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December 2013
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January 2014

I Shall Call It Outlook On Overlook

Whether or not you are a fan of the works of Stephen King (I remember I once waxed especially pretentious in college as I asserted that he might be a good storyteller but he is a mediocre writer - god) it is impossible to dispute that he holds an essential place in the canon of horror. The Shining in particular demands attention and between analyses of the book and critiques of the movie there have been literally thousands of papers on the subject; there is even a movie about the different ways the film is perceived.

So I think it is amazing that no one - perhaps not even King or Kubrick themselves - understands what truly makes The Shining so very very scary. It's not the creepy twins or the naked lady who turns green and melts. It's not REDRUM or the grinning maniac with an axe hunting down his own family either. What makes The Shining so haunting, so horrifying, so sinister is that it slices to the very depth of human existence and lays bare that which the soul most fears: at its heart The Shining is a story about parents trapped with their child on a Snow Day that never ends.

Yeah, I know. Minor chord, minor chord, minor choooooooord.

You will have to wait until the snow melts to read my treatise on the subject but the key issues I plan to address are these: if the child was away from home being educated would not Jack have been able to sit down at his typewriter with a cup of tea and actually write his post novel without having to stop every five minutes because he had to help get two Legos apart? Can we stress too strongly the fact that had Danny been at school day in and day out like I was when I was a girl (uphill. both ways) his father would not have had to break off mid-thought (again) to point out that since they have roughly five miles of hallway perhaps Danny could go ride his tricycle somewhere other than around and around his desk? Is there any other reason for chopping through a door beyond the extreme provocation of having to ask repeatedly that his son and the ghost twins stop jumping on each other whilst screaming? In short, would Jack have descended into madness if he had been able to slap some boots on the kid and send the little lump of sucking need to school?

Yes, no, no and, most profoundly, no.

PS My children have now been home for at least a chunk of every week since the middle of December and I am gibbering. Gibbering! I tell you. And I know I am fortunate in this instance because it's not like I have a job or anything else to do besides interact with my belovable children every five seconds. Without cease. Every day. For weeks on end. It's an introvert's dream right there, I'll tell you what. But still... while I might be drinking more wine than usual in the evening at least I am not scrambling to come up with childcare as they cancel school - AGAIN - because it is too cold in Minnesota. Too cold! In Minnesota! I feel for everyone who smacked their foreheads against the wall when the call came last night and I would offer to let you drop your kids off at my house but at this point I also seem to be sympathizing with the guy with an axe so... there are probably better options.

X's For Eyes

I have had my embarrassing moments.

There was the time in preschool when my best friend's mother walked into the room just as I started to kinda strangle my friend. Her mom sent me home.

There was the time my second grade teacher stopped in the middle of circle-time and said, "Julie, nice little girls don't touch their underpants in public." (I had a UTI! Really.)

There was the time in high school when I was so instantly smitten with a blind-date (he was blond, he was a senior, he liked Roxy Music and he was about to leave for Yale) that I got a little over-anxious in my attempt to dazzle him and drank a gallon and a half of peach wine cooler before I threw up all over the front seat of his (nice) (new) car. Four times.

Once I tripped going up a flight of stairs at DC's verrrrry fanciest restaurant and then slid all the way back down with my dress over my head and once I tripped going down at one of DC's slummiest bars, somersauted to the landing, stood up, lost my balance again and tumbled down the next flight.

And - most cringeworthy of all - one 'I have something to tell you' conversation ended with: "I think I am falling in love with you" and he said, "I should have told you I live with my girlfriend. We're moving to Denver. "

So I am no stranger to humiliation and yet today...

Patrick climbed into the car after school and said, "We need to talk."

This could, literally, have meant anything so I said, "OK. Sure."

He said, "Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is for me to go into my Kindle and have to scroll through screen after screen of book covers with half-naked men and more than half-naked women before I can play Angry Birds Space? VERY. It is VERY embarrassing. I don't even want to bring it for silent reading any more."

I said, "      ."

He went on, "I mean, seriously. If I see another guy wearing a tiny Scottish skirt and nothing else I am going to be permanently scarred. Permanently."

So, two things. No, three.

1. If you have multiple Kindles registered to the same Amazon account did you know that every new purchase shows up in the carousel of every Kindle? Yeah, me neither!


3. I am dead. One of the great benefits of the Kindle, I thought, is that you can go anywhere and read anything and as long as you look thoughtful and chew the stem of your glasses every now and then people will assume you are reading Foucault rather than, say, The Highlander's Devil Bride. And yet every new purchase I have made in the dead-of-past-ten o'clock has being showing up on Patrick's Kindle. For YEARS. I was so embarrassed that I died and now I am dead.

PS Oooh this is a good time to share stories of past humiliations. I'll go get my wine and a cookie. I made more cookies.

Her Father's Daughter

Edward just asked if he can have another cookie, too.

I said, "... wait, what do you mean, 'too'?" and went into the living room where I found Caroline eating the very last chocolate chip cookie, the one that I had tucked behind the toaster for later.

"Caroline!" I said and she gave a guilty start.

"Oh, whoops-a-daisy!" she said. Then she looked at her hand as if she had never seen it before and asked, "Am I eating a cookie?" 

Then she said, "Sorrrrry" sounding utterly insincere and yet somehow vaguely Canadian. Then she ate the rest of the cookie in one bite, smiled and said, "Sorry!" again.

"Caroline!" I repeated and I ticked off her transgressions on my fingers: "First, you know you need to ask permission. Second, you've already had a cookie and I told you that was it. Third, you've already brushed your teeth. Fourth, no food in the living room and fifth ..." I held up my hand "that was my cookie. I didn't get one earlier and now you have eaten them all."

Caroline arranged her features into something resembling both remorse and concern.

"The thing is, Mommy," she confided. "I like saying 'I'm sorry' much more than I like saying 'please.'"

PS Today marked Patrick's twenty-fifth day home from school.

Two Five, people.

First he was sick, then he was still sick, after that was winter break followed by a bit of a relapse and then they've closed all the schools for two days because we are being sucked in by a vortex of Arctic something... muskox? All I know is that I feel like I have been within 100 yards of my child(ren) without cease for over three weeks and while every single moment of motherhood is transcendent... I cannot finish this sentence.

There are no words to describe how profoundly grateful I am that they will all return to their respective halls of learning tomorrow.

PPS How cold was it at my house? An excellent question and one that I am unfortunately unable to answer since apparently Steve's desktop weather station stops recording below -24. So it was at least -25 on my porch yesterday.

Even hot-blooded Caroline was affected


although this picture is a bit misleading because despite the balaclava and fuzzy slippers, under the robe she is wearing a tanktop and a pair of shorts.

PPPS I gave Edward a fig newton. He felt cheated but hell, so did I.


I just spent two hours writing a post only to have it disappear moments before I finished it. This is the third attempt because the second version was just the letters my forehead hit as I slammed it against the keyboard. I give up. For now. But hello and Happy New Year and the twins turned six.


Six! Good heavens.