About Me

Hi, I'm Debbie. Sometimes, people like ask me what I do. Good question. I'm not always sure how to answer it myself! I'm hoping this blog helps me answer that question, or is at least fun to read along the way.

Friday, November 8, 2013

I'm Promoting Something for a Friend--Check it Out!

My friend Jennifer--who is not a blogger, but should be--has requested my help in promoting something.  Poor dear...apparently she believes my reach is much stronger than it is, as she asked me to "maybe post something on your blog."  I guess that means I'll have to shamelessly promote this blog, or at least this post.  Come Facebook, come Twitter, come MySpace, come Vine.  Come Pinterest, come Instagram, come Digg, come Slyme.

I made that last one up.  I think.

And I'll probably just email this link and see what happens.

Onto the promotion:

This year marks the fifth year of the Kids4Kids Sale at Schroeder (our children's school.)  What's that, you ask?  Well, mostly know this:

It's your opportunity to get rid of the crap in your house just before you get more crap during the holidays, and then all the OCD people of the world tell us January is "national get organized month" just as all we ADD people are wading through piles of crap and thinking, "Geez, get me while I'm down, won't you?"

I know, Jen, you were hoping I'd say something along these lines:

Schroeder is working with an organization called buildOn, a fabulous non- 
profit that teaches kids they can make powerful, positive changes in the world by building schools in  
developing countries.  300 schools have already been built!   Schroeder  
Elementary is working with the International Academy and the high school students from IA will actually help with the physical labor of building the school, along with the people of the  
village where it is getting built.  Schroeder students help all this through our Kids4Kids rummage sale, which allows our children to feel empowered, recognize how contributing to a larger group can make powerful change, and even do some recycling.  Yay rah rah!

Me?  I'm just thinking:
Kids4Kids sale=GET RID OF CRAP IN HOUSE.  The whole building a school thing is a nice bonus, though.  Yay rah rah.

It's fitting that Jennifer contacted me about this, seeing as just this weekend I ventured into our basement sober.  You see, whenever the school year starts, I get all Martha-Stewart-y in my mind, and picture myself organizing my home into Pinterest worthy perfection.  This never happens, because I'm marginally ADD, and when I look at piles of crap, my head locks up, and I think something along the lines of "f--- it", and then go for a walk or mow the lawn or something.  (See, I can still get something done and call myself productive.)

This year, so as to not set myself up for failure, I decide I wouldn't even think about our basement.  Nope, not at all.  Not thinking.

But this weekend I walked down there.  Eyes open.  AGH!

Full disclosure: I still haven't made much of a dent.  And I have a sneaking suspicion that my children will suddenly attach themselves fervently to old toys that they never play with.  (This is another reason the basement never gets cleared away.  I lack the balls to just chuck stuff when the kids aren't looking.  I can only presume all those organized, neat-freak moms have been toy sabotaging since day one.)  But I do have a few things that my son, at least this past weekend, said he doesn't play with anymore.  These are set out on our Ping-Pong table, which, of course, is pretty much never used for ping-pong as it's typically covered with crap.  What? Isn't yours?

I'm hoping that knowing about this upcoming sale--and agreeing to help promote it in some form--will inspire me to bribe and force my children to get rid of stupid crap create positive feng-shui in my basement, while showing my children ways to recycle and help underprivileged communities build schools. 

Want to know more?  I'll try to keep you posted, here or on Facebook, or on the Kids4Kids facebook page.

Now get busy cleaning your basements!  For cryin' out loud, the holidays are coming up! get busy saving the world, and let the surrounding neighborhoods know about our awesome sale, which will be Thursday, November 21st, from 4:05 to 6 pm in the Schroeder Elementary cafeteria. 


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dental Visits Are Awesome!

I thought I'd write about going to the dentist today.  Because nothing spells fun like a good dental story, right?

Actually, I'm pretty much the least dental-scared/traumatized person in the world.  I believe this is a result of good mouth genes, good oral care on the home front, not drinking pop as a child, and having an uncle as my dentist.  Going to see the dentist always meant sitting in a chair, getting your teeth cleaned, saying "hi" to my uncle, picking out a bouncy ball from the treasure chest, and getting a Frosty with Mom on the way home.  I mean, that's a good deal, right?  So imagine my shock upon hearing, in school, that half the world was in terror of dentists.  Huh?  What gives?

Who knew that half the world was experiencing brutal mouth-shots and drilling and all sorts of other freaky stuff at the dentist.  We never got cavities in our house; I associated shots with regular immunizations--scary stuff--and then later the dermatologist.  (We were always getting funny lookin' moles sliced off.)  Why weren't people scared of the skin doctor, the guy who would greet me with, "Goddamn it, wear sunscreen!"  In February?

I didn't go to a new dentist until after I married and moved.  This new quack poked all over my mouth and promptly declared I had 6 cavities that needed to be taken care of, pronto, and I probably didn't want that metal stuff, but fancy new porcelain, or my mouth would look all ugly.  Umm...no.  I checked out and noticed my neighbor's paperwork laying right on the reception counter.  Strike two, buster.  I made an appointment with my uncle 3 hours away.  "Your teeth are fine.  You have some pits, and those can get stains.  That guy was trying to milk you," he said.  More or less.

My brothers were in dental school at the time--or maybe they were newly graduated--and I think I had them take a cursory look in my mouth then.  When I say cursory, they may or may not have used a dinner fork to poke around.  They might have muttered something about tooth #16 looking possibly suspicious.  And when I say "they," I think I only mean one brother, but I do have two, twins, and yes, both are dentists.

I found a new dental practice closer to my then home.  It was a rather new and shiny looking office, and a youngish dentist said tooth #16 should probably be filled.  I was okay with that.  Call me crazy, but at this point, I was really curious about what getting a cavity filled was like.  What kind of trauma was I missing out on?  I wanted to know!

All I really remember was a drill-y noise and a yicky odor.  I don't even remember if they gave me a shot.

To be fair, I had four teeth removed for orthodontics work, and that wasn't exactly a cake walk, but by then, I'd already sucked up getting a mole removed from a lady-parts area, which caused me to pass out on the exam table and wake up in my own urine, so really, even those tooth extractions weren't that memorable.  (And my mom probably still got me a Frosty afterwards.)

Nowadays, the worse part of a dental exam for me is when they do that little poke-poke thing were they assign a number to your gums to check for gum health (I think; please note I'm not being supervised by a dentist as I write this, so please, in no way let this guide your dental care.)  I must say, I feel a little judged during this part.  "You'll want to hear a 1, 2, or 3," they tell me.  Apparently, you're a total looser if they ever say "4", or "5", or "1,240."  So I sit there, staring at whatever might be on the ceiling (I photo of a farm and stream today; nice touch), thinking, "Please give me straight 1's."  But I don't get straight 1's.  I get a bunch of 1's, and some 2,'s, and sometimes a 3, which typically happens near the back of my mouth, where I still have my wisdom teeth.  (Yes, I still have my wisdom teeth.  This must mean I am wise!)  Am I a loser at brushing and flossing my wisdoms?  Am I undeserving of them?  Is a 1 like an A?  And if so, is a 2 a B?  Or is it a B+?  And what's a 3?  I hate to think I'm getting C's on my mouth report card.  'Cause I'm not really sure.  Can we say a 3 is still a B or B-? 

