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, June 30, 2006

The Love of the Game

The Allstar season is coming to a close, and my boys have done well, especially considering that more than half of them have never played at this level of competition before. They've won plenty of games, some of them incredibly close.

The last game they played was tied up at 5 to 5 for three innings. They finally lost in the ninth inning (normal game is 6) after nearly winning when bases were loaded with no outs. The batter smacked the ball deep into center field. It was a beautiful, solid, satifsfying hit. But the center fielder leapt into the air and made an incredible catch. The kid on third base was given the signal to steal home, but forgot to tag up at third, and was called out. The next batter struck out and the opposing team scored a run to win the game. Many of the games they played were equally close and equally exciting. They have nothing to be ashamed of. But of course, all they see, is that they didn't take any of the tournaments they played in.

They did however, bring home a trophy for Sportsmanship. The boys were not particularly impressed but I am incredibly proud of them. Allstar ball can get UGLY. I have seen Coaches, parents and players alike engage in some incredibly unsporstmanlike behavior. I have seen kindly looking grandparents ejected. But our boys and our Coaches have gained a name for themselves this summer for their positive attitude, their sportsmanlike conduct, and their love of the game. Our parents have become known for the same. At our tournament this weekend, we had a lot to contend with. But still we managed to convey to our guests that they were welcome, and they noticed. The KBA president was flooded with calls and emails about how visiting teams were treated and complimented all of us on a job well done. That's a pretty good feeling.

At the District Tournament our boys were playing a team that was known to be pretty hard to beat. At one point, the Coach of the team who would be playing the winner of our game approached husband and informed him that a kid on the team opposing us was wearing the wrong color socks. According to Dizzy Dean rules, this is a violation and we could have won the game on that technicality. The coach did not want to play the other team, he wanted to play us and so, took it upon himself to kindly inform husband of the sock problem. Husband looked him in the eye and told him that we do not choose to win that way. We lost that game, but in my opinion we came out ahead for not having sacrificed our values to win. I'm incredibly proud of my husband for setting that kind of example for our boys. And I'm gratified that the boys understood and supported husband on his decision.

As you might have guessed from this post, I was a little downhearted after our tournament. But I've had some time to reflect and I've realized that our season has not been a failure at all. Because our boys learned how to hold their head high when they gave it their all and to be proud of themselves even if they didn't win. They learned that good sportsmanship is noticed and rewarded. They learned that people they look up to will not win at all costs if the price has to be paid with principles they hold dear. They learned that the love of the game is enough. We have won in all the ways it is important to win.

So, we are going to the World Series. Several families have agreed to help those who can't afford to go. We may not win. We may not even place. But I wouldn't go with any other team if I had the choice.

World Series, here we come.

UPDATE: State Tournament Saturday July 1. We played two games. Won the first game 8 to 5. Second game was called in the fourth inning because we were winning 19 to 4.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

To Repent or Not To Repent

I like to go to Post Secret every now and then. Sometimes I feel touched, sometimes I feel sad, and sometimes, I feel the overwhelming need to confess a secret of my own. The thing is, I don't really have one. I have thought about it many times but I can't really think of anything to admit that would be as moving as the things I read on PostSecret. Nothing I have to admit is consequential enough to really mean anything to anyone else.

The one thing I have done that I am really ashamed of, I am not really sorry for. Have you ever done something you knew was very very wrong, but for which you were not remorseful?

When I was in highschool, I met R. He was tall and dark and being new, somewhat mysterious. I was instantly attracted to him. But he was seeing another girl at the time (should have caught a clue from that) and I refused to go out with him because of it. He told me they broke up and we began dating. I realized when she hit me over the head with a broom that he hadn't been entirely truthful about things. And still, I spent the next six years of my life with the bonehead. We moved to Georgia so he could go to college. I left my home and my family and moved 900 miles away to work while he went to school. The plan was, of course, that after he got his degree, he would support us while I went to school. Unfortunately, that's not quite how things worked out.

Why? Because we met G and K. They were a married couple who were quite a bit older than us. We thought they were the epitome of sophistication. Looking back I realize that they were really just middle aged losers with a penchant for good pot and an aversion to honest work. They would much rather hang out in the hot tub listening to Motley Crue and smoking themselves senseless. Nevertheless, I became best friends with K, and R became best friends with G. The four of us did everything together. We went to concerts, we went to strip clubs, we went to Spring Break and Mardis Gras. We lived La Vida Loca baby.

On the surface, it was all fun and games. But there was this nagging doubt that I kept pushing to the back of mind, refusing to acknowledge. But I knew it was there. And one day, when I found out R and K were sleeping together, I realized the folly of ignoring that inner voice and that feeling in the gut. My fiancee and my best friend were having an affair, literally, right beneath my nose and that of her husband. During her tearful confession I learned that their very first sexual encounter occurred in the kitchen of G and K's house while G and I were in the living room. It was New Year's Eve, and we had just finished toasting the new year. Auspicious, no?

For an entire year I let R talk me into believing he had broken off all contact with her. I believed him when he said it wouldn't happen again, even after I caught him with her. Again. And again. And again. The night another friend called me and said R was in a restaurant with K celebrating her birthday, I had finally had enough. I didn't buy his excuse about her being "lonely" because G had divorced her, and that he was just trying to be a "good friend". I wanted to. Oh how I wanted to believe him! But I couldn't swallow his lies any longer. I left him and took nothing but my clothes, a few personal belongings, and....a diary of hers that she had given him as a gift. It contained all her most secret thoughts; her sexual fantasies, their sexual exploits, her hopes for their future together, her feelings about me and how she sometimes fantasized about seeing me bleed. He thought he had hidden it pretty well the big Dipshit.

I let everybody we knew read this diary. I gave it to another friend who let all his army buddies read it. It was a pretty gripping read and those with whom I shared it devoured it like a Danielle Steele novel. I wanted to hurt her as she had hurt me. I wanted her to PAY for what she had done. Not just for sleeping with my fiancee, but for making me doubt my own worth and blame myself for not making him happy enough. You can imagine how much satisfaction I derived from the snickers and guffaws and her resultant humiliation. It was a horrible thing to do. And yet, even recognizing that, I cannot be truly penitent.

They are married now, and in hindsight I realize he and I would never have been happy together. What happened hurt, but it was really for the best. I moved on and made a life with a man worth ten of him, who has never, ever given me reason not to trust him. But I will never forget how I almost let him get away, because I was so wounded that I didn't think I'd ever be able to trust another man ever again. Even after I finally banished him from my life, R and his philandering continued to wreak havoc on it. Does any man really understand the kind of emotional damage he does to a woman when he is unfaithful? Does he understand that the repercussions last long after the thrill of conquest has passed? I don't think so.

I should repent for that awful deed, but....isn't remorse an essential component of repentance? I am not proud of having done something so mean and spiteful and wrong. But I can't honestly be sorry. And that is my confession. I am not sorry for that horrible vengeful thing I did fifteen years ago when my heart and soul were raw and bleeding.

