Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No appetite.

One summer evening a few years ago I was at a rooftop bar in DC; maybe Perry’s in Adams Morgan. I was talking with some guy who had a pretty good appreciation for himself. After some idle chat, he asked me what I did for a living. I asked him to guess.

Guy: “I’m pretty sure I can tell what you do.”

Kate: “You can? What’s that?”

Guy: “You’re a teacher.”

Kate: “Huh! A teacher! Why do you say that?”

Guy: “You’ve got that hungry look.”

Kate: “Hungry; wow. Hungry… And what do you do?”

Guy: “I’m a lawyer.”

Kate: “Right…”

Guy: “I’m right, right?”

Kate: “No.”

*Update: apaprently I have posted this before, which means I am running out of memories. Hmm.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sporadic memory lane.

When I was sitting on the couch at 2:30 this morning, feeding Alex, my mind drifted back to my high school days in Palo Alto. It seems like a lifetime ago, and … ugh, it was. I’m more than twice as old as I was when my mother and I moved out there the summer before my junior year in high school.

In some ways it was an unfortunate couple of years. I had been very happy back at my small, private school in Washington, D.C., and it was a big change to suddenly be at a huge public high school in California, with all the typical cliques you might imagine. I spent my two years there wishing I had been able to better infiltrate the “in” crowd, which a little surprisingly consisted of the kids who would all be heading off to Stanford, Berkeley and the Ivy League schools. Those were the same people I had been friends with in D.C. (although at my school by 11th grade we were pretty much done with the “popular” group nonsense as everyone had known each other for so long), but here I only managed to sort of hover around the periphery. Instead, my high school fate was sealed the first day of class, when I walked into the administrative offices and met another new girl.

Stephanie came from a background pretty different from my own. Her mother had hair like Brigitte Nielsen’s, sported inch-long fake nails, and supported herself by sharing an apartment with her overweight, pasty boyfriend who sold Amway products and wore a lot of brown polyester. In contrast, my mother had been a model in New York before later practicing law in Paris and then joining what would become the most renowned law firm in Silicon Valley. Nonetheless, we were both new to town and had not made any other friends yet, and so we latched on to each other.

Stephanie had an elaborate makeup routine that I found fascinating to watch. She wore foundation and powder, and she curled both her eyelashes and her bleached blonde hair. She and her mother had moved to Palo Alto from Texas, and she told me that’s just what girls did down there. I, on the other hand, wore nothing unless it was for our Saturday night sorties to underage, underground clubs in San Jose, when I obscured myself behind the palest ivory foundation, black-rimmed eyes, red lips and half a can of Aqua Net.

I’m not sure why, but I can’t really remember the ins and outs of our two years together; only a few snippets here and there. For example, we:

1. Bought vodka by my waving wanly at the liquor store clerk from the car while Stephanie told him her mom was sick in the car but had sent her in to buy booze;

2. Worked together at the bakery across the street from our high school. Sometimes she wouldn’t ring up what she sold and would pocket the money instead.

3. Went to a bonfire out on the beach at Half Moon Bay one night in summer. She drove as usual, since for some reason I didn’t get my license until I was 18. That night, I thought it was the coolest thing ever to be a teenager in California.
4. Went with our friends to our prom at some place called Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz, with an after party at the illustrious Glass Slipper Motel on El Camino.

You know, it’s not that there was anything that bad about my time in Palo Alto, or that Stephanie and I got up to anything worse than I would have with anyone else. It’s more that I wish I had made friends I would have liked to have kept in touch with. The friends I ended up making there were ones I made more through her than on my own; at least those I hung out with most. Now, when I go home to visit my mother, I have nobody to call.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Dear Diary.

Today’s post reads like the crummy diary entry of a 40-year old wife and mother who you would never even guess once had a high-flying and semi-fabulous existence. Of course, it’s fabulous for me in a different way, but it sure as hell doesn’t read like it.


