Monday, January 25, 2010

The Professor

This morning on the way to school, Claire asks me why it's raining in winter.

Me: Do you know about the difference between water and ice?

Claire: No. [Scrunches up her face in concentration.]

Me: Okay, well, both rain and snow are just water that's falling down from really high up, in the clouds.

Claire: [Scrunches up her face a little tighter.]

Me: You see, water and ice are both the same thing, water. Water freezes into ice if it gets cold enough. That's why a lake or a pond in the winter can turn into ice if it gets cold enough. Or if I put a glass of water in the freezer at home, it'll turn into ice because the freezer is very cold.

Claire: [Scrunches up her face so much it looks like it hurts.]

Me: So when rain is falling down from the clouds, if the air is cold enough that rain will freeze on the way down and turn into part ice, and that's what makes snow.

Claire: [Her face is now so contorted her eyes are slits and her teeth are fully bared, like she's making Scary Tiger face.]

Me: Does that make sense?

Claire: Yes.

Me: Then why are you making that face?

Claire: Because you farted.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Claire's obsessed with stuffed animals. And her mother and maternal grandparents have been happy to oblige her obsession to the point that each week when she shows up at my door it's normal to see her holding some brand new pillowy pet - always a girl, almost always acquired from Target - whose name I'm about to learn and just as quickly forget.

I'm not thrilled at the wasted money involved or the dulling of Claire's ability to appreciate and get some mileage out of a new toy, but you can't argue with the love and devotion - even if fleeting - she showers these things with. So I just roll my eyes at every new addition to her collection, make some crack about the hurt feelings and abandonment issues that last-week's pet-of-the-week is probably suffering through, right this very moment in some godforsaken corner of her bedroom at mom's, and then let her be.

This morning I was walking her to the door at school and she was doing her usual walk five steps behind dad while singing made-up songs and gazing at the sky and petting the new stuffed animal thing. In this morning's case the animal is a small mechanized Panda (I already forgot its name) that she got during her stay at Granny's yesterday. It's a Furreal, which is a line of animal toys that makes sounds and has creepy motorized movements. Because they are basically a thin layer of felt wrapped around a hard, mechanical box these things are completely un-cuddleable. But Claire, who has not been able to talk either parent into getting her a real dog and understands on some level that this is as close as she's probably ever going to get to real-life interaction with anything other than her emotionally detached cats, loves them to death.

So we're walking and Claire is lagging and singing and gazing and petting and before I could turn around to tell her to speed up I heard her stop, cry out "Oh, no!" and burst into insta-tears. "What's the matter?" I asked but no answer was required because I could clearly see the soiled mud splattered all over her new white mechanical panda, which she has just dropped into a puddle.

She's bawling and I'm telling her "Don't worry, I'll take it inside and clean it up in the bathroom and if that doesn't work we'll clean it at home" but really I'm thinking, "We're fucked because this mud is not coming out." Claire didn't really stop crying but she looked hopeful.

I left her at her locker to do her tasks and consort with the sea of large heads, small bodies and big eyes that is the kindergarten/first-grader wing of her school after first bell and headed for the nearest kiddie bathroom. Surprisingly, the mud came right off - I guess the wizards at Furreal were wise enough to coat the toy's fur in some kind of stain resistant chemical - but it took me about five minutes of washing this thing to do a dutiful job. And as I turned it upside down and back again and dabbed at its butt and armpits and ears and nose the thing barked at me the whole time, hating its bath and demanding to be returned to its new mom. "Oh, shut up," I said, and continued scrubbing. But when I was finally done, and had paper-towel dried it and held it up close to my face for one last inspection, the thing actually started purring in my hand and looked at me like, "Thank you. Thank you so much. I'm sorry I barked. I'm actually grateful you got those stains off me and you're actually a much nicer person than I gave you credit for."

And I swear to god that me and the mechanical panda, whose name I still can't recall, bonded.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Maria Bamford

This is who Kirst and I saw last night in Ann Arbor. My mind is still blown. Funniest person on the planet.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010


I snagged these two photos from my mom's house when we visited this Christmas.

Megan says I look Guatamalen in this picture, and I don't think it's because of my freedom fighter clothes. It's funny because Rod is Guatamalen and people always say we could be brothers.

That's my brother Chris on the right with the exposed rib cage. I don't know why he looks like he's been starving in a concentration camp. Maybe we were playing POW rescue or something.

My mom, showing the '80s how it's done.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Vaccum Cleaner

This vacuum cleaner was a gift from Kirsten's sister Sarah. To my eyes this thing is a beautiful work of design. I love its simplicity - it's like the Platonic form of a vacuum cleaner - and '50s The Jetsons futurism. I've never been this excited about an appliance.