Friday, May 13, 2011

Writing About Me

My brother and his girlfriend are moving into my father's garage. My mother is moving next door to my father--with her boyfriend. My grandfather has lost control of his bowels and mows through adult diapers like there's no tomorrow. My best friend's boyfriend of five years left her suddenly. My boyfriend's birthday is tomorrow. The semester is officially done. A student recently told me I need to stop assigning readings about "cancer and dead babies and stuff."

These are some things that have been going on lately.

I know I haven't been here to tell you about them. I've been wondering why I stopped writing. I've been wondering that for a long time, actually. My reluctance to blog started shortly after I started up with The Lady-Killer. Why? Because The Lady-Killer and I spent most of the summer and fall of 2010 in bed, but we did not--contrary to Christine's opinion--develop bedsores. Also, living with someone takes up a lot of time. Seriously. There are days when I get in bed at night and think, "I wanted to do, like, eighty things all day, and yet I spent a good chunk of time lying on the couch reading a magazine and watching TLK play video games." The glorious thing about these thoughts though--and this is showing some real growth here, people--is that they generally do not bother me. The fact that I got almost no shit done would have driven me crazy, pre-TLK. But my world since TLK is like a whole new world, one where a psychiatrist prescribed me a whole mess of anti-anxiety meds. That's right. TLK is like a walking, talking anti-anxiety pill. Plus, he has a lip piercing that feels really good when you kiss him.

And here's another thing. I don't want to tell you some of these things. I mean, I do. I really do. I want to tell you about a million beautiful things about TLK--how he's so funny and charming, how he sometimes makes me giggle until I think I'm going to wet my pants, how he makes really good scrambled eggs because he puts cream cheese in them, how we sleep on the same pillow at night (a fact that, when I told my friends Emily and Christine, almost made them barf)--but I also don't want to tell you those things. I feel more private now. I want to hold some things close to the vest. (I mean, see that list of cute things about TLK up there? THAT IS NOTHING. TRUST ME.) But there's just something in me now that is saying Shhh.

I think it has something to do with me protecting TLK's privacy, and mine. I also think it has something to do with growing up. I mean, back in grad school, you could not shut me the fuck up. I wanted to talk about myself all day and night. And then after grad school, I wah-wah-wahed for months about how sad I was, about how rotten and dumb my life had become now that I had graduated and been forced out of the loving cocoon of the MFA program, where everyone is batshit crazy in really lovable (okay, mostly lovable) ways. I wah-wah-wahed over the Wily Republican, who I now, for days at a time, sometimes forget even exists (oh glorious, happy day that I never thought would come!). Then I wah-wah-wahed over having to take up waitressing when my adjunct gig was over for the summer. Oh my God, how did anyone stand me?

But now, I sort of don't want to talk about myself. And that's really startling to me, because I really love to talk, and I really love to talk about myself. (This, I think, has something to do with my family. Generally, during every phone call my mother and I have, we will spend 15 minutes detailing how stupid our relatives, our neighbors, our coworkers, or other people out in the world are. Then one of us will pause and say, "Well, you know, because we're obviously perfect." Sitting in judgment of others and thus illuminating our own awesomeness is one of our favorite pastimes, right up there with badminton and pierogi-eating.)

Anyway, sometimes I miss writing about myself, and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I think, holy crap! That thing TLK is doing right now is so funny (or weird! or crazy! or ill-advised!) I really should write about it! (I've said it before, but I'll say it again: TLK is a lot like my brother. He's lovable in the same way and for similar reasons that have made a lot of complete strangers who read this blog fall in love with my brother. Therefore, I think he makes a beautiful muse.)

Still, I have struggled to get it right when writing about TLK. It's easier to write about my brother than it is to write about TLK. A lot of what's funny between me and TLK has to do with the origin of our relationship, and that's one of those private things I'm not willing to share right now. I don't really care about exposing my brother's weird foibles. The kid is related to me, but it's like he's actually not. It's actually like he's some glorious, horrible space alien that took over the room in our house that had been previously reserved for my mother's typewriter. That kid--the one who took over the typewriter room, which I used to think was its own kind of heaven? That kid I'll expose all day long. TLK though? I'd rather not. That one's all mine.

