Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shopping and Family Secrets

My mom came to visit the other day for approximately seven hours. I think it's a sign of good mental health that I used to spend weeks freaking out about a visit from her, but this time I only had a short amount of stress the morning of the event. A 9am Bloody Mary took care of it. She is, by the way, a lovely person, but I always feel judged in categories that I cannot compete in: cleanliness and godliness (mostly the first one). The woman, as I may have said before, makes Donna Reed look like a crack whore while I make Roseanne look like a domestic goddess.

She wanted to come and shop for the boys' Christmas presents with me. I could have just called her and given her a list, but in the back of my nefarious head, I knew that we could finish that task pretty quickly and move on to a free (for me) lunch and some boot shopping.

She was shocked that we have shopping in Fort Collins becuase I apparently never mention it. Uh, that's because I never shop save for the odd trip to the GoodWill or a one item trip to some place like Kohl's. It took about two seconds to buy the boys a Wii (Yeah, now I can get a WiFi modem and let them watch Netflix documentaries on the TV) which left plenty of time for my first trip to Panera and my first trip to a shoe store in over 2 years. There will be a beautiful pair of brown boots for me under the Christmas tree. Then, she wanted me to pick out something in the $50 range which ended up being a great new bedspread for $120 and a pair of yoga pants for $25, but that's close to $50.

Then, we found the boys who delighted in telling the woman that I smoke when I drink (jerks). Allegedly I deserve this becuase I spilled all of my mother's secrets when I was little. Then, they told her about Toby's 22 naked laps around the backyard in the 19 degree snow the other day. Luckily, they didn't tell her about his nude face front snow angel. And she told them about a little kid who was being taken away from his mother on negligence charges because he was found wandering around barefoot in the snow. Of course, I could see a few holes in that story, and a couple of questions revealed that the kid was a toddler who didn't know where he was. The boys assured her that they were not three and that they were in their backyard barefoot and completely aware of where they lived not lost miles away.

I've always been more impressed with their logic than annoyed by the fact that they argue (about everything), and I'm glad to see that they can break down her story as well.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Good Moods, Amazing Friends and notes to Old Almost Lovers

Once again, I cannot shake this good mood. All the happiness is starting to wear on me as it chips away at my snarky veneer, but what's a girl to do when she has such a fabulous life, amazing friends and amusing children.

One of my friends called me the other day to tell me that she was so wrapped up in the acid scene that I had written that she wondered away from the coffee bar and completely forget about the mocha she ordered. That's one of the sweeter things anyone has ever said to me, but probably, in reality, I need someone a little meaner and less mutually enamoured with me to read my stuff.

In the back of the journal I kept during that same acid trip, I found the name of a boy. Thanks to the power of the internet, I was able to send the following note to this chap after I searched for him on FaceBook: "Hi. I found your name scrolled in the back of a blue journal that I wrote after a four day acid trip and after not sleeping for seven days. I think we spooned on a ferry while you were on your way to Crete and I was leaving Greece. Hope you're having a lovely life."

And with that note, those friends, and these hilarious kids, this fat housewife is duly sated and amused.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Santa: To Lie or not to Lie

So I never told my kids that Santa was real. The first time that Santa visited them, it was actually Father Christmas as we were in England, they were three and one. They got an orange and a piece of chocolate shoved into their socks which were left by the fire, but by the next year, they had re-imagined Santa into hero status.

Over the years, I have never lied to them, but they have occasionally of their own wit decided to believe in him (just as they have believed in Batman and Jesus and Zeus). "If Santa's not real, who drives those flying reindeer." --Boy One when he was Age 5.

As a non-Christian, I can't tell them that Santa's real while also telling them that I don't think that the baby Jesus is a god. I certainly don't want to push the gross-Santa stuff over the great-Baby Jesus stuff. I love the nativity story. It's so sweet, and all of the Jesus metaphors resonate so well with the light traditions that have been carried on for thousands of years by people during this time of the year when the world is the darkest. Santa, on the other hand, mostly represents consumeristic crappy bullshit, and I'm not going to push that story.

I like talking about it the Santa myth though. The other day, we were talking about when flying reindeer where added to the myth (probably about 200 years ago when The Night Before Christmas was written and the author described the reindeer flying to the roof). Boy One added that Santa did not fly in the Christmas scene in the Little House in The Prairie books. "Christmas was a lot different then. First of all, Santa was real," he said, and then, he went on and said a lot of other adorable things.

However, it's pointless to lie. Kid's brains aren't like ours--they're more fluid and less locked in dualism like fake and real. They can completely believe and completely not believe. When the stockings are found on Christmas morning, they completely believe in him. (even though they really know that it was me that slipped in the thrift store book, the deck of playing cards, and the candy).

I'm not ruining childhood by not lying to them about Santa. I'm just recognizing childhood for what it's capable of which is a hell of a lot of magic.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

So now that I'm lucid (as lucid as one can be after a couple hours in their own head and a few glasses of wine), I realize that my reaction to the kid's distaste for conclusions was not really appropriate.

It doesn't bother me at all to edit out a lot of Twain's narrative exposition. It doesn't bother me to rewrite snatches of Peter Pan as I read it aloud, but their distaste for conclusions bugs the crap out of me.

Last night, Peter killed Hook, and the little jerks said, "Oh, the book is over." The book was not over at all so I yelled at them a bit and tried to plow through the ending. This is not a new problem: Crusoe gets rescued, eff the rest of it. You can make up your own examples, but as far as they're concerned, it's climax and shut the book (maybe it's a male thing). Anyway, when the shouting (mine) subsided, I just pouted and read the beautiful conclusion to myself. Then, I told them about it tonight while they ate a bedtime snack.

But it doesn't seem right to scream at them just because they don't dig endings so maybe I have to accept that shortcoming in their personalities and move on.

That's it. Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Four Shoes? Five Shoes? Other Big Decisions

Recently, the man got a bonus, and while I was looking up at him, I said through a mouthful of cock, "Oh, omniscient, great one, you earned that bonus, you spend it however you want." It was actually easy to do that because I don't pine for material possessions (usually).

About five years ago (I apologize if you've heard this before but it was a big moment for me), I noticed that I was fixating on a new futon cover. I realized that I could either spend forty dollars or I should stop thinking about it. At that moment, I didn't have forty bucks so I slung a red sheet on the futon and called it good, and literally from that moment, I have not allowed myself to pine for material possessions. ever. It's such a waste of mental energy. I wish I could stop my brain from perseverating on the million over non-important issues that it seems to fixate on, but that's just a wish at this point.

After I was done blowing him, I did let my mind wonder into the wanting side for a while, and I realized that I could spend a grand pretty quickly (new furniture, better wall pictures, new wardrobe, and a bedspread), but alas, I've shelved those ideas.

However, I do have to make one very important decision about shoes. Years ago, the Evangelical housewife told me that she only needed two pairs of shoes (flip flops and snow boots). I adjusted that to four (flip flops, snow boots, dress boots and chuck taylors), and I've been shoe-tastic ever since. However, about a six months ago, I bought some running shoes so that I could do the couch to 10k. I never even made it to the preposition in that proposition, but I did get some nifty shoes out of the deal. Sadly, I've just noticed that my Chucks have a hole in the sole, and this is the problem....   do I stick to my four shoe guns or yield to the need for Chucks?

It's an important issue that I'm going to ponder over a bottle of Pinot Noir. Two kids at a sleepover, one man at work, and one toddler going to bed soon (Yeah!!!)  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mice! (Freakin' Out!)

Oh my god. I just saw a mouse. I was taking the bag off my vacuum cleaner so that I could shake it out and reuse it, and the little fucker darted right past me. Shit! Shit! Shit!

Right, I know it's not a big deal. I deep cleaned eight or so days ago and didn't see any poop so I'm pretty sure he/she is a lone agent, and I've set 8 traps (which is a lot considering this place is less than 1000 sq feet). So, it will be okay.

But rodents symbolize failure to me. As my mother says, "Only dirty people have mice" Well, maybe she doesn't say that, but I'm pretty sure she thinks it. I think she actually said if you're clean, you'll find the poop before you see the rodent. Whatever.

We had mice over-running our last two places, and it was completely uncomfortable to live there, but I've learned something about mice since then. A) Mice can get through the smallest cracks, and those places were (unlike this place) full of cracks and crevices that invited mice in. B) We are a haven for mice in terms of food on the floor (I've just vacuumed, but it's still a haven if the little fucker wants to set up camp). C) Mice breed every six weeks so there is no time to fight about whose job it is to set the traps which is why I have set the traps and will reset the traps.

C--is the only thing that is relevant in this situation.

