Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pandora's Mailbox

I've been really sad to hear about the woes of the Postal Service (the actual government agency, not the electropop band that I gave to Jeff on a mix tape before I learned that he hated them with a burning passion he normally reserves for Billy Joel--who, for the record, I also heart, but I'm really digressing here and I need to end these parentheses, so, fin.)

But yeah, I actually love getting mail. Kind of psychotically. I watch Blue's Clues like 500 times a day now, and I'm not lying when I say that I can really relate to the mail song that the main eunuch character, Steve, performs every episode:

I don't even really care if I get any, I just like checking it, because something about opening the mailbox holds such promise. (This could also be related to the fact that I currently rely on freelance checks, which arrive totally unpredictably. Fun for my mail fetish, sad for my checking account balance! Sad trombone noise, which I hope makes TD Bank feel sorry for me and refund those overdraft fees.) I legit get depressed if I get excited to check the mail and it turns out to be a federal holiday, so this no-mail-on-Saturdays business is bumming me out.

Not that I don't understand, of course. Because regardless of their Santa-like job, the USPS kind of sucks. And anyone who has waited in line at a New York City post office can attest to this.

Some of you small-town folk might have wonderful, Andy Griffith-style post offices with cheery staff and short lines (I have actually witnessed this, in Block Island, Rhode Island, and I kept looking around for Rod Serling, that's how freaky it was), but here in New York it is bleak.

First of all, there is always a line at least 12 people deep. And there are always at least four people visibly working behind the bullet-proof glass. BUT HERE'S WHERE IT GETS CRAZY: Without fail, two of them are not servicing customers.

Now, in my opinion, the bullet-proof glass wouldn't be necessary if anyone not actually working at a service window, oh, I don't know, worked somewhere other than right in the fucking window. But I'm no expert.

Which leads me to the next fundamental problem with the post office:

At any given moment, 99% of the people in front of you in line... have never used a post office before. In fact, I'd wager that at least 50% of them have no idea what it's even for.

I know this because every single person who waits in line at the post office takes at least 25 minutes at the window. I like to imagine that the conversations go something like this:
Patron: Excuse me, where am I?
Postal Worker: [Shrugs]
Patron: Is this a store?
Postal Worker: Kind of.
Patron: What do you sell?
PW: We box up your stuff and send it somewhere else. Also we sell money orders.
Patron: What is a money order?
PW: I have no idea. It involves a lot of paperwork and me disappearing at least four times.
Patron: Well, I definitely want one of those then. Now tell me more about the other stuff.
PW: Do you want to mail a package?
Patron: Maybe. What can I mail?
PW: Anything except explosives and booze.
Patron: Can I mail my left shoe? That's all I really have.
PW: Sure.
Patron: OK, what do I need?
PW: A box, for starters.
Patron: I'll take it!
PW: What size?
Patron: Whichever one is least appropriate for the dimensions of the contents.
PW: Great. Do you want packing tape, too?
Patron: Oh, no, I'm going to go over in the corner and stick it together with gum and affix a few Delivery Confirmation forms for good measure, which I'll fill out incorrectly.
PW: Super. OK, your total is $8.75, just sign here and--
Patron: Where? You'll have to guide my hand, I'm legally blind.
PW: No problemo. Now you go box up your package and when you're done come right back here and elbow whoever is at my window out of the way. Then we're going to repeat this entire scene. 
During this exchange, I think bad thoughts and work on my telekinetic powers, which I will someday use to remove the "closed" but still right in fucking front of us window workers from their seats, ejector-style.

This is why I like to stay home and eagerly wait for the mailman. Actually visiting a post office completely kills the romance.

[Jeff: "Like Billy Joel."]

[Me: "NOT like Billy Joel. Like Steve from Blue's Clues. He's wears pleat-front khakis."]

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Shitty BlackBerry Photos: In Memoriam

Soooooo, my last post went a little bit viral. Look, I'm not kidding myself, it wasn't on a par with the "Forever" wedding dance or even most mediocre YouTube cat videos, but for me it was a big deal. Friends of friends were posting links to it on Facebook that I saw in my feed, so I finally understand what Bruno Kirby was feeling in When Harry Met Sally when Carrie Fisher quoted him back to himself. And it was pretty sweet.

But now I have some new readers (Hello, friends! Stay awhile. Sit a spell. Pour yourself a mug of wine and get me up to speed on The Rachel Zoe Project), and so the pressure is on. I've gotten used to you stalwarts putting up with my once-a-week posts and general lack of shit-giving, and now I have to impress people who don't really know me yet, and who might not find it endearing that I sometimes wear bikini bottoms as underpants. I mean, metaphorically.

Another thing that happened this weekend, on the very same day that my perfect parenting post went up on HuffPo, was that my BlackBerry Curve, after years of acute dementia and intermittent comas, finally passed on. (I am now the proud owner of an iPhone that I immediately festooned with a Pee Wee Herman case and then promptly dropped.)

