Friday, January 28, 2005

Slow ride, take it easy

Cars are a liability in San Francisco. Adage reconfirmed this week when our '98 Ford Contour was totaled out Wednesday-- by parking tickets.

That's a little more than $900 in parking tickets culminated by a $250 tow. Scoff-laws that we are, we always had better things to do with our 35 bucks than offer it up to the DPT, and considering that we were ticketed nearly weekly, and again considering that 35 dollars a week is a bottle of cheap wine a night... well, you get an idea of our priorities.

We're not into cars and we're not into microwaves. Both take up space and are seldom used. My mother has, however, given me a minimum of four microwaves over the years-- always when she found my kitchen piteously lacking one during a visit. By the same token, people generously give us cars. They see us driving decades-old clunkers, it pains them. Example: Shortly before our return to SF, Michael's brother gifted him "The Dog Truck," so named because my brother-in-law used it to haul doggie playgroups around Oakland for his dog walking business. We were moving, it could haul, so we gladly accepted it. No longer good enough for Jeff's clients' dogs, it was good enough for us until it was totaled back in November under the sad circumstance of a pricey clutch job.

We were just taking a few deep-cleansing breaths at having The Dog Truck off our backs when Michael's employer offered him The Rayko Truck. This truck had, in fact, been donated to Rayko by the sculptor Jack Soman, well known for (among various and sundry other distinctions) creating an ArtCar every year for the Bolinas, California "How Bolinas Can You Be?" 4th of July parade. Given that one of Jack's masterpieces was made up of many hundreds of stainless steel scales I was afraid of what to expect, but as it turns out the Rayko Truck is a dignified plain black. Only the "War is Stupid" slogan soddered into the back bumper and Jack's signature superchicken hood ornament indicate its origins.

The Contour was the last of numerous former company cars passed down to me by my parents' business. They were traditionally given upon my destitute return from an extended seat-of-my-pants stint outside the country and driven up and down the entire stretch of I-40 until they gave up an exhausted ghost. The Contour had logged more than 200,000 miles in her seven-year life, and had recently begun flashing a red "check-engine" light in protest when the DPT came for her and held her for ransom. Little did they know that her greatest value to us was in the "urban cred" Michael gleefully calculated we stood to gain by having a car totaled out in parking violations.

And that leaves two adults, an infant and a carseat in a filthy king-cab truck with a chicken on the hood...but hey, my mother is coming out to visit in a few weeks. At least we have a new microwave to look forward to.

Friday, January 21, 2005

New Family Photo

Originally uploaded by llamaschool.
This one was taken last weekend on our trip to lovely Los Angeles. More specifically, it was taken at the Sheraton in San Pedro where we stayed friday night along with about 500 Texans leaving on a Princess Cruise the next morning.

Michael has Pop Rocks on his tongue.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Natoma Street

For those trying to keep up, we're moving again. This time to a two bedroom, on infamous Natoma Street as immortalized in the final chapter of J.T. Leroy's The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. It's closer to Rayko, so we may be seeing either more or less of Michael.

Oh, and the nabe is a bit more, uh, urban than the Inner Sunset, where we've been posing since we moved back to the city last year. So if your vacation plans include us, consider yourselves forewarned.

frntdoor living2 kitchen Kitsch2

ourbdrm SabraRoom sabrawindow pissoir

Monday, January 17, 2005

Le Plaie-Groupe

Before attending Sabra's playgroup for the first time, I was more apprehensive about the other mothers than the kids. Mothers are snarky, defensive, competitive, self-righteous. Babies aren't difficult to like, and I could surely forgive a toddler a few negative character traits, right?

Well, as it turns out the other mothers are very cool. Much cooler than I, sadly. But the kids! Oh, my. In fact, thank god for Les Mamans because even under our vigil the whole thing threatens to degenerate into The Lord of the Flies.

For those unaware, Le Plaie-Groupe is attended by francophone mothers and their sub-verbal but hopefully soon-to-be bilingual toddlers, ages 8 months to 16 months. (Those further unaware should note that the "Plaie" in "Plaie-Groupe" is French for "bandage" as in one needed for a puncture wound, head wound, sucking chest wound...) They pass around maladies like a chapter out of La Peste, and every toy becomes an object of territorial dispute worthy of the Franco-Prussian war.

Yes, the kids are probably too young; but with languages you're supposed to start early. At this point, the few that can say anything at all in French or English are limited to a variation of "uh-Maaaaah!"--always an exclamation and meaning variously "MAMAN," "A MOI" (French for "mine!") or one of the repertoire of animal sounds. Comment fait une vache? "uh-Maaaaah!" Et un chaton? "uh-Maaaaah!"

