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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Antiquated, Not Twitterpated


I believe that cyber relationships are real. They can be substantive and satisfying; sometimes even more so than those with people in our real lives. I would never scoff at someone who described a cyber acquaintance as a "friend".

I myself have a small circle of cyber friends who mean the world to me, and whom have been more steadfast and supportive than many of the people I meet face to face. That's not to say that internet friendships are not subject to the same perils and pitfalls that real life friendships are. They can be equally satisfying and equally frustrating because they are equally meaningful.

So I'm certainly not knocking anyone who reaches out to people on the internet, whether they are looking for friendship, romance, or just some intelligent conversation with people who share views, values and interests.

It's not sad. It's not empty. It's not superficial.

But that is rapidly changing, thanks to "social networking" sites, which are reducing our interactions with one another to sound bytes and status updates.

It seems the site most under fire these days is Twitter, because it's the latest, greatest social networking tool, and because it has taken what Facebook started and reduced it to something even less meaningful and less substantive; 140 characters of sheer inanity.

For nobody can relate to another person in a way that is other than inane when one is confined to 140 characters.

I've expressed before how I feel about these sites, and I've sort of felt like the cheese standing alone. Everybody who is anybody Twitters! Or is it Tweets? Even the parlance escapes me. Everybody who is anybody has 4 squillion followers!

But it seems that at least one person agrees with me. Chani expresses all the things I feel about these "social networking" tools with eloquence.

She argues that friendships take time and effort. They require risk. They cannot be fostered through quips, quotes, sound bytes and snippets. And she's absolutely right. But people, particularly Americans, in our fast food society, are all about quick and easy. We are all about instant gratification.

So as long as there is something out there that can give some semblance of a connection with other people; these pseduo friendships, without the expenditure of any time or effort or risk...then places like Twitter, Facebook, and whatever other copycats come along, (because Americans are also all about jumping on a bandwagon, particularly if it is profitable) will continue to gain popularity.

And other forms of communication; real, meaningful communication, will languish and become all but obsolete.

A lot of things that once seemed implausible, impossible and fantastic have come to pass. Some of them are good and useful and benign. Some of them are not.

Does it seem so far fetched then, to imagine that someday, face to face interaction, conversation and socialization could become obsolete. That all of our relationships will be conducted in the digital realm?

It seems like science fiction, doesn't it? But think about it. Are there days when you don't actually talk to someone using your voice? I have my husband and children of course, but there are days that I speak to no one else, personally. Strangely, I rarely experience a sense of isolation, because on those days, although I don't speak to anyone, I communicate with a number of individuals through various mediums; Email, text, Facebook, blog comments...

Our world is growing ever smaller thanks to technological advances in communication and digital media. Our computers are a window to the world.

But sometimes, it might be a good idea to shut the window, open a door, and step out.

And that's why I dislike all these so-called "social" media sites. They are not social at all. They are socially isolating, self-limiting, and insular. They facilitate a sense of community and perpetrate the illusion of inclusion, while drastically reducing the sphere and depth of our interaction.

We will become less and less likely to open our doors and speak to our fellows one on one, when it is so easy to simply throw up the window sash and shout to anyone who might be listening.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do have a Facebook account. So I suppose, in some ways, I am being a huge hypocrite. But you know what? I have like 30 friends on my list. With a few exceptions, they are all, actually, my friends. Most of them, I even know in real life.

I use it as an extension of, not a replacement for, real friendships. I use it a lot to say..."Hey, let's get together for coffee next week."

Open your doors people. Step out. Look each other in the eye. Smile. Speak.

It might be an aniquated idea, but I don't think it's obsolete just yet.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I'm Bringing Sexy Back

You know how they say that women peak much later in life than men?

Totally true.

For most of our marriage, Husband and I have had grossly mismatched libidos. As a result, he's been waiting for me to peak for about 10 years. I think he was beginning to suspect that the whole thing was a myth, perpetrated by women to keep their husbands clinging to the hope that someday, someday, wives everywhere would suddenly transform into raging sex maniacs.

But lo and behold, on the verge of my fourth decade, I have suddenly become a raging sex maniac.

Now, I don't think this is strictly a physiological phenomenon.

My kids are becoming increasingly less dependant you see. And no longer is my every waking moment consumed with the care, feeding, and entertainment of an adorable but demanding little taskmaster.

Those years are tough, particularly for stay at home Moms. And they were rougher still for me, during Diminutive One's infancy and toddlerhood. I was emotionally, physically and psychologically drained by his needs.

And that, of course, does not make for a very sexually dynamic Mama.

For years I thought I would be perfectly happy if I never had sex again.

Because sex became a chore and an obligation; just another thing to cross off of my already endless list before I could sleep, eat, or otherwise see to my own needs. I became very resentful when Husband pushed for sex and I became especially resentful when he asked for certain erm..."favors". I felt then that I was nothing more than an object for sexual gratification. I found it demeaning and of course, that only heightened my resentment further.

Poor guy. He couldn't win for losing. I didn't want to be physically intimate with him in a meaningful, emotionally satisfying manner, but I didn't want to give the brother a helping hand,, either.

I realize now how rejected he felt. I just didn't get that for men, sex = love. And I think he realizes now that I was overwhelmed and exhausted. But at the time, neither of us saw what was right in front of us. We were both thinking in a very singular way: I'm not getting enough sex. I'm tired of meeting everyone else's needs. Instead of: We have a problem that needs to be addressed.

Needless to say, this impacted our emotional intimacy in a big way. It was a rough patch for us, those years. We both felt overlooked by the other.

At one point, Husband decided to take the proverbial bull by the horns and purchased a book called "101 Night of Great Sex" by Laura Corn.

I was not amused.

I have to say that the premise of this book is a sound one. The purpose is to take the focus off the minutaie of everyday life and put it back onto fostering romance and intimacy, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, at that point in our lives, it backfired quite profoundly, because it took something that I already viewed as an obligation, and made it even more of a chore. I couldn't embrace or enjoy the spirit of the thing because I felt pressured and resentful.

NOW I think it would be fantastic fun. I know that book is still around here somewhere...I might even go dig it out. But then, oy. If there was already a chill between us, things deteriorated to downright frostiness.

How did we get through that?

You know, I don't know. I wish I had some words of wisdom or some fantastic advice, but really...I just don't know. I guess, because we had a strong relationship beforehand, because we really did love each other very much deep down, and because we were committed to giving our children a stable, loving home to grow up in, we just kind of floundered through it.

Also, I think, we both matured a great deal during those years.

So fast forward to present day... Things are getting easier. My kids are in school all day. They can dress, bathe, feed, wipe and buckle up themselves. Diminutive One's problems have been addressed and he is thriving. Pre-Pubescent One is reaching an age where he is largely independant.

More importantly, my erogenous zones are once again my own. My breasts are just breasts, not instruments of sustenance and comfort. I am not contantly being clung to or sat upon. I have the luxury of spending some time to make myself feel feminine and attractive, where it used to be a great accomplishment simply to get my hair brushed.

All that, combined with the fact that my hormones are what I would tentatively call "normal" for the first time in my entire life, is making me one horny mother.

It's weird.

I think about sex all the time. I have been stricken with a profound and unrelenting urge in the middle of almost every activity at some point; scrubbing toilets, grocery shopping, cooking name it.

After years of looking right through most men, including my poor spouse, I now find myself looking at asses and crotches in the grocery store, on the street, at the ballpark.

Sometimes I can't help but grope my husband, which elicits tongue in cheek remarks such as "Geez, what am I, a piece of meat?" and "Is that all I am to you? An object?"

I have even begun initiating sex. That is huge.

Of course, this does me no absolutely no good when Husband is at work. But you know what's good for that?

Instant Messaging.

I've never been very good at dirty talking. I grew up in a very sexually conservative household and those attitudes are deeply ingrained. Unfortunately, it's kind of a mood killer when your wife croons, "Oooooh yeah baby, have intercourse with me!"

So I've been trying. But it's difficult. However, with instant messageing, I am freeeeeeeeeee. I can say stuff I would never dream of saying to his face. The first time I did it, I was a little hesitant and awkward, but now, I just let it fly. Be forewarned, there is an art to this. There is a fine line between sounding like a sexy, sultry nymph and a clap ridden ghetto whore.

Often these parlays are met with enthusiasm. But occasionally I get..."Baby, I'm in a friggin meeting!"

But that's neither here nor there, really.

The point of this post was to let those of you who are still at that "sex is a chore" juncture know that...your libido will come back.

But in the meantime, throw your husband a boner, I mean, a bone. It will make him feel loved, and even if that's really low on your list of priorities right now, it will help strengthen your marriage. That may seem silly to us, because we interpret love much differently. But it's the reality of the male psyche. And someday, you will reap the benefits.