I get a quick check-through from my brother the dentist.  Yes, the dentist today was my brother.  I typically just go to my uncle's partner, as my uncle has retired, and that seemed like the easiest route.  But my mom goes to my brother, and was also visiting to take him out for his birthday lunch, and apparently his hygienist had a last minute opening, and I was due for a cleaning, so why not?  I guess my brother did a decent check-up, although a dentist has never stuck his fingers in my ears before.* 

I made sure to take some stickers on the way out.  I have enough bouncy balls.  And my mom still took me out to lunch after, which is even better than a Frosty.**

And that's why you should not be scared of the dentist.  The end.

*When my little brother the dentist did that ear thingie, he asked me to open and close my mouth and said he was checking something my jaw.  Seems legit. 
**Unless you think a Frosty is better than a whole lunch.  I'm okay with that opinion. Frosties are pretty damn good.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Mystery of Cherry Lifesavers

My brothers and sister sometimes dig at my mom for being cheap.  We recall having to open the car doors--while still moving somewhat--to pick up bottles lying on the side of the road waiting to have their deposits cash-out.  We joke about the time our mom was too cheap to buy some drink called New York Seltzer Water, so instead she mixed Crystal Light with club soda and declared it the same thing.  I believe she spent hours on the phone with insurance companies because she was erroneously overcharged some small amount--the arena of 10 bucks or less--for an IV stint. 

So, as her daughter, it should be no surprise that I had to spring into action when an unauthorized purchase of Lifesavers showed up at my doorstop last week.

A $3 bag of cherry Lifesavers.

The shipping was $5.99.

That's, like, $9 for a bag of candy.

Umm, no.  Not on my watch.

So I looked up my credit card statement, and there it was: the unauthorized Lifesavers via Walgreens pharmancy.  Plus, same day, an unauthorized charge of just under $200 to J.C. Penny. 

I don't know what that one was for.  I never received anything from J.C. Penny.  Just the Lifesavers.

So here's the irony: the douchbag who somehow snagged my credit card number and did some sort of J.C. Penny/Lifesavers binge probably would have gotten away with it if they didn't send my that little "thank you" of Lifesavers.  (It was my husband's suggestion that the Lifesavers were a "thank you."  Really?  Couldn't you do better than that?)  I mean, sure, $200 is a considerably more significant chunk o' change than $9, but if that was their only charge, I possibly would have glanced over it at the end of the month--maybe missed it entirely--or at least figured I was a bit ADD about remembering what I might have ordered from J.C. Penny.  It wouldn't, to be honest, scream "ripped off credit card."

But I can assure you, I never would buy a $3 bag of Lifesavers and pay an additional $6 for shipping.  Okay, I might, but it would likely involve considerable and memorable trauma, an act of desperation. 

So here's a tip, jerks who want to snag my credit card: don't send me a cheapo "thank you".  I'll noticed.  And it will piss me off.  Seriously, if you would have sent me a $1000 couch or something, I would have let my kids jump all over it, spilled juice on it, invited the neighborhood cats to sharpen their claws on it or whatever.  But my kids started begging to eat those $9 Lifesavers, pretty please, I was like, "No way!  You are not touching that bag of candy, as I do most certainly did NOT pay for them, and WILL not pay for them, so do NOT open the bag."

Walgreens was very nice about saying they would refund/cancel the charge.  My credit card company went though their whole stop/reissue exercise, and I'm not paying for the Lifesavers or whatever was ordered from JC Penny.  (What was it?  I nice pair of boots?  Pretty new bedding? An ugly dress?)

Meanwhile, Walgreen told me to enjoy the Lifesavers.  I haven't let my kids know yet, but I treated myself to one.  It was tasty.

But certainly not worth 9 bucks.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How Facebook is like my Refrigerator

Note:  Of course today isn't Friday...but I wrote it on Friday.

It's Friday: otherwise known as that day I plan on getting nothing done.  Now that the kids are in school, my schedule is pretty open to accomplish ambitious, start-a-business or create-pin-worthy-closets type of projects, but by Friday, I kind of run out of steam.  Let's not act like this doesn't happen in the corporate world. 

So although I might do something like fold a batch of laundry or even prep some dinner by stealing my neighbor's basil (they said I could, plus they borrowed a cowboy hat yesterday, so I think they owe me), I'm lowering my standards today.  Might wash my hair, but might skip it, too, to prolong the lovely blow-out I got yesterday.  Thinking of doing the good deed of visiting my grandma. 

And, of course, I'm writing this blog post.

I had my writer's group this week, during which my bloggie/writer friend Pam--who's new website, by the way, it completely awesome, and you should check it out--submitted a piece about Facebook.  By now, most of us have gone through some weird Facebook love/hate, drop-out/rejoin, get addicted/give it up cycle with one of the bigger social media forums out there.  Which has got me reflecting on my "relationship" with Facebook, and it's kind of like this:

I'm viewing Facebook the same way I'm viewing my refrigerator.

Let me explain. 

Now that the kiddos are at school--and heck, even when they were home--I'll find myself opening the refrigerator for no real reason.  I'm not hungry, not really.  I'm not getting ready to make something.  I'm not putting away groceries (unless, of course, I am.)  I guess I'm just having a bored or aimless moment, and opening the fridge is my response.  Maybe there's something good in there.  It's like I'm looking for a slice of chocolate cheesecake to appear and fulfill any voids or uncertainties I might have in life.  (Hmmm...is this sounding mid-life crisis-y?)

But now there's Facebook!  Yeah!  I can just periodically open that instead, and check out what's going on there.

Umm...like my fridge, pretty much nothing.  Or at least, nothing life-changing.

I don't mean to insult my "friends" on Facebook.  You are wonderful people.  But I think we know by now that there are certain people who post heavily in certain ways (read: self-employed business folks who promote, which is fine, but it's like opening the fridge and going, yup, there's bread.)  There's the slightly brag-worthy posts, although thankfully, I actually don't get too many of those.  Sometimes there's a link to something amusing or interesting, and while I thank you very much for those, how come I sometimes feel like I've just eaten a cookie I really didn't need?

It's making me realize I need to keep developing real relationships, do real things, and, quite likely--oh, ick--take real risks from time to time. 

Unless Facebook upgrades so that people actually can share chocolate cheesecake with me, in which case, baby, I'm so on it.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Notice: This Post Might Not Reduce Belly Fat

This past Monday, unplanned, I ended up doing one of the coolest, funnest things I've done in a while.

(First, wait--it "funnest" still not a word?  Crap, can we change that?  "More fun" ruins the pretty little parallel structure.)

I did improv.

Yep, improv.

I don't know if I want to go into the backstory of how I fell into a room with a bunch of "instructors"--or maybe it was a troupe, or facilitators, or just people with cooler jobs than the average Joe--on a Monday night.  Like one of the rules of improve, just accept it.  Accept the scene--Debbie is in a room with strangers doing improv--and go with it.  (Some might find the backstory interesting, and some day, I may touch upon it.)

(Also, as aside, will auto-correct please accept "improv" as a word and stop tacking an "e" on it?)

We started off doing some crazy little exercise that involved making strange noises and pointing at each other.  We moved on to naming states or games or pharmaceuticals while pointing to each other, and somewhere in there, we said our names, which we may or may not have learned.  I think my brain was supposed to wake up, although I felt a little like my questionably ADD self repeated things over and over so I don't forget to, I don't know, water a plant or something.

