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, April 28, 2006

Wet Blanket Reform

Against my better judgement, I have allowed my 11 year old son to spend his birthday money on an airsoft gun. An airsoft gun is sort of like a BB gun, but less powerful, and it shoots plastic pellets instead of metal BB's.

Before you pronounce judgement on me, you have to realize that I am the quintissential wet blanket Mom. I have put the kibosh on many activities that other cooler Moms have blithely permitted. In our parental version of Good Cop Bad Cop, I am always the guy in the bad polyester suit with the combover and B.O. who chainsmokes and has been put on desk duty several times pending investigation of suspicious circumstances surrounding the "accidental" shooting of a perp. I have heard "But MOM...everybody ELSE gets to go/do it/have one!" approximately seventeen thousand and three times. I have endured the withering disapproval of family members, acquaintances and various Athletic personages for not allowing either son to participate in a certain sport (rhymes with mootball) despite rabid assertions that they were "born" to play the game.

My husband and I often argue about discuss the fact that I am an overprotective ninny and he is an overgrown adolescent. Between the two of us, we usually manage to arrive at a reasonable compromise that allows our children to have fun without putting them at risk for life threatenting injury. But despite my inclination to swathe them from head to toe in bubble wrap, I am painfully aware that I can't prevent them from ever getting hurt. And while I do want to teach them to make good decisions regarding safety, I don't want to raise children who are too fearful to live life with relish and enthusiasm.

Like most mothers, I have my sticking points; hot button issues that I am unwilling to compromise on. But there have also been instances where I changed my mind about issues I initially vetoed on pure instinct. I allowed my children to have a trampoline, razor scooters, and a swingset. Yes, I know. But as risk assessment impresario here at B.A. Inc., I am required to do exhaustive research. After weighing the information, I felt the risks could be mitigated by close supervision, strict safety protocol, and proper protective gear. I can't help but feel somewhat validated, since thus far, we have had no serious injuries resulting from the use or misuse of the aforementioned.

As you may have guessed, ff...mootball is one of my sticking points. Another one is guns. I have no philosophical opposition to guns. I grew up in a culture where hunting was widely practiced and accepted. We were taught to respect guns and nobody, but nobody was ever allowed to handle a gun without thorough education and instruction. They were just a part of life, no more or less villainous than a kitchen knife.

But I didn't and don't feel that even a comparatively meek little gun belongs in the hands of a child who lacks the maturity and the experience to make good decisions about it's use. Even a plastic pellet can put somebody's eye out if shot at point blank range. And though one would think that an 11 year old should know that shooting someone at point blank range with a BB gun is a very bad idea, my sister in law, who lost the tip of a finger trying to protect the family cat from my jejune pre-husband, would argue that is not always necessarily the case.

So as we stood in the pseudo gun section of Dick's (snicker) Sporting Goods, perusing the paintball, air soft and BB Guns, and the vast assortment of accoutrements, I was prepared to be firm even though I was the lone dissenter. Oh sure, my husband gave his token support, but even the boys knew it was a pretense. They knew that we were only a nominally united front, and thus, more easily defeated. Truth be told, hubby was reliving his own adolescent war fantasies and drooling just as copiously over the realistic looking weaponry. I don't pretend to understand these hyper-masculine vagaries, but I have to assume they are a remnant of our hunter gatherer origins. And modern Man has few, if any outlets for indulging the latent barbarism that is the progenitor of today's road rage, so I suppose such tendencies are to be expected and even forgiven.

My son became deeply engaged in conversation with another boy of a similar age. They discussed the pro and cons of various models and evaluated them by degrees of coolness; coolness apparently being defined by both visual and functional realism. They talked about their shared humiliation at being absolutely the only kid in their respective peer groups who did not possess one. And in hushed tones they lamented how their MOTHER (eyes rolling, I'm sure) wouldn't let them have one. Then my son said,

"Actually, my Mom is thinking about it."

There was a moment of silence, and then the other child responded with reverence,


I could hear the pride in my son's voice as he said,

"I know."

Suddenly, I wanted to say YES. I wanted him to have that moment of glorious supremacy. I wanted him to have the acceptance that comes with having what everybody else has, even though I know that it's a completely shallow and self-perpetuating construct. I wanted just once to not be the Killjoy. The Wet Blanket. The Bad Guy. The Voice of Reason. The Party Pooper. The Spoilsport.

You know where this is going, right?

As my son walked through the stadium sized store with the gun under his arm, followed by husband and me who were loaded down with a helmet, chest protector, target and two gallon sized jars of camo colored plastic pellets, he drew admiring and envious glances. He beamed. He swaggered. He exuded the confidence that comes from knowing one is, if only for a fleeting moment, hot shit.

So I have placed a weapon of destruction in the hands of my 11 year old child for completely selfish reasons.

Jesus. I hope nobody puts an eye out.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes

I never understood everything that my parents went through raising my sisters and me, until I became a mother myself. So I've never really expected any kind of real appreciation or validation from my boys until they are older. Instead, I daydream about the day when they come to me, humbled and contrite, lamenting how they took me for granted, singing my praises and lauding my wisdom. Hey...a gal's gotta have a dream, right?

Recently, my youngest who is almost 8, has been uncharacteristically industrious, due to the fact that he absolutely must have this item, which costs $99:

We are a one income family, and while my husband earns a good living, we are not affluent to the point of dropping a hundred bucks on Legos unless it's a major gift giving holiday. Also, there's a good chance that in three months, Star Wars and Legos will be abruptly be deemed exceedingly uncool. My oldest child has been through so many toy crazes that our garage resembles the toy department at Goodwill; a vast graveyard of unwanted playthings.

Rescue Heroes? Got all 372 action figures, every vehicle, BOTH Command Centers and the URV. They are all in a jumbled heap in the garage, forgotten and forlorn, just waiting with eery inanimate hope for the distress call to be sounded one more time. Ditto with Thomas the Tank Engine, although he and his compatriots did enjoy an unusually long reign.

Therefore, they are usually required to purchase such items themselves. I know. I am the meanest mother on the face of the planet, a fact that has been brought to my attention more than once, usually when a friend has been given some extravagant gift for no apparent reason at all. This happens quite often, because although we ourselves are not particularly affluent, we do live in an affluent area, that is profuse with McMansions and swarming with Mammoth SUV's, Hummers, and luxury sedans.

My older son recently decided he must own a pair of custom made Nike Shoxx, complete with his name on the heel. The pricetag? $120. This child is growing at a rate that leaves me scrambling to keep him clothed, and I'm sure not spending $120 dollars on shoes that he will outgrow in a month. So he decided to save his money and buy them himself. A Shoxx wearing friend, upon hearing of this, commented with incredulity,

"Dude...don't your parents buy your shoes? That's just wrong man."

Not a surprising attitude, since said child received a $700 electric scooter for Christmas. The same kid, when invited to spend the night, was only over for an hour before asking if they could go to his house instead. The request was prompted by the fact that my son did not have his own computer, game system, or television. Apparently, sharing with other family members, namely, Diminutive One, seriously cramped his style.

He got the Shoxx. He scrimped and saved, and did without for many months. And when he at last he had enough to order the Shoxx, he was bursting with pride. He took care of those shoes like I have never seen him take care of anything, including Cat. Makes sense, I suppose, since he doesn't pay to feed Cat or patch him up when he (invariably) gets injured in a fight. I bet if he had to fork over $1200 for a vet bill, he would make sure the litter box was clean and remember to give Cat fresh water every now and then. Hmmmmm.

But I digress.

So, Diminutive One has been busting his little behind to earn money, taking on extra chores, and bargaining wages for every single task he can think of. He even offered to take on his brother's chores, with the stipulation that brother fork over an appropriate percentage of his allowance. The offer was rejected and so Diminutive One found himself once again on the prowl for gainful employment.

Yesterday while I was working out he came to me to discuss a fair wage for cleaning the downstairs bathroom. He knows I am likely to agree to just about anything when I am struggling for breath and dripping with sweat; arduously focused on getting through the workout without bursting an artery.

"Mom. I'm going to clean the bathroom. Will you give me $2?"

"Well, (pant) the bathroom isn't really (puff, step, puff) dirty (pant) Diminutive One."

"Yes, it is. You know we can't hit that toilet to save our lives."

"Okay, (pant, step step, pant) clean it."

"For $2? Or maybe $3? Bathrooms are worth $3."

"Yes, fine. (puff, puff, step) $3."

So he cleaned the bathroom, and to my surprise, he did a pretty darned good job. It was worth the $3, because they really can't hit the toilet to save their lives. I just don't get it. And I want to know what moron decided that men should pee standing up. But that's another post altogether.

I had finished exercising and the post workout Dasani I guzzled was kicking in. I opened the door to the bathroom only to encounter the baleful glare of diminutive one.

"What are you doing?" He demanded.

"I have to pee." I said, trying not to giggle at his furious scowl.

He heaved a very large sigh and said,

"Well, make sure you flush the toilet. I just cleaned it."

I looked at him and he looked at me. It took a moment to register, but the realization brought a blush to his freckled cheeks and embarassed smirk to his lips. He slapped his forehead dramatically and slumped out of the bathroom. Shaking his head he said,

"Just don't say it Mom. I get it."

I didn't say it. But as I sat upon on the sparkling porcelain, I reflected that sometimes, dreams really do come true.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The One Where I Get All Preachy

SIGH. I wasn't going to enter the Mommy Wars fray. I've been there before and I've always emerged battered and bloody. What's more, I don't think I've ever engaged in a debate or a discussion of this nature where there was a clear victor. Why? Because there is no right way to parent. There is no right answer for any one of the multitude of parenting dilemmas. If there was, it would make things a whole fuck of a lot easier, and we wouldn't have to verbally bludgeon each other when our approaches to parenting issues diverge. We wouldn't have to work so hard to villify and invalidate each other to soothe our own insecurities.