This was my Facebook status from a couple of years ago (just to illustrate how bad the mice actually were):

In theory, I love my children to the moon and back, but when that love is tested by my middle son shouting help me mommy as he hops around with a sticky trap stuck to his foot with two little squeaking mice also stuck to it, I love him just enough to turn and run in the other direction.

Now, I'm leaving....  hopefully this fucker know that we're armed now. If the traps don't get him, I'll have the man sit up with the gun.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


So you would think that I would be excited about the fact that we're going out twice tomorrow without the kids (once in the morning to a wedding reception and once in the evening to the chop house), and eventually, I'm sure that I will be excited (like after I'm gone and the alcohol is swirling in my blood).

However, at the moment I'm still a little West of stressed over it. First of all, I have to clean everything before the babysitter gets here....  I mean what will she think if I don't scrub all of my kitchen cabinets, scrub the place between the fridge and the counter, and clean out the bathroom drawer and buy new toothbrushes and paste. I would be mortified if anyone found out that until an hour ago our bathroom drawer was caked with toothpaste and had five empty tubes and four toothbrushes floating in it (yes, just four, becuase we all just brush our teeth with whichever brush we hope wasn't in the toilet). That would be mortifying if anyone found that out so I've got it looking all status-quo now.

Then, there's the issue of the babysitter herself. Normally, we don't have a babysitter more than once a year so I always have to find a new one. This year, we have had a babysitter more than once, but I've lost my phone in the meantime and can't figure out how to get a hold of that virgin Wisconsinite that I've mentioned in previous posts. Then, of course, there's the issue of it being a double shift. What if she hates the kids and refuses to come back. Usually, they're pretty good for babysitters, but there was that one time when Boy One was almost four and I left him against my better instincts to go to my BFF's wedding rehearsal dinner....  When we got home, the babysitter said, "He took a while to adjust and then he was fine". The neighbors said that he stood in the backyard for forty-five minutes screaming, "You're not my mother! Get the fuck out of my house!". I don't think that will happen again becuase he's not three, and the other two aren't giant freaks, but heck, anything could happen here.

Lastly, there's the issue of my wardrobe (yes, I know; it's a first world complaint, and people are starving all over the world---skinny bitches). However, it is starting to show that I spend less than eighty bucks a year on clothes and that my weight is up and down. It also doesn't help that any time I lose two pounds, I jubilantly give away my size tens, and yet I am clinging to two boxes of size fives (that are probably out of style anyway) in the basement.

But don't worry, I'll overcome. If I have to I'll bribe the babysitter with extra cash, and I'll drink until I look good before I go out.

Otherwise, I am in a very good mood. I was mentally very productive and happy while scrubbing my cabinets yesterday, and in fact, I've been in a great mood for over a day now!!!! That is all.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Good Day

I woke up this morning to four or five minutes of the most stunning sun rise. I watched it amazed, through a bit of a hangover acquired last night around the fire pit. I'm not sure if I need to remember much of that.

Today, my son revived my faith that the children will be okay. He had been counting the days on the calender for close to two weeks because today was the day that he was getting a game he had been wanting. At the check-out counter, his brother wanted some legos so he instantly put back one of  the card decks with his game so that his brother could get the legos.

We need those moments more often, but when they come, they are bliss.

And now it's been nineteen hours since that sunrise, just more than a day since we sat by the fire pit drinking wine and roasting marshmallows. It's all covered with snow. An eerie orange light fills the sky, and I've  opened the door several times to listen to the silence, silence only broken by the intermittent sound of cracking as limbs weighted with snow fall from their trees.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Petulant Whining

A) I'm surprised if I don't already have a post with this title. B) If you have anything to do, I would suggest just by-passing this and moving on with your life.

I'm just going to admit it. I liked the part of adulthood that was about beer and cocaine. I liked the part of it that was all about holding little babies. This part where I am compelled to scrub carpet stains even though two kids are at grandma's, one kid is sleeping, and one man is at work is tres yucko.

A few weeks ago, I was feeling overwhelmed trying to balance being a good mother (decent is probably a better word not sure that I ever hit the good mark), being a not-bitchy wife (ok, that never happens), keeping the house (reasonably) clean, working from home two to five hours a day, and cooking (constantly it feels like-- by the time I've finished washing the dinner dishes, the mouths are open again), and then when that's all done, I have my project that I'm working on and if I don't work on that at the end of the day (if I for instance read or watch a movie instead) I feel a horrible dose o' guilt. Mostly I was feeling overwhelmed by all of those things a couple weeks ago becuase the man was working a ton o' hours and extra days, and I'm the only one for the kids from the moment they open their little eyes to the moment they finally close them. Anyway, overwhelmed has come and gone, and now, I'm just feeling whiny.

And I think Virginia must have been around before carpet because otherwise she would have written, "A Room of One's Own and a Damn Tile Floor". So now, Imma gonna scrub my nasty carpet, think of whiny crap, and that's it, I don't want to overtax myself or anything.  

Friday, October 14, 2011

Note to Self

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is our latest bit of bedtime reading, and we all love it. I think my kids were meant to live in the 1800's. Tom does all the things that the boys love: warring, frolicking naked, catching bugs, playing pirates, meditating, smoking, and although they have never swung a dead rat from a string, I wish they would...  it seems like a sad bit of boyhood that no one's doing that any more. 

Okay, technically, they do not smoke. Even yesterday when I tried to diffuse a little kid anger by handing them all pretend peace pipes and inhale, exhale, let the anger smoke rise up to the ceiling and float away, they still refused to smoke. This parenting tactic, by the way, was a massive failure. Boy One was twitching on the floor apparently dead from smoke inhalation. Boy Two was still mad. Boy Three just pulled out his junk and suggested they have "wiener time" which seemed to calm them all down. But the fake pipe definitely soothed me, and I'm pretty sure that's the most important thing.

My mantra for the last week or so has been: "Minger, don't be an asshole" because in the inimitable words of Tom Hank's character in Apollo 13, "We're not doing this, gentlemen. We are *not* going to do this. We're not going to go bouncing off the walls for ten minutes, 'cause we're just going to end up back here with the same problems!" 

So that's it. I can be an asshole (to the kids) and ten minutes later, we'll all still be here, or I can not be an asshole, and ten minutes later, we'll still be here...  probably in a better head space to boot. So I guess, note to myself: walk away, grab your fake peace pipe, and re-approach the kids when you're ready to act like an adult non-asshole. These little mirrors (the kids) reflect all of my faults so I may as well try not to have so damn many.

P.S. Here is my favorite line from Tom Sawyer so far. The line refers to a boy that Tom is approaching and Tom is criticizing the boy's too fancy looks (keep in mind that my poor kid got pulled out of Karate to wash his feet which I hadn't noticed were black and it was Saturday and he probably hadn't worn shoes since Monday): 

He had shoes on --  and it was only Friday.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Like A Phoenix

A few years ago, we started making a chocolate cake when I realized we were out of flour. In my opinion, only a moron runs out of flour. I had to lock myself in the bathroom to escape the howling of my oh-so-emotionally wounded kids, but while I was in there, I had a glorious epiphany:  "fudge does not need flour." Then, like a phoenix from the ashes, this housewife arose triumphant from the bathroom.

I was reminded of that tonight when once again in the bathroom with my head under water to block their complaints, I again had a glorious revelation: "I have bread dough from yesterday in the fridge, I can slap some cinnamon in that bitch, and make cinnamon rolls. That will quell the hunger pains of my kids who apparently have hallow legs."

Two minutes after dinner (chicken flavored with five-spice, honey, soy sauce, spring onions from my garden and egg noodles which is exactly what the young d-bags ordered), one of them said, "What's for dinner? I'm starving?" Seriously? Seriously, little d-bags, where do you put it all?

Well, hopefully, they'll like the cinnamon rolls which would be caramel rolls if I hadn't run out of brown sugar. In my opinion, only a moron runs out of brown sugar. And when we're done eating, we can all go to bed fat  and happy.

PS. Here's the transcript of an old conversation:

Me: There was an old lady who lived in a shoe. She had so many children she didn't know what to do. So she fed them some broth and some bread, whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed.
Max: How many children did she have?
Me: Three.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Stripped Legs and Spotted Back, Don't be a Hater

I frequently pop into the grocery store between 10 pm and 1 in the morning, and I am enamored by the people who are there at that time. There's a good mixture of  overnight stock boys and stoners with the munchies, and inevitably, there is at least one family with a kid or several in tow. It is these people, the working poor who have no option but to shop for groceries late at night that always garner a friendly nod or a sympathetic look from me.

A few nights ago, I was ready to shoot an empathetic look at the family in the ice cream aisle, but when I turned to look I realized that it was my sworn enemies, the old neighbors who called social services on me and then spent a year bullying my kids before they finally moved away.

