Friday, 24 December 2010

Just wanted to take a few stolen moments on my  mother's giant laptop (since mine now also doesn't play videos or open most files in addition to having "no airport." Lovely.) and wish you all a very sincere Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or whatever you're calling this weekend. 
Yes, I may be sitting in a Fancy vacation rental, somewhere on the Continent, enjoying Fancy food and Fancy wine with my Fancy husband and children. But I've also got my student-sister here who I see very little of. And my poor old Dad, who hates nothing more than a Trans-Atlantic flight but sucked it up and came all the way over to see my babies. And of course, my gorgeous niece, who I definitely don't see enough of but is still my little buddy. 
I use this blog as a means of keeping myself grounded, reminding myself what is important, by poking fun at the ridiculous life I have. But who needs a blog to do that when surrounded by this group of family and friends? Rather than sit at this computer, I think I'd rather go watch The Princess and Tough Cookie chew on their cousin's crayons while nibbling cookies and chocolate Santas. 
So, I wish you a very Merry Holiday. May you find a bit of that peace and joy that seems to elude us all year long but makes a very real appearance for a couple days in Winter. See you next week! 

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Vacation, Fancy Style

Hello and sorry for the silence!! Yes, I've made it to the continent! Thanks to a very, very Unfancy airline. You know which one I'm talking about, don't you? I'm always so very perplexed when I fly with them (which is only when absolutely necessary). Who wouldn't pay for priority boarding? It's less than the cost of the train ticket to the airport. Seriously. 
So after all our Heathrow drama, our belongings remain on the tarmac, "trace ongoing," according to BA's website. Beautiful. No travel cribs. Half our clothes. Of course, that just meant we made the luggage weight cut off at the airport (19.3 kg, 19.6 kg, 19.8 kg thank you very much!). 
And now I greet you from my very Fancy holiday rental. A 13th Century completely renovated home with 9 bedrooms, all ensuite. H and I are treating the entire family, who only had to find their way to this tiny mountain town. Today will be a historical walking tour, followed by dinner in a local restaurant. Tomorrow is cooking class, complete with our own translator. And of course, there is a lot of booze flowing around. Sigh. This is the way my vacation was supposed to go. That whole BA/BAA marriage made in hell seems like a bad dream. I'm blocking it out. 
Of course, it's not all perfect here. Tough Cookie stole her cousin's travel cot (which we bought for her anyway so really it's pretty fair) and the Princess is sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Frau Fancy is in one room and H in the other, babies divided between us. (Ha, don't think we started that way. Night one meant Fancy Me slept about 15 minutes while H had his own room. That wasn't going to work for a week.) 
And to top off our adventures, H dropped my Fancy computer last night while I was cooking a Fancy seafood feast for the whole gang. Which means my wireless is no longer working. And I'm rapidly typing on my mother's decidedly Unfancy PC, just to let you know that I'm still very alive, very Fancy and wishing all of you a very Happy Holiday. Just in case I can't find another 5 minutes to myself this week. And now, off to continue my vacation, Fancy style. x

Sunday, 19 December 2010

When Fancy Gets Mad

Greetings from London! No, I’m not on holiday on the continent. Fancy People get just as screwed by airlines and crap weather as Poor Folk. We just don’t deal with it as well. So, a couple weeks back my fine friend Notes invited me to a rant. At the time I only had one thing making me crazy: Hey Nannies! Stop getting sick so I can spend an hour at the computer! But after 2 full days at Heathrow, I’ve got a whole can of Fancy Anger to unleash. If you will so indulge me…

Hey BAA! You do know that it snows sometimes in England, right? So why do you only have one deicer and why doesn’t anyone know how to use it? You ever flown out of Helsinki? They don’t seem to have a problem with 2 feet of snow, but 14 flakes had you completely paralyzed. It’s not the first time, it’s not the last so get a frickin’ plan please!

Hey Check In Desk! Kindly stop telling me to go to the self-check in kiosk. Can you not see the two infants I’m pushing with one hand while the other holds three bags of food, toys and diapers? People with babies can’t use the kiosk. Why do I have to explain this to you? Put down your coffee and get out your little typing finger and check me the hell in!

