Blogs Are Stupid

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

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Say Goodbye, To The World You Thought You Lived In

Now that's an uplifting post title, innit? Draws you right in.

I don't really have anything to say today.

I know. The mind boggles.

Instead, I'm going to pose a question.

(This isn't really a music video; I don't believe there is an official video for this song. It's just a photo montage that some random fan put together. Just ignore the images and listen to the song. Please?) you think the "bitter bitter man" God? I do. And I wonder why that's the first thing that leapt to my mind.

Also, do you ever feel sometimes that adulthood is just a series of realizations wherein saying "goodbye to the world we thought we lived in" is just a sad inevitability?

At what point do you just accept that and stop mourning everything that is lost?

At what point do you decide that B.A. is being a huge downer and go read something really entertaining?

Apparently a couple posts ago, judging by my drastic decline in comments.

Can't say I blame you, with all my pseudo atheistic rantings and oh no she di-int and I rock because I bought a moldy 50 year old matchbox car.

But the pantyhose story was good, right?

Why can't life have more pantyhose stories?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Yes Billy Bob, There is a Santa Clause

My sister is a great gift giver.

(By the way, I have two sisters. So, dear readers, don't assume that when I say "my sister", I am always speaking of she who now blogs. Although I almost always am. But she doesn't need to know that, because I have sung her praises far to often and loudly recently and little sisters with fat heads can be highly irritating, even when they are grown women.)

Anyway, she always manages to find that perfect thing, even on a budget. Her gifts always make a person feel as if she searched the ends of the earth to find exactly that which you most needed and wanted.

Last Christmas she gave me a mug. You might consider that a somewhat impersonal gift; something one might give to their secretary or the post man. But this mug was one of those design it yourself deals, and it bore a painting by one of my favorite artists, and a quote by one of my favorite authors. The subject of both, was one of my most fervent passions.

Study At A Reading Desk, by Lord Frederic Leighton

"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not the pleasure of a good novel, must be intolerably stupid"
~Jane Austen

See what I mean?

Husband is a good gifter too. One year shortly after we were married, he stood in line for six hours at a book signing to get a first edition signed by my then favorite author, Anne Rice. Although my tastes have matured a lot since then, it is still one of my most treasured posessions, because Husband is not a reader. And yet he understood what a gift like that would mean to me, and went to great lengths to procure it.

I did not get the gifting gene. My gift choices, while well intentioned, are usually pretty uninspired.

But every once in a while, I have a stroke of gifting genius. And because those instances are fairly infrequent, when I cannot bring an idea to fruition, it really chaps my ass.

Years ago, my father in law (we'll call him "Billy Bob" because otherwise my title makes absolutely no sense) mentioned that he would like to find a Buddy L Co-Cola truck like the one he had when he was a boy.

(In actuality, it is about the size of a matchbox car.)

Billy Bob grew up in a small rural Southern town. Like many families in that town, his did not have a great deal of money. The posessions they had were fiercely prized and abandoned only when they could no longer be patched up or cobbled together.

HE played with his precious truck until it was little more than a hunk of dented, twisted steel. He doesn't recall what happened to it, but he recalls how much he loved it. It was a gift from his Daddy, who has been gone for many years now, but the mention of whom still brings tears to his eyes.

I decided it would be a real hoot if I could find one for him.

Little did I know that Co-Cola trucks were only yellow for a few years, and so, original toy vehicles from that era are extremely rare and highly sought after.

I found quite a few on ebay, but I watched in shock and amazement as the bid on auction after auction soared far higher than I could ever afford. One, in mint condition with all the original coke trays and the original dolly sold for over $500. I've seen them go for over $100 even in very, very poor condition, with paint flaking and wheels missing and axles buckling.

I resigned myself to the fact that I would likely never be able to grant him his wish.

But still, on occasion, I would check, just to see if I might get lucky.

Yesterday, I got lucky.

Some hapless yard saler who obviously did not know what he had found, put one up for auction with a Buy it Now of SEVENTY DOLLARS and nobody had bid on it. Just to give you some perspective, the one pictured above was listed on an antique dealer's site for $185. The one I purchased is in much, much better condition, although it's missing the Coke cases. Those can be purchased fairly inexpensively though, so I'm not too concerned.

I just don't stumble across bargains like that. I am the anti-bargain. Seriously. And people will almost always pay more for the thing I am after than I ever even thought about paying.

So to say that I was excited would be a huge understatement. Truth be told, I was just about peeing in my pants.

I had a good gift idea and it finally panned out. It took years, but who's counting? YAY.

I can't wait to see his face when he opens it. And I hope it means as much to Billy Bob to get the truck as it means to me to be able to give it to him. It's not a useful thing. It's not a beautiful thing. It's not a thing that will cure his baldness or give him back his youth. But maybe, it will make is seem a little less distant for a moment or two.

I would like to hear from you. What was the best gift you ever got? What was the best gift you ever gave? Why was it the best? What did it mean to you?

The Greater Gift

Years ago when were in gradeschool, my youngest sister had a friend whose family were Christian fundamentalists. I didn't realize that at the time. I just knew they were very, very different from our family.

The mother and only daughter had long hair. They did not wear pants. The mother was always pregnant and had a worn, dour look about her. All of them wore bedraggled handmedowns and the babies always wore cloth diapers that were gray and drooping from countless washings.

I would babysit every now and then when their mother had to grocery shop or run other errands. Their home, like ours, was almost a century old, but unlike ours, it was dark and dreary and scared me a little bit. It smelled funny too. Their father rode a bicycle to work. I don't remember if they even had a car.

They were homeschooled, which was not the widely accepted practice that it is today. It was definitely viewed with suspicion and made the children a target of teasing in the neighborhood. I don't think they had many friends aside from my sister.

They had to do chores. Not just a few chores either...they were regular workhorses. And they never, ever, ever sassed their parents. It was WEIRD. I got the distinct feeling that they were spanked a lot more than we ever were. Harder too.

But the thing that unquestionably inspired the most sympathy on our part, was the fact that there was no television allowed in their home. No Saturday morning cartoons, no after school specials about that kid who wet the bed. No Six Million Dollar Man. No Bewitched.

It was a bona fide travesty as far as we were concerned.

On occasion, their mother would allow the girl and the oldest boy to come over to our house to play. But they did not play at our house. My sister would beg them to play with her; play tag, or hide n' seek, or Twister...anything. But both of them would promptly plant themselves in front of our television, where they were stricken deaf and dumb to her pleas by the flickering images on the screen. They sat there, slack jawed and glassy eyed until it was time for them to go home.

It was sort of creepy.

I hadn't thought of those people in years, but yesterday, while browsing for children's crafts in Michael's, I was reminded of them with startling clarity.

A woman and a little boy caught my eye; the woman because her pinched, somber mein and dowdy appearance were oddly familiar; the little boy because his face was filled with wonder as he studied a display of fantasy action figures.

I smiled, because Diminutive One had shown similar interest in the display on a previous visit. He had $10 that my mother had given him on her visit here over a month ago. He had been saving it for just the right thing. After a lot of deliberating, he decided upon two model airplanes instead.

This little boy was much younger than Diminutive One; perhaps four, but certainly no older than five. And yet, the two were equally enchanted by the majestic creatures and the noble heroes. I smiled at the fact that wizards and dragons and knights can enthrall most any male, from those who have scarcely entered boyhood, to those who have left it far behind.

My reverie was broken by the woman's scolding. Her voice was heavy with contempt.

"Oh no. We don't like those ugly, evil things Matthew! They're not for little boys like you to play with. It would make God very sad."

I know that I gasped audibly. I know I did. I felt the outrage and indignation burst from me in a huge, scathing exhalation. But if she heard me, she gave no indication.

I wanted to scream at her.

"How dare you do that to a little boy! Don't you know they only have magic for a little while?? It leaves them so quickly, their ability to believe in the unbelievable. How can you take that from him? How can you manipulate him with God's approval? You know what would make God sad?? What you just did. That would make God sad. He had a little boy too, you know."

But I didn't, of course. It's none of my business what she teaches her kids. But goddamn it made me sad. Inexpressibly, inexplicably...sad.

I watched his head flop forward onto his chest and his shoulders sag. Ever so slowly he turned away and then reluctantly followed his mother, who was striding briskly away. He cast a single longing glance over his shoulder.

It tore my heart in two that look. It was hunger. Stark, naked hunger for fanciful things.

I saw that woman and that little boy in two other stores that day. And every time I hastened in the opposite direction, fearing I might witness another such scene. I couldn't face that child's disappointment, shame, and longing again.

And he was ashamed. He was ashamed of his hunger, ashamed of it because he was afraid it made God sad.

Maybe I'm missing something here. It happens, since I'm not a Christian and I don't attend church. I'm not privvy to the wisdom that is imparted there.

I'd like very much if someone would explain to me how depriving a child of magic and whimsy will make them a better Christian or a better person.

I'd like very much if someone could explain to me why God and magic can't coexist peacefully in a child's heart.

Me...I happen to think that there's precious little magic in this world, and precious little time to believe in it. And you know what? I nurtured that belief in my children. I fed it with tall tales and fantastic yarns and fairy stories. I fed it by placing quarters under pillows and presents under a tree and brightly colored eggs in a basket. I have watched it grow and thrive and become it's own thing in each of them...and it has gratified me.

If I have done my children an injustice, then I am not interested in doing the right thing.

My children do not hunger and they are not ashamed. And yet...there are those who would say that they are being deprived because I have not given them faith.

