Saturday, February 26, 2011

parental advice

I've always found it suspect that everyone I know over 60 is on Lipitor. It's also shady that grapefruit is off-limits when taking Lipitor. Big Macs are fine, but lay off of the grapefruit. My mom somehow discovered that the price for the 100 mg. tablets is the same as the price for the 50 mg. ones. She got herself a pill cutter and has saved herself a dollar a day by hacking the big ones in half. I casually mentioned to her that dad had come to visit and refused the grapefruit I'd proudly remembered to get for his breakfast. My parents, Susie and Peter, had a horrible 5-year divorce after a 30-year marriage. She would have let him rot in hell, but she couldn't bear the thought that he was over-paying a pharmaceutical company. Breaking a year-long silence, she called to relay her pill-chopping genius. A friend's husband has just been put on Lipitor. I told her about Lipitor-halving, and she laughed at me. She's definitely not a New Englander.

Growing up, my dad didn't have too many words of wisdom for me, but two tidbits of Peter knowledge have served me well. The first was: "If you're interviewing with a woman, put your hair up. If it's a man, wear your hair down." Last week the Philadelphia Convention Center hosted the Buyers Market of American Craft. It's been the basis for my business. Buyers come from all over the country. Craftspeople show prototypes and gallery owners place orders. I leave the show with a list of pottery to make from March to October knowing full well that re-orders will carry me through the holidays and into the following year. Before I had children I had a brain that could organize the logistics of such a list. I no longer possess that brain. For the past 3 years I have not gotten a booth at the convention center. Instead, I've invited buyers to my studio to pick work from my shelves. The lure is that there will be no discrepancy between what they pick and what I send them; they can also see how pieces look together. The demographic break down of my visitors was: 2 gay men, 3 straight husbands, and 16 women. I wore my hair up. I sold a lot of pottery.

It's both anxiety-producing and extremely gratifying when gallery owners get so swept up in the glamour of my ghetto studio that they buy work I find hideous. They dig stuff out I've tried to hide and rhapsodize about it. Sometimes I'm bellowing at them about the flaws I see in the pieces. They look at each other and shrug.

The second tidbit from Peter Kinder is: NEVER tell people things are going well. When your mother and I were divorcing I was the most popular guy in town! They ate up Susie's return to her high school sweetheart. They revelled in the collapse of my business. People loved it! It was difficult picturing my dad regaling the hapless plumber with stories about the divorce, but he likes to entertain, and he had to get HIS side out there. I have to admit; I follow his advice. Obviously too much information is my modus operendi. I was telling buyers that I no longer live in the loft upstairs because of the human poo I'd find on the stoop and I'd lit scented candles to cover up the marijuana smell from the pot heads upstairs and last week dog piss was raining down into my studio in 3 different places because they had 3 pit bulls up there. People do laugh-awkwardly as they look up at the ceiling.

I also have Susie to thank for my success last week. I wrote an e-mail to buyers right before the show saying that I'd come get them downtown and taxi them to my studio and back. I wrote, "My mom is coming to mind the kids, and I'll use her car, so you won't emerge from my "taxi" smelling like sour milk with a lolly pop stuck to your bum." It worked. I also channelled Susie when I got pulled over. I was dropping one buyer off and picking up another. I was late, so I'd taken an illegal left turn off of Market Street. I have a clean driving record, and I did not have time to get a ticket, AND, I'd left my driver's license in the studio. Susie NEVER got a ticket, and she was pulled over plenty of times. Remembering my mom's license plates I pleaded with my best Susie smile, "Officer, I am SO SORRY! I'm from Massachusetts! I didn't have any idea how to get where I need to go without taking that turn. I won't do it again!" He told me it would have been a $120 ticket and 3 points on my license and that I should be more careful.

