Two Crashes

April 30th, 2010

Two important things happened this week in the way of “getting back on the horse.” Horses.


We rode our bike again.

I have a great kid-seat on our bike, and I started taking Vibble for rides in bicycle-friendly Santa Monica at about 6 mos. old. When she was a year-ish, we had an accident. It was actually pretty hard to talk about, and I hadn’t been on the bike since, but here’s what happened that day:

I put Vibble in her seat in the garage and mounted the bike. It was very dark in the garage. I rode out into the extremely bright sunlight and was momentarily blinded, and in that moment, I misjudged the location of a pretty high curb in front of our building. We toppled over the curb into the busy street. The first thing to hit the road was my knee (after months of physical therapy, it’s kind of ok now, heh). Second thing was my arm. Third, my precious kid’s helmet. As in, her head, on 26th Street. Cars whooshing by within centimeters.

She was fine within, I would say, 45 seconds. The helmet did its job, and I limped over to the front steps and held her, and she was smiling and laughing in no time.

I was not fine. Aside from my physical injuries, I had just come a little too close to Bad Things. I shook and sobbed, and while the sobbing eventually abated (after hours), the shaking lasted almost three days. And we didn’t ride the bike again, I couldn’t.

The other person who was not fine—perhaps the person least fine—was Stevel. This was a family bike ride, so he was on our other bike behind me, and witnessed the whole thing. I think for him, watching Violet’s tiny helmetted head hit the street was the very thing his anxiety is constantly assuming might happen: Complete horror. He still doesn’t understand how I drove that bike so that it went over sideways into the street.

I don’t need to tell you how awful this all was. We sort of agreed I wouldn’t blog about it, and that wasn’t going to be a problem, since I could barely choke out a one-sentence version of what had happened to tell the doctor when I went in about my knee. But I’ve since told the story to friends and family, and I wanted to record it here and report that we got back on that bike this week. I knew I needed to do it. It was a trembly ride for me, but by the end, I’d hit my stride again, and OH MAN, does this kid love to ride. Holy crap. She chattered the entire way to the library. Twice, drivers got honked at from behind, because a light turned green and they were still talking to Violet: “Look at you! Goin’ for a BIKE RIDE? You like your bike?”

It was all very smooth from her perspective, I think. She was enthusiastic about getting in the seat—she clearly remembered and was eager to ride. She had a new helmet (I was told after any accident you should replace the helmet), which she has since put on in the house a few times and worn around, as if to say, ‘When are we going on that bike again, Mom?’

Soon, Vibble, and often.


The other horse I will abbreviate, as it is still kind of fresh in my mind (and the bruises are still green).

I had some things mounted in the kitchen, a tiny cabinet up high with our liquor in it being the highest, screwed in as instructed to the thick wood (actually, it’s double-cabinet thickness) side of the cupboard bank over the sink. It was on there good and sound, trust me. BUT then I mounted a Can Crusher on the side of it and proceeded to release all of my frustrations on Diet Pepsi cans, with the force of all of this going into the side of the cabinet and rocking it slightly on its screws. I knew this was a bad idea. KNEW. And yet …

So one day I’m crushin’ some cans, and BA-BOOM!!!!!!!! The cabinet comes OFF the wall, on its way down taking out a nearby wine rack, the medicine cabinet that serves as Vibble’s play kitchen fridge, a piece of the cupboard, some chunks of the floor, and oh, a little bit of my leg.

Fortunate thing of fortunate things: Vibble is not playing in her kitchen, although she is pretty eager to get into the middle of the mess, and Dad has to keep her from trudging through glass and wine and booze and fractured wood and Diet Pepsi cans and laughing-weeping Mom (I felt momentarily insane).

OK, so back on the horse: This week, I had a professional handyman come in to do some things in the house, and I had HIM re-hang all of these things—liquor cabinet, wine rack, kid-fridge, Can Crusher (in a new spot, of course). He put billions of heavy duty screws into everything. I don’t know if you could get these things down with a sledgehammer. He also mounted some other things onto walls where I had been considering hanging them myself. His instructions were: “On there good enough so if she hangs off of it, it’s not coming down.”

