Monday, October 24, 2011

New Clothes Can Save the World

This past weekend, I had the joy of visiting my cousins and their lovely families, two groups of people that I don't get to spend nearly enough time with. The reason I went, however, was not a pleasant one. My cousin's wife, a beautiful, strong mother and all around cool lady, has cancer, and the outlook is not great. And really, I'm not getting into that, because really, it is between them: my cousin, his wife, and their kids. It is not a good situation, but they are all pretty amazing people who are dealing with it with more grace and love than I could even muster in my finest moments.

But here's the thing that no one realizes: when a person gets sick, things suck, yes. But shit keeps on happening. Your bills are still due, you still have to eat a dinner that can't wholly consist of cookies and ranch dip, the kids don't stop their growing until the drama subsides. So when we arrived at my cousin's house on Saturday, one thing that needed to be done was for us to go to the nearest mall and buy my cousin's kids some clothes. Money was not an issue, none of that. My cousin just had not had time to turn around, much less go to the mall and buy jeans for a pre-teen girl. And let me tell you folks who don't have preteen girls: buying jeans for them is kind of like buying jeans for a baby elephant. Nothing you are going to find will fit on the first try. I refuse to believe that there is a preteen girl alive who fits in the standard size--this is where you get into slim sizes and half sizes and moving up to juniors and all of that. And the baby elephant that you are trying to dress? It is going to continue getting surlier and surlier the more jeans you have to try on it. You are going to spend a good long time trying to placate the baby elephant while finding it jeans, caving and also purchasing a feather headband and then drowning your sorrows at Cold Stone Creamery. So THAT's the battle my cousin was facing, and he was coming into that battle war wounded and without a gun.

I had my daughter with me, in fact, one of the very reasons we had traversed across the state was so that Gabby could spend some time with her cousin. So, with two preteens in tow, my mom and I set out for the mall. We fought the baby elephant, and we got it into new jeans, four pairs even (!) along with sweaters and t-shirts and camisoles and what have you. And we had a jolly, wonderful good time on top of it all. For the hours we were out, my daughter and her cousin were just two girls in a mall, having a wonderful time, with no worries or sickness or strife to bring them down. We came home laden with packages and headbands and bags and stories about an unfortunate lunch lady affectionately named "One Tooth Wonder". And when we got back, both of her parents had smiles on their faces. Their minds were at peace on this one tiny detail, able to put that small bit of minutiae behind them.

I'm not going to lie and say we made it all better. We didn't. This whole thing is a wound that can't be tidily covered with a bandage, forgotten with retail therapy. And driving home yesterday, I struggled with it a little bit. Would it have been better to leave the daughter at home, to ride out more time with her mom before there is no time left? Why are clothes so important? Was this just me forcing my own little bit of crazy on my unsuspecting cousin and his daughter?

But here's the thing. First off, he asked us to do it. Second off, clothes help. In a mad, mad world, full of crazy and pain and things that just should never happen to anyone ever, the clothes you put on can give you a bit of control. In the small act of getting dressed in the morning, you control how the world sees you. And the right clothes give you a bit more, an armor almost. Bad stuff will still happen to you, yes. Things that suck will hit you like a barrage. But the right jeans can help. It is one less thing to worry about, one more thing to have in your arsenal, one more line of defense in a world that refuses to be understood or contained.

The coming days and weeks and months and years will be hard for my cousin, for all of us as a family for we are a close knit group. My cousin's daughter is one of my own daughter's best friends and they text each other daily, along with trips and family events they plan and drag their hapless parents along with. I hope that I can help in some small way. My cousin has been there for me--it was his face that I so happily saw standing outside the hospital room when my son was laying in the in the pediatric ICU, taking Gabby to his house so that I wouldn't have to worry about her, he and his wife who showed up after Gabby was born to goo and gah appropriately when I felt sad and like a total fuck up. I'd do anything for him. And if that means shopping, if that is the little gift I can give to him in thanks, then by all means, I'm thrilled to do it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On Raising a Girly Girl and Sundries on Facebook (in no particular order)

Yeah, yeah, it's been a while.


Yup. I went there. Felt good, didn't it?

Today is a wet and gross and altogether horrid day. I hate it. It can die in a fire. Nothing particularly awful has happened to me or anything. I just find myself staring out the window and thinking of random things. Give me some precipitation and I become a picture of non-productivity. So what better time to update one's forgotten blog?

I also feel I should post because I just want to write about Alice. Having multiple children is such a trip because of how different they are. And yes, I know this is obvious. No one seriously thinks that they are going to have three little clones, gorgeous in their similarity. But when I had a daughter, I imagined her baby and toddler years would be a lot like my oldest's.

ERNK. Sorry, try again.

Gabby never was that girly. Yeah, she went through a pink phase, and a Hello Kitty phase (where it got all kinds of Mariah Carey up in my grill) but at her core, she's always been a bit strong, a bit more "steel" than "magnolia." I like that about her. She's also a bit aloof, as if any kind of label (like "girly" or "tomboyish") would be offputting on a child such as her. Gabby has been a product of two kids in college, in grad school, reading a bunch of theory. And it suits her amazingly well. But Alice, woah, Alice. Alice's feet hit the floor in the morning, and she's wanting me to do her make-up. She comes into the bathroom where I usually am when she wakes, still rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, her legs still toasty warm from the blanket. And she's reaching for the blush brush. Yes, my daughter wears Nars Orgasm blush nearly everyday. No, I'm not kidding. No, I'm not from Texas, nor was I ever on an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras.

I'm surprisingly fine with this. Yes, I am still the mother that bristles and complains when Matt calls her "my princess." She's not a princess. But she is a human being who enjoys the feeling of a natural hair brush over her cheekbones, likes the allure of "sparkles" (her word for make-up). To her, it is fun. And I agree. I think it is fun too--have since I was 13 years old and started wearing make-up, only not wearing it on days when inflicted with SEVERE stomach viruses. So I indulge her, and we do it together in the morning. Nothing strong, nothing I feel would cause a reaction with her skin. She puts on barely enough to even see. And we talk, about how we are beautiful without our make-up on. We talk about being strong girls.

Alice is girly in other facets of her life as well. She loves clothes and accessories--necklaces especially. I think this is a shared family trait because at just a little younger than her, Sam was obsessed with having things around his neck (his favorites were a big pink boa and a men's necktie that had a picture of the Eiffel tower on it). She tends toward the pink in life--she has a pink dump truck that she loves and at night when I put her down to bed, we look up at the ceiling and imagine that we are seeing a beautiful night sky. Sometimes she says she sees a plane, or a bird, or a light. But every night the moon is always pink in her little mind's eye (somtimes the stars are black, which seems to be her other favorite color, interestingly, and yes, I've dissected that like the good English major I am).

But conversely, she ADORES her big brother. And even more, his room. She goes in there and picks up cars and action figures and brings them back into her toys. The other day I found a Star Trek figure sitting in her Little People Doll House. She has become obsessed with a Batman Batcave of his and will retrieve it anytime anyone has the fool idea to put it back in Sam's room.

And then, last night, I was folding some towels. I usually watch TV while I do this, but in this case, I had the TV off. Alice came toddling in and said, "Mama, we watch baseball?" I went over to the TV happily, looking for the pregame to last night's world series. As soon as CJ Wilson's face came up, stats all around, she said, "I like watchy baseball wit you." She said it while wearing these absurd baby headbands around her neck (they are her necklaces, she says), a psychadelic patterned summer tank top she wanted to sleep in (with purple diaper and Minnie Mouse pj pants, mind you) and holding a tube of Benefit That Gal highlighter in her chubby little paw.

Yup, that one's mine.

So during the time that I'm not raising the most awesome child in existence (aside from my other two of course), I spend some time on Facebook. Don't we all? And here's the thing. I think we all have our beefs with this particular little piece of social media, but how do you resolve them? I am asking for your input on these, gentle reader. Fire away.

a) Can you defriend a family member if that family member has posted something so strange and rather off-putting (nothing political or religious, mind you) that you can't think of this person without a little uneasy giggle? Will they ever notice? What will Christmas be like if you did?

b) How wrong is it to just be friends with someone for the sheer fact they make you feel better about your own life?

and lastly:
c) What do you people spread on your pictures before scanning them? I know this one lady, who I could swear spreads about an inch worth of baby oil on each and every picture of her children and then scans it on a scanner she bought back when her screensaver was a flying toaster. And I'm sitting there wondering what in the immortal fuck I'm looking at, and people are commenting like crazy with "Lovely picture!" and "He is so cute!" Cute? That three headed beaver is cute?!?! Oh, that's her son. Nevermind. Perhaps I should pull out some old baby pictures of myself, get a bucket of vaseline and scan them up. Perhaps you will think I am cute then.

And let me just say this: when I call you, I don't want to hear music. I WANT TO HEAR RINGING, NOT YOUR FUCKING RING BACK TONE. The Beethoven you picked for Verizon to play for me does not make you seem smarter, nor does the country song about needing some rest make me think anything other than that you are an evil dumbass and that I prefer the sound of the freaking phone ringing. Because it is a phone. I'm calling you, probably for something you don't want to be called for. You don't have to entertain me. I have this thing called the internet for that.

I feel much better now.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The A to Z of Me

What was a CRAYzy morning has given way to a nice, settled Monday afternoon. I've gotten work done, I've stopped sneezing, and life is generally a bit brighter than it seemed in the harsh light of 9:00 a.m.

So, on that note, I am doing this meme. Why? Well, the office is quiet, and it is one way of putting off actually doing the corrections I worked on last night on my (very depressing, sadsack McGee type) novel. I have located a reader, so that means two things: 1) This thing is getting real, and 2) I'm about to ramp up my procrastinating web usage about 200 fold.

A. Age: 28. And I don't know quite how to feel about that.

B. Bed size: Queen. I have always had a queen bed, even as a toddler. I don't see myself moving into a different size anytime soon.

