Saturday, January 31, 2009

Comment: 25 Things

I’ve been receiving these Facebook entries from friends this past week or so that consist of a list of 25 things we don’t already know about them. They’re really interesting. I’m seeing and learning things that I don’t think some of these folks would bring up in casual conversation. The confessional and personal nature of Facebook seems to let the floodgates open.

In the non-mocking spirit of such a list, here are 25 things about me you may (or not) really want to know, but are being rewarded/punished with as a faithful reader of this blog.

Facts about The Queen of Italics a.k.a “Emi Ha”:

1. I don’t hate “Womanizer” yet, but it is wearing on me a bit.
2. I love to run.
3. My hair changes color periodically and has since I was a teenager.
4. I think Courtney Love is more talented than people give her credit for (though her social skills? Not so much.)
5. I’m delighted and amazed to hear from old friends and bask in the reflected glow of their successes.
6. Sometimes I forget to floss.
7. Although I’ve lived in the US for many years, I still say “eh” in my native Canadian tongue.
8. My feet are not symmetrical. (And no, I don’t want to talk about it.)
9. I love sleeping in.
10. Most days don’t go by without an ingestion of chocolate in some form.
11. I have a long and deep-seated fear of being ordinary.
12. “Bright as Yellow” is one of my all-time favorite songs.
13. What happened to Neneh Cherry? She was so awesome and then she dropped off the map, only to return with a mediocre import-only CD.
14. I’m still watching “Lost” on my laptop screen.
15. In spite of living in Pasadena, CA for ten years, I only saw part of one Rose Bowl Parade, and that was from quite a distance.
16. I used to be a professional actor who was good at improv comedy.
17. I think The Clash are the all-time best band ever in the history of the universe.
18. I never exaggerate.
19. I’m very lucky to have the life I have.
20. Very lucky.
21. Seriously.
22. I enjoy baby showers as long as they don’t involve the melted chocolate bar in the diaper guessing game.
23. I hate rats.
24. If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, it would be cereal.
25. I love to dance, but I’m more along the lines of Elaine Benes than Beyonce.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Comment: On Social Interaction

I’ve noticed that in informal and casual acquaintanceships, I tend to exile myself to the sidelines; for fear being left out, I preemptively leave myself out. Or, possibly worse, I start yapping away, taking center stage when maybe I should just hush. (This never happens with close friends. I yap, but I know it’s okay.)

I watch my son in social situations and I see how desperately he needs to be invited into things. I remember that in myself as a child (and now, to a thankfully lesser extent); it wasn’t enough to just join the teeming mob of kids running amok on our safe suburban streets, I needed to be invited. I was high maintenance back then, too. Ah well.

So I see in him what I perceive to be universal—the desire to be included, the need to be invited, beckoned, enveloped in love from others, if you will. (And I will.)

And it kills me to see kids, especially, struggling with it. But if even I, a raging extrovert, find it hard sometimes to join in and feel comfortable around people I know only slightly, how hard must it be for shyer types?

For years I assumed that everyone around me knew each other better, was more comfortable and having a better time that me, but I don’t think that’s actually true. Aren’t we, underneath it all, seething lumps of insecurities and ego issues?

Friendship is harder to find when you’re following your children around. Gone are the halcyon days of college when you were surrounded by an ocean of your peers, free to pick from the vast array of possibilities. Social situations are plentiful but not usually deep. So how do you navigate these waters?

It also comes down to how you define your friends. My son is refreshingly candid about these things. He’ll say to me, “Albert isn’t my friend” and he bears young Albert no malice. What he means is that he doesn’t play with Albert. I’ve tried to teach him that it isn’t kind to tell someone you’re not his or her friend, but as my son sees it, if the shoe fits, you know…it’s simple. You play with your friends. Other people? You just know them. And sometimes that makes it hard to interact with them on a casual basis. I see it in my son at birthday parties, and I share his feelings. Sometimes you just don’t know where you fit.

What does that mean for adults and our ego-entrapped selves, all enigmas wrapped up in riddles wrapped up in grown-up clothes? We talk to people all day, but who among these are our friends?

The definition of friend has dogged me for years. It’s partly due to my obsessively semantically-accurate nature that I need to know what a friend is, and I need to know if the person I think is a friend IS in fact my friend, that is, they see me as a friend.

But grownups can’t go around asking each other “Are we friends?”, “How bout now?” Because we would lose further popularity for being so blazingly neurotic; we would be insufferable.

With Facebook, we have so many “friends”, but how many of them truly know you? And truly like you? I ponder these questions, because the word friend is used so casually nowadays. You can be friends with someone you’ve never met. I don’t know if I buy that, though. With the influx of Gen Xers to Facebook, I’ve been lucky enough to come back in contact with many old friends; and they are friends, because I hung out with them in my formative years and they were nice to me in spite of my flaws.

But ultimately,we have to have our own personal definition of friendship, I guess, and not sweat the rest. I know what a close friend is: I have a few of those. That’s easy—I can be myself around them and tell them anything and they don’t cringe or head for the hills.

I guess that’s really what a friend is—someone you can be yourself with. One hopes that said friend feels the same way around you, otherwise it’s a one-way friendship, and those are doomed.

The moms at school pick-up are not all my friends, but sometimes I talk to them. But they don’t know me. And that’s okay. I try to zero in on women I would like to be friends with, but it’s hard to develop a friendship in three minute increments every weekday. You just can’t get a whole lot of depth with these casual acquaintances. So how does one take the relationship to the next level? Ahh, that’s Mommy Dating ™, and that’s a subject for another day.

Just know this: if you know me, and you like me, and I act like a goof in front of you, I consider you my friend; and I hope you feel the same way.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Comment: Ode to Mayo

So it’s come down to this, again. By a 3 to 1 margin, the rabid readers of QCC are laying it out there for mayonnaise. Give it up for the fattiest, most delicious condiment of all time! (or at least, this month)

Sure, ketchup has its place, but I’ve always preferred vinegar on my fries (as per my Quebec heritage) or, drool, the blessed mayonnaise we love. Have you had mayonnaise on fries? It’s exquisite.

Mustard is useful in the sandwich realm, you know, processed meats enjoy it; and hot sauce is fine for those who have a thing for watery eyes and burnt tracheas.

But mayonnaise, dear mayo, you are the Ruler of All Condiments, the RAC.

I know it’s not really that good for you, but it does contain eggs, and that’s protein, baby. There’s something comforting about mayonnaise. I think that’s why it won the poll. You can’t be comforted by ketchup—delighted, maybe, but not comforted.

