Blogs Are Stupid

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

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Know What I Hate?

I hate when I go to the library, check out a metric ton of reading material, only to find that it ALL sucks.

I really, really hate that.

I don't go to the library as often as I should. I like books, and I like to own books. Plus, I have this problem, you see, which makes it impossible for me to check out one or two books.

I check out 20.

This puzzles husband. I can't possibly read 20 books in the three weeks allotted. So why in the world would I check out 20 books? It also irritates him because invariably, I do not return them on time, and I end up with a huge fine.

I? Am single handedly financing the new wing with my fines alone. You're welcome.

But here's the thing...see...

I get a panicky feeling if I don't have something to read. Reading is my escape, and it's also how I "turn off" at night. I am a worry wart and a lifelong insomniac. I literally cannot shut off my brain unless I have something to distract me from the day to day woes that all of us experience, and anaesthatize me into blissful somnolence. Well, as blissful as I get, anyway.

I have all my old favorites of course. My tried and true, my read 'em any time, anywhere and they're just as good as the first 20 times I read 'em, books.

They're neither too shallow nor too deep, they're neither too cerebral, nor too frivolous, they're neither to serious nor too silly. They're a just right mixture that can transport me from my everyday world into place where domestic and familial responsibilities don't exist.

I'll list just a few of those for you:

Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett
The Stand by Stephen King
Outlander by Dana Gabaldon
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Descent by Jeff Long
Cabinet of Curiosities by Preston and Child
Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Anne Burns
The Prince Of Tides by Pat Conroy
The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillippa Gregory
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

They are like old friends, these books.

But it's good to make new friends. The promise of discovery that lies between the pages of a new book never fails to thrill me.

So when I don't have something new to look forward to, I feel somewhat despondant.

So I check out a buncha books, in case those that I have chosen fail to transport, delight, titillate and enterain the way I need them to. I have about a 50% success rate when picking books blindly off library shelves.

Which, by the way, I love to do. It's like a treasure hunt. I can spend hours in the library sniffing out something new and wonderful and undiscovered. The New York Times Bestseller list isn't necessarily the be all and end all of worthwhile literature.

So I usually expect that half the number of books I check out will be tripe. But half will be delicious.

Not so this last trip. Everything I have picked up has been disappointing. I am saving two for last; The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and Shibumi by Trevanian.

I have steadfastly refused to read The Kite Runner. It's a personal policy of mine to avoid anything that is overhyped. That goes for books, movies and events. Inevitably, I am disappointed, so I have learned to rely on my own insticts rather than public opinion.

Cases in point:

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Everybody loves this book. I found it dull, poorly written and totally predictable. Not to mention depressing.

Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series.
I wish I had a dollar for every person who has extolled the virtues of this series to me. YAWN. I think there are 14 of these literary snooze fests now. I know she's a cash cow and everything, but I think it's time for ole Steph to retire.

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.
It's so funny!!! I was told. It was insipid in the extreme.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Why do people love this book? Heathcliff is a boor and a misanthrope and Catherine is a self-absorbed twit. This isn't a romance, for heaven's sake. It's a book about miserbale people making other people miserable. Pass.

There are tons more, but of course, now that I am behooved to provide examples, I can't think of them.

I'm not really a fan of books about Middle Eastern culture, which is odd, because I really like Middle Eastern culture itself. But I did not enjoy Reading Lolita in Tehran, I did not enjoy Lipstick Jihad, and I did not enjoy The Bookseller of Kabul. I don't know why, really. I can't quite put my finger on the reason those books failed to forge a connection with me, or, I with them. They were...interesting, just not...wholly and completely enagaging, the way I need a book to be.

Maybe it's because I just can't relate to being caught between two cultures, or living in a country ravaged by political, religious, and cultural unrest.

But, because there seems to be a dearth of good reading material of late, I picked it up.

And it's waiting, at the bottom of the stack, taunting me with it's uncertainty. Could it really be as good as everyone says? Do I dare hope? Or will it be another disappointment of Oprah's Book Club proportions?

There are two more books in the stack before I reach Kite Runner. Beneath it is Shibumi.

Surely, one of the two will be worth the wait.

Please tell me what wonderful things you have read lately. My TBR list is woefully short and I need something new to sink my teeth into.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Way To Take A Stand There, Dude

I'm not voting for John McCain.

That doesn't mean I'm completely convinced Barack Obama is the best man for the job. I won't go into all the reasons why, but I do have a list of pros and cons. Suffice it to say, I don't think there's a politician out there that could inspire in me a deep and abiding faith. As always, for me, it comes down to the lesser of two evils.

Obama has some strong qualities. I wouldn't hate him in the White House. And really, that's about as good as it gets for me. I have an inherent dislike of politicians and their ilk. I have an extreme aversion to politics in general.

It's all a bunch of gladhanders doing their best to bullshit whomever they can into endorsing and then voting for them.

Embittered, much?

Maybe not so much embittered as...jaded. I was alive when Nixon was nearly impeached, and the resulting backlash imprinted a healthy suspicion upon my psyche, I suppose. I remember the adults talking. I remember the shock and the outrage. I remember the profound sense of betrayal. I think it was the end of a more innocent age.

I was very young, but I remember realizing, from the snippets of conversation that I overheard, that what happened was a very, very bad thing.

The PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES committed a crime. He lied. I could think of nothing worse. Because, if THE PRESIDENT can lie, then who in all the world can you possibly trust??

It was then that my sense of mistrust in regard to politicians was spawned, I think. Years later I would learn, of course, that Watergate was an even bigger political clusterfuck than I could have ever imagined and that the seeds of corruption were sown very deeply, which only solidified my distaste for the entire enterprise. I said, it's come down to the lesser of two evils for me and Barack Obama falls firmly into that slot.

I've known for a while that he would be my choice, and my list of complaints against McCain has been slowly growing.

Today, it's the fact that the man is distressingly wishy-washy.

"McCain opposes gay marriage but also a constitutional amendment against it and has expressed limited support for the rights accorded couples in same-sex civil unions. Apart from opposing a constitutional amendment to ban abortion, he is against most abortion rights and says he would favor overturning the Supreme Court decision affirming those rights."

Wow. Now that's a man who is committed to his beliefs.


Those are two of my deal breakers, and I think the same can be said for a great many Americans. So instead of taking a real stand and risk alienating a sizeable percentage of his constituency, he has chosen to flirt with liberalism while married to conservative idealism.

I suppose some people appreciate his seeming willingness to see both sides of the respective issues and his ostensible sensitivity to the very strong emotions that they elicit.

But me? I'd have a hell of a lot more respect for the man if he would just pick a philsophy and stick with it. I know the same criticism has been made of Senator Obama as well. So just where does the distinction lie between diplomacy and lip service?

I don't know.

What I know position does not waver. And I'd like a candidate who can say the same.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Luxury Of Nothing

Normally, Diminutive One takes the bus to school.

It drives me nuts that so many parents insist on driving their precious kiddies to school. It adds to the already substantial traffic problem, for one thing. And believe me, it is substantial.

Our area has grown very quickly, and with it, the traffic. Unfortunately, the growth we have experienced has not been matched by the development of an adequate system of inlets and outlets to our little suburban enclave. There are only a few main arteries to the interstate, and they are thoroughly and completely clogged at 7 am. Business traffic combines with school traffic to create a huge snarling mess.

Also, it's a waste of resources and it adds to the pollution problem. This year has been better than previous years...we've had no code red days, and only a few code orange...but still. Some days, it's quite evident that there is a pall of smog hanging over the city and the outlying areas as well.

Unfortunately, because of redistricting, the bus is no longer an option for us.

Long story short, because of the rapid growth in the area, new schools are being built every year, and, as a result, we have recently been redistricted for the third time since we bought this house.

We opted not to move Diminutive One to the new school for several reasons. If I start him in a new school this year, he will have to change AGAIN next year when he moves to Middle School.

Pubescent One had to do this in the second grade. We had just moved him from public school to private and the following year, we got redistricted. It was hard for him, but he dealt with it okay. He is outgoing and amiable and makes friends quickly, so after a day of new school jitters, his nervousness evaporated and he assimilated pretty quickly.

But for Diminutive One this is the kind of thing that can spell disaster. He does not deal well with change and he gets extremely anxious about new social situations. "Adaptable" is just not a word that applies to him.

Since he just started doing better after several years of struggling, we decided not to upset the apple cart.

Also, the school he would be attending is an old, run down building with a scarcely adequate playground. It does not have a good academic reputation. They have done some renovation this year, but that does not address the other problems that continually make the rounds on the neighborhood rumor mill; bullying, staff squables, militant administration....

So he can stay at the old school, but I have to drive him, as the only bus that will be servicing our neighborhood will be going to the new school.

Luckily, I found two other Moms with whom to carpool, so it's not been too horrible. I only have to drive every third day, which means that I have to drive roughly twice a week.

I've noticed something sitting in car line, which is really what this post is about.

