Saturday, December 15, 2012

Painful Truths

It's Christmastime, it's time for me come clean about a few things.  There are some things no one, not even my best friends and family.  I have hidden my true self from the world for far too long and I feel the time is now to reveal all.  I hope we can still be friends after you have seen the true me.

I truly love glitter and sparkle.  If I could decorate my entire house in the pretty sparklies of Christmastime, I believe I would. I love nothing more than sitting in dark room, lit only by the lights on the tree and watch the tinsel twinkle, the glittery ornaments sparkle in the low light.  My sister has referred to glitter as "the herpes of craft supplies" and she is right, glitter spilled is never truly gone.  You will find it months later, right there in the middle of everything, even though you have cleaned the defiled space any number of times, it reappears. I don't wear glittery sweaters, I don't paint into on my nails or use glitter eyeshadows, but I will shamelessly bedeck my halls with glitter.

The other shameful admission I must make here is this: I am not even slightly fond of most Christmas cookies. I don't bake them and I am not fond of eating them.  I am perhaps one of the only people who doesn't gain weight over Christmas through no effort on my part.  I appreciate the time and effort that goes into the production of the cookies, but I'd rather have just about anything else.  My father makes a huge batch of spicy meatballs every year for their Christmas party and there are always the first thing to run out. I think the cookies are pretty and all, but unless they're chocolate chip, I don't know why people even bother. Maybe the same plates of cookies should just be preserved year to year and put out every Christmas.

There they are, my secrets laid bare for the world to see.  I hope we're still friends.

On a related note, I finished my shopping today and I would like to put a few thoughts out there.  We choose to go to major centers of shopping in the weeks and days before Christmas so I think a few things need to be addressed.  We're all in the same boat, so let's treat each other like comrades in arms, weatherers of the same storm, passengers in the same lifeboat.  There's no need for rudeness, if you bump into someone you should still say "excuse me".  Letting another car into the line of cars ahead of you will not disrupt the space/time continuum, it will generally earn you a wave and a smile.  Even just the appearance of a good mood with lighten the day of others, smile at the people around you and see what happens.  Go into these remaining shopping days before Christmas with a smile on your face and a song in your heart and the "we're all in this together" mindset and you'll have a hell of a lot more fun.  Buy something weird, just for you, that makes you giggle, it eases the pain of spending a crapton of money on the ungrateful bastards you have to shop for every year!  I bought myself a glitter encrusted bird nest, you should get one.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Getting It Together

It has been quite a gap between posts, my apologies.  I try hard to keep the tone light and my posts non political, I found that difficult to do this past election cycle so I guess it was easier to not post. 
Speaking as a world citizen and not as a Republican or a Democrat, I have pretty much had it with our political system.  Grown ups, professionals, the would be leaders of our country behaving like middle schoolers.  I refuse to believe these people don't see what we, the people they are hoping will vote for them, see.  There is no room for compromise on either side, God forbid someone from one side be seen talking to or working with the enemy and no one is allowed to be moderate anymore.  When we were in school, we occasionally had to do school projects as a team, many times we would get paired up with someone we didn't necessarily get along with.  What did we do?  Sucked it up and carried on because there was work to do.  Why is it we got that lesson in the fourth grade and the leaders of our country can't manage to apply the same tactics to running the country?  I think super PACs and billionaire patrons should be banned and political ads completely eliminated.  I like the way Venezuela runs campaigns.  No politicians can buy TV or radio time, each candidate gets 30 minutes on all networks twice a week to plead their case, take callers, tap dance, read the phone book, whatever.  This is the time they have and no one can buy more.  I love the idea as much as I loathe commercials. I compare campaigns to job interviews, would you ever, in a million years, walk into an interview and say to the interviewer "You know that guy who was just in here?  He's a piece of crap and I'll tell you why." How likely are you to get that job?  How about you go in and tell them why you're wonderful and the best person for the job?  Wait, that's exactly what we do out here in the real world.  Why do we let the people who want to make laws and effect our lives in long lasting ways get away with this behavior if it's something we'd never do or tolerate in our own lives?  When did this become okay?  I think an appropriate rule of thumb for politicians should be "If we wouldn't allow our third graders to get away with it, we can't let our politicians."

If we all made a pact to only vote for the best behaved candidates, I wonder who would be left to run things?  Rational and reasonable people?  Do you think they'd get anything done?  I wonder...

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Just Say It, Already

I never tolerated passive aggressive crap very well.  I am much more of a "say it and get it off your chest" kind of gal.  Don't make me try to draw conclusions and interpret silences when you're mad at me, just toss it out there and we'll go.  I have never said "It's fine." when I'm pissed off.  If I'm not happy with you, you're going to know because it's not a lot of fun to be mad and not have the culprit paying for it.  If I'm really mad at you, you should be afraid, not trying to figure out if you're the one I'm mad at, how is that any fun at all?  You're gonna know, you're gonna pay and we'll either move on or I'll burn down your house.
I have been dealing with one of the most passive aggressive people on the planet for the past three years.  We both work for the same establishment, but thankfully, never during the same hours or even in the same area.  However, three years ago, I did something so unspeakably traitorous that this woman that had been my best friend for several years now goes out of her way to try and piss me off.  Good thing I am terribly zen, and mellow, and unflappable...and pretty.  A sweater I kept in an unused drawer was the the first thing that drew her fury.  Every day, I would come into the store and the sweater was removed from the drawer and put on a shelf under the counter.  The drawer was empty, still unused, but the sweater was not allowed to be there.  I would throw it back into the drawer, as I had asked those in charge if it was okay, but every day it would move.  Noted I had written to the part time employees, informing them of issues or changes or new items would disappear to be replaced by the exact same words on a note in the passive aggressor's writing.  Far from pissing me off, it led to a photo essay and a lot of eye rolling.  Mission NOT accomplished.  Unless you are REALLY skilled, this is usually the end result of not being direct.  People will either not get it, laugh at you, or simply roll their eyes and go about their business completely undisturbed by your actions.

