I Don’t Want a Pickle…

Since the song loses something if you haven’t heard it, I invite you to listen now.  You really only need the chorus, so if it’s not your thing, you don’t have to listen long.

It’s by this guy: Arlo Guthrie.

From Flickr user pwbaker

The famous American folksinger, Woody Guthrie, is his dad.  Woody’s work is stellar, and much more earnest than Arlo’s.

Today in the car, Child said, “hey mommy, you wanna hear a song I know?”

It was after she’d demanded I play Regina Spektor’s “Uhmerica,” which Child calls “The OOh song.” She prounounces that Ooh as if she’s getting socked in the gut.  Click the link.  Hear the song.  Good times.

So while I scrolled through tracks and discs, Child sang, “I don’t want a pickle, I just wanna ride on my mooooooootorsickle…”

This is a song that my father sings.

He instilled a fondness for that and for “Alice’s Restaurant” in all four of us kids via the vinyl copy of Alice’s Restaurant that’s probably still swimming around in the clutter at my parents’ house.

God I loved “Alice’s Restaurant.”  Some of my earliest artsy teen memories are of open mic night at the local coffee shop where I’d always ask this hippie guy, the Em Cee, to do his full, 20-minute rendition of the song.

But all of us sing “The Motorcycle Song.” Dad’s rendition is particularly cute. My sibs, both my parents, and now Child.

So I asked her, “Did Pop Pop teach you that?”

She said, “Nah. I just heard it and learned it.”

She sang all of the words perfectly.  I said, “Who did you hear singing it,” hopeful for a moment that there is some kind of neo folk fan movement about which I am not aware because I suck at pop culture.

She said, “You, Grandma, Auntie, Auntie, Uncle Kuppie, Pop Pop.” She said this like some sort of bored, teenage list.  Seven is sassy. You should know that she calls one of her aunts Anty (the Southern pronunciation) and one of her aunts Ahnty (the New England pronunciation).

Aside from the way this exchange tickled me, and aside from the fun Child and I had thinking up words that rhyme with pickle and die, to insert into silly renditions, it occurred to me that Arlo Guthrie is the author of a pretty significant chunk of cultural influence on  my family’s.  I can’t decide if I think that’s awesome or sad.  At this moment, I’m leaning hard on awesome.

What about you–what are your family’s theme songs?

Spring 2012 Rocks, Notes On Family, Weddins, Hijinks, and Love.

Child with Mustache

So far, this has been a pretty righteous spring.

In the picture, Child is wearing a Groucho Marx Mustache that was originally purcahsed for my team, THIMP (or The Hammer is my Penis, thanks Dr. Horrible) at Quizzo Cup 5.

You might remember my wildly self-indulgent post about an unfortunate end to a friendship.  The bad news is that the frienship is still over.  The good news is that the Quizzo Cup event went off with both of us there, without a hitch, and with a minimum of weirdness.

We didn’t win the cup or the costume competition, but we had a blast and tons of beer and deep fried food and pizza.  Good times.

Today is Easter, the celebration across religious disciplines of rebirth and fertility.  Or Zombie Jesus Day.  Whatever.  It’s not important to me for religious reasons, but I have always enjoyed coloring eggs & chocolate.

Child and I are hanging out in Connecticut for a good part of this week with her biological second (or something) cousins on that mystery side of the family.  The older cousins are aware of the relationship, but I have not explained it to Child.  She does not yet really get the cousins thing, and has accepted that they’re related without questioning or upset. The biological connection is kind of convoluted. But this is a great precedent, and these kids are pretty terrific.

Here’s an adorable image of the sister cousins enjoying some co-snuggied, co-pillow-petted fun:

Child and her Some Kind of Cousin.

Child is enjoying her first Easter without my religious family, and Sunggie Cousin made her an excellent, clue-laden egg hunt.  This is much more fun than loads of toys, but we are long on candy (again).

Yesterday, we went to a wedding.  Cousins’ mom got re-married, and invited us to join the festivities.  She used to be married to biological father’s uncle.  That was not good.  There were loads of problems with that union.  But her new man is a gem, and the wedding was a small, unpretentious affair at which we met loads of really lovely people and had some pretty good food.

I get super emotional at weddings.  I cry for joy for the happy couple, and for the terrific energy we expend as humans to make our love known, and for the possibility that the love won’t last.  I also cry, less flatteringly, out of mourning for my own failure to understand the value of the marriage paradigm.  I pity myself for not wanting it.