The reason there is no one answer or any right way is because children are not built on an assembly line according to a list of factory specs. There is no quality control. And we do not get to shop for a model that best suits our character, meets our needs, and lives up to our standards. Each and every child is wonderfully and wholly individual; utterly unlike any other being on the planet. What. A. Miraculous. Thing. And how lucky we are to have such a wide variety of parenting philosophies, beliefs, information and techniques at our disposal to aid us in the daunting task of raising those miracles to adulthood. Applying one parenting method or strategy to all children is a little like making every woman wear size 6 jeans. It leaves the party in question uncomfortable and demoralized.

When I had one very well behaved and complacent child, I had a lot of opinions about those who weren't. Naturally, it was because they were being raised wrong. Wrong being, unlike mine. I made much of issues that only a small percentage of the American collective acknowledged or cared about. I said a lot of I'll nevers, and no child of mines. They were words I was forced to eat, along with a heaping helping of well done crow and several slices of humble pie when I was given a child who was not well-behaved, was not complacent, and who challenged every single parenting ideal I posessed. I was knocked off of my high horse and then trampled by it.

And in the end, the only thing that mattered to me was keeping him alive, and raising him into an autonomous human being without one or both of us being maimed or rendered completely insane. In other words, I learned that sometimes, you just do what you have to do, philosophy be damned.

I learned, through much of the well meaning but completely naive advice that was freely given by friends and strangers alike, that nobody else knows what is best for my child. I learned that my own instincts are usually the right ones and to trust them. Though I am usually about the last person on earth you will find quoting or endorsing scripture, I learned what Jesus meant when he said "Judge not lest ye be judged." And I learned that "disagree" does not have to be synonymous with "disrespect".

I'm not perfect by a longshot, and I don't have all the answers. But I've been a parent for 11 years now, and what I do have is some perspective. And I can tell you that in ten years, what you fed your child, how you disciplined your child, how you sleep trained your child (or didn't), how you potty trained your child (or didn't) and whether you put them in daycare or stayed at home, doesn't matter even a fraction as much as how much you loved them, nurtured them and believed in them. What you put in a child's belly isn't half so nourishing as what you put into their psyche. What you put on a child's bottom isn't half so absorbent as that child's amazing little brain. And there is no confusion over who is the Mommy, regardless of where she goes to work. I promise.

It seems especially sad and pointless then, that we are dividing ourselves into warring factions over these issues; judging, maligning, shaming and belittling. It's so hard to be a Mom. Why do we need to make it harder for one another? Did Margaret Sanger, Elizabeth Stady Canton, Susan B. Anthony and Bella Abzug work so tirelessly to gain women the rights and privileges they deserved only to have us turn on one another? I think not. In fact, I think they would be pretty peeved by the way womankind has cast aside the unity they labored so long and hard to achieve for the sake of petty one upmanship.

We can do better, ladies.

Because despite my current state of disheartenment, I do believe in the power of women. I believe in the indomitable spirit of Motherhood. Alone we are formidable, together we are invincible. Let's come together and kick some ass that is truly deserving. Famine, poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, mysogyny, tyranny, opression, racism, genocide, ethnicide...all of these could be instantly eradicated if we put half as much energy into fighting them as we do fighting each other.

So, who's with me? I want to see a lot of damn hands waving in the air.

Monday, April 24, 2006


This is a completely mundane post about a completely mundane thing. Hair.

I have this problem with my hair. It is super duper straight and super duper thick. I know people think this is a good thing, but my hair will do nothing. Forget those cute little flippy styles, or those volume infused layered confections a la Rachel Green. Nope. My hair just won't hold a style. Every time I have attempted to have an honest to goodness hairstyle, I ended up blowing and curling and volumizing and backcombing and spraying for so long my arms ached, only to have the damn thing fall flat two seconds after I left the bathroom. Then I wore a hat for three months until it grew out enough to pull back.

When I was a teenager, I used to spend HOURS getting my hair to look just so. I had this sort of Pat Benatar thing going on, and it required a lot of construction. But I just don't have the time or the energy to devote to hair anymore, and in a houseful of boys, there isn't much patience for primping. Not to mention, I spend most of the spring, summer and fall at the ballfield, with a cap on, so what's the point?

So now I am stuck in this self-perpetuating cycle that I am desperate to break out of. I get it cut it in a basic bob. Then, I let it grow until about the only thing I can do to keep the stuff out of my eyes and off my neck is twist it up in a clip. I live with it for a few months, and then I decide something must be done with the 4 ton pile of hair on my head, and I begin to buy every hair magazine available for about a month. I pore over them. I bookmark styles. I agonize. I choose. I make an appointment. And I chicken out and get my hair cut in a basic bob. Repeat.

The most sensible thing for me to do would be to get a short cut. But I don't have ultra feminine features and my face is very round. I have big cheeks and a strong jaw. I can't really carry off the pixie look anymore. I feel like a man with boobs in short hair. Plus, I cannot STAND to have hair in my face, so bangs present a problem.

So, I'm in stage two now, and stage 3 is looming on the horizon. I don't have much hope that I will be able to break the cycle. Plus, it's pool and baseball season again so...

SIGH. I will probably be one of those little old ladies who wears her hair in a bun or a coronet of braids for forty years. I'll be nominated for one of those "Look Twenty Years Younger" episodes of Oprah and then I'll have a fit when some guy named "Jorge" wants to cut it all off.

How unhip would it be to get a perm? Do people do that anymore? I think the last time I got a perm it cost roughly the same as my car payment. Still, it would be worth it to give some life to these locks of mine. And perms for long hair are pretty much wash and wear, right? Course my hair is so thick that the last time I got a perm I ended up looking like Roseanne Rosanna Danna, so maybe that's not such a good idea.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Keeping Abreast

Not long ago, simply by happenstance, my husband discovered that our oldest son was browsing for porn on the family computer. Not having any real idea how to go about locating porn, he had simply typed in "", unaware that he had left behind evidence of his crime.

Several years back, he had asked me what a vagina looks like. After explaining to the 911 dispatcher that I was not having a heart attack after all, I got out one of my childbirth reference books, and showed him a tasteful, but realistic artistic rendering of a vagina. Due to his age, I assumed his interest was prompted mainly by the emerging distinctions in gender roles among his peers, and his curiosity about how boys and girls differ, both physically, and socially.

Not so

We realized the time had come to install parental controls on the computer, and locked that sucker down tighter than a drum. We explained that it was normal for him to be curious but also talked to him about why it isn't appropriate for kids his age to view that kind of material. We explained how those kinds of sites can foster unrealistic and sometimes even harmful ideas and expectations and we stressed the importance of developing a healthy sexual identity and awareness. We told him he can always come to us if he has questions. That was really the end of it for quite some time.

Husband was more amused than horrified. I, quite frankly, was beside myself. Porn? At 9? Dear God does it really start that young? Husband assured me that it does. Still, I couldn't help but wonder if our son was some kind of sexual deviant.

But apparently word of mouth spreads the gospel of sex pretty effectively even among the elementary school set, and they talk about it almost as much as they talk about sports; regurgitating the half-truths and suppositions they heard from a kid who heard it from a kid who heard it from his big brother, who was just as clueless as the were, but nonetheless passed it off as the sage wisdom of adolescence, thereby creating a confusing mythology of carnal dogma.

In other words, they think about sex a lot, even at the tender age of 9. And they want to know what it's all about. Though I have tried very hard to promote and encourage frank discussion about sex, I guess there are some things you just don't want to talk to your Mom about, an affinity for boobs being high on that list.

So now my son is 11 and it's very clear that girls are on his mind a lot. He had a sleepover for his birthday and when they thought I wasn't listening, the discussion alternated between girls, sports, and girls.

I'm slowly getting used to the idea that my son is entering a phase of his life in which girls and sex will be a primary and constant consideration. But I can't be rushed. This is my baby. I don't want to think about him getting to first base, or second, or locking himself in the bathroom for extended periods of time and why. Ick.

But sometimes a thing happens that illustrates very clearly that there is no escaping his slow descent into the male mindset. For example:

Today we were eating dinner at a local sports bar type establishment. Seated near us was a group of motorcycle enthusiasts. They looked just how you expect motorcycle enthusiasts to look. My boys were suitably impressed and highly intrigued. They stole glances at the group throughout our whole meal, a circustance to which I'm sure they were accustomed.

As they were leaving, one of the women strolled past our table on her way to and from the restroom. She was sssssmokin. (Girls can say that about other girls.) She was probably mid to late forties, but she had an incredible figure, and her clothes were obviously chosen to emphasize that fact. Her breasts were undeniably fake, but it was a very good job. All of my boys, even Diiminutive One, noticed her.

Hubby and I discussed the fact that she had "had work done", unaware that oldest son was listening. He asked what we meant by "had work done" and I told him that she had breast implants. Hey..I want him to know the difference between the real thing and silicone, okay? He, understandably, wanted to know how such a thing was accomplished and I described the process as matter of factly as possible.

His reaction was pretty strong. With reddening cheeks and a look of sheer horror on his face, he asked,

"Why the hell would someone want to do that??"

That's my boy!!! I was so proud of him that I let the profanity slide.

"Jeez, bigger isn't always better." he said with disgust.

Again, I was filled with pride at his maturity and his wisdom. I just knew I would never have to face the prospect of having a daughter in law who resembled a blow up doll. Until he said,

"Perkiness is much more important."

Just Shoot me now. Or at least give me enough Valium to see me through puberty.

Visa Bill

Surgery for mauled Cat: $800

Restitching after Cat tore incision open: $125

Antibiotics, collar, and absorbant pads: $150

Watching Cat try to lick his ass with collar on: Priceless

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Mommy Dearest

I've always been pretty independant, even as a small child. I struck out on my own at 18 and I've been a mother myself for 11 years now.

And still, I need my Mom to approve of me, to be proud of me, and to think I've done a good job with stuff. Last night on the phone, I shyly mentioned to her that I had been writing again and described some of the pieces I had been working on. She asked to read them and so, I reluctantly and somewhat fearfully sent her the link to my blog.

