Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Marvelous Ensemble and Magnificient Escape


In news that is of interest to my mom today:

Ayla is home sick because she and a classmate decided to re-enact some Chris Farley or Adam Sandler movie and by that, I mean that Abby puked. And then Ayla saw Abby's puke and then Ayla puked.

It worked. Busted them out of class so fast, you would have thought they were Dean and McQueen.*

"That must have been fun for your teacher," I said, and she giggled.

I didn't giggle when I remembered that I have two writing deadlines this week and one bag full of felt monkey puppets, all of which need two arms, two legs, one snout, and two body pieces, that I OH SO WISELY volunteered to cut out for Kindergarten.

Ayla is having a Despicable Me and MegaMind Marathon, and I am writing this blog instead of the stuff I get paid for, because I'm confused and I'm pretty sure Kate Middleton's going to hire someone to do the monkey puppets for me.

Maybe Camilla?

Indy has put together another delightful outfit consisting of brown velour pants, a bright yellow, silk ruffled skirt, a long hot pink tank top sticking out from underneath a long-sleeved white shirt with a pink cupcake bedazzled to the front, a headband, a flower clip, an Indian-inspired flowy scarf in hot pink, yellow, and orange that I bought after watching Slumdog Millionaire, during my brief Frieda Pinto stage (it lasted a day, Swedes cannot wear hot orange--it goes against our skin and hair palettes and also against our constitutions), one Claudia Kishi sock (red, white, and black),one neon green sock with a monkey and stars on it, and one leg warmer warn on one arm.

She is marvelous.

We are at Mom-ology today.

Thank you, and

I love you.

All of you.

Not just my mom.

*Somewhat obscure, nonsensical reference; sole purpose: amusement of the easily amused blogger with inflated sense of self.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Royal Pain

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I'm so confused. I can only half understand things that are going on in my life. Here's what happened: I watched a Lifetime movie about Kate and Wills. As in Middleton and of Wales. Now I can't tell fantasy from reality. Example: last night Mr. V and I started smacking each other--imagine us doing it playfully, if you like--with kitchen utensils over burning cabbage and boiling mustard sauce in our tiny kitchen. "Oh!" I thought. "This is just like that time that Kate smacked the Prince of Wales over the burnt lasagna!". Then it occurred to me that I don't actually know if that happened, I only saw it on a Lifetime movie where some things were from the tabloids and others, I suppose, weren't, and now part of me feels like I might actually know Kate and Wills? But I'm pretty sure I don't.

Other events whose veracity I find cause to doubt: Did Wills really say, "I know, right?" when he and Kate were talking about the Chilean children? Would Harry really impishly refer to himself as "the spare, not the heir"? Did Kate Middleton make a joke about a gnome in her underwear and is her life actually plagiarized from "The Princess Diaries", really? Did I actually spend three hours on a Saturday night watching a Lifetime movie about Kate and Wills? You can see how the line between fantasy and reality has become blurred. William really kissed Kate upon a ski slope; the paparazzi really did take shots of Kate's crotch. How do you go from being the descendant of coal mine workers to the future mother of the crown princess? Seriously, I want to know. But did Will actually almost dive into the lake to win her back? Did they actually call her "Waitie Katie", did the lingere dress really cause Wills to see her as 'more than a friend'? Did I call Kate to console her, crying in the bathtub? Did Mr.V and I actually eat cabbage and mustard for Easter, are we actually that poor? We came back from a walk and our home smelled of Billy Elliot, is this actually our life? These are the questions we may never find answer to.

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"I've realized something," I said to my husband, like I was about to tell him the cure to world hunger. "I want to be Kate Middleton."

"We all do," he said. "We all want that." And then, "The British people pay for that lifestyle, you know."

"No," I said. "It can't be so." Immediately I pictured the enormous lush tent on the African savanna where I may or may not have watched William propose to Kate. And the yacht, and the trip to Switzerland, and all the ridiculous hats. So many other things could be done with that money. (I could fly to Paris, for instance.) "I thought it came from back then," I said. I had imagined giant caverns full of gold chains and glittering rubies, like in The Goonies. I could trick the king with a riddle and bring in ten elephants to haul away the gold. The British people allow tax money to support their royal's life of disgusting excess? The Royal family takes their people's earned money and throws lavish weddings and vacations on private islands with it? Really, truly? Actually happening?