Things moved on from there, to little exercises which were actually building crazy, silly, fun scenes around scenarios.  I guess I do this sometimes when I write, or often in my head when I daydream, but when I started doing this out loud, with other crazy, silly, fun people, it felt so much more fun and communal and supported and instant, like people throwing confetti at me while I write a blog piece, instead of that inner voice always going "Hmm...is this okay? Is anyone going to read it? Like it? I'm not so sure."  No, almost by definition, improv is fun and right and anything goes, which is such a refreshing change from wondering if something is good enough.  Was I any good at improv?  I'm not even sure it matters, which is why, yes, I was so awesome at improv.  It was kind of exciting to try something new, and I found myself both enjoying other people's "skits" while itching for my turn, pretty please, next.

I've also found myself googling about improv, re-reading Tina Fey's "The Rules of Improvisation That Will Change Your Life and Reduce Belly Fat"*, and reflecting upon how treating life like one big improv exercise might just be free-ing from time to time.  In fact, it's actually quite possible most of my parenting has actually been improv.  (I'm especially good at improv-ing with stuffed animals, by the way.  Perhaps I should lead a class in it?) 

While I'm not sure I'll turn into some improv junkie, checking out the local club behind this fun-fest is on my list of things to do.  For fun.  Which I don't always get enough of.

Right now, I'm kind of like a timeshare salesperson with this stuff:  You should try it!

*Tina Fey later notes Improvisation will not reduce belly fat.  Sorry, if that's your goal.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Summer's Last Hurrah (Now Let's Get On With It)

This past week, something seemingly simply occurred: my kids played nicely in the backyard with neighborhood friends.  An activity which to me is quintessential to summer--kids playing in the yard--seems to have become a rarity in a time filled with camps and vacations and swim meets and the like.  

The next door neighbor girls have returned from visiting their out-of-country grandmother for a while, and all the kids took to each other as if they'd just re-discovered old favorite toys.  I decided to cap off the week with the offer of chocolate ice cream cones--a much easier thing to pull off than, say, a BBQ--with two other neighborhood friends as well.  It was nice and sweet and chocolate-ty and now I have this to say:

I'm done. 

I've basically hit everything on my summer bucket list.  Road trip vacation, the pool, a trip up North, a fish fry with Amish, Mentos in a Diet Coke bottle, blueberry picking, and now ice cream.  If it hasn't been done by now, f---- it. 

My pedicure (the one I slopped on myself) is long chipped.  It was pool weather this week, so we went, but not with the same enthusiasm as the start of summer and the first heat waves.  We've lost a beach towel; swimsuits may be stretching out; sunscreen bottles are empty.  My phone had a text frenzy of weary mothers who are putting their kids to bed either waaaay too early because they are driving them crazy, or waaaaay too late because their parental resolve is dissolving. 

Back in July--when I was admittedly aghast that it was only July--I bucked up for a moment and created some bribery based system of getting my kids to do things like keep the house clean and practice their reading and math skills; it involved getting paper chain links.  I may have even masterminded getting some girls together for a reading group.  But now, the paper chain link is abandoned; I don't much monitor screen time.  My kids bust me rolling my eyes more than that chick from 50 Shades of Grey. I pretend not to hear questions like "what are we going to do today?"  Sister makes brother cry, and vice versa, for nonsensical reasons.  According to my Facebook account, 90% of the country is back in school.  The other 10% is feeding Pirate Booty and fruit snacks to their children for breakfast. 

I think we are all in agreement: it's time for the kids to go back to school.  Let's get on with it.

In our district, they like to wait until the 11th hour to let us know who their teachers will be.  Meanwhile, my kids have had their haircuts, their new shoes, some new clothes, and all their supplies, including those pesky strong magnets that Target never seems to sell.  My kids are playing nicely right now, but I don't think I'm alone to say this: wait much longer, and I might have an actual Hunger Games on my hands.

Yes, my children are precious little snowflakes, and I hope their teachers hold them dear and well.  I know I'll be excited to see them return off the bus that first day.  But I also hope those teachers are feeling re-charged and excited and organized, because that ship is sailing here.  I'm saving my last bit of strength, like a camels back-fat or that bit of chewed squid penguins hold in their throats, to get through a final week of doctor's appointments and a birthday party.  I'm counting on the teachers for that fresh-faced enthusiasm. 

It's your turn.  Here's the baton.  I think I'll go book myself a pedicure now.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Just One Question: So What Are Your Kids Doing?

These days, I have Stephen King's On Writing sitting by my bedside table.  I've read it before; mostly, right now I'm in a reading lull, so I just grabbed this book one random morning when I felt I needed something to read.  By in large, it's a good read, and a decent book about writing.  Okay, social media and blogging and what-not have taken over the world enough that it feels sufficiently dated in parts--worry about the paper you are printing your work on? why are you printing anything?--but the nuts & bolts part is still pretty solid.

In the meantime, in between time, a friend--okay, Pam again over at Starbucks--shot off a little link-a-doodle about "12 Musts of Blogging."  Currently, I follow about, err, zero of them.  Some are technicalities that I haven't gotten off my "to figure out" list.  Others are things like "be patient" and "be consistent" and "have a focus."  Not sure if I'm nailing any of those right now.

Why do I mention both this Bloggin Guru and Stephen King?  Well, it's that consistency thing.  Both seem to think I should be writing more often.

I'm gonna' make a bold call right now, which might just be an excuse:  I bet both these guys aren't the ones taking care of any kids in the house. 

I don't really know about Blogging Guru, but Stephen Kind mentions having two children in his book, and at least has the grace or good sense to make a passing comment about his wife's writing, saying that she'd have broken through if she had 2 more hours in the day, but she has the same 24 as everyone else.  (I believe Tabatha King may have some books out there--and surely, by now, she has some good connections, lol!--but King makes this comment discussing his early, not-yet-mainstream career.)

About 6 months after my daughter was born, I went to a local writing workshop entitled "Writing for Money," or something like that.  (I'm guessing the workshop made the money, at $100 a pop, but I was desperate to get out of the house and feel human, plus there was another published writer there I was stalking, and it was worth it: I managed to get one article published in a local parenting mag.  I think I broke even.)  The keynote speaker was Michael Ruhlman, a guy I'd call a "foodie writer," except really he writes about much more; non-fiction journalistic stuff that reads like a story.  Anyway, I sat next to him with my own copy of Soul of a Chef and had him sign it, so I was feeling pretty cool.  Soon after, he gave the keynote address.

Honestly, I don't remember much of it, lousy listener I must be!  I do remember him talking about his day.  It sounded pretty damn idyllic.  Do some yoga in the morning, have a nice breakfast, write for 4 or 5 hours, break to make an elegant lunch in gourmet kitchen with skills acquired from interviewing Thomas Keller, do a couple hours of revisions and marketing stuff, wind down with a cocktail and some nuzzling with the golden retriever.

Yes, I'm exaggerating.  Some. 