And neither mustard nor hot sauce can be considered comforting by any stretch of the imagination. They’re too tangy, too zippy, too in your face.

Give me mayonnaise in times of trouble. It’s the balm that soothes.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Question: Feeling a little...lost?

So it finally happened. The snake has swallowed its own tail. (Actually, that’s not really true, but I love saying that.)

I will say this: Lost is back, and as convoluted and filled with a sweaty, shirtless Sawyer as ever.

There’s an end date in sight, (next season), so the creators of this complex little show have an awful lot to do. There are many, many threads that have either been dropped or twisted around so completely that I’m starting to wonder if the writers even know what’s going on. And how many writers are there? From the looks of it, plenty.

Part of my problem, I’ll admit, is the mode in which I watched last week’s series premiere. I watched in on on a computer that can just barely handle the task. So it was very jerky and the sound was synched way off so it was a little like watching a Japanese B movie. But I was dogged and determined to see the show that I have stuck with through thick and thin.

Now that the island and/or the survivors are traveling through time, it’s getting dicier figuring out when things are actually happening, although so far the clues have been pretty clear. (Locke went back in time, saw the heroin-filled Mary statues, and the plane crash; shortly thereafter, the victim of the crash is but a skeleton. It’s back to the future! We get it, sheesh.)

But the two-hour season premiere left me a little cold. Again, it may be the way I watched it. The cinematic Lost has always played better on a large screen with few to no commercials. Watching on my rinky dink laptop at a slow speed with multiple commercial interruptions (limited, my ass) probably doomed the whole enterprise.

But still I watched.

It’s just that I have so many questions.

Why is Desmond special? Does this relate back to the whole constant thing? Why doesn’t Penelope call her psycho dad off? How did he ever even find the island? Nobody else can. What happened to Nikki and that guy who got buried alive way back when? Are we supposed to believe that Ben Linus is a good guy? Is he messing with our heads personally? Where’s the smoke monster these days? Haunting a Club Med in Fiji? Why doesn’t Richard age, and does he have permanent eyeliner on or is it his natural look, and if so, does it mean something symbolic? Why aren’t all the survivors on the island really tan? They can’t still have sunscreen. The only tan one is Sawyer, and we’re treated to his bare chest every other scene, it seems. (Not that I’m complaining, but what about some of the other Lost hotties? I kind of like the nerd vibe of Daniel, but I bet his chest could act as a reflector.)

I feel a little bit like I have to see this series through, even though I will probably be disappointed. How can any ending tie everything together and leave the viewer satisfied? I don’t think it’s possible. Maybe that’s the whole existential point. Life doesn’t make sense, so why should this show? The metaphysical is inexplicable, dude! It’s all been Libby’s dream. Fade to black, crank up the Journey song.

Or maybe I’m not giving the writers enough credit. Maybe they’re just going to go balls-out in the last season and explain EVERYTHING. But I doubt it.

We’ll probably feel just as lost when it’s over as we did when it started.

And maybe, just maybe, that’s the whole point.

But at least there won't be any Journey playing at the end.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Comment: I like it.

"Boy you don’t try to front I-I-I know just just what you ah-ah-are."

I’m currently obsessed with Britney Spears’ song, “Womanizer.” It’s not even that good, but boy does it have a hook. It’s like a sickness. I can’t stop playing it over and over. This happens to me from time to time, but I’ve got it bad with this one. The song isn’t really anything new, but it is catchy as all get out, which means once it’s in your head, that’s it for the duration.

And others evidently feel the same way. It’s already inspired three covers on YouTube/Yahoo Music. And that’s just professional musicians. I’m sure there are more non-pro covers out there. If you want to have a good laugh, check out the version by “The All-American Rejects.” I didn’t know who they are (I’m old) but they do a great acoustic version of the song. In some ways, they transcend Britney’s version. The lead singer uses his range way better than she does. I know that she can actually sing, so it’s annoying to hear her lamely not-singing, all gussied up on her version. Lily Allen does a great version of it, too; you can actually hear her eyebrow raised as she sings.

There are plenty of cheestastic electro-effects and predictable back up vocals, and the lyrics aren’t anything to write home about (unless you’re in seventh grade) but Britney taps into something universal: the lothario who leaves victims of lust in his wake gets his comeuppance. (There’s a really lame pun about lollipops vs. suckers. Oh well.) It’s a great f-you song for high school girls. It’s the kind of song you expect from a performer even younger than Britney, who’s been married twice and has two kids. (Or maybe that makes it more apt?)

But when you think about it, she’s still a child. This is the person who said “hit me baby one more time” when she was barely out of braces and went on to sweat with a cobra on stage and make videos where all she wore was a translucent suit of diamond-like jewels.

Lest you think I’m being glib, let me say this: I have sympathy for Britney. Not as much maybe as that rabid fan on YouTube awhile back, but I honestly feel for her. Because her life has been under a microscope since before she hit puberty, and it seems clear from some of her behavior last year that she has some fairly significant problems of a mental nature. Not to be casting stones; I think it makes perfect sense that she had some sort of breakdown. She’s a kid in a woman’s body (which got dissed ferociously last year, and I’d just like to say for someone who had two kids she looked just fine, thank you very much). I hope she got some real help, and not some bullshit pseudo-therapist who was looking for fame or recognition. I really don’t know. She appears to be having a comeback.

And what I love is the moxie this woman has. In “Womanizer” she actually says “You say I‘m crazy? I got your crazy.” Damn straight, Britney. You went through a lot and you’ve come out (hopefully, anyway) the other side looking good and selling records, er, CDs, er downloads.

I watched the video of “Womanizer” and it’s pretty classic early-to-mid Britney. It’s your basic formulaic pop tart stuff: the requisite multiple identity/four costume-change and lots of herky-jerky dance moves in bad wigs. Britney has some racy scenes in a sauna that are arguably pornographic. There is NO evidence in this particular video that this woman ever bore children, FYI.

Anyway, I’m hooked on this song and I’m not sorry. I’m routing for Britney and her angry, sassy, catchy song.

PS-Re: lyrics: At the risk of losing what little street cred I had (umm, zero?), what the hell is a “re-up?”

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Question: If you could go back, would you?

In time, that is. And if so, what would you say?

All these Facebook reconnections are reminding me of days gone by. The people I’m in touch with come from many different eras of my life. The one area that’s taboo, of course, is exes. There cannot be contact with any serious boyfriends. Not as an old married lady.

But the renaissance of Facebook Friends has got me reminiscing about both good and bad guys I went out with.

