Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Today, my friends, is baseball's opening day. This means two things: my sleep schedule is about to get all kinds of jacked up, and OHMYFREAKINGGOD I THINK I MIGHT BE ABLE TO LIVE AGAIN.

I am, and just about always have been, a huge, obsessive baseball fan. When I was 9 years old, I discovered the game, and it.was.amazing. I doted on the Atlanta Braves since that was the closest team to me geographically. I collected (literally) thousands of baseball cards (which are still packed in my garage and ready to be sold when one of my kids decides to go to private school/needs a nose job/runs off with a boyfriend and has to be rescued from an airport in New Zealand--I'm looking at you, Big Al). I wrote short articles about important games and unabashedly sent them off to magazines--one of them was actually published in Beckett's Baseball Card Collecting Guide. One Christmas, my parents surprised me with real home AND away Braves jerseys (note: this is why having divorced parents was AWESOME) and I wore these as much as my mom would allow.

And, most importantly, I had a wonderful and amazing grandfather who taught me the history of the game, the artistry of it. We spent many a summer night watching the Braves on TBS while flipping through these huge baseball coffee table books that my mom picked up for me off the clearance rack at the bookstore at the mall. He loved to tell me about Stan Musial (who was his favorite, despite my grandfather being a Yankees fan--who hated Steinbrenner) and Thurman Munson (a close second). We watched The Pride of the Yankees at least three times, and it was actually the last thing we did together before my granddad passed away. It remained in my grandmother's VCR for at least a couple of years after that--no one really wanted to take it out and admit that he was gone.

I lost touch with the game for a bit after my granddad's death. I watched as the Yankees beat the Braves in the World Series in 1996, tears unexpectedly streaming down my cheeks for at least 4 of the 6 games. Those were the last games I watched for a while. I kept up with things through the Yankees' dynasty years, occasionally reading articles and books. But being a teenage girl (and a pretentious little twit at that) became more important. I attended a few high school games and surprised those around me with how much I knew about the game. In college, my apartment was relatively close to the college's stadium, and I would stop by sometimes before going home, taking advantage of my free student admission. I read a good deal of Paradise Lost with the sounds of the aluminum bats pinging in the background. The game welcomed me back, quietly and lovingly.

When we moved to CA, the influx of time without school work and a bit of extra income meant that I began to yearn for the thrill of the major leagues again. Matt and I thought it might be fun to take the kids to see a ballgame. We thought we would go a couple of times and eat hot dogs and drink a few beers (our favorite microbrewery had a stand at the Coliseum) and that would be it. Just for fun. He decided to take Gabby one night before he left on a two month long trip to Russia as a kind of daddy/daughter night out. I stayed home with Sam, who was little and a bit under the weather. When Matt did leave for Russia, I started keeping up the A's season so that I could tell him about it in our daily emails. Just little snippets of the American life that he was missing. And, thus, we both started our often depressing descent into being A's fans. When he returned from abroad, we rode the Bart out to the stadium and bought tickets for all the remaining home games that we could. And the next year, we bought season tickets. I taught Matt about the game, much as my grandfather had taught me. We found solace in it when our lives became chaotic, when the economy began to falter, when words, and joy, were hard to find.

I must add this, however. Being a female baseball fan is serious business. You don't want to be a "pink hat," i.e., a girl who comes to the games to look cute and flirt with male fans. You also don't want to go to see the good looking players (which, if you are interested in that, do yourself a favor and DO NOT become an A's fan. It is like watching the Garbage Pail Kids out there. Joe Mauer, my little croquembouches. It don't get much better). Being a girl means, I think, that you have to be that much more into the statistics--you have to know the numbers and apply them correctly. Educate yourself. You also have to wear your team colors proudly and happily. No cutesy prints, no pink. Straight green and gold, ladies. You can cut your tee to make it more flattering, but remember--this is not the time to worry about sexiness. This is baseball.

Today I came into my workplace and made sure to tell my employer (and my Facebook friends) that for the next 6 months, I will be a different person. I will be alternately ecstatic and depressed. I will say the words "Defense is what wins games!" and "YOU HAVE TO HAVE STRONG MIDDLE RELIEF!!! THAT'S WHAT WINS PENNANTS!" with abandon and at odd times. I will curse the name of Rich Harden AT LEAST 145 times this season. And, please, for the LOVE OF GOD, do not talk about the Boston Red Sox to me. For a reason that I can't quite elucidate, I hate the Boston Red Sox. I don't think I could hate them any more if George W. Bush played first, Karl Rove played third and the starting rotation was comprised of the members of Nickelback. I have said filthy, disgusting and embarassing things about Dustin Pedroia's MOTHER. Let's just not talk about the Red Sox, k?