Facebook has allowed passive aggressiveness to soar to never before imagined heights, I'm talking I can see my house from up here heights.  There are absolute passive aggressive virtuosos out there, these are masters of the art form and we, the lesser beings, should bow before them.  I have broken them into categories, specialties, if you will:

1. The Attention Seeker:
This is usually the first step in the life cycle of the passive aggressor, simple statements posted to see if anyone is paying attention, no specific target in mind.  Examples include:

"Borrrrredddddd"   "Don't ask."  "Hating my life right now."  "At least my cat loves me." or the nice and subtle: "LMS (like my status) and I'll tell you (insert something banal here)"

These pleas for attention are as transparent as glass and less useful.  The perpetrators might as well post the more honest: "LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOK AT MEEEEE!"

2. The General:
The people that post broad and sweeping statements that everyone knows point to one specific person.

"People suck!"   "People should know when to shut the ** up!"  "Why do people have to be like that?"

Here's the thing, they know who they are, you know who they are so why are you tap dancing? 

3. The Detailer

These are the ones that post every detail about the situation that is causing them discomfort except for the name of the ONE person they're angry at:

"Well, I guess I know who I can trust and who I know who's going to (sleep with my boyfriend/talk behind my back/steal my best friend/burn down my house/kill my dog) and they better watch their ugly blond face when walking down Elm street where they live."

 "I'm so done with crying over you and you break my heart every day and I loved you more than anyone else."

If you're going to provide the world at large with that level of detail, you might as well go all the way and identify this evildoer so we can ALL protect ourselves!

4.  The Lyricist

Pretty self explanatory, posting song lyrics that are the only way to adequately describe the level of paaaaaaaain they're going through.  99% of the time, these are Taylor Swift songs.  I'm not even going to post examples, we all have seen far too many.

I have been occasionally guilty, but I don't even register on the scale.  I am a rank amateur when compared to the expert slicing and dicing I see around me.  I can hardly wait until these people become parents and take it to the next level.   I have taught my children this simple mantra:  If you're going to say it or do it, you better be prepared to own it.  If you can't back it up and defend what you're saying, don't say it.  If you aren't willing to say it out loud, don't post it online.  If you're not ready to confront the people making you angry or sad, do not put this passive aggressive shit on the internet.  You make yourself look petty and small. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sister Mary Anunciata Does Not Approve

School is very different than it used to be.  I grew up in the 1970s and went to Catholic school for ten years.  Things have changed a bit, teachers nowadays can't even pat a kid on the back for a job well done.  Back in the day, they could give you a smack upside the head if they felt it was warranted.  Today, teachers don't dare with even some basic levels of discipline for fear of lawsuits from screeching parents (most of whom went to the same schools I did!).  I called my eldest son's school and specifically told his teachers to take his cell phone away if they caught him using it during class.  The fact that I had to give them permission to do so was shocking to me and the fact that only ONE of them actually did it blows my mind.  The argument from parents that they must be able to get in touch with their precious at all times is stupid, unreasonable and just plain old rude.  Once upon a not that long ago, if a parent needed to get a message to their kid during school, they called the office and said child was summoned to receive it from Sister Ellen at the desk.  Class was only interrupted for true emergencies or major breaking news.  The phones in the classrooms only connected to the principal's office and if you were the subject of a conversation over one of those phones, you were in deep shit twice over.  I was completely nonplussed when I called my son's school and asked to leave a message for one of his teachers about something rather small and was rung through to the room.  More surprising was when the teacher answered...DURING class.  The nuns would have had none of that, trust me.
In Catholic school, the nuns were it.  The boss.  The direct line to God and you better keep it in line or you KNEW they would be telling the big man about your every infraction.  The nuns were fascinating to us, we were never sure if they were entirely human (and I still have doubts about a few of them).  I remember being completely blown away when I saw Sister Mary Clarence coming out of the bathroom stall next to me.  Dear Lord help me, I heard her PEE!  I had no idea they did that, despite having a nun in my very own family.  While my family was a bit more progressive than many, we still grew up with the full Catholic experience.  The uniforms that flattered no one, the all school masses, confession once a week and the nuns that made up the vast majority of our teaching pool.  These women were remarkable, they could be the sweetest, most kind-hearted creatures on the planet but could also wield a yardstick with the elegance of a samurai.  They would join in a kickball game on the playground and expertly peg the back of an out of turn talker's head with a blackboard eraser at 25 feet, hitting their target effortlessly every time.

