Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Spiral Notebook Sunday: Special Tuesday Edition

(This one goes out to cdnkaro over at four under 4 (plus two),  who has so generously shared some of the hilarious (and informative) anatomical-based discussion going on over at her house.)

At the time this entry was written, Son-One was not quite three months past his third birthday, Son-Two was 21 months old, and Son-Three was a few days past two months old. While I found it mildly disturbing (though not entirely surprising) that size concerns could pop up at such an early age, I was rather impressed that he found a category to fit everyone into. (Even though he had to make one up.)

For the record, all those "yeps" were less agreement and more a concerted effort to not giggle uncontrollably at his sincere attempt to figure things out.


Friday, September 6, 1991

While I was changing Son-Three the other day, Son-One and I had this conversation:

Son-One: Son-Three has a penis.

Me: Yep.

S-O: Son-Three has a little penis.

Me: Yep.

S-O: I have a big penis.

Me: Yep.

S-O: Daddy has a big, giant penis.

Me: Yep.

S-O: And Son-Two has a little, giant penis.

Me: Uh, yep.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Masked Mom's Media Monday: Frank & Ernest

I've always loved the comic Frank & Ernest, even though I've never been entirely sure (until now) which one is Frank and which Ernest and have occasionally been troubled by the fact that both of those fine gentleman often appear to have skipped significant portions of the hygiene unit in 6th grade health class.

Frank & Ernest was created by Bob Thaves, who died in 2006 and is now written by his son, Tom. It is widely syndicated in newspapers across the United States and around the world. A daily dose of Frank & Ernest can be found here.

Today's daily cartoon may be of interest to those of us who have followed along with the elephant theme started by Suzanne over at Periphery and picked up by Mark over at Mark's Work. (To find various elephant-related posts on either blog, use the blog search window in the upper left corner of either blog's home page--it's worth the effort.)

Anyway, many years ago, I came across what has got to be not only my favorite Frank & Ernest comic, but easily in my Top Ten Favorite Comics Ever (to the extent that I even have a Top Ten Favorite Comics Ever List). In it, Frank (I think) is sitting in a hoarder-level cluttered office, saying to Ernest, "I'm giving up trying to get ahead so I can concentrate on slowing down the rate at which I'm falling behind."

I clipped that little bugger out of the paper then and there. I later laminated it and kept it in my wallet for a long time until it eventually was purged in one of those once-a-year wallet clean-outs I get around to every three or four years. I tucked it into a junk drawer (sadly, that's a bit of a redundancy in my household) two moves ago and it is probably even now sitting in a box in the attic or basement along with receipts intended as proof of purchase for rebate offers now long-expired and school photos of children I've never met that came in Christmas cards from people I haven't seen in person since middle school.

Obviously, I identified with Frank's near-hysteria at being almost physically engulfed by his resposibilities, but the thing I loved most about the comic was the brilliant simplicity of Frank's solution to the problem. Focus on the manageable. Let the rest go. Something I need to be reminded of on a practically daily basis.

Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Wise.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Spiral Notebook Sunday: Thursday, August 9, 2010

This one pretty much speaks for itself...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

In order to do the heading for this entry, I had to think, "What day is it?" Then remind myself that I am sitting in Big Red* in Bolivar while the guys are at AA. If it's Bolivar, it must be Thursday. Lord almighty, this 2nd shift crap messes with your head and, also, I am a little too immersed in my job, I think.

Anyway, I really, really need to start writing more often. I know I've said so a bazillion times, but I am NOT kidding around anymore. There are, as always, the mental health benefits (or, perhaps more important than the benefits of writing are the dangers of not writing), but I am also letting gigantic quantities of good "material" slip through my fingers.

Tonight, for instance, a client with whom I have a rather odd teasing rapport said (after I had shot down a ridiculous request of his), "That's okay, everyone can keep poking at me like I'm one of those voodoo dolls, but I'm going to keep making lemonade." Why stop at mixing metaphors, when you can scramble similes and throw in a drop or two of cliche for good measure? Lemonade, indeed.

*This is the highly unimaginative nickname of our 13-passenger van, which is, you won't be surprised to learn, red.  And, um, big.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mirror Image

How to express the extent of my exhaustion? I was going to just pick a number on a scale of one-to-ten, but that's cliche, so instead, I'll share this tidbit from my evening.

Just now, I noticed in the bathroom mirror that the "Old Navy" written across the front of my fleece sweatshirt was backwards. For a good thirty seconds, I was completely convinced that meant I had worn my shirt inside-out all day.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Seeker

I was at Hubby's computer (in a little room just off the kitchen) trying to bang out a blog post between turns of Risk Legacy (don't ask) when I heard two-and-a-half year old Seventh Niece calling me from the dining room.

"What?" I called back.

"Where are you?"



"It's a secret." All the while she's getting closer to finding me.

"Where are you?"


She's in the doorway. "What are you doing?"


"From what?"


"Kids?" she asks.

"Yes," I say, scooping her up. "But one kid found me. Can you guess which one?"

"Aw, man."

PS--No Risk pieces were harmed in the making of this post. Though I must admit that the first time I played this version, I looked at the colorful little pieces with their utterly chewable protrusions and remarked, "If they don't want us to eat the pieces, why do they make them look so edible?"

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Save The Date

"I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should've been more specific."
~~Lily Tomlin

(This one goes out to Youngest Sister, who has always shown amazing restraint in the "I told you so" department.)

Before we even get to my offense (which is enormous), let me begin with my defense (which is puny).

When Daughter-Only was born, she joined a household which included three older brothers, the oldest of whom was six. I had worked full-time up until the week before she was delivered. We also had a dog and several cats, most of whom I ignored completely, but I am adding them to this list in hopes of tipping the scales of justice a little bit in my favor. The ultrasound I had a week or so before she was born showed that she was a girl, which after three boys in a row, was a mind-blowing distraction of its own. (Honestly? I thought the tech was just messing with me because she had just asked me how many of which variety I had at home.) In addition, I went into labor at approximately 2 a.m. and delivered around 6 a.m. thereby messing with my sense of time even more. And not to protest too much, but I also had surgery at 9 a.m. the day after she was born and was released out into the world a few short hours later.

Consequently, my sense of time was somewhat distorted and for several years after she was born, I told everyone Daughter-Only's birthday was June 24. It was (and remains) June 23.

Youngest Sister tried to point this out to me on at least one occasion. I shudder to recall the tone in which I said, "I know my own daughter's birthday."

