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Evil Things
Happiness Pie
The Human Condition
The Tao of Ben
The Mr. Baby Show
The Mr. Baby Show
Monday, July 10, 2006
Hello, I Must Be Going.
Mood:  bright
Topic: Happiness Pie
Well. So all sorts of shit has been happening, including the dispute with Tripod which is inducing me to move over to Dreamhost and forever quit vile Tripod with their nonfunctional comments and their stupid fucking moods. (WHERE'S THE ICON FOR FLIPPING THE BIRD?) Which means that after approximately two (two? It's near midnight on Sunday, and I don't think outside of business hours) years, the Mr. Baby Show is about to shut down.

I've moved on, y'see. Mr. Baby was my name for baby Sam, but Sam is five years old and has gloriously come forward to claim his guyhood. We're giving him his own room, result of Matt getting jealous and sneakily putting two of Sam's birthday presents IN THE TRASH. And not confessing until the trash had gone to the garage. It is not worth Ben's time and toil, not to mention the stench, to dig through the garbage for a Pirates of the Caribbean action figure and a widescreeen disc of Men in Black, so I will replace those tomorrow. And Sam needs a place to KEEP HIS STUFF. So his little brother won't mess around with it. I can definitely respect that.

So Sam is anything but a baby; in fact, he reminds me of the guy I had a crush on for ALL OF GRADE SCHOOL. His name was Robert Patterson, and he was a man of science; intelligent, blondish, with dark dark eyes (just like Sam) and definitely didn't have time for FEMALES. That Sam is just going to slay them someday. I can just imagine the phone calls I'll have to field.

But anyway. On Saturday we went up to Los Angeles, mid-Wilshire area, for a birthday party. Ben took us to the Farmers Market up there on Fairfax, the heart of Los Angeles. I think Dooce wrote about it, and definitely you never know who you'll see there. I didn't see anyone interesting, apart from us; we really do stand out, we Crumpackers: a huge grey-haired man, a little noisy brunette, and three beautiful kids. I went up to one stand and ordered an espresso drink with five shots. The girl almost fell over backwards. That's one shot for each member of the Ohana, I told her.

Out in the parking lot, I stood there on Fairfax, spread my arms out, threw back my head and yelled, I HATE YOU, LOS ANGELES! Whew. That was long overdue. A final fuck you.

So here's what's going to happen. This week I am going to work my ass off doing laundry and earning money. On the weekend we'll take the kids to the fair, and early on the morning of Monday the 17th, baby Julia and I will fly to North Carolina to spend an abbreviated week with my dear friend Kristy and her family. (Forgive me, I am too lazy at this hour to make links, kiddo.) Meanwhile, I have enlisted the assistance of the gorgeous and talented Holly Burns of Nothing But Bonfires and her scrumptious consort Sean Slinsky of Sean Slinsky dot com, and will be opening a whole new blog.

So, a little while from now, I hope you will visit me at my new home: Suburban Hippie. It'll be just as pithy and vulgar as before, but with a new look and attitude. Because I'm so over L.A.

Posted by Gretchen at 12:07 AM PDT
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Thursday, July 6, 2006
Customer Service.
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: Evil Things
When are the blog comments going to be fixed at last? I have been patient, but here I am paying you guys so much per month and comments have been down for quite a long while now. Angelfire is doing fine, so PLEASE TELL ME WHEN YOU WILL FIX THIS PROBLEM. It's not just me; I have asked and don't know of anyone who has been able to post a comment. THANKS

Message by Casey on Wed, Jul 5th 2006 1:11 pm

The migration of the blog application and blog users should be completed by the end of the month. We thank you for your continued patience during this time of updates and bug fixes.

Customer Support - Lycos


Your message on Wed, Jul 5th 2006 1:41 pm

Do you mean the end of JULY? I request a partial credit to my account for the loss of this service, which occurred without warning and which is going on for an excessive amount of time. Comments stopped working probably in early or mid June, so you are talking about six to eight weeks. If you cannot accomplish this for me, then I request that you forward my request to the appropriate person who can handle this. I have stuck with Tripod for quite some time, if you check your records, despite the availability of other and possibly better blog hosts. I don't mean to be rude, but this length of time is far beyond reasonable. Thanks!

Message by Casey on Wed, Jul 5th 2006 3:58 pm

The most I can tell you is that you can cacel [sic] your paid service til the end of the month and then reinstate it. In the meantime you will receive [sic] credit on your account after you cancel.

Customer Support - Lycos


Your message on Wed, Jul 5th 2006 5:07 pm

Okay, but what will I be losing if I cancel? I have a domain name and a certain amount of file space which is basically what I'm paying for. Will I lose the files that exceed the limit of the free service? Will my domain name quit working? Please advise. Sorry to be a pest, but this is truly annoying.


