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andthenkate.com

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#1. You get catcalled by a panhandler. I tell you, a girl opts out of elastic-waist pants ONE NIGHT and it’s like hell freezes over. Add some shiny red peep-toe pumps and you get an extra lewd remark (please see below). I really think that we mothers of America are not giving the male homeless population nearly enough credit. They are like the kings of compliments. A little loony, sometimes, and possibly blind, but still, really good with the flattery.

#2. You have vodka for the first time in months. When Adam got into his cocktailian phase three years ago, all vodka was banned from the house, for it is apparently “the shit of the cocktail world.” I’m not sure you knew this, but only PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW BETTER drink vodka, for it is COMPLETELY USELESS and also it SHOULD NOT EVEN BE CALLED A SPIRIT. FOR GOD’S SAKE.

So I of course get vodka drinks whenever I go out. Fueled by the knowledge that I have a “rockin’ rack,” I ordered a pear martini with vodka. Two sips in, I felt much like I imagine Moses and his people did when manna floated on down from heaven. I blew a kiss to the bartender. It was embarrassing, but I was four long sips in at the point so I didn’t notice. Viva la ethanol.

#3. You discover that the people inside your computer live outside of it, too. Turns out that the group of people I was meeting was held up at the airport, which meant more time hanging out at the restaurant bar. Another slug of pear martini and the restaurant suddenly seemed like a highly appropriate place to move. What was not to enjoy? There was no one to disparage the vodka, nary a toy in sight (even on the floor I KID YOU NOT), and the menu listed cherry-pepper calamari as an appetizer. If society wasn’t so big on parents staying with their children and actually, you know, NURTURING them, I would have pitched a tent and called it home.

As luck would have it, the ladies below showed up and shocked me back into reality. But you know what? If reality is getting to hang out with the hysterical Cher@The Only Girl, very sweet Jessalyn@Cape Cod Awesome, and adorably raunchy Monique@A Day in the Life of a Surferwife in my hometown, then maybe real life isn’t that bad.

The lack of vodka still sucks, though.

Hello there, persons of the blogosphere! I write to you from atop the Green Mountains, or at least atop one of them, or at least not far from the top of one of them! We have left the wilds of the Greater Boston area for a four-day weekend in Vermont, an event that is becoming something of a yearly tradition. It is also an event that strikes me as particularly hypocritical, considering I spend the other 361 days of the year moaning about suburbia and how we need to move back to a city. You’d think being this far from a metropolitan area would make my a bit hyperventilatey, yet somehow it doesn’t. I think the sheer distance to a major city simply overrides my City Gene.

That and the fact that it is absolutely freakin’ gorgeous up here. You can’t spit without hitting a phenomenal farmer’s market (because, you know, that would be the classy thing to do), and the locally sourced produce and bread and everythingdelicious is out of control. Plus you just can’t make up views like this:

Or the fact that you’re just ambling through a side-of-the-road sculpture park and stumble upon the most pristine stream you’ve ever seen, the kind you need to wade into and skip rocks through immediately, lest you go back home and remember never doing it:

And then there’s Burlington. While I may not be the worldliest of women, I have been more than a few places and I still maintain that Burlington, VT, is one of the best spots in the world. Honest-to-god hippies stroll shoulder-to-shoulder with Gap-bedecked UVM students, while tourists and locals alike stop to take renewing breaths of the fresh, Lake Champlain-scented mountain air, the foghorns of ferries and the tinkling of head shops and the melodies of live-music clubs all mingling to make you realize you’re really lucky to be there right at that moment.

Every time we visit Burlington, Adam and I throw around the idea of moving there, temporarily shedding our Big City Dreams for a lake-rimmed college town where we could eat our weight in local goat cheese. Then we remember, Oh! Winter! Samosa stands and charmingly dreadlocked neighbors, sure.  But constant multiple feet of snow? We’re just too feeble of soul for that.

Maybe Aura will realize the Burlington dream some day. Adam’s father and uncle both were born and raised in the city, and we tracked down their homestead yesterday. It, much like the city itself, looks like a good place to have grown up.

After all, and as we reminded Aura, it’s always nice to have a legacy, even if it’s far from the place you usually call home.

The other day, I was regaling a friend with a story of the previous night, a rather atypical evening riddled with Aura’s 10 and 11 p.m. wake-ups and then her sudden bout of midnight-timed chatter. “Oh, you poor thing,” the other mother said when I finished. “You must be so tired, not having gone to bed until after midnight!”

