Friday, August 19, 2005

That Francey-pants mother-scratcher...

As mentioned in Wednesday's post, we are indeed leaving for a trip to the land of the gauls this weekend. For those new to the blog who think this may be a case of huppity-hup, keep in mind that we are the people who have cars kidnapped by the DMV, trip over junkies when we walk out the door, and drink two-buck-Chuck Shaw unless it's a special occasion. Like Friday. We may spend $5 on a bottle of wine on Friday, especially if it's my birthday. Like Today.

In order to understand our trips to France, a short biography of my mother-in-law is required. You know all those breakfast-related words people use to describe Californians? Fruit, Nut, Flake? Well, my MIL is big into reincarnation. I've never completely understood if she's a reincarnated Cathar or a reincarnation of Saint Sophia, but I think it may be both. Her father made a lot of shame-money in the defense industry in the 50s and 60s, setting her up for a life of ease. She just studies. The Cathars, Alchemy, Kabbalah, Irish mysticism. To love the History Channel is to love her. God willing she will never see this blog. If she does I am so dooced.

She has a house in southern France, cause that's where the Cathars were. And a lot of alchemists and Kabbalists. No, it's not a big house. To her credit, that's not her style. In the US she lives in a tiny cottage in Palo Alto and buys all her clothes at TJ Maxx. She's not a bad person at all, she's just never had to look reality or practicality in the face.

By the way, I was told, or more correctly my husband was told after she had her therapist do up my "chart," that I am a reincarnation of a Vienna pianist whose husband and two children were taken away by the Nazis in WWII. She uses this to explain my occasionally bitter and spiteful behavior.

It is my sincere hope that I'll be able to update the blog periodically over the next three weeks, but I can't make any promises. If the following means anything to you, we're going to be in the hamlet of Puilaurens-Lapradelle near Axat in the department of Aude. This is extremely far-flung as far as France goes. Suffice to say that it's the land that knows no DSL.

For the most part we're going to be doing a lot of hanging out at the French version of Home Depot and engaging in manual labor on the house. She's doing some research that will take us to Lourdes, Carcassonne and a few other tourist sites, so maybe I can manage a few blog entries that aren't all "We had lunch with X and he gave a three hour lecture on mushrooms" or "We watched the neighbors get a goose drunk." I'm hoping Michael and I can get away to Barcelona for at least one Cedra-free weekend where we'll probably stay in the kind of dump that won't mind if we stumble in drunk at 4 a.m. That will be our real vacation.

If I can't manage many posts, expect a series of retro-entries complete with photo essays when we get back. Take care.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

This just in...

compliments of


I don't usually wear Chuck Taylors, I'm just not that cool. Not usually, anyway. There is one exception. And if a fresh new box of sneakers with no arch support is sitting in our living room it can only mean one thing. I'm going to France. We're leaving Sunday. We'll be there 3 weeks. More on what that means to this blog in another post.

I would like to take a moment to admit that the above photo was inspired by ParisMOMster's blog (see June 8 entry under "Party of Four.") I also need to admit that I felt terrible yesterday when I stopped working on a draft of this post long enough to refresh my blog, only to find that the MOMster had written a very sweet comment about Cedra. I'd just typed an extended rant about the French and their fashion exigeances. Delete, delete, delete! But it's true that I do feel the need to upgrade my wardrobe every time we go to France.

I wish I were more naturally fashion-forward than I am, and I used to try harder than I do. But since I hooked up with my huz our shared fashion disorder has only become more acute. Compulsive Uniform Disorder, that's what it is. We both dress as if we're in uniform. If we find an item of clothing we like, we buy it in five colors and wear it over and over. That's why I have six pairs of capri pants, about ten knee-length skirts, six vintage 50s housewife dresses, and 10 Johnny-collared shirts. Michael's wardrobe isn't as complicated. 10 pairs of Carhartts, 20 t-shirts from Target, 20 pairs of white tube socks and four and a half million pairs of Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic (could there be a more offensive name?) boxer shorts from when my SIL worked for Gap Co. .... Four years ago.

The Chuck Taylors are kind of a French classic. People have been wearing them for decades. And for the fashion-challenged like myself who can't remember whether I'm supposed to be wearing beaded Pakistani slippers or gold ballerina flats this year, it's nice to have them to fall back on. I used to always try to buy a color of Chucks that isn't marketed in Europe, at one time it was green, another time purple. I got off on having young Francs stop me on the street to say "Ooooh, gym yang tape ass kit! Genie Al!" (okay, that's "J'aime bien tes baskets.") These days all I ask is that people NOT take notice of me. Solution, white Chucks. Couldn't resist getting Cedra's in the impossible to find cocoa brown, though.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Dumb Pictures of My Kid, suite.


You dig?

Still on the topic of Wednesday Addams after yesterday's post, my favorite episode of The Addams Family was the one where the beret-and-basque-striped-shirt wearing beatnik rode into their lobby on a motorcycle and stayed with them for a few days. Or for one 30 minute episode, I guess. He kept banging on bongos and saying "You dig? You dig?"

