Friday, December 30, 2005

Happy New Year


I'm taking tomorrow off to take down the Christmas decorations and kick the tree to the curb. Tomorrow night there will be drinks and resolutions and gratitude expressed for the family and friends that are a huge part of my life. Among those are the blog-friends who have become so very important. Who knew?

To health and happiness and productivity...

...Have a great weekend and be safe!

Stuff that I make
















Part of today will be spent sending out all the Christmas cards that I've yet to mail. Consider them New Year's cards, for those of you on the receiving end. The rest of the day will be spent making polymer beads like the ones it these pics. I made these particular ones last May and they've just been sitting around in this old metal butter dish waiting to be functional and not just pretty.

My friend Reading is having some problems with folks out there who seem to exist for no other purpose than to torture us with their stupid, stupid questions. If you've been bothered of late by the idiocy of others in our species, go over and share your thoughts. My secret joy comes from imagining that each little mound of polymer clay--as I run it through the pasta maker-- is the head of any individual who is personally responsible for any misery I might be suffering. Does that make me a bad person?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Serenity Now!


If you liked Seinfeld, and who doesn't, you'll need to head on over to Rock's and share your favorite episodes with him. It seems we're both the proud owners of Seasons 1 through 6 and we're darned glad of it. Now I gotta get crackalackin' and fire up the dvd player.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Teach Your Children Well..


...because they grow up so very quickly. Here's my evidence.

Full disclosure, my little sugarplums: My kids are not babies anymore. I can't blog anymore about the stretchmarks (though they're still there)and the leaky boobs. No cute conversations about potty training or mis-pronounced words. Back in the day when my kids were little, no one was blogging. The computer was nothing but a fancy typewriter. When the kids went down for a nap, I had the telephone, cable tv and "Old Yeller"(WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD: Old Yeller takes the big dirt nap) on tape to keep me from losing my mind. With everything these 3 Stooges did to keep me one step away from booking a room at Trembling Hills, I could have struck gold in the blogging world. If only...

Now it's just body hair and testosterone. Size 13 shoes and acne medicine so powerful that it bleaches the color right out of their bedsheets. And the collective morning smell of teenage bodies in their pre-showered state that could make buffalo restless several counties away.

It doesn't make for cute blogging. No one's going to say, "Awww!" about a 6'1" boy who eats bean dip for lunch EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS LIFE. Or the middle child who enjoys pretending he's a Caucasian version of Ludacris saying, "That's just how I roll!", or the almost-12 year old who wants to blow his Christmas windfall on a $99 Star Wars light saber.

They're keeping us plenty busy, rest assured,but I don't blog about them much because I don't want to invade their privacy. If they were toddlers, though, I totally be selling them (and their bathroom habits) out for the amusement of readers. They're okay with my posting a picture, and I'm doing that so you can see that we don't keep them locked up in a dungeon or anything.

I have one more Christmas left before the oldest one leaves for college, and I'm not handling it well. Not well at all, people. It's all passing too quickly and the years I groaned about the speech therapy so that the middle one could enter school without referring to his legs as his "yegs", the still enigmatic flashes of brilliance amidst the total absentmindedness of our oldest, and the youngest whose hot temper can cause large rocks to break apart in his presence...it all will seem like a breeze...when I compare it to the quiet after the last one gets in his car and drives away.
The next time I blog about diapers, people, they'll be the ones I'm wearing at "the home". And no one wants to hear about that. Not even me.

I still have a lot of questions...


Her favorite flower was the Gerbera/Gerber Daisy. She liked cheap Chinese food and her favorite day of the week was Friday. I know these things because of one of those dumb getting-to-know-you questionnaires that people send you. I don't think they're quite so dumb anymore, because the answers she sent to me--plus a her e-mail letters that I printed up before my computer crashed last year are all I've got left of KRH.

KRH married the son of my older cousin. I attended their wedding and sent gifts when they had their first son. When they moved to Tennessee and KRH became a stay-at-home-mother with a husband who traveled excessively, we forged a bit of a bond. When they came into town, I always made it a point to see her. She had a fabulous laugh and an easy personality. She was kind, creative and curious. She loved her son and she loved her husband, but she grieved for the part of herself she lost by no longer challenging herself at work. She was a real person who made you feel better simply by being around her.

