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.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

New Links

Thanks to those who were kind enough to take me up on my request for thoughts regarding science and Christianity. I got four takers, which, frankly, is four more than I thought I'd get. The posts were heart felt and insighful. I enjoyed the different perspectives enormously. Go here to read and comment on the latest additions. It's not too late to add your own perspective. Just email me for inclusion. I know it's not a "fun" assignment like Her Bad Mother's usually are. But while it's true that this an issue that's of great personal interest, I also think it has relevance on a wider scope. Spirituality and Faith are a part of our culture and our heritage and I don't think I'm the only one who struggles with these issues.

Thanks again ladies. Great thoughts from all of you.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Enter the Cocksure Cowboy

The other day, Bub And Pie had a great post about the currencies of marriage titled "If Conversation be the Food of Love, Talk On." And recently, a friend recommended "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. It got me to thinking about my own experience with conversation and how it led to my marriage. I haven't yet read the book, but I can already tell you that he left one out. Conversation. Like Bub and Pie, conversation is definitely love currency for me.

1992 was one hell of a year. I had ended a 6 year relationship after finding out that my fiancee was sleeping with my best friend, the wife of his best friend. Yes, it was all very dramatic, and I'll write about it another time. For a while I pushed the heartache away by engaging in a series of superficial and short-lived relationships. But it wasn't what I really wanted. What I really wanted was a husband. A life partner. A best friend.

I began seeing a guy that I thought might fit that bill. He was tall and handsome and he was a decent fella. He treated me like a princess. He had a good job, and was smart with his money. He was ten years older than me, and I thought his maturity would make him more likely to commit to a serious and possibly life-long relationship. I was right, as it turns out, and he was ready to marry me after a very short courtship.

For a while, it was good. The mating dance was fresh and exciting. We went to clubs and parties, we went to the movies, we went to sporting events and concerts. But what we didn't do was talk. As we began to settle into the less frenetic lifestyle of a steady relationship, the lack of substance in our relationship became painfully clear.

To me, that is.

We would eat an entire meal without exchanging more than two or three words. He would rise from the table, kiss me, thank me for a great meal, help me clean up, and then retire to the couch where we would sit side by side in front of the television unspeaking for several hours until one of us had to go home. I would be seething with resentment at having been ignored all evening while he was happy and content, satisfied with no longer having to make idle conversation to win me over. He considered good conversation a tool for wooing, not a necessary component of a healthy and satisfying relationship. He was glad to set it aside in exchange for what he thought of as companionable silence.

Oh, I tried. Time and time again. But after a hard and stressful day at work, the last thing he wanted to do was debate politics, or discuss world events, or even opine on literature, music or film. Fair enough. But he anaesthetized himself with televised sports, while I sat beside him in resentful silence and it just wasn't enough anymore.

Things came to a head when we took a weekend trip to the beach. On the 7 hour drive home, we spoke only to express the need to stop for food, drink or restrooms. He had no idea that I was deeply troubled by it. I broke up with him two days after we returned. He was taken completely by surprise because he thought everything was fine, better than fine. He thought things were just great. Even after I explained it to him, he just didn't get it. His inability to understand my need to connect to him through conversation led him to believe that there was another reason for the break-up. Eventually he convinced himself that I wanted to go back to my fiancee, and sadly, we parted on acrimonious terms. It wasn't how I wanted things to end, and I regret that I wasn't more outspoken about my needs. I doubt it would have changed things, but perhaps it wouldn't have been such a shock to him when I broke things off.

I realized that I had not really given myself enough time after ending my engagement, and resolved to enjoy my freedom and autonomy for a while. And, since I was still harboring a lot of lingering distrust of men in general, that wasn't a difficult resolution to stick to.

Until the night I met Husband.

I was at a country western dance club (I live in the South, gimme a break) with some girlfriends, trying not to look available. I could usually dissuade any prospective suiters with a glower, but occasionally some cocksure cowboy would swagger up anyway, and ask me to dance. Husband was one such brave soul. He was undaunted by my inhospitable body language and sat himself down next to me one night to shout an invitation to dance in my ear.

I refused him, politely. I gave my standard response about having just gotten out of a relationship that had ended badly. He gave a me a funny half smile...a sardonic little smirk that I now see often on the face of my youngest child. He told me he understood because his fiancee had recently died. There was no drama or self-pity in his statement. It was straightforward and matter of fact, and I was completely taken aback. I wondered if he was bullshitting me. But I've met a lot of sleazy guys in joints like that, and he just didn't strike me as a liar. He had an honest face. Unsure how to respond, I mumbled something suitably polite about being sorry for his loss. He took advantage of my discomfiture to coax my phone number out of me. It was the one and only time I ever gave my phone number to a guy in a bar.

The following day, the cold I had been nursing took a turn for the worse and I became seriously ill. I ended up confined to bed for over a week. He called me on Monday night to ask me to dinner. I explained that I was sick, glad to have a valid reason to decline. I sounded as bad as I felt, so he accepted my explanation.

Then we began to talk. And talk. And talk. Before I realized it, two hours had passed. I began to lose my voice and he apologized for keeping me on the phone for so long. He asked if he could call again tomorrow night. I told him I would like that, and to my surprise, I meant it.

He called me every night that week and every night we talked just as long as we had that first night. He asked me if I had medicine, soup, kleenex...he offered to bring me anything I needed or drive me to the doctor. Aside from my roommate, who was wrapped up in her own life, I had nobody. I was 900 miles from my home and family, which he knew from our first conversation. I declined, not wanting him to see me looking like such a piteous wretch. Now that he's seen me give birth that seems kind of silly, but we were all young and single once, so I suspect you can relate.

At the end of that week, I realized I was in love with a guy I had only met once. We had never even gone on a date. I was in love with a guy who could talk. He had thoughts, opinions, ideas... and he could express them intelligently, even if he did inject a little redneck speak now and then.

He was sensitive, and not afraid to let it show. He told me about his fiancee and he cried while he described his shock and grief. I cried with him. They were engaged to be married and had just purchased a home together. Three weeks before Christmas, she died suddenly at work when an aneurysm in her heart burst. She was 20 years old. I was terribly sad for him, and sad that someone so young had lost her life. But despite the undeniably tragic nature of her death, I couldn't be sad about where it had led him. To me.

