Ayelet Waldman


New York Times Best-Selling Author

Blog Archives: April 2009

 

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Why is it that when you go to Costco or Target (as in the photo above) you end up spending more money than you would EVER spend anywhere else? I took Rosie to Target to buy one thing -- a prize for having survived another week of Lindamood Bell. ONE THING. A Polly Pocket. I did not intend to replenish the present closet by purchasing a dozen Lego, art supply packs, etc. I did not intend to buy enough shampoo to last this family three decades. Nor did I plan on stocking up on razors or Advil or Method cleaning products (please tell me these are okay for the environment, because they smell so good.) NO! I planned on a quick in and out. A quick grab and go. And what happened? I was trapped, lured, seduced. Do you KNOW how much all that crap cost? A prize for the person who guesses!

At least I can rest easy knowing I have contributed to the economy.

Posted on April 27, 2009 at 7:00 PM  |

Tonight I had the most delicious dinner at my favorite restaurant, Pizzaiolo in Oakland. Charlie Hallowell, the restaurant's owner and chef, seems to have making money as one of the lower priorities on his menu. In addition to creating menus with the most astonishingly delicious ingredients, he keeps opening the restaurant to charitable organizations. Tonight's Sunday Soup Supper was to benefit A Safe Place, a shelter committed to ending domestic violence.

Michael was off doing a fundraiser for Zen Hospice, so the kids and I gorged ourselves on soup and about thirty-seven pieces of bread. (72 points). Rosie was very zen-like and ate carrot soup, the boys and I ate our weights in pork pozole stew.

Posted on April 26, 2009 at 8:36 PM  |

Today Rosie and I planted a teeny tiny edible garden. 3 feet by 2 feet. We planted 1 basil plant, 1 tomato plant, 1 mint plant, 1 parsley plant and a bunch of flowers in this tiny little area. We're hoping for a jungle. See? I can be just like Michelle Obama. Now, if I could just get her arms. Because mine? Yuck.

Posted on April 24, 2009 at 8:15 PM  |

A couple of weeks ago I spent TWO HOURS in a class learning how to do this dance.

Posted on April 24, 2009 at 8:11 PM  |

OK, OK, yes of course I have an opinion on leaving one's children by the side of the highway. Oh Madlyn Primoff, I know your pain. You're nuts, but I totally get it. How many times have I been tempted to do the same? They squabble, they hit each other, they shriek and wail. They cry and moan. They bicker and bitch. Often I feel like dropping them off by the side of the road, or better yet tossing them out of a window. There isn't a mom or dad among us who hasn't had the same feeling. Hell, Jules Feiffer wrote an entire book on the subject. And a fine book it is.

My dad once left my younger brother and me by the side of Route 17 in NJ, about 6 miles or so from our house. I was probably in sixth or seventh grade. He came back (I think he just drove up an exit, U-turned and came around), and we got in the car and went home. Now, do I think this was a wise or responsible thing to do? Obviously not. Would I do it? No, I really hope not. Should that woman be prosecuted, should her kids be taken away from her? I really doubt it. I mean, order parenting class. Keep her kids under the jurisdiction of the Department of Social Services for a year or so to make sure there's no abuse. But this just doesn't qualify to me -- on it's own, in the absence of other abuse -- as a reason to remove the children from the home, or the mom from the mom.

Wouldn't it be nice if the DSS actually saved children who were being abused, and reacted rationally to cases where there was no real abuse? Yeah, sure, but not bloody likely. My mom, who ran a WIC program in Paterson, NJ, always said you could rely on them to intervene when intervention was unwarranted and ignore cases of true abuse. I don't envy these social workers their jobs -- it's grim, and hard, and every mistake could be a potential disaster -- but they need to be more balanced and, well, sensible.

Maybe if we paid social workers more -- like ten times as much -- we could have a staff of qualified, undemoralized professionals who would be more likely to use their judgment wisely.

Posted on April 22, 2009 at 4:31 PM  |

It is so rare that one has the opportunity to have experiences that match exactly the glittery fantasy of adulthood one had as a 13-year-old. When I was thirteen, I had this very clear idea of what my life would look like once I shed my Dorothy Hammel/Farah Fawcett hairdo, once Dr. Pomerantz (he of the massive uncorrected underbite) removed my Spanish-inquisition braces, once the large zit perpetually decorating the tip of my nose healed, once I traded in my acid-green cowlneck sweater and teacup-sized Magen Dovid for designer duds. I would live in NY or Los Angeles, a fabulously successful and respected actress - think Meryl Streep not Goldie Hahn -- with a darkly handsome intellectual husband on my arm. I would be stupendously wealthy, of course, and I would preside over a long dining table full of scintillating guests.