I have to wonder which is the greater gift.

(I know, I'm a little heavy on the religious meanderings lately, but that always happens this time of year. It goes hand in hand with spending time with my in-laws. Remind me to write about our conversation about "The Golden Compass" and how I almost inadvertantly set myself up for some good old fashioned soul saving by admitting that I wish I had the certainty of faith.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sweet, Sweet Victory

Why do I have the image of Will Ferrell in a headband and spangled leotard in my head?

Anyway...HA! Blogosphere - 1, Sister - 0. Let the games begin.

For The Love of Funny

Lavish her with your brilliance and hospitality please.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

For The Love of Dogma

Thank you all for your very persuasive comments on my last post. My sister has either not read my blog this weekend, or is deliberately ignoring our heartfelt pleas. Until I can discern which is the case, let's move on.

Friday night Husband and I caught "Dogma" on one of the movie channels. If you know anything about me, you don't have to extrapolate much to realize that I love that movie. I would like to marry that movie. If I wasn't already married, I would marry Kevin Smith because I love him for making that movie.

Within the first five minutes, two of the main characters touch upon pretty much every issue I have with faith, organized religion and ecclisiastical law.

One of the biggest problems that I have with Christianity, is the whole "washing away of sins" thing.

In the case of Catholicism, this comes in the guise of plenary indulgence. It's an interesting, if somewhat convoluted concept and Kevin Smith runs with it.

In a nutshell, two displaced angels, Loki and Bartelby (played by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) have discovered a loophole (plenary indulgence) whereby they can get back into heaven.

The last Scion (played by Linda Fiorentino) is dispatched along with two prophets (played by Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) and Rufus, the forgotten black 13th apostle (played by Chris Rock and....snort), to stop them and thereby preserve the human race.

They try to persuade Cardinal Glick (played by George Carlin, how funny is that??) not to go through with the ceremony to celebrate the centennial of his church, during which he plans to offer plenary indulgence to anyone who seeks it, as part of a Catholic renaissance and public relations overhaul, in which they are also replacing the crucifix with "Buddy Christ" as the new Catholic icon.

Bartleby and Loki plan to take advantage of that blanket pardon, transform into humans by pulling off their wings and then die to ascend into heaven.

I think that's a fairly inventive plan.

Unfortunately, their success would cause an end to reality as we know it, since it functions on one very important principle, that being; God is infallible. To prove God wrong would subvert the very thing which allows existence in the first place.

You have to admit, it's a pretty interesting premise.

However, the movie is not for the easily offended. There's a lot of foul language, irreverence and questionable behavior on the part of supposedly divine individuals.

If you take those things very seriously, DO NOT watch the movie.

Remember, I warned you. I am not responsible for any indignation, outrage or crises of faith that might arise should you choose to watch this movie.

But if you're able to have a sense of humor about religion, watch it. It's fantastically funny and clever. Kevin Smith is a satirical genius.

I guess the reason this movie resonates with me so much is that it illustrates several very elementary obstacles to faith, all of which have proven completely impossible for me to overcome.

First, one has to believe that just by asking for forgiveness and accepting Jesus as one's savior, one becomes worthy of salvation.

This is something I just cannot wrap my mind around. I find it fundamentally illogical. A horrible person can spend his or her life being wretched and unkind and even murderous, and yet, all they have to do is accept Jesus and they are saved. Presto chango, they are now worthy to walk through the pearly gates. As far as I know, there is no disclaimer that says they have to mean it.

But a person who spends their lives being good and kind and generous will go to hell simply because they can't make that leap of faith? Or because they choose not to believe in a supreme or divine being?

Nope. That does not jive with me, for numerous reasons, not the least of which is that fact that it creates justification for judgementalism and promotes divisiveness among the human race.

Second, one must be willing to suspend belief and accept the Bible as a literal interpretation of historical events.

I just don't have the capacity for that kind of blind certainty. I am a born cynic, I guess. Tales of burning bushes and plagues and parting seas only serve to make me less inclined to put my faith in such a dubious account of theological history. Not to mention the fossil record, which sort of disproves the entire chapter of Genesis.

Third, one must ally one's self with a certain brand of Christianity in order to be embraced by a given denomination and deemed worthy of inclusion and church sanctioned approval. One has to be willing to denounce those who subscribe to different faiths as inferior. has to believe in one's heart that they are damned and deserve it.

I think the Crusade thing, the Holocaust thing and the Jihad thing have effectively demonstrated the folly of that kind of bigotry. But still it persists. And Christians divide themselves into little enclaves of self-righteousness and piety when they could be living in harmony with one another. They shun other religions as heretical and condemn their followers as idolators, when they could be learning from one another.

In the movie, Serendipty, a muse, (played by Salma Hayek) says this:

"None of them have gotten it right. Because they have all failed to realize that it doesn't matter what kind of faith you have, as long as you have it."

Amen, I mean, er...Right On, sistah.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Sister Act

Fellow bloggers, I need your help.

We all know that blogging is a mixed bag, but it is an undeniably useful vehicle when it comes to communicating with others both known and unknown to us.

But before I tell you why I need your help I want to tell you about my sister.

My sister is, first and foremost, my best friend. And though she doesn't know it, she really always has been, even when I forsook her for a gaggle of girls in leggings and backwards Forenza sweaters. Those girls, invariably, let me down. There was competition, drama, betrayal.

But my sister...she was and is, steadfast and loyal.

She was always waiting when I came home. She was the first to know everything that happened to me and she always acted as if what I was saying was of tantamount importance, even though most of it was silly, histrionic teenaged girl stuff.

When at 17, I came home one night having been formally and rather anticlimactically (literally) deflowered, she responded with just the right amalgamation of awe and disgust. "SHUT. UP." she said. Then she asked for all the details and hung on my every word as I recounted the experience in a very worldly manner.

I really don't have any conscious memories of doing so, but she says that I let her tag along far more than most big sisters would have deigned to allow. I guess it was because I never felt that I had to suffer her presence. She and I genuinely had fun together.

I can remember us small, putting 45's on our little turntable and then spinning and twirling until the pull of earth seemed impossible to resist. We would tumble to the ground, dizzy and laughing, our hair and limbs tangling in a sunstreaked, suntanned sprawl of girl. We would look into each other's eyes and laugh at the way they jumped and lurched while our brains struggled to regain equilibrium. Then we would leap to our feet and do it again.

My sister is funny. My sense of humor is dry and sarcastic, but she has a knack for the ridiculous. She is completely unabashed in her antics, even as an adult. She has retained the silliness that most of us lose when we grow up.

When we were growing up, my parents struggled to make ends meet. They both worked long hours at demanding jobs. Even as children we understood their weariness. Oh, they were strong, my parents, and we knew that too. But there were times we sensed that, for whatever reason, they were almost beaten. On those occasions, my sister would employ every weapon in her arsenal to make them laugh.

Once, my mother came home from work and collapsed on the sofa, which was terribly unlike her. My mother, in those days, was a force of nature; always in motion. We exchanged a worried glance, and in my sister's blue green gaze, I could see her puzzling over how to circumvent the crisis at hand.

My mother, trying to make light of her weariness said, "Girls, could somebody please go upstairs and change my clothes for me?"

And that was all she needed.

She disappeared and I knew she was up to something. But it was anybody's guess what the something would be.

I heard her giggling before she even got down the stairs. When she entered the living room, she could scarcely contain her mirth as she wobbled through the living room on my mother's high heels.

She was wearing my mother's favorite sweater, it was brown and white striped, with a knit belt and a shawl collar. She also had on a pair of my mother's polyester perma crease pants, elastic waisted for comfort. They were a stunning shade of aqua. And to complete the ensemble, my mother's best taupe pumps.

She swam in everything of course, and could scarcely keep the pants from falling to her ankles. Each mad grab brought a fresh gale of giggles from her, and she swayed so precariously on the high heels that I expected her to topple over any moment. She was a comical sight, no doubt, but the thing that was really funny, was the fact that she had so effectively cracked herself up.

My mother began to laugh. It was magical when my mother laughed and it made you feel like everything was okay. She laughed until she cried. The harder my mother laughed, the harder we laughed. We laughed until our sides ached and we all had tears streaming down our cheeks. My sister laughed herself right off of those high heels and crumpled to the floor in a heap.

There are so many memories like would take forever and a day to tell them all.

Is that to say we have never argued? Certainly not. Sometimes we fought like cats and dogs. Sisters do. But unlike a girlfriend, a sister is forever. Even in the midst of the most heated argument, I knew she would never turn her back on me. I knew she would always champion me. I knew she would always be there for me.

A while back, she and her husband moved here so her husband could find work. They were living in Wyoming, where the options are extremely limited.

I was ecstatic. For the first time in 10 years, I was not alone. My children had an Aunt and Uncle, and later cousins to have a relationship with. My sister and I went shopping, had girls days, hung out. We talked about stuff that most people don't talk about in causal social situations. It was meaningful conversation, the kind both of us were starved for.

And then, four years ago, she decided to move back home. She had a 3 year old and newborn twins and she needed more help and more support than I could give her, having boys of my own with a busy schedule. She needed our Mom. I understood and I was happy for her. Going home was a dream we had both harbored for a long time. But I was absolutely bereft at her leaving.

I miss her every. single. day.

A few years later I started a blog, and now my sister is privvy to all the happenings here, despite being 900 miles away. She reads about stuff I might not think to tell her, or that I might forget when finally we both have a moment to talk on the phone for more than a few moments. I express a lot of my deepest thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams here, and she reads them all.