There are all kinds of people picking up kids; Moms, Dads, Grandmas and Grandpas, even a Day Care van. But mostly it's Moms and Dads.

You have to get there early or you end up in line behind the point where the two lines merge into one another. Then you're screwed because the line moves at a snail's pace from that point back. So I, and all the other carline parents usually have at least 2o mins to kill sitting in carline.

The Moms always seem to have something to do. Some have day planners open on the steering wheel and a phone to their ear. Some do paperwork. Some knit, crochet or cross stitch. Some read. Some do Bible study. Some clean their car or van. That's what I did yesterday. I grabbed some wipes on my way out the door and cleaned my thoroughly grimy dashboard while I sat.

But the Dads? Without exception, the Dads simply sit. They don't fidget. They don't look around anxiously. They don't do anything. They just...sit.

I find that odd.

Is it a gender thing? Or is it more indicative of gender roles?

I mean, what woman do you know, can sit for twenty minutes doing absolutely NOTHING but daydreaming, woolgathering, musing. Not any that I know.

And why is that?

I'll tell you why.


Women are driven by guilt to be productive every minute of every day. I know that for many years, I felt that in order to justify my not working, I had to prove that my time at home was fruitful.

And even when I was handed small opportunities for respite, I wouldn't take them, couldn't take them. Because I had something to prove. We all, as women, I think, feel that we have something to prove.

Men do not feel this pressure the way we do. Oh sure, there is professional competition and job stress. But I don't think that men feel as persistently judged as women do.

They do not measure their worth by their ability to do it all. Because never, ever, in the history of mankind, have they ever been expected to do it all. Their role, though shifting somewhat throughout the years, has historically been pretty cut and dried. Breadwinner.

Of course there are responsibilities other than providing financially for the family. And I'm not implying that it is a small one. But if a man can provide well for his family, then he is satisfied that he is fulfilling his societal and moral obligation. He does not need any other yardstick by which to measure his value and a human being or a man.

But women, even when they work outside the home, do not have that same certainty. Because as our roles have changed with the times, they have not simply evolved, they have multiplied. We have not traded one for another, we have simply assumed more and more and more, until we are wearing more hats than Bartholomew Cubbins.

And we judge ourselves harshly if we can't fulfill all those roles with efficiency, dexterity, and poise.

Screw that.

My next turn to drive is Thursday. And I'm not going to bring anything to do. I'm going to sit and woolgather. And I'm not going to feel guilty about it.

So there.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mourning Normal

It wasn't just a baby that was lost, you see.

It was hope.

I love Diminutive One. I think he is fabulously smart and creative and will one day do very big things. He has taught me a lot about myself and a lot about the kind of parent I can be.

But he has been hard.

Every minute of every hour of every day with him has been a challenge. And he will continue to challenge me long after, I think, the age at which most parents consider their job done.

A lot of his life has been difficult for me to enjoy because it has been mired in self-doubt, anger, worry and sheer unmitigated exhaustion. While I have always loved him, and always will, with a depth and ferocity that still surprises me sometimes...the truth is that I have spent far more time than I am entirely comfortable with, not liking him very much.

Because I was so focused on just getting through each day without having a nervous breakdown, I missed a lot of the good stuff. And there was good stuff. But I find that I have a hard time remembering it now, because then, I had a hard time seeing it for what it was.

I know it's difficult for people with typical children to understand such a thing. It's hard for me to understand and even harder for me to admit. But I have to in order to make sense of all the feelings that parenting him evokes. I have to own the good and the bad.

And, really, I could lie to all of you and pretend that raising him has been nothing but a joy and a privilege....but I could never lie to myself, at least not with any measure of success. The truth would always be there, gnawing at me.

I had one of those perfectly compliant and blissfully laid back children. And yes, I was the one judging you when your child had a tantrum, or hit another child, or threw their food in a restaurant. Because my naivete led me to believe that the easy going nature of my child had something to do with me.

It didn't. And it was a hard learned lesson, let me tell you.

So...when I thought I might be pregnant, for me, it was another throw of the dice, another spin of the wheel, another hand to play. I thought it was maybe another chance at normalcy. A normal baby. A normal child. A chance to enjoy those precious few fleeting years, instead of just enduring them.

A chance to feel good and confident and proud of myself as a parent. To feel, once again, like I'm good at this gig. I felt like a good parent with Pubescent One. I still do. With Diminutive One, I feel like an abject failure 99% of the time.

So it's not really a baby I'm mourning. It's normalcy. Adequacy. Competency.

Well, and maybe, just a little bit...that baby head smell.

But the fact is, we have just as much chance of conceiving another child who is every bit as defiant, oppositional, stubborn, unconventional and single-minded as Diminutive One. Atypical. Different.

And I'm just not sure I can hack that again.

So I think that we will let what is, be.

((BIG CLEANSING BREATH)) you mind if I sniff your baby now and then?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Mother Nature Has Spoken

I'm bleeding.

Only a little...dark, smudgy flecks on the tissue, that are typical of the first few days of my pre-menopausal menstruation.

But the cramping in my gut tells me it's just a harbinger of the inevitable. The torrent will come, and along with it, the end of my soft focus Hallmark day dreaming.

I'm trying to be philosophical, but really, I just don't want to talk about it right now. Gimme some time. In a few days, I'll see that it's really for the best.

Thanks for all the well wishes, thoughts, hopes, prayers and crossed fingers. You all are very sweet to have been my hand holders throughout this whole thing.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

This Is What They Mean When They Say....

On pins and needles. Or tenterhooks. Or pins and needles AND tenterhooks. Here is how my thought processes have gone this week:

I feel bloated. I must be getting ready to start.

I feel queasy. I really am pregnant.

Criminy, would you look at the size of that zit! I must be getting ready to start.

I have heartburn. I really am pregnant.

Geez my back hurts. I must be getting ready to start.

Yeast infection, are you kidding me? I really am pregnant.

My pants feel really snug. I must be getting ready to start.

GOD I'M HUNGRY. I really am pregnant.

Sweet JESUS I need chocolate. I must be getting ready to start.

I have to pee again. I must be pregnant.

Is that a cramp? I must be getting ready to start.

I wonder if husband is in the mood. I really am pregnant.

Every twinge, every pang, every blemish, gripe and groan is a "clue". It's driving me crazy, but I can't stop. Right now, I really do feel kind of pre-menstrual, but I've also been feeling queasy.

Clearly, the cosmos is toying with me.

I called the doctor's office a few minutes ago, and the results were not yet in. The nurse said she thought tomorrow at the latest. She apologized and sympathizes with my anxiousness.

Husband and I have been talking.

"Where are we going to put a baby?" he aksed.

Knowing that husband would need to be handled with kid gloves throughout this process, I have tried to anticipate all his concerns. Thus, I had a solution at the ready.

"Well, the boys can room together in the bonus room over the garage, then we can put your office and the spare bed in Pubescent One's room, and the nursery in Dimiuntive One's room."

"They'll kill each other. They're like beta fish."

"I shared a room with my sister almost my whole life. It made us very close."

"You and your sister were not polar opposites in every respect. And besides, Pubescent One is at an age where he really needs his privacy, if you know what I mean."

"That's what showers are for. And don't talk to me about that."

I choose to be blissfully ignorant of that particular adolescent proclivity.

"I'm just sayin. Little brothers can really cramp a guy's style."

"Babies can really cramp ours, but we'll deal with it, and so will they."

Husband snorted, but did not pursue it further.

My mother asked me if I'll be sad if the result is negative. Truthfully, yes, a little. But I'll also feel relieved. And I suspect that this wistful ambivalence will be something that stays with me until nature decides to remove my choice in the matter.

I wonder, if a woman ever truly stops thinking about the joy of creating a life; feeling it grow and move, safe within the warmth of her body.

I wonder if a woman ever forgets the sweetness of babies.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

If I'm Not Pregnant, I'm Totally Getting A Tattoo

Clearly, I am having some kind of mid-life crisis, which the more astute among you might have concluded from my proliferation of posts on losing myself, feeling regret about the things I haven't accomplished, pining for the days when my children were small and sweet....

I suppose that is why I have the urge to do someting unexpected. Something wild and non-sensical.

Something baaaaaaaaaad.

Not, you know, criminally bad, but, socially unacceptable bad. Saucy wench bad. Female corrections officer bad.

Something to subversively shatter the perception that I am a respectable wife and mother who derives deep satisfaction from nurturing her family and fighting the good fight against dirt and grime.

An affair is out of the question. I know which side my bread is buttered on, and besides, I think I might die of embarassment if I had to show my buttflab and my stretchmarks to somebody new and uninitiated in all the ways that childbearing is devastatingly unkind to a woman's body.

So I think I'm going to get a tattoo.

I haven't been a fan of tattoos, historically. I think most of them are tacky and tasteless and vulgar. No offense, if you have one...I'm sure yours is very nice.

But honestly, tattoos have just never been my thang.

