Let's go Islanders!
afterthought: it was nice while it lasted.
Let's go Islanders!
afterthought: it was nice while it lasted.
Did you ever suddenly stop in your tracks and say "Holy shit, some day I'm not going to be here anymore!"?
I do that often. It creeps up on me out of nowhere, the realization that someday, I am going to die. And I'm ok with that, really. It's not like I can keep it from happening. But I find myself obsessing about not when I'm going to kick the bucket, but how.
Like most people, I would prefer to die peacefully in my sleep of old age. Ok, I don't want the old age thing if it includes Depends, a full-time nurse and an oxygen tent. I want that kind of sweet old age thing, where we go to bed at 9:00 one night and I take my last breath while dreaming of the wonderful day we just had. Just die right there, in the arms of my husband. Yea, not so great for him. But, hey, I'm dead. It's not my problem that he woke up cuddling a stiff, cold wife. This is my fantasy.
I don't want to go out in a fashion that would get me nominated for a Darwin award. With my luck, I'll somehow get my head stuck in a drain. And I don't want to make the cover of the local paper with a story that will turn into an urban legend someday. Woman killed by line drive at Little League game. Woman falls off table while doing tequila-induced strip tease at her wedding. That sort of thing.
I'm sure dying right after sex, maybe in the throes of an earth-shattering orgasm, would be a fine way to go. My family may never live it down, but the funeral director wouldn't have to worry about getting me to look at peace. With my luck, I'll die that way, but it will be one of those times when I'm wearing the french maid's outfit or a strap-on.
I'd rather not die violently. And who does, except for those people who go to the school of Death by Martyrdom and Explosives? But if I do go out that way, I prefer that it's in a blaze of glory. Maybe saving adorable school children from a burning bus or going down in a hail of gunfire after I try to choke Ashcroft to death.
You could spend all night laying in bed with eyes wide open, devising new and interesting ways to die. You could lay there like me, staring into the dark and imaging your car submerged in a muddy lake, or feeling the burning winds of a nuclear blast or a stun gun mishap at the hands of the FBI. You could dream up a million ways to die, and realize that no amount of planning can keep you from the fate that awaits you. I've heard of cardiac doctors dying of heart attacks. Or twisted fate stories like the health conscious fitness instructor getting hit by a car while jogging. The woman who sruvived a plane crash only to slip in the shower and crack her head open the following week. The man who survived a brain tumor only to be killed by his deranged neighbor over a borrowed lawn mower.
I accept the fact that I will die. I accept the fact that it will probably not be my fantasy death of peace and happiness, just dropping dead one day while I'm 90 years old, reading a comic book in my rocking chair. I just don't want it to be gruesome or embarassing to my family. Maybe I should lay off the tequila at my wedding.
How do you envision your death?
saying it while i can
Life is really fucking good right now.
That is all.
time and space
There's a store tucked away in the corner of the mall. It's now a Suncoast Video, but was a craft store before that and a Christmas store before that. And before that, for many years, it was a restaurant.
I worked in that restaurant for a couple of years. First as a waitress, then a waitress/hostess/bartender and then as the manager. I made good friends there, often hanging out after hours, drinking and sharing stories. I went through the toughest time of my life there, made easier and better through the fun and laughter that work brought me. That place was my home. When the owner (whom I had known since high school when I befriended his daughter) said it was time to retire and close down the restaurant, I cried for days.
I've avoided that part of the mall since. I never went in the craft store or the Christmas store. When I went to the mall, I came in the back entrance so as to avoid the melancholy feeling that welled up in my stomach every time I thought of the restaurant.
Suncoast Video moved into that spot two weeks ago. I didn't know this until Saturday morning when we went to the mall to, among other things, get some DVDs.
I walked hesitantly into the video store. It's hard to describe the feeling that came over me when I saw that the glass block wall was still standing. The structure of the store had not changed at all. The had not knocked down any walls. The cash register counter stood at an angle in the same place the bar used to stand. I walked around the store, almost in a daze. Time and space had collided for me.
See, I believe that every thing, living or inanimate, has an energy to it. A store, a car, a person. And when that person or object moves from one place to another, they leave some of that energy behind. So as I stood there I looked around me and saw not racks of DVDs and action figures, but tables and chairs and the people I used to work with. I could almost hear my name being called from the kitchen. It's as if little ghosts of all the people who passed through the restaurant were still in that place, eating and drinking and cooking.
I've always felt like this. When I stood at the place where Paul Revere once rode his horse or where Walt Whitman wrote a poem or where Mickey Mantle hefted a bat over his shoulder on his way to the plate, I would get a sense of that time, that person. As if parts of the energy from every moment in the history of this planet leaves some cosmic dust trail that never goes away. So if you are in tune to it, you can sense it. You can feel it. You can sit in your mother's living room and feel your dead grandmother sitting next to you, knitting and complaining about the chill in the house. You can walk through your elementary school and almost see your old classmates, like spirits, roaming through the halls. You can stand in the same place you stood in as a child and grab that energy and be that child for a fleeting instant.
Every path I take was walked by someone before me. Every road I drive, every seat I take in a restaurant, everywhere I go, people have been before. People who have left little fragments of their energy scattered about, so that you sometimes get that chill down your spine for no apparent reason, so that you feel like you aren't alone in a room when you are.
If you take the time to be in tune to it, you can soak in it. You can live in the moment and sense the feelings and hear Paul Revere calling out his warning. You can go where you have been before and not even know it, and be overwhelmed by a sudden memory as your own energy grabs onto you.
It's not a theory, it's not a scientfic fact. It's my own way of connecting time and space. It's what I feel connects us with the past, because the past never leaves us. It's here, we just have to look for it.
what the hell am i talking about?
I look worse than I feel. That's all I have to say about that. And for those who asked (but other than that, how was the game?) DJ's team won 17-1. The other team eventually gave up and called the game. They should have given up before that line drive to third smacked me upside the head.
I dreamed last night about a wicked stepmother who flew around on a broom and carried wads of money rolled up in her pockets. There were kids in rolling cars that I was trying to save, and fireworks exploding in the sky, and colors rained down on us all sparkly and glittery, while I tried to save Instant Message conversations with my wicked stepmother so I could have evidence against her when I called the cops. Somehow Bryan Adams and Adam Ant were involved, and the cast of Knots Landing. And golf clubs. I think that hit to the head did more damage than I thought. Weirdest. Dream. Ever.
It's going to be another day of sitting around, listening to the rain and the howling wind and counting the hours until Thursday, when we will be seeing Nick Cave and dining with Chris, and 24 hours after that seeing Spiderman.
It's almost May already, then. Mother's Day is May 12, and it also marks something else for me. It will be mark the three year anniversary of my divorce being finalized. The finalization came on what would have been our 10th wedding anniversary. Put that in your irony hat and smoke it.
I'm thinking of letting my Yahoo email account die a gruesome, lonely death. Between Yahoo's move towards pay accounts, and the 300 pop-up ads that greet me every time I sign in, it deserves to die. So if you could, for the time being, use firstname.lastname@example.org, I would appreciate it. Someday I will figure out how to set up an email account on this domain.
And speaking of deserving a gruesome fate...
And an undeserved fate.
Sorry for the rambling incoherence. It's going to be one of those days. Back to sleep, I go.
Damn, that hurt.
I was at DJ's game, minding my own business when a hard drive to 3rd base came flying at me. Bam! Right in the head, next to my eye. So now I have a slight concussion, a black eye and a swollen, bruised cheek. I look lovely. Straight out of a Lifetime movie. I'll have to spend the next few days facing "how hard did he hit you" jokes, which really aren't funny at all.
So, no party for me tonight. I will be nowhere in public until I have to go to work Monday morning. Hopefully by then I will look somewhat normal. For now, it's another Saturday spent on the couch, being waited on and fussed over and watching cartoons.
bigger and better
I have gained weight. There, I said it. I was told I would probably gain weight while on Paxil, but that's not it. It started before then. It's a combination of a lot of things; complacency, bad eating habits, not enough time in the day to exercise properly and my changing metabolism.
I carry my weight well. I certainly don't look like I did say, three years ago when people kept asking me if I was sick, or even two years ago when I think I looked my best. And I've finally learned to be ok with that.
It's obvious how much my metabolism has changed in the past year. I used to be able to eat what I wanted, when I wanted. I used to be able to get away without exercising too frequently. I used to wear tight clothing and look good in it.
I still had this mentality, until last week, that I could squeeze into my old clothes. Or that I could shop in the same aisles as I used to, buying the same sizes and swearing that this was just a phase and I would fit into these clothes in just a week or two. Shopping was incredibly frustrating. I would try on pants that just recently would have looked great on me, and they only made me feel fat and uncomfortable. I left a store more than once in tears.
I refused to acknowledge that my body has changed. I started exercising every single night. I ate healthy food. I drank tons of water. I starved myself. But still, the weight stayed on. And still, I packed myself into uncomfortable clothes, and shopped for the same old sizes and swore that the weight was coming off.
Well, it wasn't. And it probably isn't.
So last week I went shopping out of necessity. I didn't look at the same old sizes. I moved up to my new size and looked at those numbers only, and when I went into the dressing room to try them on, a transformation happened. I may have gone up a size...or two..or three...but I accepted it. I tried on clothes that actually fit me and felt comfortable instead of living in denial and trying on clothing that depressed me when I couldn't get the pants above my thighs. These clothes not only fit me, but felt good to wear and looked nice. I didn't look like ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag. I looked nice.
Yea, its not a great revelation to realize that you should wear clothes that fit you. But it is a momentous decision to accept that you are no longer a 7 or an 8 or even a 10 and to accept that you probably never will be again. I will still eat healthy and exercise, but I know that this weight is most likely here to stay. I'm ok with that. I am not my dress size. I am not my pants size. If someone wants to judge me by my body fat content, well fuck them.
Welcome to the new me. A few sizes bigger, but still looking good, feeling good and still the same person I was when I wore a size 7. Maybe even happier.
I told the kids that we are getting married. DJ's reaction was, predictably, quotable. Read it here.
My agenda for yesterday didn't quite work out as planned, as my slacking was put off my an avalanche of ASAP work that was dumped on my desk. I did fall asleep rather early, though and I did wake up later and curse the hockey game.
Today's agenda leaves no room for naps. Little League parade, game after that, business to take care of and then the thing I have been looking forward to all damn week: joining up with Baz and MG for a party at Choire's.
I'm scheduled for a tattoo next month and can't seem to make a decision, so head over to my QOD and make the decision for me.
Go say Happy Birthday to Nikki.
Weekend pick: In search of a soul
Get work about 20 minutes late
Spend half an hour drinking coffee and talking to Bonnie
Spend next three hours working on Raising Hell and playing Snood
Take a two hour lunch, consisting of appetizers and tequila
Go back to work and head for office couch
Stay there until 4:30, reading a book
Get home about 5:15, send kids off to their dad's
Put pajamas on
Eat take-out chinese food
Play the Henry Rollins game with Justin
Fall asleep on couch, with hangover, at 7:00
Wake up for third period of hockey game, curse at tv, go back to sleep
And what's in store for your Friday?
Scene: Price Club (Costco)
I'm standing over by the bottled water area. I pick up a case of Poland Springs sports bottles. There's a woman - total stranger - standing next to me, waiting to pick up a case of the same.
her: This is the best water, ever!
her: And I love the nippled bottles!
her: must be the way my mother weaned me.
fell on black days
I try to be the best parent I can. Maybe I try too hard sometimes, because there was a time when I didn't try at all. It haunts me and I don't know how to let it go or make up for it.
