Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Yes Virginia, Er Liam, I Do Believe...


So, Liam hops into the car after his after school program and a long freaking day at school. He, the opposite of 50% of this family, gets more and more keyed up by expending energy with people all day long and getting tired. In fact, the more tired he gets, the more impossible it is to get him to a) make sense and b) shut up...a lovely combo at bed time, but I digress. This is not about his personality or sleep issues, nor mine, this is about something he said to me right as he hopped into the car after day care. Right, back to that...

"Mom, not everybody believes in Santa, right?" Says Liam, innocently probing his inveterate honest mother.

After thanking the baby Jesus for letting him ask me in such a way that there was an easy truthful answer, I slowly proceed, "Yes Liam. Not everybody believes in Santa..." Then, I wait...knowing he's tired and talkative, he will fill in the blanks without me saying a thing...I am just hoping he doesn't go there. You know where. To that no-man's land of white lies all parents dread. Yes, there is a Santa. Yes, I believe in him. I start panicking that he will indeed go there, so I head him off at the pass, "Do you believe in Santa guy?" (did I mention Elena was also in the vehicle?)

"YES!" They shout, the relief palpable in their voices.

Phew, I breathe a silent sigh of relief and head down a gleeful path with them, "Yes, you will find kiddos that in this world there are believers like us and skeptics. Do you know what a skeptic is?" They both shake their heads. I explain, "A skeptic is a doubter. One who has trouble believing. It's ok though, the world needs both believers and doubters. The doubters are the ones who question everything. They perform tests and do experiments and research. They search far and wide for answers. Sometimes they find they believers were right to have believed all along and sometimes they find the believers were not, but either way, they ask the questions, and that's ok. But, here, in this family, we are and have always been BELIEVERS, haven't we?"

"YES!!" They again are in complete agreement and completely happy to have their Santa intact and their beliefs safe and sound once again.

Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Who Am I?

Last week, I went to a new psychiatrist. I had been going to my old one for eight years and never wanted to leave him, but he was seeing me for free and that arrangement wasn't really working out for him anymore. He always told me I was one of his "investments in the future." In other words, by working to help people, even if they couldn't pay, he was ensure the future success of our world. (Well, that was how I chose to interpret it. I suppose, it could have also been seen as a his investment plan...someday in the future, when he called in his debts, I would owe him a substantial amount of money...but, I digress.) This isn't about the old experience, but instead about the new.

My new shrink decided within a short period of time that I was bipolar. He's not the first to give me this moniker, so it was not as shocking as it probably could have been, but it was still a bit of shock. I know that I am a person with a lot of energy. Heck, I have to hike straight uphill every day for a couple of miles to be able to sit at my desk job all day. I might even characterize my personality as "bipolar manic" when I am excited about something or somebody. When I am engaged, watch out! And this new doctor engaged me making the likelihood that he would see me as completely insane all the more destined. We ended up having a two and a half hour session. We talked about his life and mine. We shared stories and theories. It was an enjoyable time for him and for me.

At the end of the meeting, a couple of doctorly truths were determined and stated:
1) You are bipolar, but I don't know how you have managed to survive and thrive so incredibly all your life...I don't know how you have been able to "pull yourself back from the brink" (he meant from the brink of an extreme bipolar manic flight or psychosis.)
2) No changes are going to be made to your medication because the regimine you are on obviously seems to work.

This all left me reeling.

In response, I had many questions that formed in the primordial soup of my brain over the next few days:
1) Why tell a person that they are diseased, if you cannot figure out how they have managed to avoid all the negative aspects of that disease?
2) If a person has been able to thrive and not suffer due to their disease, are they diseased?
3) Since I am on medication for depression, is that what has kept me from the "brink" or is it something else? God?
4) If nothing is changed in my "treatment" and nothing is changed by this meeting, other than the label I affix to myself, how and why does it change me at all?

It shouldn't. I am who I have always been. Hiking my mania/high-energy/busy-ness away and grounding and centering myself so I can live in a world with people who are not like me. No one is like me anyway, so why should I care?
(This post is dedicated to all the left siders everywhere living outside of the bell curve)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Grandmommy's Guest Book

Sometime back, I posted about Grandmommy's button box and how it used to entertain me for hours as a child. Equally entertaining to the adult me is her guest book (well, at this point really guest books since she has filled more than one). On the front hall table, which is a very traditional front hall table, there sits a very traditional, red guest leather guest book. The pages are onion skin thin and gold on the edges, and the book is completed filled, cover-to-cover with notes, quotes and well wishes from guest to my grandparents' houses over their lifetime.

Tonight, over my cousin's birthday, we got a little show and tell of some of the more exciting entries. Jim Lovell, who was the astronaut Tom Hanks played in Apollo 13, and others I can't seem to remember offhand. Tonight, the show and tell, was a note that was in the back of the guest book. I am posting a picture of the note and then below is the text transcribed in case you can't read it. It was from a friend of my parents' and a boyfriend of my aunt who wrote a letter for my grandfather so he could go down under the bridge in Paris and buy some weed. It was a letter "vouching" for his "coolness." It sets my imagination ablaze to imagine the conversations leading up to the writing of this letter and to wonder if the letter used...without further introduction:

This is XXXX X XXXX (my grandfather's name changed to protect the innocent). He'd like to get some dope off you (grass or hash only).

If you aren't paranoid about being approached by a straight looking, middle-aged guy trying to buy dope, you're a fool. But, he is your average IBM executive trying, and succeeding in bridging the generation gap.

This will be his first time, so give him at least a half an ounce of grass or two grams of hash. Just think if we can get all these guys turned on what a better place this would be.

Thanks alot (yes, he uses the dreaded ALOT). If you're ever in Boston, come out to Tufts University and look me up.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Strange Conditions...

Recently, while I was getting my haircut, I heard a very funny story regarding a condition caused by iPods. Do you remember when you were a kiddo and had bouts of swimmer's ear all summer long? Well, it's making a rigorous comeback throughout the land. Apparently people of all ages, especially in cities where donning of headphones before one leaves their house is key to survival, are getting swimmer's ear from not fully drying their ear canals after their morning shower and before inserting their rubbery ear buds. Doctors are seeing swimmer's ear crop up EVERYWHERE, at all times of year, with alarming prevalence. A new disease for adults. A very modern disease. A very hip one.

And then there's my texting wrist. Oddly, when I had my BlackBerry devices for years, I had NO wrist pain, but the slightly slender Droid Pro has sent my wrist into a tizzy. Goodgle "Droid" and "wrist pain" and you will see how popular this pain is. It's carpal tunnel syndrome attacking the masses. No longer just reserved for those with jobs requiring repetitive strain, we now have hobbies and methods of communication that cause repetitive strain. This isn't even considering the strain texting causes on relationships...