It's all very funny, of course, that now the shoe is on the other foot. Husband finds it ironic and terribly amusing.

Sometimes, just because he can, he will say snidely, "What...again?"

Yes, again. And again and again and again. God love the recuperative powers of the female erectile tissue.

Go forth and chat, ladies. Your husbands will thank you.

I promise.

(Originally posted 04/04/08. I'm painting this week, desperately trying to finish this project before parents arrive on Friday.)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

She Shoots, She Scores

I know I have been neglectful here of late. But I have good reason, I swear.

You see....I got a real grown-up (read; PAID) writing job. Two, actually.

For years, I've been searching for validity as a writer. I know it should be intrinsic, but for me it's just not. So this is a huge deal for me, even though the pay is certainy not going to launch us into a life of wealth and privilege.

I feel as though I'm finally on the path to gaining some legitimacy as a writer. I can say I'm a writer without feeling like a lying sack of poo. I can start building a portfolio, building a body of work, gaining some respectability.

It's nothing huge or glamorous. It's not Newsweek or Time or any of the coveted print writing jobs. But it's a start. And I'm ridiculously pleased by it.

So my pace here will slow a bit. I'm not closing up shop, because truthfully, I love this blog and I'm free here. I say what, when and how I will write, and that's something I can't give up. I also use this blog to work through all my personal garbage, so as a therapeutic tool, it's invaluable. Not to mention, it's cheaper than therapy, which I was never really good at anyway.

I'm trying not to make too much of this, because it's such a small step, but I feel like it's a new beginning for me; an end to feeling superfluous and unfulfilled.

I wish I could share with you all where I am writing, but of course, I am doing so under my real name. Though I love you dear readers, I'm afraid I am not yet ready to remove the cloak of anonymity. Maybe when I have grown more comfortable with the idea of being known, I'll reconsider.

I have to thank you all for being instrumental in this. The comments, the encouragement, the has all helped me be confident enough in myself as a writer to pursue something I never thought I deserved, simply because I lack a set of letters after my name.

It's trite, but I can't help but feeling that now, the sky's the limit. I took the first step, the hardest step. And while my steps are still unsteady and faltering, I choose to believe that in no time, I will be striding confidently into my destiny.

Melodramatic much?

I can't help it. I'm walking on air, people, and that's the truth.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I Believe In Love

The wedding we attended this weekend brought back all kinds of memories, as weddings inevitably do.

The groom, our friend, is the kind of guy who is in love with being in love. He's a HUGE fan of the grand romantic gesture, the Hallmark moment, the cavity inducing sweetness that is twooooooooo wuuuvvvvv.

Sadly, he has not been lucky in love. His romantic past is so checkered that friends and co-workers took to calling him "Ross".

But I think he got it right this time. His bride is a lovely young lady and they are very well suited to one another. They both have the same buoyant, sunny personality and positive outlook on life. They are both fun loving, kind and generous.

But more importantly, they share a love of the absurd, the riduculous and the silly.

That will take them far. Because there have been many times in our fifteen year marriage, that if we hadn't been able to laugh, we would have cried. Being able to laugh with someone is a true gift. Being able to laugh with someone when things look hopeless and bleak is absolutely priceless.

The wedding was held outdoors, overlooking a sparkling blue bay. The weather was perfection, the ceremony simple, but elegant.

I really didn't expect to get all choked up, but I did. The moment the bride appeared in the doorway that opened onto the flagstone veranda, I felt a tightness in my throat and a tremble in my chin.

Because, true love...sigh...

Starting a life together...sniffle...

Pledging your life to your best friend....sob....

At a wedding, who doesn't think about the day they said their own vows? Who doesn't remember how pure and true and uncomplicated it was in the beginning? Who can watch a bride and groom and not be wistful for that time when everything was so full of promise and the possibilities for the life ahead were endless?

My wedding? Sucked.

But my marriage, all things considered, has been pretty great. Certainly we've had our ups and downs. But I've never, ever doubted the depth of his love or the strength of his commitment to me.

And we laugh. We laugh a lot.

You know how people say..."I love her/him more than I did the day we said 'I do'"?

I understand that now. It's different, no doubt. It's a quieter love, but deeper, stronger, and more solid. Then, it was all dazzle and heat. Now, it's comfort and warmth.

Oh we still burn...but it's a slow burn, one that smokes and smolders and needs a little more stoking before it ignites. But when it does, it is just as hot.

Fifteen years. How is that possible? In some ways, it seems like it was just yesterday.

A lot of people ask us how we do it. There are a lot of reasons our marriage works, and I could expound on all that. But much of our success I attribute to plain old dumb luck. I made some choices and I was selective in some ways. But marriage, at it's most basic level, is still a gamble. It just happened to pay off for us.

I honestly can't imagine being with anybody else. I can't imagine being out there at 40, trying to date. Who else would look upon my stretchmarks with fondness? Who else would look past the baby belly and the dimpled thighs? How would I ever compete with all those taut young twenty somethings walking around? It really makes me feel quite ill to think about it. I think I might die of anxiety if I had to get naked in front of a strange man.

But it's more than that. He's really and truly my best friend. I don't know that people get that lucky twice. I think I would feel as if I was tempting fate to even try. And I don't know how anybody else could ever measure up. How could I keep myself from mentally comparing every move, every thought, every gesture?

Well, I am a creature of habit, and I suppose that's just one more manifestation of that. I don't like things to change. I like comfortable. I like dependable. I like solid, safe, and secure.

Thank God he does too.

So, watching these two say their vows, I found myself hoping they would experience as much joy in each other as Husband and I do. We're not the perfect couple. But we're happy. And I think we will be together another 15 years, and maybe even 15 more.

No matter how old and wrinkled and toothless we become, he will always be the man to whom I said "I do", fifteen years ago.

And I think it will always seem like just yesterday.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Home Again Home Again

We are back from our weekend in Florida. It was wonderful, but as always, travelling is a lot of work. I am exhausted today from the drive, and from lack of sleep. I am really too old to party like that. SIGH.

Anyway...since I don't have the energy to write anything fabulous today, I'll direct you to a review I have written for Sam Stern's "Get Cooking" Sam is a teenaged chef who writes cookbooks for teenagers. It's a great concept. Did the cookbook meet my expectations?

Head over to Mid-Century Modern Moms to find out.

Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite:

"Get Cooking" by Sam Stern

I have two boys, whom I am trying desperately to raise into self-reliant young men. My father is the quintessential fifties husband, who is as helpless today as he was then. He is completely dependant upon my mother and if he survives her, that responsibility will shift to one of his three daughters. For that reason, I am determined not to let my boys reach adulthood without learning the basics of caring for themselves.

Nothing is more basic or more essential than being able to feed one’s self, which is why I love the concept of a cookbook written by a teen, specifically for teens. “Get Cooking” is the third cookbook by 17 year old Sam Stern; a British teen with a passion for food and cooking...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Placing Blame

Husband and I will be attending a wedding this weekend, sans children.

That might not seem like a big deal to you, but it certainly is for us.

We don't have extended family nearby and we've never had a reliable babysitter. Every time we managed to find someone we felt comfortable with, they moved away, got a "real" job, or fell in love.

We gave up looking years ago and sort of just accepted our fate. We don't have the kind of social life that takes place independant of children anyway. Most anything we do socially inevitably includes other married couples and their kids.

So getting away by ourselves is a huge treat for us. I've really, really been looking forward to it.

What I have NOT been looking forward to, is shopping for an outfit for the wedding.

Even thin, shopping is a challenge for me, because I am short, and pear shaped, with an ample behind and a ridiculously small waist. My top is at least one size smaller than my bottom, sometimes more.

But now? Fuhgettabout it. Everything I put on depressed me.

You see, I dropped 60 lbs in 2005. Then, slowly, the pounds reappeared. Just one here and there. Another size up. And then down. And then up again...but only until next week, next month, next year. I would take care of it after school started. After Christmas. After the New Year. After Spring Break.

And now suddenly, I am fat again.

It's my own fault. I know that. And I know how to fix it. I've done it before. But that doesn't help me right this minute when I'm feeling bloated and unattractive after trying on outfit after outfit under the glaring fluourescent lights, schlepping from store to store desperately looking for something to camouflage the back fat and bat wings.

I came home discouraged and depressed.

I dropped my bags, flopped on the couch and glared at my husband. I needed someone to blame and he was an easy target, the unconditionally loving bastard.

Feeling my eyes upon him, he looked up from his laptop with innocence written all over his face.


"It's all your fault."

"What? Why?"