Hey BA! If you cancel my flight, maybe you could automatically rebook me? It might not be the perfect time or day but at least I’ll have a plan. If you can’t do that, can you pick up your phone? Maybe hire someone to work the lines after 8pm? Not just hang up on me every time I call (no less than 50 times thank you) after a very insincere apology that you are “very busy.” ANSWER THE GD PHONE!

Hey BAA and BA! When you unload the luggage from cancelled flights, could you have a plan? Say maybe all luggage from one flight, then all the luggage from another? That might be better than the scene Saturday night, when you started dumping random, unannounced bags on the floor, realized what a disaster you’d created and then closed the hall and kicked everyone out. I’ll say it again: get a plan. Any 5 year-old could have handled that situation with more intelligence.

Hey Managers! When the airport is a disaster, come to work. I know it’s Saturday and it’s cold out. But do you really want your underlings telling me that they are on their own, with no one making decisions because you’re sitting on your couch with a cup of mulled wine? Get off your ass and fix this!

Hey Fellow Travellers! Guess what, I also want my bags and I also didn’t sleep last night. So stop shoving and get in the fucking queue. We aren’t getting our bags any faster if you insist on crowding the airline representative at the door or ignoring the police who are trying to exert a little crowd control. Sit down and read a book like I’m doing. I’ve been in the queue for 3 hours. Get the fuck behind me!

Hey Overhead announcement lady! Stop telling me to leave the airport and rebook online. Your website won’t allow me to. You haven’t updated it. And no, I can’t report lost luggage there either. Your site specifically asks for the 10-digit number that you are supposed to hand me in person. And by the way, why, oh why do you give the microphone to the person with the thickest accent you can find? It’s like a scene from Charlie Brown when the teacher is talking. Can’t understand you!

And finally, British Airways, I’m talking to you. Don’t put my luggage from my cancelled flight in a big container on the tarmac that you can’t access after 1/16th an inch of snow. I gave you my travel cots and snowsuits in good faith. That bag had their new Christmas PJs and beautiful Ralph Lauren mittens. I didn’t go anywhere but you still have my children’s things. And you are telling me that maybe I’ll see them in a few days. That would be helpful if I didn’t need them for the trip I’m planning on taking tomorrow with a different airline. You have my Christmas in those bags and you are holding it hostage. After 8 hours with you yesterday, I bet you know that I’m the kind of lady who would happily slide across the ice and snow, risking life and limb to get her Fancy travel beds. Because now my children have nowhere to sleep and their shoes won't match their dresses at Christmas dinner. I hate you.

Thank you for listening. The adventure continues. Will update accordingly.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Fancy People Travels

Hello from Heathrow. If you happen to be here, I’m the haggard looking lady sitting in the V Bar, having a glass of wine. Oh, you see me? Hi! Yes, that is Nanny  #1 taking TC to the baby changing station. And yep, that would be The Princess sleeping in her Fancy pram. What’s that? Oh, no, silly, that’s not Santa. That’s H. I know there is a resemblance, but no, really.  Come again? What’s with my skin? Pale, splotchy? Oh that’s just holiday stress. See, Fancy people have crap travel disasters too. We’re not immune. 
As I sip my wine, I dream. Maybe someday we’ll be Super Fancy and look back laughing at this trip. “Oh H, ha ha, do you remember when we were poor and had to fly commercial!?” We’ll have a hearty chuckle and disembark from our private jet, painted purple and parked on our little airport on our little private island.
That sounds so much nicer than a box of cold Wagamama for dinner, only 4 more diapers left in my bag until we get to the Continent and two children who are decidedly bored before we’ve even taken off. The only thing that makes this bearable is Nanny #1. I just went and bought her an iPod charger to thank her for marching my children around the terminal while I try to find my buzz and a book with a good plot. Ah, holiday travel. Fancy style.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Therapy, Fancy Style