One of the little crapulets gave Sabra her first-ever snotty nose this week. At least it wasn't a bloody nose, or another of the facial scratches she's come home with every other week. The big girls, Charlotte and the two Isabelles, clomp around like pieces of heavy machinery. The boys, Auden and Daniel, are quite meek by comparison but when pressed can also slap, pinch, and bite. But Sabra is awestruck by "les grands." Think along the lines of those teenage girls you've seen in the audience footage of The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show-- staring wide-eyed, clapping ...shrieking, sobbing.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Bad Mother! (dodges rolled newspaper) BAD! BAD!

In our defense, we really don't watch a lot of television. We were given a free month of NetFlicks two years ago and still haven't used it. But we're not above flipping on the Baby Neptune DVD we received as a shower gift (thanks, Adrienne) when an emergency arises-- like an important telephone call that would be undermined by a background soundtrack of high-pitched babyese. It has a semi-permanent place in the DVD player, ready to jump in for us in a pinch.

Such an occasion arose this morning. I plopped Sabra in the middle of our bed, surrounded her with pillows, activated Baby Einstein and left the room phone in hand. I even stuck my head in the door to check on her a few minutes later. She glanced at me, expressionless, then back at the TV screen.

I came back into the room later to find that she'd watched about 20 minutes of Resnais' Night and Fog, a very graphic holocaust documentary that we'd been watching the night before.

I just hope that in 35 years her therapist is not into regressive hypnosis.

Monday, January 10, 2005


After I'd passed the pet store fish anecdote around, Michael and his mom organized a trip to Steinhart Acquarium yesterday. Michael has wanted to go for awhile; I'd listened more than once to his musings about what must have been involved in moving all those fish (snakes, bugs, penguins...) across town from GG Park to their new home next door to Boca di Beppo. Who got to drive the trucks? And how does one go about applying for that job?


Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Resigned to Resolutions

Having allowed room for failure by procrastinating until the 4th (midweek), Sabra and I now commence the carrying out of my one and only New Year's Resolution:

Leave the house at least 3 days a week. No excuses.
Addendum: Errands and conventional daily trips to the park don't count.

Assuming that a pre-meditated, well-scheduled extra-curricular activity would be more likely to anchor my resolution with a sense of responsibility, I did spend some time in December looking at options. Anyone who knows me knows I've decided against baby yoga. But the excuse may surprise you: Based on recent experience with teething, I believe that even if Gus didn't end up chewing up the yoga mat, Sabra would. And I've assured myself that jogging strollers are surely dangerous. The waitlist at La Piccola Scuola Italiana is too long. Sabra's new shrieking-banshee tic rules out library storytime. The website is too difficult to decifer. I can't justify giving more money to Gymboree for classes considering my susceptability to their shameless merchandising and goofy clothes. So I arrive at week one with nothing in place except enough rope to hang myself.

Yesterday we stopped by the pet store to pick up some Gus supplies, and Sabra flipped out in front of the fish tanks. She was particularly excited by a fight we witnessed among 3 South American Parrot Fish. So we're going back to the pet store today, but just for fun this time--so it counts! And again tomorrow and the next day, if I can't think of anything better to do.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

99 things...

I started this blog in January 2005 without much in the way of explanation. I didn't actually publish it for six months. In retrospect, I wonder if a little personal background might be helpful to the reader, and I offer what seems to be the requisite "## things about me" blog entry. I'm pre-dating this post to the beginning of my blog, it was actually published July 10, 2005. Here y'are:

Three things about this blog you should know: The only computer I have access to is a huge-screened Mac; this may be the explanation if my blog looks like crap on your PC (but please let me know anyway, and I’ll try to tweak it.) I often finish a post days or weeks after it was begun, and the post date may reflect either. If I link to your blog don't feel I expect you to link to mine.

Three screen names I've had: Narcissa (the defunct HipMama boards); Llamaschool (Craigslist); kimchilla.

Three things I like about myself: I’m shy, but then I shock new acquaintances by being blunt and smart-assed. I can hold a grudge forever, don’t even try me. I am a good enough mother.

Three things I don't like about myself: I pick the hairs out of my legs with tweezers as a compulsive tic, so they look like I have the plague. I sublimate my anger at the world onto my husband. My bedroom is and has always been a mess.

