The Cursing Mommy's Book of Daysby Ian Frazier
Based on his widely read columns for The New Yorker, Ian Frazier's uproarious first novel, The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days, centers on a profoundly memorable character, sprung from an impressively fertile imagination. Structured as a daybook of sorts, the book follows the Cursing Mommybeleaguered wife of Larry and mother of two boys, twelve and/i>/i>
Based on his widely read columns for The New Yorker, Ian Frazier's uproarious first novel, The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days, centers on a profoundly memorable character, sprung from an impressively fertile imagination. Structured as a daybook of sorts, the book follows the Cursing Mommybeleaguered wife of Larry and mother of two boys, twelve and eightas she tries (more or less) valiantly to offer tips on how to do various tasks around the home, only to end up on the ground, cursing, surrounded by broken glass. Her voice is somewhere between Phyllis Diller's and Sylvia Plath's: a hilariously desperate housewife with a taste for swearing and large glasses of red wine, who speaks to the frustrations of everyday life.
Frazier has demonstrated an astonishing ability to operate with ease in a variety of registers: from On the Rez, an investigation into the lives of modern day Oglala Sioux written with a mix of humor, compassion, and imagination, to Dating Your Mom, a sidesplitting collection of humorous essays that imagines, among other things, how and why you might begin a romance with your mother. Here, Frazier tackles another genre with his usual grace and aplomb, as well as an extra helping of his trademark wicked wit. The Cursing Mommy's failures and weaknesses are our ownand Frazier gives them a loving, satirical spin that is uniquely his own.
“Ian Frazier is funny and clever and a wonderful distraction . . . With the Cursing Mommy, Frazier . . . has created a comic-strip heroine for the chattering classes, a creature both endearing and diabolical, especially when disaster looms . . . But here's the great thing about the Cursing Mommy, which perhaps accounts for her popularity--she's a caricature, but she isn't a joke. Thanks to Frazier's generous and gentle spirit, she isn't some suburban hot mess, though she is suburban and hot, and surely some kind of a mess. But she's also eternally optimistic.” Judith Newman, The New York Times Book Review
“Ian Frazier is not a mommy, and as his best friend I can swear that he is not a curser in any way, yet this book, The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days, is the funniest book I have ever read on the subject of moms and the crazy bliss that makes up their life. Being and Nothingness? Read this instead, for it is even funnier than Frazier's other book: African-American Women Writers in the Diaspora: A Reconsideration of Morrison, Walker, Dove, and Frazier.” Jamaica Kincaid
“[The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days] is not only very funny but may actually remind you of the occasional frustrations of your own everyday life. Sit down on the floor with a big scotch and read it.” Joe Peschel, The Boston Globe
- Farrar, Straus and Giroux
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.70(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Read an Excerpt
TUESDAY, JANUARY 4
And so, we set out. Ideally, this daybook would have started on Saturday morning, January 1, but Larry and I had to be in Encino. A client of Larry’s invites the whole office out there to stay over in his gigantic house for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day every year. This client brings in a huge amount of business and Larry says we might be sleeping in the car if it weren’t for him, so of course we have to go. And I do mean we, because the client is a big believer in wives attending, though they don’t have much to do. Husbands, on the other hand, the client isn’t so crazy about. That’s another story.
As a result, we weren’t here for New Year’s Day. We flew back on the second, and on the third I drove to the assisted living to see my fucking father.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 4
I feel that I must start this day, month, and year over again. Just thinking about that weekend and then the trip to the goddamn horrible assisted living makes me want to put that nonsense far, far behind. I will clear my head, get a refill on my coffee, and go back to the kitchen table where I began.
We must always remember to be grateful for what we have. On this winter morning, with the temperature in the twenties and snow covering the ground outside, I am grateful just to be sitting here sheltered and indoors. My eight-year-old, Kyle, breaks out in hives and faints if you look at him cross-eyed, and he’s probably doing exactly that right now in gym class, and any minute the phone will ring and it will be the snotty assistant principal, and I will have to go out and hope the car will start so I can pick up my swooning son. But that hasn’t happened yet. Who was it who called worry “negative prayer”? I will keep my hopes and prayers positive on this first day (fourth, technically, as I already explained) of our journey year.
