Friday, March 30, 2007

At Least I'm Laughing Now

Exchanging "what are you doing this weekend" greetings with a friend, I explained that I would be spending my time quietly helping Hurt Child scoop up flotsam and jetsam from recent terrorist attack on Child's life.

And then it struck me that the easier way of expressing that thought was simply to say that I would be playing the role of The Poopsmith.

If you don't know who The Poopsmith is, you're missing out : ) Follow the link. Trust me. And then catch up on the rest of the cast in Strong Bad E-mails.

All hail The Poopsmith who made me laugh out loud when I didn't think it was possible!

If Not For Such Restrictive Laws!

Things 'round the CountryMouse house have been sucky for months. Make that sucky with a capital S. And a capital everything else. And a handful of heartfelt exclamation points. SUCKY!!!!!!!!!

Child is hurt.
Broken into a thousand pieces hurt.
What the word 'smithereens' was invented for hurt.

Warning: I'm about to be undignified.
Non Apology: I've earned it.

Child has led Child's self into a universe of pain at the hand of one who was previously trusted. The Mama can't do a F***ING thing about it.

What The Mama would like to do is:

1) Run Pain Causer over. At least twice. With a cement truck.

2) Run Pain Causer through. With an assortment of sharp . . . strike that . . . dull--and rusty!--implements.

3) Run down entire litany of every wrong that Pain Causer ever committed while staring daggers directly into Pain Causer's obtuse, flaccid eyes. Wrongs which I know about. Wrongs which I only think I know about. And wrongs which I, being who I am--again invoking non apology--surreptitiously found out about.

4) Run amok with Pain Causer's credit record and medical record, followed by creating extensive and colorful criminal record. Perhaps I'd leave dental record intact. For identification purposes. In case Pain Causer should happen to get run over. At least twice. By a cement truck.

5) . . . hmmmm . . . I've run clean out of ideas. Damn! I'll think of more. Lying in bed, unable to sleep, frequented by pernicious memories of Child's suffering, I'll think of more . . .

Oh, and Pain Causer, in case you should ever read this: Elf. You.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hell On Earth

We've probably all had the excruciating experience of that phone call. Not the one late at night when someone you care about is unhinged with anger or sadness or desperation and reaches out for a calming voice. That other phone call. The one you have to make the next day to check in on the angry, sad, desperate person from the night before to make sure they're still holding on.

The beginning of Blue October's song "Hate Me" starts with an answering machine recording of that kind of phone call. And to my ears, the phone message sounds authentic. The voice of the mother making the call has that tremulous quality lurking behind achingly forced cheerfulness. The fear is audible. The, "Oh God, please let him pick up the phone and be okay" appeal is pulsing just beneath the surface.

I've made that call. I have fathomed the depths of that breathless, heartbeatless eternity of seconds waiting for an interruption to the soulless ring tone. And I have been engulfed in the avalanche of relief when the voice comes on and I can dispatch the organ crushing tension for a few hours. Until it starts all over.

A year and a half ago, my friend Zara made that phone call to her son. But her son never picked up. He couldn't hold on any longer. Instead, she received a different kind of phone call. The call from her son's father, "Zara . . . he's gone."

And the days and the weeks and the months that followed were what could only be described as a kind of earthly hell for her. A hell constructed of walls of questions repeating themselves again and again, barricading her no matter which direction she turned. A hell infested with a haunted, putrid legion of If Only's. A hell filled with the mannequin faces of every single person she had ever known duplicating well-meant, circumspect words of sympathy that could serve only to remind her of what she could no longer hope for. A hell that didn't allow her to sleep for fear that the images she was terrified of admitting into her conscious moments would overrun her subconsciousness with an unrelenting disregard for mercy. A hell that, if she entertained even the tiniest flicker of belief in afterlife, would have been enough to make her want to die just so she could tell her son one last time that she loves him. And comfort him again like she did when he was a little boy.

After a year and a half, Zara is walking among the living again. She works the way the living work. She lives the way the living live. She talks the way the living talk. Almost. There are moments--when she speaks her son's name or some memory of him weaves its way into her conversation--that her voice takes on a bare hint of the tinny echo of that place she clawed her way out of one savage day at a time. That unbearably painful, ruthless place reserved for mothers of those who couldn't hold on any longer.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

a note from mouseville . . .

Hey y'all,

I have some stuff going on for a few days so I won't be here and won't be visiting you guys either.

Catch up with everyone later!

The Peevies

In a recent e-mail to my friend, Stuart, I made a reference to a situation being "a tough row to hoe." Stuart wrote back how very pleased he was that I didn't mangle that metaphor with some such like, "a tough road to hoe." Kinda easy to make Stuart happy, isn't it? But--he's right.

His comment brought to mind many of those other little picayunes I am peevish about. And so--with lots of further ado--I am devoting a whole blog post to my own special awards (think fanfare):

The Peevies

Let's start with the most common category: Mispronunciations

The nominees are:
  • fermiliar and phertography Fer cryin' out loud--enunciate!
  • kindygarden--with its half-wit, common law husband liberry
  • pitcher You know, the kind in a lovely, expensive frame.
  • ungyun (that's onion to the rest of us)
  • ankchent (that's ancient to the rest of us)
  • acrosst and bolth People who mispronounce those words deserve to be slapped acrosst bolth cheeks with an ankchent ungyun.
  • prostrate Okay, here comes the evil, catty snob in me. When folks talk about prostrate cancer, I internally ask the question, "Oh, is that the cancer caused by lying face down?" Meow.

And the Mispronunciation Peevie goes to: The X Files!

  • Back in the days when it was unnaturally popular, I refused to watch the show "Beverly Hills, 90210" because the one time I did watch it one of the actors mispronounced a word that was so glaring as to be improbable. The Shannon Daugherty character was delivering an impassioned speech, thanking one and all for I don't know what and don't really care. Saving the most important for last, she finally thanked her beau, " . . . and expecially Dylan."
  • Ewwwww! Wondering to myself why someone on the set didn't clue her in, I realized this was, after all, Shannon Daugherty. If the rumors are true, folks on the set likely didn't want to take the risk involved in cluing Miss Daugherty in to anything less than her hair being on fire. If that.
  • In the same category as (and sharing the award with) expecially is: expresso. And excape. And excargot. Kidding : )

Our next category is: Misuse

The nominees are:

  • there's Am I not understanding something or do people misuse the contraction "there's" all the freaking time? Isn't the contraction "there's" a shorter way of saying "there is"? And . . . doesn't it stand to reason that in a sentence with a plural noun, one would say "there are" not "there is" and, therefore, the use of "there's" would be improper? There's a good chance I missed a memo on that one.
  • This one's for you, Cheek: its/it's "It's" is the contraction of "it is." "Its" (quoting from an on-line dictionary) means: of or relating to it or itself especially as possessor, agent, or object of an action: The dog went to its kennel.
  • That one is easy to mess up. I do it all the time. Sometimes Cheek catches me. And reprimands me. But, just to throw a wrench into the works: Doesn't the kennel belong to the dog and wouldn't it, therefore, really want to have an apostrophe to show possession, "it's kennel" just like if you said, "the dog's kennel"? Just asking . . .

And the Misuse Peevie (because I am the only one who gets a vote and this one bugs the ever livin' stuffin' out of me) goes to:

  • I/me I wish only school children made this blunder. Alas, adults do it all the time. "The chocolate is for Billy and I." Should be Billy and me. I know why this mistake is so common. Youngsters in school are told that it is polite to put 'I' after everyone else in a sentence. Somehow the lesson about when to use 'I' and when to use 'me' gets lost in the shuffle. I always tell my kids to take the other person out of the sentence. You would never say "The chocolate is for I." Know where I learned that? Summer school . . .

