The Life of the REAL Housewife of Orange County

Well, thankfully, my husband getting a job is no longer a concern. Today I received a wonderful letter in the email that puts all my fears to rest.

Dear Friend,

This letter may come as a surprise since we have not yet met. I have no intentions of causing you pains so i decide to contact you through this medium .As you read this, I don't want you to feel sorry for me, because, I believe everyone will die someday.

My name is SALAM JAFER, a merchant in Dubai, in the U.A.E. I have been diagnosed with prostate and esophageal Cancer that was discovered very late due to my laxity in caring for my health. It has defiled all form of medicine and right now, I have only about a few WEEKS to live according to medical experts.I have not particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone but my business. Though I am very rich, I was never generous, I was hostile to people and only focus on my business.

But now I regret all this as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make all the money in the world. I believe when God gives me a second chance to come to this world I would live my life a different way from how I have lived it. Now that I know my
time is near, I have willed and given most of my properties and assets to my immediate and extended family members and as well as a few close friends. I am writing this from my laptop computer As my last days alive are drawing closer and closer I have resolved to give my remaining funds to charity organizations as I want this to stand as one of the last deeds I indulge in on earth before I die.

I am contacting you with this as the last of my funds which no one knows of is a cash deposit of Eighteen million U.S Dollars stashed in 2 trunk boxes and declared as Personal effects of high security value which I have with a finance/Security Company in Europe. All I am asking of you is to assist me in making the collection of this deposit and dispatching the funds to any charity of your choice after keeping 20% of the funds for yourself and your family.10% of these funds should be to cover any expenses that might be incurred in the process of making this claims. Please contact me as soon as you get this email if you are capable and sincere to handle this transaction on my behalf so I can forward you with all relevant documents necessary for the claims and the name of the security firm where the funds are deposited. Please respond to me on this email address if you are willing to assist me, May God Bless You. Salam Jafer

See, given his infirm condition, I am thinking I could really get in this guy's good graces. If I could help him, he would no doubt reward me with a paltry piece of his fortune, I was thinking something like $3.6 million, 'cause I'm not greedy and in the process I get to give away the rest and feel just like Oprah watching people go all kinds of apeshit. So hubs, you can stop the job search because Easy Street is just ahead.

ICYMI: Oprah's Favorite-- AHHHHHHH! @ Yahoo! Video

On a separate note, I really like to write, it rarely feels like work to me and it's the perfect nonsocial social outlet. The difficult thing is getting time to write, time to get into that space where the words flow freely, where they aren't forced or contrived, they just jibe.

Tonight I was in that place, in the office, plunking away at the keyboard, the stuff just flying out of my fingertips, headphones on with new music lighting my way when I feel a tap on my shoulder, I jump slightly and turn around, hubs is standing there.

"Yes?" I ask in a tone that says, I'm in the middle of a creative tsunami, whatdaya want?
"You need to see this Chris" hubs says gravely.
"Look what the bebe drew, oh my god, I really need to show you this. Come see."
"Fine," I get up and plod to the family room.

I am expecting maybe some circles since she has only been drawing lines and punchy little dots.
"What do you think she's trying to tell us, should we be worried?" he asks.

Jesus, I'm never gonna get a book published.

On another note, can I just say it is so cold here right now that you could hang heavy winter coats from my tattersons(boobies). It's 45 degrees. Now I know I know, all my friends and family in Wisconsin are probably thinking, fuck you Wimpy McWimperson but here's the thing. My wonderful old stony, heavy leaded double windowed insulated brick duplex nestled in the heart of beautiful Wauwatosa Wisconsin with it's gentle radiator heat and fireplace knew how to keep a girl warm. Yes, it was beastly when you had to go out and shovel but inside it was toasty.

The houses in Southern California on the other hand, are made out of slightly thick paper. I have a headband on right now because the draft is so bad that my hair is whipping in my face and I can't see. This is not a place that was meant to be below sixty. Most people wear flip flops 75% of the time, scarves are for fashion purposes only and most of our stores sell winter coast for about five minutes before they put them away and get out the beach wear.

On yet another note, in light of our precarious financial position, giant inheritance from Salam Jafer not withstanding, I have taken several measures to save us money. We don't eat out very often but we occasionally indulge in Pinkberry. It is so good and the fruit is always perfectly ripe, flavorful and not pretty but tasteless like so many of the berries I buy at the store. The frozen yogurt really tastes like yogurt, not watery ice cream. It's also deceptively low in calories.
It's also kind of pricey. At about three bucks per, as a family of five, we're talking like fifteen bucks here, something we can't spare right now. Still, I don't want the kids to feel deprived so "Pinkberry" a la mom.

"But Mom, the yogurt's warm and the fruit is frozen."
"Well, they changed their formula," I told them.

It's mommaberry bitches, get used to it.

I also have been shopping at a store called the Grocery Outlet. This is a very good place. It's not crappy melamine filled products from China, it's straight from the manufacturer. It's overruns, old packaging, crooked labels, Awareness campaigns that have come and gone, runs of stuff that never took off. It is not dented botulism riddled cans and past the expiration date goods.