There have to be a myriad of other of these modern diseases that I have yet to hear about...Facebook depression? Xbox seizures? TV vision? Who can come up with some? How else is our modern technology harming us?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

It occurs to me that I am a special sort of bird. This thought occurs to me many times a day, but here, on my 41st birthday, it's again prevalent in my thoughts. Here's why...I am a person who usually throws my own birthday party. I don't plan it absurdly in advance, but at least weeks, and I usually throw it for a group of friends, family and family friends on the weekend closest to May 14th. Now maybe this isn't odd-bird behavior, but it's what I've always done. Perhaps it's because I want to make sure that the venue, food and company are exactly what I desire, or maybe it's because I am a control freak. Who knows? I just know that I almost always throw myself a party. This year, however, was an exception.

I'm not sure why, but I just didn't feel like celebrating. And, before you start supposing it's that the ripe old-bat age of 41 has got me down, think again. I have always believed birthdays are just a day to celebrate me and haven't really been hung up on the actual age since probably my 21st. Personally, I am only one day older than I was yesterday, when I would have called myself 40, so I am pretty sure it's not the trauma of turning 41.

And before you imagine me depressed and forlorn, sad and lonely, let me dash that imagine from your mind as well. Although I'm not feeling quite as upbeat and positive as usual, I am certainly not down in the dumps. I am just sort of low key. It's like I just eradicated any expectations for my birthday and then have been just sauntering through the day.

There's a part of myself that keeps checking in with myself to see if I am ok (those of you who are not as weirdly out of touch with your emotions, will not understand this statement, but those like me who need to literally "check in" with themselves to see what they are feeling, will totally get it), and my self seems to continue to say, "I am fine, just chilling, just calm. I am fine with spending the day with my kiddos doing family stuff. I'm ok with making my own birthday cupcakes. I'm even ok with cooking my own birthday dinner and doing loads of laundry and cleaning house on the auspicious occasion."

I wonder if this is what it's like to grow up completely? But then, one tiny little thought entered my brain and it's what drove me to write this blog. What if the only person who really wants to celebrate me IS me? What kind of a thought would that be? Depressing? Scary? Realistic? And, then I started to get kind of glum. Don't other people have friends who would be sure that they were not alone on their birthday night? Don't most people's friends throw them a party for their birthdays? Do mine not just becuase I always have done it myself?

But, my sisters both offered to come down and create a party around me. I declined.
A friend invited me over to have s'mores around her fire. I decided I would rather be home.

So, I sit here on the night before it (thankfully) is no longer my birthday and ponder, and being the ebullient optimist, I come to this conclusion:

I am an odd bird. I have always thrown my own parties with lots of friends of all walks and generations around me. Because I didn't do that this year, I am alone. No one is worried about me or concerned, because they know me. They all probably suspect I am having a wonderful dinner with friends, am being taken out, or am being treated like a queen. I would assume that as well. I'm the type to be out having a ball on my birthday. Oh well.

Happy birthday to me.

Monday, May 02, 2011

It's a Virtual Dinner Party

I was just thinking about Facebook yesterday: why I love it so, why it suits my personality and how I use it. I came to the conclusion that it's like a big online party where all the conversations that are being had are visible at the same time, all my friend groups, from all walks of life are there and I can ask any question and get a response at almost any time of day.

This weekend I saw a movie and they previewed another movie while I was there. I decided I REALLY want to see it. I immediately thought about posting it on Facebook..."Anyone see this yet?" On Facebook, the responses would most likely be many within minutes. If I wanted to efficiently accomplish this same goal at a party, I would have to wait until a weekend day when I was invited to a party, wait until the subject comes up in conversation, and then repeat this process and infinitum until I had found at least one person who had seen the movie. Wait. Wait. Wait. Anyone who knows me knows this is not a strength of mind, that thing called patience.

Facebook is a world of online gratification that is absolutely perfect for a praise junkie like me. I love to show and tell about my life. It can be a bit much, this passion I have for reporting on the details of my life, and Facebook it turns out, is a oversharer's paradise. I photograph pictures of my food (hey, I grew up in an Italian family who orbited around their next meals) and people "like" them or post about them. Some even tell me how crazy I am for always posting pictures of my food (like I don't know this).

Facebook is an outlet for my overzealous self-centeredness. But, ironically, it has helped me to be less self-centered and more self-confident in my offline life. People exposing their idiosyncratic thoughts, passions and quirks online has helped me immensely to deal with a host of inner wackiness. It's also a great place to try out jokes and stories. If you post something and it gets fifteen likes and a bunch of comments, maybe it's something that has been beta-tested and can be pulled through the looking glass and into real life.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Local Streets

When I was in high school, we had a talent show. One of the kid bands that performed was "Local Streets." I remember having no clue that that was a reference to the signs, as you are driving on the highway through the Bronx...instead of saying "bypass" and "business district," the signs that lead you off locally say "Local Streets" above them. Anyhow, this blog is not about bands, high school, or even New York City, it's about local streets.

Ever since I have started using GPS on my trips, I can stray. I am no longer prisoner to highways and easy routes. I can meander and get as lost as I want. I can explore and find little neighborhoods and town parks. I can feed my curiosity for finding out what an area is REALLY like. You probably suspect and maybe, if you travel a lot, know how similar the beltways, byways and suburbs of all US cities look from a fast moving car.

In a related post, I can also get myself into a completely dangerous neighborhood without having a clue beyond hearing gunshots and seeing women working the corners. There are both benefits and drawbacks to exploring the local color.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Religion of Peeps

Or...false idols? Which is it? Peeps. They come out at Easter. Their advent, tortuous during Lenten restraint and fasting, eventually hails the coming of our Lord. Their bright, neon colors herald Easter morning...in uniform, marshmallowy lines, they patiently await the risen Christ. Alleluia.

Pretty over the top, no? Not to Liam. Liam, who does inherit his mother's tendency toward the obsessive, was completely and utterly locked onto the concept of Peeps on Easter morning. We even had a little altercation which ended in a packet of Peeps finding themselves dramatically at the bottom of the trash can. Liam could not escape his muse. Not fewer than a hundred times, he spoke of his love...Singing, muttering, and conversing of nothing but the small marshmallow birds for HOURS.

My favorite of all his lines was after I tried to insert a lesson between his courtly love songs. I tried to tell him that the Easter Bunny, like Santa, comes to help us celebrate. In this case, he helps us celebrate Jesus rising from the dead. Liam, wove this beautifully into his dramatic fawning. "Peeps are the greatest ever! They are the best at helping us remember Jesus!"

Clever boy. Peeps for Jesus. Way to find a loophole.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wishful Thinking

Frederick Buechner, one of my all-time favorite religious writers, once changed my life with a little book called Wishful Thinking.

Today, this quote spoke to me...It reminded me of my gnawing hole theory from some time ago.
"Part of the inner world of everyone is this sense of emptiness, unease, incompleteness, and I believe that this in itself is a word from God, that this is the sound that God’s voice makes in a world that has explained him away. In such a world, I suspect that maybe God speaks to us most clearly through his silence, his absence, so that we know him best through our missing him."
— Frederick Buechner (Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons)

But, what I like about Buechner's quote is his absence makes the heart grow fonder supposition. This is not to say, "chuck God and all He is and you will find him." But, it is to say that there is a place in all of us that is empty and seeking. This drain hole, whirlpooling down, sucking into it all with which we would hope to fill it. Nothing fills it and it is precisely this that allows it to be filled so completely by God. Better contentment comes for having felt the panic and unease of that "gnawing hole" and its gnawing hold on us.

