Tuesdays with Murray (Chapter 30)

Murray is fodder for hundreds of stories. But for whatever reason, the stories that make us laugh the most – the things that stop us dead in our tracks, uproot our days with comedic relief – have to do with food. To be honest, I’m not sure if these stories are even remotely funny when they stand alone. I think it’s whenever you put them together that they begin to individually stand out a bit more, warrant a chuckle or two.

And so today I have yet another story about Murray stealing food.

TobyJoe went away on business last week and since I am having some trouble holding it together these days, my mother came to the city to keep Emory and me company. She came bearing cookies and soup. She even watched Emory for a few hours so I could attend a yoga class. What more can a gal ask for?

On Wednesday night, we were sitting on the sofa talking and snacking when a loud THUMP! echoed throughout the kitchen.

“What was that?” I asked.

“I’m not sure.” She answered.

“Shit! Where’s the cat?”

The moment the word “cat” came out of my mouth, but before I could get up from the couch, Murray rounded the corner carrying the entire bag of cookies my mother so kindly baked and brought along with her. (The picture below was taken after the fact. He reenacted it for me today with a much lighter bag because he’s Murray; he’s predictable yet totally bonkers.)

We made eye-contact, the cat and I.

The bag of cookies was difficult for him to carry around in his mouth. They weren’t nearly as difficult to carry as the sack of diapers he decided to move from below Emory’s crib to under our bed a couple months back, but the bag was still unruly. In order for Murray to carry these heavy things, he walks with his two front legs really far apart so he won’t trip as the loot can swings freely from side-to-side. There is nothing funnier than watching a small cat walk like he has a giant load in his pants.

“MURRAY!” I yelled out from across the room. My angry voice was spiked with laughter and did nothing to convince the small creature to drop what he had stolen. Instead, he began to trot, his legs spread even further apart, and he ran directly under the sofa with the bag and (most) of the cookies in tact.

My mother and I laughed heartily. And methinks that Ziplock is missing one hell of a advertising campaign here.

(P.S. Murray is for hire.)

Mama and Baby Yoga? Never Again.

I’ve done some dumb things in my time. There was that time I slathered myself in Crisco while living in Raleigh and tried to suntan. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Instead I ended up with second degree burns and skin cancer. There was also that time in college that I did my final Women’s Studies presentation on pornography. That may not sound very stupid except for the fact that my stance was pro pornography. It seemed like a good idea at the time and I still stand by many of the points I made, but that’s a post for another day. That was the only D I ever got.

So, yeah, I’ve done some dumb things and every one of them can be summed up retrospectively with one phrase: “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Yesterday, I added something to that list. You see, my regular yoga studio (the one I visit four times a week, and I will continue to visit until we move away) offers a Mom and Baby yoga class. “BRING YOUR BABY TO CLASS? What a great idea!” I thought. And so yesterday, I bundled Emory up, put a diaper bag together, grabbed a bottle, and headed out to attend our first ever mother/baby yoga class, because, hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

And it is a good idea. The class is a great idea for mothers with babies who don’t continually need to be talked to and sung to. The class is perfect for mothers who don’t have babies who want to be walked around a lot. And it’s a great idea for mothers who don’t have babies who insist that they stand on two feet all the time. Mothers who breastfeed will feel right at home. Mothers who feed their baby from a bottle will feel out of place. Mothers who use a pacifier will feel badly for doing so. Mothers who have a baby who is forever curious, a baby who refuses to sleep until sleep sneaks up behind him and knocks him out, will have trouble relaxing.

I should have known the moment I saw several other mothers filing into the studio carrying their babies in the Bjorn facing in and covered up entirely with blankets that it may not be a good idea for this mother and baby combination. There is no way Emory would ever allow for such a thing. Emory must face out at all times. Emory doesn’t care how cold it is outside or what wet stuff is falling from the sky, Emory must see what is before him.

But I really wanted this to work and for the first few minutes, I thought that it might. Emory smiled at everyone. “Where AM I?!” his eyeballs asked. “WHAT EXCITING PLACE HAVE YOU TAKEN ME?” I got set up while he looked around, taking everything in, everyone. This could work! And then class began and we were asked to place our babies on their backs. That’s when the teacher broke Emory’s rule number one.

