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.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Social Theory in the Blogosphere

*An addendum to this post has been added below*

I have a theory that I'd like to test. Bear with me here.

My sons are both circumcised. Why? Because Husband felt strongly about it, while I, not having a penis, did not. I imagine it had something to with the fact that his father had to undergo circumcision at an advanced age due to recurring bladder infections, and the resulting agony. But I didn't specifically ask. He said he wanted them circumcised, I said okay.

I got to decide pretty much everything regarding labor and childbirth, since the byproduct of our union was going to be dragged kicking and screaming from my tender and theretofore amazingly snug orifice and not his.

I decided on how they would be fed (Breast), how they would sleep (Sometimes co, sometimes solo) what kind of diapers they would wear (Are you kidding me?? Disposable. The End.) and whom their pediatrician would be. I selected all the baby paraphanalia. All of it.

Ergo, I felt that he deserved the privilege of making this decision. I wanted him to feel involved and relevant. I wanted him to know that I cared that he cared. So our boys were circumcised. And that was that.

I am not eaten up by guilt. I don't think they have been "butchered" or mutilated. I think their penii look just fine. I think little boys who have not been circumcised look just fine too. I don't consider one choice superior to the other. If for some reason they couldn't have been circumcised, it would have made very little difference to me one way or another.

The above statements are true, but I posted them for the sake of social science in the blogosphere. I want to see how much my page views increase when I post a juicy keyword and/or take a controversial stance on a hot button issue. And I want to see if my readership as a whole increases. If so, maybe I'll make a point to mention something controversial on a regular basis.

I'll let you know what happens.

Maybe some important people would be interested in my oh so scientificly sound study.

This could really lead to something.

Addendum for the reader who wondered why male genital "mutilation" is acceptable, while female genital mutilation is not:

Female genital mutilation really is mutilation in the truest sense of the word. In FGM, the clitoris is removed entirely, thereby rendering the female unable to achieve orgasm. (Unless she is one of the elusive few who experiences orgasm by pentetration alone. Frankly, I think that's a urban legend.) In circumcision, the glans is left intact, and only superfluous tissue (meaning that although foreskin does have a purpose, it is not necessary to achieve orgasm) is removed.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Leaving Me

Friday was the last day of school for my boys.

That night, we took them out to dinner to celebrate their freedom, and lament the loss of mine. Though the restaurant was crowded with similarly jubilant parties, and Diminutive One kept jumping up to use the bathroom, it was a relaxing dinner. We talked, we joked, we teased one another like we do.

Pre-Pubescent One was telling me all about the many couples that had formed on the last day of school. He explained that anybody who had been too timid or afraid to ask the person of their dreams to "go out with them", had done so the last day of school, knowing, that if rejected, they would not have to face their peers or their paramour the next day.

Strangely, I can see the adolescent logic in this thinking.

After naming several new power couples, he ducked his head and said shyly, "I have a girlfriend you know."

And then his face broke into an incandescent grin, the likes of which used to be reserved for dinosaurs and matchbox cars. Suddenly, I missed that little boy very much. Now it's dimples and big blue eyes that cause him to light up. Now, his heart is no longer mine to protect.

I looked at him, trying to see him out the eyes of the twelve year old girl that I once was. He is tall and lean with narrow hips and broad shoulders. He has thick and shiny brown hair, that is fashionably long and feathers pleasingly away from his face. This is the result of much careful styling, but it looks perfectly unaffected. His skin is still smooth and clear.

He has enormous hazel eyes and full lips. They are utterly kissable those lips, and always have been. As a baby and toddler, he had to endure much smooching on his succulent red mouth. That mouth is now full of metal, but it only serves to make him look disconcertinly mature. He could easily pass for fourteen or fifteen.

It hit me with a son is a hottie.

This realization made me feel a melange of emtions, but mostly, I felt inexpressibly afraid. Because he's a soft hearted kid; a sensitive soul. Like his Dad, he exudes tenderness, compassion and sensitivity. Like his Dad, he doesn't feel the need for a lot of hyper-masculine affectation. For that reason, girls have always been drawn to him. And for that reason, I fear his heart will be broken time and time again.

Girls are going to eat him alive, and there is nothing I can do about it. No band-aid, no ice bellied boo-boo bear, no tender kisses will be able to ease the anguish of lost love.

He noticed me scrutinizing him, and his grin widened self-consciously.

"What?!?" he asked.

He thought I was making fun of him, but I wasn't.

"Nothing, honey! I'm just happy for you. Tell me about her."

Her name is Ellen. She is beautiful. Ellen is nice. Ellen is smart, athletic and popular. Ellen this. Ellen that. Ellen, Ellen, Ellen. He wants to invite her over. He wants to take her to the movies.

I felt the Margarita that had been pleasantly warming my cheeks turn into a flaming ball of acid in the pit of my stomach. He had it bad.

I asked him if he had kissed her, and he confirmed my suspicions by turning scarlet and averting his gaze.

" it time for us to have the talk?"

I was really just teasing. We explained to him where babies come from long ago. Inquisitive children have a way of ferretting out information before we're really ready to give it. In Pre-Pubescent One's case...that was at the tender age of seven, when he oh so casually asked me out of a clear blue sky..."So, Mom, what exactly is sex anyway?"

But with a sinking feeling, I realized the day was coming when we would have to discuss all the really tough stuff about sex.

He looked up at me through his lashes and mumbled "I already know about abstinence Mom."

Husband smirked. If only it could be so easy. If only I could tell my children not to have sex until they're married and know without a doubt that they would obey that would make things a whole lot easier. But both Husband and I are pragmatists. We will teach them about birth control and preach the gospel of Trojan to them.

"Well, honey, there's a lot more to it than that, but I don't think we need to talk about it right now."

He was noticeably relieved.

"So, ummm, you still love me the most, right?"

I was teasing again. Sorta. Kinda. Not really.

I've always known that my boys would leave me one day, and that another woman would become their best friend and confidant. These puppy loves are a horrible precursor to losing my boys. I know they will always love me. But they won't always need me. And that is a terrible truth to face.

"What do you mean, Mom? I can't like, date you you know!"

He looked fainly nauseated at the thought.

"Well....let's say, we were in a burning building and you could only save one of us. Who would you choose?"

He didn't hesitate.

"Well, I don't think I could carry you Mom."

He was teasing. The smartass apple doesn't fall far from the tree. But I must have looked stricken because he hastened to reassure me.

"But, I could like, drag you or something!

Jesus, this dating thing is going to kill us both.

I think it will be easier with Diminutive One, whom, I suspect, will love 'em and leave 'em and never be the worse for it. least they can't get pregnant.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Book Blather

I haven't done a book post in a while, so perhaps that would be something worth blogging about that doesn't require too much abstract thought.

I spent my Barnes&Noble gift certificate the other day. Every penny. In a disconcertingly short period of time. It was a pretty substantial amount, and I know husband thought it would last me a while. But I'm a complete and total book whore. I have no control when it comes to books.

My TBR list is about a mile long and I'm not a good library person. I check out 40 books at a time and then forget to take them back. I rack up huge fines and then have to pay them off in small increments. I think I am responsible for the new furniture in the main lobby.

