Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My cover letter needs some work

You'd like to know about my background as a writer?

Well, let's start with my deep love for language and stories. I am also literate. I also know the difference between 'you're' and  'your' and also 'there', 'their', and 'they're'.

Look, I'll be straight with you.

I could make shit up, but that would be wrong.

What I do have to offer is my perspective:

I am Every Woman and can appeal to the universal experiences of Women.

HA! No.

Okay, so I'm not really an Every Woman.

I am however a Fairly Common Woman. I am funny, smart, and quirky.

I have conceived, carried, and expelled two human beginnings from my very own body, and this makes me an expert on all things pertaining to snot, shit, and stretchmarks.

The two humans who once inhabited my uterus are 15 and 10. I live with them and keep them alive. This makes me an expert on all things pertaining to patience, maternal love and devotion, self doubt, worry, despair, and laundry.

I have been married to the same guy for 17 years, as far as I can tell. I mean, he appears to be the same fellow. Blond, tall, two eyes, two ears, male. I think it's the same guy. Seventeen years. This experience allows me to know all things regarding the human heart: high blood pressure, angina, cholesterol. I also know a little something about vasectomy aftercare.

I help take care of my elderly mother. In the capacity of caregiver, I have the unique opportunity to practice my parenting skills: patience, devotions, love, self doubt, worry, despair, and laundry. Helping my elderly mother is like taking a master class in parenting. The only reward is knowing that if there is a Hell, taking care of my elderly mother may be the only thing that will exempt me from taking my place there.

I am able to blather wittily or poignantly or an amazing combination of both --mixing it up lightning speed, funnysad funnysadfunny POW!-- on many subjects not limited to parenting, marriage, elder care, shit, snot, and laundry.

I am sure that given a chance, I could think of something else to write about. Give me a chance. Oh for the love of GOD. Please.

I forgot to mention the fact that I have ADHD which adds a bit of mad-cap excitement and zaniness to the mix. I am also occasionally depressed, for added pathos. I have an anxiety disorder too, which gives some of my writing a sense of peril and doom.

I can write at least as well as the woman who wrote a personal essay about her open marriage or the woman who wrote about her emotionally unfaithful fiance or the piece I just now saw about tantric sex, OMFG who has time for tantric sex?!  or the dude who wrote something about whatever it was that I got sort of bored with. You know?

I mean, Jesus Freaking Christ.

Come on.


Monday, December 16, 2013

I Would Like to Request a Different Story

I am obsessively writing and rewriting an email to my son's teacher.

I think my son's teacher is super awesome and I adore him and am grateful to him for all the kindness and compassion he's shown to us.

But I do have a problem and the problem is this: each student in his class is to choose a book to read with their parent over winter vacation. The book my son chose, The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo, is sad. Spoiler alert: the tiger dies...OF COURSE THE TIGER DIES. This is meritorious serious quality children's literature we're talking about; something  beloved and beautiful MUST DIE. We must grind our children's souls to dust and then blow the powdery soul particles into the wind and away, before they reach middle school.

My son still hasn't completely recovered from Where the Red Fern Grows. His class read Where the Red Fern Grows in October and if you so much as allude to anything red and fern-like or say the word 'dog'  or 'dogs' my son will weep and rend his clothes. FYI, the dogs, plural DOGS die in WTRFG. They die gruesomely and horribly. Also I've been informed that a kid accidentally disembowels himself with an ax. That's a story anyone would find uplifting and hopeful, if they were sick and evil.

I'm not even going to mention that my son is still grieving the death of our very old cat Pooka. She died this summer. My son cried himself sick and still mourns for her.

My son is also upset about the death of one of my mom's cats. My husband, my frail elderly mother, and I brought Gus in to the vet the day after Thanksgiving. The diagnosis was cancer, and the only humane choice was to have the old fellow put to sleep then and there. I was supposed to go home and tell my boy that his pal Gus the cat was dead, but I just couldn't.

So the spouse and I tried to pick the right time to tell our deeply empathetic son about Gus's passing. But it never was the right time. Either he'd be crushed right before school and have a terrible day or he'd be crushed after school and be unable to function in the evening and then next morning he'd still be a wreck.

After a few days, I sort of forgot to mention it.