Assuming I remember to take my camera/reattach my head, I should actually have something bloggish to share over the next couple of weeks – real life, actual TRAVELS!!! This Thursday I am going to the Bay Area to visit my mom for the weekend. Who’s going? That’s right – “I” and I alone. Three full days without children, which translates into: sleep, books and uninterrupted conversation on topics other than poop and merry-go-rounds. So of course every time I think about it all I can think is how much I will miss them. Maybe that will wear off when I get one night’s sleep that doesn’t require me to get out of my bed multiple times to address another call of “Mommy, Mommy…” or prepare “waffle! eggy!” at 6:30 a.m. But I doubt it.

When I get back from Palo Alto, R. and I are packing up the car with the kids and all their shit and going to Aspen for a couple of days. This will be our first road trip with both boys, and given Alex’s recent inclination to cry incessantly in the car it has the potential to suck. Still, once we get there it should be fun, if only because I’ve never been there before. Actually, I’ve never been much of anywhere in Colorado, despite having lived here for more than 8 years. Since Aspen is known for its good restaurants and shopping, walking around with a fat baby wedged in a Bjorn on my chest and holding hands with a fairly wild toddler might not have been my first choice of ways to experience its delights, but it’s better than sitting in our house for yet another day and so we’re going.


So until Thursday and the start of my limited domestic travels, I will be sitting at my desk trying in vain to focus through the greasy film of antibiotic ointment on my eye. For four days I have to squirt a ribbon of erythromycin onto my eyeball every 4 hours to heal a scratched cornea. Saturday I noticed that the vision in my right eye had become blurry, and because of my medical history with that eye (a detached retina 5 or 6 years ago) I freaked out. I called my doctor’s practice, and they had me come into the office at 9 on Saturday night to see the doctor on call. Since I had been planning to crack open a bottle of Cloudy Bay that evening I was a little bummed, but hey. Anyhoo, after much examination of my “sluggish” pupil and thankfully flat retina by a rather good-looking (my vision wasn’t THAT blurry) young doctor, I was informed I had an eyelash growing inward that had been scraping my cornea with every blink. He plucked it out with tweezers and sent me on my merry way. How lame can you get? The poor doctor had to see me and basically perform an aesthetician’s job just because of my history. And now I have greasy goop oozing anew from the corner of my eye every four hours. But my eye still works and for that I am thankful.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It's 4:20 somewhere!

Our latest nanny has quit after a scant 5 weeks; her husband has been transferred to California and they are moving at the end of the month. But I am not writing this to whine about how hard it is to keep good child care; no. In fact, we have already found someone we are pretty excited about to replace her. No, I’m just writing this to let you know that what I’ve heard is true: the current generation of young people looking for employment is as dumb as a box of rocks when it comes to the kind of shit about themselves they put out on the internet for public consumption.

When looking for a new nanny, I stumbled across an ad on Craiglist for someone who looked very promising. She was a college student majoring in international studies, with 10 years of experience working with kids. She seemed smart and enthusiastic, and I contacted her. We traded a couple of emails, and when she addressed her email back to me as “Hi, Wendy!” and said “2 and 5 years old sound like the PERFECT ages for me!” I didn’t want to hold it against her – after all, she spoke so enthusiastically about how she was going to work with my nonexistent five year old. We set up an appointment to meet for this morning.

And then I Googled her.

The first thing I saw was her Twitter feed, which had been updated three hours previously to inform the world that she had just scored some chronic; “fuck, yeah.” There were enough other cheesy references to pot (“Having a great 4/20!”) in her posts to indicate she has something of an affinity for the stuff.

The next site was her myspace page, complete with a sultry photograph of her showing the tops of her obviously bare breasts. The page was plastered with images of marijuana leaves and in her information section she told me and the world she was looking for other burners because she smokes every day. Additional statements like “I was bi before it was cool” and the news that her dog is a pit bull completed the jolly image of this person who wanted to take care of my children.

Now honestly, I could not care less in the abstract if someone smokes pot (although I’m not going to hire them to watch my kids when they proudly admit they do it every day and their myspace page looks like the inside of a teenaged boy’s room from 1973). Nor do I care if she is bisexual, although I’ve always thought that straddling of the middle ground was sort of a fakey construct by girls who think it makes them sound cool. I’m less thrilled with the pit bull – I don’t need pictures of my children’s beautiful faces plastered across the evening news as the latest victims of this “misunderstood” breed.

