Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Speaking of taxi drivers . . . .

It was a beautiful day yesterday, and Sec and I hung out in the playground for a long time. Now that its playground weather again and she is four years old, she has learned a thousand new ways to induce cardiac arrest in her mother. These categories include

Filth Immersion

High -Flying Feats

Talking to Strangers

And, of course --


I have come to think it is good for my cardiac health for my heart to get stopped and restarted a few times a day, the way its good to reboot your computer so programs don’t freeze up.

We hung out until she had nothing left in her bag of tricks and then I thought she might be hungry. Nothing like playing with glass shards in the dirt patch used by dogs to defecate to work up an appetite.

I suggested we get a slice at the new pizza place near the playground which we’ve been meaning to check out. I’m on an eternal quest for the best local slice and it was very possible that this joint had it.

I continued to believe in this possibility even after I walked in the place, past the only patron – a wackadoo waiting for a slice to go (small mercy) who was talking on the phone much too loud and staring at himself in the mirror intensely as he did so. I believed in the potential of the pizza even after I unloaded Sec into a dirty booth in the dingy dining area. Once I got a load of the dining area, I thought a more fitting name for the pizza place, which was something generic like Ray’s or Joe’s or Mama’s – would be “End of the World Pizza.” Or maybe, “Apocalypse Pizza.”

A less inviting dining area, I’ve never seen. It was lit like an interrogation room and covered in the kind of filth that has become too deeply embedded in plastic to ever wash off, which I found odd, since it was a brand new place. Oh, well, I figured – we’re starving, and it doesn’t take long to wolf down a slice. Better to have Sec contained at the end of the world than allow her to eat her pizza out of doors, where it was sunny and bright and limitless.

I was aware that the TV in the End of the World Dining Area was on, loudly, and playing some un-kid-friendly programming but it wasn’t until I ordered the pizza and came back to rejoin Sec at our table that I realized how un-kid-friendly the programming was. Sec was kneeling on her seat, staring open-mouthed at the television. I followed her eyes and saw a half-dozen blood splattered people in 70s attire.

“Look Mommy!” Sec exclaimed, “Those people have blood on them!”

“Oh honey!” I shrieked, turning her around so her back faced the TV, “That is a grown up show! It’s not appropriate for kids!”

She snuck a few glances but then her pizza came – on the low end of mediocre, as you might guess—and I was able to keep her attention away from the TV with stories about Rapunzel and Snow White and their girls getaway to New York City. I, meanwhile, store glances at the TV, trying to figure out what in the hell kind of movie these End of the World Pizza guys had seen fit to play in their dining establishment at lunchtime. A zombie movie, I thought at first, but then it was clear the movie had gritty realism and was shot in the 70s. Its general tone made you want to kill yourself -- bleak, bleak, bleak.

And then I saw a close-up of Robert Deniro and heard him say to the camera: “Are you talking to me? Are you TALKING to ME?”

Taxi Driver.

The perfect flick to watch while “enjoying” pizza with your four year-old on a lovely spring.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Taxi Drivers Wanted

Now that Primo is able to read, he has begun deciphering signage. We adults tae for

Granted how much skill and experience this requires. So, every day on the way to school Primo and I pass a sign for a taxi school which reads “Taxi Drivers Wanted.” Finally yesterday Primo turned to me somberly and asked, “What do taxi drivers do that are so bad?”

“What do you mean, honey?”

“Why do they have to go to jail?”

Of course. It was a “Wanted” sign, after all. What else would he think?

I hastened to disabuse him of the notion that each and every taxi driver was on the lamb, that in fact, it was just the opposite.

Good thing I cleared that up, too, because I recently taught him how to dial 911.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stop that bus!!!

Last trip we took to Tennessee, we nearly missed our flight. Its an early morning flight which forces us to leave the house way earlier than we are usually awake, and we just got up and at 'em too late.

"Lets not repeat our mistake from last trip," I told David, "Lets leave plenty of time."

But when it was came time to decide when to set the alarm for, twenty minutes seemed more than sufficient to get up, get dressed, make coffee, put together last minute things and get in the car with our two young children.

"Yeah, that'll work," I said, "And it shoudn't take more than a half hour to get to Newark. Its a Sunday morning, after all."

David agreed: "Yeah, the problem last time was we didn't know how to get to that cheap ass long term parking area. But now we do. That'll be fine."