Saturday evening, our 15 year old daughter whipped out the sad ugly truth perhaps unintentionally or perhaps with cruel intent, I can't say for sure which. It cast a pall over the weekend that still lingers. I should have told him right away and yet his response has been overwhelming and profoundly painful and illustrates the very reason we didn't tell him in the first place.

Let me add that my son is missing his friend Ruth who died last summer at the age of 86, but whom he misses more keenly  right now because of the holidays and memories of Ruth at Christmas time.

My husband's mom died a year ago this month. That was difficult and complex, because my husband's mother was difficult and complex. Also, it's sad, of course.

Last night my son asked if I wanted to hear the only items on his Christmas list. I did.

These are the only things my ten year old son wants for Christmas

1)  that Pooka the Cat be alive and with us again
2)  that Gus the Cat be alive and with us again
3)  that Ruthie, our good kind friend, be alive and with us again

Then he looked at me sheepishly and said, as for his dad's mom, well, you know, he was sorry that she died, sad because his dad was sad, but, you know. My son assured me that he wasn't trying to be mean, but, it was sort of, maybe, okay that she just not be alive and with us, ever.
No offense.

No offense taken, my sweet boy.

Then he added quietly, that perhaps there might be a certain video game he wouldn't mind having, you know, since bringing loved ones back from the beyond wasn't possible for Christmas.

Okay so, I mean, you can see why  I need to ask for a less emotionally fraught book for my son and I to read over Christmas break. We need a good book where nothing dies. Not a person, not a pet, not a wild animal, not even a houseplant. No dying allowed. None.

We have dealt with enough of death, I don't want death to be lurking in the form of a book, overshadowing our Christmas, damn it.

I could tell all of this crazy stuff to his very nice teacher or I could just be direct and request a different book and not explain why, but neither option seems quite right.

I never know how to handle stuff like this.

I guess I'll abandon the email and just make a phone call tomorrow morning.

I'll let the school folks think what they want about me.

I'll be happy to just have a week of vacation with my kids and lots cozy reading time together on the couch. We don't have to read gorgeously written wretchedly sad stories though. Maybe we could just make up our own stories. Stories where the dogs and tigers and cats and old ladies, the loving ones, never have to die.

Little boys can be happy and not worry about death lurking, little boys can play fetch with the good dogs who are happy and who don't have to die. Little boys and old ladies can travel on the backs of tigers, who do not have to be a threat to anyone and need not have to die, with warm purring cats perched on their shoulders like parrots or curled atop their heads, living breathing cat turbans, bowlers, sombreros, or sleek kitty-cat cloche, depending on the disposition of the cat and the boy and the lady, also perhaps the day of the week and the season.

Those who are dear and deserving will be with us always. We can make things the way we need them to be. It's okay to want our stories to be fun and happy. Sad stories aren't better they're just sad.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The anniversary of Sandy Hook approaches while the news of the school shooting today in Colorado unfolds.

The anniversary of Sandy Hook approaches while the news of the school shooting today in Colorado unfolds.

Last night my son asked me why there were bad people in the world. My son isn't aware of the depth of the issue, but he knows there are bad people in the world who do bad things, and his question is why.

I haven't got an answer for him.

I have not one fucking idea.

I didn't tell him that.

I told him I didn't know why some people did bad things, but most people are good, and that he is safe.

Later, I asked my husband what he thought.

He suggested that people do bad things because they think they are doing right things.

I see his point, to a point, but that wouldn't account for most of the bad stuff that happens.

Let's think about the types of bad guys I've been hearing about in the news lately:

You've got your Kim Jong-un's and your Taliban gunmen who shoot little girls on their way to school.

You've got school shooters.

You've got your sadistic jealous boy-friend rapist-stranglers and then there are the baby molesters.

There are men who kidnap and brutalize young women for a decade or more and men in war ravaged countries who use rape as a weapon just like shooting a gun.

The young man who raped and tortured his girlfriend for hours until he got her to "confess" to having an affair and then strangled her with an electrical cord, did he think he was justified? This happened just a few blocks from my house a couple of weeks ago.

Did this piece of shit really think he was doing the right thing? If that poor young woman did sleep with some other dude, and it's none of anyone's business if she did or didn't, the correct response is not rape, torture, and murder. Do we really need to write this shit down in such specific detail? Should this guy's mom and dad have told him, Son, if you're dating a young woman and you think she's got another dude on the side, don't hurt her, just break up with her. Remember, Jr., no killing. It's not the right thing to do.