I’m not ashamed to say I have a therapist. I lived in New York. They assign you one when you get your drivers license. Seriously. Okay, but they should. New Yorkers have issues. I have issues. And I have a therapist. I found him shortly after I met H. I had broken up with my prior shrink just before I met my future Fancy Husband, mostly because he kept pestering me about fixing him up with one of my friends. Anyway, I’m a big believer in therapy and I’m quite attached to this extremely Fancy, extremely Expensive therapist. When we moved to London, he referred me to an English colleague. The guy was nice enough, but I needed that New York sharpness. I want a shrink who says, “What the Fuck is wrong with you? Are you listening to yourself?!” Not the guy who says, “Oh, and how did that make you feel.” I need direction and applicable advice, not Freudian reflection. Anyway, I digress.
Back to my New York therapist. The deal we finally settled on was video chat. It usually works great, even with BT at the controls, and allows me to see him when he stands up and starts shouting at me.  We usually meet monthly but have doubled our sessions the last couple of months because “he’s concerned” for me. (Or he needs a new sailboat and I’m paying for it. One of the two) I’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch since the girls were born. It turns out that when you marry a Fancy Husband, you make “a deal” that his Fancy Job comes first and your new job is to manage his Fancy Home, Fancy Children and your Fancy Self.
Now, if I’d grown up Amish, this wouldn’t be difficult to swallow. However, it seems like I went to sleep in the 21st century, with letters and degrees behind my name, and woke up in an actual episode of Mad Men. All I need is a martini at breakfast and some very pointy bras. My therapist has been working hard to help me merge my feminist self with my new 1950’s housewife role. And I have to say, it’s good that we’ve upped our sessions. Take, for example, what happened last weekend, when all FIVE of my nannies and babysitters were sick/out of town/busy.
The conversation went like this:
“Do you think maybe Sunday I could sleep in?” I asked, half joking.
“I have calls! I have work! What do you think pays for this house?”
“Um, could I go to the gym for 45 minutes maybe?”
“And when, I ask you,” H replied in annoyed tone, “am I supposed to read the 150 pages I need to get through before my calls? I have work to do.”
And here is where I bit my tongue. And I held my teeth firmly there the next day when my darling Fancy Man slept until half past twelve. I didn’t shower. I didn’t get to the gym. But I also didn’t scream, shout or stab anyone with a fork.
And this is why I have a Fancy Therapist. We reflect on where I went wrong in my approach and how to better get what I want and need (a shower! An hour alone!) the next time this happens. He helps me see the world from H’s perspective. I do love my husband and he does work awfully hard. But it’s also hard work learning to be an effective Fancy Wife. And $800 for 45 minutes seems like nothing compared to the alternative, don’t you think?

Monday, 13 December 2010

Why I Need a Robot

Who said Nannies are allowed to get sick? Isn’t there a law against this?
Last Thursday evening Nanny #1 texted me with a warning that she might not be feeling well enough in the morning to come to work. I am not stupid. I knew that meant she wasn’t coming. Which normally would be fine, if I weren’t waiting for a piano delivery and for the storage company to bring out my Christmas decorations and take some more baby clothes away. I told H who said, “you better call someone else right now,” and looked at me like I was stupid. Actually, he didn’t just look, he said, “are you stupid?” But I just told you I’m not. So I called Babysitter #1, who said that Babysitter #2 could come at noon and stay until late. (Babysitter #2 works for #1. My house is sort of like a giant pyramid scheme.) Great. Friday solved.
However, just as I got the piano unpacked and the Christmas decorations up, my phone beeped again. Nanny #3 (The Weekends) was in bed. With some Eastern European throat malady. Babysitters #1 and #2 were working a major London social event the entire weekend. We were on our own. Wait, let me rephrase: I was on my own. I’m a Fancy Wife. A Fancy Husband hires people to help his wife, he doesn’t actually do it himself, but that’s another post for another day.
The rest of the weekend went by in a bit of a blur. I did brush my teeth. Once. I did 14 loads of laundry, some of which got put away. I learned how to clean the kitchen while holding 20 pounds of feverish, screaming infant. I went to the grocery store in sweats. In other words, I guess I was a normal person. By Sunday evening, I was in a state of tired that I’ve not experienced in a very long time. The house was clean, the laundry done, the children clean and fed. I even made a cioppino for dinner and dismantled both high chairs and scrubbed them til them gleamed. I can actually be industrious.
But just because I can, doesn’t mean I want to. I want a robot Nanny. One who doesn’t get sick. Ever.
And then my phone beeped again. Nanny #1 wants a day off to visit the family she was too sick to see over the weekend. Of course I said yes. It’s Christmas. But I said yes to tomorrow. Today I am having a shower. Robot Nannies don’t have family either, do they?