The children had such fun in the snow yesterday. I was at the fucking assisted living, Larry was down in the basement doing something or other with his boxes of capacitors, and the kids had an absolute ball outside, he said. God knows he probably wasn’t paying much attention. From where I sit in my favorite kitchen chair I can see the snowman they made. I am grateful for my children’s happiness and the small monument to it remaining on our front lawn.
Actually, as I look more closely at it, it’s not so small. Moving to the front window I wonder how they ever built a snowman that high! In fact, it doesn’t really resemble a snowman …
The reason it does not resemble a snowman, I now see, is that it is not a snowman, it is a snow penis. A giant snow penis on my front lawn. How could I not have noticed it before? I got back from the fucking assisted living after dark, that’s why. They did quite an inventive job of it, with large snow testicles, as well. This must have been Trevor’s idea. He is going on twelve, going on whatever age you can be sent to prison. He got poor Kyle to go along.
Those of you who keep up with my regular Cursing Mommy columns know that at some point in almost every one of them—okay, every one of them—the Cursing Mommy regrettably becomes frustrated with some aspect of daily life, and she flips out, screams curses, breaks things, gives people the finger, etc. Today, on the first or fourth day of our journey year, the Cursing Mommy is not going to do any of that. Serenity is the new watchword. I am now simply going to pull on Larry’s boots, put my coat on over my bathrobe, go out in the front yard, and knock the revolting snow penis down.
Now I am in the yard and I smack the snow penis—why did I forget my mittens?—and ouch! Shit! The thing is solid ice! It has frozen solid overnight, I see. So I am giving the snow penis a good swift kick and GODDAMN FUCKING STUPID SNOW PENIS! FUCKING GODDAMN THING IS LIKE—OUCH!!—FUCKING CEMENT! I’LL KICK YOU DOWN IF IT’S THE FUCKING LAST THING … AHHH! SHIT! I SLIPPED ON THIS FUCKING SLIPPERY ICE AND I’VE FALLEN IN THE SNOW!! LYING IN MY FUCKING FRONT YARD IN MY FUCKING BATHROBE! FUCKING GODDAMN LARRY! FUCK GEORGE BUSH! FUCKING GODDAMN JOHN BOEHNER, THAT FUCKING ASSHOLE!!…
In just a minute I will get up and go inside. Let fucking Larry knock the fucking thing down when he gets home. It will melt eventually anyway.
Oh, what a fucking horrible day this is going to be.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 5
“Open thou my lips, oh Lord, that my mouth may show forth thy praise.”
Do we always remember to praise? I’m not talking about praising our spouse or our kids or our coworkers, the “self-esteem routine,” though of course that’s important, too. I mean praising the power or powers that placed us and everything around us upon this spinning cinder we call our earth—yes, I mean exalting generally the simple beauty of the world. We should devote ourselves to this every instant from the moment we awake. First thing when we open our eyes in the morning we must say, “Open thou our lips, that our mouths may show forth thy praise!”
I wish I could always be conscientious about that, but sometimes, unfortunately, I am not. For example, this morning Larry was up, sitting on the edge of the bed and putting salve on his toe fungus, and I woke and looked at the ceiling and sighed, and I forgot to praise. Instead, I said, “Shit.”
Of course, I am the Cursing Mommy.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 6
Hello again, my friends, on another dark winter’s morning. My, it is cozy here in the kitchen—and out on the patio, and even in the yard, for that matter, where according to our outdoor thermometer the temperature is a shirtsleeve sixty-eight degrees. Thank goodness the “snow sculpture” is no more. Yesterday’s torrential rains that also filled part of the basement washed most of it away. Often all we must do in life is wait, and our wishes will be fulfilled.
This morning I am counting my blessings. That goddamn snow penis is gone. Water got in some of the boxes of Larry’s capacitors down in the basement, apparently. I suppose that’s not a blessing, technically, but what the hell.