Sometimes, I start to tell her a thing, and she says "Oh, I know! I read about it on your blog." Often, her emails to me begin with, "So, I was reading your blog...."

But I don't have the same window into their world. I get bits and pieces from my Mom and I get abbreviated commentary from her in emails and those all too brief phone calls. But mostly, their day to day life is a mystery to me.

It's not fair.

So I've been trying to encourage her to start a blog. She dismissed the suggestion, saying that she has nothing of value to say, nothing that would interest anybody at all.

Here's where you come in bloggers.

Please help me convince my funny, intelligent, and imaginative sister, that blogging would be a good thing and that she does indeed have things to say that people will want to hear.

She has boy girl twins who are so cute you could eat them up, but who will also beat the tar out of each other on occasion. Sometimes when I am speaking to her on the phone, chaose erupts and it sounds as if WWIII is upon us.

The girl twin is actually my daughter, my sister having somehow spawned a child that is very much like me in all her girly glory.

The boy twin is a LOT like Diminutive One and I laugh sometimes when she, with shock, describes a thing that he has done. It is all so very familiar, but much funnier when someone else's child is the perpetrator.

Her 7 year old, like my boys, is exceptionally smart and very very funny, but he doesn't know he's funny. He says things with great seriousness, and his earnestness alone is terribly amusing, although, one takes great care not to laugh.

Not to mention that she has to deal with all the family crap that arises when one lives two blocks from one's parents and when one's father is a retiree with too much time on his hands and one's youngest sister is a quirky individual with an interesting domestic situation.

I, though admittedly biased, think a blog by my sister would be a wonderful addition to this little corner of cyberspace. And of course, there are those of you out there whose wit and sagacity make you masters of persuasion.

Together, I think we might just be able to suck her in.

Can you help a sister out?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A New Tradition

I'm adopting a new tradition here at Blogs Are Stupid. I'm going to post a piece which tells the story of my first Thanksgiving with Husband's very southern, very rural family.

I first wrote it in March of 2006. I reposted it last Thanksgiving, and I think I will do so again this Thanksgiving for those who are new to my blog.

It's one of my favorite pieces, and I like resurrecting it now and then. I hope you will enjoy it.

North and South

I am a Yankee by birth. I was born on the frozen tundra of Wisconsin in an igloo. We were transported to and from school by dogsled. In the winter, we did not venture from our glacial home for months on end because do so would mean risking life and limb, or at least a really bad head cold.

Chronic hat head and the need to layer robbed us of our fashion sense, so we grew up assuming that one cannot go wrong with flannel. Due to a congenital malformation of the tongue that has plagued generations of Wisconsinites, we are incapable of pronouncing the fricative "th", and so subsitute the plosives "d", (dere, dat, dah) or "t" (tirty, tree, tirty-tree)

Well that's just silly, isn't it?

Unbeknownst to me, these were some of the misconceptions that I faced when I journeyed South at the tender age of 18. I learned a lot that first year and after almost 20 years in the South, I'm still learning.

Despite the yawning chasm of cultural divergence, I married a Southern country boy. And though he had been succesfully citifed by the time I met him, his family remained firmly entrenched in their small town ways, antiquated attitudes, and stereotypical beliefs regarding those who hail from North of the Mason Dixon line.

It has made for some entertaining moments in our 13 years of marriage.

The first time I took my then fiancee, who had never been further north than Tennessee, home to Wisonsin was Christmas of 1992. They were having a brutal cold snap, with wind chills near 30 below zero. I, who had journeyed home a week before him, called to remind him to dress warmly. He assured me he would.

My parents and I went to pick him up at the small municipal airport, which did not have the luxury of jetways like the large international airport from which he had departed. We, along with many other families eagerly awaiting the yuletide return of widely scattered loved ones, watched as passengers deplaned and made their way to accross the tarmac. As my beloved appeared at the hatch dressed in a leather bomber jacket, a silk shirt, blue jeans and cowboy boots, two things happened.

First, the smile on his lips froze in place as the saliva on his exposed gums instantly crystallized, turning his boyish grin into an agonized rictus of disbelief.

Secondly, his testicles retreated into his abdominal cavity with such force and velocity that he was momentarily convinced that they had simply disintegrated in the savage cold; frozen solid and fragmented into tiny, sperm laden shards.

Everyone saw his reaction to the frigid conditions, and a collective exclamation of pity was heard, sort of like "Yeahhhoooooh." My Dad, though trying to amenable, could not resist muttering to my Mother "Doesn't that boy have any sense?"

Well, yes, he had plenty of sense, but he had Southern sense, not Northern sense. He simply had no frame of reference for judging cold of such bone piercing brutality. "Cold" in Georgia means throw on a jacket and you can always take it off if it's too much. Cold in Wisonsin means long underwear and Goretex, and a stadium blanket in the trunk in case its not enough.

I blamed myself for not explaining the difference between "stiff nipple" cold and "Sweet Mother of God I can't feel my butt cheeks" cold and specifying that we were dealing with the latter. But my Dad wasn't buying it. He grumbled sotto voce to my Mother, "It's cold, you put on a sweater for Chrissake."

Despite the rocky start, my husband and my family actually hit it off quite well, and the rest of the week went smoothly. My parents' annual New Year's Eve bash was my first opportunity to show him off to those outside the family. Being a pretty great guy, he made a good impression and scored big points by proving his willingness to laugh at himself; first when he complained that the beer sitting outside the back door would not be sufficiently cold for his taste and then again when it was revealed in a semi-drunken revelry that he knew all the words to David Allen Coe's "You Never Even Call Me By My Name".

He endured it all with good humor, but the first Thanksgiving with his family a month previous has proven just as harrowing for me, so he owed me one. After five years of spending my solitary Thanksgivings in front of the tv eating pumpkin flavored ice cream out of the carton, I was looking forward to a family Thanksgiving dinner. My mouth was watering at the thought of turkey and stuffing, and all the accompaniments. I chose a nice dry Chardonnay to bestow upon my future in-laws, hoping to make a good impression.

When we arrived, the kitchen was awash with aromas; some familiar, some decidedly alien. I spied several dishes that were unidentifiable to me, but, being gastronomically adventurous, I resolved to try everything. I hugged my future mother in law and handed her the bottle of wine. She thanked me graciously, then apologized for the lack of a corkscrew and placed the bottle on the uppermost shelf in her kitchen cabinet, next to a coffe can full of nuts and bolts, and a bedraggled plastic floral arrangement.

My fiancee whispered in my ear "Chattooga is a dry county, hon." Wha??? A dry county? I thought those were a myth, like tar paper shacks and people marrying their first cousin, both of which, I later found, were not in fact, myths. "Why didn't you TELL me?" I hissed back. He shrugged..."I thought you knew."

I momentarily considered asking for it back; it was a $40 bottle of Mer Soleil, after all. But I decided it would be in poor taste, so I resigned myself to drinking ice water with the meal. I couldn't help but cast one last longing glance at the lovely Chardonnay, which did not go unnoticed.

We settled in at the table whereupon I was given the dubious honor of saying Grace. I couldn't help but think it was test of some kind, though in reality, it was most likely just a kind gesture meant to made me feel welcome and included. Having already exposed myself as a raging alcoholic, I was reluctant to add Godless Heathen to the quickly lengthening list of shortcomings.

Nevertheless, I passed the buck to my fiance with as much diplomacy as I could, as my mealtime prayer repertoire had never evolved beyond "Rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub." The ease with which he channelled Jerry Falwell was slightly disconcerting, but I chose to overlook it in light of the fact that he had saved me from being branded a drunken impious wretch by people I would have had to spend the next 30 or 40 years sucking up to in an effort to convince them that I am not the devil's concubine and our children his imps.

At long last the food was served, and most of it seemed perfectly palatable. By and by, however, I was passed a Pyrex bowl filled with something that resembled kelp and smelled like feet. I looked up to find half a dozen pairs of eyes fixed upon me expectantly. My future father-in-law proudly pronounced, "Them's Collard Greens. Linda boils em with streaked (pronounced stree-ked) meat for flavor." "Is that so?" I replied. I did not know what streaked meat was, and I wasn't sure I wanted to. Reminding myself of my resolve to try everything, I enthusiastically placed a pulpy dab upon my plate.

I found myself repeating that reminder when I was handed a bowl of liquid the color and consistency of snot. I hesitated, uncertain of its exact purpose. My savior fiancee once again came to my rescue and informed me cheerily, "It's giblet (hard G, as in gross) gravy. You serve it over the cornbread dressing." Ah yes, the granular substance that was passed to me immediately preceding the snot. Gotcha.

I dipped the ladle into the viscous fluid, carefully avoiding the unindentifiable animal matter bobbing merrily on the surface, surmising that is was a pancreas or a gall bladder or some such thing. As the aroma wafted up from my plate my resolve weakened somewhat. But, I reasoned, I had swallowed plenty of snot over the course of my life, and since this was an actual foodstuff, it couldn't possibly be any worse. It turns out I was wrong.

Profoundly, tragically, egregiously wrong.

The lesson I learned that day is....don't put anything that smells like feet in your mouth, and there are things in this world that taste worse than snot.

To be fair, there were some truly delectible dishes on the table that day. My mother-in-law can make the lightest, flakiest, most succulent apple turnovers you have ever tasted in your life. They call them fried apple pies. I call them orgasmic. She can make biscuits of transcendant fluffiness, creamed taters that melt in your mouth, and fried chicken that defies description.