Since I have never been one to turn down free pity, I simply nodded, trying my best for the expression all those subjects in medieval martyr paintings have, that half-smile/half-grimace that makes you really wish you named your kid Joan of Arc instead of Aura, the goddess of breezes in completely unsaintly and nudity-laden Greek mythology.

Umm…oh yes. My point: I kind of hedged the truth. I was still wide awake when Aura woke up for the umpteenth time at midnight, probably tooling around on my laptop or contemplating the wisdom of buying black matte flatware.

Nice? Pretentious? Capable of showing every scratch? I'm all for advice.

That’s because I’m almost always still awake at midnight. I love the night, and always have. This wasn’t an easy thing to manage growing up, especially with a chirpy morning-person mother who was a firm believer in a Good Night’s Sleep, Especially If You Want to Do Well Enough in High School to Get into a Good College.  But once I arrived at the promised Good College (okay, so thanks, Mom), I indulged. Strolls around campus at eleven at night, forays to the university library at two in the morning, impromptu rides for pancakes hours after midnight…the darker, the better.

And it’s still that way. While I was pregnant, I harbored a gnawing fear that I’d have to change, that becoming a mother would mean that I would finally have to give up late nights, in favor of earlier mornings. Yet that hasn’t quite happened. Sure, Aura goes through phases when she’s rising near dawn, but they’re rare. I realize this is in large part because we have trained her to go to bed a bit later than her peers and therefore also wake up a bit later. And I know it won’t last forever, especially once kindergarten begins. But for now I’m thankful to still have my favorite part of the 24 hours, when the sun finally sinks out of sight and the night stretches before me, complete and thick and somehow full of more possibility than the day ever was.

I just hope Aura is better at surviving fewer than eight hours of sleep than I am. If not, I have a feeling we’ll be having the Good College talk sooner than later. But you better believe we’ll have it at night.

Recently, a motley yet somehow charming group of Fisher Price Little People hit the local water park. It was an afternoon as perfect as one spent at a water park can be, complete with intrigue, indecent exposure, and titillating violence. It was much like an especially good episode of “Gossip Girl,” but with less plastic.

The Little People, long relegated to the basement since the Child Owner turned two, were in desperate need of a bath. Covered with dust and beginning to show their age, the Little People resigned themselves to a soapy bath, a must before entering any public water amusement facility. (Also referred to as a P.W.A.F. Just so you know.)

While no one Little Person would have called the bath pleasurable, nary a complaint was made. The frog on Blond Man’s back did experience a panic attack, but dishsoap bubbles muffled his cries. Turns out that Dawn Direct Foam (Lime Surge scent) cuts not only grease, but also panicked screams. Handy.

Bath complete, it was finally time to pass through the gates into the main area of the P.W.A.F. One glance told the Little People all they needed to know: The park had fallen upon Hard Times. Instead of the bumper boats of days past, visitors were now offered Crocs on which to float. Not even real Crocs either. KNOCK-OFF CROCS.

Still relieved to be freed from the basement, the Little People decided to make the best of it. However, Necklace Lady, long homesick for the placid waters of her native Hawaii (French Polynesia? the Federated States of Micronesia?), did bring her cell phone into the boat with her to lodge a complaint, thus proving you can never truly satisfy a Pacific islander.

Headphone Lady fared better, balancing precariously on the tip of her Croc boat. Onlookers could be heard murmuring that she appeared to be on the verge of taking off her top, but these rumors were speedily squashed by the lifeguard, Pilot Man.

From atop his Tupperware observation post, Pilot Man sees and hears everything. Local legend has it that he will put down his steaming cup of coffee and promptly water torture any swimmer who gets out of line, but this might be nothing more than local gossip.

Then again, maybe not.

Happily, Pilot Man had very little other reason to scold park visitors this idyllic day. Nearly everyone behaved themselves admirably, even those waiting in line, a queue that stretched almost as far as the eye could see.

If any of the Little People were anxious about this guy, they hid it well. Apparently men brandishing gigantic wrenches at inappropriate times is not cause for concern at this particular P.W.A.F.

When everyone had their fill of the bumper boats, they moved on to Pirate Island, the P.W.A.F.‘s only other ride. Several Little People jumped in immediately, ignorant of the Dangers That Lurked.

Yet many others remained cautious about the, you know, GIANT SHARK. Kitten Lady opted for the safety of Pirate Island’s beach, her smarmy grin the only hint to her bloodthirsty voyeuristic side.

