I'm Crafty! ( and I'm just your type)*

Thursday, March 30, 2006

So.You've had my husbands mojitos, you've looked in my bathroom cabinets. What could be left, you think?

My holy of holies. My shrine to pack rattiness. My inner most sanctum. The prime reason I will most likely be divorced by my husband. Yes. My side of the bedroom.
Cause if you really want to know me, my internet friends, my side of the bed offers a wholly encapsulated picture of WHO I AM!!!

Exhibit One:

Pillows. There are five pillows there. 2 Feather, 1 ultra loft and 2 comfy pillows. I also have hidden from view - a body pillow. I used to have 2 body pillows, but Emily left the other one in the hotel room in New York. I love pillows. I must be surrounded by comforting pillowy softness at all time. Please also note - these are not decorative pillows. These are working, drool absorbing pillows. Terrance HATES these pillows.

Exhibit Two: My side of the room

Yeah. I see you peering in vague consternation and disbelief. What IS all that shit? Why is there so much of it? IS that a tower of books? And again, why is there SO MUCH SHIT?

Well, Idle hands are the Devils work, friends. I like to be busy. I also like to be in bed, in my jammies, busy. I am also a teacher, at heart, so I always have some odd project going on that requires lots and lots of things. The thing on the polka dot box? My on going National Geographic picture project. I am compelled to save all the pictures from my National Geographics so that I can rubber cement them on cardstock, then cover them with contact paper, so that my daughters teachers can use them as real world photos in the classroom curriculum. I have almost never seen any of the laminated photos used by those teachers, but I feel better.
The stuff in the tall clear containers? My scrapbooking paper. The stickers, scissors, pens and other accessories are in smaller containers( 6 in total) in the chests. I last worked on Emily's scrapbook in 2003. Why do you ask? Are you suggesting I do something else with those containers? Do you realize that the creative urge may strike me at any minute necessitating the use of all of these materials? Are you rolling you eyes at me?

Exhibit Three: Right next to my bed

Ummmm. Yeah. More National Geographics. More contact paper. A whole bunch more national geographic photos in the swiped from my kid Tinkerbell bag. My trash can which has been with me since my freshman year in college. And that tower? That's my cross stitch materials. I have a project there on top that I have been working on - off and on - for about a year. Ok, so I bought the pattern before I was pregnant with Emily and yeah, it WAS intended for her nursery, but someday my grandkids will LOVE it damn it. It will be an Heirloom.

Exhibit Four: Books,Books,Books

Product Whore? Yes. Book Hussy? Absolutely. My first job was as a page in the Rutland Free Library. (I put the books back onto the shelves after the troglodyte hordes would mess them up) I can not recall the last time I left a bookstore without buying something. This is my mostly "still to be read" stack. Fiction, Non-fiction, Fantasy, Childrens, Historical Fiction...I am not picky. There are more in the chests. I hide them from Terrance.

Are you getting the idea that I am a bit....Obsessive about certain things? Well. If you have any doubt I now leave you with this image. You remember those stacked up containers near my garbage? You know how I said that I had my cross stitch materials in there? This is what they look like - opened up.

Yes. Every color of floss - neatly wrapped on their bobbin cards, with the number written on the side.

Dear Lord. Stop me before I craft again.

*Big ups to the Beastie Boys.

The Cult of Motherhood Redux

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Inspired by Izzy's excellent idea to occasionally re-hash some old fav's from our earlier blogging days, I give you the genesis of the "Cult of Motherhood" t-shirt. And BTW- I don't think the Cult is limited to motherhood. Women have lots of cults to dodge - the skinny cult, the boob cult etc, etc.

This is a letter I sent to a friend today:

I have also cried as my daughter - who is now on her own set of brain fixing drugs - refused to sleep, refused to remember her numbers, answered "Yellow", (but pronounced it "Lello") to every question she was asked between the ages of 18 months and 3 years of age, had a brain injury diagnosed that I surely must have caused because I put her in her crib too hard at some point in my exhaustion and craziness

Because it is all my fault. I am her mother and it is all my fault- just like everything was my mother's fault.

But, it isn't.

There is a cult of motherhood and it is a vast and powerful network. It has been around since the dawn of time. We are not meant to fight it, nor are we even meant to know it exists. We are simply supposed to take up the torch and perpetrate it on the next un-suspecting woman who stumbles our way into motherhood.

That is why mothers with six squaling infant on Discovery channel shows are supposed to look like the Madonna herself ( and I am talking the Jesus Madonna - not our cultural Madonna) - Or maybe they are supposed to look like both - alluring, fit, fashionable and all sacrificing wearing sack cloth and preparing organic meals.

While I am not talking about a vast right wing conspiracy here, I am talking about what women allow to be done to them, when we accept this fake version of what is really happening in our homes and in our lives.

You can't smile and be supportive EVERY time you are wiping up shit off your childs ass - or you've been puked on AGAIN, and you are so tired that you find yourself washing your face with shampoo. Sometimes - when your kid has decided that the only food item they will eat without a Massive tantrum is full on nitrate-ridden hotdogs - even though you have prepared their all organic meals up to that point when a family member introduced them to the wonder of hotdogs and now that is all they will eat and you think "I am the adult, I can tell her to eat the peas and I will stand here until she does so"

And after three days of your baby not eating, you crumble and boil her a hotdog and hand it to her.And now all she will eat is hotdogs and Kraft macaroni and cheese.

And when you cry to your real friends and your therapist, they ( all realistic mothers) say - "Honey - she's eating something right? Then it is no big deal"

When each of my friends approaches motherhood, I give them this gift. At some point before their baby is born, I sit with them and say "I am the mother that you can tell that you HATE being a mother, You hate this child and you hate your life." I will not judge you. I will agree that motherhood sucks and that you may well be going crazy. I will agree that the husband who planted this demon seed in you is an evil, evil person and this is clearly part of his plot to bring you down. And yes, his genetics are the reason your child acts this way. Then I will help you make a plan to get through this - because that's what real mom's do - they get through it- however they can."