Why has that changed? You'll laugh when I tell you about it.

Last Christmas, the boys each got some temporary tattoos in their stockings. Once, they would have thought temporary tattoos were the shiz-nit of yuletide bounty. But alas, those days are over. So I stuck them away in a drawer.

A couple months later, Husband found them, and suggested, impishly, that I apply one. So I did, or rather, he did. He put it in the classic tramp stamp location right above my butt crack.

To my surpise, I thought it looked kind of hot. You know, in a tarted up schoolmarm kind of way.

He thought it was hot too.

Over the course of the next couple months, we used them all up. It was fun. It made me feel...wild. Uninhibited. Baaaaaaaaaad.

And I began to think maybe I should get a permanent one.

Now, if you know me you know that I never do anything without anyalyzing it to death. So there's not really any danger of me doing something like that off the cuff and then regretting it a week later. Spontaneity is not an evil that I wrestle with.

I've been researching the pros and cons, the cost and risk of removal if I decide I hate it, the best place to put one so it won't end up looking like a Salvador Dali painting, and reputable establishments in the area.

The one thing I haven't been able to decide on, is a design. Although I have seen some that are incredibly beautiful, it's the artistry that I appreciate, not the medium. And of course, I have seen some of exemplary tastelessness.

Are you shocked? Oddly, I am, though I shouldn't be. Human beings simply cannot be surpsassed for pointless and imbecilic behavior.

That, along with the fact that people do make assumptions about other people with tattoos, led me to the decision that regardless of what I ultimately chose, mine would not be on public display.

I looked at literally thousands. Some were pretty. Some were whimsical. Some were suggestive and fun. Some I liked a lot, but couldn't see saddling myself with for all eternity. None of them were quite right.

I really need for it to be perfect to commit myself body and soul to having permanent ink injected under my epidermis. And because I couldn't find anything that I really, really loved, I concluded that it just wasn't meant to be, and I abandoned the idea, at least for the time being.

Then, recently purely by chance, I ran across some pictures of Mendhi. I had forgotten what a beatiful and graceful art form Mendhi really is.

And it was EXACTLY what I wanted.

I set out to find a design, which proved to be harder than I thought. Mendhi is really not intended to be permanent. Traditionally it is applied by a Mendhi artist with a temporaray henna dye. It is a Middle Easter custom for brides, and sometimes, bridegrooms.

So finding a design for a permanent tattoo turned out to be challenging. Many were close, but lacked the authenticity that I really wanted.

But finally, fortuitously and with a heart pumping joy that surprised me, I stumbled upon the perfect design.

The site uses anti-theft technology, so I can't reproduce it for you here. You'll have to follow the link if you want to see it. The artist has several designs in this style, so if you like it, be sure to check them out.

I am ridiculously excited over this stupid thing. So, if I'm not pregnant, I'm totally going to get a tattoo. Probably. Most...likely.

Note to self: Ask tattoo artist just how "permanent" tattoo ink really is. Also inquire as to what typically happens when someone freaks the flock out halfway through the procedure and decides they have made a grave mistake.

There should be a 5 second rule for tattoos.

I bet a lot more people would get them if there was.

The tattoo industry really needs to take that idea and run with it.

ADDENDUM: OMG, look what I found on Amazon.

It's a pkg containing 4 pages of temporary henna tattoos in the typical Mendhi style. I can try before I buy! How cool is that?

I bought the pkg with paisley and floral and also one of assorted designs. I can't wait to try them out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I went to the doctor today for a blood test. But I go to a small family practice and they do not have a lab on site. So it will be a couple of days before I get the results of my blood test back.

By the end of the week, we'll either be breathing a sigh of relief, or freaking the flock out.

It could just be my mind playing tricks on me, but I swear to God that as soon as I left the doctor's office I started feeling crampy. And that would be par for the course.

I kid you not, I have peed on a stick, only to find blood when I wiped myself. So why not right after handing over a $25 copay for a blood test? Why should that be any different?

Of course, my friend Lisa, who is wishing a baby on me, asserts that it could be stretching of the uterine ligaments causing me to cramp. Nice try Lees.

One thing I forgot to mention in my last post on the issue, was the fact that while in Wisconsin, I spotted lightly for about...18 hours. Not red period like blood, but brownish blood.

This could possibly be implantation bleeding. I've never experienced that, and opinions vary as to whether such a thing actually exists, but it's yet more fodder for the Am I? or Aren't I? debate.

Husband is taking it better than I thought. He was very adamant about being done. But he assures me he'll be happy if I'm pregnant and I believe he's being sincere. But I think he will be freaking out on the inside just a little. As will I.

So there you go. You know as much as I do. Happy now you nosy, nosy people?? (winking at you but you can't see me because, well, I'm here and you're there)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Emotional Rollercoaster Anyone?

Teenagers are a pain in the ass.

It's a law of nature. Teenagers are universally required and biologicially compelled to provide their parents with a degree of aggravation that is in direct proportion to that which the parents themselves caused their parents before them.

This law is written in stone. It will be in effect for the rest of time immemorial. Forever, and ever, until the four horsemen of the apocalypse ride, the heavens and earth collide and life as we know it ceasts to exist.

Five Hundred years ago teenagers were giving their parents all kinds of hell; taking the chariot for a joy ride...forgetting to feed the prisoners...taking the Emperor's name in vain...and 500 years from now, teenagers will still be giving their parents all kinds of futuristic hell; borrowing the hovercraft and bringing it back with negative ions, forgetting to taking out the garbage capsule, not logging onto school on time...

And if you think that because your child is sweet and complacent and good natured you might be spared some of the teenaged surliness, contempt and general asshattery....think again.

So. I'm finding my teenaged son quite a challenge these days. He's a good kid, all things considered, but the attitude, my GOD the attitude. The mouth. And of course, the world revolves around Pubescent One.

I know, complete and total self-absorption is the hallmark of adolescence. But knowing that, doesn't make me not want to slap him upside his fat head.

But sometimes...sometimes I get little glimpse of that sweet little boy that I used to know. Sometimes I am privileged to get a preview of the man he will one day be.

This afternoon I took him shopping for school clothing. Because he was off his meds for three months, (his meds inhibit growth) he grew more than he did in the entire previous school year. His shoulders are busting out of his shirt sleeves and all his "shorts" give new meaning to word. His ridiculously long thighs are exposed to a degree that is neither cool nor attractive.

We went to a popular name brand store. I warned him that our budget was tight and I could only buy a few things if he insisted on having this particular brand. He said he understood.

But that didn't keep him from piling my arms high, exclaiming over a funky design, an eye catching color, or an item of superlative coolness. Pretty soon I had a massive armload of clothing, three quarters of which would have to be put back.

He pouted. He whined. He started with the.."But it only costs...." And I lost patience with him. I reminded him that I had clearly explained to him that we had a finite budget and thus, a limit to the number of items we could buy in this store.

I reminded him that I still had to buy his brother some clothing to which he replied with a snort, "Well he can just have my old stuff."

I told him we would leave with nothing if he was going to continue badger me. He pouted some more, but, seeing that I was not going to budge, he pared his pile down to the pre-specified dollar amount.

Seeing that his pile contained a polo shirt for $35, I told him that in my opinion, it was too much, and he could get two of the sale t-shirts for that price, or two of the sale polos for only a few dollars more. He balked at that, and I let him make the decision, knowing full well he would be sorry later when he realized that Diminutive One had gotten fully twice what he had because I had chosen well.

Anyway, I was nearly at my wit's end with him by the time we finished checking out. I was feeling disgruntled and grumpy.

On the way out, a cute women's top caught my eye, and curious, I stopped to see if they had my size. They rarely do. I wear the largest size available in "regular" stores. And, with everything being so tightly fitted these days, I doubt it would have fit regardless.

A predatory sales associate swooped down to ask if she could help me find my size.

"No thanks. I don't think you carry big fat lady."

She laughed nervously and backed away.

Pubescent One, hearing this, admonished me.

"Mom, why do you put yourself down like that?"

I was a little taken aback. It really seems as if everything I say to him goes in one ear and out the other. Plus, he has ADD, so a lot of stuff he hears, he doesn't necessarily process. He has to kind of filter everything and only retain the important stuff, or he goes into input overload. For that reason, he often seems oblivious, even when he really isn't.

"Ummm, I don't know. I was just being flip, I guess."

"You shouldn't do that. Maybe you're not super skinny but you always look cool."

COOL? I look...COOL? My thirteen year old son thinks I look....COOL? That's better than skinny, in the world of thirteen year old boys, thankyouvermuch.

"I do?"

"Yeah. Like, you don't go out with your hair all messy or your boobs hanging out. And you always have on nice clothes and make-up and stuff. I'm not embarassed to be with you. Usually."

"Is this about that shirt? Cause I'm still not buying it."

"No Mom! I mean it. You're...(blush) know...pretty. Prettier than a lot of my friends' Moms."

And here I had been seriously considering renouncing my ownership of him.