"Whether you call on him or don't call on him, God will be present with you."
— Frederick Buechner

Saturday, April 16, 2011


This is my favorite week in the Christian calendar -- Holy Week. It holds on each side of it contrasts and marks our transition from death to rising, darkness to light, sin to grace. I love the wholesomeness of this week. You even get the bonus of a Passover seder supper thrown in in the middle quite often. It's like a round meal.

And of the entire week the precise pivot point that is my favorite is the Easter Vigil service. This is the moment when we await the moment of transition. The service is rich with symbolism. The lights are off, the altar is unseen, then, after the lessons are read, we celebrate the resurrection. Lights are flipped on, the music changes from solemn to ebulient. We walk away, basking in new life.

Matthew 28:1-10
Jesus Is Alive

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.

His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow. The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men. Then the angel said to the women in reply, "Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.

He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.' Behold, I have told you." Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples.

And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.

Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me."


Friday, April 15, 2011

Gleeful Child

Last week, I went out and bought myself a treat with a tiny bit of my winnings from my NCAA pool. I went out and purchased Glee Karaoke Revolution for my Wii. I got to play with it for exactly one day. It was very fun, but now it belongs to Elena. She's in Glee club, singing happily...ALL THE TIME CONSTANTLY. I've created a monster.

And now, in addition to joyful singing of the same ten songs all day long, we also have our first crush on a movie star. She's "in love with" and "wants to marry" the one who sings Defying Gravity and moves really fast to Push It. Chris Colfer, who plays the flamboyantly gay, Kurt. She doesn't even know his name, but today wanted to make sure that some day she could change her name if she were to someday marry "that guy from Glee who I'm obsessed with."

Today she scared me a little bit by telling me she really, really wants to kiss him everytime she sees him. Yikes. But, before I freaked out too much, I remembered Ricky Schroeder (for this was in the day of Silver Spoons, before he was too cool for Ricky and became just Rick). I just loved him. Posted a picture from the local newspaper TV Guide, in black and white on my wall (yup, no Tiger Beat for this gal). I used to kiss it every night and, to this day, I remember the LONGING, such incredible optimism that I would get to meet him and kiss him. Somehow, someway.

So, this is all normal, right? Right. Except, then I realized I was 12 when Silver Spoons came out. Oh. Gulp.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Recompensory Gifts (Alternative Title: Can't Buy Me Love)

I've been left with a bitter taste in my mouth for days about the mommy debacle of last week...missing the Special Friends Breakfast. If you didn't see it, read back a few days and you'll see it. I have been wracking my brain to come up with something I could do that would make up for my actions. I toyed with the idea of eating lunch with her at school (MOM! Too embarassing). I was going to bring in a "Special Friends Snack" for her whole class, which she agreed to, but then didn't give the teach the note which informed her that I would be coming in....hmm...

So, I finally decided on donating some books to the classroom library with an inscription from Elena's special friends. I picked two of her favorite books and then one by one of my favorite authors.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sunday Dinners

When I was a little girl, I remember heading to my Grandma and Grandpa's every Sunday for Sunday Dinner. Sunday dinner occured at approximately three or four in the afternoon and in the winter was held around the giant expanse of dining room table. Whoever was in town was invited, there was always enough to go around. Grandma loved to cook and Grandpa loved to carve a roast. I would stand by as he carved a fresh ham or rib roast and beg for scraps like a puppy. The top of the fresh ham always had little squares scored in it, was rubbed with garlic and salted and peppered to perfection. Grandpa would flick a postage stamp of crispy crackling off and hand it to me dangerously on the end of the carving knife. As the square of fat melted on my tongue, I was in heaven.

But it wasn't just about the food. There were family walks and games in the yard. There were afternoon movies (one showing of The Blob with Steve McQueen left me night-paralyzed with fear for months after). In the summer, the meal was moved to the screened in porch. The glass top table had ironwork around it on which I always remember barking my knees when pulling my chair in. Summer fare, was fresh tomato and basil from Grandpa's garden with olive oil (always Pompeian). There was always dessert, often just ice cream, but we didn't have dessert at home, so this was another big deal.

I don't even know how many times we went to Sunday dinner, but in my memories, they were a fixture in my early childhood. I remember the Sunday we brought our new puppy, Samantha, in a box between my sister and me on the back seat, to show off to everybody.

And now, my kids are making these same memories, thanks to their auntie my sister, who is spearheading this revival of our childhood tradition. They go to their Grammy and Boppa's house for Sunday dinner each week. There are walks with Grammy, exploring the lake and hunting for treasures (rocks and sticks, mostly). There's a room that is mostly an attic that they call "Beantown" because it's where they go on rainy or cold days to get their beans out. Elena calls it "Beanstown" because she doesn't catch the reference to Boston and because she is way more literal, being only six. It's carpeted with an crib and twin mattress. There's a stool for launching from and at guardrail to stop them from rolling off. Sometimes there's a game or we bring our Wii.

Most often there are many generations present at Sunday Dinner. This can make for some politics, but every bit of political unrest is worth it for the traditions we are forging and the memories we are painting.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

The School That Cried Wolf

Does anyone else feel overwhelmed by the number of missiles, fliers, notices and booklets sent home from their elementary schools? I do. I have reached capacity. Plus, with me, her dad, and so many other caretakers always emptying the backpack, sometimes things get missed, and because of the sheer volume of incoming mail, things are bound to. Unfortunately, this week I missed something big.

Never mind that I had to work. Never mind that when I saw the notice that said "Special Friends Breakfast" I thought it had to do with special needs kids. Never mind, that I remember doing a quick read of the flier and thinking it had to do with signing your child up to outreach to incoming kindergartners. No never mind all that, I screwed up big time. It turns out the "Special Friend Breakfast" was a time for the kiddos to invite one special person from their life into have breakfast with them. Elena was one of only two in the class that didn't have a special friend present at the event.

How did I find this out? She just opened her folder and pulled out a beautiful little butterfly magnet she made at the breakfast, while sitting by herself. She wrote a sweet note to her special friend...it said:

April 8, 2011
Dear Friend,
Thank you for being the best friend in the world. I hope you like my letter and the breakfast. Also being kind to me.
Love, Elena

My heart hurts.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Scariest Thought Evah

Last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I had a really frightening thought. Let me set the scene a bit first. I was snuggled up in bed, reading. Right before picking up my book, I used my phone to check emails, Facebook and tomorrow's weather. Then, after reading, as a last activity before drifting off, I shut off the light and checked Facebook updates. I often can be seen hunkered down under the covers, hand, claw-like gripping the phone, blue glow on my face from the tiny screen.

Anyhow, this time, the question I posed myself was ridiculous. Of course I knew the answer, but I it literally panicked me to think about it. I asked myself to consider what if I was forced to choose between having a cell phone, having MY Droid Pro and my kids. Of course I would choose my kids!! What if I had to choose between Facebook and my kids. Again, of course, I would choose my kids. Computer, kids? Kids!