Three parts of my heritage: French, assorted Anglo Saxon, Native American; or, as they proudly still say in Oklahoma, “Indian.” My CDIB card says I’m 1/8 Cherokee, but there’s some Creek in here too.

Three things that scare me: Talking to salespeople. Talking to the bank teller. Unexpected phone calls.

Three of my everyday essentials: A bath--ALONE. A nap. Cheap wine.

Three things I am wearing right now: Capris from Target that I dyed because I didn’t like the color. A cuffed T-shirt I stole from my brother. Expensive shoes.

Three things I want to do badly right now:
Eat Petits Ecoliers and from Trader Joe's and drink grapefruit soda; Read a book while eating Petits Ecoliers and drinking grapefruit soda; Hear no whining for cookies or cheese while eating Petits Ecoliers and drinking grapefruit soda.

Three of my favorite songs: (varies daily; today): Papa Was A Rodeo (The Magnetic Fields); Too Much Pork For Just One Fork (Southern Culture On the Skids); Big River (Johnny Cash)

Things I want in a relationship: Big dorky glasses. Three kids. A mother-in-law with a house in France.

Two truths and a lie: Two of my toes are webbed. I smuggled a rabbit out of Guatemala in my pants. I think 100% of NPR’s programming is just great, it’s not pretentious at all.

Three places I want to go on vacation: France, always. And Brazil, and India.

Three places I’ve lived that I loved: Paris; San Francisco; Quintana Roo, Mexico

Three places I’ve lived that I hated: Portland, Oregon and Clermont-Ferrand, France; no offense to the locals—the people were great, the weather sucked. And McMinnville, Tennessee; the weather was fine, the people sucked.

Three places I’m embarrassed to have never visited: New York, Washington DC, Israel.

Three celeb crushes: Steven Colbert. Ted from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Mo Rocca.

Three brushes with fame: My ex-boyfriend once pissed on Jacques Derrida's shoe; there are witnesses. One of the individuals on my celebrity crushes list once hit on my husband IRL. It wasn't Ted. In 11th grade I dreamed the current Elite Supermodel (1986) Renee Simonsen, who was at the time living with Duran Duran's John Taylor, stabbed me to death in a jealous rage. Six years later my BFF from high school met her in Denmark and told her, and they called me (drunk) to laugh about it.

Three people I’d like to cuff on the back of the head: George Walker Bush. William Jefferson Clinton. George Herbert Walker Bush.

Three people I admire: Hillary Clinton, I don't care what you say. My brother John, who tells it like it is. My paternal grandmother, who didn't kill herself as planned after she outlived the 3rd of her three children.

Three things I just can't do: Two-Step. Roll my Rs. Roll up the sides of my tongue.

Three kids' names, female, that I thought about using but didn't: Narcissa, Lilith, Salome

Three kids names, male, that I thought about using but didn't because I didn’t have any boys: Felix, Max, Lex. Don’t know what it is with x names. And no, it has nothing to do with secks.

Three things I didn’t think I’d do as a mother that I do regularly: She sucks a Nuk-Nuk at night. She watches Les Teletubbies. I give her cookies so she’ll shut up and leave me alone.

Three things I regret: I slept with a professor in graduate school. I dropped out of the program with a 4.0 and one class to go when he started making my life miserable. I never resumed my education.

Three habits I’d like to drop: The leg picking (see above). Saying “cotton pickin’,” as I grew up in Oklahoma and honestly never knew it could be considered a racial slur. I drink Diet coke on the sly.

Three accomplishments I’m smug about: My French is excellent. I play classical guitar, and my Leyenda rocks for an amateur. My baby is the very cutest.

Three jobs I’ve held: French/English Instructor, Nurse’s Aide in a home for the elderly, academic grant management

Three ways I am stereotypically a boy: I don't take criticism well; If I bathe every day that's enough of a grooming routine, hair fixin' and make-up application aren't going to happen; I want a big ol' pleaser.

Three ways I am stereotypically a girl: I usually wear skirts; I'm a crybaby; I want a big ol' pleaser.

Three very personal things I wouldn't tell you if I met you IRL: When I lived in Portland I suffered from seasonal depression so badly that I used to drive out to the suburbs to tan in a tanning bed at a tacky salon, just to experience the warmth and bright light. I drink Diet Coke to wake myself up in the morning, then force myself to vomit it up; I don't display any other signs of bulimia. I don't like anal sex, I don't care how trendy it is.

Three things I want to do before I die: Apologize to a crapload of people. See my grandchildren. Learn to cook.