Saturday, December 16, 2006


What are these words?


Without knowing, I might guess they’re the names of some unknown countries located anywhere but North America. But as it happens these were some of the kindergartners in the class I subbed for the other day. Interestingly, the class comprised an accurate ethnic snapshot of my town: maybe 60% white, 25% black, 10% Hispanic, 5% Asian.

Growing up in a predominantly white town in the 60s (meaning, there were NO discernible blacks living within Wenonah’s proper tony borders), we had no idea about blacks. Oh sure, we’d see them in the supermarket, or sometimes driving by in cars, but we didn’t know where they came from. They were very mysterious. We later learned they lived in Jericho, right across the road from Wenonah, and we talked about Jericho in hushed tones. It seemed odd even then that one road cleanly separated white from black.

Then some black kids joined the party. They moved to Wenonah, but they lived on the farthestmost street in town: the street right next to Jericho. We weren’t quite sure what to make of them at first. They were a novelty, which made them immediately popular. And they had 60s-era, whitebread names: Bruce, Mike, and Sheila.

In a totally white town, we could have given these kids a headache. But after the novelty wore off, their color simply didn’t seem to matter, right through high school and beyond.

Nowadays it seems like, hard as we try, color still does matter. Kids are brought up embracing their culture of origin, and rightly so. But sometimes kids are the unfortunate victims of bad or absent parenting, perhaps falling under the influence of their ne’er-do-well peers, and color becomes a divisive issue that stays with them.

So when Remy spouted off the “N-“ word the other day in school, we all had something to learn. More later.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Mr. B

My brain is foggy now, as headsnot and viral interlopers have taken over its functioning. Yeah, that's right: my previously superior immune system is now fighting off whatever stupid cold my family spread around. It's doing a pretty good job so far. I've got a big ol' turkey carcass simmering on the stove, so I can make turkey soup: clinically proven to reduce cold symptoms. I'm guessing turkey and chicken are interchangeable.

While we're mired in a 13-day shopping frenzy, for the true meaning of the Christmas spirit, I need look no further than Mr. B, my auto mechanic.

I took my van in for a winter tune-up a few weeks ago. When I got it back, I noticed it was hesitating and idling roughly, and when I gunned the engine there was a pop under the hood. Like a small explosion. I let it go on for a week or two, hoping it would work itself out, which is my reaction to any potential unpleasant confrontation with humans or auto mechanics or salespeople. Not surprisingly, it didn't work itself out. So I took it back to Mr. B.

I politely explained that this problem started after they had previously worked on it. They said they'd take a look at it. After two days, they still couldn't figure out what the problem was and kept it over the weekend.

Finally, yesterday Mr. B called and said he'd gone in over the weekend and fixed it. No charge.

I'm cynical, so I assumed this was just a way for him to sound like a nice guy, and knowing that if he offered to do it for free (in fact, fixing what they kinda screwed up in the beginning) I would jump in and say, no, no, let me give you something for your trouble. And then he would be a doubly nice guy by refusing it. What a manipulative jerk.

Which is exactly how it played out.

I went in and offered him some money. He refused it. Manipulative jerk!

"But you came in over the weekend!" I argued.

"Yeah, but I do that sometimes."

"But you're an independent businessman. You can't go giving away your services for free!"

What the hell is wrong with me? He fixed my van for free, it took a lot of his time, it required parts, and I'm telling him how to run his business and trying to give him money when I don't have to. Who's the manipulative jerk now?

" pick and choose who you do that for. You're a good customer, and you've spent a lot of your hard-earned money here. So, that's what I do. Merry Christmas."

I lamely tried one more time, gesturing my arm forward, check in hand. "You sure?"


So, Mr. B is in fact a very nice guy. I think he digs me. I graciously accepted the win, thanked him profusely, shook his greasy hand and left, knowing that even though Mr. B won this round, I'll get back at him next week with a big tray of cookies.

Thanks again, Mr. B.

Friday, December 08, 2006

it's hot or it'snot

I wonder how many times I have to say "I have a superior immune system" before some serious illness knocks me completely off my feet, perhaps horizontally into a coffin.

It'll probably be necrotizing fasciitis. I'm pretty sure of that. Or some kind of killer staph infection. Whatever it is, it'll be unexpected. Maybe I'll be plowed under by a meteorite or run over by a train or something.

I simply don't get whatever "bug" is going around, whether it's flu or some intestinal disorder. The heart disturbance doesn't count, because that's an electrical issue unrelated to the immune system.

This week my entire family has been bogged down by a cold. They're all coughing and hacking and sneezing and generally blowing their germs all over the house. Meanwhile, I'm walking around gloating about my superior immune system.

"It's true," I tell the boys. "I didn't get sick much as a kid because of my superior immune system. And I still don't! Yay for me, because then who would take care of you? That's right: moms can't get sick. That's because we have an adaptive genetic mechanism that inhibits bacterial and viral growth!"

Fortunately, my kids don't get sick often, and they rarely vomit. I hate vomiting more than anything. I'd rather change an exploding diaper than clean up vomit. Each instance of my kids' vomiting is permanently etched into my brain (years ago, Remy vomited at the doorway of Olga's diner, just before we walked inside. We went in to inform them of the mess. We did not actually eat there. They felt bad for him, and gave us donuts to take home. Nothing like a dozen deep-fried, sugar-laden donuts to settle one's stomach.)

So I'll continue to thank my lucky stars--or errant meteorites--for my superior immune system. And just for good measure, I think I'll avoid Taco "would you like some hot or mild e-coli for your burrito?" Bell.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

what's that smell?

I woke up this morning and noticed my palms smelled like potatoes.

Is that just me?

Is this that "old person" smell that I keep hearing about?

I understand old people might develop that musty old person smell because they probably don't bathe as frequently. Or maybe they don't get out as much, get fresh air...or their skin dries's kind of gross, thinking about what happens to your body as you get older. I'm sorry I started. But I DO bathe regularly, I get out every day, my skin is just normal skin. So what gives?

My goal now, for when I'm officially an old person, is to smell like violets and Ivory soap. I'll bathe every day, even if I can only manage a T & A. I'll wear a hidden sachet in my bosom and spray room freshener on my privates. Whatever it takes.

I'm not going out smelling of potatoes.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

frozen in time

I remembered today that I never posted the photographer's pictures from my Cape May photo shoot, so I'll throw these on. If these are the best, then I suck. Ya see how far away I am? There's a reason for that. "Yeah, could you cover your entire head with a scarf? And while you're at it, throw these sunglasses on. Damn, don't we have a spare burqa lying around we could use? No? Ok, now, I'm going to back up about 10 feet and take your picture upside down so you're virtually unrecognizable. And this one? Yeah, could you please NOT look directly at the camera? Thanks. Yeah, that's right, like you're looking out at the ocean! Sure! Now, I'll just back up here another 12 feet or so...

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Not that anyone was asking for them--in fact, most people head screaming for the hills when faced with my picture--but in reviewing photos from my niece's wedding, I'm once again reminded of how truly unphotogenic I am, and it's gotten worse as I've grown older because, well, I've gotten uglier.

This isn't me feeling sorry for myself, I'm just stating a fact. Most people get uglier when they get old. Women get chin whiskers and warts and jowls and their eyebrows disappear. Spare me the bullshit about being beautiful inside and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yeahyeahyeah. We all know what looks good and what doesn't.

