Blogs Are Stupid

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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


On Christmas Eve, a wonderufl woman lost her life. She was murdered; shot through the heart and left to die alone.

There are plenty of questions, but no answers.

The only thing I know, is that one of the kindest, most giving people I ever knew is gone.

And the only thing I can think of is the last hug we shared. If I had known it was the last one, I would have held on a little longer. Maybe I wouldn't have let her go at all.

She was a rare person, full of goodness and spirit and fun. She thought of others first, always.

All she wanted in return was to be loved.

And she was.

She leaves behind two beautiful girls who were her entire world. She adored them, and they adored her. She had tons of friends who knew what a very special person she was.

I'm proud to be among them.

Lisbeth, my dear friend, I can't believe you are really gone. I can't believe you died so horribly. I can't believe your sweet girls will have to grow up without you.

It's not fair, goddammit. You did not deserve to die.

I hope whomever is to blame is tormented body and soul for what they did to you. Aand don't you worry about that my dear...we all have our suspicions and I know deep in my heart that justice will be served. Maybe not now, but someday.

I'm sick. I'm sad.

And words...they fail me. Forgive me. Maybe someday I can say all the things that I'm feeling about you, your life, our friendship. But for now, I'm too broken to say all the things that are in my heart.

Rest in peace friend.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

For My Child And Your Child Too

Tonight is Christmas Eve for the Antagonist family.

We travel on the 25th, so we celebrate early to give our kids at least one day to enjoy their booty.

Last year was the first year we tried that, and it was amazing. Our trip is normally upwards of 18 hours, depending upon the number of potty stops and the number of irresistable roadside distractions, er, I mean, attractions.

"What's an Emporium Mom?"

"Why doesn't that building have any windows?"

"LOOK! That silo looks like an ear of CORN!"

We have to go through Chattanooga, Nashville, Louisville, Indianapolis, Chicago and Milkwaukee, all of which have the potential to hang us up for hours on end in a snarl of holiday traffic.

Chicago is particularly bad. We used to go through the city so we could see the sights, but after one four hour delay, during which a tractor trailer burned merrily mere feet from our vehicle, we learned to take the tri-state tollway instead.

On Christmas day, however, we sailed through all the big cities without even breaking the cruise control. Our trip was cut down by at least five hours.

The drawback to this strategy, is that NOTHING is open except Waffle House. Nothing. I expected that our choices in dining would be limited, but I assumed, wrongly, that businesses who cater to interstate travellers would be open.

We stopped in Kentucky around 1:00, starving, and in desperate need to be out of the van for a while. To our surprise, there was simply nowhere to eat. Everything was closed up tight. We moved on to the next exit, hoping to find something there.

"Look, there's a McDonald's at this exit. Surely McDonald's will be open." Husband said confidently.

I wasn't so sure.

"You're right! It's open, look at all those cars in the parking lot." I said.

But, further investigation revealed that the cars in the parking lot were overflow from the Waffle House next door, at which, people stood inside and out, waiting for a table.

Standing room only at Waffle House, people.

We waited for an hour to eat during which other hungry patrons eyed us pointedly. The message was clear....linger at our own peril.

But mostly, the mood was jolly. People laughed about having to wait for a table at Waffle House. The few chairs available for waiting were graciously given to elderly folks. People asked one another where they were from and where they were headed. I saw people leaving ten and twenty dollar tips for the harried but unfailingly cheerful wait staff.

Husband and the boys all sported Georgia apparel; gifts received from the in-laws the weekend before.

"Bet ya'll will be glad to get home to some warmer weather, won't you?" asked one gentelman.

"Actually..." said Husband, "We're headed the opposite direction. We're going to Wisconsin."

"WES-consin! That's a hell of a long drive!"

"Yessir, it sure is."

"Well, ya'll be careful, now. I hear they got some bad weather up that way."

"Yessir, we will. We've got emergency supplies in the van."

"Have a nice visit then"

"Thank you. Have a safe trip yourself."

"Will do." said the gentleman, and then tipped his baseball cap at me and the boys.

Though frustrated by the time lost, the stop turned out to be a heartwarming experience.

This year, I'll pack sandwiches and munchies to stave off hunger until we get to Chicago, where we can hit one of about 27 Oases on the tollway. The boys love to stop at the Oases.

They are a conglomeration of eating establishments situated directly above the interestate. The boys like to sit at the long counter that runs the length of the floor to ceiling window and watch the cars whizzing along below them. Their feet seem to dangle in thin air above the rushing traffic. It makes me a little dizzy, but they love it. I guess it's a kid thing.

So anyway.

This will be my last post this year.

I'm anxious to see my family and my brand new niece, who was actually due on Christmas Day, but whom decided to frustrate her aunt by arriving three weeks early. The boys are anxious to get out in the snow. They are determined to learn how to snow board this visit.

I'll leave you with this. It's another of my favorites. It means something to me and maybe it will mean something to you too.

"Every child must be made aware. Every child must be made to care."


I won't say Merry Christmas. Instead I'll wish you all Peace.

See you on the Flip Side.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Yesterday, I braved a store I avoid assiduously every other day of the year. AND, I braved it three days before Christmas. I should be given a purple heart. Can you guess?

