Ellis & Barnes: Serious Mothers!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


"I'm 21"

Festivities at the Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club were cut short Saturday evening, as the playground to the area's most affluent neighbors became a gruesome scene for a double fatal alligator attack. Binny Harlington and Krystal Snowe, both 19, were sunbathing on what they thought was a safe patch on the golf course when the gator made its move; ripping their nubile, hairless bodies apart in record time. Miami-Dade County Police have been talking to the only witness to this attack: Robert "Deuce, Flipper, Bear, Jazzy, Six-Pack, Weasel, Suds, Heckler, Goose" Brannigan, 21 of Everglades City.

"I was at the country club to help my best buddy Trent win back his girl, Christie and impress her parents", Brannigan described carefully in a tone not matching the levity of his tuxedo tee shirt. "At first we posed as waiters, but then Christie's ex-boyfriend Blaise recognized us, tore off our mustaches and told his dad who owns the club, so we ran away. We tried for Plan B which was to sneak back in dressed as an extremely tall person wearing a trench coat and then Trent would get Christie alone to tell her his feelings while I would distract the crowd by starting a dance craze." Brannigan paused to compose himself and went on, "What happened though... was boobies."

According to the witness and police, Brannigan was supposed to duck out from underneath the trench coat and set up his demo tape of synthesizer pop music on the PA system to start the dancing. Instead, he went into the men's restroom where he heard a conversation from the women's restroom between Snowe and Harlington about going sunbathing. "I peeped through a hole and saw boobies", Brannigan confirmed. Unable to help himself, Brannigan followed the girls and hid behind a bush while peering over the rim of his sunglasses "Jazzy style". The next thing he saw was the last moments of the victim's lives. "It was horrible. It wasn't as hot as you'd think."

Brannigan is working with police and the parents of the victims to find some kind of closure. "A vigil is being organized with candles, stuffed animals, poems and all of the girls' hottest friends", Brannigan brightened up slightly, clutching his Wayfarers. "I can't bring back the two girls, but what I can bring back, at least, is ONEHELLUVAPARTY!"


Saturday, September 18, 2010


I remember the day I stopped reading Cosmopolitan. The article was called “When You Don’t Get Along With His Pets”. I could see how eventually there would be such an article in Cosmo, but I wondered how the people involved who orchestrated the accompanying picture got through it without either quitting on the spot, or dying from laughter. The photo showed a park bench. On the left side sat the angry sexy Girlfriend, legs and arms defiantly crossed, red dress, red lips, sick red heels, even sicker cleavage, looking off into the distance. In the middle sat the “Arrrgh! What do I dooooo?” Boyfriend, his head in his hands, heart splitting two ways, hair delightfully Dylan McKay crunchy. On the far right, a Great Dane sat on the corner of the bench, looking out on the (photographer’s assistant holding a treat) horizon dramatically thinking: “It’s me or her… Dear God… Please pick me, Oh Captain, My Captain… Pick ME!” Leave it to Cosmopolitan to inject some high-octane sexual tension into a picture of a dog and a lady having an argument over a guy. How stupid did they think we all were? I got through half of the article before declaring out loud to the magazine that I had given Cosmo many chances, but this was it: “When I was nine, you provided me with some good laughs at the word ‘vagina’ in your advice columns. When I was 20, you provided me with some ‘mind blowing’ techniques from your endless Mind Blowing Well. I’m even going to miss how often you use the phrase ‘Mind Blowing’ on your covers. Now that I’m 26, it’s time to part ways. I haven’t outgrown you Us Weekly, but I’ve outgrown YOU, Cosmopolitan Magazine. I plan to use the money that I’d be spending on you, toward getting a real phone in my studio apartment. I will, however, continue to keep blowing minds in that apartment with everything I’ve learned from you. That’s a mind blowing promise.”