So Happy Opening Day. May your team win, your enemies lose, and may your middle relief be strong. Unless, of course, you are a Red Sox fan.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Obsessions, Love, and How I'm Feeling Like a Kid Again

I am reading Just Kids by Patti Smith (I am actually done, but I find myself not ready to give it up yet--rereading passages and rethinking things). I actually bought it a while back, and it has been laying beside my bed with all of the other books I order on late night Amazon splurges. After finishing my last book, One Day, I was in the mood to read another kind of love story. So I picked it up. And I am so glad that I did. Basically, I'll just come right out and tell you that I am obsessed with this book. Crazily, drunkenly so. I now find myself wearing a lot of black and sitting in my office during the day, watching old Patti Smith performances on YouTube, drinking coffee and reading a lot of Rimbaud, Blake, and Verlaine. And it is wonderful because despite the fact that I'm bedecked in business casual, sitting at a desk paid for by the state of VA and frequently interrupted by the sounds of squawking students and their petty issues, I feel very much like I did when I was that girl, traipsing across the Sunken Gardens, high on Yeats. There is a certain idealism and naivete that Smith imbues her writing with that is so universal, so perfect. And I am in love with it. I am also in love with the love that Smith has for Robert Mapplethorpe in the book, in love with the way their lives turn and pull at one another and how their relationship evolves. Without getting into anything very philosophical or doe-eyed, I will just say that I have been thinking a lot about love and the nature of it, and how there is this person who you find yourself with and the feelings go beyond love and are really just wrapped up in something that is more amazing and much better than the dichotomous, didactic view that I think we all carry about relationships and love and whatever. (PUT DOWN THE BONG, MORGAN!)
Robert and I still kept our vow. Neither would leave the other. I never saw him through the lens of his sexuality. My picture of him remained intact. He was the artist of my life.
I read that the other night, and no shit, I highlighted it, like the good Type A college graduate I am. It is one of the more beautiful things I've read, amazing in its simplicity. It goes in my memory, right beside other quotes from Churchill's Mad Forest (a Romanian play I read in college), War and Peace, and a Confederacy of Dunces as things I want to remember forever. Anyway, I was nearing the end of the book last night and laying beside Alice in bed. She was asleep, laying on her side, her warm legs naked under a pulled up nightgown. I was curled around her, much like an oyster protecting its pearl. And I thought, "Someday, someone will love Alice like this. And she will love them." And I don't know who it will be, what gender they will be, what the in's and out's of their relationship will be. This baby, laying here, curled beside me with her fuzzy hair and chubby arms and "Slavic d" (Matt is convinced that Alice uses several Slavic linguistic traits in her speech because he talks to her some in Russian), will someday be all that someone else can think of. And that person will not be me. She will belong to someone else, to the world, and not to me. Part of that made me sad, but the other part was mind-blowing. I imagine Alice, conquering her dreams, just like I imagine Gabby and Sam doing the same. But thinking of her being in love kind of threw me a bit. But I went to sleep, peaceful and happy, because I get to experience all of this with my kids, perhaps from afar, but still very much together.

Friday, March 25, 2011

What You Can Do To Stop Pissing Me Off

Today is one of those days where just about everything pisses me off. Where about 4/5 of the status updates on my Facebook page make me want to randomly punch a baby. Where I generally think the worst of people. And I is Friday! Which is normally a good day! And I'm wearing my favorite shirt (a chambray work shirt from Lands' End Canvas, for those of you who are curious)! And I had a perfectly lovely Greek salad for lunch! But I'm still just angry.

Here are a few things that you, the people of the world, can do to make it better.

1. Please know that I don’t care about your sick kid nearly as much as you do. You know, I hate when kids get sick. You know what else I hate? Tsunamis and earthquakes and fires and hurricanes and when baby pandas die and when kids go hungry at night. All of those things SUCK. And none of them should happen. And I really hate that your kid is sick. That is horrible. But you know what is also horrible? Trying to garner yourself some sympathy and attention off of said sick kid. I don’t want to see pictures of your kid in the hospital (you have 78! 78!!!). I don’t want to hear how your child doesn’t have her appetite back because she had pneumonia a month ago. Your child being sick a month ago does not make it suddenly ok for you to be late to work every day and then spend the 45 minutes after your late arrival updating everyone on your child’s morning activities (“She was so tired this morning. Poor baby! She must still be feeling bad! She didn’t want to go to school! She looked at me with her widdle sick eyes and said ‘Oh, mommy, don’t make me go!’” Which you know, if this is a symptom for being deathly ill, about 75% of all kids now have scurvy.) I.DON’T.CARE. Please go away.

2. On the same token, please do not fish for prayers on Facebook. Every morning, I see about 5-6 posts of people mentioning things that suck in their lives. Ingrown toenails. Sick kids. Unpaid bills. All very sucky. And then someone says something like, “I’m praying for you.” And that’s all it takes. The prayer horses are off and running. All of a sudden there are 25 comments of other folks saying “Praying!” or, in the case of one very determined individual, typing out full, 100 word long prayers that mention the person by name and include an identifying characteristic like your “beautiful hair” or “lovely voice” (just in case God has you mixed up with someone else, I assume). And I must say, I see quite a few of these posts every day and the same people respond every day. If you people are literally saying all the prayers that you say you are, how do you find time to work? Or eat? Or watch Hoarders? If you spent as much time doing something productive as you do saying prayers for people you barely know, you could run the WORLD.