When I was better, he invited me over to dinner. He made lasagne and salad and garlic bread and bought expensive wine. We didn't do much talking that night.

Two weeks later, I moved in. Six months later he gave me a ring. A year later we were married. 14 years later, we have two children and a really satisfying life together. And we still talk. When I wonder why we have made it when so many of our friends have already divorced, some of them multiple times...I always come back to the same answer...because we talk.

We've had our ups and downs of course. Our marriage isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. He isn't perfect, as some women assert. I am not perfect either. But we have the same currency and we use it to deal with all the complications, big and small, that arise when two strong minded people join together in wedded bliss and then procreate.

There's a song by Garth Brooks that to this day brings tears to my eyes. It's called Unanswered Prayers.

Once, I would have done anything...anything to have my fiancee and his loyalty back. I prayed, I schemed, I even planned in detail, the murder of my former friend. At one point, I was probably crazy enough to carry out that plan. I was literally, out of my mind with heartbreak. But some vestige of sanity remained and I walked away with my prayers unanswered, my life as I knew it in pieces, but holding my head high.

Thank God for unanswered prayers. Thank God for that Cocksure Cowboy. And thank God for a currency in which we can count ourselves ridiculously wealthy.

Monday, August 28, 2006

An Interesting Perspective

I think most of you know by now that I am an Agnostic with strong Atheistic tendencies. I’m not quite ready to say that there is no God, because frankly, I like to believe that there is. I think that’s just human nature. However, my inability to accept a doctrine that contradicts empirical scientific data keeps me from forming any really cohesive religious ideology. Of course, it’s merely one factor in a myriad of issues that are to blame for my lack of faith, but it’s one of the more expansive and troublesome.

Last week I wrote a post about my struggle to explain these issues to my boys in a non-biased fashion. One of my fellow bloggers had this to say:

"I realize this is a difficult issue for your family, and I don't want to butt in when you haven't asked for suggestions. Let me just say that there are people - like me - who both believe in God and accept the reality of biological evolution, without experiencing any conflict."

Now, you may think that due to stance of religious matters, I would discount the views of Christians, but the contrary is true. I find the views of Christians extremely insightful, interesting, and valuable. This is especially true of Christians who are deeply convicted but do not subscribe to the practice of blind acceptance and do not need to because of their ability to reconcile two such profoundly conflicting and subjective concepts.

So I asked her if she would be willing to explain her point of view.

Today she posted this. It a very thoughtful, insightful, intelligent and incredibly well-reasoned response that is well worth reading. Thank you Veronica for taking the time to address my questions and my doubts so thoroughly and sensitively. I truly appreciate the time and effort you put into helping me and others understand your perspective on this very complex issue.

I'd like to hear from all of you, irrespective of your religious affiliation or lack thereof. If you have any thoughts on this subject, write a post about it, then email me with the URL. I will list the links here in this post.

I know this is a toughie. I struggle to put my own thoughts and feelings into words. But I hope at least a few of you will take me up on my proposition.

"Christian Who Believes in Evolution" by Veronica
"Unapologetic" by Bub and Pie
"Science and The Bible" by Rachelle
"White Baby Girl Jesus" By Paula
"On A Roll" by Natalie

Saturday, August 26, 2006


I have been invited to speak to a Women's Group about Spiritual Lipstick.

I am not a public speaker. I write okay but I don't talk too good.

I cannot stand up before a group of Women who are attending a conferenced geared toward personal fulfillment and empowerment and pretend that I have all the answers. Because, I so don't.

They will see right through me, I just know it.

And did I mention that this is a Christian Women's group?? Me, a Godless Heathen, addressing a Christian Women's Group.

A sinner and a hypocrite....((SIGH)). They're going to eat me alive.

What does one wear to a public humiliation? I don't think I have anything suitable. Where does one get a hair shirt these days? Wal-Mart?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My Beautiful Awful Diminutive One

On July 30th, amidst the craziness of the funeral and back to school preparations, my youngest child turned eight years old. Since then, I have been struggling to put into words exactly what parenting him has meant to me. But my feelings for Diminutive One are complex, and he is an exceedingly complex child. I first wrote about him in this post, which I think paints a very accurate picture. But he has grown and matured since then. Some things are worse, and some things are better. I have written several other pieces about him as well, but they tend to be a little one-sided, probably because I wrote them on days that I desperately needed to focus on something positive.

I'm going to be honest, because I think it's important that as parents we are true to our feelings and forthright about our struggles. I'm not interested in reading about perfect parents and their perfect kids, especially when I am beaten down and disheartened by a particularly volatile run-in with my Spirited child, and I doubt you are either. I want to hear about real parents and real kids, I want to hear about the stuff that happens in the trenches, not the stuff that happens in soft-focus snapshots and heartwarming magazine articles. love for him is deep and profound. It never diminishes. I realized that long ago, with enormous relief. Early in his life, I questioned. It seemed that I had nothing left over from doing battle with him day in and day out and I wondered if I was missing some essential component that allowed me to love him unconditionally. But I've learned, through a series of parenting experiences, mistakes and misadventures, that I love him just as fiercely when I need to walk away. I've realized that I'm always ready to give my life for him, even when life with him is arduous and exasperating.

But the fact is, there are days that I don't like him. There are days that I count the minutes until bedtime. There are days that I have to leave the house so I don't say something horribly ugly to him. There are days that I don't do it in time. There are days that we both crawl into bed demoralized, remorseful, and sad. There are days that apologies don't seem like enough, though I've grown adept at issuing them. Those are the days that all the Spiritual Lipstick in the world cannot help me and those are the days that I wonder why I was given this child to raise to adulthood when I am so obviously ill-equipped to do so.

On these days, I think back to the day he was born and the day he died.

My pregnancy with him was fraught with complications and his birth was the culmination of nine months of near constant anxiety. When at last he made his appearance, my labor was long and painful. Near the end, my blood pressure spiked dangerously high, nearly killing us both. By that point, I was really oblivious to everything due to an excruciating headache cause by my severely elevated blood pressue. But shortly before that, as my husband and I sat quietly enjoying a few moments of intimacy before the hustle and bustle that is the modern birth experience ensued, listening to the steady cadence of our baby's heartbeat.....he died.

