Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer Survival Guide, Part I

I live in VA. Summers in VA suck. That is all there is to it. They are hot and humid and you frequently find yourself oscillating wildly between a hot and burning exterior and an over air conditioned, artic interior. My office building is a prime example of this. Some days, it is stuffy in here and the air has an icky feel. Other days, I could swear it is February. I have a fan in my office, as well as my wool J. Crew grandpa sweater that I frequently wear on days that I have to unearth my car from a layer of ice. There have been a couple of days where I have used both at different points. Such is the perk of working in the dead center of a giant building with no windows or other forms of natural aeration.

Therefore, you have to have a few tricks up your sleeve in order to make it through comfortably and not looking like you are "hot as a Trojan" (I don't know where this saying comes from and if it relates to ancient Greeks or condoms. My grandmother said it a lot growing up, and from her, it could be either). Here are a few things I have found that are helpful.

Goody Spin Pins: I have long hair, and come summer, my number one activity is finding a cute way to keep it off of my neck. Ponytails are ok, but I really don't want to rock a pony all day, every day. Health magazine ran an article about summer hair a month ago (June's edition, I think) and there was a cute bun in there that I wore a bit and liked. Real Simple had some ideas as well, notably one for a side pony that I have worn with my fedora to great acclaim from the husband. However, bobby pins are never really that fun. They fall out, you lose them, they bring back horrific memories of dance recitals in years past. They are a general pain in the ass. This is where the "spin pin" comes in. Basically, this are tornado-esque pins that you put through a little chignon and they hold it in place. Two pins and you're solid. And you know, I really like them. In fact, I am wearing them right now as I type this. They are fast and simple (I am pretty much all thumbs with a wide array of hair styling, but I got the hang of this pretty quickly), they hold the hair securely, and the look is cute and a little better than a pony. Plus, you don't even have to use a hair elastic. Really all you need are the two pins.

I will say that you should give yourself time to get the hang of it. It is quick to learn, but it can be frustrating (like really, HULKSMASH style frustrating) when you are in a hurry and trying to get your hair up and it just won't work. The real trick is to try to put them in straight up and down--not on an angle. Also, you are a bit limited on what you can do with them. The Goody box specifies three styles--the classic chignon, a side chignon and a double chignon. A quick Google search tells me there are other options on You Tube. But, for the money, this is a great product and a real helper in the summer time.

Goody Headwraps It is somewhat fitting that the first two things on my list would be dealing with hair, because I think hair is the biggest issue in a hot humid summer. At least it is for me. These are your standard head wraps, designed to pull the hair back from your face like a headband without the headache. If I remember correctly, I rocked some very wide cotton ones in strange colors during the early 90's. I originally bought these for running to smooth the sides of my head from the bits of hair that pop out from my ponytail. However, you can do a lot more with them. If you buy the ones in the color of your hair (brunette for me), they blend in and can really smooth those little fly aways on the sides that humidity pulls out of me. I have in one right now with my Spin Pin chignon. It is just there to keep things smooth. I have used these things forever, but I recently saw in the June Health where frequent contributor, Bobbi Brown (of make-up fame, not of Hell to the No fame) uses them as well, even for formal events, and I can definitely see how you would do that. Like I said, it is just another weapon for you in your battle against humidity. And by the way--don't order them from Amazon via that link. $17.59 is crazy. I just bought a new pack a couple of days ago to share with Gabby, and I think they were $4-$5.

Jersey dresses: I don't really feel like this is new information or that I'm blowing the lid off of anything here. Jersey dresses are super comfortable and are a summer staple. The racks are filled with them--I see classy ones, slutty ones, ones that are made of that weird stuff that is often flower printed and looks like it is wrinkled (anyone know what this stuff is called? IT IS THE DEVIL). But I also see a lot of women walking around in places where a jersey dress would be perfection, looking hot, tired, and uncomfortable in ill-fitting shorts and dresses made out of stiff, non-breathable materials. Stop the insanity people! Every year, I purchase a new one of these dresses from J. Crew. I might get a few others in various places, but I always, ALWAYS get a J. Crew one. Why? Because they are flattering, and I have found them to be of consistent quality. Just for an example, I wore one of them throughout my pregnancy with Alice--I think I wore it the day before she was born! This year's dress is this one. I have found it to be unique in that has a little bit of interest--the elastic belt, the almost Grecian look at the strap--that set it apart and make it ok for a not-so-fancy evening out or with a cardigan to work (especially around here where the lack of students is making us all a bit more casual than during the school year). Plus, it is super, super comfortable, and miracle of all miracles, was not too long on me when I purchased it! Super, duper score.

Neutrogena Wet Skin Sunscreen Ladies, sunscreen is not optional. I am uber, UBER pale and I would love, DREAM OF IN FACT getting a nice bronzing while laying at the beach, reading Motley Crue's The Dirt. BUT. Skin cancer is a very, very real thing. You probably remember this if you read regularly, but I recently watched my grandmother die of skin cancer. Besides the obvious sadness because this was my grandmother, this was probably the saddest, most horrible death I can imagine. I won't go into details out of respect for her, but believe me when I say that this is not something that you even want to tempt into having. I have always been a bit of the sunscreen queen while on vacation with my kids and that kind of thing (and really, what mom is not?), but this year I have definitely stepped it up a notch. I am glad I found this product. It is perfect for applying at the pool--you can apply it right after exiting on to wet skin, and it will adhere just perfectly. Plus, even if you're not chilling pool side that much, it is perfect for sweaty bodies. My husband and I used it yesterday after riding in a hot car (read: bit sweaty) and then going running and it stuck to us and worked great. Great for touch ups too. I will tell you that I don't wholly trust the super high SPF's that I see, so I think I have 30 or 50, but it goes up to like 85 if you are into that kind of thing. There is also a kids formula, but my kids are fine with this version.

Guys, I don't really care if you buy this sunscreen. I don't buy it exclusively--I use a lot of different brands depending on where I am, what I need and what is on sale. But please consider wearing it this summer. We put it on our kids, we'll make sure they are covered with rash guards and hats and such, but so many times, we as women forget about ourselves. And that's not ok. Layer it on so that you can enjoy many, many more summers with them and love that sun and that trashy novel as much as you can!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Futures I Thought I Might Have: Jonathan Taylor Thomas

I, like a good many women in their mid to late 20's, spent a good part of my adolescence embroiled in a passionate, one sided love affair with Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I liked to think that I had more of a right to him than other girls in that, I felt I had "discovered" him. While lots of other ladies were still tearing out the glossies of Jonathan Brandis (RIP) and watching Seaquest for their jollies, I had fully boarded the JTT train and was busy making my mom tape Home Improvement for me every week. By the time that the rest of my classmates had hopped on that train, I felt that I was the conductor. And that, yes, as a reward for sharing his unimaginable beauty with the world, he would be mine.

I did a lot of odd things for the love of one JTT. I made my mother search all over the greater Tri-Cities area for feta cheese, as I had read that was his favorite food and it, at that time, was not readily available in a rural VA grocery store (she found it, in a huge package, at a Sam's Club). It soon became my favorite too (and now, reading that, I want some). I purchased every Bop and Big Bopper and Tiger Beat imaginable in duo--one to leave together, to gaze at, dreamily, and the other to tear out the pictures to place inside of my Lisa Frank trapper keeper folders. Most funnily, when Man of the House (a movie starring Chevy Chase and JTT) came out, and I found out our local radio station was offering a Man of the House gift pack, I made my poor, embattled mother sit outside of my gymnastics class, frantically punching in the numbers on her new bag phone so that she could be caller number nine. She managed to win (probably because no one else wanted a prize pack that included a movie ticket and a Duck Head t-shirt from the Watson's sale rack), and she came running into my class excitedly, yelling, "I won it! I won it!" When we finally got to pick up the shirt, it was a copy of one that JTT wore in the movie. NOT THE ACTUAL SHIRT. However, I was convinced that it was still imbued with some indelible JTT-ness and decided to never wear it, and to let a large, forgotten teddy bear rock the look instead. I slept with that bear for a long time, and got pretty angry when my grandmother finally washed the shirt.