3. If you and your husband are separated, please cease being each other’s Facebook friend. I think we’ve all seen it—the recently separated couple who still want to comment on each other’s status. And yes, it is a bit fun to watch, if you’re having a particularly boring day or if you can’t get that Rebecca Black parody to load right. But for the love of all that is holy, you’re making an ass out of yourself. Case in point: the other day I saw a post where an ex husband posts something nonsensical. Seriously. It was just word vomit. And a well-meaning friend goes, “OMG, you have too much time on your hands!” She’s just being silly—just posting something innocuous. He goes, “Well, yeah, SINCE I CAN’T SEE MY DAMN KIDS ANYMORE.” And of course, you know how that turned out. Ex-wife, who is still his friend, posts several more comments. And here’s the thing. These people have kids and families. Who they are also friends with on Facebook. Hell, these people have me, and I haven’t seen either of them in probably 5 years, and to be completely honest, totally forgot the dude’s name at one time. WE DON’T WANT TO SEE THIS SHIT. Because here’s what happens: I see this, and now I have an idea of who is “winning” at the divorce. I also feel bad for their kids because they have total dumbasses for parents. So avoid this, folks. DE-FUCKING-FRIEND. And just think—if you get back together, you can always friend each other again. You can plan a whole fucking ceremony around the friending and maybe hire a mariachi band and register at Target. And you can invite me because I won’t be pissed off at you for writing dumb shit on Facebook.

4. Just because it is 70 degrees outside, it is not ok to wear flip flops. I know you like them. I know you have been waiting for six months to dig them out. But people, my people….Let’s wait just a bit. For one thing, your feet are scary after a long, hard winter. Maybe look into a pedicure, or a PedEgg, or a light saber. For the other thing, Jesus Christ on a rubber crutch! This is what you are excited about?!? A piece of rubber you wear on your feet? After six months of snow and ice, you are excited about putting a pair of unisex shoes made out of the same stuff they make tires out of on your feet? My God, people. Flip flops look good on no one and should be worn to the beach or in a communal shower. THAT’S IT. If you are genuinely excited about the wearing of flip flops, it is time to take a long hard look at your life. And when you are done, go to a damn shoe store.

5. If we go out to eat together, please be nice to the server. I waited tables through college--it is how I paid my rent. I did not love it everyday, but it really wasn't a bad way to make some cash. The restaurant where I toiled away was good to work my student schedule/allow me to pick up extra shifts if I needed the dough/give me free burgers when I was pregnant with Sam. The one lasting thing I have from this experience is the desire--or rather, need--to be especially nice to my server when I go out. And really, even if I hadn't done this job for 3 years, I think I would behave in much the same way. I don't make horrible requests, I try to be understanding, and I always, ALWAYS tip very well. So, if I go out with someone, I expect them to be respectful and kind. Yelling "HEY, YOU. YOU FORGOT TO PICK UP MY PLATE." across the restaurant is not what I would call "respectful." Nor is saying, "He's good to look at, but he's not really doing the job that well, do you think?" Yeah. Well, that's the last time I go to lunch with that person, and probably the last time I go into the restaurant and am able to look anyone in the eye.

Don't you love how I don't write anything for a while, and then I come back with something vitrolic and full of hate filled speech at the other people of the world? Yeah.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We Interrupt this Broadcast of McMillan and Wife...

Oh, you're sitting there thinking I'm going to show you a great clip of your favorite 70's husband and wife crime drama! Poor you! You're going to be so disappointed when I just tell you something pointless and inane about my boring, sadsack life!

Here's the thing: I have neglected you poor gentle souls, all 14 of you, and I feel bad about that. I've been busy, and there's something else.

I have actually started writing stuff. Like not blog stuff. Like fiction stuff.

I haven't told anyone this yet, which is funny since it will be on the ole interwebz in about 5 minutes of me writing these words, and accessible to anyone who googles me and finds me on Facebook and thinks, "I wonder what that fat bitch from high school who always drank Fruitopia and talked about Dave Matthews Band a lot is up to these days." I, specifically, haven't told my husband and mother who both mention, oh, about every other time I talk to either of them, that I should write more. For different reasons. For my mom it is because she knows it makes me happy, and she wants to see me be happy because she's my mom. For Matt, it is because he wants me to write something great and sell it for an obscene amount of money so that we can move to a mountaintop home in Vermont where we will make our own maple syrup and place orders for luxury items off of Amazon.

And until this point, you thought Matt was smart, didn't you? But now you realize that his financial plans are based on this kind of dreaming, and you really regret thinking that, eh?