Yes, Wal-Mart.

Now, there is no ethical or philosophical opposition that behooves me to avoid said establishment. I know their prices are cheaper because they use sweat shop labor and employ toddlers and do all sorts of shady things like making bedclothes out of asbestos and human waste.

I know corporate giants such as they have made the Mom and Pops and the Family Owned businesses all but extinct.

And I know I should care about that.

But really the reasons I avoid Wal-Mart are simpler and much more self-serving.

In a nutshell, their service sucks.

They never have enough cashiers. They are always sold out of the thing that I need, regardless of what that thing is. It irks me to have to hike five miles to the other side of the store with a fully laden cart when I forget q-tips or cat food.

But most of all....the people who shop there give me the willies.

Nonetheless, I went today, because frankly, I'm desperate.

I ended up with an unequal number of packages. If you have more than one child, you know that this is an invitation to jettison your retirement income paying for family therapy.

I was in Sporting Goods contemplating my choices.

Suddenly, a woman swept past me on a current of cigarette smoke and a cloud of White Diamonds. She was moving quickly and I looked, wondering if there was some kind of emergency afoot. Most of us Moms only move that fast when we are trying to avert certain disaster, right?

I thought maybe a gun rack or a duck blind had fallen on top of a small child.

But no. She was just well and truly pissed off.

"That mo-ron just snaytched a basketbawl raht outta Joonyer's hands!"

"Whut? Wha cayn't he lookit a bawl?"

"That's whut I wannna know. And I wanna know wha that aysshole thanks he can lay his hands on MA chiled."

"He better not hayav. I'll kick his muhfuckin ayss."

"He DID! He tol' Joonyer he coon't do that and just snaytched it away."

"Well wha can't he lookit a bawl? SIR! Why cayn't he lookit a bawl?"

"Sir, he can certainly look at the ball. But he can't bounce it in the store."

"He wun't bouncin' the bawl, was you sun?"

I got the distinct impression that said parents had no idea what, in fact, Joonyer had been doing. I was also quite certain Joonyer had indeed been bouncing the ball.

The child in question managed to look innocent and hangdog all at once.

"No Deddy. I wun't."

"Sir, he was bouncing the ball, quite hard, and I asked him to stop several times."

"Well why cayn't he bounce the ball 'en.?"

"Sir, the store is very crowded today. He could injure someone or break something."

"Well howzee sposed to know if it's a qwalty product if'n he don' tra it oyut?"

The sales associate was momentarily taken aback by the stupidity and pointlessness of this man's argument. I saw him mentally ticking off possibilities available to him at this point.

He opted for sarcasm.

"Sir, all of our balls are rigorously tested and come with a satisfaction gaurantee."

I had to smother a snort and a large black gentleman perusing free weights shook with supressed laughter.

"Well goo-."

He stopped, considering. He didn't immediately understand that he was being made the butt of a joke, but eventually, realization dawned, and his florid face became an even deeper and somewhat alarming shade of red.

"I guess you thank 'at's purty funny, doncha smartayss?"

"Have a Merry Christmas, Sir."

"Up yours aysshole."

Blown up with indignation, the man strutted away like a banty rooster, muttering loudly about poor customer service.

The sales associate turned to another empoyee and said,

"Dude, I'm going to take my break before I kill someone."

To all the retail employees...hang in there. Just a few more days of madness to endure. Just a few more rednecks to suffer.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Good Will Toward Men

Things you have never heard me say here on Blogs Are Stupid.

"Blogging is great, but what I really love to do is GAMBLE."

"I would really like it if I could increase my ejaculatory distance."

"I sure wish I knew where to find cheap illicit drugs from a questionable source."

"If only someone would contact me with a bogus inheritance scheme."

"It's just so frustrating trying to find likemined singles in my area!"

"Life would be so much easier if I had a counterfeit college degree."

"I just can't satisfy my partner with such a small penis."

"Forget love, I just want to meet a millionaire."

And yet, I receive daily offers for all those things. AND, I am routinely solicited to put ads for such on my blog. Does that make any kind of sense to you?

Maybe I'm monumentally stupid or perhaps just naieve, but I fail to see how email scams like this make any money. I don't know why junk email is even allowed to exist. I don't know how people can be so mercenary and dishonest and greedy. I don't understand how even the most simpleminded person falls for these things.

You know what I want for Christmas? And end to spam, scams, schemes and dishonesty.

Whaddya say fraudsters?

How about giving the world a gift?

All I want for Christmas is an empty mail box. An empty mail box.....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Bring It On Myself, I Really Do

While I am not suffering from a textbook case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I do have distinctly anal rententive tendencies.

One way in which this tendency manifests itself is a disconcerting need for perfection when it comes to certain things. If I can't have that thing perfect, then I don't have it at all. If I can't do that thing perfectly, I don't do it at all.

If I know that not having or doing or being some thing perfectly will stress me out beyond belief, then I avoid it.

I think this is a lot to blame for the fact that I haven't yet become a published author. I find the possibility of failure...of not writing the perfect book, and having the perfect literary career, unacceptable. So I languish in anonymity here on the internet.

Kind of pathetic, really.