When she was about 7 months pregnant with her second son, she had the opportunity to celebrate her 10th wedding anniversary in Europe with her husband. She was unsure about leaving her two-year old son with her parents and in-laws while she left the country. I told her she should go, because things only get more complicated with two kids. I know I'm not the only person who told her to take advantage of the chance to have a romantic encounter in Europe. I'm glad she did. One of the questionnaires she filled out says that it was the best time in her whole life.

A few months later she went to the hospital to have her son. The day after he was born, she died of an undiagnosed brain bleed. It's still a little hard to believe. The planet is a little darker for her passing.

I'm not writing about this to increase the post-Christmas funk that everyone seems to have. I do so because the picture of the hallway in my house reminded me of her. On the wall to the right is a little altar my husband made out of wood from a corncrib on my in-law's farm. Inside it are pictures of friends and family who aren't with us anymore. Her picture is still in the center.

More importantly, though, this post is about those questionnaires. People still send them to me. Sometimes they're way too damned long or I'm just way too busy, but I take the time to fill them out and send them back, because the person who sent the very first one to me inspired me to send it to KRH. And because she sent it back, I hear her voice when I read her words. What appeared to be inconsequential then..like the fact she preferred croutons over bacon bits on her salad... seems so very important now. So...here's a short one. If you like...send me your answers.

1. What's the name of the first blog you ever read? Dooce
2. Last concert you went to see? Adrian Belew (King Crimson) at the Granada Theater in Dallas.
3. Favorite books from childhood: Harriet the Spy, Nancy Drew mysteries, Charlotte's Web, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The Diary of Anne Frank.
4. Do you feel guity when you don't blog for a few days? Yes.
5. Do you play an instrument? piano
6. If you had to grab four famous people (living or dead) and have them over for a fantasy dinner, who would you invite? Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks. Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman.
7. Name a recent frustration involving self-discipline: I used to be a good runner. I finished a marathon in '98 and two half marathons. Now I can barely run a mile. I need to get back on it, but I need a good running partner again.
8. Favorite food: Chinese or steak and salad.
9. Would you consider yourself more politically conservative , liberal or middle-ground? The last five presidents I voted for were Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Clinton and Dukakis. I live in Texas so that makes a liberal and a freak of nature.
10.
What bloggers have you met? I already knew Shrinking Violet, Reading and Rock, so they don't count. I'm waiting for the announcement of the B-List Blogger Convention so I can meet others.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

It Was the Best of Times

Thanks to TB for the gorgeous ornaments. These are shells from Sanibel Island, Florida. TB added a little Christmas shimmer to them and tied them up with ribbon. Mignon organized this impromptu ornament exchange, and it was a real thrill to communicate with people outside the limits of blogging. More pics to come as I teach myself how to competently operate my new digital camera.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I'm Dreaming...

MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY 2006!

I think I believed in Santa until I was about 10 1/2 years old. Maybe 11. Little things here and there were starting to add up for me, and I was suspicious, but I was also incredibly naive. Tragically naive. Way more naive than kids today. I was an ALL DAY SUCKER. Here's an example:

When I was about nine years old, I asked Santa for a guitar. I didn't know how to play a guitar. No one in our family knew how to play a guitar. I don't think I was asking for lessons...just the instrument. Most likely, I just wanted something that looked and sounded...sorta...like the real thing. Anyway, Christmas morning I attacked my pile of gifts the way a shark goes after chum. Right there, in all of its glory, was a guitar. Now, the stuff we opened on Christmas Eve was from Mom and Dad, but Christmas morning belonged completely to Santa. I picked it up and noticed that the area where the tuning keys are found had a word engraved on it. That word was SEARS. I said, "Hey! Why does my guitar from Santa have Sears on it?" And our father, the man who would tolerate nothing but the unvarnished truth from our lips said (very quickly), "That's the name of the elf who made it." I believed him. Completely.

