Sunday, December 28, 2008

That Holiday Spirit

I was in Kmart early in December and saw what appeared to be a grandmother with her granddaughter. The granddaughter's (apparent)dad had gone in the opposite direction and the granddaughter, who looked to be about three, was squirming in the cart, and saying, to the grandmother, "I don't want you. I don't love you." in a whiny three-year-old voice.

The grandmother said, "Well, good, because the less people who like me this time of year means the less presents I have to buy."

Warms the heart, doesn't it?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

NaBloPoMo Recovery

One of the things that happens when you post every day for a month is that when it's over, you feel kind of funny not posting for the first few days.

Then you get over it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Best Laid Plans and All That Crap

So I made it.

Just barely and with more than a few questionable posts, but still, I made it.

I had a post planned about what I've learned from yet another month of daily posting but a heaping helping of driving two boys back to college with side orders of freezing rain and holiday traffic have dashed those fantastic plans.

Maybe next time.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Our Whole Friendship In a Nutshell

It's been a busy couple of days. Today, especially, morphed from a much-needed vacation day at work to seven-and-a-half hours of funeral work and deliveries followed by a frantic two hours of errands for the various people in my life. In the midst of all this fun, a friend--Ms. Unattainable--texted me--she was having a minor moment and needed an ear, could I squeeze in dinner with her? When I said yes, she asked if I was sure because she knew how busy I was (she, unlike me, was actually off on her day off, and we had been in touch off and on throughout the day).

My answer: "It's fine--a break from my own insanity for a little of yours will be refreshing."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Just Askin'

You know how you always hear women of a certain age--say 40 and up--talking about finally being "comfortable my own skin?" Now, I'm no expert, having only recently entered the four-ohs, but doesn't it seem possible that we're more comfortable in our skin because that skin is all stretched out and baggy like a worn-out sweatshirt and a broken-in pair of jeans?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

...And Humble Too

In the car with Daughter-Only on the way to retrieve Son-One for Thanksgiving Break when she says, in what can only be described as an awe-filled voice:

"I was just sitting here thinking how awesome I am."


Monday, November 24, 2008

Masked Mom's Media Monday: The Wordy Shipmates

[In honor of NaBloPoMo (read: because I was such an idiot as to commit to posting daily), Masked Mom's Media Monday makes its triumphant (albeit likely very temporary) return.]

I was reading Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates at work last week when Cranky Boss Lady glanced over and said, "What's that about?"

I answered, "The Puritans."

She cringed. "Isn't it boring?" I thought at first it was kind of a silly question because, well Cranky Boss Lady was asking it, and since if I found it boring I likely wouldn't have been halfway through the book and so absorbed in it that I was having a hard time putting it down to actually do my job. But the truth is I'd never found the Puritans all that fascinating and the main reason I'd picked up the book was Sarah Vowell's name on the cover. Frankly, I'd follow Vowell to just about any topic she'd want to cover.

And even in this subject, the (allegedly) boring Puritans, Vowell did not disappoint:

"By March, good old Miantonomi sends Boston a tribute of 'forty fathom of wampum and a Pequot's hand,' severed body parts being the seventeenth-century equivalent of a gift basket of mini-muffins."

"Mason is triumphant. After all, this is the will of a righteous God. He praises the Lord for 'burning them up in the fire of his wrath, and dunging the ground with their flesh: It is the Lord's doings, and it is marvelous in our eyes!' That might be the creepiest exclamation point in American literature. No, wait--it's this one: 'Thus did the Lord judge among the heathen, filling the place with their dead bodies!'"

In between smart-ass commentary about the Puritans, Vowell fits in lots of information and even some smart-ass commentary about herself:

"I wish I didn't undertand why Hutchinson risks damning herself to exile and excommunication just for the thrill of shooting off her mouth and making other people listen up. But this here book is evidence that I have this confrontational, chatty bent myself."

And in her usual way, she painlessly sneaks in lessons about how we came to think America is the greatest nation on earth and how, while it might be true, it can be a horribly dangerous notion when taken to extremes.

Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Enlightening.

*Or at least pretend a little harder to be doing my job--though, frankly, a lot of my job lately actually seems to consist entirely of pretending--pretending to be fascinated by the tales of CBL's newest relationship; pretending not to be panicked by the latest round of economic news and what it means for a luxury industry like ours; pretending to have any respect for CBL's opinions on business, politics, religion or any other topic at all; pretending not to want to duct tape CBL's ever-yammering mouth shut...

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Got this in a fortune cookie the other day and it's been bugging me ever since:

"Ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice."

My first thought was "huh?"

My second: "Not only is that not true, it could be dangerous."

My third: "Someone from the Bush administration has been writing fortune cookies."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Tale Of Two Colleges

Son-One started it by choosing a college in Buffalo, a place known for its nasty winter weather and the dreaded lake effect snow*. Son-Two upped the ante by choosing a college with dorms about one mile from Lake Erie, an area even more prone to lake effect snow.

Last semester as I set out to pick up Son-One for what was laughingly referred to as Spring Break (in March, in Buffalo), there were lake effect snow advisories and white knuckle driving most of the way up and back. The end result being a trip that normally takes four hours taking six instead.

Last night as I set out to pick up Son-Two for Thanksgiving break, there were lake effect snow warnings and white knuckle driving most of the way up and back. The end result being a trip that normally takes four-and-a-half hours taking six instead.

You can only imagine how much I'm looking forward to picking up Son-One Tuesday night.

*For those uninitiated in lake effect greatness, lake effect snow is not caused by a storm but by cold air moving over the warm lakes where it picks up moisture, magically changes it to snow and dumps it by the footful on the regions near the Great Lakes. It is much less predictable than normal weather patterns and ever-so-much more fun.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fake Post

Maybe the title should be "Another Fake Post." Anyway, my excuse this time is I am on my way to pick up Son-Two at college for Thanksgiving Break and I am not entirely certain I will make it back before midnight. Therefore, rather than the wise, witty and wonderful post you would've gotten if I WERE able to make it back by midnight, you're getting this--a(nother) fake post.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Taking One For The Team

Daughter-Only has not only given permission, but practically demanded that I run this portion of journal entry from February 1997, when she was two-and-three-quarters (or so) years old.

Monday, February 3, 1997

...Last night [Daughter-Only*] matter-of-factly informed me that she doesn't have a weenie. She said, "My weenie wasn't cut off, it was ruined." She said this while I was on the phone with J, who was gigantically amused. [Daughter-Only] refuses to discuss the vagina/vulva at all. She's pretty sure she has two butts.

*She did insist that if I was going to run it, I had to put "Daughter-Only" in brackets to indicate that I had replaced her actual name with "Daughter-Only" lest anyone think I was idiot enough to refer to her in my journal by my blog name for her.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

You'll Be Happy To Know...'s not really a lack of ideas--I've got several, I mean maybe not enough to make it through the end of the month, but several, fairly decent ideas--it's the lack of energy to execute them properly. It's a lack of the quality time necessary to do these ideas justice.