Message by Casey on Thu, Jul 6th 2006 10:25 am

If you cancel your tripod upgrade you will lose your domain name unless you have purchased it for a year through Lycos Domains, you will be downgraded to a free account with only 20MB of space available, you will have to delete files to stay under 20 MB, but you will keep your tripod membername account and can upgrade again at anytime.

Customer Support - Lycos


Your message on Thu, Jul 6th 2006 12:44 pm

Casey, I'm sorry, but this is unsatisfactory to me. Please advise whom I can contact who has authority to handle this situation. And don't tell me that there is no one; there always is, and as a customer I am entitled to this information. Thanks much.

Message by Casey on Thu, Jul 6th 2006 1:33 pm

I have the complete authority to handle this request which is why Lycos employs me. You are saying that you are "entitled to this information" what information is it that I have not given you yet?

If you would like information about our refund policies, see the following:

[words words words etc.]

Customer Support - Lycos


Your message on Thu, Jul 6th 2006 1:40 pm

The information to which I referred is the identity of someone who could help me. If you're the one, then that's fine. The fact is that I am not receiving the benefit of my bargain; one of the reasons I placed my site with Tripod was the availability of a Comments function, and I am not receiving that. I do understand that brief outages are reasonable during times of upgrade or migration. However, six to eight weeks is not reasonable. If you've not got the bugs worked out for the new Comments, then the old Comments should be put back in place until the new one is ready to go. I'm sorry, but I'm not just going to shut up and eat this. My husband and I are legal professionals and we're well versed in what rights exist; but beyond that, where's the customer service and attention to customer satisfaction? Your response has amounted to, in effect, "Shut up and deal with it, or go free and lose your data storage." Not so good. I would not treat my own clients in such a manner.


Message by Casey on Thu, Jul 6th 2006 2:17 pm

It's completely up to your discretion. You can be patient and wait for the bug fix/glitch patch to be released later next week or you can downgrade your account for the time being, or you can cancel. I have laid out the specifics on this issue. Our programming team is working on the problem and it could be fixed next week or it may take longer, depending on what complications arise. What legal rights, honestly...if you want to read the terms for our service, which you agreed to upon signing up, you can find them here: Legal professionals...don't try that with me. See if you understand these two words, no liability.

The customer service and attention is right here. I could have chose to not answer this ticket due to the fact I have already addressed your question/concern. But, alas, I am addressing your issue with our migration process once again Ms. Crumpacker. Take it as you will.

Customer Support - Lycos

Hey, Casey -- you don't need to get snippy with me. Put yourself in my place. It's not like I would sue you people; what would be the point? Even to file the complaint would consume more of our time and money than it's worth. I'm only pointing out that long outages are not going to make any friends for Tripod; and when I ask "Hey, what's up with this?" you're basically telling me "We'll do it in our own time. Deal with it." Benefit of the bargain. It's a fairly basic concept.

I think at this point we should terminate the correspondence, because you appear to be taking my concerns in a personal way which I don't intend. Tripod can do what it will do, and I'll decide for myself whether I want to continue to pay for a blog host under these circumstances. Short and sweet and we're done. Have a nice day; in fact, have a martini or a joint or whatever. Job stress! It happens to all of us. Thanks for your time.

Posted by Gretchen at 2:16 PM PDT
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Sunday, July 2, 2006
Finally, An Entry Which Includes Actual Writing.
Mood:  lazy
Topic: Rants
There is something remarkably liberating about having my Comments broken. It's the way I used to feel doing the 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. shift back in my college radio days: Is anyone listening? Maybe not! Maybe I'm back-announcing to no one but myself! But I digress.

The fact is that I have been in serious mode (see photo; now DON'T I LOOK SERIOUS?) for a few weeks now. Serious about making money, that is. The law firm where my husband works, which I call my biggest client, is in fact my only client, and I have been spending my days there. They've got me stashed in a nice big office, way up in front near the receptionist, far far away from Ben's. (This is a good thing, because it keeps us from goofing around together too much on the job.) And now that I am in business for myself, the quantity and quality of my work product becomes crucial.

I get easily bored on the job, just as I used to get easily bored in high school and college and even in law school. As John Berryman wrote in The Dream Songs, "Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so." Do I ever agree! The practice of law is particularly boring, even more so for paralegals than for attorneys, because we don't even get to argue in court or send fuck-you letters to opposing counsel. We're the legal janitors; we handle the messes the lawyers don't want to deal with. If it's tedious or thankless or just generally a pain in the ass, that's when they say Fuck this. Give it to one of the paralegals.

Too bad I couldn't stand to stay married to Anthony even one minute longer. I'd have been a lawyer for years by now! Still bored, probably, but at least I'd have been better paid. And I ADORE writing fuck-you letters. If you've got a really good vocabulary, you can insult the shit out of people without them even realizing it!

But I didn't come here to bitch; all this started out as an explanation of why I never write anymore, or follow my friends' blogs properly, or post in my groups or e-mail anyone. (Well, there is one noteworthy exception to that last, but that's another story, and I AIN'T TELLING IT.) I hope y'all have enjoyed my recent silence as much as I've enjoyed yours!