When it was time for kindergarten registration, I pulled out Daughter-Only's state-issued baby pink birth certificate and was horrified to discover my mistake--my face was pinker than the paper the correct date was printed on. I have since apologized (and made unnecessary excuses) to Youngest Sister, but apparently, the universe has decided that I have not yet done penance enough for my mistake.

Earlier this week, Daughter-Only's first-ever income tax return was rejected for e-filing by the IRS because the birth date listed on the return did not match the birth date on file with the Social Security Administration for that Social Security number. Let the record reflect the fact that the application for said Social Security number was filled out by me before I left the hospital after giving birth to Daughter-Only. And, if we've learned anything here today, it's that there was a time when I truly did not know my own daughter's birthday.

I broke the news to Daughter-Only that her refund would be delayed because the Social Security Administration had her birth date listed incorrectly.

Daughter-Only said, "How does that even happen?"

"Uh, somebody must've screwed up somewhere along the line."

I always wanted to be somebody...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Class of 86

(With thanks* to Beth over at Word Nerd Speaks for the post that inspired this one.)

Today marks my 86th consecutive post--shattering my previous record of barely scraping together thirty consecutive posts for NaBloPoMo each November. Certainly, many of those 86 posts have been of the quantity not quality variety, but most were at least not humiliatingly terrible and a few of them have actually made me kind of proud. Making the commitment to daily blogging and actually keeping it has been a revelation to me in so many ways--some of which I may babble on about at some point.

Tonight, though, I mostly want to babble on about one of the things that has made daily blogging not only possible, but a real pleasure, and that is the sense of community I have found in our little corner of the internet. I would guess that I read around 30 blogs regularly and I check in as often as I can on quite a few more. I tend to comment in some way on almost everything I read because, for me, I know how much the acknowledgement and sense of connection means.

In addition to daily posting, I work full-time (at a job that is, like many jobs, alternately incredibly rewarding and deeply soul-sucking) and share my home with Hubby, two grown-ish children and (often) their significant others, and three dogs. And, of course, I'm still tending in some long-distance way to the oldest two growner-ish children. Daughter-Only and I also share a computer. She is finishing high school online and working at the local grocery store so the time she has available to use the computer is at a premium and often overlaps with mine. All of this means that on some days, I binge on posting, commenting, visiting. And on other days, I'm a ghost of my usual presence, lucky to post a crappy cell phone picture with a punny caption on my blog and a couple of lame emoticons in the comments section elsewhere.

None of this should be mistaken for a lack of gratitude for my readers or a lack of interest in the blogs I frequent (and unfortunately frequently miss a few days of) because I have great bloggy love for all of you and the sense of community and connection is more meaningful to me than I can really express without sounding like a total idiot. (Sounding like a partial idiot? Apparently totally okay.)

I think a part of what makes our little corner of the internet so great is the richness of the lives we come here to share, so even though I have seriously considered using a vacation day at work just so I could put the finishing touches on a blog post or catch up on reading everyone else's fantastic posts, I know the truth is that the very reasons it sometimes gets crazy-busy trying to balance the blogging life with the real life are the reasons both lives are so rewarding.
*And maybe apologies.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


So, I had every intention of writing a post that was an answer to the thought-provoking post Beth over at Word Nerd Speaks wrote on Sunday about blogging habits and time management, but due to unforeseen scheduling issues (aka poor time management?), that post will have to wait for tomorrow.

In the meantime, the post is worth checking out if you haven't already read it and I'll be back with my answers to her questions tomorrow.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Masked Mom's Media Monday: Mondays*

Masked Mom's Media Monday One-Word Review: Icky.

*Particularly overcast-drizzly-36-degrees-in-January-dirty-slushy-snow-on-top-of-mud-too-much-to-do-and-not-enough-time-to-do-it-feel-like-I-worked-a-full-day-before-I-even-get-to-my-paying-job-where-I-get-to-put-in-another-eight-hours-Mondays.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Spiral Notebook Sunday: Sunday, October 25, 2003

This week's entry is all about the numbers. So here, a few numbers to get you started. At the time this entry was written, Son-One was 15; Son-Two, 13; Son-Three, 12 and Daughter-Only, 9.


Sunday, October 25, 2003

Mornings at our house are all about the numbers. For instance, six people and one bathroom. The boys are up by 6:45 and out, ideally, by 7:30 (no need to panic until 7:45, though). Daughter-Only is up by 8 and out by 8:30, ideally, but 8:35 is the absolute panic line for her because her bus driver is constitutionally incapable of coming on any kind of regular schedule. We don't expect on-the-dot timing every day, but this guy can't even keep it within a ten-minute window--hence cause for panic at 8:35 even though on many days he's not there until 8:55 or later.

Adding to the numerical joy is the fact that my alarm goes off at 6:30, so I can be sort of a back-up for he boys' own alarms. Rather than reset my alarm for 8, when I actually have to be up, I repeatedly hit the snooze alarm, which goes off every 9 minutes for an hour-and-a-half (ten times). I do this even when it's obvious the boys are up without needing my backup (nagging, I believe, is the more familiar term).

I am a snooze alarm expert--capable of hitting the snooze button purely by instinct, often with no fumbling around. It's as though there is some biomagnetic connection between my hand and the button. Even when I'm so groggy I can barely open my eyes, I can do the math to figure out when the next alarm is going off (how many minutes are left and the nearer I am to the end of my "snoozing," the more precious each minute becomes).

One morning this past week, Daughter-Only, Hubby and I were all trying to get up and out of the house by 8:30 and the following conversation took place:

D-O (looking at the clock on my nightstand): MOM! It's 8:10!
Me: It's ten minutes fast.
Hubby (barely lifting his head off the pillow and squinting at the clock above the computer): That one says 7:55.
Me: Yeah, it's five minutes slow.
D-O (from the dining room): The microwave clock says 8:03, but it's two minutes fast!

For some reason, this struck us all as beyond hysterical. Of the other clocks in our downstairs--there's an alarm clock in the computer room, which is either unset or unplugged, there's a clock on the CD player in the living room, which is unset and flashing a completely incorrect time, and there's a clock on the stove, which was at one point correct, but between power outages and Hubby rearranging appliances (and hence, unplugging the stove), it is wrong by hours. I used to go around setting the flashing clocks, but have long since given up. Hubby is a habitual rearranger and won't reset any of them himself.

