Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Thank You Mom 101

I don't "know" Mom 101, but not long ago, in an effort to garner more traffic, I joined a web-ring called Crazy Hip Blog Mamas where I ran accross her blog and many others that were not stupid. I enjoyed her writing style and envied her career, so I bookmarked her site and visited often to live vicariously through her.

As a novice blogger, I was a little hesitant to offer comments unsolicited, but she had no such qualms. Over the last couple weeks, Mom 101 has said some incredibly kind things about my writing, linked a couple of my posts, and now has nominated me for the "perfect post" award.

I want to thank her for taking me under her wing, so to speak. She has increased traffic to my blog tenfold and spread the word through her own highly trafficked and extremely well-written blog. I am surprised and touched by the kindness she has extended to a near stranger. What a truly cool chick she is.

Also, I would like to thank the gals who started the perfect post thingee. It's not really a contest, because everyone who is nominated, gets an award. But in a medium where so much petty divisive bullshit takes place, it's refreshing to see something that unifies and uplifts the wonderfully diverse, intelligent and creative women that populate it.

So go visit Lucinda and MommaK and check out some of the other nominees. You will see that I am in good company. There are some really incredible writers out there, and their slice of life commentary, which I started out criticizing, has amazing power, poignancy and passion.

In closing I would like to thank everyone who has visited me through one of these links and been kind enough to leave a comment. I have read them all, and though I would love to say that writing is it's own reward (and in many ways it is)'s damn nice to have someone say nice stuff about what you wrote.

This blog thing might just catch on.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Husband Material

Having your period in a house full of boys is kind of like farting in public. It requires a lot of deception, a lot of deflection, and the knowledge that sometimes you just have to own up to it.

My oldest child has intimate and detailed knowledge of female menstruation which was necessitated by my failure to flush in the middle of the night. I's gross, but the bathroom is directly opposite the nursery, and we figured out very early in his life that the sound of a toilet flushing can wake a sleeping baby with explosive efficacy. The habit of not flushing during the night has persisted and one morning when he was about 6, the poor child stumbled into the bathroom for his morning poo, and rose to find a toilet bowl full of blood. The ear piercing shrieks reverberated through the house for a full fifteen minutes before I was able to convince him that he had not divested himself of all his "inside stuff". There is nothing more sobering than trying to explain the basics of menstruation to a shaking and traumatized 6 year old boy.

So, I diligently dispose of all period related detritus as discreetly as possible. I never make my husband stop for supplies, and I am conscious of the fact that my pre-pubescent son would suffer fatal mortification if he had to go anwhere near the feminine hygeine aisle. I try to keep my children out of the direct path of my mood swings, and instead save the brunt of them for my husband, who has learned to bear them with admirable equilibrium and gratifying sensitivity. I really try to make it a non-issue whenever possible.

But sometimes, it's not easy to pretend that my back isn't aching with an intensity which rivals that of laboring with a sunny side up fetus firmly ensconed in my pelvic inlet. Or that my guts aren't being wracked with agonizing cramps that seem impervious to all conventional methods of pain relief while the lamentable lack of narcotics in the house causes me to curse my stoicism when I had my gall bladder removed and declined to have my script refilled.

In other words...they know.

So, today, I had just emerged from the shower after lying abed most of the morning with a menstrual migraine, snuggled up to the heating pad in a way that would have made my husband a little envious. I had crawled out of bed just as the schoolbus was braking in front of the house, fixed my kids a snack, and then hit the shower in an attempt to humanize myself somewhat. As I stood there dripping, there was a tentative knock on the door and my oldest queried softly...."Mom?"

I was about snarl a reply, irked by being bothered in the shower, AGAIN, but he continued without waiting for a response.

"I brought you some fresh coffee. I put that special creamer in it too. Maybe that will make you feel better, huh?"

Yeah..that makes me feel better. A lot better.

"Thank you, honey, that was very thoughtful of you."

"You're welcome. Why are you looking at me like that?"

"SIGH...I was just thinking that you'll make a great husband someday."

He rolled his eyes at me disgustedly.

"Geez Mom, it's just a cup of coffee."

Sometimes, this kid can drive me to the brink of insanity. Sometimes, I want to scream at the mud, the noise, and the incessant bodily noises and bathroom humor. Sometimes, I wonder, if it's this bad now, what will 14 bring??

But sometimes...sometimes he brings me a cup of coffee that is so much more than a cup of coffee. And someday, he will bring a cup of comfort to someone else having her period. She better damn well appreciate it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Brokeback Kid

After eleven years of parenting, I have developed an undistinquished but indispendable survival skill; that of tuning out the cacophony that seems to pervade a home in which boys reside, while still remaining cognizant of the important little snippets of information that keep me plugged in to their lives.

So the other day amid the general ruckus, I chanced to hear..

"Dude, I can't believe you like guys. That's like...SICK."

I cringed.

I knew exactly which child to whom this was addressed. It had been clear to me for some time that the young man in question was struggling with his sexual identity, and equally clear that he had a bit of a crush on my son. He is shy and softspoken with huge brown eyes, and a grin that splits his face from ear to ear. He often plays the role of peacemaker in backyard squabbles. I've never heard him say a mean word to anyone. Unfortunately for him, he's the kind of kid that wears his heart on his sleeve; in this case, rainbow striped for all the world to see and comment upon.

I waited to see if this warranted intercession on my part, hoping not to have to wade into the shark infested waters of sexual preference and designation.

"Dude, that's just wrong."
"Man, that makes me want to hurl."
"So, you're like, gay? That bites."

It was getting ugly. When they took up a rousing chorus of "Gay Kid and Straight Kid sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g" I knew I had no choice but to step in, God help me.

"Ahem...boys? I need to talk to you for a moment."

Six heads swivelled on impossibly skinny necks and six pairs of eyes regarded me with a mixture of curiosity and wariness. I took a deep breathe and tried not to hurl.

"There is nothing wrong with being Gay. And making fun of someone because of who they love is just as wrong as making fun of them because of the color of their skin."

Twelve feet shuffled in the grass, 12 eyes refused to meet mine, six faces flushed scarlet, and six mouths mumbled..."Yes, Ma'am."

"Does ummm, anybody want to ask me anything?"

My youngest, always the one willing to charge ahead when others would hang back, and never one to prevaricate, piped up.

"Mom? Is this about Sex?"

"Well, sort of, but it's really more about love."

"Oh. Well, either way, I don't think I'm ready for this. I'm only 7."

Recalling our last conversation, and trying to respect his recognition of his own limits, I agreed. I sent him in the house to play with matches or a plastic bag or something equally age appropriate. My older son, whom, I'm ashamed to say, started the whole thing, said, "Mom...why are people gay?"

Hokay...No simple insert tab A into slot B; we're going right to the philosophical fabric of the universe type stuff. Great.

"Ummm, well, nobody really knows, and I don't think there is a reason. It's like when some people like dogs and some people like cats."

Oh yes, brilliant analogy Dr. Ruth. I'm sure that cleared things right up for them. They should hire you to teach 5th grade Human Development.

Taking another deep breathe, I tried again.

" doesn't make any difference if you like cats and someone else likes dogs, right? If they're a cool person and you like hanging out with them, it doesn't matter. It doesn't change who they are. It doesn't make them any better or worse than you, right? And it doesn't mean they deserve to be made fun of. Do you...understand...what I'm saying?"

"Sure Mom."
"Sure Mrs. BA"
"Yeah, we understand."

My heart sunk. I had been given a golden opportunity to promote tolerance and acceptance, and I had botched it horribly. My kids were doomed to a life of homophobia because of their mother's ineptitude with analogies. I tried to think of some way to salvage the situation, but I was at a loss. I turned to go back in the house, hoping against hope that I had somehow gotten through to them, despite my bumbling.

As I stood in the kitchen preparing dinner, downhearted about my dismal failure as a sex therapist to 11 year old boys, snatches of conversation drifted in through the open windows.

"Dude, I'm sorry. You're not sick. You're cool."
"Yeah, me too. It's alright you don't like girls. More for us then, heh."
"I wasn't really gonna hurl."
"As long as you don't get any ideas, we're cool."
"As if buttmunch."

It was all very good humored in a testosterone infused kind of way. I imagined these procolamations were punctuated by hyper masculine behavior such as shoulder punching and nuggie giving.