Twice in the last 44 years has my life actually, for a moment, approximated that fantasy. (Actually, I pretty well nailed it in the husband department, but other than that, not so much). The first time was at the home of my friends David Ziff and Alan Bell. David and Alan are caterers and David, a former lawyer, is one of the best chefs I know. One evening, after Michael had an appearance at the 92nd Street Y, we went to David and Alan's and had a long delicious meal standing at the island in the middle of their caterer's kitchen. The company was cracking witty and wise, the food was beyond amazing, and it was at once casual and utterly divine. Even as I stood there I said to myself, "This! This is it!!"

Last night was the second time. I was on the host committee for another of Alice Water's amazing dinners. This one was in LA, at this house. Yes indeed, this little old material girl from NJ got to cavort (or, well, eat) at Madonna's old house. Let me repeat that. MADONNA'S HOUSE. Not to mention Bugsy Siegal. I kept expecting Scott Baio to jump out from behind a pillar.

The food was out of this fucking world. (Profanity demanded by the quality of the fried chicken). A Southern church supper prepared by the legendary Scott Peacock. There was the aformentioned fried chicken. There were devilled eggs (best I've ever had, except maybe for David's lobster devilled eggs). There were peas and dumplings. And -- god bless the South despite its sordid history and hideous politics -- there were biscuits. BISCUITS that like to make you die, honey.

So the food rocked. But the thing that made it so incredible, beyond climbing to the top of the tower to see the best view in the entire city, or stepping into the octagonal bathroom which has made it so that I will never be happy taking a crap anywhere else as long as I live, or sipping fabulous wine by the side of the pool under the arbors groaning with magenta bougainvillea, was the company. My lord, the company.

First the astonishingly talented Jeffrey Blitz, but hell, I can hang with him any old time. (This is a moment for an aside. Jeff is not only talented, but he's one of the dearest men I know. He's brilliant, sexy as all hell, and sweet sweet sweet. And, he's forgiven me for fucking him over once many many years ago. Gotta love that.) Then Davia Nelson, who knows everyone, knows everything, and it pure bliss to be around. And a decidedly cute guy with a bald head who was doing the very polite and kind thing of flirting with me, sort of like the flight attendant in the previous post. And Matt Groening who has my vote for best dining companion in history. And...wait for it people...Eric Idle. ERIC IDLE. Be still my heart. At the end of the meal it was all I could do not to rush up to him holding a sliver of chocolate and saying, "It's wafer thin!"

See? I'm telling you. What a night, man. Now my life goes back to normal. Bad hair, weight watchers points, my dear dear but decidedly not Monty Pythonesque friends. Oh yeah, and my kids. All good, don't get me wrong. Better than good. But dudes. I ATE DINNER IN MADONNA'S HOUSE!!!!!

Posted on April 19, 2009 at 1:51 PM  |

Yesterday on my flight to Los Angeles, the young (presumably gay) flight attendant, while asking me to put my seat back in the upright position, called me gorgeous. And beautiful. For about 11 seconds I was all atwitter. Gorgeous! Beautiful! But then I realized something. Men, gay or otherwise, do not generally call truly gorgeous women's attention to that fact. Unless they are supremely confident (or sitting on a high girder), they're too intimidated by the really beautiful.

Whom do they call gorgeous? Elderly women, the developmentally disabled, and the really really fat.

So, which one am I? I make faces when I write dialogue that sometimes, when I'm working in a café, say, make me look like a freak, but I wasn't working. I was reading a People magazine, so I know I wasn't twitching. Yes I do need to lose 5 or 10 pounds, but at 122 (ugh), I'm not fat. Chubby maybe, but not fat. So what does that leave?

I'm only 44 for God's sake. Am I really so old that gay flight attendants feel it's appropriate to condescend to me? "Hey Hon, my goodness you're looking nice today. Is that a St. John's knit?"

I was wearing AG jeans and a Marc Jacobs top! Is that the attire of an ancient crone? You know what, Mr. adorable, swishy little flight attendant? Fuck you and fuck your gorgeous.