My day at the time looked something like this: Wake up.  Nurse baby and change.  Eat breakfast.  Try solids.  Fail.  Nurse baby.  Start laundry.  Put baby down for morning nap.  Do some transcription from random side-gig I'd picked up.  Baby up.  Nurse baby.  Stick baby in exer-saucer in bathroom and shower.  Get dressed.  Try feeding baby solids.  Eat peanut butter sandwich one handed.  Take call for side-gig.  Turn on the "Wiggles" while doing interview; eventually throw napkins at baby and make funny faces while finishing up on phone to keep her quiet.  Ignore mess of napkins on floor to go play with baby in family room.  Ignore mess of toys in family room and mess of napkins on floor to go fold laundry. 

I'm not exaggerating.  Nope.  Pretty much not. 

So I raised my hand during the Q&A time.  While other folks where asking all sorts of writer-ly questions like "how do you find your material" and "do you like adverbs?" and stuff, I asked this:

"Umm...you mentioned having two kids.  What are they doing during all this?"

I think he said they were in school or camp all day, or discreetly being nurtured by a sexy, off-stage au pair.  We had a brief back-and-forth on the age of his children, and the age of my baby.  Finally, Mr. Published Keynote Speaker said, "Oh, six months?  You won't really have a whole lot of time to write until your kids are around eight."

Eight.  I actually can't recall if that was the exact number, but it was something like that.  Basically, I got redeemed by a professional for claiming (okay, implying) that finding time to write was really, really challenging with young tots underneath.  So no, over the past 9-ish years, I haven't had the Stephen King/Blogging Guru discipline that these pros have advised.  I've been busy.  Raising a family.  But if you are a mother looking to find some time to write--maybe 15 minutes a week, say--here are some tips:

1.   Skip showering.  Your kids probably don't notice, and it's kind of over-rated.
2.   Skip blow-drying your hair or putting on makeup.  People don't see you when you write.
3.   Order pizza.  Cuts down on dinner prep.
4.   Ignore the laundry.
5.   Win the lottery.
6.   Let your kids watch Go Diego, Go!  (If you're really kickin' it, let 'em watch a few.)
7.   Install an iPad keyboard at your sink.  (Let me know how that works.)
8.   Pretend to "color" with your kids, but actually write.
9.   Have your kid dictate stories to you; sometimes they come up with stellar ideas.
10.  Fill the sink with water, pull up a stool, and let the kids have at it.  This will buy you up to 20 minutes.  It might destroy surrounding cabinetry, but hey, it's for your craft!

Until then, to all you genius mommies who periodically ignore their children to write find any time at all to write, kudos to you!  Keep it up--I'm sure you'll go viral or write a bestseller soon!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Grocery Shopping Half-Life

Note:  This is a vent.  Please, please, please do not take it as me slamming my kids.  I feel I have to leave that disclosure in case some Pollyanna-type, judgmental mom (or other) stops by.  They are good kids.  I'm just not always a perfect, zen-fully tuned in parent who does everything right.  Did I just write "not always"?  Wow...at the very least, that's sloppy writing!

Without further ado...

Do you ever get the upgraded or more expensive version of something, and then, one day, you have to go back to using the old version?  And then, that day, you discover the old version a million times more difficult to use than you remember? 

That's what grocery shopping was like for me this morning.  Because it's summer vacation now, and I have to shop with kids in tow.

It's not an exercise for the weak.  Which mean when you see moms doing it, they are actually being bad-asses. 

I think at one point, I had it down, this shopping with kids.  But school ruined it for me.  I started shopping with no kids.  Then, periodically, just with one.  Just one is really not too difficult.  In fact, I might actually prefer having one child for company, to chat with along the way and have an excuse to eat a donut on the spot.

I had both kids today.

It started off fine.  We stopped by the recycling place first.  They helped unload plastic bags.  Look at me--errands with kids are fun!  They help out happily!

Onto the grocery store.  The one that sells everything, because we need flip-flops for the pool.  They want to start there.  We all try on flip-flops.  We are all still happy.

We stop to check out the fish.  Still good here.

I decide to shop in the back first (the meat department), since it's close.  And who knows, maybe picking up produce last will feel nice and fresh and healthy!

Meat...meat...bacon...meat.  Wow, I'm obviously not a vegetarian, although ironically feeding animal protein to my children is actually quite difficult.  It's not that they truly want to be vegetarians; they really just want to eat nothing but crackers and granola bars.  Apparently, they think that's what vegetarians do.

Do we need beer or wine?  No.  We're good.

I pick up a weird amount of stuff in the frozen foods section.  Maybe because it's hot out?

Mustard, eggs, milk...ice cream cones!  Where are ice cream cones?  I don't see them on the little signs over the lanes.  Do we really need them?  I know I have too much ice cream at home, still leftover from an ice cream social.  Too many containers of strawberry for a family that would rather have chocolate.

Now my kids are asking for stuff.  Unhealthy stuff, of course.  Stuff they would eat if they became "vegetarians." The stuff that is sold in the those center aisles that health magazines tell me to avoid. 

I hate health magazines.  They should have a special place in hell.

Did I get milk?  Must have milk.

I buy the organic kind.  Because I guess the organic kind does weird stuff.  But my inner-cheapo hates paying more for organic.

My kids have started hanging onto the cart and doing some weird push-pull thing.

I don't believe I just passed the chocolate section and didn't buy some dark stuff for myself.  I like it.  The more I age, the more I believe I need it.

(I know what you're thinking: she also missed the wine.  Idiot!)

Fruit.  We need fruit and vegetables.  That's what good moms buy.  Good moms put out healthy snacks, like carrots and hummus.  That's what those parenting magazines suggest.

I hate parenting magazines.  They deserve a special place in hell.  Maybe next to the health magazines.

Deli.  I swear nothing looks appealing here, but I guess lots of people call this lunch.  My kids like salami.  Don't tell me it's not food.  I call it protein.

You know what organic food I really hate?  Organic strawberries.  They always show up high on the list of organic foods I should buy, but you know what?  I pay twice the price, and they end up half rotten in about 10 hours.

You're killing me, organic strawberries.

Stop pulling at my cart, kids.  Look at that mom: she has four kids--one strapped on her chest--and look how well they are behaving?  Of course, maybe she actually has a bottle of booze strapped to her chest.

Yeah, a parenting book would tell me not to say this.

Waxed paper.  Who needs waxed paper?  Except maybe me, to pre-make hamburger patties and freeze them.  Why did I miss that?  It's killing me to go backwards in the store.

I run over my son's foot.  Not too badly.  Sorry about that.  Yes, we are done.  Except we have to pay.

I find an aisle with only two old people in it.  I guess when I'm old, I'll survive off of nothing but cinnamon roles, a couple frozen dinners, and a plant. 

No, you are not getting candy.  Put it back.

I'm getting all bizarrely reflective as I stand in line and watch my items tally up on the register.  Grocery shopping is such a good metaphor for life.  Like for some crazy reason, I think if I buy enough, if I buy correctly, I shall never have to shop again.  Or at least for a really, really long time.  And surely, I shall not be clueless as to what to cook.

How often are we this way in life?  I've got a college degree, so surely, I'm set, and a wonderful, perfect job will fall on my lap.  But it doesn't, and you don't have everything figured out.  All that work and knowledge from college in your shopping cart of life?  Not enough.  You'll have to go back.

That nine months of pregnancy, all the books you read, that Lamaze class, and then, of course, the hours of labor?

Congrats--you're not done.  Not even close.  In fact, you've just started.

Beautiful wedding.  Just started.  Not done.

