bets is out, Lambchop can roam free. This weekend Betsy and Faith are in Chicago. Lambchop happily lies at my feet and gives me kisses, takes walks on the leash, wags her little cotton tail.

If Lambchop is free of her intestinal parasite she can be fostered by Poodle Rescue. They have made a space for her. Thank you Poodle Rescue, thank you. I just have to take a doody in tomorrow to be checked. If we're coccidia free, Lambchop leaves. Talk about bittersweet. Talk about heartwrenching.

I tell myself I fostered a dog, saved her from fleas and the kill shelters of the south. I tell myself I did a good thing. But such a month it's been. And this poor little abused dog. Why do people abuse dogs? Why do they abuse other people? Why are some folks so gosh darn f--

But none of this compares with Lucy who had a coyote in her house today! After hearing a plaintiff howling from her porch, the kind of howling that causes you to look deep inside your soul and contemplate life and death, Lucy stepped outside to find a funny looking dog howling and eyeballing her kitty. The odd dog left the porch when Lucy went out but then the kitty - in an act of incredibly poor judgment - went after the funny looking dog and a big old fur-flying brawl ensued. Lucy - it must have been judgment free Sunday - jumped in to rescue the kitty, and managed to scoop the cat into her arms. But as she opened the door to her house the funny-looking dog forced its way in where he or she freaked as if never having been inside before. The cat took off, Lucy tried to nudge the dog (no collar, no social sense) out the door. Somehow it left. Lucy at first assumed it was her neighbor's ill-mannered dog come a calling until that same neighbor said no her dog is small and by the way she thought saw a coyote on the block today.

All this in the city of Boston, within city limits. It's like rural America or 1864.

There's a great article on parenting in today's NYT Sunday Magazine.

It's GLBT pride month.

Betsy has graduated kindergarten and is officially a first-grader.

I'm about to be dog-free again and doggone it I'm relieved.

Lucy has been advised not to let any more coyotes into her house.

I'd say it's time to move to Manhattan.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

To Hell and Back For A Poodle

We have our dog and now I am mother to three creatures: child, kitty and a 12 1/2 pound mixed breed stray from Georgia with fleas and a gastrointestinal parasite. Our puppy's name is Lambchop and she came to New England via the freedom train, i.e., a farkakta van ride that lasted close to 30 hours.

Lambchop was supposed to be a fully vetted 2-year old Cockapoo who is sweeter than life. Well, she's the most important one out of three. She is most definitely one of the sweetest dogs I have ever met. But she's got fleas and parasites and is 5 years old according to our vet.

Lambchop, let's call her Chop for short, is sadly confined to a crate in my dining room until she is flea-free. The last flea and its offspring should be kicking the bucket on Friday morning. We were going to have an uncrating celebration until we learned of the parasite which according to veterinary assistant "Margaret" is contagious to humans via poop and saliva. I almost shat a parasite right then and there.

I've got a 6 year old I said. The dog has kissed me on the face I said. She licks her self and then will want to sit on the sofa I said. When will this parasite be gone?

Two weeks.

I'm thinking of course I was nuts to adopt a rescue dog sight unseen except that she is the perfect dog. She is house-trained and crate-trained and loves people and could care less about the cat. What's two weeks in a crate in the dining room?

Betsy is a mess. She is so happy to have a dog and wants to hug her and hold her and put her in a baby carriage and tie ribbons in her fur, but she can't and mom is vacuuming like a lunatic and washing her hands like an obsessive compulsive and the dog is skin and bones and there is all this talk about bugs and pills. Bets just lay on the floor this evening and sobbed.

Of course she doesn't quite know why she is so upset. "I never get to see you," is what she said to me mostly because it gets the biggest reaction out of guilt-ridden me who is juggling work and dog and freelance writing and laundry and my little bottle of apple cider vinegar and water which I spray all over the furniture because apparently fleas don't like apple cider vinegar. Who knew?

And kindergarten is ending and that has Bets in a state. All we wanted was a dog to ride with us in the car for school drop-offs and pick-ups and to hug and to hold and instead we have - for the time being - pitiful Pearl.

I'm sure she will be perfect. I'm sure she and Betsy will love each other like nothing else. Soon. Soon. Until then we have 9 days of pills, two more days of flea quarantine, and two weeks of poop-panic to go. Oh and did I mention Lambchop only eats ground beef and rice, sauteed in Canola oil and sprinkled with kosher salt?

Thank goodness for those sweet brown eyes.

Oops, gotta run. I'm pretty sure I feel a parasite in my arse.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Who's Your Mama?

You’d think Mother’s Day among lesbian moms would be an awesome, Doublemint occasion – double your pleasure, double your fun. After all, Mother’s Day is not even a Judeo-Christian/Hallmark creation. It actually was birthed in the US some 150 years ago by Appalachian mom Ann Jarvis, who wanted to raise awareness of the poor health conditions in her community. She called it “Mother’s Work Day.” So for those vernal equinox lesbians more inclined to celebrate the cycles of the moon than the Old or New Testament, Mother’s Day is perfect. It’s pro-mom, pro-woman, pro-justice.

Then why the angst? Why does this lesbian mom secretly dread Mother’s Day? Why do I sadden rather than rejoice when approaching this women fest (an event even bigger and more far-reaching than the Michigan’s Women’s Festival?)

Because in addition to amplifying the joy, Mother’s Day in two-mom households also can shed light on just how complicated it is to share the role of “mother.”

Never mind who gets to be called “mom”, who gets to sleep in?

Who takes care of dinner and makes a cake?

Who gets the card made from glue and glitter in kindergarten?

Judeo-Christian/Hallmark marketing has co-opted Mother’s Day and turned it into yet another celebration of the hetero-nuclear paradigm. Any and all advertisements for Mother’s Day hoo-ha consist of precisely one woman receiving one bouquet of flowers or one diamond necklace or one tray of coffee and toast in bed from her one husband and two children.

It’s enough to make you feel like you’re faking it. Yes, despite it all (birthing, nursing, carpooling, making lunches, tushy wiping, comforting, band-aiding and singing to sleep), a lot of times I feel I’m faking it in the parental department, playing at a game I’m not really at liberty to participate in.

Even though after Ms. Jarvis there was Julia Ward Howe, Boston poet and suffragist (her best known work: the lyrics to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”) who believed mothers “bore the loss of human life more harshly than anyone else,” and so called for a day during which mothers rallied for peace.

That’s no diamond ad. That’s no perfectly made up mom in bed while her husband balances coffee on a silver tray.

In the early years, before I had regained enough consciousness to feel like an imposter, when my c-section scar still tingled on rainy days, the post-partum skin on my stomach had not yet figured out what to do with itself, and I was up three times a night nursing our daughter, I wanted Mother’s Day all to myself. I didn’t even want to consider my partner (we since have split) a mother. I could as much imagine treating her to breakfast in bed as I could picture myself replacing the brakes on my car. I wanted to be the one who was taken care of and indulged à la Hallmark. Hadn’t I earned it in that Hallmark way?

If you stick to the Hallmark scenario, there’s only room for one mother, and it’s a fight to the death to determine who that will is. Anything different from that is not real motherhood. Hence my conflict.

In 1905, after Ann Jarvis died, her daughter, Anna, sought to honor her mother’s work and lobbied businessmen and politicians to assist her in the creation of a special day to honor mothers. Said Anna Jarvis, “There are many days for men, but none for mothers.” After years of Anna. determinedly distributing white carnations each makeshift mother’s day to the boys in Washington, Woodrow Wilson signed a bill declaring Mother’s Day a national holiday. This was 1914. It wasn’t long before religion and marketing got involved and turned Mother’s Day into the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to be: a day that causes me to doubt my credibility as a mother.

The Jarvises would roll over in their graves.

Of course, no mother is faking it. The problem, I remind myself, is not being a lesbian mom on Mother’s Day. It’s being a lesbian mom in a culture that crams a narrow and ridiculous image of motherhood down your throat: one mom per household, with hair highlighted and makeup on.

How then to embrace the day, to do justice to the Jarvis’ vision and to our family, to reclaim my role as mother rather than deny it?

