[about the author]
i actually like speaking in front of large crowds. freakish,
i work crossword puzzles in ink.
i am the american nigella lawson. or maybe the american eddie
izzard. can't decide, really.
i would be a really good mom, but i'm cool with being a really
i am sometimes more perceptive than i would like to be.
i am fiercely loyal. sometimes, stupidly so.
i never play dumb. never.
i am way too hard on myself.
i am a change agent.
i sometimes cross that fine line between assertive and aggressive.
i am not afraid to tell people that i love them.
i am militantly pro-choice.
i am pro-adoption.
i know a little bit about alot of things.
i typically enjoy the company of men more than women.
i am capable of being really mean and nasty, but i fight it.
i am a lifelong cubs fan. do not laugh.
i have been known to hold a grudge.
i have hips.
i am not my sister.
i am lousy at forgiving myself.
i am an indoor kind of gal.
i am a bargain shopper. to the point of obsession.
i am 32 flavors. and then some.
breaking the news
most of you know that, as far as my family is concerned, this blog has been my dirty little secret. no one in my family knew about said blog. no one in my family had ever read said blog.
and i liked it like that.
however, it’s hard to share your excitement at even the most remote prospect that your name might appear in print in the washington post without explaining how something so amazing came to be a possibility.
so, i say to my mom, “hey, mom, a pretty cool thing happened, and i’m really excited about it, even though i’m trying not to get overly excited so i won’t be inconsolable if nothing actually comes of it.”
my mom stares at me. she’s folding my underwear. i have no idea why mothers have this need. this compulsion. i’m a grown-ass woman perfectly capable of paying bills, and wearing matching socks, and holding down a full-time job…albeit a crap-ass unfulfilling full-time job. what is it that makes my mother think that when she comes to visit she needs to:
- clean my bathroom floors. keeping in mind that she does so like some sort of ocd lab technician with an inexplicable aversion to modern cleaning tools, like, say mops. the end result being, i walk into my bedroom where my sister is flounced on my bed, reading instyle and i say, “where’s mom?” and she is totally nonplussed as she says, “she’s scrubbing your bathroom floor,” and i go in to find her on her hands and knees with an actual scrub brush in her hand. this is a mystery to me.
- do my laundry. sorting, washing, drying, ironing, folding. even worrying that, and i quote, “i want to make sure i fold your towels the way you like them folded. so, how do you like your towels folded?” to which i can honestly respond, “mom, i have no earthly idea how i like my towels folded. you decide for me.” then, my mom sighs, as if to say, "my poor daughter. wandering aimlessly through life with no idea how she likes her towels folded. where did i go wrong?"
- wash my dishes. by hand. and dry them. with a towel. despite the repeated effort on my part to explain to her that the large appliance mounted under the counter will actually wash the dishes for us. “oh, it’s just as fast to do them myself.” see, i never understood that speed was the determining factor in this equation. i always assumed it was just the fact that the dishwasher did the work for you. i mean, i've got time. i can wait the 30 minutes to get the clean glasses without having to wash them myself. really.
at any rate, my mom stops folding my underwear and stares at me.
“so, are you going to tell me what the thing is? have you decided to be a lesbian?”
this is a familiar refrain in my family.
at the risk of invoking stereotypes, i’ll just say that the following issues have resulted in me being asked “the lesbian question” more than a few times over the years:
- i wear overalls. a lot.
- with my overalls, i sometimes wear birkenstocks. with socks.
- with my overalls and birkenstocks and socks, i often wear a baseball cap.
- while wearing my overalls, birkenstocks, socks and baseball cap, i drive a standard-shift suv.
- when i’m driving my suv while wearing my overalls, birkenstocks, socks and baseball cap, i sometimes sing along with indigo girls.
- i may have mentioned once or twice at family holiday gatherings that thing about how i thought gina gershon was really hot, and that i would totally kiss her on the mouth.
“no, mom, still not a lesbian. not even bisexual. but i’m glad that we’re all so open to the idea in case i do ever decide to explore an alternative lifestyle.”
“well, your grandmother will be relieved.”
