Thursday, December 18, 2008

Giving is addictive

I love to give things to people. I like buying gifts, because if you pay attention people always tell you what they'd really like.

My best Christmas memory as a child was the year I was nine years old and helped my dad pick out a gift for my mother. My mom and I had been shopping earlier in the fall when she saw a coat at Sears that she absolutely fell in love with. It was beige suede with a beige mink collar, and it was beautiful. It was also expensive.

I don't remember how it came up, or how it came to be that my dad decided he could afford it, but I remember being so proud that I could go with my dad to the Sears store and show him the exact coat that she wanted. We bought it, had it wrapped at the gift wrap counter, and stopped at the candy counter on the way out.

When my mother opened the gift she screamed with happiness -- I've never forgotten the look on her face. I was so happy and pleased that I was such a "grownup" and helped my dad make her Christmas special. My mother wore that coat until I was grown and gone to college even though the thing was practically disintegrated.

I thought about that great feeling when I went to the grocery store last night with my son. We were buying canned food for the food drive at his school, and he was excited. We picked out about four grocery bags full of stuff -- canned veggies and fruit, instant mashed potatoes, chicken and dumplings, etc. My son was very careful about picking out some things that he thought other kids would like -- spaghettios and chicken noodle soup, and of course mac and cheese.

As we checked out and loaded the bags into my car, he smiled goofily and said "Mom, I feel so GOOD that we did this." It brought tears to my eyes. I hugged him close and told him I knew just how he felt, and we went home.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Feh the halls

OK, put the tree up. Got the wreathes. Decorated stuff. Feh.

My heart's not in it, and I don't know why. If I didn't have kids I'd skip the whole thing.

But I do, and they make it worthwhile. My sweet son put on his fuzzy reindeer antlers and helped me decorate the tree and sighed with happiness when it snowed. We will bake cookies this weekend and get out the frosting and the colored sugars and make a glorious mess all over the kitchen. My daughter sings carols in her baby voice and tells me that if we don't have money for presents that it's OK with her.

I suppose because the mood of the country is so bad, it's affecting everyone. Millions of jobs lost, children sliding into poverty and hunger, and a man loses his life because of a stampeding mob at Walmart. How can I focus on shopping for gifts when the world is such a mess?

My kids are safe in the snow globe I have built around them: a comfortable home, school, basketball practice, homework, friends. But that snow globe isn't the real world any more than Christmas makes everyone loving and giving. There are days I want to give all my money away and live in a cave, but who would that actually help?

Anyway. I think I'll write a check to my favorite Christmas charity and offer up my heart to the universe, and see what happens.

Monday, November 17, 2008

a hot mess

OK, forgive me for my previous maudlin and idealistic posts about the election. I'm happy with the outcome and thrilled that the whole circus is over. I do feel sorry for our new president because he is going to have to clean up a shitload of a mess, and it won't be finished in four years. At least he's brilliant. He'll make good decisions and I can't wait to see intelligent press conferences again.

Being obsessed with the election was a nice diversion from my own messy life. I guess I've stopped thinking that life calms down and is ordinary and manageable. Of course the crappy economy has hit all of us hard, but it's the personal things that are really making my life hell right now.

My ex-husband, the millionaire, is still going forward with his decision to modify his child support obligation because he claims his income is "terrible." The $25,000 he spent on his 50th birthday present to himself - a scuba trip to Indonesia for him and his girlfriend - was, apparently, not evidence of any actual material wealth.

My current husband, Mr. 2.0, is borderline manic-depressive and is on a rollercoaster dealing with his 18-year-old daughter's unplanned pregnancy. To say that he does not deal well with emotional upheaval is to say that a thousand fire ants biting your genitals is a little irritating. He's a wreck and is impossible to live with.

My 14-year-old daughter is a temperamental hormonal mess trying to figure out her place in the world. She and my husband do not get along (see fire ants, genitals, irritation above.) They fight daily, and I am caught in the crossfire. There are nights when I dream that I have moved to another city, changed my name, and started my life over, and I am beginning to look forward to those dreams. Maybe even to the point of making them reality.

Is everyone's life this messy? Is life just a series of problems to be endured? Is marriage impossible? I don't know, and I've stopped trying to figure it out. All I do know is there are things in this life that I still want to accomplish, but the list is getting shorter. I want to raise my children and be the best mother I can be, and I want to make art, and I want to see a bit more of the world before I check out. I want to love people and be loved. Why are the details so hard?

Monday, November 3, 2008


I can't think about anything else but the election. I don't know if I'll be able to sleep tonight. This is the most historic election in American history and I am twitchy and nervous and happy and scared and about to burst with hope.

GO VOTE. It matters. I am voting at my son's school tomorrow and he is going into the booth with me because he is excited by the possibility of making history. It is his future I am voting for, and my daughter's, and all of the people I love who need to feel that love matters more than hate; that hope matters more than fear; that one person can inspire the best in all of us to come together as human beings.

"Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
the wretched refuse of your teeming shores,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Poem for these times

Williams Wordsworth was one of my favorite poets when I was in high school. He was a Romanticist and one of the "nature poets" because he so loved nature, rather than the complexities and ugliness of man-made life. I remember the English teacher I had (Mrs. Fischer) and how much I loved learning to analyze the poetry and then understand the meaning -- it was fun for a nerd like me to suddenly "get it" when most of the rest of the class didn't. This one is still relevant even now; enjoy.


The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.


Right now, poetry is the only thing I can stand to read. Every other medium fills me with anger, fear, disgust, or loathing. The country is teetering on the brink of collapse while we scream frantically at each other over petty political tricks and the rich count their golden bonuses, laughing at the rubes.

When did it become a good thing as an American to be dumb?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hey God, it's me, Bible Spice

Can't take credit for this, but I saw it on my fave BB -- regarding the cute slogan owned by Bible Spice and Grumpy McSame -- and I did verily bust a gut laughing.

"Country First"

"Now, let’s talk about slogans. Ours is: Country First. Think about it. When you think of what should come first, what does? Us ourselves? No. That would be selfish. Our personal families? Selfish. God? God is good, I love Him, but, as our slogan suggests, no, sorry, God, You are not First. No, you don’t, Lord! How about: the common good of all mankind! Is that First? Don’t make me laugh with your weak blinking! No! Mercy is not First and wisdom is not First and love is super but way near the back, and ditto with patience and discernment and compassion and all that happy crap, they are all back behind Country, in the back of my S.U.V., which— Here is an example! Say I am about to run over a nun or orphan, or an orphan who grew up to become a nun—which I admire that, that is cool, good bootstrapping there, Sister—but then God or whomever goes, “It is My will that you hit that orphaned nun, do not ask Me why, don’t you dare, and I say unto thee, if you do not hit that nun, via a skillful swerve, your Country is going to suffer, and don’t ask Me how, specifically, as I have not decided that yet!” Well, I am going to do my best to get that nun in one felt swope, because, at the Convention, at which my Vice-Presidential candidate kicked mucho butt, what did the signs there say? Did they say “Orphaned Nuns First” and then there is a picture of a sad little nun with a hobo pack?"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Zen and the art

I've been feeling pretty Zen lately. I don't know why, which is OK I guess, but usually leads me to fear that I'm about to be thrown into the Neighborhood where Bad Things Might Happen. Even with that, I'm sort of stepping back and looking at things as through a telescope.

It may be one of the benefits of getting older. (Trust me, there aren't that many.) I just had a birthday ten days ago, and am standing on the brink of 5-0 looking into the abyss. The wrinkle fairy stops by frequently, and the menopause fairy done packed up and took her kitbag home, and the fat fairy has eaten through whatever was left of my metabolism in its urge to hold onto fat. Millions of years ago I swore I would never wear clothing sized in the double-digits, and the fat fairy is laughing maniacally at me as it sits on the roll at my waistband.

But I'm OK with it. (Mostly, eh.) I am giving myself a break. There are bigger things to worry about, like this election, and the financial future, and health and education and love and babies and all the good stuff.

Last time I went to yoga I sat in half-lotus and pondered. Maybe it's that I've stopped focusing on what I can't do and what I can -- no, I can't quite get my leg behind my head. I looked around at all the 20-somethings in class and for a teeny tiny second I was disgusted with my old self in its feeble attempt to hang on to youthful bendiness. But you know what? There weren't any other late-40-somethings in class with me, and by God I did get my leg almost up over my head. I show up. I focus and breathe, and I think about just doing what I can do and not worrying about the rest.

Maybe the best I can do really IS good enough.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

One more, and then I'm done for a while I promise

Here is the the sentiment from another thinking female whose writing and observations on American life, politics, and the culture wars I heartily enjoy:

"The Republicans are, in effect, saying: We're not going to win this race on the basis of being the better candidates. Barack Obama is going to make you think. You don't like thinking. Here's an It Girl vice president who is easy on the eyes, you stodgy old white baby boomer. She's like a grown-up version of Mary Ann from "Gilligan's Island." She embodies the raw conviction that everything the Republicans have ever done has been right. She'll make you feel better about yourself for voting for Bush. Twice.