So that's part of it. The other parts I'm really still trying to understand. But right now I have the inclination to be quiet, but who knows how that's going to go and how long that's going to stick around? After all, when I go home this summer, my mother will be convincing my grandfather that he can never again leave the nursing home and return to his house and that she, in fact, will be renovating the house and moving in. (Wait. Did I say "will be renovating?" I actually mean "totally already did it and has already had new furniture delivered. Surprise, Grandpa!)

In addition, my brother and his girlfriend are consolidating all the things they went to the trouble to dig up for their new apartment, which they've only been in for one year, and they will be moving those things into a small room off to the side of my father's garage. They'll be living there for God knows who long, which means they'll be there when I arrive at my father's house for my usual summer R&R. I think this year my stay at Dad's house will be less like a quiet spa vacation and more like a sitcom staring a boy who once frittered away his life savings at a Hooters.

So maybe I'll be back, but maybe I won't. Either way, I wanted you to know that everything is good--more than good--and that I'm just wrapped up in it, loving it, and being quiet about it for right now.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

So's Your Face

I'm writing something new these days. It's set in a high school in small town Maine, and while I think I can do a good job supplying the characters with dialogue that is realistic for their age group, it has been an unexpected stroke of luck to be living with The Lady-Killer, a boy who's--let's face it--closer to his old high school experiences than me, the girl who, two summers ago, had her ten year reunion.

TLK has a really robust vocabulary--I've often heard him drop words that make his friends scrunch up their noses and say, "Dude, what the fuck does that mean?"--but that robust vocabulary doesn't follow him around everywhere.

He has, after all, been known to answer the question, "What do you want to eat?" with this: "Your butt."

In fact, "your butt" or "my butt" or simply "butt" is an oft-used response in this house.

"What's shakin?"

"My butt."

"What do you want to do tonight?"

"Your butt."

"What is that?"


So is it any surprise that I occasionally channel him and some of the phrases I choose for my characters? After I wrote the following exchange I took a step back, looked at it, and realized that there he was, my boy, speaking back at me through my characters:

Joe Geiger, the football team's backup quarterback, leans through the mob crowded onto the large mat to narrow his eyes at Amy. "Don't even think about it," he says. "We have a strategy here. We're, you know, trying to win."

"It's a game, Geiger," Amy says. "It's stupid."

"So's your face," Joe says, then he is swallowed up again by the group of jocks around him.


It also occurs to me that this exchange would please my brother very, very much.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Message from The Lady-Killer, 12:30 PM

We need sugar... I had to use powdered sugar in my Kool-Aid... it sucks.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bed Sores

The Lady-Killer and I have spent all day in bed. He got home early this morning--he'd gone up to the U. for a party last night--and we got in bed and decided to stay there. We got up only for practical things, like when I couldn't take it anymore, I was starving, I needed some food, I needed some eggs, Jesus God, after a night of drinking Drambuie and scotch, a girl needs a fried egg with cheese and hot sauce.

So I got up and fixed myself an egg. Then I thought better of it and plopped another one in the pan. TLK, after all, likes a fried egg--at the end of the semester, we went through a stage where we ate a whoooole bunch of fried egg sandwiches on homemade toast--and so I made some toast and jellied it and brought the spread back to the bed. TLK had told me he wasn't hungry when I went into the kitchen, but when I arrived back with cheesy, yolky eggs, he couldn't resist. So we ate the entire plate, and then TLK said, "Want another egg? I do." And so he went into the kitchen and--for the first time in his life--made some fried eggs.

Then we stayed in bed and watched a horrible movie called The Slammin' Salmon on Comedy Central (which, consequently, had a star rating of ZERO in the guide) and, on commercials, we played Plants vs. Zombies on the iPod.

Now it's six o'clock, and we're too lazy to fix more food, so we're going out for Mexican.

This has been a good day.

Monday, January 17, 2011

It's a Whole New World

The other day, after Katy read that The Lady-Killer had procured a pile of chips from a dumpster outside a Frito-Lay warehouse in town, she called and said, "You're SO going to eat those chips. I know you are! Jess of five years ago would have never eaten those chips! It's a whole new world."

I told her I wasn't going to eat those chips. I told her there was no way in the world I was going to eat those chips. But guess what? I ate those chips. TLK opened the bag of cheddar-sour cream Ruffles, which are, like, one of my favorites, and he said, "Hey! Look! These ones aren't even expired. They just didn't have a lot of air in the bag! I bet that's why they got thrown out."