But I tried to be a savvy shopper. I was thrilled to see several of my choices in the bargain section, which I always make a point to peruse thoroughly. It's amazing what you can find sometimes. It's there that I usually find my non-fiction just because I like the subject matter/pictures books. On this trip I found a book about the Louvre that I had been coveting had been relegated to the bargain bin, and I snatched it up for $15. This is a huge book with tons of beautiful photographs and a very detailed history of the museum. I was totally stoked.

You may have gathered that in addition to being a book whore I am a complete nerd.

I was really pleased to see a new display of noteworthy selections of both classic and contemporary literature. So instead of digging through the entire fiction section searching for those literary gems, I could simply browse the rather sizeable display and be reasonably assured of making a good choice.

Here's what I ended up with:

Cold Sassy Tree; Olive Anne Burns
Cat's Eye; Margaret Atwood
Shoot the Moon; Billy Letts
Mercy; Jodi Picoult
Sophie's World; Jostein Gardner
Wideacre; Phillipa Gregory
Persuasion; Jane Austen
Bleak House; Charles Dickens
Faithless; Karen Slaughter

I always try to choose a nice mix of brain candy and brain broccoli and I think I have accomplished that. I must confess that every single time I go into a book store, I pick up either Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged and put them down, at least a dozen times. I am incredibly intriqued, but hopelessly intimidated. Depending upon whom you talk to, Ayn Rand was either a genius or a nutcase. Regardless, if I were to find myself incapable of understanding her, I should feel very stupid. It's a feeling I try to avoid. Perhaps someday I will screw up my courage.

If you're looking for some good summer reading, here are my suggestions:

Peace Like a River; Leaf Enger - I absolutely LOVE this book. It is the perfect blend of wit and whimsy, with wonderfully rich characters and a really clever, engaging story. There is a spiritual element to this book, but it is not terribly pervasive, only tentatively...hopeful. This is like candy coated brain broccoli.

Pillars of the Earth; Ken Follett - Another that I could read over and over again. This book is very, very different from the standard Follett spy/intrigue/murder fare. Its a very well researched and incredibly detailed historical novel, set in the 12th century and centered around one man's desire to build a cathedral. I know, it sounds very dry, but it's not. Trust me.

Of Mice And Men; John Steinbeck - This is my very favorite Steinbeck novel. This novel was written in 1937, but I feel like Lennie and George could walk through my door today. Steinbeck is an absolute genius of character development. I've probably read this book fifteen times and I still cry every time.

The Descent; Jeff Long
- This is pure brain candy, but it's a very high quality confection. Like...literary Godiva. It's an anthropological thriller, which is sort of a contradiction in terms, but it's really a quite stunning mix of fantasy and reality that plays upon one of man's darkest fears; subjugation.

Thunderhead; Preston and Child - A page turner in the truest sense. Again, it is a mix of anthropolical fact and mystery thriller. It's slightly less fantastic than The Descent, although no less captivating. If you enjoy reading about other cultures, lost civilizations and the like, then don't miss this one. And really, you can't go wrong with Preston and Child. They deliver wonderfully gripping, deliciously gruesome and cleverly constructed novels time and time again.

Sex With Kings: 500 Years Of Adultery, Power, Rivalry and Revenge; Eleanor Herman - This is a completely absorbing novel about the very complex and precarious existence of the many royal mistresses. It's an amazing glimpse into the power they weilded while still being essentially powerless. The intricacies of royal infidelity are explored in depth from Madame Du Pompadour to Wallace Simpson. Delicious.

Girls of A Tender Age; Mary Anne Tirone Smith - Though one of my favorite genres, the art of memoir is not as easy to affect as one would think. Too often it is self-indulgent, sensationalistic blather (A Million Little Pieces, anyone?). But Tirone-Smith tells the completely engaging story (murder, familial discord and resentment, religious zeal and subsequent disenfranchisement, the dissatisfaction of an unfulfilling 1950's pre-feminist existence) with a straightforward but not unemotional voice that is both refreshing and totally captivating.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down; Anne Fadiman - WOW. This book blows me away each and every time I read it. It is the factual account of a doctor who encounters a Hmong family with an epileptic child, and the ensuing difficulty in treating the child due to the yawning chasm of cultural divergence. There is much fascinating insight into the Hmong culture and their beliefs and how they are thoroughly at odds with American medical practices and our own culture as a whole. Don't miss this one.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; Betty Smith - Since I first read this book at 13, Francie and Neelie have been much, much more than characters in a book to me. This book is simply stunning. It's like...Angela's Ashes but with more heart, more pain, more everything. You want Francie and Neelie to make it, to overcome. And you are left feeling that somehow, they will.

Obviously, I could go on, and on, and on with book recommendations, but I will stop for now. If you'd like to leave some of your own recommendations in my comments please do so. I'm always looking for something new and wonderful to read.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bad Blogger

Way back when this blog was nothing but a satirical commentary on the nature of blogs and bloggers, I said I would never chastise myself for not blogging more frequently. I would never be a slave to my blog or my audience. I would never write just to see words on the page. I would never blather on about the inanities of my life. My blog would mean something.

It's a good thing I like crow.

I've been a bad blogger. ((cringe)) That looks even more pathetic in writing. But I haven't been writing anything worth reading and I haven't been commenting.

I have a perfectly good reason for that, I swear.

This is the last week of school for my kids, and last week was baseball playoffs for both boys. I've been running around like the proverbial chicken minus his proverbial head.

This is what my life is about, of course. It's what I do. I procure stuff. I organize stuff. I attend stuff. It was part of the deal I made with husband when I told him I wasn't going back to work twelve years ago.

Also, I have been working on editing my piece "Funeral In a Small Town" for submission to the Southern Women Writers Writing contest. The deadline is June 1st. My piece has roughly twice as many words as the submission guidelines require, and it is killing me to discard even the smallest one.

I really don't know how "real" writers survive the editorial process. I have labored over these words, writing and re-writing until they felt the way I wanted them to feel. They are like my children these words...conceived in my mind and birthed onto the page. I cherish them. I am proud of them. I love them. Like my flesh and blood children, they are my legacy.

Needless to say, it's a slow and agonizing process.

So...anyway...despite the validity of my reasons for being absent from the blogosphere, I feel guilty about the crapitude of my blogging lately, as well as not making the rounds to comment the way I normally do.

I'm such a dork.

Forgive me.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Bitchy Is the New Funny

I am not funny.

I am dry, ascerbic, ironic, sarcastic. But not really funny in a side splitting laugh out loud kind of way. That's okay. Husband is the same way, so we get one another.

Unfortunately, as the kids get older, they are starting to get us too.

Sometimes, in some ways, that's kind of cool.

The other day at dinner, Diminutive One, always in motion, was perched upon one knee, precariously balanced on his chair, bent over his plate shovelling food into his mouth as fast as he could.

"Diminutive One, sit in your chair properly. We do not hunch over our food like an animal over its kill."

Pre Pubescent One said appreciatively, "Wow, Mom, good analogy!"

I felt strangely gratified and also kind of warm and fuzzy at the realization that he possessed a similar sense of humor, as well as the intelligence with which to recognize and understand its subtleties.

But occasionally I forget that my kids are getting old enough to grasp the nuances of sarcasm.

It used to be that Husband and I could remark back and forth over their heads without them having any real idea of whom or what we were discussing. Not anymore. Now we have to censor ourselves carefully. We have to save the really unsavory commentary for when we are alone. We have to set a good example.