Anyway. Since I know this post is bound to disappoint, and to honor my fallen phone, I'm making this the second and final installment of my Shitty BlackBerry Photo series. Worst case scenario, you all stop reading (but joke's on you, I have Yahtzee on my iPhone, which will keep me plenty busy); best case scenario, I ride my 15 minutes and donate a few of these babies to the Met's permanent collection:

1. "Tiny Liza Minnelli Goes Street Camping"

"Hold my calls."
2. "Angsty Self-Portrait That Made Me Realize My Nose Looks Like a Penis From Low Angles"

3. "Pancake I Made That REALLY Looks Like a Penis, Which I Swear Started Out as Something Benign, I Just Can't Remember What"

Either way I think it needs some medical attention. I'm no doctor but that looks like elephantiasis of the testes to me.
4. "Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Bondage I Learned in Kindergarten"

No one thought this title was a bad idea?
5. "A Seinfeld Joke, Coors? Really? That is a Deep Cut, Dudes."

It makes me happy, though, to think about a bunch of Coors can-swilling barflies waxing nostalgic about Elaine's terrible dancing.
6. "The Unmitigated Joy of the Extra-Large Target Shopping Cart"

No expensive museum membership or toy has ever made him this happy.
Goodbye, BlackBerry. Your camera was the worst and you gave my thumbs something called "washerwoman's sprain," but otherwise you served me well.

And hello, new friends. I'm not always this lazy. Just mostly. Get excited.

Friday, March 15, 2013

How to Be a Perfect Parent in 5 Easy Steps, or Probably Never

You'll notice I don't dole out much parenting advice on the blog. That's because I have an almost eighteen month-old and spend most of my days feeling like a complete and utter fraud and failure.

Behold my tiny violin, which plays only Night Ranger ballads.
I know that sounds depressing, but here is the truth that will set you free: that's what parenting is. I know there are loads of people out there writing books and articles and essays and blog posts about how to get your baby to sleep through the night at 8 weeks, or use a potty by a year, or signal for more macaroni in morse code, and all of them make it seem easy, and like you're an asshole for not pulling up your sweatpants and wiping away your tears and just doing it already. "This is the secret to getting your baby to _________," these self-anointed experts scoff down their noses. And I'm like, no, bitch, that's the secret to getting YOUR baby to ________. It's the same old shit that Cosmo tried to sell us when we were fifteen, about how all guys just LOVE a nice scrunchie wrapped seductively around the... um... scrotal area (?). Let me tell you I have never once met a man who had a hair elastic fetish. Must have just been that one guy who was banging that Cosmo intern, and I can only imagine the undue pain, suffering, and confusion he caused his fellow men.

Don't be that guy.

So what are some non-patronizing* things I've learned?

*Unless you have more than one kid, in which case you are probably giving me the "talk to the hand" gesture right now, because in my brain it is forever 1994

1. You Are Always, ALWAYS Doing Something Wrong... So Stop Worrying About It

In case you DON'T know what you're doing wrong, here is a handy chart:

(Read it here if you can't enlarge.)

2. Sleep is an Evil Horcrux. Emphasis on the Whore.

There is literally nothing you will obsess about more in the first year of parenthood than your child's sleep patterns. You will read studies. You will make logs of night wakings only to find in the morning that you accidentally used a lo mein-encrusted chopstick and a DVD case to record this vital information. You will volunteer nap schedules--without prompting--to total strangers. You will study the floorboards in your house like a military operative searching for land mines in Afghanistan.

I can't stop you from doing this. However, I can tell you that no matter how your child sleeps and how you choose to address it, sleep will suck big scrunchie balls for the first year at least. If you DON'T sleep-train, it will suck because it's unpredictable and erratic, and you get kicked in the side of the head a lot. If you DO sleep-train, it will suck because you'll be sentenced to live out the same schedule day after day like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day only with less imminent death (and sleep-trained babies STILL have days/weeks/months of relapse). So chill. It sucks for everyone. You can't really fuck it up, because it is inherently fucked. Anyone who pretends they know what they're talking about is either lying or trying to sell a book, probably both.

3. Your Life Will Resemble a Michael Myers Movie More than a Nancy Meyers Movie

I don't know about you, but I pictured motherhood as a big ol' sappy rom-com full of growth chart montages and fun, photogenic family trips to the park and nap times (see above) spent typing away on my laptop with heretofore unheard of bursts of creativity. I don't even think I included "showered every day" or "didn't cry once for a whole half hour" in my fantasy, because those were givens in my rosy, perfect life, in which the kitchen would overflow with bowls of ripe organic fruits, and poop would never accidentally get on my blouse.