It brings to mind a sketch from “The Kids in the Hall.” Dave Foley and Scott Thompson played the two C/Kathys, and were not only brilliant cross dressers, but they made spot on social commentary along with their dew drop Tootsie-style glasses and lacquered hair.

There was one point where the two K/Cathys were mocking a temp, calling her a slut, actually. Then Cathy said, “I don’t mean to be a prude, but I think all of your exes…should fit on a bus.” Then the other Kathy says “Not that you’d ever want to be on that bus.”

But what if you were? What if you woke up one day and all your nightmares came true and you found yourself sitting on a bus, alone with every guy you ever went out with?

What kind of comments would you make? Would you hope to be looking fabulous so you could be vindictive and say, “Ha ha, look what you’re missing out on!” or would you take the Oprah approach and sit and tell them what they did wrong and how they need to make it right? Or maybe you could be the other Oprah, who wants to share and talk and find out about your life and how it’s been and wish you the best.

I’m not sure which Oprah I’d be. Or how I’d want to be dressed. But I do feel queasy at the thought of the experience. Every other guy I went out with was wonderful. And I screwed up a lot of relationships due to immaturity, significant issues, flakiness, etc. But that means that every other guy I went out with was NOT wonderful. Honey, I made some bad choices. I picked guys who weren’t nice to me and didn’t respect me but for some reason appealed to me. I fit right into the textbook of the girl who has really nice guy friends she should be dating, but isn’t. Instead, I dated assholes (at least 50%) of the time because I didn’t know better.

So many young women do that, much to the chagrin of the nice guys who are their friends but want to be more than that. Looking back on it, it’s sort of pathetic the way my girlfriends and I would swoon over the “bad boys” and then get hurt and wonder why. Apparently we weren’t really quick on the dating learning curve. But, let’s be honest, most young guys are kind of obnoxious and immature and self-centered. There are some nice ones in there, to be sure, but really, most young guys just want to get laid.

So I don’t want to ride the particular Facebook bus that brings me back in touch with former flames. If we became friends later, sure, it’s fine, the relationship is neutralized and the two of us can be sociable without repercussions, because there was that chapter when we hung out in a friendly and platonic matter. But nasty break-ups? Long term boyfriends? Not on my bus.

Sure, it would be interesting to see how people have aged, what they’re up to, if they realize they were utter shmucks back in the day, but ultimately? It just doesn’t matter.

Know what I did when I finally got my act together and met a guy who treated me nice? I married him. He and I are the only ones on my bus.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Question: How do you do it?

When you see a piece of clothing on a rack, do you imagine not just yourself in it (looking fabulous, natch), but your whole life improving as a result of this particular purchase?

Shopping is a magical activity for most women that I don’t think most men understand. When we look at a cute blouse, it’s not just a cute blouse. We see the potential to change our lives; when we imagine ourselves in said cute blouse, we are undergoing a transformative process, whereby the properties of the blouse combined with our bodies will meld together to create: CuteBlouseGal (CBG).

When I wear this blouse, I won’t be plain old me; I’ll be the kind of woman who wears that exact kind of cute blouse, who is breezy and articulate and handles stress well. CBG looks people in the eye, has a sassy spirit, but is friend to all who seek her out, and she loves a good mocha latte (or a good pinot noir) once in awhile.

CBG doesn’t complain, sometimes hums hip songs to herself, and always has cute purses. Men think she’s fabulous and flirty, never skanky. Women love her chic style and positive attitude. She’s peppy, but not nauseatingly so. She’s edgy, but can conform to the mainstream when absolutely necessary.

That’s a pretty tall order for a blouse.

I look at that blouse and my future as CBG and yes, I want that blouse right now!

Do you see why it takes so long for us to decide what to wear in the morning? Or what to buy?

We’re trying on an identity when we try on clothes. And we’re looking for a better version of ourselves. We’re trying on who we’d like to be, as opposed to who we are.

Sometimes a blouse isn’t just a blouse.

Clothing as self-expression is nothing new. I’m sure Australopithecus Woman figured out a way to distinguish herself from the other cave gals pretty quickly by placing her palm leaves just so, or wrapping her mastodon fur rug insouciantly over her shoulder. Fashion has been around as long as we have.

But transformative shopping, the alchemy of merging self with better-self-through-object, while highly encouraged by advertisers, still strikes something deep in the core of the shopper. We all want to be better people; will this skirt help? Am I the person who can pull off this skirt? Will I learn to assert myself better if I wear this scarf?

When we shop, we want to change, to be better, cuter, hipper, funnier, fill-in-the-blankier.

And lately, as in the last six years, I’ve gotten into the habit of not trying on clothes. Since I had kids, that pretty much obliterated out any possibility trying clothes on at my leisure and assessing them assiduously in the tri-mirrored dressing room.

I literally cannot remember the last time I tried on anything in a store. And yet I remain consistently clothed. I just end of spying a shirt I like, seeing some idealized version of myself in said shirt, and poof, into my eager arms it goes, and off to the check out we fly.

It’s not until I get home that I try my new article of magical clothing on and realize that it just about never lives up to the hype. (One should really try clothes on in the store. But who has the time?)

I’ve lately been on a ruffly blouse kick (probably ill-advised). If you know me, you’re now busting a gut, because I’m not really the ruffly blouse type, per se. Combat boots and vintage overcoats, more like.

But maybe I could be—aye, there’s the rub. Maybe I could be the kind of person who wears ruffly blouses.

So I now own three ruffly blouses that sounded great in the store, but in reality? Not so much.

Because I imagined myself rocking those blouses. I’d subvert the ruffly blouse paradigm. I’d turn convention on its head and wear a ruffly blouse with cargo pants, and Doc Martens, I’d be a grunge/post-punk/girly-girl…something! Push the envelope! Rock the vote! I was going to have it all!

Instead, my ruffly blouses sit in my closet, a testament to my dreams, imploring me to take a chance on a new identity, take a risk and be a CBG, if only for a day.

Maybe I’ll wear one tomorrow.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Question: So, where ya from?

When people ask you where you’re from, what do you say?

And what does that, in turn, say about you?

I always go back to the source, Canada, because I was born there. But I’ve lived in an awful lot of different places. Surely I could say I’m “from” somewhere else and no one would be the wiser. Besides, sooner than later I will have spent more time living in the States than in Canada. And as I’m a dual citizen, I could just as easily say I’m from the US as from Canada.

But I never do.

(Although, sidebar: Thanks to the election of our new president, I’m actually feeling proud of this country I live in. Hooray!)