For instance, one product I got for the kids is called Fiber-Filled Health Biscuits. The ingredients are great and all-organic, no high fructose corn syrup, no trans-fat, but the way they are marketed is unappealing which is probably why they languished as bright shiny boxes of cookies flew off the shelves. The health biscuits, they taste great and as far as cookies go, they are healthy.

Another product I got is the off brand version of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish. Those goldfish crackers are good but damn expensive. Here in Southern California, a family size box is like nine dollars. Goldfish-shaped crackers are trademarked so instead we get:

Do these crackers not just scream poor happy?

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World's Oldest Spiderweb Found in My Bathroom

I am not a good sleeper. Hubs on the other hand goes gently into that good night the minute his head hits the pillow. My head is like an old computer trying to shut down, slowly closing each window, getting hung up in things here and there. These are the things that I start thinking about at 11:30pm when I should be sleeping:

1. Oxford University paleobiologist Martin Brasier recently discovered a 140-million-year-old spider web. A real find and further proof that I'm not the only second-rate housekeeper.

2. With regard to women, we talk about having it all a lot. We never talk about men having it all. Do you know why? Because having it all really means doing it all.

3. If I hear one more mom talking about buying lots of presents to make it a good Christmas for her children I might lose my mind. Since when has Christmas been about tonnage? If I think back about cherished childhood Christmas memories, rarely are they about the presents. There are a few standouts when I got something I had really wanted but mostly it's about the feeling and being together and parents being more relaxed due to a few days off work, and mostly, anticipation. When did so many parents priorities go askew?

4. Last night (don't ask me why) I explained the euphemism "dropping the kids off at the pool” to my kids. I explained euphemism(teaching moment) and then detailed exactly who the 'kids' were and what the 'pool' referred to(less of a teaching moment). I thought for sure I was introducing new lexicon into the entire third grade class, a swift revenge for some of the things my son has picked up. Turns out, it was a big winner with my four year old daughter who now announces every bm with, “I'm going to drop the kids off at the pool.” Good times, good times.

5.The bebe has her core words, ma, dada, ba(bottle),up, cat, kittie, she is also at that verbal stage where her mumblings are starting to sound like words, even whole phrases. Sure, she doesn't mean it when she says things that sound like, can I have some kimchi, but I swear to god this morning she said what sounded like, mom I need to finish my doctoral thesis, can you get me a double espresso.

6. You know what's at the top of my Christmas list this year? A day with just my husband at the movie plex catching up on all of the holiday Oscar contenders, eating loads of popcorn, Twizzlers and getting sore bums from an eight hour movie marathon. Oh, and a cleaning lady.

7. Though I know there are only a select few who care about the kids stuff on the site, I am going to post another video of my bebe dancing. I just need to document that she is a mambo master, a samba sage, a veritable hip hop savant. She has unparalleled rhythm, she is a genius of beat. This special ability is not present in all my kids. My eight year old has repeatedly attempted break dancing and it looks remarkably like a seizure. My four year old as evidenced in the previous video, has dancing skills reminiscent of Elaine from Seinfeld all flailing and odd off beat jutting kicks.

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Girly Girl Sick Day

So all the XX's in our house are sick right now, for whatever reason, the goopy fever sore throat stuffiosity has eluded the menfolk. So us girl's are having a group sick day and yes, there are giant pink tutus involved and funk and Motown and lots of books and there might be glitter at some point. We might be contagious but we're not dead.

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You are the Weight of Her World

I never thought I went out into the dating world looking for a father figure, a common thing for girls with absentee fathers. I was drawn to men who made me feel taken care off, protected, beautiful and capable, intelligent and resourceful. Little did I understand that these are all the things your father is supposed to provide for you. I didn't have this, how would I know? What were the feelings I had with my own father?

The biggest one was probably exclusion. When my father remarried and had his own family(see even in the way the words come out, ugh, as if they are other people unconnected to me), I felt pushed to the side, the product of an accidental teen pregnancy rather than the planned family he had now. I felt the weight of his shame, his feelings that his life might have been different, no better, had I not 'happened'.
I found my father figure in other places. Mostly my grandfather Henry, who died of pancreatic cancer this year. He would pick me up from school dances, talk to me about my plans for the future, never wavering in his confidence in me. “Chrissy, you're the one we never worry about,” he'd tell me and just him saying it I believed it. It's also no surprise that I turned to men as a way to fill the deep and unfillable chasm my dad left in his wake. Like I said, I never thought I went out into the dating world looking for a father figure but looking back on it as a thirty five year old, the evidence is there.
At 22 there was Jake, seventeen years my senior. He was recently divorced with a daughter of his own. He was the first man I really loved. He made me laugh, he made me feel beautiful, he praised me for my intelligence, my wit. Jake changed me in a ways that remained long after we were not together, good ways that remain even now. He also broke my heart. Though his intentions were good, his reticence to make me a part of all the parts of his life, after more than a year, once again reminded me that I came in a very distant second to other more important people. I'd played that record before. The other men that came after were less important but more of the same. I did a great deal of work cleaning up the mess someone else made. My husband has done his share too. He traverses my whims and perceived slights and insecurities like a pro but these are gaps in me that were there long before him, none of them his making. I remember in the early days of our relationship when my insecurities had gotten the better of me. Fears of abandonment welled up until I broke and let the crazy come flooding out. He reassured me and I apologized for being the way I was being, maybe for being the way I was. This isn't your fault I told him, it's my own insecurities and I do my best to manage them. The truth was, it wasn't my fault either. My husband taught me to trust him, but it was a near Herculean effort. He showed me, through actions and words that even though I am at times difficult, moody, even petulant, he is not going anywhere.
I am envious of my daughters some days when I see my husband with them. I wish so much that I had had that. How different or easier would I have traversed the world, how much less complicated would my teens and twenties have been, how much sooner would I have made peace with my body and sense of self. How much less of me would I have given away looking for someone to love me? I am proud that I found a man who does and will continue to give our daughters what every girl deserves to have in a father but too few of us really had. I watch him with them and it is redemptive, I get to feel for a moment what it would have been like to have that for myself. I have healed many of my own wounds by finding a man whose love for me never wavers, who makes me feel both capable and protected, a man who has taken the time and made the investment in getting to know me inside and out.
My point? I don't know but maybe it's this, fathers be vigilant. Don't ever be fooled into thinking Mom is the only one who really matters. I can't speak for sons but only as a daughter. You are the weight of her world. You are the yardstick by which she will measure men later. You are the mirror that casts how she will in part see herself. You are the soft place to fall. You will be the first man to teach her what men value by the way you love her. You will influence so many parts of her future that it would probably scare you if you added it all up.