The main promise to myself though, was getting a telephone. Between rent, utilities and foodstuffs, I was freshly-ish divorced and still hustling for cash working part time at The Gap and exotic dancing a few nights a week. A few months into this routine, I picked up an extra club and got more dancing shifts. I eventually phased out all of my Greetingwhoring at The Gap altogether. The money was better, but I still couldn’t afford a landline due to an astronomical phone bill balance left to me by my ex-husband. I needed a way out of having to call my clubs every day (up to five times) from the payphone three blocks away to see if they needed me when I was on call or to find out if I could pick up a double. This was especially frustrating during Portland’s monsoon season when my umbrella would get me more wet inside the phone booth than if I just stood out in the open. My scheduler suggested a simple pager; I could get a very affordable one that would allow people to leave messages as well as the standard call-the-number-displayed feature. After a trip to Radio Shack, I had a pager!

The pager was compact and Royal Blue. The weight felt good in my purse and its ring (set to a sharp ‘chirp!’ alert) made me feel like James Bond. I at least felt ‘official’. I made sure it was easy to grab, so when it would ring in public, I would snap it out of my bag with the adroitness of a close-up magician. “Sorry, I have to check this”, I would say, sometimes even to strangers or when I was alone. The pager and I worked as an efficient team; I only spent quarters knowing that I had a reason to call and my work was able to keep me in the loop. My club people felt confident giving me shifts because I always called back right away and always showed up early and prepared. I would call back within five minutes and cheerily say: “I hear Felony’s got strep. I can be there in twenty!” One of the clubs would call me more often simply because I wasn’t drunk and I didn’t play what they called ‘weird music’. (Weird in this case being that one of the ‘girls’ – who was about fifty years old – would play, I’m not even kidding, Calypso by John Denver.) I was definitely a Golden Girl Scout of stripping. If you looked in my apartment, you’d see that a gal with an honest and strong work ethic and a love of Michael Shayne mystery novels lived there. There was nothing illicit and nothing that would suggest that I was irresponsible. Or would suggest that maybe I was a powerful college drug dealer.

A pager made me feel responsible, but to the apartment that looked directly out at the phone booth, it made me look suspicious. In the beginning of the pager days, I would run down to the phone every time the pager chirped. In addition to getting work messages, I also had a very active social life, so I got quite a lot of calls especially on weekends. I always had quarters, so there were days I would go to the phone upwards of eight times. Sometimes I would let the messages build and just respond to the direct number calls to save some quarters and trips (and also stay dry), but every time I went to the booth, I felt an eye on me from the apartment inhabited by an elderly couple a few feet away. On one particular day, it really dawned on me that maybe these people thought I was a drug dealer. Now, if they were strictly in ‘judging book by its cover’ mode, then I guess I couldn’t blame them. When I got back to my apartment, I looked at myself. Wow. Where do I begin?

Upon hearing the chirp first thing on some mornings, that would get me up right away and I’d throw on laundry day clothes or just something to cover my eyes and head. I lived in a college neighborhood on the edge of downtown, so at least if I wore sunglasses, then I wouldn’t have to look any college students in the eyes. On this day, I wore what I had been sleeping in, cocooned in a grandpa sweater with holes. I threw on cowboy boots, a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses. I was your Uncle Larry with Alzheimer’s who thinks he’s Holly Golightly at the rodeo. The sweater wasn’t fooling anyone – that thing was basically a polycotton dirge. It was time to have a kind of… I don’t know… ‘phone booth makeover’?