And that's sometimes not so cool. Or so easy.

The other day in the car, we were behind a woman in an SUV who was talking on the phone. This is one of my HUGE pet peeves and the boys know it well, so I suppose they were already attuned to what I might say. This woman, as it happened, was swerving from lane to lane, often straddling the center line for minutes at a time.

I'm very verbal behind the wheel to begin with. It's really one of my worst habits. I grumble. I castigate. I swear.

So when I encounter someone who is endangering everyone around them simply because they can't be bothered to SHUT THEIR PIE HOLE and drive, it's simply beyond me to withhold my scorn.

Deepening my voice and affecting a distinctive radio announcer cadence, I said,

"Contestant #1 in the big honkin SUV...Choose a lane any lane! Choose carefully as your prize will depend upon the lane you choose! Will it be a functional but stylish cervical collar, or the always fashionable body cast? Take your time, but remember, you lose valuable mortality points for every moment you spend straddling the center line! If you lose all your points, you'll end up in the graveyard, and only a golden defribrilator can ressurect you!"

I was sort of caught up in my own cleverness, really enjoying the mockery, when I heard a snort from the backseat.

I looked in the rearview mirror to find Pre-Pubescent one smirking at me.

"What?" I demanded.

"That was really funny Mom."

I smiled and again felt very gratified that my son had recognized and appreciated my wit.

Then he said,

"Bitchy, but very funny."

"Bitchy???" I huffed. "That woman is going to kill somebody!!"

"Chill Mom. Did you ever hear of road rage? Jeez."


So you see how this newfound perceptiveness of theirs can be a double-edged sword.

Note to self: Ground PPO from video games for saying "bitchy".
Note to readers: I'm being sarcastic again. He won't be actually getting grounded.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Vindication Schmindication

Some of you may know that we are a baseball family. Both the boys have been playing baseball since they were six years old.

They are good.

My oldest has played Allstars for the last two summers. He was pursued for Allstars prior to that, but it is a HUGE commitment, both in terms of time and money. And it's not just a commitment for the player, but his family as well. Also, it's not cheap. So we said he could go out for Allstars when he was ten, which he did.

When he made Allstars, he put all his heart and soul into playing the very best that he could. He did not take his commitment lightly, and he took great pride in being an Allstar. There are some kids who are very blase about it...they feel they deserve to be Allstars...the team is lucky to have them. Not my kid. He has felt genuinely honored and privileged to be a part of it.

After the first summer, I was not entirely pleased. In fact, I said, I did not want Pre-Pubescent One to play again for this particular Coach. I thought the Coach was ill-equipped to serve as a role model to young boys. In addition, his coaching was mediocre at best. Also, I found him to be emotionally and psychologically stunted (it didn't take me very long to figure out why he's divorced). As a result, he often blamed the boys for his own tactical mistakes.

When tryouts rolled around again, Pre-Pubescent One BEGGED me to let him go out and after discussing the matter at length with husband, I relented. Husband and I thought that perhaps if we got more closely involved we could gently and constructively offer suggestions for more effective conflict resolution.

I, foolishly, volunteered to be Team Mom and Husband became the Treasurer in addition to being an Assistant Coach. Both of these jobs are very time consuming and work intensive, but they put us in a position of intimacy and confidence with the Coach, which we thought was a good thing.

It wasn't.

To make a very long and ugly story short, but unfortunately no more sweet, after last summer, I was even more determined that Pre-Pubescent One not play for this man again.

Again he begged me to go out, and again, I relented, knowing in the back of my mind that he wouldn't be chosen. He was not. It wasn't because of his ability or his skill level. He is inarguably one of the better players in the league.

There are two reasons he was not chosen.

First, because the Coach got tired of Husband and I telling him what we thought. There were so many instances I can't possibly go into them all here without boring you to tears (if you weren't already at that point) but the most glaring instance of his ineptitude and immaturity occurred at the World Series last summer, when he threw a full blown tantrum in the dugout, kicking over coolers, pounding the fence and swearing.

Now, we weren't even supposed to be at this Series. We are an Allstar team, and this was a Series designed for travel ball teams, which are supposed to qualify to be able to compete. The Coach knows the coordinator of the Series and pulled some strings to get us in. I knew none of this, or I would have protested. Loudly.

These teams had been playing together in some instances, for years. Our boys had been playing together for just over 8 weeks. We didn't win many games, but we held our own. None of our losses was a massacre. We did remarkably well considering the position we were in.

And yet he felt compelled to throw a tantrum because we were losing a game. It was the last straw. Husband took him aside and told him in no uncertain terms to calm his ass down and act like a leader and a role model should.

He didn't like it.

The second reason is was the rivalry between my son and another player, who was new to team. They are both pitchers, and truthfully, the other kid is a better pitcher than my son. He was rightfully the lead-off pitcher, and in many cases, the closer as well. My son rarely got to pitch, and when he did, he was pulled after only one or two walks while his nemesis was left in, floundering, inning after inning. During one game, he loaded up the bases twice and gave up 8 runs because of it.

The obvious favoritism both on and off the field really began to bother Pre-Pubescent One, and the other child took every opportunity to rub his nose in it. He tried. He really did. But eventually, his attitude began to suffer. Who can blame him??

And the Coach, contrary to what a mature, responsible leader should have done, ignored, and in some cases, even fanned the flames of this rivalry. There were several altercations, most of them started by the other child. In every instance, it was Pre-Pubescent One who was chastised for his attitude problem and punished by being benched.

This year, the Coach again wanted the other kid for his lead pitcher, but he did not want to deal with the rivalry. Though an insufferable blowhard, he is a coward at heart, and he hasn't the first clue how to handle those kinds of situations constructively, diplomatically, or effectively.

Their rivalry did not have to escalate to the point that it did. It could have been nipped in the bud at the beginning of the season by letting both players know that they were valued members of a TEAM.

But instead, he simply removed the problem. He cut loose a kid who had given him everything he had for two summers; summers during which he gave up everything to be a part of the team.

I am relieved that I don't have to put up with him this summer, but Pre-Pubescent One is devastated. And that hurts me. It angers me. It makes me want to rip that guy's head off and spit down his neck. It makes me want to kick his scrawny little ass. It makes me want to pull out what's left of his hair by the roots.

But I didn't and I won't. Husband and I have congratulated the kids who made the team, and wished everyone the very best in the season ahead. And we meant it. It's not their fault their Coach is a jackass.

So....anyway...Allstars were chosen two weeks ago. And since that time, Pre-Pubescent One has been ON FIRE. He is throwing strikes right and left and twice in one week, he put it over the fence. He's only one of three kids in the league who has done so, and he is leading the league in the number of home runs.

Both times, it was witnessed by the Allstar Coach.

And though I don't really consider myself a vindictive person, I found myself hoping like hell that he was sorry. I found myself imagining him, coming to me, contrite, apologetic, remorseful...asking if he could please have Pre-Pubescent One on the team. And I imagined scoffing in his face and turning him down flat. I imagined him walking away, slump shouldered and defeated.

Eat your heart out, I thought.


If it had been myself in this position, I would have shrugged it off. I would have reasoned that I was better off not being on the team and having to put up with his nonesense. I do it in my own life all the time, because life is too short to let other people piss in your cheerios.