The beats, which had been so steady and reassuring, suddenly slowed, and then stopped. My husband and I stared at each other in sickening shock and horror. I opened my mouth to scream, but no sound issued forth. I was paralyzed with fear. I watched the blind terror and naked grief play accross Husband's face and he was undoubtedly seeing the same on mine. Our beautiful baby boy was dead.

Husband started to rise, but before he was even out of the chair, the door to my hospital room exploded inward and the OB, along with three large orderlies, descended upon me. They lifted me as if I weighed no more than the baby I was carrying, and flipped me onto my side. Something was injected into my belly. The doctor barked orders which were obeyed without question. They were preparing to transfer me to an OR when suddenly, miraculously, the baby's heartbeat resumed. The rythmic tocca-tocca-tocca once again filled the room, strong and true, as if it had never ceased. Never, before that moment or since, have I heard such a beautiful sound. My baby was alive. My baby was alive.

Everyone in the room stopped what they were doing and stared at the monitor, as if it could somehow explain what had just happened. When my son was finlly born, safe and whole, we realized how big he was and the doctor offered a theory. Diminutive One was born weighing 9lbs 3 oz, but was only 19 inches long. He was portly and barrel chested and while passing through my pelvis, he was likely compressed to the point that his heart stopped momentarily. Several hours later it was found that he had a hole in his heart, which lent credence to that theory.

But I didn't care what caused it. I only cared that he was alive.

On the days that I feel as if I cannot take one more moment of his incessant arguing, his mulish stubborness, and his unabating defiance, I think back to that day and I remember how I promised a God I didn't even really believe in, a lifetime of service and devotion if only he would give me back my child.

It works.

These days, things are a little easier. I can talk to him about my frustration, and he can talk to me about his. And as he gets older, I begin to feel a sense of connection that I didn't before, despite my love for him. He has always been breathtakingly smart and perceptive and wonderfully offbeat and unique. But he has been such an enigma, that I have struggled to find a common thread between us.

Lately, his creativity, which has always been inherent, has blossomed into a dominant and consuming aspect of his personality. His brain is awhirl with thoughts and ideas, which he is constnatly jotting down to be crafted into stories and screenplays and works of art. Sometimes he can't sleep because he can't turn off his brain, he can't stop the ideas from fomenting into grandiose plans and projects.

There is a book in that child, hundreds of them. And I see now, that he is part of me in a way I had never anticipated. It's more than the color of his eyes or the curve of his lips. It's more than being right handed and hating peas. We share a passion and it feels so good to recognize in him, that which drives me. It feels so good to share something with this child who has been such a mystery to me.

I worry that all he will remember from his childhood are the times I lost my temper. The times I didn't count to ten, or follow Mary Kurcinka's advice. But what I've learned from my own Mom, who is sure she screwed us up in a similar fashion is this: If there is a strong foundation of love and support and encouragement and praise, the bad stuff gets left behind in the hazy netherworld of memory with bad dreams and childhood fears.

So Happy Birthday my Diminutive One. I love you. I have learned more from you than you will ever know, and I feel there is much more in store for me. I do not doubt for a second that you will be an amazingly successful adult. The determination, drive, and single minded tenacity, which cause us to clash now, will carry you far and serve you well. And I will do everything in my power to see that all your dreams come true and that you realize all your glorious potential.

Godspeed, Little Man. Sweet Dreams, Little Man.

Baby Diminutive One

Classic Diminutive One
"You can make me sit here, but you can't make me smile asshole."

Happy Diminutive One
(One of Mom's favorites)

Determined Diminutive One
"That ball is outta here."

Cooperative and Mature Diminutive One

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Of No Particular Importance

I've been working hard on finalizing my funeral piece. There is a contest for personal narrative that I hope to enter, and the deadline is September 1st. All my brilliance has been poured into it and I have none left over to be erudite or amusing on my poor neglected blog. So, as has been my habit lately when I need blog filler, I will disgorge some of the exceedingly banal garbage that is tumbling around in my mind.

1. If one's husband takes one's children outside to play ball after supper, and one decides to sneak upstairs for a nice, peaceful shower, during which nobody yanks the shower curtain open to inquire if they may eat, drink, or play something, one might want to think twice. Because...a storm might come up out of a clear blue sky, in which case they will traipse inside and use the bathroom. All three of them. In succession. Thereby scalding the showeree like a freshly slaughtered hog in a barrell, while she flails about trying to wipe the soap out of her eyes with one hand, and frantically twisting the tap as far to the cold side as she possibly can with the other hoping against hope that the hot water heater was almost out of hot water anyway, what with the seventeen loads of laundry she did that afternoon. I'm just sayin.

2. My meat loaf tastes like cat food. I know this because my eight year old told me so while visibly gagging. The cats seem to disagree, however. They turned up their noses at it. I'm theorizing that they didn't realize it was actual meat because the smell was masked by the inch thick coating of ketchup that Diminutive One doused it in, trying to make it more palatable.

3. Why is it that the clicker always works just fine when I have both hands free, the boys with me, and the sun is shining, but when I am alone in a downpour with fourteen plastic shopping bags in my hands...nada? And why do I click the stupid thing 47 times instead of just using that notched metal object dangling from the clicker...whaddya call that thing? Oh yea...a KEY .

4. Bette Midler ROCKS, in every phase, every genre, every stage of her career. I recently downloaded her greatest hits CD,"Experience the Divine" and all day I've been singing "Ms. Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today....." However, the first track, "Hello in There", though beautifully arranged and brilliantly a huge downer. I am seriously considering downloading her "Rosemary Clooney Songbook" I am such a dork. An old dork.

5. The Highlight of my day was discovering that Tide now has Laundry Detergent in Vanilla Lavender scent. Now I can use matching Detergent, Fabric Softener and Dryer sheets and layer them all in a hedonistic cavalcade of aroma. I actually cavorted in the aisle at Target. Yes. Cavorted. Over Laundry Detergent. Again, d.o.r.k. Must...wash...something...

6. I bought a new purse today at Target with some birthday money. I haven't bought a new purse since I gave up the diaper bag. I carried the same boring brown satchel for over five years without really thinking about it. But suddenly, I am seeing all these fabulously cute purses, and desiring them. I mean, I was in need of a new purse, but how many purses can a person carry at once anyway? I have little evening bags for when we go out, and that has always worked fine. Why the sudden penchant for yummy purses?