It seems dishonest to say I’m from somewhere I’m not (can you tell I’m Canadian?) but even just saying where I’m recently from is tricky. Because I lived with my family in Southern California for ten years. But I wouldn’t dream of saying I was FROM there.

Why? I don’t like the implications. I’m quick to distance myself from the shiny, silicone-botox-injected, faux-tanned, laser-teethy-bleached folks populating SoCal. (Please note: many people in SoCal are NOT any of the above things, they are gorgeous, deep and intelligent delights, but we’re talking about gross stereotypes and sorry, but if you say "Southern California" to most North Americans, they will and do think “vapid, eating disorder, tan, Hollywood.” They do. So I don’t want to lump myself in with them.)

I don’t want people to judge me based on my recent address. But here I am judging them and their ilk with the paucity of knowledge I have about their real lives. We all fall into stereotyping, but it’s dangerous.

But honestly, when people ask me where I’m from, I always say wherever-it-was-I-last-lived-but-I’m-not-from-there-I’m-from-Canada. I always skew north. And that’s a decidedly Canadian thing to do, to apologize for where you’ve lived. We tend to lower our status automatically when people ask us where we’re from, seeming almost contrite. But that contrition is bullshit, because we’re not sorry we’re from Canada.

We Canadian types tend to poo-poo American’s nationalism, but when it comes down to it, we are as rabidly nationalistic as they are, if not more so. We just couch it in passive terms, so it sounds like we’re putting ourselves down.

But we’re not. We just don’t want to look like show offs, so we undersell. Americans oversell. But both perspectives come from healthy senses of self-regard. Strong egos exist on both sides of the border.

Once in a blue moon somebody thinks I’m from Europe, probably due to my black clothing, angular haircut, and propensity to smoke on occasion (which I think I do just to prove that I can). I’m flattered, because Europe is large and European and thus exotic and interesting. But mainly because we don’t live there. If we lived there, Maine would seem exotic to us. It’s all a matter of perspective.

So where do you say you’re from when someone asks? Do you go all the way and claim the city, province or state of your birth, or do you blur the lines a little because you can?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Comment: It happened.

I went to Target yesterday and came out with three items. Two of them were products for an upset stomach and the other was Tinkerbell bandaids (not for me) (well, okay maybe to share).

I mean, I looked through clearance, I cruised the aisles and…nothing. I looked at the deeply discounted clothes, and thought “meh”. No impulse buys. No cute little tchotkes.

I got nothing.

Nothing except what I came in for.

Has it come to this? Because I am here to say I think it has come to this.

This is a product of my “get rid of clutter” book and the sagging economy.

The luster is off the red bullseye of my heart. Am I beginning to make the sacrificies President Obama is asking of all of us as we try to undo eight years of major damage?

Probably not, but at least spending a little less and taking care of my house better is something to start with. You know, the whole Goethe thing: “If everyone swept in front of his house, the whole world would be clean”? If everybody tightens their belts a little bit, a lot of good can emerge.

The inauguration speech yesterday was described on NPR as “somber” but I would say it was more realistic than anything else. My husband saw it as a call to action.

So what actions are we, as individual, finicky, mortal and over-eating Americans going to do to help heal this country’s (many) wounds?

Any ideas, people? Canadian friends, your two cents actually do count for about two cents, so please, pour forth.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Comment: New Beginning

“What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them…” Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States

It’s been a very exciting, satisfying and happy first day on this new ground.

Rock on.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Comment: "It's All Too Much" is just right.

So I’ve spent about ten days, plus or minus, working with the book I threatened to buy, did buy and subsequently read.

In a nutshell, and as a recap, Peter Walsh’s premise is: only keep in your house things that you either use, or are beautiful. I’m paraphrasing him, and he’s paraphrasing William Morris, apparently.

It’s good advice.

There was so much clutter in my house that I had just stopped noticing it. A small fan has been lying on the floor, LYING prone, on the floor, since summer. Have I moved it? Put it away somewhere reasonable since it’s now January? (Actually, as of today, yes. In late January, I put the fan away. A minor miracle, to be sure.) And that’s just one example.

The book also talks about how you should just get rid of something that you haven’t used in a year. Sensible. Not as easy as it sounds, though.

There are plans of attack for each room; essentially you make a worksheet and get your family members to sign off on it. (not gonna happen yet at my house, but a good idea, especially as members get more and more literate and opinionated).

The other wonderful point Walsh makes is that mementos or souvenir tchotkes are not the memories themselves. If you really don’t like the salt and pepper shaker collection your Aunt Gladys gave you, then give it to someone who will enjoy it, or sell it on Ebay. In other cases, you’ll have things you don’t want to keep but can’t bear to part with, so Walsh suggests taking a photo of it and then chucking it. This seems especially appropriate given the mega tons of artwork that come home from the kids’ schools.

Anyway, what I’ve noticed these last couple of weeks is that with the initial purging of crap, which is the phase I’ve completed, it is actually a lot easier to clean up the house. It’s quicker, too. It’s sort of a big duh, really; I mean, less stuff=less mess.

It reminded me of the time my husband and I lived in Northern England. We had just about no money except what paid for rent and basic foodstuffs in our swanky and over-priced flat. We had to find a month-to-month lease, so we found something out of our price range, but it was the only thing we could find.

And of course, since we traveled overseas with very little of our personal belongings, and the apartment was sparsely furnished to begin with, we really had no problems keeping it neat and tidy. We couldn’t afford to fill it with stuff, and most of our stuff was back in the States. Less stuff truly equalled less stress, although once my husband and I had a quarrel over a the potential purchase of a soap dish. (we were really strapped)

So for four months, I didn’t have the vast majority of my clothing, mementos, books, music, and beloved Chuck Taylors. And guess what? I didn’t miss any of it. (Well, actually that’s not true; I missed my burgundy velour leggings. Shut up, it was 1997 and I was skinny.)

The take-home here, people, is truly that less is more. My next challenge? Going through my mementos and grad school papers…I will let you know how that goes, as it’s most definitely harder than getting rid of clothes you hate and crap you never use. So stay tuned. And please comment; I think I just figured out how to make your comment experience easier.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Comment: Yes, I'm talking about Facebook, AGAIN.

There appears to be a renaissance of early fortysomethings on Facebook. More and more frequently, I am finding or am found by random and not-so-random people I used to drink, study (ha), room, or hang out with. It’s fun, but it’s also kind of new. You’re sort of re-introducing the (hopefully) new and improved you to people you haven’t seen in 20 years.