Asking my husband to leave our house and end our marriage was probably one of the best days of my life. It wasn't hard, it wasn't sad, because I had thought about it and planned it out for years. When he left, that proverbial weight was lifted off my shoulders. My life was beginning again.
I lived off adrenaline for a while after that. I was elated. I was high. I was free. Best of all, I was able to be myself after many, many years of keeping that person in hiding. I didn't eat or sleep for weeks at a time. I lost a ton of weight. It was like being on a drug.
And then it crashed. After the adrenaline wore off, and the giddiness of finally getting rid of the major source of pain and sadness in my life started to fade, the reality of it all hit me. I had failed. I was getting divorced. We had a broken home. I was alone.
It didn't help that the separation was not sitting well with him. He stalked and harassed and screamed and cried. He followed me and threatened me and made me feel like I was doing something horribly wrong to the kids. He used them against me and told them horrible lies. He twisted words and embellished truths.
I started to feel like it was all my fault. Like I could have made it work somehow, even though he didn't try at all. It was my fault he gambled. It was my fault he was mean and nasty and treated me like dirt. I sunk into a downward spiral of shame and humilation and blame. I had failed.
At the same time, the restaurant I was managing closed when the owner decided to retire. So I was home, unemployed, in the process of a divorce, in the process of drowning in my self-pity.
I barely left the house. Hell, I barely left the bedroom. I slept, I cried, I laid in bed and stared at the ceiling. The kids spent an awful lot of time at my mother's, often sleeping there several nights in a row. Some days I kept them home from school because I did not have the energy nor the inclination to get them ready. When I did send them to school, their clothes were wrinkled, their lunches full of junk food and their homework not done. It was not a coincidence that it was Natalie's worst year in school ever. It was not a coincidence that DJ developed some intestinal problems at about that time. But I was too stuck in my own dark, depressed world to see or care.
I made myself sick. I missed the combined birthday party I had half heartedly planned for them because I couldn't lift my head up off my pillow. My sisters and my mother took over, becoming like parents to them during this time. I don't know what would have happened if I didn't have my family around.
Gone were the days in the park and the nights at the beach and popcorn and videos in the living room. It was me, me, me and my pity and my sorrow and my bleak, desperate world.
Eventually the fog lifted, my friends and family pulling me out of my depression. I met someone who gave me the gift of love. My life started over again. Second stage, new chapter, etc.
But all the subsequent happiness and family life and great times do not make up for what I did to my children during those months. I carry it around with me daily. I look at them and wonder how much damage I inflicted. How much they remember of those days and how it effects them now. I wonder how that horrible year in 3rd grade will come back to haunt Natalie. Or how much of DJ's change in personality was my fault.
I try to make up for it and sometimes I try too hard. I have probably spoiled them since then. I bought them too many things and took them too many places and smothered them with love so often that it started to freak them out. I want to apologize to them, but I don't think they would understand. I want to tell them I'm sorry for neglecting them and I'm sorry for being selfish and uncaring. I don't know how to make it up to them.
I just hope that the effects of those days aren't too far reaching and all I've done since then can override whatever dark clouds settled in their minds during that time.
As parents, we do the best we can do. That's all anyone asks of us. I failed that part of parenting for a while. I didn't do my best. I did my worst. I probably have never admitted this before to anyone. I don't think I have ever spilled it out in detail or been so open about it. But it's time to admit it, and it's time to own up to it and it's time to figure out how I make that up to them, if I can. How do you get time back?
Also, Raising Hell presents it's first contest: Word to Your Mother.
Remember last week when the banks in the northeast were on terror alert? Well, that didn't pan out, so now it's shopping malls and supermarkets. I'm starting to think they really don't know anything and they're making this all up. Wait, I've always thought that.
Enough stuff. I need coffee.
DJ coaches basketball: at Raising Hell
tv turn on
I was asked by a rather closed-minded person at baseball practice yesterday if I was observing TV Turnoff Week. No. I mean, Hell No!
I make no apologies about being a tv addict. I make no excuses for my kids loving the television. And I really don't want to get into a twenty minute discussion with someone about it if that someone cannot accept the fact that not every person thinks the same way. I also will have the urge to put my fist down your throat if you dare hint that I am in some way inferior to you, not as good a parent as you, not worthy of breathing the polluted air around us, if I watch a lot of tv.
If you want to turn off your tv, that's fine. More power to you. If you don't own a tv, that's great, too. That's your prerogative. I admire your staunch stand on the issue. Just don't throw your tv-less ideals at me, ok?
We love tv. And no, I am not going to sit here and pretend that all the tv we watch is educational. Sure, we watch the Discovery Channel and Biography and National Geographic TV. We love that stuff. But we also watch cartoons and sitcoms and the adults in this house watch late night softcore porn on Cinemax and violent movies and infomercials. And sports. We watch a whole lot of sports.
Don't tell me that tv keeps us from reading. We are all readers. We read every single night. Sometimes together, sometimes alone.
Don't tell me that tv keeps us from enjoying time together as a family. We manage to cram plenty of family time into the few hours a day we have together. Yes, we get outside. We play sports. We take walks. We run around. We hike through the local nature preserve. We sit on the lawn and stare at the stars and talk.
We do talk. We talk at dinner, we talk in the morning, we talk at bedtime. We talk while we watch tv. And we listen.
Don't tell me that we are mindless sheep suffering at the hand of advertisers. My kids do not get, nor do they want, everything they see on commercials. We are not name brand whores. We aren't mesmerized by advertising. That's the beauty of a remote control and 140 channels. Commercial comes on, we switch to another hockey game, another news channel and yes, another cartoon.
We like entertainment. Not every moment in our lives needs to be a learning experience. Sometimes we want to watch something for fun. Sometimes we want to just sit in front of the tv and stare glassy eyed at music videos as we let a rough day slip away. Not every moment in our lives is structured and organized and divided into neat compartments where each moment is an experience that will somehow shape our future.
It's not like I'm letting the kids watch programs that aren't meant for children. And it's not like Justin and I spend our Saturday nights watching a Tom Green/Pauly Shore marathon. We do have some standards in our tv watching.
I will not turn off my tv. I most certainly will not turn off my tv during the NHL playoffs. I will not give up the Weather Channel and Spongebob and Six Feet Under. They bring me enjoyment. Why does it matter so much to you what the source of my enjoyment is?
You can turn off your tv. You can throw your tv out for all I care. Good for you. As long as you don't preach to me that going tv-less makes you a better person than me, you can talk to me about it all you want. The minute you tell me that (even though you were fucking your neighbor while your husband was on a business trip) you are a better mother/person than me, or that your family (even though your son was expelled twice for punching a girl) is better than mine or that your home life (remember when the cops came to your house after your husband fired that gun at your dog?) is nicer than mine because you turned your tv off for one whole week out of the year, that's when I stop caring what you have to say on the subject.
email. Yes. I owe a ton of email. If you have written me in the past two weeks and have yet to hear from me, I apologize profusely. Return emails coming.
Still tired. Still cranky. But it's payday (and cost of living increase day...woohoo an extra dollar in my check!) and the Islanders won their first playoff game in 7 years last night. More on that later. Meanwhile, DJ is going to the game tonight and I cannot find orange hair dye/hair paint anywhere.
Found out yesterday that our school district is letting 7 teachers from each elementary school go at the end of the year and that they are cutting sports from the middle school next year. Yet the administration builds themselves state-of-the-art offices. More on this later, too. I'm too aggravated right now.
Site of the day: adampsyche
This is my daily plug for Raising Hell. Thank you.
and the day just goes on and on....
Did you ever fall asleep at your desk? And then you wake up and realize that you had been dead asleep sitting up and you wonder if you drooled or talked in your sleep and if you did, did anyone notice?
I dropped a paper clip in my coffee and fished it out with a pen that leaked black ink into my cup. I stapled my sweater to a piece of paper, not on purpose, and not for the first time. I got a pretzel stuck in my throat and started coughing up my insides. I emailed my sister to tell her I needed water and wrote cocking instead of choking. She still hasn't replied. That black ink from the pen made it's way to my forehead somehow. Maybe when I was rubbing it after banging it on the mircrowave door. My sweater, I just discovered, is inside out. Maybe I should go check the mirror and see if their is a booger hanging out of my nose. I mean, could it get much worse than this? Do I have toilet paper on the bottom of my shoe? Is my fly open?
Is it bedtime yet?
Thanks to everyone who linked to and/or read Raising Hell yesterday. We had a stellar debut. It is already number one on Google for raising hell - after one day in existence. Now you're all going to check it daily for updates, right? RIGHT? Good.
So last night I dreamed about earthquakes and fire. I was in an enormous building and I had to find the kids and then help them down this steep embankment made out of stone so we could get away from the building before it exploded. When we finally made it to safety, a man in a hideous mask came to me and said "You really need to sleep better. We're tired of putting on these hellish dreams for you. Take something, ok?"
You ever have one of those days where you wake up and your first thought is how many hours it is until you can go back to bed? I am utterly completely and thoroughly exhausted. Mentally, physically, every which way. It's not a bad kind of exhausted where I want to go hide under the bed, away from the world. Life is just busy. I am not sleeping well. My dreams are back full force, I am waking up tired all the time and when I do sleep, it's in fits and starts and I toss and turn. All I can think about right now is getting back into bed and sleeping for two weeks straight. But, duty calls. Work, baseball practice, etc. I'm not complaining, mind you. My life is busy because I like it that way.
If I slept better, it wouldn't be so bad. If I slept better, I wouldn't wake at 4:30 in the morning and roll out of bed because I know there's no use in trying to get back to sleep. And if I didn't get up at 4:30 in the morning, I wouldn't be so exhausted by 9pm that I could fall asleep doing laundry. It's a vicious cycle.
So anyhow, this was all about saying that I don't have the mind power to write anything in this space today, at least not right now. It just took me three paragraphs to do it.
Is it bedtime yet?
Scene: Burker King drive-through:
Me: Quick, what does everyone want?
Nat: Mom, you have to cluck!
Me: Cluck? What?
DJ: Yea, if you cluck you get fifty cents off of a chicken whopper!
Me: I don't want a chicken whopper.
Nat: I do! I do!
Me: Then you cluck!
Nat: Cluck! Cluck!
DJ: Moo! Moooo!
Me: Moo? What the heck is that?
DJ: I want a burger. Can I get fifty cents off if I moo?
Me: It's worth a try.
Nat: Mom, you gotta make a noise for your meal too!
Me: I'm getting a veggie burger. What kind of noise would I make for that?
DJ: You know, Jolly Green Giant. Vegetables!
Kid at intercom: Can I interest you in trying Kentuck Fried Chicken today instead?
Raising Hell, indeed.
I'll let you in on a secret. I've been working on a project for a long time. And today is launch day.
I present to you, Raising Hell.
Raising Hell is a parenting blog, but it's not. It's all the stuff parenting magazines don't cover. It's the stuff that makes parenting fun. It's embarassing stories and fart jokes and birthday parties from hell. It's me and Melly, Mig and Pat, and designed by Sheila. Intrigued yet?