Did the Taliban gunman who shot Malala really think he was doing the right thing?

If you're a religious zealot, Let me give you some advice:

If Allah or God or Whoever tells you, "Go kill people", question His motives. If Allah or God or Whoever tells you, "Go kill children" you don't even need to question His motives. It's clear you've been duped into working for Team Satan and you NEED TO STOP DOING HIS BIDDING and redeem your fucking ass immediately.

If you're an American teenager who's mad at a teacher or a classmate, it is never ever ever okay to bring a gun to school and start shooting people. Okay? I don't care if the teacher kept you after school, gave you a bad grade, or insulted your favorite baseball team. Shooting teachers is bad. So is raping them and cutting them up with box cutters. If you have a crush on a beautiful teacher, you are not allowed to rape and/or murder her. It's wrong. If what you are contemplating involves blood shed and/or inflicting pain on another person, it's wrong and you must not do it.

If your classmates ignore your attempts to be friends, call you fat or dumb, take your lunch money or even punch you or hurt you physically, YOU MAY NOT SHOOT THEM. EVER. You just can't. You can hate them, you can report them, but you can not kill them.

If a girl or boy says No to sex, you're not allowed to rape them. Ever. Rape is bad and wrong. And while we're on that subject, molesting anybody is wrong, that included toddlers and little children. There is no way that raping babies is okay. Just no.

If you are a sexually repressed middle aged man, you are not allowed to kidnap, imprison, enslave, beat, and rape women in your home for a decade. You can't even do it for one day. Or a fraction of a day. You can't do it at all because it's wrong and bad. If you have a serious kink in your sexual proclivities and you want to do those things, I would recommend therapy. It may be hard to find a good therapist but I bet it's easier than abducting multiple women and keeping them hidden in your home for 10 years.

Kim Jong-un is a seriously warped and emotionally twisted horror story of a man. So, if you ever find yourself in his shoes, figuratively speaking of course, please note that allowing the citizens of your country to starve, emotionally manipulating them on a mass scale, and curbing all their personal freedoms is wrong. Using your authority to get back at old girl friends by having them executed would also be a wrong thing to do. Killing your uncle is probably wrong too. If you have forced labor camps full of men, women, and children, you're doing it wrong. You're doing everything wrong.

War is bad, but it happens. If you are a soldier and you are fighting your enemy on the battlefield, that's one thing, but if you systematically hunt down and gang rape women and little girls, that's really really wrong. It's just so wrong.

If you meet someone who is different than you and you feel uncomfortable, you are not allowed to brutalize them or kill them.

I don't care if you're living in a small town in Maine and  you're as straight as a heterosexual arrow and a troupe of drag queens from NYC comes sashaying into your town and they each wink their long fake lashes at you and blow you kisses. I don't care if they line up and take turns asking nicely if they can suck your straight rural country boy cock, you may not punch, kick, immolate, or murder any one of them. You may decline or you may accept their invitation, your choice, but you may not harm them in any way.

Murder is wrong, rape is wrong.

Shooting people is wrong.

Once more for emphasis, killing, maiming, raping, brutalizing, and torturing people is never okay. Ever. Never. Never EVER. NEVER.

Just to clear up any ambiguity.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Self Doubt and Worry ... but maybe you don't have to

It's the holiday season and I'm not depressed and anxious.

At least I don't think I'm depressed and anxious.

We have our Christmas tree up, which is nice.
We started our shopping earlier than usual.

That was good.

We've decided that gifts for the kids will be thoughtful but not extravagant.
Books, lots of books, and cool t-shirts and cool socks.
We are officially not getting a new game system. We can't afford it and we don't need it.

I have noticed over the course of the past few years that the Christmases when we buy less stuff, the kids seem happier.

It was easier to buy less when the kids got hip to the truth about Santa.

They were both pretty young when they started asking the hard questions. It was such a relief not to have to lie to them anymore.

When they believed in Santa they were under the impression that the number of gifts they got was a reflection of how good they were. My husband and I would break the bank trying to reassure our kids that they were indeed imbued with more than enough goodness.

Inevitably at the end of the day they'd realize that cousins and friends had received way more stuff from Santa than they had. They began to draw logical but wrong conclusions about who's good and who's bad and how you can tell.