Do you sometimes have your first cocktail at 8:15 a.m.?
SATURDAY, JANUARY 8
I meant to write an entry for yesterday, but Kyle stayed home from school. All of Christmas vacation the kid is a picture of health, and then when classes start again, suddenly he feels poorly. The awful assistant principal did, in fact, call. I couldn’t find my cell phone, which I spend my life looking for, and all at once there’s this muffled ring and the cat goes shooting about five feet in the air. He’d been sleeping on it. Molkowski, assistant principal, on the line.
Kyle was in a swoon again in gym, no surprise. Molkowski gave me the usual blah-blah-blah and I went and got him. I kept him indoors all of yesterday, but I made him go back this morning. His school now has some goddamn mandatory fucking Clean the Boiler Room Day every Saturday, because they repealed the school levy. Parents are supposed to help, too. I went along and took some rags, and Kyle and I made a morning of it. He managed not to faint from the horror of it all, poor guy.
MONDAY, JANUARY 10
One old tradition I absolutely adore is that of devoting every Monday to the family’s weekly baking. Bright and early every Monday, my gramma Pat used to get up, pack a lunch for Grampa Hub, give him his bicarb, and shoo him out the door. Then she would light a Chesterfield and start to bake.
And I do mean bake! Gracious, what that woman couldn’t do. Gramma Pat is long dead of emphysema, but I can still smell the delicious and enticing aroma of her kitchen, mixed with secondhand smoke, as I used to hang on her apron strings and watch her every gesture. Pies, cakes, fruit crumbles, strudels, lebkuchen dusted with powdered sugar and the odd bit of cigarette ash—all appeared effortlessly, as if by magic. She never used a lighter. While she rolled dough with her left hand, she could fold a match from a matchbook and light it with her right! She also did all the family’s bread baking—white and brown bread, both—and would never think of buying store-bought.
Can you excuse me for a second? It’s the goddamn phone.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 11
Sabrina from the fucking goddamn assisted living cheerfully ruined yesterday by calling just to let me know that “Dad” had assaulted another patient. I had to drop everything and go over there, natch. Enough said. Let us return to:
“The Cursing Mommy’s Baking Day (continued)”
God, I hate my fucking father.
I’m sorry, that was what the shrinks call an “intrusive thought,” and it has no place in the making of this pie. Excuse me.
Today, just because I thought it would be a hoot, I am following a tasty-sounding recipe for chocolate pie that I found printed on a pie pan I bought yesterday at Food Superior. I get a lot of my best recipes from just such unexpected places. I have already melted the semisweet chocolate in the microwave, as instructed, and added a cup of strong coffee, and then combined these with the instant chocolate pie filling, for an extra chocolaty flavor. I then crushed the gingersnaps for the crust, and they are on this wax paper here.
I now spread the crushed gingersnaps evenly in the pie pan. After this step, I carefully pour in the filling mixture. Do I now add the extra cookie pieces to the top, or do I do that after baking? And to what temperature do I preheat the oven? And how long do I bake the pie? I will consult the recipe.
And now I see there is a problem. The recipe is on the bottom of the pie pan. Which I have just covered with gingersnap crust and a two-inch-deep layer of chocolate filling.
Oh, fuck everything.
I fucking give up. Why did I not see that the FUCKING MORONS PUT THE DIRECTIONS ON THE FUCKING INSIDE BOTTOM OF THE FUCKING PAN? All right, I’ll just scrape a little bit aside—oh, no! I tipped the pan over! AHHH! The fucking gorpy filling is spilling out! Trying to catch it—AHHH!—I slip and fall on the kitchen floor! WHAT A FUCKING MESS!! I’M ON MY BACK ON THE KITCHEN FLOOR IN A PUDDLE OF FUCKING CHOCOLATE GORP!! FUCKING STUPID PIE-PAN COMPANY! FUCKING MITCH MCCONNELL, THAT FUCKING ASSHOLE! HELP! HEL-L-L-L-P!!!
Actually, it’s not so bad lying here, except for the overpowering chocolate smell. I swear I’ll never eat chocolate again. Why did I ever try this? I detest baking. In just a minute I’m going to get up.