Another manifestation is my love of symmetry. You will not find anything in my house that is not balanced or matched. Eclectisism is not a trend that I embrace except when it comes to literature and music, because visual cacophany causes me physical pain. If it is within my power to right the wrong, I do. I can't stand not to.

This amuses my children to no end.

Most of the time, they indulge me. But sometimes, they take great delight in exploiting this characteristic for their own amusement.

Every year, they derive great pleasure from arguing with me about the fact that the candy canes on the tree must all face the same direction. I know. It's stupid. I realize this. But I can't STAND to have them any other way.

"It doesn't matter Mom. Nobody is going to notice that they're not all facing the same direction"

"I'll notice. Please make put them on facing the same direction."

"Yeah Mom, it's not like the universe will implode if they face different ways."

"No, but I might. Just do as I ask, please."

They roll their eyes. They put a few on backwards just to see if I'm going to suffer an apoplexy before their very eyes. They don't get the spectacle of an apoplexy, but they do get a thunderous look and an exasperated sigh. Giggling, they set things to rights.

The other night Husband and I sat in the living room admiring the tree, which, I have to admit, is very pretty, even if it is entirely too large for the space into which it has been wedged.

It has a pleasingly symmetrical shape, which, of course, I find entirely charming. We put all our sentimental ornaments on the tree first, and then fill in with candycanes, dangling golden icicles, and simple red balls.

As a finishing touch, red ribbon cascades from the top in several strategically placed curlicues, topped by a bedraggled (it fell apart after many years of use and I didn't do a very artful job of putting it back together) but satisfactorily matching bow.

It's our tree and it's unlike any other. I sighed, having at last found some measure of joy and contentment amid the chaos and commercialism of a season I have come to dread.

Suddenly, Husband gave a strangled snort.

"What is it?"

"Nothing." Cough

"Well it must be something. What is it?"

"Uh. When's the last time you took a good look at the tree?"

"I look at it every day. Why?"

"No reason."

I gave him the hairy eyeball, to no avail. I sat there, pondering what the big mystery could be, and suddenly, it dawned on me.

"There are backwards candy canes on the tree, aren't there?"

He laughed.

"I'll never tell."

I got up to investigate. Sure enough, there, nestled deeply amongst the innermost branches, were several candy canes, facing the wrong direction.

I did not go all apoplectic. Instead, I found myself smiling.

And I didn't fix them.

Because it's funny. Really, flippin funny. Even if I am the butt of the joke.

Those little....imps.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mean People Suck

Every year, there is some kid that figures out that Diminutive One is an easy target.

He has self-esteem issues stemming from his learning disability. But even more than that, he just hasn't figured out how to do the tit for tat thing that kids do. It baffles him why someone would want to waste their time doing something so petty and pointless as picking on someone else for sheer entertainment value.

And unforunately, despite the many explanations by both husband and I, he just doesn't get that ignoring someone who is trying to get your goat, will get theirs right back.

All of that makes him terribly fun to torment. Poor kid.

Last year we battled non-stop with a sly, sneaky little bastard who was a MASTER at crafting situations where Diminutive One would come out looking like the culprit, while he himself managed to escape any and all blame, having painted himself convincingly as either a hapless victim, a do-gooder, or an innocent bystander.

I am not a violent person, but on more than one occasion, I had to fight the urge to throttle that little fucker with my bare hands.

He is being homeschooled this year, a boon for which I am sure all the 5th grade teachers are breathing a huge sigh of relief and sending up prayers of gratitude.

But of course, the world is populated with kids and adults just like him, and it's no surprise that another class bully has taken his place this year, and is doing his level best to make Diminutive One miserable.

I had no idea anything was amiss and was blithely under the assumption that this year was going more smoothly for him. He hadn't complained, and we hadn't had any mysterious physical ailments necessitating a day home in bed.

It started like this:

"Mom...what's a hypocrite?"

"A hypocrite is someone who says one thing, but does another."

"I need an example."

"Liiiiiiiiiike...say someone tells you that smoking is bad and you shouldn't do it, but then they smoke."



"Tyler keeps calling me a hypocrite."

"Why would he call you that?"

"I have no idea. But I don't like it."

"You're not a hypocrite and I seriously doubt he would know if you were."

Now, Diminutive is a pretty smart cookie, and has a very extensive vocabulary. If he doesn't know the word, I guarantee you most other 5th graders don't either. And then there's the fact that very few 5th graders would recognize hypocrisy for what it is, much less be able to put a name to it. It's not a common thing in the realm of 10 year old life experience.

"Well then why does he keep calling me that??"

"I don't know. Probably just because it bugs you. But I bet he has no idea what that means and if you challenge him to explain it, he won't be able to."

He did and he couldn't. And that was the end of that. But, perhaps predictably, that was simply the impetus for the little knuckle dragger to think of new and even more insidious torments for my son.

Lately, his MO has been to deface all my son's artwork.

Because nature has, for reasons unknown, bestowed upon him an almost preternatural understanding of how to find and exploit weakness. Which, you know, why wouldn't a kid with the heart of a snake need such a skill?

Now, Diminutive One is an artist the way I am a writer. It's not a thing to do, it's who he is. He needs to create. Depriving him of that would be like depriving him of air.