The best gift we can give our friends and daughters is the truth. Motherhood is hard and we are human. I don't want my daughter to be thinking "How did my mother do this?" as she cries over her newborn. The best gift My own mother gave me was when I said to her "I just want to drive away from her - I can't stand it anymore" and she laughed and said "Honey - there are so many times I wanted to drive away from the three of you - so you tell a real friend and they agree and then you don't. You don't drive away forever - you may need to take an occasional break -but you come back. All mothers want to leave - they just don't talk about it."

That is the cult. The cult makes sure that most mothers don't talk about it - don't even acknowledge it is happening. Cult's isolate and make insiders feel superior - which is what the race to be the uber-mom is all about. I can bake, I can work full time, I can paint the house, I can give my husband sastisfying sexual relations, I never need sleep, I can sew ALL the costumes for the school play and read to my child every night so as to encourage their brain growth. I can grow and can my own organic vegetables and fruit. I can grow, slaughter and process my own organic beef, chicken and fish. Did I mention that I grow and pick and mill the cotton that my families clothing, towels and sheets are made of? I weave and dye the cloth between the hours of 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., so as not to wake anyone else. At 4 a.m., I take an hour to throw and fire the clay plates we will need so that at 5 a.m., I am setting the breakfast table and ironing the clothes I have just finished making. Then I cheerfully sing my family awake with the song that I have composed on the lute I have crafted from the willow by our house. And the forest animals and birds come to sit on my porch and rejoice in the beauty that is my voice as they all agree what an excellent mother I am.

"If you want Dawn to Flip her Boss off, Turn to page 14"

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Do you remember these? I loved these books - LOVED THEM! This Sunday, Terrance demanded that I place some clothing on my body that was not pajama based and exit the house - with he and our daughter. He was on "Operation Cheer Mommy Up", apparently. So we went to my favorite breakfast joint in Rye, then a little browsing through stores, ending with a "Why don't you walk around Barnes and Noble. I'll take Emily to the kids section."

WTF People, WTF? I must have looked like I was about to Sylvia Plath Bell Jar it right in front of him for him to OFFER to let me browse in Barnes and Noble, sans child. So I did. I do so love bookstores. One of the only pieces of advice, aside from "DON'T GET PREGNANT", that my mother launched in my direction was "You never waste money on books or music."

And then I saw them. The entire re-printed "Choose your Own Adventure" series. I gasped with joy. I whooped and called Emily over to share in the wonder and beauty that IS the "Choose your Own Adventure" books. I might as well called her over to admire a black and white television set. Not impressed. In the Least. Heathen.

If you want Dawn to completely change topics and write about an almost completely different subject....scroll down a bit....

OK - So thank you bunches for your lovely and kind words. I do appreciate them. I saw Sandy on Monday morning and rejoiced in her ability to cut through Life's Bullshit and say the truth. Which was:

1. Everytime I stuff my Inner voice, bad things happen. My Gut is ALWAYS right. When I deny or avoid the inner voice, I get sick and depressed.

2. It ain't me! Maybe all therapists say that - I don't know, but in describing my supervisor's behaviors, she jumped up and said "I want to read you something" - pulled out her DMS-IV and read me the clinical description of a Boderline Personality. Absolutely to a T. Perfect fit. Then Sandy said "You're exhausted because you've been trying to manage a Boderline Personality - and your range of coping skills has come to an end."

3. I now take a lovely cocktail of Wellbutrin and Prozac - We call it Well-Zac. And right now, the balance is returning. Apparently Prozac can have a dampening effect on your dopamine uptake, which Wellbutrin corrects. So my brain needs Seratonin AND dopamine. Delicious.

So, after an hour with Sandy - new meds, a renewed outlook on my situation - I came to a decision.

If you want to know what Dawn Decision may be..............scroll down a little bit more.....

So today I had a staff meeting. Every Tuesday, we sit in an immense room and waste about 2 hours. This morning I had something I wanted on the agenda. So I emailed it to my supervisor.

We get to my project on the agenda and her whole body language changes. She sits up straight. Her elbow comes on the table - she leans forward. She is preparing to battle - I am in her sights.

Me: "Blah, Blah send this out to providers in this are, Blah, Blah - accomplished to this point"
Her: "WEll - Did you call each of them and tell them it was coming?"
Me: "well, no, but I did talk to %^%^$%^ and told her about it"
Me: "I can. The reason I want to finish this project is because I intend my last day to be June 16th"
Me: "I am going to do my doctoral work"

Silence fell. She remained grinning painfully in my direction - a grimace which was trying hard to look unthreatening, but failing miserably. Didn't ask where I was going - Didn't ask what I was studying. She just glazed over into that face, like her skull was going to crack open and a demon would leap out. Now, I haven't been accepted officially. We are, however, moving to Montreal in July.

Later she wrote a bizzare email that said "Congratulations. Please have your written resignation on my desk by the end of today so we can plan for a smooth transition in June."

Ah yes, Balance is restored. My inner voice is happy.

Breaking My Circle

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Tomorrow, I have an hour with my therapist. At 7:30 a.m. For I like to start my morning with a good, cathartic cry.

I have been skimming the edge of another depression. I am not sure if it is hormonal - I am soon to be 36 and all - or Seasonal (Shine sun, damn you!), or just bio-chemical in nature. It is, however, messing with me. I have been foggy and unfocused. Wavering in and out of participating in my life. I cried this morning when Terrance tried to get me to explain what the matter was. I can't explain it. I'm just hovering.