And my kids are snapping at my heels again, as they tend to do; and I am SO out of here. Enjoy your Fourth of July holiday, everyone. We are planning to illegally set off a bunch of fireworks in our cul-de-sac (because although our house is in Costa Mesa, where they are legal, our cul-de-sac is in Newport Beach, where they are NOT). Shhh, don't tell the Newport Beach Police -- although they are SO swamped with drunk-in-publics down on the Peninsula they won't have time for us. BONUS.

Posted by Gretchen at 2:38 PM PDT
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Saturday, July 1, 2006
The Grateful Deadmobile.
Mood:  lyrical
Topic: Happiness Pie
This must be the week for photos.

Here is my minivan, rear view. If you could see the sides, you would also see "Sunshine Daydream", "American Beauty" and "Om" decals on the windows, as well as lots more pink flowers. All the other mommies have SUVs, and they're welcome to them -- you can see this puppy coming a mile off!

Posted by Gretchen at 1:20 PM PDT
Updated: Saturday, July 1, 2006 1:23 PM PDT
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Friday, June 30, 2006
Still Life With Hippie Chick.
Mood:  happy
Topic: Miscellany

(Thinking: Does my hair really look like that from the back? Will anyone ever clean up this room?)

And the Magic Eightball answers: (1) yes and (2) NEVER.

Posted by Gretchen at 8:08 PM PDT
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Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Mood:  bright
Topic: Evil Things
Viewing my traffic reports, I found that the following searches -- reported here VERBATIM and NONE OF WHICH I AM MAKING UP -- produced hits on the Mr. Baby Show within the past week:

Great Blue Basenji *
"Seven years old" + diapers
Blak Mother Fuckers
Thomas Haden Church's children
Diarrhea + baby + smelly
Male Dogs Peeing On Everything *
Faded Stretch Marks
Newborn Smelly Poop *
Dave the Barbarian
My Little Baby
Pushing Out the Baby
Teen With Condom
Pregnancy + Sex
Show Me the Coochie
I Have a Poopy Inside My Diaper
Infants Smelly Farts *
James + Dyson + Gay
Delicious Mammaries *
Babies and No Rectum
Stripper in Baby Pool
Miniature Schnauzer Problem Peeing
Newborn Grunting + Poop
Large Freaky Nipples *
Smelly Nursing Dog *
Pee + Poo + Children

* Would be great name for rock band

Whether this says more about me or about my casual readers, one hates to speculate.

Posted by Gretchen at 4:18 PM PDT
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Mood:  irritated
Topic: Rants
Bloody comments are BROKEN, BROKEN, BROKEN. Tripod's response: Yes, we know! La di da da! (Wow, thanks, guys. That was SO enlightening.)

Drop me an e-mail at (no, Tripod doesn't allow clickable e-dresses! Thanks again, guys!) -- or light a candle and curse the glare.

Posted by Gretchen at 12:56 PM PDT
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Sunday, June 25, 2006
I'm Sleeping With Some Guy I Work With.
Mood:  crushed out
Topic: The Tao of Ben
I know they say it's the worst possible thing in the world you can do, a workplace romance; it just goes against every piece of good career advice anyone could ever get. They will tell you it can lead to trouble, perhaps even the loss of one's job; but I don't care. I'm doing it anyway.

Because the guy in question is my husband Ben.

I started doing contract work for his law firm sometime back in, oh I don't know, January or February. It started off slowly, but they seem to like my work product, with the result that last week I was in the office five days. I put in four or five hours a day, and for the first time since I met him, my husband is my co-worker.

And the interesting thing about it is that suddenly we are picking up the office flirtation where we left it off in November 1997. We pop into each other's offices and engage in witty banter, then exit with one last verbal flourish; we steal kisses in the stairwells and cop feels under the desk. We're the hot office romance! And if someone catches me getting my neck kissed, I loudly accuse Ben of sexual harassment, which always elicits a laugh. It is, in short, absolutely delicious.

So, you know, if you ever get a chance to have an affair with your own spouse, I highly recommend it. At home we've got our hands full with kids and bills and meals and dust bunnies and OH MY GOD, HAVE YOU EVER SEEN SO MANY DIRTY T-SHIRTS? At work, we're lovers. (Well, not literally. I mean, he's never swept the papers off my desk and laid me down with my head on a deposition transcript. But a girl can dream, can't she?)

It's almost enough to make me look forward to Monday.

Posted by Gretchen at 7:58 PM PDT
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Thursday, June 22, 2006
Ain't Love Grand?
Mood:  lucky
Topic: Happiness Pie
Y'all, I heard the coolest piece of news today. Did you ever get what felt like concrete evidence that God's in his heaven and all's right with the world? Because I had something like that today.

