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i don’t know what I’m doing

Children come into this world stamped with their own distinct trademark moves: looks they make when they’re pooping, ear-piercing screams they howl when nothing in particular is wrong (meant only, I think, to invite unwanted parenting advice from old biddies at the grocery store), and, one of my all-time favorites: sleeping with their middle fingers cocked just so when they are teeny tiny newborns (choice photo captions abound).

When Lucy, my darling daughter of three, is doing something that makes me want to call CPS on myself she shouts, “I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!” It’s not a phrase that’s meant to deter me. It’s not an angel-voiced “Nothing Mother! I’m not doing anything in here!” It’s a loud, demanding, “I’M ONLY THREE AND I HAVE POOR IMPULSE CONTROL! I NEED YOU TO PULL ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE! PLUS I WANT YOU TO SEE WHAT I’M DESTROYING IT’S FREAKING AWESOME!”

A short list of things that Lucy has done when she hasn’t known what she’s been doing:

1. Painted the hair of her Princess Tiana doll pink, slathered her face in makeup, filed her (plastic) fingernails down to nubs with an emery board and then tried to cut off her hands with a cuticle nipper. (Do you have a cuticle nipper? They’re like mini gardening shears. To poor Princess Tiana they were like a freaking hand guillotine). When I walked in on her in the bathroom and found the magnetic lock to the drawer that held all these magical gadgets broken, she assured me that Princess Tiana was itchy so she was just trying to make her more comfortable by filing and cutting off her hands. I felt much better.

2. Pushed her changing table into the middle of her room (which is on wheels but still enormously heavy. I sense that we may have a Spiderman situation on our hands.), threw its contents onto the floor, and was using a golf club to paddle her way through pirate-infested waters.

Lucy: “I don’t know what I’m doing!”

Me: “You’re rowing to Cuba. Bring me back a mojito. Quiet time is over in thirty minutes.”

3. Before she reached Cuba she pulled over to have an accident in her panties. She took off said panties and decided that the poop (lots of people piss and moan when mommy bloggers talk about poop so let’s just call it hot dogs) would be better in the ocean. All. Over. The. Ocean. (Where I say “ocean” please insert “white area rug.”) So Lucy decided that the hot dogs needed to be smeared and smashed and stomped on all over the white area rug.

Lucy: “I don’t know what I’m doing!”

Me: “Me neither. Where’s my goddamn mojito?”*

4. Lucy has one of those twisty-door-handle-cover-thingies on the inside of her room that’s supposed to keep her in her room during quiet time so she doesn’t do things like try to behead Princess Tiana. But somehow, tiny Houdini that she is, she managed to press the button lock on the door handle while the cover was on, probably while she was trying to break out of her room and go kill Princess Tiana once and for all. She was locked in her room. I slipped a heavy metal salad spoon under the door and told her to smash the twisty-door-handle-cover-thingie until it fell off. With one scream and an “I don’t know what I’m doing!” she broke the cover off and was free. If she ever finds herself in prison I have a feeling it won’t be for long.

Here I am getting my “makeup” done by the little gal. She said that the eyeliner on my forehead was “a hat, like a man’s top hat.” She didn’t mention the motivation behind the Hitler-esque lipstick mustache. Is she trying to tell me something?
*I don’t really say things like “goddamn” in front of my children and ask them to give me alcohol. I do what normal parents do: sneak a bottle of chardonnay into the closet, shut the door and cry until they come looking for me.

where I’ve been

I haven’t meant to neglect you. I’m sorry if you’ve felt lonely, recipe-less, missing that thing, that thing that Rainy Day Gal gives you? (Click the link. Watch the video. And if you haven’t seen Beautiful Girls, you’re missing one of the greatest films ever.)

The thing is, I’ve been lost. Not physically. I’m still in Seattle, still in my kitchen, at my laptop which is still perpetually covered in flour and butter and the occasional spill of finger paint. But I’ve gotten lost in a book.

I began writing a novel when I was in graduate school in 2007 or 2008, exactly when I can’t recall. I wrote about 12 pages, naively pitched it around to a few agents (why, when it wasn’t fully formed and not even close to finished, did I shop it around I have no stinkin clue–when I get an idea I tend to go full speed ahead, come hell or high water). I got rejection letters or silence. I don’t know which is worse.

My husband (then boyfriend) read it and loved it. My friends (still friends) read it and loved it. But the letters and the silence and the getting married and the having a baby and then another baby caused me to put it aside. But a few months ago, when my old laptop crashed (probably from the flour and the butter and the finger paint), I had to choose which files to transfer over. There was the book, all twelve pages of it. I decided to keep it, and from much poking and prodding from my husband and my friends, I began writing it again (okay, they didn’t have to poke and prod me too sharply; the story was still haunting me years later, like a crack in the wall you have yet to spackle).

I started a few sentences at a time. When the girls were napping, or after they’d gone to bed for the evening, I’d pick it up and type a few words. The characters began to flesh themselves out, the plot wove in and out and around them and all of a sudden I was whipping through pages. I still am.

I don’t want to give too much away since the book is still unfinished and if it ever does (fingers crossed) get published, I’d like you to read it without spoilers. But I will say that it’s a young adult novel (think Hunger Games-type audience), with a sixteen-year old girl as the main character. It’s not paranormal, there are no vampires or werewolves or fights to the death in a man-made sci-fi arena. It’s set in the late 1950’s, and let’s just say that there is enough abnormal stuff going on to keep things interesting. There is a love story, (because who doesn’t like a little romance?), and a lot of dark and devious happenings, and I hope that when you meet the characters you will love and hate them and cheer for them and want to punch them just as much as I do.

At this very moment I’m sitting in a large leather chair in a borrowed beach cabin, the view from which is pictured above. The sea is crashing outside and I have a fire crackling away beside me. I’m alone, working hard on the book, which I hope to have completed by mid-summer. If there are any new developments I’ll keep you updated.

As for this writing space, Rainy Day Gal, I’m looking at a site redesign (if you know anyone affordable, please email me), and probably won’t be cooking my own recipes as much as those from other sites or cookbooks. Recipe development takes an enormous amount of time, and I won’t put anything here that I haven’t tested. I’m trying to find the balance between mother and writer and cook and blogger. But I will be back, with food, because I know that food is (mostly) what you’re here for. But I hope you’ll also stick around for funny stories about naked children, my lists of favorite things, and maybe even some short pieces of fiction if the mood strikes.

Have a great weekend. Cook a lot. Read a lot. And watch Beautiful Girls. You won’t regret it.