And I tasted them. I just wanted to see. I tasted the dumpster chips.

I TASTED DUMPSTER CHIPS. What the hell is wrong with me?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

TLK + Dumpster Full of Chips = My Brother?

Let me be frank: I love chips. Oh my God, I love chips. Here's how sick it is: The reason I love sandwiches so much (and I love sandwiches A LOT) is because I get to eat chips with them. If you try to give me a sandwich without chips, I am going to ask you what the hell is the point. This means that this is an apartment that is always stocked with chips. Especially now, because I live with a boy who would die for French Onion Sun Chips the same way I'd die for Doritos.

Knowing this makes you understand the crisis situation we are in right now: This apartment is chip-less. Or, to be precise, it was chip-less until late last night, when the TLK arrived home from a jaunt with one of his friends. This morning I got a look at the bounty he'd piled on the stove: bags and bags of Doritos, Ruffles, and Cheetos.

"That's a lot of chips," I said.

He looked proud. "Yup," he said.

"Where did you get them?"

"Well, I bet you don't know this," he said, "because I didn't either until last night, but there is a Frito-Lay warehouse just down the road in the industrial park."



"And so... what? They were getting rid of almost-expired chips or something?"


"So they put them on sale and you stocked up?" I asked.

TLK smiled at me, the smile you save for a simpleton. "Something like that," he said.

I looked at him. He looked at me. I looked down at the chips.

"Did they have them in a bin out front or something?" I asked.

"Not exactly."

"Oh my God!" I said.

"They're fine!" he said.

"Oh my God!" I said. "You went dumpster diving for chips?"

"I wouldn't call it DIVING," he said. "It was just a giant dumpster full of chips. It's not like we had to pick through garbage for them or anything." He picked up one of the bags and turned it toward me. "See? It's just that today's its expiration date. No big deal." Then he realized there was a dark smudge on the bag, a crust of God-knows-what. He put it back down. "Doesn't matter," he said. "I'm still eating the chips. They're on the inside."

And that was the moment I realized TLK and my brother were the same person.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Seniors

When I was in high school, the seniors were huge. They were tall, yes, but they were also wise and larger than life. I remember them being really something remarkable. After all, when we first arrived in the high school--this being before they built the addition and gave everyone lockers that you could open without using the combination but by using, instead, a well-aimed punch--they had their own section of the school that anyone who was not a senior or a senior's significant other could not go into.

The year my class--the class of '99--arrived in our high school, the senior's lockers were solid. They were probably the same lockers they'd put in when they built the school, which means they were made of actual substantial things like metal and more metal. Whatever the new lockers were, they weren't anything special, and they certainly weren't set off by themselves in a glorious elevated alcove like the seniors' were. My freshman self sighed dreamily every time she passed that alcove and had to look up to see the seniors who seemed so tall and world-weary. They'd seen some shit, you could tell, and they had been rewarded with those lockers and late arrival privileges.

It seemed like the only way to live.

I was thinking about this tonight as I sat in the gymnasium of a rural Maine high school--the one the TLK attended--watching a basketball game The Lady-Killer's brother was playing in. It was a weird experience. I was sitting in the middle of a hundred sixteen year-olds and watching a bunch of varsity high schoolers play ball and all I could keep thinking was, Who the fuck are these people? These are the seniors? They're children! They're babies! They're skinny, sickly-looking little things!

They were nothing like my seniors. I went to a whole bunch of basketball games when I was in high school, especially as a freshman because that was the year we had an exchange student from Australia and, while he was only cute from certain angles, he had a voice like buttah and he could dunk. Back then, basketball games were a spectacle, and those boys were ten feet tall. They also could grow facial hair and had feet so big it looked like they could share shoes with Ronald McDonald. I should know. Once, in gym class one of the senior basketball players stepped on my sneaker during a game of speedball and it left a permanent black mark that could not be scrubbed away no matter what I tried.

This particular boy, whose name was Mike, was probably well over six feet tall, or at least it seemed that way at the time. He was a bit chubby and slow-moving. He was the super tall guy every basketball team employs to loaf around under the basket at all times, in the hopes that he will simply half-raise his arm and tip a basket in. One of my friends was desperately in love with him, and she spent the entirety of our ninth period gym class following him around the floor during speedball or mat ball or whatever ball we were playing that week. This was fine with me because I was in love with the Australian, who was Mike's best friend. While my friend panted after Mike and actually worked up a sweat during gym by looking like she was participating smartly, I spent the period dodging the speedballs the boys flung deliberately at the girls' heads, and I went to my safe place: an elaborately-concocted future where my friend and I married Mike and the Australian, and we lived happily ever after as next-door neighbors.