You also have the power to keep her safe, long after she leaves your side.

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First Look

So here is the culmination of that strange trip. I awoke to a healthy baby seemingly staring in my direction, maybe she smelled me? When I first looked at her, my stomach contracted in the start of a hard cry and it hurt because if the surgery so I actually had to look away from her to get composed. Useless really as I just started crying when my husband brought her over to me to hold. I was still groggy from the anesthesia so my husband had to cradle us both because I was afraid I might drop her.

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Beatles Album, Special K ,Existential Cubes, Oh My

In my past I have experimented with drugs. I was never the one who did it with any frequency but I sought a point of reference. I wanted to know first hand what people were talking about. Of course with some drugs like the pipe, heroin and meth, I was smart enough to know that even one time was playing with fire.

Some of my experiences were amazing, some arresting, some were awful but one stands out as being particularly sensational. This wonderful experience was with a very legal but powerful drug, Ketamine. Now, I'm not a proponent of drugs but this was good, so good, it was almost religious.

Perhaps it was the context, the preceding events that got me to the place where I was begging for all manner of needles, injections, any injections. I was at the beginning of a c-section with an ineffective epidural block. As they began the cutting, I told my husband,

"I'm starting to feel this."

Moments later I looked pleadingly at the anesthesiologist, "I can feel this, I am feeling pain."

"No pain, just pressure," he said tersely , a small Asian man who had given me three different epidurals the previous 16 hours of labour, none of them mitigating the pain.

No surprise to me the epidural was again proving ineffective.

"No, this is not pressure."(I tried hard not to say fucker or asshole) given that I wanted this man to make me numb to the knife that was slicing through skin, flesh, sinew, muscle, and finally my womb. I felt it was auspicious to refrain from specific name calling.

"No pain, just pressure," he said again, like if he just repeated it then it would become true. I started to cry and hyperventilate. Finally the surgeon stepped in,

"Is she feeling this? She cannot be feeling this. She better not be feeling this."

Everybody started scurrying around, the little angry anesthesiologist harriedly approached me with a fistful of syringes. Plunge. Plunge. Plunge. I was no longer in the room.

This is where it gets interesting. First, everything was musical, beautiful, philosophical. Did you know that there was a previously unreleased Beatles album nestled in my consciousness just waiting to be liberated with the benefit of major mind altering chemicals? I don't remember the specifics of the songs but I can tell you it was the Beatles and it was all new material, from several different periods.

There were the fresh, suited idols singing stylistic bubblegum pop. There were Beatles in Nehru jackets opining some vaguely transcendental Krishna psychedelia. There were straggly hippie Beatles shaking their heads at the war. There were also sweaty, raving glitter-speckled Beatles hopping around with glow sticks and pacifiers.

It was the best fucking concert of my life and I had not only a front row seat, I had a 360 degree view, I had close ups. The best part? It was so unbelievably real. It was noisy, full of beat and melody.

When I came out later I said to my husband,

"Man I know that doctors sometimes like to listen to music during surgery but it was really, really loud."

I had figured that maybe some background Beatles had gotten this particular stream of consciousness started.

"Uh, honey, there was no music."

It got even better. The music faded to the background and what appeared behind my eyes was a gigantic cube, like a Rubik's cube but every cube was metallic silvery white and there seemed to be infinite facets covering each side. Now you know how people who have near death experiences later relate how their whole life played before their eyes? Well the cube was like this except I saw everybody's lives.

Each facet on the cube seemed to represent another person's life. Though the images seemed to pass quickly like a movie or series of pictures, they started birth to death and all of the moments in between. That shit was heavy. I was out for about a half an hour but it felt like hours, lifetimes. I literally woke to a baby in my arms feeling as if I had been told a secret by the universe.