Right before we killed the Santa myth, my very rational very serious very bright daughter who was 7 at the time, pointed out the glaring inequity. She said something like, "I am very good. Why doesn't Santa bring me as much as he brings other kids? Does Santa think the kids who live in big houses are better than me? Does Santa think I am Bad? Because if he does, he's stupid and he's a big jerk and I will find him and I will kick him."

I was so glad to say goodbye to Santa. Life got simpler.

Anyway, I'm trying to take inventory of my holiday anxieties.

I'm a bit worried about Christmas dinner because I think I volunteered to cook Christmas dinner again this year. I may have invited people to my house for Christmas dinner...okay, so did invite people over for dinner and that means I'm supposed to make good  food. That's sort of stressful.

I must have been high on Thanksgiving Turkey fumes when I agreed to host Christmas dinner.

I don't expect we'll be making a lovely roast like last year, but it's nothing I'm going to lose sleep over.

We'll eat something, there will be food, Christmas dinner will happen, it just might look different than usual.

That's okay.

I think this is the first year ever that I haven't been crazed with holiday anxiety.

It's weird. I almost feel like I'm forgetting to do something.

Christmas tree? Yup.

Holiday gifts? Yup.

Christmas cards? Yup.

Inordinate feelings of doom and impending disaster?

Inordinate feelings of doom and impending disaster? Huh. Not this year.

One of the few things I remember clearly from last year is the sound of my heart pounding ominously in my ears. Looking at last year's Christmas photos I look like I'm going to have a heart attack. My face is flushed beet red and not from wine either, and I have that clenched jaw toothy grin that either signifies rigor mortis has set in or I'm teetering on the brink of hysteria. My eyes are glazed.


This year, so far, I am mostly calm and strangely not sad.

What's wrong with me?

I must be depressed and anxious, I just don't know it yet.

Or am I?

I don't really know.

Maybe I'm normal.

Maybe I'm really just fine and there is nothing to worry about.

What if  I'm fine and there is nothing to worry about?

Let me try that out and see that that feels like:

I am fine and there is nothing to worry about.

Wow. That's okay.

Everybody is good enough and there will be enough of everything to go around.

I've got my good kids, my good husband, my good family, and beloved good friends to hold on to.

Everything is going to be fine.

You've got lots of good people in your life, too.

You've got everything you need to be okay.

This year I propose we all spend more time with the people we love than we spend with our worries and our fears.

Who knows, we might stumble out of anxiety and sadness into some kind of  happiness.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Just a few minutes

I've got a little less than an hour to write today's blog post.

I'm sitting at Bagel Central at my favorite table -- by the window second table on the left as you enter, with my favorite bagel -- sesame water bagel with butter, and my favorite coffee -- large.

A toddler, a little boy with big eyes and a tiny dollop of a nose weaves around the room on stiff legs. He wears a navy blue coat with the hood up. Long loose light brown curls poke out from under the hood. His young father follows but doesn't hover.

The little boy sees the old fashioned cast iron steam radiator. His interest is peaked, he puts on a burst of speed and reaches out. The curious look on the boy's face changes to confusion and from confusion to a pained grimace as he touches the hot radiator.

The dad deftly scoops his son up in one arm and says quietly and calmly, "No, don't touch. Hot." They move out of my line of sight. I expect the child to cry. He doesn't.

A few moments later I hear the little boy meowing softly like a cat. His father pushes him, now safely buckled into his stroller, out of the warm restaurant and into the cold  blue December afternoon.

The boy wears a pair of much too large dun colored fleece mittens. He waves his hands in the air and laughs to see the mittens flap like little wings as they walk past my window and away.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Homework Help Desk: It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that AB AB AB Scheme, Do ah do ah do ah do ah...

My son is still working on poetry for school. He's trying his hand at many different rhyme schemes. It seems like it would be easy until you try.

Tonight's post is for my poetry writing son.

Writing poetry in verse
is like trying to refold a map
after unfolding it

Take this small

open it

shake it

it unfurls
it rattles
it blows in the wind

lay it down on the ground

flatten it
with your sweat damp hands

You are here.
Where are you going?

Once you have your bearings,
try to find the one right way
to make this unwieldy flapping expanse
fit again
into the small space
it once was small enough to fit

the creases
running sharply through
unnamed townships
interstate highways
and railroad tracks
ponds and oceans
and oceans
and lakes

folding a map is
strange origami
writing a poem
in verse
is folding feelings
like a map
into a bird

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Christmas Tree, the Cat Door, the Nice Lady Who Seems to Be Losing Her Grip, and Also...an ADORABLE Cat Picture!