Hard workout?  You've guessed it: do it again tomorrow. 


Laundry!  Did I need to buy laundry detergent?

Sigh...I'll add it to the list or next time.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Summer Panic

Over at Soul Searching at Starbucks, Pam writes about having that great blog post in your head, but never getting it down.  Oh, I'm so with you!  As much as I love my kitchen sink (and I do; I seriously try to sell it to anyone considering a remodel), it is short a keyboard, which would be useful as I swear I write great blog posts (and other things) in my head while doing dishes.  Or emptying the dishwasher.   Both of which seem to happen a lot.

The school year has rounded up, and so Debbie here should be busy doing the ol' parenting thing, and it would seem that I should have somehow been super-woman of all things for the past few weeks, what with those final weeks of "FREEDOM!"  (Queue final scene of Braveheart...such a good movie, so why did Mel Gibson have to go so wacko?)  I had signed up for an online course in using Wordpress (a different blogging and website platform than this one), hoping to learn some technical things in my free time, and yet I've constantly been finding myself a lesson or two behind.  How could that be happening?  Working out seems to have taken a back seat, although now I remember I did sneak in a visit to my old college water-skiing buddy, and I'm happy to say that I can still ski.  And I believe I've cut my ginormous lawn a few times as to free up hubby's time to spread 15 yards of mulch.  Fun fun!  Who needs to work out, anyhow?  A couple "to do" lists laying around the house seem sufficient evidence that I've been up to something, the number of times I've showed up in my daughter's classroom DVD movie is telling, and I've got a sunburn on my chest for some reason or other.  In other words, I guess I've been busy, but the classic things I recall doing during some posh, kids-at-school lifestyle seem to be over.  Write? Work out?  Have dinner prepped by noon?  I'd laugh if I wasn't already tired.

I was excited for summer to be starting about two weeks ago, yet now that it's started, I'm suddenly already tired and wary. OMG, what if I can't do this parenting stuff anymore?  What will I do when they say "I'm bored?"  Do I really have to worry about "brain drain", or the gravitational pull kindles seem to have on my children?  What will I feed them when they are constantly hungry, and how do I grocery shop un-solo?  I forget.  And while the Country Bunny with the little gold shoes managed to convince her offspring to keep the house spic-and-span, I might need to wife-swap with that rabbit if I ever want to see neat-ness again.  I know, I know, the Daring Greatly book would say I'm foreboding joy or something, my mother would say to make a chart, and a good friend would mix me a drink and tell me to chill, dude, it's summer.

I'm circling choice "C", thank you very much.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Debbie...on Writing

Okay, so yesterday was my monthly writers' group.  I was under the gun.  I'd spent much of the past week or so, it seems, doing things like painting kitchen walls and trying to figure out how to print labels.  (I actually called the 800 Avery number for this.  I spoke with a very helpful Indian man.  I like to think of him as "Telephone Jesus," because I felt so calm after his help.)

And while writing a fresh entry on, say, Telephone Jesus would be more original, I'm simply gonna' cut and paste most of my late, dashed off submission for my writers' group.  Minus the first paragraph, which I found annoying.  Probably a lot more needs to be edited, but c'est la vie...

           My earliest memories of being a writer come from my school days, from when writing meant crafting a story below a picture you drew on that special paper with lines and dashes on it for big handwriting. 

            In the fourth grade, I wrote an Indian report.  (We’d call this a Native American report today.)  What stands out with this report is that it was the first piece of writing I did where I procrastinated.  A lot.  Apparently.  Or at least, based on all the drama I remember from the event, from a meeting in the hallway with my mom and teacher about it, from the crying I did over the “I” volume of the World Book Encyclopedia, my procrastination was a BIG DEAL.  This was supposed to be okay, as long as I “learned from my mistake.”

            I’m quite sure it’s not the last time I’ve procrastinated, though.

            In the sixth grade, I had a teacher named Mrs. Whelan who had a big bouffant, false eyelashes, and a charm bracelet that jingled every time she wiggled her finger in the air to point out a three syllable word.  She was big on building our vocabulary by having us employ ten three syllable words for every page of writing we did, and underlining them.  (Later in the year, she upped this to fifteen.)  I wrote a lot of things about unicorns with amethyst eyes; I imagine I used adverbs prolifically. 

            I don’t do this anymore when I write.  Not intentionally, anyhow.  If it happens, it happens.  If it don’t, it don’t.

            Although the three syllable rule seems a bit ridiculous now, I do have to extend some credit to Mrs. Whelan.  She pushed all of us to submit our stories to Cricket magazine contests, and so in the sixth grade, I won third place with a story about, well, a unicorn with amethyst eyes.  I was the first kid in the class to win something other than an honorable mention, and it was pretty exciting to be called down to the principal’s office for this news.  I still have the book that came along with the certificate; it’s still the only literary award I’ve received; and I’m still bitter that they didn’t publish third place, but they would have if it had been poetry.

            What angst.

            Somewhere in middle school, they started switching things up from fictional story writing to essays.  My writing slumped.  I wasn’t as good at this, and it wasn’t as fun.  You had to follow a five paragraph format and have an argument and supporting evidence and stuff.  This got more sophisticated in high school, when this formula, along with the important “thesis statement” reigned supreme as a way to put a cherry on the top of Romeo and Juliet or the like.  I typically found these papers painful to write—although not nearly as painful as geometric proofs—and sometimes, to vent frustration at the end, I would parody my own piece and read it to my brothers.  (Only if it was something I’d written on my dad’s old IBM computer.)

            Looking back, that has sort of a nerd-cleverness to it.

            By my senior year, I was in Advanced Placement Lit & Comp.  My teacher was Ms. Cook.  She wore preppy clothes and pretended to be German and had two signs posted in her classroom:  “So What?” and “Less is More.”  The first question was to prompt us to delve deeper into the significance of what we were writing, to encourage critical thinking.  The second was a way to get us to be more specific with details and examples.  This doesn’t sound like exciting stuff, but she was a good teacher, and I’m sure my analytical essay writing improved.  I know I got the highest score I could on the AP placement exam.

            Then college came.

            While I took the required freshman lit/comp class, the class that really made an impact was some random University Course entitled “Freedom, Identity, and Alienation,” or something like that.  The prof was some tenured psych guy who told us we had no reading requirements, homework, or writing assignments whatsoever.  Then he told us that he wanted us to become Readers and Writers. 


            He met with us individually in office hours, where he asked me about writing, and if I ever wrote “just for myself.”

            Again: Huh?

            I must have submitted a few random pieces of writing to him, because I remember him referencing them.  On the day of the last class, I wondered if, for this assignment-less class, I’d done enough, and wrote something.  I don’t recall what it was.  All I know is that on the way to class, I saw a trash can, and thought: if it really doesn’t matter for the grade, I can toss this.  So I did.  I shoved my paper in the trash.

            Somehow, that action was transformative.  I didn’t have to write for someone.  I didn’t have to write for a grade.  Writing was something internal, and personal.  Within.

            After the class was over, I started a journal.  For myself.  And I never looked back.
Do you like to write?  Need to write?  What may have shaped you?  Mike Myer's character would like you to "discuss among yourselves."


Monday, May 13, 2013

Watching Paint Dry

I've been painting recently.

Samples, to be exact.  For our kitchen wall.  On our kitchen wall.  On three different parts.  You know, to check them out in different lighting.

