Monday, December 21, 2009

Comment: Hiatus Time

My Dear Readers,

Something's come up for me and my family, and we all need to regroup. My quips, apparently, are not inexhaustible.

So I'm not going to be posting on here for awhile. Please check back here later next month, and hopefully QCC will be back up and running.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Comment: A-Ha! Redux

Okay, something came to me today as I was standing with my daughter in the kitchen, singing into the nearest object I could find (ballpoint pen).

I love the Glee music so much because I love The Big Finish.

You know, the part at the end of each big song, the flourish, the apex, the climax, the peak.

And then the long holding of the final note as the hands go up (or down).

And then the raging applause.

Pure elation.

And the little shivers you get when you hear this part of a song, and imagine that you yourself are the star.

I love that feeling that you get when the last high note is hit perfectly, and all you're waiting for is applause.

Even though I haven't performed in years, that desire to be applauded after reaching my peak, is very much alive. (And I'm not even a singer!)

I think in some way it's alive in all of us.

We all want to do something so great that people will clap for us.

Unless you're a toddler, or a working performer, you're never gonna get it.

And that's too bad.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Comment: Zen and the Art of Scraping Snow Off Your Car

Bearing in mind that since I haven’t dealt with snow in ten years, I found it falling outside today surprisingly pretty.

I also found that scraping off my car was way Zen. Especially since it was snowing the whole time the kids and I were outside. Repetitive motions can be very relaxing. (Duh.)

It was a nice interlude in a day filled with diarrhea and isolation. My daughter was the one truly suffering.

My son actually made a song for her on Garage Band, titled (sic) “I’m sorry you have direa dessa”. It's kinda catchy.

We were cooped up all day but we broke free once my daughter started feeling better and it was truly rejuvenating. The kids ran around in the snow just like I always used to, and I scraped the snow and ice off my car.

Over and over.

The bonus? I was able to clean off the car, which had been massively attacked by a murder of crows with their own case of the trots. I mean, really.

I’m not saying I’m going to be singing snow’s praises when it’s 7 am and the car is buried, but for today, I’m all for it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Comment: The Christmas Letter

Ah, yes. Are you getting some of these in the mail these days?

The Christmas Letter.

The chance to show off our year's achievements and preen a little.

Why do we do these?

Aae they to reassure everyone else that everything is fine?

More likely, they're to reassure the writer that all is not lost.

But here's the thing: all is never lost.

Even in the shittiest, most hideous situation, something less shitty will emerge. (you can quote me on that)

Really. If you get low enough, there's nowhere to go but up.

It is all I can do right now not to write a parody Christmas letter.

But I don't want to mock anyone in particular. I'm just questioning the whole thing.

Wouldn't it be wierd if people started writing Christmas Letters at other times of the year? Dude, that would be so old school.

Letter writing as an art died a long time ago. Or at least it seems that way.

But if we wrote more often, we wouldn't only have to crow about our high points. We could talk about our troubles, too.

And maybe that would actually help.

Just a thought.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Quesiton: Wanna Join?

So my friend and I are starting an "I've Had it" club.

You know how you see those things on Facebook, and you get asked to join these stupid clubs/groups, like "I hate cupcakes" or "Litterbugs Suck" or "Wear a Dress to Work Today" or some such nonsense?

Since I'm kind of in the middle (again) of some big changes, I've just decided that I've had it.

With what?

Fill in the blanks.

I've had it with inanity, I've had it with the rat race work ethic that prevails in our society, I've had it with people who are rude, I've had it with the over-hyping consumerism of the holiday season, I've had it with the right wing hateful media, I've had it with whining, I've had it with being invisible, I've had it with Disney (have I mentioned them?), I've had it with a gross imbalance in work and life, I've had it with people sassing me, I've had it with cooking dinner, I've had it with doing laundry, I've had it with working my ass off and never seeing my husband, I've had it with the low-key decorations in this town, where are the freakin' LIGHTS, and I've had it with people selling hype that isn't real.

Are you in?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Complaint: Glee Gap

So I gathered that Glee is now over for the year.

The finale made it pretty obvious.

What I didn't realize was that it won't start up again UNTIL APRIL.

What the cluck?!

I don't want to have to wait through the entire American Idol series to get my fix again. I guess FOX figures one singing show at a time is enough.

Not to me.

I've already pre-ordered the Glee DVD of the first 13 episodes. I can't wait.

In the meantime, I'll have to get my fix from Hulu, and continue to complain publicly and bitterly about its recent termination.

Don't Stop Believin'.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Question: At what point do you say, I’ve had it?

At what point does a situation become unbearable enough that you really ought to just walk away?

Because perception plays so much a part in all of this. The whole, you are how you choose to view what happens to you, as opposed to you are a victim of your own life.

I spent a lot of time playing the victim and honestly? I’m over it.

I made choices that got me where I am now. That’s true for everybody.

I guess the question is, at what point do you look at the choices you’ve made and ask yourself if maybe you shouldn’t consider some other options?

Do we have to resign ourselves to a life that isn’t satisfying, while we wait for something to get better, even though it never will?

Or do we need to flip our perceptions and see the glass as half full instead, make lemonade with our lemons, etc.?

I don’t have any answers right now.

Just a shitload of questions.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Comment: Bleah.

Tonight, I am tired.
And also uninspired.

So perhaps I will do my post
In a way to amuse you the most.

Oh good God, could it be true?
A rhyming post from me to you?


I'm sorry. I can't do this. It's just not me. Well, okay, maybe it is me, but I don't wanna talk about that.

I spent the day with three year olds, then came home to my four and six year olds.

There's been someone on my lap or hanging from my scarf, hem and/or pant leg all day.

It's tiring, albeit fun, taking care of kids.

How do working-outside-the-home-mothers do this without losing it? I think they must just not sleep.

That's not an option for me, so I bid you good night, early.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Comment: A-HA!

Well thank goodness, my neighbors put up some lights today. Of course they were terribly tasteful, no blinking or colored lights. No, not here in Wreath-Town.

But still, at least it's SOMETHING.

I've done extensive questioning on the subject and I'm not coming up with anything substantial or useful to explain the dearth of lights around here.

I guess when your research isn't based on scientific inquiry, it pretty much bites. No control group or double-blind testing or anything.

But it's been fun, in a way, asking people about Christmas lights.

It reminds me of David Sedaris' hilarious essay, "Eight to Ten Black Men", which is also about Christmas traditions, of a sort.

Go read it if you haven't already.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Comment: Brief Updates

Breaking News: Our neighbors, the friendly and conservative doctors, put out one string of welcome snowman lights along their path. AND, as I was out running today I saw some people putting tasteful railing lights on their tasteful house.


Maybe this is the beginning of something BIG.

In other news, eye drops continue to be hell.

The weather for tomorrow? Cloudy with a chance of irritability.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Comment: A Very Specific Section of Hell

I now know where bad people go when they die: they don't go somewhere fiery and sulfurous.

They just stay where they are and are forced to put eye drops in their child's eye every three minutes.

Brought to you by the one, the only, conjunctivitis!

(And so help me, don't any of you dare write how easy it is to give your kids eye drops, or mention the fact that your kid(s) have never had pinkeye. I mean it.)

Anyway, forcing eyedrops into an unwilling child: That's pretty much my definition of hell.

I would say cleaning up congealed urine is sort of a hellish purgatory, if there is such a thing.

And cleaning up vomit, that's got its own special section for a certain type of sinner.

Me, I don't buy into the hell concept, except in the sense that hell is in your head, or hell is other people. Both make sense to me.

But really? Hell is having to put eye drops in a frightened and squirming child's eye.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Complaint: Brrrrr.

Okay, I give up: it's freaking cold.

It snowed all day.

Pretty? Sure.

But. Eleven years in California, and I did not ONCE miss the cold or the snow. Not even for a minute. Those people who live in California and say they miss the seasons? Not me.

Just feeling pretty grouchy about the low digit readings out there . Now I finally realize why I wore so many layers in my younger days; it wasn't only the punk ripped clothes look I was rocking, it was JUST PLAIN COLD.

My clothes now add several pounds to my slightly expanding frame. You know how it is when you're cold. you EAT more, and then you gain weight, and then you cover it up with fleece.

Fleece. I feel fleeced all right.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Complaint: Curse You, Darkness!

WHAT is UP with the mid-Atlantic region?





Yes, yes, I realize that it's too early for Hannukah and Kwanzaa (who both definitely light candles, so there's some light for sure) and I know Solstice celebrates light on principle.

But WHAT is UP?

There are STILL no lights other than ours on our street. And my cub reporter on the street (husband) tells me there are no Christmas lights up around his entire drive into and out of the city.

Is it because we're needing to be sensitive to the diversity of the holiday season? I mean, I saw a MAJOR nativity scene, WHICH WAS NOT LIT UP, so clearly some Christians feel it's okay to celebrate publicly.

And anyway, I'm not even Christian, nor do I celebrate Hannukah, Kwanzaa or Solstice.

I just celebrate the secular version of Christmas, and I do it with LIGHTS.

It's really strange to me, this dearth of lights. Other than that, I've found my new home to be friendly, fabulous, full of partying and massive sandwiches. All excellent things.

Is it the shitty economy and the cost of lights? I don't know.

But I'm going to do my best to find out what the hell is going on here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Question: Gotta light?

We're living in a new part of the country now, and thus, a new neighborhood.

It's now, what, December 8? And nobody on our cul-de-sac has Christmas lights up.

Except us.

We only put up a few, because the chief putter-upper is very busy with work these days. However, I thought that by now we would see more lights around us.

But apparently residents of our little neighborhood, and possibly the mid-Atlantic region at large, are not that into lights.

Not that into lights?!

There are sixteen children on our cul-de-sac. By all measures I would have expected this place to be GLOWING by now.