Today, I’m making wedding-leftover soup.

The hotel pans of wedding food leftovers made the trek back with us yesterday, and totally beshitted the trunk of my car with chicken sauce and chicken fat stink.  Eww.

So this morning, Child and I scrubbed the trunk and backseat of the car, and hosed down the trunk lining carpet.  The backseat was long overdue.  To quote my dear dad, “They call them crumb crunchers for a reason.”

Then, Snuggie Cousin, Child and I dyed eggs and Rugby Cousin is watching something on his in-room TV.  Rugby cousin is a giant, intense, teenage boy.  The last time I regularly spent time with him, he was ten and a less giant, intense, kid.  It’s so cool to see how he’s kind of grown into himself.  He has Asperger’s, and I think that accounts for a lot of his intensity.

And I’m reflecting this morning on family and how comfortable I find it to have a flexible definition thereof.  And how lucky I am to have made such lovely friend-family members in my little life.

It is probably a luxury I can’t afford not to recognize, since Child’s family is at least nontraditional and at most stubbornly odd, given Fella’s and my fairly aggressive plan not to get hitched.

I am reminded today that love is much more important than the names we give our relationships.  I am happy to be me, and grateful for the surpassing generosity of the human spirit.

Insomnia at Child Pageant in Nowhere New York

This is from blog.penelopetrunk.com

I just spent about 2 hours reading Penelope Trunk‘s blog.  I woke up at 1:00 (really 2:00), and now it’s 3:30 (really 4:30), and thank god because after I get this burning need to tell all you good people about this amazing sleep interruption out of me, I will still be able to get some sleep before I have to get up to go watch the crowning at Angel Face Pageants in Owego, New York.  Penelope is my new girl crush.  I mean major.  I think I would probably have difficulty forming sentences if I met her.

Social Networking is hard but worth it.

Here’s the back story:  All 20 of you know that I am working my face off to rock this self-employment thing.  This blog represents me and my business (badly, I just learned, or at least not optimally), so in addition to pursuing clients & writing work, I have been following people on Twitter and tweeting and reading Copy Blogger, and The Wealthy Freelancer sends me its free webinars, and I’m doing all these “right” things.

So after my super lucky guest post on Jane Friedman’s Blog, this lovely woman, Jamie Chavez, linked me to a post about her son learning to really love reading after sixth grade.  And Jamie and I, kindred spirits I think, have been exchanging emails.  She pointed me to Penelope’s blog.

What I love about Penelope

  1. Everything.  No, really.  She is brilliant and funny and thoughtful and deep and good at life and all the things I want to be publicly.  Now, only you 20 people know this about me, and mostly because you know me personally, not because you read my blog.
  2. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin, which means that she probably stands on the same tile floor Lorrie Moore stands on to order coffee, at least sometimes.  Maybe they shop at the same Trader Joe’s.
  3. She started out writing fiction with sex in it.  I did that, too.
  4. She is a mom.
  5. She makes a pile of money writing.
  6. She has an MFA, but doesn’t talk about it.
  7. She has this rare ability to make vulnerability and shitty life moments readable, engaging, without even a sliver of self-pity.
  8. She is frank.
  9. She lives on a farm.

What I hate about Penelope

  • She told me I have to focus.
She’s right.  I know she is.  But here are the things I get excited about writing about:  writing, books, being a mom, movies, TV, child pageants (at least for a week), my life as a rock star, beer, vacations, cooking, eating, dreaming, fictions/stories.  Go.  Look at my archives.  They’re nuts.  I seem like an insane person.
Here are the things people read:  Anything with Dead Babies in the title, anything with the words penis, vagina, or sex in the body, my posts about writing, humorous anecdotes about me and/or my kid.

Diagnosis after Penelope Therapy

I need better titles.

I need to keep on keeping on.  Not that there was any doubt.

I need a clever euphemism for my domestic partner, like The Farmer, but different.  I learned that, too, recently from my domestic partner, he has difficulty with my writing openly on the internet about our life.  He is a private guy.  But Penelope tells me that if I’m funnier about it, it might work better for me.  I doubt that’s true in my case, but I’ll give it a whirl.

I need to be more artful about linking.