I've never mastered the art of frying chicken despite her patient instruction, and I definitely do not have the biscuit gene, so despite the initial shock of my first experience with collard greens and giblet gravy, I have to admit to her superiority in the kitchen.

Since that fateful day 13 years ago, we've struggled through many issues related to our cultural differences. Some, such as collard greens, were trivial, and easy to laugh at later. Some of the differences were deeper and harder to reconcile and some we still labor to overcome. But I've learned that my in-laws are good, kind, and generous people and that a lazy drawl can disguise a keen intellect and quick wit.

I still pine for home, of course. And no matter how many years I've been here, I still can't get into the Christmas spirit without snow or cope with the crushing humidity during the interminable summer.

But I've learned to appreciate the genteel charm, rich history, and easy hospitality of the South.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

So You Had A Bad Day

Yesterday, I did something that I haven't done in sixteen years.

I consider myself a pretty confident person. A strong person. I like to think of myself as a "tough nut", yannow? Fearless.

And still, it had me a lot more freaked out than I would have liked.

The thing? I went to apply for a job.

I spent the night beforehand writing a cover letter, gathering up relevant documents and making copies, and filling out the application that I downloaded from their website.

When I got to the part about previous employment, I was confronted by the fact that for the past 13 years, I have no defineable work history.

Have I worked? Shitchyea.

I have worked harder than at any job I have ever held.

I have been chauffer, social secretary, chef and menu planner, household manager, manual laborer and general handyman, laundress, medical care coordinator, risk management specialist and disaster recovery professional.

But none of that matters.

So I went online to get the address and phone number of my former employer (What? It's been THIRTEEN years.), only to find that the Branch agency of the National Financial Services company I worked for had closed. Ten years ago.

Prior to that I worked at a rather high profile law firm. My employment there only lasted six months and culminated in a little incident wherein I told the head partner that he was an insufferable ass and that he could take his docket and shove it right up his brief.

Then I walked out and never came back. I was so pissed off that I even left my insulated lunch bag and my favorite coffee mug behind.

Say, that reminds me of a little piece of wisdom I could pass along here. If you're ever tempted to apply for unemployment benefits from a law firm that specializes in employment and labor law...that would be a monumental waste of time.

Apparently, they don't consider asstastic bosses adquate reason for granting benefits, although, kindly, the attorney they sent to represent the firm at the mediation did tell me he's wanted to say that very thing to the head partner for 20 years.

So anyway, I hesitated to use them as a reference.

I tracked down a few of the agents I had worked with at the agency. They function as independant contractors, but are listed as affiliates in company related directories and any public relations material.

I selected a few I had been somewhat chummy with and hoped they would remember me.

I ran to Target for pantyhose. I haven't worn pantyhose in YEARS, literally, and I had no idea what size I needed. I took an educated guess based on the ubiquitous but entirely fallacious size chart on the back of the package.

I dragged a skirt out the depths of my closet, dusted off some high heeled boots I bought on clearance last season and then wore once because they hurt my feet, and laundered my best twinset.

Yes, I own a twinset. You wanna make something of it?

The following morning I had an ominous premonition of what my future could be like when I tried to get both boys and myself ready to head out the door.

At one point, I was standing in the kitchen in my very mom like underwear, with concealer ringing my eyes and and a barrel brush tangled in my hair, screeching at both of them to turn off the television and go brush their teeth.

They looked at one another, and Pre-Pubescent One cocked one brow at Diminutive One. WTF? Diminutive One shrugged almost impreceptibly in response. Beats me bro. Pre-Pubescent One inclined his head sideways. We should probably do it before her head explodes or something. Diminutive One gave a single nod. I'm with you Dude.

"Okay Mom, chill, we're going. Just ummm, go get dressed. Everything is cool."

Shortly after that I discovered that the pantyhose I bought were in fact, one size too small. No matter how vigorously I did the pantyhose dance, they were not going to clear my upper thigh bulges. I was left with about an inch of nylon suspended tautly between my legs. These babies would be no defense against chub rub, but they would have to do.

My lack of foresight in the matter of ill fitting panytyhose would come to bear later in the day. But for now, it seemed the only real problem was my somewhat shortened stride. Between the heels and the nylon holding my thighs in a stranglehold, I was forced to mince. I told myself it was ladylike and thought no more about it.

Miraculously, I got Pre-Pubescent One to school and Diminutive One to the doctor on time. After I dropped Diminutive One off at school, I headed to the library to turn in my applications. I was going to two different branches, each one having a different position available.

The woman at the front desk was very friendly. She took my application and explained that the manager wasn't in at presesnt, but she would make sure she got the application.

"Okay, thank you. Could you just tell her that there is documentation attached that should serve as proof of employment at my last job?? It's been thirteen years, you see and the branch has closed and I realized I had nobody to verify employment and so I attached those certificates to prove that I worked there. And then I realized that they're in my maiden name? So I also attached a copy of my marriage certificate. I couldn't find my social security card, so I attached a copy of my driver's license as well. Do you think that will be adequate?"

She looked at me kindly.

"Hon, I know how you feel. I was so terrified when I went back to work after staying home with my kids. But I'm sure everything is in order. And I'll tell her how nice you look."

It was then that the sausage casing holding my belly flab in stasis flipped over with an audible snap and rolled down to mid thigh with terrifying swiftness. I stood there with a smile frozen on my face, wondering if I could get to the bathroom before they rolled clear down to my boot tops.

"Er, yes, thank you." I said tersely.

I pranced to the bathroom as inconspicuously as I could, clenching my thighs together in a desperate attempt to trap the nylon between them and prevent it from descending further, and with it, my dignity.

Alas, lady luck had decided to abandon me. As I approached, I saw that a bright yellow ribbon which said "Closed for maintenance" had been hung accross the doorframe.

I said a very bad word and seriously considered going into the men's room. There weren't a great many men in the library that I had noticed, and it would only take a moment for me to tear the wretched garment off my person. But, I reasoned, it wouldn't do for a potential employee to be found in the men's room disrobing.

So I hobbled to my car, where I then faced the dilemma of how to bend over and remove my boots without baring my behind, which was now covered only by my skirt and my threadbare cotton underpants, to the patrons of the neighboring YMCA who cycled and strode vigorously in front of an enormous window, providing a panoramic view of yours truly in all her humiliation.

I decided it would be best dealt with in the privacy of my own home, so I simply slid into the van and closed the door with a sigh of relief.

Turns out that decision was not well thought out either.

As I drove, the pantyhose crept ever lower, until they were just below my knees. They would have rolled all the way to my ankles if I hadn't been wearing boots. It's very difficult to drive when one's lower legs are bound together by industrial stength nylon.

In a herky jerky fashion, I sallied forth, hoping like hell I wouldn't get stopped and asked to get out of the car for a sobriety test. "Please Officer, could I remove my pantyhose first?"

I could just imagine the guffaws as the officer recounted the story for his squadmates later on.

"Whadjou tell her Carl? Why Certainly ma'am, but I have to advise you that removing your pantyhose is not likely to lower your blood alcholol level."?

"No, no...he said, Ma'am, it's against policy for an officer of the law to accept sexual favors."

"HA! Carl should be so lucky. He ain't likely to get an offer like that before he retires!!"


Luckily, I made it home without further incident.

When I at last made it into the house, I sat down on the floor just inside the front door like a kindergartener in the coat room, and pulled off my boots. Then I extricated myself from the diabolical pantyhose prison in which I had unwittingly placed myself. I plucked the hateful things off the floor and stuffed them savagely into the garbage can.

I was done in. turns out that both positions had already been filled. But that's okay. I took the hardest step of putting myself out there again. It was nervewracking, but it also felt good.

I can still do it. And I will find something.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Mystery of Imagination

I've been a mother for almost 13 years.

I've been frequenting parenting sites, boards, and blogs for more of them than I’d like to admit. I've fought in the Mommy wars. I have even, in desperation, attended various neighborhood playgroups.

I've heard every parenting issue under the sun debated, dissected, analyzed, rationalized and vilified. It has provoked thought on matters I might not have otherwise considered.

Sometimes that's been a good thing, others, not so much.

I have expended a lot of time and effort defending an opinion or a point of view that seemed terribly important at the time, but that really didn't amount to a hill of beans once my kids left toddlerhood behind.

But you know what you don't hear much about anymore?

Imaginary friends.

When I was about 6, I had an imaginary friend named Luis. I think he was inspired by Luis from Sesame Street, upon whom I had a fairly serious crush. My sister's imaginary friend was Casper.

My parents tell many stories of how they had to accommodate the needs and wishes of Casper and Luis. I think Luis just sort of faded away once Jamie Tookshure came into my life. Luis just couldn't compete with a living breathing boy who had amazing Leif Garret like hair.

Unfortunately, my sister's parting from Casper was not quite so amicable. In her attempts to exorcise poor Casper, he somehow became a malevolent presence. She had terrible nightmares and spent her waking hours jumping at shadows.

My father tells of how, one evening, he gave Casper a very stern talking to. He'd had enough, he told Casper. If Casper could not behave kindly and respectfully he would have to leave our home. And so, my father packed him a bag and ushered him out the door with a firm handshake to demonstrate there were no hard feelings.

And that was the end of him.

Husband also had an imaginary friend. His name was Bill Wilson. Bill Wilson was sort of the town rogue; but he was a lovable scamp rather than a hardened criminal. However, he did burn down the jail house in order to escape, which of course, did not endear him to the noble townsfolk. As you can imagine, poor Bill Wilson was the fall guy for a lot of Husband's foibles.