It can't be so. It just can't. William says things like "I know, right?", and Kate makes jokes about underwear gnomes to the Queen. This I can swallow. The other thing, I can't. "I would storm that castle," I said. "I would overthrow that throne. Like I did that one time, with the Nazgul."

"Yes," husband said. "That was you."

I am Vesuvius and the events described in this blog may or may not have actually happened.

Post-Edit: I hear that the Of Wales' and the Middletons are paying for the royal wedding out of personal funds. (i.e the money from 'back then', I suppose, and maybe the Middletons chipped in for some Cook's Extra Dry). I wanted to say this because while I feel free to disparage the royals without doing any research on what I'm disparaging them for, I don't want to be responsible for you doing the same.

I most certainly did not learn this information while watching a TLC special speculating on how Kate needs more ambition (I say honey aimed pretty damn high, but whatever) and William, for the first time in his life, may or may not have displeased the Queen. I hope for his sake it wasn't over an underwear gnome joke falling flat; I know how that feels.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dress Your Fantasies In Oprah and Winchester


So you'll recall--or maybe you won't, just don't tell me you don't remember every word I've ever written on this blog or I'll likely uncontrollably sob. My ego, it's unusually fragile--that last week (hello, sentence structure) I went to Wal-mart for fake french crap and sleep meds.

What I didn't tell you is that the first bottle of Melatonin I picked up contained 100 tablets, each containing 1mg of Melatonin.

The second bottle I picked up contained 5mg tablets of Melatonin.

The third bottle? Each tablet packed 10mg of Melatonin. That's 10 times more than the first bottle, the bottle for humans and not for caffeinated elephants. (Isn't it? I don't do math).

I bought the 10mg pills.

I take two of them at 9:20 (twenty minutes before bedtime as instructed).

If I'm lucky, I doze off before midnight.

My name is Vesuvius, and I am impervious to sleep.

We're going to need
another bathroom. I never looked into a mirror until I was thirteen (and boy was that a shock, to discover that not only did I bear little resemblance to D.J. Tanner but that HyperColor beige really was not my color), but my daughters are different and every morning, we're all three of us crammed in there with Indy shellacking her hair to her head and Ayla lining up every hairpin she can find in artistic, unexpected patterns in her locks and I'm wielding a curling iron, a cup of coffee, and a serious 6 am haze and this just is not going to work.

This morning I was fussing with concealer and indulging in a silly fantasy. You know, in my head. I won't tell you exactly where I was, in my head, but let's just say it was similar to imagining yourself on Oprah's couch or practicing your Oscar acceptance speech in the mirror.

Please note I am not admitting to having done either of those things. If you have had those fantasies, you are lame and pathetic, exactly like you always feared.

While I was NOT imagining myself on Oprah or kissing a golden-statue-bearing Colin Firth, I realized that not only were the goblins not removing their heads to bounce them on the ground, but they were both singing. To themselves. Ayla was singing in the shower, a rather unlikely and latent rendition of The Wiggles' "Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy", considering that we haven't listened to the Wiggles in years. And Indy--well, Indy was singing an improvised ballad by Rapunzel of "Tangled", spiced up with threats I will not repeat here because Indy is going to be a real person one day and it would embarrass her. I think.

Look, the main point of this blog is that I wanted to humiliate you for all those times you've imagined yourself telling Oprah, in peaceful and beatific tones, about how you overcame, say, your ant infestation, or your husband's nose whistling, or succeeded in your life long quest to roll the perfect cake ball. Also to shame you for the times you've fallen asleep scripting all the hilarious things you are going to say on Conan or in your guest spot on 30 Rock when your blog--I mean, uh, "spoken word poem or other thing I have never written"--is recognized for the comedic genius it is, which, I firmly repeat, I have also never done.

But in the spirit of O magazine and what I mistakenly imagine a blog is supposed to be, I would also like to have some sort of insight and it is this: I've been thinking a lot about happiness, and trying and failing to write about it, but I managed to remember something about it in the moment and not in retrospect today. If I had stayed in my head--where I was totally NOT saving the world with the Winchester brothers, wearing perky-butt jeans and packing serious sawed-off heat as 'the one who got away' from Dean--if I had stayed in that place that was so happy in my head, I would have missed all the happy that was going on now.