C. Chore that you hate: Washing dishes. I would rather have my toenails ripped out than spend a day washing dishes. Which sucks because my dishwasher is dying a slow death of something horrible and antiquated like TB or something. Something that I can't cure by cleaning it, whispering lullabies to it or kicking the absolute shit out of it. Because I've tried all those.

D. Dogs: I'll just say that I don't like dogs. Not really. I don't like cats either--I'm allergic. I'm not much of a pet person. My daughter has a miniature schnauzer named Hinkleton (if I were to say it belongs to our family, I would risk her wrath, which is not something I am willing to do), and I like him fine, but as far as actually wanting to spend time in the company of pets, no thanks. I especially do not like big dogs. If you have a big dog at your house and it stays indoors, I will not visit you. Period. I know that sounds mean, but I really don't like them or the smell they bring to a house.

So now that I've pissed off dog lovers everywhere, I'll move on.

E. Essential start to your day: A shower and then a little rest to enjoy the silence of my house. I usually go and sit on the couch for about 5-10 minutes apres shower. Sometimes I read a magazine, but most times, I just sit there. It is the only time that our house is quiet for any extended period of time.

F. Favorite color: It has always been purple. Really dark, rich purple, though, none of this namby-pamby lavender stuff.

G. Gold or Silver: I wear mostly silver, but lately have been feeling a bit of gold. I think I'll always be a silver girl at heart though.

H. Height: 5’3”

I. Instruments you play: I took piano lessons as a kid. My mom is a pianist--a damn good one--and she really thought I had some natural talent. I don't. I also played clarinet in the band for about 2 years. I did this mostly as a way to meet cute and nerdy boys but they were too busy playing Dungeons and Dragons to notice.

J. Job title: I recently changed jobs, and to be honest, I have no idea. I work for a small firm and we all just pitch in and do whatever needs to be done. If I were to put it on a resume, I'd probably put something like Researcher/Case Assistant. I like to call myself the Legal Beagle, because I spend a lot of time looking at law.

K. Kids: I have three. Gabby is 12 and she has started wearing high top converses that fold down to reveal a plaid lining and big, puffy headphones around her neck like she is one of the Quad City DJ's. I don't know quite what to say about that. Sam is 7 and is the youngest kid in our area on the Magic card game circuit. He is a self-proclaimed nerd (I don't fight him on that). Alice is 2, loves bling and is a ball of fire. That kid will either rule the world or end up in jail. I'm hoping for the first.

L. Live: I live in the fucking boonies where I grew up. Our town has 1,007 residents. Hopefully, this will not be the case for long because I really

M. Mother’s name: My mom's name is Irana. It is said "I-RAIN-A." My grandparents got it off of a soap opera.

N. Nicknames: My mom used to call me Morgie, and I hated it, so she quit. My oldest daughter calls me MoMo.

O. Overnight hospital stays: Just when my kids were born. I hope that is the very last time. If I ever have another kid, I am doin' it at the house!

P. Pet peeves: Number one is being late or people who are late. I think it shows a total disrespect for yourself and everyone else involved. Also: people who wear pajamas in public. People who don't discipline or watch their children in public places. The word "muggy." Body lotions and candles that are very sweet smelling (namely that Warm Vanilla Sugar stuff from Bath and Body Works. If I wanted to smell a cookie, I'd bake one, ya'll.) The grocery store on the first of the month.

Q. Quote from a movie: I wish I had something really intelligent to put here, and I probably should, given the sheer number of film classes I took in college. Ask me about "quote from a book" and I'll give you some obscure Romanian play quote that I read in college that will make you think twice about our friendship. But movie? Anything from Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Growing up, my dad owned and worked on the crew for several stock cars at local tracks. He also watched the race every Sunday. I hate Nascar and will probably never watch another race as long as I live, but I do love me some Ricky Bobby. There's a definite familiarity there. My favorite scene is here. Pick any of those quotes. I also just SQUEE at any mention of the name "Mike Honcho."

R. Right or left handed: LEFT. When I was a kid, my mom would take me to this place in Atlanta's Underground Atlanta shopping complex that sold notebooks for lefties and t-shirts and things like that. It was a real-life Leftorium. I had a shirt that said "Left handers: Only ones in our right minds!"

S. Siblings: I ain't got any. I'm an only child. I used to love it, but I've had my issues with it lately. But then again, if I had a sibling and they were a real jerk, I suppose I'd want to be an only child. Grass is greener and such...

T: Time you wake up: Usually about 5:30 on weekdays. Trouble is, Alice has been getting up around then too, so I end up laying back down with her to get her back to sleep (she will say "Nuggle and nigh nigh, Mommy" and I have to relent to that). That means it is sometimes 6:00 or 6:15 before I get up again which is as grand excuse as any not to exercise. I have to get a handle on this. On weekends, I sleep in until about 7:30 or 8:00.

U. Underwear: My mom got me started on these Gilligan O'Malley bikinis from Target. They are uberthin--I don't know what material they are. They are very comfy, and no VPL. I also like all the underwear from Aerie, although it makes me feel like a dirty old woman to be shopping in there.

V. Vegetable you hate: BEETS. Beets can die in a fire. Matt made borscht once, and just the smell was enough to make me puke. At one of my former jobs, I used to know this woman who ate a pickled beet with her lunch everyday. Just the thought makes me wretch.

W. What makes you run late: I don't like being late (see pet peeves) so I very rarely am. If I am, it is because of some very unforeseen event (like crazy traffic or extreme sickness). Or because Matt or Gabby is involved. You can bet that if that is the case, I am fuming in the background with unmistakable rage on my face.

X. X-Rays you’ve had: I used to get bronchitis as a kid a lot, so my lungs quite a few times. I think I had my ankle x-rayed once when I was a kid and did something weird to my achilles tendon in ballet class. My grandfather and his boy scout troop built the x-ray room at the clinic where I went as a kid, so every time I had to get it done, someone told me about that. That's what I remember--not the actual procedures.

Y. Yummy food that you make: I can bake pretty well. Amongst my dad's family, I am the pie girl. My daughter is always very proud of my cupcakes and her friends ask for those quite a bit. My son is a big fan of my mashed potatoes, and I have to admit, they are pretty bomb diggity. There is a secret ingredient, and I ain't a tellin'.

Z. Zoo animal: I really like hippos. And I like walruses. These are pretty rare things to see at a zoo, believe it or not. Probably because they are so big. I have been to a freaking ton of zoos, and have only seen hippos in San Francisco (and one died while I was living there) and in Memphis. Walruses I have only seen at Six Flags in Vallejo, CA. My kids think that my love of these two animals is amazingly hilarious. They like to buy me hippo and walrus things or send me pictures of them. I have a little plastic walrus I carry around as a good luck talisman. His name is the Walrus of Plenty or WoP. Don't ask.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I have a crush on Johnny Cash and other stuff you did not need to know.

I am alone in my office today. It is awesome. It is not that I dislike the people I work with totally--I don't. They are, for the most part, easy to work with and friendly. But there is something freeing about being in one's office and being able to listen to music all day. And getting work done without the pile getting any higher. And doing those things that need to be done, like packing files away and getting keys made and drinking vast quantities of Diet Coke while making files for things. Organization can be oppressive sometimes. When one is alone, it is just right.

I knew that I'd probably have time to write a blog post today so I thought briefly about what to tackle. I have a post that is just dying to be finished about moms and their inability to give truthful advice to each other. And another about women and self-deprecation. Those are there for another day, though. Today, I just feel like typing out things that are, for lack of a better term, random. Things that are of no particular interest to anyone really.

My Top 6 Favorite Songs
1. Suffragette City by David Bowie. When I was in college and made coffee for a living, I always worked the closing shift. My favoritest manager ever would turn on music for us as we did the mopping up and putting away. He would play Suffragette City for me just so he could hear me yell "WHAM BAM THANK YOU MA'AM!!!!" And I did it, no matter how tired I was, and yes, it always made me feel 700 times better.
2. Howling for You by The Black Keys. I adore this song. It is my "getting ready to go somewhere" song. I also have a black skirt that I call my Howling for You skirt. I don't know why. It just seems appropriate.
3. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen. Thematically, this song fits my station in life better than any other (except for maybe Beg Steal or Borrow by Ray LaMontagne).
4. Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones.
5. Soma by the Smashing Pumpkins. This was my favorite song when I was my daughter's age. She is enamored with Cobra Starship right now. I wonder if she will keep a place in her heart for them when she is my age.
6. Because the Night by Patti Smith. Because I can sing it like nobody's business.
And a near tie--Better Man by Pearl Jam. I have a whole teenage pseudo-romantic story to go along with this one, but that's for another day. Also, Knockin' on Heaven's Door by Bob Dylan.

I am thinking of applying to get my MFA next year. I don't really know. I am definitely considering it. And this is officially the first time I've admitted that to anyone. WHEW. In order to do that, I need to work on my (sad, whiny) novel. And in order to do that, I need to get someone to read it for me. I am thinking of asking my high school English teacher, which seems a bit sad. I also thought of this professor I had in college, but I can't figure out if I want to ask him because I think he would be a good source for help on my writing or because I think he is hot.

If I don't write the great American novel (or at the least, a serviceable novel that someone can make a really crappy movie adaptation of), I think I am going to open a pie shop. Or start a Patti Smith cover band.

I do not know how to ride a bike. Another fact about me that few people know. I had a bike as a kid, but I never really learned--the best I could do was fly down the hill behind our house on it (which technically, a blind paraplegic monkey could do). I have decided I really want to learn. I have consulted a couple of bike riders about this, and the overwhelming consensus is that yes, I can learn, but that it is going to hurt a lot more when I fall now that I am an old lady. But I think I am determined (I think....) and I think I am going to go through with it. I have located an old bike of my mom's to learn on. Now, I don't think I am going to be any great bike rider. But at least I will know how. And I can, you know, if called to by a deranged serial killer who tells me that he will disembowel me unless I can bike in a circle while singing the Marseillaise with peanut butter in my mouth, do what needs to be done.