So they had listened, and it seems they got it. And for a while at least, the kid could relaxe and be just one of the guys. I hoped it would be a long time before he had to face real intolerance and real hatred. I felt sad when I thought of the struggle ahead of him and I wondered if it would break his sweet and gentle spirit. And guiltily, I felt incredibly thankful that at least on of my sons had proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be heterosexual. Because that day, being different was okay, but at 11 all they really want to do is be the same as everybody else. I hoped there would be many more okay days for my young friend, and maybe, in an age of increasing awareness, understanding and acceptance, that hope is not entirely in vain.

Have a happy life Brokeback Kid. I hope that in some miniscule way, I helped to make it so.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A Time to Remember

Last week, Reluctant Housewife issued a challenge to readers and fellow bloggers to post some of their early, early, early work. I was intrigued by this idea and eagerly read the offerings of those who were brave enough to accept the challenge.

It is fascinating to see how those with distinctive voices have evolved as writers. It is interesting to note that those who have a passion for writing seem to have realized this passion early in life and then pursued it with the kind of ardor and vigor that does not often follow us into our third decade of life. I also think that this work contains a depth and a purity that is untainted by artistic conscience or intellectual prejudice. It is raw, naked emotion. Embarassing to be sure, but also beautifully expressive and poignant.

When I left home at 18, all my beloved poetry, fiction and prose was carefully boxed up and stored away in anticipation of someday being published (We all thought that right?). Twenty years later it was still moldering in the basement of the home I grew up in, unpublished and mostly forgotten.

Prompted by RH's little exercise, I called my mother and asked her to unearth some of my work and email it to me. Several days later a package arrived. When I opened it I found my beloved pleather portfolio, which I had once thought looked very "literary" and which bulged with my most prized work. It is now cracked and musty smelling, but holding it in my hands brought back some of the tentative, furtive, irrepressible pride that its contents inspired in me.

I laughed and cried as I read some of what it contained. I remembered the powerful emotions that inspired these outpourings. I both rejoiced at the passing of such an angst ridden era, and mourned its demise.

So yes, I will post some of it, and you can even laugh at it if you like. It is silly, and clumsy, and sometimes overly concerned with rhyming. But it is a very stark emotional snapshot of the girl I was. Perhaps, if I study it carefully, I can avoid screwing things up beyond belief when my boys reach that precarious, bewildering and blessedly transitory phase.

Strangely enough, I don't write poetry anymore. I don't remember when I stopped or why.

Without further ado....

A Time To Remember (Mourning the simplicity of childhood I believe)

Do you remember
when the world was big
and laughter came as swiftly as speech?
When running with the wind on your shoulder
was as easy as falling asleep?

Do you remember
when the night was still long
but the sun eager
to shine in a sky
that was always friendly?

And do you remember
the safety of arms
and the power of kisses on tears
when the most tragic thing in life
was tomorrow?

Untitled (Reflections on the first deep and abiding love, if I remember right)

Our thoughts enfold
and souls entwine
Minds reach accross a chasm
to speak a wordless caress
Understanding the lovely pain
knowing that anguish makes it real
Tears fall
that kisses need not sweeten
and a cry accross eternity
can always be heard
My heart still knows
what reason denies
forever is too long
spent apart
But the warmth of embrace
and the security of you
is a presence like the sun
I'm smiling in the brightness
of your beauty
but not blinded
If this should linger
whispered at the edge of a dream
the chasm may close
and choosing will no longer matter
Conscious love
is more precious
than the most brilliant gem.

The One (Not really sure...rebelling against responsibility?)

One child
born in the glow
of the first coming
fueled by ignorant expectation
one seed
nurtured and fed
in the radiant love
unaware of a cloud
on the horizon
in her life soil
unable to bloom
and the child too
shall have muddy feet.

Edna St. Vincent your heart out.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

North and South

I am a Yankee by birth. I was born on the frozen tundra of Wisconsin in an igloo. We were transported to and from school by dogsled. In the winter, we did not venture from our glacial home for months on end because do so would mean risking life and limb, or at least a really bad head cold. Chronic hat head and the need to layer robbed us of our fashion sense, so we grew up assuming that one cannot go wrong with flannel. Due to a congenital tongue malformation that has plagued generations of Wisconsinites, we are incapable of pronouncing the fricative "th", and so subsitute the plosives "d", (dere, dat, dah) or "t" (tirty, tree, tirty-tree)

Unbeknownst to me, these were some of the misconceptions that I faced when I journeyed South at the tender age of 18. I learned a lot that first year and after almost 20 years in the South, I'm still learning.

Despite the yawning chasm of cultural divergence, I married a Southern country boy. And though he had been succesfully citifed by the time I met him, his family remained firmly entrenched in their small town ways, antiquated attitudes, and stereotypical beliefs regarding those who hail from North of the Mason Dixon line. It has made for some mighty entertaining moments over our 13 years of marriage.

The first time I took my then fiancee, who had never been further north than Tennessee, home to Wisonsin was Christmas of 1992. They were having a brutal cold snap, with wind chills near 30 below zero. I, who had journeyed home a week before him, called to remind him to dress warmly. He assured me he would. My parents and I went to pick him up at the small municipal airport, which did not have the luxury of jetways like the large international airport from which he had departed. We, along with many other families eagerly awaiting the yuletide return of widely scattered loved ones, watched as passengers deplaned and made their way to accross the tarmac. As my beloved appeared at the hatch dressed in a leather bomber jacket, a silk shirt, blue jeans and cowboy boots, two things happened.

First, the smile on his lips froze in place as the saliva on his exposed gums instantly crystallized, turning his boyish grin into an agonized rictus of disbelief. Secondly, his testicles retreated into his abdominal cavity with such force and velocity that he was momentarily convinced that they had simply disintegrated in the savage cold; frozen solid and fragmented into tiny, sperm laden shards. Everyone saw his reaction to the frigid conditions, and a collective exclamation of pity was heard, sort of like "Yeahhhoooooh." My Dad, though trying to amenable, could not resist muttering to my mother "Doesn't that boy have any sense?"

Well, yes, he had plenty of sense, but he had Southern sense, not Northern sense. He simply had no frame of reference for judging cold of such bone piercing brutality. "Cold" in Georgia means throw on a jacket and you can always take it off if it's too much. Cold in Wisonsin means long underwear and Goretex, and a stadium blanket in the trunk in case its not enough. I blamed myself for not explaining the difference between stiff nipple cold and mother of god I can't feel my butt cheeks cold and specifying that we were dealing with the latter. But my Dad wasn't buying it. He grumbled sotto voce to my mother, "It's cold, you put on a sweater for Chrissake."

Despite the rocky start, my husband and my family actually hit it off quite well, and the rest of the week went smoothly. My parents' annual New Year's Eve bash was my first opportunity to show him off to those outside the family. Being a pretty great guy, he made a good impression and scored big points by proving his willingness to laugh along with everybody else when he complained that the beer sitting outside the back door would not be sufficiently cold for his taste and when it was revealed in a semi-drunken revelry that he knew all the words to "Sweet Home Alabama."

He endured it all with good humor, but the first Thanksgiving with his family a month previous has proven just as harrowing for me, so he owed me one. After five years of spending my solitary Thanksgivings in front of the tv eating pumpkin flavored ice cream out of the carton, I was looking forward to a family Thanksgiving dinner. My mouth was watering at the thought of turkey and stuffing, and all the accompaniments. I chose a nice dry Chardonnay to bestow upon my future in-laws, hoping to make a good impression.

When we arrived, the kitchen was awash with aromas; some familiar, some decidedly alien. I spied several dishes that were unidentifiable to me, but, being gastronomically adventurous, I resolved to try everything. I hugged my future mother in law and handed her the bottle of wine. She thanked me graciously, then apologized for the lack of a corkscrew and placed the bottle on the uppermost shelf in her kitchen cabinet, next to a coffe can full of nuts and bolts, and a bedraggled plastic floral arrangement.

My fiancee whispered in my ear "Chattooga is a dry county, hon." Wha??? A dry county? I thought those were a myth, like tar paper shacks and people marrying their first cousin, both of which, I later found, were not in fact, myths. "Why didn't you TELL me?" I hissed back. He shrugged..."I thought you knew." I momentarily considered asking for it back; it was a $40 bottle of Mer Soleil, after all. But I decided it would be in poor taste, so I resigned myself to drinking ice water with the meal. I couldn't help but cast one last longing glance at the lovely Chardonnay, which did not go unnoticed.