Next up: Redundancy Again

The nominees are:

  • 6 a.m. in the morning Not to be confused with 6 a.m. at night.
  • unthaw The act of putting food into the freezer?
  • hot water heater (courtesy of Stuart) Heating the already hot water saves so much time, doesn't it?
  • deja vu all over again This phrase is repetitively redundant unless one is referring to having a deja vu episode of a previously experienced deja vu episode. This condition may require medical attention or it could be submitted to a scriptwriter for motion picture consideration which could be called Groundhog Day. Oh wait--that's already happened. See--right there, deja vu all over again!

But, the hands down, indisputable, ask-no-further-questions winner in the Redundancy Again category:

  • is is You've all heard it. It's everywhere. It's not just Average Joe who uses it. Celebrities, professionals, even teachers commit this sacrilege.
  • The first is becomes part of the subject--nearly glued to its preceding noun: "The problemis . . . "
  • The second is functions as the verb: " . . . is I won't share the chocolate with Billy."
  • So that the sentence becomes, "The problem is, is I won't share the chocolate with Billy."
  • The real problem with people who abuse this hard working little verb is, is . . . Never mind. I was going to be cruel again. And then I was going to attach an unkind President Clinton reference. I'll be be nice.

And finally: The Mongrel Category

  • One of my son's former wrestling coaches, who made a serious study of torturing our language until it screamed out for mercy, used this inbred marriage of a phrase all the time: "I can't thank you more than enough." Naturally, all the parents handled this in a mature fashion. We laughed at him behind his back.
  • all's The ugly, illegitimate, contracted child of all and is.
  • Courtesy of my mother (the woman who passed all her English Snobbery genes on to me) irregardless. Nuff said, right?

At long last, the Peevie for the Mongrel Category goes to:

  • Paula Cole for the unforgivable way in which she held English down, put a straight jacket on it, drugged it up and forced it into a contorted configuration all for the sake of making a rhyme. A really bad rhyme! To wit:
  • Lyrics to Paula Cole's I Don't Want to Wait
    • "So open up your morning light,
    • And say a little prayer for I . . . "

Congrats on your Peevie, Paula. Me's watching you . . .

[Ummmm, yeah. I know. I'm no expert. I can't comma my way out of a paper bag. But this is my rant. No complaints or corrections please : ) ]

Monday, March 26, 2007

My Feral Child

Little Guy and I took a rather protracted lunch break from our homeschool studies today while I participated in an e-mail 3 way with Cheek and Anon.

No need to alert the education authorities. While I was enmeshed in an unnatural electronic relationship, Little Guy used his thoroughly unsupervised time to build himself a practice soccer goal. By himself--no help whatsoever. Cool, huh?

(It doesn't show in the photo, but there is black netting stapled to sides and back of goal.)

And then we went back to our regular studies . . .

My First Memester

I loved this meme so much, I just had to borrow it from my friend, Mary.

1. Name a movie that you have seen more than 10 times.

My First Mister
The Lover
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Ever After
The Breakfast Club
The Usual Suspects
Strictly Ballroom
and Muriel's Wedding (both of which were on cable this weekend--cool coincidence!)

2. Name a movie that you’ve seen multiple times in the theater.

the original Star Wars

3. Name an actor that would make you more inclined to see a movie.

Heath Ledger . . . for his superior acting abilities . . . yeah, that's why . . .
Leonardo DiCaprio
John Cusack
Toni Collette
Robert Downy, Jr.
Giovanni Ribisi
Brenda Blethyn
Greg Kinnear
Kate Winslet

4. Name an actor that would make you less likely to see a movie.

Tom Cruise
Elizabeth Berkley
Clint Eastwood
Pamela Anderson
Pauly Shore (I think Pauly needs to be taken to a farm and worked really, really hard and only be allowed to eat that which he has grown and harvested with his own hands . . . )

5. Name a movie that you can and do quote from.

Orange County

  • "Dude, I never went to college and check me out. I'm kick ass!"
  • "I love you, man. We don't say that often enough. And it's not the drugs talking."
  • "You think you're going to create a T-shirt company? You can't even dress yourself!"
  • "You're my same height--that is neat!"
  • Mother: "You expect me to drop everything and entertain these people?" Son: "Mom, you aren't doing anything."
  • "We got a sprinter. Five foot five, no pants, unkempt... portly."


  • "*cough, cough* I think I'm getting the Black Lung, Pop"
  • "Merman! MerMAN!"
  • " . . . it doesn't mean that we too can't not die in a freak gasoline fight accident."
  • "Or did you think I was too stupid to know what a eugoogooly was?"
  • "One look? One LOOK? I don't THINK so!"
  • "Oh, I'm sorry, did my pin get in the way of your ass? Do me a favor and lose five pounds immediately . . . "
  • " . . . whatever it takes, ruin as many people's lives, so long as you can make a name for yourself as an investigatory journalist, no matter how many friends you lose or people you leave dead and bloodied along the way, just so long as you can make a name for yourself as an investigatory journalist, no matter how many friends you lose or people you leave dead and bloodied and dying along the way?"
  • " . . . how many abo-digitals do you see modelling?"
  • "Obey my dog!"

Monsters, Inc.

  • "Stop talking, you're making it worse!"

6. Name a movie musical that you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs.

Rocky Horror Picture Show

And, copying Mary's answer, Grease. Not only can I sing all the songs, but as a youngster I was part of a group that did a little entertaining with dance and acrobatics--I can also dance to some of these songs. Yeah, Baby!

7. Name a movie that you have been known to sing along with.

Moulin Rouge--the Roxanne/tango/rape/crime-of-passion number. Brilliant!

Parts of Chicago--particularly the Cell Block Tango.

(hmmm, tangos, anger and murder are the themes to which I cheerfully hum along?)

8. Name a movie that you would recommend everyone see.


At the end, the quiet way the simple parallel is drawn between life sustaining water and The Living Water is so subtle and unobtrusive but is the real point of the whole movie. This film charmingly puts all that is truly important into perspective without being heavy handed about it.

9. Name a movie that you own.

Finding Nemo

10. Name an actor that launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops.

*sigh* What else can I say about Mark Whalberg? From Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch (!) to The Departed. A major feat.

11. Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in? If so, what?

I've been to the drive-in. Can't say as I've ever seen a movie there.

12. Ever made out in a movie?

Isn't that why they turn the lights off?

13. Name a movie that you keep meaning to see but just haven’t yet gotten around to it.


14. Ever walked out of a movie?

Again--I must repeat what Mary had to say. Almost didn't make it through Pulp Fiction for many reasons, but particularly because of the S&M scene. That whole section really bothered me. REALLY bothered me.

15. Name a movie that made you cry in the theater.

Terminator I cry at everything : )

16. Popcorn?

Extra butter, please.

17. How often do you go to the movies (as opposed to renting them or watching them at home)?

Once every couple months.

18. What’s the last movie you saw in the theater?

Music and Lyrics

19. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of movie?

Non mainstream films--things like The Music of Chance. And {embarrassed smile} chick flicks. I have so had enough of mafia movies already!

20. What’s the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?

Born Free That's weird, I just looked it up and it was originally released in 1966--way before I was born. I probably didn't see it until 1975ish? Must have been re-released.

21. What movie do you wish you had never seen?

Color of Night Seriously, seriously bad movie. Bad movie. Bad movie!

22. What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed?

Being John Malkovich

23. What is the scariest movie you’ve seen?

The original Stepford Wives. I had never seen it until a couple of years ago, so I viewed it through mom eyes. (Stop reading if you haven't seen it.)

The manipulation at the end when they used her children's voices calling out for her help was nothing short of diabolical. Knowing it would be the end of her, she couldn't help but try to rescue her children anyway. Disturbed me for weeks. Weeks.

