When you're in a decent enough mood, the last thing you want to do is pop in a Sarah McLachlan CD. I love her. The woman is a goddess. She's written some of the most amazing lyrics ever. She's gorgeous. Her voice...ahhh...that voice is orgasmic. Truly, she's a goddess...but she's full of it.

Angst, that is.

I'm lost to those I thought were friends
to everyone I know
They turn their heads, embarrassed
pretend that they don't see
and it's one misstep one slip before you know it
and there doesn't seem to be a way to be redeemed

Okay, what's that about? And why does it make perfect sense to me?

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go listen to *NSYNC or some similar sort of bubble-bum-fluffanuttah music or I'll be up all night wondering if I should deny rage and cage tears.



Every morning (oh, all right, not every morning) I stumble down the stairs, slap on a bra and a pair of socks, lace on a pair of Reebok Cross-Trainers and haul my ever-expanding ass onto the elliptical machine in the family room.

I'm winded just thinking about it...


Forty-minutes later, I keel over onto the floor, my morning workout complete.

You'd think all the expended energy would turn my ass into an ever-shrinking entity, but no, that would be too easy. It's discouraging, but I figure if I don't slap on that bra and those socks, the ever-expanding ass will reach epic proportions of expandedness, so there I am, every morning (oh, all right!) slogging away on the torture device Mr. Lemony purchased with his American Express Bonus Points.

(frankly, I'd have preferred the flower delivery every week for six months, but Mr. Lemony is not one to think Gerbera daisies are worthy of his hard-earned free Bonus Points)

I decided I hate the elliptical machine. HATE it. Think burning supernova heat of hatred and you're close, but not quite there. Sure, it makes me sweat. Sure, it makes my hamstrings scream in agony. It even gives the biceps some attention, something they appreciate since the only action they've seen in far too long is the Lemony-Child-Lifting-and-Heaving-Into-Car-Seats-And-Shopping-Carts kind. And yet...

I hate it.

It bores me. I mean, think about it. You're standing on a spaceship of a treadmill and you're not going anywhere, you're not seeing anything, and you're certainly not smelling of Lemony Freshness while you're doing it. What possible good can come from that?

None, I say.

And so, in an effort to make the mornings more exciting...or at least less boring...I decided to start adding new forms of torture to the sweat ritual.

The first form involved a ball. A big ball. A big, big ball. A big, big pink ball. With paisleys on it. After I spent two hours blowing up this giant piece of bubble gum with the matchbook-sized air pump that came in the package, I was thoroughly exhausted. But, determined not to fail, I took a deep breath and spent an hour rolling around on the floor with the damned thing until my abs were screaming and my hamstrings were begging for mercy. When it was over, I was sweaty and sore, so I figured rolling around on the floor with a pink piece of paisley bubble gum was probably worth the effort, but since Mr. Lemony laughed his Perfect No Matter What I Eat Ass off the entire time...

Next, I put on my yoga pants...who knew they were for actual yoga and not Sunday morning trips to the produce market??...and followed along (oh, all right...attempted to follow along) as an obscenely limber man contorted himself while sitting in the middle of what appeared to be the Sahara Desert.

I don't know if it's because I was in the family room and not in the Sahara Desert or if it was the serene voice that kept saying "Feel your inner-eyes slipping into your brain" that threw me, but I spent most of that hour either in pain or in great peals of laughter.

When I wasn't in pain or laughing my ever-expanding ass off, I was fending off Lemony Mutt. The floor is her territory, you know.

I'm not sure the Great Exercise Experiment is working out as planned, but I'm not ready to give up just yet. Besides, rolling around on the floor with a paisley bubble gum ball, letting my eyes slip into my brain, and wrestling with a sixty-pound dog is nothing if not entertaining.



she's too good for him anyway

Today, Lemony Teen told me her boyfriend isn't thrilled with being low on her priority list and thinks she should reconsider what's important. I was appropriately outraged. I mean, how dare he?

I decided a little talk about how living her life that way she wants is infinitely more important than trying to please some doofus boy by doing what he wants was in order, but before I could utter a word my daughter looked me square in the eye and said:

"I have my sport, Honors English, Varsity football games, and really excellent friends. If he can't figure out why those things matter at least as much as he does...MORE, even...well, I don't want a guy who doesn't want ALL of me, and I don't mean the kind of all you need a condom for."

I am so damned proud of her.


vacation? what?

I'm crabby. Not just a little, either.

Why, you ask?

Mr. Lemony is home. Something about a vacation, he says. Time with my family, he says. Time to hang out and live in Lemony Splendor, he says. Ooookay, but so far this week he has:

Cleaned out the junk cabinet in the kitchen.