I imagined that JTT would find me utterly amazing. We were both smart, I figured, and I think I read somewhere that he liked to read. I imagined us reading together, and being very charming and eating a lot of feta cheese and shrimp pasta since that was my favorite dish. He also liked the outdoors, so we would hike some, and I would bring him to the falls that were close to my home and he would love it and we would kiss passionately on all of the bridges. We would snark a lot together about Jodie Sweetin, who I irrationally hated, so affeared was I that she and JTT might find a common thread of being on family centric ABC sitcoms and discover a hidden love. But mostly, I loved JTT with a love that can only be felt by pre-teen girls--shallow yet pure, adoring yet naive, happy yet frightened.

For some reason today, perhaps boredom, I got this hankering to see what old JTT is up to. IMDb and Wikipedia pages were startingly bare, with nothing doing since about 2005. A simple Google search brought up some pages, most of them linked to whether he is gay or not. Finally, I happened upon a page which says with absolutely no authority that he is now producing movies in Vacouver under another name. Since I'm not completely insane, and since I don't care that much, I decided to leave it at that.

But I like that idea of him, living (slightly) anonymously in Canada. Being old now, I can't imagine living with that kind of fame, of having your name permanently attached to another person living in a time long, long ago. I think of myself when I was younger, of my buck teeth and braces and head gear and fine dishwater blonde hair. Sure, he was a much cuter kid. But superficially perhaps, I don't think anyone really "likes" who they were at that point in their life, trying to sort it out what it means to be a grown up or a kid or whatever else you woke up feeling like this morning.

My daughter is now this age, this crazy knock-kneed age where nothing is what it seems. Yesterday, we took her and the other kids to see Cars II and to grab some sushi and ice cream. She came out of her room wearing a new tank top and a pair of (short!) plaid shorts we bought at Aeropostale over the weekend, size 0. Her hair was long and she had gotten it pin straight by some miracle (a real miracle since she doesn't have a straightening iron and her hair is difficult to put it mildly). She was wearing big, dark sunglasses. The only vestiges that belied her age were a tiny zebra pendant she bought at the zoo last week, and a pair of pink sequined Chuck Taylor-esque sneakers. I couldn't stop looking at her--there was a certain care she had taken with her looks, a certain je ne sais quoi, something that I don't think I fully got until I was out of college. She had tried to cultivate that look, worked to get it perfect. I kept telling her how amazing she looked, because really she did, and she just smiled at first, and then got sick of hearing it and shot me The Look.

But on the way home last night, I really got worried about this world in which we live. In my time, back when JTT reigned and there were no cell phones or Twitters or Rihanna's, being unperfect was some sort of a token, something that you couldn't escape, like Pogs or the flying toaster screensaver. For Gabby's generation, there is an emphasis on perfection at all costs, at all times. I was telling Matt last night, when we were kids, I felt music gave you an outlet--"You feel alienated? Awesome! So do we!" For Gabby, I feel the prevailing message is one of "You didn't look perfect when you rolled out of bed this morning? WELL FUCK YOU TOO!"

Now, I don't know if my daughter feels this pressure. We have talked about it some, in those roundabout Mommy/Daughter my-mom-sure-took-too-many-women's-studies-courses talks, and it is not something she owns up to, not to me, and probably not to herself. But seeing her yesterday being so perfectly lovely made me feel, yes, proud and happy in that Mom-ish kind of way (though not nearly as happy as when she brings home straight A's every quarter, or when she wins the school's Art Award), but also frightened. And worried. I want to take her aside, back to 1995, when everything was just a tad bit less plastic, when perfection was found in a Smashing Pumpkins chorus, not on the face of a 12 year old.

I don't wish that I was married to JTT or living with him or even knowing more about him. I am quite happy with my strange, nerdy husband, with his comic books and his glasses and his deft ability to make a reference to Russian literature and another to Spongebob in the same sentence. But I do wish for that innocent feeling of 1995, of that feeling of a world that is real and understandable, of 12 years old meaning blind crushes and the beginnings of bad skin, not a beginning of perfection.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Things That Suck: Cover Girl Natureluxe Foundation

First of all, Joe Mauer does not approve of this product, and would not condone your using it. Because he is not interested in having sex with an Oompah Loompah. Of course, if he decides that he is, you know who'll be first in line. THIS GIRL. Because I already have the foundation to make me Oompah-ish and because I was once in a production of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory so I have the requisite experience.

But despite me not sullying Joe Mauer's good name with this, here's a picture of him in a hammock. Because it is Monday, because he is hot, and because at the end of the day, it is my blog, and if I want a picture of a very, very tasty piece of catching goodness hanging out in a hammock, gosh darnit, I'll have it.

Ok, back to the foundation. Really, you know, I should have known better. I saw this stuff in Wal-Mart when I was shopping for make-up a long time ago, and I avoided it like the plague because it was being shilled by Taylor Swift. I have a deep, nonsensical hate for Taylor Swift, a hate that is shared, and I feel bolstered, by my 12 year old daughter. And you're sitting there hating me right now, because how could I hate someone as harmless as Taylor Swift who sings about being the non-cheerleader and all of that and oh, isn't she so cute with her blonde hair and tiny, beady little eyes. But her music makes me want to put my head in a wood chipper. I hate her voice. IT GRATES. Gabby agrees, and this deep, abiding hate has brought us closer, I feel. It is a strong mother/daughter relationship when you can hear a Taylor Swift song come on the radio and both scream in unison, "TURN IT OFF! KILL IT WITH FIRE!"

But I ran out of my L'Oreal True Match that is my "filler" foundation that I use between bottles of MAC when I can't get over to the Johnson City Mall to get my fix. And I was at Target, and I was thinking that maybe I should get something light that would be acceptable for days that I don't have to work and are just flitting around with the kids. I like Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer for this, but I'm out of that too, and it is a bit pricey to just be wearing around the house. So I picked this up. I don't even remember why I thought this was a good idea, but I know that I did match it up to my skin as best I could.

First off, the price on this sucks. I think it was $12, which in my opinion, is a little much for a drugstore brand tinted moisturizer. Plus, it is just the tube--no external packaging. Which means that every bottle there has been opened and tested by some other poor sap who thought it was a good idea to buy this stuff. For my $12, I think the good folks at Cover Girl could invest in something that might keep this stuff from being tampered with. But maybe that money went to Taylor so she could buy more Joe Jonas voodoo dolls to impale.

Now, the formula, I'll say is pretty nice going on. It blends well, and the smell is "natural" in the way that Pine Sol is natural. It is not obnoxious, and I didn't mind it, although I've since read some reviews from people who did. I wouldn't say it is necessarily "luxe", but I can see why that name was attached to it. The first time I put it on, I liked it, and I started crafting a "Products that Allow you To Have Sex With Joe Mauer"-style product review in my head.

But I wore it to the zoo with my family on Thursday, and I have to say that it changed colors. Now, mind you, this is a pretty transparent style foundation/tinted moisturizer that you can build coverage with. So it is not a heavy color to begin with. But somehow, I ended up with an orange-y face about halfway through the day, and I didn't change any of my other make-up. This is an outright fail in my book. Sure, the product "works" in a way--it is a serviceable tinted moisturizer, that allows you to have light coverage for a drugstore (albeit upper end) price. And maybe it is just my skin and the fact that it is very pale. But for whatever reason, it gets orange-y in a hurry.

