Blogs Are Stupid

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

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Color of Impetus is Teal Green

Here's a thing you probably don't know about me.

Sometimes I feel exceedingly sorry for myself because I have ugly furniture.

It's 15 years old, and it's teal green. It seemed like a good choice at the time. Now, it's a choice I am grievously sorry to have made. Sometimes I think it was terribly shortsighted to select this teal green monstrosity residing in my living room, but really, how was I to know that it ten years teal green would become the beribboned ceramic ducks of the furniture family?

I desperately want new living room furniture. But we live on one income, and there are other priorities at the moment. Husband and I, after spending five solid years digging ourselves out from under an embarassingly huge mountain of debt, have resolved not to live beyond our means again. So no new furniture for me.

Sometimes, I pity myself a lot because of my furniture situation.

It's a symbol; a glaring testament to all that I don't have, you see. Regular haircuts at a good salon. Just one really good designer bag. Hardwood floors to replace the stained and threadbare carpeting. Filet instead of Ribeye once in a while. A van that doesn't smell like someone else's feet.

Sometimes, a thing happens to really illuminate how much I have allowed myself to be influenced by the perversity of priorities that our society has embraced; how entitlement issues and the need for instant gratification have driven us to become a nation of greedy soulless consumers who settle for superficial perfection rather than striving for spiritual and emotional fulfillment.

Tonight the instrument of my epiphany was a machine that is entirely commonplace in the reality of my greater social sphere, but one that would be considered an almost inconceivable extravagance in many countries.

My DVD player.

We watched the movie, "Pursuit of Happiness".


Now, I live in a huge, sprawling Metropolis. Homelessness is nothing new to me. But sometimes, when you are confronted with a thing every day, the sheer scope of it is lost in the familiarity.

I don't bat an eyelash when there is a panhandler on the freeway or a bag lady collecting change at the local Starbucks. I give them money when I have it. But I don't often stop and think about how they got to where they are.

I don't think I want to.

But this movie forced me to confront a truth that most of us would rather deny, because it saves us from the knowledge that we are only a little bad luck away from that freeway exit.

At one point during the movie, Chris Gardener and his son are forced to seek accomodation for the night at a homeless shelter, after spending the previous night in a subway bathroom. He is told to be there at 5:00 in order to get a room and he races over, propelled by the certainty of a safe haven for his 5 year old son. But when he reaches the shelter, he sees that there are so many many people...

The defeat, oh God, the defeat that man must have felt at that moment.

At this point, Diminutive One interrupted the movie to ask a question.

"Mom...are all those people trying to get a room?"

Both Husband and I were near tears, and it was I who was able to speak first.

"Yes." I croaked.

"How many rooms are there?" he asked worriedly.

"Not enough, honey."

"But how many?" he persisted.

"It doesn't matter how any rooms there are, babe, there will always be people with no place to sleep."

I tried to say this gently, but it didn't feel gentle on my tongue. It felt harsh and heavy and wrong. It felt shameful.

After a very long pause, he said, "That kind of makes me feel like crying."

"Me too." I said.

And it did. I felt as if I could weep for a month and still have tears to shed.

And I found myself thinking about how many children could lay their heads down on my ugly teal green furniture. Three, if they were small. And how many adults could breathe easy for just one night, watching their children dream in my shabby living room with the stained carpet?

As if reading my turbulent thoughts, Diminutive One said,

"We have lots of room Mom."

Yes. We do. And though I will never love my ugly furniture, I am now very aware of that fact that hating it is a luxury with which I have vaccinated myself against the ugliness of need.

Let it be a testament then. A testament to safety and privilege and warmth and full bellies. To Childhood with all the trimmings. To the luxury of "enough".

Enough. Yes, I like that better than empty, pointless longing.

I've been thinking about this for a while. And Jen, over at One Plus Two has been prodding my conscience with her beautiful posts and her giving soul. And this was profoundly moving and very mobilizing.

Yes, we have lots of room, but what I also have is lots of time and children who have everything they need. I don't do very much that makes a difference in this world. I think it's time. I've decided that when school starts, I am going to volunteer at a local Children's Shelter. They provide day shelter for homeless children, and support for their families in their efforts to become self-sufficient.

I can do that. And though maybe "enough" is still far from being a reality for far too's a beginning.


June 2007 Perfect Post Awards

I'd like to thank P, over at Rocking the Cradle, who is a newish writer to me, but whom I enjoy very, very much, and the incomparable Mom-101, who is a fantastic writer, has the job I always dreamed of, and has sort of been my bloggy mentor, for awarding me the June Perfect Post award for my piece "The Gift".

You can find all the nominated pieces over at MommaK's place. Go give 'em a read. There's some awesome stuff from some awesome writers.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I Rock, Therefore I am

I would like to thank Natalie and Mrs. Chicky for bestowing the Rocking Girl Blogger award on me. They are both really fabulous bloggers.

Natalie is not a Mommy Blogger, and frankly, it feels very liberating for me to read her...sort of like I am more than a just a Mommy blogger because I read blogs that are written by hip, smart, young urban non-Mommy types. Shut Up. It can be true if I want it to. Yes it can.

Mrs. Chicky is a Mommy Blogger, but like so many of us, she is about so, so, so much more than poop, pregnancy and parenting. She's smart and funny and a great writer. She's someone you can totally picture yourself sipping wine and watching cheesy 80's movies with. Me and Mrs. Chicky could hang...yannow?

Go check them both out because they really are Rockin Girl Bloggers.

I'm supposed to pass this on to five bloggers. Oy. There are so many great writers out there. Really. Every day I run accross another blog that I can't believe the whole world isn't reading because they are THAT smart, pithy, clever and irreverent.

So whom to choose????

Well, I'm going to bestow this award on five people that are not high profile bloggers. They are not "A-listers", they do not get a jillion comments on every post, they are not part of any network, blog ring, review board, or collaborative parenting aggregate. They do not check bloglines, technorati or statcounter to gauge their popularity.

They are my friends and they just write.

First we have Nina, whom I've referenced before. Nina is a 40 something gay woman who recently came out after years of hiding behind the respectable mantle of heterosexuality. It has been a heartwrenching journey for her. I think she is an amazingly brave person and I think her children are so lucky to have her for a mother. She writes beautiful poetry and takes beautiful pictures. She has a lyrical soul, Nina does. I get to meet her in July, and I can't wait.

Then there is AA. AA is a teacher, and she has given me some absolutely invaluable insight into my struggle with Diminutive One's learning challenges this year. She's one of the good guys, so I'm fortunate to have her on my side. Also, she actually indulges her wanderlust, and goes to places most people only dream about. I love to read about her travels and live vicariously through her. I get to meet her in July as well, and again, I can't wait.

Mischief is a woman who has been on a rollercoaster ride of emotion since she selflessly gave up her daughter for adoption 20 years ago. Recently, her daughter and her grandson came back into her life, and she is writing about it with such incredible aplomb. I think if I were experiencing something so profoundly gratifying the words would be exploding all over the page with no coherence whatsoever. Her words are raw, honest, and beautiful. And her story is one that no adoptee or birth mother should miss. Sadly, Mischief cannot attend our little get together and I absolutely hate that she won't be there.

M, of Six Green Zebras is an amazing mom, raising a child on her own; a child with some problems for whom she has been an tireless advocate. I admire her SO much for the way she has fought to give her son the best life possible. That has involved making some really tough choices. But she made them and she didn't look back and she never complains. She ROCKS. M cannot join us either, but I would give anything if she could.

Kirdy is my friend both in real life and online. She's just cool. She's smart, fun, irreverent, bawdy, supportive, loyal and hip. She's a great writer, a great Mom, and a great partner in crime when it comes to feeding my trifecta of addictions, that being, books, make-up and delicious smelly things called tarts. She doesn't blog as much as I'd like her to, because she has three small children. Maybe this will give her a little nudge. I think she could be an A-lister for sure. Kirdy will be in Chicago with bells on, (we somehow managed to schedule our little gtg the same weekend as Blogher, in the same city) and we are going to paint the town red. Watch out all you other girl bloghers.