I hate to break it to you, but parenthood is basically the opposite of everything I just said. Of course there are plenty of amazing, beautiful, transformative moments--but those generally take place when you are on the toilet by yourself. The rest of it is messy, both physically and emotionally. You will survive it, but it will not always be pretty. THIS IS NORMAL.

4. It Pays to Treat Your Partner Like Doug E. Doug 

My relationship with Jeff was rock-solid before Sam came along. And then, I'm not going to lie, we took a detour into some dark Edward Albee territory. Suddenly all of the attention and patience and affection you saved for your partner is going to your baby, and things can get heated (in the unsexy way). I had to work hard to learn how to appreciate and nurture my relationship again. I think it helps to think of the two of you as Derice and Sanka from Cool Runnings. That's what I did, anyway. And just like the Jamaican bobsled team, I'm pretty sure we'll at least make it to the finish line.

5. "If Mama Ain't Happy Ain't Nobody Happy" Sounds Like a Tyler Perry Movie But Is Also Totally True

All of the organic, fair-trade, pasture-raised artisanal Play-Doh and 800-count recycled hemp crib sheets in the world won't matter if you as a parent don't feel at least reasonably happy and cared for. This means taking time--by force if necessary!--to eat, sleep, and do things that matter to you, whether that's work or crappy reality TV or a manicure or a spin class. If you find yourself flailing, and contemplating buying Brooke Shields' "Down Came the Rain" for Amazon overnight delivery, as I did, get help. See a therapist, get meds if necessary. Or just schedule a night out with friends when you can bitch about your problems and get tipsy and feel like a free person again. Whatever gets you to a better place. Your happiness matters. It matters just as much as your child's happiness, because your child's happiness depends on you. Everything depends on you. NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING, JESUS.

But seriously, if there's one thing I want you to take away from this, it's that in eighteen months I have only learned five things. And one of them is not how to stop sleeping in my jeans so often.

Don't say I never gave you an easy act to follow.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Say It Ain't Flo

Guess what I haven't done in over two years?

If you guessed "squats on purpose" or "gone to the dentist," you're also right but those aren't the answers I'm looking for.

I won't give you the explicit details of my imMENSE(s) milestone, since I'm a lady. Suffice to say my ovaries have awoken from their prolactin-induced paralysis, and my uterus thinks it's all cute, dancing around like, Woot! I can make babies again! while I make the sign of the cross and curse under my breath (not the usual combo, I know, but I like to mix it up). The good news, of course, is that the cramps make me fold in on myself and crumple to the floor, which means that about 50% of the time Sam misses my head with whatever blunt object he's throwing around the apartment.

Also, I counted, and it's been 777 days since my last (side note: someone please come up with an un-gross word that doesn't make me sound like I wear velvet pants and collect crystals) cycle. Isn't that like a slot machine jackpot?

I know, I know; I said "slot." Sigh. I bring this on myself.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Patronizing People, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nicole Richie's Braids

I was in a cab coming back from the airport on Friday night, watching the thirty second loop of stupid cab "news" on the TV screen because Jeff wasn't there to sigh heavily and turn it off (after traveling alone with a toddler for six days, you take the small victories) when I saw the following breaking news scrolling across the bottom of the screen:


Don't act coy with me, Nicole. I've seen The Simple Life.
[Record screech sound effect]

Hold the motherfucking phone, people.

(No, really, it was from People.) 

How can you tease me like that and not finish the fucking story? Especially when I've recently emerged from a hair shame spiral?

WHY? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?

Why does this not-currently-famous-for-anything-but-marrying-one-of-the-Madden-twins-I-can't-remember-which-one-anymore-the-one-who-looks-slightly-less-like-Uncle-Fester REALLY enjoy plaiting her hair? The newsflash wording makes it pretty clear this is no ordinary reason like "Keeps hair off of face" or "Eh, just likes braids."

In fact, the answer to this type of shitty, click-baiting headline question always sucks. It makes you feel bad about yourself that you even bothered. Personally, if I'm going to spend my time wasting my life trolling the Internet for mundane little digital farts of celebrity gossip instead of reading or working or making myself a better person, then... well, that's my own sad choice. But I might as well get something out of it, right? Hence, this list. You are welcome!

A wish list by Una LaMarche
  1. She gets a sick sexual pleasure from the exquisite pain of a tightly-pulled scalp.
  2. It's a private, racist dig at Native Americans. Like blackface, just more subtle... and with smoothing creme!
  3. They hide a hideous brain surgery scar a la Kimberly from Melrose Place.
  4. She has a rare knuckle mutation that has prevented her from mastering the bun or the ponytail. Thus, the simple braid is both her only solace--and her lifelong prison!!!
  5. She is actually Willie Nelson wearing a Scooby Doo mask.
I'm reasonably sure that at least three of these things are true. Just kidding, Nicole Richie lawyers!

But probably.

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