What will yield from this fruitful situation?

I mean, all of these blasts from the past are kind of intense. You go on this journey into your history, and it’s already highly biased, since memory is so damn fallible, and of course you’re going to remember highlights and lowlights and not the mundane, everyday shit that someone else might remember really well because it was a big deal to them and not to you. What do you think these old friends are contacting you for? Do you think they have secret, unrequited things to say, or are they just jazzed because you’re one more feather in their Facebook friend cap? Or is it something far more nuanced than that? I suspect that it is.

What’s the protocol on Facebooking old friends? (yes, I used it as a verb) How far back do you go? And when college friends reach out to you (and you aren’t currently IN college) what do you say after the hi, how have you been for the past 20 years? It’s kind of a lot to summarize. I’ve found that initially I have lots of questions for the new/old friend, but I don’t know where to begin, so I read their synopsis of the past two decades, write mine, and then we kind of fade out. That doesn’t mean I WANT to fade out, but sometimes you realize you don’t have much in common. Other times, you are happily reconnected and chat when you see the little green circle advertising your friend’s availability.

People from your past are fascinating, though, because they have frozen in time in your memory of them whenever you knew them. It’s still hard to get your head around the fact that these people have gone out with different people, gotten drunk in different cities, taken and left jobs, people, situations, dramas. It’s really hard to wrap your mind around that, I think.

Plus when I see photos of these old college friends, I am amazed at how much they look like the young adults they were back in the day. I may look the same, too, for all I know, but I surely don’t feel the same. There was a lot of shit going on for me in those days that I didn’t even know about. I imagine that is probably true for all of these people, too. We present one face in public and sometimes (usually) a vastly different one inward.

I just got back in touch with an old friend who’s now a doctor. Not just a regular doctor. An emergency specialist. He has his own clinic. He’s very successful and clearly had the chops to get to where he is today. But when I knew him, he was a fun-loving goofy guy who partied a lot and was well-liked by everyone. You can never know someone's future. And you can really only vaguely know someone's past.

Worth pondering.

We're all older and hopefully wiser now, and where does that leave us? Still yearning for days gone by, as an old friend said, "when we were cool." Going back in time isn't possible except for the good-looking actors on Lost and Heroes, but even if we could, would we? I can tell this is a whole other post unto itself. The going-back-or-not-and-if-you-did-what-would-you-do-musing.
Because it is possible to be happy where you are and wistful for where or who you were, even though your memory's shoddy and you probably wouldn't like going back to whatever you were/had. It's the not knowing that causes some deep thinking.

That's the whole nature of being human, though. Do you suppose tree sloths think this way? Or are they just living in the moment, chilling in the jungle, happy with their present moment?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Comment: So it’s come to this.

The poll results are in.

“We Built this City” is the number one pick, tied with “Who Can it Be Now”?! Has the whole world gone mad? And one measly vote for Right Said Fred’s insightful ditty. (Yes, that was my vote, so it doesn’t really count.) But come on, people, no offense to you personally but do you honestly think you could stand “We built this city, built this city on rooooock and roll, built this city, built this city on rock and roooooollll” in your head every minute of every day for the rest of your life?

I’m just sayin'.

I realize I didn’t give you much choice, and that was deliberate. Sometimes in life we have to choose the lesser of the evils, so I was just, you know, keepin’ it real. That’s what the kids do, right?

But I admit I am biased, and I think that “We Built This City” is the worst song ever written, produced or performed. What the hell does it even mean? I’d be willing to build my city on a foundation of unsold 45 rpm record albums of this song, but I’d never really want to only build and base my entire existence on rock and/or roll, at least not as defined by Starship, formerly Jefferson Starship, formerly Jefferson Airplane (when they were good; Try “Go Ask Alice” if you want to hear Grace Slick’s vocals put to proper use) .

Besides, the song isn’t even ROCK and/or ROLL. It’s pop. It’s craptastic. It’s…but I’ve said too much.

You all picked what you perceived to be the least sucky song of the bunch, and what a bunch it was. I will admit to being relieved that none of you chose “Havin’ My Baby”. That’s pretty much one of the worst songs, but not THE worst. The Circle Jerks do a GREAT cover of it, complete with crying baby sounds. Worth a listen.

The Men at Work selection, “Who Can it Be Now?” isn’t all bad; it’s about paranoia and that’s always a kick, but the echoing sax really works my nerves. You know what I’m talking about. Unless of course you’re under 30, in which case you’re not reading this anyway, you’re doing Wii fit or texting your BFF, OMG.

So thank you for your participation in this survey. I endeavor to find random and/or obscure things to quiz on. So stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Comment: Applying Myself

Having been out of the work force for the past six years, I realize I’m kind of rusty in the whole applying for jobs scene. The last job I had, I was hired on the spot. But it’s not so easy today. We’ve got the whole economy debaclegoing on, and I've got a six year SAHP-GAP (TM), but still, some places are hiring, or claim to be, and I want to see what I can get. I at least want to try.

But I forgot what it was like to have to prepare all the paperwork for a job application. Getting back in the game is a little overwhelming. I mean, it’s really like standing on the sidewalk of a very busy intersection with no lights, and putting your foot into the intersection and nearly having it lobbed off by the speeding cars racing through it.

I’m digging up transcripts that haven’t seen the light of day since Bananarama was big, and yet, for the job I want, they’re required. I have them, but man, they’re practically antiques!

And references? Oh man, my grad school days are a decade old, and I don’t even know where my former professors and advisers are now. And I’m supposed to find them for professional references? Apparently asking my neighbor to be my reference won’t cut it. She’s only seen me getting in and out of my car. (which I do very well) (unless I’m carrying something heavy)

There are cover letter requirements, of course, and the whole resume schpiel. I had to redo mine, it had been so long that I didn’t have anything but outdated hard copies left over from years past to work with.

There’s also a diversity statement, a list of courses taught, and the requisitie demand for the explicit details of my past employment. It’s all I can do not to be cheeky and write about the past six years taking care of two small children and their myriad needs and how it definitely qualifies me to teach Drama. But I know that wouldn’t get me in the door. And I at least want to get in the door.

But I’m seriously overwhelmed. The draconian requirements and intimidating language is meant to scare off dilettantes, I suppose. But when I read the requirements, I know I am right for the job. I have the degrees, and lots of experience. But it’s not experience at the community college level, which is where I’m applying. And I have no idea what the hiring committee will think. Are they able to be so particular that they’re hiring a Drama Ph.D.? Or will my little Masters degree be good enough? Are they looking for ten years of college teaching experience? How do you get the experience teaching college if you’ve never done it before? I’m a babe in the woods.