Relax: The war is God's plan. (Or whatever.) Women, even if they are vice president, can always look pretty, worship their husbands in the fear of God and never, ever resist invasions from unwanted sperm.

Sarah Palin and her virtual burqa have me and my friends retching into our handbags. She's such a power-mad, backwater beauty-pageant casualty, it's easy to write her off and make fun of her. But in reality I feel as horrified as a ghetto Jew watching the rise of National Socialism. She is dangerous. She is not just pro-life, she's anti-life. She is the suppression of human feeling and instinct. She is a slave to the compromises dictated by her own desire for power and control. Sarah Palin is untethered from her own needs and those of her family, which is in crisis, with a pregnant daughter, a son on the way to Iraq and a special-needs infant.

She should, however, be a galvanizing point for women everywhere. Not to support her candidacy but to rebel against the Republican Party and take back the respect and equality so hard-earned by the women's liberation movement in the 1970s.

We've been shanghaied. This is sick. We need to slap the face of our bad frat-boy date and walk home from this drive-in movie. Sarah Palin may put out to be popular, but the rest of America's women don't need to do the same.

If not, what the hell? John McCain should go the whole Hugh Hefner route and have eight V.P.s that all look exactly like Sarah Palin.

It's McCain's world, girls: You'd just live in it."

Taken from Cintra Wilson's column on Salon.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Brace yourself - I'm about to get political

OK. I can't hold it in anymore, even though this is supposed to be a fun place to come and write little essays about the trivial human events that tie us all together, and hopefully make us laugh. This post will not make you laugh. I'm going full metal liberal on your ass.

I watched snippets of both conventions, since I think it's a good idea as a voter to see the advertising before I buy the product. Not that there is a question about whom I'll vote for -- I'm supporting Obama -- but just to see what florid language comes out of the speechwriters' pens. I watched part of the RNC love-fest before I had to smash my TV to bits.

Sarah Palin????

The choice brought out every atom of anger at political bullshit that I own. Anger - as Stacey said - because what, just because she's got a uterus we'd all just vote for the Republican ticket? Because she is somehow a hero for having five kids and being Governor? Because she's pretty? Is that her purpose for being on the ticket, so Republican men can all get hard-ons at having a MILF as VP? So all the fundamentalist white women in America can feel smug that someone with "Christian" values will "represent" them in the White House?

The day after her convention speech, I walked by a woman at work who was raving about how much she loved Sarah Palin -- "She's got a son going to Iraq, she's got five kids, one who has Down's syndrome even -- I mean she totally represents ME!!! I completely identify with her!!" I wanted to screech at her, or hit her with a pencil sharpener. How goddamn stupid can you be?

It panders to the absolute worst of politics. Image. I am pained because people are so easily manipulated by images, for God's sake -- does no one think anymore about the actual work involved in running a government of 300 million people? The necessary knowledge of the Constitution one is sworn to uphold, the rule of law, the development of policy, the management of all branches of government and the ability to work within a structure that has existed for 200+ years and get people to accomplish something greater than themselves?

This brings me to something that I don't talk about too often because I live in a very conservative state, and the chances are good that most people I know and are friends with are conservatives. I cannot stand the conservative ideology in any form.

Conservatives such as Palin believe that their way is the Only Way. Because they are (almost 100%) Christian, they want laws based on Christian values (whatever those are). Because they believe gays are an abomination, they want gays to have no legally-protected rights. Because they believe life begins at conception, they want abortion outlawed. On and on and on and on, if conservatives believe it -- they not only want their beliefs respected but they want them MADE INTO LAW.

What in the fuck is constitutionally American about conservatism? How can these people possibly construe the idea of America as a place where everyone must follow the same path, the same life, the same values, the same goddamn EVERYTHING?

Let me tell you: I am a liberal. Because I am a liberal, I am capable of tolerating other people's ideas. You believe abortion is a sin and a crime? DON'T HAVE ONE. You think gays shouldn't be able to legally marry? DON'T MARRY SOMEONE OF THE SAME SEX. You think your children should be able to pray before they eat at school? NO ONE IS STOPPING THEM. Because I am a liberal, I completely support Palin's choice to be a Christian evangelical, gun-toting, pro-life, tee-totaling moose-killer as long as she keeps her lipsticked pit-bull nose out of my fucking business!

But that is not ENOUGH for her. She and her Republican base want to make her beliefs into LAW, and they pander to the worst maudlin emotional issues so as to distract the American-Idol obsessed voters away from the true government issues that affect their lives. They dumb down their talking points because a large block of their voters are offended at the idea that you might have to have a better than C average to serve as leader of the country.

Bush won in part because his campaign team successfully sold the question "who would you rather have a beer with?" as reason enough to vote for him. Eight years later the country is in the worst state possible, but by God our president was Everyman with a beer bong. Conservatives exploit thinking-challenged voters who cannot be bothered to talk about boring things like policy to vote for them based on images, pretty pictures, flags, and cheerleader rhetoric.

"Not all conservatives are stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives." Don't blame me, I didn't say it -- it was John Stuart Mill. I don't happen to agree with that sentiment 100%, but I'd like to see intellectual discussion rather than emotional manipulation from conservatives, but I won't hold my breath.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chocolate boy

My son turned 11 on Monday. I'm still reeling over how this little man came along (on Labor Day, no less), and now I'm mystified to the 9th power about how he's gotten to be 11 years old.

I call him Chocolate Boy because he adores chocolate in every form - milk chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate ice cream, brownies, fudge, and of course when I asked him what sort of birthday cake he wanted he looked at me quizzically and said "DUH mom. Chocolate," and practically shook his head at my stupidity. Sad old senile mother.

He loves Chuck Taylor Converse high-tops, levi's jeans, t-shirts, Superman, Mad Magazine, and glass Coca-Cola bottles. You could put him into an advertisement for a 1950's style drive-in diner and he'd fit right in. Yes, he has his issues (like the haircuts) but for the most part he's a smart, happy kid. I caught him prancing around his room looking at himself after a shower, very pleased with his overall fashion of the day, and he didn't even look sheepish when I peeked in. He said "mom, don't you think I'm cute? My hair looks like a field of wheat," and I nearly peed myself laughing.

He listens to Eddie Vedder, the Rolling Stones, and Michael Buble -- and he had a very early fling with Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody before moving on to AC/DC, and then took a brief detour into Elvis's early genre before falling for the classic Beatles, which made me very proud. We must have listened to Abbey Road a thousand times in the car, singing Maxwell's Silver Hammer so many times that I finally figured out all the words. It drove his older sister crazy.

He's small for his age, and his sister once called him a "melon-headed midget!" in a fit of anger. She loves her little brother even though she hates to show it, but no matter how mean she is to him he is always, even at the ripe age of 11, running after her for a hug. When he was about 8 she kicked his two front teeth OUT - he ran to me with blood all over his face and teeth hanging by bloody strings and screamed "manni hick my eeth out!!! ick my eet outh!!" When I blew up into a ball of flames and sent her to her room as punishment for the rest of the day, he pleaded with me to let her out because he swore "she didn't really mean to do it, mommy, please let my sissy out."

She still beats up on him, but the day will come when he's bigger than her.

Anyway, I made his chocolate cake and when I asked him how he wanted it decorated, he said he wanted it to be a cow cake. A cow? I thought. A little pre-schooley for a kid his age, but whatever. He likes cows. So I made the cake with white icing and then attempted to create dark spots like a cow on the cake (think Gateway PC boxes) but I have to say it looked like crap. He didn't seem to care -- he said, "it's OK, mom, don't worry, it looks really cool."

Happy birthday to my sweet, adorable, loving, beautiful boy.

Monday, August 18, 2008

She lies, I did not make her do it

I only suggested it, strongly, because after all she is a super fancy pro-fessional writer type, and she makes me laugh. And she can punctuate, which thrills me because I am a nerd who would happily spend hours wandering through Wikipedia and the OED looking for perfect Scrabble words. Here she is!

The tao of teri!

Friday, August 8, 2008


My son, the one who hates having his hair cut, made me choke on my coffee when he described his friend's hair as looking like "a flock of goats."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Stop me if you've heard this one

Or possibly a better title would be "A Diva's Cautionary Tale," aka a rant about Husband 1.0 or as we like to refer to him, Mr. Fuckball.

Mr. F has contacted me recently to request that his child support obligation be lowered by oh, about 70%. He claims that his income is such that he "cannot afford the egregious amount" he is currently paying. He wants to go to court to make this permanent, as he did four years ago when he had again another request for modification that would benefit him and his preferred lifestyle. His argument then? "I really just don't enjoy my time with them, so they should spend more time with you. Plus I want to be able to travel more."