I am willing to play with it a bit, adding powder and a lighter blush and what have you to try to salvage it because I spent $12 on it. But that is a lot more than I WANT to do since I just bought this stuff to wear on days when I don't give a crap. And the thing is, I'll still go and buy my MAC tomorrow and I'll probably STILL be on the look-out for a good tinted moisturizer.

The worst thing about all this is that I really should have just followed my mother's longtime advice. Growing up, my mom taught me two very important things that I should never forget. They are: Never buy cheap foundation or cheap shoes, and if you do, be ready to live with the results. Wise words, and it burns me that my mother was right yet again.

What say you, gentle readers? What foundation are you loving these days? I am getting increasingly curious about mineral foundation--I have tried Bare Minerals to no real success, but I've recently read that most mineral foundation lovers don't even consider BM a mineral make-up because of all the fillers and ingredients. I am thinking of ordering a mineral kit to try it out. Any ideas? Brands?

Things that Suck: You Belong to Me

On Thursday, Matt and I took the kids to the Knoxville Zoo and to Pigeon Forge, TN for a little trip. We decided to only stay a couple of days so that we didn't have to worry about kenneling the dog (we had family members stop in to feed and take him out) and so we could enjoy a little time at home before trooping back to the salt mines today. And that was a good idea. Because any time we do any kind of trip, we do it HARDCORE. Like EXTREME vacationing. No laying back to relax! We do as much as possible for as long as possible, which means that we all end up bone-tired when we return. But it is a happy tired, an accomplished, holy-shit-that-was-fun tired.

This is why Saturday evening found me laying on my bed, watching Lifetime. We had just returned, and of course, I unloaded all of our outlet shopping purchases, and then, fell in a big heap with Alice. I was pretty happy with just watching whatever came on. And at first, I was just glad that it wasn't that crappy Army Wives shit or that Drop Dead Diva show which offends me to my core that they can't just make a show about a confident, happy plus-sized brunette chick. NO! She has to have been a blonde knockout in another life, thus making her fun and awesome! Everyone knows chubby brunette chicks are just miserable and wear only muumuus and cry tears that taste like vanilla bean frappuccinos! VOMIT.

But then I watched You Belong to Me, which just may be the absolute worst Lifetime Movie ever made (disregarding, of course, that schlocky shit they show at Christmas that I do not have the intestinal fortitude to even attempt watching). It stars Shannon Elizabeth (yup) and is a Lifetime "horror" "movie".

And that's not even the worst part. Basically, I think this movie was made because some dude somewhere had a horrible experience with an ex-girlfriend who was an English major. And since I was an English major, this offends me. And it made my head hurt.

Here's a synopsis of the movie: Basically, girl meets boy at work. Boy becomes obsessed with girl. Boy is a generally creepy English major. Boy stalks girl. Boy falls off of cliff. Girl's house becomes haunted. A vase is thrown by a ghostly scepter with horrible, horrible aim and girl realizes that boy wants her to join him in the afterlife. Girl finds boy's grandmother and finds out that she is a dead-ringer (har har) for boy's dead mother. PAGING DR. FREUD! WE'VE GOT OEDIPUS ON LINE ONE! Girl fights boy's ghost for her soul and that of her son. The end.

Sounds horrible, huh? Now imagine it with Shannon Elizabeth doing the "acting". Are you vomiting yet? No offense to Ms. Elizabeth, but holy crap. If there is any justice in the world, she and her majestic rack are working in a nondescript office job right now, somewhere where she can't hurt us any longer.

So the English major thing: yes, the creepy guy/antagonist (BIG ENGLISH MAJOR WORD, YA'LL) admits to being an English major. And I'm like, "Well, ok, yeah, we have some creepers among our ilk." People who like to spend their time writing and reading obscure things are generally not the most sane people you know, amirite? So I'm willing to cop to that. But this guy...whew. He spends about 9/10 of the movie trying to quote various Brownings. I kind of expect him to jump out of a closet and yell, "I AM AN ENGLISH MAJOR GODDAMMIT. AND SINCE THE ECONOMY SUCKS SO HARD, I AM LEGALLY OBLIGATED TO QUOTE THE ONE GODDAMN POEM I KNOW AT LEAST FOUR TIMES A DAY. BECAUSE I MAJORED IN ENGLISH. AND I DID IT SO FUCKING HARD." In fact, it would have helped the movie along if he had done that and probably shaved about 15 minutes we have of mindless Browning-rambling. And here's my picky English major point that pissed me off more than anything--he kind of skips around between Robert and Elizabeth Barret Browning. LIKE THEY ARE THE SAME PERSON. My lord, Lifetime. If you're going to feature someone being a complete English major douche, at least do it right! A real English major would point out the differences between the two, and would probably give you some really quippy point that would make you secretly hate that person a little and ultimately, remove them from your Christmas card list.

As if all that isn't bad enough, this movie had another major detractor. And that is some of the most horrible, cringe-inducing Lifetime movie sex I've ever seen. Now I'll tell you, no Lifetime sex is good sex. And if I had a quarter for every orgasm I'd seen faked in a Lifetime movie, I'd have enough money to be able to watch my trashy movies on a brand new 3-D tv. But this stuff is so cringe inducing that it made me squirm a bit. Ms. Elizabeth does have some gorgeous breasts--I'll give her that. And they looked lovely in her lacy little bra she wore in BOTH of the sexy instances. But the rest of it was just BLECH. The first time was especially wretched. Basically, Girl is talking to her lawyer boyfriend (we'll call him Boy II), who is completely non-threatening in a Lifetime movie man kind of way. And he's talking about how much he loves kids. And then they just start making out. Ok, ick. Maybe it is just me, but I don't find talking about my children to be an aphrodisiac. Usually, I am the most erm, excited, when I have not even thought of my kids in a good while. But I guess Lifetime feels that the only way ladies can get in the mood is if they are a) trying to have a baby or b) have found a man who just loves talking about the kiddos. Part of that pisses me off, and the other part just squicks me out. Blech.

So, in the whole scheme of things, with one being Christmas Lifetime schlock, and five being The Two Mr. Kissels, this movie rates about a 1.5. And it only gets the .5 because of this awesome line of dialogue (and note that I'm approximating here--I watched this on Saturday):

Boy II: If this ghost is so powerful, and he really wants to kill you, why hasn't he?

What's funny here? Well, I feel like with this line, the good folks at Lifetime are acknowledging they've made a really shitty movie with a big old fat plot hole. And you know what they're saying? They're saying, "Well fuck you too! We don't have to explain anything to you. We'll make you EMBRACE that plot hole, you randy housewife!"

So, bad as it may be, this movie has some balls. Albeit tiny, sad little balls, but balls none the less. Watch if you dare.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Optimum Number of Children for Maximum Awesomeness

Last night, as I stood in a Chuck E. Cheese, wearing a fedora and clutching a Guitar Hero guitar and trying desperately to not look like a total idiot while activating star power on the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage", I began to think about families. Around me were families of all sizes, shapes, and variety. Kids were running around, doing the kinds of things that would get them thrown out of any establishment but a Chuck E. Cheese. And parents where there, some of them wrangling, some of them peacefully eating pizza, some of them melting your fucking face off on Guitar Hero.

Two women, however, stood out. One had obviously just come from work and was wearing a lovely pair of linen blend pants, just casual and summery enough to be seasonal, but not so much to preclude her from wearing them to the office. With it, she had a refined knit v-neck shirt with some shirring, flat black sandals and a long, thick necklace. Her hair was styled simply and her make-up looked effortless. The other lady was wearing a simple knit pull on skirt in a lovely blue, a black shirred t-shirt (not so unlike the other lady's white version) in a refined, substantial knit, and bronze gladiator style sandals. Her hair was pulled back in a clasp, and she wasn't wearing noticeable make-up. Both ladies were lovely, in a pulled together, appropriate way. One clearly had spent her day at work, while the other was probably a SAHM. Neither had the perfect body. But seeing them was enough to say, "Wow."