Thank God I'd let my hair down as I'd left Rittenhouse Square.
One of Steel's ceramic creations

Friday, February 11, 2011


Welcome to vomit/diahrrea/fever week. Jack Peter and I are the only two who have not succumbed. Heather, aka extreme mom, celebrated vdf week last week. She culminated it by throwing a birthday/Superbowl party for her 1 year old, Gigi. Apparently we contracted the Ermilio family vdf. The liquids and the misery are vile and tragic, but the isolation is what gets you. You can't go swimming at the Y. You can't go on play dates. You're a shit if you take them to the Please Touch Museum. We thought Toby was on the mend yesterday, so we let her have milk and food. We were rewarded by her spewing a substance ressembling watery mayonnaise all over the kitchen. It's horrible to see a 16-month-old baby explode.

This morning I gave Toby the cereal she'd requested. I sat far away in the brown chair as she ate. She made it through the bowl. Steel was sick and still asleep, so I let Jack Peter draw. Normally I force feed him breakfast like he's a goose I'm preparing for foie gras, but I knew we weren't going to get to leave the house, so why rush? I asked him to pick up the 17 pieces of Barbaras Shredded Spoonfuls that were on the floor beneath Toby's chair. He ignored me. I asked several more times. He got up and held up the above hot pink "NO" sign he'd just drawn. I'm assuming he's been inspired by the success of the Egyptian anti-Mubarak revolution.

This morning our family was to be the subject of a lifestyle article for the Philadelphia Inquirer..."The architect in the home he designed with his potter wife and 3 children..." That's why I asked JP to pick up a little. Tim was frantically vaccuuming, stowing and cleaning toothpaste handprints off of all of the bathroom mirrors. I was trying to manage the Tobinator and wondering when I was going to get to bathe. Toby spends her mornings systematically taking books off of shelves, caps off of markers, toys out of toy chests until she has to stop to take a massive poop.

The writer and photographer arrived. His name was Chip, but the writer kept calling him Skip. I finally had to ask which it was. Uncle Johnny always says, "Who am I? Skip?" whenever he feels someone hasn't offered him a beer or food to the point that when I hear the name, Skip, I automatically assume that I'm being a poor hostess. We awkwardly cleared up the Skip/Chip confusion, but it was a jerky photoshoot. Steel was sick on the couch with a fever. She's normally camera shy, but with a fever I fully expected Skip to leave here with a black eye. The writer, Diane, finally said, "Let's just photograph the 4 of you. No one knows you have 3 kids."

Diane held a fascination for my home decor style which I will henceforth call, "grandma chic" She was admiring the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates that my Grandma Girly bought for me. I'm a December baby, so when I was in utero, Grandma was walking down the streets of New York and stopped to admire that year's Christmas plate, which incidentally has a goose on it. She bought it saying to herself, "If that baby isn't normal, I'll break this plate over my knee!" Subsequently she bought me the Christmas plate every year for my birthday. I put on a brave face when I'd see the tell-tale 8"x8"x2" box on the dining room table.

Recently my mom needed to clear them out, so here they are as well as the Norman Rockwell ones and the Audobon Woodland Series. I was told that these are "limited edition" and very valuable. I have all of the original boxes and literature. I cracked up when I went online to find that you can get them for peanuts on ebay. To Tim's chagrin I've put them up in the guestroom and the Rockwell ones were in the kids' room before operation bunkbed. I admit they're kitch, but I love them as I do Nana Kinder's watercolors and wonky antique lamps. Maybe those plates are the reason I'm a potter.

I know I'm turning into my mom. I hear it in my voice when I shout at my kids. But now I'm grappling with the reality that I'm also becoming my grandmother. Grandma Girlie was fabulously shameless. She'd ask me to pick out a dessert to take home from an all-you-can-eat buffet. A waiter would come over and dutifully wrap it up for us. She was a tiny woman, but she carried these massive purse/baskets. They had hinged wooden tops that would slam as stuff went in or out. In it she could put the black forest cake I'd selected as well as the sugar packets and creamers she'd taken from the table. She remarried a well-to-do journalist in her 70's. They were so cute and romantic. With him she became a member of exclusive clubs and had a glamorous, sable-decked, Florida life. She still nicked stuff from restaurants. The Biltmore Hotel to which they belonged had these distinctive yellow, pink and turquoise mints in a crystal punch bowl. Grandma Girlie always had a jar of them in her kitchen. I, too, am becoming a mint hoarder. I just discovered that if you microwave vanilla ice cream to soften it and stir in crushed up mints or old candy canes, you will have peppermint stick ice cream. Pregnant or not, peppermint stick ice cream is my holy grail, and it's only a seasonal thing in Philadelphia. I think of Grandma Girlie every time I thank a hostess and grab a mint for each of my kids and then a handful for my purse.