He spends an inordinate amount of time and energy on all his creative outpourings. He gets pleasure and satisfaction from even the smallest creative endeavor.

So recently, Diminutive One came home red-faced, with tears of rage standing in his eyes. The kids had been assigned a project for Thanksgiving; make a card telling your parents why you are thankful for them. Diminutive One's card was beautiful; full of rich detail and embellishments.

As with all his artwork, he put his heart and soul into it. But this was even more special, because it was a labor of love.

He left it unattended to use the restroom and came back to find that his nemesis had crossed out "love" and written "hate" in heavy, lumbering letters that could not be sufficiently erased.

The card was ruined, and with it, Diminutive One's joy.

Because he thought that somehow, this child had hurt me. I assured him he hadn't. I promised him that nothing that child could say or do meant a thing to me, because he was simply not important enough for me to care.

That seemed to mollify him a bit, as did the fact that the other child was grievously punished.

But still the torments continued.

I met the child today, and realization dawned as I watched him interact with the other children in the class.

He is, quite simply, dumb as a box of rocks.

I mean, not mentally challenged, because he would be in Special Ed if he had a significant disability. But he is slow and stupid and unimaginative.

"Weah tawking about three little poants heah. Surely there is something can be dun."

"Is theah a Mister Gump...Mizzuz Gump?"

He's loud and boisterous and boorish. He uses his size and his brashness to make his way in the world.

And he will always be a bully.

He is compensating for everything he is not, and he hates my son for everything that he is.

I had suspected as much, but actually seeing it drove the point home.

During the party, I served food and chatted with the kids.

"Are you Diminutive One's Mom?" he asked.


He regarded me for a moment with dull eyes. He was trying to gauge how much I knew about the goings on between him and Diminutive One. I gave nothing away. I merely smiled and placed a cupcake on his plate.

God help me people, for I am an evil, evil woman. I admit to it now before my audience and before whatever diety is up there judging me.

What did I do? I made sure that during the "musical present" game, the music never stopped while he was holding the gift.

I know...I know...shame on me for picking on a halfwit.

Believe me, I feel just terrible about it.

No, really.

Of course, I didn't let it stop on my own child either, to avoid any suspicion of favoritism. Also, as there were only five gifts to go around, lots of other kids didn't end up with a prize either.

But neither that fact nor the the guilt, I'm sorry to say, kept me from feeling a small measure of perverse satisfaction.

Beause Mean People Suck.

And the only way to fight a bully is by using weapons they do not have in their own arsenal. In this case; wits.

I'm debating about whether I should tell Diminutive One what I did. I really, really shouldn't, but I kind of want to. He needs to know someone is on his side, even if it's only his dumb old Mom.

I wish I could always fight the mean people for him.

Sadly, it won't always be as easy as fucking with some pint sized peabrain.

I think I need to take a meeting with Bill Gates. I bet the other kids were merciless with poor little Billy.

But shit, what better way to get revenge than becoming the richest person in the universe?

Your day is coming my Diminutive One. I promise.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Leave It To Jimmy Stewart

As previously established, I am not a lover of Christmas.

To add to that, some personal issues, which I can't really discuss because there are people involved who did not sign up for having their dirty laundry aired on the internet...have been making me particularly melancholy of late.

I've been doing a lot of pissing and moaning. Maybe not so much here (does one post about how much I hate Christmas count as pissing and moaning?) but my poor husband has had to bear the brunt of my irascibility. And, as he does every year, he endures it with remarkable equanimity.

To be quite honest, he is the harbinger of Christmas cheer in our household. Without judgement or criticism, he somehow manages to facilitate an enormous amount of guilt on my part. He does this by simply possessing a hell of a lot of Christmas Spirit.

The bastard.

His love and enjoyment of Christmas shames me. This of course, is the catalyst for the great yuletide charade that is perpetrated by me each and every year in the name of love.


Anyway...despite being a self confessed humbug, I possess a ridiculous and dichotomous fondess for Christmas movies and programming.

My indisputable favorite is "The Year Without A Santa Clause". You know...the one with the Miser Brothers?

Sing it with me...

"He's Mister Green Christmas, He's Mister Sun. Christmas, He's Mister Heat Blister, He's Mister One Hundred and One." la la la la la la la la "Starts to melt in my clutch. I'm too much!"

I can't help myself. My husband laughs to see me..,green with Grinchitude...tapping my toes and singing "I'm too Much!" at the top of my lungs.

It's a little discomfitting, to tell the truth. But I can't seem to help myself.

I suppose it's the same phenomena that is responsible for the fact that despite being an avowed agnostic with strong anti-theist tendencies, not to mention the aformentioned Grinchitude, I go all moist in the ocular area when I hear this song...

(And what happened then? Who-ville they say, that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day!)


Anyway, The Miser Brothers are in very close competition with Jimmy Stewart for my heart.

Yes, I am one of those schlubs who actually watches "It's A Wonderful Life". All the way through. Every year. And likes it.

The very first scene makes me cry. You know, where all the characters are praying for George, because he's in trouble and he never has a thought for himself?


From there it's just non-stop sniveling.

This movie is old. Sappy. Sentimental. But you know...the message never gets old. It never becomes obsolete or outdated. It still prompts people to realize that...