It wasn't that I didn't know the answer, but the panic I felt at the prospect of losing any of my connectivity. My gut reaction tells me this addiction I have to technology is serious. I decided to put this question in an imaginary jar on an imaginary shelf with other thoughts to be considered later. I pulled it down this morning and started this blog. In the light of morning, the thought is not threatening anymore, but it is still an interesting one to consider. I asked myself, why does it panic me so to think about losing this connectivity? And, how could I lessen this addiction?

The first question is pretty obvious as to why. Many of friends exist only in an online world. For a long time, I lived with a man who wasn't into socializing and suffered from depression. I cultivated online relationships as a way of connecting with the world around me. I have even met some of these people in person and found the friendships to be as true in person as they were in the virtuality of my computer screen.

As to how to lessen this attachment, that's a harder question to consider. The first thing that springs to mind is to cultivate more in-person friendships, but sometimes I just don't have time for in-person...I only have time for a five second status update and then the stream of responses that come in - conversations held over a day long period of time, instead of intensely over a lunch or dinner.

My second thought is to impose some time constraints on my usage. Do I need a timer to set? Should I turn off my phone at night when I get home so I can focus on time with my kids? Should I not use my computer until they kiddos are in bed? Probably. I think there are a lot of changes I can make on this front and today, with the opening of an imaginary jar, many ideas, like lightining bugs are buzzing around me.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Dr. Dylan, Er, Mooney....

When I started up with new healthcare, I had to find a new dentist. I don't know about you, but I absolutely LOATHE finding new health practitioners. The only thing worse than trying to find a new dentist you like is finding a new therapist you like! But, I digress. I usually hit the AMA site and check out where my doctors went to school as some guide. This time, however, I tried something else. This dentist was different. He had a website.

It was the page about his dad that got me. I had to go see this guy. He's quirky, but he's wonderful. He's efficient, but yet makes you feel like he has all day to spend with you. He wears slippers in the office, it makes you feel like he's invited you over for dinner. He talks about interesting things: parenting, movies, pop culture and music, especially Bob Dylan.

Boy, does he love Bob Dylan. I have been to see him three times now and never has anything besides Bob Dylan been playing. Today, I had myself in chuckles trying to decide whether the whine of dental drill actually drilling my tooth, or the nasally, repetitive sound of Dylan whining over the speakers was more annoying. But then I thought about it, I wouldn't want him to play anything else. I love that when I come over to his place he wears his slippers, and that sometimes he doesn't have anyone working the front desk, so I hear my name being called out from the back room over the sound of a drill, "Kristen?"

Yup doc, it's me. I'm here and feel lucky to be able to come over and hang out for a half hour or so...even if you did find a cavity and have to drill it out.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Confidence Welcomes Contempt

I am working on another crackpot theory, but it's not fully formulated yet. The crux of it is that people who move confidentally through the world, receive more criticism from their peers than those who are not as assured. The flip side of this equation is that those that are insecure and lacking in self-esteem and self-confidence, tend to be the arrow slingers of insults and put downs. Their discomfort of themselves so colors their view of the world, that they cannot see the positive attributes of others. They hone in on weaknesses. If the self-confident character has cultivated their ability to rise up above the miasma of negativity around them, the low-self-esteemer will find the one insecurity or Achilles heel of their target that will bring them down. Why is this?

The theory I am working on is not THAT this relationship exists between the two personality types, for I believe it does, but why. I have lots of thoughts that have not yet gelled. I would welcome your thoughts on the subject. Why do you think? Also, state what personality type you think you are in your answer. Thanks!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

This Just In: Typewriters Are Hip?

The New York Times reported this last week:
Why celebrate the humble typewriter? Devotees have many reasons. For one, old typewriters are built like battleships. They survive countless indignities and welcome repairs, unlike laptops and smartphones, which become obsolete almost the moment they hit the market. “It’s kind of like saying, ‘In your face, Microsoft!’ ” said Richard Polt, 46, a typewriter collector in Cincinnati. Mr. Polt teaches philosophy at Xavier University, where he’s given away about a dozen typewriters to enthusiastic students and colleagues.

Another virtue is simplicity. Typewriters are good at only one thing: putting words on paper. “If I’m on a computer, there’s no way I can concentrate on just writing, said Jon Roth, 23, a journalist who is writing a book on typewriters. “I’ll be checking my e-mail, my Twitter.” When he uses a typewriter, Mr. Roth said: “I can sit down and I know I’m writing. It sounds like I’m writing.”

And there’s something else about typewriters. In more than a dozen interviews, young typewriter aficionados raised a common theme. Though they grew up on computers, they enjoy prying at the seams of digital culture. Like urban beekeepers, hip knitters and other icons of the D.I.Y. renaissance, they appreciate tangibility, the object-ness of things. They chafe against digital doctrines that identify human “progress” as a ceaseless march toward greater efficiency, the search for a frictionless machine.

That doesn’t make them Luddites. For many younger typewriter users, the old technology rests comfortably beside the new. Matt Cidoni, 16, of East Brunswick, N.J., keeps a picture of his favorite machine, a Royal No. 10, on his iPod Touch so he can show it off to friends. Online, he is a proud member of the “typosphere,” a global community of typewriter geeks. Like many of them, he enjoys “typecasting,” or tapping out typewritten messages, which he scans and posts to his Web site, Adventures in Typewriterdom. One of his favorite typecasting blogs, Strikethru, is run by a Microsoft employee. In Mr. Cidoni’s world view, there’s nothing technologically inconsistent about such things.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Mr. Cidoni said. “I’ve got an iPod Touch. I’ve got a cellphone, obviously. I’ve got a computer.” He also owns about 10 typewriters, which he uses for homework and letter writing at — get this — speeds of up to 90 words a minute. “I love the tactile feedback, the sound, the feel of the keys underneath your fingers,” Mr. Cidoni said.

Tom Furrier, who owns the Cambridge Typewriter Company in Massachusetts, has sold several typewriters to Mr. Cidoni and said that high school and college students have become a staple of his business. “I kept asking, ‘What are you kids doing here?’ ” he said. “But it’s been this growing thing. Young people are coming in and getting in touch with manual typewriters.”

I am having trouble swallowing some of this. Not because I didn't used to love to drag out Dad's old typewriter from the basement to "play office." Certainly not because I don't like words, or even the objectness of things. No. It's this whole concept of "thinking better while using a typewriter" that is lost on me.

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine you are writing a big proposal or paper or story...Now imagine you have to get it right the first time. You have to have an iron clad outline in your head. You have to think through every word before you write it down. There is no CTRL-C and CTRL-V. Even bolding has to be preconceived. Maybe it's the way I work, but the only thing I can imagine getting right "real time" is a journal entry where words can be less exact and the order of thoughts on the page isn't completely integral to their meaning.

Plus, typewriters are so heavy! Just when we've finally gotten laptops down to a reasonable weight why on earth would I want to lug a Smith-Corona with me? Reminds me of this old blog.

