Friday, January 26, 2007

Jeebus Take The Wheel

DemiGoddess the Elder took driver’s ed class at the high school last fall. At the end of the quarter, she passed the written permit test, and after that I took her to our neighborhood licensing bureau to get her driver's permit card. We filled out forms. She had her picture taken.

So you’d think it would have occurred to me that now I am supposed to take her driving. In MY CAR. And actually LET HER DRIVE MY CAR.

Somehow, though, the reality of the situation didn’t set in until her card arrived in the mail. Turns out, it's much harder to live in denial when one is staring at a photo of one’s child on a lerner’s permit.

I told her, sure, I’ll take you driving. Just as soon as you’ve had your behind the wheel training. It sounded perfectly logical at the time, but was really just a desperate stall tactic as I put forth a monumental effort to hide the fact that I was completely freaking out.

I said, since it’s the holidays and all, maybe wait to schedule your first lesson until January.

Because, you know. January will never come.

Except that here it is, January, and she had her first behind the wheel session yesterday after school. When I asked her how it went, she said it had been fine. She was too scared to go on the busy streets, but she did get up to 30 mph on the side streets, which felt really fast. And she hadn’t hit anything, so that was good. Then she said her instructor would be calling me later that evening. Apparently she’s supposed to have been practicing already, and I have wasted my money by allowing her to take behind the wheel training before she’s had any driving experience.

“Yah,” the guy said when the call came. “She needs a lot more practice. Take her over to the school on a weekend and have her drive around the parking lot, then. She needs to be able to go on those busy streets before I take her out again, doncha know.”

I was being chastised by what sounded like a 150-year-old driving teacher from Lake Wobegon. Sheepishly, I thought, I know. I can do that. We’ll just start slow. It will be fine.

Then he said, “She needs to learn to look right when she’s turning right, and look left when she’s turning left."

Wait, what? She needs to learn that?

When Demi the Elder was a toddler, I bought her one of those Playskool Tyke Bike riding toys. The day I bought it, I eagerly set it on the sidewalk for her, and she toddled over, turned around, and plopped her diapered butt down on the seat. Backwards.

I learned an important parenting lesson that day—Do not to take for granted that some things will be obvious. As in, when you sit on the riding toy, you’re supposed to face the handlebars.

And, similarly, when you're driving the car, you’re supposed to look left when you’re turning left, and right when you’re turning right. Okay then.

But the thing is, a Honda Civic can do considerably more damage than a plastic riding toy. And, my car may be old, but I only have the one.

And, seriously. Where the hell was she looking?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Warning: Do Not Go To This Film

My Ho and I went to see “Babel” on Sunday, along with my sister Betsy.

I admit that it was me who wanted to see it. And the only reason I was interested was because it received the most Golden Globe nominations, and I felt a need to see it before the awards show broadcast last night. This, in spite of my aversion to all things Brad Pitt. I should have known better.

We left for the afternoon show right after the Bears won their playoff game, which is a good thing, because it meant that My Ho was in an exceptionally good mood right before I forced him to sit through over two and a half hours of pointless storylines loosely connected by long periods of excruciating boredom. And Sister Betsy nearly whoopsied from the herky-jerky handheld cinematography.

But don't just take MY word for it.

So you can imagine my astonishment when the film won the best picture Golden Globe last night. Although I suppose the fact that the cameras spent so much of the evening focused on Angelina Jolie's bony clavicles should have tipped me off that things were not going to go well. And, inexplicably, no sign of Isaac Mizrahi, either.

Betsy and I also saw "Little Children" on Sunday (my sister and I, we are the kind of hard-core movie fan freakshows who will pay to see two films, in the theater, in one day) and although the ending was just a smidge too precious, we both found that one ever so much more enjoyable. And decidedly less nausea-inducing. And also, 100% Brangelina free.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Rocket Ship Lunchbox

DemiGoddess the Elder got it for Christmas.

Friday, January 05, 2007


On December 30, my friend Batgirl welcomed her son, Dashiell John, into the world. She and her husband, Jeb, were in town for the holidays when they discovered she was in labor about eight weeks ahead of schedule. Dash ended up being born right here in Minneapolis, and although he weighed in at a slight 3 pounds, 2 ounces, he is able to breathe on his own and is healthy enough that he’ll spend the next few weeks in the special care nursery, not the NICU.

After confirming with the new parents that it would be okay, My Ho and I made plans to visit Batgirl and Jeb in the hospital on Tuesday evening. I was very much looking forward to meeting the newest member of Team Batgirl.

Then, on Tuesday afternoon, the DemiGoddesses received a call from my Ex with sad news. We had no longer been expecting that his baby, also a boy, would make it to term, but the hope was that he could hang in there for another few weeks, long enough that surgery might be a viable option. But when my Ex called, it was to tell the Demis that the baby’s heart had stopped beating that morning. There wasn’t anything left to be done but induce labor.

That night at the hospital, I stood next to the incubator as baby Dash slept, pink and tiny and perfect, with one scrawny arm thrown back over his head like he was sunbathing under the bilirubin lights. Watching his little chest move up and down as he breathed, I was in awe and in love, while at that very same moment, I ached over the loss of the one named Henry, whose due date had been within a few days of Dash’s.