Because the point is, I'm not that great of a writer. I rarely have a decent idea. Like the last one I had was for a college creative writing class, and I wrote oh, about 40 pages and then kind of left it to finish itself which it hasn't done yet, the lazy thing. So, you know, we'll see if this lives past the 40 page expiration. Because if I were a betting person....

At any rate, though, I only have so much time during the day to dick away on the computer. The rest of the time, you know, I have to work. And drink Diet Coke. Which energizes me enough to make me a slightly more than mediocre employee. And those alphabetized J. Crew wishlists don't make themselves! So, if I don't write on here for a couple of days, you can imagine me typing away at my computer, wearing something loose and flowy and drinking coffee and making very, very funny references to the lesser works of Proust. Because I am totally not sitting here, cursing at myself for not being able to put the proper amount of space behind a comma, eating Three Musketeers bars (IT WAS ONE! SHUT UP!), and laughing at my own bad humor. DEFINITELY NOT.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Weight Watchers Update (and some Fashion-y Stuff Too)

So. I lost 1 big ole pound this week. Big whoop. I know, I know. I could have gained. Or I could have stayed even. Any loss is good. But 1 pound seems a little sad, a little lonely. So I've not been overly excited with it.

I really need to exercise this week. I'll just be honest with ya'll--I haven't done any formal exercise routine since I restarted WW. I mean, I have taken my kids on some hikes, and I've played with them outside and I've parked my car farther from my office building, and I've gotten up from my desk and walked up the stairs and around my building a couple of times each day. So little things. But no formal classes or running trips or anything. Which is really, really bad on my part. Just between us, I'll tell you this also: I freaking love to exercise. I love to run, I love the adrenaline of it all, I love the competition I have with myself. If I weren't completely slow and uncoordinated, I would be one hell of an athlete because I have the mentality for it and I like to work hard on something and see the results (so basically, if I were an actual athlete, I'd be a good one!). And I do really, really like it. But so far, life has just not presented me the most opportunities to actually do it. Admittedly, I do much better in the spring/summer/early fall because then I can go down to the lake and just have at it. I should note that my husband is incredibly supportive of my running/walking whatever and encourages me and watches the kids and such. But right now, with rain and coldness and more snow (supposedly), I just can't. And it is hard finding something I can do that I like doing and that will keep me dry--gyms are all at least 30 minutes away from my house. And of course, there is the age old excuse of finding time to do ANYTHING when three kids are involved. Most nights, by the time dinner is over with and kids are in bed, I'm just happy that we all are fed and have all of our limbs still affixed to our bodies.

But I'm going to make a conscious effort this week. I have a couple of DVD's that I can do, and it is time to actually take them out of the cellophane. I know that eating well can only take me so far, and it is not my style to blame the weather for my own inability to get off my ass and do something about a part of my self that I want to change. So I'm going to can the bullshit and work out. The sad thing is, I know I'll enjoy it, and just be even madder at myself that I didn't do it earlier. Le sigh.

One thing that I have been doing for myself that kind of goes along with this is really paying attention to what I wear. I've started planning my outfits better. It actually gives me something to look forward to, and encourages me--I think to myself "In one pound more, this skirt will be too big--let's wear it this week and enjoy it while I can!" I also have been keeping tabs of the how much better things that were pushed to the back of the closet are fitting now. So the whole thing is good. And really, folks, what you wear can make all the difference. I met a woman recently who has a very young baby. We were discussing babies and life post-baby and somehow it came out that we were both on Weight Watchers. She ended up telling me that she only had 6 more pounds of baby weight to take off and then she wants to take off another 10 after that. I was floored. Not because of her great accomplishment, but rather, because the way she was dressed, I thought she was much heavier than what she actually is. She was wearing a woolly, dolman sleeve cowl neck that was very chunky and hit at an odd spot on her hips (and showed her bra when she lifted her arms--ladies, please wear some sort of garment under these kinds of tops!), and cropped wide-leg plaid trousers. The whole look was very boxy and just...thick. Too much material, just too much. And nobody, I MEAN NOBODY, looks good in those pants. They are what the devil's wife wears in hell when her khaki capri cargo pants are in the wash.

So the moral of the story is, honey, flaunt that shit. If you have lost weight, you probably have a bunch of stuff that you can no longer wear in your closet. Great. Chuck it. Don't wear it. Pick up a few things at Target or Old Navy that flatter you and stick to that until you get to your new size. If things are basic, no one cares if you wore that last week--if it looks good, it doesn't matter.

Let's all hope for a fashionable and healthy week! Good vibes next Tuesday (scale time!) much appreciated!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dear Gabby

Today, Gabby, you are 12 years old. I know every mom says this, but it seems just like yesterday that I held you for the first time and kissed your head. Our time together has inexplicably both flown by and twisted by slowly at times, but I still feel like I haven't had nearly enough time to enjoy you.

