Blogs Are Stupid

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

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Humbug

I don't like Halloween. There. I said it.

The truth is, I don't like most holidays. They are overhyped, overblown, expensive, inconvenient, and irritating.

Frankly, I think most of them are perfectly meaningless. Any meaning they once had has been lost as time has obliterated their origins and a frenzy of commercial hedonism has obscured their intent.

Now, they are just an excuse for retailers to dupe us into buying as much of their cheap garish crap as we can fit into our gas guzzling behemoths and drape all over our faux stuccoed McMansions.

Even the most sanctified of all holidays does not escape my scorn. Get ready for this...I don't even really like Christmas all that much.

But anyway...

I know some people love Halloween with all their black and orange striped heart and soul. And that's fine. But it's not a sentiment I share. I never have. I'm not sure I even liked it all that much when I was a kid. I mean, I grew up in Wisconsin for pity's sake. By October 31st it was COLD. And of course, I was made to wear a winter coat over my costume.

What's the point, I ask you?

I know, candy, and loads of it. But I'm not really a big candy eater (my husband is snickering, but honestly, unless I'm hormonally influenced, I can take or leave chocolate)).

As an adult, I find it stressful and irritating. The costumes for one. Oh, the pressure!! The running around! The competimommies who make cute and innovative and origianl costumes from scratch! Gag. My kids are bigger now, and quite frankly, I am ridiculously happy that they are content with a hockey mask and some fake blood.

And the candy. Dear does one buy the right amount of candy?? In fourteen years of parenting, I have never managed to find Halloween candy zen. I am terrified of getting too little, because we've all heard the stories right? Cars keyed, homes egged, trees toilet papered by disgruntled trick or treaters.

Down with trick or treat tyranny!!

As insurance against such, I invariably overbuy. And then I am stuck with that shit for months.

I've tried pawning it off on husband's co-workers, but many of then have kids and are just as deserate as I am to get rid of it. Even the teachers don't want it. I know, because every year I try to unload the unwanted mega bag filler on them. They're not fooled by my opportunistic generosity.

And the trick or treating?

Hate it.

I hate being held captive in my home. I hate having to pop up every three seconds like some kind of deranged jack rabbit. One cannot read, or watch television, or clean, or do anything, really because one is at the mercy of the doorbell.


Now, the little ones are cute. I like seeing the pint sized princesses and the diminutive Darth Vaders. The puppy dogs and firemen and train conductors. The ballerinas and butterflies and ladybugs. They're adorable and sweet and innocent and most of are not at all enthused about going door to door asking scary people for candy. In fact, some of them dislike it intensely. And yet their parents parade them around the neighborhood with maniacal determination in the guise of paternal altruism.

I find it very weird.

My son's first Halloween we went to four houses before he melted down and you know what we did then?


One of the gals with whom I am friendly and who has boys roughly the same ages as mine called me yesterday to let me know that they were all going to a local church for pre-trick or treating festivities. The kids get hot dogs and chips and can cavort in costume in a non-pagan environment.

Can you hear my eyes rolling??

Then they will be trick or treating at no less than three local neighborhoods. This is AFTER they have gorged themselves on orange sprayed cupcakes and juice boxes at school.


As I said, my boys are older now. They still enjoy trick or treating, but I no longer feel the intense pressure to make it as picture perfect as I once did. They want to use an old pillowcase to put their candy in. They want to wear costumes that look like they just threw them together from whatever was lying around the house. Because, you know, they're just way too cool to put any real thought into a costume. Dudes, when you are 13, that's just lame.

Diminutive One still derives a certain amount of excitement from Halloween, and I will do my best to indulge that. But secretly, I'm happy that his big brother's influence tempers his enthusiasm a little.

That makes me feel kind of bad, really. But it is what it is. When it comes to holidays, I will never be Martha Stuart.

I guess I'll have to find a way to make up for that. Add that to the list. SIGH.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Using Popular Culture To My Advantage

My oldest loves that '70's show. We all do, truthfully. I know, I know, it's not exactly wholesome viewing material, but it's damn funny. And I get so tired of being the media nazi that I make exceptions now and then.

Hey. Don't judge me. I could be letting them gorge themselves on extreme fetish sex on the pornternet.

We laugh, because my oldest is incredibly smart, but also very stupid. Ever know somebody like that? They can solve mathematical theorems in their sleep but they forget to change their underwear?

For this reason, his peers have dubbed him Kelso. Not only does he act like Kelso, he looks like Kelso. And oddly, his best friend is the personification of Eric. It's kind of funny and really frightening at the same time. I should take a picture.

Anyway...trivia and dialogue from the show has made it into our household vernacular and is employed as often as humanly possible.

One of their favorite expression and pastimes, is "BURN". They love to burn one another, and, of course, they love to point out when one of them has been burned, particularly if it is an exceedingly witty and salient burn.

The mac daddy of all burns, is the "Octoburn"; or, eight burns in one.

To whit:

Octoburns are rare, but beautiful things.

But let's meander on to my point.

The other day, Pubescent One was insisting that I "owed" him a soda, because I drank the one he left unattended. For six hours. It was warm. It was flat. And it was mine to begin with. I keep plenty of other crap nutritious beverages in the fridge for them, but the Pibb Zero is MINE. It's my last vice. And I guard it with a fierceness that is well documented.

There were two left. And I wouldn't give him one.

"But you OWE me one, Mom."

"OWE you? I OWE you a soda? You owe me LIFE. How 'bout that??"

Eric, I mean er...Michael, who was listening to the exchange, gasped loudly.