Internets, I give you the Top 10 facts and allow you to judge for yourself whether Mr. Fuckball has a case.
  1. Mr. Fuckball is, as of last accounting, a certified millionaire who is self-employed.
  2. Mr. Fuckball owns not one, but two homes, one in my state and one in Florida.
  3. Mr. Fuckball flies back and forth between said homes, with his girlfriend, twice a month to the tune of about $1000/month in airfare.
  4. The amount of the child support he pays to me is less than $1000/month.
  5. Mr. Fuckball's latest purchase was a nice new boat for his home in Florida, so he can fish.
  6. Mr. Fuckball and his girlfriend (aka "Frangipani") have planned a nice long two-week scuba-diving vacation in Indonesia this fall which will cost probably more than a year's worth of child support.
  7. Mr. Fuckball generally refuses to buy shoes, clothes, and school supplies for our children because, in his inimitable words, "your mother has enough money for that from all the goddamn support I pay her."
  8. The last time he was forced by his children to buy them clothes, he took them to Goodwill.
  9. Mr. Fuckball just inherited about $250K from his departed father.
  10. Mr. Fuckball is planning to use some of that money for a down payment on a nice little airplane.
So. Any opinions out there, legal or otherwise? Is this a semantics problem? Should I give him a new nickname? Because for the LIFE OF ME I'm having trouble processing all this because of the blood pounding behind my eyeballs.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Back from Paradise

Got back from paradise on Saturday at midnight. I did not want to leave -- the place was PER.FECT. All adults, all-inclusive, all everything, 24/7. It was decadent, and I came home utterly spoiled and relaxed. Oh, and with a pretty good tan for a blonde.

I want to hold on to certain things -- like never turning on the TV, going barefoot every day, not caring what time it is, not rushing to get things done every second of the day, and simply sitting in the midst of nature and just being. One night we laid on a rattan bed out on the beach in the moonlight and simply looked up at the stars and listened to the ocean, and it was sublimely peaceful. I need to hold on to that in my daily life, so I am going to find a way to do it.

And I am DEFINITELY going back next year.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The horse is not quite dead

I told Stacey that my new motto is: "If the Horse is Dead, Get Off." She immediately chortled and offered to make me a T-shirt, and I'm sure she will, because she is just that kind of fabulous.

What kind of fabulous, do you say? Well, you Numbers out there have known her way longer so I know you have your own stories of her helping to put out personal fires and save lives. This is why her official Superhero name is Estacey de las Flamencos, complete with flaming pink cape and outsized twinkly tiara, whapping the bad guys with her diamond scepter of justice.

Seriously. When you are as insane as I am, it helps to have girlfriends like her. After the radioactive sludge fight that I had with Mr. Diva, I was ready to get off the horse, dead or not, because I was so fucking tired of the bucking and jumping fits. I was ready to shoot the horse, then douse it in napalm, then stuff it in a FedEx box and send it off to the White House as Exhibit A in the show "Ten reasons why libertarians and liberals can never peacefully coexist," begging the pardon of MLK Jr. and all you Unitarian Universalists out there.

Anyway, my dahling Stacey listened to me bloviate and whimper, and did nothing but listen and tell me she loved me and supported me and would be there for me and promised to pour me drinks and help me move out if that's what I wanted, and this is the kicker; she offered to put her cell phone by her bed so I could call her day or night.


Then, there is the other Teri. She has a blog, or used to have a blog, but I don't know if she does anymore. It's a shame if she doesn't because she is an insanely talented writer -- she even gets PAID to write for a living. Teri lives on a sandbar far, far, from home, but she previously lived in the same city as me and was my co-worker, frequent lunch companion and creative doppleganger. She was the one who introduced me to Nordstrom's shoe department where I have had many a love affair with sky-high heels and metallic leather. She also got me through massive postpartum depression with my firstborn and held my hand through my divorce from Husband 1.0 (AKA Mr. Fuckball). Teri is the Queen of Cruises and has been on every cruise line on the planet, and although she still hasn't been able to convince me to get on one of those colossal floating cities, if I ever do it will be when I can go with her. She is the safe port in a storm -- and she ALSO offered her phone services 24/7 in case I was about to jump off the bridge.


This is Unthinkable for me. I have never called a person in the middle of the night. But boy is it a comfort to know that I can. The universe, miraculously, gave this to me, and I am forever grateful.

Thank you to my dear friends.

P.S. As for Mr. Diva, I smacked him hard with a cluestick. Profuse apologies are not enough, we need some action. The plan is in place, so good luck to us.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Things I love

  • Trees in summer, when their leaves are rustling with the breeze
  • Chilled sauvignon blanc
  • Kissing my beautiful sleeping children
  • Yoga
  • Dinner with my divas
  • Mascara
  • Art
  • The colors of summer
  • Eating outside
  • Lying on a lounge chair, reading a great book
  • Baseball
  • Silence
  • Music
  • Scented candles
  • A perfect avocado
  • Clean sheets

These are just a few. I am consciously thinking about the things I love today. It keeps me from focusing on the awful, painful things I will have to do in the coming months.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

And the plutonium hits the fan

Ever have one of those little teeny fights with your spouse over something inconsequential that turns into a nuclear meltdown? Had one last night. I am exhausted. All I want to do is crawl into a ball under the covers and sleep for two days or three years or so. Oh, and drink. Lots. Oh, and maybe stab myself, just to see the blood, because it would be such a relief to see a visual representation of the pain.

Hey you all, out on the Interwebs, if you're single -- stay single.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A different kind of yoga

So I told my son I was going to yoga tonight, and he said "So am I." I said, "hmmm, really? Cool! Where?"

He posed with his hands in namaste (prayer position). His eyes gleamed as he smiled at me and said, "I am going to ice cream yoga. Because it nourishes my body and my soul. Ice cream yoga tonight!!"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My little androids

So, it's been a week since the flood, and it's pretty much over. I am much luckier than a slew of people in the Midwest -- I only lost a bunch of junk in my basement. I didn't lose my home or anything of value. Chin up, tits out, two tears in a bucket, motherfuck it.

Of course my children are all whiny about not being able to watch TV in the basement, but they've adapted remarkably well. They've even (gasp!) turned off the tube and gone outside to ride bikes and shoot baskets. My 13-year-old daughter, AKA Little Monster Diva, has suffered the most in her Highly Dramatic Fashion -- she can barely drag herself through a day without constant electronic input from her iPod and her cellphone, and no TV is the equivalent of living in the 14th century with chamber pots and muslin undergarments and leeches to take away your evil spirits.

It seems to me that TV is going to become passe fairly soon. We went to get the LMD an upgraded cell phone, and all the new ones play YouTube and other videos. Who needs TV when you can veg out with your phone?

Anyway, the kids were bouncing around the cellphone store, agog at all the gadgets and tricked-out screens and such. My daughter was actually polite and thankful when she got her new phone, although I was in shock at the price. I must have looked like a ghost, even after being assured I was getting a rebate that cut the price in half, because she looked at me with concern and said "Mom? Are you OK?" in a voice that scared her little brother. They both came up to me and worriedly asked me what was wrong.

I snapped out of my sticker-shock, assured them that nothing was wrong, and they went back to playing with the new phone. Only later did my son come up to me and fake-casually ask, "Mom, what's wrong? You looked really upset." I told him again absent-mindedly that nothing was wrong and he put his head closer to me and said "listen, Mom. I'm your son. You can tell me anything."

Ten years old, and he gets it. No phone, no iPod, no TV in the world can compete.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Guess I spoke too soon

Flooded again in the middle of the night. Mr. Diva looks out the window, exhausted, and says "Nature, you are a worthy foe."

I laughed insanely.

I don't have a clue about what to do, so I went on autopilot. I got up, showered, went to work. Nothing lasts forever. I guess this will pass too.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Chin up tits out

God, she's right!!! What am I wailing about?

Yes, we had a shitty storm. Yes, my basement flooded for the second time in five years. So what? Look at all the positives!

- Nobody got hurt
- My kids are all OK
- We launched one out into the world as a full-fledged adult with a diploma
- Insurance covers the flood (well, most of it)
- I get to redecorate my basement for (almost) free
- It's summer and I have A/C
- I still have a job
- My husband still has a job
- I have friends who I love dearly who actually mostly love me back

It's ASTONISHING. I swear, today it is raining like hell again, but I am in a weirdly quirky good mood. I'm actually looking forward to getting rid of a bunch of crap from the basement, getting reorganized, and moving forward.

I think I'll get a pedicure too! Dang, you Numbers are some kinda good.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Weekend update: Friday night, horrible storms, basement flooded. Bailing out water from the basement with a bucket at midnight. Scared son, daughter at a sleepover, freaking out.