Gabby, I'm just going to be straight with you. Being 12 (and 13, for that matter) sucked for me. These were hard years, full of drama and friend issues and boy issues and all kinds of stuff that was new to me and all kinds of weird. I remember, in particular, having this awesome outfit that was a pair of black palazzo pants with little white flowers and a moss green ribbed v-neck sweater to match, that I wore with my denim jacket and a black crusher hat. Stop laughing at me, dear. I got that outfit and I.LOVED.IT. Like think about how much I love that black pencil skirt now, and those leopard print shoes that you don't like. That's how much I freaking adored that outfit. But I wore it the first day to school and people laughed at me. It was horrible. Now, I'm not telling you that people are going to make fun of your clothes, or even that your life is going to be awful for the next two years. All I'm saying is that things are going to be new and odd and at times you are going to think that growing up is pretty overrated. There will be days when things just don't go right, where some boy is being stupid and all you want to do is sit in your room and listen to the Tony Rich Project on repeat all day and think deep thoughts about the state of life and Robert Frost poems (and uh, you can take the words "Tony Rich Project" and erase them and insert "Bruno Mars" because I think it is all the same). But you can't. You just have to keep plugging along with hopes that it will get better, because let me tell you, honey. IT WILL.

Gabby, I'm telling you all this because like it or not, we are a lot alike. And I see one thing in you that I desperately don't want to see, and that is a desire (or, rather, a soul-crushing NEED) to be perfect. You are like me in that you want everything to be perfect for everyone and not bother anyone with your issues and just kind of skip through life because you SHOULD be smart enough to figure it all out on your own. And babe, this is not what I want for you. I'll just tell you this right now: none of us are perfect. And we best just quit trying. And while it might be a little late in the game for this old dog to change, you are still young and amazing, and I want you to know right now that I love and accept you not inspite of, but for all your imperfections. And you have never been and will never be a problem that I have to "fix" or an inconvenience. So even if someday you feel like you have messed something up so royally that the world will simply just stop spinning, I won't care. Honey, you don't even know some of the crap I've pulled. Just tell me. And I'll probably tell a bad joke about the whole situation, and you will roll your eyes. But we will take care of it together. Because I'm your mom, and I freaking adore you. Hell, I already have forgiven you for getting the Bieber fever (an advanced case, I should point out). If we can get through bad pop music together, the world is our oyster.

My dear, you have grown up with your father and me. Or, as your dad said last night, you've "grown up in spite of us." You're only 12 years old, and already you have been to college and to grad school and moved across the country twice. And you've handled it awesomely, and you've gotten up every morning with a smile and attacked each day with your own particular style. I think of you as a wonderful daughter, but I also think of you as my little compatriot. I can't imagine ever having been without you. You are the most beautiful person I've ever met, and you're the funniest, and after a long day, you're still the person that I want to see the most. If I hadn't met you 12 years ago, I don't think I would be anywhere near where I am today. You have, in short, made my life, and your father's life, and we are amazed that we got lucky enough to have you.

I'll close now because this is getting pretty sappy, and you've probably rolled your eyes about 12 times now, and I'm afraid if I keep going your eyes will stick in some kind of weird contortion and you'll always blame me for that. In closing, though, I'll remind you that if things get bad, we can handle it. And if things get REALLY bad, you, I and Courtney Love can handle it. Because when life gives you 12 year old lemons, you turn on Hole and kick the living crap out of those lemons until you feel better.


*P.S. I'm sorry that I used the word "Hell" once and the word "crap" once in your letter. I know you hate bad language. I'm trying to do better. But, as you know, your mom definitely has her foibles.

Monday, March 7, 2011

RIP Nars Orgasm Blush

Today, I lay to rest a companion that I have had since 2007. Yup, the blush has been with me for nearly four years. It has survived two trips across the country, the birth of a child (just barely--Sam picked it up and for some inexplicable reason threw it across the hospital room the day after Alice's birth. And yes, you should know that I was wearing this blush while in labor and the day afterward), several trips to beaches both on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and one scary ass night in Elko, Oklahoma when I thought we had stumbled upon the hotel from the movie Vacancy and I was going to have to stay up all night and defend myself and my sleeping husband, armed with only a mascara wand and a set of keys. (Yes, that really happened.)
I should note that if I were on a desert island, this would be one of the things that I would want with me, along with my Frye boots and my favorite premium writing pads and gel pens that I buy in bulk at Office Depot for making lists. I love this stuff. And yes, I already have the replacement blush.
Seeing it makes me think of all the changes in my life since I bought it. Back then, I was a recent college grad, trying to make sense of the working world and what "business casual" meant. I was also trying to make that very, very rough transition from college sweatshirts and corduroys to "polished." This blush is a symbol of that transition for me. When I bought it, I thought it was very, very expensive, but I laid the money down with hopes that it would help me look older and more refined. But now I look at it, and am amazed at what a good deal it is. $27 for 4 years worth of perfect cheeks? Holy shit! $27 is 9 lattes, ya'll. I can drink 9 lattes in the span of two weeks. And I have had this for 4 YEARS. So, it is a fantastic deal, and yes, it did its job. Because of buying this blush (and a few other products), I learned what it means to treat my appearance as an asset and a source of pride.