If I was mindful enough to carefully apply lipstick before going to the Plaid Pantry for my smokes, Apple Jacks and magazines then why couldn’t I do the same to make my calls? It was because for a while, I truly believed that if I didn’t interact directly with anyone then they didn’t see me. The polished lady with the slick ponytail and winning smile who went to Plaid Pantry was a goddamn supermodel compared to the freak show on the corner who answered her pages – and I was both. I started pulling clothes just for early morning paging emergencies. These looks were put together, but not too put together. It was a college ‘hood after all, so I added a prop to bring with me to the phone booth: a thick smart looking book. If I was going to be perceived as the Pablo Escobar of 13th & Clay, then I was going to be well read. The thickest hardcover I had that was manageable while writing down my schedule was a thrift store copy of Peyton Place. I took the cover off so it could easily be a book about math theories, science or Jesus Deeds if ever asked by the elderly apartment dwellers. All of my other books were either little vintage pulp novels or gigantic coffee table books about movie stars. I would buy someone who just happened to have a book with them when they got paged… you know, because they were reading it, but I wouldn’t buy someone casually lugging around a colossal ten pound beast of Grace Kelly wedding photos. That’s unnatural. Even for me.

About six months passed and I finally got a landline. This was at the height of my ‘party supply store’ decorating aesthetic, so I bought a beige thrift store telephone and painted it gold so it would pop against the red Mylar South Pacific talent show cruise curtains. It was a huge relief to finally have a phone – mostly for my parents who were in Sydney and couldn’t understand how I lived. Every time I would call them from the booth, they would ask me why I didn’t have a phone and it would lead to an argument about money. I was honest though; they knew what I did for a living (the hardest conversation I’ve ever had to date) and in what financial state my ex-husband had left me in, but I wasn’t going to ask them for cash again. I had before, but it was time to dig myself out. Having a landline gave them some peace – or as much peace as they could allow themselves, given that I had put them through hell in my twenties. At least they could call me and I could call them. On the Goldfinger phone, we started some repairs on our relationship.

I loved how when my phone rang, I didn’t feel the desperate race against the clock to run to the corner to return calls. I could answer or not answer. The times I answered, I stretched out like Ann Margaret in Bye Bye Birdie, gabbing and feeling a teeny bit of success as I thought about my diminishing debt, and that I was taking care of it on my own.

And then there were the days when the phone would call and rain would fall. Cozy indoor, dry and with no umbrella to struggle with, I’d put John Denver on the record player, dip into a bag of weed and just let freedom ring.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Parenting Fail

Gosh, I hate to take away from Jordi's beautiful post about being pregnant and my first ever guest blog post, but I just have to share.

Stefan took Katy Belle, you know, our 1 year old daughter...the apple of my future assassin, scientist, super model who teaches the whole world to read? Yeah, that daughter...well he took her up to the Tot Lot (previously mentioned on this very blog, a place for sweet, little babies to go crawl around on tiny play ground equipment far away from big kids).

That's nice right? Well apparently somebody came by and spray painted a giant penis on what I call the "banging board." I am not sure that is the name I will use going forward.

There were a lot of children there, but only mine apparently got her picture taken with the penis.

I can't even begin to go into the mixed feelings I have about this (one of horror and one of hilarity) and I am definitely not going to get into the things I said to my husband for even taking this picture.

I will however reenact how I think the painting went down.

Nefarious 13 year old kid with spray paint: "Yo, it's Thursday night. What should we do with this spray paint?"

Nefarious 14 year old kid who secretly likes watching Castle with his mom: "Hey, yo, how about we spray paint a penis on this and babies will touch it and shit."

High fives, high fives.

End scene.

I think we have our Christmas cards!


Monday, September 13, 2010

I am a Guest Blogger

Join me PPPAers as I travel through the internet and join the lovely House Wife Bliss on her blog! THIS IS HER BLOG. CLICK ON ME!

She is all things nesting and house wife blissing and she is also hilarious.

I am making hot pepper and garlic jelly and only once burn myself. Jamming is way easier than sewing as you can't see my horrible mistakes in a jelly.


Saturday, September 11, 2010


One!... Two!... One! Two! Three! Four!