Saturday: two graduation parties to attend, one of whom is my darling goddaughter's.

Sunday: Lovely stepdaughter's graduation.

The common thread running through the weekend: the stench of muddy, mildew-y carpet in my basement, humidity that made my hair frizz, frantic calls to insurance flunkies and water-sucking-up devices and/or workers, and this relentless buzzing in my head that kept saying "it could have been worse, it could have been worse, but ohmygodi'msickofthisshitwhenwillitend?"

Friday, May 30, 2008

Just another modern American family

Whew. The wedding is over, and it was divine. No gumball wedding here, thank God. I don't think I could have survived another one, especially on so little sleep. The ceremony was flat-out perfect, from the exquisite outdoor setting in a gazebo in the hills of southern California, surrounded by jacarandas, tropical flowers, and ferns, to the elegant sit-down dinner with champagne toasts and strawberry cream wedding cake.

The backstory on this one is more interesting than the details of the wedding. As I posted earlier, my lovely stepdaughter was a bridesmaid. The bride is her half-sister and my husband is the father of them both -- only he didn't know about the existence of his first daughter until she was 13.

The story is - my husband, while in college in California, had a relationship with a woman for a short while, which he broke off when he moved back to Indiana. After a few years back in Indiana, he married Wife 1.0, had a couple of kids, etc., you know the drill. He and I were working at the same company when we met, and one day I noticed a note on his calendar that he was flying out to San Diego. I asked him why he was going there, and he replied "I'm going to meet my daughter." The college girlfriend had been pregnant when they broke up -- and she kept the baby but never told him.

When the girl was 13, her adoptive father and her mother told her the truth about who her father was, and she wanted to meet him, so they tracked him down. She is a beautiful, terrific kid -- even more so because when she met her (bio) dad, she was immediately loving, accepting and mature about the entire chain of events. It was remarkable that at such a young age she was able to handle the upheaval of discovering that the father she'd known since toddlerhood was not her biological father, AND that she had two half-siblings she'd never met.

Couple this with the upheaval of my husband's divorce from Wife 1.0, due in part to Wife 1.0's inability to accept that her husband had had a previous relationship that produced a child, and drunken rage and wild accusation that he may suddenly leave her to go back to California.

Then I come into the picture after the divorce from Wife 1.0. After a couple of years, we marry, and suddenly we are the Brady Bunch with two kids each from previous marriages, working hard to mesh the whole thing together with the fewest possible snags. It's never been easy, but it's been worth it.

So there were numerous players at the wedding: the MOB (who my husband hadn't seen in over 20 years), the adoptive father (who was friendly and kind and just about to break down as he walked the bride down the aisle), my husband, (who was also weepy because he was torn between being happy she was marrying but wishing he'd known about her from the beginning), my stepdaughter (who loved suddenly having an older sister but was freaked out about being a bridesmaid and explaining to everyone in the wedding party about who she was and why she was there), my stepson (who is sweet and loving, but cluelessly focused on keeping his droopy pants above his skinny butt), the now 22-year-old bride (exquisitely balancing her extended family, new husband, and in-laws) and me -- watching the whole parade.

Isn't life strange. What looked like just another wedding was a family drama that you couldn't make up. This is why I can't get into daytime soaps -- what could be more entertaining than real life?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Here we go again

We're flying out to San Diego tomorrow to attend a family wedding. My lovely stepdaughter is a bridesmaid, so she is all freaked out about her dress and shoes and which bra is the right one to wear and how will she get her nails done, and zillions of other things related to her personal person. Me? Oh, I only have a few things to do before we leave the house tomorrow at 6:00 AM.

Work all day today
Laundry for me, Mr. Diva, Diva SD and SS
Pack for weekend
Take the dog to the Pet Hotel (!)
Cook dinner for guests coming from Tampa for the race
Lose ten pounds

OK, that last one is not going to happen. But it should, given the number of tasks I'll need to complete once I leave work. All I can say is I'm looking forward to falling into bed by midnight and getting up at 5.

It's a wedding, at least, so my hope is that I'll have something blog-worthy to write about. My neural synapses are misfiring by the dozens these days so my writing is pretty turgid, but something about the spectacle of a wedding brings out the zany in people and I can't wait to see what will happen. Will it be a repeat of the famous Gumball Wedding? We shall see!

Have a fabulous, lovely, relaxing Memorial Day weekend, y'all.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hanging by a thread

Today is one of those days where I am just barely hanging on to my sanity. I'm afraid any moment now I'm going to do something crazy like stand on top of my desk and scream, or walk off a roof, or grab a bat and start smashing dishes. I am disgusted at work, frustrated with my daughter, and just seething with irritation.

You would never know this if you met me. I am calm and patient on the exterior (at least I think I am -- maybe I'm not fooling anyone) and I am 99% in control of my display of emotion. It's just my personality -- I don't do big shows of emotion. I think they're overly dramatic and queeny at best, and frightening and manipulative at worst.

I've learned over the years not to actually repress my emotions -- I allow myself to feel them, but in a way that doesn't force the world to observe. I deal with it by exercise, yoga, and relaxation practices, but today it just isn't helping.

It's just one of those days when I feel like I'm spending 90% of my day doing things I dislike. Is this all there is? Spending 23 out of 24 hours a day dealing with shit just to have an hour of peace?

Being a working mother is SO GODDAMN HARD.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Random frustrations

  • I either have time or money. Not both. If I'm working, I have no time. If I'm not working I have time, but no money.
  • I have a ton of the most fabulous materials now to create more of my jewelry, but hardly any time to do it. My creativity is drying up like a used condom.
  • I want to plant a nice garden and mulch all my flower beds this weekend. The deck needs to be scraped and re-stained. Both of these things could be done by hired help, but Husband 2.0 wants to do it himself so it's "done right." Gah.
  • Trying to cook healthy meals from scratch so my kids have some semblance of what a normal home-cooked family dinner is -- is stressing me out. Could we all sit around the table and drink Ensure together?
  • Parenting teenagers is at least as hard as parenting toddlers. I adore my kids, but their incessant needs make me want to go hide my head under the covers and say "go away, your mother was kidnapped by a group known only as 'Elves for Elvis' and is being held captive until you are 18 or away at college, whichever comes first."
  • I want to work out five times a week and get thin for my trip to Playa Mujeres this summer. I could get up at 5:00 a.m. every day to do it, but I am as sluggish as a horseshoe crab that early. Plus, sleep deprivation turns me into a raving bitch.
  • Desperately need a tan, hate self-tanners, have no time for tanning booth, plus it will give me wrinkles. Solution: caftans?
  • I can do my job at work in four hours a day. But I have to work eight. The other four hours are a waste of time, which makes me insane because time is what I need more of!! If they'd pay me twice as much, could I work half as many hours? Answer: No.
  • Blogging my frustrations makes me feel and look like a negative, pessimistic whiner. All of these are First World problems. Solution: move to the Third World? Answer: no (see kids, above.)

Suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

veni, vidi, vici

The sidewalks of Chicago are strewn with shreds of diva fabulosity. We pillaged Nordstrom Rack and Loehmann's as if we were being pursued by Satan, which we were, seeing as how we were half-buzzed on jello shots before we made it over the state line. Once I saw the Sears tower and the Hancock building my aggressive driving kicked in and we whipped onto Lake Shore Drive like the Furies and skidded to a stop in front of our hotel in under 3:20 -- with only one pee break!

I fucking HATE driving on the toll road, but I love it when we hit Lake Shore. All those tall, phallic buildings! The lakefront condominiums! The bronze lions in front of the Art Institute! Michigan Avenue, the Chicago River, and Hugo's Frog Bar! Most fun of all, the burly Chicago men!

I have a strange ability to get hit on in Chicago. Maybe that's why I love the city so much. Every time I've been there, men flirt with me, and it never happens anywhere else. Take it from an almost-50-year-old -- if you are under 40, you need to get your flirt on NOW. Be shameless! Flirt with the bellman, the sandwich guy, the UPS man -- anybody with a decent bod that doesn't stink like motor oil or rotten fish. If only I'd known how cute I was 20 years ago, I would have had HORDES of men to play footsie with. This time I got into the hotel elevator in search of ice for my martinis when a cute guy about my age chatted me up -- I almost invited him up to our room, but the last time we picked up a boytoy we ended up face down in the bar at the House of Blues from him buying us Chicago River martinis. It sucks being a good girl.

Anyway, besides the men of Chicago, obviously we love the Shopping. Normally I despise those discount stores like TJ Maxx, but Nordstrom Rack is the high-class, more organized version and they have the best deals anywhere. I found a metallic-silver linen Tahari blazer that fit perfectly and was half-off -- it is utterly classic and I will wear the hell out of it. I got a couple cute T-shirts, a couple more blazers for work, and a darling little summer Coach purse (70% off!) at Loehmann's. Excellent foraging!