My children don't have imaginary friends.

They are both very imaginative children, so I have wondered about it a time or two. Why, when Husband and I both had imaginary friends, wouldn't our children have that same tendency?

I've come to the conclusion that they just don't need an imaginary friend.


Because they are fed a steady stream of imagery, ready made adventure, fantasy and fiction. At virtually any time of the day or night, they can plug in, turn on, or tune in. They can upload, download, network and interface. There are entire networks dedicated to entertaining and anaesthetizing our children. An entire industry revolves around pandering to every playful or pleasureable impulse from birth to adolescence.

This past week when I was volunteering for Science Day at Diminutive One's school, I was really struck by the lack of imagination that some of the kids demonstrated.

During one activity, the children first made existing constellations with styrofoam cups and flashlights. They were then instructed to think of their own original constellation and write a story of how their subject ended up in the night sky.

I was amazed and disheartened at how many of the children really struggled with that.

"I can't think of anything." said one.

"This is too hard!" whined another.

"You tell me what to." they implored.

"What do you like to do? What do you like to learn about? What do you like to dream about, think about, read about?" I asked them.

They would shrug or look at me blankly. They simply had no idea how to reach inside their minds, pull out an idea and breathe life into it.

One child, when asked, told me he liked football. His constellation was in the shape of…a football. His story consisted of one sentence: "I kicked it."

My kids are very imaginative, so it's odd for me to encounter a child that doesn't have that spark of creativity and whimsy.

Perhaps I'm not being fair. Nobody really knows where imagination comes from after all. Is it learned or is it innate? If it is innate, can it atrophy, shrivel and die, like muscles that lie impotent and unmoving? If it is learned, can it be unlearned if not constantly exercised?

Perhaps my children are imaginative not because of anything that I did, but because it's just in their genes. Maybe another child lacks imagination not because of something their parents didn't do, but simply because it is not part of their DNA. Maybe you can't teach a literal minded realist to indulge in flights of fancy.

Whatever the case...I find it puzzling and sad when a child can't imagine.

But since we don't know...there's a chance that it is something we can give them. There's a chance that we can infuse their minds with imagination, just as we infuse their blood with beneficent antibodies.

With that in mind, shouldn't we treat every child as if they are inherently capable of imagining?

In order to do that, then we certainly need to stop spoon feeding them.

But it's more than that.

When we were kids, there was time to gaze up into the sky and imagine shapes in the clouds. There was time to create fabulous structures and go on fantastic adventures.

Kids these days just don't have that luxury.

We need to give back to our children the time, the facility, and most of all, the motivation to imagine.

I don't think it's too late to raise a generation of stargazers and cloud watchers and swashbucklers and fairy princesses.

I'd sure like to try.

Wouldn't you?

Saturday, November 17, 2007


I don't know how working Moms do it. I really don't.

I've been a stay at home Mom for 13 years. When the boys were small, I loved being home with them. My job then was parenting, which was something I enjoyed, something I felt confident in my ability to do well, and something that gave me a lot of satisfaction.

As you know, my Diminutive One was a very challenging infant and toddler, so when he started kindergarten, I danced a little jig and reveled in the sheer hedonism of finally having some time alone. Some time for meeeeeeeeeeeeee.

For a year or two, it was great. But pretty soon, it began to get old.

And now, I find myself at a crossroads of sorts. I don't want to be home anymore. It's boring. I don't particularly enjoy housework or cooking. I feel like my brain is dying a slow death from intellectual starvation. I am depressed by the lack of anything interesting to look forward to each day.

Basically, I feel like a glorified workhorse and it is making me very resentful and sullen. I am not enjoying my life right now.

I think a sense of purpose is a fundamental element to personal fulfillment. It is something that I currently lack.

So I need a job for those reasons, but there is also the issue of money.

My husband makes a very good living. When the boys were small, it really wasn't hard to make ends meet on one salary.

They didn't know they were wearing clothes from Wal-Mart and they wouldn't have cared if they did. They didn't know their toys came from Big Lots. They didn't know that they were eating off brand snack crackers or wearing generic diapers.

Sure we sacrificed, but we believed in what we were doing. To us, the sacrifices were small and the rewards were great.

Most of the time, we do just fine. We're luckier than a lot of Americans. But it's getting harder and harder as the boys get older. If you thought diapers and formula were expensive...just wait.

We have one in braces and the other needs them soon as well. That's ten thousand dollars worth of orthodontia folks. Both take expensive medications. Diminutive One sees a therapist weekly.

There are dentist and doctor visits. And we can no longer make do with buzzing their hair in the kitchen with a barber's clippers. It costs a lot of money to look like Zac Efron. In that respect, I thank my lucky stars that I don't have any girls. I must have cost my parents a fortune in hairspray alone.

There are sports and enrichment activities, which both husband and I consider essential. Pre-Pubescent One plays All Star baseball every summer and Diminutive One takes theatre classes. Ideally, I would like each of them to learn to play an instrument as well.

I strongly believe in raising well rounded children. I want them to do all the things I longed to do when I was a child. If they want to try it, I want to be able to let them.

I had no brothers growing up, so I had no idea how much boys eat. Fresh produce and wholesome nutritious snacks are ridiculously expensive. Between the two of them, they can decimate a week's supply of fresh fruit in days.

Pre-Pubescent One now wears men's sizes, so the cost of shoes and clothing has doubled. You can't buy a pair of shoes for the kids for less than $50 and that's for the cheapest of the cheap. The shoes he really covets, but which he was refused on the basis that it is ridiculous to spend that kind of money on shoes for a 13 year old boy whose size literally, changes weekly, are $130 Nike Shoxx.

In addition, he will be driving in TWO YEARS. Do you have any idea how much it costs to insure an adolescent male?? It's un. believable. Diminutive One will be joining him in a scant two years, and then we will be insuring two young male drivers.

I don't even want to talk about college. We have small mutual funds for each of the boys, but the cost of higher education is skyrocketing and it just won't be enough.

I used to scoff derisively at women who worked just to have things. My sister in law works only to afford hair, nails and designer clothing. I still don't hold with that. I don't believe in conspicious consumption or rampant consumerism. But the honest truth is...I'm tired of never having money for things.

So I've been thinking a lot about going back to work. After 13 years as my own boss, it's a prospect that is both terrifying and thrilling. But it's the juggling of every day stuff that really has me worried.

Diminutive One gets on the bus at 7:05 each morning, Pre-Pubescent One, 8:45. Diminutive One gets home at 2:30 pm, Pre-Pubescent One, 4:45. There is homework to supervise, chauffering to be done.

And what happens when the kids get sick? What about school holidays? What about early release days? Doctor, dentist, therapy and orthodontist visits?

Diminutive One is not old enough to be left home alone in the afternoons and Pre-Pubescent One is too distractible to get himself out the door on time in the mornings. They can't walk to and from school if they miss the bus. We have NO family who could help us out in that regard. We have nobody to be on standby in case of an emergency.

How in the world do I find a job that will accomodate such a crazy way of life?

Any job that would fit our lifestyle would not be something I would be happy doing. I've done retail, I've done food service, I've done production and manual labor. I'm past the point in my life when I'm willing to do mindless drudgework for substandard pay.

I would like a real job. A nine to five pantyhose wearing doing business lunch thinking for myself grown up type of job. But the logistics just don't work. Even that kind of job would present daunting challenges. And I wonder if it would really be as satisfying as I need it to be.

Realistically, I'm not the kind of person to be satisfied with an ordinary job. I need to feel passion and love for what I do.

So I'm stuck. And I suspect I'm not the only Mom to find herself in this position.

I don't for a moment regret giving up my job to stay at home with my children. I just wish that I had had a little more foresight about what to do when the mothering gig became a part time thing. Someday, they will be gone and my motherhood status will be token only. I need to start thinking about that eventuality.

It's not easy to carve out an identity seperate from that of "mother". It's hard to think about being and doing everything. It's hard to give up, but it's harder to get back.

Sometimes, I wish I had been indoctrinated with the belief that my role, my duty, my destiny...was to take care of my house and my children. Sometimes I wish I had been taught that it's all I need to be fulfilled and happy.

I wrote not long ago about loving the fifties and longing for it's simplicity, but the truth of the matter is, I would have been really, really terrible at being a woman back then.

So what is the point of this admittedly whiny and self-indulgent post? I've said it before, but it bears repeating. Stay home with your children if it's what you feel is right. Don't apologize, dont justify.

But keep a piece of yourself for the future. Feed it. Nurture it. Protect the sanctity and satisfaction of your mind, as you would the children who have issued from your body.

It's a difficult lesson to learn when it's already almost to late.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Rambling Friday Randomness

1. Even after living here 20 years, I still can't help laughing at the way Southerners react when the temperature plunges beneath the ole 60 degree mark.

Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous fall day; the kind that are all too few here in the land of eternal summer. It was about 52 degrees and the wind was a little brisk, but the sun was shining brightly. I couldn't wait to get home and go for my walk.

On the way home from the school, I saw a woman walking a dog. She had on a down vest, some sort of fleece thing underneath it and a turtleneck under that, a hat, gloves and a freaking muffler.

A muffler, people. Where I come from, you don't put on a muffler unless you're planning to go ice fishing or you know...enter the Iditarod.

I was wearing a tank top under a lightweight cardigan, jeans and tennis shoes. I was perfectly comfortable. That woman had to have been roasting alive under all that clothing.