I stood in the ice cream aisle pretending like I didn't notice them or their cart full of six bags of cheap sugary cereal, but I really would have liked to say hi to that eleven year-old in the dirty shirt with the ridiculous pink braid attached to his hair. I wasn't so keen to say anything to his nine year-old sister with the constantly smug look and the glasses that never stay up. I could tell in the particular way that he was ignoring me that the eleven year-old would have liked to say hi to me too.

I left with my ice cream and a rather heavy heart, and I was reminded that I don't hate often because it's not an emotion that I'm comfortable with.

As I rode toward home, I spied a medium sized frog on the sidewalk. I would have taken him home cupped in my hand, but the boys were sleeping so I didn't. I just dismounted my bike, and watched my little striped leg and spotted back friend until he hopped away  to the safety of a bush in the landscaping of the bank.

And that's it. I hate to hate, but little frogs sure makes me feel better. I'll just say hi to that kid the next time I see him.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Princess-O'dilia and the End of My Crisis

It was the children, of course, who really introduced me to Kipling. Somehow, we ended up reading Rikki Tikki Tavi, a story that I have always hated. They absolutely loved it so we followed it with the Jungle Book and many of the Just So Stories. He's lovely, like eating chocolates as the Evangelical house wife said once. It's Kipling and Joan Didion right now. They are where my heart is:

…she resolved to reconstruct the details of occasions on which she recalled being happy. As she considered such occasions she was struck by their insignificance, their absence of application to the main events of her life. In retrospect she seemed to have been most happy in borrowed houses, and at lunch.--Democracy, Joan Didion. 

But I'm too busy to tell you about beautiful things now. I was just going to quickly tell you how my mid-life crisis ended.

It was Princess-O'dilia (no last name, multi-syllabic dashed and hyphenated first name) who first introduced me to this idea of giving birth to something, to an idea. I didn't have time to explore this metaphor with her because I was more interested in hearing about how she had left Christianity at forty to become a new-age spiritual birthing coach. People's conversions out of Christianity are terribly evocative to me.

But the metaphor itself helped me to realize what was going on. The whole thing actually started with a metaphor. I don't often feel in metaphor, but last Spring, I started to feel like I was harboring an un-danced song.

And I went through this whole emotional thing. At best, there were moments of euphoric mania. At worst, I was chasing away Sylvia Plath moments with vodka tonics. Look though my previous posts, if you can't see crazy written over a lot of them, you're blind. (Technically speaking, I haven't had a Sylvia Plath moment since the nineties, but I was very blue quite a lot of the time. It was much worse than that winter where The Man worked all the time, and I had no friends except that canister of hot chocolate powder that I used to keep in my closet. I would nip from it when the kids weren't looking and when I was down.)

And now that the birthing pains have passed, what's left? What did I give birth to? Part of it was that I had to realize that a shift away from the ideologies that I held most dear was not an admission of failure but rather a realization that sometimes we need to have paradigm shifts. (I know. That's a totally simple idea to be preceded by months of crazy, but I am a horribly ideological thinker. I cling to them. If I were religious, I would be banging a tambourine at best and being a suicide bomber at worst.)

And another thing that happened was that I started working on a project. It's an important project, . It'll be meaningful, hopefully, but the process will be meaningful for sure so that's fine.

I have nothing to lose, and in the meantime, I'm going to wrap myself in Joan Didion and see where it goes.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Importance of Donna Reed and Why Too Many Pillows Causes Global Warming

I've been spending an absolutely glorious afternoon vacuuming, and well, I have a few thoughts on the matter:

A) One of the reasons that I haven't vacuumed lately is because I have recently run out of vacuum bags. I am eagerly awaiting the UPS man to bring me some new ones. I normally vacuum ever day or every other day (this is certainly not a sign of how clean we are but rather a sign that we are so slovenly that I am forced to daily adress the visible debris that covers our floor).

In "Nickled and Dimed", Ehrenreich says that the threshold of house size where a family ceases to be able to maintenance their own home is 3,500 feet. Sorry, Babs, but my threshold is like 800 square feet or maybe 600.

Anyway, (and hopefully this doesn't come across as crass but it wouldn't be the first or last time), I just think that if my dad had realized he was going to kick his metaphorical bucket just two months after buying my vacuum, he would have probably bought me a Dyson. I'm sure right now he is kicking himself in heaven or purgatory. But, hindsight is 20 or 20 so there's nothing I could do but borrow the neighbor's vacuum which brings me to point number B.

B) I'm using my neighbor's vacuum. She has used many of my things. It's great. However, people tend to borrow less and less. In fact the other day, my son told me that if I borrowed the neighbor's "slip and slide" for his birthday he would die of embarrassment so I boycotted my Walmart boycott and spent my last twenty bucks on a piece of crap that will be in a landfill in less than a year.

A few months ago, I was watching Donna Reed to mentally prepare myself for a trip to my mother's. Season One Episode Two: what happens? First of all, Donna wears pants thus proving that Mary Tyler Moore was not the first housewife to wear pants on television. However, if it's possible, there's even a more important point than that, and that is this: Donna, who is by profession a doctor's wife, wants to take her son camping, and she does this with a tent from the neighbor.

Borrowing, it's essential. Here's how it works: one neighbor buys one well-made item, and the other neighbors borrow it. As a result, we don't all buy crappily-made items that have been manufactured in China. Thus, we save our manufacturing economy and we put Walmart out of business. It's a beautiful plan, seriously. We just all consume way too much. Which brings me to number C.

C) A few years ago, the Man said that too many throw pillows cause global warming. I, of course, got all huffy as I do when he says something ridiculous. But, I've realized that yes, over-consumption, in the form of pillows or anything else causes global warming.

It's a sick cycle, but my carpet looks good so I can't get too upset about such things.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Summer is Not Over

I just saw a naked toddler and a topless boy sprint past my window, and Boy Two is around the block with a gang of neighbors playing. A couple weeks ago, I was again silently bemoaning the loss of an outdoor culture, but as if in answer to my prayer, a ton of new neighborhood kids materialized for summer fun. The weather is warm (not so much today but yesterday it was), the bike trails are full of grasshopper carnage, and yet, I keep hearing people say, "I can't believe summer is over."

Umm, What? I have a calender. I get one every March or April when I decide that this year I will be organized and on top of stuff. My calender says its mid-summer. I think there's five weeks left, but if we're going to define our seasons by when school boards tell us to, then, I guess yes, summer is over. Fuck the solstice, fuck the equinox, Earth cycles have ceased to have meanings now that we have school boards.

(Duly noted that summers off are only relevant when kids had to work the fields, but then people should say, "wow, I can't believe school is starting in the middle of summer. Things have sure changed since I was kid," instead of "Summer's over.")

I have a point. I'm getting there. School starts on Monday, and we will be homeschooling. (yea!!)

Now, that the yea!!! is out of the way (and now that I have stopped clapping), I have to admit that we have made this decision without addressing a few key issues.

A) Money: we seem to have enough at the moment. (I doubled what I make so that helps, but I'm never sure how steady my earnings will be), but not having any benefits (vacation, health insurance, etc.) is a pain in the ass. And we haven't addressed the fact that I need to get a career so that eventually the man can retire from the stove.

B) There's really just A, but in regard to B, I'll wrap up my so-called midlife crisis in another post in case you're dying to hear how it all ended.  

I have a goal for this year, and that is to have a schedule. There seems to be a fine line between unschooling and sitting around all day with our cocks out watching TV and eating Cheetos. (Well, that would never happen becuase we canceled the cable and we don't eat fake cheese, but you get the point). I just need to draft a little schedule that keeps us busy enough but not too busy. I'm a firm believer that if the boys are busy playing all day then that's what they need to do, but if they're bored then we need to add a little more.

Boys One and Two are going to a one day school on Mondays, and I'm trying to find an affordable place for Boy Three to go that day too. Then, the older boys will have Karate Tues, Thurs, and Saturdays so that will suck up some time. The rest of the schedule looks like this 3 hours of free play followed by 20 minutes of reading practice. It should work. We'll see how it goes.

Boy One has just walked in and metaphorically slapped me in the face with a heap'o'whining so maybe it's all a mistake. Maybe I should just stick them on the school bus for what's been referred to as "thirteen years of feeling socially inadequate" all while learning very little. OR maybe, I'll feed him a sandwich and then see where we are.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

All About Me, Me, Me

Thirteen years ago, someone said about me, "You have a penchant for cruelty." It's stuck with me as one of the truer things that's ever been said about me.

We were in the break room at work. One of my co-workers had just gotten a haircut, and I said, "Hey, David Bowie called, and he wants his hair style back." At that point, I wouldn't even have been able to identify David Bowie in a line-up of two, but I thought the line sounded funny so I used it. The poor guy with the bad haircut stormed out of the room, and this woman whom I totally admired left me with that thought to ponder for the rest of my days.