Posted on April 18, 2009 at 9:14 AM  |

Forgive me for saying this, but what kind of people go to the funeral of a dead child whom they have never met? Thousands of people waited in line for hours to get into the memorial service for Sandra Cantu, the little girl who was killed in Tracy, California in what has got to be one of the more depressing cases of pedophilia and murder we've seen in a while. It's not that I don't understand the impulse. Grief and horror are compelling. God knows I read every article about this case and even searched the web once or twice to see if new details had been discovered. But the impulse to slow down and watch as the jaws of life pry the corpse from the wreckage or to stare at the prosthetic limb, while natural, isn't one a person should be proud of. The only thing you're honoring by showing up at the funeral of a child you don't know is your own shameful curiosity.

There's a reason that the word 'pornographic' has meaning beyond the merely sexual. We use it to refer to material that's sexually explicit, true, but also to that which is lurid or sensational. There's no doubt that some of the incessant coverage of this poor child's gruesome rape and murder verged dangerously on pornographic (not the former sense, but the latter). There's something unseemly about the 'mourners,' too. All these people who've never met her, yet are so 'moved' by her murder that they travel miles and wait for hours to 'pay their respects.' What's really motivated their compulsive curiosity?

It's creepy.

Posted on April 17, 2009 at 10:12 AM  |

Looks like the governor of Texas wants to secede. As someone who lives in one of those states whose tax dollars go to support those angry Southern secessionists, I say, you're welcome. Us in the lower 47 (46? 45? 44? 43?) will be fine without you. Who remembers this from 2004?

Posted on April 15, 2009 at 5:51 PM  |

I am just so thrown for a loop by this. When does this ever happen? There just aren't that many female pedophiles/murderers. Rape? Rape with an object? Forgive me for not being surprised by the Sunday school teacher thing. Isn't that the first thing they say about every pedophile?

Posted on April 15, 2009 at 4:29 PM  |

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I have always hated crafty moms. You know the type; they have arts & crafts drawers with labeled bins. They make their own non-toxic playdoh colored with vegetable dyes. They own aprons. With pockets.

Like all complicated resentments, this one is born of self-loathing and envy. Those crafty ladies fill their vacation days with projects. Their ideas of a good time with the kids don't begin and end with Disney. They don't gaze longingly at their novels or laptops and ache to be alone. Au contraire! They love love love paper mache. And the spell it papier måché. And their children are nicer and more intelligent than mine.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter might remember my diorama blues. It's vacation, and Abe loves to make dioramas. After days of blowing him off, I finally gave in. The results, obviously, are above.

Now here's the thing. It wasn't so bad. I mean, yes of course, it was stultifying. But in between making Sculpey animals I read the paper, drank my tea, and had a series of those adorable conversations that make motherhood worth the tedium. (Him: "Mooses have skinny legs, right? How do they balance?" Me: "They probably fall down a lot." Him: "They're klutzes, like daddy?" Me: "Precisely.")

Which leads me to my new life's motto. As some of you might know, Queen Victoria, mother of 9, ruler of Great Britain and the Raj for no less than 63 years, was supposed to have given this advice to the women of her realm, a technique for surviving the unwanted attentions of their husbands: Lie Back and Think of England. Ie., the realm needs your children, so suck it up and fuck your husbands. A quick Wiki search tells me that it was not in fact the Queen who supposedly uttered those words. The myth can be traced to a certain Lady Alice Hillingdon (1857-1940) who apparently was not overfond of her husband George, but even this is the stuff of urban legend.

Still, as a life's motto, I think it's a good one. In all ways. In the wake of my notorious I Love My Husband More Than My Children essay, when women would email and ask how it was I managed to salvage a romantic relationship with my husband while being a working mom of 4, I would often adopt a Dr. Ruth persona and give that advice. Not because I'm a prude, but because when you're tired and not interested in sex, if you just let him have the quickie he so desires, he'll be happy, you'll be happy, and in the end you'll find yourself enjoying it more than you might have thought you would.

It seems that this advice, so useful in maintaining the devotion of the male species, works equally well with children. In fact, it's even more apt. Because I like sex, but I hate arts & crafts, so I really do have to have a higher motivation to engage in the latter. England, needless-to-say, means nothing to me, except as a place where they don't buy my books. But I do love my children. And they do love projects. So there it is. I sucked it up, did the diorama, and you know what? It wasn't so bad. The whole thing lasted half an hour, less time than the tantrum would have, and now I have bragging rights forever. Don't complain kid. I made dioramas with you.

Posted on April 15, 2009 at 10:31 AM  |

Feeling passive-aggressive? Mothers Day is coming up. Surely there's someone you want to send a message to. Why not have a free copy of Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace sent to your favorite bad mother? It's another pre-order give away! Send proof of your pre-order of the book to me at ayeletwaldman@gmail.com, and I'll enter you in a drawing to have a book sent directly to the object of your passive-aggression (or devotion, you choose).