Depression, for me, is a state of being. I have said often that I come from a long line of folks with some serious mental health issues. I suspect that my biological father is a still undiagnosed bi-polar and my mother has her own struggles with depression. Like two parents who wear glasses, odds are the apple isn't falling far from the tree.

There was an intriguing study that came out last week. Studies are showing that the children of depressed Mom's who do not seek treatment are vastly more likely to have mental health issues themselves. To them I say, No shit. Another dissertation I could have ACED! Oh well.

But how do we coax out these mothers? How do we - other parents- coax out the recognition of being depressed, so that treatment can be sought? How do we de-stigmatize the state of depression so that it becomes acceptable to seek treatment?

Depression doesn't scare me the way it did the first time. I was once terrified of being back in that place ever again. You know that well in the movie "Ringu"?(and here I am being an art house snob, cause I L-o-v-e Japanese horror in it's un Americanized versions) My depression was that Well. I about fell off the bed when I saw that movie, cause there is was - in image form. My Well, my depression.

After a couple of managed episodes, I don't fear the depression the way I first did. It feels awful, but I now know what I didn't know after the first one - I will get better. I am also better at seeing my signs - Constant Headaches, cravings for Sugar, and realizing that this is what my body does when trying to flag me over to the side of the road. I no longer need the additional irritable bowel, shingles and pneumonia to get me to pull over.

After the first episode, I talked non-stop to my friends about how much BETTER I felt - Because I did. In fact, I had forgotten what not being depressed felt like. It was a revelation! I don't do that as much now. What I do now, however, is to bring the word up when people are showing signs. Gently. When you are in the midst of a depression, you often don't see it, because the stress of just getting up has become tantamount. You have no room for emotional metacognition. When another person names what you are feeling, there is a space there that allows the word to resonate.

We now know that the children of depressed mothers are vastly more likely to have mental health issues later in life. Knowing this, how could we Not talk about it?


And Now .... Here is the back of my new shirt. With Kristen's post about "Mommy Bloggers", I find it apt that I made this one yesterday.

Sugaring Saturday

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Having grown up in New England, I forget that the sight of the sugaring buckets are unusual for some people. For me, when I see them emerge at this time of year, they confirm that winter has indeed come to an end. Winter may not be completely done - but it's close....

There are hundreds of these buckets around my house. People ask neighbors if they can tap their trees in exchange for a share of the syrup. My daughter has never had anything But real maple syrup and I am oddly grateful that she can still see the vestiges of an older time.

This is a VERY old tree. With five buckets on one side and five more on the other, this tree must be a couple hundred years old.

A close up of a bucket - I prefer the old style metal buckets, but you see more and more tappers using plastic containers. They don't blow off and spill the sap like these kind.

I lifted the top so you can see the sap in the bucket. Today is a great sugaring day - the sap was really flowing out - drip, drip, dripping into the bucket. See the tap at the top of the bucket?

These are the reasons that I so love New England. This old mixture of old and new living side by side stirs something in my soul. And the smell of a sugar house when they sugar off? Lucious.

I just may bottle this and sell it

Friday, March 24, 2006

On Wednesday night, I was laying in my bed reading. Terrance was on the computer. Emily ran in, danced naked in front of us, and then ran back into her room.

Me: Her body is changing again. She’s starting to get tall.

Terrance: Yeah, I noticed that at swimming tonight. Her legs are getting really long.

Me: Mmmmmmm ( the international mommy murmur of agreement)

Terrance: She is really beautiful Dawn – and I am not just saying that cause she is my kid – like she is going to be Scary Beautiful.

Me: Yeah, I know. But the best thing? She has my personality and sense of humor…

Terrance: So that should drive at least 2/3rds of the boys away.

Me: Exactly. See – if you had gone for the demure type it would have been much, much worse. Beautiful and Demure? Lethal. Beautiful and Goofy with a touch of smartass thrown in? Like a natural boy repellant. I am the DEET of the male/female relationship world.

Terrance: That's quite a power you've got there.

When will Spring get here???

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Ode to my Arm Fat

I brush my hair, You wave at me
From my bathroom mirror morning ritual
Mousse eyeliner, arm fat

Doesn’t my cleavage look great
In this strapless dress?
Arm fat smiles, dimpled in the sun

I expected my ass to fall
My boobs to droop, my belly stretch marked
But you, arm fat, were quite unexpected.

Mission accomplished
Arm Fat,


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Last night, I dreamed that my mouth was full of shit. Yes, literal shit. The last song I heard on my way to work this morning was “Jive Talking.”

It doesn’t take Freud to see that I need to address some “issues” before they knock me over.

At “Jive Talking”, I began to laugh. Hard. I mean, when the cosmos sends you two connectable messages within hours of one another - like giant blinking neon signs – all you can do is laugh. Or cry. And I am not in a place to cry as of this moment.

I have not been happy at work. I have been dealing with some very difficult people. I suppose I should not label them as universally difficult, but I find them extremely hard to cope with day in and day out. This has left me exhausted and angry at the end of every day. Seeing as I have walked this path before (and it led me to Crazy Town – Capital C and Capital T), I would prefer not to walk it again.

I believe that the answer will come if you listen for it. That has been my life experience. I can not force things to happen. When I have tried, they go woefully wrong. One of my hardest lessons is patience…and trust. Of course, those are easy things to write down. I must be patient. I must be trusting. Practicing these traits can be near unto impossible for me.

On Saturday I read an intriguing article in Yoga Journal. Entitled “Take Heart. Difficult People are your Best Teachers”, it caught my eye for the very timeliness of the message. A message I had been avoiding at all costs. I snuggled into the couch and read. I read what I know. The people who irritate me most tend to be exhibiting a trait(s) that I dislike in myself. I dislike what I identify with. I reject the whole of my experience to focus on the traits I like – and ignore or despise those I dislike. This is not living in balance.