In Mig's words: Raising Hell is a new perspective on family life. If Erma Bombeck and Ozzie Osbourne had a bastard child and added caffeine, it would look a lot like Raising Hell. Raising Hell looks like a typewriter and sounds like a lawnmower. Raising Hell is red meat at a vegetarian restaurant. It's the dispeptic hippopotamus at the tea party. Raising Hell is about finding love and beauty in chaos and panic. Raising Hell: a new genre of parenting.
Read it, love it, link it please!
the wedding party
I'm getting married.
I know I've mentioned this before, but not quite in such definite terms. I'm getting married.
We had talked about an August wedding, most likely for my birthday on the 25th. It would be a very quite thing, with one of the Judges I work for performing the ceremony in his courtroom, and then afterwards we would go out to dinner with my immediate family only. It's not a big deal, really. We have been living together almost three years. The wedding would just be a confirmation of our love, and any legal/binding mumbo jumbo is for the kids' sake. Because stepfather sounds so much better than my mom's boyfriend.
Ok, there's more to it than that. It's all about the love and commitment. But still, neither of us wanted to make a big deal out of it, party wise. I've already done the whole big wedding thing, and we know how that worked out. And Justin would rather have something subdued. Also, my baby sister is getting married next year, and I don't want to step on her toes, so to speak.
So I've been pretty vague about the whole thing. I mentioned it to my other sister once and she insisted that we should have a nice little affair, with food and drinks and a few close relatives. In my family, you can't have a few close relatives at a party. Aunt, uncles and first cousins alone amount to about 100 people. And that's just the relatives that live in the same town as us.
So I'm arguing with my other sister about this. She thinks it calls for a party. I was thinking more like taking the family to Taco Bell afterwards. She thinks we should invite a whole bunch of people. Justin thinks we shouldn't even invite his mother. She's thinking backyard wedding with flowers and a canopy. I'm thinking of using the courtroom where where they arraign murderers and drunk drivers.
I know who is going to win this one. No matter what I say, she will go ahead and plan the whole thing without me. It will be her gift to us. She means well, I know this. But personally, I'd rather not have people at my wedding who have, shall we say, spoken ill of this relationship.
Then again, a party is a party. Maybe if there's enough tequila and the music selection calls for a mosh pit instead of the Electric Slide and I give her a list of some bloggers I want to invite, it won't be so bad. Either way, the end justifies the means. Party or no party, cousins or no cousins, Taco Bell or not, I will be married by the end of the day. That's all that really matters. And I could think of worse ways to spend my 40th birthday.
So, August 25. I turn 40, I get married. I may or may not be dancing on a picnic table in my sister's backyard.
my sentiments exactly
An interview with one of my favorite authors, Phillip Pullman.
"I know full well that the total amount of the things I know is a tiny little pinprick of light compared with the vast unlimited darkness that surrounds it – which is all the things I don't know. I don't know more than a tiny fragment of what it's possible to know about this world. As for what goes on outside it in the rest of the universe, it's a vast darkness full of things that I don't know. Now, somewhere in the things that I don't know, there may be a God.
But if we come down – like coming close up with a camera – getting closer and closer to this little pinprick of light, so that it begins to expand and gets bigger and bigger until we find ourselves inside it... I can see no evidence in that circle of things I do know, in history, or in science or anywhere else, no evidence of the existence of God.
So I'm caught between the words 'atheistic' and 'agnostic'. I've got no evidence whatever for believing in a God. But I know that all the things I do know are very small compared with the things that I don't know. So maybe there is a God out there. All I know is that if there is, he hasn't shown himself on earth. "
If you haven't already, read the His Dark Materials Trilogy:
spikes and streaks
My father took DJ for a haircut on Thursday. It's one of those bonding rituals that they have. Every three weeks, whether he needs it or not.
So Thursday they come home from the hair place and pull into the driveway and there's DJ in my dad's little BMW convertible, looking like the coolest kid on the block with that...spiked up haircut? And....what the hell? Is it pink? Maroon? Red?
DJ gets out of the car and has this huge grin on his face. As he comes closer I can see better. Yes, the hair is dyed (temporarily). It's been sculpted and gelled so the front part is sticking straight up. It's some hideous shade of red. The rest of his hair is close cropped and the top part is also dyed. DJ is giving me the thumbs up. I'm not letting on that I think it looks great or that I don't care what color his hair his because frankly, I'm stunned that my father had something to do with this.
When I was in seventh grade, I decided I wanted red hair. Or at least streaks. I followed my cousin's instructions and put a combination of peroxide, lemon juice and Sun-In through my black hair. And then I went outside and sat in the sun for a few hours. Voila! I had red hair. Well, maybe more like orange. Brownish-orange even. Whatever it was, it was no longer black.
We sat down for dinner that night and my father noticed my hair. How could he not? He was pissed. He went into this long, disturbing rant about the hair color that he gave me, and why wasn't that good enough for me, why did I have to change what was given to me at birth and I stared at him incredulously because I had no idea he was so proprietary over his DNA. He grounded me. For coloring my hair when I was 13 years old, I got grounded.
So here he is with my nine year old son, grinning like a little schoolboy and saying isn't it great? Doesn't he look cool? And then They have the blue color that Natalie wants, maybe I'll take her tomorrow. And then I told him when this color comes out he can get it dyed with blue and orange streaks for the Islanders. Amazing. I was always told that grandparents acted differently with their grandchildren than with their own kids, but I certainly wasn't expecting this.
So it's time for DJ's baseball game. Keep in mind that it's 90 degrees out. DJ gets up, puts his helmet on, and hits one to the outfield. He runs the bases, ends up on second. The next batter sends him home. He crosses the plate, takes off his helmet and there's red streaks of sweat running down his forehead. The dye is apparently more temporary than my dad thought. Everyone looks at him as the stripes of reddish brownish maroon streak his face. I'm waiting for the jokes. I'm waiting for him to hide. But no. All the kids want to know is where he got his hair dyed. And how cool it looks. DJ grins at me from his red streaked face.
I'll be going to the store today to get his blue and orange hair paint, as they call it. I told my dad I was thinking of getting a few purple streaks in my hair myself. He told me he would ground me if I did.
It was Bonnie's birthday and we went to lunch at the Mexican place and we had margaritas and shots of tequila and they made her wear a sombrero and they sang happy birthday in spanish and we danced with the waiter to some salsa song and i swore i would never have a liquid lunch again but it was bonnie's birthday and i couldn't let her drink alone, could i, and now im stuck at work because i can't really drive home until later and have i told you all how much i love you?
oh yea, and bonnie has the longest tongue i've ever seen. she could really make some girl very happy.
It's been a little over a month since I started taking Paxil.
I went into this with no expectations except negative ones. I thought I would have to sacrifice certain parts of me in order to make the bad parts go away. I was afraid to lose my edge, or my ability to form creative thoughts. I was afraid of becoming a zombie. An anxiety free zombie. What a trade-off.
Now, a month and a week later, I've passed those hurdles. At first I was zoned out, I felt stoned all the time and I had a multitude of side effects. The most disturbing thing was I felt complacent. But, like many people told me, that phase passed. And here I am.
I am free of anxiety attacks. No more sitting on my couch or in my car gasping for air and thinking that I am going to die on the spot.
I no longer wake up at night choking, thinking my throat has closed up, unable to breathe. I sleep soundly. I sleep better and longer. I still have wicked dreams and nightmares, but that's ok.
I no longer live my life in a rush. Observations from other people: I walk slower. I take my time. I talk slower. I have more patience. I don't lose my temper as often. I'm not as quick to be argumentive or defensive.
My passive/aggressive behavior is gone. I don't pick fights and then cry that people are always fighting with me. I don't cry at the drop of a hat. I don't prolong arguments or engage in screaming matches for no reason.
I don't feel the need to drive like a maniac. I'm not in that big of a rush anymore. I don't curse at other drivers or cut people off in my infinite need to get anywhere as quickly as possible.
I don't worry as much. Before, I worried about everything, including worrying. I am not constantly in a state of panic. I don't become frantic over every little thing. The world is not going to end because I can't find the cover to the soda. I know that now.
I can make decisions. Instead of contemplating every single possible tangent and outcome and eventuality when faced with a decision, I just make it. I no longer stand in the bread aisle at the supermarket for twenty minutes while debating whole wheat vs. white. The kids come to me with a question or request and I am no longer wishy-washy. I make a decision and I stick to it. I follow through on things. I complete my work one project at a time without feeling the need to do 50 things at once.
The side effects have waned. I no longer feel like I'm in a trance. As a matter of fact, I feel more alive than I have in years. The aches and pains I felt at first are gone. The urge to sleep all day and night is finally abating. The only thing left is the jaw clenching, but I'll deal with that. It's a good trade-off.
I like to think that I still have my edge, though it's somewhat refined now. I like to think that I am still creative, that I can still form coherent thoughts and put them into words. I like to think that I'm still snarky or funny at times and that I haven't mellowed enough to be complacent. I like to think that this site hasn't changed much, that my rants and writing are still what they were before March 12, but without so much simmering anger and bitterness. While those traits may have made for good posts, they were poisoning my soul.
Things are different now, but the world around me is still the same. I'll always have something to be angry or bitter about. I just won't let it consume me anymore.
Yes, things have changed. I like it.
I haven't done the stuff thing all week, so pardon me while I empty my bookmarks and tear down my post-its.
First, Happy one-day-late birthday to MG.
Meanwhile, we're now killing Canadians as well as Americans with friendly fire, yet the reason we are in this war, Ol' Dirty Laden (remember him?) is still on the run, and we probably never knew where he was anyhow.
Robert Blake was arrested for his wife's murder. Think there's anyone who is surprised by that?
The planets are in alignment. It's a beautiful thing to see, but it makes me think of a fortune teller I went to when I was in high school. She said that one day in the future, when the planets were aligned, I will stumble upon a great secret that will have a great effect on world events. Sure, I laughed at her then. But now, I'm thinking that I'll find bin Laden hiding under my desk at work.
Site pick of the weekend: dogmaticMe.
To blow or not to blow, that is the question.
For the record, I voted "hell yes."
I should have read the fine print in my job description. Apparently part of my job is laughing at bad jokes and puns, and answering questions that should remain rhetorical, or unasked.
Working hard or hardly working?
hahahahhahaha, hardly working!
Hot enough for you?
hahaha, this weather is crazy!
How do you make a tissue dance?
Gee, I don't know, sir, how do you make a tissue dance?
Put a little boogie in it!
hahahha, I never heard that before. No, really.
Are you going to watch the Islander game tonight?
Get the puck out of here, so am I!
Puck. Hahaha, that's a good one. Yea.
Why isn't your sister in today?
She broke her toe.
Oh, did she call a toe truck?
Hahahahaha! Toe truck! You slay me!
Hey, hey, listen to what I just made up: Bush + Dick = Fucked!
Yea, umm....that was funny when I first heard it about two years ago.
I mean...hahahha, you're a comic genius. You should have your own show. You're like the David Letterman of the courthouse, you're....
You can stop now.
No, stop kissing up.
Actually, that was sarcasm.
Excellent. I'll start packing.
Oh, that reminds me of a few jokes.........
I'll make coffee.
I decided to fight fire with fire. Tonight, I am going to brush up on my puns. I'm going to have my father write out every single bad joke he ever told us. I am going to kill them with their own lame sense of humor. Just watch.
the horror! (contest included)
I dreamed last night that I was in a horror movie. It was a combination of every horror movie I have ever seen, which is a whole heck of a lot.
