Monday, March 30, 2009

Not Dead, Just Hibernating

"You should have given me a nicer punishment!" Crabkid crabbed at me last night when I beat her with a stick or whatever it was I did as negative reinforcement for impishness.

That's the only parenting-related line I can think of that is worth sharing with you today, my friends. It certainly gave me a chuckle.

I've never taken a 3-week hiatus from this blog before. Nor have I written the kind of post I'm writing today. Which basically has no content. Nor much in the way of juicy phrases. Nor pithy anecdotes, whiny musings, nor sage/sassy pronouncements on parenting of any sort.

Y'alls, I'm just finished in my head. The head is empty. There is nothing there. Plus we was away. See? I can't even conjugate verbs anymore! We was at my sister's wedding. Crabkid got to wear gold shoes and attend ski school, which she tells me she will never attend again. A day of ski school absorbed the last of Crabhubby's 401K fund. Oh, well.

If you're looking for a less mentally flaccid Crabmommy, I will, for the penultimate time in my life, direct you to the bloglet where you can hear about my swimming in a community pool en famille. I got a way-intense wedgie up my left butt-cheek on account of swirling around in a furious whirpool. Yes, this is the second-to-last time I will direct you to the bloglet, for I have been downsized and after this week there will be no more bloglet, no more second blog at Cookie.

We can't say we didn't see it coming. Perhaps it was long overdue. Still, it will be hard to replace that gig so I'm fretting. It will be hard to fight over a secretarial job at a dental school with the rest of the city. We will all beat each other about the ears with our transcripts from Ivy league grad schools. But I have a foreign accent! And if that doesn't work, I can make a strange chicken sound from the back of my throat which I have honed since childhood and which I have been told is most unusual and impressive.

And how goes it wit' you?

Monday, March 9, 2009

One fish, Two Fish, Red Fish--Dead Fish!

In which we discuss the dead fish.

You may recall the Crabfamily acquired three guppies recently, yes? And I did not like their home, a hot-pink aquarium complete with bulbous lid and garish purple gravel. Still, I am not so cruel as to punish them for what they have no control over. So I dutifully fed them, chlorinated the water, massaged their tiny fins...in other words, what were meant to be my daughter's first stab at having a pet instantly became my new charges.

If you want to hear the full saga of the red-tailed guppy's demise, go here. Here at Blogger I'll try to summarize. After a week of feeling sick and at first enjoying and wallowing in it, then growing annoyed with it, I spent what felt like my entire weekend engaging in: watching a guppy languish and then expire before my very eyes; getting into a passive-aggressive battle with Crabhubby over who, exactly, was to blame for the dead guppy; secretly buying a replacement guppy; driving all over town in search of the right fish and fishy accoutrements; and scrubbing purple gravel to rid it of fish-flake fungal blobbiness and assorted nitrites, or whatever the heck they're called.

It was exhausting.

The good thing about my weekend: I met Ed the Aquarium Man. Ed is the fish expert at my local Petco. He looks the way a fish expert should: slick, gingery ponytail, barrel chest. Somehow that seems right for a fish expert. Ed told me loads of not uninteresting factoids about guppies. Did you know their tummies are tinier than their tiny eyeballs? You do now.

I promise this will be my last post on fish, but since it is my last post I'm going to let myself go a little and muse upon the significance of this moment: I can safely say it's a lot of work keeping guppies alive. They may look easy but they challenge you in ways you never imagined. They require more of you than you signed up for. They also cost more in both time and money, as I discovered when had to call all over town for a miniature aquarium heater, which I found at a fish store called The Wet Spot. Gag! the Wet Spot was fairly busting with people and buzzing with fishy assistants in blue coats, sporting multiple piercings in the nose, lip, and eyebrow. In a recession it seems everyone heads for the fish store and buys up entire schools of guppies and squids and exotic whatnots. I guess in tough times, in lieu of a trip to Hawaii people just get themselves a tropical fish and be done with it.

In conclusion: I am pleased to report that we now have three healthy guppies. If my single-child only decision ever wavers at the sight of a melty-cute newborn, I will remind myself that even a guppy is too hard on my wallet, conscience, schedule, marriage, and brain power. Even a guppy is too taxing for the Crabfamily. Even a guppy can barely be kept alive in this house. Even a guppy is cause for resentment, stress, strife, martyrdom, and all in all is way more work than I bargained for.

So if you ever hear me say something mushy about babies (perhaps unlikely for the Crabmommy but I do have my mushy moments) just say these three words: remember the guppy!

Your turn: how was your w/e?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sick Mommy, Lucky Mommy!

One of the trickiest things about being sick as a married person is trying to remember if you displayed enough empathy the last time your spouse was sick, to ensure that you will be brought cups of lemon water with honey, discharged from all parenting and domestic duties, and otherwise be encouraged to wallow in your misery, aided, abetted and generously supported by the other grownup in the house.

Unfortunately for Crabmommy, sympathy for grownups with flu is not part of my genetic makeup. When Crabhubby starts telling me about a scratchy throat or that "something's coming on" or that he doesn't feel "at my best," I can actually feel this little sympathy center deep within—the amygdala?—shrivel up into a raisin. Instead of immediately thinking of the spouse, I immediately think of myself. Because when the other parent is out of commission it is you who will have to take on the job of looking after both a real child and an infantilized, incapacitated adult.

And so the game goes. This weekend it was I who had to utter the lines that are meant to elicit sympathy from another. Lines like "my hands feel clammy" or "I think I'm getting a fever" or "my head hurts" or "I feel weak." These lines work in two ways, in the double-speak of marriage: they are as much intended to describe the symptoms as to warn the spouse that they need to get their act together because soon you will be totally out of commission. And Crabhubby has been appropriately sympathetic. He has duly taken on all household duties and left me in my bed with a copy of Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, who is in my view the much funnier Amis. And I think it is on account of the Amis that I speaking rather formally and grandly to you here from my perch in my bed, laptop atop my knees.

So when I told Crabhubby that I felt weird and that I had a strange taste in my mouth, I was confident that he would react with the sought-after sympathy. Because I was in credit. I had points stored up. You see, while I do not have the genetic disposition to feel sorry for flu-stricken adults (I inherited an impatience for illness from my mother), I have learned the hard way that one must feign tremendous interest in and pay attention to the spousal illnesses, especially in winter, because you need to save up points so that you you, yourself, will receive similarly tender loving care when it's your turn. And usually it's your turn right after theirs.

Since Crabhubby had only last week been gently ministered to by me, and I had pretended extreme interest in the various subtleties of his virus, I have managed to earn myself the same loving care in return. The whole thing is a perfect metaphor for marriage. You give them what they want and they will do unto you the same.

I wasn't always so forward-thinking on this subject. I used to react snappishly when Crabhub came down with something and I would huff about like a martyr, making a big production out of mixing Theraflu. But I'm glad to say that I have learned from my mistakes. Which is why I am having such a nice time right now. With points in credit I'm actually loving being sick. My flu virus is just one of those where you feel weak and achy and have a cough. Nothing too revolting. And I get to lie in bed and watch the sun slide around the room. I get to read my book in the daytime and not feel guilty. The door is closed and small people are ushered gently but firmly away from Mommy's bedside.

I am helpless, unable to attend to any duties in the outside world, nor any duties within the home. I am encouraged by others to sleep and "take it easy." I have only one job: to convalesce and recharge my batteries. In other words, I'm on vacation.

Best I end it there, people. I need to conserve my strength. All this blogging has tired me out, set me back at least two days. Oh dear. Poor Crabhubby. Lucky me.