There now, don't you feel better?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Browns vs. Bills

Last night, Son-Three attended his first NFL football game on a night when the temperature in Buffalo hovered in the low 20s. Among the first things he told me about this momentous occasion:

"Mom, I was talking to some Canadian guys in line for the bathroom and we just couldn't believe the steam coming out of the port-a-potties."

Whatever his future might hold, it's relatively certain that it won't include a career in sportscasting.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Up That Creek...

So tonight, completely lacking inspiration for a blog post, I turn to the little hardbound journals I keep filled with quotes I've pilfered from a gazillion sources--books and magazines mostly, but pop songs and cartoons on occasion*, in hopes of stirring up something. Two pages into my search I found this:

"You have to lay yourself on the altar to the muse. Because once she stops coming around you're really up a creek without a paddle." --Emmylou Harris (From "What I've Learned" column in Esquire, June 2004)

I can't help wondering what the muse of blogging would look like...would I even recognize her if she showed up?

*Like this from Franklin's mom on the adorable cartoon Franklin: "I know you tried your best last time, but maybe your best has gotten better since then."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Public Service Announcement Brought To You From The Backseat of Masked Mom's Car

Sitting in the car at the grocery store with three girls in the backseat--two eleven-year-olds and an eight-year-old. There is general noise and ruckus going on back there and in the midst of it comes this important health alert (courtesy of one of the eleven-year-olds):

"So-and-so tried to give me a titty twister. You should never do that--you could totally dismantle a woman's boobie doing that*."

*You know what else you shouldn't do? Use "dismantle" and "boobie" in the same sentence. You could totally unhinge an unstable forty-year-old in the front seat.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


The halfway mark & I got nothin'.

I realize I've also had nothin' a significant number of days leading up to this one.

The difference is, as celebration of the halfway mark, I'm respecting us both enough to just say so up front.

Friday, November 14, 2008


As a jaded cynic who has not only been married 21 years but has been in the flower business for nearly 10, I have a pretty low tolerance for sap. So imagine my delight* when the gentleman sending 21 roses to his wife for their 21st anniversary told me his card message: "I want these roses to see how beautiful you are."

He at least had the good sense to say, "There--is that corny enough?"

Didn't have the heart to tell him that as far as I'm concerned there are only two degrees of corny: not and way too.

*I was, however, exceedingly delighted to run his credit card, thank you very much.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wishing Upon A (Non-Sequel Movie) Star

Upon all that is holy in Hollywood*, I wish the two-movie-at-a-time theater in town could someday soon get two movies at a time that don't have numbers after their titles. (Offerings for the past month: Saw V, Madagascar 2, High School Musical 3, broken up only by Beverly Hills Chihuahua, which while blessedly number-free, is still clearly not worthy of two hours (or so) of my time.) And no, Quantum of Solace (a.k.a. James Bond 1,239,394), opening this weekend, does not count, thanks for asking.

*Not much.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Always Lookin' On The Bright Side*

The other night, Hubby and I were playing cards with Daughter-Only, D-O's friend FR, Youngest Niece and Next-To-Youngest Niece. I went to put in a CD and Youngest Niece piped up, "Is that the CD with 'Delta Dawn' on it?"

She has a "Delta Dawn" fixation--picked up, I think, from an episode of Friends. It's a fixation I can totally understand, "Delta Dawn" being one of the first songs I ever knew all the words* to and a fairly easy song to sing-along to--if you're prone to that kind of thing, which of course, much to the chagrin of my entire family, I am. I have "Delta Dawn" on a mixed CD I've labeled "Time Machine (Country)," which also features early work by Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Donna Fargo, and even Freddy Fender.

So I put in "Delta Dawn" and Youngest Niece and I were belting it out when three-quarters of the way through the song, Daughter-Only gets this stricken look on her face.

"Mom! Is this that CD with all the annoying country singers on it?!"

I offer a slightly evil smile: "Don't be silly honey, all the annoying country singers would never fit on one CD."

*Okay, most of the words. I've never understood exactly what kind of man stood by her side until today. At various times, I've thought it was a man "with a disease" or "with no-good knees" or "with loaded peas" or even "with goats and cheese." It seems so obvious now ("of low degree"), and I feel like a little bit of an idiot, but I maintain that it's still better than Daughter-Only thinking that Jon Bon Jovi was singing about "Bad Venison."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tell Us How You Really Feel

More self-plagiarism. Whole sections of my spiral notebook journal are dedicated to what I call Petty Rants About Annoying People (I actually thought about using that as a blog name at one point, but it seemed kind of limiting. I mean what if I want to rant substantially about an annoying person?). Here's an example:

March 24, 1993
...My problem with [her] is her saccharine level artificial sweetness. Sure, it's sweet, but it's unnatural, it leaves an aftertaste and quite probably causes cancer in laboratory animals. It was in full force the day she was at the store. She also had her southern accent turned up a notch or two higher than usual and usual is nauseating enough. I know she's probably entitled to a slight twang because she lived in Florida and the Carolinas for fifteen years or so. But she was an adult even then and she's been out of the Twang Zone for a few years now. Anyway, it's just my opinion, but I think the accent is an accessory to her--the same as earrings or well-applied makeup. (Not that her makeup is all that well applied. It's more of a surrogate face.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Politician In The Larval Stage?

Driving Youngest Niece, who's eight, to school this morning and she's babbling away in the backseat as usual. Last week she was--like a lot of people--all about the election--she was a big Obama supporter and couldn't be happier that he won. This morning, she's going on about the Katy Perry song "Hot N Cold" and how much she loves the song and how she and her friend Jessica take turns singing the lines but they have to skip the PMS one because it has the "b"-word in it and they can't say that. In the midst of all this rattling on, she says, "You wouldn't believe how I act at school. I mean, you know how I act when I'm at home and with you, right?"

I acknowledge that I do have a little experience with her behavior. Then she says, "Well, I act totally different at school. You wouldn't believe it."

I say, "Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"

Her answer? "Medium--it's a medium thing."

Sunday, November 09, 2008

One For The Isn't It Romantic File

I'm at the kitchen counter, crumbling bacon to garnish the potato-bacon soup that's bubbling in the Crock-Pot when Hubby comes up behind me and after nuzzling my neck for a second says, "I'm not sure what smells better you or the soup!"

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Is It Possible To Plagiarize Yourself? If So, Is It Wrong To Enjoy It?

Sometimes the quickest route to appreciating where you are is to take a look at where you've been. From the spiral notebook journals I've kept since a few days before my fifteenth birthday this entry was written at a time when Hubby and I shared a two-bedroom apartment with three children four and under, a dog and a cat:

Sunday, February 14, 1993

There was a mitten in the cat food bowl. Things like that happen around here--I don't waste a lot of time struggling against the indominitable forces of chaos. Once I found my diaphragm in the dish drainer. To this day, I do not understand how it got there. But that only serves to prove my point: Chaos is the natural order of things. How much time and energy should we expend fighting it? Don't think I don't recognize that argument for the excuse (for laziness) that it is.