But at the high school game tonight I couldn't get over it. I really had no idea what I was watching. These boys looked like what I remembered middle school boys looking like. Even the ones who weren't playing but were clearly at the game to hang out and look cool and were thus not exposing their pale-Maine-wainter-chicken-legs to the entire gym looked like babies. And that's when I realized it: These days, the boys look younger than they did when I was in school and the girls look older.

One of the girls sitting behind me, who was draping herself around one of TLK's best friend's shoulders to piss off her ex-boyfriend who was somewhere in the crowd, had makeup that looked like it had been shellacked on by some makeup artist, pre-Golden Globes. Her eyeliner--which I still cannot manage--was impeccable. She didn't have a hair out of place. Her outfit was skin-tight and stolen from the pages of Seventeen.

I hated her. I couldn't help it. I thought nasty, shitty things about her in my head. And then I realized I was insane and made myself smile at her to make it seem that I wasn't some cranky old broad that had accidentally wandered into the student section and would leave shortly, after she'd soiled her diaper and needed to be changed.

After I smiled and turned back around I said this prayer: Dear God, thank you for letting me go to high school in the 90s. Thank you for letting me grow up in a decade where we did not look like that.

I've never been one to look back on my high school years with rage or despair; I've never walked back into the school after graduating and uttered, "Man, this place fucking sucks!" I know now and knew then how lucky I was: I went to a good school. I did not get caught up in anything bad or illicit. I had a sweet, smart group of friends. We were good girls. Yes, there were shitty times and days when I absolutely refused to get out of bed and go to school because high school was hard, but it was not bad. Not bad at all.

I grew up riding out the wave of grunge. I wore my father's jeans and old sweaters to school. We rolled the sleeves of our t-shirts up and permed our hair. We had ratty old flannel shirts ala Angela Chase. We wrote notes and then folded them elaborately. We sat in the bleachers and watched our big, tough seniors dunk basketballs and then, later, watched from the parking lot as they threw their duffle bags into the backseats of their cars and drove home. We waited for our parents to picks us up.

It was a gorgeous life, and looking back on it now, I think it was extremely romantic. It was a real Time. It was a time unlike this one, maybe, because it was the last of something, things were about to change, people were already getting a little kooked off the impending 2000s, and nothing was going to be much the same anymore after that. We felt it. The class below us always argued they were better because they were the class of 2000. They were the first of the century! But this is what we thought of that: So what? That's not something to boast. The first of something can almost always be improved upon; the last of something usually goes out with a bang.

I don't mean to generalize and use the old things were just simpler back then argument. In some ways they were, and some ways they weren't. But I am glad for a lot of the more simpler things: the notes written in study hall and passed between classes instead of the instant gossip grapevine of text messaging; the absence of social networks; the clothes that didn't cling to our body; the boys who looked grown-up and gallant; sleepovers where we had fashion shows and played Girl Talk or Mall Madness.

If anything, I think it was a quieter time, where kids were forced more to hack it out on their own. I spent a lot of alone time in my room, figuring things out about myself. Do kids do that anymore? Do they sit in their room, without looking at a computer, a television, a cell phone, an iPod? Do they have time to sit still and listen and think, This is me, right now. This is me and no one else.

I'm sure some do, but not many and not often. And when I sat amongst those high schoolers or recently-graduated high schoolers at the game, I was filled with a certain kind of panic as I imagined myself in their world, in their school at that moment. What would I love? Who would I love? Who would I be?

But I didn't want to know. I wasn't jealous of them and their slick 2011 lives. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my life, when and where I came from. And, also, as one of the boys on the court broke away with the ball and galloped toward the basket, I was seeing the Australian exchange student, his overly-gelled red hair, his long legs scissoring toward the key. I saw him lift, hover, float in the air above that basket before descending upon it and shoving the ball through the hoop as the entire gymnasium of our high school erupted in screams and everyone--not a single person glancing at a cell phone or iPod--leapt into the air because they knew they had just been the part of something holy.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Not Unpleasant Puke

The Lady-Killer is a pro at puking. (See also: Steph's wedding.) Well, he puked again last night, and this was a fact I did not learn until this morning, when we woke at 11:53 AM, which was long after he'd slipped into bed after getting home and kissed me several thousand times.