The lesson here is, Kristan and her cordless drill: Too ambitious. I wouldn’t say this was a “close call,” since it was clearly the can crushing that caused the disaster, and I never crushed cans while Violet was in the kitchen. It made me RIGHTLY nervous to have her anywhere near that action. But what if … ?

OK, put the helmet back on, Vibb, if you’re going into the rooms where Mom has screwed random cabinetry into the walls herself.

That wasn’t as abbreviated as promised, sorry. And yes, both of these fallen-off-horses were my fault. I blew it. I’m learning from it, still.


And now I need to try and get myself back to sleep. I’ve got some awesome friends coming into town today, and I want to be ready to PLAY! Bridgey comes in around 3, and Cindy around 10, and with Cindy coming I’m thinking we will likely grocery shop right away, since I don’t know the first thing about buying bacon. Or foie gras.


April 27th, 2010

It’s 4 a.m. I’ve been having a lot of trouble sleeping lately (last couple of months). The reasons are these:

1. I drink too much Diet Pepsi.
2. I drink too much Diet Pepsi.
3. I drink too much Diet Pepsi.

I know I need to kick the caffeine. Here’s how I know:

1. I have sleep issues.
2. My use of it has escalated dramatically over time.
3. When I run low on cans, I start to panic. “I need to go to the grocery store,” I find myself saying out loud over and over, to no one and everyone.
4. I bought a Can Crusher. I was convinced I needed this.
5. I used the Can Crusher so hard it fell off the wall, taking casualties with it and hurting my leg.

I’ve had much advice for how to best kick this habit—go cold turkey, hydrate, switch to green tea or some other substance. Not to defend it too much, but I’ll say this habit is at least legal and fairly inexpensive. Also, it’s delicious. I WILL kick it, but possibly not for another year or two. My problems are these:

1. Vibble is two.
2. Vibble is two.
3. Vibble is—”Oh my God, Kid, slow [yawn] DOWN!”—twooooo.

I can’t keep up with her with my own allotted human energy power. I try from time to time and barely make it through the morning without crashing.

Among the awful effects on my life and body of a steady intake of Diet Pepsi are frequent awakenings at 3 and 4 in the morning. Although this one—today—I can blame on another cause of sleeplessness, too: The sky is a weird color. It’s sort of smoothie-coral and foggily lit. When you grow up in places where the telephone poles are mounted with tornado sirens, a weird-colored sky makes your hackles stand on edge. You get to be like a cow before rain: You can sense things no matter what’s going on, like if you’re sleeping, and the sky is a big smoothie, you wake up feeling like, ‘Something’s not right.’ I wrote a poem once about living in a tornado-place. It’s not a great poem, I never revised it, but let me see if I can find it … OK, here it is:


From the year I was five, I remember these things:

The day I cut my own hair with my art-scissors
and hid under the bed until I was found out

The tree-fort into which Robert Pirrahni and Johnny Ham
did not allow girls

Hot air balloons—too many to count—
landing in the park up the street

The terrible howl of the tornado-warning alarm in our subdivision

A storm with tornadoes makes the colors all wrong. The sky goes green and then orange. It is very quiet.

During a tornado, you are supposed to move to the center of the house.

The center of our house was the coat closet. Whenever the alarm sounded, I ran to it and did not come out for a long time. Hours. I squeezed between my father’s snow-boots and a box of mittens. My mother’s dark wool coat hung around my face. If the tornado should come, I

would not have to know.

Dad Reads a Bedtime Story

April 18th, 2010

Stevel [to Violet]: “What’s this book you’re bringing me?”

Me: “She’s bringing it to you because I didn’t want to read it.”

Stevel: “I don’t want to read it, either. I don’t know much about this Strawberry Shortcut.”

Me: “Cake. Strawberry Shortcake.”

Stevel: “I said I didn’t know much about her … OK, here we go … Strawberry Shortcake Plays Soccer … ‘Strawberry! You’re late! You promised you would practice soccer drills with me today,’ Huck said. ‘I’m sorry, Huck,’ said Strawberry Shortcake, ‘But as I was walking through Cookie Corners I met Ginger Snap. And then Angel Cake joined us at Cakewalk. And in Orange Blossom Acres we picked up Orange Blossom—’”

Stevel: “These sound like porn star names.”