After that there was a blur of martini-drinking in the room during which a fifth and a half of vodka spontaneously disappeared or evaporated or something, five women getting ready in one bathroom which led to lots of picture-taking of random butts and boobs which were mysteriously sent to various spouses' cellphones, wearing my most fabulous brown crocodile-patent-leather patterned peep-toe stilettos, heading out to redlight for dinner (exquisite! if you go, order the mango martini), after which we collapsed into a taxi and after that I don't remember. All I know is I woke up and my feet were killing me, but I still had my underwear on. Good sign!

So for roughly 36 hours, I forgot about my husband, kids, bills, diet, laundry, chores, homework, aging, job worries, and general suck-assedness and bonded with my girlfriends as only women can. This is as close as I'll ever come to being a diva, but it gets me through. I love my friends.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My kind of town

I can't even think straight this week. Five of us are making our semi-annual trip to Chicago this weekend, and I've hardly been able to think of anything besides how fun it will be. These are the things that join us on our trip:

Jello shots, a couple of Playgirl magazines (because who can get enough of naked men posing with their wangs all greased up), a cooler full of martinis (lemon drops this time, made by ME), and a dashboard dickie on a spring just to make other drivers swerve crazily to see it. Last time we went, we also took a male blow-up doll who we proceeded to maul in the front seat to raucous laughter.

And that's just the drive up there. Hold on to the sidewalks, Chi-town, the divas are on their way again.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Words I HATE

In no particular order, here's a bunch of words I hate:












And a whole host of others I can't think of right now because I have successfully driven them out of my head. When I read those words I get a cramp in my neck and my eyes revolt, making me squint, and that gives me wrinkles. These words are the stumpy-legged, irritating, blathering in-laws of the dictionary, and they should be sent out back to the mini-barn with the rusty gardening tools to await the junkman. Or be eaten by a dog, so he could vomit back up all the individual letters and we could repackage them into prettier words to be used more eloquently in some other sentence. Geez.

I am no fun to play Scrabble with.

Monday, April 7, 2008

for the famous Hairbanger

Two events in the past week caused me to ponder the profession of hairbanging (or being a stylist, for those of the cosmopolitan persuasion) -- a viewing of "Steel Magnolias" with my 13-year-old daughter, and a trip to the local salon to get my son's hair cut.

I love the movie, smarmy as it is, mainly because of the Ouisa character, and also because it's set in Louisiana, the home of fabulous Cajun food and good times. I should have been born a Southern girl. I would've made a killer Southern librarian, all dried-up books and glasses and earnest discussions of Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote, while going hog-sausage-wild at night, hopped up on gumbo with extra hot sauce and gallons of planter's punch. Plus, my nails are ALWAYS done.

My goal in life is to become Ouisa Boudreaux. Rich, pushy, foul-mouthed, blunt, and sarcastic. I'm halfway there, but I'm not telling which half. Suffice to say I haven't gotten up the nerve to act as bitchy as I think.

The bitchiness would have come in handy as I was taking my son to get his hair cut. It is a chore I dread, because he is now 10 years old and is beginning to take himself very seriously. He loves to wear his hair long and shaggy, and it doesn't really get to me until it's grown down over his ears and neck and past his eyes so that he's always flipping it out of his face. The flip side of his ten-year-old-ness is that he hates taking showers or generally cleaning himself, so as he does his little boy stuff like jumping in creeks and throwing gravel at his friends he tends to come into the house looking like Bigfoot's midget brother. Chunks of dirt have fallen off his head before without his notice.

I made a deal with him that he could let his hair stay long until spring break was over, and then he'd have to get it cut. D-Day was yesterday. We grimly drove to the salon, one of those walk-in places (I KNOW, I KNOW) and a gnarly-looking guy with a ring in his nose and horrible teeth took my baby boy back to do the deed.

I told the guy, just take most of it off the sides and back. The bangs I can deal with, as he can usually manage not to get food or other effluvia stuck in them. But the sides and back were so long and shaggy they made him look like he'd lost his ears in a tragic earmuff accident. So the guy started cutting -- excuse me, HACKING. Once he cut off the first inch of hair there wasn't really anything I could say or do but hope he evened it out.

Ten minutes later, he's done. My son is red-faced and crying. The guy is very nice, but my son is having none of it. Even his older sister, the monster 13-year-old, is trying to tell him that he looks fine. He scowls his way out the door as I pay. All the stylists in the salon are looking at me and shaking their heads sadly, "uh uh uh, he gonna be in a bad mood allllll day now Mom....." as I brace myself for the emotional onslaught.

It comes with breathtaking fury. He is crying and moaning and telling me that he will NOT GO TO SCHOOL ever again, that he looks like a DORK, that it's HIS HAIR and why do I make him cut it when it's just fine when it's long, that everyone he knows will make fun of him and no he will NOT GO IN to the store while I shop, and when I force him to get out of the car he screams "I HATE YOU MOM!" The dagger has been unsheathed.

It's then that I wish I could be bitchy. Bitchy and blunt to the guy who cut his hair, so as to absolve myself of the blame, or at least bitchy enough to tell my son to shut up and deal with the haircut before I get out the razor and shave his head, or even a teensy bit bitchy enough to say "I hate you TOO" to my son. But I just can't. I will never be Ouisa Boudreaux.

Anyway, before the day was over, my son sidled up to me and put his arms around me. He said he was sorry. I told him I forgave him. He said "I love you Mom, I don't really hate you ever," and I assured him that I loved him too. Whew, drama over. But I'm never going back to gnarly nose-ring guy. Hmmmm, does anyone know a good hairbanger that makes house calls in Indiana?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April is for fools

Today is my 4th wedding anniversary. I thought it was awfully appropriate to get married for the second time on April Fool's Day. My husband and I have both lived through Spouse Version 1.0 and the resulting system failure, and to get married again and start on a whole new operating system is a celebration of hope over experience, as they say.

There are days when he irritates me to the point I want to pack up his shit and kick him out the door. Really. I keep trying to quantify what exactly our differences are that cause so much irritation, as I'm sure there must be something about me that annoys him equally. Ahem. Being the nit-picky word-nerd Virgo that I am, I keep questioning various underlying philosophies about personality. Is it because he's a Libra and therefore his answer to every question, from "should we go to the store today" to "do you believe in the vast eternity of the universe" is "Yes and no?" Is it because I'm an INFJ and therefore one of the pathetic 2% of the population who are apparently too sensitive to live? Is it because he's an extrovert and I'm an introvert? Because he's loud and funny and I'm quiet and wonky? Because he's a male being from planet Bizarro and I'm a female being from planet Shut the Fuck Up I'm Trying to Read?

The worst thing about living together is that you immediately become accustomed to all the good stuff, and all the bad stuff just annoys the hell out of you. Stacey thinks that men and women should live in separate apartments, possibly connected by a breezeway or maybe a dungeon, and I think I agree. I know I'm much happer and more tolerant of everyone's behavior when I've had a chance to be away from them for awhile. My husband, thank Buddha, knows this and does his best to accommodate me. Although if we were both animals, my husband would be a frisky dog, while I am a lazy, bed-hogging cat. He even drives with his head out the window, while I curl up in the passenger side with my coat around me, trying to stay awake on the long trip from point A to point B. I can't help it. My only true talent is sleep.

Anyway, my dear puppy dog of a husband version 2.0 took me on a little getaway for our anniversary, where I was as pampered and fed and groomed as any spoiled little Persian kitty could be. And just this afternoon I was treated to an enormous bouquet of lavender roses, sent to my desk at work.

For my part, I am taking him out tonight to one of his favorite red-meat restaurants, and this time instead of seething with annoyance while he takes 37 minutes to decide between creamed spinach or grilled asparagus, and then between prime rib and filet, and then asks the waiter to hold the tomatoes on his salad, and wraps up his order by asking for extra horseradish sauce "instead of au jus, and could you put it on the side" while requesting a Heineken "extra-cold," I will patiently remind myself that dogs, while yappy, frisky, and stupid enough to roll in goose shit, are also the most loyal and loving pets. And they're always happy to see you, which for the parents of three teenagers, is a minor miracle in itself. Happily ever after, 2.0.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Only connect

Over the Easter weekend, my mind wandered over to the bad side of the tracks. Holidays and family-oriented events tend to spook me sometimes -- I often feel as if I'm trapped in a bubble or a dream, waiting to emerge into some other reality. But my reality is...strange and sad, and often I'm plunged into despair over what I see when I look at other families and make the mistake of comparing them to my own.