Teenagers. They sure keep you on your toes. Good thing my butt looks perky that way.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"You Don't Put An Age Limit On Your Dreams"

That is a quote by Olympic swimmer Dara Torres.

If you don't know, Dara, the 41 year old Mom of an adorable two year old girl, was deprived of the Gold Medal in the 50 meter freestyle by one hundreth of a second. The gold medalist, Britta Steffen, was LESS than half her age.

Dara is the first woman swimmer in history to compete over the age of 40 and she's the oldest swimmer to win a silver medal.

That? Is inspiring. She? Is a female role model we can encourage our daughters to look up to.

In an earlier race, as the swimmers were getting ready to mount the block, she stopped, because one of her competitors had a torn suit. She tried to help the girl mend the suit, to no avail. So she asked officials to delay the race, and then she spoke to each competitor to let them know that they would wait.

Now, the rules state that events do not have to be delayed for competitors who are unable to start on time, regardless of whether the issue is large or small. Basically, it's up to the ruling officials to decide.

Dara let it be known that the race would wait. They would all...wait.

She knew, from experience, what a fight it can be to make it to the Olympics. Athletes bascially give up their entire lives to train. They sacrifice everything. To be deprived of the opportunity to compete for a gold medal for such a trivial reason, would be a travesty. She knew that as well. And she wasn't about to let it happen.

Look, I'm not an athlete. Basically, I'm a sit down activities kinda gal. The only calories I burn on a regular basis are those expended turning a page or booting up my computer. I consider running up the stairs a work-out.

But these women: Dara Torres, Nastia Liukin, Kerri Walsh, Shalane Flanagan, Christina Lukas...along with so many others, have impressed me beyond measure.

Not because they are physically fit. Not because they are Olympic champions.

But because they are strong and determined and have dedicated their lives to something positive. And in so doing, they have put themselves in a position to inspire, motivate, and teach.

Listen, Moms...forget Hannah Montana, Brittney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Lauren Conrad and Heidi Montag. Forget Ashley and Mary something or other. They women have NOTHING to offer our girls.

But our female Olympic athletes do.

They aren't out clubbing with the rest of the spoiled hoi poloi. They aren't being photographed with their no-no holes hanging out. They aren't making homemade porn and then OOPS, finding it on the internet the next day. They aren't getting boob jobs and nose jobs and anal bleaching. They aren't getting married and divorced in the same month.

These are real women. They are achieving their dreams. And they are demonstrating that women can be strong, and intelligent and empowered. They are showing our girls that they can be valued for something other than a beautiful face, an impressive rack, and a famous boyfriend.

Congratulations Dara Torres. You may not have taken the gold, but you are a winner in my book. Thank you for being a role model we can all be proud of.

(And thanks to Suebob and flutter for pointing out that I misspelled her name. Geez. Louise. Ya think I'd get the name of my latest girl crush correct.)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A LONG ASS Explanation and Probably TMI

Am I freaking out? A little, admittedly. But not too much. Because although I haven't had a period since June 12, I have good reason to believe that the universe is just fucking with me.

Here's why.

I, and both of my sisters, have female type issues. One of my sisters does not have periods at all and was diagnosed with PCOS about ten years ago.

My other sister and I both started late, and since then, have only menstruated sporadically. Though not formally diagnosed, I suspect that both she and I suffer from the same condition to a lesser degree.

Prior to having children, it was not at all unusual for me to only have three or four periods a year. After I had Pubescent One, I didn't have a period for 15 months.

Yeah, no heartbreak there.

It never did bother me much, and in fact, I realized quite early that I was enormously lucky not to have to deal with all that crapola on a regular basis. has been a distinct disadvantage at times. I couldn't really do any "family planning" in the conventional sense, because my body just doesn't work like everybody else's.

When we wanted to get pregnant, we just had a lot...and hope for the best.

Also, I couldn't use any of those methods of conceiving the gender of one's choice. I realize that they are probably entirely fallacious, despite the proliferation of anecdotal evidence. (A person I used to know was quite fond of saying that the plural of anecdote is not data).

But they were just believable enough for me to be disappointed that I couldn't at least try one.

We tried to have our children closer together. Ideally I would have liked about two years between the two. But when one ovulates only when the sun, moon and stars all align properly, the moon is in the seventh house and my aura is's hard to make that happen, particularly, when one has a demanding toddler to care for, and one's disinclination towards sexual relations is so profound that one's spouse at one point jokingly, but with a scintilla of sincerity, suggests a sexual surrogate.

Thus, my boys are nearly four years apart. I did get pregnant when Pubescent One was three and I was pretty thrilled to have managed that. Sadly, I miscarried. I was devastated.

But not by the miscarriage. Though I was sad of course, I was able to be fairly pragmatic about it. Nature knows her business and there was a reason my body rejected the tiny life growing inside me.

No, I was devastated because I feared that it would take me another three years to get pregnant again, which would put my boys 6 years apart. I worried that such a gap in their ages would lead to a distant relationship between the two.

To my relief, I got pregnant again quickly. Very. Quickly. Obviously, we were thrilled. But we were stunned to hear that I was 9 weeks pregnant.

Uhhhh, what?

We went back over the timeline, trying to figure out what the heck could have happened. I tested positive Labor Day weekend. We went away for our anniversary on Sept 25th, figuring it was probably the last time that we would be able to do so for quite some time. The following weekend, I miscarried.

On December 1st, I tested positive again. December 4th I had an ultrasound to date the pregnancy.

9 weeks. Again, uhhhh, what?

We couldn't figure it out. The doctor suggested that perhaps I had miscarried one of a set of twins. But I had had several ultrasounds during the process of miscarrying and never was more than one gestational sac visualized.

However, Diminutive One was HUGE (9lbs., 5 oz.) when we has born, and had several characteristics of a post mature baby. So maybe. Who knows?

The point is, my body cannot be relied upon to work in a fashion that is remotely predictable or conventional.

I'm 39 now and around 36, my periods suddenly and inexplicably became regular, although they usually vary by a few days each month. Every now and then, I do get a little longer delay between periods or have a very scanty pseudo period.

So I really didn't think much of it when my period didn't arrive on time. I was grateful in fact, because District was coming up, and the park hosting the tournament had terribly inadequate facilities. I mused, with some irony, that with my luck, it would arrive just as the tournament was kicking off.

And then I thought, it would no doubt arrive just in time for the State Tournament. My trip to Chicago. The drive home from Wisconsin. The first day of school.

And then, suddenly, I was not only late, I had skipped my period entirely and it was time for another one. That period too, failed to occur. And then I started to worry just a little.

Now, I should mention that we do not use any form of birth control. It's never been necessary. And when it became necessary, I found that my options were limited.

I can't take hormonal birth control because it aggravates my migraines and because I had pre-eclampsia with Diminutive One. I tried an IUD, with disastrous results. My uterus was not amused, and I bled heavily for 8 weeks solid. The diaphragm was difficult to position because of my tilted uterus. And it was, quite frankly, a pain in the ass.

That left condoms. What guy do you know that will willingly encase his most sensitive and prized appendage in a sheath of skintight latex?

So we've been praciticing the rythym method since Diminutive was a baby.

Until about four years ago, we had intended to add to our family anyway, and figured that if I happened to get pregnant then it was meant to be.

Husband came to the conclusion first. They boys were getting older, things were getting easier. With their growing independance came the freedom that had been missing from our lives for a long time. And, the older they got, the more expensive they became. Husband worried about paying for things like braces, college and first cars.

He was ready to be done. He proposed a vasectomy.

I balked. I wasn't quite ready to close the door on my fertility. So he waited. I guess he knew that I would eventually come to the same conclusion, and he was right. About two years later, I was ready too. I gave him the green light on the old snip snip.

But strangely, it never happened.

I warned him we were playing with fire. I warned him that it just takes one lucky little swimmer to make a baby. I think he felt very complacent because we had always had to try so hard to get pregnant. Trying not to get pregnant was just not something he had ever had to worry about.

And then my sister, who has profound fertility issues, who doesn't ovulate and has never been able to get pregnant without expensive drugs and multiple IUI' herself knocked up.

That scared him a little. He resolved to make an appointment ASAP.

He didn't.

Then I missed a period. He begged me to take a test and I obliged. I took four. They were all negative.

I reminded him that the same thing happened with both previous pregnancies, but...happy to have dodged a bulltet, he didn't want to hear it.

He resolved to make an appointment ASAP.

He didn't.

And my period remained MIA.

The last couple weeks, I have wanted to, LOT. Husband, certainly not complaining, but curious nonetheless, casually inquired as to what had put the music in me.

I didn't know, but didn't really think much about it. I've been much more, general since I crossed the threshold of 35.

Yesterday, I was sitting in car line, feeling distinctly...libidinous (how many euphermisms for horny do you think I can posit? A LOT, I bet)..and thinking about how I was going to debauch my husband later in the evening...when it dawned on me.