But this...this really got me. Somebody hurt my baby. Somebody treated him unfairly.

And that makes me want blood.

Or, at least one more out of the park homerun.

He's playing tonight in the league playoffs. And though we have never, ever done so, I am seriously considering offering a nice bribe reward if he can do it one. more. time.

But I am above that kind of behavior, right? I am not a crazy sports Mom. I try to tell myself...vindication schmindication...what good does it do in the long run?

But damn I want it. I want it bad.

Maybe $100 would do it.

Inflation, yannow.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The One Where I Get All Preachy

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

The reason there is no one answer or any right way is because children are not built on an assembly line according to a list of factory specs. There is no quality control. And we do not get to shop for a model that best suits our character, meets our needs, and lives up to our standards. Each and every child is wonderfully and wholly individual; utterly unlike any other being on the planet.

What. A. Miraculous. Thing.

And how lucky we are to have such a wide variety of parenting philosophies, beliefs, information and techniques at our disposal to aid us in the daunting task of raising those miracles to adulthood. Applying one parenting method or strategy to all children is a little like making every woman wear size 6 jeans. It leaves the party in question uncomfortable and demoralized.

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

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

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

I'm not perfect by a longshot, and I don't have all the answers. But I've been a parent for 11 years now, and what I do have is some perspective. And I can tell you that in ten years, what you fed your child, how you disciplined your child, how you sleep trained your child (or didn't), how you potty trained your child (or didn't) and whether you put them in daycare or stayed at home, doesn't matter even a fraction as much as how much you loved them, nurtured them and believed in them. What you put in a child's belly isn't half so nourishing as what you put into their psyche. What you put on a child's bottom isn't half so absorbent as that child's amazing little brain.

And there is no confusion over who is the Mommy, regardless of where she goes to work. I promise.

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

We can do better, ladies.

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

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

Originally posted 04/06. Sadly, it's still a very relavent issue. Sorry for the recycling...consider it my contribution to keeping the blogosphere green. That, and the fact that I'm up to my armpits in housework and laundry that has gone too long ignored due to baseball playoffs and end of school craziness merry making at both schools.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Fine Art of Idleness

I slept until 1:00 today. Yes.

One. Pee. Em.

I should have included that little fact on my "ten things" post. I love to sleep. LOVE it. I am not a morning person, which is an unfortunate trait to possess when one has children that have be fed and clothed and put on the bus by 7 am. But, my night owl tendencies came in really handy when dealing with infants.

At any given point in any day, I could lie down and sleep for several hours or more. However, once the moon is high in the sky, my ability to sleep often abandons me.

I have tried for years to reset my internal clock to no avail. My body likes it that way and sees no reason to change. All my efforts have ever afforded me is a whopping case of sleep deprivation and frustration borne of hours lying in a rumpled bed while the unsleeping minutes tick by.

I try not to sleep during the day. Because I do have to get up with my kids and if I succumb to the allure of my soft, fluffy, womblike bed...I pay for it. I have at times, lain awake for the entire night, risen to see them off to school, and then somnambulated my way through the entire day trying to assure myself a good night's sleep the following night.

And since the world operates on a 9-5 schedule, there are things I must accomplish during the day that cannot be accomplished during those hours when my thought processes are the sharpest. It sucks to be nocturnal in a world that is populated by worm lovers.

However, a lot of housework does get done during the hours between dusk and dawn.

Also, I love my bed. I do all manner of things in my bed. I write, I read, I talk on the phone, I network. We don't have a television in the bedroom, but sometimes I take my laptop in there to watch episodes of stuff I have missed on Meevee or Netflix.

I once read that Einstein was the same way, and sometimes didn't leave his bed for days, though he was perfectly well. He just had a deep and abiding affinity for his bed., one of my Mother's Day indulgences was being allowed to sleep as late as I pleased. I really only slept until about 10:30, which surprised me. Then I cracked open a book and read for two hours. Then I simply laid in my bed and listened to Husband exorting the boys to relative quiet and trying to keep the house in good order until I arose.

You know those Mothers who complain that they appreciate the thought, but they just can't sit around doing nothing? I am not one of them. I have raised the art of loafing to new heights.

After I got up, I was plied with blueberry muffins and hot fresh coffee. The house was boy clean, and I had cards aplenty, as well as a Barnes&Noble gift card, which, in my house is the gold standard of gifts. Screw diamonds.

Then I went for an hour long walk while hubby slaved in the kitchen over my favorite meal. It's a Persian meal that requires hours of preparation, so it's no small feat.

Now, I'm going to go soak in a tub, uninterrupted, with a glass of wine. I'm going to shave everything. At the same time. I'm going to apply a face mask and not remove it until it's completely dry.

Then we will eat the fine meal hubby has prepared and watch a movie of my choosing. It will not be animated. It will not feature any person with super powers.

Have the boys bickered? Oh yes. Has the house gotten messed up? Yep. And now there are mounds of laundry, which I usually do Sunday afternoons, waiting for me Monday morning.

But no matter.

I can deal with anything when my chin hairs have been depilitated and my feet have been pumiced to the bone.


Friday, May 11, 2007

It Doesn't Take a Village so Lay Off My Kid

Yeah, yeah, I know how the old adage goes, but I think it's bunk, frankly.

I don't like other people disciplining my children.

I'm a pretty vigilant Mom. I have to be with Diminutive One. If my kids are misbehaving, I'm pretty swift to step in and resolve the issue. I'm not "that Mom" who chatters blithely or buries her nose in a book while her offpsring wreak havoc and terrorize other children.

As they get older and I afford them a little more freedom, there are times that they are out of my immediate line of sight. For instance, at the ballpark. If one child is playing ball, the other is allowed to roam pretty freely. The park is comprised of four fields situated in a circular fashion, with the concession stand in the center. From any one field, I can see two of the other four. We've been playing at this park for 7 years and we know so many people there that I feel confident that if one of my children were injured, or engaging in dangerous behavior, they would intervene.

And I have no problem with another adult stepping in to stop dangerous behavior if I am noticeably absent.

But I do take exception to someone yelling at or attempting to discipline my child when I am standing right there. In such an instance, I expect any adult witnessing the behavior to come to me, relay the necessary information and let me handle it.

I know that this is a somewhat controversial stance. Some people feel that any adult has the right and the responsibility to step in when children, even those not their own, are misbehaving. And really...I guess it doesn't bother me if the adult in question can be counted on to act rationally and fairly and dispense justice in an appropriate, non-threatening manner.

But not all adults can, and that's where the real problem lies, I suppose.

Last night at the ballpark, Pre-Pubescent One was playing ball, and Diminutive One was running with a pack of ballpark kids. They were playing tag, playing catch, goofing off...standard kid stuff. At one point, they began to throw gravel, which every kid in the park has been told at least a bzillion times, not to do.

They were playing mere feet from where I sat, but because my oldest child was pitching and I was engrossed in watching him, I was unaware of what was going on.

A Coach, one that we know and has in fact, been my oldest son's Allstar Coach for the past two summers, began screaming at Diminutive One and berating him for his behavior. He has a history of this sort of thing, and both Husband and I have had to ask him numerous times not to do it. He's an asshole, but that's really neither here nor there.