Then I wished I hadn't. What if she didn't like them?? What if she thought I was a terrible writer?? What if she said, in that well-meaning mother way that I should never put pen to paper again? What if she read some of things I said about her and Dad and got really pissed off?? I mean, I didn't say anything bad, but what if she doesn't like me writing about her?

She liked it. My Mommy liked my writing. She said good stuff about it. She said she was proud of me.

I feel like I've been given the Nobel Prize for Daughterhood in the category of Not Being A Complete Disappointment.

Stupid, isn't it?

Or not. I have a lot of respect for my Mom. She did so much for us growing up, and in many ways, she is the barometer by which I measure myself. I know my mother wasn't and isn't perfect, but growing up, I thought she must be the best mother there was. And then I reached my teen years and as teenagers do, I began to see my mother as a puritan and a killjoy. I was mean to my mother. I remember some of the horrible, hurtful things I said to her in a fit of hormonal teenaged apoplexy. And yet, she allowed me to live. In my opinion, this in itself should inspire life long loyalty and devotion.

Now that I am a parent, I realize that the decisions she made, she made out of concern for our safety and wellbeing. Knowing full well that they would not earn her any points with us, she nevertheless stuck to her guns. I know she wanted to be my friend and my confidante, what mother doesn't want that? But she never allowed that to get in the way of making good decisions for us. Back then I hated her for that. Now, I commend her for it. She never shrank from being the bad guy and that's damn hard to do when you're a Mom. It hurts to hear "I hate you", from a child you've killed yourself to protect and nurture. Now that I know just how much it hurts, I appreciate her resolve even more.

Back then I didn't care what my mother thought. Or did I? Did I do things to gain acceptance from my peers, all the while wanting, aching, begging her to stop me? I think I did. And she never failed me, even when she knew it meant hearing "I HATE You." I hope she knew, even if I didn't, what I really meant was "Thank you for stopping me from making a monumental mistake and allowing me to blame you for it."

I wondered why I, as a grown and somewhat self-posessed woman felt so validated by praise from her Mommy. I think it's pretty simple, really. I respect and admire my Mom, and like anybody whom I respect and admire, her opinion matters to me.

In talking to people in real life and reading various posts on blogs, message boards and email rings, I realize that I am lucky to have had such a strong, positive female role model growing up; one who instilled values in us and empowered us with strength and confidence. Hearing the stories of other people's relationship with their mother makes me realize I have taken mine for granted.

When I made the decision at 18 to leave home and move 900 miles away to a big city, with a man she couldn't have had much respect for or confidence in (long story) I expected to get a list of reasons why I shouldn't go. I even half-expected her to forbid me. But she didn't. She knew I had to go, and she knew that if she held me back, I would resent her forever for it. Her unconditional acceptance of my decision made me feel like a grownup for the first time in my life.

The day I left she cried, but she still didn't ask me to stay. She hugged me and whispered "You can always come home if you need to."

I never did, though it always made me feel safe to know that I could.

Now my Mom is sick.

Her disease is always fatal, though people can live a very long time with it, and she's actually doing very well right now. The thought of losing my mother fills me with a kind of dread and fear that I haven't felt since I was a small child. Unlike then, I can't crawl into her lap with my thumb in my mouth and hide my face in her bosom. I can't expect the grim reaper to be as easily banished as the monster under the bed. But I want her to know that when the times comes, I will let her go, just as she let me go, and I will be glad that she is at peace.

I don't want to think about this, I don't want to talk about it. I don't think she does either. I think we both want to pretend that she will be here forever. And in a way, she will. I'll be her living legacy as will my sisters and my niece, and any other female descendants.

So, I'm glad she likes my writing, because....I plan write about her a lot.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Happy Birthday

Today my firstborn child turns 11. I don't know how to articulate how his entrance into this world affected me. I always wanted to be a Mom, but I never could have foreseen what an incredible journey Motherhood would be. And during the sleepless nights, the colic, and the somewhat irrational fear of SIDS, I would never have guessed that the baby stuff was the easy part.

He was born at 35 weeks. They prepared me for the worst, but he was born strong and healthy, breathing on his own, and able to latch on with no problems. He weighed 5 lbs., 14 oz. and was 21 inches long. For a 35 weeker, he was pretty big, and all the doctors and nurses exclaimed over his size. He was my baby and I loved him, but to me he looked a little like a plucked chicken. His arms and legs were impossibly skinny, and since he hadn't had the opportunity to put down a healthy layer of fat in utero, his skin kind of bagged and wrinkled like too big pantyhose. Since I labored for 24 hours, his poor little head had been molded into a bullet shaped mound covered in soft, dark hair. The hospital issue knit cap would not stay upon his poor misshapen skull, though I tried repeatedly to stretch it down over his pointed pate. It would simply shoot off and sail accross the room; a powder blue projectile that did little damage, but caused lots of snickers among the hospital staff.

After a couple weeks of breastfeeding, he prettied up, and I marvelled at how rounded and rosy his cheeks had become, and how his little knees dimpled. I was inordinantly proud of the fact that MY breastmilk had wrought the change in him. At his two weeks checkup, he had gained a full three pounds, which the pediatrician was very pleased with. Because of his prematurity, I had been given strict instruction to nurse him every two hours without fail, even if I had to wake him to do so. I took this very seriously and so, for two weeks, I did not sleep more than two hours at a time. So I couldn't help but feel as if I had passed some kind of test, and I beamed with ill-concealed pride when the Pediatrician complimented me on a job well done. It was then that I started to believe I could in fact, adequately care for my new baby, and that maybe it hadn't been a grievous mistake to allow me to leave the hospital with him.

He was a good baby for a first time Mom. He nursed well, he slept well, he met all his milestones early or right on schedule. He was a happy baby. Still, I had all the worries that first time Moms do. My most overwhelming concern was his tendency to go for long periods of time without pooping. Then he would let loose a landslide of poo that no diaper could contain. Much of his newborn clothing is stained that peculiar yellow color of breastfed stool. The pediatrician assured me that this was perfectly normal for a newborn baby, but I couldn't stop worrying about it. Once he went for two weeks without a bowel movement. I started calling the doctor around day 5 and called every day thereafter.

Finally, when he was literally, full of shit, he moved his bowels with such force that onlookers stopped to stare. They were no doubt looking for an adult male upon whom to cast blame as the sound that issued from his bum was so explosive that it almost certainly was generated by beer and/or bratwurst, both of which were in plentiful supply at the Renaissance Fair we were attending at the time. After that, I made sure to always care a complete change of clothes, including blankets, as well as a supply of wet wipes and a Ziploc bag to transport soiled baby things home.

I did that until he was year old, because it turned out that not only was he a prodigious pooper, he was a champion spitter upper. I became "that passenger" on a plane trip to visit my parents when he was about 5 months old. Shortly after we had reached crusing altitude, he began to fuss a bit. I took him out of his infant carrier, held him up to my shoulder and patted his back. I knew people behind us were admiring my beautiful baby, and I revelled in the comments: "Ohhhh, isn't he sweet??" and "Such a beautiful baby!" and "I remember when mine were that little." I was eating it UP. Suddenly the appreciative murmurs became a collective gasp of horror, and I didn't have to wonder what had prompted it, as I felt the warm, semi-glutinous mass sliding down my shoulder. I smelled it too. Everybody did. I cleaned us up as best I could. I had packed a change of clothes for him, but not for me, and so, I sat in reeking shame for the remainder of the flight, acutely aware that we were responsible for the greenish tinge on the faces of many of our fellow passengers.

Despite the trials and tribulations of being a new mother, I remember his infancy as an idyllic time. I had no job, and no other children. I had no schedule to keep, I had no responsibilities other than him. I could sleep when he slept. I could easily plan my life around naps and nursing. Since one small baby doesn't make much of a mess, and since we had a miniscule two bedroom townhome, I didn't find it all that difficult to keep up with my domestic chores. I spent hours upon hours talking and reading to him, playing with him, and just admiring him.

When he was just a few months old, another new mother moved in next door. Her baby was just a few weeks older than mine and she was a stay at home mom too. For the next year we hung out together with our babies nearly every day. We would take a blanket or the playpen outside and drag every single toy we owned outdoors. We would sit outside, drinking coffee, smoking (a respectable distance away from the babies, hence the playpen) talking, and playing. There were days we sat outside all morning long, put the babies down for a nap, then re-emerged to play outdoors until dinner time. Sometimes we would go to the park or the mall or the library. We did what we felt like doing when we felt like it. It was a gloriously carefree time in my life and his, and sometimes, when the craziness and the chaos overhwhelms me, I dearly wish I could have it back.

When my second child was born, I felt sad and guilty that he would not get that kind of attention from me, and that my oldest, who was used to the attention, would now have to share it. I felt a great loss, as I knew that life would never again be as simple as it was in those days. But I couldn't have known just how complicated things could get and even now when I struggle to keep up with the ever increasing pace and complexity of our lives, something tells me that I ain't seen nothin' yet. We are on the cusp of puberty, and I am experiencing a kind of dread that I have never felt before.

Right now, though he is growing into an adult with frightening speed, he still likes me. He still talks to me. He still lets me kiss and hug him. He still occasionally comes to me in the night to crawl in bed with me. He still thinks I'm smart and cool. I'm still the most important woman in his life. I don't want that to change, but I know that it will. And soon. I don't think I will handle it gracefully. I'm not sure I can be nice to the other women in his life. I'm sure I will think they are all slutty, or snooty, or manipulative, and that's when things will get ugly. It makes me sad, but there's not much I can do about it except remind myself that it's normal for him to prize sex (even if it's just touchy feely) over his relationship with his mother.