As it turned out, I'd had my days mixed up, something which commonly occurs since my post-baby-number-two lobotomy. We were traveling on a Monday, the which might have been OK if we'd left on time at 6:30 but wasn't so OK when we left at 7am, after stopping to pick up a dozen bagels to take with us to Tennessee.

"It'll just take five minutes to stop by the bagel place," David said confidently, "We'll still have time to make the 7:20 shuttle from the parking place to the airport."

"I think its too tight," I said,"And the next shuttle doesn't come for twenty minutes."

David prevailed, however, and I was soon I was holding a bag which stunk to high heaven of garlic bagels and having a small ulcer about the fact that we'd be screwed if we encountered any traffic or wrong turns or obstacles along the way.

Such as, perhaps, going the wrong direction on the New Jersey Turnpike. That was an unfortunate turn of events.

"Shit," David said, "I gotta get off this turnpike."

Getting off the turnpike was not as easy as one might think. Before we knew it, we were on the Garden State Parkway, whipping out our EZ Pass again and again, getting further and further away from Newark Airport.

The kids started whining that they were hungry.

"We need COMPLETE SILENCE in this car!" I shouted, "Daddy needs to concentrate."

It was 7:40.

"Well, the 8am shuttle should still get us on the flight," I ventured.

"IF we make it." David countered.

"IF?" I said, "David, we are making that shuttle. I am not repeating this horror show tomorrow morning AND paying change fees on four tickets."

At 7:59, incredibly, we were approaching the exit which takes us to the long term parking, albeit at a snail's pace. We were so close.

"I'm calling the parking place and having them hold the shuttle," I said in my ball-busting voice. The only people whose balls I should have busted were mine and my husband's but still.

The woman who picked up the phone at the parking lot said the shuttle had already left.

"But that's impossible!" I cried, "Its not even 8 yet!"

"Actually, it is 8:01."

"No, its actually 1 minute to 8."

Rather than continue this incredibly enriching debate, she said, "Hold on," and I heard her on her walkie talkie asking the driver to hold the bus.

"Bus left," the driver said.

"Can you hold it please?" she asked. I waited with bated breath.

"OK," the driver said, "We're holding."

"Thank you! Thank you!" I exclaimed.

"Just hurry please," she said, exasperated.

I relayed the message to David: "Hurry!"

He was exasperated, too: "What precisely would you like me to?'

"Change lanes! Do some fancy driving. Make this happen."

At 8:05 we were pulling into the parking lot and saw the shuttle parked in the main entrance.

"Its there!" I yelled, "We made it!"

I reached down to grab my bag on the floorboard and when I looked up again, the shuttle was gone.


By this point, the kids were so stressed out o they didn't even blink when I dropped the F bomb.

"Its leaving!" David yelled, pointing to the shuttle which was driving out the exit.

"STOP THE CAR!" I yelled, jumping out of the still-moving car and running in my trusty Frye-boot-knock-offs like a crazy person.

"STOP THE BUS!" I yelled, running directly in front of it, "WE'RE HERE!"

Everyone looked annoyed. I don't blame them. If I'd been on that bus, I'd have counter yelled, "DON'T LISTEN TO THAT EGOMANICAL BITCH!"

But thankfully, the only passengers were one tired airport worker and a quiet Asian business man. They weren't about to counter yell me.

"RUN FOR THE BUS, KIDS!" I yelled, as I darted inside to give the parking lot attendant my credit card.

We forgot a small bag and who knows what state the car was left in,but we got on that shuttle and then breezed through curbside checkin, through the monorail to the correct terminal, and through security. After a quick stop to Hudson News to buy me Advil for my POUNDING FREAKING HEADACHE, we hurried to our gate where our flight was boarding.

We got on. Seconda asked the person in the front row, "Is this plane going to Tennessee, please?"

It was. And now we are here picking honeysuckle and chasing butterflies.

All in a day's work.

Monday, April 18, 2011


The kids were playing in their room. I was sitting at the computer, pretending to work but actually shopping daily deal websites, the Achilles Heel of m online shopping.

Sec paused in the Hansel-and-Gretel-murder-the-wicked-witch game and remarked:

"Oh, Primo, it was so funny in my classroom because the kids were playing family and it was me and Jax and Hillary and Ben and Greta and Lila and Nora and Grover and Larry and Mary and then Tess said “The Daddy has no eyeball!” Is that funny?

Primo did not respond. I imagine he stopped listening after the second or third name of someone he didn’t know, though it might have been earlier, maybe after “in my classroom” or most likely after “it was so funny.” In any event, he didn’t respond so Sec repeated, “Is that funny?”