I'll be checking on you guys here and there, but I'm going to take off a few days and wrap presents and visit with family. Shrinking Violet and I might meet up and, if we do, she is going to show me how to add a blogroll to my site, so I can send out some linky love to all the people out there who make the blog life such a pleasure.

Be safe and...whatever and however you choose to celebrate during the next week (Christmas, Hanukkah...), I hope your time with family and friends brings you back to the blogosphere relaxed and refreshed. Take care!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Guilty Pleasures


I've had a thing for the hero of Arthur Conan Doyle's tales for as long as I can remember. Many Christmases ago I asked for (and received) a navy blue hardback volume of Sherlock Holmes stories. It was an abridged kids' version (I was a kid), but I read it all the way through several times. I don't know where that book is now, but it would be nice to have the volume that started my long-lived obsession.

Since then I've purchased (or have been given) several copies of The Tales of Sherlock Holmes and I dig into them every now and then. But what made those stories come alive for me are the old black and white movies that starred Basil Rathbone as Sherlock and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson. All were made in the late '30s or early-to-mid '40s. What started out as old radio programs blossomed into movies...14 altogether and each one starred Rathbone and Bruce. I own 13 of the movies and am anticipating the 14th ("Pursuit to Algiers") to arrive on Christmas Eve.

You don't see these movies on cable much...even on Turner Classic Movies, except during the Salute to Basil Rathbone Week. Once, when I was teaching, I took a personal day of business (rather than call in sick) so that I could watch a Sherlock Holmes Film Festival on cable. I didn't get up for about eight hours except to get lunch or use the bathroom. I did not own a VCR in those days and not everyone did. Teachers got paid crap (and still do), so I couldn't afford to buy one that I could use to tape stuff watch it later.

Some say that the PBS version of Holmes (Jeremy Brett) is better and truer to the vision of Conan Doyle. Perhaps. I guess that's like saying that brown rice is better for you than macaroni and cheese. But I'm comfortable with mac and cheese and it makes me happy, and the same goes for Bruce & Rathbone. And on a rainy day, two out of my three sons will sit with me and watch. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Countown to Love


The fabulosity that is Ms. Darlene Love will appear on David Letterman this Friday night, December 23rd. (10:30 p.m. Central). Ms. Thing (Thang if you live in Texas) will belt out her traditional "Christmas Baby/Please Come Home" and it is a spectacle NOT to be missed.

In the presence of her powerful pipes and musical magic, all anger will cease. The blind will see, the tone-deaf will hear and the Spirit of Christmas will descend from the heavens and slap you silly with the enormous Holiday Harp of Harmonious Hallelujahs. (Okay...Christmas Harp...for all of you who are drinking Bill O' Reilly's "War On Christmas" Kool-Aid)

And ALL the people will say, "AMEN!"
Five days and counting. You have been warned.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Product of the Month


Hail to thee-- Dyson Cyclonic Vacuum Cleaner! Thou art truly a miracle of technology. Thou hast made my life more bearable. Yea, tho the carpets be filled with leaves and dust and all manner of crapulous bits of nastiness, you set things to rights with your quiet-but-powerful suction. Even the children...male teenagers who delight in filth and destruction...take pleasure in the transparent canister and find time to hoover up all manner of objects from their bedroom floor--if only to watch them spin around in the cylindrical repository.


I am not a housewife. I do not have OCD. I do have a powerful German ancestry that makes my need for clean surroundings non-negotiable, and I am married to a long-haired man. (See Flickr pic at bottom) His hair is lovely to behold and outshines mine in growth potential, lustre and sheer tensile strength. It is, however, a BITCH to suck out of the carpet.

His mane is responsible for the untimely deaths of two Hoover uprights and a small DustBuster. Even the hose attachment for the ShopVac holds no sway over his stubborn locks, once they've fallen from his head and taken root in the carpet. For years we were reduced to cutting off layers of his hair from the roller of the vacuum with a pair of manicure scissors in order to release it from these hairy restraints. I was also called upon to wrap packing tape around my hand and run it over the affected areas of the carpet in order to totally remove the hair from the floor. I was dangerously close to buying a box of cafeteria-lady hairnets and forcing him to wear them in the house.