1). THOU SHALT NOT LIE BABY ON BABY’S BACK.

Then teacher did something even more insane; she asked that we let our babies do their own thing for a minute or two while we do some yoga solo. And that’s when she broke rule number two.

2). THOU SHALT NOT IGNORE BABY. IF THOU IGNORES BABY, IT BEST NOT BE WHILE BREAKING RULE NUMBER 1.

But the other babies were fine with this, well, all but two: mine and another baby boy.

There was another boy there at the beginning of class who was doing some pretty killer commando moves across the sheen yoga floor. He could not crawl, but he made a valiant effort getting around. And like a drunk inchworm, he did just that. His mother spent the first fifteen minutes chasing her son around. And then guess what? She left. Just like that, she got up and left. Can you believe that? She is my hero.

My son did not do well with the whole “mama does some yoga while baby chills on the floor alone”. And if I were to guess what Emory wanted to say to me, I’d say he wanted to say the following: “Mom, you took me out today, which I thank you for. I like to see stuff. We entered this cool place and I was surrounded by ladies, and you know how much I like ladies and the longer the hair the better. And some of those ladies had such long hair! And I was happy. But you immediately took me out of the Bjorn, away from all these long haired ladies and put me on the floor? Unforgivable. I shall now scream.”

At one point, in a desperate attempt to actually get some yoga done, I gave him a pacifier. That’s when I felt like I broke rule number one as a mother. While we were doing something interactive work with our babies, Emory let everyone know he was pleased by this and began making screeching monkey sounds. Right after Emory freed one of his ear-piercing screams (through the pacifier, mind you) the teacher said something like, “Was that your little one? Babies normally can’t make that type of noise through a pacifier!” I felt like I muzzled up one of Michael Vick’s pit bulls and brought it to a playdate for a bunch of well-behaved, toy poodles.

I spent the majority of the hour and fifteen minutes entertaining Emory, which is exactly what I do every day, only this time we were in public and we were supposed to be doing yoga. I spent the rest of the time fighting off a massive bout of insecurity especially during Savasana (relaxation pose, happens at the very end) when it was suggested that everyone lie on their sides and breastfeed their babies. (I had a lot of trouble and heartache trying to breast feed, which is why I pumped exclusively for 5 months.) Instead of breast feeding, I sat upright with my baby and fed him from a bottle. And whenever the teacher came around and suggested I try and relax Emory began to fake cough, which made me feel like I brought the sick kid to school. The teacher placed a block beneath my arm (very nice of her) and we sat there as silently as we could and listened to a hushed chorus of suckling babies.

Emory and I did not enjoy mama/baby yoga, not at all. Instead, I left more stressed out than I was before I arrived and Emory was upset with me because I didn’t let him run his fingers through the teacher’s long, curly hair. Plus, the car nearly ran out of gas and I left my yoga mat on the side of the road.

This dynamic duo will have to find some other way to bond… like maybe mud-wrestling.

NowBlowPoMe: 4 Out of 5 Doctors' Wives Agree. It's a Good Show.

I used to work for doctors. Well, I worked with doctors who acted as consultants on projects designed for other doctors. But they were doctors. They had letters like MD stuck to the end of their name.

One day I was given a simple task: design a magazine spread and a tables of contents. For the spreads I used Lorem Ipsum. Lorem Ipsum is used so that the client doesn’t get distracted by the content and instead focuses on the design. For the TOC, I came up with fake article and doctor names. I have done this before. I always just put down whatever comes to mind. I added the following name to the TOC.

Side-Effects
By Dr Drake Ramoray

The comp was printed and then Fed-Ex’ed for morning delivery.

Later the next day my client called to review the designs. We discussed the spread and then moved on to the tables of contents.

“I see you’re a fan of Friends,” remarked my client. He immediately added, “My wife pointed it out to me. She watches the show, too.”

Sure, maybe he and his wife worked together. Or maybe he met her for lunch and brought the designs with him to get her opinion. And perhaps they went out for SANDWICHES! It’s possible, sure. Also possible? He watched Friends along with nearly every other person in America.


Part of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), where one writes every day for the month of November, which is easier said than done.