I'm just going to tell you about my last pick, because I don't honestly know if this blogger wants the blogosphere spying on what is her current life journey. You see...her husband was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. He is my age. They have two beautiful children, one of whom I had the privilege of seeing born. I will never forget the look on J's face as he gazed at his firstborn child. It was true love. K is writing about their struggle with incredible humor and pragmatism. I am so impressed that she can stay so strong, so positive and so focused on getting J well. I think I would simply dissolve into a quivering puddle of goo if I were to receive such news. She is my hero. I hate that they have moved to Wisconsin. Now we never get to see them. But the next time we breeze through on the way to my folks, we will be sure to make a detour so I can squeeze the pee out of both of them. Too bad that doesn't work with cancer.

*Kate has given me her blessing, so go read her at Jim's Beating The Cancer. In particular, you must read "Too Much Information". Hilarious, touching, and quintissential Kate.

So there you have them. As I said, they are not the movers and shakers of the blogosphere. You probably don't recognize their names and you probably won't see them on many blogrolls. They are just real people writing blogs. And they rock.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Webster says that a canal is a "a duct, tube, passageway", (ex: Alimentary canal) so I suppose in that respect, there is no techincial quibble.

However, typically, when one envisions a canal, one thinks of water. A body of water wide enough for a seafaring vessell to pass through, presumably, without being squeezed in a manner much like a navy bean being sucked through a drinking straw. This expanse is also presumably wide enough that said vessel does not cause structural damage to such a degree that the owner of the aforementioned canal, declares an embargo on any and all canal traffic, ever, until the end of time. Nor does it alter the dimensions of the canal so significantly, that smaller, more streamlined vessels flounder about, seeking purchase, lost and adrift.

Not so the human "Birth Canal".

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

Dear Sirs,

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

"Birth Crevice"

I introduce the following visual aid to illustrate the great disparity in marginal boundaries and serve as further evidence to support my claim:

Suez Canal


Birth Canal

Thank you for your kind consideration.

Yours Truly,

B. Antagonist,
Canal/crevice owner and operator


"Mid-Life Crisis"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Sirs:

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

"Mid-life Respite"

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

Thank you for your kind consideration of this matter.

Sincerely Yours,
B. Antagonist; eagerly awaiting Mid-Life Respite


"Breast Enhancement"

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

Now, I'm sure there are any number of men out there who will certainly disagree with me, but frankly, I don't think that stuffing ridiculously bulbous bags of saline or silicone into one's mammary cavity makes them more agreeable, or beautiful, though I certainly can't argue about them being more valuable.

Big gazongas are big business these days. Crafting them and exploiting them have engendered an entirely new component of the Capitalist paradigm. Who needs oil for food, when you can have boobs for cash? I think it would be a close race when assessing which is the more profitable enterprise. Dr. 90210, the pervy creep, probably pulls down a salary several times that of our President.

Now, I would be lying if I said I hadn't dreamed of once again having gravity defying breasts, free of stretch marks, and topped with pert, rosy hued nipples that have obviously not been used as an infant chew toy and pumped to the very limits of their elasticity in an effort to gain more than 12 minutes away from said infant.

Yes, I've gazed upon my chest with wistfulness, remembering the days when I could walk about unfettered without danger of being thrown off balance. I have coveted nipples that point straight ahead, rather than than being cast forlornly downward, eternally vigilant of untied laces and abc gum.

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

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

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

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

Dear Sirs,

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

"Breast Defilement"

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

In a word...Ick.

Thank you for your kind consideration.

Sincerely Yours,
Breast, I mean, Blog Antagonist

These posts originall published in the early days of my blog when about 4 people were reading me. I like them. I think they deserve another chance. :?)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

What Price, Freedom?

Friday afternoon, I took the boys to stay with my in-laws in Deliverance land.

I am not speaking metaphorically or analogously or ironically. I mean that they literally live in the county where Deliverance was filmed. And frankly, in many ways, the area is not very different from how it was portrayed in the movie. That used to scare me. Now, after 14 years, I am mostly just mildly disconcerted.

But it meant an evening out for Husband and me. As the saying goes..."Rednecks by marriage can't be choosers", so I tried not to think about Ned Beatty in his underdrawers squealing like a pig while fellating the local color.

After I delivered the boys to their grandparents, I came home and took a ridiculously long bath. Nobody pounded on the door to inform me that a cat or a sibling had vomited something of questionable color and content. I did not have to get out even one time because somebody had spilled something, broken something, or severed something.

I reveled in the sheer hedonistic joy of shaving everything at the same time. I plucked my eyebrows, which were looking very Kahlo-esque due to neglect. I applied a green clay mask and let it sit until it was completely dry. Nobody made any cracks about the undead. I pumiced my feet and I deep conditioned my hair. I embraced my inner product whore.

Then husband came home and we engaged in some afternoon delight. Afternoon. As in...still light outside. This is only notable in that we were both awake, sober, the same time. Daylight strongly maximizes the odds of such, but circumtances allow marital relations to commence prior to nightfall lamentably seldom.

Before the kids could tell time it was pretty easy to engineer. Now they're on to us.

We dined at a local steak house, to which Husband's Little League team had given us an extremely generous gift certificate. We blew half of it on a decadent bottle of LaCrema Pinot Noir. The markup was ridiculous, but it was worth it. That was some damn good Pinot.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon perspective, Husband's newfound wine snobbery has necessitated that we bid a fond farewell to Ernest and Julio and their economically friendly apellations. Ditto for Boone's Farm and Franzia.

Even so, anything over about $20 strikes me as terribly pretentious. But I've discovered that when it comes to wine, pretention is often exceeded by gratification. In other words cheap wine sucks and good wine is worth the embarassment of forking over a ridiculous sum of money for grape excreta.

Anyway, our dinner was terribly adult and relaxing. Nobody spilled anything. Nobody dined with their napking tucked into their collar. There were no crayons involved. Nobody made light sabre sound effects while wielding a sesame encrusted breadstick. There were no bodily noises followed by smothered giggles. We did not have to apologize for any foodstuffs inadvertanly flung into the next booth.

We ordered appetizers (bruschetta with avocodo and crabmeat) AND dessert (pineapple chiffon cheesecake served on top of some crispy, caramel-y, wafer-y thing and blood orange sorbet). We lingered. We talked. We cut only our own food. One bite at a time. Our server was attentive without being intrusive, the ambiance was a little contrived (faux cowhide upholstery and faux timbered ceilings) but surprisingly pleasant all the same.

We were revitalized by the sheer lack of responsibility.

We debated what to do with the rest of our evening. It seemed almost sinful to return home on such a carefree and unfettered occasion. But Husband had risen at his cutomary 5:30 am, and I had risen early as well, to do laundry and tidy the house so I could enjoy the boys' absence without the taint of domestic guilt. We decided that we had nothing to prove, and headed home to enjoy a movie, which, it is worth mentioning, we watched from beginning to end without pausing a single time.

In the morning, we slept ridiculously late and husband prepared cheese omelettes, biscuits, and leftover steak thinly sliced and carefully warmed to retain the succulent pink center. We sipped coffee that was still piping hot and talked about when we should go rescue retrieve our offspring.

We had scarcely articulated the thought when the phone rang. It was Pre-Pubescent One inquiring, casually, but with an undertone of quiet desperation, when, exactly we would be coming to get them. You see, the in-laws have no computer and no video games. They live on a picturesque but lonely rural hill, with no other children for miles around, save a girl cousin, who, with the passing years was becoming more and more like a real girl and less and less like the annoying younger cousin she had always been.