We settled in at the table whereupon I was given the dubious honor of saying Grace. I couldn't help but think it was test of some kind, though in reality, it was most likely just a kind gesture meant to made me feel welcome and included. Having already exposed myself as a raging alcoholic, I was reluctant to add Godless Heathen to the quickly lengthening list of shortcomings. Nevertheless, I passed the buck to my fiance with as much diplomacy as I could, as my mealtime prayer repertoire had never evolved beyond "Rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub." The ease with which he channelled Jerry Falwell was slightly disconcerting, but I chose to overlook it in light of the fact that he had saved me from being branded a drunken impious wretch by people I would have had to spend the next 30 or 40 years sucking up to in an effort to convince them that I am not the devil's concubine and our children his imps.

At long last the food was served, and most of it seemed perfectly palatable. By and by, however, I was passed a Pyrex bowl filled with something that resembled kelp and smelled like feet. I looked up to find half a dozen pairs of eyes fixed upon me expectantly. My future father-in-law proudly pronounced, "Them's Collard Greens. Linda boils em with streaked (pronounced stree-ked) meat for flavor." "Is that so?" I replied. I did not know what streaked meat was, and I wasn't sure I wanted to. Reminding myself of my resolve to try everything, I enthusiastically placed a pulpy dab upon my plate.

I found myself repeating that reminder when I was handed a bowl of liquid the color and consistency of snot. I hesitated, uncertain of its exact purpose. My savior fiancee once again came to my rescue and informed me cheerily, "It's giblet (hard G, as in gross) gravy. You serve it over the cornbread dressing." Ah yes, the granular substance that was passed to me immediately preceding the snot. Gotcha. I dipped the ladle into the viscous fluid, carefully avoiding the unindentifiable animal matter bobbing merrily on the surface, surmising that is was a pancreas or a gall bladder or some such thing. As the aroma wafted up from my plate my resolve weakened somewhat. But, I reasoned, I had swallowed plenty of snot over the course of my life, and since this was an actual foodstuff, it couldn't possibly be any worse. It turns out I was wrong. Profoundly, tragically, egregiously wrong.

The lesson I learned that day is....don't put anything that smells like feet in your mouth, and there are things in this world that taste worse than snot.

To be fair, there were some truly delectible dishes on the table that day. My mother-in-law can make the lightest, flakiest, most succulent apple turnovers you have ever tasted in your life. They call them fried apple pies. I call them orgasmic. She can make biscuits of transcendant fluffiness, creamed taters that melt in your mouth, and fried chicken that defies description. I've never mastered the art of frying chicken despite her patient instruction, and I definitely do not have the biscuit gene, so despite the initial shock of my first experience with collard greens and giblet gravy, I have to admit to her superiority in the kitchen.

Since that fateful day 13 years ago, we've struggled through many issues related to our cultural differences. Some, such as collard greens, were trivial, and easy to laugh at later. Some of the differences were deeper and harder to reconcile and some we still labor to overcome. But I've learned that my in-laws are good, kind, and generous people and that a lazy drawl can disguise a keen intellect and quick wit.

I still pine for home, of course. And no matter how many years I've been here, I still can't get into the Christmas spirit without snow or cope with the crushing humidity during the interminable summer. But I've learned to appreciate the genteel charm, rich history, and easy hospitality of the South.

After 20 years, I guess it's growing on me. Now, if we could just do something about the Metro area traffic, I might be persuaded to stay.

Friday, March 24, 2006


Sometimes, I feel like a big fat loser in the Mom department.

This week, my kids have half days due to conferences and my patience has worn thin. The weather has been unusually cold and wet, so they have been in the house underfoot all week. I can't get anything done. The bickering and tattling make me want to put my fingers in my ears and chant LALALALALALALALA...I can't HEEEEEARRRR yoooooooooo!" Some behavior issues with my youngest have me worried and frustrated and conflicted. Their father has been working ungodly hours due to a looming deadline, an impromptu office move, and a boss who thinks that it is somehow possible to warp the fabric of time. I'm getting a taste of what single motherhood is like, with none of the benefits.

The result of all this is that I've been a grouchy, impatient shrew of a woman this week. I've complained about my kids to anyone who will listen and I've carped at them about one thing after another. If bitchiness was an illness, I would require an IV drip of nice. Yes, that bad.

Today I found out that two people I know are facing the possible loss of their children; one due to leukemia, another due to an AVM in her brain. Another acquaintance was recently told that her baby has died in utero at 20 weeks.

And Jesus how I want to take it all back. All I can think about is the fact that if one of my children died tomorrow, their last memories of their mother would be pretty dismal.

I'm sorry boys. I love you like nobody's business and my life would be so very empty without you. I would be destroyed if anything happened to you.

Hug your children today. Tell them that you love them. Apologize if you need to. I did.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

America the Clueless

(Alternate Title...WTF America?!?!)

Here's another dirty little secret. I watch American Idol. I have always turned up my nose at reality tv, not because I thought it was beneath me, but because it made me sincerely uncomfortable to see people at their worst; vulnerable, confused, angry, and embarassed. But my kids and my husband have been watching and, well, I got sucked in and now I'm hooked. I haven't really been invested in who wins or loses, because they all have their strengths and weaknesses, though I will confess to a strong liking for Mandisa. That woman can SANG, and the way she handled the fat comments from Simon demonstrated grace and class that is difficult to find these days. She managed to confound him and wrest a crumb of genuine contrition from him in the process, which earns her extra points from me.

But America...Bucky needs to GO.

I will admit to being stunned and outraged and completely puzzled when it was Kevin singing his swan song last night instead of Bucky. I have nothing against Bucky. He's likeable enough in an Aw Shucks kind of way. But he really has zero talent aside from parrotting Skynard, which any born and bred Southern boy worth his salt can do. I hate to validate Simon, but his characterization of karaoke was right on the money.

Kevin is raw and green and needs to find his identity as a performer, but he has some actual ability, and a smidge more versatility. And Kevin is one of a kind. He's self-effacing and humble, but confident and willing to take risks...even willing to make himself the butt of jokes if it means people will remember him. And they have. The Ford Commercial in which he sports the "Sex Machine" muscle shirt is a perfect example of that. I love a guy who can laugh at himself. I never thought he would go all the way, but his departure was premature. I will miss him.

Simon has predicted that it will come down to three people; Chris, Taylor, and Kellie. I hope this prediction is proven wrong, because I like to think that people with real talent can still make it in the media driven roller coaster ride that is pop culture today, and I do not like to see bimboesque posturing rewarded with fame. In fairness, I don't think Kellie is to blame for the way she is being perceived. I think the powers that be misinterpreted her appeal in their zeal to capitalize on it. People liked her not because she was stupid, but because she was unpretentious and genuine. That has been eclipsed by her dumb blonde schtick, and its a real shame. America grows weary of it, and I think it will hurt her in the end.

And let's face it, Chris is undeniably scrumptious to look at, but can you really imagine him yukking it up? His intensity is a boon and a curse, I think. It certainly makes him an arresting performer, and women would do just about anything to see those smoldering eyes burning with passion for them, But I don't think that kind of gravity tranlates well into everyday life. You gotta have a sense of humor to deal with the weird, the ridiculous and the unpredictable. I just can't see him handling boogers or poop very well, though I don't suppose he will have to now that he has become a household name.

Taylor, well, Taylor is Taylor. I like his passion for performing, I like his energy, I like his uniquness, and I like that he has remained true to who he is and what he does. But he has a niche, and I'm not sure he has the versatility to succeed outside his genre.

None of those Simon picked are lacking in talent, but I happen to think that the two most talented probably do not fit the standard of beauty and stardom that we have been force fed by the media. I am a pragmatist, and I understand that the winner will not necessarily be the person who most deserves to win, but the person who has captured the hearts of their audience and made themselves unforgettable. And yes, the pretty will prevail, be it male or female, which is the only reason Ace has made it as far as he has.

I genuinely wish all of them well. At this point, with the exception of Bucky, I don't think there is any among them who could not be a star. But I'm still bitter about Kevin.

As an cool is Barry Manilow?? I was a Fanilow. I admit it. I was probably eight, and I loved him the way only an 8 year old girl can love. But even then I didn't appreciate his genius or understand his gift for writing and arranging. I just liked singing Copacabana at the top of my lungs and God how I wished my name was Mandy. The man is a true artist, and seemed like an incredibly likeable guy. I can't wait to see what the theme for next week will be.