She waited a beat. Still no response

Then, “PRIMO! I am talking to you!”

Somebody’s gonna get a smack-down, I thought. I readied myself to respond, even though I’ve read Siblings Without Rivalry five times and know that I am not, under any circumstances, to intervene in sibling altercations at such an early stage.


"Yes,” Primo piped up, quietly, He had no idea what she was talking about and he didn’t care. But he knew just what to say.

Good God, I thought. It is exactly like listening to David and I. Heaven help us.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My daughter is giving me body-image problems

Walking to have dinner with another family the other night, Seconda cast me a glance and then gasped.

“Why do your eyes look beautiful Mommy?”

“Well, I put on some eye makeup today.”

“Oh they look SOOOOOO beautiful!”

“Thank you.”

“But what if a bad guy comes and forces you to take your eye makeup off and you look HORRIBLE?? Do you want me to stab him in the heart?”

“Umm, I guess so. Thanks/”

“No problem.”

And to think I tell her "You look beautiful just the way you are." Clearly, she does not feel the same about me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Want a laugh?

Who doesn't enjoy a good laugh at the expense of ridiculous, fictional parents? This clip is only a pilot but it looks like there'll be more where it came from.


Monday, April 11, 2011


I’ve never been a hard-core or even a consistent exerciser, but the last time I had a real stretch of commiting to regular cardio was about a decade ago, when David and I lived in Los Angeles. You can’t live in LA as an actress without joining a gym. I believe it was one of the qualifications for renting our apartment, right after the credit check. It doesn’t matter how skinny or hot you are, you can always be skinnier and hotter, and you must try. So I joined a gym a few blocks from my house and I drove there almost every time. At that gym, I used the elliptical machine. I remember this being a kind of new fangled contraption which replaced the Stair Master. It was all the rage.

So last September when I resolved to work out 2 times a week, I headed straight for the elliptical machine. After a few months, though, I remarked to my mommy friend, who is an experienced exerciser, that I felt like the elliptical wasn’t doing anything for me.

“I don’t even really break a sweat,” I confessed, “And even though I like that about it, I have a feeling it is kind of pointless. “

“Yeah, forget the elliptical,” she counseled, “You need to do interval training, on the treadmill.”

Ohhhhh, that scared me a little. I saw other people using the treadmill. They sweated profusely, They panted. It exhausted me just to watch. But, I figured, if I was going to bother working out, I might as well lose my fat ass and floppy belly That was the whole point of the enterprise, anyway.

Turns out, I like the treadmill. I mean, it does cause problems, like when I was pumping my arms so desperately that I punched the control panel and the treadmill instantly stopped, causing me to lurch forward perilously. Also, it took a while for me to figure eout how to affix my IPhone to my person so I could continue listening to the galvanizing sounds of “All Things Considered” on NPR. I tired wedging it in my cleavage but then people looked at me weird when I had to pull it out to change the program. So now, I use a little backpack that was given to the kids on Christmas and stick my phone in there, where it rests securely at the small of my back. I know I look like a maniac but I’m sure I looked like one before, anyway, with all the huffing and puffing and groaning sounds I make.

The reason the treadmill – which Primo calls “that machine that makes you run and run but you never get anywhere – is such a perfect fir for my exercise needs is this: it forces you, on peril of serious bodily harm., to really work. This is convenient because the only thing that will make me work is, indeed, the imminent threat of serious bodily harm. If I stop running on the treadmill, my face will smash on something. The last thing I need, in addition to my fat ass and floppy belly, is a smashed face. So I run.

I’ll leave the elliptical to those self=starters. You know who you are.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It was an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka-dot tortellini

I am somewhat amazed by the fact that this will be the third post I’ve written about bikinis in the past week, particularly since it’s the first week of April. But Seconda is wildly obsessed with bikinis: in particular, a hand-me-down pink string bikini which I would have instantly tossed in the garbage if I’d had any idea how much she would have grown to love it.

I’m not the kind of mother who would intentionally buy my four year-old a two-piece over a one-piece. Don’t get me wrong, I love bikinis -- I wouldn’t be caught dead in a one-piece, even now when I risk being asked if I am pregnant again when I am, definitely, not. And it’s not so much that I think they are inappropriate for a little girl. In fact, I don’t think they are inappropriate. If Sec were older, maybe – 7 or 8 – then maybe. But she’s so little now, I don’t find her wearing bikinis, or smearing lipstick over her lips like a crazy clown, or her wearing my high heels inappropriate, because she’s barely out of toddlerhood and she’s just pretending. But I also don’t think it’s necessary. I feel the same way about video games. I’d never introduce the idea to Primo, but when someone else did, I didn’t very well say “No” altogether because if you handle it responsibly, then video games are fine.

