Thursday, March 3, 2011


So, I love it. I do. I love love love it. And I have a crazy person as a close relative (ahem, father) so I know from crazy and it's not always funny. But this? Hilarious. He could just be rambling like Randy Quaid and that wasn't really funny at all. Aliens and conspiracy theories, not so funny. This winning thing? Endlessly fucking funny. To me. Makes me wish I did twitter so that I could end every single (every.single.) tweet with #winning.

I don't know what those Prudey McConcerned people on facebook's problem is. Things are being handled. He hasn't got the children around him anymore. I don't know. This is rambling, but to me, he's the kind of benign kind of crazy (provided he is not allowed to be alone with women - get a bodyguard on him stat, Martin) that brightens my kind of sucky life right now with the cleverness of his rants. I believe he's trying to be funny, in a way. Mission accomplished, young/old man. Good job. #winning.

But that's not the only thing I wanted to write about today. Two more things: 1. Motherhood and 2. Saint Pabu. Oh, as to the first two paragraphs, one more thing to say. If someone, anyone really, were to ask me what I've been up to lately, I don't think I could stop myself from saying "Winning. That's what I've been up to. Just...winning. And you?" But that's just me.

1. Motherhood

So, I love the New Yorker, we've gone over that. (Have we? Well, it's true.) I love it so much, I frequently wish I could marry it. Given. And I love personal essays about death. I can't help it. I'm morbid. I really can't help it. I love cemeteries, the Smiths, those crazy Victorian photographs of dead people, the idea of sitting with a body and then preparing it for burial. I like all that stuff. I don't know. Some people are obsessed with babies and the beginning of life. Me, I'm obsessed with the end. Not that it has anything to do with me, really. I don't want to die. Clearly. I just, think that it's a part of life that people freak out about and yet it happens to every single one of us. "In the midst of life, we are in death, et cetera..." Smiths, Sweet and Tender Hooligan (apparently, a quote taken from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer). Also, hence this Phebe project.

Recently, the New Yorker published two personal histories wherein the author lost a loved one. The first one, "The Wave" from the February 7th edition, was written by a man, Francisco Goldman, who suddenly and tragically lost his young wife. It was wonderful and so beautifully done. Oh, he loved her. It was a long essay, including how they met and fell in love, what their plans for the future were, and in a bizarre yet fully accurate way, every single detail from the day she died. It was heart-wrenching and beautiful. I said beautiful twice, that's how wonderful it was.

The second one, I read yesterday. It was "Story's End" by Meghan O'Rourke in the March 7th edition. This one not so much. A daughter's story about her mom's death. Maybe it was the shortness of it. Maybe we only got the smallest glimpse of her mother, of their relationship. It was more surface. I don't know. It didn't do it for me. But that's completely personal, obviously.

What I wanted to bring these up for was the following. She writes this sentence in this essay, "My brothers and I spent an inordinate amount of time with our mother when we were children, not only because we went to school where she worked, as the head of the middle school, but because she loved being with kids." This was weird. To me. Because I live in my own head and really frequently cannot imagine what life is like for others, it struck me. Are there children who spend no or little time with their mothers? I guess so. Not so much back then (I believe she grew up in the late 60's or early 70's), but now I guess.

Are there, though, really? And does it matter? I'm guessing that the Tiger mom's kids didn't spend much time with her. She seems like the kind of person who would be a workaholic. But still, she ruled those girls' lives. I am certain they cannot remember their childhoods without nearly every single memory tainted by her.

Doesn't every mother of every single person walking this earth have a profound effect on the identity of that person? On everything? And I don't just mean birth mother, clearly. Although, she counts too. I mean anyone who's the primary guardian of a child. Even if they work and the child's in daycare. Now I'm rambling again. I guess, when she wrote that sentence, I went, "Well, duh." OMG, I'm trying soooo hard to resist typing w.i.n.n.i.n.g right now. So hard.

I don't think I'm expressing myself very well. I guess it's just that for me, it's a given that a mother would spend an inordinate amount of time with their children. In the children's eyes, anyway. Regardless, a mother is everything. So actual time isn't important. Is this clear at all? I'm not sure how much time I spent with my mother, but she was everything. It's taken me decades to get over what she did and didn't do and to come to terms with it, to separate from her.