I think typewriters have their place. They are great toys for kindergarteners. They are great fun for playing office. The clicking sounds they make are great if you are trying to make a pretend news cast and want the sound of a news ticker in the background (yes, I have used them for that in the past, too). For now, I'll keep my Word and backspace and cutting and pasting. If that makes me unhip, it would not be the first, nor most likely the last, time.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Mooned Over My Happy Meal?

I used to get a chuckle out of the Denny's meal "Moons Over My Hammy." But, today I got a chuckle over the real deal...as I was pulling into McDonald's, a teen (probably only about fourteen or fifteen) gave us a full moon. I was so taken aback, I annouced it to the car. "Oh my! We just got mooned!"

Of course, all the little people in the car wanted to know what a moon was and I had to explain (since I had been the only one visually privy to the sight). "It's when, as a prank, or just because they're being silly, someone pulls down their pants and sticks their fanny out, showing it to the world." I laughed, but then, realizing I probably wasn't setting the best example (I have many parenting moments like this), explained the concept of indecent exposure.

In my mind, I was picturing my children as pubescents and thinking that mooning the passing cars from McD's front lawn was fairly inocuous. There are so many things teens can do that are worse, vandalism, sex in someone's car, drinking, playing games of real bodily danger, or even just sulking miserably. These kids were being silly and light and the brave mooner was getting a real kick out of himself. It was all in good spirited fun.

As I was reflecting on this scene later, when the kids had gone to their dad's and I had time to rediscover the thinking part of my brain, I realized one of the reasons that my mind is so open to mooners. I grew up in a family where mooning was silly and good fun. I remember a caravan of cars going from the ice cream shop to home and my mom mooning out the slanted back window of the Pacer. I swear I even remember her father, my grandfather mooning someone!

No wonder, I thought to myself, I come from a long line of mooners.

Further Understanding of Momzilla

I am reading the book The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell and am just basking in new information. I am apparently ten years late to this party, but appreciate it just as much as if I were reading it just off the press. The information in it is timeless, the thesis interesting and the examples absolutely riveting to me. The more I read, the more I realize I am a person who thrives on learning about how people and communities work. I bet I would have really enjoyed taking a Sociology class!

Anyhow, that long introduction is distracting me from my real mission here today. Something I read in this book, on pages 148-149 to be exact, has given me insight into my mother-in-law. In the past, I have written, incredulously I might add, about the actions of Momzilla in my life and marriage. Previous blogs can be found here and here and here and here.

One of Momzilla's pervasive characteristics is that she always wants to get to the bottom of things. By bottom, I mean BOTTOM. She doesn't just dig a little and let it drop, she digs and wheedles and needles until she breaks you. She breaks the people she loves. She breaks strangers. She breaks acquaintences. She breaks sales clerks, accounts receivable and customer service reps. Anyone who has to run counter to her. She tries to bring down the world around her to convert them to her viewpoint, persuade them to see things her way, or to pinch a penny.

I have long been perplexed by this behavior. First of all, it's so self-important. That YOUR opinion or YOUR belief or YOUR concept of what is right to be paid, eaten, worn, driven, etc. is the only way, shows such a narrow-minded viewpoint. But also, it cannot make Momzilla happy. It seems, in fact, to make her miserable. The complaining, the ire and the railing that are the outpourings of her incessant challenging of the world must be exhausting. But why? For a long time, I figured it was because she needed to make others unhappy because she was so fitfully unhappy. So uncomfortable in her own skin, she couldn't bear to see anyone else at rest. She needed attention, needed to mobilize the world to her end.

A concept I am going to transcribe from The Tipping Point below, pretty much agrees with my theory, but takes it a bit further. It's a quote about the Bernie Goetz, the man who, in the early 90's in NYC, shot four black youths on the subway fairly unprovoked, or at least his reaction of shooting them was a bit more extreme than the situation warranted. This is about where in NYC Bernie chose to live, in one of the seemliest neighborhoods in Manhattan. See if you can see what this passage revealed to me:

Bernie Goetz chose to live in a neighborhood that was falling apart...seductive to him because of its deficits and discomforts it "provided him with a comprehensible target for the rage that lives inside him. By focusing on the external world, he need not deal with his internal one."

Monday, March 28, 2011


Elena and I are having a thing. It's a math homework issue. She can't "get" money. And I can't "get" that she can't "get" money. It's so incredible frustrating for me, I hear my voice raising to fevered tone. I get all pitchy and whiny. I hate the way I sound. I find myself gesturing, very Italian-like with thumbs and fingers outstretched and spread emphatically to make their mathmatical point. JUST.DOESN'T.GET.IT.

Tonight, we had the frustrating exercise of doing the same problem a couple of times over to practice, repetition being the best way to perfect a skill. Every time was like the first. I could feel the tension rising up my scalp. I could sense the tears ready to spring forth from her ducts...and mine for that matter. And then, looking at her little upturned countenance, I had a flashback. The flashback was to me, in first grade, trying to understand the precursor to multiplication, groups of.

Mom was on her knees beside me on the rust (oh so Seventies) colored carpet of our downstairs playroom. She had the poker chips out and was making little piles of two or three or four. She was grouping chips in piles and then making multiple piles. She was using the term groups of. I did not hear groups of, I hear something else. Here is how it sounded to me...

Mom: "See Kristen, 4 little piles of 3 in each...4 grupsuf 3 equals....................."

Me, whilst staring at her completely blankly: "Um...3? 4? I don't know..."

Mom: No, no...see, pointing gently to the four little piles, "4 GRUPSUF 3"

Me: "What is GRUPSUF???"

I can literally remember the frustration and the knots I had in my stomach as she tried to teach me something I know she thought was simple. I could tell she thought I SHOULD be getting it. I wanted to get it. I was busy freaking out and constructing a large concrete mental block with the word GRUPSUF scribed across it.

Now I know why people hire tutors, so they don't have to have contentious relationships with their children over homework. So that these types of mental blocks are less apt to turn into family power struggles and so that parents can avoid completely freaking out that their kids are completely dense.

Ironically, my mother is now a tutor, dealing with everybody else's frustrated kids.
And, I am in sales and use math every day, although I still cannot say I use "grupsuf" all that often.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Back when I was married, all those many years ago, Patrick and I used to play a little game we made up called DOLS. When we were driving behind a car that was driving ridiculously slowly or weaving or careening off the road, we would call it...
D - Drunk
O - Old
L - Lost
S - Stupid

Then, if at all possible, we would try to catch up to the driver of the car to have our bet confirmed...many a losing moan was followed by, "Shoot! Blue hairs! I really thought they were drunk."

As of late, I feel compelled to add a new letter to the game. It's now become DOLTS
D - Drunk
O - Old
L - Lost
T - Technology Device
S - Stupid

It has become a frequent occurence to pull up beside a person weaving while texting on their iPhone or driving 12 mph while they set their GPS. Tonight, I thought for sure I had a confirmed D or T sighting. The Subaru in front of me nearly glided into the guard rail while entering the highway. When I was able to catch up, I noticed it was a middlish-aged fellow with a bird cage on the seat beside him. Unless that is a new form of car seat with which I am unfamiliar, I am going to have to consider myself a loser of that bet...I'm calling him S for STUPID...ugh...drive safely people, there are DOLTS all around us.

