Monday, September 24, 2007

Scurvyann luvs Ayun Halliday!

Have you read anything by the hilarious Ayun Halliday ? If you read BUST magazine, you've encountered her Mother Superior column.

She's living in New York, raising 2 cute kiddos (Inky and Milo) with her husband (Greg). She writes about mom things ... the kiddos ... life ... and traveling all over the place...Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia...with the kids!

(Psssst! Ayun Halliday is my hero!)


Ayun publishes her 'zine The East Village Inky quarterly, and I recently became a subscriber - I implore you to follow my lead here. * Not only is this little maggy JAM PACKED with adorable little cartoon illustrations and hand-letttered stories, but it is made in a really handy size - perfect to slip in your bag for emergency fun reading material. Doesn't take up much room, but will keep you entertained for a long time - it is really dense! (I mean...lotsa stuff in there!) If your vision ain't what it used to be, you may need to utilize a magnifying glass. Cuz...you won't want to miss a thing. My first issue (#35) was about the Balkan-y trip. I especially liked Ayun's description of the kitchens in some of the apartments in which they stayed. It's just a fun read, babes.

What can I tellya? I'm a gush-er.

One of Ayun's Mother Superior columns in particular struck a chord with me. It was about how she's not so great at securing a babysitter. I totally, totally relate to that! Other than begging family members and trying not to wear out the one sitter that I can get to come, I'm not so successful.

I popped onto Ayun's message board and left a little luv, and she wrote me a sweet email. (She called me a "Daymaker"! I loved that. Daymaker! Who knew?) Anyhoo, I told her how much I liked the babysitting article but couldn't find it online - and she graciously agreed to send it along. I know there are plenty of others out there who would luv to read and/or re-read this piece...and so, with permission from Ayun herself, here it is. Enjoy!


MOTHER SUPERIOR
November 2006
“Babysitter”
By Ayun Halliday ©2006.
Originally published in BUST magazine. Used with permission of the author.

It seems that engaging babysitters is just one of those activities that I’m insufficiently adult to handle in any responsible way. Like cleaning the bathroom or paying bills, the prospect of conjuring someone to keep the children alive and occupied while Greg and I spend close to a hundred bucks on burritos and a movie fills me with boredom, resentment and dread. Other mothers hit the phones, checking references and setting up face-to-face interviews with candidates who pass muster. I take a far less organized approach, sheepishly attempting to poach last-minute coverage from the fresh-faced counterpersons manning whatever cafĂ© I happen to find myself in the day before an event I’ve known about for weeks. I figure they’re already working for peanuts, perhaps they’d like to earn some more before their own fabulous, childless evening out.

Clearly, I’m clinging to memories of how things were done in the Old World. On those rare occasions when my grandmother was unavailable for duty, Mom would pay an eighth-grade girl 50cents an hour to keep watch over her precious only child. I used to love fooling with their hair while they confided their crushes and boyfriend troubles. Then, after I proved my maturity by ditching one of them with neither house keys nor emergency phone numbers and successfully hitching a ride to the vet’s with the young man whose automobile had delivered a glancing blow to the family dog, I entered the teen babysitting racket myself. In several years of active duty, I’ll bet I amassed close to three hundred dollars, as well as a near-theological reverence for certain passages in The Joy of Sex, a surprisingly common household item that most couples seemed to store in a concealed location in the master bedroom. I also ate an entire package of edible chocolate liqueur cups found in the recesses of a dining room cabinet.

In light of my early work experience, it hardly seems equitable that I could take a less-than-charitable view of a young lady who somehow managed to switch our computer’s outgoing email identity from our names to hers. I had to call her up and ask her if she knew anything about computers because there’d be hell to pay if I didn’t figure out how to restore it to its original configuration before Daddy, I mean Greg, found out. It wasn’t transgression enough to discontinue our professional relationship – beggars can’t be choosers – but the next time I found myself in the position to require her services, Inky balked, complaining, “She never plays with us! All she does is sit in front of the computer!”

Shoot, that’s what I do, and ain’t nobody paying me $11 an hour for the privilege! I was hardly the world’s best babysitter, but even I knew to save that sort of extracurricular shit until after the children were safely stowed away for the night, particularly if they were old enough to squeal. I put a great deal of stock in Li’l Snitchy’s reports. Given my policy of suspending house rules regarding television, bedtime and dessert on babysitting nights, it’s usually a rave review, but individuals with a zest for arts & crafts and/or a willingness to receive makeovers receive an approval rating bordering on the pathological, even those who only worked for us once before moving out of state. Seems like the good ones are always getting away, lost to graduate school, real jobs, or babies of their own. This wouldn’t be such a problem if I kicked it old skool with an eighth grader, but the few whom I know are booked to the tits with internships and volunteer work, anything to get a leg up on getting into the college of their choice some time in the distant future.

There’s no shortage of career nannies in this neighborhood, but frankly, I shrivel like a spider on a hot skillet at the thought of any church-going, Caribbean woman who’s old enough to be my mother getting a peek at the state of my kitchen, let alone the contents of my nightstand.

Given the infrequency of the assignment, all I really need is someone who can keep a cool head in an emergency whilst refraining from the sort of extreme antics one wouldn’t want captured by the miniature camera implanted in a teddy bear’s head. Ideally, I’m not married to this person, though more often than not, I am, as is Greg. Separate dates! They’re the poor man’s separate vacations, and perhaps that’s not a bad thing in a household where the sitter is permitted to entertain callers of the opposite sex after the children have been put to bed for the night.


***

In addition to all the above mentioned swellness, Ayun's written a few books (on travel, motherhood, food, and her experiences in crappy jobs) - all of which are available here.

...and don't forget to check out Ayun's food blog Dirty Sugar Cookies!

(Psssst...did I mention that Ayun Halliday is my hero?)

***

Speakin' of New York-ish things, C6 is really into "New York City" lately - he is obsessed with the idea of riding on the New York Subway. Saturday evening we were at a get-together with some friends we hadn't seen in years. They're New Yorkers, and C6 made fast friends with 9-year old Amelia. She was such a good sport - she played "New York Subway" with him all evening, sitting down on the couch and waiting ... then getting up on the "train", zooming into another room...waiting for the doors to open ... sliding a subway pass (he was carrying his real MBTA subway pass with him of course) ... and finding the elevator. Seems to me it is time to plan a REAL trip to NYC with C6 in the not-too-distant future. Naturally, he'll expect the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to hang out with us ... If Ayun can tote 2 kids and a husband roun' the Balkan regions, mebbe I can tote 1 shortie and a husband to the Big City!

***


*While you are in a subscribing mood, why not pop over to BUST magazine and pick up a subscription there, too. 'Nnkay?

2 comments:

marlatiara said...

Dude, I've been reading the East Village Inky since issue THREE and I got the 2 back issues and I got me a complete set! I LOVE AYUN!! She just sent me a congratulations email about Ruby and I got all starstruck. Heh. I have all her books too. She's fabulous. So seeing her in yer blog cracks me up. YAY!

Scurvyann (Linda) said...

...well of COURSE you would be all over Inky! - - - I would expect nothing less from the zine queen! as I recall, your "life on the couch" was printed in a handy dandy take-along grab-n-go size as well. I love that! I'm not a zinester (just a beanster) so this is all just so pissakewwwwlio to me. scurvyann,over-n-out!