And then this lovely English fellow decided that the contemporary vacuum technology was lame and thus designed the Dyson and we were released from the bondage of futile carpet hygiene. Not only are the floors hairless and pristine, but my children's vacuuming skills have been strengthened by a real enthusiasm for the process. You can't buy that kind of a miracle. And...I believe the Dyson also sucks with an English accent. Delightful!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Six Degrees of...you know

There are just too many things going on right now. I'm consumed with finishing the fireplace mosaic, which is turning out to be less of a pattern and more of a random assembly of shapes. Whatever. I have neither the time nor the patience to be reflective or funny in a post. Maybe it's because my oldest son had a car accident yesterday while taking a bunch of friends to lunch. Everyone's okay, but the car has been mightily compromised. The good news is, he wasn't driving his car. The bad news is that he WAS driving his brother's car. I'm grateful no one is hurt or dead. Really. So grateful that I want to cry. More good news is that there is a way to fix all of it without our insurance (all male drivers...except for me) sending us to debtor's prison. The bad news is that it's still going to cost a bundle. I'm trying to keep my perspective in this.

But this season is already so infested with panicky feelings of being late with everything. Christmas cards have not even been picked up from the printer. More than half the shopping is still to be done. Book banning harpies surround my daily volunteer library activities at the youngest son's school, and well-meaning relatives keep sending me pictures of a decorated Christmas tree with the reminder that I must NEVER refer to it as a holiday tree or the Baby Jesus will smite me. Truthfully, though, I do feel lately as though I've already been smited. Smote? Smitten? Anyway, I never called them Holiday (read: Holy Day, people. Say it with me now) Trees before, but now--you know---what with all the mindless hysteria and all I have half a mind to just say it anyway. HOLIDAY TREE. There. I said it. But I digress.

I really just mean to outline why I started blogging...aside from the pathetic need to express myself to a wider audience. I can trace it all to one man...Pulitzer Prize winner, Michael Chabon.

I'm a big fan of his work ("Wonder Boys" and "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay")...so much so that I also became interested in his the work of his wife, the public defender/ writer Ayelet Waldman. For a while, Waldman had a blog, though she quit writing on it some time ago. Her website indicated a number of websites that she visited regularly, and one was called The Imperfect Parent.

I enjoyed that site so much that I looked at the websites they listed. One of those was Dooce.
Dooce (Heather Armstrong) is like the Mothership of all bloggers. I read her every day.
Dooce disabled her comments on her site, so all anyone can do is read her posts, but she mentioned the website of another blogger in one of her posts. That led me to a huge world where people write and others comment and, if that commenter has a site, your computer bookmarks become uncomfortably stuffed with webside addresses. It can...and frequently does spin completely out of control. You can spend hours reading and commenting. And I did just that.
Soon commenting isn't enough. Commenting is the gateway drug for the verybally inclined. I had to have a blog of my own. And now, I do.

So there it is in all it's abbreviated glory. The story of how and why I started blogging. What's your excuse?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Our house is a very, very , very fine house....

Experimental shot of the Northeast end of our house. The kitchen lights are on and the moon is overhead. It's beginning to look a lot like...well...you know.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Burning books will probably be next

Here's an update about the book banning I mentioned. Some of the fundamentalist mothers from my sixth grader's middle school have now decided to take a more criminal turn when it comes to ridding the library of books they don't like.

To those who haven't heard, there's a series of books for girls (I don't have girls so I don't remember what they are...I'll find out) that are approved by the school district. About eight mothers have decided that they want those books removed. Principal and librarian both won't budge, since these books are approved. They tried running it past the PTA board, but no one budged. The principal tried to tell these moms that the procedure for formally requesting books to be taken off the shelves requires paperwork and offered that paperwork to these women. So far, none of them will fill out the papers.

What they decided to do was to allow their daughters, one at a time, to check out the books they don't like and then simply....not return them. Technically, a "lost" book requires payment before a person's library privileges can be reinstated. The same would be true for an overdue book. Maybe they'll do that, but these women are using their daughter's library record as a way to execute their criminally-bent protests. They've told us in the past that if we want to-- the rest of us can buy the book or let the kids who want to read the book check it out of the public library.