Thursday, 9 December 2010

It's My Own Fancy Fault

As I’ve said, sometimes I feel like I have control over my own home. I don’t love having a million people in here at all hours, but the alternative would be: doing everything myself, doing it half-ass, bitching about it, and probably getting divorced. The secret to a Happy Fancy Marriage? Household staff. At least that is what my therapist says.
Anyhoo, in another shining example of where my staff has done something with the best of intentions, let me tell you the story of TC’s dummy. The one I saw in her mouth yesterday morning.
The girls prefer American dummies. Why wouldn’t they? We call them pacifiers and don’t insult their natural need to suck on something buy implying a negative level of general comprehension. This does create a little issue, however, in that it can be difficult to get more dummies at the drop of a hat. We have them shipped over by family or I pick up about 20 when I’m home. (The people at Babies R Us think I’m odd, stocking up on Carters blanket sleepers in 3 sizes and every single Soothie in stock). Anyway, suffice it to say that I’m a bit of a nut about not losing the dummies.
So a few weeks back I was walking down the street in our neighbourhood when I saw, to my horror, one very yellow and orange American style dummy lying in the street. With tire tracks. I couldn’t say for absolutely certainty that it was TC’s but come on. How many American dummies in orange and yellow can there be in central London? I hesitated for only a second before reaching down and, while looking to make sure no one was watching, popping that sucker right into my purse. I didn’t actually intend to return it to my precious little baby. But I thought, just in case of a Dummy Emergency, I’d have a back-up plan. Not ideal but better than an angry, inconsolable infant, no?
Well, you know what happened next, don’t you? I cleaned out my purse and put said dummy in a corner next to some random junk. I can’t say for sure but I imagine that it was then discovered by one of the housekeepers who “helpfully” returned it to the dummy basket in the kitchen. From there it probably worked its way down the stairs and into their room, landing in TC’s cot. And then her mouth.
Maybe if I were the kind of Mum who changed the cot sheets, I’d have intercepted it. But I’m not. So I can’t really complain when I see a dirty, scuffed slightly mangled dummy hanging from my kid’s mouth, can I? I just smile and swallow. Hard. 

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Fancy Reading Lists

There seems to be a list going around of the BBC's top 100 books that are in the running for Great Britain's best loved novel. 100 books. A few of you delightful bloggers out there are posting the list and highlighting what you've read and italicizing what you'd like to read and probably feeling pretty good about yourselves, aren't you? It's nice to look at such an impressive list and cross off all those little boxes, isn't it?

Well, I'm not participating. Because I'm too embarrassed. I looked at your list, oh British Broadcasters, and I can remember reading 25 of them. Yes, one quarter of the most loved novels of Britain have found there way through the wall of absolute trash that is my favorite kind of read. And may I remind you that I have over a decade of higher education? I just wasn't an English major! (Because I wanted a job, not a lesbian girlfriend with hairy legs. Ha just joking. Just wanted to ruffle a few feathers!) There might be a few more that I suffered through (or Cliff Noted) in high school, but I can't say with certainty. And I will say that one of them I listened to on tape, but I counted that, because otherwise I've checked the following:

  • 4 Harry Potter novels (yes I've read them all. More than once. But only 4 are on the list.
  • Yes, all four of the Roald Dahls. Bought them again recently in a box set. 
  • The other four children's books on the list.
  • One Dickens, one Steinbeck, and two Brontes (how do you put the dots on the e?)
  • And a smattering of others
Now, do we really consider Bridget Jones to be a novel? That would be great, because then I could call all those books on my nightstand "Novels" when H makes a snarky comment. Is Gone With The Wind also one? Fabulous! And John Irving, well I thought incest and midgets weren't really the stuff of revered literature, but hey. And finally, oh Thank God. The Clan of the Cave Bear. Well we all know why that book is on the list don't we? Where else did my 12 year-old self learn about sex? So I can add soft porn to my list! 