They broke us in easy, first grade you either got Sister Stella (sweet, soft spoken and remarkably tall for a woman in sensible shoes) or Sister Marie Noelle (not much taller than most of us and had taught many of our parents in first grade).  First grade lulled us into a false sense of security, we thought they were ALL going to be like these two dear angels.  We were terribly wrong.  I don't remember who I had for second or third grade, I think they were both lay teachers and therefore, left no huge impression on me.  Third grade was memorable only for my being sent to the principal's office for asking if Holy Communion made us cannibals.  My reasoning being this, at the same time we were being taught about transubstantiation (the bread and wine BECOME the body and blood upon being blessed), we were also learning about the cannibalistic rituals of the Aztec, I think.  I became quite concerned, not only for myself, but for all our almighty souls as we had been assured these horrible man eating peoples had not only died out, but had all gone to Hell.  Can you see where MY eight year old brain went just then?  I asked the question, was roundly scolded and sent to the office to discuss this with the principal.  My mother was called and I was sure I was going to be thrown out to be educated no further.  My mother's response was typical for her, "You know, I never thought of that...what's the answer?"  The principal simply gave me a somewhat distracted smile and let me hang out in his office reading a book until lunchtime.  I never did get an answer.  These days, that would have been the start of some sort of intensive therapy and probably long term medication.
 Fourth grade introduced us to Sister Eunice, always angry and barely able to completely contain her rage.  You knew all hell was about to break loose when she'd start to whisper, the class would slowly start to quiet down as her voice rose to the glorious, screeching crescendo of  "YOU KIDS ARE MAKING ME SO CRAZYYYYY!!!!" This scene, both awe inspiring and inevitable, would be repeated dozens of times throughout my fourth grade year.  I occasionally felt sorry for poor Sister Eunice, having such a low tolerance for any sort of childish behavior and yet, here she was, teaching fourth grade.  I always had the vague idea that she was probably being punished for something. 
Sixth grade, we started moving from room to room and had different teachers for different subjects, it was all very exciting until we met HER.  The nemesis of almost all except the few privileged and chosen among us, the school patrol.  Miss Brink.  The name alone still causes an involuntary shiver down the backs of many.  Miss Brink, it was rumored she had been a nun but had been tossed out (or had left on her own, more likely) for some horrible infraction we could never even imagine.  Miss Brink was responsible for both our religion and math classes that year. I don't think someone was thinking clearly in assigning this horror of a teacher our confirmation classes.  This woman was a cross between Jabba the Hutt and a demonic drill sergeant.  Short, blond and angry at something none of us could even fully define.  Her methods were, unconventional, at best, borderline illegal at worst.  This woman was legendary, the tales so embroidered over time and memory that I think some truths may have blurred over time.  Her classes were met with a mixture of dread and frightened anticipation, we at never seen anything like her.  A teacher who hated teaching, seemed to hate us and really taught us very little of worth.  To this day, I have retained nothing on mathematically dealing with fractions.  She had two methods of dealing with gum chewers, both probably punishable by jail time these days. The offender would either have to roll the gum around the perimeter of the room with their nose, then chew it again. The alternative was depositing your gum into a jar of ABC gum she kept in her desk, select a piece from the jar and chew away.  She delighted in grossing people out by taking out her false teeth during class, counting on the squeamish among us to "Eeeeeew" appropriately and at the designated time.  For extra points, she'd occasionally set then on some hapless student's desk during a test.  Flicking them off the desk with your pencil was worth another trip to the principal's office.  For a treat, she'd suspend all pretend teaching and line the entire class up against the back wall of the room and  blast a whiffle ball at us for "fun".  This was no ordinary whiffle ball, this thing had started life as a regulation whiffle ball, but had, over the years, been cracked, smashed and broken and then fixed with layer upon layer of masking tape until it resembled a good sized beige grapefruit.  At some point, the ball became too much for a requisite plastic bat that comes with whiffle ball sets, so she switched to aluminum,  Give that image a minute to sink in: thirty sixth graders apprehensively and with varying degrees of terror on their faces, lined up against a blackboard, huddled together for protection like travelers stranded in a blizzard, the bodies of their fellows their only protection against the battering storm.  If you got hit, you had to sit down, most of us tried to get taken out early in the game as she seemed to grow enraged the longer people remained standing.  Her determination to nail that speeding ball of masking taped death at the stragglers was a sight to behold.  The longer those foolhardy few lasted, the redder her face became, contorted with renewed determination to bring those bold enough to dodge her missiles.  Don't bother trying to hide in the coatroom, that usually ended up like some sort of hallway of death, the ball ricocheting off the walls, taking out any foolish enough to attempt refuge there.  This was a "Fun" break from, you know, non violence and constructive learning.  You see why I retained nothing? And my mother was afraid to send us to public school because of the violence.
While I'm not recommending eraser throwing and whiffle balls of certain death in today's classrooms, I'm thinking a little of that would make a hell of an impression.

