I’m trying to be all healthy and active and whatnot

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on new jersey, kitchens, and the big bang theory

I call this postpourri. Get it? Potpourri but in blog post form? And, yes, Tyler Durden, being clever is working out for me just fine.

Anyway, I wrote on MamaPop yesterday about the Sundance Channel’s mini-documentary-series Brick City. Part 3 of 5 aired last night. I think I’m a little too cynical to be really inspired by the efforts of Mayor Cory Booker. I mean, good on him for giving a shit and all. I think I’ve just lost faith in politicians having any higher callings than their own professional ambitions to propel them to action. And even then their “actions” are lukewarm and tentative and serve bullshit. *coughcoughObamacough* But I’m really, really drawn in by Jayda and Creep. I guess it’s the parenting aspect. Seeing those two just in it and trying so hard to be good people and struggling with the fact that they’re bringing new people into this questionable world hits me pretty hard.

Onto the lighter stuff. If you’ve spent any time around me, you’ve probably heard me whine about my kitchen. It’s small, though that’s not the main problem. There are three doorways, plus two covered-up doorway things. One was the servants’ entrance and the other I think might have housed shelves at one point. Plus, there’s a covered-up fireplace. The result is the most inefficient use of space ever. The previous owner’s home improvement skills were lacking at best and so his solution when it came time to update the kitchen back in nineteen-seventy-hell or whenever this perversion of home improvement went down was this crap:


That little slab on the right is the extent of my counter space. I do nearly all prep work on the stove and it’s only by sheer luck that I haven’t cut off a finger while chopping on a rickety cutting board perched on one of the burners. If you stop by for dinner, it’s likely that you’ll hear, “Just gonna chop this carrot. *chopchopchop* AUUGHHH OH JESUS. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Okay. Whew, they’re all still there. EVERYTHING’S FINE!”

Obviously, redoing the kitchen into something resembling reasonable, much less the gourmet pr0n version that I now want after working in this hell hole for 3 years, will require a LOT of money. And if there’s a perfect antonym to our personal finances, “a lot” would be it.

So, since I’m usually trying to make dinner here after a long work/school day, I’m often flustered and pissy and saying many disrespectful things about the kitchen’s mother. This results in some odd placements of items on my part and some questionable uses of space. Some are benign (“Why is the fucking muffin pan in the microwave?”) and some are more serious. The top of my stove houses the tea kettle, a lunch box or two, and my cast iron skillet and grill pan. (I was keeping those last two in the oven but always, without fail, forgot that they were in there and would preheat the motherfucker and in case you didn’t know, cast iron cookware gets hellaciously hot and even oven mitts are barely a match.)

Sometimes, the cast iron skillet becomes a temporary storage space. Like, for instance, about a month ago I needed some place to set a tomato and a new bag of brown sugar and a mixing bowl. Into the skillet went the tomato and the brown sugar and on top of them went the mixing bowl. And there they remained, forgotten, until last night.

I’m not sure what made me look in there, but I’m sure you won’t be surprised that I was confronted with rotten tomato ooze that was causing weird reactions in the skillet and coating the bag of brown sugar. And a smell that was somewhere between garbage juice and the Allegheny River that one time that my dad, the dog, and I went for an ill-advised swim and my mom wouldn’t let us near the house for the better part of a day.

I recoiled and in doing so knocked over a cup of chocolate milk and a cup of vegetable juice (that’s what goes for balanced nutrition in our house) that the baby had left on the stove. I then spent the next hour transferring the brown sugar to a new bag and attempting to rid the skillet of the smell so that we don’t have Cornbread with Garbage Juice the next time that we have chili. FML.

* * *

At the bus stop the other day, the baby hit me with yet another of his non-sequitur questions: “Are people in Antartica upside down?” Certainly, this a pretty typical question for someone his age and appropriately adorable. However, we sort of got into it.

“No. Well, there are only a few people in Antartica. They’re scientists doing research. But they’re not in Antartica hanging from the ceiling. They’re standing up just like we are. The earth is round and gravity keeps everything on the ground. There’s no real up or down or left or right in space, you know?”

“Yes, there is.”

“No, not really. Directions like up and down and left and right are things that people made up so that they can make sense of the world. But in space, where earth is, everything is going in every direction. Kind of.”


“Well, scientists are pretty sure that that universe began because of a big bang, that there was this, like, ball of energy and matter and one day it exploded sending stuff in every possible direction and those bits and pieces sometimes bumped into each other and blended and became new planets and galaxies and stuff.”

“Like how Saturn’s moon exploded and formed its rings?”

“Yeah, kind of like that.”

“Do you think you could ice skate on Saturn’s rings?”

“Well, no. I mean, besides the fact that it’s, you know, Saturn, remember how on that show we watched they explained that even though Saturn’s rings look solid, they’re actually lots of bits and pieces of rock and dust?”

“Oh, yeah!”

“It’s like…there was this artist, Monet. And his paintings, if you’re far away, look like water lillies and people relaxing in the park. But if you get up close you can see all of the little dots and strokes and when you look at his paintings really closely they don’t make sense. And like the cells that make up your body, too.”

“Not my skin, though.”

“Your skin, too! Your skin is made up of tiny cells that clump together and cover your body. It’s called perspective.”

“I know about perspective!”

“You do?”



I swear to god we had this conversation and only stopped because the school bus came. It was especially timely because I really, really need some perspective right now. Not the “there are billions of people who have it way worse than me” kind. I have that in spades. I need the “I’m looking at my 30-year-old self from a few years in the future and laughing at her because why didn’t she realize that everything was going to be just fine?” I would like that perspective in bulk, please.

5 comments to on new jersey, kitchens, and the big bang theory

  • You’re totally sending that last bit to the folks who write the sitcom, Big Bang Theory, right? I mean, you know that’s the only reasonable destination for such an exchange. But you have to include a picture of the Baby.


  • Mary

    The fact that you take the time to have conversations like this with your kid is just one of the many reasons that you are an awesome mom.

  • Kirsten

    Holy hell, you have my kitchen. Except I have TWO of those little slabs of countertop. I swear, when we own this house, we’re doing an Extreme Makeover – Home Edition smackdown on this place…

  • hmm. i am wishing i had more info on your kitchen to help give you ideas how to cope temporarily.

    do you have a rolling cart? at one point we bought a small rolling cart, an oversize plastic cutting board and that helped- shelves, work space, cutting space. what is adjacent to the kitchen? dining room? hall? what? are the doors to these other spaces used? can you use any of the space beyond the doors like an impromptu pantry? over the door wire baskets or something like an over the door ironing board, but countertop instead?

    our kitchen is small (not nearly as bad as yours) and we have shelves, the microwave, trash can and small appliances out in the other room. we just hung curtains from the ceiling to conceal the shelves. it really helped.

  • Chad

    You can show the little man this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBTFtz72ckU

    It’s a video of a friend of mine walking from one building to another at the base at the south pole.

    If you really want to blow his mind, tell him that the guy is holding the camera upside down.

    (BTW the video isn’t very exciting, until you think about the fact that they are in Antactica)

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