Some lesbians divide Mother’s Day: you get from 7 a.m. to noon, I get from noon to 7 p.m. Some divide the years: 2008 for me, 2009 for you. Some offer up Father’s Day as Mom Day #2. In our family we ad-lib. One of us races off with our daughter to make something for the other, while the other makes plans to do the same.

It still would be great to have a day all to myself. But I’ve learned that this has less to do with me being more of a mother than my ex, and everything to do with me being exhausted.

Anna was so pissed at what happened to the Mother’s Day of her dreams that in 1923 she filed a lawsuit to prevent a festival she believed was endorsing greed and profit over the memorialization of motherhood. She even got herself arrested once for disturbing the peace. Just before she died in 1948, she admitted to regretting having started Mother’s Day.

Well, I say it’s time to take back Mother’s Day. Lesbians moms, straight moms, caregiving grandmothers, aunts and sisters, in honor of the Annas, may we all sleep in.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pussy Montana

Our room with a view.

This is the corner of Cape Cod I have known since 1964. In the distance is the Provincetown Inn where my grandmother would stay each summer when she came to visit us. My mother the mixed media artist would insist we spend every August in Provincetown so she could paint and study with a local artist. It was a luxury I didn't appreciate until much later. In fact, for most of my Provincetown childhood I kept a calendar over my bed on which I would cross out the days each night before I went to sleep. Only 29 more.

Anyway my grandmother would fly from Newark to Boston and then brave the tiny Ptown-Boston plane to land in the dunes. We'd settle her in to a musty room at the Provincetown Inn and visit her each morning for breakfast. This was back when the Inn served breakfast in a beautiful sun-room, pancakes and waffles and french toast. We'd swim in the indoor pool alongside Marvin Hagler's boxing ring (now what was he doing spending all those summer in Ptown?). On rainy days we'd run from one end of the Inn to the other, back and forth all day long. There was a sauna and a spa and dinner theater.

To the right of the Provincetown Inn is the Red Inn. I always promised my mother I would get married at the Red Inn. Oops. Of course, it was she who wished to be married there. Drinks and dinner work well too, and involve far less planning.

To the right of the Red Inn, in weathered gray shingles, is the house my parents tried to buy sometime in the 1980's. It's a great sprawling beach house with a painter's studio and two floors each with walls of windows over looking the bay. They could have had it for $300k but someone got upset about a septic system and that was that.

To the right of the house-that-almost-was is a sliver of Marc Jacobs new massive expanse of private property. That's what's happening to Provincetown; beachfront property is being bought up by private parties who turn the entirety of a three, four or seven unit property into their own private compound.

The hill my mother used to take us to to pick blueberries is now peppered with condominiums. The Dairy Queen is an apartment complex. The aquarium to which I once delivered a hermit crab the size of a basketball is now a mall. There is a store called "Wa" that sells $650 wind-chimes and $1200 Buddhas.

Om.

Norman Mailer is gone.

Robert Motherwell is gone.

Stanley Kunitz is gone.

Still. There is land even a rich homo cannot develop. And Lucy and I saw whales off the shore at Herring Cove Beach and then in the harbor from our bedroom window. And Mary Oliver and her dog Percy remain.

We picked mussels off the breakwater. Rode bikes through town and bought presents for the children we left behind for 48 hours. Wondered endlessly how it is that some mammals remain in the water and others of us walk on dry land.

Back in the real world, children are being ripped from their mothers in Texas because of teen pregnancy? Because men have married more than one woman? Maybe there is something more sordid going on, but I can't help but recoil. If you can steal children from one group, why not another?

And poor old Miley Cyrus, sexualized by an entire industry and then punished for it.

Lucy says it's a slow news week, that's why Miley is big business. I say, just don't tell Betsy her 15 year old idol was photographed in a sheet with her parents blessing.

I suppose a parent's got to make a buck. But look out Billy Ray, there's a new girl in town and she's not wearing a sheet.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cat Got Your Tongue?


I'm taking this antacid for my stomach woes and it's left me with nothing to say. I catch myself at times totally silent - sitting at dinner with Betsy, on the phone with a friend - and realize I'm not speaking. I'm not depressed. And actually it's not simply that I have absolutely nothing to say. It's that I forget to speak. I just sit and think.

I have to remind myself, "You should be talking. People talk."

And then I think of something to say but soon drift off again. Bye bye.

It's kind of nice in other ways. My stomach feels better and I'm less anxious and can get things done. Probably because I'm not talking to anyone. What a perfect time to go on a silent meditation retreat.

Instead Lucy and I are heading to Provincetown for a couple of nights. It's an annual tradition. Every April we stay on the beach, pick mussels from the breakwater, jog alongside the ocean, shop, and eat, eat and shop. Leaving Betsy is complicated and hard but she is steeling herself in incredible ways. Choosing to take advantage of my absence to grow herself some more.

She's only once chosen to go on a play date without me - the homes of friends and family not included - but sure enough she wants to go home with a girl from her class one of the days I'm gone. If I were here I'm sure she would have wanted me to join her. So off we both will be on our separate adventures, me and the baby who just left my body.

When Bets made her announcement I was reminded that when I was her age my mother used to force solo play dates, send me off sobbing to the homes of friends. No surprise I was so traumatized I wound up in therapy by the ripe old age of 7. If it's not one thing, it's your mother. If Bets needs more time she can have it. I've always known I never would repeat my mother's mistake. Not that one anyway. I've got enough of my own to make.

Lucy and I planned to return on Saturday with just enough time to get to the airport and greet a dachshund corgi mix from Puerto Rico but lo and behold our furry friend couldn't get a flight out of San Juan. It's come to this: searching the Caribbean for a dog.

Betsy almost had me convinced we should get a rat instead. We were at the animal shelter for the 78th time and the only available dogs were an 8-year old poodle with epilepsy and the loudest hound I'd ever heard. So off we went off to look at the rodents. Rats are fine until you see their tails. It's that bald, ringed tail that makes a rat a rat. But she almost had me.

At least I found the words in me to say "no" to the rat. Then she wanted a bunny but we agreed we couldn't tell bunny poop from bunny food and that would be so confusing that maybe a bunny wouldn't be a good pet either, besides the kitty would kill and eat a bunny.

Until a dog comes our way we are going to break the law and steal some tadpoles from a pond in the Arnold Arboretum. If you are from Boston and find this reprehensible just take a Prilosec and shush yourself. It's a science experiment. We want to see if we can keep them alive long enough to watch their metamorphosis into frogs. It's unlikely we will succeed. But that's not enough to stop this research team.

A friend of mine who works for PETA says real animal activists believe there should be no domesticated animals, no pets. I cannot imagine they would like our tadpole caper. But why they would have a problem with the cat who is snoring next to me in bed I don't understand.

And that's enough talking for one night.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Feeling Groovy

Adopting a dog is proving to be harder than getting pregnant as a 40 year old lesbian. Here in Boston people will cut you down in order to beat you to the small dog that's up for adoption. They'll run you off the road, force your car into a ditch, elbow you in the ribs.

"It's my bichon poodle mix, mine!"

I'm just trying to rescue a damn dog. Trying to avoid a puppy mill. But it's like the vitamin aisle at Whole Foods where a woman once literally shoved me out of the way to get to the wheat-free/soy-free/dairy-free/all vegan multi-vitamins: do-gooders out for bear, or dog, as the case may be.

A friend of mine used the phrase "fascist hippies" to describe a family we knew who lived in this huge rambling Victorian house in a funkadelic part of town. One was an artist, the other some kind of world-saver. Their two kids ran naked around the house, pooped in the back yard, nursed until they were seventeen. But dinners were communal damnit and if you weren't there on time or didn't take your clothes off in the hot tub you were berated.

These are the vegetarians we are up against in this dog rescue mission, well-meaning liberals in tattered old Volvos who opted out of the rat race but are still racing. Granted every day we don't find a dog is one more day without one which is fine by me.

Meanwhile, Bets has been practicing her lines for the kindergarten play which is about the cutest thing in the world. She's as excited by the prospect of being on stage in a costume as she is about walking around the house saying, "I have to practice my lines."