I have never liked potato chips. I mean, they're ok, and I'll eat them at a party or with some beer or something. I like the baked ones ok. BUT. I have become obsessed with Kashi pita chips. I really need to stop with the pita chips. But they are so good! So amazingly good. And because they are from Kashi, I can lie to myself and say that they are good for me. Yesterday, I really wanted some, so I went to Wal-Mart. And they didn't have them! God, I hate Wal-Mart. I hate Wal-Mart more than I hate beets.

I have lost the will to watch Law and Order: SVU since Stabler left. A pour out for my homie.

Sometimes I feel like I am a girl without a country.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top Five Food Items to Bake this Fall

As you can tell, I'm really feeling the Top Five list lately. Why? I love lists. I work best off a list--just ask my boss who keeps them coming all day long (she is out of the office this morning, which gives me ample opportunity to write this). So when planning to enjoy my favorite season, I feel like I have to have one just to get everything done and properly enjoyed. Is that weird? There is something to be said for spontaneity, but I think I may have left that behind at around 23 or 24.

Fall is probably my favorite season. That is a popular feeling these days, as anyone with a Pinterest account can attest. Everywhere you look, people are posting pictures of golden leaves and pumpkins and everything flavored with pumpkin that you can possibly think of. I get it people--as a nation, we like pumpkin. Fall is also a very twee season, I think. Gone is Summer's blaze and the bikini-body-onslaught that defines it and we're not quite to the overall grandeur of the holiday season. Fall is stuck in the middle, being all cutesy and enticing with its sweater layers and homey appeal. There is no pressure in Fall, I don't think. It is a time to enjoy the outdoors but get used to the pleasantness of the indoors again. It is a liminal time, exalting in its being stuck in the middle.

Fall is definitely my favorite time to bake. I love baking year round, and holiday baking definitely has its own attraction, but there is something lovely about being in the kitchen in the fall. The ingredients that abound are amazing tasting with all the freshness of summer but the warmth of a winter fire.

To carve out time to take part in baking (as well as running and very possibly learning to ride a bike--more on this later), I took the step this weekend to start a weekly (or even biweekly) "Cooking Sunday." "Cooking Sunday" is a day for me to assemble meals and put them in the freezer for easy access during the week. This is something I've always thought of doing, but never quite got around to. This past Sunday, I made a huge batch of chili (that we had for dinner, with some of the leftovers stocked in the fridge for lunch this week and the rest frozen), cilantro lime chicken for tacos, carnitas, and chicken kiev. We had the chicken kiev last night, and despite a small hiccup with a (much) longer baking time than expected, it was delicious. And easy. And in fact, I spent a large portion of last night, sitting on my bed, wondering what I could possibly get into with my newly found spare time. Tonight, I plan to use that spare time to make blueberry muffins (which I meant to make on Sunday but didn't because I went to two parties instead!), stir together some homemade salsa, and perhaps, if I'm feeling spry, make some of my truffle cookies for Alice, who keeps looking at me with her huge eyes and saying "Choc-wate....COOKIE!." (I should note that this is a huge step for Alice, verbally, as until very recently, she called chocolate "Fuck cat." As in, when at a restaurant, my grandmother asked if she wanted some ice cream and she yelled, "YES! FUCK CAT!" and I had to say loudly and uneasily, "CHOCOLATE! SHE WANTS CHOCOLATE SUNDAE! HA HA!") Other days I plan to use that spare time to sit around on my couch and do absolutely nothing or to, you know, keep my daughter from becoming some kind of deranged pre-teen outlaw clad in gray jeggings and hair feathers who attacks Tokyo after she doesn't get enough "Likes" on her perfectly crafted Facebook status.

But, without further adieu (or rambling), here is a list of other things that I can't wait to make this fall:

1). Maple Walnut Fudge. I really like fudge, as the good people who staff Kilwin's in Gatlinburg, TN can tell you. Of course, the chocolate variety is my favorite, but I also love my grandmother's peanut butter fudge. And chocolate is kinda "done" too--my mom and I always make a batch to take at Christmas time, using the recipe she got off of the back of a Nestle package when she was my daughter's age. I'm really digging this stuff because it is different and oh so Fall. Plus, my grandmom always finds some great fresh walnuts that she passes on to me during Fall. Here is the recipe I plan to use, although I haven't done any other research to see if I have a different recipe (with pictures--always a plus when making candy!) in a cookbook at home.

2). Sourdough bread. I have been wanting to get a starter going forever, and this just might be the time. I'm really seeing this made into panini or with a big pot of soup. Planning on using the recipe set forth in The Cheese Board: Collective Works cookbook, from the shop/cafe I so adore in Berkeley.

3). Focaccia. Focaccia is delicious, and though I've made it a few times, I don't think I've ever really gotten the hang of it. I really plan to this time around. I feel like I've seen this in a Barefoot Contessa cookbook that is hanging around in my kitchen, although I could be vastly wrong. If all else fails, I will go with Joy of Cooking on this one--just a good basic to get me started.

4). Pumpkin Roll. Every cook in the South, it seems, has a day set by to just make pumpkin rolls. I am a glorious exception, because I will admit that I have never made one. My mom has made many of them in her day, maybe even sold a couple. I have made a Buche De Noel a few times, so I know the rolling technique, so perhaps I am well prepared for this task. Perhaps not. I would really like to find a kind of off-kilter pumpkin roll, maybe with cinnamon cream cheese in the middle. I really adore cinnamon cream cheese on red velvet cupcakes (just enough to say "HMMMMM...."), and feel like it is a natural here.

5). Classic Apple Pie. I have made many, many apple pies in my day, a lot of them for my Uncle Ricky who hides them and won't allow anyone else to have one. I always use the same recipe for his, from an old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook my mom got as a wedding present in 1973. When I make them for my dad, I like to use Granny Smith apples and a healthy slug of bourbon. My late grandmother preferred her apple filling on the top of a thin cheesecake with a vanilla wafer crust. This year, though, I want to perfect the art, maybe with some local apples. I've even considered perfecting a French tart while I'm at it, with a pate brisee crust. And when I do it, the pie will be all mine. No sharing allowed.

Does Fall bring out the cooking bug in you? If so, please share your recipes and secrets!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Top 5 Fall Desires

I have to admit that I am a bit behind on going shopping for Fall. I usually don't take my kids Back to School shopping per se because it is still pretty freaking hot in VA when they go back to school, so I know that new jeans will go unworn for at least a few weeks. Plus, I have discovered that things that look awesome before school starts might be eschewed for a a newer style or desire once classes actually commence. This year, I made the plan to take them later, and I thought I would just do my shopping at around the same time. After all, my mom has moved to an area with lots of outlet malls and other shopping destinations, so I planned to visit her once she got settled and take advantage of the plentiful options. And in all the busy-ness of going back to school and having Allie's birthday and cleaning out my garage and just generally BEING ME, I haven't even really looked online to pick up a few things like I normally would.

But now I can feel the nights getting cooler and the mornings starting to feel crisper. I adore Fall, I really do--that nip in the air takes me back to college and walking on brick sidewalks with leaves swirling around my ankles. Sipping strong coffee and reading Paradise Lost. Good stuff. Moreover, I love Fall clothes--the sweaters, the tweed, THE BOOTS. But I feel lost a bit this year, not having purchased anything new for my coffers. Sure, I have the stuff from last year. But there is something sublime about that first new sweater of the season, the way your arms feel when it is no longer oppressive to have that nubby fabric on your arms but instead, welcome. So I find myself dreaming a bit, taking lunch hour jaunts to my favorite websites and planning, planning, planning. I made my lists over the weekend (both for me and for my lovely darlings), and I am starting to feel on top of things.

*I guess I should note here that making fashion lists of "Must Haves" each season is another indication of my particular brand of cray-cray, but it is also wholly helpful if you are trying to build a wardrobe and don't want to end up with a whole bunch of say, long sleeve t-shirts, and nothing else. It is just like going to the grocery store--you wouldn't go there without a plan, I dare to say, so why attack a whole season worth of clothes purchasing without a well-defined list to keep you in order? So yes, crazy, but helpful, and budget friendly.

Here is my Top 5 List of things to look for, with a heads up that there will be more. Oh yes. More.

1. Orange Full Skirt. The plan heading out of the gate, at least, was orange. Now I'm starting to think a nice golden yellow would be nice, even something the color of olive oil. This is a bit of a tricky purchase, so it is a bit odd that it is at the top of my list, as I am short and full skirts, unless they are the perfect length, have a tendency to send me on the one way express to StumpyTown. This is a contender right now (only available in the yellow color that I spoke of), but maybe not as full as I want. And I'm really partial to the orange. I feel I'm going to have to try a few of these on, even if I end up ordering online, just to get my bearings. Right now, I'm seeing it with this shirt that I bought earlier this week or with its unpatterned cousin which hangs in my closet and these lovely shoes, which I own in my dreams. Or with cognac boots which you will be seeing further down. I also see it with a neutral v-neck, perhaps in merino. I had this gorgeous ivory J. Crew merino v-neck in California, but I lost weight and it doesn't fit anymore (the hidden, soft, white underbelly of going to a smaller size), but I would love to find a dupe. And we all know me and my preponderence of black sweaters and other tops--this would be a great way of utlizing those.