"Gross!" I said. "You VOMITED last night and then came home and made out with me?!"

"Hey," he said, "I brushed my teeth!"

That, at least, was true. The first thing he did when he came through the door was take off his clothes. TLK prefers nudity or almost-nudity whenever he is lounging around our apartment. If it were up to him, every day would be a no-pants party.

The second thing he did was teeter into the bathroom, where he commenced brushing his teeth vigorously (TLK is very serious about dental hygiene). He even gargled with Scope. When he got back to bed, he breathed his minty breath onto me.

"So," I said as the mint washed over my body, "you spent the night drinking peppermint Schnapps and now came home to wash it away with minty toothpaste? You're minted up."

Of course what he neglected to tell me was that he'd spent part of the night vomiting up the half bottle of peppermint Schnapps he drank (straight) before being driven back to our place, where he promptly tried to smooch me up.

"You're gross," I told him this morning.

"Well, let me tell you this," he said. "That was a not-unpleasant puke experience. Seriously! Peppermint schanpps is the way to go! It came up tasting just as minty as it went down! It's nothing like what I usually puke up."


"Jagermeister," he said, "usually comes up really sour. And that night at Steph's wedding? That was just a mishmash of drinks, so it was really gross. But peppermint schnapps? It's the ideal puke."

This, my friends, is handy information to have.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ass Turned Toward Fire

That was hard.

That last semester and that Christmas vacation, both were excruciatingly hard. I won't bore you with the specifics because they bore even me. Let's just summarize: I worked my ass off; (most) of my students did not. It made me sad.

Then I packed my car, said goodbye to The Lady-Killer and Abbey, and I drove home for Christmas. I looked forward to the trip home. I'd been craving Buffalo for a while. I kept having dreams about pierogi.

At home, I thought, I could rest. Relax. Decompress. But what happened was this: I ran. I ran a lot. I had a billion things to do, a billion places to be. And I also had to meet and mingle with my father's new girlfriend.

And here's where I utter something that makes me extremely guilty: I spent the entire two weeks being really, really annoyed at my father.

I don't know what it was exactly, but I spent two weeks grouching my way around Western New York.

"WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?" I asked the girls, who I was not grumpy at. (It's hard to be grumpy at people who keep me well-supplied with vodka and M&Ms and chicken wing dip.) "WHY AM I SO PISSED AT MY FATHER?"

Everything he did infuriated me. If he asked me where I'd been, if I'd had fun, if I'd seen this person or that person, I wanted to punch him. I kept thinking about that scene in My So-Called Life, the one where Angela admits that lately she can't even look at her mother without wanting to stab her. I just wanted to call up fifteen-year old Angela Chase and say, I feel you, sister.

My father wanted me to do this with his girlfriend, do that with his girlfriend, attend his girlfriend's family's party, go to a movie with his girlfriend, eat breakfast with his girlfriend... and every time he requested these things, I felt my shoulders involuntarily rising until my ears were crammed down into them, making permanent shell-like indentations in the skin.

"I can't do it," I told the girls. "I just can't do it. I'm exhausted. I'm just so tired. I don't have it in me. I don't think I can go to a party filled with strangers and answer questions about myself. And I don't want to ask them questions either."

The mere thought of that made my eyelids go heavy. And then I felt guilty because I was being a brat. I was being selfish. I was being a nasty thirteen year-old version of my self, but worse because I'd never been that nasty when I was thirteen years-old. So I spent the entirety of my Christmas break breast-stroking through vast oceans of exhaustion, tantrum, and guilt.

And then came the incident with the fire.

It was a morning after my father had spent the night with his new girlfriend. I had the house to myself, and I spent the morning lounging in bed. But my lounging was interrupted when my father called at 10:15. "Hey!" he said. "Come to breakfast. We'll be there at 10:30. Join us!"

That last phrase--join us!--made my fingers clench into fists. I wanted to chuck my phone across the room. Why? WHY? I do not fucking know.