The point ANGERED me. I was sitting right there. It's true, I did not see what was going on, but all he had to do was tap me on the shoulder and let me know. The gravel is very small, not big enough to hurt anyone, really. And they weren't throwing it at anybody, just throwing it up to hear the clatter of stones as they rained down onto the cement. It was just kids being kids. It did not warrant that kind of violent reaction.

A simple..."Hey you kids, stop throwing gravel." would have sufficed. I probably wouldn't have batted an eyelash if another adult had said such a thing. But for someone to bear down on my child like a freight train, eyes bulging, veins popping, hurling invective....

I won't get it into all the sordid details, but let's just say...we had words.

I was calm, but firm. He was indignant.

He thought it his God given right to discipline an errant child. I thought it highly rude and presumptuous of him.

To be clear, I have on occasion, chastised children not my own for their behavior. But whenever possible and/or appropriate (meaning, no threat to life or limb is incipient) I try to locate their parent or caregiver, inform them, and then let them decide how to handle the situation.

I'm wondering how others feel about the issue. Perhaps I am over-sensitive to it because of my concerns over Diminutive One's behavior and how people perceive him. Perhaps, deep down, it feels like a judgement of my parenting when someone takes it upon themselves to admonish either of my boys. Maybe it's just a simple matter of maternal protectiveness. I don't know.

But I do know that nobody has the right to scream at my children except me. At least I do it with love.



A little bit.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Of Coyotes and Common Sense

We have coyote concerns, it seems.

I didn't catch the story on the news, because I was just about asleep on my feet at 10:00 and it was all I could do to stay awake for House (having been comatose for most of the previous 48 hours, I slept poorly Monday night), but I saw the teaser several times over the course of the day.

Apparently, there are coyotes afoot in the Metro area.

This is not surprising. Atlanta lies a mere 60 miles south of the foothills of the Appalachian mountain range. What is surprising is that people are surprised. They are also surprised by a deer carcass lying on a suburban thoroughfare. Or a mother raccoon who ravages their garbage nightly. They are surprised when Beavers dam up neighborhood creeks and alligators invade their sparkling chlorinated oases. They are surprised to find venomous snakes in sandboxes and vegetable gardens.

What can we do??? they want to know. They are concerned about their children and their pets, the integrity of their carefully sculpted and impressively expensive landscaping. They worry about their property values.

And who can blame them? When one spends $500,000 on the expansive and sanitary home of their dreams, in an impregnable neighborhood that is manicured, managed and satisfyingly if tenuously urban, one expects not to be discommoded by such creatures.

Never mind that these neighborhoods have been built where once stood forests, farmland, swamps and marshes. Never mind that they have filled in ponds and re-routed streams, never mind that they have pillaged and paved and denuded every square foot of land whereupon a home could possibly stand.

Never mind that those poor creatures were here first.

They are suburbanites and they will prevail!! They WILL have their piece of the pie, they WILL live the American dream, they WILL find their consumer utopia...nature be damned.

Luckily, I, Blog Antagonist, have the answer.

Stop. Building. Shit.

Perhaps I should run for City Council.


Those of you who have lived in Metro Atlanta for any length of time know that it is RIDICULOUS how fast the and how far the urban sprawl has despoiled the once lush and beautiful land.

When I moved here in 1988, there was absolutely nothing on what is now one of the busiest and most nightmarish commercial enclaves in Cobb County. There were only miles and miles of corn crops and kudzu.

When we bought our home in 1996, I had to drive 30 minutes to the procure groceries, gas, and fast food. Now I have all of that at my fingertips, and if it weren't for zoning laws designed to maximize profit and minimize foot traffic, I could walk to almost anything.

There are now four Starbucks within a 5 mile radius of my home. Two Wal-Marts. Three Targets. More restaurants than I could ever manage to patronize. Car washes. Nail salons. Drugstores. Gyms. Daycare Centers.

It's a pretty simple cause and effect equation. And yet....people are puzzled.

You know, I'm not a tree hugger, an environmentalist, an activist or a scientist. I am just one person who depends on this planet and it's resources. But I can see what is happening. I can extrapolate quite easily the consequences of such voracious consumption, such unconscionable polluting, such indiscriminate disposal of our refuse and such heedless displacement of the creatures with whom we must share the earth's bounty. Creatures upon whom, our survival might ultimately depend.

So why are we allowing this to happen? Why do we shake our heads and then go about our business? Why does the sight of a bulldozer or a logging truck not fill us with anger and indignation? Why are we accepting the death of our planet and our species?

I'm starting a campaign. It's the "Stop Building Shit" campaign. Will you join me?

Make a sign and take it to your next City Council meeting. I guarantee it will pique some interest.

Monday, May 07, 2007

M is for Monday, Meme, and Migraine

I have to thank Lucy's Mom over at Musings From the Left Coast for tagging me for a meme.

I know that you all know that I'm not much for memes. But I have been dealing with a migraine that will not loose its hold on my poor head since Thursday. I can't really think, much less be creative. I can, however, manage to ramble disjointedly about ten quirky qualities that I possess.

1. I like to pick mascara off my eyelashses. Sometimes I have to reapply mascara three or four times a day because I have picked it all off. Sometimes, I put it on just so I can pick it off. I actively avoid mascaras that claim "no clumping!" because clumps make for better picking.

2. I hate cooking. No...I LOATHE cooking. I do not find anything interesting, challenging or enjoyable about it. I find it a monumental waste of time and effort. I find it exceedingly boring. For me, it is the epitome of drudgework. I hate the chopping and peeling, I hate trying to time everything properly, I hate the mess. I hate killing myself to put a nice meal on the table only to have it decimated in about 4 seconds flat. If, that is, nobody feels compelled to convince me that they will convulse and die if the food I have prepared touches their lips. I would hire a chef before a maid any day. I think Carol Brady had it made with Alice around.

3. I like stuff. I'm a collector, but not a pack rat. There is a distinct difference. I'm pretty ruthless about clutter, that is to say, non essential ephemera that gathers daily in my home. But things that are beautiful or interesting are different. I have a pretty large collection of Lefton Holly Christmas china (it started with a few pieces handed down from my grandmother), vintage perfume bottles, and vintage children's books. I have small collections of vintage photographs, hats, linens and clothing. Hmmmmm. I see a theme here.

4. I love books. All books. I like the way they feel, I like the way they smell. I like to see them lined up neatly on my bookshelves, like a higgeldy piggeldy picket fence. I especially love children's books with beautiful illustrations or clever verses. I still buy picture books occasionally, even though my children have outgrown them. I have saved many of their books because I couldn't bear to part with them. I sometimes buy books I really have no intention of reading just because something about the book appealed to me, other than the subject matter. I have to get rid of many of the books that I read, simply because I don't have room for them. It hurts me to part with even the trashiest, most sensationalistic and poorly written paperback. My fondest wish is to one day have a home with a room that I can claim as a library. I will line the walls with shelves and fill them to bursting with all my books.

5. I am exceedingly girly. This surprises people who only know me from the internet. I guess "intellectuals" can't be girly. It goes against the code, or something. But I am. I love make-up, perfume, nail polish, jewelry and shoes. I rarely leave the house without make-up. I wouldn't dream of going out in sweats, even to the ballpark. I guess this is due to the fact that my mother was a hairdresser for all of my growing up years. I had my hair in rollers before I could walk, by my own request. My mother says that even as a toddler I would happily sit while my hair was set in rollers or pin curls. From there it just escalated. She often took me to trade shows and conventions and I found it all very glamorous. Sometimes I still consider going to beauty school. It's in my blood, I guess.