Now that I look at it, I'm now feeling less embarrassed and a little more impressed with myself. Between beach reads and my women's erotica collection, I'm looking pretty good. Fancy and erudite. What a combination.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Fancy Children, Fancy Germs

The thing about being Fancy is that it protects you from a lot of unpleasant things in life, like scrubbing your own toilets or giving birth to your own children. Unfortunately, Fancy is not a complete suit of armour. It can buy you a lot of help and save you a lot of trouble. The Princess, however, has been sick. And let me tell you, this child knows the difference between her Fancy Mama and any Nanny. Here’s how my weekend went.
A few days ago the girls got jabs. Of course we go to one of those Fancy private hospitals where the lobby looks like a scene from Lawrence of Arabia. The paediatric section is overrun with American accents because those of us who grew up in the Colonies have a thing about paediatricians seeing our children for well-checks and all that other medically wasteful stuff. Anyhoo, the both of them have had runny noses for, oh about 3 months, and cough like old men with 3 pack-a-day smoking habits. But when won’t they have colds in the winter? So we got our jabs and all went fine. Until the next day, when The Princess developed a fever. At first I thought it was shot-related but that should only last a day, right? Not 5 days of crying, vomiting, refusing to eat and clinging to me day and night. No this was probably some Fancy virus she picked up at her Fancy Gymboree class.
Now you have to understand something about The Princess. There is a reason she is called this. From the moment she was born, she has been royally demanding. But at the same time she’s so unbelievably cute (yes people do stop me on the street and tell me this) that you tend to give in. According to The Princess, there is but one baby who matters in this house. There is also only one Mummy. The Mummy belongs to The Princess. The other baby is allowed to stay in her room and share her toys. But when The Princess is sick, the other baby is relegated to the arms of her father or a Nanny and can’t come near The Mummy.
So I spent the weekend on the sofa, holding The Princess. Tough Cookie went out to the park and played with Nanny #3. H took a couple naps, surfed the Internet and occasionally came to check on us. I wasn’t allowed to watch TV or read a book. No, I had to gaze lovingly at my daughter. Anything else wasn’t permitted. I didn’t eat. I didn’t go to the toilet. I sat on the couch, cuddling a sick baby. (Eventually a wine glass found it’s way to me, but that was pretty much the highlight.)
In the end, no matter how Fancy you are, unless you actually want to relegate every part of parenting to your employees including loving and nurturing your children, there will be times when you are not free to do as you’d please. You answer to a smaller, more powerful person. Because you love her with all your heart. Even when she throws up on you. Or more precisely, on your new Diane Von Furstenburg. Lasagna and ibuprofen. I would say that this weekend, I was definitely NOT particularly Fancy.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Fancy Contest

Last night I attended an art show that was invitation only. I don’t get art, I don’t pretend to understand it. However, when H is invited to these kinds of events I say yes for two reasons: 1) it is important for him to attend “business-social” events and as Wife, it is my job to stand there looking pretty and 2) maybe, just maybe, some of this culture will rub off on me. I can’t read books that require focus, I can’t stand movies with subtitles and I really get annoyed about 15 minutes after walking into the Tate Modern (what is “art” about a stuffed bird pinned to a wall?!). So I attend these events in the optimistic belief that one day I’ll suddenly understand what the fuss is about. Oh, and there’s free champagne. That definitely helps.

So last night’s event was a showing of Indian miniatures. Now, you must remember that I’m highly educated and most believe me to be of above-normal intelligence. But apparently I had an attack of The Stupids because I assumed that “Indian minatures” were little tiny statues of Buddha or something. Um, not so. Apparently they are small paintings or drawings. Already I’d learned something! Before I got there though, I was greeted at the door by a nice man taking coats. He checked the guest list and there I was, “and wife,” right next to H’s name. Nothing makes you feel like a valued member of society than seeing a long list of names and realizing you are the only one called, “and wife.” No matter, I tossed him my coat and went upstairs, the clinking of champagne glasses drawing me like a moth to a flame.