Perhaps the momentousness of the occasion lent itself to the existential. Maybe knowing I was about to bring forth a new life set my mind up for something magnanimous. The unreal part is I still remember it vividly. It's hard to put the details and specifics into words because it was so heavily auditory and visual.

Again, I am not a proponent of drug use, in part because it too frequently leads to abuse and other ills that effect the larger world. However, I will tell you that if you are ever about to go under or your anesthesiologist is taking special requests, I know what I'd be asking for.

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Petite Bourgeoisie

Yes, I am aware this is the Iphone commercial song but I love it and it's stuck in my head right now like my own personal theme song complete with narration. I'm beginning to feel like Zach Braff's character in Scrubs. Well, I'd probably miss the voices if they were gone right?

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I Am The Politeness Police, Pull Over

Wednesday hubs and I attended his employer's holiday party, a kind of last hurrah. Let it be known that they throw the best parties and their Christmas party is one I look forward to all year. They are fun, and interesting and two of the most gracious hosts I know. They also are bona fide foodies, like me, who know their wine, unlike me.

I am not a burger girl or a roast girl, but oh, do I like a prime cut of dry-aged beefy perfection. Hubs on the other hand, is a vegetarian and although he does not make me feel like a pariah when I have to occasionally satisfy my carnivorous cravings, he can't look past the meager vegetarian offerings and accompany me to an upscale steakhouse. Our hosts always pick these kinds of restaurants to my utter and complete delight. The day of the party I walked around the house complaining of blood lust and regaling my husband, with a slightly crazed look in my eye, how much I was going to enjoy my steak. No really, I told him as I made smacking noises with my lips, I'm going to devour it.
The party did not disappoint. I ate my weight in crab claws and shrimp the size of small lobster tails dipped in fresh horseradish so atomically hot it cleared out my sinuses on the first bite. I had a steak that did not disappoint. For dessert I ordered the buttercake recommended by both our hosts and our waiter. Ok, this wasn't a piece of cake, it was a cake. I took a bite and exclaimed out loud, this cake must have at least two sticks of butter in it. I caught the waiter's eye and he held up three fingers to silently indicate that the cake had three, count them, three sticks of butter. Imagine a bunch of butter with a little cakey stuff thrown in, conjure up the richest pound cake ever. I am still recovering from the heady goodness that was the meal, the hosts and the company, well, most of the company.

One of my husband's coworkers brought what I think was his girlfriend though they hardly said two words to each other the whole night. This woman was loud and this is coming from someone who can herself be quite boisterous given the right moment. So if I thought she was over the top, well whoa. She would not shut up. Not only was she loud but she had a voice that had all the lilt and smoothness of a yard blower. She reminded me of a young Sally O'Malley, the character played by Molly Shannon where she runs around kicking up her legs saying, "I'm FIFTY!"
She started out the night loud, overbearing, inappropriately familiar with the boss's wife. She talked about how expensive everything is, she engaged in several conversations where she said things like, let me tell you(the same thing over and over again), oh, you don't know anything yet but you will(regarding raising teenagers), I know exactly what you mean(uh, no and you never will) and girlfriend you and me need to go out(um, that's not ever going to happen). She failed to realize that people were tuning her out on all sides, heads turned away from her though it never stopped her from talking.

She then proceeded to get ripped. She had(yes I counted, I already fessed up to being the founding member of the Politeness Police and honorary member of the Blunt Brigade) eight drinks, not including the wine that poured freely throughout the night. It made the conversation even more interesting(obnoxious) and I'm sure our hosts were totally planning on individual bar tabs exceeding $100.
I know, I know, I am so judgemental. Maybe she was nervous, maybe her boyfriend was being an ass and she was just trying to fit in, be liked but drunk at the office Christmas party, the first time you're meeting these people? If that isn't a rookie mistake, I don't know what is. I think my eyes actually ached from all of the eye rolling I did at my husband as we had our secret marital convo with our eyes.

Can you believe she just said that?
Did you just see that piece of lobster fly out of her mouth across the table?
Oh no she didn't.
Did she just order another drink? Really?
When is he going to shut her down?

See this is where I am a total hypocrite because I love big personalities, even loud voices and embarrassing oversharers, but they have to be funny or witty or very smart. They have to hold your attention. The conversation has to flow, go both ways. Good conversation is like good flirting, everyone feels interesting and smart and witty and fabulous. Her conversation was the equivalent of some drunk girl unzipping your pants in the parking lot and passing out before she gets to the good part.

Still, the important stuff was accomplished. I got to see the hubs bossman, coworkers and their mates. I got to catch up with Anne, the boss's wife, who I adore. I got an adult night out with the hubs dressed up and looking good. Best part, I got the giant piece of meat I was thinking about all day, oh, and I ate a steak.

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Poetic Justice

Not content to get away with the murder of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson, you tried to profit from it writing a sordid and sickening "If I did It". You moved to Florida to escape a $33.5 million civil judgement after you are found legally responsible for the death of Ronald Goldman. Still feeling untouchable, you cavalierly break the law again. Up to 33 years in prison for trying to get back sports memorabilia that no longer belonged to you. Nice job, well done. Finally.