You know. Like, the real happy. Not the imaginary kind.

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I have especially never imagined myself into the scene with the lederhosen.

I mean, I know it's been said before, but I've heard Eckhart Tolle, an exceedingly mild-mannered German, and he never said it like this.

He vould say is more like zis: Uff you spend all zee time imagining you are zee Vinchesteh's totally hot gehl-fwend, you vill miss all zee times your daughters sing inappwopwiate sings in zee showeh. Also, beige is really not youh coloh.

I am Vesuvius and I'm totally not still trying to look like D.J Tanner.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

You Want To Read This Book

If you are at all interested in Hemingway.

Or the Lost Generation.

Or Paris.

Or the roaring 20's as viewed from abroad.

If you are into literary history.

Or if stories about the lives of people whom history has generally overlooked interest you.

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THE PARIS WIFE is the story of Hadley Richardson Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway's first wife. I'd read a little bit about her in Hemingway's own "A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition", which I also loved. McLain starts the book in Oak Park, Illinois, when Hemingway was just a young buck, injured and dashing and damaged from the war, and Hadley was practically an old maid in those days, unmarried at 29. The story is fiction, of course, but McLain draws heavily from "A Moveable Feast", and also from "The Sun Also Rises", imagining that book as a highly autobiographical account of Hemingway's own life in Europe in the 20's, and I don't know but maybe it was.

It would have been easy for a writer to make old Ernest look like a self-absorbed, misogynistic monster, but that doesn't happen here. I imagine McLain is a fan of Hemingway, while at the same time realizing that the guy did cheat on his wife and went on to have three more. One of those three was journalist Martha Gellhorn, who was rather more than Hemmy bargained for. Famous during World War II, it was easy for old Hem to get a press pass to go cover stories overseas. He refused to help cub journalist Martha get one--"Are you a war correspondent or a wife in my bed?", he wrote her--and she subsequently found passage on a ship loaded with explosives. When she arrived in war-torn London, she promptly dumped him. Seriously, Hem. Get a girl a press pass, can't you?

I like that story.

And did you know that even though Hem was having an affair while finishing up "The Sun Also Rises", he gave Hadley all the royalties for that work--forever. The royalties from the 1957 movie version of the book also went to Hadley. These things are never black and white.

But the book isn't about any of that, it's about Hadley, and a young ambitious writer desperate to make history, and a generation of people tattered and bruised by war, trying their best to live the champagne and oysters life in Paris and Switzerland and Italy. F. Scott and Zelda make appearances, along with old Gertrude and Alice. Hadley makes a charming, engaging character as told by McLain--absolutely smitten with Hemingway, but gently and quietly unwilling to compromise herself. It was just delicious all the way through, and when we got to the end, I cried.

So there you have it.

I am Vesuvius and I'm a wife at war and a correspondent in bed.

PS--We are at mom-ology today.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Little Voice

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So we're watching "The Fighter".

And I'm getting really annoyed that Christian Bale won an award for this role because he's a caricature.

He's "doing" the character. The acting, I can see it all over the place. I can't turn my head without bumping into a performance. "And now we are doing a blue collar wise guy! And now we are doing an accent! Look at us, we are very skinny and say 'heroin'. Somebody hand us our award!"

We're watching Amy Adams, who is doing just fine.

But you know, I don't like Amy Adams.

Can't say why. Some people just rub you wrong.

And then Mr. V makes a remark regarding her, and something--I don't remember what--tips me off.

"You're liking her, aren't you?" I accuse. "You're liking Amy Adams."

"She's a redhead. I can't help it." His pathetic defense. "What is your problem with Amy Adams?"

"I don't like her funny little voice. Or her pointy little nose."

"You have a pointy little nose," he mutters into his brandy glass.



I'm loading Indy into her carseat, I turn on the ignition, and the radio blasts.

We both startle.

I turn it down.

"Maybe the leprechaun did that," says Indy.

"Maybe," I agree.

"Or maybe," she says, "It was Michael Jacks."

By which she means, of course, that Michael Jackson has been creeping into our minivan at night to play impish pranks with our stereo volume.


I would like to point out that I like January Jones precisely for her funny little voice.

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And her icy, Teutonic gaze.

And her restrained until it is inappropriately expressed moxie.