Realizing quickly that I was, in fact, going to be looking at tiny little paintings, I grabbed some champers and found H, who was deep into a business conversation. Not wanting to distract them by awkwardly clinging to his arm, I wandered the room for a bit, scenes of Hookahs reminding me of my university days. Finally the “business” part of the evening seemed to wind down and I found my way back to H, who was deep in conversation with a very nice man who has two sons, one of whom went to Cambridge, the other to Oxford. The fact that I learned this in the first 3 minutes of our conversation is telling, isn’t it?

The other men in the group were work colleagues of H’s, some of them Fancy and some of them Very Fancy. They were discussing whether any of them would be interested in purchasing the collection. It’s only £3.5 million and must be sold whole or not at all. What does one do with £3.5 million worth of tiny drawings? Where do you put it all? Can you eat it? Wear it? Burn it for warmth? I ended this ridiculous conversation by stating that it was too late. I’d already put it on my Amex. Airline miles, you know. And that we’d be clearing out the Gift Wrap room in our house because I can probably move the wraps and ribbons down the hall to the Arts & Crafts room and then I’d have a place for all my little pieces of art. They looked at me like they weren’t quite sure if I was serious. That’s the real reason I go to these things, isn’t it? I constantly have this uncontrollable urge to make fun of these over-stuffed peacocks and it’s soooo easy to do and oh so very fun. Oh, and did I mention that the boys who went to Fancy schools have become Very Fancy? One just won a Tony and the other is a “tycoon.” How very nice for them. Snort. 

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Others

I am constantly looking around and comparing myself to others. Yes, sometimes because I’m insecure and jealous. But other times I use this exercise to keep myself grounded. I’ll look at a family standing in the grocery, trying to decide whether they can afford a box of crackers on special and I’ll think, “Lordy, is my life easy.” Of course, I’m not a saint. I’ll also look at another family and think, “Oh good heavens. Thank God my house doesn’t reek of curry.” I’m not really all that nice.
Anyway, if I’m ever feeling bad or out of touch, one thing I can do is visit H’s office. I’ll take the assistants out for drinks and let them regale me with tales of the Other Fancy Corporate Wives. Because, believe me, if I ever think I’m not grounded, these women are hot air balloons.
If I feel guilty about asking H’s assistant to rebook a car that is meant to take the four of us somewhere, I just think about the wife who called asking for someone to find the shoe store where she shopped last summer in Paris and get her the phone number. (It’s on the credit card receipt, darling!)
When I feel a little embarrassed about asking for a personal engagement to be put on his work calendar (just in case a business dinner can be scheduled with flexibility), I remind myself of the wife who called her husband’s secretary with a list of demands to pass along to the party planner. For the two-year old’s birthday. Because apparently her time is too valuable to speak to a party clown.
When I feel bad about asking the girls to put some healthy snacks in the kitchen (next to the entire produce drawer of candy bars! Seriously?) for H, so that maybe we can eke a few more days out of his surely shortened existence, I love to think of one of the assistant’s face when she told the tale of the wife who asked her to bake a birthday cake for their kid’s party. Shaped like a frog.
And when I look around guiltily as I steal a Dr. Pepper Zero for myself (where do they get this? Ocado doesn’t have it!) and a banana for the girls from the office kitchen, I remember that some of the wives ask for the weekly lunch schedule and then “drop by” around noon on Mediterranean day. Like you can’t afford to buy yourself a sandwich? And don’t tell me it’s so you can spend time with your husband. These guys don’t have time to sit and eat. You cheap mooch.
So, no matter where you are in life, it helps to look around and see where you sit in relation to your peers. I’m just so glad that I know so many women who make me look so stinking good. It’s not hard to be everyone’s favorite Fancy Wife in a big office: just be the lady with less attitude and more free martinis!