Three different colors.  Havana Cream, Banana Cream, and Hawthorne Yellow. 

They're all basically shades of yellow.  I can't tell the difference between Havana and Banana; I just know the latter has a better name.  Actually, it might be more cream than yellow.

Hawthorne Yellow looks like the yellow of our adjoining family room.  Pretty much.  Almost.  I can't quite say for sure, 'cause I'm still just working with samples.  I don't know if that's good or bad.  Or neither.

I think I like the Hawthorne best.  Maybe.  Sometimes I still like that Banana Havana.  Except when it looks a bit washed out.  But only on one wall, mostly.  Hard to say.

I keep telling myself: it's paint.  There's not really a right or wrong answer here.  Just pick one.

I like yellow in kitchens.  I think they look cheery.  Plus, I can pretend I'm at Panera Bread or something.  Minus someone serving me drinks and sandwiches.  I'd say I can pretend I'm at Starbucks, but they seem to be going green subway tile these days.

My favorite color is blue, by the way.  Sky blue.  I like the color the sky. 

Favorite colors are very important to children. 

My son is very confused as to why I am not painting the kitchen blue.  Or turquoise.  (I did paint the laundry room a light blue.  Okay, technically, my husband painted it.)  I spend a lot of time in the laundry room.

I understand my son's confusion.  Why would I not pick my favorite color for our kitchen?  Or, for that matter, everything?  Shoes, cars, clothes...the exterior of houses...maybe only eat foods that are my favorite color?  (All I can think of is blueberries and candy, so I bet I'd be malnourished.)

He wants the kitchen to be about 10 million different colors, all bright and fun.

Maybe this would be called Acid Trip Everything.

I'll pick some yellow.  Havana or Banana or Hawthorne. 

Maybe adults are just really boring.

Update: I've bought a gallon of Benjamin Moore's Hawthorne Yellow.  I've edged out the kitchen (quite nicely, if I might add!)  I'm still driving myself crazy: Is it looking a rich, funky cafĂ© golden yellow...or is it too mustard-y?  I like it now--now I'm not sure.  Is it the light?  Am I looking at it too hard?  Will I have a better idea when I'm done?  I thought "color consultant" was some made-up, b.s. type of job.  Now I'm not so sure.  I may be both boring and insane. 

I know...you're dying for a photo:)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Lookin' Beautiful

It's that time of year again: People Magazine has put out it's 50 Most Beautiful publication, and Gwyneth Paltrow has taken top billing

Apparently, the internet is all a-twitter about this.  Ms. Paltrow is, it turns out, as reviled as she is pretty. When stories (and maybe a cookbook?) about how you only eat non-dairy, gluten-free, grass-fed bark fill cyberspace, and you're already rich, thin, and blonde, well...haters are gonna hate.  Still, if Chris Martin wants to show up at my house and tap out the opening measures of Clocks whilst Gwennie and I sit atop the baby grand and braid each other's hair, I won't stop it.  Hey, we all have our fantasies.  Let me have mine.

My problem isn't that Gwennie is rockin' this year's People's Most Beautiful cover.  It's that, once again, they didn't pick me.  Yes, me. 

You may not know this about me, but I'm beautiful...so stunning, that if I uploaded a picture of mine to prove it, my computer would likely crash, imploding on itself like a hardware Trojan Wars.  Or, maybe I don't post 'cause I can't actually find a good pic of myself.  Let's not get hung up on technicalities.

Mostly, I'd love to be picked by People magazine so that they could interview me about my beauty regime.  Nobody ever asks me about it.  Ever.  Shocking, I know.

So, here it is:

I look like shit most of the time.  Then, when I do clean up, it's such a stark difference, people notice.

Consider the logic: assuming I'm not one of those young, freshly pretty faces than pull of anything--like a messy "top knot" and oversized coveralls--and still look adorable as opposed to borderline insane, this strategy is perfect.  I don't wake at 5 a.m. to shower and "coif" my hair and "put on my face."  Last time I woke at 5 a.m., it was to feed a baby, and you bet your bottom dollar I crawled my ass back into bed after that.  Heck, with my colicky first-born, 5 a.m. until about 9 a.m. was about the only time I could maybe catch some uninterruped zzz's.  I sure as hell wasn't going to use that time to put on an anchorwoman's face for a being who couldn't registered clear images beyond 12 inches.  Or for the grocery store cashier, who bless her minimum wage heart, probably isn't going through this routine, either.  (An exception may be this tall, thin, African American woman who works at the Target by my house, who should so just go on America's Next Top Model and be done with it.)

I know, stay-at-home moms are fodder for fashion show make-overs and what not, but I really don't have a problem looking like crap once in a while.  Grubby looking people are like Tina Fey's bitches: We get stuff done.  I'm much more likely to do things like work out, tend a sick child, put together a casserole, or clean a toilet when I'm un-done.  Sure, none of this is glamorous, but guess what?  It's life, and someone's gotta do it.  If I gussy myself up 8 a.m., no merry maid or nanny is gonna strut in 5 minutes later just to allow me to sit pretty for the rest of the day.  If I want to get anything done, it's practically imperative that I keep on my hobo clothes.  (And for the record, I can write just as well in yoga pants as in dress pants.)  Then I get to take my shower and apply some makeup, the latter of which is a total gift since the kiddos are now in school.  (When kids are constantly underfoot, showering in itself becomes questionable.)

So what's my point?  Ouch, it suddenly seems like I have one, when I really just wanted to toss out that Coldplay fantasy.  So I guess it's this: beauty, style, all that...it really is skin deep.   Don't go all martyr-y and forgo getting yourself a decent haircut or whatever, but if you really think life is some constant fashion show, then I ask you this: What model do you think will be changing your bedpan someday?

Beauty, after all, should be from the inside.  In which case, obviously, Katie Couric should be on the cover, because I hear she has a great colon.

Then again, I bet Gwenyth has a great colon, what with all that detoxing she does, in which case, okay People, you made the right call.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Lake Rules

Happy Friday!  While I haven't actually decided on a particular date or time or quantity of posting, today feels good for that. 

I don't know if other bloggers do this--or writers, for that matter--but I often go through the day "writing" things in my head.  Yeah, yeah--I know this ultimately counts for nada unless I actually get pen to paper (or keyboard to Word, or whatever.)  The problem with this is that sometimes I think I have good ideas, and then by the time I sit down, everything fizzles.  Also, as an aside, I wonder if other people think this way.  I have a friend whose dad is a mathematician, and apparently he would go through the day thinking through math problems.  So maybe not.

Either way, I figure my blog title is already a misnomer: What (a) Debbie Does.  What I actually do is typically pretty boring.  But I have this crazy notion that if I, I don't know, put something out there that I might actually try doing--I'm thinking one of those "out of my comfort zone" ideas--I might feel commited to actually going through with it, so I don't look like an idiot.

Yeah, still waiting to be gutsy over here.

In the meantime, my mom visited this week.  By visited, I mean she only lives 30 minutes away, and it was a short stay.  She was supposed to stay for her grandchild's music concert, but apparently some music teacher was busy heaving her guts out, and so it was cancelled.  Bummer.  But my mom got to do her favorite visiting thing: Use my computer! 