She's invited Faith and I of course and Lucy and Phoebe. We all went to the circus together yesterday. What is more unlikely: a man on stilts being catapulted into the air onto the shoulders of another man, or a woman and her ex-partner, her girlfriend, and all their children sharing cotton candy?

The fascist hippies would have approved. They would have insisted we embrace and then take our clothes off and jump in a hot tub. Damnit.

The dog of my dreams likely lives in Arkansas. There's a freedom train (no offense, no offense) carrying stray dogs from Arkansas to New England. Actually it's a bus. And it's our only hope. You pick a dog online from just a few questions asked of its foster family and then it's put in a crate to journey several days to New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, or New Hampshire. At each stop someone who has been trying to adopt a dog in the northeast but has not been able to because every time they get to the shelter all that's left are ferrets, rats, and pit bulls that bark loudly enough to rattle the fillings in their teeth, stand waiting, groovy leather-free leashes in hand. Dog is released and hopefully not too traumatized by its journey. Family takes dog home. And then everyone takes off their clothes and jumps into a hot tub.

Something about the whole process makes me want to eat red meat, let the water run while I brush, ask for plastic instead of paper or a reusable bag. It makes me want to drop cash at a breeder so I can bring a puppy home for my child already.

Oh but I won't.

I'll adopt a dog for crying out loud. Not because I'm a fascist hippy. But because I need a dog who is housebroken.

But I'll take the kudos. A girl's got to wrap herself in something when she's naked in a hot tub.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Bike and The Breast Exam


Bets woke up yesterday morning and said she's had her training wheels for long enough would I please take them off her bike, which I did. Two hours of practicing later she was riding a two-wheeler. Next stop college. She did this with her pacifier too, crawled into bed one night and said she was done with it and that was that.

Waiting in a blue johnnie for my annual physical today I of course sat contemplating life and death. Johnnies do that. Put them on, open in either the back or front, and instantly you're sifting through your life insurance policies, your social security benefits, the pros and cons of cremation over burial.

I've been feeling lately that we are all just insects in a huge ant farm. Working in a hospital is a lot like being an ant in an ant hill, a bee in a beehive. There're lots of critters walking purposefully from one place to another. Going going going. That's what the hospital is like. We're all always going from one place to another with our cell phones and pagers. It wouldn't surprise me if one day a giant foot came down and squashed us all.

Oops.

A nine year old medical student saw me first. The good thing about having a nine year old medical student evaluate you is that they spend an awful lot of time deliberating and probing and discussing. They are just so earnest. My physical lasted 45 minutes, what with my actual doctor having to come in and listen to the nine year old's report of my corporeal life. Had I rejected the medical student experience, I would have been in and out of there in 15 minutes.

The most baffling and annoying piece of my physical existence is my stomach. I was unexpected hostess of a stomach ulcer last year and once you get one you're prone prone prone. So these days I can ingest no caffeine, no alcohol, no citrus (couple this with my having both a partner and a woman I co-parent a child with and I'd say I'm a stone's throw from becoming a full-fledged mormon). The nine year old had quite a time with all this: a lesbian with a stomach ulcer and a child. She reviewed with me the results of the tests I've had done in the last year: two endoscopies, a colonoscopy, a CT scan, an abdominal ultrasound, a pelvic ultrasound - all negative. No h. pylori. No celiac disease. No real reason why I should suddenly host a stomach ulcer. But there you go. The nine year old furrowed her brow.

Acupuncture.

Homeopathy.

No more dairy.

No more soy.

I've tried them all. What worked was the milky stuff I had to drink before the CT scan. For some reason after two bottles of that my stomach was great for three months.

Go figure.

Anyway, thinking about death always gets me thinking about my mother. As if death were a state somewhere in the midwest, a vague place I've heard of all my life but only have flown over and never visited. And then my mom moved there and provided us with no forwarding address or telephone number. Death? Oh, I wonder how mom is.

There was a woman in the waiting room who was so thin my legs quivered to look at her. I heard her tell her husband she lost two more pounds, "I weigh 96 now."

Oy vey.

My mother was deathly thin in the end. Literally.

I'm a firm believer that anyone over 50 should carry an extra 10 pounds on them just in case they get sick. You need weight to lose.

So there are sick people and dying people and you have to go in and have your own body evaluated to see if it is sick and dying and meanwhile you have a 6-year old entirely dependent upon you and it's all almost too much to bear. Living in a body is sometimes like a bad joke. Our minds are housed in these temporary flesh sacks. Geez. It's incredible we accomplish anything given we're all going to die one day.

And so we go about our business, back and forth, back and forth, busy little bees.

My doctor gave me a prescription for a low dose antacid she thinks I might need to take for the rest of my life (i.e., until I move to that town in the midwest). The nine year old and I bid each other good-bye and good luck.

When I got home Lucy and Bets were practicing the 2-wheeler. Moments later, Bets was off and running. It was 70 degrees. We had the first barbecue of the season. I got to sleep in my own bed. I got another day. I hope the days are as sweet in that town my mom moved to, the place where we all are going.

Until then, I will sip my ginger tea. Tell myself it's wonderful to never have to worry about a hangover, or to have to choose between pink and yellow lemonade. My daughter will continue to be the most determined person I know. Next week we meet a cocker spaniel named Cricket.

Life goes ever on in such a sad sweet and tender way.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Roses are Red Or Yellow Or Pink Or White Or...

It's national poetry month. This I know because I receive daily poems from Knopf thanks to their Borzoi Reader or a poem-a-day series each April (http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/poetry), which is national poetry month, but this you know because I just told you.

The poem-a-day email used to be torture for me. I could barely manage receiving, reading and then figuring out what to do with a piece of writing someone spent hours or days or weeks toiling over. I need a quiet space in which to read poetry. I need time to digest a poem. Time to think. Time to cry. Time to write. Then I need to know what to do with the poem. If it's a poem in a book or a magazine I can save it - put the book on a shelf, put the magazine in the rack by the toilet.

But email poetry blew my mind. Do I print it out? Do I delete it? It left me breathless.

And that is because I have a significant touch of OCD. It's not like I ever held a mint gently on my tongue without sucking it for the entire 30 minute ride from work to home lest it dissolve and a loved one receive poor results from her oncologist like someone I know and love once did, but I do engage in various other acts of magical thinking on a daily basis. When Faith and I lived together (for over 12 years) I was aware at all times which items (clothing, books, CD's, towels) were hers and which were mine and which we had purchased together. I can tell you the make and model of almost any car from only a glance at its headlights. (I thought this freakish until a friend of mine simply smiled and said, "I can do it from the door handles.")

Such a relief.

And of course I'm frequent host to any one of an infinite number of inappropriate and intrusive thoughts during the most mundane moments like while driving behind a green truck I might suddenly think: imagine a terrible infection that scarred and mamed a face in an instant you could contract it it could begin with a headache Betsy had a headache yesterday i hope it wasn't meningitis today seems good but anything could happen.

"Stop," I tell myself. To my brain at least once I day I have to say, "Ssh." On other days it takes, "Would you please shut the fuck up."

Anyway, with poems from last year still saved in my in-box. I'm trying something new this year. This year I am reading the poems immediately - no matter where I am - and then deleting them. This is huge and radical for a girl like me but what it means is that I am reading poetry, not hoarding poetry. And this is part of my new life mission: to live rather than to think about living.

I say this in light of lesbian divorce and upcoming dogs and imminent presidential elections and the price of gas and Eliot Spitzer and hypochondria (many of OCD'ers are also hypochondriacs which makes us even more fun to be around). Life for an OCD club member is like a Medusa's head of options, infinite avenues we can go down ad nauseum and ponder and analyze until the cows come home.

Moo.

So much goes on inside while all the while we simply are standing still.

So I'm trying to act a bit more, not obsess over every last nuance of every little thing, just jump. The writer Elaine Soloway (http://thedivisionstreetprincess.blogspot.com) once wrote an essay entitled "Leap Before You Look." It's true, when leaping doesn't cause you to be killed or mortified or destitute, it actually can get you places.