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Lighten Up

It's common knowledge that many of the studios release their Oscar contenders around the holidays. One, with people on vacation it's big ticket sale time and two, films meet the submission deadline but stay fresh in minds of the members of the Academy. The current crop of Oscar contenders are not necessarily depressing but most of them are heavy. Like Frost/Nixon, the post-Watergate television interviews between British talk-show host David Frost and former president Richard Nixon. Or the Reader, a Post-WWII Germany drama. Or Milk, the biography of Harvey Milk, California's first openly gay elected official who aggressively fought anti-gay initiative(timely)and was later assassinated. They are all heavy. Heavy, this is the perfect word to describe how I'm feeling right now. I don't feel funny, or witty or clever or light. I feel like this plodding, introspective drama alongside the bevy of irreverent comedies and lighthearted romances.

Of course some of this has to do with the husband's job or lack thereof. Maybe part of it is just the season. I am uncharacteristically calm so I am concerned that I'm not more concerned, like worry and anxiety are the sacrifices that make the good juju happen. I worry that I'm not worried, less because I've reached some Zen calm and rather that I'm approaching emotional catatonia. You know you are neurotic when you think too much about your thinking, introspect on your introspection, ruminate on your ruminations and worry about the state of your worriedness.

Money is one of my biggest issues. I was relatively poor growing up. My parents were mere children when they had me at seventeen and nineteen. Later, as they worked and developed careers, we did better. Then when I was seven they divorced and in addition to all of the normal divorce junk, they were two still very young people now running two separate, more expensive existences. Finally in my teens my mom's career took off and we moved to a far more affluent area. We had nicer things, family vacations and no one ever turned our utilities off for not paying the bills. I will tell you without reserve, having money is better. It's more comfortable. You have more options. Certainly, it doesn't make you happy if you aren't but it can buy you a lot of therapy and pretty things and better views.

I falsely attach a great deal of security and safety to money. It is probably because of my background that I worry about money far too much. I spend it carefully, I hoard it but I'm remiss to even giving myself a hard time about that because that insecurity saving has led to things like cars bought with saved cash and leaving a high paying but unfulfilling job to go start a day spa and fuck around waxing chachas and probably living longer because I have less stress.

I know we'll be fine, I really do. It's this uncertain time in the middle that freaks me out. I am a planner, ask my husband. If I can do it today(pack, plan that menu for a party two months away, clean the house a few days before even if I end up doing it again...) I will. I like to know where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing all the time, I even schedule unstructured time. OCD much? So right now I feel like we are in a holding pattern. Everything we can do we have and continue to do. Most companies are not hiring until after the holidays if they aren't already in hiring freezes and budget cuts. I want to enjoy this time with my husband but since I don't know what comes next I can't shake this itchy, uncomfortable, pacing feeling. I feel like I should be doing something and I don't know what.

I certainly don't feel creative. I haven't stopped writing but after everything I've written lately, I am reminded of the grandpa from Moonstruck saying at a tense quiet uncomfortable silence, "Someone tell a joke or something." Seriously, I know FormerlyFun is my moniker and all but I'm really hoping on not living up to it.

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My Day in Review

Bebe woke me up early with diaper blow out. -5

After I changed her brought bebe to bed for an early morning snuggle. +20

Bebe still smells very much like peepee. -10

Husband made coffee. +20

Husband did not make breakfast. -10

Husband occupied bebe and let me take long shower. +5

Took shower because I had to go to work. -20

Left the house a few minutes early. +5

Used extra time to stop at fast food place and buy very pricey large diet coke. -10

Forty something Latino drive thru guy told me I looked like a movie star. +25

Waxed a bunch of cha. -5 (+500 if I was a teenage boy)

Got paid $100/hr plus tips to wax vadge. +50

Had to use most of today's take to pay for 4 year old's pre-school. -25

Four year old getting smarter even with little help from mom and dad. +25

Four year old has new friends and thinks mom and dad are boring. -15

Mom and dad have more time to play with each other. +10

Husband got babysitter. +10

Had sushi and saw movie. +20

Babysitter, dinner and movie set us back $$. -100

Psychological benefit spared children frequent beatings. +15

Set aside naughty tennis coach outfit for hubs. +25

Hubs has belly ache from movie chocolate. -20

Hubs sees white tennis skirt and recovers. +100

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Stars Collide, Worlds Divide with a Pretty Piece of Flesh

Last week I guest posted over at afreeman. Chris(the boy Chris) asked me(the girl Chris) to write about 1995 which made me look back on a difficult, yet pivotal time in my life. It was not an easy post for me since I actually had to reflect, ugh, which made me really tired.

Never one to miss an opportunity to exact a little revenge quid pro quo, I asked Chris(the boy Chris) to guest post over here at la maison du formerlyfun. I thought to myself, what topic can I pick that will equally flummox Chris(the boy Chris)*. Most of us know men are pretty simple straightforward. That old adage that to keep a man happy all you need are blowjobs and pizza isn't really that far off. This being the case, I didn't really need Chris(the boy Chris) to tell us about men. The old line, enough about me why don't you tell me what you think of me came to mind. What better question to ask a somewhat captive male what he thinks about us.