Said Wednesday, deadpan as always: "Only graves."

Monday, August 15, 2005

So very Raven. But not THAT Raven.

About ten years ago I went out with a guy who had a two and a half year old daughter. He was a recovering goth and his ex-wife was still heavily into the goth thing. Their daughter's name was, of course, Raven. This was before the Raven of Nickelodeon fame. Interestingly, it was also long before Emily although Raven bore an amazing resemblance. They dressed her in striped tights and black overall shorts. I think they were going for a Wednesday Addams look. I guess she'd discovered once that those multi-colored gummy worm candies matched a particular pair of her tights and she was obsessed with wearing that one pair of tights in the way that only a preschooler can be. She would carry around a bag of gummy worms and intermittently lay one across her leg to compare the stripe pattern.

Raven has crossed my mind frequently over the last week, probably as a result of an exchange with Dutch of SweetJuniper over our admiration for weird kids. We spoke of a particular Poe poem that merits being hung over the cribs of our children the way one would hang that print of Jesus leading Hansel and Gretel across the bridge under which surely lives the troll from the three billy goats gruff. One of my childhood babysitters had that picture hanging over a crib, dontcha know. Makes me shudder just thinking about it.

I'd like to tell you that Raven had a beautifully hand-illuminated copy of Poe's The Raven hanging over her bed, but that's not true. She had a little plaque her uncle had made that featured her name and a smiling infant surrounded by three huge dobermans. Not kidding, I swear to god.

My relationship with Raven's father lasted about five months, then reached that stage where there wasn't anything there but we didn't have a good excuse to break up. I finally called it off when he insulted my beloved old college ride, a Dodge Omni that now belonged to my brother. He referred to it as an "old clunker with Oklahoma plates." Bastard! That car's name was Hoop-Dee, not "Clunker." Jesus!

The thing about being involved in a relationship with someone who is a parent is that invariably you will have a relationship with the child as well, and I was sad to lose contact with Raven. I wonder what she's up to these days. She's probably hammering out book reports and geometry proofs over at Adda Clevenger. Wonder if they've read Poe's The Raven in English class. When they do, will she be smug or, like, totally humiliated? I'd really like to know.

By the way, what's hanging over Cedra's bed is a beautiful rendering of her name purchased for a mere $1 a letter from a street artist in Chinatown, along with this Yoshitomo Nara print. Not Wednesday or Emily, but you've got to see the resemblance to Cedra. We definitely recognize that attitude.

Friday, August 12, 2005

I XO Dr. Dentons

I love french baby pajamas. They have a drop-seat diaper panel à la Dr. Denton's. The idea is that you can totally undress the bottom half of the baby without taking off the whole (Alisyn!:) jim-jam.

But these dumb-pictures-of-your-kids representatives illustrate why I really love them:

PJ PJback

If you're flush, you can buy these types of jim-jams from Jaques-a-dit or Tibato. If you're like us, you can use hand-me-downs your cousin wore in 1992.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Sez Mojo Nixon: Cedra is alive in all of us

My friend JuJu's baby is due on the 31st, and they're at the desperate stage of baby naming. They've spent 8 months searching for an Italian boys' name that doesn't sound too feminine in English and, having admitted defeat (and scoffed repeatedly at my perfectly sound suggestion, "Italo,") must now scurry to decide on a regular English name.

Don't know if you've noticed, but the "new" batch of boys' names reads a lot like the mailing list for your great-grandpa's Masons coven circa 1908: Oscar, Ezra, Otis, Henry, Felix, Jasper. This is how she explains her arrival at the Social Security Administration's 1000 most popular names list for the 1880s.

Well, we were both excited when she found "Cedra" at #961 on the girls' list. There were 44 born nationwide over the decade, resulting in a 9-way tie with Junie, Jemima, Karen, Glenn, Euphemia, Dosha, Ula and Audie. Now that group sounds like a party of piperettes.

A couple of people have commented here on Cedra's name. We also get this often IRL. So, as a public service announcement, here's the explanation: My husband and I each had a childhood friend named with the name. Neither of these individuals was necessarily a friend after whom we would naturally name our child, but we did like the name and it ended up on our original list along with about 30 others. It was still there, along with Lucia, Cecile, Noemie and Mirabel, when we showed up at the hospital at 3:00 a.m. on May 19, 2004. It was on the birth certificate when we left 8 days later. Yes, eight days. Long stay, long story.

We knew that her (real) name is the term used in Israel for a native Israeli, and that no one in Israel would actually give this name their child, and that the name is politically charged given the xxxxx-Shatila massacre in the 1980s. But we loved the name and we chose it. Nay-sayers, mind your own!

