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'.