As for the stove clock, which is an analog and, therefore, non-flashing, I see it's incorrectness as an homage to my grandfather, whose stove it once was. Pap had refused to turn the clock forward or back for daylight saving adjustments for as long as I can remember--just that one clock so it was more a symbolic rebellion than anything. I got the stove last year as a hand-me-down from Dad and Girlfriend when they replaced it with an all-digital, touch-button, ceramic-top model. For all I know, the new one automatically makes adjustments for daylight saving, which seems so wrong somehow.

In any case, the clock on the old stove is wronger than ever and I view this as an extreme version of what Pap was trying to say when he refused to change his clock on the whims of society. Not merely (as Chicago so pathetically (and pseudo-philosophically) crooned): Does anybody really know what time it is? More like: Who the hell are you to tell me what time it is?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

An Exception To That Rule You Learned In Sixth Grade

It's said that familiarity breeds contempt. I'm not sure what mere proximity breeds--complacency? nonchalance? Something, anyway, so that when you live very near a wonderful place--even a Seven-Natural-Wonders-of-North-America level wonderful place, you have a tendency to not just take it for granted, but kind of forget it exists a little bit.

Which is how, despite living less than two hours away for more than twenty years, we never went to Niagara Falls as a family until my mother-in-law's visit in the summer of 2010. (It's amazing what you can find right under your nose when you're trying desperately to entertain an out-of-town visitor!) We spent the day at the park, wandering from stunning view to stunning view, picnicking together in the shade of mulberry trees with the roar of the falls in the background, feeding practically tame squirrels our leftovers.

It was a fantastic day that we commemorated with lots of great photos. Perhaps none that truly captures the spirit of our family more than this one:

You can pick your nose. You can pick your friends. But you can't pick your friend's nose, unless, of course, your friend is Nikola Tesla.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Special Orders Don't Upset Us*

For dinner the other night, we had wheat pita pockets with shredded sandwich steaks, mushrooms, onions, peppers and American cheese. I remarked to Daughter-Only's boyfriend, A.M. that they were our (admittedly pale) imitation of the "Number 9 Pokket" from D'Angelo--a New England sandwich chain where, at the Loudon Rd., Concord, NH location, Hubby and I had our first (and only "official") date in 1987.

Please do not read this as a pathetic, poor-me confession, but that date was also my first (and only "official") date. I was eighteen and had suffered through four years of assorted crushes bookended by my epic, recurring crush on Mr. High School. As a pathologically shy Army brat, I was never in the sorts of social situations that would lead to "normal" adolescent interaction. To make matters worse, the few people who did have daily contact with me were treated to the defense mechanism of sarcastic one-liners designed to keep everyone from noticing how scared shitless I actually was. (This worked depressingly well and I was often told by people who subsequently got to know me better that I had terrified them at first.)

Anyway. My first date. Our first date. We went to D'Angelo, where Not-Yet-Hubby ate a Number 9 Pokket. It looked and smelled spectacular--and it's surprising that I am nostalgic--and not bitter--about the Number 9 since I did not even eat a Number 9 that night. I did not, in fact, eat anything because, really? I was so nervous, there was no way in hell I was going to eat in front of him at all--let alone eat anything as messy as the things on offer at D'Angelo.

We left D'Angelo and decided to go for a drive and eventually ended up on some dirt road in the wilds of New Hampshire, just after dark. He parked near a little bridge at the edge of a narrow stand of trees and asked if I'd like to walk along the creek that flowed there.

By the light of a full moon (I'm not even kidding), he led me to the mossy bank of the creek where we sat together for a few quiet minutes, watching moonlight dance across the ripples as the water gurgled against the rocks.

He turned to me with the kind of soulful expression only a nineteen-year-old boy could muster and said, "You have the most beautiful eyes."

And I, in what I hoped was my most soulful voice, said, "Thanks, they were a Kmart Blue Light Special."

Because...come on! Full moon, babbling creek, soulful staring. Intensity overload. Cliche overload.  It was a toss-up as to which pushed me over the edge, to be honest.

To his credit, he laughed at the joke and we talked for a few more minutes, about what I can't even vaguely remember and then, he leaned in to kiss me. The moment our lips touched, I dissolved completely...

...into uncontrollable giggles. I don't mean cute little giddy giggles either. I mean fish-out-of-water-flopping-around-on-the-mossy-bank-of-that-damned-creek-gasping-for-air hysterical laughter. And, while I know fish do not generally snort, there may have even been some snorting involved.

Again to his credit, Not-Yet-Hubby gave me a minute to recover, graciously accepted my apologies and tried again. And I laughed again, and apologized again, and then we gave up and got back into the car and drove up and down the Kancamagus Highway, listening to the Eagles Greatest Hits, Volume 2 on cassette because it was 1987, and that was cutting edge car technology, thank you very much.

Three-and-a-half months later, we were married. And twenty-five years later, we serve our "Number 9's" with a heaping helping of well-aged, leftover giggles on the side.

*"Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don't upset us..." Burger King, of course, not D'Angelo. It's always nice when my embarrassingly encyclopedic knowledge of 1970s TV commercials can be put to good-ish use.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Of Grand Mothers and Mediocre Metaphors

My Nan, with my father around 1951. You can't tell from looking at her, but she had a serious aversion to labeling and dating photographs, which I believe she inherited from her own mother and as a consequence, I have inherited several generations worth of unlabeled, undated photos, which I store in a plastic tote labeled "Anonymous Ancestors From An Unknown Time."

My Nan would've been 90 today. She was my paternal grandmother, whom we called "Nanny" growing up. Her version of how she got that name, rather than the more conventional "Grandma," was that as a toddler, I couldn't pronounce "Grandma" and said "Nana" instead. My mother's version was that my grandmother was too vain to approve being called "Grandma," so insisted on a name with fewer age-related associations. There is no end to the stories in which my mother's version differed dramatically from her mother-in-law's version, which is a pretty standard phenomenon, I guess.

In honor of the anniversary of her birth, a re-run of one of my stories of my grandmother:


When I was growing up, spending time with my paternal grandparents, Pap had a habit of sitting in a chair in the corner of the kitchen beside the woodstove, sometimes reading, sometimes just sitting there over his ridiculously strong cup of tea, looking curmudgeonly--he had more hair and fewer teeth but otherwise resembled Nebbercracker from the movie Monster House in some significant ways. I know Nebbercracker was supposed to be a scary bad guy, especially at the beginning, but I found myself a little nostalgic and missing Pap even in the opening scenes of the movie.