"BURN!" he said with glee. And then,

"Dude. That was worse than an Octoburn. That was ETERNAburn. You can never top that, man."

Pubescent One dropped his shoulders and hung his head, aware that he had been beaten.

Red would be so proud.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Benefits Of OCD

Perhaps you remember our bathroom project...the one that has resulted in the boys' bathroom being out of order, thus necessitating that I share MY bathroom. For a month.

Yeah, that one.

Sharing a bathroom with boys is....disgusting. Before we undertook the renovation, I stopped cleaning their bathroom, naievely reasoning that if it got bad enough, they would clean it themselves.

Perhaps predictably, their bathroom became a certifiable biohazard.

Still, I refused to clean it.

You know why? Because *I* do not piss on the floor. Or the walls. Or in the wastebasket to the left of the toilet.

Nor do I spit toothpaste into the sink and neglect to wash it down, thus creating a particularly strong molecular bond that requires a chisel to remove. And I don't find it particularly amusing to spatter the mirror with interesting, but occlusive streams of oral hygeine by-product.

So, I found it patently unfair that *I* should be charged with removing these substances from surfaces that I had scrubbed to a blinding polish only days before.

But since they are sharing my bathroom, I have no choice if I want to maintain status sanitarius.

It's been a long, stinky month.

We have been waiting on the contractor to replace the subfloor. Apparently, contractors can bend the properties of time and space. Two weeks never means two weeks. Sometimes it means four. And a couple of hours, might just mean 8.

At long last, however, the new subfloor has been installed.

Do you hear angels singing? Arias? Harp music?

I sure as shit did. I've never been so excited about particleboard in my whole freakin life.

So this past weekend, we put up the wallcovering and the chair rail.

Here's where the OCD part comes in.

We are decorating the bathroom in a beach-y, cottage-y, nautical-y motif. I found this awesome chair rail mumbelty mumble years ago for this express purpose, and it has been waiting patiently in the dusty recesses of my garage all this time. This chair rail has a small rope detail at the bottom, and I thought it would be too too perfect with our theme.

And it is. It looks really nice.

But I thought, in order to make it really stand out, I would paint it white, and the two strips of wood above and below it, tan, which is the color of the walls above the chair rail.


I spent two days on this detail. With an eyeliner brush.

First I did the tan. But I slopped too much on the white. So I went back with the white to erase all the tan. And then I slopped some white on the tan. So I went back with the tan. Lather, rinse, repeat until vision is blurred.

I became obsessed with getting this stupid trim perfect.

I'm not really OCD, but I am a perfectionist, and it was driving me crazy to have it looking sloppy. I still think it looks sloppy. But I had to walk away before the rope detail was completely obliterated under 17 layers of paint.

And the worst part? I don't even know if it's visible enough to make the kind of impact I had hoped it would. I don't even know if it's worth all the freakin time I spent on it.

I'll give you full before and afters when it's all done, but for now, behold:

(and just so you know, now that I see this picture, I see spots that need to be touched up. Again.)

A little wider shot for comparison:

(No, it's not your imagination. The wall is bowed. Badly. It was fun hanging that chair rail.)

Floor goes down this weekend. Then the toilet goes back on. The rest is just detail work. And then we are home free baby. No more peedle puddles on my toilet seat. No more giant bars of soap sludge in my shower drain. No more skid-marked underwear littering my bathroom floor.

Almost there. Almost there. Almost there. Almost there. Almost there. Almost there.

Almost. There.



Thursday, October 23, 2008

Calling A Spade A Spade

When I was a kid, bad language was a big deal.

My mother, I think acutely aware that our economic status already conferred a certaint amount of disdain upon us, was determined that we comport ourselves in a dignified manner. Just because we were poor, didn't mean we were trashy, and she meant to make sure that nobody could ever level such a charge against us.

She was fighting a losing battle with my Dad, (not a bad guy, my Dad, just a little rought around the edges) but she was determined to cultivate some sense of civility and decorum in her children.

For example, we were not allowed to say "fart".

She would have preferred that we not acknowledge flatulence at all, except to excuse ourselves, but being children, the volume, density and fragrance all had to be remarked upon. We were to say "pass gas". Usually, we complied, but sometimes, we rebelled by saying, "cut the cheese" because it was much funnier. It wasn't "fart" and so, we got around her edict on a technicality.

Obviously, swear words were verbotten.

One time, when he was very, very angry (and, as I realized later on when I was adult, very likely stressed beyond his breaking point) my dad said the "F" word.

That really made our jaws drop.

I remember looking at him, flush with anger, and being stunned at the profanity. My sisters and I, who had been complaining about supper (Goulash...ew), were startled into meekness. We ate every wretched bite and did our chores without a word that evening. The power of that word frightened me then.

As a child, I never heard my mother swear. But years later, when trying to salvage my disaster of a wedding, she said the "F" word on the phone. I was so taken aback that I choked on the wine I was drinking and narrowly missed drenching one of my bridesmaids. It was shocking for it's incongruity; my mother, dressed in a beautiful ivory gown, flawlessly coiffed, tastefully made-up, dropping the f bomb.


The constraints placed upon me as a child have resulted in me being less than judicious with my use of profanity now. Truthfully, it's my achilles heel. I swear like a sailor, particularly in the car.

My children mock me. On a recent outing, I grumbled about some driver doing something, which set my kids off. They began to recite my most infamous epithets in dueling falsettos. They laughed uproariously and then Pubescent One said,

"Geez Mom, roadrage much?"

But you see, swearing prevents me from using my vehicle as a weapon. Instead of aiming my two ton blue missile at those who wrong me in a trafficular manner, I just swear. I feel better, and nobody gets hurt. They don't even hear me.