Why can't they just tell their kids that they can't read the book and leave it at that? Why must it be prohibited for EVERYONE ELSE? This is the same brain trust that thinks Harry Potter promotes sorcery.

Here's the saddest thing: We're a Title One school. The kids in this school who come from upper-middle class homes are the minority here. Our library is not the biggest and getting a book re-ordered, approved, processed and shipped back to the school takes time, money and more employees than our school district is presently willing to pay to keep the public school libraries running the way they should. That book won't be back on our shelves until next September, if at all.

I guess stealing is only wrong if you're NOT a fascist.

What's Christmas without a little tension?

I am setting myself up for failure. Why am I doing this you ask?
Because I've convinced myself'
that I work best under pressure.
I've been carrying this picture around with
me for over a year. It's the fireplace of some
artist who cut about eleventy-three million little pieces
of tile to make this really detailed fireplace front for her home.
I thought I could do the same.

I've been saving dishes and tiles for about
three years in order to do this very thing. Why
did I decide to attempt this artistic feat two
weeks before Christmas and exactly one week
before we host a big party in our home? Have
the pics been developed for the family
Christmas card? No. Have we finished
our shopping? No. Have I finished the
five commission pieces that are due by
the middle of the week? No. Do we still
have to paint the main hallway? Yes.

Even though I know my fireplace can't
possibly look like this one, I'm
overwhelmed to the gills.
I think I'm going to go ahead
and reserve my room at the Betty Ford Center or
just an entire suite at Trembling Hills,
because I'm going to need one or the other soon.
Maybe just a little glass of chilled "Fat Bastard"
to take the edge off.....
********************************************************************************
You were sent to Earth as God's dark angel of laughter. Well done, Richard Pryor.
Rest in peace.......

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The 23rd Psalm: Christmas Version


The bag o' salad is my shepherd, I shall not want.
It alloweth me to graze in green pastures and the produce section at the local grocery.. It encourages me to drink 8 fluid ounces of de-stilled waters with every meal, which restoreth and hydrateth my soul...and body.

It leads me along the path of healthful eating, for its name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of ass-widening/gut-growing Christmas foods, I fear no evil: for Dole and Fresh Express are with me; thy Iceberg and Romaine, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies--namely carbohydrates and sugar; thou anointest my field greens with balsamic vinegar & oil--or Ranch!-- and my bowl overflows.

Surely increased fiber and weight loss shall follow me all the days of my life: and I shall be able to shoehorn myself into a pair of size 8 Levi's forever. Amen

Friday, December 09, 2005

Blogtherapy Meme

MooAlex tagged me for my first-ever meme. I've been given the following 10 words and I must respond with the first word that pops into my head. Here goes:

1. purple...........grape
2. round............bead
3. nature..........leaf
4. fame.............talk
5. men..............suit
6. creative........paper
7. pain...............squint
8. power...........noise
9. joy.................laugh
10. fate.............grade

Tell me, Dr. Freud. What does it all mean?


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Almost Yesterday

December 8, 1980.
A girlfriend and I decide to go sit in our college dorm's sauna after dinner. The halls are quiet and a little dark except for the occasional strand of Christmas lights. People are studying for finals or they're just gone for the evening. Some people will graduate in a few days and have already hit the bars. The Dixie Chicken is full this night.

We get our fill of the steamy heat and the relaxing smell of cedar and we step out into the dressing room where a radio is playing the last part of John Lennon's "Imagine". It's not on especially loud, but there's a DJ talking and then the song "War is Over". Two songs in a row by the same artist makes us curious. It's Christmas so I turn up the sound while we change into warmer clothes and shake the dampness out of our hair. Again with the DJ, only this time I hear the word dead and I turn it up. The station was KLOL in Houston and the voice tells us that some loser has just shot and killed John Lennon. The DJ is crying and we are stunned.