Relationships might end, Hillary or Barack or Johnny Jet Plane might be president, the righteous will fall (come on where's the surprise in that?), a dog might poop or pee or chew up the house, and one day an ache or pain is going to be the last, and still it's okay to act, to make a mistake, waste money, or delete a poem, to be happy.

This actually all began last year when I made the conscious decision to stop thinking about which way to hang the toilet paper and paper towel rolls. One day I decided to just put them on whichever way they were facing at the moment and use that mental energy for something better like memorizing the headlights of the new hybrids.

I'm lucky, I can turn my brain off without the help of pharmaceuticals.

"Enough, brain."

What I'm trying to get at is, Happy poetry month. Geez. I always take the long way.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Dog And The Blind Cat


I can't believe I missed my opportunity to blog on April Fool's Day, my absolute most favorite day of the year. I come from a long line of April Fools revelers. My grandmother used to call me every April Fools until she was 91 years old and say "There 's a bug on your head." That was just the beginning. My mother once feigned her own death. For five and a half years she pretended she was dead and then one April Fool's Day she came back and said "Got ya!"


April Fools.


Oops but I'm a day late.


Here's life in gay Boston: Bets has lost another tooth - this one in an apple at school without blood. It was all very exciting and then I forgot to put something under her pillow. Fortunately it was April Fools Day morning so I could call it a Tooth Fairy April Fool.


And crocuses are waving from the back yard while Bets and I have become regulars at the animal shelter. We visit a few times a week hoping to catch a new dog. Mostly the shelter is home to pit bulls and enormous barking bull dogs. I'm not sure who we're waiting for, but we're waiting. Meanwhile we hold kitties and pet bunnies. I think every visit has ended in tears ("Why can't we get a bunny? I want a kitty who sleeps on your lap not a kitty like ours. Let's get two dogs. All I want is a hamster."). Still we go. It seems the best way to land a canine companion.


Our current creature suffers from feline herpes which is as awful as it sounds only it's not contagious to people. She is however contagious to other cats so, given that she is three, we can't get another cat for, say, 17 years, which is hard to imagine not only because Bets really wants a lap cat, but because the herpes is causing Cookie to go blind. So that means 17 years with a blind kitty. And dare I say we let her out, because she loves to go out and otherwise would destroy our home. But when her vision is gone she will likely have to be kept indoors.


"Maybe Cookie's sickness will make her die soon," said Bets who loves Cookie as much as I do but shares my frustration.


Fortunately Cookie is not contagious to dogs and even likes dogs. So we will have a dog and a blind kitty. It sounds like a band. Dog and the blind cat.


The family band. Name the source of this quote and you win my eternal admiration: "It really came together when mom sang along."


This is Lucy's favorite quote of all time.


Because everything is so much better when mom sings along.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Orifice-Count

Well our little shih tzu fell through - not literally. But we're really on it now. Bets and I visited a shelter yesterday and will keep going back until we've found another dependent creature to take into our lives.

I have so screwed up this week, the final week of Betsy's vacation, juggling the work/childcare conundrum. It took me, Lucy, and a babysitter just to survive Monday and Tuesday and today will be a total mess of working from home and plugging Bets into videos and then scooting her off to work with Faith for a couple hours. We're off to NY tomorrow and it didn't even cross my mind until yesterday afternoon I had not arranged for a kitty sitter.

I 'm going to bring a dog into the mix?

I think I just need to surrender. I need to realize the days when it all goes as planned and I have covered every base are the exceptions. Mostly life with a small child is like this: unruly. Maybe a dog will help by pushing me over that edge. Maybe I should get a ferret and a hamster too. Then I will have no chance to assume I am an autonomous being.

Which brings me to the next chapter in the Lesbian Divorce: Whattup? series, and that is Kids: You Can't Live With Them and You Can't Live Without Them.

A good friend and I were having dinner last night. This friend is a psychologist and we were talking about sex. Without having heard me tell about the Bunny Syndrome she suggested one of the biggest most giant pitfalls of any marriage as far as she can tell are the childrearing years when couples - gay and straight - slip away from being two separate people and come closer to being siblings. That's when sex pretty much dries up.

Kids demand of you so much time and energy and constant negotiating, a marriage can become more like a small business. Each parent's needs are put aside in order not to rock the delicate balance of a boat that is barely above water what with tuition costs, karate classes, day camp, after school, soccer games, ADHD, teen angst, colic, and the family pet(s). It's easier to just go into battle mode and lose yourself. And if you're all merged out with your partner, or feeling like you're in business together, or focused solely on your children, then sex is usually the first casualty.

But you have your marriage certificate, your parents, your friends, your government, clergy, your children's school to support you. There are infinite books about you and your family and your marriage to guide you.

Imagine if there weren't. Imagine if on top of the supreme amount of effort it took to raise a family you had no legal support, very little emotional support, and some school systems didn't want you. Imagine if - thanks to the sexism of the dollar - as well as you and your partner's compulsive need to do any work but that in finance and real estate development you also had limited financial resources.

Then imagine your relationship faltered. Imagine you stopped having sex, you and your same-sex partner. Would any one care? Imagine you were at risk of splitting. Would the world gather to help you survive? Would your family?

There is just so little support for lesbian families even here in the bastion that is liberal Boston. Venture around the block from a cozy two-family home with lesbian families up and down and you find 17 families who would prefer those families did not exist.

It's hard to stay together.

It's hard to stay together.

And for those who have, mazel tov. Hold tight, if it's right.

Sometimes relationships are meant to come apart. But that is another story, nothing to do with gender or the orifice count within a household.

That's how I have come to think of gay vs. straight households: the orifice-count is different.

Otherwise what plagues us and brings us joy is pretty much the same as far as I can tell. It's only the context within which we exist that is so different and which has the power to knock us off our feet.

I leave you with this riddle: What is a shih tzu in a bath?









A cat.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Fully Competent Spouse


Oh my God I am a mountain of mania. I have tons of work to do, a huge zit on my face, and Bets is on vacation for another week - she had a great time in Chicago where she fell in love with a big old Golden Retriever and so now we have decided to definitely get a dog only we seem to be heading for a shih tzu named Tamara. Before we dive into lesbian divorce, does anyone have anything to tell me about shih tzus? The only one I know will only eat off of wet paper towels.

So the couples not having sex off-shoot of the Bunny Syndrome has really gotten people in a tizzy. My friends in NY insist everyone in NY is having sex - gay and straight - it's just Bostonians who are not having sex. My friends in Boston think the New Yorkers aren't having good sex, that it ain't the quantity it's the quality. My friends on the west coast are too busy having sex to comment.

A very close friend of mine avoided marriage for as long as he could for fear he would instantly stop wanting to have sex as soon as he tied the knot with his girlfriend of 10 years. She would just smile and roll her eyes whenever he said this.

Another couple I know - straight - has sex once a year.

It seems the lesbians not wanting to have sex thing is mostly mythology. Maybe lesbians are easier to accept when people tell themselves, oh they're not having sex anyway.

Oh, and what about Brittany Spaniels? I hear they're sweet but a little rambunctious.

Sex is complicated regardless of the participants. Gender aside, the black hole of doom is when couples fall out of the habit of intimacy and then cannot for the life of their relationship figure a way to jump back in. And with lesbians, it's not like the world is encouraging you to. The world would prefer you remain bunnies, palatable and platonic.

But I'm no expert. I'm just a writer. How about Basset Hounds? We need a docile dog who will not need to go for a walk every morning but will be content to poop in the yard until I we can walk her later in the day.

So my therapist threw a wrench into my life when she uttered this phrase, "the fully competent spouse."

The first thing you do when you hear "the fully competent spouse" is wonder whether your spouse/partner is fully competent. Can she cook, clean, sew, drive a truck, lift heavy objects, put entertainment centers from Ikea together, talk, not talk, drive, play tennis, grow bonzai plants, reupholster, catch a ball? And then you tally the no's against the yes's and realize you have like 18 no's and 3 yes's and that makes you wonder whether you should dismantle your life.

Then I noticed that when I said "fully competent spouse" to straight women they laughed. But when I said it to lesbians they got all serious and furrowed their brows.