What people do have is wreaths; tasteful, elegant, BORING wreaths. They're everywhere.

But where are the lights?

Childhood Christmases are predicated on there being lights to drive around and look at after dark.

So the question is, do we go all out with our lights, because that's how we rolled in California, or do we act all subdued and pseudo-mid-Western and stick to wreaths? As I said, we have two measly strands of light on our house at the moment, and it looks pretty pathetic.

Should we go for it and be individuals who like lights? Or go get a damn wreath and blend in with the crowd?

Ahh, life never ceases to be just like high school. You're always wondering what the rules are and if you should play by them or not.

Ho ho ho indeed.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Comment: Time Flies When Your Kids are Young

It struck me today how my kids are really growing up. They're now more interested in other kids and/or computers than me. I am no longer the center of their universe.

Overall, this is cause for celebration. I mean, you want your kids to WANT to be out in the world doing things, not clinging to you.

But it just really knocked me out today when I wanted to sit and read and cuddle with the kids after school today, and they were both too busy and just weren't interested.

I knew this day would come.

I just didn't think it would be so soon.

Everybody always says about parenting, "It goes so fast, your kids grow up so fast, enjoy it," and when you're in the middle of a nasty stomach bug or temper tan6rum with a toddler, you think, hurry up, already.

But now? When I see my kids playing with other kids, ably working computers, quietly reading books on their own, I think, yeah: time flies.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Complaint: Not so Hot Forbidden Love

Okay, so I saw New Moon today, with another cool woman of a certain age who is a Twilight fan and isn’t 15.

At first we were the only ones in the theatre. This pleased us, as we expected to be able to make smart remarks throughout the movie.

Alas, four people showed up. We were no longer in heckle mode.

(My friend did come to an excellent conclusion, however: what we really want is Edward’s behavior, face, and dorky/sexy hair, and Jacob’s body. Damn. Taylor Lautner worked for his part, if I may just pause and objectify him for a minute.)

But the movie itself: What can I say?

We watched it. It was faithful to the book, albeit a sped-read one. It kind of all flew by with none of the nuances.

Look, I’m not saying this stuff is brilliant literature, but it has captured a LOT of people’s attention. And we’ve talked here about why: Edward is the ultimate fantasy lover: he’s attentive, chaste, and adoring. The whole getting-too-close-to-her-might-excite-him-so-much-he-might-kill-her, well, that’s a bit of a buzz harsher, but in some ways, it makes his undying love even hotter.

At least in the book.

But in the movie? Not so much.

I kept waiting for some kind of tension or chemistry between the two characters, especially since all the tabloids claim the two actors are an item.

However, there just wasn’t that much there. The whole movie felt rushed and generally passionless.

And the joy of the books lies in savoring the taboo nature of the central relationship. Edward loves Bella, of course, but he could kill her by loving her, devour her entirely. It’s not rocket science, people. It’s impossible love, which for many, many women (and probably some men) is the hottest kind.

Forbidden love is (usually) hot.

Stephanie Meyer probably kept things chaste in the books due to her religious leanings. But she was on to something in the quiet, sizzling, desperate lust between the Bella and Edward.

On the screen, it just wasn’t there.

So the movie was just, meh.

The stars have become full blown celebrities and have now eclipsed (Ha! Ha!) the franchise.

Ah well.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Complaint: Yes, it's a definitely a complaint.

It had to happen.

It’s snowing.

I’m ambivalent about it. On the one hand, it’s sort of festive and pretty. On another, it’s freakin’ cold. And wet. And there will be more snow. Much, much more, so I’m told.

I’m not excited about that.

I don’t ski, skate, or snowboard.

Maybe I should.

The only thing in the above list that even remotely appeals to me is snowboarding. And as I’m not a teenaged pothead, it doesn’t seem likely I’ll be doing that anytime soon. Also, I’m a class A wimp.

Toboganning is fun, but I’m a parent now, so it seems like it’s my job to dress my kids appropriately and watch them slide. Sure, I can slide with them, and that will be fun, but it won’t be the unadulterated fun of childhood. Because I will simultaneously be concerned about my child’s safety. Which is a bit of a buzz kill, although necessary.

Who am I kidding, I was scared toboganning as a child. I just have more reason to worry now.

And if I may add, there is not much more hellish than attempting to assist a headstrong four year old who’s never seen snow in putting on her cheap snow boots with crappy zippers.

Happy Holidays, Everybody!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Comment: Again with the Glee.

If you had told me ten years ago (or even two) that I'd be belting out a Celine Dion tune in my car on my way to get my kids from school, I would have laughed or, at the very least, mocked you indignantly.

I mean, Celine Dion?! I know I'm Canadian, but really? I'm just NOT a ballad type of gal.

I've always been more of a Sex Pistols/Clash/English Beat type of person.

But this is what Glee will do to you.

The songs that would normally make me hurl if I was unfortunate enough to hear them on the radio have been made three dimensional by the show.

Suddenly it's not a scarily skinny and tan French Canadian singing in English in Vegas (sequins required upon entry); it's a teenaged girl singing about her major, capital C crush.

And who among us hasn't been there?

We just weren't able to sing about it. (Probably a good thing, overall.)

But as I've mentioned here before, Glee allows you to relive your own teen angst again, only performed by more talented and better looking people. It's cathartic. And that's why I love it, and I suspect that's why other people love it, too. It's dark and wry, but it's also sincere.

The first post I did for this blog was about everyone secretly wanting to be a rock star.

Maybe Glee is showing us that everyone secretly wants to be a soulful singer in times of turmoil. (Okay, even I'm impressed with that awesome alliteration).

Singing does make you feel better, when you really, truly sing.

If only we could belt out our angst. Would the world be a better place?

Or just noisier?

Only one way to find out.

PS-If Jane Lynch doesn't get an Emmy for her role as Sue Sylvester, there is no justice.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Comment: I Heart Hulu.

Just watched last night's Glee. Online. I never get tired of saying that. Online TV. Love it.

So glad Terri got found out. I mean, come on, how long could THAT charade go on for? I mean, seriously, you can NOT fake a pregnancy.

Kind of a depressing ending, though. I guess it's reality. There will always be people who make fun of other people. (The end shows jocks defacing the glee club kids' photos in the yearbook.)

The show basically acknowledges the underdogs, and makes a case for them. It makes the cool kids look like jackasses.

This is pretty groundbreaking, especially for a show on FOX.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, suffice it to say the show manages to be both snarky, optimistic, realistic, and amusing.

Don't stop believin', kids!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Question: And what do YOU do when your child(ren) won't go to bed?

Just wondering.

Because as I type this, my intensely strong-willed four year old daughter is making up excuses about why she needs to come downstairs and get "something." First, to look at her backpack, or some such thing. I put the nay on that, so she didn't get all the way down the stairs.

Then she wanted a hat, but I told her, "we're not doing this, go to bed, I love you, good night." Still she kept coming down the stairs.

So I did what any parent at the end of their pathetic disciplinary repertoire does: I started counting down.

From five.

By three I heard and felt the scurrying little feet going back into her bedroom.

How long will this detente last?

Nobody knows.

But I'd best post this before she comes up with something else. She's very creative.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Comment: Things Not to Say to Someone Who is Depressed:

Just a little public service announcement:

1. Cheer up!

2. You need Prozac!

3. Oh come on, it can’t be that bad.

4. It’s just a phase, you’ll get over it.

5. But are you really depressed? Like officially?

6. Snap out of it!

7. We all get the blues sometimes.

8. Oh yeah, my cousin? She gets really depressed too.

9. You don’t look sick.

10. Hang in there!

Let’s be honest, that last one is the worst. The fact that it brings to mind a hangman’s rope is just NOT COOL. Depressed people don’t need the imagery, thanks very much!

Just doing my part for mutual understanding between depressed and non-depressed humans. Trying to share the wisdom, not the pain.

Have a nice day! (ooh, that's #11.)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Complaint: Another Banner Day at Mother of the Year HQ

Today was not a good day.

I found out I got dinged at my part time job; I was replaced for a gig I had this week because my daughter goes to school some half days and they needed me for full days.

When I picked up the kids from school, my daughter's wonderful teacher informed me that her hands were so dry between her fingers that she had been BLEEDING (my daughter’s hands, not the teacher’s; she’s not really a TMI kind of person). The teacher then gave me some apparently needed advice on how to deal with eczema.

Then my son informed me that he was the ONLY child today who had to wear his PE uniform, because it was “Dress Down Day” and everyone did gym in their street clothes and he was the only one whose mom forgot.

Some fun, huh Bambi?

Then I let them watch Phineas and Ferb and do Garage Band for longer than I should have.

We had pizza for dinner.

They made a mess and I got mad at them for not cleaning it up.

My daughter and I got into a shouting match. (If you look up dignity in the dictionary, I guarantee my picture will not be there.)

It’s been that kind of day.

It’s dark here and it keeps getting darker.

This feels like a very downer version of Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day.

And yes, my mom says some days are like this. Even in Australia.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Question: Why is whining contagious?

Why is it the negative behaviors seem to be more contagious than the positive ones? I'm just sayin'.

I don't really have anything to add on this at the moment. Just wondering why whining spreads like the common cold.

Hey wait, am I whining now, too? I think I'm whining about whining.

Dude, that's so meta I just blew my mind.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Comment: Begins with a G

My entries may be spotty these days due to the harsh reality of living in a place that is not California. It's kind of bringing me down.

Seriously, SAD is no freakin' joke. Every November is a challenge, made the more so by living somewhere where there are actual seasons that involve large quantities of clouds.

I know, I know, I've kvetched about this before. (And I'll do it again.)

Today the sun was out. So I went out and ran. Truly magnificent. (Not my running, the sun. Dur.)