What if Life had a Like Button

Imagine if you will, a world where strangers randomly "liked" things each other were doing. When people stopped for you in a parking lot, or were patient in waiting for you to vacate a parking spot as you buckled two kids into car seats, LIKE. If someone drove by with one of your favorite songs blaring, LIKE. This simple action of liking each other, with no "dislike" button attached, could boost so many self-esteems each day. It reminds me of this old You Tube ditty I loved when it first came out...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Message from God

There is an app on Facebook that generates feel good messages "from God." Clearly, I don't believe God is speaking to me through Facebook, nor do I believe God speaks to us in words (outside of our own heads) except for the Bible...but, I did find my message today disappointing. In case you can't read it, it says the app is on pause...Apparently God stepped out for a coffee...If God were REALLY talking to us, would there ever be a system failure?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mandies and Jennies

Spring! 2011 055, originally uploaded by Kikigill.

Close your eyes and go on a little trip with me...

It's 1982, early one morning and Sister Casey, who would've just turned 6 and I, 11 (almost 12, which is embarassing considering the story I am about to tell) would wake up and amuse ourselves, as we had done for the last four or so years playing together. During this time, we played with dolls.

"Wanna play Mandies and Jennies?" One of use would say and we would be off. Mandy, the blonde on the left, was mine. She and Jenny, the dark-haired sprite on the right were twins. Sasha, in the middle, also mine, was the "older teenage sister." (Of course I should have realized I was only a couple of years from being the "older teenage sister" myself and opted to play Intellivision instead, but oh well).

There were often pregnancies and births. There was a mom and a dad. They were weird cloth dolls that didn't "fit" exactly, but we made do. The mother was always having twins or triplets and often Sasha was pregnant at the same time. She was loose a teenager...just couldn't keep it in her pants. Little harlot!

Recently, I made mention of it to my mother and she told me how she used to hate that game...How it turned every room in the house upside. Now, my memories may be colored by many things, but I do remember how completely elaborate the scenery and sets for these guys were. Beds made out of fifteen washcloths wrapped in a pillowcase. Kitchens where we prepared "real" food products. Just to emphasize the scope of elaborate and why this game might have messed up every room, look closely in the picture above. See the socks Sasha is wearing? Yup. I sewed them for her.

Do We All Have SADS?

I know I am prone to be a cantankerous wretch in the wintertime...my PMS gets worse, my interest in socializing, unless it's with the covers of my bed or my computer, drops to nil. However, I wasn't aware of how much this impacted all of us. Spring is in the air today and almost every Facebook status smacks of it:

"I saw the first crocus of the season. Wahoo spring!"

"Happy Friday!!! :) It feels like summer outside! So now it feels like I should be on summer vacation"

"feeling like I won the lottery today. gorgeous spring day"

"Didn't realize it was going to be this beautiful out!!!! Gotta get dressed and go out with the girls!!!!"

"What an awesome day! It's going to reach 70 degrees! Woohoo!"

"Oh, what a beautiful morning..."

What do you think?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?

Tonight I told Grandmommy about my memories of the button box and Liam got his box out to show her how fun buttons could be (which of course she was old hat at!). "Let's play a game, Mommy, with these buttons!" "Look at this one! Isn't it so pretty!" Grandmommy, the sneak that she is, went and produced her button box. The one! The only! The star of this morning's blog.

It turns out it is a handpainted tin that was given to her Christmas of 1948 by her godmother, Tat. We know this because it has her name inscribed on the top and Tat's signature on the bottom with a little evergreen bough...all handpainted. There is also a hand-sewn liner made of lovely paisley fabric. The buttons still hold interest, to the youngest generations, to me, and to her.

Grandmommy's Button Box and Grandma's Trinkets

When I was a little kid, I was full of energy. I should have probably even written that sentence like this...When I was a little kid, I had A LOT OF ENERGY! Anyhow, I remember spending a lot of time with my grandparents. My grandfathers would run me like a puppy...Grandfather let me ride in the little trailer behind his lawn mowing tractor letting me get showered by the grass confetti. Grandpa worked me in his garden, snapping peas, digging trenches...they treated me a bit like a grandson, but I loved every minute of it. I was calm when I was engaged in a project. Heck, I'm still like that! The grandmothers knew this trick as well, but their projects were different. They taught me to thread a needle, embroider at a young age using a burlap patch, sew on a sewing machine, and help hanging the laundry. But, at times when they wanted to shower or grab a tiny bit of down time, they each had a special little collection. I knew where it was. I could go and get it and play with it.

Grandma had a funny little white cardboard box, the kind a cheap bracelet might come in at Macy's, with two rubber bands crossed around it like a package. Inside was the most delightful collection of tiny little plastic animals. Tiny little monkeys, giraffes, and elephants in pink, orange and yellow translucent plastic. I thought they were treasures. Toys! Like Cracker Jack prizes! At the time, I had no way of knowing that they had been carefully saved from fruity drinks over the years. Each animal was once a drink marker, but now made one grandchild very, very quiet in play. I particularly remember these being the animals that would come out when Grandma needed a shower, which was perfect because my interest in them would last about the duration of one good, long hot relaxing shower. After five kids, Grandma must have learned a trick or two.

Grandmommy, my mom's mother, had a dusty, black tin full of buttons. She knew a trick or two, too. Just the miserly feeling of running my hands through the button piles made me feel rich. I would spend hours sorting and categorizing. Choosing some as favorites, casting others off as worthless...old shirt buttons in plain white for example. I bet, to this day, if I were to pick up this button box, I would be able to remember exactly which were my favorites and why. To be a really good button, you had to have some glitz, be bigger than the others, or look like candy.

Last weekend, on a lark, I picked up a wooden box and plastic bag of buttons at the craft store for my kids. As always, I spent way too much at the craft store. The buttons and button box totalled $7.00 at most. It is BY FAR the favorite purchase of that day. I got a bunch of projects to do, but we still haven't even cracked them. After days, the button box continues to amuse. I'm just glad the button box can hold a candle to the Wii and DS.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blog from the Past

I just found this "offline blog" I wrote on my computer while traveling. Funny, never actually blogged about any of these things I don't think.

It’s amazing how much less creative I am when I am offline blogging. I know I am a Praise Junkie (PJ), so maybe it’s the promise of connectivity that spurs me on? Maybe having a virtual audience makes me perform better? Who knows? All I know is that I am sitting here in Laguardia Airport, trying to find my writing mind. The thoughts are there, up there in the white space on my mind. I just seem to be having trouble getting them out. It’s kind of a constipating feeling.

So, instead of a well-formed, interesting blog, I will tell you all the ideas for blogs I have had in the last week. “But you have been blogging in the last week!” You interrupt to protest.