2. Blazers--tweed and bright. The last few seasons, I've really wanted some nice jackets, but I haven't gotten them. Well, I take that back--last year, I got a great tweed moto jacket, and a ponte moto jacket at Gap on Black Friday that I love and can't wait to pull out again. But as far as blazers go, I've struck out mightily each year. The fit is always a bit off or the look is too stuffy for me. Maybe I just don't know what to pair them with. Or maybe I have Hulk arms.... This year, though, I'm coming back to the plate. I love the brightness of this velvet Schoolboy from J.Crew, but I'm not totally sure about the velvet yet--for some reason, it screams holiday dress to me. If I could figure out a way to style it with items I already have, I know I'd be drooling. Last year, I missed out on a beautiful houndstooth jacket at Gap that I have been dreaming about since (I had it in my hand! In my size! But I talked myself out of it, and I have regretted it ever since), but I feel like the longer length on this riding jacket might work and finally make me forget it. I'm feeling that with jeans and boots on the weekend.

3. Bright/printed pencils. I have realized lately that it does me no favors to purchase work pants for myself. I'm just not as comfortable in them. Sure, it is nice to have a pair of well-fitting black slacks in my closet for a day when nothing else works, but more and more, I find myself gravitating toward skirts and dresses. I used to think that skirts fit me weirdly, but either my body has changed or the skirts have because I am wearing my standard black J. Crew pencil to death. And although basic black is versatile and great, I'm really feeling the bright colors I'm seeing lately. Of course, I am partial to J. Crew's loveliness here, but it is not on sheer inertia of brand loyalty. Their pencils do have the best fit, and I feel, the best bang for the buck as far as classic style and quality fabric. The printed varieties at J. Crew Factory are also lovely, but I do warn that the quality is not as good--I've had a particular skirt to my grandmother for repairs at least 3 times here (seam falling, back slit issues, a strange hole in the waistline). I also dig the ponte varieties I have seen, including the real steals at New York and Company--the plum one I recently purchased is no longer available online, but the deals are great, and I found the fabric to be thick and to hang nicely.

4. Cognac Boots. If you follow me on Pinterest you know that I have been a bit obsessive about finding the perfect pair(s) of boots. I have a pair of black riding boots that I like a lot (and whose appearance belies the cheap price I paid for them) and a pair of well-loved Frye Harnesses in a tan color. I want to add to my collection this season--if there is one thing that I can wear that maks me feel like a million bucks, it is a pair of boots. I have wrestled with whether I am going to buy one pair of holy-crap-amazing-I'll-be-buried-in-these-suckers boots (i.e., another pair of Frye's) or if I want to get a couple of pairs of pleasant, nice, gets-the-job-done pairs now and hope that I happen into a bit of cash around the holidays and pony up for Fryes then. I am opting toward the first option for now, mostly because I have started to come up with outfit ideas that utilize more than the one pair. Plus, it takes the pressure off of me a bit to get the PERFECT pair and allows me to experiment a bit with looks so that I know what to look for when the time comes to lay down the big dough. My first pair, I'm thinking right now, will be a cognac pair. I especially am loving the look with black--especially a black jersey dress and tights (see below!) or black riding pants and a black tunic-y sweater-y thing and a turquoise necklace (just go with me on this--I saw a similar ensemble on Bruce Springsteen's wife on a benefit concert I was watching and it was magical). Right now, I contemplating these which I know have been done TO DEATH, but which are at the price point that I'm looking at right now. Moreover, I like the wedge heel on them and think I could dress up/dress down pretty easily. I still am looking for suggestions, though, so if you have one, you know where to find me.

5. Black jersey dress. I have lived the summer in dresses, mostly ones made of jersey. I am wearing one right now come to think of it (with a cardigan and sensible office footwear, of course). Facing a world without this quick option in my closet? NO THANK YOU. A few requirements--it has to have sleeves so that I can wear it without a cardigan or jacket (I will probably pair with another layer most of the time, but I want to have the option not to), it can't be too long, it can't look weird with tights, and, most importantly, I have to be able to wear it to work and on the weekends, no problems. Too much to ask? I hope not. I haven't found "the one" yet (and really feel like this might be an in-person grab when I do), but here's something similar. Simple, to the point, and versatile.

So what is on your must buy list this season?

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Top 5 Beauty Items EVAH

I know that the last few posts to this blog have been of the Debbie Downer variety. Sorry about that. Life has been busy and not altogether fun the last few weeks, but that doesn't mean that it is all bad. It does mean, however, that the only times I've actually taken the time to come out with something on the ole blog is when I'm feeling overwhelmed or tired or upset and just needed an outlet. And I will say that writing each of those posts made me feel much better. Hitting that "publish post" button is kind of like my therapy.

But you know what else makes me feel good? BEAUTY PRODUCTS. They make me feel like I'm on crack--a really nice crack that doesn't make me lose my teeth or force me into any situations where I have to consider what horrible things I would do to a Republican senator for a little scratch. I get this honestly--growing up, many nights that started off poorly would end in a trip to a quiet beauty counter in some desolate Belk's and a new lip gloss. Witness this verbatim (as best as I can remember it) conversation with my mother, who recently moved:

Mom: Well, I'll just pick it up when I go to Dillard's next week.
Me: What are you getting at Dillard's?
Mom: Well, I just haven't been to that one yet. And I need to go find it and see what it's like. For when I need it.

And yeah, I knew exactly what she meant. And for those of you who don't, you have to realize that she recently took a teaching assignment at a college that had an Ulta on the same exit. That wasn't the only reason, but it was a big draw. For when she needs it.

So without further adieu, I give you My Top 5 Beauty Items, EVAH.

1. Nars Orgasm Blush. (See an original post about it here.) Nars Orgasm is that kind of holy grail product that you find once in a lifetime. It is kind of like true love in that regard. What makes it so special? Well, the color for one. It's that "Oh look at my cheeks! ONLY BETTAH!" kind of look. There is a bit of subtle sheen that comes off fresh--not tarty or too young. Also, this stuff lasts. And lasts. And lasts. I have used this every day of my life for about 4 years (it is a very true fact that I wore it while in labor with Alice and touched it up that afternoon--a fact which many of the nurses found to be humorous) and I'm only on my second compact. That should tell you something. Lastly, this stuff looks good on everyone. My mom wears it and she is 56 and has a much different skintone than me. She even has it in The Multiple. And as we have discussed together, the color really seperates the women from the girls. It takes a strong ass woman to walk into a Sephora and say loudly and proudly, "I'll take one of your finest ORGASMS please!"

2. Moroccan Oil. (Original post here.) They say that absence makes the heart go fonder, and that may not be true in all cases. Absence sometimes makes the heart go on Facebook and rekindle with lost loves. Or it makes the heart start hitting on that cute Starbucks barrista who really understands you...and how to shake your double shot to perfection. But when it comes to some hair products, this is very true. I had Moroccan Oil and I loved it. Dreamed of it. Wanted to marry it in a very twee ceremony where we read vowels printed off the internet and take pictures of our hands making hearts. And then I ran out. It was over the summer and I was busy and had started cutting my own bangs, so I wasn't at the salon to replenish my stock. I thought about ordering more online, but didn't. Either I kept forgetting or I went over my budget for the week or I was on vacation. You know the drill. So I went without. And I'll say, my hair missed the stuff. I started getting gnarly tangles on the back-right of my head. I would pull them out, soak them with conditioner, and then they'd come back. Weird. The ends of my hair looked deader--fried even. Some of this I attributed to summer activities--FUN IN THE SUN, YO--but it was then that I realized that the major difference was the Moroccan Oil. As soon as I bought it again and remembered how to use it (start with a little on ends and work up through wet hair), life continued on and again and my hair was shiny, lustrous, and AWESOME. And the world continued spinning on its axis.

3. L'Oreal The One Sweep Eye Shadow: When I first wrote about this here, I was not as enthused with this product as perhaps I should have been. It was servicable, yes, but not something fantastic or life changing. It was pretty. Definitely pretty. However, I didn't realize just how awesome it was until I my life got a good deal more demanding after summer was over and the kids were back in school. Then it became imperative for me to get ready even faster (since I have to be at work 30 minutes earlier than I used to) and to look even prettier (new title means I'm with the public more). That's when I realized that this stuff is magic. In just a few rushed minutes, I can put on my whole face of make-up, including eye shadow, which used to be the hardest part (and the most likely for me to skip). When I'm feeling especially daring, I've found that a little liner picks the whole thing up. The most conclusive evidence that I like this stuff? Not only did I repurchase it when I ran out, I got three more colors. And for a girl that never repurchases, that just goes after the next shiny thing like some sort of terrier on meth, this is saying something.

4. MAC Mineralize Satinfinish Foundation. This is another one of those, "You don't know what you've got, till it's go-one" kind of things. I used to buy this stuff when I lived in California. I'll admit that first I bought it because I just really liked how this particular drag queen who did makeovers put it on me. It is the one time in my life that I looked in the mirror and thought, "HOLY CRAP, I LOOK STUNNING." But then I realized that even with my untalented paws applying it, it was still pretty damn nice. I have a hard time finding foundation because I am exceedingly white, and everything that I try and like gets discontinued (AHEM, PRESCRIPTIVES.), but this has been around for at least 5 years and still works like a charm. And it's funny--I fight its working. I have tried everything else since I found it--drugstore brands, other prestige brands--and always wish I had gotten this. Which brings me to a good point--if you find something you like, you're probably not going to find something that measures up. I have wasted tons of money trying to pick up something that would be just as good, or do in a pinch and failed miserably each time. So you best sack up, drive the hour and a half to go pay $40 for it, buy yourself a caramel macchiato on the way home and just forget about it.

5. Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Rose (See my original review here) When I bought this, I went typically ga-ga for it, as I well should have. It is awesome, the lipbalm equivalent of coming home to find Ryan Gosling in your living room holding a plate of chocolate eclairs and a declawed baby koala. To be honest, though, when I bought it, I thought of it as a typically spring/summer product--light, airy, easy to apply and cute. However, as we have inched into Fall, I've seen that this product is going to be in my purse (and in my makeup bag and in my desk drawer--yes, I have three tubes) all year round. The color is the perfect "totally my lips, but better" and I love that the formula moisturizes well while looking pretty. As someone who is a chronic lipbiter when confronted with a stressful situation, I can say that this product does a wonder on my lips, even after the worst day. It is my go-to lipcolor for work and play, and I love it, in the way that my daughter loves Dora, deserts love the rain, and Justin Bieber loves the nose candy (What? You don't think he does? Did you see that movie? That's the only excuse for that nonsense.).