No, it’s more that this girl was stupid enough to think the world ought to know these things about her, and presumably accept her for “who she is.” After I sent her an email canceling our interview, she sent me an indignant reply latching onto the marijuana issue like I was some sort of asshole who thinks it’s OK to get politely tanked on gin and tonics but who thinks smoking weed is the mark of the beast. I gave her a little spiel about how she’s na├»ve to think that having that kind of stuff about herself on the internet isn’t going to interfere with getting jobs. I knew it wasn’t really my place to tell this person she ought to think about shaping the fuck up, but I did it anyway.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Have I ever told you anything about my college boyfriend?

My college boyfriend and I started dating about halfway through our freshman year, and broke up about halfway through senior year. Despite our wholesome, youthful love for one another, the actual feeling of which escapes me now, I decided that I would spend my junior year abroad. I would spend the fall without him in Rome, and then we would reunite in Paris in the spring.

My boyfriend, Eric One (Eric Two being my law school boyfriend), came to visit me halfway through the semester. As my program was located in a convent, we had to pretend he was staying with one of his fraternity brothers also on the program, and that he was not shacked up with me in my damp little garret with a crucifix on the wall and geckos darting across the bathroom floor. After a few days of dancing around the issue, Eric One told me that while I had been away he had slept with a girl he had dated briefly before me. I had the requisite feelings of anger and hurt, but then there was an earthquake in San Francisco (where our families lived) and I was able to distract myself with that until he went home.

After he left, I had a lot less compunction about acting on a vague crush I had been nursing on one of my fellow students. Handily enough, it happened to be Eric One’s same fraternity brother. Not for me, the handsome, devil-may-care Italian boys zipping around Rome on their scooters, honking their horns and whistling appreciatively as they whizzed by! No, I had chosen instead a typical repressed Connecticut WASP as the object of my desire. Still harboring some guilt but mostly just feeling fucked over by my boyfriend, I spent a couple of lackluster afternoons alone with my irrepressibly boring classmate. Frankly, he was so dull and I had enough guilt that I didn’t bother to sleep with him, but that didn’t stop him from telling anybody who would listen that he had, in fact, nailed me. One person who listened attentively was Eric One.

The next semester, we were in Paris and ostensibly trying to put it all behind us. We had coffee to drink and boulevards to stroll, and we had as romantic a time as two clean cut Americans who had cheated on each other could have. Since I can’t remember the time I spent with him there at all, it must have really been something special.

I do remember clearly, though, that for our spring break we rented a car and drove with some friends down to Cannes. We had an apartment overlooking the ocean, and we spent our days exploring and our evenings sitting around drinking and telling stories. One night we all sat around the dining room table and played some game; one of the guys was very funny and told a story that made me laugh so hard I peed right there in my chair. Still laughing, but also sort of crying, I made everybody turn away as I backed out of the room carrying the chair with me. But I digress.

One day as Eric One and I were lying around chatting, he felt he needed to get something off of his chest. Back at school in Connecticut, he had refused to believe that I hadn’t slept with his fraternity brother – why on earth would HE lie? – and what with the pain of that and all, one night he got drunk and screwed some girl I didn’t know. He was drunk though, so that kind of excused it, right?

The next fall, I was at a formal at St. Anthony Hall, his fraternity. The girl Eric One had slept with was there. I was a senior now, though, and I had magically gained from my year abroad some sort of self assurance I had been lacking in my earlier college years (although probably not as much as I think if I was still with my louse of a boyfriend). As I was dancing with some friends, my ever-present cigarette dangling from my fingers, she sidled up to me and asked me for a light. She looked at me challengingly, and I raised an eyebrow as I pulled out my lighter. She leaned in toward me, and a swath of her shoulder-length hair that she had pulled behind her swung forward. As I looked back into her eyes, I lit the flame. Just as I could smell the tips of her hair hissing and crackling like the fuse of a firecracker before it hits the payload, I snuffed the flame.

“You bitch!” she cried.

“I am,” I said, and turned back to my friends.

After we broke up, I remember seeing Eric One around campus with a black eye. Apparently he had started dating some girl whose ex-boyfriend had walked in on them fooling around and had punched him in the face. Ouch!