So, umm, I meant this to be a really profound statement about what mothering him has meant to me. How he changed me from a self-centered girl into a Mother. How he brought me joy I never could have imagined, and sorrow I never wanted to. How I love him more than life itself and how, when he was born, I knew what it was to be willing to die for someone. Well...maybe when he hits the big one three, I can think of something profound to say. For today I just want to remember.

I love you my firstborn child. Happy Birthday.



Thursday, April 20, 2006

Georgia On My Mind

Warning: This post will probably not be erudite, witty, or thought provoking. It is just your average run of the mill rant.

People in Georgia are crazy.

In 2004 State Superintendant Kathy Cox proposed the removal of text books that referenced Evolution and replacing them with those that supported Intelligent Design. Kathy Cox explained that "Evolution is a buzzword that causes a lot of negative reaction." People supported this. Thankfully, common sense prevailed, and the proposal was not accepted. However, references to Natural Selection and Origin of Man were removed, and have not as yet, been restored.

Last year, there was the whole "Laptop for Every Student" fiasco. The proposal was for a SPLOST generated $70 million dollars to purchase an APPLE laptop for every child in our county. There were so many things wrong with this that I can't even conceivably address them all in the 30 mins I've allotted myself for blogging this evening. And people supported this.

NOW there is a proposal afoot to add BIBLE classes to public schools. Elective, of course. So how could anybody possibly object. Hmmm. Anybody heard of that pesky little thing called Separation of Church and State? Not to mention the fact that class time is already so jam packed with state mandated curriculum that there is barely time for recess. Who needs recess when you have the First Testament?

And tonight I heard on the news that some uber Christian nitwit housewives with too much free time on their hands are launching a crusade to have the Harry Potter books removed from school libraries, because they expose children to EEEEEEEEEVil. And guess what? YES! They have gained a following and....people are supporting this.

Just recently, a vote was passed to discontinue music enrichment programs at the Middle and High School levels. Not in my county, but I suspect it's only a matter of time.

I am so fed up with this kind of ignorant bible thumping propaganda being crammed down out throats. I am so sick of people being short sighted, narrow minded and downright stupid when it affects my children. And I am sick of people not getting out there and VOTING when issues like this come up.

I have got to get my kids out of this state.

Now, has anybody seen my spleen?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

No Guts, No Glory

I've been writing ever since I could write. Not writing would be like not breathing. It is the most effective kind of Spiritual Lipstick for me. I always said that "someday" I would pursue writing as a career in earnest. But...I left home at 18, and I had to eat. So I took a series of well-paying but essentially meaningless jobs and climbed my way up the corprorate ladder. I was proud of having worked my way up to the position I held, but it was still just a job, and a boring one at that.

Then I had kids. While pregnant with my first child, I lost my job in a corporate reorganization. After a couple months of panic we realized we could make it work on one salary and I became a stay at home mom. The next ten years FLEW by in a blur of sleepless nights, and action packed days. I truly enjoyed being a stay at home Mom, and I really believed in the value of staying at home. But I'll admit that I'm one of those women who became consumed by motherhood. I made no provisions for the day when the kids would no longer be my entire focus.

Two years ago, after 9 years of being on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, my youngest entered kindergarten and suddenly, I had six glorious hours to spend in whatever selfish pursuit I desired. I almost didn't know what to do with myself. I dabbled in PTA for a while, chairing the Cultural Arts Committee for several years. I found it enjoyable and rewarding, and it gave my atrophied brain some much needed exercise. But soon the politics (yes, politics in Elementary School PTA...this is not your Mother's PTA honey.), the cliquishness and the petty bickering wore thin. I bowed out as gracefully as I could and while I don't regret a moment spent trying to create and promote enrichment programs for the school, nor do I regret the decision to step down. My life is infinitely more enjoyable without a dagger protruding from between my shoulder blades.

I became a Doula for a while, and found it enormously fulfilling. But natural birth hasn't really caught on here in the South, where, despite the progressive window dressing, new ideas take a long time to gain acceptance. Most of the time my proposals were greeted with a blank look, a non-commital nod, and a promise to get in touch. When I did land a client, I felt impeded and frustrated by archaic and restrictive hospital policies and legislation regarding home birth that was ambiguous at best. I seriously considered enrolling in Midwifery school, but I had to be realistic about the burden this would place on my family. Its an arduous process with heavy demands on time and personal resources.

So I started writing again. I never really stopped, but I certainly hadn't been putting the kind of energy into it that allowed me to turn out anything of substance. I started making a point to write each day and it felt GOOD. And I've come to the realization that "someday" is upon me. I don't want to wake up one day and realize that "someday" has come and gone. I read that Frank McCourt didn't write Angela's Ashes until he was 64. I think that's admirable, but frankly, I don't want to wait that long. Already I feel that I've wasted too much time.

I don't even know where to begin. So I did what I always do when that is the case: I hit the bookstore and purchased an armload of books on how to get started on a writing career. I subscribed to Writer's Digest and I scoured the web and bookmarked about a million blogs by and for writers. I may even take a few classes at the local university.

I don't expect this to happen overnight and honestly, I will be astounded if it happens at all. I've got no "clips" and I've got no practical experience, but I've also got nothing to lose. So, if you're a writer and you have some advice to offer. Lay it on me. I am all ears.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Spirit Moves Him

In retrospect, there were many instances that should have given me some inclination that my youngest son was...different. Now, I don't mean The Omen different, or solving mathematical theorems on his etch a sketch different, or talking to the animals different. But he definitely had a purposeful intensity that was sometimes merely frustrating; sometimes downright frightening. Looking back, I should have seen these instances as symptoms of a larger issue, rather than isolated events that often caused me to meet my husband at the door with a wad of cash and beg him to take the kids to McDonald's playland while I had a quiet breakdown huddled in the shower.

It wasn't until my sister, who has holds a degree in Child Psychology and who worked for many years in a home for profoundly disturbed children, came to me somewhat hesitantly to suggest that he might be "Spirited", that I ever considered his "differentness" might have a name. She also mentioned the term "ODD". After clarifying the exact meaning of "ODD" (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) I did not comment further, and she wisely took this as my unwillingness to even consider that my son might be suffering from such a pernicious sounding disorder. I had considered that he might be Autistic, however. He didn't speak a word until he was three years old and at times, he seemed to be completely oblivious to my presence, despite the fact that I was screaming at the top of my lungs..."Diminutive One...NOOOOOOO!! Do NOT flush that down the toilet/put that in your mouth/dump that on the living room carpet!!!

The speech thing in itself gave me many sleepless nights. My oldest said his first word at ten months and was speaking complete (ableit short and simple) sentences at about fifteen months. Therefore, Diminutive One's lack of verbalization worried me a great deal. Should I take him to a therapist or should I just wait him out??? I wondered. My husband thought it was a moot point. "Honey, he can follow detailed commands, he's invented an entire language of hand signals that other people actually understand, and he knows how to use the remote and the VCR. He doesn't have scrambled eggs for brains. He'll talk when he's ready." he reasoned. Easy for him to say. It's not the Dad that gets blamed when kids end up scarred for life. It's always the Mom. But he was right. Cognitively, Diminutive One did seem to have a leg up. In fact, he was almost too smart, as was clearly illustrtated to me the day of the Great Bathtime Fakeout.

Diminutive one has always loved to bathe. When he was just a tiny infant he would kick and splash with glee when placed in his baby tub. He would pucker up and wail disconsolately when removed, even when the water had gone cold. During his bath was really the only time I could expect to sit for an extended period, as he would happily remain in the bath for an hour, sometimes more, and so I gladly indulged his love of bathing.

One evening when Diminutive One was about 18 months old, I had bathed and jammied him and then put his brother in the bath to soak while I read Diminutive One a story. Diminutive one was not happy that a bath was taking place without him in it, and repeatedly pantomimed that he wanted to get in the tub with his brother. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly he accepted my refusal, as normally such an instance would provoke hours of begging, pleading, and tantrumming. I should have known his relatively swift acquiescence was too good to be true, but I assumed it was because it was near bedtime and he simply didn't have the energy to kick up much of a fuss. He had unceremoniously given up napping about a month earlier you see, much to my deep and abiding sorrow.

So, accepting defeat, he performed a series of gestures that roughly translated, meant: "Mother, I am desirous of reading Goodnight Moon. Sadly, it was left in my brother's room when you read it to both of us last evening, and now I must retrieve it so that you can read it eleven more times. I do so enjoy the lively verse, you know." I nodded my assent and settled back in the rocker, trying not to let my eyelids drift downward. Suddenly, I heard a splash and an indignant shout. I knew immediately what had happened. He had faked me out. I rose wearily and shuffled to the bathroom. Sure enough, there sat Diminutive One, fully dressed, splashing happily and looking as smug as a person realistically can with an Elmo pacifier nestled between their rosy lips.

That should have been the catalyst for some clarity and realization. Perhaps not complete realization, but at least sneaking suspicion. But instead, I was amused, and grudgingly impressed with his ingenuity, as well as his determination in achieving his objective. I thought it was cute. The wily little varmint.

Things escalated as things like that have a way of doing, and I often felt that my days were just a series of near catastrophes strung together. The daunting task of keeping him alive was wearing me to a frazzle. I could not take my eyes off of him for a single moment, which resulted in a lot of domestic backsliding. Being a neatnik, that was getting to me almost as much as being on gaurd against impending disaster every moment of every day.

Finally, I hit upon the idea of creating a giant playpen out of the toy room, which in actuality was our dining room, and was centrally located on the lower level of our home. It was PERFECT. I could see and hear him from just about any place on the lower level. I installed heavy duty baby gates on each of the two entrances, baby proofed the hell outta the room, and voila! He was secure. And the real beauty of it was, that he rarely even realized he was being confined. I could clean again! I could go get the mail. I could have a bowel movement without having to stop mid-poo because things were simply too. damned. quiet. I allowed myself to be lulled into a false sense of security, which set the stage for the Great Refrigerator Caper.