My love for gory, scary movies was honed at an early age. My mother took me to see Asylum when I was ten years old and I was hooked. When I got older, I would stay up all night sometimes, scanning the channels for late-night, early-morning horror movies on tv. Weekends were the best. Some stations used Saturday afternoons to show nothing but low budget scary movies. And weekday afternoons always brought at least one Vincent Price movie a week.
One Halloween, we caught a double feature of Last House on the Left and I Spit on Your Grave. Two of my friends left the theater at some point, unable to take the sinister undertones of Last House. Another left during Grave, completely shaken by one particular scene in the movie. We stayed in the theater for the midnight showing of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and then went home and spent all night watching badly acted, badly titled gorefests that we took home from the video store we worked in at the time.
Did you ever notice most classic horror movies start off the same way? Teenagers lost on back roads, usually made of dirt, a wrong turn into the woods, arrival at an old house. The house is either abandoned, but inhabited by the spirits of the people who were murdered there at some point, or it is home to a deranged family. Blood, guts and bodies falling from the ceiling ensue. One person out of the original group, usually the best looking girl, is left standing at the end. Just when you think the movie is over, something happens - a moving hand, a voice from the closet, an evil wind - that lets you know this isn't over. A horror movie has not done its job unless you leave the theater wondering what happened next. And you look over your shoulder on the way home.
I think they stopped making them so gory after a while. Frights became psychological at some point. Directors tried to scare you with thought instead of lifeless heads and shooting blood. And of course, the false scares. They messed with your mind. In a way, the mental fright is just as scary as the visual fright, but I still prefer blood and guts. I don't like people messing with my head. Which is why films like Rosemary's Baby or Nightmare on Elm Street scared me, while Evil Dead (my favorite horror movie) was scary in a more entertaining way. Cemetery Man had it all. Horror and gore in a really smart movie that made you think.
I haven't seen a good horror movie in a long time. The first Friday the 13th was the only one in the series I enjoyed. Jason X came out last year, I think, or maybe it's coming to theaters this year, but I won't bother. I don't trust anything that bills itself as a horror movie now. Pitch Black was awful. Jeepers Creepers was the worst movie I ever saw. The only thing that has come close to good psychological thrills was Event Horizon, and that movie was so evil that I will not allow it to be played in my home ever again.
So you were all so good at recommending books, that I'm going to ask you to suggest some horror movies I might have missed. Something that will scare me, disgust me or make me sleep with the lights on at night. Ok, I sleep with the light on anyhow. But you know what I mean. First person to suggest any of the Scream movies gets sporked to death.
I'm going to take your suggestions and watch as many as I can this weekend. Then Justin and I will decide on the best one (that we haven't already seen) and the person that suggested it will win a DVD of Tromeo and Juliet. Go on, scare me!
Seen on a sign outside of a church today:
Thank you for not sinning!
I wonder who they were referring to.
the spring of summer
Summer came early. It wasn't supposed to arrive for another two months or so, but there it was yesterday, dropping in like an unwanted relative. I like everything the summer brings with it, but I just wish it came with less stifling baggage. I wonder if it's here to stay, or if it's just dropping in with a preview of what it's going to make us suffer through later on when it packs humidity for it's stay.
So even though it was only April 16, we did summer things yesterday. We waited for the ice cream man and wore shorts and let the grass tickle our bare feet. We took out the Supersoakers and chased and ambushed each other until our clothes were dripping. We sat outside when dark came, looking at stars and inhaling the fresh, warm air. No jackets, no sweaters, just us laying back on the soft grass and staring into space.
There are negative connotations to this early heat. I think about global warming, about mad scientists messing with the natural weather cycle of the earth. I think about drought and brush fires. I think about the many bad hair days that lie ahead, when the humidity makes everything that has any life to it droop like death approaches. The dueling ice-cream men who circle the block like vultures, sweaty children with limp, folded dollar bills their prey.
I'll take all that because of the trade-offs. The beach at night. The end of school. Little League season and Yankee games. Hockey playoffs. Lazy nights. Driving with all the windows down and obnoxiously loud music making my rear-view mirror shake. Summer rainstorms with thunder and lightning and instant downpours. Walking to the Italian Ice stand. Barbecues. The sound of kids in the pool.
I have to keep reminding myself that it's only April. That even though it's 5 in the morning and 65 degrees, it's not summer yet. We could still get a late spring snowstorm, the way the weather has been working lately. I'm not putting the jackets away just yet. The sweatshirts are still sitting in the drawers. This crazy, uninvited visit by summer is not going to fool me into thinking that we can take the cover off the pool or drag the bathing suits out of storage.
It's sure nice to live out of season for a few days, though. Water gun fight, anyone?
looking for bloggers in all the wrong places
And D has a fantabulous new design.
Also, all the details of Nancy and Cynthia's wedding, and then some.
And it was 90 fucking degrees in New York on April 16th. Let me be the first to remind people that hot weather clothing is a privilege, not a right. Use it carefully. I'm carrying a camera.
This has been a public service announcement.
like oprah's book club, but not
I read at an early age. I didn't confine myself to books. I read cereal boxes and street signs and instruction manuals. Anything that had letters on it was my domain. To this day, I still read license plates as if they were words. I read road signs even though I already know what they say.
So suffice it to say that while most kids had this fantasy about being let loose in a toy store, my fantasy that one day I would be sitting in the corner of my favorite bookstore and the store would close and they would forget I was in there. And then I would get to spend the whole night in the bookstore, reading and browsing and being thrilled by the intoxicating smell of new books. I still think about that. A bookstore is still my favorite place in the world.
Aldo has his primer on how to shop in a bookstore (4/15 entry), but I think that's more for bookstore novices, for people who are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of paperbacks and hardcovers and sundry other paraphernalia. Me, I let my book sense take me through the store.
Yesterday, it failed me. For the first time.
I couldn't find anything that thrilled me. Maybe it was the mood I was in. Maybe it was the puppet show going on in the back of the store. Maybe I was a little pissed off that this particular book store's graphic novel section featured nothing but Star Wars books. I don't know. I just wandered aimlessly through the store, picking things up and putting them down and listening in on other people's conversations.
You know, that Byron dude.
Wasn't Beowulf a character on The Simpsons?
Mom, I think Casey just puked in the religion section.
Martha Stewart makes me hot.
I ended up in the children's section. I looked through the picture books and the shelves full of series for young readers, beginning readers, intermediate readers, readers who only like books with fart jokes, readers who only like books with creepy monsters. I picked up a book about the American Revolution for DJ. He only reads non-fiction. And books with fart jokes.
I spent the rest of my lunch hour wandering through the aisles, trying to find something that would jump off the shelf and into my arms and scream "Read me!" It never happened. I found a Henry Rollins book that Justin could add to his collection. I picked up book on creative writing for Natalie. I got a copy of Harold and the Purple Crayon for my nephew because he looks just like him.
Nothing for me. I can't trust my book sense anymore. It led me nowhere. I need something to read. I need a book that will grip me enough so that I won't want to put it down. I'll call in sick and ignore the laundry and forget to feed my children because this book is that good. That's what I'm looking for. It could be fiction or non-fiction, horror or fantasy or prose or epic poetry. It could have women or men or children or ghosts. I'm not picky. I just want it to be great.
So, what are you reading? Use the comments. Recommend something. Praise a book. Tell me about an author. Give me something to sink my reading teeth into. My book sense thanks you in advance.
revenge of the 9 year old
We got off to a bad start today. Everyone woke up too early and in a bad mood. I've felt all day as if there were something in the air, something just hanging there, making us all act like we're on crack.
This morning, the house was in chaos. No one could find what we needed. The bread was stale. The shoes were missing. The cereal was soggy. And Natalie was crankier than normal. Which is to say, a whole shitload of crankiness was being dealt out to the rest of us. At one point she hit DJ for no apparent reason. I stepped in but DJ told me he could fight his own battles. "When you least expect it," he sneered at her, "I will get even with you." She stuck her tongue at him and slammed the door on her way out to the bus stop.
Ten minutes later, DJ and I are walking across the street to my mother's house. Natalie's bus is coming down the block, right on schedule. She always sits in the same place, driver's side second seat, and we give her a casual glance when the bus passes by the house in the morning because we have been warned to never, ever wave to her. She has this coolness to maintain. A reputation. An icy cold deference towards her family that every pre teen girl needs to show.
So here comes the bus and I'm making sure to look but not look and maybe nod but not wave at her but as I look up at her window seat all I see is a look of horror on her face. Her friends are gathered at the window, hysterical laughing. The bus is stopped at the corner stop sign and Natalie is screaming out the window "I HATE YOU DJ!" I turn to look at DJ and he is standing there on the sidewalk, pants around his ankles, back to the bus, Spiderman smiling at Natalie's school friends from the back of DJ's underwear. Hey, at least he kept those on. It could have been much, much worse.
We are admitting DJ into the witness protection program when he gets home from school. Never underestimate the wrath of an embarrassed 12 year old girl.
I know this couple.
The man has a tendency to ramble on to me about his wife. These tirades are always unsolicited. I never ask him how he's doing, how she's doing, how their marriage is. He just goes off on the subject whenever he finds a space to fit it in. He's looking for answer that I don't have or a shoulder that I don't want to give. Sometimes, he is just looking to spit his venom at the nearest victim. I will respond to him once in a while, but in vague terms, never really pointing the finger one way or another. The only way to end one of these instances is to say something. Anything. As soon as I can find an opening, insert some words and walk away.
Recently, he cornered me again. He was making fun of her, laughing at her, calling her all kinds of things. I didn't want to listen but unfortunately, I was a captive audience. His wife is not a friend of mine, but I do have occassional contact with her and I'd rather not be on one end of the phone imagining all sorts of terrible things about her while she is trying to make small talk with me. I felt for a while as if I was poisoned against her. So I listened with half a mind, the other half of my mind wandering through the rest of my day, planning out dinner and dessert.
At some point I noticed he stopped talking. He was waiting. He wanted answers. I retraced his words with the half of mind that listened to him. He was drumming his fingers on the desk. Well? What's your thoughts on that?
He had asked about mothers. Why some young mothers feel like they have to do it all. Why they struggle to balance and juggle and never ask for help and then complain in the dark of the night that no one helps them. I told him all mothers, in some way, have a super mom syndrome. I was being vague. I was reciting mumbo jumbo I heard on Oprah or Sally Jessy or some infomercial for super power pep pills. His phone rang. My cue to get the hell out of there.
Three days later I get a phone call. It's the wife.
"Do we have a problem, me and you?"
Silence on my part. I'm struck dumb.
"Well, do we? Because I am really at a loss as to why you would talk about me. I am feeling rather angered that you chose to lecture my husband on my behavior."
"I really don't know what you're talking about." Well I did, but I didn't. Entirely.
"I am confused. I don't know why you think you know me well enough to talk about me. It makes me feel hurt."
Obviously she's been reading one of those books. How to Talk so your Children Will Listen. How to Talk so it Doesn't Appear that you are Being Accusatory When you Really Are. The books that teach you to speak from the I.
"Listen, I'm not sure what you are talking about. I never lectured your husband about you. Honestly. There must be a misunderstanding."
"No. No misunderstanding. I feel betrayed. I feel angry. I don't like it when people speak about me when I'm not there to defend myself."