My niece had maybe a thousand or more pictures to go through online. I read Corinthians at the ceremony, so the photographer was more or less obligated to take some shots of me. It was windy, so my hair was blowing all over the place, plus I wore this ridiculously short dress. The result, of course, is that every single picture of me sucks completely.

Now, I'd like to think it's my animated, expressive personality that resists getting frozen in time, given my fear of commitment. If someone takes a picture of me explaining to my boys why George Bush is an idiot, he's probably going to wind up with a picture of me with one eye shut, arms flailing, teeth gnashing, wrinkles and jowls and zits all clamoring for the spotlight.

But something about freezing one moment in time in a photograph spooks me a little, just like it did to people 100 years ago. Every photo steals a little something from your live soul. One fleeting glance at your life, at the image you project to others, with no chance to change it or take it back. So many of those frozen moments are particularly unflattering to me that it makes me wonder what do people see when they see me?

But then again: maybe I simply just look like crap in pictures. In real life, I'm much better. Check the video.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I think my boys have finally caught on to the fact that I'm a woman. When I'm playing softball, or most recently, basketball, they'll snicker and say "bah-BUM, bah-BUM, bah-BUM, bah-BUM"...

While I'm kind of offended by this, it's funny at the same time. I mean, my kids are looking--and laughing--at my tits.

That can be a bit of a problem, when my immature sense of humor intersects with theirs. E was watching Scary Movie 4 this weekend, and there's one scene in which Charlie Sheen's penis grows to immense proportions and out of control, propelling him out a window to the street below, where he appears impaled by it. I was on the puter at the time and happened to look out at the movie, and while it was a really, really stupid scene--every adult, mature bone in my body told me to stop watching this, this is stupid--E caught me laughing at it.

"Mommm! You think that's funny?!"

"Uh, no. No I don't."

"But you're laughing!"

"Yeah? So?"

"Well then you think it's funny."

"No. Just, uh, something here on the puter made me laugh."

"You thought it was funny."


Hard to tell who's the child from that conversation.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

greetings from earth, chris

This is just an acknowledgement of the first anniversary yesterday of Chris Whitley's death.

Taste in music is a funny thing; you like what you like, you can't always explain why you like it. Sometimes you like music that seems to run totally counter to what you think you should like.

When I was about 12 or so, one of my favorite songs, one that actually made me weep, was "I Need You," by America. I cringe now to think that I liked it, but hey. It's a pretty song, and it was 1972. That's why those of us who were teenagers in the 70s are so schizophrenic in our musical tastes: we went from Bread's "Guitar Man" in '72, to Aerosmith's "Dream On" in '73 to the era of disco with Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby" in '75, to Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" in '77. In five years!

This explains why we needed a wide variety of liquor and drugs to accompany the variety of music. Pink Floyd on acid? Great. Pink Floyd on crank? Not so much.

Since then, musical trends have come and gone, and say what you will about a lot of the crap that came out of the was probably the most musically diverse decade ever.

But sometimes, something sticks. An artist, a take it into your soul, and you love it always. In the early 70s, for me, that would have been Elton John...before he started wearing the stupid platforms and glasses. I can't stand him now.

In the 90s and beyond, that artist was Chris Whitley. With his bluesy voice and sexually charged songs, he provided the musical accompaniment on my hump island. (If you were a guy and you took a gal to see a CW show, you'd have no trouble getting laid afterward.) We shook hands once, and if I'm not mistaken, which I probably am, we had significant eye contact on the street before a show at the Tin Angel.

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His songs can be difficult, esoteric, filled with metaphor and philosophical challenges that are beyond the reach of the mainstream. Sometimes beyond my reach.

But he wrote and sang and played guitar with soul and a depth of conviction that seemed not of this world. He was an artist who stayed true to himself, and did not roll over and conform simply to sell records. Which is why he didn't sell many.

But that wasn't the point.

He profoundly affected my appreciation of music in general, and his sound reaches in and pounds my heart and nourishes my soul. He got inside me and set up camp inside my bones and visits me still.

He was my age, and he died young. I think he knew he would:

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"There's a dirt floor underneath here
To receive us when changes fail.
May this shovel loose your trouble;
Let them fall away.

Well the mist shall be your blanket
While the moss shall ease your head.
As the future is soon forgotten;
As the dirt shall be your bed."

--Dirt Floor

I miss you, Chris.

Monday, November 20, 2006

lost in the supermarket

Often I go grocery shopping late at night...I prefer it because there aren't many other people shopping at, say, 11pm on a Sunday night. My fear of the supermarket (not a fear, really; perhaps an unease) stretches back decades, and the only reason I can come up with that it makes me uncomfortable is the residual feeling of shopping while stoned.

Not that I was stoned a lot back in the day. That wasn't really my thing; pot made me too sleepy and stupid. I can manage that quite nicely without narcotic intervention.

I do remember feeling vaguely claustrophobic back then. People were EVERYWHERE. And they were all in my way. And then there were all those choices I had to make! It's worse now; there are a lot more brands and reconfigurations of the exact same thing (Now New and Improved! Now Even Better! Same Thing, Just New Packaging! Don't Be Alarmed!). Whatever happened to me in the supermarket 30 years or so ago left a lasting imprint on my brain.

But last night, I decided to try something different. I took the ipod. The first four songs that played took me back to my teen years: "Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" by Traffic; "Day After Day" by Badfinger; " "Love Song" by Elton John; "Down by the River" by Neil Young. (I really do have lots of songs from the 21st century on the ipod, really, I do; please, I'm not ready to die yet...)

The effect? I completely zoned. I sang along. Sometimes it was hard to concentrate.

I grew rebellious and goofy. I moved the expired yogurt to the front of the case, and wrote a little note to alert people that they expired. I cringed at Rachel Ray's perky, greedy, smiling face on the box of Triscuits, and wrote "EAT ME!" on the box and left it on the shelf. I finally plodded my way to the checkout.

Whoa. I had been there for 2 hours. How the hell did THAT happen?

Like I was stoned again. Maybe they oughta outlaw ipods.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

sara's on drugs

E finally had his first paying gig yesterday, shooting an industrial for some new ADHD medication. He was not selected as the ADHD victim, but served in a more honest capacity as one of the rowdy boy classmates.

About a dozen kids were involved in the shoot, and they had a great time, throwing spitballs at the pretend teacher, teasing "Sara," the poor misunderstood ADHD gal, playing kickball...just like a real school day except they got paid, and rather handsomely too. Hopefully it will be soon be floating around on an internets near you!

It was an all-day shoot, so parents sat in the holding area of the school and made small talk. I view these types of days (similar to an all-day, all-weekend, excruciatingly-boring-until-your-own-kid-is-swimming swim meet) as a good opportunity to read a book, rather than actually attempt to be civil to strangers.

I started the day trying to finish Bobos in Paradise, by David Brooks. I couldn't do was basically just the same sentence over and over again, about how the new bourgeois bohemians have taken over the country. Who cares. So I put that aside and started The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs; one man's journey through the entire Encyclopaedia Brittanica. It's pretty funny so far, easy reading. Seems like I can't pick up a book these days without some kind of guarantee that it will make me laugh.

Afterward I regaled E with my story as an extra in Age of Innocence. To sum it up: Daniel Day-Lewis has a huge throbbing blood vessel on the right side of his forehead. And Winona Ryder is a teeny tiny little bitchy teacup.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

make it stop!

I like SpongeBob, really I do. But I swear to frigging God Almighty if I hear that relentlessly upbeat, Brady Bunch-inspired "It's the BEST DAY EVERRRRR..." song again I'm going to slice up every sponge in my house and ram every tiny little piece down someone's throat.

