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puppet people


My triplets turned 3 today, and we had a little party for them at a children's restaurant called Giggles 'n' Hugs ("That's kind of a creepy name for a place," observed my ex)*. The highlight was Scott Land, or as I so brilliantly called him, "the puppet dude" (as in, "Is the puppet dude here yet?", asked while he was standing beside me. So not my finest moment). I first saw his act at a mall in Century City and learned that he worked with the marionettes on the movie Team America. He's a great example of something I believe strongly but not sure I can express -- something about how entertainment should be aimed at children without condescending or pandering to them in any way, or making it a point to teach them Moral Lessons, how it can be clever and sophisticated and artful enough to engage adults. One of the triplets and his big brother ran backstage after the show was over, the younger one signing "More!" while the older one asked Scott questions and investigated the marionettes as they returned to the trunk.

*Amended to clarify that my ex thinks Giggles 'n' Hugs is a great name and was actually referring to the name that he plans to assign his own chain of children's restaurants** (once he's finished with rockets and electric cars and stuff), Tickles 'n' Bugs, which, as he points out to me, "is a literally creepy name."

**This, in case clarification is needed, is also a joke, although frankly I think Tickles 'n' Bugs has potential.

I wanted to post a picture of one of the marionettes -- they are exquisite creations -- but my technology is not cooperating, so here instead is a pic of me about to head out to the OC for a friend's birthday dinner. Not the same as a cool puppet, I know, but I like the reflections in my sunglasses.


Tomorrow will continue some thoughts about writing from previous entries. In the meantime I give you the opening paragraphs of the first draft of my novel-in-progress THE DECADENTS:

Yesterday I read through Angelina’s letters and journals again. Some of those passages I know by heart, and even the ones written in her most illegible scrawl -- black ink pressed deep in the page, spiking and jagged --have decoded themselves, if not always into individual words then at least their general meaning. Afterwards I sat on the deck with a blanket wrapped round my shoulders and watched the dark come down on the mansion-studded valley. Coyotes yipped and called somewhere deep in the shadows of the pines, the eucalyptus. It’s a wild, lonely, beautiful sound, and I can’t think of Los Angeles without thinking of the coyotes. I called Gabe on my cell and told him I was going to write this book. His response flickered in and out – it wasn’t a good connection – but I heard him wish me luck, and also the irony in his voice.

I have no more respect for secrecy. Someone could argue that these are not my secrets to tell. But now I look back and see how it was the invisible, the ghosts of the unsaid, that extracted a price from each of us, and so in that sense the secrets belong to us all.

Gabe says he’s told me everything. He even remembers – or claims to remember – that when the girl first entered his life (all our lives), he was asleep in an all-white luxury hotel room dreaming about fire.
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( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 9th, 2009 10:48 am (UTC)


Happy birthday to them!

A lovely picture of you :D
Aug. 9th, 2009 12:36 pm (UTC)
a children's restaurant called Giggles 'n' Hugs ("That's kind of a creepy name for a place," observed my ex)
Hehe - reminds of the name of daycare centre in Family Guy - Hugs & Kisses (The Good Kind) ;-)
Aug. 9th, 2009 02:37 pm (UTC)
Better than, though unfortunately reminiscent of, Shits 'n' Giggles...
Aug. 9th, 2009 02:38 pm (UTC)
I really like the picture and I loved the tidbit of the story.
Aug. 10th, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC)
Stop! Stop it right now, I tell you! Post no more ravishing pics of yourself on your blog! ;)

Jeff P.
Aug. 11th, 2009 01:53 am (UTC)
more amazing than I realized
Happy birthday to them, and to you for surviving triplets! I really don't know how you do it, Justine. Triplets! I'm trying to imagine the look on your face when you learned there was a trio in your belly...And you have twins, too, correct?

And here I am feeling overwhelmed with 1 child. Sigh.
Aug. 11th, 2009 02:04 am (UTC)
Re: more amazing than I realized
I am fortunate enough to be in a very privileged position and I have a great deal of help, a full-time domestic staff of nannies and housekeeper. (I also had access to a great private trainer and plastic surgeon who repaired a major post-pregnancy hernia, which is why I don't 'look' like a mother of five). Let me stress the importance of that, because mothering a child -- particularly in this country, where the mother is regarded as the beginning and end of everything (whereas other countries have traditions of extended families, nannies/domestic servants, "it takes a village" etc) -- is one of the hardest and most overwhelming jobs out there, and it's unfair for people to think that I am raising five kids under 5 (and writing, and blogging, and having a social life) without an incredible little village of my own.