"Because you always tell me I'm beautiful."


"Maybe I would have more motivation if you weren't so accepting. Don't you love me enough to be critical occasionally?"

"Of course I do!"



"But I..."

He stopped and sighed heavily. Then he squared his shoulders and said,

"You really need to do something about the size of your ass...bitch!" he growled.

"That's more like it!" I snarled in return.

Then I stomped into the kitchen looking for something to bolster my flagging spirits. I thought there was a bottle of Two Buck Chuck that might do the trick. But I stood there, gazing into the fridge, forgetting why I had opened it.

Then I felt his arms wrap around my waist and his lips gently nuzzled my ear.

"Don't make me do that again, baby." he said. "I just can't."

I pattted the hand that rested on my fourteen year old post-baby bulge.

"I know. That's why I will always be fat."

But suddenly, it didn't seem to matter quite so much.

This is for my husband, who has seen me at my best, and at my worst. And still loves me.

When the rain is blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love

When the evening shadows and the stars appear
And there is no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love

I know you haven't made your mind up yet
But I would never do you wrong
I've known it from the moment that we met
No doubt in my mind where you belong

I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue
I'd go crawling down the avenue
There's nothing that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love

The storms are raging on the rollin' sea
And on the highway of regret
The winds of change are blowing wild and free
You ain't seen nothing like me yet

I could make you happy, make your dreams come true
Nothing that I wouldn't do
Go to the ends of the earth for you
To make you feel my love

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I got over hoping I would be the next blogger to make it big quite some time ago.

I just don't play the game right, though I did try for a time.

Actually, when I started this blog, I had no idea there was an A list of bloggers. I had no idea there were blogging celebrities. I figured it out pretty quickly though and then I thought..well hell, I can write as well or better than any of them. I could really make this into something.

You know what? Too much damn ass kissing and too much damn work.

I did pretty well for a while. I got to a point where I was consistently getting 40 plus comments on every post.

But I was spending way more time than I should have reading and commenting on blogs and joining groups I really had no interest in, just to boost my traffic.

Worst of all, I was beginning to tailor my content to the whims of my audience; going for the easy laughs and writing superficial feel good crap that really had no substance.

I know that's how authors make it big, whether they're writing novels or blogs. You have to give the people what they want. And I've found that a lot of readers want funny, superficial feel good crap.

But that's when blogging really lost it's lustre for me. I found that the joy had been sucked right out of it.

So I took a little break and came back with a new perspective. And, as I said, I'm over being dazzled by the prospect of fame and fortune. I stopped the relentless rounds of commenting and unjoined groups.

Now I blog for me. And it's good. I've found the joy again.

But that doesn't mean I don't still want to reach people. I do. Isn't that why any artist toils at his craft? To touch and inspire? Though I don't need 87 comments to get satsifaction from what I've written, sometimes, I do wonder if anybody is really listening.

The other day, I got an answer to that question when I received this email:


I am the managing editor of I just read your post about "Milk" and as hard as I've become over the years of dealing with inequality, something about your post touched me emotionally.

Thank you for this. Is there anyway I could post an excerpt from your post in the "voices from the blogosphere section of with a link back to the original of course?

I strongly feel in order to build a true "community", we need to be the LGBTA, whereas the "A" stands for allies.

Please let me know if I have permission, but either way, thank you!

James Hipps
Project Manager


I found that unbelievably cool.

You just never know who is out there reading.

And I realized that comments, though undeniably gratifying, are not a true indication of whom or how far one's words are reaching or how they might affect someone out there. Good or bad, positive or negative, our words carry weight.

This is one impact I am proud to have made and the impetus for me to stay true to myself as a person, a writer, and a blogger.

I told Mr. Hipps that I would be honored to be featured on their site. I asked if I could have permission to post his email here. But I wanted to do so to share my happiness and maybe in some small way, to inspire other writers.

My intent is not to lead villagers with pitchforks to the castle door.

So please...if your personal views conflict with the content of the site just stay away.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to James, for making me feel like I've made a difference to someone, somewhere.

It's a really cool thing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Scary Monsters

I? Am afraid of closets.

Well...not so much closets themselves, that would just be silly.

No, I am afraid of what closets become when the lights are off.

I've had this affliction for as long as I can remember, but I'm not entirely sure of it's origins. I do have a theory, however.

I suspect it's due to the fact that something lives in the closet of the front bedroom in my parents home; a bedroom that was mine once upon a time. I've never seen it. But I've felt it. Even today I am at a loss as to how describe that feeling of thereness. It's just a stone cold awareness that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end and my bladder tingle with icy dread.

When I lived in that room, my bed was in the farthest corner possible from that closet and positioned in such a way that I could sleep without having to turn my back to the closet. One day, I returned home from school to find that my mother had rearranged my furniture to accomodate the new desk I had gotten for my birthday.

She put the bed right next to the closet.

I was too ashamed to tell my mother how much this horrified me, and so, for months, I slept poorly, on one side, facing the closet so that I could flee the moment that the thing chose to manifest itself into something corporeal and horrible enough to do me bodily harm.

It never did.

That room is now a guest bedroom and for many years, the small double bed remained next to the closet. When we visited, I used to make husband sleep on the side closest to it as a buffer between me and the thing that lurks there.

I finally told my mother about it, and without a word, she moved the bed back to the corner farthest from the closet. She asked me why I had never said anything all those years ago and I told her of my shame.

"Well now I feel bad." she said.

She accepts guilt without question; considering it part of the penance that all mothers must do in exchange for the joy and privilege of raising children.

I still feel that presence, though now, it feels less sinister. It's just there; as much a part of the house as the 100 year old plaster and lathe.

There are other somethings in that house. It has stood a very long time, so it's not unreasonable to suppose that traces of it's former occupants linger there. Though ancient, it has only had a handful of owners, which means those that lived there, stayed a long time, as my parents have; building a life, raising children, and then growing old and dying there.

My children are uneasy in my childhood home; unaccustomed to it's creaks and sighs, uncomfortable with the idea of things they can't see hovering over them. They don't tell me, but I see it. When we are there, they always seem to be listening for something.

I've never hidden my closet fear from my children. They know I can't sleep next to a closet, nor can I sleep in a room where a closet door has been left open. Can't. Won't. Period. The End.

My oldest son asked me once why I had to have the closet door closed.

"Because it's the gateway to hell." I said matter of factly.

That's how it seems to me in the dark; the doorway a gaping black maw of infinite depth and darkness from which creatures might creep, crawl or slither.

He laughed then and they tease, but a part of them is respectful of this fear as well. In a strange way, my fear is a comfort to them. It humanizes me in their eyes.

Often, when I am preparing for bed, they will ask, "Would you like me to close the gateway to hell, Mom?" knowing full well that the answer is always an emphatic "yes".

Sometimes, just because they can, they pull it almost all the way shut and then look at me grinning expectantly, knowing I will demand that it be shut and latched firmly. They never walk away without doing so. They wouldn't dream of it. Though they make light, they appreciate the gravity of nighttime fears.

Recently, the issue came up at the dinner table and they asked about how my fear started. I was hesitant to explain about the presence in the closet at my parents' home, not wishing to add to their uneasiness at being in the house. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to be honest with them.

"Well, you see, when I was a little girl, I slept in that front bedroom at Grandma and Grandpa's house. And I always thought that...

"....there's something in the closet. Yeah." finished Pubescent One.

Diminutive One nodded gravely in agreement. All this time I had been protecting them from something they already knew; had sensed themselves and accepted with the unquestioning equanimity that children possess.

"So, there you go. I think that's why I am afraid of closets. That, and watching one too many episodes of In Search Of."

My children didn't laugh at me. They didn't scoff. They just nodded in understanding.

I hope that sharing my fears with my boys will help them relate to me better as both a person and a mother. I hope it help them understand that whatever it is they fear, they can tell me. I won't laugh and I won't dismiss.

Because everybody has something that scares the pants off of them, and everybody needs someone to tell. And unfortunately, scary monsters are just the beginning.

If they can tell me about scary monsters, maybe they can tell me anything.

A Mom can hope.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Husband and I watched MILK this weekend.

Wow. That's some powerful stuff. Sean Penn certainly has come a long way from his Spicoli days.

Gays and lesbians have always been a part of my life.

My mother was a hairdresser. I know it's stereotypical, but hairdressing really did attract a lot of gay men, and still does. My mother often took me to trade shows, where one could see some fairly outrageous behavior for the times. But for me, it was just part of the biz. It didn't seem odd or deviant.

Whether they were regular seeming guys or flaming Queens, they were all nice to me. They told me I had gorgeous hair, luminous eyes, an ass to die for. If not for that pesky little sex thang, I would have happily married a gay man. They're good for a gal's ego.