24. What is the funniest movie you’ve seen?

The first time I saw American Pie. Primarily because I saw it with Mister who laughed till his voice was raw and tears were streaming down his face. He so identified with being in high school, trying always to be cool (even though he was one of the cool kids it was a tough facade to keep up) and the perpetual hunt to get laid that first time.

Pompously adding a final question of my own:
25: What movie do you wish you would have seen in the theater?

Billy Elliot--if only for the final scene. As Billy is preparing to take the stage in his debut as a Principal dancer in an all male version of Swan Lake, the shots go back and forth between the audience and Billy. The music begins to build. In the audience are his father and brother, as well as his friends from the old mining town (hyperventilating with anticipation and disbelief that one of their own has made it big.) The actor who plays the father nails it. There sits this manual labor slave, bursting with pride over his son (a ballet dancer, for heaven's sake!) trying desperately to contain the tears that will at any moment breach the dam.

Backstage, Billy looks calm and ready as he stretches. As the music decreases tempo in a downward scale while getting progressively louder, the grown-up Billy runs onstage and begins to lift into a leap. It's edited in slow motion, showing the mechanics of the jump and the parts of his body as he rises into flight. Torso, legs, beautifully arched foot. Finally there is a full shot of the powerful elegance of his entrance. That scene alone, sending shivers down my spine every single time I see it, would have been worth the price of a ticket to experience on the big screen.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Suburban Legends

An active mother of three. That's how every description of a suburban mom begins.

  • Local news report: "Now here's a story about a real hero. Julie Jones is an active mother of three . . . "
  • Volunteer awards ceremony: "Next, we would like to honor Suzy Smith, an active mother of three . . . "
  • Obituary: "The deceased was an active mother of three . . . "

Has anyone ever heard of an inactive mother of three?

"She was a lazy ass-mother of three . . . " Never happens. Could actually be true, but nobody would ever say it. Well, not in public.

I have issues with language. Things irritate me. More than they should.

I am unsure at what point in our grammatical history "active" became a definite article for mothers of any number of children (not exclusively for mothers of three, but no mother of three exists without that modifier.) That example is bad enough, however, here is probably the worst offender, in my self righteous opinion, of a definite article that has permanently attached itself to a noun like KFed to Brit's money:

the green bean casserole

Most of you probably have no clue what I'm talking about. (See--it's that whitetrashiosis rearing its badly bleached, blonde head again.) When planning any holiday meal--Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Flag Day--one of the elder stateswomen of my family predictably requests that someone bring the green bean casserole. And I know its not just my family. The circumstantial evidence in the grocery store irrefutably casts said bean blasphemy as a major player in the average suburban tragedy commonly billed as 'dinner'.

Are we all familiar with green bean casserole? Slimy concoction of canned beans, canned condensed soup, and French's brand (does any other company even make this stuff?) french fried onions. (And in case you're wondering, out of sympathy and respect for country and culinary culture, I refuse to capitalize the word french in that description.)

Green bean casserole is to our era what jell-o was to my mom's. With its tempting formula of few ingredients and practically zero prep time; with its non-threatening nature that appeals even to the most epicurephobic of great uncles; with its dependence on staples likely already dusty on the pantry shelves (save the aforementioned fried onions that are doubtless specially purchased for the occasion;) green bean casserole has infiltrated the suburban holiday dinner table and declared permanent residence. God save us all.

There are so many things about its status that offend me. Not the least of which is the resulting disappearance of more interesting, seasonal vegetable dishes that now never even get a walk-on role. Not too many years ago the rest of the menu might be set, but the veggies enjoyed an open audition for the privilege to support the main players. But now, dare I suggest I would like to bring a different (oh, I don't know--colorful, flavorful, healthful, noncrapful) sort of veggie dish to a family fete, and I am met with this stock response, "Oh no, that's not necessary. I'm making the green bean casserole."

And the whole of the produce section sighs in resignation and quietly rots itself to sleep . . .

The green bean casserole. Vaunted pretender to the head of the table. The green bean casserole. As though the turkey, the cranberry sauce and the pumpkin pie weren't holding the fort just fine on their own. Now they require the assistance of degenerate legume amalgam to fortify any and every American feast.

I have thought way too much about this. And, just between you and me, I have been seen eating (gasp--enjoying!) the stuff. *sigh*

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Family "Planning"

Some weeks ago I was in a dollar store. [Incidentally, if you're detecting a hint of whitetrashiosis in my makeup--WalMart, sleeping in late, dollar store--you might be on to something. More about that some other time.] I'm not certain it's the law, but doesn't pretty much everything in the dollar store cost a dollar?

So, I'm standing in the check out line waiting and I take a glance at the impulse buy rack. It offers the usual last minute purchase items: candy, batteries, nail clippers, early pregnancy tests.

I literally laughed out loud. Early pregnancy tests on the impulse buy rack. This arrangement begs several questions:

1) What woman ever in the history of sex and pregnancy has uttered the phrase, "I think I'm pregnant. I should go to the dollar store to find out."

2) How many women go to the dollar store, carefully pick out a set of plastic tumblers, potpourri, soap, hairbrush, and as they pay for their items peruse the last chance bin and think to themselves, "Oh yes, that reminds me, my period is late. I should buy one of those tests."

3) Is a pregnancy test purchased at the dollar store--for A DOLLAR!--going to be reliably accurate? I'm just sayin' . . .

4) Why weren't condoms on the rack too? Wouldn't that actually be the better choice of impulse buy items? 'Cause if you didn't bother with the impulse condoms before the impulse sex, isn't the impulse pregnancy test kinda like shutting the barn door after the cows impulsively get out?

5) Maybe they used to offer dollar packs of condoms on that rack. Followed by recall. Followed by dollar pregnancy tests . . .

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

UndieLess in Seattle: A Cautionary Tale

Is your interest piqued?

Dateline: My underwear drawer; 8:30 this morning.

Down to my last pair again? It was only like 4 days ago that I restocked it with freshly laundered undies. I knew I was starting to run low but this is living on the edge.

You know how you get to that point when you haven't "gone underwear shopping" (as 22 year old girlfriend terms it) for awhile but you know you need to because the ones inhabiting the drawer . . . and the hamper . . . and the basket of unfolded laundry sitting on the living room couch . . . and the floor . . . are showing signs of advanced wear and neglect? So I've reached that point. Or, more accurately, I reached that point some time ago but didn't notice because the rest of my life is going to hell in a handbasket and what matter is underwear when my new hobby is lying on the couch sobbing 18 hours at a stretch?

I guess I must have been paying enough attention to the problem to occasionally throw out those which were significantly beyond their expiration date. [And no, I don't do this with previously enjoyed panties.] My conscious mind, however, didn't quite pick up on the mathematical problem before me:

undies - undies = disturbing lack of undies

Are you all screaming into your monitors, "Go shopping for heaven's sake and find something just a smidgen less inane to talk about!"

Oh, would that I could . . .

But it's just not that easy.

Several of my girlfriends and I were sitting around yakking one day . . . scratch that . . . we were having a genteel and refined discussion as our brilliant and non-neglected homeschooled children were immersed in some advanced genetic engineering experiments, when the subject of midlife affairs came up (in purely abstract terms, of course.) Angie mentioned that the most readable sign that a husband is having a fling is if he buys new underwear. Good to know!

Now, my sweet Mister knows all about, and is nobly tolerant of, my less than above board chats with a certain Young Guy*. Mister has said--and let me directly quote--"Have your fun. Just don't sleep with him."

Are you catching on to my dilemma? I can't go out and buy new underwear now! What would my sweet Mister think?!

So I'm stuck. UndieLess in Seattle.



*Disclaimer: This is mostly played for laughs. While Young Guy is a real person, there is nothing going on between us outside of the occasional phone call which is mostly maternal in nature. Just so we're all on the same page . . .

Monday, March 19, 2007

An Embarrassing Slice of My Life

Kelly Tayner. Kelly was a football player. A year behind me in high school. I didn't usually go for guys who were younger than me. For Kelly, had circumstances been different, I would have made an exception.