(I should say that the junk cabinet was in desperate need of a cleaning, but I didn't ask him to do it and he spent the entire time sighing as if horrified and disgusted by what he found, which, by the way, was nothing more frightening than a few coloring books and a box of Crayola markers)

Taken his car to be lovingly fondled by men with towels.

(what they were doing with those towels I have no idea and please, if you know, don't tell me)

Walked down Main Street in the pouring rain with Lemony Child on his shoulders.

(this was explained to me as a Fun Weather Excursion after I responded to a frantic phone call in which Mr. Lemony begged me to rescue them from the elements as Lemony Child screamed "IT? IS RAINING! THIS? IS NO FUN!" in the background)

Taken six samples of pool water to the pool store because "something just isn't right, I'm telling ya!"

(the pool has never been crystal clear-er than it is right now. of course I'm afraid to go in it...all that shock is bound to burn off a layer or ten of skin)

Followed me to the grocery store in an effort to understand what it is that I do.

(I could have just told him buy bread and flirt with strangers over lemon meringue pie but, noooo, he had to see for himself)

Made pot after pot of coffee.

(because those Fun Weather Excursions are so damned draining)

Made suggestion after suggestion on how to manage my time "just a little bit better, honey."

(aw, bite me)

Gone to not one but two movies...without me.

(now, in his defense, he did take Lemony Child and Brother to one of those movies, but he left me with his version of a Honey Do list and explicit instructions on how to weed the tomato garden so...aw, bite me)

And it's only Tuesday.


mia rocks

So mia took this picture of a bird. Lemony Child, being an odd duck, loves birds and has a whole "Ode to Birds" thing going on in her room and she been known to climb a few Costco carts herself...you see where I'm going...

Not only did Miss Mia send a gorgeous, glossy, and matted print to Lemony Child, she sent me a birthday card. With presents. And a chai.

Made me cry, she did.

That girl rocks.


where'd it go?

unkymood dude?


And I was so proud of myself for figuring out how to put the damned thing in there in the first place.



do you want jimmies on that?

Lemony Child: I fixed the dog's seatbelt. Now she's stuck.

Lemony Mum: That wasn't very nice, LC.

Lemony Child: I'll fix it.

Lemony Mum: Leave it alone.

Lemony Child: I said I'd fix it.

Lemony Mum: And I said leave it alone.

LC: I'll fix it.

LM: Leave it alone.

LC: Mum. I'll fix it.

LM: Leave it alone.

LC: But I can fix it.

LM: If you touch it again you're going to bed as soon as we get home. I told you to leave it alone, oh, six hundred times.

LC: I don't think you told me six hundred times. Maybe two hundred, but not six hundred. And anyway, I'll fix it.

LM: Leave it alone.

LC: TWO HUNDRED AND ONE! You said it two hundred and one times! My evil plan has worked! I'm a genius!

LM: Your evil plan?

LC: Yeah. Can I have ice cream?

LM: No.

LC: Don't you think you should reward my evil genius?

LM: No.

LC: Well that's just wrong. What's the point in being evil and a genius without the mocha chip?


if only

Today is my birthday. I may have mentioned this already, but that was hours ago when I was sleep deprived and bemoaning a zit on my cheek.

The zit is still there, by the way.

There were many reasons why birthdays were not celebrated when I was a little kid, but the biggest reason was a mother who couldn't seem to rise above the drug-induced haze long enough to remember she'd given birth at all, let alone the day she'd done so. I do have a picture of myself at the age of three blowing out train-shaped candles on a pink cake, so obviously there was some celebration, but I should say that I wasn't living with my mother by then and that I have absolutely no idea who made me a cake. A social worker, maybe, or a foster parent, or maybe even the grandmother who eventually ended up stuck with me.

That picture is the only record of any celebration of my birthday for a long time. I didn't even know when my birthday was until I was eight. Nobody thought to tell me, I guess, but I never thought to ask, either. I learned my birthday was in August when a woman I called June put a cupcake in front of me at breakfast and said, "Today is your birthday, Lemony. I thought you should know that."

June smelled like peppermint. The cupcake tasted like lemon.

When I was eighteen, I spent a good portion of the summer fighting demons that weren't mine. There was this man, you see, a man with a mind capable of poetry more beautiful than anything Shakespeare could pen, and he was disappearing. For the first time in my life I stopped thinking about what I needed to survive. For the first time in my life something...somebody...else was more important. All the rules I'd lived my life by...don't trust anybody, don't believe in anything, and for shit's sake don't love anybody...went out the window.

I was convinced I'd lose vital pieces of me and that I'd never be able to find them again. I was sure I'd live the rest of my life with giant holes in my soul because of the rules I'd broken, but I loved him, and the battle for his soul seemed worth the risk to mine.