I am feeling overwhelmed by housework. Things aren't messier here than usual, it is just that I am trying harder than ever before and it's still messy. There are just too many of us here--the apartment is so tiny and we have so many THINGS. It is getting to the point where buying a Matchbox car is a major decision--do we really have the room?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Life's Little Mysteries

Life is just full of those moments that make you wonder, "Why are we here? What's it all for?" For instance, here's a true transcript of a conversation I had with Daughter-Only earlier today:

To set the scene--we were in the car, having just dropped off her friend J. D-O had been trying to figure out what might be going on this evening with two other friends, T and L. And I was pressuring her to tell me where it was I needed to take her. For the previous five minutes, at approximately thirty second intervals the exchanges went basically like this:

Me: "Where am I taking you?"
D-O: "Hold on, I don't know, I need to talk to T..."

Finally, I said, quite firmly, "D-O, I just need to know where to take you. I can't continue driving around in circles, I'm supposed to be picking up your father."

Her response?

"The moral of the story is that MD is the best-smelling boy in our grade."

Oh-kay...I'm not sure what story this tidbit might be the moral of, but I'm relatively certain it's not the moral of the story I've been trying to get her to tell for the past five minutes.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Blahg Post

Blah blah blah blah, blah-blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah-de-blah blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah blah blah*, blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah; blah blah blah blah blah!

*Blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What? Still No Book Contract?

A friend and I were texting the other day about her ex-boyfriend's current girlfriend*. This girlfriend has a disproportionately large, um, behind--it's so noticeable that I've literally never heard anyone mention her in passing without also mentioning her--uh--backside.

My friend: Do you think my butt is almost as big as hers?

Me: Are you on crack? (Butt crack maybe?)

Considering what a way I have with words, it's really a wonder the literary establishment isn't knocking down my door at this very moment.

*Oh stop--you know you do it too.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Didja Vote--A Recycled Post With A 100% New Introduction

I originally wrote this two years ago and while some things seem different this time around (early reports were saying voter turn-out was high, etc), some things haven't changed much at all. Cranky Boss Lady regaled me yesterday with "20 Things You Don't Know About The Presidential Candidates" gleaned from the Sunday newspaper that included such compelling (and relevant if by relevant you mean not relevant at all) tidbits as both candidates are left-handed and that McCain's favorite book is For Whom The Bell Tolls and that Barack Obama is a Fugees fan. Guess I should just be grateful her gut pointed her in the right (and by right, I mean left) direction this year:

"Didja vote?" is how I was greeted this morning when I walked in the door at work. I hadn't yet, as a matter of fact--and there was something about the tone of Cranky Boss Lady's words that just struck me as wrong. She's one of those people for whom voting is not merely a right or even a responsibility but some kind of contest--she actually asks people, "What number were you?" And when they say, "117" (or "I have no friggin' idea nor do I give a crap 'cuz I didn't know there was gonna be a quiz") she will say in this boastful voice, "Well, I was 64." (Or whatever.)

She's one of those overenthusiastic voters who not only make speeches about the importance of voting but actively nag people around them to vote. (I was far from the last person greeted with "Didja vote?") I'm all for getting out the vote but there seems to be a fine line between encouraging voters and haranguing them. Of course, Cranky Boss Lady is often on the harangue-side of the line in this and other matters (hence the Cranky nickname), so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

I guess one of the things that gets me about Cranky Boss Lady in particular is that she seems to take such deep (and competitive) pride in voting even though it is her only involvement in politics and in her community. She's not signing petitions or staging demonstrations or even answering the surveys her elected representatives send to her house. Basically she thinks she can vote once or twice a year and wash her hands of it--content in the knowledge that she's done her share.

The other thing that bugs me about CBL is that her education on political matters is built on a foundation of political ads and gut instincts--this guy looks "nicer" or more "honest" than that one; that gal (yes, she actually uses that word and no, she's not 86, only 55, so I have no idea...) has a better commercial, etc. Forgive me, but that gut instinct thing, especially, is dangerous--wasn't there a poll a few years ago saying that more people would want to have a beer with George W. than his opponent and that a stunning (and frightening) number of people actually took that into consideration at the polls?

Which brings me to what will no doubt be a spectacularly unpopular opinion on this fine Election Day--I said earlier that I'm all for getting out the vote, which is only partly true because I think the last thing we need is more voters who are chosing candidates for the sorts of reasons CBL is choosing hers.

When I called home this afternoon to ask Hubby if he wanted to go vote with me, he said, "Well, honestly, I know I should, but I don't feel I know enough about the candidates in most of the races to make a really informed choice so not this time." When I got done teasing him for shirking his civic duty and offering to give him a cheat sheet so he could vote for all the people I was voting for so I could get two votes for the price of one without having to resort to Ann Coulter's tactics, I realized he was actually making a noble and sensible decision.

The fact is that not only do not enough people vote, but way too many people vote as well. This is by no means a partisan statement--just an obvious truth.* As for the people who are eligible and educated and don't vote anyway, I have a theory about them as well (surprise, surprise).

Much is made of "voter apathy" (328,000 hits on Google), but I think we might not all be as apathetic as we're made out to be. I think a lot of people care but are at a loss--look at the candidates, look at the lack of quality debate, look at the ads that seem to talk only about how unqualified the other candidate is rather than talk about how qualified the touted candidate is--I think what we feel is "voter despair."

I know that part of the reason I didn't vote this morning before I went to work was I thought, "What the hell's the point?" (That and I hit the snooze alarm way too many times.) I know that a lot of my friends and family who vote do so with a sort of "I did it, but I'm not sure it really means anything" feeling. Imagine how many more people are thinking it doesn't mean anything and then not showing up. But that's not the same as not caring--that's something else altogether. It's knowing the system is broken and feeling powerless to do anything about it.

Once, a couple of years ago, I saw a debate on CNN between a group of pundits and the chairperson of some state's lottery commission. They were talking about how irresponsible it was of the state to sponsor something that causes so much financial and emotional hardship for so many.

The chairperson spoke up about the importance of differentiating between chronic gambling addicts and your average citizen who just buys a couple of tickets a week--for that sort of person, she said, lottery tickets provided entertainment and a sense of hope. One of the pundits retorted: "Yes, but look at the odds--it's false hope."

The chairperson said, "Well, sometimes false hope is better than no hope at all." That struck me as both callous and profound.So I voted. And I voted because I guess false power is better than no power at all.

*If you made even a cursory attempt to educate yourself on the issues, and you still want to vote Republican, have at it, baby. I personally don't understand it, but that's the way things work in our great land.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Perfect Post For October: What Have You Done For Me, Lately?

In the midst of all the economic madness, Jenn over at Breed 'Em and Weep has written a smart and funny post on the economy that really goes to the heart of a lot of the problems we're having--and have been pretending not to have for a long time--in this country.

So for making me laugh--and making me think--and hopefully making others think, here's my button--
The Original Perfect Post Awards 10.08

And, Jenn, it's all yours.