I declined breakfast; after all, a lady cannot get ready in three minutes to make it to the restaurant in time. But my father and his girlfriend made an appearance at the house after breakfast. I puttered around in the living room while my father collected things he needed for their New Year's party. I talked to the girlfriend, who is--it must be noted--very nice. And in the middle of the small talk, my father breezed in and said to me, "Okay, well, we're ready to go. I just threw some logs on the fire. Do you know how to use the stove?"

Okay. Okay. Now let's be clear: I am twenty-nine years old. I lived for more than eighteen years in that house, and for all those years that house was heated by a wood stove. When I was young, I was taught to respect the fire--to stay away, to warm myself from a distance--and I took to that warming idea with much glee: there are many pictures of a young me with my bare ass turned toward the stove, the white moon shining in the glare from the orange flame.

Later, when I was old enough, my father took me aside and taught me how to build a fire, how to teepee the kindling and feed the building flames. He taught me how to use the flue. He taught me how hot the stove needed to get before I cut off the oxygen and let it do a slow burn to last through the day.

Let's be even clearer: I have been making and tending fires for, like, fifteen years.

My father knows this. And even if my father had fallen and hit his head and that fall had erased his prior knowledge of me--his only daughter, his firstborn!--and my fire-making abilities, it wouldn't matter because two days prior to his asking me if I knew how to use the stove, he arrived home just as I, who had also just arrived home, finished building a fire to warm the icy house. He even complimented me on my fire.

So when he stood at his girlfriend's side and asked me if I knew how to tend the fire and use the stove, I almost committed a murder. I wanted to run to the family picture albums, pluck out any of the pictures of me warming my butt near the wood stove. I wanted to shove it in his face and say, "DOES THIS LOOK LIKE THE BUTT OF SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO USE A WOOD STOVE, MAN?!"

I don't know what happened to me. I don't know what split open in my brain and let all that rage leak into my bloodstream, but it was awful. And I feel guilty still--worse, actually, now that I've admitted it here, to you.

I need therapy.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Yesterday was the anniversary of the seven months that the The Lady-Killer and I have been together, and to celebrate this, I am going to tell embarrassing but endlessly charming stories about him.

The day before I left for my Buffalo Christmas vacation, The Lady-Killer and I attended a family Christmas party. His father's large family had crammed into a cozy kitchen and living room to eat and engage in a large-scale Yankee Swap.

Before the swapping began, I was talking to his mother in the kitchen. We both had plates full of cookies and we were watching TLK and his brother needle each other across the room.

"You know," I said, "anytime you feel like hauling out old embarrassing pictures of TLK, I would absolutely love to look at them."

She told me that was easily done--that there was embarrassing video, too... plenty of it!--but until we could get to all that, she could tell me a few stories. Both of them had to do with TLK's father's influence on him.

"My husband," she said, "has a very dirty mouth."

We both looked across the room at TLK's dad, who was at that moment hefting a giant meatball into his mouth.

"And I kept telling him he needed to watch what he said in front of TLK because he was going to start mimicking him eventually. And then one day we were all in the car, and TLK started shouting from the backseat, 'Daddy! Fuck! Fuck, Daddy! Fuck! Fuck!' I turned to TLK's father and said, 'See? See what you've done?'"

But it turns out TLK wasn't exactly talking like a sailor for the fun of it or even because he'd heard his father say that word so many times. At that moment, a truck was passing the car, and TLK was trying to tell his parents that he was really, really excited, that he was just super psyched to see a truck--a fuck! a fuck!--cruising along next to them.

"That's adorable," I said. But it wasn't the cutest thing. The cutest thing she told me about came later that afternoon, as we were standing out in the heated garage, watching the kids try to hack apart the annual homemade Christmas pinata.

TLK had one of his little cousins in his arms, and he was holding her out at an endearingly awkward angle so she could wail on the pinata she wasn't tall enough to reach. That was cute already, but then his mother leaned over and told me a story about TLK in pre-school.

One morning, all the children were sitting around for some circle time, and the teacher was asking them questions about their lives. The first question was what are your parents' names?

One by one, each child spoke up and gave his or her parents' names. When it was TLK's turn he sat up straight and said, "My daddy's name is Tony, and my mommy's name is Honey."

His mother loved that story. "He heard his father call me that so many times he just assumed it was my name!" she laughed.

We looked at him then, and the cute little cousin he was holding out made contact with the pinata and her turn was up, so he brought her back to him, snuggled her into his chest, and I loved him so much then I thought my heart was going to burst.