Kelly was hunk-o-licious handsome, but he wasn't in the least bit arrogant about his looks. In fact, Kelly was notably uncomfortable and shy about all the attention girls paid to him. Athletic, gorgeous and humble. A deadly combination. Oh, and Kelly adored me--also lethal. Devoted puppy dog looks in my direction, but too shy ever to follow through.

Even if he had asked me out, there were two things that would have held me back from dating Kelly. First of all, I already had a boyfriend. Bit of a stumbling block. But the real deal breaker was that Kelly was too dumb for me. Wanna know how I know that? I had occasion to witness firsthand how slow Kelly was while we attended summer school together.

Now, in case you don't realize what a major indictment that is on me, summer school in those days was reserved for the dumbest of the dumb*. It was for the kids who couldn't pass regular classes during the school year and needed serious, concentrated, one-on-one tutoring, all day long for six weeks over summer vacation. And I was there. Adding insult to injury, I was there to make up the Freshman English class I had failed. Freshman freaking English. A class I could have passed (and nearly did) with my eyes closed.

The real story behind the one class I ever flunked was not that I couldn't grasp the subject, but that I never bothered to show up. We were allowed to miss 15 days in a quarter. Three whole weeks of absence left us considerable leeway. I managed to miss at least 16 days. And not because I was sick. Freshman English, to my way of thinking, was beneath me. A waste of time that could better be used for socializing. So I skipped class from time to time. A couple time to times a week, in fact.

The TA in that class, a senior named Kirk, tried, on my behalf, to make it work for me. He attempted to fudge the attendance record just enough. He tried to sneak in a fabricated grade here and there for assignments I had missed. But in the end, all his generous help just wasn't enough. One lovely June morning Kirk stood before me shaking his head. He was clearly so sad that he couldn't have done more. "I tried," he lamented, "but you missed just one too many days. Sorry." I was sorry too.

With unabridged humiliation, I was obliged to report to summer school with the rest of the dolts. Including--like a flourless chocolate cake--sweet, dense Kelly.

On that first shameful day of post school school, Mrs. Hambly informed us that as long as we did all the work and scored at least 80% on the assignments and exams, she didn't care if we worked ahead and finished a few days early. That lit a fire under me like nothing else could have. Even the prospect of dallying about with Kelly for six uninterrupted weeks wasn't enough to quench my unstoppable desire to get the hell out of there.

In order to rescue my family and myself from the disgrace I had brought down like a plague on our house, I endeavored to complete the work as quickly as humanly possible. I crammed a six week course into 5 days flat. Done. Washed my hands of that place and those people forever. So long, darling Kelly.

Ironically, I learned more about English grammar and syntax in those 5 days than I did in the rest of the combined years of my education.

I wonder what ever became of Kelly?

Must go Google . . .

*I appreciate that this is a harsh judgement. I'm describing it the way I viewed things when I was 15--and horrible!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

my world continues to implode . . .

If it isn't one thing, it's something else. Right?

Things that have changed this year:
  • Number One, while consistently earning a 4.0 GPA as a mechanical engineering student (and garnering amazing, wonderful awards to boot) has taken to brewing his own beer in his room. Can't be like all the other college boys and just *buy* beer. Nope. Not this one. His motto as a toddler was, "I do by self!" Evidently, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
  • Beautiful. She's beautiful. Well, she was. With advent of 'boyfriend' and independence, she has chosen to pierce her lip. Thereby disfiguring what was once (and I'm not exaggerating just because I'm her mother. Not much.) a stunning face. People used to stop her on the street and tell her how gorgeous she was. I'll be fair and admit those people were guys in their 20's. And 30's. And 40's. And occasionally in their 60's. ewwwww! Maybe the piercing was a rebellious attempt to stop menfolk from ogling her. Cause I know how I hate when that happens to me! Mmmm hmmm.

And now--drum roll please--to cap off what is likely only the top of the list of unwelcome changes I am forced to endure with no choice whatsoever:

  • 11 year old, I learned in conversation tonight, aspires to be just like Red Green. Or--better still--Jack Black. What ever happened to little boys wanting to be firemen? Or be like their dads? Or Superman! When did Red Green and Jack Black become heroes worthy of worship and imitation?

Fiddle dee dee, tomorrow is another day . . .

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Spring break is over.

Number One packed up the laundry that he had brought home to do. He packed the uber nutritious breakfast cookies I made for him. He packed up his new toy (an SKS rifle--he's a boy, did I mention?) Cell phone. Wallet. Keys. Backpack. Hugged Mom and drove away. Again.

While he's busy with schoolwork and clubs and sports and his social life, I don't think about missing him all that much. He is happy and thriving where he is and I could not be more pleased for him. It's in those moments just before he arrives in our driveway for a visit that the sting of his absence pains me. And more so as he pulls out to head back to school.

I took pictures of the kids together and thought I'd post one. But Beautiful, who no longer lives here, wasn't in the pictures. And none of the shots with boys together quite worked out (one with a goofy look on his face, the other with his eyes closed : )

Instead, in tribute to spring that has most extravagantly sprung in my little corner of the world (specifically in the orchard next door) I'm posting a photo of the plum tree blossoming in my house. I wish I could post its sweet smell . . .

Thursday, March 15, 2007

For Your Consideration: Mother of the Year Nominee

I am not a morning person. I'm not even an afternoon person. Evening is okay, except that I have to make dinner and bow to all the other unreasonable demands my family layers on me (when will these people leave me alone already?)

Night. That's my good time. My productive time. Just so long as we all agree on a definition of productivity that is completely self-serving.

Quiet, alone night time. That's my time. It's not unusual for me to stay up until 3, sometimes 4 a.m. As a result, (let me state this delicately) early mornings have never been my specialty. And by early, I mean anything before, oh say, ten-ish.

Before you call CPS, let me illustrate how this all works to everyone's satisfaction:

I learned long ago how to pick my battles. When it comes to morning routine, I don't bother exhausting myself by flailing around attempting that challenging upstream swim. It's so much easier to float with the current. My kids have always been allowed to stay up late reading. As a handy consequence, they too sleep in late. In a mutually beneficial arrangement, the kids and I happily get up between 9 and 10 each morning. As long as the school work gets completed and the chores are attended to, it's a victimless crime.

My Thursday morning schedule is constructed around Little Guy's piano lessons. If I get up at 9:15, I have time to check my e-mail (at least as important as coffee!) take a shower, make myself passably presentable to the world, and leave the house by 10:15 to get to piano lessons by 10:45.

So, this morning at 8:45--a full half hour before I needed to bother with consciousness--I was just a tad unhappy with the ringing of the phone. We have an answering machine. I ignored the phone. Then it rang again. Shit. Leave a f***ing message already and let me get back to sleep!

Once the house phone finally ceased its incessant summons, I could hear my cell ringing in the kitchen. Damn. Must be Mister. He can leave a voicemail. I'll call back in half an hour. (An obvious bid for Wife of the Year.) My cell rang again. What doesn't that man understand about voicemail????? Next, the sound of Number One's cell.

Number One, home for spring break and having no obligations, was happy to slide back into the family ritual of staying up late and sleeping in long. To accommodate this delicious habit, he left his cell on the coffee table so it wouldn't wake him. How convenient for him. How decidedly inconvenient for me since I could now hear it ringing yet again!

Great. Must be some sort of emergency. Why the hell can't emergencies occur midday when I'm alive and dressed and prepared to manage a crisis?

Fine. I hauled my under rested carcass out of bed to answer Number One's cell. Looking at the call log, I could see it wasn't Mister. It was Beautiful. By now the phone in my hand was ringing AGAIN. I answered in the polite way most folks receive a phone call, "What!"