George Bailey isn't the only one with a wondeful life, populated by wonderful people.

I've been privileged to know a few pretty wonderful folks over the years. They touch me, bouy me, give me hope.

Miss Jimmy
The Lesbian Moms
An Old Acquaintance
A New Acquaintance
A Teacher
A Lost Soul
A Hero
A Dad
A Woman Of Faith
Beautiful Children
A Humanitarian

Unfortunately, sometimes, when I'm immersed in self-pity and if only's, I forget them, and I forget my own good fortune.

Shame on me.

That's why I write. So I don't forget them, and I don't forget the moments of humble perfection in my own life. So I don't forget all the many ways in which I am truly, sincerely, profoundly fortunate. I want to write about them with all the vividness they possessed in that moment. I want to make pictures with my words and then store them away in the gallery of my mind.

I write to remind myself that it really is a wonderful life.

But occasionally, I need reminding to remind myself. Sometimes, I forget to visit the gallery. Sometimes I forget to read my own story.

And that is where Jimmy comes in.

Thanks Dude.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Confessions Of A Maternal Humbug

This season defeats me.

My mother never liked Christmas, though she made a valiant effort to hide that fact. She decorated the house and she made a dazzling array of cakes and candy. But her heart wasn't in it.

When I was a young child, I didn't realize of course. But as I got older, I knew. It wasn't something that was articulated or even fully cemented in my childish mind. It was just an awareness that something was missing. I found it puzzling and sad.

I understand now.

Like my mother, I just don't embrace Christmas with the same enthusiasm that others do.

Because I see it as just one more glaring example of how I fall short of the ideal when it comes to being a model parent.

I don't bake cookies. I don't make candy. I don't do cutesy crafts. I decorate, grudgingly, but I put it off until my kids are afraid Christmas will pass us by altogether.

Why? I really don't know, but I think it's resentment.

Resentment that all of this is on my head. More work, more worry, more stress...all piled on me. Nobody blames the Dad if there aren't Christmas cookies. Nobody blames the Dad if Christmas cards are late. Nobody blames the Dads if the children don't have matching outfits for the family portrait. Nobody blames the Dad if the teachers' gifts are lame, or the class party is a flop.

Nobody blames the Dad for anything.

I'm supposed to make all this happen. I'm supposed to make wonderful and cherished Christmas memories for my children. I alone am responsible for the miracles wrought and Joy to the World and freaking Good Will Toward Men.

It's been this way for like, always, I realize now. The women make it happen and everyone else reaps the benefit of her hard work. They enjoy the fruits of her labor with single minded enthusiasm. It's EASY to be jolly when someone else is doing all the work.

*I* could even be jolly if I had a staff to do all the drugework. And then serve me something hot and frothy while I enjoy the twinkling lights and the festively decked halls.

I guess some Moms find it rewarding to be the engineer of carefully constructed Christmas cheer.

I find that it pisses me off.

And I suppose yuletide apathy is my way of rebelling against the onslaught of expectation.

Perhaps it would be easier if there were some snow. All I see here is the dead landscape, bleak and brown. For a gal who grew up in Wisconsin, Christmas south of the Mason Dixon is a little bit...incongruous.

You know what always cheers me up though? Little House on the Prairie. You know, that one where Laura sells Bunny to buy Ma a stove. Pa wants to buy the same stove, but Laura already bought the only one in Mr. Oleson's store? And then Ma and Mary make Pa a shirt out of the same fabric? So Ma pretends that she didn't get anything for Pa. She surreptitiously pushes he package underneath the Christmas tree skirt. And then...and THEN...Pa makes Laura a saddle for the horse she sold to Nellie. And Ma tries to stop her and Charles says, "It's her horse, Caroline. She has the right." and then Caroline says, "But she LOVES that horse!" and then Charles says, "But she loves YOU more."

Sweet weeping Jesus. Now that's what the fuck Christmas is all about.

Not who has the brightest lights or whose Mom makes the most cookies or who got the teacher the most expensive gift.

My kids are older now. They see. I know they do. I know I can't fake or hide it anymore. I don't want them to think that I resent them. I don't. I would buy them the world if I could. I just don't want to decorate it or bake it cookies.

Is that so wrong?

I don't know. Maybe I just need to quit worrying and do it my way and just be okay with that. Maybe "enough" is just what I make it. And maybe...maybe I should just accept that Christmas isn't for me. Once, I reaped the benefit of all my mother's work and worry and that was my time.

I find it immeasurably sad that I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have.


Well, whatever. I am who I am. Christmas at our house is what it is. It will have to be good enough.

Any of you Christmas freaks want to come decorate my house and bake my kids some cookies?

There's a crisp new blog post in it for ya.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


Yannow, most of the time, I feel pretty young and spry. I don't FEEL 39, and I don't think I look 39. That may be more wishful thinking than anything else, but I think I'm weathering pretty well.

My breasts were never very large, so although I've nursed two children, they're still looking okay. Certainly they're not as perky as they once were, but my nipples still point straight ahead. That's something.

I have no gray hair. My father is 65 and has only recently begun to gray. My grandfather was nearly 90 when he passed away two years ago, and still had more brown than gray. For that I can forgive him the dark circles.