Anyway, there he sat, in the chair in the corner of the kitchen and Nan was often puttering around the house or watching TV in the living room. The house was a converted hunting cabin and had only three rooms so when he yelled for her, in his phlegmy, grunty way (emphysema), she wouldn't have any problem hearing him.

"Em," he would yell, and then pause for a response, which wouldn't come, so he'd yell again.




Meanwhile, my grandmother was wherever she was smirking and rolling her eyes, knowing what was coming, and not answering because of it.




This would sometimes go on for three or four rounds before finally, finally Nan would cave and say, "What?!" or sometimes (if this was, say, the third or fourth time that day that Pap had gotten into this mood), "What, you crazy old son-of-a-bitch?!"

And always, always, always, Pap would say, "Kiss my dupa*!" He was a sixty-something-year-old man with a six-year-old's mischievous glint in his eye. Sometimes--even if it was the fourth or fifth time that day he'd pulled his clever little trick--he would laugh so hard a coughing fit would ensue.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately--not merely because it's the kind of funny-in-a-warped way story that is so typical of my grandparents--but because in my own funny-in-a-warped way brain, it's become a metaphor for my entire life.

There are some things about myself and my life that I would really like to change. I would like to be more motivated and energetic and I understand that the main way to get moving is to actually move. I want to spend less energy procrastinating and more energy actually accomplishing. I lecture myself pretty much perpetually. The last ten minutes before I fall asleep, many of my thoughts begin with "First thing tomorrow, I will..." and yet day after day after month after year, not much changes.

So there is the lecturing side of myself--the well-intentioned, you-can-do-more-better-faster self but then there is the other side, sitting in the corner, clamoring for attention. ("Em!" "Em!" "Emma!") And that more-better-faster person tries nobly to resist the pull of the non-productive, unhealthy, but oh-so-deeply-ingrained creature of slothful habits, but finally, finally, always, always she gives in and shouts, "What, you crazy old son-of-a-bitch?!"


A few links (with previews) to other stories featuring my grandmother:

Weirdness: "My Nan was Catholic and a kleptomaniac, among many other things, not that those two things--Catholicism and kleptomania--are directly related, of course."

Don't Judge a Post By Its Title (Or Lack Thereof): "...have me thinking about what other genetic time bombs my grandmother has left behind. Will I soon start eating kidney beans out of the can while watching People's Court and Entertainment Tonight? Will I shave my legs with a dry razor while sitting on a lawn chair in the front yard?"

"Oh, how I hate to get up in the morning...": "I sometimes think parenting is just an elaborate payback for all the grief we caused the adults in our lives when we were kids...Oh, Nan, wherever you are, they're getting back at me now."

*Growing up, I knew "dupa" was "ass" and just assumed it was German, given my grandfather's heritage. But, turns out, if it is German it is regional slang borrowed from one of several Eastern European neighbors

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Lazy Activist's Guide To Internet Protests

Numerous websites and blogs are blacked out today in protest against the possible passage of SOPA and PROTECT IP laws. I seriously considered blacking out my page as well, but I would've had to download a back-up version of my current template and otherwise engage in tech-related stuff that generally ends in frustration of astronomical proportions and irreversible (by me, at least) and annoying changes to my template. Therefore, I am just sending you over to Kelly's place--Southern Fried Children--where you can get more information on the laws that are being considered and what you can do to help.

Google has also started an online petition against the legislation. You can find that here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Today's Post Brought To You By The Letter "E"

I would endeavor to elaborate upon the enormous toll that egregious misuse of the English language exacts upon my soul and the ways in which that exaggerated effect may be evidence of my own mental health issues, but I lack the energy. Suffice it to say, perhaps if I were more evolved, signs like this:

            ...wouldn't make me scream "Eeeeek!"

I will grant you that eloquence is in the eye of the beholder. The definition of "eloquent," however, is not.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Masked Mom's Media Monday: The Sun

I eagerly await The Pushcart Prize anthology every year. It's subtitled The Best of the Small Presses and showcases literary fiction, non-fiction and poetry from a variety of small magazines and other venues. It is a thick volume full of amazing work--the kind of stuff I would probably never otherwise have the opportunity to read, living as I do in a teeny, tiny town in a rural county with the nearest "newstand" likely to carry literary magazines of any sort hundreds of miles away.

Each year, I get a little crazy imagining all the work I'm missing by not being able to afford subscriptions to the magazines that originally published the work in the anthology's pages. One year, I did something about it and took $36 out of my tax refund money and splurged on a one-year subscription to The Sun.

That one-year splurge has turned into an every-year splurge (except the one year that Youngest Sister sprung for the renewal as my Christmas gift--thanks, again!). Occasionally, money has been too tight to renew on time and I have missed an issue or two, but I keep every issue I have received in a tub within arm's reach of my computer desk. More importantly, I carry photos, phrases, and revelations I've found in its pages with me everywhere I go.

It is difficult for me to speak of The Sun in terms rational and sensible enough to really capture its amazingness (see?). The Sun carries no advertising. The black-and-white photos sprinkled throughout each issue are simple and often breathtakingly evocative. Though Hubby doesn't read the magazine, I have often come upon him holding an issue, intently studying the cover photo. And when I got out a few old issues today for reference, I was repeatedly distracted by the amazing photography both inside the magazine and on its cover.

The writing within its pages is raw and gritty in its intimacy while often touching on strikingly universal themes. There is an interview at the beginning of each issue, usually with an activist of some sort or someone otherwise on the fringes of society--psychologists, physicists, artists, environmentalists, shamans and so on. January's interview was with Ina May Gaskin, "the midwife of modern midwifery." These interviews are always informative and often enlightening.

After the interview, there are fiction and non-fiction pieces, with poetry tucked in at the edges. And at the center of the magazine is several pages of a column called "Readers Write," which shares true stories readers have sent in response to prompts (this month's prompt was "Boxes."). The subjects are as limitless as the human imagination and the one thing the pieces all share is writing of the highest quality.

Here a few snippets from past issues:

                  is the the thing you
                  press your face against,
                  trying to figure out how

                   to get inside without breaking it."