One of my old lovers just sent me a story that she had written about me. "Don't let it inflate your MF ego," she said before she sent it. Her love, this undying love that she harbored for me when I, to put it bluntly, had no interest and had moved on could have inflated my MF ego (and maybe it has to a certain degree), but what I am more moved by is how well she captured my penchant for cruelty.

It's not something I mean to have, and it's something that people who don't know me well rarely ever recognize. They don't see it because I am so fucking, painfully nice to strangers and my friends. I love my friends, but to my lovers and my husband and sometimes my children, I am horrible.

You know how psychos abuse animals when they're children and you know how I am completely fucking indifferent to pets of all types. Well, I think that's linked.

I've gotten to know my aunt fairly well recently (the relationship has been predominantly online, but she's always been my favorite since I was little), and I am continually struck by how similar I am to her and to that side of the family in general. We spent much more time with my mom's family when I was growing up, but my entire make-up mirrors my dad's side. My sense of humor, my intelligence, my looks, it's all them.

She, my aunt, was told that she was fundamentally mean by her then soon-to-be ex-husband so she went to the mall and had it printed on a sweatshirt. FUNDAMENTALLY MEAN.

Maybe, it's that, maybe it's a genetic thing. (I think that sweatshirt is bloody hilarious by the way.)

But then, I never can take the blame for anything. Remember yesterday when I lost my son. Instead of thinking, "Hey, Minger, you're a giant d-bag who should have remembered to remind your son to wait at all major intersections and not get too far ahead", I just went off on a long-winded tangent about free-range kids and how much some of the neighbors suck.

The Man worked six days in a row, had one day off, and then returned to work. He filled his day off with a morning at work and an afternoon at the dentist for a tooth extraction, and I spent the whole day reminding myself to be nice to him. He said later that he can actually see my inner struggle to be nice on days like that, and it's a struggle that I often lose.

Tonight when my son was puking, instead of thinking, "Oh, poor sick, baby," while I held his head, I thought, "Jesus, we need to have a serious talk about mastication. Your chewing abilities suck. I hope you go back to sleep soon."

That's it. I'm just not that nice, and well, what does one do about it?  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

PANIC!!! (or how not panicking may save your child from death via keg stand)

And in our eighth encounter with the police in a year and a half, the policeman asked for my name and number because he wanted to include in his report that the man he had just ticketed had said "fuck" in front of my children. About forty minutes earlier, we had been passed by a cyclist who ran a red, said "fuck yeah", and then was given a ticket by this lovely cop in the undercover SUV. Unfortunately, if saying fuck in front of my kids is a crime, I'm probably due for some time in the clink.

During this conversation with the cop, an ordinary person may have taken the time to tell this officer that the reason I was going north and then south on the same road over this forty minute interval was because I had misplaced my eight year-old, but I really didn't want anyone to panic (anyone besides The Man who was sending me frantic text messages every two seconds).

About a year ago, I got separated from boy one at the grocery store. When I asked someone if they could page him, the reaction was absurd. "Code Adam. Code Adam." Flashing Lights. Security doors closing. I was like, umm, he's probably just browsing, could you just page him to the front please. Luckily, before they could fully implement their code, he sauntered up with a great sale price on a baked good or something.

Apparently, my feelings about not wanting the cops to freak out are shared by the kids because two hours later when I had finally found him, he told me that he had thought about going North on Remington to find us but hadn't because there were cops everywhere, and he didn't want anyone to freak out.

(For those interested in logistics...  We were on a four mile ride. At mile two, Boy One got ahead of us. Boy Two and I continued to ride up, and we turned North onto Remington hoping to see Boy One waiting on the side of the road. Boy One, however, had passed Remington, continued an extra block West, and was waiting for us at the Dairy Queen parking lot. After he got tired of waiting for us, he decided the safest thing to do was to head home. Once there, he went to the grocery store and spent a bunch of his birthday money on candy. He also gave some change to some little girls who were crying becuase their mom wouldn't let them ride the pony. Technically, he's not supposed to go to the grocery store without permission, but I know that once he starts to feel adult, he doesn't stop.)

The freaking out is the problem. (Okay, so maybe the fact that we all got too spread out on our bike ride is the real problem, but we'll deal with that at another time). People are way too freaked out about lost kids. I have been free range since well before Lenore Skenazy ever popped on the scene. Yes, of course, there's probably times when it would do us well to freak out about a lost kid, but for the most part, we probably need to calm down. (Out of all my parenting ideas, this is the one that has the least resonance with anyone I've ever meet.)

And we've been encountering problems about the free range business every step of the way. Many people have taken it upon themselves to tell my kids that they're going to get kidnapped (unlikely, and how about I stand in a parking lot and tell all the kids on their way into minivans that they're going to crash and die which is much more likely). People have told me that I shouldn't let my then three year-old (Boy One in St Paul) walk up and down in front of the house because people are driving around looking for white kids to put into child slavery (no, they're not). The list really goes on and on.

Lately, Boy One has been being teased by his idiot friend the preacher's kid because he's allowed to go to the grocery store and buy candy (I can see the store out my fucking kitchen window) and because he can go a block away and swim with another neighbor. Here's the taunt Boy One has to endure, "My mom actually cares about me and gives me rules. You don't have a good mother." Oh, wow, stick a knife in my heart. (Puh-lease)

I tell him his options are to notice that his friend is jealous, not tell his friend about his adventures, tease him back, or if he wants, I can give him a bunch of extra restrictions if my so-called lax rules are hindering his social life.

Their boundaries are the entire subdivision which is probably a half a mile square with the only caveat being that they cannot enter any houses where I have not meet the parents. Consequentially, I have met a lot of parents. I'd say I know more neighbors than people who have lived in this neighborhood for years, and it was the same in any neighborhood we've lived in. Beyond that, they can go up to three miles away with permission and my phone number. Boy Two has no interest in journeys like that, but Boy One has always been one for adventure.

Back to the freaking out problem. Boy One has an incredible sense of direction and a solid set of instincts regarding people. However, I worry that a simple request like, "Hey, sir, I just broke my leg on the bike path, would you please call my mother, " will have disastrous results like police and investigations and blah blah blah because if we don't totally undermine our kids' sense of independence, we must be bad parents.

That's what I worry about. When, they've gotten ahead of me on the path and arrived home twenty or thirty minutes before me, or when they've gotten separated from me at the library, I've never worry about that not-at-all-ubiquitous old man who's waiting to snatch them. I worry about the fact that other people won't be willing to help them without serious rebukes toward them or me because we're all supposed to micromanage the shit out of our kids.

So maybe the next time we see a kid who wants us to call their mother or a kid who needs directions to somewhere or a kid who is taking a walk on his own or a mother who wants to know if we've seen her kid, maybe we should just chill the eff out, offer help if necessary, and stop adding to the whole culture of PANIC!

Lastly, I'll admit that I have lost the kids a few times (but if you know me, you'll know that I'm the type of person who loses and looks for the glasses that are on her head and the keys that are in her pocket and everything else that isn't so close), but I would far rather have lost the kids a few times then face the alternative.

My neighbor has two ten year-olds who are not allowed to play outside unless under direct adult supervision. Today was the fifth time that I've ever seen them outside in a year and a half. I watched them ride lamely up and down the sidewalk under the gaze of their aunt. They aren't allowed to play with the other kids on the street, and honestly, I don't even know if they're capable of engaging in conversation or making any decisions.

As I watched them, I thought fuck-it (I know, a totally eloquent sentiment): It's important for the kids to be independent, and its important for them to engineer some of their own social relationships (even if I'm not a fan of the idiot preacher's kids). I'd rather spend a few hours looking for a lost kid once a year or so than have a bunch of incompetent lily-livered weirdos who have no sense of how to survive.

PS. I have no idea what lily-livered means, but I'm throwing it in.

PPS. It just seems that if you aren't allowed to venture around your block or hopefully further by age nine, it might be difficult to decide whether or not you want to do meth or have sex or do a keg stand, and those are all decisions that are coming up quickly for these kids.
So if we all calm down and let the occasional kid get lost and found without a heap of hoopla, we might be able to help our kids avoid real dangers like dying from alcohol poisoning after a keg stand because they've never had any practice making real decisions.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Exorcism in Aisle Five Please

Monday at six PM, I was in front of Chase bank struggling to keep ten pounds of potatoes contained in their broken bag that was sitting in the baby seat on the back of my bicycle. To the banker who was walking out, I gave my very best I'm not fat with gray hair smile and said, "Oh, I'm just practicing with this bag of potatoes in case I ever decide to have a real kid." He seemed to believe me.