We put up our Christmas tree today. We also installed a cat door. We did a lot of other crazy stuff too, not the least of which was me getting pissed off at a clerk in a drug store.

My latent asshole gene was activated and manifesting itself.

I was foiled in my attempt to run an emergency last minute errand for my elderly mom.

After I was mean to the drug store clerk I apologized profusely. She, after all, had nothing to do with making stupid store policies.

See? Even when I am the asshole customer I come to my nice lady senses, own my bad behavior and apologize.

However, I digress. One day I'll write a story called The Nice Lady Who Acted Like an Asshole in the Drug Store Because the Cashier Could Not Would Not Go Into the Storeroom for the Correct Size and Brand of Adult Hygiene Product (not for the nice lady, but for the nice lady's elderly mother, remember that!) Even Though The Drug Store Has Them in Stock Because it is  Sunday and the Adult Hygiene and Other Medical Supplies Department is Closed on Sundays.

But not today.

Back to my original story, today my daughter and I decorated the Christmas tree while my husband and ten year old son installed a cat door.

I could write a book, A Boy and His Dad: Power Tools and Power Struggles, but that's for another day, too.
Our old house was built in 1880. Typical of houses built at this time in this part of New England, our house is a series of many small rooms separated by many doors.

Despite the fact that that house looks biggish on the outside, the arrangement of rooms and doors makes it feel cramped and claustrophobic on the inside. It's also cold and drafty.

We keep the door from the living room to the downstairs hallway closed to keep in the heat. Because we have two cats who like to go into and out of the living room several times every hour, someone has to stop what they're doing repeatedly throughout the day to open the door, allowing a whimsical cat entrance or egress.

I don't want to be doorman to the cats but it's no use trying to ignore them, they can sit and rattle a door for a long time. This is annoying.

So, a cat door was the answer to our problem. Cats come and go at will, the heat stays in the living room, I am not bothered, what could be simpler?

My husband spent the better part of an hour supervising a ten year old boy with an electric drill equipped with a bit called a hole saw bit. If you do not know what a hole saw bit looks like it looks like a biscuit cutter with shark teeth.

My son is a lovely beautiful boy, but that three quarters of an hour took years off my husband's life and maybe a couple of weeks off mine. I was, after all, not the hands on drill supervising parent. I was taking on the much less harrowing task of tree decoration. I just had to turn my back on the guys with the hole saw bit, sing Deck the Halls at full volume and pretend that everything was fine.

In the end, my husband and son both survived, they both still have all their fingers, and no stitches or skin grafts were required.

Cat door success!

Ah, but wait.

The cats are afraid to go through the cat door.

They approach the door, bat it tentatively with a little paw and when the flap moves they jump a foot in the air and run away.

My son even demonstrated the finer points of cat door operation using as much of his body as would fit through the door, but surprisingly, the cats did not find this reassuring.

So in an effort to get kitties through the cat door the kids and I had a brilliant idea; we put cat nip on the other side of  the door to lure them through.

After some coaxing the cats braved a hop through the door to the nip on the other side.

But after their nip fest they were all stoned and big eyed and weirded out and they just sat there in the cold hallway, staring at us through the hole in the door.
one of the kitties, big eyed, weirded out, looking at us through the cat door...

It then occurred to me that giving the cats drugs and then expecting them to perform a new and, to them, frightening task was a flawed plan.

My son took pity on their poor addled souls and opened the door to let them in.

Looks like my husband and son risked their lives to install a cat window not a cat door.

Looks like my days catering to the whims of cats are not over.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Don't Judge Me Until You've Walked a Mile In My FUCKING SUPER SHOES

Last night we were finally able to get my son new shoes and a pair of boots.

He's needed new shoes for a while, and winter in the North East requires appropriate foot gear, so we've known that new boots would be an inevitable purchase too.

Until last night, things never really worked out for us to go shopping.

Either we had the time but not the money or the money but not the time.

At the end of September my son sprained his foot and it's ill advised  to shop for new shoes when you've got a swollen foot. Our car was dying and we needed to get a newer one. Our daughter's birthday was in October so most of our extra cash went to buy gifts for her. Last month my son had strep so some potential shopping days were nixed due to illness, and there was Thanksgiving which also sort of got in the way of shoe shopping, too for a multitude of reasons. Also my mom was ill, and there was work and just everything.