See other winners at Suburban Turmoil and Petroville.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Why I Love Living In A Small Town

Yes, we have our share of paranoid bigotry. Yes, it can get kind of claustrophobic when it feels like everyone is in your business--even people you barely know. And it does get kind of boring seeing the same faces over and over again. (Seriously...I've lived here so long that even the people I don't know by name I can see from behind and know what they're going to look like when they turn around.) There's a distinct lack of job opportunities and, certainly the medical care options are rather limited, not to mention the shopping options, if you're the kind who likes to shop.

But. There are trade-offs. For example:

Phone rings at the flower shop the other day. I answer and the woman on the other end says, "Hi, this is So-and-So at the Mini Mart. I'm looking for the lady that buys the Diet Dr. Pepper."

"That's me..."

"When you were in here earlier, did you pump your gas? You paid for gas, but did you remember to pump it?"

"Crap. I don't think I did. In fact, I'm pretty sure I didn't."

"Yeah, we didn't think you did either. So we just wanted to let you know your money's here whenever you want to come get your gas."

When you're as dizzy and disorganized as I have become, having other people minding your business makes all the difference in the world.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Because Old Masochists Never Die...

...they just keep coming back for more.

It's National Blog Posting Month again (already! dang!). I've taken the challenge of NaBlo--posting every day for the month of November--two years in a row. The first year, I managed--squeaking by just barely a couple of the days. Last year, I NaBlew it on the last day--with the assistance of a couple of miscommunicating telecommunications company customer service representatives. Never one to turn down the opportunity to torture myself, I'm giving it a try again this year even though I'm still staggering beneath the significant burden of a "hi-speed*" dial-up Internet connection.

Wish me luck.

*By which I mean really-really-slow-28K-on-a-good-day dial-up.

Friday, October 31, 2008

There Oughta Be A Surgeon General's Warning

So there's this site that takes two of my favorite things--blogs and quotations--and smushes them together in a wildly addictive fashion. It's called Blogtations and this week, there's a quote from my blog. But that's not why I'm telling you about Blogtations--I'm not so vain and shallow and approval-seeking as to need to call attention to myself in that fashion (Ha! Like I'd even HAVE a blog if I weren't vain, shallow and approval-seeking).

No, I'm telling you about Blogtations because Blogtations is having a 500th quote party and simply by telling you about Blogtations and showing you my favorite quote from the site, I could win a $50 Amazon gift certificate.

To review: Not vain, shallow and approval-seeking. But greedy, definitely greedy. (Greedy, yes, but generous enough to point out that anyone can play the 500th quote party game. The rules are

So Blogtations. Quotes from blogs. It's pages and pages (almost 500, hence upcoming 500th quote party) of delicious nuggets of brilliance and wisdom and hilarity and I compulsively clicked through the alphabetized categories when I should be doing something more constructive. Picking a favorite is like trying to pick a favorite finger--if you had almost 500 fingers and they all lived on the Internet, independent of you.

After much agonizing deliberation, I settled on this

"The heart makes its own choices, we simply decide whether or not to follow through with them..." from the blog
Dragonfly Dreaming (whose post today is about sex addiction so click with caution).

...because it seemed to apply to so many things--including selecting a favorite from almost 500 quotations.

Anyway, whether you play the game or not, you definitely should check out the site. It's a bunch of great stuff from blogs distilled into one compulsively clickable format.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Politics With Fifth Graders

When it comes to politics, I'm pretty much a preach to the choir kind of girl--never unleashing the full fury of my opinions on anyone I'm not reasonably sure agrees with me (or at least is bound, by law or genetics, to tolerate me). It may seem a little chicken-shit, but I've learned the hard way that it preserves important business and personal relationships. Odds are you're not going to change anyone's mind so the frustration level is just not worth it.

The other morning, though, I was lured into a discussion of politics by the unlikeliest of fellow conversationalists: two fifth graders. On Tuesdays, I help a friend cover a child care gap by sitting with two eleven-year-olds (one hers and one her sister's) and two eight-year-olds (one hers, one her sister's) for twenty minutes or so until their bus comes. Somehow during the usual morning stuff, Eleven-Year-Old Boy was talking about some celebrity he didn't like and I said, "Yeah, he's not on my list of favorite people."

Eleven-Year-Old Boy says, "Yeah, there's a lot of people not on my list of favorite the president for example."

Then me: "Yeah, he's definitely not on my list of favorite people..."

We're interrupted by Eleven-Year-Old Girl who says, "You know there's going to be an election soon so we won't have to put up with President Bush much longer." Then, warming to the topic, speaking in that breathless way unique to adolescent (and slightly pre-adolescent) girls. "I guess I don't really care who gets elected except my grandma says if Barack Obama gets elected white people are doomed."

Wow. Just wow. What the hell am I supposed to say to that?

While I'm formulating my reponse--looking for something non-committal that will still somehow convey that I don't agree at all without saying something that might offend her family members should it get back to them (which means not using the words "paranoid bigot" which were actually the first thing to pop into my head)--Eleven-Year-Old Boy slings his backpack over his shoulder, looks me dead in the eye and says with a slightly raised eyebrow, "Hillary Clinton has a penis."

I sputter, "Um...uh...good to know." (I mean what the hell?!)

Eleven-Year-Old Girl, suddenly the voice of wisdom, says, "We really didn't need to hear that."

Eleven-Year-Old Boy says, "Well it's true! I heard it on Family Guy. If you pay really close attention you'll hear it on one of the episodes."

So, from the show featuring a talking baby with a subtle yet inexplicable British accent and an IQ higher than everyone in his family combined but who is still somehow not potty trained and whose companion is a talking dog who's almost as smart as the baby yet still hangs out with this whacked-out family, Eleven-Year-Old Boy has gleaned the apparently inarguable information that Hillary Clinton has a penis.

Before we could get into a discussion about whether or not Hillary actually does have a penis, and in what way that might affect her ability to serve as president (would men be doomed? women? Or, because she's a woman with a penis, neither? Or maybe both?), the bus came.

What really scares me is not eleven-year-olds thinking these things, but the adults--in their lives and elsewhere--who are thinking the same way.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

(Dis)Comfort Food

Like many bloggers, I have a meter attached to my blog that measures hits, lets me know where people are logging on from, and, most entertainingly, allows me to see what search may have led them to my blog. Unlike many bloggers, the searches around here are pretty pedestrian, with "neglected husband" and "uvula stuck to tonsil" vying for first position and "Carole Radziwill" coming in a solid third. The Top Ten is rounded out by seemingly random things like "Jill Taylor, meteorologist" and "long-lost boyfriend."

The other day, though, I noticed a hit from Burlington, Ontario, where someone had apparently searched for "hamster instant mashed potatoes."

Let me say that again: hamster instant mashed potatoes*.

WTF** doesn't even begin to cover it.

*You may wonder, as I did, what I had ever written that would lead someone looking for "hamster instant mashed potatoes" to my blog. The answer is I mentioned hamsters in one post and then instant mashed potatoes in two entirely separate posts.