The same thing happened when I was pregnant with Pubescent One. I was voracious. Rapacious. Insatiable. Profoundly and uncharacteristically....horny.


See, the thing is, because my body is so unpredictable, I could have ovulated at any point during that interval. I might only be a couple days pregnant, or a week pregnant, in which case, a negative test is not that unlikely.

I called husband on my cell phone and told him about my epiphany.

There was dead silence on the line.

"Honey? You there?"

"Yeah. there a clinic you can go to for a blood test?"

"Well yeah, but it will cost us a $50 emergent care copay. Do you need to know that badly?"

"Uh. I guess not. Will you call the doctor first thing on Monday?"


So, here I sit, wondering and not feeling pre-menstrual in the slightest. Husband is worried, but philosophical. He likes team baby. He sees how much I like team baby. He knows I've been feeling sort of...superfluous and irrelevant lately. I never felt like that when I had babies to care for.

Sure, I wanted to go to college, get a job, write a book. But I have a lot more time for that. I only have a little more time for having babies. My mind, I hope, will remain sharp well into my twilight years, but my ovaries and my uterus will eventually wither and atrophy within me.

A baby. Huh.

And now that I have written this missive, I will no doubt start tomorrow. I'm surprised, frankly, because invariably I start immediately after peeing on the last in a very expensive series of chemically impregnated plastic wands.

Maybe I should go buy another one.

Friday, August 15, 2008

So, Remember When I Said....


Yeah. Those words just might be coming back to bite me right in my extra large ass.

Further updates as they become available.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

We Used To Dance

I met my husband at a Country Western Dance Bar.

I know. And yes, it was every bit as cheesy as it sounds. Too much big hair and haggard hopefulness. Too much smoke. Too many belt buckles and beer bellies on too many erstwhile cowboys.

But I didn't care. I just wanted a place to drown my sorrows after a humiliating breakup. I needed to slip beneath the throbbing baseline and the brittle murmur of desperately genteel mating to quiet the voice in my head.

In the din, I could scarcely hear my own guilty admonishment.

It's your fault. It's your fault. It's your fault.

It wasn't my fault. I know that know. But then? I couldn't wrap my mind around any other explanation. I wasn't pretty enough, sexy enough, adventurous enough. Whatever enough I needed to be, I wasn't.

The really sinister thing about infidelity is not betrayal. It's the erosion of self-esteem. The annihilation of self-confidence. The shattered belief that one is worthy of love and devotion.

It's a wound that cuts deeply and heals slowly.

After weeks of wallowing, my friends appeared at my rumpled and distinctly aromatic bedside and demanded that I get up.

"Don't let that bastard win!" said one.

"You're way too idealistic to die of a broken heart"
said another.

"Fuck him" said the third.

They dragged me bodily from the nest I had made for myself, forced me to shower and then carted me off to a little hole in the wall honky tonk. At first, I simply sat... smoking moodily and glaring malevolently at any man who dared make eye contact.

I created a new persona for myself. Man hating bitch. Yes. That suited me just fine.

But after a while, I began to loosen up. After overhearing many a drunken confession and a sobbed story, I realized that a lot of these people had problems worse than mine.

And yet...they danced.

Country dancing isn't like rock and roll dancing, which is really just a random assortment of flailing limbs and pantomimed sexuality.

Country dancing is fun. There are actual steps. Moves. Dips, twirls. You have to count to yourself.

slow, slow, QUICK quick slooow, slow, slow QUICK quick slooow

I saw the appeal. A person can lose themselves in the mindless exhiliration of dipping and twirling and stepping. They can let go of their troubles and imagine that the person in their arms is their knight in shining armour, the one who will take them away from it all, the one who will complete them. Even if really, they know it isn't so.

So I danced. We all did.

When I met husband, I wasn't very nice to him, but eventually he won me over. He could dance, you see, so I accepted his invitation to imagine.

Ahhhhh, the dancing.

We were good. We had a natural rythym together. His body seemed to know mine, and mine seemed to fit his. So we Two-Stepped and we Swung and we Cotton Eye Joe'd and we hustled our Achy Breaky butts until the wee hours every weekend.

And when we left the dance floor with aching thighs, we were tired, but not too tired. We were never too tired back then.

No matter the hour, we always had the energy for one more dance; one of age old intimacy that had moves but no steps, music but no notes, lyrics but no words. And when were through, our exhaustion was good and pure and satisfying.

But we don't dance anymore.

We have jobs, children, a home, responsibilities.

We are often too tired.

One evening not long ago, we sat, each in our own chair, lethargic and empty. We stared at the big screen watching beautiful people dance. Their graceful bodies spoke to one another; the movement telegraphed as they touched. They gazed at one another hungrily, they caressed one another tenderly. They trusted. They believed.

Something stirred in both of us then. Husband looked at me with a wistful expression.

"We used to dance." he said.

I smiled.

"We sure did." I replied.

That night we discovered that the music had not stopped playing. It was simply muffled by the heavy mantle of our shared responsibility. We learned that sometimes, you have to fold it up and put it away for a little while.

Sometimes, you have to dance.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Meta. Sorta.

One of my esteemed readers has suggested that we simply move to alleviate the burden of paying for the excessive amount of gas consumed during the hour commute to and from husband's work.

What a novel idea. That hadn't occurred to us before.

Oh wait...yes it has.

We are planning to move and have been for some time.

But we are planning to move out of state, which is not something that can be accomplished on the spur of the moment. We have mapped out a five year plan, the first phase of which (paying off all unsecured debt) we have recently accomplished.

We still have two homes (main residence and rental property) that we need to sell, and both of them need substantial improvements before they are ready to go on the market. At least, they do if we want to get top dollar.

That takes money. Yannow, that thing that is in short supply these days. That stuff that we need to keep our kids fed and clothing on their backs? Yeah, that.

Also, the rental property has legal issues attached to it which make selling it impossible until those issues are resolved. It's a big mess, and will take some doing to straighten out. Again, that takes money. We simply don't have the cold hard cash to plunk down for a lawyer. We did consult one not long ago and he advised that unless we had about $15,000 dollars to throw away, we should probably just let the matter bide for now.

Then of course, there is the small matter of a job and place to live.

But let's assume we're going to sell our home and move closer to the city, as reader x suggests. Let's assume our house is in market ready condition.

We bought our home for $130,0000 12 years ago. Our mortgage payment is lower than most folks' combined car payments. This would not be the case if we bought a home today, especially if we tried to buy a home inside the perimeter.

Some friends of ours bought a home near Candler Park several years ago and paid three times what we did for a house that was half the size. Of course, they had the added bonus of drug dealers on every corner and a three liquor stores within walking distance, so I suppose that the convenience alone made it worth the asking price.

G'head, ask me if they still live there.

Atlanta is just not a family friendly city, like say...Chicago. When I was in Chicago a couple weeks ago, there were families everywhere. That's because Chicago has housing, schools, a reliable and well laid out mass transit system, grocery stores, schools, social amenities and cultural venues within easy access to residential areas. I freakin LOVE Chicago for that reason. I could see myself living there very easily.

Atlanta is making an effort to entice more families inside the perimeter, but I don't think it's a trend that is going to be embraced any time soon. Another friend of ours recently bought a condo downtown after getting divorced. He says the city is a ghost town on the weekends unless you go to a club or a bar or a sporting event.

Why? Because families don't live down there. The only housing is high rise living and who wants to do that with a kid? There are homes downtown of course, but the cost of owning one is prohibitive to anyone but the upper crust, unless you are willing to put up with the uh...local color.

So there's that.

Then there's the fact that I have children. I have to think about where and how they are being educated. Our boys used to go to private school, but we knew that we couldn't afford that for very long if I stayed at home. So, when Pubescent One was in second grade, they made the move to public.

We live in a county that is known as one of the best in the state for education. And, we live in an area of the county that is particularly well known for it's excellence in that respect. I don't know if I agree with that, but I think the shortcomings suffered by the school my boys attens are those that any public education system is bound to be plagued with. In general, the schools here are the best you will find in Georgia, which is exactly why we bought the house in the first place.

I'm not willing to sacrifice that. Period.

Why am I explaining all this to you? After all, I don't have to justify my life choices to anyone. And usually, I don't. But I see this disturbing thing happening in the blogopshere. Sadly, it's not a new thing, but it seems particularly virulent lately.

That is, people judging people soley on the basis of what they write on their blogs.

Now, judgementalism is nothing new. Not in real life and not on the internet. I've seen more flame wars and encountered more competimommies, trolls, whack jobs and ne'er do wells than you can possibly imagine. Believe me, you can't. Possibly imagine. What I've been through. I'll tell you about it sometime.

But it seems that bloggers and blog readers are particularly quick to judge and also particularly quick to offer unsolicited advice to people who are perfect strangers.

Now...I understand that when one blogs, and one shares one's life, one opens one's self up to a certain amount of scrutiny, judgement and commentary. I get that. I accept that. I usually just ignore it and move on. I know you people think you know me, but you don't, so I try not to let criticism or disapproval bother me.