As you have probably inferred right now, I don't have a whole lot to say tonight. Except sort of wanktastic talking about myself. Which is not exciting at this point in time.

I really do need to get out more.

In lieu of that, I now know the entire soundtrack of Glee Volume 1. So do my kids. Can I just mention it's slightly appalling AND hilarious to hear your four year old sing that she's dancing with herself?

Well would you look at that; we're back on Glee again. If it's not Gaga, it's Glee. What's next? Glue? Gum? Gorbachev? Gondolas?

I think I've kept you long enough.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Comment: Gaga Lady

Okay, I've got another minor obsession to go with my major obsession (Glee): Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” video. It’s, in a word, compelling.

Is it something I’d let my kids watch? Hell no.

But this new and clearly dominant pop star is the first female since Madonna to do what she did back in the eighties: grab her crotch, crawl sensuously on the floor while scantily clad, and dance, dance, dance.

However, a few differences between the performers do come up: Lady Gaga appears to be a better singer at the outset. It took Madonna awhile to get some real chutzpah in her pipes. (That didn’t come out right.)

Also, Lady Gaga, in keeping with the zeitgeist, is not just sexual, but uber-sexual. She’s also so skinny in some of the video’s shots she seriously looks deformed. She’s emaciated at the best of times. You can count the knobs on her spine.

What’s also different from Madonna, is Lady Gaga’s willingness to look creepy. Madonna never really went that route. She just transformed herself successfully year after year (no small feat). But Lady Gaga, in this video alone, goes from a dilated-eyes psycho in a bathtub to a white plastic-wrapped dancer to a gold-studded freak who says as much in her lyrics (something along the lines of “I’m a freaky bitch”). She doesn’t mind looking really gnarly.

Besides, she always counters the creepfest with her looking hot in a different way: corsets, capes, essentially naked. She goes farther than Madonna because she has to. It’s 2009. We were amazed and titillated/scandalized by Madonna’s simulating orgasm in a wedding dress on TV back in the 80s. Now, in our hyper-over-stimulated culture, apparently, we need more. More and longer crotch grabbing, more wigs, less clothes, so very, very few clothes. And even more costume changes. I would NOT like to see Lady Gaga's drycleaning bill.

She even shows what she looks like without the wigs and plastic wrapping: she’s quite pretty. But she’s not afraid to make herself look ugly. Kind of like Charlize Theron in “Monster”, but with less dialogue and more dry humping.

She also ends the video made up to look so much like a blonde Amy Winehouse it makes one wonder if she was the inspiration for the song. It’s perverse and kind of funny.

There’s no question that this woman is a performance artist. It’s been obvious from the get-go.

And it isn’t only the visuals. The song’s all right too. Granted, it’s not going to win a Pulitzer, but it sticks with you. And it’s perverse enough to please a wide range of deviants, both closeted and out.

So all hail Lady Gaga. She is the new shock mistress. I wonder what she'll do next.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Complaint: Turkey Day, My Ass

This is a cynical post.

If you’re feeling all warm and fuzzy, watch ABC Family.

I’m just not really understanding the hoopla over Thanksgiving.

In Canada, it’s no big deal. And there’s not all this folklore associated with it. It’s harvest time, so we eat turkey. We get Monday off. No big thing.

But here, yikes, it’s this BIG thing. People decorate their houses, FFS. I’m not a fan of over-hyped holidays, because they tend to leave you disappointed. When expectations are high, it tends to make the actual event less than satisfying.

I say, lower the bar.

We’ve got to stop hyping this holiday. I mean, do my kids really need to make pilgrim hats and turkey collages? The whole myth that everything was hunky dory between the Native Americans and the Pilgrims also irks me. Maybe it was a nice dinner, maybe somebody even told jokes, but it couldn’t have been all that we have made it up to be here in the US. It just didn’t end well for half the dinner guests.

I like the idea of giving thanks. That’s awesome. We should do that more frequently, My homey who wrote the Happier book says that being grateful for things truly does make you happy. And I’ve heard that other places, too. It makes sense. It’s easy to see the glass half empty; it can take an effort to see the glass half full. (especially when the darkness of this new climate is totally kicking my ass)

We were supposed to go to a major fancy dinner at my husband’s boss’s house today. But both children are sporting contagious and visually disturbing conditions that have made that plan obsolete.

So my husband, ever the multi-tasking super hero, went to the store LAST NIGHT, and bought the fixings for a very basic, mostly pre-packaged thanksgiving meal at home.

We are still going to eat turkey, and stuffing, and cranberry sauce. We are going to be glad that we are together. But we aren’t going to make a big deal out of it.

And I’m thankful for that.

Now wait a minute; I thought this was supposed to be cynical. Damn. Happy Turkey Day!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Comment: SuperGleek

Okay, I'm ready to out myself. I'm a Glee fan. The more I see of it, the more I love it.

It hits on so much: it's about the hardest period in your life, it's dark and funny, and it resolves many of its issues through song.

If only we'd sung at my high school, maybe I could have gotten the cute jock to like me instead of the Canadian equivalent of a cheerleader (Broomball star? Cosom hockey goalie?).

Who am I kidding? I WAS Glee. I mean, I was in BAND. And Drama Club. And I was unresolved and underdeveloped and terrified of my own shadow. I didn't have one tenth the moxie the Glee characters have.

So maybe that's why I love it so much. The show, I mean. Becasue I'm vicariously reliving my adolescence thanks to the good and scary people at FoxTV*.

I didn't break into song when I didn't get the lead in the school play, but now I can!

And here's the bonus: a LOT of the songs they're covering were big hits when I was in high school.

Clearly the creators of this show are somewhere in the GenerationX demographic.

I even bought Glee's first CD! And not for my kids!

What's funny is that in some ways show choir and Glee are the opposite of what I like to think I like: in college, I was an ACTING major, not a MUSICAL THEATRE major. This distinction was important to me and my friends because for some stupid reason we looked down on people with more talent and more moxie. Crazy kids.

I wish I had majored in musical theatre. Not because I want a career on Broadway, but because I could have learned to play piano, dance and become a better singer in addition to getting acting training. God, I was a snob.

So I'm allowing my more mature, show tune-singing self to embrace Glee. Those kids full of gumption have got me singing into my spatula and making me happy.

Let them do that for you.

*This blog and its contents not sponsored or affiliated in any way with FoxTV. Fair and balanced, my ass.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Yes, this is a Complaint: Bathroom Privileges

Yes, you give up all privacy in the bathroom when you have kids. This has been firmly established and is well known by most parents before the appearance of any actual progeny.

But giving UP the bathroom?

This is a new one, at least to me.

Today I was minding my own business in the loo, and my daughter came running in from her outside social paradise of neighborhood kids, desperately needing to pee.

I was in the closest available bathroom to the front door. She said she had to pee. I said I was busy.

Drama ensued.

I told her to go upstairs (or downstairs, FFS) but to no avail. If we’d argued about it much longer, I’d have had an ocean of pee to clean up on my untreated hardwood floors.

So I, er, changed stations. Not with grace, by the way.

In fact, if you look up awkward and/or humiliating and/or graceless in the dictionary, there will be a picture of me and my pulled up pants, rushing for relief.

TMI? That’s parenthood, baby.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Comment: NaNoWriMo! NaNoWriMo!

Well, I did it. I’ve written over 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month. I’ve probably never written so much about one thing. But it wasn’t hard, because I drew so heavily on my own life.

It’s easy to write about yourself. I have officially become the president of Narcissists-R-Us.

What has really been fun has been having a project. This dovetails nicely into my commentary about a great book I am reading about happiness. It’s called “Happier,” by Tal Ben Shahar. He teaches at Harvard, which is definitely NOT why I picked up his book. (I’ve visited Harvard. I hope my kids don’t go there.)

Anyway, my best friend (Hi Hayn!) recommended this book to me, or a quote from it, I forget which, and I’ve been reading it. Ben Shahar talks about how important it is to have goals; it’s not arriving at the goal that’s satisfying so much as actually having a goal. It’s of course another way of saying, the point is in the journey, not the destination. But so true.

Doing NaNoWriMo was fun because it had a beginning and ending date. It’s not officially over, but I’ve reached the minimum word limit, and that’s cause for celebration. Just doing that much in the course of two and a half weeks makes me feel (temporarily) like a rock star. That’s nice. But what’s NICER is how much fun I had doing it these past weeks. I LOVED HAVING A GOAL.

Ben Shahar’s books proves this point.

So it isn’t just about arriving at the finish line. It’s actually pounding the pavement. Earth-shatteringly novel conclusion? Not. But I just lived it and it’s always nice to live one of the more pleasant aphorisms in this life.

Keep setting goals. Don’t worry about reaching them, just set them and work on them and see what happens.

(Phew, finally an upbeat post. Hey, it’s November. We’re lucky there are any posts at all.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Complaint: Clouding my Judgment

Well, it's mid to late November, and I haven’t seen this much cloud cover since my heyday at Syracuse University, which exists in perhaps the most depressing city anywhere in the northeast, if not the right half of the country. I don’t know much about depressing cities in the southwest, but if you want to venture to the armpit of the universe, Syracuse is your place.

The school was great. The people were great. I made some friends and studied theatre, which is what I always wanted to do.

It was just hard to get up in the morning.

Because it was grey.

Is it grey or gray? Which goes with which country? I’m too sluggish to look it up. I blame the cloud cover.

Today, here in the far more festive mid-Atlantic region, it’s beginning to look a lot like Syracuse.


Seasonal depression is no laughing matter. I don’t curse the darkness, I light a candle. Really. I have special lights and everything. (And don't get scammed into buying special full spectrum boxes; according to the NIMH, you just need 10,000 lux/lumens close to you, coming down at an angle, for half an hour a day, preferably in the morning.)