Some days life is impossibly wonderful. Some days it is brutally unfair. That day, it was both.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Say it ain't so, Doug! Say it ain't SO!

Yankees reach tentative deal with 1B Mientkiewicz

Major League Baseball News Wire

NEW YORK—The New York Yankees apparently have found
a defensive caddie for Jason Giambi.

The Yankees have reached a tentative deal with first baseman
Doug Mientkiewicz, the New York Post reported Thursday on its
web site.

No terms were disclosed in the report, which said Mientkiewicz
will undergo a physical Thursday.

Mientkiewicz, 32, won a Gold Glove with the Minnesota Twins in
2001 and would provide the Yankees with a more than capable
defensive alternative to Giambi, who has regressed defensively
over the past several years and figures to be the team's primary
designated hitter in 2007.

A veteran of eight-plus seasons, Mientkiewicz batted .283 with
four home runs and 43 RBIs in 91 games with Kansas City last
season. He is a career 270 hitter with 59 homers and 348 RBIs in
870 games with Kansas City, Minnesota, Boston and the New York

Mientkiewicz served in a similar role for the Red Sox at the end
of the 2004 season and caught the final out in the franchise's
first World Series in 86 years. He kept the historic ball for a
time before turning it over.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Speaking of Smack...

How much do Wednesday nights suck now that Lost is on hiatus?

Seriously. Taye Diggs is cute and all, and I even watched his show once because it came on the TV while I was in the middle of something and my hands were full and I couldn't reach the remote, so I just left it on, even though I vowed that I would never ever watch that stupid show simply on principle. And it was actually kind of interesting, in a non-Lost kind of way. But no. Just no.

The other night My Ho and I took the DemiGoddesses to see "We Are Marshall" (bring tissues, kids, it's a weeper), and the movie was okay, but every once in a while I couldn't help leaning over and whispering in My Ho's ear, "Live together, die alone..." Because, duh, that was totally Jack up there coaching the football.

And then last weekend they went and re-ran the Saturday Night Live show that Matthew Fox hosted, and I'll tell you, it was fun while it lasted, but when it was over, the emptiness was hard to bear.

If I think too much about how ABC has enslaved me with that TV show, how cruelly they teased me last fall with those six episodes, just letting me get good and settled in for a full season before--oops!--killing off Mr. Echo and then YANKING IT ALL AWAY AGAIN until February...

If I think too much about that, I start to get really, really angry.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

What Is This “Cash” You Speak Of?

The DemiGoddesses both achieved the pinnacle of their young lives last week. As in, they both finally got their iPods.

Christmas contributions from many of their extended family members, along with the not-a-Shuffle cash I had placed under the tree for them (in boxes, and wrapped, because I had to watch them open SOMETHING), plus the money they both have been saving for months all added up to the three of us making a trip to the Apple store at the mall.

The place was packed with post-holiday shoppers redeeming their gift cards and buying up all kinds of electronic goodies. As we waited in line, DemiGoddess the Younger twitched and wiggled and occasionally made little squeaky noises. When our turn arrived, she told the young man behind the counter that she wanted a 30 GB video iPod. White, please.

Her voice was clear and decisive, but she was hopping up and down and vibrating, which the employee seemed to find amusing.

“How will you be paying today?”

“Cash,” said DemiGoddess the Younger.

“What?” he asked, looking confused.

From her little corduroy Old Navy purse, Ms. Younger produced a fat roll of bills, which she handed to the man. As he blinked at it in astonishment, she then pulled out a mason jar half-filled with silver change and set it on the counter. A look of panic spread across his face.


“She’s been saving for a while,” I said. “Just add up the bills and I’ll write a check for the rest. I can take the change to the bank on the way home.”

That transaction completed, it was Demi the Elder’s turn, and she wanted a PRODUCT (RED) 4 GB Nano, the one that Apple will donate $10 of the cost of to the Global AIDS fund. The Apple store man seemed relieved that her wad of bills was slightly smaller, and that this time there was no jar of change.

From the Apple store we went to the bank (to empty $28 from Demi the Younger's mason jar into my account), and then to purchase protective cases for each of their new treasures—Demi the Younger’s a blingy, silver metallic wallet-style thing, and for Demi the Elder, a clear plastic case that the red is visible through.

All the way home in the car, Ms. Younger raved about how long she’s waited for an iPod, and how she couldn’t believe she finally has one, and she couldn’t wait to get home and charge it up so she could download all the songs from every one of her CDs that she has stored on our computer at home. She asked if she could please use my credit card number to set up an iTunes account, if she PROMISED never to buy any songs without asking me first (“Absolutely not.”). She also vowed that she will never, ever, take her beloved to school. We’ll see.

After buying the iPods and the cases, neither of the Demis had enough money left to purchase the $29 wall-charging cords, so for now they have to take turns charging their perfect precious-es through the USB port on our PC. Later I griped to My Ho about what an insidious racket this whole iPod thing is—you pay a sizable amount of cash for the unit itself, and then they nickel and dime you to death with cases and wall charging cords and docking stations until the cost of the whole mess pretty much doubles.

He offered the services of his Youngster’s friend Sam, who can allegedly build a docking station from scratch.

“Is this the same Sam who got in trouble at school for making a taser out of a smoke detector?”

“He made the taser out of a disposable camera.”

“Yeah. No thanks.”