Special Occasion: Yanno, Thursday

Canned biscuits

Canned biscuits

The other morning I stuck these in the oven for Art Child’s breakfast. When she woke up and came in the kitchen she asked, “Is today a special day?”

Ooof.  I was never the picture of the Happy Housewife, never cooked breakfast daily, but I used to actually make breakfast regularly enough that no one thought anything of it to wake up to eggs or muffins on a weekday.  The above wasn’t making breakfast, this was popping open a tube and sticking overly sweet pre-made discs of dough in the oven.  I’ve been pleased with how I’ve forced myself to relax over the past several years; not everything has to be from scratch, the world doesn’t end and I’m less stressed if I’m busy or my back is hurting so I buy leaves already trimmed and washed in a bag for salad.  (Still make my own dressings, that bottled stuff should be banned.)

For Art Child to look at those biscuits and think we were either celebrating or there was a state test she forgot about…let’s just say it made me take a closer look at myself, in a broader sense than in the kitchen. Have I relaxed and adapted or have my standards dropped?

Both. Yes, it’s good to relax, not put so much pressure on myself. Some of this “relaxing” is due to enforced lessons of hurry-up-and-wait, both in the world of writing and in the world of medical needs parenting.  Wait for responses, call-backs, appointments with specialologists scheduled six months out, test results, watch and see how things develop.  As a parent in the specialized medical world, generally bad news comes fast and good news comes slow. As a wanna-be writer, it’s the opposite. Again, these are generalizations, there are exceptions both ways. In either world that bad news feels like a sucker punch, even if you’re sure it’s coming. And in both worlds, sometimes the ball gets dropped, and you don’t hear news until months after you could/should have. Either way, you learn that most things are not the emergency they feel like in your own mind.

And yes, my standards have dropped. I think it’s been necessary for my sanity. When I first began writing and sending queries, it was done through snail mail with SASEs. It often took a long time to get a response, but 99% of the time, you got one. I took long breaks, lots of gaps in my efforts to write and submit queries. The next time I was querying, most were done through email, and more agents were straightforward that if they weren’t interested, they wouldn’t respond. Ugh! For a little while.  Then I got used to it. I had to. It’s like sending in a job application, right? If they’re interested, they’ll contact you, if not they won’t.  Put into that perspective, it makes sense–though it’s still absolutely appreciated to get a response, positive or negative.  Lowered standards or preserving sanity, call it what you will. If they requested a full, you were pretty much guaranteed a personalized response.

Now?  Even on a request, people are now seeing bare bones form rejections, the same as on a query. This latest go-round I saw agents who don’t respond at all even to requested material. I have a hard time with this one. Requested means you sent a query and opening pages, they (or their intern) liked it enough to send you a note and ask for the full manuscript. I checked with other wanna-bees to try and read the coffee grounds between the non-existent lines, and it isn’t just me. A request for a full doesn’t mean anymore than what it is, so don’t start practicing your acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in literature, you crazy-overactive-imagination-writer, you.  And yes, I know I shouldn’t be saying this out loud, let alone posting it on my blog, the internet is forever, some magical publisher or agent in the future could come across this and say hey! I was going to make Mrs Fringe an offer, but now I won’t. Obviously she’s whiny and difficult, a gnat of a wanna-be. How dare she try to hold on to any standards, think she deserves a little courtesy of a response?

I don’t mean to be difficult, though I’m fully aware that I’m whining. In many ways I’ve been lucky, received a fair share of requests, and gotten many lovely responses, personalized and complimentary. No one has ever told me my writing sucks and I should go submerge my head in my tank, stick to writing grocery lists. Thank God, because I am the worst shopping list writer on the Upper West side–three chicken scratches on the back of an old appointment card, and walk out of the store with $200 transformed into three environmentally friendly reusable bags.

I decided it’s time to slow my slipping standards, so I went to the Farmer’s Market the other day.


Saw mushrooms that looked like they belonged in the art fair.

Passed on these.

Passed on these.

Made a wish on a particularly resilient dandelion

These things really do spring up everywhere.

These things really do spring up everywhere.