But we do think and feel that we know people whose blogs we read. It's weird, isn't it? The intimacy that blogging creates? It's an unusual kind of intimacy. I say things here that I often wouldn't say in real life, so in some respects, my readers know me on a deeper level than the people I encounter daily.

But you don't know me on a personal level. In many ways, the me you know, is a manufactured me. I let you see what I want you to see. I try to be genuine, and I think to some degree I succeed.

But you've never seen me lose my cool with my kids, or snipe at my husband for something completely inconsequential, or pick my nose, or talk too much, or not follow through on a promise or drop the ball on something I committed to, or...whatever. You get the idea.

I create a persona unconsciously by filtering the content of my blog. I think it's just human nature to celebrate that which is good, and positive. We talk and write about what's good because it feels good.

And also, though you know some of my deepest thoughts and don't know the minutaie of my life.

Anyway...the point of all this is....

Offering someone a pat solution and flip advice based on the little snippets that are gleaned from a one sided portryal of that person's life is....not...constructive, really. Or realistic.

Though I do understand that it's well intentioned. Most of the time.

I try not to do it, though I don't always succeed. I know I'm guilty of it sometimes, and I think we all are on occasion.

I'm going to try harder.

One last thing...

Why does my son have a cell phone? Because he's 13. And every other 13 year old on the face of the planet has one.

I could try to sell it as a safety issue, a convenience issue, but it really boils down to the fact that he needs one to feel as if he fits in.

I grew up in a household with three children and barely enough money to feed us all. I had a good childhood because I had loving supportive parents who did their best to give us a good life. But I wore second hand clothing and I never had the latest thing until I was old enough to earn money and buy those things myself.

It sucked more than I could ever possibly express.

I can't give my kids every material thing their heart desires. I wouldn't if I could because I don't want my kids to grow up thinking the world owes them something. I don't want to raise spoiled brats with entitlement issues.

But I can give them some of the things that they want and they think are important. Because to a kid, especially a teenager, they are important. And all my ranting and raving about materialism, consumerism, elitism and individualism won't change that.

It is your god given right to disagree with that decision and the reason behind it. It is also your right to decide differently for your child.

But unless my parenting choices cause harm to my child, those choices are none of your damn business.

EVEN if I write about them on my blog.

Now, I'm not saying...don't comment. I'm not saying...don't share your opinion. I'm not saying that we should all blow sunshine and roses up each other's asses.

I like comments. I like opinions. I like debate.

But let's temper that with some kindness and common sense, please.

Most of us think through our life choices very carefully. Maybe too carefully. I think a common trait among bloggers is that of overthinking.

All I'm saying is that let's not look at blogging as just a series of opportunities to judge one another.

Blogging is more and better than that. If we make it so.

(P.S. This post and the previous one are two stellar examples of why Wordless Wednesday is not for me.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Rant; On

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently decided it was time to go back to work after thirteen years at home.

Frankly, it's getting harder and harder to make ends meet, even though Husband makes a comfortable salary. The price of everything is going up and it's really hitting us where it hurts.

Husband has an hour commute and the cost of gas alone is eating us alive. He used to telecommute twice a week, but that was recently cut down to once a week. He works in a field where telecommuting is not only easy, it's supportable. And we live in a city plagued by traffic problems and pollution. Yet...the decision was made not to increase, but to decrease the number of days employees are allowed to telecommute.


This year I spent fully twice what I spent last year on school supplies. Based on what I spent last year, I budgeted $80-$100 for school supplies, which included new backpacks.

They are embarassed by their monogrammed Land's End backpacks. They just aren't cool. When one is thirteen, (and ten going on thirteen) uncoolness is the kiss of death.

I ended up spending $170. One HUNDRED. And seventy dollars.

I was, naturally, aghast and went over and over that list to see where I could have gone so far over budget.

I bought each of the boys one special thing not included on the list. One. Pubescent One got a locker organizer and Diminutive One got a cool locking box for his art supplies. But those two items don't account for a 50% increase in spending.

I bought the store brand of everything that was available. I bought the cheap Rose Art markers, crayons and colored pencils instead of Crayola, and generic glue sticks, even though the list specifically asked for Elmer's. I bought the cheapest calculater they had for Pubescent One, and a crappy $10 flash card instead of the $50 dollar one with lots of storage. I went to two different Staples to get enough of the freebie folders (limit 10 per person).

Fortunately, those mesh sports bags are all the rage here and they were relatively cheap at $15.

And still, I managed to spend an ungodly amount of money.

After fine combing my list, I was forced to face the fact that...crap is just getting that expensive.

I just paid $98 for a pair of tennis shoes folks. I know, that's my consumer stupidity, but honestly, if I don't buy leather shoes for my boys, they are in rags within weeks and I have to replace them twice as often. Cloth just doesn't cut it when you have two boys who don't quit until they lay their heads on their respective pillows at night.

Sometimes buying cheap isn't really the cheaper option.

But honestly, is there a reason that a quality pair of shoes has to cost $98? I know there's not $98 dollars worth of leather in those shoes. And is there a reason that one shoe should cost twice what the another does, simply because it is classified as a men's size?

Youth sizes stop at 7, and Diminutive one has exceeded that threshold now, despite my best efforts to cram his toes into them for just a few more months. So regardless of the fact that the size he wears is just a fraction of an inch larger than the youth size he just outgrew, we are forced to pay double.

I live on South Beach bars. They taste good, they pack a pretty good protein wallop, and they are quick to grab when I'm on the run. They're expensive, about $3.99 for a box of six, but I figure they're the lesser of two evils; fast food being the other alternative.

Yesterday, while driving Diminutive One to school, I grabbed a South Beach bar. I didn't notice that instead of six in the box, there are now five. But I did notice immediately when I opened it, that the bars, which were small to begin with, had been subjected to some kind of shrink ray. Seriously...two bites and it was gone.

I'm not buying them any more just on general principal. I have bought enough South Beach bars in the last three years to build a castle with them, and this is how they repay my brand loyalty?

Do they think I won't notice??? Are we consumers really that gullible? Sadly, yes, I think we are.

Milk. you know how much milk two growing boys consume in a week? I haven't actually done a scientific study, but it's a lot of damn milk. Our cheap store brand milk is now $3.99 a gallon. I'd say that's at LEAST $15 a week in milk alone, probably more if you count what I use in meal preparation.

Yesterday I heard a radio add for a rival grocery store advertising that they are pricing their milk at $3.59 a gallon. That's everyday price, with no store card or coupon.

You know what? Whoop-de-friggin-do. That's still too damn much. And I'm not going to waste time and effort going to two different grocery stores, just to save $.50. Okay, $2.50 total, if you do the math. Perhaps if they were significantly lower on all their items I would simply switch altogether, but they're not.

Too little too late, big supermarket chain that rhymes with Mublix.

I could go on and on; cite example after example. Like I didn't do that already. But you know I could.

Now, admittedly, I could do more to save money at the grocery store.

I HATE cutting coupons. I did it for years when my boys were small and our budget was tight. I hated trying to keep them organized, I hated when they expired and I hadn't used them, I hated clipping them, I hated agonizing over every item that I didn't have a coupon for and feeling guilty if said item somehow found it's way into my cart, I hated hunting for the exact size and variety specified on the coupon, or getting up to the checkout only to find that my coupon was for the 68 oz. ketchup and I was purchasing the 34 oz. ketchup. And I hated the look the cashier would give me when I would hand over my fistful of paper salvation.

They're just such a damn chore and one I have no patience for.

I figured I had paid my dues and when things got a little easier for us, I stopped using them.

I don't shop dollar stores, I don't plan my week around the sales at various grocery outlets, I don't plan meals carefully. I overbuy because like couponing, I loathe grocery shopping and I tend to put it off until we are eating sandwiches made from leftover hot dog buns and fast food ketchup packets.

But honestly...why should I have to do all those things, just to afford fresh, wholesome, nutritious food for my family?

We are paying more, getting less, and risking our safety with every bite we take.

We need to stop outsourcing our food supply America. We need to eat what we grow instead of shipping it overseas. Does this make sense to anyone? That we send our produce overseas and then import more to feed our own people?

No. We need to eat what we grow here. What we raise and kill here. What we manufacture from lips and hooves and high fructose corn syrup, here.

The same goes for goods. It used to be that goods manufactured outside the U.S. were luxuries, extravagances. If it said made in Japan or China, India or Cambodia on it, it was considered foreign and exotic and thus, highly coveted.

Not so anymore. Now if it bears such a label, one can assume it was slapped together in a sweatshop from cheap materials by even cheaper laborers.

Does this strike anyone else as backasswards?

And of course, the cost to us is still as high or higher than it's ever been because of the cost of importing those goods.

I think it's pretty simple. Manufacture and produce locally. It's not a magic solution to cure all our inflation woes, but it's a start.