I, I, I. Take your I's and stick them up your ass lady. Something about people who start every sentence with I that irks me. Also, she seemed to be reading from a script.
I hear her husband in the background. I can't be sure, but I think he's egging her on. She continues to go off on me, accusing me of sabotage, backstabbing and the downfall of western civilization.
I tell her to call me back when she feels like she can talk to me in a civil manner. What I don't say is, maybe you should ask your husband why he feels the need to talk about you all the time. Maybe you should say what's really on your mind instead of reading passages from a self-help book. Maybe you two should be hashing your problems out in counseling instead of drive-by ambushing an innocent bystander.
I ask to speak to the husband. He gets on the phone and I tell him in no uncertain terms that he should never drag me into his marital discord again. That I no longer want to hear anything he has to say of a personal nature. That I am really very angry that he pulled me into this argument to begin with. Yes, I was guilty of speaking from the I. But I was sort of using those I's as daggers.
He doesn't apologize. Instead he blames her, says she is crazy and a madwoman and misconstrued everything he said. I explain that my name should have never come up to begin with. He stammers excuses, she is in the background yelling and he is calling her names. I hang up.
Two hours later she calls again. Again, with the I's. I was reacting to my emotions. I was hasty. I was judgmental. I was hurt, angry, sad, confused. I. I. I. I. But never, outright, I am sorry. Not from either of them. I'm sure they never say they are sorry to each other, so I don't expect them to say it to me. I hang up, once again and sit at my desk in silence for a few moments.
I wonder what is going on in their house at that instant. I wonder how often it happens like this, with him accusing and her defending and there never being any middle ground. I wonder if they love each other at all, or if they will just go on like this until one of them breaks the cycle by leaving. Or worse.
It's not my business, really. But then why do I feel so sad about it?
The back is feeling a bit better, thank you. For those of you who are dying of curiosity as to how I suffered this injury, the title of yesterday's post may give you a clue. Batman and Robin costumes were not a part of the scenario, thank you. Spiderman and Mary Jane, perhaps.
I spent yesterday on the couch like I said I would, watching Traffic, Blow, ten Spongebob episodes and Akira. I fell into a codeine-induced sleep and dreamed about a post-apacolyptic world where sponges rode motorcycles while running drugs for giant gods. I then had another dream where Tom Cruise was trying to throw me off of a balcony. At some point the dream swtiched to a prehistoric setting, and I was a dinosaur hunter. Something like Crocodile Hunter, but more dangerous. Nothing like Vlasic Park.
bending over backwards
I am currently on the DL. I hurt my back in a pretty bad way last night, please don't ask how, and I am out of commission for the rest of the day.
Couch, codeine and cable tv. That's the rest of my Sunday. Enjoy yours.
We saw Lord of the Rings last night. Finally. Three word review: Best. Film. Ever. This surpasses Empire Strikes Back, which has held onto my BestFilmEver title since oh, forever and a day.
Which brings me back to my destiny. I know what it is now. I was meant to go on a great quest. That is my calling.
When I was about three years old, someone told me that pirates once walked the shores of Long Island, searching for buried treasure. So I took my mother's spoons and headed out for the backyard where I proceeded to dig about a zillion holes in the ground searching for gold doubloons.
When I was five, I was told that Indians once lived on the very ground I stood on. So I took my mother's spoons and proceeded to dig up the backyard again, searching for arrowheads. I imagined that I was a fearless explorer, searching for remnants of past civilizations. I would be on the cover of National Geographic magazine some day.
When I was seven, I read books about magic kingdoms and dragons and worlds that existed inside of mountains. I dreamed of being small enough to fit into a mousehole and discovering whole new worlds that existed under the ground. I wrote tales of knightly quests and brave princesses and ogres and mean Kings.
When I was ten, I read books about magic coins and wishing wells and mystical wardrobes and I imagined that I would find one of these coins, and wish myself away to fantastic journeys, or ride the back of a lion on my way to save the world.
When I was twelve, I became obsessed with mythology. I daydreamed often of a world of gods and goddesses with the powers of the universe in their hands. I put myself in their world, helping them fight off evil. Sometimes I was evil and I would cast a lightning rod at my enemies here on earth.
When I was fourteen, my mother subscribed to a magazine called Man, Myth and Magic. I read every issue from cover to cover and back again. Dark magic inspired me as much as good magic. I read tales of ancient civilizations and dark powers and voodoo and cultures where quests were a way of life.
When I was older, and had my first computers (a Vic20 and a C64), I spent hours and days and weeks playing text adventure games. I traveled through exotic worlds and dark caverns. I met trolls and ogres and witches and carried secret weapons and magical words with me. I slayed dragons and defeated dark creatures.
In my heart, even as an adult, I wished these adventures could be real. I never stopped dreaming about magical quests. I never stopped wishing that wizards and ogres and were real. I never stopped dreaming that one day I would be crossing a bridge and a talking troll would be underneath. I never stopped exploring the woods for elves and hobbits.
Some day, I am going to go on a quest. I am going to slay a dragon. I am going to save a kingdom. I am going to find a ring or befriend an elf or decipher a treasure map.
Until then, I'll be playing Zork.
thanks to empty-handed for that infocom link
At 11:00 am today in Miami, Florida, two wonderful people will join together in love and commitment. Congratulations and best of luck to Nancy and Cynthia. May your lives together be full of the joy that you bring to others. (Go here to leave them a congratulatory message.)
There are weddings that speak of love and wonderful things ahead and then there are weddings that could only be a sign of Armageddon. I keep having this vision that when Pamela Anderson says "I do" to Kid Rock, the mountains will start to crumble and the seas will start to boil.
I want to publicly thank Jonno for making a tiresome, frustrating week have a good ending. From New Orleans came a package containing two Dreamcast games, a Spongebob air freshener and free tickets to see Helle's Belles, which means I would have to get to New Orleans by the end of the month to use them. You have no idea how good that sounds right now. Unfortunately, I don't get a vacation until July. But New Orleans does sound wonderful. Thanks for making my day, Jonno. You rule.
Congrats to the Shellens, who welcomed baby Drew into the world on April 11th.
So I got some email asking me why I have been so quiet on the whole Middle East situation when I used to talk about politics constantly. So, in a nutshell: Arafat is insane, Israel has as much right to fight against terrorism (yes, terrorism) as we do, this current U.S. administration is being awfully wish-washy on the whole thing and I do believe that the only interests they have in mind are their own. If you want more than you could ever want to know on the situation go see Charles. His site is like my cheat notes for when I know I am going to get into an argument with someone over this. And that's all I'm going to say about it. For the moment.
Side note to Carey: I'm trying to return your email. Obviously your site is down. Just don't think I'm ignoring you. Let me know when your facilities return. Not mental facilities because, well.....you know.
Anyone have any special remedies for making one stop clenching their teeth all day and night?
death, time, space, etc.
It was one year ago yesterday that my ex husband's brother died. He was 31 years old. He had a massive heart attack as he stepped off the train. Three days after he turned 31.
My kids learned a lot about death last year. They struggled with the concept of their favorite uncle no longer being around. It took them a while. Then, when they were just finally getting comfortable enough to go to the cemetery and talk about him in past tense, rather than if he was still here, September 11 happened. And then September 12 happened, which is when their adored great-grandmother, Nanny, died.
Nanny and their uncle both lived in the same house as their father. So every weekend, the kids saw them. Every weekend, they lived with them and spent time with them. These were people who were part of the everyday pattern of their lives. And then, they were gone. Nanny, it wasn't so hard to understand. She was old. She was in the hospital. She had been sick for a while. And she died amidst the rubble of a national disaster, so the comprehension of her death and the meaning of it was lost between the death and disaster that CNN was bringing into our homes.
It was much harder to explain about their uncle. How someone so young, so active and seemingly healthy could just disappear from their lives like that. They worried that he died alone. They worried that he needed help and he couldn't get it. They agonized over the last moments of their uncle's life. DJ, especially, wondered if he had told him enough times how much fun he was. How much he adored him.
Just a couple of months ago, DJ told me he dreams about his uncle frequently. He said it's not like he's part of his dreams, it's like he just appears in the middle of a dream, just to say hello. One night he dreamed that he was roller blading down the street, and suddenly his uncle appeared on the corner. He waved to him and asked how he was doing. He said to say hello to everyone. DJ says this happens often. I asked him how he felt about it. It's great to see him, mom. I wish I could dream like that every night. He's really happy where he is, and it's nice to see him smiling. He takes comfort from those dreams, and I am not about to dispel any notion he has about them. Half of me believes that it really happens like DJ thinks it does.
Natalie says she sees shadows sometimes in the dark of the night. She hears voices when she's trying to get to sleep. She thinks it's her uncle and Nanny, saying hello to her. Natalie has a great imagination, and I think she is slightly jealous of DJ's dreams, so I don't discourage her when she relays these stories. Anywhere you can find comfort, you take it.
I'm taking them to the cemetery after school today. We'll make the rounds while we are there, seeing first their uncle, and then my grandmother and grandfather, both of whom haunt me in my dreams. I'm going to ask them to please stop. We have other aunts and uncles and friends, all making their home in the same grassy, pleasant expanse of Holy Rood Cemetery. We'll stop by the mausoleum and visit my dad's friend Pete Ganci, as we have before, and thank him once again.
We always leave the cemetery with a good feeling. The kids don't find it depressing or sad or morose. They take comfort in knowing that there is somewhere they can go, besides their dreams, to visit with the people they loved that are no longer here with us. They bring plants and brush the leaves from the graves and sometimes we tell stories. We always leave with a good feeling, like we've just hung out with some old friends.
I still can't believe a year has passed already. I started off this morning thinking about the passage of time and how quickly it seems to fly by. That's what I was intending to write about today. Not death and mourning and spirits, but the essence of time. How much life has been crammed into the twelve months since I last wrote about the death of my ex brother-in-law. How you think, after so much sadness and destruction pervades your lives that you can't go on. But the push of time forces you to go on. Months and days and weeks carry momentum and take you with them, and before you know it, calendar pages have turned and events have come and gone and another year has folded up and left the game. And you lived to tell about it.
If you were looking for a post that made sense today, this wasn't it. Sorry. Run on thinking is a dangerous thing.
philo's present, a little late
For his birthday, Philo asked his readers to talk about their destiny. Or belief in destiny. Or destiny related stories. I think about destiny a lot. Sometimes I confuse it with fate, and sometimes I wonder if they really aren't the same thing.
Is this where I am meant to be? Is my path chosen for me? Has everything I have done from when I was born until now, almost 40 years later, been pre-written for me? Suppose time travel is possible. If we can go into the future, then all this has happened already, no? So it's all been laid out already. I'm just following a script I never approved. Maybe.
Suppose this is my destiny. To be where I am right now at this point in my life. Destiny to me denotes greatness. Destiny is a cannon shooting you into the stars. Fate, perhaps is what leads you up to a dead-end job with 75 kids and a can of beans to eat. Fate leads you into a summer camp where a killer stalks kissing couples. Destiny leads you to discovering cures and inventing life saving devices. Destiny is a Nobel Peace Prize. Fate is being gutted by Jason Voorheves. Ok, I'm rambling.
