My mother needed her Christmas card list updated because – well there’s no gentle way to put it – because her friends keep dying. Since I printed her address labels the year after my dad died, the maintenance of her Christmas card list is a job that now belongs to me.
I thought it would make things more simple if I printed up a paper version of the labels and sent it to my mom so she could make her corrections and mail it back to me.
But no, she insisted we do it by phone. This morning she called with her changes. I held my copy of the printed labels while my mother held hers, and we proceeded to discuss each and every one of the 45 names listed, whether they needed changing or not.
Mother: Mrs. John Bonham, yes that’s right because John died two years ago so it is correct it’s just her. And okay Mrs. Richard Burke, that’s good, that’s still correct. Mrs. Jill Carlin, yes that’s fine.
Me: Mother, can you just tell me the ones that aren’t correct? Perhaps that would make things go quicker?
Mother: Oh, okay, you prefer to do it that way?
Me: Yes, yes I would.
I’ve signed on to do book reviews for the New York Journal of Books. Here is my first! It’s on Aasif Mandvi’s essay collection, No Land’s Man
Perhaps you know Aasif Mandvi from The Daily Show. I didn’t, however. Because I rarely watch The Daily Show. I know I shouldn’t admit that. It make me unhip. I always intend to watch it, but then I forget. Anyway, I had never heard of this guy before. Which is probably good because that made me unbiased, right?
Let me know what you think. By the way, writing in the third person is hard, it turns out.
No Land’s Man by Aasif Mandvi
If you are looking for behind-the-scenes dish about The Daily Show, you won’t find it in Aasif Mandvi’s collection of essays, No Land’s Man. But what you’ll find instead are fascinating and funny tales about Mandvi’s childhood, South Asian family, and acting career—all told with rich description and an engaging, self-deprecating humor.
Mandvi, the “Senior Muslim Correspondent” for The Daily Show, begins his story with the realization that even though he had just completed a one-man show, “Sakina’s Restaurant,” about being an immigrant in America, the experience left him with a greater desire for more self-exploration.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Is it time for the holidays already? No. It’s Bulky Item Trash Pick-up week!
I can hardly contain my excitement whenever I receive the postcard from the rubbish company announcing that we can put our oversized trash items at the curb and they will magically be picked up. No questions asked. No extra fee. What a wonderful thing!
It’s so satisfying getting rid of old stuff. I find it truly liberating whenever I purge these unwanted items from my home. I like to put on my gardening gloves and drag to the curb those miscellaneous pieces of lumber, errant cement blocks, and rusted pieces of patio furniture that have been stacked up next to the trash cans. And something about them being labeled as “Bulky Trash” makes them even more repellent.
Go away bulky trash! I banish you from our home!
I look forward to this week for another reason too. I am, apparently, a bit of a scavenger. Okay, some might call me a dumpster diver. Whatever. Guilty as charged.
Your dad called me at work and said that you said I forgot to teach you how to do laundry. Perhaps you think it was some sort of parental failing on my part, but actually it was intentional. I washed your clothes for the past eighteen years so you could spend your time on more important things like studying, resume building, and improving your social ranking on the Kardashian app.
But since you are leaving for the dorms tomorrow, it’s time to learn. Here is a simple set of instructions.
1. First, check the label of anything expensive or fancy to see if it needs to be dry-cleaned. Set garment aside. On second thought, forget that. You can’t afford dry-cleaning. Why did we even buy something that’s dry-clean only? Let’s donate it and take the tax write off. We need the money to pay for that college.
2. Next, separate DARKS from WHITES. Okay, go ahead and say it, I’ll just wait. “That’s so racist!” Hah! That never gets old. You kids are so clever. Now back to it. Blues, greys, blacks, purples go in one dark pile. Reds, oranges, and pinks go in another. That’s your RED pile. White’s go in a separate pile – a separate but unequal pile. Why are they unequal? Because they need bleach. But we’ll get to that later.
7A – Wake and have breakfast with bleary-eyed Kid #1 who has not seen this hour, or any time close to it, since school ended two weeks earlier.
8A – Drop Kid #1 at Girl Scout sponsored nature park clean up. Speed off in car leaving behind giant cloud of dust and pretend that I don’t hear other mom’s last minute request for “extra hands.”
8:30A – Return home and get breakfast for Kid #2 and Kid #3, dog and cat.
9:20A – Drop DVD rentals at video store including dreadful one kids insisted upon starring a fangless, yet still sullen, Robert Pattinson. Regret wasting $5.00 yet delight in “I told you so” afterglow.
Kristen Hansen Brakeman:
Check out Forrest Brakeman’s blog! (yes, my husband)
“Trendy Trendy Culver City”
You don’t need to have ever been there to understand.
Originally posted on Forrest Brakeman:
One current jewel of the great Southern California Basin is trendy, trendy Culver City, located near the Eastern border checkpoints blocking the way into the desirable West Side.
If you bypass Checkpoint Charlie, and sneak in through the still active oil fields of Baldwin Hills, you can find this hip and in-demand town firmly nestled in the armpit of the Santa Monica Freeway and the San Diego Freeway, two of the most heavily travelled roads in the country, making it impossible to get to or from trendy, trendy Culver City.
Originally occupied by the Tongva-Gabrielino originals for over 8,000 years, the area was taken by the people who deserved it more, and developed by Harry Culver, who coined the phrase “All Roads Lead To Culver City,” which in fact was not even close to true at the time – it was in the middle of nowhere.
But before long, the…
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Almost two years had passed since I’d begrudgingly welcomed a dragon breath, mangy furred, one-eyed shaky little mutt into our home.
We inherited Chopper from my in-laws who, in a final display of their wicked sense of humor, left us their smelly, obese, geriatric dog instead of a palatial estate.
I didn’t really want him. After all, I had already welcomed three kids, a cat, and my devoted German shepherd mix, Buddy, into my heart and home. There was no room for more.
But the little dog needed a place to live, and given his age and poor health, I figured it would only be for a few months anyway, so I agreed. Continue reading
My friends and I were pretty stressed out from overseeing the whole college application thing and needed a boozy night to decompress.
So one of my good friends offered to host a small cocktail party where we could share information, compare notes, and let’s be honest, complain about our kids. After inserting a drink into my hand , our lovely host told me that she had hired a masseuse friend of hers to provide free mini-massages to help relieve our stress.
“Oh that’s, fantastic!” I said, lying through my teeth.
In truth, just the idea of getting a massage made me even more stressed out and instantly uptight. I’m not sure why, but I’ve never enjoyed getting massages from strangers. I guess I just can’t relax, and any pleasure I feel is offset by my overwhelming angst.
Hey, I’m big in Germany !
My 10 Parenting Tips The Experts Won’t Tell You column was on Huffington Post Parents and then got translated for the German version of Huffington Post. For some reason I find this thrilling!
Check it out here -
And the English version here
Also – I wrote a piece for LitFactor – about trying to get published. It’s called “Writers Write and Other Lies” Check it out here!
After this post, I promise not to jaw on about writing anymore and actually do some.
I was asked to participate in a Q and A about writing by the good people at WordPress.
Check it out here!