363.67 Days of Dicking Left


  • Yesterday I turned 31.  I’m still 31 today.  I’m keeping this age.  Some women say they’d like to stop at 29 or 30?  Not me.  I love my 30s.  It’s credibility in an age.
  • My domestic partner (DP) said he would break up with me when I turned 32 because he read someplace that women reach the peak of their beauty in their 31st year.  So I’m looking down the barrel of 363.67 remaining days of the healthiest love relationship I have ever had.
  • Our home heat is powered by hot water.  The baseboards make a noise.  Yesterday morning, my daughter who is six came into our room and said, “My room makes a dick, dick, dick noise at night.  It keeps me awake.”  After we explained the expanding pipes, DP said “Gotta stay away from that dicking.”
  • Lazarus died.  We returned him to the pet store where we received the worst customer service ever.
  • I went trick-or-treating with my fake sister-in-law, and realized that it’s enjoyable to be thrust together with people you wouldn’t otherwise know, and to compare notes on entering a strange family.
  • Today my mom turns 54.  I called her this morning, and I feel like I annoyed her more than edifying her.  I was tedious.  She laughed heartily when I confessed this fear and told me she loves me.
  • We bought too many bags of trick-or-treat candy.  So far today I have had 2 fun size Milky Ways, 1 Peanut Butter Cup, and my left-over bean curd with garlic sauce from my pre-birthday lunch out.
  • I am looking forward to participating in NaNoWriMo because I can, legitimately, shut down my internet to write fiction.  I cannot shut down my internet to do any of the other work I do.  It is a baiting distraction.

Crazy Weird Dream

I’m riding in a school bus down a narrow, urban street, and at first I believe it is my mom who’s driving.  When I realize it’s my sister, Ellen, I am a little relieved, but then panicked, because she’s my (much) younger sister, and I always worry about my sisters.

I ask, “Ellen, where’d you get the bus?”
“Just bought it.  For ten dollars!  Isn’t that cheap and awesome?”

As I say so, an 18ish, ponytailed blonde steps off the curb in front of the bus.  Dream time slows down and I see the little girl’s face change about a half dozen times in horror then resignation.  Ellen does not stop, or seem to really be all that horrified that she just ran over a young girl.  In fact, she says, “There goes a gallon of fuel economy.”

There’s a small blank in the dialogue in the dream, but somehow Ellen is compelled to pull over.  It’s as if her first instinct is to just keep going.  We’re all sitting in the bus, and then I become aware of the identity of the other passengers.

There’s my brother, Kenn, sister, Jenna, mom, no dad, and these two women who go to church (or used to) with my family, Megan and Erica.  In the dream, the two have kind of reversed body types.  Megan is very tiny and Erica is sort of Reubenesque.

Then there’s the cop.  He’s got a shaved head except for this largeish patch of thick, long, dark hair that he’s wearing down over one eye, all anime.  And he’s attractive and gregarious and funny and super nice to Ellen, even though she’s just committed homocide.

Then there’s rain, buckets of rain, and there are folks outside who are managing the crisis, and I am itching to walk home to my nearby apartment, but am waiting out the rain.  Then my mom decides to take the wheel and, she does so without any notice or discussion.  She’s decided the bus is in the way, and I’m screaming, “Mom!  Don’t go anywhere!  They’re gonna’ think you fled the scene!”   She says, “Hush, I’m just moving us so we’re out of the way.

So she goes around the block and into this strange, paved alley that’s only wide enough for the bus, but when it’s time to stop, she can’t.

So we’re in slow motion again, and literally feet from hitting more people and cars when I realize it’s a hand brake, and I leap forward and start tugging this thing that comes out of the dash like a pull string on a talking doll from days of yore, and I’m tugging and tugging and feet and feet of string are landing at my feet and we’re millimeters away from hitting people and I get it stopped.  Whew.

Then suddenly I’m walking in the woods in the dark in the rain with Megan and we’re talking about all kinds of things that I can’t hear in my dream, and then she says, “you know I’m pregnant?”
“I forgot.  Sorry.  You don’t look pregnant.  When are you due?”
“I don’t know.  I don’t really want to be pregnant.”
“You know there are things you can do about that.”
“I know.” sigh, “I don’t want to.”

Then we’re in this big, big church sanctuary that’s pitch dark, and as my dream eyes adjust, there are really strange shafts of amber light streaking, but in no discernable pattern, and with no visible light source, and we’re walking down one of the far aisles, and I’m wondering where the room ends when I see my dad.  He’s sitting alone in a pew that’s like a mile wide, and I wake up before I can go ask him what the heck he’s doing in my dream.

Where’s Jung when you need him?  And I packed our dream analysis books.  Phooey.