7. Isaac Mizrahi is highly overrated in my opinion.

8. Why the hell are razor blades so expensive? $9 for 5? C'mon. I believe we hirsute women should stage a coup.

8. My oldest child started Middle School this year. The county is growing by leaps and bounds, and they cannot keep up with the influx. All the schools are filled to capacity. They have 9 new schools scheduled to open in the next five years, but here's a funny thing...They are not building them big enough to accomodate the number of students projected to attend them. My son's school is three weeks old, and already it is so overcrowded that the students have to eat in shift of 20 minutes. TWENTY MINUTES. That includes going through the lunch line. WTF? How is a kid supposed to eat his lunch in twenty minutes? How can a kid relaxe and unwind for a bit if he only has 20 minutes? There is no recess anymore, lunch is it.

My lunch period was an hour long when I was in Middle and High School, the same length as an average class period. We ate in shifts too, but they were hour long shifts. I'm really not very happy about that. The poor kid doesn't get home until 4:45, and he is STARVING. Of course they are not allowed to snack in class, or I would send him an apple or some granola bars to munch on.

9. I am woefully unprepared for Middle School "issues". I always said and thought that I would be more understanding than my parents were (and really, they were exceedingly fair about most stuff) but I'm not. It irritates me. Suddenly his (rather extensive) wardrobe is entirely unacceptable, his hair is wrong, and he carries the wrong kind of backpack. I, of course, am expected to find this as earth-shatteringly distressing as he, and run right out to rectify the matter(s) at my own expense, despite the fact that many of the clothes in his closet are unworn, some even with tags on, and he got a brand new Land's End backpack that cost $50 last year. The kid couldn't be bothered to comb his hair six months ago. I think I liked it better that way.

10. I received three hardcover books for my birthday. My husband feels like I got gypped. I am completely satisfied. Thrilled, even. I got a weekend off and dinner out to boot. What's not to be happy about?

Alright. I think that's enough puerile drivel to burden you with. I'll try to be more entertaining tomorrow.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Importance of Being Earnest

The internet is a big place. It is peopled with with a dizzying array of staggeringly diverse individuals. That's a diplomatic way of saying that there are a whole lot of freaks navigating the information superhighway.

But freakishness is relative.

Quirky, eccentric, offbeat and kooky are all acceptable kinds of freaky. We view these people as interesting and colorful. We allow them their freakiness beccause it amuses us. We encourage their whacky ways because it adds vibrance and dimension to a world that is otherwise bland and lackluster in its sameness.

But then there is the Marilyn Manson tortured artist kind of freaky. His freakishness frightens us because it is sensual and alluring. His wickedness and blatant disregard for convention titillates us and makes us dream of forbidden things. This is the kind of freakishness that we disparage with our mouths, but yearn for in our hearts. It awakens the inner freak that we all fear, so we push it away and call it names.

And of course there is freakishness that is dark and malevolent. It lurks in the dark shadows of the internet, waiting for prey, feeding its aberrant desires with lurid imagery and decadent discourse. That is the kind of freaky that compels us to gaurd our children and lock our doors. Because we know that like everyone else on the internet, they are real people, living among us.

But every once in a while, we stumble upon a special kind of freaky. For reasons we don't quite understand, we are captivated and charmed. Perhaps it is the whimsy, perhaps it is the childlike joy that these people project. Perhaps it is their self-indulgent and carefree pursuit of that which makes them happy. Who among us doesn't admire that? Who among us isn't insanely jealous of someone who pursues their heart's desire with complete abandon?

I have recently run accross one such individual. Admittedly, my first thought was... "Wow, that is one fuh-reaky Dude." But I was drawn in, sucked in, really, to his amazing little world. I bet I spent an hour at his website just reading, looking at pictures and wondering what it was about him that fascinated me so.

As I read, I gained a lot of respect for him. He is living his life honestly. He is who he is and he makes no apologies. Nor does he hide behind socially accepted pretenses. His brand of freakishsness isn't hurting anyone. In fact he strives to make the world a better place by laboring to further acceptance and understanding for those who are not....conventional. He has founded a ministry through which these individuals can worship a God that others have said is off limits to them because of who they are.

His real name is Randy Constan, but he bills himself as the real life Peter Pan. And I have to wonder if he hasn't actually found the answer to staying forever young. The man is 50 years old and still looks to be in his late twenties. Perhaps its as simple as following your joy.

Is there any of us who couldn't use a little more of that in our lives? does a body good.

Visit Pixieland Today. Be sure to visit the Fashion Pages. And consider making a donation to his Ministry. It's not often that I encounter something worthy.

Afterthought: He is also a spokesperson for Net Neutrality, which if course, is something that affects all of us. Check it out at

Friday, August 18, 2006

Pissed off and Skeeved Out

Honestly, have you ever seen any one who better fit the pedophile stereotype than John Mark Karr? I know, I know, pedophiles come in all shapes and sizes, they are everyone and no one. But he has that effete and innocuous, but somehow menacing blandness that seems to be the hallmark of those who spend their lives trying to shroud themselves from scrutiny. At first glance he seems harmless, but when you look in his eyes, there is something chilly and feral behind the vacancy of his gaze. He does not fit inside his own skin; it is ill equipped to contain the scope of his malignance. Those who encounter him experience a sense of vague but decided unease.

And yet, the bulk of my anger is not directed at him. What I feel for him is revulsion and loathing, but I understand that the poisonous urges that drive him are uncontrollable and innate. He is a slave to his perversity. He is powerless to reign it in. He cannot fix himself.

When I was a child, there was a man in the neighborhood that was known as "The Candy Man." One had simply to ring his doorbell, and he would proffer a bowl of goodies, smiling as the neighborhood children shyly helped themselves. I was never allowed to go there. As far as I know, he never hurt anybody, and was, most likely, a lonely and harmless old man. But he set off alarm bells for my mother, and she did not ignore them even knowing that her instincts could be wrong. She would rather have been wrong, than sorry.

We've all felt that prickling fear, haven't we? That sense that something about someone is just wrong. That sick dread in the pit our stomach that tells us there is danger, evil, malevolence in the presence of innocence. Do we push it away? I think most of us do not.