**Daughter-Only's catchphrase of the week: "WTF and a half?!" comes a little closer.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I have a close friend who, like many of us, is juggling a demanding job, husband, children (two teenage daughters and a five-year-old son), plus all the push and pull of her extended family. Unlike me at least, she always seems fairly together:
nicely dressed, appropriately accessorized. Even though she's being yanked in a dozen different directions by the demands of her life and she's always hurrying from one thing to another, she projects an air of confidence and professionalism that I'm sure serves her well in all the different roles of her life.

This, however, is not the story of how she "does it all" in heels and the perfect shade of lipstick. This is the story of what happens when the facade cracks. She's always very together--right up until she's not. I've known her for fourteen years and can count those times on one hand. One of the times she "fell apart" involved sucking her engagement ring into one of those industrial vacuums at a car wash. There followed frantic phone calls and several hours of general hysteria before the ring was retrieved. This is the story of a different time.

As part of her job, she frequently travels within the region to give presentations to various groups. Recently, she was asked to drive to a city about an hour and a half from home to give a forty-five minute presentation on a Saturday. After the presentation, she would be done for the day so she brought along her husband and son, thinking they could have lunch together and maybe see a movie--make a day of it. And, as a bonus, she could drive the company car and not have to pay for gas.

She dropped husband and son off at a nearby mall and went to the hotel where she would be giving her presentation. She told them she would meet them back at the same entrance in an hour or so.

The presentation went smoothly and as she was gathering her things she realized she should probably make a stop in the ladies room before she left for the mall. While in the restroom, she somehow managed to drop the car key in the toilet. This is the key to the company car, mind you.

She's sitting there, contemplating her options. She realizes almost immediately that the only option is reaching in for it. After all, it's the key to the company car, she's stranded an hour and a half from home, not to mention her husband and son stuck at the mall waiting for her, and her cell phone is locked inside the company car because she never brings it in during presentations. So even though it's icky*, she takes a deep breath, stands up and...the toilet is an automatic flusher and the key is gone.

I imagine there was a moment of staring in awe and wonder at the toilet before she went to find the contact woman from the hotel who had helped her with the presentation earlier. While they were waiting for maintenance to see if there was any way to get the key back, it suddenly occurred to my friend that her husband and son were still at the mall, probably on their way to the entrance to meet her so she borrows the hotel lady's phone and calls her husband. She says, "The hotel shuttle is going to pick you guys up."

He says, "Why? What's wrong?"

She says, "Nothing. But the car is locked and the key"

"Unattainable? What do you mean unattainable?"

"Uh, it's just, um, unattainable. I'll explain later..."

Give her credit--she did explain later--not only to her husband but to everyone at work, where they all laughed hysterically. And then she told me, so I could laugh hysterically and now I've told you. Laughing hysterically is strictly optional, but she really went to a lot of trouble so it might be nice if you could at least titter politely.

*Doesn't "even though it's icky" strike you as the awesomest motto for parenthood EVER?

A PS to Brunette Best Friend from high school--I know, I know, you have a way better locking something in the car story. But it still (24 YEARS later!) makes me wince to talk about that...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Signs of the Apocalypse

Forget, for a moment, the global economic crisis.

Forget wars and famine and disease.

Forget the upcoming elections which feel like a matter of life and death.

Forget, even, that the Republican party has so little regard for the American public that it nominated someone wholly unqualified (and as we get to know her better, it would seem completely unsuited) as its vice presidential candidate.

John Mellencamp and Stephen King are collaborating on a
musical together.

If it gets any scarier than that, I don't want to know about it.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Do You Really, Really Want To Haunt Me?

[We now return you to your regularly scheduled program of ghost stories. The last one was more story than ghost. As you will see, the jury's still out on this one:]

Unlike Daughter-Only, Son-Two has always approached conversations about potential ghostly goings-on with a sort of open-minded skepticism. He believes in "hauntings" generally while viewing reports of specific incidents through a cautious--even dubious--lens. Daughter-Only's breathless exaggerations of her experiences instigated much eye-rolling on Son-Two's part. Even Son-One's much more reserved accounting of flashing lights in the dark hallway was greeted with a shake of the head and Son-Two's standard pronouncement: "Bullshit."

Son-Two also rejects any woo-woo explanations--those involving "lost souls" stuck between the Here and the There, for example--in favor of the likelihood that "ghostly" activity is something perfectly logical and natural that just can't yet be explained by science. (In much the same way that we once experienced the effects of germs without being able to isolate and identify them, Son-Two thinks that these unexplainable activities will one day be attributed to something we can't yet measure or define.)

His scientific approach served him well on the night in question. Someone less scientific might have run screaming from the room.

A little after 11 one night toward the end of summer, Hubby and I were reading in bed when Son-Two knocked on the door. He looked around our room and shook his head.

"Okay. This is really weird. I've been hearing this weird noise and I thought maybe your fan was on and the noise was just carrying into my room in some weird way. But the fan's not on."

He went on to explain that he had been lying in bed in the dark for the last ten minutes listening to what sounded like breathing about two feet from his head. It was like breathing, but he could only hear the puff of the exhale--not panting, just a slow rhythmic "huh." For ten minutes. Next to his head.

At first he thought it was his own fan. Maybe the motor had gone and the blade wasn't turning and the noise he could hear was the straining of the blade...or something. So he checked--his fan was unplugged. Got back in bed--more breathing.

It was too steady and rhythmic to be the wind. So then he thought of the fan in the bathroom. But that wasn't on. And, finally, the fan in our room--also not on.

Hubby--possibly the only person more skeptically open-minded in our house than Son-Two--jumped up to investigate. After a few minutes of dead (ha ha) silence in Son-Two's room, Hubby shrugged and offered this (decidedly unscientific) hypothesis: "The only thing I can think of is that there was some kind of animal out on the porch roof. Maybe it smelled Son-Two and was just curious."

If curious possums panting from the porch roof outside Son-Two's window is the best debunking we can do, I'm thinking we might have to roll out the "h-word" after all.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Intermission II: More Politics, This Time Without The Threat of Poop, Pelican or Otherwise*

During a conversation last weekend with Son-Two (who called from college to discuss politics, of all things), he said he thought Palin was going to "get toasted" in Thursday night's debate.

In response, I said, "Yeah, she's Political Barbie."

Hubby sitting nearby deadpanned, "After Thursday's debate, it's going to be more like Political Barbecue."

*The promised absence of poop in no way implies the absence of crap which is an entirely different thing and seemingly unavoidable in politics.

**Before you cry sexism please note that I am not calling her "Barbie" simply because she's a woman. I am calling her a Barbie because she seems to me to have been chosen for her spunky, perky cute-tough persona rather than anything of any substance whatsoever. I don't believe for one second that women should be judged on a higher standard than men, but neither should we get a pass simply because of our gender. With something as vital as the presidency it's especially important to be sure that no one is so dazzled by the gender of a candidate that they forget to ask the questions that really matter--and actually listen to the answers not be impressed by the kind of one-liners^ Palin dished out at the Republican convention. Stumbling down off the soapbox now...