I will come right out and say that I wasn't stalking them because otherwise it might sound that way. If you've ever been to CEC, you know that you're stuck in there with everyone else and it is kind of like maybe being in a bank hold up together--you become comrades in a grand scheme to placate the terrorizing people (or, as they are better known, your children) around you. That said, I did notice that both women were there with 3 kids. And I smiled a little bit because I have three kids, and well, us 3-kidders are just the most awesome people ever, don't you think? I immediately started thinking of how that the three most stylish people in the CEC had three children and that couldn't be a coincidence? Right? RIGHT?!?

Anyway, I brought it up to Matt on the way home, and he was (probably rightfully) alarmed that I would consider such a thing or had really bothered to notice so much about these ladies (I AM NOT A STALKER!). But he quickly warmed to the idea, and soon, we were crafting a list of the ways to maximize your life's awesomeness by having the right number of kids. And yeah, you may disagree. But whatever. We all know I'm right.

1. You have to have a back-up kid (or two). Let's face it. You may be awesome, but it is totally possible that your kid may turn up being a fuckhead. We all know awesome people who have raised some real gems, amirite? Think about that kid on your freshman hall who ended up only wearing a bathrobe for the better part of his first semester and ended up in such a state that the counseling center had to come and debrief you all. That kid's parents were probably ok. No matter how good you do with being a parent, your kid could end up on the receiving end of some poor life decisions, and the next thing you know, he's living in your basement, eating tater tots and organizing rallies for Sarah Palin. Good thing you have a back-up kid (or two)! Your back-up kid can probably be goaded into doing extra special good to make up for his lackluster sibling. AND the back-up kid can even take on some of your job as a parent and try to help that sibling. While you sit back and watch Law and Order. Holla.

2. Movies have shown us that only children are creepy as all hell. I was an only child. Was I creepy? HELL YES I WAS. I had all these imaginary friends, the most prominent of which were weirdly named "William" and "Mary." I'm not kidding. William skiied a lot and Mary was a cheerleader. For what sport, I don't know. She just wore a cheerleading outfit around and carried pom poms. Did I mention they were bears? Cause they were. And this is not an isolated phenomenon. Damien from the Omen? Rosemary's baby? That creepy kid from The Shining? Norma EFFING Bates? All only children and all people that I don't want to meet in a dark alley. Plus, only children think they are special. We are not special. And when life beats us down to tell us that, it hurts. Excuse me while I blow my nose.

3. Multiple children can play together. When you have more than one kid, they can amuse each other. Case in point: last night, Matt and I took our brood to CEC. Alice is just old enough to where she can run amok and ride stuff and throw skee-balls at unsuspecting Little League teams. And sure it is fun enough to walk around with her, and put her on rides and hear her scream "NO!" and then relax and realize that it is fun and enjoy the heck out of it. All that's great. But then the pizza gets there, and you just want to sit down like a normal person and have a slice of pizza and talk about The Traveling Wilbury's. Older siblings to the rescue! Gabby (semi-relunctantly) "volunteered" to take Alice around while Mommy and Daddy finished eating. The best thing about this? These older children can be bought with basically nothing. Matt gave Gabby two extra tokens for her troubles (the equivalent of $.50) and SHE TOOK IT. HA HA HA. Before she goes out in the world, I'll teach her to not be a sucker, but not until I reap the benefits of this to the maximum.

4. A family of four gets squeezed into a booth. A family of five gets a long booth or the round table. Case closed.

5. Four or more kids, however, raises your likelihood to have a douche by a lot. The more kids you have, the more you're tempting fate. And the more your attention slides and the less you're going to notice. Sure, they could all turn out to be solid citizens. But the more you have, the more you skew those odds. You could end up with a kid who wears a lot of Ed Hardy, moves to Peru and names your grandkid something like "Cool Beans." They could just slip under the radar, and then one day, you're sitting at the dining table at Christmas and you realize the guy with the mashed potatoes is rocking looks like a paunchy Jonas brother. Man, that shit happened on your watch! Be vigilant and keep the kids down.

6. But lastly, the more kids you have, the better memorial service those kids can throw you. I have three kids, and I'm going to pay to send those kids to college. My main reason for this is so that when I die, I go out in a blaze of glory the likes of which you have never even dreamed of. I want to be cremated, and I want my children to take my ashes (which will be kept secure in a Folger's coffee can) on a cross country trip in my old Volkswagen. I want them to film this, and I want one of them to make it into a quality documentary film about my life. And I want them to get me to the Marin Headlands, right off of Highway 1, and there I want them to shoot my ashes out of an authentic colonial cannon and into the ocean while blasting ACDC's "Whole Lotta Rosie" from the car's stereo. See? I've gotta have three kids to finance that. I'm an only child, ya'll. You wanna know what I intend doing to my parents up on their death? Do the words "backyard BBQ spit" mean anything to you?

Monday, June 20, 2011

My baby is better than yours.

Is your baby advanced? Cause mine sure is! Just look at her! Can your baby count to 100? Can she do it by 10's? 20's? Mothereffing 3's? Because mine can do that shit right now. Can yours? No? Well, if she can't, I'd recommend you start filling out that Wal-Mart application for her right now. Because, unlike your kid, my kid is super advanced!

Is your 21 month old potty trained? Because mine sure is! Not only that, she can go to the bathroom, put her own Dora seat down and complete the entire New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle IN PEN before she finishes taking her sweet little baby crap. I don't know what a six letter word meaning "A shower in Paris" means, but I know that the other stuff means that my kid is advanced. And if your kid isn't potty trained by the time he or she turns two, I think we all know that she will never be advanced! Looks like it is a promising career in porn for your kid! Don't cry--I hear that's how Marilyn first got her shot.

My kid likes playing with toys! Did you hear that? Get your jaw off the ground. She can pick up tangible objects and manipulate them in a playing manner! HOLY SHIT YES. That's because she's very, very advanced. Does your child play realistic games, reenacting key battles of the Crimean War in French? No? Um, have you had that kid checked for....developmental delays? No developmental delays here! Do you know why? Because my kid is ADVANCED.

Do you read to your kid? I do! Because my kid is advanced! In fact, I read to her in utero. IN FACT, before she was even conceived, I read to my husband's balls. Every night! And not like those letters to the editor printed in Hustler. I read Tolstoy to my husband's balls. Did you do that? Well, I'm sorry that you are not going to have an advanced child. Maybe she'll let you use her discount at FasMart.

Have you thought about where your child will attend preschool? I'm filling out applications as we speak! I already have a preschool, elementary school, high school, one-on-one high school tutoring, Ivy League university and an awesome internship with NASA lined up for my kid. Do you have that for your kid? No? Who are you? Do you live in Pakistan? Obviously, since your kid is not advanced.

Are you breastfeeding? No? Then I'm sure your kid has scurvy. Or rickets. Or gout. At least that's what I read on the internet! In fact, my (public school attending) breast milk is not even good enough for my advanced child. I have breastmilk flown in from only Ivy League graduates. You know why? Because my kid is advanced! No plebian tit for her!

Stop the presses! My kid just said her colors!!!! In Old Church Slavonic! Can your child say their colors? They can't?!? I speak five languages to my kid. I suppose you only speak English to your child. Maybe you should read this book I read about intelligent people speaking a bunch of languages. Especially French. Because French is so useful.

Is your child advanced? If not, maybe it is not too late for adoption. Maybe you can get a nice Asian family to take her and try to help with the situation. I'm sorry if you don't like that. But that's life if your kid isn't ADVANCED!

Just sayin'!

Friday, June 17, 2011

I will not go to mothereffing Disney World.