My kids swear too. I know I should be more concerned about it, but honestly, I'm just not. Swearing helps me relieve tension and diffuse stress. It feels good to let one fly when one feels as if they might spontaneously combust at any moment. I firmly believe in the therapeutic properties of the f word. And I would much rather one of them let go with some good old fashioned imprecation than punch someone or knock over a liquore store.

I really take issue more with words like "retard" and "idiot" and "fatso". Words that demean and demoralize are of far more concern to me than the words that have been arbitrarily assigned the power of taboo.

Now...language is a barometer. I understand that. If you go around using speech peppered with profanity, people assume things about your character. And, injudicious use of profanity can occlude the meaning and intent of our words. Nobody wants that.

I don't use profanity in social or professional situations. I take great care to ascertain whether casual acquaintances will be offended before offering even the tamest curse word. And when I have something really important to say, I don't muddle my message with misplaced invective.

I've explained all that to my children, and really, I think they understand. But sometimes a life lesson is much more salient that wisdom imparted by dear old Mom. Diminutive One found out the hard way last year when he let fly with a particularly offensive tidbit in the lunchroom. Funny, but offensive.

It's a mistake he has not repeated.

So anyway...

Language is what we make of it. I think, if we forbid these words, we give them too much power. Language, as a tool, is cathartic. And swear words are just words. They don't really hurt anybody. I find it strange and ironic that we don't get nearly as outraged by words that truly wound.

My son was treated like a criminal when he said "suck my balls". (In case you are unfamiliar with the circumstances of that particular incident, you can read about it here.) But a classmate who called him a fatso was only asked to issue an apology. There were no punitive repercussions.

Does that strike anybody else as just a little fucked up?

Yesterday, I was pre-menstrual and felt a migraine looming. Pubescent One was hormonal in an entirely different way.

Volatile combination, that.

Finally, I exploded.

"You've been a giant asshole ever since you walked in the door and I'm SICK of it!!"

"I have NOT been an ASSHOLE! You're yelling at me for everything!!"

He was being an asshole, but to be fair, I was yelling at him for everything.

Later, when we had both calmed down, he came to me.

"I'm sorry I was an asshole."

"I'm sorry I was a bitch."

"You said it, I didn't."

"I know."

We hugged and everything was fine.

Some of you might think it's terrible that I called my son an asshole. But he was, and he knew it. And I was being a bitch. And I knew it. I guess in this house we just believe in calling a spade a spade.

Now, if I had called him a moron, or a retard, I would not dispute the damage done to his morale and his psyche. Because those words imply some kind of inherent deficit. Some kind of wrongness. Some question regarding worth and value.

But assholishness and bitchiness are issues of free will. One can choose to be an asshole. One can choose to be a bitch. Or not to, as the case may be.

Words. They have power. But it's all about how we empower ourselves by the way we use them or don't use them.

It's up to us, bitches.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'm Going To Miss Them

These kids...they've stolen my heart. That's a very timeworn phrase, but I really can't think of a better way to put it. And their Moms have earned my undying respect.

Tonight was the last ballgame until Spring, and we will not likely see them over the winter. They live in a different part of town, and a different school district. The Moms both work full time.

It made me sad.

So I made the most of it. I cuddled the baby and tickled her tummy and twirled her around and around, though my arms and back ached with the weight of her. When I finally stopped, she put her hands in the air, beckoning, and chirped, "MOH!" I didn't have the heart to deny her. She's been denied so much.

I asked the five year old if we could trade hair, because I've always longed for blonde hair like hers. And I have. I was an awkward young girl with brown hair and green eyes and freckles. I wanted so badly to be blonde and blue-eyed.

This child's hair is like spun gold. Cornsilk. Every analogy and metaphor you've ever heard for blonde hair applies to her floating, shimmering locks.

She replied, very somberly stroking my straight auburn hair..."But I like your hair. It's very, very smooth."

We discuss babies a lot, the Moms and I. They know I long for another baby. They know Husband is reluctant. Reluctant? No, that's not the right word. Completely and thoroughly OPPOSED, would be more like it.

They tease him about it, good naturedly. Overhearing, the five year old said,

"Why don't you adopt a baby? There are lots of babies and five year old girls who need Mommies."

And then she reached into my chest, took out my still beating heart, and wrung it to a shuddering, stuttering stop when she said...

"When I'm a grown up lady, I'm going to adopt a baby every single day. Maybe then there won't be any more babies without Mommies. Or big kids either."


Did I mention I'm going to miss them?

To those who've mentioned it...I did extend an offer to babysit. They've taken on three kids and I know they're still struggling to find their balance as parents. And the kids, sweet as they are, have issues resulting from the neglect they experienced. It's going to take a lot of time and effort to help them work through those things. So the Moms are tired. Happy, but tired. All parents need a break, but I think it's especially necessary for them.'s out there. I hope they take me up on it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Quick and Easy Geriatry

1 cheesy '80's romance movie.

1 child who was not alive when said movie was made.

10 years of living in a push button technological era.

Combine. Wait for child to make comment. Let comment sink in. Slowly curl into fetal position.

So...I happened to catch Sleepless In Seattle while flipping aimlessly in search of something interesting to watch. Yes, it's the cheesiest, sappiest, gratuitously tear jerkiest movie ever to come out of the eighties, but I forgive it and love it all the more for it.

Diminutive One wandered in and sat down to watch with me. Why, I don't know. I suspect he has a romantic streak, but he would never admit to it.