^One-liners not unlike those that a '90's edition of Barbie said when you pulled a string on her back. The most famous one was something like "Math is hard." or something like that and lots of people got mad then because that was enforcing a stereotype that girls aren't good at math. I didn't really think it was enforcing anything other than that Barbie thought math was hard which only makes sense since she's a friggin' doll, for cryin' out loud.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Intermission: Is This What They Mean By Animated Discussion?

Last night Hubby and I watched Nim's Island immediately followed by the DVR recording of Friday night's presidential debate.

Later I woke in the middle of the night from a dream in which the CGI pelican from the movie, Galileo, had circled over the candidates, chattering and cawing at particularly ridiculous remarks.

At least he signaled his displeasure verbally...because the only thing more unpleasant than politics as usual is politics with pelican poop on it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Do You Really Want To Haunt Me?

Considering my previously professed passion for Sci-Fi Channel's Ghosthunters, it should come as little surprise that when we were househunting last year, one of the criteria we actually discussed was the likelihood of a given house being haunted. Lacking the equipment of the TAPS team and absent a category on the real estate listings web sites*, we had only the age of the house to go on. We figured the older a place was, the more souls that were likely to have passed through it and, therefore, the more likely it was that one or two of them had hung around.

Ghosty geek that I am, the higher our chance of sharing a place with ghosties, the more ready I was to sign a lease. In fact, on Daughter-Only's first tour of this house as we came to the bottom of the stairs with Hubby right behind us and I said, "And the best part is that it was built in 1900 so it stands a pretty good chance of being haunted."

Daughter-Only had just enough time to roll her eyes at her mother's dorkiness when we heard a long and loud noise from the room above us--a room we had just left and which, as far as we could tell, was empty.

The nature of the noise was a matter of much debate among the three of us. Hubby maintained that it sounded like a pinecone rolling down the roof--theoretically dropped by one of the gazillion squirrels we'd seen outside. Daughter-Only and I argued that it sounded more like someone dragging a dresser or some other heavy piece of furniture across a bare wood floor. It was too long, too loud and too close to have been a pinecone bouncing down the roof. Hubby countered that it must've been a branch scraping the side of the house. Daughter-Only and I put this notion to rest by pointing out that though the house is surrounded by large trees, the closest branches were several feet from the house. We generously granted that a strong wind might bring the smallest branches into contact with the house but it was a calm day outside and the noise we'd heard couldn't have been made by the twig-like branches that were closest to the house.

I've learned from Ghosthunters that it's best not to jump to conclusions--and from Jason in particular--to use the "h word" sparingly (almost grudgingly) so I told the boys not that we were haunted but that we might have some "activity."

The first few weeks we lived here seemed to support my theory with reports coming from all the family members (except of course Hubby, that party pooper)--jiggling doorknobs, a computer that repeatedly connected itself to the (dial-up) Internet, weird noises and, most notably, the shower coming on in the middle of Daughter-Only's bath. Since most of these things could be explained by normal, as opposed to paranormal, explanations, the boys and I continued to withhold judgment--and the "h word."

Daughter-Only was a little less reserved in her assessment. Along with Oldest Niece, she had found a trunk full of keepsakes in the attic. They belonged to a man named Bill--our best guess is that Bill's father built this house. Bill was apparently quite a player--there were photos of several women in a wallet and dates on letters from at least two of the women overlap.

In any case, Oldest Niece and Daugther-Only became convinced (half-jokingly) that Bill was responsible for all the mischief around the house. This despite the fact that there was no evidence whatsoever that Bill was even dead. In fact, based on dates they'd found, Bill was probably around 71 and statistically just as likely to be among the living as to be taunting my family with silly pranks barely worth mentioning.

Daughter-Only rejected that possibility and began telling everyone she knew about our ghost, Bill. Once, she even called home from a friend's house and left a message on our answering machine for Bill.

When it came to preserving Bill's reputation as a bona fide spirit, Daughter-Only was not above helping Bill out a little. A common tactic was to conceal one accomplice (friend or cousin) in a closet while telling a wide-eyed story to the others about all the knocking and tapping she'd heard from Bill. Cue knocking and tapping and, more often that not, screaming and giggling.

Though no one had seemed traumatized, I warned Daughter-Only that she was going to end up really scaring someone someday. Maybe she would've actually paid attention if she'd realized the traumatized person would end up being her.

Early in the spring Daughter-Only was deathly ill and had stayed home from school. She was there alone with the dogs and ferrets. She called me at work, speaking barely above a whisper, clearly terrified. "Mom, um, I was feeling better? And, uh, I put the dogs outside so I could kick my soccer ball down the upstairs hall? And my ball bounced all the way down the stairs and into the dining room and I was going down to get it when Son-Two's bedroom door started rattling really, really hard--like someone was trying to get out of it!"

I asked her if she was okay and where she was. She was on the sofa hiding under a blanket. I asked her what she thought it was--did she think it was an actual human being? She did not. She knew it would've been virtually impossible for someone to get to the second-story bedroom without alerting the dogs.

I told her I'd be right there and that she could bring the dogs in for company and protection if it would help. I even said,

"Remember, whatever it is, it can't hurt you."

She said, "I know, but it's still scary."

I hung up and explained to Cranky Boss Lady that I needed to go home--to my haunted home--because Daughter-Only was (apparently justifiably) completely freaked out.

Just then, it hit me that Son-Two had told me that morning that he had slept with his window open the night before. It was incredibly windy that day so obviously--mystery solved.

Needless to say, Daughter-Only was nowhere near as amused by the episode as I was. It probably didn't help things that the main reason she was so terrified was that she had swallowed her own paranormal propaganda whole.

In the case of Son-Two, who had his own experience a few months after this one, there was no propaganda swallowing, whole or otherwise. Stay tuned next time for that story.

*For example: Bedrooms: 5, Baths: 1 1/2, Lot Size: 1.08 acres, Spooks: 2, but they mostly keep to themselves.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Housepainting With Daughter-Only

D-O: Mom, I was gonna say, "I think you have paint in your hair." but then I realized it was just white hairs.

If there were any justice in the world, she'd have fallen off her step-stool laughing that hard.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What My Daughter Learned From The Olympics*

Was it good sportsmanship?



The importance of working single-mindedly toward a goal?


"Hey, Mom! If it wasn't for the Olympics, I never would've learned that Asian men don't have eyelashes."

*Masked Mom does not make any representation regarding the accuracy of anything Daughter-Only learned from watching the Olympics or elsewhere for that matter.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Three Wishes, or A Frightening Glimpse At My Current State of Mind

Coming home from work with Son-Three just now. As we pull in the driveway, he says, completely out of the blue, "If you had three wishes, don't you think you'd use one of them to know the words to every song ever written?"

