Month: August 2013

Have You Seen My


alphabet soup

alphabet soup (Photo credit: bark)

Not those, I want the good ones.  The ones that make sense, build a story.  With feelings and a plot and characters you want to climb inside.  Words you can smell, sentences you can hear, paragraphs you can taste.

Workin’ on ’em.  Story of my life.  Summer is ending, and I’m in a panic.  I haven’t written enough words!  Too many words of suckage!  And who keeps slipping these exclamation points into the blog?  Pfft, lazy, lazy writing.

Sometimes the perfect words are few.

Nerd Child:  “Mom, I saw an interesting movie the other night.”

Mrs F:  “Mm hmm, what?”

Nerd Child:  “This is Spinal Tap.”

My work is done.


**One of the Fringelings tells me she was unable to leave a comment on this post.  If anyone else experiences the same, please drop me an email to let me know.  Thanks!


I can do a lot of dreaming looking at this photo, how about you? ~Mrs F

I can do a lot of dreaming looking at this photo, how about you? ~Mrs F

Late August.  Time for the annual panic, “oh no, the school year’s about to start.”  I’ve been walking around saying this summer has felt particularly odd because of the cool weather.  Lies.

Summer is just never long enough for me.  If it isn’t cool temps, it’s temps that are too hot, or too rainy, or too many obligations or too many deaths.  Just not enough, which is an old and familiar song for me.  The theme of much of my writing, the guilty chorus that whispers about my parenting, the peek at my word count at the end of each day’s writing session, the ever ready want of more.

The other day I went with Nerd Child and Flower Child to my godson’s Eagle Scout ceremony.  Induction?  I don’t know, scouts aren’t a big thing here in Manhattan.  My suburban friends reassure me that scouting exists here in the city, but I’ve never met any beyond a small, half hearted cub scout group when Man Child was in 1st grade, disbanded by Christmas.

Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges

Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges (Photo credit: honus)


It was very sweet–though I know better than to use the word sweet in relation to an almost seventeen year old boy– and made me feel old and nostalgic.  We took the train to Brooklyn and the Scout’s grandmother, where I sat with my kids on her couch in the living room I spent hours in as a teenager.  Not too many people from my past have stayed in Brooklyn, let alone the same house, so it was very alternate reality feeling.  We met up with a friend and traveled the rest of the way to Long Island.  There I saw more friends, and watched my kids goof around with theirs, and felt the absence of a good friend’s son who passed away last summer.

Obviously more goes into the Eagle Scout thing than I understand, Godson and parents were very, very proud. Local politicians and reps attended and gave brief speeches and congratulations.  A snapshot of a lovely moment.

I also missed Man Child.  Between boarding school and college he’s been away a lot, and I did get to see him this summer, but he’s already back in the dorm.  This is the first time he hasn’t come home to be “home” over a break, and it’s damned weird.

Kind of maudlin today, aren’t I?  Did get to the beach with Flower Child yesterday, which felt good, but didn’t quite recharge me in the way I had hoped.  A family of three, two parents and a little girl of about 4 years old settled next to us.  I couldn’t believe the amount of shit they had with them for two hours at the beach.  Six towels, two large shade umbrellas, three huge bags of toys, sunscreen, and snacks: three people.  The little girl was covered neck to calves in one of those bathing suit/lycra sun coverall things.  I swear Flower Child and I saw bathing suits that looked just like it in the museum last year, what women wore at the turn of the twentieth century. This was not a fair skinned family, but you would think they were albino (am I politically incorrect, is there a more current term?) with the amount of sunscreen they slathered on.  I’m not going to mention their little disagreement with the lifeguards about the safety of their sweet pea, and the rule against life jackets/swimmies in the ocean.  I know it seems counterintuitive to the Backyard Pool crowd, but really.  Big waves, riptides, small children, you don’t want them at all out of reach and where they can’t safely stand.

I know we’re all so much safer than previous generations, fewer kids will find themselves in the dermatologist’s office with a skin cancer diagnosis, but widespread Vitamin D deficiencies weren’t a thing when I was using baby oil and iodine instead of SPF 8000, either.

Listened to Creedance Clearwater Revival on the way home, remembered when that was my favorite beach music.  When I had to turn the tape over it was time to flip and freckle my other side.  I used to work odd hours, at the time I lived in South Brooklyn and worked in either Manhattan or downtown Brooklyn.  In the summer, if I was working overnights I’d leave work and head straight for the beach, get a few hours of sleep and sun before heading home to eat, nap, and go back to work.  Swing shifts, I’d get up early, get on the train and go back to sleep on the beach, leaving just enough time to shower before work.   Thinking a lot about those days as I work on Astonishing, tapping into those old work experiences and certainties that I would, when I was ready, be a published author.