Chris(the boy Chris) shares his little piece of familial heaven with the hard-bargain driving, cutey pie, smarty pants Dr. O'C, boy Z(Chris and I are trying to work out some sort of modernish arranged marriage between his boy and the bebe) and Timmins the dog. Chris would probably pout a little if I was remiss in telling you his lady isn't the only doctor in the family, he is too, but not like a take off your clothes and check you out doctor, more like sit you down and teach you about genomes and shit. So give a warm welcome to Chris

*I briefly dated a Chris(not this Chris), after all it is a very common name and I dated a lot so I was bound to run into a Chris or two. I remember the ensuing confusion. It frequently devolved into a bad he's on first-like sketch. Plus, I could never call out his name during sex, it would have just seemed conceited.

Christ, would you look at all the pink around here? I feel like I’ve walked into Barbie’s boudoir. This makes my job here even more daunting. You see, Chris asked me to do a little guest post for her discussing “a progressive man’s take on female body image”. When I read that I blanched and murmured a despondent “oh, shit”.

You see, there is absolutely no way that I can write this post without getting in to some kind of trouble – with my partner, with my female readers, with Chris. I am a politically progressive kind of guy, a socialist really. But, when it comes to interpersonal, social and gender issues I’m kind of a traditional guy. Not that I think that a woman’s place is in the kitchen or that I want my beloved barefoot and pregnant or that a woman is nothing more than eye candy. But like any warm blooded man, nothing will stop me in my tracks like a scantily clad pretty piece of flesh.

Here’s the ugly truth, ladies: men are attracted by young, slim blondes with big knockers. Now, of course there are personal deviations. I, for example, am a sucker for a redhead. But in general, men of any political persuasion, social background or education accomplishment* come right to attention when confronted with a pair of long legs in a short skirt. It is just part of being a man.

Now, I think Chris had hoped that I was going to give you some insight into why we are reduced to drooling buffoons when confronted with a heaving bosom. As a geneticist, I always ask myself if the root of any behaviour lies embedded in our DNA. In the case of mate preference, probably not. The young thing, sure. Biologically our only job as men is to spread our seed and a young woman offers a better chance of reproductive success. But beyond that, if anything, we would be genetically drawn to small, hairy, wide-hipped women reminiscent of our Pleistocene ancestors and that certainly isn’t the case here in the early 21st century.

Realistically, the body image that most men drool over is a construct of advertising departments throughout the world. This is something that you already knew. Again, speaking personally, I spent my early teenage scanning for bits of bare skin in James Bond films, the Sears Catalog, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and the occasional purloined Playboy. Inevitably, these objects of my curiosity were airbrushed, slim, busty, babes.

I learned as a young man that the ultimate in womanhood was Cheryl Tiegs, Brooke Shields, Alison Doody and Kelly LeBrock. Mmmm, Kelly LeBrock. There are thousands of reasonably untalented actresses and singers that owe their careers to an unholy alliance of advertising executives’ machinations and the fantasies of teenage boys.

I would now like to try and redeem my sex, or at least myself. Yes, we will stare, drool and yearn over any woman on the street that looks like a Bond girl. And yes, a tidy piece of totty will certainly get our attention more than a frumpy frau. If my beloved hadn’t been the hottest thing in the room on the night that I met her, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. Equally, if the conversation hadn’t rolled like an out of control eighteen wheeler, we wouldn’t have gotten far either. We, of the shallower sex, are attracted by your physical features but what keeps us coming back for more is far deeper.

That being said, a nice pair of… ah, hell, let me quit while I’m ahead.

*Obviously we can exclude sexual predilection.

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What I Know For Sure

My husband lost his job on Tuesday. The consulting firm he's worked for the last few years appears to be shutting down after the cancellation of a major contract and no new projects on the horizon. We are still paying down exorbitant medical bills from both of our hospitalizations. Business at the spa is slow, the luxuries I sell are one of the first things to go when people face financial woes. And yet, I am strangely calm. And infinitely thankful.

Of course I had a moment of self-pity, the exhalation of that feeling of yet another setback just as we'd recovered from the last one. That momentary sense that as the dust settles and we take a deep breath, fate throws us another curve ball, but it was fleeting. It was quickly replaced with a sense that we'll be fine, whatever that means. We have an awfully large safety net, in the form of our own careful financial planning and the larger safety net that is our families. I thought for a moment about the people losing jobs or facing other economic uncertainty already treading water, just a few short paychecks away from catastrophic problems.

This bad news has also left me with a sense of solidarity and perspective. My husband and I are a really good team. It doesn't hurt that I could live in a trailer with that man eating crappy vegetarian meatloaf and buying clothes at the goodwill and as long as he told me I was beautiful and looked at me the way he does and held me when I go all neurotic on him, as long as we were together, we would be okay. After this year's medical woes, particularly his, I am reminded that this is the only thing that is important. Everything else is tangential.

I used to deal most poorly with uncertainty. I have spent many a time comforted by a sense that I have control of things, losing my mind when I felt like things were out of my hands. I've reached a point where I guess I understand that all of the really important things are out of my hands anyhow. I know we'll do all of the things we need to, our part to fix this, it goes without saying. I have faith in our ability to get past nearly anything thrown our way. So this Thanksgiving I am thankful for being in a place where I trust us. The rest will unfold however it will, but I trust us and that's the only thing I know for sure.