I think Patsy and John pushed it away. That's not a fair or rational accusation to make. It's an injudicious assignation of blame, but I can't help but feeling that something...something was there. Something they should have seen or felt. The man was in LOVE with a six year old. He was obsessed. He pined for her day and night and was finally compelled to kill her, rather than live his life knowing she could never be his. Such aberrance does not pass through this world without leaving some kind of ripple on the placid surface of normality.

Why didn't they see it?? Their blindness angers me.

And there's more that fuels my indignation. I am...sickened and disgusted by the way that this beautiful, innocent child was tarted up, paraded around, sexualized and objectified by the gaurdians of her innocence. They exploited and defiled what should have been protected and nurtured. It's quite likely that John Karr would have fixated on JonBenet regardless. Pedophiles do not need reason or encouragement to feed their need. But they fueled the fire of his depravity by marketing her sexuality and cultivating validation of her beauty and desireability.

I find the entire concept of Children's beauty pageants loathsome and obscene. Not only because they sexualize and objectify, but because they promote the ideal that worth lies with beauty, and because by quantifying the beauty of some children, they diminish the inherent beauty of all children.

We are destroying the innocence of our children. Through increasingly pervasive, voyeuristic and harmful media in addition to apathetic parenting, we are leaving our children vulnerable to influences they are not equipped to understand or reconcile. We have lost sight of the fact that children are not small adults who possess the capacity to reason through the very complex issues they are being assaulted with every day. Violence, irresponsible and injurious sexual constructs, intolerance, immorality and hatred are tainting the purity and simplicity of chidhood. And it is our fault.

Damned if I know what to do about it.

I have been accused of being overprotective and hyper-vigilant. I have been accused of not letting my kids have any fun. I have been accused of being rigid, unrealistic and overly censorious.

But my kids are alive. Part of that is sheer, unadulterated luck, of course. But JonBenet is not lying in a cold and lonely grave because of bad luck. She was set on a collision course with disaster through the actions and choices of those charged with her safekeeping. That is not a very charitable view to take, I suppose. And perhaps someday I will find myself eating those words. But for now, that knowledge is eclipsed by my anger. She didn't have to die.

R.I.P. JonBenet and Patsy. I hope you both find some peace.

Footnote:I realize John Karr has not been proven guilty. I realize there is still some doubt about his involvement. But somebody killed her, and my assessment of why remains the same, regardless of the identity of the murderer.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Spiritual Liposuction

I'm a big believer in Spiritual Lipstick, and I apply it with a zeal that borders on ecclesiastical. As the lone woman in a house full of men it's really a matter of survival. I don't mind sitting through testosterone laden sporting events and machismo injected films if I can come home and reclaim my womanhood through a series of hyper feminine and often highly fragrant ablutions and/or rituals. I suppose to some they may seem silly. One cannot, after all, effect peace or abolish social evils with a new eyeshadow. But it's amazing how one's outlook can improve while having the dead skin sloughed from one's person.

I rely on these little pick me ups to get me through the drama that is a part of daily life when one has children. But sometimes Spiritual Lipstick isn't enough. After a summer of being Team Mom for Allstars, dealing 24/7 with a Spirited Child who has apparently inherited his mother's procilvity for insomnia and another on the cusp of adolescence, which apparently necessitates that he practice eye rolling and sneering contemptuously at every opportunity....I needed something a little more substantial.

So, for my mumblety mumbleth birthday, Husband arranged for his parents to take the boys for a WHOLE weekend. Wow. That's like Christmas, Birthday and Mother's Day all rolled into one. It's the motherlode of Spiritual Lipstick. Nay! It's....

Spiritual Liposuction.

What did we do? Well, we didn't go out dancing until dawn. We didn't get falling down drunk. We didn't have sex on the kitchen table. Years ago we might have. But those things lose their appeal with age, I believe. I'm secure enough to admit that I like sex in a bed, at night, not throwing up.

Friday night we went to a restaurant with no kiddie menu. They served nothing remotely resembling a nugget. There were no televisions, video games or crayons. There were no sponsorship plaques on the wall. There were no "Partner in Education" banners. Had there been, it is unlikely that I would have recognized them as such, as they would have been written in Farsi.

Yes, folks, we went to a decidely kid UNfriendly restaurant, (unless you happen to be a Persian kid) and it was FABULOUS.

Years ago, Husband decided to give freelancing/consulting a whirl (healthcare premiums...need I say more?) and went into partnership with a guy who called himself Kevin, but whose given name was Hamid (Hah-meed). He got us completely hooked on Persian Food and his wife helped Husband learn all the secrets of preparing it. After 8 years of experimentation, he is really good at it. However, prepartion takes hours and hours. I can't believe Persian women cook this way every day. They would have to be in a state of perpetual preparation. It's like an entire culture reached into my subconscious and pulled out my worst nightmare. The neverending meal....((shudder)).

Fortunately, I am not a Persian woman. But I can eat like one, thanks to Darvish. As is often the case with delicious little "diamond in the rough" eating establishments, Darvish is very unassuming from the outside. It's located in a nondescript little strip mall, tucked away in the corner where it is barely visible from the road. This means that unlike every other eating establishment in Metro Atlanta on a Friday night, you do not have to wait 45-90 minutes for a table. Standing up. Outside. It also means that nobody is rushing you out the door four seconds after you swallow the last bite to make room for a party of 37.

Our reservation was for 7:30 and when we arrived, only one other table was occupied. The ambience was, for all it's contrivance, (faux stonework on the walls, rough hewn "plank" tables, and worn looking "tapestry" covering everything) extremely charming in an old-world, fortress-y kind of way. The air was redolent with exotic spices and roasting meat. There was Persian music playing, which is sort of cacophonous, but also curiously mellifluous and...whimsical. Huge paintings of swarthy skinned men and sloe-eyed women hung from gilded frames, adding to the timeworn elegance. Along each wall were several tapestry covered platforms strewn with cushions and pillows intended for dining, which added to the distinctly authentic air of the place.