You have to know that what Diminutive One loves best, are sweets. Left to his own devices, he would gorge himself on cakes, candy and junk food until he fell into a diabetic coma. We figured out pretty quickly that cabinet locks are absolutely useless when you are living with the mother of all sugar addicts and so we took to storing the forbidden fruit on top of the refrigerator. Nevertheless, I would often find him roaming around with a sweet treat clutched in his sticky little fist. It seemed he had learned to save for a rainy (or cookieless) day, but my search for his secret stash was unsuccessful. One day I happened to move one of the living room chairs to vacuum beneath it and out fell an amazing assortment of contraband. Problem solved, or so I believed.

Later that same day, after disposing of his stockpile, I deposited him in the "playpen" and ran upstairs to gather up dirty laundry. The laundry room is just off the kitchen and as I passed through, my heart leapt into my throat and I dropped the laundry basket in abject terror. Diminutive One was sitting on top of the refrigerator, blissfully munching frosted animal crackers. As I clambered up to retrieve him, he giggled. "MMMMMMMMMM", he said and rubbed his tummy.

A quick glance told me all I needed to know. To clear the baby gate, he had constructed rudimentary stairs out of Chubs (obsolete brand of baby wipes) boxes. They looked like giant legos and so we kept them to play with. Since we had started collecting them when my oldest was a baby we had a plentiful supply. They were made out of sturdy plastic, and interlocked quite nicely. They made ideal building material. I can't help thinking that he had been hatching the idea for quite some time, but knowing it was a one shot deal, had saved it for a worthy occasion. After that, he used a combination of kitchen chairs, stepstools, and the shelves of the kitchen cabinets to reach his destination. He was 2 1/2. My peace of mind was shattered. I cried knowing he would never, ever be safe.

It seems only fitting that the love of his life (sweets)is what finally compelled him to speak his first words in an astonishing display we now refer to as The Great Birthday Revelation.

My oldest son was turning 6 and for the occasion I had fashioned two gigantic Pokeballs out of yellow cake baked in semi-spherical baking pans. I laid them on a field of green coconut and placed key Pokemon characters all around. It was quite artistic, if I do say so myself. I kept them under wraps until we were ready to sing Happy Birthday and was highly gratified by the ooohs and aaaaaahs that were inspired by my creation. As I was cutting the cake, Diminutive One was sort of lost in the sea of gimme hands, and apparently felt it incumbent on himself to make his needs absolutely clear. He tugged on my shirt and when he had my attention he opened his mouth and said "I want summa dat. MMMMMMM." he pointed to the cake, just to make sure there was no mistake. My husband and I looked at each other, agog. "Did you...?" "Did he....?" Oh my God, he can speak!!! Whereupon we both burst into tears. Mr. Moot point was clearly was not as blase as he had led me to believe about the whole thing.

So...there you have three examples of fledgling "Spiritedness". I relate them to you here for all those parents who might be thinking that their child is "different" in some way. I want those of you who are struggling to know that it is possible to one day look back and laugh at the many adventures of raising a Spirited Child and also, to understand that it can be an incredible learning experience. I must constantly redefine my parenting beliefs and that's really not a bad thing. It has resulted in tremendous personal growth and increased self-awareness. It has forced me to take a more creative approach to parenting issues I once thought very cut and dried, and to think more carefully about the kind of parent I want to be. My Spirited Child has taught me far more than I have taught him.

He is an amazing kid, and one thing I have learned is that qualities I find so frustrating and challenging now are those that will take him far in life. I have learned to see them not just as parenting challenges, but assetts that will allow him to achieve any goal that he sets for himself. I've also learned to separate the kid from the behavior, and not allow the many fine qualities he possesses to be eclipsed by it. He has a fabulous sense of humor, he is incredibly creative and he has an insatiable curiosity about how things work. He can argue a point like Clarence Darrow. And he has a tender streak that he doesn't often allow to be seen, but which seems to assert itself just when I need it most.

So though he still challenges me on a daily basis, I think we're going to do okay. We talk a lot, and we've both perfected the art of apology. I still have days where I believe I am screwing him up beyond repair, but they are fewer and farther between now. Of course, I don't know what the teen years are going to bring, but his father, of whom his paternal grandmother swears he is the spit and image in temperment as well as appearance, made it through adolescence in almost one piece, so I am cautiously optimistic.

In the South there is an aphorism that states "You pay for your raising", which means that the heartache you caused your parents will be revisited upon you by your own children. If there is any cosmic sense of fair play, he will marry a girl with similar proclivities and be repaid, erm...blessed with children even more Spirited than he. Only then will he fully appreciate the fact that human mothers do not devour their young.

I'm perfectly willing to wait.

Monday, April 17, 2006


I have a problem and it's pretty hardcore. I can't stop buying books. The words, "I'm going to stop by the bookstore" send my husband into a tailspin of fiscal dismay. It's a dangerous place for a woman with a debit card and no self control, you see.

I love books(except sci-fi and fantasy). I want to possess them, devour them, fondle them and exhibit them. I remember as a young teen, visiting the house a friend whose family was much more affluent than mine. They had an honest to goodness library; a room lined with shelves which were bursting with a mind-boggling selection of gorgeous gilt-edged and leather bound classics, multitudes of dog eared paperbacks, and countless hardcover reference books full of vibrant pictures and beautiful illustrations. I fell in love with that room, and I thought that having a library was just about the most elegant and refined thing in the whole world. It became my fondest wish, one that has yet to be realized.

Sometimes I buy books that I'm not really interested in reading, just because they are beautifully illustrated or have interesting cover art. This is especially true of children's books. I also buy children's books that have wonderful verse or enchanting rhymes. I collect vintage children's books when I can, and my most prized are Never Tease a Weasel and Miss Suzi. I remember my Mother reading these books to the three of us, and I can still hear the lilt in her voice. I still remember the dramatic pauses that made us catch our breath in anticipation, and the theatrics that she used to bring the story to life. My mother didn't just read books, she performed them. Perhaps that is why I love them so much today.

I have been known to stay up all night devouring a particularly gripping tale as if on some kind of literary bender. When I don't have reading material, I go into a kind of panic, which I guess is really a symptom of withdrawal when you come right down to it. I start making a mental list of my all time favorites, which line the shelves in our family room, trying to determine which of those I've read long enough ago to get some satisfaction out of re-reading. And I always keep a stash of non-fiction that I really do want to read, but can't bring myself to sacrifice what little reading time I have for them in place of the fiction that I crave. The combination of the two can usually see me through a literary dry spell quite nicely. But still the panic comes, and I must turn to my little mental list to assuage the full on hysteria that threatens.

I have reading "moods" and so, I often have three or four books in progress at one time. Sometimes I want light reading; something engaging enough to turn my mind from all the endless domestic worries, but light enough to give my poor addled brain a respite. Sometimes, I want to be challenged. I want to think. I want to provoke use my gray matter in a way that isn't often precipitated by the complexities of toilet sanitization or pit stain removal. And sometimes, I just want to know stuff. Who, what, when, where, why, how. I want to look into the past, I want to understand the present and I want to revel in the possibilities for the future. My husband, a non-reader (I mean, he can read, of course, but he does not choose to do so for pleasure), finds this an endless source of puzzlement. He doesn't understand how I can switch gears from one to the next without confusing characters and storylines. I can honestly say this has never been a problem for me.

Nothing can raise my spirits more than a new book. The smell and feel of the crisp new pages and the promise of being transported by the story within can make almost any problem seem surmountable, almost any worry seem minor. It's a balm for any wound, physical or spiritual. I can think of nothing more pleasant than curling up in bed with a brand new book and hours of peace and quiet ahead of me. Throw in a little thunder and lightening, and I'm blissed out beyond belief. A crackling fire is a nice touch, but is not strictly necessary for optimal reading ambience. This is a good thing, since the only fireplace in our home is located in the living room, and trying to read there is like trying to meditate in Times Square.

As you might have guessed, I have high expectations when delving into a new book. And I suppose this is why I am so grievously disappointed when it fails to live up to those expectations. I take it quite personally, truth be told. A bad book is the worst kind of disappointment; a betrayal of the trust I have placed in the author by paying money for the privilege of perusing their intellectual property. It makes me inordinantly cranky.

At this moment, I have by my side three new books (featured in my sidebar) just waiting to be experienced. I find this curiously comforting, enormously uplifting, and superbly satisfying. In short, I am a happy woman.

My name is Blog Antagonist, and I am a Bibliophile. Perhaps there is a 12-step program for that, but you won't find me there anytime soon. And if anyone stages an intervention, there will be bloodshed.

Now please pardon me, while I go consume a fifth of Irving Stone with a Tom Perotta chaser. And don't expect anything coherent from me until well into the afternoon. I'm going to have one hell of a read over tomorrow morning.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

This Just In....

Dateline: Sunday, April 16, 2006

New Study Reveals Genetic Link to Debilitating Condition

For years women have suffered in silence, embarrassed and ashamed, with nowhere to turn for help. They have blamed themselves, and tried everything to help their loved ones overcome this terrible affliction. But new studies released today show that Garmentflingamania, or GFM as it’s more commonly known, has roots in human DNA. The gene responsible for this condition is carried on the Y chromosome, which proves conclusively that women are not responsible for the perpetuation of this disease, nor do they suffer from it, though they can pass the gene onto male offspring.

The disease strikes only males, rendering them incapable of identifying and utilizing laundry collection receptacles by blocking impulses to the optic nerve, and impairing synaptic function in the frontal lobe, which controls logic, judgment and impulse control. Scientists are still unsure how the disease progresses, but preliminary testing indicates that biological factors related to puberty cause the onset of symptoms which progress rapidly as the victim matures. Sadly, by the time most men reach their mid thirties they are completely incapable of properly disposing of soiled laundry. There is some evidence that strongly suggests GFM is related to an as yet unspecified syndrome which impairs the ability to distinguish clean garments from dirty ones.