Said a little prayer

IMG_3977And set about making a fresh baked breakfast of rhubarb muffins.

I can still chop, if uneven.

I can still chop, if uneven.

Oops, no sour cream.  Ok, not dropping standards, adapting with greek yogurt.

Works out the same

Works out the same


Fold the rhubarb in gently, Mrs Fringe!

Fold the rhubarb in gently, Mrs Fringe!

And then I couldn’t find one normal muffin pan. I found my teeny mini muffin pan, too small for those rhubarb pieces, and too annoying with such a thick batter. I found my muffin top pan, too shallow for the rhubarb. I found tart pans, springform pans, pie plates, and cookie sheets. No muffin pans.

Give up those expectations, and adapt.

Can I interest you in a slice of rhubarb bread?

Can I interest you in a slice of standard dropping rhubarb bread?




Irrelevance: Evolution on the Fringe


The other day I received an email from a friend that was so en pointe it was a bit frightening.  Why? Because she used the word I’ve been thinking (feeling?), but afraid to say out loud–or on paper,–irrelevant.  Sure, the thought has crystalized in reference to my fiction, but as important as writing has always been to my sense of me, it is only one part. I was thinking it walking dogs, thinking it more these past weeks as I’ve been unable to walk. Thinking it as I speak with my kiddos, as there are fewer issues that I can actually help them with.  (Mom, you can’t help, you never took calculus.) Thinking about it as Man Child approaches his college graduation.

Besides the obvious pride and general the world-is-waiting-for-you momstuff, I’ve also been excited about his graduation because one of my feminist heroes will be speaking, and I wondered if I might have a chance to meet her and say hello.  Then I thought, what would I actually say?  “Thank you for being brave and paving the way. Thank you for remaining active and relevant so young women can see the possibilities of who they can be.”

And if that imaginary conversation moment occurred, then what?  “Who me?  No one.”  Not the representation of possibilities, but the caricature of women of a certain age, right down to the busted pelvis from a simple slip on the ice. Irrelevant.

No, hon, I never took calculus.  In fact, when I graduated from high school, my father commented on his surprise, they didn’t think I’d do it.  He wasn’t being snide, it was just a fact. My school experiences left me at a bit of a loss dealing with my children’s school experiences.  I never wanted to make a big deal about grades, I was afraid they would interpret it to mean that was all I cared about.  Now I’m afraid they think I don’t care about their efforts. I try, and tried, to stress learning, and school as a tool for a better life. I don’t think I’ve been as successful as I hoped, but no doubt my boys are in a much better position than I was at their ages.  I want Art Child to continue finding success through her art.  I want them to have enough, to feel they are enough.  I hope none of them will feel irrelevant when they’re forty thousand years old.

No one is ever going to confuse me with Hillary Clinton or Sandra Sotomayor; Arianna Huffington or Maya Angelou. Why do I even want to meet this woman at Man Child’s graduation, when I have nothing to offer? No degrees, no pedigrees, no byline or book jacket or contract. I’m a reefer who’s never been snorkeling or scuba diving, a self-proclaimed feminist without a career. Ridiculous. Then I remembered.  This isn’t new.  Mrs Fringe, a peripheral life.  There’s a reason I don’t blog as Ms Important. I thought about my first post, almost three years ago.  My space to be me, not “just” a mom, and not “just” someone trying to get published, either. The blog has evolved, I have evolved–hell, we even got that three bedroom apartment–but I am who I am, and life is what it is.

Regardless of how much Virginia Woolf I read I don’t have a room of my own, but I now have a desk, something I didn’t think was possible a few years ago.  From it I see my beautiful reef, where I watch the interactions of all the critters, and remember how important even the simplest ones are to maintain the balance of the system as a whole.  I’m not writing the Great American Novel, calculating royalties, or reading fan mail when I sit at this desk, I work on the occasional story and post some silliness or a rant here on the blog.  Sometimes, just when I’m devolving into thoughts about my lack of success, moaning about not knowing the best way to encourage my kids, and ready to break out a tape measure to torture myself with how much I’ve sagged; I get a note from someone out there in cyberland, telling me one of my posts resonated with them, or made them laugh.  That is pretty excellent, and fucking relevant.