I rarely think about R any more, but when I do, the anger is mostly gone. God, we were so young. What 21 year old guy posesses the emotional maturity to build and sustain a healthy long term relationship? I know there are some, but for the most part, young men are just giant walking penises. The wisdom and perspective I have gained over the years have helped me understand that his dysfunctional relationship with his father drove him to do things which assured him of his value as a human being. Successfully seducing women made him feel strong and powerful when his father made him feel weak and small.

I used to think that R would eventually do to K what he did to me, and it gave me a measure of satisfaction to know that Karma would get her in the end. But although I am not sorry for what I did back then, I no longer hope that their relationship is torn apart by infidelity. I hope they are happy. I hope he has found peace. I hope she never has to feel as sick and scared and sad as I did when they betrayed me. I hope she never has reason to question her worth as a woman and a human being. I hope...they are happy.

Maybe I will write Post Secret afterall.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Blogger, Thy name is Patsy

I consider myself a fairly savvy person. I left home at 18 and I learned some hard but valuable lessons pretty early in life. Subsequent experiences have honed my ability to sniff out a crook, a scheme or a scam and successfully avoid being a victim.

Shortly before we were married, my husband went to renew his driver's license. He was arrested on the spot. A former roommate had stolen personal documents, assumed his identity and gone on a petty crime spree that took us months to get straightened out.

A word to the wise: If someone steals your identity, the onus is on you to prove that you are yourself and the adage "Innocent until proven guilty" is more useful in theory than in practice. Especially if the judge is a backwoods tyrant who is suspicious of anyone not born and raised in the holler. Another word to the wise: If you find yourself before the Hon. Harry T. Hayseed, affect a twang and pepper your speech liberally with "ain't" and "ya'll". If my husband hadn't been fluent in Yokel, he would probably still be rotting in that single cell jail, subsisting on chitlins and fatback.

Thanks to that experience, we shred all of our personal documents religiously. We don't leave outgoing mail in the mailbox overnight. We don't use our social security numbers as our driver's license number. We check our credit history regularly for suspicious activity. We keep our personal documents such as birth certificates, passports, and social security cards, under lock and key. When a cashier inquires if she/he may have my phone number, address, or zip code, I politely decline. I always carry my purse crossways over my shoulder and husband keeps his wallet in his front pocket. I discard mail that says "Do not discard" and I leave mail that says "Urgent! Open Immediately!" unopened.

As far as the internet is concerned, I consider myself well informed and I employ various security measures to keep our confidential information as safe as possible. I didn't fall for that eBay thing. I didn't fall for that Nigerian thing. I didn't fall for that Paypal thing. I don't open emails just because they address me by name and have a cute little personal greeting in the subject line. I know that Javier is not emailing me to tell me that "Mom says Hi".

I have never excercised caution when sniffing perfume, and I did not stop using my Swiffer Wet Jet. In fact, any email that has "This is really scary/heartwarming/funny!" in the subject line gets immediately deleted. Most people know not to forward me stuff. The few who do, know me well enough to be confident that I really will find it funny or heartwarming and are cognizant of the consequences if I don't.

However, one family acquaintance insisted on sending me every email myth out there, and finally, I was compelled to send her the link to a Snopes article debunking the most recent one. It involved a class of sixth graders trying to track an email's progress through the internet. Most of us who have even a molecule of understanding about the internet know that this is impossible. Nevertheless, she insisted that she had actually called the schoolteacher in question and verified the story. I did not accuse her of telling a bold faced lie, but merely suggested that perhaps the Snopes people would like to talk to this teacher so they could change the status of this myth on their website.

I don't hear from her anymore.

So, anyway, I'm no Patsy. Thererfore, it really hurts my pride to admit that recently, I was taken in by one of those internet things, and almost taken in by an email scam.

It seems that the Tiger Mother adopts Weiner Pig Babies story is hoax. I know. Shocking. And sad. We all felt a little bit of kinship with that Tiger Mother, didn't we? We could relate to her. And we liked feeling good about something. We liked believing in the innocence that our animals friends possess and the acceptance that they are capable of. Here is the real story. It's a little sad and sordid and frankly, my faith in makind is a somewhat shaken by it. It's true that nobody was really harmed by this ruse. Or were they? Don't these kinds of hoaxes further erode our already diminishing capacity for trusting our fellow man? I think they do.

The other one is even more embarrassing to admit, because the success of scams like these relies largely on the degree of arrogance that people possess. One can conclude then, that my own egotism is to blame for my willingness to believe something that I might have otherwise distrusted immediately. However, I soothe my wounded pride with the fact that unlike other scams, it is marginally more believable.

I received the following in my inbox several days ago:

From: Chad Horton
Subject: Re: Regarding your Blog


I found your Blog and figured this might interest you: you can offer your Blog to our users and earn money every month on a reoccurring basis. We have a growing number of content providers like yourself, some of whom are currently earning significant income.

Our social network of 50 million users worldwide allows you to present your Blogs or other content in what we call "Pods". Your Blog posts are pulled automatically from Blogger, Xanga, or LiveJournal and updated on our site. You retain the rights to all your content, and there is no need to make any changes to the way you blog. Simply update your blog as you normally would, and the new content is dynamically displayed on our site.

Our users that add your blog to their homepages pay you a subscription fee through their mobile phones. There is a 3-way revenue share model in place between you, the mobile phone operators, and You can also send text messages to your subscribers to inform them of new content or exciting updates. Starting in August, your blog will also be available on our users’ mobile phones.

It's very easy to get started, and it will take you no longer than 5 minutes. All you need to do to upload your blog is visit the Blog Wizard at and follow the 3 easy steps: create a title and description, provide your blog account info, and set the price. It really takes less than 5 minutes.

We are also offering an incentive to help new providers to get started. In addition to the standard revenue share, each Pod published from June 1-30 that reaches 15 users in 30 days will receive a $100 bonus.

If you have questions or would like me to walk you through publishing your blog, please suggest a date and time that I may contact you by phone. Otherwise, feel free to get started!

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards,

Chad Horton
Pod Development Team Inc.
255 G Street, #723 | San Diego, CA, 92101 | USA

I deleted it, not because I thought it was a scam, but because I just didn't have time to deal with it. I had never heard of, so I had no reason to believe it was not legit. I got this a few days later, and I began to think maybe it might be worth looking into. I mean, obviously, they thought my blog was worthy enough to persue, right? Jeez, how eye rollingly narcisstic can a person be?


I hope everything is going well for you. I have not heard back from you in regards to my first two emails. I am wondering if you are interested in importing your existing, Xanga, or LiveJournal blog into an Blog Pod. Please let me know if you need help, or if you even plan on doing this in the future so that I do not bother you anymore. My contact information is below.

I look forward to hearing from you. Have a great week!

Best Regards,

Chad Horton
Blog Pod Development Team Inc.
255 G Street, #723 | San Diego, CA, 92101 | USA

However, something must have penetrated my haze of self-importance, because my bullshit meter started twitching. I asked husband what he thought, and he found this.

So, bloggers beware. You have been warned.

Frankly, I think scammers, spammers and crooks should be taken out and strung up by their nut hair. Especially the ones who target those not equipped to make informed decisions, such as the eldery, the innocent (apparently, the SMS blog scam is really aimed at teens with blogs and mobile phones...yet another reason my son doesn't need a cell phone or an email address.) and the, umm...egotistical.