There are these two people I've known since forever and ever. Well, not THAT long, but the whole time I've been in California; months go by without I see them or talk to them, but they are two people who are just meant to be together. You know what I mean? We'll call them Liz and Dick. She's not a Liz, more of a Beth maybe (although that's not her name either); and he's neither a dick nor a Dick. (My father was a Dick! And proud of it. Yes, I am a Dick's daughter.)

So there is Beth and there is Dick; they work together, side by side. It's a small company, so for 20 years and more they have shared each other's ins and outs and ups and downs and sorted out problems together, and confided in each other. (No, not THOSE ins and outs. And shame on you, with your mind in the gutter!) These two were absolutely meant to be together, but it's been one of those impossible things where the timing is never right; they both ended up married to other people and having kids and so on, but the years have marched on and the kids are pretty darn big now. And Dick and his wife have split, and Beth has been going through this separation thing, and so they've climbed the ladder of years, not together but never far apart, up until here and now, this day.

And today I learned that they are finally, finally together. And to Beth and Dick I would like to say: IT'S ABOUT FUCKING TIME, PEOPLE! AND YOU THERE, DICK, WHAT DID YOU NEED A TON OF BRICKS TO FALL ON YOU? A PERSONAL MEMO FROM GOD? DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY TIMES I WANTED TO TELL YOU OH, ENOUGH WITH THE HIGH-MAINTENANCE BLONDE! HERE SHE IS, PAL, THE GIRL FOR YOU. Well, I guess Dick finally got the hint and put his money where his dick is.

Or something.

And I am just as pleased as punch -- so pleased I want to shout it from the rooftops. But cannot; how would that go? ATTENTION, PEOPLE OF AMERICA! WORLD-CLASS AND LONG-OVERDUE BOFFING GOING ON OVER HERE! NOW LET'S HEAR IT FOR THESE TWO CRAZY KIDS. Especially since Beth is a sort of Orange County Cinderella -- this devilish witty knockout bombshell just waiting for a place to happen, but married to Mr. Average and tending to persnickety relatives. And finally, FINALLY this girl gets her reward for putting her own needs on hold for everyone else's all these years.

Doesn't that just take the biscuit?

So, if you're in a commenting sort of mood, please take a second to post your congratulations to Dick and Beth, and I'll get the word back over to them. And as if this wasn't enough, do you know what?


People, I feel like a kid who came downstairs on Christmas morning to find the puppy AND the pony under the tree. So, Beth and Dick, this entry is for you -- TOOK YOU LONG ENOUGH, DIDN'T IT?

Scoop up all that life has to offer you, hug it close and breathe it in deep. As John Irving wrote, life is a fairy tale; as I wrote, life is a John Irving novel. And I'm a sucker for happy endings.

Posted by Gretchen at 9:10 PM PDT
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006
It's Hurricane Season.
Mood:  celebratory
Topic: Happiness Pie
You may or may not know that last night, the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup, beating the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7 of a nail-biting final round. For too many years I have been a girl without a hockey team; since I left the East Coast I have tentatively embraced the Southern California teams not because they don't SUCK -- because they do -- but because they were local to me. Well, not for long they won't be. Or so I fervently hope! Furthermore, I hate the fucking Oilers -- more out of habit these days than anything else, but I did NOT want to watch those Canadian bastards hoist the Cup. Not in Carolina.

So, I'm a newly minted Hurricanes fan. I like their team colors -- red and black -- and their captain, Rod Brind'Amour, an old favorite from my Philadelphia days. I like their rookie goalie, Cam Ward, who was playoff MVP and looks to be a rising star. And I love North Carolina, their home and soon to be -- if The Plan unfolds as we hope -- ours.

So the Cup has come South. It's Hurricanes season. See you next season, boys. You've got a friend in So Cal.

Posted by Gretchen at 1:48 PM PDT
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Friday, June 16, 2006
Going To Carolina In My Mind.
Mood:  on fire
Topic: Motherhood
So, I realized it's been just about six months since my postpartum what-have-you -- since my life finally spun out of control. This has been one interesting half a year. But we have made it through, and Ben and I now have a five-year plan. IMAGINE THAT! A PLAN. Finally.

Here is what we are going to do:

We are going to, as much as possible, simplify our lives. That includes things like pushing through this tax audit nightmare and getting rid of useless shit in our lives. How much useless shit? Oh, it comes in all categories. Possessions. Baby boy clothes. Eight hundred thousand plastic action figures. The final guards and barriers that kept Ben and me from just relaxing and letting ourselves love each other. Drinking too much. Blaming ourselves for not being Mr. and Mrs. Incredible. Debts we're accumulated since I got out of the rat race before it killed me. Piles of last month's newspapers. That kind of useless shit. I sure am going to be glad to be rid of it.

And after that? We are going to sell our house, take the tidy sum that will be left when the mortgage is paid off, and start a new life someplace where it's good to raise kids.

Where, you ask? Oh, we figured it all out. We visualized the United States, and said:

Okay, first you eliminate Alaska and Hawaii, because I mean PLEASE. So that leaves the continental U.S.