Here are a few handy links for pre-ordering:

Indiebound
Book Passage
B&N
Amazon

Posted on April 14, 2009 at 10:18 AM  |

When Michael is gone, as he is tonight, I fall into a kind of melancholy. I watch bad television, I indulge the kids. I get sad and wistful. And I do horrible things like imagine that his plane is going to crash. Co-dependent? Absolutely. But mostly just in love.

Posted on April 13, 2009 at 10:43 PM  |

Do you know what my kids had for lunch? Abe had popcorn, Sprite and Whoppers. Rosie had popcorn, Sprite and Sweet-tarts. Would it kill Landmark and AMC and the rest of the movie theater owners to offer real, honest-to-goodness food? I'm not trying to be the worst mother in the world. I'm not trying to be Alice Waters' nightmare. I honestly would much rather give the kids something with, oh, a single gram of protein.

Put in a burrito stand! How hard would that be? Sure, it would stink up the theater, but no more than on an airplane with everyone snarfing up their onion-laden gag-or-rama lunches and suppers. Or, all right, no burritos. What about In-and-Out Burger? They have trucks, surely they can manage a corner of the popcorn counter! Or failing that, airport food! Even a dried out caesar salad. I'd take that. But honestly, one more meal of Sour Patch Kids and DSS is going to remove my kids from my custody.

Posted on April 13, 2009 at 7:44 PM  |

And while I'm talking about the economy here, let me just say that I am furious, really really incensed, about all the shit I didn't buy over the course of the past few years. Every single pair of shoes, every Prada jacket, every new Toyota minivan, every goddaman tub of Creme de la Mer that I left sitting in the store because it felt too profligate to buy them. Well, you know what? If I'd invested in the fucking shoes I'd have them right now. If I'd slathered on that grotesquely overpriced skin cream, my eyes wouldn't be so wrinkly. And I wouldn't have to drive around in a minivan that smells like a cross between the inside of a teenage athlete's Adidas and a twelve-year-old carton of milk. Now the money's gone gone gone and I've got nothing to show for it other than a twelve-alarm case of agita.

Posted on April 12, 2009 at 5:50 PM  |

I am so tiresomely at one with the zeitgeist. First there was the gourmet doughnut idea (Krispy Kreme, anyone?). Then there was the myriad of baby items I "invented" and didn't bother to, well, make, patent, or otherwise take seriously enough to muse upon when out of pajamas. But now this is too much. Last night I had a dream that Michael's agent told him that she had failed to sell foreign rights to his new children's book in Europe, and that the advance would be correspondingly decreased. (Yes, this is how dull my dreams have become. I recently dreamed I was filling in my tax worksheet.) Obviously this ridiculously tedious dream was a result of anxiety about the economy -- the same impulse that keeps the wives of hedge fund managers from investing in a new pair of YSL Tribute pumps and the husbands of laid-off retail story clerks from investing in health insurance or, say, food.

And then, low and behold, the NY Times Book Review does a little backpage essay on author advances, timed, it seems, to correspond with my dreamlife.

Weird.

No, I don't plan to tell you the size of my advance. Very nice, thank you. More than some, a lot less than others. 'Nuf said.

Posted on April 12, 2009 at 5:39 PM  |

What do you say to a 6-year-old boy who starts to cry because he's got "bad thoughts" about mommy and daddy dying? Tonight Abie was crying about his "bad thoughts." Michael gave him a very good answer, that mommy and daddy aren't going to die until Abie is very very old. I'm too superstitious for that. I said it, knocking on wood and kenahora-ing right and left, but I didn't have faith in it, and neither, I feared, did he. This is a dark little guy, with a punk rock view of the world. So I asked him if he wanted to know what would happen if we did die, which we weren't going to do. He sobbed, and said, "Yes."

I said, "Uncle Steve and Aunt Jenni would move into this house with your cousins Ezra and Levi and they would take care of you for the rest of your life. They would keep you safe, just like mommy and daddy do." Within moments he was giggling about something else.

Some people are sure to think that was harsh and scary, but honestly, I think I said the right thing.

Posted on April 11, 2009 at 9:14 PM  |

Oh glory glory hallelujah. All I have to do to get skinny is be COLD. Freezing cold. According to my beloved NY Times, brown fat (I know. Yuck) makes you thin! Brown fat creates heat by burning up ugly old fat, so if you're cold, you'll burn fat! I feel like we used to tell that to one another in middle school, but it's true it's true it's true!!! Well, for mice anyway. But I'm having our furnace uninstalled.