One of my cousins is a lesbian. My best friend in high school was gay. One of my dearest friends today is a lesbian. One of the best teachers my oldest son ever had is a gay man. My new next door neighbors are an older gay couple. And I've recently met a lesbian family who has touched my heart and earned my undying respect and admiration.

They have never been gay people to me. Just people.

And that's why I sometimes forget that it was and still is a struggle for gays and lesbians.

This movie was a very salient reminder of that. Since time began, people have been giving their lives for freedom; freedom to worship whom they please, freedom from tyranny, freedom from opression and slavery....

Doesn't it strike you as patently absurd that people should have to fight and die for the freedom to love?

Does it hurt you if the man next door wants to live in a loving committed relationship with another man?

Does it hurt you if the woman down the street wants to share her life and raise a family with another woman?

I've heard all the arguments.

If you're some Christian fundamentalist considering leaving a comment to tell me how it is an abomination in God's it. No God I care to worship would put conditions on his love. No God I care to worship would punish his children for loving one another.

If you're some ultra conservative considering leaving a comment to tell me how allowing gays and lesbians to marry is undermining the sanctity of the institution, you can save that too. Heterosexuals have done a fine job of that all by themselves.

If you're some family values zealot who feels compelled to tell me that homosexual couples can't raise healthy, stable, well-rounded children, again, save it. Because I happen to know children who were horribly abused and neglected by their heterosexual parents.

Their adoption by their new Moms was recently finalized.

The older ones are finally beginning to believe that the safety and security of their new home is forever, and the baby will never remember being hungry or cold.

I understand hate. It comes from self-loathing and insecurity. It comes from being taught that love and acceptance is conditional. It comes from being taught to see differences as perversities.

What I don't understand is the need to spread it like a disease.

I don't understand being so threatened by another person's way of life that one loses all sense of humanity. I don't understand the desire to infect others with the malignancy of blind malice.

Well...things are getting better. Slowly.

Thanks to people like Harvey Milk who are willing to risk everything to make life better for others.

Harvey paid the ultimate price.

Hopefully, because of him, and others like him, no more lives will have to be sacrificed for the cause of Gay rights.

On behalf of all the gay and lesbian people in my life...thanks Harvey.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Gratuitous Yummy Food Post

I have absolutely nothing profound to say today.

So I'm going to tell you about the absolutely amazing mashed potatoes I made the other night.

Now, being of hardy German peasant stock, I never met a carbohydrate I didn't like. But potatoes hold a special place in my heart. Crispy, creamy, roasty, toasty, fluffy goodness all in a neat little jacket. What could be better?

Potatoes, or S. Tuberosum, are quite noble little bundles of goodness.

In the early and mid seventeeen hundreds, when civil war ravaged Europe and many conventional crops failed due to overfarming, potatoes saved many from starvation. The same is true for the Great Depression in the United States. Families could purchase a 50lb sack of potatoes for $1 and incorporated them into nearly every meal. They were cheap, filling, and nutritious.

It is widely believed that all the potato's nutrients are contained in the skin, but that is a fallacy. Approximately 50% are found within the potato itself.

Today, potatoes are the 4th largest food crop worldwide.

The French call potatoes "Pommes de terre" or, "apples of the earth".

All of that is pretty cool, but I love them just because they are delicious and because it has been the comfort food of choice for generations in my family.

So about my mashed potatoes....

I am a self confessed potato snob. I don't care for Russets. They have no body, and unless highly seasoned, they are mealy and tasteless. They're fine for pedestrian dishes such as french fries or hash browns, but for most uses, my potato of choice, is the Yukon Gold.

Their skins are thin; their flesh firm and tasty. Even completely unseasoned, they possess a sort of buttery flavor. They hold up well to all methods of preparation. Meaning, that unlike other species of potato, they don't turn into a gluey, starchtastic mess when they're cooked.

Honestly, once you taste mashed potatoes made from Yukon Gold, you'll never go back to Russet.

I'll warn you now, my method of preparation is anything but diet friendly.

I boiled my Yukon Gold potatos until they were soft, but still firm. I like my mashed potatoes to have some body to them.

Here in the South, there exists a distinction between methods of preparation. There are "creamed taters" and "mashed taters". Creamed taters are boiled until they're falling apart, augmented with a lot of milk and whipped with a blender until they are the consistency of oatmeal.

I don't care for creamed taters myself and strangely, neither does my husband. We both like our mashed potatoes with some texture.

I dumped them into my special mashed potato receptacle. It's a white porcelain bowl with a flat bottom and a porcelain lid. I like it because I can do all my mashing and seasoning right in the bowl, and serve from it as well. It also seems to keep the potatoes nice and hot, even when they've been sitting on the table for some time.

I use a hand masher because, as I said, both husband and I like them a little lumpy.

After my potatoes were sufficiently mashed, I added a stick of butter, and about..1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream. (I warned you). I salted and peppered them liberally, and added a bit of garlic powder. You don't want too much, or the garlic will overpower the already delicious flavor of the potato. If I had to guess, I'd say it was....1/2 teaspoon. Perhaps a smidge more, because I made a large batch.

This was the first time I had ever used heavy whipping cream to make mashed potatoes. I often use sour cream when I add chives, for a little variation on the traditional, but that's sort of a specialty mashed potato. I don't consider it a "true" mashed potato dish. I guess I'm a bit of a purist in that respect.

I had seen Nigella do it once on her old show "Nigella Bites". My mouth watered copiously during the entire episode. But I never seemed to have cream and potatoes on hand at the same time. This time, happily, I did, left over from my gluttonous fruit orgy.

I was more excited about finding whipping cream in my refrigerator than anybody should ever be.

Simply put, these mashed potatoes were transcendant. The first helping I ate with the mushroom gravy I had made to go over the pork loin, but the second helping I ate plain.

They were that good.

Even my boys, who did not inherit the carbohydrate gene, and normally turn up their nose at potatoes unless they come in a red carton with a big yellow "M" on it, asked for seconds.

Those stupid potatoes made me happy the rest of the night. And the next morning when I ate them for breakfast.

What? I can do that.

It's the breakfast of champions.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mean Kids Suck; Part II

I was not a mean kid. Were you a mean kid?

I had my moments. All kids do. But more often than not, after I had time to reflect upon what I had done, I was consumed with guilt, and eaten up by remorse.

So I wasn't the kind of kid that made sport of being mean. And neither are my boys.

Pubescent One, at 14, has figured out that sometimes you have to kick some ass to make it clear you're not an easy target. He has also learned to let certain things roll off his back and he doesn't allow other people to push his buttons (except his little brother who is ridiculously adept at doing so).

He doesn't take any shit, but neither does he dole it out. Unless he is provoked, he is remarkably even tempered. The few times he has had to kick some ass, he suffered grievous pangs of guilt over it. He doesn't like it, but he will do if it if push comes to shove.

But he's big for his age, socially adroit and generally well liked, so for the most part, he is left alone. I have never had to address any bully issues on his behalf.

Dimiuntive One...sigh. This is an ongoing issue for us.

He doesn't get mean kids, so he doesn't get how to handle them. He doesn't get how not to be a target. And sometimes, he doesn't even get when he's being made a target.

That's what hurts me most of all; when he's duped into thinking someone is being nice to him, only to be humiliated later.

For example, recently Diminutive One received a phone call, which the caller ID showed to be from his 4th grade nemisis; a big, stupid, knuckle dragging little fucker who taunted Diminutive One relentlessly, and made it his own personal mission to get him into as much trouble as he possibly could. (Remember the "Suck My Balls", incident?)

Fortuitously, we hadn't seen the kid for almost a year, and I heard through the grapevine that he was being homeschooled this year. I'm sure this was an enormous relief to the collective staff at Suburban Elementary School.

Since they hated each other's ever lovin' guts, there was no reason for this child to be calling my son. I was suspicious immediately, but against my better judgement, gave the phone to Diminutive One.

Now, that kid is stupid, but he's wily. He never said anything to Dimunitive One that could incriminate him if his motives were called into question. They (his trusty sidekick was involved as well...a child who's father runs a Christian Ministry...go figure) asked him if he had a girlfriend. If there was anybody he liked. They said they were going to McDonald's and asked him if they wanted him to bring them something. It went on and on.

We, as adults, know where all this was leading, but Diminutive One had no clue. He listened and answered accordingly. Finally, I made him hang up.

"Honey...." I faltered.

Goddamn those little pricks for making me explain this to him.

"You understand those boys weren't being nice, don't you?"

"Well, I did kinda wonder why he would want to bring me french fries when he hates me so much."