There. I feel better already.

Monday, November 13, 2006

sleeping in

I’m a pretty low-maintenance gal; always have been. Someone else might call this look “easygoing” or “effortless.” I call it “haphazardly careless, who-the-hell-gives-a-shit.”

That look extends to my choice of sleepwear. I’ve never been big on fancy nightgowns (hell, do they even call them that anymore?) or negligees or teddies or anything that might threaten to make me appear even the least bit sexy.

Used to be a t-shirt and some kind of pants or shorts. Wow, someone alert Frederick’s of Hollywood!

When the kids are babies, you get out of bed three or four times a night to feed them, so you want to wear something with easy access. Then when they’re older, and they call you in the middle of the night for water, or to check under the bed for monsters …you have to be wearing something. No need to traumatize them by wandering around naked in the dark night, bumping blindly into walls or practicing your golf swing.

But as I’ve gotten older, I find everything I choose to sleep in pisses me off.

Nothing with buttons! Nothing that extends past the knees, because I get twisted up! Nothing that’s even a little big, because the fabric wrinkles and rubs the wrong way! Nothing with seams or those stupid little applique flowers! Nothing with sleeves! Nothing with straps, hooks or elastic! Nothing with a crotch that I have to dig out of my crotch in the middle of the night!

Which leaves, pretty much…nothing. And now I understand what grandmas around the world mean when they advise “airing it out.”

Thursday, November 09, 2006

J's bush opinion

I'll enjoy watching Bush twitch and spin in the refreshing democratic breeze that just blew in.

I was explaining yesterday to J about Rumpsfeld's resignation and how Bush has relied on his father's aging cronies to point him in the wrong direction. He weighed in with his own opinion about Bush:

"He's lousy and he's drunk and he can't walk around!"

Now, I don't know where he got that opinion. I've never actually summed up Bush's many shortcomings quite like that.

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J's picture of Bush from 2 years ago still hangs in my kitchen, and will stay there until we get a new president. My mother recently visited, took one withering glance at the picture, and scolded:

"You're teaching him all wrong."

"What? I didn't tell him to draw that. He did it on his own."

"Yeah, sure he did."

"Sure! He doesn't like Bush. Lots of people don't like Bush. Is it so unseemly for a 7-year-old to create a picture depicting Bush as the devil? At least he didn't draw him as a big pile of shit."

She stormed off after that.

To be fair, here's J's picture of Dick.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

blink and you'll miss it

If you have kids, sometimes you find yourself just staring at them for no obvious reason, but questions run through your mind: How did that stain get on your shirt? Did I give you allowance? Why did you DO that? Your mind has important things it wants to say to them…but the words never leave the brain.

The boys catch me staring at them sometimes. They look puzzled, embarrassed. “What are you looking at?” they ask.

“What’s that stain on your shirt?”

Which is really code for: “When did you grow up? Did I blink and miss it?”

Last night I took the boys to swim practice. E practiced, J decided he just wanted to play in the pool. He wanted to play catch with me so he could dive in the water after the ball. After a little of that, he went off on his own. I stared at him moving about the pool.

J was walking normally around the deck when suddenly and for no apparent reason he happily leaped into the air. It was a one-legged hop, followed by a two-legged leap. Then he started walking normally again.

Boys don’t simply walk. They hop, they leap, they run. Sometimes they do this little hippity hop, tiptoe run when they’re barefoot, kind of like they’re walking on hot coals.

You never see them do this when they’re older. Older boys and grown men don’t hop and leap about as they move through their daily lives. Maybe they break into a run every now and then, but that’s about it.

But little boys move whatever way they want to get from point A to point B, whether they skip, they hop, they slide into home. They’re all limbs flailing about, shooting imaginary basketballs into the air, playing air guitar, pretending to walk along an imaginary rope bridge high above a dangerous gulch.

And then--in the blink of an eye, while you’re busy staring at them--they walk. And all those times you’ve told them to stop jumping up and down, slow down, walk; don’t run…you almost curse yourself now for even suggesting that they walk normally.

But at least for now, while they’re still leaping and dancing…the good thing is, they’re probably not even listening to you.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

not such a bad day after all

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Who knew, with my disdain for Halloween, that both boys would go on to win several costume awards?

J's mime outfit won for best costume in his class and at his Adventure Guides

E's Chef Boyardee here also won him 2 awards, one for Most Original in his 6th grade class (minus the identity-protecting shrubbery). Plus, I'm pretty certain he improved his street cred with his classmates. I mean, what better way to earn the respect of your peers than to go trick-or-treating dressed as a huge can of spaghetti? I underestimated these boys; E went out with a group of about 10 boys, and I was certain they'd find a hill to roll him down. But they didn't, and he received compliments throughout the neighborhood.

Between the two of them, they came home with about 9 pounds of candy, less than last year's record-setting 11 pounds.

Halloween was also notable because I was called in for the first time to sub.

The teachers snickered when I came in, with knowing, snarky comments like "hahaha, they called you in on HALLOWEEN, the MOST STRESSFUL day of the year? Have FUN!" Followed by more evil laughter.

The day consisted mostly of just keeping the kids in their seats, keeping the noise level down, and judiciously doling out lavatory passes. Later in the afternoon they went home to put their costumes on. They returned for the parade, followed by their class parties, which was all they can think about all day so keeping them focused was a challenge. This being first grade, it wasn't all that difficult; I brought out all my cartoon voices and wacky blackboard cartoons and my big gorilla head, and they were satisfied. Or at least stunned into submission.

One kid was talking about Toy Story and I got right in his face and pointed at him and said, "YOU come down in your stupid cardboard spaceship and take away everything that's important to me!" He looked startled at first but then lightened up and said, "Hey, that's from Toy Story 1! How did you know that?" He was clearly impressed.

My job there was done.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

halloween, schmalloween

Halloween is probably my least favorite holiday.

It used to be ok; when you were really young, you wore the plastic mask with the sharp edges and the eyes cut out, with the snappy elastic loop on the back, coupled with a plastic barbershop smock printed with your favorite TV or movie character of the day.

Later you could dress up as something lame, like a hobo or a hippie or a housewife with mom's curlers in your hair. There were no curfews back then, and you didn't want to go out until after dusk anyway. It wasn't cool.

You could go to everyone's house--nobody was off-limits, not even the single, middle-age scary guy in the apartment building nearby. Back then, you got full-size candy bars, and you collected them in an old pillowcase. Your favorite house was where they gave out apple cider and doughnuts.

You tossed the apples. Some things don't change.

Today, of course, it's a different story. Kids are on the street shortly after school lets out, paranoid parents trailing behind, and police sweep the streets at 8 pm like it's Baghdad, shooing them home. (In our neighborhood, smart parents walk around with a wagon of ready-made cocktails, and one guy sets up a bar in the front yard for the grown-ups.)

But it's the violent nature of Halloween these days that has turned me off the holiday. Halloween is supposed to be eerie...spooky...scary. Not violent and bloody and disgusting. What's scary is the unknown, not the obvious. Is it really necessary to wear a costume in which rubber pick-axe has been shoved through the eye? Does your exposed rubber brain really have to be eaten up by maggots?

I guess after years of hearing about my distaste for Halloween, my boys have picked up on the vibe, and generally don't want to wear violent/scary costumes. But this year, I think they may have gone too far in the wrong direction.

J, the youngest, wants to be a mime. You know, an embarrassing French mime, with the whiteface, red striped shirt and a BERET, for godsakes. He might as well just wear a neon sign that says MOCK ME,THEN STEAL MY CANDY.