If you haven't tried Nars blush yet, I encourage you to do so. The color is highly pigmented, so you don't need a lot, and the shades are really fantastic looking. I also own "Albatross" which is a kind of golden glimmer looking powder, and I use their bronzer in "Laguna" during the summer months. I have had the bronzer for two years now and it basically looks new. It is definitely worth however much you have to lay down for it.
Do you have any go-to, "desert island" products that you absolutely refuse to live without? Please share!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dear Sam

Last night I came home from a late evening at work. I was really, really tired, and your dad was working late too, so I had to fix dinner, get your sister home from dance class, help with homework, and then get you all bathed and bedded. I was not up for all this. I had just sat down beside of Alice and you came up to me with this huge smile on your face, one that showed the tooth that you have that is coming in and is just a little bigger than all your other (baby) teeth and gives you a nice, Jack o'Lantern effect. You had a manilla folder in your hand, and when you gave it to me, you giggled like a maniac. Your Nana managed to tell me that you had been so excited about the contents of that folder for the entire afternoon and had been counting down the moments until I got there to look at it.

Inside the folder was your nomination for the gifted and talented program at school. Gabby is already in the program, and the last time I talked to the principal about you, he mentioned that he was going to nominate you. The cool thing about it is that you are in first grade (but take second grade classes), and nominations are usually only done when a student is in fourth grade. So you will be the youngest kid in the program. We looked at the packet together. There were lots of pages that I had to fill out about things that you liked and disliked academically, and a sheet where you had to write about your hopes and dreams. When I asked you, you said that you wanted to "go to school for longer than anyone else" and get "a doctor degree." I asked you what job you wanted to have and you said "an author and a scientist like Stephen Hawking."

And Sam, the scary thing about it all is that it totally wouldn't surprise me if you were that someday. You are amazing. And I know all mom's say that about their kids, and God knows that they should because that is kinda our jobs--to love our kids like mad and say flattering things about them. But you literally surprise everyone around you with how smart and empathetic and fun you are. And to tell you the truth, I don't care if you are an author or a scientist or a garbage man or a go-go dancer. I just want to be around you and have the pleasure of knowing you.

At this age, you are definitely your father's son. You two are almost inseperable and have a mutual adoration and respect that goes beyond the typical father/son relationship. You guys definitely have a lot of shared interests--you both like languages and world cultures (your dad is teaching you French right now and you are the only person I know who actually likes looking at his pictures of Russia), and you like similar video games and comic books. You seem to also have inherited your dad's ability to save money, and his love for the cheap, little things in life (as evidenced by the full on unadulterated joy from both of you when the box arrives each month from the discount comic book shop). But I want you to know that you are a lot like me too. We both have a pretty stellar imagination, and have a certain self-consciousness about our intelligence (as I'm sure you've noticed, Gabby and your dad are much more...let's say "in your face" about theirs). And perhaps most importantly, you and I have the same rebellious nature in us, a certain stubborness and hard-headedness. I think in you this trait is manifested much more sweetly. But I like that we share it.

Once my mother got a call from one of my teachers where she said, "Morgan is one of the smartest kids I've ever taught, but she's also one of the most outspoken and hard-headed. That is not a good combination." I expect to get the same call about you. I expect to someday hear you say, as I have said so many times before, "If I already know how to do the homework, why waste time doing it?" I expect to fight that battle. And I want you to know that although I will fight you on it, inside I will be smiling a little bit. Because I understand a lot more than I'll act like. Deep down, I'll agree, but I'll toe the hard line, and I'll give you some crap about getting into college and I'll say something about you not being as smart as you think you are. But deep down, I think we'll both know that you are that smart, and probably plenty more.

Sam, you're awesome and you're sweet and you're smart. I want you to remember that. But I also want you to remember that no matter what, your mom thinks that you have the best cheeks on the planet. When I tell you that now, you stick your butt out and say, "What? These cheeks? THESE HONEY BUNS?" And then you explode in laughter because well, you're a 7 year old boy. Hell, you'll probably still be laughing at this when you are 37 if you are anything like your father or myself who have never met a butt joke that we didn't like. At any rate, I hope that I get to kiss those cheeks forever, and I'm kind of jazzed that it is a probability.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Weight Watchers Update

So I lost .4 lb. last week. I was actually kind of expecting a gain because we spent the weekend doing everything that Sam likes to do (Gabby went to Florida with a friend, so Sam got the joy of an all weekend party) and evidently that includes a LOT of pizza. In fact, if I ever see pizza again, I'll probably puke. Unless that pizza is topped with pears and gorgonzola and arugula. In that case, bring it on. At any rate, I was relatively happy with the loss because it proves that even in the face of less than ideal food options, I can still lose.