And yet, they don't take construct their homes to withstand the brutal minus 60 conditions that persist throughout the Southern winters. You could catch pneumonia standing next to my fireplace.

2. One year ago I had Lasik surgery.

I really can't believe it's been a year and sometimes, I still can't believe that I actually did it. I am such a pussy about procedures of any kind.

I had my gall bladder taken out five years ago and you would have though I was undergoing a heart translplant the way I carried on. They gave me enough valium to put Andre The Giant in la-la land for a nice long time and still I was trembling uncontrollably right up until they put the mask over my face.

Well, maybe some of that was because I was naked (seriously, is this necessary? Can we at least be allowed the dignity of underpants?).

I felt a little sheepish when I woke up 40 minutes later with three teensy weensy little incisions and feeling, for all intents and purposes, none the worse for the experience.

And yet, I voluntarily sat under a big honkin' machine, allowed a doctor to tape my eyelids open, suck my eyeball into an aperature, slice through my cornea, and then laser it.

I would do it again in a New York minute.

It has been a true miracle for me. If any of you have vision as poor as mine was(Jozet over at Halushki described it very well in this very funny post) you can probably appreciate the truth of that statement. Those of you with perfect vision never will.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did have a slight complication. I have struggled with chronic dry eye since the procedure. I was forewarned of this risk, and chose to go forward. And I'm glad I did. I have to use Restasis twice a day, but it manages my symptoms very well.

It's possible I will be able to stop using the drops at some point. The eyes continue to heal for up to five years after surgery. Already I can tell that the dryness is improving.

Normally, if I miss a dose or two, I am running for the artificial tears because it feels as if the cat licked my eyeballs. But lately I've noticed that I can miss a couple days without dire consequences.

Despite that, it is still a hundred thousand million kajillion times better than screwing around with glasses and conctacts.

If you're thinking about doing it, all I can tell you is that I wish I had done it twenty years ago. Well, maybe not because there was that thing with eyeballs sectioning apart like oranges after RK, so maybe ten years ago.

3. I've been doing a lot of ebay shopping lately.

Pre-Pubescent One's sudden lust for brand names is drastically at odds with our one income situation. For some reason, it bugs the living snot out of me when people have common words misspelled in their auctions.

HEELS, people, not heals. SEQUINS, not sequence. SANDALS, not sandles.

Why in the world would a person not spellcheck an auction listing for heaven's sake? Perhaps the reason it bothers me so much is that is bespeaks a certain apathy and laziness with which our society seems to be gripped these days.

Or maybe it's just that I enjoy the feeling of superiority that sneering at their ineptitude gives me. It's not impossible. I can admit that. I am nothing if not self-actualized.

4. And finally, I just have to say that migraines suck big hairy donkey balls.

I have had them from the age of 12 or 13, with a brief respite during my childbearing years.

I've tried a lot of different medications over the years, with little success. Frustrated, I gave up on meds altogether. For a long time, I've simply made do using a variety of coping mechanisms such as an ice pack to the back of my head, lying down in a dark, cold room, and OTC meds containing caffeine.

But lately, they have become more severe and more frequent. I suspect it's hormonal, since I am reaching that magical stage in a woman's life when everything in my body is thrown into chaos by declining estrogen. Chin hairs are the least of my problems girls.

So I've been working with my family practitioner to investigate various therapies. Because I have a history of high blood pressure brought on by Pre-Eclampsia in my second pregnancy, I can't take the magic pill. For me, Imitrex or any other drug in it's class (Triptans) carry an unacceptably high risk of stroke. Great.

Recently, I was prescribed a beta blocker, which works several different ways to combat migraines. It can be used as both preventative and abortificant. Unfortunately, it doesn't work for me in either respect.

It also makes me very nauseous, dizzy and again, sluggish. And as a bonus, after three days, I developed an itchy rash all over my body that made me want to crawl right out of my skin.

I got some pain killers, but I asked for non-narcotic pain reliever since I do not react well to narcotics. I get terribly nauseated and sometimes hallucinate. So my doctor prescribed something called Phrenalyn Forte, which is a mega dose of Acetaminophen and a muscle relaxer.

It works GREAT for menstrual cramps. Migaines? Not so much.

This past weekend I suffered the mother of all migraines. I was in bed for 72 hours and I had every symptom I have ever suffered and then some. I was ready to go the emergency room, which I have never, ever done, when it finally abated. For about 8 hours. Then I relapsed for another 12 hours.

I can't continue like that, obviously. My husband, who NEVER gets headaches, was convinced I had an aneurysm just moments from rupture, or something equally sinister.

In researching different therapies, I have been doing a lot of reading about the effects of Botox on migraines. I am actually considering trying it, which goes against every ounce of common sense I posess.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. And I am getting desperate.

Plus, you know...I could do without those two big forehead wrinkles. Hey...just because my interest in Botox is strictly clinical does not mean I can't appreciate the aesthetic advantages as well.

If I'm going to have to suffer these motherflucking migraines I'm for damn sure going to find that silver lining and exploit it for all it's worth.

I think that's all I needed to get off my chest. Aren't you glad you stopped by today?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Just Read It....K?

Forgive my rather uninspired title.

I spent the entire day at the elementary school for the annual Science Day. It's a tradition that the kids love because it's a fun change of pace. It's terribly exciting, and most of all, interactive. It's a way for them to experience learning, rather than having it force fed to them.

Since this is a schoolwide event, it's a HUGE undertaking. Huge. And spending the day with 23 4th graders is always an enlightening experience. I invariably come away from events like these with my respect and admiration for teachers firmly in place.

I am truly humbled by people who can do that day in and day out without having a nervous breakdown. I only did it for six hours, and I am reeling.

So, as you can imagine, on a day like today, I hit the motherlode for blog fodder. I could write from now until the New Year and still not say everything I want to say about education, kids, teachers and parents.

But I am exhausted. Happily exhausted, but exhausted all the same. I am exhausted in body and spirit.

So, because I currently lack the mental fortitude to craft a meaningful and coherent post on one of the many topics whirling around my fevered brain, and because, I still have to go to the grocery store and figure out what the hell I'm going to feed my family for supper (so mundane and unglamorous this motherhood gig)....I'm going to repost something I wrote last year when we took our Science Day show on the road, to an elementary school in a much different socio economic class from ours.

The piece is called "No Hablas Engles". I thought of Marta today. I wonder if the year has been kind to her. I can empathize with feeling like a fish out of water and I can't help but wonder if she has been able to find some measure of familiarity in the place she now calls home

No Hablas Engles

Friday, a platoon of suburban Moms took our elementary school Science Day exhibits on the road. We are Partners In Education with another school in a working class neighborhood, where the socio-economic status ranges from abject poverty to the comparitively comfortable lower middle class.

These children come from homes where parents work long hours at minimum wage jobs doing back breaking labor. Volunteerism is low, and enrichment programs that my kids take for granted are simply not possible at a school like this.

We set off full of altruistic vigor and self righteous do-goodism.

The school was very old, but well tended. The greenery outside was painstakingly groomed and the playground equipment had been freshly painted. The halls were cheerily adorned with all the things one would normally expect to find on the walls of an elementary school. But these embellishments could not hide the water stained ceiling tiles, or the cracks that marred the cinder block walls, or the worn linoleum underfoot.

Still the sounds of children laughing rang through the halls and the staff seemed good humored and friendly. They were touchingly and somewhat embarassingly thankful that we had come with our simple little production.

When I reached the room in which I would be peforming my experiment, I was shocked to learn we would be dealing with classes of forty children at a time. Forty. To put this in perspective, my youngest son's class has 22 children, and I complained loudly about the increase from 18 the previous year.

I settled down on the floor in the hallway, waiting for the "Animal Lives" presentation to conclude so my group could set up the "Simple Machines" exhibit. I chatted idly to another Mom and we commented to one another about the differences between this school and the one our own children attended.

As we looked around, it was easy to see that the student body was made up largely of minorities. I heard snatches of conversation in no less than five different languages. I saw children in every color of the rainbow, and they were inexpressibly beautiful to me.

After a while, the other mom left to get a beverage from the hospitality room that had been set up for us. I was alone. I looked around, enjoying the happy chaos that pervaded the atmoshphere.

After a moment, a little girl came bursting out of one of the classrooms. She was Mexican, with long, lustrous black hair and dancing gold hoops in her hears. She wore a leopardprint tracksuit with a bright yellow tshirt underneath and pink clogs. She was sobbing in big, hiccoughing gasps. Her plump little shoulders hitched up and down.

I was vaguely alarmed by the intensity of her upset. I approached her and asked what was wrong. She did not answer, but sobbed even harder.

"Are you sick, sweetheart?"

She looked up at me, her huge jet black eyes swimming with tears and wailed,

"Yo no hablas Englay-ay-ay-ays!!!"

I pantomimed a stomachache, and she shook her head. She repeated,

"No hablas ENGLES!"

I tried again.

"Are you hurt?"

I pantomimed stubbing my toe, hopping up and down, and she giggled a little through her tears. But she shook her head again and told me once more that she didn't speak English. I was puzzled. Surely my pantomimes demonstrated my understanding that she couldn't speak English. Why did she keep repeating it?

And then it occurred to me. No hablas Engles WAS the problem. She was crying because she couldn't speak English.

"Ohhhhhhhhhhhh." I said. "No Hablas Engles." And then I pretended I was crying.

"Si." she said dejectedly, and hung her little head so that her hair hid her face and her tears.