E wants to be a can of Chef Boyardee spaghetti. I can't even convince him to have fun with it, perhaps calling it "Chef Boo-yardee Spaghetti and Eyeballs." Nope. I'm currently painting his big body-sized can. He even wants the nutrition information on the back. Gee, why not get a friend to be a side salad?

Sometimes, you just teach your kids TOO well.

Monday, October 23, 2006

3-Day, day 3

The cab drops us off at Belmont Plateau, the beginning of the 3rd day. Apparently, sleeping in and our extra-long cab ride has made us late, so we start off trailing the pack. Which wouldn't be so bad except for L's insistence on passing everyone. Which has probably in some way resulted in 3 of 4 of us wearing knee braces on this day. We properly bitched at her.

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But it's a beautiful sunny day, a great day to finish the walk.

Again, we go through the hilly terrain west of Philly, stopping for free Starbucks. There are signs on the route that exclaim "Save Second Base!" Which, frankly, I didn't understand at first, I admit it.

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We're getting a little achy and irritable now, but agree to step up the pace through the rest stops so we can get closer to the front of the pack. I estimate we finished every day in the top 300, maybe fewer, of about 2200 walkers. It's not a race, but we didn't want to be last either.

When we have about 5 miles to go, the mood lightens considerably. Just a little more than an hour to go. It's getting exciting. We're going to finish and we won't need the sweep van! Plus we wanted to finish in time for the Eagles game and suck down a few cocktails.

I tried very hard NOT to be affected by the significance of this event. We all tried to remain humble, as if this were just a walk in the park. But one guy got to me, though. One guy, he was standing by himself. He held up a sign that said thanks, you're walking for my wife. With pictures of the wife and kid. Now, I don't know if his wife was also walking, or if she's a survivor, if she's sick, or if she's dead.

I looked at him, I smiled, I kept moving. I wanted to stop and ask him but felt the need to push on, just to barely keep from bawling.

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At Villanova there's a zillion people waiting for our arrival. The picture doesn't really show the huge scope of the walk's end. The 3-Day volunteers, families and friends are cheering and hooting and hollering as we walk through the line. Spectators and strangers hold their hands out to high-five. For the minute, perhaps, that it took to get through the line...this must be what it feels like to be a rock star.

And yet, the first instinct is to just keep it humble. Awww, it was nuthin'. And it is, really, compared to what cancer survivors and their families go through.

We get our shirts. There are those of us who want to perhaps kinda hang around and soak up some sun, relax a little, relish the experience of the last 3 days. Then there are those of us who just want to be done, get going, hop a train back to the city, and indulge in some football and friendship and some well-deserved cocktails. We debate, and we decide to go.

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We end the day with a huge bar tab, room service burgers and salads, and the jacuzzi. The next day L wears a complimentary paper bathing suit because she decides the old one she brought wasn't embarrassing enough, so she tossed it the night before. The thing holds water like a swimmie diaper, making her poof up in the jacuzzi. M treats us later to massages and shea butter wraps. Heavenly!

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Our nearly 5-day adventure finally comes to an end. We go to breakfast and get one final cab ride to the train to NJ.

All told, we raised more than $15,000, and it cost us (well, some more than others) many hundreds of dollars in gear and cocktails and hotel stays and cab rides.

But we already know this is probably a one-shot thing for us, and the next time someone gets some cockamamie idea to do something crazy like walk 60 miles for breast cancer research or bike 100 miles for some other disease or participate in some other good deed...we'll..we'll think about it.

Thanks, girls. That wasn't so bad, was it?

Friday, October 20, 2006

3-Day: a cab ride

On the 3rd day, we awoke early from our comfy surroundings to the sound of L moaning and sighing and making little grunting noises and rustling the sheets. We weren't sure what to make of this.

She told us she'd been stretching.

Ah, yes. Stretching. I think we've all used THAT euphemism before.

Anyway, we got dressed, armed ourselves with coffee, and went outside to hail a cab. We get one, we pile in. The guy can't figure out how to work the meter. We wondered if perhaps he'd stolen the cab.

Now, I understand people--immigrants--have to make a living here. I don't get out much, but I understand that many make their living as cabbies. It seems rather elementary that to survive as a cabbie one ought to know where it is one is being asked to drive.

"Uh, shore. Ya, I know that. Ya."

So our cabbie heads off, slowly for a city cabbie. A little unsure at first, but then he picks up steam as we head toward Kelly Drive...but then slows down. His undercarriage keeps scraping the road, like he's got a body in the trunk.

We have an idea where we're supposed to go, but cannot give him exact directions. We were kind of counting on the cabbie to know where he's going. He knows not.

We see 2 joggers on the left corner of the road, as I recall, a 4-lane road. "Maybe they know," we say brightly yet urgently to the cabbie. The cabbie pulls over across the road and lodges his cab diagonally on the corner of the intersection, effectively cutting off traffic in 2 different lanes.

"Ah, where to find ah...ahhhh, where..." asks the cabbie.

We quickly roll down the back windows. "BELMONT PLATEAU! PLEASE tell us how to get there!" The joggers sense our urgency and fear that the cab will be crushed in two directions. They give us directions, which we keep repeating to the cabbie, just to make sure he's got it.

Imagine you're a little immigrant guy driving a car, and your wife is impatiently telling you how to drive. Now imagine 4 wives impatiently telling you how to drive. It's a wonder he didn't just fly the cab off a bridge into the Schulkyll just to shut us up.

But he didn't and since he took us several miles and dollars out of our way, he agreed to take a lesser fare. Which was still more than we should've given him, but we were running late. And, hey, a guy has to make a living.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

3-Day, day 2 (with even more pictures!)

Geeez, I better hurry the hell up and write this down because I'm forgetting it already.

So. We get a late start on the morning. Next thing we know, we're headed to South Street. All along the route there are these black arrows attached to poles and signs, so we know where we're going.

Now, we didn't have any team flair. Oh, we had all sorts of ideas: iron-on shirt transfers, matching hats, I would design a logo...but none came to fruition. My fault, really, for not putting more effort into it. So we didn't look much like a team, except we're all blonde (insert your own joke here.)

So we're on South Street, and we pass an accessory store. Scarves, earrings, hats, etc...and there it is: the perfect pink and white polka dotted scarf. Worn individually, it would look ridiculous, but 4 of them, worn as team flair...well, it probably still looked ridiculous, especially the way H knotted it up on L's head in a big bow. But at least we were now identifiable as a team.

We walk along South Street, down 2 Street, more candy, along Elfreth's Alley, where we meet this little puddle jumper. He's playing in what's left of the nor'easter. Did I mention the nor'easter?

We go on some more into Center City, and here we are, with the pink fountain at LOVE park:

My, we're just SPANKIN' aren't we? Note L's BIG BOW on left:

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And no visit to Philly would be complete without posing with Rocky at the Art Museum. I would've expected one of us to make some kind of obscene gesture or grab Rocky's balls or something, but we were surprisingly well-behaved.

So on we go, along Kelly Drive...and we hear people talking about spending the night at the high school again, and we so DON'T want to do that so we get a cab to take us to a hotel.

We were rather lucky to get a cabbie where we did. And what a multi-tasker! He could talk non-stop on his cell with no headset, in a foreign language that none of us even remotely recognized, but we figured it was something close to...Swahili?...zipping and speeding faster and faster! through downtown. We were very impressed! Finally we get to the hotel, take nice showers, and zip off to the Continental, where we have fancy global-tapas food and my new favorite cocktail: a Hawaii 5-0 (vanilla vodka, triple sec, pineapple, lime juice. It was VERY good.)