This was seriously out of the blue--the conversation just before that had to do with a chick fight between two girls who just graduated with Son-Two. Nothing to do with songs or lyrics or even wishes. Were this coming out of a normal child's mouth, I might be at least a little concerned with the child's mental health, but this was Son-Three, who has a long history of saying random and completely odd things. (See: "What's the opposite of a moron?...A more off!" "What's the opposite of this nose [while pushing his nose up]?...THIS nose [while pushing his nose down]!") So far, for the most part, the weird and completely random things seem to be merely an indication of his ability and need to say weird and completely random things. So instead of worrying about his mental health at the moment, I'm concerned about mine.

What would my three wishes be? The lyrics of all the songs ever isn't a bad wish. But one of my wishes would, I hate to say it, be an endless supply of just enough money. I don't want to be filthy rich, just to have enough to not worry every single second. And as mentioned previously, I know that money doesn't solve every problem, but it would free up some of my mental resources to solve the other problems (for example, the problem of my third son randomly* saying things like, "Cereal is cereal and cereal is quiet. Cereal is cereal and cereal can't talk.")

I was thinking how great that would be, just to be able to relax a little, to breathe easier. And then it hit me that immediately after I made that wish along with my other two, I'm absolutely certain that the global economy would collapse and money would become an antiquated and worthless concept.

Yeah, things are pretty cheery here in Masked Mom's brain.

*Because random is pretty much the only way you can say something like that.

Friday, July 04, 2008


Our marriage turned the legal drinking age today.

It intends to celebrate accordingly.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Don't Do The Dew

So Mountain Dew is having this big "Dewmocracy" promotion. They've introduced three new flavors, Dew drinkers are supposed to vote on which one they like best and at the end of the promotion only the most popular will remain.

I made the horrible mistake of taking a sip of the pinkish purple one ("SuperNova").

I was in the car with Son-Three, Son-Two and Daughter-Only. I said, "That tastes like feet!"

Son-Three took a sip (because the smart ones always want a sip of something someone else thinks tastes like feet) and declared it the best of the three. He said,"And it doesn't taste like feet..."

"Yeah," I said just as the medicinal aftertaste hit me. "You're right, it tastes like a cough drop rubbed on feet."

Needless to say, I won't be tasting Voltage or Revolution. And the only way I'm voting is if there's a line for "none of the above."

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Tonight's junior-senior prom at the boys' high school. Son-Three was unable to attend due to his girlfriend having a dance recital, which he must attend instead. After the recital they will be going to the official post-prom party sponsored by SADD, of which the girlfriend is a member. They've been together since November of last year--in high school years they're not only married but well past the honeymoon stage. The way Son-Three was grumbling about it you just knew the words "ball-and-chain" were right on the tip of his tongue (or they would've been if anyone who isn't hopelessly outdated actually used that phrase anymore).

Son-Two is attending with E.G., who happens to be the girl Son-Three "went out" with in eighth grade. First Son-One goes camping with Son-Two's ex-girlfriend and now this...clearly, high schoolers have really evolved since I was in school. I can't imagine smilingly accepting the fact that my sister was going to the prom (or on a camping trip) with my ex-boyfriend. I've tried to brush it off as a gender difference--girls are notoriously catty about this kind of thing. But it's just as hard for me to imagine Hubby finding out his brother was taking Hubby's ex-girlfriend to the prom.*

Our boys are unfazed by this sort of development and seem baffled by my bafflement. The other day, Son-One**, Son-Three, Daughter-Only and I were in the car after a tennis match, waiting rather impatiently while Son-Two and E.G. stood by the bleachers ironing out pressing prom details. I looked over at Son-Three and said, "Isn't this weird to you at all?"

And he said, "What?"

I said, "Oh, I don't know...first Son-Two goes out with A.C. sophomore year and then Son-One goes camping with her senior year. Then you go out with E.G., albeit in eighth grade, and now Son-Two is taking her to senior prom. But I guess that's just the kind of thing that happens in a small town."

Son-Three said, "Yeah, it's probably way worse in The Next Town Over, which is way smaller."

I smirked, "Yeah, over there, the same thing happens but the girl is their cousin!"

And then, building steam: "And over in The Even Smaller Town Two Towns Over, the same thing happens but the girl is a goat!"

They're apparently not too evolved to snort out loud at a very immature joke.

*I would've asked Hubby his opinion on the subject, but I've been married to him for almost 21 years and I already know that his response would have involved a discourse on how the question is impossible to answer because there is no way that any girl he was willing to go out with would EVER have been willing to go out with his dorky little brother.

**Home from college and pining for his current girlfriend--who, blessedly, is from Westchester County (all the way across the state) and has not yet dated either of his brothers.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Fly Away Home

So when we were first looking at this house last fall, I noticed a few ladybugs in between the glass and the screen in the dining room window. I pointed them out to Hubby and told him that I vaguely remembered that some culture or other (maybe someone in Asia?) considered ladybugs good luck. We took it as a sign--even though I didn't trust my memory 100% (and now that I have dial-up, Googling it is out of the question without tying up the phone for several days...).

Ladybugs may or may not be considered lucky in some Asian (or not) culture but when they're crawling in your ears or up your nose in the middle of the night, you can only wish you were lucky enough to have a gigantic can of Raid next to the bed. When their carcasses litter your bedroom floor after every semi-warm winter afternoon, even after attempts to vacuum out every nest from every nook and cranny, they no longer seem dainty or adorable. When you begin to feel a sense of unbridled glee at sucking up yet another colony of the little buggers, you know things have gone entirely too far. Despite the cutesy ambivalence of their name, when more than, say, ten or so ladybugs gather in the same place they begin to seem a lot less ladylike.

It has gotten better the past week or so--for reasons I don't completely understand--but for a while they were EVERYWHERE. I even found one--a flat one--in a library book I was reading in the bathtub.

But in this, as in all things, perspective is important. I was busy bemoaning our infestation when Cranky Boss Lady called me about an infestation of another sort at Other Kid's house. Other Kid's Mom (who is CBL's daughter) had just called her to say there was a bear in the back of her pickup truck. Apparently OKM had loaded her truck with stuff to take to the dump the next day--she has done this a million times and never had any problems. This time a big black bear crawled right over the side of her brand new pickup truck (scratches down to bare metal), dragged the cans out and up the side of the hill to the edge of the yard, where he proceeded to pick through the contents of each can before going back for the next one.

I imagine that the vacuum, my weapon of choice in the Ladybug War, would have been pretty useless against this particular pest--at the very least, I would've needed a much bigger attachment.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Is Blogging Just Like Riding A Bike? For That Matter, Is Riding A Bike Like Riding A Bike?

It's been a while but I'm just gonna get on, start pedaling and see where I go.

At least with blogging, I don't have to worry about skinned knees...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

He's No Simon Cowell...And Maybe He Should Have His Hearing Checked

Whatever the future may hold for Other Kid, he definitely doesn't have what it takes to be a hard-assed judge on a TV talent show.