"Mama, I'm so sick, but I can't miss work. Will you please drive me today?"

"You don't even have to be to work until 2 this afternoon. You're calling me before 9 o'freaking clock in the morning to ask for a ride at 2?"

"Why are you being so horrible to me? I want to go back to sleep but first I needed to be sure I had a ride set up."

*Heavy, guilt inducing sigh* "Fine. I'll get you. Take a hit of NyQuil and go back to bed."

Now there's some mothering for you!

This evening I made up for my lack of ante meridiem compassion by making her favorite dinner, soothing her with a hot cup of tea and generally clucking over my ailing little chick. That just about erases my debt, don't you think?

Oh, but let's add this log of maternal ineptitude to the fire, shall we?:

10:14 a.m., just as Little Guy and I were heading out the door for piano lessons, the phone rang again. It was the piano teacher, Mrs. S. I was surprised to hear her voice. I thought she must have had some emergency and was calling to cancel today's lesson. Mrs. S was equally surprised to hear my voice. She asked if everything was okay--because we're not usually this late.

Not this late? Doesn't that woman know how to tell time? It's 10:15, the time we always leave for . . . Oh, shit. It's 10:15. We always leave at 9:15 in order to be on time for a 9:45 lesson--like we've been doing every week without fail since September. What. The. Hell?

And, if that's not enough to clinch the Mother of the Year trophy, let me give you one final embarrassing example of my finely honed parenting skills:

Later, that same day--7 p.m. to be exact--the phone, eternal harbinger of pestilence, rang again. It was my dear friend Mary. I was surprised to hear her voice (is this a familiar pattern yet?) We usually chat much earlier in the afternoon. Mary sounded a little confused and uncomfortable. "Umm, I was just wondering if I was supposed to bring Little Guy home to you or if you are picking him up?"

"Little Who, now? OH! Little Guy! He's at your house, isn't he?"

Yes. You read that right. I actually forgot the existence of one of my children.

Note to self: Maybe don't purchase that trophy case just yet . . .

My Infernal 'To Do' List

Note To Self:

  • June 12, 2006: Work hard this year. Look HOT for 40th birthday.

Reality Check:

  • March 12, 2007, 8:45 a.m.: There isn't enough time before birthday to achieve planned hotness.

New Plan:

  • 8:46 a.m.: Before birthday, convince entire culture to revise definition of 'hotness' to mean something a little more Rubenesque. And doughy.

Reality Check:

  • 8:47 a.m.: There isn't enough time left in century to achieve planned cultural revision.

Newer Plan Still:

  • 8:48 a.m.: Go to the gym once in awhile. Attempt looking hot-ish for 40th birthday.
  • Maybe 41st birthday . . .

Revised New Plan:

  • 8:49 a.m.: The gym will still be there tomorrow.
  • Today, finish eating all 6 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Alone.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

10 x 2

(More Than) Ten Days It's Been Great to be a Mom

10. All 3 kids' births. Fear and pain aside, I ended up with healthy, sweet babies : )

9. All the days when the kids have gotten kudos for being the remarkable people they are.

8. The day Number One received his first college acceptance letter. Vindication and empirical proof that homeschooling wasn't a breathtakingly whackadoo choice!

7. That winter afternoon when Beautiful was 15 and an acquaintance we were chatting with made the comment that Beautiful and I were obviously good friends. Not wanting to be presumptuous, I looked to Beautiful for the answer. The smile on her face--yes, a teenager smiling at her mother--was all I ever needed to know.

6. During funeral for Number One's cherished friend when Number One took the time, and the notice, to comfort me. That one action was a profound illustration that he was all grown up.

5. Any summer day water skiing with the kids and their friends. As our neighbor says, "The life of Reilly."

4. Seeing Beautiful extend grace and learn and grow from less than perfect situation with the man she loves. She is a more compassionate and giving human being than I can ever hope to be.

3. Watching Little Guy fix the neighbor kids' bicycles and set up their second-hand cable ride and take it upon himself to cook and do dishes when Mom is sick and knowing that, though he may not be a scholar, he'll be able to take care of himself and his family. There is no price to be put on that.

2. All the days when my kids, oddballs though they may be, demonstrate how unusual and outside-the-box they are. Those are the best (and sometimes most embarrassing) days!

1. All the days when the kids have thanked me, even with all my flaws, for being the mom that I am. Cool.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Ten Days It's Sucked to be a Mom

10. That 3rd birth--the one where I refused to have another Cesarean and found out that 'regular' birth (and there's no other way I can think to describe this) hurts like crapping a brick. Sideways.

9. That 2nd birth--the one that wasn't an emergency c-section but the anesthetic wasn't quite working. Near as I can figure, that's how it feels to be trapped inside a slasher movie--strapped to a table while a psychopathic maniac (is that redundant? Doesn't matter--it's accurate!) tears through your bowels with a sharp instrument.

8. That 1st birth--the one that was an emergency c-section when I was 18 and terrified and I could even see the fear in my sturdy Mister's eyes . . .

7. When all the nebulous bits of evidence gelled and it became indisputable that Little Guy, great kid that he is, just doesn't have a head for books. *sigh*

6. Any day, any time over 21 years, that had to do with my kids' hurt feelings, broken trust, break ups, betrayal, abandonment, loss of friendship, getting left out . . .

5. Any night, any time during kids' teenagehood, when I wasn't quite sure where they were, when they'd be back or how I could get in touch with them . . .

4. That afternoon driving east on I 90, talking to Beautiful and getting a crystal clear view inside the workings of her mind and gaining an understanding of how amazing this girl really is. And suddenly wondering how I hadn't seen it before. Where the hell had I been? And next realizing, in one awful, crashing moment, how widely I had missed the mark with her all the previous 15 years and that there was no way to make up for that . . .

3. That awful night--that excruciating, stomach-churning night--when I witnessed firsthand the evidence to corroborate my long held suspicion that FT isn't quite up to being as good to Beautiful as she deserves.

2. That Tuesday afternoon when I had to call Number One and tell him his closest friend--his spiritual brother--had been killed in a car accident the night before.

1. That incomprehensible day when it became evident that Beautiful could forgive and go back to FT. And all that it implies for her future . . .

Sunday, March 11, 2007

An Extrapolation

(No, this is not based on true events.)

Though we had long since wandered away from our one time notion of having a little fun together, Young Guy still frequented my home along with the rest of my kids' friends. It must have been a little on the awkward side for him: no hope of a relationship with Beautiful--the one he truly longed for--and no longer the thrill of clandestine flirtation with me. But, with no family of his own, he continued, intermittently, to join us in our family life.

He was here that Sunday afternoon.

We had a houseful on that cheerful day. Number One was home for spring break. Both sets of grandparents, several aunts and uncles, plus Beautiful and FT, all here to catch up with Number One. Little Guy and the neighborhood kids were in and out of the house as well. Nothing else to occupy his time, Young Guy used the occasion of Number One's visit (though in the secret chambers of his heart he was sharply jealous of Number One) to hang out with our crowd.

The family had eaten and talked and laughed and played games. Clucking over my brood had made a replete and blessed day for me.

As evening meandered in, the party broke up. Extended family went on their way, Little Guy and retinue retired to the neighbor's trampoline. Mister, as always, had promised to help a friend with some perpetual automotive project, while Beautiful, FT and Number One made plans to gather their mutual friends and go bowling. Young Guy had been invited to the bowling party, but, not chummy with the rest of the invitees, he declined.

One minute the house was buzzing, the next, abruptly silent. It was just the dishes and me. And Young Guy. Suddenly feeling let down, as I noticed he always did when the quiet hours came and he was left alone, Young Guy stayed awhile, employing the excuse of helping me clean up.

We talked comfortably while clearing the table and laughing at the mess my crew had thoughtlessly left behind. I was standing at the sink chattering on about some trifle when I felt his hands at my waist. He turned me around to face him and, having never done it before, leaned down and kissed me.