"He doesn't, honey. He was being mean...making you think he was being nice. He wasn't going to actually bring you any french fries. Only make you think that he was."

"Why would he do that??"

"To hurt your feelings and make you feel stupid."

He shrugged. I suppose it's lucky that he didn't understand, because he didn't even know to be hurt or humiliated by such treatment. Though he is an exceptionally bright child, that sort of thing is simply beyond him. He just. doesn't. get it.

But I do. And it hurts me.


So there's that kind of mean.

But there's also the brash, blatant, swearing, swaggering, bullying kind of mean.

It's hard to mininterpret a thwap on the forehead. Or an outstretched foot. Or a killer wedgie.

Dimiuntive One gets that loud and clear. But it still takes him by surprise, because he doesn't understand that kind of unexpurgated and unsolicited meanness. He just does not get being mean for the sake of being mean.

The other night at the ballpark, Diminutive One found a group of kids to play wallball with. We're at a new park this year, due to Pubescent One's age. It's been hard for Diminutive One, because he's not the best at making friends.

Taking those kinds of risks terrify him. He knows he's socially inept, so he hesitates to put himself out there. It's agonizing for him to even venture to ask someone's name, not mention navigate the perilous waters of conversation.

But finally he seemed to have made some friends.

Key word: "seemed".

They got in trouble, all of them, for throwing the ball at the roundhouse windows in stead of at the concrete block wall. The man who stormed up to me red faced and huffing mightily, was well and truly pissed.

"I asked them boys SIX times not to throw the ball at the hodang windas! They're gonna break somethin' AYAND, we're tryinna do a draft up'air!"

I took the ball he held in his weathered hand.

"Well, it's mine now, boys." I said firmly.

The other boys objected.

"That's not his ball! That's our ball!"

"Well it's MINE now!" snapped the man. He took it from me and stalked off.

I told Diminutive One to go get his ball and bring it to me. Then I made him sit for 30 mins. For Diminutive One, 30 mins is like three lifetimes. I told him he would not be allowed to play wallball for the duration of the game. But after his 30 minutes had elapsed, I let him bounce the ball near the bleachers where I was sitting.

The group of boys with whom he had been playing, slunk over like a pack of wolves.

You know how you just know when kids are up to no good? Those kids were up to no good.

I was puzzled because they had all been playing happily earlier. I went back to watching the game, but kept an ear out. It didn't take me long to figure out that they were after Diminutive One's ball.

"You got our ball taken away, now you have to give us yours."

"No I didn't. You guys were hitting the window too."

"But you did it the last time."

"So? You can't have my ball."

At that point, one of them tried to take it from him by force. He made a grab for it, but Dimiunitve One was too fast. He evaded the grab and then came back to sit by me. The boys stood at the permimeter of the fan seating section, glowering at him.

"What's going on?" I asked, oh so casually.

"Nothing" he replied, with equal nonchalance.

When the boys retreated, he got up and resumed bouncing. They slunk back. This cycle repeated itself numerous times. Diminutive One wasn't backing down. But neither were those boys. They decided to up the ante by enlisting the help of an older, more intimidating sibling. As soon as Diminutive One ventured beyond the safety of the Mom zone, they moved in.

"Hey kid. Give my brother back his ball." His voice was an impressively deep snarl, dripping with testosterone and bravado.

Diminutive One very calmly told him to fuck off.

You're gasping right? Oh no he di-int.

Oh yes he di-id.

Now, I don't condone telling people to fuck off.

Unless they really deserve it.

Generally, saying "Fuck Off" is socially unacceptable.

But the thing is....he reacted the way any other 11 year old boy in that situation would.

And that is a HUGE thing for him.

(I know. Many of you with 11 year old boys are thinking that your 11 year old boy would NEVER say fuck off. I'm sorry to say that you are completely deluded.)

They backed off, seeing that intimidation would not work.

And THAT is another HUGE thing for him.

He has never before trusted himself enough to not be intimidated. But he knew he wasn't wrong, he knew they were being assholes and he took care of bidness.

BOO YA, Baby.

That wasn't the end of the situation, and I did eventually have to intervene when one of them caught Diminutive One unawares and gave him a mighty shove while his back was turned and a baseball was plummeting towards his face.

But the point is....

We made progress.

Mean kids suck. And unfortunately, there will always be mean kids. Even when we're adults, there are mean kids. The internet has caused an explosion of mean kid behavior by otherwise reasonable, rational adults.

But maybe, just maybe, my quirky, rigid, socially awkward, bright, sunny and funny kid is learning how to hold his own against them.


Monday, March 09, 2009

Who Wants To Be A Politician?

Goodness. Our boy Obama is taking a beating, isn't he?

People, people, people.....

See, I worried about this. I worried that we were collectively heaping unreasonable expectations upon his slender shoulders. And such lofty expectations are almost always unmet. They can't be anything else because they are simply not grounded in reality.

Democrats set Obama up for failure by deifying him and expecting miracles. Now we're all critical and disillusioned.

Bitch, please.

Can you fix all the country's problems in three weeks?

No. You can't. And I can't.

Hell, I can't even get all the rooms in my house clean at the same time.

Harkening back to that implosion I referenced in my last post...

At that point, things were pretty volatile due to Bush's response to 9/11 as well as his handling of the Hurricane relief effort. Emotions on both sides of the fence were high and tensions even higher between the two political parties.

I wrote the following piece to try and lend some perspective to the matter.

It totally backfired, unfortunately, because my point was lost in the apocaplytpic frenzy that gripped the community at that time. Somehow, that post earned me a great big "R" to pin to my breast a la Hester Prynne. I also had the joy of being branded an egregious egomaniac, since I compared administrating my humble little website to running a country.

Don't make that mistake, please.

Because I think the point is still a salient one. I think it applies even today, under a different President; one who is struggling in a different, but no less public way. The only difference is that monkey on his back is a financial clusterfuck instead of a war.

It just isn't as easy as we think, folks. And if you can do better, I urge you to run for office.

So, without further ado, let's play....Who Wants To Be A Politician!

I am not an aficionado of politics. In fact, for most of my adult life, I have done everything I can to avoid them whenever possible. Unfortunately, I've been forced, by virtue of political unrest in my internet circle, to become politically aware. I am more informed on the issues than ever before, and truth be known, much of my ideology is surprisingly left-leaning. However, there are an equal number of issues upon which I am seemingly right-wing. In short, despite my heightened awareness and cognizance of the polarization in regard to my own beliefs, I still do not identify strongly with either party. I am the epitome of a fence sitter.

So, with that said, there is one thing I *would* like to say about the office of the President, and leadership in general. It is not an endorsement of any kind, or an expression of support. It is simply something that occurs to me, as a leader of sorts, and it’s something that I've learned over the course of the past year and a half. It’s something that I think few people consider when assessing his competency. I don't expect to change anybody's mind, and that is not my intent, since I don't have any hard and fast allegiance to him myself. Its just something I feel the need to address, as I am growing weary of the invective and blustering on the part of those who really have no practical knowledge whatsoever regarding the responsibility, convention and dogma of leadership.

In addition, I believe that a person's response to tragedy reveals a lot about their character. For some, the overwhelming response is..."How do we help???" For others, the predominant concern is..."Who can we blame???" And with the aftermath of Katrina and Rita, finger pointers everywhere are rejoicing that reason and purpose has been restored to their sad and empty lives.

They are blogging their little hearts out, conveniently forgetting the fact that a mere three weeks ago, their most pressing concern was whether Sami and Lucas would make it to the alter. You see…these are not political analysts, lobbyists or journalists. There is nary a law, business or political science degree among them. They are simply insignificant people living insiginificant lives, and watching the world unfold in high definition glory over the rim of their coffee cups. Yet they presume to opine upon the performance of people who have spent many years, and in some cases their whole lives, studying the political climate and grooming themselves for a political career. They feel free to do so, because their ass, after all, is not on the line. In fact, their ass is quite comfortably ensconced in a cushy armchair in a quiet little suburban enclave, where they live in obscurity and anonymity, far from the epicenter of politcal history making.

But I digress. Back to my original point.

You a leader, people look to you to DO something. DO something, they implore you. Help us! And of course, as a leader, you are compelled to do what you can to address their concerns. You are acutely aware that any action you take will carry very profound consequences. Its a weighty burden, and one you are hesitant to shoulder alone. So you consult your advisors. They warn you of all the possible repercussions of every possible decision you could make. It’s a bleak picture, and whatever path you choose, someone will be adversely affected. It seems almost impossible to decide on a clear course of action, but decide you must.