I hadn't the words to tell her how sorry I was that she was scared and feeling so alone, so I did the only thing I could think to do...I hugged her. An embrace is the language of motherhood I suppose; a universal gesture of comfort. She melted into me and sobbed her little heart out. When she was finished, I pulled a crumpled kleenex from my purse and dried her tears.

A voice startled us and we both jumped like frightened little bunnies.

"Marta! You scared me to death! You can't run off like that sweetie!"

I looked up to see an obviously unsettled woman whose t-shirt identified her as staff. All the adults had worn t-shirts so we could tell one another apart. Ours were bright green ones emblazoned with our school name, theirs were gray. This was her teacher, apparently.

I was a little irritated. How long had it taken her to realize the child was gone? But I tried to tell myself that one person in charge of 40 children can only do so much. Two eyes and 40 kids does not make for ideal supervision.

"She was crying." I said, unnecessarily.

The teacher nodded grimly.

"She's new. It's always hard for them at first."

"Is there no translator here?" I asked.

She shook her head, grimness again distorting her pretty young face.

"She quit a month ago. They haven't sent anyone else."

"What about another child to help her?"

She sighed and said,

"Half of them don't speak enough English to really help. The other half are doing all they can to get through their own work. It's tough."

My irritation toward her vanished. It was obvious that she was doing the best she could in a bad situation. She took Marta gently by the shoulders to lead her back to the classroom.

Marta turned back to look at me and said "Adios Senora neeza." (I think)

Unsure of what she had said, I simply waved a little wave and smiled. She smiled back.

Shortly after that it was our turn to perform. I was stationed at an exhibit with a fulcrum and a lever. Each child was to try lifting the load with the fulcrum at different positions. They were extraordinarily excited by the simple experiment. Their enthusiasm and earnestness touched me.

One child asked me where I came from, and I told him. He said that he had never heard of that town, and mused that it must be very far away.

How do you explain to a child that literally, my town is only a few miles away, but figuratively, it might as well me Mars?

As we reached the end of our visit, I heard another child remark,

"I wish school could be like this EVERY day!"

Oh God, me too, kid. Me too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Twilight Hearts

Diminutive One, as I've mentioned before, is a writer.

He is bursting with stories and poems and epics and tall tales. As young as he is, it's clear that he has a gift for language, imagery, prose and story telling, though he is still a little clumsy with the words he so adores.

And he longs to be a good writer. He longs to know the all the secrets of the craft and to improve his skills. He asks to read things I have written and seeks to emulate.

He often asks me how to improve a phrase, to make it richer and more evocative. He asks me for synonyms so often that I finally, with exasperation and gratification in equal measure, showed him

He was stunned and delighted, and spent the next hour looking up words and making notes. It is now bookmarked on his creaking prehistoric computer, that is not good for anything much other than storing the torrent of creativity and emotion that spills from him.

So I know this about him. And still, on occasion, he manages to catch me completely by surprise.

He wrote this poem the other day, and without a word to anybody, hung it on the refrigerator, waiting anxiously, and I think, fearfully, for someone to notice it.

Twilight Hearts by Diminutive One

The twilight off on a moonlit breeze
Shines on a perfect flower
Anonymously cluttering my hands to perfection
It shines on the girl of my love
breaking my heart
Two flowers to choose from
I choose the one that smells of the most luxurious rose petal
My wish to spend all eternity in your lovely, delightful presence.

Is it me? Don't you just want to sob? He is nine, people. Jesus, isn't that too young for a broken heart? Isn't that too young to have pain so great that it needs to be written down, purged, exorcised from his aching soul?


He has a poet's heart, and that I fear, will lead to it being broken many more times before he finds the girl of his dreams; the girl worthy of his twilight heart and petal laden caresses. I hate to think of him hurting, pining, hungering.

That kid...that kid is going to do all the things I never did myself. He is going to be a great writer someday. People will say his name with reverence and awe. He will be a mentor and a role model.

Perhaps he will win a nobel prize for literature. And when he does, I will bring out these carefully pressed pieces of his tender, budding self to show him.

"You see?" I will say to him. "It was always there, and I always knew."

Goddamn I'm proud of that kid.

Monday, November 12, 2007

An Affair to Remember

I have to confess to an illicit love affair. The object of my desire is not a human being, for no mere man could inspire such profound devotion. love affair is with the past. Specifically, the fifties. Sometimes I want desperately to step back in time and become part of that elegant era.

It just seems as if it was an infinitely more civilized time though of course, intellectually, I know that we have made huge strides since then in terms of human rights, equal opportunity, and a multitude of other social issues.

I guess, realistically, the fifites of which I enamored is the one which has been portrayed by Hollywood, where the woman are all elegant and the men debonair.

Ohhhhhh, I want to be Deborah Kerr and I want to have a shipboard romance with Cary Grant. And I want to visit his Janu in Nice and inherit her beautiful lace mantilla.

The paralyzation thing I can do without.

So maybe, I will be Deborah Kerr as a prim young schoolmarm who falls in love with Yul Brynner and dances with him in a lush garden while wearing an immense gown of satin and lace.


Back then yhey wore white gloves and aprons; bowler hats and slender black ties. They said "good day" to one another and they addressed one another as Mr. and Mrs. or Sir and Madame. People beleived in courtesy and respect. They believed in ladies first and giving up their seat to the elderly. They went to church and they dressed for dinner.

Things from the fifties were built to last. It was not a mentality of disposability that era. From cars to furniture to evening gowns, all of it was meant to withstand the ravages of time.

How can I possibly feel nostalgiac for an era before I was even born? It seems silly, but I am.

I want to put on a day dress and do my housework in heels. I want to go to the market in white gloves and a pill box hat. I want my husband to look dapper in his grey serge suit and his sleek crew cut. I want him to mow the lawn in pleated pants. I want to get dressed up to go the movies. I want to bake cakes from scratch in a turquoise kitchen. I want to go for Sunday drives in a big gleaming car made of metal and chrome. I want to get my hair done every week and go to bed with Pond's cold cream on my face.

As daydreams go, it's fairly impractical. And I know that the fifties ideal of my daydreams was not a reality.

But still, it's a romance I'm powerless to put an end to. I cannot bring msyelf to break up with this bygone paramour.

So I collect 50's ephemera with a passion. I have hats and aprons and vanity items and cards and dresses and shoes and ordinary household items. I have books and china and christmas ornaments and tableware. I have bed linens, handkerchiefs and tablecloths.

I love them all and I actually use quite a few of them. When I do, I feel that I have a connection to this coveted past, this make believe used to be, this wish I was then.

Sometimes, life now strikes me as terribly tawdry. Dirty and cheap and poorly constructed. Our homes are built hastily out of laminate and particleboard. Our belongings are made of resin and plastic. They are not beautiful, there is no pride in their making. There is no mastery in the creation of these objects. They are utilitarian and cost effective. They are cheap and ugly.

And oh....the people we have become. People who go to the grocery store in sweat pants and tank tops with our bodies on display. People who are unkempt and unclean. I grow weary of seeing these indiffirent dispirited people day in and day out. I grow weary of the apathy that seems to afflict rich and poor alike.

Where has our pride gone? Why have we allowed our lives to be littered with cheap things from faraway lands that poison our children and ourselves? Why do we allow others to see us in public as our private selves? We don't need to show the world our uncombed hair and our sleep wrinkled faces. Why do we?

Maybe my love of the past really has to do with dissatisfaction with my present.

Maybe my perspective has changed, now that I am older, and I see all the faults where before there was only that special brand of youthful magic.

Maybe then, it is not the past that I love so much, but the ignorance of my youth that I miss so deeply. I want the world to seem perfect and elegant again.

I wonder if it ever will, or if it just grows uglier with the truth that each new day brings.

Yeah. Maudlin much B.A?

I need some high heels and a frilly apron, stat.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Happy Is As Happy Does

Ugh. I am having poster's remorse, as I usually do when I have a public pity party. It's really not my style, but occasionally, the urge to whine overwhelms me. I humbly beg your pardon.

So let's move on. I need to think about happy things. You know what makes me happy? Color. I adore color. Taupe is my nemesis.

I have a friend who has done her entire home in neutral tones. It makes me want to stick a fork in my eye. It's so blaaaaaaaaaaaaaand.

Recently she bought a new comforter for her bedroom. It's cabbage roses on a dark beige background, which sounds really kitschy, but it's actually very nice. It's some type of fabric with a slight sheen to it. I like the lustre.

She asked me to help her shop for paint, which is silly, because she knew I would choose deep vibrant colors. And she knew that she would still end up painting it some boring earth tone. Sure enough, she chose chip after chip in tones of beige, taupe and mud, while I was attracted to the pink, the green, and the rose hues.

I implored her to use some color. Her bedroom has a vaulted ceiling and can handle it. She agreed that her home could use some color and said she would consider it.

She painted it taupe.


I have a dream home completely constructed, furnished and decorated in my mind. In my dream home is my dream room. It is a medium sized room with large, long windows on two sides that let in the afternoon sun. On one wall is a large fireplace. It is not brick or marble, rather but dark, rich wood that is carved with wonderful whorling shapes. It is oiled with something that smells of lemon, and gleams richly.

Above the fireplace hangs this picture:

She is Flaming June and everything about her makes me happy. I've written about her previously, and my fondness for her only grows deeper with time.

The walls are painted a vibrant orange. But not the orange of organges. It is the orange of flames. The orange of sunsets. The orange of of autumn leaves. It is the color of warmth and contentment.