On another note -- when I was pregnant with twins I kept telling people, "I don't know how a woman can do triplets. I can't possibly imagine doing triplets", etc. And then I got pregnant with triplets. 'Overwhelmed' is the word...but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Edited at 2009-08-11 02:07 am (UTC)
Aug. 11th, 2009 02:56 am (UTC)
Re: more amazing than I realized
I appreciate your honesty about the help you have--and you're right. Frankly I think one child deserves a small village so that the mother doesn't run dry...I think we were meant to raise our children collectively, in groups, and used to! It's the single most common cry of my mommy friends--that they feel isolated.

Just curious...when you were planning your second pregnancy did you expect only one or did you think your chances of a repeat set of twins were possible? You sound like the most fertile woman! (Hope this isn't inappropriate on your blog)...

I appreciate what you say about motherhood.
Aug. 11th, 2009 04:17 am (UTC)
Re: more amazing than I realized
Problem is I'm not all that fertile -- both the pregnancies were IVF, which should explain a lot right there. :)

When I was planning the second IVF pregnancy I knew twins were a possibility and was prepared for that. Triplets took me by surprise (the doctor was also shocked) and, yes, required some mental and emotional adjusting.
Aug. 11th, 2009 08:23 pm (UTC)
Re: more amazing than I realized
Correction. "Which is why I don't 'look' like a mother of SIX." You carried him, too (which is no small thing) and he is yours forever.

First one, then two, then three, which is even more amazing...

I fully agree with your comment about mothers in this country being regarded as the beginning and the end of everything, although much of that has to do with our society having become so portable (moreso than any other, if I remember correctly). You can't have much of a village or sustaining support system when you are moving every three to five years and you live a thousand miles or so away from any family (unless you are able to pay for it). And you tire of recreating community for yourself over and over --and you resist attachment b/c you are braced for the end of it. I am raising four children in this unnatural condition, without grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nannies or housekeepers. Your comments resonate with me. Thanks.
Aug. 11th, 2009 03:39 am (UTC)
Does anyone every give you a hard time...?
Say, for example, birthday parties among strangers and in weird public places? And even moreover, writing about it? And again, why did you have so many children, at once? I'm just trying to understand...
Aug. 11th, 2009 04:08 am (UTC)
Re: Does anyone every give you a hard time...?
1) We rented out the restaurant -- which in any case is hardly "a weird place" -- so it was just the kids and their parents. We also hired the puppet dude specifically for the party. People can do that. :)

2) No, people don't give me a hard time, except once in a while on this blog, and that has been mostly divorce-related.

3) I rarely write about my children. My family life became a bit more public when my ex-husband and I divorced. My ex is extremely successful and very well-known, at least in certain circles, and garners a fair bit of publicity (he is the subject of a feature story in upcoming issue of New Yorker, for example, and I have no doubt whatsoever the article will mention the five kids). Because the information is out there anyway, I've been a bit more open in this blog.

4) My first son died at 10 weeks. We dealt with it by trying to get pregnant again (which I regard as one of the smartest things I've ever done in my life). I have compromised eggs, so IVF became necessary. With IVF, multiples tend to happen. We did not intend to have five kids so soon -- the triplets were our attempt at one girl -- but the unborn babies were strong, healthy, developing well, and we had the resources to take care of them, so under those circumstances we rejected the idea of selective termination. So far so good: they are happy, healthy and thriving.

Also, I'm 37 (or will be in a few weeks), if that helps your understanding any (I am aware that I can look much younger).

Edited at 2009-08-11 04:20 am (UTC)
Aug. 11th, 2009 11:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your honesty, Justine. As always, thoughtful responses.

And out of curiosity, did you ever get the e-mail I sent through your Web site about a writing group visit? I know it's probably a ridiculous idea, but I at least wanted you to know I enjoyed your books. :)
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

About Me

I'm the author of three published novels: the dark fantasies BLOODANGEL and LORD OF BONES (Roc/Penguin) and the YA supernatural thriller UNINVITED (MTV/Simon&Schuster). I also have stories in the MAMMOTH BOOK OF VAMPIRE ROMANCE 2 and ZOMBIES: ENCOUNTERS WITH THE HUNGRY DEAD. I'm working on a psychological thriller called THE DECADENTS. I am divorced, with sons, and live in Bel Air.

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