That and the lesbian divorce rate got me wondering if maybe women expect too much of each other as partners. Many of the straight women I know shrug off the inadequacies of their husbands/boyfriends as par for the course. They don't expect to be fulfilled by the man in their life. They figure their girlfriends will provide the missing links and their girlfriends agree and television and movies and books all reflect the same: you marry your man for the things your girlfriends can't provide and you hang with your girlfriends to grab that which your man can't offer.

But lesbians? I'm thinking maybe we expect to get it all from each other. We expect to be fulfilled sexually, intellectually, spiritually, gastronomically, astronomically. It's a tall order. Many of the lesbian couples I know who have split have left relationships surprisingly functional in comparison to their straight counterparts.

Do we hold women to a higher standard?

Do we not have enough models for how to work through the incompetencies we all possess?

Do we always assume straight couples know something we don't know and therefore are doing better than us and so we denounce that which we have?

Is breaking up a form of internalized homophobia?

And what about dachshunds? Too little? Too hard to train?

It took me a long time to realize - duh - there is no such thing as the fully competent spouse. It's a fantasy on the part of anyone who ever loved somebody. And realizing that was the first step to a healthier relationship.

Now I think I'm looking for the fully competent dog. But you saw that coming. Some poodle mix? A Basse-poo?

Maybe a lesbi-poo.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hippity Hoppity Let's Stop Having Sex

http://www.beaconbroadside.com/broadside/2008/03/color-me-gay.html

That's the first item of business. I've got a post up on the Beacon Press web site. It's a story that ran here and at www.parents.com/areyoumymothers. But check it out if you'd like and always pass it on.


Next, I've been invited to write a six-word memoir. It's such a great idea but "I don't know where to begin." There they are, the six words that sum up my life. "I don't know where to begin."


My life in three words: "That was quick."


Thanks to Robin Reagler of http://theothermother.typepad.com/ for the tag. She has an awesome blog on which I found the most fabulous photo of buttons.

And so I tag the following:
1. The incredible Polly Pagenhart, who is creating new language as she redefines family at lesbiandad.net
2. The brilliant Sara Whitman who is representing at suburblezmom.blogspot.com
3. Our lesbian mom font of information Dana Rudolph who keeps us all informed at mombian.com
4. The poetic and inspirational Ms. Moon who blogs in my cyber neighborhood at blessourhearts.blogspot.com
5. Millie Garfield who apparently is the oldest blogger on the internet. I don't know her but she's a nice Jewish bubbe and this lesbo mom hereby tags her and her blog mymomsblog.blogspot.com

Now on to lesbian divorce.


It's a huge, monstrous, unwieldy topic that I might need to address in installments. Today's installment, in honor of the upcoming Easter holiday, is called The Bunny Syndrome.


Faith and I definitely fell victim to the Bunny Syndrome. It wasn't our only struggle, but it's an insidious one and eats away at a lesbian (or gay) couple in a most damaging way. The Bunny Syndrome is when, to keep the peace and be accepted within family and the outer world - a couple allows themselves to be thought of as special friends, friends who cuddle and share a home, or well, bunnies, rather than as two people who are in love and have sex. This seems to happen when the outside world is "kind of okay" with the couple, they are not disowning of the couple, not outraged. But they also are not entirely comfortable with thinking of the couple as a couple in a man/woman, penis-in-vagina kind of way.


So the couple, because the blessing of family and work places and friends is critical in life, allows themselves to become bunnies in the eyes of the outside world and does not demand to be treated as a couple. And then I think it gets hard to remember in the privacy of your own life to turn back on the sacredness of your partnership. Not to mention the internalized homophobia of it all, the denouncing of your intimate self.


Here's an example. Every summer my mother rented the same one room cottage in Provincetown. The cottage had a sofa bed and a queen-size mattress in the loft that sat above and opened into the mainroom, i.e. there was not a lick of privacy. Faith and I stayed in the loft for a week every summer for seven years. We were young and didn't have much money so on the one hand the situation afforded us a free vacation. But looking back I ask myself why was it okay to spend our summer vacation without a shred of privacy? Whenever my sister and her husband came to town it was assumed they would stay at an inn. My mother once even expressed her discomfort about sharing the cottage with them or any other heterosexual couple.

She shared it with her brother and a male friend, so it wasn't about there being a man there. It was, I presume, about there being a sexual couple there.


And I can't count the times I've not kissed a partner in public, or held her hand, or expressed any one of a number of affections men and women do. In all honesty, only on rare occasions is this to avoid being killed. Most of the time it's so others won't feel uncomfortable.


So if you let yourself become a bunny in public, what happens to you in private? And if your community sees you and your partner as bunnies, then how can they support you when your relationship falters?


It's just a thought and begs the infamous question: Are lesbians couples having less sex than straight couples? In the past couple years I have learned that hardly any long-term couple I know is having sex - gay or straight.


So there. Next installment, The Fully Competent Spouse.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Evacuate!

Well this blogger slipped away for a week. Probably because blogging can be so incredibly tedious and some weeks or days well it's all just so boring: we raked leaves, we went swimming, we made dinner, we got new toothpaste, a bottle of water spilled on my cell phone.

Zzzzz.

This week is different and today is different, because today is Evacuation Day! Evacuation Day! is a day off for all state officials which as far as I can tell means Massachusetts has come up with a way to give everyone St. Patrick's Day off without saying they are making St. Patrick's Day a holiday. Sneaky Massachusetts.

As far as I'm concerned a state that has legalized gay marriage can certainly give people the day off to eat boiled corn beef and cabbage and drink green beer.

Evacuation Day! always happens to fall on the Monday after the St. Patrick's Day Parade - you know the parade that excludes gays from participating - so, in a way, today really should be called "Hangover Day." It's a good thing my family and I are not allowed to march or I'd be sporting quite a headache this morning.

This is the kind of blog that will cause my father to call and say, "You seem angry."

If there's anything that pisses me off more than being excluded from a St. Patrick's Day parade it's being told I sound angry.

In honor of Evacuation Day! Faith is taking Betsy to Build-A-Bear. Bets has the next two weeks off from school (the more you pay, the less they go). On Wednesday Faith and Bets are going to Chicago for two days which will be so sad and weird and nice and strange for me. My plan is to clean the house, paint the radiators, and finish my thoughts.

One of the thoughts I need to finish is why do so many lesbian moms break up. Why? I have a load of ideas, not all of them nice. Let's make that the topic of my next blog.

Coming up - sooner than a week, I promise - the lesbian divorce rate. And why lesbians seem to battle over custody more than straight couples do.

For now, I must Evacuate!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Pour the Tooth Fairy A Tall One

Hell's a popping. Betsy lost her first tooth in more ways than one. First a rice crispy treat loosened her loose tooth to the "hanging by a thread" point and then Bets just yanked it out. This all happened in the car so naturally I had to pull over to the side of the road to cry and clean up all the blood.

What a lot of blood there is when a little tooth comes out.

And then Bets got excited about putting the tooth back in her mouth and pulling it out again and again until the little bloody thing slipped from her hand and got lost in the upholstery of the car. Gone forever or so it seemed.

Bets was surprisingly resilient. She cried about the lost lost tooth a bit but was distracted enough by the space in her mouth and how it felt with her tongue not to be sad for long. I left a dollar underneath her pillow anyway of course and figured we had 19 more chances to hang onto teeth.

The next morning Betsy woke up a different child. She was the freshest and rudest most sassy little girl she ever has been. Not only was she rude to me and her best friend Zoe, she was rude to her toys.

"I think that tooth was your nice tooth," I only half joked.

"Yeah," she agreed. "I'm so fresh now."

This went on for days, was not even alleviated when Lucy miraculously found the lost lost tooth. (I still don't know how she did it, first located the place in my car the tooth had fallen into and then actually retrieved the tooth.)

But even with the tooth safely stashed in a pink satin purse Betsy roared on. She said she hated school and after school. She announced she hated camp as well as Zoe. She refused to put her coat on and then refused to take her coat off. She said she wanted to hit me and then stormed off into her room. She learned to roll her eyes.