Next you eliminate California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois, because those places are all fucked up at the STATE level. (Please don't take offense; this is all FOR OUR PURPOSES, not yours.)

Next you eliminate the Pacific Northwest, because too much rain and too many liberals. We tend to rot if we get too damp, and we're nowhere near CRUNCHY enough.

Then you take the Midwest, and sweep that right off the menu. Yes, the entire Midwest. Neither of us has any ties to it, nor have we ever lived more than a couple of hundred miles from a coastline, nor would we want to do.

Then you eliminate the Western states because Gretchen hates the fucking West in general and because Colorado has too much snow. No deserts for this girl. No Utah; too many Mormons. No Montana or Idaho or Wyoming. Too remote.

So now we look east of the Mississippi. We don't want New England because too cold; we don't want the Deep South because too humid. Ben has issues with New Jersey, and we think we're just a little too CITIFIED for places like West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Shit, those guys probably eat California yuppies for BREAKFAST. And they probably have a point.

Which left us with, basically, Virginia and North Carolina. Ben was actually born in Virginia, in Blacksburg. We don't have much experience with North Carolina; I vacationed on the Outer Banks once, and I have an Internet friend who lives in the state, but it sounds like a nice place to us. Not too hot. Not too cold. Not too many assholes. Oh, there are assholes everywhere, but them we can handle.

So we narrowed it down. And as soon as we did so, we started getting little signs that North Carolina was the way to go. Things like the 'Canes going to the Stanley Cup, and other signposts too glaring to overlook. We don't believe in signs, but when they're hitting you in the face, you stop and pay some attention.

So that is our five-year plan. In June 2011, we want to be debt-free and doubt-free, snuggled down with our family in a decent sized house -- not too big, not too small, with just enough land for our kids and our dogs to run and play and grow. And with decent jobs -- not too demnanding, not too menial, but just enough to keep us comfy without losing our sincerity or working insane hours. And in a decent neighborhood -- not too rich, not too poor, just someplace we can feel safe and friendly and fine. With decent weather -- not too hot, not too cold. Just right.

This is, after all, our happily ever after. It's a work in progress; they always are. But we know where we're going, and we'll get there together.

So there.

(I would like to finish this entry with a shout-out to Mr. Thomas T of Wake County, North Carolina, a good Southern boy with love in his heart who knows how to have fun. I met him on Craigslist this week and he is my hockey buddy and Welcome Wagon, and was just another sign that we were thinking along the right lines. So Tom darling, if you're reading this: WOOHOO! GO 'CANES! Thursday is the new Friday, and Wednesday is the new Thursday. ROCK. I'm outie.)

Posted by Gretchen at 11:20 AM PDT
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Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Additional Answering.
Mood:  bright
Topic: Motherhood
So, I got some late questions which I now will answer, while we're at it.

Kristie asks: Do you still have postpartum depression?

How much are you working?

Think you'll go back to being a paralegal full time?

How's your novel coming?

What's your novel about?

Think you're going to have any more kids?

If you got pregnant again, under what circumstances would you get an abortion?

And I answer: Working one at a time: I think I am still working through my postpartum psychological issues. It was never really depression anyway, more a sort of mania (just before the roof caved in I was trying to just take on more and more in addition to existing overload). Add to that the fact that hormones play a major role in the psychology of women, and I am both breastfeeding and perimenopausal. Oh, and by the way my mom has lung cancer and I've been dealing with all that. Of course I have issues! I can say with absolute confidence that I'm not COMPLETELY FUCKING MENTAL anymore, though.

As for how much I'm working: Unfortunately I still only have the one client, which is my husband's firm, which has just dropped a huge, huge project analyzing tons of evidence (which means tons of billable hours!) in my lap. I probably do about 20 hours a week if they have enough work for me, which usually they don't. All this means that I suck at earning money and I also suck at keeping house.

Returning to full-time employment? We're going to try to avoid it. As I told Ben, I think it would probably drive me crazy -- shit, it already DID. If we can play this right, I can make enough money freelancing and keep my flexibility. I want to be there for my kids. Sam is taking tae kwon do and he'll be starting kindergarten in the fall. Working full time, I can't take them to lessons or pick them up at 3 p.m.

Novel? I have never tried to write a novel; I am a shitty storyteller. I was trying to write a parenting book, but for now that's shelved in favor of activities that can ACTUALLY EARN ME IMMEDIATE MONEY. I wrote a children's book (who hasn't these days?) and need to make time to doctor it up pretty and try to sell it to someone. Who will probably tell me to bugger off, but what the hell.

I'm absolutely not going to have any more kids; Ben and I are taking EXTREME PRECAUTIONS to ensure no conception. Ben and I are happily married and not dirt poor; we don't like the idea of throwing an unexpected Crumpacker kid in the dust bin, so we are MAKING SURE that abortion will not become an issue. No more accidents.