Meanwhile we made do with what we had and my son appropriated my winter boots after the first snow fall. My feet got wet and cold walking home from work but this is the first time I've articulated that reality and I'm not complaining. I'm just stating the fact that the kids do come first around here.

Last night after dinner we finally had  money, time, and good health concurrently so we were off to Super Shoes to buy some shoes. Super! I've bought shoes and boots from cheaper places but I've found after 15 years of parenthood, in the long run it's less expensive and easier to buy one good pair of boots and one good pair of shoes. Otherwise it's January and the Wal-Mart boots which were never very warm anyway, have completely ripped apart and there isn't a pair of boots to be had because all the stores are selling sandals and flip flops, even though we're going to have another 3 months of snowy weather.


We thought we'd make it a fun family outing. We're simple folk. Yay! Shoe shopping fun times!

We started our fun shoe shopping adventure with the obligatory measuring of the boys' feet with the Brannock Device.

His right foot measured a 6, a kid size.

His left foot measured a  size 7 which is a grown-up man size, which means my son has one kid foot and one man foot.

What to do?

We wandered around. I noted the lack of any size 7 shoes. I thought, hey! I'll go ask a person who works here! Maybe there is a cool solution to this problem. Shoe inserts perhaps? Or something?

I approached a young woman wearing a name tag. I assumed she was an employee of the store and would know things like where shoes were and the basics of human communication. I explained our funny situation one size 6 boy foot and one size 7  man foot, and also noted that there weren't any size 7's around and asked her what she might recommend.

She looked at me and said, "Uh....I....


She averted her eyes and said, "Don't know."

"Oh-kay then." I said.

And then this dude walked over. He was a tall kid mid 20's with a goatee and a condescending manner.

He exuded arrogant gamer boy pheromones.

I nicely explained my predicament, boy with mismatched feet, asked for any insider advice goateed gamer shoe salesman might offer. I was sincerely polite.

Sales dude then said something that went like this: "This happens every year. Parents somehow forget that it's winter in Maine. Right after the first snow storm everyone comes in here looking for winter boots. If we have anything  left in a size 7 it would be (muffle muffle) brand or (unintelligible to the listener) brand."

"OH. Really? Huh. Is that what happens? HUM. Okay. So, where might the seasonally shortsighted parents like myself find these boots? Because really, despite my obvious shortcomings, my son still needs boots."

Condescending shoe dude motioned vaguely with a wave of his hand toward the back of the store.

I'm a nice lady. I am the nice customer. I worked in retail, my mom worked in retail, I know that customers are sometimes assholes. I am not that customer. Having worked in retail, I know that part of the job involves helping all the customers, the nice ones, the stupid ones, and the assholes, find the shit they want to buy.

Shopping is stressful for my son. Huffing out of the store with my family in tow and driving to another shoe store would only increase my son's anxiety, so I gritted my teeth and tried to find something that would fit the boy.

He picked up on my changed mood right away so I had to tell him truthfully that the clerk was a bit rude to me and it made me mad but that was okay, I was going to work through my anger, my son hadn't done anything wrong, and in the grand scheme, it really didn't matter what the sales clerk said to me, it was up to me to be a grown up.

The boy found a pair of boots he loved in a size 8. He tried them on and they fit his bigger foot just fine. We found a pair of sneakers in a size 8 and they were okay, too.

I wondered if, not being foot measuring professionals, we measured his feet wrong. I  wondered had a nice sales clerk type person helped us we might have discovered our error, gotten an accurate measurement and picked the right shoes without worry. Or maybe we were just lucky and found the brand of shoes that runs a bit small and though our measurement was accurate the Kamik boots run small, so a Kamik size 8 fits like a 7....anyway, had we been helped in a meaningful way, we'd be laughing happy customers who felt good about buying shoes.

We could have dropped a shit load of money on new foot wear for a kid right before Christmas, knowing that our Christmas budget would be significantly reduced, and not felt quite so sick about it.

Had shoe store dude helped us, we would be happy to shop there again, because, let's face it, I have a growing boy with weird and giant feet. We're going to be buying shoes every 6 months for him until he's 18, 6' 10", with one size 15 foot and one size 16 foot.

If people continue to buy stuff from their store, they get to have a place to work. Being helpful is job insurance.