Oh, what a fucking horrible day this is turning out to be.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 12
This morning I want to tell you about a little game that I sometimes play with myself. It has brightened many a day for me, and perhaps it can do the same for you. This is a secret I have never told anybody, but if you like it, and if you find it works for you, I won’t mind at all if you pass it on.
Sometimes, when I am feeling challenged by life, as, for example, right now, when I look out the back window and see that the Honda has a flat tire again, and I’m going to have to call the recently released criminal tow truck driver who runs the AAA account around here, and I’m wondering what kind of cheap party balloons Steve’s Sunoco has been selling Larry in the guise of car tires—Jesus, Larry, why didn’t you fucking deal with this before you left for work, or at least give me a heads-up?
As I was saying, at moments like this, I play the Elsewhere Game. In my mind I simply go elsewhere, to a distant place that’s marvelous and far away and steeped in leisure, the kind of place where people like the client of Larry’s in Encino that I was telling you about who insist on the presence of certain wives on company business weekends spend all their time. To myself, I say sentences I would be saying in that lovely, faraway place:
“Think I’ll take the boat out this morning! Haven’t been to Lower Matecumbe Key in a while! Maybe there are some new shells washed up on the Gulf side! First let me make sure all the wire transfers are going through! Which sandals would I rather, the flats or the slingbacks? Should I walk down to the dock, or ride my bicycle?”
Oh, God, it’s not working. Perhaps with a pitcher of sangria …
THURSDAY, JANUARY 13
Trevor, our older son, is a wonderful boy. His mind goes faster than his words can keep up with, one of his teachers has told me, and as a result he lashes out and sometimes exposes himself in class. We are working on this. He does not always tell the truth. “The truth is not in him,” as Grampa Hub used to say about the serial killer, I forget his name—not that Trevor is in such company! Ted Bundy. That was the name. Grampa Hub and Gramma Pat were fascinated with that case.
My husband, Larry, does not take enough time with Trevor, I think because he (Larry) is often at work on the weekends, and when he’s home he’s very involved with whatever he does in the basement with his boxes of capacitors, and that occupies a lot of the attention he might give his son.
Do you ever get panic attacks? I think I’m having one right now, thinking about Trevor and how in God’s name he will ever get through life. He is just a horrible, wretched child. I know it’s wrong to say that about my own son but he should be under police supervision all the time and I absolutely do not know what we’re going to do with him. That is wrong to think, yes, I am aware of that, but what should I do? You tell me.
Trevor, honey, if you ever read this, please use words to express your reaction, not hitting or knives.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 14
Still sort of panicked about Trevor, so I thought I would try a simple yoga exercise. I’m going to put on my yoga slippers—which are made out of stitched-together pieces of real yoga mats!—and then I stand, centered and quiet and mindful, in the vicinity of the liquor cabinet. I let my mind drift freely, accepting whatever comes into it, and to my surprise, I’m thinking, “Walnut liqueur.”
SATURDAY, JANUARY 15
God, that stuff was awful. I am still gagging, and the horrible moldy walnut taste will not leave my mouth. Sabrina called again. This is not the way I want my mouth to feel as I drive in mysteriously heavy Saturday morning traffic to the goddamn fucking assisted living.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 16
Although I consider myself a deeply spiritual person, I am impatient with the creeds and dogmas of organized religion. (Actually, it’s the creeds I am impatient with, while the dogmas I don’t so much mind.) The one therapist who would accept Trevor agreed to see him only at seven o’clock on Sunday mornings, so every Sunday I get him up and dressed and drag him off, not to his great liking, obviously. Then I wait in the car in the parking lot while he has his appointment, and after it I drive him to McDonald’s and then home. This is our usual Sunday. I am not a regular churchgoer, in other words.
This morning as I waited in the car in the therapist’s parking lot, I was fooling with the radio and one of those radio preachers came on. The guy had a quavery, ancient voice that sounded like he was practically in the grave. His topic was the story of Mary and Martha, in the book of somebody or other, when the Lord comes to visit at their house. The Lord is sitting there in the house preaching, and one of the two women, Mary or Martha, I forget which, “busies herself with much serving,” while the other sits at Jesus’s feet.