Had he lived, he would be 65. Just imagine.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Feministically Incorrect





That's me on the far left. The gal in the middle who is NOT flashing her panties at the camera is my middle sister. The stiff one on the end with the glassy stare is the plastic prototype for my youngest sister who would not come along for another three years..
Obviously, the picture was taken at Christmas many years ago before color film. Okay...not THAT long ago. This Christmas was important to me and the non-flasher for one reason and one reason ONLY....Exhibit A: The Barbie Dream House.

I don't remember even asking for it. Maybe I did, but I was too young to read the catalogs. Maybe I just screamed and pointed. This was the first real house ever made for Barbie, and it was --brace yourselves--made totally out of cardboard. I know...today's kid would probably open up something like this and start screaming for a lawyer...or take it out into the yard and start kicking the crap out of it. But in those days...and again--I'm not talking Little House on the Prairie here--this was the top of the heap. Not exactly Laura Ingalls' corncob doll.

Barbie was a teeny, tiny Princess Di and her house was Windsor Castle....cardboard or no. Sure it was a bitch that the cardboard legs of the sofa collapsed early and often under the weight of Barbie's enormous.....um....cleavage, but the non-flasher and I got one house apiece. Plus little Barbie clothes with tiny metal snaps or buttons...none of that velcro shit. And this was "back in the day" when no one was smart enough to tell parents that two-year old sisters might enjoy putting the precious little plastic shoes in their mouths. Amazingly...no one died.

Eventually, we moved on to other Barbies and other houses. I don't know what happened to this particular house. I never acquired a Ken doll, so my Barbie (whom I named Betty Wallet for reasons that escape me now) always had to get married to an "invisible husband" whenever we pretended to have a wedding. I couldn't get too worked up about Ken. He was useful for the ceremony, but afterward...I just couldn't commit my limited Christmas or birthday budget to his boring clothes. And I had it bad for Barbie's clothes and accessories. Tiny phones, sunglasses and little clogs made out of real cork. It was LIKE A DRUG. I could and did play for hours.

I played with dolls for much longer than girls do these days. Just like girdles, fake nails, all-in-one bras and 'HO-heeled shoes, Barbie is now seen as an icon of repression and sexist standards. I understand all the other stuff, but Barbie...not a feminist? Sure, this doll helped to set impossible standards for women in the "endowment" department, but in all the time I played with her I never worried that I didn't measure up. Hell, I was a kid with a body like a stick of gum. Barbie was a woman...or...a woman-shaped doll anyway. I knew there was a distinction. It could have been an issue later when, at age 20 I still had a body like a stick of JuicyFruit, but I never blamed it on Barbie. And how could I? This doll lived the life I couldn't. She ate what she wanted, stayed out all night, wore make-up, drank champagne, slapped the living crap out of invisible Ken whenever she felt like it and never once had to iron his shirts.

Suppressed? Maybe your Barbie...but not mine.

Monday, December 05, 2005

New York Stories, Part I

This is 26 Washington Square North in New York City. At the time this picture was taken, half of the top floor was the home of my brother-in-law and his wife. I have no idea who lives there now.

This was right after Christmas, so lights were still up everywhere. It was cold during our stay and there was still snow in places on the ground. I had been to New York a couple of times before, but I had never stayed with anyone who actually lived there. I think you have to do that to really get the feel of it. I fell deeply in love with the city of New York and--for me-- it was one of the few things whose reality --which I had built up in my head through books and movies-- totally lived up to the fantasy.

When I hear the word Christmas I get a split image in my head. The first is, of course, the family-type Christmas in the wide-open spaces of the Lone Star State. Except for a brief stint in Virginia (where I was born) that I don't remember because I was only about three months old and my eyes weren't focusing yet, I have always lived in Texas. I've never spent Christmas anyplace else. I didn't plan it that way...it's just how it turned out. It was always a time for family and, now that we have kids, that is still true. The focus is pretty much on them...and that's fine.