I come from a ridiculously academic family, and I know the path to tenure is long, slippery and fairly hideous. That’s not what I want. Not at all. I just want to pick up maybe one class, or two, at the local community college. I just want to teach people some Drama and give them a chance to express themselves. That’s all. Maybe I really am better off doing high school or remedial adult English classes. They just require one degree, patience, and a clean set of finger prints. That’s cake.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Is this even worth a comment?

Have you noticed that on virtually every box of cereal there are two small words printed below the display of fake/posed food you are about to ingest? Usually there are strawberries or blueberries on the cereal, and milk (it’s actually glue in the picture, which is apparently more viscous and reads more milky than milk itself) and sometimes even a carafe of orange juice or a mug or coffee. What are those words, quick, don’t think, just say them!

Serving Suggestion.

Why does every cereal box have these two words mildly emblazoned on their fronts?

It caused me to wonder, as I often do, about why things are the way they are. Is it because they think consumers are too foolish to realize that the only thing in the box is cereal? Are there actually people who angrily shake their empty cereal boxes, “Dammit, where are the berries and my coffee?!”

I don’t honestly believe that people honestly believe that everything that is pictured on the box is in the box. If there were really milk in there, you’d have a hell of a soggy mess on your hands. Come on now, people.

It’s kind of like in the catalogs or flyers of toys where there is a dollhouse for $69.95 and it is shown with dolls and furniture and it says “Accessories not included” or “Furniture and dolls sold separately”.

Is “serving suggestion” a way of saying, “Berries and milk sold separately?” It would be a lot funnier if that were what it said. But ultimately, that’s what the words mean. They mean, don’t be an idiot, there’s only cereal in this box, but we feel we have to tell you because we live in a litigious and idiotic era.

If you find any cereal box without those words on it, I want to know about it. It will mean that the manufacturers respect our intelligence. And that would really be worth a comment.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Question: Are you kidding me?

You can now buy watered-down juice.

I kid you not.

There is a product called Aqua Juice out now. And I bet you know what’s in it. According to its brilliant manufacturer, “Welch's AquaJuice™ is an all-natural 50% fruit juice and water blend that has no high fructose corn syrup.”

So you’re paying (a lot, natch) for less juice and more water.

What a brilliant marketing ploy.

If you don’t hang out much with kids, you may not know this, but the conventional wisdom these days about juice and children is that said juice should be watered down significantly, what with its high sugar, low-nutritional value and hype-up factor.

So Welch’s has decided that we are too lazy and/or ignorant to water down our children’s juice fro ourselves. And they are banking on our laziness and ignorance. I will be very interested to see how well it sells.

My prediction is it will sell big.

I will be commenting about this again, I feel sure.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Comment: Digest This

My husband has started baking bread again. This is a sign that things are on the rise (hyuk). Seriously, things are good in my house when the man of said house dons the puffy white hat, so to speak, and gets busy in the kitchen.

He’s been making these bean and lentil soups that are to die for. Seriously, they’re better than ones you get at a swank restaurant and much cheaper. The kids balk at first, but, tired of cooking one meal for us and one for our kids, we have opted for one meal for the whole family. (How indentured are we to our kids that we cook something else for them just because they might not like what we want to eat? Seriously! Sure, it’s one thing if they have allergies, but otherwise, suck it up, learn to eat diversely, kids.)

My husband is a really, really good cook. He’s one of those people for whom cooking is not a chore, or a necessary means to an end, but an act of art that culminates in the happy digestion of the fruits of his labors. He loves cooking and he’s great at it.

(For the record, I don’t like it, and I suck. Question: Which is cause and which effect? Discuss.)

Anyway, we’ve been on this good food bender that is resulting in more home cooking and less preservative-laden store-bought pre-packaged so-called food. I mean, seriously, have you been to Safeway/Ralphs/Wegmans lately? There is very little actual FOOD there. There are hyper-processed, GMO-filled, sugar and scary titanium dioxide-filled things that we ingest and digest, but that is NOT food.

The whole Michael Pollan “Eat-food-not-too-much-mostly-plants” mantra is no joke. Since we’ve started eating better, every member of the family has been more agreeable and has slept better. Coincidence? I think not.

Now I’m sure I sound like the ultimate born-again zealot right about now. You can’t avoid preservatives and additives nor should you have to every minute of the day. But if you can control what goes into your family’s collective belly, you know what they’re getting and you may as well make it good. Not pseudo-food.

So I’m not saying I won’t eat a hostess crumb cake once in awhile (they’re really quite tasty) but I’m not stocking them in my house.

Eating better really does make you feel better.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Comment: Blog You

So I have a friend, who also blogs. Let’s call him, Fred (not his real name) and I just read something that I have to reiterate here, too. He is calling on others to fill up the blog space with opinions that don’t belong to people like Anne Coulter and other haters of her ilk who also, sadly, blog.

And it struck a chord with me because last year I remember saying to my best friend, another writer, that we needed to write more and more stuff because we needed to block out the noise coming from hate-filled writing that fills the airwaves, the bandwidth, the water coolers, the basements, etc. And I too mentioned Anne Coulter and other haters of her ilk.

Great minds think alike.

He also wondered if one becomes suddenly opinionated the minute they start blogging, or if this has to be inherent in the person from the get-go. I say, we are ALL opinionated, but blogging often releases the inner opiner. (MSWord says that’s not a word, but I beg to differ.)

Anyway, what I’m saying is, I think once the stoppers have been pulled out, everyone has strong opinions, sometimes ones they didn’t even know they had. A blog gives a person permission to vent their spleen since, as my friend pointed out, (s)he isn’t beholden to anyone. That’s the beauty of the blog. Instant opinions, few repercussions (unless you’re not a celebrity.)

Yes, I’m blogging about blogs. Dude, this is so meta.

The airwaves must be packed with positive and/or hilarious voices, not hate-filled whining and kvetching! Take a stand, start a blog, vent your spleen!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Comment: Tic Talk

This isn’t a story about those little insects that bore into innocent humans and suck their blood. No Twilight influence here today, sorry. (Although I did just hear from my friend that the guy who played Jacob in the movie is back for the sequel! He’s doing arm curls 24/7 to look as HUGE as possible for the role.)

No, this isn’t about bugs, like the one that attached itself to my daughter last month until my superhero husband removed it. This is the story of my facial tic. It’s here and that must mean I’m stressed and it’s already driving me up a tree, which is totally counter-productive to its disappearance, but there it is.