Her name hasn't appeared on the top 1000 list since 1889, but a SSA insider did tip me off that the name was number 1,931 in 2003. This piece of info was tucked away for the baby book, should it ever be assembled. Also saved for posterity was a list of googlisms on Cedra's name that was emailed to us shortly after her birth. Here's an abridged (believe it or not) version:

Cedra is one strange and beautiful cat
Cedra is equipped with an automatic fire and explosion suppression system
Cedra is a poet with strong ties to the west of ireland
Cedra is just acting out because her callous, rich-bitch mother (Fay Baker) doesn't love her
Cedra is only a place to run through
Cedra is a loyal member of Professor Xavier`s mutant underground
Cedra is available in two sizes
Cedra is the only interventional radiologist in Mckinley County
Cedra is a professor of theology on the faculty of the Near East School of Theology in Beirut
Cedra is speechless with horror as she notes that her husband files a sixth notch in his revolver handle
Cedra is simply the best personal chef in the world
Cedra is the only kosher restaurant in San Francisco with a mashgiach on the premises
Cedra is fearless to the point of recklessness
Cedra is designed as a transitional experience for the middle school aged camper
Cedra is a metaphor and a nickname for the strength
Cedra is alive in all of us ( paraphrase Mojo Nixon)
Cedra is a noted highland dancer and bodhran player, and is also a choreographer who teaches and performs her own dances
Cedra is able to lift 50 tons and possesses super human speed
Cedra is going to be wed to Charlemagne Bolivar of Pride Jagaur to form a strong alliance between the two prides to end a 200 year old blood feud
Cedra is eight months pregnant with Ronnie's baby
Cedra is in the clear to stay drunk for the entire summer

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Beware The Overlook, Mrs. Torrance

Take another look at the Art Grant photo, below. It's an excellent example of Cedra making the "Mrs. Torrance finger."

Remember the creepy little boy, Danny, from The Shining? He was possessed by a seer who, if I remember correctly, was described as "a little boy who lives in my mouth." The kid would crook his finger, work the finger up and down a little, and his alter-ego would dispense predictions of doom in a raspy voice. redruM! redruM!

Cedra makes this little finger gesture often, and I mean like twenty plus times a day. We're waiting for the raspy voice to start and consequently to find Scatman Crothers hacked to death in our hallway. Meanwhile, if any of you armchair child development specialists are sitting there feeling the need to inform me that this is an early sign of autism et al., better check yourselves. I don't want to hear it.

On the subject of Danny Torrance, I remember seeing an interview with the actor who played the little freak and being absolutely blown away. In opposition to the subdued and barely verbal Creepy Danny character, he was totally hyperactive and had a thick Brooklyn accent. He bragged that he'd been payed the sum of "like, ten dolluhs uh suhmpthuhn" for his performance.

And on the subject of The Overlook, M. and I were married in the hotel they used to film The Shining. Scatman couldn't make the reception, but Shelley Duvall was there and kept berating the rabbi and faking seizures. Just kidding.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

16th and Mission

Among the veritable cornucopia of things that annoy me every time I walk by 16th and Mission is this sign:

Art grant2
Is this the best way to procure an art grant? Are readers of The Onion your best bet for a receptive audience? Well, I guess they probably are.

If art grants are there just for the asking then that may explain why my friend Mike The Librarian, who worked in SF for a government-sponsored center that offered support to those applying for grants, claims to have spent most of his days playing computer games.

Incidently and somewhat ironically, he's now working as a children's librarian in a suburb of Portland and aparently busting ass to an exhausting degree. I've heard him complain about having to entice the sub-adolescents off of the computer games and into the reading groups. It's always nice and schadenfreudique to see one of your good friends punished in a manner akin to a chapter of Dante's Purgatorio.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Trouble in the So-Van

Some sad fool parked his truck in front of the private garage next door. Actually, it was a pack of young fools. We saw them as we rounded the corner on the way home from the SuperMercado with our $52 receipt. $18 in baby food and drink, $25 plus for the weekend’s liquor, 3 bananas and an eggplant.

Foolhardy young fools. If you live in San Francisco you should really know better than to block someone’s garage. But this particular garage--ooh! Last time it happened my husband witnessed the car’s unfortunate proprietor standing on the sidewalk contemplating a used tampon that had been thrown onto the hood.

There's a sticker on the front bumper of this most recent soon-to-be-soiled vehicle:



Monday, August 01, 2005

"That picture is from Burning Man. I'm the one in the orange fur bikini."

So stated an acquaintance of mine who is now a mother of two.

A note on my passing mention of Burning Man in yesterday's post:

If you're from the Pacific Corridor, or the 6 major cities between Vancouver, Canada and San Diego, California, I'm sure you've heard all you'll ever want to hear about Burning Man.

I've never been myself, but Burning Man was a big adhesive element among my husband's Palo Alto high school friends. He last went in 2000. From what I understand the idea is to leave your resident PaCo urban area, go to the desert in Nevada, and spend labor day weekend doing something cathartic. I don't know if Extasy, nudity and pyrotechnics are actually required, but everyone's cathartic activity seems to have these things in common.

When I moved to California in 1997 I was told that while the previous year's Burning Man had indeed been "rad" (I was talking to someone from L.A., obviously) the current year's gathering would surely "suck." How is it that I've heard the same precise statement, with or without the use of the term "rad," each year for the past 9 years? Anyone?