To that I would respond, “You’re right, my reader, I have been. But not BIG blogs. Big Sky thinking. No, just little stories of silly things the kids said or the digger I took where I ended up with mayonnaise on my face.”

In the last week, I have been thinking about blogging about:

1)Teenagers, the use of “like” and imprecision of speech at that age. Is it a mask behind which they hide? Do people actually get more and more precise with their descriptions and speech as they mature?
2)Boys who love trains, trucks and vehicles vs. those who love balls. Does the preference, as my mother predicts, mean something about their future personalities? Ball lovers being inclined towards extroversion and vehicle lovers being quieter, introspective types?
3)Overload of choice. I have been reading some articles recently about how overloaded we are as consumers by choices. Studies have shown that when the choices become too voluminous, we shut down. The complexity of choices overwhelm us and we rebel, deciding to not make a decision at all.
4)The ridiculousness of the word “green” and how it is woven into every ad campaign, new product development process, and pitch. People say 2008 will be known as the “green” year. This strikes me as completely inane. I believe strongly in the cause, but this beating a dead horse is getting so irritating. Yesterday, I saw a vodka advertised as green. I ask you, how is one vodka any greener than another? OK, sure, there are some corporate practices that could “help” one vodka to be greener, but this one had no good reason. How about financial institutions, banks and the like? Money is green. I think that’s where it ends.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Sometimes It's the Littlest Things...

Knock, knock...there was a rap on the door at 7:00 tonight. In bounds a friendly dog who immediately starts sniffing the place out. I don't blame the young man who brought the dog up to our door step for thinking he had found the dog's family by the smiling, happy face on the dog. Even my children seemed in on the charade, scrubbing the dog behind the ears as if they had known him for years. Chasing him around with squeals of laughter. But no, I assured the 22 year-old looking guy now standing in my kitchen, this was not my lost dog.
Clearly, this was SOMEBODY'S dog though. He was well fed (fat) and had a nice collar and tag. He was certainly socialized...at one point he almost jumped into my arms while smiling. He was jubilant. He was a blessing. So what if it took the kids an hour to calm down. It was worth it. Every doggy hair on my sweater and every sweet lick on my face.

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Hedge Maze Theory of Parenting (a reprise)

I recently read this FABULOUS Psychology Today article and am reprising an old blog on the same topic. Love that we use terms like "sanitized childhoods" and "helicopter parenting" to describe the latest parenting fad. Look at this brilliance:

Behold the wholly sanitized childhood, without skinned knees or the occasional C in history. "Kids need to feel badly sometimes," says child psychologist David Elkind, professor at Tufts University. "We learn through experience and we learn through bad experiences. Through failure we learn how to cope."

Messing up, however, even in the playground, is wildly out of style. Although error and experimentation are the true mothers of success, parents are taking pains to remove failure from the equation.

"Life is planned out for us," says Elise Kramer, a Cornell University junior. "But we don't know what to want." As Elkind puts it, "Parents and schools are no longer geared toward child development, they're geared to academic achievement."

And, then the KikiGill theory:
Imagine if you will, our lives like a maze - a very complex hedge maze (you know the kind where you might wander around for hours hitting dead end after dead end). Then imagine if you already have mapped a good part of the maze yourself. You know where there are dead ends and false starts. There are certain ways you just know won't work.

Now, imagine seeing someone we love, struggling with a part of the maze that we have often struggled with ourselves. Don't we want to shout at them, "Hey, that's a dead end down there!" or "Turn around, you're heading nowhere?" Of course we do, it is natural. We want them to know what we know and offer them shortcuts through their life. If we could, we might just take a big mower and mow a path right through the center of the maze for them so it will be easy for them to find the other side.

As parents, we have to remember that it is our children's job to learn that maze themselves. We have to keep them safe and clothed, fed and loved, but we cannot make them go or stop at will. In fact, part of that hedge maze for them is learning to escape their parents' grasp. When they are little, they might duck out of sight for just a moment and they might come running back to the beginning to kiss us or tell us about their day. However, as they grow up, they may hide for days in that maze. We have to let them go and trust that, when they come out the other side, they will be smarter and more adept at "life" for it!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Eeny Meeny Miney Mo

Eeny Meeny Miney Mo...
Catch a tiger by the toe...

Remember when all the problems of your world could be solved by this rhyme? It was unquestioned by all involved. It was unequivocal. It was just easier then back in the day, when I was small. "Awww man! I am NOT it. BUMMER!"

Why do I bring this up? Tonight, I told the kids I had had enough of them going to bed in a sea of stuffed animals and they had to choose four stuffed animals with whom to sleep. As tough decisions came up, I heard Elena muttering softly..."If he hollers, let him go...Dolphin gets to sleep with us!"

Now, I am imagining if the great powers of the world used such a system. Millions of dollars in summits, accords, peace talks and treaties saved by Palestine and Israel and the USA. Hey, it works on playgrounds!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Can You Imagine What He's Imagining?

In the car today after dropping sister off at school.

ME: "Liam, pretty soon you'll be coming to Elena's school for Kindergarten registration!"

Liam: "Yeah, I know! I heard kids at school talking about getting their registration packets in the mail."

ME: "Yup, and when you go, you get to take an assessment test"

Liam: "What's that?"

ME: "Well, you'll sit with a teacher and do some math and some reading and some..."

Liam: "...Talking?" (then muttering) talk talk talk, I can talk talk talk....

ME: "Well, yes, talking, too."

Liam: "OH GREAT! I LOVE TALKING!" Then it's quiet for a few seconds, followed by, "And I might have to jump over something really high and I might win?"

ME: "Well, maybe. I don't remember my Kindergarten registration."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

We Haven't Always ALL Lived on Venus

Further to yesterday's blog concept about us all being individuals and not from different planets, I have some more thoughts on what this means and what is happening in society right now that is both affected by it and affects it. So, assuming I am right that same sex couples everywhere struggle with being able to find apropos language that is not rooted in the archetypal male-female relationship, and that society has been moving towards more acceptance of same sex relationships, this leaves us with a new problem. The problem of same sex relationship equality, once accepted outside of our homes and individual relationships, then has to be integrated into our private lives.

Movements are like this. They start in a very public arena before moving inside our homes and lives and, lastly into our psyches and language. Think about the Women's movement. Women fought to build the legistlative platform to give them equal rights to men and won. The movement was a success. It took at least a generation of children growing up in this new order to be able to carry the concept into their homes and personal relationships. Think about it. Moms still struggled to work and make as much as dads. Women often still catered to their men inside the home. I would argue that, until recently, we hadn't really arrived as true equals. Equality inside the marriage and parenting relationships was the last to arrive. The role models afforded by society and our own families just didn't give us the tools, language and concepts we needed to enact this change.

This move toward acceptance by society of same sex relationships (which is still far from complete) is meeting with the same challenges. The role models we all have grown up with force us to bastardize and jury-rig (I had typed jerry-rig until I did a search on it and found out I meant jury-rig which I didn't know...imagine that) traditional relationship advice so it fits our unique situations. This is as simple as changing pronouns when reading a relationship-themed self-help book, or as complex as trying to eradicate entrenched values we were raised with from birth.