They should just let me run....everything. I could do it better.

Well I could.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


It's nearly 1 am Monday morning.

Why are you awake? You might be asking.

Isn't the first day of school tomorrow? You may be wondering.

Why yes. Yes it is. And therein lies the problem.

Diminutive One is wide awake, eaten up with anxiety.

Though last year was better than many previous years, we still had our share of problems. You may remember the Christianity survey. Or the Suck My Balls incident.

There was also a fairly serious bully problem that I intended to write about, but never did. I decided to bypass the school and called his mother directly.

That was fun.

Thankfully, the little miscreant starts Middle School this year and he'll get his just desserts the second he sets foot on the Middle School bus. Pecking order can sometimes be a wonderful thing.

Also, Diminutive One started medication last year, which really turned out to be a blessing, but which brought with it some baggage. He's different now, and he knows it.

In short, school for Diminutive One is a place fraught with social perils, opportunities to fail, and enormous potential for embarassment and humiliation. It will never be a place that he looks upon with fondess.

So he's in his bed, tossing and turning. I can hear him worrying from my own bed down the hall. I've done all I can to comfort him. I've assured him that I'm always on his side and that whatever happens this year, we'll tackle it as a team.

But sometimes even Moms can't banish the demons of childhood, not even with the most profound badassery.

So the minutes tick by and I...can only listen as he fights a mighty battle against his own anxiety. But at least, I can be awake worrying with him.

No kid should dread school that much. No kid. Ever.

Some stuff you just can't fix and it really fucking blows.


And so, I ended up with one large-ish, but still very small ten year old boy and one exceedingly fat and somewhat mangy orange cat in bed with me. Together we danced a ballet of sleeplessness.

The cat is the only one who actually slept, I think. When he wasn't scratching and biting at his elizabethan collar in irrition.

We met his teacher today. She seems like a warm and affectionate person, but Pubescent One tells me that one of his friends had her and she yelled a lot. I know the friend in question and I can't help but think he probably deserved it.

Still, it worries me. Every year I wait with baited breath to see if we hit the teacher jackpot or if we have been saddled with the elementary school version of Adolf Hitler.

She did perceive immediately that Diminutive One was anxious, though he wasn't exhibiting any overt signs. That bodes well, I think. Also, she was the teacher for the gifted program for many years, which means she is used to dealing with kids with unusual learning styles and disorders that might make them a challenge to teach. That means she knows that kids can be brilliant and still struggle.

So I'm cautiously optimistic. But the trend seems to be that every other year Diminutive One gets a really crappy teacher. Last year he had a wonderfully young, enthusiastic and idealistic teacher last year that he adored.

Time will tell. And so, unfortunately, will my kid.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Sibling Rivalry; A Mother's Perspective

I've spent this week preparing my boys to return to school.

My birthday is Sunday, they return Monday. Happy Birthday to me!!!!!!!

Seriously. I have been counting the days. Fervently.

I know that sounds terrible, but this summer they have been bickering non-stop. They have always gotten along reasonably well; better than two brothers with strong personalities realistically should.

But this year, I suppose due to the advent of puberty, they have been sniping at each other continually and even come to blows quite a few times.

Pubescent One is taking much delight in dominating Diminutive One physically. Diminutive One, predictably, reacts with rage, but it is impotent rage. He simply cannot defeat his older, stronger brother.

Pubescent One is long and lean. He turned 13 in April and already he stands 5'6". He wears a size 11 men's shoe. He is going to be a big man. But he is a string bean, and I think that his physical blueprint is such that he will remain that way, even as he matures.

Pubescent One is his opposite in every respect, but it is most noticeable when it comes to their respective builds. Diminutive One is short, bless his heart. He has meaty thighs and a generous posterior. His upper body is both broad and thick. One day, he will be unbelievably strong and powerful; more so, I think, than his brother.

I have warned Pubescent One about this repeatedly to no avail. He continues to use his brother as a punching bag at the slightest provocation. Thirteen has brought with it a hair trigger temper and an irascibility that is both foreign and ferocious.

He is always remorseful, however. He's that kind of kid. He's always been sensitive and kind, and prone to extreme guilt because of it. Curiosuly that hasn't changed, despite the violent outbursts. But this strange testosterone haze comes over him at times, and he is helpless to control the anger that surges through him.

His brother, who has always been the more challenging child, as those of you who have been reading for any length of time, finds himself in the most novel role of "the good one". That alone makes him punchworthy as far as Pubescent One is concerned. He is being usurped. He does not like it.

Anyway...when these hormone fueled firestorms erupt, I usually feel compelled to intervene and extinguish them with streams of maternal rationale and icy disapproval.

However, lately, as Diminutive One gains size and strength, I am more inclined to let them play out however they may. Because one of these days, Diminutive One is going to kick the ever lovin shit out of Pubescent One, and honestly, I'd rather that happen sooner than later so we can put an end to this adversarial and bloody epoch in our family history.

During the last brouhaha, I took Diminutive One aside, dried his tears and said,

"Dude, would you just kick his ass already?"

Dimintive One sighed heavily.

"I'm trying Mom. I just need more testosterone. When will I get some?"

Too soon, I thought. Too soon.

"Ummmm, probably in about two years, you'll start getting some."

"That's too long! He'll be fifteen by then! He'll always be bigger than me."

"Bigger doesn't always mean stronger, babe. He'll probably always be taller than you, but you're going to have much more upper body strength."

"Does upper body strength make you punch hard?"


"Cool. I can wait then. But he better watch out."


Now you might think it's terrible that I sanction physical conflict between my boys. But boys are physical creatures, and I can no more change that that I can change the color of the sky, or the direction of the tide. It's a thing that is mired in evolutionary necessity and centuries of behavioral indoctrination.

And really, in some ways, the male method of settling confict is perhaps, more efficient than that espoused by girls.

Because boys, you see, beat the hell out of one another....and then they are friends once again. Agression relieved, honor defended and heirarchy restored, they shake hands and go back to playing nice.

Plus, it's a well known fact that bullies pick on the weak and the indefensible. Once they are shown that their victim will stand and fight, they almost always back down and slink away in search of more accomodatingly timid prey.

I grew up one of three girls, and let me tell you, I'd rather clean up a little blood than deal with the plotting and scheming and machination that takes place when one female is piqued with another.

I would much rather put salve on an actual wound, than try to soothe a wounded spirit or a heartsick soul. Because girls can hurt each other far more profoundly with words and deeds than a boy could ever hurt another boy with his fist.

It's a trend that continues into womanhood unfortunately, which is why, perhaps, I find myself reticent about forming relationships with other women.

So yes, I am anxious for a shit kicking by Diminutive One to commence. Perhaps then we will have some peace in this house.

After that we will have to tackle driving and girls, I suppose. But one thing at a time please.

(Weird how sometimes you start out to write one thing and end up writing something completely different. This post was intended to be about inflation and how much more I spent getting my boys ready for school this year.)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


(This is a make-up post, for those of you not interested in that sort of thing)

Last Saturday, my estrogen posse and I set forth from our beautiful townhouse on Henderson street, bound for the Brown Line El stop two blocks away.

Our final destination was Hot Tix downtown. We were hoping to score some sweet seats to a show at a rock bottom price (We ended up with not too shabby seats to see the Blue Man Group. More on that later).

Alas, as we neared the El stop, my eye was drawn to a bright pink awning that hadn't been there on our last trip. I squinted to read the fine black script and then squealed with delight as I realized it was a Benefit boutique.

It was decided that we should make a small detour.

We entered the shop and immediately, a bevvy of heavily made up and absurdly young sales associates descended upon us. Almost before we knew what was happening, they separated us and perched us each upon a high stool.

Sales Associates in cosmetics boutiques don't intimidate me, but my cohorts were, I think, a little taken aback at the speed and swiftness with which these wily women managed to divide and conquer our little group.

I know Benefit products and I knew what I wanted before we set foot in the store. But I let the girl do her spiel, interested to hear what she would say to sell the various products she was slathering on my 39 year old skin.

The thing about Benefit products is that they are either really, really excellent, (Georgia...NO, it's not a blush) or really, really horrible (Dr. Feelgood) So you have to be educated before braving the wilds of the Benefit boutique, lest you be sold something that promises much, but delivers little.

I never buy anything high end without consulting MakeUp Alley first. When I do, I am almost always remorseful. But sometimes the reviews are ambiguous, with an equal number of women rueing and raving over the product in question. In such cases, one must simply bite the bullett and give the product a try.

Such was the case with Erase Paste.

As a fair skinned gal with hereditary dark circles of a most disconcertingly deep bluish purple hue, I am always on the lookout for a good undereye product. Currently, nothing beats Bare Escentual Bisque for coverage, staying power, and crease proofedness. That, as it turns out, would not change.

Anyway, it was that product that I was particularly interested in, but I had also heard great things about their cream eyeshadows.