And so, our lovely evening faded into memory. But not before we found ourselves rocketing down the highway with the sunroof open and the belovedly familiar strains of Southern rock blasting from the factory spec speakers. It was our last gasp of freedom and we pulled it into our bodies with the same of kind of ferocity with which a drowning man draws his last breath. We held it until we were dizzy with the richness of it. And then we pulled into the long winding drive and felt the familiar skin of parenthood binding our bones once more.

Our boys erupted from the house and we both smiled. We had not missed them until that very moment. But seeing their faces reminded us that they are precious in a way we sometimes disremeber amid the chaos, work and worry of our lives.

Still....I'd wouldn't mind missing them a little more often. But $12/hr. to babysit boys who can bathe themselves, feed themselves, wipe their own bottoms and put themselves to bed is a pretty steep price to pay. What I really need is an on-call crisis management consultant. Someone who, would, the event of a fire, summon help instead of trying to save the Playstation.

It has been said that one cannot put a price on freedom, but from my perspective, it costs just about as much as one is prepared to pay a teenaged girl to sleep on one's couch.


FOOTNOTE: I changed my domain name to a while back. It never occurred to me to mention it because the old url would simply redirect. But then I realized that I had not seen any bloglines referrals on my statcounter in quite some time and realized that my olds feeds were no longer valid. So update them now. Please? It's terribly demoralizing to see that teeny tiny little digit next to "number of subscribers". Thanks bunches.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Gift

We try so hard, we Moms, to remember all the sweet, special, amazing and beautiful moments that our children bring to our lives.

We photograph, videotape, babybook, scrapbook and blog, all in the desperate hope that we will be allowed to relive these precious moments when they are grown and gone; when they have turned into people we love just as fiercely, but whom are unfamiliar to us.

My boys are twelve and eight.

I wish I could say that I have been successful in keeping those memories in the clarity of my present. But I haven't. Against my will, they have become the property of my past. Lifetimes of moments so succulent I could never surely forget them, are gone without my knowing they had ever been there.

But they are kept in the slippery gray folds of my mind, just waiting for something to beckon them forth on tendrils of memory that are like fine silken threads; soft and slender, but strong. Substantial. Enduring.

When this happens, it is a gift.

The other day, I woke late. I had a nightmare, which is a rare thing for me. I was left shaking and sweaty and unable to surrender to sleep again. I finally drifted back to sleep when the first fingers of dawn drew back the curtain of darkness.

When I awoke again, I heard the boys behind the closed door of Pre-Pubescent One's room. They were giggling and whispering in rare collusion. Pre-Pubescent One said something that I couldn't quite make out, his voice lilting in a high, sing-song cadence.

And suddenly a memory swept over me, warm and solid and wholly joyous. It was a thing I had forgotten. A thing I didn't miss because it was so profoundly gone. But once it was teased into tangibility again, it was so very, very clear, it seemed impossible that I could have let it go.

When Pre-Pubescent One was a baby we lived in a small two bedroom townhome. I often slept on the daybed in his nursery, because of husband's snoring. He always woke before me. And he would call to me, eager to start his day.

"Mama. Dood Moooooooooorning!"





He was always insistent, but never disconcerted. He would simply cheerfully persist until I responded.

One morning, hoping to buy just a few more minutes, I whispered to him,

"Pre-Pubescent One...Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh"

He obliged by whispering back...

"mama. dood morning."

I couldn't help but giggle. I looked over to see him peering at me over the crib railing, grinning widely, ready to start his day. Ready to explore his world. Ready to figure stuff out.

This became his standard way of letting me know he was ready to get out of bed, no matter what time of day he was awakening. Hearing him call to me with his unfailing sunnyness always made me smile. It was a testament to his sheer, unexpurgated joy at being alive.

It made my heart sing.

And yet, I forgot it.

But it was given back to me, just for a moment. That silly little sing song voice, not yet changed beyond my recognition, was enough to resurrect it. Sadly, though I am holding it next to my heart with all the strength that a mother's will can muster...I know it will once again slip into the mist of the past.

Unless I write it down. And now I have.

I have committed it to digital memory, which unlike my own, is not so capricious. Maybe he'll read it one day. Maybe he'll remember. Maybe he'll be given the gift of remembering that life was once simple, happy, safe.

A gift for both of us then; that little slice of memory.

I'll take it over diamonds any day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Good, The Bad and The Popular

My beloved offspring have discovered a show on Cartoon Network called "Robot Chicken".

The other day, they asked me to type in the code so that they could DVR an episode that was a spoof of Star Wars. Diminutive One is a HUGE Star Wars fan, and he was practically salivating with anticipation.

And I did, because it was Cartoon Network, and hello..."Robot Chicken". Would you watch a show called Robot Chicken? I wouldn't watch a show called Robot Chicken. And besides, our parental controls often flag content that is completely innocuous. You can understand why I really didn't give it a second thought as I punched in the code.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize it was part of their "Adult Swim" lineup. Yeah.

They have episodes like "Secrets of the Animal Kingdom presents, The Lemming: Nature's Retard" and "Toy Meets Girl" and "Joint Point". Again, yeah. Be informed people. Parents don't let parents drive ignorant.

You can watch some of those episodes here, but they have not released the full content of the Star Wars special for internet distribution yet. You can find short clips on YouTube if you are so inclined.

So let me just was completely. Flipppin. Hilarious.

It was also completely inappropriate for children.

In one scene, Han Solo has just been encased in carbonite. Boba Fet approaches the frozen Han and lovingly caresses his bronze cheek. He says in a soft, beguiling voice...

"Look how you have your hands up like that. Almost like you're surrendering. like that don't ya? Oh, you're a baaaaaaaad space cowboy."

I almost wet my pants. I laughed hard and I laughed long. And when I stopped, Diminutive One asked with touching naivete, "Why is that funny?"

After that, I paid closer attention.

In another scene, the Dubyas are lying bed, and Laura is sulking because George has denied her request to have a threesome.

It was at that point that I sighed and said "Alright boys, I'm sorry, but this has to go off. It's completely inappropriate."

This, understandably, was met with howls of protest.

"I'm sorry boys" I said, "But I can't in good conscience allow you to watch something that is not suitable for children your age. Especially something this..."

"Funny?" supplied Pre-Pubescent One, ever the smart ass.

"Raunchy." I corrected.

Diminutive One asked, "What does 'in good conscience' mean?"

"It means that I can't let you watch this and be confident that I am being a good Mom."

Diminutive One was silent for a moment, but I knew that wasn't the end of it. Then he said,

"You know, It's okay if you're not always a good Mom. In fact, I think I like it better sometimes when you're not a good Mom."

Pre-Pubescent One expressed his most emphatic agreement.

"And besides Mom" continued Diminutive One, "I don't even know what that means. How can it be inappropriate, if I don't even understand what they're talking about?"

He may have passed 3rd grade by the skin of his teeth, but you mark my words, that kid is going to be leader of the free world someday.

Against my better judgement, I let them watch the rest of the show, and then immediately deleted it from the queue.

Diminutive One inquired about my conscience.

"So, did you tell your conscience just to leave you alone and let you make your own decision? I do that sometimes."

You don't say.

So that day, I was not a good Mom. But maybe not entirely bad either. I was, just this once...the cool Mom. The Popular Mom. The Mom that they like. The Mom they brag to their friends about. The Mom they don't shoot pouty malelvolent glares beneath furrowed brows. The Mom they don't make talk talk talk faces at behind her back.

I wish I could be that Mom everyday. It would make things a whole hell of a lot easier.

Being a Good Mom blows.

FOOTNOTE: Apparently I wasn't paying close enough attention. The scene between George and Laura wasn't her sulking. It was George using the force on her to want a threesome. With Condi. Funny stuff.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Women Are from Venus, Men are from the planet Hypersex

Today, I am getting a taste of what it must be like to be male.