So that is that. Now, y'all try an Ask Me Anything yourselves! But I bet you won't . . .

Posted by Gretchen at 11:51 PM PDT
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But What Would Be The Answer To The Answer Man?
Mood:  cheeky
Topic: Miscellany
Hmm. "Ask Me Anything" landed with a sort of resounding THUD. But since I promised, here goes!

Still Bill asks: What is your favorite free porno site? What is your PIN number for your bank account?

And I answer: Still Bill, the answer I have for you is not so much a written one as a visual one. So if you could see us, imagine that the entire Crumpacker Ohana is blowing big wet noisy raspberries at you, and also flipping you off with both hands, and even we will do that thing like in "Slap Shot" mooning you out the windows of our minivan -- an ass in every window! And that is my answer for you, and I would like to take a moment to note that you sure as hell are still Bill.

Jennifer asks: If you had to choose just one post that you've written in this blog as a "favorite", which would it be?

And I answer: this one.

Melissa asks:What was your favorite thing about the July 2001 board? Your least favorite? [This was our online mommy group from when I had Sam.]

And I answer: My favorite was Sawyer and Spencer stories, hands down. These were a pair of twin boys with the very devil in them, and oh how we loved the tales of their doings. Least favorite? Ahh, you know, the usual catty type stuff. Me, I like dogs.

Someone asks: How do you forgive your husband for doing something incredibly awful and hurting you deeply?

And I answer: Did he betray your trust? Because if he did, then there are problems in the marriage that run deeper than whatever he did. The one thing Ben and I can count on from each other is honesty -- there is no lying or deceit. If you don't have honesty, y'all need to get it.

The ever brilliant and gorgeous Holly Burns asks: Why (or how) did you choose the names you chose for your children?

And I answer: Sam is Samuel Nicholas. We chose Samuel because it means "asked of God" (see the Bible) and we sure as hell did want us a kid. The Nicholas bit we just threw in because we liked it. We now have a dog named Nicky.

Matthew William because Matthew means "gift from God" and that was what he was -- we got the kid we asked for, and then God threw in a little gift, and that was Matt. William is Ben's father's name. But God wasn't done with us yet --

Julia Rose Kathleen because Ben and I agreed on Julia as a good and worthy name, both strong and feminine. Rose for my mother; it's her middle name. And Kathleen for a dear dear family friend who died at 41 the same week I found out I was pregnant with Julia.

Diane asks: From your entries you and Ben seem to have hit the motherlode - a happy marriage with all that comes with it. My question is - how have you managed to keep the happy in your marriage?

And I answer: Humor and honesty, and a shared love of our home and our kids. We have problems, but we face all problems together.

Amy asks about the kitsch thing.

And I answer: It probably started with this book entitled (guess what!) "Kitsch" that Ben somehow brought into the marriage. It's an old book, and odd, and we thought: "Cool! We're there!" I think the first kitsch item was a small statute of a miniature schnauzer playing with a roll of toilet paper, followed closely by a really dreadful cow creamer. We also collect Black Americana -- you know, the old-time stuff they could NEVER do these days. There is lots of Uncle Remus and Aunt Jemima in our kitchen.

Piper asks: What are your favorite and least favorite things about yourself? And Ben?

And I answer: I think my favorite thing about me is that I appear to be as strong as an ox, which is a good thing seeing how I got myself knocked up three times in my forties. Least favorite? That would be my big potty mouth. Usually it serves me well, but sometimes it gets me in trouble.

My favorite thing about Ben? God, let's talk organs. His brain and his heart. Those I love very much. I might also love one or two other organs of his. Least favorite? Tuning me out when I'm trying to talk to him.

So there you have it. And now I will have to get up off my fat Polish flu-ridden ass and write an actual entry.

Posted by Gretchen at 1:59 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, June 13, 2006 1:59 AM PDT
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Thursday, June 8, 2006
Mood:  spacey
Topic: The Human Condition
No, not exciting news but -- I HAVE THE FLU. So, if I appear to have vanished, only because I have a desktop not a laptop.

I promise to cough one more time just for you. Please proceed to feel dreadfully sorry for me and all. Thank you! Meanwhile, DON'T FORGET TO POST YOUR PROBING PERSONAL QUESTIONS.

(Although on second thought, a girl should probably refrain from using the words probing and personal in the same sentence.)

Posted by Gretchen at 5:00 PM PDT
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Tuesday, June 6, 2006
Ask Me Anything!
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Evil Things
The Mr. Baby Show has been in a slump of late -- the doldrums, if you will. I would call it the dog days of summer, except that the calendar tells me that summer doesn't arrive for another two weeks. We've got plenty of dogs, though. Those we've got.

In the interest of BEING AN INSTIGATOR, which is something I particularly enjoy, I will blatantly steal an idea from Coleen D. and throw an ASK ME ANYTHING.