What started it was taking time off while my kids were on spring break from school. I took a few days off work to spend with them, and we did some random running around town, seeing a couple of movies, trying restaurants, and ended up spending Easter Sunday taking my 83-year-old dad to visit his wife (my stepmother) in the rehab facility where she is staying while she recovers from pneumonia.

The truth is I am jealous of people with normal families. Yes, I know lots of people come from dysfunctional families and that hardly anyone has a perfect or ideal relationship with parents, siblings, whatever. But I get a pang of loss when other people talk about what they do on holidays -- going to their parents' or aunt's house, seeing cousins and siblings, and kids getting to know their extended family. Family reunions, family vacations together, etc. -- I've never had any of that, and never will.

I was adopted as a baby, and I have an older brother who was also adopted. He lives in a group home because he is schizophrenic and pretty much unable to work or care for himself. My dad is 83 and has suffered from degenerative arthritis and hip pain for about 30 years, and can't get around without a wheelchair, or a walker on his good days. My dad's family has passed away, mostly. My mother died about 15 years ago after ten years of illness, and since she was an only child, I don't have aunts or uncles or cousins on her side either. When I was visiting my dad on Easter, it occurred to me that most of the time I've spent with my immediate family since I've been an adult is when I'm taking them to the hospital, visiting them in the hospital, or picking them up from the hospital. There has never been a time in my life when I wasn't taking care of someone -- starting from the time I was 21 and started getting the phone calls from my brother who was descending into his illness, to last week when I was driving my dad back to the assisted-living facility where he lives.

This sounds suspiciously like self-pity, doesn't it?

Maybe it is. Maybe I'm whining. But these are the facts, and the truth is I wish it was all different. I wish I had a sibling who could remember the childhood we shared, who could share the present and the future with my children and his, if he'd been able to marry and have a family of his own. I wish my parents hadn't been sick for my entire adulthood -- I have visited every hospital in this city and even a few outside the city and can still remember where to park and where the information desk is, and which elevators are big enough for wheelchairs.

Is this disgusting? I ask you. I'm the healthy one -- I should be bowing down to karma with gratitude for having good health all my life and only the merest episodes of panic attacks and depression, pretty garden-variety stuff for a working mother. I DO fall to my knees to thank the universe for the beautiful healthy children I have and hope desperately that they never have to go through what I've been through.

But goddamn, I'm tired. And peevish.

A couple days before Easter I watched the movie Into the Wild with the kids, and I loved it. I could totally identify with the kid's desire to dump the baggage of modern life and roam off into the wilderness to connect with nature. When my first child was born and I was slogging through the days and nights, grey with fatigue and stained with baby puke, I used to have dreams constantly that I moved away to another city, changed my name, and got a different job. I still have those dreams.

But the peevish side of my mind perked up during the last part of the movie because the kid never contacted his parents or his sister. Inwardly I was pissed. Dude! You have actual parents, who are alive and want to buy you a car, and a normal loving sister who wants to hang out with you, and you ditch them all to go eat moose and wild roots in Alaska? And you can't even send them a fucking postcard? And the final tweak, the black cloud that sent me down that Bad Road into the Neighborhood of Envious Thoughts, was the realization that all he had to do was show up and his family would be ecstatic. Forgiven! He actually had people who were his immediate birth family who were anxious about where he was and if he was OK! Didn't he get that? Who was this snotty kid who so casually threw away what I can never have?

If you've ever seen Intervention, you know it's a series on Bravo that follows seriously self-destructive people who are going to be part of a surprise intervention by their families and friends. It's like a terrible accident you can't stop watching. I watch until I get to the part where the family pops out from behind a hotel room door to confront the addict and beg them to get help. They sit around the room, crying, reading letters to their loved one, begging them to get help and telling them how much they love and support them, and I just grit my teeth and flip off the TV because I am so fucking angry. Angry because of their selfishness, angry because of their irresponsibility, but angry mostly because I don't have ten family members in the world who would save me from stubbing my toe, let alone a serious addiction.

Like I said, the Bad Neighborhood. Go three blocks down Angry Street, and take a left on Envy. Park. Jump off bridge.

Of course, what brings me back to reality are my own children. My son kept asking why I was sad during the end of the movie, and I told him that I felt sorry for the parents. No matter how much they fucked up, they still loved their son, and it must have been torture for them not to know where he was and if he was OK. I completely identified with that. I made the kids promise me that no matter how old they were or how much they hated me, they'd always let me know they were OK. They both solemnly stuck out their pinkies for a pinky-promise.

So, I backed out of the Bad Neighborhood of my mind on Easter Sunday, picked up some toilet paper and an African violet for my stepmother, and made the kids help my feeble old dad into the car for a visit to the rehab hospital. After we left, we stopped at Taco Bell for takeout so my dad could have a bean burrito and the kids could have quesadillas. It wasn't exactly communion, but it's the best I could do.

Back now

Hello! I guess I didn't go away for that long after all. I did learn how to change my title bar -- whoopee for me. Baby steps.

I'm working on a post and will publish soon. Pretty soon I'll even learn how to post pictures!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Going away

To anyone who may still be reading this, I am going away for a bit. I will probably come back, but as a different entity. This blog allowed me to test my writing, but it's not the real me and I find myself censoring my topics in favor of keeping everything "light." The truth is, I'm not light, and I never was. I need to make more art, I need to incorporate it into my life and work, and I need to write about everything surrounding me and affecting me in my tiny world, and I'm not doing that now because of fear.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Other people are noticing


This is the actual fucking conversation OVER IN HER CUBE:

Another cow-orker: "Whatchoo eatin'?"

Barnyard yahoo: "Aw, Ah'm a muncher. I munch, I got ta be eatin' on somethin' all day. Munch, munch, munch ha ha !!! They got them sweet n' spicy snack bags, uh, Archer Farm or somethin', got 'em at Targit."

Cow-orker: "Well ya sure is LOUD about it!"

Barnyard yahoo: "HA HA HA HAAAAA, Ah know!!! Ah'm just settin' here jammin' on mah iPod and munchin'! HAAAAA!"

Me: CLANK *sound of hammer* *sound of Bucketz sloshing onto dead body* *sound of iPod being torn apart by pliers* *blessed silence*

OK, everything but the hammer. For the love a Pete. Somebody save me.

She's doing it AGAIN

The yahoo in the next cube is doing it AGAIN. Screeching in her barnyard voice with her jaw flapping down like she's got an anchor hanging off it while listening to twangy music blasting on her iPod. And now she just shoveled in a handful of pretzels MUNCH MUNCH MUNCH *slurp* as she reaches for one of her VP Bucketz o' Pop. I can hear the ice sloshing around the bucket like bergs off the Titanic as she yanks on the straw. GAHHHHHHH!!!!

What did I do to the universe? Why am I being tortured like this? Or am I just too sensitive to live?

Oh my God, if she burps or farts again I'm going to hit her with a hammer.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap day rant

What, like February wasn't six months long already? They had to add an extra day to the end of this hideous month? Sheesh.

At least it's Friday, and this putrid month is coming to a close. Between the weather, my yahoo cow-orker with the pigpen voice (yes, I deliberately set the hyphen there), and my ass spreading like hardened wax in my office chair, I'm thoroughly done with this section of the year. I move that February 2008 be stricken from the record.

Did I mention our deep love for the art of obfuscation and inefficiency here at Large Co.? Hm. Well, to cheer me up while I'm listening to the barnyard over in the next cubicle, I'll give you a little illustration of a rant I sent to my dahling sister (who also works for Large Co.) on the art of making a three-sentence change into a three-ring circus, hoops included.

I edit documents. Simple, eh? Take some words out, add new ones, adjust the punctuation, etc. Done. Easy enough for monkeys. The byzantine process starts when we get into the Review, Approval, and Print process, and that is where all common sense is abandoned and the players in the approval process go into full Rube Goldberg mode.

Here's one of the "reference job aids" for the process of approving the changes in a document:

"...the first T in the word 'the' MUST be capitalized, with a 0.25-pt line above the paragraph but only on the first page. Task 2: change the version number (unless it is a number ending in zero, in which case you must call the janitor on the fifth floor so he can assign a new number for metric tracking purposes), then be sure to initial and date the last page in black ink (but only on Fridays) make two copies (one in color and one in black and white) stamp the first page with the T stamp, sign it, then send a signed copy to PPD in the green zippered bag with pink bubble wrap, while hanging the original from the flagpole by the front door of Building 87 until 'notification only' reviewers have approved it by spitting a watermelon seed next to their name and title. Once that has been completed, create three folders on the LAN: one for Epluribus UNUM, one for the electronic version that will be translated into XML (which MUST be named XPL_2), and one named HISTORICAL for the retirement committee who will be responsible for printing the final copies and burning them in Large Co's Official Recycling Fire Pit."

You think I'm exaggerating, don't you? Well I'm NOT. Not much, anyway. And this is a gi-normous Fortune 500 company that makes some important shit!