It was the kiss I had waited years for. The kiss I had irrepressibly hungered for. Eternal moments ticked away while we lived out what we both had imagined thousands of times.

In declaration of his true intent, he pulled my hips into his, the path of his thought unmistakable.

Could I? Was he worth the risk, this boy with the soft yet insistent eyes and that unassuming mouth--the mouth that gave away all the secrets his falsely cocky voice tried in vain to hide? Everything that is my life swirled around in my head. Each component asking its own questions and presenting its own evidence. Wishing desperately just to melt into his hands and his scent, I instead stood weighing the outcomes.

We could so easily have sneaked off to his house. Nobody would ever have known the difference. One quick call to Mister's phone, one casual lie, and nobody would ever have questioned my absence.

Standing there, my heart pounding out a rhythm it hadn't played in over 20 years, I yearned, as he had suggested so long ago, to close my eyes and let go . . .

Verdana and Shaniqua, viewing it it from Mister's perspective and defending his honor, forcibly held Sexy Girl back. Kicking and screaming, Sexy Girl begged to be left alone with Young Guy--just this once. Verdana and Shaniqua were unmovable. Sexy Girl waged a valiant and monumental battle, but Verdana and Shaniqua were resolute. There would be no betrayal of Mister. Not the Mister who would walk to the ends of the earth for his family. He deserved better than that. Sexy Girl raised one last unflinching offensive, using every manipulative, cloying tactic in her arsenal, but Verdana and Shaniqua, the might of virtue on their side, would not give. Destroyed, Sexy Girl acquiesced.

I had a detailed, carefully worded explanation drafted in my head. Pushing him gently away, all I could choke out, Sexy Girl's acid tears blazing trails down my cheeks, was, "I can't."

He searched my face, looking for just a quiver of unsteadiness in my resolve. I could not bear to hold what had become his fiercely bitter stare. Involuntarily, I looked away. He didn't speak a single word. Not a question. Not a plea. Turning his back to me, he walked away, leaving Sexy Girl nothing but to keen her own piteous, silent dirge for all that was and all that could never be.

I had come so close to eating that forbidden cake. The stolen taste of icing alone was nearly enough to shatter my will. But I do not regret having stayed true to my Mister and to a vow taken long ago when I didn't have any real sense of what I was pledging. Nor what I was giving up.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Time . . . and Senility

My new blogger pal, Cheek, and I have been discussing rites of passage. We're both 39 and have bandied about with spectacular ways to declare to the world that we're vibrant and strong and 40!

Or . . .

We're trying to stave off the inevitable stomach-in-the-throat sensation when the roller coaster crests that precipitous arc by diving headlong into Bacchanalian adventures and pretending not to care . . .

Thing is, I kinda do care. Didn't used to. But then, I didn't used to be close enough to see the whites of the the big ole 4-0's eyes.

And then I read this post. That exact thing happened to me! Except I turned 37 a few years ago. Because I'm older than Susie Sunshine. Biotch.

Anyhoo--that was a cool year. The year I thought I was 38 but I was really only 37. And then things got. even. better!

When I really was 38, Beautiful had her first boyfriend. I liked First Boyfriend. First Boyfriend was stunned (truly--I could see it in his face--trust me on this) to learn that I was 38. He was quite certain I was only 34. 34! (No--he wasn't sucking up just because he was a little nervous about being the first boyfriend of a beautiful virgin girl with overly protective parents. He thought I looked 34. Shut up.)

Beautiful and I enjoyed his complete lack of computation skills so much (my eldest at that time was 20--chances of me being 34 were pretty slim) that we both began to actually think I really was 34. *Sigh* Good times. Good times, that is, until my 35th birthday came along and it turned out to be my 39th birthday. Crap. Lost 4 whole years. They tell you having teens will age you. They don't even know.

Getting back to me . . .

I do care about getting older after all. There was a time, not too long ago (oh, sweet naivety of youth . . . ) when I didn't care at all. Not even a little bit. Everyone gets older. Period. The only alternative to getting older is, *ahem* not getting older at all. I was happy to accept every day that I woke up on God's glorious Earth as a precious gift of time.

I still feel that way. Except now, I notice that the gift comes less meticulously wrapped. It now comes with wrapping that's maybe kinda lumpy. And a little teensy bit wrinkled around the edges. And looks like it was used and ironed out and used again. And, from all the evidence around me, it ain't gettin' any better.

Unless . . .

Unless I move to SoCal. Specifically the Hollywood region. Seems the women down there, no matter how old they get, don't lose the satiny luster off the wrapping. Must be something in the water. But there are some nasty side effects to imbibing that water. Like certain portions of the face don't seem to have any mobility. And the slow but steady creep of the eyebrows towards the hairline. And as long as you continue to look young, seems, in their culture, you have to continue to marry young. I'm not sure I'm up for that.

I'm pretty content with my sweet Mister. I don't have to pretend with Mister that I'm 25. Or 30. Or 35. I can be 40. I can have crow's feet. And a few stray grays. And southerly migrating boobs. Mister is okay with that. Mister joins me in those infirmities.

I'm going to print this out and save it in my Stuff-To-Read-When-I'm-90 file. When I'm 90 and I re-read this--well, okay, when I'm 90 and my great grandchildren read this to me because I'll be blind by then--I'm going to laugh and laugh at the misconception of my youth and at how 'old' I once perceived 40 to be. I'll also be laughing at the naked monkeys doing the laundry and the waffles I'm wearing on my feet because I'll be entirely senile and delusional . . . But at least I'll be laughing.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

All Time Favorite Joke . . .

. . . and just a wee bit off color ; )

One fine morning, the second grade Sunday school class was having a discussion about heaven when Susie raised her hand and asked, "What part of your body goes to heaven first?"

The teacher, not quite knowing how to answer that question, in turn asked the class, "Well children, what do you think? What part of your body does go to heaven first?"

Danny spoke up first, "I think it's your heart, because that's where Jesus lives."

Sally was next, "I think it's your mouth, because you speak all the wonderful prayers to God with your mouth."

Billy added his idea to the mix, "I think it's your feet."

Perplexed, the teacher asked him to elaborate, "Why do you think it's your feet, Billy?"

Billy explained, "Because the other day I peeked into my mother's room and she was lying on her bed with her feet up in the air.

"She was yelling, 'Oh God, I'm coming, I'm coming!'

"And she would have made it too . . .

"Except the mailman was holding her down."

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The End

I am sick. Some flu-ish invader. Bluh. Before I head back to bed for, like, however long . . . I am internally pressured to offer the following post. A pressure that I don't understand. I'm not terribly connected with this post. I find it pedestrian. Sorry. But I have this weird thing about finishing things that I've started. At least it's over now : ) After today, there will be no more mention of my jeans. Chocolate, however, (never straying far from my thoughts) may continue to make appearances.


"Jeans, can we maybe take a walk together? We need to talk."

"What do you mean, 'we need to talk'?"

"Well, you know, we've been together for a long time. We've certainly been through thick and thin together, that's for sure! heh . . . yeah . . . But, ummmmm, this is really hard for me to say . . . Jeans, it's like this: we've grown apart and I think it's time we begin to explore other options."

"What do you mean? I thought we were working on mending our relationship! What 'other options' are you talking about? Wait--is there someone else? Have you tried out a new pair of jeans?!"

"Ummm, well, kinda . . . I guess . . . "

"What?! When did this happen? Have you been shopping around?"

"It's not like that . . . "

"You mean I've been sitting here at home, waiting around for you, thinking you were doing all that working out for me and you've been . . . have you been . . . have you been 'inside' another pair of jeans?"

"Uh, it's just that . . . Oh Jeans, no, don't cry . . . come on now, don't let yourself come apart at the seams."