But there's another Christmas. It's the New York Christmas, and that one involves the life we had before kids when we were more "free to move about the cabin", as it were. This particular trip, our post-Christmas gift from the BIL and his wife was a nighttime chamber orchestra concert aboard a barge that was strung with tiny white holiday lights and docked near the Brooklyn Bridge. Days were spent haunting the museums or the Strand Bookstore (8 Miles of Books) on Broadway and 12th. We had Chinese at Joe's Shanghai in Chinatown which now , because I'm a creature of habit, is where I have to eat EVERY TIME WE VISIT. We walked everywhere or took the subway. One night we went to visit a friend who lived in an old apartment house on Eastern Parkway and played zither for the Blue Man Group. It all seems kind of dreamy now, but it was wonderful.

We've made many trips to New York since then and, until the last one, they were always without kids and I think that has reinforced the "When Harry Met Sally" notion I have of the city. It seems like a dream because, in many ways, that time doesn't exist anymore. The couples we saw while there have all split or moved away. Everyone has kids and some are in college now. NYC has undergone changes, too. At least two buildings are gone in a sudden and violent way and the lives of several thousand people have been changed forever. We, all of us, worry more.

I'm grateful for everything and everyone (okay...not EVERYONE) I have in my life, and even though our kids' future is what occupies our thoughts almost daily, there's still enough of my life left to offer wonderful possibilities,too. When I hear the words, "Merry Christmas" I do think about the lights and the time at home with my husband and the three adolescent Santa non-believers. That's a given. But I also think about that night on the barge as it bobbed gently on the water and the sound of violins rose to meet the sounds of the traffic on the bridge. If it's possible to have two "happy places" at once, I think I have my two figured out.

What's your happy place?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

"And your name would be......?"

If you're not a reader of the NYTimes Weddings pages, you need to get yourself on over to Veiled Conceit and soak up some of Zach's contemptuous treatment of all things matrimonial. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that "ya gots to be somebody" if you want to have your nuptials announced on those hallowed pages. Now I love all things New York, including this fabulous paper, but the truth hurts and the truth here is that pretention is alive and well when New Yorkers of note decide to announce an engagement or a wedding.

Not only is it in your best interest to have a lot of street cred that sounds really big and important with four syllable words and the like, but your parents (why does anyone care who THEY are?) had better be less than three degrees of separation away from the Getty family if they know what's good for them, because their names and occupations are mentioned as well.

It would be extremely helpful if the bride or groom's father's last name started with "Sir" or ended with"Esq. or one of the mothers should be surgeons or entrepreneurs who are responsible for the invention of of such labor-saving devices as the "FlowBee" or "Seal-a-Meal".

And the mamas who don't have jobs don't get mentioned. They're just the MRS in front of the old man's name. Now, that's just WRONG, people. But there's more.

Every Sunday features a blow-by-nauseating blow focus on one couple. How they met. Their courtship. The million-dollar wedding ceremony in Rockefeller Center during which a hundred white doves were released into the sky where they flew in a heart-shaped formation into the sunset. The wedding pages themselves are a riot, but Zach's acid-penned instant replay makes this one of the best blogs around. Check it out.

Friday, December 02, 2005

This One's For You, Major Chapter

I just returned from a run during which I listened to my favorite cd by the fabulous O'Jays and considered the autumnal wonder that is Texas in early December. While the rest of the world is getting a White Christmas, trees in the the Lone Star State are really only now figuring out how to display colors other than green or brown. When they finally do, it's wonderful...but that's not all I thought about while I was beating the streets.

No, dear reader, I was having second thoughts about something I did yesterday. I told an old boyfriend where to find my blog.


All together now: "Hu-what???"

There may be those of you out there who can't decide which is dumber: 1)to be married and still be friends with loves from one's past OR 2)to give them daily access to the inside of your head by telling them where to find your blog. And you'd be justified to consider having me committed to the Ike Turner Women's Center for Mental Health if I were anyone else, but hear me out on this.

My husband and I didn't marry until we were both 27. Between us that's 8 years of high school relationships, 8 years of college entanglements and 10 years of living on our own as adults. That's a lot of water under the bridge....or boy/girlfriends under the...uh...bridge. Whatever. We both arrived at this very happy marriage (a term I still think is an oxymoron) with....you know...a past. And, at the time we came together, we were both still on good terms with a lot of those people, despite the fact they had moved on with their lives and so had we.