I suddenly feel even more jaded than before. Sometimes I wonder if the human race will survive the internet. I suppose we will, since we have survived other seemingly insurmountable social evils, but I wonder at the cost. I believe the price will be paid in trust, which will become as extinct as the many species man has extinguished through his arrogance and avarice.

Mr. Horton, get a job.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Failure Sucks

As you may or may not know, this weekend, my oldest son's baseball team hosted a tournament at our park. What this means is that team parents are responsible for every single thing that is in any way related to baseball games. Umpires, game scheduling, team seeding, field dressing, concession buying and selling, bathroom cleaning, trash removal, trophy awarding, parking and enforcing the no cooler rule.

Often, teams will put on a tournament together, but our Coach, whom I love, but with whom I often disagree, thought it would be better to do it ourselves so we would not have to split the proceeds. So, 11 parents, many with other children participating in summer sports, had to put on a five day tournament single-handedly. It was exhausting. It was sheer, unadulterated hell.

The Moms slogged through mud and rain between our two concession stands and tried to keep the players and siblings dry. They stood over a hot grille and a spitting fryer in crushing heat and humidity. They wiped up shit. They unplugged toilets. They picked sanitary products up off of the restroom floor. At one point, a tornado passed through only a couple miles away from where we were. The resultant wind lifted our makeshift concession tent off the ground, and blew all the candy, chips, peanuts, and sunflower seeds all over the park. One poor Mom was manning it all by herself at the time. Luckily, quite a few kind spectators rushed to help her and everything turned out okay. But it was a big mess to clean up.

The Dads worked from dawn until well after dark trying to keep the fields dry and safe so that games could resume. They raked red mud and spread megatons of quick dry. They all ended up with bleeding blisters and excruciating back spasms.

And after all that work, we failed to raise the total amount necessary to take our boys to the World Series. It rained almost the entire weekend, which drastically affected our concession sales, as well as the proceeds from the other venues I had set up. The Speed Pitch, (kids have their pitches measured with a radar gun) which I had planned to go on all weekend, and which I was counting on to net a fair amount of cash, could only take place for a total of about two hours.

The jumpy thing never showed up. I still don't know why. I haven't had time to call and ask. My snow cone people had a scheduling snafu and weren't able to make it. My action photgrapher showed up, but some of his staff had a motorcycle crash on the day we had the most games scheduled, so only a few got shot.

AND...we had to pay the Umpires a $35 per game, two Umpires per game. That's a lot of cash outlay.

In the end, we did cover expenses and ended up with a little left over. But it wasn't nearly enough to make it worth all the time and effort we invested. We fell about $3,000 short of our $12,000 goal. The World Series starts July 7 and we have District Championships this weekend. We will have no time to do another car wash, or a hot dog sale, or sell more raffle tickets. We're screwed.

Several of the boys on the team are from families who cannot afford the travel and hotel expenses to stay there for a week. If they don't go, nobody goes, because we won't have a full team.

I feel like this is my fault, even though rationally I know it's not, so I'm feeling really shitty, but I'm also damned mad. It's not fair that they have practiced and played sometimes 3 games a day several days in a row in this goddamned Georgia heat or pouring rain for months, only to be told that they can't go to the World Fricken Series.

I'm mad that my team parents didn't bring in more sponsorships when they knew we had kids who really needed everyone to step up. I'm mad that the stupid ass weather couldn't just cooperate for ONCE. I'm mad that teams attending the tournament griped about our no cooler rule (which is pretty standard at tournaments) and then ordered pizza instead of buying our hamburgers to spite us. We didn't charge a gate fee and we didn't charge for parking (which is also standard at tournaments) and they still couldn't buy a fucking hot dog.

Do you know how many tournaments I have attended this summer and happily forked over a $7 per person per day gate fee for myself and Diminutive One and ate crappy meat by-product franks, and drank pissy tasting bottled water that some Lube Oil place donated and that they sold for $2 a bottle and did it with a fucking smile because it's for the KIDS???

So, umm, remember all the heartwarming crap I said about baseball? Forget all that. I fucking hate baseball.

And I hope that bitch from Buckhead that wore her Coach sandals to the game had to throw them away and her snotty hellspawn that made sport out of being mean to Diminutive One who just wanted someone to play with while his mother was basically neglecting him to man the fryer get hit by a schoolbus or something. Okay, no I don't. Well, maybe just one of those short busses.

I'm going to take a hot bath. I may stay in there until the World Series is over. Whomever said that failure builds character never had to tell 11 11 year old boys that they are not going to the World Series.


(Mom, I am Paypal'ing you $2 for the 8 really bad swears in this post, but I'm too depressed right now to repent.)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Cat on a Sexually Confused Tin Roof

We have three cats. I know, that sounds like a lot of cats, but I figure I don't qualify for crazy cat lady status until we have 15 or more. And, it really was an accident. "How does one accidentally end up with three cats?" you may ask. Its a fair question.

I have one male orange tabby who is about 6 years old. He is a big old marshmallow of a cat; meaning, he is a lover and not a fighter. However, fight he does if necessary. He has tangled with raccoons, possums, dogs, other cats, and something that bit right through him but miraculously did not snap his spine in two. The vet actually keeps a wound file on him. Recently, he was bitten and since it wasn't a particularly bad bite, I thought I could treat it myself. It healed just fine, or so I thought. Several weeks later, his leg swelled up and it was found that he had an abscess that had been festering below the surface of his seemingly well healed wound. It was bad. He had to have surgery to the tune of $1200. That's TWELVE. HUNDRED. DOLLARS.

People have said, "If that was my cat, I'd have had to let him die." and "There's no way I would spend that kind of money on a cat." and "You've got to be kidding me." with a look that would have been more appropriate had I said that I recently purchased some Oceanfront property in Oklahoma.

But my kids love him and he loves them. When my youngest had surgery in February, Chester was extremely concerned. He crawled up beside him on the circa 1995 teal green sofa and watched over Diminutive One until he came out of the anaesthetic stupor. Even then, he rarely left his side except to eat or drink. Here is how they spent much of the next two weeks:

Just prior to all of this, our other cat, who is a young male orange tabby, slipped out when my kids opened the garage door to get out their bikes. Our garage is attached, and the door leading to the garage from the house was left ajar. I'm not pointing fingers, but I'm pretty sure someone under five feet tall was the culprit, which rules out three of the four of us. Bo has escaped before, but never stayed gone longer than a few days. He has a micro chip, a discerning palate, and an extremly indolent nature, (saying he is "lazy" is like saying Liberace is "effeminate") so we never worried about it too much. But this time, he stayed gone and after exhausting every avenue to find him, we had to face that he had probably met with a bad end somehow.

The kids were inconsolable. Pre-pubescent one was heartbroken at the loss of his bed buddy and Diminutive one was wracked with guilt.

During their bereavement, we had to return to the vet to have Chester's stitches removed. And there in the lobby, in a cage that was ridiculously gargantuan for its tiny occupant, was a scraggly, scrawny 10 week old carbon copy of Chester. He had just arrived from the Fulton County Animal Shelter, which was bursting at the seams with cats and kittens, and was desperately farming them out to Metro area veterinary clinics hoping to find them a home. From the beginning, it was clear that he had sass. Though he looked bedraggled and forlorn, his playful spirit asserted itself as we watched him play.