This is it, I told myself, adolescence is here early and this is what our life will be like for the next 12 years. It made me so sad. I felt lonely like I had lost my child and gained instead a raving lunatic. I half-expected her to go out and pierce her nipples.

Lucy tried to comfort me by saying it was just a perfect storm of developmental and social angst: she lost a tooth, spring vacation is coming, she's getting over a cold.

I blamed myself. For having separated two years ago, for not having a bigger home, for not having more energy, for not cooking better meals.

I took her rock-climbing and swimming. I bought her new pants and another rice crispy treat. I reasoned with her. I gave her time outs. I held her at times and others I walked out of the room.

"Maybe she should go to boarding school," I said to a friend. "I'll miss her but I think it's best."

"She's six," the friend reminded me.

"They don't take them that early?"

After four days of this it was my night of the week to go out overnight. In addition to dinner and bath a couple nights, one night a week Betsy's other mom Faith comes to the house and sleeps over and I go off to Lucy's to allow them space and make sure Faith and I don't kill each other. While Bets has come to like this arrangement, it's taken me two years not to feel guilty about it, to embrace this night out each week. Still usually I am torn to pieces.

Not this week. This week I would have gone straight to a bar if I were the drinking type. Bets and Faith had a fine time. She gave Faith some lip but not too much. And by the time I returned the following afternoon Bets was happy as a lark.

We all had dinner together as we do each week (this is divorce lesbo style, which is a boundary-challenged mish-mash that in some ways resembles childrearing from the stone age whereupon a group of women wind up raising a group of kids). Bets was charming and delightful.

Later after her bath, Bets and I set out her clothes for school the next morning. Bets tried on a pair of pants we had bought three months ago. They were three inches too long then and I had to hem them. Last week I swear they fit. This evening I had to pull out the hems and still they were too short.

Bets and I looked at each other equally aghast. She tried on two more pairs, same thing.

"I think I just grew," she said.

"I think you did."

I read her two books, told her a story about poop, and off she sailed into sleep.

From here on I'm going to stop analyzing and trying to fix everything and just chalk up all bad days or weeks to growth spurts, for myself as well.

The next time Lucy and I argue, "Growth spurt!" I'll say. I'm going to try it at work too. And who knows, I might even get a bit taller. Lord knows one day my teeth are going to fall out.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Satellite of Love

Oh dear, I think it was Venus, our intergalactic neighbor who has been gassing it up recently. Sorry for the blunder.

Today I must devote my blogging energy to beacon.org the web site and blogspot for the fantabulous Beacon Press, publishers of gay, straight, hip and hop, funk and intellect and incredible literary beautifiscence. Beacon is home to such authors as Mary Oliver, Mary Daly, the late James Baldwin and the even later Herbert Marcuse and of course the very much alive Harlyn Aizley.

The theme of my Beacon post will be "It's Because I'm Gay Isn't It?!"

In the meantime ponder this: what if sound which is after all just vibration could get trapped in the little nooks and crannies and crevasses of every day life such as a cave or under a bed or in the eave of a house, and then a breeze or a jostling of some sort could release that sound years maybe even centuries later. Would we hear it?

Betsy is a duck today in a play.

The cat drew enough blood from my fingertip last night for me to have had genetic testing done, which is something a dog would never ever do.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Tick tick tick

I dreamed last night a friend dropped off her 6 year-old son to play with Betsy. We were in my childhood home in NJ of course. The boy walked into the living room and I was instantly overcome with anxiety. What will we do for THREE hours?! What if Betsy doesn't want to play with him? What if he gets sad or worse yet bored? I was in such a state it woke me up.

Long stretches of time in which I will be the only adult surrounded by one or two children in need of entertainment or referee-ing terrify me. When Bets wakes up at 7 on a Saturday and it's me and her all day without a plan...Well picture those Scream masks at Halloween. It has nothing to do with love, and everything to do with energy. What will we do? What on earth will we do all day.

I don't remember my parents having this problem. I also don't remember them playing with us. We played by ourselves or with neighborhood children. And my sister and I had each other.

But this recipe - an only child in a world where she cannot run free at age 6, who goes to private school and doesn't know the neighborhood children - is one that puts mommy on the hot seat.

"Mommy, let's have a dance party!" This before 7:30 a.m.

"Mommy, let's dig in the snow." Even though it's 22 degrees.

I tend to steer Bets toward the things I like to do: income tax returns, organizing, and putting up shelves. Once we peeled paint off the kitchen wall.

Our playground is the worst. Though we are blessed with a playground right across the street, it sits atop a hill and for some intergalactic reason hosts extreme temperatures. If it's 32 degrees at our house, it's 10 degrees at the playground. If it's 85 degrees at our house, it's 110 degrees at the playground.

"Mommy, let's play chase."

Some mommies get to sit and drink coffee on a playground bench and read a magazine or stare into space.

I consider these moments, dare I say these mind-numbing moments, seepage from my childless years. Little dewdrops from a purely narcissistic time in life when I answered to no one but my self (too bad I didn't realize it at the time) and expect to do so again. A friend said leakage like this happens when you have one child and think you still can be your old self, because when you have more than one you have to surrender. The holes are plugged.

Plus a 6 year-old in the 25% for height is one who wants to do some things she still physically cannot do.

"Mommy, hold me so I can reach the monkey bars."

"Mommy, catch me when I slide down the pole."

I've taken a Zen approach. When I feel myself hopping the wave of terror at 6 or 7 a.m. I remind myself to take it one hour at a time. If I think of it as 14 hours I'm doomed. From the opposite vantage point it always works out okay: we read a book, baked bread, built a snowman, saw a friend. Awesome day.

It's just that those activities took maybe an hour and a half total and it took another 12 and a half hours to get to them.

But that will just be this mommy's little secret.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nocturnal Confessions

I was lying in Betsy's bed, her foot wedged between my ribs, thinking. It was 3 in the morning. We started out in my bed - "Mommy I don't feel well and I miss you" - but she had thrown up all over it. So we moved to her bed.

There's just so much to think about at 3 in the morning! There's financial aid, taxes, the strange rattle coming from the right rear of my car, work, the dream I had about feeding my therapist rice and black beans, the pellet stove our next door neighbors installed that is venting directly into our windows, and how to navigate the coming child-home-sick-from-school day(s). To say nothing of politics, religion, death and Lucy and I who seem to be in the terrible two's of our relationship.

"What would a dog be doing?" I asked myself at 3:00 a.m. as Lucy suggested I do every few hours to see whether I really am ready for a dog. What would the dog be doing now?

Sleeping?

At 3:05 a.m. it occurred to me what I need in life is more debt. More debt would enable us to be eligible for more financial aid. And if that debt came in the form of a car, it might also enable us key-less entry and satellite radio. It seemed like a good idea. Note to self: buy unaffordable car.

At 3:15 I started thinking I wanted to have a baby. No no, I would adopt a baby. Betsy could be an older sister, I could do the mothering-of-an-infant thing better than I did the first time, our little family wouldn't feel so little and, of course, we would be eligible for more financial aid.

At 3:30 I thought I smelled gas. I dragged myself out of Betsy's bed to check the stove, the oven, the lights, the front yard, the back door, upstairs, downstairs. Wouldn't it be nice if we lived in a small one-story Japanese home like the one we visit at the Children's Museum? Did I mention on the financial aid forms that Betsy is a quarter Japanese, it could only help.

At 3:45 I tried to imagine life without Lucy and got really sad until 4:00 when I asked myself again, "What would the dog be doing?"

At 4:15 Betsy stirred. I quickly grabbed a small trashcan, lined it with a plastic bag from Toys R Us, and positioned it near her. We spend so much money on toys. What if the school knew?

At 4:30 the cat tried to fly from the nightstand to the top bunk. I wrestled her down and then had to feed her. Too bad I can't declare her as a dependent.

At 5:00, with dawn only an hour away, I fell asleep.

Betsy was fine today. But here comes the night.