My upcoming birthday was totally forgotten. I had more important things on my mind.

On July 19th, with the battle for his soul still being waged, he presented me with a set of stackable rings ala Fisher Price.

"Have you gone mad?" I asked him, but all he did was smile.

On July 20th, I was presented with a doll made from cloth, with a painted on face and yellow yarn hair.

"Have you gone really mad?" I asked him, but again, all he did was smile.

On July 21st, he gave me a doll house.

"You're starting to scare me," I said, and instead of smiling he gathered me into him, kissed my forehead, and said, "And for the first time I'm no longer scaring myself."

The gift giving continued. Every day it was something different, and every day the gifts were older.

"What are you doing?" I wanted to know.

"Count backwards, darlin'," he said. "From your birthday to the day I gave you a baby's toy, and then you tell me what I'm doing."

And so I counted back from my birthday, and realized that July 19th was 18 days before my 19th birthday, and that he was giving me presents...for my first birthday, my second, and so on, something for every year I missed growing up.

"But why?" I asked when I understood.

"Because I see six-year-old Lemony hiding in a closet without anybody to remember her birthday and my heart hurts," is what he whispered before he danced with me to celebrate my Sweet Sixteen.

I still wear the diamond earrings he gave me for my eighteenth "birthday" and I still weep at the memory of him looking me in the eye and saying, "If only."

I never asked him what he meant. I didn't have to.

I knew.

they say it's your birthday

It's my birthday, too.

Technically, it's not my birthday until 11:45 p.m., but I'll be damned if I'm waiting another 24 hours to be old. Embrace the ancient, I say. And so, I'm ancient.

Or at least that's what my kids tell me.

As I slip over the top of the youth hill and head down into goat years, I'm discovering all kinds of new age-related afflictions. Laugh lines being the most obvious...and no, they are not wrinkles, A, so you can go on and bite me...but even more disturbing than the laugh lines are the, get ready for it, zits.

Yes, I said zits. Can you even stand it?

I cruised through high school without a single zit. Four years of teenage hormone hell without a single blemish. My friends absolutely hated me, of course, but I had not an ounce of guilt over it. In fact, I frequently taunted my most favorite people with my Noxema commercial skin.

So tell me, now that I'm goat old, why do I have zits?? I wash my face. I cleanse my pores. The Noxema has been replaced by age-defying, anti-wrinkle, and yet still-gentle-on-the-skin products that cost more than I'm shelling out for gasoline these days. Yet there they are, angry little red bumps with ookie little ook volcanos spewing, well, ook.

How ridiculous.


artist thy name is not lemony

So, there's this pig.

Sorry...I should have warned you it was a scary ass pig.

Apparently this pig can tell me a few things about myself, like that I'm a realist, I'm friendly and remember people's birthdays, I'm emotional, care little for details, and that I'm stubborn and stick to my ideals.

Oooookay. If the pig says so.

the part i kept

“Which part of me will you keep?” he asked me about a month before he died.

When I realized his eyes weren’t sparkling I knew he wasn’t looking for a wiseass response to make him laugh so I took a minute and thought carefully before answering.

“Your sense of what’s right and what’s not,” I finally said. “And your humor.”

His sad eyes filled with tears that didn’t fall. “Thank you.”

I nodded and felt my own eyes fill with tears as I watched him stumble from my room, his gait made unsteady by the neuropathy that plagued him.

The closet I use to hold memories springs open at the most unexpected times, and for some reason, this is the memory that makes the most frequent escape. It takes my focus and my breath away every time because when it comes I can't help but wonder if I've failed him.

"Your sense of what's right and what's not."

His sense of right slanted left, as does mine, so I’d like to think that I did keep his sense of what’s right and what’s not. Listening to the puppets and their masters spin their tales, though, I know my outrage would be bested by his. He always did feel things more intensely than I.

"And your humor."

But I'm not nearly as droll, as bitingly witty, as wickedly funny.

He was a good man, but he was also a man tortured by his past, worrying almost constantly about whether he was good enough and fearing love even as he longed for it.

When he was awake he was able to keep his demons at bay. When he slept, though, the memories and the demons he struggled with would haunt his dreams. Sleep was something he came to regard as an enemy to be fought, and fight it he did. He’d go days without it, and I could judge just how long he’d been awake by how many coffee filters appeared in his trash can.

Much to his dismay, sleep would always win, and when it did it was almost violent. He’d go grudgingly, fighting until the last possible second, until finally, with a twitch of his fingers, he’d slip down into a sleep so deep it was impossible to wake him.

It was painful to watch.

And now, all these years later, I realize what part of him I have kept, or rather, what part of him has kept me.

I don't sleep anymore.