Of course my children immediately commenced begging. They played upon my guilt and exploited their grief by proposing that a new kitten would help them get over their loss. He came home with us later that day. We christened him "Leo" because he has the heart of a lion. When confronted by an unamused Chester, who is roughly 32 times his size, he did not run or cower. He puffed up every hair on his scrawny little hide and stood his ground.

Of course, shortly thereafter, Bo reappeared looking none the worse for wear after being gone nearly a month. Voila. Three cats. All male. All orange tabby. Each with their own unique personality.

Bo, being only a year old, had always tried to engage Chester in the kind of juvenile horseplay that young males of every species seem to love. But Chester, the venerated elder, usually declined, except on rare occasions when the thought nobody was watching. If ever he was caught actually playing, he would stop immediately and nonchalantly saunter off, as if to give the impression that the very idea was laughable. He would all but snort in derision. Needless to say, Bo was delighted to find that Leo was more than happy to run and jump and fight and play. They became fast friends.

Soon I noticed that sometimes, Bo would feign oblivion as Leo stalked him, and then open himself up to attack. Once "caught" he would simply lie still while Leo gnawed on his jugular. He would roll over and expose his belly, encouraging Leo to eviscerate him. Then he would turn the tables and pin Leo beneath him. With a lick, he would release him, and then obligingly become the prey once more. I realized he was teaching Leo to "hunt".

When we first brought Leo home, he would overeat to the point of being ill. He bolted his food and then wailed piteously until it all came back up in much the same condition as it went down. Bo began monitoring Leo's intake. When he felt that Leo had reached maximum capacity, he would gently nudge him from the bowl. Leo has not vomited for several weeks now. Obviously, the lesson has sunk in. Thank goodness, because we were all growing weary of being constantly on the lookout for piles of steaming, orange, gelatinous cat vomit.

Recently, I found the two of them basking in a patch of sunshine near the kitchen door. Bo was bathing Leo. I have never seen a male cat bathe another cat. He started at the ears, and worked his way down methodically, pausing occasionally to worry dilligently at a particularly grimy spot. Tranquilized by the rythmic lapping, desperately fighting to stay awake, Leo's eyes drifted shut and his head drooped, only to jerk upright a moment later. That happened time and time again. It was so much like a human child that I had to laugh. I can't count the number of times I stroked my own children just so, and watched with weary satisfaction as they lost the battle against sleep.

Just the other day, Bo got out again. I wondered if we would ever see him again. To my surprise, he was at the back door the next morning, anxiously peering in. The first thing he did was go in search of Leo. He would not eat or drink until he found Leo asleep in a laundry basket upstairs. He sniffed, he licked, and apparently satisfied, he headed downstairs for a hearty breakfast.

The only conclusion I can draw is that Bo believes he is Leo's mother. What else would cause a male of a species known for it's solitary and independant nature, to lavish such care and attention upon a companion? Is it possible that the absence of male reproductive organs is causing some kind of gender identity crisis? I really don't know. But if he starts sitting down to pee or flirting with the brawny mouser next door, I'm calling someone.

((picture coming soon))

Friday, June 23, 2006


"Mid-Life Crisis"

Webster's Defines Mid Life Crisis as "a period of psychological doubt and anxiety that some people experience in middle age."

In my callous, ego-centric and myopic youth, I often chuckled derisively at the sight of a balding fiftiesh man nattily attired and driving a red hot muscle car down the ineterstate with the top down, heedless of his comb-over flapping comically in the wind; a banner proclaiming his dotage to the world. "Get a Life, Grandpa" I would mutter, more shaken than I cared to admit at the glaring reminder that youth is fleeting and mortality looms. I have death issues, you see.

If I had looked more closely, with more experienced eyes, and without the self absorption that is the hallmark of youth, I would have seen his smile of utter contentment and confident indifference. I would have seen someone high on life, and quite clearly not searching for his lost identity or mourning his misspent youth, but rather, enjoying the just rewards for a life of hard work and sacrifice.

In other words...that car is not a metaphor for anything other than the fact that for the first time in his life, he can afford the toys he has always dreamed of. He has no children bleeding him dry, his mortgage is paid, and his nest nicely feathered. He has the cash to buy what he wants, and he has the cahones to drive it with no excuses or apologies.

As I edge ever closer to forty, a prospect that would once have had me curled up in the fetal position with my thumb in my mouth, clutching a jar of Creme de La Mer to my weatherbeaten breast, I realize that it isn't middle age that's a time of crisis. On the I get older, the easier things become. If I am honest I have to admit that while I certainly don't relish the thought of growing old, nor would I voluntarily return to those years of twenty something angst and uncertainty.

Its been a long time since I had to survive on condiment sandwiches and kool-aid until payday. Or wonder if that guy I'm seeing is going to disappear like a fart in the wind exactly 3 seconds after copulation. Or ponder why my new infant takes more comfort from the roar of the vacuum than the beat of his mother's heart, and why that feels like my fault. Undoubtedly, such tribulation built my character and forged me into the adult I am today, for which I am duly grateful.

But.....I'm kinda liking where I'm at. And I most assuredly am not experiencing any psychological doubt beyond whether I really have the butt for low rise boot cut jeans.

For that reason, I am submitting the following for the kind people at Webster's:

Dear Sirs:

I submit that the term "Mid-Life Crisis" is an egregious and misleading misnomer. I would like to respectfully request that it be revised as follows:

"Mid-life Respite"

I introduce the following visual aid to illustrate my point. Dude looks pretty happy to me.

Thank you for your kind consideration of this matter.

Sincerely Yours,
Blog Antagonist; eagerly awaiting Mid-Life Respite

(Dedicated to bloggers compelled to lament ad nauseum about getting old, including yours truly.

"Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul." ~Samuel Ullman

Embrace it or repent.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Serenity... not a complicated word, but it's a complicated concept. I think that serenity is difficult to find in the ever increasing pace of modern life. I know that it has eluded me during moments of desperate, searching need.

Yesterday, I found serenity in an unlikely place, at an unlikely time, in a throng of people, assaulted by the aroma of bodies marinated in the viscous Georgia heat, and air permeated by the redolence of a just opened tin of Fancy Feast.

As I stood in front of a mammoth tank while strains of conspicously soothing music issued from speakers cleverly disguised as coral, I was mesmerized by the majesty of four Beluga whales. The crowds and the stench and the chaos receded and I was alone with these beautiful noble beasts. They played and cavorted and danced a sinuous ballet to music unheard by human ears; oblivious to all the woes that mankind has wrought upon the world beyond the watery womb of their concrete and glass abode.

I was overcome with a feeling I have rarely felt in my 37 years. Serenity. It felt profoundly good to realize that there are still creatures on this earth untouched by ugliness, unmarked by hate, untainted by greed and avarice and power. They were perfect and beautiful and innocent. They made my heart ache with gladness and they evoked a feeling of peace unlike any I have ever known, except that of watching my newborn children slumber.