Me: “You’re right, they do.”

[From here, Stevel continued on with the story, until page 12, when ...]

Stevel [reading]: “‘Okay, enough jogging,’ Huck decided, coming to a sudden stop. Strawberry Shortcake ran right into him. Huck fell, and Strawberry landed on top of him. Angel Cake landed on Strawberry. Ginger Snap topped off the group. ‘Let’s practice some passes,’ came Huck’s muffled voice—”

Stevel: “Oh my.”

Me: “It is a porno!”

Stevel: “Shh. [continuing to read] “Strawberry practiced a throw-in from the sidelines …”

[And this dedicated dad carried on with the story. But even Stevel had to admit when Honey Pie Pony showed up on page 18 with Custard and Pupcake that this soccer match had gotten TOO WEIRD. So we decided to put the Strawberry Shortcake Storybook Collection away until Violet is a little "older."]

What I Realized Today

April 15th, 2010

I keep thinking as this kid gets older, it’s going to get easier to understand what she needs from me. Already we’ve gone from random screaming, to more specific screaming, to tantrums aimed at clearly defined goals, to where we are now—she actually tells me what she wants a lot of the time (this may involve saying over and over, “Eggs,” or it might entail her bringing me the box of eggs from the fridge, message clear either way). So I keep imagining a future where she simply states her needs. Ah, the mysteries solved! The confusion dispelled!

But I realized that’s not reality at all. Sure, she’ll be able to place her specific order/request with me—”Nonfat Decaf-Capp with Splenda, please, Mom”—but the truth is, it only gets harder to know what a kid needs. Harder and harder. I think about my niece, Erica, who just turned 11. Some of what she needs, she tells her parents. Some of it is obvious—an 11-year-old certainly needs love, attention, and plenty of Hannah Montana T-shirts. Duh! But increasingly, Erica’s emotional needs from her family are mysterious and extremely unique. What does this 11-year-old need from her mom and dad? I’m sure they’re trying to figure that out all the time, and it’s a moving target. And it’s not going to get easier …

Someday she’ll be 34. What does a 34-year-old need from her parents? If you’re lucky, she’s had some therapy and can try and articulate it, but that doesn’t mean it will make sense all the time. How much space does she need, versus how close at hand does she need to feel her parents are, emotionally, physically? Where does she need her parents to be in terms of the dynamic with her husband and with her own kids? I can’t even answer that really. But I know there’s no box of eggs I can present to explain it.

Yep, that part of this job is only going to get harder. I think I’m up to the task. Thanks to all of my own parents for taking it on for so long.

Two, at the Zoo

April 14th, 2010

We two went to the L.A. Zoo today, and what fun. Not that we saw very many animals. We spent a lot of time at each exhibit, though—and by exhibit, I mean bench, sewer grate, or crack in the sidewalk. That’s not to say we didn’t spend some time in the company of the animals. Almost half an hour in front of some kind of grassland antelope, more than half an hour in the chimp area—but in all of these cases, the draw was much less the animals themselves than the infrastructure and exhibit surroundings. Vibble just totally loved this place. I let her explore at her pace, following behind her with the stroller and leaving the decisions about where we would go next almost entirely to her. She was in heaven.

When she did notice an animal, Vibble would exclaim, “Doggie!” I’d say something like, “Look, Vibb, a chimp. That’s a chimp.” And she would reply, “Doggie!”

I think her favorite part of the day, judging by the width of her smiles, was when she found a little girl in a sitting area who had time on her hands because her mother was nursing her baby brother. Violet and this little girl had a squealy leaf battle that went on and on and on.

We bought a membership on our way out. Now, here are some photos

On the List of Things I Shouldn’t Have to Say/Explain

April 9th, 2010

“I’m sorry, but you can’t go to the grocery store in nothing but your tutu.”

Lopped Locks

April 8th, 2010

Vibble had her first “real” haircut today. Sat on my lap in the hairdresser’s chair and watched Elmo contentedly. Hairdresser made it all one length not too far under the chin. ‘Cause that mullet wasn’t going to go away on its own.

Some photos post-haircut