Turbo snail eating algae off the glass.

Turbo snail eating algae off the glass.

Cleaning the sand under the plate coral.

An unlikely pair, but the turbo and the plate coral stayed snuggled together for two days.

(Wo)Man Makes Plans

and God laughs.  That’s the expression, right?  I’m making plans anyway.  Well, I’m thinking about making plans, and we’ll see what happens.  There’s only so many days I can walk around sniveling before I can’t stand myself anymore.

Even Little Incredibly Dumb Dog looks bummed, and she truly is too dumb to be depressed.  ;)

Even Little Incredibly Dumb Dog looks bummed, and she truly is too dumb to be depressed. 😉

Several years ago it occurred to me that people need stuff to look forward to.  This is a problem when you’re stuck in the endless grind of life on the Fringe.  I came home from taking Flower Child to school yesterday morning to find that Big Senile Dog had gone out to the terrace while I was gone–my fault, I shouldn’t have left that door open–and torn into a bag of garbage that was left out there.  Yanno, so they wouldn’t make a mess while I was out.  Once upon a time he would have eaten everything in there, pistachio shells, tea leaves, and coffee grounds, while Little Incredibly Dumb Dog took care of the tissues and tea bags.  She did eat all of the paper stuff, but.  By now even he knows he can’t eat that stuff, so instead, all that crud was ground into and under the rubber flooring stuff I have down to protect the concrete.  Fantastic.

No shame.

No shame.

There I was, thinking about nothing to look forward to and how many years it’s been since I really had a day off.  If you’re curious, it’s almost 19 years.  Man Child will be 21 in a couple of weeks.  Husband and I went to Aruba for a long weekend when MC was 2.  21 years since I had a day off *to myself.*  And then I was thinking about submissions, querying, and Astonishing.  The unpredictable nature of this business I’m trying to get myself into.  Well, what can I realistically do about all of this?  What is/can be within my control?  Two plans conceived.

First, today is a #MSWL day on twitter.  That’s when certain agents and editors post their “manuscript wish lists” under the hashtag MSWL, tweeting what they’d like to see come across their desks.  I’m watching, in hopes of seeing magical realism, literary fiction, dark lit fic…anything that would reasonably seem like a potential match for Astonishing, and then I will query those agents.  I hope.  A lot of the agents expected to participate seem to be more focused on Young Adult, Middle Grade, New Adult, but I’m watching.  The best part of this is no twitter pitching.  I suck at Twitter.  Seriously, I can’t quite get the hang of it.  I’d blame my age, but that’s a blatant lie.  Plenty of people my age and older who are twitter-savvy.

Second, I decided I’m going to go away for a couple of days when Big Senile Dog dies.  By myself.  No, his death isn’t imminent, but he is elderly and going.  Could be a month, six months, two years, but it gives me something to look forward to and a chance to save my pennies.  No, I can’t do this before he dies.  The logistics of getting him and Little Incredibly Dumb Dog walked and taken care of, Flower Child taken care of, too much/too expensive.  I mentioned this to Husband last night, I think he was horrified by my cold and calculated look at the future.  The big non-secret is that he adores this dog he didn’t want more than any of us.  Not enough to walk him, but adores him nonetheless.

For today, I’m going to watch the Twitter feed and create a playlist for my little eventual trip.  That’s the plan, anyway.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Let’s Make a Deal

Publicity photo of Carol Merrill, Monty Hall a...

Publicity photo of Carol Merrill, Monty Hall and Jay Stewart from the television program Let’s Make a Deal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You don’t call me a Feminazi, and I won’t call you a misogynistic asshole, okay?

If you absolutely can’t give up the term, just know you’re aligning yourself with Rush Limbaugh.  I’m not certain that he is the originator of the term, but he is the one who popularized it in the ’90’s.  I know, I know,  you’re really in favor of equality, might even be someone who self-identifies as liberal, it’s just “those women” who you’re referring to.  I understand, it’s only the emasculating ones;  who have the audacity to want equal pay, respect, control over their bodies, and access to quality, affordable childcare.   The right to not be strip searched and molested on the side of a highway.  The right to not be under continual assault for appearance, or choices in love, work,  or dress.