Now I just need someone to verify that a massage will get rid of cellulite and my life will be changed forever.

Posted on April 9, 2009 at 12:55 PM  |

Honestly, who knew they'd be so expensive, these children of mine? I expected that the therapy would be on their dime, and would involve much grousing about how I destroyed their lives by 1. writing about them 2. being such a suck-ass mother and 3. refusing to let them have a Wii. Little did I know that I'd be paying for it. Poor sweet little Rosie is going to do 3 intensive weeks at Lindamood Bell's reading program, which by all accounts is awesome, but which I will have to sell a body part to pay for. Anybody interested in a droopy boob? Or a flap of stretched out belly skin? Or a kidney? Plus, she's got to go have binocular vision training, which smacks a little like those bizarro eye exercises they made my mother do back in the 50s that were supposed to "strengthen" her eyes and cure her myopia. How well did they work? Suffice it to say that one my favorite games as a kid was to steal her glasses while she was in the shower and then laugh hysterically as she crashed around the bathroom looking for them. But anyway, we're doing it, because apparently the girl can't "track" and the doctor says that he has a 90% success rate. The office is also in Marin so I'll be driving hours around the bay area. Thank God it's Rosie, because the boys would have told me to go fuck myself.
Anyway, go buy my damn book, because I need to pay for all these shrinks and ed therapists.

Posted on April 8, 2009 at 10:55 AM  |

I have a cold. There is phlegm and there is coughing. There is a sore nose, and there are red, runny eyes. The other day I took to my bed and felt remarkably better. I spent the entire day in bed (well, the portion of the day that I wasn't driving carpool) and my cold seemed to ebb. Then I got up and went belly dancing and, well, the rest is obvious.

Low and behold, Discover Magazine has given me permission to sleep through my next illness. It seems that in a study of 153 really really hard up people (because who else would voluntarily expose themselves to the cold virus), those who had less than seven hours sleep were 3 times more likely to fall ill. So, from now on, as soon as you get the slightest sniffle, take to your bed. Let the family fend for themselves. Better yet, force them to dance attendance on you. Demand chicken soup and chocolate. That's what I'm doing.

Posted on April 4, 2009 at 6:06 PM  |

This video is hard-hitting, but it's about time that we American Jews actually started treating Israel with the same respect that we treat our own government. Respect, to my mind, means expecting Democratic values, a basic commitment to human rights, and intolerance of bigotry. Yes, it's true that America has no right to demand anything of Israel. We also have absolutely no obligation to support them financially to such a dramatic extent. I resent that a single dime of my tax dollars goes to support a blatantly misogynist government in Afghanistan (see here for a story about a new Afghan law that allows rape within marriage, and mandates that all Shia women seek their husbands' approval before stepping foot out of the house), and I resent that a single dime of my tax payer dollars goes to support a government run by someone like this:

Posted on April 3, 2009 at 9:38 AM  |

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Posted on April 2, 2009 at 1:25 PM  |

So, Madonna is adopting another baby from Malawi, this time on her own. 'Splain me something. What is up with all the multiple adoptions? First there was Mia Farrow, and it was easy to say she was just neurotic and a little nuts. Brangelina for some inexplicable image (hello, vials of blood?) strike me as sensible enough people, for movie stars, and it seems like they spend time with their kids (although surely with a staff of dozens at ready hand). But why so many? I mean, really. We've got four and we feel like we're playing a game of whack-a-mole. This one has an issue at school, this one has a problem with a friend, this one has a cold. Whack whack whack. Why would anyone want so many. How can they possibly keep up?

Posted on April 2, 2009 at 1:17 PM  |

Project Runway is back! Out of legal limbo and slated to run on Lifetime this summer. This is seriously good news for us, as Rosie (age 7) has been grieving its absence. Two seasons ago, when her favorite 'designer' was voted off the island, she was inconsolable for days. Every time she thought about it her big blue eyes would well up with tears. There's only so much Tom Colicchio could do to alleviate her woe.

Posted on April 1, 2009 at 8:34 PM  |


CREDITS
Ayelet's site is based on the theme HELLBISCUIT by EvanEckard.com.
HOME PAGE: Author photo by Reenie Raschke. Big Barda illustration by Clarkent78. Photo of Pat Conroy by David G. Spielman.