It’s ok, you can laugh, there was no internet then to tell me that isn’t how it works.

Don’t Forget to Flush the Terlet!


toilet (Photo credit: Gerard Stolk (vers les 66))

It’s been too long since I posted, and I don’t feel very deep this morning.  I haven’t worked on Astonishing in a week, and if I don’t get something done on it today, I’ll have to be flogged at dawn.  So, I’ll continue with my travel theme, and share a couple of my favorite public restroom experiences while we were on the road.

For the Fringelings without dangly bits, you know how important it is to have a clean, working toilet when you stop.  Fine, we’ve gotten really good at assessing this before even finding the sign, and most of the rest stops along major highways are reasonable.  In the interests of people watching/listening, public bathrooms top laundromats, and that’s pretty hard to do.

Earlier this week, Husband and I went south.  Just us, just for the day, a work-related thing for him.  As a super bonus, I was able to meet one of my long-standing online fish freak friends.  For the record, I have excellent online judgement, a super nice guy who was exactly who I thought he would be from our internet conversations.  Husband and I could have spent much longer chatting with him.

Husband did his work thing, we drove around and explored the area a bit, bought a couple of heavenly cantaloupes from the Amish, and then headed back home.  Stopped for dinner at a chain restaurant (not Cracker Barrel), where I–you guessed it–had to use the restroom.  Now, the tables were fairly empty, but the bar was crowded.  Serious drinking in progress.

And there in the claustrophobic stall, I heard the music of my misspent youth.  Yes, from two stalls over came the sounds of a young woman puking. There are the sounds of someone who is sick, upset, and then there are the sounds of someone experienced, stealthy.  Mind your own fucking business music.  Quiet, but unmistakable.  I didn’t see her, but I’m guessing young because of the baby bar flies falling off their stools.

Faye Dunnaway - 1970s Inspiration

Faye Dunnaway – 1970s Inspiration (Photo credit: What I Wore)

True, I could be wrong, but this was, without a doubt, the controlled retching of an experienced puker.  Could have been an anorexic, but my money’s on regular drinker.  You know who I mean, the gal who sits and drinks until she can’t force another drop, goes to the bathroom and empties her stomach so she can drink some more.  Totally took me back to the bars I hung out in when I was in my twenties, where that was a regular sight and sound.  Somehow it isn’t surprising this still occurs, and in its own way, it was perfect, because the main character in Astonishing is having a long term, destructive affair with wine.

Funny, I wasn’t so hungry by the time I returned to our table.

A couple of hours later, at a regular rest stop for coffee and bathroom.  First of all, it was weird because the main entrance for the women’s room was blocked off, and I had to walk through a gift shop and back outside for access.  Fine, it was well lit, other people were there, reasonably clean.  I walked in just behind a woman with her young daughter.  The little girl was probably around three.  If you’re not a parent, let me tell you there’s a special hell in public restrooms with young children, particularly at night when they’re overtired.  At three, they’re all either OCD or gleeful at the prospect of touching something disgusting.  Still years away from deliberate public puking to have that eighth  margarita.

This sweet pea was on the OCD side.  “NO!  I don’t wanna!  It’s gonna FLUSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Mom: “It isn’t going to flush until I flush it.  Now sit back down.”

“NOOOOOOOO!  It’s gonnnnnnnnna flush!”

“What are you doing?!  Sit back down, you’re peeing on me!”

At this point, I’m feeling totally sympathetic towards mom and the little girl.  I imagine meeting mom’s eyes across the row of sinks as we wash hands, giving her an encouraging smile.  I’ve been there.  Flushing is scary to young kids.  Powerful automatic toilets that can’t correctly read the weight of small children are terrifying.  Once they have the experience of unexpected suction and splash, every road stop can be a trauma.

“Don’t be a baby!  You’re a baby! I’m going to put a diaper on you.”

Yeah, there went my sympathy.  Kid is now beside herself, wailing uncontrollably.  Three!  She is a baby. I know, I know. I’m sure mom was also overtired and ready to cry, and we’ve all said things we regret.  But there was something about mom’s tone that made me think this wasn’t all that unusual, and it made me sad.

The whole incident had me wishing we could just be home through a magic portal.  Maybe flushed through the automatic flusher.

English: Pedestal squat toilet

English: Pedestal squat toilet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Guilty Pleasures

We all have them.  The nice part of being old?  I don’t actually feel guilty anymore.  Maybe just mildly embarrassed.

English: Bates Motel Set at Universal Studio H...