The clock ticks, and with ever second that you hesitate, the people's confidence in you slips. Why doesn't he DO something? Doesn't he care? Doesn't he see the injustice, the inhumanity, the DANGER to his people? Why won't he ACT??? You feel their disappointment in you. You are acutely aware that they are losing faith. You realize that you do not have the luxury of time. Your decision must be made or you risk losing the respect of all those who look to you for leadership and guidance.

On the other side, you have your support staff, urging caution, reminding you of the rules, the laws, and the etiquette that governs your every move. They remind you of the folly of flouting those conventions, regardless of the greater good. They argue amongst themselves....there is dissention among those you most need to be a cohesive force and a unified voice. You realize that when it comes right down to it, you are utterly alone.

Then of course, there are the detractors. Those who are simply waiting for you to stumble. They salivate and rub their hands and wait for the right moment to pounce. They formulate their criticisms with great anticipation. They edit and revise and refine their reproofs until they are perfect in their clarity, stunningly clever and seemingly unimpeachable in their probity. When the moment presents itself...and they know that it will, they cast their aspersions with the confidence that comes of having time to think and rethink. It’s a luxury you do not have, and well they know it. You live every single day knowing they are ever present and waiting.

The stress mounts, the seconds fly away, and finally, with resignation, and tenuous faith that you have done the best you could, you make your decision. You wait for the public outcry. You are not disappointed. Those whom you have helped are quietly grateful. Those who disagree with you cover you with wave after wave of denigration, vitriol and righteous fury. You are vilified, verbally, editorially, publicly. The waves of contempt drag you under and pound you against the rocky bottom until you are battered in body and spirit. What you want, is to retreat to lick your wounds. What you really want to do is quit. You want to walk away and forget that you ever had the temerity to think you could do this job and do it well.

But you can't. You have to smile, and appear unaffected by the scathing criticism. You have to defend yourself with just the right degree of assuredness. You have to appear confident, but not cocky. You have to be gracious and humble, but not cowed.

Finally, the furor dies down, and you can relax. For a moment. Until the next time. You don't know where or when it will occur, you can't prepare, you can't forearm yourself. All you can do is wait, with the certainty that the next time WILL come. Until then, you try to remember and take comfort in all the good things about doing what you do.

So, what exactly is my point?? It’s a simple one: It’s just not as easy as it seems to be the one in charge. Nothing is black or white. Nothing is clear cut. There is more to making a sound decision when many lives are at stake than most people can ever know. And nobody, but nobody will ever know or appreciate the true extent of the emotional and psychological agony that goes into those decisions, except the one behooved to make them.

So I would like to offer a little advice to all those who feel compelled to criticize those in power. If you can do it better, run for office. Otherwise, shut your trap and be grateful that somebody is willing to put everything on the line to run this country, protect your way of life, and preserve your civil rights.

Somebody is working hard to give you the privilege of running your mouth.


Folks...give Obama a break. He can't walk on water or part the seas or cast out demons. And neither can he fix things overnight. I'm not saying we can't be worried. I'm not saying we can't disagree.

What I'm saying is...let's be reasonable in our expectations.

The man is only a man, after all.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

When Divorce Is A Good Thing

A couple of years ago, I found myself in a position of leadership over a fairly sizeable internet community of women.

It imploded during the 2004 election.

Though there were A LOT of issues that contributed to the demise of the community, politics was was the match that ignited the dry and crackling tinder of discontent.

I understand being committed to a cause. I understand being passionate about beliefs. I myself have been a rabid defender of certain ideals. And I myself have, at times, let those ideals cloud my judgement and skew my reasoning.

But I was completely shocked and dismayed by the ease with which people foresook longstanding friendships in the name of political fanaticism.

That experience changed my perspective quite a bit.

Ideals are good. Ideals motivate and inspire. They shape our views and our values. They give us a foundation upon which to build our lives and base our morality.

But what they cannot to do is...

Bake you a cake on your birthday because nobody else thought of it.

Take you out for ridiculously expensive coffee to take your mind off that awful new haircut.

Tell you that your ass looks fat in those jeans in a thoroughly non judgemental way.

Listen to you bitch about your rotten kids without feeling the need to remind you how lucky you are.

Assure you that just because he has been late three nights this week, your husband is not having an affair. And then offer to emasculate him if he is.

Bring you soup when your sick and chocolate when you're hormonal.

Collect your kids and take them to the park just because you've had enough already.

Do you see what I mean?

Ideals can't replace people. You can't live, laugh and love with ideals. You can't grow old with them. And they won't remember you fondly or tell stories about you for generations to come.

Recently, I reconnected with a dear old friend. When I was hurt and reeling and lost, she took me in. It's what she does. She takes in stray people. She gave me a place to wallow and lick my wounds until I was ready to emerge again, like a butterfly from it's chrysallis; stronger, wiser, and ready to soar.

We were like sisters for many years.

But then I met Husband and my life began to change. It was hard for her to see me realizing dreams we both shared. Watching my family grow just hurt her too much. We lost touch when being a Mother became the focus of my life.

But years later, we are both older and wiser. She went in search of me and I went in search of her and we laughingly found one another in the least likely of places; Facebook.

We arranged to meet, but I was nervous. I had noted that she is now a staunch conservative. And she no doubt had noted that I am a bleeding heart liberal. She has rediscovered the Christian faith in which she was raised. I, of course, am a Godless Heathen.

I fretted that this would make things awkward. I tend to keep my theological and my political inclinations to myself, but it seems that she has become very outspoken about them. Southerners in general are more expansive and forthcoming about such things, I've found. As a Northerner, I am more naturally reserved.

Husband told me I was borrowing trouble. He said that she was the same person she had always been and so was I and stop overthinking the way you always do for God's sake!

It was sound advice, but still I fretted about it. What if she tried to convert me? My stomach knotted thinking about how I could tell her I wasn't interested in asking Jesus or John McCain into my heart without fraying the thin thread of our newly rekindled frienship beyond what it could bear.

My past experiences had taught me that some people can't divorce their particulars from their politics. (Elphaba, Wicked.) Some don't want to.

But you know what? Husband was right. She was the same person she had always been. I had forgotten what a sunny disposition she has, how infectious her laugh, how warm her heart.

Politics never came up. And only once did the conversation steer dangerously near the topic of religion. I sidestepped the issue as tactfully as I could and she graciously changed the subject. It did not cast a pall on our reunion as I had feared it might. It was there and then it was gone and nothing had changed.

Maybe, at some point, when the tenuousness is gone and we once again know each other as well as we did back in the day; when the timidity has evaporated and frankness is acceptable again.....maybe it will come up.

And what will I tell her then?

I will say...

Listen...I love you and I don't want to lose our friendship again. I don't agree with you, but I don't have to agree with you to know that you are an amazing person and a wonderful friend. I respect your beliefs and I won't try to change them, even though I can't share them. I hope you can do the same for me.

And that's really what I want to say to you all today.

Don't put conditions on friendships that are really important to you. Don't sacrifice someone because their beliefs are different from yours. And don't shove your views down a friend's throat at every opportunity, hoping that at some point, they'll swallow just so they can breathe again.

I will never, for the life of me, understand why politics are more important to some people than, well...people. I will also never understand why those people have to villify and demean those who disagree with them.

I'm not stupid. Or ignorant. Or blind. Or gullible. Or sheeplike.

I simply believe differently than you.

And I believe that despite that, we can be friends.

Let the politicians hate each other. We can do better.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Facebook Is Weird

I'm kind of a Facebook neophyte.

I resisted as long as I could because frankly, I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about such things. I spent enough of the '80's looking stupid that I've developed a bit of an aversion to blind allegiance when it comes to trends.

I buck trends. I eschew fads. I am my own woman, dammit!

Do you know how long I resisted boot cut jeans?

I ate a lot of crow when I realized they balanced my child bearing hips quite nicely, made my portly posterior look merely curvaceous, and mitigated my muffin top to a very satisfactory degree.

Still...I regard anything that is over hyped with a healthy amount of skepticism.

But then Husband got a Facebook account and night after night I listened to him exclaim at having found this person or that person. He grew up in a small town where everybody knows everybody from the cradle to the grave. He was one of the very few that moved away and married an outsider.

So when he showed up on Facebook there was a lot "Hail fellow well met!" crapola going on. Within days his friends list was ridiculously long.

I began to feel a little left out. So I created an account and commenced searching.

Like most everybody my age, there are people in my past about whom I wonder: My first love. That dude with the fedora that stalked me in high school. The girlfriend who held my hair the first time I got drunk. That hot young lawyer with the BMW who completely ignored me because I was just the receptionist. The wanna be country star that broke my heart.

But do I want these people on my friends list? No. I'm a pretty private person at heart, and I don't really want every Tom, Dick and Harry from my past privvy to the particulars of my present.