Once, in a meeting, I asked a question about why we follow these overcomplicated processes, and everyone burst out laughing as if I'd started popping out armpit farts. I suppose if the process were simpler, somebody loses their job. And as H.L. Mencken said, "Never argue with a man whose job depends on not being convinced.”

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cubicle RANT!!!!!!!!

I am losing my mind. I am going to freak out. I have visions of leaping over my particleboard wall here at Large Co. and strangling the woman who sits in the cube next to me because she is SATAN in acid-washed jeans.

She munches pretzels all day long. She talks on the phone with the worst gol-durn Hoosier slack-jawed accent that I am ready to scream for earwigs to crawl into my head and sever my auditory canals. Here is a typical phone call based on one of her six jobs as assistant coach of junior-4H rural volleyball, level one (during which time, may I snottily point out, she is NOT working at her actual job):

"Ah mean for the love a Pete. I ain't doin' it. I ain't. I tole her two times awready. And she don't wanna mess with me, I mean ta tell ya, hunh hunh hunh. She got them girls out there and they ain't allowed to set with y'all? (to her worker buddy) Hey sister! Ya wanna go down t' the deli and get me some sweet tea? I got to have mah sweet tea, Mickey D's, every mornin', 99 cent. I mean that ain't bad and it's goooood sweet tea, too, anyway, I git over thar and (to the caller) -- WHAT'N THE HELL D'I TELL YA? THEY WAS OVAIR on the bench and they wouldn't let 'em sell their dang sodas. Ah mean ah run the concession stand too and we ain't makin' no dang money on it, neither..."

A month ago I was privileged to listen to a full-on description, at Wagnerian volume, of her breast-reduction surgery. "Ah mean ah come home and my 17-year-old said Goldang, Ma, you look like a dang teenager! Hunh hunh hunh, aw no, my husband don't care, he ain't gonna touch 'em fer awhile anyway, see these scars run all up 'n down mah underneath part but Ah tell ya I'm in suh much pain Ah can hardly set up....Ah ain't eatin' onions on that sandwich again, Ah'm tellin' ya I had so dang much gas Ah had belly cramps all night and a course Ah cain't sleep on my stomach cause mah breasts are still so sore -- see where they cut around mah nipple the nerves is comin' back and Ah git the tingles so bad, I mean for the love a Pete...."

The entire surrounding cubicle dwellers now know more than we EVER wanted to know about the particulars of breast-reduction surgery, including the types of stitches used, the number of incisions, the lengths of the scars and how they accidentally left a piece of dissolvable catgut under her left armpit and the minimum number of pounds typically taken off your tits if you want insurance to pay for it.

When she's not talking she's chewing. Like a fucking cow on its third cud. She talks with her mouth full. She burps out loud, slurps her dang sweet tea, groans when she gets up, and all but scratches her balls while she rips open another bag of Girl Scout cookies. The only time she doesn't chew, talk, burp, or root around for more chips is when she's "working" and she turns up her iPod to blasting volume to listen to the same fucking country song I first heard her play TEN MONTHS AGO JESUS HELP MEEEEEEEEEE.........

Am I completely off base here? Is the world now entirely populated with ball-scratching, cud-chewing goldurn office workers, like some Hee-Haw version of Dilbert?

I get the impression that she thinks I'm some sort of icy snob, because I don't join in the fun and talk about my eating habits, my preference in soft drinks, or my most recent gynecological exam. I also don't coach anything (unless it's how to look fabulous in stilettos, which is a skill I think every woman should have instead of how to change the propane in your heating system in your acid-washed jeans and Wal-Mart polyester fleece!) Ahem.

Whew. I brought my iPod today, and I think we're just gonna have a face-off. Pavarotti at ten paces.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Things I like

I'm going to treat myself to some things I like. Hardly any of them are expensive, but I'm such a masochist that I routinely deny myself little things that would help me get out of this suck-ass gray mood. Which has gotta better for those around me -- this foul gray miasma is seriously ruining my diva-osity. And as we all know, it's the little things that matter. Go get some for yourself too.

Scented candles

Fresh flowers

Brach's Sour Cherry Jels (they only have them around Valentine's day)


A new nail polish

Sex with George Clooney (OK not really, because although I adore George Clooney both for his gorgeous looks and liberal politics, I would NOT have sex with him because he might not be any good, which would ruin my image of him and I'd never enjoy his movies again, and let's face it, sex should be a good experience for all and not just the guy half. This diva don't fake it.)

New shoes

Yes. Shoes. I have not bought or even gone shopping for new shoes in Four. Months. Is it any wonder that I have brain matter leaking out my left eyeball and that my last memory of being entertained was when I cleaned the fuzz out of my navel?

Must look at shoes. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of my life.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Note to self: this too shall pass

A friend of mine used to say that to me when I would be absolutely bonkers over the daily crapfest of life. I need to remember that life with teenagers will change some day; that they will probably grow up without becoming hateful, selfish CEOs of sweatshop farms who live to hack the beaks off chickens; that they might actually like to be around their parents (or step-parents, as the case may be) someday; and that I am not a complete and total failure as a mother because I didn't realize that Converse All-Star Chuck Taylors are so vastly superior to pathetic Converse One-Stars sold at Target that I might as well have suggested to my son that he shave off his eyebrows and wear a dress to school while singing "Un bel di" in its native Italian so he could be a bigger dork.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I am forfeiting my Word Nerd membership

Sweet baby Jesus in a dinghy. It's not even Chaucer that said it. It was T.S. Eliot in The Waste Land. Maybe I should reread it; seems like a good month for it.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Chaucer was wrong

April is not the cruellest month. February is. We're only ankle-deep into February, and I'm about ready to throttle the life out of it but I don't have the energy to do it.

I am bloated, tired, and fighting the second cold I've had in a month. I am pasty gray and I am wearing nothing but black and gray clothing, and my undereye circles are so round, so gray, so puffy that they could be mistaken for small mice that are hanging onto my face by their tiny teeth. The operative word here is Gray. It is foggy out today, and later it will rain, and my hair will frizz, and the world around me will explode in a snotty mass of Grayness.

And we have at least another month or two of this shitfest.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wild diva diversity

Or maybe this should be titled "Hello, I am a Hamster."

I've been thinking about this for awhile now, especially lately since I've put myself back on the rack of weight loss/fitness/nutrition blah blah blah. If you've seen any of the Planet Earth series, you've seen the incredible diversity of wild animals in nature, miraculously evolved to subsist in whatever climate or geography they're in. Isn't it possible that humans are so wildly diverse for the same reasons?

We all know those people who are born skinny, eat like garbage scows and stay thin effortlessly. Then there are those of us who fight like hell to stay within a "healthy" weight range, only to pop back up to the same weight no matter how many times we lose those last ten pounds. And of course our standardized Western image of female beauty is skewed to six-foot-tall lollipops with inflated boobs and poufy lips, never mind that it's only 8% of the female population.

Elephants, for example, are huge. They are big, gray, and wrinkled, and they remind me of my jolly fat grandfather in his gray work pants. Maybe that's why I like elephants. I watch the series about the African plains and admire the nimble, lovely impalas and tiny dik-diks and marvel at the fluidity of their movements in the herd. But elephants aren't graceful. They don't glide or leap in graceful symmetry. They plod. They stumble. They plop down in the muddy water and roll around in the mud, lazily.

But suppose they treated themselves the way human females do. Suppose a normal elephant decides they want to look like an impala. Do they sit around with the herd and think, I need to eat eight thousand calories less every day and by the time we migrate to the reservoir in June, I'll look just like that fancy-ass impala over there? I'll cut down on the bamboo -- I swear I will! -- and I'll jog around the swamp at night, that'll do it. Or should I have my tusks reduced?

Would an elephant do that? No. A skinny elephant would not be a healthier, happier elephant -- it would just be a smaller, probably weaker elephant. And it sure as hell wouldn't look like an impala, or be able to leap gracefully -- it would still plod on its big stumpy feet because dammit, that's how elephants walk.

I laugh when I think about what certain animals would look like if subjected to humanity's perverse expectations. Imagine a skinny hippopotamus -- those short legs would look hilarious with a giant skinny ribcage flailing around on top of it. Or a scrawny, angular panda bear? Where's the cute in that? Even those darling little dik-diks probably wish they were taller. Would they pump up the steroids, trying to match heights with a gazelle?

It tires me. I have fat friends and skinny friends, and all of us sit around and criticize ourselves and wish we were thinner/taller/blonder/younger/prettier blah blah blah until it makes me crazy. I don't exempt myself from this behavior either -- otherwise I wouldn't be trying to get back in shape -- but I'll be damned if I'll kill myself to look like a dik-dik. I'm not tall. I'm not angular. I will never have long, lovely legs and broad shoulders and no hips. I have more in common with Marilyn Monroe than I do with Kate Moss. I couldn't run a mile to save my life. I'm not an elephant, but I'm not an impala either. I'm more of a lioness who lazes around and sleeps a lot but can haul ass in a hurry if the food's getting away.