I have an...ample bottom. I've always thought it was too large, even when I was a size 2. Happily, though it's a little more cottage cheesy than I would like, it has stayed put instead of melting down the backs of my thighs.

The chin hairs are annoying, but I can mow, wax or pluck those suckers. The fine lines around my eyes are becoming more noticeable, a little make-up can usually camoflage them to my satisfaction.

So I'm able to deny the fact that I am 10 months away from 40 most of the time.

Occasionally though, I get a little reminder that the old bod is experiencing some wear and tear. It may be the fact that it takes me 3 days to recover when I overindulge. Or that I can't eat spicy foods too close to bedtime anymore, lest I awake thinking I'm having a heart attack. Or even the fact that my uterus makes a valiant attempt to exsanguinate me once a month.

And such was the case yesterday when I put my back out merely walking down the hall.

I got up from the office chair, took about 4 steps and felt something leggo deep in my spinal column. I swear, I heard a SPROING!!!! sound. An excruciating pain shot through me, severe enough to make me cry out. I staggered, and nearly fell. I paused for a moment, asessing my situation, and found that I could not straighten up.

For the last 30 hours or so, I have been completely supine. I can't walk and I can't tolerate any position that compresses my spine even a little. I haven't slept and my head aches from lying down so long.

Ice and Advil seem to be doing little. I have to just wait. Though it's better today than it was yesterday, I'm still not remotely functional.

Ten years ago, I would not have suffered such an injury. Ten years ago, I could suffer through anything and still care for my small children through sheer indomitable will and mind over matter.

Now? I've turned into a big wuss. I no longer suffer through migraines and head colds and back injuries with cheerful determination. Hell no. I take to my bed and whine.

And my whining has now extended to you, my dear readers, who came here today, no doubt expecting something a little more interesting and palatable than one aging Mom type having a big ole pity party for herself.


I guess that's yet another indication that I am growing old; the need to catalog my physical complaints for anyone who will listen.

I feel betrayed by my own body. It once seemed so strong! It grew, birthed and nourished children.

And now? It's seems little more than an aching heap of aging flesh.

Ah well, I suppose that's just my injury talking. Being out of commission makes me grumpy. Reminders of my mortality make me grumpy.

I'll try to do something uplifting tomorrow.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


"Excuse me..."

I spoke to the gray streaked part of a petite blonde woman, who was bent double sweeping debris into a large dustpan. Whe she straightened, she stood only a fraction of an inch taller than the cart next to her, which bristled with an amazing assortment of cleaning implements. She looked up, her friendly blue eyes meeting mine. I was jolted by the strange familiarity of her gaze.

"You need something hon?"

Her voice sent another thrill of recognition up my spine. I knew her. But how? It must have been long ago. I studied her face for a moment, trying to remember.

She had been pretty once. Delicate bones made her face a sweetly curving heart, and her slender nose was slightly upturned, giving her a saucy air. But her skin was lined and seamed with pain or hard living or both. Her teeth were straight, but heavily stained. Her blonde hair was neatly secured with a pretty barette, but was parched and dry from chemical bleaching.

But those eyes, they hadn't changed. Huge and blue, with secrets behind them. I remembered then, that she had always looked tough, acted tough, talked tough. But those eyes, if anyone had cared to look, had a hidden frailty beneath the challenge that they often held.

But still, her identity; her place in my memory eluded me.

"Um, yes, I'm conducting a meeting at 6:00, but the PDR is locked. I hate to bother you, but would you happen to have keys?"

"I don't, but Daryl does. Lemme run find 'im for you."

I thanked her, and watched as her trim figure trotted down the wide gleaming hallway. It was quiet, but still echoed with the vibrant voices of those who roamed it daily. The stillness did not suit, and I shivered a little, chasing away a ghost that had no name.

Who was that woman??

My volunteers arrived and for the next 45 minutes, I forgot to wonder about her. But as I tidied the meeting room, she crept into my thoughts once again.

Who? Who? Who?

People will often say, "It hit me like a bolt of lighting" And you know, it happens just like that sometimes. It happened like that as I stood there thinking about the years before I met and married my husband.

The Mall.

The empty school reminded me of the Mall afterhours. The same wrongess of quiet, the same echoey emptiness that seemed to be waiting. The same complusion to fill it with something; a voice, a footstep, a presence.

And then it all came back. Her name, her pretty, haughty face, her pugnacious tough girl attitude. And the way that toughness melted into a pool of hurt, just for a second, when she realized that he had only wanted the same thing every other guy wanted.

I remembered scolding him for that. How could he be such a....MAN?

"WHAT?" he had protested. "It's not like I forced her. She'll sleep with anybody. Everyone knows that."

And everyone did.

Why did she never say no? I wondered then, and I found myself wondering again. What drives a woman to give herself so cheaply? I don't think most of them ever even bought her dinner.

I sought her out again to let her know I was leaving, and that the room was closed and locked. She smiled and wished me a good evening. I returned the nicety and turned to leave.

But something stopped me, and I turned back.

"I'm look so familiar to me. Your name isn't Brandy, is it?"

Her blue eyes grew wide with surprise.