I can't stop thinking about sex.

This is highly unusual for me.

For all of our married life, Husband and I have had gloriously mismatched libidos. I realize that this is not uncommon, but in our case, the degree of disparity was so marked that it became by far, the predominant issue in our marriage. And when the kids came along, it only got worse, especially during Diminutive One's infancy and toddlerhood, which was especially exhausting for me.

Sex became a chore. One more responsibility weighing on my shoulders. One more need to see to before I collapsed into a crumpled heap amid the bed clothes, not having bothered to brush or disrobe.

I began to resent Husband's constant demands. He began to resent that everyone and everything else took precedence over him.

It became a big problem.

But we managed to work through it. We've always been pretty good at communicating and eventually, we began to make some headway.

He realized that I felt overwhelmed and angry when he added another obligation to my lengthy list of responsibilties. He begant o understand that his entreaties for me to engage in sex with him when I was not in the mood reduced it to an empty, meaningless act for me. He had never considered that I might feel degraded or cheapened by that.

I began to realize that for him, sex was a way of getting close to me, not just physically, but emotionally. The commonly accepted wisdom is that women cannot separate sex and love, but I think that is a huge misconception. It's men who equate sex with love. Therefore, rejecting a sexual overature from my husband was a rejection of him as a person and a rejection of his love. It took me a really long time to get that, but eventually I realized that it wasn't just a ploy to get more sex.

So these days, we still have hugely differing sexual appetites. BUT...we've learned to compromise. I no longer see having sex when I'm not in the mood as the equivalent of a hooker performing a service. I see it as a wife doing something nice for her husband because she loves him.

He is more understanding when I have a headache, or I'm tired, or I have reached my need fulfillment threshold for the day. He doesn't pout or sulk because he has realized that a headache is really a headache, and not a barometer of my feelings for him.

That is not to say that he has not been patiently biding his time until I reach my sexual peak. He supposes that it should be happening aaaaaaaaaaany day now.

So, I think today might be the day.

Completely contrary to my customary inclinations, I am thoroughly and completely consumed with all things sexual. I can't seem to stop thinking about it. And it's agony. If this is what men go through their whole lives...well, all I can say is...those poor wretched bastards.

And I also find that I am a little disconcerted by the possibility that Husband will turn me down. I've never been in the position of being the aggressor before, and I find myself completely preoccupied with the fear that he will say NO. It's a thoroughly irrational fear, but it's definitely giving me a taste of his medicine.

It's all good though. I've gained some perspective. I won't say I'll never turn him down again, but...I might think about it a little harder before I do.

So, in honor of my newfound libido, and to keep me from molesting the meter reader, who is, at this very moment, poised over my meter in a most tantalizing manner, the insufferable tease (Don't defend him. He knows EXACTLY what he's doing), I'm going to list some of my unconventional fantasy men.

I have a tendency to crush on quirky, interesting and unique men. Not that I would toss George Clooney out of bed mind you, but it's more likely that George Costanza would catch my eye first.

Without further ado I give you:

Old Guys I Would Have Sex With:

  • Sean Connery
    (Yes, I know he's a mysoginist. But I don't care. I want him to brogue me baby.)

  • Sam Elliott. (He can give me a voice job any time.)

  • Anthony Hopkins (He can eat my er, liver any time.)

  • Morgan Freeman
    (He will always and forever be Easy Reader to me, and something about that Fro and those tight bell bottomed jeans.....)

  • Patrick Stewart
    (I can't even watch Star Trek because I just about swoon when he says..."Come.")

  • Hugh Laurie
    (He's not that much older than me, but he'll do just fine for my doctor fantasies)

  • Michael Caine (Blame It on Rio. Nuff said)

  • Sting (Young teacher, the subject of schoolgirl fantasies...)

  • William H. Macy
    (I can't even explain that one.)

Interesting, Quirky, Somewhat Fugly But Undeniably Magnetic Guys I Would Have Sex With:

  • Vin Diesel.
    (Besides the fact that he is purported to have a huge peen, again, it's the voice. Can't you just imagine him growling dirty things into your ear?)

  • Steve Buscemi
    (Something about small, angry, foul mouthed little men with bad teeth turns me on, I guess)

  • Tim Curry (But only as Frank N' Furter. There is something undspeakably erotic about a man in fishnets)

  • Steven Tyler.
    (He is so fantastically ugly that he's almost beautiful. That's the only way I can explain it)

  • Benicio Del Toro
    (again with the fantastically ugly, and because, he is Brat Pitt in twenty years.)

  • Christopher Walken (I don't know. He's just so odd...he fascinates me.)

  • Tim Roth (He is so GOOD at being BAD.)

  • Gary Oldman (He was so. freakin. sexy. as Dracula)

  • Stephen King (there is something undeniably sexy about genius)

  • Bill Gates (Ditto)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go take a cold shower and wait for my husband, who might decline just to spite me, but whom, it is more likely, will burst into song.

I'll be all....

"Ohhhhhh, sweet mystery of life at last I've found youuuuuuuuuuu"

And he'll be all...

"Bow Chicka Bow Ow"

Think pure thoughts...think pure thoughts....

Sunday, June 17, 2007


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

"Mawage is what brings us"

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

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

My mother predicted several times that our marriage would fail. First because I moved in with him after one date and three weeks of phone conversation. You laugh, but for someone who had previously been in a relationship based mostly upon my willingness to sit through one sporting event after another, during which of course, conversation was strongly discouraged, and communication took the form of paleolithic grunts and gestures, intelligent discourse can be damn near erotic.

The first time Husband demonstrated the capacity for abstract thought, the earth moved for me. Nevertheless, my mother worried that he could be some kind of sexual deviant or homicidal maniac. I suppose he certainly could have been, but I was not in a hurry to condemn someone who moved like he did on the dance floor. You know what they say about men who can dance. It's true.

Still, neither of those things are that upon which one can base a successful marriage. And, truth be told, I did not enter into a living arrangement with him with any intention to marry. Rather, it was a not unpleasant way to extricate myself from my current living situation which had become unpleasant and nigh unto unbearable due to the volatile relationship between my roommate and her significant other.

I had become so accomstomed to being awakened by the sound of breaking glass and shouted obscenities that I often just yawned and rolled over. The one time I did venture out to inquire as to her safety, I was greeted with a resentful glare from her and silent, but smoldering malevolence from him.

Gee, you're welcome. No really, I habitually wake at 3:30 am with my heart pounding out of my chest. Don't give it another thought.

Too many mornings I would stumble from bed barely conscious after enduring the maelstrom well into the wee hours. My work and my appearance began to suffer. I had dark circles that no amount of concealer could cover. I grew exceedingly weary of the drama, but since the house we rented jointly belonged to her mother, I couldn't ask her to leave.

You can see why shacking up with a potential serial killer was the more attractive option. The day he showed up with a borrowed pick-up and declared "You're coming with me. Tonight." I not only didn't resist, I was swept away by his masterful gallantry.

So I moved in with him and six months later, on Valentine's Day, he proposed. I think every young unmarried woman has fantasized about how she would one day be proposed to on bended knee. This proposal was all that and more. It was romantic, and clever, and completely unexpected. I wept, and I eagerly accepted, having determined round about the third month of co-habitation that I had somehow managed to stumble onto a really terriffic guy. Six months after that, we married, and eighteen months later we became parents.

Another factor in my decision to keep him was that his eyes didn't glaze over when I mentioned that I wanted children. Six children, no less. He didn't flinch even a little.

Suddenly, thirteen years have passed and a mere two children are growing impossibly fast. And I can only say that I don't know when we would have had time to get divorced. Marriage isn't easy, nor is raising children, and I'm sure we both had moments where we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into.