But still, it’s a major downer to have cloud cover 90% of the day. I think my whole family is suffering from a form of SAD. After all, my kids were born and raised in SoCal where the sun never takes a holiday. (But the air quality will kill you!)

So ugh, bleah, urgh. So very dark here. Somehow complaining about it isn’t really helping all that much.

Funny, that.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Question:Are there days when things move so slowly they appear to be moving backwards?

I’m just asking.

Because today was so very, very long…not bad, mind you, just kind of mind-numbing. The grey weather doesn’t help much. Neither does the gray weather.

Today it took all I had to just do the most basic things: feed the kids, get them to and from school, keep them safe.

Ariel Gore once wrote that “it takes a lot of loafing to raise a child,” and she’s right. Today I pretty much loafed. And she also said, “if it’s all you can do to get up in the morning, just get up in the morning.” Drop the expectations. Lower the bar.

Sure, maybe it’s because I’m fighting a virus, and maybe it’s because my son is home sick, and maybe it’s because I’m so tired I can’t concentrate and last night I put the salad in its Tupperware away in the cupboard, and maybe it’s because my husband is working so much I don’t recognize him when he shows up next to me in bed, and maybe it’s this dismal, dark weather.

But today? It was all I could do to get up.

At least I’m up. And dressed. Do I get points for that?

And even though today was a total molasses in January day, it wasn’t all bad. It just felt like the clock was moving backwards.

I suppose it’s possible. Ever heard of the Fundy reversing tides in New Brunswick? (not the one in NJ, because if there IS one there, it's probably toxic)

I’m just saying. Anything is possible.

But right now, what’s possible for me is the bare minimum.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Comment: Worry Dolls

My son came home with a worry doll he’d made in his “World Cultures” class today. These strike me as ironic given yesterday’s post. If only worries could be erased by the magic of telling a small doll, putting it under your pillow, and letting it take the heat.

It’s something sweet you tell kids, but I know better. Some worries just don’t go away on their own.

Wow, sure is a cheerful post today, eh!

On a completely different note, I just printed out the nutrition guide for the local pizza place and I may never eat a meat-covered pizza again. 490 calories PER SLICE. And a Club Panini is 1020 calories, and that’s a freakin’ SANDWICH.

If everyone posted the fat contents of the food they served, people would order something less offensive to their bodies. Seriously. It’s sobering.

Somehow I’ve managed to make pizza depressing.

I should just stop writing today’s before I end up villainizing the tooth fairy or something.

Thanks, I’m here all week!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Comment: Sweeping Rice

There comes a time when you have to sweep some rice. I’ve been very lucky that so far, my children have generally been fairly easy to take care of. Sure, the little one’s more ornery than a bedbug (and you know how they are) but overall, it’s all been in the realm of normalcy.

What I think is starting to happen is that we’re getting into the whole, little kids, little problems, big kids, big problems scene. My son is getting scared about things he didn’t used to be afraid of. He is more anxious and yet also sassier than he used to be.

Normal developmental stage? Possibly.

Me, I think I’m sweeping rice. You know how it is, on the rare occasions that you actually serve it, and millions of grains stick stubbornly to the floor, and it’s a bear to clean, but you do it anyway? That’s where we are right now. There's rice on our floor. And I need to clean it up.

I’ve noticed how hard change is for my son. I know because I have that problem myself. There’s a condition I have that he could very well have that makes it hard for him to deal with change, among other assorted bonus mental illness treats.

I don’t mean any of this lightly; but don’t you think it’s kind of obsessive to be watching your child for obsessive behaviors? Or perhaps it’s simply massive irony. I know I have OCD. I can’t tell yet if he has it. But I’m wondering. And of course, I don’t know if it’s me obsessing or him.

Pretty tricky, eh?

Anyway, there’s no need to panic. After all, I’m an expert. But it’s still so very hard to see him struggle, and I can only imagine what my parents went through when I went through this for YEARS, undiagnosed until I was 21. It’s not that they didn’t try to figure out what was wrong, they tried hard, but nothing added up. I didn’t have the vocabulary or the comprehension of what was happening to me to say, yes, I think I’m having obsessions and compulsions, everybody. OCD hadn’t even made Donahue yet. There was no way anybody was able to figure out what was up with me. I couldn’t explain it to anyone who could have known.

So I worry about my son. And I wonder if he’s worrying the same way I have, and do. Or, possibly, I’m worrying about the wrong thing. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Who knows? I’m just trying to be patient and not project my neuroses on him. This is easier said than done. But really, as parents, isn’t that all we can ultimately do? Try NOT to spread our issues on our children, as we love them into infinity and beyond? (Ten points if you get that reference.)

So I’ll keep listening.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Question: How do people walk around with all their history in their heads?

How does that not drive you right up a tree?

I mean, when I hear a song from my misspent youth, I’m right back in that headspace, full of wistfulness and slight pain, in addition to euphoria and foggy memories that tell me I once lived a far more exciting, albeit not very happy, life.

I love my life now. And I didn’t love my life then. But nostalgia is a funny thing. I guess I want to be like the characters in those time travel books, where the person goes back in time to do things they wish they’d done. But then of course the ending wouldn’t be the same.

What I want is to go back in time, correct and/or relive events WITHOUT IT CHANGING ANYTHING IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW.

Is that so much to ask?

With the technology that has taken over our lives, when even seniors citizens are twittering and the average age of Facebook’s biggest subscribers is over 30 (I just made that up, but you get my point), couldn’t someone figure out a virtual reality where we could go and relive or readjust our memories? I’m talking memory wiping, a la Eternal Siunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I don’t mean The Matrix, where it’s all fake.

Or maybe I do mean that. Maybe I want a part-time Matrix. Something I can plug into when I’m feeling nostalgic, where I can interact with my past WITHOUT RECRIMINATION. Then you could live a little bit of your so-called heyday without the sexually transmitted diseases, hangovers and angst. You could correct all your screw-ups and try anything out with no consequences.

Come on, all you brilliant and socially delayed geniuses at CalTEch and MIT, get on it! PLEASE.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Comment: The Evolution of Tears for Fears vis a vis Emotional Growth

And no, that isn't the topic of anyone's music history PhD. YET.

So I’m listening to Pandora radio after a long absence, and although it’s repetitive, it is nice to immerse oneself in the era of one’s choice. It’s helping me with National Novel Writing Month, (37, 376 words, yeah baby!) because I’m writing an opaquely-veiled work of fiction based on my life. (Ah, narcissism.)

Anyway, I’ve basically been kind of inventorying my life over the past twenty five years and it’s pretty interesting to play around with it and embellish anything I feel like; hey, it’s fiction! Love that freedom. A lot of memories are bubbling up.

But I also feel like I’m watching myself grow up. I was once so angry, so fucked up, so full of drama and angst. And now? Not so much. I’m generally happy and thus have less drama, angst and anger. This is a good thing.

It’s kind of like Tears for Fears. Alert readers of a certain age will remember that early TFF was a MAJOR angst fest. “Mad World,” “Suffer the Children”, “Watch me Bleed”?! And the whole album was called “The Hurting”, FFS.

Heavy indeed.

But over the years, those TFF boys really lightened up. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” evolved into the total Beatles rip-off lovefest “Sowing the Seeds of Love.” They even have an album/CD called “Everyone Loves a Happy Ending.”

And as I read and write my way through my life thus far, I find that I’ve mellowed out just like those pre-emo/new romantic/new wave/fabulously-depressed tenors. (Weren’t they both tenors? That’s the high male voice, right? I'm sorry but you're just going to have to look that one up yourself.)

I may not be as interesting and compelling as I used to be, but I sleep better at night and I’m happy to be alive. And though I still listen to old and angsty Tears for Fears, I think I’ve found my happy ending, too.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Comment: Dammit, I forgot the arugula.

I can't believe that those words came out of my mouth today, in my car, alone, with my groceries.

Where do I begin to explain how not like me these words are? I mean, if you had told me twenty or even ten years ago I'd be saying this exact sentence, I guarantee I would have mocked you mercilessly. (well, okay, maybe mercifully, if that's possible)

Anyway, it really is astounding to me that I am attempting to make a recipe I read out of Real Simple magazine, with my family of four, in a cul-de-sac in a lovely little city. I just never saw it coming.

I think part of my shock is that since I'm doing NaNoWriMo, (34,493 words and counting) and my novel is highly autobiographical, (surprise, surprise) I'm ending up reexamining earlier parts of my life that were highly dramatic and fairly alternative to where I am today. They're not unusual, but I couldn't have predicted with any accuracy the trajectory of my life at the very messed up age of 17. I guess maybe nobody could.

There are parts of my past I'm wistful for, unhappy with, and feel grateful are over.
But it's an interesting experiment to go back and look at yourself through your developing years. Arguably ALL our years are developing, so I guess I mean the youthful years. Life is so full of promise and drama.

And sometimes things work out better than you expected.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Complaint: Dammit.

I miss the dog.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Complaint: To Be Young, Incontinent and Drunk Or How Did this DOG End Up on My Bed?!

Well, you know, it's really a good idea to check your messages over the course of a day. Usually I'm fairly religious about it, eager to know who called me and what they had to say (I don't get out much.)

So imagine my surprise when I got a call from my husband tonight asking, "Did you get my message?" to which I replied, "No." He then went on to tell me that his office's "mascot", (should that even be in quotes?) Odyss the dog, needed a place to sleep for the night.

Apparently the twenty-somethings the CEO put in charge of taking care of him took off to New York for their own little odyssey of a big concert and swanky shindig of some sort. You know, typical twenty year old stuff. And they forgot about Odyss.

Enter my husband: responsible, kind, loyal, and, to my surprise, not immune from CDS (Cute Dog Syndrome). When I voiced some mild concern over this dog coming to our house, he actually did it: he used the DOG VOICE. "ohh, what are we gonna do wiv him, boody boo?"