Since husband has a bum hip from a car wreck and I still have back problems from carrying a 9lb fetus, we chose a table for dining, but it did not detract at all from our enjoyment. Initially I was disappointed to find that the menu was somewhat limited, and many of my favorite dishes were not on it. I do understand however, that the amount of prep time that goes into most of these dishes would make offering an extensive menu somewhat of a logistical nightmare. You'd have to have a gargantuan kitchen and a staff of hundreds to pull it off. I do think the menu is diverse enough that there is something to please everyone. If you live in the metro area, and like to try new things, Darvish will not disappoint.

We ordered Kashk-o-Bademjoon for an appetizer, but they do serve complimentary appetizers of flat bread, two different yogurt sauces, goat cheese, sweet onion, mint and cilantro. You pile this all together onto the flat bread to make sort of a Persian taco. The combination of these simple but rich flavors is wonderful. Add the Kashk-o-Bademjoon, and it is indescribably delicious. I ordered Chicken Barg and Husband Ordered Kabob-e-Sultani, which we shared back and forth. All of it was delectable, but since Husband has this uncanny knack for always ordering the better tasting dish, it was no surprise that the Kabob-e-Barg that came with his entree was far superior to my Chicken Barg. We ate every single bite, and here is the wonderful thing about Persian food...We were satisfied, full even, but not overstuffed. And one does not experience that bloated, queasy feeling that often accompanies a greasy, fat laden, high carb American Meal.

We lingered over wine and dessert, we talked, we laughed. We watched the bellydancer, who, with flaming red hair and milky white skin, was not terribly authentic, but put on a very good show, and whom to my delight, had a tiny little pot belly and decidedly womanly hips. We talked suggestively to one another with real words instead of G rated euphemisms. We talked in complete sentences.

And you know, that was the best part. As wonderful as it was, it wasn't the food, the wine, or the ambiance. The best part of the evening was being able to jettison the heavy load of parental obligation and shed the skin of problem solvers extraoridinaire. We revelled in the freedom, naked of responsibility. And that my friends, is what Spiritual Liposuction is all about.

The rest of the weekend was remarkable for its uneventfulness. We relaxed and talked and read. We sat down, and did not get up until we were behooved to do so. We drank We made no plans, but we did go to a movie because we felt like it; one with no children in the viewing audience. We did not spent 47.50 on concessions. We slept late. We made love with the bedroom door open. And once, just because I could, I screamed at the top of my lungs....


Then we collapsed upon each other in a fit of giggles.

I suppose a good mother would say that she felt incomplete without her children. And perhaps if they had been gone a week or more, I would have missed my boys terribly. But the truth is, I didn't. I cherished every single moment of freedom and blessed, blissful, bountiful silence. I enjoyed seeing to my own wants and needs, first and only. I savored turning off for a while; disengaging the ole Mommy radar, and being

Spiritual Liposuction. Get some. Not only is my mental outlook vastly improved, I swear to God my thighs are thinner.

Friday, August 11, 2006

An Open Letter to the Parents in my Neighborhood, Part II

Alright, look....It's true I was going to be home anyway. I'm home everyday. You and I and every other parent in the neighborhood knows I am home every day. Because, I am a stay at HOME mom, and who the hell can afford gas to go anywhere on one salary anyway?

But the next time your kid shows up at my house at 10:00 am, announcing that he can stay until 4:00 pm, he better have a fucking lunch packed. Bologna and Wonderbread aren't cheap, especially when I'm feeding all the other kids in the neighborhood whose parents can't be bothered to, you know...PARENT them. You might also include a couple envelopes of Kool-Aid and a pound of Dixie Crystals. Because in case you weren't alive today, it was 97 degrees outside and kids go through a lot of friggin fluids in this kind of heat.

Also, if your kid is going to show up at the pool with the understanding that I will be supervising him, it's kind of important to let me KNOW that I will be supervising him, so I don't look around wondering who's supposed to be saving him if he begins to drown. You see, I often do not wear a suit to the pool. Since both of my kids are strong swimmers I can do that, but generally, when a kid depends on water wings AND a noodle to stay afloat, I like to be prepared.

As a side note, please inform your child that cats are not really down with having their ears taped together, and that since fish aren't really fond of cats, it kind of freaks them out if you put one in the aquarium. You might also mention that cat food is for cats and fish food is for fish, and the next time my cat horks up a whole can of Tetramin on the bed your kid will be sent home wearing the soiled bedsheets like a Toga.

And not that I'm complaining about how much time he spends over here, but when a child I didn't personally give birth to saunters through the living room with a pilfered Maxim under his arm and announces that he's going to go "Sink the S.S. Feces", it may be that he's taking the saying "Make yourself at home" a bit too literally. In which case, he should feel free to lend a hand with our daily clean up instead of assuming a supervisory role. And just so we're all clear about this, the next time he tells me "You missed one", I'm going to have to miss one right down his throat.

But you know...maybe we can make this relationship work. You're out "anyway", would you mind picking up the cat at the vet (remember the Tetramin?) and swinging by the store for a gallon of milk and some Tampax? Oh, and a Caramel Frappacino from Starbucks would reeeeealllly hit the spot.

Thanks. I'm so glad we had a chance to talk. I feel much better now.

I honestly don't mind having kids over here. I'd rather they were here, where I know what they're doing and watching and playing than hanging out someplace where supervision is questionable or non-existent. Growing up, our home was not the "hang out" house, and I often wished it was. I encourage hanging out here.

BUT. It would be nice to be asked. It would be nice if people would teach their children how to behave in someone else's home. It would be nice if people didn't just assume that I have nothing better to do all day than feed and entertain everyone else's kids. And it would be nice if someone reciprocated once in a while. Is it so wrong to expect a little courtesy? Once, a Mom I scarcely know dropped her kid off in front of the house with a cell phone, gave him the "call me" sign, and drove off. WTF?

For the record, it isn't just the working moms. Some of the worst offenders are stay at home moms like myself who just want a few hours of peace and quiet. Don't we all??

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden

I should have known the Jesus fish was a portent of some kind.

They are so omnipresent here that I have become kind of blind to them. I see them, but I don't see them, like Kudzu and Rebel Flags.

We were on the Interstate heading to Turner Field for a Braves Game last night, and I noticed a Jesus Fish on the car in front of us. It reminded me that husband had promised to get me a Darwin Fish for my van, and had not followed through. We talked about it briefly and then, as happens when you have kids, a tangent ensued and the matter was forgotten.