The Learning Channel is the Playboy Channel for hypochondriacs. Reading their programming info, it’s best to start at the Beginner’s Level with Untold Stories of The E.R. and then work your way up to the Aw, Hell No! / Fucked Up Level of Mystery Diagnosis. Real episode titles of Mystery Diagnosis include: ‘The 13 Year Stomach Ache’, ‘The Man Who Turned Orange’, ‘The Woman Whose Legs Were Killing Her’, ‘Mistaken Amputation’, ‘The Woman With a Knife in Her Head’, ‘Blood & Fire’ and ‘Why Is Emily Screaming?’ Shoehorned in between these programs and the ones about child pageants and midgets married to giants are the pregnancy and baby shows; the very reason why Web MD is so popular among out-of-their-shit paranoid mothers-to-be. All it takes is picking a demographic from Column A and a reproductive challenge from Column B to get someone in rural Tennessee to drop their Mountain Dew and say: “Fuck, Daryl! Take me to the liberry! I got to get to a ‘puter!” And there’s your Column C.

"I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant".

This is a show on the TLC Network. The title explains everything. Tune in to I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant and what you’ll see are a lot of women who were pregnant and didn’t know it. Right up until giving birth. At least when I had no clue I was pregnant *coughforthreemonthscough* I found out before, say, labor time. “Who the hell doesn’t know they’re pregnant?”, friends say when we talk about our favourite trashy television. Well, apparently me. I don’t exactly have a brain like a cheese grater, but do I count? “Ha-ha! Morons. Have you guys seen 'Hoarders: Buried Alive'?”

“I’d put you at about twelve or thirteen weeks”, said our midwife on the first official confirming everything visit. On one hand: Yay! First trimester, pffft! Out of the way. On the other hand: Yikes. What can three months of weekend vodka… And maybe some ‘other stuff’ do? This child might have three heads and if that’s the case, then it might be a case for Mystery Diagnosis: ‘That Baby Has Three Heads’. TLC my Brother, you bring everything full circle.

So we’re here. The first sonogram is on Monday as are a few tests just for those in the Advanced Age Maternal bracket. I’m 41. When we meet our child I’ll be 42. That’s not old, but it worries me a little. Before finding out about this pregnancy, I was told by my general doctor that I was starting to enter menopause. My gynecologist at the time told me that I should have a hysterectomy to take care of some things that were making my life very difficult. Like the pregnancy with Evangeline, our first daughter, I didn’t see any sign that I was pregnant. None. I took my sore boobs (this time) to be the heralding of a summer storm. The thing that made me take a test this time was that I nearly threw up on Ted after catching a whiff of his chicken strips. We were at a karaoke bar. I knew I needed to take a test immediately. I got a hold of a few tests and decided to not break tradition; I found out I was pregnant with Evie at a mall, so it only made sense to find out if I was knocked up with her sibling at a bar. There was no way I was going to honor this with any sort of good taste. I think Evangeline is the luminous magic creature that she is because I fell in love with her in a food court ladies’ room, inches away from a California Crisp. She took her first real steps while we were watching "Crank II: High Voltage" as a family. Why seek out a regal scenario of patrons holding opera glasses at a tennis club piano recital just to pee on a stick? All I needed to encourage me as I sat there holding these drug store instruments of science was someone singing Danzig’s "Mother" just outside the door while young girls with Red Bull breath bitched about how "You guys, Kyle is like, THE biggest douche...".

I must have been so out of my head with excitement and terror that I "did it wrong". The tests came out with no results. I waited until the next day and then took two tests. One of them said "Pregnant". The other one, I accidentally dropped into the toilet.

I sit here in bed on a Friday night, every muscle in my tummy stretching out like memory foam. My moods have been pretty outrageous (like Gem – who is truly outrageous), and I’m trying to keep my brain and mouth and body from tearing each other down. I went off of my antidepressant a few weeks ago, which was huge. The surging hormones and sudden lack of common sense that the Cymbalta had provided me with, has turned me into Gran Torino Clint Eastwood. Not cool Dirty Harry Clint, but Clint the angry forgetful coot with a shotgun. Despite this lucky, joyful news, I feel angry all the goddamned time. It bubbles up for no reason and it’s up to me to let it fly when no one is around so I don’t push it deep down into Resentment Town or count backwards softly from one thousand when we’re on a crowded bus. Anything, ANY THING to try to not take it out on Ted. With the irrational insane anger comes massive guilt. This is where therapy comes in and I thank my stars for that, because the next words out of my mouth are going to be ungrateful and harsh and sound annoyingly entitled.

