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hiding in my car

I ought to go in there. I really ought to.

I mean, it’s my house. And 9 times out of 10, I bound up the steps. That tenth time, though. Boy. That tenth time, I’ve had a bad day, and dealing with my kids just might put me over the edge. Times like that, I just can’t go inside.

In the house, Tom’s likely wrestling both boys towards bedtime. He’s prying lips back from two sets of clenched up teeth, and trying to touch toothbrushes to tooth surfaces. He’s suggesting to Finn that the wiping of the ass might be more effective if the paper goes between the butt cheeks. He’s trying to convince Tate to crap in the toilet now, instead of later in his pull-up, when it will be unspeakably disgusting for all involved.

In the bath, there will be water, sloshing all over. Tate will want to take Thomas the Train and his friend Percy swimming. It will sound like this, to Tom and any neighbor in a five house radius: “PUSSY WANTS TO GO SWIMMING!!” There will be the ten millionth explanation of why you can’t put wooden toys into the tub. There will be whining that the water is too cold (Finn), and simultaneously, too hot (Tate). Inevitably, there will be “DON’T GET WATER ON MY SCRATCH/FAKE TATTOO/CHUCK-E-CHEESE STAMP/BAND-AID!!” There will be screaming. There will be tears, most of them Tom’s.

But out here in my car, all is serene. I can listen to the radio and check my texts. The wireless in the house works just as well out here in front of the parking strip. If the light is good, I might do my nails. Base coat, color, second coat of color, topcoat. It all takes time, but you can’t rush perfection.

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From out here, I can quietly enjoy the view of my denuded lawn, which has no plants in it because Tom had them all pulled out last week in a fit of gardening rage. Instead of shrubs, I can now enjoy the hole in the boards below my porch, perfectly sized for rodent entrances and exits. Tom says he will cut and paint a new board to replace the missing one. But that would seem to require woodworking skills of which I’ve seen zero evidence during our 12 years of marriage.

Sometimes if I run out of stuff to do in the car, I’ll run to my mailbox on the porch and then run back to my car with my mail. US Weekly is the best for car reading, but if it’s not Friday, catalogs will do. Frontgate is my favorite. Frontgate is like the Skymall catalog, without the plane. Tom and I play a game on the plane called “Death is Not an Option.” Every page of the Skymall catalog, you have to pick something that you must display in your home. Sometimes the kids play, but they actually want the items. Who says married people are lame? Not me. Married people can squeeze fun from the most sullen, whiny, and ungrateful rocks, not that I ever think of parenting or my kids that way.

I flip some pages in the Frontgate catalog. A Sopranos Craps Shadowbox! Tom would totally pick that. I wish he was out here in the car with me. But it’s impossible, because someone has to be inside the house with my kids.

The light is dimming. Tom’s probably settling in for the 200th reading of the haunting children’s masterpiece known as “Superman v. Mongul.” Or perhaps tonight the boys have chosen the compelling narrative arc of the Lego Star Wars Character Encyclopedia. In particular I really enjoy reading which Lego sets each character can be found in and then hearing “We don’t have that set. Can we buy that set?” Sweet dreams, boys.

I ought to go inside. But I put them to bed last night when Tom was outside in his car checking scores and poring over the Eastbay catalog. Of course, when Tom hides in the car, I run outside with no shoes on and stand menacingly at his window until he gives up and comes inside. I shouldn’t do that. Because I get it. Sometimes, you just need to hide in the car.

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a chest so full

I don’t know a single woman who is fully content with her looks. But I know a lot of men who are. It’s an odd truth, but one I never really thought about until my six-year old son began going around shirtless.

In the universe of cute things, I find little-boy torsos to be right at the top. The big head, teetering on gawky, narrow shoulders. Skin so pale it’s translucent in spots. A mountain range of ribs. Tiny baby moles, some in the same spots as my own. Nothing makes me happier than sticking my nose into Finn’s neck and feeling his laugh vibrate. I can feel his life blood beating there, the humid warmth mixing with the almost powdery freshness of youth.

I love Finn’s bare torso, but that doesn’t mean I’m not alarmed when I see it out in public. First to go were the pajama tops. “Where’s your shirt?,” I’d ask, when he’d come down for breakfast in the chill. He’d shrug as Cheerios fell from his mouth to rest on his bony chest. Spring came, and the temps got into the high 50’s. And then Finn started taking his shirt off at every opportunity. He takes off his shirt to play outside. He takes off his shirt to eat dinner. He takes off his shirt to watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates. He’s always fully dressed for winter on the bottom, which makes it even weirder.