During one scene, plucky Meg Ryan (Annie Reed) is sitting at a typewriter, trying to compose a letter to Tom Hanks (Sam Baldwin). Frustrated with her efforts, she rips the paper out of the machine, balls it up, and tosses it over her shoulder.

Diminutive One turned to me with his freckled little nose crinkled in confusion and said,

"What is that thing? Doesn't it have a delete key?"

I guess I'll just give up now. There's no point coloring my hair and plucking my chin hairs and slathering my face with lotions and potions.

Because I will always have my children upon whom to rely for such innocent, but salient reminders of the fact that I, like typewriters, am becoming obsolete.

Once, they were sleek and sexy and coveted. Now, they are relics. Clunky, inefficient, and mostly...forgotten in basements and attics across America.

SIGH. I know how they feel.

(This is the exact typewriter that I received for my 13th birthday. I was thrilled to bits. I wonder where it is now. Probably in the basement. Or the attic.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

What Moms Are For

It was late. Too late for either of us to be awake.

But we tossed and turned in separate rooms for different reasons. Finally, he rose from his bed and crept into mine, filling the space beside me in a way he never used to.

He used to get lost in my bed, almost invisible beneath the voluminious comforter. Only the warmth of his body and the reassuring whisper of his steady breathing told me he was there.

Now, his legs extend farther towards the footboard than my own, and his knees and elbows knock against each other as he tries not to invade my space.

He wanted to talk.

He used to seek my bed as a refuge from nightmares and boogeymen; imagined things I could banish easily with just my presence.

Now, he seeks my bed for far more complicated reasons. I don't always have the answers he needs, and a hug is no longer a surefire cure for his broken heart.

But I try. It's all I can do.

So when he folded his body into the bed, I knew why he had come.

We talked about a lot of things and some of it was really tough stuff. I can't share it with you here, because it would be a violation of the trust he placed in me. But someday, you'll know what it is to be faced with problems that have no clear cut solutions. You'll know what it is to feel inadequate in the face of your child's trust.

But I can share this...

"There's one more thing I want to tell you Mom. But I'm not sure I can."

I can't even describe to you what goes through a mother's mind when her adolescent child says something like that. Fear. Just cold, sharp, unadulterated fear.

"When you're ready, babe. You know I'm here to listen."

There was silence then as he wrestled with himself. I resisted the impulse to fill that silence with leading questions. I simply waited.

He turned to me then, and though I couldn't see it, I could sense the bashful grin that adorned his face.

"I told her that I love her."

and then...

"She's the first one."

I think my heart broke a little bit just then. Some other woman had claimed my son's heart and now, it will never be completely mine again. But there was relief as well. No sinister confession, no terrible secret, no tearful unburdening. For now.

I grabbed his hand, now larger than mine, and squeezed it.

"Oh, babe...first love is so special. You'll always remember it."

"I sure hope so." he said.

He left me shortly after that, light and unburdened.

And I?

I laid there awake for a very long time.

Once it was us, experiencing the bashful delight of first love. The hope of reciprocity. The angst of rejection. Now, their time has come.

In some ways, I'm only too happy to pass the torch. I like the comfort of marriage. The security of familiarity. The easy companionship that comes from lengthy cohabitation.

However, I can't deny that the thought, though fleeting, is there...

Remember that first kiss? That first real love that wasn't puppy love or a a crush? Remember how your heart beat so quickly and your stomach fluttered and you couldn't keep from smiling?

Such sweetness.

I want it back. Just for a moment. Because I didn't savor it nearly enough the first time around.

And sadly, neither will he.

When the time comes, I'll remind him. I'll tell him about that night he stole into my bed and told me he was in love.

A witness. That I can be. That I can do.

Isn't that what Moms are for?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Odd Woman Out

I've never really fit in here.

One would think that after twenty years, I'd be used to this feeling. I am, and I'm not. I am, because every day, in a multitude of ways, the fact that I don't belong here is made painfully clear.

I'm not, because it never becomes easy to be the one on the outside looking in. It's a perspective with which I am familiar, but not entirely comfortable.

I tried, when my children were small, to fit into the myriad groups that women join to stave off the isolation and monotony of caring for a home and small children. It was fun, at first. I didn't care what was being talked about, as long as someone was talking.

But of course, chit chat grows stale fairly quickly, and it's only natural that topics become more substantial as people get to know one another.

And that's when the trouble usually begins.

Time after time, in group after group, the cycle would repeat itself. I wore a groove in my tongue from the constant pressure of my teeth firmly clamped down upon it.

I am an agnostic, with strong anti-theist tendencies. If I wanted to talk about religion, I would join a bible study. But here in the South, it seems that any social gathering is an acceptable platform for prosyletizing. It simply doesn't occur to people that there might be godless heathens in their midst. It just does not compute.

And I can't tell you how many times I've felt that sick, sinking feeling in my stomach as the topic turned from diaper rash to religion. And of course, those deeply committed to their faith often have drastically different idealogy that those espoused by a heretic such as myself. And those idealogies are bandied about freely, without regard to the sensibilities of any others present who might not hold the same views.

I've been forced to listen to intolerance and ignorance spew from the mouths of women I liked, admired and respected; agog and abashed, paralyzed with indignation and indecision.

So I stopped going. I stopped putting myself out there, even in situations that seemed perfectly innocuous, and satisfyingly secular.

I'll admit, I've been lonely.

For a while, my sister was my sanity. But she moved back home with her family, and I lost my best friend; my doppleganger. She and I are very much alike. We've always gotten along great, but that's not to say we haven't had our difference. But when she's pissed, she tells me. She doesn't play games. She doesn't get all passive agressive. She's honest and forthright. She says what she means and she means what she says.