As for me, I don't do enough for my kids- they watch too much tv, I don't play with them enough, I'm impatient. Although frankly, lately, that's been due to my health issues. Will they someday, when I die, write "Mother didn't spend an inordinate amount of time with us. Or maybe she did, but she was on the computer and we were watching TV." Chrikees. I need to do better. But you know what? I'm doing fucking better than the Tiger mom and that's something. That's something.

2. Saint Pabu

This relates. Sort of. So...facebook. Oh, facebook. So... an ex-boyfriend found me. Hadn't thought of him in 19 years. Couldn't remember his last name (shut it, I'm not slutty. I knew it, but my memory's horrible. Shut it.) So we started corresponding in short emails, his end in his broken English. He's French. Lives in Brittany. I started dating him when I studied abroad for a semester sophomore year.

I don't really tell my husband about it. Having said that and perhaps scared you, I will tell you that as soon as any, and I do mean any, man (not limited to ex-boyfriends) starts acting weird or sexual on facebook or via any communication, I would shut that shit down. It's just my husband is jealous, which I find sweet, so I don't tell him. Plus he corresponds with an ex-girlfriend and he doesn't always tell me about it (well, not for months, but it's ok).

All of that is not important. Important thing is that I correspond with a guy, a French guy, who lives in the town he grew up in, in the very very small town he grew up in in Brittany. And his friend, who I met when I went with him to visit his hometown (at the time I met him he was living in Paris) is now the mayor. I think I remember him and this ex-boyfriend says that they "remember me". Bordering on weird, I know. Like I said, I am ready to shut it down at any second.

So...I went onto the google and tried to get a picture of this mayor to see if I remember him. I think I may. Anyway, I know (or "know") a mayor in a small town in Brittany. Or Bretagne. And I started looking at pictures of this town, Saint Pabu and it is lovely. I'd forgotten. Or maybe at 19 I didn't notice it so much. Truly lovely. I could see why people wouldn't leave.

And maybe it's because I just got back from a stressful weekend in my hometown, which has its lovely aspects, but I started thinking. Do people who stay in villages like that, do they ever have the desire to escape? Do they actually escape - the people for whom it is horrifically difficult? Or are they content to stay? To know as adults the children they grew up with? Cause I want not much to do with any of those people. I didn't really make friends until I was a teenager, though. And we were kind of the outcasts and have moved away. What about those people in the villages? Would they leave too?

Or is it me? The reason I'm adrift here in New Jersey. The loneliness I feel here. The panic I have about having no one to watch my children when my husband isn't home from work yet and I just want to lay in the fetal position on the floor. So instead, I turn on the tv and then read on the internet.

The idea of never being able to leave a village was always a nightmare for me. But now, I don't know. In my own personal case, I wouldn't want to live in the same town as my brother and sister-in-law. Jesus Christ, she's awful. And a fighter, too. And beautiful, skinny, popular and extroverted. So, my opposite. Living a lifetime in her shadow would be too much. Not even to mention the shadows of my mother and father.

It's not even an option for me and my husband, living in my original little village. In the end, it's good we're here. Even when the loneliness and panic strike.

Alrighty, last thing to say before I wrap this shizz up. I've never read a Nick Hornsby book. I don't know why. My husband loves him. I like the movies. A lot. Anyway, in High Fidelity, the John Cusack character (oh, just go imdb it yourselves) talks about how he would always get frustrated with his girlfriend and not just for the normal "schizophrenic" women stuff, but for other things, which he lists. So, yea. Nick Hornsby gets it. That was nice.

Oh, one last thing. I desperately want to go to Saint Pabu now. I know the freakin mayor, y'all. I'm just worried that I won't be able to travel like I want to. Travelling to Florida this past weekend has made me weaker than I've ever been. The future is tres uncertain for me and that's annoying. Almost as annoying as using the word tres right then, there.


Winning Tigerblood image above by David Schwen from here.


  1. This post? WINS.

    You break my heart and make me smile all in the same post.

    I am so glad Steam Me led us to each other! Wonder twinsies ACTIVATE! Form of enduring friendship.

  2. OMG, am I breaking records with the amount of winning in this post? Jeesh, I hope so. I had to change the first image, though, because I was kind of sick of looking at his wrinkled, old mug. Where's the Charlie from Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Him, I liked. This tiger illustration too, I like.

    Thanks girlie and right back at you. Enduring friendship. Thanks. Means the world to me. Must run. Must stop writing in sentence fragments.

    XOXO - Penny