Chocolate happens

what’s the sound of two edies talking?

tjchocBig Edie: She handed me a Trader Joe’s milk chocolate bar. “Here, I got this for you. It came two to a pack, but I ate the other one.”

Me: “Who you kidding? These come three to a pack.”

Big Edie: She looked at me, shrugged, and turned away to hide the smile. “It happens,” she said, giggled and added a little skip to her step.

Ode to Mother’s Day: When Good Baby (Dolls) Go Bad


You know how sometimes you see someone on the street with a baby, a really cute one that’s behaving well (read: not crying, not smelling like poo) and you think: “I’d have a baby if I knew it would come out like that.” And then later, you run into one of those regular babies that cry and will eventually smell like pee and poo even if they don’t right at that moment, and you think, “Oh, right. That’s why I don’t have a baby.” Yeah. Me too.

I’d never planned on having children. I don’t even have a very good history with dolls. I had a Barbie; I used her as a hammer and hammered whatever I could find until her head imploded.

I softened a little somewhere in my late twenties and bought a Little Miss No Name for an aunt who collected dolls. A completely rational woman by day, she had an irrational but visceral fear of the doll. Feeling sorry for this poor unwanted homeless waif doll—call it a brief attack of estrogen—I took Little Miss No Name home with me.

Little Miss No NameI washed her face, combed her hair, and made new clothes to replace the rags she came with. I put a dime in the small sad hand she extended and stood her on a shelf facing the door. When I woke up, she’d turned a full ninety degrees, and was staring at my bedroom. A little creepy, considering I lived alone.

Night after night I pointed her towards the apartment door and each morning, she’d turned and was staring into my bedroom. My bathroom ceiling collapsed. I was hit by a car. I was mugged. My apartment was burglarized. I grew afraid. I knew deep in my heart that if I threw her away outside, I’d wake up to her scratching on the door. So, I burned her new clothes, put her back in her rags, and brought her back to the store. I wanted her sent away to a baby doll group home, or wherever bad dolls get sent. A sympathetic sales clerk offered to bury her face down, and sprinkle the ground with salt, which she said, is what you do to contain witches and cursed baby dolls. Life went back to normal. And that ended any thoughts of babies or their stand-ins, baby dolls.

Fast forward. 30. 35. 40. My friends were rushing around having their last-minute babies. And now, at 50-something my biological clock has ticked, and tocked and ticked until it finally ran out of juice. My eggs have dried into tiny hard Grapenuts that shake around in my hard little ovaries, and I sound like the maracas in a mariachi band when I walk down the street. With pregnancy and childbirth no longer an option, it’s safe to wonder if I’m finally ready for a real baby, too.

Private adoptions can run between $5000 and $40,000, and even black-market babies start at $10,000. The hospital costs associated with delivery of a flesh and blood baby are astronomical. I can’t afford to take time off for maternity leave, forget about the cost of a midwife, a doula, a nanny, a babysitter, dance lessons, a therapist for her. Another for me. And then there’s clothes, medical bills and tuition. Child care. Well-baby care. Diapers. Formula. Toys. Shoes. Baby food. More shoes. The right school. Orthodontia. Bail money for her and Valium for me–for when she is a teenager and on the drive over to the police station I realize that despite my best intentions I’ve done everything wrong and raised one more juvenile delinquent. The cost of eventual rehab alone for my teen is going to be at least $5000. I’m too old for all that. Not only don’t I have any viable eggs, or any money, I don’t have that kind of emotional energy.

I left the baby on the busAnd let’s face it, if I’d had a kid during my childbearing years I’d’ve been one of those “Oh my God, I left the baby on the bus” kinds of moms. Now, I might be the kind of mom who’d buy Girl Scout cookies from your kid, but I’m certainly not the kind to sell them in my office for mine. I wouldn’t be the kind of mommy who bonds with other mommies over soccer practice, taking turns making team snacks. Me and my maybe-someday kid, we are not peanut-free lactose-free gluten-free kind of people. If your kid can’t eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, washed down with a glass of cold milk, your kid will go hungry in my house.

And so it seems it’s time to go back to considering adopting a baby doll.

This time there will be no saving of destitute urchins waiting to ambush me. No worries of sweet smelly little babies threatening to grow into raging juvenile delinquency. This time, I’m going in with eyes wide open. I’m getting me a monster baby. A Twilight, Dark Shadows, Zombie Apocalypse, tattooed and pierced baby. I’m going straight for a baby that’s already gone wrong. A newborn from the Twisted Bean Stalk Nursery is well under $1,000—less than I’d spend on diapers. I’m getting me a GenDead baby.