I find it odd that people have friend lists several hundred people long.

Since I blew town as soon as the ink on my diploma was dry, I don't have many deep, lasting relationships with people I went to high school with. There were a few people with whom I wanted to reconnect and other than a few exceptions, I found them easily enough.

I saw a lot of names I remembered vaguely, some I remembered all too well, and some I had done my darndest to forget. I was curious about some of them, I admit. But not enought to invite them into my little sphere of Facebook familiarity.

It seems that some people have no such scruples. Suddenly, I was getting friend requests right and left from people I had scarcely spoken to.

I wasn't popular in high school, but nor was I unpopular. I sort of existed on the fringe of several different groups, accepted readily enough, but not committing myself wholly to any one of them.

I liked it that way. It gave me a certain amount of freedom, but also a little security. If one group rejected me, there was always another.

There were groups that were closed to me due to the rules of socioeconomic divergence. I was not a rich kid, so those that were privileged paid no attention to me. I wasn't scorned outright. I was simply a non-entity.

Why then, twenty five years later, am I suddenly getting friend requests from the sanctified ranks of high school glitterati?

I don't get it.

I understand that things change, people change; things that were once of massive import are now silly and sophomoric. But I still don't understand why someone wants to be my friend when they were never my friend.

Not long ago, I got a friend request from someone whose name was not even vaguely familiar. I noted that she had gone to the other high school in town, and surmised that she might have me confused with someone else. My maiden name is distinctive enough that it was a remote possibility at best, but I couldn't really think of any other plausible explanation.

I sent her what I thought was a polite and diplomatic message.

"Hi there,

I don't mean to be rude, but I'm pretty protective of my family's privacy. I'm afraid I don't recognize your name at all. I notice that you went to High School A, but I went to High School B. Is it possible you have me confused with someone else?"

She responded almost immediately.


Ummm, I think we might have gone to John Doe Jr. High together?"

Really? Huh.

I could think of no way to graciously decline her request and so I accepted, reasoning that I could always unfriend her later.

Not long after that, while trying to remember the name of another long forgotten friend, I remembered that I had brought all my yearbooks home from my parent's house years ago and went in search of them.

I located the yearbooks, found the friend, and then, on a whim, looked up the mystery gal.

When I saw her face staring back at me from the grainy black and white pages of my yearbook, it all came rushing back to me.

She once threatened to kick my ass sideways.

She was one of the tough chicks. She smoked and wore too much makeup and always had hickeys on her neck.

We called her kind "the dirts".

One day, out of a clear blue sky (as fas as I could tell) she took a notion that I was interested in her boyfriend. She advised me to keep my eyes and my hands off of him, or she and her band of hoodlum hangers-on would make mincemeat out of me.

After that, she made a point to terrorize me regularly. She took particular delight in tormenting me about my last name, which, owing to the fact that it sort of rhymes with a certain part of the male anatomy, lends itself quite well to such ridicule.

But I wasn't interested in her boyfriend. Her boyfriend scared me.

She scared me.

And now, she's on my friend list.

And thus, I assert...Facebook? Is Weird.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Day I Cried Over Chicken Soup

I've been sick this week. Really sick. The kind of sick that just makes you want to curl up in a ball and die. Which is basically what I've been doing once the boys are out the door.

My husband has been taking great care of me. But he has a job, and additionally, jury duty this week. He can't call in wifesick.

But at least I have the luxury of being alone in my misery. It's miles better than getting sick when they were little and wholly dependant.

That...oh...that was hellish.

We've never had any kind of support system you see. No family, no churchmembers, no bowling buddies.

When I was about 7 months pregnant with Diminutive One, Husband, Pubescent One and I all got deathly ill with a stomach flu. We were so ill that we spent all of our time draped over one of the three toilets in the house for the better part of three days. At one point, both Husband and I were sitting on a toilet with a garbage can on our laps, trying to contain the effluvia that issued forth from both ends.

Pubescent One was just barely out of diapers so we put him back in pullups to try to contain the mess somewhat. He was too terribly sick to even be indignant about it.

Husband ventured out once for fluids and Pepto Bismol, clutching a plastic bag so he would have something to vomit into while he was driving. The other end was just left to chance and the strength of his erm...resolve.

After the third day, I began to have terrible back pains, low and deep. I suspected some kind of kidney thing. I knew I was dehydrated, though I had been trying to drink as much as possible.

Neither Husband or Pubescent One was in any condition to leave the house, and there was nobody else. So I drove myself to urgent care. I too had a plastic grocery bag in my lap and threw up at regular intervals, trying desperately to time the bouts of spewage to the red lights along the way.

The first place turned me away. For liability reasons, they wouldn't treat a pregnant woman. I was sobbing when I left; feeling sick and scared and very alone. In the parking lot I called home to husband, crying noisily, knowing he could do nothing.

He didn't know what to do. I didn't know what to do.

Our in network hospital was a 40 minute drive on the interstate. But I was in no shape for that.

I finally got ahold of an old friend. We hadn't spoken in a while, but she came to my aid without hesitation and drove me where I needed to go.

It turned out I was in pre-term labor due to dehydration. I was admitted, given two bags of fluid and an anti-emetic, and felt as good as new within about 24 hours.

But I was mad. Nobody should have to live like that, with nobody to depend on, nobody to care. I've been fighthing to get home ever since.

And yet here I am.

So when I am ill or stressed or overwhelmed, there really is nobody to whom I can turn. There are a lot of friends and acquaintances, but none that I would feel comfortable burdening to such a degree; none that I would feel comfortable being vulnerable and needy with. That's my own issue I suppose, but it is what it is.

So, as I said, I've been sick.

Today was my turn to drive carpool, and I had fully planned to do it, sick or not. All I have to do is sit in the car, afterall. I don't have to get out, and I don't have to talk to anybody, really. I don't have to look good.

But Husband convinced me it would be irresponsible to expose the carpool kids to my plague flu germs. Reluctantly, I called one of the other moms and asked, croaking hoarsely, if she could take my turn in the morning.

She graciously agreed and asked if I needed anything. I thanked her for taking my turn and told her that I was fine.

Achey and feverish, I could scarcely stay upright while Diminutive One showered and ate his breakfast. He kept urging me to go back to bed, assuring me he could get ready by himself.

Sweet, but completely and totally untrue.

I stood at the door waiting with him as usual, but when the van pulled into the driveway, I did not go out to help him in and hug him one last time as I often do. I hid behind the door, hoping nobody would catch a glimpse of my red nosed, hair on end wretchedness.

When my friend dropped Diminutive One off in the afternoon, I had just finished showering, hoping that cleanliness might make me feel a smidge more human.


I croaked a reply, but he couldn't hear me. He came thundering up the steps.

"MOM!!! Miss Patty sent you a present!!!!"

By that time he was at the threshold of my bedroom. He held a tupperware container wrapped in a colorful dish towel and secured with a curly ribbon. Underneath the ribbon was a note and some coupons.

The container was warm, and even through the plastic I could smell the aroma of chicken soup. It was obviously homemade, with rich yellow fat dotting the top and thick noodles floating in the fragrant broth.

To my surprise, I felt tears stinging my eyes.

Well how ridiculous.. I thought. It's just soup for heaven's sake.

But it's not just soup, is it? It's the knowledge that somebody cares how you are and wants to make it better.

Nothing will ever be like it was when we were 8, and our Moms brought us warm drinks and orange tasting baby aspirin at timely intervals. When we didn't have to get up from the couch except to shuffle to the bathroom. When we watched soap operas and game shows until we were bored to tears, and sighed with relief when the Brady Bunch finally came on. When supper was brought to us on a Holly Hobby tray and we got extra noodles in our Campbell's soup and sometimes two snack pack puddings instead of one.

Nothing can be that way for a grownup anymore. The world doesn't stop for us to be sick because now...we're the ones making it go around.

But some homemade chicken soup in a plastic dish almost makes it feel like being 8 again.

Isn't that silly?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


I'm sick. The only juices flowing for me right now, are the ones exiting my proboscis in an extremely copious manner. So I was looking for something to repost for my good readers. I was browsing old posts, and though I really intended to post something older, I ran across this piece. And I like it. I hope you will too. It's not one of my more well known pieces, so maybe it will be new to even my most loyal readers.


Parenting a child who is wired a little differently has taught me a lot of things. Truthfully, he has taught me far more than I have taught him. And one of the most important things he has taught me, is that I have to be his champion.

When there is nobody else in his corner, when the world is against him, when injustice and bias and intolerance threaten, when he is being slapped with insulting labels and shoved into ill-fitting boxes...I have to be the one to stand up and demand that my child be given the same treatment and opportunities as every other child.