Enjoy the following:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

You're a Dork

I like being a dork, there is a lot of freedom that comes with it.  You can enjoy things wholeheartedly and without any worry that you won't seem cool.  Cool is dull, cool is boring, cool is just, cold, uninvolved. We were all complete dorks once upon a time, some of us held onto that enthusiasm, but so many of us let it fall by the wayside.  I love encountering fellow dorks, I get pleasure from their (and my) complete excitement over things that may seem mundane.  Yesterday, a guy came into the store and spent some time browsing for his beer, the whole time humming the theme from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (my cousin Joy was hoping he bought Rolling Rock, I think I would have peed).  I respect this man for his abandon, I think he was fully aware he was audible to the rest of the world, he wasn't obnoxious about it, he just did his thing. 
My kids roll their eyes and try to act all cool and long suffering when I get happy about an awesome song coming on at the grocery store (the music is getting SO good there!) but in the end, they're grooving right along with me.  We hoot and holler when a deliciously horrible movie comes on and watch it with unadulterated joy.  We relish silliness, we adore goofiness and we enjoy absurdity.  It's too bad that kind of thinking gets lost so easily as we get older.
I got to spend time with my family last week, the "Other Summers" cousins are the definition of what I'm talking about.  I had forgotten, over the years, how much I loved hanging out with that side of the family.  They are loud, raucous and an absolute joy to be around.  To be able to laugh with people who get you is one of life's greatest pleasures. My family thrives on the absurd, we appreciate nothing more than a straight line, and we never let one pass.  Woe betide you if you can't find the humor in almost everything.  We have, for years, had a running family joke about nubby plywood or knotty pine coffins.  Any time we have had to shop for a funeral, someone is compelled to make a comment about knotty pine.  My family are the ones who, as a group, giggle at the wrong time.  The nuns hated us as kids in church, we usually ended up being hauled out to sit next to Sister Eunice for the rest of the school year.  While we know how to behave perfectly in public, we simply choose to put a toe over the line and see who we can drag along with us.  There's usually someone next to us willing to make the jump. 
Every nine year old is a complete dork.  The reckless abandon to enjoy absolutely everything.  Everything is cool, everything awesome and you're allowed to be a dork.  I'm not sure when it's decided we have to outgrow that and leave it behind, but to be able to hang on to some of that is a gift.

I love being a dork, I married a dork, I surround myself with dorks because they're the most fun. I even like the word.  Say it out loud "dork".  It's fun to say.  Don't be so cool...JOIN US!  Splash in puddles, lick the cake batter off the beaters, dance in the aisle of the supermarket.  Stop being so blase for a bit and be a dork.  It's going to be AWESOME!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Hard Part

I normally keep the tone of my blog light, occasionally straying into more serious territory.  Today is one one of those times. I lost someone special this week, my cousin Paul.  He had struggled with depression for many years and this week, it won. 

Paul was five years older than me, the oldest of the grandchildren on my father's side of the family.  To us, the houseful of girl cousins, Paul and his brothers were exotic, exciting creatures.  They were the brothers we never had, the first exposure to boy behaviors and cool boy stuff.  We had Barbies, they had Hot Wheels with miles of orange track in the basement.  We were jealous of their sister, Peggy, to have all those boys around...I think she spent any number of years disagreeing.  These boys were funny, loud, gross and endlessly fascinating to me and my sisters. We spent holidays together, countless summer days and evenings, we would plead with our parents to let us spend the night, we reveled in the attention of these strange alien life forms. 

Of all those boys, none were as fascinating to me as the oldest, Paul.  He was the center of the fun, handsome and hilariously funny, he looked just like Donny Osmond to me (an opinion he nether shared nor appreciated!) and I thought the world revolved around him.  Paul was my first big crush and I would follow him like a puppy.  I'm sure his idea of a good time at 13 years old was having his eight year old cousin dogging his every move.  He was endlessly patient and unfailingly kind to what I imagine was an annoying little tag along.

Family events were noisy and hilarious as we grew up, Paul and Andy, the next oldest of the boys, were our own family comedy duo.  They were Lewis and Martin without the smoking jackets or the Smothers Brothers without the snark.  Quick witted and clever, if one didn't have a smartass comment to fit the moment, the other usually did.  A viewing of old family movies featuring my two older sisters wearing horrible early 70s high-waisted dresses prompted comments of  "They were so poor they had to sell their torsos."  I have never been able to look at "empire waist" dresses without giggling madly since that time.I cannot watch or even refer to "Mr. Hulot's Holiday" without thinking of him.

I come from a family of really smart people, I mean REALLY smart people.  Not the easiest environment for someone who was a less than stellar student (me).  Paul got it, he and I used to refer to each other as "the other C student in the family".  It was reassuring to me that the star of the family was also my ally in the ongoing grade war with the rest of the clan.  It was not easy when even our respective younger siblings outshone us academically, but having someone who knew what it was like made it a damn sight easier.

 It was the 80s...shut up.

He died this week, but the depression took him away from us quite some time ago.  My family is less without him, I lost my companion in our sea of smarty-pants relatives.

He married a gorgeous and wonderful woman who stuck in there when a lot of people would have cut their losses and run for safety.  They had two of the most wonderful kids I have ever met.  Both Madeline and Joe inherited Paul's magnetism.  You WANT them to like you because they are so cool, and funny, and charming and you're cooler because you get to hang around them.  That's how he was, you felt lucky that you got to be around him. 

We didn't see each much of each these past few years because he didn't want anyone to see that he was a failure, that's what he thought of himself. This is the part I will never understand.  I look at his wife, his kids, the overwhelming love his family has for him and see success, not failure.  I wish I could have told him that.  I wish I could have made him see himself through our eyes, not his eyes, the eyes that only saw the illness. 

I loved him and I will miss him forever.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hate To Break It To You...

There are a number of things people insist on doing, wearing or being that they seem to think is the epitome of cool, but really just aren't.  I offer these insights lovingly, constructively and in the most generous of ways:

#1 The Car
It's a car, people. It is transportation from point A to point B.  What matters most is if it runs.  Some of my favorites include the mini van that used to ba-dum its way past the house with the giant (aftermarket, obviously) speakers and sub woofer loud enough to rattle the china in the house.  Dude, you're driving a minivan, you have lost any cool you might have had.  There's the Ford Taurus with the elaborate flame paint job, I love this car so much.  I think the owner is either the most completely ironic person or the most clueless, either way, I am fully amused.  My latest, and least loved, is the yet unidentified vehicle that has take to roaring past the house through the night and into the wee hours of the morning.  I beg someone to explain the point of dual exhaust pipes accompanied by overly loud muffler (I use that word loosely).  I loathe this display of macho lunk-headedness.  It does not turn us on, it does not make us think you're the manliest man on the planet, it does not make us want to pick you for a mate.  It makes us long for a set of stop strips in the middle of our street.