But those moments were fleeting, and quickly swallowed up the joy, the responsiblity, and the incredible busyness of our life together. We simply didn't have time to stay mad at each other. A sick baby, a seemingly impossibly tight budget, job stress...these were times that drew us together in desperate unity rather than driving us apart. We sought comfort from one another rather somewhere to lay blame.

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

So, despite our haste, it turns out we're a well-matched pair. He is patient where I am a high strung. He is blythe and easygoing where I am a worrier. He pays the bills because I have no head for numbers...I keep house and manage our schedule of endless obligations because he is not an organizer. He is a fun loving Dad, I am a somewhat reserved Mom. He keeps me from being too serious, I make him act like a grown-up sometimes. He helps the offspring with Math, Science, and Technology. I am pretty useful with English, History, and Social Studies.

Yes, he drives me completely nuts sometimes, and I him, but we truly like and respect one another. I consider him my best friend. I miss him when he's gone. I seek his advice when I have a problem.

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

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

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

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

...If our luck holds.

Originally posted 03/06. I'm spending the day in a frilly apron and high heels, slaving over a hot pancake griddle and providing blow jobs on demand.

Snort. Well. I am making pancakes.

Friday, June 15, 2007

So Old...and yet still So Young....

Most of the time, I don't feel old. I think I have a pretty youthful outlook, and thanks to a renewed commitment to a healthier lifestyle, I feel much the same physically as I did at 25. It seems to me that my parents were much older at my age, than I am, but that was probably just the childish perspective from which I observed their dottering ways.

*I* listen to current music. *I* try to stay on top of fashion, cultural and media trends. *I* keep up with technology, though to be fair, this is mostly due to my techie husband and his affinity for gadgetry of various and sundry sorts.

But it's all an illusion really. And tonight, it was demonstrated very clearly that I no longer possess the capacity for the excitement of idol worship or the thirst for adventure to a sufficient degree to keep the expectations of a more cosmopolitan and discerning existence at bay.

How? You may ask.

Well, tonight I took my twelve year old son and two of his friends to their first concert.

And though I like the band, and I still enjoy a good concert, I found, once we neared the venue, that what I felt in abundance was....irritation.

I was irritated that the parking lot and venue access were not more clearly marked.

I was irritated that there were absolutely NO eating establishements convenient to the venue.

I was irritated that this would force me to pay exorbitant prices for crappy food and watered down drinks.

I was irritated that they made me remove the caps from the two bottles of water I had in the commodious purse I carried for just that purpose.

I was irritated that the $8.00 Margarita I bought tasted like lime Kool-Aid. Not good Kool-either. That kind we used to get when we were kids that came in a plastic barrell and had a tin foil top.

I was irritated that our seats were smack dab in the middle of the row, so that any time one of us needed to exit, we had to step over a kajillion people to do so.

I was irritated that the girl in front of us, who wore a white halter top with no bra and sported angel wings tattooed upon her shoulder blades, felt it incumbent upon herself to entertain us with her version of dirty dancing. For three hours. Hips don't lie, especially when they are clad in skin tight low, low, low rise denim.

I was irritated that there were FOUR opening acts.

I was irritated that one of them was a rap artist.

I was irritated that it was hot.

I was irritated that my butt was sweating.

I was irritated that I was irritated.

But the band finally took the stage and I was caught up in the wave of excitement that swept through the amphitheater. There is something about the energy in a crowd of concert's contagious, kinetic, palpable. I felt the years and the irritation melt away as my feet began to move, my hips began to sway. I lost myself in the music.

Suddenly, I was young again.

But not as young as the woman two rows in front of us, who had to have been 20 years older than me, but whom, bless her energetic little heart, pogo'd up and down like a maniacal terrier.

The band, Fall Out Boy, put on a REALLY good show. I had heard that their concerts tended to be a little amateurish, a little splapdash, and unusually short. None of that was true. Say or think what you will of Fall Out Boy, (one commenter to my original post expressed the opinion that Fall Out Boy are, collectivley, "tools") but unlike some bands, they actually play their own instruments, and play them extremely well.

Pete is the one who gets all the attention (Yeah, he's cute. Yeah, if I was twelve, I'd think he was totally hot) and he is an amazingly accomplished bass player, but the drummer was the one who really impressed me. I don't think I've been that impressed by a drummer since the Def Leppard "In the Round" tour in....89? when Rick Allen made his come back.

They were good showmen and the special effects were suitably over the top for a band of this particular genre. There were lots of pyrotechnics, interesting video embellishments, and the band engaged the audience frequently.

After the show, I asked my son if it was worth the wait. He was flushed with heat and excitement, and sporting a huge metallic grin. He answered immediately, and emphatically,

"Mom...that was totally BEAST!!" (beast is the new "tight" Tight was the new "awesome". Don't question it. There is no answer.)

And that made it all worthwhile.

Did I have fun? Well, at my age, fun is a highly subjective concept.

But yes...I had fun experiencing a first concert through the eyes of a twelve year old. I had fun listening to the young girls next to me squeal and say "OH MAH GAAAAAAAAAAWD" every time Pete's face was shown on the enormous video screens erected on either side of the stage. I had fun feeling like I could still rock out, even if I wasn't quite as energetic or unabashed about it as I might have once been.

I had fun feeling hip and young and old and wise at the same time.

There will be a time when my kid, sweet as he is, will not want to be seen within 100 feet of me. So I had fun being with him, and basking in his appreciation.

But damn it was good to get home.

I said in my original post that I was either the coolest Mom on the planet, or the stupidest woman on earth. I think it might be a little of both.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Beauty Interrupted

My boys are in baseball camp this week. Thank God.

I planned poorly this summer. Our last several summers have been consumed by All-Stars; especially last summer, when I was the team Manager. So I thought it would be soooooooooo nice to have no commitments this summer, and just laze about with no schedule, no itinerary, no "need to be there an hour agos".

That was a mistake.

They've been out two weeks, and they are driving me berserk. One is hyperactive, and both have attention disorders. When you couple that with a complete lack of structure and a Mom who has a low tolerance for noise and disorder, what you get is one cranky Mom.

I know..."Send 'em outside!! When we were kids, we weren't allowed to come in the house unless someone was bleeding!"

But it's HOT here. Those not familiar with the South don't understand what I mean when I say "hot". Its a kind of hot that saps the strength from your limbs and steals the breath from your lungs. It's a dangerous hot. A "you could die from this" kind of hot. Even after twenty years here, I am still unequipped to deal with the searing intensity of the Southern summer.

So *I* certainly don't want to be out there during peak hours, and I can't honestly blame my kids for not wanting to be out there. We spend a lot of time at the pool and the local beach and water parks, but our budget will only allow so many visits to the latter, and our small, unappointed neighborhood pool gets old after a while.

We know a guy through the baseball park where the boys play. He is the head Coach for the local High School baseball team, and fortuitously, he is holding a camp this week. They were still accepting registration, so I jumped at the chance and enrolled the boys.

When we left this morning, the weather was absolutely gorgeous. The profound humidity of the last two days has evaporated, and there is, blessedly, the tiniest bit of a chill in the air. It's this chill that the whole of the South will be praying for by Mid-July. It feels good to fill my chest with the fresh, clean air. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and everything is still green and lush.

It's one of those days that makes you feel good to be alive.

As I have for the last two days, I wait around until after they have broken up into their respective age groups. I chat with other Moms and just enjoy being out of the house. I watch the herd of boys in their murmuring melee.

Today, perhaps because of my buoyant mood, enhanced by sunshine and the delicious prospect of a morning spent alone, I am struck by the sheer beauty of these children.

They are fair and freckled, dark and wooly, coffe with cream and cream with coffee. They are blonde and brunette and every shade in between. They are short and tall, lean and plump. Some are still sleepy eyed, blinking and yawning. Some are already hard at horseplay, fueled by a kind of energy I will never again know.