I remember watching her periodically type things when I was a child.  I really don't recall it being the  slow, painful, typo-backspace process that it is today.  But damn, seems like she's all opposable thumbs on the keyboard these days.  (She was never some Joan Harris secretary type.)  And what was she so busy typing?  Why, "Rules for the Lake!"

(Okay, Mom, what can I say: I immediately feel like parodying your rules.  I do love you, I mean no disrespect, but I just can't look a blogging gift-horse in the mouth. 

Also, "the Lake" would be a summer home that just transferred from my grandparents to my mom this fall.  She's in a tizzy about it.  Re-written rules should help, though.)

Here's the original:

  • Windows and blinds closed.
  • Dishwasher empty
  • Waste baskets and trash empty. Trash at the road Sunday night.  Pick up on Monday.
  • Refrigerater- perishables taken home
  • Tidy up . If needed vacuum and mop floors.
  • Towels and sheets washed as needed.
  • Bathrooms- wipe sink, floor, shower with Pinesol or Bathroom cleaner.
  • Beach towels drying in garage or put in basket in garage if dried.
  • Lock up.  Hope everyone had fun.
Pretty basic stuff; Mom included a bunch of white space, in case we're reading them tipsy.  But let's consider this spiffed up version:
  • Close the windows and blinds when you leave.  You should be done enjoying the breeze and spying on the neighbors by then.
  • Don't leave the dishwasher full of dirty, nasty dishes.  While you're at it, don't leave stinky beer cans around.  I didn't raise you in a barn, and all that.
  • Ditto with garbage...no barn raising, etc.
  • Food: if you're going to leave it, please put everything in smaller containers.  I really like that.  Special bonus points if you repackage liquor in Tupperware! Also, leave crackers and cookies poorly sealed; stale snacks are a tradition around here. 
  • You might not vacuum much at home, but guess what: these are Mom rules!  Use the vacuum. 
  • Strip the beds and wash them if you've had crazy, nasty sex in them.  So what if they've "only been slept in once."
  • Make sure you don't leave ugly globs of toothpaste in the sink.  "Dab" the room with Pinesol so it smells all clean.
  • Leave dry beach towels in the garage.  Be gentle with them; they're vintage.
  • Lock up--you all had fun, right?


Monday, April 8, 2013

Thank you's (and other balls-y things)

Now here's that awkward blog I write where I freak out that I actually shared this with a few folks.  Well, thank you.  Thank you if you read, and thank you if you commented.  Even if the comments weren't very nice.  Although they were.  Even if the comments were things like "I won't read this unless for some reason I know you've posted," (err...annoying self promotion on facebook? Some sort of subscription button somewhere?) or "I'd comment, but it's frickin' confusing...it tells me I need a freaky Google profile or PhD or something."  Yes, I know.  My technical skills right now are waaaay lacking...probably worse than my proofreading.  (Dan Draper?  It's Don Draper.)  However, I did dork around a bit with the comments section, so maybe it's easier for lay people.  Or spammers.  We'll see.

Yep, now that I think someone might actually read this, I'm wondering if it's worth writing several paragraphs about how cake pops are the killjoy of cake balls.  I'm thinking not.  It's obvious: anything with the word "balls" in it is funny, especially if Alec Baldwin is doing the talking.  Pop a stick in it, and you've just turned it into some sort of suburban mommy birthday project.  And trust me, I now know a little bit about this.  And no, I am not the neighborhood vasectomy go-to gal.

But as we're talking about birthdays, mine is coming.  It's the big 4-0.  Yeah me.  And now I will steal a little trick from Pam at Starbucks and post a bit from an essay I wrote recently that was once published, well, nowhere.  So I'm giving it to you for free!  Yes, free!  You can thank me later.

Reflections as 40 Approaches...

 I remember my mom turning 40, and I remember her acting like it was some big deal, and me finding this rather random.  Why was 40 so important?  Hmm.  Why not 25?  Or 30?  Or 50—that’s a nice round half a century, after all. 

 But she seemed set on 40 being important, and my dad played along.  He bought her a TV for her bedroom.  It had a remote, so Mom could watch shows right from bed without having to get out!  Woot woot!

 Although one might suppose increased life-expectancies would adjust how we feel about alleged “milestone” birthdays, 40 seems to have stuck.  It still seems random.  At 18, we can vote.  At 21, we can legally drink.  At 35, we get more testing if we become pregnant.  We might get an AARP card or something when we turn 50—not there yet--and it’s still a nice half-a-century number. 

 I’m not sure what you get at 40.  A mammogram? 

 Not only does it still seem to be some “big deal” of an age, it actually seems to be a bigger deal.  A generation ago, you got to chill out in bed with a remote; now I have to be “fabulous.”  I know that sounds like a good thing, but it also sounds like a lot of effort.  What’s fabulous enough?  My husband takes me to dinner?  A few friends at the bar?  A backyard extravaganza replete with hothouse flowers and twinkly lights?  Taking a pole dancing class in heels and posting this photo on Facebook?

  Am I supposed to have a “midlife crisis,” or am I supposed to have achieved a bunch of brag-worthy feathers in my cap, like having a book on a best-seller list, or being a founder of something-or-other?  I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to have my living room furnished by now, but it’s still a toy-strewn warzone with a desk that used to be my grandma’s.

 Am I supposed to be “mentoring” someone?  When I was 20, I had this fantasy that a successful, warm, loving 40 year old would take me “under her wing” and “show me the ropes.”  Actually, I think I just wanted somebody to hand me some fantasy job with a smile.  But 40 year old women—oh, hell, even successful 30 year olds if they were tall with shiny bobs and wore black pantsuits—scared the hell out of me.  When they passed me in the hall, they rarely smiled, and if they were “successful”, they had a reputation for being bitchy and snappy and never stopping to chat.  They were probably actually just really, really busy, but I didn’t have children at the time, so I had a minimal understanding of what “busy” meant.  I had lots of time to mull over situations.  I was Taylor Swift, wondering why they weren’t helping me, and they were Tina Fey, passing me briskly and thinking “Um, why are you bothering me? I’m just doing my job, and now I need to call my nanny and figure out if my child is stranded someplace, or has a ride back from daycare.  Will I miss taking little Phoebe to her swim lesson and have to send her with the neighbor again—oh God, I’m such an awful mom!” 

Ultimately, I had kids, and didn’t go the working mom route—no thanks to you, non-helping, non-existent 40 year old mentor lady!—so this has saved me the guilt route.  This does seem to put some pressure on me to somehow be an extraordinary stay-at-home mom and homemaker, thereby forcing me to channel “success” through my children, and, worse yet, even use the word “homemaker” in this sentence.  I feel like I fell asleep during some feminist movement.  Sorry about that, bra burning ladies; babies make you tired!

 I hear 40 actually is the new 20—or something like that.  Does this make 60 the new 40?  Will I have to be sexy at 60, or something?  Do I need to find a successful, warm, loving 60 year old to take me under her wing?  Am I supposed to take a 20 year old under mine?  What am I supposed to show her?  And if 40 is the new 20, what does that make 20?  And who is inventing this crazy new math, anyhow?

 No wonder my mom just wanted a TV.

 Pass me the remote.

