Monday, August 29, 2011

Our Lady of the Perpetual Chauffeur

My daughter invented a new word:

Syllabuster:  When the course information is so long you can't even read it any more.

She's a funny girl.

She is also a relatively new member of the Papal Jihad, as my husband calls it, which I support, but do not completely understand. 

When faced with the dilemma of having double booked herself during the times her church has confession (sorry, "reconciliation") I offered that she could just confess to me, thereby saving us a trip to town.  Apparently it does not work that way. 

I have a theory that her participation in regular reconciliation is having a Hawthorne Effect on her behavior (because she is counting transgressions she is therefore, naturally, less likely to commit them in the first place) and I suggested that perhaps we should have her brother go, too.  Apparently it does not work that way. 

Other than this new found faith in a Catholic higher power necessitating that I do lots and lots of driving back and forth to church for various and sundry meetings I'm not exactly sure how it does work, but I truly hope that a license and a car are at the top of her prayer list. 

Calling All Mothers

If you have a teenage daughter, this post is for you.

I went in to school early this morning to help my daughter change a class assignment. While there, I made two shocking discoveries.

One….many of your daughters are inappropriately dressed. And I mean, really, seriously, inappropriately dressed.

If your daughter’s dress is so short that when she bends over to pick up her backpack the entire lobby of guidance can see not only her polka dot thong but also her barely covered hooha, then that dress is not appropriate for school. Or, I would argue, anywhere else.

If your daughter’s shorts are so short that I can see the bottoms of her cheeks, those shorts are too short. This is not appropriate for school. Or anywhere.

If your daughter’s top is so low cut that I can see her sternum, it’s too low. This is not appropriate for school. Or anywhere.

Moms, PLEASE! I realize it is hard raising teenagers. I realize that you have to pick your battles carefully, but, personally, I think this is a battle that should have been chosen, fought AND won by you.

And the second discovery is :

My daughter is a bit of a prude.

Thank you Lord.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I feel the earth move....

Literally since we just had that little earthquake in our backyard.  I've been through a few eeny beeny ones, but this one fell into the "Stand Up and Take Notice" category.  It was very exciting in that disconcerting way when something happens that you never saw coming.  Like when you get cancer, or someone dies very unexpectedly.  You're left with that "whaaaa?" feeling like the universe just landed a little bit of a sucker punch.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not equating this little rumble to something as monumental as cancer, but they are on the same page in the book of life somehow, the "Scary Shit You Did Not See Coming" page.

Speaking of the book of life, the page I'm on currently is titled "REALLY BIG YEAR."  Good, bad or indifferent, it is a significant year in the lives of all of my little cast of characters.  The kids are in 9th and 11th grades.  My husband is on the cusp of a career change.  I am on the cusp of a career change. 

We all sat out on our deck last night, eating dinner, (drinking wine), enjoying the 80 degree day (finally, thank you Lord), talking about the year to come and laughing.  It was one of those moments that I hope I'm able to remember in my 90s.

I have a feeling that my proverbial earth will do a lot of shaking this year. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Macabre Motherhood

Just to clarify....I AM one of those mothers who encourages the presence of any and everything Edward Gorey in my home and in the lives of my children.

Life is grim and we all meet with some terrible end, in the end, try as you might to avoid it.  Gorey makes it all sort of beautiful, without completely minimizing the underlying horror.  His works are lovely and haunting and somehow sort of divine, I think. 

Dear Friend Who Shall Remain Nameless

I remember that you laughed at me when I told you, originally, when we met last year, that I live in a drama-free zone.  Maybe it did sound funny.  I was hoping you were laughing because it appeared so obvious to you that this was the case because who, in their right mind, really, ever wants to dwell in drama?

I explained to you that I work very hard to maintain the parameters and perimeters of my little fuss-free-fiefdom. 

You see, I've learned the hard way that drama begets more drama and the only way to stay away from "hot effing mess" is to not even turn down that road to Dramaville in the first place, and so I don't.  I just keep on driving past that exit and I don't even look over my shoulder or in the rear view.

You didn't really know me when you met me, so who knows what you were thinking, and at the time, it didn't really matter.  But, you see, it matters now, doesn't it?  Yes indeedy!

Because, as it turns out, you've hung out the "See Me For Drama" shingle and the "Step On In Here 'Cause My Shit Just Gets Crazier and Crazier" mat in front of your little door. 

I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that I gave you fair warning and I'm just a little too old and, I'd like to think, a little too wise, to ever go there again, with you, or with anybody.

I'm sure this will hurt your feelings, and I'd tell you I'm sorry, but I'm not really.  It was your choice to spritz with crazy cologne, and it's your choice to feel bad that I can smell you coming and choose to steer clear.