Here I am at almost 40, a bad marriage and several huge mistakes behind me. I'm content in my life but I certainly haven't done anything noteworthy. Unless it is my destiny to be a great secretary or spit on frat boys or be the greatest lover Justin ever had. Then it's all good. But I don't think that's it. I think perhaps my destiny was to have my children. Why else would the gods that rule time and space force me down a path that included marrying a neanderthal? The only decent thing to come out of those years was my children. And that's even debatable sometimes.
So what if my destiny was to be a mother to a person whose destiny it is to do something great and wonderful? Maybe I have served my purpose because Natalie is going to be the greatest novelist that ever lived. Maybe DJ is going to be this incredible scientist or the greatest baseball player ever. Then again, there's always the chance that Natalie will spend her days as a starving artist and DJ will be driving around with dead hookers in his trunk.
I have no idea what destiny is. I have no idea if I believe in it, or believe in fate. Some days I think anything is possible and the world is this mystical wonderful place and we all have a magical part in making life the way it is. And some days I wonder why we are here at all. I think that if there is such a thing as destiny, whatever god or powerful being set it in motion certainly did not mean for the world to turn out like this. Because if I have a destiny, then so does everyone else. Arafat and bin Laden and Jeffrey Dahmer and Pauly Shore. So in that respect, destiny does not necessarily have to be good.
So maybe I was meant to have my kids, but their destiny was set on course for bad instead of good, and when DJ starts driving I should check his trunk every so often. Or I was meant to be nothing except a secretary who is good in bed.
You know, I can live with that.
Happy Birthday, Philo. If there is such a thing as destiny, I hope yours is fun and interesting and full of love.
must stop the flying fist of death
hockey. baseball. spring weather. coffee. poetry. cold sheets. warm pajamas. movie trailers. sneak previews. candles that smell like pears. alternate endings. home runs. the simpsons. video games. october. sunsets. hockey playoffs. Clutch. convertibles. jigsaw puzzles. unsweetened iced tea. invader zim. comic books. mike patton. sharpies. filler bunny. fruit by the foot. soft pillows. hot showers. smirnoff ice. potato soup. the big slide at the park. sand castles. telescopes. little league games. douglas coupland. nick cave lyrics. no traffic. bottled water. sneakers. the onion. board games. clean laundry. chili. halloween. cranberry tea. home movies. highlighters. google. juvenile comedies. paid holidays. sudafed. sunday mornings. the super bowl. summer nights. a good sub-woofer. 80's new wave. eddie izzard. bill hicks. match game reruns. a clean house. a wooded path. walt whitman. laughter. post-its. penalty shots. upstate, new york. remotes.
I dreamed about funerals and fires last night. I would like very much to stop dreaming, now. Thank you.
Natalie is going to the Nsync concert tonight. Just thought I'd mention that, for Glace.
Something happened at work yesterday that infuriated me. Unfortunately, I can't really talk about it here. But you know those Flinstone episodes, where Fred was yelled at and he would shrink each time his boss yelled at him? That's how I felt. Until it was pointed out by several people that the person who instigated the whole thing is the one who should be feeling small, not me. And then I went from being upset about the whole episode to being angry beyond reason. I have to stop the anger in its tracks before the fist of death makes an appearance.
Right after he picks up his Muzzle award.
Speaking of evil people who should be muzzled, Carrot Top v. Ashcroft.
Today's site of the day is lay-c, because she somehow fell off my sidebar and I just noticed now.
dreams, movies and happy endings
I dreamed a movie last night. I had been sitting alone in a movie theater, surrounded by empty seats, my nervous cough echoing in the silence. The lights went out and the movie started. A movie for one.
It was like one of those old 8mm home movies. Scratchy, grainy film. No sound. Muted colors. It was my marriage. From beginning to end. I watched the whole thing pass, it took maybe five minutes for those seven years to pass before my eyes, and right there on the old pull-down movie screen was everything that ever happened in those years. The speed of the movie made everything pass by in a flash, but my mind comprehended each event as if it unfolded before me, with every spoken word and nuance and tear happening again.
The wedding, where my father sat in the limo with me outside the church and asked me if I was sure I wanted to do this. That I could still back out.
The fights, the days without him speaking to me, the gambling, the silence.
The day he left me in the city. The night he didn't come home. The parties and family gatherings and doctor's appointments and teacher conferences I went to alone.
Cashing in the kids' bonds to go grocery shopping. Thinking the bills were paid when they weren't.
Forgotten birthdays. Broken promises.
The movie ended, that last day in October of 1997 when the promise to fix the washing machine became the proverbial camel, straw, broken back.
I sat there in the movie theater, stunned. I thought I was going to cry. I didn't. I got up and walked out and asked the cashier for my money back. I was promised a happy ending. I was promised happily ever after. I didn't get it and now I want my money back, I explained. My grandfather, dead ten years now, was standing in the cashier's booth. He looked and me and said You're getting your happy ending. That was just the beginning of the movie. Now go home, this theater is closed.
I woke myself up. I moved over slightly, touching Justin's arm and as always, he instinctly, in his sleep, wrapped his arm around me and pulled me close to him.
This, I thought, is my happily ever after.
Roll credits. The End.
On line at the drug store:
woman: So, why was he wearing your mom's dress?
guy: Well, you know how women have penis envy? Men have woman envy. We all want to be women. So eventually our curiousity gets us and one day we put on a dress and some high heels and look in the mirror and say "Man, I would fuck me."
the last supper
DJ thinks he's Jesus.
My mother took him to see Jesus Christ, Superstar at the local theater last week. He's been obsessed ever since. He doesn't just want to be Jesus. He wants to be a singing, dancing Jesus. I normally wouldn't be totally alarmed. He went through this phase after seeing Les Miz. He would randomly belt out songs wherever he was. The mall, school, second base. Yes. He would stand on second base during Little League games singing "Master of the House" at the top of his lungs.
So now he's walking around, singing What's the buzz, tell me what's happening and pretending to be Jesus. At dinner last night, he called us his disciples. He asked us to drink his blood. And then he revitalized the Catholic church.
"You know that Hockey's Greatest Hits tape we have?" he said. "Man, if they did stuff like that at church I would be there every Sunday!"
"What?" my mother asked. "You mean, like the priest cross-checking the people who come up for communion?"
"Sure! And they could all wear helmets and stuff. And carry sticks. And there would be a penalty box instead of a confession box. And I would be Jesus. And I would stand up there and point at someone and say 5 minutes in the box for cursing! And when someone did something good the red light would come on and everyone would stand up and cheer."
We all stared at him. He started singing. Ten minutes after I'm dead, one of you denies me, one of you betrays me. He asks which one of us will be his Judas. I tell him if he doesn't finish his "last supper" soon he won't be getting any ice cream.
He goes back on the hockey/church tangent. He decides that when he rules the world through religion, the Rangers will never lose. I explain to him that he can't use his powers that way. Which then leads us into a discussion of Star Wars as religion and whether or not Darth Vader would be the enemy of Jesus or if Yoda was really like a Jesus in a muppet costume.
Natalie brings the conversation down a little by pointing out that religion causes war. She also asks about creation and makes the announcement that she no longer believes that God created the world. DJ notices that Natalie has pimples forming on her face. "I can make your zits go away," he says. She cries. He makes fun of her. My mother tells him Jesus would not make fun of his sister. Natalie retorts by telling everyone, loud enough for the whole restaurant to hear, that DJ cried himself to sleep the other night when the Rangers were eliminated from the playoff race. DJ crawls under the table. Dinner is officially over.
Later on, as I am tucking him into bed, DJ says he needs to tell me something. He leans close to me and whispers in my ear.
"I'm not really Jesus. I was just kidding."
"Oh, you don't say. You had me fooled."
"And I really don't want to be Jesus either"
"It's too much work to be nice all the time. Jesus didn't have a sister to deal with."
Just another night.
Happy Birthday to my sister, Jo-Anne. It used to be cool to be older than you. Now it's just depressing. And I can't really wish you anything more than you already have. Ok, maybe just more of that.
site of the day (or next few days): photojunkie
Are you in Northern California? Looking for that perfect someone? Would you dare go on a blind date with Ernie as a chaperone? Then the BlindDate Blog is for you. And the ensuing hilarity is for the rest of us to enjoy.
I had my first night as Natalie's basketball coach last night. It was just a clinic, but I fared well. The girls thought I knew what I was talking about. Fortunately I have been paired with a father who is a school basketball coach. Unfortunately, this means I have been relegated to cheerleader. I can spend the season standing on the sidelines saying things like "Remember girls, we're here to have FUN!"
My cynicism and my desire to throw stones at the world has returned. Good-bye fuzzy bunnies and rainbows, it was nice while it lasted.
the futility of being nice
You know what? This isn't working. What was I thinking?
I brought bagels into work today. Two people complained that I only had sesame and plain. One person complained that I had whipped cream cheese instead of the other kind.
I offered coffee to anyone who came in the office, including my nemesis, Mr. Coffee Man. He complained that I didn't have whole milk. Someone else made a face because it wasn't decaf.
I told my father I loved him and he asked my how much money I needed.
I told my sister how thankful I was that we have such a close relationship and she asked me if I was PMS or dying.
I told the kids I would make whatever they wanted for dinner tonight and they wanted to know if Justin could cook instead of me.
I offered to help out the new person at work until they hire a new secretary for him. He spent the day trying to look down my shirt.
So instead of feeling all happy and smiley and good about the world and myself, I feel cranky and cynical. My usual self, but more bitter.
I'm going to crawl back inside my misanthropic little world now.
Yea, bite me.
bringing the RQ down
I want you to do something for me.
You know I've been on this rudeness/courtesy tangent. I've been thinking about ways in which to obliterate the rudeness quotient of the world. That's RQ for short. Think of the RQ as our gross international debt, with bad behavior substituted for dollars. And let's just say the debt has skyrocketed.
I had that one day last week where I tried to be nice and pleasant for the whole day, even in the face of rudeness. I think I got it all wrong. I'm trying to make the world feel good. I'm trying to get rid of the black cloud of surliness hanging over our head. So ignoring someone's rudeness isn't going to cut it. Sure, I won't be adding to the RQ, but I won't be doing anything to bring it down, either. See, for every nice, courteous, kind thing you do, another RQ point bites the dust. It's the whole negation thing.
So here's the idea. Do something nice today. I'm not talking about the patented random acts of kindness where you help a little old lady across the street or pay someone's toll. I'm talking about kindness that actually effects your life. Something you have been meaning to do for a while but just never got around to. Maybe something you've talked and talked about doing and for one reason or another left on the back burner.
This is what I want you to do for me. And for yourself. And for the gross international debt of of bad behavior. I want you to call your mother. I want you to say you're sorry to your brother for stealing his record back in the fifth grade. I want you to bring coffee to your co-workers or make your wife breakfast or put a love note in your boyfriend's lunch. I want you to put the housework aside for the night and take the kids to the park instead. I want you to return your neighbor's table saw that you borrowed six months ago. Take your neighbor's garbage cans in from the curb. Tell your parents you love them. Write a thank you note to your best friend for always being there for you. Tell a teacher how much they are appreciated. Return that phone call or email. Forgive your sister. Ask for forgiveness. Buy flowers for someone. Take an employee to lunch. Fix your aunt's squeaky door. Read a funny book to a kid. Read a funny book to your wife. Ask what you can do to help out. Forgive a debt. Just....be nice. If you're always nice, be extra nice, then.