I don’t fuss. If I’ve learned anything from my six years as a parent, it’s that odd behavior explodes exponentially the more you remark on it. A lesson I learned the hard way, with booger eating. Some things are better ignored.

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As with all things, Tate has started taking his big brother’s lead with the semi-nudity. But at least Finn has some meat on his bones. Tate’s 3-year old torso looks exactly like E.T.’s. That’s what you end up with when your favorite food is watermelon.

I don’t know if Finn associates bare torsos with athletes, which is a possibility. Or if he is taking a cue from Tom, who will start walking around shirtless after any two consecutive days of gym visits. “Do I look bigger??,” Tom will ask, while flexing his chest. Or, stretching luxuriously after a shower: “Do you want to touch my muscles?” I always try to nod yes. Because these are the kindnesses that life partners owe to one another.

I laugh at my guys, but I wish I had more of their confidence, their ease, their comfort with self. That extra five pounds? I’m fooling myself if I think anyone cares but me. Sometimes the constant struggle to be stronger, thinner, better—it just leaves me feeling hungry. And I want to feel full. Sated. Not by food, but by the knowledge that all the big and small pleasures in my life make me whole.

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downers: sweaty pits

Finn is on the cusp of something. I don’t know if it’s the beginning of manhood, or the end of babyhood, but I’ll tell you this: it doesn’t smell right.

As usual, Cuz voiced it first. “Finn smells,” she said. I had noticed it myself, usually after one of his soccer games, but had been in denial, for months. Normally, Finn smells like warm, active boy—a very good smell. Possibly, the best smell. More and more often, however, that boy smell comes with a dash of Gouda.

I can’t even tell where the smell is coming from. At bathtime, I stuck my nose under his armpit as he grumbled about privacy. It didn’t smell good, but neither did it smell like cheese. I think it’s his feet. I almost keeled over this week when he sat down next to me and pulled his feet, sockless, from a pair of Nikes.

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How did this happen? Finn is half Asian, and Asians don’t have B.O. I know, because I know a lot of Asians. And in general, none of them smell as bad as white people. It’s not a scientific sample, but take the Asian and white guys I know. The Asians might smell like a shit ton of Polo Sport, but they aren’t going to smell like rotting vegetable matter, like Tom does after a summer day in a suit. I’m just saying. Sidle up to an Asian after your gym class. Maybe not exactly roses. But not so bad, either. I can’t explain it. Might be the lack of body hair.

It sure as hell isn’t the lack of sweat. I am 100% Asian and I sweat profusely in situations requiring even the most minimal amount of physical exertion. Once, after a Zumba class, I passed by a nice old lady in the locker room. “I hope you enjoyed your swim!,” she chirped. Listen, friendly people: sometimes, it’s better not to make assumptions. Sometimes, in fact, it’s best not to say anything at all.

At least my sweat doesn’t smell. I know, because, duh, I’ve touched my sweat and smelled it.

Sweating really creates issues when it comes to clothes. I remember when I wore a pair of tight pants to go dancing, way back in college. They call it vegan leather now, but back then it was called plastic. Imagine dancing in a hot room in skintight plastic pants. I’d dance for a few minutes and then go to the restroom to roll down my pants and sop up the sweat with toilet paper. For the record, it’s really hard to look sexy in your tight plastic pants if people think you have a weak bladder or uncontrolled diarrhea.

Sweat is also really bad with silk. I wear a lot of silk, because it drapes nicely over my A cups and skims over my love handles just so. But for me, even thinking about sweat while wearing silk results in immediate pit stains of man-sized proportions. I’ve spent many a wedding with something wedged under my arm, to hide the evidence. Try hugging someone with a wedding program tucked under one arm, and an evening clutch tucked under the other. Or don’t. Best to wait to be hugged in such scenarios. You can participate in the hug by leaning in. I’m a great leaner.

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linds and me, leaning

Anyway, I’ve spent a lot of time googling stuff like “extreme sweatiness” and “excessive sweatiness” and “does Certain Dry cause cancer.” Linds turned me onto Certain Dry, which she says keeps your armpits sweat free. I’m sure Linds wouldn’t mind me sharing that as a white person, she worries about sweaty pits even more than I do. If there’s someone with B.O. in a room, she immediately assumes it’s her. Even I don’t do that. Anyway, the Certain Dry. It works, Linds says. Of course, she had to stop using it when it started causing her to scratch at her armpits uncontrollably in public. There’s always a catch. Why does there always have to be a catch?