              ~~from "Lost Keys," a poem by Tony Hoagland, The Sun, June 2011

"'Do you think we'll ever be friends?' I say. 'You and me?'
'We're sisters,' Eileen says.
We could be friends--if you would change every single thing about you, I don't say to her; she doesn't say to me."
~~from "Final Dispositions," a short story by Linda McCullough Moore, The Sun,  February 2009

"I am broken and my mother's old age is what's breaking me, I think, standing naked in my bathroom, one foot propped up on the sink, clipping my toenails. The bathroom is dirty: haris everywhere, beads of mold in the corners. Cleaning has become a luxury. Someday I will spend one afternoon a week scrubbing my bathroom, but for now I wipe the sink with a dry Noxema pad, scrape some loose hair from a corner, and hurry out.

My next thought is: It is not a bad thing to be broken. When something's broken you get to see what's inside."
~~from "At Her Feet," non-fiction by Pat MacEnulty, The Sun, May 2008

"Raising three children is like fording a swift, waist-high stream whose stones are covered with moss: it's possible, but move heron-slow and measure each step, or you'll topple and end up who knows how far downstream."
~~from "My Anti-Zen Zen," non-fiction by Chris Dombrowski, The Sun, August 2011

Some of the things I read speak mostly to my mind, others mostly to my soul. The Sun is one of those things that consistently speaks to both.

Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Priceless.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Spiral Notebook Sunday: Monday, June 5, 2006

"I thought I understood what he was doing, it was the kind of thing I would do: force myself to look at something painful in small doses until I got to the place where I could look at it steadily without it breaking my heart."
~~Gail Godwin, Father Melancholy's Daughter

Tonight's selection from the spiral notebook journal is from an entry inspired in part by a friend's reaction to hitting a deer with her car. She casually mentioned a day or so afterward that she didn't feel she'd "processed" it yet.


Monday, June 5, 2006

...It's a huge difference between us--and I'm not really sure I'm on the "better" side of it.

I don't really understand the process of "processing." I'm not good at it. I mostly kid myself that I don't need it. But really, even if I did need it, I'm not sure I'd know how to do it. I mean, yeah, the writing helps, but it's more an end than a means to an end--if that makes any sense--and, honestly, the time and energy to write about what I might need to process is often used up by just surviving whatever it is I might need to process. Again, if that makes any sense.

I sometimes feel like I'm skimming across the surface of my life without really getting wet. I'm flitting from moment to moment without having time, energy or inclination to "process" it.

At other times, I think the complete opposite. I imagine myself harvesting bits and pieces from moment to moment, sometimes without even noticing, and then planting them in hopes they will grow into something--an insight, a lesson, a plan.

What happens is often a combination of both. I ignore it, I ignore it, I ignore it until I can't ignore it anymore and then I try to process it for a little while until I get distracted or tired or overwhelmed.

And all the while, it's still there.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Still Recharging

(Couldn't find a credit for this image. Found the (uncredited) image posted on numerous tech blogs by bloggers who claim it's a photo of something called an "Icon charger" for iPhone and it's been "coming soon" since at least as far back as summer of 2010. Maybe it should be called the iCon?)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Not The First Time, Probably Not The Last

Mostly, I love my job, but some days take a day or two to recover from. Yesterday was one of those days that took so much out of me that today I am sitting here feeling like my brain has been replaced by a wrung-out dish rag. I've got nothin'.

So here's something I wrote a million years ago, originally published in At-Home Mother magazine, Volume 1, Number 2, 1998.*


Live and Learn: A Mom's Eye View Of Cliches and Common Sense

They clutter our conversations and seem always to be on the tips of our tongues. They are words to live by--maxims, bits of wisdom, cliche's built on a grain of truth. But how well do they hold up in the hectic world of modern motherhood? Here's a mother's perspective on some popular platitudes:

A pessimist sees the glass as half-empty; the optimist sees it as half-full.

A mom knows that either way, when the glass spills, it's the same amount of liquid to be wiped up or pre-treated.

Don't count your chickens before they've hatched.

We're pretty sure this is a reference to science fair projects. We strongly recommend vetoing any project that requires finding permanent homes for a dozen or so living things.

Let the buyer beware.

This applies to everything from diet aids yo buy to shed those last few pregnancy pounds to the toys displayed on the pegboard in the cereal aisle at the grocery store.

Look before you leap.

Look not only before you leap, but also before you tiptoe across the kids' room in the dark. Beware tiny, sharp-edged toys magnetically drawn to the softest parts of human feet.

Don't judge a book by its cover.

There's no telling who's been there before you and with which color crayon.

The early bird catches the worm.

And he'll want to keep it forever in a coffee can under his bed. This applies to late risers as well, and far from being limited to worms, it can include a wide variety of amphibians, reptiles and insects.

Still waters run deep.

Except in the case of mud puddles, which, while deceptively shallow, contain a seemingly endless supply of water and sludge.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Moms would rather see no eggs in the basket. Between salmonella and the mess factor, we're convinced no one under ten should have anything to do with raw eggs.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Of course, before we take that step, we have to find clothes that go together, put them on frontward and right-side-out, find socks that match (each other and the outfit), locate misplaced shoes, round up jackets, coats, mittens, hats, sunblock and bug spray (and any other seasonally appropriate accessories), and establish whose turn it is to ride next to the door (by chronicling who rode next to the door each of the last 42, 000 times the car left the driveway). By then, of course, we're too exhausted to go any further than the grocery store.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

If Laughter Is The Best Medicine, Why Is It So Contagious?

Always eager to come to the aid of a friend (and to be granted an easy post idea on a day when I had no time to flesh out any of my own ideas), I am delighted to honor cdnkaro's request to share the video of her husband, Ian, laughing almost to the point of needing medical intervention. As she mentions in her post, Ian would greatly prefer this video not go viral. Cdnkaro, of course, would be delighted if it did. Let's see what we can do to help her out.

(There is a link to an image of the comic Ian found so hilarious on the original post over at four under 4 (plus two).)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Up On The Rooftop...

Throughout December, I read with great interest a variety of different views on the Santa myth. I found all the reasons given for the various choices regarding Santa--pass the traditional myth down, debunk it, let the kid kind of decide--fascinating and thought provoking.

Now that Christmas is safely over, though, I think it's only fair that I tell you all that I am in possession of conclusive evidence: Santa exists and...he's a vampire.

On Christmas Eve, while waiting for their kids to go to sleep so they could perform Santa duties, Baby Brother and Sister-In-Law came over to our house to play Balderdash. Balderdash, for those unfamiliar with the game, is essentially hilarity in a box. This is especially true if you're not terribly concerned with who wins and instead focus on making your fellow players laugh so hard they're in danger of rupturing something.