That is astonishingly rare here, and I can't tell you how much I miss her.

Recently, I've begun making an effort once again. Because I realized I was becoming a recluse and a bit of a misanthrope. I've joined this and that, and I've been having a pretty good time. I've been making an effort to embrace the good and ignore the bad. And for the most part, that's working pretty well.

But yesterday...oh boy. Yesterday undermined all the progress I've made in my quest to be more social and to accept the way things are.

I went to a PTSA meeting. I know, it's so cliche. But I have to do something to occupy my mind, and since I am chairing the Arts In Education Committee, It makes me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile.

Honestly I've been enjoying it. This isn't your Mama's PTSA. It's serious business and as such, the women are smart, savvy, and dynamice. I like them.

Everyone brings food, and after the meeting we socialize and munch. Usually, the discussion is fun and lighthearted, but this time, the talk turned much more serious. I don't even remember how it happened. But suddenly, everyone in the room was up in arms about the fact that religion can't be taught in public schools.

WITHOUT EXCEPTION, the women in the rooom agreed that it was a shame teachers weren't allowed to share their religious beliefs and provide religious instruction and guidance to their students.

I take that back. There was an exception. ME. I sat there, stupefied, as usual. Mute with my surprise, that wasn't really surprise, but more like disappointment tempered with sadness.

I kept my mouth shut. I always do.

Shortly after that, the volunteer liaison, who is also a kingergarten teacher, began talking about the new grading system being used at the elementary level. Instead of being strictly percentage based on the conventional grading scale, each student will also be individually evaluated according to a set of standard criteria.

I thought it sounded wonderful. There are so many children who are very, very bright, but don't fit the pre-determined molds that public school insists on squeezing them into. For unconventional learners, such as my Diminutive One, who are fantastically bright, it would mean that their potential is realized and perhaps for the first time, tapped into, nurtured, and valued.

And even "average" kids fall through the cracks. There are issues that go undiscovered and cause them to lag behind. There are small matters that can make a big difference in how a child performs in the classroom. This, I thought, would help identify them.

But I was in the minority, again. I sat and listened to them all complain about how this would pave the way for kids who have no business at the top of the grading curve, make it more difficult to cull the truly deserving from the herd and give them the opportunities they deserve, and impede them by forcing them to adapt to another, dimmer child's pace in the classroom.

The teacher's main concern was how time consuming all of this was going to be.

It was insulting and infuriating and I was, once again, shocked.

I said something this time. Politely, diplomatically, and, I thought, somewhat articulately.

Twelve pairs of eyes regarded me with wide eyed disbelief. Twenty-four hands shuffled papers in front of them. One voice adroitly changed the subject.

Shortly after that I excused myself.

I'm sad about what happened. Because my opinion of them changed, as I'm sure, did theirs of me. Henceforth, my function on the PTSA will be merely an obligation to fulfill. Not a joy. Not a pleasure. Just a chore.

Well, it was good while it lasted.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I can't really rock a body suit the way Christina can, but still, it resonates.

I don't have the mental energy to write anything profound today. Hopefully, we'll be back to your regularly scheduled stupidity soon.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Unlove and Real Moms

Today, I sat in the friendly autumn sunshine watching baseball with the welcome weight of a toddler in my lap.

It's been a long time. And it felt just as good as I remember.

This baby...God she is sweet.

She has wispy blonde hair and enormous brown eyes and a smile that could light up the heavens.

She played pat-a-cake, she pointed to her eyes and nose, she clapped and she went HOO-HOO-HOO (We are the Muckdogs) when we scored a run. Sometimes, confusing baseball with football, she would lift both of her slender/chubby arms straight up in the air.

When she spied the choker I was wearing, she puckered up her little lips and said, "OOOOOOOH". I took it off and put it around her almost neck, which caused her to squeal with delight. She patted it reverently as it nestled against her round little belly. And then she took it off and watched as it reflected beams of sunlight into her own eyes, giggling and blinking as it dazzled her.

Beauty and innocence and goodness personified, sitting in my lap, playing with sunbeams. Jesus. Is there anything more perfect in this world than that?

But the sweetness of her was and is marred by a horrible knowledge.

Before she came to be with the two wonderful women who are now her parents....somebody didn't love her.

Somebody didn't read her stories or tuck her in. Somebody didn't hug her and didn't play this little piggie and didn't push her in the swing until she was dizzy with delight. Somebody didn't blow raspberries on her belly, or get her nose.

Somebody didn't feed her. Somebody didn't take her to the doctor when she was sick. Somebody didn't kiss her boo-boos. Somebody didn't chase the monsters away.

I don't understand it.

I don't understand being given such a gift, and then neglecting to nurture and love it.

I've tried. I really have.

Maybe her mother was a single parent who was overwhelmed by trying to care for three children. Maybe she was afraid and worried and depressed. Maybe she didn't know how to take care of them. Maybe she had nobody to show her what it is to love. Maybe she was never loved herself.

But that just doesn't work, and I find myself consumed with anger at a nameless faceless devil woman.

As I looked at the baby in my lap, and her brother in the field swallowed up by his uniform; belt cinched tight, hat pulled down at just the right angle, and her sister twirling around in a pink ballerina skirt and mickey mouse sun glasses....

All I can think is...HOW DARE SHE. Mother of God, how dare she.

It's impotent, this rage bubbling up inside me. I can do nothing. I can't punish her and I can't make sure she has no more babies to unlove.

All I can do is be thankful that someone figured out these children needed help, and then got it for them. All I can do is be thankful that they are being loved now. In spades.

I know I've written about them before, but the more I get to know them, the more I realize what truly amazing people they are.