Don't hold it against me, okay?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Product Whore

Today I am going to write about something totally frivolous, fluffy and in all ways superficial. Product.

I am an unabashed girly girl, and being the daughter of a hairdresser, I come by it honestly. I grew up around the greats; John Paul De Joria, Vidal Sassoon, Jose Eber. Back in the day, they were still humble enough to attend trade shows, to which my mother obligingly conveyed me with gratifying regularity. At these shows, which were redolent of aerosol and acrylic fumes, product was flagrantly and stylishly hawked in every available inch of floor space. Mere moments upon arrival at my very first show, a Product Whore was born.

These days, I do not have the luxury of spending my entire income on product as I did when I was a teenager paying my dues behind a cash register at the local Shopko. But I still have a strong affinity for product, which I indulge to the extent that I am able without taking food from the mouths of my children or adversely affecting the pursuit of my other addictions (books, tarts, all things vintage).

My mom no longer does hair; crappy hours, crappy pay, and too much exposure to noxious chemicals that do god knows what to your innards. But she does maintain her license so that she can get product at wholesale. Once a year, I go up there and embark on a product spree of such wanton hedonistic gluttony it that makes Imelda Marcos' little shoe problem seem insignificant. If we fly, I check an empty suitcase to haul my spoils home. If we drive, my husband wordlessly attaches the rooftop luggage carrier, and transfers money from the rainy day fund. Hey, I bore him two ginormous male children, its the least he can do.

So now you know my dirty little secret. BA is a Product Whore. Yeah. I try to come off all highbrow and stuff, but the fact is, I would do bad things for good product.

We all have our crosses to bear.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Art is Free

(This is a long might want to grab a cup of coffee or a Diet Coke. Or, you could just skip it. It's just a bunch of rambling about one of my pet issues. But if you have kids who will one day be publicly educated, I implore you to read on.)

This week is conference week at my children's school. I did not expect to get a glowing report on either child, though they are both exceptionally bright. Yes, I know every parent thinks that their progeny is the next Steven Hawking, but I actually have documentation to substantiate my claim. And yes, that sounds just as pretentious when I say it out loud.

But my children think "outside the box". They learn and process through experimentation, manipulation and sensory stimulation. They are both extremely creative and hunger for visual and tactile sustenance. Public school does not know what to do with my children, and so, they are compartmentalized within the very narrow definition of "gifted" and farmed out a couple days a week to harried accelerated learning specialists who have too many students and not enough resources. The rest of the time, they must fend for themselves; technicolor thinkers in a black and white world.

During my second grader's conference, the very timeworn issue of "lack of focus" came up, as it always does. The teacher, who is actually exceptionally well suited to her job and infinitely more patient with my child than I am, slid a worksheet accross the table with lips pursed and waited expectantly for me to comment. The front of the sheet you see, was utterly pristine. There was not one pencil mark upon it. The back however, was completely covered in graphite...a riot of shapes and shading that upon closer insepction revealed a very detailed and richly embellished medieval battle scene. This is how my darling 7 year old spent the morning, while his classmates dilligently filled in the blanks on their worksheets. The problem then was not lack of focus, but that which my son chose to focus on. My children have art instruction once a week, and obviously, this is not enough to slake my child's thirst. He was simply seeking another outlet for his creative energy, worksheets be damned.

Anyway, it was quite clear that she expected me to be as outraged by this as she was. Try as I might, I simply could not summon the kind of indignation that I knew any conscientious mother would should be feeling. Here is why:

Since the dawn of time, man has used the arts to communicate, to create a tapestry of the human experience, and to give meaning to his existence. In the ancient world, a civilization possessed of a strong artistic culture was thought to have a citizenry superior in intellect and inventiveness.

Unfortunately, as our world becomes more technologically oriented, with great scientific advances and medical marvels, emphasis on and interest in the arts has waned to the point of being deemed almost inconsequential. Sadly, only 36% of American students receive the recommended minimum of one hour per week of art instruction, despite the fact that the benefits of arts education are well documented.

Numerous studies have shown that a comprehensive arts education helps children:

  • Learn more effectively in all areas of the school curriculum, including math and science.
  • Experience greater understanding of what they learn
  • Score higher on all aspects of the SAT.
  • Acheive higher levels of academic success in college.

According to research by Professor Shirley Brice Heath of Stanford University, young people who practice the arts are:

  • Four times more likely to win an academic award>
  • Eight times more likely to receive a community service award
  • Three times more likely to win a school attendance award
  • Four times more likely to participate in a math or science fair.

Public schools are failing our children. As funding becomes increasingly scarce, and more and more emphasis is placed on standardized testing, our children are becoming one dimensional and creatively stunted. Classroom learning is tailored to those who are "normal" or "average", and those who fall above or below that designation are left to swim against the current in the vain hope of making it to shore. They either dog paddle in place, placidy treading water and waiting for their peers to catch up, or they are dragged beneath the waves and held there while the rest of the school swims effortlessly by.

I joined the PTA despite my lack of joiner mentality and abhorrence of such things, to have a hand in changing this. On an individual level, I cannot address the ridiculous academic standards and uniform curriculum, but I can do something about the woeful lack of enrichment programs available. I submitted a proposal to the Administration for a parent led program that I had seen being used with great success at another area elementary school. The program is designed to achieve the following:

  • To educate students about artistic techniques, as well as art history and theory in a fun and age appropriate manner.
  • To foster a love of and appreciation for art.
  • To facilitate creativity and self-expression.
  • To encourage parent involvement.

The program required a very minimal commitment of one hour once or twice a month in which a parent representative would choose an artist from a pre-established list for the applicable age group (2nd graders just don't get Kandinski and 5th graders are much too sophisticated for Pollack). The parent would give a short presentation about the artist's biographical information, as well as that regarding the artist’s medium, technique, and theoretical beliefs. Parents were encouraged to be as creative as they like in their presentations. They could dress as the featured artist; perhaps wear a beret or carry a palette and brush. They might speak with an accent or imitate a physical attribute. Following the presentation, the parent would lead the class in a related project, using what they had learned.

The Administration approved my proposal and expressed excitement about the program. I went forward; incredibly energized and full of altruistic vigor. My enthusiasm was short lived however. Despite relentless promotion of the program and shameless solicitation for volunteers at every possible school function, only ten classes out of 65 yielded a willing parent. That's barely 15% participation in a school of over 1200. The program was shelved due to lack of interest. It was bitterly disappointing and in my opinion, shamefully shortsighted.

Parents, wake up. Other developed nations are surpassing us at every level of education. Their children are more well-rounded, more intuitive, more able to compete in a global marketplace because they are provided with artistic, literary, musical and theatrical instruction as part of their everyday curriculum. If we don't take a page from their book, our kids will soon be absent from the pages of history.

If we cut physical education programs, our kids get fat. If we cut enrichment programs, our kids get flat. It's really very simple.

Find a way to bring the Arts back to our kids. Here's a good place to start:

"There is no must in Art, because Art is Free."

....Wassilly Kandinsky

(Yes, I got a bit long winded. Forgive me. It's one of my passions and it's important.)

Monday, March 20, 2006

A Mother's Prayer

Dear God,

When you gave him to me, I tried to be philosophical. Really, I did. I tried to believe that there was some reason I had been chosen to mother a "spirited" child. I mean...I know I got a little sanctimonious when the first one turned out to be so well-behaved and I'm sorry. I realize now that the credit lies with his easygoing nature, and not my superlative parenting skills as I might have implied once or twice...or, every time I saw my friend with the serial biter.

And I completely understand and accept that my patience level was not where it needed to be in order to parent such a resolute child. Worms in the pocket, matchbox cars in the toilet and grooming the cat with Fiskars were all valuable exercises in that regard. Thank You. I can honestly say that my patience with and tolerance for such behavior has increased tenfold. I could have done without finding him perched atop the play structure, but I realize it was for my own good.

So I have tried to be humble and accept that you are testing me, challenging me, encouraging me to find new and better ways of parenting with my second son, who has shattered every preconceived idea I had about myself and parenting in general. I have tried to appreciate that I was being given an opportunity to learn and grow.

But after nearly 8 years of doing it your way, I have to face the truth of the matter....