Seriously, potatoes, flours, eggs... none of those home ec experiments will ever approximate children. I should have sold tickets to my house tonight. Anyone with a cock thirsty teenage daughter would have been privileged to get her a spot at my show tonight. Holy. Cow. Birth Control. Oh.. My. Gawsh. Can I get a late term abortion for my 3, 6, and 8 year-olds?

Seriously, their heads spun three sixty's independently of their bodies, and I was glad, glad that just cake ended up on the floor and that there were no broken windows. Exorcism in aisle five, please.

Let's just say that birthday party, sugar-over load does not go well for us.

But, they're asleep now, an hour earlier than usual, and I have lost the steam to write any more.

I was going to try to loop the sarcasm back to something meaningful like how even though I hate birthday parties, I love to see neighbor kids learn about food at our house. Today, we rolled out pizza dough and topped it. Other times, we've picked cherries, baked cookies, made stock...  They've all loved it every time.

The pizza got made and eaten, the homemade chocolate fudge cake with fudge frosting got made and eaten, and when they all left, I mainlined some vodka and fudge. Too much of both. Then, I kept my cool through demon children, and now, I'm spent.

Good night.  


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Birthdays... Bah Humbug.

Because I'm  a miserly old so and so, I totally hate birthday parties. I think I would convert from atheist to Jehovah's witness just to get out of birthdays I hate them so much. Maybe, I could just get the atheists to drop them from their belief system, but I don't have Richard Dawkin's phone number so it's not going to happen.

I'm feeling particularly annoyed about it today because I'm on the way to Target to buy the kid across the street a present with my hard earned money. Neighborhood update: The bullies moved away, harmony has been restored, and now, I have to buy a dang gift. Last year, I gave this kid homemade play-do and a note that said, "Thanks for having a birthday party during a fucking recession. Hope you enjoy your homemade gift, loser." Okay, obviously, I didn't include that note, and I threw $5 and a matchbox car into the gift so that my kids wouldn't be mortified. They were already beyond embarrassed that I made them wrap the gift in newsprint.

When I was a kid everybody wrapped their gifts in the funny pages. We need to return to old fashioned values like that. I'm sure it would have a positive environmental impact.

I think birthdays should be as low-key as possible. My main MO on parenting is to give them as little as possible because they'll never appreciate it, and they'll just ask for more. Besides, if they get everything when they're little, it'll just be blow and hookers by the time they're ten, and nobody wants that.

Last year, I managed to convince my son to have a family party two months after his birthday and with only two relatives. That was great. This year, however, he wants a party. Why we would throw a party to celebrate the 8 year anniversary of the last time I spent a night alone with my husband is beyond me, but I have unwittingly consented to the idea. I guess we'll have neighbors over, and we'll toss clothes pins into a glass milk jug. Kids love that, right?

I'm going to try to convince him to let me put this on the invitations: "Don't feel obligated to bring a gift, and if you would like to bring one, just bring an old toy that you're sick of because the chances are high that I'm going to break it or my mom's going to throw it in the garbage within a month anyway. Wrap it in a newspaper. Thanks." That'll never work because most of his friends' parents were born in the 80's so they don't read the news, and if they do, it comes in a totally non-wrapping-paper-blog-format.

Just to be mean, I've made the kids spend their birthday money on sausages and over-priced yogurt that I would never normally consent to. The only part that I like about birthdays is when we cuddle up, and I tell them about the day they were born. Boy Two's favorite boast for a few months last year was, "I shot out of mommy's vagina in one push." He was the winner in the pushing category.

Birth is cool, but birthday parties, bah humbug.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Midnight Snacks and More Important Things

I had poured my cooking cocktail, peeled my first onion and grabbed my knife when I got an invite from my friend-ish type person to dinner. (Instead of friend-ish type person, I'd like to say beautiful blonde with haunting vulnerabilities whom I completely love and she feeds me and nothing brings nearer to loving anyone than when they feed me, but instead I'll go with friend-ish type person because I really haven't known her that long). I abandoned that onion, and the boys and I headed to her place.

However, there is really no food in the fridge, and The Man is on the way home now. The Man has indicated that he is hungry so gaily, I have headed into the kitchen to make him some grub. It's two in the morning, two thirty actually. I've only made taco meat for super nachos so it's really nothing compared to the midnight ode to the pig tapas that he made me on Wednesday or the scallops, mussels and white wine sauce that he made me last Wednesday at midnight.

I love our life sometimes. I'm listening to every version of Friend of the Devil that I can find on youtube while I let meat simmer and wait for The Man. Not having a day job and being married to a chef lends itself to a schedule that feels kinda like being a rock star. A very very poor rock star with no instruments who never goes on tour....  but now my favorite waiter has arrived with my husband so I'll finish this post in a bit.

It's morning now, afternoon rather. Last night, we had a beer, listened to our music and Meetsauce, the waiter, regaled us with his tales. The guy is an incredible story teller, humorous, poignant, well delivered. I love his stories and admire his narrative technique a lot. I excused myself at about 4AM and fell asleep to the sounds of Meetsauce and The Man talking. Falling asleep to voices is always comforting.

Comforting. When so many things can feel discomfiting or annoying. However, the thing is when you really think about all of the petty questions that I let discomfit me or that any of us let trouble our minds, they're really actually very small issues. Should I put the kids in school or not. Is my house clean enough. Will a day job answering phones kill my soul. Are my kids going to break something running around the grocery store. How am I going to pay that traffic ticket that I got yesterday. These are all small things that we let encumber ourselves when we lose track of the big picture.

But back to midnight snacks. We took a cab home from the fourth of July party that we were at, put the kiddos to bed, and then headed to the backyard. The Man lit a fire in the pit and grilled up some steaks and blue cheese sauce for a truly excellent midnight snack.

But while we were munching and chatting about the guests that had been at the party. Maybe even while we were talking about one guest in particular and whether or not she was wearing mismatched socks. She was being destroyed. Raped. Assaulted. Her apartment set on fire. And then, later, while we were sleeping, she managed to stumble out of the smoke, jump out her window, get found and get taken to the hospital. And while I was running out of gas and worrying about what to cook for dinner guests or anything else that we do in an average week, she sat in a coma. And that's it. That's what we have to remember, that most of the shit that we let weigh lay ourselves is nothing. The sun rises, it sets, and that woman might never be okay again.

One minute, she and I are smoking an American Spirit together and the next minute, she's in a nightmare. The world is tragic sometimes.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

School? What the Heck to Do?

Usually when I write here, I've been kicking ideas around for a while, but I haven't been on this issue so if it sounds disorientated, you'll know why.

Urgh, school? I suppose that we have to decide whether or not our kids are going to school.

I have always been opposed to the idea, but thanks to the midlife crisis, I have realized two things: 1) I need some space. 2) I need a little financial autonomy. It seems like the reasonable way to get either of these things is to put the kids in school and get a job. However, doing that does not mitigate any of the issues that I have with school. (And it's not like anyone is just handing out jobs).

I think school is relatively pointless and the only interest I have in it is using it as free daycare. I don't think most people learn much there. I think it's socially damaging to a lot of people. I think it's a waste of time. I think it's oppressive to boys in particular. I think it would disrupt our family life.

This laundry list of complaints really does nothing to describe my real issues with the thing. I could talk for hours about the subject.  I've read a huge range of homeschooling books from the one by the crazy Christian who thinks that you should buy art books and black out the naughty bits to teach your kids about classic art to the free-wheeling unschooling tracts, but the one that I admired the most was Family Matters by David Gutterson. He doesn't take a side on the school at home versus the unschooling debate, and he explains that through human history, people have learned both on their own and been tutored on topics. Although he feels that education is important, one of his primary objectives in keeping his children at home is strengthening the family bond, and that is what actually seems the most important to me too.

I love how the boys play together and help each other out. Sure, they could do that if they went to school, but then it would have to just be school. If they, for instance, took school and soccer, they would be gone from early morning til seven at night two days a week. That leaves no time for dinner or helping each other out or whatever it is that boy 2 does when he gathers together a strobe light, a few burnt out bulbs, some rubber gloves, an old plank, and various hardware.

It seems like we've just warmed up to summer. Yesterday, we biked to the river, and they frolicked on the flooded banks. In the middle of our blueberry and fried chicken snack, we found the crown jewel of the day, a dead baby muskrat. That led to a decapitation on the dining room table and quite a bit of internet research. Today, we went swimming and hiking and swimming. Last year, we spent most of the summer in the natural areas. We would walk and bike miles and spend up to eight hours on a single day's Odyssey. When the neighborhood kids went to school was when summer seemed the ripest: The cicadas sang the loudest, the fireflies were dense, and the heat was oppressive. School starts in about four weeks, and I don't know if I can in good conscious send my kids to sit inside all day when the cicadas are making that much noise.

All I can do now is think about it. And I can also try very very hard not to corner my husband into a position. (I'm prone to doing that).