I watched them until I could not convince my boys to linger any longer. They were also deeply affected by the huge and impossibly nimble animals, but their eagerness to see and do everything urged them on long before I was ready.

But it was no matter. The feeling lingered most of the day. Many hours later I still found myself smiling at their antics, marvelling at their grace, and revelling in the calm effected by their beauty and dignity. They are a panacea that no drug can rival.

I wonder how much it would cost to have a Beluga Whale tank installed in my living room. Perhaps my health insurance company could be persuaded to foot the bill under the auspices of preventive medicine. I think I'll write a letter.

If you live in Georgia, go to the Georgia Aquarium and visit the Beluga whales. They are amazing. If I had only seen that one exhibit, it would still be worth every penny spent on the price of admission. I think $21.06 is a small price to pay for Serenity.

(The whale sharks, Alice, Ralph, Trixie and Norton, are pretty incredible as well)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Belated Accolades to my Life Partner

It occurred to me yesterday, while my husband was opening his homemade cards and bolting his Father's Day dinner so he could get my oldest child to his ball game, (District Championships) that I don't acknowledge nearly enough publicly or privately, what a really, really great guy he is.

My parents are visiting from Wisconsin, and I am deep in the throes of tournament panic...(we are hosting a tournament in three days, which I am essentially responsible for planning..YIKES)...and I don't have the time or the mental facility right now to really sit down and put into words exactly how much he means to me.

So, I am reposting this piece that I wrote a while back. It pretty much covers why I consider myself extremely lucky.


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

"Mawage is what brings us"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...If our luck holds.

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

Friday, June 16, 2006

Supermom Lost....

....good enough to circumvent a visit by DCFS Mom, found. She is more Roseanne than June Cleaver, and realizing that's okay.

I often find myself wondering how women in my position (SAHM) survived without the internet. Perhaps they just weren’t as pathetic as I am when it comes to meeting people. Extroverted is not a word I would use to describe myself, and I’ve never been a “joiner”, mostly, because other women tend to annoy the hell out of me. There. I said it. My secret is out.

When my children were infants, I tried everything I knew to find someone to talk to. And I did meet some women. The pediatrician’s office, the diaper aisle at Wal-Mart, the Picture Place at the Mall…they were all meat markets for moms; women like me looking for other women to relieve the monotony of a life spent caring for a pre-verbal infant. So I networked, I schmoozed, and I attended every goofy Mommy outing I could finagle an invitation to, because, despite my natural aversion to those sorts of things, I was, quite simply, desperate.

I met plenty of women who were perfectly nice. Too perfect, and too nice. Sometimes, in the midst of one of those hopelessly contrived little coffee klatch/Mommy&Me/play date/women’s group things, I would fantasize about blurting out something completely inappropriate and offensive; something like “So…do you ladies spit or swallow?” I would imagine the shock and horror on the tastefully made up faces of the all the other women…except one. She would be smirking, and her eyes would be laughing. And then I would know….she’s the one. She’s the Thelma to my Louise.

But I never did. I just gave up and stopped looking for ways to find women I had no interest in knowing. I took what I could from the women I did know, and stopped expecting anything deeper. I stopped hoping I would meet that bosom pal. And instead, I did what millions of lonely people do every day…I turned to the internet.

What I found there thrilled me to pieces. I had never seen a discussion board before. Chatting had always struck me as somewhat sordid, and I never ventured into chat rooms, even those that were supposed to be “clean”. Internet chat rooms had become the singles bars of the 90’s, filled with adulterers, nymphomaniacs, fetishists, and the odd pedophile now and then. I wasn’t interested.

But this…this was intriguing. At first, I simply read the conversations; lines and lines of text, veering off into subtopics and tangents. One topic could spawn hundreds of messages, and countless side conversations. It was fascinating. And these women were having real discussions. They discussed current events, abortion, politics, gay marriage…no topic was taboo, and there was no such thing as being too blunt. There was no political correctness. It was no holds barred, down and dirty, in your face. This was fuck you and the horse you rode in on. This was an entire community of brilliant, irascible, acerbic and cynical women just waiting for new blood.

For a while, I was the new blood. I finally mustered up enough courage to join a conversation, and I was instantly pounced upon. It was the most frightening thing I had ever experienced, but I was determined to prove that I belonged with women like that, to prove that I could still think. I posted furiously; point and counterpoint. I used every trick I had learned from watching them. I eventually learned that there’s never really a winner, but that first time out, I definitely lost the argument. To my surprise, however, instead of feeling defeated, I felt absolutely invigorated. It was a high I hadn’t felt in a very long time. It was the high of accomplishment. It was the high of self-satisfaction. It was the thrill of knowing my BRAIN still worked. Before the embers of my flaming had even cooled, I was jumping into another debate. So I took my lumps but held my own, and pretty soon I was hazing the new comers as if I had been there forever. It was a debate board, and I had never seen anything like it in my life.

I was instantly hooked. And eventually, I was hopelessly addicted. Addicted to thinking, and addicted to the escape from my small, unremarkable little life. It wasn’t long before I realized my babies were growing up behind me, as I sat riveted to the computer screen, refreshing over and over in anticipation of the replies my posts would garner. In there, I was somebody. I gained a reputation as a formidable opponent, with a bite that would draw blood if I felt it necessary to make a point. I was known for my antagonism and my audacity. It was empowering and heady. But out here, I was just another lazy housewife, with no ambition, wasting her life wiping noses and changing diapers. I was raising children in an era where staying at home was viewed as taking the easy way out. It wasn’t valued, and it wasn’t respected. I was accused of everything from single handedly taking the women’s movement back 50 years, to not providing my children with a strong, positive female role model. And what’s worse, is that part of me believed that.

It wasn’t that I didn’t love my children. I did. From the moment they left my body, naked and screaming, I loved them with a fierceness that took my breath away. For the first time, I knew what it was to love without reason or limitation. But in loving them, I had somehow lost myself. When I realized that I could not leave my tiny, pink, baby in a room full of other tiny, pink babies, in row after row of second hand cribs, in a room with a tile floor and hard, easily disinfected surfaces, I decided that I had to stay at home. And if I was going to stay at home, then I would be the best at staying at home that I possibly could.

So I threw myself into homemaking and motherhood with a single mindedness that I realize now, was due to my need to convince myself that what I was doing was worthwhile. The funny thing is that it was worthwhile, and it was at times, so utterly fulfilling that it seemed foolish to doubt even for a moment that this is what I was put here to do. Watching my children learn and grow, was truly a wonder. I really did marvel each time a skill or concept was realized, and I felt inordinately proud of those accomplishments. But I didn’t really appreciate just how privileged I was to witness the evolution of personhood that takes place, and I didn’t realize that helping my children to reach adulthood with self confidence, ambition and autonomy was an accomplishment to equal no other.

Now I know that if I’d had the foresight to create some balance in my life, I wouldn’t have felt so lost during the bad times. I wouldn’t have let the doubt creep in during those wee hours of the morning, when one baby or another had been crying for hours. I wouldn’t have felt so hopeless on the days when all I had to look forward to was Oprah at 4:00, followed by my husband coming home at 5:00. And maybe I wouldn’t have resented him for his ability to escape the prison of our home every day. And I would not have had to verbally eviscerate nameless, faceless opponents on the internet to prove that I could still think.