The one who is serving—let’s say it’s Martha, I have a fifty-fifty chance of being right—says to the Lord something like, “Hey, Lord, tell Mary to help me, because I’m doing all the work and she is just sitting there.” And he replies (I’m paraphrasing), “Martha, you are too busy with small things, you should be like Mary, who knows that it’s better to sit and listen to me”—i.e., you, Martha, are just wasting your time.
The near-death radio preacher’s message was that we are too much concerned with worldly cares when really we should yadda yadda yadda. Okay—got it. The more I thought about it, though, the stupider it seemed. These ladies have Jesus over to their house, he brings an entourage, the apostles or whoever are standing or sitting everywhere in the living room, they’ve all been out in the hot Holy Land sun, and they want something to eat. Martha is running around preparing it and setting up tables and chairs and so on, and the Lord tells her she should be more like her sister, who has not lifted one finger to help. I began to wonder how in hell—excuse me—the good Lord managed to get away with that. Seems to me, the minute he said that to Martha, both he and the do-nothing sister would have been looking at a flying platter of baby goat with lentil sauce heading straight their way. How the good Lord kept that woman from chucking something right at his haloed head has to be ranked as one of the true miracles of the Bible, up there with the loaves and fishes and the parting of the sea.
Or am I missing a deeper meaning here? Could be. The Cursing Mommy might not be the best person to go to for Bible commentary on this Sunday morning.
MONDAY, JANUARY 17
Today is Martin Luther King Day, and then Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are Unpaid Teacher Appreciation Days, when we appreciate the teachers by repaving the school playground and they give up their salaries for those days. Trevor and Kyle and I have a certain quota of asphalt we are expected to bring. Last year I was one of the organizers—never again, I vowed, when it was done. But I am organizing Kyle’s class’s parents again this year.
Why in the goddamn hell did I agree to this? Did I suffer some temporary insanity? Now not only do I have to deal with the kids being home all week except Friday, but I must also spend today calling the fucking other parents to set this thing up before going to Spong’s Supply and buying nine fifty-pound sacks of fucking asphalt and driving them to the school over potholes in our car with its party-balloon tires. Sometimes I despise my fucking life.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 18
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19
[That goes double for Wednesday.]
THURSDAY, JANUARY 20
[Never, never do this again!]
FRIDAY, JANUARY 21
Back in my favorite kitchen chair again with my coffee cup and you, my friends—and oh, so happy to be! How are you? It’s been a while! Let’s just be silent for a moment together, as real friends can be with one another, and take in the pleasant, peaceful rhythms of an ordinary morning.
The refrigerator motor is loose in its housing, I think. That’s the reason it makes that ka-bump sound when it turns off, as it did just now. I will remind Larry to tighten the bolts, or the belt, or whatever has to be done, not that he will do it. Let’s consider the refrigerator’s ka-bump merely an upbeat punctuation note to our morning, like a double tap on a calypso steel drum on that sunny Elsewhere Island we go to sometimes. Ka-bump. Now it’s turning on again. Larry will do nothing, and I will have to call the repairman.
Sitting quietly and just listening, in the unseen, sustaining presence of our friends. Thank God there was at least one day of school this week, and the house is calm this morning, relatively. How did you sleep last night? It’s awful to toss and turn, isn’t it? I did not sleep very well, myself. When I came downstairs this morning, I had a newspaper headline running through my brain:
It Will Be Easy, Easy, Easy:
The Shag Helicopter Is No More
Now, did I only dream that, or am I remembering a real headline I saw recently? And if that is a real headline, where did I see it, and what could the story have been about? “Shag Helicopter”? What in the world could that mean?
SATURDAY, JANUARY 22
The headline cannot be found anywhere online, so I probably dreamed it. That is no help with my current indisposition, however, which is that I now have the fucking headline permanently stuck in my head.
It Will Be Easy, Easy, Easy: The Shag Helicopter Is No More.
