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.