I want a zombie baby that can eat anything. Cooked, raw, or maggoty it won’t matter to her. A little vampire girl with teeth sharp enough to open a can of beer for mommy. One who sleeps all day, and feeds her own damned self at night. An undead baby girl means I can sleep through the night and never worry about her turning over and smothering herself, getting attacked by strangers (unless they’re carrying a wooden stake, or garlic), starving herself to death, or being abducted by aliens. I pity the fool who tries to kidnap my zombie girl. Give me a GenDead baby, and I never have to worry about her learning to look both ways when she crosses the street.

I am a little worried about the breast-feeding, but I can live with that.

Twisted Bean Stalk Nursery Vampire Baby

Big Edie: Husband #1

what’s the sound of two edies talking?

Howie was a car salesman.

“He was made for that. He was probably very successful. He was always selling. You walked in our house, he was selling to you.”

His weekends were all about baseball. He played, and then brought all the guys back to the house and years before she was Big Edie, when she was still just Lainie from the Bronx, she would feed them.

“It didn’t matter that I was cleaning the house all weekend, after working all week. He brought  them all home, and I was expected to cook for everyone.”

That’s the way things were back then, though.

“Your father wasn’t so lucky. It all changed after I read that book. The one that all the women read and it changed everything. The Feminine Mystique. All of a sudden I was like, I don’t need to do this, but I still did. I always did more than my share. But it changed everything.”

I’m not sure what it changed, other than her awareness, and when you don’t have the strength to change your situation, is changing your awareness necessarily a good thing?

But Howie was her first.

“I went to visit him on the army base, and he got me in his bunk. So, I knew I had to marry him. That’s what you did. You were a virgin until you got married. So I had to marry him. And I thought I’d get to go to Paris.”

Lainie Millstein  & Howie Steinberg

Lainie, Howie, and the Calla Lilies

She carried calla lilies as her bridal bouquet, her gown decorated with glass bugle beads from her mother’s wedding gown. Howie married Lainie from the Bronx, but kept his girlfriend in Monmouth, New Jersey. Shortly after they were married, he called and said he wouldn’t be home that night. He was spending the night with the girlfriend.

“You stay, and you straighten things out with her, or don’t come home at all. That’s what I told him.”

That marriage was annulled and I was forbidden to ever use anything from my grandmother’s satin flapper wedding gown–that gown now having been involved in two generations of marraiges that ended in infidelity and divorce. My mother has been across all across the United States and Canada. She’s cruised up to Alaska and down to Barbados. She’s been to Ireland, and Greece, and Israel.

She still has not been to Paris.

Me, Nick Flynn, and Vicodin.



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Nick Flynn – from The Rumpus, February 8, 2014.

Me, on Vicodin (inspired by Nick Flynn)

I hate Vicodin. Ten years ago, at ten years sober and a day or two after some major dental work, I found myself with not one, but two full vials of Vicodin, and no memory of getting the second, of convincing a pharmacist that I’d already gone through the first in a single day when the truth was I hadn’t taken but one single pill.

That second vial? That was just in case. Just in case there was so much pain I needed to take two full vials of Vicodin before morning to stop it. Yeah, well, that was the pain from first 30 years of my life, wasn’t it?

While on the phone with a friend, I dumped both vials in the toilet. It wasn’t will power, it was willingness and surrender and I don’t know why sometimes that’s easier for one person than another. Or why sometimes it’s easier today than it was yesterday. And sometimes it’s harder today than it was yesterday.

Maid in 2012


Note to self, dated May 2012. During the two years of “under-employment.”

The cleaning lady 2009_full

A year ago I considered getting a cleaning lady.

Today, while on my knees Windexing the water spots on someone else’s marble bathroom floor, I thought to myself, “Who the fuck do they think I am? The cleaning lady?”

Exactly. That’s exactly who I was at that moment. Someone’s cleaning lady.

Moral of the story: Be careful what you wish for. The universe gives you what you ask for, but it rarely looks the way you’d expect.

Night Moves


Yesterday, between the hours of Late Night O’Clock and Time for Work O’Thirty I lay in bed and:

  • Cuddled a cat
  • Flipped my pillow
  • Watched a neighbor lady vomit into her flowers by moonlight
  • Listened to a cat vomit in the dark
  • Masturbated
  • Peed
  • Checked out Facebook four different times
  • Photoshopped one of me three different ways
  • Instagramed twice
  • Twittered, but only once
  • Tossed
  • Turned
  • Merged and organized all my bookmarks from Chrome, Firefox, and Google
  • Cleaned out the “Camera Roll” on my iPhone
  • Cleaned up kitty vomit
  • Cuddled another kitty
  • Poked the “snooze” button

Then I got up, got dressed, got a seat on the subway and fell asleep immediately for a blissful 8 stops. #8hours #8stops #itsallthesame

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