"Aren't I enough for you? Is it because I'm getting a little older and maybe I'm a little frayed at the edges? I know my complexion is a little faded, but I think I still look pretty good! Is it because I've got a few wrinkles? Because I'm not as fashionable as I used to be? Is it because I have some stretch marks? I didn't get those by myself, you know--it takes two to tango! I've given you all my support--what more could I have done for you?"

"Look, it's not you, it's me . . . "

" 'It's not you, it's me.' Are you kidding me? Who is it? Tell me! Is it someone I know? Is it True Religion? Is it Seven? It better not be Lucky!"

"No, Jeans, it's not like that. You and I weren't doing so well and I was out one day and saw this cute little pair . . . "

"Little? This cute "little" pair? Is it someone smaller than me!? You're dumping me for someone SMALLER?"

"Jeans . . . what can I say? The new pants and I just fit. We're a great pair. They're fun and new and exciting . . . "

"So, what, you're just going to use me up and toss me aside like an old rag? You'll come crawling back to me! I know you too well. You'll have your fun running around with "little cutie" but it won't be long and you'll find out how constricting someone smaller can be! You'll come to me, tail between your legs, begging me to take you back. And you know what? You can kiss my big blue ass!"

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Have a Euphemistic Day : )

My daughter, Beautiful, is a very funny girl. She has a wicked sense of humor that crops up when I least see it coming. On the outside, she is a sweet, pleasing, lovely, shy little thing. But on the inside, there is so much more going on!

Example: One day she caught me e-mailing Young Guy. With a hint of jealousy and a large measure of protection for her mother, she asked (rather, insisted) to read the e-mails. Guilty of carrying on a naughty flirtation with a man practically young enough to be my son, I refused to let her see our correspondence on the grounds that, "You know how Young Guy is, he's . . . 'playful.' " With a knowing look she quipped, "You mean he's foreplayful." Ouch.

Another fine example: In discussing details of the wedding she and her fiance are thinking about, I was trying to be generous to FT--a born sugar fiend. I started, "You know how just before the bride and groom depart for their honeymoon, people throw rice or flower petals? Well, for FT's sake, instead of throwing rice . . . " Knowing my true feelings about her true love, without the hesitation of thought, she cut me off, "What? Have them throw stones?" Again with the ouch!

But my favorite aspect of her mischievous expression is her propensity to invent alternatives to swear words. Beautiful has never been comfortable with, and never formed the habit of, punctuating her disgruntlement with profanity. Euphemisms, however, she has deemed perfectly acceptable.

It began years ago with my example. One day, desperately trying not to lose my cool in front of my innocent children, I vented my frustration by loudly exclaiming, "kerflugerhugen!" My kids were innocent. Not stupid. They knew exactly what I was saying.

I recall the first time I ever witnessed sweet, little Beautiful (at about age 11) brandishing about with a near curse. Some cooking mishap caused her to declare, "Oh dear!" Frankly, I was shocked. I had never heard her utter such strong language. I didn't know she had it in her. I was to learn much more!

Since that time, she has crafted many a creative option for the course language that best proclaims angry thoughts.

Winner for Most Frequently Used: Dermot. After hunky actor Dermot Mulroney. Doesn't his name just beg to be employed thusly?
  • Mostly used when sewing.
  • Used several times in a row when sewing 6 ballet costumes under a looming deadline.
  • Full name used when sewing 6 ballet costumes under a looming deadline and the sewing machine stages rebellion.
  • "Dermot F. Mulroney" used only during combined conditions of sewing 6 ballet costumes under looming deadline with rebellious machine and crazy-ass mother asking probing questions about questionable relationship with 'boyfriend'.

Winner for Funniest Fake Swear Word In a Children's Animated Movie: Schnitzel. First uttered by lovable but undersmart woodsman in "Hoodwinked."

  • Best when used while driving and talking on the phone and realizing you've missed your turn, "Oh schnitzel!"

Winner for Cleverest Bastardization of Everyday Word: Shtuff. Use in place of that other 'sh' beginning word.

  • Example: "Sorry, Mom, we can't share a ride, my car is too full of shtuff."
  • Particularly handy when describing less than optimal conditions, "Will this shtuffy day never end?!"

Winner for the One That Can Go Either Way: very, very sucky! This phrase came from the movie "Elf" and was enthusiastically spoken by Buddy as he discovered the joy of the mail room vacuum tubes. Buddy meant it in a sweetly innocent descriptive way. We use it to denote happy circumstances or angrifying events. We relish its multiuseitivity.

  • When shopping and finding a treasure that can't be lived without: oooooh, very, very sucky!
  • When being blamed by the responding police officer for a car accident that couldn't possibly have been Beautiful's fault based on evidence, eyewitness reports and all the laws of physics on God's green earth: Very, very sucky!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Winner for the One That Grandma Would be Decidedly Appalled At: elf you! I don't have to elaborate on this one, do I?

Just My Plain Old Favorite: someone should throw a rock. This one isn't exactly a swearing phrase, but is indisputably effective in summing up all that one feels after "one of those days." Equally effective for, in one simple epithet, encapsulating all that is wrong with MTV, mimes and Paris Hilton. Yes, someone should indeed throw a rock.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Walking a (Green) Mile in Someone Else's Shoes

Last year a friend told me about a couple from her church who had talked their late 20's daughter out of marrying her longtime sweetheart. He was a nice enough guy, but he was a loser. The kind of guy who hopped from job to job; who borrowed his girlfriend's car when his own junker broke down; who, from time to time, also borrowed his girlfriend's money to make it through the month.

Owing to their lifetime of experience, the girl's parents could see the handwriting on the wall. The handwriting their daughter either couldn't see or was willing to ignore for the sake of love. Nevertheless, the handwriting was absolute: their daughter was going to have a long life of drudgery, would never have a pot to piss in, would always have to struggle to make ends meet, would forever be unequally yoked, and would likely suffer any number of other tragic cliches.

They sat their daughter down, laid out their case and told her they would neither support her decision, nor pay for a wedding, if she chose to marry her sweetheart. Daughter cried. And prayed. And cried some more. Ultimately, Daughter decided mom and dad were right. She understood that mom and dad had the perspective, and the love for her, necessary to see the truth of the thing. Daughter broke up with Sweetheart.

As my friend told me this story, I thought to myself (in my defense, this was a whole year ago--back when I knew everything) that no matter how unhappy I was with a serious choice one of my grown children was making, I would never interfere to that degree. I would not tell my child who to marry or not marry. I couldn't conceive of being so manipulative as to hold my child's very wedding hostage to my judgement.

Did I mention that was a whole year ago?

Rewind: Many years ago my Aunt Bitchy and Uncle FuddyDud refused to attend their son's wedding. They strongly disapproved of the marriage. They boycotted the event on the grounds that attending would be tantamount to giving their blessing. A thing which was not going to happen.

The entire family looked down on Aunt Bitchy and Uncle FuddyDud for that decision. We were all aghast that these people couldn't lay aside their own mark-my-word egos long enough to show their son love without condition and to welcome the mother of their future grandchildren into their family.

All these years (and so much judgement of my own) later, I find myself empathizing with Aunt Bitchy and Uncle FuddyDud for the difficulty of the choice they faced. Further, I am dwelling in the land of the parents who would hold their daughter's wedding for ransom until she bent to their obviously superior understanding.

My unhappiness with Beautiful's choice of boyfriend (alright--fiance) is about more than jealousy. I have deeper concerns.

And so I am faced with a wedding dilemma of my own.

My first instinct was not to help pay for this wedding. Why fork out thousands of dollars for a ceremony that, in my esteemed opinion, is meaningless? After dismounting from that unusually high horse, I relented. Sort of. The last time Beautiful and I discussed it, I left it at, "If you wait a year, like our family therapist has suggested, maybe Dad and I will feel better about helping you pay for your wedding."