In the game, you're given a clue--the name of a person, a movie, initials that stand for something, or an obscure word and you're supposed to write down a convincing enough guess that other players will vote for your option. Everyone's guesses are turned in to the "Dasher," who reads them all out loud, including the actual answer. The dubious honor of being the Dasher travels around the table round-by-round. The only way to get points as the Dasher is if no one votes for the actual answer, which almost never happens.*

We were in the middle of writing down our guesses for the category Laughable Laws, completing the phrase, "In Sterling, Colorado, a cat may not..." I was rolling my eyes heavenward in search of inspiration when I caught a glimpse of some kind of movement at the edge of my vision. I turned toward the movement and there was nothing there, but just as I was about to look down at my paper again, I caught another movement. This time, I rotated my head a little further and saw a fuzzy brown bat flying directly for my face.

I screamed more from being startled than from any innate fear of bats in general--though, judging from his facial expression, which I was close enough to read clearly, this one was not in a particularly good mood. (Have you ever noticed that bat faces kind of look like angry little baby faces?)

Mass hysteria ensued. Three dogs barking. Seven adults ducking and screaming. Daughter-Only and her boyfriend diving under the dining room table. Hubby calmly trying to shoo the bat out the sliding glass door while telling the rest of us to calm down in an annoyingly calm voice. Me, with visions of splattered bat guts dancing in my head, yelling for someone to please turn off the ceiling fans and then running into Hubby's office and closing the door behind me because I was laughing so uncontrollably and at such a pitch that I thought it might throw off the bat's powers of echolocation, which were apparently already somewhat compromised.

The bat eventually fell to the floor in the living room--Hubby is unsure whether our guest hit the ceiling fan or one of the dogs managed to knock him out of the air. The bat was stunned, but otherwise unhurt and Hubby scooped him into a Nike box and opened the box on the back deck. So, you know, Santa could fly off to finish his rounds.

Because, obviously, that wasn't just any fuzzy brown bat in my dining room around midnight on Christmas Eve--it was Count Saint Dracuclaus, right?

*Further proof that our bat visitor was, in fact, imbued with mystical powers: when we all recovered enough to return to the table and begin voting, Baby Brother read all the answers out loud and no one voted for the real one because the real one was "In Sterling, Colorado, a cat may not run loose with a tail light." Not only does it make little to no sense, it also sounded suspiciously like someone had gotten interrupted mid-thought by, oh I don't know, a semi-menacing-looking flying mammal. Those three points Baby Brother got for that round didn't have a shiny bow on top, but they sure as hell were a gift.

A PS--This is my second Balderdash-related blog post. You can read the other one here. Pointless aside: for months after that I first posted that one, it had daily double-digit page views from Finland. I'm still not quite sure what to make of that.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sock It To Me

Some time after the Great Sock-Context Debate of 2007, I made the life-altering decision to start wearing men's white crew socks just like Hubby wears and I've been buying them in bulk for both of us ever since.

Now all the white crew socks in the house* belong to both of us, so I can no longer fairly be accused of sock thievery or using one of his socks "out of context."

Hubby has had some trouble adjusting to the concept of "our" socks, though and will still occasionally say, "Someone is stealing my socks again." And I will take great delight in saying, "I can't steal them because they're my socks, too!"

Today, there was a random (dirty) sock in the middle of the entryway floor and Daughter-Only said to her father, "Well, it's yours or Mom's because no one else in the house wears that kind."

Hubby said, "I know it's my sock because it doesn't have any holes it. I also know I didn't leave it there."

At this point, I peeked over the stair railing. "I've got news for you--I've been buying big bags of white crew socks for both of us for a couple of years now so you can stop trying to claim all the socks without holes as your own."

Smirking, Hubby said, "No, all the ones with holes are definitely yours."

"Honey, they all have holes--otherwise, you couldn't get your foot in them. So, they're all mine and I win!"

With that, I triumphantly swooped down, snatched up my dirty sock and flounced off to add it to the pile of my dirty socks.

*Except the six Nike pairs he saves for tennis, which I swear to Federer and Agassi I've never befouled with my foreign feet.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Masked Mom's Media Monday: The Wilder Life: My Adventures In The Lost World Of Little House On The Prairie

"It disturbed her to read biographies of writers she loved; she preferred not to know anything unlovable about them."

As previously mentioned, since childhood I've nursed a low-grade obsession with Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books. I once thought I might qualify as a semi-rabid fan since I had read the travel diaries and collections of letters and other non-fiction writings Laura had left behind, but then I heard about Wendy McClure. McClure, the author The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie, is on a whole other scale of rabid.

McClure so loved the Little House books as a child that, as an adult, she sets off on a quest to not only learn more about the world of the Little House books, but to actually live it (albeit in a very modern and limited context--for example, buying a butter churn on eBay and using it to churn butter in front of a TV playing episodes of the Little House on the Prairie series). She travels around the country to sites significant in the books as well as to sites not included in the books that were significant in the lives of the actual Ingalls family. She is in pursuit of something she cannot exactly name--some essential essence of the Ingalls experience or of Laura herself, though it's never clear (even to McClure) whether it is the fictional or real-life Laura she is most in search of.

She finds out things that she definitely was not expecting--especially about what was added to and left out of the books and about Laura's sometimes thorny relationship with her only child, Rose Wilder Lane. She gets both literally and figuratively lost along the way--taking wrong turns on some of her road trips and finding herself perusing both academic texts about the family and Japanese anime versions of the stories from the books.

She almost lost me along the way, too. There is a part about a third of the way into The Wilder Life, where McClure expresses her all-caps opinion that "LAURA IS NOT A TOMBOY." It is not that I'm terribly attached to the notion of Laura as a tomboy--in fact, I'd never really given much thought to topic at all. Laura definitely was more rough-and-tumble and feisty and generally just out-there-in-the-world than her older sister, the prim and proper Mary, but I don't recall ever thinking of her specifically as a tomboy.

What annoys me is that McClure's vehemence is so over-the-top that it's hard not to think she sees something wrong with anyone ever having been a tomboy. As an unrepentant tomboy, I found it a little difficult not to take that a bit personally. McClure's strident (and, at over two pages, somewhat long-winded) defense of her position made me wonder what issues in her own life were influencing her concern with Laura's perceived femininity or lack thereof.