Ideally, I would get a night/evening job so that I would accomplish the two things noted above. It would have to pay well enough to hire a babysitter because The Man works at night too. If the stars aligned and that happened, they wouldn't have to go to school, and it would all be relatively perfect.        

Friday, July 8, 2011

All I Can Think of

The boys are in bed early. The man has gone out for the night so I am blissfully alone for what seems like the first time in ages. Music. Writing. It's a beautiful thing.

I closed a particular chapter of crazy in my life. It was hedonistic and amazing, and it made me feel like I was twenty-four which is what I had been craving, but I'm glad it's closed. I've felt more calm than usual lately.

But I'm thinking of the time that somebody said, "I want to go to the woods and build bird houses, but my wife isn't into that." And I said, "You've had fifty-three years to move to the woods. Don't blame your wife; You've only known her for two years." And then, of course, he killed himself.

That was sad. very sad.

Fifty-three. Sometimes that shit happens.

I named my third son's middle name after him.   

And I think it was really the shitty anti-depressants that killed him, but I can't help but think that my rancor over his dream to build bird houses didn't help.

Four years later, I still have the coat with the milk stains on it. The stains from the leaky jug of milk that I bought on the way home from his funeral. Maybe it's time to take that coat to the dry cleaner.

The stains of life get me sometimes. They're the reason that I hate washing my jeans.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I Stand Here Ironing

Okay, I am not actually ironing nor do I even own an iron (I believe the man has one secreted away in a closet for special occasions). I do, however, think the nod to Tillie Olsen is appropriate when one is writing about the oldest child. 

If referencing what I am currently doing, a more accurate title would be "I sit here drinking coffee watching my first born in his morning routine of basking in a sun beam and playing with his morning wood". 

And that is why I always lose home school debates because I come out with something totally brilliant like, "I think school is too demanding and kids need more time for pre-pubescent masturbation in early morning sun light." 

And now, he flips to his stomach to feel the sun on his back. 

My son. He's the one who still doesn't read and barely knew the alphabet a few months ago although he's nearly eight. He's the one who primarily made me want to home school.

I fully recognize that the part of him who wants to troll the wine section at the liquor store because "I just love how organized it all is" would love school and its straight lines and cubicles. But I also know that other part of him, the part that has never lets him embrace a regular sleep schedule (sleeping one night seven hours, one night fifteen hours) and the part of him that is over-stimulated and needs a lot of time to wind down would hate the craziness of it, would hate that he had to rush to get dressed, rush to the bus and never or rarely ever bask in the morning sun. 

Apparently, I have the task of deciding between those two sides and what's best for him. 

Almost eight years ago, feeling relatively unready, I birthed him. Big and unable to latch, he wailed. And he wailed.  I waited for someone to claim him, to show me what to do, to take over, but no one came. And at that moment, I realized I had the arduous task of caring for him in this world. 

And am I going to fuck up sometimes or more likely a lot of the time? Of course I am. I believe, and Tillie may have implied, that raising the first born is an inevitable fuck-up on the journey to raising the rest of the lot.  

Seriously, though, Minger, he doesn't read? Shouldn't you be a little concerned? 

Even if you home school him, Minger, surely, you must have thought that he should read by now? He's almost eight for gosh sake's and as your mother said, kids now days are reading at five.

Alright, here's where I am regarding reading: We love to read. I read all the time. The man (I almost upgraded him to my husband but I like the tone of the man better) reads. Knowledge is no stranger in this house. 

Even my illiterate first born claims to have read Harry Potter 1 through 7 and claims that he is currently reading Little House on the Prairie, but he has conflated listening to books  on CD with actually reading them. (Incidentally, he's receptive reading abilities are top notch.)

However, I would contend that most of the early reading advocates conflate decoding with reading, and I would further assert that all the lowered scores in reading comprehension that we are now seeing on even a post collegiate level are directly tied with the fact that early reading as decoding penetrates a good portion of a reader's reading lifetime.

So, no, I don't think early reading is important. Being read to? Yes, extremely important. Knowing that books are awesome sources of knowledge and entertainment? Yes, important. Learning the alphabet when you're three? Pointless (unless you're ready for it which some kids are).

This kid, however, certainly was not. We have tried to read with a phonics approach, and he doesn’t get it at all. I may as well try to teach Sarah Palin how to not mix a metaphor. It's painful. 

If he's not ready and it's too frustrating, I'm simply not going to force the issue. He sees the advantages of reading, and I'm sure that someday he'll want to. 

The last time we tried, he hated it. It went horribly, and I decided that the best thing to do was to just back off. I told him that I would wait until he wanted to learn. He petulantly said that it would be at least two years.

However, we've been talking about going to school, and he realizes that he should learn to read a bit if he's going to go. So, he's interested. We found a linguistic based approach that doesn't rely on phonics, and he really likes it. When he read his first sentence, he beamed at me and hugged me three times which is rare for him.

So, he'll learn to read. I'm not too worried about that. What I'm more worried about is that he's the first born. He's the one that says, "Mama, I'll take Holdy and watch over him. C'mon, Holdy." He's the one who feels confident and ready enough to ride three miles to his Pokemon league by himself with a bottle of water and my phone number in his pocket. He's the one who notices everything. Tangible things. Emotional Things. He's the most empathetic one, but he also seems to have the largest penchant for cruelty.  

But when he's naked and stretched into a yoga-like pose with his arms on my shoulders while he stands in the kitchen and earnestly tells me his plan for something, I wonder one thing. I don't wonder whether he'll learn to read because he will, and I don't wonder whether or not he has a penchant for cruelty or anything else. 

But I look at him, and I wonder if I spend enough time loving him. I wonder if he knows or if he gets pushed to the side because he's usually so capable, and I usually have something else to do. 

And I think I should spend more time doing that. Loving him.

And that, more realistically, is what Tillie implied, and I ask myself if anyone can ever do justice to this difficult endeavor of raising the first born. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Plan B

Okay, it's dawned on me that Plan A kinda sucked so I have a Plan B.

(My neighbor said that saying things like I'm going to be a new person tomorrow makes me bi-polar and that I need help, but we're going to ignore her for now.)

In Plan B, I am going to become a new person tomorrow.

I'm going to wake up every morning at 7AM. I'm going to take a ten mile bike ride. I'm going to come home and flip pancakes for the kids and wake everyone up with sunshine, unicorns, and rainbows.

I'm going to work for a bit on the computer while they play.

Then, I'm going to cook a nice hearty dinner of meat and potatoes, but I'm not going to eat it because I'm going to live on carrots and hummus and kale (It's part of the new me.)

Then, when fall comes, I'm going to send the kids to school where their intellectual curiosity will die and they will be diagnosed with ADHD or ADD or nature deprivation disorder or something. Labels don't really matter; what's important is that they get a Ritalin prescription.

Then, I'm going to steal their Ritalin everyday because I'll need it while I work full time and go to law school and never sleep and generally embrace a totally average hegemonic boring lifestyle.

And those are the broad strokes of Plan B. Two days ago I was considering becoming an alcoholic/novelist so this might even be better.

A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (and my secret plan)

So today was a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day but not to worry because I have a secret plan. Basically, I'm going to get a time machine and stage a massive life re-do. Don't look at me like that; this is way more realistic than the five years I spent wanting to be a Southern Black gospel singer.

I'm going to take my machine to 1996. Then, when my parents refuse to co-sign the loans for the tuition at Georgetown, I will not petulantly say, "eff, you and your money. I'll just go to the U of MN and pay for it myself." Instead, I will say, "That's a reasonable position; why don't I just go to a mid-cost school like Notre Dame or St Ben's. I hear they're pretty good."

But if I'm still petulant and stubborn (because I'm prone to be those things) and I still go to the U of MN, I'm not going to major in something pointless like Women's Studies, and I'm not going to rush through it in three years. Instead, I'm going to spend five years getting a finance degree.

But if that can't happen and if I'm still compelled to get edjumacated for the sake of knowledge, I'm at least going to wake up early on the morning of the 36th anniversary of JFK's assassination. That way I'll catch the number 19 bus. But if it's still icy and I still oversleep (because even with a time machine, I'm still just me, right?) and the 19 still slides by without stopping and I have to walk over to the 16, I am definitely not going to talk to that secret agent from the future.

But let's say that I do talk to him (just to ask about where to find a time machine), I am definitely not taking his $600 or his audio tapes from the angel that had appeared to him the night before.

But it's $600 so if I do take it, I'm going to invest it in an IRA. I am certainly not going to buy myself and my best friend two round trip tickets to London where I'll just end up wasting a year and a half backpacking around and falling in love and other bullcrap (I'm cutting down on the swearing for my favorite little person, but only for a second or so).