What you think we see:

What we really see:

#2 The Tattoo

I like tattoos, I have one myself, a reward to me for quitting smoking.  It was relevance and means something to me.  I am all for expressing oneself, I post my thoughts here on a regular basis.  That I do not understand is the prevalence of the outrageously pornographic, grotesque or downright bizarre  imagery permanently adorning one's body.  It doesn't really matter if it's under your shirt line, on your butt or your unmentionable region, at some point, you're going to get naked for someone and will have some 'splaining to do.  Why, why, WHY did you think a wheel of cheese dripping blood and gore from the dismembered corpse of a unicorn was an image to carry with you for the rest of your life?  What makes one think a badly done portrait of the Golden Girls was going to be a turn on...EVER?

And why does Bea Arthur have red, demonlike eyes!?!?!?

#3 The Make Up

KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.  Remember this, learn it, know it, live it.  A little goes a long way.  I am including fake tans and overdone hair in this category as well.  If your eyeshadow can be seen from space, tone it down.  If you can't yawn without causing cracks in your foundation, time to remove a few layers.  If you cannot sit in a car without your hair touching the ceiling and you are not a professional basketball player, you need to lay off the AquaNet.  If you are unrecognizable without your makeup, spend less time on your makeup...seriously!

It only works for her:

Remember, a little goes a loooooong way!  What you see and the rest of us see might be polar opposites!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Siege

It's summer, the lovely weather, the long days, the evenings spent in the backyard enjoying the deck with a glass of wine and quiet conversation.  The sounds of summer drifting in the wide open windows, the chirp of birds, the children's laughter, the INCESSANT BARKING of the dog next door.
Don't get me wrong, I like dogs.  I am not a dog person, we don't have a dog, but I generally like them.  I am not terribly bothered by a slobbery greeting from a dog, I will pet and play and sit on the floor to give tummy rubs, I like dogs just fine.  I have developed a burning, healthy hate for all the dogs that live adjacent to me.  Imagine:  A Chihuahua to the south that is tied out at the farthest end of the yard to tangle helplessly in the unused swingset to bark for hours at a time, usually starting at about 6am.  Did you know that dogs do not lose their voices from shouting like we humans do?  True story.  I have no respect for dogs that bounce when they bark, it's not normal. Next we have the two large dogs of undefined origin to the east, across the street.  The allotted time for them to lose their minds and bark like lunatics is approximately 11pm until I call the cops.  My bedroom faces east.  It's like having a pair of car alarms going off in unison...all night.  Finally, we have the latest addition to the canine chorus from hell, the black Lab puppy to the north.  This one takes the day shift, the ALL day shift.  The record being a nearly twelve hour barkfest one Sunday.
It was supposed to be something like heaven, I had looked forward to this day for ages.  My beloved and the youngest son were going to be gone all day for gun safety field day, eldest son was working all day and I was going to have the house to myself.  My dreams included sitting in the sunshine out on the deck, reading to my heart's content; perhaps a nap on the couch with a breeze wafting in from the open sliding door, I was even planning a bit of basking in a sunbeam with the cats.

Alas, none of these moments came to pass.

  10:30am: I  bring my glass of orange juice and my book out to the deck, the late morning warming slowly and the breeze just enough to keep the bugs away.  I sigh happily and open the book I've been trying for weeks to find the time to read.  Four pages in, it begins.  The puppy mama decides to leave for a while, tying the dog up in the backyard with a scant amount of food and water and leaving with a cheery wave. The dog starts barking as soon as she pivots to walk away.

11:15am: Less than a chapter read, fly has drowned in my orange juice, getting one of those headaches that surely indicate an impending tumor.  I give up the idea of reading on the deck and head inside. Start some laundry, empty the dishwasher, clean out the fridge and take a shower.

12:30pm:  Make a nice lunch (chicken pasta salad, croissant and lemonade) and optimistically head to the deck to enjoy my girly meal and the sunshine.  Immediately about face and eat in the dining room instead.  Dog has logged 2 straight hours of barking.

1:15pm: Lunch and magazine finished, laundry loads switched, dog can't POSSIBLY still be barking after this long.  Open sliding door to do some reconnaissance, OMG, it's quiet!!!  Grab book and water bottle and prepare to...SHIT!  Sound of chair moving has roused the alarm instinct of puppy and it begins a new frenzy of yaps, growls and barking.  And now the Chihuahua has decided its role as "companion" animal dictates a moral imperative to join in.  I duck back into the house before the rest of the Greek chorus can join in. Now I'm all crabby.

1:35pm: Screw this, I'm taking a nap.

1:40pm: Shut door and windows in the family room in an attempt for some quiet.

1:44pm:  Turn on stereo to drown out residual noise.

1:48pm: I hate this song.

1:52pm: LOVE this song!

1:59pm: I'm not sleeping yet.

2:03pm: I'm bored.

2:04pm: Still bored.  Nap's not happening. Still crabby...crabbier yet .Walk over, give damn dog water.

2:10pm: Try to watch bad movie on Sci-Fi channel.

2:15pm: It hot in here, open window.  Listen for dread canine sounds...there it is. Close window, turn on fan.