"You used to work at the Peanut Shack in the Mall."

She was clearly thunderstruck.

"That was a long time ago." she said, bewildered.

"Twenty years, I bet. I worked at the jewelry shop next door."

"And you remember me???"


We regarded each other. It was obvious that life had led us down very different paths. She was only a year or two older than me, but looked easily ten or fifteen years my senior. Time had not been kind to her, nor, I suspected, had life.

"I was pretty wild back then."

It was an apology for not recognizing me. Too much booze, too little sleep. And a parade of people always willing to party. I understood. I chuckled to demonstrate that I hadn't taken offense.

"I know. We all were."

I remembered some of the crazy things we had done in the name of a good time. We hadn't been close friends, but we had partied together more than once. And more than once, we had shown up at work the following day, both bleary eyed and green-gilled, bemoaning our stupidity.

It was clear that more than time separated us now. But we smiled at each other as we recalled our younger selves.

She asked me about my children and I remembered then that she had gotten pregnant one crazy, hazy sultry Southern summer. That's when she disappeared from my life and my memory. There was talk that she had gotten rid of the baby, but nobody really knew for sure where she went or what had happened to her.

She hadn't gotten rid of the baby. I don't know what that cost her; a bad marriage, broken dreams, a life interrupted. The price of that decision was written all over her haggard face. But it lit with pride as she told me that her son had graduated from high school with honors and was going into the military.

"He sounds like a great kid." I said.

"He is." she replied.

I wondered if it was possible that my friend, who had treated her so callously, was the father of that boy. It had been rumored. She hadn't said, and he hadn't asked. But a good many young men had avoided her that summer. It could have been any one of them. Or none of them.

She had work to do. She would be mopping floors and scrubbing toilets while I lounged in my comfortable chair with my feet up.

I told her it had been fun running into her. She returned the sentiment. I left her with her cart and made my way to the front doors, listening to my heels clocking hollowly in the silence.

I felt strange. Sad and old. But also...content. Grateful. And ashamed.

I've been feeling awfully sorry for myself lately. Poor little me, with my lost identity and my stay at home woefulness and my middle class boredom. Poor little me with my fifteen year marriage to a loving, loyal man. Poor little me with my challenging, learning disabled children who have a stable two parent family.

I didn't do anything different or better. I was just luckier.

Because although I had a pretty good head on my shoulders even back then, the capriciousness of youth marks us all with it's disfavor from time to time.

I pushed away the knowledge that I could be the one standing next to that cart, and stepped out into the cold, damp night.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Angels Must Be Smiling Today

I know I am. Because after 2 long months? I have my bathroom back. Yes, the bathroom remodel from hell (is there any other kind?) is finally complete.

Some background:

1997, I set out to redecorate our second bath, which was cheerily wallpapered with dancing teddy bears in primary hues. I had one child; a well behaved tyke who took long naps well into his fifth year.

It was not an unreasonable goal.

It didn't take me long to realize that the former owners, who had an unhealthy love of wallpaper, had apparently put it up over bare drywall and thus, the wretched stuff had become one with the wall itself. I scored and steamed and peeled for eons.

I lost a lot of my enthusiasm long about the third week. The rest of it disappeared when, after SIX coats, I still could not achieve a uniform coat of the fire engine red I had chosen for the bottom half of the wall (to compliment the nautical stencil I planned to use).

Being a new homeowner and a home improvement neophyte, I didn't realize that primer would have solved this problem.

You think somebody might have mentioned it.

About that time, my sister, who had been living in Wyoming with her husband, called to tell me that her husband had gotten the job in Atlanta and they would be moving to town the following week. And by the way, could they stay with us while they looked for a house?

The following week would be spent clearing out the bonus room where they would be staying. There was clearly no way the bathroom would get completed before they arrived. They would just have to use it as is.

Frankly, it was a bit of a relief. I needed a break. I figured after they left I would resume the project with a fresh outlook and renewed enthusiasm.

Six months later, they found a place to live. And shortly before they moved out, I found out I was pregnant with Diminutive One. My pregnancy was hard. And the post pregnancy know...parenting? Has been even harder, as you may know, if you've been reading my blog for any length of time.

As a result, the remodel got put on hold. For ten years.

Now we want to sell the house, and are trying to address some of the more prevailant issues. A persistent leak had caused the subfloor to rot in places and the linoleum to warp and discolor. And it was ugly. If I were a prospective buyer, that bathroom would have sent me shrieking into the night.

I didn't think to take pictures before we began to dismantle, but I do have one taken after we had begun.

Note the quality and craftsmanship of the construction grade vanity. Regretfully, I did not get a picture of the spectacularly cheap and ugly light fixture, so my ecstasy over the new one might seem a little excessive to you. But it's not. Trust me. It's not.

Our goal was to address the plumbing issues and to make it look attractive, without sinking a buttload of money into it. And I think we did really well.

  • Paint, primer and polyurethane: $85

  • Peel n'stick vinyl tile: $30

  • Wall covering: $12

  • New light fixture: $30

  • Hardware (knobs, hinges, toilet tissue holder, doorknob, towel hooks, doorstop): $30

  • Toilet seat: $20

  • Toilet accessories (tank and floor bolts, washers, wax ring): $15

  • Assorted caulks and compounds: $20

  • New baseboards and quarter round: $15

  • New subfloor and new toilet flange installed: $200

The chair rail was purchased ten years ago for the first remodel and never used. The shower curtain and accessories I bought six months ago on sale at Wal-Mart. I guess I should include that in the total, but I'm not.