I got reported to earlier this week for posting something on Facebook about scheduling family vacations. And yeah, I know, first world problem, blah blah blah, but ya'll, let me tell you. That shit is hard. Last year, I just let Matt do the whole shebang and then just showed up with a smile on my face, rocking the greater Williamsburg area LIKE A BOSS. But this year, I told him I'd do something, like research stuff and whatever, since I sit in an office all summer just working on my novel (SHUT UP!) and occasionally fielding calls from people who preface their requests with "So, I'm thinking I might like to go to college and shit." So it's not like I don't have the time. Anyway, I start looking and let me tell you--it is bananas. Tripadvisor is great and all, but there is only so much you can take before all the pictures start to run together and you really start thinking that the DoubleTree in Cleveland is the Hampton in DC is the SpringHill Suites in Gatlinburg. And yes, ya'll, at some point this summer, my husband and I are (willingly) going to Cleveland.

Matt has this (nerdy) Five Year Plan for family vacations. He describes it as a "Ward Cleaver cum Clark Griswold cum Hal Jordan BOSS move." Whatever. This year, we are taking our kids to the nation's capitol, because we enjoy feeling like we are burning from the inside as we gently goad our progeny into looking at some mothereffing pandas. The kids are really excited, because, hey, what can I say--we raise nerds. Sam is all like "OH MY GOD MOM. CAN WE GO TO MOUNT VERNON!!!!! GAAAAAHHH!!!!" And then he laid down in the floor and did this really weird lay-dance. Wanting to capitalize on all this blatant nerdery and Matt's seemingly endless patience for travel, I had the great idea to also take some "fun" weekend trips as well, where we really just go over the top and perhaps visit places where we don't have to read anything. Like the J. Crew Outlet. And since this is my baby as it is, I have to plan that too, on top of the Great Washington DC Nerd-Out of 2011. Had I realized that, my kids would be having the same kind of summers I had as a kid, which mostly consisted of me riding around with my mom as she audited the area school systems, playing Tetris and picking scabs.

So last night the kids were at the table and we're eating and I get the great idea to really tease them, and I go, "So kids. Guess where we're going next week?!?!" And the answer, I'll tell you my loyal readers, is the Knoxville Zoo (we are members after all) and to the greater Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area which, yes, has a J.Crew Outlet and more blatant redneckery than any of you really thought possible. There is fudge there too, and a decent minor league baseball team, so you know, it might be the greatest place on the planet.

Gabby, however, who probably ingested just a little too much chlorine a the pool yesterday, goes, "DISNEY WORLD?!?!?!"

A normal mother would gently say, "No, sweetie." A slightly more unhinged mother would have said, "Um, in what universe do people just pick up and go to Disney World for a couple of days just for giggles?" And of course, I said, "Uh, no. If we decide to visit America's stretch mark any time in the next 5 years, I'll give you a little bit more than one week lead time."

Now, I mean no disrespect to anyone who lives in Central Florida. If you live there, you can take massive solace in the fact that I live in a town that is not even really a town, just an unincorporated land mass, and it probably ranks pretty low in the ole per capita tooth rankings. One of the finer dining options in my town is called Ma's and Pa's and they let you trade gold teeth in for fish dinners. They do not, however, accept Visa. NOT JOKING. So Central Florida, comparatively, is probably a lot better than where I live. But I'll just say, I've been to Central Florida a couple of times, and it is what I imagine the Gaza Strip is like. It is really hot, there's gunfire, random things are on fire, buildings are sitting there, half completed, there are random car parts laying in random places. Even more disturbing is the high concentration of really old people in shorts. Not my cup of tea, ya'll.

The fact that Disney World is just plopped in the middle of this crap is, I think, just a big middle finger to all us parents. It is like taking my lovely Liev Shrieber and plopping him down in a sequel to Kangaroo Jack. Sure he's great and all, but do I really want to go sit through that steaming pile just to see him? HELL NO. And the thing is, I don't think Disney is all that great. Sure, I've been there when a couple of times when I was younger, and I think I liked it. I don't have any strong memories either way. But the thing is, I grew up in a simpler time. My kids are growing up in a time with iPads and TiVo and all manner of quality television programming and private pools and all kinds of crazy shit I couldn't even conceive of as a kid who only had three television channels until she was 10. They've been to theme parks on both sides of the country, beaches, had parents who, you know, totally effing RULE. I would find it highly surprising if my kids could even pick Mickey Mouse out of a line-up. Why would they want to go see a guy dressed up as said mouse and hug a princess who probably works the late shift at Captain Jack's Girls and More?

But they do. Gabby went to Disney with a friend earlier this spring, and she's just ga-ga for it, I guess. And when she mentioned it, Sam's eyes lit up. And I'm thinking, "Oh HELL no. Sure, you can puke on me, scratch me, keep me up at night, force me to see the freaking Gulliver's Travels with Jack Black and even admonish me when I try to tell you afterwards what the book was like. But this shit? And I have to pay for it, to be willingly tortured? To see princesses that I, yes, morally object to because I am just that kind of self-righteous, pretentious beast? Oh NO. MOMMY OUT."

Matt though, being Captain Geek Sparrow himself chimes in with a "I so want to go to Universal Studios and ride that Harry Potter ride." And while I briefly consider the fact that I'm pretty sure I should be arrested for being married to someone who is obviously a 12 year old with incredible beard growing abilities, I think, "This is happening. My God in Heaven. This is really happening."

There's part of me that wants to make a line in the sand and just say that we're to my limit. That I'm allergic to mice and princesses and tacky castles made out of stucco. But I won't. Because I love my kids, and my husband for that matter. Sure, I'll object to the point that even the dog is rolling his eyes at me. But they will put it into some dazzling SIX year plan, I'm sure, and I'll go along because really, they're awesome and they let me watch them do things like play baseball and dance and be just generally along for their ride.

But I'm saying it now: some kids that I know better be gettin' those iPod's and DS's and PSP's ready because they will be accompanying me to go outlet shopping a whole hell of a lot to make up for this. Mama knows how to make these things right.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Forever 21

When one is in their mid to late 20's, as I am, there is a great deal of angst and agony over where one sees one's self on the age scale. Or maybe there is not. Maybe it is just me. At any rate, I find myself toeing the line between kid and grown up, toeing it ever so lightly, pitching over it at some points. Yes, for all intents and purposes, I am a grown up. I pay taxes, I have a job and utility bills and weekly grocery store lists. But there is still that part of me, laughing at fart jokes, all too willing to seperate myself from the grody adults I see walking around my office building in their sensible shoes and polyester skirt suits. In many ways, I find myself identifying with my 12 year old daughter as she toes the ever-changing line between child and adolescent. And I like to think that the whole "where do I fit in" thing is a shared experience with my fellow late-20's group as well.

On Friday, my husband I sent our children to stay with his parents for the weekend. Our anniversary was actually last weekend, but my MIL was out of town and could not watch the kids, so we put it off until this weekend. We had many, many plans. At first, when we began considering this weekend away months ago, we had considered going to Bonnaroo. But then I wondered if my husband could take it, him not being the music fan that I am and not having the uh, let's say, weak tie to personal needs and cleanliness that I have (which is not to say that I'm some Pigpen-esque woman--you just haven't met my fastidious husband and his perma bottle of Purel). And then we thought of driving somewhere else--a cabin we went to last year, a minor league baseball team several states away. We decided to leave it to the fates and decide spur of the moment on the day of our parental parole. But then, on Friday, we were tired, and it was oh-so easy to make the executive decision to have a kid-free staycation. Lots of books, booze and very un child friendly movies and TV shows. What a plan.