The drawers of the smaller boys droop like the seat of a well-worn union suit. They sag comically on slender bottoms. The bigger boys are bursting out of pants that fit them only weeks ago; their knees and elbows jut forth sharp and proud. Many of them display team and tournament shirts. Some, no doubt spurred to practicality by a well intentioned Mom, wear only cotton tank tops.

They tote their water and their equipment and they talk and laugh and smile. Moms holler warnings and hasty good-byes. They say yes while their eyes look elsewhere, too full of happy distraction to pay heed. For what can possibly touch them on a day like today?

The are all eager. They are all exicited. They are all caught up in the magic that is childhood summer. They are all magnificent.

And then, against my will, I am consumed by an unwelcome darkness as I think to myself, that every child should know this kind of freedom, innocence, and joy.

But they don't, and my heart is heavy with that knowledge.

I don't want to think of children who have lost their homes and their families to war, famine, disease and poverty. I don't want to think of children who start their day by drawing water from a contaminated stream, who may eat only one meager meal that day. I don't want to think of children who wake up and head off to work in a dim and roaring factory. I don't want to think of children who are being tormented, tortured and abused.

But how can I look upon my own healthy, happy children and not see the misery of others? How can I look upon my own beautiful boys and not know that they are so very, very lucky? How can I not ache for what other children go without, while also thanking the stars above for all that my children will never hunger for?

It makes the sun shine a little less brightly in a sky that I realize, may not be such a wholesome friendly blue elsewhere in the world.

I push it away, damn me. I push it away and resolve not to think of it today. Not when things are so right in my world. I'll think of it again when they days are cold and gray, and let the chill of sandness seep into my heart and my bones. Maybe I will shed a tear, maybe I will be spurred to action.

I know now is still too late and I let that soothe my guilty conscience as I go about my day, secure in the privilege of forgetting.

But it will come to me again. And again. And again. I know this. And I know that one day I will not be able to push it away. I will be forced to draw it close and embrace it. To breathe in the stench of hopelessness and need. I will have to act.

But not today. Today everything is beautiful. I can believe it.

Can you?

Monday, June 11, 2007


I'm one of those people who is always worried about something. This is a trait shared by all of the women in my family. We worry. We stress. We stew. If we can't find something tangible to worry about, like kids, or bills, or the leaky roof, we invent shit and worry about that.

What the...what the hell is that? Is that a lump? That feels like a lump. It wasn't there yesterday. Was it? No, I'm sure it wasn't. Maybe it's just a pimple. Or an ingrown hair. Or a cyst. Yes, that's it. A cyst makes perfect sense. But it doesn't hurt. They say cancer doesn't usually hurt. Oh my god I've got cancer. I knew this was going to happen. I should have taken Omega 3 like they said. I should have eaten more food with those...whaddya call 'em...antioxidants. Yes, that's it. Maybe it would help if I took some now. Surely it can't hurt. I'm going to the store right now to get Omega 3 and antioxidants. I need tampax and ketchup anyway. I better call the doctor before I leave though. If I call now, I might be able to get in first thing in the morning. The sooner we start chemo, the better. Wait...where did it go? It was here a minute ago, I'm sure of it. Maybe I'm not dying of cancer! I better not get my hopes up though. It could be some kind of strange disappearing cancer. I'm still calling the doctor. I could probably wait and see if it comes back though. I wonder what I'm going to make for dinner. I should pick up a Stouffers lasagne while I'm at the store. I'm far too ill to cook.

I am a chronic insomniac. Part of that is just due to the fact that my circadian rythyms are completely opposite that of normal people. I am a night owl by nature. But it is mostly because often, I just can't shut off my brain. I lie in bed and examine the issue du jour from every possible angle. I carefully dissect it. I lay the guts of the matter out in front me and then poke and prod them until A) I arrive at a solution, B) My body slips into unconsciousness in self defense.

One might think I would resort to sleep aids. Ambien, Lunesta, might think I would be popping those things like candy. And I'll admit, it's tempting. But alas, I cannot avail myself of these modern day wonderments. Why? Well, because the house might catch on fire.

I was never one of those people who could leave work and not worry about it until 9 am the next morning. I am not a cavalier or carefree kind of Mom. The adage "Everything will work out for the best" is my personal anethema.

My oldest child is well over 5 feet tall, and I still make him sit in the backseat. If I thought I could wrangle his ass into a safety seat, I would. I insist on bike helmets, athletic cups, and now that one of my kids is sporting $5,000 worth of orthodontia, I insist on a mouth gaurd as well. I slather them with sunscreen every. single. time. we go to the pool or any time they will be outside for an extended periods of time. I have prohibited football. Spare me the statistics. I know. I don't care. They aren't playing. Ever.

You get the point.

Aside from being a tad..ahem...overprotective, I'm also the kind of person who should not read about stuff like global warming, or watch movies about meteors the size of a cruise ship plummeting to the earth.

And yet I do. Because a worry wart's motto is "Forewarned is forearmed".

So...the thing that is freaking me the flock out right now is....


Recently, while waiting for Pre-Pubescent One to have his braces tightened, I picked up a National Geographic magazine, which, one would think, is a perfectly innocuous little publication.

One would be wrong.

In this particular issue, was an article about all the chemicals that are common in our everyday lives, and how they are slowly destroying our bodies and our brains.

Now, I read all of it. Every word. But it contained far too much scary shit for me to process without lapsing into a full blown delirium of panic. So, as I normally do when faced with a plethora of really scary shit....I focused on but one aspect of the issue; one which seemed to offer the most significant potential for being really friggen dangerous. In other words, I picked the chemical that seemed the most likely to turn me into a walking biohazard, and devoted myself fully to worrying about it.

Pthalates. Pthalates are a class of chemicals that are used to make plastics pliable. At first, this doesn't really seem like a truly pervasive threat. But if you really start to think about it...Tupperware. Bottled Water. Ziploc bags. Saran Wrap. Laundry Baskets. Lunch boxes. Toothbrush bristles. Automobile dashboards. Coolers. Toy bins. Those cheap plastic tumblers that they sell at Wal-Mart 12 for a dollar and the matching cereal bowls with the straw built into the side.

Dear God. It's everywhere. I could maybe stop using tupperware and drinking bottled water. I could give up plastic cups and bowls. I could, realistically, replace most of the things in my home with those made only of natural materials.

But give up ZIPLOC bags?? The mind boggles.

I think, instead, I will simply stop reading National Geographic magazine. And Newsweek. Time. USA Today. Reader's Digest. Popular Science.

Perhaps periodicals are not a good choice of reading material for me. I should maybe stick to fiction.

Really, really fictional fiction.

I'm starting a twelve step program...Worriers Anonymous. Our motto will be

"Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy." ~Leo Buscaglia

or maybe...

"A hundredload of worry will not pay an ounce of debt."
~George Herbert

or perhaps...

"How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened."
~Thomas Jefferson

Do you see what I'm doing here? I'm worrying over what would be the best motto for a fictional program.

I am hardcore baby.

Footnote: As Antique Mommy mentioned in my comments "great minds think alike". She posted an eerily similar post this morning, and it did my heart good to read it. She is an utterly enjoyable read any time, but I especially like it when she writes something that validates me.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Mommyblogger Manifesto

(in other words, it's damn long, but possibly, still worth your while)

There is some big ole to do about a duck afoot in the blogoshpere. I don't honestly know what its about, or whom is involved, because I make a concerted effort not to get involved in that kind of thing.

I suspect it's some in joke reference to how bitchy or how incompetent some poor woman outside the circle of privilege is. I'm guessing it's because she challenged one of the Queen Bees. But who knows? It's how those things tend to go, but it could any one of a hundred age old petty squabbles.

Long ago, in a place far, far away, I brawled with the best of 'em. And after the whole ordeal was said and done and left in the past, I realized that the only reason I ever felt the need to criticize or challenge someone else's views, whether it be on parenting, or politics, or religion, was to temper my own uncertainty in the views that I held.