The toilet was disgusting, and I wanted to ditch it. But husband was insistent that it was in good shape and just needed a good detailing. He was right. It looks brand new.

The vanity was terribly ugly, but essentially sound, so we decided not to replace it. A little paint and new hardware does wonders, as you will see.

So, for a grand total of $457, this is what we accomplished:

(click images for larger view.)

(I included this picture because in the upper left hand corner you can see the rope detail that made in absolutely insane. I tend to be a perfectionist, you see, and sloppiness can be my mental undoing)

Now, sharing my bathroom with two boys, if you don't have boys, is truly disgusting. I haven't cleaned it since we started because there is simply no point. The boys are sick of having to walk downstairs to pee in the middle of the night. We are all ready for this project to be finished and now it is.

The problem is, that now I don't want them in there because it looks so nice, even with no decorative touches whatsover as yet.

I ordered the prints below from ebay for $6.95 and have super cheap frames from the dollar store that I'm going to spray paint silver to match the fixtures and hardware. I think they will add a nice touch.

And and those angels? We're really friggin happy. They must have boys too.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Does This Shade Of Varnish Go With My Eyes?

Here's a thing about me you probably didn't know. I? Am wishy washy. I know. You're taken aback. But it's true.

It's not really that I can't make up my mind. It's just that I spent so many years being a world class fuck-up that I don't want to waste any more time on mistakes.

Yannow what I mean?

I get so bogged down in trying to make the right decision, that I become consumed by self-doubt. And then I don't make any decision at all.

Flutter once called it "paralysis by analysis" and a more apt characterization I've never heard.

The more I pro and con, the more I hem and haw. It's a problem. A real problem.

Some of you know that I am in a weird sort of mid-life stasis; a holding pattern if you will. My life as the Mother of small children is over and now it's time to move onto the next phase.

The problem is...I made absolutely no provisions for this eventuality.

When one is deep in the throes of raising small children, it's hard to see beyond anything except naptime.

So now? I'm exceedingly bored with my life. I feel a little superfluous, but also, srangely, like a thing that people use every day, but scarcely notice it's existence because it's just always been there.

When I was a kid, we had this coat rack in our house, just inside the front door. It was there for years, until one day, on a whim (or maybe my mother just decided it was time people started using the coat closet, I don't know) my mother moved it.

But did people start using the coat closet? No. The coats piled up in a sad little heap in the floor where the coat rack had once stood. It had been there so long, doing the same thing, faithful and uncomplaining...that nobody noticed when it wasn't there anymore.

I don't want to be a coat rack.

I very much need something to do, and I've written a plethora of posts pondering my post parenting prerogatives. Say that five times real fast.

Anyway, everything I consider seems, for one reason or another, to be more trouble than it's worth. The logistics alone keep me up at night. I honestly don't know how working Moms do it. I don't want to know how they do it because I don't want to have to put that much effort into getting through each day.


So overwhelmed with details, I do nothing.

This has been going on for several years now.

((Paralysis By Analysis))

A couple days ago, I got a phone call from one of my best friends. They moved to the other side of the city a couple years ago, and now because of our increasingly hectic lifestyles, we rarely get to see one another.

She is in the very same place that I am. However, she is a much more decisive person than I. She doesn't waste a lot of time worrying about making the wrong choice. She doesn't see mistakes waiting to be made, she sees opportunites.

And she has decided to go to Beauty School.

Would it surprise you to hear that for twenty years, I've considered going to beauty school?

It sounds like so much fun, doesn't it? And I need fun in a bad way, ladies. A bad, bad, bad way. But it would also serve a profusion of other purposes (I like alliteration, shoot me).

It would indulge my creative side as well as my love of all things girly.

It would get me out of the house.

It would give me the means to make my own money for the first time in fourteen years.

It would challenge me.

It would do all this without placing too much stress or responsibility on my shoulders.

When I worked for a large National Financial Services Company, I would sometimes wake up in a cold sweat, realizing I hadn't dotted an "i" or crossed a "t", the consequences of which were expensive and far reaching.

No thank you.

I hold the life and the emotional well-being of two someday adult persons in my hands and that's quite enough responsibility for me.

I know I have the knack. My Mom was a hairdresser for nearly 40 years. I picked up a thing or two. I can be licensed in just 9 months. I think it's a good idea and I want to do it.

Until I start really thinking.

Does that mean I'm giving up my identity as a writer? Or my hopes of writing a book someday? Does the fact that I'm willing to sacrifice my more cerebral self to indulge the vanities of my clients (and myself, to be frank) mean I'm renouncing all my ideals? Does the fact that I'm willing to do this for some fun and personal satisfaction mean I'm a horrible, shallow, vapid person?

Goddamn that thinking thing. Is there a way to shut that off?

Why can't I just make a decision and GO?

Please excuse me while I grow a few extra arms. Those coats can get pretty heavy.