6. I cannot sleep with a closet door open. No way, no how, no question. It completely freaks me out to see a yawning chasm of blackness. I prefer not to sleep next to a closet as well. I can do it, but I don't like it. If I must sleep next to a closet, I do not turn my back to it. I have no idea where this closet fear came from.

7. I get along much better with men than women. I have no patience for drama, petty power trips, histrionics, gossip or one upmanship. I only have a few close women friends. I avoid situations and activities that would necessitate my being in contact with groups of women. The dynamics are just too exhausting and irritating. This is not to say that I don't like and respect women. I think women are a force to be reckoned with. It just seems that the women I encounter (probably because I am a stay at home Mom) are not the movers and shakers of my generation. I really should make more effort to come into contact with the kinds of women I like and admire.

8. I left home the day I turned 18 with $100 in my pocket to move 900 miles away with my boyfriend, who later dumped me for my best friend, who was married to his best friend, after being together for six years. I never thought twice about doing it. I never considered that I might not be able to feed myself or afford to put a roof over my head. I consider this to have been both incredibly brave and incredbily foolish.

9. I am very, very, very bad at math. My brain just does not work that way. I can remember dates, facts, names, stanzas of poetry, lines from books I read twenty years ago, names of paitings and who painted them, etc. I can write pretty well. I can analyze and discuss abstract concepts. But I cannot manage any but the most simple mathematical equations. I carry a small caluclator in my purse to figure tip, tax, etc. My husband is astounded by this. He says that math is just logic. The numbers never lie, they never change. They are static. Dependable. It doesn't matter. They just don't make sense to me.

10. I was a doula for about 4 years. It was one of the most rewarding times of my life. I was considering going on to Midwifery school, but the hours and the time commitment were just too much and conflicted with my parental responsibilities. Babies are not born on a schedule, unfortunately, and most baby sitters don't have a "drop in any time" policy. Nor does public school look fondly upon chronic tardiness.

So there you go. Please feel free to laugh, snort, smirk...etc. I am going back to bed to snuggle up to an ice pack and an eye mask. One of these days, I'm going to break down and ask for some drugs. You'd think 25 years of migraines would have compelled me to do so by now. But nooooooo, I have to be a martyr. I did take drugs in the dark ages of migraine. They were horrible. I couldn't function. I know migraine meds are better these days, but I'd almost rather just sleep it off. Drugs freak me out. Make that #11.

Oh wait...I'm supposed to tag people...ummm....Kirdy, Mel, Nina, Mischief, AA, Lizardbreath and Doodaddy. You're it. I'll link you later, I promise. No pressure. Do it if you want. If not, fine by me.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Blessed Thing

We are traveling down a rutted, sun dappled, tree lined road in a sleepy little Southern town. It is so picturesque that it could easily be mistaken for some utopian 1950's TV town.

If a person didn't know better, they might almost expect to see a primly coiffed woman in a pill box hat and day dress walking to market with a shopping bag over her arm, or a freckle faced boy with a slingshot hanging from his back pocket climbing an aged oak, far above the sidewalk.

On the surface, it's the kind of town that makes outsiders long to pull up stakes and move there, happily sacrificing 24 hour convenience for Rockwellian charm.

As we turn the corner however, the view turns to images more in keeping with a UNICEF commercial than that of a picture perfect whistle stop town. There are barefooted and big bellied children playing in front of sagging, dilapidated homes; doors propped open with cinder blocks to dispel the gloom inside. There are dogs wallowing in yards devoid of a single blade of grass. They snarl and snap at anyone who ventures near; fierce from hunger and neglect.

There are stoop shouldered women hanging out threadbare laundry, there are overalled men tinkering beneath the hoods of late model automobiles. An infant wails and it is a plaintive sound, as if it doesn't really expect to be heard; doesn’t expect any solace or comfort. This street is also sun-dappled and tree lined, but it does little to combat the air of dejection and destitution. It is a profoundly hopeless place.

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

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

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

Dear raise a child in this filth.

I thought about the clean and cheerful nursery at home; the piles of tiny, snowy underthings and receiving blankets washed in Dreft, the AAP approved baby equipment impregnated with Microban, and the carpet I had steam cleaned myself with scalding hot water in an effort to eradicate all traces of pestilence left behind by former occupants. I thought about the pediatrician I had already selected and the vaccinations I had already scheduled.

As I thought about these things the happiness I usually felt was replaced deep and aching sadness. I was ashamed at how I had taken them for granted, and I was angry that anyone should have to live the way these people do. But there was also a creeping melancholy and a little resentfulness at having my warm and comfortable holiday marred by such ugliness. The baby kicked hard as if to punctuate these thoughts.

"Here we are!" my mother-in-law chirped brightly. I was puzzled by her cheerful tone.

Doesn't she see?

She opened the trunk and extracted bags and boxes which she divided among us. I got two enormous shopping bags from Sears. My unpregnant sister-in-law got a huge plastic crate full of canned and dry goods, with a large foil covered platter balanced on top. My mother-in-law carried an unwieldy autumn floral arrangement and several gaily wrapped gifts.

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

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

There was a microwave and a hotplate on the table. A pitcher and washbasin were at her bedside. A worn but heavy quilt covered a sagging doorway. I realized that she must be living in this one room.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She can't see into my womb or my soul.

And yet, the feeling persisted.

After serving us hot tea and butter cookies from a battered tin, the rest of the visit was spent examining the treasures we had brought. Her thin and faded robe was exchanged for one that was brightly colored and heavily quilted. One bag yielded several sets of fleecy sweats, an array of matching turtlenecks, a multitude of flannel nightgowns, sturdy cotton underwear, heavy woolen socks, and a pair of thick soled house shoes that made her sigh with pleasure.

The other bag contained two new pillows and an electric blanket with dual controls. There were creams and lotions and soaps that made her giggle like a young girl, and necessities such as deodorant and Fixodent. Even the toilet paper was exclaimed over, and she allowed that her tough black fanny wasn't accustomed to such quilted softness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many years later I learned that when they found her, her teeth were frozen in a glass beside her bed. That little detail lay on my heart like a stone, heavy with the indignity.

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

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

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

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

"Yes, that's the one."

"Was she a sorceress?" asks my youngest.

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

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

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

This piece was originally posted 4/11/06. I am reposting it because I like it and because Jen at One Plus Two posted a piece today that reminded me of Miss Jimmy. She was a real person. And there are people who really live the way she lived. We have to know. We have to care.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Teaching the Teacher

As parents....we are called upon to teach.

From the time our children are born, until the day that we die, we are charged with giving them the benefit of our wisdom and our experience.

In their early years, this consists mostly of providing them with the skills they need to navigate the physical world. There are things we take for granted, things that are second nature to us, things that it seems we were born knowing.

But when children enter our lives so tiny and blank, we realize that we weren't born knowing. They weren't born knowing.

So we teach.

And those of you who have children know what an amazing thing it is to watch a baby learn even the simplest of skills. Everything seems like such a huge accomplishment. And they are demonstrably changed with each new ability. They are more human, somehow.

As they grow, the teaching becomes more difficult. The focus shifts. It becomes less about doing and more about ideation. We struggle to explain things that are not so black and white. We deal with their hurts and heartaches, their disappointment and despair.