In order to live in balance, I need to find a way to invite these people into my heart – Open my heart to their experience, as the Dalai Lama would say. The article offered a meditation on this for practice. The writer talked about her experience with this meditation and the effects that it had on her relationship with her difficult people. This made sense to my logical head. I needed, desperately, to find a way to regain the balance in my work life.

What I hadn’t bargained for was the stubbornness of my heart.

In the active imagination meditation, you image yourself climbing down a ladder into your heart. You imagine yourself interacting with the person you find difficult and looking for ways to welcome that person into this sacred space. Because you are choosing to let this person into your heart, you can see them – hopefully- without the negative energy that you are accustomed to viewing them through.

I can not lie to you. When I climbed down my ladder on Saturday– there was nothing. Not a table, not a chair. Nothing. A big empty space. The person I imagined looked a little lost and disconcerted standing in the cavernous space. I had a very difficult time focusing on her face and finding words to say. Finally, I imagined myself saying “I want to try to get to know you “ and then running back up the ladder, having forced my attention to this space for as long as it could bear.

On Sunday, the meditation went much the same. Nothing in the space. I tried to bring in tables, or flowers or even light, but nothing. Walk down the ladder – shout out “I want to get to know you” and then run back up the ladder.

On Monday morning, I woke a little early and began the meditation again. I got down the ladder. There as a table this time. Two chairs, but nothing else. I sat. I focused on the persons face and said, “I want to get to know you” and imagined myself smiling. A real smile. An authentic smile. Then ran back up the ladder.

I was determined to be conscious of my energy when I walked by this persons desk. She greeted me with a hearty “Good morning, Dawn!” – and then complimented my handwriting on some document. Normally, I would ignore this person and get to my desk as quickly as possible. Instead, I choked out a “Thank you,” then got to my desk. Holy shit. The author was right. The energy HAD changed.

I got mad. I didn’t WANT to do this work. It was too hard. I don’t want to be open to others. Screw her and her incompetence, screw Buddha, and screw my mental health. I flip you off world. Both middle fingers raised in Salute!

Last night, I dreamed that I had a mouth full of my own shit. This morning, I went back down the ladder into my heart. I’ve got some sprucing up to do.

Cross Culture

Monday, March 20, 2006

Last night, about 10:12 p.m. I am reading. Terrance walks into the bedroom and sighs.

Terrance: (Tone full of despair) That’s My kid. Listening to the Folk Show on NPR.
Me: (Laughing) No, honey – That’s MY Kid – listening to the folk show!
Terrance: How can any self-respecting black father allow his daughter to listen to the folk show?
Me: Aw, Honey, just think of it this way, she’s already bi-lingual.
Terrance: We have got to get her around some more black people.


PS. He let me sleep until 10 a.m. yesterday. I love that man.

Chianti is evil, especially when offerred in a caraffe

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Woo-wee folks. Someone has had 4 glasses of chianti and is feeling GOOD! Someone took down a days worth of entries cause she was filled with self loathing. Someone had dinner with her oldest and bestest friend and drank alot before 8 pm on a Saturday night, then demanded that her husband buy her a whoopie pie so that she could sugar up.
Someone tearfully told her husband that he was the greatest husband in the whole wide world and that even though he hated that she wrote about his balls and trimming her lady bush with his trimmers, that he was ok with her doing it, cause he knew it was important to her.

Someone spoke the entire lyrics of "It takes two" with above mentioned bestest friend, cause all classy ladies of a certain age know ALL the lyrics of this hip hop anthem, while toasting with the caraffe of Chianti. With our 7 year old daughter and 9 month old son watching. Cause we roll that way Be-yatches.

Someone needs to have ONE more glass and then get with her husband to buy herself some recovery time in the AM.....

Demonic Chianti , I rebuke thee. BTW. I am also your bitch.

Don't drink and blog.

Did I mention you should buy my shirts? Just for the hell of it?

Echoes of Re-Discovery

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Note: I put this up this morning and then took it down. Oddly, this post makes me feel oddly exposed and vulnerable. On consideration, I am putting it back up. I like the wounds to get some air. *************

Have you ever had an old lover walk in and sit down next to you? Completely unexpected, completely unbidden?

This morning, I was driving along to work and a song came on the radio. It was Rob Base and DJ Easy E and their ultimate party hit, "It takes two to make a thing go right”. I was emotionally transported backwards to the late 80’s and early 90’s when I remember dancing to this song in frat houses around the University of Vermont, and in clubs in Rutland. I remember laughing hysterically one night when I saw Rob Clough sing the words to this song, words that I assumed that “Wobbie the Wonder Bwoy”, as we called him in high school, would never ever know. We were fairly drunk, sophomores in college and he was having a party at his house. There was a bonfire.

That was when a former lover walked into my car and sat down next to me. He was Wobbie’s best friend, since, forever. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I knew one without the other. They were my buddies. They were safe.

Christopher Bryan Keune was one of the guys. My boyfriend, John, lived with Rob and his family for a while, and then got his own apartment. The tribal herd moved from one place to the other. The rules within this group of males were clear. The declared girlfriends were off limits. It wasn’t that the sexual morality of this group of friends was fussy- it wasn’t. There were some members who moved through the group from partner to partner, and it was hardly a big deal. Not for the Girlfriends, though. We were claimed. We were marked as exclusive. We were not to be touched – even under the most drunken or accidental of circumstances.

I won’t lie. I relished the pedestal. I had a certain status and untouchability in this group. I was never excluded. I was allowed to explore my own budding sexuality with impunity with one partner for the five years we stayed together.