Here's the deal: In comments, or in an e-mail, ask me anything, and I will answer truthfully*. I'll leave it up for about a week, because I am a lazy bitch who would rather fart around in the garden than update, and then I will put up the questions and my answers in a new entry. Okay? THIS MEANS YOU TOO, LURKERS. JUST THIS ONCE, OKAY?

I thank you. Nicky and Rudy thank you, too. They would smell your butt, too, if you would only come close enough.
* Except insofar as to do so might subject me to civil or criminal liability.

Posted by Gretchen at 10:11 AM PDT
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Saturday, June 3, 2006
Nick And Rudy; Rudy And Nick.
Mood:  cool
Topic: Basenji
My two dogs, after this first month, are settling in together and becoming pals. Nicky is two years old and Rudy is now five months old, and since Nicky is neutered and Rudy isn't sexually mature yet, the male dominance issues are kept to a low roar. (Meaning that Nicky pees on Rudy's crate absolutely every chance he gets, and Rudy is better housebroken as a puppy than Nicky will ever be.) They roughhouse together like a couple of pups, all through the downstairs.

It's fun to be with them. This evening I took them for a walk, and was feeling especially proud because NIcky had been to the groomer today and was looking sleek and glossy rather than shaggy with his beard in dreadlocks. Bear in mind that the Upper Newport Bay is a place where people flock to take their walks; not just from the surrounding neighborhoods, they drive in from all over the county and even all over the country, as it's also a world-class birding area. We're like Waterfowl 'R' Us, y'all. I can tell you by his cry when a great blue heron is flying overhead even if it's too dusk for me to spot him. Because of Orange County's ridiculously balmy weather, birds from all over use the Back Bay as their wintering grounds, and we get some pretty awesome visitors as well as the usual suspects.

So what I'm saying is that we run into a whole lot of people on our walks. And here I am walking along with the following dogs:

(a) One crazed black miniature schnauzer who is snarling and leaping because he is trying to play tug-of-war with his own leash as I attempt to walk him along, a feat which he achieves by looping the leash around his own paw to make it "attack" him; and

(b) One calm, poised, regal basenji. The basenji, as you may know, is the breed depicted in those examples of ancient Egyptian art, those dogs who stand upright yet are not named Goofy. There is absolutely nothing goofy about a basenji; it's a word that Nicky wears like a crown, but Rudy has never heard and never will. He is a Pharaoh among dogs, and he knows it.

So that's an interesting bit of contrast there. They both really are quite striking examples of their respective breeds; the black mini schnauzer is much less common than the grey sort. Rudy is the typical red and white basenji, but both his parents and three of his four grandparents are AKC champions. Some microscopic flaw kept him out of show dog life, but I'll be damned if I can see a flaw in him.

As I walk by with my two charges, people will very frequently smile and comment My, you have your hands full. Which is a comment we often hear when we are out with the three kids and not even a dog in sight.

So I grin and wave and think Believe me, YOU HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA.

Posted by Gretchen at 8:21 PM PDT
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Friday, June 2, 2006
Your Eyes Have Seen Me.
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: Matt
Today I spent the day with my three-year-old son Matt. It was an amazing day in several respects, but I'll save most of them for later.

We ran errands in the morning, rode with Daddy to the courthouse and actually peeked through the porthole into the courtroom while he was arguing and saw the back of his head! He didn't know we were out there! And then we had lunch with Daddy and walked around the mall. We pushed Matt in a firetruck stroller. And we shopped a little. We stopped at Yankee Candle, and Eddie Bauer, and the Disney Store. You know, G-rated destinations.

Matt and I dropped Daddy off at the office and came back home. And later, while Matt was wrapped up in Party Time with Max and Ruby, I got a naughty idea. It was, after all, late Friday afternoon and I had nowhere to drive, no business to tackle.

So I sneaked into the garage and burned a tiny bit of plant material -- half a thimble, tops. Just as some other mom might sneak some champagne into her orange juice, or open a cooler instead of a Diet Coke, you know. Nothing imprudent.

But afterward, Matt ran up to me as I sat on the floor, to hug me I thought. Instead he abruptly drew back, grinned and scampered off. He mentioned something about it's like steaks -- meaning he smelled something like when Daddy runs the barbecue. A half-hour after that, playing with Woody and Bullseye, he told me Bullseye needs eye drops. His eyes are red.

So we went upstairs. I had a little travel Visine in a duffel, so I gave him that for Bullseye and Woody. And I put in eye drops from the big Mommy-sized bottle.

And I thought Three years old and this kid has eagle eyes and can report with impressive accuracy on what he observes. Nothing less than total honesty is going to work with this one.

Matt has a way of bringing out the best in me. If I'm going to look at myself through his eyes, I can see I'm going to have to keep my eye on the ball -- I can see that he sees clearly.

Thanks for a great day, kiddo. I owe you one.