You're just messin' with me, aren't you?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Nigga By Any Other Name

Daman Wayans has been denied a patent on his "Nigga" clothing line, because the U.S Patent Office will not approve brand names that are disparaging, derogtary or prejudicial. Imagine that.

Mr. Wayans has been fighting this ruling for 14 months on the grounds that the Hip-Hop Culture has redefined the term. Living in a very racially diverse area, I understand that there is certain nomenclature that can be used with impunity within a given demographic group by members of that group. However, I am hard pressed to understand why a term that historically has been used to marginalize, subjugate, oppress and terrorize an entire race would then be adopted by that race as the vernacular of brotherhood. It just doesn't make sense to me.

I am a member of one minority group by virtue of my sex and there is plenty of offensive slanguage that has been applied to us through the ages. But I don't see any of them making a resurgence as some kind of uber hip pop-culture designation, unless you count that whole fat/phat thing.

Maybe I'm just not ancillary enough to understand taking ownership of a word to overcome its negative connotations. Maybe I should try owning Fat Honky Bitch. I'll use it to refer to all my PTA and Sports Mom and Coffee Klatch friends. I'll design a logo and wear it on a big silver chain around my neck. We will create a culture of acceptance, respect and solidarity for Fat Honky Bitches everywhere, but only those who belong to our ranks will have the privilege of using the term. We will consider everyone else who uses it ignorant and bigotted, especially minority women who are skinny and well-mannered. I'll even create a line of FHB clothing, and pretty soon, everyone will want to be have FHB emblazoned upon their posterior. It will be super cool and not even a little bit stupid or offensive.

On second thought, I think Mr. Wayans might be on to something. I think this could work if I can get it past the Patent Office. Otherwise, I'll have to call my clothing line Overweight Caucasion Shrew and that just doesn't pack the same punch.

Wow...decades of stereotyping and prejudice eradicated in just moments. Who knew? And why isn't everyone doing this? Somebody prepare a press release, this is gonna be BIG.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Women Are Crazy

I’ve been around the internet in some form or another since it began. My husband is an IT professional, so even when I was uninterested in using it myself, I was aware of it in a contemptuous, sneering sort of way. At that time, only computer geeks and gaming dorks used the internet.

At the risk of sounding like an aging dowager…I remember when you had to pay by the minute and you had to use a proxy service like AOL or Compu Serve. I also remember hitting the roof when I found my husband had racked up a $400 AOL bill playing a now antiquated, but then cutting edge RPG.

When the information superhighway exploded I was a young wife with a new infant who had quit her full time job to stay at home and care for my baby. Like everyone else, I was looking for something. I got on the net to find some way of connecting to people like those I had once encountered daily with no thought to their presence in my life, but whom I now missed dearly in my isolation.

What I found, were message boards. People talking to one another about anything and everything. Expecting Club boards, Playgroup Boards, Debate Boards, Recipe Boards, Book Club was a dizzyingly diverse array of people, opinions and knowledge. I was dazzled and immediately drawn in.

Now, many years later, the internet has evolved and with it, my perception of those who populate it.

What I have learned, is this: Women are crazy.

Now, I don’t mean dress your doggie up in evening clothes and serve him snausages at the table kind of crazy. I mean, Single White Female Crazy. Squeaky Frohm crazy. Munchausen By Proxy Crazy.

But I have also learned that for every mean, crazy, desperately unhappy woman out there, who needs to spread the misery, sorrow, and discontent that poisons her soul, there are TEN women of immeasurable kindness, incalculable generosity, inexhaustible strength, undying passion, and unceasing tenderness.

For every woman is who Texas Cheerleader Mom crazy…there are ten who are give the mortgage payment to a homeless family so they can have a Christmas kind of crazy. Drive 500 miles in the middle of the night because a friend found out her husband is cheating on her kind of crazy. Sell everything she owns to finance a trip to Africa to care for dying AIDS patients kind of crazy. Rent out her uterus to help an infertile couple have a much longed for child kind of crazy.

At times, it has been tempting to simply give myself over to the belief that all women are contemptible human beings. But there are women I have been privileged to know that have taught me that is not so and I thank them for reminding me that I have plenty of reasons to be proud of my gender.

So yeah. Women are crazy. Thank God.

Crazy Woman Canyon, Big Horn National Forest;
As beautiful and formidable as its many namesakes.

(This is a repost from the early days of my blog when only a handful of close friends knew of its existence and the meaning behind this piece. I can't help feeling that it is particularly apropros right now, and I am compelled to repost it. Forgive me for taking the lazy way out today.)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Dear Absentee Parent,

As a matter of fact, I did have something better to do. No, I wasn't going out anyway. I don't always have room for just one more. Yes, I do mind.

Furthermore, you owe me approximately $678.95 for the following:

  • All the times your kid came over after school because you were "stuck in traffic."

  • All the times I dragged him to practice because you were running late, or were "exhausted" from working all day.

  • All the times he bummed a ride to school when the bus didn't come and you had already left for work.

  • All the school holidays he spent here on a "playdate" so you didn't have to pay for childcare or ASP.

  • All the snacks and beverages he consumed on those occasions.

For the record, I am not a patsy or a nitwit. If you had just asked if he could stay here I probably would have said yes, because let's face it...I was going to be home anyway. But don't call me up and exclaim over how long its been since our boys got together, and then expect me to believe that the date you picked out of the air to reunite our long estranged children just happened to be a school holiday. This tactic is probably one to reserve for someone who does not live right accross the street.

Also, the ER story really does strain the boundaries of plausability, even for a simple minded housefrau like me. You might want to rethink your strategy the next time you need to go shopping, or at least try to act as if it is only through sheer strength of character and noble determination that you are able to drag yourself to the mall despite having just had your toe amputated.

Since you work on the other side of a city that rivals the 6th level of hell even on a good traffic day, I would like to suggest that you create a detailed contingency plan and go over it with your child, instead of just banking on me being home if something comes up. I may not have meetings or team builders or trade shows or sales calls, but sometimes I do venture out for food. In case you were unaware, the school provides after school care until 6 pm at a very reasonable cost. It's probably preferable for him to be there under competent supervision than home alone for four hours every day. Incidentally, you might want to check the history on his computer, as I'm pretty sure my kid learned about at your house. Just for clarification purposes, napping on the couch is not supervising.

And while we're on the topic, you should be aware that if you lock the doors and go to sleep when your child is playing outside one more time, I'm will be calling the police instead of letting him come in and play until you decide to arise. Consider that SOP for hair and nail appointments as well. While I understand the appeal of stealing away for a little pampering, it's not really something that CPS looks upon with favor unless you have first secured reliable care for your child. Bubblebath is much less costly than bail.

In closing I would like to include a friendly warning...the next time you arrive on my doorstep to reclaim your child and ask..."Why isn't his homework done?" I will open up a can of whupass on your Jimmy Choo wearing, Kate Spade carrying, Palm Pilot dependant self.


Patsy, er...Pre-pubescent One's Mom

Disclaimer #1: I realize there are many conscientious, responsible, organized and prepared working parents who balance their professional and parental responsibilities with complete competence. This piece is strictly an outlet for my frustration with several working parents in particular who are currently the bane of my existence. Thank You. I feel better.

Disclaimer #2: Yes, I changed the title. I realized it was unfair to imply that the shortcomings of the parents referred to in this piece were due to their working status, and that it was offensive to working parents in general, most of whom do an exemplary job of parenting irrespective of working status.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

An End to the Snobbery

I've decided to stop being a blog snob. As you may have guessed by the title of my blog, I started this endeavor thinking that clever, well written blogs with genuinely pertinent content would be a rare find. I determined only to feature those that were exceptional in their uniqueness and purpose on my blogroll. I titled that sidebar item "Not Stupid Blogs". know what? It's all stupid. Really. From wiretapping to poop issues to origami as a chosen profession; these little pieces of pertinent stupidity are what make up the lives, loves and lexicon of the human experience. And some people write about them with incredible wit, intelligence, poignancy and creativity. And while some are undeniably stultefying, there are those who manage to make the ordinary extraordinary and the tedium of everyday life entertaining and interesting simply through their telling of them.

I've created a new Sidebar Item Titled "Stupid But Cool" where I will feature blogs by those who, like me, are not trying to change the course of history, but maybe just make sense of such weighty issues as post pregnancy hirsutism, offspring who will only eat food that is "bouncy", how to approach one's spouse about the possibility of a three way with Chris Daughtry...and doing it with style.