In closing, I will point out that combined together, these products not only allow you to have sex with Joe Mauer, they allow you to take him on an apple picking excursion where you have a charming photo shoot with a pile of leaves, wear cardigans from Anthropologie, and drink pumpkin spice lattes from an independant coffee house, possibly out of those big mugs that are more like bowls and that you bought a lot of when you were in college, thinking you would make your own coffee, and then you were like, "Fuck this noise. I'm just going to eat an entire box of cereal out of this crap and watch E! until I puke." And then, you know, you'll have sex and fall asleep in a lovely pile on a bed with sheets that he lovingly knitted together for you out of old Twins t-shirts, using a pattern that he pinned on Pinterest just last week. It's like that, yo.

So, if you need me, I'll be the girl in the cardigan, waiting for the Twins' no good, very bad season to end and patiently reapplying her lipbalm.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11

I'll just be honest and say I've never really observed September 11. I've never paid attention to the specials on TV or watched the various memorials. The date served as a small reminder of the day, but nothing more.

This year has been different. My kids have shown a real interest in it, as they are both at the age to where things like this are questionable. They both like history, and because of that, both like the History Channel. And the History Channel shows a lot of September 11 documentaries and things like that. We watched a couple of them as a family, and I answered the precipitating questions about each. In doing so, I thought a lot more about the event than I have since it happened.

The most obvious question that anyone asks is the ubiquitous "Where were you?" kind of thing. I was 18. It was my freshman year of college at The College of William and Mary; I had been at college for just a few weeks. I was living on my own for the first time, such as it was--interestingly, I was living in a hotel room as the dorm I had been assigned to was being ripped apart because they had found asbestos in it. I was taking English 203, Calculus, Biological Anthropology, and a freshman seminar called Indian Fiction. I had a crush on the professor of that one.

On September 11, I got up early and went to my 9:30 Biological Anthropology class. I rode a bus from the hotel, and I remember being the only one on it. I was the kind of kid, at least during my freshman year, that showed up early for class so that she could review her reading and make extra notes and generally just be ready. I got to the room where the class was held, Washington 201, which is one of the biggest rooms on Old Campus--one of the only ones that can fit over 100 students. I took a seat in the middle of the right side even though I was the only one there. A guy who was a real gunner--my God this guy was annoying, which means that he's probably a doctor now--showed up. We had never talked before, but all of a sudden, there he was, right beside my seat. He asked me if I knew what was going on, and I told him that I didn't. He told me about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. I don't really remember having a reaction. I remember thinking that it must have been a horrible accident. We talked for a bit, then he went to his seat, and then he got up and started walking around. Again, I didn't think anything of it. Nervous guy--nervous energy.

Matt was taking the same class that semester. We had planned to take a class together, even though at the beginning of that semester, we were not really getting along. We did enjoy the class though--well, I take that back. We both hated the class, thought the professor was arrogant and a little weird. But it was fun having someone in there who rolled their eyes at all the same times. We generally sat together and commiserated for an hour and a half and then went our separate ways for the day.

Matt came in around the same time that lots of other people were coming in, which is unusual since he was usually late. He said that he had been brushing his teeth back in the French house and had seen the second plane hit. It was about that time that people started realizing what was happening. We talked quietly until the professor came in. She was weirder than usual and we spent the first part of class with just everyone comparing notes on what they had seen or heard. At some point, her teaching assistant came in and whispered that a plane had hit the Pentagon. The professor told us, and all Hell broke loose. Most kids who go to W&M have some relationship with the D.C. area: either they live there themselves or they are a diplobrat or have a family member working in the government. People started getting up and running out. A few people screamed. I remember a girl standing in the hallway, crying and punching numbers on her cellphone. Matt and I left, but didn't really know where to go. We walked together to the University Center, more following the crowd than anything. I remember laughing uneasily on the way there--I had not seen any footage yet, and nothing felt really "real." I remember thinking that this all could be some elaborate joke.

When we got to the U.C., we watched the towers fall on the big screen TV there. People cried and hugged each other. I remember being really numb about the whole thing. I guess I was scared. I felt strange and out of it--unlike most of my classmates, I didn't know anyone in D.C. or New York. I had been to both cities--had a picture of myself on a ferry with the World Trade Center in the background hanging in my dorm room. But I had no idea how to feel. I bought myself a peanut butter mocha frappuccino thing from the college coffee house and walked to Calculus, thinking I'd get out of that and go home. The professor, a very strange Canadian man who just may have been a sociopath, told us that he didn't understand what the big deal was and made us do a bunch of problems that none of us understood. What a douche. But what can you expect from the country that gave us Nickelback?

It wasn't until I got back to my hotel room and started watching TV that the whole gravity of the situation hit me. I started to get scared, watching the military units from around Newport News and Norfolk starting to go into threat stage. I finally got a hold of my mom, who begged me to go to stay with my uncle in Richmond. Why? I have no idea. I sent an especially fraught email to the professor I had a crush on, who advised me to come to his office the next day and gave me some Buddhist texts to read before I came. Like a boss.

And then Matt came over to my room. We watched the footage for a while, and then decided we had to get away from it. Since I was living off-campus, I had my car, so we went out to eat at Ruby Tuesday. I have no idea how we picked it--a lot of places were closed, but Ruby Tuesday was open. We were the only people in the restaurant. We went to Target and then came back to campus. I did some homework, talked with my roommate, and went to bed. Matt and I promised to see each other the next day, and I was fine with that. We saw each other for every day after that, as I'm sure you know.

And I still didn't know what to think or how to feel.

A few days following the attack, classes were dismissed for the day. I went to the campus's memorial, and finally, the waves of grief and sadness started hitting me. On my way back to my room, I picked up a copy of our college's newspaper. On the front, I saw the shining eyes of a girl, much like myself. She was an alumna, had graduated the year before and she had died when the plane hit World Trade Center 1.

I read enough to find out that like me, she was a mother. She had balanced having a child (born before her senior year at W&M) with getting her degree. She was married to another W&M alum. She was from VA. She was beautiful and full of life and resilient and intelligent. And now, she was gone.

Seeing that face is what brought it home to me. Just what we had lost. I think of her every year, wonder what her life would have been like if she had been late for work that morning. Every year, I think about her in relation to my own life--Would she have moved? Left NY? Would she worry about her daughter growing up too fast, the same as me?

The year I've thought about her the most. Her daughter and my oldest daughter are the same ages, and I have started to wonder if they will ever meet--if they will both follow the route of their parents and go to W&M. I wonder if she would message her daughter on Facebook like I do, even when that daughter is just a room away, if she would send her daughter funny pictures of dogs in bathing suits. And my youngest is two now, the same age as that daughter on 9/11/01. What would it be like to leave her now?

Gabby has asked me lots of questions this last week. Where was I? What did I do? Was I scared? I have answered truthfully. She asked me how I felt that day. And I am truthful there to. I told her that I didn't know how to feel. And that that didn't change, until I met someone who I wish I had known earlier, who I think of every year, who I would give lots of things just to buy a coffee for one day and share memories about pushing a stroller around the Sunken Gardens.

Rest in peace, Alysia.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Morgan and the Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day

I realize how horrible it is that I come back from an extended hiatus, where the last post was a typical sadsack type affair in which I quoted a Ryan Adams song and became very dramatic and angsty, and I return with a title like the one I just typed. But here's the thing. When today is over, as it will be in just 10 glorious hours, I will laugh about all this. Because from the outside, all of this is comical in a wonderful, belly laughing way. Perhaps for you it will be comical right now. And from what I've read on blogs and via Facebook status message, today just sucks for everyone, all around. Today, Tuesday, September 6, is just a giant douche. It should die in a fire.

Let me first start out by saying that it has rained here FOREVER. It started over the weekend, continued into yesterday and is still sort of sprinkling right now. Rain in VA at this time of year is usually of the variety that only sticks around for a bit, an hour tops, and then dissipates . This, however, has been unrelenting. Now, I know this is small potatoes for those of you affected by hurricanes and tornadoes and all of the jazz, but let me be clear: this blows. Unless you are at home, under your covers with a good book, there is absolutely nothing good that can come of this. Again, with emphasis: BLOW-Y.

The rain yesterday was so heavy that it caused a leak in my house. I, in all my years of living on my own, have never had a leak. This is important because it explains why I was running through the house when I discovered it, yelling insane things about buckets and towels and rain boots. Where does the leak spring up? Well, of all places that it could have happened, of all easily discoverable places, it happens behind my closed closet door. So I don't notice it or hear it until well after it got started. So all of my clothes got wet. Puddles formed inside of my pumps. I don't have to tell you that that BLOWS. I took things out of the closet, but I didn't get everything in time, of course.