I know shoe store guy makes shit money. I know he does. I know deer in the headlights clerk gal makes shit money too.

My college graduated, state university employee, library supervisor husband probably doesn't make much more than these guys do. I can actually guarantee that fact.

I clean dirty toilets for a living. I'm not bringing in the big bucks either, and my job isn't even as glamorous as working at Super Shoes. Clerks and us, we're on the same side.

The reasons we didn't buy the kid winter boots earlier have nothing to do with being negligent, stupid, or lazy.

Anyhow, as we were paying for the shoes, I fought the urge to give the Super Shoes employees a lecture. My husband suggested very gently that I take my fuming self to the car to cool down a bit, because he knows me well and knows sometimes I get very very mad and say things that children don't need to hear, especially children who need expensive things right before Christmas.

And since I'm still trying to stay on track with the blog everyday and it is now nearly tomorrow, I will bid you all a goodnight.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Morning Snapshot: 5:45 a.m. - 7:15 a.m.

Today is one of those Fridays that is misbehaving like a Monday.

My alarm rang for a solid 30 minutes before I even became vaguely aware that it was ringing.

My daughter's alarm didn't go off at all.

There was unfinished homework and panic.

We're out of cereal so even though we were all running late I had to cook breakfast.

I spilled a full bottle of prescription medication on the very dirty kitchen floor and then had to rationalize while I plucked them from the filth and plinked them back in their little amber container that the bacteria would be less harmful if ingested every day for a month with medicine.

Immediately after the medication spill my son spilled a full glass of orange juice across the table and onto my daughter's computer charger which, thankfully, was not attached to my daughter's computer but was, horribly, still plugged into the outlet.

On the upside even thought I did holler "Oh Shit!" when I spilled the meds, I showed off my mid-cuss abandonment reflexes by hollering, "FFFFFFffffff-ooooo-poo!" when the juice spill almost killed us .

This silly non-swear swear made my son laugh so hard and loud that all bad stuff was fixed forever and nothing bad ever happened again, because his laughter is that awesome.

Also on the upside, my daughter finished her paper on why we should raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour and it sort of KICKS ASS. I love it that she's audacious enough to speak the truth as she sees it without apology.

Then end.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

in the deep dark: thinking about the shit that scares me

Yeah, I'm feeling pretty pissed off today.

I've been thinking about the upcoming anniversary of the Newtown shootings. I'm pissed off about the 911 calls being released to the public. I'm scared too, thinking about crazy folks having access to the 911 calls from that day. 

I imagine that some fucked up fucker might find inspiration in listening to those calls, that by making those calls public we're sowing the seeds for future horrors. 

I feel some relief that December 14th is a Sunday this year. 

In other bleak news today:

North Korea has been enlarging their prison camps, says Amnesty International. 

Low end estimate for prison camp population is 150,000 people. 

These are forced labor camps. People are starved, worked to death, raped, beaten, tortured and executed. Inmates of these camps include children. 

I thought we'd vowed never let this kind of evil happen again and yet we've let it happen again and again and again. Come to think of it, we all agreed that there would never be another Newtown and yet we've done precocious  little to prevent it. 

Thinking of the horrors in the world doesn't lead to deep and abiding faith or feelings of deep gratitude.

The fact that bad shit happens all the time all over the world points to the lack of an omnipotent moral authority. It reminds me that evil is real and those who deal in brutality are arbitrary in meting it out. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Homework Help Desk: In the Trenches

My daughter has to choose a poem, memorize it, and recite it in front of her class on Friday.
This evening my daughter has been complaining vociferously, cursing poetry, having to read it is a bore, having to memorize it is a waste, having to recite it is an indignity, having to listen to other people recite it is an injustice of great magnitude.

My daughter hasn't shared her chosen poem with me, she's too nervous. But she asked me for some advice anyway, and I stupidly offered her some.

I cautioned her against reciting poetry in that horrid monotone that people often adopt when reading poetry. I suggested she kick that approach to the curb and that she adopt a more natural tone.

She stared at me with her withering stare of pure disdain. But poetry isn't NATURAL, MOTHER.

I mentioned I would have loved having an opportunity to recite poetry when I was in school. My son said he loved to read, memorize, and recite poetry. My daughter glared at me, then turned the glare on her brother and said, "I didn't ask to be born into this family."