It Will Be Easy, Easy, Easy: The Shag Helicopter Is No More.
It Will Be Easy, Easy, Easy: The Shag Helicopter Is No More.
Please, brain, stop saying that over and over. I already have enough to deal with. I need some kind of shock to jolt the insane sentence out of me, the way you scare somebody to cure them of the hiccups. I am sure I will not have long to wait for a curative distraction. I must be patient. Something will come along.
It Will Be Easy, Easy, Easy …
SUNDAY, JANUARY 23
Begging my brain to shut up already about the fucking Shag Helicopter as I sit in the therapist’s parking lot and wait for Trevor at seven fifty.
MONDAY, JANUARY 24
Be careful what you wish for. —Anonymous
And thus we see the truth of this old unhelpful saying, because today I am no longer thinking about that goddamn headline, which I won’t mention for fear of recurrence. No, now I am thinking and tearing my hair out about a phone call I just got from Larry. He had his annual performance review first thing when he arrived at work today. His hourly rate is being reduced.
Oh, God, what’re we going to do? The review was a one-on-one with the client who has the house in Encino, who turns out also to run a private equity company that holds a controlling share in Larry’s firm, which means the client from Encino is actually the client of himself, it seems. Larry’s numbers for last year were down. In the previous few months he didn’t bill enough. There were complaints about his bringing some of his boxes of capacitors into the office.
Oh God oh God oh God. Why doesn’t he just stop with the fucking goddamn capacitors?—but they’re so important to him. Why didn’t he bill more hours? Basically what this means, Larry says, is he will be working more to bring home less. He is about ready to shoot himself.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 25
I will say one thing, though—no problem is big enough to affect how ol’ Larry sleeps at night. Last night he’s lying there snoring away, sawing logs, and I’m next to him with my useless goddamn annoying earplugs, wide awake and staring at the ceiling. After a while it starts to stare back, and it says to me, “Hello, I’m your ceiling. I’ve watched you many a night as you lie there asleep and unaware, and only now do you notice me?” Then it goes into this self-congratulatory ceiling monologue about how it was there before me and will be there after me, and some other woman will lie where I’m lying and stare up at it, and so on. I didn’t mind, actually. It passed the time.
Let me tell you a little bit about the client with the house in Encino. The man is a multigazillionaire, whatever that means, but you would never know it to look at him. He appears just like an ordinary guy, or even less than ordinary. He is not aloof at all but acts like anybody. You wouldn’t pick him out as one of the richest people on the planet, which I guess he is. The only thing that you could call different is that he loves heavy metal, which he has piped through the whole house and even in the pool, where if you swim underwater it practically crushes your eardrums. Also, at the start of his New Year’s weekend, he does a strip on the diving board, beginning with his cell phone and his BlackBerry, which he takes out of his pockets and throws into the water without a thought! Of course losing them is nothing to him, he can easily have them replaced.
Late in the evening if he catches you alone he can be a hazard. Kicking him in the shins, however, was probably not the best idea.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26
When I’m feeling low and blue, nothing perks me up like a little shopping. In fact, sometimes I can be almost a shopaholic! How about you? Do you like to “shop ’til you drop”?
Well, we shouldn’t give in to that, in these economic times. I know I certainly shouldn’t, with the smaller income our family is likely to be looking at due to Larry’s terrible performance review—so I have developed a strategy. I shop, but I use my head, and I get all the fun of shopping without breaking the family piggybank. I call it my “splurge smart” technique, and today I’m going to share it with you.
Splurge Smart: A Cursing Mommy Wised-up Shopping Spree
Normally I would drive to a store to do this, but today the goddamn car is being repaired. No problem—I’ll simply shop online! I have my credit card handy, and I begin by going to Merchants’ Markdown’s website, where they have some wonderful things. I am looking for a new raincoat … no, I do not want any Viagra, thank you … and Jesus Christ, no, I do not want to know my credit score rating … don’t care if Rennie Lister’s dress at the Peabody Awards went too far … Here we are! Merchants’ Markdown! And I simply click on “women’s raincoats,” give my credit card number (with expiration date and security code and zip code), and away I go!