Yes, Michele. Yes, You Can.

If you’ve been reading this Web site for a while you probably already know that I don’t hold too much back. I will write about almost anything personal, the more self-depricating the better. I like to admit to the ridiculous and embarrassing things I did as a kid, like this. I even posted a story I wrote as a kid, a story filled with atrocious grammar and spelling. (Nothing’s really changed there, am I right?)

Why is this important? Because when it comes to the pictures I have featured today, I am truly embarrassed for myself. And because I’m so embarrassed by them, I decided that this was going to be my biggest test yet. And so I have asked myself, “Can you post some of your most embarrassing photographs, Michele? Can you?”

Yes, Michele. Yes, you can.

THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL YEARS

(Descriptions, if any, are above each picture.)

I think I looked pretty cute at age 6.

And then things went down hill. At least with the hair.

Here is a comparison of 1980 to 1981 and then 1981 to 1982.

This was taken during my stint as a kid model for NASCAR.

This was taken at the peak of my Xanadu obsession.

Right before I had that overbite fixed. I swear, my parents are not related.

MIDDLE SCHOOL

I’m the second girl in from the right, second row. Just kidding. She’s much prettier.

This was taken in Raleigh. You can probably tell because of the frizz.

Poor Nina, competing with my hair.

HIGH SCHOOL

I am not sure what to say about these.

A big WTF to my eyebrows and me for sure. But I think the photographer deserves a WTF as well. I mean, who am I? Elizabeth Taylor? No, you don’t need glasses.

AND THE WINNER IS

This is my most embarrassing picture ever. It was taken when I was 13-years-old. I used to take dance. I was a terrible dancer already and then they had to go and do this. TobyJoe saw this picture and said to my mother, “Well, Diane, you’re only getting one grandkid from us.”

Let’s hope I’m like fine wine because wow.

A Serious Talk

Yesterday Tobyjoe and I had a talk with Emory intermittently over the course of an hour. We were at a local tapas restaurant in Williamsburg. We sat outside and sipped a glass of wine while they pumped music into the garden.

Grace Slick came on and Toby said, “Emory, people think this woman is cool. She was weird and was on drugs when she sang ‘White Rabbit.’”

A little while later “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys came on and I sang the first bit of it to him. And then I took this picture:

And then I said, “Emory, mama grew up listening to this band. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that The Beach Boys are no good. That person doesn’t know squat.”

And then R.E.M came on and I looked at Emory and I said, “This is one of your mother’s faaaaavorite bands. Mr. Stipe got her through a lot of rough times. In fact, if Michael weren’t named “Michael”, you could have been named after him. Also, If anyone ever tells you ‘they liked this band or that band before they became popular’, you shouldn’t have anything more to do with that person; they are afraid to think for themselves.”

As we were leaving, Tobyjoe headed to the bathroom and then Michael Jackson came on. And I said, “Emory, Mr. Jackson wrote some great music and then he got weird and then whiter and then weirder and whiter…. it’s best little boys to stay away from Michael Jackson.”

I Blame America!

Before I begin, I need to make it clear that I’m not concerned about this. And I certainly do not pity myself. I think I made some really bad decisions when I was younger and I’m paying for them now.

I’m pale. I’m covered in freckles some of which are questionable. I make an excellent candidate for skin cancer especially considering what I put my body through during my impressionable teenage years. I wanted a tan so badly back then. I lived in North Carolina at the time. And that’s what girls did, they worked on their tans each and every summer. I am not a tanner. I’ve never been a tanner. I will never be a tanner. But I tried. I tried tanning oil, excessive amounts. I burned to a crisp like a fried potato. I tried baby oil. Burned. When that proved ineffective, I smothered myself in Crisco. Yes, it’s true. Caryn and I covered ourselves in vegetable shortening. All four of my best girlfriends had tans and they barely had to try. I was the only one who burned. And did I ever burn! There were times my skin actually bubbled. And then it’d peel. It was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done to my body. (Well, that was before I started smoking [I’ve since quit], so, it was the second dumbest thing I’ve ever done to my body.)

My search for a tan never amounted to anything. I just burned and peeled and then burned some more. One time I fell asleep in the sun and woke up to two swollen ankles dotted in blisters. I was so stupid.