The walls are lines with bookshelves upon which are all my beloved books. My birth books, poetry books, writing books, wine books, art books, gardening books, decorating books. And of course there are scads and scads of delicious fiction, most of which I cannot bear to part with.

In one corner there is a big, overstuffed chair with an ottoman. Beside the chair is a sturdy but attactive table upon which to pile the periodicals I devour like candy; Writer's Digest, Time, Newsweek. And yes, there is some not so highbrow reading material as well; InStyle, Cosmo, Good Housekeeping.

Behind the chair is a leaded glass Tiffany floorlamp (because in my dreams I can afford one) that lights the pages I read.

The floor is hardwood, but upon it is a thick and beautiful rug in shades of forest and umber. It makes me think of faraway places, where men are dark and women are sultry. There are plants in terracotta pots (because in my dreams, I can actually keep them alive) and framed photographs on the walls.

Best of all, there are no smelly sneakers, sports equipment or legos littering the floor. There are no cartoons blaring. It is a no bickering, farting, burping or armpit pumping zone. It's a no I'm telling, you started it did not did too zone.


Now that makes me happy.

Friday, November 09, 2007


I hate where I live. No. I loathe where I live.

Aside from the fact that I am a fish out of water in every sense of the word, and that I simply cannot abide the interminable summers where heat and humidity and bugs make us captive inside our homes for 6 months out of the year, I hate how we live.

We live on the outskirts of Atlanta in a modest suburban enclave. Our home is a nondescript crackerbox that lacks grace and character. There are no sidewalks in my neighborhood. No. Sidewalks. Who ever heard of a neighborhood with no sidewalks?

The subdivision is bordered on three sides by very busy roads; roads that seperate the residential from the commercial. My children cannot walk or bike anywhere, nor can I. We are completely dependant upon our car for even the smallest errand.

There is no life in this neighborhood. I can go days without seeing actual people, though of course they are here.

I am isolated and alone during the day. If I want to encounter living breathing human beings, I have to avail myself of contrived and superficial social gatherings...the very kind of thing that I avoid at all costs.

Husband's commute takes an hour on good days, through snarling traffic and surly drivers and belching exhaust. Last night, he made the fatal mistake of leaving at 4:00 instead of his usual time, 3:30, and it took him a full 90 minutes from door to door. He works only 30 miles from our home.

I am unhappy. Terribly, profoundly, inextricably, unhappy.

I long for the simplicity of the small-ish town where I grew up. We walked to school and when we were old enough, we biked. We walked to the park, the library, the corner candy store that is still there and where my sister still walks with her children for a special treat.

The summers are brief but glorious, the fall crisp and satisfying, the winters, yes, long, but not nearly as long as the scorching southern summers. And spring's like rebirth when the winter looses its icy grip.

There are no venomous reptiles, or alligators or scorpions or cockroaches the size of small rodents.

My children are growing up in this vast metropolitan cesspool and I hate it. They are growing up in a land of intolerance and bigotry and I hate it. They are growing up to value things and judge people by the face they show to the world and I hate it.

I hate that they see my parents once a year, twice if they're lucky. I am profoundly resentful that the grandparents who can see them whenever they please, rarely do.

I hate that since they were born, I have been on my own.

I hate that they don't know their cousins. I hate the they don't know what a wonderful person my Auntie Carol is, or get the benefit of her particular brand of grandmotherly attention.

I hate that they don't know anything about how or where I grew up and probably never will. All they will ever know is this.

I talk to husband about it of course. And he agrees it would be a better way of life, but it is token agreement at best for he doesn't really want to leave. And always there is some obstacle or impediment. The job market, the housing crisis, the taxes! For him it's a practical matter. It's not the right time. It never will be.

I don't know how to make him understand that every day that we remain here, my spirit dies a little bit more. It dies of loneliness and boredom and homesickness. It dies of not belonging. It dies with the knowledge that I will one day have to say my good-byes to a dead body. It dies with the regret of having left behind the privilege of being with them while they are alive.

Sometimes, when I can't keep the homesickness at bay, I go online and look at realestate in that town. I always find the perfect thing of course. It's torture and I should know better. Most of the time I recognize that, but sometimes the need to look is just too much.

Today was one of those days. And of course, I found the perfect thing. I am angry that it cannot be mine. That it will probably never be mine.

I can usually push the anger and resentment away. I am lucky in so many respects. I have a wonderful husband and our marriage is strong. But I wonder what happens when I get that call, and it's too late. I wonder if the resentment will be so easily quelled in the throes of grief. I worry that it will tear us apart.

Jesus. Living between worlds is such a mess. I don't recommend it at all.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Reco Redux

Bleah. I don't know what's wrong with me. Can't write, can't think, can't even come up with anything half-assed to post today. I'm in a funk, to tell the truth.

So, let me turn the tables. Instead of me giving you all sorts of opinions, you give me some.

Over the two years that I've been blogging, I've recommended tons of books, beauty products, movies, exhibits, restaurants, music, and entertainment venues here in the Atlanta area.

I always wonder if anybody ever actually takes any of my recommendations, and if so, what they thought.

If you have, like it or hate it, I'd like to hear from you.

For my part, let's see....

Upon Jess's recommendation, I read Angle of Repose and Crossing to Safety, both of which I loved. I have a ton more Stegner on my tbr list.

Another blogger posted a video of Lollipop by Mika, (I'm sorry, I forget who it was) which led to me being prompty and completely addicted to his latest CD, Life in Cartoon Motion.

Amy recommended Narrative, where I can become completely engrossed in reading the lushly human stories and evocative poetry for hours upon end.

Kate heartily extolled the virtues of these cupcakes and now I must make some. Knowing Kate, they will be every bit as delicious as she says and I will be forced to bake batch after batch.

There are more, I'm sure, and I will post them as they come to me.

But in the meantime, let me hear from you. What didja try, how didja like it?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em

I don't really have anything profound to discuss today, so I'm going to resort to cutesy pet pictures. I don't think I've ever done that, so I'm not going to feel terribly guilty about taking the easy way out today, especially since I never share pictures of my children.

We have three cats, despite the fact that Husband is allergic. That was an accident. We started with two cats; Chester and Betsy. Betsy got sick and had to be put to sleep. The kids were distraught, but not so distraught that they did not recognize an opportunity to exploit their grief and guilt me into another pet.

Enter Bo the cat.

We adopted Bo from the Fulton County animal shelter, which is a terribly sad place. So many beautiful pets needing a home; all of them looking at you with beseeching eyes. SIGH. I would take them all home if I could.

Bo was a juvenile and placed on the very bottom row of cages. The kittens of course, were all placed at eye level. We wouldn't have seen him if he hadn't stuck out his paw and beckoned to us as we walked by.

Bo is very stupid, but very sweet, and really, the best behaved of the three. Bo will sit in front of a door that is open an inch or so and wait for someone to open it further so he can get out. Sometimes, one of the other two will open it for him, and I swear, they roll their eyes while they do it. Perhaps he is not stupid, but rather diabolically smart.

Bo will occasionally wander off if an opportunity presents itself. With two boys who can't seem to remember to close a door, those opportunities are not infrequent. I honestly think he forgets how to get home. On one such occasion, Bo was gone for a month, and we had to talk to the boys about the possibility that he was dead, or that someone had taken him in and made him their own.

Again, they were distraught, again, they suckered me into another pet. We went to pick up Chester, who was in for surgery on his leg for an abscess. In the waiting room of the vet's office was a cage containing a 10 week old kitten who was a carbon copy of Chester. He was vigorously attacking some kind of rag toy and he was undeniably adorable.

Oh, the begging, the whining, the pleading! The kids really wantd him too. Husband couldn't take it and so, Leo came home with us.

Two days later, Bo came home.

The kids were overjoyed. Husband? Less so. Not that he wasn't glad to have Bo back safe and sound, but three cats in our small house is, admittedly, a bit much, especially for his immune system, which generally does a good job adjusting, but does get overwhelmed if too much fur is flying.

So, anyway. I've been trying to get them not to sleep on the furniture. As you know, you can't make a cat do anything. So I've encouraged them, by purchasing several little pet beds and scattering them around the house.

Bo will not sleep in or on anything. He sleeps right smack in the middle of the floor or on the steps. He has been tripped over more times than I can count, and still he does this. Tolja. He is one dumb feline.

The other two love the beds. Actually, they love the same bed. Chester is really the alpha male and so, claims the bed as his own. Leo, the youngster, sometimes tries to roust him from the bed, with little success. His best hope is to get to it before Chester does.

Recently, Chester, who although the undisputed king of the castle, is not an aggressive cat, (none of them reallly are) decided he wasn't going to put up with that. But wasn't quite sure how to eject Leo without resorting to violence.

Here is what happened:

He actually started out sitting just outside of the bed, but I didn't think to take a picture at that point. He meowed sternly. Leo ignored him.

So he slowly inched closer, and closer....

And here folks, is the embodiment of the saying "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

So there you go, gratuitous cuteness.

BTW, that is my ugly dining room, ca. 1984, which, in the absence of actual dining room furniture has become a storage area for my workout stuff, and the place where the cats congregate, by virture of a large picture window that lets in the afternoon sun in a huge swath each afternoon.

Since then, I have purchased one of those huge puffy dog bed things at the dollar store and the problem seems to be solved. Leo, the upstart, tried to bogart that too, but Chester put a stop to that pretty quickly.

Please forgive the fluffy (pun intended) nature of this post. I'm experiencing technical difficulties of the female kind, and just not in the mood for anything, really, except some hot (literally) sex with a heating pad.