We were riding in the car together last weekend when Martina McBride's "This One's For The Girls" came on the radio. I was singing along--something I have a pathological compulsion to do when Other Kid piped up from the backseat: "Are you singing?"

Immediately self-conscious, I said, "Um, yes..."

"Well, did you make this song?"

Not sure now where he's going*, I say, hesitantly, "Um, no..."

"Well you sound EXACTLY like the lady on the radio."

(This post is dedicated to Pasta--an old friend from high school, not only because she recently nagged me about posting more often, but because she was there at the start of my belting it out in the car disorder--singing along to Huey Lewis, The Thompson Twins, Duran Duran and a host of other '80s pop stars while driving aimlessly around in the Wilds of New Hampshire.)

*One place he might have been going: the very same week the above exchange took place, Youngest Niece was sitting beside me while I was singing along to a Christina Aguilera song and she said, "Who sings this song?" And I said, "Christina Aguilera..." And she said, "Then let her do it." (This she learned from one of Second Niece's friends, apparently. Other Kid, obviously is less discriminating and doesn't run with quite such a cynical crowd.)

Monday, March 03, 2008

Perfect Post For February: Call Me Frances

Just after the birth of a baby, there's that moment in the hospital where the pen hovers over the birth certificate form and you want to be sure, really sure that the name you've chosen is the "right" one before setting it down in ink for the government wonks and all the world to see. In the case of Hubby and I, as I'm sure in the case of most parents, the names set down on those official pieces of paper were the result of endless hours of debate and not a little bickering--debate and bickering that often begin well before the birth and sometimes even before the pregnancy. Daughter-Only's name, for example, evolved throughout my earlier pregnancies--when we chose a girl's name only to have a boy and another boy and another boy. The name evolved slightly each time until we arrived at the name we gave Daughter-Only.

Years of work for a name that she had rejected twice by her eighth birthday. For a while, around the time she was four, she insisted upon being called Lisa. A perfectly nice name but not the name we had given her after literally years of effort. And we had no idea (nor do we still) where she came up with the name Lisa (the only possible connection I've been able to think of was The Simpsons, but we weren't fans at that point and I'm not at all sure how she could have heard it). All we do know is that for several weeks, she literally wouldn't answer to anything else.

The second name change made even less sense. One morning when she was six or seven, as she was gathering her backpack for school, she said, "I'm Dr. Ashklomash Coco Peppermint." That one lasted only a couple of days--probably because only she could pronounce it...

During both episodes, I couldn't help remembering when I was in fourth grade and decided my name should be "Frances." I didn't go so far as to insist on my family refering to me solely as Frances, but I did orchestrate a playground game in which we pretended to be from the planet Frantasty and everyone had to be named something that started with "Fran." We were a planet full of Franks and Francines and Franceses. I did it and have no logical explanation why my nine-year-old self wanted to be called what I considered an old lady's name even then. All I can say is that's the same year I went through a persistent, annoying and entirely gross phase of chewing on the ends of my hair.

In any case, Nita, over at Advanced Maternal Age is having name issues with Rio at the moment--issues that any parent (or anyone who wanted to be called "Frances" for no known reason) can probably identify with. She generously shares them in her post "My Name Is..." and in a second post "My Gears Are Grinding." So for a giggle and a trip down memory lane, here's my button:

The Original Perfect Post Awards 02.08

And, Nita, it's all yours!

Browse other winners at Suburban Turmoil and Petroville.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Top Ten Symptoms Of Severe Sleep Deprivation

10. You are disproportionately amused by this 6:40 a.m. announcement on the radio: "Our random drawing name this morning is Harry Beaver of blah blah. Harry Beaver, if you call by 7, you'll receive blah blah blah. Once again, Harry Beaver, we must hear from you by 7 a.m."

9. This line from Steve Martin's Born Standing Up seems not only disproportionately brilliant but an alarmingly apt description of much of your life: "Through the years, I have learned there is no harm in charging oneself up with delusions between moments of valid inspiration."

8. You find Chuck Palahniuk's latest book Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey disproportionately moving and heartwarming despite the fact that practically every character and situation in the book is bizarre and disturbing to a point just this side of repugnant.

7. You find yourself disproportionately fascinated with the word "disproportionately."

6. Your "Top Ten" list is only five items long.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Price of a Good Hair Day?

Daughter-Only says this morning: "Mom, my hair is the straightest* it's ever been, ever. But now I have a huge zit** and my throat hurts and we're out of hard candies so there isn't even anything to make it feel better."

*Straight constitutes great in Daughter-Only's mind. Like most girls who have a natural wave, she wants her hair straight while all the straight-haired girls are out there frying their hair to get a little curl in it.

**It wasn't huge. It was, in fact, barely noticeable. But I didn't point this fact out to her because I had no interest in hearing her tell me how I must be blind or that I have to say that because I'm the Mom, etc.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ghosts of Christmas Future?

[I know I'm a little late with the holiday posts, but this slow Internet is kicking my poor blogging ass. Posting takes so long that it is now something that takes strategic planning ahead not something I can do in the ten minutes between when I roll out of bed and we have to get out the door. Anyone who knows me personally or even through the blog can attest that strategic planning ahead is not really in my nature. And, alas, ol' Saint Nick (in the form of a communications company of any sort) didn't come through with any options other than slower-than-death "hi-speed" dial-up. But in any's a Christmas post.]

Christmas night (the night part of Christmas Day, as opposed to Christmas Eve), I am face-down in my pillow "zonked" as my mother used to say--probably snoring, definitely drooling, soundly, soundly asleep--when I'm awakened by a knock on the bedroom door. It is Son-Two coming to tell me, just a little after midnight, how much he loved the movie Failure To Launch which he just finished watching. For those unfamiliar with the movie, Matthew McConaughey's character is a thirty-something man who has lived at home so long that his parents enlist the help of Sarah Jessica Parker's character to trick him into moving out. Of course it ends up being a sappy romantic comedy but I couldn't help wondering if Son-Two was subconsciously trying to tell his mother something--like he has no plans to move out before his thirty-second birthday...?

In other Son-Two news, he continues to not (as the educational professionals are so found of saying) "work up to his potential." This is a subject with endless opportunities (if that's what you'd call them) for nagging on my part. One morning over Christmas break, we were on the way to his volleyball practice and I launched into a speech about how easy it is to get in the habit of expecting too little of yourself and how soon after you learn to accept too little from yourself you start to really doubt your ability to turn things around and it becomes a vicious black hole of low expectations and even lower rewards, making it clear all the while that I was speaking from a vast well of personal experience.

As we pulled up in front of the school, Son-Two deadpans, "Thanks for the pep talk."

I said, "That was no pep talk. It was a cautionary tale. It was a rare opportunity to learn from someone else's mistakes."

If I've learned anything from my own mistakes it's that learning from another's mistakes is as rare as eyebrows on an egg. And if I've learned anything from Hollywood romantic comedies, it's hire Sarah Jessica Parker to lure your adult son out of his cozy nest (even though Zoe Deschanel's character is much more appealing).

So at least I know I've got a plan.