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Ten Signs I'm Overwhelmed

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The Post Where I Reflect on My Glory Whory Days

Chris, one of my favorite bloggers and probably one of only a handful of men who can hold my interest for more than five minutes, asked me to guest post for him. This week a lot of bloggers got all introspective and delved deep into their pasts. Chris was not immune to this reflection and asked me to use '1995' as my jumping off point. So you can find my Friday post here, if you need any extra incentive to click over, there are two embarrassing pictures of me from 1995 and one has cleavage.

Rollingstone, May 1995

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The Art of Regifting or the Post Where I Make Fun of My Mom a Little and Secretly Hope the Apple Falls Very Far From the Proverbial Tree

Several years ago, I bought my mom a scarf for Christmas. I picked it out specifically with her in mind. She's a brunette with olive skin and she looks beautiful in the scarf's browns and golds. I sent it carefully wrapped in tissue in a distinctive box. So I was fit to be tied the next Christmas when I got my scarf back as a gift. To be fair, she sent me a whole giant box of Christmas presents, most of them picked out just for me but she no doubt grabbed a few more things to fill the box and assuage my first Christmas alone and my scarf was one of them. She's my mom so of course I totally called her out on it.

"Uh, nice mom, you sent me the scarf I gave you last year. You are such a dork."

"Did no such thing, that was not the scarf you sent me, that was a different scarf."

"No, it was the exact same Jones New York, shades of autumn silk scarf, I remember because picking it out I thought about how nice it would look with your mink.”

“Uh, how'd you like the black skirt I sent you?", she said hastily changing the subject.
My mom is a terrible regifter and has given me my own presents back more than once. She has also mistakenly regifted a book that was inscribed to her and wormy chocolates, though in her defense she was in a five minute mad dash to find a Christmas gift for a unexpected guest.
My grandmother, on my mother's side, also has slightly odd habits when it comes to gift-giving. She has what we call the 'prize closet' where throughout the year, well okay, throughout the last thirty years, she has stocked with all manner of good deals. Big Lots, the Dollar Stores, Tuesday Morning, you name it, she hunts of the best bargains.

Come Christmas or birthday time, Grandma takes a trip to the closet and picks out your gift. It always warms my heart when I get two pairs of pinstriped trouser socks, utility shears and a cut glass mobile. It warms my heart because I've received this wonderful trio several years in a row. I can't tell you how valuable multiple pairs of scissors are when you live with an eight-year old and husband constantly abdicating your implements for weird eight-year old boy experiments and MacGuyveresque tool usage by the hubs.

So does the apple fall far from the tree you ask, am I also a dirty little regifter? Admittedly, I am. I am very particular and also a minimalist so if something isn't my style or in my opinion superfluous, it goes straight into the gift bin, yes I have a dedicated bin. Olive oil dipping bowls from the mother-in-law? Gift bin. The vaguely Christian trivets that implore me to 'believe', and have 'faith' yep, the gift bin. The kiwi/wild cherry body wash? Well, actually that went to the goodwill because I got a whiff of it and I wouldn't pawn that liquid evil off on anyone.

The bin is also filled with our Christmas overflow of kids presents. With multiple grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles, our kids get so many gifts it's embarrassing. If we let them at it all, we'd no doubt end up with a bunch of Veruca Salts, Daddy I want a golden egg!” So instead we shelve a chunk of them. We use them later for friends birthday presents and good report card ataboys.

So yes, I am an unapologetic regifter, but I have a system. Before they go in the bin, gifts are marked with the year received and the gifter, thus avoiding embarrassing regifts to the original giftee. Gifts are only regifted when the fit is good. The vaguely Christian trivets? Our bible thumping nanny thanked me for completing her set. The sugar cookie scented bath set, perfect fit for my young assistant. I regift out of a sense of thrift and repurposing.

This will be a difficult Christmas for far too many people. Money is tight, people are worried about their jobs, homes, and more. So eschew consumerism, that's not what Christmas was about anyway. Go out and be merry and regift with fervor. Not only is it thrifty, it's green and will surely stem the shopocalypse just a little longer. Just don't send any kiwi/wild cherry body wash my way or I'll cut you.

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Santa is My Homey

You have to click on this to see it full size. This is the actual letter I wrote to Santa in 1979, when I was a wee 6 years old. You know when I look at this kind of thing retrospectively, my take on it changes. Here's what I see now:

1. I am a giant Santa ass-kisser. How many times did I really need to tell Santa that I love him? After the second time, it just seems insincere.

2. I gave Santa way too much personal information. Of course I have blackened it out for the interwebs, don't want Santa tracking me down now.

3. My grammar and spelling are pretty much the same as they are now.

4. "I might have some cookies"? I guess even then I was a gigantic tease. "I might have some cookies," I bet Santa was thinking, "well, bitch, I might have some presents."

5. Why did I draw myself all googly eyed and retarded looking? Santa looks just fine but not my picture. Let it be known that I did not have a lazy eye growing up, that picture is wholly inaccurate.

6. Why am I dressed just like Santa? Was I perhaps posturing to be the next Mrs. Claus when Santa traded up for a younger, less "jolly" model? Yeah, I trade favors for presents, so?