"Get off of my lawn..."

It’s not that we never talked about having a Second, but we also never tried. The week before we found out, I was researching adult refresher ballet classes and thinking about The Next Thing. The Next Thing For Myself. Sometimes the anger comes out of nowhere, but sometimes I know exactly where it comes from. At times it’s one hundred percent undiluted fear. Will this baby make it? What have I already done to fuck this up? Am I worthy? Can I do this? Given my body’s track record, it’s terrifying. Other times it goes darker; I can be a selfish bastard at times. Along the lines of looking at classes and planning a trip with Ted without Evangeline in the early New Year, (possibly Hawaii), I was fantasizing about starting a job again – any job. Anything to get me into a routine again involving listening to music on headphones ALONE on the way to a place where I can speak like a grown-up with other grown-ups. Anything to get me out of the house after spending two rewarding yet exhausting years inside of it raising a beautiful, tornado of a little bean.

And now I’m looking at a few more years inside of a house trying not to go mad. It’s rewarding. It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done. But my knees are making noises and I’m so tired, Maaaaan! I think it’s okay to at least acknowledge this. Some women don’t and some of those women drown their own kids. I’d rather teach mine how to swim.

I’m finding out that if I actually say out loud The Thing I’m Angry About as I’m feeling it, (no matter how ridiculous it is or how much of a brat I sound like) it usually goes away. Sure, bones are creaking, and I can’t take ballet. Wah-fucking-wah. No one wants a pregnant ballerina in their class. Besides, I wasn’t cut out to play Giselle even on my best day. Still, I need something that is mine that doesn’t say: “Juice! Juice! Mama juice!” twenty times, only for her to pour it on the dog as an experiment.

On the flip side to this honestly dark B Side rant is the A Side; The Hit Single. The song that makes people want to buy the record in the first place. A lot of B Sides are experimental because there’s no way the B Side can be discarded without getting rid of the more popular A Side. The B Side to The Monkees’ sun-filtered “Pleasant Valley Sunday” is the hypnotic and beautifully sinister “Words”. I’ve traditionally been drawn to the B Sides my whole life.

But here’s the A Side:

The very moment I saw that ‘Pregnant’ in the window, it was on. That particular smile that attacked me at the food court mall nearly three years ago came back to my face as if it never left. I patted my tummy. I air-kissed it for a minute before rushing downstairs to find Ted. He knew before I showed the evidence to him. So much excitement and planning. A sibling for Evangeline! We cried happy tears.

And it was a Sunday.


Friday, September 03, 2010


With it being in the high 90's and totally disgusting outside, Katy Belle and I have been inside...a lot.

She has played with all the usual suspects and they have lost their charm so I needed a cheap solution to mix things up. I know, how does a pot, a wooden spoon, and a string of mardi gras beads lose charm?)


I had a ton of scrap fabric leftover and there have been some half eaten bags of beans in our cupboard for well over 3 years that were just begging to be bagged.

This is the bad crafter's perfect project. Can you sew a square or rectangle or at least sew two peices of fabric together? BAM! Bean bags.

You can't mess up beanbags unless you fill them with glass.

Without further ado...BEAN BAGS!

 You know who loved them and was dying to play with them?

Not my child. Apparently this was an activity to keep ME from going crazy. Oh, this is actually a great naptime sewing project. You can make 5 of these in no time.

She really did play with them.

Here is video proof...including "songs for toddlers" a subject I plan on writing about soon.

Untitled from Epic Family on Vimeo.

(Let me guess. It's a pizza.)

xoxo, Biz

P.S. A very happy shout out to my Pony partner, Jordi, who is 3 months pregnant!!!! Hooray!