During my pregnancy, certain weird skin things took shape. I read that this might happen, that pregnancy can bring with it skin tags, new moles, dark spots. Hormones can pretty much do anything they want to when you’re pregnant. I was warned and so yesterday I had an appointment with a dermatologist. It’s been an appointment I have been putting off for over a decade.

There was one spot that showed up during my pregnancy that was particularly alarming. It looked like a puffy scar. It took root right on my upper lip. It changed shape, got bigger, and then went down again after I gave birth. But from month five until month 10, the thing had a mind and growth pattern all its own.

I had it looked at. The dermatologist said it looks a lot like basal cell carcinoma, which is the most treatable form of skin cancer, (They dig in and remove, voila!) It’s also the skin cancer known to come from excessive sun damage.

I am not at all surprised by this. The doctor took a biopsy and I’m to get the results back within the week. The only reason I’m annoyed is because the spot is on my face, directly above my lip. And right now, it looks like I have a scabby red mole where she took the sample. If I have to have it removed entirely, the scar will be much bigger. And, well, that sucks. And the Catholic girl keeps letting me know that I kind of asked for this. Why hadn’t I taken better care of my body? What had I done to myself in order to fit in? What I wouldn’t give to have my natural, white skin back, the skin I was born with. (While you’re at it, throw in two clean lungs as well. Damn cigarettes.)

When I left the doctor’s office yesterday I couldn’t help but feel a little relieved that I had had a son. I know that boys experience their fair share of peer pressure (I’d love to hear what that might include since I was raised a girl), but it doesn’t seem as prevalent when it comes to their physical appearance. The cultural climate here in the states forces a lot of girls to make terrible decisions in order to fit in. My brothers didn’t smear themselves in Crisco and lay out on the back deck. They didn’t suffer from 2nd degree burns because of their desire to tan. I did. My brothers never had to fit into a size three or smaller. I did. My brothers didn’t get made fun of for their horribly frizzy hair, or their hairy legs, their boy like hips, or their freckles. I did. They were never made fun of because of the size of their chest. I was. And you know something? A lot of this stuff still affects me to this day.

I know my son will have it hard someday. I’m ready for that. But I take great comfort knowing that when it comes to how he looks he might not be up against as much pressure as America’s daughters.

BCC + YOU = BFF

This post is also going to send a wave of paranoia over some folks. It’s not meant to. I’m not necessarily talking about you. If you’re guilty of anything I write about, it doesn’t make you a bad person or someone I dislike. In fact, I have been guilty of some of these crimes as well.

Let me begin by saying that what is written on my “About Page” is true; I enjoy receiving email. I really do. I don’t want people to read this and say, “No, it’s best not to email Michele. She will get mad.” That’s not true. Please don’t ever assume that I don’t want to hear from you. Most of the time an email from a complete stranger makes my day. But there should be a few ground rules regarding the whole “Group Email” phenomenon (and if this post does not do the trick, I’m going to send out a mass email to everyone in my address book).

Statement: “I’M GOING TO SEND AN EMAIL TO EVERYONE IN MY ADDRESS BOOK!”

OK, let me begin by saying that I’m not sure why you would want to do that. I’m assuming that all of your acquaintances don’t share the same likes and dislikes. For example, some people like hearing about your cat. I happen to be one of those people. But I can’t imagine that everyone in your address book cares about your cat. And some folks don’t like kids at all. It’s true. I used to be one of those people. I used to get emails from people that held about 3 megabytes worth of photographs of their kids covered in what I hope was chocolate icing. Granted, things have changed a little bit. I have baby fever now, so I probably wouldn’t mind if you were to send me pictures of your kid(s).

As a rule, it’s best to rethink the whole “SEND EMAIL TO MY ENTIRE ADDRESS BOOK” idea. Because I guarantee that your action will annoy someone.

RULE NUMBER 1: Be choosy! Make those you email feel special.

Statement: “I DON’T CARE WHAT MICHELE SAYS, I’M SENDING THIS GOD DAMNED EMAIL TO EVERYONE IN MY ADDRESS BOOK!”

So you’ve decided screw it, you know that 65 people want to hear that you updated your Flickr page. And you’re going to send them all an email stating as much.