I also learned that while perhaps winning made me feel better for a fleeting moment, the triumph was brief. And that sustaining such a combative and contentious mien was really exhausting, and at the core, unsatisfying and demoralizing.

In short, being the bitch might feel good in that brief shining moment when you have outbitched everybody else, but afterwards, you just feel mean, petty....small.

These days, I haven't the time, the effort, or the inclination to weather another tempest like that. And with twelve years of parenting under my belt, I have the confidence to rely on my own instincts and trust in my own ability to reason through some of the tougher issues that come with raising kids.

The thing is...if we're all honest, most of the things we do as mothers are to impress other women. Not our kids.

Because a twelve year old doesn't care that he was breast fed for 42 months. Or that only diapers woven of the purest fibers from the first shearing of a lamb fatted on rosehips and caviar touched his delicate bottom. Or that he was only allowed to play with toys fashioned from virgin Beechwood, Hemp and Conch shells harvested from the Caspian Sea.

Other women care. It's the acceptibility gradient by which we judge with whom we will allow ourselves and our children to socialize. If we didn't have that internal barometer, we'd all like each other and get along despite our differences and we just can't have that, now can we?

It's stupid.

Standards are good. Important even. But taken to extremes they become divisive, destructive, and elitist.

I no longer care about impressing other women with my parenting or my parenting views. I rarely let someone's else's views influence my opinion of them as people unless they are truly, inhumanly, unspeakably vile.

I do care about impressing my kids.

So how exactly DO you impress a twelve year old?

That's hard to say. Because things that you might think would earn some grudging respect and undying gratitude, may elicit only a grunt, a nod, and a barely adequate expression of thanks.

And then, sometimes you do a thing without even thinking. It isn't planned and plotted and reserached. It's a knee-jerk reaction, a moment of weakness. But suddenly you're a hero.

The lesson here might be to just quit planning and plotting and researching and fly by the seat of our pants. Some of us figured that out long ago. Some of us are far too entrenched in our grown up ideals to navigate through life without our Google safety net.

The other day at the pool, some older kids were really making things miserable for everybody else trying to weather the already brutal Georgian heat. They were throwing...nay...hurling a tennis ball to one another lengthwise accross the pool. Small children, infants and other adults were all in the path of this testosterone fueled horseplay, and it was literally impossible to get out of their way, as their movement followed the path of the ball.

Their language was bad, their topics of conversation completely inappropriate.

Many of the Mothers shooed their children into the baby pool, which is a mere 5 or 6 feet square, where they huddled, trying to play while packed in like sardines.

It pissed me off. We pay some pretty steep dues to belong to this HOA, which is the only way to garner pool privileges. I decided that I'd be damned if I'd let a bunch of adolescent pissantes chase me or anybody else who pays, out of the pool. Our pool.

"HEY YOU GUYS!!!" I bellowed.

Everyone in the pool turned to look at me.


They looked at me, made comments amongst themselves and moved. A little bit.

I repeated my request and added that they were endangering little children and that someone could get seriously hurt.

Again, they snickered, shot me dirty looks, and moved. A little bit.

I just wasn't having it.

I got up, walked over to them and said,

"Dudes. I have asked you like three times, nicely to go down there and throw across the pool, so you don't hit any little kids. If you can't do that, I have no choice but to get bitchy. I know your Mom (pointing) and your Mom (pointing) and your Mom (pointing) and you KNOW I will tell her how you were behaving down here. Don't make me get all neighborhood busybody on you...mmmk?"

There was a chorus of mumbled "Yes Ma'am"s, and they grudgingly migrated to the deep end of the pool.

I realized, too late, that Diminutive One, who looks up to these boys and thinks them the epitome of Middle School cool, would be embarassed beyond belief. I anticipate paying for that with a couple of days of pouting truculence and monosyllabic discourse.

I turned to him, intending to apologize and attempt to mitigate some of the damage, only to find him grinning from ear to ear.

"Why are you grinning like that?" I asked, truly perplexed.

"Mom. You are such a bad ass."

And that was that.

I impressed my kid and I didn't have to outbitch anyone except a pack of teenagers who deserved it. I didn't have to eat my words. I didn't have to apologize for going too far. I didn't have to make myself scarce, hoping everyone would forget my behavior.

Girls, c'mon. If you want to be a family of Polyamorist Buddhist Nudists who co-sleep with your 12 vegan children, all of whom you've breastfed until they were five and whom you now unschool...then be proud of that. If you think the best interests of your family and your children are being served...who cares what everybody else thinks?

And if someone ELSE wants to do that...why do YOU care?

I chalk this all up to a really profound sense of powerlessness and insignifcance on the part of women that dates back the the pre-suffrage days. It doesn't have to be that way, if we choose not to let it. Don't be powerless. Don't be insignificant. DON'T make a mockery of womanhood and all it stands for. Because women are not the sum of this kind of behavior. Women can change the world, feed and clothe it, kiss it's boo-boos and right it's wrongs.

But we have to quit beating each other up first.

Peace, ladies.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Photo

I grew up as the oldest of three girls.

The middle child, the sister closest in age to me, is the one with whom I share a very special bond. Even now that we are almost a thousand miles apart, she's my best friend and confidant. I love her children as my own, and I miss them desperately every day. Many of my fondest childhood memories are of her, and the adventures we had together.

My youngest sister and I have never been close. She is six years younger than me and for most of my chidlhood, she existed on the fringes of my life as a crying baby, a whining toddler, an annoying kindergartener.

In many ways, she was entirely superfluous to my existence. We never played with the same kids, we never attended the same school, we never had the same interests. Other than a few very notable exceptions, she is largely absent from my collective childhood memories.

That wasn't a purposeful thing. Nobody did anything to alienate us from one another. It's just the way things were because of our age difference and because we were and are polar opposites in every possible respect.

But I think it's sad all the same.

I left home when she was just 12 years old. I visited once or twice a year, but she had her friends, her interests, her own life. I wasn't particularly interested in hearing about or associating with her friends, whom I considered "trashy". She wasn't really interested in hearing about my job, my social life, my "hoity toity" existence in the big city.

As a young adult, she made what I considered to be some very bad choices. I disapproved. She felt judged. I tried to help. She resentment my meddling. I felt rejected. And our relationship eroded even further.

We became strangers.

Our history is so checkered with resentment and anger that it's difficult to relate to one another too deeply without the risk of resurrecting old hurts.

None of this means that I don't love her. On the contrary...I love her very much. And it's because I love her that I worry, I meddle, I judge. It's what big sisters do, even big sisters who are estranged from their little sisters by time and circumstance.

She is smart, my little sister, but she doesn't give herself enough credit. I hate that. She has such incredible potential. She could be so much. She could have so much. And of course, I want it all for her...even if she doesn't want it for herself.

All of this has made our relationship very superficial, brittle, tentative and timid. I try not to say too much, and end up perhaps saying too little. She tries to relate to things she can't possibly understand and ends up sounding insincere.

So, we smile and we make polite chit chat. Very rarely is anything of any consequence said. We dance around the deeper issues that lie at the core of our relationship. And I don't know how to make us closer. We have so much to overcome. We have both, at times, felt that the other just didn't care.

This past Christmas, we exchanged gifts as we always do. It's hard for me to buy for I said, we are strangers and I tend to give her the kind of impersonal all-purpose things that one gives to the myriad of people who cross one's path but whom one scarcely knows. Her gifts to me are often similarly generic.

I unwrapped her gift absently, without relish, without anticipation. I chatted with my family as my hands tore at the paper. But then a glimmer of gold and glass caught my eye, and a swatch of polka-dotted cotton peeped through the paper. Curious now, I tore the rest of the paper impatiently away and found a piece of my childhood staring back at me.