When John broke up with me in the winter of 1990, I dissolved. My identity as the “girlfriend” was one of my primary roles. I didn’t know how to be single and I certainly didn’t know how to re-build a social life without John. I couldn’t be in the group as anything but the Girlfriend. My pedestal became a precipice.

Chris Keune was one of the first to reach across the chasm. As winter turned to summer and I returned home from college, stripped of my former role, I was wildly uncertain as to what to do. I had no sense of the signals someone sent when they found me attractive. I had lived in a group in which I was allowed no other signals, beyond that of friendship. My antennae for “wink, wink–nudge, nudge” was woefully blunt.

His first attempts were tentative. He and John were still friends and the tattoo of ownership was five years deep. Dating me was a risk. Group dynamics would have to be re-arranged and managed with care and skill.

It wasn’t a pretty dating situation. He made me very angry - frequently. He was, in many was a very sad and distrustful young man. His mother had left his father for another man when he was old enough to know all about it. Fundamentally, he didn’t trust women. He had great potential but wasn’t living up to it (This was a recurrent theme in my partner choices before Terrance – Thanks Therapy!). He was incredibly intelligent and witty and smelled fabulous, all the time. It didn’t end well. There were some very unfortunate things that happened between us that I, frankly, regret.

He was the first man to tell me I was beautiful after that debilitating breakup. He was the first man to tell me that I had always been beautiful and that he had always loved me a little, but couldn’t express it for fear of John. He helped build a bridge to the pedestal and held my hand as I walked down the steps.

For that I am profoundly grateful. When I went back to college in the fall of 1990, I returned a young woman who was surer of her emotions, and ready to launch into the college-dating scene with vigor. We planned to be “friends with benefits” the next summer, but I met Terrance in June. I am not sure what ever happened to Chris after that. I hope he is well. I hope he learned to trust a woman, even if it wasn’t me. I hope he is happy.

When his memory sat down in my car this morning, I was transported to a different time. A different me. Laughing and dancing in a field with a bonfire. Re-discovering that I was beautiful.

My Private Idaho

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

In times of great stress, I find that my brain does a very curious thing.

It should not surprise any of you that I have a rather odd, and twisted sense of humor. I find myself thinking things that , while wildly funny to me, leave others with a bit of a concerned expression on their faces.

For example:

Emily- age 8 months. Fighting me as I wrestled her into her snowsuit. It is very cold out. It is New England. The child MUST wear a snowsuit. She thrashes, I counter move, she ends up in said snowsuit.

Other adult in room says – “Aw look at her, lying there so helpless in her big puffy snowsuit – kind of makes her look like a baby seal”
Me: “(sigh) Yeah, kind of makes you want to club her.”

Are you laughing? I thought it was very, very funny. Other adult? Not so much.

And it isn’t just with my child – it is with everything. But here is where it gets even worse. I throw in obscure literary and cultural references, which crack me up …even… more. So there I am cackling and gasping for air over my own hilarious references. I called my daughter “Evil Roman Empress Crankius Maximus” for the first year of her life. I would place a headband – backwards on her head so it looked like a laurel and speak to her father – as if she WAS the evil Roman Empress. High-Larious!

So when I am under work stress, I find that this constant dialogue of offbeat cultural references keeps me internally amused. That, and this game. I play “What is the most inappropriate thing I could/say or do right now.” This game can range from the highest of high brow references, to the lowest of low bodily humor.

Sitting in a meeting for too long, what is the most inappropriate thing you could do? Let out a ripper of a fart? Pick your nose and flick it at the person across the table? Lean forward and smile and say, “You are so woefully full of shit, I am surprised you don’t smell. Oh wait, you do.”

Take it to the next level. What could you do then? Stand on the table and do your rendition of “Ain’t nothing gonna breaka my stride”, while pointing at your co-worker. How about this one: “ I was unaware that I just entered the 4th circle of purgatory – the one with incompetent ass-hats.” (Note: Dante references always throw a crowd.) Oh, and Monty Python. And 19th century authors – particularly those of the American Romantic period. And knowing who those authors are. You throw in the love of fantasy and my complete knowledge of the works of Tolkien and it is amazing I attracted a mate. See. It’s bad in here, real bad.

So, give it a try. And Share. I need some humor today.

They can't all be highbrow essays around here, folks...

Monday, March 13, 2006

Runaway Goat Bride Speaks

Plato de Chapin, Guatemala – The goat, recently catapulted to fame after her marriage to an amorous farmer, has taken to hoof and fled the country.

“The first few days it was all “I love you Honey” and “You’ve got the sweetest goat eyes””, said the goat who identified herself as “Aiya”. “But a few days later it was “All you ever do is eat garbage- you’re going to get fat. Then he threw a tin can towards me and suggested I get some “fiber.”

But the last straw, it seems, came a few weeks after their shotgun wedding. “I was walking out of the kitchen and he says, “Jesus, something smells like wet goat” and wrinkles up his nose, making that fanning motion.” Aiya grow moist eyed as she pauses. “I mean, he said he’d love me forever, and there he is mocking my ethnic heritage. If we have kids, they’ll be half goat too! I knew I had to leave!”

Aiya booked a flight to Guatemala under an assumed name. “I was hoping that he might come looking, but he never did,” says the grief stricken goat. Upon arriving in the country, Aiya quickly found work in one of the many goat brothels, which line the streets of Plato de Chapin. “I figure, I’d already given it away for free back home, I might as well get paid for entertaining randy farmers here. They all look the same, really.”

Upon inquiring if she had any regrets, Aiya stopped chewing her cud and paused thoughtfully. “No, not really. But here is a tip for future goat brides – Insist he use lube, ladies.”