So with that in mind, and just for ease, and well, because you guys seemed to like it last time I did it, I will give you a brief, truthful run-down of my day:
--Get up. Wonder if I am being tortured for sins committed in a past life. Getting up after a three day weekend is like that.
--Take a shower. Everything is still going ok here. I am surprised.
--Wander into kitchen. Realize that I have neglected to buy anything for breakfast the day before. Eat a cookie and drink some orange juice. NUTRITION! (I should point out that the cookies are ok, nutrition wise, made from this recipe.)
--Wander back into bathroom to blow dry hair. Find that the water and leak has tripped up the wiring, so now none of the outlets in the bathroom have power. Fiddle around with it, thinking I can fix it if I just click it on ONE MORE TIME until I have very little time to get ready.
--End up putting hair in very unfortunate ponytail.
--Realize that nearly all clothes are wet with rain.
--Find favorite chambray shirt clean and pressed. SCORE. Decide to wear it. Realize then that all of my bras and shapewear are wet from being washed on gentle the night before and totally forgotten in the washing machine. Shirt cannot be worn with out a cami underneath as it comes unbuttoned easily. DRATS.
--Find a sweater and cami from fall of last year and put them on. Try not to notice that the arms of the sweater are a tinge tighter this year. (If you had seen what I ate over the weekend, you wouldn't be a bit surprised.) Also try not to notice that horrible bra straps from horrible bra (only one not being washed) can easily sneak out from behind sweater neckline.
--Get the kids up. Gabby is abnormally grouchy. Sam has a meltdown when I tell him that we don't have cereal. Offer toast, eggs, any imaginable breakfast food. He refuses to eat any of them, and falls in a sleepy heap on the couch, rising only to eat a small cup of yogurt when begged, pleaded with, and cajoled.
--Put on make-up and a lot of jewelry, hoping that this masks the fact that rest of me looks like crap.
--Get kids out the door. Gabby lets slip that she has received a text message from an old acquaintance telling her that the school she attends is closing. Tell her this is a rumor and not to worry about it. Quietly wonder if it is true.
--Get to work. Check bank account. Realize a deposit that I thought had been made had not because of the holiday. Quietly freak out.
--Find huge stack of files and collection of passive aggressive notes left by boss who worked on Labor Day. Plot her demise. Smile graciously when she arrives to work.
--Call vice principal of school re: rumor and the independant study class that Gabby is taking (and I am supervising). Try to ignore her tone of voice regarding the class (more on this later). Have her tell me school will "probably not" close.
--Fire off slightly stressed sounding email to superintendent of schools. (It is best just to get out of my way on days like this.)
--Call insurance company to ask a question about vision benefits. Get so angry about phone answering system (and the fact that I don't have our policy number handy) that I hang up phone in disgust. Vision benefits can suck it! I'll buy my own damn glasses! Pay for my own appointments!
--Think better of this.
--Spend all day in quiet war with neverending stack of files on my desk.

Seeing it all typed out here, it sounds rather benign. It has not felt that way. But perhaps having typed it all out is a way of coping, a way of seeing it and saying, "Well, ok, that's not so bad! Chin up ole chap!"

I have to admit that I typed this out for another reason too. This past weekend, I went over to a friend's house to drop off some clothes she had purchased from me. We were chatting as she went through the items and we started talking about being a mom and and a wife in this time of Facebook and blogging and all of the other stuff that the demise of our world will probably be blamed on. We both ended up sort of lamenting the lack of "real-ness" out there, how that we both felt that we were floundering sometimes in the face of all of the "perfection" put out there by others.

And that's the thing about the internet--everyone is perfect here. Or at least that's what they would have you believe. No one admits that they have bad days or that somedays, they come to work with their bra straps hanging out but they just don't give a damn. No one lets it slip that they sometimes have cash flow issues, that best laid plans are derailed by having to get their damn breaks fixed on their damn car, that it is becoming more and more rare that they make it out for a run, that some days their house is a veritible sea of toys that they are lucky to wade through to the front door.

I'm here to tell you that I am not perfect. That my life today is a grand scale of fuck-uppery. That I've had a bad day, and it is mostly my fault--I forgot to take out the bras, I didn't buy the cereal, I didn't pay close enough attention to my bank account.

But oh well. Live and learn. And hopefully, September 6 will go peacefully and die in the corner like the horrible, mangy dog that it is.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

When the Stars Go Blue

It's only Tuesday. But it has already been that kind of week around here.

Without getting into anything in particular, I'll just say that nothing in my life seems to be going particularly well at the moment. There is a blind feeling of speeding down a path that is not one that I want to go down right now. And, perhaps most pervasive, there is a sense of loss for a person that I knew for such a fleeting, relatively short time.

So here I sit at my desk, wearing all black and listening to the Ryan Adams station on Pandora like some lovesick 20 year old. I kinda don't know what to do with myself. Where ever I find myself, whatever I am doing, it doesn't seem quite right, doesn't seem to be what I really need to be doing.

Mama said there'd be days like these I suppose. Kind thoughts appreciated. Also appreciated: bottles of wine.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Let's Talk "Birthday"

Alice turns two a week from today. This is a monumental event. Not really because of the birthday itself, per se, but because at that point, we will officially be in the "Terrible Two's" and I'll be able to explain any of her wild behavior by saying, "SHE'S TWO, FOR CHRISSAKES!!!" Perhaps then whoever I'm talking to will understand a bit and put down the taser and the elephant tranquilizers.

I'll just be straight and say that sure, I remember my kid's birthdays. If you manage to push something out of yourself that weighs over five pounds or so you tend to remember the date(s) you did it. However, it sure doesn't hurt that starting about a month before each one, my mother starts asking, "What you going to do for Alice's birthday?" And I have to start coming up with something to get her off my back. I've started to get really creative. When she asked for about the fourth time while we were at the beach (which says something about her nutty-professor forgetfulness), I said, "Well, I thought about getting some strippers and one of those cakes in the shape of a penis. And I'm thinking of calling Vince Neil and see if he'll do the entertainment." I don't think she has asked since. What's funny is that now my father has gotten into the act. Ya'll, we are at Threat Con Delta when my dad is starting to get curious about birthday parties. I even went, "Seriously? You're asking me about this?" He goes, "Um, yeah," and I say, "Well, ok, um....."

I'm not one of those mothers, as you've probably guessed, that thinks about her kid's birthday parties for a year. My husband used to work with someone who reserved spaces for her kids' parties up to two years in advance. I know of people who get caterers. Nope. Not me. I definitely want my kids to have a special day, but there's a limit, you know? And even if I don't spend the better part of my life obsessing over it, I think I throw a pretty mean party. Here's what I do:

1. Buy some streamers and some plates with whatever character/color the kid likes.
2. Clean the house.
3. Make a bunch of food. People like food. I like preparing food. We're good.

There. Done. There is really not a lot of planning involved. ESPECIALLY when your kid is 2. I mean, what is she going to do? Have a crapload of people over and do body shots? Fly her closest friends to Vegas? SHE'S TWO. She knows very few people outside of our families, and even if she knew everyone in our area code, the fact remains that SHE IS TWO. Give her a spoonful of frosting and a cardboard box with a wooden spoon and she's good for a couple of hours.

I've kind of pulled the whole thing out of my ass, basically just to answer the myriad "What are you doing for Allie's birthday?" questions, but here's my plan. Ask everyone to bring a book since that is her favorite thing (besides, of course, destroying Tokyo). Dress her up in a red dress and striped tights so she looks like Olivia, her favorite character. Make lots of red foods, since Olivia likes red and Alice loves tomato sauce. BOOM. Did I just blow your mind with my party planning magic? Really? Because I literally came up with that shit in the 30 seconds of saying "Uhhhh...." after my mother in law asked what I was doing for the anniversary of my child's birth. Oh, and make this cake. I don't know why I want to do that so badly--I assure you, it is mostly for my own selfish reasons such as I love making Martha's swiss meringue buttercream, I have a lot of gel food coloring that I like using (I keep it in a tackle box!), blah blah blah.

When I was a kid, my mom would bake me a Wilton cake, this (obviously) being one of my favorites. One year she did that and bought me a whoopie cushion. That was the best birthday EVER. Sure, I got gifts every year. But there was no big party. Sometimes I got a sleepover. But that was it. I had two parties that didn't take place in our living room--one at McDonald's when I was four, and another at the Pizza Hut across the road from my house. I am just fine, ya'll. I'm not going to go shoot up a party supply store because I didn't ever have pony rides on my special day. My kids will be fine too. In fact, I'm sure they'll look back and think, "Golly gee whillickers, that sure was fun!" Because birthdays are fun by their very nature. You eat cake, you get gifts, people wear funny hats. No pony rides needed.

My only real issue right now is setting the date. Matt has this thing where he thinks we should do the party on her actual birthday, but that is a Thursday, and I know I'll be super tired from work and from whatever else life decides to throw my way that day (the universe doesn't give you a freebie on your kid's birthday, I'm sorry to report). I want to do it Labor Day weekend where I have some time and everyone can come and not feel stressed about getting back home/to work/etc. That will be a little bit after her actual birthday (like a week and a half), but SHE'S TWO, lest we forget. And I thought we'd do a little something on her day, like I'll make her some enchiladas (thinking of making this weekend and putting in the fridge/freezer so that I get maximum play time with her that day) and maybe a Wilton cake of my own (a small one). Just a little recognition of the day. Does anyone think that is neglectful of me? I hope not.

So weigh in on birthdays, if you like? Big deal or not so much? What was your most memorable childhood birthday? I'd love to hear about it.

Moment of Zen

I am not a pretty girl. Never have been. (There are a ton of pictures on Facebook from my family vacation that will attest to this fact, but if you are my friend and you are judging, let me just say that if you had my husband, and he was making you do the things he was making us all do, you would look similar.) I've always been "cute" or "fun" or "smart" or had someone comment on my eyes or my skin or my hair. Never the total package. I'm the Jessie Spano to the rest of the world's collective Kelly Kapowski. And I'm ok with that. I'm never going to be gorgeous, just as I'm never going to be (consistently) a size 2 and I'm never going to learn Chinese and I'm never going to be an Olympic gymnast.

But I do fix up pretty well. It has taken me 28 long years, but I've started to get the hang of looking "pulled together." I can put together an outfit, I know how many accessories are too many, what kind of cuts flatter my figure, where to buy my clothes. I know that my hair looks best when hot rollered or pulled stick, stick straight, and that a bit of Smashbox Lip Gloss in Radiant at 2:00 p.m. (combined with a Diet Coke from McDonald's) will make me look more awake. Yes, these are things that I've worked on over the course of years. But they are also the kind of things that I take pride in. It's my "thing." If you come to my house, you will not find designer home furnishings, and I do not drive a fancy, or even nice, car. But I have no debt (other than no-good, very-bad, awful student loans) and I look nice on a day to day basis. Those are my goals, and I'm happy with them.