Why can’t they invent a silk that makes sweat invisible? Can you put deodorant on a six-year old’s feet? That Asian you know who smells really bad? I’m all ears.

my game of thrones obsession

I am obsessed with Game of Thrones and it’s only getting worse.

Unlike my friend Kathryn, who has consumed approximately 20 hours of the show in the last two weeks while holding down a job, I started watching the HBO show from day one. That’s because I am a sucker for period dramas. And the commercials led me to believe that the show was a period drama, set in the Middle Ages. I didn’t realize the show had dragons in it until it was too late. Dragons, as everyone knows, are shorthand for nerdsville. And I left nerdsville at least ten years ago.

The reason I got hooked on Game of Thrones early on is this character, whose name is Drogo, but who I referred to throughout 2011 as “my boyfriend.” His pecs, as you can see, are seriously distracting. As is the perfectly applied eyeliner. But it’s really the beard that gets me.

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Before you start being all worried for Tom, consider that the guy who plays Drogo is actually the real-life husband of Lisa Bonet, on whom Tom has had a crush for approximately three decades. Lisa Bonet is a real person so she could THEORETICALLY fall in love with Tom, whereas Drogo can’t fall in love with me because he’s pretend. So really, the person you should feel bad for is me.

Back to Drogo. In case you think I’m weird, most women who watch the show think Drogo is hot. Linds thinks he’s hot and she doesn’t like muscular men, or beards. Cuz says he’s a H2 check on her hotness scale. Cuz’s hotness scale, called BUNAH, is super complicated, but basically an H2 check means, Cuz would tap that.

As for me and Drogo, our romance was shortlived, because (SPOILER ALERT) he dies at the end of Season 1. I got over it quickly, though, because Game of Thrones is literally ground zero for hot bearded men. Witness:

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Robb Stark here starts out as a boy in Season 1 but morphs into a full-grown hottie by Season 3. I attribute it less to any physical transformation and more to the fact that Robb becomes King of the North and therefore becomes very powerful. Power is hot.

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Jon Snow is also a Stark but is illegitimate. So he has a chip on his shoulder and an outsider’s mindset, which means he’s your classic tortured hero. His storyline forces him to be in cold places all the time, so I don’t know what his chest looks like. But he looks good in fur. Sometimes you just have to go on faith.

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Jaime Lannister is a really bad guy for the first two seasons, but (SPOILER ALERT) something really bad happens to him in Season 3, and then he gets all humanized. Personally I found him hotter as a bad guy, but whatever. I had this same issue with Eric the Vampire from True Blood, who went from being a stone cold fox in the first few seasons to turning into a mealy-mouthed nice guy in the latter seasons. What could be less hot than a nice vampire? Nothing. Anyway, back to Jaime here. His character pushes a kid off a castle wall and has sex with his own sister. None of that detracts from his looks, of course, which are exceptional.

It doesn’t even gross me out to think that if any of the characters above actually existed, their beards would have lice and bits of mutton in them. Nor does it bother me to know that in real life, the actors who play these men are very short. I have a feeling that the guy who plays Jon Snow is like, 5’2″. All I know is, I saw him in a fashion spread in GQ and something wasn’t right. Nothing wrong with being 5’2,” of course. But I’m almost 5’9″. It ruins the fantasy of having a hot bearded guy at my disposal when I have to think about kneeling down to make out with him. But whatever, it doesn’t matter. Because it’s a fantasy. Game of Thrones gets that. I get that.

I wish I could say I’m just into the TV show. But I can’t. I’m deep in the throes of the third book, which is very well written, and in which major stuff starts happening. I’m roughly three or four chapters ahead of where the show and Tom are, which results in Tom and I bonding in the following fashion:

Yoona: “Tom. Shit just got REAL in the book.”

Tom: (wide eyed, sits down). “OK. You have to tell me. Immediately.”

Yoona: “Do you really want to know? Because it’s crazy.”

Tom: “I WANT TO KNOW I WANT TO KNOW I WANT TO KNOW!!!”

Yoona: (disclosure of major plot points).

Tom: “Hoo boy.” (Pause). “Who’s Arya, again?” Then: “Why did you tell me all that?”

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Short bearded guys on TV come and go. But there’s only one real-life Tom. He’s 6’4″ and all mine.

Happy Birthday my love.