Later that night, driving home, talking about this and that but not really talking about anything of substance, Diminutive One asked,

" did people get on the earth?"

His ability to extrapolate profound and abstruse concepts from idle chit chat is astounding. Also, he has impeccable timing, because he always seems to ask these questions when I am least prepared. Forget AP or PP or any of that horseshit. I practice SOS parenting. Sink or Swim.

Husband glanced at me, smirking. He knows this is a hot button issue for me. I am rabid about not introducing or perpetuating ficitious and outmoded ideals. Namely, Creationism, or God forbid (pun intended), Intelligent Design. But, I do want my kids to think for themselves and so I also resist the urge to promote my own ideals as unimpeachable.

Donning my diplomat hat, I explained that some people believe the whole Adam and Eve thing and some believe that human beings evolved from lower life forms. This led to an abbreviated explanation of the big bang theory, which led to an equally abbreviated discussion about mitochondrial DNA and the out of Africa Theory and Dinosaurs and Cavemen which somehow led to speculation about life on other planets, at which point my brain exploded.

"No more questions!" I snapped. Clearly, I do not belong in a classroom. In my defense, it was midnight and I had just spent four hours in sub-tropical heat with 40,000 likkered up rednecks. was productive. The boys, of their own accord, decided that there was probably more evidence to support evolution than anything else. They never asked what I believe, or what Husband believes, though I was ready for it. At one point however, Diminutive One asked, "What if you kind of believe both things?"

Well, honey, then you run for a seat on the Board of Education!

But seriously...I get what he means. How does a person of faith reconcile their beliefs with scientific data? It's a toughie. My kids are not being raised in a Christian household, but one branch of our family tree is extremely religious. If at some point they decide to embrace Christianity, I will be happy for them, and do my best to support their convictions. So it's a fair question.

He continued, "If you don't believe in Adam and Eve, that kinda means you don't believe in God, right?"

"BINGO!" I wanted to shout. I didn't. Instead I said, "Then I guess you have to decide which you want to believe more." Lame. Lame. Lame. Again, midnight. Rednecks.

All he said was, "Oh."

He was silent the rest of the way home, but I swear, I could hear his synapses firing as he worked through all that we had told him.

Pre-Pubescent One was contemplative as well. After the funeral last week he had asked me, "Mom, do you ever think about where you go if there isn't really any heaven?"

All I could think to say was, "Yes, babe, I think about it all the time."

I want them to know it's okay to question, but I wish I could offer them the security of answers. Maybe allowing them to question is it's own kind of security. That's what I'm telling myself anyway.

Sometimes having kids who think too much really blows.

Monday, August 07, 2006

My Husband....

On the heels of my identity crisis, I have been stewing about this whole writing thing. It's what I want to do, because it's what I am. I don't want to work at Wal-Mart or Doofus, Doorknob and Dunce Inc., doing mindless work that means nothing to me. So full speed ahead with the writing gig.

But....can I really write a whole friggen book? Can I really sit down each day from x am to x pm and write, ignoring dirty dishes and laundry? Can I keep myself motivated? Can I write on demand? If so...what the hell am I going to write about? What is my hook? Where is my plot? All these thoughts have been whirling around in my head and I have been distracted and distant as I try to sort through the details of becoming a legitimate, and paid, writer.

So the other day, husband, who is aware of my discontent and who has been trying really hard to support and encourage said....

"So..when are you going to get serious with this writing thing? You have what it takes you know."

I expressed all my fears and doubts to him. He listened patiently, and surpressed the urge to offer pat solutions, which is what sometimes happens when women and men approach the same issue from gender biased angles. We've had many discussion that ended up with him declaring in frustration..."I'm just trying to HELP!" and me yelling..."I don't WANT you to help, I just want you to LISTEN!"

So he did.

And when I summed it all up by saying..."I just don't know if I have the focus or the discipline to write a real book."

He looked me right in the eye and said....

"Baby. You already ARE."

And there it was. My husband saw what I couldn't. My female propensity for complicating matters had rendered me blind to the fact that I have, little by little, been writing a book about my life here in the South. And I think, maybe, people would even like to read it.

Thank you, honey. Me love you long time.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Making Progress....

I am making some progress on my Funeral piece and am very pleased with it. It's turning out to be much longer than I anticipated, but that's okay. I'm still not quite ready to post it, so I need some filler here. I am going to do something I swore I'd never do, but desperate times call for desperate measures. In my writing, I reveal many of my deepest feelings, but I don't reveal much about who I am in everyday life. So, here are 20 interesting things about me.

1. I shaved half my head in highschool during a pseudo-punk phase.

2. I flunked my senior year of highschool because I blew off all of my classes except Art, French, and Creative Writing. I was missing so many credits I had to repeat an entire year, during which I made straight A's.

3. When I left home at 18, I had only $100 in my pocket. Then I thought myself very adventurous. It strikes me now as incredibly foolhardy. I was lucky that my boyfriend's parents were willing to let me squat at their place until I was on my feet.

4. I have double jointed elbows. It freaks people out.

5. I was once a size 0 and my Dad thought I had an eating disorder. I didn't, which is now painfully apparent.

6. When I was 15, I got a job working in a pizza parlor which catered to the after bar crowd. The owner had to let me go because he got fined for having a minor serving beer.

7. My parents owned a (different) pizza place when I was in highschool.

8. I witnessed the very first MTV Broadcast. Who can name the very first video they played? Never mind...Google has taken all the fun out of trivia.

9. People say I look like Drew Barrymore. Snort.

10. I grew up in the same town as Harry Houdini.

11. I used to run an internet message board site that had over 7,000 members, almost all of which, were women. Yeah.

12. My wedding day was one of the biggest disasters EVER. It's a very long story, but one thing that happened was that the seamstress delivered the wrong dress to the church, and then promptly left the country for Bolivia, with my dress locked in her house. I had to wear a store demo to walk down the aisle.

13. Because of a very sporadic menstrual cycle, I didn't realize that I was pregnant with my first child until I was 10 weeks pregnant. He was born six weeks early, which means I was only conscious of being pregnant for about five months.

14. With my second child, I was 9 weeks pregnant when I found out. I had suffered an early miscarriage only 12 weeks prior to that. There was some speculation that I might have been pregnant with twins the first time, but it was never proven conclusively. My son was born on the second due date, but was 9lbs 3 oz and showed signs of being significantly post-term.