If I do go to London, I am not taking acid in a park in Brixton. That way I won't convince myself that I'm going to catch pregnancy from my knocked-up roommate. I was pregnant within the year and clearly that micro-dot is to blame so I'm just going to say no to micro-dots. Ya gotta think about this stuff.

If I can't say no to the micro-dot, I guess I'll have to catch pregnancy, but if I do, I am going to tell Dan that he's stupid when he recommends the Continuum Concept, and I'm going to laugh at Jennifer when she gives me the copy of Mothering magazine, and I am definitely never reading any stupid books by the Sears.

I'm going to stick the babies in little cages (cribs or whatever they're called) and take them to daycare and get a job so that we can avoid festering near the brink of financial ruin all the time.

But maybe none of those are the right things to do. Maybe, Judith Viorst was wrong when she said there's no bad days in Australia because I've been there, and I never had a bad day there. So, I'm going to take my machine back to Sydney circa early 2001, and I'm going to break up with the Canadian just like I had been thinking about doing. Then, I'm going to hang out on the beach until I meet an old rich guy. I'm going to marry him for money, and when he dies, I'll find Howie and marry him for love and share the windfall.

That's it, it's a perfect plan.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Man

Nine and a half years ago.
A bistro in Granada.

We'd just finished an argument where he'd told me, "If you were in another country you still wouldn't be far enough away from me," and then, he was interrupting the enjoyment of my ox tail stew while he scrambled around the table.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm looking for something to use as a ring," he said.

Then, he pulled a bit of tin foil (It's in my underwear drawer right now) off a wine bottle, fashioned it into a ring, and said, "Will you marry me?"

"When you get a real ring."

"No, I'm serious. Will You marry me?"

"Sure, when?" Keep in mind, that I had spent the whole week in Spain with my head tipped to the side, gazing at him and giggling like a fool. God, I was smitten.

"Next September. Then, I have time to change my mind if I need to."

"Yes, Yes, I will."

That was in October, six months after we had met, and we got married the next September. Possibly against my better judgement, I took the man forever, and I don't regret a single miserable or good minute of it.

To be honest I'm a terrible wife:
I hate to coddle people.
We have conversations that go like this: Him: Will you take out the trash. Me: (while bursting into tears) I went to college, why would you say that to me.
I've thrown and broken chairs, tables, phones, and other assorted things.
I have mood swings that don't correspond to reality.
The list goes on.

And he stays.

No one has ever made me laugh more. No one has ever made me cry til my eyes hurt or made me wish that my reality were not the one it is  more.

But I stay.

Why? Because at the center of all the drama, all the fights, we completely love each other.

And, God, do we fight. We once had a thirty minute screaming match about where the dog should sleep.
We don't have a dog. We're not planning on getting a dog, but we're damn passionate about where this dog is going to sleep, dammit.

More than once, I've wondered if it were a good idea to marry the other person who always wanted to be the last one to leave the party. Yeah, let's leave the club at eight in the morning and find the after club. Let's stay awake til ten in the morning then head to a pub. Let's....  who knows what we did that year we were dating. We were together for a year in London. Then, for the six months before the nuptials, he stayed in London, I went to St Paul, and we met at the alter.

I've said many times that I married him because he was the first person who made me want to wear sexy underwear, and if that's not a foundation for marital success, I don't know what is.

I got pregnant six weeks after wedding, and I'm not sure if being the last people to leave the party, any party is a skill that translates well to marriage and child rearing.

The year that he worked eighty hours a week and I stayed home with two kids under two and a couple day care kids, I said, "that was bad; if we made it through that, we'll stay together."

That year I had another baby, my dad died, we moved across the country, and he lost his job, I said,  "that was bad, if we made it through that, we'll stay together."

That next year when he still didn't have a job, I said, "that was bad, if we made it through that, we'll stay together."

And more than once, I've worried that we were staying together because we're both too stubborn to admit that we've made a mistake.

But I've thought about it a lot lately. Somebody advised me to write and process. So I wrote, I processed, and I found that many things led back to the man and how I felt about the man. And I feel like I like the man. Quite a lot, actually.

His partying skills mean that he can take any dull family evening with the five of us and turn it into a spectacular event. Music. Food. Dancing. He knows what to do to make us pull out the best most festive parts of ourselves.

I love a million and ten things about him.

I love how he apologizes by heading to the kitchen to make us both a snack. Who needs words? I've got a giant plate of food.

I love how after I've given the boys a hit on the shoulder and told them that they're okay after an injury, I find them cuddling up to him for real sympathy and first aid.

I love how when he's feeling confident, he can command a room full of people to listen to his tales and laugh at his wit.

I love how I can wave a little hand at him, sit back, and watch him win any political debate.

I love how when I hung up a piece of ripped sheet crookedly over the kitchen window, he said, completely un-ironically, "Oh, honey, how nice, we got new curtains."

And I love a lot how he gave me a little bit of quality cum that I was able to make into three of my favorite people.

He's not easy, I'm not easy, but I believe it's worth the fucking effort.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Not Too Bad: A Review of the YMCA of the Rockies and My Little Family Reunion

A few months ago my mother summoned me, my four siblings and our assorted clans to our "family reunion" at the YMCA of the Rockies which is a few miles outside of Estes Park. Obviously, when SusieQ summons, we yield, and who in their right mind would turn down a free vacation.

If you want to lay by the side of a pool while gay Puerto Ricans and girls in bikinis who have escaped the monotony of the Midwest serve you cocktails with umbrellas, you should not go to the YMCA of the Rockies. Apparently, it should have been clear from the title that we were vacationing at a summer camp, but I am not always the brightest bulb. However, if you are into wholesome family fun, beautiful scenery, and crappy food, the YMCA of the Rockies is perfect.

Luckily, the Festival of Enlightenment was happening there so all the fat people in turquoise jewelry gave me a visual reprieve from all the bible-toting Jesus-loving teenagers. It's sort of ridiculous how in a mess hall full of hundreds of people, I could instantly identify the bible thumpers from the enlightenment seekers. I mean what was it about the guy across from me at the buffet that I could just tell he was a super-energetic-let's-get-the-kids-praying-high-on-Jesus-jumping-up-and-down-type-of-guy-who-probably-likes-to-give-hugs-and-maybe-just-maybe-massages-teenage-girls-shoulders-with-a-little-too-much-familiarity-kind-of-guy. (Uh, Minger, it's one thing to identify a guy as a Christian group leader from the way he looks but maybe quite another to assume he is a border line molester of teenage girls.)

Anyway, as you may have picked up from some of my previous posts, my family isn't always my favorite group of people. They're clean and orderly and boring, and I'm dirty and unorganized and completely fabulous. However, in spite of their many faults, we had an excellent time. (Lest any of my relatives read this, I'm going to underline the fact that that last statement was slightly tongue in cheek.)

We had a meeting room rented which had a great patio for drinking a little beer and getting sunburns. Since there were eighteen of us, we were able to have a couple of really fun and funny games of softball and beach volleyball. I really hope my kids remember those forever because I have some really fond memories of playing kickball with my grandma, aunts, cousins, etc. When sporting contests are on the agenda, it works really well that Catholics are such prolific breeders. And, I even have to say that while we were sitting around the campfire under an almost full moon listening to my niece (who in my opinion is a stellar song writer) play her guitar and sing her tunes, I even got a little teary eyed at how much I love all those people.

One major highlight of the trip was that only one of my kids dropped an eff-bomb only one time. I think five days and one eff bomb is a new record for them.

And I am deeply impressed that my husband who makes his living designing and cooking dishes like
Fire Roasted Shrimp- fire roasted shrimp served with a yam 
   stuffed anaheim pepper and shrimp bisque sauce
Stuffed Steamed Trout- rainbow trout filled with bacon, 
   organic mushrooms & bleu cheese served with a cranberry 
   butter sauce
was willing to spend a week eating cafeteria food. Kudos to you, good sir. One night, however, he said he couldn't eat the food because it looked so gross he wouldn't even feed it to the dogs. I, on the other hand, had two heaping plates full of it (but I am a little trashy). It worked out for the best because on the way back from McDonalds, we saw the tiniest littlest mule deer suckling her mama mule deer, and I love love love suckling baby wildlife so I was happy that his high standards forced us into the gourmet and tasty arms of that world class chef Ronald McDonald.

All in all, it was a great time. The YMCA of the Rockies is big enough so that I did not feel like I was on top of the Bible thumpers. The setting is gorgeous unless you're one of those people who doesn't like snow capped mountains, blue skies, wild flowers, and herds of elk. There are a lot of free things for kids to do (swimming, mini golf, disc golf, hiking and even more that we didn't get to like a craft room), and we were all glad not to have a TV in our lodge room. I'd probably recommend it if somebody asked. My kids would certainly recommend it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Desultory Tidbits

There I was in the kitchen getting in touch with my inner-geezer-bird by pouring myself a white wine spritzer and thinking to myself, Minger, it's been awhile since you've blogged. Then, out of the blue, my phone started beeping. It was a Facebook wall post from my ol' aunt Judy reminding me of my blog. Whoosh (that's the sound it makes when Minger's head explodes).Well, Kitty, I'm back and I'm ever so sorry to have neglected you.