But I didn’t have any foresight, and I didn’t have any balance, and I foolishly, but characteristically threw myself headlong into being Super Mommy and Housewife Extraordinaire. I divested myself of every shred of the former self. I threw off the mantle of progressive business woman, creative thinker, and became, simply...Mommy. For a while it was enough. But now, my children are growing and I am faced with the knowledge that I won't always be essential. At 37, I have to find myself again, which I would not have to do if I had not lost myself to begin with.

If there is one piece of advice I could give to new Mothers, it would be this: Don’t lose yourself. Make time to feed your soul, exercise your brain, nourish your individuality. You can be a wonderful mother without surrendering your identity. And know that whether you work or stay at home, there is nobody more important or valuable in your child's life, and that every choice is a worthy one, and will teach our children what they need to know to be strong, confident, well-adjusted people...and better still, loving, devoted parents.

Believe in yourself, and your choices. Believe that who you are is good enough, and that nobody finds toilet scrubbing fulfilling. It's okay. And it's okay to wonder, occasionally, what life would be like if you had made different choices, as long as you remember that the choices you have made have brought you to where you are.

Where am I? I'm at a pretty cool place, actually, and I'm just now starting to appreciate it. My baby days are behind me, my boys are growing up, but still young enough that I am needed. I can, for the first time in many years, spend some time figuring out just what I want to be when I grow up.

Life at 37 is not as scary as I thought. Who knew?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Technical Difficulties

Last night I came home at 10:00 exhausted, hot, and covered with a fine patina of ballfield dust which was affixed to my person by buttercream frosting (one practice, one end of season party) only to find that my blog was nothing but background. No text, no graphics, nothing. It was fine when I left. I examined my template to see if I could determine the problem, but honestly, excpet for the html that I inserted myself, (provided by husband) I have no idea what it actually says.

So, patting myself on the back for making a backup template file, I re-installed it. Only to realize that one has to update said file regularly. Luckily, no major structural changes had taken place, but I had added quite a few links to my blogroll. I recontstructed the list as best I could from memory, but I know I am missing a few folks.

So, if you were once on my blogroll, but are now missing, this is not a statement of any kind, other than...I suck at html and I am too stupid to do regular backups. Also, when I replaced all my links, I did them in completely random order, so if you are further down on my list than you were previously, please know that this is not any kind of statement either. regular back-ups, OR use a blogrolling service. I tried that, but couldn't get it to work. If you don't suck, maybe you will have better luck.

Carry on.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Mashed Potato Standard

When my youngest son was 6, he developed a deep and abiding interest in the Titanic that bordered on obsession. His bookshelf was crammed with books on Titanic and he collected more at every opportunity. His most prized possession was a submersible model of the fabled ship that magically broke apart as it sunk (sucker cost me fifty bucks on ebay).

He was thoroughly entranced by the movie. He would watch the part about the sinking over and over. I questioned the wisdom of allowing such a macabre pastime, but his fascination could not be squelched. He seemed to comprehend the scale and scope of the tragedy in a way that belied his tender years.

He could tell you the date, time, and location of the sinking, and how fast it took the majestic ship to finally disappear into the frigid water. He knew the names of the captain and crew, and some of the passengers. He knew countless obscure facts and every day he committed more to memory.

In his estimation, anyone who didn’t know as much as he did about Titanic, or was uninterested in learning, simply was not worthy of his time or his favor.

Wouldn't it be nice if we as adults had such a straightforward and uncomplicated barometer for judging other people? I've always considered myself a pretty good judge of character, but recently, I've had reason to question that.

So I think from now on, I will only like people who like mashed potatoes. I really like mashed potatoes.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Innocence And the Folly of Deceit

Yesterday husband and I took the boys to see "Over The Hedge". After ten years of parenting, I've learned that despite clever trailers that romance us with hilarious antics and witty banter, children's movies are often mind-numbingly soporiphic. I assume this is an effort to keep the under 17 set from running amok in the theatre, glued to their seats mindlessly shoving carbohydrate and sugar laden treats into mouths slackened by the cheery but hypnotic soundtrack.

But once in a while, the movie industry blesses us with a rare gem of a children's movie. "Over the Hedge" was one of those movies. So, despite the fact that the first theatre had some kind of sound system glitch which resulted in only the sound effects being audible, the subsequent trek to another auditorium, sloshing soda and leaving a trail of popcorn, and another glitch that caused the movie to freeze about three seconds into was well worth the $437.25 we spent on tickets and ridiculously oversized snacks.

This post is not intended to be a review, but I do want to express that this movie was incredibly funny, clever, and engaging. Steve Carell is absolutely hilarious as Hammy, and while he is definitely the star of the show, the other characters are equally entertaining. Gary Shandling, Bruce Willis and Nick Nolte are a few of the other actors who lent their voices to the film. William Shatner, in a delightful show of self-mockery, is the voice of Ozzie, a possum who takes the art of playing dead to a new level with his erm..."acting" skills. There were two women seated behind us who were not accompanied by children. They laughed uproariously (as did all the adults) throughout the entire movie.

What I really wanted to tell you about was the encounter I had in the ladies room just prior to the movie, with Annie. As I approached the ladies room, I saw a man about my age standing as close to the ladies room door as he could in order to quickly avert disaster should it strike, without arousing suspicion that he was some kind of tinkle fetishist. Any parent would have recognized him for a vigilant father of little girls, but he might have given a young single woman pause. He nodded to me cordially, but averted his eyes demurely, presumably to spare me any embarassment that might have resulted from his awareness that I had to pee.

I entered the ladies room and was immediately approached by Annie, who introduced herself, and her younger sister Heather, who was ensconced in a stall, trying to have a bowel movement, which, due to her surroundings, was taking it's sweet time, much to Annie's chagrin. She all but followed me into my own stall, chattering like a magpie at my heels. I learned a great deal about Annie and Heather as she stood outside the stall, seeking to relieve her boredom by telling me the story of their parents' divorce (ugly) and about her father's large breasted new girlfriend, who looks like a princess, but is a big poo-poo head.

Abruptly, Annie's pink sandaled feet disappeared and, for a moment, a deafening silence prevailed. I heard a metallic rattling sound, and then a hushed, but reverent "OOOOOOooooohhh". I finished my business and exited the stall, somewhat curious about what could have moved the garrulous Annie to relative silence.

I had to stifle a giggle at the sight of Annie, staring agog at the gleaming silver condom dispenser, emblazoned with brightly colored disks. Her face was flushed with excitement and she hopped from one foot to another. She stopped hopping when she caught site of me, rushed forward, and grabbed my hand.

"Do you have a quarter?" she implored.

"No, I'm sorry, sweetie, I don't."

Undaunted, she asked, "Could you ask my Daddy if he has a quarter? He's right outside the door."

Immensely intrigued, I queried, "Annie, what do you need a quarter for?"

"I want to get some bubble gum!" she exclaimed, clapping her hands, and resuming her excited hop.