Heather, the source of the vdf disease, called today to see if we are still friends. I told her I was just about to stick pins in the eyes of the voo doo doll I'd made of her. She had just taken 2 girls on a Sam's Club shopping trip. Big box shopping with children should be an olympic event. She'd had to open cookies, fruit and a roast chicken to make it through. When she went to pay, she didn't have the right credit card, so she was on her way to another grocery store to re do the entire shopping trip. I told her I'd send voo doo doll to a spa with stinky snatch barbie.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

faucets on my mind

It's only Thursday, and we've achieved another bed wetting hat trick. Kids are human leaky faucets. Some people are "food insecure." I'm sleep-insecure. I hunch my shoulders all night long in fear of being awakened. When I unfold in the morning, I can't turn my head to the left; or I can't pour from a gallon of milk because my wrist is tweaked from making a fist all night long. What would be the sleep version of going to McDonald's? Whatever it is, I'm going to start doing it.

It started last Friday when we went to the trouble to get a sitter to attend a fabulous gay dinner party. We were drunk and torturing guests with videos of our kids within 2 hours of our arrival. I was drinking Jim Beam like water.

It didn't help that I went to the studio after the party to turn on a kiln and spent an hour there admiring the new work I'd just unloaded. At that moment I was the Michael Phelps of potters. I have a new vase shape that I love. It is a long-sought-after response to Howard's request for a vase that would "make those cheap grocery store bouquets look good." A while ago, I was trimming a deep bowl, and it flew off of the wheel. It smushed gracefully into a cool shape, and I've perfected it now. So, Howard, when you get your Trader Joe's bouquet, throw away the vile greenery, thin out and cut down those trashy mums and daisies, fan them out in an elliptical vase, artfully place the almost-wilted lily, rose and/or Gerbera daisy, and they look pretty great. You might even get laid when you've gone to the trouble to get flowers and make dinner. I went to bed at 2 and was awakened by Toby at 5. Andrew, my fabulous, gay dinner host...texted me to see how I was faring the next morning...Hung like a horse was my obvious response.

A great segue to mentioning our previous Saturday's family outing to go to Sports Authority to get Tim an athletic cup. It's exciting to be married to someone who has to wear an athletic cup. I told him he had to get in shape after the last miscarriage, so he's started a kickboxing class, Muay Thai, that involves a lot of jumping rope and push ups. Who knows where the athletic cup comes in. I don't know where I get off telling him he has to get in shape. The kids and I were at the YMCA on Monday getting dressed after swim class. The locker room is about 43 degrees, so I dress them first while they sing loud songs about their butts and their collective penis-unless they're distracted by the need to tell a 250 lb woman that she has a big butt. I've resorted to putting them on top of the lockers to keep them from fooling around while I dress. Monday they sat on their perch, unable to move, arguing over whether my butt was jiggling while I put on my lotion. Steel said it definitely was while Jack Peter vehemently denied it.

The kids' constant singing is challenging sometimes. Toby is already humming "Red River Valley" on her own. All of the "My butt" "My penis" or "I farted" songs become manageable when I hear the following song. It was written by Chris, the head of our daycare. My kids are hanging out all day with people who write Madonna songs about plumbing. How could my life be any better?

To be sung to Madonna's "Like a Virgin"

I put the pipes together
with an elbow joint or two
a pipe for hot and a pipe for cold
That's just what I do....

You need a bath
I've got a tub
you need water
well I've got the pipes, and I'll hook them up

I'll hook them up
All shiny and new

Like a plumber
Plumbing for the very first time
Like a plu uh uh uh mer
Got your faucets on my mind