4:00pm: Movie done (MegaGator vs Sharkasaurus), dog has GOT to be in exhaustion induced coma by now.  Slowly and quietly open sliding door, I press my ear to the small opening and listen...nothing!  Gather the remnants of my afternoon plan, find the iPod and stealthily make my way to my chair, the dream is still intact.  I put the earbuds in and select a favorite album, open my book, hit play...damn, only one bud works.  No matter, it's nice and peaceful.  Happysigh!

4:07pm:  ACHOO!

4:07:03pm: BARKBARKVARKBARKBARKBARKBARK! (repeat X googol)

4:08pm: Scowl, stomp, mutter, slam door.  It's definitely a tumor.

4:19pm: Mutter, swear, curse, threaten violence, scowl, mutter some more.

4:30pm: Beloved and youngest return home, they had a great day...jerks.  Beloved asks why I'm sitting here with all the doors and windows shut.  Opens them.  Shuts them immediately from look on my face. 6 hours logged, two small breaks.

4:40pm: Relay events of the day to my beloved, wait for sympathy and commiseration.  He starts to laugh.

4:42pm: Beloved looking for icepack, I'm still crabby.

5:30pm: Eldest home from work.  Relay events, stop when he starts to laugh.

5:33pm: Eldest takes ice pack from his father. Youngest wisely refrains from adding anything to discussion.

7:00pm: Dinner eaten, dishes done, family heads to backyard to burn stuff in firepit.  Dog begins to bark hysterically, I have another glass of wine.

8:30pm: Stuff burned, dog still hysterical, there is not enough wine in the house. Time logged: 10 hours.

9:15pm: Puppy mama finally returns home, dog brought in the house.

11:30pm: I've had it.  Going to bed, tumor is going to explode soon.

11:42pm:  What's that noise?

Oh yeah, forgot about them.

Monday evening: Puppy left outside while they're gone again.  They positioned their new, expensive, large inflatable pool too close to the tie-out.  Puppy has decided pool is an enemy invader and reacts accordingly.  Beloved and I debate rescue of pool and decide against it.  Puppy:1   Pool: Eaten   Me: Mwahahahaha!

Friday, June 22, 2012

And Now, For The News

I love the media, I am a news junkie of the first water.  I compulsively watch the various news channels, I check several websites on a more than once daily basis, I still read magazines and newspapers.  I MUST KNOW THINGS!  The idea of not being "in the know" is an anathema to me, I can't stand it.  I become crabby and out of sorts when too much time passes without an update of some sort, there is something going on somewhere and I have to know about it.  I'm not talking gossip and banality, I'm talking world events, life changers, that kind of thing. I will happily admit that some of my biggest crushes are news guys.

 Yes, I consider Jon Stewart a news guy, watch his show sometime, it is not only hilariously funny, but really quite informative.
 Brian Williams, solid as a rock, funny as hell when he's not behind the news desk.
Anderson Cooper's just so darn cute!

In all my obsessive news watching, I have noticed trends, both good and bad, in news coverage.  I miss the days when news organizations simply stated the facts, no spin, no creative editing, no larger agenda.  They existed only to pass on information, who, what, where, when and how.  Opinion and conjecture were only allowed on certain, clearly labeled OP-ED pages or were preceded by an announcement that the following was opinion.  We could watch or read and take it with a grain of salt or not, opinion was NEVER presented as part of the factual information, that was not only frowned upon, but punished. I think print media is still better about this sort of thing than broadcast media, simply because the print folks have to time read and reread before sending their product out into the world.  Editors are still there to proofread, correct and verify, not to create something out of nothing.
I resent the intrusion of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt into the CBS evening news, they belong on E!, or maybe MTV, not alongside a story about the latest economic downturn.  The fact that ANY legitimate news outlet spends any time at all reporting on the activities of the Kardashians makes me fear for the future. 
The advent of the 24 hour news channels has certainly helped us to this place.  How does a broadcast company keep viewers interested all the time?  What can they do that makes staying up until two o'clock on a weeknight worth it? YouTube videos.  YouTube has become a source for not only comedic clip shows, but for traditional news organizations as well.  Blurry cell phone images become "IReports", homemade stunt clips become cautionary tales and anyone who can manage to go viral becomes a celebrity for a few days.  Where did reporters go?  Once upon a time, these media hounds had access none of the rest of us did and we waited to find out from them, the professionals.  We were presented with well shot, well written, clear and concise facts.  Who, what, where, when and how. Now we have blurry, jiggly, unintelligible crap that someone has to highlight and interpret for us.  Cameramen, I love and miss you.
If you have read my previous posts, you know I am having a passionate, long term affair with the language that shows no sign of slowing down.  I love it enough to overlook its quirks and foibles, I lament its weakening with age, I dread the eventual death of sentence structure and written form.  I refuse to Twit, Tweet, whatever.  I resent the limits of 160 characters to express an idea.  Twitter and the like have added to the "sound bite" culture.  They prove that ADD is no longer a medical condition, it seems to have become a lifestyle. If something takes more than twenty seconds to read, it's not worth it?  Oh my Twits, you have no idea what you're missing.
I love headlines.  They are designed to catch you, draw you in and make you read and explore further.  That's the difference, a headline makes you want more, a Tweet gives you little more than a headline. My favorite headline this week,

 "Jackson Brothers To Tour Without Michael"

all I could think was, "Good LORD, I hope so!"