I want you to blog about it. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment here. Send me an email. Tell me what you did or what you are going to do to lower the Rudeness Quotient of the world.
No, I haven't gone nuts. No, the Paxil hasn't made me all rainbows and fuzzy bunnies. I'm just tired of the hate and the war and bickering and the rudeness. I'm tired of road rage and air rage and explosions and death. I'm tired of complaining about the state of the world but not doing anything about it. Yea, this isn't Nobel Peace Prize material. I know. It's not going to make a ripple of a difference in the world at large. But if it makes a difference to me or you or your neighbor or family for just one day, then that's a good start.
Ready? Go forth and be kind.
I dream of Kurt Cobain (not that I wanted to)
We get MTV2 next week, which I've been waiting a long time for. And in a great example of irony, the day we are receiving the music channel I've been hoping for is the day are bringing us an all day love-fest to Kurt Cobain. I don't like Nirvana. I never really cared for Cobain. Genuis? No. Trendsetter? Perhaps. Overrated? Yes. Haunted me in a dream? Yes.
It was around Halloween, the year after Cobain died. My mother goes all out decorating for Halloween. Every year is a different theme. That particular year was rock-n-roll graveyard. She made tombstones for every dead rock star she could think of and stuck them on the front lawn, complete with hands coming up out of the graves and cobwebs and such. It really was lovely. Elvis, Buddy Holly, Jim Morrison....they were all there. And so was Kurt. I don't know why, but this bothered me. It's not like I was a fan of the guy and felt bad. It just bothered me on some level I couldn't articulate.
So, that night after we decorated I had a dream:
I was working in a library. I had to put books away in the downstairs reference area that was off-limits to the public. It was a small room, crowded with floor-to-ceiling stacks and photo copy machines. I had to stand on a step stool to get a particular book away. It was a thick, dusty book of famous quotations. As I was reaching up to get the book in its proper place, I felt a presence behind me. Afraid to turn around, I took my time getting the book on the shelf.
Someone coughed, that clearing your throat kind of cough you use when you are trying to get someone's attention. I turned around ,and there was the presence I felt. Leaning on the photo copy machine as if he had every right to be there was Kurt Cobain, looking grungy as every.
He nodded in my direction and said "Hey." I waved to him.
"What do you want?" I asked him.
"Chill out. I just want to ask you a favor."
"Ok, but hurry. I have books to put away before I wake up."
"Um...do you think you could tell your mom to take my head stone down? It's giving me the creeps."
"I guess. I don't really like it either."
"Yea, it's too....new."
We stood there a few minutes, looking at each other. He came over to me and whispered in my ear.
"This isn't a dream, you know."
He moved toward the door and pointed at me, a silent reminder of my promise.
"I'll take care of it in the morning," I said.
"I knew I could count on you. Thanks."
And with that, he was gone. I went back to shelving my books.
The next day I told my mother the dream and asked her to take the head stone down. She did. I never saw him in a dream again.
tv party tonight
We've got new channels. I've got more NHL games than I can possibly keep track of. I get two out of town baseball games a night. But still no Yankees.
We also now get Noggin and Nickelodeon GAS. My stunted maturity makes this delightful for me. On GAS we get old Nick games like Legends of the Hidden Temple and Nick Arcade. But Noggin turns into something called The N at night. And finally, my dream has been realized. Reruns of Pete and Pete. I am in heaven.
With all these channels, I am on the way to making my perfect tv line-up. I sense a QOD in the making.
What time is it anyhow? I hate DST.
Weekend website pick: Aldo Alvarez, gay celebrity.
I realize more and more that my home life is incredibly similar to that of the Osbournes. Without the oodles of money and rock stardom, of course. And I'll probably never be invited to the White House, either. Unless it's for interrogation.
modest needs. The internet at its best.
And John Dvorak is still an ignorant hack journalist.
I have this love/hate relationship with Daylight Savings Time. I like the extra daylight, but losing an hour throws me off. There aren't enough hours in a day for me as it is, and here I am losing 60 minutes of valuable time. Nevermind that the lost hour generally occurs while I am sleeping. It's still a lost hour.
Where does that hour go? Does it not seem odd to anyone else that we can just move the clock ahead with our hands and poof, 60 minutes have vanished into a black hole of sun conservation? What if that was the 60 minutes during which I would have bought the winning lottery ticket? What if that 60 minutes had been set aside by the gods of fate for your time to meet your lifelong soulmate? Or perhaps fate doesn't go by the numbers on a clock.
Suppose, just work with me here, that a world-famous psychic who has been proven to never be wrong with his/her predictions says that the world will end on August 15, 2002 at 5pm. What if, at 4:45 pm (EST), we all moved our clocks ahead to 5:45? Then 5:00 would have come and gone. So would the world not end at all, because we fucked with fate and made sure that 5pm never happened, or would we just all spontaneously combust when we moved the clock ahead, because the world ended during our spinning of the clock's hands? Or perhaps fate really doesn't give a fuck about time.
In which case, that missing hour really doesn't matter. Except to those who like to sleep in.
Feel free to ignore me.
when it's time to change...
New banner courtesy of the magnificent Dave. Crappy coding done by my web-illiterate self.
Please be advised that "a fire inside" has been all but banished and the site is hereforeto known as A Small Victory, or the daily crap, whichever way you choose to remember it.
Comments, complaints and suggestions below.
minding my manners
I realized at some point during yesterday's experiment that it isn't a stretch for me to be polite. Despite rumors to the contrary, I am generally a courteous, nice person. It's only when confronted by the rudeness and self-righteousness of others that my mild-mannered temperament goes into meltdown.
My observation that rudeness begets rudeness and my attempt to change that came into glaring play twice yesterday.
First, the pediatrician's office. It was crowded and stuffy and I had to sit on the floor next to Natalie. Across from me, on a cushioned bench, was a woman and her two daughters. I guessed the girls were about 10 and 13. They were sprawled out on the bench, taking up space that could have been used by mothers who were standing up, holding sick infants in their arms. Their mother never asked them to get up and make room. As a matter of fact, at one point she stretched her legs out over her daughter's lap and laid down.
On the wall in the waiting room is a very large frame containing holiday pictures of a good portion of the patients of this pediatrician. The rude girls stood in front of this frame for a while, pointing to various pictures and laughing out loud. They were making fun of almost every child in those pictures. At one point, they called the mother over. They were snorting they were laughing so hard. Oh my god, that girl is hideous! And then, Eww, look at the face on this one, she looks retarded! And then the mother: How embarrassing, I would never send my kids picture in if they looked like this!
Normally in this situation I would have said something like Are there no mirrors in your house? I would have then pointed to the younger girl and said your fat is sticking out of your shirt, you know. Or maybe I would have pointed to the older girl and said have you heard of Oxy-5? Or maybe I would have just punched the mother in the face.
Instead I said nothing. Which really defeated the purpose of my experiment. I wanted to confront rudeness with kindness, but I could think of nothing to say in this situation. I just silently wished that whatever the girls were in the doctor's office for would turn out to be something that would cause their face to disfigure. So even though I didn't match their behavior with rude comments of my own, I still lost.
Next was on the parkway, on the way to the orthopedist. The speed limit is 55. Do people understand that there is a minimum speed also? That it is as illegal to drive too slow on the parkway as it is to drive too fast?
We were in the right lane as our exit was approaching. Traffic slowed to a crawl. Two cars ahead of me was a station wagon that was traveling at about 20 miles per hour. People were beeping and cursing and tailgating. He would not go any faster. Finally, I was able to get around him. I wasn't going to give him the finger or curse at him or anything. I just wanted to get a look at what kind of person drove that slow on the parkway. When I turned my head, I saw the gray hair of an older man in the driver's seat. I couldn't see the rest of his face because the driver was holding up a cardboard sign that read Get off my back, you prick!. Apparently he drives this slow all the time. And he thinks it is his right to do so. I resisted the urge to swerve into his lane and kill him. I resisted the urge to roll down my window and throw a water bottle at him. Instead, as I passed him by, I smiled and waved to him. I don't know what his reaction was, as I had left him in the dust, but I do know I felt a little better than I would have had I spent fifteen seconds screaming at a person who didn't care if he got yelled at.
The rest of the day went pretty much the same. I smiled at rude cashiers. I gave thumbs up to people who cut me off. I was pleasant to a telemarketer. I answered my mother's snide remarks with charm and sweetness. Not one outburst. Not one rude comment uttered from my mouth the entire day. In the end, was it worth it? Not one person smiled back at me or met my kindness with their own. On the other hand, I didn't get into any arguments or experience any road rage or waste time arguing with someone who wasn't really listening to me. I didn't add to the rudeness quotient of the world. In the huge negative energy cloud that hangs over this earth, none of that black energy was mine yesterday. So in that event, perhaps it was worth it. The fact that my kids saw me reacting in a positive manner to negative situations was also a bonus, if not totally confusing for them.
I went to bed at 9:00 last night. Being nice is exhausting.
the great manners experiment
So everyone is talking about rudeness and its prevalence in today's society. One woman on the local news channel here blamed the schools. She said they aren't doing enough to teach our children manners and respect.
I find that rude in and of itself. How very, very rude of someone to expect other people to raise her children. I thought manners and respect were taught at home. You can bet your bottom dollar that woman's kids are incredibly rude and obnoxious.
Let's clarify rude here. There's general rudeness and then there is obnoxiousness. If you burp in my face or cut into a conversation when I'm in the middle of a sentence, that's general rudeness. I will roll my eyes at you and move on.
Talking on a cell phone in a restaurant is pretty rude. Talking on a cell phone during a movie is obnoxious. Bringing 12 items to the cashier in the grocery store that is meant for 10 items or less is rude. Bringing 25 items and getting irate when you are questioned is obnoxious.
Double parking to run into a store for five minutes is rude. Double parking so you can sit on the hood of your car and talk to the slut from the tanning salon and then giving me the finger when I mention that you are blocking traffic is really fucking obnoxious.
Some people have this grand sense of entitlement. They think laws don't apply to them, rules were meant for them to break and everyone should move out of their way when the come through. They learn this behavior from watching their parents. A five year old sees his mother barreling through the aisle of WalMart with her overstuffed cart (filled with toys being purchased to stop the little brat from whining) and the mother rams her cart into you and instead of apologizing, curses at you for being in her way. The kid takes note of this. He keeps a little file in his head of his mother's behavior. How she yells at the sales clerk because the store is out of her brand of tampons. How she rifles through the display of jeans, throwing them every which way until she finds the right size for her precious boy, leaving the mess on the floor and explaining to the boy that that is what the help is for. Obnoxiousness is passed down from generation to generation.
I'm not saying that parents should sit home with their children and have nightly etiquette lessons. And I'm certainly not saying that I'm not guilty of being rude in front of my kids. They have witnessed my parking lot rage. They have seen me hang up on telemarketers. So if I catch them acting in a rude or obnoxious manner I ask myself where did they learn that behavior? If they learned it from me, I correct them, but correct myself also. It's hard to raise your children to be polite and mind their manners when everyone around them, kids and grown ups alike, behave like animals.
But is my being rude to the person who is ruining our movie going experience by letting his ring tone on his cell phone go off twenty times acceptable? When politeness doesn't get anywhere with someone who is being rude is it ok turn on the obnoxiousness to get results? Rudeness begets rudeness, I suppose. Is it too late? Have we already set the precedent and created a society in which rudeness is not only tolerated, but expected?