Desultory Tidbit One:

My first date (it wasn't officially a date since I still had the tattooed Canadian in my bed) with my husband was in a bathroom. I asked him to meet me after his work shift. Then, wearing my best see-through white tank top, I cleaned the thick layer of gooey grossness off the shower wall while he watched. I feel, perhaps, that was a bit misleading. Sexy clothing and cleaning, what was I thinking? More on the man later as I have had him on my mind and am preparing a blog post regarding my great love for him.

Desultory Tidbit Two:

My almost eight year old still cannot read. I am not at all concerned about this fact and am utterly confident that when he is ready to read it will happen relatively quickly. However, we are going to meet my immediate family for a little get together next weekend. Between my siblings and their spouses and children, we number nineteen and we're going to spend a "fun" filled five days in Estes Park where hopefully no one will bring up the fact that Johnny can't read. More on that topic later.

Desultory Tidbit Three:

Here is more proof that the gods hate atheists. Instead of letting old age creep in with a nice gray pub (short for pubic hair not public house) or something innocuous, God has smote me with arthritis in the middle finger of my left hand. No more on that later. That's all I have on that particular topic.

Desultory Tidbit Four:

I've been wrapped up in pursuing my Ayn Rand/Nathaniel Brenden moments and the damage control regarding the execution of such moments, and all that sinning has distracted me from blogging. Oops.

Monday, May 30, 2011


There's a few things that make me nervous that I avoid. 1) Having my picture taken 2) Going to concerts or being around live music at all 3)The sound that my bones make when my back is being adjusted.

I'm not one of those free and easy people that enjoys any of those things.

However, it's coming to my attention that I'm only going to live once.

Someone gave me some second hand advice from their mother the other day, and it was as follows:
"If something feels right, and you want to do it, and it's not hurting anyone else, you should do it. Chances are that you won't want to do it at a another time or that it won't feel right later."

I'm always saying (if I am saying but I don't really mention this to people very often at all so there's really not a lot of saying) that I avoid concerts due to a bad experience at the Lee Greenwood concert at the Brown County Fair in the 1980's. My dad was the only person who didn't stand up during the "I'm proud to be an American" number, and that was pretty embarrassing.

But I don't really think that is the root of the problem. I think I just like tracing certain feelings to certain moments so that it all lines up correctly in case someone needs to write a novel about it ever. (Sort of like how I purposefully got married on my ex-boyfriend's birthday because I thought it would be a good way to symbolically end one thing and move onto another, and it's a good thing my husband doesn't read this blog because that is the kind of weirdness that might make him wonder what the hell he was thinking by marrying me at all.)

I think it (live music) just makes me nervous. I'm too hesitant to drop the cerebral thing and just enjoy it. I've had too many people look at me askance when I've clapped out of rhythm or moved my hips out of rhythm or whatever, and my fatal flaw is that I like to be liked so anything, even the smallest look can freak me out.

But that's it. That's it for feeling nervous.

It doesn't really matter if anyone likes me or not or approves of my clapping rhythms or not (plenty of people do like me but you can chase external validation for centuries and you'll still be empty).

The point (I'm floundering for clarity, it seems) is that I could die tomorrow so in the meantime, I'm going to ask that guy to photograph me, I'm going to go hear music when I can, and well, I'm not too worried about number 3 so we'll leave it at the first two for now.

It is time to get out the metaphorical mirror and look at my metaphorical vagina.  

And now, with my new found commitment to mental freedom, it is time to face this day so farewell.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Hobos and The Window

‎"Mom, I'll be nice to them and be nice to them, but if they keep being mean, I'll lose my temper and have to battle them. I'll lose 'cause there's so many of them, but they'll be bloody at the end." ---how to deal with nine bullies, by my son, Boy One. 

Clearly, the bible verses that I told to the boys must have had an impact. Somewhere between love your neighbor and forgive your neighbor seventy times seven times, Boy One picked up that oft quoted phrase of Jesus's, "forgive 'um a couple times, and if that doesn't work, make 'um bleed." 

We'd been dealing with the bullies across the street for almost a year so one day, I sat the boys down and said, "let's beat these fuckers in their own paradigm, and since they're Christians, let's answer that age old question that people like to flaunt on plastic armbands...  WWJD?"

(This was about the time that I was rereading the gospels and had decided to save Jesus from the crap-tastic image that too many Christians give him, and I formed my club of one: "Atheists for Jesus.")

We met the neighbors shortly after moving in about a year ago. After a somewhat rocky first meeting that involved a much older kid stealing my sons' baseball, they became friends with the kids across the street. However, after a few months there was a fall-out. I can't really get into the details on the blog, but if you need to know email me and I'll extrapolate. I have this to say though: when social services came to my house, they said that my kids were mature for their age and that I was indeed a fit mother. Hell, I'll take a compliment where I can get one.       

After the fall out, they started calling us "the hobos" (because the kids don't wear shoes. Personally, I perfer our old neighbors who used to call the boys Tom and Huck for that same fact). I was like, "hobo that's a fucking compliment. Come, children, let's watch a few documentaries on hobos." The children, although they do not completely share my passion for transience, were smart enough to realize that hobo is not really an insult. 

The situation abated itself over the winter. Yes, there were the isolated incidents of the neighbors throwing rocks wrapped in snow or basketballs at my kids' heads as they rode past their houses. There was even the time when I walked by with the baby, and the cadre of assholes teased me. "Hobo, Hobo, Hobo," they yelled as I passed, and I didn't know what to do. I am so adorable that no one has ever teased me before. I didn't want to tell their parents because  in my opinion, these kids all get punished way too often, and I couldn't think of anything mature to say. ("Jesus isn't real, losers" was the only thing that popped to mind, and even I know that isn't appropriate to say to a bunch of kids) so I continued to walk past and ignored them.

Well, spring is here, the pelicans are in the neighboring pond, the young squirrels are frolicking, the garden is planted, and the douche-bag evangelical preacher kid neighbors have emerged from their video game addicted winter lives to torment my children. 

In defense of the neighbors, my kids react horribly to teasing. They swear, and they fight back which is why we turned (or tried to turn rather) to the advice of our kind friend Jesus.  

A few weeks ago, the neighbors teased. My son brandished an ax. And I was forced to confront the situation. My kids sat on our stoop. I assumed the drive way throne (lawn chair), and I held council with a group of nine bullies, seven of whom are older than both of my kids. I gave this admirably powerful speech which addressed the fact that yes, my kids have been complicit in these dramatics but the neighbors have by and large been the instigators. I allowed them to speak a bit but silenced their lies with a simple "shush" which seemed to scare the crap out of them. 

Then, I presented the crowd with an ultimatum, "These are your options: you can either get over it and play together." I paused hoping that they would all hug and sing a nice little campfire song, but that didn't seem to happen so I continued, "or you can go to your side of the street, we can stay on ours, and we can all ignore each other." They unanimously choose to ignore each other, and they left.

I felt so powerful in that lawn chair in the driveway that I truly thought that was it. I thought it was over, but alas, I was mistaken. 

On the first day of summer vacation, I had to yell at my kids to stop spraying the hose over the fence at the neighbors who were teasing them and throwing rocks at them. Apparently disconnecting the hose and going back inside was not the best idea because my kids filled up a bucket with water, left the fenced back yard, and threw water at the neighbors. The neighbors, then, threw the rock that broke the window. 

Hundreds of dollars worth of damage is pretty much my breaking point. 

Unfortunately, I only recognized one kid in the group of five that was in that particular fight so I can't really do anything about it. I am, however, thinking about writing a short letter to all the parents on the street to alert them of the situation and ask for their cooperation in stopping it. (But considering it was the parents who brought on the aforementioned fallout and the tax-money-wasting witch hunt that compelled social services to visit most of the houses on the street, I doubt if it will do any good.)

As far as I have noticed, I have been the only parent to ever step outside and call for an end to this crap. It's completely beyond my comprehension skills to fathom what these other parents are doing inside that they are oblivious to this noise because if I am certain of one thing it is this: the only thing that would get me out the door faster than my kids getting teased by older kids would be if my kids were teasing younger kids. If they did that, I would lose it.

I don't think that my kids are missing out by not playing with these kids (they're dumb and fat so it's really no loss at all), but they are missing out on the chance to walk outside, talk to the neighbors, race their bikes and play cops and robbers, and that makes me infinitely sad.