After paying the huge bill, we walk off in our fashionable flip flops and t-shirts (none of us had brought real shoes) and settle into the comfy king-size beds. M and I stayed up to watch Little Miss Sunshine, which was funny, while H and L snored and farted in their sleep. I wisely chose not to get any pictures of that.

Monday, October 16, 2006

3-Day, day one (now with pictures!)

Ok, where was I?

So we get to the hotel in Willow Grove PA and spend a reasonable Thursday night there. It was dark when the four of us woke up; wet, rainy, windy and nasty. And that was just the weather.

A nor'easter had blown in.

The lobby was filled with women dressed up in their Cancer Sucks shirts and buttons and their running shoes and their team flair. The Buddies for Breasts team sported the fashionable boob hats; inevitably, some were a little droopy by day's end.

L had the presence of mind weeks before to order up a cab from the hotel, so instead of paying $14 p/p for a bus ride, it cost us something like $10 for all of us. Not only that, but when the cab got there, we just pushed through the throng and hopped in. No waiting in line for the shuttle. Of course, L would think to do this. She once brought a stapler in her purse for a job interview "just in case the interviewer didn't have one." She's the queen of situation preparedness. If nuclear disaster strikes, I'm headed to her house.

The mall parking lot was busy in the darkness. We checked in, checked our bags into big rigs labeled alphabetically, moved to the coffee tent and waited.

And waited. And waited some more. We couldn't even really tell when daybreak came because the weather was so fucking foul.

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Sorry. I had to say it once.

But the stage was set and we were eventually herded into a corral to await the inspirational stretching exercises. Followed by the inspirational speech by someone from the Komen Foundation, who told inspirational tales followed by exclamations of "Go, Beautiful Woman! Go Beautiful Man!" Which drew pretty rude guffaws and snorts from the crowd, most notably our own little group, which seriously needed a few rounds of espresso to appreciate the significance of the moment. And finally, the really creepy, otherworldly inspirational speech from God (actually a disembodied deep male voice) who admonished us that this was "no walk to the corner to get a newspaper." Like we do that in the suburbs. Stupid God.

And with that, they let us out of the corral, we got our ponchos and schedule of potty locations and lunch and snacks and away we went, in a nor'easter.

We had been led to believe that the walk was basically 20 miles each day. On this particular day, the day of the nor'easter, in which we walked around the hills and valleys west of Philly, many, many was actually closer to 25.

The route itself was actually pretty nice; we strolled through Chestnut Hill, Manayunk, and some other well-to-do neighborhoods with huge houses. People stood on the streets cheering us on, offering candy and baked goods, free Starbucks coffee and shots of Bailey's.

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We finally finished the route and prepared for camping at Belmont Plateau. It was wet. It was muddy. Oh, yes, that's right. It was a FRIGGING NOR'EASTER and still raining. But there was no camping: they moved more than 2000 people to a high school to camp out in the hallways, shoulder to shoulder with the lights on.

We heard a woman got a cockroach stuck in her hair there.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

that sinking feeling

You know how after Christmas you get that deflated feeling, you have nothing to look forward to anymore? (And if you're like me, you hate New Year's?) Well, that's about how it is now that the 3-Day is done.

I'll go on about it in more detail (and pictures!) after I knock some articles out. Suffice it to say, I doubt I will ever again walk through large mobs (100s! 1000s of people!) offering encouragement, candy, free coffee and shots of Bailey's, cheering wildly that I've finally finished something.

60 miles. We did it.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

gimlets and desert rodents

So the gals went out last night for a planning session for this weekend's Breast Cancer 3-day.

L had a few cosmos; M had a Sam Adams followed by martinis, H had vodka and tonic. All more or less sophisticated, grown-up drink choices.

I'm stumped. I don't know anything about sophisticated drinking. I enjoy drinking out of coconuts, with the paper umbrella and plastic monkey. (My all-time favorite has to be the Colorado Bulldog: kahlua, vodka, milk, and pepsi, shaken up and served in a huge glass. A straw is a nice touch, especially for getting the froth left at the bottom of the glass, which, if the drink is made properly, appears quickly.)

When servers ask me what I want, it's like that scene from 5 Easy Pieces with Jack Nicholson. "Well, can I have something with raspberry, with ice but without gin, but with fruit but no lime, but so it doesn't taste too alcoholy?" And hold the toast.

I ended up settling for something like a raspberry martini, expecting it to be pink. She brings this clearly-hued drink in a glass, but not a martini glass. With ice.

"Oh," says M. "Is that what you wanted, a gimlet?" M is the go-to gal for cocktail identification and consumption.

"Uh....I dunno. Is that what I have?"

Now, I've heard of gimlets before. Sounds like some little fuzzy, scurrying desert rodent. But I don't know what's in them, other than vodka.

So here's this cocktail site, explaining what a gimlet is. (And lots of other equally fascinating drinks, like "A Pimp Named Slickback" and "A Little Dick'll Do" and "A Short Trip to Hell" and that was just the first page of the "A" recipes. I imagine drinking A Little Dick'll Do might send you on a Short Trip to Hell, and then after that, perhaps a little dick would do.

It also explains all about the different glasses necessary for properly enjoying cocktails. It's completely ludicrous to drink a martini out of a collins glass, for example, or a highball out of a MacDonald's commemorative Disneyworld glass.

I have exactly 3 cocktail-type glasses in my house: 3 wine glasses that were a Macy's giveaway about 10 years ago. Oh, and a souvenir pilsner glass from PastaMore; I think that was from our trip to Universal Studios. Oh, wait: here's a souvenir shot glass from SA-NJ-OSE. Thanks Kim!

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I suppose on the road to middle age, it might behoove me to actually purchase some real, grown-up cocktail glasses. Just in case they run out of coconuts.

Monday, October 02, 2006

lame post ahead

What the hell happened to the week?! Geez, it was just here a minute ago.

The interview went ok; 2 youngish guys interviewed me, and were immune to any MILF magic spells I tried on them. One guy asked me to submit some "zany" writing samples because my portfolio was too "corporate." Ha! Ha!! They want to crazy-up their image and website. I obliged with some stupid stuff that I'm fairly sure will kill the deal.

Saturday I stayed up to watch the new SNL, which mostly sucked. I fell asleep through the second half.

What troubled me was I didn't know who next week's host and musical guest will be: Jaime Pressley and Corrine...something...Rae. Who are these girls? Is Jaime a girl? This show has been on since I was what, 15? And this was the first time I didn't know. So NOW I guess I'm officially over the hill. Well, maybe not completely over. Maybe just still painfully clinging to the pinnacle.

Monday, September 25, 2006

what, me work?

So through the magic of Monster, I have a job interview on Wednesday.

("But you're a freelancer! How can you even THINK about getting a real job?")

I KNOW, it sucks. But it all comes down to money. And I'm flattered that someone even thought to call me after seeing my yawn-inducing resume.

I haven't totally committed to the idea of going back to work fulltime; I haven't worked fulltime in about seven years. I quit to freelance when E was in kindergarten. (Not to mention a couple of years as a teacher's assistant, which I actually enjoyed. I liked the jr. high kids the best; they're wacky and hormonal and rebellious and they don't give a shit about anything but themselves. Just like me! The kindergartners, while very cute and adorable, mostly just wanted me to tie their shoes and help them get the snot out of their noses. Oh, and inspect their heads for lice.)