Wouldn't it be radical if we just decided to accept ourselves the way we are? If we just tried to be healthy and strong, no matter what animal-body-type we are? If you were an animal, what would you be?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


No, this is not a post about the Numbers, that mysterious cult of Superheros known for their man-devouring she-devil superpowers. (That is a lengthy post for another day.)

This is about my commitment to numbers. As in: I am committing to the number 100. Because it's a nice, round, easy to remember number. Easy to divide. Easy to double, easy to figure out percentages, but not so long with staggering numbers of zeros and commas that would make me quiver with fear and incomprehension, like the national debt or the amount of shoes/lipsticks/holey underwear scattered around my closet. Here's the breakdown:


* Days between now and May 1 I will eat 500 calories less than I need
* Times I have done just that. Will the 101st time be the last?
* Dollars I will save in those days by not drinking wine
* Percent better I will feel at the end of that period of time
* Inches I need to lose on my thighs and ass

OK, I faked that last number but not by much.

This is Day Two. Only 98 to go!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Life, unfinished

Taking a break from the snark for a moment to wonder if anyone else has persistent, recurring dreams. I've always been fascinated with dreams -- why do we have them, and what do they mean? I'm terrific at interpreting other people's dreams, but suck at interpreting my own except for one annoying, repetitive dream I have which I had again just last night.

It's the dream where I have gone back to school. Sometimes it's high school, usually it's college; once I actually dreamed I went all the way back to elementary school. (Boy, did I look weird sitting at the coloring table with all those little kids.) The other infuriating thread running through these dreams is that I have either not attended class all semester and am about to have a test, or I can't find my classroom, or I am about to receive my mid-term grades and I am sure I've flunked out.

Last night's version was: me moving into a dorm at college. Not finding my room, or my room key. Wondering who would be rooming with me, how we'd fit everything into the tiny dorm room, and how I was going to explain being so fucking old to all the other girls. During the dream I was setting up stuff in my room while frantically looking for my class assignments and could NOT find them. Tearing up piles of papers and clothes looking for it, sure that I've missed classes already, and not knowing who my professors were or indeed even what my purpose was for being there.

It's not that I don't get the overall psychological theme of this. I just wonder why I keep having it! I want it to stop. This is not a dream I ever want to have again because I wake up feeling completely stressed out and like I've really fucked things up for myself. Even knowing that it's only a dream doesn't always help.

I know there must be others out in the universe who have recurring dreams. What are they? How do you deal with them? How often do you have them, and what do you think they mean?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Haiku Limerick Wednesday!

To pull myself out of the blues,
I tried to write a haiku
But later I said
better go back to bed
Only two words that rhyme: fuck you.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


If a single word could sum up this month so far, it would be DUMP. And all its derivatives.

1. I am pudgy, flabby, pasty, and just generally dumpy right now. Ick. (See Dumpy Nerd Kid.)
2. Work is being dumped on my head. Stupid work.
3. Everyone in my house is down in the dumps because of the weather.
4. Even my sweet little ten-year-old boy that I have nicknamed "dumplin' " is down in the dumps, and that's rare.
5. The dog won't take a dump unless my husband's out in the yard with him, which means the hubster is crabby because of the forkin' weather.
6. My finances are in the dumpster.

signed, Dumpy Diva.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tag? Just let me take off my headgear and get my gym shoes on

OMG, I've been -- tagged. By the famous Hairbanger! I feel like the dumpy nerd kid who just got picked to play kickball. I'm so excited! But uh, I don't have 7 blog-friends to tag. I'll do my best, but remember, I'm the dumpy nerd kid with only two friends, one of whom is his pet ferret.

Here are the Rules of This Tagging Thing:

Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself on your blog, tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

OK! Here goes!

1. I can tap dance. Whenever I watch An American in Paris, especially the scene where Gene Kelly is dancing for the little French kids, it makes me want to go back to class just to tap dance again.

2. Movies: every year at Christmastime, I have to watch The Apartment because it is my favorite funny pseudo-holiday-themed movie, and yes, I do know the whole script. See: Dumpy Nerd Kid.

3. People who fuck up punctuation, especially apostrophes, make me blind with rage. Blind. How can people make it up half a rung of a career ladder when they can't even write in their own fucking native language! Sweet Jesus on a lighthouse, it seriously drives me to blithering fury.

4. I can do an excellent Marvin the Martian voice. Actually I'm quite good at all sorts of accents, too.

5. If I could sing anything, I would sing opera. Or the blues.

6. I have only left my house without mascara on twice in the last 25 years. It was six months before I would let my husband see me without eye makeup on, and it was a huge act of trust for me. If I could never wear eye makeup again, I don't think I could go on living.

7. I was adopted as a three-week-old infant from the Indianapolis Orphans Asylum. And if that isn't the funniest name EVER for an adoption facility, you need to get your laugh muscle checked.

OK, so here's the point where I pick my blog-friends to tag. Hmmmm...

Stacey Leigh.

Stacey's friend Beth.

Uh, anybody else want to be on the team? Anyone? Feel free!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A diva dilemma

So, to go along with the other side of my List, I have the companion List of Things I Never Want to Do. It's equally important, I think, to know what you will NOT do in your lifetime. Plus it's a hell of a lot easier to achieve. Yay for not doing things!

Numero Uno on my list of Things I Never Want to Do: Sell anything. (Thanks, Lloyd Dobler.)

It does cause some tiny dilemmas in my diva life. Because as I stated yesterday (good Christ, this is my second post in two DAYS!!!! Who do I think I am, Joyce Carol Oates?) I am determined to continue to make art. Which in some cases means making a lot of jewelry. Which I can't wear all of, so I either have to give it away, which I can't afford, or sell it. And I do Not Sell. I allow people to buy stuff from me, but let's just say if I were hired to sell water at the Boston Marathon, I'd wind up with sixty cases of leftover bottled water and Boston Commons would be loaded up with the bodies of people who died of dehydration. I'm that bad at it.

So I need to find a way to cast my art out into the universe so that people who like it can buy it without me having to hog-tie and threaten them. Because that's what selling feels like to me.

Maybe this year I'll figure out how to magically move photos off my camera and onto my blog so people can see what I make. Tell me, oh Universe, would that work?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The List

The perfect is the enemy of the good. - Voltaire.

Or, as Anne Lamott would say, Shitty first drafts. I have GOT to remember this. I wasn't going to post again today because my List is not perfectly finished. Uh, and besides, I still can't find it. Fuck it! So what! I'll start a new list! Geez, can I just let myself up off the mat once in a while?

Numero Uno on my List of Things to Do in my life is:

Make Art.

It doesn't have to be perfect, or meaningful, or history-smashing, or marketable. It doesn't have to be hip or tragic. It doesn't need to have shock value. It only has to be satisfying to me to make, and fulfill my creative urges, and bring me joy in the expression. Oh, and no matter what it is, it will be nine hundred and forty-seven times better than the shite-fest that is Thomas Kincade, may he rest in peace in one of his own homes-lit-by-a-flamethrower-from-within.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Diva New Year

I never make New Year's Resolutions. Never. For a long time I've had a list of Things I Want to Do and a companion list of Things I Never Want to Do, and about this time every year I look at my list and edit it. Now if I could just find the stupid thing...

Obviously I should be more Organized. But I hate organizing things. I don't know what it's a sign of, but almost always I have things randomly scattered on my desk at home or at work because I need to see things around me while I work -- papers, books, folders, and I literally cannot think without a pencil in my hand. The important things are stored not in neat color-coordinated boxes, but in my head marked Important Things to Remember, unfortunately stored right next to the Bad Neighborhood in My Mind where my evil side lives. Gah.

Anyway. Back to the list of Things I Want to Do. Practicing yoga was on the list for a couple years, and eventually I found a teacher and a place to practice and it's been a hugely positive addition to my life. Other things, such as learning to rollerblade, I accomplished and then promptly marked them off my list because they ended up being something that wasn't that much fun for the long term. But it was worth trying!

Having a blog was not ever on my list of Things to Do. It's Stacey's fault, but that's OK, because it's been a fun thing to play with. I don't know if I write well or not, but I have to give credit to my darling sis because she pointed out to me that although there are a squillion other blogs out there, none of them were mine. Maybe something will come of it, maybe not, but at least it's here -- my tiny scratches on the cave wall of humanity. I Blog, therefore I am?

I am going over my list and will post it soon. Maybe that will give me the kick in the ass I need to make it happen. Happy 2008, and thank Christ that Bush will outta the White House this year!