7. Did I really draw feces under Rudolph? Sure looks like it.

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I Couldn't Say It Any Better

I don't often link to people. One, I'm self-absorbed and assume you want to read what I write. Two, many of us frequent the same places so if I read something great, chances are you did too.

This morning, my husband and I were arguing. It was about oatmeal and chiropractors, critical stuff really. When we get like this, we call ourselves The Bickersons. Of course we tease about it later because even with oatmeal, it sure seems important at the time.

So when I happened upon a favorite writer of mine, Strange Dark Gypsy Girl, this post summed it up. Rather than take the time to use her post as a springboard of inspiration for my own, I thought I'd just link to it because I don't think I could say it any better.

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That Special, Special Time of Year

We are coming to that magical time of year, the time that all parents look forward to with hope and expectation. Do I speak of Christmas? No, I'm talking about the time from now until Christmas when we parents get to use Santa as a threat against bad behavior.

Santa's not going to like that.

I wouldn't talk like that if I were you, you know who is watching your every move.

You think Santa likes when you wipe your nose on your sleeve?

What do you think Santa brings little boys who tease their sisters?

Go ahead, do what you want, but I'm going to have a good long talk with Santa about it.

The threat of a meager gift outpouring works wonders on my eight year old who goes to sleep each night not with visions of sugarplums but rather flight simulator video games, electric scooters and Captain Underpants books. He is beginning to ask questions about the whole Santa business. He's very logical so questions of physics and time have been asked and the answer of “magic” is wasted on him.

He's starting to catch on and I'm guessing by next year he will have finally made the transition fully. Boy is he going to be pissed when he realizes the threat of Santa was just a paper tiger. He's going to be surprised to find even we don't have control over the grandparents rampant consumerism. No matter how we plea for fewer plastic toys and more money for their college funds, the Grandparents show up each year with what looks like the entire contents of the children's section of Big Lots.

I think I'm going to start pushing the kids to ask Grandma and Grandpa for the stuff we want, summer camp for our oldest, weekends at Grandma's all around, maybe a hot tub, now that's something I could really get behind.

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She Really Sucks

Vac-Vac Bebe

This is her new favorite thing thanks to great grandma.

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50's Drug Ads, Not That Different Than Today Just Creepier

An antispasmodic and a sedative, cool. Those fifties chicks sure knew how to medicate, big on the barbiturates. It sounds calming but just looking at those creepy dolls is making me want something to take the edge off, hmmm, maybe I could ask my doc for some Butibel.

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Different Branches of the Same Tree

I have family visiting and have had little time to write. I do, however, have a few reflections on the recent family visit. 1.My grandmother makes a poppy seed cake that has always been my favorite. While she visiting, I asked her to make the cake with me so I can make it for the hubs and kids from time to time. I bought the bundt pan before she arrived but waited to buy the coveted ingredients that would make this little piece of culinary nirvana. I got a sifter, a new set of measuring implements since most of mine had fallen in the possession of the bebe. I even dusted off my Kitchen-Aid Mixer used mostly for mixing up custom concoctions for the spa. Um, the secret recipe? Betty Crocker yellow cake with some poppy seeds and a little almond flavoring. Not the secret I thought it would be. At least the frosting wasn't from a can. Frosting was one package cream cheese, a half stick of butter and two cups powdered sugar. There, that's the recipe, now you can replicate one of my fondest childhood memories.

2.My mother and I argue about politics a lot. I pretty much refuse to engage her because she is dogmatic teetering on the edge of fanaticism. She is Republican with a capital R and I am a fiscally conservative, socially liberal tree hugger. I have lived here in California for eight years now and every time she visits me or I visit her, I have to steel myself against the political discussions because I only get to see her once in awhile and don't need to waste time arguing or getting my knickers twisted. All the visits back and forth, all the times I had to implore her, please let's not talk about this, it never ends well. All the times I had to bite my tongue wanting to unleash. I always thought she couldn't help but discuss politics because she works in an environment where politics are part of her paycheck, I thought this would never change. She came out for a visit just two days after Barack Obama won the 2008 Presidential election. Guess what? She had nothing to say. I can't lie, it feels good to be on the winning team, and I didn't even get my pom-poms out around her, after all these years, I think I showed amazing restraint.
3."I like your hair much better this time than that last cut of yours," is not a compliment, maybe just say "I like your hair." 4.It's super fun getting the bebe to do all her silly baby tricks around my mom and grandma, watching them watch her is like seeing it all with a fresh set of eyes. Hearing my mom and grandma brag about how clever she is and how good natured she is makes me beam. You know babies really are the best peacemakers, maybe we should send a bunch of babies to the middle east, no?
5.It's a good thing I don't bake that often because although I love having all of my favorite grandma treats(even if they come out of a box), I have probably gained five pounds in four days. 6.My family are a bunch of frenetic hard workers, they did a days worth of work in my front garden that would have taken me weeks and my husband got to knock one thing of his honey do list by unloading some plants and digging a few holes for the big stuff.
7.Speaking of the hubs, my husband is amazing, he is so good with women it's a little scary. He spans zero-eighty-eight effortlessly, people, he does it all. I swear, almost nothing gets under that mans skin, I study him but I haven't figured out how he's does it yet.

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