Ho boy. For a moment I pondered how to respond to that. I know kids. If I told her that it was not, in fact, a bubble gum machine, she was sure to ask what kind of machine it was. I certainly was not about to enlighten someone else's child on the finer points of contraception, and I had no qualms about lying through my teeth about the real purpose of the machine, but I was having trouble coming up with a plausible and suitably abhorrent alternative.

Searching frantically for something, anything, to tell her, I was struck by an epiphany. Trying to inject the appropriate amount of disaste into my voice I said,

"That's not a bubble gum machine sweetie. It's a medicine dispenser."

Her pert little nose wrinkled with disgust and her slender shoulders slumped in disappointment.

"Oh." she said flatly.

Then, brightening, she asked,

"Is there anything in there to make you poop faster?"

What your mother always told you about lying is true. One lie does lead to another. But I was locked in now and so, I studied the machine thoughtfully.

"Lesseee....headache, tummyache...nope, no poop faster stuff."

She sighed and looked so dejected I couldn't help reaching out to caress her glossy dark curls.

"Enjoy the movie." I said.

"You too." she replied politely.



I left the bathroom and found Dad still waiting patiently.

"They're umm...almost done." I said.

He mumbled his thanks and again cast his eyes downward. I managed to contain my giggles utnil I was nearly out of earshot and then I began to laugh in earnest. I was still laughing when I reached my seat which prompted husband to ask what was so funny.

"Oh...nothing" I replied, "I'm laughing at something that happened in the bathroom."

He looked at me quizzically.

"I'll tell you about it later."

A few moments later, just as the house lights were coming down, Annie, Heather and Dad filed in. Annie caught sight of me and gave me a spirited little thumbs up.

"Who's that?" Husband asked.

"That's my girl Annie. We had a moment."

Indeed we did. I will remember Annie for a long time. I doubt I will ever be able to look at a condom dispenser without thinking of her. I hope Dad knows what he's in for. She's going to be a handful.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife, again and again, and again....

The other day I bought Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife on pure impulse. I'm a Pride and Prejudice junkie, but I have steadfastly refused to read any of the many sequels that have been written. I generally turn up my nose at any sequel undertaken by authors other than the original as they invariably suffer by comparison. And, it has always seemed highly unlikely that any author could live up the standard set by Ms. Austen. But despite that fact, and despite knowing that it was probably going to be rife with cliche and riddled with euphemisms, I could resist no longer. Who after all has not wanted to know what happened after Darcy and Elizabeth and Bingley and Jane wed? Who has not wondered what happened to the obsequious Mr. Collins and plain, pragmatic Charlotte, and whether the irascible Lady Catherine DeBourgh ever gets her comeuppance?

What rot. What rubbish. What panty drenching, bosom heaving tripe.

I loved it.

The author tries way too hard to mimic the formal but effusive Victorian vernacular of Pride and Prejudice. Now, since Jane Austen actually spoke that way, her writing and her dialogue is, though sometimes a little laborious, nonetheless fluid and unaffected. Unfortunately, I think its very difficult (if not impossible) for a contemporary author to adopt this manner of parlance without sounding very stilted and contrived. Ms. Berdoll is no exception. At times the writing is merely artificial and pretentious; others it is downright ridiculous.


Behind all the petticoat twisting frippery and grandiloquent blather, is some good writing. And I was so engaged by the continued story of Darcy and Elizabeth et al, that I found it pretty easy to overlook once I had made up my mind to just enjoy the book for what it was; an enjoyable piece of lascivious and irreverent (to Austen purists, that is) fluff. And I think that Ms. Berdoll did a decent job remaining true to the characters as they were originally written by Jane Austen. I recognized Darcy and Elizabeth as the same people to whom I had bid a fond but sad farewell at the end of Pride and Prejudice.

But what made the book a worthwhile read, are the absolutely scorching scenes between Darcy and Elizabeth. What Austen fan hasn't imagined Darcy and Elizabeth in a sweaty, naked embrace, snogging the life out of each other the way we all knew they would have had they been unencumbered by Eighteenth century convention and theological contraints? Who among those esteemed ranks has not hoped that the long suffering Darcy would simply ravish Elizabeth and be done with it, despite her protests, which we all knew were a sham anyway? Yeah...she wanted it. And in Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife, she gets it. A lot.

Writing sex is hard. I've tried it and the results were....unfortunate. Nn keeping with the very chaste attitudes and behavior of that period, Ms. Berdoll really had no choice but to employ a variety of cliches and euphemisms. But I found it to be reasonably well done, and in a really puzzling kind of incongruity with the rest of the book, not at all ridiculous.

Let me put it this way...reading some of those scenes made me want to crawl through the pages, elbow the Mistress of Pemberly right out of her tester bed onto her batiste clad derriere and then ride her husband sideways. I've always been somewhat enamored of Darcy. His arrogance, his recalcitrance, his audacity; those qualities alone are enough to completely enthrall a woman who can't resist a mysterious glowering rogue. But to know that such obduracy is merely a facade behind which smolders a nature both passionate and tender, well....((Swoon)). This book reveals him to be the kind of lover we all imagined he would be. Yum. I guess it's kind of like...highbrow porn; a Harlequin romance all grown up and really, really horny.'s not great literature. I'm sure some would argue that it's not even very good literature. If you look, you will see that it did not get very good reviews at Amazon. Normally, I would never even consider reading such nonsense. But sometimes, a gal needs a generous serving of really good romance with a side helping of mind blowing sex. This book delivers just that, even if it is couched in some extravagant and hackneyed prose.

It's a good beach read. But make sure there's a Cabana Boy nearby.

Now erm...anyone know where I can get my hands on some breeches and a waistcoat?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Didja Ever Notice....

That people who most loudly proclaim their superiority over others, are quite often those who are most profoundly lacking in the attributes that make human beings bearable to one another??

Strangely enough, they often cite instances of extraordinarily low behavior to illustrate their transcendent humanity. Further, instead of letting their sterling character serve as its own shining beacon of supremacy, they are compelled to enlighten anyone and everyone who is unaware that they are smarter, wiser, pithier, bolder, braver. That their morals, values ethics, and ideals are stronger and truer; their commitment to them more stalwart. So great is their conviction that they will tolerate no impeachment of them. They are, in every estimable fashion, better than their fellow human beings.

Clearly, humility is neither a requirement nor a hallmark of such greatness.

And then there are people who are truly, rarely, and beautifully good, but whom are completely unconvinced of their worth. They are humble and self-effacing, completely unaware of just how much they gladden the hearts of those around them. They don’t realize that they are a precious gift to those lucky enough to call them friend, mother, wife, or lover. They simply and quietly live their lives in the pursuit of bringing joy and comfort to others while forsaking their own needs and masking their own hurt.

My friend,"Maria" (as in, "How Do You Solve a Problem Like…") is just such a person. She is the light of so many lives; the calm in the storm of adolescence for her older children, a ray of sunshine and mirth maker for her younger, an honest and steadfast friend....the list goes on. She has the heart of a poet and I imagine that as a child, she was called a day dreamer and a sillyheart. She is Julie Andrews without the bad haircut. She has been my champion, my wound tender, my rock and my shoulder.