So, no, I'm not calling you back.  And, no, you can't come over.  And, well, gosh, no, I'm not free to get together. 

All the best to you.

Friday, August 19, 2011


I love how "people" talk about your life having a path.  As if it's this pea gravel lined walkway somewhere.  Emphasis on the AS IF.

My path has been full of corners.  Not unlike PacMan sometimes.  (hmmm if I had more time I'd flesh this out for you all but at the moment I'm about quantity and not necessarily quality, sorry)

In any event, last night was a big corner.

I took my darling babies to orientation night at school.  That would be HIGH school, where both babies will be in attendance this year.

For baby girl this is old hat.  She's going to be a junior this year, which is, arguably, the meat of the high school sandwich (or in her case, the tofu).  For baby boy, however, this is new and anxiety provoking territory.  There are over 500 freshmen in his class, some of whom he already knows he doesn't like and many more of whom he will discover shortly he doesn't like.  I'd be anxious too.

In any event the corner came when baby girl offered to go with baby boy to orientation.  She literally took him in hand, walked him to each of his classes, introduced him to teachers and friends and literally steered him in the right direction.

She gave him the ins and outs of negotiating lunch, the breezeway, class changes, etc.  She even connected him with the theatre teacher and volunteered him for participation in the tech crew.  She took him backstage and upstairs to show him the hallowed tech booth from which the production team works its magic.

"Mom," he whispered to me while we stood in line for ice cream later that night "she said that the number one rule of the tech booth is 'no having sex in there!'"

"Mmmm" I feigned instant interest in a new flavor of ice cream in the case to mask my shock "I guess that's probably a good policy."

As we sat around a table having milkshakes she said "Do you know what the number one rule of tech is?"

I beat him to the punch as I now knew this answer, "No having sex in the tech booth?" 

"NO!"  she said, glaring at him "the number ONE rule of tech is 'No talking about tech with people who aren't techies!'" 

He hung his head, chagrined. 

She smiled.

"No sex in the booth is rule number two."

Am I worried about my children having sex in the tech booth?  Not really.  And even if I were, I think it would be outweighed by my new found knowledge that regardless of the opportunities and challenges they'll face this year, their paths, while veering away from mine, seem to be merging, in some small but significant way, together.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Your funny for the day

I know that I am not alone in loving Anderson Cooper.

If you have not yet developed a soft spot for him, here's another opportunity:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Geeeeez Mom!

I give my children a hard time.  I think I'm supposed to.  I mean, really, that's sort of my "job" isn't it?  I bounce them around a little bit in an environment that's warm and fuzzy, so that, hopefully, when they are functioning in an environment that is cold and scratchy, they'll be sort of used to the bumping.

I don't know.  At least that's my theory.  We'll know later, by whether or not they return home to visit me, whether or not this was a good strategy.

Him:  Mom, my leg hurts.

Me:  Probably because it's covered in all that man hair.

Him:  I need to remember not to come to you with my problems.

Literature, film and memories

It isn't yet on the bedside table, but it's on the list.  Honestly?  I'd read it just because I feel a certain kinship with the title, but it was also reviewed (well) on NPR this week, and it, and her previous work, both sound worthy of a little eye strain.  I'm not actively reading anything at the moment (other than a back issue of Urban Farming and Cooks Magazine) so it's time.

I'm clearly stewing in nostalgia at the moment, and while I'm not sure what that's all about, it is enjoyable, in a relaxing and an almost devil-may-care sort of way that I'm not sure I can verbalize.

I saw an interesting movie last week.  The Tree of Life, by Terrence Malick.    ttp://
This isn't a film I would have gone to solo, but my daughter took me and, as it turns out, was able to explain the film to me afterwards which was helpful.  It was interesting and there were moments that evoked a serious emotional response from me, but I can't say why, necessarily, and I wouldn't describe it as enjoyable, but it was interesting and both hard and wonderful to watch.

Memories are funny things.  My childhood is like slides viewed on a carousel, clicking from one fuzzy image to the next, separated by darkness and yet still connected in some sort of continuity.  Scenes in this movie were like that and they brought to the surface a number of images that I'd not remembered for some time.  The memories that stick usually do so because of some visual or emotional shock that accompanies them.  Images of either great sadness or happiness.  My father standing on the dock holding my brother by both hands and swinging him out over the edge of the water.  My grandmother dropping an entire stack of plates at a dinner party.  Raking leaves with my grandfather on a visit to their house in Chicago, and my fascination with acorns, which I'd never seen before.  My father washing spilled Prell shampoo out of the contents of the suitcase my mother had taken to the hospital with her when she had my brother.  I can still even conjure up that smell. 