On Saturday was when I first felt it. The freedom of it all. Our house was messy--toys that had not been put away littered one side of the living room, laundry laid in a haphazard pile in the bathroom, dishes rose to frightening heights in the kitchen. This normally would cause me to, no shit, break out in hives. But for some reason, I was ok with it. I laid on the couch and watched an entire season of Californication and consumed all too many calories and was just generally ok. Matt remarked on my general demeanor. I was chill. I was calm. For the first time in literally as long as I can remember, I was not multitasking. I was sitting there, being. My neck was no longer tight. At night, I slept in a happy mass on the bed, not waking once, not moving. I slept until 10. And it is here that it should be noted that I have pretty wretched insomnia and often get up around 3, often with Journey's "Lights" playing over and over in my head (analyze that shit, ya'll).

On Sunday, Matt and I drove to a close by city to eat Thai food and look for Green Lantern stuff for Matt's upcoming-nerd-Christmas. On the way there, I remarked that I wish that I had something worthy of a nerd-Christmas--I have mentioned earlier on here that I have never really hooked into a pop-culture fad (no Twilight or Harry Potter or comic book movie--not because I am pretentious or mean, but just because it doesn't appeal to me). I lamented the fact that I feel old, that nothing gets me super excited, that no movies are really made with me in mind. That I am stuck in reality a bit too much. Matt normally rolls his eyes at these laments. But that day, he smiled and said, "Well, you haven't been very old this weekend. You've seemed a lot younger. I bet you don't even know how much fiber you've had today."

I smiled because it was true. I had had precious little fiber, except for that from a smattering of banana peppers, eaten greedily from the jar. And I did feel younger. Like a younger version of myself. Then I bristled a bit--had he meant that I'm normally an old, heinous bitch?

We got to the mall and did a cursory look around. Matt got bored and wanted to go to a comic book store a bit down the road. I said ok, even though I was really done with the mall myself. Faced with not much to do, I found myself ducking into the humongous Forever 21 store. Now, let me just say, I have said my share of negative things about F21. I felt their clothes were cheap, poorly constructed, and made much, much too small, especially when I was a size 14/16 gal. If anything, they pissed me off because they didn't have anything to fit my frame at that point in my life (they have since added plus sized offerings, I'm told). I hadn't really given them much of a chance. But lately, I've seen ladies finding some cute, serviceable maxi dresses there, dresses that would be perfect for days spent with my kiddos, bathing suit on underneath. I began my search for the cheap, elusive maxi dress.

I'll just tell you now that I didn't find it. I tried one on (this is the closest approximation I could find online) that I absolutely, bar-none adored, but alas, I'm about 6 inches too short to really rock the look. So that was a fail, a sad, weeping fail that I spent a good chunk of our dinner talking about. But I did find so, so much more. I ended up walking out with a flowy camisole, a floaty vest type thing (neither of which I readily found online, but really, that whole website is a clusterfuck and I'm not very patient), a fedora, some turquoise earrings, a necklace with a matroyshka on it, and a pair of espadrilles. Yeah, none of this is representative of a classic piece, something I'm going to come back to forever. Who gives? It is fun--full of summer and and fun and perfect for an easygoing time with the husband and kids. I have started wondering where F21 has been all my life.

And while I was in the dressing room with my 14 articles of clothing, just having a grand time, I listened a bit to all that was going on around me. My fellow dressing room denizens were teenage girls, not so much older than my daughter at home. They were excited, they were happy with the clothes, with a day out with friends, with their bodies and their place in life. Their mothers, however, seemed old, standing there in the harsh light, wearing oversized t-shirts and khaki shorts. And they were oh so tired. And negative. And I was saddened for them and for myself, knowing that in ways, I am much closer to that than I am to the girls giddily zipping up dresses and matching up outfits.

I won't say that I have changed because of this past weekend. My kids came home to a clean kitchen, and I would have gotten a nice start on the laundry, had our machine not decided to overflow and flood our entire laundry room. And then, well, I woke up with a start at 3:00 this morning, went to the couch and tossed and turned for an hour and a half before I finally threw in the towel and read, finally falling asleep at 5:30 and waking again at 6:00. I ate my old lady cereal, and for lunch, I enjoyed a low-fat chicken salad sandwich that I made, and really, there is no more old lady food than chicken salad. But, in ways, I feel a little farther from that old lady line, a little closer to the line where I sleep like a baby and where my neck is free from the knots and bumps that usually reside there. And I think I know better now about how important it is to stay far, far from that line with the downturned mouth, the grumpiness, the multi-tasking need to get it all done. And maybe I have Forever 21 to thank for it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Kingdom for an Effective Strapless Bra

I had a very, very full weekend, one that found me out a lot and wearing a strapless bra every day (and interestingly, an airy, floaty dress that probably looked wretched on me). It was then that I realized how much I freaking abhor strapless bras, even this one that I bought duo's of last summer and that I thought would still work this year. Yeah, it kinda works, but it is not comfortable to wear for, say, three days of activity. And when I got up this morning and got out my Liberty of London halter-y (it is not actually a halter, just has a high neck and no it is a? I don't know. It is cute though, I'll tell you that) and realized I just couldn't do it with a regular bra, even though I am covering up with a cardi in office, I gave myself a momentary pity party. One more day of boob squishing. One more day of hiking this thing up every little bit. I resigned myself to it though, because it is hot, and the LoL top was the only thing I could think of putting myself into to any success. Then, I'm putting the bra on, thinking that I will set the convertible strap to halter (or to stun!), and the whole thing just breaks in my hands. Thanks, Victoria's Secret. Awesome. My $50 bra that I bought at the end of last year, EXPRESSLY for the purpose of having a convertible bra at the ready for early summer awesomeness was now in incapable of becoming a halter or anything else convertible. And the strapless-ness is not too great either because the little hook that broke has a remaining piece of metal that is stuck in its holder and keeps stabbing me. I ended up securing it with fashion tape and ignoring the pain. Wanting to be bra-strap free will make you do things like that.

So here's my question for you guys: what kind of strapless do you recommend? I would like to order one online because really, who knows when I'll actually make it to a mall to purchase one and be able to give this the time and care that such a delicate situation calls for. Plus, my options for bras are severely limited by living in the middle of nowhere (thus the fact that this other one came from VS which I really, really do not like). Any ideas? I really want something that is durable because this bra is going to take a licking from me, even if I buy a couple. And let's remember that I have humongo knockers to contend with.

Thank you in advance!

Friday, June 3, 2011

When Something You Love Doesn't Love You Back

I actually wrote about this topic a long, long time ago (three whole years, which I guess wasn't that long ago, but since it was on the other side of the country, it feels like a different life) on my old blog, and well, I used the same exact title back then. This was not intentional. I'm just not that creative, despite what the years and years of Odyssey of the Mind competitions would have you think. You can go read that post if you want, but I'll summarize it for all you efficient little workerbees out there: Back then, when I was a size 14/16, I loved cardigans. But cardigans made me look like my dad in a pouffy wig. I was sad. But then I was like, "Well, screw it, I'm a gonna do what I want to do! And I'm going to be freaking happy about it because I live in CA and have access to delicious Thai noodles all the damn time!" And I made peace with looking like my father, ordered a few J. Crew Jackie's and called it a day.

Now that I'm a size 4/6/8/10 (depending on which blind paraplegic hobo is doing the sizing at my favorite stores this week), I can definitely rock a cardigan. And it is a good thing too, since when I cleaned out my closet on Memorial Day weekend, I had 16. And that is just for summer, ya'll, and disregarded the ones containing any wool and/or fall/winter coloring. So, as you can see, as my body has changed, I have embraced the cardigan much, much more. Probably a bit too much, truth be told.