I am going to try something. I am going to try to get through this day without once being rude or obnoxious. I am going to make extra effort to use good manners and proper social behavior. I am going to obey every rule and respect authority and law. I will drive the speed limit and smile at cashiers and answer the phone in a pleasant, professional manner. And I will see if my politeness and charming behavior causes anyone else to behave in the same manner. If rudeness begets rudeness, then wouldn't politeness work the same way?
Results of the Great Manners Experiment tonight.
Oh, have a nice day!
fire and steel
My cousin Stan (remember him, the fireman?) brought my father a gift today. It is a metal cross on a base, made of steel from a beam from the remains of the World Trade Center. A friend of his had made a few and passed them out to people who helped out at the site.
I ran my fingers across the discolored metal. It was rough and heavy and parts of it flaked beneath my fingers. My mind could not reconcile that piece of worn steel with the towers that used to be part of the New York skyline.
I imagined that the energy of every person that died that day was captured inside of something I held in my very own hands. I could not hold onto it any longer. I put it down and cried. More than six months later, I cried, again.
the joys of quality time
Next time the kids are on school vacation, I'm hiring a sitter and going to work. It will be cheaper in the long run than me staying home from work to spend quality time with them. Oh yes, we did the money-less things like playing board games and taking walks and going to the library. And that was all very lovely. Only one person's quality time is another child's boring time.
So we also did the arcade, where I spent about two minutes total actually talking to them and the rest shooting at space aliens. Food and games: $40.00
We did the movies, which is really not conducive to sharing family warmth, but which the kids loved. One adult, her two children and one child's friend: $21.00 in tickets. But what is the movies without snacks? 3 popcorns, 3 sodas, a box of candy and a pretzel: $33.00. Yes, that's right. 33. I embarrassed the kids by making the guy ring everything up again and show me the receipt because my brain would not comprehend that movie snacks could cost that much. Next time, we sneak in our own food.
We went out, on various days, to breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don't know the total cost of all that but I do know that the machine in the lobby of the diner that sells football bumper stickers for 50 cents each cost me ten dollars until we finally got a Packers sticker. Ok, that was my fault.
Lunch was interesting. We met Natalie's new "friend" and his mother at the restaurant. I was relieved that the mother feels the same way as me, meaning our children are way too young to date. I mean, there they are, at the table next to us (DJ and the neighbor's kid were also there), trying to look all serious and mature. Within three minutes of sitting down, the boy was playing with his food and Natalie was making spitballs. So much for mature. When I asked Natalie later on, just out of curiosity, if she felt that she was edging anywhere towards her first kiss, she exclaimed "Eww mom, didn't you see he had a booger hanging out of his nose the entire time?" Yay for boogers, then.
And I must be some kind of sucker because we went to Modell's yesterday to get DJ new cleats and somehow I walked out of there with not only cleats but hockey pucks, a basketball, two Jason Giambi Yankee jerseys and an assortment of athletic wear. They almost convinced me to buy a trampoline. It must be my subconscious wallet wanting to throw dollars at the kids in an effort to bury my guilty feelings over not having enough time to spend with them. Either that or I am an uncontrollable shopper, but only when it comes to the kids. Me, I've been wearing the same pair of Payless shoes for a year. I haven't bought myself an article of clothing since last fall. The kids, they have new sneakers for every sports season. A Yankee shirt for every player. More hockey jerseys than an NHL locker room. Enough clothes to fill a department store. You get the picture.
I think they appreciate it. I'm pretty sure I did hear a thank you at one point. And I think there were a few extra hugs and kisses last night. And I think they weren't too horrified when I told them I was too tired to play kickball with them last night because I had to sell my blood in order to get money to survive until the next paycheck. And I don't think either them believed me for more than a second when I said I had to send them to Mexico to work on a farm for a year to make up for all the money I spent this week. What? You think money grows on trees? Well, maybe I was being intentionally mean because they both claim the highlight of the vacation so far was when Justin shot off the rocket DJ got for Christmas. Three seconds of blast-off fun with a ten dollar rocket. Is that all it takes? I wish I would have known that before.
Today, my mother is taking them to a local playhouse to see Jesus Christ, Superstar. To which the kids made up the lyrics "Jesus Christ, superstar, all he wants is a candy bar." I can only hope they don't sing that out loud at the play. Maybe I should pack the chocolate jesus I got for Easter for their snack. Would that be wrong?
Me, I am going back to work today. I will sit in the comfy confines of my office and not have to run or jump or pretend I know how to play sports. I will not have to spend any money or sit through a mindless movie or eat in a family restaurant full of screaming children and boyfriends with booger noses. I will not have to listen to another fart joke or the theme to SpongeBob SquarePants sung out of tune ten thousand times.
And I will, at some point, miss all that.
facing the future
I dreamed last night about funerals of children. One after another, day after day, tiny little coffins being led into this massive church. I heard all their names and ages, I saw them in little white dresses and communion suits and was told the ways in which they died. They all were victims of war. I woke up crying.
I've gone back to watching the news again. My hiatus lasted all of one day. I decided that blissful ignorance is not the way to go. I want to be armed and informed when arguing and debating with people whose opinions differ from mine. I flip through all the news channels; CNN, MSNBC, FoxNews. It brings me great worry and anxiety to see where the world is headed. It's the kind of anxiety that a daily dose of Paxil is not going to help. It should be there for all of us. Not just worry-warts like me.
They were talking on several of the stations last night about gas embargos and whether or not we will witness a repeat of the time when their were long gas lines. I remember those days well. Odd numbered license plates could get gas only on odd days. The cars on line at the gas stations snaked around the side streets, interrupting our kick ball games. I worried even then about the future of our world. I asked a lot of questions. My friends went on with their kick ball games. I went inside to read the paper and find out why. Why our parents always had this look of concern on their faces.
It's the same thing now. My kids want to know. Are we still at war? Is there going to be a nuclear war? Will the world still be here ten years from now? Twenty? What happens when the ozone layer is gone? What if there is no more clean water? Are there going to be more terrorist attacks? Why are people so mean? Why do they kill? Why do kids have to die?
My parents always had vague answers to those questions when I asked them. My answers to my own children are no better. I don't want to frighten them, yet I don't want to be all Pollyana with them either. I want them to know the world is a scary, sometimes evil place, because I want to them to find the spirit to change it. I want them to grow up to be people who will work for change, who will want to make this world a better place instead of hiding their heads in the sand and pretending everything is ok.
But honestly, I can't answer all their why questions. Because I don't know. I don't know why some people think it is ok to walk into a crowded restaurant strapped with explosives. I don't know why people spend their whole lives honing and sharpening their hatred. I don't know why no one will stop our natural resources from disappearing or why some people kill their own children or why bullies roam the hallways of every school and no one ever thinks to blame them when an otherwise meek child explodes in rage.
I'm sad that this is the world I have released my children into. I am sad that every day is fraught with worries and questions and visions of war. I am sad that so much of their lessons in school have to do with saying no to bullies and no to drugs and no to sex and there is not enough lessons that say yes to change and yes to speaking up and yes to finding the positive things in life. I am sad that they take these things into their sleep every night where the worries manifest themselves into nightmares.
I want to arm them with confidence and hope. But how can I when I don't even have those things for myself?
QOD still singing and dancing.
We went to Friendly's yesterday (with Natalie's "boyfriend" and his mother, which is a whole other post) after seeing Clockstoppers (best thing I can say is I didn't fall asleep). So DJ is sitting there, eating his ice cream and saying things like "The Yankees traded Derek Jeter!" One second pause. "April Fools!" And the older kids would give pretend laughs, humoring the little brother. After ten minutes of inane April Fool's jokes on the kids' part, the old, frail lady sitting across the aisle from them gets up, uses her cane to hobble over to their table, points to DJ's ice cream and says in an evil whisper "Son, do you know they put WORMS in the ice cream here?" DJ looks at her, stunned. She leans down into his face and screams "April Fools!" and breaks out into this cackling, sinister laugh. She then hobbles back to her table with a smug grin on her face. DJ never did finish his ice cream.
Maybe I should thank Cablevision for not giving us the Yankee game yesterday.
family of fools
Yes, it's April Fool's Day. But you won't find any jokes or pranks here. I've never been good at that sort of thing.
Ok, once when I was about ten, I tried to play an April Fool's joke on my parents. I switched the salt and pepper shakers. You know, put the salt in the pepper shaker and the pepper in the salt shaker. My idea of a big joke. Took me fifteen minutes to get it done. And then, looking at the fruits of my labor I realized why the joke wouldn't work. The shakers were clear glass. Doh. And thus ended my attempts at playing practical jokes.
Of course, as a parent I spend a lot of times fooling my children, as my parents did to me.
Santa Claus. The Easter Bunny. The Tooth Fairy. Those are the greatest pranks of all, and we perpetuate them to small, gullible, impressionable children who believe every word we say because we are grown-ups. Eventually there comes that day when we suddenly look them in the eye and say "Fooled ya!" and let them in on the joke. They may seem crushed and dispirited for a while. They may even hate you for lying to them this whole time. But apparently they aren't disgusted by your lies enough to not play those same pranks on their own kids some day. Holiday myths are practical jokes handed down from generation to generation. The fly in the ice cube? The invisible squirting ink? They have nothing on the Santa joke.
Parents are the ultimate pranksters. Did you ever see a kid making a really goofy face and the mother says "If you keep doing that your face will freeze like that!" and the kid looks horrified and spends the next few weeks twitching while he tries to keep himself from making a face that could disfigure him forever. Funny stuff.
Kid: I bit my tongue! Mother: You must have lied about something. I heard this one a lot growing up. Many physical afflictions seemed to stem from disobedience. If I bit my tongue as a child, I would spend hours trying to figure out what I did to deserve it. Eventually every time I tripped or fell or hurt myself in some way, I would assume I was being punished for something. It's the prank that keeps on giving!
Another good parent joke: I had a cousin who never cleaned his ears. One day his mother told him, "You have potatoes growing in your ears!" Instead of running to the bathroom for a q-tip, he spent the next week or so staring in the mirror waiting for the potatoes to come out. I'm sure my aunt got a few good laughs out of that one.
That wasn't nearly as far reaching as the time my father told me that if I swallowed a watermelon pit I would grow watermelons in my stomach. Of course, curiosity got the best of me. Not only did I intentionally swallow a pit, but I ate some dirt and washed it down with a glass of water just to make sure it would grow properly. About ten minutes later, I panicked when I realized that growing a watermelon in my stomach would probably involve some kind of pain. For the next week or so, I checked my stomach every day to see if it was getting bigger. Which led me to think about pregnant ladies. Which made me thing that babies started out as watermelon seeds. Which really screwed me up for a while. Nice joke, dad!
Parents will spend a good portion of their children's lives playing these silly jokes on them. Whenever I would find out that something I believed to be true was just a big old joke, or a little white lie, I would imagine my parents sitting in their bedroom at night, snickering and thinking up silly things to tell us. Parents have to get their jollies some way, right?
So you would think that I would have learned from being the subject of all these little pranks. That I would never tell my kids the same things, or want to watch the horror on my son's face when I tell him that he stepped on ant, so he made it rain. But no, I do the same exact things my parent's did to me. Why? Because the one thing my mother said to me that I always hoped was a great big joke was, unfortunately, the truth: Some day you will become me.