It was all highly irregular.

So I got irritated, but of course consented, even though we got BRAND NEW LEATHER COUCHES TODAY and we also have a NEW RUG. I have already read my kids the riot act about jumping on sofas and such, so now I have to police a puppy?

He's been here one hour and he's already whizzed on my son's bedroom carpet twice.

When will the madness end? This dog has us all under his spell. He's cute, dammit, and he follows you around panting: your own personal, non-threatening stalker. It's like having another non-potty-trained extra messy kid around the house. It's like having a hairy toddler, who barks, in the house. That's what it is. And his barks sound like my kids' coughs.

The kids absolutely love him. I told my husband that if he brought this dog home, even for one night, we'd end up getting a dog. I'm not anti-dog, I grew up with them. But I have enough trouble working IN and OUTSIDE the home taking care of three other people. Do I really need to add another one to the list? Especially a hirsute one with such poor bladder control?

Ah well. For now all I can do is grimace and kvetch and possibly even grouse. But I'm also highly amused.

Where will he pee next?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Complaint: Assemblies in Purgatory

I was subbing at my kids’ school today (not in their actual classes, though), and we all had to sit through a pretty dull assembly. It really took me back to my days as a kid in school, when assemblies were such a big deal because you missed “real school”. But none of them really stand out to me now. I just remember being glad I wasn’t in class.

I imagine the students who watched this program will soon forget about the one they saw today, too.

Don’t get me wrong, this quartet of Andean musicians was technically gifted. And they’re probably really nice people.

But they weren’t really interactive, or dynamic, and they were aimed at a slightly older audience than elementary-aged kids. As I listened to their probably rehearsed patter, I thought, damn, people, shake things up, be dramatic, have some fun with this! It was like watching a boring lesson accompanied by music.

I was really impressed with the way all the kids handled it. It was an HOUR. That’s LONG for preschoolers and Ks and 1s for that matter. My four year old daughter apparently said to her teacher, “At the beginning this was fun, but now it’s boring.” Sadly, I agree.

This group of musicians, who I don’t think ever actually mentioned their band's name, was brought to us by an arts education program. On paper I imagine this looked great. Cultural awareness, fun and different instruments, singing other languages.

But in reality? Meh.

The worst part was they had all these rhythm instruments lying on the edge of the stage from the very beginning of the show, and they waited UNTIL THE LAST SONG to invite up kids to play them. By the time the selected kids got up on stage to shake their tambourines, they were done. Even they looked bored.

Everyone was pretty polite. But I was bored too, and I hate to say that about anything artistic. The performers did not have stage presence, and if you don’t have that, how do you get anyone to pay attention to you when you perform?

As for the rest of the day, I had to teach third graders in a computer class with a lesson plan missing vital components RIGHT AFTER THEY HAD SAT THROUGH AN HOUR OF PAN FLUTE and that cute little instrument that looks like the love child of a mandolin and a ukulele.

Third graders are energetic at the best of times. These kids were OFF the wall. So we played an improv game I quickly thought up and we managed to keep from going right off the rails.

But I’ve learned some things today. The assembly WAS educational: too much Andean music wears a person out, and NEVER SUB on an ASSEMBLY DAY. Unless you are fresh out of teacher’s college and have no children of your own.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Complaint: The King of Ziplocs

My son has organizational issues. He’s a collector, first of all. Pennies, stickers, rocks, twigs, pebbles, shells, pencils, markers, crayons, oil pastels. He likes to have everything in its place, in little Ziploc bags.

At first, this was a good idea. He was putting things away, organizing, look at all those developmental skills!

The problem is, he doesn’t have any idea where to put the things. Plus his sense of inventory is poor, to say the least. He has NO IDEA what he has. But then I always get this surge of guilt as I am attempting to purge some of his untouched bags or old kindergarten homework, for fear of letting something precious go.

My son puts things in bags and hides or abandons them in random places, that I’m pretty sure he then immediately forgets about. We live in a bigger house now, and that’s riskier. There are a LOT more hiding places. There are also tons of new places to lose things.

I’m babbling now, I realize, because I’m just trying to work this all out. But I think that I got my son too many art implements and gave him too many baggies and the whole thing just spun out of control.

He has stuff, he wants more, but he doesn’t even know what he has. As that wonderful book by Peter Walsh says, It’s ALL TOO MUCH.

Periodically I go on a rampage, as I’ve intimated, and I end up getting rid of what I consider to be the least missed objects. And most of the time, he doesn’t notice things are gone. Ditto for my daughter.

But I live in fear of throwing out that one special something that belongs to my kids. It might only be a scrap of paper to me, but to them, it could be a magic treasure.

How do you reconcile that?

So for now, all the plastic crap that breaks once you use it, like the little parachute people and gummy animals that rip when you pull them apart to hard, (which is ALWAYS what happens), ALL that stuff goes.

I save mementos, and writing. But I don’t have to save EVERYTHING these children bring home from school, do I? I mean, surely Albert Einstein’s mother once in awhile just got fed up and threw some of his shit out, right? “Dammit, Albert, get those theoretical notebooks off my ironing board!”

What’s my point? I don’t know. I guess I’ve fallen into overconsumption, so it’s no surprise that my kids have, too. It’s up to me to help them reduce, reuse and recycle.

And stop using so many damn plastic bags.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Complaint: Medication Conundrum

Missed last night due to migraine.

Don’t they just suck?

But I have this medicine that technically I can take for migraines, but it interacts with other medication I absolutely positively have to take.

Besides, one of the side effects is POSSIBLE BLINDLESS, SOMETIMES PERMANENT.

Um. I don’t consider BLINDNESS a side effect, and I’m sure the unfortunate person or people who ever had this horrible thing happen to them don’t either. THAT is NOT a SIDE EFFECT. That’s a TRAGEDY.

Warning labels are REALLY scary.

It’s probably best not to read them.

But sometimes doctors prescribe something for you and when you ask the pharmacist about it, you are warned that it is “not recommended in conjunction with your current medication.” Not recommended as in slight nausea, or not recommended as in heart attack? Help me out here.

Anyway, the migraine, such as it is, is fading. At a certain point you just have to dose up on ibuprofen or caffeine or Alleve and get on with your life.

When you’re a mother, you don’t get any days off.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Comment: Bubble-wrapping our kids' feelings.

This is not a good idea.

Much as we hate to see our children suffer, espeically at the hands of other children we may find slightly, shall we say, bratty, we have to let our children fight their own battles.

This was illustrated for me in vivid shades today when my son was excluded from a game that the neighbors were playing. They said it was "girls only." But the boy next door, the brother of the ringleader, was allowed to play. He was the wagon driver.

It absolutely killed me to see my son run back home crying that he couldn't play. My husband and I were both outside, and we told him the same thing, go tell them, you can SO play! He did, but they did not relent. What's worse, the neighbor mother was outside being ineffectual. ARGH.

I told my son he doesn't have to play with people who are not nice to him. But he found his niche jumping into leaves with the kids only moments later. Adults take longer to let go of grudges and ill will. The kids were over it before the leaves fell to the ground.

Hours later it was all a memory, with apologies and peace offerings. All was right with the world.

It's just so hard to watch your kid get hurt. But I don't want to be that hyper-interfering 'helicopter parent' who's always buzzing within earshot.

On our small cul-de-sac, there are fourteen children under the age of fourteen. My children are going to learn some hard lessons. And some fun ones.

I'm going to need to get out of their way.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Complaint: I forgot about the layering.

I spent the past ten years wearing at best one full layer of clothing, given the California balminess to which I grew accustomed.

So now I’m finding that here in the Midwest/East Coast general region, I need layers.

Lots and lots of layers.

When I say I'm cold to people here, everybody laughs and gives the same advice: "Layers. The secret is layers!"

I forgot about that.

My Canadian upbringing surely prepared me for this. But years of blood-thinning Cali heat have taken a toll on my system.

The good news is, it doesn’t matter how toned, skinny, fit or fat you are. It’s all buried. Under layers.

So my obsessing about my muffin top? Not so noticeable here, at least for the winter.

There’s a reason we eat a lot at the holidays, at least out here. We need the fat to stay warm.

So I’ve been buying the kids long underwear and introducing them to the concept that it has to be worn UNDER something. They just put theirs on and pranced around the house. I was all, “No no, you put clothes on TOP of them.” Since we’re into our fifth week without a functioning furnace, they soon got the hang of it.

Right now I’m wearing fingerless gloves (How Dickensian! And why, exactly is that considered Dickensian anyway? Did Oliver Twist wear these in the book, or did a costume designer put them in “Oliver!” and start a trend?) two wool sweaters, a scarf, an undershirt, long underwear, jeans and socks with wool slippers.

And I’m STILL cold.

I just hate the feeling of long underwear pants riding up under your jeans. I mean I really hate that feeling. So I’m not wearing any and that’s probably why I’m so freakin’ cold. Did I mention I’m also wearing a fleece hat with ear flaps?

Ah well.

Frigidity trumps fashion.

I’m already looking forward to spring. I’ll probably have to stop eating so much cake around, say, March. That gives me four months of culinary abandon.

Let the gluttony begin.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Comment: Sacroiliac. Twice.

Okay so I had the car radio on to the oldies station (a.k.a. the music I got drunk to in younger days) and Blondie’s “Rapture” came on. She was actually pretty innovative with it, since she wasn’t known as a rapper and hip hop was just being born. But I digress.

Anyway, while she’s singing, she says “back to back, sacroiliac”. Seriously. Her son was released in 1981.

And that made me think about the fact that Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks” also mentions breaking the sacroiliac. One of the first rappers to be commercially successful, his song was released in 1980.

Coincidence? I think not.

So is a Blondie a copycat? A Kurtis Blow wannabe?