Looking pulled together, however, is not a goal of lots of those around me here in my rural area. You don't know how totally REFRESHING it was to be in DC last week and see people everyday on the train, at a museum, at a restaurant, who had obviously taken pride in what they put on that morning. Matt and I both noticed it. I surreptitiously pulled out a little W&M notepad to write down future outfit ideas on the train, so impressed was I by what I saw. Was it everyone? No. But there were people there who, like me, gave a damn. And it was nice.

But, alas, like I said previously, living here you don't see that a lot. I went to the grocery store on my lunch break today to pick up stuff for breakfast for dinner tonight (trying out some new [healthy] dishes and will definitely report on here how it goes!). I was just kind of happily walking about picking up my stuff, so pleased to be at the grocery store without having to entertain Alice or make sure that Gabby and Sam aren't picking up stuff with crazy faux-ingredients. I walked past a couple a few times who were also buying stuff. I'll just be frank and say that they looked quite poor and probably addicted to something. Both were dressed in oversized sweats and t-shirts. The girl was wearing some flip flops and had her hair pulled back into a messy ponytail, no make-up. To be honest, it didn't really register, because this is kind of the going look in the grocery store here (and probably, sadly, a lot of places). However, I noticed the guy kind of smiling at me a couple of times. Most notably, I was picking up some bittersweet chocolate and some coarse sea salt (for a special back-to-school week treat for the fam) in the baking aisle, and I almost backed into him. I smiled and apologized, just the same as I would do if he were an 80 year old grandmother or a dignitary or a spider from Mars. I could feel him watching me as I walked back to my cart and on down the aisle.

The girlfriend, however, didn't take this too well. We checked out around the same time, she and he a bit ahead of me. By the time I paid and got my stuff back in the cart, she and he had taken their things and settled on a bench in the front of the store, presumably to wait on someone else. As I was walking by, I heard girlfriend say loudly (and pointedly), "I DON'T KNOW WHO THE HELL SHE THINKS SHE IS, BUT I FEEL SORRY FOR HER BECAUSE THAT SHIT CAN'T BE COMFORTABLE."

It took me a minute to figure it out, but when I did, I looked out of the corner of my eye. She was glaring right at me. The boyfriend was kind of nervously giggling at this point and going, "Nah, nah, you know it ain't like that," as I picked up my stuff out of the cart to walk out to the car.

That, my friends, was my moment of zen.

To be honest, it is pretty comfortable. Right now I'm wearing a denim pencil skirt, a white sleeveless shirt that is a bit loose and a lavender cardigan. Nothing fancy. My only jewelry is a pair of drop earrings made out of different colored pastel stones. I am also wearing black croco peep toe heels that I've had forever. I blew out my hair this morning and straightened it--almost halfway, to be honest, because I had to get lunches packed.

But regardless of what it is, even if I were wearing something boned or heels an inch higher or a shorter skirt, it would still be more comfortable than a lack of self-confidence. Because being happy with what you've got is a whole hell of a lot more welcoming than a pair of ratty sweatpants anyday.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dear Alice:

This past week, Alice, we went on a vacation to Washington, D.C. You will remember it kindly as the "trip where Mama threatened to sell me to gypsies."

Alice, I love you, more than words can ever express. You are amazing in the way you can light up a room, in the glorious effervescence of your face and actions. You are bubbly and bright and you have the most amazing smile.

But, girlfriend, you are, in the words of my grandmother, SOMETHING ELSE.

During our one week trip, you did the following: 1) terrorized a tiny Chinese restaurant until the management plied you with extra chop sticks and some cookies, 2) tried to escape a Metro car, 3) yelled "GOD LO-OVES YOU" (which you learned at bible school a few weeks back) over and over again to every person walking between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument with us like some crazed Jehovah's Witness with a methamphetamine problem, 4) picked up about 40 sticks in a park and then laid them at the feet of the poor guy who was supposed to be leading us on a Lincoln Assassination walking tour, 5) other things too numerous to even begin to count.

Part of this is our fault, I suppose, in that we didn't really consider the fact that you would be nearly two years old when planning this trip. Our bad. Another part of this is that your behavior has gone to 11 this past month or so, the trip being no exception. So while we could have seen this coming, I guess, I don't think there was any way to really know how, erm, far-reaching your personality development would be. At this point in your short life, it is hard to guage what you will be from minute to minute--for instance, you were fine at other restaurants we visited during our trip. Perhaps you just didn't like the decor of that poor Chinese establishment.

And as much as your behavior exasperates me at times, I have to say that I love it. You are spirited in a way that is refreshing and fun, in a way that is much different from your older siblings. Sure, you're a bit loud at times. Yeah, you like to run. But you are also sweet and kind, and whenever I say something to you about it, you go, "Saw-wee, Mama!" and I can tell that you genuinely are. I want to see you have that spirit forever, that wild-eyed lust for life. I posted a picture of you on Facebook with that gleam in your eye, and a friend commented that she wished she could bottle your happiness. I agree wholeheartedly, wishing that I could bottle it for when you turn 12 and have some kind of boy issues or a friend who is not so much a friend any more. I sincerely hope that I can always look into your eyes and see that burgeoning mischief.

You and I are alike in a lot ways--same kind of rebellious spirit, same general joviality. In a way, I almost look to you, wishing I still had a bit of that wildness, that devil may care attitude. I think of that, of a tattoo that I've wanted to get since college, and think that because of you, I might just do it.

So, Alice, no matter how many sighes I heave, no matter how many cross words leave my tongue, I never really want you to change. Sure, I don't want to have to apologize for the 10th time to the poor little woman with the cookies and chopsticks, and I'd rather not have to whisk you away to the bathroom for a break when we're in a museum and you discover how to make yourself snort. I do expect a modicum of good behavior. But that wild spirit? I don't want it to be tamed, not now, not ever.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011


This is going to come off a bit ranty. Fair warning, ya'll. This has been brewing in my psyche, worming its way around my brain through vacations and sleep and Pinterest sessions. And especially on Facebook. Facebook can just suck it.

Here's the thing. I am not crafty. Nor am I artsy. The lowest grade I ever made in high school (and no, I'm not shitting you) was in Home Ec, most notably, the sewing section. I made this absolutely atrocious pillow with a bunny on the front that I gave to my grandmother (aka, the sweetest woman on earth) for Christmas, and even she was like, "Um....thanks?" I have been tempted throughout the years to take up knitting or crocheting or something else equally as benign and then found myself cursing wildly within the first five minutes OF READING THE INSTRUCTION BOOKLET. It is just not in me. Just as it is not in me to understand science, science fiction or any of the Lord of the Rings novels.

So I guess I'm coming at this whole thing already at an 0-2 count. I know I can't do it, so subconsciously, maybe that is what is fueling my rage. Take it with a grain of salt, I guess.

But, I can't help but get a little, well, perturbed, when I see all this DIY stuff floating around on the interwebz. Like I am supposed to, as a woman, have this huge desire to make my own glue for my kids and sew their clothes and make little envelopes out of fabric for them so that when they get up each day, they can read a little inspirational note from me (an example I've thought of: "Gabby, If you don't pick up your laundry, I am going to staple it to your face. LOVE YA! MOM"). Yeah, I'm not going to do that. If you want to, whatever, I don't care. If you want to do it while naked, while smoking a bong, while listening to George Jones' Greatest Hits, I still don't care. Live and let live, ya'll. What I do, in fact, care about is the prevailing thought amongst many DIY-er's that I have encountered that you HAVE to do it. That it is not optional. That if you don't, it is tantamount to giving your kid a bottle full of Mountain Dew and a straight razor and saying "HAVE AT IT. Call me if you bleed or something."

This, I think, is just one more thing that we women have to struggle with in this endless battle of trying to be perfect. Or rather, to appear as though perfect. At last count, I figure that we all have to be doing the following on a daily basis:
1. Get up. Look perfect. Exercise. Put on a face full of make-up and blow out your hair every day to perfection. Be careful to not look "too" good though, because people might think you are having an affair if you do. Wear heels, but not really high heels, because really high heels mean that you are a slut and that you don't care about your children.
2. Fix a perfect breakfast buffet (with options for picky eaters!) for your children. Eat a banana and drink black coffee and call it a morning. In the middle of this, pack lunches that you have homemade, preferably of ethnic foods so that child does not become a bad eater.
3. Get everyone to school while quizzing kids with homework trivia on the way.
4. Go to work. Do perfectly. Smile a lot.
5. Come home to clean home. Clean it some more.
6. Make child a dress and supervise a craft project using homemade glue and a castle made out of an old pool noodle.
7. Prepare a lovely dinner. Not too much sugar! Go easy on the butter, FATTY!
8. Shuffle everyone to bed. Make sure no one has spent more than two hours looking at a screen of any kind. Wash behind everyone's ears.
9. Have amazing, glorious sex with husband, preferably utilizing three different positions, a feather, and a garter belt. Don't want anyone to get bored!
10. Go to sleep for 8 wonderful hours.