Three little girls, lined up like pickets in a fence, wearing matching red polka-dot jumpers. A brunette, a blonde, and a baby with fine red fuzz sticking up all over her head.

Suddenly I was 30 years in the past. It was picture day.

I remembered complaining over the way my bangs hung in my eyes, and I remembered how the elastic in the puffed sleeves made my arms itch. I remembered that the sandals I wore were a discordant yellow. My Mother said it didn't matter because they wouldn't be seen. But it bugged me all the same.

I remembered the bright glare of fluorescent lighting in the store, the slap of my feet on the cheap tile floor. I remembered racks of lollipops strung together in plastic, hanging in strips to the floor. I remembered the merry crinkle as my sister spun the rack and how it teetered back and forth with its own momentum.

I remembered the baby fussing. She had teeth trying to break through her tender gums. I remember the cool plumpness of her bare arms and legs as I tried to soothe her. I remember my mother fretting over the drool on her jumper.

I have seen that photo a hundred times over the course of my life. With the years, it has faded and yellowed, until we all looked happily jaundiced, and the cheery tomato red of our jumpers turned a curious chromatome orange.

But here it was, in a pretty gold frame; the richness of our skin, the lustre of our hair and the brilliant reds and golds of the autumn background all restored to their proper hues.

And it struck me with the intensity of a physical blow...that this photo means something to her.

This photo of us.

Sisters. And Sisterhood.

And I knew then that we would be okay. Maybe not perfect. Maybe not good enough. But we can and we will, keep on trying. Becase it matters. To both of us.

Thanks Little Sister.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Health Care Hunkered

Alright. Now I'm mad.

What do I do when I'm mad? Why, I blog, of course.

The Health Care crisis in America has long been a hot button issue for me. I've been an advocate for socialized medicine for years. I realize it's not a perfect system, but nothing is.

So I've sorta kinda had a piece about it on the backburner for a while. But I never really dug in and tackled all facets of what is, ultimately, a very complex issue. It hurts my brain to think about it. Health Care reform is a huge undertaking. Gargantuan. Herculean.

But now it has come to bear in a very personal way and I find myself angry all over again. And feeling very helpless, hopeless and scared.

Recently, Husband's company changed hands, and with it, our health insurance. Our benefits under the old company had gradually become less and less comprehensive, while our premiums, and our co-pays, of course, increased. But, I was ludicrously grateful, because they would cover 12 visits with a mental health practitioner per calendar year. Because obviously anybody who needs more than that is just being melodramatic.

While his boss shopped, we had an entire month where we had no insurance coverage. We did not pay for Cobra, as all but the most dire illness and/or accident would have cost less out of pocket than the premium for a family of four.

When he finally chose a carrier and our benefits were restored, the first thing I did was to check to see if all our family health care providers were included in their provider directory. Our family pracitioner was on their list. The boys' therapists and the ADHD specialist that had been recommended for Diminutive One were not. Nor was the Orthodontist or the Dentist.

Diminutive One's therapist graciously agreed to obtain a provider exception on the basis of continuity of care. She did this despite her misgivings about this carrier; misgivings based on professional experience in the past. She then jumped through hoop, after hoop, after hoop on Diminutive One's behalf. It was enormously frustrating. Calls were not returned. Erroneous information was given. She was passed off from one person to the next, none of whom seemed to know what the hell they were talking about.

It was then that I began to be really afraid.

She is still tryinig to gain the exception, and Diminutive One has not seen his doctor for 3 weeks. We can only afford one visit per month out of pocket. The results are showing. She was a calming influence on all of us. We need her.

Today I went to pick up a refill on Pre Pubescent One's Strattera. Our old copay was $45. I thought that was bad. Now, it's $60. AND...they will only cover one pill per day, per month. He has been prescribed a twice daily dose, and that is what he has been taking for three years. Now, some insurance yahoo, who has never met my child or reviewed his medical records, has decided that he only needs one pill a day. Because that's "standard". I could perhaps save some money on doctor's visits and just consult them directly regarding our health issues.

Of course, I can obtain 30 more pills at my own expense. For $150. Yes. That's a combined monthly total of $210.

To say that I was livid would have been a massive understatement.

I cannot obtain a generic equivalent. Some ADD/ADHD meds do have generics available, but Strattera is a fairly new drug. And because a drug must be on the market for fifteen years before generic producers can challenge the patent, it will be quite some time before one is available for us. Sometimes the big drug companies pay these producers to drop their challenges. They make it worth their while. Everybody benefits. Except the poor bastards that need the medicine.

And here's where a large part of the problem lies.

Capitalism and health care do not make good bedfellows. In fact, I think it's a gross and egregious conflict of interest. When profit margins become more important than people, the quality of care is always compromised. When we take medical decisions out of the hands of doctors, and put it into the hands of actuaries and accountants, we are pandering to a bottom line rather than a patient's needs.

That's a failure of the system in every conceivable way.

Unless you're looking at it from the perspective of the insurance and drug companies, in which case, everything is coming up roses.

I have two children seeing mental health professionals for attention deficit disorders. My youngest also has anxiety issues. Right now, I have one child on medication, but soon it will be two. The combined costs of prescriptions and therapy will quickly become too much for us to handle on one income.

Despite the fact that my husband makes a very good living (good enough that we do not qualify for any government subsidized assistance for health care costs) I anticipate having to go back to work to make sure my kids have what they need to be healthy, happy, productive.

That's wrong. Not just for me, but for everybody. And the really crappy thing is...we are one of the lucky ones. My children don't need this medicine to live. And I have resources. I can and will get what they need.

But people in America are going into debt to pay for prescription drugs. They are going into debt to pay for diagnostic tests. They are getting second jobs and second mortgages to manage the cost of chronic but treatable diseases such as Diabetes, Epilepsy, and IBS. People are not seeking treatment for mental health issues because those services are not covered and the expense is astronomic.

Why are we allowing this to happen?!?! Why is the issue of health care reform not at the top of every candidates political platform? Why do let our health and that of our families play second fiddle to the almighty dollar? And why are we allowing the drug companies to form monopolies on drugs that our children, our grandparents, our friends and neighbors and the mailman NEED to maintain their quality of life; sometimes, to sustain life itself?

The pharmacists, who is also the proprieter of the small independant drugstore where we buy our meds, was, bless his heart, completely outraged on my behalf, and the behalf of all his customers. I asked him if he had much experience with our new carrier, and if so, were they particularly bad.

"They're all CROOKS!" he thundered. "Every last one of 'em! I don't even know why I stay in this business. I'm just putting more money in their damned pockets!"

He looked me straight in the eye and said "I'm sorry sweetheart. If I could, I'd give you the damned things for free and screw the insurance!"

"I know. I know you would. But you can't afford that either."

He shook his head sadly..."No. No I can't."

We left in posession of 30 pills. Two weeks' worth of medicine for Pre-Pubescent One. I don't know what we'll do when they're gone. We do not qualify for any assistance.

I hear the Cheetah III is hiring. I wonder if there's a niche for slightly older women with lots of personality and plenty of....back. Yo.

Well, that might solve my problem, but what about the greater issue? We have to do something. We have to make health care reform a priority. If we don't, it's only going to get worse, and pretty soon, we'll be back to the days when only rich people can afford medicine, and the rest of us have to rely on folk remedies, mustard plasters and leeches.

Write your congressman, your governor, your state insurance commissioner...hell, even your president. We've got to start somewhere.

Here are a few link that I found interesting, helpful and sort of heartening. There are people who are trying. We just have to try harder. And bigger. We have to combine our voices and make ourselves heard.

American Health Care Reform

Baby Boomers Revolt

Alliance For Health Care Reform

Health Politics with Dr. Mike Magee

Footnote: "Hunkered" is a Southern colloquialism that means sick, or weak, or ailing in some way. Can also mean beaten down, depressed or sad.