So I haven't been on a "real job" interview in all those years.

I thought maybe I needed a suit, but then I said the hell with THAT, let them know right off the bat that I'm a confident, capable middle-age woman, and I don't need to wear a corporate monkey suit just to make an impression. Plus, the ones I tried on all made me look dowdy.

I love that word, dowdy. I mean, truly, look at these fucking beat-up softball knees.

So I opted for black low rise trousers and high heel black mules, and a business-appropriate, yet trendy top. It's a good look for me; makes me look about seven feet tall. Just my height ought to scare the shit out of them.

So this is a YOUNG company. Do I flaunt my age and experience? Do I play down my age and experience? Do I play the MILF card? Do I even HAVE a MILF card? AM I a MILF? Maybe I should ask them.

Do I do what I usually do, come up with a ridiculously lame answer to the "what do you want to be doing in 5 years" question? ("uh...uh...well how they hell am I supposed to know that I want to be doing in 5 years?! We'll all be lucky to be alive then.")

"What's your biggest weakness?"

"My knees. My eyesight?"

"What contribution can you make to this company?"

"Well, when the birthday cards get circulated around, I always draw a cute, clever cartoon on them. It's my signature thing, and coworkers usually adore them."

"And I always bring in good candy for Halloween, not those stupid Dum-Dum pops."

So you see what an ill-fated adventure this interview will most likely be.

Friday, September 22, 2006

I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way

My niece asked me to create a signature cartoon for her wedding reception. I agreed to this because, well, I like drawing cartoons, but I was also thinking of adding yet ANOTHER spoke to the career wheel: if it turned out ok and I enjoyed doing it, then maybe I could make a little money at it. God forbid I should actually try to make a career out of doing something practical, forward-thinking, or something that would make me rich.

I've had close to a year to do it. But because I'm a master procrastinator, I put it off until about month before the wedding. It started to make me crazy. It's all I thought about, yet I couldn't quite bring myself to sit down and start it. I'm project-oriented. I LIKE sitting down and doing this stuff, right? I like drawing, right? Why did I wait so long?

It turned out ok, but: the groom does not really look like the groom. I sketched him out a few times, and when I finally got to the final version, he just didn't quite come out right. Oh, he has the same big head and fuzzy hair that the groom does, but the eyes and the mouth are wrong. It's one of those things that the more you keep screwing around with it, the worse it gets. I keep telling myself nobody really cares about the groom, but the groom does.

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My niece is spot-on. Actually, it looks better in real-life than here.

If someone had paid me to do this, I would feel like a miserable failure. And that, I think, is what kept me from getting right to it: fear of failure. I failed, and it sucks. Well, I failed 50%. So now I have to decide: can/should I try to overcome this fear of failure and the angst this thing caused to perhaps pursue this spoke professionally?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

what, me cook?

When the kids go back to school, it turns my food preparation routine on its ear.

(I make no secret about it: I hate cooking. The dh suggested once that since it's my responsibility to cook for the family, that I should do it "with love." His head still has the dent in it from the frying pan.)

The bad thing is having to make lunches every day. This is a dreary task, often made frustrating when your kids refuse to try something new.

"Hey, how about some lettuce on your sandwich? Live dangerously."

"Ewwww-uh." (When did these simple one-syllable words take on an extra syllable? "No-uh." "Uh-yeah." "It's mine-uh.")

But the flip side of back to school is all the sports practices and games conveniently occur right at dinnertime! Yay! So my obligation to prepare a decent, wholesome dinner is temporarily suspended for a couple of months. Mac 'n cheese, sandwiches, ramen noodles, hot dogs, soup...all now represent the dinner norm. The boys are cool with this, because they don't seem to really appreciate my cooking anyway, and who could blame them. A baloney sandwich, to them, is probably a safer option than some of my other mysterious concoctions like "shepard's pie" and "ham and potato casserole."

So I'm looking forward to these next few weeks of simply "opening" food, not really cooking it: opening cans, packages, the microwave door.

Friday, September 15, 2006


It hit me last night, in a small way, all of the things I might have liked to have done, but didn't. That's where regret lies, right, the things you didn't do, rather than the things you did?

I think about this nearly every day. And it pisses me off, a little, every day. And the list gets longer, every day.

Last night our local PBS channel broadcast a Pink Floyd concert from their Division Bell tour. It was great. A little over the top, but one expects that from Pink Floyd. David Gilmour has the richest, creamiest voice--even hit the high notes. I'm not a rabid fan, but I always liked them.

I never saw them live.

Nor did I ever see Elton John, who I had a crush on back in the early 70s (that is, before the stupid glasses and duck outfits). Pre-1976, he was brilliant. I actually made a sequined pillow with his picture on it. lovedlovedloved him. Back in the day.

In fact, it's getting so I can't remember what concerts I did see. I should be writing this shit down.

And now all these performers who I liked way back when are getting old (hell, even the Half-a-Who just opened in Philly; did I go? No.) may be the last time they're around. But I have other more boring grown-up things to do than get jostled around at a concert.

The regret lingers, of things undone. I'm getting tired of my ordinary life.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

mangled English

I'm on a deadline today, so instead of using what's left of my brain to post something thoughtful, I thought I'd present a list of some of the "isms" I've collected from my youngest son, J.

Kids have a delightful way of mangling the English language, and we all have our favorites. Here are mine:

“Rememberies” (memories)

“Handy Capps” (Andy Capp’s hot fries)

“Squat Team” (SWAT team)

“Bag of lunch” (for bagged, or brown bag, lunch)

“Conolial day” (Colonial day)

“Interrumpting” (interrupting)

“Sticky-ups” (hair that sticks up in the morning)

“Froggy” (foggy)

“Not to be offenseless” (not meaning to offend)

“Underpits” (armpits; this is actually from J's friend)

“I just want some peace and silence” (not wanting the radio on in the van)

“Teenage waistband…it’s only teenage waistband.” (The Who)

"White beater" (wife beater) and "Red beater" (for a red tank top)

"What's the height of me?" (how tall am I?)

“Pepto-Gizmo” (Pepto-Bismol)

J doesn't mangle the language quite as much as he used to; guess I can still count on W to do that for the next couple of years.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

talking to dogs

The first on the list of things I do that my boys find annoying is talking to animals. This point was pounded home during our vacation, when I spent a good part of the time talking with my cousin's dog Liberty.

I never thought much about talking to animals, but after they kept complaining that I was spending WAY too much time talking to the dog, I began to wonder.

I know I enjoy it, most of the time, when people talk to me; animals are no different. Their eyes light up when you talk to them, they wag their tails...I usually don't get that kind of enthusiastic reaction from humans.

I'm always talking to my cat Spooky. It's not just a "you're such a pretty girl" type of cooing, but I'll tell her about my day, what I bought at the supermarket, what I'm pissed at...she doesn't answer, of course, although she's extremely empathetic, to the point it almost makes me believe that she's got the soul of an old dead friend inside her. It's a little, well, spooky.

But dogs are my favorite. They like to please, they like attention, just like kids. So naturally, you start rolling around on the floor with a dog, some conversation is bound to go like this:

"Yes! You're a great doggy aren't you! Yes you are! Yes! Yes, you like to give kisses don't you? With that big wet tongue of yours! Yes! Reminds me of my days in college when I dated a guy whose idea of kissing was to ram his tongue down my throat like an angry serpent! Yes! You must know dogs who do that, right? Oh, you're so CUTE! But then HE went on to dump me unceremoniously--or did I dump him, I forget? Anyway, I never really achieved my potential in college! Did you know that? Boy, I regret that NOW! Now that I'm freelancing in about SIX different careers and still not making any money! I wish I could decide what I want to do! Yes I do! Give me those kisses! Grrrr."