But what it really comes down to, whether I refuse to part with a single dime or whether I begrudgingly unhand a few bucks next year, is that I am attempting to foist my will upon my daughter and her intended. I am grasping for control at the only strings still attached to my beautiful marionette.

Aside from the issue of helping plan the nuptial event, I wrestle, as Aunt Bitchy and Uncle FuddyDud did, with whether I can, in good conscience, even attend my child's wedding. What if I choose not to go? Will she understand that it's because I cannot serve as witness to something I don't truly believe in? Will she realize that my presence, and my unmaskable feelings, would cast a pall over her party--besides ruining her wedding photos? Will she ever be able to forgive me? And what of the destruction I would be wreaking on any relationship that could otherwise have developed with my future son-in-law?

On the other hand, what if I choose to go? Is that equal to a blessing? Would it be a show of support for their relationship? Could it be interpreted as demonstrating my hope that things don't go as horrifyingly wrong as I suspect they could? Or would I just be telling my daughter that I love her, no matter what happens; that I am relinquishing my illegitimate control, and that I trust her to make adult decisions without my input.

In January, after 21 arduous years of trying to make it work, Aunt Bitchy and Uncle FuddyDud's son filed for divorce. To their credit, Aunt Bitchy and Uncle FuddyDud did welcome their daughter-in-law into their family. They publicly supported her and the marriage--in spite of the obvious cracks. As a result, their now ex daughter-in-law has trusted the grandchildren to their care until parental living arrangements can be sorted out. In spite of a contentious beginning, a relationship was forged that has transcended even divorce.

Oh, and the icing on the cake that is today's conundrum is this: in June there will be a lovely wedding for a girl and her sweetheart. A girl who had previously broken up with Sweetheart at her parents' behest. A girl who decided that she didn't care. She loves him. And she is marrying him. Her parents are paying for the wedding. And her parents will suck it up and attend the wedding and welcome the father of their future grandchildren into their family. And I, having walked a mile in their shoes, will make no judgement either way.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Verdana Speaks

This one is mostly an appeal to all the moms out there. Moms of grown daughters. Psycho moms of grown daughters.

I am unhappy with Beautiful's choice of boyfriend. (Incidentally, he is officially her fiance, not just boyfriend--but I get some smug, self-righteous sense of control by disdainfully referring to him as her 'boyfriend'.)

So, as I was saying, I am unhappy with Beautiful's choice of boyfriend. He's just so, well, he's . . . he's just so existent.

Beautiful and I had been sailing along smoothly, having a great life together, when he showed up and ruined everything.

Beautiful didn't get her driver's license until she was 18. She and I shared a vehicle until she was close to 19. We spent a lot of time together as a result of sharing rides for so many years.

Beautiful chose not to start dating until she was 18. With intricate work schedules and other social obligations, she and her friends didn't always have the chance to spend weekends together. That left Beautiful and me in each others' company much of the time. It was a beautiful thing. We became very close friends (in spite of my previous holier-than-thou attitude about misguided parents thinking they could be "friends" with their children.)

Beautiful and I are so much alike in so many ways that we understand each others' thought processes. It makes for some hysterical inside jokes. With Number One Son at college, Little Guy ever a ward of the neighborhood at large, and my sweet Mister usually away working, Beautiful and I depended heavily on just the two of us.

And then one day, he appeared. They met at the coffee shop where Beautiful works. Soon there were phone calls. Lots of really intrusive phone calls. Only, Beautiful didn't see it that way. She seemed to enjoy, and even revel in, this overabundance of meddlesome calls. While she and I were trying to watch important episodes of "So You Think You Can Dance" her phone would ring and it would be him. And instead of blowing the calls off with the mind to ring him back after the crucial outcome of our show (like she would have done with any of her other friends) she actually answered those calls. What was up with that? And for some reason, she was chatting and laughing happily with him.


Not me.

And if I called her when I knew she had time to kill between work and a dance class, suddenly, in the background, I could hear his voice. What was he doing there? Who invited him to interpose?

Soon, not only were they chatting on the phone and spending her break time together, they were together All. The. Time. They spent time at our house. They spent time at his house. They went out for dinners and movies and long drives and long walks. They went to the library together. They went to parks to picnic and read and talk together. How did this boy take over the role that used to belong to me? Usurper.

We were doing marvelously before Yoko came along and broke up the band. What could he possibly offer her that I wasn't already giving her?

So, fine, he's charming. And handsome. And he loves her. And she loves him. And he is encouraging about her dance and choreography hopes. And he's funny. And he's a big, affectionate teddy bear of a guy. And they emotionally support each other. And they want all the same things. And he sees all that is beautiful in her lovely soul. Whatever.

I don't see it. Do you? What could he possibly offer her that I wasn't already giving her?

I just want my friend back. All to myself, thank you very much. Blah, blah, blah . . . unnatural attachment . . . blah, blah, blah . . . cutting the apron strings . . . blah, blah, blah . . . Ed Gein . . . I just want my friend back. Without him.

Outside of staging a covert sabotage operation (and believe me--Verdana has put some serious thought into that angle!) I don't see this relationship ending any time soon. Damn.

I think I am going to have to learn to live with--and maybe even like--him, FT. (And I should probably let you all in on what FT stands for: it's the abbreviated form of Friend Thief. Or something.)

I can't be the only mom who finds herself irrationally jealous of her daughter's significant other, can I?


File this one under: Feelings I never dreamed I would encounter--and then I had grown children . . .

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Final Chapter: Part III of the Trilogy

As 2006 has drawn to a close, it seemed fitting that I should also bring to a close the legend of ButtFest ‘06. Besides being fitting, I knew that my readers (both of you) have been on the edge of your seats awaiting the outcome of the t-shirt drama. (You have been, right?)

When we last tuned in, I had paid a whole dollar at the Goodwill for a Cabbage Patch doll whose rump appeared to be the proper shape and size to create the perfect butt print—a butt print suitable for a t-shirt transfer. It is with heavy heart that I report, said Cabbage Patch buns just weren’t up to snuff.

After removing the baby’s clothes (and his legs,) smearing his little bum with paint and cradling the paper around it in order to get a print of the entire anatomy, it ended up looking less like a butt print and more like a Rorschach valentine. The little guy just couldn’t (or wouldn’t!) make it work for me. I call into question his work ethic.

Undaunted, I refused to give up the quest for a perfect buttocks reproduction. I searched my mind. It didn’t take long. I harkened back to my days of kindergarten art. Having no potatoes on hand, I tried sculpting an apple. A dismal failure. My crack was too wide and my buns too prominent. The print resembled a sci-fi landscape.

But an orange! What about an orange?! Wouldn’t the seamed sections of a peeled orange make a wonderfully butt-like design if painted and stamped? One would think so. One would be wrong. It sort of looked like . . . a painted and stamped peeled orange.

Running out of produce and ideas, I decided to ask for help. I turned to the only person in the house who has the kind of artistic talent I needed. I turned to my son-in-law to be.

"Ummmm, excuse me? FT? Do you think you could draw a butt print for me?" was the request at 1:00 a.m., two days before Christmas. He didn’t even flinch. Since becoming part of our family, FT has learned to accept many things. Evidently, my ‘special-ness’ is one of them. Quietly sitting with paper and pencil, he deftly sketched a fine specimen.

After playing around with the size and format of my son-in-law’s backside portrayal (and doing some judicious editing to keep the hiney from looking too hairy--I wouldn’t want to be distasteful about this after all) I finally achieved the look I was going for. The commemorative ButtFest ’06 t-shirts were all I ever hoped they would be.

J was clearly elated to be included in our exclusive society. Beautiful laughed just as hard reading the shirt as we had laughed all summer long. I could not have asked for a better reception to my gifts. Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves, my girls wear their butts on their chests. And proudly, at that.