I wonder what the dog is doing.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

If You Give A Girl A Cookie

I was looking at pictures of Saturn in the newspaper and reading about how satellite photos are revealing all sorts of unexpected gases and flashing light in Saturn's atmosphere and it got me thinking: Is this what earth looked like before life, or Is this what a planet looks like after all life is wiped out, or Maybe the gases themselves are life. And then I had to admit we earthlings are so limited in our fantasies of alien life forms, always assuming they will have eyes and mouths and heads just as we do.

But maybe life on other planets comes in entirely other forms. Maybe the gas is life. Maybe viruses are alien life forms. Maybe fog and clouds are.



This all of course got me thinking about Kurt Vonnegut which got me thinking about high school which got me thinking about my own childhood, which got me thinking about how fast life goes by, how one day I was on the front lawn with my Klick-Klacks (careful they don't chip lest a shard shoot in your eye) and the next I was a single mother living in a two-family house.
This of course got me thinking about real estate, how I would like to move to a larger home but can't because Betsy is absolutely in love with the little girl and boy who live upstairs, considers them her house-siblings, which is wonderful given she is an only child, and so here I am.

Which got me thinking,which I always do, about how you never ever know what course your life will take, how one day you might find yourself choosing to stay cramped in a two-family so that your kid can shout upstairs and have an instant play-date, which got me thinking about new cars - if I can't get a new house, then maybe I can get a new car - which made me wonder just what kind of car I would get and my first thought was it has to have room for the dog which reminded me I hadn't blogged in a bit and in the meantime a dog has come into our lives.

Well she might.

She's in foster care in North Carolina because there just was not a dog in all of New England or the mid-Atlantic that I could cathect to as much as this little girl who is small and gentle and calm and in need of a home and did I mention lives in North Carolina.

But how to get her here?

And walking her in the winter? When Betsy refuses to leave the house? When I'm sick?

And the expense. Note: check price of pet insurance.

Phone homeopath and acupuncturist to get me in tip-top shape.

Can you change the name of a dog who already is a year old?

Possibly adopting this dog also got me thinking about long walks in the Arboretum, deepening the already infinite love my daughter experiences in this world, and dog collars and leashes and steaming doodies in plastic bags, which got me thinking about recycling and plastic in general and the state of our ozone, which got me thinking about atmospheric gases which got me thinking about Saturn again.

There's got to be life out there (Saturn's moon, Enceladus, is 99.9% water ice). Lord knows, I hope its frontal lobes are smaller than our own.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Year of the Rat

But is it a dog?

You can have your MTV or Food Channel or CSI or BMI or BMW or Calgon just leave me petfinder.com. I figure, after a long day, it's healthier than smoking a pack of Marlboros or mixing several drinks. Just a good 30 minutes kicked back with petfinder and the world melts away.

We almost had passed through this chapter of dog dreaming but then we met a baby dachshund on our way to the Chinese New Year festival and off we went again, Bets and I.

Our life seems to come in themes and this week's theme was the dragon. Betsy has been taking Kempo Karate with her friend Zoe. They love the class almost as much as they love their outfits (Gi) and having to bow as they enter and exit the classroom (Dojo), which is a good start. On Friday their Karate teacher (Sensei) gave them each a small stuffed dragon for being so good (not killing each other) in class.

Betsy has maybe 7899756 stuffed animals but this dragon is in a class unlike any other. Whenever she holds it she gets this very serious look on her face and says, "It's good luck." In fact, it's not really a stuffed animal at all to her. It's a real dragon. Or better yet, it's a miniature of her Sensei. She puts it on her pillow when she goes to bed at night and on Julie Albright's pillow during the day (is there anyone left on earth who doesn't know who Julie Albright is?).

So what better way to ring in my daughter's brush with the martial arts than take her to Chinatown for the New Year celebration. I didn't mention the firecrackers to her. Bets had a bad run-in with the fourth of July last year and definitely wouldn't have wanted to go. Firecrackers are small, nothing like the big boomers of the 4th. So I figured no prob.

There were the most incredible dragons all over town, black and gold, silver and red, orange, green. Bets loved the dragons. And then there was the crack crack crack of the firecrackers. She was taken by surprise but okay with them - as long as I held her, which is getting ridiculous given that my 6-year old is now almost up to my chin. But hold her I did.

We ducked into a restaurant to grab something to eat and give ourselves a break from the crackers crack crack cracking. Yes, one firecracker is little but when you set off an entire pack at one time, it's more like machine gun city.

The restaurant is our favorite, but you have to climb a very steep and narrow flight of stairs to get to the hostess. Once a long time ago, in another lifetime, a friend and I carried my very ill mother up the stairs so she could have dinner out with us that New Year's Eve, Anglo New Years. She was such a good sport and cheered heartily when we made it to the top.

This time, we - Betsy, Lucy and Phoebe and me - were just about to the top when the dragon folks set off what must have been ten packs of firecrackers outside the door to the restaurant. The kids got all wide-eyed as did us adults.

Thank goodness we had ducked inside when we did.

Then someone opened the door. Smoke and the smell of gunpowder (it is gunpowder isn't it?) quickly filled the stairway. The 100 of us crammed inside started to cough and rub our eyes. I ushered the children up the stairs, altruistically elbowing anyone who wasn't moving fast enough. Lucy then ushered us even further inside, up two more narrow stairwells.

On the third floor there was clean air to breathe. There also wasn't an exit in sight. If the place went up in flames we would be sunk. I comforted myself knowing I would die with my child, which is purely neurotic. Better to imagine my child surviving to live a long life without me.

Needless to say the smoke dissipated and we survived. But not without rethinking the value of a dining experience that does not involve exits, not without quickly becoming a person who finds the exits before ever sitting herself down in a room.

Maybe the dragons really were good luck.

I told Bets she''ll have a great story to tell her Sensei next class.

"About the dog at the train station!"

That too.

Next time, I'll take my tea with a teacup chihuahua outdoors.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Get Your Heart On

Seeing Obama surge forth reminds me of the first time I met my ex-father-in-law. A tall white Jewish psychiatrist and a follower of Freud, he was doing his best to welcome me, his daughter's unexpected gender choice, by coming to Provincetown to visit us.

So walking down Commercial Street with its trannies and fannies, rat-tails and sand pails, I tried to put him at ease.

I put my arm around him, "Larry, would you rather your daughter marry a black man or a white woman?"

"Oy vey, what did I do?"

Of course politics are more complicated than matrimony - I think. We are making choices based on issues bigger and broader than gender and race - I think. But still.

The sun is shining for the first time in what feels like years so enough griping. Enough with molestation and dead lesbians. Happy Valentine's Day!

We've made 18 chocolate cupcakes, 18 Valentine's Day cards. We've got pink pink pink as far as the eye can see. We're ready for Valentine's Day, kindergarten style.

And then the sugary sweet-present-laden quartet that is Hannukah/Christmas/Bets' Birthday/Valentine's Day will have passed and while I don't begrudge joy and celebration, I most definitely will emit a resounding "Whew!"

I might even stop short on my path to becoming the Norman Mailer of lesbians, cease my hunting down of molesters and doubting of dead people who ask for money and look forward to spring which is now only 36 days away.

Meanwhile, I'm back to thinking a dog might save the day. Betsy and I go in and out of wanting a dog to join us and the kitty. She holds tight her dream of a teacup Chihuahua she can dress up and I hold tight the fantasy that the perfect dog will one day land upon our doorstep, housebroken, gentle and spayed, able to cook waffles and help me with tax returns.

Betsy says she also would be happy with a hamster or a monkey.

Lucy says, duh, that's why adults choose to live together, because going it alone - especially with a child - is hard.

I say, one day at a time, Bonnie Franklin. Lesbian families are just so vulnerable it seems, to the inner and outer worlds. I don't want to contribute once again to the break-up statistic.

In the meantime, I'll swing my partner round and round, which at our ages will make both of us vomit. You too, have a heart-a-licious day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lesbian Child Custody Battle???

Well it seems something fishy is going on. This blogger received an email about a sad, wrenching custody battle being fought by two lesbian moms in California. The email I presume is being widely sent as it ends with a plea for donations to assist in a $850 an hour legal battle facilitated by a PayPal account (how considerate!).

