Dear Parenthouse Fantasy Forum


Last night I watched Tim Burton’s Batman with Franny and Strudel. Franny drank a ton of water and could not wait any longer–she had to run to the bathroom.

“What happened?” she said when she came back. The Joker had just abducted Vicky Vale and Batman had just crashed his car on the steps of the ridiculous cathedral thing the movie ends in.

“Oh,” I said. Was this really happening to me? I had only read about these kinds of setups. “The Batmobile lost its wheel and the Joker got away.”

No one even blinked!


This morning I was picking up so I could dust my messy house and sweep the edges where Neato doesn’t go, when I noticed Strudel shoving Horace slightly. She does this sometimes when he sits on or near her, like she is trying to shoo him subtly. I know she likes the dog, and I never see her being outright mean to him, but I don’t understand this one. I think it’s one of the many mysteries of Strudeldom.

“Quit shoving the dog,” I said, as I folded blankets that were abandoned on the couch.


“Why? Because I will fire you if you don’t,” I pulled out of my butt.

“What’s that like?” she asked, very interested.

“Well, I will point at you like this,” I pointed at her in my most Trumpian fashion, “and I will say ‘YOU’RE FIRED’ and you will have to find a new home that has an opening for a seven-year-old who is NAUGHTY.”

“Do I have to go live in an alley?” she asked.

“No, you go live in a home for unemployed children. They have a couple downtown. You get weekly unemployment candy while you search for a new home.”

“UnemPLOYment candy? That sounds pretty good.”

“You’d think so, but it’s only 60% of your normal weekly candy, and you have to prove you’re searching for new parents to keep getting it. In the meantime I will be interviewing a few children candidates to fill your vacancy.”

“Are the children in the home nice?”

“Well, generally speaking, unemployed children are pretty angry.”

“Nice doggie!” she said, and petted Horace gently.


Fangsiving! Was weird this year! Not like weird bad. I just realized the only pictures I took were of the chickens in the backyard but everything came out really well, I think. I did a dry brine on the turkey instead of my typical brine bath and then kind of freaked out at the last minute and did the usual breast-covering with a cheesecloth soaked in butter and wine. AND THEN, since I am so clever I had a sandwich at like 1 a.m. and left all the turkey out on the counter, inelegantly solving the hair-pullery which is O what shall we do with the leftover turkey. Answer: spoil it.

I was having a lot of thoughts about how much I love Thanksgiving and yet it is this pageant of…not femininity, since a lot of men cook too, but this really elaborate display of domesticity. Then I got kind of depressed, both at these thoughts and about the idea that my brain can even try to ruin my favorite holiday for me.

I always think of my mother as I do when I think about both holidays and things that are PROBLEMATIC. She made it very clear that she did not like to cook, in general. Hamburger Accomplice was heavily employed at our house–anything to bang dinner out in 15. I could knit a flag about how terrible her cooking was and canned mushrooms and blah blah blah, but it’s pretty unsurprising from someone who is an avowed cookery-hater. When I was little we spent Thanksgiving at a grandparent’s house, and when I got older and she left my stepdad she started to make it herself. The turkey was fine, memorable only for being dry. The sides were phoned in and the stuffing was Stove Top. (This is the part where I say “But it’s okay, because it was done with love.” HA HA just kidding y’all.) The desserts were usually good because though she hated cooking she liked baking so that usually had a better result.

And yet she still went through hours of extra cooking for Thanksgiving, because even the most “button pops up when done,” prepackaged Thanksgiving takes extra time. She did it because That Is What You Do. (I have some things to say about myself and Christmas that relate to this notion as well, but I will save it for another day.) I asked myself, would I miss Thanksgiving if it was gone? Yes, certainly. Do I like the way my meals turn out? Generally speaking, I do. One year I felt my efforts were unappreciated and I boycotted the cooking and I regretted that and no one learned anything really, except new configurations in being a jerk, which is part of life too. Unsurprisingly this is from the three years that I was medium-mental from being overmedicated.

I do have a sidebar, and that is to say that I had a last-minute guest who came over an hour after they said they were coming and unfortunately, after we were done eating. Honestly, I thought they flaked and weren’t coming at all. Lately I am having experiences with hosting that are reminding me why I kind of stopped for two years in the last rental. Hand-written invitations that go ignored, etc. I’m FAR from perfect (I still owe my friend lunch for canceling a pie party after feeling overextended) but caring about etiquette used to just make me irritable but now makes me feel like an idiot, like I have missed some memo. When most people are rude and it’s okay it starts to feel like it’s my problem and maybe they are not rude? I’m still thinking. And feeling lucky that my closest friends are polite, OR have learned my etiquette foibles and are sweet to me.

6 thoughts on “Dear Parenthouse Fantasy Forum

  1. The unemployment bit made me giggle. I must use this threat so much more.

    “You will be fired as a mother and then you have to go to the center and cook for ungrateful children, but only 60% of what you usually cook, and they won’t be ungrateful unless you can prove you are looking for a new ungrateful child of your own.”

    Except that sounds like a pretty sweet deal, so maybe I should keep the firing threats to people who actually gain something from being in my presence.

  2. Etiquette! Goddomot! If someone sends you an invitation you SHOULD call or at least email to accept or decline. Though not required, I firmly believe one should never show up to a private event without a small gift for the host. If someone has you to a dinner, a party, or gives you any kind of gift (save for said host) you SHOULD send a thank you note. If you are a home renter and you have even a slight idea if you are renewing your lease (or not), you SHOULD inform your nearly broke landlord at least a month and a half before the end of the lease so they don’t become raging psychopaths in the few weeks before Christmas! AAAARG!

  3. I just can’t get over that golden Batman/Jingle Bells moment.

    The xmas when L & I were newly together we went to NYC to visit my family. One day we going to be out & about & then meet my dad in the evening at a holiday Garrison Keillor show at Carnegie Hall. One of the happiest moments of my life was hearing L. ask, that morning as we planned our day, “So, how long do you think it will take us to get to Carnegie Hall?” and getting to say “Well, I guess it depends on how hard we practice.”

    I had that same feeling. It really only comes once or twice in a lifetime. But the Batman one! How unlikely is that! It even happened at the right season!

  4. Typically funny AND poignant post, SJ.

    I was going to go on to talk about the domesticity comment which I truely did understand the frustration, my mum used get upset when her kids would scoff the tucker then start a fight or arguement to aid digestion, but really it made me sad and envious, your Thanksgiving.
    I wish I still had a family to share ceremony with, to be prefectly blunt. Even a ceremony where I had to do more than my fair share of the stuff would be gratefully recieved. Can be a depressing time of year.

  5. Hey there, isn’t SeaFed Showdown episode eleventy billion sometime soon? Hope it goes well!

  6. Fab post, SJ. So jam packed, so satisfying. Reminds me of something in Julie & Julia which I rewatched last night. I don’t love the Julie Powell parts. In fact, I sort of can’t stand that character. But I so love Meryl Streep as Julia that I suffer the Amy whatsernames screen time to get to the next Meryl scene. Anyway, what was I saying? (Mind gone to mush after keeping my mom with me in the city for eleven days. Parenting in reverse is giving me mom brain, I swear.) Seriously, what was I saying? Gah. Thanksgiving, Moms, Julia Childs. OH! Julie Powell’s partner in the movie said, “to the readers this is a blog, but to me it’s our life!” Gave me a moment of pause and caused me to appreciate the posts you share about your life. XOXO, Happy holidays to you and yours.

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