Thank you D and B.

Thank you for for all the peanut butter sandwiches you will cut the crusts off of. Thank you for all the stories you will read. The tickling and the worrying you will do. The pictures you will take and the happy tears you will shed. Thank you for the laughing and the loving.

Thank you for being, in every way possible, their Moms.

Addendum: In response to a couple of comments I received: Yes, there is more to the situation than I have shared here, or am at liberty to share here. Let's suffice it to say that a competent judge will not terminate parental rights for no reason. But the judge overseeing this case saw fit to remove three children, of varying ages, from their living situation and make sure they could never go back.

Am I judging their mother? Yes, I am. And I don't feel proud of that. But it's beyond me right now. And that's why I write about these things; to work through them, to make sense of things that make no sense. And maybe, now that I've gotten it out there, I can let it go. Thanks for the comments. They are insightful and sensitive and kind, as always. And they do help.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


In 2005, I lost 60 lbs.

When I was heavy, I sort of felt like I was walking around in somebody else's body, and looking at somebody else's face in the mirror. I felt tired and weak and...schlumpy. I know that's not a word, but it fits so I'm going with it.

I lost the weight not by dieting, but with consistent exercise. I know, we all hate the "e" word. Believe me, I hate it as much as the next person. But I knew I wasn't going to be successful through dieting. I just don't have the patience for counting and pointing and....depriving.

I've never really been good at self denial. Why I'm not a 400 pound chain smoking alchoholic crack addict prostitute living in a house with 18 cats stacked to the ceiling with boxes from Home Shopping Network is anybody's guess.

So I made a few small changes. I made a point to eat breakfast, cut out soda, replaced good fats with bad fats and practiced portion control.

And I exercised. The funny thing about exercise is that at first, you hate it. I mean really hate it. I used to spend the entire time I was working out, wishing I didn't have to work out.

But I stuck with it, because I was tired of back fat and bat wings.

And along the way, I began to feel strong. That is a GOOD feeling. It kept me going for almost a year. I was, if not exactly svelte, toned and non-jiggly. I had some muscle definition and I had endurance and I was ROCKIN' some blue jeans for the first time in years.

I felt attractive and healthy.

And then I quit working out.

What an idiot. After all that work, I quit because I was satisfied with how I looked and felt. The logical thing would have been to create a maintenance program and make it a part of my life. But no. Not me. I just quit altogether.


I did that twice. Lost it, regained it, lost it, regained it. How ridiculous.

So here I am fat again.

I'm not like, morbidly obese, as you can see from my picture. But sometimes I have to undo the button on my pants when I sit down, my butt fat moves independantly of my body when I walk too vigorously and when I wave or clap, the momentum of my arm flab sometimes knocks me off balance.

All that is bad, but you know what's really bothering me? My erm ...oh hell, let's just dispense with the euphemisms, my pubic mound is drooping from the weight and pressure of the belly flab directly above it. Gross.

I just turned 39. I've made my peace with my age for the most part, but I think 40 is going to be tough...IF, I'm not feeling good about my physical state. I have 11 months to whip my ass back into shape.

I'm not deluding myself. I'm fairly short (5' 3.5") and short waisted as well. I had a baby that weighed almost 10 lbs at birth. My abdomen has been severely traumatized and no amount of crunches are going to give me a six pack. Nothing can take away the stretch marks. And Pilates can't shrink bone mass, which means these hips? Are here to stay.

But I want to feel good again. I want to feel like I can conquer the world. And I want to feel attractive.

A couple summers ago, we went crabbing on our vacation. The barrier island we were taken to was uninhabited, so the only restroom was on the boat. The boat was banked directly on the beach, accessible by a gangplank, which was out, but not fully extended. See Exhibit A.

Exhibit A

(If you look closely, you can see the gangplank off the bow of the boat)

I approached the boat, and the guide hastened over to finish lowering the gangplank for me, expecting that I would not be able to step up that high. But before he could get there, I mounted the gangplank easily without using my hands. I simply stepped, and let my muscles do the rest. And they did, easily. I turned to tell him thanks anyway, and was gratified to see that he was impressed.

This fit, young, twenty something guy was impressed. With me. My strength. My fitness.

Goddamn but that felt good.

I want to feel that again.

So I've started excercising again. I know to start slowly and build up my endurance. I've been frustrated, because I'm essentially starting all over again. I used to walk 5 miles easily and do 45 minutes of Pilates without breaking a sweat. And I didn't wake up aching in every joint and muscle.

I used to be strong. And now I'm not.

But I'm motivated and I'm sticking with it.

Yesterday? I walked 5 miles.

The place that I walk is awesome. It's a nicely paved trail in a beautiful park. But it's not an easy walk. In fact, it's pretty challenging. There are plenty of slopes and hills to work you really hard. I had to stop after 3 miles because my right foot was completely numb. So I sat for five minutes, let the feeling come back, and did the other two.

(I've found out that walking in running shoes is bad. It puts too much pressure on the forefoot, which is causing the numbness. Essentially, it's like walking uphill. Walking and running shoes are made differently to account for the difference in stride. So, I need to get some walking shoes.)

I couldn't believe how pleased I was with myself. I was so invigorated. Exhilirated. And proud. Damn proud.

My body is beginning to remember. My body is responding to my efforts.

I can't wait to be strong again.

And I can't wait to impress some other fit young twenty something.

I'm tired of not being looked at like a woman. I want to see admiration in the eyes of a man when he looks at me. Becuase my time for that is growing to a close, and I want it back for just a little while.

Is that so wrong?