But of course, with the old bod changing, so does the the list of things that I used to wear that now make me look horrible. So now, the thing that I love that doesn't love me back is the fluffy, airy, lovely summer dress/skirt. Allow me to give you some examples. Let's see. This makes me look like someone's hippie second grade teacher who has subsisted on a diet of Nestea, ramen and saltine crackers her entire life (and yes, I own it, took the tags off, and wore it on Tuesday). A cute maxi dress that I bought last week makes me look like a Greek goddess who is four months up the stick with a centaur. And a blue Calvin Klein dress that I bought and adore, yes, makes my boobs look AH-MAZ-ING, makes the rest of me look like I could give birth to a burrito at any moment. Oh, and then there is this:

I bought this dress last year when it was part of the Liberty of London installation at Target. I knew before I went to Target the first time to load up on LoL crap that I wanted this dress. I love the peacock-y print (it looks really awesome in person), and I like the style of it. And truth be told, I rocked it last year. However, I got it out of my closet this morning, put it on, and realized that a year makes a big difference in the way I am carrying my weight. Although I am roughly the same weight now that I was last summer (having managed to lose the 15 or so pounds that I put on around the holidays-grumble, grumble grump), I think I could take this dress up about 3 or 4 inches in the back. I mean, it still works since it is meant to be floaty, but I am really, really tempted to secure it with an office clip. And, let's just be honest, I already would have done that if I didn't have a cramp-y back already today and wouldn't be able to stand the extra issue of having my office chair poke the clip all day.

To make matters worse, I walked out of my room this morning and was playing with my kids. We were asking each other questions about the day, and just about every question got the answer of "YOUR MOM" or "YOUR MOM wants to go on the Bays Mountain field trip next week!" Yeah, it is important to have a level of maturity around your kids, you know? Anyway, I said something to Gabby and she goes, "Well, you look like a big peacock today!" And while I' sure she was just being funny, of course, I was like, "BIG?!?!! I LOOK BIG?!?!?! WTF, WORLD? HAND ME MY CELERY AND LAXATIVE SMOOTHIE!" (Just kidding--healthy weight loss, ya'll. THE MORE YOU KNOW!!!!)

The truth is, I have a very hourglass-y shape. You would think this would be amazing and I would be like Sofia Vergara. HA! Matt wishes! But the thing is, it is not awesome. Not in the least. If I am not wearing something a bit form fitting, I am on a one-way train to Frumpsville. I need structure, I need pencil skirts and sheath dresses, and lined trousers and creased denim and all of that. But here's the thing: you can't wear something form fitting all the time. Especially when you are Queen O'PMS and are retaining more water than the Titanic right about now. And ya'll, it is SUMMER. In Virginia. The last thing I want is to look sexy sexy, yet give myself a heatstroke.

And there's another dimension too: for some reason, Matt adores these things on me. Always has. I don't know why. When most men are turned on by really short stuff, Matt really prefers the look. He was all "WOWZA" this morning, and I thought, "Seriously?" Although when we were on our way to work this morning, he cranked up Elton John's Rocket Man and declared it his "jay-um" so, you know, consider the source.

So, I can't quit you oh airy skirts and dresses. I will be rocking them all summer, and really, I don't give a damn about what anyone says. Here's the other thing--these things are damn fun to wear. I mean, you can TWIRL in them. And when you can twirl in something, you automatically feel a bit better about yourself, despite what you may look like.

What do you love that doesn't love you back? Anything? Please share, and we'll all hold hands and sigh together.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lifetime Movieness: A Crime of Passion

Menstrual cycles are not something that I talk about a whole lot. Well, ok, none. Ladies at my work--well, that's a different story. They will tell you just about anything that you could ever even conceive of asking about their monthly friends, no matter how gross or strange or odd. And of course, I just stand in the corner of the office bathroom, like the kid at camp whose boobs haven't come in yet, and hope that they do not notice that I'm not contributing to the conversation at all.

However, I will tell you that every month or so, I become the biggest stereotypical girly girl that has ever been spawned. Not that I'm some big genderless blob the rest of the time (I think you know that since I spend a good deal of time being all OMG LIPGLOSS!), but during this short time period (usually 1-2 days), I'm a big oozing well of estrogen. Got a romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl you've been dying to see? LET'S GO. I will not make one snarky comment, and we can do an over/under on whether I will cry or not. Want to eat an entire Vermonster and talk about how fat we are? AWESOME. I've got my lucky spoon! Want to sit on the couch and watch an entire season of Grey's Anatomy/Sex and the City? SURE. Yeah, I've watched about two of each of those shows in my life, and yes, my eyes hurt from all the rolling, but on that day, I will do it, and once again, I'll probably cry. Or hulk smash something. But that's just the estrogen talking!

This happened to me last night. I found myself footloose and fancy free at 8:00, as Alice had passed out because she didn't take a nap earlier in the day, Sam and Matt were playing a rather animated game of Risk, and Gabby was in her room plotting sixth grade domination. And I'm sitting on the couch, thinking about how much I would enjoy a plate of brownies topped with a full pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and wearing a leopard print snuggie and a pair of cropped yoga pants from Old Navy. I'm getting ready to turn on the Cardinals/Giants game when I think, "You know, I would much rather watch this Lifetime movie on LMN called 'A Crime of Passion' starring none other than Tracey Gold." And so that's what I did.

Now, I may have seen bits and pieces of A Crime of Passion before, or it could be because A Crime of Passion is a big ole stereotype of a Lifetime movie in itself. Basically, here's the plot: Widowed doctor meets stripper with a heart of gold (heretofore known as SWAHOG). Widowed doctor's daughter, a failing pre-med student (Tracey Gold) does not approve. Widowed doctor marries SWAHOG in Vegas. Widowed doctor realizes strippers do not automatically turn into Lil' Suzy Housewife the moment someone puts a ring on their (dirty) fingers. Widowed doctor asks for a divorce. Widowed doctor is murdered whilst clutching his coin collection. Daughter (Tracey Gold) is suspected of his murder. BUT YOU KNOW IT WAS THE STRIPPER! My lord in heaven, ya'll! SHE WAS A STRIPPER! Being a stripper at any time in one's life means that your hobbies will always be having abortions, getting your nails done, and KILLING DOCTORS. No matter what element your heart is made of.

Now, the plot is pretty stupid, I'll give you that. But there are a couple of things that make this movie totally fucking awesome. First is this: let's imagine for a bit that you are a 50 year old man. A red-blooded American 50 year old man, not some foppish dandy who spends his time following Kate Middleton's sartorial choices and eating vegetables. You're laying in your big old four poster bed, reading at night. And your new bride, who worked a pole for 10 years, so you know, has some moves, comes out in the black meshy thing and starts gyrating on a bed pole. Something tells me you'd put down the book and enjoy the show for a bit and probably do some things that are illegal in the state of VA. You know? I mean, you're the guy that married the STRIPPER. Might as well reap the benefits of that choice. But not this guy. He sits there and has the AUDACITY to look exasperated. Like, "WTF, YO? You're the woman I married, not someone who I want to have sex with?!?! Now go put in a casserole, darn my socks and make yourself useful."

That's when I knew that when he died, I wouldn't be a bit sad.

And he does. SWAHOG is (rightfully) embarassed by the whole ignoring the sexy dance event, and runs back off to the strip club where she erases her sorrow by making out in the parking lot with her golf instructor. IT'S ALWAYS THE GOLF INSTRUCTOR, AMIRITE? And OF COURSE one of Mr. This-Book-of-Tax-Codes-is-Way-More-Interesting-Than-Blow-Jobs's country club crones just happens to be driving by at that moment (probably because he got lost on the way back from the Stereotypical Old White Man Emporium) and reports her, so SWAHOG is given the boot. Thus the whole shit tornado that eventually ends in murder is birthed.

And all he would have had to do to avoid this is to watch his sexy wife do a striptease. THE HORROR.