But I'm back on it this week, trying to do my best and tracking everything. Since I an enjoying following Danica's Daily so much, I decided to try some of the recipes that she writes about. I made this shredded chicken, and finished it off today for lunch in some mad delicious tacos (what pizza is to Sam, tacos are to me). I also made this slow cooker chicken dish for my husband while he was sick because it seemed like good comfort food (and yes, don't cook it too long--I caught mine before it got mushy, and it was pretty good). The family has all been pretty good about trying all this with me, and in fact, I don't think they've noticed at all that things have been getting healthier around the house. However, last night, Matt was working late, and I was at home with the kids. Gabby asked me what was for dinner as I was setting the table. "Um, well, it's macaroni and cheese," I said. "But with cauliflower. A lot of cauliflower." Because I was making this super cheesy low fat cauliflower mac and cheese. She gave me The Look, which means that I had overstepped my bounds in trying to make the family healthy. Screw with the mac and cheese? After it is a well known fact that I adore the stuff and could heal any number of broken hearts/bad days/nuclear wars with it?

But yes, yes I did mess with it. So we sat down and tried it with some steamed broccoli on the side. And it was pretty damn good. The girls adored it--Gabby had two big plates and Alice had two toddler sized servings. Sam, who will not eat macaroni that doesn't come out of a box, had a small portion and a bowl full of plain whole wheat penne and steamed broccoli. We were all pleasantly surprised by how happily we noshed.

(I will say that I made a couple of changes: I used twice as much pasta since I was using penne and it is bigger and less able to mix than elbow macaroni (I fixed that by using the recipe builder in Weight Watchers to figure out points), and I used Cabot 75% Reduced Fat 1% cheese instead of 2%. I added maybe 1-2 tbsp more cheese to make up for the fat discrepancy--he he. I also used panko bread crumbs.)

After dinner, I decided we needed a snack to eat today (Matt and I were both planning long work days), so I made these Low-Fat Banana Bread Cookies. We all are huge banana bread fans--the kids have been known to polish off a loaf on a rainy Sunday afternoon. So I was excited to find something that promised that flavor profile but in something small and portion controlled as well as low-fat. They were super easy to make and put together while supervising baths, homework, and Alice. I pulled them out of the oven, and the kids ran to try them (Alice yelling "COO-KIE! COO-KIE!" the whole time). Sam ate one and declared them delicious and said they were the best cookies I've ever made. Which makes me wonder about all those super fattening cookies I've been making.... At any rate, they are very good. Chewy and fruity, with just enough banana flavor. I used dried cherries, and really, I could eat dried cherries in anything, but I liked the touch they add here. I had a good deal of extra points last night after dinner and ate two of these with a cup of 1% milk and felt like a queen for 7 total points. So, so good. Matt is also a big fan and ate them greedily last night, but only after making me promise that I would never, ever stop making them.

I hope your week is going healthfully if you are on WW or not. Here's to success on the scale this week!

A Crisis of Place

Yesterday I was driving home from taking Gabby to dance. It was a nice sunny day, and I had the two little kids in the car. We were listening to Ryan Adams and the Cardinals (the song, fittingly, was Wasteland) and talking about Sam's new chapter-book obsession. All of a sudden, a huge white truck with Texas plates pulled right up behind me and started flashing its lights. I was in the right lane, but I couldn't get over, and I was going a pretty good clip (probably 10 miles over the speed limit...shhh! don't tell Matt!). I sped up a bit, and ended up passing the car beside of me so that I could get in the left lane. When I did, the truck pulled beside of me and lingered there. I barely looked out of the corner of my eye and saw a guy giving me a certain hand gesture that involves two fingers and a tongue. If you don't readily know what I'm talking about, don't try to imagine. And of course, Sam looked too and then asked me about it. Of course. And the thing that sucks is that when I was describing to him the fact that people who aren't very smart do things to make other people feel bad and that it was really nothing, I couldn't use the words "flaming douchenozzle."

There is a massive coal-operated power plant being built within close proximity to my home, and because of that there is a huge influx of contractors from other states who have come here to construct it. I'll just come out and say that I am not in favor of the power plant, but hey, you probably suspected that since I spend my evenings washing and folding my cloth diapers and making fun refrigerator signs to encourage my family not to use an excessive number of paper towels. I am also not in favor of it because I am not a big fan of these contractors. This is not a dig against all contractors, but rather, against these particular ones, and I don't care if your uncle is a contractor at this power plant and he is an awesome guy. Whatever. Every one that I've seen has been a GIANT DOUCHE, including the ones who got drunk and puked in the bushes at their Christmas party, which was in the building where I work (I should also note that several of the wives reportedly got into a fist fight OVER PICTURES). Going to the grocery store around quitting time has especially become a challenge. Especially while wearing yoga pants. I won't get into that in any detail, but I will say that I do avoid the store now at any point after 5:00. In my own town. Which makes living here just that much AWESOMER.