15. I lost 40 pounds in two days with my second child due to pre-eclampsia.

16. I quit smoking cold turkey 9 years ago. I was pregnant. Pregnancy hormones plus nictone withdrawal equals one beleagured husband.

17. I used to speak fluent French. I haven't used it since my honeymoon in Paris 13 years ago, and can now barely manage to ask for the bathroom.

18. I am naturally brunette, but have been dying my hair red for over 20 years. My kids have never seen me with anything but red hair. I have very fair, freckled skin and green eyes, and people are often surprised to find that I am not a natural redhead.

19. I am not what is known as a "morning person". Given a chance, I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning and sleep until noon.

20. 25 years ago, I chose a pen name to use when I became a famous author, because my maiden name was really embarassing. I still think it's cool.

So there you go. I know it's inane, but it's been three days since my last post and I'm feeling a little blog anxiety, which I used to think was beyond ridiculous.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I know, I know....'re waiting for part two of "Funeral In A Small Town. The truth is, I'm having trouble. I want to convey the humor and the unique cultural flavor while still remaining respectful and that's proving harder than I thought. I don't know how to say this without sounding really flippin smug and pompous, so I'll just out with it....writing is not hard for me. It's really innate and instinctive, like breathing. Much of what I write is not "crafted", it just happens. So when I find myself struggling, it's disconcerting. It's almost like someone has put one of those weird BDSM masks over my head with only two little straws in the nostril holes to provide air. I can breathe (write), but it's a laborious, panicky, and so....deliberate. When I try too hard, everything I write sounds stilted and contrived. This is what I fear about making the commitment to write a book.

Anyway...I've decided I need to take a break, clear my mind, and come back to it later refreshed and refocused. Often when I do this, snatches of thought and fragments of prose come to me while doing the most mundane things...brushing my teeth, scrubbing a toilet, cleaning the cat box. Then I have to stop what I am doing and rush to the computer before it is obscured by the grocery list, dentist appointments and the other mindless detritus that litters my life. At my house it's not uncommon to find a forgotten pot boiling merrily on the stove, or a scrub brush bobbing in the toilet bowl, or the mop and pail abandoned in the middle of the kitchen floor. Once I scorched some peas so badly I had to dispose of the pot. The kids have peed on the toilet brush more times than I can count. And my kitchen floor is often mopped in stages, sometimes days apart.

So, I'm just writing to write, putting the words down as they come to me without really putting forth any effort to paint a verbal picture or properly characterize a person, place or thing. That means this will probably be a pretty disjointed rambling post, so feel free to skip it. I'm going to disgorge a few banal thoughts and not worry about being highbrow or erudite.

Ummm...OH! Okay. You all probably know that I am a hardcore bibliophile, and it's rare that I find a book so incredibly bad that I don't finish it. This book, is that bad. The premise is interesting, and the research seems pretty exhaustive. But the grammar is so poor and the sentence structure is so clumsy that it is actually painful to read. I found myself reading passages 3 and 4 times to puzzle through the meaning. I finally gave up. And I know this is inexcusably sexist of me, but men writing as women always comes off sounding terribly ersatz and forced. The only good thing about this book is that it made me realize that if something this bad was accepted by some publisher, perhaps I have a shot after all.

By contrast, this book, ROCKS. The two are similar only in that they are both archeological thrillers. Comparing the two is like comparing Mikasa to Corelle. I'm not much of a thriller reader in general, because they tend to be very trite and formulaic, even from one author to another. But Preston and Child always manage to make their plots fresh and interesting with truly surprising twists. In addition, their books are usually packed with well researched historical/anthropological/achealogical information and this one is no exception. If you haven't read any Preston and Child, do so.

In the same vein, don't watch this movie. It is positively abysmal, and will give you a whopping case of motion sickness to boot. I don't know what it is with all the supposedly innovative and clever camera tomfoolery that they are doing these days, but I think it's just dumb. In this case, the technique is called "hypershake" and it is used to lamentable excess. Plus, the plot was stupid, the acting was horrendous, and the ending was beyond ridiculous.

Recently, I've realized that I am somewhat of a blogging oddity. I am a post-natal, pre-menopausal, mid-life, stay at home Mom, who still has kids at home, but whose life no longer revolves around parenting. This blogosphere demographic is not exactly rife with members at the moment. I've been searching, and I've found that we are disconcertingly few. Thankfully, I have Kvetch to turn to when I am feeling like the odd man out, and when I'm feeling a little removed from the issues that are being discussed among the so-called Mommybloggers. Not that I dislike Mommybloggers. I don't at all. I truly enjoy reading and remembering. But when I read those blogs, it's with a kind of wistful fondness makes me wish things were that simple again. And honestly, beyond "it will pass" and "follow your instincts" I don't have a great deal to offer in terms of comments.

And the reverse is true as well. Young Moms focused on getting through the sleepless nights and leaky breasts and poop issues aren't really finding my issues all that relevant to them. It's hard to reason through what you're going to say to a pre-teen about pre-marital sex at some point in what seems to be the very distant future, when you're running on three hours of sleep because the parasite that you birthed cannot seem to function for more than 3o minutes without a human nipple clenched between it's toothless jaws.

I'm thinking of starting a blogring for us disenfranchised not quite ready for the red hat bloggers. What should I call it?

My husband is wonderful. Sometimes, I wonder how in the world I ended up with him. Last week, in the midst of the grief and the mourning, he still reached out to me when I was feeling lost. He let me know that whatever I needed, he would help me find and that he would do anything to support me. What a guy. When I read this site, it makes me sad that every woman can't have the unconditional love and support that I have. I don't use this term often, because of its religious connotations, but I am blessed with a truly wonderful husband. He's not perfect and I'm not either. We don't have a perfect marriage. Sometimes, we drive each other crazy. But underneath it all, there is love and respect and something that I think some people don't have, which is a genuine LIKE for their spouse. He's my best friend.

I guess that's all the rambling thoughts I have. And I feel a little better now. I'm going to go scrub toilets and wait for the rest of "Funeral in a Small Town Part 2" to come to me.

Thanks for tuning in. I want to get it right, so I am resisting the urge to push myself, but I'll try not to keep you waiting too long.