My point is that I have no freaking idea how it happened that my daughter has been wearing a pink string bikini nonstop for the past four days. Including to sleep. And to school -- though, at my insistence, under clothes. Every time I turn around, I see that kid undertaking some impish shenanigan in her pink string bikini, including drawing on her bunk beds (“I AM RAPUNZEL AND ITS MY ART GALLERY AND DON”T YOU DARE CLEAN IT OFF, MOTHER GOTHEL!”) and sneakily eating a tiny box full of pink Nerds.

But the best part about the bikini fixation is that she can’t remember the word for bikini. This is a kid that, when my mother asks her if she can pick up the jacket she threw on the floor, will reply “Unfortunately not.” She has no problem with big words but the word “bikini” eludes her completely. Instead, she refers to her preferred swimwear as “her tortellini.”

At first, it was “her ravioli,” It was one of the most formidable communication challenges we’ve ever had, the day I tried to figuring out what the hell she was talking about when she told me next Halloween she wanted to dress up as Ariel in a pink ravioli.

“You want to eat ravioli for Halloween?”

“No Mommy, I want to WEAR IT!”

“You want to wear ravioli? On Halloween?”

“Yes. A pink one.”

“Sure. But why?”

“Because Ariel wears a ravioli with her tail. So I need a tail and a ravioli.”

“OK, I’ll get you a tail and a plate of ravioli.”


It was the revelation of the century, really.

After some correcting, she understood that ravioli did not mean bikini. That’s when she switched to a different kind of stuffed pasta. Now its “DID YOU WASH MY PINK TORTELLINI LIKE I ASKED YOU TO MOMMY?” and “I WANT TO PUT MY TORTELLINI ON UNDER MY PRINCESS DRESS!!!”

I don’t like to play favorites but it might be my all time favorite kid-speak ever.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Any truck-lovers in the house? You'll want to know about this . . .

Touch-a-Truck Brooklyn, Saturday, April 9, 11am - 2pm:

Kids will get to hop in the driver's seat of the working trucks -- and some unusual ones, too -- that they encounter in everyday life: an FDNY fire engine, NYPD police cruiser, a garbage truck, a tow truck, and many more. Plus, some cool educational vehicles, including the BioBus (a science lab on wheels), the Truck Farm, and the Bookmobile from the Brooklyn Public Library.

AND: There will be yummy sweet and savory treats from some of NYC's most popular food trucks!

All proceeds will benefit the arts programs at P.S. 295, The Studio School of Arts & Culture.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A real pool party. Crap.

Speaking of bikinis, let me tell you something I’m dreading.

Taking the kids to a swimming birthday party this month. The party is for my good friend’s daughter, who is one of Primo’s best friends, so there’s no way out of it. Not to mention, the kids will have the time of their life. Not so for me. As soon as I got the Evite, I called my friend:

“What’s the situation with this party? Do I have to go in the pool with the kids? And if so, how the hell am I supposed to do that without putting on a bathing suit, the which I try never to do in front of people I know????”

“Trust me, I know,” she said, “Do you think I want to run the party while wearing a bathing suit? What can I do? She wanted a swimming party.”

“How thoughtless of you,” I said, “To put the hopes and dreams of your child before my vanity. I don’t know if we can still be friends.”

Thankfully, she solved my problem by suggesting that I appoint David as the In-the-Pool-Guy and myself as Pool-Side-Supervisor. That way, everyone would be happy. Except David. Because though he cares not a fig about being half-dressed, he does care about being splashed so much its almost water torture and getting kicked in the groin repeatedly as the kids launch off him to try and “swim.” Suspiciously, David has since informed me that he will be visiting a friend out of state that weekend so I’m back to square one.

“Do they really need a parent in the pool with them?” I asked my friend.

“Not if they can swim,” she replied.

Nice. Now I’m the bad guy for considering giving priority to preserving my vanity rather than preserving the lives of my two can’t-swim-in-a-bathtub children.

The last time I wore my bikini, it was in Italy and it didn’t matter how I looked since I was so pale compared to the suntanned Italian ladies that I think I blinded beachgoers with my whiteness, rendering them incapable of seeing my body at all.

I TOLD David we should have signed those kids up for swim class.

At least I can record this in my martyr ledger. That’s some consolation.