Lest I be accused of a man bashing post, let me stop and be clear.  I’m also speaking to women who use this term.  I know, I know, there’s nothing wrong with being a woman who embraces being a woman, meets Daddy at the door with a martini and a smile, ready to make that deal…blow job and meatloaf in exchange for an allowance.  Because,  yanno, if you’re an at home mom, taking care of the house and children isn’t really work.  And if you work outside the home, you’re still the one primarily responsible for the house and children.  Because, yanno, wimmenz work.  What?  That isn’t what you meant?

I wonder what you did mean, then.  You, a modern American woman.  Perhaps you don’t enjoy the right to own property, a right secured by earlier generations of feminists.  How about the right to not be property? Or the right to vote. That must be it.  Maybe you should share that info with the other women in the world who are still trying to secure those rights.  Or the right to call the police if you’re assaulted, regardless of what length your skirt was, or if your assailant was your husband, your father, brother, or uncle.

I have a daughter, I’d like her to be safe.  I have two sons, I’d like them to be safe.  Silly me, I’d like to be safe.  No one should have to live within a “rape culture,” yet we still do.  Tremendous strides have been made, but no, it isn’t finished.  Our society is a work in progress, and will be until every individual’s humanity is recognized and respected.

Feminazi.  Really?  Fighting for women’s rights is on par with the slaughter of sixteen million people.  How silly of me not to make the connection myself.

Sorry Fringelings.  This rant was brought to you by some disturbing comments  seen on Facebook today.  Not on my page, so I didn’t want to rant there.  Now Mrs Fringe will go back to her thoroughly subversive, militant feminist crochet work.

Tangled up in Blue

Tangled up in Blue (Photo credit: chickeninthewoods)


Venecian Masks

Venecian Masks (Photo credit: ChaTo (Carlos Castillo))

This morning I made Flower Child scrambled eggs for breakfast.  She thought it was her lucky day.  Nope, I didn’t get to the grocery store yesterday morning, and that’s all I’ve got.  The last two slices of bread are for her lunch.  I would have made a smoothie, but there’s brown crap running from the faucet this morning, and the blender is still sitting in the sink waiting to be washed from Nerd Child’s smoothie yesterday morning.  This also means I didn’t want to make another bowl dirty by beating the eggs first.  What the hell, mixing them in the pan with the spatula is the same thing, right?

Fake it ’til you make it.  Kinda sorta.

My motto is probably more along the lines of  fake it ’til it’s bedtime.  Out of standard, practical for a school day breakfast fare?  Scrambled eggs.  Haven’t done laundry?  Wear dress clothes.  “Oh, Mrs Fringe, look at you!  Doing something fun/special/important today?”  Why yes, yes I am.  Pretending I haven’t worn every last t-shirt I own.  Except for that Dallas Cowboys one circa 1981 with very inappropriate holes worn through it, that for some reason I never toss when getting rid of old clothes.

Feel like crap?  Makeup.  Double crap, can’t remember where I last put my makeup bag.

Gained some weight over the winter and too lazy to work out?  God bless the designer who decided empire waists should come back into style (five years ago is too still in), along with seamstresses of flowing skirts and A-lines.


Housewife (Photo credit: garryknight)

Doubting that you’ve pulled off or can pull off a fun, light beach read type novel, cause let’s face it, you aren’t all that fun and lighthearted?  Keep going, start the next one, only have this one be dark, not fun, and not likely to be spotted on the boardwalk.  Wait, this doesn’t quite fit with the equation, does it?  Hmm, well, at least I’ll have a writah-ly-type excuse when this one doesn’t sell.  Angst isn’t for everyone, after all.

Given that I’m so fucking excellent at faking it, I can’t imagine why I haven’t yet made it.

And, Have an Orgasm!