The SA, in response to my query about the Erase Paste, and perhaps noticing the care with which I had camouflaged myself that morning, was inspired. She immediately recommended their "eye cocktail" and launched into a very detailed and enthusiastic demonstration.

She recommended no less than five products for daily use beneath my eyes.

Folks, if there is one thing this make-up whore has learned in my years of's that less is more.

Also, if you use more than two products in one place at one time, you are being redundant. You are also being taken for a ride.

And also, never trust an SA who works on commission, particularly if she of no wrinkles emphatically assures you that it will absolutely positively NOT crease beneath one's eyes.

Here is what she tried to sell me:

Eyecon - An undereye cream with fading action. $30.00
Ooh La Lift- Magic Pink Balm that gives eyes an instant lift. $20.00
Depuffing Action Eye Gel - Depuffs eye area and sends bags packing! $28.00
Eye bright - For that young, wide awake look. $20.00
Erase Paste - Brightening camoflouge for eyes and face. $26.00

Obviously, it was thought that I fell off the cosmetically challenge truck yesterday.

That $114 worth of products. That's $57 an eye, folks.

I ended up with the Erase Paste only, much to chagrin of the sales associate, whom, I think, thought she had a nice fat, clueless fish dangling from her wickedly pointy red lacquered hook. Truthfully, if I hadn't been on a budget, I would have bought the Eyecon as well, as it's supposed to be a reliable and effective product.

I think she caught on when I argued with her over the shade she had selected for me, which was a full shade lighter than my skin. She tried to tell me that you should always choose a concealer one shade lighter than your foundation, which I could not let pass unchallenged.'s very simple. Lighten to maximize, darken to minimize. It's why hippy women wear black pants. It's tried and true.

Anyway, to make a long story short, the Erase Paste was not a success. It did brighten and cover very, very well. I liked the look of my undereye area after I had applied it. Unfortunately, the moment my face moved, it creased. And throughout the day it settled into the fine lines under my eyes, creating the opposite effect intended by making them glaringly obvious.

This product would probably work for you are a dress store mannequin or, if you botox yourself into expressionlessness. For real women...not so much.

But the God, the shadows. These shadows, quite simply ROCK.

Historically, I have not been a fan of cream or liquid eyeshadows. I have always found them too thick, difficult to blend and too garish.

These shadows have made me a believer.

They go on smoothly and uniformly and blend easily. But they do NOT move. The don't crease, they don't smear, they don't run. Period. I wore this shadow all day long in the searing summer heat.

I fell into bed that night exhausted, having walked approximately 462 blocks over the course of the day. I failed to do my usual nighttime routine, and awoke to find that my shadow was STILL in place the next morning. And yet, it washed off easily with soap and water. Unbelievable.

I also found that these shadows are very versatile, because you can use a little for a sheer natural look, or a lot for a more dramatic look. You can vary the instensity of the color quite easily, without creasing or flaking.

I chose "Hunny Bunny" which is a nude matte shade that is wonderful for a fresh no make-up look, (my entire eye lid area has a bluish caste so I need something to even it out and prevent that battered wife look) or as an all over lid color to pair with other shadows. I also chose "RSVP" which is a sheer shimmery beige. I will use it to highlight my browbone. And, "Get figgy" which is a very neutral, natural taupe-y shade.

Now, $19 for one shadow is normally a little steep for me. I may be a product whore, but I am a budget conscious whore. However...I feel that the staying power of this product as well as the amount in the jar makes it an economical choice.

So, it was a fruitful hour, despite my disappointment in the Erase Paste. And, I got to be girly and frivolous with several of the women I love most on this planet. It was really, really fun.

So, my cosmetic neophytes, go forth and purchase.

BTW, I decided that you all were right. I can't keep up with two blogs, will get periodic makeupwhore posts here. For those of you who hate those type of posts, I apologize. I would love to be highbrow and relevant all the time, but I lost that ability the day the ovum and the sperm struck up an acquaintance.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


I come from a family of readers. We always had scads and scads of books at our home, any of which I was free to read.

I find that curious now, because I was prohibited from watching certain television programs such as "Three's Company" and "The Facts Of Life" and various other programs that my mother considered inappropriate viewing for me and my sisters.

It's especially curious when you consider that a dog eared copy of "Her Secret Kinks" which was tucked behind a more respectable tome, was largely responsible for my sex education as a child. They must have known I was reading it. Right?

Note to Self: Move adult reading material from bottom night stand drawer to a more secure location.

So clearly, no censorship was imposed when it came to my reading material.

My choices were wide and varied and I devoured anything and everything that I could get my hands on. I whiled away many a Wisconsin winter afternoon with just a book and a blanket. Books have been my constant companions; my most steadfast friends.

I have not managed to pass that particular love on to my offspring, sadly. I read to them from the time they drew breath, but to no avail. As a result, I firmly believe that a person is, or is not a reader. I just don't think you can make someone love reading.

Even if you feed them a steady diet of soft spoken lullabye lore. Or raucous, toe tapping rhymes in a silly, soaring sing-song soprano. Or nail biting adventure tales told with deeply voiced declarative theatricality.

I did all of that. And I'll admit, I took it a little personally when they began to wiggle and whine and beg to be let off my lap. WHAT was I doing wrong??? WHY didn't they love books with the same depth and devotion that I did? HOW could I make them see what adventures lie beyond the stiff covers?

Nothing. Who knows. And, I couldn't.

Eventually I realized that it just wasn't in them to love reading, thanks in part to my husband's distaste for it. He's a smart and articulate guy, but he does not dig reading for reading's sake.

My children it seems, have taken after him, and despite the seeds of literacy that I have tried to plant, the bloom of passion has failed to grow. I was and am sad about that. But I am glad that they have realized other passions and nurtured them with the same zeal that I have given my beloved books.

So there is nobody in my house that shares my love of reading and literature. It's just one more instance in which I am the cheese who stands alone amongst the...umm...I don't know. Non reading cheese?

When I visit my family, I often cart a load of books with me and return with a treasure trove of new reading material to sustain me during times of literary want.

My mother, my sister and I write our names in our books and designate them as keepers or throw aways. Keepers are the ones we want back. Then we pass them back and forth and around and around and eventually my keepers make it back to the safety of my neatly lined bookshelves. The throw aways get passed on to friends, co-workers and neighbors.

This last trip I picked up "The Crazy Ladies Of Pearl Street". I was with my sister when she plucked it out of the bargain bin last December, and I remembered looking forward to reading it. It's Depression Era setting appealed to my sense of historical romanticism.

In short, I loved this book. It was sort of like my much loved "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn", but told from a boy's perspective, and set in Albany rather than Brooklyn.

But what I loved most was the language. I loved the grandiloquent, bombastic verbiage. I suppose some might find it fussy and overblown, but for a werd nerd such as myself, it was a wealth of extravagant prolixity.

I know. I'm weird, but crap like that really gets my juices flowing. Creative Juices. Get yer mind out the gutter.

But what really intrigued me was the author's name. It was listed only as "Trevanian". Not Daniel, Marv, George or Bill Trevanian. Not Trevanian Smith or Trevanian Snodgrass.



I found that I wanted to know more about this Trevanian fellow and why he insisted upon such affectation as a one word nom de plume. So, on the advice of the author himself, I went to Trevanian's homepage to find out more.

The first thing I learned was that he passed away in 1999. Bummer.

The second thing I learned is that his real name was Dr. Rodney Whitaker.

But I also learned that he wrote for many years in complete anonymity. He never made public appearances or granted interviews or participated in the publicizing of his novels. He sometimes prevailed upon a close friend to make necessary appearances for him.

Of course, such purposeful concealment of his identity sparked wild speculation about it. It was rumored that he was, in actuality, Robert Ludlum, Henry Kissinger, Ian Fleming, and even Robert Kennedy. The publishing world salivated over him for years and various publishing entities clambered to have their names attached to the elusive Trevanian when at last his true identity was revealed.

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

What better way to attract interest than to shun it completely?

Aside from his writing, I found myself quite impressed with him on a personal level. I like his style, his moxie, and his unapologetic contempt for the bourgeois, the crass and the common. He wanted and expected greatness from an industry in which he had placed his love and trust and for which he toiled to produce something of consequence and beauty.

Damn. He would have been one hell of a cool dude to hang out with. I envision us on a terrace, gazing at the Pyrenees off in the distance, drinking stout French coffee and talking about the how literature has become a disappointing and derelict endeavor in the face of it's increasing commercialism and sensationalism.

So I'm off to the library to unearth more of Trevanian. Apparently, he was a flipping genius and I feel the need to know him better.

It seems ironic and a little disgusting that a writer such as he languishes in bargain bins and dusty second hand bookstores, while no talent hacks sit proudly and comfortably on gleaming featured selection shelves.

But, if I've learned anything in my 39 years, it's that snobbery of any kind comes at a price; that being the eternal disappointment of unmet expectations and misplaced faith.

Ah Trevanian, how well we would have gotten on.