And because I parent just like her.

At some point this stopped being a conversation about January Jones and became my love letter to Betty Draper.

I love you, Betty Draper.

You get that groove on.

I am Vesuvius and it's just my people are Nordic. And then I took a xanax.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wander Lust

In case you didn't know, the spring always wants to make me travel.

I typed it that way on purpose. It doesn't "make me want", it "wants to make" me, and I say that because the desire to pack up my bags and leave is palpable and unignorable in the spring. It's like April, the greening-up grass, the fragrant soil, is purposely releasing a chemical it knows works as a travel aphrodisiac to me. The month hooks its unfurling, viney claws--fertile tentacles, if you will--into my flesh and brains and bones, it pulls and aches and yearns; it's a terrible, terrible feeling and I don't wish it on anybody.

It makes me cranky and uneasy in my own skin. It's a hedged in, trapped feeling. It threatens to make the everyday routine feel less like a routine and more like a prison.

Then I think about my parents, who have never been to Europe, and how at least I've been twice--once in high school and once in college--and I think about people who can go whenever they want, who hop a jet to Paris like it's the A train to midtown, and sometimes that all just seems too painful, you know?

For a long time I was trying to figure out how to be grateful for what I had, and sometimes that felt like giving in. I felt like I had to be one or the other: grateful or yearning. But you know what? I'm both. I am grateful for what I have.

And I really, really want to go to Europe.

So there it is. It's a Thursday in April. Dewy and cool. The sky seems bluer than it did last month, doesn't it? The flowers coming up make my heart happy. This October I will plant bulbs, and next April I will watch my own flowers grow. And maybe I can plant the travel seeds now, too.

And maybe next spring, my travel-buds will blossom with the tulips.

You never know.

I am Vesuvius and will you forgive me for being sentimental in the spring?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bad Croissants and Melatonin

Indy crawled into bed with me before my alarm went off at 6:15.

She's been having bad dreams about strangers. I feel really bad about that. When I was little I used to have nightmares about strangers--strangers in my closet, strangers crawling in my window, and every time I'd jump up to tell my mom and dad, the stranger under my bed would grab my ankles.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's had that dream.

Anyway, I feel guilty that little Indy is having stress about strangers but I don't know what can be done about it. You have to talk to them about these things, right?

So this is the sad, sad truth: Some days I just need to feel a little bit French. Avec je nai sais quoi, if you get my drift. On these days I wear black and I buy Perrier and tulips and I drive to Wal-mart. (Here's the sad part). Wal-mart has the best croissants I've found so far in Longmont, and they also have affordable brie and chevre., I don't know if you can comprehend the profound tragedy of this moment in my life: I hear Paris call, I get in my mini-van, I drive to Wal-mart.

Leaving Wal-mart, I was so tired I almost took a melatonin at 8:45 in the morning. I'm not sleeping well. Most nights I'm lying in bed a step away from wide awake when Noah comes home at 1 am. So into my blue Wal-mart basket went croissants, brie, Perrier, sleep meds. What is more French than sleep meds? Possibly absinthe, but they don't sell that at the W. In my haze, I reached down and started unscrewing the bottle of melatonin I had bought to help with my sleep problems. Because I was sleepy. And melatonin would help, right?

Good god woman. Pour yourself a cup of cafe creme, already.

Dear Paris: I love you.

Please send for me soon.

Combien de temps dois-je attendre?

I am Vesuvius and ou est la boulangerie?

Monday, April 4, 2011

What Ayla Doesn't Know

Indy looked in the mirror and said, "Mom, I'm getting lots of freckles on my nose because I eat so much toilet paper every day."

. . . So, that was news.

Ayla got really mad at me and ranted off a string of things I won't repeat but it did include screaming, "You have so much junk in your trunk!"

I would like to point out that Ayla doesn't know the expression is a euphemism for fat.

(Isn't it? I don't actually know.)

She wrote in chalk on the sidewalk that she was sorry. "I love you mom will you forgiv me?" she scrawled, and left an empty line.

I wrote "for a ticket to Paris, yes".

Then Ayla did this and I was sure: I've got the best kids ever.


She spelled 'love' correctly, but I am having width issues here and they are proving insurmountable.

Just like Ayla.

I am Vesuvius and I'm going to go hide the toilet paper.

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