I cannot tell a lie, it DID titillate me, and I did go on to read the story.  Well played, headline writer, well played.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Not My Job

Over the years, I have held many jobs, only a few of which I was actually prepared or educated for, the rest I just kind of fell into and they stuck for a while.  I have developed a rather lengthy list of jobs I firmly believe I would suck at.

#1 Lawyer

My eldest says the sole reason for this job making the list is because I would more than likely refer to the wrong person as a jackass.  I am far too committed  to the idea of personal responsibility to ever be a party to "getting someone off", and get your minds out of the gutter there.

#2 Doctor or Nurse

I don't have the patience for that amount of school, for starters.  I am not entirely squicked out by blood and gore, but I avoid it whenever I can.

#3 Politician

While I am politically active and aware, I choose not to run for office for basically the same reasons lawyering is not for me.  I cannot stand the latest obsession by our governing bodies to legislate the crap out of everything.  Seriously, outlawing the Big Gulp?  There are NO better ways to spend our time and tax dollars?  I think I'd end up hitting people.

#4 Repairman Of Any Sort

It just wouldn't end well.

Is every printer I buy stupid or is it just me? :  wedding Office Space Printer

#5  Therapist

I would be a big meanie of a therapist, the "put on your big girl panties and deal with it" type.  I doubt I'd have many return clients.

#6  Spy

Mainly because I'm a terrible liar.

#7 God

I think I'd be a wrathful, old Testament type deity and that just wouldn't end well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

They Eat Their Own

As a woman of a certain age, I have acquired knowledge, gathered experiences and gained both wit and wisdom.  It's not all red hats, convertibles and being outrageously fabulous, it's a sense of who we were and who we are.  A feeling of ownership over our lives.  We can see ourselves with a clarity we never though possible until we got here.  By this age, we have probably accepted ourselves, warts and all.  There is a measure of peace that comes with both facing and embracing our past selves, realizing and accepting what we were and thanking heaven for the lifetime of change that came.  One thing I never have and likely never will understand is why we women must be such horrible creatures for several years before, know, human.  There is no life form on this planet as vicious and inherently malevolent as the junior high  and high school girl.

We don't start as the embodiment of pure, unmitigated evil, but we manage to become  perfect killing machines by the age of twelve.  We have no formal training, there is no guidebook, but somehow, we simply know which arrows to let fly and they always, ALWAYS find their target.  How do we do that?  Why do we do that?  Hundreds, perhaps thousands of books have been written on the subject and not one has come up with a viable solution.  Maybe the solution does not lie in psychology, maybe we just need a 'Hunger Games' type event that consists only of mean girls. I doubt that would be terribly effective as it would be over far too quickly for any lasting lessons to be taught.  It's not so much the nastiness that fascinates me, it's the fact that we somehow come out the other side as loving, dedicated and fiercely loyal friends to each other.  Why can't we skip the bullshit and get on to the good parts?

As the mother of boys, I have to acknowledge a certain bias at this point.  Boys don't deal with even half of this crap.  We deride them as being lesser, simpler, emotionally two dimensional beings, but they certainly get through middle school with a metric shit ton less drama.  They tend to shrug things off, not sweat the small stuff and can't manage to blow things out of proportion.  If they're pissed off at someone, it lasts a day or two and then we return to normal programming. Is that the sign of a lesser being or do they know something we don't know?

We go from playing dress up and drawing butterflies on each others' arms to vicious texts and nasty Facebook posts in a matter of just a few years.  Girls who were inseparable through elementary school can no longer be seen together come seventh grade.  What breaks?  What changes so drastically that we can't even smile and say hi to the girl who once shared our every experience? 

Somehow, we do come out the other side of this malignant interlude of  unrelenting demonic behavior and learn how to get back to being the kind of friends we were at the beginning.  We don't draw butterflies on each others' arms anymore, for some reason, everyone thinks we sit around talking about tampons and such...but that's another post.

I think we should get back to playing dress up more.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Seriously, Stop It

In the day and age of Facebook, Twitter and the rest, we have become unable to do anything without some manner of ego stroking or feedback.  When and how did this happen?  What happened to going about your business and getting your shit done.  Why on earth do we need rewards and accolades for simply living our lives?

I start assigning blame to whoever the parents were that decreed "goody bags" were necessary at children's birthday parties.  Who was the unpopular kid whose  mother needed to bribe other children with bags of candy, toys and other crap to show up at her precious darling's party?  I thought game playing and cake eating and general kid rowdiness was plenty of incentive to come to anyone's birthday party.  Not only did this craptastic idea catch on, but it has become some kind of competitive sport with the booty in the bags rivaling that of those handed out at major awards shows.  The value of a party is now based on what the attendees get.  Not what they get out of it.  A good time had by all is no longer a legitimate scale to measure the success of a gathering.  Now it's all about the monetary value of what the guests take home.

I recently chaperoned the post prom party at my eldest's school, a learning experience to be sure.  The meetings leading up to the big event revolved quite a bit around donations and prizes.  Don't get me wrong, if something can be done on the cheap, I'm all over it.  The donations committee was a pure force of nature and managed to get an impressive number of gifts, monies and merchandise for the event.  Personally, I was on the entertainment committee and we just had to keep them from bitching about being bored...not that tough, really.  I was a little put off by the determination of some to make sure prizes were given out for absolutely every activity from door prize drawings (to be expected) to the video games and Twister.  Really?  Prizes for MarioKart?  Call me old school, but I never believed in the "you get a trophy for just being you" school of thought.  It's stupid and destructive.  No, you do not get a prize for showing up and doing nothing but converting oxygen to carbon dioxide.  Seventh place does NOT qualify you for a spot on the podium.  Fifth place does not get a ribbon.  Try harder and next time, do better.