Posted by Gretchen at 5:15 PM PDT
Updated: Friday, June 2, 2006 11:49 PM PDT
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Thursday, June 1, 2006
Tropical Heat Wave.
Mood:  cool
Topic: Rants
Here it is the first of June and already Southern California is brandishing summer at me again. To Southern California I say Yes, yes, yes, summer. Too right. You know how to do summer. Shit, you're the LORD of summer! But -- what else have you got?

To which Southern California, typically, does not reply.

It is stupidly hot here in the OC today. Too hot to move. Too hot to be doing this laundry or cleanup or errands or what have you. Definitely too hot to blog. So I leave you with a small tour of my front garden.

Posted by Gretchen at 12:43 PM PDT
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Friday, May 26, 2006
Ask Not For Whom The Poop Rolls.
Mood:  smelly
Topic: Poop
You would think a girl with two kids in diapers wouldn't be the first person in line to take responsibility for a manic-aggressive schnauzer and a basenji puppy. Then again, you would also think most people wouldn't do anything to increase the amount of poop in their lives. But I have done both of those things.

The poop, she is an issue. By contrast with Matt, who refused everything but the breast until 10 months of age, Julia was grabbing things off my plate by 6 months. Hell, at eight months she was handing us the car keys and a shopping list -- that is how determined Miss Julia is to sample everything that's edible and a few things that probably aren't. The news in her diaper, therefore, has not been so happy. I have been known to gasp, flinch, howl and pray to Jesus upon coming face to face with the contents of her Pampers.

Matt is following Sam's lead and toilet training late, and I will bet, Matt being Matt, that if anything he will train even later. So there is some more poop. To my everlasting gratitude, Ben takes responsibility for most Matt diapers.

And then the dogs. Nicky has always had occasional accidents in the house, and miniature schnauzers in general, to my experience, use elimination as communication in much the same way as a New York cabbie employs the car horn. Speaking only in piles and puddles, Nicky can say Should have walked me BEFORE that load of laundry or Fuck you for getting a goddammned BASENJI quite as clearly as if he had spoken the words.

Rudy is a puppy, but he's also a lot like a smart middle-schooler. He knows what's what, and he's testing the parameters. So we occasionally get a Rudy pile in the house. We always KNOW when there is a Rudy pile or puddle about, because those basenjis, being rather on the fringe of wild African dogs, have specially stinky pee and poo. If you go to the Wild Animal Park and get among a bunch of rhinos and elephants and suchlike, their poo smells a lot like Rudy's. So now I also have EXOTIC poop to clean up.

Worse, Rudy appears to be a bit of a showman. Our backyard -- and I use the term extremely loosely -- is a paved area with garden beds surrounding it. There is a sliding glass door into our living room, and it is directly outside this sliding glass door that Rudy inevitably delivers his jungle poop. That must be so we can admire them while we're playing with the kids and watching TV. He also has lain waste to two throw pillows and two doormats. If Rudy can't poop in a display window, he at least wants to poop onto a surface that will present nicely. Believe me, there is nothing that says elegant like a fresh doggie bowel movement on an Indian embroidered cushion.

You would think they'd mention it in the job descriptions -- ANY of them! Because there is so much poop involved in parenting, and in dog ownership, and in the legal profession. DEAR SWEET JESUS, SO MUCH POOP.

Posted by Gretchen at 3:33 AM PDT
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Saturday, May 20, 2006
Coke Blakmail.
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: Rants
You might have noticed that the Coca-Cola company has come out with a rather interesting response to the current energy drink and coffeeshop wave. This is Coke Blak, which is basically coffee in Coke.

I have to admit that it's pretty brilliant. Whoever dreamed up that one must have received a tidy bonus and maybe even an upgraded office. Coke Blak is sold in four-packs of small bottles. Ben and I picked one up at Target this morning.

And you know what? The shit is GOOOOOD. The combination of Coke and coffee has an interesting taste, and of course coffee with carbonation is a novel experience. They don't have a sugar-free version yet, which is a damned shame; but I don't think we will be buying any more Coke Blak anyway.

Because after we got home, I perused the Target receipt and discovered that the four-pack had cost me $5.99. FUCK! You hear that? Six bucks for four piddly bottles of soda with coffee mixed in. The shit costs nothing to produce -- why the high price tag? Four bucks I might swallow, but six bucks shocks the conscience. Assholes! I guess they figure the yuppies will pony up for anything and not blink an eye at the price. WRONGO BONGO.

Of course, Ben and I immediately started experimenting with homemade Coke Blak. Thanks to my pretty yellow espresso machine and the twelve-pack of Diet Coke we had just purchased, I was able to come up with the same substance for a fraction of the cost. The problem? Is that the Coke foams up like there's no tomorrow when you put the coffee in. I've tried adding the Coke to the coffee and adding the coffee to the Coke, and every time it's the same effect. FOAMARAMA.

I'll get it right eventually though. Those fuckers! They came up with a great product, but that price tag is tantamount to jeering at you.

Posted by Gretchen at 8:33 PM PDT
Updated: Saturday, May 20, 2006 8:34 PM PDT
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