What do you think about this fabulous and 40 business?  Or, alternately, cake pops and balls?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Lazy Song

It looks like I'm relaunching my blogging efforts: I've recruited a reader.  I think.  After shoving this blog-thing aside sometime back in January, when life was about to divert me in other ways (or, possibly, I just got lazy), I decided to mention this to some live human beings.  Enter Pam, over from Soul Searching at Starbucks.  She's written "you could start a blog" a few times in the margins of essays we submit back-and-forth in a little writers' group, acknowledging that the local-get-your-essay-in-print market is lookin' a little dry these days.  (Or, again, maybe I'm just lazy.)

Speaking of lazy, that's how I feel today.  Monday is typically a highly motivating day for me (yes, I know it's now Wednesday...yo, actually posting is hard, dog!) I scoot the kiddos off to school, and with the home alone, I get to business.  I work out; I prep meals; I grocery shop; I launder and clean; I do spy-espionage toy bagging; I clear out cupboards and drawers of mystery goods!  Oh, I'm such a sparkly good domestic goddess on Mondays!

Or that's the plan.

Something usually knocks me off this plan, like a surprise visit from my mom, who brings me a new bedspread and valance and says "let's put it up now!" and then makes some comment about how I need to "insist" my tall husband scrunch the high-up valance just-so, because "that's what makes a house homey."  Right-O.  'Cause I thought is was having some clean laundry and clearing the floor of Legos. 

Rather than blame my mom (although this is entirely what people of my generation do, for cryin' out loud!), I should admit that I am either too ambitious on Mondays, or too drawn to fun distractions like internet surfing and slow-pokey grocery shopping.  To be fair, I think I was this way in the actual paid work force; I remember writing a crisp to-do list on Mondays, thinking I'd knock through it in one day, only to scratch off one or two things by 5 o'clock.  By Friday, I'd often adopted a f___ it attitude.

Today, I seem to have adopted it early.  I mean, I feel like I now have one reader to take care of!  So of course I'm leaving the groceries just hanging-out on the kitchen counter.  (Except for the perishable ones; I'm lazy, not crazy!)

I'll make a real "to-do" list tomorrow. 

And then I'll probably ignore it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Why Blogs (and blogging) Freaks Me Out

Okay, since I just professed my love for reading blogs, I've decided to take a look at the flip side: why blogs freak me out a bit.  This will likely be shorter.

1.  I feel like I'm stalking someone.
I mean, isn't it weird to feel like you "know" someone simply because you read their blog?  Why am I reading stuff about someone I don't even (technically) know.  That's just weird.  Right?  Except that I know tons of people must do it--that or some bloggers have a lot of friends.  Like 100's, based on comments. 

Conversely, reading a book never feels weird of freaky or stalky.  Even if it's a really personal memoir.  Go figure.

(I think--and perhaps this is obvious--it's the fact that you can't do all that commenting stuff.)

2.  I feel like I'm wasting time.
Probably because I am.  But I swear I'll only check it out really quickly!

3.  What if I become some weird, out of touch with reality person?  You know, because I'm ignoring real people while I check out what someone else is making their family for dinner.

...that's on the reading side.  From the writing angle:

1.  Umm...why am I letting complete strangers know things about me?  Seriously, I'm kind of private. 

2.  What if I sound like a twit?

3.  Self-promotion is weird and uncomfy.  I'd love for someone to actually read and comment and--gasp!--follow, but, see point "2" above.

4.  What if someone starts stalking me?  That's why I'm totally on board with people who never name their husbands, children, or pets by name.  I also try to refrain from mentioning these things:  my longitude and latitude, references to eating carbs (just in case I live in the last state which still does this), where anyone in my family works (or doesn't), the weather, political ongoings, non-chain restaurants, my mother's maiden name, the name of my first pet, my porn star name, my first car, my car I drive right now, or any sort of trendy exercises I may do.  You know, if I happen to exercise at all.

Wait, did I totally give it away with that carbs thing?  Hmm...maybe I don't eat carbs.  A little mystery is a good thing.


Blogs I Like

I like blogs.  That could be why I've attempted to start my own...a few times.  I like blogs because I like reading, and blogs are much, much better than your average magazine article.  Some magazine articles are fine, but most have the following problems:

a) They basically don't exist.  The magazine is all ads.  (In an aside, I actually have my MBA, which means I've sat in business classes.  I knew I was a big ol' misfit that one day when the prof asked "why do magazines exist?"  Some other student promptly answered "to seel advertising."  My thought: What?!?!?  They are not for nice little writers to write nice little articles?)

b) They are way, way too short and trite.


c) They are way too serious and earnest.  This is absolutely fine if the topic is serious and earnest, and the writer truly cares.  But most are serious and earnest and pretty in a "look how pulled together I am" way that is dishonest.  (Mostly in parenting magazines.  Ugg.)  Blogs don't seem to role this way, or at least the ones I like to read.

So, without further ado, blogs I like to waste time reading:

A Little Pregant:  http://www.alittlepregnant.com
Written by someone named Julie, whom I've never met, and I suspect I never will.  She's a biggy in the mommy blogosphere.  I found her back when I was "trying" (to have kids) and it wasn't happening as quickly as sex-ed teachers had led us to believe.  She's the real deal in infertility, and her brilliance is how incredibly honest, vulnerable, and funny she is at the same time.   I rarely check her blog out anymore, but it's a good one. 

Smitten Kitchen:  http://smittenkitchen.com/
You'd think because I read this I'm actually awesome in the kitchen.  I'm not.  Cold day in hell I'llbe making my own goldfish crackers.  But somehow, because the blogger--Deb Pearlman--is honest and passionate and humorously self-depreciating, it works.  So I read it.  And drool.

Soul Searching at Starbucks:  http://soulsearchingatstarbucks.blogspot.com/
I read this because I actually know Pam.  I've even met up with her at Starbucks!  That kind of makes us awesome, doesn't it?  And her writing is fun and witty, and I promise she'll respond to your comments...at least until she goes totally viral and gets a million followers, then I'm not so sure.  But that will make me all the cooler for having Starbucked it with her.  (That's a verb, right?)

Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures:  http://crappypictures.com/
The title says it all.  Simple, funny, brilliant.  I wish I had thought of it first. 

Jason Good: http://jasongood.net/
He also does stand-up, but his pieces are sharp, insightful, funny.  Crappy pictures led me over to him.

People I Want to Punch in the Throat:  http://www.peopleiwanttopunchinthethroat.com/
OMG...she just posted today about the Golden Globes.  Must rush over and waste more time...Again, Crappy Pictures led me here.  Notice a pattern?  Curse you, Crappy Pictures!

Hooked on Houses.  http://hookedonhouses.net/  Apparently, I have some sort of nesty/house-wifey streak in me, as in conjuction with "Smitten Kitchen", you'd think I have a lovely, well-tended home and tasty, homemade meals all the time.  As if.  Man, is this one a fun time waster for a person who would rather look at nice homes than clean their own.  Honestly, I think I found this so I wouldn't get addicted to Pinterest, but I'm really not coming out ahead.

If there is a uniting theme among these blogs, it's this: the people write them with passion.  Most also have a theme or focus, however loose it may be, and have developed a nice "voice."  None of these bloggers take themselves too serious, even if they are seriously passionate about homes or food or their families or writing.  Many have hit it  "big", but I don' think most of them ever thought they would, so they still feel "real." 

And that's why I love blogs.

Perhaps next, I'll write about "Why Blogs Kind of Freak Me Out."