It is simply this: sacroiliacs were HUGE in the early 80s.

Betcha didn’t know that.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Question: Is there anything more painful than doing word searches at the end of the day with a small, frustrated, tired, child?

I'm just curious.

Because off the top of my head, I don’t think there’s much that’s more excruciating after a long day at the salt mine. (so to speak)

My son is very bright, and I’m not just saying that because I’m his mother. He learned to read at age 3, he is a virtual GPS in the flesh, and his math is pretty damn good.

But when it comes to word searches? It’s a bloodbath.

He’s never been particularly good at looking for things. He’ll stand in front of the refrigerator and say, “I can’t find the milk,” while he’s staring right at it. It all seems eerily familiar...

But really, in the past two days he’s twice accused me of not putting something of his away as he’s looking at the very receptacle into which it has been placed.

Let’s parse that sentence, shall we?

(1) What he couldn’t find was staring him right in the face.

(2) Shouldn’t HE be putting his things away?

I’m just sayin’.

Anyway, the word search was kicking his ass. He was getting so frustrated and I felt badly for him, but I won’t be there in college to help him on his exams so at some point you have to let your kid struggle a bit in order to succeed. As painful as that is.

I showed him a strategy of how to systematically look for the letters he needs in the word search, but getting him to do it was painful. It’s drudgery, to be sure, and it happens to be something that I find fairly easy. So it was hard to be patient as he struggled. Plus, I have yet to see him struggle at school so far.

He moaned. He groaned. He whimpered. He whined.

Then he found a word.

The whole thing is humbling. Because of course, our children will struggle. Just as we did, and do. And it will be painful. But we have to find a way to ride it out. When he was done with his work, he was really pleased.

That’s worth a lot.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Comment: Change of Plan

Okay so I’m doing something I hadn’t planned on doing this month. I’m doing NaNoWriMo. Yes, you read that right.

It stands for National Novel Writing Month.

It’s such a cool premise: people all over the world spend their Novembers writing novels. They can be the shittiest, dumbest, long-windiest pieces of crap, but at the end of the month, you win if you have 50,000 words strung together in some form.

It’s already day three, so I’m writing like a bandit (or is it a banshee? No that’s squealing) I’m writing like a fiend, I guess you could say. (Because a bandit just takes stuff.) I'm trying to catch up, since most people probably started two days ago. Luckily I have a high typing speed and am more than a little bit hyper.

ANYWAY, I have to confess that my blog may suffer as a result of my future carpal tunnel syndrome due to NaNoWriMo.

But so be it.

I am willing to suffer for my art.

You’ll hear more about this as it goes on.

I think this is a very good way to spend a gloomy November. Being creative is the next best thing to sunshine! (Gag). But it is fun.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Complaint: Bleah

I'm a little too irritable and exhausted to write tonight.

Hey, at least I told you! That's progress, right?


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Complaint: Meetings are boring.

Why is this?

I just spent an hour of my life that I want back at a homeowners association meeting for my neighborhood. (I was lucky enough to have missed the first forty five minutes. Imagine my disappointment.)

Anyway, how is it that you put a group of really nice and generally intelligent people in a room, and they're more powerful than Unisom? I just zone out the minute people talk about sewers or tree lines or root systems.

And yet I go on high alert when I hear crime statistics.

Then I'm bored AND anxious. It's an odd sensation.

I remember some of the meetings from my old condo association. They were brutal. I once got roped into serving on one of the boards or committees. Let's just say I'm not meant to be in that type of position of power.

And I remember staff meetings at the high school where I taught, and how the staff meetings were just zombiefests. NOBODY could stay awake and NOBODY gave a shit. It didn't mean the teachers or administration didn't care about the kids, the school, or there jobs; it was just that NOTHING WAS HAPPENING in these endless meetings. And yet they continued.

I wanted to be doing work to prepare for teaching, not discuss the minutiae of the bathroom renovations in one section of the school. And I know the other teachers felt the same. Do administrators enjoy meetings? Does anyone?

Basically, meetings are an excuse to eat fatty food, bad coffee and waste your life. If we could just distill the essence of what needed to get said and done at a meeting without all the endless bullshit and blathering in between, meetings could last five minutes and free us up to do what we're supposed to be doing instead of counting ceiling tiles and praying the fire alarm goes off.

I'm just sayin'.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Comment: No, it wasn't PMS.

But it probably was exhaustion.

The reason I didn't write yesterday, I mean.

Long story short? I bonked my head pretty hard on the corner of our mantle in our new and furnaceless abode. That's a pain that lingers.

So I went to bed with a bad headache. But all is well today.

And it's Halloween.

Does anyone else think it's ironic to be playing "Everything Counts" by Depeche Mode while small children paw through our bowls of candy? I'm sorry, but that's hilarious. And "Enjoy the Silence" is not bad, either. Oh do I amuse myself.

The kids are out trick or treating with their dad, who is so busy in a new job that he barely has any time for them (or me). The kids were so excited they were vibrating. This is truly a holiday for the little ones, in spite of what you might see at Party City with the skanky grown up and even little girl (YUCK! WRONG! NO SKANKY CHILDREN PLEASE) costumes that are wildly inappropriate for most people, especially those under 18.

Yes, I'm old. Deal with it.

So Happy Halloween! I'm sure we'll all eat too much candy and regret it later, but so be it.

It only happens once a year.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Comment: The Ambivalent Doctor

I had an amusing experience today at the doctor's. I went in due to a nagging earache that had just gone on for far too long.

The doctor, a middle aged, mellow and chatty guy, wasn't really sure it was too big of a deal. But it was some kind of deal.

So he prescribed me antibiotics.

What struck me was how, unenthused he was about the diagnosis. I mean, he was all, "Well, it's not a BAD infection, it's just sort of a SMALL one, so you know, if it was ME, I'd take antibiotics. I mean, amoxicillin isn't you know, a hard core drug. Do you get yeast infections? Eat some yogurt. Yeah, I'd take them if I were you. Call me if you're not feeling better!"

This speech didn't exactly inspire confidence.

But it was refreshing in its honesty. I knew I wasn't in grave danger and just wanted to find out what he thought, since he can see into my ear, and I can't.

But it was the most grudging prescription for antibiotics I've ever seen.

But, you know, I think I'm going to take his advice and like, probably take the antibiotics.

But it's not a BIG deal.

Comment: Turtlenecks are back!

At least, for me.

In this new wintry climate.

With no furnace.

So, yes, I’ve rediscovered turtlenecks; I wore them when I was little, and in fact once in seventh grade had to wear one to hide a curling iron burn which obnoxious boys were claiming was a hickey. (As if. I barely knew what a hickey was, and was mortified at the thought.) (Whereas today’s tweens are probably giving hickeys in fourth grade, right? Augh.)

Anyway, turtlenecks were on my clothing rotation back in my Canadian childhood. But since moving to Southern California, I eschewed anything with a neckline higher than my clavicle, and hadn’t looked back.

Until today. Since I now live in a colder climate. With no heat. Did I mention that?

In fact, I am wearing a turtleneck right now.

I feel so hipster/dufus/beat poet. Like I should be in a café scatting or something.

But see, for years even if I had WANTED to wear a turtleneck, I couldn’t have.

I had this little gag thing.

It started when I was pregnant. I couldn’t even wear a necklace when I was pregnant. If you brushed your hand within three feet of my neck, I gagged.

If a commercial came on TV, I gagged. (but for slightly different reasons)

I gagged when I got dressed and pulled something over my head.

Button up shirts? No way.

Turtlenecks? Not. Not. Not.

So this is a return to an earlier time. I didn’t even realize middle-aged women wore them, though if LL Bean and Land's End are any indication, I should have. I thought seniors and babies wore them, and the babies’ are onesies, natch. I do not need a snap on crotch part for my turtleneck, thanks very much.

I feel a bit like Carl Sagan, or my Dad in the 70s, with these, but maybe I'm gonna try to make this work for me.

My fashion possibilities are endless! I can layer! I can wear turtlenecks in different colors! After all, turtlenecks are neither punk nor preppy. I’m not sure what they are.

But I’m willing to find out.

Won’t you join me on this journey?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Complaint: Sizes 5-10, 11.

Those numbers ring any bells?

If you're a lady who shops for shoes from catalogs or online, you do.

Yes, it's how sizing availability is indicated.

Have you noticed this?

If you're some petite and delicate 5, you haven't. If you're Mama-Bear-just-right size 7, likewise.

But if you have feet the size of BOATS, you're aware of this.

It's foot segregation. And discrimination.

Why don't they say sizes 5-11? Why do they have to separate the 11s from the rest of the pack? When we wear new shoes, do we not bleed? We are human beings. We have feelings.

Why do all catalog and online retailers feel the need to ostracize those of us with the largest feet in the room?

Isn't it bad enough that people see our feet enter said room ten minutes before we do?

When I was teaching preschool, the kids used to trip over my feet. You think I'm kidding.

Now, I used to be a big, boat-like size 10. But after I had my kids, two things happened: my feet grew and my boobs shrank and dropped like anchors. (TMI? Sorry.)

So now I am, most of the time, a size 11.

Oh, the humanity.

So I really do NOT need to be reminded of this fact every time I open a Land's End or Gap catalog (not that this happens too much. Doc Martens are much more civilized, with their Euro sizing, bless them.)

So the next time you're perusing some junk mail, take a moment and look at the sizing availability for women's shoes.

Do you not see how we ache?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Complaint: Every month a damn cupcake.

What is it with the ultra-celebratory nature of our children’s accomplishments and/or major holidays?

I just got a three paragraph email from a highly intelligent, heavily employed mother who is all a-flutter over what Halloween games to play at the first grade Halloween party EVENT. She is concerned about logistics and needs input.