Don't get me wrong, this is not any manner of sour grapes.  My kid won a freaking iPad and I (and he) couldn't be happier.  What I saw during the drawing for the door prizes was alarming and disappointing, to say the very least.  A girl won a $100 gift card to a local sporting and outdoor goods store and came stomping back to her seat like she had received a bag full of warm dog poo.  Another kid won a package including gas cards, a sweatshirt and other merchandise and grabbed his booty without so much as a thank you.  I did send him back to say it, but it should not have been necessary.  We gave away two iPads, two Kindle Fires, two blu-ray players and two 32inch televisions along with a metric shit ton of other merchandise, cash and gift cards and I heard kids whining that they "got way more stuff last year".  Stunned does not BEGIN to describe my reaction.  Appalled, disgusted and plain old flabbergasted come close. 

When did this sort of ungracious response become acceptable?  How did we, as parents, allow our children to become greedy and ungrateful?  When did "thank you" become such a rarity?  We need to get back to the event being the reward, eat cake, play games and be silly with your friends.  And don't expect a freaking prize just for showing up.

Friday, February 17, 2012

On Their Own Two Feet?

My eldest is going to college next year. As much as I'd love to go with him, I can't because I have other stuff I have to do. This is going to be a big thing for both of us, I'm thrilled for him and nervous and excited and scared and even a bit jealous. There's a whole new world for him to discover and I get to watch him do it (in moderation). There's the point of this entry, HE gets to do it. It's HIS turn, not mine. We're not going together, I'm not doing it for him, this is his time to go forth. Every parent faces this moment, it's how we handle it that separates the men from the boys here. If we have done our jobs properly, we will have equipped our offspring with the tools to succeed. We will have taught them how to cope and overcome, how to problem solve and stand up for themselves. In short, we will have taught them how to survive in the grown up world. Isn't that what we set out to do in the first place? He's going to screw up, he's going to make mistakes, he's even going to get hurt. I am confident that he will handle the situations that arise as best he can. He will not do it exactly the way I would, I would hope not.

I read an article last week about "helicopter" parents calling employers to get their kids promoted, a raise or more perks.

If I was an employer, this would make me look at that particular employee in a whole new way. I would start checking and double checking every single decision they made, I would likely never trust their decision making again. If they are not mature enough to negotiate their own raise, I cannot trust their business decisions. I would probably pass them over every single time a promotion came along. I'm sure some will say these hapless grown children probably don't know their parents are doing this sort of thing, but I contend you reach an age when you make it clear to your parents you are now a grown up.

These parents start early, from the moment little Juniper/Maximus/Griffin/Chloe took their first gulp of air, the 'copters have dictated every aspect of their precious spawn's existence. I have seen some of this with my own eyes over the years and for the peace and sanctity of the play group, have confined my reactions to the occasional eye roll. I have seen mothers spoon feeding a three year old, going into the bathroom with their kindergartener and picking out their school agers clothes. These are the same women that ultimately whine about their children's lack of decision making ability. I have seen parents drive coaches out of their jobs, reduce scout leaders to tears and intimidate teachers into changing grades. These parents are relentless in the pursuit of their darling's excellence, any failure or less than wonderfulness is a reflection on them. Every single achievement is shared, the child is not allowed to succeed or fail on their own merit. We are allowed to share in our children's achievements without it becoming about us. When did it become "we" and not "my kid" did well? Have I wanted to take over the science fair project and make it better? Yes, but I didn't because the project was not mine to make. I have called teachers about grades that concerned me, in a what-can-we-do-to-help-the-boy-do-better kind of way. My eldest has been treated to some of the shittiest coaching behavior I could have imagined and he refused to let me call and give said meatheads a piece of my mind. He wanted to earn his spot on the team himself. The hardest thing I've ever done is to NOT tell the football coach what I think of him and his coaching. I am proud of the fact that my son told me to back off and that he would deal with it himself. That's the goal.

I can't help but wonder what happens to the little Willow/Piper/Everett/Archers of the world. How do they cope with life decisions? Who decides when they've found "the one"? How and when do we propose? How do they buy a car, a house or decide on a job? What happens to these precious ones when the parents die? While I understand the urge to make things easier, to smooth the path for our kids, there is such a thing as too much. I see kids with an inability to cope with any decision that doesn't go through committee. They look for input from every possible source, texts, Facebook and practically a Gallup poll to make a simple choice between regular and diet soda. The existential meltdown involving the purchase of a prom dress is on par with the madness usually associated with a complete psychotic break. Along with a distinct lack of decision making skill comes an overwhelming sense of entitlement. The Maximilian/Barnaby/Daffadyl/Eternadys expect nothing less than If it's worth doing, it's worth someone doing it for you immediately. I see preteens deliberately trying to break their cell phones so they can get a newer, better, faster one. I see teenaged girls buying prom dresses that cost more than any car I've ever owned, and they cannot be worn more than once. I see whining because the car they were given for their sixteenth birthday wasn't exactly the one they wanted. I cannot understand how we, as parents, have not only allowed, but fostered this kind of thing. Where did it become necessary to indulge our child's every whim? Are these even the whims of the child we're indulging?

I can't wait for a time when I am only making decisions for myself...why on EARTH would I take steps to delay that moment?