Goodness, they all look lovely, don’t they? Too bad I can’t buy them all. But do you know what? I can, or I can pretend I can. I go along from raincoat to raincoat—here’s a tan belted number with a hood that might be perfect for me—and I put each one in my shopping cart. At the end, of course, I will cancel every purchase except the one I like the absolute best. I get all the fun of splurging without the high cost—I splurge smart! And now, with my shopping cart brimming full of raincoats, I click on “cancel,” because in truth I don’t think any of these would be really right. I hit “cancel” … I hit “cancel” … I hit fucking “cancel”! Cancel! Cancel! Cancel! Jesus Christ, why won’t it fucking cancel?
“Thank you for your purchase”? I didn’t make any fucking purchase! “Cancel cancel cancel cancel!” Nothing fucking happens!
“Your order will ship within three hours”? But I haven’t fucking ordered anything! Why can’t I fucking cancel this! FUCKING GODDAMN STUPID MERCHANTS’ MARKDOWN! FUCKING BUNCH OF THIEVES! FUCKING STUPID COMPUTER! Okay, I’ll just unplug the fucking thing. I’m on the floor crawling behind the fucking goddamn computer, WHY ARE FUCKING COMPUTERS SO FUCKING EXPENSIVE THAT YOU CAN’T JUST SMASH THEM—OUCH!! Pulling the plug out, I accidentally yank the pole lamp down on top of me! FUCK GODDAMN EVERYTHING!! FUCKING GODDAMN BUSH ADMINISTRATION!! FUCKING RUMSFELD, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE!! HELP! HEL-L-L-L-L-P!!!!
Actually, it’s kind of restful back here, among the wires. I should clean out some of these dust bunnies, I suppose, but who fucking cares. Now I have about six dozen pointless goddamn raincoats arriving soon by UPS. I’ll merely fucking ship them back. In just a minute I’m going to get up.
Oh, what a fucking horrible day this is going to be.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 27
I often think thoughts
That need not
—M. Foler Tuohy
Are you aware of the work of M. Foler Tuohy? He is my very, very favorite poet / philosopher / life coach / armchair guru, and if you don’t know about him, he is somebody you simply HAVE to read. I press copies of his books on all my friends. Universally, they agree with me. M. Foler Tuohy has devoted himself to leading an intentional life. He always tries to see through the surface appearances of things, and above all he is about removing clutter, such as the clutter many of us carry around in our minds.
I love the way M. Foler Tuohy is also a storyteller. Like the Bible, he illustrates many of the most important truths with stories, because, as he emphasizes, telling stories is what we human beings have done since caveman days. Stories are how we connect to one another as people, as well as by hollering, as I sometimes do myself. M. Foler Tuohy also describes himself as “a great lover of language,” and that is also very true. Much of his writing uses wonderful, ravishing vocabulary.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 28
In daily life we can see many examples of the mental clutter M. Foler Tuohy is warning us against. This morning my mind is filled with clutter about how fucking Larry showered and left for work and did not clean up the cat mess on the goddamn bathroom floor. Instead he left it for me. Obviously Larry saw the cat mess and SIMPLY STEPPED AROUND IT! This is Larry’s new thing. His terrible performance review and his new reduced billing rate have made him so oppressed and preoccupied that whereas he was doing almost nothing around the house before, now he is doing totally and completely absolutely goddamn nothing, not even cleaning up a cat mess right under his nose. He must not be bothered—that seems to be Larry’s new policy. Therefore everything around the house will now be up to me, even on days like, for example, today, when I have a Cursing Mommy column to do.
My friends, can I confide in you? I think of you, the Cursing Mommy’s silent and sustaining companions invisibly surrounding her, and I know you’re the only ones I can tell this to. The client with the house in Encino who is making Larry’s life miserable gave me his phone number when we were there over New Year’s. He put it in my travel bag somehow and I didn’t find it until I unpacked. The piece of paper just says “Call me” and a number, with no signature, but I recognize the insane handwriting because it’s the same as on his insane New Year’s card. It’s written in black graffiti-size laundry marking pen. I don’t know if he put this in my bag before or after I kicked his shins.