Occasionally, females will display symptoms of GFM. However, this is usually a result of living in a predominantly male environment, and can be corrected with behavior modification therapy and positive reinforcement. Due to the genetic component of GFM, males will not respond to external stimulus, and to date, there is no known cure.

The repercussions of this disease are far-reaching and create a hazardous living environment for those who share a home or apartment with GFM sufferers. Victims often deposit garments on every available surface and square inch of floor space, sometimes completely obscuring furniture, pets, and small children. Recently, several alleged kidnappings were solved, thanks to the quick thinking of concerned neighbors, who suspected GFM and notified authorities that the victims might still be in the house. The tearful mother, when reunited with her children made this plea:

"I almost lost my children to GFM because we were too ashamed to seek help. Nobody should have to live with that kind of fear. Call the GFM hotline today. It’s not too late to get the help you need."

The children, though shaken, did not sustain any injuries or long term trauma from their ordeal. The family dog, sadly, perished under a mound of soiled undergarments. Authorities suspected that the pitiful pooch was overcome by fumes emanating from traces of fecal matter. The coronoer has confirmed skidmark intoxication as the cause of death.

Another woman, who has asked that her identity be protected had this to say:

"This is no way to live. I can’t even answer the phone because I just don’t know where it is. I try to stay positive for my kids though. At least I don’t have to vacuum."

The stress of living with GFM can tear marriages and families apart, but with proper education, information and support, victims and their families can lead normal productive lives. For more information about this disease, contact your local chapter of GFM Anonymous. Many chapters offer counseling on an individual or family basis.

Meanwhile research is ongoing, and scientists are hopeful that someday, they will be able to treat this disease at the genetic level. GFM is not a high profile disease, and funds are always lacking. Please help us find a cure by making a donation today.

“Don’t Get Buried by GFM”

Saturday, April 15, 2006

In Defense of Soccer Moms

I have something that I would like to say to those who sneer at so called Soccer Moms and Coach Dads, and who imply that encouraging and supporting our kids in these pursuits is nothing more than a means of achieving personal glory by forcing our kids to fulfill the dreams of our own disappointing youth.

Fuck You.

Yep. You heard me.

The only reason I can think of for a person to villify parents who take an active role in their kids' sports activities, or any activity for that matter is to justify their own disinterest in doing so.

As the Mom of boys, I get involved in baseball because it's their "thing", and because there is no hope they they will ever be interested in retail therapy or anything that involves setting foot inside a beauty salon. There are some non-sporting activities that we enjoy together, and I cherish them. But libraries and museums simply don't hold as much appeal for them as a freshly dragged and chalked baseball diamond. Whether I like it or not, baseball is where it's at right now.

If I want to spend time with my boys, I have to take an interest in boy stuff. It's really that simple. And I learned that when my boys were young and I tried valiantly to provide them with gender balanced playthings. The EZ Bake Oven sat unused until my son realized that you can melt crayons and plastic soldiers in it. The gender neutral (read: not pink) kitchen set was upended and used as a citadel. The disturbingly asexual "friends" that I bought for them often ended up as prisoners of war, and were treated accordingly. And play-doh, more often than not, was launched, shot, or catapulted from various makeshift weaponry. The vacuum was a hit for a while, until the motor broke. Silent, it was nothing more than a glorified broom, and therefore, exceedingly uninteresting. I tried. But nature clearly outweighs nurture in the case of my boys, regardless of how desperately consistently the nurturing was applied.

Now, if someone can explain to me how encouraging, supporting, and becoming involved with an activity that gets my kids outdoors, away from television and video games, and which has been shown to reduce the risk of substance abuse and criminal activity is a BAD thing...I'm all ears. But if you're just going to spout a bunch of ignorant drivel about misspent youth and glory unrealized, you'll have to pardon me if I put my fingers in my ears and sing "Kiss Off" at the top of my lungs.

But you know, it doesn't have to be sports. It could be anything. Find your kid's passion and then help them live it, breathe it, dream it. And let them know that whatever that dream is, you will be there to help him or her achieve it. Make them think you believe with all your heart and soul that they could be the next Mumenshantz. Let them know you give a shit about the finer points of competitive soap carving or interpretive clog dancing.

I want my kids to look back one day and realize that I was at every game. Every match. Every whatever. That I sold hotdogs in the rain and washed cars in 40 degree weather so their team/troupe/band could go the playoffs or whatever it is that represents the pinnacle of achievement and prowess for their activity of choice. It matters. And if you think it doesn't, you're fooling yourself.

That is all.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Meme Schmeme

Well, it was only a matter of time before I got tagged. I suppose it's Karma or Irony or some such thing since I once made fun of them. But how can I turn down someone as charming and gracious as IzzyMom? Since this one seems marginally less dorky than some I've seen, I'll happily join in. I'm told Dooce did it, and I suppose what's good for the Dooce is good for the Gander, er..Antagonist.

Six Weird things about me:

1. I have double jointed elbows and they will bend so far in the opposite direction that it freaks people out. For that reason, I don't often demonstrate this skill. It really serves no purpose, except I suppose I could more easily free myself from a straightjacket, if the need ever arose.

2. I am addicted to butter. Hey...I grew up in Wisconsin, it's a dairy state. I put it on everything. I cook everything in it. Or I did, before I changed my ways to shed some post-smoking, post-pregnancy, post-dance-every-night-single-life weight. Once, while visiting my parents, we took my husband to a local pub type place that is moderately famous for it's hamburgers and fishburgers. My husband was horrified to find butter dripping from his double cheeseburger. Now you see how I acquired said addiction.

3. I can't sleep in a bed with clean sheets if I haven't had a shower. Even if I showered that morning, I must shower again. It just seems WRONG to put a dirty body into clean sheets. Likewise, I cannot put on pre-worn anything after having a shower, even if I only wore it for a very short period of time prior to the shower. Particularly underwear and socks. My boys and my husband have no such qualms.

4. I have a weird matching quirk, which sometimes manifests itself in very peculiar ways. For instance, I must use the same brand of shampoo and conditioner. I cannot use Paul Mitchell shampoo, and Biolage conditioner. I will, in desperation, but it bugs me. A lot. I can't use B&BW lotion, and then some use some unrelated fragrance. If I wear Cotton Blossom lotion, then I must use Cotton Blossom body splash. When my boys were younger, I used to dress them head to toe in the same name brand. I simply could not mix a Carter's shirt with a pair of Oshkosh B'Gosh pants. I know, I'm a loon. Needless to say, eclecticism is not a concept that I embrace, except when it comes to music.

5. I don't like foods to mix, unless they are supposed to, as in the case of a casserole, or lasagne, or something of that nature. If I am served mashed potatoes, peas and Swiss Steak, they should not, under any circumstances, enter my mouth, together. Some people have a thing about foods touching on their plate but that's really fine with me unless it's something really gross like, beet juice soaking my dinner roll. But something about combined textures in my mouth makes me queasy. (save's all been said before by my pervy husband)

6. I habitually pick the mascara off of my eyelashes. I have done this for as long as I can remember. Sometimes, I put on extra coats of mascara just so I can pick it off. I think it started when I wore glasses and my eyelashes, which are very long, would rub against my glasses and leave specks on the lenses. I would pick the mascara just off the tips, at first, to prevent that, and it just progressed from there. The older I get, the more sparse my lashes become, so these days I try to wash my mascara off before the picking compulsion overwhelms me.

Alright, now that I have revealed myself to be a complete nutcase, I'll go back to posting things that make me seem all normal and highbrow and stuff.

M and Kirdy, you've been tagged. Don't hate me. Izzy made me do it.

Germ Warfare

I knew it was inevitable after a full seven days of touching things a jillion other people touched, re-breathing air that a jillion other people exhaled, sitting on toilets that a jillion other people sat on, and sleeping in a bed that a jillion other people have slept in. But hope springs eternal in the breast of one who dreads a head cold more than child birth.

Normally, I'm not a germophobe. Normally, I rely on good old fashioned handwashing and a hardy immune system to keep us healthy. I don't use antibacterial products in my home because I really do believe that ultimately, they do more harm than good. And I've never been one of those mothers who wigged out if their kid happened to eat a french fry off of the floor of the local McCrapald's germhaven playland. I'll even admit to having popped a dropped pacifier back into diminutive one's mouth (pre-pubescent one sucked his thumb) without having sanitized it properly.

And when you have boys, you just learn to live with dirt. My boys are outside kids, and they get dirty. Really dirty. And I don't let it bother me as long as it doesn't get tracked all over the off-white Berber carpet and the white tile that the previous owners installed, oblivious to the fact that the crisp clean look they were after wouldn't last long in a house built on a slab in a yard with serious drainage problems and without an entryway or mudroom to speak of.

There is a creek that runs through the neighborhood, and it attracts young boys like moths to a flame. I pride myself on not batting an eyelash when they come home with mud up to their knees bearing turtles, tadpoles and salamanders, despite the threat of salmonella that these critters present. Sometimes, when I am feeling particularly devil may care, they even go to bed without a bath, which means that turtle poop germs and god knows what else spends all night colonizing on them.

And you know what? My boys are rarely sick. Could be luck. But maybe not. In general, I think we are sanitizing our kids right into a full blown supergerm crisis. But that's another post.

All that aside, experience, as well as several brief stints in retail where I watched people sneeze into their hands, pick their ass or nose, and then blithely hand me money with nary a thought to the germs they had just deposited on it, has taught me that you have to be prepared to do battle when you go among the masses. So I plan accordingly, and I am merciless.

And yet, here I am, sick. Yep. Some sneaky little germ snuck past the cloud of Lysol, the multiple applications of Purrell, and the antimicrobial body condom. (just kidding, but it's really not that bad of an idea). It probably got in through the fissures in my cracked and bleeding hands. Could Purrell have a higher alchohol content? I could probably just carry around a bottle of Isopropyl Alchohol and save myself some money.