Fortunately it started right before I started IM-ing with my friend in New York. I had to just flat out ask her if she was familiar with such things. Sadly, she was. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that once many years ago, I had the same kind of eye twitch for an evening. I was under ENORMOUS stress at the time.

Funny, I don’t feel stressed. I’ve been buzzing around the home hive like a manic bee. And I was enjoying it! But when I told my husband, he said, “Of course you’re stressed. We have a trillion dollar deficit.” (not us personally, but, you know)

So am I twitching for the nation or just for myself? It seems somehow grander and nobler to be carrying the weight of a whole country’s woes, as opposed to my little insignificant dramas.

At any rate, I’m told it will stop at some point in the next week or so. Week?! That diagnosis makes me twitch more. I thought it would just be for a few minutes, or hours. Apparently I’m in for much more twitching before it stops. Will I just get used to it? Will other people?

Time will tell.
Tic Talk

This isn’t a story about those little insects that bore into innocent humans and suck their blood. No Twilight influence here today, sorry. (Although I did just hear from my friend that the guy who played Jacob in the movie is back for the sequel! He’s doing arm curls 24/7 to look as HUGE as possible for the role.)

No, this isn’t about bugs, like the one that attached itself to my daughter last month until my superhero husband removed it. This is the story of my facial tic. It’s here and that must mean I’m stressed and it’s already driving me up a tree, which is totally counter-productive to its disappearance, but there it is.

Fortunately it started right before I started IM-ing with my friend in New York. I had to just flat out ask her if she was familiar with such things. Sadly, she was. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that once many years ago, I had the same kind of eye twitch for an evening. I was under ENORMOUS stress at the time.

Funny, I don’t feel stressed. I’ve been buzzing around the home hive like a manic bee. And I was enjoying it! But when I told my husband, he said, “Of course you’re stressed. We have a trillion dollar deficit.” (not us personally, but, you know)

So am I twitching for the nation or just for myself? It seems somehow grander and nobler to be carrying the weight of a whole country’s woes, as opposed to my little insignificant dramas.

At any rate, I’m told it will stop at some point in the next week or so. Week?! That diagnosis makes me twitch more. I thought it would just be for a few minutes, or hours. Apparently I’m in for much more twitching before it stops. Will I just get used to it? Will other people?

Time will tell.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Comment: Yup, I got it

So I went out and bought “It’s All Too Much” by Peter Walsh, as threatened, which is of course laughable given that by doing so I had to add another object to my home that tells me to get rid of my shit, and most of it at that.

But I will say this: it’s quite inspiring. I didn’t realize how much I have been hanging on to things for fairly irrational reasons, and without really any conscious thought. I have things I never look at, never wear, don’t like, or keep out of guilt. The book says, balls to that, get rid of it unless it’s either functional or beautiful (to quote William Morris, which he does).

Walsh also warns you not to fall into the oh-so-common trap of going out and buying MORE bins and MORE color-coded labels to organize your life, when really, it’s just more stuff. (As a result of reading this, I decided not to go to Target today. Besides, if there was ever a time to not buy things, it’s now. Save up and trim down.)

Walsh claims that if your house is a disaster area, your life probably is, too. So if the house is a reflection of the psyche, we are several flavors of disturbed over here. We regularly lose things, spend eons trying to find things we thought we’d put away, and find old bills and outgrown clothes everywhere we turn.

Of course this is all a strong indication that we have too much stuff. And nowhere is that truer than in the piles of paper in our “office” which is really also a guest room and, according to the kids, “the game room” even there are no games in it. I have eked out a tiny corner where my desk is, and here I sit stymied by the papers all filed in seemingly random places.

This is timely, too, because I’m trying to rewrite my resume. Sure, it has a SAHM-gap of almost six years, but it’s still good, right? I forgot how much work I used to do, and how many different jobs I had (from which none was I fired, FYI).

I need things like letters of recommendation, copies of credentials, even transcripts, and oh man, those are all somewhere, but ask me to put my hands on them immediately and you’d be SOL.

So before I can live my ideal life, which Walsh suggests you need to consider BEFORE going wild on the clutter, I need to find it. Cull some of the detritus and see what’s left. It’s actually pretty exciting.

Looks like I’m going to need a bigger recycling bin.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Comment: Ephemeral Joy

We took down the Christmas tree and its attendant lights today, and the room seems empty without them. What is it about Christmas lights that bring so much joy? Is it because they are only up for a time, and hence, temporary? Would we just get used to them if they were up all the time, like we get used to seeing clouds in the sky and birds in the trees? Probably.

So we enjoy them while they are up for a short time, and then we pack them away in a box and wait for eleven months to put them up again.

Delayed gratification.

We are not wired for that. Which is why we spend so much time trying to feel more alive and, well, gratified. We can’t wait for the feel good moment, it must be now.

But what about anticipation? That is, in some ways, sweeter than the actual execution of events. Thinking about good things to come, looking forward to something, these are among the greatest joys of life. Our expectations may be skewed, but it doesn’t matter; for the time BEFORE a positive event, we can just love that it’s coming up, and enjoy the fact that it’s before us, not behind.

So is the joy in life only in the anticipation? It can’t be, because we certainly enjoy things as they happen at least some of the time, even in our sped-up-hyper-multitasking-gadget(crack)filled lifestyle. We enjoy moments, albeit few and far between the distraction of our daily lives.

But back to the Christmas lights; they conjure nice memories for me, sure, of riding around in the back seat of our car looking at the really cool displays. But they also just remind me that there’s only a small part of the year when they’re around, so I ought to enjoy them while I can. Regardless of your personal/spiritual persuasion, little bright multi-colored lights are fun. And many religions do celebrations of light of one form or another in December.

What’s my point? My point is I love Christmas lights, but I only miss them because they’re up a fraction of a time. Waiting makes me love them. And taking them down leaves me a little sad, a little empty. But it also means there’s another chance to see them in less than a year.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Comment: "We can plant a house, we can build a tree."

Listening to Nirvana is a fascinating experience. What do you think about when you listen to it, if, indeed, you do? Are you making videos starring yourself? Remembering actual videos you’ve seen? Just rocking out and not really thinking about anything? Regretting something you did at a party in college? Wondering why Kurt Cobain couldn’t get better help for his raging depression?