The other awesomely awesome thing about this movie is the fashion. Holy high waisted jeans, Batman!!! But more importantly, rather, the way fashion is used to show that whole Madonna/Whore dichotomy that we women, try as we might, can never fully extricate ourselves from. Tracey Gold is a 1st year med student in the movie, and her wardrobe consists of marled sweaters, sensible shoes, and these godawful highwaisted, wide leg, stonewashed jeans that I'm pretty sure were marketed only to fathers as the poor man's chastity belt. Holy lord. They were horrible. And Tracey is a perfectly lovely girl--there was no need for that. By the same token, SWAHOG is given a wardrobe, and I'm pretty sure the wardrobe person took one look at it and goes, "Well, she's a stripper, so let's uh...just cut about 2 inches off of every hem! For authenticity!!!" As she continues down her path of destruction, it just gets worse and worse. By the end of the movie, she's basically just wearing a corset with a lacy bra sticking out of the top in every scene. Going to the DMV? I used to be a stripper, ya'll!!! Funeral? BOOBS AHOY. Career day? Did you forget what I used to do for a living? Here's a nipple to remind you.

So on the scale of Lifetime movies, 1 being those horrible inspirational schlock fests they show at Christmas and always feature a sad-eyed child with dirt on its face, and 5 being The Two Mr. Kissels, this is a solid 3.5 or 4. Watch and be amazed the next time your estrogen is soaring.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I am very, very lucky to have a flexible job and one that respects its employees and their family demands. I'll say that first of all. With everything that I struggle to maintain (schooling, family, housecleaning, trying to make sure Alice isn't out roaming the neighborhood looking for dogs), I am truly blessed, and I recognize that and that a lot of women don't have that. They have to work, and sometimes for some not very understanding employers. So when I talk about struggling with being a SAHM, please know that I'm not sharing some smug, white lady problems.

Because of my understanding employer, and well, because it is summer and all of the courses we offer are now online (as opposed to hybrid, which is what we offer during the Fall/Spring semesters), I have been cleared to start working in office three days a week. Technically, that is what I'm supposed to do all year round, armed with my laptop. However, because of other demands on my time, as well as the fact that I can just get more done while sitting in an office, this does not often happen.

Last week was my first week with the new schedule. On Wednesday morning, I woke up early, got the kids dressed, put on a pair of shorts and a striped top and prepared. When Alice woke up, I fixed her a nice breakfast and then took her to the park. FAIL. Even though it was bright, sunny, and nearly painfully hot, I had forgotten about the hard rain we had had the night before. The park was surrounded by a lake. We walked around with Alice pointing at the "war-dee", rode the merry-go-round a couple of times and then I promised to take her to the lake in town to see the ducks. However, when we got there, we didn't see one damn duck (despite the fact that when I am there running, about 50 of them try to nip at me on a daily basis. I figure my legs look too much like white bread), only a big goose who was paddling in the middle of the lake. Yet again, FAIL. Alice and I walked about half a mile (and yes, I had forgotten her stroller in the other car) before she discovered the wooden walkway leading to the bathrooms and walked up and down it three times. We left when a recent parollee started yelling at his pregnant girlfriend over a lunch from Burger King at an adjacent picnic table.

I get home, fix Alice her pesto pasta lunch, strip her down and let her eat it herself, armed with a big, adult spoon cause I'm cool like that. And I'm watching her, and she's having a really fantastic time but I'm thinking that a real SAHM would have known the park would be flooded and the ducks gone. Because she would have been there all along, not venturing out for the first time in a good while, trying on the SAHM status like a cape. And that ole working mom guilt flooded me and I felt pretty icky for a solid half hour or so. My house is disorganized, there is a constant flood of unwashed dishes in the vicinity of our sink, my poor little tomato and banana pepper plants (the only garden I managed this year) are vastly in need of some love and some Miracle Gro. I put Alice down for her nap and moped on the couch with an old Law and Order: SVU rerun.

Yesterday, I had planned to to actually send Alice up to my MIL's despite having the day off. Matt had also taken the day off, and we were planning on reorganizing our garage. However, we had just started taking some outgrown kids stuff out there when Matt started puking. And, like clockwork, the phone rang, and the nurse summoned me to the school to pick up Gabby, who was suffering the same fate. I decided it was a sign for me to keep Al with me and SAHM it again. We stayed home with our "patients" and made a day of improptu dance parties, chicken soup preparation and cupcake icing. At the end of the day, Alice had had to have two baths, and was laying across her Dora couch, clutching a stuffed dog and looking dazed and happy.

And it was then that I knew. No matter where I have spent my time over the past little bit, no matter where noon each day finds me, Alice and I are linked. And we are happy together. Giddily so, in fact. We understand each other--each one of my children and I share a distinct and lovely understanding. Alice and I are two that play hard, almost to the point of exhaustion, and then throw ourselves in a heap and sleep that way. Seeing her there, laid out on her couch like three week's wash, I was happy with being a working mom, part-time, full-time or otherwise. I was happy with my decision and my family and all of it. And, as I'm sure any mom (working or SAH) can attest, having that moment guilt-free was pretty sublime.

Giveaways on Other People's Blogs: Mary Kay

I am blogging about this giveaway to get another entry into a contest. It is not my giveaway--I think we've established that I will never have my shit together enough to actually give you a reward for reading this crap. Sorry. Check your expectations at the door, my little croquembouches.

When I was a kid, my mom sold Mary Kay cosmetics. She kept them in this huge metal credenza in this extra office in her building, a place where she also kept a lot of old client files, a mini-fridge, and a really awesome old Commodore 64. I don't have to tell you that this was the most awesome room that has very been put together EVER. I spent a good deal of my childhood in that room with a pair of roller skates on my feet, retrieving files when asked, typing weird documents on the computer made up mostly of pixelated hearts, and trying on lipstick.

My favorite lipstick of the bunch was an incredibly bright fuschia. My mom only had a couple of tubes, mostly because she probably knew that no one, other than perhaps Baby Jane and daydreamy young girls, would buy that shit. It was so bright--I can't find anything comparable on Sephora now, and believe me, I've looked. I would pull it out of its box and stare at it and think about how wonderful it would be to wear it. At that point in my life, I knew a lot about what I would be like when I grew up: I would always hate chicken salad (note: not true), I would never wear earrings (again, not true) and that I would wear Mary Kay matte fuschia lipstick every day.

My mom made sure to send me a summer arts day camp every year, probably because she got sick of hearing those roller skates coming down the hall every day for 8 hours a day, three months of the year. We would go for six weeks during the summer, all leading up to a huge play production at the end. Every year, a new director would be brought in from some exotic place (Knoxville! Asheville! Roanoke!) and we would have a great time with the play. One year, we did a Broadway melody type thing, where each group performed a few songs from various musicals. My group did Bye Bye Birdie, Oklahoma, and South Pacific. Because there were so many kids and so many costumes, a few of them were left to the parents to come up with. I remember mom got me a pair of Hawaiian pink shorts and bright green top at Belk's for South Pacific--I thought it was an amazing outfit. Mostly because the shorts were the same color as the lipstick I adored.

So I asked mom if I could have the lipstick. For art! To match my shorts in my big number! She said ok. I took it with me to the performance, carefully placed amongst my other belongings. I put it on as we were getting ready, as South Pacific was our first number. And then, because I was afraid it wore off, I put it on again. And well, because it felt good, I put it on one more time before arriving on stage.

When the curtains opened, I stood in the middle of the stage in my new shorts and top. I started singing about washing some man right out of my hair. I thought I rocked it. However, now when I look back at the video my parents lovingly made with their 14 pound camcorder, you can't hear my lovely voice. All you can hear, all you can think is LIPS. BRIGHT LIPS. HONEY, GET ME SOME RAY BANS CAUSE THOSE LIPS ARE BRIGHT.

So, enter this contest. And get some lipstick. I'm sure Mary Kay no longer has as bright a lipstick as they did during the very early 90's, but you know, you can try.