Now, convention almost demands that, after marrying, you throw out all evidence of anyone who ever occupied a space in your heart, but my husband and I could not do that. Many of these people had become friends...some in just a Christmas card exchange kind of way, but several in a very real way.

My husband's last really serious girlfriend is now a close friend of ours. So close, that when our kids were very little and we were driving to California in our old VW camperbus, we stopped overnight to stay with this woman and her husband and kids. We have a great picture of the old girlfriend and my husband as they bathed our oldest son and her oldest son together...both toddlers. And when an old boyfriend was stationed in Turkey for three months shortly after finding out that he was to become a father, I went with his wife to get the sonogram and amnio done that would reveal their only child would be a daughter. We consider these former loves to be more like family.

These people were important chapters in our lives. They helped to make us the adults we are, and I believe they're due some credit for the success of my present marital bliss. No, it wasn't all wine and roses with those other folks, but some of it was really nice. There were good moments there and lessons I can't forget. But I'm not talking about all the "chapter" guys in my life right now. I'm just talking about Major Chapter.

See, most of the other chapters mainly taught me that guys could be vermin when they wanted to be...as well as when you let them be. And I did. Too often. Over the years, I got really good at playing the "wronged woman". I never thought about my own role in the destruction of the relationship. MC taught me that I could also be the "wrong woman". He was a pretty decent guy. Sure, there was that time he told me he hated these purple overalls I used to wear, and that stung because I really thought I was rockin' those pants in a major way. Otherwise, though, it was pretty good.

Both MC and I attended a university that isn't known for encouraging creativity. It's mostly a place for people who use the left hemisphere of the brain, so finding another person who got jiggy with the written word was like finding a rare coin in a pile of subway tokens. At least...that's the way it seemed at the time. All it really was was that we both connected at one really important place...and that was writing. We talked ad nauseum about becoming writers and, in fact, we were often better on paper than we were in person. We had a damned thrilling relationship in our letters and I think that those often spoke to the "idea" of who we were, rather than the reality.

But my relationship with Major Chapter was flawed not only because we really weren't meant to be together, but because I acted like a heinous bitch with a man yo-yo that I could throw out or pull back at my slightest whim. I fed off of the drama of being in control for once in my life and have since learned that the best relationship is one where NO ONE is the BOSS (Sucks to be you, Phyllis Schlafley and all the other fundamentalist Stepford Robots) and I was cavalier about the words "I love you" and I hurt someone in the process. MC showed me that I was capable of being insincere and that I could be guilty of asking for expressions of genuine affection when it was convenient for me and rejecting them when it wasn't. It had NEVER occurred to me that I could be wrong.


And for that, I am sorry. I've said it before and I'm saying it now.

So MC and I went our separate ways. He's in a committed relationship(with a woman I've met once) out on the West Coast and I'm here raising three sons with the kind of man I never thought could really exist. I'm a better person and a better woman, partly because the man I live with shows me every day what I'm capable of in the best sense. But it's just as valuable a lesson to know what you're capable of in the worst sense. MC let me see that about myself.

So there it is. During an e-mail about something...music...politics (we totally hate the way the other votes and that isn't going to change)I revealed I had this site. And the rest is just bloggety goodness. I think.

So why did I do it? Maybe it was a peace offering. I'm probably committing verbal Hari Kari by exposing myself this way, but it'll open up the lines of communication, if nothing else. And there's the need for approval because...I DID become a writer. I've been doing it for the past 14 years and this blog is just the latest installment. And I wanted him to know that and maybe test the writing waters himself, because that's where he was in his element. Maybe that's something I can do for him. Either way, it's all good, and now I'm ready for lunch.

"People all over the world, join hands.
Start a Love Train...Love Train" (O'Jays)









Thursday, December 01, 2005

Squinting from the pain

I'm taking a breather today as I'm recovering from a sinus headache powerful enough to bring down a horse. I've got my head next to a humidifer (and the moisture is taking years off my complexion!) and that has me a little preoccupied. In the meantime, ShrinkingViolet has started a blog. Go give her some love and I should be back on my feet tonight.