English: Bates Motel Set at Universal Studio Hollywood CA. Source: Taken by User:Ipsingh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We used to vacation on a semi regular basis, once every couple of years or so.  We usually took the car, Husband driving until he couldn’t pretend his eyes were open, and then stayed overnight in inexpensive motels  (upgraded once we reached our destination).

There’s something fun about a basic motel.  The ice chest down at the end of the hall, pulling the car into a spot right outside your room, free continental breakfast! Lucky Charms in the morning!  I would get suckered every time, “magically delicious.”  Eww.  But then you could change your mind and stick with Rice Krispies. When I was a kid, those were the only motels we ever stayed in, and I don’t think I understood the difference between the Super 8 and the Four Seasons.  True, there was that one time my mother got fleas from the room we stayed in, but that didn’t dim the glory of the ice bucket for me.  You know what?  Cheap motels still fit the bill when you’re just passing through, and they’re still fun.

The other part of a road trip.  Road food.  And here we reach the guilty pleasure portion of today’s post.  Road food should be quick if you’re behind schedule, slow if you need a break, it should be cheap, have something for everyone.  For people who haven’t done a lot of vacationing, we’ve eaten a lot of road food, especially when you add in the road trips that weren’t overnight, touring boarding schools and colleges for the boys.

Brings to mind cute little hole in the wall places, right?  With the tough talking but spunky waitress serving the best. pies. in. America.

No.  Cause that might be what you get.  Or you might find yourself starving at a table and there’s nothing for half of your family to eat.  Or it might be so tiny that there’s no table for a family of five.  The food could just plain suck.  Or, nightmare of nightmares, you could find yourself on the road with food poisoning.  The solution?

Cracker Barrel, road food extraordinaire.  Rockers on every front porch, all for sitting and for sale.

Cracker Barrel, road food extraordinaire. Rockers on every front porch, all for sitting and for sale.

The food is reliable, they serve breakfast all day (important when you’re a traveling vegetarian), sure it’s kind of cheesy, but it’s also cheap and charming and very clean.

They have big checkers tables set up on the front porch and inside the restaurant, great for waiting with kids.  Even better, there’s one of these for playing with on every table.

The peg game.  How many will you be left with?

The peg game. How many will you be left with?

The food?  Country/home cookin’ style.  Don’t ask more than that, I think it’s a mix of southern, midwest, new england, or other.  And it isn’t just food and games.  Ye Old Country Store is attached to each one, selling inexpensive toys/games, old fashioned candy, blankets, candles, t-shirts, sweaters, and countrified nicknacks.

After drinking 12 cups of coffee, eating pounds of eggs, grits, and hash browns, who doesn't need some candy for the road?

After drinking 12 cups of coffee, eating pounds of eggs, grits, and hash browns, who doesn’t need some candy for the road?

Just sitting, there’s lots to look at in the decor.

Something to see on every wall.

Something to see on every wall.

And of course

Heads Up! I'm never certain if this stuff is for sale or not.

Heads Up! I’m never certain if this stuff is for sale or not.

Heading north for a couple of days tomorrow.  I’m quite certain there’re two buttery, over easy eggs waiting for me.

I’ll save the Lucky Charms for Flower Child.



Scared Titless

oral surgery stuff

oral surgery stuff (Photo credit: Newbirth35)

I know, I know, I’ve been an exceptionally bad blogger.  My tooth pain didn’t go away no matter how much I tried to pretend it wasn’t there, resulting in much misery, three trips to the dentist, and oral surgery.  I’m on the mend now, not all better but much better than I was.

Have I ever mentioned that I have a dentist phobia?  I do.  The pain, the sounds, and most of all, the someone is in my frickin’ mouth!!!  If you’re now tempted to explain how illogical this all is, save your breath and your fingers. Phobia. Irrational fear, I get it.


And now for what I don’t get, but I’m even more afraid of.  What’s happening for and to women in this country.


You Say I'm a BITCH ... SlutWalk in Miami: FIU...

You Say I’m a BITCH … SlutWalk in Miami: FIU Students March to Reclaim the Term “Slut” (Tue., Apr. 2 2013) …item 2.. Woman bit her live-in boyfriend’s penis (16 May 2013) … (Photo credit: marsmet532)

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, started making notes for a post about what ever happened to feminism, pushed it to the back burner.  Well, it’s now so front and center my eyelashes are singed, my bra has burned off, and my ovaries are experiencing shrinkage.