**Props to Marshatm for the inspiration....

The Gift of Fear

Friday, March 10, 2006

Fear is a powerful thing. I’ve been reading V’s struggle for the last several days and it got me to thinking. What is this fear? Where does it come from? What purpose does it serve?

When you observe babies, you’ll note that up to a certain developmental age, they have no fear. About the age of 7/8 months when enough of their neurons and synapses have connected in their brains, their depth perception kicks in and they realize that all adults are not the bringers of food, they will begin to show signs of fear at new or unexpected things. Even then, the range of reactions from child to child can be wildly different. Some children will startle and then assimilate the new information, and return to what they were doing. For others, the fear can become paralyzing, causing the child to scrabble up the adult’s legs shrieking in terror. Some fears are learned, and others are purely instinctual.

For the child and adult, a decision is reached in this moment. How will the adult model to the child how to cope with fear? Will the child respond? Will the modeled behavior make the fear worse? In my experience, the way adults model the coping response is based primarily on their own parents’ model. This is blended with the adults’ own mental health and awareness of their own feelings and emotions.

Children reach stages where their fears loom large over their lives. If you have a child such as mine, complex rituals will be developed to avoid certain items or places. {Don’t even try to get a child who is terrified of moving toys into Rainforest CafĂ©.} As these children mature, their sense of self equalizes and they develop their own coping skills for fears. Their rationalization skills kick up a notch and you can talk them through many of the fears. That is about age six for most kids.

So why? Why do we have these fears that linger in the backs of our consciousness? Why do some of these fears ramp up when we become parents?

Protecting our children is a chemical reaction in the brain. A purely instinctual response as our brains flood with hormones. We are hard wired to respond this way. It is how we have survived through the ages.

The harder thing, the learned response, is the balance between our physical response and our consciousness of danger.

Going back to children I have watched throughout my career, I noticed a distinct pattern. Children need to experience pain and disappointment in order to grow as humans. Children who never tumble, never fall, can’t learn their bodies responses to these signals. They never learn to listen to their bodies, so they either ignore them completely or misread their cues. That kid who jumped off the top of the slide and was surprised when he broke his arm? That’s one of those kids. The kid who hopped into the car of the predator? That was one of those kids too.

In one sense, parents have facilitated this disconnect with reactions and emotions. Children are constantly told they can’t do something because it isn’t “safe”. I call those types of teachers the “Safety Nazi’s”. Children – ESPECIALLY BOYS! – will challenge these types to the ground, cause they want to test their bodies in a variety of ways. Children are experiential creatures. If it hasn’t happened to them, through their senses, then it doesn’t exist. The continual hue of “You’ll hurt yourself” is deadened when I sneak behind your back and I Don’t hurt myself. Now you’re just a crazy adult talking out of your ass.

As a teacher, I would offer my opinion in a manner that expressed my concerns, but still let them decide. I mean, obviously if they were juggling chainsaws, I would have put a stop to it, but the non-lethal stuff? I let them experience it. When they would cry and come to me after for hugs and compassion, I would offer it but add “I was concerned that you might get hurt if you chose to continue playing this game”. This way, I transmitted that I had seen it coming, but still trusted them to at least try to make the decision, and was right there for support and clean up after the fact.

When young children aren’t given the space to experiment with their judgment, they never develop the “ear” for it later.

When young children are told to ignore their instincts, they deaden to them and stop listening for the signs our bodies give us to tell us we are in danger.

When young children are told to smile and be nice to strangers who scare them, they learn that even if they don’t trust this person they have to be nice to them.

When young children are told to stop crying, it doesn’t hurt, they learn that their emotions and feelings aren’t valued and to stuff them so they don’t bother other people.
(Big shout out to the beginning of most eating disorders right there!)

We can’t protect our children from everything. Besides, they already know if mommy and daddy fight, or if you are worried about money, or if Gramma is dying. They tell the preschool teachers everything, believe me.

All we can do is to help them develop their inner voice. The one that we listen to when you don’t get in that car with your drunk friends, or don’t go into that dorm room alone with that frat brother, or pass up the heroin, or to get the hell out of the abusive relationship.

The most we can hope is that our fingerprints, our whispered reminders of good decisions, our unconditional acceptance of them after they have made poor choices will ring louder than the desire to fit in or be popular.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Inspired by Fancypants’ (possessive used correctly) showing of her bathroom, I decided to give a virtual tour of the Inner Sanctum. Well, that isn’t true. Right now, I got Nothing, so you can all pretend that you have been invited to my house, and had far too much sangria or a really bad lemon drop martini*, or a worse caramel apple martini* and now you need to use the bathroom. Let me save you the trouble of opening the medicine cabinet, peeking behind the shower or under the sink. We’re all about transparency in my home.

First, the view from the Throne. My never-ending battle with the ends of the heating element are a lost cause. I put them on, they fall off. And rust. No one has died from lockjaw yet, but we remain hopeful.

Next, an example of my husbands fine carpentry skills. Terrance has some very admirable qualities. The man can write a federal grant like nobody’s business, and his knowledge of the cigar industry is a miracle to behold. However, I am indeed fortunate to have chosen him AFTER the industrial revolution, as we would clearly be the family in the home made of what ever was lying around. He has no mechanical or crafty skills. Note the caulking technique, with the carefully matched palette:

What’s behind that curtain, you ask – AH HA! Someone in this house is a product whore! Someone in this house likes to use a different shampoo every day. Someone in this house likes lots of shower gels. Yep. It’s me. Note how Terrance has attempted to Paint over the mold that grows on this sill. It shall not be overcome.

Ah yes, the back of the toilet. My favorite? The Fingertip Rope Caulk. More bath products. Band-Aids for imaginary boo-boo’s. The infamous “pick up your hair from the sink” lint remover, all in a basket that was part of the table pieces from my wedding…ten years ago. And my Husbands Neti Pot. Look it up. I can’t bear to talk about it.