“anyway, mom, the cool thing is that i got an email from an editor at the washington post and i might have a chance to do some freelance writing."
“well, this is a goddamn easter miracle. thank you, lord. finally.”
see, my mom has always encouraged me to “do something with [my] writing.” so, i really wanted to share this with her.
“wait a minute,” she pauses mid thong-fold. “did you submit some samples to them or something?”
“well, no. not exactly. i mean…no.”
“so, how did they get in touch with you?”
“it’s a funny thing, mom. see, i actually have this web page. on the internet. and, um, i write there. and, someone read my stuff, and then there was the tiniest bit of shameless self-promotion and begging, and then, voila! the possibility of an opportunity!”
“a web page? so, other people read your writing?”
“yep. not a lot of people, really. i mean, a lot to me, but, compared to other people’s pages, not a lot, really, and, really, i think it’s amazing that anyone reads my stuff at all, i mean, i’d be glad if even, like, three people ever read anything i wrote, and…”
“stop it. you’re rambling. you’re not even making any sense. there’s something you’re not telling me. what is it…”
and then she did it.
she invoked the middle name.
now, when a mother invokes the middle name, there’s no turning back. there’s no weaseling out. she means business. and you’re going to fess up to whatever it is, mister man. the middle name has a mystical power. it’s not a thing to be taken lightly.
“well, um, i just…well, i should probably tell you that…i mean, it’s just that…well, it’s the stuff that i write.”
“what are you talking about ‘the stuff’ you write? are you writing some kind of porno? is this some sort of penthouse forum website or something?”
“no, it’s not like that. it’s just that it’s not fiction. it’s all true stories.”
“you mean, it’s true porno?! stuff you’ve really done?! like, sex stuff?!”
“mom! it’s not porno. it’s just non-fiction. and, i just wasn’t sure if you’d be upset by that.”
“upset? why would i be upset? i'm just surprised that you're writing non-fiction. wait a minute. what kind of true stories are you telling these people? give me an example of a story that you put up on your page that you think i might be upset about.”
“well…okay. remember that time grandpa died?”
“yes, honey, as a matter of fact, i do remember that one time grandpa died. now, quit stalling.”
“well, i wrote about how i spilled him in the volare and you swept him up in the dust buster.”
“holy shit! you did not write that! you did not tell anyone about that! total strangers know about that?! oh my god, oh my god. i can’t believe you told people about that!”
“well, if it’s any consolation, i think the story turned out rather well. it was well-received. quite a few people commented on it.”
“oh my god, so people did actually read it. our names aren’t anywhere on that page are they? you’re going to be in a world of trouble if our names are anywhere on there.”
i'm thinking that my mom must think that she can still ground me or something. or maybe she's just going to stop folding my underwear. that'll teach me. serve me right. or maybe she'll just fold all my towels the wrong way. still, i do feel kind of bad that she's not exactly excited that i made her, and her dust buster, internet-famous.
“so, you’re not really focused on the whole being-excited-about-my-writing-being-appreciated thing anymore, huh?”
“well, you’d better not have told them about the time i got bitten in the ass by that damn raccoon your dad brought home.”
“don’t worry, mom. your secret is safe with me.”
“well, okay. and, yes, honey, i am very very proud of you. i love you.”
“love you too, mom.”
“and you'd better not tell that story about the time your dad killed that bear out of season and put the head in the freezer in the garage, and didn’t tell me about any of it. and then the dnr enforcement officers came to the house one afternoon when your dad wasn't home and asked me about it and i swore he hadn’t killed a bear, because, you know, i didn’t know he had, and they asked to search our refrigerator and our freezer and i agreed, and then i took them out to the garage freezer and opened it up and there it was, a frozen bear head sitting right there on top of everything, just as plain as day. i thought i was going to kill you dad.”
“oh, god, mom, i wouldn’t dream of telling that one.”
“i really am proud of you, honey.”
"don't tell anyone about your uncle david, either."
"oh. well, we might be a bit late for that."
"goddammit, julia rené!"
| [tell me about it] | [link to this entry]