I suppose it is. It's very shallow and vain and superficial. But I don't care. Whatever keeps me motivated.

So I walked 5 miles. And today, I'm going to do it again. Can you believe I'm actually looking forward to getting out there and walking?

I think I'm on my way.

YAY me.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Terrible Twos? Puh.

Our house is kind of the neighborhood hang out house. Why, I have no idea.

Our house isn't the biggest or nicest. We don't have the coolest stuff or the biggest tv. Our cupboards are not stocked with lots of yummy junk food, and if they were, they would be locked up tight because I can't afford to feed my own teenaged son, much the less everyone else's.

I am so notoriously stingy that the kids who hang out here bring their own drinks and snacks. The empty ziploc bags, cheez-it cartons and Gatorade bottles perpetually litter my front lawn.

Perhaps it's as simple as the fact that we tolerate them.

The point is, at any given time, there are likely to be at least one or two extra warm bodies roaming around our house.

I try to be mindful of this. I don't wander around in my underwear. I always wear a bra. I make an effort to comb my hair, wash my face, and brush my teeth. Most days. And probably 5 days out of 7, I even have make-up on.

But Saturday was a rare exception. We found ourselves ensconced in the living room, ready to watch our weekly family movie, with only our own offspring in attendance.

WHAT? No impossibly long and knobby limbs scattered upon my living room floor? No testosterone fueled arm wrestling? No dueling farts? No teenaged boy funk permeating the air?

Ah. Bliss.

So we watched the movie, some silly Jackie Chan thing in which I really had no interest, but which the boys (including the 42 year old boy) found wholly engaging, and after which, the boys disappeared upstairs to fritter away their weekend video game allotment(s).

Husband and I went upstair to...ummm...bed. Yeah.

Now listen, when you have teenaged kids, you really have to just get over any heebie jeebies you have about having sex when they're around. At least, you do if you actually care about having sex while you're still young enough to enjoy it.

I'll admit, it used to skeeve me out to have sex knowing they were conscious. It just seemed so wrong. And then came the awareness that I so dreaded, which made it even worse.

One Saturday evening, as we were all preparing for bed, Pubescent One asked if he could snuggle with me. Even though Pubescent One is too cool to acknowledge my existence in public, and Diminutive One doesn't want me to touch him if anyone is looking, they still enjoy curling up in bed with their Mommy.

Husband and I had plans, however, and I had to decline.

"Whhhyyyyyyyy?" he whined.

"Because I'm snuggling with Dad tonight." I said, naievely thinking that this explanation would be taken at face value.

"Well can I after?" he asked hopefully.

"After WHAT?" I demanded.

"After you know...snuggle."

We did not have sex that night. I just couldn't. My children knew we were having sex and that sucked the libidinous wind right out of my sails.

But I got over it. Self enforced deprivation will do that to you.

They know what we're doing when the door is closed. I'm not sure if this is scarring them for life, or creating a healthy attitude about sex as a normal and non-shameful part of a happy marriage.

Whichever the case, the jig is up and we all just have to make the best of it.

Usually, they respect the closed door. Sometimes they do not.

And sometimes, they use the closed door as carte blanche to do stuff they would otherwise not be permitted to do, knowing full well we will be engaged within for an indeterminate period of time, but one sufficiently lengthy enough for them to perpetrate any number of misdeeds.

So anyway.

Saturday night we took advantage of the quiet to close the door.

We emerged an hour later, more or less, to find that Pubescent One's room, mere feet from our own, was once again host to more than just our own children.

It had been after ten o'clock when we went up. This would normally be too late for people to be invited in. And, though kids constantly come and go from our house, after a certain hour, permission is needed.

Not to mention the fact, that Pubescent One knew what we were doing. And still he invited people in.

So let me just go over that for you one more time....My thirteen year old son invited people up into his bedroom knowing full well his parents were having sex in the room next to his.

Misdeed, indeed.

When confronted about what he had done, he was completely ignorant as to why this was inappropriate, inconsiderate, and just plain rude. He honestly had no idea why we were so upset.

He never once thought about the fact that we might like and deserve some privacy in our own home. Or, that while we are open and frank with them, we don't need everyone else to know the intimate details of our sex life. Or that his friend's parents might not appreciate us bumping uglies while their children are right down the hall.

He was...get this, annoyed that we sent his friends home, and annoyed that we embarassed him.

You know...realistically, I understand that when they're gone and the house is empty...I'll miss them. I know empty nest syndrome will likely hit me very hard.

But right now, it's hard to conceive of doing anything other than a dance of jubilation.


In the kitchen.

Friday, October 03, 2008

What Price, Ambiance?

We are a middle class family. We live on one income.

Sometimes, we do quite well. Other times, depending upon various disasters that might strike; car broke down, cat needed surgery, the water heater blew up....we eat nutritionally bereft boxed food the last couple days until payday.

Needless to say, we do not spend lavishly. Or at least not unless we've budgeted for it and cut corners elsewhere. Or, we experience some kind of financial windfall, which has happened exactly once. Ah, the memories. We took a killer vacation, the likes of which we won't see for some time to come.

But there are some things about which I am uncompromising. One of those things is hair care.

My Mom was a "cosmetologist" for 40 years. She taught me that you get what you pay for when it comes to products and services in regard to all things hair.

She told me that $12 chain salons are the dumping grounds for those freshly graduated from beauty school, and those too inept to pass muster in a real salon. A risky prospect either way.

I learned the hard way after leaving home and moving too far away to prevail upon her skills, that she was absolutely correct.

Other things she told me that I ignored only to later learn that mother really does know best:

~You don't need to wash your hair every day. It strips the natural oils and leads to dry brittle hair that will break and frizz.