My corner of the sink. I likey the products – Did I mention?. The formerly virgin hair clipper before I rudely defiled its purity by using it on my delicate bits.

Dear God! What is that? It is Under the sink. Jesus Christ! Are those additional shampoos shower gels and hair products? Yeah, Yeah – Suck it – I know. I am also a trifle obsessed with running out of feminine products during that time o’ the month, so I tend to Overbuy – hence the 2 packages of Always napkins. I will also be ready if we have any major head wounds, as you can use a sanitary napkin as a handy compress. See also Terrance’s box of Black male hair products…..Featuring Knotty Boy Dread Wax. If any of you whitey’s out there want to dread your hair – this stuff will do the trick. It has inter-racial endorsement in our home.

The piece de resistance: The medicine cabinet. Yes, there are two bottles of Advil in the cabinet. And one in my purse. What if we got snowed in and I needed Advil? Or was stuffy? Terrance is pretty sure that we will be busted as a meth lab soon, due the amount of Sudafed and Sudafed based products I buy and consume. All praise the AstroGlide! Thank you Gay men everywhere for bringing this product to the market! Hurrah for Burt’s Bees! And Pro-Activ… and the CO Bigelow mouthwash that could hill the avian flu if taken straight.

Finally, as you sit upon the throne, you glance to your right. Is that a Jack-O Lantern sticker you see? Yes. I could blame Emily, but no. I put that there before she was born. I like to see who notices. And finally, a piece of advice from Terrance…Don’t try to burn a candle in a heat conducting container on your bathroom counter.

So, do you still want to come over after I have revealed the inner sanctum? Do you dare?

*Shoutout to De-De for drinking my henious concoctions

What is Easy and What is Right

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

“The time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy”
~ Albus Dumbledore

I have been grappling with some moral issues as of late. This is not a new path for me, as I historically have chosen the least tread path in life. However, like all moral dilemmas, the issues tangle and weave themselves around all the other decisions you have made in the whole of your life, creating ever increasingly complex nuances and variations.

It is now time to tell a story that I have not fully told until now. Friends have heard bits and pieces, mostly as it was happening, but I have resisted writing down the whole of my experience. I think that it has taken me the past two years to fully process what I saw versus what I knew and my place in the drama that unfolded.

Righteousness is a concept that has always held a great deal of appeal to me. I don’t like bullies, and I have a fundamental faith that what goes around truly does come around. More than not liking bullies, I tended to be the person who DID something about the bully. My 8th grade basketball career was cut tragically short by this tendency. Apparently, the coach did not enjoy my pointing out her bullying techniques to the Administration, and teammates, and Superintendent.

In 11th grade, I was called into the principal’s office to discuss a “letter to the editor” that I had written to our local paper, criticizing the decision to place armed police in our rural Vermont school. A few months later, I was called in to discuss my statement to Elizabeth Dole who was speaking to our school assembly during one of her husbands’ runs for office. I simply pointed out that almost no one in the audience was old enough to vote, why was she here speaking to us?
I can’t imagine that they were sad to see me trot off to college.

In 2004, I received a jury duty letter. I was to appear at the appointed date and time and possibly be selected for jury duty. I had never been called before and was actually a little excited at the prospect of participating in the judicial system. Chances were slim, though, as I was one of a pool of about 500 people.

I arrived and sat down in the courtroom. I glanced around at my potential fellow jurors. We had some very special individuals in the crowd. The judge stood up and announced that this was a little different from other times we may have been called for jury duty. This was a first-degree murder trial. We were to each be individually interviewed by both the defendant and prosecutor. I signed up for the first round of interviews, as I needed to get back to work and didn’t want to have to take another day off.

I can only imagine what I looked like to both sides. I was nervous. I was excited. There were a number of odd questions. What TV shows did I watch? What types of books did I read? Where did I go to school? What did I do in my job? These questions morphed into more direct questions. Would I be upset by photos of a graphic and bloody nature? Would testimony regarding drug use be offensive to me?

Finally, would I be able to stand up to 11 other jurors in the event I felt that the defendant was either guilt or innocent? I didn’t hesitate. Yes, of course. The defense asked me to look at the defendant and repeat these words “I will do everything in my power to insure that you have a fair trail”. I did so. I smiled at the accused murderer as I repeated these words. “Thank you”, he mouthed to me.

The case itself was fairly mundane. Cocaine deal to Seller. Cocaine deal goes bad. Dealer wants his money. He is connected with some very bad dudes, who also want their money. Buyer doesn’t want to pay the dealer back, so buyer comes up with a scheme to kill the dealer and keep the coke. However, buyer doesn’t do the work himself, he sends his nephew out to take care of it. Nephew is in his early 20’s and doesn’t speak Spanish, so he brings an old neighborhood friend (whose mother is housing the Dealer) to convince Dealer that it is all on the up and up. In fact, the car being driven is registered to the neighborhood friend’s mom.

Nephew and friends drive with dealer to my state to pick up money that Nephew’s uncle owes – about $5,000. Nephew decides to tell the dealer to turn down a little dead end road close to an Aunt’s house. Dealer has no idea where he is. He has never been in this state before.

Dealer pulls over and begins to get out of car. He is shot twice. Once in the head, once in the throat. He dies. Nephew and Friend run the 10 minutes to Aunt’s house where they find someone to drive them back to their homes – across state borders.

Nephew is caught first and gives the Friend up as the shooter. Nephew is on parole and would go to jail forever. He cuts deal to give testimony about Friend.

The case itself is sad. These are 20 to 25 year olds. The Dealer has a six-year-old daughter, whose mother was 14 when she had her. They are young men who have grown up in very rough neighborhoods. They are all Black or Hispanic. They are no strangers to drugs, jail, police and death.