Cell Phone Man, never the sharpest tool in the shed, performed a lazy backstroke. Cursed with myopic eyes, he never even saw the shark before it ate him. Sigh. Life is so tragic. One minute you’re frolicking at a P.W.A.F., the next you’re nothing more than an inflatable shark’s snack. Rest in peace, Cell Phone Man. Rest in peace.

But Beach Ball Girl? She kept her eyes on the prize. Even as the lifeless bodies of the shark’s victims floated around her, Beach Ball Girl continued to lay claim to the treasure chest. This cold-hearted yet shrewd determination netted her $100,000 in gold coins. She has since used this fortune to start her own line of hair extensions, in partnership with Fisher Price.

The moral of the story? Not all blondes are dumb.

I freely acknowledge that I am not a vision of marital bliss by the time Adam arrives home most nights. He’ll walk in the door, announcing his exhaustion, and I’ll stare at him with something bordering on wrath. Carrot peels from dinner prep stuck to my face, driveway chalk crusted under my nails, a laundry basket wedged under one arm, I begin my oft-repeated litany on how he has NO IDEA WHAT TIRED REALLY IS.

Since both giving and receiving this speech can become dull after a while, I work diligently to mix it up a bit, peppering the diatribe with comments like I HAVE NEVER WORKED SO HARD IN MY LIFE and YOU TRY ENTERTAINING A THREE-YEAR-OLD ALL DAY and—my current favorite—YOU WOULDN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT A VACUUM IS IF IT HIT YOU IN THE FACE. (I find that this last one has a certain 1950s fishwife je ne sais quoi.)

Adam stands at the counter patiently, removing his shoes and mixing a cocktail as I continue to remind him of how lucky he is. On his train ride to and from work, he can read the news, relax along with some music. At work, he can participate in intelligent conversation, make critical decisions, brainstorm with peers. The socialization! The lunch options! The utter and complete lack of Curious George and twisted car-seat buckles and bunny-shaped macaroni and cheese!

Yes, I like to suggest regularly that his job is easier than mine. But on days like today, days of sandcastle villages and sunblock-scented salt air and drippy plastic cups of watermelon slush and a little girl who roars with joy every time a wave splashes her, I remember something else: I would never, ever say his job is better.

Three months or so after Easter, I have a Good Friday confession to make: I hit a bunny. With my car. On Good Friday.

I’m still not sure how it happened, except that I was driving and then there was a bunny in front of the car, and then…then there was no more bunny. It was as if it just suddenly materialized inches in front of me, in the dark. I’d make a reference to Bunnicula (oh, Bunnicula, how innocent you seem in these days of sparkly vampires and shirtless werewolves), but that seems a little disrespectful.

Anyway, I hit it and it was dead and the entire thing was beyond awful. (And, yes. I turned around on a nearby side street and drove back to check and it looked dead. Then when I went back two minutes later to check once again, this time to make sure it was a bunny and not a house cat that I should report to Animal Control, it was gone, which means it wasn’t dead but close to it, having dragged its little body, fur tacky with blood, into some nearby bushes ohgod ohgod ohgod.)

I’m telling you, you hit a bunny two days before Easter and it is factually impossible not to take it as a bad omen. It’s like plowing into Santa’s sleigh an icy week before Christmas, or accidentally smothering the Tooth Fairy with a pillow.

Plus, hitting a bunny is so much worse than hitting most anything else. For God’s sake, bunnies look like THIS:

The bad news: Unlike with Peter, one dose of chamomile tea at bedtime was not going to cure what ailed this bunny. The good news: Also unlike Peter, this bunny was not wearing a small blue jacket with brass buttons. If there had been one single brass button in sight, I would have driven to the nearest bridge and promptly jumped off it. A dead bunny I could survive. A nattily dressed dead bunny? I’m not so sure.

But back to the omens. While hell has not quite yet raineth down, someone on high has been screwing with me. Since that night, I have had four, FOUR, bunnies run across the road in front of me. Happily, I managed to not hit any of them. Such effort often requires Evel Knievel-type feats of driving,  involving much jostling of Aura in her carseat and much screaming from pedestrians. But for now, those four bunnies run unscathed, free to dart merrily in front of other unsuspecting cars.

Therefore and In Conclusion, given that I am putting such effort into not killing bunnies forevermore, I feel that it is only fair to ask the shortest person living in this house to STOP REMINDING ME.

Because, honestly? That green one with the bow tie is starting to freak me out.