These blogs are to the brain, what chocolate is to the tongue...pure unadulterated pleasure. I read them when I need an escape from all the heavy stuff that real life dishes out to us everyday. And there's not a damn thing wrong with that.

So check out my new blogroll. It's stupidly cool.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Intercourse Discourse

Despite being somewhat impoverished, my childhood was near idyllic in many ways. I grew up in that golden era when AIDS was yet unheard of, the only gangs to speak of had names like "The Rainbow Rollers", and Adam Walsh was just another anonymous American kid. We roamed free until dark, when we would straggle back home, dirty, exhausted and ravenous...but happy in that oblivious way that only kids can be. My parents were loving, vigilant, and wholly committed to giving us a good life and a stable home.

However...that carefree era was also the "we don't talk about that" era. As such, most of what I learned about sex came from my Dad's purloined Mickey Spillane novels and the schoolyard rumor mill. If I hadn't read Are you There God, It's Me Margaret I might have been convinced I was dying of some horrible, nameless "down there" disease when I began menstruating. But, thus informed, and armed with an "It's GREAT to be a Woman" starter kit that I got in the fifth grade, I ventured forth into womanhood with very little fanfare or acknowledgement other than the mysterious appearance of a box of Kotex in the bathroom cabinet.

When I began having sex at 17, I took myself down to Planned Parenthood and endured my first pelvic exam alone, scared to death my Mom would find out. Taboo subject that it was, I don't know how or why I had the presence of mind to procure some birth control, but I thank heaven that I did. I never told her, though part of me hoped desperately that she would somehow discover my secret, and we could talk about it at last. She never did.

When I had children of my own I vowed it would be different. I resolved to be open, honest and matter of fact with my kids about sex, and I resolved that they would always know they could talk to me about anything and everything.

That has proven to be easier said than done.

I tend to overthink things a bit, and the whole sex issue is no exception. From the time my oldest was an infant, I started planning what I would say and how. I ran through endless scenarios in my head. I practiced dialogue and feigning nonchalance. I was as prepared as I could be, and I was confident that when the time came, I would pull it off with aplomb. I would not choke. I would be as cool as a cucumber. I would.

Unfortunately, no amount of preparation can innoculate you against the shock of your piercingly innocent 7 year old child asking out of a clear blue sky..."So Mom...what IS sex anyway?" Everything I had rehearsed fled from my brain in a torrent of panic and denial, and I said something like...."Yurg."

Mercifully, I was able to gather my wits about me and make a pretty convincing show of being perfectly at ease while we discussed the basics of intercourse and insemination. Yurg indeed.

Fast forward a couple years, and I've got this down pat. I've covered just about everything there is to cover, except for nocturnal emissions, which I'm leaving to the parent who has actually experienced this phenomenon. I figure we've got a little time yet anyway, though I'm sure it will sneak up on us the way that first winsome inquiry did. I expect to be sniffing sheets before too long. So, thinking myself quite progressive and experienced, I relaxed a bit and did not worry quite so much about the inevitable moment when my younger child seeks enlightenment.

And still I was caught completely off gaurd.

In the van on the way home from a baseball game last evening, the talk was all about batting averages, RBIs and optically challenged umpires. Suddenly, with no warning whatsoever, my sweet blue eyed diminutive one decided the time was right to start laying the groundwork for some intercourse discourse.

"Hey Mom, I heard some ladies get their stomach cut open to get the baby out."

"Ummmm...(don't say Yurg, don't say Yurg)...yes, that's true. It's called a C-section."

"Does it hurt?"

"Yes, I imagine it does."

"You don't know?"

"No, I didn't have a C-section, honey."

"Well then how did I get out?"


"You came out my vagina."

Stunned silence ensued. I bit my lips to keep from filling the chasm with gory details he might not yet want or need. Many moments passed. My husband and I looked at one other, blinking and bemused, while the pre-pubescent one snickered at the word "vagina". Finally he spoke.

"I sure wish I didn't ask that."

Me to buddy, me too. More silence, and then...

"I'm glad I'm not a girl."

Me too buddy. Meeeeeeeeeeee too.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


(WARNING: Movie spoiler "The Notebook"; bottom of post)

"Mawage is what brings us"

I have been married for 13 years. I know this is not as impressive as say, 40 years of wedded bliss, but in this day and age, it's an increasingly rare accomplishment. So I'm proud, but I'm also puzzled. Why did we make it this far when so many don't?

It's clear from reading some blogs, that there are those who consider their marriage a necessary evil; an institution to be endured until such time as their parental obligation to provide a stable two parent family is fulfilled. It's clear that many people feel trapped, unloved, unappreciated. For them I wish I had some sage advice. I wish I had some prescription for fixing what's wrong. But I don't. And I don't really know what we've done right, if anything at all.

My mother predicted several times that our marriage would fail. First because I moved in with him after one date and three weeks of phone conversation. You laugh, but for someone who had previously been in a relationship based mostly upon my willingness to sit through one sporting event after another, during which of course, conversation was strongly discouraged, and communication took the form of paleolithic grunts and gestures, intelligent discourse can be damn near erotic. The first time he demonstrated the capacity for abstract thought, the earth moved for me. Nevertheless, my mother worried that he could be some kind of sexual deviant or homicidal maniac. I suppose he certainly could have been, but I was not in a hurry to condemn someone who moved like he did on the dance floor. You know what they say about men who can dance. It's true.

Still, neither of those things are that upon which one can base a successful marriage. And, truth be told, I did not enter into a living arrangement with him with any intention to marry. Rather, it was a not unpleasant way to extricate myself from my current living situation which had become unpleasant and nigh unto unbearable due to the volatile relationship between my roommate and her significant other. I had become so accomstomed to being awakened by the sound of breaking glass and shouted obscenities that I often just yawned and rolled over. The one time I did venture out to inquire as to her safety, I was greeted with a resentful glare from her and silent, but smoldering malevolence from him. Gee, you're welcome. No really, I habitually wake at 3:30 am anyway.

Too many mornings I would stumble from bed barely conscious after enduring the maelstrom well into the wee hours. My work and my appearance began to suffer. I had dark circles that no amount of concealer could cover. I grew exceedingly weary of the drama, but since the house we rented jointly belonged to her mother, I couldn't ask her to leave. You can see why shacking up with a potential serial killer was the more attractive option. The day he showed up with a borrowed pick-up and declared "You're coming with me. Tonight." I not only didn't resist, I was swept away by his masterful gallantry.

So I moved in with him and six months later, on Valentine's Day, he proposed. I think every young unmarried woman has fantasized about how she would one day be proposed to on bended knee. This proposal was all that and more. It was romantic, and clever, and completely unexpected. I wept, and I eagerly accepted, having determined round about the third month of co-habitation that I had somehow managed to stumble onto a really terriffic guy. Six months after that, we married, and eighteen months later we became parents. Another factor in my decision to keep him was that his eyes didn't glaze over when I mentioned that I wanted children. Six children, no less. He didn't flinch even a little.

Suddenly, thirteen years have passed and a mere two children are growing impossibly fast. And I can only say that I don't know when we would have had time to get divorced. Marriage isn't easy, nor is raising children, and I'm sure we both had moments where we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. But those moments were fleeting, and quickly swallowed up the joy, the responsiblity, and the incredible busyness of our life together. We simply didn't have time to stay mad at each other. A sick baby, a seemingly impossibly tight budget, job stress...these were times that drew us together in desperate unity rather than driving us apart. We sought comfort from one another rather somewhere to lay blame.

We have a strong relationship, but like any other married couple, we have our issues. However, they seem to be mostly of the sort that after good night's sleep and the fresh perspective that comes with the dawn of a new day, don't seem worth the time or effort it takes to sustain a prolonged argument. Neither of us is the type for whom an admission of wrongdoing or oversensitivity is fundamentally compromising or discommodious. And often, there isn't even a spoken truce, just a smile and kiss, which we've both come to recognize and accept as the implict "I'm sorry I was an ass/bitch."

So, despite our haste, it turns out we're a well-matched pair. He is patient where I am a high strung. He is blythe and easygoing where I am a worrier. He pays the bills because I have no head for numbers...I keep house and manage our schedule of endless obligations because he is not an organizer. He is a fun loving Dad, I am a somewhat reserved Mom. He keeps me from being too serious, I make him act like a grown-up sometimes. He helps the offspring with Math, Science, and Technology. I am pretty useful with English, History, and Social Studies. Yes, he drives me completely nuts sometimes, and I him, but we truly like and respect one another. I consider him my best friend. I miss him when he's gone. I seek his advice when I have a problem.