It’s like the preschool graduations, and the cheering every time your kid eats something, or defecates, or rolls over in bed. Do we have to make everything an EVENT?

For freak’s sake, can we please stop making a big deal over every single thing that happens? Can we please stop applauding our children every time they do something?

My husband works with a lot of younger adults, Generation Y-ers, and they need accolades just for showing up to work.

This is not cool.

I’m not saying I’m not guilty of cheering everyday occurrences on occasion. I’m an enthusiastic person. But schools celebrate so many holidays, and there’s always a frenetic, exhausting "party" with a cupcake of some sort involved. Can we get a little more creative, please?

I mean, do I really care about what games are played at my son’s 45 minute Halloween party EVENT? He doesn't. Does it really matter if I go out and buy (or make) (ha ha!) candy corn cupcakes? Do we really even need to discuss a MENU?

It’s too much.

Let the kids wear their costumes and sing a few songs and be done with it. It’s not like they’re not going to get boatloads of sugar soon enough.

All this hoopla is overwhelming, exhausting, and is turning our little kids into needy, self-centered creatures who need to be congratulated for showing up at school on time or taking a whiz.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Comment: Oops.

Oh my goodness, I actually forgot to do a post yesterday. This is the first time in a year that this has happened.

Other times that I haven't posted, the decision has been conscious, and has been due to one of the following reasons:

-crushing depression
-sheer exhaustion

Just so you know.

Guess I'm not like the mail man, through wind and rain and all that crap. Then again, postal carriers don't actually deliver one day a week. Should I take a day off once a week?

We've been settling into our new/old-house-without-heat and so far it's okay, except for the no heat part. Luckily we are in a warm snap, so it's not so bad. But when you go to bed in two pairs of socks, two shirts, long underwear and a fleece hat and wake up to FROST on your car, you know it's cold, and here we are only in October.

My in-laws just arrived yesterday, so my reason for not posting was distraction. My in-laws are amazing people; they are home improvement superheroes. They come in and fix lights, switches, sticky doors, hooks, handles. They bring rugs and chairs and ideas and inspiration and in one day our place is already much homier. Sure, I unpacked every single thing myself, and I did a good job getting our house up and running, but I didn't get to the fun part. Decorating.

And I can't believe I just wrote that.

I never thought I'd see the day that I'd have anything more in common with Martha Stewart than a vagina. But there you have it.

I am actually, gasp, a little bit excited about tending to this house.

Not the cleaning. That's not exciting. But is good exercise when you have multiple sets of stairs and bathrooms to deal with.

But I'm actually getting ideas, a vision, if you will, for our now-empty living room, for example.

Is this how most people behave? Like, do most people look forward to decorating their house? Because it's a new feeling for me, I have to say.

And I think I like it.

So if I don't post in the next few days, it's going to be due to...decorating.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Comment: It’s official. I’m a working mother.

I may not “go to work” every day, but I do some days now, and that counts.

Isn’t it sad that I need my work to count only if it’s outside my house? What is wrong with society that motherhood is not revered as an absolute calling and profession worthy of admiration? Does it need to become a paid position to get any credibility in the straight world?

I’m continuing reading Kristin Maschka’s book, “This is Not How I Thought it Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today.” She talks about ambition, and gives the best definition I’ve ever heard.

She says, ambition is the desire to become really good at something, AND to have recognition by the outside world that you’re really good at that something.

This is why motherhood is so thankless. Because NOBODY recognizes that you are doing a good job. You’re NEVER going to be an expert. Your kids will develop neuroses no matter what you do and other people will judge you harshly no matter how hard you try.

So it’s hard to be ambitious in the mothering profession because there is no recognition of achievement and there are no standards or practices or licenses, thus nullifying it as a profession in the first place. Oh yeah, and no paycheck.

Why don’t mothers get social security?

There is a lot to be angry about, in terms of how mothers are marginalized, taken for granted and/or ignored. But complaining about it isn’t going to help. The prescription is action. And that’s what Maschka’s book is all about.

She encourages the reader to challenge his/her own assumptions, or "mental maps" of what mothers are and what they do, what fathers are and what they do, and so on. Challenging deep-seated assumptions is the first step to undoing them.

For example, I knew I would stay home full time to raise my kids when they were small. Now that they are about small to medium, I am salivating to get back to external paid work, if only part time. I've just started and I love it. But of course, I have to figure out how to juggle all the family and house work I do now PLUS the additional number of hours being taken up by a job.

I assume it’s all on me to take care of everything, and to protect my husband and his career.

What if we challenged this assumption?

I’m no fool; I know my husband’s earning power happens to be much higher than mine. But there have to be ways to make our lives as parents and professionals work TOGETHER.

So I will keep reading, and reimagining how family and work lives can coexist.

(No, there's no punchline here. Admit it, you were waiting for a sarcastic quip, or a witty barb to end this. Not tonight.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Question: Can the words “Bite me” be used as a parenting strategy?

A girl can dream, right?

Because the other day I really felt like saying that to my daughter. She was sassing me up the wall and saying mean things to me and I have to admit, I took them a little personally. So I wanted to say “bite me”.

But of course I didn’t. I left the room, took some deep breaths, took what I’ve been taught is called the parenting high road. It’s very tiring taking the high road.

And lonely.

I used to look at people who yelled at their kids in public and think they had no self-discipline, no morals, no something. But maybe they were just tapped out.

When your kid punches you, calls you a chicken (which would be funny if there weren’t so much venom infused in the tone) and says “I hate you”, it’s hard to take the parenting high road.

I spoke at length with my best friend about this, the coiner of the parenting high road phrase, and she and I both ended up discussing the fact that there’s probably no book out there on spiteful parenting.

Spite as a parenting technique?

Sure, it’s fine when the child is spiteful.

But not when the grown-up is.

Doesn’t really seem fair, does it?

But there it is.

I guess I can't say "bite me" to my kid.

At least not out loud.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

When will this ever be over?

Imagine that sentence loudly whispered in the silent gap between music, dance and applause. Nothing sotto about that voce. Reflexively, my hand clamped over my child's mouth, just for a second.

Imagine the squirmiest child ever trying to sit still for two and a half hours. The intermisison M and Ms did NOT help. Imagine my surprise.

Yes, we took our kids to the ballet.

For the first time.

But honestly? Not the last. Considering their ages and the length of the program and lack of Disney fairies, really, Sleeping Beauty: The Ballet went really well.

I had forgotten that at ballet performances there are five zillion solos, followed by five zillion preening poses as applause wafts toward said soloist. There is a lot of clapping. And waiting for something to happen.

Really, they stripped the plot of Sleeping Beauty down so thin you could see through it. But no matter. I wanted my kids to see a live performance of a non-kid performer. Some culchah.

My mom took my sister and I to the ballet and other related dance performances very frequently as children. We would get a loge at Place des Arts in Montreal, and sit up high and feel important and special. And in awe of whoever was hoofing it down on the beautiful stage.

So I wanted to give my kids that experience. Maybe I started them a bit young, but no matter. We all survived relatively unscathed (although there was a major meltdown in the car on the way home by the four year old. Couldn't really blame her. It took almost as long getting out of the damn parking garage as the whole second act.)

I wonder if we're up for the Nutcracker...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Question: How does it feel to know that what you are doing is beautiful?

And that YOU look beautiful doing it?

We went to the ballet yesterday (more hilarity on that to follow in next post) and as these perfect people with their shiny costumes and glittery tiaras contorted themselves into shapes most of us could never assume, even in utero, I thought, wow, what’s that like, to be doing a thing of beauty that is almost universally recognized as such?

Because even if you don’t like ballet, when you see a ballerina whip around on her toes ON THE HARD STAGE, did I mention it’s her TOES? It’s hard not to admire it, and to find what she’s doing impressive, and, in some way, beautiful.

Because I’m not particularly coordinated, I will never feel or look like these ballerinas. I just don’t have it in me. I’m Olive Oyl with post-punk elements and a muffin top.

But the way these ballet dancers had the grace and the dignity of dance, the way they posed and preened for the audience had me floored. They KNOW they’re super fantastic and gorgeous. Even if the actual person isn’t that good looking, what they are doing makes them beautiful. People gasp, ooh, ahh and clap.

What must that be like? To be applauded for being and doing a thing of beauty?

But more on the applause tomorrow.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Complaint: Mother Burnout

A few questions for the audience:

Why am I always the one left alone in the kitchen at the end of the day?

When everyone is out playing, why am I inside cleaning up their stuff?

Why does everything I have have to be for somebody else all the time?

Why am I the only one who knows we need toilet paper, milk, laundry detergent?

What would happen if I just stopped doing any of those things?

May I please have a turn?

Because the kids and the spouse, they always get top billing. God forbid I should want a career. Then I'm seen as selfish. If I don't aspire to a career outside my home, I'm perceived as an idiot. Staying at home makes me stupid and seeking work makes me selfish?


These ideas are not originally mine; they come from Kristin Maschka's great book I'm currently in the middle of, called "This is Not How I Thought it Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today" and I can see that I need to keep on reading, because from where I sit, there are a lot of mommas feeling the pressure. I'm hoping for some blueprints for my life, and the lives of my mother friends who are fried, taken for granted, and withering on the vine.

Who says mothers have to give up everything? Dads don't. People kind of humor you when you say you want to get out, do something for yourself. It's fine, as long as it fits in with your child care schedule. And even if you do get out or are already at work, who's going to do all the housework, the cleaning, the shopping, the doctors' appointments, the hair cuts, the dental appointments, the endless pick-ups and drop-offs, while you're at work? Guess what? You are.

Oh, hell hath no fury like a mother scorned.

I really feel like running away and joining the circus.

But they'd probably have me taking care of the kids and cleaning up urine there too.

So I guess I'll go read more of my book.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Comment: OMG. This book rocks!