Matt and I are not people to settle down, as I think I've gone into on here before. Imagining living in one place for the rest of my life makes me inordinately frightened. And we especially don't want to settle down here. We both grew up here, and really only came back for a little respite and to save some money for the next adventure. And its funny. In the past year, things have gotten better for us. Our jobs are more stable, our kids are happy, our families have helped us with baby-sitting and house stuff, and life has generally been easy and nice. For all practical purposes, we should be considering making a go of it here, at least putting off things until the kids are older.

But we're getting itchy. Really, really itchy. And we're starting to grasp at things. Matt has started looking at going back to get his Ph.D. At first, I really didn't want that yet. I was not ready to jump back into that lifestyle, to go back to what we had going in Berkeley. Then he mentioned moving to Maryland, and I thought, "Well, ok." And then he said Bloomington, IN, and I said that I didn't want to live somewhere that was not on a coast. But then, yesterday, I drove home angry about that certain gesture and about the myriad toxins that will soon be exploding into the air around my house when that plant gets completed, and I thought, "Fuck. Let's move to Bloomington."

And a big part of me knows that this is incredibly selfish of us. Our families love having us close. Hell, our kids love it here. But then I think of all the things that they miss out on that they could be enjoying--a better education, more activities, closer cultural activities, more ethnic foods to enjoy (that are not poorly reimagined in my kitchen), and I think that if anything, we have to get out of here for them. They don't understand this--they just want to stay in their rooms with their friends forever. But someday they will, and I don't want them to feel like we could have given them something better and just didn't.

The bad thing is, the longer we let it go, the more at risk we are for just picking up and doing something really irresponsible. So I am trying to be sane about it. But a big part of me wants to place a bunch of ads on Craigslist, pack my kids into the car, and take off.

I look at my life now, and it is nothing like I thought it would be. Which is probably a good thing, given that I figured I would be living in some hellhole in New York right now, surviving on a diet of coffee, sex, and the written word, newspapers insulating my walls to keep out the cold. But here I sit, and I don't know what I want to do next. On one hand this is exhilerating. I could do anything! I could go anywhere! On the other, it is damn scary. And when I look at little Alice's cherubic face and think that the poor thing has to deal with my decisions for at least the next 17 years, it gets even scarier. Like Michael Myers behind the curtain with a big knife scary.

This is a very bad post, in which I've probably managed to piss off a few contractors and lord knows that if anyone who lives in my area ever finds this, I'm going to get a huge missive on here about how great the power plant is and all the jobs and what the fuck is my problem. And I get it. It is a thorny issue, one that I'm not equipped to fully elucidate or even really discuss. But I'm here, sitting at my desk, and I'm frightened to tell you the truth, and well, you know. I'll shut up now.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Today I am just wholly inappropriate, both for work and for the season. I am wearing a spring dress and have only slightly modified it by putting a denim jacket over top of it and adding a scarf. The top picture shows the cute detailing, but I promise that I won't remove the jacket. That would just be too much. If I were to do that, little green Season Police would hop out of my desk drawer, slap tights on me and taunt me publicly.
But you know what? I don't care. I needed to wear a spring dress today. For one thing, my husband and mother in law (the mother in law who watches Alice during the day) both had a stomach virus yesterday, which means I had to stay home with Alice and work from home. Not a big deal. We had a great time, and I actually got more work done than I thought I would. But I think I got a touch of the virus yesterday, and today my stomach is just a touch queasy. Not enough to really do anything but make everything look unappetizing and make me crave an intervenous drip of Diet Coke. And, obviously, to wear non-work appropriate spring dresses. The truth is, I couldn't abide having anything with a waistband up around my tummy this morning, and the other two black dresses I tried would have required heels and/or Spanx to make them look like anything. So this is what was left.
And also, did I mention my husband had a stomach flu? I did? Well, let me explain that to you. My husband got this horrible, horrible disease yesterday that made him throw up so hard that blood shot out of his nose. I'm not even kidding. If you read this blog regularly (and Buddha bless you if you do), you know that my husband can be a bit of a drama king when it comes to sickness. He's always MUCH sicker in his mind than in reality. But, yesterday, HOLY SHIT. He was actually really, really ill. The blood thing...NO JOKE. There are parts of our bathroom floor that still look like a crime scene because of it (when I scrubbed the floor with equal parts Lysol and my own tears yesterday, I missed the area directly behind the trash can that was, yes, covered in blood, and yes, I saw it this morning and had to sit down and get out the vapors).
So the moral of the story is, if you see a girl dressed very inappropriately for the season today, it may be because she personally witnessed the man she loves shooting blood and other bodily products out of his head. So, you know, don't judge. She may need that completely work-inappropriate dress not to feel like complete and total crap.
If you also want to look mindnumbingly inappropriate, here's how:
Dress: Old Navy
Denim Jacket: J. Crew Factory
Scarf: Old Navy (pretty old)
Boots: Frye
Big wooly socks underneath: J. Crew
Earrings: gift from my daughter Gabby
Watch: Merona for Target