I mean, come on, just listen to the guy and tell me he wasn’t totally messed up. He was a good example of tortured brilliance. But he didn’t get to enjoy his fame. In fact, he probably hated it. I’m not sure fame is a great thing for anyone, especially someone with extreme mood swings. Too much of your life is public these days, and there is literally nowhere to hide. I remember not that long before he committed suicide, seeing the cover of Rolling Stone (or possibly Spin) where Nirvana graced the cover. And the headline was: “Cobain: ‘Success Doesn’t Suck’”.

But I think it probably did.

Nobody needs to be examined all of the time by complete strangers, and yet that is what many of us are doing on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and YouTube. None of these things existed when Cobain was alive. What would he think of these things if he were still alive today? I think he would probably have mocked them and either totally eschewed them or made up fake identities so he could skulk around the zeitgeist unnoticed.

As I’ve mentioned many a time here, I am ragingly ambivalent about Facebook and all these applications that tell everyone what you’re doing. On the one hand, it connects you to people, which is, in general, a good thing. But it also encourages massive navel-gazing, which is not necessarily always the best use of your time.

I suppose blogs are the same way, though. If they’re not personal navel-gazing, they’re gazing at politicians’ or celebrities’ navels. It all comes out to cheap voyeurism that, in small doses, doesn’t appear to be a problem.

By the time my kids are old enough to get on Facebook, (and it isn’t that long) what will they do with their profiles? Will they tell everyone every detail of their day? (No wait, that’s Twitter. Whatever, you know what I mean.) Will they live their social life electronically, never leaving the couch? Frankly that scares me a little. Okay, a lot.

Again, I’m not trying to say that Facebook is BAD, it isn’t. Sometimes it’s the only adult contact I get all day. I guess it all comes down to moderation. How much time do you spend online versus the time you spend in person with real live people who have odors and opinions you can hear and quirks you can mock in person?

I’m just sayin’.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Question: Who is responsible for all this crap?

In keeping with my discussion about organizing and/or reducing the amount of STUFF we have, I came to a fairly unflattering conclusion today.

It's not my kids' fault they have so much stuff. It's mine.


I mean, who is giving them the vast majority of their belongings? Me. Who spends the lion's share of the discretionary money in the household? Me. Who takes the kids to the birthday parties and dollar stores for all that (probably) pthalate-filled plastic crap? Me. Who is allowing these things to quietly reproduce while they sit in drawers unattended? Me. Okay, maybe not the last one, but you get my point.

I rail and rant and foam at the mouth about junk in our house, but I'm the one creating most of it! How can I teach my kids about valuing their things and being particular if I don't, and I'm not?

Nobody in this family is good at taking care of their stuff. I would venture to say that this is in part because we don't really have any good stuff. I mean, other than our computers, there aren't any valuable things in our house. Our TV is so old you can use it without a remote, our stereo is so old it has turntable and cassette options on the tuner, and over half of our furniture was either passed along to us (at a deep or full discount) or purchased at Ikea.

So maybe we don't care of our nice things because we just don't have nice things. But that's not the right lesson to be teaching our kids. People do more with much less. We are just numbed by our stuff. That doesn't seem right.

And I'd like to point out for the record that we don't even have THAT much stuff, compared to others in our socioeconomic demographic. I mean, every time I talk to my Dad, he complains about having too much stuff. And my sister's house is pretty full. And my Mom's house isn't sparse, but they do try to offload things at their annual community garage sale. People I know have full garages, albeit much neater, if you see what I'm saying.

The fact that we've moved so many times has cut down on our gross accumulation, but that doesn't mean we don't need to pare down. Stuff grows exponentially. I can go through this house any day of the week and fill a bag with stuff the kids (hopefully) will never notice are gone. Someone could go through my stuff and do the same, and I'd never know, though if I ever found out, my little proprietary hackles would be raised. "Hey, that's MY stuff!"


Holding a mirror up to oneself is not always flattering. But at least now I have a clearer picture of who the culprit is around here.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Comment: Urge to shop…gone

The holidays have come and gone, and with them, my desire to shop.

Say it ain’t so.

But it is so. So so.

I haven’t been to my beloved Target in weeks and although I have withdrawal pains, I just don’t feel like getting more stuff. Apparently I’m not alone. The consumer index is in la toilette and frankly it’s about damn time.

We are so stuck in the pursuit of stuff to make us like other people, stuff to make us different from other people, stuff to make us feel happy, stuff to make us feel powerful, stuff to make us not feel at all.

Ironically, I feel I need to buy a book about having too much stuff, so there is still a purchase in my near future. But I have Christmas money! It’s mad money from my Dad. Even though I’m old enough to give my own kids mad money, there’s something sweet about it still coming from my dear father. I’m pretty sure I’m going to spend it all on books. There’s a shock.

Anyway, the book is called “It’s All Too Much” and it’s about the incursion of stuff in our lives and how to offload some of it and feel better. It’s probably a whole book that basically tells you to throw your shit out or give it away to someone who could use it. But still, sucker consumer that I am, I want to own and read the book. I want, I want, I want. My sister in law got it as a gift from her mother, who is not into stuff; my sister in law is a fastidious housekeeper and organizer so I don’t really know why she was given the book in the first place. I mean, I could totally help her out there.

But seriously, I am going to get my hands on a copy soon, so I can see what the hubbub is about and encourage myself to get rid of more stuff. My husband doesn’t have much stuff, so he’s not a prime candidate for the book, with the sole exception being his enormous box we move from one place to another, perpetually sealed, but clung to nonetheless. Perhaps the book will help me with my children’s stuff.

Because what really enervates me is the stuff the kids have. I don’t mean the collections of rocks and little stapled papers, homemade books full of pencil-scrawled numbers. I love those. I’m talking about the board games they never play, the plastic birthday party crap they get in those stupid bags, toys they could care less about. But whenever I try to get rid of things, I get worried that I am getting rid of something more precious to my kids than I know. I mean, I’m not a mind reader. And certain things that don’t look like much to me are treasures to my kids.

In fact, I’ve noticed how comforted my son feels with his stuff. Most of it is colored pencils and markers and crayons and the above-mentioned collections, but still; he gets downright freaked out if he can’t find his things. But he has too many things, so he can’t keep track of them. And therein lies the paradox. Anxiety over keeping track of too much stuff. Solution? Offload.

But I’m nervous about getting rid of his stuff without consulting him; he’s old enough to be very aware of missing things and also, as I’ve learned from past experience, old enough to go through the things with me and cull what can be let go. But my son has a hard time letting go (can’t imagine where he gets that from); he tends to want whatever is in front of him. Is it sentimentality? Territoriality? Insecurity? Hey, kids, sounds like the human condition!

So we shall see what happens with the whole stuff stuff.