I did this once. I sent an email to almost everyone I had ever emailed stating that I was going to try and run the 2006 ING Marathon. (If you were on that list, I do apologize.) Well, obviously that didn’t happen and sadly people actually donated money in my name, which I am eternally grateful for. But how annoying was it for me to assume that everyone in my address book wanted to read about my upcoming marathon? And to think I took it a step further and asked them for money. Who did I think I was? I got some funny responses for that one. Here’s one:

“And well for the life of me I cannot think of why you would want to run a marathon, but best of luck.”

So, your group email is loaded, cocked, and ready to go. You’re excited. This is going to be your big break! BUT WAIT! Before you send that puppy, go to the section that reads “To:” or “Cc:” in the email header. Most likely, this is where you currently have all of your recipients. (See Figure 1.)

Now, SELECT ALL (Mac: Command A; PC: Control A). Once you’ve done that, delete every single email from your “To:” or “Cc:” field. Go to the section in the email header called “Bcc:”. Paste every single email into that field (Mac: Command V; PC: Control V). Voila! You now have all of your recipients in the field that stands for “Blind Carbon Copy”. (See Figure 2.)

But hold on! You’re not quite done.

If you were to try and send the email shown above, it wouldn’t have any idea where to go because it doesn’t recognize anything on the BCC list. But don’t freak out, that’s the idea! You have to tell it to go somewhere. What I usually I do is put my name in the “To:” field. This way, the email will appear to have been sent to only me and all responses will come to me. In all actuality the email is going to a bunch of people who can’t see one another. (See Figure 3.)

RULE NUMBER 2: Be intriguing! Let them guess who else might be on that undisclosed recipient list.

Thankfully, with the whole marathon debacle, I used BCC. That was the only thing that saved me a little face.

Statement: “BUT I WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW HOW POPULAR I AM!”

I can’t speak for everyone, but I think I speak for many when I say no one cares. The reason why using BCC is so important is that when your Aunt Mabel hits “REPLY ALL” (which she’ll inevitably do because I haven’t written up a rule for that yet), every single person you didn’t BCC will get an email from Aunt Mabel. This might get even worse; she might add MORE people to HER list, which really, really sucks because then more people are going to receive a bunch of emails featuring insider Aunt Mabel jokes—pictures of butterflies, Jesus, and her cankles.

Remember that HIV infection pyramid they scared you with in college? It’s sort of like that only without all the devastation and sex. (See Figure 4.)

In the end, you’ll be considered much more popular if you DO NOT do this to the people in your address book.

RULE NUMBER 3: Be safe! Play hard to get.

But sometimes mistakes happen, emails get out, people receive them.

Statement: “I GOT AN EMAIL WITH A LOT OF PEOPLE INCLUDED ON IT! I WANT TO RESPOND WITH MY AWESOME HUMOR!”

If the above scenario didn’t convince you of the dangers behind “REPLY ALL”, this might. “REPLY ALL” can be humiliating, too. One time I got an email from my friend, Ben, announcing his engagement. He did not use the BCC option, which is fine. I should have paid better attention. I stupidly hit “REPLY ALL” and wrote the following:

“This is so awesome. She is freaking adorable and you are a stud. I can’t wait until you’re no longer living in sin and can make really super hot babies.”

What I failed to realize was that Ben had included his entire extended family as well as his fiancé’s. I looked like a total loser. I felt ashamed and haven’t finished apologizing for it. That was nearly two years ago.

And this wasn’t the only time I made this mistake. One time I wrote something at work that should NOT have been sent to everyone on the list. I won’t go into details. Let’s just say it was not one of my most professional moments.

RULE NUMBER 4: Be discreet! You’re probably not that funny anyway.

Lastly, if you’re one of those people who doesn’t BCC, is too lazy to copy a link, write a blurb, and sign the damned thing, and instead forwards something previously sent to you onto everyone in your address book, then this little tutorial will not help you. And after you’re done reading it, lose my email.

Babysitting

I received an email from my sister-in-law the other day.

It read:

“Just so you know, you get what you pay for with babysitting. See attached photo…”

I haven’t laughed that hard in quite some time. I love my parents.