I occasionally fantasize about Vin Diesel (I know, he's not the brightest paint in the pallette, but I don't want to converse with the man) and I know of a couple actresses that strike my husband's fancy. I think his current is Andie McDowell. Not a bad choice really. But I wonder if the brawny Mr. Diesel would sit up all night with a sick baby so I could get some sleep. I wonder if he would bring me ice-packs and keep the kids outside all day when I have a migraine. I wonder if he would possess the uncanny awareness of exactly when I have reached my whining saturation point and suggest with just the right amount of concern and not even a hint of accusation, that perhaps I might like an afternoon by myself and not to worry about how much I spend.

I would like to think that the success of our marriage is due to hard work and committment, and some preternatural understanding of marital dynamics. I would like to say that I made exceptionally good choices in my quest for a life partner and to be fair, there were certain prerequisites that I adhered to. But really, I think we have just been extremely lucky. No job loss, no family tragedy, no ruinous financial woes, no betrayal. We have never really been tested as so many couples are. And yet, after thirteen years I have to think we have what it takes to weather such a storm. I suppose time will tell.

So here's to another thirteen years. I may have to reevaluate when we become empty nesters. The discovery that one cannot stand one's spouse after the children have departed seems quite common. But somehow I doubt that will happen. I think we'll be sunning ourselves on some Meditarranean nudist beach, letting it all hang out, blind to the wrinkles and the flab, and planning our next post-parental, mid-lfe adventure. I can't wait.

If you've seen the movie "The Notebook"...that's how I picture things ending...

...If our luck holds.

(Dedicated to my wonderful husband, who has done more than his share of repenting)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Mom Incoming

They say confession is good for the soul, so here's mine: I stand outside restroom doors and listen while my male children are inside. If they take too long, I open the door a smidge and call their names. If they don't respond, I knock loudly on the door and yell "MOM INCOMING!!" and go in. I've surprised more than one poor guy, and I honestly hope I didn't cause a raging bladder infection or unfortunate zipper trauma. I sincerely apologize for any injury or embarassment I may have caused.

This is a bit of a quandry for parents with opposite sex children, and I can't really think of a better way to handle the situation.

Until recently, I made them come in the women's restroom with me. My younger one probably still would, but my oldest child, who is perilously close to puberty, would rather wear lacy pink pantaloons to school than enter a women's restroom. I can't blame the kid. He's at that age when a Victoria's Secret commercial on the television makes him turn eight shades of red; I doubt he could survive the embarassment of hearing a woman tinkle...or...god forbid...pinch a loaf. That's courtesy of my increasingly enlightened firstborn. Eloquent, isn't it?

So, sensitive though I am to his issues, I can't shake my fear of what or whom might be lurking in a public restroom waiting for a hapless child to wander in. When my firstborn was just a few months old, there was a news story about a child who was raped and murdered in a park restroom while his family picnicked nearby. I was horrified and sickened and thought about it endlessly for weeks. It was the first time that I really understood that there was more to keeping my child alive than making sure he was well fed, up to date on his vaccinations, and prevented from sticking pointy metal objects into electrical outlets. I not only had to be on gaurd against my own bumbling ineptitude, but the malevolence of others as well.

My husband, as he often does, thinks I am borrowing trouble. I counter by reminding him of that time I stole the baby from him to prove a point. He is a wonderful father; loving, playful, patient, and involved. But I don't think men have the same nose for danger that women do. We can smell it, taste it...feel it in our guts. And I think we are all to aware that the guilt would destroy us if our children were to be harmed through some fault of ours, either directly, or because we ignored that feeling that something was very wrong, and dismissed it as being "overprotective".

So that's my compromise. Mom Incoming. Guys, I hope you understand, and I swear to you, at my age, a penis is a penis. Unless, of course, it exceeds the normal length/girth expectations, in which case, I reserve the right to gape openly.

(Post Script: Apologies for the rather banal offering today. I realize it isn't up to my usual standards. Mommy brain strikes even the most querolous bloggers, I guess.)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I know I'm a day late, but I had bigger fish to fry. Now that I've had time to consume all the post-Oscar snarkiness being bandied about the blogosphere (the bow really wasn't *that* bad) and turn everything over in my mind, I'm really quite convinced that the Academy has lost their collective mind.

"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp"?? Seriously?

I guess I have been laboring under the false assumption that good music... particularly music good enough to win an Academny award... is that which inspires, touches, uplifts, and speaks to its listeners. Its music that puts a lump in your throat, a song in your heart, or a spring in your step. It makes you want to jump to your feet and move your body, it makes you want to sing at the top of your lungs. It's mustic that is so amazingly, perfectly, universally MOVING that people are compelled to listen to it over and over again.

I could have gone my whole life without hearing this song and been none the worse for it. Further, having heard it, I am in fact, the worse for it, as anyone who has the misfortune to be subjected to violent, misogynistic rantings shouted discordantly at bone jarring decibels in time to a ridiculously rudimentary and bombastic "melody", is sure to be.

One cannot even argue for its merit based on important social commentary, unless one considers illuninating the plight of the modern day pimp "important"; poor misunderstood parasite that he is. There is simply nothing of value or relevance in this song. It is merely a vehicle for spreading hatred and scorn, and a clumsy one at that. There is nothing uplifting or inspiring about and individual who rises above by subjugating and exploiting those weaker than him. Its revolting and wrong, and the Academy should be ashamed.

But you know...maybe I just don't get the whole genre. Maybe I don't understand the beauty inherent to a culture of violence. Maybe I don't appreciate the raw poetry of pimp life. That's entirely possible, considering that I'm a white, middle class female who has never turned tricks. (That one time in college doesn't count..that was a gratuity, not a fee.) So maybe it's just me.

Nevertheless...I will not worry about my lack of social conscience in ignoring the plight of the modern day pimp. I'll play my Carpenters with unabashed enthusiasm, and I will happily Sing Sing a Song.

Now there's a tune, dammit.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

God is Watching Us

I'm dating myself with this admission, but I love Bette Midler. I thought she was brilliant in "The Rose", and the title track is still one of my favorite songs of all time. So today, while sorting through various and sundry towers of useless, but apparently once very important junk that has managed to amass in my garage, I was thrilled when I came acrross a Bette Midler Greatest Hits CD.

There is simply nothing better than finding unexpected treasure in the midst of a dreary and thankless task. Once, while cleaning vomit from every surface within a 4 foot radius of the toilet in the boys' bathroom, I found a pearl stud I had been missing for years. The CD made me almost as happy.

I gladly left the gloomy insect ridden garage and went in search of the CD player, marvelling that these space aged little disks are now becoming passe, and trying to forget that I was alive for the advent of the cassette tape. I finally found it in the closet of the spare bedroom, covered in paint spatters from our last home improvement project. Stupidly, I felt a moment of pity for this poor outdated piece of technology. I was once cutting edge too.

With nostalgic expectation, I put it in and skipped straight to "The Rose". I was instantly transported back to 1979. I remember singing this song into a coke bottle, tears pouring down my face in the throes of hormonal teenage turmoil. I didn't understand the damn song anymore than anybody else did, but it kicked me in the gut and doubled me over with emotion. Now it takes significantly more wine and significantly less poetry to affect a similar response. Pity. Those crying jags were cathartic if a bit melodramatic. My poor father.

I half listened to the rest of the CD. All good tunes, but not ones that resonated as much with me. Until...."From A Distance".

From a distance, the world looks blue and green
and the snow-capped mountains white.
From a distance the ocean meets the stream
and the eagle takes to flight.
From a distance there is harmony
and it echoes through the land.
It's the voice of hope, it's the voice of peace,
it's the voice of every man.
From a distance, we all have enough
And no one is in need.
There are no guns, no bombs, no diseases,
No hungry mouths to feed.
From a distance we are instruments
Marching in a common band
Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace
They're the songs of every man.

God is watching us
God is watching us
God is watching us from a distance.

From a distance, you look like my friend
Even though we are at war.
From a distance I cannot comprehend
What all the fighting is for.
From a distance there is harmony
And it echoes through the land.
It's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves.
It's the heart of every man.

God is watching us
God is watching us
God is watching us from a distance.