~Don't perm and color. Choose one. Doing both will cause a very scarecrow-esque effect.

~Don't use heat implements every day. See above.

~Don't use cheap shampoo. They are full of oils and fillers that will build up and dull your hair.

~Always tip a good stylist. If you don't, she will mysteriously be unavailable every time you try to make an appointment.

~If you're not happy, go back. Either make them fix it, or demand a refund. Hair is serious business, and a salon needs to know if one of their stylists is consistently making customers unhappy.

~It's worth it to pay more for a stylist who understands your hair and who will be honest about what works and what looks good.

It's advice that has served me well over the years. Truthfully, I'm very vain about my hair. It's thick and shiny, and though I wish it weren't so stick straight, I consider it one of my greatest assets.

Now that I've learned to love my hair as it is and have embraced a style that works with my hair type instead of trying to wrestle it into something it's not...I'm happy with it.

The problem is, I've become a bit of a salon snob.

Because my hair is so very, very straight, (see profile pic) I need a razor cut. If my hair is cut with a shears; regardless of the skill with which it is wielded, every little snip shows, and I look as if someone went at me with a machete. It's hard to find someone who can do a good razor cut, and usually, these holy grail stylists can only be found at high end salons.

So that's where I've been going for the past five years or so. I found a lovely little Day Spa near my house, and a stylist there who is more than just a stylist...she's an artiste. Truly.

And also...the ambiance is amazing.

They don't allow children under twelve. I feel for those of you with little ones, I really do. But it makes the place so very, very quiet. That is something that cannot be said of my own home. It is tastefully decorated in soothing tones. Again, not something that applies to my home, which is still sporting wallpaper circa 1985. Teal is not a hue that inspires tranquility. Particularly when paired with Pepto Bismol pink.

At this salon, someone serves me a beverage of my choosing while I wait, out of a crystal goblet. The chairs in the waiting area are big and plush, and there is a plethora of current magazines. On a nearby buffet table is an assortment of expensive looking confections, beautifully arranged on a china platter. The napkins are linen.

Unfortunately, at $55 for a simple wash and cut, ($15 more if you want a blow dry and style, which I usually don't, but would be nice once in a while) I cannot afford to go there more often than every six months or so. Since I wear my hair chin length, and because my hair grows ridiculously fast, that means I am left looking somewhat begraddled for approximately four and a half months.

I haven't had my hair cut since May, and this week, I have cursed a blue steak every single day as I tried to tame my long, thick, and now decidedly unruly mop into some semblance of a style, before resorting to an untidy and unflattering updo, secured by a plastic clip.

Something had to be done, fast.

But we are b to the r to the o.k.e. thanks to the cost of gas, husband's ridiculous commute, and some home improvement expenses, which, though less than we feared, still put a strain on our already tight budget.

I bit the bullett and went to Great Clips.

There were three stylists, and I hoped like crazy that I would get the gay guy. Say what you will about stereotypes, but gay guys are always the very best hairdressers. I don't know why. They just are.

Unfortunately for me, it was senior day, and apparently, the gay guy was the only one who knew how to do an old fashioned wash, set and comb out. The blue hairs were lined up patiently waiting for his attendance. I've never seen so many pairs of sup hose and orthotic shoes in my life.

I just knew I was going to get the gal with the stringy, mousy brown girl mullet, and sure enough, I did. I don't mind telling you, I was nervous.

That's another thing my Mom taught me. Never go to a stylist whose own hair looks atrocious. Her words were ringing in my ears as the woman swathed me in vinyl and inquired as to what I wanted.


I was screaming, but nobody could hear me.

Instead, I politely told her,

"I wear it chin length, slightly stacked in the back, angled forward just a little bit."

She nodded and got down to business.

When she picked up a traditional hair cutting shears, I cringed.

But as I watched her, I figured out pretty quickly that she knew what she was doing. She was quick and sure and competent. She pulled pieces forward to check for levelness. She parted this way and that to ensure a symetrical cut. She criticized my beloved artiste's work, by puzzling over some layers that were uneven and unnecessary.

"Did she part your hair on the side when she cut it?" she asked, frowning.

I really had no idea. I had been too busy sipping Dr. Pepper out of a Mikasa goblet and nibbling ladyfingers, wholly entrusting the integrity of my head to the artiste.

"Well she must not have. These layers are completely uneven. But if I part your hair in the middle, they match up."

What? My expensive, chi-chi artiste had ERRED? Unthinkable.

"They really don't make sense either, since all of your structure is in the back and the front needs fluidity. I don't know why she would have put them here."

Why indeed, oh artiste.

When she was finished, I was, quite frankly, astounded. The cut was PERFECT. Not too long, not too short. The stacking in the back was shapely, but not too obvious. The angle sloped gently toward my face, giving my hair motion without being too severe.

And all that for fourteen bucks. Fourteen. Bucks.

Now, nobody served me anything. There wasn't even a water fountain. The chairs in the waiting area were melamine, and the decor was very...industrial, and, erm...budget conscious. This trip was not a treat for the senses.

But I got a killer haircut for fourteen bucks!

I gave her a big fat tip. Oh yes I did. Cause I'm no dummy. And even then, it was less than half what I paid at the other place.

Sometimes, you get what you pay for and then some.

Who needs ambiance anyway?

Also, a big thanks to Mrs. Chicky for nominating this post for an ROFL Award. I'm not consistently funny. I wish I was. So I consider this a real feather in my cap.

Sept '08 ROFL

Click the button to check out all the nominees. That's some funny stuff right there, I don't care who y'are.