No. Better.

That's really hard to do sometimes. Nobody wants to be *that* mother. Nobody wants to be the one that is talked about in the staff room. Nobody wants to be the one that makes teachers, administrators and office staff cringe. Nobody relishes cultivating a reputation as a bitch on wheels.

But it's possible to advocate for your child without being the quintissential problem parent. Oh, sometimes you have to rant and rave to get what you need, but most of the time, you can accomplish your goals with the right combination of determination, politesse, and a little good old fashioned flattery.


"Ms. Firstgrade teacher, Diminutive One tells me that you kept him in for recess today as punishment, despite our discussion about it. I understand that he has to face consequences for his bad behavior, and I will support you in any other way you see fit.

But it is especially important for children like him to be allowed to have time to decompress and unleash a little pent-up energy. Not letting him have that is only doing more harm that good. Thanks for your understanding in the matter.

BTW, I LOVED the project you assigned last week. It was a really creative way to learn about___________ and we enjoyed doing it together."

See? What I really wanted to say was:

"Listen here you dried up old prune. I specifically told you not to keep him in for recess. First, it's against the law, second, it makes him do bad things. You know it makes him do bad things. He is hyper active and he NEEDS to get outdoors and run. Seriously, how friggen hard is it to understand that taking recess away from a hyperactive child is completely counteproductive and monumentally stupid?"

This particular teacher and I went around and around about this particular issue, and eventually, I did have to go into full metal bitch mode. But I always go with diplomacy first. Usually, it's pretty effective.

I have my mother to thank for these skills. And I have her to thank for knowing when diplomacy has failed. She was never afraid to do what needed to be done. She didn't care about being *that* Mom. She always demanded the best for us. She demanded that we not be overlooked or treated differently because our clothing was second hand. She demanded that we were afforded dignity and respect, always.

There is one very vivid memory to attest to that determination. I was in 2nd grade, so that must have made me about 7. Just a baby, really.

I was sent to the principal's office for wetting my pants. I sat, wet, reeking, ashamed and miserable. It was winter in Wisconsin, and I was cold. I shivered as I sat there waiting for my mother.

I remember everything about that office; the ceiling tiles stained with amorphous yellow blobs, the hard wooden bench I sat upon that reminded me of a church pew. The smell of hot lunch, decades of cigarettes smoke, and cheap perfume. The swinging saloon style doors that led to the back office. They creaked and shuddered every time someone walked through them.

Nobody looked at me or spoke to me as I sat there.

Finally my mother arrived with my little sister upon her hip. Her hair was in curlers, which were covered by a thin nylon scarf of aqua blue. She wore lipstick, but no other makeup. She was dressed in her stay at home clothes; polyester pants and a shawl collar sweater. She hadn't intended to go anywhere that day, and I knew she hated going out like that.

She was frazzled and looked very, very angry.

She didn't look at me, but she put her hand on top of my head to smoothe my hair. Suddenly I felt a little better.

"May I help you Ma'am?"

The secretary was looking at my mother with disdain over her half moom eyeglasses. Her drawn on brows were raised, and her wrinkled ruby mouth was pursed. Her hair, which was very thin and dyed a most unbecoming and unrealistic shade of brown, was teased high off her head. The sun from the window behind her shown through her teased locks, making them look as if they were aflame.

I hated her for how she looked at my mother.

"Yes, I'm Mrs. Antagonist, b.a's Mother. I need to speak to the principal. Immediately."

"Ma'am, I'm afraid he's occupied at the moment and can't be disturbed. All we needed was for you to bring b.a. dry clothing."

"Yes, well, all *I* need is to speak with the principal. I informed b.a.'a teacher that she had a medical condition and told her that she needs to be allowed to use the restroom when she asks, as soon as she asks. Clearly, that request was not honored. So either you get the principal out here, or I will go talk to the teacher myself, RIGHT. NOW."

"Ehm, just a minute Mrs. Antagonist. I'll see if he's available."

My mother paced while she waited. She jiggled my sister up and down on her hip. She touched her hand to her curlered hair.

Finally the principal appeared. I hated him too. He had made me feel ashamed.

"Yes, Mrs. Antagonist, what can I do for you today?"

"I need to know why my instructions to the teacher, that b.a. be allowed to use the restroom when she asks, were ignored."

"Now, Mrs. Antagonist, there are 25 children in that classroom. If Mrs. Meanspitefulbitch let everybody run to the restroom every time they asked, they would never have time for learning. I'm sure you can understand that. It's time for b.a. to grow up and learn that big girls don't go to the potty every five minutes. She has to learn self control."

My mother turned the most amazing shade of scarlet I had ever seen. But she didn't lose her cool. She did not raise her voice. But when she spoke, there was iron in her tone.

"She has a MEDICAL condition, Mr. BaldyBuffoon. It's called kidney reflux and she is under a doctor's care. It means that when her body tells her that she needs to use the restroom, she is INCAPABLE of NOT using the restroom.

Do you think any child WANTS to wet their pants at school Mr. BaldyBuffoon? Can you imagine anything more humiliating? She can control herself quite well if she is allowed to use the restroom when she has the urge. Which is why I explained that all to Mrs. Meanspitefulbitch. There was NO reason this had to happen and I will NOT stand for my daughter being treated this way!"

At that moment, my baby sister chose to take a very loud, smelly and runny poo upon my mother's person. She must have been so embarassed, but she never even acknowledged the fact that she had feces running down her leg, though the odor which it imparted was difficult to ignore.

"From now on, my daughter WILL be allowed to use the bathroom EVERY TIME she asks to go. And furthermore, she WILL receive an apology from the teacher for how she was treated. Do I make myself perfectly clear?"

I don't remember what he said to her. All I remember is how utterly fantastic my mother was at that moment. She was so fierce. And it was all for me.

She motioned to me and I went to her. She put her arm around my shoulders said to Mr. BaldyBuffoon,

"I am taking her home. She's suffered enough humiliation for one day. Please inform Mrs. Meanspitefulbitch that b.a. will not be returning to the classroom today."

And we left.

When we got home, I got cookies and milk and I got to watch The Brady Bunch. My mother was angry the rest of the day, but I knew she wasn't angry with me.

The following year, I did not return to that school. I have no idea how my mother did it, but she got me and my sisters into another elementary school that was outside our district, but still within walking distance.

She wouldn't make me go back there, to Mr. BaldyBufoon's school. I overheard her telling my Dad that he was a gutless moron and the teacher was an incompetent bimbo.

So you see...I had a good role model. My mother always stood up for me, even when I didn't realize that she was fighting for my own good. There were many years when we were adversaries. I thought she was mean and that she didn't understand. She didn't care about me or what I wanted.

The thing was, she did all the things she did because she DID care, and as a parent, I realize that now.

Sometimes being a Mom means being a champion and sometimes it means being the bad guy. But it always means looking out for our children. Trying to keep them safe. Trying to help them make their way in the world without getting lost. And sometimes, when that fails, it means letting them know that you'll always find them. That you'll always be where you can be found.

Thanks Mom.

You have no idea how much that has helped me do the things I've needed to do for my son.

You have no idea how much it has helped me be...fierce.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


I am particularly susceptible to earworms.

I don't know why. So is Diminutive One. For me, and him, it seems, the only thing to be done about it is just indulge it to the fullest until the spell is broken and the brain resets itself back to the default position.

For me that would be litanizing all the things that need to be done every day in the life of a wife and mother.

Recently, Diminutive One had a particularly insidious earworm. For three days, he had "Livin' On a Prayer" on constant rotation. He downloaded every single version available on iTunes, including the version by Alvin and the Chipmunks and tormented us all by playing them over and over and over, until we too had been afflicted by the beastly worm.

Now it's me.

The song that is currently on continuous replay in my head is one that I heard only once on an episode of Medium. All I could recall were the opening strains; a catchy string arrangement that I just couldn't shake from my consciousness.

Doot doot doodoodoo doot doot do

Doot doot doodoodoo doot doot do

Doot doot doodoodoo doot doot do

Doot doot doodoodoo doot doot do

Doot doot doodoodoo doot doot do

Absolutely Maddening.

I knew what to do. But I didn't know the name of the song or the artist, and for several days, I simply could not recall where I had heard it. It took some doing, but I was finally able to drag it up from the depths of my memory and then do the necessary research.

The reason I hadn't recognized the song is because I've never really listened to any of this band's music. I think I might, now. Catchy stuff, that.

Anyway, enlightened and duly saturated, I am free.

So of course, I feel beholden to infect pass it on to you my dear readers.

Behold the earworm.

Don't fight it.

Embrace the madness.