Some say the War On Women is a myth, fabricated by those stinky, left leaning, unshaven and leftover hippies.  I don’t think so.  I think it’s real.  Never in my life have I heard so many ignorant, threatening comments made by those in positions of power (yanno, those “service” positions– politics), never have I seen and heard about so many attempts to repeal women’s rights, as I have over the last 18-24 months.  I can’t help but wonder if I’ve been naive.  If it’s so widespread across the US, if there is so much support for those making these statements, I suspect it’s been there, this war, all along.   I just didn’t hear about it because there weren’t cameras everywhere catching these speeches, these comments, there was no twitter, no internet, and a limited number of channels and news (?!) shows on tv.  I think it’s been a Cold War, and now the heat’s been turned up using the fuel of electronic eyes and the internet.


I’m upset, I’m nauseated, I’m afraid.  Why?  Well,  because of this.  How the fuck is this ok?  Down what black hole have I fallen to find myself in this alternate history where it’s systemically acceptable for police officers to sexually assault women, and do it in public while putting their health at risk too?  Yes, I said it, systemic.  One lone or occasional psycho I understand.  Still horrible and scary, but I understand.  But this wasn’t one renegade mama hating small weiner syndrome sociopath.


Whether it’s written in the manual or not, obviously this is an issue that goes beyond one evil trooper. In the first instance, the male state trooper called for a female trooper to come perform this cavity search.  On the side of the road.  And don’t forget to recycle, use the same glove for both women.  Yeah, these troopers were all about caring for Mother Earth, after all, these cavity searches were prompted by a cigarette butt being tossed out a car window. littering.  Another by speeding (waste of gas) And they might have smelled marijuana in the car during one of those stops.  Cause every pot smoking woman I’ve ever known would have the instinct to shove a joint up her hoo haa and or butt.  And nothing poses a bigger threat to the public, necessitating an immediate public and unsanitary cavity search than a skunk weed tampon.


A beaver pair

A beaver pair (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Number One Threat to Public Safety. Oh, why be coy?  We all know Public Enemy Number One is


Seated Female Nude, ca. 1937-1940

Seated Female Nude, ca. 1937-1940 (Photo credit: americanartmuseum)

So no, it wasn’t this one evil female state trooper, it was a process that involved multiple officers all thinking this is acceptable.    And it turns out this isn’t limited to one instance, there have been others in other parts of Texas.  And don’t think of blowing this off as a crazy Texas thing, because there have been documented instances in other states.  For the record, the female (and only the female) trooper was fired.  I’m guessing she’s cursing the fates, smoking women, and the (I assume) unwritten policy that caused her to assault these women in the first place.


Another no, I don’t feel smug and secure because I live in left leaning, blue voting New York.  If you’re a New Yorker, you shouldn’t either.  Remember, we’re the country’s capitol of Stop-and-Frisk.  Not such a big leap from Walking While Black being a crime to Walking While Female.


I think of the Holocaust Survivors I’ve met over the years, the history we haven’t learned well enough.  In the beginning, it was all about well they’re only coming for them.  Only “them” came to include many.  The psychology we KNOW and have studied.  “How could the individual SS officers commit these atrocities?”  Pretty damned easily.  They were broke, unemployed, hungry and afraid.  They were given purpose, respect, food, commands, and fear.  Told by their superiors, those holding the food and safety of their families, “You have to do this.  For your safety.  For your family. For your country. Do it.  They aren’t really people.  They’re a threat to us all.  They’re JewsGaysMentally/PhysicallyDefectiveNotUs.”  And from post war experiments conducted, we learned that most humans are sheep.  We don’t actually need to be hungry or threatened.  Just told to do it.  Cause another person pain, suffering. Too easy.


Maybe this is the last roar of a dying breed, those who pine for the good ole days.  Except the good ole days weren’t really so good, unless you were wealthy, white, and male.  I hate to be the one to break the news, but “Leave it to Beaver” was fiction.  Being poor sucks, being hungry sucks.  Nothing new, it wasn’t fun to be poor and/or hungry 50, 100, 150 years ago either.  Being a person of color continues to involve multiple indignities that too many pretend don’t exist.  But our President is black has replaced But my best friend is black.  Does anyone really believe there’s a significant difference between those statements?


I get it.  It’s all about fear, and I understand fear.  I’m afraid for me, afraid for my daughter, afraid for my women friends, my goddaughter, my sons’ female friends, the women of America today.  WHY aren’t we continuing to move forward instead of sliding backwards?  I don’t believe our rights to own property will be revoked, our consumerist society will never give up consumers. The right to vote?  I don’t know.  Perhaps full body searches will be required before women can cast a ballot.  You know, for everyone’s safety.

Suffragettes in Bow Street

Suffragettes in Bow Street (Photo credit: Leonard Bentley)