At some point comes the realization that our job is no longer teaching them what to do, but teaching them to think for themselves.

Sometimes parenting makes us feel terribly wise. Other times, it makes us feel distressingly humble. Occasionally, it makes us feel foolish and inept. Now and then, it makes us feel downright ridiculous.

Last night, we grabbed sandwiches from Subway and gathered in front of the television to dine picnic style while watching the movie "Night at the Museum". We were all very geeked about the movie and had been anticipating it's arrival all week.

It was everything we had hoped for. It was very well done with a lot of cleverly disguised adult humor. I don't normally care for Ben Stiller or Owen Wilson, but they both seemed very well suited to their respective roles. I totally dug Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt.

There was one character that Husband and I couldn't immediately identify, due to the fact that he was a bronzed statue and his physical attributes were difficult to distinguish.

"Who's that supposed to be?" I asked Husband.

He shrugged. "I dunno...Sir Isaac Newton maybe?"

"No...he was English, that guy's speaking Italian."

He furrowed his brow. "Copernicus?"

"I don't think so. Copernicus was Polish. Maybe Galileo?" I guessed.

He shrugged again. "Could be."

At this point, Pre-Pubescent One interrupted and said, in a tone of long-suffering weariness heard usually in my own voice...

"MOM. It's Christopher Columbus."

"How do you know?" I demanded.

My first born child looked at me askance. "Um, the MAP?"

Sure enough, he was carrying a map, which he consulted frequently, while jabbering in his mellifluous Italian.


Well I had to teach you to wipe your butt. So there.

A Boil on the Ass of Humanity

You know what really pisses me off?


Spam makes me see red. I feel violated. And indignant. Aside from the fact that I am being solicited in my own home, on my own computer screen, and there's not a damn thing I can do to stop it except to set my filters on high alert and hope for the best.... it is the something for nothingness of it that makes me so angry.

Easy money is an attractive prospect and I suppose, to be completely honest, if I were presented with an opportunity that would garner a hefty profit with minimum expenditure of time and effort, I might be tempted as well. Just keepin it real, as Randy would say.

But I would draw the line at bilking honest hard working people out of their money. I would never prey upon the innocence, ignorance or trust of others.

The penis enlargement and weight loss and hot stock tip stuff annoys me, but I am not being personally harmed by it. I usually just roll my eyes, make some profane comment under my breath and move on.

It's the scam spam that really makes my blood boil.

Now you and I, and probably 99% of the internet surfing population knows that there is no guy in Mumbai being held as a political dissident whose fortune is tied up in an offshore account that he cannot access, and whose wife and children will surely die of starvation or be executed as accomplices to his crimes of sedition unless you, a person he does not know, send money immediately to grease the wheels of a corrupt government.

But there must be some people out there falling for it, or we wouldn't all still be getting this garbage in our inboxes every day. There MUST be people out there who have actually given money to these internet charlatans.

I reply to these kinds of emails with the following:

"You are a boil on the ass of humanity."

Yes, it's childish and pointless, but it makes me feel better.

Recently, I received another interesting proposal, one I hadn't seen before. Basically, it was a banking scheme that promised to net me $5,000 in 30 days, with an investment of only $150.

Honestly, I don't know what posessed me....but I decided to forego my standard boil/ass response and instead sent the following reply:

Hello and Yes! I am being very interested! Please to send me additional informations. I am needing informations in different language being Hungarian. The English is not being very strong in me yet.

Thanking you!

Gregor Hrbezsky

I received a reply within mere MOMENTS of sending my email. It was not one, but FIVE emails, flooding me with forms, anonymous "bank statements" as proof of how well the system works, offers for free inclusion in other schemes, and of course, requests for personal information. Here is what I received:

Email #1:

Dear Gregor,

First thanks for requesting to be put in this incredible system that will enable you to begin to receive $5000 in the next 30 days without advertising, recruiting or selling via the unique share the wealth program.

Here is how it works. We will process your application with the companies that are looking for people to sponsor in this unique program. Our success rate is between 3-5 companies for every 20 we contact. So you are looking at a minimum of 3 companies you will receive income from.

As a participant your only task will be to register at the sites,open a paypal account if you don't have one and a checking or savings account. Many of the companies will transfer your checks to your bank account via electronic banking daily. You may wish to inform your bank that you could have a lot of deposits that will be sent.

At the end of each week you will send us via email or fax a printout of the orders received for the week along with 50% of each payment received. That's the program in nutshell. At the end of a year you can opt out and keep all the profits from the companies.

Like we stated in the literature this program is not widely known. However more and more people are starting to hear about it. The time to get in is now. The success has been overwhelming. People are earning thousands of dollars daily. Naturally they're not going to continue to let people in at no cost. Your life is going to take a serious financial change in the next 30 days. Here is what you need to do.

We have sent you a non-complete agreement to complete via separate email. Fill it out and return in the amount of $150 payable to the associate listed below. Upon receipt of your payment and the agreement we will email you the remaining forms and arrange your participation with the companies. The products will range from home income opportunities to the latest soft wares.

The nice thing about this program is you don't have to worry whether or not it will sell or promotion of any kind. The product is already generating thousands monthly. You will simply be plugging into the system. If you do not have the agreement by the time you get this please email us so we can resend it.

Welcome To The Team!

Please make your check or money order in the amount of $150 payable to your associate mentor R. Floyd 2375 E Tropicana Las Vegas, NV 89119. Fill out the form below and email back to us at the address below. Upon receipt of your payment the remaining forms will be sent to you and the participating companies will be contacted_________


Email this form back to us at

Email #2

Copy of this month's earnings from $5,000 in thirty days program: "Lori"

Here is a copy of this months earnings. These are daily deposits. Please confirm


Email #3

This Agreement will confirm our mutual understand in connection with

We the undersigned parties below hereby agree as follows:

(1) We the undersigned(also referred herein as "the Parties") hereby mutually and irrevocably agree not to divulge each other's named sources, principals, clients, agents, brokers, associates, suppliers, vendors or proprietary sources to other parties not directly involved in any current and future transactions, and not to circumvent either directly or indirectly the relationship that each party has with the named sources, principals,clients, agents, brokers, associates, suppliers, vendors or proprietary sources of any type.

(2) By signature below and acceptance of this agreement, each of the named signatories, separately and individually, and their associates confirm that any corporation, firm, organization, company or individual of which the signatories are party to, member of principal agent for, employee of or otherwise would benefit financially from an association, is bound by this agreement.

(3) All information relating to the relationship between the parties or proprietary information shall be deemed confidential except when that information is used for the purposes outlined in the contract between the parties.

(4) This agreement is to be applied to any and all transactions entertained by signatories including subsequent sales, renewals, extensions, renegotiation's, additions, or any other third party agreement of same including transactions which involve parent, subsidiary and or companies or entities. It also covers the initial transaction and future transactions regardless of the success of the project.

(5) Any controversy or claim arising out of , or relating to this agreement or breech thereof, shall be settled in accordance with the American Arbitration Association, with hearings to take place at a mutually agreeable time and place. Any judgment by the arbitrator(s) may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof including the award to the aggrieved signatory (y/ies), their heirs, and/or designees, such award being related to the renumeration received as a result of business conducted with parties, and other charges and damages deemed fair by the arbitrator(s)

(6) This agreement shall be binding on the parties hereto, their principals, employees, representatives, agents, assigns, consultants, heirs, successors, clients, associates, contacts, suppliers or other outside parties pertaining to present or future business and/or contacts and proprietary information.