Yes, I’m here to tell you today about an incredible book that has just come out. Kristin Maschka has written a book about motherhood (a mamafesto, if you will) that really resonates. “This is Not How I Thought it Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today” is sharp, reassuring, witty, and timely.

Wasn’t I just kvetching about mothers’ underappreciated status last post? What did I just say?

I haven’t even finished the book, but I urge you to go out and buy it. If you’re feeling ambitious, you should get your husband or significant other to read it, too.

Maschka, whom I’ve had the good fortune to spend a brief but very pleasant amount of time with, combines personal history with spot-on research about people’s perceptions and realities about motherhood and how to make it work for EVERYONE in the family.

Finally, somebody is (eloquently) saying what so many of us women who are mothers have been thinking: Did I really sign up for this?

I’m feeling really validated as I read, knowing that I’m not the only one who woke up one morning in Pleasantville and wondered how I’d become the cook, chauffeur, cleaner and child care go-to person in my marriage.

Mothers and More, which is mentioned frequently in Maschka’s book, is where I met Kristin, along with many other wonderful and similarly-disgruntled women who are mothers and have been wondering how they got where they are.

Finally, ambivalence is being addressed intelligently. The bonus? There are actual solutions on how to have a more balanced life. Kristin walks the walk, talks the talk, rocks the block.

I’ll write more about this book as I read it, but it couldn’t come at a better time for me, personally; I’m in transition, and I’m about to experience some of the challenges of going back to work.

I’m glad I have Kristin Maschka to help guide me through it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Complaint: Now with 70% MORE Vitriol!

This a post about the day of the poop scoot.

In short, I’m feeling that my job as primary caregiver today is particularly thankless.

While my husband deals with big business, internet traffic and human adult relationships, I am home, in a cold, dark, house, in a cold, dark, climate, waiting for the endless parade of home repair people who give me windows such as “we’ll be there between twelve and four, we’ll call you on the way” who then bang on the door at 6:30 pm when you trying to put your kids (alone, as usual) to bed. Guess he forgot to call.

Anyway, as you can gather from this cheerful post, I’m in a mood. But let’s be fair: there are reasons for the mood. I’m not just venting for kicks. It's just better than the alternative.

I’m irritable beyond words because we live in a cold climate, our furnace part is somewhere in transit and is for a basically defective furnace anyway, and it’s cloudy here. Like, a lot.

Coming from beautiful, sunny (and polluted) California has ill prepared me for this slop. And it’s slop. It will spit rain for awhile, then get cloudier. Then a little more rain. Some gusts of wind. And, apparently, tomorrow, snow.

I’m not against snow per se. BUT I AM AGAINST IT IN OCTOBER. IN CALIFORNIA, WE’D BE IN SANDALS RIGHT NOW. If you lived here, you'd be irritable by now.

Anyway, I was talking to a new neighbor today, who is a physician who just left full time work to be home with her kids this past Spring. She was telling me about how one of her former patients was ill and was wishing desperately that she (my neighbor) were still in practice to be there to help her. There's a lot of appreciation for doctors. Meanwhile, her son tells her he hates her on a regular basis. If it’s not biting, it’s kicking; if it’s not kicking literally, it’s the metaphorical kick to the solar plexus with the most powerful weapon the kids have: their words.

I too heard “I hate you” today. Over and over. For the first (but I'm sure not the last) time.

I guess I knew it was coming, but since I’m pretty sure I never said it to either of my parents, it kind of smarts.

Which brings us to the poop scoot.

Earlier in the day, I discovered a brown stain on the edge of my daughter’s bed. It looked like chocolate. But brother, it weren’t chocolate.

It was poop. From a naked, scooting bottom. That had been rubbed into the bed by an inadvertent and stealth poopy butt.

So I cursed, cleaned it, and stripped the bed and washed everything. (OCD much?)

Then, to pile on the shit further, this afternoon, after the kids were home from school, my daughter had a poop accident in her pants. When I was cleaning her up and readying her bath for a good soapy soak, that’s when the “I hate you”s began.

Such fun.

So basically, my point today is, when you take care of your kids day in and day out, most of the time, nobody thanks you. Nobody really recognizes the hard work you are doing. You’re just taken for granted.


Mothers are freaking superheroes. Thank the next mother you see.

Comment: Still getting a connection from my corner so here goes...

So we're dealing with the whole furnace issue. It's been ten years since my husband and I even lived in a climate that required a furnace, so this is big. Our house has a really old and malfunctioning furnace. It needs to be replaced. Like, now.

Which brings us back to that research/agonize/eventually act out of desperation cycle that we seem to dwell in as a family.

I understand that a furnace is not a t-shirt; it's a big investment. How we get to purchasing one is where our paths diverge. I want to talk to the furnace people; my husband wants to do research. But he doesn't have time to do it. And I don't know the first thing about furnaces. So I want to ask a specialist. Sure, I know, they're trying to sell me something, but they know more than we do. When you go shopping for a mattress, you count on the salesperson to tell you something about your options, even if you do take it all with a grain of salt. Is this a vicious circle or what? Or maybe a funky Mobius strip, snake swallowing tail, no beginning and no end? (Hey, that sounds kind of Zen.)

The bottom line: it's week two, and we are still without heat. I'm getting very good at lighting fires. (In the fireplace. Relax, people!)

I'm learning to appreciate the concept of layering. The last time I wore this many layers, I was a punker in upstate New York, an angry young woman with jet black hair and raccoon-eyes who smelled of menthols. (Remember that, Solipsist?)

Today the layering is not about fashion.

I've had a hat on for two weeks. And now I'll never be able to take it off, since the hathead case is unbelievable. I have a sleeping hat and a running hat and a day hat.

I probably love hats because of Mary Tyler Moore. My best friend and I are devotees of MTM. We even met two years ago in Minneapolis, so we could pose in front of the bronze statue of Mary throwing her hat. We had strangers take our picture, and we took some of them, too. It was a riot.

My friend and I regularly remind each other that we are indeed going to make it after all, even when things feel bleak. No other slogan works as well for us as the ole "hat hurl."

I love you, Jane!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Comment: I'm baaaaack.

At least for a few minutes.

Now let's get serious. I'm sitting in a chair in our new house in the exact position where we can snag the Internet, and it's intermittent, fickle and challenging, so who knows how regular these posts are going to be. This one may not even make it on until the fifth try. I will persevere.

But I will say this: we are moved in.

We have no heat, no Internet (yet), no TV and no microwave. I didn't realize I was taking on the Luddite lifestyle when moving to the Mid-Atlantic region, but apparently, I did. We did.

The kids don't seem to miss the screen at all. And they have space heaters.

I want a space heater.

I miss utilities.

And hello? It's freakin' cold here. They have seasons. Imagine my surprise.

So we are all trying to recalibrate and get into some kind of routine. I will do my level best to get posting regularly again after the 15th, when our Internet connection from the Tortoise Company deigns it appropriate to flip the switch.

I'm dealing with some slight rage issues. Can you tell?

Talk to you soon!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Complaint: Disney Trauma

I just sat through an hour of "The Suite Life of Zach and Cody: Lost at Sea," on Disney Channel (natch). It was our last night here at the apartment (a.k.a. The Land of Disney Crack) so we splurged and let the kids stay up late to watch it.

Big mistake.

The only person attempting to follow the plot was me.

That's pretty scary.

But what scares me more is that after awhile the bad acting doesn't seem so bad. It's really over-acting, or "indicating," as my Drama profs called it in college.

A good example of indicating would be a person chattering their teeth noisily while hugging their arms around themselves saying. "Brrrr, I'm c-c-c-old!"

Sort of a master of the obvious style of acting.

Anyway, I'm a little freaked out now. I'm going to need to go have a glass of wine, a hot shower, and read something written for people over the age of 11.

We're moving to our new house tomorrow, and I don't know when the DSL/Internet is being set up.

So please, mind the gap.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Comment: Crackheads for Disney

Yes, my children are officially addicted to the Disney Channel. I blame the temporary, one-bedroom apartment we’ve been in for four months with its lack of space and abundance of cable TV.

How could they resist the allure of badly-acted kid sit-coms? (kidcoms?) Seriously, there is some truly pathetic acting going on up there on the kiddie screen.

I’ll spare you the analysis (for now). All I can say is, if PBS Kids is whole grain, full on 150% wheat bread, then Disney is Wonderbread bleached to within an inch of its life. Quick sugar high, then loooong sugar crash.

I’ve become lax in the past few weeks since I know that we’re leaving the land of Mickey and Friends. And we’re moving to a place where we have no TV. No modern TV. Which means that even if we get TV reception, order it or whatever, we will need a TV on which to receive it. Which means that my husband and I will have to make…dum dum dum…

A big ticket purchase.

This is something that requires months, nay, years, of deliberation, research, agonizing, and an eventual trip to Best Buy/IKEA/Target where we still won't buy anything. We tend to wait until things fall into our lap.

The only furniture we’ve ever bought is the following: mattresses. No bed frames. Well, okay, a cheap-ass bunk bed from Ikea which is now in about 3000 pieces in the kids’ room in the new house.

We’ve only ever bought tables from friends who were getting rid of them. We’ve gotten a couple of couches and a chair from friends for free.

So let’s recap: mattresses sans frames, second hand tables, and hand-me-downs.

That’s right: We’ve been married for thirteen years and we’ve never bought furniture together. (The bunk beds were bought by my husband while I was out of the country. Doesn’t that sound exotic? It isn't.)

This is the level we’re at.

So if we continue at our current molasses-in-January-style speed, we may not get a TV until the kids are in high school.

So there should be plenty of time to get over the DTs.

But who knows? With my husband’s newfound interest in football owing to our geographical location, we may get a TV before, say, middle school.

We'll be right back.