She almost lost me again with her rant about the columns Laura wrote for the Missouri Ruralist (which were collected in Little House In The Ozarks). While McClure sees the Laura behind those writings as "a know-it-all aunt droning on and on," I've always experienced those pieces as the mental meanderings of a woman who, like most of us, is just trying to figure things out. I had to put down the book for a bit when McClure used one of my favorite quotes from those pieces to illustrate her point, ending her commentary with "I suppose she's got a point there, but zzzz."

The thing about shared obsessions is that even though the object of our obsession is the same, our perception of that object almost never is. Obsessions by their very nature tend to engender in us an almost possessive interest in whatever it is we love and woe be unto anyone who challenges my perception of my beloved.

I am glad I went back to finish the book. In the end, as with most quests, McClure's journey taught her as much about herself and her own life as it did about Laura and the Ingalls family. In reading The Wilder Life, I may have accidentally learned a few things about  myself as well.

Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Informative.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Spiral Notebook Sunday: Wednesday, November 20, 1991

Today is Son-Two's 22nd birthday. And while I find it incredibly tedious that I continue to be so taken aback at the ridiculously rapid passage of time, I nevertheless continue to be taken aback. (Perhaps both the tendency to be taken aback as well as the tendency to be annoyed by it are both symptoms of my ever-rapidly-advancing age?)

So, for today's offering, a brief glimpse into Son-Two's life as an almost 23-month-old--as well as a brief glimpse into my own life as a 23-year-old mother of three children three and under.


Wednesday, November 20, 1991

Today--Son-One came out of his room and said, "Where did Son-Two's Weeble go?" Having just heard the toilet flush, I had a pretty safe assumption where Son-Two's Weeble* had gone. I plunged and poked and prodded and prayed and finally, the toilet was flowing normally again. Alas, we shall never see the Weeble again. But the loss is minor compared to my panicked imaginings of the backyard being dug up to remove the poor, wobbly plastic dude from the sewer pipe.

*For the record: this kind of Weeble:

...as opposed to the similarly-sized, but smooth-sided and infinitely-more-flushable version apparently being produced today:

Of course, for sheer flushability, not to mention choking hazardousness, there was no beating the '70s version, which was similarly egg-shaped and only about a third of the size of the current model.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Snapple Fact #356

Second Niece's Facebook status yesterday was "Snapple Fact #683: Snails have teeth. What????? 0_o"

There followed a goofy exchange in which I told her not to worry because snails couldn't catch her and she asked what would happen if she was asleep and I said: "How can you possibly sleep knowing snails have TEETH?!"

The whole thing reminded me of the time a few years ago when Daughter-Only bought a warm Snapple and stuck it in the freezer for a quick chill before her soccer game. She left without it and several hours later received the following text from her beleagured mother:

Uh. Your Snapple's cold.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Can I Get That In Writing?

"Put things into words and there's no telling when you'll get them out again."
~Carrie Fisher, The Best Awful

"What you fear, if you turn toward it, will give your writing teeth."
~Natalie Goldberg, Old Friend From Far Away

Though I have been keeping my Spiral Notebook Journal for about 28 (!) years now, there have been gaps--sometimes stretching into months and even, in one instance, over a year--where I've written nothing at all. The gaps tend to coincide with big, scary life stuff--capital-F Funks, above average turmoil and upheaval, that kind of thing.

And though the pages are often used to exhaustively analyze the words, actions and emotions of myself and those around me, there are all sorts of things that get put in there much after the fact or not at all. I've thought a lot over the years about why that happens. (I've even written a few extraordinarily navel-gazy entries about the phenomenon.)

Theoretically at least, the journal is private1 and there's no doubt that I use it primarily as free therapy. (It's the only therapy I know for sure will be covered by whatever health insurance I have (or don't have) at any given time.) So there should be no restrictions on what I write there, but clearly there are--and part of the reason has to do with what cdnkaro over at four under 4 (plus two) so succinctly said in her post "Pass" a little while ago: "There's something about the written word that lends significant weight to one's thoughts."

I know this to be true from experience. I need think no further than the enraged ranting entries that have so often made me angrier rather than helped me work through my anger.

And I know it to be true in my gut as well. There is a way in which writing something down--especially something painful or, worse, shameful--makes it more real. For me, it is something that goes beyond just leaving a written record that others--or even some later version of myself--might stumble upon. It is not about evidence, exactly, but about the way in which the written word helps to create the story we tell ourselves about our lives in a much more substantial way than the intangible thoughts that comprise the ongoing narratives in our brains.

While I shy away from writing the biggest, scariest feelings out on paper, I also know that sometimes digging around in them on paper will result in an understanding I might not have achieved otherwise. And, in fact, that light-switch click of insight is one of the primary reasons I've continued to keep a journal for as long as I have. The problem, of course, is that when you're dealing with putting big, scary feelings on paper, there's no way of telling when you begin where you're going to end up.

Lately, I've been thinking about what it means to avoid writing about the things I fear the most. How does that avoidance affect not just my journal writing, but the writing I put out there into the world?2

Natalie Goldberg addresses the issue of fear many times in her various books on writing. In Old Friend From Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir, there is this passage:

This is the beginning: to let out what you have held hidden.

Here's another rule of writing practice: Go for the jugular, for what makes you nervous. Otherwise, you will always be writing around your secrets, like the elephant no one notices in the living room. It's that large animal that makes your living room unique and interesting. Write about it...Get it out and down on the page. If you don't, you'll keep tripping over it.

Goldberg goes on to suggest making a list of all the things you shouldn't write about and then systematically writing for ten minutes about each one. I confess that even though I've worked my way faithfully through many of the other exercises in this book, this is one I've skipped up to now.

But, I'm determined--some day soon, I'm goin' in.

1. At some point, I decided that as long as what I was writing was true to who I was in that moment, I would stand behind whatever it was, embarrassed or not. I wouldn't be happy if, for instance, someone's feelings were hurt by something they read, but I decided that by reading work meant to be private, that was a risk they took. (Full disclosure: I copied and pasted this footnote from a comment I left on an earlier post. So naughty--and lazy.)

2. I also have significant concern for how this avoidance is affecting my overall mental health, but this was a post about writing and I left that concern out. Then, too, as a self-identified writer-type person, my mental health and my writing have been hopelessly entangled for as long as I can remember.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Word Problem

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what are two pictures of words worth?

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Royal Pain

I like to think of myself as a pretty down-to-earth, easy-going individual--at least outside the house. After twenty-four plus years of marriage, Hubby has, of course, seen the darker side and doesn't hesitate to remind me of it every chance he gets.