(7) It is understood that this agreement is a reciprocal one between all of the signatories concerning their privileged information, contacts and proprietary systems or tools.

(8) It is understood that the individuals named below will share in the monthly profits derived from participation in said project 50/50. It is further understood that the funds required to participate in said project will be provided by the principal listed below. If for any reason the principal can not provide funding or said project does not materialize the undersigned initial investment of $150 will be refunded.

AGREED AND ACCEPTED ON_______________________________(DATE)

Company Agent Name




Please read, complete, date & sign this form and email back or mail to R Floyd 2375 E Tropicana Las Vegas, NV 89119 A signed copy will be sent to you by return mail
Email #4

This is yours free when you order the $5000 in 30 day program. Please complete and email back to me.


Do NOT Buy Another Lottery Ticket (or play one more game) Until You Have Our Brand NEW System in Your Hands That Will Reveal The Incredible ¡¦

Dear Friend (and Fellow Lotto Player):
If you are presently playing the daily (or weekly) games without the benefit of having the incredible "Lotto Flaw" on your side, then YOU ARE MISSING OUT ON A LOT OF ACTION!

The "Flaw" as it is known in educated circles will provide you with just the "edge" that you need - a surprising advantage to cashing ticket after ticket of pure winners. When all is said and done, the "Flaw" is like a gift-horse staring you right in the face. This is a simple NO-NONSENSE approach to picking a spectacular string of winning tickets in virtually ANY numbers game.

Everyone, including you, who has ever played the lottery has likely run into "the flaw" but up until no, it has never been exposed. We are privileged to report the results - that several lotto experts have recently exposed the code to "crack" the flaw. It is based on the reaction between special identifier and trigger numbers in drawn sequence.

Let me explain. The identifier numbers tell us what numbers to play next. BUT, it is the trigger number that actually set off the identifier number - causing an explosive reaction that could result in your winning tickets. These revealing trigger and identifier numbers explain when certain digits should ALWAYS be played in the next drawing - and just as important - which numbers to avoid!

Now, These experts ran a test using 2,190 numeric combinations to create an accurate back-test data base. AND DO YOU KNOW WHAT THEY FOUND? In a random sample of only 542 combinations, the "Flaw" identified 177 sets correctly! That is an unbelievably mind-boggling success rate! In fact - NO OTHER SYSTEM WE KNOW OF COULD EVEN COME "CLOSE" TO THIS PHENOMENAL SUCCESS RATE!

So when you apply the system in real life, we are talking about cashing in more winning tickets that you may have ever thought possible! You will now have access to the most powerful, newly unleashed secret in the lottery world. A bonified, honest to goodness real way to help you beat the lottery!

"You will now have access to the most powerful, newly unleashed secret in the lottery world. A bonified, honest to goodness real way to help you beat the lottery!"

Unfortunately, this remarkable "Lotto Flaw" once revealed to the public, could take the country by storm. But, as a valued customer, I want you to get your copy first - before the rest of nation stampedes in and breaks down the doors for a copy. And that¡¯s if there is even a single copy left!

To the untrained eye it is extremely difficult to spot the identifier and trigger numbers. But, once you know what to look for - it¡¯s as easy pie.



Can you see them yet? Don¡¯t worry if you can¡¯t locate the correct numbers in this example. Everything will be clearly revealed in your new "Lotto Flaw" guide book.

You Simply MUST Have This System!

"I have tried many systems on number games. None of them worked. I tried yours and it really worked." Mr. H. Weathersby, IL

OK. Here are the facts. Millions of people play the lottery every year - and the number is likely to grow in the future. Since 1964, Americans have spent $500 Billion on tickets! You don¡¯t have to be an Einstein to figure out the number of "Fed-Up" players that I could reach without barely putting a scratch in the surface!

"I Will Slam The Door Shut When 3,000 People Respond."
I have written to you and a few thousand other selected people who I want to receive this valuable, awesome information. Only 3,000 lucky people will be able to receive their copy of "the flaw". After that, I will slam the door shut when only 3,000 people respond.

Now, I can practically guarantee you that anyone who receives this letter will be running to the mailbox and responding to me immediately. They would almost have to be "INSANE" not to get it! If you act right away, I promise I will get this awesome information into your hands fast - complete with everything you need to start winning almost the day you receive it!


Please Listen Closely. Now, get a hold of this - Here it is - - I¡¯m asking you to pay me what I deserve, FROM YOUR WINNINGS. Say again? FROM YOUR WINNINGS! Yes, you pay me from your first lottery winnings. I¡¯ll expect you to send me only 10% of your first $1,000.00 profit. That¡¯s probably in the neighborhood of about $100.00 - after you win. But wait, are you asking yourself: "BUT WHAT IF IT DOESN¡¯T WORK?" Excellent question. The answer is - I don¡¯t have an answer because everybody using it to my knowledge is practically cleaning up like crazy! "BIG TIME" - "BIG MONEY"!
I am going to ask you for one small favor - and that is to send me a small "Good Faith" deposit along with your order. I¡¯m only to ask for an insignificant $50 dollar deposit - just $50 bucks. So, I say it again¡¦
I cannot and will not send you this "Ground Breaking" Secret Information without a good faith deposit. And, even your deposit is refundable - fair enough! What I want to give you by way of this offer is what you have likely SPENT most of your life dreaming about! A NEW way to play using my special high-tech information.

The "Flaw" Numbers Revealed for Pick-4 Games.
The "Flaw" Numbers Revealed for Pick-5 Games.
The "Flaw" Numbers Revealed for Pick-6 Games.

Please take a minute and think about this - if you send in you¡¯re order within the next 7 days you will be getting Four (4) Complete Systems for the price of one! It¡¯s hard to put aside an offer this good - especially when experts have said that if you are only going to buy one system in your whole life - you simply MUST have the "Lotto Flaw". It is hands down - the best system ever designed for these numbers!

This is not spam. You have responded to a previous advertisement. If you no longer wish to receive further emails please send a email to the address above with remove in the subject.

Email #5

I sent you the agreement, form and copy of a recent payut statement. I also sent you a program that I will send you for free when you order. Please confirm receipt.

So, bozo thought he had a nice fat worm on the hook and was going to make himself a tidy profit by doing no more than pressing the send button a couple of times. I was intrigued and decided to mess with him a little further.

Please to send informations being in Hungarian. I am not reading of the English very well. I am so exciting to make these monies!


To which he replied simply:

I have no way to send instructions in Hungarian.

As a parting shot I sent my standard spam scam reply:

My name is not Gregor and you are a boil on the ass of humanity.

So the moral of the story is, scammers are lazy and easily thwarted. Once he realized he might have to put some effort into robbing me blind, he was none so enthusiastic.

I feel that I have done a public service.

Not only have I taught this scammer a valuable lesson (what that would be, exactly, I don't know, but there's got to be a lesson in there somewhere) but I have also revealed his trade secrets, thereby sabotaging his diabolical scheme and giving you, my readers, the ability to become rich beyond your wildest dreams.

All in a days work. Geez, they should pay me for this.