Okay, I did not throw the number away. I mean, it seemed too valuable—how many people have this guy’s private number, after all? And now I am wondering if maybe I could call it and get him to go easy on Larry. At least I could apologize for kicking him.
Talk about mental clutter! Do you see what I mean?
SATURDAY, JANUARY 29
Today at Food Superior I ran into Margaret from book group and she pointed out that the bottles of Perrier and Pellegrino sparkling water are now found in the aisle for sodas, while the bottles of vitamin water and skinny water are now in the aisle for bottled water. This is an odd change. Margaret and I tried to figure out the logic. Perrier and Pellegrino are bottled natural water, and so you would think they would be with the other bottled waters, while the various colored and flavored vitamin waters are man-made drinks and thus would seem to belong in the soda aisle. At first the switch makes no sense, but you have to put on your thinking cap. The Perrier and the Pellegrino are now with the sodas because, like them, they are carbonated (though naturally so), while the various vitamin waters are with the plain bottled water—your Poland Spring and Deer Park waters and the rest—because they are not.
Hmmm … interesting …
SUNDAY, JANUARY 30
At Trevor’s therapist this morning, I sat in the parking lot and didn’t even listen to the radio because I could hardly hear it over the rain. I would not have been surprised if I had been washed away, car and parking lot and everything. When I ran the windshield wipers I could see the chain-link fence around the lot with a couple of sawed-off tree branches still stuck in it where they had grown through. It must have been too much trouble for the workmen to remove them entirely, so the branches were sawed off on either side, and the chunks with fence wire in them just left there in the fence. I try always to park in the same space next to the tree pieces, for a sense of security, I guess. Isn’t that funny of me?
Last night I was trying to make the rain stop by thinking against it and saying “fucking goddamn rain,” and so on. Then I started hearing a strange watery sound inside the house, and it turned out to be water running down the inside of the basement walls! The rain had filled the window wells and water was pouring in around the casements. What a headache! At 3:00 a.m. Larry and I were vacuuming the water on the basement floor with the Shop-Vac and dumping it into the sink in the laundry room. I don’t even want to know what happened to Larry’s boxes of capacitors. I didn’t ask.
MONDAY, JANUARY 31
Still raining, but not to worry. I’ve heard it is very good for the reservoirs!
Copyright © 2012 by Ian Frazier
Meet the Author
Ian Frazier is the author of Great Plains, The Fish's Eye, On the Rez, Family, and Travels in Siberia, as well as Coyote v. Acme, Dating Your Mom, and Lamentations of the Father, all published by FSG. A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, he lives in Montclair, New Jersey.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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While this book had some humor, I made the mistake, dear readers, of ordering this in audiobooks, Cynthia Nixon gives a spirited reading; however, the cursing is so shrill and dramatic that this audiobook was unpleasant to hear. A visual soundless medium may have been more enjoyable since the eyes can skim easily without hearing the tires-on-the-street screeches of this dramatic reading. The absurdities of daily life and surreal world the cursing mommy lives in are pointed, though thankfully no woman I know has close to this thought process or lifestyle. In that way, I found the main character too cartoonish to embrace. Not for the easy listener.
One of the funniest books ever written. I have never laughed longer and harder at anything in my life. I read Ian Frazier's "Cursing Mommy" columns in the New Yorker and have always loved them, but I couldn't imagine they would make a full length book. I was wrong. The trials of the Cursing Mommy build up over the course of the year and simply continue to get more and more hilarious. I can imagine some people being put off by all the "cursing," but I would hope most would realize that it is just over the top and simply brilliant satire. Frazier is a genius, and one of the funniest writers that ever lived.
I loved this book! I am a cursing mommy and this book made me laugh! It's for all of us moms who aren't perfect and don't try to pretend that we are.
Ian Frazier's character The Cursing Mommy is very funny, BUT she is better in installment form in The New Yorker.
Depressing. Not funny.