Atomic Housewife. 19/52

Atomic Housewife. 19/52 (Photo credit: Sarahnaut)

Does anyone else know/remember that old joke, poking fun at Women’s Lib? Something like this: Before women’s lib, a woman would get up, make coffee and breakfast for husband and children, make lunches for them to take with them, iron, see them off, clean the house, do laundry, grocery shop, make dinner, supervise homework, feed everyone dinner, kids off to bed, sex with husband. After women’s lib, a woman has to get up, make coffee and breakfast for husband and children, make lunches for them to take with them, iron, see them off, go out to work, come home and clean the house, do laundry, grocery shop, make dinner, supervise homework, feed everyone dinner, kids off to bed, sex with husband, AND have an orgasm.

Mmm hmm, very liberating indeed.

Is life better for the average woman than it used to be? I think so.  There are more choices, more acknowledgement of compromises–hey, I can now be a feminist and still shave my underarms.

Underarm Hair

Underarm Hair (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are women who choose not to have children, women who choose to have children and stay home, women who choose not to define themselves by their marital or maternal status at all.  Still far from true social justice, because these choices aren’t accepted without question, but analyzed, judged, and whispered about. Being a woman who is a mom, I’m going to focus on that choice.

I don’t know who first coined the term Supermom, or exactly how long it’s been around, but I think it’s fair to say easily 20 years.  Conservatively, 20 years. Twenty years of cartoons, jokes, analyzing, and disclaimers.  We know better. Supermom is bullshit. Every bit the work of fiction that Superman is.  So how come we’re still weighing ourselves against this curvy little lie?

No one human being can fill all roles, be all things to all people. Not even the little people we bring into our lives, or the one person we vow to stay with forever (whether or not forever ends after 7 years or 37). We all wear many hats, juggle different roles and obligations–true for men as well as women.  But somehow, we women expect and are often expected to do just that.  Especially those of us who have limited budgets, so hiring others to take care of some of those roles isn’t an option.

Even little things.  Like unexpected company. I am not a fabulous housekeeper.  I’d like to be, but ultimately, once we get beyond the basics of a reasonably clean bathroom and kitchen, it just isn’t that high on my list of priorities.  We’re in a small space.  There just isn’t a place for everything. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to do some extra cleaning and organizing if company is coming. I don’t like surprise guests for this reason.  What does this have to do with feminism and supermoms? Well, let’s face it, no one is going to leave my messy apartment and whisper to her girlfriend, “Wow, that Husband is a pig.  When was the last time he dusted?” No, the judgement would be more like, “Ugh, did you see that laundry hamper? I wonder when Mrs Fringe last found her way to the laundry room.”

If a mother works outside the home, somehow she’s still magically supposed to take care of all the hearth and home stuff, and be awake, alert, competent, and presentable on the job.  And her kids are never supposed to get sick, or have any other needs that would involve taking time off. If a mother is a SAHM, she isn’t supposed to just take care of hearth and home, she had better be Supermom squared, to compensate for her lack of brain cells…err…value…err…income. She’s supposed to do it all perfectly, naturally, organic dinners that are gastronomic delights to children and adults alike, sandwiches on bread baked that morning, tastefully decorated home, never a stray sock left behind on laundry day, homemade and prizewinning Halloween costumes, and of course, oodles of time to volunteer at the children’s schools.  Because, yanno, if you’re a SAHM, what do you do all day?  You must be bored. *Do not confuse intellectual boredom with free time* Only, if you are bored, don’t ever say it out loud, because well, you could get a job and really do something. Never mind the mind numbing fatigue, and the fact you spend every single day being looked down upon and devalued, and there’s no such thing as a day off or quitting time.

So no, I’m not Supermom, and I don’t know one woman who is.  Those who come closest are those whose annual income allows for quality, long term nannies/babysitters, full time housekeepers, and spouses who are also big earners and highly educated–socially progressive. We all know this, all make fun of the term, we judge ourselves and judge each other–but we all still beat ourselves up for not being this fictional character.

Delany wrote issue#203 of Wonder Woman, the wo...

Delany wrote issue#203 of Wonder Woman, the women’s lib issue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)