Well, the boys see that and cringe with embarrassment, and later, one actually pulled me aside and said, "Mom, you shouldn't talk so much to the dog."

"Let me guess. Do I embarrass you?"



I guess talking to dogs is cheaper than therapy.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

down on the farm

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Is this:

a. a hog
b. an old boyfriend
c. my mother-in-law
d. dinner

This is Oreo, the hog from my cousin's farm, and probably the biggest hog I've ever seen. It's as big as a frigging sofa. (My cousin and I came to the conclusion that we are 3rd cousins; with Southern blood coursing through our veins, we're pretty meticulous about lineage and try and sometimes even succeed at placing various cousins in their rightful spot on the family heirarchy, even those who are "removed.") She and her family live in Middletown, Va, home of Rt. 11 potato chips, the best doggone potato chips anywhere, in loads of flavors, created in small batches in a little rundown old building in the middle of nowhere. Delicious!

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This is what people who live in the middle of nowhere do for fun. We went creek dunking (wisely, nobody got any pictures of me flailing about on the rope swing, or anything else for that matter), spelunking (preceded by a couple of 11-year-olds clearing brush with machetes), hay-diving, and the boys enjoyed their first drive-in movie, complete with unimaginably bad popcorn.

We also went horseback riding. I haven't been in decades, and I'd forgotten how intimidating it can be to sit high atop a powerful animal who, if she feels like it, can carelessly toss you off and paralyze you for life. While she didn't do that, she did take me through a small patch of woods and saplings, where not only did I nearly lose my right leg when a sapling found its way between my leg and the horse, I also damn near broke my neck when a branch got stuck between my helmet strap and my chin. How the hell does THAT happen? I came out of the woods mostly unharmed, but with a much greater appreciation for people who ride these damn things often.

Now, I'm a suburban gal all the way, so at first, the idea of spending a few days on the farm seemed a little, well, icky. These animals smell, don't they? What's this thing? A tractor? Is that damn rooster really going to wake us all up at 5am? You can imagine my trepidation.

She has horses and the pig, roosters and chickens, a one-horned goat...natural garbage eaters, I found out. We just tossed our uneaten food over over the fence where the animals ate it up. Corn cobs, apple cores, the works. My cousin works very hard tending to her farm and her animals, and while we had a great time and have already decided to return next year, I'm not sure Green Acres is the life for me.

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Monday, September 04, 2006

this is vacation?

Ok, I'm back, I'm beat. But I'll say this for now:

I hate the word "freshly." As in, "salad, freshly prepared the same day." Or, "enjoy our freshly baked bread."

The scariest part of vacation was not the head-throttling roller coasters or the cost of a bottle of water or the way the bathrooms are hygienically, creepily automatic. It was standing in line for water rides with hundreds of wet skanky people in their ill-fitting bathing suits. Fat people, skinny people, pimply people...all joined together in a sea of pretty unattractive humanity. I mean, they'd brush up against you, wet, clothed--barely--in just their bathing suits. They'd holler over your head at Darnell 20 feet away, like you weren't even there. They'd be hustling their little tykes to the bathroom, smelling of a nasty poopy swim diaper. I mean, it was all way too familiar. I have to LIVE with this; why would I want to vacation with it?

Other than that, of course, I love water rides.

Friday, August 18, 2006

yes, virginia

We're headed out to Virginia next week for vacation. Is it really a vacation if you have to visit your parents?

We see them about twice a year; they have a nice little house on the creek surrounded by mostly nothing. They live in the little town of Urbanna, which is well-known for its
oyster festival. Can't think of anything I'd rather NOT do than eat nothing but oysters over the course of a cold November weekend, accompanied by 100,000 of my closest friends.

It's also well-known for its sighting of the famous Hollywood power couple, Barbra Streisand and James Brolin. They pulled up in their yacht once and strolled the downtown, rich with dollar store merchandise and granny sweaters.

There's also an honest-to-goodness soda fountain in the drugstore. My rents tell me a jerk works there.

But developers are encroaching upon the town, and construction is on its way in the woods across the creek, where my parents have spotted fox, deer, herons, and bald eagles. Maybe a stray cow or two. They're not happy about this. Neither are my parents.

I don't understand why more people just don't move to Montana or...South Dakota or something. States with space.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


The boys have been away at camp this week, and for months I've dreamed about all the great things I would accomplish in their absence.

I was going to paint the trim in my living room. New brushed nickel curtain rods, purchased at least 2 years ago and now waiting forlornly in the basement, would replace these stupid, red, warped wooden rods I have now.

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Maybe paint the upstairs bathroom, which has needed painting for at least 5 years now. Put in a new heater to replace the one turned rusty from too much poorly aimed boy-pee.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting I was going to finish the playroom while the boys were still relatively young; prep and paint the trim, get a rug, a new curtain and a couple of chairs.

I was going to complete the caricature of my niece and her fiance for their wedding reception and get it matted.

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I would train for at least 15 and 12 miles, back to back days.

At the very least, I was going to shampoo the carpet.


They return tomorrow. This is what I've done.

Oh, yeah. I also got a new fridge. It's cool. I like it.

Monday, August 14, 2006

girl's a looney

Ok, so the psycho nutcase 12-year-old girl-next-door has a dry erase board in her room, upon which something like this is written (I know this because J saw the board the other day while playing in the neighbors’ house):

“To describe the John Blankity-Blank family (meaning, MY family), I’d use words like
Not Cool

…And Many More!

Now, certainly, her thoughts are her own, and she can say anything she wants. I just don’t quite understand where all this vitriol is coming from. Remember, this is the gal who hopes we all perish in hell. The gal we’ve caught throwing stones at our house. The gal who bullies both my boys and spies on us from her bedroom window. What am I missing here? Why are her parents not, uh, concerned by this?

In my family’s defense, we’re not gay or faggots, at least, not yet. We’re not idiots or retards; hey, I’m a college graduate! And my kids are what people used to consider "gifted"--

(until parents of "non-gifted" kids got insulted and offended and demanded that everybody should be equal--even if that means taking away every advantage--real or perceived--that "gifted" students had..while their own kids apparently suffered from heaving bouts of low self esteem because they're not similarly "gifted,"--thereby making mediocrity a goal for all to aspire to)

--so I'm not sure what we're calling smart kids now. Academically enhanced?

As for us not being "cool” fact, many years ago, there was a gal I met up with years after we had played softball together in high school. We ran into each other at Maggie’s in Philly, after a Go To Blazes show. She informed me, albeit drunkenly, that back in our softball-playing days I was “cool before it was cool to be cool.” That’s perhaps the best compliment I’ve ever received. Or at least the only one I remember. And although "cool" is certainly a subjective term, I think research suggests it's genetic. My father was a lounge lizard and croons like Sinatra. So our neighborhood “Carrie” simply is misinformed about our family coolness quotient.

Which leaves the “ugly” comment. We are so not ugly. I can't even be bothered to defend that.

But I'm really left scratching my cool, smart, not-ugly head: what on earth is WITH this girl?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

3 strikes and i'm way out

Since I’m on this sports kick, I’m reminded of some missed opportunities I may have had scoring with pro athletes.