I admire people who can connect their memories into a book or a movie.  For me, they're all just sitting in dusty boxes somewhere, and I'm afraid sometimes that by the time I have the space in my life to pull them all out again and go through them, I'll no longer have the capacity to put them in any sort of order. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Seriously, for a moment

Have you been watching the news in the last few days?  If so, those haunting images of starving Somali children are hard to miss.

The statistics are staggering, some 11.5 million people are in some sort of imminent starvation danger, and I believe the figure I saw last night was that some 600,000 children are on the verge of death by starvation this week.

It breaks my heart, and I remember it from my childhood...those same images, whether they were from Somali or the Sudan....I just know that the shocked sensation is familiar.  There was that one image from many years ago, captured by perhaps an Nat' Geo' photographer, of a dying child collapsed in the middle of the desert with a vulture patiently waiting by its side.  Do you remember that?  I do, and this spring I went to a photography festival here in my town, where that photograph was referenced.  The photographer committed suicide recently.

You have to wonder how reporters, politicians, photographers handle the impact of being in situations like that, so dire, where it seems there is no relief in sight.  I can only imagine. 

The whole situation is complicated, of course, by politics and civil war, but the fact that those who are helping currently do not begin to have sufficient resources, regardless of the challenges, is irrefutable.

It's always hard to know what one could do to help, if one were so moved.  So I offer this as a resource:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New hair and yet another reason why I need an iPad

I'm getting my hair cut in a few hours.  (Yes, it's that time of year)  If I HAD an iPad, I could take it with me, google pictures of the hair style of which I am desirous and just show them to my stylist.

Wouldn't that just be super handy?

I'm thinking of going sort of "Betty Draper."  If you know, then you know, otherwise, it's irrelevant.  But, being of a certain age (I did just identify the very first of what is likely to be an avalanche of grey hair) and station (who even uses this expression any more?) in life, I do think I can get away with it.

I'm sort of Betty Draper with teenagers at the moment, of course. 

We're having one of those brief conversations last night(daughter, son, husband and I) wherein my son turns out to be the culprit for something.  I give him THE LOOK.  He cringes.  "Whaaaaaaaat?"  My daughter intercedes:  "That's the look women give you when they're blaming you for something with their eyes.  You should get used to it.  I think you're going to see it a lot."

I love them.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dog Days of Summer, why Kellogg is the DEVIL and an eco-solution to mowing your lawn

One hears that expression occasionally, and we're certainly "there" with our 39th day of temperatures in the 90s this year.  Interestingly, it has its origins way back in Aristotle's day, where the expression referred to the constellation Canis Major which was visible during the hottest part of the summer.  The French still refer to this period as "canicule" based on the same principle.  So, not only is it about constellations, but also the fact that it was so hot it made people as crazy as mad dogs, etc. etc.

Fortunately, I've been spared foaming at the mouth this year, but I certainly will be glad when it gets a little cooler, my motivation to do anything outside (including training for my rapidly approaching half marathon) has been zapped.

So, other than kvetching about the weather, what have I been up to, you might ask.

Working hard, playing hard, and enjoying the usual sampling of life's little irritations.  For example, I did a few circles of nothing, as we like to call them, in our cafeteria this morning looking for something healthier to eat than cookies.  I arrived upon this product:

One would assume from the labelling, that this SHOULD be a relatively "healthful" choice.  No? 

It contains Antioxidants, A, C, E including beta carotene.  All stuff I think I'm supposed to be eating.  No?

"Lightly sweetened, toasted multi-grain flakes and crunchy oat clusters" it reads.

Lightly sweetened my ARSE.  Turns out there are 21 grams of sugar in that little plastic cup, and that's before you add a 1/2 cup of milk, which is another 6 grams of sugar.  I coulda had 3 cookies and a COKE at that point, holy hell!

Of the first 11 ingredients on the cup, 5 of them are SUGAR.


I heard an interesting interview on NPR yesterday morning, about a study someone did (yes, one of those "Scientists report that eating too much sugar CAN make you fat" kind of studies), but it has been somehow proven that what a woman eats affects the taste and smell of her amniotic fluid (no you do NOT want to know how they determined this....euw!)  And, when a baby is exposed to different things in utero it makes them more likely to gravitate towards those things after birth.  Which makes the following two things true:

1.  If you eat great, healthful, tasty foods while you are pregnant, your kids will be more adventurous eaters.
2.  If you exist on a diet of McDonalds and diet soda while you are pregnant, chances are good your kids won't eat vegetables and will likely have weight issues.

My son is on a bit of a tear at the moment, having discovered that 30% of the planet's potable water is wasted on irrigating our front lawns.  (He has taken to yelling at our neighbors about this as we drive past them, hoses in hand).  I had to hug him when he said to me "MOM!  Let's just turn our entire front lawn into a vegetable garden." 

I am, oddly, completely in favor of this idea.  I wonder what my HOA would think.  Details to follow.