We have here a group of people questioning everything, re-considering stereotypes and seeking to apply new understanding to their relationships. No bad will come of this!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Women Are from Venus and Other Women Are Also from Venus

I've been thinking lately about something. It's a little bit of a controversial topic, but I bet you'll humor me. I HOPE you will at least. So, this is the thing. As, you all know, I have dated both men and women in my life. I have recently been putting together a little theory about one of the challenges that women dating women face. See what you think.

When women date men, we say the women are from Venus and the men are from Mars. And here is where my theory begins. It's a very convenient construct, when you don't understand where someone is coming from or they don't "get" you, to think of them as from another planet. You don't have to work through every little disagreement, sometimes it's easier and healthier to say they just won't get it because they aren't from my planet...they're a "guy." In saying they're a guy, we forgive and forget many transgressions. We let slide, we acquiesce, we compromise.

When women date women, they think differently. Women are quite aware of the fact that they are from Venus...that they ALL are from Venus. They are very relationship oriented. A group of female friends, for instance, will say that all their friends "get" them. So, when we date women, we get very frustrated when our partners do things that we find confusing, or when they just don't seem to understand us. We get even more bent out of shape, "But you're a WOMAN! You're supposed to think like me! Be like me! GET me!"

Traditionally in relationships, because they have been mostly male-female in our society, it takes some work to extrapolate beyond the acceptance of a husband or a wife merely because they are from a different planet. It requires an active thought process changing thoughts of, "Oh, my partner doesn't get me because they are of the opposite sex", to instead, "Oh, you don't get me because I am me, and you are you and we are different."

We are different. We are not just male and female different, but individuals.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Matricidal Suspicions?

I'm starting to get a complex. First, it was the book selection, Babar and Bambi...the mother is killed off in both stories. Slightly odd, since we only read two books a night, that the subject of both would be the death of the mother.

But then, I listened in on their game of stuffed animal play today. The theme? Duckie's mother had died. It was a sad, sad occasion. Poor duck, no mother anymore.

Should I take this all personally? As a warning? Sleep with one eye open?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The American Dream

Rode with a cab driver in Fort Worth this morning to the airport. While at first I was annoyed by his chatty manner so early in the morning (it was barely 5 AM), I warmed to him. He told me, with great excitement, how happy he was to be here. In America. In Texas.

He told me a story of a time when his four friends from DC came to visit him. They were coming to Texas to play soccer, but he knew them from home. They kind of put down Ft. Worth as being too small, too disconnected from what they saw as "real America," big cities. These fellow countrymen were incredulous of his quality of life in Ft. Worth. He told me over and over that they just plain didn't believe him.

The four of them shared a single room apartment in DC. He encouraged them to move down South. They wouldn't dream of it. He said he encouraged them to remember where they were from. Then he told me of the quality of life in his village in Ethiopia (well, not Ethiopia, his country actually splintered off from Ethiopia, but I asked three times and couldn't catch the name of his country, so, let's just call it Ethiopia, ok?). Here's what he told me of his country...

"I lived in a two room place with a family of ten. Mother, Father and eight children!" He then peered at me, eyes wide, voice dramatic to be sure I understood the magnitude of his description. "Three of the boys slept in one bed, the rest on the floor."

Now this man drives a cab and makes enough to rent his own two room place. He lives, according to the standards by which he was raised, like a king. He recently drove a customer home and they were building a new house. He told me he realized that he would, in this country, be able to one day own a house.

"In this country, I live like a king. I will one day own a house. And, because I live here and work here, three of my brothers go to school! I buy them 'exercise' books and send them fresh packs of pencils that I buy for under a dollar." (I didn't ask, but later it occured to me that he meant "workbooks" when he said "exercise books."

My response to his continued exasperation about his friends who would never consider moving to little old Ft. Worth, who just didn't get it and wouldn't better their situation by moving somewhere where the cost of living was more affordable, was this...Maybe, when people dream of leaving their home, their country, for a better life, they sit and imagine how that new life will be. In their mind's eye, they see different visions. Some see monetary success and comfort in their living space, some see big cities with lights and opportunities.

Electric Heat Drains the Coffers!

What does my reading public (all four of you) know about electric heat? I just sent this note to the electric company and would love to know any experiences/help you all have...

I need help. There is no way our heat and electric should cost over $550 a month given that 1) we are heating a place that is 600 square feet and 2) we are always cold and keep the baseboards set at medium to low.

Please help me figure out how to lower this cost. Is there a better rate I can get? Is there a state subsidized rate?

I have spoken to three friends who have electric heat and pay only $250 a month. Please help me get to the bottom of this as soon as possible.

I am going to have to talk to my landlord about putting in gas or oil heat at my own expense...at this rate it would pay back in a year!

Friday, January 21, 2011

We Salute you, Mr. PBR

So, we recently moved down the street from our old house and never would have guessed we were moving into such a new unseemly neighborhood! Well, it's not really the neighborhood that's unseemly, just the one neighbor whose back porch overlooks our little side yard.

I call him Mr. PBR because the morning we were first introduced was day two of living in our new place and he had moved in across the way the night before. I was sitting peering out my favorite window in the house, which had yet to be donned with curtains. It should have felt like I was on display, but instead seemed he was. It was nary seven thirty am and this neighbor walked out, cracked a beer and lit a cigarette. The sight of it turned my stomach. I immediately named him Mr. PBR for the Pabst Blue Ribbon he was drinking.

There have been many Mr. PBR sightings since that first one, every morning in fact. Let's just say curtains were a real priority. This morning, there was not only the breakfast treat of beer and cigarettes, but a lovely porn magazine, as well. Nothing like a trifecta of seediness to kick off the day.

So, to you Mr. PBR drinking in the morning, Homer Simpson pajama, porn reading man, we salute you...and pray you are not a pedophile.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Evolution of "Bwiends" to "Wii-maginary Friends"

When Elena was a little baby, some might remember she had a collection of rubber bath toy animals that she called her "bwiends" (friends). They went everywhere with her and filled her life with comraderie. Her imaginary friendships were rich and every bit as real as if she were playing with real preschool peers.

She doesn't play with bath animal bwiends anymore. In fact, I recently asked her if she even remembered her bwiends and she was hard pressed to recall them. Like real past relationships, they have faded in focus over time. Now, there's a new relationship in Elena's life. Her relationship to her Wii-maginary friends.

When we got the Wii for Christmas, Elena went to town creating Mii's for her and all her friends. She often plays bowling against friends from her class. She has set up avatars for all those girls she hopes to have over for play dates and sleepovers. I thought this was incredibly creative and endearing. Until...

To hear her talk about the friends' performances in the games is a bit disturbing (esp. as you recall that she is playing for herself AND them). I hear things like:

"Oh man! Gillian beat me at bowling! She's so good, she got a turkey!"

"Abby F. is not as good as me at this game!"

"OH MY GOODNESS, Emma just beat the top tennis score. I cannot believe it! I never thought anyone would!"