Now, to say my religious beliefs are ambiguous would be a huge understatment, and yet, I'm not quite ready to pin a scarlet A to my breast. What if God *is* watching us?

I think he would think that we have royally screwed things up. I think he would be pissed that people are killing one another in his name. I think he would be pissed that people are using religion to justify hatred and deny people the right to love, live and worship how they choose. I think he would sorrowful beyond measure that people calling themselves Christians are perpetrating grave injustices on their fellow man and using their state of grace as a failsafe; like some kind of divine trump card.

And yet...I think he would still find plenty of reasons to rejoice in his creation and celebrate what mankind has wrought. Like...a Bette Midler CD. I think God could groove to some Bette.

Cynicism and Hope make strange bedfellows.

What is my point? Christians would have you believe that even the most righteous man will suffer the fiery torment of hell if he is not saved, but I like to think of God as a fair man. So what I think is...people who are generally good, and kind, and honest and fair, will be cut some slack, while those who spend their time in malignant, petty and destructive pursuits will be roasted over a spit while Satan licks their toes in anticipation.

I am not a theologian, but I am an optimist. Sometimes.

(Dedicated to Christian bloggers who specialize in hellfire and brimstone. Quit telling folks they're going to hell. It's depressing as, well...hell. I won't bother with suggesting repentance since you're already "saved.")

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Crazy? Undoubtedly. Hip? Debateable.

Mom? Unequivocally.

So, I have to be perfectly honest. I usually loathe these kinds of group exercises. They've always struck me as contrived and disingenuous, and I don't like the one upmanship of competitive creativity. Creativity is so subjective, and unique, and personal, that measuring it by some arbitrary yardstick of acceptability seems almost profane. And, forgive me dear Crazy Hip Blog Mamas, but I found the topic this week to be well...a little trite.

However, I am compelled to participate becase I have been welcomed by the CHBMs with kindness, grace, and largess that is difficult if not impossible to find in the dog eat dog world of women's internet groups, despite the fact that I have only belonged for a week.

I have spent a little time perusing the CHBM blogs. Have I found some irreverence? Sure. Have I found some pugnacity? MMMhmm. Have I found some delightfully witty ascerbity? You bet. But what I have not found is the kind of backbiting, mudslinging and vituperation that one often finds when women congregate without benefit of any kind of moral compass or law enforcement.

What I have found is unqualified encouragement, support and praise. I have found incredibly touching slice of life commentary, astoundingly insightful musings, and wonderfully erudite repartee.

In short, this is one cool group of chicks. And they didn't ask me for a urine sample, or a sekrit handshake, or a small tax deductible donation before letting me join their esteemed ranks. They hung out the welcome sign and then...welcomed me.

What does this mean to me? Well, to understand that, you have to understand where I'm coming from. It's a long, unpretty story, with which I will not burden readers. But to find a group of women so open, and friendly, and sincere, is like finding a soft place to land after you've jumped off a bridge. To say it's a pleasant surprise would be an understatement of monumental proportions.

Thank You Crazy Hip Blog Mamas.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Meaning of Life

I took my kids to baseball practice tonight. YAWN, right? I hear ya.

On good days, this is something that I view as just another item on my maternal to-do list. Its something a "good" mom does. Breastfeeding. Check. Vitamins. Check. Yearly check-ups. Check. Absurdly over the top birthday parties. Check. Reading aloud every night. Check. Clean underwear. Check. PTA. Check. Requisite sporting activites. Check.

On the bad days, it is an imposition and a hassle, and I grudgingly shuttle them back and forth with ill concealed irritation, list be damned. But in either instance, I am smugly assured that I am doing all the "right" things.

These things are commonplace, mundane. Boring, even. Their place in my life has become so presupposed and habitual, that I forget to see them for what they are; all too fleeting moments of being the most important person in my kids' lives. Its a monumental privilege, which is hard to remember when they've driven me to lock myself in the bathroom with a novel and a pound of peanut butter fudge. But will be over so soon.

I've had cause to be particularly contemplative lately. Some of you reading this know why. So tonight, I found myself really looking at my kids; all the kids. I saw dirt streaked faces, gap toothed grins, and freckled noses. I saw holey kneed britches that some mom would be shaking her head over later. I saw an honest to goodness slingshot hanging from some kid's back pocket. I thought they outlawed those in 1978. I saw one kid do a puppy dog dance, backend wiggling with glee when his bat finally connected with the ball. The coach high fived him, and the grin on that kid's face lit up the quickly approaching night.

I saw one Mom on the sidelines biting her lips to keep from calling out a word of warning to her disabled child as he struggled to do what the others did so effortlessly. I saw one kid carefully gauge how hard he could throw to his disabled teammate, conscious of hurting him; not wanting to embarass him. And I saw the other kids congratulate him in earnest when he did well. I saw my own son looking to see if I had been watching when he made a good play, and then giving me a return thumb's up and a self-satisfied nod. I saw siblings roughousing on the sidelines, giggling and shouting, jumping and skipping...achingly joyous and carefree.

We all have those "what the hell am I doing" moments right? What's it all about? What's it all for?

Later, as they munched their snack in happy, exhausted contentment, I was struck by the utter goodness of what was before me. And it hit me...There is no big mystery, there is no profound truth. It's all right here in front of me right now. This is what its all about. These kids are happy. They will grow up knowing they are somebody's sun and moon. They will bloom because they had everything they needed to nourish them heart and soul. They will know, now and forever, that they can do anything. And one day, they will not need me anymore...if I've done everything right. Self-confidence. Check. Autonomy. Check.

I have been given a very short time in which I get to play the female lead in the lives of my boys. One day very soon it will be that cute girl with the dimples who sits next to him in class. Then it will be the one that takes his virginity, the one that bears him a child, the one with whom he chooses to grow old. My time is almost up, and I intend to make every moment count. Because it isn't about who worships whom, who loves whom, who elects whom, who hates whom and for what reason. Its about giving the world a happy and whole individual and knowing I did a good job.

Serial Killer avoidance protocol. Check.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


"Breast Enhancement"

Webster's says that to enhance is to "to make greater in value, beauty, or effectiveness" or "an improvement that makes something more agreeable".

Now, I'm sure there are any number of men out there who will certainly disagree with me, but frankly, I don't think that stuffing ridiculously bulbous bags of saline or silicone into one's mammary cavity makes them more agreeable, or beautiful, though I certainly can't argue about them being more valuable. Big gazongas are big business these days. Crafting them and exploiting them have engendered an entirely new component of the Capitalist paradigm. Who needs oil for food, when you can have boobs for cash? I think it would be a close race when assessing which is the more profitable enterprise. Dr. 90210, the pervy creep, probably pulls down a salary several times that of our President.

Now, I would be lying if I said I hadn't dreamed of once again having gravity defying breasts, free of stretch marks, and topped with pert, rosy hued nipples that have obviously not been used as an infant chew toy and pumped to the very limits of their elasticity in an effort to gain more than 12 minutes away from said infant. Yes, I've gazed upon my chest with wistfulness, remembering the days when I could walk about unfettered without danger of being thrown off balance. I have coveted nipples that point straight ahead, rather than than being cast forlornly downward, eternally vigilant of untied laces and abc gum.

And yet, for all my longing, I have not gone under the knife.

Why? Because I've realized that it is only my own breasts that I view with such critical eye. I find the natural breasts of other women perfectly lovely, and in fact, much more pleasing than the bloated, monolithic mounds that pornstars and pollyannas alike are having bolted on these days. For all their supposed superiority, they always manage to look slightly alien and decidedly uninviting. I simply can't imagine cradling a small head against an unyielding breast.

We have allowed ourselves to be convinced of an unrealistic standard of beauty; one which exploits our already substantial insecurities by convincing us that only perfectly firm, youthful bodies and faces are acceptable. They offer us a plethora of creams, potions, and panaceas to "fix" that which nature has bestowed upon us. They endeavor to make us all into cookie cutter caricatures of womanhood; buxom, pouty lipped and perpetually pubescent.

Screw that. Webster's will be hearing from me.

Dear Sirs,

I submit that the term "Breast enhancement" is an egregious and misleading misnomer. I would like to respectfully request that the term be revised as follows:

"Breast Defilement"

I introduce the following as further proof that what is being perpetrated upon women is certainly not an "enhancement" of any kind.

In a word...Ick.

Thank you for your kind consideration.

Sincerely Yours,
Breast, I mean, Blog Antagonist