The reason for my skepticism, aside from the fact that I'm a distrusting Jew from Jersey and even the most sought after family lawyers in Boston don't charge more than $350 an hour, is that it's signed with names a quick Google search identifies as a 52 year old actress (i.e., an unlikely biological mother of a 3 year old living CA) and a lesbian artist who died in 1972.

Funny someone should try to scam me today the day I located and emailed the boy (now man) who molested me regularly during 7th grade. Blame it on the weather, but I'm in the mood for revenge. If it's him, he's due for a little surprise, being the public figure it seems he now is.

Every week during art class this dude - son of our local kids' shoe salesman - cornered me in the supply closet and copped many a feel. Had then been now, 1974 been 2008, the kid would be in mighty big trouble. But then? You know the story. I didn't even know I got to tell anyone about it.

I've been thinking about it a lot as Lucy's daughter is 12 and it's just such a complex age of childhood and puberty all wrapped around each other. Hormones are bubbling so powerfully it's impossible not to confuse cause and effect (I thought about that boy or girl and therefore I asked for whatever it is they did.) And my family moved from one state to another when I was 12, causing a traumatic wrenching from friends and relatives and my own backyard.

So I'm travelling down memory lane, the rocky stretch, when a dead lesbian asks me for money.

It's enough to piss off a girl, even more than she already is.

So if you happen upon the AARP bio-mom and her dead girlfriend, heads up to you.

And them.

P.S. Maybe they're intentionally using pseudonyms? God Forbid I become lesbian non grata. Still something's awry.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Six Candles

Oh dear I've been drowning in birthday madness as my Betsy turns 6 in just hours. Six years ago this minute I was trailing amniotic fluid across the lobby of Brigham & Women's Hospital.

Six years later my daughter and I bake cupcakes and trade email tips.

Because it's 11 p.m. and I'm dog tired. I leave you not with words, but with pictures of those toys of childhood - my own childhood - that keep popping into mind every time I watch Betsy unwrap a Webkinz or American Girl Doll accessory.

Come on, toys were better way back when, weren't they? We had our own ovens!

We had dolls of color - who were nurses!



Feel good princesses be damned, we worked out our emotional angst with games dared to be called "Trouble".



And my absolute favorite toy of all time, a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car with wings.

I've got happy birthday signs all around the house - our birthday morning ritual, Bets pads around in her pajamas finding each one - 18 cupcakes for 18 classmates, birthday cards addressed to Bets from the kitty and from Julie and Molly (her American Girl Dolls). I packed a special lunch for Bets, and will be going to school with her in the morning to read a book to the class. Sunday was a whopper party and tomorrow night a big dinner.

All this and I forgot a present.

For crying out loud.

I mean Faith and I ordered something that has not yet arrived. Shouldn't we have had a back-up, something wrapped and tied up in a bow?

Sure there are worse things going on in the world every day. Sure we are all spoiled and over indulgent of our children. But darn.

The good thing about six is it's still young enough to pass off everything that happens as entirely normal and okay: having your present in the mail means you get to have your birthday last even longer.

Come on, it's better than being born in a wagon of a traveling show.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Mitt or Mitt-out

Well that explains it.


Oh this is no political blog but I was just going to have to rip Willard (Mitt) Romney for being such a vapid Ken doll who refuses to declare defeat because he is on auto (there is a button between his shoulder blades, flesh colored of course, and it seems to be stuck in the “run for office” position) but then an “examination” of Willard was done bigger and better than I ever could do

http://www.dickipedia.org/dick.php?title=Mitt_Romney

I’ve despised him since his defeat of the brilliant Robert Reich for governorship of Massachusetts. Willard won for only one reason I can find: he is tall. Robert Reich barely reaches 5 feet. I am convinced people just cannot vote for an extremely short man over a tall one. To give my species the benefit of the doubt, there must be an evolutionary drive that compels us to honor tall over short.

Yet short people (like myself) have not been bred out of existence. I leave it to the evolutionary biologists to figure out. I’ve got bigger fish to fry.

Like American Girl Doll Books. Dare I admit, they’re not bad.

And birthday parties: this is absolutely the last time we host a party for more than five children. The goodie bags alone are costing more than I spend on shoes.


Hi-5: I kind of have a gay girl/gay boy crush on Curtis.

The School Nurse: Betsy has been visiting the school nurse approximately three times a week. She tells the nurse she has a sore throat and needs an ice pack to hold on her neck. The nurse takes her temperature and gives her ice and off Betsy goes. I feel it’s a way for her to manage being in kindergarten, being just six years out of my womb and off on her own all day to navigate social and academic challenges and having to ask to go to the bathroom.

The Headmaster: This evening Faith and I are having dinner at the home of the headmaster of Betsy’s school. He’s a kind and gentle man who invites groups of parents to his home once during the year until we all have had the honor and he has had a chance to meet and greet each of us. If there is a nurse there I definitely will say I have a sore throat and go visit her for ice and a moment of patting down.

Another thing about Willard: He’s not nice. Friends involved in the gay marriage excitement here in Massachusetts met with Willard at his Beacon Hill office and said he made some snide remark about same-sex couples.


My mother: Still dead. Though I find myself thinking one day there will be a knock on my door. I’ll look out my window and see news cameras and balloons and smiling anchormen and women. At the door will be my mother.
“Honey, it was a joke! But we’re rich.” And then Ed McMahon would tell me and the millions of at-home viewers that my mother feigning her death by ovarian cancer won her 10 million dollars. “So don’t be mad,” my mother would say. But I’d be so freaking mad anyway. Just fantasizing my mother would assume I’d want money more than her makes me mad, which forces me to realize I’m just mad at her for dying but had to go and concoct a whole story about Ed McMahon to get to it.

Willard: If you were named Willard and you were going to choose a new name because Willard is such a duck-ish name, would you choose Mitt?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Imagine My Shame


If you’re a reader from the days when Are You My Mothers was hosted by Parents.com you’ll remember a story about a classmate of Betsy’s who Bets wanted to have over for a play date. After meeting Faith and I the girl’s mom responded to our play date proposal with an email explaining she doesn’t allow her daughter to have play dates during the school year.

It reeked of homophobia to me and to most of my readers. If it smells like poop, tastes like poop…

This mom had initially been friendly to me and Faith individually and it wasn’t until after she met us together that her tune changed, or so we thought. The seemingly unlikely possibility that her rejection had nothing to do with us being two moms arose weeks later when another mom (straight) in the class acted the spy and invited the girl to her house to see what response she got.

She got the same story.


Well we met the other day, the sorry-no-play-date-mom and I. Our daughters have since become even closer. They wait for each other at the school door each morning, they trade jewelry, and fantasize about getting together. I saw the mom from afar, saw that she was in a room I was about to enter and realized I had no idea what I was in for – a cold shoulder, a forced smile. I gave her wide berth. I didn’t want to call too much attention to myself, to her, to our past interaction.

But she saw me.


And as soon as she did she came rushing over and gave me a big hug.


We had the friendliest chat during which she offered a fuller explanation about why they don’t do play-dates, one that had nothing whatsoever to do with Betsy having two moms and everything to do with some compulsive painstaking effort to prevent any children from feeling bad if they can’t accept a play-date (so they have decided to do none at all until the summer when the children aren’t around each other to compare social lives). I can’t say I understand - hurt feelings are an unavoidable part of growing up. Still I am much relieved, and chagrined.


As we talked our daughters sat squished next to each other on a single chair.
The mom insisted we have a play-date the moment school lets out for the summer. Betsy and her friend want it to be a sleepover.

Betsy also showed me today how she and this friend pretend to kiss each other on the lips.


If there’s anything that will bring out the lovelorn obsessions of two 6-year old girls it’s not letting them see each other after school.

I’m thrilled and happily wiser for having been so wrong. One woman thinks she’s protecting children from hurt. Another thinks everyone’s a homophobe. We each have our issues.

Meanwhile, I need to keep an eye on my daughter, lover-lips. No, not because the daughter of lesbians shouldn’t be kissing other girls, but because strep throat is going around the class room. Geez. Don’t go jumping to conclusions.