When I try to inhale, all I get is an odd little "skwik" that may or may not be my sinuses caving in under the enormous pressure. When I swallow, I get that weird vacuum seal thing in the back of my throat that happens when you have too much snot and not enough ventilation, and that makes you feel momentarily as if you might actually suffocate. And my body aches in a way I have never before experienced except that one time I did Gunnar Peterson's Full Body Challenge all the way through.

Having a head cold is my idea of hell on earth. Seriously, if I were a spy, all it would take to make me crack like an egg is for my captor to dangle a vial of common cold in my face while taunting "Vee haf vays to make you talk, liebchen."

I'm going to go have relations with my heating pad now. I'll be back when the antihistimine stupor wears off.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Honesty and the Great Hoo-Ha Mystery

My middle sister has boy/girl twins that were born in January 2004. She and her family lived in the same city as me when the her children were born, but they moved back to Wisconsin when the twins were almost a year old. I miss them like crazy. I only get to see them once a year, so Middle Sister tries very hard to keep in touch by email, phone and video. Recently she called to share a funny story with me, that had me absolutely howling and illustrated quite clearly that I am a very small person.

To preface this story, you have to know that my youngest sister has a boyfriend that is not very popular with our family. He is lazy and self-involved and suffers from manic depression. He refuses to seek treatment or take medication, which would not make him any more likeable, but would enable him to live a somewhat normal and productive life. Poor, pitiful, disabled person that he is, he has taken shameless advantage of everyone in our family, and most of us learned long ago not to fall into that trap. But Youngest Sister still hasn't realized that she is his meal ticket.

The longer they are together, the more inextricably she falls under his spell. His illness causes paranoia and though she is not mentally ill, she buys into his half assed theories, which causes all kinds of drama, and often, tension between the two of them and the rest of our family. He particularly dislikes me, and this has driven a wedge between Youngest Sister and me. I have tried several times to repair the damage to our relationship, but it inevitably comes down to a choice between me or him. Guess who wins? At thirty, she is still young enough to start over and have all the things she has given up to be with him, namely, children. But they have been together for over ten years, and we are losing hope that she will ever realize that he is a huge stone around her neck. She loves him. SIGH.

So there's some dirty laundry aired out for all the internet to see.

Anyway...the twins are in the midst of a language explosion and as twins often do, they have developed some words that only the two of them seem to know the meaning of. Middle Sister has managed to decode some of these words, and it has been very interesting to see how they classify things in their world and name them accordingly.

For instance, Girl Twin calls Boy Twin not by his name, but by "Eye-eye". After she had been using it for a while, Boy Twin started calling himself "Eye-Eye". He knows his name, he responds to his name, but clearly thinks of himself as "Eye-Eye". Interestingly, Girl Twin is simply Girl Twin to both of them. Finally Middle Sister realized that although they are not identical, they don't seem to be able to distinguish themselves when shown a photograph. When asked, they will simply say, "Eye", regardless of which twin is being pointed to. This led to the conclusion that perhaps "Eye-Eye" was a way of saying "another me". I am me, and so is he. "I-I." Peculiar, but apparently pretty common with twins, even fraternals. And pretty smart, I thought. Also, they use the word "obido" to identify people or things they do not know the name of. Middle sister surmises that this is the twinspeak adaptation of "Idontknow."

There are still quite a few words and phrases that remain a mystery though, one of which is their word for Youngest Sister's boyfriend. They call him Hoo-Ha. They know the names of most of the family and call everybody by their names, including me, my husband and my boys, even though we only see them once a year or so. They can correctly identify us when shown our pictures, and they address us by name on the phone. So, it seemed a little strange that they couldn't seem to learn Youngest Sister's boyfriend's name.

Finally, through a random series of events, Middle Sister had an epiphany whereby she realized that Hoo-Ha is twinspeak for.....MONKEY!! Because monkeys say....hoo-hoo-hoo, ha-ha-ha. Try it. And yes, Youngest Sister's boyfriend does have a very Simian looking face. He is also very short, and hairy, and his arms are unusually long. Knuckle walking wouldn't present much of a challenge for him.

I laughed so hard I almost wet myself. Tears were running down my face, and I could scarcely catch my breath. Oh my. Leave it to a toddler to call a spade a spade. See, I told you. Very small person.

In my defense, he ruined my first Thanksgiving home in 18 years by suggesting that I sent him out for a corkscrew (yes, we are awash with corkscrew issues in this family) to covertly exclude him from Thanksgiving dinner. First Thanksgiving at home. In 18 years. We cooked for three days. My mother set the table with her best china and an antique linen tablecloth. It was beautiful. And he cast a pall over everything by throwing a big fat tantrum and then refusing to eat with us anyway. The real bitch of it was that I thought I was doing him a favor by giving him an opportunity to get away from the chaos and the commotion, which due to his illness make him extremely nervous, for a few moments. I thought I was being NICE. Am I bitter? Hell yes.

The entire family including Youngest Sister and Youngest Sister's boyfriend has been involved in solving the Great Hoo-Ha mystery, and so now Middle Sister is faced with finding a way to tactfully tell Youngest Sister's boyfriend that her children are calling him Monkey Man.

How much bad Karma do you think I would bring upon myself if I volunteered for the job? Just asking.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Blessed Thing

We are traveling down a rutted, sun dappled, tree lined road in a sleepy little Southern town. It is so picturesque that it could easily be mistaken for some utopian 1950's TV town. If a person didn't know better, they might almost expect to see a primly coiffed woman in a pill box hat and day dress walking to market with a shopping bag over her arm, or a freckle faced boy with a slingshot hanging from his back pocket climbing an aged oak, far above the sidewalk. On the surface, it's the kind of town that makes outsiders long to pull up stakes and move there, happily sacrificing 24 hour convenience for Rockwellian charm.

As we turn the corner however, the view turns to images more in keeping with a UNICEF commercial than that of a picture perfect whistle stop town. There are barefooted and big bellied children playing in front of sagging, dilapidated homes with their doors propped open with cinder blocks to dispel the gloom. There are dogs wallowing in yards devoid of a single blade of grass. They snarl and snap at anyone who ventures near; fierce from hunger and neglect. There are stoop shouldered women hanging out threadbare laundry, there are overalled men tinkering beneath the hoods of late model automobiles. An infant wails and it is a plaintive sound; as if it doesn't really expect to be heard, doesn’t expect any solace or comfort. This street is also sun-dappled and tree lined, but it does little to combat the air of dejection and destitution. It is a profoundly hopeless place.

In this part of town, white and black live side by side in a kind of desperate harmony. It seems that poverty is a great equalizer.

As we approach an intersection, I recognize a small house with peeling paint and crumbling stone columns. The graying boards of the front porch are bowed with age and rot. A torn screen door swings to and fro in the breeze. It has not changed much since the first time I saw it, except that it is empty now, and even more forlorn. No curtains grace the windows and no cheery light shines from within as it did that bitter November evening almost 12 years ago......

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law seemed oblivious to the abrupt change of scenery. Their faces were bland with acceptance, while mine undoubtedly registered shock and horror. Never had I seen such profound poverty, such pervasive and immeasurable need. It made my underprivileged childhood seem affluent in comparison. In an unconscious gesture of protection against something I could scarcely comprehend, my hand stole to my swollen belly. Dear raise a child in this filth.

I thought about the clean and cheerful nursery at home; the piles of tiny, snowy underthings and receiving blankets washed in Dreft, the AAP approved baby equipment impregnated with Microban, and the carpet I had steam cleaned myself with scalding hot water in an effort to eradicate all traces of pestilence left behind by former occupants. I thought about the pediatrician I had already selected and the vaccinations I had already scheduled. As I thought about these things the happiness I usually felt was replaced deep and aching sadness. I was ashamed at how I had taken them for granted, and I was angry that anyone should have to live the way these people do. But there was also a creeping melancholy and a little resentfulness at having my warm and comfortable holiday marred by such ugliness. The baby kicked hard as if to punctuate these thoughts.

"Here we are!" my mother-in-law chirped brightly.

I wondered at her cheerful tone. Can't she see what is all around her? She opened the trunk and extracted bags and boxes which she divided among us. I got two enormous shopping bags from Sears. My unpregnant sister-in-law got a huge plastic crate full of canned and dry goods, with a large foil covered platter balanced on top. My mother-in-law carried an unwieldy autumn floral arrangement and several gaily wrapped gifts.

She knocked on the weathered door and called out, "Miss Jimmy? It's Linda. Can we come in?"

There came no reply, but after a few moments the door creaked slowly open, and a wizened face peered out into the night. In a quavering but emphatic voice she exclaimed over God's goodness at bringing her visitors and flung the door open wide in welcome. We traipsed in and laid our spoils down on a bed covered with an old chenille spread. Aside from a listing bureau, several mismatched chairs, and a small drop leaf table, there were no other furnishings in the ramshackle little room.

She embraced my companions, and as I turned to introduce myself I stopped and stared. Standing before me was the personification of Mother Abigail. So precisely did her appearance match my mental image of the fictional character that I was momentarily speechless, and I know that my jaw dropped open as I studied her.

Her sparse hair was gathered into a tiny little bun atop her cottony head. Her kindly brown face was heavily lined and her smile revealed pink and toothless gums. Her faded robe was belted beneath her low slung bosom, and fuzzy slippers matted with age peeped out from beneath the frayed hem. She was diminutive, but stood ramrod straight. Her eyes, though hooded by prodigiously wrinkled lids, twinkled with humor and intelligence. It was impossible to guess her age. She was both infantile and ancient; an ageless and sexless being that exuded quiet dignity despite her squalid surroundings.

"So, this is Linda's first grandbaby." she said. "That is a blessed thing."

She laid a gnarled hand upon my belly and caressed the bump of my baby's behind. I am not the sort of person who encourages or cultivates physical contact with strangers. So ordinarily, uninvited belly fondling, which is disconcertingly common, would arouse irritation and resentment in me. Her touch however, was curiously comforting and I did not object as she continued to follow the contours of my baby's body with her warm and capable feeling hands. She cupped them together just above my pubis, cradling the baby's head almost as if in preparation for gently coaxing the tiny form from my body.