For example, there was the time a few years ago when, a week or so after being attacked by a demonic weiner dog while I was on a flower delivery, I received a phone call from the Health Department telling me the dog had finished its confinement and did not have rabies. When I got off the phone and said to Hubby, "I don't have rabies." He said, "Well, then, we need to figure out what is wrong with you."

His latest opportunity came courtesy of Ancestry.com. I'm still a little* lost down the rabbit hole of genealogy (and finally reliably able to spell that word correctly on the first try) and Hubby will occasionally stick his head in my computer room door--I assume to see if I have lost consciousness and am maybe drooling on the keyboard.

Over the weekend, he was standing over my shoulder when I discovered that my 19th great-grandfather (and several of his successors, apparently) was the Lord of Deursen in the Netherlands, maybe even before the Netherlands was actually the Netherlands (in the mid-1300s).

Hubby says, "Royalty?"

I say, "Minor-ish Dutch royalty--yes, it appears so."

Hubby says, "That explains the attitude."

*Little may be an understatement. I just calculated that I spent a total of nine hours over the course of the last 30 just trying to untangle the knot of Cranky Ex-Boss Lady's maternal grandmother's family. A knot, which, by the way, began with four different last names and got more complicated from there.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


Part of what I do at the halfway house is the menu planning and grocery shopping. At any given time, I have two residents who are my "pantry guys" who help me keep track of what we need to get, etc. Last year, one of them handed me a scribbled list on a crumpled scrap of paper that said: green peppers, milk, spaghetti sauce, HOPE!

He was a life-long alcoholic in his mid-fifties with thick silvery gray hair and a well-trimmed mustache. He had been a model resident--always doing his share and then some, but that week he was in a little bit of a rough spot, an emotional slump. He was as cranky as I'd ever seen him--surly and even a little snappish when really pushed by the younger guys in the house, which wasn't like him at all.

Later, when he had worked his way back into a better place, we joked about which grocery store aisle exactly you'd have to look in to find hope.

He left the house shortly thereafter and moved into our supportive living program--which provides some structure, but much more independence than the halfway house (I call it a three-quarters-of-the-way house) and did very well there.

He was working in a job he loved, had gotten his driving privileges back, was rebuilding damaged relationships with family and friends. Through it all he maintained his sense of humor, generosity and kindness to others. And though he could be something of a gossip (he knew the doings of all his friends and acquaintances with a precision unmatched by anyone else I've ever met), his interest in other people's lives was genuine and tempered with compassion.

Early Friday morning, we lost him to a cancer that first presented itself as a particularly persistent hoarse throat--for weeks, he thought it was just the lingering effects of a late spring cold.

May it be some comfort to his family that he had two healthy years in which he had gained some measure of peace--and yes, hope--within himself.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Masked Mom's Media Monday: Out Of Oz

I came upon the book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West years ago, completely by accident when Cranky Boss Lady's neighbor lent her a copy. CBL was underwhelmed and made it to page 9 one quiet afternoon at the flower shop before giving up. Knowing my voracious appetite for books of all types, she asked me if I wanted to give it a try before she gave it back to her neighbor.

I was dubious--while I read pretty widely, I venture into the realm of "fantasy" titles only rarely. In addition, at the time the book was being offered the hype around the Broadway musical was at an astronomical pitch and that sort of thing tends to be off-putting to my inner contrarian. But it was a really, really quiet afternoon at the flower shop and I was bored with the book I had brought with me so I gave it a shot.

I kind of don't blame CBL for giving up after the first 9 pages. It's a little slow to start, but somewhere shortly after page 9, something happens, not so much in the story at first, but in the hypnotic rhythms of Maguire's language. I was drawn in--seduced even--by Maguire's voice in that first book, which was unlike any I've ever read.

After Wicked, it was eventually on to Son of a Witch and A Lion Among Men, each of which I read with a growing sense of amazement: Maguire had somehow made me want to  spend time with talking Animals [sic] and well-worn characters like Dorothy and the Good and Wicked Witches. More surprisingly, he made me actively care about their fates.

Finally, finally, finally comes Out of Oz, the final book in the series, released in November. As with all the books in the series, I was so drawn in to the world Maguire has created (on a foundation laid by Frank Baum, of course, and even to some extent to the 1936 movie version of The Wizard of Oz) that it was sometimes hard to drag myself back to the by-comparison-black-and-white reality of my world.

I am not sure what more I can (or should) say about a book for which I was willing to risk not exactly life, but limb, so I will stop my blathering now and just say if you're looking for something to immerse yourself in, give Wicked a try and see where the Yellow Brick Road leads you.

Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Satisfied.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Spiral Notebook Sunday: Tuesday, December 9, 1998

Every year, as December winds down, I try to remind myself that the end of the year and the beginning of a new one are merely numbers on a calendar that itself is just an attempt to break infinity up into comprehensible pieces that our feeble minds can more easily understand. And every year, I'm reminded that while it is an arbitrary designation, it is also an almost irresistible one.


Tuesday, December 29, 1998

I've been thinking about that expression "It's water under the bridge." I've always thought of it as a reminder that we are helpless to change the past and as advice not to let our pasts affect us in the present. That view overlooks the transformative power of water--the ability of water to radically alter (permanently) the landscape it passes over, around, under, through. It's water under the bridge, yes, but each ounce that flows there chips away grains of sand on the bank, rubs pebbles a little smoother, leaves behind minerals it's carried from upstream. Water under the bridge.

I'm beginning this journal in the last week of the last month of the next to last year of the last century of this millennium. It's that taking stock time of year--the stakes a little higher than usual what with all those zeros hovering on the year 2000 now only a teensy bit over a year away.

Taking stock of my life--particularly if my focus is the past few years--is a dangerous activity on some levels. There's such a fine line between "taking stock" and dwelling--taking stock a healthy constructive activity with (hopefully) the healthy outcome of a stronger sense of self (where you're coming from, going to, etc. Which reminds me of a line from a Shaun Cassidy song*: "'Cuz I know where you're coming from and goin' to--I even know exactly what you're gonna do.") and dwelling an obsessive exercise in masochism. Guess which one I'm better at?

*This quote is from "Our Night," which according to the infallible (heh) Wikipedia was written by Carole Bayer Sager and Bruce Roberts. It may or may not have been recorded by someone besides the incomparable Shaun Cassidy, but my only experience with it is from Cassidy's album Under Wraps