Of course, Chase and Cole here are way out of my league, not to mention my demographic. (Stop me before I pun some more.) But what about when I was younger?

For instance: in the early 80s — so I was in my early 20s — my softball coach calls me to tell me to hustle down to his sporting goods store because he wants me to meet Tim Kerr. (Tim Kerr scored 363 career goals as a Flyer, ranked third on the team’s all-time list.) Wow! A real hockey player! Ok! So I head to the store to meet him. A big guy, blonde…but I don’t normally go for blondes. Sorry. He does absolutely nothing for me. But he seems like a nice guy.

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We chat for a little bit, and he asks me if I want to meet him and some friends at Rexy’s later that evening. Very casual. I think and mull over and consider and think some more, and say…

“Uh…I don’t think I can. I have to WORK tonight.”

Which was true. But it wasn’t the kind of job I couldn’t cut out of FOR ONE NIGHT so I could go DRINKING WITH SOME PRO HOCKEY PLAYERS. WTF was I THINKING??? I was making something like $6.35 an hour at the time. So I would’ve lost, maybe, oh…$25 in wages? WTF! Who knows how stinking RICH I might be now?! Well, probably rich and divorced, which is a pretty fine master plan.

Fast forward about 5 years. I’m living in Florida. The boys of summer are in spring training, and cruising around the bars like jaguars. I’m out with some friends at a bar. Gail has a crush on Ron Darling, pitcher for the Mets. As it happens Ron and some of his Mets friends are in the bar. So my friend Merry goes over to him and has a few words. He comes over to us at the bar. He’s headed directly toward me. He is not unpleasant looking. He smiles, then leans over to kiss me.

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“WAIT!” I say. “It’s not ME who likes you, it’s HER!” pointing to Gail.

He looks a little put-off, but offers her a kiss. They start to talk. I don’t think she slept with him, but she probably could’ve. In retrospect, I might have. Just to say I did, you know? The bigger issue here is, why on EARTH would I DENY a pro baseball player the opportunity to kiss me? And what--now he’s a color announcer with the Mets? WTF is WRONG with me?!

Still in Florida, I’m escorting senior citizen tours (yeah, life goes from bad to worse), along with another gal. We meet up with a few guys from the Braves minors team, one of whom I believe goes on to be famous, but I can’t remember who. We have a few cocktails. We end up back at their hotel. We’re invited in….but here’s the coach. Or chaperone. Someone in charge.

“Guys are on curfew. Scram.”

Hell, talk about shagging! An entire frigging baseball team, right in the palm of my mitt! Imagine the potential tell-all book possibilities!

But no. In every instance, my infuriating combination of goddamn good sense and stupidity took me down the path of virtue. Perhaps in my next life I will be rewarded with a heavenly romp with Chase Utley instead.

Or, even just in a sex dream.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

a tall, cool one

My my, Cole Hamels is certainly...flexible. Now, unlike Chase (6'1", 185)--who's just a tad too old to be young enough to be my offspring--Cole here is, well, young. With a very nice fastball. He's 6'4", 195. Oh, my.

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Slap! Slap! Snap out of it!

Monday, August 07, 2006

chase utley owes me a sex dream

J came in 3rd in breaststroke and 4th in freestyle at the Tri-County meet. Of the 50 kids who even qualified for Tri-County--not to mention the hundreds who even swam those strokes--he beat all but 2 and 3. A very fine performance. I promised him a trip to Disneyworld if he won either event, so whew! One more parental promise I don't have to break!

That means swim season is over, and we can all relax for a few weeks. The boys slept in today. J awakens and comes downstairs to tell me about his dream. He just turned 9 over the weekend.

"Did you know I fell off the bed this morning?" he asks.

"Why, no. Are you ok?"

"Yeah. I had a dream about Chase Utley."

"What happened?"

"Well, we were in the parking lot of the supermarket. Chase Utley was there and said hi to you."

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"He did? Did he give me a kiss too?"

"No." Damn!

Did he fondle or grope me in any way? "Did he at least give me his phone number?"

"No. He gave you a hug."

Hmmm. Was it a nice, firm, howdoyoudo hug? Was it a gentle nestling type of hug? Perhaps starting with a nice caressing along the arms, moving up through my hair? Or perhaps starting from behind so I can't see him, ending with a kiss on the back of the neck before he turns me around...

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"Uh..what else did he...uhhhh..."

"He asked us to go the ball game."

"WHAT? He asked you too?" Damn.

"Yes. He had a limo! We didn't have a car because one was at the cousins' house and the other ran out of gas."

"Well, of course he had a limo. Did we go to the game?"

"Yeah, I was the bat boy."

"Well, that sounds like fun. For you."

Next time anyone around here has a dream about Chase Utley, it had better be me. And there better be sex, and plenty of it.

Friday, August 04, 2006

so this is what it feels like... fall off the face of the earth.

It's been a seriously busy summer, but I suppose that's no excuse for being undisciplined.

It's swim team season, and I'm one in the core group of parents that does all the work. Swim teams and all the necessary fundraising, pep rallies, banquets, breakfasts, field trips, working the meets, etc. etc. etc...requires a lot of parent volunteers. It's a very intense season, a little more than 2 months of daily practice and meets.

Among my duties are meet announcing (apparently I have a flair for it, or so people tell me, although if they really listened, my South Jersey squonky accent is ear-splitting, if you ask me), ribbon labels and ribbon writing, writing uninspired website copy, designing the t-shirt, some database crap, and creating the annual banquet slide show.

This thing takes an extraordinary amount of time to create, hours and hours and hours over about a two-week period. I root through thousands of photographs on dozens of CDs of largely unidentifiable kids in goggles and caps and create an entertainment extravaganza consisting of about 150-160 slides.

The music selection is can't be too mainstream, can't be too thrash metal, can't be too sexually suggestive (although I used Hump de Bump by RHCP. I mean, I suppose THAT could be sexually suggestive, but if you read the chorus--"hump de bump do bodu"--it just sounds like a big, fuzzy green dinosaur-type TV personality. )

"Kids, get ready; it's the Humpdebumpdobodu show!"

(For the sake of comparison, the guy who did this before I took it over used Paul Anka's "The Times of our Lives," which haunts me to this day. I want to hit something when I hear it. "The shadows of misty yesteryears..." just THINKING about that line is like a razor blade cutting through my sinuses.)

I chose five songs--started it with Miserlou (Dick Dale), which was perfect. Then Punk Rock Girl (Dead Milkmen); Hump de Bump; The Ataris' version of Boys of Summer--an obvious choice, perhaps, but it has that happy Green Day sound the young kids like; and finally...yeah, ok, Hot Fun in the Summertime. That's just a great song, regardless of its decade of origin.

But the most challenging part--aside from losing hours of sleep and watching my house slowly transform into a crumb- and trash-infested pig sty--is writing the jokes. The adults love the jokes, although they can't be too...sophisticated. Beer jokes are good. The kids just like to see their pictures.

This year the bulk of the snarky jokes focused on one dad who tortures us all with his stories about his years at Penn State. I photoshopped the Nittany Lion mascot head on this guy's head in the photos. The kids loved that. The adults were howling. I missed most of the show because I'm squatting behind the laptop and projector in a skirt, so I won't block people's view, while the dj is talking to me NONSTOP about his dj business, his dj website, and gas prices.

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It takes a lot of work, but I really enjoyed putting it together. I always do; it's a rush to have an audience laugh and holler at something you've created. (Well, then again, maybe it's not.)