My go to method for alleviating stress and sorrow is to act like a fool and incite riotous laughter from the children, so in that spirit, I performed an interpretive recitation of my son's spelling lesson. I was brilliant, my performance was a hit. Both kids laughed, everybody felt better.

My job was done.

As I stood up from the table my girl wrapped her arms around me and gave me a hug.

My girl went back to her work, happily abandoning poetry for the surety of science.

My son set to work on his homework too, part of which was to write an acrostic poem.

This is what he came up with:

High winds
Run for your life
Can cause mass destruction
An ambulance is
Needed --

I think this is a super acrostic poem. I wonder if perhaps he'll be docked points for the repetition of the word run ... but I think using run twice works here, it gives the the poem a sense of urgency, and perhaps the "It  Can cause mass destruction" isn't what the teacher is looking for, but again, I think his approach is bold and innovative. Go poetry boy! Go go!!

The best part of  tonight's homework help desk came later.

My son's spelling assignment was to write a letter to a cowboy or cowgirl (I have no freaking idea why a cowperson, but there it is) using four words from his spelling list.

This is what he came up with:

Dear Cowboy Bob,

I heard your fifteen year old mustang impaled you with a fragment of goggles. Hope you live.


That right there, people, that's what's known as a "Pièce de  freaking résistance".


Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Today is about waiting rooms.

I am in a waiting room, waiting.

The doctor whose waiting room I'm sitting in has gone to some effort to make me comfortable. I appreciate the effort.

The Road to Shambala is playing on the oldies station.

I like this song but wouldn't ever seek it out. I'm almost glad to sit here and wait. 

Earlier today, I waited for my daughter at the orthodontist. The orthodontist tries to appeal to his clientele who are between the ages of 12-18. The music that plays in his waiting room makes waiting less fun. 

Later today I'll sit and wait for my elderly mother while she sees her doctor. Mom's doctor should play music in her waiting room, maybe some Elvis or Sinatra for the old waiting people. I don't recall there being any music piped in to keep the old folks calm and happy. All I recollect hearing at Mom's doctor's office is shuffling, sniffling, the occasional dry cough and the flipping of magazine pages.

But for now, I am here, waiting for my own doctor, listening to the oldies station.

I am sitting  an over-stuffed black leather wing back chair. The chair is slick and I slide around. If I slide my self  all the way to the back of the chair in order to sit up straight, my stubby legs do not quite touch the ground, so I lean back and slide myself forward. My feet touch the ground but the rest of me reclines awkwardly. This pose does nothing for my double chin. I'm glad I'm alone in the waiting room. Next to my slick black chair is a huge equally slick looking black leather couch.

In front of the shiny black couch sits an ugly glass topped coffee table.

On the ugly glass topped coffee table sits an equally ugly ceramic boot full of artificial pink and yellow flowers, which are also ugly.

The Road to Shambala is over.

Jingles telling me to do business with some local schmoes start to play. The sound of these local ads grates on my nerves. I have no idea what they're trying to get me to buy or where they want me to shop. I'd give my left nut to hear the crap music that was playing in the orthodontist waiting room. I do not have a left nut, or even a right nut, but I'd be  willing to part with an ovary to make these shitty jingles stop.

A faux Colonial primitive picture with all the traditional primitive Colonial motifs so it won't be lost on the casual observer that this is a primitive Colonial piece, hangs opposite where I am awkwardly reclining.

The picture includes a blue star, two weeping willows, a red brick house, two crows in silhouette, a pineapple, and a sheep. The word Simplify is stenciled over the crows. The person who made this thing might have taken their own advice, but no.

The creator of this picture forgot to include the classic stylized Colonial brick-red heart. To remember the sheep and the pineapple but forget the heart, that's crazy.  

Perhaps the key to simplicity is forgetting the heart. This makes me sad.

On another wall hangs a clock. Next to the clock hangs a seascape in oranges and pinks. It would be pretty if it didn't evoke Thomas Kinkade. The only thing missing is a quaint thatched cottage floating in the glistening surf.

I look at the ugly ceramic boot with the ugly flowers again.

It's so ugly it makes me mad.

Just then a door opens, the doctor can see me now.

As I slip and slide my way out of the chair, a John Cougar Mellencamp "ditty" begins to play. The word "ditty" is a travesty, the song gives me hives and makes me wretch.

I hate this song more than I hate the ugly boot vase and ugly flowers.

I am grateful to walk into the doctor's exam room, grateful when she closes the door behind me.