She looked me in the eyes and said "God has given you a strong and healthy boy. He is good to you, child."

She held my gaze as I weighed her words. She couldn't know how I struggled with faith. She couldn't know that I felt like a fish out of water in the South, where religion is a way of life and beliefs are handed down from generation to generation like a wedding gown or baby blanket, cherished, unchanging and uncontested. But I felt as if somehow, she did know.

Since my unborn baby had stubbornly refused to reveal its sex on the ultrasound, I did not know if her assertion in that regard was correct, but again, I had the uncanny feeling that she had not simply hazarded a guess, but rather stated an unequivocal truth. I admonished myself for being taken in by such foolishness. She had a 50% chance of guessing correctly after all. She couldn't see into my womb or my soul, I reasoned. And yet, the feeling persisted.

After serving us hot tea and butter cookies from a battered tin, the rest of the visit was spent examining the treasures we had brought. Her thin and faded robe was exchanged for one that was brightly colored and heavily quilted. One bag yielded several sets of fleecy sweats, an array of matching turtlenecks, a multitude of flannel nightgowns, sturdy cotton underwear, heavy woolen socks, and a pair of thick soled house shoes that made her sigh with pleasure. The other bag contained two new pillows and an electric blanket with dual controls. There were creams and lotions and soaps that made her giggle like a young girl, and necessities such as toothpaste, deodorant and Fixodent. Even the toilet paper was exclaimed over, and she allowed that her tough black fanny wasn't accustomed to quilted softness.

I was humbled watching her, and a little surprised at myself. I am not by nature a histrionic person, nor am I often given to flights of fancy. But this tiny, shabby little black woman had affected me deeply, and I didn't know why. Reflecting on it years later I came up with the same ridiculous answer that struck me that day. Neither skepticism nor pragmatism could dispel the notion that there was something otherworldly about her; a spark of divinity that could not be diminished by her poverty.

When it was time to leave, she hugged us all and said "Praise Jesus, for he has truly blessed me today."

Linda didn't seem to mind that Jesus was getting the credit for her generosity, though I knew that she had spent many hours choosing things that would see Miss Jimmy through the winter in her drafty, decaying old house and paid for it all herself. It didn't seem quite fair that she received no thanks for her effort.

But Linda only smiled and said "Jesus can't help blessing you Miss Jimmy."

She patted my stomach once more and murmured "Bless this baby Lord, that he may do thy service."

We left, and several months later I gave birth to a baby boy, seven weeks early. The neonatal team was standing by, ready to deliver life saving measures to my premature infant. They didn't hang around for long, however. My son was a whopping 5 lbs. 14 oz. and came out complaining loudly about the state of things. After they had established that he was breathing well, I was allowed to nurse him. He latched on easily and maintained a vice grip on one breast or the other for most of the next two weeks. He was indeed, strong and healthy.

After the hubbub had died down and I was alone with my baby, I thought of Miss Jimmy, who had died quietly in her bed several weeks earlier. I never saw her again, and she never met my son. I had envisioned placing him in her thin arms and watching her face as she cooed to him. I couldn’t have said why I felt compelled to take him back to her, but I was gripped by inexplicable sorrow at not being able to do so. I tried to console myself with the knowledge that he had already been touched by her.

I return to the present with a start. My son is talking to me, but it takes me a moment to clear my head enough to respond to him.

"Mom. Mom. Mom! Why are you staring at that old house?"

"You and I went there once." I reply. "Nanny took us there to see a lady."

"The one who predicted I would be a boy?" he asks. He knows the story well.

"Yes, that's the one."

"Was she a sorceress?" asks my youngest.

"No." says my oldest. "She was an angel."

I never told him that. I look at my husband who shrugs. He's been around this stuff his whole life and doesn't find it strange at all.

"Maybe." I say. "Maybe she was."

(This story is mostly true. There are embellishments here and there, mostly to fill in places where my memory is vague or missing. I have struggled to write this for three days, and still do not feel that I did an adequate job describing her, her circumstances, and the way that she affected me. I leave it to you to decide if I told the story well.)

*Mother Abigail is a fictional character in the novel The Stand, by Stephen King. In this tale of good versus evil, Mother Abigail is the personification of good, and a sort of female Moses who leads her people to the promised land.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

And now....

....back to your regularly scheduled blog.

Spring Break is over, and the recovery efforts are in full swing here at B.A. central. Yes, the hubster and the offspring will merrily return to work and school (perhaps merrily is overstating it a just a bit) leaving me to deal with vacation aftermath. They will depart from a home in hopeless disarray and return to find it magically put in order. They will leave behind piles of laundry caked with cave mud and the filth of public places and return to find drawers full of April fresh and neatly folded apparel just waiting to be dirtied again. They will not give a second thought to how this miracle was wrought, they will simply accept it as the right and just order of things.

Despite the inevitable consequences of a 7 days spent entirely at leisure, I have to say that the week was extremely enjoyable. We had planned activities every day and the weather cooperated beautifully. Our week culminated with an overnight trip to Chattanooga, TN. We splurged on a suite at the historic Chattanooga Choo-Choo hotel, and my children were duly impressed. My youngest, however, was not quite satisfied. He kept asking where the "awesome" rooms were. My husband patiently explained to him that we had the best room in the hotel, but he was not convinced. Finally, we realized that he interpreted the word "suite" to mean "sweet". As in "Dude...that's totally sa-weeeeet." In his world, awesome is a step above sweet, and so he assumed that there were rooms of even greater luxury that he was being denied. What's that old expression...."Champagne taste on a beer budget"?? He aspires to be a bestselling author, and I certainly hope he achieves that dream. It's going to take a lot of cash to support his chosen lifestyle.

So, may take a couple days before I am sufficiently recovered to post anything worth reading, but after spending most of the week among the great unwashed, I have plenty of things to write about. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Missing Link

Short Explanation: Very shortly after I made my blog public, some comic book reading pseudo adult tool happened upon it and took umbrage. He put a link to my blog in a post criticizing my verbosity. Considering the mostly monosyllabic content of his blog, it was a bitter pill to swallo. Anyway, this was my way of flippin him a big fat bird, figuratively speaking. I didn't name him by name or link to his blog, but it made me feel better. Jerkwad. No, it's not profound or erudite, but it still makes me feel better and I still think it's funny. I think everyone has a person like this in their life and we all wonder what is wrong with him, don't we?

Missing Link

WOW. My glimpse into the blogger realm has given me a disconcerting reality check, which I suppose only another long married woman who mostly communes with long married men can relate to. I rarely encounter single men who can legally have sex with me, so my knowledge of them is, understandly, limited.

The way I think of them is largely determined by how they are woven into the fabric of my life; The handsome but effeminate school teacher, the slack jawed but admirably built weight instructor, the pierced and scowling yet scholarly looking bookstore clerk, the painstakingly professional yet inexplicably shady accountant/insurance salesman/grocery store manager...these are all distinctly asexual manifestations of maledom who cross my path with frequency, but to whom I pay scant attention, since they do not belong to the core of my reality. They exist only on the fringes of my life.

Oh yes, there is the occasional exception; a distinctive male who, by virtue of transcendant beauty, brawn or brains, imprints himself upon one's consciousness and insinuates himself into one's thoughts despite repeated admonitions to one's self that one is a happily married woman, and that hasty, clandestine sex in a Little League dugout would not be as good as it sounds, or that relocating to Hollywood to accomodate a career based mostly upon the ability to mash other people into a pulp would be a lark, but would ultimately grow stale. But these are momentary flights of fancy, which usually fade amid the hustle and bustle of domesticity and only occasionally rear up to remind one that the brain is indeed, the largest erogeneous zone.

But, as mentioned above, there is another breed of male afoot; a Missing Link of sorts, bridging the gap between adolescence and adulthood. A perplexing and tragic man-child lurking on the edges of chat rooms, blogs and RPGs everywhere; one whom I thought had been left behind in the "angst ridden social pariah occult dabbling uber geek" phase of my rebellious pseudo-punk teenage years. It seems he still exists in a weird sort of time warp...a twenty or thirty something nod to Peter Pan'dom.

This male still lives with one or both of his parents, which allows him to devote all of his income to his teal blue T-top Trans-Am, and support his D&D habit. It also gives him an out should he actually get farther than "I like D&D and I play in a band", because he is secretly afraid of women. He adorns his walls with posters of Christy Brinkley, Loni Anderson, and Justine Bateman. He wonders why he can't meet a girl like them. He works at a retail or fast food establishment. This gives him the flexibility he needs to go on Gigs with his REO Speedwagon Tribute band, and the freedom to wear his hair in a ponytail. He thinks he might like to be Manager someday, but isn't sure his busy schedule allows for that kind of commitment. His favorite movies are Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Tron, and Dune in that order. He thinks that The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is the Great American Novel, and he considers Ponderosa 4 star dining.

Why this male has failed to evolve beyond adolescence is a mystery. Since these things are usually blamed on the mother, we could theorize that she couldn't bring herself to cut the apron strings and instead bound her offspring to her with fierce determination and a never ending supply of softdrinks, Doritos and MTV. Or, we could safely assume that he is simply lazy, immature, and shamelessly willing to take advantage of the guilt that kicking his freeloading ass out would cause his parents, who undoubtedly love him despite the fact that he is milking them dry and waiting around to inherit the old homestead which he can then sell to finance a move to Hollywood where he can pursue a record deal. But really, who knows?

What I do know, is that they can be found in shocking abundance on the World Wide Web. Ladies, take care that you do not fall prey to this wolf in sheep's clothing, or independant, well-adjusted adult's clothing, as the case may be. Know your enemy and gaurd yourself well. And above all, if you hear the phrase "I have a band" run screaming in the other direction as fast and as far as you possibly can.

(Dedicated to...well hell, you know who you are. And yes, you should repent, heavily. )