It wasn’t the case that affected me. It was the jurors.

America, if this is what goes on behind the closed doors of a jury, I suggest you all be very afraid. It started small. A comment here and there. Then one juror found out that my husband was black. That is when it came crashing down. She began to tell me that I had no right to be on this jury, that I had a “thing” for the defendant. I announced early on that my decision was made. I had heard the evidence and I could not find this young man guilty of first-degree murder. Choosing shitty friends? Living in a neighborhood where the only economic opportunity was drugs? Yes and Yes. Killing a man with no fingerprints, no forensic evidence, nothing except the word of someone who had much more to lose if he was charged with the crime? The word of someone who gained financially by keeping the drug profits in his family?

Sorry. Not me. Can’t do it. The jury split six to six. The days wore on. This woman badgered and yelled at the other jurors until one by one, they began to change their votes. At one junction she yelled, “A man is Dead – SOMEONE must be made to pay for this crime!” like she was Perry Mason. She would rail about “these people” bringing drugs into “our” neighborhood. Yep. Watch out for the Niggers and Spics, cause they’re a-comin with the drugs! Lock up your white ladies! We already got a race traitor here in the jury room! The black penis has already beguiled her and we all know that once you go black, you never go back!

It was amazing. Seven days I suffered through this. The Foreman and I were the final lone holdouts. There were offers of bargaining if we would change our votes. I would come home at night and cry. The temptation to change my vote to get away from these horrid people was nearly overwhelming.

It’s just not in my fundamental nature to turn away from the fight. I stood fast. The jury hung. They re-tried him in six months. That jury hung too.

The decision between what is right and what is easy is not always that dramatic. It is tempting to think that every choice is the final showdown between good and evil, but that isn’t how it all works. Recently, it has been quieter moments when I have seen things that were unacceptable to my internal code. That has caused my struggle. You’ll not be surprised to know that I came down on the side of what is right.

There will be ramifications if my role in the unfolding drama is discovered. That is less important to me than doing what’s right. I resist because it is in my DNA to do so. I speak for children. I face down the bullies.

The Beast Cometh

Friday, March 03, 2006

Toasted Cheese Ravioli's - One Box

Bottle of Spanish Wine - One

Small Chocolate Cake with Real Frosting- One

One Tube of "Pore Firming mud mask" and LOTS of Advil Liqui-gels

One Husband and Father, in New York on Business.

Getting through all the food and then thinking,"God, I hope my period comes soon, cause I am going to kill somebody"..Priceless

In which I reveal my age by the School House Rock and my husbands neurosis

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Last Night, my Bed.

Me: “Emily, It’s time to read me your book”
Em: “I don’t want to read to you”
Me: “Emily, you have to do a book report tomorrow and you have to read this book out loud to me – every day”
Em: “No, I don’t.”
Me: “Get your ass in the bedroom and read me the book”

Emily complies and reads an incredibly whiny rendition of “Sunshine and Moonshine”

Me: “Ok, read it again – without the whining”
Look of death is shot to me over the “Easy Reader”

Em: “If I do, can I have some dessert?”
Me: “If you don’t, can you got to bed right now?”

Deeeeeeeep Sigh. The horror. The pain of being forced to read to your mother.
She proceeds to read beautifully, with nice articulation and annunciation. Her tone is animated and relaxed.

Em: “OK, I read it to you. Can I watch TV now?”
Terrance: “No, no more TV. You’ve watched enough TV today”
Terrance: “I Said No. If you want to watch something, you can watch the School House Rock videos – at least they can teach you something”
Em: “NOOOOOOOOOOO! I don’t want to have them teach me something”
Terrance: “You’ll watch the School House Rock Videos or Nothing – do you hear? Nothing!”
Em: “Fine, I’ll watch the stupid School house rock videos”

Yes -The threat of being taught something by the insidious School House Rock videos. Will this outrage never end?

Later on that evening. I am in the bathroom doing some “landscaping”. There is a knock on the door.

Terrance: “When you’re done, don’t forget to clean the parts”
Me: “Yeah, I know, I know.”
Terrance: “Here, use this”

He opens the door a tiny crack and passes through a bottle of “GermX” sanitizer.

Terrance: Wipe it down with that when you’re done”

How did we ever conceive a child?

Real Love

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

There are moments in every relationship when you understand that things have changed. Gone are the urgent desires of courtship. Gone are the moments when you would walk into a room and see your beloved and spontaneously offer to have sex with him or her, right now.

With a child and the passage of time, these desires morph into more practical desires to get the laundry folded, or the lunch packed tonight so you don’t have to run around at 7:43 a.m. asking, “Will you eat this?”

Last night we had another one of these moments:

Me: “Hey – do the blades on that new trimmer get dull?”
Him: “Why? Did you want to use it for something?”
Me: “Yeah, I need to do a trim”
Him: “A trim? OH, a trim”
Me: “Yeah. We’re talking about the same thing, right?”
Him: “Yes. I suppose you could use the trimmers to trim, but you may want to use a guide on the blade.”
Me: “No, I just need to trim prior to waxing and scissors are awfully unwieldy.”
Him: “Well, if you wanted a really close trim, you could use a straight razor.”
Me: I don’t think so – I just need to trim enough so when I wax I’m not taking out an inch and a half of hair. So do you mind?”
Him: “Mind what? Waxing?”
Me: “No, if I use your trimmers for the before mentioned purpose”
Him: “No, as long as you clean the clippers after. I mean I don’t want them to smell like crotch every time I go to do my face”
Me: “There was a time when you wouldn’t have minded that…”
Him: “Yes, But now I have seen you give birth.”
Me: “I love you more for the fact that we have just had this conversation.”

That, my friends, is what a long term relationship is all about.
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