And now, my dear sweet friend is experiencing the kind of life defining struggle that leaves one raw and gasping for breath; unsure of everything except that nothing is as one thought. I want to wave a wand and make all the pain go away for she who has salved so many hurt souls with her gentle words and humor. But I can’t. There is nothing I can do except to tell her that I love her. And that my life is better for having her in it. And that I would do ANYTHING to take away her pain and make everything okay again.

She thinks that who she is has changed, but it hasn’t. Her heart, though heavy, is still pure and tender. She is still my Maria, my flibbertigibbet, my will o’the wisp, my clown.

The world would be a dark and lonely place without people like Maria in it and even the superiority mongers know it.

Love you Maria. Any time you need a soft place to land, you head down South. The weather is great right now, the pool water is still cool and inviting, and I've got plenty of Mint Julep to get us good and snockered.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A Legacy Revealed

I am a Mom of boys. This suits me just fine, as I have little patience for female histrionics, melodrama and backbiting whether it be from girls or grown women. But I cried when it was revealed that my oldest child was a boy. I had no brothers and boy children were a mystery to me. I felt completely at ease with the thought of mothering girl children, but I was gripped by the fear that I would be woefully inept at raising a boy. That fear evaporated of course, the moment he was laid on my breast, tiny and squalling and covered in my blood. I would learn.

Years later it's funny to reflect on that. I can't imagine life with girls. We do pretty well my men and me. But because of gender differences, it's hard to see myself in my boy children and sometimes it makes me feel a little sad. I would have liked a girl to remind myself of me. I would have loved to hear people say that she is the spit and image of me, as they say about my youngest son and my husband. Or that she is a little Mommy like I was at that age. Or that she can't keep her nose out of a book. For that reason, I really miss the girl child that I will never have.

Late the other night as I sat in front of the computer bleary eyed; really too tired to write, but determined to take advantage of the rare moment of absolute peace and quiet, my youngest son stole down the steps and timidly called out to me.


I was annoyed at having my solitude disrupted. Will ill-concealed impatience, I snapped at him.


There was a moment of silence, during which I assume, he was contemplating whether it was prudent to continue.

"Ummmm, Mom, I can't sleep. Can I come down and talk to you?"

I softened a little. I've been an insomniac for years and I can relate to the torture of lying in bed unable to sleep; body willing, but mind awhirl.

"Come on down and tell me about it." I called.

He traipsed down the stairs and appeared before me squinting in the lamplight, blonde hair sticking up in riotous disarrary. Toothless and freckled, and naked save for tighty whities, he was a sight that rendered me completely incapable of holding onto my pique. I pulled him onto my lap, ignoring the fact that his legs dangled nearly to the floor. Since we were alone, his dignity was not affronted and he did not resist, but settled against me with satisfying bonelessness.

"What is it Diminutive One?" I asked as I tried to smooth the peaks and whorls in his hair.

He sighed heavily, and replied, "Well...I've been thinking about my story...."

He'd been working dilligently for weeks on a very detailed story chronicling the adventures of a valiant Knight and his evil nemesis.

"I keep thinking of things I want to write and I'm afraid I won't remember them in the morning. I feel like I want to write them down right now. I'll never be able to sleep if I don't."

In that moment, I saw myself in my son. I felt connected to him. I saw that some part of me would live on. I imagined a nameless faceless young descendant far in the future, earnestly scribbling his or her first story, being told..."You know...your great great grandmother B.A was a writer."

I hugged him hard enough to make him grunt, and said,

"Go work on your story. You have 30 minutes."

He grinned and scampered off, mindful of every second. And when I tucked him in thirty minutes later, his eyes drifted quickly shut, his mind at ease; divested of the words that burgeon within him unbidden.

That's my boy.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Blog Closed Temporarily

Due to extreme stupidity.

Pre-Pubescent One is playing Allstar Baseball this summer. And I, in a moment of weakness or insanity or both, agreed to be Team Mom.

I know that those of you with small children who are too young for organized sports can't really know what kind of commitment Allstars is, nor can you fully appreciate the scope of my stupidity. But the fact is, I am in way over my head. I consider myself a fairly competent, organized, and resourceful person. But I cannot conjure money out of thin air, because let's face it, if I could, I wouldn't be here blogging, I'd be on a yacht in the Mediterranean ogling my all male staff, who of course, are all ebony-eyed swarthy-skinned Italian Stallions, and who are naturally attired in nothing but speedos and epaulets.

So, strike one against me, cuz we've got no money in our team fund and the parents don't seem to understand that we need sponsorships to buy all the nifty embroidered spirit wear, towels, bat bags, and visors that they are fully expecting to recieve, nor do they seem to understand that every family is responsible for a portion of the fundraising. I covered all this in our team meeting, but somehow, "We need to raise $12,000 to cover just the BASIC expenses" didn't sink in. One would think that the figure (($12,000)) would command attention of it's own accord, but apparently not. And one would think that a detailed financial balance sheet showing a big fat negative balance might cause some concern, but again, it seems I am mistaken.

Strike two is the fact that I am expected to coordinate a huge tournament, from vendors and concessions right down to hiring umpires. Sure, I can do that. Absolutely no problem. Except....this tournament has to take place three weeks from today. I need a photographer, a t-shirt vendor and t-shirts, trophies, and concession stock like, tomorrow. And I guess I can pay for it all with peanuts, cause I got plenty of those thanks to the generosity of Roadhouse Grille, who donated three 25 lb. bags in lieu of a sponsorship.

Strike three is the fact that our coach, who is really and truly a fantastic THE most unorganized person on the face of the planet. I think he has ADD, which makes my husband laugh because he thinks that since our son has been diagnosed, I think everyone has ADD. But he does. Totally. And it's driving me insane. To register the team for our District Championship tournament, I have to have a birth certificate, proof of insurance, consent to treat and a recent photo of each child. This has to be on file with the Tournament Director or we don't play. Period. I have information for every player except...yep. The coach's son. That's just one of the many examples that illustrate why I will be a bona fide alchoholic before this season is over.

So, ummm, anyway, my beloved blog is suffering. I refuse to post endless whining diatribes (starting right after this one of course) so this post may be the last until the season ends. I wanted this blog to be unique, and different, and perhaps I am fooling myself that I succeeded just a little bit, but if I can't post anything but self indulgent crap, then I won't post at all. I mean, I suppose that blogging in and of itself is self-indulgent, but I like to think I write as much for my audience as for myself. And who the hell wants to read about my stupid Allstar Team Mom saga day after day? Hell, I'm boring myself with this one post.

So...I will post as I am able, if I am able. But I wanted to let you all know that if there are long stretches between posts, it's because my brain is fried from spending long baseball filled days in the damned Georgia heat and humidity and I can't form a coherent sentence, paint a verbal picture, or create a decent metaphor to save my life.

The silver lining in this roiling black cloud of misplaced altruism is that the World Series this year (not THE Little League World Series...we're not that good) is in Charleston, S.C. I adore Charleston. And I WILL get dinner in my favorite little French Bistro (Mistral Mistral Mistral, 99 Market Street, live Jazz music, delicious French Cuisines, a wine list to die for) if I have to maim the entire team to do it.

So, Wake me uuuuuupppp, when September July ends......