Ya'll, I'm just going to honest here, which is not something you see on the internet that often. This was my day yesterday.
1. Get up. Try not to wake baby who is saying "MOMMY" in her sleep. Turn on shower so that I can't hear her anymore.
2. Put dry shampoo on my hair since I'm too lazy to wash it. Hot roller the heck out of that crap. Curse loudly when I realize I'm out of Bumble and Bumble Setting Spray. Baby, who had gone back to sleep, rustles around. Say "FML" under my breath.
3. Strap on a pair of leopard print heels that are high enough to warrant future back surgery on my part. They are comfy though, and I like them.
4. Walk out through overgrown yard that my husband and I neglected to pay $80 to have mowed while we were gone on vacation. Be vaguely worried that neighbor will come out and give me a glare.
5. Drive to work with the gas light on. Drive to McDonald's to buy some oatmeal, but realize the line is too long and I'm a tad late. Go without breakfast. Remember to call the water company about the bill I totally forgot to pay before we left for our trips and blame them for my own forgetfulness since they are too stupid to automatically withdraw like every other company in the whole damn world.
6. Get to work. Wait until everyone is gone to meetings and curse at the typewriter for being a bitch. Forget to call someone about a meeting. Hang out on Facebook until I get mad at all the people posting how many miles they ran the night before while I was eating a strawberry shortcake at TGI Friday's.
7. Have a busy day and end up not eating lunch, but I did manage to solve some printing issues and get a shit ton of work done. Be happy with myself. Husband calls and tells me to pick up some butter on the way home. Curse husband.
8. Leave work. Buy gas and butter and get mildly happy when a weird kid checks me out at the gas station. Go to Pal's and buy a humongous tea and a large order of french fries.
9. Get home to messy house with the still overgrown lawn. Pick up baby who is wearing mismatched winter pajamas (that's on Matt, though). Sit down on couch with several catalogs and a big pen. Mark "must have" and "dream" purchases while baby watches Olivia. Pretend that I'm watching as well.
10. Remember that I have to do laundry from the trip. Start it. Moan a lot about it.
11. Remember that I have two other children. Go see them in their rooms. Child 1 is both texting a cousin in Richmond, while using her DS to talk to the same cousin. That's two screens. Child 2 is playing Magic on the Playstation and starts harassing me about buying him some more cards. Tell him I'll do it Wednesday. Make no plans to actually do that on Wednesday.
12. Fix mashed potatoes with lots of butter and honey glazed carrots with extra honey for supper while husband grills steaks. Delight in the unhealthiness of my contributions.
13. Clean off table but leave dishes dirty in the kitchen because we are out of dishwasher tabs and both of us forgot to buy them, and I did enough dishes for one day while I was making supper.
14. Play with youngest kids on the floor. Find a half eaten banana laying on top of the TiVo.
15. Leave husband in the living room with Child 2, still playing Magic. Check on Child 1 who is now watching something on TLC and still chatting on two devices with her cousin. Take Child 3 to bed. Find Java Chip Frappuccino ice cream in the freezer and decide that I love my husband again, despite the butter incident. Give him a hug, which he is surprised about.
16. Eat the whole single serving ice cream thingie and pass out in bed while watching Hoarders, leaving make-up on. Leave husband to put other children in bed.

Now, I have better days. I was insanely tired yesterday from our trips and having arrived home at 2:30 the night before. But still. That's a pretty accurate portrayal of hum-drum life. It is not perfect. I am not perfect.

But there is a lot of love in the imperfection. Last night, Alice fell asleep and I looked at her, the same chubby cheeked profile she's had since birth. She is happy and loved and fun. My son is the kindest, most sensitive soul that I know. And my oldest daughter is amazing and funny and wise. I love them, and while I don't show them that love with crafts and love notes, it is there, and it works for us.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I should get back to work. And quit being vaguely tempted to try to make Alice a pillowcase dress (I have the cutest pillowcases from my college apartment, ya'll. It would be so cool---um, NO.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back in Black

Last night at about 2:30 a.m., I returned from my myriad vacations. Ya'll, I am tired. But I am happy.

This has to be sort of short and sweet because I have a crazy amount of things to do, especially given that my poor, sad children return to school in TWO DAYS. But know that I am well, and I have a shit ton of stuff to opine about. Namely:

1. What it is like being married to a living, breathing incarnation of Clark Griswold.
2. What I REALLY think about our nation's capitol.
3. God, I've got to get out of this place.
4. And by "this place" I mean this town. For real this time. No backsies.
5. And, most importantly, OH MY GAH it's time for FALL and I want LEATHER AND TWEED. In my head right now, "I Want Candy" by Bow Wow Wow is playing in a constant loop and I'm raiding a Nordstrom in complete ecstasy.
6. Oh, and I'm trying to be more fiscally responsible because you know, "adult," "moving," "freeform jazz," "tax exemption". And also because my husband told me to. And he used big words and moved his hands a lot. And well, because there's grad school, which looms out there. And none of this jives with number 5, does it?
7. Fuck that noise. SHOES.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Lifetime Movie Classics: The Betty Broderick Oeuvre, Part One

When I was a kid, I spent a good deal of the time that I was at my dad's house playing with this old doll house, long forgotten by my older stepsisters. I had a doll house at my mom's house that was much bigger, but I had a special love in my heart for the other, older one. Why? It was decked out in all the "wonderful" styles of the late 70's and early 80's. There was a padded rust colored couch, a mustard colored kitchen with lots of wood paneling, a tiny, wood paneled stereo, complete with turn table. The doll house was a perfect vestige of the day, beautiful in a dated, almost sad way.

Thinking of that doll house now tells me what Betty Broderick's life was probably like before her life was completely turned upside down, a victim of her husband's betrayal and her own batshit craziness. The first Lifetime movie about her and her crime does a pretty damn good job of showing us that. Probably better than any other Lifetime movie out there (except for maybe The Two Mr. Kissels, which as you know, I'm particularly partial to), this movie shows us, rather than just hitting us over the head with, the world that these characters live in.

Really, A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story is a freaking master of the TV movie genre. Here's the story if you are so sad and deprived and dedicated to quality programming that you don't know it by heart already: Boy meets girl. Girl marries boy and stays with him through med school, then law school, then four kids, then overwhelming prosperity. Boy meets younger girl at law office and becomes a cliche in an expensive suit. Girl goes completely Ozzie Osbourne style CRAY-CRAY. Boy gets a few restraining orders and a divorce. Girl hits boy's house with her car. Girl shoots boy and younger girl and as boy is laying in the floor, dying, pulls the phone out of the wall so he can't call for help. LIKE A BOSS.

Matt watched a snippet of this movie with me and had an interesting point about it. If you look just a tad farther than Meredith Baxter's insanely good acting, you have a weird thing going on here. Namely, you are being asked, in fact, the movie is DEMANDING, that you sympathize with the cheating husband, the 40-something lawyer who shacked up his 20-something "legal assistant," who, as Debra Jo Rupp tells us, can't type a damn thing, and, further, that you demonize his strong willed wife. SURELY YOU JEST, LIFETIME. As we all know, Lifetime has made a mint demonizing the Dan Brodericks of the world, those men who shuck the women who have supported them through thick and thin right at the moment when things are starting to sag. And why wouldn't this be a profitable way to go for the network? Their target demographic lies in the saggy, the married, the Ben and Jerry's eaters of the world. Those 20 something legal assistants are all off presumably riding jet-ski's and giving blow jobs, not watching movies about women who had their face eaten off by dogs and then, inspirationally, made much better. But, crazily, here we all are, quietly cheering for the relationship between these two quirky kids in their big house and wagging a weary finger at the woman who leaves them dirty voice mails. Way to go, Lifetime. You just BLEW MY MIND. As Matt pointed out, Meredith Baxter might as well wear a goatee in this movie because it is BIZARRO WORLD.

Perhaps this is part of the charm of this movie. Perhaps that is why it is so damn good. But perhaps it is also because of these little moments, little nuggets of awesome that stand out. For instance, there is one moment when Betty is just doing her damn best to drive her huge, hulking SUV type thing into Dan's living room. She does it with this calm swagger, which in itself is badass and just more indication of how much Meredith Baxter truly rocked this role. But the best part is what is going on inside the house. The kids are all scattered about, trying to figure out what the ruckus is all about, which is well, what you'd be doing if someone decided to go all Wal-Mart parking lot on your front door. And one of the kids is standing on the staircase, and he just goes, "Dad, IT'S MOM." The kid really rocks this line. There is this worry in his voice, and as soon as he says it, this pang just hit me, and I knew that no matter what else I do as a parent, I don't want my son to ever say that about me. Which brings my list of parenting goals to two: 1) Keep the kids from becoming serial killers and 2) Don't let my kids ever see me doing something so egregious that they get that tremor in their voice. It's good to set the bar low when it comes to parenting, you know?

The other line that comes to mind is actually not too far into the movie. Dan and Betty are at a party, but it is not really remarkable because they are always at a damn party. Supposedly, Dan is working these 80 hour work weeks, and you know, he's a partner at a law firm, so that's plausible, but they sure do find time to party. I refuse to believe that this is a realistic portrayal--I think Lifetime just wanted to have more time to show a dude in a cape and top hat. SEXY. Anyway, Dan surprises a partner, as well as the partner's wife and Betty, with a Paris vacation on the following Thursday. This is when I paused the movie and told Matt that if he wanted to surprise me with tickets to Paris, even if they were to Paris, Texas, I wouldn't have a problem with that, and when Matt chuckled and I swore to invent that divorce app I've been thinking about. Betty sure as Hell has a problem with this spontaneous showing of wealth and affection. She whines, "But Dan...that's my manicure day!" And, that my friends, is how a patented response gets started in this house. Matt said something to me about going to a cook-out tomorrow night, and of course, I had to say, "BUT MATT....that's my manicure day!" And of course he had to say, "It's YOUR MOM'S manicure day." And, of course, I had to guffaw loudly and think about all witty and awesome I am. And, of course, you had to roll your eyes and promise to never visit this seedy area of the internet ever again.

Ladies, do yourself a favor and buy a good volume of alcohol (if that is your thing), a good cheese and some crackers and watch this shit. You won't regret it. When you get done, you'll not only be just a tad scared that Betty Broderick will get paroled, but you'll also be delightfully frightened that Meredith Baxter, who just enjoyed herself to the MAX in this role, will show up in her SUV at your front door, call you a bunch of dirty names and spray paint on your walls.